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A Storm of Ice and Stars by Lisa Lueddecke – Guest Post – Writing that Difficult Second Book


Today I’m pleased to welcome Lisa Lueddecke to the blog with a very insightful piece on why writing your second published book can be tricky.


Writing that Difficult Second Book

Writing my first book, A Shiver of Snow and Sky, was one of the most exhilarating, organic things I’ve ever done. The story came from me so easily, to the point where I could write more words per day than I ever had before, for any consistent amount of time. I was bursting with ideas, and trying to find room to fit them all into one story, working hard to ensure that any future readers, if I were lucky enough to get an agent and a publisher, would see the world as I saw it. Could feel the world as I felt it. I wrote obsessively, over long and delirious hours, unable to quiet the characters and the scenes floating around in my mind. I wrote from before dawn, until afternoon or evening. I sometimes carried a notebook with me, so I didn’t forget anything if I was away from my computer.

When I did get lucky enough to get an agent and a publisher, I got something else as well: a two book deal. Instead of just editing the first book and preparing it for publication, I had to then think about writing a second one. This was good for me, because I already knew the story, and I knew how it would fit into the world and the bigger picture. I knew roughly where I wanted to go with it, and I thought that I would sit down and do what I had done before: let the story take over, and just write. But instead of writing thousands of words a day, I was writing a few hundred words per day, maybe a thousand. I found myself being extra careful, second-guessing myself and my voice, and editing as I went along. I realized very quickly that it was a completely different experience than writing my first book, because I knew that this one would be published. People were going to read it, and I knew when they would read it, and it silenced that thrilling voice and that sense of excitement that had been so vibrant the first time around.

For me, it wasn’t a case of having run out of ideas. I knew my world well, and I knew what stories still lay beneath its icy surface, waiting to be told. Instead, I found the knowledge that, as soon as I was done with it, and sent it from my computer, people would read it. It wasn’t simply between me and my keyboard, and even though I had hoped to be published while writing the first one, I didn’t know if I would. I just wrote it for me. Being published changed my relationship with writing, and in a way, I think it had to. It is different writing with deadlines than with all the time in the world, and it’s different writing to be read than writing for yourself, at least in my experience. While this is something that I am still working on to this day, I did manage to get through writing that second book, and I’m taking the things that I learned into writing new things. Publishing will always have deadlines, and books will always have readers. My job is to train my voice to carry on, and to be brave enough to keep telling stories I love, even though some things have changed.

A few things I did to try to make writing my second book a little bit easier:

• I set up a designated writing space that I found inspiring, devoid of clutter or too many distractions.

• I would turn off my wifi from time to time to keep myself from checking Twitter or other social media websites.

• I would play music I found inspiring for that scene, or music that I listened to while writing the first book.

• I made sure to take walks outside, or to at least sit outside to get some fresh air. It always seemed to reset my mind.

It may not always be as easy as it was when I was writing my first (published) book, but in time, I can learn to let go of the worries and the pressures and just do what I love the most: tell stories from the heart, and then set them free to find their homes.

A STORM OF ICE AND STARS by Lisa Lueddecke out now in paperback (£7.99, Scholastic)

www.lisalueddecke.com

#ICEandSTARS

@LisaLueddecke

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I Swapped My Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons – Blog Tour Book Review

Synopsis

‘I can get a new brother? On the internet?’ Jonny muttered. ‘Oh sweet mangoes of heaven!’

Everyone has dreamed of being able to get rid of their brother or sister at one time or another – but for Jonny, the dream is about to become a reality with SiblingSwap.com! What could be better than someone awesome to replace Ted, Jonny’s obnoxious older brother.

But finding the perfect brother isn’t easy, as Jonny discovers when Sibling Swap sends him a line of increasingly bizarre replacements: first a merboy, then a brother raised by meerkats, and then the ghost of Henry the Eighth! What’s coming next?! Suddenly old Ted isn’t looking so bad. But can Jonny ever get him back?

About the author

Jo Simmons began her working life as a journalist. Her first fiction series for children, Pip Street, was inspired by her own kids’ love of funny fiction, and two Super Loud Sambooks followed. In addition to children’s fiction, she co-wrote a humorous parenting book, Can I Give Them Back Now?: The Aargh To Zzzzzz Of Parenting, published by Square Peg. Jo lives in Brighton with her husband, two boys and a scruffy formerly Romanian street dog. I Swapped My Brother on the Internet is her first book for Bloomsbury.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/joanna_simmons

About the Illustrator

Nathan Reed has been a professional illustrator since graduating from Falmouth College of Arts in 2000. He has illustrated Christopher Edge’s How to Write Your Best Story Ever and the Elen Caldecott’s Marsh Road Mysteries Series. His most recent picture book is Samson the Mighty Flea by Angela McAllister. He was shortlisted for the Serco Prize for Illustration in 2014. When he’s not illustrating he can be found with his two boys and a football on Peckham Rye Common.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nathanreed_illo

Website: http://www.nathanreedillustration.com/

What I thought

From the phrase Oh sweet mangoes of heaven, to this sentence in praise of naps, I knew I was going to love this fun and charming book.

Of course I love and adore my sister and never once wanted to swap her!!! Um… whilst that is true now when we were younger we fought so much that I’m sure both of us may have been tempted to try the service offered by Sibling Swap. Johnny and his brother Ted have just had a fight when he spots their advert and he fills out the form not really thinking about the consequences. What follows is a series of swaps with siblings that aren’t quite what he’d bargained for. I think my favourite was the ghost of Henry the Eighth and adults will love the little history nods in that section. And if you are a fan of 80s film Splash you’ll love Mervyn the Merboy.

Kids are going to love the silliness, burping, adventure but mostly… The Hanging Pants of Doom!!!

The story was naturally far fetched – especially the Mum’s reaction to her missing older son- but it made me smile a lot and comes to the inevitable realisation that perhaps our siblings aren’t altogether bad after all.

Definitely one to read out loud at bedtime with the whole family enjoying. (Note – parents may wish to study Meerkat noises before reading).

Now – which one is Fred and which is George again?

Thanks to Faye Rogers and Scholastic for the copy of the book for the purposes of this honest review.

The Inventory: Black Knight by Andy Briggs – Blog Tour 

Black Knight is the third book in The Inventory series that follows Dev and his friends as they protect the world from dangerous inventions and those that seek to use them. You might remember me taking part in the blog tours for Book one – Iron Fist, and Book Two – Gravity

Author Andy Briggs has kindly returned with a guest post on writing sequels, and I’ll share my thoughts on Black Knight too. 

The process of writing sequels in a series

 

The Inventory is my third series of books. My first venture was the HERO.COM and VILLAIN.NET series, and they were a huge leap into the unknown for me. I hadn’t written a serial before and this one was effectively two separate series – one hero, one villain – in which each book in the series happens the same time as the other. Effectively two parallel series in which characters and plot points crisscross from book to book. And there were to be eight books all together!

 

It was a nightmare to plot and I ended up with a huge map on my wall that looked more like a subway map, the interconnecting lines were individual character arcs bisecting at key plot points. It had turned from a book into a science project – but amazingly, it worked!

Tarzan came next. I thought this would be an easier series to plot as I had the weight of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ legacy to fall back on. However, that also made it a difficult challenge as there was a huge fan base that were very protective of the beloved character. The challenge was to create a new Tarzan that also felt familiar. That was a huge challenge I hadn’t bargained for.

 
 When it came to the Inventory, I was delighted to once again have a blank canvas, something I hadn’t had since Hero & Villain. It was a breath of fresh air to be able to create new characters, with their own flaws and quirks, and not have to be guided by the past, and having a more linear series fused the best of both my previous series experience into one. 


Looking back on my various series I think I have found the path I prefer – something new, something linear and something in which characters can grow and keep surprising me. I’m already in Book 4 and am delighted that I’m in a story that I hadn’t fully anticipated in Book 1, working with characters who weren’t even born then. That’s a nice place to be – after all, it’s the same place my readers will be as they turn the page… the future still unknown…

 About the Author


Andy has extensive experience working on multinational co-productions and has worked in comics, books, TV, film and trans-media projects.

Andy wrote and Executive Produced Legendary, currently the most successful independent UK/Chinese co-production. Released in China and grossing $5 million in the first week, with a theatric US release in 2014. With his brother he worked on Hollywood features such as Judge Dredd and Freddy vs. Jason and TV shows for the SyFy Channel and Netflix.

He wrote and co-created Secret Agents, a trans-media interactive spy experience for children, currently on at the Discover Centre, Stratford. He has 16 books and graphic novels published in the UK and around the world.

He has written 20 books and graphic novels published in the UK and around the world. In 2016 his latest feature, Crowhurst, will be released.

http://www.andybriggs.co.uk

@abriggswriter

Synopsis 

Dev and his friends are back with more mind-bending tech in this third installment of the Inventory series. 

The World Consortium is recruiting more agents to defend the most advanced technology the world isn’t ready for, and it’s up to Dev, Lottie and Mase to train them up for action. But will they be ready before Shadow Helix’s next strike? And has Dev uncovered all the secrets of his past, or is there more to know about his special abilities? 

What I Thought 

The playing field in Black Knight is spread wider still (we spend little time in the Inventory but the time that we do will have you on the edge of your seat…) and new players are added to the mix including more people Dev, Lot and Mason’s age. These new recruits are placed under the care of Dev and let’s just say not all of them like being bossed around, especially not by someone that keeps ‘spacing out’. 

Something strange is going on with Dev and his memory, when he keeps having flashbacks into someone else’s mind. The other thing that drives him to distraction is a boy who seems to have taken a liking to Lot. Personally I’m liking this development in their relationship and hope it continues next time. My favourite parts are generally those from Dev’s point of view. 

As ever the Inventory series is a fast paced thrilling read full of inventions and chases. There’s one particular chase that I really enjoyed, and I’m sure you will too. 

We also have a new enemy – one that has been around much longer, and that has a potential super weapon at its disposal. I won’t let on the ending of course only to say that…Cliffhanger alert! But that means there’s more to come and I know I’ll be reading on.  

Thanks to Andy for the story and Katrina at Scholastic for my copy of Black Knight. Opinions are my own of course. 

Check out the rest of the blog tour at the stops below. 


 

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