What does “YA fiction” mean to me?

I completely forgot that I was interviewed during Supanova last year! They’ve just posted the episode, so click on the video below to hear me chat about everything from what “YA” means to me, to my take on insta-love in fantasy fiction! (Plus some other fun answers!)

I’m up first, but after that you can keep watching to listen to the super-cool Vic Mignogna, or just skip straight to the end to watch the magnificent “God of Thunder” himself — Chris Hemsworth!

Three Weeks of Graevale Magic

The last three weeks have been filled with wonder after wonder, starting with the release of the fourth book in my Medoran Chronicles series. The Brisbane launch was held a week before the official release date, and over two hundred people RSVPd for the event (!!) which led to it being an incredible night! You can watch a recap of it here, along with a short Q&A I did with the lovely Jeann from Happy Indulgence Books:

There was also an AMAZING cake on the night (with the most delicious frosting!!) that displayed the tagline for Graevale — “Resist the shadows”:

Next up was the launch on the official release date — February 1st — at QBD Books in Maroochydore. So many people from all across the Sunshine Coast (and beyond) came out to the signing event, which was amazing! This is me with the seriously lovely QBD team at the end of the night:

Two days after that, I flew to Sydney for two launch events — the first at Galaxy Bookshop with a Q&A hosted by the lovely Annie from Read3rz Re-Vu:


… and the second at Dymocks Books with a YA Bookmeet hosted by the ever-wonderful Emily:

That was a HUGE day full of awesomeness and soooo many people — and I loved every second!

A few days later, I had the final launch event for Graevale at my local indie bookstore, Books of Buderim:

And all that brings us to the conclusion of the launch events! Since then, it’s been amazing news after amazing news, including the following: 

Graevale topping the charts at #1 for Australian YA Fiction!

– In its first two days alone, Graevale sold more copies than Akarnae did in its entire first year of publication (!!!!!)

– After only 9 days of sales, Graevale had to go back for another reprint because the astonishing amount of sales were clearing out the warehouse! 

On top of all that, just a few days ago I received the following AWESOME news:

I’m still in happy-happy-yay-yay land from seeing both Akarnae and Draekora on this bestsellers list (at numbers #1 and #5) and I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped put them there — thank you!!!

A few of the other exciting things that happened in the last three weeks include a visit to QBD headquarters in Brisbane to sign a gazillion copies of Graevale:

… and to just check out their fabulous warehouse full of books, which was SO cool:

And speaking of signing heaps of books, when I was in Sydney, I dropped around to my publishers’ office to sign a few hundred copies of Whisper in preparation for its release on May 1st:

So, all in all, it’s been a MASSIVE couple of weeks (all of this since January 25th!) and in the background I’ve been editing We Three Heroes (coming September 1st) as well as slowly drafting the sequel to Whisper… along with a heap of media responses and emails etc. So it’s been busy, busy, busy but suuuuuuuper wonderful. And I’m SO excited for everything that’s coming next in this huge year ahead!!

Again, thanks so much to everyone for continuing to support me and my books! You’re all amaaaaaazing!!!!!

AMAZING NEWS!!

Some really awesome news for this post! The first book in my YA fantasy series, Akarnae, has made it onto the Dymocks Books “Top 101” shortlist for 2018!! 

PLUS

Thanks to your votes, I’ve made it through to the final round of Booktopia’s “Aus Fav Author” – which is incredible!

BUT

All this means it’s now time to vote in these finals! I would SOOOOO appreciate it you could spare a couple of seconds by clicking on the following two links:

To vote for AKARNAE in the Dymocks shortlist:

https://www.dymocks.com.au/Votes/top-101-voting

To vote for me in the Booktopia finals:

https://blog.booktopia.com.au/2018/01/22/vote-now-finals-favourite-australian-author/

UNENDING HUGS AND IMAGINARY COOKIES TO EVERYONE WHO VOTES!!

Writer’s Block

“How do you deal with writer’s block?”

This is easily the most common question I get asked. But the very fact that so many people ask implies that it’s a real thing that writers struggle with, so I figured I should finally post my advice for all to read.

Do I struggle with writer’s block? Maybe. I’m not convinced that I do. I definitely struggle from “writer’s lack of motivation” and “writer’s procrastination.” But writer’s block? When you’re facing imminent deadlines, as the saying goes:

That said, there have been moments where I’ve hit a wall in my writing and have had no idea how to proceed. Things like characters causing unforeseen problems and plot holes that I don’t know how to write my way out of. And things like having no idea what to write next, or — worse — having too many ideas and not sure which is the best way to go. These things all make it really difficult to continue writing. They “block” the path, so to speak.

So, what do I do when I hit these blocks? Here are a few things that help me:

1. Get active

I’m not a natural plotter. Every time I’ve tried to plot out a novel, it hasn’t worked for me — my characters decide they want to go in a different direction to what I’ve planned, and they drag me (kicking and screaming) after them, trailing ink and paper in my wake. (Okay, not really, but you get the visual.) When this happens and I have no idea where they’re taking me or how to write their journey, I find the best thing I can do is to get outside and get moving. Something about being active really helps get my “creative juices” flowing, the stimulation of exercise heightening my imagination. Personally, I like to get my heart pumping for this to be most effective, but if you’re not inclined towards that kind of thing, then just a relaxing walk in the sunshine can do wonders for your creativity. Go to the beach, go to the mountains or the forest or the field or wherever you live, just get outside and amongst nature. Breathe it in, still your mind, and let the ideas flow naturally. Some will be inspiring, some won’t, but they’ll all help nudge you forward so that when you’re back with your laptop or notebook, you’ll have some motivation to press onwards.

2. Read a book

This is the oldest trick in the book (excuse the pun). There’s nothing more inspiring than reading a (good) book. There have been way too many times in my life where I’ve been reading something and have had to put it down just so I could stare into space and think, “This. This is the kind of magic I want to create for people.” There’s something so incredibly motivating about being inspired by the words of others. (Also, when I’m really struggling with my equivalent of writer’s block, I’ll often re-read an old favourite, knowing that it has encouraged me in the past, rather than risking a new book that may not be wonderful enough to give me the push I need.)

3. Spend time with family and friends

Don’t be so hard on yourself — sometimes the reason we struggle so hard with writer’s block is because we’re pushing ourselves too hard. The “I should be writing!” reprimand is dangerous, because the more we say it to ourselves, the worse we feel, and the harder it is to actually get writing. So, don’t. Instead, do something you love. Spend time with your family or your friends and just experience the world. Gain a fresh perspective. Go easier on yourself, and soon you’ll feel ready to give writing another shot. Rinse and repeat.

4. Seek entertainment

Don’t underestimate the power of a good movie or TV show or game. These are all called “entertainment” for a reason, and the power of storytelling is strong in them. Like reading a good book, it can be incredibly inspiring to watch or play something, and like exercising, it can relax your brain enough for your writer’s block to unblock.

5. Get creative

Do something else on the creative side of things that is unrelated to writing. Buy one of those colouring books. Paint or sketch something (or even just doodle). Knit something. Act out a scene from your favourite book or movie. Bake something. Pick up an instrument or sing along to your favourite tunes (it doesn’t matter if you’re tone- deaf — just have fun and belt out those notes!). Do some scrapbooking. Go out and take some photos. Just do something — anything — creative.

NOTE: If you’re up for it, try and do something that is related to writing, but not the project that’s causing you problems. (For example, right now I’m at a sticky spot in my current manuscript, so I’m writing this blog post instead. And now that I’m coming towards the end of it, I’m already feeling refreshed enough that I’m ready to get back into the manuscript!)

6. Just do it

This last point is the one you won’t want to read, but I have to add it from a “tough love” perspective. I’m sorry to say, sometimes you just have to give your own butt a kick and, as Nike’s slogan encourages, “Just do it.” By this, I mean, just write. Write messy, write bad, write nonsense. It might (and likely will) be awful, especially if you’re so blocked that you have no idea what to write. You’ll probably cringe your whole way through it. But — and I promise you this — you’ll eventually write yourself out of your block. You’ll reach a place where you find some momentum, and your story will start coming together again. And that’s when you can go back and clean up the messy words that got you from the bad place into the good place.

Writing is mostly about discipline. Hopefully it’s something you love to do, but it’s also hard work. And like any hard work, it is mentally and emotionally draining. (Sometimes physically, too.) So when you reach the point where you’re blocked, where you can’t go on, where you don’t know what to do, sometimes you just have to make yourself get on with it. That can be challenging. No — that can be impossible. You may want to rip out your hair and scream at the top of your lungs. You’ll consider throwing your laptop out the window. You will likely want to give up. You will have self-doubt and, on the worst days, self-loathing. It’s painful, tiring, endlessly frustrating.

But… if writing means something to you, then you have to take the hard days with the easy days. You have to press on and push past whatever is blocking you, and more often than not, it’s that writerly discipline that will get you through. To use the common exercise example, to strengthen any muscle, you have to work it. Over and over again. Same with your writing muscle — to get through writer’s block, you have to keep writing. Over and over again. No matter how difficult it is, no matter how messy the result. Because, as Ernest Hemingway says:

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

The Medoran Chronicles: A Disney Perspective

I’m heading into my writing hobbit hole for the next few weeks to punch out Whisper’s sequel before everything gets crazy with the release of Graevale, so I won’t be as active on here for the next little while. I’ll leave you with this gift: in a recent interview, I was asked to attribute a song to each of the main characters in The Medoran Chronicles, and these are the responses I gave.

(Credit to Disney for the lyrics and images!)

The Last Few Months: An Overview

Oh, boy! It seems I’m a teeny bit behind on this post, since I’d planned to send this off at the end of October. So much for my monthly updates! OOPS! I promise to do better coming into the New Year!

A reason why this is so belated is simply because I’ve been so incredibly busy over the last couple of months that I’ve struggled to remember my own name at times! EEEK! So here’s a brief glance at all the seriously cool stuff that’s been happening:

First up, Akarnae was listed as one of the Top Ten YA Fiction Books for 2017 by Bookseller+Publisher, which completely blew my mind (and I still have trouble actually believing it). My publishers sent me the most GORGEOUS rainbow roses as congratulations and they stayed alive for ages, which was so nice! (The roses, not my publishers — though they’re still alive, too, haha.)

I also finished the final read-through of Graevale (coming February 1st) and the absolutely STUNNING cover was revealed across social media, as well as the blurb:

My US ARCs of Whisper arrived in the post, and it was so amazing to hold the international version of this book in my hands for the first time!

Since then, the Australian version of Whisper has also arrived, along with Graevale, so I’m surrounded by books — which is so cool!

In amidst all that, I finally took the holiday that my doctor told me to take a year ago (oops!), and I went to New Zealand for a couple of weeks. I honestly have no words for how incredible that trip was, and I got to do all kinds of fun things like kayaking (both sea kayaking along the Coromandel Peninsula and then again in a glacier-fed lake on the South Island), horse riding near Glenorchy (through Lord of the Rings scenery), a day trip out to Milford Sound, a helicopter ride up to Franz Josef Glacier and hiking over the ice for 3 hours, climbing all kinds of mountains and walking all kinds of trails, visiting Hobbiton, seeing glow worms — honestly, I just did so much and it was all AMAZING!! PLUS there was a freak snow storm that blew in and it was MAGICAL!!!

And don’t even get me started on the scenery itself! It was just like I’d stepped into a fantasy novel!! Photos do NOT do it justice!!

Once I was back from NZ, I did the final read-through of the US version of Whisper (coming May 1st) and then I flew to Sydney for “Holiday Part 2” which was seriously awesome as well:

Then, about a week after that, there was a surprise opportunity to fly to Melbourne to speak at the YA Showcase (which spotlights some of the books coming out next year), so I did a quick Q&A there:

If you want to watch the 4 (ish) minutes, you can do so here, because someone was kind enough to film an Instagram Live recording of it! (Boy, am I glad I didn’t trip and fall on my face! Just the day before flying in, I sprained both my ankle and my hand, so there was a very real possibility, haha):

While in Melbourne, I also snuck in a trip to see Aladdin the Musical with my amazing publisher, and omigosh it was soooooo awesome!!

And, also super unbelievably cool and fantastic, that same day I learned that Draekora has made it onto the longest for the Indie Book Awards, which is SO exciting!!

So that was all a crazy-crazy-crazy few weeks, and in amongst it all, I also did a Q&A at Avid Reader bookstore in Brisbane, as well as spoke on a panel at the Future Librarians Conference about the future of the book industry from an author’s perspective.

… AND THEN, on top of all that, just last week I finished writing a whole new book — in just 18 days! 

So, yeah, things have been a little busy of late, haha. (Understatement of the century!!) But I’m now sneaking in a few days of R&R for Christmas before jumping into everything again next week! And I have some SUPER exciting news coming up regarding launch events for Graevale, so stay tuned! It’s SO CLOSE now!!!!

Aaaaaand, because I’m a horrible person, I’ll leave you with a teaser quote for Graevale from the Rebel Prince we love to hate — or hate to love!

WHISPER Cover Reveal (AUS/NZ)

I’m absolutely thrilled to share the AUS/NZ cover for WHISPER — coming May 1st through Pantera Press (and KCP Loft in the US/CAN):

How stunning is it!!!!

And, even cooler, for a side-by-side look at both covers, check this out:

I am honestly SO EXCITED for this book to be released next year! You have NO IDEA!!! 

September Debrief

I’ve decided that I’m going to attempt a monthly “This is what’s been happening in my world” update (mostly sticking to writing stuff, but also anything else exciting, too). So to kick this off, here are some of the things I got up to in the month of September:

First off, and VERY exciting, was that I got to announce that I have not one, not two, but THREE books coming out next year. Graevale (the fourth book in The Medoran Chronicles) will be coming out in February, Whisper (the first book in my new YA series) will be coming out in May, and We Three Heroes will be coming out in September — kind of a #4.5 book for The Medoran Chronicles (three novellas told from the perspectives of the main character’s best friends, D.C., Jordan and Bear). If you missed it, you can watch the trailer here:

Soon after being able to share about We Three Heroes, I had another exciting announcement — the US cover reveal for Whisper (which you can find on Goodreads here)! I’ve been working with the incomparable Kate Egan on this one (the editor of The Hunger Games) and I’m SO EXCITED for May 1st when it will be releasing simultaneously in US/CAN (through KCP Loft) and AUS/NZ (through Pantera Press). The AUS/NZ cover reveal is coming soon, but for all my US/CAN readers, here’s what you can expect to see in bookstores: 

Other than sharing exciting news, this month has been crazy-busy when it comes to actual writing work. Not only did I go through the first round of typeset proofreading on Graevale, but I also completed the structural edits for We Three Heroes. On top of that, I’m pretty sure it was early September when I did my final read-through of Whisper, too. So I’ve been juggling multiple projects and it’s been INSANE (but in the BEST way).

Also! Another seriously cool thing that happened this month (and admittedly, other times besides) is all the INCREDIBLE fan art that was sent my way. If you follow my social media (especially my Instagram account), you’ll see that I often re-post fan art in bundles once it’s started to build up a bit. But here are just a few that I want to show from an artist named Jodie in Western Australia who has been having some fun with my characters. *Please note that only some of these scenes have happened in the books, while others are more wishful thinking and at the artist’s discretion:

This is a scene from Raelia where Kaiden and Alex are dancing at D.C.’s birthday:

This is also a scene from Raelia (after Sir Oswald’s disastrous dinner party):

This is a wishful thinking scene between Jordan and D.C. (AU version of when Alex is hiding in the bathroom in Raelia):

This is another wishful thinking scene of a (hypothetical) first date between Kaiden and Alex after Medora has (theoretically) been saved:

This is a cute “Ronnigan Family Photo” (with Alex, Jordan and D.C. added, of course!):

This is a “selfie” with Alex, Jordan, D.C. and Bear:

HOW AMAZING ARE THOSE PICS!!!!! If you want to see more from Jodie, then be sure to follow her Instagram account (@jmaz_art). She also has a Red Bubble page where you can purchase some of her pics (or request others) and/or have them put on mugs or pillows or phone cases or stickers, etc.

Truly, I’m so honoured and humbled whenever ANY artist takes the time to bring my characters to life (whether in wishful or actual scenes), so THANK YOUUUUUU to all the amazing people out there who do so!! (FYI, I can barely manage a stick figure, so my envy knows no bounds!!)

I think that’s about it when it comes to writerly updates. As for any actual reading, as you can see, I’ve been a tad busy with multi-book editing, so there hasn’t been that much time to enjoy any other books. BUT I also had my birthday earlier this month and took a few days off, which meant of COURSE I had to read a book (or three). My favourite would absolutely have to be Sarah J. Maas’s Tower of Dawn, for a lot of reasons, but partly because I’m a critique reader for Sarah so I actually read ToD about 6ish months before it was released, so it was just an absolute pleasure to re-read it and see how the final version came together. This book — I have no words. I loved the early draft (which is saying a lot since, going into it, I wasn’t a huge fan of the main character that ToD focuses on) and I can honestly say the published novel is beyond 11/10. If you haven’t tried any of Sarah’s books yet, I can’t recommend them highly enough!!

Other than reading, if I had the chance for any downtime, I found myself watching the last few episodes from season 5 of Chicago Fire (THAT ENDING = GASP!!), the second season of Killjoys, the oddly addictive (and oh-so-fascinating on a human behavioural perspective) Lucifer, and the seriously awesome second season of Shooter.

As for movies, I watched The Shack (omigosh the tearrrrrrsssss — Sam Worthington and Octavia Spencer are BRILLIANT in it!!) as well as The Mummy (erm, no comment other than to say I MUCH prefer the original), Snatched (which was actually super entertaining, and I’m not usually a huge Amy Schumer fan), and Hidden Figures (which was just perfect). OH! I also watched A Dog’s Purpose, from which I’m still traumatised, and Baywatch, which also left me traumatised (but for different reasons).

Jeez, it looks like I did a LOT of watching this month — but, again, I took a few days off for my birthday, so most of all that was earlier in September. The latter weeks were basically spent in front of my laptop, buried in words, or walking up hills, mountains, and staircases in preparation for doing fun things like hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on my upcoming epic NZ holiday in 4 weeks! (EEEEE, so excited!!)

That’s it for this month — for more regular (mostly daily) updates, be sure to follow me on Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook.

Until next time!

Lynette xoxo