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!)

Moana = Happy Sigh

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I (finally) went to see Moana at the cinemas on Thursday and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since then. Honestly – it was sheer brilliance. I laughed, I cried, I felt like being one of “those people” at the end and clapping my heart out. Above all, I remember sitting in my car afterwards, preparing to drive home, and thinking two thoughts.

Continue reading

Christmas Present From Me To You

It’s come to my attention that different readers of this blog like different things. I know, I know, that’s not such a groundbreaking revelation. But bear with me for a second here.

Some of you like reading about my writing escapades. About the random things going on in my own writing world. My crazy, often uncooperative characters. My tangent, also often uncooperative plot lines. How my writing is going on a semi-regular basis. (This also includes writing advice, encouragement, and anything else related to, well, writing.)

Some of you like reading about the publishing and/or literary agent side of things from my perspective. The editing. The copy editing. The proof reading. Writing the blurb. Writing the acknowledgements. Release dates and cover reveals and all ins and outs of publishing.

Some of you like reading about my personal life—what I bake, where I go, what I watch and read, and all the other random things I do.

Generally my rule for blogging is similar to my rule for writing novels—I write what I’d like to read. That’s how my voice comes across as genuine rather than forced, because it’s just, well, me.

BUT.

As a Christmas present, I want to know what you would like to read on here over the next fortnight. If there’s a burning request you have, or something you’re curious about (especially in relation to writing/publishing etc.), then please comment below and, presuming there are enough responses, I’ll pick three (3) to write posts about between now and the New Year.

To give you an example, I had someone contact me via email the other day to ask how I find motivation to write. I’ve also had (many) people ask me how I became traditionally published without an agent… And, recently, I’ve had people ask me how I ended up signing with an agent and specifics regarding the whole querying process… So these are just a few ideas. Feel free to ask these, or similar, or something else entirely! And if I end up choosing your question/topic and you want me to include a link to your site with my post, make sure you include it with your comment (disregard this if you don’t have a website).

I’ll look forward to hearing what some of you are interested in reading!

Literary Agent Amazingness

I’m trying to avoid the clichéd ‘How I Got My Literary Agent‘ post here because, firstly, I’m still having trouble believing it, and secondly, I honestly have no idea how it happened, exactly. But I’m absolutely thrilled to say I now have a lit agent from New York City representing me, as mind bogglingly amazing as that is!

I’m still in a total state of shock, and I won’t lie, I’m also frequently spacing out into mental moments where I’m pretty much like this:

But really, can you blame me? I know I’ve done things a little backwards, since it’s much more normal for traditionally published authors to have an agent before they end up with a publishing deal, whereas I’ve somehow managed to do it in reverse order (my mother always said I was special). But regardless of that, it’s always been a dream of mine to have an agent interested in working with me. And when I say that, I mean, for years I tried to get representation for first Akarnae and then later Dreamscape. (Though, my publishers offered me a contract for Akarnae just after I’d started querying for Dreamscape, so I quit pitching really quickly when they said they were interested in both series…)

I have to admit, I actually really loved the querying process and, surprisingly, the years of rejection that came with it. (See an earlier post on rejection here). I think it really shaped me as a writer, and it made me question why I was doing what I was doing. After three years of hearing ‘no’, it would have been so easy to give up and think, “Oh, well, clearly I must suck at this.” But instead, I kept writing new work, I kept querying, and eventually I ended up with my book deal—and that was without an agent.

But then I wrote a new first-of-a-series book earlier this year, and after completing it in May, I sent it off to my publishers in early June to see what they thought. After a few months passed, I presumed they weren’t interested in it (because, believe me, it’s rather different from anything I’ve written before; sort of like Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series mixed with Maria V. Synder’s Poison Study series and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, to give you an idea), and I decided to try my hand at pitching it to agents at the end of September.

Now, it should be noted here again that I’d queried for years with Akarnae (and for a couple of weeks/months(?) with Dreamscape) so I knew—I knew—the odds weren’t in my favour. I had a 99.999999% confidence in absolutely nothing coming of it. And I was perfectly content in knowing that, because I also had the hope that I might get some kind of constructive feedback with the rejections I was certain would come. That’s what happened with Akarnae, after all, since some of the agent-given criticism I received with that helped me re-write it into the novel that is now in bookshops all across Australia. So that’s what I was hoping for again with this new manuscript—constructive feedback on the odd occasion that the rejection wouldn’t be a form response.

Given all that, I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when, within a couple of short weeks, I had I think five full requests to see my manuscript (and I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure I only sent off about ten queries, so I was understandably confused and wondered if I’d accidentally signed my name as J.K. Rowling instead of Lynette Noni).

A few more weeks went by and, regardless of the full requests, I was still adamant about my 99.999999% rejection likelihood. And that was because in my years of querying previously, I’d been asked for full (and partial) manuscript requests—again, for both Akarnae and Dreamscape. Sure, it was exciting to think that my query letter must have been half decent, or better yet, the story I pitched was intriguing enough for the agents to want to read more. But as far as I was concerned, any full request I received simply meant I might be given more in-depth constructive criticism when the inevitable “Thanks, but no thanks” response came back to me. And I was totally cool with that. In fact, I was actually really excited to hear about everything wrong with my story so that I could jump in to re-writing it with improvements. (I’m a bit of a weirdo, okay? As stressful as editing can be, I seriously love it because the results are usually awesome!)

The total shocker for me came when an agent from an extremely successful agency in New York got back to me and said they were interested in my manuscript and then ended up offering representation. I’m not kidding, I thought it was a prank. But then I realised that it was a legit offer and, well, this may have happened:

I was understandably stunned, amazed, and over the moon with excitement, but I also knew at that time I had three fulls still out with other agents, so despite the fact that everything in me was like, “OMIGOSH, TAKE THE OFFER!!!!” I somehow managed to calm myself enough to be professional about it and say I needed some time to consider and also check in with the other agents.

The surprises kept coming when, almost immediately, two of those agents (a second one in New York and one in California) asked for a few days so they could properly consider my manuscript and get back to me. Needless to say, I was in a state of absolute bafflement crossed with amazement. And, no joke, I actually had tears spring to my eyes when the literary assistant of the second New York agent said something along the lines of that she wasn’t surprised I was offered representation, because what she’d read of my manuscript was “really phenomenal”. I have no words for all the emotion I felt in that moment, since I think that was when it really hit me that something big was happening, something more incredible than I had ever thought possible.

So, cutting to the chase, the second NY agent read my manuscript within, like, a day (!!) and got back to me (this is the one whose assistant brought me to overwhelmed/happy tears) and she organised a Skype call with me for later that day. Well, it was later that day for me, since I received her email in the morning and we scheduled it for that night, which was really her next morning (gotta love the USA to AUS time difference).

Anywho…

We ended up Skyping for something like two hours and during that time she offered representation too, which both blew my mind and scared the stuffing out of me. I mean, I was so excited by the amazingness of the first offer that to be given a second offer—which meant I then had to actually choose who I wanted—was beyond incredible but also hive-inducingly terrifying. But to be honest, I knew during that Skype call that there was something just… right, about the second offer. Not just because she seemed ridiculously awesome, but also because I got the sense that she would really challenge me to be a better writer, and more than that, she would also champion me through the complicated—and at times, daunting—side of the publishing industry. It also helped that she just knew what she was talking about. Having had over twenty years in the industry, with most of that time spent as an editor (which means she’s an editorial agent, which seriously rocks), I was just filled with so much confidence as I listened to what she had to say. She was also wonderful at answering my questions, of which there were a lot. I’m like the most annoying person in the world when it comes to questions. I question everything. But not once did she seem annoyed, frustrated or impatient. She answered everything in fantastic detail, never making me feel like I was wasting her time or asking ridiculous questions. So, she definitely earned a stack of points for that!

Anyway, fast forwarding onwards, I still had to wait to hear back from the third agent and despite my inner happy dancing mixed with rocking in the corner moments, I remained calm enough to tell everyone that I would have my decision made by the end of the month, which gave me just over a week. There were a few hiccups along the way, which actually ended up with me having another massively long Skype conversation with the second agent to discuss said hiccups, something to which I have no words for how amazingly she handled that situation—and me in that situation. By that stage she’d given up hours (and hours) of her time with no guarantee that I was going to choose her in the end. I still can’t believe it, actually. Every second I expected her to say, “Jeez, you are way too high maintenance. This is so not worth the effort.” But, amazingly, she stuck with me. More than that, she told me exactly what I needed to hear—that everything would be okay.

Now, despite her comforting words, I know that may not actually end up being the case. I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist. (Fine, I’m more of an idealist, but I still know that sometimes I have to take my head out of the clouds and see things for what they really are.) That means I know that it’s possible that things won’t all turn out okay. But in that moment when everything was really difficult, I needed to hear that it would all work out, and that’s what she told me. Kinda like when you’re a kid and your mother tells you, “Don’t worry, sweetheart. Everything will be okay.” And because she’s your mother, even if you’ve, like, just accidentally chopped your finger off, you still believe her. And that’s because you trust her and you know that even if things don’t actually turn out okay, she’ll still do whatever she can to make sure things eventually end up being as okay as they can possibly be.

It was because of all that that there ended up being absolutely no question about which agent I would choose. Which is why I am now beyond thrilled to say that everything is official with me being represented by the incredible Victoria Wells Arms of Wells Arms Literary.

I really can’t emphasise enough how wonderful Victoria has been to me over the last couple of weeks, as well as her amazing literary assistant I mentioned earlier, Brigette, who is absolutely delightful. They’ve both been so welcoming and just… well, more than I could have ever hoped for. If you follow me on any of my other social media (Instagram, Twitter or Facebook), you would have seen the flowers that they sent me last weekend, but if you missed it, they’re so beautiful that I have to share again here:

flowers

So, yes! That’s my story. Not so much a ‘How I Got My Literary Agent‘ because as I mentioned earlier, I’m still not certain how it happened, and I’m still in a state of shock about it all. But I will tell you that it’s amazing and I am so, so, soooooo excited to see where it all may lead!

On a final note, given that I did the querying thing for years, I was always fascinated by reading the dates and status updates of other authors who were offered representation, so for anyone interested, here are mine (in regards to signing on with Victoria):

Sent query letter: September 24, 2015

Full request: September 29, 2015

Nudged after first offer of representation: October 22nd, 2015

Skype chat and offer of representation from Victoria: October 23rd, 2015

Everything signed and officially confirmed: October 31st, 2015.

Call me crazy, but that’s insanely quick, right? It doesn’t feel like it since so much happened in all that time, but I literally ended up with an agent within, like, a month of sending off the query! And given my earlier mention that I went through years of rejections on previous manuscripts, you can see why I’m in a dazed state of shock, right? I think to finish this post, all I need to do is offer this last image:

Victoria (and Brigette), if you’re reading this, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. That’s also from the top of my heart. And from every other part of my heart. Just thank you! I absolutely can’t wait to see what the future holds!!!

BIRTHDAY GOODNESS!!!

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For anyone who was around reading my blog last year, you might remember that I have a teensy-tiny (*cough* crazy *cough*) love of birthdays… I mean, come on! We all only get one special day each year that’s ours! It’s a celebration of our birth! What’s not to get excited about?

Thankfully, I have some incredible publishers who just may have picked up on the fact that I’m a total birthday junkie. (Like, seriously – I have a legitimate problem. I should possibly look into speaking to someone about it. But maybe on a day when it’s not, you know, my birthday.)

For anyone who follows me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you will have already seen these posts, but I just wanted to share again here for everyone else. The fabulous team at Pantera Press are offering a birthday sale of 20% off the paperback version of AKARNAE until the end of the weekend – how fabulous is that!

If you want to cash in on this offer – with free international shipping, from what I’ve been told! – then all you have to do is go to www.panterapress.com/shop and follow the ordering prompts etc. but make sure you type in the discount promo code NONIBDAY when you reach the checkout.

I also want to say a huge thank you to all you wonderful readers who have already wished me a happy birthday today! I’ve been so touched by some of your amazingly lovely messages, as well as your encouragement and well wishes. I have no words, so please just know how much it means to me – thank you.

Oooh, and speaking of lovely birthday mentions, I also received this incredible surprise delivery today from my (again, it bears repeating) fantastic publishers:

bday1

 

Yummy chocolates, helium balloon and absolutely gorgeous flowers! See what I mean? They totally get me. In fact, it’s almost like they’re enabling me and my OTT birthday addiction. But……. *Shrugs*…. You see me complaining? Nope! BEST PUBLISHERS EVER!!!

Oh, and in case anyone’s wondering about my birthday book haul (or at least the first part of it), check it out:

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

No spoilers, but has anyone read any of these? I’m so excited for QoS since I LOVE the rest of the ToG series and HoF was amazing. I’ve heard fab things about Legacy of Kings and The Bone Season too…. So what to read first?? Such a hard choice!

Again, thank you so much for the birthday happiness, everyone! And don’t forget to hit up that sale if you’re interested in a physical copy of AKARNAE!

As always, feel free to drop me a line on any of my social media thingamabobbits too. I absolutely love chatting with you all!

Until next time! :-)

BOOK GIVEAWAY #2

Great news! AKARNAE is still listed at number #1 on Amazon’s ‘Hot New Releases‘ which is SO cool, guys! Group hug!!!

To continue with the 5 promised book giveaways, I want to give a huge congrats to alwaysopinionatedgirl for being the first winner! Woohoo!

There are still 4 more copies of AKARNAE up for grabs over the next few days, with a new pool of entrants for each prize, so if you want to try and win today’s copy, comment below with the title of YOUR favourite book (or one of them if you can’t narrow it down). Any comment that has a book title will go into the draw to win an Amazon digital copy of AKARNAE.

And remember:

1. You have to have a Kindle or an e-reader that can accept digital files from Amazon (otherwise you won’t be able to read it)

2. I would love if you would post some kind of social media about it, a shout-out like, “YA fantasy book AKARNAE is 99c on Amazon for a limited time only! It’s Harry Potter meets Narnia and X-Men!”

3. Pretty pretty pretty please, after you’ve read it, it would be wonderful if you would post a rating/review on Amazon/Goodreads to help bump up the stats and get the word out there to the world.

Lastly, if you’re not sure whether Akarnae is your cup of tea or not, you can read the first few chapters for free at www.akarnae.com.

Get commenting! :-)

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Disney Song Tag

I first saw this on Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Books and loved it so much that I decided to fill it out for myself. You know me – I’m a sucker for anything remotely related to Disney. And add that to books? I was a goner from the first word. So here goes!

1. A Whole New World – What is your favourite newest fantasy series?

Hmm. That’s a tricky one since there are soooooo many fantasy series that I absolutely adore. But since this question stipulates the “newest”, then I’m going to have to say the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas which I read earlier this year. Aaaammaaazzziiinnnggg. 

2. Part of You World – What book world would you like to live in? 

Is it cheating if I say AKARNAE? Because, seriously, I know I created it, but I would LOVE to visit Medora!

But if I have to say a book written by someone other than myself… I’d be lying if I didn’t say the wizarding world of Harry Potter!

3. Let it Go- What book/series do you wish everyone would stop talking about?

Hmm. Probably “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard. There has been a lot of hype about it lately. I read it a few weeks ago and sure, it was enjoyable, but I can think of countless other books which were way beyond amazing and no one has ever heard of them. It just goes to show how much power there is in good marketing!

4. When You Wish Upon a Star- What book or series do you wish you could have more of?

Ooooh, too many! Don’t ask me this! But at the same time, it’s a really weird question to answer, because some of my favourite series end so well that I’m almost content by letting them finish. Like the HP books (again!) – I would LOVE for there to be more of them, but they’re also not necessary since Harry’s journey ended so perfectly.

5. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious- What is the longest book you have read?

Probably some high fantasy novel with a stack of world building. I’m not sure which, though (my memory is awful!). Perhaps one of the later Green Rider books from Kristen Britain – those easily go up and over 700 pages each – or else something by Raymond E. Feist.

6. Hakuna Matata- What book could you read over and over without a care in the world?

Yikes, I have no idea! Ummmmmmmmm… No, seriously, I don’t know! Not for an individual book, anyway – but there are probably a few different series that I could name!

7. A Spoonful of Sugar- What couple has the sweetest relationship?

Aww, again, this is such a hard question! Let me give a few…

Juliette and Adam from Shatter Me (then Juliette and Warner from Fracture Me – the only time I’ve ever been okay with a love triangle is in this series!)

Kale and Bardon from the DragonKeeper Chronicles

Avery and Cam from Wait For You

Sydney and Adrian from the Bloodlines series

Gabi and Marcello from the River of Time series

Kelsey and Ren from The Tiger Saga

Lilac and Tarver from These Broken Stars

… You know what? I could go on forever here, so I’ll stop before I can’t!

8. You Got a Friend in Me- Who are the best “best friends?”

Hmm. I just finished a re-read of Twilight so I have Bella and Jacob stuck in my head at the moment (regardless of how messed-up their relationship really was).

Otherwise, I have to say, I have a huge love of secondary characters because they often provide the best source of entertainment and they’re usually the most loyal of friends. So really, name any book that I’ve read and I’ll be able to tell you who the ‘best friends’ are in it. And most likely, I’ll absolutely love them because of it! :-)

9. Zero to Hero- What character wasn’t expected to be a hero?

Warner from The Juliette Chronicles. I still can’t get over how awesome that was (and I’ve read the series twice in the last few months alone).

10. You’ll Be in My Heart- What Character death made you cry the most?

Oh, wow. Probably Sirius Black. That was devastating! I still can’t handle that whenever I re-read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Harry’s reaction afterwards is just so…. gut-wrenching!

And BTW, that’s an awful question to end this quiz on! Talk about a downer! *Insert unhappy face*

Marketing and PR: A Disney Perspective

Guess what I did yesterday afternoon? Guess? Guess? Guess!?

You’ll never guess (unless you follow my ‘Author’ page on Facebook – which will keep you more up-to-date than this blog), so I’ll just tell you: I had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with my publishers’ head of PR and marketing, the fabulous Susan, who is visiting sunny Queensland at the moment – eek! How exciting! And let me tell you…

It.

Was.

AWESOME.

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll probably know by now that I’m a little bit wacky (with a large dose of dorkishness on the side), so it won’t come as much of a surprise when you hear that the whole time leading up to the meeting, I was kinda a little bit like this:

I’m not ashamed to admit it (though, I probably should be). You all know what a dream-come-true this year has been for me, what with signing a publishing contract and everything since then, and I’m aware that ‘societal norms’ dictate that I should probably be a little more embarrassed by my skyrocketing levels of elation, but I just can’t help it! Everything is just too exciting!!

So, yeah, the meeting – it was soooo cool! And it lasted for hours! As lame as it makes me sound, while we were chatting about all kinds of awesomeness, from book launch brainstorming (!!) to author events she’s aiming to send me along to next year (!!), internally I was very much like this:

And FYI, by the time the meeting was over and I was in my car on the way home, I may have even upgraded to this:

It was just so awesome! (Yes, I know I sound like a broken record, but it was!). I think I drove Susan a little crazy though, because for a large portion of the time she was asking me a whole list of Q&A style questions to build an author profile on me for media (?) stuff, and I’m pretty much the worst person to ask questions to, because I complicate even the simplest of answers. Even things like my favourite colour – it changes depending on my mood! So there I was asking questions back to her, talking a mile-a-minute and saying things like, “Is it a colour I just have to look at? And how am I feeling at the time? Do I want to experience a specific emotion based on looking at the colour? Or, maybe, is it a colour I’m wearing? Or what if someone else is wearing it? Because if it’s about clothing colours, that’s completely different. Because, like, orange can look amazing on some people, but it looks awful on me, so I can’t answer a solid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for whether I like the colour orange based on clothing-related choices… And if we’re not talking about clothing-colours, but just colours to look at, what shade of, like, orange are we talking about? Because a deep orange can be nice, but I’m not a huge fan of pastel orange. Is there even such a thing as pastel orange? Pastel orange doesn’t even sound nice!” (… And this type of conversation continued on for an embarrassing length of time…)

Just so you don’t think I’m completely insane, I didn’t actually talk specifically about the colour orange. I did, however, have a very similar discussion regarding the colour blue, but that’s entirely justifiable, in my opinion. I can’t remember what I said verbatim, but it was pretty darn close to the above fictional account. So, you probably see why Susan may have been looking at me a little like this some (or most) of the time:

But that’s okay. Because I’m an author, and authors can be wacky and dorkish, right? It’s the “creative genius” in us. Even so, I’m at least fifty percent certain that Susan may have been considering whether it’s too late to retract the offer of publishing. In fact, it’s highly likely that she was probably thinking about the amount of time she’ll be stuck spending with me in the future, and I’m guessing her thoughts were something very similar to this:

Haha…

… Or, at least, I hope it’s a ‘haha’ moment… *awkward face*…

Anyway, moving on!

I’m pretty sure there was one stage during our conversation where she jokingly (?) said something along the lines of, “You better not blog about this…” and since I was so deep in my happy place that I now can’t remember what it was that I fervently nodded my agreement to, I’m keeping everything here vague on purpose and hoping that you’ll all be distracted enough by the Disney love to forget that I haven’t actually told you all that much about the actual meeting. But I’d rather keep everything on the down-low for now rather than say something I shouldn’t and then have to go back to her and be like…

So, yeah. That’s all I feel like I can safely say for now. I won’t even go into how I got to meet her absolutely adorable six-year-old son who I fell in love with despite the fact that he told me the entire plot (including spoilers!) of How To Train Your Dragon 2 – which I haven’t yet seen (and now I don’t really need to, though I still will because, duh, it’s Disney…). Despite this distinctly uncool moment, I forgave him instantly because he’s seriously the cutest kid in the world. I’m talking, cuter-than-cute. Just to give you an idea of his cuter-than-cuteness, he sang the entire Blinky Bill theme song to me, word for word, and I think my heart may have literally melted into a puddle of goo. At the end of our time together, I pretty much wanted to adopt him. Though, I’m not entirely sure he felt the same. We were kinda a bit like this (and guess which one was me, and which one was him?):

Cluckiness aside, everything about the entire afternoon was beyond amazing, and I can’t WAIT to share more over the coming months! In the meantime, I’ll probably be spending a lot of time just like this:

Book Cover Excitement

Guess what? Guess what? Guess what!?!?!

Okay, wait, let me take a few deep breaths here… *In*… *Out*… *Repeat*…

Right. That’s a little better. But… GUESS WHAT!?!?! My publishers sent through the designers’ first concepts for my book cover!!! YAY!!! I honestly can’t begin to describe the level of excitement I felt when the email came through. I was at work at the time and, regardless of that, I may have had a moment a little bit like this:

… And that moment may have continued repeating itself sporadically over the next few hours. (Oh, the shame. Thankfully, the people I work with are used to my random displays of excitement by now…).

But seriously, I couldn’t be more thrilled with what the designers have come up with. I’ve been so worried about being disappointed that I never really allowed myself to imagine what I actually wanted the cover to look like, but now I have proof that it is in fantastic hands, because they’ve done an amazing job! And that’s just on the first draft! We still get to refine it and change things and… oh, *happy sigh*… I’m just so relieved, you know? And now that I’ve given my feedback (likes, dislikes, etc.), I can’t wait to see the next round of changes!

Okay, this is just a short-and-sweet update because I wanted to share my excitement. (I’m not kidding when I say I still look exactly like crocodile-Louis here; though, I’m perhaps a touch less co-ordinated…)