AKARNAE excitement — Top 51!!

If you’ve been following my social media, you’ll know that AKARNAE has been nominated for the Dymocks Kids’ Top 51 list, which is unbelievably awesome!! I would be so, SO grateful if you could take a second to cast your vote for it (before Monday) — every vote counts!!

AKARNAE is listed about half to three-quarters of the way down the page (unless the order changes with each reload), and it looks just like this:

With the craziness of multiple book releases this year, I haven’t had a chance just to sit down and share the surreality of everything that has been happening, but please know that something like this is just insane to me. (In the BEST possible way.) I’m pretty much in a constant state of shock that The Medoran Chronicles have become a bestselling series and that so many people love following Alex and her friends on their adventures!

So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for loving these books so much — and for making it so they even hit lists like this! YOU’RE ALL AMAZING!!

You can find the link to vote either by clicking on either of the above images, or simply by going here: https://www.dymocks.com.au/votes/top-51-voting

HUGS!

WHISPER — Available Now!

Eeeeee!!! This year is passing by SO quickly, but now that it’s May, the first book in my new series, WHISPER, is officially available!In a nutshell, WHISPER is like Stranger Things meets Divergent and it’s about a girl who has been locked away in a secret government facility for nearly three years, and in that time, she hasn’t spoken a single word. The question is, why?

I had the tremendous honour of working with Kate Egan on this (the editor of The Hunger Games) and I’m so thrilled that it’s my US debut! As of today, you can grab a copy from all good bookstores in US/CAN (blue cover) and AUS/NZ (white cover), or online from all the normal retailers like Amazon, etc., as an ebook (or to purchase the hardback or paperback with shipping).

I hope you all love this one! It’s also been blurbed by two incredible authors:

Sarah J. Maas, the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series and the A Court of Thorns and Roses series said:

“Compulsively readable, compellingly narrated, and so full of twists and turns that I couldn’t put it down until I’d turned the final page. I loved every sentence of Whisper.”

And Maria V. Snyder, the New York Times bestselling author of the Poison Study series said:

“A gripping and heart-wrenching tale. I was enthralled!”

On top of that, it’s been receiving some amazing praise from trade reviewers:

Overall, I’m soooooo excited for this to be out in the world!

HAPPY READING!!!

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!