Wednesday 29 August 2012

In Two Places At Once, Plus More Books for 2012

I'm in two places at once today! As well as being here, you can find me interviewing Sangu Mandanna about her awesome dystopian debut THE LOST GIRL over at The Lucky 13s. THE LOST GIRL released yesterday and is a gripping tale of love, loss and life with a unique dystopian twist. I absolutely love it and I'm hoping to have Sangu on this blog for a chat when TLG releases with Random House in the UK early next year (publisher siblings, yay!).

I reckon it's time for some more 20 Books for 2012 now, so here are the next three I'm adding to the list:

FROSTFIRE by Zoe Marriott
A fantasy YA about a girl who is possessed by a demon, and when she's forced to join a band of rebel soldiers and grows close to their two leaders, is terrified she won't be able to protect them from her own terrible power. I just finished reading this, and thought it was wonderful. The writing is exquisite and the heroine is brilliantly kick-ass. And the cover is beautiful!

I've always been a huge fan of Sarah Dessen, but I reckon she now has some serious competition for the crown of realistic romantic contemporary. I already loved Morgan's first book, AMY AND ROGER'S EPIC DETOUR, but this one, a story about a girl whose family take one last vacation together before a life-changing event, forcing her to face up to the ghosts of her past, just blew me away. Warning: do NOT read this book in public unless you don't mind total strangers seeing you flat-out bawling. And make sure you have plenty of tissues!

THE WITNESS by James Jauncey
A gritty, near-future dystopian set in Scotland, where conflict over who should own land in the Highlands is escalating. A teenager witnesses a massacre and ends up on the run with the only survivor, a young boy. Everything about this book is just breathtaking. One of my favourites of all time.

From next week, I'm going to be AWOL (at least from blogging) for a while. My book 2 deadline is looming ever nearer, and I need to take time away from the blog to make sure I get the MS finished. However, it won't be sitting in the corner of the internet gathering cobwebs. Some of my fellow Lucky 13s are taking over, starting with a post next week from the awesome Ellen Oh, so I hope you'll still stop by for a read.

Until then, to the writing cave… see you again at the end of September!

Thursday 23 August 2012

Lots of Links!

I'm missioning on with the WIP, which is now at over 78K and moving into the last third of the story. It's over 4 years since I last wrote a first draft and I'd forgotten what it feels like to reach that point where this collection of words, paragraphs and chapters begins, at last, to feel like an actual book. A ragged-round-the-edges, riddled-with-plot-holes-so-big-you-could-lose-a-bus-in-them, going-to-need-a-ton-of-work sorta book, but a book nonetheless. It's so exciting!

As a result of all this writing, my brain has turned to roughly the consistency of porridge and all I could do when I remembered I had a blog post to write was stare blankly at the screen and drool slightly. OK, maybe I didn't drool, but you get the idea. So this week, I'm doing a links round-up.

First up, I have a board on Pinterest where I'm adding the covers for my fellow Lucky 13s debut novels as they're revealed. There are some amazing covers - I can't wait to read the books inside them! You can see them here.

I have a Pinterest board for my WIP. They're pictures that capture the mood I'm trying to create with the book. There may also be some hints at the locations and characters… check it out here and let me know what you think!

On 15th August, me and my fellow Luckies took part in the amazing WriteOnCon, offering some writing and marketing tips. If you missed them, you can find them here.

Over at Presenting Lenore, it's Dystopian August, where you can get sneak previews of some amazing dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels that are coming out next year from a few of the Lucky Thirteens: Polly Holyoke, Amy Tintera, Melanie Crowder, Amie Kaufman and her Apocalypsie co-author Meagan Spooner, Alexandra Duncan, T. Michael Martin and my writing twin (or should that be Alt?) Elsie Chapman. You can also catch up with what dystopian and post-apoc books are out now in this post.

On Ink & Angst, Pam Witte is running an incredible, international Gate Crashers' Author Appreciation signed book and swag contest. What are you waiting for? Go enter it here!

And lastly, agent-mate Dan Smith has had an offer from a publisher for his first children's book. Congratulations, Dan!

Is there any cool stuff I've missed this week? Tell me about it in the comments!

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Is This Really Happening? (AKA Meeting Your Publisher For The very First Time)

It's another writing-related anniversary for me today. A year ago, I was in London, meeting my publisher for the first time. Afterwards, they asked me if I'd like to write a post about it for their Talk About Random blog - my first blog post anywhere, ever! To celebrate (and because my deadline for book 2 is looming ever closer!) I'm re-posting it here. You can see the original post here.

Train tickets: check. Note of tube stops so I don’t get hopelessly lost and end up wandering the London Underground for days, weeping and begging strangers for help: check. Email from my publisher inviting me out for lunch so they can meet me and talk about my book: ch–

Hang on. What? I have a publisher?

Every time I think about it, I have to pinch myself. My novel, ACID, a dystopian thriller for young adults, is based on a story a friend of mine and I challenged each other to write when we were fourteen. Although I didn’t get much past the first ten pages, the idea – someone breaking out of a prison and going on the run from a corrupt police force who want to silence them forever – never left me. Two years ago, after having a near-miss trying to get my first young adult novel published, I came back to the idea. Several drafts later, my agent, Carolyn Whitaker at London Independent Books, started sending it out. And Random House Children’s Books said YES!

I have to admit, when they invited me down to London for lunch, I was nervous. This was an important occasion; I had to make a good impression. Cue frantic booking of haircut and raiding of wardrobe for smart outfit…

Two weeks later, the big day arrived. I met up with Carolyn in her lovely book-lined office and then we made our way to the RHCB offices where we were greeted by my editor Jess, Commissioning Editor Ruth and digital wizard Emil. It was both exciting and surreal to hear everyone being so enthusiastic about my book – the book I wrote on my dented laptop in spare bits of time between work and dog walks and everything else – and they were so lovely that by the time we headed out for lunch, I forgot I’d ever been nervous. Over steak and chips, we chatted about books and dogs and holidays, I met Fiction Publisher Annie and even found myself agreeing to get on Twitter (you can find me at @EmmaPass). And that evening, when I got back to my sister’s house, where I was staying overnight, she’d made cinnamon whirls. It was the perfect end to a brilliant day.

Now I’m back home, waiting for my first editorial letter, the next step in my journey towards becoming a for-real published author. So I guess this really is happening… especially now Carolyn’s told my contracts have arrived. I still have to pinch myself from sometimes, though!

Thursday 9 August 2012

Some More Good News About ACID!

After discovering ACID's on Amazon, and that it'll be coming out in May next year, I have some more good news to share! Spanish rights have sold to Random House Mondadori, and they'll be publishing it next summer! They publish other RHCB authors such as RJ Palacio and Lauren Kate, so I'll be in great company.

What a week!! :D

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Music To My (WIP's) Ears

When I started writing ACID, I found myself doing something I've never done before – making a soundtrack for it (you can read my post about it over at the Lucky 13s blog here). And now I've ended up doing the same thing for my WIP, AKA the book that I now have a deadline to get the first draft done by, which is exciting and scary at the same time as I've never had a deadline for a first draft before! Anyway, to get myself into the writing zone while I get this draft done, I'm listening to its soundtrack pretty much exclusively. As the world of ACID is futuristic and high-tech, the soundtrack  included a lot of electronic music; in contrast, the world of my WIP is much lower tech, so the songs I've chosen for it are quieter, with a strong leaning towards acoustic and classical music. There's some heavier stuff in there too, though – in fact, Many of Horror might now be my favourite song ever.

Ludovico Einaudi - I Due Fiumi
Mumford & Sons - I Gave You All
Erik Satie - 3 Gnossienes - #1. Lent
Mumford & Sons - Awake My Soul
Message To Bears - Running Through Woodland
Temper Trap - Soldier On
Fleet Foxes - Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
Ludovico Einaudi - La Nascita Delle Cose Segrete

(Links are to official videos licensed under Creative Commons, via, but if you want to see the rest you can find them on YouTube.)

In other news, ACID is up on Amazon! With an ISBN and a release date and everything! Woo-hoo! 
There's nothing much else to see at the moment (no cover yet, sorry!), but if you want to check it out (and maybe *cough* add it to your wishlist/preorder *cough*) it's here.

So, how about you? Which song or songs best sum up what you're working on at the moment? Share them with me in the comments!

Thursday 2 August 2012

Reaching The Other Side

I've blogged before about first drafts, and how I found a way to get through the you-suck moment that inevitably strikes me about halfway through every book. Well, I'm in good old first draft territory right now as, with the edits and copyedits for ACID done, I'm forging ahead with my second book and trying to get it done. And as I've been writing, I've been thinking about the whole process of first drafting, which is very different to writing a second draft, or a third, or a fourth…

It's no secret to my writer friends that I find revising much easier than writing a first draft (I may even have been known to send tweets with the hashtag #firstdrafthell at times…), because with subsequent drafts, you have something to work with. But with first drafts, you have nothing. You're spinning those words, those characters, that plot out of thin air, and inevitably, things end up going in different directions to the ways you planned. Sometimes, I find this exciting. More often, it can throw me into a panic, and I have to frantically return to my notes (some of which I make before I start, some as I go along) to figure out exactly what needs to happen, and why.

One thing I've learnt not to do at these moments is to try to think about the WHOLE BOOK. If I think about the WHOLE BOOK it will loom over me like Everest, and I'll run out of oxygen long before I get to the top. Instead, I think ahead only to the next major plot point. I don't plot rigidly, but I always have a vague idea of the complete story arc before I start, and, as I go along, I work out the plot points so they're laid out in my head like stepping stones across a river. I don't need to look right over to the other side of the water to see where I'm going – only to the next stone, and then the next. Bit by bit, I find my way across, and by keeping my eyes on my feet, there's less chance I'll lose my nerve and stumble. (Besides which, I can't swim very well, so falling into that river would be a bad idea.)

Crossing over to the other side
Photo by J.A. Holland via Flickr. Licensed for use under Creative Commons.

How about you? What techniques do you use to get through those tricky first drafts?