Jacob is going on tour!

I wanted to let you all know about the upcoming blog tour for Sky Song with the very lovely people at Fiction Addiction tours.  I thought about what to write for a little while, but I couldn’t really come up with anything entertaining. It’s been some time since I wrote anything with Jacob and his friends in, so instead of telling you about the tour myself, I couldn’t resist bringing out the guys for one last time…

Jacob stood staring at the pile of clothes and the empty suitcase on his bed.  He scratched his head and then looked up at Ellen.

‘You’re worse than a girl,’ she laughed.  ‘Just put something in, we’re never going to be ready.’

Luca grinned as he lounged on the bedroom floor.  ‘I was done in minutes flat.’

‘I bet you only took one change of clothes,’ Ellen replied. ‘It’s no wonder.’

‘It’s a book tour, how many changes of clothing could I need?’

‘You have to have some standards,’ said Ellen.

‘This book tour…’ Luca began, ‘are there going to be good looking women on it?’

‘Ahem…’

‘Apart from you, Ell, of course,’ Luca said quickly.

‘Seriously,’ Jacob said as he stuffed a sweatshirt into the case, ‘you know you give all males a bad name?’ He glanced at Ellen.

‘Ha ha, Jake, Ellen is not falling for that I’m so sensitive act that you put on.  I know you were thinking the same thing.’

‘I was not.’ Jacob said, doing his best to look outraged at the implication.  Then he grinned. ‘Are there, though?’

Ellen rolled her eyes. ‘You’re both ridiculous. You have to be polite to all the tour hosts and the coordinator or Sharon will be furious with you.’

‘Who’s Sharon?’ Luca asked.

‘Sharon Sant!  Only the woman who created you!’

‘Is she good looking?’

Ellen frowned. ‘I think she’s, like, really old.  And quite short… oh what am I saying, it doesn’t matter! Stop being such a sleaze, you’re just impossible.’

‘That’s not my fault,’ Luca said with a hurt expression. ‘Sharon made me like this so if I ask whether she’s hot, that’s her fault.’

‘He’s got a point,’ Jacob said.

Ellen sighed.

Luca thought for a moment and his expression clouded. ‘You don’t think Sharon heard me say that, do you?’ He looked up at the ceiling as if I might be hiding in there.

‘Of course she did, you douche, she’s making you say it!’ Ellen replied.

‘You mean she’s here right now?’

‘How on earth do you think any of us are here right now?  She’s omnipresent and she can make us do anything – I mean, we live or die by her hand.  And if you’re not careful she’ll have you sticking a kipper up your nose.’

‘Wow!’ Luca said in awe. ‘So she’s like some all-powerful guardian of a world?’

‘It’s not a new concept, Luca,’ Ellen said drily.

‘Really?’

‘What do you think your mum goes to church for every Sunday?’

‘I don’t know. I think she quite fancies the priest…’

‘She goes to pray to an all-powerful guardian of our world.’

Luca gave a confused frown.

‘God!’ Ellen said, her voice rising in exasperation.

Jacob looked up from trying to locate some deodorant in a drawer. ‘Was someone talking to me?’

Ellen sighed. ‘Go back to your packing, Jacob.’

‘Where are we staying, anyway?’ Luca asked trying not to snigger now.

‘I suppose we’ll stay with each of the tour hosts as we go on our way,’ Ellen said. ‘They’re all over the world.’

‘Are there any in New Zealand?’ Luca asked with a wink.

‘Only people who have read the book will get that joke, Luca, and as the point of the tour is to persuade people to read the book, I think that your clever quip might be a bit wasted at this stage.’

‘I hope we get separate rooms,’ Jacob cut in, raising his eyebrows at Luca, ‘you snore.’

‘I snore?’ Luca cried. ‘That’s rich coming from you.’

‘I don’t snore,’ Jacob said sniffing at a trainer before deciding to throw it into the case.

‘You do,’ Luca said, ‘you snore like the Astraen equivalent of a water buffalo.’

‘Astraen water buffalos aren’t so noisy, they sort of squeak, really,’ Jacob answered thoughtfully.

‘For Pete’s sake!’ Ellen said, throwing her hands into the air. ‘Would you just get ready, we’re going to be late and Sharon will have to go without us!’

‘I’m done!’ Luca cried. ‘It’s old Watcher Lightfoot over there holding us up.  Who knew being a cosmic guardian needed such a coordinated wardrobe?’

‘Shut it, Valvona, we don’t all want to parade around in a black thong for the whole two weeks,’ Jacob said.

‘You’re just jealous because you could never pull off a black thong,’ Luca fired back.

Jacob grinned at him. ‘Who the hell would want to?’  He turned to Ellen. ‘Where are we stopping off?’

Ellen pulled out a piece of paper and unfolded it. ‘This is the tour itinerary that Sharon from Fiction Addiction gave me –’

‘Is she good looking,’ Luca interrupted.

‘Funny,’ Ellen frowned. ‘Do you want me to tell you or not?’

‘Yes, he does,’ Jacob said. ‘Go on.’

‘First stop,’ Ellen began again, ‘is on 8th July for Me, My Books and I.  Second stop is on 9th July at Love, Laughter, Friendship. 10th July is A Novel Review, followed by Review Buzz on 11th July and Bookalicious Travel Addict on 12th July –’

‘Are there going to be many more of these?’ Luca cut in.

Ellen glared at him.

‘Sorry, just asking.’

‘You get the weekend off,’ Ellen continued. ‘Then we have Stephanie Keyes in the US on 15th July, Tugcenin Kitapligi on 16th July, Lucky Books from Romania on 17th July, Amy Bookworm –’

‘She’s cute,’ Luca interrupted.

‘Luca,’ Jacob said, ‘if you don’t let Ellen finish, she’ll be in my mum’s freezer looking for a kipper to stick up your nose, never mind Sharon.’

Luca grinned. ‘Sorry.’

Ellen threw Jacob a grateful look. ‘Amy is on 18th July and then finally it’s Bookishly Devoted on 19th July.’

‘Cool, sounds like fun,’ Luca said.

‘I think it will be,’ Ellen replied, ‘if we can put up with each other for two weeks with no incidents involving kippers and nasal cavities.’  She turned to Jacob, who was just fastening his suitcase. ‘Ready?’

Jacob nodded. ‘Ready.  Let’s do this!’

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Serial Spoilers

I’ve recently seen two separate blog posts about spoilers in reviews (check out both excellent sites, Liz Loves Books and Between the Lines)  and many other tweets/Facebook comments.  It started up a Twitter conversation of my own with fellow authors and we got to the point of how difficult it is for the author themselves not to spoil when writing a book series. 3065361442_21d4cc62e7

This was a problem I wrestled with for some time when writing the blurbs for The Young Moon and Not of Our Sky, which follow on directly from Sky Song.  While it was difficult enough to write a blurb and talk about The Young Moon in interviews, it was particularly problematic when it came to Not of Our Sky.  In the final book, almost everything that happens is as a direct result of what happens in the final chapter of The Young Moon, and without referring to that, it was pretty much impossible to give any indication of the story.  The other side of this issue is that I want to give some information, and it has to be enough to hint at something that will tempt the reader to come back to books two and three.

I’ve read one or two reviews of the follow-on books to Sky Song, and some give away more than others.  While this makes me a little nervous, I completely understand how difficult it is to comment in any meaningful way without referring to events that might be viewed as spoilers.  It’s a tough call when you have to decide how much information is too much.  I can also see why potential readers would be put off by spoilers.  I can’t tell you how angry I was Christmas 2010 when the Radio Times gave away the series finale of Merlin by printing the teaser before the penultimate episode had aired!

As usual, everything comes back to Merlin!  It’s not like I’m obsessed or anything. But the question remains: When it comes to series sequels, how much is too much?  What are your thoughts?

N is for Not of Our Sky

This is a bit of a cheat and I’ll apologise right up front.  I have a new book out 1st May, the third book of the Sky Song trilogy, Not of Our Sky, and today is the day of the cover reveal.  It just happens to coincide with the letter N in the countdown.  A happy accident… honest. So, if you don’t want to see, you can click away now and we’ll say no more about it 😉

not of our sky purple full length-page-0Jacob fights for his life and Ellen faces her toughest decision yet: whether to finally reveal his true identity to his parents. For Jacob is one of the Watchers of Astrae, a race of beings with extraordinary powers, and sworn to protect the natural order of the universe. But Jacob has broken one of Astrae’s oldest laws and chaos threatens to cover the Earth.

Alex faces the fall into darkness that has long been prophesised. Her only ally is Makash, their bitter and twisted uncle, and Jacob has already succumbed to the shadows.  Who will be there to catch her?

With the first part of the ancient prophecy already coming to pass, it seems their only hope lies in the second part – the riddle of the star that will bring them back to the light. But what does it mean? And why do Jacob, Alex and Ellen all dream of the same lighthouse, night after night?

F is for Friendship

Biggles couldn’t have survived the Congo without Ginger and Algy, Harry wouldn’t have defeated Voldermort without Ron and Hermione (what do you mean, spoilers?  Where have you been?) and Jacob wouldn’t have made it to Astrae without Luca and Ellen (what do you mean, you’ve never heard of the last three? Where have you been?).   The best stories have amazing friendships at the heart of them.  I could totally mention Merlin and Arthur here, but see how I resist the urge?

Nope, it’s no good, there’s a photo coming up…

merlin_s5_carousel

Ok, so that boil’s lanced.  Pretty, though…

Why are these friendships so epic?  What makes these people risk everything for each other?  Why am I writing this post as it’s quite clearly running away from me?  It might have something to do with the fact that I really wanted to use F to swear, but, you know, it’s not allowed.  As I pondered this I asked my daughters why they thought friendship was important in stories.  My oldest suggested that there would be no interaction for the protagnoist without friends.

‘But,’ I pointed out, ‘what about his enemies?  He’d interact with them.’

‘Sure,’ my little one agreed, ‘but he/ she needs friends to help him do whatever he needs to do.’

Maybe it goes back to the bravery thing.  Who cares about a hero that’s so invincible he doesn’t need anyone else?  There’s no admission of fear or weakness, no call for help to prove his vulnerability.  That’s boring.  Every hero needs a helping hand once in a while, and he’s more interesting for it.

So F is for friendship.  My favourite thing in all the world.

Hello insomnia, goodbye sanity…

As the deadline gets closer for the release of The Young Moon and I’m still behind on promo for Sky Song, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m actually normal in the head.  I look at my kids like I don’t know who they are, I put food in the oven that emerges four hours later as an unrecognisable husk, I wash dishes in shampoo, I go shopping in odd shoes.  In short, I’m lost in a world where real people have been replaced by book characters.   But I don’t mind admitting that, despite all this, I’m having the time of my life.

page-0 (2)The decision to self-publish was a long time coming, and part of me thought that it would make me feel like a failure for not having a proper deal (although I was lucky enough to land one for Runners shortly afterwards) but the opposite turned out to be true.  Instead of feeling like a failure, right now, I feel like captain of my own ship.  I call the shots – I decide what I write, what my deadlines are, how I market my wares.  At the moment people seem to like what I do and the feedback is good, I’m productive and full of new ideas. I may not always feel this way, and it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t still love an agent, but, after years of hiding my stories away,  it seems like my writing career has finally begun.  This year is already mapped out in terms of releases, until September at the very least, and possibly beyond.  And even if no one is reading them, I’m having a ball writing them!

The Young Moon is the second book of the Sky Song trilogy, due to be released for Kindle 8th March 2013.

Jacob’s back…

I’m happy to tell you that with The Young Moon almost ready for release, I may be allowed out from solitary confinement soon. Just for a short walk around the garden, mind, and ten minutes to wash the dishes before I’m shackled back at the laptop for Not of Our Sky.

Here’s a sneak preview…page-0 (2)

It is a prophecy, Watcher.  And it foretells your destruction.

So comes the stark warning from Astrae.  But what does the prophecy that tells of the young moon actually mean?

Two years have passed and Jacob’s search for the second Successor brings him back to Earth. But his Watcher powers seem to be useless as the other Successor remains shrouded in mystery… And he soon discovers that his bitter uncle, Makash, is also hot on the trail.

Jacob’s quest takes him and Luca halfway across the globe in a race to get to the other Successor first. As they get closer to their goal the body count starts to rise and Jacob and Luca are dragged deeper into Makash’s deadly game as the net closes around them.

All Jacob has to do is cheat death, yet again, find another like him amongst the seven billion people that swarm over the face of the planet before Makash does, and thwart the prophecy that spells his doom. No pressure then…

The Young Moon is the second book of the Sky Song Trilogy.

The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing

Questions and Answers signpost

I’ve been tagged in the next big thing blog hop by the surreally hilarious Laurence Donaghy.  I have the same list of questions that I have to provide entertaining answers to and then I tag two writerly friends.  Oh well, here goes internet oblivion….

1. What is the working title of your next book?

It’s called ‘the one where Sharon’s writing fairy locks away her Merlin DVDs and uninstalls the youtube app from her phone and ties her to a chair until some words come out’.  Maybe that’s a bit longwinded, though.  We’ll go for The Young Moon instead.  It’s the second of the Sky Song trilogy.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

As it’s a sequel, I suppose I have to say that the idea came from the first book! At the end of Sky Song, we left Jacob **Sound of a truck roaring past** so, The Young Moon picks up two years on from there. There was always going to be three books and each one continues the overall story arc. Sky Song was as much about Jacob’s dilemma over his life choices as it was about his battle with the bad guy.  In The Young Moon there’s a whole bunch of different dilemmas around loyalties and who gets to choose who lives and who dies. Jacob gets faced with some really tough decisions and quite often has to deal with the consequences of making the wrong ones.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

If you wanted to be pedantic you could call it Young Adult fantasy.  But there is a feel of realism about it, and I’m very influenced by magical realist works, so I suppose, in that sense, it’s not fantasy in the way most would think of that genre.  There are actually a couple of my favourite TV shows that you could probably point to and say ‘like that.’ If you look at something like Life on Mars or Misfits, outwardly, the setting is very ordinary and mundane, but something extraordinary is happening just beneath the surface.  I think that Jacob’s story is like that.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

This is where I come undone.  Colin Morgan’s face just pops up every time – not because he looks remotely like any of the characters, but just because I’d make sure I was on set every day!  This is a tricky question, though, because the main characters are all teenagers so the actors young enough to play them would probably be fairly unknown.  I think for Jacob’s best friend, Luca, Jonathan Bailey (from CBBC’s Leonardo) would be pretty cool.  For Jacob, I could really see Jeremy Sumpter looking right, although he may be a little old now as I’m still remembering him like he was in Peter Pan. Maybe someone similar.  But if Colin Morgan would dye his hair blonde then he’d be a definite Jacob!  Actually, for Ellen, someone who looks sort of like Katie McGrath would be good, only she’d have to look seventeen (sorry Katie!). Luckily I’m not a casting executive – my requirements would be pretty vague!

5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

It’s bad enough writing an ordinary synopsis!  One sentence?  Ok. I’m totally rebelling with one and a half…

All Jacob has to do is cheat death, yet again, find another like him amongst the seven billion people that swarm over the face of the planet before Makash does, and thwart the prophecy that spells his doom. No pressure then… 

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agent?

Sky Song is self-published so The Young Moon will follow suit.  Unless some miracle occurs between now and March and an agent takes me on.  What’s that you say?  More chance of hitching a lift in the Tardis?  To be honest, though, I’m quite enjoying self-publishing at the moment – it can offer a lot of freedom to a jobbing writer like me in terms of deadlines and creative decisions.

7. How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

If I have a good run at it, a first draft can take maybe 5 or 6 weeks.  I don’t exactly remember how long The Young Moon took but I’d say it was around that. It’s the editing and fine tuning that takes a lot more time than that.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within the genre?

I genuinely can’t think of anything like it. That’s not me showing off my originality, it’s me showing off how woefully unread I am lately!  There are lots of books that tackle ‘chosen ones’ with great destinies, but I don’t know any of them that do it in such a domestic setting with so much emphasis on the emotional impact of that.  The only one I can think of that deals with it any similar way is Harry Potter, but Jacob’s story is nothing like Harry’s other than he does have a destiny that he can’t escape.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Oh dear.  I have to say, again, that the first book inspired this book!  Sky Song came to me as a vague idea about a little girl whose father watched the skies every night.  She wondered why and it took her a few years to figure out that he was watching for someone, rather than something.  The little girl turned into a teenage boy and the thing that came from the stars was his destiny. Then I started to think that if someone just pitched up at my door when I thought I had my life worked out and landed me with a destiny I hadn’t asked for, how would I react?  That’s pretty much the heart of Jacob’s dilemma.

10.  What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It features hot teenage boys.  Am I allowed to say that? Oh… erm, then it has a very important message about friendship and… oh hell, who am I kidding, hot teenage boys is my USP!

Next it’s the turn of Emma and Jack…

Emma Adams is 21-year-old author of THE PUPPET SPELL, a quirky YA fantasy published by Rowanvale Books. She is currently studying English Literature with Creative Writing at LancasterUniversity whilst writing the sequel and also working on the creepy paranormal Darkworld series. Check out her  blog about her writing journey, where she posts weekly updates and writing tips, and also regular book reviews and features.

Jack Croxall is a YA fiction author and science writer living in Nottinghamshire. He tweets via @JackCroxall, and you can find out more about his novel, Tethers, by visiting www.jackcroxall.co.uk

Look out for their Next Big Thing Q&As next week.