Friday, 17 April 2015

Seed Blog Tour: My Road to Publication by Lisa Heathfield

My Road to Publication

They say that every published writer has at least one book in their bottom drawer. The one that didn't make it. I'm sure that there are exceptions to this, but I'm not one of them! SEED isn't my first book - I've got another one, tucked away. It's one I still have faith in, but it wasn't quite good enough to get onto the shelves.

     The great thing about my first book not getting picked up, was that I could write SEED without any expectation on my shoulder. That's definitely how my writing spirit prefers to work. I was free to write Pearl's story and if I didn't do it justice, then I would get on with the next one.

     Luckily, though, fate steered me in the direction of Veronique Baxter - an agent at The David Higham Agency. She read the first three chapters 'in one big gulp' and asked to see the rest. I couldn't believe that Veronique might want to take me on - she has incredible authors on her list, including the mighty Michael Morpurgo! I can't describe what it felt like when she said that she wanted to represent me. Getting an agent is a writer's dream - getting Veronique felt like I'd won the lottery!

     The next stop was editorial input from both Veronique and Laura West (also at David Higham), as we got SEED into shape to go out on submission. Then Veronique sent it out to publishers and we held our breath.

     One thing I didn't realise before I ventured into this inner sanctum of the book world, was quite how much breath-holding goes on. There are many weeks of nervous waiting and obsessive checking of your email's inbox. I was more realistic this time round though, having seen my first book stumble at the submission process. So I enjoyed it more - knowing that whatever the outcome, I was in a position where editors at top publishing houses were even reading my novel.

     There were rejections, of course, but two publishers were interested. It was a crazy situation to be able to choose. Stephanie Kuehn swung it for me. Electric Monkey, the YA imprint at Egmont, published her incredible novel, CHARM AND STRANGE and I couldn't pass up on the honour of being alongside her!

     When I went to Egmont for the first time, I felt like I was stepping on hallowed ground. Books have always had a slightly mystical quality for me and it was dizzying knowing that this was one of the places where some books started. Ali Dougal, my editor, was so warm and enthusiastic. And Lucy Pearse had even made me a seed cake! When I saw that Ali had written her notes by hand, I knew that she'd be the perfect editor for me.

     People ask whether I mind the editorial process - but I genuinely love it. I see it as an opportunity to spend more time with characters that I love and to get to know them even better. And working with such a brilliant editor as Ali was a complete privilege. 

     There's a saying that lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice, but it appears that luck certainly does. When Ali went on maternity leave, I couldn't believe it when she was replaced by the fantastic Lindsey Heaven, who is equally wonderful.

     With the editing complete, we now waited to see if anyone would buy the foreign rights. SEED sold to seven countries and it's extraordinary to think that my little book will be translated into all these different languages and be read by people in places I can only dream of going to.

    Next step was something I'd been really looking forward to - the UK cover! The designer, Ben Hughes, had a true connection to the book and what he came up with was astonishing. SEED's cover is beyond anything I could have hoped for. It's beautiful, unique and compelling and, as the lovely Abi Elphinstone said, it's like a disco on a book! I know how incredibly lucky I am - I think that Ben is a genius.

     The months building up to publication have felt like a dream and by the time this is on Kirsty's blog, SEED will be on the shelves of bookshops and libraries. I don't think I'll ever believe it. How can I be an author of a real, live book?! The whole experience is definitely a testament that if you truly wish for something, and work to achieve it, anything can come true.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Review: Liberating Earth

“The human race had every opportunity. We blew it, darling”

Take two Cousins from Faction Paradox.  Give them a world – the Earth, for example – and give them the power to change that world’s history as they see fit.  Then stand back and watch what happens…  Just what would happen if a couple of Cousins used our planet as their personal game board?  As they create one alternative reality after another, twisting history and reality into knots, only one outcome is sure: whoever wins, the human race loses.

For those who have not heard of it Faction Paradox started life as a spin-off of the BBCs popular science fiction show Doctor Who.  Originally conceived prior to the new series returning to our screens, Faction Paradox has now distanced itself from its origins and continues to be a franchise is its own right.  The premise of the series is that a vast war rages through time and space between two matched powers – The Great Houses (aka Time Lords) and an undefined Enemy.  The Faction Paradox are a third group who then use this conflict as an opportunity to promote their own interests.

This latest Faction Paradox collection is a series of short stories, the whole collection written exclusively by women, this shows as predominately strong women are the main protagonists.  The stories themselves have a linking narrative whereby the history of Earth is manipulated over and over to create new realities.  Each short story details one of the alternate Earths.  The stories/authors are as follows:

Dreamer in the Dark - E.H. Timms
Annie's Arms - Xanna Chown
The Mountains are Higher at Home - Juliet Kemp
Judy's War - Rachael Redhead
Red Rover Red Rover - "Q"
The Vikingr Mystique - Dorothy Ail
Life of Julia - Tansy Rayner Roberts
Project Thunderbird - Kelly Hale
Playing for Time - Kate Orman

The stories vary in style and tone, since each is set on a completely different earth to our own.  Individual stories are set in the past, present and future – and range between romance, comedy, horror and obviously science fiction.

Overall the quality of the individual stories is very high.  My personal favourite being “Dreamer in the Dark” depicting a world populated by medusa-like aliens where the human race are forced to be blindfolded at all times and are therefore reduced to a slave race.  “The Mountains are Higher at Home” is also a very strong story, an emotional tale of a warden species come to Earth to protect humanity from its own environmental devastation.  If I had any criticism of the collection I’d say that although the stories are themselves excellent, the linking narrative while well-written does not really hold them together.  Overall though a brilliant short-story collection.

If a printed copy of this title is purchased direct from the publisher Obverse Books then a free download of the electronic version of the book is also provided.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Seed by Lisa Heathfield

Seed loves you. Seed will never let you go.

Fifteen-year-old Pearl has lived her whole life protected within the small community at Seed, where they worship Nature and idolise their leader, Papa S. When some outsiders arrive, everything changes. Pearl experiences feelings that she never knew existed and begins to realise that there is darkness at the heart of Seed. A darkness from which she must escape, before it's too late.

This isn't really a review of Seed. I don't want to review this for fear of spoiling it. I came to this book only knowing that it was about a girl who is part of a cult. I actually think knowing only the very basic premise meant I was surprised all the way through and needed to keep reading to find out what happened next.

This book is dark and creepy and with leave you chilled by the end. I found myself getting more and more uncomfortable as the story progressed. This book is a real example of how YA can really take you to that dark place and it isn't all fluffy unicorns like some non YA readers seem to believe.

I urge to find the time to pick up this superbly stunning book. I for one am already dying to read the sequel. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

An Island of our own by Sally Nichols

Siblings Jonathan, Holly and Davy have been struggling to survive since the death of their mother, and are determined to avoid being taken into care. When the family's wealthy but eccentric Great-Aunt Irene has a stroke, they go to visit her. Unable to speak or write, she gives Holly some photographs that might lead them to an inheritance that could solve all their problems. But they're not the only ones after the treasure...

This novel made me kick myself that I hadn't read any Sally Nichols before. I don't even know I haven't but I'm certainly going to make it a priority to read more in the future. This book was utterly charming throughout and I found myself absolutely captivated by the story of the siblings as they go on their treasure hunt to find their inheritance. The characterisation was stop and the story was so engrossing I read this is one very greedy sitting. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

Othergirl by Nicole Burstein

Louise and Erica have been best friends since forever. They're closer than sisters and depend on each other for almost everything. Just one problem: Erica has superpowers.

When Erica isn't doing loop-the-loops in the sky or burning things with her heat pulse powers, she needs Louise to hold her non-super life together. After all, the girls still have homework, parents and boys to figure out. But being a superhero's BFF is not easy, especially as trouble has a way of seeking them out. Soon Louise discovers that Erica might be able to survive explosions and fly faster than a speeding bullet, but she can't win every fight by herself.

Life isn't a comic book - it's even crazier than that

Othergirl has been on my radar for a long while. I've followed Nicole on Twitter for a long time and I was so excited when I heard she had her book deal I've always enjoyed her humour and geeky take on life and her personality shines through in this book. I adored every page and cannot wait to read more from Nicole in the future.

Othergirl is the story of Louise BFF to Superhero Erica. I adored Louise. She is just so normal and there is so much about her I could relate to. She's a worrier regularly found sat at home fretting over how things are going whilst her BFF is out being a superhero. She's sensible and practical. Whilst Erica is off with her head in the clouds thinking about joining the Vigils, Louise is worrying that her friend isn't doing her homework and the impact that'll have on her GCSE performance. She is the one patching up Erica's superhero costume in the evenings and spending her free time at school in the school library. She knits. I love that she knits. I love that girl and wish she'd been my BFF when I was a teen.

I love the relationship between the girls. They are so very different but it works and I loved seeing how the relationship worked and how they balanced one another out. I also adored Louise's friend Toby who was such an incredibly cute geeky boy.

I read this book in a matter of hours because the storyline was well paced and exciting and I foud myself unable to put the book down because I needed to know what was going to happen next. The superhero element made it a really exciting read. I loved how original the ideas in the story were taking traditional and frankly sexist ideas about female superheroes and challenging them.

All in all a book I adored. Nicole is an author who has found herself onto my autobuy list with this awesome debut novel.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

I'll give you the sun by Jandy Nelson

From the author of The Sky Is Every­where, a radiant novel that will leave you laughing and crying - all at once. For fans of John Green, Gayle Forman and Lauren Oliver. Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close - until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don't realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world

 I don't want to say too much about this book because I don't want to spoil it for anyone so this is going to be a super short review.

If you are familiar with Jandy's work it'll be exactly what you expect. It is beautifully written with heartfelt characters and a storyline that'll tug on the heart strings. If you aren't familar with her work you are in for an absolute treat. The story of the twins Noah and Jude will hook you from the first page and not let you go until you've been put through the emotional wringer.

Absolutely wonderful and highly recommended.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

March Review

Another month has flown by. It has been a busy one for me workwise so I've not read as much as I normally would. I have managed to read a lot of awesome books though.

Books Read
Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne (4 stars)
Hook's Daughter by Heidi Schultz (4 stars)
Under my Skin by James Dawson (4 stars)
The Beloved by Alison Rattle (5 stars)
Monster by CJ Skuse (5 stars)
Remix by Non Pratt (5 stars)
Gypsy Girl by Kathryn James (3 stars)
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (5 stars)
Geek Drama by Holly Smale (4 stars)
Pea's Book of Holidays by Susie Day (5 stars)
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (3 stars)
Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nichols (3 stars)
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (4 stars)

Book of the month

I literally cannot choose this month. Three of the books I read I adored for different reasons

Firstly I managed to get my hands on a very early copy of Monster by CJ Skuse and I loved it entirely. Really exciting teen thriller which I couldn't put down. My favourite CJ yet and I can't wait for more people to read it.

Next up is Remix by Non Pratt. I knew I was going to adore because it is Non's. I wasn't wrong. I read it in one greedy gulp and adored every page.

Finally I managed to get my hands on a copy of open road summer after hearing no end of wonderful things about it. It is perfect and I adored it.

Events attended.

I was lucky enough to go to the UKYA Blog awards. I nominated for four awards (and a fifth with Bookish Brits). I didn't win but had a brilliant evening regardless seeing all my lovely blogging friends and authors and publicists who attend. Quite honestly, while I would have loved to win, the fact that bloggers are being recognised in this way made me feel like it really didn't matter who won particularly and I was so pleased to see different bloggers whom I have become firm friends with over the last five years win because you could see how much it meant to them. I honestly hope it happens again next year because it has been one of my nicest nights out in a long while.

On the Blog

Spotlight on Sunny by Keris Stainton
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Love Bomb by Jenny McLachlan
The Beneath by SC Ransom
Violet and the Hidden Treasure
Under my skin by James Dawson
The Beloved by Alison Rattle
Hook's Daughter by Heidi Schulz

Blog Tours
Oska Pollock Playlist 
Jessica's Ghost Blog Tour
Crow Moon Blog Tour
Love Bomb Blog Tour

Other Stuff
Why we can't live without books World Book Day post
Can't wait to read

On April's TBR pile
I have a nice little pile of review books waiting for me to get stuck in
The game of Love and Death by Martha Brockleburgh
Liberty's Fire by Lydia Syson
Better Left Buried by Emma Haughton
Nest by Esther Ehrlich
Mindwalker by AJ Steiger
Minus me by Ingelin Rossland
Conversion by Katherine Howe
Phoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce
Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow