Wednesday 23 March 2022

Big News!

I've been sitting on this news for a few days, but I'm overjoyed to be able to announce that I have fulfilled an ambition I've held for fifteen years and will become a traditionally published author when my YA sci-fi novel The Becalmer is published by Creative James Media in August 2023!

I'm still processing the news really - I feel like my submissions process has been a whirlwind, as I only started querying in November last year. I'm aware that to get an acceptance after a few short months is the exception, not the norm, so I feel blessed. I gathered many rejections, including some very helpful and encouraging ones. One of those helped me strengthen my story by completely excising the first two chapters, which I'm sure played a part in its acceptance. When I queried Jean Lowd at CJM, I was stunned that she came back with a request for a full the very same day. A few weeks later, I attended a Zoom interview to discuss my book, and the next day, I signed a contract. Suffice to say that this is still sinking in!

This is my lockdown project - I started writing it in January 2020 and finished up editing in autumn 2021. Although it doesn't have to do with the pandemic, I'll always associate it with those couple of years and I'm glad that at least something good has come out of them. My MC holds a special place in my heart - she's determined, surprising and resourceful, and I'm overjoyed that she will now make her way out into the world. Here's a short blurb:

Gifted with the ability to defuse conflicts with her mind, Harica is headhunted to resolve a war via an arranged marriage, unaware that the reluctant would-be bride—the entitled Princess Jasmila—has similar powers. But the princess doesn’t use them for good, and she fights back, sending Harica into a coma through which she finds a mysterious liminal space populated by others who share her gift, both living and dead. She learns to do things she never thought possible, but when things get out of control, she almost swears off her gift forever—until events dictate that she must come to terms with the dark side of her gift and take ownership of it.

I'll provide more details in the coming months. This year, I'm also planning to release Reckoning, the concluding part in my YA trilogy, so it's a busy old time. Looking forward to the ride!

Wednesday 2 March 2022

IWSG March 2022

In a fractured and volatile world, one thing we can rely on is the first Wednesday of the month being the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted, as ever, by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a place to share fears and insecurities about writing without being judged. Join us if you haven't already. Today's excellent co-hosts are Janet AlcornPat GarciaNatalie Aguirre and Shannon Lawrence!

Today's optional IWSG question is: Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?

This is a pretty interesting question because I'm not afraid to take on difficult topics if it's what the story demands. I always think that whatever goes in has to serve the story rather than just being there for the sake of it, but that doesn't mean I don't worry about the possible reaction. Taking my recent WIP as an example, I had written a scene featuring an attempted sexual assault on my protagonist. Note "attempted"; the incident doesn't actually take place because my character deflects it by going inside the attacker's mind, which serves as character development because it's an aspect of her power she hasn't realised yet. However, when I sent the book to critique partners, I left out that part with a note that it was to be rewritten. This raised questions based on later references to the incident, and after a few discussions I ran the scene past them. They suggested that, with a few tweaks, it could be incorporated as an important part of the story. It was absolutely the right thing to do.

My reticence stemmed from a previous response from a CP for my dystopian series, who stopped reading after a rape scene. In hindsight, that was unnecessarily graphic, and I rewrote so this was only alluded to off the page, but in that case, it was also a necessary part of the story because it showed the controlling actions taken by a corrupt antagonist - but it was only one part of those actions. 

I have also written death and murder scenes, and these books are YA, but I believe it's important not to sugarcoat things for a younger audience or pretend that certain things don't exist. If it's handled sensitively, it can be a key part of fortifying, moulding and making a character.

If you're interested to hear others' answers to this question - I know I am! - you can find many more entrants to the IWSG here.