Monday, June 20, 2016

Cover Reveal & Giveaway - WAIT FOR ME

At last, I can proudly share with you the beautiful cover for my debut novel, WAIT FOR ME, which will be published on January 31st by Harper Teen. A huge thanks goes to YA Books Central for helping me to unveil this gorgeous thing this morning, and for hosting the biggest giveaway I'v ever done.

So if you would like to win an advance copy of WAIT FOR ME, or some other amazing books, look for details of my giveaway down below!

... But first, a little about the cover ...

You might remember that WAIT FOR ME is set in the spring of 1945 – the last few weeks of World War Two – when Paul, a young German prisoner of war comes to work on a Scottish farm, where Lorna, the farmer’s teenage daughter, holds the fort while her older brothers are away at the war. I love the way that the Harper Collins team, and in particular, the cover’s designer, Aurora Parlagreco, caught the nostalgic romance of the story in this cover, taking you to a warm spring day walking through a field of long grass, though one that is tainted by the ever-present threat of war.

When my lovely Harper Teen editor, Alice Jerman, first sent me a draft of the cover early this year, I must admit, I had a tear or two. I really had no idea what to expect, so its atmospheric power really caught me by surprise. It was virtually perfect from the start, and with only a couple of tiny tweaks, it was done, and approved. And now it’s public!

So, if you are ready...

... Steady...

... Ta dah!

I really hope that you can hear this beautiful and evocative cover calling you to Scotland, in the same way it calls me home.

But wait, there's more...

Yes, there's a Giveaway!

To mark this next step on the path to  publication for WAIT FOR ME, my friends at YA Books Central are hosting a fantastic giveaway for me, including an advanced copy of WAIT FOR ME!  To win one of the three prizes, all you need to do is visit the cover reveal page.

The prizes are: 
  • One winner will receive a signed Advanced Reader Copy of WAIT FOR ME, along with an author-curated goody-bag of some of the best Scottish treats that were definitely not available under wartime rationing! 
  • A second winner will receive a trio of YA historical novels from Harper Collins along with some WAIT FOR ME swag.
  • A third winner will receive a $30 Barnes & Noble gift card and some WAIT FOR ME swag.

(Sorry, this one is restricted just to the US and Canada, but I will do some international giveaways very soon!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

WAIT FOR ME cover to be revealed this Monday!

This Monday, June 20th, YA Books Central will help me reveal the cover of my debut novel, WAIT FOR ME. The cover reveal is the next major milestone in the life of this book and it really begins the countdown to publication day on January 31st 2017, and and to celebrate, there will a fantastic giveaway competition you can enter.  

The design team at Harper Collins has done an amazing job in capturing in one image the atmosphere of the story, which is set in Scotland in the last few months of World War Two, and I can’t wait to show it to you. I hope you'll like it as much as I do.

From Monday, if you are in the USA and Canada, you will also be able to pre-order your copy of WAIT FOR ME from indie booksellers like Houston's Brazos Bookstore as well as from Barnes & Noble, Amazon and the other major booksellers.

In the meantime, I thought I would share, very belatedly, another visual treat. The beautiful aesthetic palette below was created by another YA debut author – also a Swanky 17 and my agency sister at New Leaf Literary – the lovely Emily Bain Murphy whose novel, THE DISAPPEARANCES will be published by Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers in June 2017. She created this collage for WAIT FOR ME as part of our Instagram challenge in May, and I was so thrilled. Thank you, Emily!

See you at YA Books Central on Monday for the cover reveal!

Cover aesthetic for WAIT FOR ME, created by Emily Bain Murphy,
as part of our Swanky 17 Instagram Challenge in May

Monday, June 13, 2016

Barnes & Noble B-fest - a festival of YA fun and games!

Teen readers and writers across the US have had such a fun weekend, thanks to Barnes & Noble and its B-FEST celebration of YA books. Some of the biggest NYT bestselling authors appeared in stores along with many other published authors. They even welcomed soon-to-be-published authors like me and the other Swanky 17s to join in too, and we were all so proud to be part of it.

Dax Varley reads from her latest book,
I appeared at two B&N stores in Houston. On Saturday, at Barnes & Noble in River Oaks, I led a session alongside the much-published gothic & horror author, Dax Varley. The teens all took part in a YA Spelling Bee in which they had to spell words from Harry Potter and Doctor Who, with the best spellers winning tote bags and t-shirts. And we played Story Ball – whoever catches the ball when it’s thrown has to provide the next line in the tale - during which we wrote a collaborative story, which ended up showing more than a little of Dax’s gothic influence. I promised the group that I would ‘publish’ our story on this blog. Here's the full text of BAPTISM IN BLOOD, which was very ably scribed by B&N’s Michelle Nelson. Why not let us have your feedback in the comments below?

Baptism in Blood

The eyes in the painting follow him down the corridor as the footsteps echo off the wall. And when he looks back he sees her again, the girl from the dream!

Her hair is as crimson as the blood on the walls and her eyes are as blue as the sea. She wears ragged jeans and a t-shirt. She opens her mouth with a blood curdling scream. “You killed him!”

Slowly walking back, his hands start to shake and a memory flashes in his mind. He knows now where he knows her from – the haunted art museum in Aberdeen. He glances around nervously as if looking for an escape, and stammers, “I. . .  I. . . I. . . don’t know what you are talking about.”

He looks up to meet her stare, but she is gone, like a tear in the rain. He starts to run, sprinting away as the floor crumbles beneath him.

The painting falls as he stumbles into the canvas, and the world changes into shifting colors - midnight blue, blazing yellow – and he realizes there is no way back. Suddenly a gust of wind drops him to the ground with a thud. But he realizes the ground is now a floor of an artist’s studio. On the wall around him are paintings just like those in the haunted art gallery.

There is an artist in the corner painting and it is the girl from the dream. She is painting him. As she finishes, she slashes a red-fueled paintbrush in a huge X across his body in the painting.
When he looks down at himself, he sees blood dripping down from an X slashed across his own chest.

She turns to him and screams, “He was the only one left!”

Suddenly every painting is slashed with a red X. She turns her head to stare at him and whispers, “Death.”  Then her voice drops even lower and she says, “One must not kill an artist, for if you do, his last painting will be forever branded upon your chest.”

Chilling stuff, eh?

I show off one of the prize books on offer -
On Sunday, I was at Barnes & Noble Vanderbilt Square for a Teen Writer’s Workshop and we had so much fun. We came up with some 6-word stories, we took words from three brand new YA debuts and used them to create new stories. 

We described another person, using non-visual descriptions and we played “What if…?” – things like: What would have happened if the Sorting Hat had put Harry into Slytherin, not Gryffindor? What would life have been like for us right now if America had not won the War of Independence? 

All the teens (and pre-teens!) who took part were so enthusiastic about reading and about writing, it was an honor to work with each one of them as part of this fantastic weekend. 

I was also delighted to be able to bring along with me three 2016 debut authors, at least in the form of their books as raffle prizes. All kindly sent me signatures to put inside their books, so thank you:

Prizewinners at B&N River Oaks
Prizewinners at B&N Vanderbilt
Heidi Heilig

Sarah Alexander

Jeff Zentner

and also at River Oaks
Dax Varley - BLEED

I’m sure I speak for all the authors and teens who took part in B-FEST when I say a big thank you to Barnes & Noble for creating this opportunity for authors and readers to come together. And I’d also like to say a personal thank you to our local Houston organizers, Michelle Nelson at B&N River Oaks, and Noella Rismay at B&N Vanderbilt, who were so welcoming and supportive of this brand new author.

I do hope to see you all for B-FEST 2017!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Come join in the B-FEST fun!

I am so excited to be taking part this weekend in Barnes & Noble's B-FEST Teen Book Festival - a nationwide celebration of teen readers and writers - and these will be my first official public appearances as a (soon to be) published author!  Come along and hear me read from my forthcoming debut novel, WAIT FOR ME, and take part in some fun activities too. I will be at:

Fun and Games - YA Spelling Bee and Story Ball - AND PRIZES!! 
2030 West Gray Street, Houston, TX 77019 (713 552 8571) 

Writer's workshop - writing games, prompts and exercises - AND PRIZES!!
3003 West Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX 713 349 0050 

Did I mention already that there will be PRIZES? If you take part in either of the events with me, you have the chance to win signed copies of the hottest new books by other debut authors, including Heidi Heilig and Jeff Zentner, and you might even win the first Advanced Reader Copy of my own novel, WAIT FOR ME, which will be published on January 31st, 2017.

And if you can't make it to see me in these two Houston stores, there will be other amazing YA authors in every other B&N store across the country, so have a look at the Barnes & Noble website for more information.

See you this weekend!