Two lovely surprises in as many days!

First, a friend on Facebook pointed me to a recent article at Tor.com featuring Quicksilver as one of Five Books With Asexual Protagonists (and furthermore declaring my post about writing Tori's character to be "excellent", which was a nice bonus).

Then today I got a package in the mail containing two US hardcover copies of A Pocket Full of Murder which, at first glance, seemed no different from the author copies I already had. I was mystified at first, but then I spotted the note tucked inside:

Congratulations!

Your book has reprinted! Please find a sample copy enclosed.

Best wishes,

Atheneum

And sure enough, when I checked the title page it turned out to be the SECOND edition. Whoop!

I am so, so, happy and relieved to know that the book is doing well enough to exceed my publisher's expectations -- and I suspect making this year's CLA Top Ten Best Books for Children shortlist probably had a good deal to do with the bump in sales, so I am grateful for that all over again.
I am delighted to announce that my UK publisher, Orchard Books, has just signed me up for another two-book deal!

So that means that after Swift comes out in early 2012, readers in the UK and Ireland can look forward to a sequel to that book (tentatively entitled Nomad), and also a companion novel to my YA paranormal thriller Ultraviolet (tentatively entitled Quicksilver), in 2013/14.

***

Also in the good news department: just this very day, Knife was announced as the winning title for this year's Concorde Book Award!

I would love to have attended the ceremony at Downend School in South Gloucestershire, but had to be content with sending a video acceptance speech instead (isn't technology grand?).

***

And now I am off to celebrate with cookies!
...and it looks like the book formerly known as Touching Indigo will be known henceforth, in both its UK (Orchard Books, Summer 2011) and its US (Carolrhoda Lab, Fall 2011) editions, as...

(dun-DUN)

Ultraviolet.

I'm still getting used to it, but I think that my editors are right in saying that this is a more dynamic title which will have broader appeal, and also makes sense within the context of the book.

And just WAIT until you see the UK cover. They're still working on the design and copy and it'll be a while before I have anything final to post, but the sample I've seen is really beautiful and I'm very excited about it!
Yesterday and today have been full of such astonishingly good news I will burst if I don't share it (and I will probably burst ANYWAY, just from sheer glee):

First, my YA paranormal thriller Touching Indigo, which I sold to my UK publisher earlier this year, has now found a home in North America as well! Andrew Karre at Carolrhoda Lab, the new YA division of Lerner Publishing, has bought Indigo for publication in Fall 2011. Andrew and I have already had a great conversation about the book over the phone and I know he not only "gets" what it's about and what I was hoping to achieve with it, but has some wonderful ideas about how to make it stronger. I am really excited about having the chance to work with him.

And second, I woke up this morning to find that [livejournal.com profile] irrel, one of my favorite fan artists and an all-around lovely person, had done this gorgeous fanart of Knife and Paul. It is so utterly wonderful that pretty much all I can do at the moment is point and say "glug," or possibly "wkrstfst". <3 GO LOOK. RIGHT NOW. THEN TELL HER HOW FAB SHE IS.

*blissful sigh*
An example how a synesthetic person might see ...

Image via Wikipedia

The book of my crazy, mixed-up heart, the book I have spent the last three years of my life weeping and gnashing and tearing my hair out over, the book my agent (bless him) has loved with a mad passion ever since he read the first page back in 2007, and been determined to find a publisher who would love it as much as he did --

That book, ladies and gentlemen, has sold. Touching Indigo, a paranormal YA novel which I like to describe as Girl, Interrupted meets A Mango-Shaped Space* by way of The X-Files, will be published by Orchard Books UK some time in mid-2011.

I am delighted to continue working with the same UK publisher who has been so supportive of my faery books, and excited to find out what ideas my lovely editor Sarah will have for shaping and refining Touching Indigo into a book that (I hope) will delight my readers as well.

*capers about gleefully, showering Mint Smoothies upon the general populace*

And thanks to all of you who've followed this book's journey from the beginning and cheered me on along the way -- I don't know how I could have done it without you.

* Although as many of you know, I got the original idea for Indigo in the mid-90's, long before Mango came out. But it's a lovely little book and worth reading.

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I've had three different bookstore sightings of Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter reported to me this morning, two from the US and one from Canada, so I think it is safe to say -- The Book Is Out There.

*jitters nervously*
So thanks to the kind offices of [livejournal.com profile] colyngbourne and Michelle Harrison (whom I had not met before she messaged me the other day, but I have to say her book looks very tempting), I have learned that Knife is already available in bookstores across the UK. The release dates, they mean nothing! So I am quite harrowed to the depths of my soul excited about that.

Some authors practice Amazonomancy*, which is to say that they follow their Amazon rankings with obsessive fervor in the belief that this will tell them how their books are actually selling. But such things are not for me, because they involve numbers, and numbers mean nothing to me. I resent numbers for not being letters (or failing that, pictures) so I cannot bring myself to care about whether my Amazon ranking is in the tens or the millions.

Instead, I have found a much better way to drive myself crazy: Waterstone's (one of the leading UK booksellers) has a thing on its website that allows you to find out which of their stores have my book in stock, and how many!

It is very happy-making to realize that my book is available in Aberystwyth, for instance. But what does it mean that their stock level is at Medium? Does that mean they have sold some copies (yay) but not a lot (boo)? Or does it mean that they only chose to stock a few copies and nobody has bought even one yet (boo hoo)?

Like all arcane methods of divination, it leaves much to the interpretation of the reader. Should I be miffed at Woking Peacocks because their stock level is Low, or should I be delighted to hear that they have so few copies of Knife to offer? I have no idea!

However, I do seem to get the impression that Knife is being carried in quite a lot of stores, regardless of the actual quantity available. So at present I am looking upon this web page as a positive sign, rather than a baleful portent of dwindling stock to come.

(And if you are reading this post and coming to the conclusion that authors at any stage of the creative process are basically nuts, then yes, you would be quite right.)

--
* Link is to a very funny post by Justine Larbalestier, who did not invent the term "amazonomancy" but does a very good job of describing the craziness of writers.
I have terrible timing on these things. I really ought to wait until, say, Monday or Tuesday when people are no longer bothering with this nonsense of having families and/or social lives.

On the other hand, if I share this news at a time when hardly anybody is checking LiveJournal, maybe people will think it means I am modest and retiring. I like that idea, so let's run with it.

German rights for both Spell Hunter and its sequel Wayfarer have sold to a very fine publishing house called Hanser, which has made a nice thing of Angie Sage's Septimus Heap books over there, and seems eager to try and do the same for my Faery Rebels.

I am extremely pleased about this, as it means a great many relatives and friends on my husband's side will now be able to read my book in their own country and language. Tentative pub date is some time in 2010.

Between this and the UK deal for Wayfarer last week, I must say I am having a rather splendid December!


Wow, that is... not far away at all.
I've been sitting on this news approximately forever, but now that the contracts are signed my agent tells me it's time to share --

Knife has been bought by Orchard Books in the UK, and will therefore be available in Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand* by the time the summer of 2009 rolls around.

I am very, very happy about this.

--
* And potentially any number of other English-speaking places as well, though I'm not holding my breath for Namibia or the Falkland Islands.
I love my editor.

That is all.
(Ow! That iron's hot!)

As my Facebook friends will have heard but I stupidly forgot to mention here until now, I got my signed contracts and my first cheque back from HarperCollins this week. Woo, yay, whee, etc.!

Still no revisions, though. O Editor, Where Art Thou? Never mind, I know the answer: working frantically on other projects which are due RIGHT NOW, or possibly yesterday. Editors are perpetually and incurably busy.

In other happy news, I'm featured in the Fall 2007 newsletter (PDF) from my agent, Adams Literary. They've done a little piece on my blog, and included two of my contract-signing photos. Very exciting! (And if you're reading this and have just arrived here from there, hail and welcome.)

Also, if you're interested in learning how to write a successful query letter, you may want to check out the [livejournal.com profile] fangs_fur_fey community, where a number of us have been sharing our queries and answering questions about them. I'm not scheduled to post mine until Sunday, but as most of you know, it wasn't the letter that made the difference for me, it was the referrals. So while I am including the letter for folks to look at, I'll also be talking about networking and the importance of maintaining good relationships with agents and editors, even those who reject you.

Finally, I've just swiped this meme from [livejournal.com profile] mistraltoes, and post it here for anyone who may feel inclined to answer:

What would you say are the trademarks of my writing? What themes or quirks or turns of phrase have you noticed? What is it that makes a story by me -- well, a story by me?

Go on, mock me. I know you want to. :D
Otherwise known as picspam, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] avarill and her camera recording the big moment for posterity...

Okay, so possibly not exciting to anybody but me. Nevertheless, here it is )

I would like to be able to report that I celebrated with some expensive fizzy beverage, but I actually hate champagne and am pretty meh on the non-alcoholic substitutes as well, so I just made tea and watched Doctor Who with [livejournal.com profile] avarill instead. After all, I was already drunk with happiness bubbling inside.
For the past nine days I've been enjoying a visit from the always-delightful [livejournal.com profile] avarill, who has stayed in my home on several occasions now, and yet for some strange reason is still willing to fly here all the way from Californ-eye-eh to experience the mayhem again. This time she even made us pulled pork, which was far above and beyond the call of visitor duty.

We also did some geocaching in nearby Mennonite country (and found three more caches on the trails behind my home), spent a day meandering around the Toronto Zoo, and watched all my favorite episodes of S3 Doctor Who, after which [livejournal.com profile] avarill heartily agreed that Martha Jones is Teh Awesome. (I think I may also have converted her to Heroes, but time will tell. I definitely made a Chad Vader fan out of her, though.)

I did not get any writing done, but I'd already decided that I would be much better to just take the week off and let my ideas compost a bit. I didn't expect the composting to yield three new ideas for an entirely different book than the one I'm working on, but they were ideas for Knife and I'll be revising that soon in any case, so that was all right.

And speaking of Knife, I got my contract from HarperCollins this week! [livejournal.com profile] avarill took pictures as I signed it -- they're on her camera and she's on a plane at the moment, but I'm looking forward to having a record of the big event. The funny thing is, even though I dutifully read through all sixteen pages to make sure I knew what I was signing, it didn't really hit me until I got to the third-last page and saw that they'd assigned me an ISBN number.

My book. Has an ISBN.

I know it's hardly a rare and precious thing. But the sight of that number just made the whole book-getting-published thing seem suddenly real in a way it hadn't before. In fact, I may even have squeed when I saw it. Just a little.

Anyway, contracts are signed and back in the mail. And next week I shall start in again on Touching Indigo and see how much progress I can make before my revisions on Knife arrive...
I've just heard back from the editor who's been looking at Knife, and she feels that this revision has finally dealt with the problems that were making her hesitate. She plans to pass the manuscript on to her boss for him to look at (with the caveat that he is very busy right now, but she will keep checking with him and try to get me a response as soon as possible).

It's not an offer, it's not a sure thing, but it's a definite step forward. I am heartened.
Right now the full ms. of Knife is on its way to two agents, and while I'm waiting on their responses, I've been thinking about what specific qualities I'd like in an agent -- aside from the obvious ones like being reputable and qualified and knowing the ins and outs of the publishing business and having a good track record of sales, and generally being a decent sort of person.

[livejournal.com profile] jaylake's just written a helpful post on the writer-agent relationship, and I agree with a lot of what he says, though not all. As [livejournal.com profile] arcaedia points out in her response, not all agent-writer relationships begin the same way, and her personal experience as an agent is different from what [livejournal.com profile] jaylake suggests is the norm. [livejournal.com profile] jaylake also believes that agents ought to live in or around New York City, and although I used to worry that might be the case, I've read enough now to feel differently. Agents Erin Murphy and Kristin Nelson, for instance, have both remarked that most business between agents and editors is done over the phone, not at the mythical business lunches, and therefore there's no particular advantage to an agent being located in NYC as far as sales go. As long as they're willing to make occasional trips to New York in the line of duty, that usually covers things just fine.

So, I'm not going to worry too much about the fact that I've only met one of the two agents I've queried in person, nor that one of them is located thousands of miles away from NYC. I don't think either one of those things is going to make a big difference in the end.

Qualities I'd really like to find in an agent )

In other news, I have got my copy of First Draft in 30 Days and am eagerly perusing it. I have no idea whether the system will work for me, but I'm definitely interested in giving it a try when the New Year rolls around. Only with my schedule it's more likely to be First Draft in 60 to 90 Days, but the author of the book says that's just fine.

Also, in case there was any doubt that I am a masochist, I just sent my hook for Knife into Miss Snark's current Crapometer. I won't be showing up until #314, and she's only on about #50 at the moment, so it'll be a few days before I get her comments (and I think I can already anticipate half of them). But it's definitely worth skimming over the current Crapometer entries to see what makes a hook work and what doesn't.
Today I applied for the SCBWI's Kimberly Colen Grant, with only a few days to spare before the deadline. I spent about two and a half hours last night composing my 250-word letter, which tells you how frighteningly anal-retentive determined I am to give this thing my best shot.

If I'm chosen for the grant -- although I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, as I hear rumors that the committee doesn't care much for fantasy, and I know there's bound to be hundreds of other applicants -- then I get $2,500 and an all-expenses-paid trip to New York in February to attend the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference, where Susan Cooper is the keynote speaker [insert SQUEE here].

And if I'm not chosen, well, then, there's always next year...
1. Yes, I am alive. I CANNOT WRITE COHERENT PROSE AND I WANT TO DIE, but I am alive.

2. I had a fabulous time at the SCBWI-MI Fall Conference last weekend. Nice drive, gorgeous grounds, enjoyable (and practical!) speakers, delicious food, helpful critiques, and I finally got to meet Cheryl Klein. We geeked out over HP and yammered at each other so long that the conference staff started to worry that I was holding poor Ms. Klein hostage while I regaled her with the entire plot of my novel, or something equally horrific. Fortunately another staffer who actually knew the score set the story straight before they felt obliged to march over and remove me bodily from the con suite.

Also, my 3-minute reading from Knife was a big hit at the Open Mic night. People kept asking me about it all weekend and saying they'd love to read more. Yay! (I read the pond scene, for those who know what I'm talking about.) I also got to talk to a lovely agent-type person who responded to my post-conference query within twelve hours and told me to send her the full ms. when I'm done the revisions. Which would be really nice EXCEPT I CANNOT REVISE FOR TOFFEE.

3. Oh, Heroes, I think I love you. I love your hokey dialogue and your breathy, earnest voiceovers and your improbably pretty cast (except for Greg Grunberg, who is neither pretty nor improbable, bless him). Oh, and your brain-eating** cliffhangers, too.

4. Also, I have seen the Lost premiere and FISH BISCUITS ARE LOVE. Even if the bears are smarter. (Sometimes it doesn't take much, admittedly.)

5. *hates on Chapter Twelve* WHY HAVE I COMPLETELY LOST MY GRIP ON THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE?!?!

--
* For [livejournal.com profile] lizbee and [livejournal.com profile] cesario, a brief sample of our conversation:

CHERYL: So how's RUSS-L been doing?
ME: *mirthless, hysteria-tinged laughter*


** This may or may not be a pun.
So I was making up business cards for the SCBWI conference I'm attending next weekend, and somehow I ended up putting a URL for Knife on the card, in spite of the fact that I didn't actually have a page set up for it yet.

But now I do. And besides the Prologue it also includes a link to Chapter One, for anyone who might be interested.
Except my aim isn't nearly as good as Mary Russell's, so you may want to duck...

Anyway, further to my last entry, I've been trying to follow [livejournal.com profile] alg's suggested format in writing up a pitch for my manuscript. Here's what I've got:

Title, status, subgenre, word count, style, brief description of the plot including character motivation )

Why I wrote this book, what else I've written, and what I expect from my writing career )

Well, she did say it helps to have a sense of humor...

BTW, "Crowded House Radio" on Pandora is BEYOND AWESOME. I've listened to about twenty-five tracks now and only come across one that I didn't like.

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