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I began my newsletter in February 2006. Newsletters are posted in reverse chronological order.

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No. 9 / Nov/Dec 2006

Well, November flew by, with nary a newsletter from me. Apologies. November is NaNoWriMo, and with book 4 due to my editor in December, I spent the month working hard on that. Before I knew it, 1 December dawned.

Having missed a month, there's more news than usual, so to catch everyone up....

My book launch party was held on Friday, 13th October. You can see photos here.

Then we finally settled on a title for book 3. SpringFever was always a working title, and a lame one at that. We threw loads and loads of titles around, narrowed it down to three, then I took a poll amongst my friends. And the final decision is (drum roll please) SpringFire.

My publisher asked me to record a one-minute clip from SpringFire to use for a presentation, and it was so much fun that I ended up recording clips from all of the books and posting them on my site. You can listen to them, assuming your computer has the right plug-in for at least one of the formats. (The mp3s are smaller and should download much faster.) (Oh, and no plot spoilers, I promise.)

Not bad for an amateur home production with the mic from my dictation software and a freebie recording program downloaded from the net!

Finally, I can now unveil the cover of SpringFire.

For all celebrating holidays this month, may they be full of joy and good cheer!

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No. 8 / October 2006

AutumnQuest has been released! It should be in shops near you (if you live in the States). If your favourite bookshop hasn't stocked it, ask them to.

Since I can't just walk into a shop and see it on the shelves (it's not being released in the UK), I'm asking folks Stateside to take photos (using digital cameras or phones) and e-mail them to me. If I get enough, I'll put together a collage and post it on my website.

I've also been interviewed again, this time at the Veronika Asks website.

Finally, I forgot to tell you in my last newsletter that I've posted a photo album of my trip to Germany in August.

Work proceeds apace. Copyedits for book 2, rewrites for book 3, writing book 4. Oh, did I mention I have a full-time job?

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No. 7 / September 2006

The formal release of AutumnQuest is only 3 weeks away! And even better, it's now available here on Amazon.com. I don't expect it'll appear in bookshops much before the formal release date of 1 October.

I have my order of the books in-hand. Yes, folks, it's really a real book. Really!

And something else exciting happened: I've had my very first interview posted. You can read it here on the TeensReadToo website.

(To clarify for those of you who are unsure, AutumnQuest is being released in the US. Several international distributors have picked it up, so those in other countries should be able to have their local bookshop order it. But it might not be available until November outside the US.)

In other news, I've submitted the rewrite of book 3, which is going to get a new name. The hard work paid off: my editor likes the changes. There's still some smoothing out of rough edges to do, but this time round, I'm happy with the manuscript. Now on to getting the first draft of book 4 done. No rest for the weary. Or for the excited.

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No. 6 / August 2006

I'm excited to unveil the cover of WinterMaejic, book two of The DragonSpawn Cycle. Do I have a fantastic cover artist or what? (Nod your head up and down.)

AutumnQuest has gone to print. Too late to make any more changes now. YIKES! I'm working on the rewrites to SpringFever, which are due later this month, and I'm also making progress on the first draft of SummerDanse.

The other big news since my last newsletter is: Sam sold her book, Belonging! John Murray, a UK publisher bought it. There's already loads of interest in it from Italy, France, Germany, and the US. Big surprise....NOT!

I hope none of you have melted. (Did viewing my new cover make you feel any cooler, even if only for a moment?) Drink lots of water, and look out for those around you who are vulnerable.

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No. 5 / June/July 2006

June was an, er, interesting month for me. Yeah, in the 'Chinese way'.

It started out with the tail end of my friend Tammy's visit. For photos of our road trip to York, Hadrian's Wall, and Edinburgh, see my Tammy and Terie's Excellent Adventure album. We did some other cool stuff, but the time has been such that I haven't updated the photo album. So sue me. :-D (The photo Tammy took of me in the Elephant House? My editor is putting that on my book cover. The Elephant House is where JK Rowling wrote a lot of the early Harry Potter books, before she got too famous to go out in public without being bothered, and my editor likes the karma of putting that photo on my cover.)

Unfortunately, I ended up getting sick. Again. (rolls eyes) Fourth time this year, dang it. With that crud that's taking everyone (me included) a month to get rid of. Needing to get the rewrites on SpringFever done made it even worse. I did finish the book though (this draft of it, anyway), and I submitted the manuscript to my editor. I'm now waiting for him to send his comments shredding it to bits. Sigh.

I finished the proofs on AutumnQuest this weekend and sent those off. I can only hope I caught the vast majority of mistakes. (shudders) Hard to believe that puppy is going to be on the bookshelves (at least in the US) in just a little more than three months. Yikes!

I went to a children's writers retreat last weekend, and that was ab-fab. Pitched one of my series (a middle-grade one, for kids 7-9) to an editor, and she asked to see a proposal. Very cool, that. This past week I got an idea for a book (middle-grade, I think, but maybe young adult) that has a really cool system of magic and some other cool features that I'm keeping mum about right now. Conceptually, it's cool; we'll just have to see if I can execute it to the same standard of coolness. (It's summer. It's important to keep thinking 'cool'.)

That's it for now. 1 August, I can reveal the cover of WinterMaejic. 'Til then, stay cool. (For those of you Down Under, think warm.)

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No. 4 / May 2006

Well, one thing about being a writer is that it's not anything like as glamourous as a lot of people think. Which is a way of saying that there's not really anything to report this month.

I did finish the first draft of SpringFever last week. I took a whole week off working on it, during which I tried (and failed) to catch up with getting the handwritten manuscript onto the computer. Too bad that can't happen by osmosis. It's almost done, and I've started the rewrite, too. I feel pretty confident that I'll get it done by my deadline of June 1. The work is getting good critiques from my critique groups, and that's generally a good sign.

My friend Tammy is coming for a visit in less than two weeks. She's at least as much of an anglophile as I am. We'll be taking a week-long driving trip around the north of England and into Scotland, so next month's newsletter will have a link to a new photo album. Maybe that'll feel a little glamourous!

In the meantime, I've seen the close-to-final draft of the cover of WinterMaejic....wow! I can't reveal it publically until August, though. Hint: I'll try to post it during a heat wave to try to help people feel a bit cooler.

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No. 3 / April 2006

It's exactly six months before the scheduled release of AutumnQuest, and I'm now permitted to formally unveil my cover. You can see it here. Click the image to see a larger version.

I've been hard at work this month on book 3, tentatively titled SpringFever. Lots is happening in the story...so much that I'm afraid I might not get it done by the deadline. No, don't worry, I will do, whatever it takes. I just keep finding interesting things to do that I hadn't planned. So I'm doing them. I don't want the story to suffer over a deadline. My goal is to have the initial draft done by the end of April (earlier, if possible), let it simmer for a few weeks, then rewrite it in time to submit to my editor by 1 June. This would be easier if the story didn't just keep expanding!

I've been thinking lately about the serendipity of writing. The first time it crossed my mind was when I was thinking about the input from my editor. What if I'd sold the books to a different publisher and had a different editor? How would the books be different? Similarly, so many incidental details from life creep into our stories. Something I might notice while taking a walk is something that I work into the story that night. A few chapters later, that detail turns into something significant...in one case (about which I can't be specific without giving away spoilers for the whole DragonSpawn series) major plot points turn on that detail. What if I hadn't taken that walk? How would the story be different? Obviously, that's a rhetorical question, but one I can't help thinking about--when I should be writing, of course!

Remember my news from last month, about my friend Phil? Well, there's more exciting news from him this month. No, that editor hasn't bought his edgy YA novel (not yet, anyway). But she did ask to see the manuscripts for his absolutely delightful fantasy series for children 9+. And I'm not the only one who thinks it's delightful: they bought the series! They like it so much that they've managed to fit it into their schedule a year earlier than they usually would've. And that's not all. He's already sold the rights to six...count 'em, SIX...more countries, with several more possibilites in the works, including the US. Fingers crossed. When you start hearing press about Sebastian Darke, Prince of Fools by Philip Caveney, remember: you heard it here first.

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No. 2 / March 2006

I don't have any big news of my own to share this month, but exciting things have been happening to other people in my writing life.

First, my friend, Sam. I ghost-wrote her memoir, Belonging, which went through a long consideration process with a UK publisher who ultimately rejected it. But they (with Sam's permission, of course) passed it along to an agent, who was very excited about the project. She (the agent) wanted to sign Sam and bring in her own ghost writer, someone with more experience in the genre of adult memoir and with more availability than I have, and to whom I was more than happy to turn over the baby I'd midwifed. They all signed on, and I'm really excited to see the project moving forward. We're all hoping for a deal before long, so fingers crossed.

Next, my friend, Phil. He wrote a bloody brilliant, edgy YA novel. Very edgy. I know of a UK editor who really cherishes edgy YA books, and I told him (read that 'practically forced him') to send it to her. She likes it and wants to take it on, although she's not sure her house will agree. (Did I mention the novel is edgy?) But if her house won't take it, she said she'll help him find someone--either an agent or a publisher--who will.

So cheers for Sam and Phil!

SpringFever is progressing. It took awhile to weave a number of disparate bits and pieces of manuscript together, but I finally got that done this past weekend and it's all forward writing from here.

I'll be able to formally 'unveil' the cover to AutumnQuest on 1 April, so watch this space!

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No. 1 / February 2006

Welcome to my first newsletter!

I've waited until now because I thought it would be best to start with some real news, and now I have some.

Last week, I signed the contracts for the rest of The DragonSpawn Cycle. So it's officially official: the whole series is going to be published!

I've seen the cover for AutumnQuest, and I love it! The publisher decides on the cover, and there's always a chance the author won't like it...and can't really do anything about it. In fairness, I have to say that my publisher made me part of the process, and I daresay that if I'd really hated it, they might've made some changes. But I'm pleased to say that that didn't happen. I can reveal the cover publicly in April.

And now I'm hard at work on book 3, tentatively titled SpringFever. The title might change, so please don't quote me on it, but it'll do for now. A draft of this book was written for NaNoWriMo 2004 (see http://www.nanowrimo.org/ for more information about that silly endeavor). In the middle of chapter 5, the story went seriously off track. So I've kept everything up to that point and am moving forward from there. I'll keep reporting my writing progress in my newsletters, but I promise to do so in a way that won't give any of the story away.

I haven't quite finished the first draft of my mainstream teen novel, Secrets, Secrets, but I have to put it aside now to focus on SpringFever. I'm going to try to keep chipping away at Secrets, but for now SpringFever is a higher priority.