The launch date for MINRs is closing in fast! September 22nd!
I'm posting some bonus stuff here, sketches I've done, and a series of posters for the Great Mission to Perses (the planetoid in the book). Here is a sketch of Maria, one of the miner children who survive the attacks.
There are just a few weeks left to enter my MINRs book giveaway on GoodReads.
The draw is US only and will take place August 22nd. (ENTER HERE).
What am I giving away? Three signed ARCS (Advance Reader's Copies) AND some original artwork. These are sketches that I prepared to help me set the scene while I was writing the book.
To make it more fun I'm also going to add some of my original artwork to the giveaway. These are sketches that I made to help me when I was writing the book.
Artwork #2 - Digger.
MINRs is a sci-fi adventure story, set on an extraterrestrial mining colony. Diggers are the super-drills that allow the mining company to quickly explore underground for minerals. They also come in handy when the kids are on the run from space pirates.
REMINDER! The draw is August 22.
(The book birthday is September 22 from Simon and Schuster.)
My book MiNRs is out in September, and I'm already well underway on writing the sequel.
Before there was even a first draft there were images in my mind that I had to put on paper first.
These helped me shape the mood and feel of the story.
(My amazing editor Ruta Rimas was even more important of course!)
This was one of the first images I finished. I even included it in the original pitch proposal to Simon and Schuster. It's not any character in particular, but shows some of the bleakness and remoteness of life on another planet, one that's been attacked. I had it pinned to my studio wall for inspiration.
I'm often asked if I draw the pictures or write the words first when I'm doing a book. They happen at the same time and each feeds into the other. I'll always have paper and pens next to my keyboard to do a quick sketch of a character or scene.
Having said that, MiNRs isn't an illustrated novel (the way my Neil Flambé books are) but there are hundreds of sketches of the world of Perses in my drawing books and on my computer. I'll be posting some of them here from time to time once the book has it's official birthday. Which is....?
Any artist can tell you that there's always hard work, pain, and lots of stress, behind every success. That's the subject of the new book, Art Works. It's part of the Well Aware series from Pearson publishing - designed to get kids in schools to talk about mental health.
Laura Carlin and I got to interview some amazing artists (with links to their websites).
Today is the release day for the 5th Neil Flambé caper, Neil Flambé and the Bard's Banquet.
Every book you read has an acknowledgments section, usually thanking agents, family, friends, etc. I wanted to do something a little different this time, so I made my acknowledgments a kind of mini-essay on how a book is actually put together. It's a bit long, but here it is (or you can read it at the back of the book!)
All right savvy readers. I know that no one
ever reads these Acknowledgements (except for relatives who want to make sure
they are included. Hi Mom!) but this particular back page thank-you list is
going to contain some worthwhile advice. I promise.
A lot of people think writers work alone,
that a book is the end-product of one person’s effort and creativity, a story
born from the crucible of the tortured artist’s brain, sweat and pain.
This is total baloney.
A book is a team effort and these
acknowledgments are going to serve as a roadmap (of sorts) for how a book goes
from an idea in my brain to the book you are holding in your hands.
So yes, it starts with me having some idea
of where Neil and his gang of friends are headed to and what enemies they will
face. But then I start to do research so that I know what the world will look
like. In this case, the world is London.
So I buy guidebooks. I visit London (if I
can) and take pics, write notes, etc. I rely on the amazing research done by
Shakespeare scholars, mapmakers, dictionary writers and (yes) Wikipedia.
OF ADVICE #1 – Do research! Even a fiction book
needs to be real.
Only then do I start writing a first draft.
I should take a moment here to thank everyone who makes fair trade coffee
available at my neighborhood supermarket as well as the musicians who’s music
inspires me while I’m sitting in my attic. For this book there was a lot of
Gogol Bordello, Justin Rutledge and choral music from the Tallis Scholars.
I finally get through the first draft,
which then gets reviewed and ripped to shreds by my first team of editors – my
wife Laura and my incredibly smart daughters Erin and Emily.This might be BIT OF ADVICE #2 – always get someone to read your work who will rip
it to shreds. The most useless advice you will ever get is “I liked it.” Ugh.
Then I do spend a lot of time BACK in my
attic working and reworking the plot and characters until I think they are
ready to submit to my amazing editor Julia Maguire.
ADVICE #3 – Your first few drafts stink. They do.
Everyone’s do. Writing is about carefully rewriting
over and over.
Julia then goes through and points out the
big stuff – the plot points that don’t actually make any sense. Round one of
the editing process doesn’t even touch the (many) smaller mistakes in
speliling, grammmer and uther stuf.
I go back and rewrite the book again and
sometimes againandagain until we get the large issues worked out, and make sure
the book works with the rest of the series, and then we do a final edit.
OF ADVICE #4 – See #3, rinse, repeat. But also
don’t lose heart. And don’t get angry (hard to do). Each person at each stage
makes the book better.
Then the book gets sent to a copyeditor who
goes over everything we’ve gone over with a proverbial fine-toothed comb. They
always find dozens of mistakes. Some in spelling, some bigger. For this book,
Kaitlin Sevrini did one of the best edits ever, and I am thankful.
Many institutions are cutting copy-editors
from their budgets. That’s because they are idiots.
Of course, I also do the images for my
books. So the biggest shoutout goes to Laurent Linn, who is simply fantastic at
taking a rough idea from me, and pushing me to rework and rework it until it’s
worth putting on the cover or inside the book.
Then there are the people who lay out the
book, make the paper, the glue, the ink, bind the book, package the book,
transports the book and on and on.
(There are so many more, my agent Michael
Levine who talks to the big guns and Simon and Schuster, people such as Jon
Anderson and Justin Chanda, to arrange contracts, marketing and so much more.)
Then there are the librarians and
booksellers who get my book in the hands of readers who will get a kick out of
the goofy adventures of a cocky chef who solves crimes and occasionally does
So, yes, in the end it’s all about you, the
I love winter, but am feeling a desire to watch some baseball. In honour of that "catchers and pitchers report in a few weeks!" mania, I'm posting this picture of the great Jackie Mitchell for your edification. As the story goes, she struck out Ruth and Gehrig in 1931.
This is from my upcoming book Baseballogy - available from Annick Press on Feb 3rd! Whether Mitchell did or didn't K the Bambino and the Iron Horse isn't the point. She was an awesome baseball player and features big in my chapter on women in baseball.
(NOTE: I also did all the pics for this book on my tablet, instead of transferring pen and ink sketches. It was fun!)