EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAY! Gewinnen Sie eine signierte deutsche Ausgabe von BREATHE—Gefangen Unter Glas12 April 2013
Here's your chance to win an EXCLUSIVE hardback SIGNED copy of the German edition of BREATHE--Gefangen Unter Glas. Only one such copy exists in the whole world! Open to all (though it's probably best if you can read German!). Viel Glück!
RESIST cover reveal!20 February 2013
So here it is, the much anticipated cover to Breathe's sequel.
BREATHE is almost in GERMANY!08 February 2013
Very excited to share this trailer with you for the German edition of BREATHE. Enjoy!
WIN BREATHE****04 January 2013
IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! So, in true Hobbit style, I'm giving someone a present: one shiny, new signed copy of BREATHE with any message you like inscribed. Get clicking and it could be YOURS! Good luck!
Interview with Sarah on her new novel Breathe12 September 2012
GIVEAWAY!!22 June 2012
Greenwillow and Bloomsbury have been kind enough to send me more ARCs. So in the run-up to the publication of BREATHE, I’ll be doing some giveways for book fans who want to get their hands on an advanced reader’s copy of my book.
This month I’ll be giving away two ARCS of BREATHE to readers (from the US or Canada only). Winning is simple. Here’s how:
a) Retweet info about my giveaway and follow me on Twitter before June 30.
b)‘Like’ my Facebook page and share the giveaway status before June 30.
(A lonely ARC waiting for a fabulous new home!)
That’s it—simples! And if you do both, you'll double your chances!
The two winners will be chosen at random and announced on this blog as well as on Twitter and Facebook. GOOD LUCK!
Book Expo America Roundup!17 June 2012
This year I attended my first BEA, and what a fabulous few days I had. After spending months locked in a writing cell, BEA was a wonderful opportunity to be with real people again! Writing is hard, and it can be lonely; meeting others engaged in the process or simply appreciative of that process is validating and encouraging.
It began for me on the Wednesday when I attended the Author Breakfast. John Green spoke, as did Chris Colfer and Kadir Nelson, and they were all fantastic, but the highlight for me was Lois Lowry, not least because she made me cry. If reading her work wasn’t enough to convince me that her career has been an attempt to pursue truth, her moving speech certainly was. Lowry is publishing the final installment in The Giver quartet, Son, this fall, in tribute to her own late son, and it is every bit as powerful as her previous works. Lowry is seventy-five years old and completely in command of her craft. With so many newly published writers milling around the Javits Center, myself included, it was important to be reminded that being a children’s writer is about more than that one big book, or one big series, but about continuing to search for new ways to speak to the spirits of young people as well as discover oneself.
(ARC of Lois Lowry's moving new novel, Son. Out in October)
I didn’t spend much more time at the expo after the breakfast on Wednesday (I’m on deadline!), but I was there again on Thursday for my author signing, which was as much fun as I’ve had all year. There was a huge line of bloggers, librarians, and authors lining up to get a copy of BREATHE, and when I met them, they were all so nice. The main problem with the signings at BEA is the time restriction; I found myself chatting to lovely people and then having to say a quick bye-bye because I was aware that I had exactly half an hour and no more to sign. Plus, as we didn't have an unlimited number of ARCs, I didn’t get to meet everyone who lined up because we ran out of books. But overall it was thrilling, and I send out my sincerest thanks to everyone who made the effort to line up and say hello despite the fact that it was the final day and most people were exhausted from walking and hauling books around.
(Meeting Andye, a delightful blogger from READINGTEEN.NET)
(Some of the beautiful business cards I picked up at BEA)
So now what? Well, I can’t wait for my next BEA. And it’ll be fun to hear what everyone thinks of BREATHE. But most of all I’m looking forward to continuing my writing and searching for ways to connect to human truths. As Lois Lowry so poignantly reminded me... that’s my job.
p.s. A MASSIVE thank you to Hallie Patterson (my publicist) and Martha Milhalick (my editor) for all their hard work both before and during BEA xxx
HOW TO GET AN AGENT20 April 2012
For many writers the Holy Grail seems to be snagging an agent because once you do, a book deal surreptitiously creeps your way. And I have to say that for me, this was pretty much the case. My agent, Julia Churchill of The Greenhouse Literary Agency, has been my fairy godmother since I signed with her back in September 2010. Along with her colleague in the US, Sarah Davies, and their foreign rights team, Rights People, Julia has sprinkled magical book-deal dust all over my life.
I’ve been asked by lots of people how I convinced Julia to give me a shot in the first place, so in answer to this question, here’s the lowdown on how I found an agent. Of course this is just my own experience, which will, no doubt, be very different from yours.
To begin, I’d say that there’s no need to be afraid of agents. Many writers view agents as being rather aloof; I’ve never found that to be the case. I had my first experience of literary agents when I did a short internship for an agency in NYC eight years ago. Behaviour many perceive as aloof is usually just good old-fasioned professionalism. The agents I worked for were willing to be contacted by unsigned authors, but they didn’t like to be hounded. Just like doctors, teachers, or pilots, agents are very busy people! (To read Nicky Schmidt's interview with Julia Churchill in which she outlines a typical day, click here.)
So how did I find Julia? Well, before getting an agent, I had been writing for ten years. I didn’t send out my first short story but did my apprenticeship the hard way: by writing every day—sometimes well, sometimes badly.
In the early 2000s, I completed a masters degree in creative writing where I focused on adult fiction. I then began working on a literary adult novel. To make a living, I taught English at high school level. I did this for six or seven years. I spent countless evenings, weekends, and holidays with my face in my laptop happily weathering my apprenticeship in adult fiction.
But just as I was coming to the end of this novel, and much to my surprise, I didn’t feel like working on it anymore. I sat on my bed, opened a beautiful, clean notebook, found a cheap ball-point pen, and began to write something completely different. What appeared on the page shocked me: it was a story, which seemed to be for children and it was in verse. This was a daunting moment, and yet I’m not sure how it came as a surprise as I’d been working with young people for such a long time. I continued to write, despite the uncertainty, and what emerged was an early draft of THE WEIGHT OF WATER.
(A replica of the fancy notebook where THE WEIGHT OF WATER began.)
It wasn’t a novel I imagined could sell, so once it was written it lay dormant for almost a year. During that time I applied for a writers’ residency using my adult novel as my writing sample, and to my delight, was offered a place. The residency was in Montauk, Long Island, and I settled in for the month to finish my masterpiece. But after a few days the masterpiece got antsy. It fought back and finally refused to be forged. This was when I went back to the children’s novel in verse. I started to reshape and refine it and to my amazement I found that we got on like old chums. At the end of the month, it was finished.
(The Barn in Montauk where I completed my residency.)
(The Barn in Montauk where I completed my residency.)
Not that I dared send it to an agent. Oh no! Appealing to agents was for the accomplished, resilient, and… might I say, conceited? It took some prodding from a friend to get me to even research agents who might be interested in the manuscript, and when I finally started to look I did find one who made me wonder whether I might have the courage to submit after all. I heard an interview with Julia Churchill and thought, “She’s nice!” That was it—a kind of gut reaction told me she could be the one.
I told my friend I’d found someone I would send the book to. He laughed and told me not to waste my time sending it to just one person. She was bound to reject it. I should send it to around ten agencies at a time. So I went back to the Internet to search for other agents. I felt like a stalker, but I did it anyway.
Then came the really fun part: the query letter. It isn’t rocket science, but it can be more daunting penning this than anything else. I was lucky to have my friend help me, but if you don’t have a writer-pal to rely on, here are a few tips (that worked for me):
· Know the agent’s name
· Keep the letter brief
· The synopsis should make your book sound unique
· Be professional and polite
· Believe in your book or no one else will. You have to at least pretend to believe in it.
· There’s a difference between confidence and arrogance. In fact, if you come across as wildly arrogant, you might also come across as slightly mad.
The letter took me a day to write. I let it stew overnight and in the morning made a few changes and sent it out to the three agents I’d found online, Julia being one of them.
Then I waited.
You hear stories about writers waiting six weeks to get a response, even a standard rejection, but within a week I got a very short email from Julia saying she liked the beginning of the book and would be happy to read a little more if I sent it her way. Which I did.
Then I waited again.
And there are even more stories about how you have to wait six months to hear from an agent once they have your full manuscript, but again this wasn’t the case. Julia responded within a few days. Her email began with delicious flattery and a promise to call me within a few days. I was on a New Jersey beach at the time. The sky was grey and the sea was choppy, but for some reason I felt the need to swim. I jumped into the Atlantic and paddled about a bit before getting out and emailing a reply.
Julia called within a few days, on a Sunday in fact, and offered to represent me. She was the first agent to respond, but there was never a doubt in my mind about accepting her offer: Julia Churchill was always the one I wanted, and the speediness with which she read my work was an early indication of how passionate and dedicated she is.
Together we made a few changes to the novel, and soon after submitted it to publishers.
I’m asked occasionally if I think writers need agents. My answer to this is YES, YES, YES! I still have no idea how to submit to a publisher, and if I’d gone alone and been given an offer, I probably would have jumped on it regardless of the terms. Julia has my back and provides invaluable advice and support. I rate people who publish without an agent, but I couldn’t do it.
It took me almost ten years to pluck up the courage to look for representation, but by then I felt pretty sure I was ready to share my work with the world. And I’m glad I waited because if I hadn’t, I probably would have had to deal with ten years of polite rejections. So should you look for an agent now? This is only something you can answer. It takes time to polish any skill, and when you’re done with your apprenticeship, you’ll probably know.
Oh, and so will your agent.
(The lovely Julia Churchill. Busy? Yes! Aloof? What do you think?)
February Blues, Anyone?18 February 2012
How’s it going out there? February seems to me to be one of those months we could all do without. I know it’s short – but it feels so long. Everyone I know has been sick this month, and those people I don’t know seem to be the ones making them sick. What’s there to look forward to except Cadbury Creme Eggs? In and around NYC there has been little snow, so no snowmen are being built, yet it’s still too cold for the naked cowboy to take his place in Times Square. Dark days indeed.
My suggestion, for what it’s worth, is that we should simply hibernate with a book and imagine ourselves somewhere and sometime else. Tonight you could pick up a copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and be in Athens (sans the tear gas, of course) or pull out that tattered copy of The Hobbit and find yourself in The Shire. And while you’re reading, why not listen to music? Make your neighbours crazy blasting out DJ funky-chicken tunes. Between chapters find a space to dance. I know it always makes me feel a lot better. Read a bit of Shakespeare or Tolkien and then put on Coldplay’s “Hurts Like Heaven” and just try not to dance. I challenge you.
At the moment I’m working on the sequel to Breathe, which, in case you don’t know, is set in a world without air. It’s bleak. A book best read (and written) on the beach, I’d say. And I’m opting for Radiohead to inspire many of the scenes. Cheery, I know. Don’t worry, occasionally Phil Coulter does get a stint on my iPod, but only when a character misses home, or his dad, or Athenry. Joke… but not really.
So this month, when you look outside and think, “It’s so cold out there,” don’t be tempted to fight the elements - just stay at home and use a book and your favourite albums to help you escape to a place you love. A warm place. An old place. A place of hobbits. Dance a bit too. With the curtains open.
But whatever you do, do not despair: Cadbury Creme Eggs will be available very soon.
My Reading Recommendations
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen – picture book
Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne – 8+
Slam by Nick Hornby – teen
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons– adult
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers – picture book
Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – 11+
Fracture by Megan Miranda – teen
Out Stealing Horses by Per Patterson – adult
p.s. Yep, my bookshelves are colour-coded.
Quick Update09 January 2012
2012 has been pretty good to me so far. 'The Weight of Water' finally published in the UK and Ireland and people are being very nice about it. Thank you to everyone who has managed to get a copy already and to the booksellers who are stocking it - I'm so grateful for your support. The cherry on the cupcake this week was finding out that 'The Weight of Water' was chosen as Children's Book of the Week in The Sunday Times.
Now that 'The Weight of Water' is safely in the world, I'm hard at work putting the finishing touches to my next, very different novel, 'Breathe'. And after that I'm working on its sequel which is still in its early stages. I'm really excited about what the rest of 2012 will bring - to me and to my friends and family. Here's to your 2012 goals and dreams - work hard and believe in yourself and know that anything is possible!
Kick-Off21 October 2011
Welcome to my blog! Thanks for joining me. I really hope you like the site as much as I do – I think it looks incredible, which is all down to the brilliant Lynam brothers and their colleagues at Combined Media in Dublin who’ve worked very hard to make sure everything looks super cool and runs smoothly. The artwork for the site has been taken from my book jacket, designed by the clever team at Bloomsbury and illustrated by the awe-inspiring Oliver Jeffers.
I’m into the visual these days, so here’s a picture of what I’m reading/re-reading this month. By the way, on my Kindle I’m reading Tinkers by Paul Harding, but it’s hard to make it out from the picture. Julian Barnes was certainly on to something last week when he said, “if the physical book, as we've come to call it, is to resist the challenge of the ebook, it has to look like something worth buying, worth keeping.”
If you’ve time to surf, have a look at Kevin Waldron’s website. Waldron is an extraordinary illustrator. You’ll love his children’s books, no matter your age, and his blog is cool-as.