Event announcement – Panel with Philip Reeve at Edinburgh International Festival

I’m very excited that this year I’m going to be appearing at Edinburgh International Book Festival this August, on a Schools Programme panel with Philip Reeve.

Lauren James and Philip Reeve take you on an incredible journey of imagination involving extraordinary beings, complex characters, thrills and thoughtful moments. Both authors have created stunning sci-fi novels that explore time, space, love, loneliness and the end of the universe. Join them on an intergalactic adventure exploring everyday human emotions.

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You can view the programme here. Tickets are only available to Scottish students right now – but I think the spares are sold to the general public, so keep an eye out!

My other upcoming events are all listed here.

In other news: Look what’s landed…. 🚀 

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I am so proud of this little book! 👽
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I’m pretty proud of the fact that by the time I turn 25 I’ll have 13 books published. I would never have thought that was possible when I was a kid. I thought writers were supposed to be in their forties!

Here’s a post I wrote the last time I got a proof, back in 2015, which was a very emotional experience. There’s nothing quite like it!
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If you can’t wait for Loneliest, you can follow Romy’s blog and read her fanfiction on tumblr here.

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I’m also making good progress on the first draft of my next book.

 

24 things I’ve learnt in 24 years – Adulthood advice for British 16-25 year olds

I made a series of tweets late last night which got a good reaction, so I thought I’d share it here too. This advice pertains to FINANCE, SECURITY and other adulthood things. Basically, here’s 24 things I’ve learnt in 24 years of life.

(1) If you are planning to buy a house at any point in your life, you’re gonna want to open a Lifetime ISA asap. If you’re planning to buy within the next year, make sure you open that thing as soon as they start running on April 6th. You’ll get 25% of your deposit extra from the government. Forget your Help to Buy ISAs. Do this, even if you just put in a quid. Deets.

(2) You should increase your online security. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been using the same password since you were 12. Download an app like KEEPER and each time you log into your sites, add the passwords into the app.

THE IMPORTANT PART: use the app features to change each as you go to a randomised 16 digit password with numbers, letters and symbols. It doesn’t matter if you can’t remember it, it’s all in the app. If you’re worried about forgetting them, write them all in a notebook too and keep it somewhere safe.

You can take your time changing over passwords for social media etc, but do it ASAP for your email & bank accounts. Trust me, you want to do this. It is worryingly easy to crack a password.

(3) If you’re someone who feels constantly stressed by everything you have to do, I cannot emphasise enough the freedom of good organisation. Get some kind of list-keeping software like Workflowy (my bae), Evernote, or even just a good old planner, and make lists of everything.

The key to good To Do lists:

a) Split them into categories. I go for Work/Personal and split them down further into Admin/Health/Creative &c.

b) Don’t list big things like WRITE DISSERTATION. That will freak you out more. Make a DISSERTATION sub-list and write small actionable things like LOOK UP RESEARCH. Focus only on the tasks you can get done immediately. The rest will flow.

I use the same software to keep extensive notes as reminders. If you can collapse your bullet points, this is a good way to aid your memory without stressing you out even more. Trust me, knowing something is written down will instantly help with your worrying.

(4) Never buy a new car!! Don’t do it, even if you have the cash! After a year it’ll have depreciated by a few grand even in perfect nick!

Do some market research and then get on the Manheim website. Look up local used car auctions and go bid on one. You can get a car that’s literally a year old and looks new, for half the price.

Car auctions can be kinda scary though so take a dad/brother/confident person with you if you’re nervous about bidding. They’ll love dropping your cash.

(5) Credit ratings are EVERYTHING. You will struggle to buy a phone, car, house etc without one. Even if you have a couple of grand in the bank, get a credit card as soon as you turn 18. Set it up with a direct debit to be paid off in full each month. Use it for all your purchases.

Credit cards are better protected against fraud than debit, but also – having years of reliable payments on your credit rating will do wonders. It’s no good having money if when you’re 25 and looking to take out a mortgage, creditors look up your name and there’s no payments there. There’s no evidence that they can trust you with a loan.

(6) RELATED: shop around for a credit card! Lenders want your business, they will offer some really great deals. Look up how many points they offer to the pound you spend. I’m with John Lewis, who give me ~£15 every quarter. MAKE YOUR MONEY WORK FOR YOU.

(7) If you travel by train a lot, check  before you purchase. Play the system! If you’re spending >£50 it is worth 5 minutes to see if you can knock a tenner off that. If doesn’t always work but it’s worth the hassle.

(8) Also, if you travel by train more than once or twice a year you really need to get a 16-25 railcard. Duh. If you order your last one just before you turn 26, you can make that stretch to 27 too.

(9) If you’re booking any kind of travel tickets – flight or train – remove your cookies for that website each time you visit. They put the prices up if you’ve looked up a journey before.

10) Ask questions in job interviews. Most interviewers will never be asked a question by applicants. It will show you aren’t intimidated, are serious about the position and it will make you stand out. You want them to come away thinking they’d be lucky to hire you, not the other way around.

Some ideas:

  • What do you like most about working for this company?
  • What have past employees done to excel in this role?
  • Can you give me some examples of opportunities for collaboration with my manager?
  • What are the first priorities for this position?
  • What is the most challenging aspect of this role?
  • Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?

Memorise these. Role play an interview at least three times with a friend to practise.

(11) Over-hype yourself on your CV. This is not the place to be modest. Be as cocky and overconfident as you can possibly be.

Baby boomers can barely use Excel. As a millennial, you have so many skills that don’t seem like skills to you but are VERY VALUABLE IN THE WORKPLACE. If you use social media, you have experience in marketing and publicity. If you’ve ever changed a Tumblr theme, you have experience in HTML coding.

Even just being able to google how to teach yourself new software is a skill that older generations find baffling. BIG YOURSELF UP. YOU’RE WORTH IT.

(12) You don’t have to wear heels!! Ever!! Even if you work in an office, BUSINESSES CANNOT IMPOSE SEXIST CLOTHING GUIDELINES. It is unethical to force women to wear heels. Do not feel like you need to. Don’t give yourself a workplace disadvantage just to appease social customs, you’ve got enough disadvantages already. Your feet will thank you in ten years.

(13) Install flux on your laptop and keep your phone on minimum brightness. You won’t notice the difference after a day and you’ve gotta protect those eyes. If you read a lot of documents for work, consider investing in a kindle with an eInk display background, so you aren’t staring into a white light all day. You email any PDF to a Kindle in seconds, so you can read it at your desk without any hassle. Just – maybe tell your boss that’s what you’re doing (!).

(14) You could be saving a lot of money by being savvy. Use comparison websites before you make big purchases.(Compare the Market gives you the best deal AND two for one cinema tickets all year! For a purchase you are making anyway!)

If you’re thinking of buying something online but aren’t sure, log in and leave it in your basket for a few days. A lot of sites will email you voucher codes or reduce the price. If you’re getting business cards, Vistaprint are so thirsty for sales that they’ll email you a code for 40% off the next day.

Save up big purchases until Black Friday. If you really want an iPad or fancy brand but know you can’t afford it, you might be able to if there’s 25% off. Plus, I kinda like having something to look forward to like that?

(15) Always check eBay at the last minute before you make any purchase. Order by Ending Soonest & Auction and see what you can buy within the next 30 seconds for CHEAPS.

You can set up your Nectar card on eBay too, so you can get points on anything you buy there. I get ~£20 a quarter in Nectar vouchers (but I’m obsessed with doing all my purchases for as cheap as possible on eBay even if I have to wait months for the right deal).

My fave eBay trick: spell things wrong in your search – e.g. molskine, burbery, La cruset. You’ll have less competing bids as no one finds it. If you’re into bargain hunting, you can set up a million alerts for these misspelt listings for things you want. It will change the game.

Make sure with eBay you always check the seller has a feedback rating above 100 though, otherwise it may be dodgy. eBay are good at returning money in these cases, but just be wary if the deal seems too good to be true. More often I’ve been conned as a seller by dodgy buyers, than as a buyer myself.

Also, be careful of buying things internationally for unexpected custom charges. China to the UK is usually fine, but be wary of US purchases. Always assume you’ll have to pay £16 customs charge on anything you buy from the USA. It’ll always get you, and if it doesn’t it’s a nice bonus. If postage is ridiculous for a brand site, consider getting a Borderlinx account so you only pay domestic shipping.

(16) If you are a book lover, eBay is your BEST FRIEND. Get on there on holidays and search up National Book Tokens. People who don’t read will sell gift cards for a fraction of the price for quick cash after christmas.

You can apply these to purchases online at Foyles. In the past I’ve bought a £100 gift card for £60, which is £40 free books AND I feel good buying from not-amazon.

(17) Another for readers: Black Friday is a great time to do all your book preorders for the next year using your xmas/holiday money with a discount code.

When I was a bit more penniless and a bit more obsessed with ~~keeping up with the publishing industry~~ I used to do this and read books as soon as they were published, then list them on eBay at retail price the same week. Because I bought them at a discount I got my money back and usually made a bit of profit too.

This is a lot of work, and nowadays I don’t bother as I have more money and less time (plus I’m auto-approved for lots of publishers on Netgalley because I spent a year reviewing everything immediately, so I get most releases as ebooks anyway.) But for a student this is an A+++ plan and I would be proud to be told you were taking over my eBaying legacy.

(18) KEEP A BOTTLE OF WATER (and maybe a cereal bar/sandwich) IN YOUR BAG AT ALL DANG TIMES. If you buy food/drink on the go every other day at £1 water+£3 sandwich that’s £730 in a year! For something worse than you can make at home!

If you did this in your twenties, by the time you turned 30 you would have £7000 extra. THAT’S YOUR HOUSE DEPOSIT RIGHT THERE. Plus, until you buy a house you could invest that in an ISA or premium bonds & be getting £££.

(19) I’m not much of a drinker, especially not now I drive, but if you are then get yourself a hidden flask. It’all save you a fortune at gigs or concerts or theatre where drinks are £7 a pop.

(20) If you know what time you have to get up, use an app to calculate when you should go to sleep so you don’t wake up in the middle of a REM Cycle. Even if you get a full 8 hours, you’ll feel groggy if you don’t sleep in integer 90 min cycles.

(21) I cannot over-emphasise the joy in having good sheets/towels. If you’re getting by on old family cast-offs, you might think it’s a waste of money to buy new ones until you’re in your forties. TRUST ME. GUYS. Get yourself the thickest ply Egyptian cotton bath sheet you can find. It’ll change your life.

(22) Use a separate device for social media/entertainment than for work. The best thing I’ve done for my productivity in a while is get an iPad. HEAR ME OUT.

Before, I used to go on my laptop and mess around instead of working. But now, I do all my social media stuff on the iPad. So when I sit at my desk with my laptop it’s like YOU GOTTA WORK NOW. My brain immediately goes into ‘work mode’ when I turn it on. I hadn’t realised how much I had to force myself to focus until suddenly it got really easy.

(23) Family accounts are a gift to the world! Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime – enlist your friends to join together to reduce your monthly charges a LOT.

(24)  Finally, GO TO THE DENTIST EVERY YEAR. Use mouthwash and floss as often as you can bare it. Look after your teeth!!!

If this list is overwhelming I recommend you do (2) and (5) at the very least. Build up from there. GOOD LUCK.

Valentine’s Day extract + Clove and Ella get engaged!

Last year on Valentine’s day I posted a romantic extract from The Next Together. Let’s do the same thing this year, from The Last Beginning! Here are Clove and Ella being flirty cuties in love.

(You can also read it on Wattpad)


C a r l i s l e , E n g l a n d , 1 7 4 5

When Clove finally went back downstairs, Mrs Samson scolded her for disappearing halfway through making breakfast and put Clove to work in the wash-house doing laundry.

“Did you find the ingredients which you need for your spell?” Ella asked, as she arrived an hour later with another load of dirty clothes for Clove. She dipped a hand into Clove’s bucket of fresh water and flicked her with it. Clove leapt back, but the freezing cold water still splashed her arm.

Hey!” she said, trying to be serious, but she couldn’t help the way her mouth just wanted to smile. She ducked her head, giving in to the urge to grin.

When she looked back up, Ella’s expression took her by surprise. She looked … awestruck. Like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing, when what she was seeing was Clove. Just Clove. No one had ever looked at her like that before.

“What?” Clove asked, a little defensively.

“Nothing,” Ella said. “It’s just… I’ve never seen you smile before.” She sounded winded.
Clove swallowed hard, her laughter dying in her throat.

It was true that she had been very stressed recently. But surely she had smiled before? She couldn’t remember, right now, when Ella was looking at her like that.

Flustered, Clove flicked her hand into the water. Ella skittered away and let out a giggle.

Clove chased her out of the wash-house and across the lawn. But by the time she had cornered the girl by the kitchen door, all that was left of her attack was two damp palms. She pressed them to either side of Ella’s neck as she tried to squirm away.

Ella winced at the coldness of the water on her skin. The two girls were standing so close that Clove could see droplets of water clinging to Ella’s collarbone and the goosebumps standing up on her neck. Ella’s cap had come off and her hair was falling out of its bun again, messy spirals curling off in all directions.

There was a moment when they just stared at each other, breathing in unison. Clove felt like every molecule of her skin was alert and attuned to Ella’s movements.

Something had snapped their bickering into a meaningful tension. She parted her lips. If she just leant a little closer, if Ella just tilted her head a little to the right, then—

Ella stepped back. Then she lifted her arm, holding up Clove’s bucket of water – which she must have grabbed before running out of the wash-house. Clove didn’t have time to react before the water fell through the air in an iridescent arc, splashing Clove right in the chest. It was so cold that Clove couldn’t catch her breath to speak, and when she did all that escaped was helpless laughter.

“Ella!” she gasped.

Ella was laughing so hard she nearly fell over. “Yes!” she screeched. “Got you!”

“I’m soaking wet!” Clove’s bodice was drenched, and her skirts were rapidly darkening as the water spread.

“I’m going to throw you in the pond,” Clove threatened, tugging the damp fabric away from her skin.

Ella only laughed harder. “You look like a drowned cat! All bedraggled and furious.”

Clove hissed at her, baring her teeth like an angry feline. “If I get a chill and die, it’ll be all your fault.” Clove held a hand to her forehead, letting out an overly long groan of pain, which turned into laughter when Ella jabbed her in the ribs.

“I think you will recover, Miss Tabbycat,” Ella said.

“Especially as the last time you were dying you managed to wander off and escape me.”

“The salad days,” Clove muttered, sighing to herself and leaning into Ella’s side.

Ella tightened her arm around Clove’s shoulder.

FIN.


If you liked this extract, The Last Beginning is published by Walker Books in the UK and Australia. It will be released in the US in Fall 2017 by Sky Pony Press.

Amazon UK| Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles  | Hive | iTunes | Kobo | Wordery | WHSmith

You can add the book on Goodreads or subscribe to my mailing list for updates, or read the prologue on Wattpad.


P.s. I also recently wrote a thing on tumblr about how Clove and Ella got engaged. You’re welcome.

After school, Clove does a degree at St Andrews while Ella finishes her degree at her home uni. Then Clove moves to Ella’s uni for a masters in theoretical morality, while Ella starts a PhD in classical history control potentiality. They live together in a tiny terraced house with a back garden, which Ella turns into a vegetable patch. It produces approximately 3 Brussel sprouts and a cucumber every summer. That’s all.

When they both finally graduate with a million degrees between them, Clove goes back to St Andrews to start running tests on the time machine with Jen, who now runs the St Andrews Physics department. Ella moves back with her. She commutes using her skin to a theatre company, where she works to gather accurate details about ancient greece for their productions, using her Skim.

They adopt a rescue dog, who Matt babysits during the day, because he works from home with Tom (they started a business together. they argue constantly.) Alfie, kate and matt’s three year old son, cries every day when Clove picks up the dog after work. Alfie hates goodbyes.

When Ella turns 25 she gets really nostalgic for how she and clove met (she reads a lot of fic written about then. Clove kinkshames her. It’s a Thing.). They drop the dog off with kate and matt and alfie and go on holiday to 1745. They hang out with 1745 Katherine and Matthew, and then Ella takes Clove on a picnic by the river, at the exact place where they met. The picnic is the same as the one Ella brought then, except there’s smoky bacon crisps too, this time.

After they eat, Clove naps with her head on Ella’s stomach. When she wakes up, there’s a bouquet of violets resting next to her. She laughs when she sees it, hysterically, and Ella gets offended that she finds her romantic gesture funny. Then Clove reaches into her bag and pulls out a box. She hands it to Ella.

Inside, there’s this:ring-in-silver-colour-flower-made-of-zircon-hearts-in-dark-violet

“I guess we both had the same idea,” Clove says, blushing bright red. “You gave me a violet once, a long time ago. I thought it was about time I repaid the favour.“

Ella’s eyes flick down between the ring and Clove. “Are you…?” she says.

Clove nods. “Elenore Walker. Will you marry me?”

Ella bursts into tears. “You weren’t supposed to propose for another two years!” she yells. “It’s in your autobiography!!”

Clove grins. She’s been planning for a while that when she gets around to writing her ‘autobiography’, she’ll include some lies. Gotta keep Ella on her toes somehow. “Surprise?”

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Source

Ella says yes, they get married the next summer, it’s very stressful for everyone involved. The wedding photos go viral on Ella’s social media. Obviously this is their wedding song.

#obviously as soon as they get home ella pulls out a ring she bought before she even officially met clove #she saved up her pocket money for it

What would Kate and Matt’s wedding be like?

Someone sent me this ask on tumblr:

If you were to write Katherine and Matt’s wedding scene, what would it be like and why? (ps. love your books ❤ <3)

I loved it so much I answered in detail. I thought some of you might also appreciate it, so I’m reposting it here. It’s kind of an unofficial epilogue to The Last Beginning. Spoilers within!

omg. WELL first off in 2056 kate proposes to matt. i know this is obvious, i barely need to say it. she does the whole monica thing and fills a room with candles, courts him until he’s blushing etc.

on the day, Matt wears a tuxedo and is so nervous that he’ll get the words wrong that he gets drunk before he even puts the suit on

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Kate dips Matt when the vicar says they can kiss.

she doesn’t wear white (”i did that last time”), she wears something shiny like this:

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her ‘something old’ is a tortoiseshell hair clasp from carlisle in 1745, her ‘something borrowed’ is clove’s watch with the rainbow strap (so spart can be part of the ceremony – matt insisted, “since you brought us together after all”).

her something blue is a tattoo of matt’s name written in blue fountain pen ink which she gets done drunk on her hen night. jen got a tattoo too: hers says ‘st andrews university <3′.

tom has this whole melodramatic joke about it. at the rehearsal dinner he tells every. single. person. that he’s not jen’s first love and he might never recover from the heart break. clove has to move to a different table because he’s so embarrassing.

oh, clove! Clove is the maid of honour and wears this:

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ella is technically her date but officially the ring bearer (”why do you want to be the RING BEARER?” – clove “we don’t have them anymore! i want to hold the cushion!” – ella. “if you lose the ring you are time travelling right out of that church to buy another.” – clove)

on the day, ella arrives in some futuristic dress that clove absolutely refuses to let her wear (”is that – is your dress made of clouds? are you FLOATING? No. no way. how did you think you would get away with this without anyone noticing?!”) so meg lends her a dress that looks like this:

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the wedding is the first time meg and ella meet and that goes as awkwardly as you would expect.

kate and matt’s wedding song is come on eileen.

ella lends them her Skim for their honeymoon. they go on a tour of all of their lives. they’re gone two years but they time it so they come back after 2 weeks. no one notices how long they were really gone. even though matt has started going grey.

they have a baby boy six months later, and clove is the best big sister in the entire world. tom and jen enjoy being aunt and uncle and taking a less active role in the parenting (”you’ve got enough grey hair for both of us, i don’t need more stress in my life” – tom to matt. “if that were true you wouldn’t demand to babysit once a week” – matt to tom “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, DON’T STOP HIM!!” – kate to matt)

FIN.

(If you enjoy tumblr rants I recently made one about the excellence of Pacific Rim)


In other news: The Russian cover of TNT was revealed today! Title translation: “Love and other catastrophes”. Out in March!

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Taking Stock of 2016

Happy 2017, everyone!

Sometimes as a writer, it can feel like you haven’t achieved much, because you can spend so long editing and reediting the same projects. I think a lot about how I only wrote one book all year, and worry whether that makes me lazy.

However, last year I wrote a summary of my achievements in 2015, and looking back at it helps me see that I actually did quite a lot that year. So I’m doing the same again this year: good and bad. 

The good

Writing

In 2016 I wrote the first draft of a new novel in a new genre. I also fulfilled my 2016 New Years Resolution and wrote a screenplay. It actually got through to the final stages of the BBC Writer’s Room (but no further! Next time…). 

I also started a  quarterly newsletter (subscribe!) and wrote some blog posts, including:

I blurbed some amazing books, including Mafiosa by Catherine Doyle, A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard, The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson and Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt.

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I spoke on over 10 panels with some amazing authors – Jennifer Niven being a particular highlight! I also finally appeared on a panel with Alice Oseman. 

I chaired a panel at YA Shot and co-ran a workshop at YALC (again, with Alice! The dream team).

Publication

I published a novel, a novella and a short story!

TNT was also published in translation in Czech Republic, Brazil and Turkey.

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My books so far!

We sold 16,000 copies of TNT- and it’s on its fifth or sixth print run, so there are now 23,000 copies in print. This number is so big I can’t understand it.

It was also longlisted for Branford Boase Award and chosen as iTunes book of the week in October!the_loneliest_girl

The Last Beginning was chosen by Scholastic Book Clubs to become a special edition including the novella Another Together. It
was reviewed in The Independent as one of the best LGBT inclusive children’s books of the year – my first press review! It was also reviewed in Diva Magazine.

I got a new 2 book deal with Walker, and the cover for my next book was revealed.

Personal

I went on holiday to Cambodia, Thailand, Edinburgh and Wales.

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I lived in London for a month (and decided I never want to do that again!). I saw my brother sworn in as a Special Constable, which made me very proud.

I adopted 3 adorable guinea pigs from Lucy Powrie.

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I went to the theatre a LOT. I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (twice!), Les Liaisons Dangereuses, As you like it, In the Heights, The Maids, Groundhog Day, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Cymbeline, Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Aladdin, Guys and Dolls, The Phantom of the Opera, The Woman in Black and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. I also saw in concert Hozier, The Lumineers, Monsters & Men and Jurassic Park at the Royal Albert Hall.

I read nearly 200 books. Last year I was in a reading slump because I kept reading contemporary YA in an attempt to be part of the cultural conversation. I DNFed lots of books because they weren’t interesting me. This year, I took a step back and started really thinking about what I enjoy to read about. I’ve started to love reading again, and I happily ignore the conversations about books I’m not interested in without panicking. I don’t write contemporary YA, so there’s no reason for me to treat those books as competition just because they fall under the umbrella of Young Adult.

I started doing yoga and donating blood.

I was very, very happy.

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The Bad

carI passed my driving test and bought my first car! …..but it took me three attempts to pass my driving test – and I still struggle a lot still with my confidence about driving. It’s my biggest weakness. My New years resolution is to try and drive somewhere every day. I haven’t done well on this so far..

I missed a few events I was really looking forward to due to illness, particularly a panel at Waterstones Piccadilly which I was so excited and honoured to be asked to participate in.

I intended to write some more non-fiction articles, like my ones for The Toast and The Guardian Children Books in 2015, but didn’t find the time. Also, sadly, both of the publications I wrote for have since closed down (not my fault, I promise!).

I spoke about this last year, but I still struggle a lot with jealousy/envy/comparing myself to other authors. The solution, as far I’ve been able to determine, is to avoid going on Twitter as much as possible. But I feel like I’m drifting away from a brilliant community at the same time as improving my mental health. It’s a dilemma.

As I found last year, I did a lot of work for free this year – both my novella and short story were unpaid works. I think it’s all good practice and publicity, but it can be difficult at times to know that I’ve spent whole months doing full time work for free. I have started blogging a little less – I decided against doing a blog tour for TLB because I wasn’t sure of the payoff compared to the amount of work it takes.

In more positive news, last year I was very worried about my long term career plan. I had absolutely no idea whether being an author was possible permanently. This year I’m feeling a lot more settled and confident about my career and chances. Money is still tight, and the payments are very irregular, but I’m hoping to move into my own home in 2017. So I’m getting there! Slowly…

My 2017 resolutions:

  1. Drive every day
  2. Write a new novel
  3. Write a second screenplay

In other news: I’m doing an event at Waterstones Birmingham:

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The Loneliest girl on the universe was featured on Book Riot.

Simonlevvis on tumblr posted these amazing photo sets about TNT and TLB!

 

17 books I want to read in ’17

Previously: 15 books I want to read in ’15 | 16 books I want to read in ’16

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2) by Alison Goodman

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Now I Rise (The Conquerer’s Saga #2) by Kiersten White

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

No covers yet:

Girlhood by Cat Clarke

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston

Warcross by Marie Lu

The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics

In Your Light by A.J. Grainger

 

 

 

Easter eggs you might have missed in The Last Beginning

There are lots of references in my books – adding them in is one of my favourite parts of writing! Some of which are obvious, like Kate and Matt’s flashbacks to past lives. Others, you might have missed, especially if you were reading fast! So here are five tiny references in The Last Beginning.

1) The Loneliest Girl in the Universe 

In the epilogue, there are not one but three references. The first is to my next book, featuring Romy Silvers, my new character!

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2) Celebrities

You might have spotted the second reference in the extract above! Vlogger Casey Neistat and his famous skateboards gets a mention, as does Beyonce & Kim Kardashian’s famous offspring.

3) One Direction Fangirlsbeings-2

On the side of a webpage, there’s a little clickbait advert which is a (loving!) jab at Larry fans.

 

beings-34) Death and Dream from The Sandman

On the same page, I reference one of my favourite books – The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman

5) Ella’s sneaky cameo in the prologueThis one is a favourite of mine. It’s one of the very last things I added to the book, and I’m so glad i thought of it in time! If you’re writing about time travel, you just have to embrace the tropes.

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Ella also appears in The Next Together, by the way – let me know if you spot her!

Favourite books of 2016

As we’re approaching the end of 2016, I thought I’d share some of the best books I’ve read this year. I’ve read over 175 books, and these are the cream of the crop!

Tale-within-a-tale graphic novel set in pre-history Arctic
Social and gender politics thousands of years in the future

Cover reveal for The Loneliest Girl in the Universe

I am very, very (very) excited to be sharing the cover for my third novel today! It has been revealed over at Maximum Pop Books too (thanks guys!), but for anyone who missed their post, here it is!

Here’s a little video of my talking about it, or if you’re impatient – keep scrolling for the cover!

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DON’T YOU LOVE IT? I LOVE IT SO MUCH. It really captures the feeling and tone of the book – the light beams represent Romy’s only form of communication with Earth, laser beams sending messages back and forth in binary code.

The central radiation from her body is going to be silver foil, and I’ve got a printed version and the effect is absolutely STUNNING:

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I can’t wait for you all to see it in real life!

I hope you love the cover, and I absolutely cannot wait for you all to read Romy’s story. Nine months to go!!

It’s up for preorder already: Amazon UK | Waterstones | Wordery | Book Depository

And here’s the blurb:

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication is via email and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone…

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe is a romantic psychological thriller set in space and will be published by Walker Books in the UK and Australia on 7th September 2017. You can add it on Goodreads or subscribe to my mailing list for updates.

My tumblr posts about The Loneliest Girl In The Universe are all collected here. Here are some links to get you started:

A writing progress update

I’ve been tracking my writing progress on the fantasy novel I’ve been writing in 2016, and as I’m working on it again now, I think it’s time for an update. Last time I blogged about it was in July, when I had 30,000 words written. I had to put it on the backburner then for a few months while I worked on LONELIEST.

October

I had some time to work on the draft again. At first I found it really hard to get back into, because I hadn’t really written any of it since May, and it felt very different. I think a lot of this was because I’d had feedback on the partial manuscript from both my agent and editor, and not all of it was positive. I was feeling very unenthusiastic about the whole thing. But I remembered how much I had originally loved the idea, so I fought through the DO NOT WANT feeling. I was really into it again by the end of the month. I wrote 20,000 words – and got to the end of the second arc.

I then had to stop to work on the LONELIEST edits again, and ended up by the start of November with 60,000 words.

December

As of this week, I’ve finished my edits and I’m back working on the first draft – and I’m so excited to finish it! In my head it was truly awful, but I read through it and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality. I even got really mad at myself for leaving the draft at such a cliff-hanger, because I wanted to finish reading it. Damn it, past!Lauren!

I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the year. I’ve done all the hard work laying down the plot arcs, and now I just have the fun stuff to finish it off – battles and kissing. 😉

This is the first time I’ve used myWriteClub to track the writing process for a whole first draft, and it’s really interesting to look back on. Over the course of a year, I’ve written it in 5 pushes, averaging out at 10,000 words a pop.

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I have no idea if this is typical for me. It has felt a particularly difficult novel to write – especially the October session – but I have a feeling it’s always hard to write, and I usually just forget how painful it is.

So….I will let you know whether I actually manage to finish this book by 2017. Wish me luck.

For now, here’s my aesthetics for the novel:

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