2014: The Greatest Hits

Hello my lovelies!

Christmas is almost here and I’m winding down for the holiday (yay!). Before I head off* I thought it would be nice to look back on 2014. This is a completely selfish exercise as, while I’m pretty great at setting goals, I’m AWFUL at recognising or remembering my own achievements and I’m hoping writing them down will help…

So, 2014 has been a good year writing-wise. Most importantly, I managed to finish the Book of My Heart. The latest version is with my agent and, hopefully, she’ll think it’s ready to send out to publishers in the new year.

Whatever happens next, right now I’m so pleased to have completed it. I was scared to attempt the story (frightened it was too ambitious, too emotional) and I’m excited about (hopefully) getting to share it with you guys in 2015.

wintertales

I also had a few lovely ‘real writer’ moments, such as being asked to contribute to the Winter Tales short story anthology (sold in aid of The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and The Teenage Cancer Trust) and meeting Agent Fabulous and my lovely Carina editor for lunch in London.

Also, and I know more experienced authors will be rolling their eyes at my excitement over this, but I was asked to provide a blurb for a debut novel (Arcana by Jessica Leake – go check it out!).

I wanted to help a fellow writer (and was thrilled to be asked), but I began reading the ARC with trepidation: What if I didn’t like it and I had to say ‘no, sorry? Thankfully, I loved it and merrily sent off my mini-review.

Not only was Jessica classy enough to thank me personally, but I got a lovely hardback copy of the book in the post and – look – my blurb!

backcoverblurb

I’ve spent my life scanning the back-covers of books, reading blurbs and recommendations, and seeing  ‘Sarah Painter, author of The Language of Spells’ printed on the dust jacket was truly breathtaking. I can only imagine how I’ll react when (if!) I ever get to hold my own hardback book.

The Secrets of Ghosts coverSpeaking of my own books, my second novel, The Secrets of Ghosts, came out in February, and gathered some lovely reviews like this one from Amazon.com. Meep!

‘I’d been really looking forward to reading this after Sarah Painter’s debut, ‘The Language of Spells’ was released last year. And I wasn’t disappointed. There was the same building of an eery and mystical world around a family blessed (or sometimes cursed) with magical gifts; the same clever building of suspense; and the same deft character building that makes Painter’s protagonists likeable and intriguing. What differed is that our focus is now on the next generation gifted with a much darker magic, and the ghostly rite of passage that the discovery of the power leads to. Painter has plainly done her research well, and I felt I learnt things about the world of magic and witchcraft, as well as just having an enjoyable read. The book reminded me of works such as ‘Her fearful Symmetry’ by Audrey Niffenegger. A great follow-up to a great debut.’ Amy, Amazon.com

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the best things about this writing life is the amazing support from readers, bloggers, reviewers and fellow authors, and the new relationships I’ve forged. Book people truly are the best people. Getting comments like the one above is beyond my wildest imaginings and I’m so incredibly grateful.

Thank you readers!

Right, that’s enough of my waffle. Thank you for indulging me and, as ever, for visiting my corner of the internet.

I wish you a happy winter holiday/merry Christmas, and will be back in the new year with my ‘goals for 2015’ post.

 

*To my sofa. With a glass of wine and a bumper-size tin of chocolate.

Toot! Toot!

A spring afternoon spent skimming stones on Elie beach.
A spring afternoon spent skimming stones on Elie beach, followed by fish and chips. Every conversation prefixed by the words ‘this time last year…’

Toot! Toot! Yes, I’m afraid that’s the unseemly sound of me blowing my own trumpet…

I’ve been feeling very nostalgic this month. The warm sunshine and the hedgerows bursting forth with cow parsley reminds me of writing The Secrets of Ghosts. Plus, we’re fast approaching the one year anniversary of my debut, The Language of Spells, being published.

This time last year I was unpublished. Now, I’ve got two books out and am well on the way to finishing another one.

I worked towards this point for so long (and spent so much time wondering if I would ever get there), that it still feels like a dream.

This time last year I was terrified. I felt exposed. I kept waking up in the middle of the night, fearful of my writing being ‘out there’. What if everybody hated it? What had I been thinking? I couldn’t do this… People were going to look at this thing that I’d made up and they were going to know how stupid/vapid/talentless I really was.

Instead, I had the most fabulous year. Friends and family were lovely and supportive and said so many nice things about the book that I just about swooned from happiness.

Book reviewers and readers were just as nice and I couldn’t have wished for a better reception.

Which brings me to my trumpet-blowing… Almost a year on and The Language of Spells is number six in the magical realism chart on Amazon (US), and people are still discovering it, tweeting about it, emailing me, and leaving lovely reviews.

I just read this one on Amazon:

I genuinely enjoyed reading this book and have purposely held off on buying the sequel so I will have something wonderful to read when I’m down. The whole story is well-written and engaging. I love the family dynamic. 

I feel so lucky and so grateful. My readers are the best! Thank you!

 

Friday Five: The self-involved edition

The Secrets of Ghosts coverHello, hello! How are you all?

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks with The Secrets of Ghosts going out into the world (eek!) and getting some lovely reviews (phew!).

Plus, I’ve been knuckling down on my WIP. It’s so satisfying to see the word count go up and I’m almost through the ‘dreaded middle’. Hurrah!

I’m sorry I haven’t been here very much, but I have been popping up around the internet, promoting The Secrets of Ghosts. I wasn’t organised enough to do a formal blog tour this time around but, in case you’re interested, here are some links:

1. As you might suspect from the title, my latest book contains a measure of spookiness. I talked to OneMorePage about my favourite ghost stories.

2. Fellow Carina author, Samantha Tonge, interviewed me about cake, writing, and cats on her blog.

3. Are you a writer? If you’re interested in finding a literary agent, I wrote about that very subject for Novelicious this week.

4.  ‘The Book That Changed My Life’ at Novelicious featuring – you guessed it – me!

5. The most excellent Sunday Opening Hours has invited me this week (thank you!). Do drop by on Sunday to learn all about my fascinating (ah-hem) Sunday routine.

The Secrets of Ghosts Publication Day!

The Secrets of Ghosts coverThe Secrets of Ghosts is released into the wild today!

[Shameless Amazon link]

It’s the follow-up to The Language of Spells and, as some of you may know, it put up a bit of a fight. I can’t quite believe it’s finished. And I really can’t believe it’s now Out There.

I’m delighted, though. In a year I’ve gone from being unpublished to having two books out, which feels pretty amazing.

Plus, although the book was hard to write, it’s stuffed with things I think are fun:  A 1930s mystery, a reformed con man, ghosts, and revisiting Pendleford and the Harper family.

Thank you for reading my waffle and for your continued support. And, if you do read the book, I *really* hope you like it. Meep!

The Secrets of Ghosts: Book collage

When I’m working on a book, I make a collage. Definitely a digital one and, usually, a paper one, too.

bookshelf_office_smallYou can see the collage for The Secrets of Ghosts on my bookcase in this picture. This was taken during the first draft, so the collage is nowhere near complete. It’s a lot busier now!

Choosing pictures and objects that ‘feel like my book’ and positioning them on the collage gives me ideas for plot twists and insights into character. Also, the pictures that I choose to ‘cast’ the characters help them to become real in my mind (especially during the early stages, when everything feels very sketchy).

Since The Secrets of Ghosts is out on Wednesday (eek – two days!), I thought I’d share with you the casting for two major characters.

ellen pageThe first, Katie Harper, is represented by an actress I’m very fond of – Ellen Page.

Whether fourteen (as in The Language of Spells) or twenty-one, as she is in the new book, Ellen Page portrays the perfect mix of strength and fragility. Plus, she delivers sarcasm beautifully.

JamesMcAvoyMax is a new character. A reformed con man who turns up at the country house hotel in which Katie works.

I cast James McAvoy as Max early on and found him, ah-hem, inspiring.  Staring at pictures like this for hours at a time is tough work, but someone has to do it.  

Lucky

While working on the final revisions for The Secrets of Ghosts, I found time to turn 37 (I know, I’m a multi-tasker extraordinaire).

I had a lovely birthday with a surprise trip to Edinburgh (which included delicious red wine in my favourite bar),  and a brilliant gift from my brilliant husband. Look! Aren’t they pretty!

framed book covers_small

It’s been a fantastic start to 2014 and I’m feeling very lucky. And I can’t believe my second published book is out next month. Meep!

I’ve been mulling over ideas for a ‘release day giveaway’ and will be back soon with full details. I hope you’re all having a good (or, at least, productive!) January and, as always, thanks for reading.