Thursday, April 25, 2013


What a fantastic blog tour, thanks to the lovely Gabrielle Carolina at The Mod Podge Bookshelf who put it together. I’m so grateful to all the participants, who made the lead-up to THE FLAME IN THE MIST’s arrival in the world feel so special. They all gave the book a fabulous send-off.

The tour ended with a Twitter chat last Saturday, officially from 6-7pm EST. Fun! At 7:20 we were still going strong but I had to wrap up because of dinner plans, so we didn’t get to  everyone’s questions. Gabrielle, who was hosting, emailed me the list of remaining ones and suggested I post answers on my blog. So here they are, with (hopefully) an added bonus: they’re not limited to 140 characters.

Thank you so much to all who chipped in, including those of you who lurked on the sidelines. Vivien, Amber, Heather, Lisa, Tabitha, Farah, Dena, Holly and Erin - Here's your questions.
Vivien: Do you have a dream cast?
I would love the girl who played Jemma in the book trailer to play her in the movie. (Notice how I said "the movie" like it's going to happen? Here's hoping…). She looks strong, moody, harrowed, determined...

(If you missed the trailer, you can see it here.)

The only problem is she's French-Canadian and doesn't speak English! In any event, I'd like an unknown to play Jemma, like Harry was in a certain movie…

And just as Harry's contemporaries were also played by unknowns, I'd prefer that Shade, Feo, Digby and Talon were, too.

The adults could be known actors, though. I won't give away the whole book cast, but here's a few:


Nox Agromond. He has to be handsome but craggy looking, and in his mid to late 30s. Able to look dark and dangerous as well as kind. Add dark eyes and long dark hair, and Joaquin Phoenix would do nicely...


....Or how about Christian Bale?


Then there's Nox's wife, Nocturna: Beautiful and ruthless, exotic-looking. Eva Green (Casino Royale) has the perfect face for her. Also, she's French, which is perfect fo Nocturna's heritage. 

Yes...let down that hair, add in some dark contacts, and Eva looks the part.

Marsh: Someone like Kathy Bates, only she'd have to be in her 40s. 

"Leave Jemma alone, or you'll have me to answer to, you evil-begotten Agromonds!"

Mmm. Take off the watch, though. And let's make that a hatchet instead of a gun. Or perhaps a vial of magic potion.

Vivien: Character or plot first? 
They come as a bundle. I can't think of a character without their story being part of it, and likewise, a plot without a protagonist is like a can of beans with no beans in it….if that makes sense!

Holly: Did you plot or pants the story? 
Both, Holly. I outline, and sometimes even write a rough of each chapter, but I really like to let go and pants within the boundaries of what I know has to happen. That way, unexpected things can happen which makes it all the more exciting. But for me, it's important too to keep the outline in mind so the over all plot doesn't get too sidetracked. Ultimately, everything that happens has to serve the story as a whole.

Erin: Most fun time researching the book 
The forest scene with Bryn concocting herbal remedies! I wanted to be sure they were authentic.

Dena: How long did it take you to write The Flame in the Mist?
Over all I'd say about five years, in between songwriting, traveling for work (lucky me!), hitting a couple of looong road blocks…and…oh, this and that, you know. (Ok, you don’t. And I’m not telling...)

Heather: Who would you consider your writing muses?
J.K. is an author who inspires me, without a doubt, for her amazing world building and for the doors she's opened in the children's fantasy market. Then, for books I read very early on in my life, an English author called Enid Blyton. I adored her stories, which were all adventure-driven, and I'm sure inspired my own love of mystery and adventure in children's lit. I read them over and over as a kid, and they stand the test of time—they still sell amazingly well in the UK. She's kind of a part of me, in my bones. Then for courage in the face of times when women weren't supposed to write, George Elliot. She blazed a trail, and no mistake.

Heather: highs and lows of authorhood

Highs: Seeing my book in stores! I just saw it yesterday at a Barnes and Noble on the "Top Picks for Children" shelf…that made my day!  

 But the ultimate high is hearing that people love it. A friend emailed last night to tell me that a friend’s daughter who she’d brought to my book launch last Friday has already read the book twice, and is now quoting from it! That warms my heart like nothing else. It’s the raison d’etre for everything, and makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Lows: Snarky reviews. Of course I want everyone to love the book – what author doesn’t? But one size doesn't fit all. I don't care so much about someone not liking it;  everyone's entitled to their opinion. But there are snarks out there, book sharks who seem to love shredding authors’ work – and confidence, and I dread seeing any like that. One answer might be to avoid all reviews!

The other thing is worry that it won't sell. In the end, I have to take the advice of one of my own characters, Jemma's mentor, and Trust. At a certain point, there's not much else any author can do about the big picture.

Heather: How do you overcome writer's block?
There's never a time when I can't write anything. Even if I'm stuck in a WIP, I can write something else, even if it's a rant about being stuck! So for me it's not really about "writer's block" so much as discovering what the particular problem is. Often, it's a resistance to getting to work because I'm stuck on a plot point, something that's not yielding. Then, I'll try several things. For example:
1. Write around the problem. Perhaps explore more backstory about a character or a scene. Not that that will get included, bit it can loosen up creative juices.
2. Do something else! Read, relax…Taking time off can give distance, and space in which my mind can come up with the solution. Other times, it's just a question of giving my mind more space to mull over a problem and let the solution come.
3. Free writing. Just…give myself a limited time, and one, two, three, go. Let my fingers gallop over the keyboard without regard to spelling or punctuation. Often something will jog loose if I do that.

Heather: What do you do to unwind after writing?
Walk. TV. Be in nature.

Get back to some roots. 

Farah: Your writing traditions?
The best thing for me is to write First Thing. Pre-email, social media, anything. Grab that cup of tea, nestle into my writing cave (aka Chair) and get going.

Tabitha: Reaction to seeing your cover?
When I saw the roughs (b&w sketches): Wow! Seeing it in color: WOW! The hues are my absolute favorite, and I loved the mystery of it. A few small things needed fixing, but once they were, I was very happy.

Lisa: is there any significant meaning on the cover to the story?
It's more of a symbolic depiction of the contents than a literal translation of a scene - there's no point at which Digby is with Jemma when she sees all those ghosts. So you have Jemma front and center with Digby "having her back" (i.e, watching out for her) while somehow helping to shepherd those small ghosts, while Agromond Castle broods in the background, an ever-present threat because of its evil inhabitants.

Heather: If  you could meet any writer living or dead who would it be and why?
William Shakespeare. Because his use of the way words sound to evoke emotion is amazing. Plus his insight into human nature is unbelievably astute, even by modern standards. Not to mention that his writing was beautiful. 

The man was a genius, and I would LOVE to meet him! I'm not afraid of bardolatry.

Amber: Which authors would you want at a dinner party?
Any of my Lucky 13s pals!


Amber: What book or series would you like to see on a screen next? 
You mean, besides THE FLAME IN THE MIST? (I could hardly resist that, could I?)
Next on the list would be one I believe is actually in the works, Leigh Bardugo's SHADOW AND BONE (Grisha Trilogy). I hope it is, as it's one of my favorites of 2012, and I can't wait for it! But don't get me started on the cast list for that one...

Heather: What's a book you wish you had written?
Actually…there’s none I wish I’d written. I admire a lot, hugely, and strive to learn from them. But if I’d written them, they wouldn’t be the books that they are.

Thank you all so much for your questions! 

Monday, April 8, 2013


Today, there’s just one day until The Flame in the Mist hits the shelves. One day...! The countdown’s been going on for some time in my addled head, but this is Really It.

I’ve been marking the book’s release with a 15-stop blog tour, which started last Monday (yes, I’m late in posting this! Blame being away in England, then having a ton of catch-up to do once I got home.) The tour runs through Book Release Day tomorrow, and ends on Official Launch Party day, Friday, April 19th. If you happen to live in PA, come and join us at The Doylestown Bookshop, 7-9 p.m.! There’ll be a reading, goodies, prizes, swag...

So with huge thanks to Gabrielle Carolina and Mod Podge Blog Tours for organizing this feat of co-ordination, and to all the bloggers who jumped on board for the tour, as well as other bloggers who contacted me prior to the tour being organized (their links are below each day's tour stop), here’s the schedule - including last week's posts - with a teaser about each day’s subject. I’ll follow up by posting each day’s permalink when I can, so you can click right on it and get to all the posts without having to search...and search...for the right post on the blog.

I hope you have as much fun reading them as I’ve had (and am still having) writing them! Click on the blog name, and you’ll be there. Look out for giveaways on the way too. You might find the odd book up for grabs...

And please leave comments! I’d love to hear your feedback.



Excerpt! You’d be surprised how hard it was to find a scene that pulls you into the story without needing a whole lot of background, at the same time as not giving too much away. Come see if I made the right choice! (With thanks to my sister-in-law for her vote J )


Top 10 inspirations for writing The Flame in the Mist. From insistent heroines, to books, to the spirit world...If this were a tweet, I’d write #wooo


Character interview with Anglavia’s resident queen of evil, Nocturna Agromond. Just be sure to not to get too close...


Interview: the whys, wherefores and what-nexts of writing high fantasy. What makes fantasy “high” anyway?


17 in-depth questions about inspirations, influences, social media, the author (=me!), and more!

Interview: The Flame in the Mist, Jemma, me...from different angles.

A fellow Lucky 13s author interviews me about the writing process (plotting, or pantsing?), good and bad days, and more.



Character Interview: Digby Goodfellow. What in Mord’s name does he see in Jemma anyway? And what does she see in him?  

Interview with Natalie Aguirre about Twists and turns in Jemma’s story, and mine.

TUESDAY, APRIL 9th BOOK RELEASE DAY!!!! Whistles, bells, confetti and champagne...

Guest blog: turning a prophecy on its ear, and what Jemma would and wouldn’t change about her life.

World building in The Flame in the Mist, and what books and movies influenced my writing.
*NB: Due to a scheduling kerfuffle (sp?) this post will go up late. I'll keep, posted.  

Fellow 13-er Laura Golden and author of the fabulous historical middle grade Every Day After (coming in June!) interviews me on narrative voice, killing darlings, and more!


Audiobook clip! Listen to a clip with award-winning narrator Rosalyn Landor! She says of the book: “I loved reading this for Kit!”


Kelsey asks me: This or That? Between Victorian, Tudor & Medieval, Grimm & Disney, and a lot more.


A rhyme about The Flame in the Mist using other books’ titles, how being an assistant teacher influenced my writing style, and other sundry questions!

Review! Eep...



Really, really evil. Everyone’s worst nightmare, Shade Agromond, sharpens her nails and ramps up her venom. Watch your back.


Talking about strong heroines, and how they relate to their authors...or not.


The Flame in the Mist in a tweet (really? 450 pages condensed to 140 characters or less? Yes!), a favorite murdered darling, and most anticipated reads.


Deleted scene! Once upon a draft, Jemma spent a lot more time at Agromond Castle. Read a scene from one of the six days that were slashed! 


Last but no means least, The Flame in the Mist’s main character herself! Jemma is interviewed by Gabrielle Carolina.

Also on Friday 19th: There’ll be a Tweetchat via Mod Podge Promotions! Join us on Twitter between 2-3 p.m. #ModPodgeBlogTours

Then, that night at The Doylestown Bookshop, I’ll be throwing a Book Launch Party! If you live in the area, feel free to come along. I’ll be reading and giving a short presentation, and there’ll be a raffle, swag, and goodies!

Thanks, and see you soon!