Tangled Planet Book Launch & Goodreads Giveaway!

So, the details of the book launch have been finalized, and it’s at 2pm on October 29th at Bakka Phoenix. It’s my favourite bookstore – a SF/Fantasy treasure trove with incredibly knowledgeable staff who are expert bibiomancers – from just a few simple questions, they can predict (which excellent accuracy) what books you will love.

The Facebook event with all the details is here, and there will be games, silly space things, and entertainments for children (since I’ll be bringing two of my own anyway). Please do come.  It’ll be fun, I promise.

The Canadian Goodreads giveaway is up now too! It will run until the day of the launch, so you have a couple of weeks in which to enter.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tangled Planet by Kate  Blair

Tangled Planet

by Kate Blair

Giveaway ends October 29, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

If you read the book and enjoy it, please do review it! You probably have no idea how much nice Goodreads/Amazon/Chapters reviews help (and brighten my day).

I hope to see you on the 29th!

book-launch

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Tangled Planet and Anxiety

One of the questions that Angela Misri asked me at our panel at Word on the Street was about the reaction of Ursa (the main character of Tangled Planet) to her new world – particularly her fear at aspects of living on a planet that we see as normal. In my answer, I talked about something I’ve never mentioned publicly before – my own anxiety, which had a big role in shaping this book. I was surprised by the number of people who spoke to me after to say they had been through something similar – I felt less alone, and was so glad to speak to other people who had the same experiences. So I thought I should be brave, and post something about it here.

I wrote Tangled Planet when I was struggling to adapt to a new world of my own – parenthood. That sounds cheesy, but the change in my life came as a bigger shock than I expected. In becoming a mother, I went from being someone who traveled the world and wasn’t afraid to jump out of a plane or move to a new continent on my own, to someone who was terrified of going to the park down the road.

After having my children I was diagnosed with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), and for a while I couldn’t stand some everyday tasks, like giving my little ones a bath. It was unbearable – I’d be consumed with fear of them hitting their little heads and drowning, even though I was right there and would never let that happen. It’s hard to express how tough this terror made everyday life. Simple tasks and outings were agony. Taking them to the playground was painful. I was constantly on high alert, scanning the world for threats and seeing them everywhere. It was emotionally bruising and utterly exhausting, yet at the end of the day, I couldn’t rest. Fears chased each other around my head, leaving my pulse hammering and me wide awake, in spite of the fact that I desperately needed sleep.

It also affected my feelings about my writing. I felt huge shame and embarrassment about my first book, and about putting it out there.  And that’s something I’m still working through. And the anxiety also touches on social interaction, with me constantly reliving conversations, wondering if I said something awful to make the person I was talking to secretly hate me.

I got help, and I’m a lot better. The fog of pain and exhaustion has lifted. I also know the signs of when I’m getting anxious, and have check-ins with my psychologist to nip things in the bud. I was able to use what I’d learned when my anxiety bloomed again after the election of Trump. Watching the resurgence of the forces that ripped the world apart in the 1930s and 40s, I spent sleepless nights wondering how I could protect my children if the worst happened. I was not alone, either – my psychologist said she’d been inundated with people afraid for the future after Trump’s election.

And in spite of all my strategies, I still worry way too much. I will always work to reduce risk where it makes sense to do so, but I struggle with the impossible desire to eliminate all dangers to my children. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that complete safety does not exist. Trying too hard to protect my children can limit their experiences and stunt their independence, so I have to let them do things that terrify me.

Since this was a huge part of what I’ve been going through, it had to come out in what I was writing. Although I didn’t want a main character with anxiety  – that felt too close to home – I still wanted to explore the emotional truth of what I’d been going through. Because most of the symptoms that come with anxiety (heart racing, adrenaline flood, constant scanning for threats, etc.) are a healthy and useful reaction when you are in real danger – they only become an issue when you are reacting in that way to non-threatening, everyday situations.

So I wrote my SF hero as someone who was also struggling with a new reality – a world that looks familiar to us, but one that holds unseen risks that leave her feeling out of her depth. Ursa, like me, is trying to protect the people she cares about most. But Ursa is dealing with dangers far more real than those I’ve been facing.  Dangers that threaten her whole crew, their future on Beta Earth and their very survival.

I know my children are as safe as I can make them. I know they aren’t facing a strange new planet, light-years from help, with a murderous monster in the alien forests surrounding them.

But, in spite of everything, that’s sometimes that’s how it feels.

 

***The Facebook event for the Tangled Planet book launch is up! It will take place at Bakka Phoenix on October 29 at 2pm – more to come on that and a Goodreads giveaway in a later post.***

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Tangled Planet

My new book is working its way into Canadian stores (it’ll be out in the US in May 2018). It’s published by the wonderful people at DCB – an imprint of Cormorant. Yay! You can find it at my favourite book store – Bakka Phoenix – right now and official launch details will come soon, as well as info on a Goodreads Giveaway.

So, it’s probably time to say a bit more about it.

It’s called Tangled Planet, and it’s a YA SF.

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Here’s the blurb from my publisher’s website:

It’s taken 400 years of travel, but the starship Venture has finally arrived at its destination. Beta Earth is an uninhabited, untouched planet that seventeen-year-old engineer Ursa has to colonise with her crewmates.

The first night Ursa is on Beta Earth her world goes out of control when she encounters a dead body. She’s positive she saw a large creature with sharp teeth, something that shouldn’t even be on the planet, but nobody believes her. As injuries and bodies start piling up, Ursa must figure out who to trust when her fellow crewmates start taking sides between Venture’s safety and the hope of creating a home on Beta Earth.

If Ursa and her people can’t find out what’s really going on in the forest, their already fragile society won’t survive.

And here’s how my agent, Lydia Moëd, described it:

After 400 years of travel, the generation starship Venture has arrived at its destination planet: Beta Earth, pristine and uninhabited. But 17-year-old engineer Ursa and her crewmates are not prepared for the rigors of colonization. Deadly accidents and unexpected hardships threaten to tear the group apart. Then Ursa discovers something lurking in the overgrown alien forests of their new home. Something that shouldn’t be there. Something that’s killing the colonists, one by one.

Ursa needs to convince her crewmates to return to the safety of the Venture, but when she tries to tell people about the giant, fanged creature she saw, they assume she’s lost her mind – or worse, that she’s committing the murders herself to sabotage the colonization process. As conflict threatens to tear the crew apart and evidence of a conspiracy comes to light, Ursa doesn’t know who she can trust. But she knows that if they don’t pull together and find out what’s really going on in the forest, their fragile society won’t stand a chance of survival.

From the award-nominated author of Transferral, TANGLED PLANET is a tense, compelling read that combines the big ideas of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora with the pace and intrigue of The 100.

Tangled Planet is available to order from the normal places online, and should be on the shelves of all good Canadian bookstores soon. It’s out there. And I’m back to being all nervous as I wait to find out if people like it.

(I hope you do).

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Word on the Street – Born a Sci Fi Hero Panel

Word on the Street Toronto is coming up! It’s on Sunday September 24.

I am, as usual, terrified/excited for this. Terrified because I will be on a panel and speaking in public, and excited because I love Word on the Street, and have gone almost every year since I emigrated, long before Transferral came out.

So in 2015 it was particularly wonderful that it was my first public appearance as an actual, official author. I ‘accidentally’ wore my Word on the Street lanyard all the way home on the TTC, and would have kept it on for the next week if there had been any plausible way I could make it look unintentional. Continue reading

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Six Ways to Write A Book When You Are Already Stupidly Busy

I have a full-time office job, two young children (3 & 5) and I volunteer. Time is a constant challenge. My second book is coming out now, so I’m often asked how I fit in writing. The answer is – with some difficulty.  Yet I’m more productive than I was before I had children.

Continue reading

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Ajax Library and Word on the Street

I will be at Ajax Library on August 23rd at 4pm to talk about writing, Transferral, Tangled Planet and trying to be brave. You can find the details here. Please come by if you are in the area!

And on Sunday September 24, I’ll be back at Word on the Street, which I am so excited about.  (I will continue to be excited about it until about two weeks before, when I will start to get nervous, a feeling that will slowly grow until the day of, when I’ll be terrified, nauseous, and wondering what on Earth possessed me to agree to stand on a stage and speak in the first place.)  But for now, excitement – eeee!

Word on the Street is one of my favourite festivals, and I’d been going for
years before I became an author. This year, I’m on the ‘Born a Hero‘ panel on the Teen Spirit Stage from 12.30pm-1.30pm with Sarah Raughley  and Cherie Dimaline.

I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow panelists – I’ve wanted to read Cherlie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves since I first saw it on the DCB website, and this starred Kirkus review obviously bumped it up my to-read list – I’ll make sure I’ve made time before the panel.

I’m currently reading Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley, and loving it. (How could I not? It is as exactly as she described it – ‘PACIFIC RIM meets the AVENGERS with a SAILOR MOON cast’). Strong female protagonists, monsters, conspiracies and the world in the balance – hugely fun and compelling.

As usual, I’m going to be totally in awe of my fellow panelists. It’ll be a fascinating session, and I can’t wait to hear what they have to say about their books.  Please come and sit in the audience and send me supportive looks so I feel slightly more comfortable about the whole public speaking thing.

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Sunburst and Tangled Planet

Transferral has been longlisted for the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. So exciting to be nominated! Especially since I’m once again in great company – there are books by several of my friends there –  Lena Coakley with the wonderful Worlds of Ink and Shadow, Marina Cohen’s creepy  The Inn Between, and Ian Donald Keeling’s action-packed The Skids, are all also nominated in the young adult category, and Jay Hosking’s fascinating Three Years With the Rat is nominated in the adult category.

And my next book – Tangled Planet – is coming out in the fall with the wonderful people at DCB! My lovely agent, Lydia Moed, described it as “A tense, compelling read that combines the big ideas of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora with the pace and intrigue of The 100.” Here’s a brief description:

After 400 years, the starship Venture has arrived at its destination: Beta Earth, pristine and uninhabited. But after generations of living on their dilapidated starship, 17-year-old engineer Ursa and her crewmates are not prepared for the rigors of colonization. Deadly accidents and unexpected hardships threaten to tear the group apart. Then Ursa discovers something lurking in the overgrown alien forests of their new home. Something that shouldn’t be there. Something that’s killing the colonists, one by one.

Ursa needs to convince her crewmates to return to the safety of the Venture, but when she tries to tell them about the creature she saw, they assume she’s lost her mind – or worse, that she’s committing the murders herself. As conflict threatens to tear the crew apart and evidence of a conspiracy comes to light, Ursa doesn’t know who she can trust. But if she can’t find out what’s going on in the forests of Beta Earth and in the patched and worn corridors of her starship home, her fragile society won’t survive.

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Willow Award nomination, Transférés, and my next book

I am terrible at updating this blog. At least that means when I get around to it, I have lots of news to share.

Transferral was just nominated for a Willow Award! A Snow Willow Award, to be precise. The Willow Awards are a wonderful young readers’ choice award program in Saskatchewan.  Ten books are nominated in each age group (Snow Willow is for grades 7-9), and the readers vote on their favourite.

I am in excellent company, along with several friends and their fantastic books, including Icarus Down by James Bow (which is next on my shamefully behind to-read list), a favourite of my childrens’, If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki VanSickle, and the identity-affirming French Toast by Kari-Lynn Winters.

My book is also coming out in France next week! It’s up on Michel Lafon’s website, and has a fantastic cover. Am looking forward to trying to read it with my limited French when my author’s copies arrive.

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And I have another book coming out in the autumn, from the wonderful people at DCB. More to come on that in another post. Watch this space. (That’s a pun. Because it’s set in space).

Posted in Life, Transferral, Young Adult Fiction | 4 Comments

Transferral optioned! French rights sold! Signed with an agent!

So, it’s been an exciting few weeks, and a number of things have fallen into place that I can now talk about.

Firstly, Transferral got optioned! And by Temple Street Productions, no less – makers of the wonderful Orphan Black (if you haven’t watched it, get on that).  Here’s the proper news release:

Transferral Option Announcement

Massive, massive thanks to Barry Jowett, Bryan Jay Ibeas, Kitty Yau, Cormorant and DCB for their amazing work in making that happen.

French rights have also sold, to Les Editions Michel Lafon, so it’ll be coming out in France! I am far too excited about getting a French copy. Am going to try to read it. My French is rather limited, but I think reading a book in French that I wrote will help. Right?

I’ve also signed with an agent – the lovely Lydia Moëd at the Rights Factory (who sold the French rights!).  Here’s my page at their site. Lydia is currently building her list, and is actively seeking marginalized authors over the summer. So if you are looking for an agent and are from an underrepresented group – send her a query. Information on definitions, what she is looking for and how to query here.

Currently working hard on finishing up my next book, so it’s ready for submission, and outlining book 3. Oh, you know, and the full-time day job. And parenting two small children. And volunteering.

And I wonder why I’m so tired…

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MYRCA 2017 Nomination

I found out on Monday that Transferral has been nominated for a Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award. And I’m still so happy about it, for three reasons. Firstly – award nomination! Eeee! They like my book! Of course that is beyond exciting. Secondly, the company.  Seriously, look at these books:

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The Scorpion Rules was on my post about my favourite books of 2015, and I’ve since read Speechless and We Are All Made of Molecules, and I absolutely loved them! Two more of the books are on my to-read shelf (The Blackthorn Key, which I have heard wonderful things about, and A Pocket Full of Murder, which was recommended to me by E.K. Johnston when we were at Ella Minnow for Authors for Indies last weekend). And several more are on my (absurdly long) to-read list (and a few more will be added). So it’s amazing to see Transferral in such company.

Thirdly and most importantly, I’m excited because the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards is a literary initiative which encourages children to read the books on the list, and then vote on their favourite. So by being nominated, Transferral will be read by many more children. And that’s the whole point really, isn’t it?

By the way, here is my actual to-read-shelf, in case you thought I was making that bit up. I just finished The Lie Tree today (which was incredible), so I get to start a new book now, and it’s going to be a fellow MYRCA 2017 nominee for sure. I still can’t bring myself to read Terry Pratchett’s final book, so that’ll probably stay on the shelf for a while.

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