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Promotion – Free book

Some great news for all of you guys who like reading (and you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t). A FREE BOOK. On June 18th and 19th, my novel, Windrunner’s Daughter, will be available for FREE on Amazon.com.
 
This was my first baby – the book I finished before Maisie was born and which was only just published this year after ten years of rewrites. It’s my testament to stubborn determination and contains its own message about persisting in doing what we love. It is my love story to science fiction and for £0 is really excellent value for money!
 
But don’t take my word for it:
What an incredible, rollercoaster ride of a novel! I absolutely loved the feisty heroine, and her adventure across the partly-terraformed Martian landscape was breath-taking. I was on the edge of my seat until the last page! Kat Ellis (Author of Blackfin Sky)
 
Take a deep breath and run – this story will not let you go until the very end. Put me in mind of the pace of Patrick Ness “Knife of Never Letting Go.” When it comes to action adventure, Pearce nails it time and again. Kathryn Evans (Author of More of Me)
 
I’ll remind you to pick up your free book nearer the time, if you don’t mind, and if you really want to support me if you would share my reminder, tell your friends an family and, if you like the book, perhaps put a review on Amazon, I would be eternally grateful.
 
Bxx

Upcoming book launch – Windrunner’s Daughter

I’m so excited to announce that Windrunner’s Daughter is finally going to be published. THIS WEEK.

wd marketing materials

This book has been a long time in the making.

The first time Wren appeared was as a character named Web, in a short story I wrote back in 2003. She was the one who encouraged me to give up my life and job in London and move, in 2004, to a village the Peak District, where I went freelance, so that I could spend as much time as possible writing. Writing what? Her full story, of course.

Windrunner’s Daughter was the novel that taught me to write. I made mistakes – huge mistakes (the first draft of my first ever novel was about 30k too long, hadn’t been properly plotted, tried to do way too much and included rookie mistakes like telling not showing). But for the first time in my life, in 2007, I actually wrote a whole novel, thanks to Wren.

When I thought I had finished the book I sent it to agents and received my first raft of rejections. Being a writer means dealing with a lot of rejection!

So I went to a company called Cornerstones, to help me find out what I had done wrong. That wonderful team led by Helen and Kathryn helped me hone my novel to the point at which they thought it was good enough to enter into a competition run by the British chapter of the international organisation SCBWI. The competition was for unagented, unpublished novelists – Undiscovered Voices. I was a winner of Undiscovered Voices 2008 and, as a result, got offers from agents.

Sam Copeland believed in Windrunner’s Daughter enough to take me on. After Cornerstones, he was my first real cheerleader and did his best to sell the novel, but while publishers loved the first half, the second (the unplotted half) had problems. So we gave up on Windrunner’s Daughter, put the manuscript in the back of the proverbial drawer and, using everything I had learned in writing it, I came up with another novel, Angel’s Fury, which sold to Egmont, was long listed for the Branford Boase and won two other awards.

The Windrunner’s Daughter taught me to write and then retired. Or so I thought.

The reasons I had for writing Windrunner remained. I had thought it was important to write a story which showed that girls could do anything, especially those things they are told they cannot do as well as boys. In October 2005 I had given birth to a little girl and it became even more important to me that she learned this lesson. Maisie is surrounded by messages that try to pigeonhole her and I wanted to write something that would counterbalance this.

So after writing The Weight of Souls and Phoenix Rising, I went back to Windrunner’s Daughter. I deleted the whole manuscript, keeping nothing but my original concept, and rewrote it all.  This time I plotted the second half as carefully as the first and used everything I had learned from working with editors from Egmont, Strange Chemistry and Stripes.

When Strange Chemistry closed down, the lovely people at Xist asked to see Windrunner’s Daughter and finally, I had a new set of cheerleaders, Calee and Michael-Ann, who also believed in Wren and her messages of courage, self-belief and equality.

I’m so happy that I can finally share Windrunner’s Daughter with you. I hope you like it.

Windrunner’s Daughter on Amazon

 

Cover reveal

As an author it is always nerve wracking to see your cover for the first time. Different publishers have different approaches. Sometimes the author gets asked what direction they would like to see the designer go up front, sometimes they get shown a draft, or options and are asked for their input, often they are presented with the cover as a fait accompli. Either way there is always the fear that it won’t be right; won’t represent the book as you feel you wrote it. There is not much worse for an author than feeling like your precious baby is going out into the world dressed in rags.

I needn’t have worried. My first impression of the cover for Phoenix Rising is that it is beautiful. I love the colours, which are the colours of the Phoenix, and the fact that it looks like part of the ship itself. I think the colours will be eye-catching on a shelf.

My second impression, once I really started looking is that is clever. I feel that the tagline: Sail. Salvage. Survive is memorable and gripping and the strapline and ‘They can fight for the future, but they can’t escape the past’, is an absolutely perfect summation of the story.

As I looked closer I realised, with delight, that the designer had a real feel for the book and had incorporated elements from the story throughout. The skull and crossbones on the front, which looks as if it is rusted into the painted ship, is not only stunning, but tells us that the novel is about pirates. The way that the faces of Toby and Ayla are incorporated into the eye sockets is brilliant – you can see how they are trapped inside their pirate lives – but Toby is looking at Ayla as his way forward while Ayla is looking out towards the future, and her eyes are the ones that engage the reader.

The way the teeth include the broken cityscape and ship is excellent and I am crazy about the way the flames of the Phoenix are rising up from the bottom.

In short I love my cover and I hope you do too.

Front and back cover

The UKYA Easter Egg Hunt by Bryony Pearce

UKYA-egg-huntbannerYou should already know what you’re doing by now, but just in case, welcome to the UKYA Easter Egg Hunt! One very lucky winner will receive a huge grand prize of signed books and other swag by over thirty YA authors who write and live in the UK.

All you have to do is read this blog, count up how many UKYA branded Easter eggs you see in the blog, then follow the link at the end to the next blog. Keep going until you get back to where you started and add up the number of eggs you’ve seen along the way.

Email your answer to UKYA2015egghunt@gmail.com

A winner will be chosen at random from the correct entries and contacted by email.

This closes at noon on the 5th April and is open internationally.

So get finding those eggs – and perhaps you’ll discover some great UKYA authors along the way.

Good luck

My name is Bryony Pearce and I write books for teenagers. It sounds like an introduction to an Authors Anonymous speech because writing is kind of an addiction – when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing, talking about writing, wishing I was writing, or planning my next piece of writing (don’t tell the family).

I write books for teenagers mainly because I have a teenaged voice. I write the books I want to read and it shocks me when I look in the mirror and see this old looking mother-of-two staring back at me.

ukyaeastereggI write for teenagers because teenagers feel so strongly, have still got first experiences ahead, can still be influenced by what they read. The books that teenagers fall in love with will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Maybe I can be that writer for someone: the one they remember, the one who has influenced them in some way.

ukyaeastereggI write for both boys and girls, but I always write books with strong female characters in (even if they aren’t the MC – the Phoenix Rising trilogy has a male MC, with a kick ass heroine to help him), because I want my characters to be role models as well as entertainment. My stories are all thrilling and character-led, full of conflict and excitement (and sometimes ghosts, gods or fallen angels).

My first book, Angel’s Fury was published in 2011 and is about a teenager who gets reincarnated and must defeat the fallen angel who is manipulating her life. My second book, The Weight of Souls, was published in 2013 and is about a teen who sees dead people. I have two novels coming out this year: Phoenix Rising, the first of a trilogy is out on the 1st June and is a post-apocalyptic adventure about pirates, In November Windrunner comes out and that is straight up sci fi.ukyaeasteregg

You can check out my work and find out more about me on my website www.bryonypearce.co.uk or follow me on twitter for more of my musings @BryonyPearce

My prize for the egg hunt is a ‘pirate’ necklace which goes with my new novel. Phoenix Rising. I can’t give a copy as it isn’t out quite yet. But I hope the necklace is a decent enough substitute (along with a signed postcard).

Hope to see you again

Here is the next blog you need to go to. Happy reading.

What he did last night

My six year old boy is a monkey at bedtime. Every night I put him down at 7pm and every night he is up and down like a yo-yo till around 830 or 9. The problem is, I can’t tell him off that stringently because what he is doing for that hour and a half is writing. He writes stories, he writes me little love notes, he writes songs.
Every night he comes downstairs (where I am eating my tea or watching The 100) at least once to deliver me a love letter that he wants the whole family to see at breakfast, or to show me his latest story. And my heart melts and I know I would have done the same thing.
Last night was new though. Yes, I put him down at 7, yes he was back up again to see me at 8. But this time the love note he had written was not for me. It was for A GIRL IN HIS CLASS.
He loves her to the point of blushing when he tells me about her.
In order to show that he loves you, Riley gives you handmade gifts – paintings, drawings, letters and stories. So he has drawn her a picture, cut it out and written her a note on the back.

letter to elea1

letter to elea2

I laminated the letter before I went to bed, so that when he gives it to her it will be something she can keep, if she wants to, forever. Because what girl wouldn’t want to be reminded every so often, that at least once, she was adored, utterly, innocently and perfectly by a boy who loved her for who she is and not what she looks like!

The most painful first of all

When I became a mother for the first time, I knew that there was a whole world of ‘firsts’ out there for me to discover – the first smile, the first giggle, the first time your baby feels the sun on her face, her first snowfall, the first time she crunches an autumn leaf or feels sand between her toes, the first time she holds your face in her hands and kisses you, the first time she stands alone, the first tentative step. Every day was another first.
By the time my little man was six I thought all of those milestones had passed. I mean I know there are a few more, but they aren’t coming for a few years: first love, first chest hair, first time shaving, first time his voice breaks, and so on
But I was wrong – there was one more first.

In addition to all the wonderful ‘firsts’, there are, of course, a few less wonderful ones. The first time you see their blood, their first sick bug, the first fever, the first trip to A&E, the first overnight hospital stay, their first day of school, the first time they come home in tears because a friend has been cruel.
This first caught me out utterly unprepared.
My son has always been tactile and affectionate – he likes to snuggle on the sofa while watching TV, he loves to roll around while being tickled and he loves cuddles and kisses.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to kiss my son good night, as I have done every night of his life … and he rubbed it off.
It felt as if I’d been stabbed in the heart.
Almost every time I’ve forced a kiss on him since, he has rubbed it off.
We’ve made a bit of a game of it – if he hasn’t managed to rub off the kiss within ten seconds it’s too late – it has absorbed in and remains there permanently.
But it hurts.
There’s a book I read by Steve Biddulph called Raising Boys . I read it as soon as I found out that my second child was going to be a boy – I thought I should be prepared. In it, if I recall correctly, he basically says that boys tend to all about their mums until they are six, then they start to shift their allegiance towards their dads. He was so right. My little man, who has, right up until his sixth birthday been MY little man, is suddenly daddy’s boy.
My little girl has always been daddy’s girl.
Where does that leave me?
The sharp pain of this rejection reminds me that my children are growing up, so fast. Soon we’ll be ships passing in the night – as they spend all their time at high school, doing homework, going out with friends. I’ll become a taxi/cleaning lady paid, if I’m lucky, with a quick kiss.
Today I will be writing: spending time with my characters, who can only do as I dictate.
But I will be looking forward to picking my daughter up from school and pressing a kiss onto her curly head and then picking the little guy up from rugby club and forcing a kiss on him as he squirms to escape.

Misogyny as comedy – cracking the lens

My nine year old daughter’s best (male) friend recently told her that boys were better than girls – at everything – and that there were loads of things that boys could do that girls couldn’t. It’s the kind of comment that boys sometimes make (my son when he was five picked up the following phrase from school ‘boys are fantastic, girls are elastic’) but when Maisie made no move to disagree with him I damn well did.

I challenged the boy to come up with one single thing, just one, that boys could do that girls could not. It took him some time, quite a long time really, but once I shot down every single example he came up with using examples of famous female achievers (from the England women’s football team to Ennis to Rowling) the best he could contrive was that boys could pee standing up. When I told him that girls were perfectly able to pee standing (anyone who has seen The Full Monty knows this) he shut up and looked extremely thoughtful. And so did Maisie.

The fact is, the more we allow our boys to get away with saying things like this, the more we fail to challenge them, the more they grow up feeling that this ridiculous idea – that boys are better than girls – is true.

This week one of my friends posted a video on Facebook. It showed a male comedian drawing a graph for a roomful of viewers. This graph, he said, was a guide for all young men out there. All women, he said, should be scored according to hotness and craziness. No women were below a 4 crazy, so that axis went from 4-10, but the hotness scale went from 0-10. All women graded at a ‘hotness level’ of 0-5 formed the ‘no-go’ area – any women deemed to be ‘not hot’ wasn’t worth a man’s time. Between five and 8 hot and above the ‘crazy line’ was your ‘fun zone’, below the crazy line was your ‘date zone’. Women who were between an 8 and 10 hot and not too crazy formed the ‘wife zone’. In his opinion super hot women who were below a 4 crazy did not exist – these were ‘unicorns’ and anyone above an 8 hot and below a 2 crazy were ‘trannys’.

How did this man measure ‘crazy’? At one point he mentioned ‘laid back’ so I can only assume that ‘not crazy’ for him means something like ‘agreeing with men all the time’ or ‘wanting to do what men want to do’ or ‘ not being emotional or in anyway demanding’.

He then did another chart – the female version. To women, he said, all men were graded on a cute / money scale. End of.

So in the course of this video this ‘comedian’ told me that women should only be valued according to their looks and their ability to remain ‘untroublesome’ and that women themselves value only money.

And the gender of the person who posted this video on Facebook – female. When I suggested that it was offensive, I was shouted down, not by men, but by women. ‘It’s only a giggle’, ‘don’t you ever score men marks out of ten?’ (No I don’t), ‘This chart is VERY funny’, ‘Just a bit of fun’.

Really? Just a bit of fun? This kind of misogyny disguised as comedy is an insidious disease. It’s simply a modern version of ‘take my wife … please’.

It tells our sons that it is all right to disrespect women, because it’s ‘only a laugh’. It delivers its message – that women should be attractive and easy and have nothing else of worth – in a way that gets into the memory and remains there, working its tendrils into the psyche.

It tells boys that they are better than girls. It permits, in fact encourages, a society where rape and sexual assault in our colleges and universities is on the up, where young boys watch porn (and are suffering in their first sexual encounters from the disconnect between real life and what they have seen), where young men play computer games where rape and sexual violence are normalised, where violent crime against women and young girls is becoming more and more horrifying and where women are still blamed for their own assaults (she was asking for it, drunk, wearing a short skirt – she was on the wrong side of the crazy / hot line).

And where are the women who challenge this?
Well we’ve internalised the message too. As a teen I was as guilty as anyone else of laughing at myself, being self-deprecating, hiding my light under a bushel in case it offended or ‘put boys off me’. I wanted to be popular so I allowed boys to make fun of me and my gender, I giggled along with them, and I hid my own achievements so as to remain on the right side of the ‘not crazy’ line.
When I was assaulted I never reported it, when I had to fend off groping hands on trains, in clubs, in bars, even at school, I never shouted out, I tried to deal with it ‘quietly’. When a boy punched me to prevent me from stopping him and then put his hand into my knickers during a German lesson I did shout and I got in trouble for yelling, did I say why? No, I was too embarrassed.
When I was told that my dissertation was marked down because the examiner didn’t like ‘girls’ I made no fuss. When I joined an office and heard comments rating me ‘hot or not’ then accidentally received an email that had gone round the whole office (but was obviously not intended for me) in which they judged the ‘new girl’ – ‘all right from a distance but a real munter up close’ I said nothing.
When another boss said that he would never hire an attractive woman to work in his company because he would find it too distracting, I just laughed and said ‘thanks a lot’.

But I am a mother now and I want my daughter to grow up with a different kind of life. With self-worth. I want her believing that she can do anything and that when she gives her heart to someone it should be to an individual who things she is more than a dot on a line.

How can I tell her that she is amazing and have her believe me, when I laugh at jokes about women being stupid, greedy or insane, when she hears ‘blonde jokes’ or when the boys she likes in her class constantly tell her that girls are crap and useless?

How long before I find her sobbing because she has found herself scored on a crazy / hot graph by people who are supposed to like and respect her?

One final thought – no one any more thinks that the black and white minstrels are funny. Jokes that lampooned black people as dim-witted, lazy, buffoonish, and superstitious provided the lens through which white people saw black America.

You would never, ever start a joke with a black guy walking into a bar. It has been accepted that this kind of humour contributed to a society that accepted slavery. ‘Black jokes’ are racist. They are unacceptable in any culture that purports to value equality.

So why are misogynist jokes okay?

Misogynist wisecracks provide the lens through which we allow our sons to see our daughters. Why don’t we value our daughters enough to crack that damn lens?