The Black Hand, vol.1
New platform, new format, new look
What do you reckon? It looks very posh, doesn’t it? Very grown up or something. Anyway, I like it, and it was McKinley Valentine (author of The Whippet – The Whippet is fab! So calming, I love it) who spurred me on. And if you’re wondering, this new newsletter will be much the same but maybe a little less ‘reader funnel’ focused, and a bit more just, y’know, fun stuff.
There will still be giveaways and things! Absolutely – you know I wouldn’t dump that. But my aim is to make this newsletter more personal and generally more enjoyable to read (and to write), rather than just promo-centric, so let’s see how it goes… Reply to tell me what you think! (if that’s something you’d like to do)
What I’ve been writing lately
January and February were absolute insanity. I promised my agent that I would write 4 (yes, count ‘em, FOUR) pitches by the end of February.
I know what you’re thinking, ahem – that it is my own stupid fault, and you’re right. But here’s the thing: I did need to get cracking on new books. Publishing at the moment is a bit all over the place, so it’s all ‘slow, slow, slow, yawn, slow, nothing is happening’ one day, and then the literal next day it’s suddenly ‘OMG NOW! EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING NOW!’ (some of you will be thinking, ‘goodness, how is this different to normal publishing’ and you’re right, but since covid everything is worse). Basically it means that I need to have a few things up my sleeve for when the inevitable ‘NOW! LET’S PUBLISH NOW!’ days arrive.
As soon as I’m allowed, I’ll tell you specifics, but at the moment, all I can say is that I’m working up a standalone, a series, a sequel (yes, that sequel), and an audio collection. Heh, life’s been busy.
Steph Bowe Mentorship
If you’re a young Australian writer, I encourage you to apply for this! It’s a mentorship opportunity running in conjunction with the Text Prize, and if you’re 18-25yo you should defs give it a shot.
Cool article: Technium “Better Than Free”
I first read this article (which was featured on Jane Friedman’s Hot Sheet newsletter – I rec it) while thinking about digital piracy. A lot of authors (and artists, and other types of creatives) lose significant income because of piracy, including me – if you don’t think it has an impact on authors, I encourage you to read Maggie Stiefvater’s post about it. The Technium article takes piracy as a given (hey, piracy is almost impossible to stamp out) and tries to think of new quantitative measures that creatives can consider when trying to manage the issue (that sounds boring! But honestly, this article made me think about how to handle piracy in a new way).
Lili Wilkinson’s newsletter
Lili’s doing a very interesting thing at the moment called ‘Write Smarter’ in which she documents her process of trying out all different types of writing efficiencies (brainstorming strategies, writing at different times of the day, writing for different lengths of time, rest then write etc) and her results may be of interest to you – plus, of course, her books are extremely good, I encourage you to check it out.
In other news…
I’ve joined Clubhouse – yes, you have to wait for an invite to join in activities, but you can download the app (which I’ve done) and reserve your username (which I’ve also done) for when the glorious invite day arrives.
None Shall Sleep sequel
I’m getting a lot of queries about this (like, a lot! It’s very flattering! Thank you to everyone who’s keen for it to happen). The upshot of everything is: yes, I’ve written a solid chunk of a potential sequel, and yes, I’d really like to publish it, but it’s not up to me, as my publishers have a certain amount of say about it. ‘Why wouldn’t they publish it?’ you say - well, that is a business decision for them, and it depends quite a lot on the popularity of the first book (and if you’d like to give None Shall Sleep a signal boost to help out, go for it!).
But if the sequel doesn’t go to my publishers, then I would like to share it in some way – if I’m given permission, I might serialise it here for my readers. Anyway, fingers crossed the None Shall Sleep sequel finds a home, and I’ll let you know what happens.
Yes, it’s still a thing! In fact the bookclub is over 800 members strong now, which is pretty incredible. This month we’re reading The Gaps by Leanne Hall, which is based on a true crime event, and I’m keen to check it out. I’ve loved Leanne’s work ever since This Is Shyness, and I have high hopes!
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons: this book about Nazi mind vampires (sorry, that’s the best way to describe it) is considered a horror classic, and won a bunch of awards back in the day. It was first released in 1989, and I’m afraid that shows – it has that strong vibe of van Lustbader action pulp, which runs through quite a lot of mid-to-late 80s horror. The plotting is intricate and the main protagonists include a young African American woman and an elderly Polish Holocaust survivor, but the language and scenarios are often dated. If scenes of sexual violence, graphic death-camp descriptions, and villains using racist language are something you struggle with, maybe give this one a wide berth. But I have to admit, it’s a real page turner – probably a good thing, considering it’s an 800-page saga – and absolutely bonkers, so it’s definitely holding my interest.
On that note, have you noticed your reading taste has changed during covid? I’ve gone from being a regular romance reader to pretty much exclusively focusing on horror, action and thriller books, with some non-fiction on the side…
My partner bought one, and I tried it, and holy wow – now I want everyone to try it. It is incredibly relaxing, which is a weird thing to say about a mat covered in spikes, but there you go. The thing to remember about shakti mats is that every place that holds tension will hurt when you first lie down – and once you relax, nothing hurts. In fact, it feels better. Pretty wild, huh? After my first try, I got a light head-spin and my whole body felt amazing. I think it’s going to be great for my shoulders and hips, and I’m planning to try it on my neck too. They cost about 70 bucks and are made in (and give profit to) a women’s shelter, so I encourage you to gently put aside your misgivings and give it a try here.
Ik Zie Ik Zie
That’s the name of None Shall Sleep in Dutch. Well, it actually translates as ‘I see, I see…’ which is the start of a puzzle in Dutch. The *actual* translation of None Shall Sleep in Dutch is identical to a Dutch classic that everyone reads in school in the Netherlands – the publisher, De Fontein, thought that might be a bit much, and I tend to agree – so now the book has a fancy new title! Anyway, the cover for Ik Zie Ik Zie is pretty fab, and I can’t wait to see the book in translation, that is going to be wild – it comes out in June and you can find it at the publisher’s website here or on Amazon here.
I am toying with the idea of setting up some merch (not with the above design, that is just an example of me playing around!), but I’m not sure yet. I’d actually really love your input about it. Would you be interested? Would you like book quotes, book cover images, character art? Every series merch, None Shall Sleep merch, Circus Hearts merch… What Ellie’s-books-related merch would you like to own? Anecdotally (ie – my kid said) that tote bags, and mugs, and T-shirts, and stickers, and maybe temp tattoos, would be cool. Somebody else mentioned enamel pins… Anyway, I’m still testing out ideas, and I’m looking to start pretty low-key, but I’d love to know what other-people-not-my-kid think about it. Hit me up on replies to share your thoughts! (if that is something you’d like to do)
That’s it for this month - I hope this first newsletter has helped you discover something new and interesting, and I hope life is tracking well for you. Stay gold, see you next time 😊