3, 2, 1… LIFT OFF!

What’s that excitable post title about? Why, it can only be that St Mallory’s has finally come out!

St. Mallory's Forever!

Yes. It has. In fact, St Mallory’s Forever was technically published on the 21st January, which means — get this — that I was still sixteen. By about five minutes, if Mark is correct about the timing. See, my birthday was the 22nd, and I was due to be turning seventeen. Still fairly young to be published, but who wouldn’t leap at the chance to be published at sixteen, instead?

“Miriam,” you’re saying, “if St Mallory’s was published on the 21st, why are you guys telling us to hang on and wait for news? Why haven’t we got it already?”  (Or you might not be saying. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not spying on all my readers through their webcams.)

Well, we did what’s called a ‘soft launch’. For a start, Amazon took a while to upload it, so it didn’t go live until the morning of the 23rd. And at the time of uploading, we hadn’t quite finished proofreading and formatting, and we weren’t sure there wouldn’t be  random glitches, like finding unexpected QQQs around italics.

Yesterday, therefore, Charley and I had downloaded it to our Kindles and were frantically reading through, keeping note of any typos or formatting errors (which I was doing on my phone, and I do not recommend it, but I was in school and had no choice), and Mark was updating it. In theory. As a matter of fact, he lost the internet for an entire day, because of his location, which made it even more stressful.

Oh, and then he wrote a foreword, and told me until I could see that foreword when I clicked “Click To Look Inside” on Amazon, I couldn’t tell you it was out.

Nevertheless, somebody clearly bought it because we managed to get into the Top 100 in Kindle Store > Books > Fiction > Children’s Fiction > Literature > Humourous — a fairly narrow category, I imagine, but we stayed on that chart all night, which I figured was pretty impressive.

Today I got online and checked the ‘click to look inside’ … and there was a foreword. And the blurb had been uploaded. Okay, so it wasn’t quite linked to my Amazon Author page (but will be soon), but other than that, all seemed to be ship shape.

It was official. St Mallory’s Forever was published and available. Is published and available, I should say.

And I decided to rob Charley of the joy of telling you it’s been released, mainly because, well, I got there first.

St Mallory’s Forever! is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US. I don’t know for certain about other platforms yet, but I know Mark said they might take a little longer, so I will update this post with links asap!

Edited to add: BARNES & NOBLE

Thank you all for your support thus far. I hope you will stay with us for the rest of the series… and remember, if you like the book, Amazon reviews are always appreciated. 🙂

— Miriam Joy

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ThunderMallorys Are Go!

Title shamelessly stolen from Miriam’s email tagline? Yes.

Singing the theme tune in my head? Yes.

Couldn’t sleep last night for excitement of telling all of you this? Yes.

It’s official – the first draft of St Mallory’s Forever! is finished! Finito! Completa! Done!

Words cannot tell how incredibly exciting this feels. There have been plenty of ups and downs and periods of absolutely nothing happening; exams, concerts, university application, ballet, moving house . . . the cosmos seemed to be conspiring against us. Just a little bit.

Nevertheless, Draft The First is finally completed. We’ll keep you posted on the progress of edits et cetera. Who knows, we might even get around to a release date eventually 😉

~ Charley R

Piecing It Together

By now you should know that if there’s an update on the St Mall’s blog, it means we’ve found the document after a long hiatus, were guilt-tripped into working on it, and now want to share this with the world.

The funniest thing about collaborative writing is that long before you’re anywhere near finishing the book, it’s difficult to tell who wrote what – especially when many chapters were written following brainstorming sessions in which all parties contributed ideas, and also because we all go back and edit each other’s chapters anyway.

Recently I realised there was no single document that contained the whole of St Mallory’s Forever! so far. We had a ‘final version’ of the first eleven chapters, plus a ‘working document’ containing most of the book (around 30k) as it stood in February of this year. And then we had a ‘chapters’ file which had an additional 15,000 words. These needed lining up.

It took some hunting until I found the most up-to-date version of all chapters that currently exist, but when I did I sat down and started to piece them together (Charley had the latest chapters to review at the time). I also took the opportunity to match up the formatting. Weirdly, not only did we have different fonts, margins, formats (indents versus line breaks; line spacing), and general appearance in the different files, we also had different formatting within the documents themselves.

I quickly put that to rights. (It’s now all in Cambria. I like Cambria.) I also made the chapter titles ‘headers’ so that we can easily skip from one to the next.

In the process I found several chapters that I really couldn’t attribute to any of us – lines I could swear I’d written surrounded by ones of which I had no memory. Either it’s doing a Good Omens and writing itself when we’re not looking, or we’re really getting this collaboration down pat and you won’t be able to tell who wrote what.

What does this mean and why do you care?

You probably don’t. I just thought you might like an update after so long. Piecing the parts of the book together not only removes any excuse we have for discrepancies (we can now look things up), but it also helps us work out how long it is and how much more needs to be written, or how quickly we need to wind it up.

If you weren’t keeping count up there, it’s about 45,000 words long, which is 5k short of a NaNoWriMo-length novel – and we’ve been working on it for nearly a year and a half. It probably won’t be a hugely long novel. My own solo works are about 90-100k each, and this is more likely to be 55-60k, if I’m reading the signs correctly. At the rate we’ve been working for the last year, you’ll be here until the apocalypse waiting for it, but we’re going to really push through the next few weeks.

Yeah, that Christmas 2011 deadline really didn’t happen, did it? But we’re hoping to get this draft completely finished asap, and then it’ll just be edits and rewrites and hopefully it won’t be too long before you see the completed book.

This entire post could be summarised like this: St Mallory’s is still a thing that exists. It’s just been sleeping for a long time. Now it’s waking up, in the hiatus before NaNoWriMo starts.

Stay tuned. We’re getting there.

— M

The Journey So Far

How did four writers from different places in the world – Grimsby, London, Dorset and West Africa – and of different ages end up collaborating on a YA novel set in a boarding school? It’s a good question. I’m now going to attempt to summarise the journey from my point of view.

Just a quick note, if you want to know more about any of us then just click the ‘Meet The Authors’ tab in the top right corner 🙂

I think I can take some credit, because it was on my blog that the seed which later germinated into St Mallory’s forever was planted, in a comment from Mark (one half of the Saffina Desforges writing team). The post was here, but the particular comment was, “I can’t wait til Ms Spook writes her own version of Malory Towers and the Chalet School series. I’m guessing there would be a big market for well-told YA set in a modern girls’ boarding school. Come on.Ms Spook! The world is waiting. Jolly hockey sticks and all that!”

Just a few weeks later, Spook – who now goes by her given name of Charley – sent me a Facebook message saying that Mark wanted the two of us to collaborate with ‘Saffina Desforges’ to write this novel, and would I like to?

I wasn’t sure. I’d not read or written any mysteries, I knew nothing about boarding schools, and an aversion to plotting, outlines and coherent sentences has always made serious collaboration tricky (though I’ve done some fun collaborative Doctor Who fan-fics). I wasn’t about to let Charley get all the glory of publication without me, though, and I’m always up for a challenge, so I said yes.

This was some time in July or August, I think, and we initially planned to release it in time for Christmas, which was a little optimistic. After a few enthusiastic weeks (I also take the credit for writing the first chapter, which then got chopped up by the other two, mashed around, and some of it stayed in and some turned up later and some disappeared into the ether), it fizzled out, and between late October and mid January there was no activity on St Mall’s at all.

And then my grandma died. I needed to distract myself, to occupy my brain, and I didn’t feel like writing my own novel – it’s always had a strong autobiographical content. I dug out the draft, read the whole thing through, and ended up adding a few thousand words to the end of it.

That was enough to get the ball rolling again: since then, a week hasn’t gone by without one of us adding to it, and sometimes two of us will write five chapters over just a couple of days, much refreshed after our long break!

(Reading the Sherlock Holmes short stories and some of the longer ones in the meantime almost certainly helped me understand the ‘mystery’ idea better, even if it did lead to way too many Sherlock references in there. I can’t speak for the others, but I think they were definitely necessary.)

It’ll be a little while until it’s finished. Meanwhile, cover designs are going ahead, and we’re planning promos and videos. I’m writing chapters, sending them to Charley, and having them back in my inbox the next morning with more added, a speed at which we never worked before.

It’ll be good to have you, who will perhaps be our future readers, on this journey with us. Five months or more may already have gone, but there’s still a long way to go.

With your support, St Mallory’s Forever will never again languish on an email server for three months. We’ll get it finished, and you’ll be there every step of the way.

Does that sound like an idea?

Then now would be the time to put your email address into that gorgeous little box on the right. I’ll see you next time!

— M