To Have And To Hold

Yes, you guessed it — this is not a Valentine’s Day post, but a post to let you know that as of today, you can now actually buy a copy of St Mallory’s Forever! which is like, a physical book.

Exciting, right?

For me, personally, this is a pretty significant thing. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of being an author, and that always meant physical books. E-books are awesome. I love e-books. Of course, back then I had no inkling that one day a lot of books would be available only in a digital form, so it was a very different vision I had inside my head.

Even so, I’m grinning like a weirdo at the idea of being able to pose next to a copy of a book that I wrote (because somehow, holding a Kindle up isn’t quite the same!).

It’s a little more expensive than the e-book, which is obviously to do with printing costs. As a print on demand book, we can’t do print runs of ten thousand and then sell them off cheap. But, I’m sure I speak for the others too when I say if you have a copy, and you ever see me (in the street or something), I’d be more than happy to sign it.

I’ve been practising and everything.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to work on my “posing next to books” smile.

— M

UK Paperback
(I’m sure there’ll be a US one soon, but there isn’t as of writing this post. Stay tuned!)

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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

The Promo Video Is Live!

Sorry for posting twice in one day — I just wanted to let you know that our promotional video is now live and you can watch it right here:

If you’re the sort of person who uses Tumblr and might be persuaded to reblog it, you can find it here. Otherwise, please share the video however you tend to share things, and spread the word about St Mallory’s!

— M

Typerventilating Imminent

Mark sent me an email this morning with the subject line “St. Mallory’s Forever! is imminent. Time to get serious.” Talk about not freaking out your co-writers when they wake up – I read it on my phone while still in bed and promptly killed predictive text trying to reply when the only thing I could manage to say was asdfalskdjf;wakjsdfalsdkf, affectionately known as keyboard smashing or ‘typerventilating’.

You see, St Mallory’s Forever! ought to be coming out this month. Although things often do not go according to plan, we were hoping for the 22nd as our official publication date, which just happens to be my seventeenth birthday. We’re working on the final draft, tweaking and proof reading and making minor alterations (and I am sitting here confused by Mark’s formatting gibberish given that to send things to Kindle, I usually just run them through Calibre and they come out as shiny, fully functional .mobi files with contents pages… but hey).

Mark sent me promo images to use and if you’re reading this in an email, you may want to click through to see the new design of the blog,  which utilises some of them.

And I’m freaking out.

Even though one of my New Year’s resolutions was not to chicken out of taking steps towards publication (which includes investigating the best course to take with my novel Watching), the idea of something I wrote being out there for everybody to read is terrifying. I’m sitting here going, “What if they hate it? What if they never buy anything I write ever again?”

Of course, it’s collaborative, which means not only do we all share the credit, but we all take the blame. Reading it through, it doesn’t sound like me, or Charley, and I haven’t read enough Saffina Desforges to know if it sounds much like them but I’m willing to bet it doesn’t. It’s not my usual genre or style. My characters are normally bitter, twisted and often non-human, a far cry from the excitable teenage girls of St Mallory’s.

Yet I see things that I know I wrote, even if they’re not my usual style.

Okay. So it’s mine. And it’s Charley’s and Mark’s and Saffi’s.

But soon it will be yours. It’ll be coming out as an e-book first, instantly to Kindle and Nook although Mark warns me it might take a little longer for it to filter through to other platforms. Then, in February, we’re hoping to have it available as print on demand. I had no idea the print book would be coming so soon, but apparently it is.

That’s also freaking me out.

Before, I was like, “Okay, people at my school might know about it and maybe read it, but I won’t know. Ha ha.” And now I’m like, “People at my school might read it and I WILL BE ABLE TO SEE.” And they will judge me on it, even if they don’t say so. They will think that is what all my writing is like even though it’s not. Yes, I’m proud of St Mallory’s, but the idea of putting my name to … well, anything right now, is terrifying.

*deep breaths*

I’m fine. I’m fine.

After a year in which I don’t think I really achieved a lot outside of finishing my GCSEs, suddenly things are happening very fast. St Mallory’s Forever! has gone from what still seemed slightly like a far-distant possibility to a very real thing. It’s happening. It’s happening soon.

asdfa;lskdfjas;dflkjsdfa;sdlkfjaeil;lksdjfa

— 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