Autumn in Canada… times (and titles) are a-changin’

Hello blog world!

Sorry I haven’t been around for a while. Times have been a changin’ — so autumn seems like the perfect to start blogging again. One of the biggest changes has been the fact that I am now officially a Canadian resident again. After eight years in the UK, it feels good to be here. The temperatures are surely dropping though… maybe in mid-February I will regret this decision!

But with colours like this, how could I be sad?

soph focus in leaves

Long walks in the forest near our cottage are revitalizing… photo by Evan George

The second news is that Madly has made its title jump to The Potion Diaries in the US and Canada – so now it’s the same all over the world! Royal Tour is also out everywhere now. My plea (as always) is if you read it and loved it, please leave me a review somewhere online ūüôā

FB Prof Banner_RoyalTour (2)

The last big change is that while¬†I’m writing away feverishly on book 3 (Going Viral!), I’m taking some time for self-care. Autumn is the perfect season for that, isn’t it? Summer is great and high-energy and all (and I’ve had eight months of summer – I know that will get no sympathy but trust me, I’m tired of it!) but I’m ready for the Cosy Season. This isn’t the time for the pressure of new beginnings, but¬†a chance to reflect on the year that’s gone by. And it’s been a tough one, hasn’t it? 2016 has been difficult (to put it mildly) for so many of the people closest to me.¬†I want to wrap us all in a warm duvet, hand out mugs of¬†hot chocolate,¬†and tell us to be kind to ourselves.

I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness, and what it looks like for me. I think I’ve figured out what has helped me. First of all, I think most important of all has been…

Establishing a routine

I’m the first one to put my hand up and say I want a different sort of life. A life filled with travel and adventures and experiences that looks nothing like what I’ve been told is ‘normal’. Yet, establishing a routine is part of being kind to myself. I’m balking internally at this realization of mine, but I can’t escape the fact that it’s true. I hadn’t understood¬†how stressful those micro decisions are: what to eat for meals? where to go? how will we get there? Having a routine means taking some of those questions away, giving me more space to breathe and therefore…

Allowing myself the space to be creative

Without a routine, I let my work take the back seat.¬†I also vastly underestimated the stress of an international move.¬†But that’s finished now. It’s time to let writing drive me again, and to remember the joy that creativity brings to my life. And that means that I’m happier when I’m…

Spending time with family

In addition to being closer to my wonderful parents, I’ve been so lucky to have my sister over (she lives in Australia), and getting to see her always restores my soul. Gathering around the people that offer me support – and accepting that support – is all part of being kind to myself. And it also means that I’ve had the courage to start…

Exercising again

I’ve added a 30 minute workout¬†into my routines, whether that’s a run, a Sweat with Kayla workout, an Insanity DVD or a PT session. I’d forgotten how much I valued those 30 minutes of hard work¬†time. Even though it’s a great clich√©, exercise does do as much for my mind as it does for my body. It was good to remind myself of that.

So that’s what I’ve been focused on. How about you? What do you do to be kind to yourself?

Leave me¬†a note in the comments below if you want to share ūüôā

Follow:

Happy *real* Canada Day – and a Canada-related update

July 1st means only one thing – Canada Day! I come from Ottawa, where Canada Day is celebrated in a BIG way, with everyone wearing red and white… if you don’t believe me, check out my photo from last year when I spent Canada Day in my hometown!

It does feel fitting to write this post today, though, considering it’s going to be all about my recent trip! And what an epic trip it was…

The cottage... so inspiring.

The cottage… so inspiring.

First of all, I was able to go back to my old high school, Immaculata, to talk to the grade 7 & 8 students about The Oathbreaker’s Shadow. It was a beautiful summer day, the last week of school, the day before the trip to the local waterpark… but somehow, the students managed to be the perfect audience: attentive and interested, with loads of great questions at the end. It was also a blast to chat to some of my old teachers again, and to wander the halls where I spent many hours… my nose in a book, most likely.

Also while I was in Ottawa, I did a grand tour of several Ottawa bookstores, meeting booksellers and customers, which was so much fun! Cheers to Eduardo, a teen at Chapters Pinecrest who actually fistpumped when he got a signed copy Рthat made my day times a million. I ended the week with an event at the wonderful Kaleidoscope Books in Ottawa. It was lovely to chat to the booksellers there, and to sign a few books for some really special fans. 

Signing books at Kaleidoscope Book Store in Ottawa

Signing books at Kaleidoscope Book Store in Ottawa

Then it was onwards to Hamilton, where I spent a couple of days with my beautiful and talented friend MF Miller, who is mum to the most gorgeous baby. I showered him with board books (Chu’s Day and The Tiger Who Came To Tea) and I marvelled at how much he had grown! They grow so quickly!

The wonderful MF Miller and the gorgeous baby Felix read Chu's Day

The wonderful MF Miller and the gorgeous baby Felix read Chu’s Day

My time in Toronto was beyond wonderful. I met up with fellow Lucky 13s Amanda Sun (INK) and Eve Silver (RUSH) (HOW did I not get a picture of that?!) for lunch, where we talked non-stop about publishing, books, gaming, Japan, and all number of things… we then went around to ambush Indigo Eaton Centre and the World’s Biggest Book Store, so they ended up with loads of our signed books!

Eve & Amanda's books

Eve & Amanda’s books

Have I mentioned how amazing the Chapters support has been? Stacks of books, all nice and prominent on the tables. It’s super encouraging, and I definitely love Canadian booksellers!

That day, Amanda and I also popped up to see Wattpad, who have to work in one of the most creative offices I’ve ever seen. They have a huge open plan layout, with offices decorated by genre, and a table tennis table instead of a boardroom table! It was nice to see all the praise and love that Wattpad has received scrawled over the walls, and to meet the team behind the vibrant website. If you haven’t added me on Wattpad yet, please do so!

Me and Amanda at Wattpad

Me and Amanda at Wattpad

Toronto was a whirlwind – interviews, stock signings, bookseller lunches, book launches coffees – oh yeah, and a bit of shopping! I attended the Chizine fall book launch, where I met the lovely Peter Halasz, Sandra Kasturi, Madeline Ashby and many more. I hit up my old haunt (now in a new location) Bakka Phoenix, where it was surreal to see my book on the shelf. It was great to meet up again with Chandra from Indigo over delicious Soma hot chocolate, to discuss writing, Twitter, and the wonder of Neil Gaiman. She gave me this AMAZING ‘Hey Girl‘ notebook… how could you not be inspired by this?!

Random House CA also set up a blogger meet-up, which I hosted alongside the awesome Teresa Toten. I read her book about a group of OCD teens The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B with a completely open mind – it’s not my normal kind of read, I’m more of an action-adventure fantasy/dystopian girl! But I absolutely fell head over heels for Adam, the ‘unlikely’ hero, and his growing relationship with fellow-OCD sufferer Robyn. By the last page, I had tears in my eyes – not because it was sad, but because I had grown so tied to the characters that it was emotional to let them go. Such is the power of a great read.

Toronto Bloggers with me and Teresa!

Toronto Bloggers with me and Teresa!

That was an awesome event – I really really love meeting readers, and bloggers are the most voracious kind! A put some names to blogs by meeting many of the bloggers who helped host my Canadian blog tour, and one of them (the lovely Christa!) gave me this amazing Oathbreaker-themed bookmark. Now *that* is awesome.

My Oathbreaker-themed bookmark!

My Oathbreaker-themed bookmark!

My final day included a power lunch with one of my literary heros – Guy Gavriel Kay (I also have the privilege of working on his books in the UK – his latest, River of Stars, coming out in mid-July in the UK). In the Museum Tavern (you should go for the excellent drinks and beautiful copper ceiling), we talked the state of publishing, the state of bookselling, and the state of the drinks (superb). It was an inspiring meal, and cut far too short by my dashing off to my final event in Guelph!

It was a good thing we left when we did – the 1 hour journey turned into a 3-hour trek by thundering rain and long weekend traffic. Thankfully we arrived at The Bookshelf just in time… if you have the chance to visit Guelph, make sure you check out The Bookshelf! Not just a bookstore, it’s a coffee shop, cinema and bar – a true cultural hub for the city. The event was short and sweet, and there should be video of it up soon! Big thanks to my high school friend Jacob and his partner Marcus for making the trip, and to Derek Silver – a fellow Toronto author, who came out to support.

IMG_1703

Then just like that, it was over! It was a great trip, and I couldn’t have asked for a better reception for the book in its home country. Go Canada!

 

Follow:

Happy Canada Day!… Oathbreaker-style

Fireworks! Explosions! Loud noises! It’s The Oathbreaker’s Shadow‘s Canadian release day, meaning that I am officially a published author! Woo hoo!!

rhc

It’s very surreal knowing that the book is out there. Of course, I can’t go look on store shelves myself just yet, but looking on the Chapters website means that I can see which stores have the book in stock and – thankfully! – it’s most of them. Well done Random House CA’s sales team! If you see the book out there, please take a picture for me!

The Canadian book trade is also famously supportive of its local authors, so it’s been really gratifying to see some lovely review coverage come through. Honestly, some of the Canadian reviews have been the nicest I could ever have hoped to receive! And some of the most thoughtful. Just take a look…

¬†“This highly original premise and the book’s exotic setting allow for an engaging and a widely entertaining story which even the most avid of adventure-fantasy purists, despite the absence of elves, castles, and dragons, will appreciate.”¬†– Read full review: CM Magazine

“This book is the perfect choice for reluctant readers of all ages, but especially those teen boys. McCulloch does a fantastic job writing a male lead. Strength of body, strength of mind, disciplined and moral, while remaining far from perfect. Readers will find themselves learning more about the consequences of their choices, without even realizing it.” – Read full review: Contagious Reads

“McCulloch‚Äôs expertly created world, interesting array of characters, and beautiful prose add up to a masterfully told story ‚ÄĒ even those who are not fans of fantasy may fall in love with this one.” – Read full review: Book Addict 24/7

“The Oathbreaker’s Shadow¬†is an adventure curious and dangerous, filled with tradition and secret magic. It’s at times spiritual and complex, engrossing in setting, story, and character.”¬†– Read full review: Me on Books

“If you are fans of the Dustlands series by Moira Young then you are going to absolutely love this book. From page one we are thrust into a world so unlike our own, yet so completely captivating and intense. Each character brings something to the table in every scene, and they help create an amazing story that doesn’t stop from beginning to end. This was a great Fantasy read that will leave wanting more.”¬†– Read full review: Confessions of a Reading Addict

“If you‚Äôre interested in picking up a novel as addictive as¬†The Hunger Games¬†and as intense as¬†Blood Red Road, The Oathbreaker‚Äôs Shadow¬†comes out today!” – Read full review: My Pen, My Voice

(I’m particularly loving all the references to Moira Young, by the way – a fellow Doubleday Canada author who is Canadian but living in the UK! Blood Red Road is an incredible read – and was a Costa Children’s Book Award Winner – so to be compared to her is an honour!)

But it won’t feel like the official Canadian release until I’ve launched in my hometown, Ottawa, in a couple of weeks! Any book lovers, bloggers, readers or people who would like some frozen yoghurt (hope it’s a hot day!) please come down to Spoon Lounge in the Byward market on Thurs 20th June to say hi and get a book signed!

OathbreakersEviteFinal

Other confirmed Canadian events will include…

18th June – An event at my alma mater, Immaculata High School
20th June – Ottawa launch party
25th June – Stopping by the Wattpad offices in Toronto
28th June – Event at The Bookshelf in Guelph

There may be a public Toronto library event in there too, if you want to catch me in Toronto, but I’m just waiting for confirmation on that.

I’m obviously still on ‘blog tour’ in Canada too…

Me On Books                                       June 3, 2013
Confessions of a Reading Addict     June 4, 2013
More Than Just Magic                        June 5, 2013
Cozy Up with a Good Read              June 6, 2013
Retreat by Random House                June 7, 2013
I think that’s everything! If you’re out and about in stores in Canada and you spot The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, I’d love for you to let me know! And if you read and enjoy it, please do leave a review either on Amazon¬†or the Chapters/Indigo website – all the reviews really do help lots.

And finally, in case all this hasn’t enticed you enough, here is my epic trailer…

Follow:

Blog hiatus officially over!

Apologies to followers of the blog for the lack of posts, but I promise there has been a good reason for it!

For the past two weeks, I have been road-tripping around my home country, Canada, starting in Halifax, Nova Scotia and ending in Ottawa, Ontario (with a quick loop via Toronto and Niagara Falls thrown in for good measure!) It’s always a great feeling to go back home, and it was even better to be able to show my friends around some truly beautiful parts of the country. The weather was hot but not too hot – we missed the 45C heatwave, thank god! – and we covered about 4,400km in total.

But enough from me – how about some pictures, I hear you ask? Take a look…

Follow: