Friday, January 30, 2015

January 2015 accomplished!

The past, present and future - that's what this month has been about. Promoting those books already released, writing/revising current projects, and getting ready for my two releases in 2015.

This is my recap of accomplishments during January:

1. I completed the copy edits for THE DEVIL'S DREAMCATCHER (Holiday House, October 2015). For those who don't know the process, after you've gone through two/three/four rounds of revisions with your editor, your manuscript will then be passed to a copy editor to go through everything with a fine tooth comb. Grammar, punctuation, continuity etc are all put under the microscope. This is the last stage before proofing of the actual printed galley manuscript, so this is really when your manuscript becomes a book. Copy edits are painstaking, but absolutely essential. I will admit though, I'm glad we're past this stage because I really had to concentrate on the little details. Now my baby is off to the design team. Last year THE DEVIL'S INTERN was ready for BEA and the other big industry expos. It'll be very cool to be featured there again.

2. I started revising and rewriting a young adult contemporary thriller that's been sitting on my computer drive for over a year. It's a complete rewrite (also incorporating my agent's comments), starting with a change of tense from current to past. But it's going way better than I thought it would and my self-imposed deadline to get it back to my agent by the end of March is certainly looking achievable.

3. QUEST OF THE ARTISAN (March 2015) became available to pre-order for Kindle readers. It's my last CAMELOT novel and we're definitely ending the two series' with a bang - or perhaps I should say roar! I also received my paperback arc for review. It's hard to believe that by the end of 2015, I will have published SEVEN novels!

4. THE DEVIL'S INTERN continued to make more Best of 2014 lists. This month it was featured on  YALSA's The Hub. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Movie reviews for January

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

The best of the trilogy but not as good as Lord of the Rings. That's my basic review! Then again, I don't think I will ever love a film as much as I loved Fellowship of the Ring.

Martin Freeman is outstanding, straddling comedy and heartbreak effortlessly. Major props to Luke Evans (who steals every scene he's in) as Bard, Richard Armitage as the tortured Thorin, and Lee Pace who glides about the place being gorgeously badass as Thranduil. Best scene was the fight between the White Council and the Nine. I could watch Hugo Weaving kicking Nazgul butt all day! The cinema cheered at the Strider mention, and the ending gave me the warm and fuzzies. Slightly dodgy CGI let it down. I'm not sure how the special effects in this trilogy could be  worse than in Lord of the Rings, but they were.

The Imitation Game

And already I have my film of the year. Based on the life story of Alan Turing, this film made me sob for an hour after leaving the cinema. Not just because it is deeply moving, but because of the injustice done to a war hero like Turing which made my blood boil. Kiera Knightley is very good in the supporting role, but Benedict Cumberbatch is simply outstanding. Everyone should see this movie.


Hands down the WORST movie I've ever seen. I hated it. Despised it. I cannot understand for the life of me why such a weird movie about utterly loathsome characters is winning awards. I wanted to walk out after 15 minutes. I wish I had.

American Sniper

Very good, although not as great as The Hurt Locker. This movie does exactly what it says on the tin, which is to tell the story of the most lethal sniper in US history. It's confronting, but humanized by a great performance by Sienna Miller (who is unrecognisable as the wife.) If you don't know the story, the ending will shock you. It's a credit to how good the film is that a packed movie theatre stayed in their seats for the photos during the credits.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Time to kill this franchise please. I loved film one, thought film two was ok, but film three is just awful. I felt embarrassed for the actors, which is never a good thing.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Musings 2014 Year in Review

This year has passed by in a blur. It seems like only yesterday I was posting my 2013 year in review. I swear time speeds up the older you get.

One thing I am so glad I decided to do was write up an accomplishments list every month. Whether it was major publishing news, or just adding to that word tally on a WIP, there was so much to remember.

Here is what I regard as a standout accomplishment from every month in 2014. For the full list, just click on the month:

January 2014

I received the news that my publisher was bringing forward the release of THE DEVIL'S INTERN to Fall 2014. Little did I know then just how much this book would dominate my life during 2014!

February 2014

I revealed the cover artwork for THE RING OF MORGANA - along with a team of other brilliant bloggers who kindly offered to help. This is probably my favourite cover to date. I'm not a girly girl, but this artwork is just so pretty.

March 2014

I revealed the cover artwork for THE DEVIL'S INTERN. It is so striking - and so red! Having something radically different to my other covers was a shock, but it really stands out on a shelf. I've also since discovered that my designer was responsible for the cover of Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK novel.

April 2014

My second book deal was announced in Publishers Marketplace. THE DEVIL'S DREAMCATCHER will be released in the Fall of 2015 and is the follow-up to INTERN.

May 2014

THE RING OF MORGANA was released and gave me my first ever number one ranking on the Amazon charts. Not bad for a little indie!

June 2014

June was all about the writing. I wrote nearly 20,000 words on my works in progress this month, which may not be NaNo-ball-busting, but for a busy mum who works full time, it was a heck of an achievement.

July 2014

My third cover reveal of the year! QUEST OF THE ARTISAN won't be released until the 31st March 2015, but the cover for my final CAMELOT novel was so gorgeous, I had to share it.

August 2014

This is when all things INTERN kicked off! It's hard choosing a highlight, but I've gone for receiving my box of hardback copies in the mail. It was a moment I'd never stopped dreaming or believing in. And finally it was here.

September 2014

THE DEVIL'S INTERN received its second star review. School Library Journal joined Kirkus in giving TDI the most coveted of accolades. I was actually sitting in a physio room with my son when I got the email from my editor. He was recovering from a fractured arm and dislocated shoulder, so my response was kind of muted at the time. Mum first, writer second.

October 2014

THE DEVIL'S INTERN was released. Nuff said!

November 2014

I went to New York and met my agent and editor for the first time. NY is noisy and magical and beligerant and just freaking amazing. My publishing house treated me like a princess and just confirmed that I am in the best hands possible. I mean, they took me for cocktails at The Plaza, because that's where the character in the book go! Seriously.

December 2014

My perfect year was topped off by Kirkus Reviews naming THE DEVIL'S INTERN a Best Book of 2014 for Teens.

How the heck can I ever surpass 2014? Well, I'll give it a darned good try in 2015. I have two confirmed releases, QUEST OF THE ARTISAN in March, and THE DEVIL'S DREAMCATCHER in the Fall. I'll also have a further two manuscripts for my agent to go out on submission with, but I do intend to start slowing down next year. The frenetic pace of my life has led to some minor health issues which now have to be dealt with.

So I will end this end of year post by wishing you all a Merry Christmas. Enjoy the holiday season, and may you have health and happiness in the year to come.

Donna x

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Kirkus names THE DEVIL'S INTERN a best book of 2014!!

So, in my previous post I alluded to some good news that I could share this week. And it's big - HUGE! I was told this news over lunch with my editor and agent in New York last week, and like all awesome announcements, it's been hell keeping quiet about it. 

Kirkus Reviews has named THE DEVIL'S INTERN "A Best Book of 2014 for Teens"!!!!

And lookie, I get a special plaque too which is already on the Kirkus website...

THE DEVIL'S INTERN was listed in two categories:
  • Best Teen Science Fiction/Fantasy; and
  • Best Book to Make you Laugh and Possibly Cry!

Team DEVIL rules!

Friday, November 28, 2014

November 2014 accomplished!

I'm currently typing this from my New York hotel room. By Sunday I will have nearly circumnavigated the world, having travelled from Sydney to Singapore to London to New York to Sydney again. I'm exhausted, but have had the best time ever, and the love I've come across for THE DEVIL'S INTERN has been nothing short of amazing.

Highlight book-wise this month has been meeting up with my agent Beth Phelan, editor Kelly Loughman and the entire Holiday House publishing family. I've signed books, met reps from Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal, signed more books, and had cocktails at The Plaza Hotel. I have the best team behind me, and we're all so excited for THE DEVIL'S DREAMCATCHER (2015), after the critical success of INTERN these past couple of months. Photos from my NY trip can be found on my Facebook Author Page here.

Other November accomplishments:

THE DEVIL'S INTERN was nominated for the ALA Young Adult Library Services Association's "Best Fiction for Young Adults 2015". It's also been nominated for a Cybill Award in the "Young Adult Speculative Fiction" category.

I've managed to do some writing on my travels, although not as much as I'd have liked. My current WIP (DEVIL'S 3) is almost finished, and is currently sitting at around 70,000 words. A few more chapters, and it'll be with my agent in time for Xmas.

See you all in December, when a very special bit of news will be revealed!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Happy hellish news!

Team DEVIL is so very happy at the news today that THE DEVIL'S INTERN has been nominated for the ALA Young Adult Library Services Association's "Best Fiction For Young Adults 2015"!

It took us all a little bit by surprise, but the best news is always out of the blue...or red in TDI's case!

Friday, October 31, 2014

October 2014 accomplished!

October! Mental! Mad! Release exhaustion! Definitely my busiest month of the year (publishing wise) so far. This is what I managed in the thirty-one days of the witching month - (breathing was thankfully compulsory!):

1. Release day for THE DEVIL'S INTERN came and went! It was slightly surreal. My book is in bookstores in the US, but I live in Australia and felt slightly detached from it all. I received so much goodwill in messages, but I would have loved to have experienced it firsthand with a proper release party and cake! (Gotta have cake!)

2. I received the trifecta of great reviews with Booklist joining Kirkus and SLJ in publishing their thoughts of INTERN. "Dead funny and dead serious" really sums it up!

3. Dear Teen Me asked me to write a letter to my sixteen-year-old self. I wanted to be optimistic because life has treated me pretty well, even if being sixteen sucked! I was also featured with several other authors on Teen Reads with my brief musings on Halloween.

4. Talking of teens, I was invited to speak with a High School Book Club in my home city about INTERN and my thoughts on publishing. So many were really clued up on the industry. They also received my first signed copy of INTERN! (By the time I get to New York, I will have a better signature!!)

5. More teens news. Last night (11pm my time) I took part in a great Skype chat with another High School Book Club, but this one was in Ohio, USA. I'm not sure I was that conscious during it, having been awake since 4am, but the students were smart and knew what they were talking about. They really dissected THE DEVIL'S INTERN and reminded me of the times when I used to theorise about Harry Potter! A couple of them even guessed plot lines for the next book.

6. Proving nothing stops in publishing, not even for new releases, I spent most of the month revising my 2015 releases. QUEST OF THE ARTISAN has been through my critique partners and is now getting some serious editorial attention. THE DEVIL'S DREAMCATCHER is through its second round of revisions with my publishing house, and I expect at least one more round before we go to the copy-edit stage.

7. I am so enjoying working on just one WIP and it's definitely a way that I'm going to take forward from this point on. Gotta say, DEVIL'S 3 is shaping up really nicely. My aim is to get it to my agent by the end of November and I'm definitely on course to hit that target.

November is going to be AMAZEBALLS because I'm off to New York, New York! Expect lots of squeals as I get to meet my agent and editor for the first time. There WILL be cocktails!


Thursday, October 30, 2014


There is seriously nothing better than seeing your book(s) on the shelves of school libraries. This was sent to me yesterday, and what makes it even better is that I'm on the shelf next to the genius that is Khaled Hosseini!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Stars of 2014

In what must have been a painstaking job to collate, Publishers Weekly has listed every book released in 2014 to date with a starred review from the big six review publications, (Booklist, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, The Horn Book, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal). Just 789 books have received stars from the tens of thousands of books published, and THE DEVIL’S INTERN received two - (Kirkus and SLJ).

This amazing list can be found here if you're looking for a recommendation...or 789!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dear Teen Me

I was so pleased to be asked to do this as part of THE DEVIL'S INTERN release publicity.

Dear Teen Me is a site where authors write a letter to their teen selves.  Among those who have previously revisited the past are Rainbow Rowell, Leigh Bardugo, and Kami Garcia.

Before I wrote mine, I had a read through of many of the letters already published. I quickly realised that the authors don't hold back. Many of the letters are very moving, and you really get a feel for how terrifying the teenage years are for some people. With hindsight, I was a pretty lucky teen to be honest, although at the time I thought the world was ending. I was quite popular, my parents were together, and whilst I was bursting with angst that saw me leave home at 18, I was always independent and able to cope.

My contribution can be found here. I wanted to be positive, and I'm happy that my letter has already had such a lovely reaction to it online. I guess the main message I try to pass on, not just to my own children, but those I speak to in schools, is don't be afraid to make mistakes. That's what I was trying to get across via Dear Teen Me. Being 16 sucks on so many levels, but it's ok to not know where you're going or what you want to do. Just don't let the fear of failure hold you back.

Friday, October 3, 2014

THE DEVIL'S INTERN: Booklist review - and it's another great one!

And on release day too! "...dead funny to dead serious..." is a great description. THE DEVIL'S INTERN is quite dark, and I would heed the publisher's suggestion of a 15+ rating.

The goodwill shown towards me and the book yesterday was so lovely, but a writer's life continues and I'm knee-deep in revisions for book two in THE DEVIL'S series, while also drafting book three! But I will make a concerted effort to enjoy this release for the next few weeks, which will culminate in a trip to New York next month.

But for you, there are still four days remaining in the competition to win one of three copies from the publisher. Go here for details.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

HAPPY RELEASE DAY: THE DEVIL'S INTERN - want to win a copy...or three?

It's here!!!! I can't believe it. From today, THE DEVIL'S INTERN (Kirkus star/SLJ star), will be available to buy in bookstores across the US and Canada. This is insane - and brilliant - and insane, and to celebrate, my awesome publisher, Holiday House, is giving away a copy of the book to three readers who would like to win one.

This giveaway is, unfortunately, open to US residents only. Which means I can't enter because I live in Australia! If you're an international reader, and are now feeling rather pissed off, I do understand your pain. Maggie Stiefvater recently did a giveaway, and I couldn't enter that either. Seriously, I'm moving to New York!

For those who can - and more importantly - DO enter, the points process once you click on the Rafflecopter giveaway is simple:

  • 2 points for a Facebook page like;
  • 2 points for every tweet; and
  • 1 point for an add on Goodreads.

Each point is a chance to win. The more points, the bigger your chance of winning one of the copies. This competition is open for five days.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But in the meantime...


Monday, September 29, 2014

September 2014 accomplished!

September was a beautiful hybrid of accomplishments, including finished WIPs, nominations, editor revisions, star reviews and even a blog tour. Here be devils and knights - (and one very exhausted penniless writer!)

1. The wonderful reviewers at School Library Journal gave THE DEVIL'S INTERN another starred review to go along with the one already received from Kirkus. SLJ also named it on their "What's Hot in YA" list.

2. Speaking of Kirkus, I found out that THE DEVIL'S INTERN is a nominee for this year's Kirkus Prize.

3. Musings of a Penniless Writer is now in a monthly newsletter format. Sign up here to join Team DEVIL and Team Camelot!

4. On the 8 September, I wrote this on one of my two WIPs:

QUEST OF THE ARTISAN (2015) is finished! It is now in the hands of my critique partners. Once I have incorporated their suggestions, it will go to my line editor, and then onto formatting for a 2015 release. This is my fifth - and last - Camelot book for a while. I did get a little emotional as the journey ended, but the sense of achievement was something beyond words. I am now working on just ONE WIP (DEVIL'S 3). The joy of not juggling imaginery worlds cannot be overstated. At one point I was convinced the Knights of the Round Table were going to end up in Hell!

5. The blog tour for THE DEVIL'S INTERN started. My thanks to those who are taking part and giving over their blogs to Team DEVIL. My own post for the tour is coming on the 1st October, and my publisher will be giving away three copies of the hardcover to celebrate the official release. In the meantime you can win a copy here.

6. I received the second round of revisions for THE DEVIL'S DREAMCATCHER (2015) from my publishing house. I have a three week deadline for this, but slow and steady is the key if I revise two chapters a night. It takes about an hour to go through each line and edit twenty pages at a time. Definitely doable, and very exciting to see this baby taking shape for publication next year.

So what's happening in October? As THE DEVIL'S INTERN goes into bookstores, it should be quiet...yes?!!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Musings of a Penniless Writer - the Newsletter!

At the start of this year, I set myself two social media targets.

One: get a Tumblr account.

Did that!

Two: get a newsletter started.

Finally done that!

Musings of a Penniless Writer will go out in newsletter form at the beginning of every month. It'll be a condensed version of this blog, but I intend to make it my first place for reveals and competitions as time progresses.

The sign up form is here for anyone interested in joining Team DEVIL and Team CAMELOT!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A second starred review for THE DEVIL'S INTERN!

It's all ramping up for the official publication of THE DEVIL'S INTERN, and Team DEVIL is thrilled that the second trade review has come in, this time from School Library Journal, and it's another star review to match the star review from Kirkus.

SLJ is the world's largest reviewer of books for children and teens. For them to love TDI as much as we do is beyond exciting.

The full review can be read at this link here. I'll also copy it below.

Onwards and upwards to the 1st October and the full release!


*HOSIE, Donna. The Devil’s Intern. 240p. Holiday House. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823431953; ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9780823432653. LC 2014002402.
Gr 10 Up–Hosie has written a book that will not only entertain but maybe even enlighten. Seventeen-year-old Mitchell Johnson has spent the last four years in Hell, where he is the Devil’s intern in the accounting office. With the number of new arrivals on the rise, Hell’s finances are strained. Fortunately, the Devil has a plan to use his Viciseometer, a time-travel device, to limit the number of those destined for Hell. Mitchell sees it as an opportunity to change his fate and revisit the day he met his fate with a bus. After stealing the Viciseometer, he travels back to the past with three of his friends (a Viking prince, a 17th-century peasant, and a wild-haired gal from the 1960s) and attempts to alter history, only to learn that life and death are complicated and unpredictable. Interesting characters, nonstop adventure, and humor with a touch of heart will not disappoint teens looking for a dark comedy. Glimpses of the afterlife could also spark discussion among readers.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

August 2014 accomplished!

There are times when real life doesn't just bite me on the ass, it pummels me into the ground and then stamps on my head with spiky heels for good measure. One of my children suffered a serious sporting injury this month. He's okay, and that's the most important thing, but he's undergoing intensive physio for the time being. In terms of time, it means my 15 hour days just got longer. By 8pm, I'm so tired I can't even speak. In fact, my family know not to speak to me because I just won't remember the conversation the next day!

But writing doesn't stop for time - or dislocated shoulders and broken arms! So here's what I managed to accomplish during those moments when I was actually conscious!

1. This month it's been all about THE DEVIL'S INTERN. Kirkus posted their starred review online and then a few days later, I hit the jackpot with fanboys and girls everywhere - (and especially in the office where I work!) - when the hugely popular website listed TDI as "an amazing must read fantasy book"!

Then I came home from work to what I'd been hoping and waiting for four long years:

Getting a hardback copy of my own book in my own grabby little hands! As authors who get a traditional deal know, most publishers will send a huge box of copies to authors as part of their contract. Now I have a load of gorgeous first editions for future fun! Mwhahaha.

2. In terms of works in progress, I've made amazing word count advancements on my two draft manuscripts. WIP #1 is sitting at over 70,000 words, an increase of nearly 18,000 words for the month. In three weeks time, it'll be finished, and because I edit as I write, it'll be straight off to my critique partners. WIP #2 is now at 15,000, an increase of 9,000 words for the month. I've just sent this opening to my agent for her thoughts.

What does September hold?

Previous months:


Saturday, August 23, 2014

These books have a tale to tell!

It should have been easy. Awesome publisher sends excited author a box of their own hardback books as per the contract...

Except it wasn't! Because neither the awesome publisher nor excited author counted on those dark forces known as...Customs!

Last week, I was advised my author copies of THE DEVIL'S INTERN were being held by Australian Customs. They allowed two copies through, but a box of twenty was impounded. The reason? I had to prove excise tax wasn't due. Now, I've had issues before with the very diligent customs people here. When we emigrated, they impounded my shoes and my Christmas decorations. I got my shoes back. What I got back of my decorations was smashed beyond repair and had to be thrown away.

I sent an email to my editor. Did they send me gold-plated books? My editor was distraught that the surprise had been ruined!! Then I was distraught when I realised she was joking!! Both my editor and agent offered to get involved and write letters.

I did the maths for Customs. 20 books x retail value, then converted into Australian dollars did not equal excise tax. My brain was hurting by this point. I'm a writer, not a mathematician.

Clearly I am a mathematician though, because a week later, I phoned and was advised my books had been released.

And yesterday they arrived.


"Who has been reading my book?" said Mummy Bear. Oh, who cares! I have my author copies and they are beautiful and shiny.

And in a year's time, I'll probably have to go through this again when THE DEVIL'S DREAMCATCHER is released!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

4 years to realise a dream!

Four years ago, I wrote a novel. It was the first time I had ever tackled writing young adult. It was a fantasy tale about time-travelling devils. It received a bunch of request from agents, but it wasn't ready.

So, I put it to one side and wrote other books and became a (fairly) successful indie author.

But I never gave up on my dream of being traditionally published.

So, I rewrote my novel about time-travelling devils. And when I say rewrote, it was a complete and utter overhaul. New MC. New tense. New Plot.

Now it was ready.

Seven agents wanted to represent it. I chose Beth Phelan (now with The Bent Agency in New York.) After a year on submission, I received an email from Beth that is tattooed on my brain! Four magic words: you have an offer. It was from Holiday House, one of the most respected publishers of children's books in the world.

Yesterday, I received my author copies of the hardback.

Apologies for the shocking quality of the photos, but my hands have not stopped shaking! For four bloody hard long years I worked on this, never ever giving up on my dream.

And now it's come true.

Never give up on your dream. Ever. Because when it happens, it's the best feeling in the world.

Monday, August 4, 2014


I always know something awesome has happened (overnight my time) when I wake up to an email exchange between my agent and my editor. Such an event occurred this weekend when I woke up to this.

It's hard to describe the feeling when you find out your first traditionally published novel has received a Kirkus starred review. We actually found out in April, it got published in the BEA 2014 special edition in May, but now it's officially online.

How did I feel? I burst into tears!

Nuff said!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 2014 accomplished!

July! How is it the end of July? I spent most of the month in a state of illness. It's winter here, and I've come down with every infection known to man, with the exception of the Ebola virus, although judging by the news, that could be on the way shortly.

So, as I coughed and spluttered my way through the month, this is what I accomplished:

1. I completed the first round of revisions of THE DEVIL'S DREAMCATCHER (2015) for my publisher. The first one is always the biggest (and the hardest) and it felt good to see all the multi-coloured mark-up because it meant the ms is already tighter and stronger. This was the first time I've had to do a MAJOR manuscript change. Usually an editorial means taking words out, but I had to add an extra 40 pages! Now I'll sit back and wait for round two.

2. I now own a Tumblr account. I am loving this style of blogging. How quickly this caught on was a surprise. I had heard Tumblr was the way to go, but to put it in some kind of perspective: in four years, around 450 followers have joined Musings of a Penniless Writer. Compare that to Tumblr, where I gained over 1,000 followers in around ten days. Interesting stats for anyone tired of Blogger.

3. The gorgeous cover for THE QUEST OF THE ARTISAN (2015) was released. A million thanks to those around the Interwebbythingy who joined in with the reveal.

4. Two WIPs have had my undivided attention this month and I've been a writing machine. Number one is now sitting on 52,232 words (a monthly increase of nearly 15,000 words); WIP number two was a complete delete and start again and is at 6,000 words. Deleting the original 8,000 words was depressing, but necessary. Hey, sometimes you have to do what's right, not what's easy. I think Dumbledore says that, but not about writing!!

August is going to be a month of unknowns because THE DEVIL'S INTERN starts shipping for pre-orders. Which means reviews and promotion. Sooooooo exciting...and terrifying. Wish me luck.

Previous months: