Finding North: February 2023
Issue No. 6: A preorder discount and important food information 🧁
Note: The recording above is a reading of this newsletter — there’s no different content, and it’s not produced, so you’ll hear the occasional stumble, or sounds of daily life in the background. If you’re someone who needs or prefers to hear their news, then I hope it’s helpful.
Hi, my friends.
I’m dropping into your inboxes a few days early, because I want to share a time sensitive discount with my US readers — more on that below — but I have so much to tell you!
Some Januaries, I’m slow and sleepy, easing into the month as I recover from the year before. This January I’ve been full of energy—for drafting, for days at the beach, and for a trip out bush, to a river I’ve been visiting with the same friends since I was in high school. Read on for all the news.
Preorder discount for US readers
From January 25th to 27th, Barnes and Noble are running one of their 25% off preorder sales. That means you can preorder a copy of The Isles of the Gods for less than $15 — and having held the first advance copy in my hands today, let me tell you that the map alone is worth the price of admission.
You can click here to find the book, and make sure you use the discount code PREORDER25 — and hang onto those receipts! I think I miiiight be ready to announce preorder offers for the US, UK and Australia (as well as, I am hopeful, an international option) in the next newsletter.
What I’ve Been Up To
For the first part of January we went completely off grid, to a friend’s place in the bush that has no reception at all. It’s wonderful how everything slows down when you take away the busy input of the outside world. The kids threw stones in the river for hours, we adults repaired the shack we’ve been staying in for generations, and at night we stared at the fire and told stories.
I took my notebook, but had no particular aim in writing, and of course as soon as I took away all the hurry of everyday life, the idea I’d been waiting on showed up, first in pieces and then in a rush. I look forward to telling you about this story, probably next year.
After an outrageously cold and rainy start, it’s turned into a gorgeous summer here in Melbourne — we went to the outdoor cinema to see The Goonies, we’ve been going for long walks as we build up our readiness for our big hike in March, and we’re filling up our tanks ahead of a very, very busy year ahead.
I find a lot of value in thinking of life in terms of seasons. Not just the ‘summer or winter’ type, but the type that encompass what you’re doing with that part of your life. Some seasons go for years — you have small children, or you’re in a period of illness, or you’re doing a particular job. Some seasons go for months - right now, my family is in a season of well-filling and adventure. Thinking this way encourages me to pay attention to what’s going on, and reminds me to value it if it’s wonderful, and know that it will pass, if it’s not.
Speaking of things that fill my well, this arrived yesterday, just in time to hold in my hands, sigh with sheer happiness, and then take a quick picture for the newsletter.
I thought I had understood how good this cover was. Then I saw it in person. I cannot describe to you the way it pops — it’s so crisp and vivid. This is one you’re going to want to hold in your hands.
What I’m Writing
My zero draft of The Isles of the Gods 2 (one of these days I’m going to come up with a name for it and stop calling it The Title of the Book, but today is not that day) is going really well! I’ve been referring to the map created by the amazing Virginia Allyn for the first book, and I thought I’d share a little about it here.
I knew from the first moment that I wanted Virginia — she’s so incredibly talented, and evokes exactly the mood I wanted in a map. I hand her the most basic of sketches, and she turns it into… well, this. She instinctively understands how to convey the mood of each place, and which little details will bring it to life. Now I’ve held an advance copy in my hands, I can tell you that the tall ship on the left just bursts off the page.
The aspects of the map were very considered—I wanted the mountain range to hem in particular places in preparation for travel and plot points in book two, which I’m writing now. I wanted particular countries to neighbour each other, in preparation for other stories I’d like to write in this world.
The Royal House of Alinor, whose name you’ll see at the top of the map, owns this particular copy. Alinor is a country with strong English vibes—the capital, Kirkpool, is more Oxford than London, but I’ve borrowed plenty of parts of their culture. I love the seal that’s over Alinor on the right — one of those little touches that was Virginia’s idea, and hit perfectly.
If you find map talk fascinating, Kate and I did a whole episode of thepodcast about it, called Mapping A World. In it we discuss how we choose the physical features of each country, how we brief our illustrators, and much more.
Here’s a bonus if you’ve read this far: If you would like to get your hands on an annotated copy of the first chapter to The Isles of the Gods, make sure you’re subscribed to the-- there's going to be a secret offering in the next issue. This will probably be when I find out if my editors are reading my newsletter, as I haven't run this by them -- let's find out!
What I’ve Loved Lately
There are things in life you just assume are universal. The sorts of things where—well, I’ll cut to the chase. I was recently shaken to the core to discover that honey joys are an Australian thing. I have a new mission in life, and it’s sharing this recipe with all of you.
For my American readers, you can think of them as a relation of rice krispie treats. Only much better. They’re unbelievably easy to make—Pip and I whipped some up in minutes the other day—and are always a hit. They’re a staple of kids’ parties here, but honestly, any day is a good day for a honey joy, and there’s no age limit.
Here’s the deal:
Preheat your oven to 150C/300F.
Get a muffin tin and stick in some paper patty pan cases.
Put four cups of corn flakes in a bowl, and set aside. Don’t substitute in pre-sugared frosted flakes, and don’t go for terrible bran-related flakes that aren’t the same, even if they’re the same shape. You want Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Now put the bowl aside.
Melt 90 grams (3 ounces) of butter, 1/3 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of honey in a saucepan. Just chop up the butter a bit and whack it all in there.
Keep stirring it until it’s frothy. You’re going to think it won’t froth, but give it another minute and it will.
Pour it over the top of the corn flakes. Stir it all up gently with a wooden spoon.
Pop the mix into the patty pan cases, and stick it in the oven. About ten minutes will do it.
Take them out, let them cool a bit, and then eat several. They won’t seem like they’ve stuck together when you take them out, but give them a minute to cool and you’ll find they do.
If any are left, you can keep them in an airtight container. They taste better at room temperature.
I know you thought this was an author newsletter, but trust me, you all needed to know this. Next month I’ll recommend a book for sure.
News and Events
Aussies! You’ve been patiently waiting on your preorder links, and here they are. You can grab a copy of Isles from Dymocks, QBD, Booktopia or Amazon — though I encourage you to visit your local bookshop and ask them to order in a copy for you if you can!
If you’re in Melbourne, I’ll be reading an original short story at Worlds Away, a Wheeler Centre event on 17 Feb. Tickets are here.
If you’re on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, I’ll be at Voices on the Coast on Feb 23 and 24. There are community events on offer, and you don’t need to be with a school group to attend. Tickets are here.
If you’re a podcast listener, the latest episode ofis called Sell It! and is about how authors participate in marketing. If you're a reader who's interested in how authors deal with the need to come out of their hidey holes and share their work with the public, you'll find this one interesting.
And of course if you’re in the US, don’t forget that 25% off offer — ends Jan 27th!
And that’s it for this month! Next month I’m hoping to start sharing news about preorder offers, and maybe even the first details about tour! And of course if you end up making some honey joys, please leave a comment and let me know!
That map!!! 😍 I love Virginia’s work. She is so immensely talented. (She did the map for Dustborn also and I feel so lucky to have her work inside my book!)