Friday, 30 April 2010

Everything I know I learnt from Disney.

I love Disney.

Not in an obsessed, thousands of cuddly toy, merchandise way (although I did work for The House of Mouse for four years). I love it in an enjoy the story kinda way.

I was born in the 80's, so it makes sense that some of the first films I saw were Disney. I can remember seeing Bambi with my mum on a re-release when I was five!

And I was hooked.

Maybe it's the inner child in me? Maybe I'm a sucker for a song? Perhaps it's my love of art and animation breaking to the surface? There is just something about the classic storytelling I enjoy.

Lets face it, those guys and gals know how to tell a story.

Now, admittedly, they have the foundations laid out for them. The rich history of fairy tales like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin.

See, even Disney 'borrow' ideas from other authors!

Their heroines, hero's -even their villains -are fleshed out and fully developed. They have back story, hopes, dreams and, sometimes, even a song telling us what they want.

But the ones who we find out the most about are the princesses. Yup, those feisty doe-eyed beauties with their needs and vulnerabilities.

Ever want to know what a Disney gal wants? Check out her song.

So, if you are ever stuck, maybe you just need an "I'm wishing" song. It doesn't have to be for your character either. Here's my writer wishing song in a Belle style.

"I want want my novels in the great wide somewhere,
I want all my books to sell,
I want to touch my fans,
I want to write the best I can,
I have themes, and scenes and plots and plans."

Go on, you know you want too write one too. :)

Happy Friday everyone.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Tag, I'm it.

The lovely Jaydee Morgan tagged me for this little blog game on Monday.

The rules: I have to answer five questions (five times) and then tag five others. So fasten your seat belts because it's time to learn more about the weirdness that is me. :)

Where were you five years ago?

1)Working 9am-8pm behind the counter of a British bank.
2)In the gym.
3)Reading (nothing new there then).
4)Probably complaining I was cold. I'm always cold!
5)Being complained at by my mum for not hoovering my bedroom enough.

Where would you like to be five years from now?

1)Still writing.
2)Enjoying life.
3)Hopeful, eating the calorie free chocolate I dream is being created by scientists. :)
4)Living in my own home.

What is (was) on your to-do list today?

1)Write my blog post (at least I can tick that one off!).
3)Email my friend some notes on an English essay she's working on.
4)Attempt my algebra practice exam paper.
5)Revision of my MS slotted in between/after the various errands.

What five snacks do you enjoy?

1)Fruit. I know it is way too healthy.
3)Digestive biscuits (cookies).
4)Cheerios (without milk).
5)Haribo jelly sweets.

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

1)Look after my family/friends.
2)Write full time.
3)Enjoy life.
4)Buy shoes.
5)Go on holiday more.

Okay, that was tough. My brain has trouble remembering what I did yesterday, let alone five years ago (I blame the algebra lessons last night).

So here are my five other bloggers I'm tagging to play.

Amparo Ortiz

Lydia Kang

Miss V

Matthew Rush

Lola Sharp

Also before I forget, I've been cuddling some awards (thanks again to all, and to Jaydee for the new award too). I shall be showing and sharing the love soon.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

To swear or not to swear?

I'm going to let you into a secret, lean close and I'll whisper it. Ready?

Most kids swear!

There, I said it. I uttered the words that no parent/adult or relative of a teenager wants to hear. But they do, and they do it in secret.

I've no doubt that there are some kids who don't. Take my teenage self as an example, I swore.
I knew the words. I tried it but - for some strange reason - people told me (and still tell me) it doesn't suit me. When I asked why my sweet friends told me that it's because I look too innocent or something. hehee.

My word choice is now limited to bloody (a great British, non-swear word).

But what about swearing in YA?

I'll admit I thought long and hard about choosing this topic as a post. It kept me up most of the night thinking about it. But there has been debate around the web and various blogs about the subject. It isn't something I tackle lightly (and I'd hate to offend) but I read posts by agent Mary Kole discussing the topic here and here. There is also an author perspective too from Gayle Forman.

So I wondered do we, as responsible writers, close our minds (and ears) and pretend that this generation has never uttered a profanity? Believe me, my seventeen-year-old cousin accidentally let one slip during a heated conversation with my uncle.

I've also heard some choice phrases from groups of kids in shopping centers. And it creeps me out when I hear really young kids swearing (I'm not kidding, some kids on Supernanny have fruity language!)

I'm not talking about a book littered with F-bombs, although I'm sure it happens. No, I'm talking about the heated moments when a swear word may slip out. Do we, as readers, see a word like this and close the book vowing never to read that author again?

There are the handy alternatives to swear words. The hell, damn it or crap. But some people take offence to these too. And that is their right to do so. This world is a wonderful mix of opinions and choices and I would never try to change that for one second.

I think it comes down to personal choice, one that you make for your character, book and story. I have one mild profanity in my MS. It's not an f-bomb. In fact, I'm gonna call it an s-bomb.

I tried other words. I didn't shove it in to be topical or controversial. I thought long and hard about including it. But the situation called for it and an OMG wouldn't do.

I'm not advocating a book littered with profanity. But why is it less acceptable in books but not in films? How many films have you seen where they utter the f-bomb/other curse words on a regular basis?

Here is another view on the subject.

Now, I love my followers, you guys are awesome and always make me think. I value your imput and rights to an opinion. So I'm curious as to your thoughts on this subject.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

QT Logline Contest...And Fun.

Got a logline that you know works?

Want to submit it to an agent?

Seriously, there is a contest over on the QT blog that starts today at 6AM EST and is open for 24 hours.

Chris Richman, from the Upstart Crow Literary Agency wants your one sentence pitch for YA/MG novel (25 words or less). All you have to do is fill in the form.

And the rules. All you have to do is be a follower of the QT blog and a member of the main QueryTracker site to enter. And -brave agent that he is - Mr. Richman isn't capping entries!

So good luck to all who enter.

Now on to something else.

Ever read a book that you thought could be condensed? Take a look at these.

And how do you shorten a 400 page plot device? Hmmm:

P.S., I don't hate Twilight or Harry Potter but the clips made me laugh.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Don't post online? Post online?

What is an aspiring author to do? We want to whip our little word darlings into shape. We, perhaps, want to share snippets with our fantastic followers. After all, they hear us talk about our wip so much they must get kinda curious as to if it really exists :)

I've read conflicting articles about posting some of your work online.

Chuck Sambuchino posted about the perils of posting chunks of your wip online. Note, he doesn't mean don't get feedback from beta readers or online critique groups because there are some awesome ones (to who I am very grateful for whipping my lame query into shape!). He means posting large sections of your wip on your blog.

His argument is that writers steal stuff.

On Writer Unboxed Jane Friedman posted about not being scared to post work online. You can increase your audience and get interest in a project.

And published authors do this as too.

Michelle Pavers' novel Wolf Boy can be downloaded as free podcasts on itunes. Her book still sells.

Stephenie Meyers' novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner will go online on June 7th-July 5th for free. Will it stop the book selling? Not from the amount of people who have told me they have ordered it. Or the assistants who ask if I want to pre-order it when I go in bookshops. Have I ordered it, nope but I'm curious.

The thing is, these examples are published authors. Would they do this is they didn't already have an audience? Would they risk the hours of work, sweat, editing and chocolate consumption they put into writing these books?

Katharina Gerlach is an agented author in Germany seeking publication in the U.S. She took the decision to post a free serialization of her novel The Witches Of Greenwitch.

She knows she has given away the first worldwide print rights by doing it. But it has increased her audience. Will anyone steal the idea? Who knows, I hope not.

There is also another post here about the perils of posting online.

I can see both sides. I understand the argument that ideas are not copyrighted, anyone can adapt and change them for their own devices. Now, I don't go on other blogs, read an excerpt and think "Oh great idea, let me steal it." But I'm not naive enough to think this doesn't happen.

Still, I'd like to think that most writers are more focused on getting their own ideas out there than stealing mine/yours/whoever they come across.

After all, we all know there are only so many plots out there.

Shakespeare adapted stories and no one is suing him for stealing ideas (bit hard really but you get my point, hehee). Tristan and Isolde - and countless other stories - is the framework for Romeo and Juliet. Yup, William S. was one of the masters of adapting old myths and legends.

Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Romeo & Juliet were all used in some way in the Twilight books.

So all these ideas have been used in other novels/plays etc. Which leaves me with the impression that it isn't the material, it's what you do with it that counts.

Maybe one day some future novelist will adapt our ideas. And -hopefully - they won't get them off a blog but from our books.

So where do you stand on the whole excerpt online?

Saturday, 24 April 2010

And relax

Today I relaxed.

There was no writing, no reading and no blogging (until now). I decided since the weather was nice to spend the day enjoying the sunshine.

It occurred to me that I should take a little break.

I love writing, and everything that goes along with it, but I also needed some time away from the laptop. I needed to refresh my tired brain and get into the real world. So I did.

Writing is such a solitary occupation. Sitting for hours staring at a screen with these characters who are only real to you. You type words on to the blank page and wonder where it is going to go. You drink ridiculous amounts of caffeine to keep your brain awake when it protests you need to sleep.

I've read a few posts on blogs about balance and taking a breather from your wip to come back refreshed. And it's true.

So here is to hoping you all take some time to enjoy life away from the laptop this weekend. And here is to coming back refreshed and ready to tackle your wip again.

Happy Saturday :)

Friday, 23 April 2010

The Writing Process.

It's Friday.

Finally, that day of the week where we get to relax and enjoy the things we put off over the week. Oh, who am I kidding? It's a weekend of writing and revision and rinse and repeat.

I want the chance to dream. To think back to those days where I was innocent about the realities of the literary world. You know the ones I mean? Where we all imagined it was like this:

When really, some days are like this:

And then there are the days when you just feel like doing this to you MS:

But I still return to feeling like this:

Why? Because, as many of you pointed out on Wednesday, we love it. It is the moment of peace we steal for ourselves in our hectic lives. The characters we create. The different worlds we inhabit which lead us anywhere we desire. It is the power of words and story to make us feel. To connect us to others who may read our work one day.

It also gives me a chance to use a cool quote.

'We don't need lists of rights and wrongs...We need books, time and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but once upon a time lasts forever.'
Phillip Pullman

P.S, No cats were harmed in the making of this post.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Hear the call. Write it down and set it free.

When I was six -and probably the same height I am now being tiny - I had a friend who was called Charlie and we had lots of adventures together.

Charlie ate dinner with me, sat on the swing beside me as we kicked our legs and tried to reach the sky. He comforted me when I had bad dreams and read books with me. Yup, Charlie was my closest friend and the best thing about him was that only I could see him.

Yes, Charlie was my imaginary friend, and he was a mouse.

So why am I talking about Charlie? Because Charlie was my first fully formed character. I knew what he looked like (brown with black whiskers). Where he lived (the skirting board under my bed). His family (mum, dad, twenty-five siblings) and his likes and dislikes (liked cheese, hated sprouts which, funny enough, so did I).

He had backstory, flaws and things he did that I told him off for. But I didn't write him down, he existed for me alone. When you are six-years-old you are selfish like that ;)

So I come to my point.

I guess our wip are like that. The idea comes to us, the voice that whispers to us and begs their story to be told. Eventually it screams so loudly we have to obey. We begin and write our first drafts.

We share their journey, hopes and fears, and we know their flaws better than anyone. As writers we hold them close and share them with only a few until the day we feel ready to send them on their way to an agent and, hopefully, a world of readers who will love them like we do.

That spark of character building is always there as children. It is in the games we play, the truths we bend so we don't get into trouble ("It wasn't me, it was....."). As adults sometimes we forget the innocence of childhood and the stories that flow like water through us.

The task as an aspiring author is to catch those sparks, craft them and share them. Because only by being read do characters really live.

'Stories were different, though: they came alive in the telling. Without a human voice to read them aloud, or a pair of wide eyes following them by torch light beneath a blanket, they had no real existence in the world.... Once someone started the read them, they could begin to change. They could take root in the imagination and transform the reader. Stories wanted to be read.'
The Book Of Lost Things, John Connolly.

And Charlie? One day Charlie left. I was sad but it was the right thing for him to do. He met a nice lady mouse, and they got married and had babies. He never calls, he never writes but - wherever he is - I hope he is happy.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Two section post Wednesday: Awards...and Ooooh, I could write a novel.

I have a two section posting plan of action today. It may be a longer ride than usual but please stay with me guys :)

My first, well it's all about me of course! Ha, no, it's just a HUGE thank you for the awesome hugs of love I've received so far this week.

Creepy Query Girl has awarded me this cute little award:

Roxy has given me these cute little yellow boots. Very stylish.

And a huge shout out to my QT bud Laura . Laura named me her up and coming blogger yesterday (blush). Check out her blog and say hi.

Stay tuned later this week when I shall be passing my love along the blogosphere.

And now back to my scheduled programming :)

I love writing. You love writing. Admit it, even when we are stuck on a scene or have writers block and turn off the computer and claim we'll never write again...we still go back.
Writing is like opening a tube of Pringles once you type you can't stop.

Some days the words flow...some days not so much. But the thing that makes me laugh (in my head of course, I'm not is when non-writing friends say writing is easy.

EASY! I don't want to scare them off so I don't plunge into having an idea, writing it down, developing it into a story. I don't mention character arcs, story arcs, plots, sub-plots, dialogue tags, scene and world building. Then there's the revision. The tearing your hair out over crutch words and adverbs. Then there are queries, synopsises, agent searches, submissions and the waiting. Oh the waiting.

They say "I could write a novel."

The words stick inside my throat. "Noooooo, you don't know what you are letting yourself in for."

Then I realise. I smile and nod because - in spite of everything - I wouldn't trade all those things that frustrate me for anything.

I love having ideas. I enjoy the challenge writing presents and the constant learning curve I have thrown myself into. I love that there are people in the world (that's you guys, btw;) ) who share this with me. Who cling to those hours in the day they get to work on their MS.

Who am I to take that journey away from someone if the passion is there?

So I answer "Yeah, it's hard work but it's worth it. Write a draft and you'll see what I mean."

So today, I salute you. Because in a world of people who said they "could" write a novel you actually did/do/are doing it. And despite all the stuff that goes along with it you love it. Even if it doesn't always love us back.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

OMG! prizes

To celebrate follower milestones the awesome Stina and Steena are holding an OMG competition.

If you haven't visited their blogs yet now is your chance.

Rules are simple just be a follower of both blogs and fill in the form. So go on, enter in both places, there are cool prizes to win. Promise.

From Stina: A $20 or $15 book gift card (don't worry if you are international like me and win, she will figure a prize out).

From Steena: Query Critique by Camy Tang from Story Sensei and a first page critique from Slushbusters. Oh yeah and chocolate prize too.

Go on, show your love to Stina & Steena by May 3rd 11:59 EST and see what happens on May 6th when the winners are picked.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Nice boys poop

Guys in young adult novels are freaks right?

They listen to the girl in their life.
They are sensitive and protective to just the right extreme.
They read books, listen to sappy songs and think about the future.
They are heroic, gallant, etc., etc., blah blah blah.

So the question I started thinking about is are authors setting up false expectations of nice guys for girls?

Will a teenage girl read a book and think that guys like Edward, Peeta and Sam actually exist? Will they hold out for that chivalrous, poetry reading, classical music loving, baking gods who make their knees go weak - plus he could probably slit their throat if the situation called for it, but he'd do it with feeling. :)

Are these literary guys ruining a generation of girls with a lie that real guys can't live up to?

Personally, I think no.

No-one questions whether classic literary figures spoil our expectations. I've never heard anyone complain that Mr. Darcy or Mr. Rochester or Heathcliff set a bad example. And these guys have been aloof, mysterious and consumed by love with dangerous consequences for a lot longer.

I know, have known - and dated - nice guys. Guys who hold the door open for you. Guys who listen and who you can share an intelligent conversation. Guys who are emotional and sensitive. Can they get grumpy, snap at you and sometimes - shock, horror - ignore you when you are being over-dramatic? Yeah. But even us girls sometimes do that :)

Are nice guys out there? Yes. And the best thing is they are real.

Maggie Stiefvater the author of Shiver (and other awesome books) also answered the question on her blog. I think her answers are interesting.

Also, check out this Jackson Pearce clip and her response to the question:

So remember, nice guys DO exist...and they poop.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Weekend wonders

My post is late and I'm mad at myself. I'm a girl who prides herself on being early for everything (trust me, my friends ALWAYS know I'll be ten minutes earlier than I need to be.) But it has been one of those days.

I won't make excuses and since it's Saturday, I had a lie in - the 2am revision-a-thon exhausted me. And it has been sunny, so I did what all British people seem to do when we see a beam of sunlight - head outside.

My afternoon was enjoyed at the park with my friend, relaxing and helping my fifteen-month-old Goddaughter gain the confidence to walk without holding someone's hand.

She looked so cute toddling around, her little legs moving quicker than she could keep up with them. She took the odd tumble, but she kept getting back up again. Me and her mum smiled and encouraged her, clapped each time she walked on her own. It was a big achievement. Her triumphant face reminded me how achievements (big or small) make us happy.

I felt that joy when my friend asked me to be a godparent. When another close friends' daughter grabbed my hand said my name for the first time. Basically, anything those two little girls do because they are too cute and yes, I spoil them rotten. But that is what an aunt is for right?

It was the same joy I felt when I realised I'd written a book, or finished my revision cycle.

So today I celebrate all achievements big or small. Because, like my goddaughter, we are all learning to walk in the world of writing. We just have to remember to get up if we fall and keep on smiling. Because there is always someone to cheer us on.

Happy Saturday.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Today it's all about me...and you.

Okay, to start today I have to say thanks to the awesome Stina Lindenblatt for giving me this award.

Today is a good day. Last night I stayed up till crazy time (2am, the lunacy) and finished a round of edits on my MS. But I couldn't sleep, I had a creative buzz and needed to finish it.

My heart thumped in my chest as my protagonist reached the end of her adventure and, for a moment, I forgot what the end was.


I've taken my time to get to the last few chapters that I got worried. See, that crazy girl raises her head again. But hey, I shouldn't apologise for loving (and being worried) about my characters. We ALL do right?

I know there will be more edits. I can feel it in my bones that it's not quite there (plus my beta readers and crit buddies need to read it). The thing that has made me feel good is that I've got to the end of these revisions.

And breathe.

Which got me wondering if any of you guys get that feeling? Do you worry about your characters future? Do you hold your breath as you write/edit the final scenes and forget that you know how it ends?

Oh and here's a picture.

Because the Jedi kittens make me smile.

P.S Check out the blog of Matthew Rush today for his guest post by Rachele Alpine who tells us all about the query that got her an agent.

Happy Friday everyone.

Thursday, 15 April 2010


Inspiration. The thing that sparks and idea and creates a character who keeps you awake at night until you write down what they are whispering to you.

But where does it come from?

It can be anything. A conversation or situation that interests you and gets you wondering what-if (see Jaydee about what-if.)

A thought/scene/situation that springs into your head.

A dream that wakes you up in the middle of the night a-la Stephenie Meyer.

The protagonist voice that pops into your head and speaks to you.

Okay, call the funny farm, she'd gone mad. Well, that's what my family would say. And trust me, I get the looks when I start scribbling on a notepad.

"Oh bloody hell she's writing again."

But you guys know better right? You share these little ticks that build into a story that wants, no, demands you tell it. You wake up in the middle of the night or daydream about other worlds, situations, people and places. And you have to write them down too.

Or you steal, I mean borrow it. Watch the clip for proof :)

So I open the floor to you. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

I promise I'll do better.

So you've got your MS. You revise the sucker and hand it over - shaking - to you critique partners/alpha/beta whatever reader you may have and await their feedback.

Then you get it. Some love it, some offer suggestions, some tear it into tiny shreds and leave your dignity curled into a ball, crying on the floor.

What do you do?

Don't get me wrong, I'm like constructive criticism. I welcome suggestions and ways to make my MS better. Everyone has a different opinion and yes, even if you get published, some readers will love your book and some, well you know.

I'm a big believer in gut instinct and I found this quote from author Adele Geras:

"Don't reject advice out of misplaced vanity. Sometimes others really do know best.
However, if your whole being recoils from the suggestion, don't follow it."

Recently I had some trouble with my opening chapter. Some of my readers loved it but a couple of CP's suggested it was slow and didn't start in the right place.


So, I asked some advice. I will be forever grateful to the fab Mary Lindsey who told me to get a few more opinions and if they said the same then I would know. So I did. And I've changed it and yes, it reads better now.

So what is the art of receiving feedback? I think it is to accept help and change when needed, you'll know if it is. Most of the time I agree when something is suggested that works better. And, if you don't agree? Then I shall scream this loud and proud, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.

If it feels wrong then don't do it. The story is your voice and you have to love it not just change it for someone else to love. And you got to love your work right? That's why we all write isn't it?

Oh yeah, and if in doubt about feedback, watch this that clip I found on the cool blog of Natalie Whipple.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

How do I start this?

It is the truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Did I get your attention? Good, then lets begin.

They say the opening is the most important. It's the one that has us staring at the blank page tearing our hair out.

Jaydee did a fab post about the terror of the blank page but what do you do after the blank page? You've wrote your MS, and now you are focused on getting that opening just right.

So how do you go from an so-so opening to a great one? You know the one I'm talking about right? The one that makes agents excited enough to read on. That makes them see the potential in you and request your full and then offer representation.

The opening that - once published - makes readers buy your book and set up those fan pages dedicated to great quotes.

Oh sorry, thats the dream talking. Now, back to reality.

His Dark Materials author Phillip Pullman was asked how he wrote great books. His reply was that it's easy; all you have to do is write a brilliant first page. And then a brilliant second page. And then a brilliant third page... And well, you get the idea.

If they're are any hard and fast rules then I'm still looking but I've found a link that may come in handy:

So over to you. Do you have a favourite opening of a novel? How do you work on yours to make it great?

Monday, 12 April 2010

Who wants lunch with Janet Reid AND Suzie Townsend?

I know, another post today, I spoil you all. Heehee. But, since I'm doing my read around the blogosphere I came across this and had to share with you all.

To celebrate Sarah Wylie's book deal she is hosting a competition with some amazing prizes.

1 Lucky Winner will receive a critique of their first 30-40 pages by Suzie Townsend. A pack of Twizzlers and a copy of Hex Hall.

3 Lucky Winners will receive a query letter critique by one of these three agents: Kathleen Ortiz, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, or Colleen Lindsay.

1 Winner gets a writer's survival guide with some cool stuff inside.

1 Lucky winner gets a lunch date with Janet Reid and Suzie Townsend. It's not a free trip but hey, I'd fly over from the UK if I could for that!

So check out Sarah's blog and see what happens. Good Luck.

Writing Tips.

I had a different post planned but then decided that today I wanted to make you smile. Blow away the Monday blues with a little clip that I mentioned yesterday.

And thanks again to Silence18 on QT who showed me the way to the clip. Karma.

So, in all it's glory, here it is from Hush Hush author Becca Fitzpatrick's blog


Sunday, 11 April 2010

Ooooh shiny.

Now I don't normally post on a Sunday but I feel all warm and tingly and need to spread it around the blogosphere. And since the bookcase is up (and the new books are settled in)I'm a happy girl.

The fabulous Amparo Ortiz has awarded me the pretty award above.

Now I have some rules to follow:

1) Pass on to seven other awesome bloggers. Gotta spread the love :)
2) Link this post to the award giver.
3) Show the link of the
original blog the award came from.
4) Add your blog to the Mr. Linky list on the blog the award came from so others can find you and say hi.

So here are my seven :

The next link is just for fun. I thank Silence18 on QT for posting to check out Hush Hush author Becca Fitzpatrick's blog for a cool video on writing tips.
Have a good Sunday everyone.

Saturday, 10 April 2010


I have an addiction I need to share...I'm a bookaholic.

I promise myself I'll stop. I'll ignore the seductive pull of the unopened tomes calling my name and the delicious thrill of opening the cover for the first time. I walk amongst the shelves and tell myself I'll just look. I don't need another book. I don't.

And then I see the words I dread: 3 for 2.


So, as I write this I am and now the owner of the the first three books in the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr.

And my copy of The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan arrived today.

Oh well. At least I can say it is research on how to improve my YA fiction.

Good thing I'm getting another bookcase tomorrow :)

Happy Saturday.

Friday, 9 April 2010

That Friday Feeling

Today I have been wondering what to blog about. Not that I'm running out of ideas but that there are so many cool blogs that I follow who I think deserve a shout out.

Now I'm not going to make Friday a link sort of a day. I don't discriminate against linking, I'll do it anytime. lol. So please don't think I don't love you if you don't have a link here.

Matthew has a guest blogger today, Cole Gibsen. Cole is kindly sharing the query that secured her an agent. Awesome blog, awesome post:

Jana had a good idea about how to soften the blues that follow rejection:

Over on lbdiamond's blog we celebrate flake out Friday with some funny videos:

Lydia is addressing the sometimes pain that is grammar:

Query guru and all round cool person Elana wants your opinions on what is a query:

And Natalie Whipple talks about the pros and cons of character sheets. There is also a v.funny comedy sketch about feedback from a previous post that you should check out.

Oh and Kirk, it's SUNNY here today again :)

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Books, books, books

Living in the UK can be annoying for two reasons 1) the weather. Today = nice sun, tomorrow = rain. 2) book releases.

Now I don't rant. I won't bitch about editors, agents or publishers. I know publishing is a slow business and they do their best to get the books to us asap but this year is a good year.

A really good year.

As you can see from the covers above there are a few books I'm looking forward to reading, especially Mockingjay. So, in the age of technology I thank the wonder that is Internet shopping for allowing me to pre-order these books and get them before they come out in the UK.

And breathe.

Are there any books you are looking forward to being released this year.

P.S For the fellow HG fans out there, I'm team Peeta!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Writing rituals and Muse music

I have to have a few writing rituals/obsessional ticks/things I like (delete as appropriate) when I write/revise/blog etc.

1) A drink - tea, water, juice.
2) A notebook and pen.
3) My laptop, for obvious
4) Music.

A while ago on the QT forums there was a post about music. Some people like to have music on while they write and some don't. I'm in the former...I need music when I write.

Music is one of those things that help me evoke emotions, inspire me and help build scenes. Hell, I even have a play list for my MS with songs that fit each chapter.

I listen to a very eclectic mix, classical, rock, pop anything. But my favourite band to write to is Muse. I've listened to Muse for years now and I've yet to find a song on their albums that doesn't inspire me. I even had a scene idea for my current MS while at their Resistance tour in November last year. Sad but true fact I got my phone out and wrote it down so I didn't forget!

Muse also inspires me not to give up with revisions/queries etc as with the following lyrics from Invincible:

Follow through
Make your dreams come true
Don't give up the fight
You will be alright
'Cause there's no one like you in the universe...

Check out more lyrics :

So what are your writing rituals and, like me, do you write to music?

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Dear Lucky Agent Contest.

Not sure if you are aware of this but Guide to Literary Agents blog is holding the fourth "Dear Lucky Agent contest from 31st March-14th April.

The top three winners get 1) A critique of 10 pages of your MS by Regina Brooks of Serendipity Literary 2) One-year subscription to

All you need to do is email the first 150-200 words of your MG or YA novel. Oh, and the title and logline.

Check out the link for more details:

Good luck if anyone decides to enter.

In other news check out The Alice Chronicles for a cool post on crutch words. It really got me thinking about the words I use a little bit too much.

Check it out:

Monday, 5 April 2010

Critiques. How? What? Erm?

Critique groups. Critique partners and just critiques in general make my stomach quiver.

Now, I have excellent critique buddies who I trust to give it to me straight so I can make my novel the best I can. But the one thing I want to get off my chest is my critique method.

I want to be a good crit buddy. To help, give advice, support and all the usual stuff but I worry about my methods. Am I too soft and should I be harsher? Should I critique for the sake of it? Or just comment on the bits I think need it?

Sometimes I just feel I'm lacking the critique gene :(

I read a lot. As a result tend to critique from the perspective of a reader. I read twice, crit once. I'm not grammar queen but I have my skills, so I'm told. Plus, I can spot a repetitive word like a demon.

The valuable thing about crit groups is each person brings a different skill. I'm the one who will tell you what I like, what I don't get etc. There are others who have the amazing ability to be blunter but that's just not me.

So I've found some handy tips to, hopefully, help with critiques.

Jana did a couple of cool posts on critique groups and tips:

And here's some more:

Now it's open to you guys. How do you approach critiquing?

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Cool blog celebrations

I know, I know. I said today's post was a short HAPPY EASTER message but I've been blog reading and I just finished on Steph Bowes fab Hey! Teenager of the year.

To celebrate a year of her blog Steph is holding a competition to win free books and, for us writers, a query and first five pages critique.

Check out her blog for details:

Oh and the truth from the blog award? I'm allergic to garden grass, seriously...I'm a freak. Heehee.

Right, I'm outta here for tonight :)

Happy Easter.

Short post today but just wanted to wish everyone a HAPPY EASTER.

My day has been filled with nice English weather (shock horror, no rain!) family bonding, catching up on crit work and an overexposure of chocolate. Damn you deliciously addictive choccie bunny!

Hope everyone has a good day, whatever you are doing.

Now it's back to the grindstone of revisions.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

To outline or not to outline...that is the question.

Writing is a wonderful thing. It has twists and turns and has the odd (or million) doubting moment(s) when you get so frustrated with your wip you consider hitting the delete button and running for the hills!

But before that we have to start somewhere and this question struck me last night - are you a planner or do you write off the hip?

Now I'm a seat of my pants girl all the way. When I started my current MS it came pretty much loosely formed in my head. I knew the main characters, the plot and where it would go so I started writing. Sure there were some detours along the way but I enjoyed where it lead me.

So having never really planned, and being curious, I did a bit of research so I could map out my novel.

Oh yeah and there's also the snowflake method:

So I open the floor and ask which method works for you?

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Check me, I've got an award...and I won a blog competition.

Big thanks to Lydia for my first blog award. If you haven't already then check out

Okay so now I have to come up with six lies and one truth about myself.

1.I have six toes on each foot.
2.I am allergic to garden grass.
3.I am 5'10.
4.I have a twin.
5.I can touch my nose with my tongue.
6.I live on a farm.
7.I don't like hot weather.

And now I'll pass it on:





And, if the blog award didn't make me feel all fuzzy enough, I won a blog comp.

Zoe Courtman over at No Letters On My Keyboard had a little request for help about the terror that is short stories. The deal, enter a comment and enter the draw to win one of four writing books. I left a comment and I won. Woot woot. And here's me saying I have no luck.

Check out Zoe's blog. Why? Because she rocks!

Enough about my blog brag. My challenge to you today is go spread the love and tell another blogger how fabulous they are :)