Monday, 6 July 2015

RSW Update #4

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katie Upperman. It takes place between now and the 31st August.

1.  How I did on last week’s goals

I wrote 13K of my fantasy book (total 57K).

I did final revisions on Delinquent: An Alliance Novella. Now I need to do one more read-through before the final proofread, and I'll be able to get it up for pre-order by the end of the month!

2.  My goal(s) for this week

Another busy week as I'm reading manuscript partials for Pitch to Publication, so I'm aiming for 1-2K of the WIP per day!

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

CURSES. *muahahaha*

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write)

Squeezing writing in between reading all the awesome entries for Pitch to Publication! So much talent in my inbox, guys. :)

5.  Something I love about my WiP

It's strange and twisty and a bit dark. Like all my books. :)

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Writing Wednesday & IWSG

It's time for another Writing Wednesday update!

  • I'm now at 47K of my fantasy draft, so that's 14K written since last Wednesday.
  • I did final revisions on Delinquent: An Alliance Novella, so I just need to proofread it and format the ebook. It'll be up for pre-order by the end of July! :)

WIP issues: Getting distracted by yet another shiny new idea for a totally different fantasy series. :P I never totally jump off-track because my ideas tend to need a LOT of work before I can even think about drafting (it took me three months to plan the series I'm working on), so I'm dipping in and out of brainstorming.

Lessons learned: Apparently I can think of more than one decent idea per year. Who knew?

Next week: More words! As I'm reading queries and partials for the Pitch to Publication contest over the next few weeks, I'm aiming for 1K words a day.


It's also IWSG day. I don't really have any new writing insecurities to share, because I'm wearing my Editor Hat this week reading the entries for the Pitch to Publication contest! It's interesting being on the other side of the query fence. I've had first hand experience of how nerve-wracking it is when you're putting your work out there for the first time. I wish I could work with all the awesome entrants! *solidarity fist bump*

Tuesday, 30 June 2015


It's time for another fortnightly "Currently..." update about what I'm doing right now! :)


Finally experiencing the awesomeness that is Mad Max: Fury Road. Reading all the fabulous entries to the Pitch to Publication contest in my inbox this week. And of course, words and books and shiny new ideas. :D


Recently, I've read:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - so good!
Fairest by Marissa Meyer - finally! I was waiting for the Kindle version to become available on Amazon UK.
I'm still rereading my favourite fantasy books - this time, it was Graceling, The Emperor's Blades and The Way of Kings.


I watched Jurassic World, which was a lot of fun. I was considerably less freaked out than when I first saw the original films (the T-Rex rampaging around the streets left quite an impression on nine-year-old Emma. :P). And I finally saw Mad Max: Fury Road, which was every bit the epic experience I was promised (I've been watching everyone rave about it for weeks!).

I'm also watching Avatar: The Legend of Korra, and really enjoying it.

Listening to

Still listening to epic music - Two Steps From Hell, Audiomachine, Future World Music, Assassin's Creed soundtracks...

Thinking about

My WIP! I'm having a lot of fun with these characters.

I also started making notes for another epic fantasy series, because I had a random inspiration blitz the other day and couldn't resist. I was in the mood to plan something epic and world-spanning like the Alliance series...

...until yesterday, when I had to switch my focus to the Pitch to Publication contest. Now I'm thinking about how difficult it is to pick one entry. So much talent in my inbox! :)


I'm judging the Pitch to Publication contest this week and there are some great entries, so I'm excited to work with a fabulous author! I'm also looking forward to meeting up with writer friends in London this weekend. :)


I could decide which entry to pick in the contest. :P I also wish I had a clone, because clashing time zones mean I'm having difficulty switching off.

Making me happy

Shiny new fun ideas! :D Maybe I'm a workaholic, but the fun early stages of potential projects really don't feel like work. They're the adult (well, sort of :P) writerly equivalent of scribbling all over a page with crayons. If I'm not crazy-excited about an idea, then I can't even start writing it (I actually realised the other day that I'm writing my 22nd novel, and I've never actually lost interest in an idea once I started writing the book!). So I'm spending my limited free time exploring possible worlds, and loving it! ^_^

Monday, 29 June 2015

RSW Update #3

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katie Upperman. It takes place between now and the 31st August.

1.  How I did on last week’s goals

I wrote 16K of my fantasy book (total 44K). :)

I did some more continuity fixes on my YA post-apocalyptic trilogy. I think I've dealt with the glaring problems now, so I'm putting it away for a bit!

2.  My goal(s) for this week

More words on the fantasy draft! I'm buried in queries and sample pages for the Writer Pitch contest so things are going to get a bit overwhelming for the next couple of weeks, but I'll try to keep aiming for 1-2K words a day.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

Mystery! Lots of mystery! It's a common theme with all my books, and yes, it's deliberate. All is explained eventually. ;)

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write)

First drafts. *sigh* I love first-drafting, but 99% of the time, my natural writing style goes completely against my Editor Brain. So I have to choose between writing quickly while knowing I'll have to reword every sentence later, and agonising over every use of a crutch word. Inevitably, the big picture wins out, and it's easier to rewrite sentences than rework the whole plot...

5.  Something I love about my WiP

It's epic fantasy! I've also figured out the "secret" to writing longer drafts: use multiple POVs. I've always had trouble with my drafts ending up too short (it didn't used to be a problem when I started out, because I wrote MG). But this series involves three main viewpoint characters and I'm at over 40K and still not halfway through the story. For me, this is a first!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

#WIPMarathon June Update

It's time for another #WIPMarathon update, hosted by the lovely Ifeoma Dennis!

Last report wordcount: YA post-apocalyptic Book 3 was at 38K, and I'd written 5K of the new fantasy project.

Current report wordcount: I finished my draft at 68K (some of those words were from the original draft)! I then did the first continuity check on Books 2 and 3.

I also finished the rough outlines for my fantasy series and reached 40K of the first book.

WIP issues this month: The usual Inner Editor woes. I think I should just accept that my first drafts are not Shakespearean by any stretch of the imagination. My natural writing style is passive voice + excessive use of "that" "this" "it" "thing" "something" and other words which inevitably lead to me having to rewrite 60% of my sentences in revision... and non-writer readers probably don't even notice. *headdesk*

Also, switching tenses from first person present to third person past (and then back to first person past when editing my Alliance novella). Not confusing at all! :P

Four things I learned this month in writing:
  • I've been watching Brandon Sanderson's Write About Dragons lectures, and picking up some tips. I'm glad I'm not the only writer who does one revision as soon as I finish a draft, to fix the immediate issues that have been bugging me (and that I've made a note of as I go along) rather than shelving it. I do put the draft away to get some distance later, but by the time I get to the end, I've often forgotten the details of the beginning...
  • I've also found it really helpful to keep note of what happens in each chapter as I'm drafting, especially where it deviates from the outline. This helped SO MUCH with the first edit of my YA post-apocalyptic series, because I could immediately see where the plot holes were. I'm experimenting with this in my latest draft, also noting down what information is revealed and when, to hopefully stop the inevitable flood of continuity errors which always ruin my day when editing.
  • Related: I really need to make proper notes when I introduce a new element into my draft which isn't in the outline. About 50% of my issues when editing come from this...
  • ...and the other 50% come from agonising over advice that often isn't relevant. Like the "cut 10% of your draft" rule - I'm sure it works for people who write too-long drafts, but I usually add words in revision, not cut them out. (Except for passive voice/crutch words.) So I'm trying to selectively apply writing advice!
What distracted me this month when writing: Shiny new ideas and new worlds. :P Of course, once I'd finally found the balance between drafting one project and planning another, I got a sudden impulse to write a space opera/urban fantasy mashup.:P So I gave in for a bit and did some planning. And then I got another idea for a different epic fantasy series the other day. Two ideas in a month is pretty unusual for me! I get so few decent ideas, it's always best to at least get some notes down so I have something to come back to later.

Also, Nemesis came out. :)

Goal for next month: Write more of this draft! I'd like to finish it, but I'm judging the Writer Pitch contest, mentoring, freelancing and going to YA Lit Con for the full weekend, so I'm not going to have as much writing time in July!

Last 200 words: 

I feel mean posting something from a book that probably won't be published until at least 2016/2017, but I can't post from my post-apocalyptic because of all the spoilers. To give some context, this is the first in a fantasy trilogy. I'm having fun writing these characters. ;)

Shaking off the surprise, Zelle waited for the wind to die down enough for her to let go of the door and jump-scramble awkwardly onto Tawny’s furred back. I must be mad! she thought. At least when Tawny leaped forward, it became clear the stranger was a real, solid human being, and not some conjuration of the mountain’s magic. And surprisingly young, not that it was easy to tell with snowflakes swirling around them both in a frenetic dervish. His dark-red hair almost reached his shoulders, the only patch of colour against the snow, and his eyes were wide as they took in her, and the beast-like form of Tawny.
She supposed she couldn’t blame him for stumbling back in alarm.
“Wait!” She jumped down from Tawny’s back and held up her hands, though the claw-shaped stick probably didn’t help.
The young man recovered himself, scrambling to his feet.
“You’re going to let me in, witch,” he said.
Witch?” Zelle said.
Another gust of wind sent the young stranger staggering forward, pitching against the snowdrift just in front of Zelle. Despite the walking-stick he leaned on, he looked hardly capable of supporting himself on his own feet.
“There’s something I need to find,” he said, his voice barely audible over the howling wind. “A book.”
Zelle stared at him. “You just climbed to the top of the most impassable mountain in the Range through a storm, to an outpost for the biggest library on the continent. I should bloody well hope you were looking for a book, if not certain death.”
No response from the young man. He appeared to have passed out.
“Well, that’s just bloody outstanding.”

Friday, 26 June 2015

June Reading Round-Up

Hidden Huntress (The Malediction Trilogy, #2)

Stolen Songbird was one of my top YA fantasy reads last year, and I was really excited to read the sequel. In Hidden Huntress, Cecile has returned from Trollus with the goal of tracking and killing the witch who cursed the trolls to spend eternity trapped inside the mountain, while also pursuing her singing career under the watchful eye of her estranged mother. She and Tristan are separated, but we also get Tristan's viewpoint as he is held captive by his own father and tries to fix the injustices towards half-bloods in Trollus. The tension is high throughout and there are plenty of twists, though I did guess the identity of the villain. I really like the magic system in this series, as well as the reimagining of trolls and legends. I liked the plot of Stolen Songbird more, but the world inside and outside Trollus is as complex and compelling as ever.

The Stars Never Rise (Untitled Series, #1)

Wow, this was different! Finally, a YA paranormal that lives up to its awesome premise. THE STARS NEVER RISE is set in an alternative world where soul-eating demons have reduced humanity to hiding in walled towns, obeying the commands of the Church, whose exorcists won the war against the demons. Nina finds herself in a predicament when her sister reveals a shocking secret, and ends up on the run from both the Church and the zombie-like demons, joining up with a group of rogue exorcists to save her sister. 

The worldbuilding is clever and chilling, and the plot is action-packed. I was riveted from the first page to the last and there was a refreshing lack of cliches in the setting, plot, and demon mythology. The characters are three-dimensional and there are some fantastic twists I admit I didn't see coming. This is an absolute must-read for anyone looking for a YA paranormal or dystopia that stands out from the crowd!

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Witch Hunter was entertaining, but I didn't connect with it the way I'd wanted to - maybe because I've read too much YA in the same genre and it didn't have enough unique elements to make it stand out for me. The book had a few too many YA cliches and the characters were a little flat.

Nobody's Goddess (The Never Veil #1)

Nobody's Goddess is set in a village in which all the men wear masks, and each serves only one woman, his goddess. If she returns his love, he can remove the mask. I really liked the way the author dealt with all the possible implications of the curse (men can only love one woman, while if the woman rejects him, she faces a lifetime alone). This is an imaginative and complex page-turner with ever-building mystery, and I couldn't wait to see how it all worked out. A must-read for anyone looking for a unique YA fantasy!

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds, #2)

As I'd already read (and loved) The Darkest Minds, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the sequels. Heartbreaking and gripping, they held me captivated from beginning to end and left me with a hell of a book hangover. I can't even write a coherent review, but this has to be one of the best YA dystopian/paranormal series I've read.

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)

I've seen mixed reviews of this, so I decided to give it a go. It was difficult to get into the story because the writing style is a bit overly wordy and goes down unnecessary tangents. I also felt the worldbuilding wasn't well thought-out in places and some elements bordered on preachy. The story moves slowly and the heroine is a little too naive and trusting. It's a shame, because there's nothing wrong with the concept, but I just couldn't connect to the story like I hoped to.

Two Serpents Rise (Craft Sequence #2)

I read the first in Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence last year, Three Parts Dead, and loved it. Two Serpents Rise takes place in the same world but with different characters, allowing the author to explore the different areas of the truly unique world of the series. It's like a fantasy/steampunk/sci-fi mashup, more modern than medieval. As with the first book, the plot is engaging and the characters are three-dimensional and likeable. Highly recommended for fantasy readers who love clever worldbuilding and creative magic systems.

Time Salvager

Time travel stories can be tricky, but Time Salvager is an accessible, character-driven thriller. In Earth's distant future, James works as a chronman, a time-traveller who jumps into Earth's past to recover resources and treasure. But when he breaks a fundamental time-travelling rule and saves a woman's life, he finds himself on the run. The worldbuilding is great, with just enough detail to immerse the reader in the story without confusing with the time-travelling aspects. James is more of an antihero than a hero, but he still becomes a sympathetic character. The settings are well-drawn, especially the grim and haunting future most of the book takes place in. This is a fast-paced thriller with a time-travel twist which explores some fascinating issues. A must-read for sci-fi fans.

A Magic Dark and Bright (The Asylum Saga, #1)

A Magic Dark and Bright drew me in from the first page. I love a good creepy ghost story, and the small town setting is wonderfully atmospheric and packed with history and secrets. The characters are really well-drawn, too. Everyone has motives and complexities, even the side characters, and the main characters are flawed yet likeable. The romance is sweet and the author perfectly captures adolescent awkwardness and first love. This is a page-turning mystery with some nail-biting moments and plenty of suspense.

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)

So I've managed to get sucked into another series where I'll probably have to wait years for the next book (just as I was getting over GoT...). It's the kind of book where you walk around doing everything one-handed because you can't stop reading it. If you love fantasy of any kind, I'd highly recommend The Name of the Wind.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Writing Wednesday

It's time for a weekly Writing Wednesday update!

  • Since last Wednesday, I've written 15K of my fantasy draft (total 33K). :D
  • I've also finished the first read-through of my YA post-apocalyptic series and fixed all the immediate continuity issues.

WIP issues: Editing one manuscript while drafting another inevitably means one takes much longer than the other. Writing my WIP has slowed to a snail's pace, but this usually happens around the Evil Middle of a draft. Also, I keep jumping around and writing several different scenes at the same time, but I did this with the Alliance series too, so I'm not too worried!

Lessons learned: Keeping track of what happens in each chapter as I'm drafting is SO helpful when editing. I can immediately spot issues like plot holes, moments of potential confusion, and pacing issues. With my current draft, I'm also noting down which information is revealed and when. (Past Emma, why didn't you think of this earlier? :P)

Next week: I'm putting away my post-apocalyptic series for a bit before the next edit, so I'm switching my focus onto the fantasy draft!