Saturday, 13 January 2018

How many books did I read in 2017?

Yes, it's time for my yearly round-up!

Last year, I concentrated on clearing my huge TBR pile and am pleased to report I read 76 books from my own bookshelves (26 of which were e-books). I also did four beta reads and read 26 books I'd borrowed from various libraries. For the mathematically challenged, that works out at 106 books for the year, or about two a week. Slightly down on the previous year's total, but still pretty respectable!

I was able to add one new library to my collection and visited six different libraries in total over the course of the year (alas, none of them were in far-flung corners of the world).

How many books did you read in 2017?  Did you visit your local library?

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Quest to read a further 100 YA books (Part 4)

Time to update my quest with some more YA books I've read. Part 1 is found here, Part 2 is found here, and Part 3 is found here.

61) The Potion Diaries by AmyAlward
62) The Potion Diaries: Royal Tour by AmyAlward
63) The Potion Diaries: Going Viral by AmyAlward
64) The Originals by Cat Patrick
65) Sweet Damage by Rebecca James
66) Stolen by Lucy Christopher
67) The Game by Krystyna Kuhn
68) The Crash by Krystyna Kuhn
69) Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas
70) The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant

71) The Young Elites by Marie Lu
72) The Rose Society by Marie Lu
73) The Midnight Star by Marie Lu
74) Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
75) Outside In by Maria V. Snyder
76) Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
77) The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott
78) The Third Twin by CJ Omololu
79) Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
80) Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Quest to Celebrate Perseverance in the Writing Community

Today I am happy to be part of Writers Persevere!, an event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their release of their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward. 

Because Angela and Becca have spent the last year exploring painful human struggles, they wanted to highlight a very important aspect of overcoming difficult circumstances: it can make us stronger. I promised to let Angela hijack my blog today, so please read on!
Hi everyone! When you set out to find examples of inner strength, you don’t have to go very far. Right here in the writing community we see it every day. Writers more than anyone understand the swirl of emotions as we work toward publication. We dream of making it and seeing our books in the hands of readers…yet doubt and frustration can be a constant companion. For us, there is a lot to learn, much to steel our nerves for, and unfortunately, a host of real-world problems that can try to derail us. And, even as we slowly move forward and grow, we can sometimes feel like impostors. This is a tough road.

But the fact that writers face this battle, day after day, and KEEP GOING…this should be celebrated! We need to be reminded that we are much stronger than we sometimes believe. We dream, create, and force ourselves to keep striving. Through the ups and downs, we persevere!

Have you encountered something on the writing road that made you question yourself? Have you faced an obstacle that required a force of will to get past?

If so, we want to hear about it! Join Becca and me at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th, where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell us about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, join this event by writing a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere.  Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us. 


We also have a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost, so stop by Writers Helping Writers. I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!
If you struggle, remember to reach out to others. We are in this together, and by supporting one another, we cross the finish line together (and then keep going!). 

Happy writing!

Angela & Becca

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Oh, autumn, how I've missed you!

Autumn leaves and squirrel stocking up on supplies
This time last year I was visiting my sister and her family in Australia, so I missed out on my favourite season - autumn! I love the colours of the falling leaves, the early morning mists and the slight nip in the air. I always feel more inspired, more creative and more writerly when the nights start drawing in.

I finished my latest WIP about a third of the way through August - yay! - and it clocked in at 68,500 words in the end. It's best to get some distance from the novel before starting on revisions, so I've taken a break from writing for the last month or so and have been catching up on my TBR pile (I've read quite a few books, but have still barely dented the pile - oops!). Now that autumn's crackling in, though, I shall hunker down and get serious about starting the next draft.

How about you? Do you feel more creative in the autumn?

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Pitch Wars 2017: #PimpMyBio

Pitch Wars 2017

The annual Pitch Wars contest has begun, and I'm entering it for the very first time. This is a contest run by the inestimable Brenda Drake, and if you want to know more about it, full details can be found at the official website here.

Contestants have until 10pm tonight (New York time) to submit their query and first chapter of their completed manuscript, and mentors will choose an entry each to help improve the manuscript for the agent showcase in November. Mentees will be announced on 24th August.

In the meantime, there's a lot of fun happening over on Twitter. Relevant hashtags are #PitchWars #PWTeaser #PWTeasers and #PimpMyBio.


#PimpMyBio is a chance for mentees to get to know each other better (and for mentors to do some stalking of their own, lol) in a Contestant Blog Hop organised by Lana Pattinson. So, here's a little bit about me and my novel to whet your appetite.

About me:

The joy of a good library crawl is in my blood, and my personal best is seven libraries in one day. I aspire to see my own books on library shelves and in shops one day, which I hope will match the buzz I've had when seeing my plays performed by my local drama group. Currently, I let my imagination soar on my walk to work, where I temp as an administrator at a university.

About my novel:

And here's a short pitch about my 89,000-word YA Fantasy novel, WHERE THE WILD WIND BLOWS, which is a gender-flipped PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN reimagining, told from the POVs of Seri and two teenagers affected by the magical panpipes:

When sixteen-year-old Seri plays the right notes on her magical panpipes, rats will dance to her tune and follow her anywhere.

But if she wants an Underworld priest to resurrect her dead sister, Seri must lure not vermin, but children, to satisfy his monstrous terms.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Crafting the first draft of your novel

There’s no right or wrong way to write the first draft of your novel; the important thing is to get your words down. Some people find it helpful to set themselves a daily or weekly word count target, whilst others may write for a particular amount of time in any given day. Some people carefully plot every stage of their story before beginning their draft, whilst others may have a rough idea and allow themselves to be swept along in inspiration’s flow, taking many unplanned, but rewarding, diversions along the way.

It can be intimidating to stare at a blank screen (or blank page in your notebook), trying to craft the perfect first line, the perfect first paragraph, the perfect first page. Spoiler: You’re unlikely to achieve this straight off the bat. And that’s all right. At a writers’ forum I frequent, some of the writers don’t call their first draft a first draft, but a Draft Zero instead. They allow themselves to write a messy first draft, knowing they can polish it up in later drafts. This makes the blank page a lot less intimidating to conquer.

I’m currently working on a new WIP, and I’ve set myself a daily word count goal of 1,000 words. My aim is to get this draft finished by the end of this month (or maybe by mid-August if I want to make things a little easier for myself – after all, the only person I’m competing here with is me). Some days I achieve more than my goal, other days I achieve less. And that’s okay. Sometimes I can write every day. Sometimes I take a break from writing. And that’s okay, too. This is very much a messy Draft Zero, but that’s fine, and it certainly takes the pressure off when I stare at my blank page. As long as I’m moving my story forward, I can polish it up in later revisions.

How do you work through the intimidating whiteness of a blank page in your own WIPs?