The London Scene by Virginia Woolf

Hello gentle reader,

last weekend I went to the National Portrait Gallery to visit the temporary exhibition about the Life, Art and Vision of Virginia Woolf. It’s an amazing exhibition and I really recommend it if you find yourself in London before 26 October 2014. I find there’s nothing quite as inspiring as seeing a great writer’s personal notes, letters and photographs. It gives us a ‘behind the scenes’ look at their life, struggles and inspiration.

VirginiaWoolf

Following my visit to the National Portrait Gallery, I decided to read one of Virginia Woolf’s works. I chose The London Scene, and again, I recommend it if you’re interested in London and beautiful writing.

The London Scene

From Goodreads:

Virginia Woolf was already an accomplished novelist and critic when she was commissioned by the British edition of Good Housekeeping to write a series entitled “Six Articles on London Life.” Originally published bimonthly, beginning in December 1931, five of the essays were eventually collected and published in 1981. The sixth essay, “Portrait of a Londoner,” had been missing from Woolf’s oeuvre until it was rediscovered at the University of Sussex in 2004.

A walking tour of Woolf’s beloved hometown, The London Scene begins at the London Docks and follows Woolf as she visits several iconic sites throughout the city, including the Oxford Street shopping strip, John Keats’s house on Hampstead Heath, Thomas Carlyle’s house in Chelsea, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament.

These six essential essays capture Woolf at her best, exploring modern consciousness through the prism of 1930s London while simultaneously painting an intimate, touching portrait of this sprawling metropolis and its fascinating inhabitants.

It’s a very short read (about 100 pages), yet incredibly powerful. Virginia Woolf managed to capture the essence of London in these essays, showing both what the city was like in the 1930s and what makes it utterly timeless. If you love London as I do, or if you dream of going there one day, then I strongly suggest you read The London Scene. You won’t regret it.

What have you been reading this week? Have you read any of Virginia Woolf’s books? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Waiting On Wednesday – 58

Hello gentle reader,

today I’m waiting on THE WICKED WILL RISE (Dorothy Must Die #2) by Danielle Paige (expected publication: 30th March 2015 by HarperCollins). It will be the second book in the trilogy, which is a retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I really enjoyed both DOROTHY MUST DIE and its prequel novella NO PLACE LIKE OZ, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next to these characters!

The Wicked Will Rise

From Goodreads (no spoilers if you haven’t read Book 1):

In this dark, high-octane sequel to the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to kill Dorothy and free Oz.

To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die….

But Dorothy still lives.

In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust—and who is really Wicked?

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.

Have you heard about this book? Is it on your TBR list? What are you waiting on this week?

A Writer in the Spotlight – Karina Sumner-Smith

A Writer In The Spotlight Logo

Hello gentle reader,

I’m delighted to share with you another interview with a YA author! This week it’s Karina Sumner-Smith, whose debut novel RADIANT comes out on 30th September 2014. It’s a YA Fantasy and the first book in the TOWERS trilogy.

A Writer in the Spotlight – 24

Karina Sumner-Smith

Author: Karina Sumner-Smith

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Website: http://karinasumnersmith.com/

Book: RADIANT (published 30th September 2014 by Talos/Skyhorse)

Biography:

Karina Sumner-Smith is a fantasy author and freelance writer.

Prior to focusing on novel-length work, Karina published a range of fantasy, science fiction and horror short stories, including Nebula Award nominated story “An End to All Things,” and ultra short story “When the Zombies Win,” which appeared in two Best of the Year anthologies.

Though she still thinks of Toronto as her home, Karina now lives in a small, lakefront community in rural Ontario, Canada, where she may be found lost in a book, dancing in the kitchen, or planning her next great adventure.

My interview (9th September 2014)

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was little, I wanted to be a scientist just like my dad. Science, I knew, had something to do with test tubes, which were awfully fun to play with in the sandbox. Scientists got to do interesting things in a lab, and wear these white coats, and use cool equipment for experiments. Science, I decided, was awesome.

I was thirteen when I decided that my future was in science fiction and fantasy instead. That was the year that I fell into that true writing “flow state” for the first time – and also realized that writing stories was an actual career path. (At the time, the rather low income that one can generally expect as a writer seemed like so much money.)

When and where do you write?

There was a time when I wrote best at night. I was one of those people who’d be up at all hours typing by the glow of the computer screen, always telling myself that I’d go to bed when I finish just this next little bit.

Now, it’s all over the place! These days I work as a freelance writer, so I’m at my computer in my home office for most of the day, and I try to fit fiction in wherever I can. Some days that means that I’m up and writing before I’ve had my breakfast; others I don’t have a chance to get started on my day’s words until quite late. For all that I am a creature of habit and routine, there’s definitely something to be said for flexibility when it comes to writing.

What do you say to writers who want to be traditionally published one day?

Focus on your craft. I think that we writers can get too caught up in things like what’s hot in the market, agent wishlists, blogging and social media, and all the rest. The writing should always be the most important. Trends will come and go, the market will change, but there will always be a demand for great writing.

I truly believe that once you reach a certain level of skill, it’s not a matter of if you’ll be published, but when. If not this project, then another.

So read books on writing, and figure out which methods work best for you. Read widely, both inside and outside your genre. Study the works of authors you love. Develop a critical eye. Critique others’ work, and really focus on seeing not just the piece’s flaws but what makes it shine. Try freewriting. Practice, practice, practice.

After that? Settle in and get ready for the long haul. Sometimes the road to getting published – and all the roads that follow, for that matter – can be pretty bumpy. Fasten your seat belt and just try to enjoy the ride.

radiant 2
To write RADIANT, where did you get your inspiration from?

Radiant actually started as a short story that I wrote for the DAW anthology, Children of Magic. I’d been struggling for an idea that would fit the anthology’s theme, tossing around the idea of a girl who could see ghosts, maybe something about a magical, post-apocalyptic society … it was all a jumbled mess. But when I sat down to write, bam, Xhea arrived, as whole and vivid to me as if I’d been writing about her for years. I suddenly could barely type fast enough to keep up with the story as it unfolded.

The short story was 6,000 words – and there was so much about the characters and their world that I still wanted to understand. Since I don’t outline, the only way for me to know what happened to Xhea or to Shai was to keep writing. In that way, I think it’s not inspiration that keeps me going so much as curiosity. My brain is always asking, “What happens next?”

Your book features two strong female protagonists, but no romance I believe. Why did you make these choices for your story?

I don’t really feel that having the story focus on a strong friendship rather than a romance was a choice, to be honest – at least not a conscious one. For me, any story grows naturally from the characters, their problems, and their world. I could probably write a few thousand words on why there isn’t a romantic plotline for either Xhea or Shai in this book, but the simplest explanation is that there just isn’t room, emotionally, for a romantic entanglement.

This is especially true for Xhea. When the story begins, she’s so very closed down, so defensive – which shows in countless little quirks designed to keep people away from her, to keep herself safe. She learned the hard way that she can only rely on herself. And then the ghost, Shai, changes everything. This story isn’t about Xhea falling in love; it’s about her learning, slowly and hesitantly and painfully, to trust one other person. Given where she starts, that’s a huge emotional transformation for her.

I will say, though, that while I can enjoy a great romantic plot or subplot in novels that I read, I don’t like the idea that every story has to include romance or romantic elements. Romantic love can be so powerful and transforming – but it’s only one part of the spectrum of human emotion, and one way that characters can connect.

What are you working on now? (Is it Book 2?)

Right now I’m working with my editor to revise Book 2, Defiant, and am gearing up to start writing Book 3, Towers Fall. (It’s going to be a busy fall for me, for sure!)

I actually have to admit, finishing this series is a little daunting. These characters and this world have been with me, in my head and in my heart, for so many years that it’s strange to think that I’ll soon reach “The End”. Exciting, too, of course. I already have a couple of new projects waiting for my attention that I think are going to be really fun and different.

What are you reading right now?

Truthfully, right now I’m reading dog training books. I’m bringing a new puppy home soon (in a week, as I write this!), and want to be ready for the fluffy addition to the household.

But I’m actually really excited about some of the things on my to-read pile right now. Fighting for my attention are Cast in Flame by Michelle Sagara, The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, Hidden by Benedict Jacka, and Broken Souls by Stephen Blackmoore. In YA, I’m really looking forward to reading Stefanie Gaither’s Falls the Shadow, which is supposed to be released later this month – but, of course, I’m impatient!

What are your favourite books? Any books you’d recommend?

I used to work part-time in a science fiction and fantasy bookstore – Bakka Phoenix Books in Toronto – so it’s really, really hard to recommend just one book. And I’d recommend different books for different people!

But let’s see … if you like fantasy or science fiction with a great romance, check out Archangel by Sharon Shinn or A Thousand Words for Stranger by Julie E. Czerneda. For dragons and adventure, you can’t go wrong with Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon. For sweeping, emotional, history-inspired fantasy, go straight to Guy Gavriel Kay. For great YA, I always point to Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia series that begins with The Thief, Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races, and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

But if I were dragged away to a desert island, the book I’d take with me is Sunshine by Robin McKinley. I’ll need to buy a new copy soon; carefully though I treat my books, my copy has been read so often that it’s falling apart.

Thanks for the interview, Karina!

You can read the first chapter of RADIANT and pre-order your copy here.

How to Write a Successful Twitter Pitch

NB: this was originally posted on There And Draft Again in July 2013, but I have tweaked it slightly to share with you again today.

Hello gentle reader,

#PitMad is tomorrow! Organised by Brenda Drake (@brendadrake), it’s a great opportunity to “pitch” agents and editors on Twitter, with a 140-character tweet presenting your manuscript. You may know my agent found me thanks to a Twitter Pitch Party like this, so I can only encourage you to participate if you have a completed manuscript ready to query.

However, I know summing up a 80k novel in 140 characters is very hard. So here is my recipe for a successful Twitter pitch. Ready?

1 – Inciting Incident

2 – Main Character

3 – Plot

4 – Stakes

If you can fit it in:

5 – Category and Genre (ie: YA F for Young Adult Fantasy)

6 – Voice

Here are two examples of the pitches I used during the last Twitter Pitch Party I participated in:

1862: When dark magic throws London into chaos, a 16yo flower girl must sleuth through Whitechapel to save her job & city YA F

A flower girl in Victorian London tries to save the city from dark magic. SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY meets THE INFERNAL DEVICES YA F

It’s best to have at least 3 different pitches and to vary them throughout the day. It’s also advised to tweet only one pitch per half hour. Make sure to always include the hashtag in your tweet.

If an agent or editor likes your pitch and wants to request it, they’ll favorite it. As a result, don’t favorite pitches you like: you’ll give false hope to a fellow writer! Instead, show your support by retweeting their pitch.

Best of luck if you’re taking part in #PitMad tomorrow!

I’ll be around most of the day to support you, so don’t hesitate to ask for help with your pitches if need be!

QUITE THE QUERY: EM Castellan and LILY IN THE SHADOWS

EM Castellan:

I’m sharing my successful query letter on Amy Trueblood’s blog today!

Originally posted on chasingthecrazies:

QuiteTheQuery

If you ask any writer about the process of connecting with their agent (or publisher), the majority will say the most difficult part was querying. Not only the actual process of sending out the letters/emails, but formulating the query itself. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few writers say that writing their query took them almost as long as drafting their book!

Some people have the talent of being able to summarize their book in a few sentences. But for those who don’t, I wanted to provide a resource so writers could learn what works, and what doesn’t, in a query.

With that in mind, I’m please to share today’s successful query from writer EM Castellan. This great query connected her with her agent, Erin Niumata of Folio Literary Management.

Between trying to make a living as a flower girl, dodging local gang leaders and hiding the fact that she is almost…

View original 412 more words

Waiting On Wednesday – 57

Hello gentle reader,

today I’m waiting on A WICKED THING by Rhiannon Thomas (expected publication: 24th February 2015 by HarperTeen). It’s a YA fairy tale retelling and a 2015 debut. From the blurb I think this has potential to be all kinds of awesome, so we shall see!

A Wicked Thing

From Goodreads:

Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.

Have you heard about this book? Is it on your TBR list? What are you waiting on this week?

The Great Noveling Adventure: Back and Better Than Ever

Hello gentle reader,

I’m thrilled to announce I’ve been invited by the ladies of The Great Noveling Adventure to join their group blog! It’s a blog about writing, publishing, and eveything book-related.

tgnahead

The blogging schedule will be as follows from 1st September 2014:

  • Media Mondays: a brand-new content feature to share downloads, printables, playlists, and more!
  • Travel Tuesdays: the ever-popular “Your Adventure” posts, link roundups, and guest posts.
  • Writing Wednesdays: Craft posts.
  • Things I’ve Read Thursdays: Book reviews!
  • Top Five Fridays: Lists of five favourite…whatever!

You can suscribe to the blog here and find us on Pinterest here. TGNA is also on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

And as if this wasn’t exciting enough, we’re having a HUGE giveaway to celebrate the relaunch of the blog!

Starting this Saturday and running until 7PM Sunday, we’ll be giving away prizes on our twitter account. Simply follow and retweet to win! These prizes include critiques, books, and more!

We also have several awesome prize packs that we’re giving away on the blog:

  • Two mystery book packages – Two lucky winners will each get a set of 3 books chosen by Serena, Kit, Isabelle, and Megan.
  • Character Sketch — one lucky winner will receive a character sketch from the super-talented Laura Hollingsworth, thanks to Alyssa.
  • Outlander Audiobook — one lucky winner will snag an audio copy of OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, courtesy of Lauren.
  • Ultimate Submission Package — one lucky winner will receive a Query Critique from Danielle Ellison, the author of SALT and FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS, and Senior Editor at Spencer Hill Press; a Pitch + Synopsis Critique (with up to three revisions!) from Sarah; and a 30-Page Critique from Valerie.

You have until 12AM (Midnight) EST Sunday to enter the rafflecopter giveaway on the blog! Don’t miss your chance!