Book of the Week – 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.


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 – 48

Hello gentle reader,

this week I’m waiting on A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by Victoria E. Schwab (expected publication: 24th February 2015 by Tor Books). It’s a Fantasy book which sounds utterly unique and quite amazing.

A Darker Shade final for Irene

From Goodreads:

From V.E. Schwab, the critically acclaimed author of Vicious, comes a new universe of daring adventure, thrilling power, and parallel Londons, beginning with A Darker Shade of Magic.

Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there’s Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London…but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, who first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.

“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 Month In Review – ROW80 Check-In 5 and Wrap-Up

Hello gentle reader,

you may have noticed my last ROW80 Check-In was… 6 weeks ago. I was supposed to check-in every week, but life got hectic in May and I chose to use the little free time I had to read and write instead of checking in. But now we’ve reached the end of this Round and it’s only fair that I let you know how I did.

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

My goal for this round was to read or write every day.

This round I read 8 novels, 1 novella and 2 non-fiction books for research. I also beta-read 2 manuscripts. My goal being to read one book per week this year, I’m on target here!

This round, I also added 14K to my Work In Progress. It’s not as high a word count as I wanted it to be, but considering that I’m editing my other manuscript at the same time, it’s a good number, I think.

What I’ve been reading

The City’s Son by Tom Pollock (YA Urban Fantasy)

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (YA Epic Fantasy)

Murder (Mayhem #2) by Sarah Pinborough (Historical Fantasy)

Debutantes by Cora Harrison (YA Historical)

Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii by Vicky Alvear Shecter (YA Historical)

Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi (YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian)

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi (YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian)

The Forever Song (Blood of Eden #3) by Julie Kagawa (YA Paranormal/Dystopian)

Born of Corruption: A Born of Illusion Novella by Teri Brown (YA Historical Fantasy)

What I’ve been watching

Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful

Places I’ve been

I went to London this week, and walked around Foyles’ new flagship bookstore.

It’s an amazing place, with a huge YA section.

EM Castellan - Foyles 1

EM Castellan - Foyles 3

I also went to Liberty on Regent Street, one of my favourite department stores in London.

I just love its Tudor revival building!

EM Castellan - Liberty

What’s next

In July I’ll be taking part in CampNaNoWriMo, another writing challenge. Feel free to join in!

How was your ROW80 Round? Make sure to share your writing progress and what inspired you in the comment section below! And here is the Linky to check out the other ROW80 posts.

My Week In Review – ROW80 Check-In 4

Hello gentle reader,

My apologies for the late check-in, but I’ve been busy… writing! I hope you all had a great week!

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

My goal for this round is to read or write every day.

This week I read every day and I added 5,300 words to my WIP. I call this a small success!

Book of the Week

Snow Like Ashes

I read my ARC of SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch (expected publication: 14th October 2014). It’s a YA High Fantasy and I really enjoyed it.

Picture of the Week


Since this was a bank holiday weekend in the UK, I went to London for a day. The weather was beautiful and I had a wonderful time, as usual in this city.

Links of the Week

I interviewed YA Author Michelle Krys and posted the pictures I took in Paris in April.

How was your week? Make sure to share your writing progress and what inspired you this week in the comment section below! And here is the Linky to check out the other ROW80 posts.


New Project Reveal – Part 1: The Setting

Hello gentle reader,

today I’m taking part in the Tursday’s Children meme hosted by Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez. It is “a weekly blog hop where writers come together to talk about whatever inspires them.”


I have decided to join this meme to share a little bit more about what I’ve been working on, a YA Historical Fantasy I have teasingly nicknamed Secret WIP. I have been getting a lot of questions about it, especially on Twitter, so I have come up with the idea of a “Project Reveal” in 4 parts, that will give you a taste of what Secret WIP is all about over the next few weeks.

Today’s theme is : SETTING.

My novel takes place in London, during the Victorian era. I am lucky enough to live near London, which means whenever I need to research a location, I can hop on a train, go to London and take pictures. All the pictures below are therefore mine…

EM Castellan - Whitechapel

Whitechapel, London

My main character moves about London a lot, and she can be found in the morning in East London, at noon at Covent Garden and in the evening at St James’s. Above and below are pictures of the Whitechapel district, made famous by Jack The Ripper at the end of the 19th Century.

EM Castellan - Spiltafields Market

Spitalfields Market

EM Castellan - Fournier St

Fournier Street (with the Ten Bells Pub and Christ Church)

Then if we travel west we arrive at St Paul’s Cathedral…

EM Castellan - St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral

Then we reach West London, wealthier and more grand…

EM Castellan - St James's Square

St James’s Square

EM Castellan- Russell Hotel

Russell Square

So this is where my new project takes place! I hope this gives you a taste of what’s to come in my Secret WIP…

What is the setting of your Work In Progress? Do you find inspiration in the places you visit or where you live? Feel free to leave me a comment below, and to visit the other Thursday’s Children posts here.

My Week In Review – ROW80 Check-In 6

Hello gentle reader,

It is time for another weekly check-in! I hope you had a great and productive week. Mine was… crazy.

Quote of the Week

“I think I’ll try defying gravity.”

Wicked, The Musical by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman

Trying to get traditionally published sometimes feels like trying to defy gravity. This week I received one too many rejections and was tempted to throw my flying broom in the fire. But then I didn’t, partly thanks to the support of Jessica Montgomery, Rhiann Wynn-Nolet, Kate Michael, Rachel O’Laughlin, Juliana Haygert and Rachel Horwitz. These ladies are awesome and I’m so grateful I have them…

Picture of the Week

EM Castellan- Russell Hotel

Hotel Russell, Russell Square, London

I went to London this week, and I stayed at a beautiful Victorian hotel. That was quite fitting, since I’m working on a novel set in Victorian London…

Word Count of the Week

This week I had some time off work and I added 9000 words to my Work In Progress, which means it is now at 18,000 words. I’m very pleased with that.

TV Show of the Week


Downton Abbey (ITV)

Slowly but surely, I am catching up on the latest seasons of this awesome show…

Film of the Week

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies

I went to see it last Friday and I loved it! Such a fun, adorable and thought-provoking movie.

Good News of the Week

This week, Rachel O’Laughlin decided to self-publish her Epic Fantasy and wrote an excellent post about it.

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

My goal for this round is to write every day. This week again I managed to write

4 days out of 7.

Links of the Week

On my blog I posted about movies that taught me something about writing, and I added pictures of handsome actors. It was Valentine’s Day after all this week.

On There And Draft Again this week, Mara shared some World Building Resources and I gave advice on how to write a 200-word pitch for a Fantasy novel.

On her blog, Emily Wenstrom interviewed the awesome YA writer Aimee L. Salter about her creative process. Worth a read!

Literary agent Carly Watters posted about When to revise your manuscript and when to keep submitting It was exactly the post I needed to read this week.

And YA author Maggie Stiefvater revealed the cover of the sequel to The Raven Boys here.

Next week

Next week on my blog I shall take part in the Thursday Children meme for the first time. It’s “a weekly blog hop where writers come together to talk about whatever inspires them.” I’m very excited about it…

How was your week? Make sure to share your writing progress and what inspired you this week in the comment section below!

My Week In Review – ROW80 Check-In 5

Hello gentle reader,

It is already time for a weekly check-in. I hope you had a great week (despite the snowstorm for those of you who are on the US East coast!). Mine was busy and productive…

Quote of the Week

“Despite herself Winnie was looking at life as if for her book. She was double-living through a day with genuine concerns because the needs of her fictions were as strong as those of her life, or stronger.”

Lost by Gregory Maguire.

That pretty much sounds like me at work this week…

Picture of the Week

M.LIN London 1849

London – A Clock (by my friend M.LIN)

I’m still working on my YA Historical Fantasy, which means I’m still obsessed with Victorian London…

Word Count of the Week

This week I added 5000 words to my Work In Progress, which means it should now be at 11,000 words. However since I deleted 2000 words (I realised one character could be taken out of the story without harming the plotline) it is now at 9000 words.

TV Show of the Week

Ripper Street

Ripper Street (BBC)

This mini-series is set in Whitechapel (London’s East End) in 1889, six months after the Jack the Ripper murders. I find it highly enjoyable, and I can pretend it’s research… 🙂

Good News of the Week

This week, both Brianna Shrum and Emmie Mears got an agent!

Reading their post recounting “how they did it” is quite inspirational, I recommend it.

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

My goal for this round is to write every day. This week again I managed to write

4 days out of 7.

Music of the Week


Finding a relevant music to my Secret WIP has proven hard.

This week I have listened to the soundtrack of Snow White and the Huntsman (by James Newton Howard) quite a lot, and I like it.

Links of the Week

On my blog I made a list of 5 books I think should be movies. Stop by and let me know which book you’d like to see turned into a movie.

On There And Draft Again this week, Jessy tackled The Creation of a New World: Believability and Raewyn discussed The Role of the Epic Fantasy in a Byte-Sized Future.

On her blog, Authoress Anon wrote a beautiful post about writing the story you want: The Story Inside You. Read it.

If you need motivation to write every day, Twitter sprints are a good way to get writing along other writers. I especially like Lauren Garafalo’s #ROW80 sprints (twice a day) and Susan Dennard’s  #BAMFWordBattle (all day long when she is on a deadline!)

And finally, because your week wouldn’t be complete without this picture:

Wedding dress and bouquet made entirely from the pages of The Princess Bride

Next week

Next week on my blog I shall be discussing how having a crush on an actor can make your book better. The post will thus include pictures of handome actors. Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day on Tursday after all…

How was your week? Make sure to share your writing progress and what inspired you this week in the comment section below!