Gratitude Giveaway (aka 200 followers giveaway) (closed)


The winner will be contacted by email

Hello gentle reader,

so my blog has almost reached 200 followers and I have decided to take part in to the 3rd Annual Gratitude Giveaways Blog Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer to thank all of you for  you support during the past few months.

The giveaway runs from today until Sunday 25th November, 2012. The giveaway is open Internationally. Since this giveaway is to thank my followers, you have to follow my blog via email or WordPress to enter.

I am giving away two books to one winner:

– a copy of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (YA High Fantasy, UK paperback)

– a signed (!) copy of Wilde’s Army (Darkness Falls: Book 2) by Krystal Wade (YA Paranormal romance, US paperback)

Giveaway information:

The giveaway is open until Sunday 25th November, 2012 at midnight (BST time).

To enter please fill in the contact form below with your name and email, and let me know if you follow via email or WordPress.

You HAVE TO follow my blog by email or WordPress to enter.

Entrants must be at least 13 years of age.

This giveaway is open Internationally.

The winner will be chosen randomly, notified by email and will have 72 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

I am not responsible for items lost in the mail.

I hold the right to end the giveaway before its original deadline without any prior notice.

I hold the right to disqualify any entry as I see fit.

Privacy information: no information given for this giveaway will be used for other purpose than this giveaway. All information provided (names, emails and mail addresses) will be deleted after the giveaway.

Good luck and feel free to leave me a comment below…

Word count : is your Fantasy novel too long ?

Hello gentle reader,

It’s Thursday! Let’s talk about writing, shall we?

As you may know, I am currently revising my WIP The Last Queen, and I have been struggling with a high word count. I wrote the first draft of this YA Epic Fantasy novel without really thinking of its length (I just wrote the story I wanted), and now I have to cut down some words if I don’t want to make agents cringe when they read my query letter.

This week I have also helped the lovely Mara Valderran with her own query letter. She is currently querying her Epic Fantasy novel HEIRS OF WAR with a word count at 137k. And here is what she says about her word count: “My word count is really high for a new author. You know this, I know this, and I’ve done my damndest to cut it (I shaved 12k off in the past two weeks! Yay!). Is it a roadblock for me? Sure. But it’s one I am painfully aware of.”

So it seems that I’m far from being the only Epic Fantasy writer struggling with a high word count.

As writers, our first reaction is often to say: but there are lots of Fantasy novels out there with huge word counts and they still sell! And some are even first novels! (see Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, at about 240k words)

Yes, people do buy books with high word counts. I’m one of those readers who are not afraid to read a super long book. However, these books are either AMAZING like The Historian, or they are, well, too long. G.R.R. Martin can publish A Storm of Swords at 424k words because he is an established and bestselling author, but I still think this novel was way too long and should have been edited down. The same goes for The Passage by Justin Cronin: 300k words and half the book could have been cut out without hurting the story.

So if you write Fantasy and you’re trying to get agented or published, nothing stops you from querying a 150k + words manuscript.

YA Epic Fantasy author Sarah J. Maas did just that with her 240k-word novel Throne of Glass back in 2008 (read the story here). And guess what? She got rejected. She did eventually get an agent with her manuscript at 145k words. And guess what? She got rejected by editors. Throne of Glass was finally published in August 2012, with a final word count of… a little over 100K words.

The moral of this story? Listen to the advice of professionals. Whatever the genre of your novel, research the word count expected by agents and editors. And follow their guidelines, even if it costs you. Editing your Masterpiece is part of the writing process. So is getting rid of unnessary plot points and extra words. Do it. It might save you time, and the pain of being rejected.

Freelance editor Cassandra Marshall gives these guidelines for Fantasy books word counts:

YA fantasy:  70-90k words

Adult Fantasy – 80,000-120,000 words (most averaging 100k-115k but editors would prefer to see them below 100k)

YA epic/high/traditional/historical fantasy = 90k to 120k

Finally, if you’re curious about the word count of popular Epic Fantasy novels, you can check them out here.

So what do you think? Are you struggling with a high word count? Do you think agents and editors should be more flexible debut authors and their word counts? As a reader, do you enjoy reading long books? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!

ROW80 Check-In 6 : Sarah J. Maas’ success story

Hello gentle reader,

Today I want to share with you the writing journey of Sarah J. Maas. She is 26 years old and a YA Fantasy author. Her debut novel, THRONE OF GLASS, was released last Tuesday by Bloomsbury. Already her novel has received hundreds of five-star reviews on Goodreads, it has been quoted in the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal published a whole article about it.

So I haven’t read Sarah’s book yet, and I won’t go into details about it here. The reason I mention Sarah and her book is that she started writing Throne of Glass TEN YEARS AGO. It took her ten years to write and rewrite her book, to find an agent, to sell the book and have it published. TEN. YEARS.

On Tuesday she published a guest post on The Story Siren’s book blog explaining her ten-year journey. It’s a great read, so I have included it below.

Revision, Revision, Revision.
by Sarah J. Maas

“Getting to August 7th has been a journey over ten years in the making. I began writing THRONE OF GLASS back in March of 2002. I was sixteen years old, had a vague idea of where I wanted the story to go, and absolutely no clue how much this book would wind up shaping and changing my life.

My FictionPress origins have been discussed a fair amount in various places around the internet, so I’ll just give you the quick and dirty account of those first six years. A month into writing TOG (then titled QUEEN OF GLASS), I decided to throw up the first few chapters on FictionPress. I got such an enthusiastic response that I kept writing—and kept sharing. And in the six years that the story was on the site (the very, very rough drafts of the first three books of the series wound up being shared), it became the most-reviewed story on FictionPress. It was my FP readers that encouraged me to get published. And one day in Fall of 2008 (a few weeks after the final chapter of QOG/TOG had been posted), their support gave me the courage to remove TOG from FP in order to pursue publication.

By that time, I’d already started a secret, massive overhaul of the series, word for word, scene for scene, adding in new plotlines, expanding the world… In the six years since starting the series, I’d graduated from high school and college, and learned a hell of a lot about writing and books and storytelling. Of course, none of that taught me anything about the realities of publishing. Like…what the average book length should be.

So, it’s with a bit of horror and shame that I admit I sent out three very preliminary queries…

With a 240k-word manuscript (for Book 1).

I got the three rejections that I deserved.

It wasn’t until the amazing Mandy Hubbard (YA author and agent…and an FP fan of mine) offered to read the ms and give feedback that I understood was NEVER going to get an agent with a 240k-word fantasy novel. And it was Mandy who found places for me to cut and trim and condense…until we had a 150k-word manuscript. A few months and some more revisions later, (in December 2008), I sent out a round of queries…and landed my amazing agent from that batch.

We actually spent several months revising the manuscript—paring it down even more (I think it was around 140-145k words by the time we went on submission). My agent went on maternity leave for several months after that, and we did one FINAL round of revision when she came back.

Then, in summer 2009, we went on submission to editors. I know the internet is full of overnight YA mega-deal stories, but mine was not one of them. It took until December of 2009 for us to hear that an editor at Bloomsbury was VERY interested.



They wanted Book 1 to be more self-contained (it originally had a very open and unresolved ending). And they WERE super-interested…but only if I could present a detailed outline for the mega-revision I’d do if they offered.

So, after brainstorming with my agent, we came up with a solution: I’d split Book 1 in half. Not chronologically, but rather just PULL one of the major plotlines (there were two) and set it aside to make a brand-new Book 2 (thus pushing back other books in the series). And then I’d completely revamp the remaining plotline to contain a new, resolved ending.

What’s somewhat ironic is that in my initial rewrite of TOG (back before I began querying, and before Mandy even came along), I’d removed one of the original elements of Book 1, which was this competition to find the new personal assassin for the King. BUT, when it came time to come up with this outline for Bloomsbury, that competition was the FIRST thing I thought of—so I wound up bringing that plot back into the story.

So, we submitted that proposed outline. And waited.

And waited. And waited. And in March of 2010, we got our offer, based on that outline.

Once the celebrating had worn off, I realized that I now actually had to rewrite Book 1 from the ground up. It took me several months, but I eventually turned it in. Only to get an edit letter six months later (…yep.) that involved HEAVY amounts of revision. Nearly another rewrite. But I got through it (we’re into 2011 now), and I got through her second, super-intense revision letter, and then her smaller, surface-level third letter, and then…we were done (in late summer 2011). Of course, then there were copyedits and first pass pages and all of that fun stuff afterward, but by comparison, that stuff felt like a walk in the park.

As I’ve been writing all of this out, I’ve been realizing that this looks sort of bad. THAT many rewrites and revisions? You’re probably thinking that this was the most broken and un-publishable book of all time (…I certainly like to think that is NOT the case.). But honestly? It was hell. It was exhausting, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

But each of those revisions and rewrites brought me closer to my true vision for the book, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. Each edit letter gave me the opportunity to make the story better, to spend MORE time figuring out the world and the characters and the plot. It allowed me to learn SO much as a writer—but also as a person. I learned about my own strength—about just how far I was willing to go to make this book a reality. I learned that I CAN do anything I set my mind to, and that it might take years, but it is worth it.

And I wouldn’t change a single moment of it. Not a single one.

So when I walk into a bookstore today and see that book on a shelf, I’m not just seeing my book, and the story that is in my very soul. I’m also seeing over ten years of work—I’m seeing PROOF that “impossible” is nothing but a word. I’m seeing my dream, at long last, become a reality.”

So this is Sarah’s story. I hope it can give hope to all of you, fellow ROWers and would-be-published writers out there.

Now on to my ROW80 goals:

I’m still off work, which means that my daily schedule changes from one day to another. I haven’t been writing as regularly as I want to, but

1-       Write everyday: 3/7 days.

2-       Self-edit The Last Queen: a little bit done this week.

3-       Continue writing the first draft of The Cursed King: not done this week.

Here is the Linky for the other check-in posts. How are you other ROW80 writers doing?

Waiting On Wednesday – 11

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

This week I’m waiting for Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (expected publication: August 7th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s). This is a YA High Fantasy novel and a 2012 debut.

From Goodreads:

“After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.”

Does this sound great or what?

What are you waiting on this week?