The Book Deal Announcement

Hello gentle reader,

I began seeking traditional publication for my YA Historical Fantasy books in March 2012. I started this blog at the same time, never imagining how long (!) and how full of surprises my publishing journey would be.

Six and a half years later, I’m thrilled to announce that the U.S. publisher Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan) has bought my debut IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN and its sequel! Here is the Publishers Marketplace announcement:


IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN is my 7th completed manuscript. It’s the 6th manuscript I queried and the one that helped me connect with my literary agent Carrie Pestritto (Laura Dail Literary Agency). If you’re curious about my inspiration for this story, here is its Pinterest board.

If you’re reading this and you’re a writer dreaming of seeing your books in bookstores one day, I hope you’ll take heart in this post: getting traditionally published takes perseverance, a lot of work, and a bit of luck, but it can become a reality if you don’t give up, and if you keep writing the stories you love.

Have a lovely Sunday!


Getting published: finding your own path and going at your own pace

Hello gentle reader,

In 2010, I wrote a Sci-Fi novel and I sent it to my former English teacher with a question: “Is this good enough to be published?” Incredibly – given the poor quality of my Masterpiece – she didn’t say “NO WAY”. Instead she told me: “If you work hard and you really want this, I don’t see why not.”

So I embarked on my very own publishing journey, full of hopes and dreams. I chose the traditional route, because it was what felt like the best way for me and my stories. It still feels that way, actually.


Soon enough, I found other writers on the same path: people writing a manuscript, or people with a manuscript looking for an agent. I read their blog, followed them on Twitter, made a lot of writerly friends with whom I could share the aforementioned hopes and dreams.

I wrote another novel (a YA High Fantasy), found beta readers and Critique Partners, and after a year I queried it.

It turned out finding an agent who loved my manuscript was even harder than predicted.

At the end of 2012, I made the decision to shelve my YA High Fantasy and to start working on another story.

I began writing a YA Victorian Fantasy.

In the meantime, I started noticing the writing community around me had changed.

Some simply quit and disappeared, sometimes with one last blog post explaining their decision, sometimes without a whisper.

Some got an agent and later on a publishing deal, leaving the shore of unpublished writers for the land of authors.

Others got a publishing deal with a small press or an independent publisher, and saw their book come out within 9 months or a year.

And a staggering, STAGGERING number decided to self-publish.

Now, I’m not criticising the last two publishing paths in the slightest. I just know one thing: those publishing options aren’t for me. Self-publishing is way more work than I can handle, and dealing with a publisher (whatever its size) means I need an agent to tell me what (not) to do.

Three years on, and I now find myself rather lonely on my publishing road.

Out of all the writers I met online or in person in the past 3 years, many, many of them now have a book out or a soon-to-be-published book.

And I’m still walking on the path, with my manuscript in hand and my hopes and dreams with me, forever convinced I will find the right agent and traditional publisher in the end.

And it struck me the other day that maybe I’m not as alone as I think in this situation.

When you spend a lot of time around the writing community, it sometimes feels like EVERYONE you know now has an agent and/or a book out.

But it’s not true. We just hear more about those who have exciting news than about those who are STILL looking for an agent after three years.

So if you’re one of those lonely writers without news for the world, remember this:

–          Going at your own pace is fine. What matters is getting where you want.

–          Don’t give up on your traditional publishing dream because it’s slow to come true.

–          Don’t give up, period.

–          Write the best book you can, and do your best, always. Someone will notice in the end.

–          Enjoy the journey without worrying about what others accomplish. One day, you will accomplish those things too.

And never stop writing.

The Writer, the Writing Community and Dean Winchester

Hello gentle reader,


this week again I’m taking part in the Thursday’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.”

Today’s post is a bit personal. I very seldom indulge in sharing my personal feelings on this blog, but my hope is that other writers will recognize themselves in what I describe below, and maybe find their motivation renewed by the knowledge they’re not alone in this.

So I haven’t had the best week. Lots of rejections and disappointments.

–          One of my short stories I was hoping to publish in an anthology was rejected

–          A query for my YA Epic Fantasy (which I have stopped querying since December) was rejected this week by an agent

–          I’ve started to get feedback on my WIP Lily In The Shadows and some beta readers are, well, less enthusiastic than others.

–          And no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to be able to write a catchy query for Lily In The Shadows

So yeah.

Now, I always try to stay positive. I know this publishing thing doesn’t happen overnight. I’m aware the key here is to keep reading, keep writing, keep submitting, and never give up. I don’t rant on Twitter or Facebook at the first disappointment.

But still. What a week. So I wrote an email to my CP Jessy Montgomery, who is amazing and who always knows what to say.

I was like this:

She was like this:

Supernatural - CastielAnd then like this:

Supernatural - Hug

Then I got on Twitter and this happened:

EM Castellan-Tweet1EM Castellan-Tweet2

And then I realised something. I’ve had a lot of rejections and disappointments this week. But I’ve also helped Jessy with her query. I’ve helped Allie with her WIP. I’ve helped Rachel with her street team building. I’ve helped Kate with her Twitter issues. I’ve had awesome online conversations with Lauren, Juliana, Laura, Joanna, Em, Lena, Rebekah, Emmie and Serena.

I’m part of the writing community. And I believe in paying it forward.

This week wasn’t about me and my writing. It was about everybody else’s writing and success.

Next time it might be my turn. Next time it might be yours.

But for now I have all of you and I’m so incredibly grateful for that.

Thank you.

Have a great writing week!

New Project Reveal – Part 6: Why did I write this book?

Hello gentle reader,

this week again I’m taking part in the Thursday’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.”


In these posts, I share a little bit more about what I’ve been working on, a YA Historical Fantasy entitled LILY IN THE SHADOWS.

LILY is currently in the hands of its first beta readers, and this week I’ve asked myself “why did I write this book?” “What was the writing motivation behind it?”

Then I came across the answer in an anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy short stories I have been reading…

Queen Victoria's Book of Spells

“The enthusiasm for Steampunk has produced some marvellous, incisive writing, and some gorgeous pieces of art. But it has also glamorized the Victorian era and too often ignored the exploitation and immiseration of the working class of England as well as the inhabitants of the lands England sought to rule. The fiery, corseted heroines, the eccentric but brilliant inventors, the rakish and charming younger sons — the wealth and comfort of these few depended on the suffering of many, many people. Even the wealthy of the 19th Century suffered, of course, in an era prior to antibiotics and most of the vaccinations we take for granted today. (…) It’s easy to forget how the people who indulged in afternoon tea rituals, admired clockwork-powered inventions, and wore shapely and beautiful corsets and bustles profited from the death and suffering of others every time they lit a candle. (…) And it’s easy to wonder how those people, who considered themselves so civilized, could have accepted the price others paid for their comfort and wealth.”

Veronica Schanoes, “Phosphorus” in Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

This is EXACTLY why I wrote Lily In The Shadows. I wanted to write the story of an obscure flower girl, with no special power or talent, who tries to save the city of London from chaos and destruction. Lily lives in East London, she is partly deaf and she has no hope of ever marrying a king and becoming a princess in a fairy tale. But to me, it doesn’t mean her story shouldn’t be told. Every girl has a story to tell, even in the shadows.

So what made you want to write your Work In Progress? What inspired you this week? 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,

This post is one day late and I apologise for this. You’ll see below I had a very busy week. I hope your week was as productive and good as mine!

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

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

5/7 days

Word Count of the Week

This week I wrote 9000 words and finished my Work In Progress. It needs some fine-tuning now, but I’m quite pleased I managed to write a whole book in 5 months.

Movie of the Week

Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3

I finally managed to see Iron Man 3 and I really enjoyed it! Some impressive action scenes, great humor, well-developed characters… all in all a very entertaining film.

Good News of the Week

I received the Versatile Blogger Award no less than 5 times this week (!). I’ll write a post about it this week. Thanks to all the bloggers who thought of me for this award!

I hope you all had a wonderful week too! Feel free to leave me a comment below and to visit the other ROWers here.

My Week In Review – ROW80 Check-In 5

Hello gentle reader,

It is already time for the fifth check-in of this round! I hope you had a good and productive week…

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

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

4/7 days

Word Count of the Week

I’m currently trying to keep the Camp NaNoWriMo momentum and this week I added 7000 words to my Work In Progress. I’m very pleased with this, especially since I edit as I go. This word count means I’m *nearly* done with this novel…

TV Show of the Week


This week’s episode of Doctor Who was set in Victorian England! It started off as a Gaslamp Fantasy, which I was thrilled about, but ended up being a sci-fi episode. I had a great time watching it nonetheless!

Links of the Week

This week I wrote a guest post on Aimee L. Salter’s blog about Writing Rules.

On my blog, I discussed How To Make The Most of a Novel Writing Month When You Don’t Have Time For It.

There And Draft Again now has over 100 followers and this week, Mara posted about Creating Fantasy Creatures and Rachel shared her Top Ten Fantasy Movies.

Meanwhile, The Write Stuff for Boston Auction is still in full swing and I suggest you check what’s being auctioned every day. Whether you’re a reader or a writer, there’s something for you there!

Finally, in case you missed it and if you need to smile… here is a Channing Friday post. I promise you it’s awesome.

Next Week

Next week I shall finish Lily In The Shadows. There’s no going back, now.

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

Making the most of a Novel Writing Month

Hello gentle reader,

Two days ago Camp NaNoWriMo ended and I didn’t “win” it.


The idea behind such a writing challenge (whether it is the original NaNoWriMo in November, JuNoWriMo in June or Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July) is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. All you have to do as a writer is sit down and write 1667 words a day for 30 days and you end up with a complete first draft on the last day of the challenge, which makes you a challenge “winner”.

That’s in theory, at least.

As you may know from following this blog or my Twitter feed, I am not a full-time writer. I have a Crazy Day Job which keeps me busy for at least 60 hours a week. I have to sleep, eat and show my face outside every day. I can’t just hide in my writing cave for a month, even if I really want to. So a challenge like Camp NaNoWriMo doesn’t sound like something I should have even tried to do, since it was clear from the start winning was going to be hard, if not impossible.

But I still made the most of Camp NaNoWriMo in April. Here are my tips to make the most of a Novel Writing Month challenge when you don’t have time for a Novel Writing Month challenge…

1) Be prepared.

Before you dive in the writing challenge, know what you are going to write. Have a rough outline for your plot, some ideas for your characters and your themes. This will help you not getting “stuck”.

2) Set yourself a goal.

1667 words every day is too much for me, I know that. I write slowly (700 words in 60 minutes at best) and I never have more than two hours a day to write. So during Camp NaNoWriMo, I decided to write 500 words a day.

3) Play with the rules.

Writing a first draft implies “not looking back”, even “word vomiting”. Write now, edit later. I can’t do that. Because I have so little time to write, I need to know what I’m writing isn’t going to end up deleted when I read it again at the end of the month. So I edit as I go.

4) Take part in writing sprints on Twitter.

A Novel Writing Month is about community. As writers, we can feel pretty lonely sometimes. A writing challenge is a great way to find other writers online, people who are also trying to write a novel in a month. Motivation and perseverance stems from talking to them, and sharing our experience.

5) Whatever your wordcount in the end, it is a success, because YOU WROTE WORDS. I wrote 23,000 words in April. That’s a third of a novel, guys. And I’m happy with that.

Have you ever taken part in a Novel Writing Month? How did it go for you? What advice would you give to new participants? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

My Week In Review – ROW80 Check-In 3

Hello gentle reader,

It is time for the third check-in of this round! I hope you had a good and productive week…

Quote of the Week

“All the elements in your body were forged many many millions of years ago in the heart of a faraway star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went. The elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings.

Until, eventually, they came together to make you.

You are unique in the universe.”

The Doctor in Doctor Who, “The Rings of Akhaten”

Picture of the Week

EM Castellan April 2013

Daffodils in the park… it’s springtime!

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

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

2/7 days

Word Count of the Week

Camp NaNoWriMo 2013

I added 3000 words to my Work In Progress. Well below my goal, but still better than nothing…

TV Show of the Week

The Borgias

The Borgias (Showtime)

The Borgias are back! I LOVE this show. Can’t wait to find out what they are up to this season.

Good news of the Week

This week my wonderful Critique Partner Jessica Montgomery has launched her Editorial Services! Need  help with your query, your synopsis, your manuscript? She’s your girl!

Links of the Week

This week on my blog I’m holding a giveaway to celebrate my 400th Blog Follower! You can still enter here and win a signed copy of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

Since it was also a week full of sad events around the world, I blogged about Kew Gardens, one of the most beautiful and peaceful man-made places on earth.

Elsewhere, you can watch Thirty Seconds To Mars new music video, Up In The Air. You know how much I love them.

And the Undiscovered Voices competition (for UK and EU Children’s Unpublished Writers) is coming up soon, so check out the website for information.

Next Week

Only ten days left of Camp NaNoWriMo… how is it going for you? Will you meet your goals?

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

SCBWI Europolitan Conference Recap (Paris, March 2013)

Hello gentle reader,

this week again 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.”


Today I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned at the SCBWI Europolitan Conference I attended last week in Paris. In case you don’t know, SCBWI is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. As its name implies, it is an awesome way to network with other writers.

The Paris conference had an amazing faculty, with YA authors Amy Plum, Sara Grant and Lenore Appelhans, agents Jennifer Laughran and Jenny Savill, and editors Heather Alexander (US Penguin) and Elizabeth Law (ex-Egmont USA), among others.

EM Castellan - SCBWI Euro Con

Spending two days with these awesome people, you can understand I came home with a notebook FULL of writerly advice. Here are a few things I thought I could share in a few bullet points…

  • Betsy Bird, the NYPL’s Youth Materials Specialist and blogger for School Library Journal, once said “Most publishers look for books that have either windows or mirrors.” It means a novel needs to open onto new worlds or to reflect the reader’s life.
  • If you’re writing YA fiction, personal marketing is essential. Social networking with your readers is what will sell your books to teenagers, not a marketing plan devised by your publisher. (Amy Plum)
  • Networking with other writers before publication is a great way to have support and to avoid stress. (Amy Plum)
  • Forget about trends. Write a book as original as possible within its genre. The book will be published in 18 months at the earliest, who knows what the trend will be by then?
  • Voice is what matters. (Jenny Savill)
  • Do things in your own time. Don’t rush. Write a great book. Learn, Write, Revise. (It took Sara Grant 17 years to get published. Now she is a best-selling author).
  • When revising, start with macro-revising (revising the story, the plot, the characters) then micro-editing (word doctoring). (Sara Grant)
  • Before you query or self-publish your book, make sure you know: the book’s most appealing quality, who will read it and why, what the gist of the story is, what makes it stand out from similar books on the market. (Heather Alexander)
  • A query or a blurb should answer the questions: Who, What, Where, Why do I care? (Jennifer Laughran)

I could go on, but we’d be here all day… 😉 Needless to say I returned from the conference really inspired and ready to write ALL THE THINGS.

Have you ever attended a writers’ conference? Did you find it helpful and inspiring? Feel free to leave me a comment below, and to visit the other Thursday’s Children posts here.

Goals for ROW80 Round 2 & Camp NaNoWriMo

Hello gentle reader,

ROW80 Logo

Monday 1st April 2013 (that’s today!) is the official start date for Round 2 of A Round of Words in 80 Days (aka ROW80). I have decided to join this writing challenge for the fifth time. Created by Kait Nolan, ROW80 is “the writing challenge that knows you have a life”, or “the challenge that champions the marriage of writing and real life.” Each ROW80 round runs for 80 days and the participating writers have to set themselves writing goals for that time. The idea is to form writing habits that writers will hopefully continue once the challenge is over.

As you may know if you follow this blog, my daily life is pretty crazy. I have a day job that keeps me extremely busy, I travel a lot and I read tons of books. Fitting some writing time in my schedule is a challenge, but I’m still very intent on getting published one day. So here is my goal for this round (and yes, it is the same as the last round’s…) :

Write or edit every day

This Second Round starts today and will end on Monday 17th June.

If you would like to join in this writing challenge and become a part of the ROW80 community, here are the rules:

  1. Post a goals post in which you lay out your goals for this round.
  2. Post a check-in post every Wednesday and/or Sunday, in which you share your progress with the other ROW80 participants.
  3. Comment on other participants’ check-in posts.

Here is the Linky for the other participants’ posts. If you decide to join in the ROW80 fun, you may want to take part in our Twitter sprints as well, hosted by the ever awesome Lauren Garafalo under the #ROW80 hashtag.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2013

But this Spring, I have a novel to finish, and I’ve decided (prompted by Lauren!) that ROW80 won’t be enough of a writing challenge to get me where I need to be by June. So I have also decided to take part in Camp NaNoWriMoBased on November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Camp NaNoWriMo “provides the online support, tracking tools, and hard deadline to help writers write a novel in a month… other than November!” Thus my goal is to finish writing LILY IN THE SHADOWS by 30th April. We’ll see if that happens…

What are your ROW80 goals for this round? Are you joining Camp NaNoWriMo? Let me know your writing plans in the comments below!