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And the Undiscovered Voices competition (for UK and EU Children’s Unpublished Writers) is coming up soon, so check out the website for information.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

thurschilbadgejpg

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!

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

DowntonAbbey

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

snow-white-and-the-huntsman

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!

ROW80 Check-In 1- Writing a first novel by Marie Lu

ROW80 Logo

Hello gentle reader,

It is time for my first ROW80 check-in of this round. As a reminder, my goal for this round is simply to Write or edit every day.

I don’t know about you, but this week went by really quickly to me. I started my new position at my day job and it was quite time-consuming. In my spare time I wrote a couple of blog posts, went to see Les Miserables at the theatre and rewrote my query letter. But I didn’t find the time to work on my novels, which I intend to do this week. Finally my blog received the Lovely Blog Award and you can read all about it here.

Now if you’re new to this blog, know that each Sunday, I share an inspiring story with you to keep us motivated for the week to come. This week I’m sharing YA author Marie Lu‘s tale of her Very First Novel. She published this post on Publishing Crawl in November 2012 and I thought you might find it interesting… Enjoy!

Marie Lu-Legend

“I’m talking about my very, very, very first novel. You only have one first novel–not your first published novel, but the first one that you are able to write “The End” on. I know that for the most part (unless you are Stephenie Meyer!), first novels don’t end up going anywhere except for the back of your closet or the Archives folder on some old hard drive. And for the most part, this is a good thing. But I’ve always felt a certain rosy fondness for first novels–not just for my own, but for others’. It’s usually that first novel, however bad (or good), that teaches us that we want to become writers. It’s the one that makes us realize that we can do it. The dream is possible, at least according to our word count.

 Here’s the story behind my first. […]

That first novel was a high fantasy titled The Wings of Heaven. I’m still not sure why I called it that, since it had nothing to do with the story. It was about a young, orphaned (of course) knight’s apprentice named Pher (pronounced “Fair”) Artemsrough who aspired to become a knight and who loved the kingdom’s red-haired princess. One day, a beautiful woman came to the kingdom and told him that he was the Chosen One, and that she was on a quest to bring him to the far reaches of the world so that they could find a shiny ancient object that would tell her what his role in a prophecy was. I can’t even remember who the bad guys were in this story, but there were definitely some bad guys. I think. Along the way, the beautiful woman and Pher picked up a ragtag team of elves, thieves, and assassins that all happily joined them on this quest. There were also some children that could breathe fire, some powerful sorceresses, and a snowy cave called The Dark of Night.

It was 160,000 words. Yeah, I know.

Of course, fifteen year old Marie was completely oblivious to all of this thing’s flaws. I worked on it obsessively. Every night, I’d set my alarm clock for 2 AM, wake up, stuff a bathrobe under my door so that my parents wouldn’t see lamplight leaking from the bottom of the door, and then write quietly until the hour right before dawn. I wrote notes in my schoolwork and drew pictures of my characters on the margins of my homework. I posted chapters of it onto a personal site that I shared with my closest childhood friend. I spent a great deal of time lost in the whimsical haze of First Book Euphoria. I promised myself that I would finish it. I will never forget typing “The End” on that manuscript–I leaned back in my bedroom chair at 3:30 AM, stretched my arms up high, and smiled so hard that I thought I might break.

It was a terribly written story. I loved it with all my heart. I learned from The Wings of Heaven that I could finish a novel-length book, that I could carry characters from point A to point B (however badly), and that I could keep a promise to myself. I learned that if I wanted something badly enough, I would find the time to work on it–even if it was in the middle of the night.

Of course I went on to submit it to over a hundred literary agents, and of course they all soundly rejected it. I don’t think I even had a single request for sample chapters–that should tell you something about my query-writing skills. I remember crying over some of those rejections, laughing over others, stuffing them all in a big manila envelope (which I still have), and then pushing stubbornly onward. The thing is, looking back, my naivety was probably my greatest advantage. Had I actually known how difficult it would be to get published, I might never have finished that manuscript. I never might have been able to face getting rejected. And writing another manuscript. And getting rejected. And writing another. And getting rejected. And another. And another. If I hadn’t been so naive, I might have stopped right there. But I was so young, arrogant, optimistic, ignorant, and hopeful, and because of that, I was able to convince myself to write “just one more.” Most importantly, I was able to figure out over time that I wanted to write stories regardless of publication, that I loved it and that it was a permanent part of me.

This is why I love first novels, in all their imperfection and wonder.”

What was your very first novel like? Did you try and get it published? And how are you other ROWers doing after this first week? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Here is the Linky to cheer the other ROWers on if you wish to do so.

ROW80 Round 1 – Goals!

ROW80 Logo

Hello gentle reader,

January 7th, 2013 (that’s today!) is the official start date for Round 1 of A Round of Words in 80 Days (aka ROW80). I have decided to join this writing challenge for the fourth 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.” Unlike NaNoWriMo which runs for only a month, each ROW80 round runs for 80 days and the participating writers have to set themselves writing goals for that time. Each Wednesday and Sunday, we check in and let the others know how we are doing. 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 are my goals for this round (and yes, I know they are the same as the last round’s, but if at first you don’t succeed…) :

Write or edit every day

Writing – Write a short story, and continue writing the first draft of The Cursed King

Editing – I’m currently querying The Last Queen, and I keep this goal in case someone (!) asks for a revision…

This First Round starts today and will end on Thursday, March 28th. Every Sunday I post about an author’s successful journey into publishing. Make sure to stop by if you need motivation to keep writing!

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. What are your ROW80 goals for this round?