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.

ROW80 2014 – Round 2 – Check-In 1

ROW80 Logo

Hello gentle reader,

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may recall a time when I took part in the ROW80 Challenge. From April 2012 to June 2013, I checked in every Sunday and reported on my writing progress. Then revisions for LILY IN THE SHADOWS took over my life, then I signed with my agent, and… I gave up on ROW80 check-ins.

But I’m back!

If you’re new around here, A Round of Words in 80 Days (aka ROW80) was created by Kait Nolan. It is “the writing challenge that knows you have a life”. 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.

Round Two started on Monday 7th April (so I jump in a little late) and it will end on Thursday 26th June. If you would like to join in and become a part of the ROW80 community, please do so, it’s not too late and we’re friendly!

Here are my goals for this round (I always keep them very simple):

  1. Read or write every day
  2. Write the first draft of my new YA Historical Fantasy (hopefully by the end of this round I’ll be able to tell you what it’s about!)

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


What’s Up Wednesday & Ready. Set. Write! Check-In 1

Hello gentle reader,

as promised this is my first What’s Up Wednesday post as well as my goal-setting post for the Ready. Set. Write! challenge. If you wish to find out what this writing challenge is about and join in the fun, click on the button below:


What’s Up Wednesday was created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk.  It’s a way to share what we are up to each week.

What's Up Wednesday Button

What I´m reading

The Quietness

This week I read The Quietness by Alison Rattle (YA Historical fiction). It’s the story of two girls in 19th Century London, who have nothing in common but whose paths are about to cross. The voice is brilliant, I loved it!

What I’m Writing

My goal for Ready. Set. Write! is to edit and query my YA Historical Fantasy Lily In The Shadows.

This week I’m editing, following my beta readers’ advice.

What else I´ve been up to

I won a giveaway! Editor Cassandra Marshall organised a contest to win a full MS critique and incredibly, I won! I’m looking forward to her feedback on Lily…

What inspires me right now

Knowing that I’m very close to finishing my WIP. So. Close.

What are you up to this week? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

And if you’d like to join in this blog hop, click here!

Blog Update and ROW80 Check-In 10

Hello gentle reader,

I hope you had a lovely week!

If you’re here to enter my Best Book Ever Giveaway and have a chance to win The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo, click on the image below (giveaway ends tomorrow):

Best Book Ever Giveaway

If you’re here for my ROW80 Check-In, know that I spent my week running like a headless chicken for my crazy day job. Therefore I didn’t do any writing, I barely did any editing and I only did a bit of reading.

ROW80 LogoPlease note this is my last check-in for this round (although this round won’t be over until 20th June).

Indeed I have decided to join a summer challenge called Ready. Set. Write!


Hosted by Alison MillerKaty Upperman, Erin Funk, Jaime Morrow and Elodie Nowodazkij, it’s a summer writing intensive that starts Tuesday 11th June and will go on for 2 months. The idea is to update weekly on Wednesdays on what we’ve been writing and on our new goals for the week.

Sunday Giveaway

Finally and starting this week as well, I’ll be hosting a giveaway each Sunday. I will give you the opportunity to win one e-copy of a YA book I’ve read this year or will be reading this summer. I borrowed this idea from the wonderful Amy Plum whom I met in Paris at the SCBWI Conference in March.

So that’s what will happen on my blog until 15th August!

I wish you all a great summer and hope to read your comments below.

Let me know how your week was and what you have planned for the summer!

In the meantime, happy reading, and happy writing!

My Week In Review – ROW80 Check-In 7

Hello gentle reader,

It is time for another weekly check-in! I hope you had a great and productive week. Mine was very buzy and I apologise for my lack of posts and this short check-in. I’ll be back full-time next week, I promise!

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

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

5 days out of 7.

Word Count of the Week

This week I revised my Work In Progress and added 1000 words to this draft.

TV Show of the Week


Dracula (NBC)

This TV show is coming this fall and I’m so excited for it! You can watch the trailer here.

Good News of the Week

Lily In The Shadows is now in the hands of its first beta readers and I’m waiting on their feedback…

Next week

Next week on my blog I shall finally accept the Versatile Blogger Award and return to a regular blogging schedule!

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 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.

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!