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 and ROW80 Check-In 9

Hello gentle reader,

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

Quote of the Week

    “Once again…welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring.”

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Basically my blogging philosophy.

Picture of the Week

M.LIN Lights

Lights in London by my friend M.LIN

ROW80 Check-In

ROW80 Logo

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

6 days out of 7.

Word Count of the Week

This week I added 2680 words to my Work In Progress. I also edited it a lot, and wrote a synopsis for it.

TV Show of the Week

vikings-tv

Vikings (History Channel)

Honestly, I watched this show because of its title. I LOVE Vikings stories. The first two episodes aired this week and they were quite enjoyable, if you don’t mind a slow start and ridiculous hairstyle. I know I don’t, as long as there are, you know, VIKINGS.

Good News of the Week

 I had again a lot of good news this week! First a fellow member of There And Draft Again, Kathi, awarded me the Very Inspiring Blog Award. If you recall, I have already received it twice (!) so you can read my acceptance post here. Then the awesome Veronica Park offered (!!) to critique my synopsis and she gave me some amazing feedback to improve it. And finally after 4 months of silence, my wonderful CP Jessica Montgomery started blogging again! Go and follow her here! She’s awesome, I promise.

Links of the Week

On my blog this week I celebrated World Book Day and I introduced you to the main character of my YA Historical Fantasy novel set in Victorian London.

On There And Draft Again this week, Mara shared tips on finding the perfect Critique Partners and Jessica reviewed her favourite Fantasy book.

Also YA author Laura Lam blogged about How To Help Debut Authors.

Susan and Tyler Rose over at The Feather And The Rose celebrated their 200th post with a Mysterious Giveaway.

Finally you should check out Serena Lawless’s awesome Tumblr. And while you’re at it, you may want to follow her on Twitter. You won’t regret it.  

Next week

Next week on my blog I will (finally) reveal the title and plot of my Work In Progress!

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

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?

A Writer in the Spotlight – Anna Carey

This week again I was lucky enough to have a YA author give me an exclusive interview! The idea behind the “Writer in the Spotlight” feature is that published (and bestselling) authors are the best source of advice for us, would-be-published writers. Today’s interview is with the amazing Anna Carey. Between her busy schedule and emails lost in spam folders, there were times when I thought I would never get this interview, but Anna was SUPER kind and I’m very happy that you can read her answers to my questions today!

Author : Anna Carey

Genre : Young Adult, Dystopian, Contemporary

Location: Los Angeles, USA

Contact: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Books : The Sloan Sisters series (2009), the Eve trilogy: Eve (2011), Once (2012), Rise (2013)

Bio: Anna Carey has been a gift wrapper, face painter, nanny, horrific cocktail waitress, sofa saleswoman and children’s book editor. She graduated from New York University and has an MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she can be found writing, reading, and doodling on the giant chalkboard in her kitchen.

My interview (08/11/2012)

On writing:

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, though it took me nearly a decade to say those words out loud. Growing up I didn’t know any authors, had never been to a book talk or had a writer visit my school. That life seemed like an impossible dream.

When and where do you write?

As much as I try to keep a set schedule, this changes from book to book. My preference is to write at home, on my couch, in yoga pants. It usually takes me eight hours to get five solid hours of work done. I’ve gone through periods where things are different, where I work predominantly in coffee shops or only at night, but the eight hour rule has always proved true.

What do you say to people who want to be writers?

First off, read as much as you can. You learn so much about characters, story, and plot just from reading well crafted books. We’re lucky that there are so many books on writing out there (On Writing by Stephen King, The Faith of a Writer by Joyce Carol Oates, Burning Down the House by Charles Baxter). Add these to your reading list.

Secondly, write as much as you can and finish whatever you start. Strangely, this is the hardest part. Try not to get discouraged by unwieldy first drafts. Try not to judge. Once you finish there will be time to cut, add, rewrite and perfect. Until then…it’s impossible to revise a blank page.

Lastly: Find a few readers you trust. Share your work and learn how to listen to criticism. A useful comment feels like an arrow hitting it’s mark.

On the “Eve” trilogy:

To write these books, where did you get your inspiration from? Were you aware of the coming dystopian trend in YA literature when you wrote “Eve”?

Eve started with a question: What happens when you discover everything you learned is a lie? Would you have the courage to relearn your life?

Publishing is a slow industry. It can take over a year (sometimes two) for a book to go from finished manuscript to published work. That said, once you’re aware of a trend it’s generally too late to write with it. I’m like most of the authors who are writing dystopian now. When I started Eve dystopian wasn’t a huge trend. The first book of The Hunger Games was out, but it wasn’t what it is now. I wrote the story I was interested in, and fortunately the timing was right.

On reading:

Which authors inspire you now?

I just read The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith, which is creepy and magnificent. If I Stay by Gayle Forman is one of my favorite YA reads, my go-to “if you haven’t read this READ THIS”. Right now I’m on a bit of a Gillian Flynn kick. I finished Gone Girl and am now reading Sharp Objects, one of her earlier books.

Thanks, Anna, for an awesome interview!

Anna’s books are available from Amazon here.

ROW80 Check-In 5 : Claire Legrand on How To Come To Terms With Your Writing

Hello gentle reader,

And it is time for another ROW80 check-in! My goals for this fourth round are as follows:

Write or edit every day DONE

Editing – Finish my current round of editing for The Last Queen, get my manuscript critiqued and beat-read, then edit some more.

DONE: This week again I have been editing every day.

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

I didn’t do any writing this week since I was focused on editing The Last Queen.

So this was another good writing week for me and I’m still happy with my goals. This week I also posted on my blog two posts you might enjoy: my Halloween reads recommendations and a discussion on the popularity of YA High Fantasy novels.

Now, on to an inspiring story to keep us going this coming week. Today I’m sharing YA author Claire Legrand’s tips for writers. Claire’s debut novel THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS came out in August 2012.

“When I first started writing, I spent a lot of time online researching what writers should and should not do. There are many rules floating around out there dictating what supposedly makes for a good writing process and a bad writing process, a good writer and a bad writer, a book that will sell and a book that won’t.

Some I have encountered are:

  • You must write every day.
  • You should NOT write every day.
  • You should write [insert number of choice] words per day.
  • You should make a writing schedule and stick to it, absolutely no excuses.
  • You should be writing [insert number of choice] books per year if you ever hope to make a living in this business.
  • You must write at this pace.
  • No, this pace.
  • No way, THIS pace. Slackers.
  • You should write at least one million words before even thinking of querying an agent with a manuscript; before then, you’re not ready.
  • You should create an account for THIS social media service, and THIS one, and THIS one too, and post THIS many times a week.
  • You should blog regularly, on a set schedule, and stick to it. If you blog irregularly, you’re a bad blogger/writer/human being.
  • You should use Scrivener.
  • No, you shouldn’t.
  • You MUST outline, in detail.
  • You MUST outline, but only the main plot points.
  • Eh, you don’t need to outline.
  • You should plan your book around this method of story structure.
  • No, this one.
  • No, those suck, THIS one.
  • You should query one agent at a time.
  • You should query five agents at a time.
  • You should query ten agents at a time.
  • Your book should be between [number] and [number] words long, and anything else won’t fly.
  • You must use critique partners.
  • Your first drafts should look like this.
  • You should only have to do [insert number] rounds of revisions; anything more, and something’s wrong with you/your book/your soul.

Frankly, these shoulds and shouldn’ts start contradicting each other pretty quickly, and it can make a fledgling writer feel pretty lost. Heck, I’m all fancy and published now (and I say that tongue-in-cheek because there’s not much that’s fancy about it, and also, I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing), and reading these kinds of statements STILL makes me feel pretty lost. They also, if I focus too hard on them, make me feel like I’m doing everything wrong when I can look at what I’m producing and rationally know that I’m not.

Rules can be a good thing. As Victoria Wright might say, rules help the world run just so.

But writing is not always a quantifiable activity. Much of it is instinct, luck, and plain old dogged persistence, whether that’s rigidly scheduled in a spreadsheet or just crammed into whatever spare thirty minutes you can find as your day allows it. And much of what works and what doesn’t for one person’s writing doesn’t translate to the next person. Therefore, I would say that many of the so-called universal writing rules we might see in blog posts, online articles, and tweets are really just what the author has found to work for herself, or for her friends, or for the majority of people within her peer group.

But that doesn’t mean it has to–or will–work for you (or for your book).

Such a statement seems elementary enough (everyone’s different! we’re all unique snowflakes!), but I still have a hard time accepting it. I’m a person very influenced by others, for good or for ill. This means some of my most productive writing days are when I’m “sprinting” online in the company of friends; this also means that other’s successes, failures, methods, and “musts” all have a way of affecting me deeply. I start to think I’m not doing enough or that I’m not doing it right, and then I lose confidence, and then I sit there staring at a blank Word document while scarfing down a box of Cheezits.

The thing is, I don’t do half the things on that list up there above.

I don’t use Scrivener; I have a notebook in which I scribble random thoughts. The rest is done in plain old Microsoft Word, with a lot of world-building and character notes jotted down in Notepad.

I don’t use critique partners. There is one good writer friend whom I trust to look at my unpolished work, but beyond that, no one looks at my books before my editor except for me and my agent.

I outline in detail, but I don’t have a set writing schedule every day, nor do I log my word counts or have micro-goals of any kind. I tried doing that, but it didn’t work for me because if I didn’t meet a goal for the day (or the week) I felt like a failure, and my work suffered for it. Instead, I shoot for big goals (finishing the book by this date) and as long as I meet that big goal, what happens until then doesn’t matter.

I write long what I call “zero drafts” (that is, the first ever draft of the book, before I make preliminary cuts, before I send to abovementioned good writer friend, before I send to agent). And when I say long, I mean long. And even beyond that, once a book has gone through revisions, it’s still on the longer side. I’m just plain wordy (as you can tell by reading this post and really my blog in general). (…)

What does this say about me and my writing?

Absolutely nothing. Except that I write long and then cut back during revisions. It does not reflect on the quality of my writing, the effectiveness of my methods, or how I measure up against the writing and methods of others.

Likewise, my method of outlining, my writing schedules, the fact that I only have one beta reader, etc. etc., means nothing except that this system is what works for me and my books. End of story.

You hear that, brain??

So I’m going to tell you this, in hopes that myself, through writing it, will soak in the reminder (and because I know there are others out there who, like me, doubt and compare and wonder if they’re nuts or stupid or somehow wrong for writing like they do):

The way you write is not necessarily how others write.

Your books are not going to be as [insert adjective of choice] as others’ are.

Your writing will be just that: how you write.

Your books will be just that: your books (and no one else’s.)

Know this, accept this. The sooner you do, the sooner you will come to terms with your writing. And the sooner you do that, the sooner you can get to writing that next book (and the next one, and the next . . . ), no matter how long/short/bracketed/messy/outlined/pantsed/critiqued/Scrivenered/Worded/slowly written/quickly written/ it ends up being.”

How are you other ROWers doing? Here is the Linky to support each other!

Gearing Up To Get An Agent Blogfest – Meet and Greet

Hello gentle reader,

this month I am taking part in an exciting blogfest: Gearing Up To Get An Agent (aka GUTGAA) hosted by the amazing Deana Barnhart.

What is GUTGAA? you ask.

GUTGAA is a blogfest Deana Barnhart started last year “in the hopes that those of us striving to reach “agented” status could come together, polish those pitches and have fun at the same time.”

Today is the first day of this blogfest and it’s Meet and Greet time… If you want to join the fun and sign up for the blogfest, you can do so here. Then add a Meet and Greet post on your blog and you will have from today until Friday, Sept 7th to visit others’ blogs and get to know them. Have fun and visit as many as you can!

Questions for the Meet and Greet
Quick bio

I am a writer of YA High Fantasy novels. I live in an English castle, travel extensively, read voraciously, listen to music bands few people have heard of and watch too many movies to count. In case you are wondering, I also have a full-time job, so I mostly write at odd hours and drink a lot of tea. I am also a member of the British Fantasy Society.

Where do you write?
At home, at my desk in my living room. From my window I can see the castle’s park and the beautiful English countryside beyond. No need for a retreat for me!
Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
My armchair. This is where I sit to read. And I read A LOT.
Favorite time to write?
Evenings.
Drink of choice while writing?
Tea!
When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
I need music to write. I even wrote a blog post about my favourite writing music.
What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
I write epic fantasy. I have had my WIP in me FOREVER. I think I got the inspiration for it about ten years ago. I wanted to write a story with a strong female teenager as the main character. I also liked the idea of a fantasy land where humans were the lesser people. Finally I wanted to write a love story that would be as realistic as possible, although set in an imaginary land.
What’s your most valuable writing tip?

Write every day, and NEVER give up.

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to comment below and I will definitely pay your blog a visit.

Also you can enter my 100 Followers Giveaway here and win YA books!

Finally, I would love to hear from you on Twitter if you wish to know me better.