Wednesday, 30 April 2014

What's Up Wednesday

Welcome to What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

I read Hexed by Michelle Krys, which is a fabulous new YA about witches and sorcerers. I also read Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, a wonderfully atmospheric YA gothic mystery. Next, I'm reading The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima, which I've heard good things about! I've been stocking up my Kindle ready for my holiday next week! ^_^

What I'm writing

My post-apocalyptic sequel. :) I cheated a bit with Camp NaNo, as I'm including 2000 words written on a different project in the total (40K), but they were written this month. Considering I spent a week unable to function on a human level (yay flu!), I'm pretty pleased with it!

What inspires me

 Sun and spring and birds singing and my holiday to Majorca on Saturday (even though I still have so many things to sort out before I leave - eek!).

What else I've been up to

Enjoying the lovely weather! ^_^ I went to visit my boyfriend for a few days, and for once, we actually had nice weather! (Usually we end up marathoning Studio Ghibli films and sheltering from the rain. :P) So we  enjoyed driving around the pretty Lancashire countryside and going on walks! :D

Saturday, 26 April 2014

#WIPMarathon Report #3

Last report wordcount and chapter count/scene count: I'd just finished my WIP (first draft) and written a revision plan for Indestructible, my YA post-apocalyptic fantasy.

Current report WC + CC/SC:
 This month, I've been writing my sequel for Camp NaNoWriMo - I'm at the halfway mark! I've also been working on more revisions on Indestructible based on CP feedback.

WIP Issues this month: Argh, confidence issues. It's difficult to say what exactly triggered it, but as I'm in the awkward position of being a published author but still languishing in the query trenches, both things have really been chipping away at my confidence. Every other day seems to bring a new disappointment, knockback, or badly-timed email, and the long game of waiting, waiting, waiting... Obviously, I'm in this for the long haul. But sometimes, a bit of good news would be nice!

Four things I learned this month in writing:
  •  Sometimes, changing your mind about what project to work on can be a good thing! I was originally going to write a different book as I said last month, but I decided I was more in the mood to write this one. And it was definitely the right move. It's been a hard month, so coming back to characters I love has been such a relief!
  • Every book I write is different, but with each, I become more confident in my writing process. It changes slightly with each book, but I'm accepting that I need to have a fairly detailed outline before I start a draft - no exceptions. The more I leave to chance, the more rewriting I have to do later on when the story inevitably nose-dives off a cliff. I'm still putting off the moment when I have to get out the MG draft I wrote in October-December, where I completely lost control of the story and will probably have to do a major revision!
  • In some ways, sequels are easier than the first book in a series. I know my characters well enough that I don't spend ages racking my brain trying to figure out what decision they'll make, and events seem to flow naturally without the initial struggling phase I always have when I'm trying to get into a character's head! 
  • With that being said, characters can still surprise you, even if you outline. I'm writing a sequel which has been outlined since before I wrote the first book - and yet, not four chapters in, I had a character make a decision that completely took me by surprise! And it just happened again. Over the course of a long story, the characters really do start to take control! It's almost like they're thinking for themselves.
What distracted me this month when writing: In addition to the self-doubt sucking me under, I was also struck down by the Plague. I somehow got two viruses at once, which was oh-so-much fun... I actually managed to keep writing, but my productivity took a nosedive. No surprises there. But I also booked a holiday with a friend in a week's time, so I'm looking forward to a whole week away from emails!

Goal for next month: Ideally, I'd like to finish this draft! But I'm away this weekend, and on the 3rd I'm going on holiday to Majorca (woo! :D), so I'm not sure if I'll be able to pull it off. This month has really knocked it out of me! If not, I'm hoping by mid-June I'll be done with the first draft of this, and also final edits on Indestructible.

Last 200 words:'s a sequel. I don't want any spoilers. :P

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

What's Up Wednesday

Welcome to What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

I was lucky enough to snag a few e-ARC's from Netgalley, so I've been working through my list and writing reviews! I read Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore, which was brilliant - look out for my review coming soon! Also, I read The Fearless by Emma Pass, which I'll also be reviewing soon. I loved her first book, ACID, so I was happy I loved this one, too!

I also read Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge, which is bizarre but highly creative and imaginative! Finally, I read Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne, a fantastic new YA fantasy.

What I'm writing

Still working on my YA post-apocalyptic sequel. Slow and steady progress!

What inspires me

Uh...I've not been feeling very inspired over the past week...

What else I've been up to

How did I have time for so much reading? Well, I was struck down with two viruses at once. Boo! So I wasn't up for doing much last weekend - my one consolation was that most people were off for the long Easter weekend, so I didn't fall too behind - though I'm still catching up. Ugh. Still, I had time to marathon all eight Harry Potter films!

Other than that, I've a holiday booked for the 3rd May, which I'm ridiculously excited about (please let this virus be gone by then!). A friend and I are going to Majorca for a week in the sun! Which will be very welcome after a tough month. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

How I plan a novel!

Run for the hills! Emma is dispensing writing advice! Heh. Well, I get into conversations with other writers, and lately I've been thinking a lot about writing method - particularly plotting vs pantsing - or "plotsing", which is more the kind of method I use. I do outline intensively, but things often turn out differently when they're on the page. Still, there's no question that the outline reduces the panic moments in a first draft by...a lot. I've never actually finished a draft without one! This is kind of a Snowflake-Save the Cat-Breakout Novel-Painful Experience-hybrid method of all the advice I've absorbed over the years. And it changes with every book I write. But this is the most consistent method I've found, so I thought I'd share!

  1. Notebooks!
I’ve always kept notebooks handy. Not just journals (although I do keep one of those, too!), but notebooks in which to jot down any and all ideas that come to mind. I mean anything from a word, a sentence, even part of a scene (which might not necessarily make it into the final book). When I’m in a new-idea brainstorming mood, I’ll actually go through all my old notebooks looking for these little kernels of wisdom. For instance, it’s interesting to look through the notebook I was using in 2011, when I first started playing with ideas for what would eventually become the Darkworld series. Most of these ideas never made it to the final draft, but there’s one sentence that actually formed the plot of another series, one I’m currently writing. You never know what you might come up with!

It’s good to road-test concepts and characters at this stage. Usually this is when I’m in between drafts, or even when I have some spare time mid-project. Or on trains. Or when my brain’s in overdrive and I can’t sleep, and suddenly an idea I thought of years ago comes slamming back into my mind and I can’t rest until I write it down. These things happen to writers – it’s normal. :P

This stage can last from days to months. I find the longer I give an idea to germinate, the more likely it is that the next stages will be slightly less painful…

  1.  Choose an idea!
Because outlining, sadly, is not my favourite thing. I’m a plotter, but only because not plotting is the equivalent of leaping from a plane without a parachute. Well, for me, at least. I have an inbuilt fear of not finishing projects (due to years of, um, not finishing projects). First, though, I have to pick an idea to focus on. But how to choose which idea is the best one?

For this tricky stage, where the story could go in one of a hundred directions, it’s easy to panic and pick the familiar idea rather than an original one. Believe me, I’ve done that, and that’s why my first few attempts at stories didn’t work. Reading Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas (which I recommend to all writers!) was a revelation. When picking an idea, I now look for the things Maas recommends – plausibility (i.e. the idea has to be surprising but credible); inherent conflict (story thrives on conflict!); high stakes (both public and private); emotional appeal; originality (this is a tricky one – a new angle on a concept, or mixing two familiar themes into something unique); and finally, something that’s important to me, as a reader and a writer. I don’t follow Maas’s guide to the letter, but if a story has all these things, it has to be pretty good, right?

  1. The Dreaded Pitch!

Following on from that… I write a one-sentence summary…or pitch. *gag* I hate and despise this part, but it nails the story down pretty quick. Once I have that sentence (and it can be pretty basic – Character A is something does something but something conflict something before END OF THE WORLD… or something like that. I rarely actually keep my sentences afterwards, but it works as a starting point!), I turn it into a one-paragraph summary or blurb. Five sentences. Beginning, three conflicts, ending. Usually that ends up changing later too, but I used that method for the first novel I actually finished, so old habits die hard!

  1.  Write a synopsis.

Next, I use that to nail down the story or series arc, by writing a synopsis (I use this useful guide here). I'll have figured out who the main character is, and their journey. By now I’ll have to actually know how many books the story’s going to cover, or so I hope! It doesn’t always work that way, which is why I often work on several of these stages at the same time.

  1.  Worldbuilding!

For instance, I’ll sometimes backtrack and do all the research/worldbuilding first. This can take a while, and can involve delving into some interesting places! I’ve started building Pinterest boards and playlists on Spotify as I work, too. The main thing in this stage is figuring out the rules. Every book I’ve written has had some sort of speculative element, and getting those rules down before starting will save major headaches later on! (Again, speaking from painful experience!) I also take notes on settings and pertinent background details. (I might talk more about worldbuilding in a future blog post!)

  1.  Figure out the character arcs.

Next is a vital stage – character arcs. For each character, I write a one-sentence summary of their story, and their motivation, conflict, goal, and whether they achieve it. I then expand on this to a one-paragraph summary (this closely follows the snowflake method) – like stage 3, but character-specific. One for each main character. I usually end up with about 4-5 of these depending on how many major players there are in the story. Start with your protagonist and antagonist, and work from there.

  1.  Beat sheets, sub-plots and complications, oh my!

Next: back to the story arc! This time, I’ll now know the individual threads for each character, so I’ll build them into the plan, which by now resembles a very messy outline. I use the Save the Cat beat sheet and also this useful plotting sheet to work my outline into something actually resembling a story plan.

  1.  Pull it all together!

This is where the different things I’m working on start to converge. I carry on researching and also build character profiles, including for minor characters, writing down anything important. Finally, I go back to the outline and break it into chapters (I’m currently experimenting with this guide from Janice Hardy’s blog because it fits in really well with how my own outlining process works). Then if I’m feeling particularly neurotic, I’ll even break it into scenes.

  1.  Let the magic happen!

Do I actually start writing at this point? Well, it depends. :P I’m strange. I’ve mentioned before that I need to have the first scene down before I can start writing a draft. But that certainly isn’t a requirement. “Just sit down and write” is the best advice I can give – and sometimes, it really is that simple.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Review - Unhinged by A. G. Howard

Unhinged (Splintered, #2)Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

Amazon UK

I loved Splintered, A. G. Howard’s dark and twisted retelling of Alice in Wonderland, and I was even more thrilled to win a signed copy of the sequel, Unhinged, in a giveaway! The madness continues as Alyssa, one year after her adventures in the warped and crazy world of the netherlings, is drawn back into a battle against the vengeful Red Queen. Unlike the first book, much of Unhinged takes place in the here and now – but with hints of the weirdness creeping through into reality.

This includes the seductive and mysterious Morpheus, who wants Alyssa to return to Wonderland and embrace her darker side –and refuses to take no for an answer. Meanwhile, Jeb, Alyssa’s boyfriend of almost a year, represents her human side and the future she wants in the ordinary world. The plot was unpredictable and gripping, with unexpected revelations I never saw coming. We learn more about Alyssa’s family and their time spent in Wonderland, and all the characters get more development, especially Morpheus. He’s not a ‘bad guy’, but his motives are murky at best. But he’s just a brilliant character, eccentric and dangerous and yet devoted to Alyssa. Alyssa’s inner struggle takes centre stage, making this a love triangle that stands out, because the two guys represent two equal sides of herself and it’s difficult to say which will win out!

Mostly, I loved the original twists on elements from the original Alice stories and the dark and creepy touches – a sinister toy clown, the looking-glass insects, AnyElsewhere – need I go on? The writing’s vivid and the imagery is unique – I just love the writing style. Meanwhile, the narrative keeps up a fast pace which had me glued to the pages. It’d be hard for me to pick whether I prefer the first book or Unhinged, but with that ending, I have a feeling that the finale in Ensnared might be even better than both!

Rating: *****

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

What's Up Wednesday

Welcome to What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

This week, I read Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, which I really enjoyed, and also Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. I love me some good fantasy! :) Then I read In the After by Demetria Lunetta, because I was in the mood for something post-apocalyptic to get back in the mood to work on mine. I really enjoyed it! Finally, I read The Wicked We Have Done, and wow. It's certainly...intense. I'm not sure I enjoyed it as much as I just couldn't stop reading it!

What I'm writing

Still working on my sequel! :) As I said in my Spring Bootcamp Update, I'm also working through the second-last round of edits on my YA post-apocalyptic, Indestructible. The idea of this book actually being finished is kind of scary, though... Funny thing is, this is a book I never actually intended to write, but the idea grabbed hold of me and refused to let me go until I wrote it. And the sequel's the same. It's something that hasn't happened since I wrote the Darkworld series. Not that I want to jinx it, but the words have come out easily compared to most of the other books I've written. And now I'm attached to it. Oops.

I also had an idea for a new MG book, which I added to my never-ending list. And did some brainstorming based on another story concept, because I apparently don't already have enough to do... :P

What inspires me

Spring is finally here, and after 6 months of nonstop rain, it's more than welcome! :D *basks in rays of much-needed sunshine* 
What else I've been up to

I've actually been outside properly for the first time in months! A friend and I went to the Nature Centre to see the otters and meerkats. :)
 I also dyed my hair again. ^_^


But of course my immune system decided to strike me down with a flu bug, so I'm currently stuck indoors shivering and drinking lemsip. *grumpyface*

Monday, 14 April 2014

Release Day - Destruction by Sharon Bayliss

Introducing a new dark wizard family drama, Destruction by Sharon Bayliss, Book One in The December People Series.

An independent family-owned bookstore. The ONLY place to buy signed copies!

A locally owned book store in Austin, Texas.

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without. 

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.  

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

Destruction (Book One of The December People Series)

The Author

Sharon Bayliss is the author of The December People Series and The Charge. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). She only practices magic in emergencies.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

What's Up Wednesday

Welcome to What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

I read Pantomime by Laura Lam, which was absolutely fantastic - I'm now reading the sequel, Shadowplay. Totally unique YA fantasy!

I also read Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, an urban fantasy that's been on my Goodreads list for over a year. I really enjoyed it, and I'm going to have to pick up the rest of the series at some point!

What I'm writing

I'm still Camp NaNo-ing away with my YA post-apocalyptic sequel (while the first book is in the hands of three other readers! *eek*). :) I've not yet reached the dreaded sink-hole in the middle where the story starts disobeying my outline, so the hard part lies ahead...for now, I've been enjoying re-acquainting myself with the characters and the world. And preparing to torment my poor characters in the next 60,000 words. *evil laugh*

What inspires me

Dare I say...this book? I had one of those wonderful days yesterday where I just typed 2000 words without getting discouraged or distracted. Those days are rare at the moment, which made it doubly precious.

What else I've been up to 

Freelance work, editing for Entangled, answering a never-ending heap of emails, beta reading and critiquing... Not much else! It's been another challenging week with a fair few disappointments, so I've been trying not to dwell on things and just get on with what I can actually control...which is the words on the page.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Cover Reveal - One, Two, Three by Elodie Nowodazkij

One, Two, Three...BOOK & AUTHOR INFO:

One, Two, Three… by Elodie Nowodazkij
Publication date: June 26th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

When seventeen-year-old Natalya’s dreams of being a ballerina are killed in a car accident along with her father, she must choose: shut down—like her mother—or open up to love.
Last year, Natalya was attending the School of Performing Arts in New York City. Last year, she was well on her way to becoming a professional ballerina. Last year, her father was still alive.
But a car crash changed all that—and Natalya can’t stop blaming herself. Now, she goes to a regular high school in New Jersey; lives with her onetime prima ballerina, now alcoholic mother; and has no hope of a dance career.
At her new school, however, sexy soccer player Antonio sees a brighter future for Natalya, or at least a more pleasant present, and his patient charms eventually draw her out of her shell.
But when upsetting secrets come to light and Tonio’s own problems draw her in, Natalya shuts down again, this time turning to alcohol herself.
Can Natalya learn to trust Antonio before she loses him—and destroys herself?

*Learn more about her upcoming releases by subscribing to her newsletter :-)*

The short story: Young adult author, Elodie Nowodazkij writes the stories swirling in her head during her commuting time.

The long story: Elodie Nowodazkij was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she’d never lose her French accent. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Modern Language & Linguistics, and later earned master’s degrees in German Cultural Studies and European Studies. Unbeknownst to her professors, she sometimes drafted stories in class. Now she lives in Germany with her husband and their cat (who doesn’t seem to realize he’s not human), and use her commuting time to write the stories swirling in my head. She's also a serial smiley user.
ONE TWO THREE is her first novel. 

Author Links:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 6 April 2014

2-year Blogoversary Giveaway!

Oh wow, I can't believe I've been blogging for TWO YEARS. Really, I actually had to double-check the date, but it's true - my first post was on the 6th April 2012! o_O Emma of 2012 had just completed her third novel, The Puppet Spell, and was making her first tentative move into blogging. So I thought it'd be interesting to take a peek into my blogging history...

From the Bookworm's Cave - first blog post!

In which Emma is very determined to be published - "Why I write, and why I won't give up"

In which Emma publishes her first short story!

In which Emma decides to post her journal from her intrepid volunteering trip to Australia (2011)

(Gods, this is embarrassing, 19-year-old Emma. THE TYPOS! o_O)

Part Two of Emma's Australian Adventure, in which Emma jumps out of a plane

Emma returns from her second Epic Adventure, volunteering in Costa Rica (summer 2012)

Costa Rica Part 2, in which Emma is attacked by jungle bees and goes slightly insane

Costa Rica Part 3, in which Emma goes zip-lining and is stranded in Texas

Emma talks about what she wishes she'd known 5 years ago (maybe I should stop using the third person, it's starting to look weird...)

All about the Darkworld series!

Highlights of 2012

In which Emma makes New Year's Resolutions (and actually ends up keeping them)

I publish my debut novel!

The most epic of epic news - a publishing offer for Darkness Watching from Curiosity Quills!

In which I join IWSG

In which I get to hold a copy of my book :)

On Endings and Beginnings: in which I reflect on three years at university

In which I graduate from university and attempt to live multiple lives at once

A glimpse into the crazy (aka, edits will be the death of me)

Emma turns 22. Quarter-life-crisis commences!

I finish writing the Darkworld series!

My brief adventure in London comes to an end...

Darkness Watching teaser

Darkness Watching is published!

Emma survives a major rewrite of the second Darkworld book

2013: My Year in Writing!

My epic 2014 resolution/goal list!

I get to announce my exciting Darkworld news!

And here we are! In two years, I've gone from having no followers for the first six months, to having over 500 total, and over 50K pageviews! Thank you, all of you! :)

I like to keep this blog updated as much as I can, even when things are crazy-busy. At the moment, I'm blogging three days a week, featuring Monday Mini-Reviews or a post on a writing-related topic on Mondays; What's Up Wednesday as a mid-week update; and a book review on a Friday. Then there's IWSG on the first Wednesday of every month, and the #WIPMarathon report on the last Saturday of each month. And I always hop onto the blog to shout my latest Darkworld news whenever I have it. But I can't help thinking I could be doing more. I wish I had the time to visit everyone's blogs and leave meaningful comments. I wish I had the time to organise guest posts and interviews and contests and other exciting things. Time! Just meeting my own writing goals takes it out of me. But I've kept the Writer's Nest running for two whole years now - I guess that has to count for something. Still, if anyone has any suggestions for new cool blog features or ideas or anything, feel free to let me know! :) I do read all comments, even if Blogger sometimes doesn't play nice and won't let me reply...

Enough rambling. I've decided to set up a giveaway! As I've also passed some other milestones recently (passing 7000 Twitter followers...I've no idea how that happened! o_O), I've decided to make this a seriously special one! The winner will receive a SIGNED copy of Darkness Watching, and three signed bookmarks to pass on to whoever they like! Or just keep. Up to you! :) Aaaand, two runners up will also receive $5 Amazon gift cards!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 4 April 2014

Review - Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

Untold (The Lynburn Legacy, #2)It's time to choose sides.... 

On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.

But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?

A darkly humorous take on Gothic romance, Sarah Rees Brennan's Lynburn Legacy weaves together the tale of a heroine desperate to protect those she loves, two boys hoping to be saved, and the magical forces that will shape their destiny.

As I absolutely loved Unspoken, I couldn’t wait to get into Untold, the second book in the Lynburn Legacy series. Here, the town of Sorry-in-the-Vale is revealed as a place of dark magic and sorcery, and a struggle begins between Rob Lynburn, who wants to return to the old ways and establish a new hierarchy with the Lynburns on top. Meanwhile, free from the connection to Jared, Kami is alone for the first time in her life. She might not have magic any longer, but she still wants to fight.

Sarah Rees Brennan has a gift for injecting humour into even the darkest scenarios, and the dialogue between the characters is often hilarious. All the characters are vivid and three-dimensional, and I like that Kami’s parents are part of the action rather than sidelined like so many parents in YA fiction. Her best friends, Angela and Holly, also get a bigger role in the story, and Rusty is as entertaining as ever. But Kami and Jared stole the show for me. Their struggles are written so well, especially Kami’s conflict about her own feelings independent of the connection she and Jared once shared.

The characters are great, the history intriguing, the atmosphere wonderfully gothic, and the plot, whilst not fast-moving, promises an epic climax to come in the final book of the trilogy. Definitely one to watch out for!

Rating: ****

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

What's Up Wednesday & IWSG

Welcome to What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

I've been reading Inside Out, a dystopian novel by Maria V. Snyder (author of the Study and Healer fantasy series). I liked it, but it's not my favourite. Still, I'm now reading Storm Glass, the first in her follow up to the Study series, and really enjoying it. Next up: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen. I've heard good things about this one!

What I'm writing

After finishing my draft and revisions, I was kind of at a loose end. I decided for once to obey the voice of common sense and take a few days off writing. Unfortunately, I forgot how much of a grump I am when not writing... o_O That, coupled with some crappy Other Stuff I had to deal with, plunged me back into the dreaded everything sucks mode and made it really hard to actually get back into writing anything. But then one night (oddly enough, when the clocks in the UK went forward!), I was inspired to start writing my YA post-apocalyptic sequel. So progress is back in full swing! :D

What inspires me 

Realising I haven't forgotten how to write. :P This is my 13th book. It's also a sequel, and after the intense ending of the first book, I was afraid to start the next one in case I couldn't match up to it. But after mentally kicking myself around, I had another look at the outline, and this book has the potential to be even more intense/evil/devastating etc than the first one! Also, I love writing it. It's about an invincible girl, the end of the world, a man who can't die, and an explosive all-out battle with invading monsters from another dimension. Will anyone want to read it? I haven't a clue. But I'm loving it anyway.

What else I've been up to

Working, reading, relaxing-not-relaxing (I am a terrible relaxer. I write novels on the beach, spend sunny days working furiously...ahem.). Raiding my brother's Playstation game collection. :P


It's also time for IWSG! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the creation of Ninja Captain Alex, and is a great way for writers to share their worries, support and encouragement.

As I mentioned above, I made the mistake of letting things get to me a bit much over the past week. The publishing game is a rollercoaster, with nice publisher emails followed by rejections followed by requests followed by near-miss rejections which leave me tearing my hair out and this week, I just felt so exhausted. I try not to complain too much about the whole long-game process of publishing, but well, I've been trying to get an agent since 2010. I've made about every stupid mistake it's possible to make along the way, but I've also found an amazing publisher, and I'll never stop being grateful for that. But after so many nice writing, not for me responses to my carefully-targeted queries, the old fear of inadequacy comes back.

I've been querying Beneath the Waves for three months. Is that a long time? I honestly don't know, because it's been different every time I've queried (this is the fourth). I started out writing MG fantasy, and I still love it. But it isn't big in indie publishing, so the agent/trade publisher route's really the only way to go. And that's fine with me. From my experiences over the past year and a half, I know self-publishing isn't the right path for me, but getting an agent is as hard as (maybe even harder than) ever. My first two queried projects didn't get so much as a personalized response. Third time around was Darkness Watching, and that time, I targeted small presses only, because YA urban fantasy/paranormal was (and still is) near-impossible to break into. But this time, I hoped I might have a shot with an agent. 

I've worked so damn hard on Beneath the Waves, rewriting and revising intensively with help from so many great readers, received fantastic feedback from Pitch Wars mentors...and I'm starting to get the sinking feeling that maybe what I write just doesn't appeal to people. Which is completely nonsensical, but the general doom-and-gloom mood over the past week hasn't been helping much. It's like all the worries nesting in Emma's brain decided to come out and have a party. And my next book's YA post-apocalyptic. Can you say, dead genre? ARGH! *headdesk* 

It's at times like these that the old impatience rears its head again. I want to be published NOW! wailed past-Emma as she waited months for a rejection which never actually arrived. Of course, I know a LOT more about publishing and waiting than I did then. I know everything takes time, and that sales take time to build and I'm lucky to have not only published one book but to also have a series on the way - but I can't help but feel sad for my other stories. I want to share Beneath the Waves, Indestructible, all the other stories bouncing around in my head. It's a new age, where we're at sea in endless possibilities - self-publishing, small press, hybrid publishing...sometimes I just wish for a boat so I can find my way out of it! How do I know the best path for each of my books? I don't. I just want people to read them, and hopefully enjoy them. But it's so hard to be heard, so hard to carve a niche in today's wild publishing world.

Don't get me wrong - I'm excited about the opportunities, and grateful for the many, many wonderful people I've already met. Who knows - maybe there are more people out there who'd like to read my strange tales. I've jumped genres from urban fantasy with demons to high fantasy with mer-zombie-vampire-things to explosive post-apocalyptic with an all-out battle between superpowered humans and horrific monsters. Meanwhile, I have two other drafts sitting on my hard drive (one a MG about dragons and clockwork monsters and alternative universes, the other a YA about curses and magic and evil deities). And another trilogy in the planning. What I'm lacking, however, is a crystal ball. I have no idea how any of this is going to play out, and to be honest, it makes me nervous as hell. How am I to know what was the best decision to make, further down the line? It's no wonder it's taken me so long to decide which project to work on next...

All in all, sometimes it might be nice to live in someone else's head for a while, just for peace of mind!