Saturday, 29 March 2014

#WIPMarathon Report #2

Last report wordcount and chapter count/scene count: I was at 39K of my YA UF WIP.

Current report WC + CC/SC:
I finished my draft at 68K, yay!

I also made a revision plan for my YA post-apocalyptic fantasy based on CP feedback, and just finished my second round of revisions! I'm sending it to another fabulous CP this week. Woo! :) 

WIP Issues this month: Compared to last month, not as much! Just the usual mid-draft woes of thinking I'd forgotten how to write a book and another stage where everything seemed to be going r-e-a-l-l-y slowly. And then I finished, so I've been twiddling my thumbs the past few days, trying to decide which WIP to work on next...

Four things I learned this month in writing:
  •  Every WIP will go through the same stages. There will ALWAYS be a point at which I think everything sucks. And you know what? That's normal. It doesn't mean it's true. It just means I need to get into the mindset of just-write-anyway and eventually, it'll pass.
  • Related: you'll go through many emotional stages when writing a book. Check out Chuck Wendig's post about this.
  • Sometimes, sending your work to a CP before major edits is a great idea. With my YA post-apocalyptic, I was so torn about the story itself. I loved it, but I felt like it was broken, and not in a way I could fix - it was just so different from anything else I'd written. I had a severe case of writer blindness, and I knew it. So I bit the bullet and sent it out. And my CP loved it. The revisions were achievable, and I fell in love with the project again! *happy dances everywhere*
  •  It's OK to change your mind about what project to work on. I had a YA Urban Fantasy all planned out for Camp NaNo next month, but seeing as I just finished revising my other WIP, it makes sense to focus on the sequel instead. It's a duology, too, so finishing that series might be a more sensible idea than starting a new one!

What distracted me this month when writing: Edits for Walking Shadow, signing the contract for the third book, waiting for spring, and wondering where the hell the time's gone. (How is it almost April already?!) Getting promoted to Assistant Editor at Entangled. All good stuff! :)


Goal for next month: I've decided to push ahead with Camp NaNo, but rather than starting a new WIP, I'm going to be writing the sequel to my YA post-apocalyptic! My goal is 40K for the month!


Last 200 words: Are a secret, seeing as it's the ending of my WIP. ;)

Friday, 28 March 2014

Review - A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin


 A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance — beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys's claim to Westeros forever.

Meanwhile, to the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone — a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.


Amazon
Amazon UK

My review

I was excited to read this book as we finally return to the characters I missed in A Feast for Crows – Jon Snow, Tyrion, and Daenerys. In A Dance With Dragons, we travel between the Wall and the various locations at sea, as tales of Daenerys and her dragons draw many to seek her out. But Dany can trust few people, and it has been prophesised that she will face three betrayals. She struggles to maintain control over a freed slave city – and over her dragons. Tyrion, meanwhile, has committed the unforgivable sin of murdering his own father, and in escaping the castle finds himself on one of many searches for the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Bran’s viewpoint chapters are interesting, as he learns more about being a skin-changer deep in the woods. Back in Westeros, Jon Snow has unexpectedly risen to the position of Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and has been forced to work with King Stannis, who is newly converted to the religion of the red god, under the influence of the sorceress Melisandre.


The storylines are expertly plotted as ever, with different perspectives on key events offered by differing characters. Events overlap with those in A Feast for Crows to some extent, and I felt that the plot moved quite slowly at times, but Martin handles the multiple viewpoints and intersecting plotlines as expertly as ever, and it’s interesting to explore even more diverse locations and gain an insight into the complexities of his unique fantasy world. I did find that there were a few too many different viewpoints in this book and it slowed the pace down considerably, but there were some great scenes, and the many, many agonising cliffhangers have me eager for the next book!



Rating: ****

Wednesday, 26 March 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

Because it seems to be my mission lately to read all of Brandon Sanderson's books, I'm now reading Words of Radiance, the second in the Stormlight Archive series. And wow. Despite being a very l-o-n-g book, it's nonstop action! And the worldbuilding is fantastic, of course. Absolutely loved it.

I also read the other two books in the Chaos Walking trilogy, The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men. I'm struggling to get my thoughts into coherent order to write reviews, but wow, this is how you write dystopian, folks. So intense and thought-provoking!




What I'm writing

I'm editing my YA post-apocalyptic, as I said in my #YABBootcamp update on Monday. :) Second major revision is almost complete! :D

I also FINISHED MY DRAFT!!! Woo! I've been stalling for days on this, slowly inching towards the end, but it's done. Problem is, like with the last one, I'm totally conflicted. I enjoyed writing it, but thoughts of it's not marketable and other such depressing business-related thoughts have been making my confidence flipflop all over the place lately. So I'm putting it away for now. Like I don't have enough drafts already stacked on my hard drive... 

Still. It's finished! And I have another WIP in the planning (well, technically I've already written 3000 words!). This is my 13th novel, for anyone counting, which is probably just me. And I'm leaning 90% towards doing Camp NaNoWriMo next month, because this crazy writer apparently has Compulsive Writing Syndrome! Send help. Or perhaps, a clone.


What inspires me


When revisions are going well and I have that rare confidence that the changes I'm making are improving the story! Also, finishing the draft and being all excited about my next project. Yay! And I got some #Pitmad requests for Beneath the Waves yesterday, which I totally did not expect and which may have given me a mild panic attack. *breathes into paper bag*


What else I've been up to

I've been happily busy with freelance work! I finished up my first MS notes for my new role at Entangled, and I've been working on several other projects, too. ^_^

I'm also setting up my first newsletter to send out this Friday, so if you want to be the first to get a sneak peek at two books (Walking Shadow and Fear's Touch: A Darkworld Novella), there's still time to sign up! :) There may also be a release date in there, too... ;)


Saturday, 22 March 2014

My Writing Process Blog Hop!

I was tagged by Jimena Novaro in the Writing Process Blog Hop!

1) What am I working on?

I'm juggling several projects! I'm writing the (very rough) first draft of a YA urban fantasy, revising a YA post-apocalyptic, and plotting another urban fantasy to draft during Camp NaNoWriMo next month. :)


2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?


I like to take an idea which has been done before and put a new spin on it! For instance, in the Darkworld series, I wrote a version of demons I'd never read before, while Beneath the Waves, the novel I'm querying, deals with a different take on merpeople, vampires and curses. I don't believe there's such a thing as true originality, but everyone has their own unique voice.

Mostly, I try to write about magic and powers with real consequences. Magic isn't all fun and games, and usually comes with major backlash. For example, in Darkness Watching, Ash learns pretty quickly that using magic makes her a beacon for supernatural monsters; and in Beneath the Waves and my post-apocalyptic fantasy WIP, magic is responsible for some seriously devastating effects on the world. As a fantasy writer, of course, I love magic, but I like to make my protagonists fairly ordinary, or if they do have special powers, they come with a major downside.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write YA and fantasy because it's what I love to read. There are no limits to what you can do! :)

4) How does my writing process work?


When I have an idea I think is novel-worthy, I do a lot of brainstorming, trying to figure out what kind of story it is, who the characters should be, etc., until I have enough material to start planning a novel. I then write a 1-sentence summary, a la Snowflake method, and then a blurb. Meanwhile, I'll be brainstorming ideas about setting, world-building, magic (most of my books involve magic!) and who the main players are. Then I'll get a notebook (or a Scrivener document, as I'm using now) and start getting all this information into some kind of order.

Generally I'll get the blurb down first, and then write story arc summaries for each of the main characters. Then I'll focus my attention on sorting the world-building -often the most time-consuming part, depending on how much research is involved! Then I write a synopsis, around 1/2 a page long. By this time I'll know if the idea's strong enough or if it's going to be a series or not, so I'll go into more depth. Character profiles, setting profiles, and a deeper outline using beat sheets and plot worksheets. Then I'll break the outline into chapters, and figure out the opening scene. I can't start a book unless I have the opening scene figured out - strange but true! But once I have it, I can start drafting right away, or add it to the waiting list until I finish whatever project I'm already working on!

The first draft generally takes me 1-3 months fast-drafting, but revising and editing takes much longer. I do one intense self-edit before sending to a few critique partners/beta readers, get feedback, revise again, send it out again, etc. I tend to get around the waiting by having several projects on the go at once (for instance, right now I'm adding 1000-2000 words daily to my current draft and working on an outline in between, while waiting for feedback on a different draft I sent my critique partners).  But my crazy method's definitely not for everyone!


And I tagged:

Tori Centanni 

Julie Dao

Kaye

Friday, 21 March 2014

Review- With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent

With All My Soul (Soul Screamers, #7)

What does it mean when your school is voted the most dangerous in America? It's time to kick some hellion butt...

After not really surviving her junior year (does "undead" count as survival?), Kaylee Cavanaugh has vowed to take back her school from the hellions causing all the trouble. She's going to find a way to turn the incarnations of Avarice, Envy and Vanity against one another in order to protect her friends and finish this war, once and forever.

But then she meets Wrath and understands that she's closer to the edge than she's ever been. And when one more person close to her is taken, Kaylee realizes she can't save everyone she loves without risking everything she has...

Amazon
Amazon UK

I can’t believe I’ve reached the end of this series! All the characters have grown on me, and it’s become one of my favourite paranormal series. I’m sorry to finish it, but it was such a perfect ending.

Kaylee has had enough of the Hellions constantly targeting her friends and loved ones, and is desperate to find a way to stop them. But everything comes with a price, and the real test is just how much Kaylee is prepared to sacrifice for others, knowing that she is the reason Avari keeps coming after her friends. We really see how much she has matured as a character as she risks it all, and Rachel Vincent doesn’t hold back as she literally puts her protagonist through hell!

The final book in the Soul Screamers is packed with plot twists, surprises, humour and heartbreak, and I was completely sucked in. The ending is completely satisfying and all the characters’ stories are tied up wonderfully. This is a definite must-read series with a strong protagonist, well-developed side characters, an original take on the paranormal and an emotionally engaging and gripping story. I can’t recommend it enough!


Rating: *****

Wednesday, 19 March 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 Elantris by Brandon Sanderson and The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke. I really enjoyed both! Now I'm reading Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig, whose blog I've been following for a while because it's freakin' hilarious (seriously, check out his post about the varied emotional stages of writing a book...). Blackbirds is gritty, intense and original!

What I'm writing

I'm still drafting my YA UF (SO close to the end!) and doing some plotting work on my next project. I'm also making a revision plan for my YA post-apocalyptic - I got my first feedback on the draft, and it doesn't completely suck! Hooray! :D

What inspires me right now

Getting confidence back in my YA post-apocalyptic book! I've never felt so conflicted about finishing a book as I did with this one, but thanks to the feedback I got, I've started to figure out how to fix all the problems and it actually seems do-able! I've mentioned before that my writing tends to take a nose-dive in the winter months due to a combination of SAD and being stuck indoors all the time, but surprisingly, this draft came out relatively intact. Uh...possibly because it's about the end of the world, and is intense and angsty. So, there's that. But on the bright side, I have a plan, and I'm ready to start revising! ^_^

What else I've been up to

I went to stay with my boyfriend for a few days, and we went to watch The Book Thief, which was so good! We also went back to Lancaster for a gig on Saturday, which was...strange. I've only been there once since I graduated, and it's weird not being a student anymore. I seriously miss it. BUT, I got some fantastic news when I was there - the Editorial Director of Entangled Ignite was looking for new assistants. I've been interning with Entangled for the past ten months and I was absolutely thrilled to be promoted to Assistant Editor! And I've received my first manuscript to work on already! :D

Only downside is that whenever I go away, the universe sends out a signal for ALL THE THINGS to fall on my head, and my internet decided to be awkward for a few days. So I'm still playing catch-up! But it's all good!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Monday Mini-Reviews - One and Two by Leigh Ann Kopans

One (One Universe, #1)

When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin's mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub's internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it's more important to fly solo, or to save everything - and everyone - she loves.


Wow! One is a fantastic take on superpowers which hooked me from beginning to end. In a world where certain people are gifted “Supers”, possessing astonishing abilities like flying and teleportation, Merrin is the odd one out in her family, only having half a superpower. As a One, she can only hover, not fly, like she dreams of doing. A potential internship at the Hub science institute could offer her the chance to “fix” her broken genes and learn to fly. But when she meets Elias, another One, their gifts unexpectedly combine to make them both fly. At the same time, there’s a sinister purpose at work at the Biotech lab, which threatens everyone she loves.

I loved Merrin. It’s refreshing to have a YA protagonist who’s both a relatable teen and has a life outside their love interest – Merrin’s a genius at science and has a passion for playing the drums loudly. She’s strong and independent and focused on her goals, and her relationship with Elias is sweet and realistic. All the characters are well-drawn and realistic, and I was completely invested in the story. The plot’s so well-thought-out and creative, I’ve honestly never read anything quite like it, and I’m thrilled that I picked up the sequel already – I’m starting Two right away!


Rating: *****

Two (One Universe #2)

Elias and Merrin are on the run.

After escaping the Biotech Hub, they thought they could breathe easy, or at least a little easier. But when bombs slam into the Social Welfare Hub only hours after their arrival, it becomes clear there's nowhere to hide - and no end to what Biotech will do to get them back. 

Their last chance for safety and answers is the Clandestine Service Hub. CS has intel on the real, broader purpose behind Fisk’s experiments , and the newfound knowledge of the horrors hidden deep within Biotech’s walls sends Merrin back to recover a secret formula that could ruin the Supers’ world forever—and might just save the lives of the Biotech victims spiraling out of control.

Elias' sisters are counted among the victims of Fisk’s experiments, and if Elias can't find and help them, their powers will destroy them--sooner rather than later. Returning to the place it all began terrifies him, but with Fisk ready to make an example out of Merrin, and his sisters’ lives --and the lives of all Supers--hanging in the balance, he might not have a choice. If he can't find the courage to face his worst fears, Elias might lose more than his newfound powers. 

He might lose everyone he loves.

Two begins right where One ends, and Merrin and Elias are in a heap of trouble! This time the story is told in Elias’s perspective, as he and Merrin flee the Biotech Hub.
The Clandestine Service Hub is the last place for safety, but Elias’s sisters remain Biotech’s prisoners, their superpowers spiralling out of control thanks to the experiments they were subjected to. Worse, Merrin is willing to put her life in danger for a chance to find a “cure” for her One-ness.

This was just as gripping and emotionally engaging as the first book! I love the lead characters, and we also get to meet some other new faces, too. Elias’s and Merrin’s relationship goes through some struggles as she still pursues her dream to fly, while Elias is more concerned with a normal life with his sisters. I honestly couldn’t predict how things would turn out, and there’s the perfect mix of action and romance. It’s refreshing to have a two-part series rather than another dystopian trilogy, and in Two’s case, it absolutely works. I recommend this series to anyone looking for a unique take on superpowers!


Rating: *****

Friday, 14 March 2014

Review - The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)


The Passage meets The Hunger Games in a gripping new series from Carnegie-shortlisted Rick Yancey. After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave. On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, until Cassie meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope for rescuing her brother and even saving herself. Now she must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. Cassie Sullivan gets up.

Firstly, I must be the last person in the world to read this book. Secondly, I’m an idiot for waiting so long. The 5th Wave had some serious hype, and it’s easy to see why. It has that addictive, can’t-put-it-down quality, a thrilling plot with echoes of The Hunger Games and the best alien-invasion books (parts of it reminded me of War of the Worlds). To put it simply: the Earth has been invaded, and the aliens aren’t friendly.

The first ¼ of the book sets up the situation through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Cassie, one of the few people lucky (or unlucky!) enough to live through the first four waves of destruction. The first took out the world’s power supply; the second caused a wave of natural disasters; the third was a deadly virus that took out 97% of the population –and the fourth turned humans against each other. Cassie has one mission: find her brother, who was taken away from their camp moments before the 4th Wave hit.

We meet a varied cast of characters, including Ben – or Zombie – and a bunch of other children who are inducted into a brutal military training camp. The pace is relentless and the gripping tension is what makes this book so difficult to put down.

The one part that didn’t grab me was the romance. I just didn’t feel it – it seemed to come out of nowhere, almost, and wasn’t quite convincing. Also, I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve read a LOT of YA books over the past few years, but I found some of the plot twists a bit predictable. But the tension and suspense, the underlying themes of the human condition and survival, make this a fantastic read – one I’d recommend to anyone looking to be totally engrossed in a book!

Rating:****1/2*


Wednesday, 12 March 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 some great books by fellow CQ authors - Wind-Up Hearts by Stan Swanson and Missing Parts by Ethan Mawyer.

I also read Into the Still Blue, the conclusion to the Under the Never Sky trilogy, and I loved it! Now this is how you end a series! :D

Finally, I read The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, a gripping thriller set in London about a killer imitating Jack the Ripper and a girl who can see ghosts. Creepy stuff!

What I'm writing

Forging ahead with the WIP, and I've also been working on my next one, which I plan to draft next month for Camp NaNoWriMo! I also finished edits on Walking Shadow (Darkworld #2) and sent them to my editor! *eek* One more round of edits left, then a proofread. Getting there! :D


What inspires me right now

My next WIP. Which I'm not supposed to be writing yet. But inspiration won out! I'm kind of in love with the two main characters already. :)

What else I've been up to

The usual - work, manuscript reading, watching Buffy, travelling up north to visit my boyfriend.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Spring Writing Bootcamp Update #1!

YAB-Spring-Writing-Challenge-2014.jpg

Goal Status: Still drafting the WIP, and working on the outline for my next one.  In the past week, I've written 9000 words, bringing the total up to 50K. 

I also wrote the first 2000 words of my next WIP already, because I was trying to figure out the voice and whether it would work better in first or third person. I tried both, but third person worked out better. I can't wait to start working on this one! ^_^

How's everyone else getting on? :)

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Spring Writing Bootcamp!

YAB-Spring-Writing-Challenge-2014.jpg

To kick-start my Spring writing goals, I'm joining the YA Buccaneers Spring Writing Bootcamp! It runs from March through to the end of May, and the YA Buccaneers are planning loads of great-sounding blog posts to motivate us. ^_^ We'll be updating on Mondays with progress towards our goals, and using the #YABbootcamp hashtag to connect on Twitter. 

My goals for the next three months are:

  • To finish drafting this WIP (hopefully by the end of March!)
  • To start my new WIP in April, using CampNaNoWriMo to write all the words!
  • To revise my YA post-apocalyptic WIP - I'm getting feedback from a CP next week, after which I'll revise and then send out to more readers. So this is ongoing over the next few months.
Come and join in the fun! :)

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 read Cress, which I LOVED! These books keep getting better and better, and I don't know how I'm going to wait a whole year for Winter, the final book!

I've decided I need to read more sci-fi! I read Two by Leigh Ann Kopans and Ultraviolet Catastrophe by Jamie Grey, and then the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis. This has been on my list for ages! I read all three books in two days - I literally couldn't put them down! I was lucky to have some reading time this weekend when I finally reached the bottom of my to-do list, so I made the most of it!

What I'm writing

Carrying on with my WIP. I want to finish the draft by the end of the month, which is hopefully achievable! I'm also doing more plotting work on the hopefully-next WIP. My main issue at the moment is deciding whether I want to write this one in first or third person, past or present tense. Too many choices!

I signed the contract for Darkworld Book 3, too, and I started first-round edits on Walking Shadow (Darkworld #2). It's been a long road, but we're finally getting there! ^_^

What inspires me right now

It's March! Spring is coming! *dances* Well, the weather hasn't changed much, but we can hope!

What else I've been up to

Watching anime, reading, internship and freelance work. Making lists. Wondering how it's March already (where is the year going?!). Et cetera.

Picture


It's also time for my March IWSG post! 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.


To everyone stuck in the middle of a draft (aka, a message I need to stick on my wall):

You are not alone.

You haven't forgotten how to write a book.

This happens to everyone. Even published authors. Even bestsellers.

This is completely normal.

DO NOT PANIC.

And here's a pep talk from Neil Gaiman.

Oh, the evil middle of the draft. *sigh* This happens every single book - and I'm currently writing my 12th! The first third of the book is great. I get into my stride, love my world and characters, and the word count keeps building. Then, around 25K in or so, everything grinds to a halt. Plot threads tangle. Characters are disobedient. My beautifully crafted outline collapses in on itself. Each 1000 words are a battle of wills. It feels like I'll never reach the end. Then, at long last, something clicks. Everything resolves itself, and I power-type to the last word. Unfortunately, with my current WIP, that hasn't happened yet. I had to rewrite my entire outline a few days ago, and I'm still stranded out at sea. You'd think this would get easier with each book. You'd think signing my fifth publishing contract this week might make it a little easier. But nope. Ah, well. Nothing to do but to keep typing!

Here's my latest method of avoiding panic: setting a timer. I know it's something I should be doing anyway, but I work best when multi-tasking - strange, but true! Unfortunately, it doesn't make for productiveness when the draft needs my full attention or it'll morph into a many-armed Lovecraftian monster. So I'm going to start setting half-hour timers in which I'll shut everything else off and Just Write. That's write, not panic and flail around, or check emails, or obsess over queries and my never-ending to-do list and the ever-building pile of WIP's that need revising/redrafting (possibly another reason for insecurity: I'm now juggling five series in different stages. FIVE.). Between waiting on final edits on Walking Shadow (Darkworld #2), waiting on first feedback on a different WIP, querying another and planning another to start writing next month, I definitely need more focus. So, timers! I'll see if it works...

Saturday, 1 March 2014

#WIPMarathon Report #1

Last report wordcount + chapter count/scene count: I was at 8000 words of the YA Urban Fantasy WIP at the end of last month.
Current report WC + CC/ SC: Now I'm at 39,000 words, so I've written 31K this month! :)
WIP Issues This Month: After a productive writing month in January, February had a rather shaky start. Plus I received editorial notes on Darkworld Book 3, so that took priority for a bit. I'm now in the evil middle section of the draft, too, so I've been doing the usual back-and-forth routine of thinking it sucks and thinking it isn't too bad...well, I've written quite a few books now, and this happens every single book, without fail! 
Four things I learned this month in writing: 
  • Writing processes evolve with each draft and vary with each project. For nine out of twelve novels I've written, the first draft's been short and insubstantial, needing layers and descriptions added later. But knowing my own weaknesses has made me more determined to tackle them in the first draft. This won't work for everyone, but I've always written grammatically clean first drafts, even if they do have gaping plot holes... I've discovered that it is possible to fast-draft and not skimp on details. Whether this actually improves the quality of the draft, I don't know - but it helps to have a draft which doesn't feel like an outline!
  • This one I kind of learned the hard way, but having too many characters is confusing for the reader. It's better to have a smaller cast of memorable characters, which sometimes means combining several into one - this post has some great advice about that!
  • I've been plotting out a new trilogy, and plotting is one of the things I find hardest (despite being incapable of writing without a plan!). When I'm mired in the middle of the draft, I find it hard to juggle all the plot lines because inevitably the characters try to do their own thing. But I found this great series of posts on Janice Hardy's blog about her plotting system, and it fits really well with my own new system of using beat sheets to keep the story on track!
  • I need to be in a certain mind-set when I'm drafting. I find it relatively easy to shut off the outside world (even with the Internet constantly clamouring for attention! :P) but it's much harder to shut out the voices telling me I'm not good enough...especially when the voices are coming from the real world (well, the Internet). Hence why I took a social media hiatus earlier this month. I'm trying to pay more attention to the voices telling me I'm awesome, instead. :)

What distracted me this month while writing: This month I've had all kinds of distractions, from technological meltdowns to crises of confidence. I've had a lot of disappointments and knockbacks and early this month I had to take an internet hiatus due to physically being unable to write because of the level of negativity I was dealing with. But on the other hand, there have been good distractions! Like going to Swansea with my boyfriend for our Valentine's break. And Twitter conversations with awesome people. ^_^ And, in the past week, signing the contract for Darkworld Book 3 AND being offered a contract for my novella! :D
Goal for next month: My goals for March are to:
  •  Carry on with this draft and hopefully finish it (my goal is a 65-70K first draft).
  • Finish plotting my next book (a YA contemporary fantasy trilogy I'm crazy-excited about!) ready to start in April!
  • Walking Shadow edits - hopefully in the next couple of weeks! :)
  • Start first-round beta revisions for my YA post-apocalyptic fantasy.
Last 200 words: (This is from the second chapter of my current draft, a YA urban fantasy. For some context, Isla, the protagonist, is the only person in her family without a magical gift - at least until she accidentally picks up a talisman containing a spirit which binds itself to her...)


Her tiny human voice was barely audible even to her own ears, but the Power heard her. She felt the pressure lift from her spine and straightened up.
‘You are not gifted.’
The words fell like stones upon her. Somehow, hearing them in that terrible, beautiful voice gave them ten times the weight, and she felt herself stoop again as though they were physical things lying over her. Angry tears sprang to her eyes.
‘So?’ she whispered, to the ground.
‘Yet one of ours has chosen you.’
Isla blinked up at him. The sunlight had dimmed, and now he was the only source of light - a piece of radiance standing amongst the trees. His skin glowed golden, and his eyes glittered like pieces of amber crystal.
‘Be ready,’ he murmured, his voice as subtle as a slow-moving river current.
‘For what?’
The gargoyle figurine moved in her hand. She almost dropped it, lifting it to eye level. This time she didn’t imagine it - the gargoyle’s long face moved of its own accord, its tiny black eyes rotating and fixing upon hers. Its mouth opened, revealing tiny, sharp teeth.
‘Be ready,’ the sidhe murmured again -
And the light went out.