October 2019 Wrap Up

This month seems to have been really busy. I went on my first trip abroad with friends which was great. We went to Amsterdam, which is a really beautiful and interesting city. I also ordered my first Fairyloot box – the October ‘Love at First Bite’ box. More on that to come in my unboxing post soon.

Reading

This month I read The Beautiful by Reneé Ahdieh (an eARC received through NetGalley) and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Both are authors I have read and enjoyed before. I loved both books and gave them solid 4 stars, although I’d say Six of Crows is stronger in terms of the writing quality. The Beautiful is an alluring and mysterious historical novel set in 1800s New Orleans with vampires! Meanwhile Six of Crows is a heist novel set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse. I’m super excited to see her characters brought to life on TV (Netflix are adapting her books!). I’ve also started reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell which I’m about halfway through so far.

Book Haul

I bought four books this month, all from Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass series. I read the first two on Kindle but I loved them so much I really wanted to read the rest as physical copies. When I love a book, I like to be able to see it on my shelf!

Writing

I’ve continued working on my current WIP which is a YA fantasy. I’m now about halfway through the book and enjoying immersing myself in this new world. As it’s a first draft I’m trying not to dwell too much on getting in perfect and just get some words down on paper. I can always go back and edit it later.

This month has been pretty busy but I still managed to get some reading and writing done so I can be pretty happy with that.

Writing Corner: Your Cast of Characters

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged about writing, so I’ve decided it’s time to get back into the swing of sharing my thoughts. I’ve been writing for around 13 years now, and have completed four novels and one novella. I’ve learnt a lot over the years, and hope someone will find these posts useful. It is always important to remember though, that writing is a constant learning process! No matter how long you have been writing for, there is always more to learn and discover about the craft, and your own processes.

The cast of characters in your books includes all of the named characters. The protagonist is the focus of your story, but the other characters, and the overall cast, are also really important.

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A Writer’s Journey – Part 2

You can read part 1 of my writing journey here, or dive straight in with part 2.

In my last post, I told you about my early writings and how my writing developed over my teenage years. Finishing the novella was a significant moment and gave me so much more confidence. In 2013 I started work on a new book for the Extended Project Qualification. The project was alongside my second year of A-levels, so it was a very busy time. Most other people wrote essays, I could have written a short story. For some reason I decided to write a whole novel for a qualification I’d get an actual mark for, when I’d not yet finished a whole novel. Perhaps it was over-ambitious, but I had the belief that I could do it.

This was the first novel I planned out chapter by chapter, in the hopes it would keep me on track. And it worked. I finished it in three months. At the age of 17 I finished my first novel. Inspired by studying psychology, the book was about a girl who develops schizophrenia and her journey. It was more serious than anything I’d written before, although it was still in the young adult genre. I wrote it almost in a trance. The words just poured out of me. I’d never had a feeling quite like it before. It all came together, and somehow it just felt right. That book will always have a special place in my heart, and I would like to see it published some day. I haven’t touched it since then, because I knew I would need to develop my writing skills more and come back to it to be able to make it the best it could be.

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A Writer’s Journey – Part 1

My writing journey, as far as I can remember, started when I was nine years old. I probably dabbled in writing before then, but there is a particular time that I really remember properly getting into it. For my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary all of their closest family met up during the Easter holidays in 2006, including me and my parents. To keep me entertained, I had a little green notepad, which I started writing short stories in. I still have this notepad! At the time I was very interested in Ancient Greece as we had been studying it at school, particularly myths. So I wrote my own myths and even drew little drawings to go with them.

The next thing I remember working on was a series of stories probably inspired by Tomb Raider: Legend, which was the first proper single-player action game I played. I wrote two ‘books’ in the series (they were very, very short, only a few pages).

Only a year later in 2008, I advanced to planning an epic fantasy series. Probably as a result of reading The Lord of the Rings. I spent ages drawing maps and characters. I wrote 23,000 words of the first book, which is a pretty substantial amount compared to my previous efforts. I dabbled in the other books in the series (they were connected but separate ‘parts’ of an overall series), and wrote around 42,000 words of the series in total over the course of about three years.

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Swoon Reads Now Accepting All Genres!

In an announcement today, Swoon Reads have revealed that they are now accepting all genres of young adult and new adult fiction for submission. Their website has also been redesigned and looks less romancy. Swoon Reads prints under the Feiwel and Friends imprint of Macmillan. Writers submit their novels to the Swoon Reads website and every few months a selection of novels are chosen to be published.

Previously, only romance novels were accepted (including fantasy romance, sci-fi romance etc.) but they are now accepting submissions for all genres. This is good news for anyone who writes YA/NA without a heavy romance aspect. It’s an interesting move by the publisher, and I think it could make the site even more popular. By opening it up to more than just romance, they may get more people reading and submitting. I’ve known of the site for a while but I don’t generally write romance novels. There’s often a romance subplot, but it’s not the focus, so none of my books would have been applicable. Now, if I want, I have the option to submit to them.

It doesn’t seem like there’s anything to lose and I reckon it’s worth a shot for anyone who’s written/writing a YA or NA book. There requirement is that the book be exclusively on the site for 6 months (i.e. you can’t submit it to other publishers or agents during that time), which seems reasonable. If accepted, it’s also apparently a standard publishing contract.

I’ll be keeping an eye on how this one develops.

The Art of Words

Words. Crafted in the depths of the imagination. Fuelled by the emotions and motivations that determine our existence. Words. They leap off the page when we read them. They teach us. They soothe us. They make us angry. They make us cry. What is it about the written word that is so enchanting?

They flow from the pen of the writer or from the tap of their fingers racing across the keyboard, to pour out the images bursting in their minds. Writing is a craft, to be sure, that can be learnt, developed and improved upon. Any craft needs practice, and writing is no exception. Yet there is something so non-clinical about writing, about the way stories can paint themselves with words.

As any book lover will know, when you enter a bookshop or a library you are stepping into a cavern of wonders. When you open a book you step inside – you step inside Narnia. The carefully designed spines are all aligned, pointing towards you, wanting you to reach out and carefully slide it from its place and turn the smooth cover over in your hands. The smell may be of freshly printed pages or of paper that has been passed from hand to hand, imagination to imagination, over the years. Flicking the pages and seeing the words printed, waiting to be absorbed.

With our newly claimed book we retreat to a nook or cranny, or the summer air of the outdoors, and peel open the pages to reveal what is inside. The journey is commenced.

The printed words on the page of a book. So quickly devoured. Yet the artist has spent hours, weeks, months, years poring over every single detail, every plot point, every character, every word. Carefully crafting the story before your eyes until it is ready, until the story tells itself. Until it is ready to be passed on. The writer hands over their work, their creation, into the hands of others. Their energy and emotion caught in those words.

What if there were magic in the world? We read stories of wizards and dragons. Yet if we look carefully there is magic here. Our magic is the ink itself. There is magic in words. Words that have the power to provoke feeling. They tug at our heartstrings or make our fingers curl around the pages with anticipation and suspense.

Words. They are alive. They spin, circle, and align to create patterns. Form pictures, images. More than that – grand paintings flowing around the walls of the imagination room. It is there. Inside the mind. Blank walls. Blank floor. Blank ceiling. All white. The words dance. They draw their stories, covering the whiteness in colour.

I sit with the book open on my lap. Sun shining through the window. And I fall in. I fall into the page, into the words. I fall down the rabbit hole and into the C of Chapter One.