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Fandom

Fandom (consisting of fan [fanatic] plus the suffix -dom, as in kingdomfreedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices (a fandom); this is what differentiates “fannish” (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.

The above was taken from Wikipedia. 

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Onto my blogpost now:

Oddly, I’ve never really been part of fandom, not in the way I understood it to be.  I mean, I have every single box set of Supernatural and I have seen every single episode, the same with Buffy, Angel and gods, quite a few other tv shows and movies too, and books (obviously) yet I’ve never thought I’d become as deeply involved in a show to the distraction of anything else.

Well, it’s happened.  And as usual for me, I’ve come late to it.

I’m talking about Teen Wolf.

I know, what possibly could be of interest to me in Teen Wolf? Sure, the cast is ridiculously good looking (and young) but what else is there? Well, basically it’s the whole package and not just the cast looking hot.  The writing is top notch.  Jeff Davis and his team are doing incredible work on each season with each series having it’s own narrative, big bad and pitfalls for the cast of characters, but there’s also great character development for the secondary characters, which is unusual to see in a lot of shows.

Teen Wolf – Season 1 Cast

What I love too is the fact that the cast is diverse – across the board.  And I’m not talking about colour of skin either.  I’m talking about how the characters are portrayed within themselves and the sexual choices they make.  Danny, played by , is openly gay.  This is never a thing, a negative thing, which is nice to see in a TV this popular with kids it’s actually aimed at and adults like me.   And it’s never hidden – we see Danny hang out with his boyfriends, kissing and going to the Winter Dance.  That’s really cool.  Later in another series there’s a female couple who’ve snuck off into the woods to have some alone time as their lives are too busy and noisy and all they wanted was some quiet time.  Never once is there a thing about it and no nudge nudge wink wink.  Progressive and freeing!

Much Danny Love!

Another thing I like is how the one main character, Stiles, has this close relationship with his dad.  Even if he has to lie to him (because you can’t tell your dad your best mate is a werewolf and there are werewolves wandering around the local nature reserve) he does his utmost to protect his dad and help him with these impossible cases his dad as the Sheriff has to undertake.  Also, our main Teen Wolf character, Scott McCall has a very powerful and strong mum who is funny and charming and as full of beans as her son.  I like that the parents are on-screen.  Of course there’s Chris Argent, the other main character’s (Allison’s) dad who is a Bad Man in that he’s the head of a family that hunts werewolves….DRAMA DRUMS.  And also, the two main female cast characters are strong and their stories are developed throughout the show, which is great.  Lydia is especially well written and I can on one hand count a bunch of girls I went to school with who remind me of her.

Another thing I love above Teen Wolf is that it’s happy to play around with mythology, sticking with origins and the usual things but mixing it up too.  In a sense it does what Supernatural did way back in the beginning with its monster-a-week episodes but then it fell by the wayside for other bigger themes.   In Teen Wolf we’ve got wolves, banshees, druids…other things and we’re only just starting on the second part of Season 3.  Not bad going.

I fell love with Teen Wolf by accident.  I’m a card-carrying TW Girl.  I’ve been pinning and tumblring posts about it and I’m having a great time reading people’s thoughts on the show.  I love the fandom.  I love that there are people out there who have thinky thoughts about this show and the characters and that the showrunners are aware of the fandom.  It’s this…weirdly creative symbiosis. There are incredible bits of meta essays written about the lore of the world and about the characters.  Everything is examined in minute detail and well, blow me away if that doesn’t make me happy.

So, there it is.  I love fandom and I love Teen Wolf for being a fun and creative show with writers and directors clearly loving what they do.  Here’s hoping they trust themselves and what they’ve created and get the chance to see the show run its course.

I’ve got a lot of friends who are into fandom and so I asked my bestie to give me her six pence and here it is:

Sarah says: 

I am a fully-signed up member of many fandoms and proudly so; Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Sherlock, Austen, Elementary, The Moomins (that last one may not be the biggest fandom but it’s a thing, definitely). I’m in love with the way that Tumblr has become my go-to place to keep them all alive. I mean, there’s going to be a thousand-year wait until the next Sherlock series – I need as many gifs as possible between now and then. I think they give like-minded people a chance to share with each other and that includes the wonders of fanfiction. There’s a dark side too though, as there is with most things. A fandom which turns its collective mind against individuals or groups is a horrible thing to witness and that can be seen all to often on Twitter. Basically, celebrate your passions but never let it take over your reason or common human decency.

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So, come one, spill – what are your fandoms?

Mirrored from Liz de Jager.

Agent Interview – Juliet Mushens

I thought it would be great to catch up with my agent, Juliet Mushens, after my first initial interview with her all that time ago and do a follow-up Q&A.  Juliet readily agreed because she’s awesome but also because she knows how much dis-information is out there about being an agent and what people are looking for.

Thanks to Juliet for taking the time out to do this at a very busy start of 2014.  I hope you guys enjoy this and that you take something away from it.

1. You’ve been doing regular #askagent events on Twitter with other agents.  Have you found that these help those querying you?

I think so, yes – lots of writers comment that it stops them panicking about the little issues, and also gives then the kick up the arse to actually submit! I think writers often find agents mysterious and scary, and #askagent breaks down that misconception. We give up our free time on weekends to do it so I hope it conveys how passionate we are about finding good books!

The submissions I get where people reference #askagent tend to be much more focused, so I do feel that people take the advice on board, which is great.

2. When I interviewed you back in August 2012 (I’d been with you a mere WEEK!) you mentioned your wishlist - http://www.lizdejager.co.uk/2012/08/interview-with-juliet-mushens/ - what has changed for the things you’re looking for?

Oh I found some of those things! THE MINIATURIST by Jessie Burton (Picador) is a big literary historical fiction novel and she actually submitted to me after reading that interview. I also have a great psychological thriller HIS OTHER HALF by Claire Douglas (Harper) coming out next year. Plus tons of original epic fantasy eg Den Patrick (Gollancz), James Oswald (Michael Joseph) and Jen Williams (Headline).

I’m still looking for lots of things though. I’d love to find a serial killer thriller, a ghost story, historical crime, non-Western fantasy and everything in between. Often the things I sign are really unexpected though – something I’d never think I’m looking for can end up surprising me. I represent everything except writing for under-10s, picture-books, sports and diet books. So don’t feel put off submitting just because I haven’t specifically said I’m looking for the exact thing you are writing!

3. Your email pings, you think: maybe this is golden and yet…what pulls you out of a submission and makes you think this isn’t one for you?

There can be lots of things which stop me from calling in a full manuscript. Common pitfalls are: too much exposition, too much focus on small details (she got up… She walked to the sofa… She sat on the sofa… She picked up the remote… Etc), unrealistic dialogue and unbelievable characters. I think that establishing character quickly and well is key. If I buy into a character I can often overlook other things.

4.  Do you ever refer someone who’s submitted to you to another agent whom you think may be more suitable?

Not often, but occasionally. I have taken on someone after a referral before, and I will recommend other people if I think their list is more suitable.
Juliet headshot (1)
5.  You and I did some intense edits on Blackhart (now Banished) after I submitted to you.  Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve worked editorially with a client and they decided not to have you submit it to an editor or chose to self-publish it?

No, never. If people sign with an agent they want to be traditionally published, and are committing to that process. I’d be fairly annoyed if someone used me essentially as a free editorial service!

6.  Can you lift the lid as to what happens once a manuscript is ready to go out editors? What happens on your side and what is your advice to authors during this time?

Once the manuscript is ready I prepare a submission list of editors. I’ll call them all, write a pitch and send them the book, whilst laying out the rights I’m offering. I’ll also send the book out to literary scouts (whose job it is to scout out hot books for foreign publishers), foreign publishers and our US office.

Sometimes a publisher will offer a lot of money very quickly (called a pre-empt), to take the book off the table. Sometimes several publishers offer in which case you have an auction. Some publishers want to meet the author first, and sometimes only one publisher bids. The process can really vary and no one way is the ‘right’ way.

My advice to authors is to relax, stop hitting refresh on your email or you’ll get RSI, and try and busy yourself with other things! Also, restrain yourself from sending the ‘any news???’ email every few days (I know it’s hard). Your agent will absolutely keep you up to date if there is any news, and the process takes time. Some books sell within days and others take months, so you need to relax and try and distract yourself. Maybe take up meditation. Or golf.

7. What exactly happens at bookfairs, Juliet? What does it even mean? Is it open to the public and is it worthwhile for authors to attend?

Book fairs are my chance to meet publishers from all over the world. In advance my agency prepares a ‘rights guide’ which lists all of the titles we have out or coming out, when they are publishing, and the territories sold. Our goal is to conclude more deals and get more requests from publishers around the world to consider the manuscripts we represent.

Every 30 minutes we have a meeting with foreign publishers where we go through the rights guide and they tell us which books they are interested in. Some of the publishers will already have rights to publish some of my books and we might discuss when the translatable manuscript is due, when they are publishing it, the cover, or sales figures.

I have meetings between 9am and 6pm each day and the follow-up – of sending requested manuscripts – takes weeks to do. It’s a hectic time!

It’s very much a business to business event rather than something which involves authors directly, however some of the fairs do have events for authors. I’ll be talking at London Book Fair about finding an agent and the publishing process, for example. I came to London Book Fair when I was at university and enjoyed wandering around, but as everyone has back to back meetings it isn’t hugely public-friendly!

8. You have an assistant – Sarah – working closely with you now.  What does her role entail when it comes to new submissions but also going forward with existing clients?

I tend to read my own submissions but Sarah often reads alongside me. She has great taste which I really trust and we tend to agree editorially. Writers often get hung up on their work being read by assistants rather than the agents but good assistants are always keen to find exciting projects in the slushpile. I started out as an assistant and was a huge champion for the writers I found and loved, really encouraging the agents I worked for to read their work and offer representation.

With clients going forward, a good assistant also offers editorial thoughts and can answer most questions if I’m away. It’s just great to have an extra pair of hands and a fresh pair of eyes!

Enough with the serious questions! Two quick ones.

9.  What non-work related books are you reading at the moment?

Currently reading ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ by Scott Lynch and ‘Love Nina’ by Nina Stibbe.

I’ve just finished ‘The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made’ by Greg Sestero. The Room is the worst film of all time and I’ve seen it three times! Seriously, look it up on YouTube. Greg starred in the trainwreck of a film and I hoped the book would reveal more hilarious stories behind the scenes. It did, but it was also smart and surprisingly moving. It reminded me that good non-fiction can transport you just as much as fiction can.

10. What vice aren’t you giving up for 2014?

Oh I never give things up for the New Year! I’ll definitely carry on reading Mills & Boon regency romance novels (got to love a pirate captain: no chemise is safe), rapping at karaoke, and spending too much money on dresses. I hope to still be enjoying those vices well into retirement.

You can follow Juliet on twitter: @mushenska  or, find her info at The Agency Group’s website.

Mirrored from Liz de Jager.

Aaand onwards!

It’s my first day back in the office for about two weeks and it’s jarring.  However! The sun has come out and the skies are that brilliant blue that make a lie out of the storm we had a mere half an hour ago.

As of today, Banished is 52 days away from being published.  Needless to say the levels of fear and excitement are pretty much on par.  Here’s a pie chart to indicate what things are like for me right now:

Pie

Yes, I’m procrastinating about actually doing anything work-related as my brain has kinda melted by having to get up this early as per normal.  Also, I’ve not been sleeping well these past few weeks.  And it’s mostly because of guilt.

I don’t understand it either.  I made my deadline and sent the book in to my editor for editing and yet..YET, I wandered around the house during my brief break and felt this weird loss inside me.

I picked up books to read and put them down.  I watched a few movies, I slept loads, I got trapped in the house as our front door swelled shut (not as exciting as it sounds) and I couldn’t get out until our postie kicked it in for me…and I went walking in the local park  pondering All The Things and yet I felt lost and weirdly empty.

It was because I didn’t have anything to write, I realised.  I made myself sit down at my laptop the one evening Mark was upstairs on the PS3 and I wrote a random scene.  Which lead to more random scenes.  And slowly a story unfolded and so I jotted some thoughts down about who the characters are, what they looked like, what they did / didn’t do, stuff like that.  What surprised me endlessly is that it was a contemporary YA with romantic elements but a bit crimey/thrillery at it’s heart.  It was something I’d never tried writing in the past and it felt like quite a rush.  It’s a feeling that’s addictive.

This story made me think of something else I wanted to write for ages.  So I made more notes and opened another document and wrote some random scenes, test-driving the characters and points of view.  I went searching on Pinterest and found pictures that covered both these stories and pinned them with glee.

Notes

Notes wot I wroted

And all the time I was playing with these two stories, other ideas kept coming and so I gave in and made notes on them too, along with twisty turney bits for Book 3 which I can only tackle once I’ve had feedback from my editor because of stuff happening in Book 2 that need resolving.  *scared yet mysterious face*

Bizarrely, I no longer feel lost.  Or empty – because I’d done something to do with my writing. I’d created words that quite possibly may not go anywhere at all, except sit higgledypiggledy in that Ideas Notebook 2014/1.  The point is I wrote something, anything, and I challenged myself by tackling something a bit different.

The way I felt, walking away from the notes, drove home the point that it’s not something I can’t not do.  I suddenly felt comfortable in my skin, like I could breathe and not just shallow city-breaths either but long full seaside breaths.  Also, that weird bits of dialogue that kept cropping up in my head now had somewhere to go.

I’m not really sure what the point of this blogpost really is, apart from saying: if you’re a writer, write.  Just keep doing it.  For your own sanity and those around you.

 

 

 

Mirrored from Liz de Jager.

Want to be a character in Book 3?

I’m very honoured to take part in the Authors for the Philippines initiative that’s been put together by a few hard working YA authors.   The site can be found by clicking the bolded link above, and the link to what it’s about is over here.

As I don’t have physical copies of my book to offer to anyone, or swag, for that matter, (as yet) but I thought I’d offer something else that’s a little bit different: I will use your name, if you win the bid, in Book 3 for a new character.  Book 3 is only a rough plan so far, and I kinda know what’s going to happen (a lot of stuff & mad shenanigans!) and there will be a load of named characters.  I can’t guarantee that your character will survive book 3, let’s be clear on that.  I will promise that if your named character should die, that it will be a heroic and epic death. *tiny violin of feels*  You also get to be a side-kick in a short story that will take place between books 2 and 3.  You should survive the short story.  (Muah ha ha)

So, this is your chance to get your name into The Blackhart Legacy for a great cause.   The link to my bit of auction can be found here, but do go and have a look at what else is on offer.  Tonnes of swag, signed books, manuscript critiques and all manner of things can be snagged if you’re the highest bidder.

I’ve bid on a signed (and dedicated) hard back copy of Candy Gourlay’s new novel: SHINE.  And I’m pretty sure I’ll be bidding on more as more items will keep on being added as the word spreads and more authors, editors and agents hear about it.

So, do please tweet about it, Facebook about it, tell your friends about it the initiative and lets help friends we’ve yet to meet who live on the other side of the world.

 

Mirrored from Liz de Jager.

For the love of coffee shops!

I love them. I love the buzz of them.  I don’t mind really what type they are – small independents (although they are the best when run well and they offer great service) or larger chains (where the staff know you by name and start making your chai latte as you walk in).

I find them comforting places to hang out.  This is one place where I know how to act and where I’m not self-conscious.  I know, it’s weird.

I sent my 2kg manuscript back to the publishers yesterday, neatly wrapped with a ribbon, with my notes on the proof pages and my obvious debut author mistakes highlighted.  So I’ve given myself today “off” from writing.  The physical writing bit, that is!

But my brain is working overtime because I’m remembering Banished really well at the moment and I’m working on Vowed currently and I knew I needed alone time in my head to sort some things out.

I opted to head out to a newly discovered tiny coffee shop /eatery around the corner from work to brainstorm the ending of Vowed and the start of Book 3.

Lunch

Coffee shop 1

Coffee Shop 2

I’ve visited there before but only to grab a wrap and salad and head back to the office to write.  This time I opted to go downstairs and eat lunch there.  What a reveal.  I sat there for just over an hour, listening to Jimi Hendrix, staring at the mad artwork and I brainstormed and made notes to myself.  It was superb.

***

Time gap! My wordpress stopped working yesterday afternoon as I started writing this…but just as well because I was notified by friends who were at World Fantasy Con in Brighton that BANISHED proofs were one of the options to nab when registering.

I, uh, freaked out.  :D

Banished Proofs

And here’s a little bundle of awesome from my editor just as I was on my way home.  Isn’t it just lovely? I love that they’ve kept the title info on the spine for the proof and left that gorgeous picture free.  I’m kinda emotional and so relieved.

Banished proofs stack

I can’t wait to see these in Real Life.  I’m travelling to Brighton tomorrow for the weekend to attend WFC2013.  There are some stellar folks attending, panels to sit in on, and authors to fan-girl at.  Aaah, so looking forward to it!

Mirrored from Liz de Jager.

Midnight in New York – A Short Story

As part of Andrew Reid’s Halloween Shorts I’ve agreed to write a short story.  I decided to write something set in the world / mythology I’ve created for the Blackhart Legacy, but I didn’t want to use the main characters from the series because I want you all to read about Kit and Thorn when Banished comes out next year and have it be fresh and not tinged with what you’ve read before.

I opted to write a mini-adventure for Megan.  Megan is Kit’s cousin, closest to her in age.  Megan is one of these girls you’ll see in magazines or in movies or on the street and what you see is this cute as hell girl, big eyes and sweet expression.  You don’t see the blade or the cunning.  This is her adventure in New York on Halloween.  This story takes place between books 1 and 2 of the Blackhart Legacy and again, even though it’s set in the same world it’s not part of the trilogy I’m writing for Tor.  

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Liz de Jager.

The Cover!

So, hastily, before I head home for the evening, here is the utterly lovely cover for Banished, the first book in The Blackhart Legacy trilogy.  It was announced over at the Tor blog today and needless to say, I’ve been grinning like a crazy person today.

 

When Bella emailed me the cover I couldn’t look.  I handed the laptop to Mark and told him to open the attachment.  Worst part: we had to download software to view the attachment.  And then he just stood there and looked at the screen and covered his mouth.

I thought OMAFGWTF is wrong and then he spun the laptop around and lo and behold the prettiest cover I could have dreamed faced me.

I didn’t cry.  I was laughing hysterically because I knew I couldn’t share it with anyone. Any. One.  It drove me nuts.  Oh, don’t get me wrong. I told people I had a cover but I just couldn’t actually SHOW it.

So I had to wait just over two weeks to see it revealed and let me just say: it was so worth it. Every day, every bit of work I do on book 1 and now seeing the cover out there, makes this journey more real, an actual thing.

I’m delighted by how well it’s been received online by friends and family and fellow bloggers and my SCBWI pals and my Author Allsorts folks. But mostly I’m just pleased that it looks this good and that it will generate interest online and when seen on a bookshelf in bookstores. I just honest to goodness pray that the contents does that cover justice. No pressure there, then, Tor UK!

 

Mirrored from Liz de Jager.

Tags:

And the next step, page proofs!

And voila!

After working on the copy edits with Copy Editor Jess (who genuinely made me grin with some margin comments like: peanutbutter and honey on toast, really? Actually that sounds nice, I’ll try it!) I sent the manuscript back for checking over.  The copy edits were okay for most part, the toughest part was the ending where CEJ (Copy Editor Jess) really nailed me on descriptions and slowing the action down a bit for the reader to catch up.  It was tough, that bit, but overall I really enjoyed the experience and had little enough to moan about.

The next step in Liz Being Published is doing the Page Proofs on Banished.

This is the manuscript in all its glory.

Banished Proof Pages

Had to give my Tor mug some show, too!

So daunting – 400 pages of words wot I wrote.   But also exciting.

Stuff I’m up to for the next few weeks when I’m not doing page proofs or finishing off Book 2:

1. I’m doing a talk at Waterstones Bluewater with Andy Rob with some aspiring writers and readers.  Truly flattered being asked to be part of this, so a big big thanks to Waterstones Bluewater for giving a noob a chance.  There will be cake, so if you’re in the area, come along and have cake and talk about writing and books and reading.  Here’s Kaylie’s tweet about it:

2.  I’ll also be at World Fantasy Con in Brighton.  I’ll be attending as a utter fan-girl and won’t have any panels to sit on, which means I get to rush around and fangirl at people like Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, Ellen Kushner, ROBIN HOBB OMG!, James Lovegrove, Mike Carey, Mark Buckingham and Bill Willingham (they write FABLES!) and a lot of other people.  A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE. There will be lots of chat, lots of hanging out, corridor parties…and most importantly, staring at people’s chests going: who are you and how do I know your name again??

3.  Then on Monday night, there’s an event at Foyles with Holly Black and Sarah Rees Brennan which I’ll be going to.  I love both these writers utterly and am currently reading Holly’s Coldest Girl in Coldtown and it is one of the darkest books I’ve ever read and I love it.

Then, I’m in the process of writing a small short story for the blog. A group of us will be doing it, to celebrate WORDS and Halloween and all things dark and creepy.  So that should go up the weekend of 26th October.

I will also be on a fab blog talking a bit about Banished in November.  The blogpost will be hosted by Sam, over at Realm of Fiction.  November is UKYA month for the blogging and writing community.  We want to talk about books written by UK writers for UK teens (and general younger readers and them older folk too) but in general, we just want to talk about UK writers and what it’s like being a writer, about books and reading and living on this tiny island and how it influences us, because really, it has to, right?  This campaign is spearheaded by a dynamo called Lucy and this is the Project UKYA website.

And of course, lastly, but by NO means the least, there’s our very own convention next year.  Read all about it here.  I am so excited.  Even if I’m not attending as Liz the Writer, I will be there as Liz the Fangirl.  Also, Malorie OMG Blackman is such a rockstar.  I love her to bits. And I’m kinda swaggery that she lives in the same area I do. Oh yeah, power of words in the water!

 

 

Mirrored from Liz de Jager.

I want to write, where do I start?

I’m hearing this a lot from people via private messages on Twitter and FriendFace (thank you The IT Crowd for turning FB into FriendFace, I much prefer it).

Typewriter

Here’s my advice (as I understand it thus far):

Read.  Read all the things.  Don’t limit yourself as to what you read because putting words into your brain is what you need.

But mostly you need you, a pen and a notebook.  Or a laptop or working PC if you are that way inclined.  You also need ideas.  And also perhaps a way to know “what now”?

I started off by buying a lot of “how to” books and I still buy them because I enjoy reading them.  Some are better than others.  Some holds maybe ONE thing you need to know and trust me, it’s worth it because you can sell that book on or donate it to a friend who is also writing.

Everyone recommends Stephen King’s book on writing.  I do too…but I can’t actually remember much about it, apart from him wiping his bum in the woods with poison ivy and his brother being mean.  Possibly I need to read Mr. King’s advice on writing again.

But here are some books I found interesting on the subject of writing:

  • Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
  • Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers – Christopher Vogler
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print – Browne, Renni
  • How NOT to Write a Novel: 200 Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs If You Ever Want to Get Published – Mittelmark, Howard
  • 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love – Aaron, Rachel
  • Fire in Fiction – Donald Maass
  • Writing the Breakout Novel: Winning Advice from a Top Agent and His Best-selling Client – Donald Maass
  • Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook: Hands-on Help for Making Your Novel Stand Out and Succeed – Maass, Donald
  • The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories – Christopher Booker
  • The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self – Cameron, Julia

Some websites:

I’m not linking the books to any shops because I’m leaving it up to you to find where you want to buy them.  Also do check out the Writer’s Digest website – a lot of books are available for purchase digitally which can them be downloaded to your e-reading device and I highly rate their magazine and Creativity mags too.  The one book from above I’d recommend to you, if you are finding you’re struggling not with ideas or character or plot but with the actual how to sit down and write All The Words would be Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 1ok.  It’s available via Amazon and it is one of the best bits of writing advice I can recommend.  I realise it sounds a bit like a snake-oil pitch, but really – Rachel’s advice is solid.  It may / may not work for you but it will make you think and reassess how you spend your time writing.   It’s also something to try, for the hell of it, and I know some published writers have tried it and it made for fascinating reading.  The other books I’d recommend wholehearted from above is Donald Maass.  Anything by him.  I remember – she says, cringing – how I read Writing the Breakout Novel and then EMAILING him (my audacity staggers me) to say thanks for writing such a great book for noob writers.  And then he replied, admittedly a few months down the line, but really, how sweet is that?

These books will help, but then there are loads of others too that will help you too. Mostly I see writing as a journey (uh oh, philosophy Liz?) and what works for me on my journey may not work for you on yours.  You have to figure it out for yourself but you can do it by checking out how others are doing theirs. We are all looking to tell stories and having a helping hand in the form of a good “how to” book and thoughtful websites may just be the thing to help.  Also, be sure to visit your favourite author websites.  A lot of them have great advice on process, character creation and plots etc.

I will edit this post later today when I get home and post pictures of my reference shelves at home.  You will feel ill at the amount of random books on there about writing and creativity and how your brain works.  I find writing and the process of writing and how the mind reacts during creative phases fascinating.

Other bits of advice I can give about writing and how to start: lose the fear of the blank screen / page.  It is only words.  Those words don’t need to be perfect (although your brain will tell you otherwise) you just really need to start.  Then write the next word and the next word.  My sanity threshold is usually about 40k into a book.  I lose all the will to live around 40k.  I’ve now written 3 books and it’s happened at each one.  At 40k everything is crap.  The story is utter twaddle.  The characters all deserve to be shot or blown up.  The plot is a joke, who ever will want to read this drivel and blah blah blah.

Liz Crying at 40k

Liz – crying at 40k

Listen to these thoughts carefully then flip them the bird and then continue writing that one word after the next and the next because the next thing you know you’ve broken through that mental barrier and hey presto you are racing ahead with your story.  And remember, it’s only words. And words, unless they are in print, aren’t permanent and can be changed and adjusted and that’s what you do during your editing period and I hope to Gaia’s green apples that you do edit!  At least twice before sending it out to anyone to read.

I have heard writers say this: WRITING IS REWRITING so many times but I never listened.  And it’s possibly the one and only true thing about writing that is universal.  I kid you not.  No matter who you are.  Seriously.  Take this on board and feel it in your bones: it is the truth.

I have also seen this: GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO HAVE YOUR FIRST DRAFT BE SHIT and I agree because it’s only words and words can be fixed. During edits and rewrites.

With Nanowrimo just around the corner, I genuinely want to bring this home to everyone who’s thinking of taking part: Nano encourages you to write and write fast.  It may not be for everyone and I know it isn’t.  Just…write at your own pace.  Instead of 50k a month, try and aim for 30k or even 25k and be realistic.  Fit it in with your actual life.  Get into the habit of writing if you can because we all know habits are hard to break.  Nothing is more depressing than wanting to write and be creative and then feeling like a failure because you’ve not made your self-appointed goals.  Goals must be able to move.  If you write a thousand words a day, that is still 30,000 words at the end of a 30 day month. That is a lot of words.  And all it is is putting one word after the other.

This blogpost has rambled on enough.  I hope some of it helps those who are asking the how/where do I start.  As for ideas: I can’t help you there.  But reading books and magazines and asking what if will help.  Seriously. I’m not even joking.

Go out and scrivener!

 

Mirrored from Liz de Jager.

And counting…

I was sent this link by a friend on Friday and freaked out a little.

Banished , Waterstones

Obviously on Friday there were more days but now it’s under 180 days, which means publication is just over 25 weeks away.

*gulps*

It’s rather splendid, which is why I have to put it out of my mind because, if you keep thinking about it, I think it will just drive you crazy.

On Friday past I sent off the copy edits to the editorial team and so I gave myself the weekend off.  I hung out with my lovely friend Sue on Saturday and we fixed the world.  If anything’s broken since then, then I’m sorry, we did our best.  Sunday I indulged in a morning of reading Sarah Rees Brennan’s new book “Untold” and basically I love her.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time checking on books that are coming out soon and that have recently been released, buying far too many to fit into my tiny house.   However, I’d like to just mention a few books that are out in the next few months that’s making me super excited. And because Sarah’s reminded me that really, I’ve not blogged about stuff I’m reading / looking forward to for some time, so here you go:

Natasha Ngan’s The Elites is en route to me as I type this.  Published by Hot Key Books.  Nabbed from Waterstone’s website:

‘There is a rumour that the Elites don’t bleed.’

Hundreds of years into the future, wars, riots, resource crises and rising sea-levels have destroyed the old civilisations. Only one city has survived: Neo-Babel, a city full of cultures – and racial tension. Fifteen-year-old Silver is an Elite, a citizen of Neo-Babel chosen to guard the city due to her superior DNA. She’d never dream of leaving – but then she fails to prevent the assassination of Neo Babel’s president, setting off a chain of events more shocking and devastating than she could ever have imagined. Forced to flee the city with her best friend Butterfly (a boy with genetically-enhanced wings), Silver will have to fight to find her family, uncover the truth about Neo-Babel and come to terms with her complicated feelings for Butterfly.

It sounds SO good.  Can’t wait to indulge.

There is also Maggie Stiefvater’s second book in the Raven Boys series, called The Dream Thieves coming from Scholastic UK.

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Blue and Gansey will be the same. Ronan is falling more and more deeply into his dreams …and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Gansey is needed at home, and is struggling to stay in Aglionby. And Adam? He’s made some new friends. Friends that are looking for some of the same pieces of the puzzle that Gansey, Blue, and Ronan are after. Great power is at stake, and someone must be willing to wield it.

I’ve fallen UTTERLY in love with the first book, The Raven Boys.  I’ve read it possibly four times, if not more and I have a proof, a finished paperback and a kindle copy.  I know.  But sometimes a book finds you and it just strikes a chord and it’s those books I reach for when comfort is needed.

Randomly, I was over at Maggie’s website the other day and found the video where she spray painted her car…to resemble the car one of the characters in her book drives, complete with the knife spray painted on the side. It’s a bit crazy and so cool.

 

The other book I’m super excited about is from Macmillan, Jana Oliver’s Briar Rose.  If there’s a lady who I trust to write me a subverted fairy tale, it would be Jana Oliver.  I loved her Demon Trappers books loads and loads.

Briar Rose believes in fairy tales . . . And now, because of a family curse, she’s living one. Doomed to fall asleep for one hundred years on her sixteenth birthday, Briar has woken up in the darkest, most twisted fairy tale she could ever have dreamed of – miles away from the safe, boring small-town life that she has left behind. Briar must fight her way out of the story, but she can’t do it alone. She always believed in handsome princes, and now she’s met one her only chance is to put her life in his hands, or there will be no happy ever after and no waking up . . .

I’ve known William Hussey for a few years now, back when he wrote macabre adult horror novels.  He’s subsequently written a superbly gory and frightening series of books for OUP but this week sees the release of his new book, Haunted.

Milton Lake is a seemingly ordinary town, where tales of hauntings and strange goings on ripple beneath the surface. 

When a mysterious boy comes to town and moves into a large, derelict house, all alone, his arrival changes everything. Shrouded in secrecy, he senses a kindred spirit in Emma Rhodes, and reveals to her a shocking truth. Someone in Milton Lake is using the fabled Ghost Machine to call the spirits of the dead back to our world. 

Now it is up to these two lost souls to find out who is operating the strange invention before it is too late . . . 
For call by call, the dead will be unleashed.

Yeah, not something to read IN THE DARK I think.

So a swathe of great books to read in the next few weeks.  I admit, I miss getting publishers’ catalogues so I can be privy to what they’re bringing out.  But you know what? As much as I miss it, I like walking into Foyles and Waterstones and seeing a book I had no idea about and falling for it utterly as I stand with it in my hand.

A friend we saw over the weekend said to me: Liz, the only things you ever Facebook about are books and bags.  At my uncomprehending stare as to why this seems to be a Bad Thing, Mark just laughed and patted my shoulder because he’s a good husband and gets it.

Still can’t believe there’s more to life than books and bags.  *mutters*

For the next few weeks I’ll be flat-out writing on book 2 in the Blackhart Legacy series as my deadline is November.  It’s really thrilling to have the opportunity to play in Kit’s world and to explore it more, adding layers and mythologies.  I must just remember not to add Everything.  That happens in book 3.

In November I’ll be taking part in a UKYA blog tour, my first ever, as hosted and organised by Lucy over at Queen of Contemporary.  Here’s a her blogpost about it.  I’ll be talking a bit about Kit, the Blackharts, creating their world and fun things.  The event is going to be huge and it’s going to be fun, with over 30 UKYA writers taking part in this and as many bloggers.  I look forward to seeing what it entails! Bring on November.  But only after I’ve written book 2.

 

Mirrored from Liz de Jager.

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