Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Reasons to be thankful this time of year

As the theme of November is thanksgiving, I thought I'd share a few reasons to rejoice the winter season as a writer:

Black Friday: This Friday (24th) it’s Black Friday! This festive treat only made its journey across the pond to the UK (where I am) a few years ago, and it was pretty wild. But the shops have toned the hype down now for safer, funner and much more merry Black Friday sales. Let’s be thankful we can stock up on all our writing essentials, whether that’s a brand new MAC (a girl can dream) or a beautiful soft leather writing notebook, ready and waiting to hear all your brilliant ideas.

PitMad on 9th December: Brenda Drake’s famous #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party will be hosted on 9th December. Kick off your December in style by pitching your finished manuscript on the hashtag #PitMad #YA, and hopefully get it favourited by agents to earn yourself a request!

There’s a magical atmosphere: OK, so by January the short days and early nights are a reason to grumble, but these long winter nights pre-new year are perfect for snuggling in front of a crackling log fire with your pen and notebook. Outside, the air’s crisp and sharp, perfect for walks to clear your mind. At this time of year, the bars are busy, the shops are full, and everyone seems on the precipice of something exciting. Relax and soak up the festive air, admire the twinkling festive lights and get some inspiration for your new WIP.

It’s party-season! Even if you prefer staying at home to a night hitting the town, the party season can be great inspiration for writing… the shop displays tend to get more opulent at this time of year, and everyone out for their festive work parties will be glammed up, meaning it’s the perfect time to draw inspiration for that party scene or elaborate renaissance masquerade ball you’ve been dreaming about!

German Market arrives: Every writer knows a cup of coffee and a cookie are writing essentials, but once the German Market hits town those transform into a mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate and a fondant-covered fruit skewer! Make sure your fervent writing doesn’t get interrupted by a grumbling belly, by stocking up on all the goodies that market has to offer. (OK, OK, I admit, this is just an excuse to go to the German Market, but we all need a break sometimes, right?)

Sunrise: With those early nights, come late mornings, and what’s better than watching the golden sunrise over a frosty view? Even late-risers can enjoy a December sunrise, so set your alarm and get your notebook ready (freshly bought in the Black Friday sales, of course).

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thankful For My First Book Coming Out

Thankful is the theme for this month, and I would like to write about how I’m thankful for my YA LGBTQ Fantasy novel IN THE NAME OF MAGIC, which is forthcoming from NineStar Press with a tentative release date of June 11, 2018. Squealing for joy at the acceptance offer might not sound like a complicated idea. However, writing is a difficult profession because of subjectivity. For example, everyone has their own unique tastes, and it can therefore be challenging to get a literary agent/offer of publication.

I first got the idea for IN THE NAME OF MAGIC around this time last year. I had certain opinions about what was going on in the United States. But I didn’t want to write a strict allegory like 1984 or Animal Farm. Instead, I conceived of a country where people were discriminated against if they were born without magic, meaning gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and skin color weren’t the basis for discrimination in my novel. So, yes, the novel contains dystopian elements. But I wanted to have grounded character stakes/emotions. As a result, I have the main character (17-year-old Maximillian) hide his best friend Katherine. She was born without magic, and needs shelter after fleeing home when her parents are killed by the police and secret police wolves. Yes. They’re talking animals in my novel. Because something has always intrigued me about the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. Anyway, Maximillian and his parents risk their lives since they could be killed for harboring a non-magical person. My point is, I wanted to create a character who wasn’t afraid to take big swings and do something. Because the question: (what would you do?) is the novel’s subtext. Feeling powerless is never good, and the novel is an attempt to have a character channel the idea that I’m not okay with what’s happening, and I’m going to do something about it.

Anyway, I spent the next two months or so writing and revising and then sent it out at the end of January 2017. Rejections piled into my inbox, but I got a Revise and Resubmit from NineStar Press at the end of April 2017. The novel had a creative premise, but needed more emotional depth as a result of the novel’s violent events. I then spent the next month revising, adding about 21,000 words (the novel went from around 74k words to 95k words). I submitted the R&R at the end of May before getting the acceptance offer in August 2017.

Ultimately, cliché sentiments are sometimes true. Having thanks about IN THE NAME OF MAGIC is necessary. The offer came at an important time. I’ve gotten short stories and creative nonfiction published. But I still wanted to get an actual book published, and was starting to get the normal annoyance that occurs when rejections pileup. IN THE NAME OF MAGIC is only one step. But it was almost like a wink from the universe to keep plugging away because I’m on the right path. And that is why I wanted to mention IN THE NAME OF MAGIC in my blog post today. It is a lesson to writers about never giving up, and how it only takes one yes to change things in addition to how there’s not just one path to publishing.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Welcome to November!

Welcome to November, the month containing Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving.
No surprise, this month’s theme is Thankful! I've already seen Facebook posts starting thirty days of thankfulness. Today, I’m sharing a short thankful list of what makes my life as a writer easier. This is personal, obviously, but maybe it will inspire you with ways to make your writer-life (or whatever your job is) easier or get you thinking about what you’re thankful for.
  1. Each of my kids cook dinner one day a week. I give this advice to anyone with kids: Teach them to cook independently! This has far-reaching effects, but the one that fits my purpose today is that I don’t have to worry about dinner five days a week. All I have to do is ask each child what they want to cook, add their ingredients to my grocery list, and my work is done until eating time. I can write until dinner is served—or skip it altogether—knowing the evening meal is taken care of. If your children are still very young (early elementary school or younger), this is a future dream. But start working toward it now. Invite your kids into the kitchen and cook with them. And one day, instead of living off pizza during a deadline, you’ll have multiple supporters (at least until they go to college).
  2. Coffee shops. I have a Mac desktop—my gift after signing my first publishing contract—and I really should spend more time at home writing on it. I did complete one manuscript at my desk about a year ago. But most of the time, I pack up my laptop and find inspiration in coffee shops. Or perhaps, I find relaxation when I’m in a coffee shop so I can create, instead of working a few feet away from the chaos that is five kids and three dogs. In fact, arriving at one I wrote in for several weeks, I would literally relax and feel my creative energy revive while standing in line to order! Whatever reason though, I’m thankful for a community containing so many coffee shops. 
  3. Brainstorming partners. Most often, my brainstorming partner is my husband. But I have writer friends I call on to fill the role as well. I’m so thankful for these people! When I’m stuck on an idea—or stuck without an idea—just talking about the story can be enough to unclog the creative pipes. I don’t think I would be as successful if I just talked to myself. Actually, I know I wouldn’t be, since I talk to myself regularly.
What makes your thankful list as a writer?

Sarah Tipton is a writer of Christian Young Adult Fiction. Her debut novel, Betrayal of the Band, released in August 2017.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

GUESTOPIA: Author Ewa Dodd


I'm back with another Guestopia interview to finish up October, and today my victim...guest is debut author Ewa Dodd whose first book is out next year!

The daughter of a bookseller, Ewa Dodd has been writing since she was young, starting small with short self-illustrated books for children. More recently, she has delved into novel-writing, and is particularly interested in literature based in Poland, where she is originally from. The Walls Came Down was shortlisted for the Virginia Prize for Fiction. Ewa lives in Highbury, north London with her husband.

Is this your first published book?

It is. I’m very excited about it.

What’s it called?

The Walls Came Down

Which genre?

Historical mystery

Which age group?

18-30 (New Adult), but I’m hoping it will also appeal to a broader audience.

Is it a series or standalone?

It’s a standalone story

Are you an agented author?


Which publisher snapped up your book?

Aurora Metro, an independent publisher based in Richmond.

How involved have you been in the whole publishing process of your book?

I’ve been predominantly involved in the editorial process, which has been very fascinating. It’s great to have an experienced editor asking questions about your book, which you may never have thought about. The book has definitely improved as a result of my editor Mary’s work on it. 

Do you have another job?

Yes, I’m a Marketing Manager in the education sector.

Did you receive many, if any, rejections prior?

Definitely. The road to publication is never an easy one, and I’ve received lots of rejections both from agents and publishers. The trick is always to persevere, and to get as much feedback as possible so that you can improve next time around. 

What created/what were you doing or watching when the first idea for this book sneaked up on you?

I was reading a newspaper article about a missing child, and it made me think about the long-term effect of that one moment of disappearance on the lives of those closest to them. This idea forms the premise of my book.

How long did you plot/plan until you started writing it?

I thought about it for a good few months before I started putting any words on paper. I tend not to create written plotlines. I have an idea, start writing, and see where it takes me.

Once you started, did the story flow naturally or did you have to step in and wrestle it into submission?

It seemed to come quite naturally, but I did end up making some significant changes to the structure later on.

How many drafts did you write before you let someone read it? Who was that someone?

I had a few close friends read it and received some really useful feedback from them, mainly to do with the characterisation of the three protagonists.

Did you employ an editor/proofreader or did you have a critique partner/beta readers before you started querying?

I didn’t employ a proof-reader, but I did ask my first readers to mark up any mistakes that they spotted as they read.

Roughly how many drafts did it take before you sent the manuscript off into the real world?

Three, but then I sent it off and felt that I hadn’t done enough!

How many drafts until it was published?

Another four.

Has the book changed dramatically since the first draft?

Yes, quite significantly, as one of the three main protagonists has changed, and there were
also a number of important structural developments along the way.

Are there any parts you’d like to change even now?

Definitely. Particularly when I re-read certain bits of dialogue and wonder whether that character could have said what they meant a bit differently… I also feel I could have further enhanced some of the detail of the historical setting.

What part of writing do you find the easiest?

I definitely find getting the story down on paper the easiest.

What part do you find hardest?

Editing is by far the hardest for me. I find that leaving a few weeks’ gap in between each edit definitely helps.

Do you push through writing barriers or walk away?

I try to push through, but it’s not always easy!

How many projects do you have on the go at the same time?

Usually no more than two. Any more than that and I think you’ll get really muddled.

Do you think you’re born with the talent to write or do you think it can be learned?

I think it can definitely be learned – you just need to have a good story in you.

How many future novels do you have planned?

I definitely have plans for another one. Beyond that, we’ll have to see! I’d like to think that new stories will keep coming to me.

Do you write other things, such as short stories, articles, blogs, etc?

I used to write short stories, but then I felt very restricted by the word count and found that that ultimately they didn’t really work for me.

What’s the highlight of being published so far?

Having a copy of your book to hold is a great feeling.

Give me one writing tip that work for you.

Writing everywhere where an idea comes to you, even if you only have a few minutes – I usually do it in the ‘Notes’ app of my phone and then send it to myself in an email at the end of the week.

And one that doesn't.

Meticulously planning your plot. Sometimes your story takes an unexpected turn and you’ll feel annoyed at yourself for not sticking to the plan.

Can you give us a clue or secret about the next book?

I can’t yet as it’s too early days, but I’m looking into middle grade fiction!

What question have you always wanted to be asked but never have? What would the answer be?

I think it’s probably about routes to being published. One very good one is via entering competitions, and I would definitely encourage unpublished writers to do so. I entered the Virginia Prize and got shortlisted, which was a great route to meeting an interested publisher.

Absolutely fantastic that you were able to join us today, Ewa, and from all of us here at YAtopia, we wish you so much luck with this book and all those that follow. 

If you would like to find out more about Ewa and her books, these links might just help!