Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Fabulous 500 Giveaway! - NOW CLOSED

Congratulations to
SOLACE WINTER
for winning the giveaway!!!

As I recently reached 500 followers on twitter (and my TBR pile is looking at me in reproach for my neglect) I've decided to give away a WHOLE STACK OF BOOKS as my way of saying thanks for following my writerly adventures. Look! BOOKS!


What do you need to do to enter? Well, in keeping with the bookish theme, I'm doing this Hunger Games-style. Here's how you can make sure the odds are ever in your favour!
  • You will have 1 entry added to the draw for commenting on this post. Please be sure to make it easy for me to contact you (leave your twitter handle etc.) so I can let you know if you've won.
  • You get another 1 entry for following this blog (don't worry if you're following already - just say so in the comment box and I'll add in the extra entry).
  • Tweet about this giveaway to get an extra 1 entry (just include me, @el_kat, in your tweet so that I know).
That means you can get up to 3 entries by doing these 3 easy-peasy things. Cool, huh? The giveaway is open internationally, and I'll be doing the draw at 8pm (GMT) this Sunday.

I will be using an actual hat to do the draw, in case you're wondering.

Kat out x

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

An interview with EARTH ANGEL author Ruth Ellen Parlour

Ruth Ellen Parlour
Welcome Ruth Ellen Parlour, author of the brand new YA fantasy EARTH ANGEL, to my blog as part of her blog tour.

As I knew Ruth would be swinging by, I prepared a few questions for her...

First of all, tell us a bit about Earth Angel.

Earth Angel is a young adult fantasy set in a fictional world. The main theme is Free Will Vs Fate as the main characters struggle against what the Gods have decided for them. It follows a few plot lines and some very different perspectives. Gabrielle is a prisoner, committed for murder, whereas Faith is a well-off young woman. Every character has their own motives which come into play as they all fight to protect their country from an invading army.

What inspired you to write Earth Angel?

Read the first chapter here
Earth Angel has been a long-running project. The core concept of the Angels was the first germ of an idea – people who could summon fantastical beasts. The plot and characters stemmed from that idea and gradually I’ve been building my world over the years, interweaving the different plots and characters to form a whole novel. My first inspiration was the Final Fantasy computer games and my list of inspirations has been growing ever since!

What is your favourite part of the book?

Without giving away spoilers? I love the characters, a few in particular. Some of them have great secrets which they reveal in the story. I love those intimate moments when the secret is coerced from them and the characters can reveal their true colours.

What was the hardest part to write?

Probably the last few chapters. It’s where the story and all the characters come together so there’s a lot of different perspectives running parallel. I had to make sure I wasn’t mixing them up too much, that I kept the pace right and didn’t repeat things too much!

What made you decide to self-publish?

I tried the traditional route and sent about 10 queries off. I had done a lot of research into e-publishing and I was really enthusiastic about it. I got impatient waiting for replies from agents, so prepared it to publish myself. I could get my novel out into the world, start earning from it and carry on writing more books instead of waiting for rejections coming in the post! Also I could design my own book cover which was so much fun. Having your book published traditionally isn’t a guarantee anyway, because if it doesn’t sell well enough they get taken off the shelves. Ebooks stay on the virtual shelf for as long as the author leaves them there.

What’s your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a very rough plotter. I always plot in my head first, then I write a very brief plot line of the key events that happen throughout the book. I do quite a bit of world and character building on paper, I think I get to know them better that way. Then I write whatever comes to me and fill in the blanks!

What are you working on next?

I’m currently editing the first draft of my second book, God Slayer, which is going to be a spin-off trilogy from Earth Angel, starring one of the more minor characters. I have 4 books planned for the Earth Angel series as well as the trilogy. I’m going to do my best to make them stand-alones so we’ll see how far I get through them. 

Which authors have inspired you, now and when you were a teen?

I love Holly Lisle. Talyn was the first book of hers I read and remains my favourite. I learned a lot from her workshops, tips and courses and still use the techniques I learned there. When I was a teen I loved Jeffrey Deaver and Dan Brown. I loved to be thrilled and surprised with plot and character (and still do!) I was always awed by the depth of knowledge the books went into and they never failed to surprise me. (I realise none of them are YA but I read more adult books when I was a teen!) I loved Phillip Pullman when I was a teenager and devoured His Dark Materials trilogy. He’s a writer that has never failed to make me cry! I loved the characters, the world and the plot he created.  

Who is your all time favourite YA character?

That’s really hard! I think I’m torn between Katniss and Lyra. I’m a big fan of strong women and Katniss is obviously really cool but I like the feistiness of Lyra from His Dark Materials and her bravery too.

I have a theory that all writers want a ‘secret’ place to write – secret attic, treehouse, room behind a hidden wall panel…where would yours be?

I’ve never given it much thought but it sounds amazing. I’m an interior designer so I’d love to create my own personal writing space. It would have to have an amazingly comfy arm chair, lots of natural light overlooking a green landscape and be warm and cosy and quiet! I’d love to be surrounded by books and my favourite art and of course, have my rabbit at my feet. A nice garden too so I could go outside to write if the weather was nice.

What 3 things do you need to put you in a writing frame of mind?

A cup of tea, peace and quiet (peace and quiet is all one thing right?!) and a comfy chair. A decent night's sleep would help, too, as I write best first thing in the morning.


If you have any comments or questions for Ruth, please add them in the comments section below. Or, if would like to find out more about Ruth and her writing, you can visit her website: www.ruthellenparlour.com and blog: www.ruthparlourdesign.wordpress.com

I also highly recommend you catch up with Ruth (@RuthEParlour) on twitter.

EARTH ANGEL is available to buy now from:

Amazon for £1.53/$2.99

Smashwords for $2.99

Monday, 27 August 2012

TMI Monday - Fairgrounds, Trunked Novels and Tom Hardy


Happy Monday, folks. After last week's tangent, TMI Monday returns with 6 random things from my brainpot. This week's rambling journey begins at the fairground...


  1. Today is a bank holiday in the UK, and this particular bank holiday weekend marks the 11th anniversary of my first date with E. The town we live in used to have a fairground (it has now been shut down) which features in one of my manuscripts - HELLFIRE. This fairground was where E took me on our first date. He had only returned that morning from a guys' weekend in Amsterdam, so turned a lovely shade of green as we got spun faster and faster on the waltzers, but still asked if I wanted to go on a rollercoaster afterwards. I think it's a measure of his gentlemanliness that he put my enjoyment of the date above his own desire to sit on the ground and spit. I didn't make him go on the rollercoaster, but the gesture earned him a second date. 
  2. I reached 500 followers on twitter this week, so I'll be holding a Hunger Games-style giveaway right here in a few days. Just need to pick the books I'll be giving away from my TBR pile... watch this blog for more details on Wednesday.
  3. I've taken this week off work to get to grips with TRANSPARENCIES (I know - decadent, right??) Because it's such a big gear-shift from working on PURGE revisions, this first draft has been going a little slowly for my liking. So if I'm twitter-absent this week, that's why. I'm aiming to hit 40k by the end of my time off. EEP!
  4. I'll be taking time out one night this week to go and watch the film Lawless. It's a western about bootleggers set in Depression-era Franklin County, and the fact that Tom Hardy's in it... well, I can't very well not watch it now, can I? You can watch the trailer here if you're curious, or just take my word for it that it looks awesome. I expect some badly written western-type scenes to be written into TRANS after I've watched this.
  5. Work continues on my Writing Room. I really wanted to decorate it to look like The Lower India Bedroom at Penrhyn Castle, but haven't been able to find anything remotely close to the wallpaper. Suggestions appreciated!
  6. I spent way too much time adding to the TRANSPARENCIES playlist last week instead of actually writing. Here's another fruit of that particular labour. (Mam - if you're reading, you'll like this one too.)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Find out what inspires TRINITY author Clare Davidson


Welcome to Clare Davidson, author of the amazing YA fantasy debut TRINITY. Here's a little bit about her brand new book:

Buy Trinity on Goodreads

Kiana longs to walk through a forest and feel grass between her toes. But she is the living embodiment of a goddess and has enemies who wish to murder her. Her death will curse the whole of Gettryne. Locked away for protection, she dreams of freedom.

Her wish comes true in the worst possible way, when her home and defenders are destroyed.

Along with an inexperienced guard and a hunted outcast, Kiana flees the ravages of battle to search for a solution to the madness that has gripped Gettryne for a thousand years. Pursued by the vicious and unrelenting Wolves, their journey will take them far beyond their limits, to a secret that will shake the world.

 


I asked Clare to share what inspired her to write TRINITY.

Perhaps the better question to ask is: what inspired me to write 'Guardian'?

Let me explain… 'Guardian' is the failed work in progress (WIP) that 'Trinity' was born from. Many of the ideas are similar between the two projects and the three main characters are reflections of those in 'Guardian'.

Before I started 'Guardian' I was in a writing slump. I'd been on and off tinkering with a WIP that I couldn't get to work, no matter what I did. I needed a 'just for fun' project.  I didn't know then that I was laying the groundwork for 'Trinity'.

At the time, I'd just discovered a new Anime series by Clamp, called 'Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles' (based on a Manga of the same name). If you're not familiar with the series, it takes a lot of Clamp's favourite characters and puts them in one story: same names and faces, different backgrounds. I loved the series and decided to use it as a creative jump board for my 'fun' project. I sifted out the main concepts and boiled them down to the one core element that I thought was the most important: a young man risks everything to save the girl he loves.

From that spark, I wrote 'Guardian' and fell in love. The problem was… well… to this day I'm not sure what the problem was. Something about that WIP simply didn't work. I loved key moments of it and the characters, but as a whole something wasn't right.

I didn't want to give up on it entirely. Therefore I went back to the original spark that 'Tsubasa' had inspired, pulled out everything I loved about 'Guardian', sat down with a friend and hashed out the loose plan that would eventually become my debut novel, 'Trinity'.
Thanks to Clare for stopping at my blog. Now go get yourselves to Goodreads to buy Trinity!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Blog Awards

The very lovely Ruth Ellen Parlour tagged me with 2 blog awards: the Beautiful Blogger Award and Reader Appreciation Award. Thanks Ruth!

This means that I must now tell you 7 dark, dirty secrets about myself...wait, what do you mean it's just 7 random things? Not dark and dirty...? Oh, OK then. My bad.

But as it's 7 random things, I figured this post should take the place of my TMI Monday post this week. Here goes...
  1. I can bend my knees the wrong way. I don't mean like a frickin' centaur - I mean if I sit on the floor I can bend one knee to 90 degrees so that my right foot points out to the right and my other knee the opposite way so that my left foot points out to the left, making a straight line with my shins. It's weird, and not that many people can do it, but you'd be surprised how many will get down on the floor to try (especially when drunk).
  2. I don't eat fish, especially shellfish. Shrimp are a particular stomach-turner for me - it's like watching people eat sea insects. *shudders*
  3. When I was about 6 years old I was almost hanged in a tree. Accidentally, of course. I'd been climbing it and slipped, but the hood of my long, red coat (for some reason my mother liked to dress me as the dead kid in Don't Look Now!) caught on one of the branches and left me swinging and turning a bit purple. My sister laughed til she wet herself before calling our mother to get me down.
  4. I speak Welsh fluently and French badly (mostly just the swear words).
  5. I once accidentally slapped an old guy on a plane because I was dreaming about playing frisbee with plates. I pretended I was still asleep.
  6. I named my cat Pilot after Rochester's dog in Jane Eyre. Just because I thought it was a cool name, not because I'm a nerd...yeah.
  7. I'll be spending my 30th birthday in Disney World, FL, later this year. Also not because I'm a nerd. Just in denial about the whole '30' thing.
Now, following the rules, I must tag in 7 others for these 2 awards. They are:
Have fun, you guys!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Are deleted scenes ever REALLY deleted?

I will admit, I've done my fair share of slathering to read a deleted scene from one of my favourite books or authors. I was among the horde clamouring for the Edward POV excerpt and other deleted scenes Stephenie Meyer posted on her site, and I've signed disclaimers and whatnot to read a smexy scene which has been cut for one reason or another from the final edit of other books. My friend Ruth Ellen Parlour has also posted a couple from her new release, Earth Angel - you can read one of them here. Yep, I'm definitely a fan of the Deleted Scene.

These scenes have obviously not actually been deleted. They're out there in the world. I'm reading them.

Some have sketchy editing or content, and though they have been rescued from the trash, you can see that the intention to delete was legit. But then there are those which have obviously never been en route to the cutting room floor. These are really companion material, meant to be given as freebies to loyal fans or enticements to new readers. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with this. At all. It's good marketing.

But, as a writer, should you set out with the intention of writing Deleted Scenes?

In the case of YA and smexiness, I can absolutely see a point to this. Some content (and I know some will strongly disagree with me here) just shouldn't go into YA. I don't mean all smexiness, obviously - just those bits that go into more detail or length *snigger* than sits comfortably in YA. Again, just my opinion.

Rightly or wrongly, some scenes won't make it into a published novel because of the adult content. And if the author then wants to publish this in some other forum where adults can tick a box and read the scene, that's cool.

So what about other kinds of Deleted Scenes? The alternate endings? The scenes told from another character's POV? These could easily be a part of an author's drafting process, but should writers set out with the intention of having these tasty morsels ready to release at the perfect moment?

It's something I've never done. And if I'm perfectly honest, when scenes are deleted from one of my manuscripts, they're DELETED. There is one exception to this - with an edit I did to HELLFIRE for a R&R I was never entirely happy with. You can read one of those should-I-delete-or-shouldn't-I scenes from the revision here.

I could always retrieve them from an earlier version, of course (I'm a version control freak), but I don't keep Deleted Scenes in separate Word docs to use later. Not even smexiness.

I love that others do this. Getting to read something that only the die-hards who go looking for additional material online will get to read is so much fun. And I'm especially thrilled that I get to unleash one of these scenes into the world on this very blog, by one of my very favourite authors, Misty Provencher. Keep an eye out for that next month... y'know, if you'd like a little extra Garrett and Nalena in your life (and really, you'd be crazy not to!)

So, the planned Deleted Scene: Is this something authors generally do? Am I missing out by not adding in Deleted Scenes to my initial outlines? Do YOU do this?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

YA Noir: A straight-shooting guest post by Ian Hiatt

Ian Hiatt: ruthless tweeter and badass blogger.
She sits across from me, a five dollar gin in her hand, a seven dollar scotch in those weary eyes.

"I want you to write a guest post for me," Kat says, fingertips dragging against the glass like they might wipe away condensation. But she takes her liquor straight; she's that kind of woman. As easy on the drink as she is on the eyes.

"Well, we can't always get what we want, Ms. Ellis." I take a sip from my own drink. Tea. Unwilling to bow to Welsh custom, I'm not getting sloshed before noon. But I don't live amongst the dragons, so I try not to judge.

Her fingers drum on the stained and pitted tabletop as she turns the glass in her other hand. She’s got a glare that could melt a gravestone, and she points it at me like she would a six-shooter primed to kill. With a certain level of malevolence, that sultry voice utters the one word that I could've died a happy man never hearing again.

"Glitter..."
           

And like a cheap suit on a rent-by-the-hour motel room floor, I folded. When I asked what possible words of wisdom I could shower down upon the masses with the skill of so many passing seagulls, Kat suggested I write about something relating to my latest project. That project, currently codenamed ROCH, is about as far from my comfort zone as I can possibly get. Which is why it's so damn fun.

For folks who don’t know me, I’m a young adult writer. There’s something so satisfying about dropping a bunch of teens into a hopeless situation and watching them squirm for twenty-five chapters. But my new project is very different from anything I’ve written previously. ROCH is still a young adult tale, but it's very much upper young adult. The reason it falls in that distinct upper age bracket is that it's a noir book.

Now, you might be thinking: Noir? Wikipedia says that only relates to film...Well, sit down, babydoll, and let me spin you an explanation. (For you males reading, I apologize for calling you babydoll...Just roll with it, okay?)

Yes. Noir typically relates to a film. That grainy black and white movie where our main character, John “Everyman” Gumshoeington, is a cynical guy just trying to make it in this crazy world. He’s got a mystery to solve, a dame to save, and a cigarette that needs smoking in a poorly lit Private Eye’s office while he nurses a glass of the drink. But in recent years we’ve seen this mood in decidedly non-typical ways. Take, for example, the plethora of comic book films crashing into theaters. You may recall a certain film called The Dark Knight, where the cynical main character Bruce “Batman” Wayne is just trying to make it in this crazy world. Grainy scenes? Organized crime? Oh, yes. Noir. Or how about Watchmen? There we get a more modern take on noir (though ironically in a non-modern setting). Or, easily the greatest example of noir jumping the film-ship, Sin City. Sin City, which is one of the biggest inspirations of my work on ROCH.

See, film is just a medium. To say that a genre only works in film is foolish. Every genre can find a home in other formats. It’s just a matter of getting it right.

So how does noir work in books? Quite easily, actually. You saw my opening paragraph. Grungy scene, grizzled characters, gritty dialogue. Here’s my checklist for how to do noir, but take it as just my opinion. This is what I enjoy about noir, and it’s what I enjoy writing noir as.

  • Present tense/first person. If you know me, you know how much I loathe present tense. It’s rarely done to an extent where it makes use of the tense. So why use it in noir? The immediacy of it. There’s no hindsight to be had, no deep thoughts, nothing beyond the gun in your holster and the street beneath your feet. It lends itself to being gritty.  
  • Voice. Your characters need to have a lot of it. I know, I know. This should be the case all the time, right? But here, your characters need to be leaping off the damn page. Violently. You can’t have an easy going noir character. You don’t get to have someone you’d like to grab a beer with. If your main character isn’t someone your reader would piss themselves to be alone with in a dark alley, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Story elements. Noir needs specific ones. Crime. Mystery. Femme fatales and weathered men. Basically, little Johnny trying to get a date to the Spring Fling ain’t gunna work in noir. Your main character lives in a world where it’ll be a miracle if he makes it to tomorrow, and he’ll probably have to kill someone to make sure he does. 
  • Setting. Noir doesn’t take place in East-Jesus-Nowhere, America. But it also doesn’t take place in a high class city. You need some grime for your main character to get mixed up in. He’s not going to be doing that in an upscale apartment or anywhere in the state of Maine. While you can set it in an actual city, your best bet is to go with something uniquely yours. Like Gotham. Or Basin City.
  • Mood. This is the killer. Because if your book doesn’t exude the noir feeling, it will fall flat. You can have all of the above and have it be a shining, pretty little book. But it won’t be noir. There’s a certain air to noir that can be difficult to not only achieve but sustain. I did a little paragraph up there, but to carry on for 60,000 words minimum? That’s tricky. But, as tricky as it is, it’s fun as all hell, too. You get to do a lot with noir that you otherwise wouldn’t. Not many characters in modern stories get to sit in a smoky bar, across from someone they find so incredibly beautiful and so unquestionably deadly. All of the qualities above factor in, but you can have a gritty character sitting on a park bench on a sunny Saturday. You can have a filthy, corrupt city where dandelions creep up through the cracks in the sidewalks. If you don’t cross your t’s and dot your i’s, it won’t be noir.

My advice? Give noir writing a try. It might seem a bit different, but it’s so fun you might find yourself wondering why it took you so long to drop beneath the canopy of workaday fiction to the bloody, disgusting underbelly of the storytelling world. Just make sure you’re armed with some interesting words and a revolver...

Monday, 13 August 2012

TMI Monday - The Con, The Weasel, and The Wicked Game

Howdy. As always, Monday has rolled around and with it comes 6 randomisms from my mental hoard. You know, as opposed to my visceral hoard, in which you will find mostly chocolate.

A warning to weasel-lovers: this post does refer to a genuinely dead weasel. It does not feature a photo of said weasel, because I thought it might skeeve people out.

  1. Firstly, I bring sad news. The hair-chopping went ahead as scheduled, and was followed by a streak-test for the promised blueifying. IT DID NOT WORK. The streak stayed stubbornly brown (I know it would have worked if I'd bleached it, but previous devastating adventures with bleach have led to my swearing off the peroxide for eternity). So. Blue is out. BUT, I think I can do something pretty epic if I turn my beady eyes toward the scarlet spectrum. I will keep you informed of progress, with photographs of any noteworthy success (or failure).
  2. WriteOnCon is taking place this week, and lots of my tweeps have signed up and posted their queries/first 250/first 5 pages into the forums. They WILL be snapping up requests L, R & C because they're just that frickin' awesome. If you haven't checked out the threads yet, get yourself registered for WOC (it's free) and take a look at the awesomeness here.
  3. I did a romantic thing on Friday. I am not predisposed to romantic behaviour and would generally raise a skeptical eyebrow if accused of it. Nevertheless, a picnic was had, with prosecco in the garden and a sunset and everything. *Ticks 'romantic gesture' off this year's to-do list* This was somewhat overshadowed by the discovery of a new victim on the back lawn, courtesy of Pilot the cat (hereafter referred to as Pilot, Scourge of Weaselkind). The only thing to come out of this really was confirmation that I have no idea about the actual size of such creatures in real life. I had imagined a weasel to be about the same size as a ferret. They are not the same size as ferrets AT ALL. I had a similar encounter a few months ago with a mole, again courtesy of Pilot, Scourge of Weaselkind. THEY'RE LIKE MINIATURE ANIMALS, PEOPLE. HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS? Anyway, the discovery of the dead weasel trumped the romantic gesture, and all was once again right in the world.
  4. My twitter pal and CP Bridget Shepherd has this week introduced me to the anime world of Naruto. I have to confess, anime is one of those fascinating and confusing things which I have gone through life being aware of, but kind of crossing to the other side of the street to avoid. However, Bridget posted a brilliant insight into her favourite characters in the series, and also sent me links to clips of it which I kinda loved. Maybe not enough to become an anime aficionado like Bridget, but at least I know a little bit more about it now.
  5. Over the next few weeks, I have some brilliant guest posts and interviews lined up, so if you're cruising by please do come back and take a look. Or, you know, follow my blog - whichever's easier. *Whistles innocently* Anyway, coming up: a post on writing YA Noir by Ian Hiatt; Clare Davidson will be sharing the inspiration behind her new YA fantasy TRINITY; there will be an author interview with Ruth Parlour to celebrate the release of YA fantasy EARTH ANGEL; and the amazing Misty Provencher is going to be sharing an exclusive deleted scene from her new release, KEYSTONE. Whew! Quite a line up! I'll also be writing a separate post about deleted scenes in the next few days, and holding a book giveaway next month to celebrate... well, exactly what I'm celebrating is a topic for another post. If you have any blog topic suggestions you'd like me to write about, or if you'd like to see your name added to the guest list sometime in the next couple of months, please drop me an email: katelliswrites (at) gmail (dot) com
  6. The PURGE revisions are now DONE! *Cue celebratory can-can chorusline and mariachi band* This means that it's back to my WIP full time. Well, when I'm not doing my actual full time job. Thanks to some Word Warring this week, my word count for TRANSPARENCIES is creeping up. It's nowhere near where I thought it would be by now, but I continue to move tortoise-like towards the finish line. Here's a recent addition to the playlist for this WIP.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

In the Write Headspace

My husband - E (this is his name, 'tis true) - has very graciously given over full use of the spare room to my writing. This is no small thing, seeing as I've been dreaming of having my very own writing space for a serious amount of time. He asked me exactly what I'd like to do with it - the furniture, the decor, the lighting and all those tiny details, and I think my head imploded with glee. I have ALL THE IDEAS.

I've been imagining The Perfect Writing Space since I first started writing. These have varied, and could probably be brought together in one amazing place (if I lived in Narnia. Or Hogwarts.)

The Treehouse: a real Swiss Family Robinson-style treehouse, hidden high in the branches of a forbidding and gnarly old tree. With heating and wi-fi, of course. There would also need to be a rocking chair, and I would live up there like a tree hobbit.

The Turret: like the ones in really old castles. There's a hexagonal room in Penrhyn Castle (pictured) just down the coast from where I live that I've been in love with since I was a little girl. It used to be the room the ladies would retire to after a posh supper, leaving the gents to their port and cigars in the billiard room. Also, it has pretty spectacular views for gazing over wistfully.


The Secret Attic: this must be reached via the hidden staircase inside an old closet, of course. And have one circular window. And no spiders.

The Summer House: a little wooden hut overlooking a lake, with a stately home off in the distance and the waft of a pot of fresh coffee on the wood-burning stove in the corner. Yeah, somewhere like this.


The Cupboard Under the Stairs: the small, windowless little cubby with barely enough room to curl up with the laptop and air that will smell like breath within ten minutes. Yeah, I'm not quite sure why this appeals to me either. Especially as I have no stairs.

The Lighthouse: isolated, windswept and overlooking the sea. Perfect place for thinking all the thoughts and having all the feelings, no? Failing a lighthouse, a helter-skelter will do.


Of course, my spare room is going to be a bit of a tight fit for most of these, so I'll have to freestyle a bit. But there will be an old-fashioned lamp, the most comfortable sink-hole armchair you've ever seen in your life, and thick, dark curtains. And probably fairy lights.

Where would your Perfect Writing Place be?

Monday, 6 August 2012

TMI Monday - Blood-eyes, Wardrobe Malfunctions, and Pilot the Cat


This week's TMI Monday is brought to you by the letters X and S and by the number 6.




  1. I've been working hard on revisions so that PURGE can go on sub next month, and also looking ahead to working on my new WIP (read: sneaking in a few K when nobody was looking). In between I pulled together my last post, Shit Happens (I say pulled together because there were so many wonderful contributors), wrote some interview questions for Ruth Parlour who will be hopping onto my blog later this month, and wrote a guest post for my pal Ian Hiatt which I think will go up on his blog in a few days. And yes, I have given myself a blood-eye. Side note: I tried taking a picture of the blood-eye, but ended up taking The Most Creepy Photo of All Time. Thought I'd spare you. Have this cute picture of my cat instead.
  2. Because I'm no longer under any obligation to have long hair (bridesmaid duties are now past) I will soon be chopping the locks and probably regretting it immediately. For a little fun, I'll also be dyeing it blue or purple and hoping I don't get fired. Pictures to follow.
  3. E and I have both been very excited this week as we've arranged some more stuff for our holiday in November (this is the one where I go abroad to avoid having to acknowledge my Big Birthday. BTW, you should definitely read Ruth Lauren Steven's post about her birthday - I love how it kind of ends up, "Huh. Things are actually pretty great and I'm going to go and have some cake now with my bad self".) Anyway, I asked E what he was most looking forward to doing in Florida. He said: "Shooting bigger guns. And riding on one of those fan boats. And watching the laser show at EPCOT." Love my husband.
  4. I don't normally do this, but I'm tagging in Summer Heacock (@fizzygrrl) for TMI Mondays. My reasons are threefold: firstly, she has the most freakin' hilarious misadventures that a weekly update is simply the Right Thing To Do (par example: this week a trip to the stylist concluded with her cape being whipped off to reveal a quite serious wardrobe malfunction of the breastly persuasion); secondly, she has just resumed blogging and is doing so with verve; and thirdly, you'll want to read about Summer. She is on the verge of HUGE things.
  5. A Googling calamity led me to read a horrifying entry in the Urban Dictionary this week (*cough* Ron Weasley, but read at your own peril *cough*). That said, the Urban Dictionary is both educational and absurd (as much as any wiki can be). Just look up the word "grundle" - I had no idea this existed. Seriously. And no idea how I can possibly work this into my next manuscript... 
  6. The rest of this month is going to be dedicated to TRANSPARENCIES (aforementioned WIP). As such, I will resume Friday Snippeting and adding to the playlist. For now, here's one of my favourite tracks from the list.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Shit Happens: Swearing in YA

One of my crit partners recently commented that the main character in my manuscript “swears like a sailor”, and it got me thinking. I don’t have a problem with swearing – in fact, I enjoy a good creative swear. But I hadn’t set out for the swearing to be a stand-out feature of the novel, and the fact that my CP pointed it out led me to believe that it was. But was this a bad thing? Teens swear – I remember doing so, regularly and with gusto. Would it offend people when they read my manuscript? Was it inappropriate for teens to read? Or would it put off editors? I had no clue.

So I posed these questions to a number of kind folks who are a part of the YA world: Should there be swearing in YA novels? How much is too much? Writers, readers, adults, teens, and even my awesome agent weighed in.

Here’s what they said…

“I think swearing in YA poses the same problem that other "edgy" issues have--adults know that it happens, but they don't want to risk being the one to expose us to this. Trust me, you won't be. On an average day in school, we'll hear rumors that are edgier than almost anything in your book. Our friends swear. Our teachers swear. Our textbooks are graffitied with countless obscenities. At the same time, I have a problem with excessive swearing. Sure, in real life, you can't go more than ten minutes without hearing something that should be bleeped out. But anything explicit in your novel should be in there for a reason. Don't throw in a bunch of four letter words and assume that this will bring your character to life as a teenager. It won't. Mild swearing in the right situations is okay. But swearing excessively doesn't gain you respect anymore. We don't like people in real life who aren't capable of a single G-rated conversation, so why should we care about them in writing?”
Amy Zhang, 16-year-old author represented by Emily Keyes with the L. Perkins Agency
“When it’s swearing for the sake of it, it’s annoying. But when it’s a natural conversation it’s alright, it’s easy to identify with.”
Amy N, 16-year-old YA reader
"In my novel there’s a gruesome scene involving bodily functions. The phrase ‘do their business’ was entirely too casual when ‘shit’ not only cut out a few words but added to the gruesome nature of the scene, of which, served to demonstrate the gruesome nature of my character’s predicament. It had plot value.

I think it’s acceptable to use a small amount of bad language – the occasional shit, bastard and arse. Young adults swear just as much if not more than adults, right? I would never use the F or C word though. Those are my personal limits.

I think if there’s a genuine reason, (for plot, emotion, or character) then some bad language is acceptable."
Ruth Ellen Parlour, YA author of EARTH ANGEL

For me, I think it mostly comes down to voice. I wasn’t concentrating on the swearing when writing my main character – I was just focusing on his voice. And dude likes to swear. But will readers like him..? Hmm.
“It annoys me because in Year 7 (age 11-12) you never got to read recommended books because they had swearing in.”
Megan, 14-year-old YA reader
“There's no doubt about it, teenagers swear in their daily lives, some quite profusely. However, novels are a representation of real life, not real life itself. Teenagers often want to read about characters whom they can look up to. Characters that swear continuously provide poor role-models for teenagers.

In literature, the writer has time to carefully craft the words and to consider what their characters will say. Therefore, they don't need to rely heavily on swearing to articulate a point.

In my opinion, if swearing is used, it should be in suitably dramatic moments, where the character is not thinking about what they are saying and instead give a knee jerk reaction to a situation. Has something horrifying happened to the character? Are they in extreme pain or distress? Are they terrified? Used in these circumstances, carefully placed swearing can show a character's reaction to a situation and add to the drama and tension of a scene.”
Clare Davidson, YA author of TRINITY
Well then...does it make a difference if it's a YA or adult novel? I asked a friend who writes both.
"When I first started out writing one of my Women’s Fiction stories, I shared an opening chapter with a group online and got a comment that said, “I really loved this!  But I normally don’t read anything with this sort of profanity, so I would have to stop reading.  But other than that it was great!” 

This was a moment of EEK for me.  My first thought was, “Oh god, my mom was right…”  No one in my house swears at all, so my predilection for the mighty “F” word as an adult has garnered a few disappointed head shakes.  My second thought was, “Wait a minute, people fucking swear, damn it!!”

Now, in Women’s Fiction, I have a wider range of profanity usage.  Ever since that comment I try to be very mindful of the appropriateness and not just swearing for swearing’s sake.  When I started my YA novel, I made a very specific point early on to NOT swear.  Thinking of impressionable youth and my potential to corrupt them, I set out to write a clever, but clean story.

As I wrote, dialogue specifically, I realized that the words sounded oddly forced at times.  Because when someone is trying to kill you, “Oh, golly gee darn it!” is not going to cut it.  And the reality is that people swear.  Teenagers curse.  A lot.  With a brilliant and unappreciated fluency.   
What I learned while writing my YA is that yes, you should be on guard.  Don’t drop F-bombs for the sake of shock and perceived appeal.  But don’t stray away from realistic story-telling for the sake of purity.  Because sometimes, shit happens.  And we are going to fucking write about it.
Summer Heacock, writer of YA and Women’s Fiction 
I also asked my amazing agent for her view.

“As an agent, I'm not put off by a lot of swearing in a manuscript. Most authors, when told that the profanity in their books will make it harder to sell, are willing to dial it down if I suggest it. I'm reminded of the great Chris Crutcher's story about his first book, Running Loose: his editor suggested that while Greenwillow Books was willing to publish his manuscript regardless of the language he used, there were a couple of words in it that would make it a tough sell to the (quite significant) school and library markets in the U.S.  "During that editing time," he later wrote, "when one of my mother's friends asked her how I was doing, my mom told her she hadn't heard from me for two weeks, that she thought I was holed up at my typewriter unfucking my book." I trot this story out whenever I tell authors to be prepared for an editor to suggest they do some unfucking of their own.”
Molly Ker Hawn, (my amazing) Agent with The Bent Agency
“If you don’t want swearing, read Twilight!!”
William, 15-year-old YA reader

And I think William pretty much nailed it for me there. If teens choose not to read something that has swearing in it, THAT’S FINE. Teens can choose to read what they like, not just YA novels with or without swearing, even – OMG – adult novels! The choice is theirs to read books with swearing or not, as long as we don’t go all crazy with the censoring.

What do YOU think about swearing in YA novels? Where do you draw the line?