Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Voices of YA#

#Voices of YA Tag!

Firstly I want to say a huge THANK YOU to Amy@AMagicalWorldOfWords for tagging me. Considering it was back in July, apologies that its taken me so long to answer!

Also thank you to Caitlin @QuillsandCoffee for coming up with the original Voices of YA# - those were some good questions :)


  1. What draws you to write  YA?

I think what I find exciting about YA is all the new experiences. Teenage years are usually when you have your first romance, first kiss… and normally when you take that first step into discovering who you are and what you are capable of. Catching these things in a story is thrilling and I love sharing these experiences alongside my characters. 

2) Describe your writing process. Do you like outlines and structure, or seeing where the story takes you?

I like to experiment with my writing, trying new methods when the old ones grow stale. However I always start a story with at least an image of the ending, and I only ever plot a couple of chapters in advance. These are like story beats - points I want to hit upon in each chapter - but the journey between the points is completely made up along the way.

However I find it very useful to work with a reward system. My favourite is something I discovered on V.E Schwab’s youtube channel. The star method :) Basically I give myself a star for every 1000 words I hit. The app WRITERS BLOCK is also incredibly useful to me, blocking off EVERYTHING until my word target is hit. You can find more info about it this post HERE.

3) How long have you been writing? Where are you in your journey?

I’m currently finishing up edits of my second book - A MG Fantasy which I will start querying to agents soon. Thankfully this book only took me a year to write. My previous a novel (A YA Fantasy that will never see the light of day) I worked on for nearly ten years! 

As you can imagine, like many first books it was dreadful, but that book taught me a lot about writing and showed me I could indeed, finishing writing a full length novel. Even now that novel will always have a warm place in my heart.

Otherwise I read a lot as a child. I remember though I was seven years old when I first tried my hand at writing something. It was 1997, my mum had brought us a computer that used the old dial-up broadband, and I recall sitting down and typing out a story about pirates. The main character had my name (although I swear the character was not me!) but I still have that first story… although it never was finished.

4) What do you need to write? Coffee? Music?

Thinking time - which usually requires silence or music without lyrics. Movie soundtracks or trailer scores are my usual go to. Otherwise I use a pen and paper for plotting, and will occasionally write a scene out long hand, but only when I’m stuck. Normally I write straight onto my laptop, and while a cup of tea or coffee isn't essential, it is a nice perk. 

However I sometimes also write at the gym. Between brutal sets of weight lifting, squats and whatever other torture my fitness-freak-boyfriend enjoys putting me thorough - I found I can escape the pain by thinking about the next few lines of my story. I’ll repeat them over and over in my head and as soon as I get a break, I jot them down on my phone to type up later. Although I do like running on the treadmill - that’s also good plotting time!

5) If you could offer up one piece of advice to another writer (other than “don’t give up”) what would it be?

Find a good critique partner! You’re usually too close to the story to see any faults or plot holes, plus a great critique partner will also cheer you on and help keep you accountable to writing!

I would also say read books on the craft. After I finished my ten year slog through book one, I took a break from writing to read every book on the craft I could find. It helped my writing immensely! Books with exercises are particularly helpful. For those writing children’s fiction, I would totally recommend THE MAGIC OF WORDS by Cheryl B. Klein. Also TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS AND OUTLINE by LIBBIE HAWKER is great for trying your hand at plotting.


1) What book still has you reeling from it’s plot twist?

Sadly the only book that totally shocked me this year did so in a really negative way. And that was the ending to Erika Johansen’s Queen of the Tearling Trilogy. I had loved those books so so much, but I absolutely detested the ending of the last book. It made the whole story so redundant and even months on, I’m still sore about it!

2) What books are you most anticipating for this year?

This is a really hard one, but a book that I'm super excited to pick up is Phillip Pullman's new one: THE BOOK OF DUST. I loved his dark materials series so much as a child, although I appreciated the books so much more after re-reading them as an adult. 

3) What is your favourite quote from YA lit?

A quote that always stuck with me was from Laini Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. All I know is that if I ever have children, I’m sharing this advice with them:

“I don't know many rules to live by,' he'd said. 'But here's one. It's simple. Don't put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles--drug or inessential penises either.'

'Inessential penises?' Karou had repeated, delighted with the phrase in spite of her grief. 'Is there any such thing as an essential one?'

'When an essential one comes along, you'll know,' he'd replied.” 

4) What book do you most hope will have a movie adaption?

I’m probably picking a cliche but I would love to see any of Sarah J Maas’ books adapted to film. The same with Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows. I feel there just aren't enough High Fantasy movies and I. WANT. MORE!



- Thank the person who tagged you 
-Link to the original creator  
- Answer the questions 
- Tag at LEAST two other YA writers/bloggers

Friday, 3 November 2017

October in Review

Park in Warsaw - Poland

October In Review

October has been a truly wonderful month for me. While I haven't done much blogging - nor near as much reading as usual - I have been off exploring new places and simply basking in the Autumn glow. 

This Months Highlights:

AUTUMN - This is the first time I’ve experienced a real autumn in almost five years. When I lived in China, Summer reigned nine months of the year, winter the other three. There wasn't much of a transition between them, so being back in England has been blissful. The darkening nights, the sunset colours (So many colours!) and the ground littered with acorns and horse-chestnuts … It’s so magical! And while I’m sure I sound like special maple leaf to you guys, I will never take another spring or autumn for granted again.

NEW BEGINNINGS -  At the start of October my grandmother turned 88. A week later she made the decision to leave her house, and move into a care home. She is literally the BRAVEST person I know. 

Watching her sort through all her possessions, each one a  treasured memory, was heartbreaking, but for all the things she said goodbye too, she just tapped her head and said, “Everything is up here.” Then she tapped her heart, “And everyone I care about is in here.” 

Starting over in a new place at her age is daunting, but no challenge seems to much for my grandmother. I just wanted to give her a shout out today, because I hope one day I can be half as brave as her.

POLAND - Yes, I’m travelling again. Its fantastic being back on the road. I’m also thrilled after 3.5 months to be reunited with my partner in crime (aka - the boyfriend) who was off being superman in Canada. Nothing makes you realise how much you love someone until circumstances demand you apart! ... although I forgot how much he hogs the the blankets.

But Poland is amazing! So far we have consumed so many pirogies (Polish Dumplings), lots of goulash and the most amazing pancakes I’ve had in a good long while. Then there have been some amazing parks - an unexpected snow day during one hike - all followed by the best hot chocolate EVER that I found in Krakow.

I'll be doing a post on my Polish adventures later in the week for anyone who is interested. 

But now its November... and we are in Hungary, Budapest :)

Books Read:

  1. Hysteria by Lily Blake (Reign #2) ***
  2. Stolen Songbird by Danielle .L. Jensen ***
  3. The Songbird’s Overture by Danielle .L. Jensen **
  4. A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee **
  5. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo ***** (Loved Loved Loved!)
  6. Water’s Wrath by Elise Kova *** 
  7. Crystal Crowned by Elise Kova ****
  8. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake ****


And that warps up October!

How is life for the rest of you? I hope you had a brilliant month too. Anything special in store for November? And good luck for anyone tackling NaNoWriMo this year!