Blogiversary giveaway. And the winner is…

 Last week I celebrated my first blogiversary with a giveaway. Up for grabs were copies of these beauties:

The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth and The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine and illustrated by Julia Sarda book covers photoThe Mystery of the Jewelled Moth and The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine and illustrated by Julia Sarda book covers photo

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow and The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine (click for my reviews).

I’m delighted to say that lots of people entered – thank you for taking part.

And the lucky winner is… Lindsay from Book boodle. If you don’t already follow Lindsay’s blog, you really should. Lots of lovely books and baking 🙂

On a blogging note, this was my first giveaway and first time using Rafflecopter. After initially being puzzled by a few things, in the end it was all quite straightforward. I’m now more confident I know what I’m doing and hope to host another giveaway sooner rather than later 🙂

Thank you to everyone who entered and all my lovely readers!


Claire Huston / Art and Soul
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1st blogiversary + 500 followers = giveaway time!

Who thought this day would come?

excited baby with birthday present gif

When I started this blog a year ago, it was mainly to give myself something to do while submitting my first novel to literary agents. There’s been some progress on that front, and while I still haven’t got an agent or publishing deal, I believe my book is better now than it was a year ago. In fact, I have a few more edits to make after receiving encouraging feedback from my reader in the Romantic Novelists’ Association (thank you, whoever you are) and then it’ll be back to submissions.

I told myself that I’d host a giveaway when I’d been blogging a year (this seemed unlikely last April) or had 500 followers (which seemed unthinkable). However, the stars have aligned and I’ve hit both milestones at the same time!

Thank you so much to all of you lovely people for following my ramblings and baking adventures. I put a lot of thought into what the greatest number of you might like to win for yourself or to pass on to someone else, and this is what I came up with… *insert drumroll*

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Visit to Coombe Abbey Country Park and a quick writing update

Coombe Abbey hotel and Coombe Abbey Country Park near Coventry 3

If you follow my ramblings, you’ll know I recently sent the first 3 chapters of my book, Art and Soul, to an editor. His feedback lead to me deciding to cut chapters 1 and 2 and do a whole other bunch of edits (more about all this here).

I retreated to the writing cave and the edits are done! I sent the “new” first three chapters to the literary agent who had asked to see them (*biting nails until I hear back*). I also sent the whole manuscript to the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Scheme (*biting stubs of nails until I hear back*).

Hopefully the agent will want to see the rest of the MS and I’ll get positive feedback from my RNA reader.

In the meantime, after stepping out from the writing cave and blinking in the sunlight… We went to visit Coombe Abbey and Coombe Country Park, which are near Coventry and a short drive from us.

Coombe Abbey hotel and Coombe Country Park near Coventry 1

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Exciting writing times and why I may be absent for a while…

Exciting developments, my friends!

Excited gif

 

But first, the story so far. Skip this if you’re up to date on my writing-related wafflings…

I’ve written a book (see Art and Soul for more about that). I’ve been sending the first three chapters to literary agents, but haven’t been getting anywhere. I recently sent it to an editor and he suggested deleting chapters 1 and 2 and starting with chapter 3. As a result, I’m currently staring at a huge pile of edits.

And now back to the exciting news!

Having thought I hadn’t made the cut (and been rather disappointed), last week I was beyond delighted to receive an invitation to join the Romantic Novelist Association‘s New Writer’s Scheme. The Scheme allows unpublished novelists writing in the romance genre to submit their manuscript to an existing RNA member for critique. You also get to take part in all RNA activities and events.

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Editing your novel. My experience of getting professional feedback

To date, I’ve submitted the first 3 chapters of my first novel, Art and Soul, to 23 literary agents to no avail.

So, before continuing with submissions, I decided it was time to ask a professional editor to look at those first three chapters and give me critical feedback.

I researched my options, selected my editor, sent off my first 3 chapters and synopsis, and waited for their report with a mixture of excitement and dread.

Editor writing cartoon

The good

I paid for critical and I got it. However, for the sake of my own self-esteem I must keep repeating an opening comment: “on the whole” I write well. That’s a relief. I shouldn’t chuck it all in just yet then. 🙂

The improveable

There were bits and bobs I won’t bore you with, because the headline, Dear Reader, was tremendous: cut chapters 1 and 2 and start with chapter 3.
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Editing your own writing: identifying your errors and bad habits

Support group for writers editing cartoon

Back in December, I wrote a post asking whether you can ever really finish editing a piece of your own writing. I talked about how I’d recently re-read my entire novel after a six-month break and been surprised by how much I wanted and needed to change.

In this post, I thought I’d share some of my editorial findings and pet problems. All punctuated by some good cartoons, of course 🙂

Peanuts Snoopy Editing and writing cartoon

One of my most common editing notes was “fix flow”, which makes it sound as though I need a plumber rather than an editor! These were places in the story where I felt the connection between sentences or paragraphs was too sudden or jarring and needed smoothing; as if reading were like climbing down a ladder and suddenly a rung was missing. I blame these absent rungs on a previous round of harsh word-cutting prior to submitting to literary agents. From “internet wisdom” I became convinced that if my MS was over 90,000 words I had no hope of anyone asking to read it. And so I cut as many words as I could, leaving things a little too bare in places. However, now it seems I’ll be self-publishing, the book can be as long as I damn well think it needs to be! So the words are going back in (you can’t stop me, mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha… you get the idea).

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Editing your own writing. Can you ever be “done”?

When is a book finished? And other writerly ponderings…

I finished the first draft of my first novel, Art and Soul, back in November 2014. I spent two months editing, then sent the manuscript to my first two readers. While they were reading, I read a couple of books on self-editing and realized I’d committed a lot of glaring errors.

I used my readers’ feedback and what I’d learnt from the books to do another complete manuscript “fix”. I then sent this draft to more readers. Their feedback resulted in more re-writes, particularly to the beginning of chapter 1, which I freely admit I’m still not 100% happy with.

The writer funny by Tom Gauld cartoon writing problems

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Short NaNoWriMo 2015 wrap-up

writing is difficult writer's problems cartoon

A couple of weeks ago I did a NaNoWriMo 2015 mid-point update.

And I know you’ve all been losing sleep wondering if I managed to stick to my target to write an average of 1,000 words a day in November. Haven’t you? 😉

The good news is… *insert drumroll*

Calvin and Hobbes dancing

I did it! As you can see from my stats here below, I reached my goal by the skin of my teeth, but I did it.

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The Real Neat Blog Award

 

Thank you to Charley at booksandbakes1 and Deanna at a novel glimpse for nominating me for the Real Neat Blog Award. As is becoming a bit of a theme here, it’s taken me a while to get round to responding to these nominations. Sorry. Please check out Charley and Deanna’s lovely blogs to help make up for my tardiness.

Thank_you cat gif


The Rules:

1. Thank and link to the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer the 7 questions the nomination has provided.
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.
4. Create 7 questions for your nominees.

I’m going to “bend” the rules. To stop this post becoming ridiculously long, I’m going to answer the first 4 of Charley’s 7 questions and the last 3 of Deanna’s.


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read?

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#NaNoWriMo 2015: mid-point update

For those of you who’ve seen NaNoWriMo popping up all over the place the past couple of weeks and are wondering what it’s all about, the following cartoon gives a neat summary:

nanowrimo cartoon funny will write for chocolate @inkyelbows 3

I decided writing 50,000 words was an unrealistic goal for me. Instead I decided to use November to write an average of 1,000 words a day on my work in progress, my second novel. This project has been stalled for the last three months. Back in July I hit 47,000 words and the difficult “middle section”: not as exciting as the start, not as thrilling as nearing the end. I think it may be the writing equivalent of “the wall”.

And… so far, so good! As of last night I have written 15,421 in fifteen days 🙂

So although I won’t write 50,000 words in November and “win” NaNoWriMo, it looks like I will be 30,000 words further towards “The End” and hopefully closer to the original plan of having a first draft written by Christmas.

To everyone else doing NaNoWriMo and those having to live, work or interact with anyone taking part: keep going! You can do it! 15 days down, only 15 to go. Oh, and I find chocolate helps…

nanowrimo cartoon funny will write for chocolate @inkyelbows 2

If you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo 2015, how’s it going? If you’d like to be writing buddies, you can find me on the NaNo site under my Twitter handle: ClaraVal 🙂

 Claire Huston / Art and Soul