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Writers' & Artists' Blog

The Key To NaNoWrimo Success

Sharon Sant

People who know me will point and laugh at the title of this blog post. Planning is not a word that features strongly in my vocabulary and I’m certainly not known for it. In life I tend to be quite spontaneous, often impulsive, and my writing frequently follows that ethos. This is not a problem for the most part (we all work differently, after all) but throw into the mix a time constraint, and that’s when my natural way of working becomes an issue. 

The first time I participated in NaNoWriMo I used it to write the last instalment in my young adult Sky Song trilogy. The first two books, Sky Song and The Young Moon, had already been written, and the overall story had progressed to a point at which the final book could only follow a certain path. In lieu of a plan, I had the denouement the previous two instalments had driven me towards and the last book, Not of Our Sky, almost wrote itself.  Page after page flashed by, the words tumbling out. How easy, I thought, is this …

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From NaNoWriMo to Self-Publishing

Christopher Law

Last year I was invited to contribute to the series of blogs by participants in Nanowrimo 2013, which made me feel a little like a proper writer and was also quite useful in keeping me focused. 

Nano is a lot of fun but I know from previous experience that keeping the motivation can be incredibly hard, particularly if you're behind on the word count towards the end. I completed the challenge last year, with twenty minutes to spare, but my bragging rights are beside the point.

As a thank you for taking part I was able to submit my novel for the first stage of Writers and Artists' analysis service and receive some feedback on the synopsis and the opening chapter. I'm not an obsessive perfectionist but I do try to take a little pride in the work I show to other people so before I sent anything in I tidied everything up and got it as close to professional as I could manage. At this point I need to acknowledge my Dad, who manages to be an enthusiastic but impartial beta-reader and also …

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Post-Submission Decisions

Writing advice

Each step along the path to publication throws up fresh dilemmas. I had assumed, once I’d sent off my opening chapters to agents, that I’d have no more decisions to make in the submissions process. But this was not the case. Almost immediately, I began asking myself questions like, how long I should allow for a response and what action should I take when I receive one.

 The advice I gave myself to the first question was to be patient. Agents are busy people, as we all know. They will always prioritise their existing authors over any potential newcomers. But, they will get around to reading my work eventually, because they have to find new authors too. It just takes time. Most agents post guidelines on their websites as to how long you should allow before chasing a submission. I would be inclined to allow longer. I know, in my own life, that targets are often missed and it can be annoying to have this pointed out.

 Next question: how do I respond to the responses? When I do …

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The Importance of Perseverance

Gilly McAllister

I had no idea on that sunny July morning that my life was about to change. It wasn't a very typical morning, actually. I was on a course all week, not at my desk, and was enjoying the short hours and the socialising. I'd found a nearby independent cafe that sold delicious vanilla lattes and was consuming two a day. At 1pm, idly checking my email on my lunch hour, I saw it. And that's when my life changed. 

But there's a bit of backstory, first. I had written a novel, sporadically, over the preceding few years, and finally queried agents the previous summer. After a few full manuscript requests and quite a lot of angst, it was roundly rejected. I researched the querying process, then, though, and I realised that my rejections weren't absolutely typical. Only a few were form rejections, and most of the others said things like, "send me your next novel, if you write one," and "you write really well, but I'm not sure this has a big enough concept for a debut into publishing." I …

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Literary Festivals Are The New Rock & Roll

Kilburn Literary Festival

Literary festivals are the new rock and roll.

Ok - maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but they are definitely branching out in their appeal. No longer the preserve of genteel market towns, literary festivals have gone urban. 

Nowhere is this more evident than in London. Putting aside the giant London Literary Festival, it seems that every nook, cranny and postcode is holding a Literary Festival - from central London’s Soho Literary Festival (with it’s 36 events at The Soho Theatre), to the leafy suburbs of The Hampstead & Highgate Literary Festival, where over 90 authors appear over 3 days. 

Now back to my popular music analogy...

While the slightly edgier Stoke Newington Literary Festival - which celebrates the area’s radical and literary history - brings a bit more rock and roll to the London literary calendar, The Kilburn Literary Festival is the newcomer going all out to claim the title of funkiest festival of the …

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