Sunday, 18 December 2011

Reflections on the last seven weeks…

What other job would let you walk into work, dressed in a silly green top hat and scarf, to spend a chunk of time pretending to be Scrooge? Where else would your feeble attempts at drama be met with a round of applause from impressed eleven-year-olds?

In what other job could you read silly stories like Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale as part of its requirements? What other job requires you to be on top of all the latest children’s fiction, in order to be able to sincerely recommend it?

Where else would you always be the most powerful person in the room, the one who decides upon every activity that takes place in the room? Elsewhere, how often would people turn to you, with an implicit trust that you will have their answer? In what other job could your mind be opened in a brand new way, by a single insightful comment?

Where else can you teach a word like “inferior” and then read twenty-four essays a week later that include it (often with the right spelling and almost always in the right context)?

In what other job can you care so much about a group of people and be determined to do your all to help them achieve their very best? Where else would you receive an “aww” or a round of applause when you explain that you won’t be there after the holidays?

How often does a job have perks like a free performance, where a bunch of youths display their musical talents? Choirs, solo singers, brass bands, pianists and more. In what other job could you watch a free production of Grease, where an all-star amateur cast of adults put themselves on display for the amusement of others? Or where, if you felt brave enough (which I didn’t), you could join them?

The last seven weeks have been exhausting. I’ve never had a moment to myself. Stress has kept me awake many nights. There have been times when I’ve cried. And cried. And cried.

But I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Spreading the word...

I've been googling myself again. I know, I know. Egotistical freak. Actually, I was wanting to see whether my email address was floating around at all (which might explain a recent influx of annoying spam).

What I found when typing in part of my email address was bizarrely disturbing:

On this page is a review by "E. Taylor "elizabeth_jane_taylor" (24 September 2011)". And it is indeed a review I wrote. But I didn't write it on 24 September 2011 and I didn't write it on that website. It was written on years ago, just after The Da Vinci Code was first released on DVD.

Not that I really mind my words being spread around, but it was strange to see it re-published without my permission. Really random, too. Having glanced at the other reviews on the page, I can only think that the website owners were looking for reviews that compared to the book to the film. Maybe it's a new site and they wanted to make themselves look popular by stealing reviews from elsewhere and claiming users wrote them on their pages.

It's still rather disconcerting. And shows how things don't simply disappear from the web once you publish them. They can, apparently, randomly reappear after years of being forgotten.

Be careful what you write: you never know who might be reading or where it's been published.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Another nice quote

This is from the same episode of Fry's Planet Word (I guess it's hardly surprising that I enjoy a lot of what he says about the written word!). In describing reading, he says:

“It’s like a will o’ the wisp, one book lights another book, which lights another one, which lights another one.”

Lovely way of describing intertextuality, one of the joys of reading.

That episode also moved on to speculate over the future of the written word. One particularly interesting thing about the ebook, which I hadn't thought about before, was mentioned: the possibility of a multimodal text. As technologies advance, an ebook novel could be a hybrid of all sorts of different things like written text, images, videos, sounds and more. What a curious thought! What would that mean for the genre of the novel? It could take it into all kinds of strange dimensions... Well worth watching that episode for food for thought.

It's half term at the moment. And also my birthday tomorrow, which I keep forgetting about. Happy birthday to me... I have lots of planning to do for my teaching. When I go back after half term, I'll need to be ready to teach A Christmas Carol, The Canterbury Tales (a play version), Media and GCSE English Language. It's going to be a busy week!

Monday, 17 October 2011


Here's a lovely quote:

"I can never forget the moment I first saw a novel I’d written that had arrived from the printers. I put it on the table and I looked at it and I lowered my eyes to its level, I sniffed it, I opened it, I walked and circled it, I simply couldn’t believe that something I had written could end up as that magical thing - bound, printed text, a book."

It's by Stephen Fry and comes from Episode 4 of Planet Word, a BBC series currently airing about language. Ahhh... how I dream of that day! It would be, as he puts it, magical. Today I received some books - real, printed books - from one of my writing buddies and that was amazing in itself. To think that one day, perhaps, it could be my words in there... It's all part of the dream.

I'd recommend the television program to anyone who is even the slightest bit interested in language. So far the series has been about language acquisition (fascinating topic), the many languages and accents across the world (very funny episode), the uses and abuses of language (lots of swearing), and the one I'm watching at the moment is about writing itself.

Wonderful. :)

Friday, 7 October 2011

One Direction to Insanity

Been a while since I blogged, though I'm not sure how much I should blog about day-in-day-out of life at the moment because of 'safe-guarding'. I'm not sure I'd want the wonderful children at my school to find this...

But I'm suitably outraged to write an interesting blog post, so feast your eyes on this:

I heard about this particular ebay item last night on CrimeWatch. Last night, those two tickets were selling on ebay for about £2000. Which was outrageous in itself! But I was curious to know just how much it would sell for and watched the item with my ebay account. The price you see is the one it sold for, as far as I can make out. (It's disappeared from the listings now).

Almost doubled in one day.

Three thousand seven hundred pounds!

Where to begin? I seriously am flabbergasted. I can't see how you could justify a figure like £100 for a single night's entertainment (though people in Cambridge regularly do it with their crazy May Balls), but this is of a totally different scale!

Think of all the things you could do with that kind of money! You could go to somewhere like Australia for a substantial holiday, or around all the roller-coasters in Florida. Or it would get you a cheap second hand car. Or you could buy a million books... The possibilities are endless. But there's one similarity to everything in MY list: if I'm going to pay thousands for it, at least it'll last for quite a long time!

And to see a silly boy band, of all things! I paid £65 for David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing fairly recently, because the cheap tickets had already sold out. I wasn't entirely happy about it, but it seemed worth it overall. Brilliant experience. Yet, if the tickets had been any more than that, I'd simply have passed. Even something like an opera in London is only a couple of hundred pounds, and that's for one of the highest forms of art...


I mean, I'm half inclined to suppose it's fake and that it's someone's idea of a publicity stunt. If so, then hats off to whoever thought it up: you've successfully conned me into doing some advertising for you.

But if it IS real...

Even cliches like "some people have more money than sense" don't cut it. It's so extreme.


All I can say is... if you have £4000 to throw away, can you please throw it in my direction? Thank you.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Angry Rant about Student Finance

I imagine there are other people like me. I've been brought up to live within my means, to buy when I can afford, to abhor the 'buy now, pay later' culture. I abhor my student debts and I've lived like a pauper for the last three years so that I'll be able to pay it off as soon as I possibly can. I HATE the fact that it hangs over me. And I don't see why I should pay a penny in interest, when the costs are already ridiculously large at the beginning.

I'm a lucky one. I feel sorry for people born three years after me, who will face the £9000 debts a year, just in terms of tuition fees. Who won't have a choice but to have the debts with them until they're about 50 or however long it takes for the debts to be written off.

And so you can probably understand why this absolutely sickens me:

I can image that other people share my mentality. Who'll decide, when faced with £9000 of debt each year, to go to local unis to reduce their debts and who'll save as much as they possibly can during that time (with part time jobs and things) to try get rid of the debts as fast as possible. Not because they'll eventually become "high" earners. But because they can't stand the fact of living in debt all their lives.

And to celebrate such honest, hard-working people, the government wants to introduce penalties for paying off debts early. It won't apply to me, of course, and once again I can only feel so thankful that I was born in 1989 and not a few years later. But my heart goes out to anyone in later generations who has a similar mindset to me. It really does.

Hopefully such an evil scheme won't go through... The think tank says it won't be cost-effective, so hopefully the government will reconsider. After all, it's all about money.

I've always been in favour of a fair student "tax", which works on a sliding scale depending on your income. Tax sounds so much better than debt. Effectively, the government debt scheme is trying to BE a tax. So I don't get why they didn't just introduce one in the first place. It must be numbers. They think they can get more out of people by introducing a debt that builds interest. Horrible.

Well, angry rant over.

Thursday, 8 September 2011


September. *blows out the dust again* Time for a new blogging resolution to blog a bit more regularly. I've had quite a lot of ideas for blogs recently, but haven't actually got around to writing them. It's a bit frustrating...unless you blog it right when the mood hits you, you sort of lose enthusiasm with it (and 2am is an annoying time to turn the computer on). Maybe that's why people like Twitter--a handful of characters isn't very time consuming...

Anyway, you've probably heard of this blog topic before: Goodreads, a place to record the books you read and what you thought of them. I was a little unsure what to make of it when I joined up, but since then I've added a few books and I actually quite like it. It's nice to make a record of the books because with my bad memory, it's always quite hard to remember what I've read...

For some reason, there's also something satisfying in totting up the books into a nice, ever-growing statistic. We like stats, as humans, don't we? Even though most of them are nonsense (99% of statistics are made up on the spot...geddit?). My Goodreads only lists about 80 books, but that's because I can't be bothered to wrack my brains *too* hard to recall everything I've ever read. Still, I'm trying to start a habit of adding every NEW book I read, and the number's creeping up now.

The website also gives you updates on the authors you've read before, whenever they publish something new. Like a while back, I found out through it that Mary Hoffman has a new book out. Not the Stravaganza series that I like but something standalone. Whenever I have a spare moment to read something of my own choice (doesn't happen very often!), I'll get around to reading it.

You can have friends on Goodreads and compare your reading tastes, which is quite interesting, too. More fun stats. Unfortunately I only have two friends, so if you're reading this and aren't a complete stranger, feel free to add me... my profile is here.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Rejection, rejection, rejection...

Unfortunately the rejection letters have been trickling in over the last few weeks - electronic submissions seem to work much faster than mailed ones!

Now I have a choice: do I send out Between Time electronically to some agents across the pond, or do I send out some postal queries in the UK, or do I e-publish it for the Kindle?

I have exactly one month left before I run out of writing time and start my PGCE.


I think I'll try some electronic submissions to US agents. I'm considering 'translating' the novel for those agents. What do you think? It should be fairly easy, because I know a lot about American spelling (and grammar) already: ize/ise, colour/color, travelling/traveling...etc. I just found a useful site: which has a neat list of differences!

The only problem is that I've not got much time. I haven't done any writing for a week, because I went away to Liverpool to volunteer. The idea of the week is to give kids a holiday when they wouldn't normally have one. It was really good fun, but very tiring! We went ice skating, laser questing, to a Maise Maze, to a muddy adventure trail, for spooky night walks, to many parks, to a lake, to the beach, to the cinema, to Blackpool Pleasure Beach... and more! I also now know how to tell a really boring story that's certain to send kids to sleep!

And I need to pack today, because I head off to Amsterdam for a mini-break tomorrow. After that, I have a week gap where I *may* get some writing stuff done, but then I have another week of volunteering, and only then do I have a final week to myself where I might get sorted for submissions/writing.


Did I say I had a month? It's more like one final week! :o

I have reached 20K with the new novel I'm writing, at least. The second 'phase' of that novel is now complete and I'm about to head into the next bit. It could be tricky because I have to make around six months pass in this section...

I guess I just have to make the most of the time remaining. I will have time to submit Between Time in the States, but not to then e-publish it when I get a load of rejections. E-publication might have to wait until next summer. It might seem like a very sloooooooow process, but at least the delay will give the UK Kindle market time to grow!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Ready to be battered

Well, I finally accomplished one of my summer goals - I sent Between Time out to its first agent. After researching them, it appears the UK market has grown a little in the last few years and there are even agents who accept e-submissions (around five in total). So I'm concentrating on those first.

It's always a difficult question to know how many agents to send out to at once, especially when some of them seem funny about multiple submissions. A number ask you to make clear if you're sending it out to more than one. I don't understand why they care. Because if one offers you acceptance before any other, you can politely withdraw your MS from the others. I simply don't have time to wait 6-8 weeks for rejection before moving on.

The main argument for submitting only to a couple is that you can, if you're rejected, polish the MS more before you submit to the next batch. I have revised Between Time quite a bit since the last time it was out with agents. Particularly the first chapter, which I thought needed more of a hook.

Well, it's out there. The subject of this blog isn't quite accurate, though. A number of these agents differ from my past experience: they let you know that your work has been received, but only respond then if they're interested. So when I hear nothing after 6-8 weeks, I know that I'm rejected. That's a little frustrating, because, while I don't like rejection letters, they do at least give a sense of closure to a query. Oh well.

Ha, listen to me. Such a pessimist! Wish me luck. ;)

Sunday, 17 July 2011


A number of my friends seem to be turning to e-publication. I had another request for proof-reading last week, which I finished yesterday. I don't want to say too much about that novel yet, but when it hits the e-shelves, I'll write all about it here.

It's such a dilemma for me!

My brother made a really gorgeous cover for my midgrade/tween novel, Between Time. It made me want to e-publish it even more! Because that novel is now as ready as it will ever be. I just let my younger sister read through to check the vocab level, and she also seemed to enjoy it. Critiques have always been positive. If I made a back cover, a book trailer, and prepare it for e-publication, it could be out in a month!

I had a dream, too, that I DID e-publish it. I was on a website, watching the 'sold' count creep up. Not hugely, but as high as 20 sales in the dream. And it was SO EXCITING!

But I'm just worried that I'd be limiting my sales if I e-publish... because I just can't see THAT many 11 year old kids owning Kindles. I don't know. This thread on seems promising... but hmm. What do you think?

This summer is rapidly vanishing. If I'm going to go down the traditional route, I must get a large batch of queries out in the next week or so... so the rejections can pile up before September.

What to do? What to do? I hate query writing. I hate researching agents and pretending I care about them. I don't really get how you're supposed to do it anyway. The UK market, I'm pretty sure, is different to the US one. The UK ones are more elusive.

If I e-published, there would be challenges in a DIFFERENT way, but at least then there would be a clear end goal.


In other news, I finally took a deep breath and made a start on 'Zack'. It needs some major structural work, which is always the hardest part! But if I keep battering at it, I might make headway eventually.

My newest novel is progressing quite nicely, though. I've reached the first 10K hurdle, and considering that the novel is probably tween, that's probably a good fifth of the way. I'm slightly worried this novel might end up being a little too long for its age-range, but I'll just have to see. No point in fretting over that at this stage!

So yes. Things are progressing. But slowly. And there's only so much summer left...

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Results are in...

...and they were what I needed to progress to the next level. :D Once the graduation ceremony is over this weekend, I shall officially have a degree from Cambridge and will be moving on to my Post-Graduate Certificate of Education. Hehehe.

To continue on from the previous blog post, my sister and I have now sent off our competition entries. They'll start their journey through the post tomorrow, and should be there by the Friday deadline without a struggle. Good to have something out there. Maybe it'll inspire me to get on with other things too.

To say that today has been a stressful (waiting for the results, which didn't arrive until around 4pm!) and unproductive day is fairly accurate, although I have made a little progress, at least, with something. I started to look through Between Time, to give it another edit before I start researching agents for it. It's always surprising how much you can edit something when you leave it to sit for a while. I want to get submissions out for it before the end of the summer.

Still no Zack related news, of course. Seems like I'm doing everything I can to avoid it. Oh dear, oh dear. Still, tomorrow is a new day!

Monday, 27 June 2011


A few weeks ago, I had a dream in which I was writing this blog post. In my dream, I hadn't edited Zack, but I did have a new novel.

Reality doesn't have such an achievement. I have written a short story, though. I was doing a little research for my newest novel on the Jacqueline Wilson website and I noticed there was a writing competition there. The winners are published in an anthology and there's an award ceremony at her Literary Festival in October.

I figured I might as well give it a shot, because to have ANY published credit has to help, even though I wouldn't get paid for it. I didn't mind that I'd lose the rights to the story as I would write it entirely for the competition.

Short stories are a pain to write. It took me about three months to think up an idea. Or at least to develop my initial idea into a coherent story. I think I've managed now, though... With some extensive editing, I've managed to keep it to the word count of 2000 words. Yay!

The story continues from where Zack left off, but from the perspective of a character with only a cameo in the novel. It's very different from the original novel!

Now all that remains is printing it off and sending it to the competition. I would have liked to have ran it past Critique Circle, but there are only a few days remaining before the competition closes! My little sister is currently writing her attempt, too. We'll be in separate age categories, which is fun. :)

Anyway, Zack is still unedited. But I'll hopefully make a start on it tomorrow. There's still plenty of the summer left to get it sorted.

In other news, exam results come out tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Meeting Garth Nix!

As the euphoria slowly wears off, I sit down to record an amazing experience and as it's writing-related I thought I'd share it here.

Tonight, I met Garth Nix.

This, for me, is like meeting David Tennant for Doctor Who fans. Or ... I don't know, David Beckham for football fans? Anyway, if you don't know who he is and you have a vague interest in reading children's fantasy, you must order his books NOW: I would happily recommend them all, particularly the Abhorsen series for teens and the Keys to the Kingdom for younger teens. Oh, and the amazing Shade's Children. And the Ragwitch.

Anyway, he has been a childhood inspiration for a long time. Many times I've been battling away at my own writing and turned to admire his prose not without a huge twinge of jealousy. I've loved him just as much as J.K. Rowling or Philip Pullman. They're my top three authors of all time.

So I was incredibly excited to hear that he was coming to Cambridge, and even better, on the night after my exams finished! I've been his friend on Facebook for a while and recently he has started putting up fairly frequent updates. That was how I found out about the event (Facebook has made life so much better, in certain ways!).

Anyway, I went, I saw, I left awestruck.

He was amazing. He did an hour talk, involving some fun facts about himself (yes, his name is his real one and not a pseudonym) and a fun fantasy story about a magical ring that gave him nine years success, which he then gave to the first person who put up their hand (unfortunately I was too slow, though I did put mine up very quickly). Then, he read aloud a bit of a novel that will be coming out next year. There was a question and answer session and finally a book-signing session.

I was far too star-struck to say anything very coherent when it was time to meet him, but it was still amazing. I did manage to request a photo with him and it turned out okay:

He was just as incredible in flesh as he is on paper.

I would have liked to have asked him to read something of mine, but of course, I know he would be too busy to accept even something short. My mid-grade fantasy Between Time is strongly influenced by the style of his Keys to the Kingdom series. I can dream and think he might read this, though; that would be amazing!

Anyway, all too soon, the evening was over and I was trembling in a corner, putting my signed book away and getting ready to cycle back. I think I must have looked rather mad on the way back with the huge grin on my face.

I don't think there's much more to say than that. Read him. Love him. And see him, if you have the chance.

Here's the signed book too:

*excited squeal*

Monday, 6 June 2011

Back to the grindstone...AKA freedom

My exams came to a finish at 12 noon today, which means I have a few months of freedom now to dive back into the writing, editing and proofreading (the latter is for a friend, who'll be releasing some new ebooks soon and I'd recommend them without hesitation:

It's good timing, because the final chapter of 'Zack' is going through Critique Circle this week, and once that's finished there will be nothing to stop me from editing. Other than the paralytic thought of opening my crits and viewing the comments and actually doing the editing. Uh... this is always the worst part, mentally working myself up to a state where I actually dare to look at the comments. I'm fine once I'm actually doing it...

In other writing news, I've been formulating ideas for a new novel. Well, it's kind of an old novel idea (years old), which I've never seriously worked on until this year. But I've written a couple of thousand words. The main issue was that while I had a strong sense of the protag and her initial adventures, I didn't have much of an overall PLOT. The more I thought about it, the better sense I had of her entire family and her close friends...but even then, I was drawing blanks for the final climax of the novel. Thanks to a short brainstorming session with some friends, though, I think I've developed a climax for the novel that will work really well and tie a number of things together.

I'm amazed how much it has progressed in the last week, really. Especially considering that I should have been using that time revising for the last exam (but it was soooo boring). I now feel pretty much ready to write it. It shouldn't be too difficult to write. It's a mid-grade novel, of a similar genre to Jacqueline Wilson. The only tricky part is that I want the novel to span at least ten months, and I've never been good at sustaining a novel over a period of time. The last novel, for instance, spanned a period of about 3 weeks. Still, a challenge is always good.

Anyway, that's where I'm at right now. I feel I really need to get a book out electronically this summer, but I don't know which one to choose. The one I originally considered 54321 is only 30,000 words in its current reworked stage, and still needs a lot more rewriting before it'll be finished. I could epublish my old fantasy novel, and I thought up a neat idea for that the other day which I'm quite interested to implement, but that would be quite a major overhaul, too.

Hmm! Too many projects all vying for my attention. I can only deal with two at the most. So I think I'd better stick with 'Zack' for editing, and the new novel because writing something new is always indefinitely more satisfying than rewriting.


Friday, 27 May 2011

New Record!

Wow, my A-Level revision website finally broke the two-hundred hits a day barrier, and did it in a fantastic manner: 330 hits! It was on 22nd May and a huge proportion of those hits were people wanting information on Philip Larkin, so I'm betting there was an exam the next day! Ha. It must be making a difference. :D

Just thought I'd have a quick brag, anyway. I need to get back to revision because I have my second exam this afternoon. *gulp*

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


I have been interviewed, which is one step to being famous...hehe. Well, it's only for an interview for an online writing circle. Critique Circle. Their annual(?) newsletter. But it's still quite an honour to be featured. Enjoy:

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: The Fantabulous Lizzie!

We love you guys, honestly. Without our members CC would be nothing, and we have some of the best people in the world here. From time to time we like to highlight one of our members. Momzilla sat down with Lizzie, a long time member and asked her some questions.

Lizzie is a familiar username here at CC, both in the Children's/YA Queue, and in the Forums. She's always willing to lend a hand, is passionate about learning and in turn, always share what she knows. Liz has written well over 1000 critiques in her time here, no surprise as she's is one of our 'oldest' members, joining CC as a teen in August 2004.

What more can I say about Lizzie? I think she's a living, breathing example of the perseverance and strength it takes to be a writer! So, sit back and read on to learn more about who she is and how she does it!

1) Since joining CC, how many novels/stories have you written? Are any of them on the query road with agents or publishers, or been published?
I've written another three completed novels, and rewritten one of my old novels from scratch using all the valuable feedback I'd received from fellow critters. The first novel I wrote after joining CC was written using CC's Paragraph-A-Day tool, which I found worked quite well. I've queried a couple of my novels, although I haven't so far grabbed an elusive agent. Over the last couple of years, I've been less active because of time constraints with uni, but this summer I graduate and I hope to send out a bunch of new queries for two of my novels.

2) What genre do you tend to write and what types of characters do you like to write about? Do you find common themes reoccurring in your books?

Tricky question! I've experimented in quite a few different genres, though most of my completed novels are some form of fantasy. I have a YA and MG fantasy, and I'm currently calling my latest dark conception upper YA 'dark fantasy' because I really don't know what else it could be: possibly speculative, perhaps even literary. I've tried out adult fiction, and I have completed one adult crime novel, though I think I feel more comfortable in the children's market, in general. Whether that'll change as I grow older, though, remains to be seen.

3) What are your writing strengths, and how do you apply them to your critiquing style?
I've always been excellent on the grammar front, and I tend to be a rather nitty critter. I'm also quite logical so I'm good at noticing plot holes and logic flaws in other critters' stories.

4) You've been a member since 2004, close to when CC opened! What has kept you here all these years? How has CC helped you develop as a writer?
CC has helped me on so many ways. When I look back over my early works (even the novel I wrote as a Paragraph-A-Day), I can see such a difference in my writing style. It feels so much sharper and more concise, even in the first draft. Thanks to all my critters' help, I've been able to develop a style that really suits me, and because I'm still learning new things and still receiving so much useful advice, I'm still here. I would never sub a novel to an agent without running it past my critters first! As well, I always enjoy critiquing other peoples' stories, and I've made some really good friends here on the site. I can't imagine life without CC now.

5) Give us a blurb of your latest WIP! Is it in the queues now or will it be soon?
Haha, are you sure you want to know? It's a very dark and twisted novel... I blame my uni course feeding me far too much Greek and Shakespearean tragedy! It's currently in the queues, about halfway through, though I'm always happy for people to jump in. A blurb in a sentence or two: Zack (MC) thinks he is has an extreme case of something called photophobia, which would result in his death if his eyes were exposed to smallest ray of light. But when a bully grows suspicious about the condition and pulls off Zack's goggles to torment him, the truth is far worse than either of them could ever imagine...

6) You live in the UK but have traveled quite a bit. What was your favorite place to visit? How many CCers have you met in person?
I travelled to Vancouver last summer, which was an absolutely fantastic experience. I stayed with my closest buddy on CC for two weeks - Helen (Bookish). We had an amazing time and met up with Loralee and Roy (Grampy), two other Canada-based CCers. Loralee now has an agent and it was so fab to hear all her stories and soak in knowledge about life with an agent. I've met a few other CCers over the years, including Emina when I visited family in Chicago, and an old CCer Fiona (350spider) when she was in the UK. I've also introduced a couple of writers to CC including Kirsty, a good friend of mine from uni.

7 ) You juggle so many things-university, a job, family, friends, a social life, travel.and yet you still find room for writing. Give us an idea of how you manage it-walk us through a day in LizzieWorld.
Well, don't blame me if it's quite mundane. At the moment, I'm not really doing much writing, but I'm hoping to get a bit more done in the Easter hols. It's all work work work at uni. However, this term I've made a real commitment to CC, because I want to get my latest novel edited this summer. After a hard day's work of reading and writing essays, I'll spend an hour or so on CC, critiquing. It's a much more productive usage of time than watching online TV!

8) How long have you been writing, and when did you get serious about it? What advice would you give other teens looking to focus on becoming a writer?
I think all writers have stories of the little books they produced as small children, and I'm no exception: I think the earliest stories I ever wrote were about dinosaurs, which I co-wrote with my younger brother. I started on my first novel when I was ten, and I really don't know what possessed me to do that! But I kept at it and eventually finished it around three years later, got a couple of lovely rejection letters to deflate my dreams and then discovered CC. I've been here ever since, and it was at that point when I started to take writing seriously and to consider myself a writer.

What advice would I give to teens? Just to keep at it, I guess. It's a long slog unless you're really lucky, but don't be disheartened. You'll get there eventually. We all get piles of rejection letters, but don't let that stop you! I may not have an agent yet, but I know I'm a much stronger writer now.

9) Do you have a web site or blog where people can find you? Do you tweet?
I have a blog and I'm always very happy when people take a look in and leave a comment! Unfortunately, I don't blog enough to get much of a following, but I'm trying harder to do it a bit more frequently! I've yet to understand the Twitter thing: it just seems like Facebook but with fewer options...

10) Share a window into your soul.tell us something that most people don't know about you-maybe a special talent, a hidden superpower, something you fangirl over?
Hmm, I spent a few years as a vampire in my early teens...and I still have an aversion to sunlight. That was long before the current vampire craze swept the imaginations of YA readers. I was a PROPER vampire--I didn't glitter.:)

Thanks for the awesome interview, Lizzie, and for sharing a bit about who you are! I hope folks will keep an eye out for your work and check out your blog, as you have a lot to offer other writers. Good luck in all that you do!

Angela (Momzilla)

Friday, 29 April 2011

Life update

I sometimes have ideas for blogs and then never get around to following them up...but this isn't going to be one of them!

I'm back in Cambridge at the moment, for the final term! I'm in the run up to exams, which means revise until you're insane (mostly with boredom)...and the exams start on 26th May. Which is soon. Very soon.

In other news, I have a place on a PGCE next year (if I get the required grades, fingers crossed!), which means I won't be a penniless writer next year as I feared. I'll be on a Post-Graduade Certificate of Education, which means teacher training...for secondary English (11-18 years). Perhaps I'm mad. Indeed, I'm pretty sure I'm mad, but I don't see what else I can do at the moment which doesn't cost more than I can afford. You can't simply get a job after doing a degree, these days, but you need internships (a year of unpaid work with the *hope* of a job at the end).

Zack's still making its way through Critique Circle, but I only have two more chapters to submit. I should have received all my feedback by the end of the exams, a perfect time to start editing. *shudder* I stopped writing 54321 when I got too guilty about the lack of Uni work I'd been doing, but I did get it to around 30K, which is fairly impressive. I then started writing a different novel, but guilt dissuaded me from that one too. I may pick that up after the exams, though, because it was quite fun...

Anyway, that's the life update. I need to cycle over to the English Faculty and return a DVD right now. Bleak House on audiobook as I cycle, methinks! (that was another blog idea...because Dickens is VERY good at character).

Sunday, 20 March 2011


Another day, another blog! How exciting!

I've been writing most of today and I've made some good progress with the re-write of 54321. I'm now up to around 9000 words, and I'm slightly lower in terms of novel progression than the previous draft (by 100 words or so). That's a bit worrying, because I need this draft to be a lot longer than the original draft. I finished version 1 at around 60,000 words, which was far too short for an Adult novel. It seemed like an enormous task to fill it out so much back then, so I just gave up on it.

Now I have some ideas for new things to add, and I'm reworking quite a lot of the plot in general. The first couple of chapters are *mostly* parallel (other than improving the writing itself), but we'll be getting some new things very soon, which is quite exciting.

Anyway, I've noticed that whenever I want a 'local' accent I end up writing something Yorkshirey (home region, don't you know), which was hardly appropriate for a novel set in London. Had to do a bit of research into a Cockney accent and then thought, wouldn't it be brilliant if there were a website that would actually translate Standard English into a dialect? And sure enough, there was:

It's pretty neat. You type in what you want to express then it gives you a 'translation'...which is pretty much literal although it adds things here and there. It lets you change things into Redneck, Jive, Cockney, Elmer Fudd, Swedish Chef, Moron, Pig Latin, or Hacker. (I admit that I don't really know what some of those are!) Far too much fun. :D

"I'll vreete-a egeeen suun (meybe-a)!"
[which one is that? :P]

Friday, 18 March 2011

Let's link it all together...

I checked out my Google ads revenues on a whim today and found I'm close to getting paid, hurrah! It occurred to me to check my Google Analytics account, too, which is a useful tool for anyone who has a website. It lets you know how many people are coming to your site, how long they spend there, how many pages they visited, and many other interesting things. (

I saw that my A-Level revision website is doing very well at the moment, over a hundred hits a day! I imagine that will only increase as we get closer to exam term. I'm actually proud enough of that website to share it: I'll never get around to actually finishing it, but it's a lot closer to being finished than my other websites. Oh okay, you pulled my leg into doing a bit of shameless self-promotion: and are my other two websites. Hehe. Please not that I was VERY young when I made the Pokemon one!

Anyway, it occurred to me that I might actually get some people reading my blog if I put the link on those pages, and I've now placed it on the Level Up homepage.

So yes, I now have even more reason to try to blog more regularly! (I wouldn't get your hopes up/get worried TOO much, though...) I'm back from university for the holidays now, so in theory I might have a bit more time on my hands. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway...

Feel free to comment if you've found this blog from my website! I'd love to hear from you. :) Now I should get going and write a novel...or something. Good old procrastination, now I'm less busy, I can welcome you back!

Monday, 7 February 2011

More thoughts on the mysterious realm of the ebook

Back in Cambridge at the moment...and I should be working, but I'm a bit tired from reading all day and it's not long until I'll head off for some food. But there's just enough time to write a quick blog. On the writing front, I've not done a huge amount of late (the rewrite of 54321 is around 5K at the moment), but that's not a surprise because I'm so busy with Cambridge essays and such.

However, I have committed myself to Critique Circle this term, and I'm managing to keep active there - chapter six of Zack is currently up for review, so it's making slow progress through the queues. I haven't yet looked through any of the critiques, but hopefully they're okay and there won't be too much major stuff to change when summer comes...

Because I keep going on Critique Circle, I keep seeing the 'hot threads'. A lot of them are about the epublishing fad. It seems as though everyone is getting epublished, or is at least curious about it. I've been thinking more about it, and I think there's a real danger that it could be swamped by people who aren't ready to publish.

Let me elaborate...

We all think we're amazing writers when we first put pen to paper. I remember finishing Shadow Lords and thinking I'd have it published by the end of the year (ahh, eight years ago and still nothing). I discovered Critique Circle after receiving two rejections and put it on there. Only when I received a bunch of honest crits from fellow writers did I realise how much work it really needed.

Thanks to that, I've worked hard over the years, editing, rewriting and writing new things. I know my style has matured and the quality of my writing has improved - but I would never submit something now without running it through Critique Circle first! I may one day find a break, when I have time to submit stuff to the publishers (I'm hopeful about Between Time and Zack).

However, imagine a new writer who has just written a book. They don't know about writing workshops like Critique Circle. They haven't read the 'how to' manuals. All they know is that they've written a book, and when they read it, they think it's great. They might have read it to their family and friends, who confirm their opinions.

So they send it out to agents and publishers, fully expecting something, and don't hear anything positive. Perhaps they're confused, perhaps they're angry. But then they hear that you can self-publish on Kindle, via Amazon and they jump on there, make a rough cover, and publish their book without a second thought. It's out there at last!

There have to be thousands of books on Kindle already like that - books that are simply not ready to be on read by the general consumer. You can usually tell from the cover design - the more amateur it looks, the less time has been spent in polishing in general. Spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, cliches and wonky plots fill the pages, and the negative reviews build up.

What it makes me wonder, though, is what sort of wider implications this will have on the emarket. Has Amazon opened up a path to self-destruction for the ebook? It's easy enough to imagine: if readers have widespread experience of 'bad' books, isn't it likely they will be turned away from purchasing on Kindle? If it happens enough, won't the market fail?

That's one extreme. Another possible future for the market is that Amazon stops allowing anyone to publish online: only people who are represented by an agent/publisher. This would, perhaps, restore things to the old system. This option may not, however, be possible, as the gap left by Amazon ebooks may allow other sites to become popular for epublishing, based on the Amazon model.

Perhaps the emarket and the book publishing market can coincide. It may be that something similar to the production of the "penny dreadful" in the Victorian age occurs. The ebook market will gain a reputation for 'bad' books, but at the same time, because those books are cheap, their consumers won't mind. At the same time, the book publishing market will become the grounds for the more established authors and the 'better' fiction, bought by those who can afford it. It could perhaps even become into a literary/genre divide.

I don't know where children's literature fits into all this, however...

So, what do you think will happen to books? Do you think the ebook market will eventually kill off the printed market? Or is the ebook market, at least in its present form, unsustainable?

Monday, 10 January 2011

Indie Publishing

I have to stop being a stick in the mud.

But I can't help it. I think of books and I feel all warm and fuzzy. And then I think of this alien device...the Kindle...and...

But it seems that it's growing in popularity in the US, and I heard someone in the UK also saying that it's really good a few weeks ago. They say it's just like reading a book, since you turn pages and it doesn't have a backlight like a computer. It doesn't hurt your eyes like a computer. It's so convenient for carrying lots of book with you. Think of going on holiday without the fear of a load of books preventing you from getting on the plane! Hmm. I suppose I'll take their word for it.

Still, I know there's one thing that will never be the same: the smell.

Remember good old Giles, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I love the quote:

"Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower, or a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell musty and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer is a - it, uh, it has no texture, no context. It's-it's there and then it's gone. If it's to last, then the getting of knowledge should be, uh, tangible, it should be, um, smelly."

There's nothing like the smell of an old book.

But anyway, it seems that there's a market for Kindle ebooks, and it might be worth investigating. People are effectively self-publishing for as little as $0.99 a copy, but I suppose that adds up if they sell enough. And maybe if they sell enough and get a big enough fan base, it might be a good way of attracting a publisher's attention? I suppose that's the dream.

I have to admit that I'm a little intrigued. There's no upfront cost for the publishing to the Kindle via, at least, not at the moment. I doubt it's for me, in terms of as a children's writer... It sounds like an adult game, and the Kindle sounds like an adult toy. (Correct me if I'm wrong).

But I do have one adult novel, which is pretty much finished. It's crime, with a sprinkling of humour. If I did a major rework (as in rewrite the entire thing) and sort out the plot holes, it might be worth publishing as an ebook. I doubt I'd make a lot of money from it, but right now, it would be wonderful to get anything at all from writing.

So. Hmm. I'm tempted. As much as I am prejudiced against the Kindle, as much as I love the smell, the weight, the feel of a book, the tender aging of a much loved book (can't be good for a Kindle if you cry on it!), I am tempted to explore this market.

54321 could have found its niche!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Hello New Year

It's the new year and my new(ish) novel (Zack) is available to read. Well, if you're a member of Critique Circle. If you're an aspiring author, why not take a look at the site and drop me a crit? It's a free and easy to use site. :)

Happy New Year, everyone!