Saturday, December 8, 2012

And the WINNER IS...

Thank you for you see your helpful and encouraging comments did absolutely nothing at all for my NaNo progress :)  I stalled at around 11k...BUT I anticipate rounding up a few friends and colleagues who didn't finish to do a JanNoWriMo. Watch this space for that!

Anyway, without further ado... kicked up number 9, which means that Echo FM has won the signed copy of INBETWEEN. BUT, before the rest of you close this windown in disgust (!), the lovely Tara gave me a bunch of bookmarks too, so if anyone else who entered would like to email me with their address, I will mail them a sweet INBETWEEN bookmark as a tiny gift from Tara, to me to you! Email me at Sue (at) entangledpublishing (dot) com.

One of my next blog posts will have another give away, this time the awesome a signed copy of the book MY SUPER-SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY by Rachel Harris (there may or may not be swag involved too!). You KNOW you want this one. So spread the word, and watch this space :)

Another blog post I will be writing soon will be about REJECTIONS, and our thoughts about sending them, receiving them, and using them to better your writing. If you have any questions about query rejections, sample page rejections or manuscript rejections, comment on this post and I will endeavor to answer your question in my post.

Have a great week everyone, and congratulations to Echo.. and everyone who will get a bookmark in the mail!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The November I’m-not-really-avoiding-NaNo blog post

Grrr. Yes, I’m doing NaNo, and yes, I’m kind of failing so far. 10666 words. But I’m hoping to catch up soon. Maybe this weekend. I may have to turn of the internets to achieve that of course; I’m just too easy to distract.
But the bright side of November is that I’m giving away a signed copy of the lovely Tara Fuller’s INBETWEEN, which will be a fabulous Christmas gift for the teen in your life.

I went to Tara’s first ever signing in Asheboro, NC—a mere hop, skip and a jump from where I live. Or so I thought. My GPS, however, had other ideas. It confidently took me to a totally different library in a totally different town where I interrupted a delightful group of wood carvers.
After admiring their wonderful whittling skills, they kindly drew me a map to the library where Tara was. I needed to take US42 to get there from where I had mistakenly ended up. Imagine my delight when one of these wood carvers looked at me with a distinct twinkle in his eye and said, “of course, forty-two is the answer to everything.” SCORE! Who would have imagined that I’d meet a Douglas Adams fan in a very rural area of North Carolina. If I’d never made it to Tara’s book signing, that would easily have been the highlight of my month!

Anyway, I arrived in time to buy the last three books, and eat an awesome cup cake made by her sister-in-law…so there was much rejoicing.

And it is one of these books, that Tara kindly signed, and is holding in this photo, that is up for grabs.

Inbetween:  Since the car crash that took her father’s life three years ago, Emma’s life has been a freaky — and unending — lesson in caution. Surviving “accidents” has taken priority over being a normal seventeen-year-old, so Emma spends her days taking pictures of life instead of living it. Falling in love with a boy was never part of the plan. Falling for a reaper who makes her chest ache and her head spin? Not an option.

It’s not easy being dead, especially for a reaper in love with a girl fate has put on his list not once, but twice. Finn’s fellow reapers give him hell about spending time with Emma, but Finn couldn’t let her die before, and he’s not about to let her die now. He will protect the girl he loves from the evil he accidentally unleashed, even if it means sacrificing the only thing he has left…his soul.

To enter, just follow @scwine and @tara25fuller on Twitter, and leave me some NaNo tips (or encouragement!) in the comments below. If you are participating NaNo, feel free to add your user ID so we can buddy up! I will announce the winner (chosen by on December 7th.

Friday, July 13, 2012

August is the Month!

I'm finishing my WIP, and as I have previously mentioned, I CANNOT stop tinkering with it! So in order to give myself a real, live, don't-miss-it-or-else-deadline, I have signed up for...

 ...which I'm insanely excited about. I had no idea that NaNoWriMo ran any other month than November, but Rachel from my writing group mentioned last night that they also run it in June and August. I will be starting a new ms, in a whole new genre and that alone is exciting/freaking me out, so we'll see how I do under the pressure of 50k words in a month!

Also in August is the ever-fabulous WriteOnCon (see countdown widget on the right). I've already made sure I am not working on the 14th and 15th of August so that I can immerse myself in the sessions.

I say again: August is the Month! Is anyone else doing Camp NaNo? Is anyone attending WriteOn Con? What are you most looking forward to?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Interning FTW!

I know I haven’t mentioned this, but for the past few months or so I have been interning with Entangled Publishing. Well, considering my last blog post was in January, you had to have figured I’d have been up to something, right?

When EP’s Managing Editor, Heather Howland, put out a call on Twitter for interns to read the manuscripts she requests, I leaped at the chance.  I’d just started a round of final revisions on my manuscripts and was wondering how I could get more involved in the industry, and at least better my understanding of what does and doesn’t work with submitted manuscripts.

After Heather and I exchanged a few emails, and found we had a similar taste in books, she very bravely took me on!

It’s been eye-opening, to say the least, and I wanted to tell you a bit about what makes an intern like me, send a rave-review about your manuscript to Heather.

For me, the most important thing I look for is voice. If a manuscript has a compelling voice and an interesting story - I’m in: I’m going to read that whole manuscript making notes as I go along. I can look past (minor) plotholes, typos, and the occasional bizarre sub-plot, and start writing that positive review. I mention all the great stuff (sometimes I even quote from the manuscript) as well as the things that I think need looking at: did that scene ring true? Was that character strictly necessary to the plot? Was the voice age appropriate?

Once I've sent my review, Heather gathers the reader reports from her other interns, and decides if she is going to read the ms herself. On one occasion, however, I raved SO much about a particular ms, that I may have urged her to ignore all other reviews and just listen to ME! I’m not sure if she did, but by the time I had finished reading that ms, I couldn’t BEAR to think of it being rejected.(I still can’t!).

Occasionally I give Heather a percentage review. For example, recently I mentioned that for a 20% editing commitment, the return would be a 110% book, and then I leave it to Heather to decide what her work-load is like.

Sometimes I mention comparison titles (books, movies or TV shows!) that the manuscript reminds me of, and that, in turn, has made me understand the importance of including comp titles in my own query letter. It really helps the reader mentally prepare for the manuscript.

I’m going to try blogging about this amazing experience as often as I can. So, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment and I will answer them to the best of my ability. And, of course, all opinions are mine alone :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

E Book Extravaganza!

So it’s been a while, but all I’ve been doing is reading and writing. No arithmetic, however: I would never dare do math in public—it would not be a pretty sight. The reading and writing I’m more than happy to do in public, and regularly do. But with little to surprise and delight you, I have not blogged since November. Hands up if you're surprised. Anyone? No?

Anyway, there are two lovely things happening online with E Books. The first: to bridge the gap between now, and Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass being published (in August 2012), she has released a novella that introduces her heroine, Celaena, in The Assassin and the Pirate Lord. I’ve just downloaded it, and can’t wait for a quiet moment this weekend when I can start reading.

The other thing is the publication of opera singer, Lorena Dureau’s back catalogue of out-of-print historical novels. I have just bought The Last Casquette Girl and am looking forward to diving in. Lorena was a musician, opera singer and successful writer; I can only imagine how her life experiences informed her writing. I can’t wait to find out!

I've also downloaded Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? For a spontaneous reader like me, I just love my second generation Kindle; I've probably tripled my book purchases just by having it, and I much prefer it to my in-laws' touch-screen Kindle. I like reading one-handed, and you really need two hands to read the newer Kindles.

Has anyone else had any old versus new Kindle issues? Are there big reading benefits in getting a newer gen Kindle?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A shocking case of amnesia (or how I forgot to award prizes)

I’m a blog-offender of terrifying proportions. I had a contest with spanky prizes, and wouldn’t you know, I forgot to give them away. I’m bad. I know.

Anyway,, told me that Jeff was the winner! Jeff, sounds like you may have scored some holiday gifts for the women in your life! I will email you at the yahoo address on your blogger profile for your address.

So, NaNoWriMo is my boyfriend this month. I’m woefully behind, having just come off a string of back to back twelve hour shifts (and, I won’t lie, a mini-break to Asheville, NC). By my estimation, I have five days to make up eighteen thousand words. Yes, I know. *Sigh*

Please send jiggity-finger vibes to me during the next five days, to make my fingers dance across the keyboard. I shall blog again on the 15th (the halfway mark) and tell you if it worked. Meanwhile, my NaNo seems to be dialogue-heavy, with few discernibly different characters. I guess I’ll have to fix that in December. Man, but it’s hard not to revise as I go.

So who else is NaNo-ing this month, and how are you doing?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Those dastardly new plot points...

So there I was, innocently editing my lovely book, when I had a thought: what if *insert character* knew about all these shenanigans already? What if she kind of set them all in motion without the MC realizing? Holy COW, what a great idea…one that would lend an extra layer to the story. Cool right?

Hmmm. My brain flicked through scenes like a rolodex and I realized just how many scenes would need to be changed—some with big chunks, some with a throwaway line of dialogue. In all honesty, it could be worse, but I know that this will involve an extra week’s work—and that’s with no ‘real life’ getting in the way.

This has happened to me about four times during the writing of this book, and I’m convinced that each time it has made it stronger but… when does it stop? I wrote a post a little while ago (ahem, okay, more than a year ago) about editing, and knowing when to stop. It’s a tricky business.

How much have your book changed from inception to execution? Have you ever ‘finished’, only to find that *insert plot point/new character* would make it better? How do you deal with it? Have you ever just said "NO!" to that new idea? How many times has it happened during the writing of your book?


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Writerly Accoutrements

And no, I’m not talking about chocolate or wine. Both of those help, don’t get me wrong, but I’m speaking of things that get me over, or through, writer’s block and Blank Page Rage (BPR). (Yeah, you know you’ve had it). Here are my tricks...

There are two free podcasts that I download and listen to when I’m walking the dog, or running errands. The first is The New York Times Book Review podcast. Hosted by the editor, Sam Tanenhaus, it covers the best seller list, features on new books, and industry gossip. The thirty minutes (or so) fly by.

The second podcast is Writers and Co. This is a series of interviews with usually just one author, discussing their body of work, their craft, or just their most recent release. These episodes last anything from 40 minutes to an hour and a half. Both the podcasts can be found on iTunes. And listening to either one makes me feel like I’m ‘working’ at my WIP, even when I’m not…

Then there are times that I absolutely cannot have another cup of coffee without moving my whole writing station to the bathroom. That's when I turn to the anti-cellulite gel. I slather it on—it’s good for the legs (allegedly) and it’s jam-packed with caffeine. It’s handy for all nighters, but don’t, for the love of sleep, use it after 3pm if you’re planning to go to bed at a normal time. Just don’t.

What about playlists for each character in your WIP? It might sound a little crazy, but writing their dialogue (in particular) while listening to appropriately themed music, really helps keep the voices authentic. Try it. You might like it.

When all else fails: TV. If I’m stuck for snappy dialogue, I turn to the TV series ‘Castle’, for inspiration. I’m not sure who writes it (mental note to find out), but it has totally hit its stride with quick repartee and plot twists. Also? Nathan Fillion.

And when I absolutely have to be inspired, anything by Aaron Sorkin will usually get me off my butt with the desire to practice, practice, practice. Watch any episode of any show he has done. He never wastes so much as a word. It’s a true masterclass in writing, right there, on your TV screen.

Does anyone else have any writerly tips to help us keep on, keeping on? Please share!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

DFW Writers' Conference

This past February, I took the uncharacteristically brave decision to attend my first writers’ conference. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to a lot of conferences, and I’ve never been scared of attending any one of them. Mainly because, I suppose, that while I was at those conferences, I was there as the resident expert; sometimes I presented, or was on a panel, and sometimes I just stood in the back heckling my colleagues (oh, the memories)—but I was never scared of being there.

This was different (cue ominous music). I was (and still am) a novice in the arena of writing (you can tell from my over-enthusiastic use of parentheses). So I was going purely to learn. Oh, and to pitch to an agent. Ya, now you see why I was so nervous.

The DFW Con is a fantastic writers’ conference. There were so many workshops by agents and editors and authors that inevitably I couldn’t get to all of them. And I’m oh, so thankful, that my pitch session was scheduled for early on the first day, otherwise I would have spent the whole weekend with my stomach in knots.

I can’t say my pitch was the slickest, most eloquent one that the agent had ever heard, but she generously gave me her card and asked me to send her stuff. I’m absolutely sure she was just being polite and asking everyone to do the same, but I was mostly just happy to come away from the session unscathed.

The most terrifying part of the conference (for those who were brave enough to enter) was the Gong Show. This had a panel of agents on a stage, each with a gong. Someone read out submitted queries to the agents, and they gonged when they would have stopped reading. It was in turns, funny, terrifying and exhilarating. Especially for those brave souls who actually got requests!

I attended about nine different workshops while I was there, and drank at least 30 cups of coffee each day. Aside from the constant bathroom breaks, it was worth every penny of the conference and airfare. The agents, editors and other writers were friendly and approachable, and I came away with new books, swag, some tee shirts, and a brand new critique partner.

Does anyone have any other writers’ conferences they can recommend? And if you're reading this between the 16th and 18th of August, 2011, stop reading now, and go here: WriteOnCon. It's free and there are different sessions almost every hour. Can't get better than that.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Made you jump, right? I know it's been a while; how have you been?

I felt I had to post before the August 16th, which would have been the anniversary of my last post. Yes, ANNIVERSARY. Gak.

So instead of boring you with my whole year in review in one post (which would undoubtedly send you directly to sleep), I am doing a little giveaway in return for your suggestions. I would like some recommendations for some smart, witty YA novels. Something along the line of the movie Easy A. And if you haven't seen Easy A, you should. Seriously. Watch it now.

In return for your recommendations, I will randomly pick a commenter to receive some swag, to include a lovely book by Laura Kinsale (Seize the Fire), along with an old copy of Jane Austen’s Persuasion (printed in 1947), and a 1901(ish) copy of Dickens' David Copperfield, both from the motherland (mine). There may also be European chocolate, a notebook and a fountain pen involved. Who knows?

USA mailing addresses only please, so I may save myself from being bankrupted at the Post Office.

Later posts will touch on some of the exciting things that happened in the last 361 days, including a visit to the White House, getting a critique (gulp) from the spectacular Jen Nadol, the DFW Writers' Conference and Susan Dennard and Sarah J Maas' incredible writers' masterclass.

So please - let me know how you've been doing, and give me some YA book love.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Elizabeth Ryann's Big Giveaway!

Do yourself a big favor and go visit Elizabeth Ryann’s blog and enter her fantastic competition. Elizabeth went to RomCon this year and picked up a huge amount of swag which she is kindly distributing to her nearest and dearest followers… well, at least those with the most points! Follow her on Twitter too @ElizabethRyann. And while you’re there you can follow me too @scwine !

Monday, August 16, 2010

Missing my blog...

Well, what a month. Apologies for being somewhat sporadic (I can’t use that word without thinking of Brittany Murphy in ‘Clueless’) in my postings but I’ve been travelling and stuff.

I zipped over to the homeland to surprise my mother on her 80th birthday. I was taking over cake, and champagne, and a new husband that she had never met before. I asked my brother if I needed to take anything else and he replied thoughtfully, “a cardiologist?” Luckily one wasn’t needed.

After a quick side trip to Portugal, we flew back into NC and tried to ignore the jetlag and get back to our lives.

For me that meant writing and attending WriteOnCon. Wow. If you didn’t attend – all the vlogs and presentations are still there… and it’s FREE J. It was fantastic.

I’m back to the grind – churning out a scene or so a day. After trying to write in a linear way – I found that for me (I have a limited attention span) it was easier to make a list of all the scenes I needed to write and then just pick and choose. It’s been working so far – but I’m interested in your method too. Do you write from the beginning through to the end of your WIP, or do you dive in and out of scenes like I’m doing right now? What works for you?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kidlit critique partner search rides again!

Just got back from the good old motherland to see that Mary Kole has opened her site again - - to people looking for critique partners for YA, MG and other children's writers. It's a great opportunity to get fresh eyes on a WIP and to practice giving good feedback!

More on my trip to the UK later :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I wasted a year...

In 2008 I could have finished my WIP. I had just moved to the US to be with my boyfriend (now husband) and I was waiting on a green card. For a year. Yup, I spent a year surfing the internet, walking the dog and waiting for the next Netflix movie to arrive. *Sigh*. What a dope.

You see, before I left Old Blighty, I had paid for, and received, a critique of my ms by an editor. And boy did he rip me a new one (like, a totally new one – on my thigh or somewhere). It paralyzed me into thinking I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, write anymore. I so loved writing and I wanted to continue more than anything, but I became too scared to, in case it turned out that I really couldn’t.

Here's the thing. I re-read his critique the other day and I realized that all his criticism (and for the first time I actually noticed some lovely comments too) was not only correct, but exactly the information I was (and still am) gleaning from my fellow bloggers (*waves to the photos on the right*) and favorite agency websites. Maybe I just had to figure it out by myself to be able to move on.

Anyway, to save me wasting another year, I’ve decided to sign up for a writers’ conference in the winter to motivate me and to finally meet people who write face-to-face. Yipeee! I have my eyes on the DFW writers’ conference in February next year. Is anyone else going? Does anyone have any other nice ones they would like to recommend to a conference virgin?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Keys to the City!

I was driving home from work and I heard an article that I really wanted to share. In New York, YOU can have the keys to the city - you just have to bestow your keys to someone else, and have them do the same to you. Your names are registered and you are given a treasure-map-passport thingy.

You then take your 'passport' and start visiting the places listed, and in every place, there is a door/cupboard/closet/PO Box etc with a lock that fits your key.

In one place, you can turn on a street light (who often gets the opportunity to do that?)! In a museum you might get to see a secret exhibit.

I think this is such a great idea for locals and tourists alike to see little parts of the city that usually go unnoticed. I think more cities and even towns should embrace this fantabulous idea.

The full article is here: Art Installation in NY

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bart Simpson makes me feel smart...

I’ve been guilty of WBN (wicked blog neglect) and for that I apologize unreservedly. Work has got busy – seriously cutting into my goofing off time – and my book is going well. So far. My critique partners are intelligent and talented, and help keep my verbs lovely and active when I very much err to the passive.

My ankles are much better and I’ve found a bunch of new websites to crush on and to use as my master procrastination tool. I’m wicked looking forward to Paranormalcy coming out in September (I’ve already pre-ordered!) and I’m super-excited to be visiting my home country in July.

But aside from all that exuberance – things are trotting on fairly normally. I’ve downloaded some great research books to my beloved Kindle and have been using the old “I’m kind of writing because I’m reading about writing” excuse.

But reading YA and books like True Blood etc on my Kindle always brings me down a little. I’m in the midst of reading about fraught vampire relationships (and similar), feel sleepy, so I slide my little power button over and whoosh… Albert Einstein or Virginia Woolf is looking at up me, judging me for reading such frivolous material. And I go to sleep feeling a little – well, lacking in the literary gene.

So – I’m thinking of starting a petition for Kindle to use more contemporary author screen savers – or even cartoons - so that whatever you’re reading will feel positively high-brow when you close your Kindle with Bart Simpson looking at you.

Ideas for new screen savers anyone?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Volcanos and Ankles

Wow. It’s been a lo--ng time. Since my last post, I carefully thought about my lovely commenters’ thoughts and decided to go with my gut and re-write my ms in the first person. It’s flowing much better than it ever did before, and now it’s even easier for me to see where it needs to be edited. Weird.

On another revelationary thing, I also applied (via Kidlit’s comments) for writers to exchange pages with. I met two lovely ladies with whom I am swapping and critiquing. It’s a great motivation to write to deadline too. I promised to have my second chapter to them by tomorrow and although I’m hopelessly behind, I’m hoping to meet the target. Oh, the optimism!

But the great part - as I’m sure you more experienced writers know - is getting non-relatives to read and comment on my work. They’ve noticed things I wouldn’t have in a million years. So my first chapter is sharper than it ever was. And I fully anticipate that when I re-submit my chapters to them after the first time around, their suggestions will make it tighter and tighter. I hope I’m affording my critique partners the same good fortune too :)

In between my various writing revelations – I have had one broken ankle, one sprained ankle, two sets of volcano-stranded families staying and my regular day-job to contend with. Sometimes it’s a wonder I can do anything… let alone stand on my own two feet without falling over something - which clearly I can't do right now.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Confusing, Revision Hell

I have a question for you more experienced writers. I am in revision hell. I just can’t stop. Every time I even look at my ms I’m changing things that probably don’t need to be changed. And that’s not the worst of it. Sometimes (I’m kind of whispering here), when I’m re-writing whole paragraphs, I re-write them in the first person. My novel is written in the third person. Gah!

I guess my question is this. Well, OK, I have two. Firstly – is it normal to revise like I am? I feel like I’m picking at a scab even when it hurts and I know I shouldn’t. And secondly – why am I switching to first person when I edit? Is it easier to write in the first person (and I’m just being lazy)? Or is this subconscious compulsion telling me that my whole novel should be written in the first person?

Does anyone out there have any advice for me?

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Thank you so much to Guinevere for this lovely award. If you haven't checked out her blog This is not my Day Job do so immediately... I mean stat! And Guinevere - if you haven't visited England's Avalon - you obviously need to :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

An Open Letter to NBC

Dear NBC

With all due respect, this really isn’t the Olympics you are showing. You are showing a whole bunch of sports in which Americans are competing. The only discipline in which you are showing any other nationality is ice skating.

The only time I have seen other athletes from any other country compete in this Olympic games is when they are playing against the US, or accidentally get in camera shot, or if they have some terrible misfortune.

How I long for BBC coverage (I even had a daydream that PBS would take BBC footage and show it all day every day). BBC coverage of any Olympics covered two channels all day. All the sports are covered, along with the back-stories of any athlete who was in any way remotely interesting – regardless of nationality – and without advertisements. Ahhhh.

I know everyone wants to see Americans win medals. Hell, even this Brit does. But sometimes other nationalities are good at sports too (even the kinda-sports like ice dance and curling). We can revel in all everyone’s victories, and despair at their failures, regardless of the color of their passport.

Competing in the Olympics is a human experience, not a national one. Everyone in the world can imagine the pride in representing their country, the work over years and years that contributes to that chance to step on that podium. The thickness in our throats as we hear our national anthem. We can all relate to it.

Please don’t deny us the opportunity to embrace and follow and wonder in awe at all the athletes participating in the Olympics, not just a tiny percentage of them. Please.

Very best wishes,


PS - I might not ever forgive you for canceling Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip either...