Tuesday, 22 August 2017

PLOT EMBRYO VIDEO

Hi everyone! Happy Tuesday to all. Various exciting and/or nervewracking things are happening here at Casa Zolah (or, more accurately, in London and Wales, but directly affecting Casa Zolah) over this week and next week (and maybe the week after, Iunno), and I basically can't talk about a single one of them, which is making it... a liiitle tough to know what to blog about right now?

BUT! I have found this great new YouTube Channel (belonging to the author Rachael Stephen) and one of her videos is already making me have a big-ol' writer-crush on her because it is BRILLIANT.

So here it is. Check it out and see if it helps you the way it helped me today when I came across it!


 

In other news, my Patreon is still steadily ticking over with updated content every week. I'd love to see some new subscribers, but although I only have three right now I very much appreciate each and every one of them, and the fact that they're motivating me to re-read, update and improve so many essays I've written in the past. It's fun!

If you can't subscribe but you've found my writing and publishing advice useful in the past, or have had questions answered by me, please do share the page to your Facebook, Twitter, or wherever and maybe some other folks will have their memories jogged or their interest piqued and decide to subscribe themselves or share too.

Read you later, my lovelies!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

ARE YOU A PATREON OF THE ARTS?

Hello, Dear Readers! BIG ANNOUNCEMENT today!

No, I'm not giving up on writing and moving to Tibet to herd yaks. I'm not changing my name to Lady Floreline P. Scumbletrump, getting a nose job, or switching genres to sexy romance novels with barechested hunks on the cover and titles like 'Seducing the Laird's Virgin Mistress'.

It's far more exciting than that.

I've launched a Patreon page!

Right here: https://www.patreon.com/zoemarriott

What the flying pamplemoose is a Patreon page, you ask? I would be happy - nay, delighted - to explain, Dear Readers.

But first we need to back up a little bit.

You see, for years and years and years here on The Zoë-Trope - since 2010, eep - I've been writing in-depth essays about all aspects of the writing craft and providing individual advice on issues like writer's block, motivation, publishing and the reality of the writing life. The blog's grown from teeny-tiny beginnings to the point where it gets around 1500 hits per day - nearly 50,000 a month. That's more than I ever could have dreamed when I started out! I used to get excited if I got 30 hits a week!

Professional writers have (with permission!) reproduced my essays in their classrooms order to teach creative writing at university level. My words have been quoted in writing magazines and even national newspapers. The All About Writing Archive contains hundreds of posts, hundreds of thousands of words, and represents years of my life. It's helped make me so many friends and I also believe that it's made me a better writer.

What it doesn't do at the moment is help to support my actual job, which (to my continuing surprise and joy) is writing ground-breaking, diverse, Feminist fantasy novels for young adults.

I'm a full-time writer. This means I'm effectively running a small business on my own. I spend a lot of time on things like organising receipts, keeping accounts, writing and sending and chasing up invoices, completing tax returns, arranging and attending book events, and promoting my work. If I don't have a contract with a publisher (and right now I don't) I need to find the money to support myself through other work (like my Royal Literary Fellowship) or through writing grant applications and entering competitions and prizes and crossing my fingers.

All of this takes time. A LOT OF TIME. I can't emphasize this enough. Actual writing doesn't even make up 50% of the time I spend working. Every writer I know is the same: we're constantly scrambling for any extra moment (in a cafe, on the bus or train, while in the hospital waiting room) to actually get some writing done.

And one of the biggest draws on my time, historically, has been my blog.

Now, I love this blog. I love YOU GUYS and having the chance to interact with you and talk to you about books and publishing and writing. I can't even express how much it means to me. But if I spend a day organising my receipts and chasing invoices, that has a direct and positive result on my business - I know what money is going out and am making sure I have money coming in. If I go to a book event to promote myself and sell a bunch of signed books, that is literally keeping my business afloat. And if I spend a day writing, and produce 2000 words, then that's contributing towards my art AND hopefully producing a piece of work which I can one day sell so that I can keep my business going for another year.

But if I spend a day writing a 2000 word essay for this blog, or answering someone's writing related question? It doesn't contribute towards my income or the well-being of my business at all. This isn't promotional stuff - it's not like sharing updates on book releases or events or even snippets of what I'm working on. In fact, it's taking time away from tasks that DO help to bring in some income. In other words, running the blog basically costs money that I (and, you know, my dog and the cats) need to live on.

As a result, the busier I've got trying to keep my business going - and the more worried I've been about money - the less time and joy I've had to dedicate to answering questions and writing essays.

That's been pretty sad for me, if I'm honest. I'm sure it's also been sad for you, Dear Readers. I've let Reader Questions and Tips for Young Writers nearly disappear from the blog at this point. The All About Writing archive hadn't been updated for over a year, and it was never really complete. Given the somewhat sucky search function on Blogger, that's a lot of advice and information that's not being utilised to its fullest extent, and a lot of questions going unanswered.

And that's where Patreon comes in. 


Because Patreon is a rather cool platform on which artists and other creative people like myself can offer exclusive content and rewards to fans who help support them.

I've taken down the (somewhat crappy) All About Writing page that used to live here - and I'm going to recreate it there. But better. I'm going to re-write, revise and refresh every single essay and piece of advice I've ever given and then repost it on my Patreon feed. I'll post at least one, preferably two pieces of writing or publishing related content every week, and sometimes more. I'll go back to answering reader questions on a regular basis. Once I reach a certain number of followers I'll open up a monthly poll that Patrons can vote in to tell me what aspects of writing they'd like me to explore, explain, and offer advice on.

This blog will still exist, and will still be updated a couple of times a month. I'll still rant here occasionally about Feminism, offer book reviews, and talk about what I'm working on and what I've got happening in terms of book releases and events. But readers who want more than that - which I know isn't everyone! - can subscribe to the Patreon for as little as about two quid a month in order to have access to that archive of in-depth, up-to-date writing advice. People who subscribe at the higher tier get to ask questions and have them answered, and those on the top tier (still under eight quid a month) get all that AND will get to see their names in the acknowledgements of all my books, as well as receiving advanced copies and other cool things.

Readers who chose to support me and want that extra content will have an ever-evolving resource where they are always guaranteed to get exactly the stuff they want, every week. And I can spend the time required to maintain and expand on that resource without feeling harried and guilty about taking the time away from 'real' work. Because creating writing essays and answering questions will now BE PART OF MY JOB.

How cool is that?

Head over to my Patreon and check it out, lovelies. There's one free post already available there and two more in the Patron only feed waiting. If you feel it's good value for money, you can become a part of a brand new community of writers there. And even if you can't subscribe yourself - which I totally understand! - you can still really help by sharing the page on social media and sending links to any of your writing friends you think might be interested.

I'm very excited about this. So like it says on the Patreon page itself: JOIN ME! We'll have fun and learn stuff :)

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

YALC EVENT REPORT

Hello, hello, hello Dear Readers! Happy Wednesday! I meant to write this report yesterday but honestly it's taken me this long to recover from the wonderful yet exhausting whirlwind that was my very first proper Young Adult Literature Convention (I did do the winter pop-up in 2014, but that was so teeny-tiny in comparison it literally does not count).

First up, thanks must go to all the people I've stolen photos from for this, because I don't have a smartphone and although I did take my camera I was so busy running around that I remembered to take it out of my bag exactly once. You are good people, Emily, Imogen, Kerry and Shanna!

I got up at about 5:30am on Saturday and walked and did obedience training with my dog for nearly an hour in a quest to quieten him down so that I didn't feel quite so guilty about dropping him off with my mum. Because he's a maniac. Sorry mum. Then I did various elaborate (but ultimately futile because humidity and rain) things to my hair, slapped on some make-up and a dress and hopped on the train to London, filled with fizzing nerves and excitement. This was me on the train, before my hair gave up the fight.

Ah, sweet volume, we hardly knew ye...

Sadly, despite the weather forecast insisting that it would be a fine and sunny day in London, and therefore that a dress would be a practical choice, by the time I arrived at the Olympia venue in Kensington where YALC was taking place, it was POURING. I don't just mean a drizzle here, folks. It was so bad that the pavements were mostly puddle. It was therefore in a rather damp and dishevelled state that I presented myself to the helpful staff members who directed me to the entire floor of the venue which YALC had commandeered this year.

I stopped by the Walker Books booth (looking good, ladies!) to say hello and then, in true book geek stylee, headed to the bookshop, where I snagged an armful of books, including one from the lists of each of my fellow panelists, and took this:


This was just past 13:00 on the Saturday and, as I confirmed with the Waterstones staff running the shop, Barefoot on the Wind and Shadows on the Moon had already sold out. Which was YAY but also BOO because obviously I didn't want people to not be able to get the books I was going to be talking about on my panel! Oh, well. I decided to be positive about it. As I was stuffing my haul into my tiny roll-on bag, two more lovely Walker people (Hi Rosi! Hi Kirsten!) appeared and gently led me away, reminding me that I needed to collect my author pass and sign in before going off on jollies. Oops.

I did see and get to hug the lovely and talented One Italian Summer writer Keris Stainton on the way, though. Hi Keris!

As we were collecting my pass and then heading to the green room, I confided in Rosi and Kirsten that I'd hoped to get a book signed for my sister, but that the signing queue was so long I doubted I'd get to the writer in question before my panel. Then Emily, who's been working with me at Walker while Wonder Editor has been on maternity leave, turned up, along with several other authors I had wanted to meet - Hi Laura Lam! Hi Elizabeth May! - and Imogen Russell Will who was running my panel, and much book related discussion ensured.

Suddenly, a text on my phone! Cunning Kirsten had slipped off and had a chat with someone running the signing queues, and had managed to get them to let me jump the line and get that book signed for my sister! Joy! But also FREAK OUT because the author in question?


Yes, that is LAINI TAYLOR. Actual real-life Laini Taylor. And me next to actual real-life Laini Taylor trying not to be the one weirdest person she met at YALC... but failing oh so miserably. I nearly fainted at her feet.

But no matter, for the signed book was in my grasp! *Uncontrollable fangirl giggles*

And then, since we were there and her signing queue had just about come to an end, we went to talk to lovely fellow Walker author and superstar Lauren James as well. Her book The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was the number one bestseller at YALC this year and one of the first books I snatched up at the shop. She very kindly signed my copy for me:


And our dresses nearly match, how cool is that? Although hers had spaceships on and mine had golden flamingoes, which probably says something profound about our personalities...

Or maybe not.

Anyway, back to the green room, where the other authors from my panel were beginning to collect. I nattered away at the fascinating Deirdre Sullivan, Julia Gray, Joanne Harris and Peadar O Guilin and also managed to grab Laura Dockrill to ask for her opinions on mermaid retellings before the panel started. But eventually they herded us together, took some pictures:


And then the real fun began! 
What is my face doing in this shot? I dunno, but it's hilarious.

This was one of the best panels I've ever been on - it was delightful. Imogen Russell Wills had prepared really well, and her questions were SPOT ON. Even though there were quite a few of us talking we all managed to get time to express ourselves, and have some back-and-forth between us.

The best thing was that the audience was 100% there for this event - really involved and not afraid to ask questions. I was quite sad when it was over, and they firmly took us away and took us to the signing area. Where CELL7 author and lovely person Kerry Drewery was waiting for me with a hug and nice words about the panel to calm me down - hi Kerry!

To my surprise - and delight! - my queue turned out to be... huge? I was sure that with so many other, much more famous authors there everyone would be far too busy to come and wait for my autograph, but apparently not!



I signed for about an hour and a half before my queue ran out, and thanks to the lovely Shanna, there was a seat saved for me at the one panel I was going to have time to attend, and the one panel above all that I was desperate to attend - the Books That Made Me panel with V.E. Schwab, Laini Taylor and Joanne Harris, run by (a beautifully costumed) Katherine Woodfine. It was everything I'd hoped for, and I even got to ask a question during the Q&A. It was glorious and a perfect end to my YALC experience, especially since I got the chance to say hi to Victoria Schwab in the green room before she left.

We won't dwell on the fact that the rain was still pouring outside, that I narrowly missed the Tube to Earl's court and had to wait for nearly 30mins for the next one, that rush hour was on (making Tube travel an utter misery on a normal day, let alone a rainy one) or that it took me nearly two hours from there to get back to my hotel. None of that matters. All that matters is: I'll never forget my first proper YALC and I really hope to be invited back again next year.

Before heading home on the train the next morning, I even had a little time to eat breakfast in the sun with one of the excellent books I'd obtained on Saturday:


And then I nearly fell asleep on the train, so I wrote 1000 words in my notebook in order to stay awake... but that's another story.

Did you get to YALC this year, Dear Readers (I know some of you did, 'cos I met you!)? What have you been up to? Throw your answers in the comments, darlings! xx
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