Welcome to the Dragon's Pen, the blog of an aspiring kiwi author ... chatting about reading, writing, querying and publishing

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Calling Fantasy Writers

Do you write fantasy, especially YA fantasy?

Do you live in New Zealand or Australia?

Are you interested in connecting with other writers in your genre?

If you're a writer of fantasy (published or unpublished) living in Australasia, or have your roots here, and would like to connect with writers writing in the same genre I'd love to hear from you.

At present we seem to be few and far between, especially in NZ.

So, if your keen drop us a line in the comments or email me at penelope dot griffin dot books at gmail dot com. We would love to hear what you're up to, how you're going and what you're writing.

If you're from another part of the world you're also welcome to drop us a line, I'd hate you to feel left out. It's nothing personal really. ;)


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Book Signing Success

Never having had a novel published (yet) I've had little experience in book signing and none at all when it comes to doing a formal book signing at a bookstore, so I'm hardly one to give advice on the matter.

However, this is something I've been wondering about. How do you go about running a book signing event? How should you go about promoting it? How do you insure it is successful?

This morning I stumbled across a link to a the Backspace website with a brilliant 3 page article full of practical how-to advice on making your book signing a success.

Check it out here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Year of the Dragon's Pen

On April the 13th The Dragon's Pen had it's first birthday, The day past without me even noticing or marking the auspicious occasion.

Earlier this month we blogged our 100th post, without me noticing or celebrating the momentous occasion.

This is a belated "Harrah!" in celebration of a blog birthday and 100 posts.

Thanks to all of you who have followed our journey thus far, we have enjoyed your company and the honour of getting to know you all along the way. Do stick with us - we ain't finished yet!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Are you tried of having your writing rejected by publishers?

Are you feeling dejected and thinking about throwing in the towel?

Do you need a little encouragement?

You might find it here. A list of 30 famous writers who had their work rejected - sometimes repeatedly - and some of the things editors, agents or publishers had the audacity to say about their work.

I found it vastly encouraging!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Advice for those about to Embark on the Ship Publication

Are you about to embark of the Ship Publication?
Are you planning ahead for just such a journey?

If so, what do you need to do? That tips and tricks do you need to pack in your travel trunk?

The lovely Randy Susan Meyers on her blog Word Love has wonderfully insightful advice about what to do once your novel has been accepted for publication.

Do check it out!!! Now!

She suggests:

1) Making friends in the writing world.
Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and Online networking through blogs are all great examples of how you can do this.

2) Making a mailing list.
This includes anyone you ever met. I'd also include national and local media in this list.

3) Getting a make over.
Seriously. If you have been sitting at your laptop for two years in your pjs, eating little except chocolate and drinking coffee, then a visit to a hair stylist, a new outfit and a bit of makeup probably can't hurt. :D

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rewriting and Recycling

The official editing of my manuscript is on hold for now while I rewrite my first four chapters. This should bring me up to where I need to be. It'll mean two or three dud chapters will be cut out entirely, which is a good thing, believe me. Even though there was some really good stuff in some of those chapters the story wasn't getting where it needed to go quick enough. There was no help for it, they had to go.

I'll be recycling some of my favourite bits, cause recycling is good for the environment, and in this case, it's good for my ego too.

I'm pretty pleased with how the rewriting is turning out. I've had some pretty encouraging comments about it so far. YAY! Given how down I was, my writerly-pride is improving and the bruises are swiftly fading - no doubt they will soon be forgotten.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Humble Pie and Brick Walls

Due to some very humbling, but very helpful advice I received recently about the beginning of my book I was forced to do some serious thinking.

I like to think I'm good at taking criticism of my work, thinking about it objectively, then taking the advice on board and making the changes I need to and getting on with it. It's not uncommon for me to do the forehead-slapping "why-didn't-I-see-that?" thing.

But I have to admit, some of the comments this time rocked me far more than I was prepared for. It wasn't that the things said were nasty or mean (though one comment was), it was all insightful and hugely helpful and some of it was very encouraging. Maybe I was overtired, I don't know, whatever it was, I got really down about it. Depressed.

I'd been really high after meeting Vanda, the bubble burst, and I fell hard and fast!

My facebook status read:

...... has decided writing is for loonies! And I'm not loony enough to make the cut. Very tempted to delete the whole lot and biff the laptop out the window. :(

Hhmmm, yes. Disturbing stuff!

I felt miserable for a while, cried a bit down the phone to Sue, dutifully listened to a pep talk, ate chocolate and got cuddles from hubby, and went off to work feeling like I'd rather go to bed and hide for a week (and never write again).

Upon reflection, the problem wasn't so much the critiques themselves, I KNEW the comments were right, it was that I couldn't get my head around how to fix it.

I needed to rewrite it - rewrite the first chapters bigger and better and still get to where I needed to be. But I couldn't see how to do it. It was just too hard.

Well, I came home from a hard night at work, emotionally and physically exhausted, and fell into bed. But I couldn't sleep because the new scenes I needed were falling into place. I could see the the pieces of the puzzle that were missing. Yippee! (Yawn...zzzz)

I thought I'd be dithering for weeks, or months, banging my head against a brick wall tagged with the words "How are you going to fix this?"

But NO. The wall lies around my ankles in a mountain of rumble!

It took me a while to get started, but in the end I wrote 6 pages today. The words just tripped off my fingers.

I'm excited, it is possible to think outside the box and start again.

The first words were the hardest and I don't know if this is the beginning I'll end up using, but it is a new beginning.

The depression has faded away and hope is back.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fantasy and Sci-Fi Competition!!!

The Guide to Literary Agents Blog is advertising another competition. This time writers of Fantasy and Science Fiction are to get their time in the sun!

They're looking for writers with a completed manuscript of either Adult or YA fiction.

So, if you are keen on dipping your toe in some competitive waters go here to check out the details.

And good luck. :)

Being Recharged

In the hard slog that is writing ... or in my case at the moment, editing ... we can become a bit weary and jaded by the whole process. The doubts, the negative thoughts and the impatience creep in.

"It is such a LONG process. It'll never be good enough and what happens if, in the end, the publishers don't like it?" And on and on. Blah, blah, blah...

I admit, I do get a bit impatient at the editing stage (Oh, I guess I did in the writing stage too, didn't I?). Lets face it. I'm just impatient. I want the book to be ready and perfect - now. No. Not now. Yesterday!

But life doesn't work like that and neither does writing.

Last night, at a meeting of the DWW (a local writing group), the wonderful and charming Vanda Symon came to speak to us about her books. She talked heaps, which was awesome, and shared a lot about her journey to publishing, what it was like to write a series and various other bits and pieces. Lots of great stuff. It was hugely encouraging.

I came home feeling like a fire had been lit under me.

The passion is back. I want this. I REALLY want this.

The dream hadn't faded. It'd just got a little rumbled and buried under all the crap that crawled in and sat on it, namely the doubt and impatient frustration.

So thanks Vanda for honestly sharing your enthusiasm for what you do.

It may sounds crazy, but it's great to meet published authors and discover just how awfully normal they are! It's wonderfully encouraging to find that most of them are just like me. They have families and naughty kids and issues and are terrible housekeepers (note: I'm not talking about Vanda here, just making general comments! :D) and some have smelly dogs and others have lazy cats, but they all write because they LOVE it.

Just like me!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Editing and Childbirth: What do they have in common?

It struck me today (right between the eyes, I might add) that Editing is a lot like Childbirth.

That's a weird analogy, you might think. Let me explain.

What is the common thread between the two? A lot of agonizingly hard work.

Step One: There's the initial excitement and joy of the moment when the story in first conceived in your mind. (Ahem. Nuff said, I think.)

Step Two: This if followed by a nervous excitement and you wonder if it's really happening. Will this ever be a more than and idea? Do I really have something here? Could this be something wonderful?

Step Three: Then there's the thrill and scary realization that it is actually happening!

Step Four: You slave for months growing and nurturing this story until you type those magical words: "The End." It is finished.

For some of us this "pregnancy-stage," the writing of the first draft, can be very difficult. We suffer. We can't sleep, we forget to eat, we have weird dreams, our hair falls out and our backs hurt from bending over the keyboard. We doubt ourselves, our ability to write the thing, or to do the story justice. But we persevere. Why? Because now we're in love. The story is infused with a piece of our heart and we're determined to see it though.

Step Five: The Birth.

This is where all the true discomfort and pain begins. Yes. The story in written, but now it's time for us to get really serious. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get dirty. Editing isn't for the faint of heart. Editing is hard work!

It's in the editing that we writers shed the most blood, sweat and tears. (This is true for me at least.) It's tough. There are no shortcuts. No cheats. There's no one you can bribe to make it better. It's just you, nose to the grind stone, word by word, page by page, chapter by chapter, hacking, tweaking and polishing.

Your creativity has to be brought under control, the desire to write restrained, and the editor's scalpel brought out. It might not be pretty. It might hurt like hell. But you know that eventually, when the pain and the hard slog are over, your story will gleam like the perfect creation it was intended to be.

Let's face it, birth is a natural, painful and messy process, but not with out its rewards. The same goes for editing our wee darlings. And like the pain of childbirth, we, oh so easily, forget the horror of editing when the next delightful story woos us into beginning the process all over again!

We're suckers. There's really no hope for us.

My wee darling calls. Editing awaits me.

...And the next delightful story already begins to woo me!

A New Day. A New Blog.

Sue, my friend and writing buddy, has just begun her own blog over at J T Webster Books.

It's the big scary blogoshere out here, so do sneak a peek and drop her a word of encouragement or two. I know she'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Making Progress

I have now - officially - finished editing the first 100 pages or 20,00 words of my fantasy novel.

Now I feel like we're finally making so progress.

Editing can feel like a bit of drag and a drain at times. Like all my creativity is being sucked - quite literally - down the drain.

How is it possible to sit in front of a laptop and NOT write for weeks on end?

And I have this wonderful new story idea and it's nagging, nagging, nagging at me to just get on and WRITE it. Its characters are dancing around in my head, wearing lovely new colours in a crisp, new and enchanting world, and they whisper (or shout, as the mood takes them) their own particular secrets to me. How can I resist?

But I must EDIT!

I may go insane before this process is over. This blog isn't subtitled "musings from the borderlands of sanity" for nothing, you know.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Seven Deadly Sins of the Written Word

Are you editing your WIP?

Are you pulling your hair out because you're work doesn't seem to be the magical creation you so desperately want it to be?

Are you struggling to see the wood for the trees?
(hee,hee! Intentional cliche)

Are you querying agents and only getting rejection slips in return?

You maybe committing one or all of the Seven Deadly Sins of the Written Word!

So what are they?

Deadly Sin #1 & 2. Slow, Generic or just plain Boring Beginnings

Deadly Sin #3. Trying too Hard to be a Literary Genius

Deadly Sin #4. Way Tooooo Much Information!!

Deadly Sin #5. Cringe Inducing Cliches

Deadly Sin #6. Loss of Focus - Meandering and Sleep Inducing Prose

Deadly Sin #7. Unrealistic Internal Narrative - POV Abuse of your MC

I stumbled across Janice's latest post this morning. As always, it was brimming with wisdom and helpful tips to drag yourself out of the mire you may have written yourself into. Today she was exploring the Seven Sins of a first chapter. Follow the link to visit her post for an eloquent description of each Sin and tips for kicking the Sinful Habit.

Janice also shared a helpful linked to another blog I follow with a post titled 7 Reasons Agents Stop Reading Your First Chapter.

Do check them out.