Tag Archive 'Juliet Marillier'

Deadline Craziness

OK, I confess, this month I am not posting a well-thought-out piece of wisdom on the writer’s craft. Instead I’m flailing around the night before my post is due, trying to string together something meaningful. I thought of asking Harry to write this for me, as he’s provided a WU post before on the vexed topic of deadlines, and how the life of a writer’s dog becomes less comfortable the closer they get. But for reasons given below, Harry isn’t […]

History and Magic

Lion statue, Tarquinia

Recently I attended the Historical Novelists Association annual conference, this year held in London. It was a great weekend with plenty of lively and informative sessions, though slightly more aimed at the aspiring writer than I’d expected. Highlights for me were a workshop on Battle Tactics and a panel entitled Confronting Historical Fact with the Unexplained: from myths & the occult to fairytales & the Gothic, chaired by Kate Forsyth.

Initially I felt a little out of place at […]

More on Voice and Structure

I posted some time ago about the challenges of voice and structure in my (then) work in progress, a novel called Dreamer’s Pool, first instalment of the Blackthorn & Grim series,  which is a historical fantasy/mystery series for adult readers. At that point I was wrestling with the self-imposed limitations of the format – three contrasting first person narrators alternating chapters. I love writing in first person, but I wondered at that point whether my control freak approach was forcing […]

Judging Short Fiction

I earn my living writing longish stories – my historical fantasy novels for adults usually come in at around 150,000 words. Perhaps because I’ve always loved traditional storytelling, including myths, legends and sagas, I do tend to think big, and it sits most comfortably with me to write fiction in the long form. I write short stories, too, but I find them more of a challenge. Every element must be refined and polished, the key message of the story must […]

Dealing with Setbacks

In these days of relentless self-promotion, we authors generally avoid sharing our bad news. Our posts and tweets, our websites and interviews emphasise the positive: a publishing deal, an interesting writers’ festival, a new creative partnership. Sometimes  we talk about fighting our way through adversity to achieve a goal. But only rarely do we feature the professional setbacks we experience along the way. The message we want to get across to our readers is that we’re doing just fine!

While I’ve […]

Mentoring: Two-way Learning

Being a full-time writer means not only working every day on my novel, but also performing the multiplicity of tasks that go with the profession: book-keeping, research, editing, publicity and so on. As an established novelist, I also get asked to present workshops, participate in writers’ festivals, judge competitions and give talks in schools. The better known you become as a writer, the more such requests you receive. It’s rewarding not only financially (most of the above are paid gigs) […]

Voice and Structure: A Planner’s Perspective

I’m currently working on a novel called Dreamer’s Wood, first installment in the Blackthorn & Grim series, and my deadline is getting uncomfortably close. Indeed, the story is so much in my head at present that I really had no choice but to write about it for this month’s post.

Dreamer’s Wood, a historical fantasy/mystery for adult readers, is designed around contrasts in voice. Three major characters–Blackthorn, the disillusioned healer; Grim, her taciturn sidekick; Oran, the dreamer prince–take turns narrating chapters […]

Letting your characters go

I’ve checked the proofs of my new novel. The stack of pages is ready to bundle up and send back to my editor. I’ve had my last opportunity to make corrections, and I’ve made my final farewell to the characters – THE CALLER is the third and final book in the SHADOWFELL series. Seems like time for a celebratory glass of champagne, yes? But I don’t feel elated, I feel sad. Why is it so hard to say goodbye?

After seventeen novels, I […]

When Characters Go Their Own Way

What’s this? Me, the arch-planner, admitting that my characters sometimes have a will of their own? I’ve always dismissed that idea as nonsense. Characters come from the mind of the writer, where else? The writer invents them, so they dance to her tune. She can make them do and think and say what she wants all the way through the story. Right?

I’ll get back to that soon. For now, let me fill you in on the current state of my […]

Nine Good Gifts for the New Year

I’m not keen on New Year’s resolutions. It’s too easy for us to end up in a mire of guilt, weighed down by our failure to meet our own expectations. On the other hand, defined goals can help those of us who might otherwise become TV watching, junk food eating couch potatoes, with nothing more to show for 2013 than an empty file entitled First Draft and five extra kilos around the waistline.

This week, Facebook is chockers with people’s summaries […]

A Dog’s-eye view

I had a concept in mind that had been nagging away at me for months, demanding to be crafted into a story. Two concepts, in fact, one about a cat and one about two dogs. Both seemed ideal for inclusion in my short fiction collection, Prickle Moon.

I made numerous attempts to write these stories, trying many different approaches to style and structure. That was unusual for me – I generally have a good intuitive feel for what will work. The […]

Don’t Forget to Celebrate

A couple of days ago I caught myself trying to do five things at once:

bake scones for a family visit (English scones, the kind you eat with jam)
complete the fancy beading on a princess outfit for a teddy bear
sweep the floor, put away the washing, quickly toddler-proof my living area
write my monthly post for Writer Unboxed
watch Homeland

Am I a multi-tasking superwoman? No, just misguided. Without six hands and a couple of separately functioning brains, there was no way I could do it. […]