New Blog, New Challenges

New Blog, New Challenges - Shifting blog platform is an adventure worth doing

3a4825fcc131395676e363c402ec39c5Yeah, that’s true, so far I haven blogged about me a whole lot. But lately I’ve been working on this new blog, and it was a challenge for me, because I don’t know anything about technical stuff. It was a job of contacting support desks, trying, doing and redoing, thinking “what the hell was I thinking when-“. But hey, here I am with a brand new blog all set up. Well, nearly all set up. And I want to celebrate by sharing my plans for the last couple of months of the year, which I expect to be quite busy.

Because this is it: after four years of mostly lonely working on my trilogy, last August I finished what I believe is the last deep revision of the first novel. This opens up a new era in the life of Ghost Trilogy. Gone the lonely days of drafting. It’s time to share my work.

Actually, the sharing is already started. One of my friends read the entire novel. I still don’t know how she talked me into this, I hate it when people read my stuff and that’s not ready, but I’m happy I let her do it and not only because my friend liked the novel. We spent several nights on the phone talking about it, which was in itself a new, exciting experience for me, an experience which gave me much food for thoughts for the work I still have ahead of me.

So, what I’m planning now is entering a few events in the next couple months.

Critique Circle

Which isn’t an event, but still. Critique Circle is a writing workshop online and I’ve been a member for seven years. I know lots of writers have issues with this kind of community, but personally, I enjoy it very much… well, most of the time.

I’ve met fantastic people on this site and a few of them have gone beyond the mere status of writing buddies. I do believe my storytelling technique as well as my use of English (which is not my native language) has improved dramatically as a result of the ongoing confrontation, both in having my work critiqued and critiquing others’. So posting my story to CC is a given.

CC allows you to post pieces of your story (normally chapters)  once a week, paying in credits you earn by critiquing other people’s work. I’ve just posted my synopsis and I plan to post my first three chapters too (that’s right, the material more commonly required for submission). I’ll post this to the regular queue, but if you are a premium member (that is, if you pay a little fee), CC allows you a few extra features, one of which is owning your own queue. You can post to your queue spending a lot less credits and without abiding to the one-week-one chapter rule. In fact, you can post your entire novel in one go, if you want, and you invite only people you trust to this queue. That’s what I plan to do.


1cc30749b8df8b86f0ac773a9dfcb1baNaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month . It is an online challenge to write a novel of at least 50k words in the month of November. It’s a challenge against yourself. You don’t win anything if you complete the challenge, nothing but the personal satisfaction of having done it.

I’ve found over the years (I’ve been participating nearly every years since 2005) that many people who haven’t participated don’t understand it. Why doing it, if you don’t win anything?

Well, firstly, because it’s just plain fun. The first year I entered, I did the challenge by myself. I won and it was nice. And that was it. But since the second time I participated, I did it together with a  lot of other buddies and that’s just amazing. The support, the jokes, the little challenges, the chats – it’s just fantastic and very motivating.

For me, though, 2010 – when I participated with the first draft of Ghost Trilogy – was particularly meaningful. When you have a day job and a family to look after, you normally think you don’t have much time for your writing. That was my thinking too, but that year I really wanted to win the NaNo no matter what. Hitting 50k words in one month may seem a lot. Let me tell you, it is entirely doable. You just need little more than one hour a day and the determination to write every day. For me, that meant getting up one hours early, so I could write before going to work, and do this every day. It taught me discipline, it especially thought me I can certainly do it.

Which is what I’ve done ever after. Well, I don’t write every single day (life happens all the time), but I do, if I can… which is normally the case. And believe me, you don’t imagine how much work you get done by devoting just one hour a day to your writing.

Over the last three years, I’ve been a rebel. On NaNo, you’re a rebel when you do take part but your goal is different than completing a first draft of at least 50k words. Many people are rebels because they aim for 100k words, for example, or because they’re not writing a novel, but a memoir or a book of poems. I was a rebel because I didn’t write a first draft, but I revised my novel. This year I’ll be doubly rebelling because I plan to polish up my entire first novel, which is 130k words long.

Wish me luck.

Caledonian Novel Award

I just stumbled upon this award for a novel by an unpublished author, deadline 2nd November. I liked it, so I thought, why not?

I’m actually nearly ready for this (besides, I’d better be, it’s just one more week). They want a 200 words long synopsis and the first 20 pages, which I do have. If you make it to the longlist, they’ll ask you for your entire MS by the beginning of December.

Sounds doable.

TOR Open Submission

TOR has opened to unsolicited MS and I’ve been meaning to send them something for a long time now.

They ask for unpublished novel by unpublished authors of no less than 90k words and no more than 150k words, and of course falling into the genre of Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror.

Last year, I contacted them because I wasn’t sure whether my novel falls into these categories (it does match the word count) . They say it does, send it over.

Will I argue with that? Of course not!


I have never been on social md82bf40c8ebe22fcd283e67910d6e085edia… I mean, up to six months ago, I didn’t even have a blog. But because I’m preparing to sending out my novel, I thought it was time to become serious about it. I mean, what if someone turns out to be interested in representing it or – faints – publishing it? First of all, I should be findable online, and then I should be ready to market my novel, which means I need the tools, but also the knowledge to do it. This looked like a perfect time to start working about it.

Since I’ve always dislike FaceBook (I still don’t have an account) I turned to Twitter. Well, I’d have never thought I’d enjoy it so much. Twitter is fast, to the point and there are lots of info to be gathered, as well as lots of things going on all the time. Last September, I discovered #PitMad and now I can’t wait to participate.

You are supposed to pitch your novel with your twits. There will be several agents reviewing the twits and if they like them, they’ll ask you for a sample of your work. It’s like submitting, but via twits and in just one day. They ask you to have your MS ready, just in case a full read is required. Next run is 6th December.

You’re suppose to have many twits ready for this, because they advice to twit your story twice a hour, but Twitter may not allow you to post the same twit twice in that time. Here’s a very interesting article on how to craft interesting and different twits for your PitMad.

Again, this is something I can’t wait for.


And so, these are my plans for the next couple months. Anyone fancy to join me?

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About the Author

I was born, raised and I still live near Verona (Italy), though I worked for a time in Dublin. I started writing fantasy stories as a kid. Today I’m a bookseller who reads fantasy, history, mythology, anthropology and lots of speculative fiction. Somehow, all of this has found its way into my own dieselpunk stories.

5 Comments on "New Blog, New Challenges"

  1. Ciao Sarah!

    Great blog, and I love the background images. Good noir ghostly feel to it. I’m doing NaNoWriMo, too, in hopes of finishing up Gods of New Orleans (1st draft) ahead of schedule. That’ll leave me December and January for beta readers and revisions, then editing, revising, proofreading, revising, and publishing in May next year. Fingers crossed, but that’s my challenge to myself.

    Hadn’t heard of PitMad before. I’ll give it a look. Best of luck with Tor. The only thing I can say is be prepared to wait a while for a reply. They’ve got a looooong queue to read through.


  2. Hi Aaron,

    Hey, you’re the first to comment on the new blog 🙂
    I’m glad you like it. I like it a lot myself. I was very sad when I discovered I couldn’t replicate the old graphic, because the theme (Bold Life) is too old to go with the new WordPress. But I found this new theme that made me accept the loss happily. I also think it suites Ghost Trilogy very much.

    Another Wrimoer! I’m Celebcùen on the site, if you want to add me. I think NaNo is a great motivation, that’s why I like to do it. Not because I’ll do something I wouldn’t do otherwise, but because the challange spurs to do it faster!

    I know TOR is very slow. A friend of mine submitted to them nearly a year ago and they still haven’t replied. He submitted to TOR US, I will submit to TOR UK, which may be just a tiny bit faster. Uhm…

    Thanks again for stopping by. In bocca al lupo per il NaNo 😉

  3. Yay for new blog! It looks fantastic.

    Of course, you already know I’m doing NaNo. 😀

    I’ve done #PitMad before, a year or two ago, and it was quite an experience. I had one bite that I haven’t followed up on yet, because I’m (still) revising (again). Oh well.

    I’ve often eyed Tor’s open submissions, too, but once again, I have to have something complete. Whee!

    I know I’ve looked at Critique Circle a couple of times, but I never did sign up, I don’t recall why. Probably because my time management sucks. Glad to know that it’s working well for you!

  4. I think the blog looks very nice, JF!

  5. Hi Andrew, thanks for visiting 🙂
    I’m not finish with the blog yet, there are many little things I want to twick. And I’m working on the content too (I suppose that never ends).
    Hope you’ll enjoy it.

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