Writing Corner: On This Is Not A Love Story, The Writing and Editing Process So Far

Hi all! I’m hoping to get one of these features up every month over the summer, since I’m not sure how busy I will be when I go back to Uni in September, so it will be nice to have some writing content up, in case I have to leave you with a few months without like I did in March and April when I had too much work to post 3 sets of long posts (discussion posts, reviews and these).

Today, I’m going to be talking about the process of writing and editing my first novel, This Is Not A Love Story, as I just sent it off to my critique partner after completing my first proper round of edits, so it seemed like a good time to talk about what the process of writing and editing it has been like so far. Just a fair warning, you may get a fair few of these types of posts, as This Is Not A Love Story is my main writing project at the moment and I’m hoping to get it ready for submission to agents and hopefully publication one day, so there will be a lot of updates here throughout the process.

For a little background, in case you are new to the blog and have no idea what I’m talking about when I talk about This Is Not A Love Story, I first started writing it in 2016, initially after a prompt from my uni’s Creative Writing Society, which was taking a first line from a famous story and writing something of your own based on that. The line I chose was “All stories are love stories”, and I wanted to write something to prove that didn’t necessarily have to be true, at least not in the romantic sense. I’ve written a lot on here about how frustrated I get that all YA stories seem to have to have a primary romance storyline, because although falling in love for the first time is part of a lot of teens lives, not all of us fall in love at 16 and personally when I was a teen, my friends were a lot more important to me than boys; heck they still are! Tiffany’s story is not defined by her relationships to the boys in her life, she’s not looking for romance, she wants the family and friends that she has never had and she finds that in Resistentia, the Resistance group she joins. Tiffany’s story is all about her journey to being able to use her new powers, learning to become a part of her new family and getting her revenge on the people she feels have wronged her.

I did my first draft of This Is Not A Love Story for NaNoWriMo in 2016. It was quite an intense experience, I’ve never written that much over that short a period of time before and I don’t really plan what I write as such, so there were some days where I got a bit stuck and didn’t really know where the characters where meant to go, but luckily, I have great friends and they were quite happy for me to bounce ideas off them. I didn’t actually finish TINALS during NaNoWriMo, but I was basically nearly there.

Then 2017 was kind of a dry spot for me in terms of progressing on TINALS. I’d never really had to edit my work properly before, when I did fanfiction, the most editing I would do is check for typos before I published it, so I’m not really used to looking to the flaws in my own work. I started on my second WIP, Underground Magicians and spent most of the year focusing on that, as all I was really able to do with TINALS was split it in to chapters (as I wrote it all as one long story) and check for typos.

Then this year, thanks to Megan Lally, I found #cpmatch on Twitter, a Critique Partner match up party, when you tweet about your book and people who are happy to work with you on it, will like your pitch and then you exchange chapters to see if you are a good fit. I got a few people liking my tweet about TINALS and sent my work out to them and I did get some decent feedback, but the one who gave me the best advice and has stuck, is my current CP Katie. I sent her over my first chapter and she had some really great insights onto how to make it better, I then sent over my entire MS and have spent the last four months revising TINALS before I finally sent it back to her this week.

Having a critique partner has been amazing for me. I’m not new to writing in the sense that I’ve been writing in one form or another pretty much ever since I learned how to, but editing? Yeah it is definitely something that I’m not used to, so having a second pair of eyes on my story to show where I’ve been going wrong and how I can make it better has been great for me. It was so much easier to see what needed work in my story when I had some outside impartial feedback about it. For me the hardest part about editing was knowing where to start, once I’d sent TINALS off to Katie and she’d read it, I had feedback about the bits that I needed to improve, so I had a starting point and once you have somewhere to work from, editing suddenly becomes a lot easier.

It’s actually kind of amazing how much TINALS has changed just in one revision. The bones of the story are the same, but I’ve gone for dual first person POV now, from both Tiffany and Cam, the main male lead (not romantic lead)’s POV which I think has made for a more well rounded story. People always talk about cutting in editing, but in actual fact, much of this first round of edits for me was adding in scenes to make my story more well rounded and reach the expected 70-80k words for YA fantasy. It was quite interesting for me, adding in Cam’s perspective, because he has quite a different view of the world and a different perspective from Tiffany, so having his POV allowed me to explore both the world I had created, and Tiffany herself through different eyes.

I also rewrote the entire ending, which was quite scary to do as it was the most changing I had to do anywhere in the story in my first round of edits, but after I had written the first draft, I had already decided that I wanted to change certain aspects of the ending (I don’t really want to say what, as it would be spoilers and I am hoping to get this story published one day) before I sent my story off to Katie for feedback and once I got her feedback on the ending, I entirely reworked it. I had originally envisioned this story as a standalone, but with my new ending, I’m definitely going to have at least one sequel, though I don’t know when I’m going to write it!

So that’s where I’m at right now; I’ve made my first significant revisions to TINALS, almost two years after I wrote the first draft. It has been a slow process but now that I have a critique partner, I am feeling a lot more confident about the revision process and I’m hoping that now I’ve passed the first major hurdle of initial revisions, that subsequent revisions will be a lot easier for me because I actually know what I’m doing now! I never really thought about the editing part of writing a book, it was much easier for me to focus on the initial writing part, but it is actually quite rewarding, taking what you originally had and making it better.

To round this all off, I thought I’d share with you a little snippet from TINALS so you guys can see what I’ve been working on for nearly two years. This is just the opening from the first chapter as I don’t want to give away too much! This is the first time I’ve ever shared my original writing on the Internet before, so please be kind!:

My name is Tiffany Sinclair, and this is the story of how I almost died. At this point you’ll probably feel the urge to go “Aww” or something equally sickening, but don’t. Note the almost. I’m very much alive. And I fully intend to take down the person who tried to kill me. No one hurts Tiffany Sinclair and gets away with it. No one. That person took away one of my best friends and for that they will pay.

The tale which led up to this tragic event, began on the day of my seventeenth birthday when I received the worst news of my life.

So there you have it, that has been my writing journey, at least for this story, in a nutshell over the past two years. There is still a LONG way to go before TINALS ever sees the light of day, but for now, I’m really happy to be working on Tiffany’s story, and I hope that one day, it will be on shelves and teens like me will be able to read it and see that not having romance in your life is not the be all, end all and you can still have exciting adventures without it!

Okay, fellow writers! What have you been writing recently? How long have you been working towards getting something publication ready? Any agented writers out there? Let me know in the comments!

I’m hoping to have another one of these for you next month, although I’m not sure what I’m going to be writing about yet. If you are a writer and you would like to be featured on this, then you can contact me on Twitter, @iloveheartlandX.

I will have my latest Top Ten Tuesday post up on Tuesday, so stay tuned for that.


Writing Corner: On My Writing Playlist

Hi everyone! I’m really sorry that it has been so long since I last did one of these, March and April were ridiculously busy for me, what with assignment due dates and exams for Uni, so I didn’t have time to sit down and write any long posts besides my discussion posts and reviews.

Today I’m going to be talking about something that is an integral part of my writing process: music. I know writers have different opinions on this, some can’t live without it, some prefer to work in silence, some like music with lyrics, some prefer scores, there are a wide variety of opinions out there about the role of music in the writing process. But I’m not going to talk about the merits of each option today, I’m going to talk about how music plays a role in my own writing process and give you guys a little inside look into my Writing Playlist.

For me personally, I can’t work without some form of background noise. It’s why I hate exams so much, I find the complete silence weirdly distracting! I do occasionally do my writing whilst watching TV or movies, but for the most part, I use the Writing Playlist that I have set up on my IPod. It gets me into the writing mindset, every time I turn it on, I know that for the next hour or so it’s time to write. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t occasionally flick back to Twitter and get distracted, but for the most part, when I turn on my writing playlist, I know that it’s time to settle down and concentrate on my writing.

When I first started writing This Is Not A Love Story, I used playlists from YouTube whilst I was writing, but I tended to listen to the same songs I had on my IPod anyway, so I decided to draw up a playlist on my IPod that I could just use every time I sat down to write. My writing playlists can be pretty easily broken down into six sections; Musical Soundtracks, Film Soundtracks, TV Soundtracks, Taylor Swift songs, Ed Sheeran songs, and other miscellaneous music, so for this post, I’m going to briefly explore each of these sections. I can’t go into too much depth, I have over 400 songs on my Writing Music playlist!

Musical Soundtracks

Honestly, a lot of these come under film soundtracks as well, but to make it easier, I will include all the ones that were originally musicals in this section (even if it is the film soundtrack that I have) and just put the ones that are only films in the next section.

  • Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Soundtrack

Of course Hamilton is on my Writing Playlist. Honestly, for most of second year after my friend Nicola introduced me to it, Hamilton was my study soundtrack as well! I wrote quite a bit of This Is Not A Love Story whilst listening to Hamilton on YouTube, so now that I have the full cast album, it’s on my Writing Playlist. There’s nothing that can pep you up to write better than listening to songs like “My Shot” and “Right Hand Man”!

  • Wicked: Original Broadway Cast Soundtrack

I wrote a very memorable section of my first draft of TINALS whilst listening to Defying Gravity, it really was the perfect song to complement Adrianna and Avery riding a flaming dragon at full speed through underground tunnels. Seriously though, this soundtrack is just awesome and I find it so great to write to!

  • Hairspray: 2007 Movie Cast Soundtrack

Hairspray is one of my favourite musicals, but I only actually got the chance to see it on stage last year, so the movie soundtrack is the one I have grown up on! I love this soundtrack, for the most part, it’s really upbeat and a lot of fun to write to.

  • The Last Five Years Movie Soundtrack

Again, I saw the movie before I even knew that this one was a musical, so that’s the soundtrack that I have. Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan are both great and there’s so much variety in just the one soundtrack, no two songs sound the same and it’s great to have that kind of variety on my writing playlist because it means I can pick a song that suits the scene I’m writing that day.

  • Mamma Mia: Original West End Soundtrack

I added this to my IPod after I went to the show last August, I love Mamma Mia the movie, but the stage show was just amazing, and had the added bonus that I could have the soundtrack a) without having to buy it on ITunes as my family already had the CD and b) without Pierce Brosnan’s singing!

  • Chicago Movie Soundtrack

I only have a couple of the songs, but I am hoping to get more, I feel like my main character Tiffany and Roxie Hart would probably be friends!

Movie Soundtracks

  • Moulin Rouge

Of course I have my favourite movie soundtrack on my writing playlist. I don’t actually own all the songs from the soundtrack yet, but I will, so far I just have my favourite ones.

  • The Greatest Showman

This soundtrack is just AH-MAZING and is so great for getting me pepped up and in the mood to write!

  • Country Strong

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this often before, but I do quite like country music, and so the soundtrack from this country music drama is perfect for me to write to.

  • Assorted Disney music

I don’t really have any one single album from a Disney movie, I have various different songs from various different movies. The Lion King and The Lion King 2 soundtracks are big features, I have several songs from both the live action and animated Beauty and The Beast movies. I have the best songs from Mulan (I’ll Make A Man Out of You, great for fight scenes) and Reflection. I have my favourite song from Hercules (I Won’t Say I’m In Love) and Let It Go from Frozen. That’s all for now, but I’m sure I’ll be adding more Disney songs in the future.

TV soundtracks

  • Nashville Cast soundtrack

Again, I’m not sure how much I’ve mentioned it here, but I’m a big fan of the TV show Nashville, and a lot of their music has made its way onto my Writing playlist. I don’t have any songs from Season 6 yet, they’re not available on UK ITunes (I don’t think) but I have all my favourites from 1-5.

  • Glee Cast soundtrack

I have less of these than I used to, because I’m not as big of a Glee fan as I was a few years ago, but despite the show being over, I do still like to listen to some of their songs from time to time.

Taylor Swift music

  • I have all six of Taylor Swift’s studio albums, plus a couple of songs that she’s done for movie soundtracks and of course they are all on my Writing Playlist, because there’s nothing like listening to one of your favourite artists to get you in the mood for writing.

Ed Sheeran music

  • I have all of the music from his last two albums on my writing playlist, most of Ed Sheeran’s music is quite relaxing which makes it good to write to and the more fast paced ones are good for giving me energy when I’ve been writing for a while!

Other music

  • Lucy Hale’s album Road Between

I was a massive fan of Pretty Little Liars, so naturally when Lucy Hale released an album, I bought it straight away. I wasn’t expecting much, but it’s actually become one of my favourites, I have songs from it on both my Writing Playlist and my Running Playlist.

  • Kelly Clarkson

I love Kelly Clarkson’s music, so of course I have a few of her songs on my Writing Playlist, bangers like Since U Been Gone for more fast paced scenes and emotional ones like Because of You for more sad scenes.

  • McFly

Like many people who were young in the 00’s, I really loved McFly, so for the sake of nostalgia and because they have some really great tunes, I have a few of their songs on my writing playlist.

  • Queen

I have some of Queen’s greatest hits on my Writing Playlist, Bohemian Rhapsody, Don’t Stop Me Now, We Will Rock You, Somebody To Love. I would like to have more when I can afford to buy new music as I love Queen!

  • Colbie Caillat

I really love Colbie Caillat’s music, she has some great tunes and the ones I have are all quite relaxing, which help me get into the right mindset for writing.

  • Christina Aguilera

Fighter was basically made for writing fight scenes!

  • Christina Perri

Human, A Thousand Years, Miles and Jar of Hearts are all lovely songs that I just like to listen to when I’m writing. Say Something, her song with A Great Big World is also beautiful and perfect for emotional scenes.

  • Sara Barielles

Sara Barielles’ music is just beautiful and great for when I need to write a more emotional scene.

I do have various other random songs from different artists on my Writing Playlist, but this is already quite a long post, so I’ll stop there! I hope this has given you at least a little insight into my taste in music and my writing process.

Over to you! Do you use music to help in your writing process? Or do you prefer to write in silence? What kind of music do you like to use? Let me know in the comments!

I don’t know when I’ll next have one of these for you, hopefully next month, I think I’ll be talking in a little more depth about my novel, This Is Not A Love Story, as I’m editing it right now. If you’re a writer and would like to contribute to this feature then you can contact me on Twitter, @iloveheartlandX.

I will have my latest review for you soon and my latest Top Ten Tuesday post up tomorrow, so keep your eyes out for those!


Writing Corner: On My Writing Inspirations and How They Have Changed Over The Years

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while, my first post of these was kind of just to test the waters and see whether it would be worth continuing this series. This year however, I’m hoping to expand this feature even more, to have an outlet to talk about my own writing and also hopefully share writing and writing stories from other writers in the community.

Today’s topic is inspired by a conversation I had on Twitter. I was talking to someone about my favourite books and one of the examples I gave was A Darker Shade of Magic, and I said that when I was younger, my writing inspiration was JK Rowling but right now I said my writing inspiration was VE Schwab. This got me thinking about how I’ve changed as a writer and how my inspirations have changed as I’ve grown up and become more serious and dedicated to my authorial pursuits.

The writing bug was first ignited in me when I read Harry Potter for the first time as a kid. I was so enthralled by the magic and the sense of wonder I got from reading those books and I was determined that when I was older, I was going to be exactly like JK Rowling. I mean we even had the same first name, to my young brain, it seemed perfectly natural that one day I could be like the woman who wrote these stories that I loved so much.

Now obviously, my expectations have grown more realistic as I’ve got older. I know, that realistically, I’m highly unlikely to sell a story that becomes a global and cultural phenomenon. But that initial desire, to write a story that captivates people, that touches people and gives them a sense of wonder and hope and inspiration, that hasn’t gone away.

But the kind of story that is has changed a lot over the years. I’ve tried my hand at writing a lot of different things, zany playscripts, a Cluedo style murder mystery, a Thirteen Reasons Why type contemporary, a secret agent type story involving bears as spies, all sorts of things. However I actually wrote very little, if any fantasy to start off with, despite that being the genre that I loved the most from a very young age. It’s only really in the last few years that I’ve started writing my own fantasies and I think the reason is the authors I’ve been reading. When I was younger, I only really had Harry Potter as a fantasy inspiration, but there have been so many amazing fantasies brought out as I’ve been growing up and I’ve had such a wealth of amazing writers to choose from and so what I’ve written has changed to reflect that.

In terms of writing style, I would say my biggest inspirations are Derek Landy and Rick Riordan, which is unsurprising, considering those two writers series’ were my biggest obsessions during my teen years, it stands to reason that when writing YA, the writers I was obsessed with in my teens have really influenced me. The snappy dialogue and the sarcastic humour were massive draws for me, but also the fact that their writing is fun and engaging and it has a really strong voice, and that’s always been the sort of thing that I love. So naturally, I have tried to incorporate that into my own writing (in my own way of course), because I want to write the things that I love to read. I could try being more descriptive, more flowery, but that’s never been me, and I don’t think it will ever be my characters either. In terms of my books, I want all of them to have some sense of me in them, that only I could have written them and that’s something I’ve got from my favourite authors I think, that no matter what they write, there’s an underlying sense of their personality, their soul, in each of their books.

Victoria Schwab is probably one of my biggest writing inspirations right now, I love how inventive and creative she is, how no two of her books are the same, but like I said above, you can tell they were all written by her because there is this underlying sense of her personality running through all of her books. I was actually talking to a friend, explaining Underground Magicians (having recently told her about the Shades of Magic books) and she was like “oh that sounds like those books you were telling me about!”, which was totally unintentional, but I think it just goes to show how much she has influenced me and my writing. Lila Bard was definitely a huge inspiration for Tiffany in TINALS, not so much Sophie in Underground Magicians, but one of the things I’ve definitely taken from Victoria’s writing is how to write an awesome female MC. The elemental magic system in TINALS was partially inspired by the magic in ADSOM, but also from Skulduggery Pleasant, and various other books that have used that kind of magic. However, much like with JK Rowling, it isn’t necessarily aspects of her writing that have inspired me the most, it’s the feeling that I get from reading her work. Her fantasies are these amazing, totally immersive adventures, and I want my readers to feel like that if I ever actually get a book out into the world. Like they just want to sit there and dive into this world and not come out again until the story is over. I also love how honest Victoria Schwab is about her writing and the difficulties she has with it, it makes me feel a whole lot better on days when I want to bang my head against a wall because a plot point just won’t work!

One of my inspirations for Underground Magicians is one that I didn’t even realise until today, Sophie McKenzie’s The Medusa Project. One of the coolest things about that book (though it’s not a fantasy as such), is that all of the characters have very different psychic powers and it’s something I’ve taken into Underground Magicians, as all of the characters have very different magic powers and it’s not based on one specific system, like the elements in TINALS. I also think the relatively fast pace of my writing is something that I got from reading a lot of Sophie McKenzie when I was younger, she always wrote really snappy, sharp, engaging plots and that’s something that I hope comes across in my work as well!

Sarah J Maas has also been a massive inspiration for me in recent years. You can say whatever you like about the problematic elements to her books, and there are many, I’m not saying I aspire to those, but she has been writing since she was a teen and managed to get a story that she wrote in its first iteration at 16 published, and that to me, as a young writer is really inspiring. Celaena was also definitely a huge influence in the character of Tiffany in TINALS, I loved seeing a character who wasn’t necessarily always the most likeable, but she was determined and feisty and went after what she wanted and has a bit of a flair for the dramatic! She also writes really great female friendships and that’s something that is massively important to me in my own books.

Everything I’ve read has in some way contributed to the writer I am today, but there are certain authors, like the ones I’ve mentioned in this post today, who have a special place in my heart, whose writing I have connected with on such a deep level that you can see their influences in what I write myself. My ideal is that one day, what I write will be published and I’ll be able to influence a younger generation of writers in the same way that these authors have influenced me!

So over to you? What authors have influenced your writing? Have your writing inspirations changed as you’ve grown up? Let me know in the comments!

I don’t know when I’ll next be doing one of these, I’m hoping for maybe once a month, but it will depend on when I have time to sit down and write! I’m really hoping to get other writers to contribute to this feature, so if you’re a writer and you’re interested in being featured on my blog, then holler at me on Twitter, I’m @iloveheartlandX. I have a few people who’ve already noted interested and no, I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ve just been busy!

My next new post will be my newest TTT on Tuesday, but I will also have a very special post next week celebrating four years of blogging (FOUR! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?), so stay tuned for that!



Make Me Read It Read-a-thon Introduction Post

First off, I would like to apologize for the tardiness of my weekend memes, I’ve kind of been a little behind on all things blogging related this week, so I’m hoping to do a big sweep of my Saturday, Sunday and Monday memes tomorrow so that by Tuesday, I will be back on my regular schedule! Second of all I would like to announce that I’m going to be taking part in the Make Me Read It Read-a-thon. This is a Read-a-thon created by Val @ The Innocent Smiley and Ely @ A Book So Fathomless. Basically the idea of this read-a-thon is that you pick out books from your shelf (or e-reader if you are that way inclined), and choose however many you want (more than you know you will be able to read in a week). You then put up a post (like this one) and then get other bloggers, friends, anyone who reads your post, to vote on what you have to read during the week. The Read-a-thon is from 8am on the 20th July to 12am on the 27th July.

I’m going to give you several options for how you vote for what you want me to read:

-You can leave your choices in a comment on this post

-You can DM me through my twitter account (my twitter handle is @iloveheartlandX)

-You can use the read-a-thon hashtag #MakeMeRead and then add the name of the book or books you want me to read (make sure you include my twitter handle in your tweet though, or else I won’t see it).

On to the books you can choose from, I have eight books on this list and I’m allowing you four choices each. The four most popular books will be the books that I will read (although I’m not guaranteeing I will read all four). Please only vote once each (as in only vote for your four choices once and not several times) as it will be much easier for me to keep track of that way. Anyway, I’m rambling now, here are your choices:

IMG_0160 IMG_0161IMG_0163IMG_0164IMG_0165IMG_0166IMG_0167IMG_0168In case any of the pictures are a little blurry, I’ll do a list of the titles as well:

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses

2. Ink and Bone

3. Red Queen

4. The Knife of Never Letting Go

5. Before I Fall

6. Look Who’s Back

7. Code Name Verity

8. Allegiant

So vote for whichever four of those you want, in whichever way you want, whether it be comment, DM on twitter or #MakeMeRead followed by the book (or books) that you want. I reserve the right to switch to another book if I find myself getting stuck during the read-a-thon, after all the point of this is to read as many books as possible right? For those of you wondering why Before I Fall is on there as it was supposed to be my current read, I got a little bored and had to switch to something else, but I am willing to try again. Anyway, have fun and choose some great books for me, please!

Armchair BEA: Social Media

So on this, day two of ABEA, we’re talking social media. Or at least I am anyway! I have had various forms of social media for a while, but I didn’t really use them for anything much than the usual thing, talking to friends on Facebook, following celebrites on Twitter and reblogging things I liked on Tumblr. I actually started posting my book reviews on Tumblr, and then one day decided that I wanted to try my hand about having a proper blog, so I found out that you could start one on wordpress, set up my blog and transferred all the posts I’d done on Tumblr over to here. So essentially this blog was kind of born out of social media, which is pretty cool.

Now that I’ve had my blog for a while, my blog is kind of my primary source of media, I guess, but I still use all the other stuff. I’ve found it incredibly helpful to publicise my blog through every social media outlet I have, which basically consists of Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr, because if I didn’t have them, there would be no way this blog would reach as many people as it had. I honestly wasn’t expecting many people to ever read my blog, I thought I would only get a couple of views if that, so to be in my second year and have had so many people look at my blog over the year and a bit I’ve been doing it feels incredible. I guess that’s the power of social media for you! I haven’t tried the whole vlogging thing on YouTube because being in front of a camera is not natural to me, and I really started my blog so I could write, not talk! I obviously follow a number of authors on Twitter and would like to follow more bloggers, in order to connect to this wonderful community more. I feel like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr have really helped me get my blog out there and I’m very grateful for that.

If you want to follow me on my social media (I won’t give out my Facebook as I only friend people who I actually know in real life) then you can find me at:

Twitter: @iloveheartlandX

Tumblr: iloveheartlandx

I’m pretty simple, I’m IloveheartlandX or some variation of that everywhere! Leave your social media links in the comments and I’ll follow you!