Guest Post: Bryony Pearce author of Savage Island

Very excitingly, today we are hosting Bryony Pearce as part of the Savage Island blog tour! ‘Savage Island’ has to be my favourite of all the Red Eye books. It’s so atypical in terms of setting and tropes but I LOVED that Bryony thought outside of the box and made geocaching something to fear! The whole book played on expectations and cliches, and even though I was biting my nails the whole way through, I loved every second of it!

Now onto Bryony talking about how the setting represents the interiority of the characters!

Interior world, exterior world

Savage Island has two settings: the ordinary world at home, which is revealed in the Prologue and through flashbacks, and the island itself.

I always intended the island to be more than a setting however; it is more like a character in its own right. The island helps the protagonists, offers refuge or protection (caves, trees, rocks, ravines) and has moods of its own (shown in the landscape, weather, wildlife and time of day).

Further, the island is a representation of the interior worlds of our protagonists, reflecting what is going on with them.

The first we know about the island is its location and name. It is an island in the Shetlands called Aikenhead. (Aikenhead does not, of course, exist, but it is based on existing islands in the archipelago).

The Shetlands are a part of the British-Isles, the most Northerly part, but separate from them, just as the island follows the rules of the normal world but is apart from them.

Aikenhead is a Scottish name (one reason for picking it as the name of my fictional island), but it is also a surname. The most famous Aikenhead is Thomas, a Scottish student from Edinburgh, who was executed for blasphemy at the age of twenty (he was the last person in Great Britain to be executed for this crime).

In my last blog post I spoke about how the story forms a battle between the id and the superego. Thomas is another link to this – the arguments that got him killed were what many in this century might consider logical:

The prisoner had repeatedly maintained, in conversation, that theology was a rhapsody of ill-invented nonsense, patched up partly of the moral doctrines of philosophers, and partly of poetical fictions and extravagant chimeras … That the Holy Scriptures were stuffed with such madness, nonsense, and contradictions, that he admired the stupidity of the world in being so long deluded by them.

So even the name of the island represents this battle between logic and instinct, what is right and what we want / need. It is also, more literally named after a young man who was killed. A victim.

Before they see the island, the teens are sent a description of it, so that they can prepare. From this they discover that it is mainly peat covered moorland dotted with rowan and birch copses.

The Celtic meaning of the Rowan tree is power, healing, protection and transformation. Similarly, in early Celtic mythology, the Birch came to symbolise renewal and purification. By telling the teams that the island is covered in Birch and Rowan, they are warned that something transformative is going to occur: they will not leave the island the same as they arrived.

The copses offer the team protection when they are hunted and they offer healing in the crutch that Lizzie uses when she is injured.

Birch trees are also associated with vision quests and this is what Ben has when he has his tooth extracted.

When they reach the Shetlands, the island is shrouded in mist: invisible. This is another hint that in going to Aikenhead, the team is going to leave their ordinary world, and enter another where the rules are going to be different.

On the island itself, the birds are its eyes, the animals its barometer.

Above us natural ramparts were completely covered in roosting birds; white streaks calcified the rock and bush-like nests protruded from every cranny. The noise was incredible: cawing and screeching, crying and jabbering – an unruly audience awaiting a show.

At night, when things get dire for the team the wildlife changes – from rabbits, sheep, seals, otters and seabirds to midges, owls, moths and bats – more irritating, more mysterious, more threatening.

During the daytime, at the start of the competition, the island is a beautiful place, sunlit, hopeful and inspiring. But even here, we find foreboding: trees deformed by the wind, the skua hunting the gull. As the sun sets, it transforms. Colours vanish, sounds alter, even the scents change.

We were almost out of the trees and the full moon had risen higher, casting shadows of its own. Twigs cracked underfoot and I noticed that the scents of the island had changed, become colder and fresher. The sounds around us had changed too. The gulls had gone, but now I could hear the buzz of bats’ wings and the distant hooting of owls.

Then there is the weather. As the team gets deeper into the island, as their experiences become more terrible, as their hope dies, the weather worsens: wild winds, storms, lashing rain. As they become more terrified, so their physical environment becomes more terrifying, until the climactic battle takes place on the island’s highest peak, during an epic storm, wherein the wind is as much a participant in the fight as anyone else.

I staggered sideways as a gust of wind hit us. Someone was bowled off their feet, there was a yell of surprise and someone else thudded into my leg, not quite knocking me over.

Curtis and the skinny boy had another cornered and the fourth was too far away, fighting the wind.

My head was pounding, blood was streaming from my nose, my eyes were swollen – definitely blackened – and the wind was screaming.

 

You get the sense, reading Savage Island, that the island itself is on the side of the protagonists. That there is some hidden Goddess beneath the surface who disapproves of what is happening; nature (Aikenhead) vs. human power (Gates); she sends as much help as she can.

 

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Maddie’s Star Rating Statistics 2017

I’m writing this post on December 3rd. On this day, I’ve read 205 books (so says my Goodreads challenge). Taking away the books I’ve read for university, reread from previous years and DNF’d (which I did for the first time this year!) I’ve read 126 books. 

Of those 126 books, I thought it would be interesting to go through and see if I can figure out anything about my star rating system. For all of you that love statistics, this post is for you! (and the others will just have to wait until tomorrow, mwhaha!)

Here’s how 126 books breaks down into star ratings, and click the images if you’re interested in our reviews:

⭐️
2 books

 I’m taking it as a really good sign that I only gave two books a one star rating this year because it means for the first time ever, I’m actually putting books down that I don’t care enough about to finish! Hopefully next year, I’ll have improved and be past even giving one star ratings but have bigger DNF list.

⭐️⭐️
21 books

This has become a much more common rating, as I’m really trying to make more differentiation in my 3 stars ratings (but we’ll get to that in a minute…) These are books that I wanted to keep going with, for the hope that they’d really wow me in the last fifty pages, despite losing hope the more pages I turned. There are still things to like in 2 star books, it’s just not…enough. Still, I’d definitely recommend these books to others hoping they’d like what I liked and more.

⭐️⭐️⭐️
57 Books

Oh, the three star rating. This is by far the most common because I can easily find things I like and don’t like so much. A three star rating doesn’t have to be the perfect balance between good and not great, but it feels like a category where books fall by default. I try and open every book assuming that it’ll be a three star read and if it does nothing to convince me it should get a lower or higher rating, I’ll leave it there.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
31 Books

There’s something really special about four star books for me. It’s a rating that means I had an absolutely wonderful time when I was reading and I fell in love with so many aspects of the book. Maybe it’s a rating that’s very influenced by my environment (or how many three star books in a row I’ve read before them!) It also means that if I reread the books, there’s the potential for them to increase to a five star rating if I can fall in love with them all over again.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
15 books

A five star rating is reserved for absolute favourites, books that I can see myself reading over and over again, books I wish I could read again for the first time, ones that make me laugh, cry or make me burst with any strong emotion. They’re the books I want to buy multiple copies of and shove into the hands of everyone I know. They’re the gems that remind me why I love reading and why I always will.

So, there you have it, there’s my star ratings break down for 2017 and a sneaky peak at two of my favourite books of the year! Look forward to Bee’s statistics coming soon. Let me know what the most common rating you’ve given this year and if you think you’ve read more 4-5 star books this year than the last! 

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Let’s Talk About The GoodReads Choice Awards!

The GoodReads Choice Awards have been going on for nine years. The only category I’ve voted in consistently since joining GoodReads in 2013 is the Best YA of the Year. I thought it would be fun to look back at all the previous years and see the winners, the voting numbers and whether it was a good indication of what YA people were reading that year.

2009
Winner – Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen – 547 votes
Runner Up – Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – 534 votes

As the first Goodreads Choice Awards, when the website was only two years old, these are some pretty good numbers for people reading YA. It’s also cool to know that these authors are both still writing eight years later, with many of Sarah Dessen’s later books making it to at least the first round of the challenge. Although I can’t speak for Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Dessen is definitely a staple of YA, especially when you’re first transitioning from middle grade.

2010
Winner – Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – 825 votes
Runner Up – Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter – 655 votes

It seems so weird that a fourth book in a series was the runner up for this category, seeing as all of the winners have been stand alones. You go Ally Carter! She was also working on Heist Society simultaneously so had two different series in the category before Sarah J Maas ever did. As for Before I Fall, this definitely sets the trend for the next two years, when books about death (in some way) come out on top. Everyone just loves a bit of morbid YA, apparently. (Also, the film came out this year and was surprisingly good, so well done Lauren Oliver for keeping this book relevant for seven years.)

2011
Winner – Where She Went by Gayle Forman – 4221 votes
Runner Up – Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – 3352 votes

Now we’ve moved into the era where YA books are getting thousands of votes. 2011 was the year TFIOS was published and when everyone started paying attention to this age group. The Year of The Spin-offs. I’m surprised that Lola is the first Stephanie Perkins book to make the final two, seeing as everyone on BookTube raved about Anna so much! As for Gayle Forman, is it just me, or has no-one really heard from her since I Was Here? What’s she doing now?

2012
Winner – The Fault in our Stars by John Green – 37438 votes
Runner Up – Easy by Tammara Webber – 8890 votes

Ah, John Green, the king of YA. Of course TFIOS was going to win, everyone saw that coming but 37,000 votes to 9,000?? Are you kidding me? The Nerdfighters were so strong this year, and probably did wonders for getting more people to use GoodReads. Also, has anyone heard of the runner up book? Me neither.

2013
Winner – Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – 21818 votes
Runner Up – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – 17124 votes

This is such a funny year. Rainbow Rowell’s biggest competition was herself! That’s the dream, right there. Personally, I prefer Fangirl, but this is iconic. 2013 will forever be remembered as the Year of the Rainbow. It’s also interesting that Eleanor and Park was blurbed as ‘For Fans of John Green’, so that probably had some sway over the 37,000 people from the year before…

2014
Winner –  We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – 33948 votes
Runner Up – Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – 20352 votes

Before I even looked at the results, I knew We Were Liars would be number one. This was the book that nobody would stop talking about and really proves the wonders of a good marketing campaign, particularly when it comes to getting BookTubers on board.

2015
Winner –  All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – 31978 votes
Runner Up – P.S I Still Love You by Jenny Han – 26274 votes

ATBP is marketed for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell. Basically, if a book gets compared to previous winners, or a John Green quote is on the cover, it’s bound to do well. Thinking about it, didn’t that happen with We Were Liars too? That man has a lot of power. I’m pleased to see a Jenny Han book in second, because although it’s my least favourite book in the series, it’s the first #OwnVoices, racially diverse book to make it to the top two and that shows a lot of promise. The gap between the two books is also super close. 2015 seemed like a good year for YA.

2016
Winner –  Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – 29122 votes
Runner Up – The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout – 20168 votes

I was really surprised by these top two, because Salt to the Sea feels very left-field compared to the rest of these books. It’s historical fiction for one, and very, very serious. Bordering on sad the whole way through. As for Jennifer L Armentrout, I knew she was big with the Lux series, but I didn’t really get a sense that this would be the second best book of the year. The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon and If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo also made it to the list, and they’re equally diverse and #OwnVoices, so I think it would have been cooler to see one of those in top spot!

Side note: Let’s appreciate that Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour got just under 150 votes in 2009, and The Unexpected Everything got 16,200. Talk about reaching a bigger audience!

2017
Winner – The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas – 59571 votes
Runner Up – Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – 52517 votes

This year’s winners was the biggest ‘of course’ moment of the year. It’s amazing that John Green’s book, which came out in October, mind you, managed to get so many votes when THUG has been on shelves since February. THUG has set a trend for social justice books, with POC protagonists and that’s something I’m really glad has come about this year. From the look of it, 2018 is going to be even better. Hopefully, next year’s nominations will be even more inclusive!

Of the 18 books that have been called the cream of the crop by GoodReads users, I’ve read 10. Maybe next year, I’ll try and read the other 8, as a time wrap into YA history. Overall, I’d say the winners get more and more expected, based on how much buzz the book has in the year. Apart from 2016 – that came out of nowhere.

We might have a look at the fantasy awards, but really, it’s just Suzanne Collins for two year, Veronica Roth for three (seriously, how did Allegiant win when literally everyone disliked the ending??) Cassandra Clare for one (I thought she’d won a lot more than that!) and Sarah J Maas for the most recent three years. We really need to diversify our fantasy reading as a community!

Let me know how you feel about the GoodReads Choice Awards! It’s good to remember that they’re very US publication oriented, but do you think the winners are a good representation of the year?

 

On Reading Less

I thought seeing as we’re coming to the end of another year filled with books, it was time to talk about something that we haven’t gone into detail about yet…how much we read.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 14.56.21Last year it was one of our goals to spend less time reading, which might sound crazy coming from two people whose whole lives are ALL about books. But we had good reason! We wanted to try and make writing more of a priority…except this didn’t really work out. We’re treating you to loads of stats this Blogmas, so here’s the breakdown of how many books we’ve read per year since starting a GoodReads account.

           |      BEE      |    MADDIE
2013 |       63        |         53
2014 |      143       |        139
2015 |      178       |        187
2016 |      231       |        240

We each somehow managed to read 60 more books in 2016 than 2015. Now that’s partly due to the ridiculously long summers you get at university, but most it’s because we procrastinated all other hobbies including writing. At the beginning of 2017 I really though we’d each read 300 books in a year, but looking back that’s absolutely crazy! Where would we have had to go from there? Finishing a book everyday? That’s just impractical.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 14.57.25It’s obvious that our plan to read less in 2016 didn’t work out, so when it came to making our resolutions for 2017, we decided to try again. And this year it’s worked. We’ve still read an awful lot, but the point it, it’s not as much as last year. At the end of 2016 we realised we didn’t feel as successful as we thought having read over 200 books, and that’s because we’d let ourselves down in other areas. So, even though I’ve read less his year (not by much, admittedly) I feel so much better for it, because unlike last year we actually finished the first draft of our co-written novel, which definitely wouldn’t have been possible if we’d tried to push for more reading.

Next year looks like it’s going to be even busier for us writing wise, so when it comes to setting my GoodReads goal, I think I’ll be aiming for 150. Hopefully, this will also force us to be a lot more selective when it comes to what we’re reading. We’ll talk more about the benefits of DNF’ing (something we started doing in 2017) at some point in the future, but already its lead to us enjoying a higher percentage of what we read, since in 2016, I’m pretty sure I gave majority 2.5 star ratings, and I’d much rather be finding more 4/5 star books instead.

This year we definitely had the realisation that it’s not how much  you read, but what you’re reading. We’d 100% recommend in 2018, letting go of the pressure to read lots of books, you might just find yourself reading more anyway.

 

 

No Reading in November?

It’s pretty obvious that our blog has been a little inactive this month. We’re two weeks into November and nothing bookish whatsoever has appeared! But, that’s all because of one thing: NaNoWriMo!

This month, Bee and I are both attempting to write 50,000 words of our current, individual YA projects. We’re almost on target for achieving the goal, and both have over 20,000 words down so far. It’s a big deal, and takes a lot of time that I’d usually spend reading out of my day, but it’s worth it.

We studying English Literature and Creative Writing at university. Writing essays and short pieces that fit our class briefs has become second nature to us, but it has meant we’ve sacrificed working on our own projects to do what’s demanded.

NaNoWriMo is so great because it gives you an excuse to make time for writing what you love, but in order to maintain our work schedules, we’ve had to sadly sacrifice reading as much as we’d like to in order to write.

And that’s not a bad thing. We’ll both have written whole novels by the time December rolls around! Speaking of which…

As per tradition, Bee and I will be participating in Blogmas. That means you can expect a post on Heart Full Of Books, every day for twenty five days, up until Christmas.We’re really excited to put time aside to give our blog some love, and anytime we’re not writing, reading for class or sleeping we plan to spend preparing to make this year’s Blogmas the best one yet!

If you’d like to check our progress on NaNoWriMo, check out our pages:
Maddie: here, and Bee: here!

If you want to see what we plan to read when NaNoWriMo is over and we can get back to the sweet world of books, check out our December TBR video!

Love, Maddie and Bee XOX

I’ll Never Grow Out of…Middle Grade?

At the beginning of the year, Bee and I posted a video on our channel called ‘Outgrowing YA?‘ in which we talked how the Young Adult genre isn’t something you can ‘grow out’ of, because that suggests the age of the audience of YA has a limit. Instead, you can ‘expand’ or ‘change’ your reading tastes, both words not holding the horrid connotations that reading YA is childish after you reach a certain age.

So, I’ve always thought that, regardless of age, you can read whatever books you like. If you’re 44 and love Percy Jackson, cool! If you’re 8 and love Jane Eyre, amazing! I’ll never try and stop someone reading what they love, not matter which section of a bookstore they’ve picked it up from.

But there is one person I’ve limited. Me.

And I’m a complete hypocrite because of it! For years I told myself I’d ‘grown out’ of Middle Grade, using the same phrase on myself that I tend to avoid! I stopped myself enjoying whatever Jacqueline Wilson has published in the last decade by saying that I’m too old to enjoy it. I read, and love, all of Cathy Cassidy’s books, but have to qualify it by saying that I owe it to my younger self to keep reading them.

To heck with my younger self! Nineteen year old me LOVES Middle Grade!

Why couldn’t I admit that? Why was it like a dirty secret?

If I preach that anyone can read anything, that sentiment needs to extend to me as well. I can read Rooftoppers. I can read The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not too old and the books aren’t too juvenile. In fact, the last twenty books I’ve read have been Middle Grade, and I haven’t had this much fun reading in a long time.

I think, by finally admitting that browsing the children’s section in my local library is my new favourite hobby, I’ve finally fully accepted my reading tastes, and what I enjoy. It no longer has to be something I hide from my Goodreads account, and it didn’t need to be in the first place.

Read what you want to read, regardless of age labels, everyone, because that’s what I’ll be doing from now on!

Waiting For The Right Moment To Read

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Every time a new book gets added to my TBR, I’m desperate to read it AT THAT SECOND. But, chances are, I’ve already got at least one book on the go and don’t want to divide my attention by reading it. Of course, if this is a book by Holly Smale, then I’ll pause whatever I’m doing (even if it’s sleep) and start reading straight away.

That’s an exception.

Most of the time, books on my TBR stay there for at least a month before I read them, because I’m waiting for the right time, and some may argue that there is no right time to read something. For me, there definitely is, and my example is: Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. 

I first picked this book up in 2008. I was 11. It was from my school’s library, and it was over 300 pages, which was longer than any book I was reading at that age. I started it immediately (because this was back in the days when I didn’t know that young adult fiction existed, let alone TBR piles).

I read 70 pages. I gave up.

This month, I only just finished it. Eight years later!! And, boy, am I glad I delayed reading it that long. Even when I was 11, I loved reading the ‘Acknowledgements’ pages of books. BUT, I accidentally flipped to the last page of the story instead, and spoiled the fates of Sephy and Callum forever. Over eight years, I’ve never been able to forget the ending, and I thought it was about time I found out how the characters got there.

It was a great book. Really, really great. Would I have understood how complexly it deals with race and terrorism eight years ago?

No.

I feel like, consciously or not, my 11-year-old self did my 18-year-old self a favour. It’s like she knew I won’t completely get it, so put it down because it was the wrong moment to read it. Now I’ve read it with a better understanding of the world and how unjust it is, I was able to better appreciate and love the book more.

So, I guess the moral of the story is, delay reading books for as long as you want. You never know, you might end up thanking yourself for it one day, because books have a tendency to have more impact if you read them when you’re actually ready for them!

2015: Reading Reflection

M  A  D  D  I  E

Total Number of Books Read: 191
Number of Books Re-read: 12
Number of Series Completed: 35
Favourite Reads: Solitaire by Alice Oseman, Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and Remix by Non Pratt
Favourite Series: Pivot Point by Kasie West, The Selection by Keira Cass, The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard
An Unexpected Favourite: Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins
Most Disappointing Read: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Smallest Book: Glitches and The Queen’s Army by Marissa Meyer
Largest Book: Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
Average Rating for Books: 3.3 stars

B  E  E

Total Number of Books Read: 178
Number of Books Re-read: 1
Number of Series Completed: 32
Favourite Reads: Solitaire by Alice Oseman, Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway, Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Favourite Series: Legend by Marie Lu, Top 8 by Katie Finn, The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
An Unexpected Favourite: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Most Disappointing Read: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas
Smallest Book: The Sleeper And The Spindle by Neil Gaiman
Largest Book: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas
Average Rating for Books: 2.9 stars

 

Setting: Boarding School Books

One of the main criteria for a book to be part of my favourites list is for it to be set in a boarding school. It’s my favourite setting to read about, probably because it’s so unusual, and on the surface, seems fun. Books set in boarding schools are usually fantasy or contemporary and I really like how the setting is so adaptable to any genre.
boarding school 1

The origin of my love comes from the Secrets at St. Jude’s series, My Sister Jodie and Ottoline Goes To School. Why all these books are purple, I don’t know. New Girl was about four friends navigating their teenage lives, Ottoline seeks to find her hidden talent and Jodie…well, she gets up to some mischief.

boarding school 2

Magical ones are normally the best. The School For Good and Evil is The Best, because it combines boarding schools and fairy tales, which is downright perfect for me. I always loved any section on the curriculum – it’s so different from anything I’ll ever get to do. I used to hate it in Harry Potter when he had to go and battle evil, because it took him away from studying.(That sounds super geeky, but if I got to study potion making and transfiguration, I wouldn’t leave the library!) A whole set of books from Hermione’s perspective would be absolute heaven! But Fearsome Dreamer’s main plot point isn’t about magic school. It’s about a technological revolution, BUT for fifty sweet, sweet pages, Rue and White are studying their powers together in a sort of boarding school, complete with Yule Ball-esque dance sequence. Seriously, if the setting only came up for a few pages in a book, I’d be pleased.

boarding school 3

So, I fangirl about boarding schools a lot. I think the epitome of this obsession, though, can be rooted to one book series in particular. The Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter. Six books of spy-socialite heaven. It’s become a dream of mine to write something in this setting, because I love it so much, and any research I had to do would be done willingly. What about you? Do you have a particular favourite when it comes to settings?154857-ml-1182951

Leigh Bardugo’s Writing Advice

When we met Leigh Bardugo at her Magic and Mayhem Book Tour for ‘Six Of Crows’, she answered a lot of questions about writing, the inspiration and the motivation behind it. Leigh gave some absolutely amazing pieces of advice. So, today, we thought we’d share what the best selling author of ‘Shadow and Bone‘ had to say about writing:

1. “There’s No Expiration Date On Your Talent”
This was the best thing she said. This is the best thing anyone has said.
Leigh talked a lot about how, when it comes to writing, it’s easy to put deadlines on yourself, and what you should be able to achieve at a certain age. There’s always the comment of ‘She’s doing so well for her age.” But, we should just scribble out the last half of that sentence. You’re always bright, you’re always talented, and there’s no limit to the amount of things you can achieve. Leigh said she didn’t start writing ‘Shadow and Bone’ until she was 35, and look where she is now. You don’t need to have a three-book publishing deal at 18. You can write whenever, without deadlines. 

2. “You Have To Love Them If You’re Going To Write Them”
Pretty easy, but if you don’t absolutely love the characters you’ve created and the world they’re living in, you’re not going to take the time to write them. It normally takes quite a while to write a book, (50K in a month is beautiful, but redrafting can take years!) So, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your characters. Make sure you won’t want to strangle them by the end of your manuscript.

3. “There’s No One Way To Write”
You do you, that’s perfectly fine. Apparently, one of the most popular questions authors get is to do with their writing process, but there’s something different for everybody. Leigh talked about how Laini Taylor loves to have every, tiny detail planned out before she writes, whereas she herself likes to have a looser idea of what’s going on.

4. “Go With The Muse”
When you’re feeling inspired: write. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a bargaining magic scene, if you feel the desire to write a kiss or a battle or a calm conversation over ice-cream, do it because inspiration doesn’t hit you everyday.

5. “Don’t Crush The Inner Critic”
When that little voice inside your head tells you something isn’t quite right, or that your writing is terrible (which I assure you, it isn’t!) listen to the voice. Agree with it. Qualify that this is only a first draft, and nothing is going to be perfect first time round! You can do anything, but you don’t need an enemy inside your head before you’ve even started.

6. “Nobody Writes A Good First Draft”
Normally, when you get stuck in the middle of writing, it’s easy to turn to all the beautiful books on your shelf and compare what’s on your Word document to what glued between those covers. That’s not fair. At all. What we see on the pages of our favourite novels is probably nowhere near what was written in the first draft. Everyone struggles, and everyone has setbacks. Comparing yourself to published works is only going to make you lose the fight before you’ve even picked up a sword.

7. “Write Terrible”
Sometimes, the only way to get a draft finished is to just write, no looking back. Leigh stressed that no one else has to see your first draft, that it’s 100% for you, so don’t be ashamed of what you think is sloppy or rushed or badly written. All that matters if you’re telling yourself the story first, before you try and tell it to other people. But, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to see the first draft of ‘Shadow and Bone’?

8. “Finish Your Draft”
Every time I’ve heard this piece of advice, I’ve thought ‘that’s obvious!’, but somehow, I’m yet to do it. It’s not enough to say you want to write, you actually have to do it. Who knew?

And there you have it, tiny pearls of wisdom from Leigh Bardugo! Keep writing everyone, and good luck with your drafts!