Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Before I move onto the main point of this post, I just want to give a link to my review of N.K. Jemisin's THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS.

I adored it and I'm recommending it to everyone. However, for anyone under sixteen, this review comes with a warning: there's some kinky sex stuff in here, therefore your parents may not approve (that never stopped ME from reading stuff when I was under sixteen, but I thought it best to mention).

Okay, onwards! Normally at this time of year I like to sit down and take a bit of time to think about the events of the past twelve months. I turn everything over in my head, all the good things and the bad, and try to figure out what I did right and wrong. In the past obviously this has been a private thing, but I thought this year I would share it with you and maybe stimulate you all to try doing the same thing.

  • January: Found out that I had won the 2009 Sasakawa Prize for Shadows on the Moon. I also found out that my job was under threat.
  • February: Started work on FrostFire (which was then called 'Wolves in the Wind', eugh).
  • March: Went to London and met with my editor, Annalie, and her boss, Gill, as well as lots of other splendid Walker Books people. Realised that everyone was really exited about Shadows and got rather excited myself. Talked about FF with my editor. Convinced her that the protagonist of FF should change to a girl, and got tentative approval of some contraversial details...
  • April: Lost my job. Wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Gill and Annalie rallied around with encouragement and advice.
  • May: Applied for a grant from The Royal Literary Fund on Gill's advice. Also applied for benefits for the first time in my life and thought that I would die of embarrassment because I used to WORK in that office, and everyone knew who I was. Hadn't had so many fingers pointed or so many people whispering about me behind their hands since school.
  • June: Started this blog! And my own YouTube Channel. Applied for every job I could find and frantically scribbled away on FF, achieving a target of 2000 words a day, six days a week, for six weeks.
  • July: Interviewed for several jobs, then found out that I was being awarded an amazingly generous grant from the RLF, and that they intended to pay off all my debts. Realised that I would now be able to be a full-time writer for the next TWO YEARS and went into a state of utter, incoherant bliss for about a week. Came up with brilliant idea of trying to turn FF into a two book series.
  • August: Finished first draft of FF. Gave myself two weeks off and read approximately thirty books, discovering Kelley Armstrong, Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan and Cassandra Clare. Was gently persuaded by editor that FF would not work as a two book series and got back to work on it.
  • September: Parted ways with former agent, with much sadness and regret. Went to London to present Shadows on the Moon at the Walker sales conference and was blown away by everyone's enthusiasm for the book. Found a new agent and melted with relief.
  • October: Revealed the cover of Shadows on the Moon and was delighted to find that everyone else loved it just as much as me. Finished another draft of FF. Completed copy-edits of Shadows.
  • November: Realised that the current version of FF was utter, complete, wretched nonsense. Wailed, ripped out hair, banged head on desk, then finally threw it out and started again from scratch. Went to London once more and met awesome bloggers at Walker Undercover event. Was snowed in for a full week and realised snow is only pretty when it's not melting in your boots.
  • December: Finished the penultimate draft of FF. Wrote sample chapter and synopses for Big Secret Project and sent them off to agent. Survived Christmas.

Looking at this list (which is only this complete because I had this blog for six months of the year and could check my facts) I cannot BELIEVE how much has happened this year. It's been twelve months of staggering highs and lows - the major lows being losing my job and leaving my agent. And yet the highs more than made up for those bad days: if I hadn't lost my job I would never have gotten the RLF grant and the chance to fulfil a lifelong dream and become a full-time writer. If I hadn't had to leave my old agent I would never have found my new one, who is awesomesauce.

On the whole I'd say that 2010 has been one of the most stressful, joyful and significant of my life. But what's really great is that I have this strange feeling that 2011 will be even better. So...

  1. I'd love to be able to stick to my 2000 words, six days a week regime. But slavishly adhering to that routine caused me to type my first draft directly onto my laptop instead of drafting with pen and paper first, and that wasn't a good thing. So what I'm going to set as a resolution is this: Write six days a week, using my notebook.
  2. I'm not a very consistent writer. One book took me six months to write while I was working in an office full-time. Another book took eighteen months when I was doing my office work part-time. I'm not sure why this is, but now that I have this chance to be full-time as a writer, I'd like to increase my productivity and my consistency, so I'm setting myself a challenging target. I might not be able to do it, but I do want to try: Write two books in 2011. 
  3. I'm really proud of the fact that I've managed to blog three times a week every week this year. It hasn't always been easy! But I've been rewarded with some amazing blog followers. I'd like to keep doing that AND I'd like to vlog more as well, because I think that's a good way of enriching the blog for all of you. So: Carry on blogging three times a week, and try to vlog once a month.
  4. Finally, a goal that I can't really control myself, making this more like a wish than any kind of a resolution. In 2011 I really hope that Shadows on the Moon lives up to everyone's expectations (including mine). I love this book and believe in it, and so do my publisher, but I'm aware that this isn't always enough when you're not a big name with a big marketing and PR budget. My final goal is: Do all I can to promote Shadows so that it gets into the right hands, gets the right reviews or award nominations, catches the imagination of the people who will enjoy it, and finds its place in the market.
Phew, that was a long one! What are your New Year's Goals, folks?


meghaz said...

Very well thought out, Zoe. I'm sure that I WILL be reading Shadows, even if no one else does.

I hope you can keep your resolutions, and I hope I can keep mine.

Writing two books this year? It's a challenge, but really, I would love that because I love your writing.

Have a great year this year!

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks Megha!

Isabel said...

Wow, what a year you had, Zoë! This year is definitely going to be full of adjustments and ups and downs for me. (Changing schools.)

It's not really in my control, but since I'm applying out for middle school, I hope that I'll get into some good schools. I also hope this book is gonna work out. That's one of my goals. I also want to do well in school.

I don't know if I'd be able to make that month thing, but I got great grades last year (talking about 5th grade) and had a great teacher. I had a great start to sixth grade, and I took a few standardized tests and got fabulous scores. Plus, I started the book I'm working on now. With every new book I start, I get considerably better. I just keep getting better and better, which is a very good sign, plus it makes me so proud of myself. It's so great to know the progress I'm making. A lot of my growing skill is because of reading all of these fabulous new books, and finding out super cool authors. They teach me new styles and techniques, helping me hone my own writing skills and the way I word build. Really, 2010 was the year when I think I discovered the most amazing books and writers ever. I was overwhelmed with them all. I hope and believe that 2011 will be the same. Yes, your books and your blog are included in my fabulous discoveries of 2010.

Have a great year, everyone!

Zoë Marriott said...

Good luck with your middle school applications, Isabel. I'm sure you'll have a great year.

Megha said...

I'll be going to high school this year. I recently (on the 4th, actually) took entrance exams for a grammar school. I hope I passed.

What I'm NOT looking forward to is that if I get into that grammar school, it'll take me about one hour to get there. I hate London buses.

Zoë Marriott said...

Fingers crossed for you, Megha. I know how you feel about buses, but remember that once you've been taking the route for a little while it'll get so familiar that you can read and even write during that hour. Pop your headphones in and it can be quite peaceful. That's what I used to do.

Nara said...

Megha and Isabel - I've been in high school for two years, and it's great. Well, not great great, like schools are never great great, but there are loads of opportunities and the work is okay - not too hard until GCSE's. Of course it depends which school you go to. In Wales there are no Grammar Schools, just elementary schools (it doesn't mean that there aren't any smart kids in Wales, just that we all go to the same elementary schools)

Anyway, good luck!

Zoe - Wow, what a year! I hope that Shadows on the Moon will be popular - I'll definitely buy it. In fact, I've been waiting all year (I mean it's only been six days, but you know, the year before that!)

I plan to finish my story this year, and I will also try to experiment with new writing such as poetry and scripts. And of course, I want to find a way to get past all this schoolwork to do it!

Nara said...

Ha, I just contradicted myself. I mean, I need to find a balance between work and writing. Megha and Isabel, ignore my last line in the first post.

Isabel said...

Megha: High school?? I thought you said you were eleven!

Well, good luck, anyway. I don't have an ipod or a cellphone or a personal laptop or any of that stuff. I'll get a cellphone next year for seventh grade, but i still won't be allowed to text. :( My parents are strict about these things. I wish I had an ipod - I love music. My favorite musical genres are Pop, Hiphop, and Rap. I love Lady Gaga, Eminem, and Lil Wayne. Well, I don't like Eminem and Lil Wayne as people, but their music. Lil Wayne is a complete creepo. I love pretty much all rappers. And a bunch of other singers. (Like Beyonce, etc. Madonna too!) What do you guys like? Zoë? My favorite song right now is "No Love". (Eminem and Lil Wayne) Sorry for getting so off-topic! I know you like Eminem and Lil Wayne, Nattasha! And some Bob Marley too! I like your taste. :) (I mean, I'm not a huge fan of Bob Marley, but it's cool that you like all sorts of stuff.)

Zoë Marriott said...

Nara: Good luck on finding that balance, and happy new year.

Isabel: in the UK kids go to primary school from 5-11 and then enter upper or secondary school from 11-12.

The music question deserves a post of its own, I reckon. I'll look into doing that next week.

Isabel said...

Yay!!! I can't *wait* for that post! Thanks, Zoë! Maybe we like some of the same artists!

Megha said...

Zoe: You know your FrostFire playlist? I have made my own playlist with all those songs (so it's not really my own, I guess), and I must say I love your choice of music! I especially like Cut by Plumb and My Hands by Leona Lewis.

I'm going to make my own writing playlist for whenever I write. HOWEVER, my mp3 keeps falling off my left ear (shut up, it's just small, okay?) so I have to press really hard to keep it there. And then, as soon as I move, it falls off again.

I totally love reading in the car or bus!

Zoë Marriott said...

Jolly good, Megha. I'm pretty sure you're going to like Friday's post...

batgirl said...

I may have linked to this before, but now that you've read the book - N K Jemisin's thoughts about writing race:

Zoë Marriott said...

Oh, thank you, thank you! You DID link to it before and I found it *so* helpful. When I read THK I was sure the author must be the same person and desperately wanted to re-read the article, but I couldn't find the link. Hurrah!

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