New Website, Portfolio, and Giveaway!

by Diana Sousa
The new logo

So… you’re saying it’s been almost an year since my last post, huh? Well, I… hmm…

OH LOOK a shiny new website!!

I suppose I could say a lot has changed since my last post. At least I hope so, although I suspect the truth might be a bit different. But for now I’d like to focus on the revamp of the website! I felt like it was time for a new look. I’ve also updated the information on several of the pages, and added two new ones:

– The Extras have links that I find important and worth sharing, whether they are writing or book related, or about other things. This is a growing collection and there will be new links every week, or any time that I see something that I’d like to save and to share with the readers of this website;

– The Portfolio has my design and illustration work. Now that I’ve finished university I’ve been doing some projects in and out of the writing community and it’s something I really appreciate doing. If you want to check out my latest projects they’re just a click away!

The sidebar has also been renovated, and below my logo is a quote that changes every time you refresh or change page! (Come on, you can try it. Fancy, huh? It’s a kind of magic) Just details to make this a bit more homey. I would have given you all cookies, but I’m afraid I’ve eaten them all myself. Oops!

I also intend on using this blog more, I promise! I have some ideas and projects in development that might do just that. But until then, and to celebrate the new website look, I’m doing a giveaway to thank you! I’m giving away a character illustration (like this or this) or a simple illustration of your choosing. It’s a small gift, but hopefully you’ll like it!

Thank you for reading and best wishes! Aim to misbehave.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

An Unexpected Journey

by Diana Sousa
Books, by Zhen Yang

It was almost a year ago that I started to actually dedicate myself to trying to publish a book. Since then I have read so many articles on writing, queried so many great agents, met so many excellent people… I discovered a great community, gotten amazing feedback and support. Two years ago I would never have guessed any of this.

I finished writing and revising a book, started another one, decided to take a break on that one, and I’m now researching for a completely new one. If it wasn’t for college I’d probably have done more in this area. But it’s my last year, and in a bit more than six months I’ll be free and part of the statistic of unemployment… so, yay? (I’m actually looking forward to this one, I need time to focus on some of my own projects.)

I started working on Edwardian Promenade in January, on Lytherus in August, and started my internship with Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron & Associates in September. I’ve read so many amaaazing manuscripts because of this last one, learned so much while editing, reading queries, what works, what doesn’t… And yet I still wonder why anyone would want my opinion on any of this.

(I’ve also learned how hard it is to say no sometimes, because even though there might not be anything wrong with the book, it just isn’t the right one. It has given me a new perspective on the query responses I’ve gotten.)

I have read less books than I wanted, less comics and graphic novels, I haven’t drawn near as much I’d like to, but I have still procrastinated and wasted time when I should be working. But that’s the same as it has always been.

Overall it’s been a good year. I need to remind myself of that sometimes. I don’t want to be soppy (I need to maintain my image of evil, after all), but it’s true. Let’s hope 2014 is even bigger and better. It’s going to be different, I know that. And scarier. But doesn’t that make it more interesting?

(At least I hope so. I’m overly optimistic today, must be the lack of sleep.)

Maybe I should go back to work now. Yes, stop this silly procrastination nonsense. Yes… *goes back to playing video games*

P.S.: One of the things that’s going to happen in January are the results of PitchWars! I was chosen to be part of Team Michelle (or Team Mostly Harmless, how great is that?), but I’ll do a more in-depth post about that then. Wish me luck!

NaNoWriMo and Deadlines

by Diana Sousa
As Msyterious As A Cat by AbelPhe

What have I been up to, you ask? Oh, you didn’t? Well, you could leave me to talk to myself then… or maybe stick around and see if I have something interesting to say. I probably don’t, though. Just some crazy ramblings about stuff and things.

So… where was I?

The first time I did NaNoWriMo was in 2007. 6 years ago. And although that first time didn’t go very well, the ones that followed did. I was finally getting things done, instead of dragging on and on during several months and then never actually finishing everything. I learnt that I worked better on a deadline, or at least with some kind of goal in mind. This system worked for several years… until I got into university.

As many of you know, university is already pressure enough. Besides, in November I always have several projects to develop and finish, so starting a novel during this month is nothing short of crazy. NaNoWriMo has the worst timing, and yet I can’t resist trying it every year, even if my goal isn’t 50k words.

Because, you see, during those months that it actually went well, when I actually had time, I learnt how to work. How to keep writing, how to use the time you have, how to ignore your inner editor (ahah, liar liar pants on fire, I’ll never be able to do that), and I applied all that to writing in general. Not just in November, but over the whole year. I started Sincerely Yours, the Villain in November, didn’t get anywhere near fifty thousand words, but I still finished it eventually. I didn’t give up, even when I thought it was worthy only of fire.

I suppose what I mean is: although NaNo doesn’t work for everyone, or perhaps it does and you just don’t have time, it has the potential to help you get something done. Maybe it’s the deadline, the pressure, the community (and my group of writers is crazy and amazing), but at least for me it was a great way to learn that I could do it.

But that’s the easy part. Now I have to actually write this manuscript. The motivation is there, I just need time. Or a time turner, that would surely help. I have even outlined the book (well, some of it) and I’m usually a pantser! Let’s see how this goes.

Apart from that I have recently been working as an intern for Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron & Associates, and it’s been amazing. I’ve had the opportunity to read some great manuscripts, and although I can’t exactly tell you about that, I think I’ll make a post about it in the near future. It has been a very interesting experience.

So good luck to those of you doing NaNo, don’t go insane!

On Moving On To New Projects

by Diana Sousa
Paper Thoughts by Julia Davis

What have I been doing over the past weeks, you ask? Summer holidays should mean I have all the time in the world to do whatever I want, to make those plans happen and be… productive! Truth is I have been procrastinating more than I should, but I think I needed it. I had a break to catch up on TV shows, to draw and play some games, to do quiet things while recovering from a long year. But this blog post is not about that.

This week I attended an online writer’s conference, Write On Con. It was amazing, I met some great people, and received a lot of positive feedback (two Ninja Agents commented on my manuscript, and my query got requested live!). I recommend it to every writer, and can’t wait for the next conference (which I’m sure will be even better). Here’s Day One and Day Two for those who missed it.

It feels really good to be part of this community, and the overall experience made me think about how I perceived myself as a writer. Just one week ago this blog post was going to be about how I felt ready to move on to other projects, but how at the same time I felt a bit wary of starting another manuscript. SINCERELY YOURS, THE VILLAIN has been getting better feedback that I could have ever hoped for, and I’m not giving up on it. But I can’t get stuck on a single project. The idea of starting a whole new thing from scratch seems scary, but now I finally have the motivation to do so.

So, yes! I’m going back to more familiar grounds, and I’m now planning and outlining a new Sci-Fi manuscript. I’m a mixture of plotter and pantser, and although I can’t throw myself head first without any plans, I can’t outline everything to exhaustion either. I’ve been doing some research, and who knows, maybe in the next days I will actually open Word and WRITE! It’s going to have spaceships,  aliens, conspiracies, and a Battlestar Galactica-ish feeling that I’ve been wanting to explore for a long time.

Motivation feels good. I’ll admit I’m using this blog post to push myself further, and by putting this new project out there it makes it more real. Maybe I’ll finally stop wandering about and start putting words into paper. The unknown is scary, but if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be worth exploring. I will never know until I try it.

To infinity and beyond!

The Writer’s Voice Entry

by Diana Sousa

Hello everyone!

This is my entry for The Writer’s Voice contest, which is hosted by Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.), Monica B. W. of Love YA, and Brenda Drake of Brenda Drake Writes. I would like to thank them for hosting this contest, and also so many other contests in the past.

Withour further ado here is my query and the first 250 words of my manuscript.


The Query

The twentieth century is but a few years old. Helen Hawke thinks that it is about time Detective Wilson Adkins starts to take her seriously and accepts her as his young assistant. Staying behind a desk is not something she can endure much longer.

But before she even gets to celebrate her first successful case, a mysterious letter arrives addressed to detective Adkins, and its contents could not be more intriguing. A stranger invites the detective not for a tea party or a conversation over dinner, but to watch him turn a small English village into chaos. Perhaps even kill people. It’s a game, this stranger says, and warns him that he will not be able to stop him. He’s welcome to try, nevertheless.

Mr Adkins claims he has no idea why this person would choose a small-time detective like himself. Yet Helen suspects that might not be the whole truth. As Helen is thrown into a world of almost constant worry and danger, she starts to find that the person she trusts the most might not be exactly who he says he is.

The time to prove herself has arrived, as she wished for so long. But will she regret it?

SINCERELY YOURS, THE VILLAIN, an YA Historical Mystery, is 54,000 words long.

250 Words – Sincerely Yours, the Villain

The cold welcomed me with open arms as soon as I opened the doors. I buried my face deeper in my scarf. I did not want to be ungrateful, but I had just woken up and traces of my warm bed still lingered on me. Only then, with a deep breath to gather my courage, did I throw myself into the awakening streets.

I did not even like getting up so soon, but it was becoming more and more common, now that I spent my days with the detective. I used to tell him I was still young, and therefore I had to take advantage of the reputation that I spent all morning in bed and the whole afternoon doing nothing. He then would answer that he was old enough to spend his days comfortable in an armchair, smoking a pipe and reading a classic novel. However, he did not. Everyone had to compromise.

Given that I had to walk to his house, instead of taking a carriage, it meant I would arrive already awake and ready to work. The cold would take care of that even if I did not want to. It also meant I would have the opportunity to observe people in their natural habitat, as he was always telling me to do. Not that I had the chance to do that spending the whole day closed in his office, but he still believed I was not ready to go help him with his work cases. (…)

Thank you for reading!

A Confession

by Diana Sousa
Bluebird Singing in the Dead of Night…
I have to admit that blogs might not be my thing. I do like to make the occasional post, but they will probably be so far apart that I don’t know if this actually deserve to be called a “blog”. And besides, who wants to read my ramblings anyway, right?

…Well, I’ll assume you want to. Or might be interested in doing so (proceed with caution, though). So I have finally surrendered to Twitter, after all these years. I do want to take writing seriously, and if this helps me get there, so be it. I’ll call it an adventure!

This doesn’t mean I’ll stop posting here. I will blog, but I can’t promise a post a week (not with college work raining down on me). So you can find me here, where I’ll try to make reasonably interesting posts.

And by that I mean crazy ramblings, of course. That’s much more fun.

From Research to Procrastination

by Diana Sousa
“Emile Verhaeren” by Theo Van Rysselberghe

The manuscript I’m working on now is set in the first decade of the 20th century in England. Although I had a reasonable knowledge of the Regency and Victorian eras, from books, movies and TV adaptations, I knew that that would not be enough. And besides, there were subtle but important differences between the Victorian and the Edwardian era that I had to consider.

First, for those who may not know, the Edwardian Era is the period between 1901 and 1914, correspondent to the reign of King Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s son. Subtle changes begin to appear: cars, electricity, phonographs, liberal political parties, women fighting for their rights (gasp!)… Even so, it was still a time of great social discrepancies. While the elite was represented by a King who loved luxury, elegance, travelling, and just simply spending money, the people were poorer and poorer. But change was afoot.

See, I totally did my homework.

But I had to be sure I wouldn’t be talking about a car that would only be sold 10 years later from my story’s timeline. And, since my character would have to step into the aristocracy’s world somewhere in the book, I had to know the rules. The difference between an Earl and a Viscount, and how to address them. The order of how they sat at a dinner party. These may not seem like important things for us, but for the ruling class it was a must know for everyone that wanted to be a respectable person.

So I spent enormous amounts of time just… researching. Reading books, websites, speaking with people who had studied the era, taking notes and learning about things that I knew perfectly well that I would not need to write about. I admit that at some point it may have become a form of procrastination… just delaying the start of the book “because I had to know if it was legal for my character to show an ankle or if she would be hanged for it.” (She wouldn’t, by the way, but it would be scandalous enough).By the time I actually started writing, I was sure that if by any chance I time traveled to the Edwardian Era I would fit as a glove. If I survived inside a corset and a dress, that is.

What about your experience? I loved it, but I always liked to study History. As I normally write fantasy or science fiction, I don’t need to research as deeply as I did this time. I have to write more period dramas to have the excuse to research more.