Friday, 31 December 2010

Friday Five: Five Reasons To Be Grateful

As we come to the end of 2010, I find I have so many reasons to be grateful. The most important reason is that my family and friends are well, and those that are working are still in employment. I don't think I could find anything else more important than knowing they are all safe and happy.

But 2010 has also been an amazing year for my writing dreams. Here is my top five, in chronological order:

1. In March my short story, Second Chances, was published in the 100 Stories for Haiti anthology. It was my first anthology publication and, since then, I've had 20 stories published and accepted into 17 anthologies. I would like to thank the following editors, who without their belief in my writing, I would not have been published:

Greg McQueen for 100 Stories for Haiti.
Jessy Marie Roberts at Pill Hill Press.
Chris Bartholomew at Static Movement.
Robert McEvily at Six Sentences.

2. In May I started my first blog and it has been one of the most satisfying elements of 2010. I never dreamt I could find so much fun and enjoyment, not to mention meeting new, I hope, lifelong friends. To all the bloggers who have stopped by and helped to motivate and inspire me to continue writing, I thank you. I would like to mention a few bloggers in particular, who really have shown themselves to be caring individuals:

Madeleine at Scribble and Edit.
Jeremy at iZombie.
Dominic de Mattos at Writes of Passage.

To all my readers and those I follow; if I haven't stopped by your blog enough this year, I apologise. I will try to do better in 2011.

3. In July I attended my first film convention and met my childhood idol, William Shatner. Who am I kidding? I still idolise him at 38 years of age. Strictly speaking, this is not a writing dream. However, I'm a sci-fi kind of gal!

4. In September I earned my first money as a writer, when Yours published my short story, Counting the Pennies. Even though I have since decided I do not want to write fiction for magazines, I am still proud that I achieved one of my 2010 writing goals.

5. In November I completed NaNoWriMo and in the process wrote 50,000 words of my sci-fi novel, Dreaming of Sleep. My 2011 goal is to complete it and get it to a standard fit for submission.

There are so many more, but if I attempted to list them all this blog post would take too long to read. All that is left now is to wish everyone a Happy New Year. And as Spock would say, 'Live long and Prosper'.


Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Looking Backward and Forward


New Year Resolutions; you've probably made and broken more than you can remember. They are usually about stopping something - you will not eat sweets or you will give up smoking - and when three weeks into January you break your promises, you chastise yourself and give up.


Sometimes your resolutions will be positive, but often they are also unrealistic. Then, when you break your resolutions, you decide you will never succeed and give up trying at all. My answer to all of this is don't make New Year resolutions. Instead try something I started two years ago and have found to be a much greater influence on my path to writing success (feel free to apply this to non-writing aspects of your life as well).

The first stage is to write a letter or journal entry to yourself during the last week of the year. In this letter you will do two things: evaluate your successes and failures over the last 12 months and decide what your writing ambitions are for the year ahead.

Celebrate what has gone right for you. Then look at what didn't go the way you planned it, but (and this is very important) don't beat yourself up over it. Instead try to turn any failures into a positive. Why did it not go right? What have you learnt about yourself? What lessons can you apply to next year?

The next stage of the letter is to decide what your new writing goals will be. It is okay to aim high but be realistic. In my letter last year I aimed to submit and be published in short story anthologies. I also said I would begin writing my novel. I didn't say, I will write and submit my novel, begin the second and third, and start several screenplays. Also, I'll give up work and write full time. Push up the bar but not so high you'll never get over it.

Once the first stage is complete, print the letter and seal it an envelope. If you're keeping it on your hard drive, file it away where you'll not see it every time you use your computer. This is important because you are not going to re-read it until the last week of following year. It will be there at the back of your mind, a kind of subconscious stick driving you to succeed. But you won't keep re-reading it and then punishing yourself for not sticking to your goals resolutely.

The second stage will come at the end of the New Year, when you will rip open that envelope, or double-click on the file, and re-read your writing ambitions. You will use this letter to begin the process again - evaluate, celebrate, learn, and plan ahead. You'll be surprised at just how much you achieved over the last 12 months. The important part here is that you gave yourself 12 months not the first few weeks of the year.

This method might not be to everybody's liking - you may be the type of person for whom New Year resolutions work. But I've found this technique to be cathartic and invaluable for motivating me to carry on and never give up my writing dreams. It really does work.

Have you used this technique or do you make New Year resolutions? Did either method work? Is there another way of starting the New Year you would like to share with us?

Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas to all my blogger friends; may the festive season be filled with merriment and fond memories. I'll be back next Wednesday, but starting tomorrow is my alternate version of The Twelve Days of Christmas. See you next week!


Friday, 17 December 2010

Friday Five: Writing Challenges for 2011

Here are five writing challenges to inspire you in 2011:

1) Write 1 Sub 1. Milo Fowler and Simon Kewin have come up with the perfect writing challenge for 2011 - 52 submissions in 52 weeks. I was going to dedicate a whole post to this one, but Madeleine at Scribble and Edit has already done an excellent job of explaining it. Thank you, Madeleine.

2) The First Line (or TFL) is a quarterly literary journal that gives you the first line of a story and challenges you write the rest. Stories should be 300 - 3000 words in length. Here are the 2011 first lines and submission dates:

  • Sam was a local employee. Due 1st February.
  • "We need to talk." Due 1st May.
  • Edwin spotted them the moment he stepped off the train. Due 1st August.
  • It had been a long year. Due 1st November.

3) Elena Solodow at 'You're Write. Except when you're rong' is hosting a 100 words for $100 dollars challenge from the 1st to 31st January. The objective is to write a 100-word sentence (one semi-colon allowed) and post it between the dates given. Read the full details here.

4) Have you ever wanted to parody a horror cliché? Well, now you can. Pill Hill Press are looking for submissions to their It Was a Dark and Stormy Night horror anthology. Here's what they are looking for:

'We are not looking for cliché stories here; we are looking for funny-on-purpose parodies of them. That old zombie or vampire or werewolf story you haven’t been able to get published because it had overused themes won’t cut it. Now…make me laugh, cackle, chuckle, giggle, and snort!'

Read the full details here.

5) Summer Ross at My Inner Fairy is hosting the New Creation Blogfest on the 5th January, to celebrate her 29th birthday. To enter, post the last sentence from one of your 2010 stories and the first line to a new story. This looks like it will be a fun challenge. Read the full details here.

That is it for today's Friday Five. I hope you found something here to challenge you in 2011.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Organizations as Villians

Today I have the honour of introducing a guest post by author Stephen Tremp. Yesterday I visited his blog and talked about using villains to create conflict, as part of his Home and Away blog tour. Today Stephen talks about organizations as villains.


Villains do not have to be people per se. They can be organizations like governments, corporations, law firms, Wall Street, organized crime, and science, although individuals within the organization need to be the ones making the nefarious decisions. Organizations make great villains! Just think of the resources they have at their disposal. Money. Power. Secretive Research and Development. They recruit some of the best minds in the world. They have ambition and are motivated by greed, fear, and expansion. They can hide behind a veil of secrecy. The bribe public officials. They can bury opponents and enemies in a landslide of attorneys and tons of paperwork.

Governments and their intelligence agencies can conspire to cover up truths, such as knowledge of aliens in the TV series the X-Files. Secret societies and New World Orders enslave mankind while destroying democracy and freewill. In George Orwell’s 1984 is set in perpetual war, public mind control, and spying and surveillance. In a more humorous note, remember KAOS from the TV series Get Smart? They were an international organization of evil during the Cold War bent on word takeover.

Corporations and industries also make for deviant villains. Movies like The Fugitive and Avatar have greedy institutions, or individuals using these organizations as a front, as the central character. Corporations can pollute the environment causing innocent people to become sick and die ala Erin Brokovich (Julia Roberts) and A Civil Action (John Travolta). Joseph Finder, author of Killer Instinct, Paranoia, Company Man use a corporate setting. I’ve read all three of these books and recommend them all.

Wall Street has no shortage of bad guys. Who can forget Gordon Gecko saying, “Greed is good.” I recommend renting Barbarians At The Gate (James Garner), a true story of that follows the actual takeover of the RJR Nabisco empire in a tongue in cheek way. Some stories will incorporate capitalism or capitalists as the villain.

Law Firms can make for a formidable foe. In the book and movie The Firm, the protagonist is recruited and seduced by the money and gifts showered on him, while being totally oblivious to the more sinister side of his company. Their MO is to suck you in, get you used to the lifestyle, kids in private school … before you know it you are committing crimes. Good luck getting out.

Organized Crime stories like The Godfather, The Sopranos, and Payback make for great movies. Good Fellas and Casino were great movies based on real life people and events. Organized Crime could be a series of posts all its own.

Science. Where do we begin? Physics, nanotechnology, biology, and anything that is genetically modified makes for a great backdrop. Countless books and movies are based on technology gone too far. Science run amok. My book Breakthrough focuses on this premise. Many people today are more than concerned about the boundaries science is pushing. Even the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has been accused of creating mini black holes that could eventually swallow up our planet earth. The inspiration for science-based stories are endless.

Okay, speaking of science, I promised Ellie I would somehow include something regarding Dr. Brian Cox, a Royal Society University Research Fellow based in the Particle Physics group at the University of Manchester, where he holds a chair in Particle Physics. He works on the ATLAS experiment at CERN in Geneva. I thought I would end this post on a humorous post with this YouTube Clip .



Stephen Tremp blogs at Breakthrough Blogs and is author of the Near Future SciFi Thriller Breakthrough.

If you feel this blog is worthy, go ahead and make my day. Retweet it.





Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Guest Post at Breakthrough Blogs


Hello everyone. Today I am a guest over at Stephen Tremp's Breakthrough Blogs, as part of his Home and Away blog tour. I will be talking about how you shouldn't avoid conflict in your writing, and how to use villains to create it. Stephen will be returning the favour and appearing here tomorrow. Please drop by and have a read.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Through the Keyhole Blogfest Results


Last Monday, I took part in Madeleine’s Through the Keyhole Blogfest and posted a brief scene that described a character’s living space. Quite a few of you had a guess as to who the person may have been and most of you were thinking along the right lines - you decided it was probably set in the future and that the person was in some way connected to a machine, or even the machine itself.

The blogger who correctly guessed the room belonged to the main character from my NaNoWriMo novel, Dreaming of Sleep, was Margo Benson. Well done, Margo. You have won the winner’s key, provided by Madeleine.

Dreaming of Sleep’s Myron is trapped two thousand years in the future, after his time travel mission goes wrong. He lives in a government assigned pod, which is sparsely furnished and serves one important function – it ensures Myron is connected to the worldwide information hub for at least 18 hours a day. Paper-based products no longer exist and personal possessions are frowned upon. Sleep is illegal and the penality for breaking the law severe.

I really had fun with this blogfest. Thank you to Madeleine and everyone who took a guess.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Friday Five: Secret Christmas Wish Lists


Do you secretly wish for something every Christmas but you’ve always been to embarrassed to ask anyone? Well now is your chance; if you feel brave enough. Share those gifts you’d like to receive but probably never will, because friends and family would never let you forget them.

Here are five of mine:

The entire Barry Manilow back catalogue and membership to his fan club. I want to be a Fanilow!

A teasmaid. You remember, the clock that also made you a fresh cup of brew in the mornings. I think they were last seen in the 1970s, along with our metallic green Ford Cortina.

A shopper trolley. I would look like an old lady but it would make carrying the shopping home a lot easier.

Technically this is not a gift, but I’ve always wondered what happened to the boy I sat next to in Primary School. His name was Rory and he would suck the ink out of his fountain pen every day during class; there was always an ink stain around his mouth by the time he went home. He lived at the bottom of my road and was the first boy who tried to kiss me. I was mortified and ran home. I’ve often wondered what happened to him.

A Space Camp uniform and patch. As a child I wanted to go to Space Camp, and if I owned a uniform I could pretend I did.

What are your secret wishes and will this be the year you finally pluck up the courage to ask for them? (Please feel free to use the image above on your blog)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

What are your writing fantasies?

Everyone has writing dreams. If you are just starting out it could be something as simple as being published for the first time or if you've written a novel, to find an agent and be offered a book-deal. It may be you want to give up the day job and earn a living through your writing. Or you could just be looking to continue enjoying your writing as a hobby. But I'm not talking about your dreams; I'm talking about your fantasies. The certain something that seems like you would need the planets to realign and a cosmic influence to make it happen. In fact, you're convinced you stand a greater chance of winning the Lottery and you don't even play.

Here is mine:

My short story Why Do Aliens Love Iowa? is published in Tribute to the Stars in early 2011. As the tribute actor, William Shatner is sent a copy. He loves it and decides to make a movie of it; the idea is that strong. He contacts Steven Spielberg and asks him to read it. Spielberg loves it too. Soon after I get a call from Shatner offering to buy the movie rights, but there's a catch - they want me to do the screenplay. My answer is yes and several days later I'm flying to LA to begin work on it. The movie comes out the summer of 2012 and it's a blockbuster. We all live happily ever after.


Okay. I live in the real world and I know my fantasy is just that - a fantasy. But it makes my dreams seem all the more possible. I have been published and I have started work on my novel. First-time novelists do get offered book deals. It can happen and I have faith it will happen to me, eventually. Believe in your dreams, and with hard work and sometimes luck, they can come true. After all, someone has to win the Lottery.

Do you have a writing fantasy? How is it different to your writing dreams and does it influence them?

Monday, 6 December 2010

Through the Keyhole Blogfest

The gorgeous and talented Madeleine is hosting the Through the Keyhole Blogfest until the 11th December. Here is what you need to do, in her words:

"Describe someone's living space in no more than 500 words so that we can vividly imagine the absent person. Then guess from the descriptions posted the type of person who might live in a room like this.It could be a policeman, assylum seeker, a housewife, an author, a foster child, a Vicar who likes DIY, an axe murder (!) anyone you like, really, but not anyone famous."

Visit her blog for full rules and linkey.

Here is my entry, which I have to admit was not written specifically for this blogfest. But I really wanted to take part and I'm hoping it will qualify:

The pod was exactly as I had left it – the lighting set to the dimmest level to appease my migraines and the ambient temperature set to exactly 16.5 degrees Celsius. The faint hum of the air-conditioning unit brought the only natural element from the outside world and the opaque windows to the rear and front offered a hazy glimpse of the setting Sun.

The remains of my last meal – a re-hydrated vegetable stew – sat on the table in the pods small food allocation and disposal area. Beside the meal was a paperback copy of Jasper Fforde’s Lost in a Good Book, the only possession I was allowed to keep after my arrival. Paperback books were obsolete; no printed materials of any kind existed. The interrogation officers had been amused by my attachment to the book and against the rules, allowed me to keep it. I wished I’d brought more than one but then the trip was only supposed to last a week, not forever. Besides, where would I put them? There were no shelves of any kind and the pod’s sterile, white walls, performed their role efficiently – why hang pictures or display ornaments when none existed?

I glanced up at the neon time display, which blinked a constant reminder of the pod’s main function; connecting to the central hub. It was only 1800 hours and I was not required to login in until 0600. Had they left me with twelve torturous hours as a test? Where they willing me to fail again? I sat down at the desk that ran the entire length of the pod’s right side and did the last thing they would expect – I logged in early. The pain from the migraine would almost kill me but I didn’t care. “Conform and stay alive,” had been her last words and I intended to follow them.

I will let you know who it is next Sunday.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Friday Five

Some random writing bits that caught my attention in the last week:

1. Over at Write-Brained, Christine was inspired to use the titles of books to create a story. It looked fun, so I had a go with the short story anthologies I've been published in:

(I was) HAUNTED (by) 100 STORIES FOR HAITI (but) THE MYSTERIOUS DR. RAMSEY (had) PATENTED (my) DNA (and created some) CREEPY THINGS. (His) DAILY FLASH (and) FLASH! (news brought out the) FEM-FANGS (in me and my only escape was to hide with the other) TRUNK STORIES.

Check out Christine's post and you might also be inspired to create your own Titles Tell A Story.


2. Over at You're Write. Except When You're Rong, Elena Solodow is offering to read an excerpt from your current WIP. She's looking for submissions for her weekly slot. Here is what she says, "Join my weekly vlog posts, in which I'll read YOUR 250-500 word excerpt out loud! Send submissions to esolodow at gmail dot com."


3. Jane Wenham Jones's follow up to her warm and funny Wannable A Writer? is now out. I haven't bought Wannabe A Writer We've Heard Of? yet but I'm sure it will be full of the same wit and practical advice as her first book, and I've placed it on my Christmas wishlist.


4. C. Hope Clark posted about the 5th Annual International Short Story Challenge. I'm not going to say too much about this one, as Hope has done it already. If you want to enter a writing competition with a difference, pop over to Hope's blog.


5. Finally, a quiz for writers of science fiction. Find out which science fiction writer you are most like by taking Paul Kienitz's quiz. According to him I'm Arthur C. Clarke.

I am:
Arthur C. Clarke
Well known for nonfiction science writing and for early promotion of the effort toward space travel, his fiction was often grand and visionary.


Which science fiction writer are you?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Hating Game Web Splash

Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at talliroland.com.


About THE HATING GAME:

When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

What are you waiting for? Help Talli's novel become a Kindle Bestseller.

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Don't forget to enter my caption competition, which ends midnight Saturday (GMT). Also, check out my Christmas Tales Blogfest.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Nanofantastic and Unusual Writing Opportunity

I've done it! I'm officially a NaNoWriMo Winner. At 18.35 I finished my last Dreaming of Sleep sentence, with a final count of 50,431 words. After a few nervous seconds waiting for the Nanowrimo bots to check my word document, I received confirmation I was a winner.

It's been a long month, which started off well enough and then became trickier with health worries. But I've done it. I now have 50,000 words of my Science Fiction novel. Will I do it next year? Off course I will.



Changing the subject, I have an unusual writing opportunity for those of you looking for a challenge. Pill Hill Press have announced a submission call for an anthology called The ePocalypse: e-mails at the end. The stories will be told through emails, with each story being written by teams of two or more writers. As some of you may know, I love anything different or unique. So, I'm eager to be part of this one.

Would you like to be part of this anthology? Apart from flexing those writing muscles, there are financial incentives too - one team will win the Editor's Choice Award ($150) and another will win the Contributor's Choice Award ($100). Please note: they are not looking for zombie stories, unless it is something unique to the apocalyptic genre.

If you are interested in this anthology, please read the guidelines and also check out the forum. My email address is available on my Contact page if you’d like to message me about forming a team.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Confessions of a NaNoWriMo Muse - Part Four


I'm back and kicking some Nanowrimo backside, because 'The Author' has to write 9571 words by midnight tomorrow to be a winner. I've told Ellie that as long as she paces herself and takes plenty of breaks, she can do it.

For those of you working to deadlines here are a couple of quotes to think about:

'If things go wrong, don't go with them.' Roger Babson

'Real difficulties can be overcome, it is the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.' Theodore N. Vail


Don't forget to enter Ellie's Caption Competition. Bye for now, Little Wanda.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Confessions of a NaNoWriMo Muse - Part Three

The muse was supposed to be posting today but after my traumatic weekend, I've given her a few days off. It was a good job I was ahead of the Nanowrimo target word count by Friday, because I got to cross off an item on the 'things you don't want to happen' list - I had a ride in an ambulance Friday night.

Don't panic, I'm okay. I either had a severe migraine or an allergic reaction. Hopefully I'll find out more when I see my doctor this morning. I had all my usual migraine symptoms - numbness in face and leg - but my tongue also swelled up and I couldn't speak. Apparently, I'm a medical mystery. I always knew I was a bit odd but this just proves it (I recently had an MRI, so I know it's not anything more sinister).

I've been told to take it easy, which is a bit difficult when you're in the middle of Nanowrimo. But Friday night did scare me, so I'm taking note of the advice. If I take longer than usual to reply to comments or emails, please bear with me.

I hope everyone's Nanowrimos or WIPs are going well. Keep writing!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

1078 NaNoWriMo Serial Killers

Did that title get you wondering? Don't worry; I haven't killed the muse. I am celebrating tonight because I'm 1078 words over my nanowrimo target, and I've found a home for a short story I wrote and then tucked in the 'what was I thinking?' folder.

Since nanowrimo began I've been trying to pass that magical barrier known as 'where I should be by today' and today I finally did it - I'm 1078 words over my target. Now I just need to remain there and I won't have to write an obscene amount of words on the 30th November.

Now on to serial killers. I wrote a short story around a year ago about a serial killer hitching a ride with a nice middle-aged woman called Fran. I was shocked by the fact I could write something of that nature, so I filed it away and forget about it. Why I was shocked, I don't know - I'm a huge fan of CSI: Las Vegas.

A couple of days ago I saw a call for a Serial Killer anthology and thought, what the heck? A quick re-draft, change of location, and a new title - The Vegas Screamer - and I submitted it. I received an email this evening to say it's been accepted. If nothing else, it will look interesting on my bookshelf. Perhaps if I hide it between Stephen King and Dean Koontz no one will notice?

How's your nanowrimo word count going? Are you killing the word target?

Monday, 15 November 2010

Blog Network Saves The Day

Panic over, my friends. Thanks to her blogging buddies, the person formerly known as 'The Author' has been found alive and well in . . .the little Welsh village of Pen Yn Inke. It's close, but not quite close enough, to the rea(l)m of Paiepyr.

I can tell you Ellie had quite a day before she found safety within its walls. After beautifying herself with one of Madeleine's gorgeous facemasks, she had intended to meet up with Maria Zannini for a few shots of Tequila. Unfortunately, whilst beaming to America, William Shatner took control of the transporter and she ended up at Gretna Green with a marriage proposal. She thanked The Shatman for his offer of wedded bliss and told him she needed to go the mall to buy a wedding dress (which would be paid for by her nanowrimo book advance).

As often happens when you go to the mall, she decided to meet up with old friend, Elvis, and see the new Harry Potter film. During the film, she and Elvis were replicated and seen in multiple locations across the globe. The original Ellie materialised in Rachel's airing cupboard before finally turning up under Stephen Chapman's desk. I can tell you that was a frightening experience - flangorples and cheesewelders were attacking her from all directions and Stephen's suggested solution was to beat her! Next time you see him, shout "Liz is behind you!" and then throw a few flangorples at him.

After a quick sleep, and spending some time in the special place, she made it to Maria Zannini's favourite bar. Yes. She did drink far too much, shook her bits at all the men, and passed out on Maria's sofa. Not a thumb? What will that woman think of next?

Finally, Maria packed her into a cab. After a $10,000 taxi charge, she made it to Pen Yn Inke and MorningAJ located her. Thank you, MorningAJ. A £10 Amazon voucher is heading your way.

Little Wanda.
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A note from the author: thank you to everyone for your hilarious ideas. I cried with laughter at each one. It was difficult choosing a winner but in the end MorningAJ’s Pen Yn Inke won the day. Also, this blog post will make a lot more sense if you read the one immediately before it.

Confessions of a NaNoWriMo Muse - Part Two


It seems I’ve lost the person formerly known as The Author. She decided to have Sunday off from nanowrimo and she’s gone AWOL. Anyone aware of her current whereabouts please contact me at the earliest opportunity. I can be reached by the following methods:

0900-NOTAMUSED

musenowforhire@musedirect.universe

The comments section below.

A reward will be offered for the most original and amusing location.

Thank you,
Little Wanda

Friday, 12 November 2010

Your Work In Progress - Who's the MC?

"Excuse me."

"Yes."

"You're not paying me enough attention."

"What?"

"Character A is getting too much viewpoint."

"But you're in most of the scenes and are playing a crucial role in moving the plot forward."

"That's my point."

"Oh."

"I've got more to lose than Character A and I'm a lot more interesting . . .and if I say so myself, a lot more attractive."

"So, what is it you want?"

"I should be the main character."

"What if you share?"

"That might work."


Has this happened to you?

Whilst plotting and continuing to write my Nanowrimo novel this week, the secondary viewpoint character, Talia, has started demanding to be the MC. I'm not prepared to hand over the role just yet but I am considering it. What would you do?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Top Ten Films They Should Have Made Blogfest


You’ve watched the films and laughed, cried, or cringed at the casting agents’ choices. You’ve thrown popcorn at the screen and shouted, "Why?". Well the day has arrived where you get to sack the casting agent and by the magic of CGI, morph your own choices into those offending film roles. You are the director today.

Here is my alternate list, in no particular order. It should not be taken too seriously or pinched for future Oscar glory. Anyone wishing to buy casting rights for a film remake, please contact my agent.


1. Tom Cruise as Frodo in Lord of the Rings. Well he is short enough, isn’t he?

2. William Shatner as Dr. Ross Jennings in Arachnophobia. I know what you’re thinking – he already made Kingdom of the Spiders, so why make another spider film? Did you see Kingdom of the Spiders? Nobody . . .can . . .act . . .with spiders . . .the way Shatner . . .can.

3. David Caruso as Searle in Sunshine. The role involved spending a lot of time looking at the Sun and Mr. Caruso is never without sunglasses. I rest my case.

4. Bubbles as the monkeys in Twelve Monkeys. There were supposed to be twelve monkeys. Where were the monkeys?

5. Celine Dion as Rose DeWitt Bukater in Titanic. Whilst not an actress, she did go on and on and on and on and on and on and . . .somebody give her the damn role already.

6. Morgan Freeman as the President in 2012. The casting of Danny Glover as the President in 2012 has to be one of the worst casting decisions ever, and I mean ever. Morgan Freeman has already played the President in Deep Impact, so it should be an easy swap for the CGI techs.

7. Steve Buscemi as Spiderman. I know what you’re thinking – why hasn’t she cast William Shatner in the role? I was tempted, but Mr. Shatner is getting on a wee bit and I don’t think the Lycra suit will do anything for his . . .err . . .robust figure. Anyway, who says all superheroes need chiselled good looks; they cast Toby Maguire, didn’t they? Steve Buscemi is one of my favourite actors, and I can just imagine the unique and sardonic take he’d bring to the role.

8. Sylvester Stallone as Rocky in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Okay. I’m reaching. Have you any idea how hard it is thinking of ten? Whose stupid idea was this blogfest? Me? Oops. Sorry.

9. Nicole Kidman as Dorothy in the remake The Wizard of Oz. This was the LSO’s contribution (those of you who know I have a phobia of the wizard film will know I’m being truthful). Anyway, if they ever remade the film his reasoning for casting her is that she’s from Oz. Oh, dear.

10. With Clint Eastwood already part of the cast, I wanted to see John Wayne, Charles Bronson, and Henry Fonda join him as the Space Cowboys. Unfortunately a couple of them were dead, which kind of made it impossible. But if they could grow those Avatar bodies in space . . .


So, there you have it – my Top Ten Films They Should Have Made list. Hopefully, you applauded my casting genius and are busy calling the major studios to let them know a new player is in town. Actually, I’m just hoping I gave you something to laugh at.

Do you agree with any of my choices or are you spitting venomous fury at my impertinence? It’s not too late to come up with your own top ten, just post your list and use the linky below to broadcast your brilliant choices.


Monday, 8 November 2010

Confessions of a NaNoWriMo Muse – Part One

Before my muse confesses all, let me say congratulations to all those who made it through the first week of NaNoWriMo and are about to start the second. Jump up and down with joy, because you made it.

Some of you will have surpassed week one’s 11669-word target. Others will be far behind. Some of you will be like me, just about on target. Whatever your word count, don’t give up. Put on your comfy writing pants, unhook the phone, and ignore the dishes – you’ve got another 11669 words to write.

According to Chris Batty the first week of NaNo ‘is an explosively productive creative period’, where getting ahead with the word target is a good thing. Why? Because in week two the storm clouds will gather and our muses will get grumpy. I don’t know about you but the skies are clear at the moment. I’ll let you know in a weeks time if what he says is true.

I’m handing over to my muse now – she seems to be in a good mood and is much better at confessions than I am.

Hi. If you haven’t already met me, I’m Ellie’s long-suffering muse. You can call me Little Wanda. The last seven days have been interesting for both of us. Ellie started with a 496-word flash fiction piece and thought that would be enough to inspire a novel and, in a way, she was correct. The 11195 words inhabiting the Dreaming of Sleep Word file are proof there is a story to be told. However, she learnt two very important things this week. I’ll share them with you but only if you promise not to tell her I told you.

  1. You cannot write a novel with no idea of the plot. You can start one and quite probably write a few thousand words. One scene leads to another and then another and so on. But what you absolutely need is an overall picture – an idea of the beginning, middle, and end. Without it, you’re likely to get lost and give up half way through.
  2. She is a plotter. Yes. You heard that right. Forget the nonsense she told you before about being a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer. She wasn’t lying; she just hadn’t realised that she’d been plotting all those short stories in detail before she started writing. She simply hadn’t equated forming story ideas in her head as the same as plotting on paper.

So there you have it – she’s realised she needs a plot after all. With that epiphany in mind, she’s decided to spend the next couple of days plotting. She took me on a shopping trip yesterday and bought brown paper, post-it notes, and a brand new sharpie pen. I can’t wait to see the other long-suffering one’s face when he notices 4ft of brown paper stuck on the bedroom wall. Off course, I’ve pointed out she’ll fall behind with her word count but she’s assured me it will be worth it.

I’ll be back next week to let you know how the re-decorating is going. In the meantime, what Nano or writing-related lessons did you learn last week?

Part of the Nanowrimo Blogchain

Friday, 5 November 2010

Guest Post: Science Fiction Romance Author Maria Zannini

Today I am thrilled to have author Maria Zannini as a guest on my blog. When I asked Maria if she could write about romance in science fiction, the subgenre she specialises in, she was more than happy to oblige. Please read on for an intriguing quiz and advice that applies to all novelists, not just those writing science fiction romance.

All that is left to say now is over to Maria for the rest of this post.

Are You Science Fiction Romance Author Material? Do you have what it takes to be a science fiction romance author? Take this quiz.

1. Do you dream of faster than light technology?
2. Did the Na'vi in Avatar get you hot?
3. Can your characters sizzle by a mere sweep of a glance?
4. Are people constantly falling in love in your stories?
5. Have you ever undressed Nathan Fillion with your eyes?
6. Are you a geek who loves love?

If you answered yes to any of these questions you are definitely a candidate for our exclusive membership.

Science fiction romance sometimes gets a bad rap. The hardcore sci-fi community get their panties in a wad if someone even mentions sex, and the romance community will complain that computers make their eyes bleed.

But there is a growing grassroots community who read and write science fiction romance.

They don't faint at the sight of satellites decloaking into super weapons, nor do they roll their eyes when the hero and heroine get horizontal.

And there's a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. The science has to make sense and the emotion has to be tangible. Fluffy is your neighbor's dog. It has no place in science fiction OR romance.

Science fiction romance readers want more than blasters and space wars. They want to read about life on different worlds, on spaceships, and within secret societies. They want characters they can care about, characters who make them fall in love.

I have four rules to guide me.

• Make the science readable. No ten dollar words or hand-waving to draw attention away from the fact that you didn't do your research.
• Never skimp on the details that bring a character or setting to life.
• Invest the reader in your characters. (That's nonnegotiable no matter what genre you write.)
• Don't write a novel. Tell a story.

The lines between genres are blurring all the time. SFR isn't your grandma's romance. It's sophisticated and sexy. My favorite combination!

So how did you do on the quiz? What subgenres have you tried?


***



Maria Zannini's latest release is a science fiction romance called TRUE BELIEVERS.

Mix one cynical immortal and one true believer and throw them into the biggest alien-hunt the world has never known. Rachel Cruz is a Nephilim masquerading as an archeologist and she's stuck with an alien who believes she can lead him to his ancestral gods. Black Ops wants to find these gods too. They want them dead.



Follow Maria here:

Blog
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter

Contest time! Every time you leave a comment, tweet or mention "Maria Zannini" anywhere with a link to my blog, your name goes in the hat for a chance to win a Texas sized prize. Go here for more information.


***

Thank you for giving us an interesting and insightful blog post, Maria. It has certainly given me a lot to think about.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Blogfest Reminder


A quick reminder that my Top Ten Films They Should Have Made Blogfest is on Tuesday 9th November. Here are the details:

Inspired by the revelation that Clint Eastwood was asked to play both James Bond and Superman, I’ve decided to hold my first film related blogfest.

Ever looked at your favourite actor or actress and thought they should have been Luke Skywalker or Supergirl? Ever wondered how hilariously funny it might have been to watch Danny DeVito play Dirty Harry or Walter Matthau as The Godfather? Well now’s your chance to blog about it. On the 9th November tell us all about your top ten alternate actors and actresses, and the films you wanted to see them in and why. Give us your list of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright weird.

You don't have to provide pictures; a list will be fine and all that I'm doing. Sign up to the blogfest below. I'll be posting the linky on the day for anyone else wanting to take part.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Nanobods Are Go


Are you ready? Yes? Then get writing!

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo 2010 and I’m beyond excited. Unfortunately, I also started work at 7am and I'm pretty tired. I’ll be attempting today’s 1700 word target but may not complete it. But I will definitely be catching up tomorrow, on my day off.





Before I finally talk about what I’m writing for NaNo, I want to send a special friend a message: Happy Birthday, Rachel Morris. I wouldn’t be here writing this today if it weren’t for you. Thank you for your constant enthusiasm, encouragement, and for kicking my butt when the inevitable self-doubt creeps in. I hope in my own way I can give back some of that love.

Now for my NaNo novel, which took some deciding. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been going crazy trying to choose between a novel I started 13 years ago, extending a short story, or writing two speculative western novellas. In the end I’ve gone for none of them.

Last week a flash fiction piece I wrote back in March was finally published in Pill Hill Press’s Daily Flash: 365 Days of Flash Fiction. When the anthology arrived on Wednesday I sat and re-read my story for the first time in several months. As I did, a light bulb lit in my head - could this simple piece of flash fiction, with its solitary character, Myron, be the basis for a novel? Over the last three days I’ve debated the pros and cons of starting a completely new work of fiction, with little preparation or forethought, and in true jump-before-I-look-style, I decided the answer is yes.

Here is book’s title and the back cover blurb:

Dreaming of Sleep

Myron has come 2000 years into the future and there is no way back. His life has changed beyond recognition, as he is forced to spend almost every minute of his day interfacing with any number of the 91 billion souls that call Earth home.

All Myron wants to do is to sleep, because then he can dream of home; a place where people live as individuals and the choices they make are simple. But sleep is illegal and the punishment for breaking the law severe. He must take his daily tablet and conform.

As Myron sleepwalks through his new existence, literally dreaming of sleep, the beautiful and mysterious Talia enters his life and offers him a form of escape - a chance to travel back through time. But is Talia all she appears to be? Can Myron trust her? And can he stay awake long enough to discover the truth?

So Nanobods, how is day one's word count going?

Part of the Nanowrimo Blogchain

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Don't Look! T-minus 12 hours.


This is what happens when you take an innocent stroll along Exmouth beach on Halloween. Take heed and beware the zombie fish!

Thank you to everything that joined in with my impromptu Zombie Week and special thanks to Jeremy, also known as iZombie. The picture you see above is his work and if you want to see some more of his genius, click here. If you're a Trekkie you'll particularly enjoy his zombie versions of Kirk and Spock. For a small donation, you too can become a zombie.

Now to NaNoWriMo, which for those of us living by GMT, is now only 12 hours away. Yikes. I had promised to let you know which novel I'd be writing, but I'm going to do that tomorrow. I have decided. Honestly. I just need to make a few last minute tweaks, fill out my NaNo novel page, and I'll be ready.

Friday's regional meeting went well and I really enjoyed myself. Being in the company of other NaNo's both inspired and motivated me to succeed. Some of the writers attending were first timers, like myself, and others have done several.

One of the things that motivated me was finding out most of the planned novels have a speculative angle, with genres covered including fantasy, historical, horror, murder mystery, and science fiction. All the novel ideas caught my interest. Of course some of the writers have planned their novels in detail and that did cause me to feel a little unprepared, but then I reminded myself I'm not a plotter. I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer, according to NaNo guidelines.

What about you? Do you prepare detailed plotlines and character notes? Do you have chapter titles and scene notes before you start writing? Or do you start with a rough idea and see where the characters take you?

Friday, 29 October 2010

Zombie and NaNoWriMo Dating

Actually, I didn't. It's day five of Zombie Week and I'd planned to tell you about my adventures on Zombie Harmony, a zombie-dating site. Perhaps I'm naive but I thought this site was purely for fun. However, I realised yesterday that it is a real dating site, albeit with an apocalyptic theme. In the interests of my living partner, I decided not to even sign up; I don't think he'd appreciate me receiving emails from Lonely Bill or Luvs2cuddle!

If you are single and fancy meeting someone via a more unusual route, sign up here.

It's not all bad news, though. I'm going on my first NaNoWriMo date today. I use the term 'date' loosely, because it is one of three meetings for NaNo members in the Devon region. But I do have to wear something red to distinguish myself!

It looks like there will be at least 20 of us attending, which is a good number. So, if you happen to be in Exeter from 3pm, and are passing The Boston Tea Party, pop in and say hello. For my foreign friends, just fuel up the private jet and I'll provide coffee and cakes when you arrive.

I have one major concern as I approach today's meeting and the weekend - I still haven't decided which novel to write. I've made notes for all three novel ideas, but as NaNo starts in four days, I'm beginning to panic. I have not filled out my novel page on the NaNo site and I'm worried about appearing totally disorganised for the meeting. How do I decide? At this point I'm seriously considering sticking the three ideas in a hat and pulling one out.

Have you been to a regional NaNo meeting before? If so, what should I expect? Have you decided what your NaNo novel will be this year and how much preparation have you done?

The final day of Zombie Week will be on Halloween, when I promise I will have made a decision and you'll get to see what happened to me when I was bitten by a zombie fish.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Main Course and News

It's day three of Zombie Week and I'm offering you the main course of the feastivities, the Zombie Bite Calculator.






If bitten, how long before you become infected? I would turn into a zombie in one hour and 14 minutes. How about you?






The Zombie Bite Calculator comes courtesy of The Oatmeal. If you haven't checked out Matthew Inman's site then it is well worth a visit. Particular favourites of mine are the twitter spelling test and how many germs live on your mobile phone? There also some hilarious comic pages, with topics such as how to use a semicolon and the five phases of caffeine intake.


Now for some news:

My 6000 word tribute to William Shatner, Why Do Aliens Love Iowa?, has been accepted for the Static Movement's Tribute to the Stars Anthology.

I'm ecstatic about this acceptance for many reasons. Firstly, at just over 6000 words it is the longest short story I've written. Secondly, it's the first story I've written with a particular person in mind, in this case William Shatner. If you don't already know about this anthology, the editor is looking for stories that are written as if you were making a movie and your favourite actor/actress will be playing the lead part. Thirdly, all the actors/actresses featured will be sent a copy of the anthology. I don't know if William Shatner will read it - I'm sure he gets sent lots of things - but you never know.

See you on Friday, when coffee and zombie dating will feature on the menu.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Zombie Week (25th - 31st October)

After working Saturday, not getting to bed until 1am Saturday and Sunday night, and cooking a roast for the neighbours Sunday, I feel like a zombie this morning. And it has occurred to me that during NaNoWriMo I might just resemble a zombie to all the non-writers in my life, as every second of my spare time is devoted to the lives of my characters and the journey they will take me on. No doubt I'll be sat in the corner of the room at some event or function, looking vacant and staring into space. Someone will ask me if I'd like another drink and I'll say, "Is that wise? The spaceship has just lost artificial gravity and is plummeting to the hostile planets surface. I don't think now is the time for a drink."

So in an attempt to recognise and embrace the zombie within, and because I just want to have some fun before the seriousness of NaNoWriMo starts on the 1st November, I'm declaring 25th - 31st October Zombie Week on my blog. Sink your teeth into today's starter course, a book trailer that blends Star Trek and Zombies into one. On Wednesday I'll be offering the succulent main course and asking, how long will it take you to become infected from a zombie bite? We'll skip the dessert on Friday (zombies need to watch their waistlines too) and head straight for the coffee, because have you ever pondered the intricacies of zombie dating? No. I hadn't either. Finally, on Halloween you'll find out what happened to me when I took a walk at the beach and was bitten by a zombie fish. It wasn't pretty.

Let the feastivities begin! Please note this book trailer contains images that some people may find disturbing or offensive.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Cinderella's Shoe Blogfest

Over at Scribble and Edit the fabulous Madeleine is hosting Cinderella’s Shoe Blogfest, where your challenge is “to write a maximum 500 word piece or a poem about any character who loses something that when found by another results in their mutual happiness/relief/salvation/ Or whatever.”

I've decided to be experimental with my entry and it takes the form of letters. Please note that the following is entirely a work of fiction and comes from the writer’s imagination. It does not reflect actual events.


June 1974

Dear Leonard,

Please find enclosed a prosthetic ear I found during the LA convention; part of my 12-step recovery programme is to return any items that do not belong to me. I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me because you are my favourite actor.

Live long and prosper,
Judith



July 1974

Dear Judith,

I must say I was surprised to receive your letter at my home address, but I was pleased to read you are returning items that do not belong to you. I was sure I had lost that ear during my trip back home from the LA Con; I misplaced a whole box of props at a service station.

You asked me for my forgiveness but I need to thank you – returning that prosthetic ear has had a profound effect on me. On closer inspection I found the manufacturing serial number, which should have marked it as an ear I wore during the first season, was incorrect. After asking a few questions and talking to Majel, I have discovered I never wore the ear you returned to me and that I was not the first choice to play Spock! Another actor had already read for the part (Majel could not remember his name) and even had a set of prosthetic ears made for him. For some unknown reason the actor pulled out and I was offered the role. But I realised that if more than one actor has worn the legendary pointy ears then that means I haven’t always been Spock! This realisation has inspired me to write my memoirs. I am going to call them I Am Not Spock. What do you think?

Leonard



July 1974

Dear Leonard,

I can’t believe you wrote back to me! I’ve written letters to other cast members but all I got back was a warning not to contact them at their home addresses. I always new you were the nicest cast member. However, this will be my last letter to your home - step nine involves learning appropriate boundaries in personal relationships. From now on I will forward any correspondence to your official address.

I can’t believe the ear was not worn by you but please don’t call your memoirs I’m Am Not Spock. You are Spock!

Live long and prosper,
Judith

p.s. perhaps you could auction the mysterious ear for charity?



October 1996

Dear Judith,

You may not remember but several years ago you returned a prosthetic ear to me and suggested I auction it for charity. I was recently asked to donate items to for The Actors Hardship Fund and I thought of that ear. Unfortunately, I had to remove it from the auction as the actor who the ear was made for came forward and claimed he had lost it around the time it came into my possession. The actor claimed he was Spock! My lawyers said he didn’t have much of a case but I said let him wear it; if it fits then he can have it!

You will be pleased to know my new memoir I Am Spock will be out shortly.

Leonard

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

100th Blog Post!

I can’t believe I’ve reached my 100th blog post already. I’ve been having so much fun in blogging cyberspace that I didn’t notice the time whizzing by, and because I wouldn’t still be blogging if it were not for all the heartfelt comments I’ve received over the last few months, which have motivated and inspired me to continue writing, I wanted to dedicate a new award to the bloggers who’ve taken the time to comment.

So if you’ve ever commented on one of my blog posts or are commenting today for the first time, the Comments with Heart Award is especially for you.


There is just one small rule for picking up the award: please leave a comment below telling us what commenting means to you. Share with us the highs, lows, laughs, and sometimes tears of blog commenting.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

CassaStar Launches!


Start transmission.

I’m breaking my new blogging schedule because today is the launch date of CassaStar, the debut publication of talented writer and fellow blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh. I’ve already downloaded my kindle version and, having read the first two chapters, I can tell you that if you buy this book you’re in for a thrilling ride. I will be posting a review shortly. In the mean time, here are a few things to make you want to teleport your own copy.



What is the blurb?

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron’s chagrin, the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?


Who is Alex J. Cavanaugh?

Apart from being a creative and prolific blogger, Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He’s experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Currently he lives in the Carolinas with his wife. Visit his blog to get a taste of who Alex J. Cavanaugh is.


Where can I buy the book?

CassaStar is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Noble, and BAM. It is also available in ebook format for Kindle, iPad, Nook and others.


Is there one of those cool book trailers I can watch?

Yes. Clear here to launch the trailer.

So what are you waiting for? If you don’t believe me when I say this book will take you on a thrilling sci-fi journey, trust in all the other bloggers who are dedicating blog space to Alex J. Cavanaugh this week. They have faith and so should you.

End transmission.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Making the Tough Decisions

Towards the end of September I asked the question, how do you balance your time between blogging and writing? I was struggling to find a happy balance between the two and needed some advice as to how to better manage my time.

My fellow bloggers came up with many helpful suggestions and solutions:

Stockpiling posts.
Putting writing first.
Sticking to a blog schedule.
Limiting blogging to so many days a week.
Getting up earlier to spend time on your blog.
Taking days off from blogging.
Remembering it’s a book you want to publish and not your blog.

I must admit that even though all the advice offered sensible solutions, I didn’t really act on any of them – I was having too much fun with my new addiction.

However, over the last two weeks I’ve finally realised that whilst blogging has opened me up to numerous friends and a wealth of knowledge, none of that is any good if I’m not writing. Over the last two weeks I kept a record of how much time I spent on my blog or those of others (including any associated emails and links) and then compared that to the time I spent writing. The difference between the two figures is shocking:

Blogging 22.5 hours
Writing 7 hours

Less than a quarter of my free time was spent writing, and with NaNoWriMo starting in two weeks, I cannot continue devoting such a large proportion of my time to blogging no matter how much I love it. And worse, I’ve begun to feel the quality of my writing is slipping because I’m not giving it the time needed. So I’ve decided to take the advice to limit blogging to certain days of the week, or in other words, introduce non-blogging days. I know that might seem severe but once I turn on the laptop and venture online, I just can’t help myself.

My new schedule will allow me to blog on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On those days I can blog as much as I want without feeling guilty, because on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays I will be devote my free time to writing. Of course there will be the occasional exception – blogfests, guest blog posts, and fellow blogger book launches – but I will try to stick to the schedule. If I don’t there is only one other option left - to not have a blog. I don’t want to even consider that option.

What do you think? Am I being too hard on myself? Do you think it is possible to stick to such a schedule? Would you tackle the issue in another way?

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

NaNoWriMo Here I Come

With a big intake of air, and much stomach clenching, I signed up for my first NaNoWriMo on Sunday. I've been considering it for a couple of years now and decided that I needed to just do it and hopefully finish the month with 50,000 words. They may not be 50,000 publishable words but then that's not the point of NaNoWriMo; the re-writes can be done later.

There are pros and cons for spending the 30 days of November writing on average 1,666 words a day.



The Pros:
  • It will be a test-run for writing a novel.

  • I'll have written 50,000 of a novel.

  • I'll be joining a community of writers taking part and, hopefully, gleam lots of useful advice.

  • I'll have achieved something I never thought possible.

  • I'll feel good about myself.
The Cons:
  • I will need to write at 1,666 words a day or, taking a few days off, at least 2,000.

  • I will need to sacrifice certain activities to find the find the time, such as TV, housework, ironing, and cooking. Hang on, that could be a pro.

  • I will need my friends and family to understand they won't be seeing as much of me as they'd like.

  • I will need to cut back on my blogging time, severely.

  • The 50,000 words I end up with may be absolute rubbish.

I'm sure there are lots of other pros and cons I've not yet thought of, which I will quickly learn or readers will point out. But the biggest question now is what do I write? Here are the options I'm considering:
  1. Hear on Earth - a science fiction novel I started and stopped over 13 years ago.

  2. Seeds of Change (working title) - a science fiction short story I am considering extending into a novel.

  3. Two Novellas - a zombie western and a horror western.

I will let you know nearer the time which option I've chosen.

For those who have visited the NaNoWriMo website and watched the video on the homepage, if I were a tupee, I'd be William Shatners (watch the video and you'll understand). For those who have or are signing up, you can find me under the username of 'shatnerstupee'!

Have you done NaNoWriMo and/or are you doing it this year? What are you planning to write? What advice would you offer to anyone taking part?

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Aha! Heaven and 100 followers

My legs and feet hurt and I'm exhausted, but it was worth very minute. Well, except for forgetting about my fear of heights when booking the concert tickets, Aha not doing an encore, and it taking us forever to find the hotel. But what would a trip to London be without a mishaps?

The Royal Albert Hall was the usual stunning venue and Aha treated us to two entire albums - Hunting High and Low and Scoundrel Days. Morton Harket didn't sound any different than 25 years ago; whether he looked any different I couldn't tell as we were high up in the Circle seats (the photograph was taken with the zoom on maximum and doesn't indicate just how high up we were). And when I mean high, I mean the fear inducing, stomach-churning heights that comes from having a seat in the second row from front of the circle. I must remember the small issue of height next time I book tickets for The Royal Albert Hall. Apart from that the only low point of the concert was Aha not doing an encore. Why? Even if was just one song it would have been what the fans wanted!

Finding our hotel after the concert was a bit of a disaster. We'd booked ourselves into the Travelodge at Covent Garden and forgot one minor detail - an address for the hotel. After an hour of aimless wandering we hopped into a rickshaw and five minutes later we were there, minus £15. Why didn't we do that in the first place?

On Saturday we went to Foyles bookstore and I was in heaven. One hour and three writing books later we left. I know I could have probably bought them cheaper on Amazon but how could I not buy something in one of the best bookstores in the country?

We pulled into our local train station at about 9pm last night and were treated to the end of the Exmouth carnival. So, all in all, it was a great trip.


I have 101 followers!

Whilst I was away the answer to which will come first - 100 Followers or 100th Post Awards? - was decided. A huge thank you to dirtywhitecandy for taking me to the magic 100 figure and to DanPloy for taking me just over.

In my post on the 28th September, I said that when I reached 100 followers I'd have a draw and one person would win . . .a surprise. This morning I hopped over to random.org and put 1 to 101 in the random number generator and asked it to give me a winner. Drum roll . . .the winning number was follower number 12, Pixie J. King.

Congratulations, Pixie. For your prize you get to choose two of the following books (if you have one or more of them let me know and I'll offer some alternatives):

No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo.



Thank you to everyone who has chosen to follow me and I hope that I will continue to make my blog a place you want to visit from time to time.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Aha! My Friends

There won't be any question of the day tomorrow because I'm off to London to see Aha in concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

It's the LSO who is the real Aha fan but after dragging him to the Film and Comic Convention in July I knew I needed to treat him to something special, and the Royal Albert Hall is special. Stunning is the word I'd use. I've only been there once before and that was to see the legendary film music composer Ennio Morricone and I was blown away by the venue, the music, and the amazing atmosphere. If you ever get a chance, go.

Aha will be performing their entire Hunting High and Low album, containing several iconic tracks from my childhood, with a 30-piece orchestra and screen projections. It should be an experience to remember.

Can you believe it's been 25 years since their Hunting High and Low album? Do you remember 1985? What were you doing that year? Share your jumper dress and pixie boot moments with us all.

In 1985 I was 13 and a geek. I was in love with Nik Kershaw and David Bowie. I know, they couldn't be more different. I remember watching the Take On Me video repeatedly and the whole family watching Aha on the Royal Variety Performance. If I remember correctly, they sang The Sun Always Shines on TV.

I'm not sure what year jumper dresses and Pixie boots came out, but I wore them. I had a grey and pink striped jumper dress and burgundy pixie boots, which I wore all the time. Those were the days.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Weird Anthology Calls

I'm always looking for the more unusual anthologies to submit to and here is a round-up of some I'm hoping to write stories for that might also interest you:

Midnight Movie: Creature Feature by May December Publications. Stories should be between 3,000 – 10,000 words and contain at least one type of creature (zombie, vampire etc) and NO humans. May December publications specialise in zombie fiction and have several other anthologies open to submission. No submission deadline yet. Details are available here.


How the West Was Wicked by Pill Hill Press. Think the American Wild West with a speculative element, and then make it weird or disturbing. They haven't officially posted details on their website about this yet, but you can check out the discussion on this and several other anthologies on their forum. Reading for this anthology starts on the 5th January 2011 and they are leaving a wide word limit for this one, 500 – 15,000 words.


Staying with the western theme, Wicked East Press is looking for submissions for a 2012 anthology entitled Dead Rush: Old West Horror. With a deadline of 28th February 2012, there's more than enough time to write a story. Word limit is 3,500 – 7,000 words, but they will consider stories from 1,500 – 10,000. Check out this and several other anthologies open to submission on their forum.


A Tribute to the Stars by Static Movement is one anthology I'm incredibly excited about. Stories must be a tribute to your favourite star, and you will name the star you'd like to play the main character. Any actors/actresses named in the anthology will be sent a copy, so serious submissions only. There is no maximum word limit but a minimum of 2,000 (thanks to Pixie for correcting me on that one). Any genre is acceptable, but this is a story for the actor/actress to star in, not about them. See the forum discussion for more details.


Finally, Pill Hill Press are still looking for submissions for their Daily Bites of Flesh: 365 Days of Flash Fiction anthology, 500 words or less stories about zombies, vampires, werewolves, and other man-eating/bloodsucking creatures. I've had one piece already accepted and I'm currently writing a second. Check out the details here. Deadline is 3rd November 2010.


Now for an update on my 1oo Followers Draw or 100 Blog Post Awards Celebrations: I now have 94 followers and this is my 92nd post. Which will be first? It's too close to call.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

I Smell A Bad Ending Turned Good

I don't know whether to be chuffed or embarrassed, but I'm a finalist for The Scent of an Ending competition. If you don't know anything about this competition, it asks you to submit the title for an imaginary novel and the final 25 - 125 words. The twist is that your ending must be a bad. Your writing must literally stink.

As I'm always looking for the more unusual competitions, I entered and was surprised to be selected as a finalist. They haven't named the winners yet but you can read my entry here. Details for their next competition, ending on the 3rd January 2011, are here. As they put it, "Start the New Year wrong!"

In the mean time I'll be keeping my nose to the grindstone and hoping I might win.

Friday, 1 October 2010

How long is a story prompt?


How long is a story prompt?

I've been selected to be part of an anthology with a twist. I can't give to many details, as it's very hush, hush. There will be ten authors, each writing a 10,000-word story. I've never written a story of this length before but I've decided to use it as a warm-up for my novel; I can use it to practice writing something much longer. And another great thing about this selection is that it is helping to pull me out of my work blues.

Part of the anthology process involves me providing a story prompt. The prompt should be enough to trigger a story but short enough that you are not outlining the story. I think of a prompt as being anything from one sentence to a paragraph; the kind of thing you may see in a writing practice book. What do you think? I would really appreciate some advice.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Work Blues

August and September has been an odd couple of months for me. I've had a lot of fun in the blogging world, met lots of new writing friends, took part in a couple of blogfests, and had my first paid-for story published. But I only submitted eight stories - three were rejected and, until last week, only one of them was accepted. I’ve only had two stories accepted in two months and I'm still awaiting the fate of the other three. I need to be writing more.

Yesterday was my first day back at work after a ten-day holiday. If I thought things were stressful before I went on holiday, they seemed ten times worse when I got back. I can't say too much because I'm not allowed to discuss 'work' online. Think not enough staff and no overtime, and you get an idea of what it is like.

Mid-afternoon I went for a break and as I sat there sipping my coffee I had this thought: I've been here 18 years, am I really going be still here in 18 more?By the time I got home I felt thoroughly sorry for myself and then admonished myself with the perennial realisation that there are people far worse off than me. But of course that doesn't really help when I had such a great holiday, with all the time I wanted to write. I'm back to my own day-to-day reality and I don't like it.

When I awoke this morning I looked myself in the mirror and told myself the only person who can make a change is me and to stop feeling sorry for myself. But here is my dilemma: do I concentrate on writing short stories for the women’s magazine market, which is not really my preferred option, and hope I can start earning enough of an income to cut down on my work hours and start writing my novel? Or, do I take a risk and write the novel I've always wanted to write and hope that it might one day be published?

When I've spoken to friends and family about this, they've all said, "But why can't you do both?” Realistically, I know I don't have time for both; I want writing to be enjoyable, not a constant struggle. And writing a novel is enough hard work, I think.

Now add to my dilemma that I have been thinking of taking a career break. I’ve got enough shares saved that could cover a six-month loss in salary. But there is a big problem with that option – when I return I wouldn’t be guaranteed the same job or even the same amount of hours. Given those circumstances, in't it too big a risk?

What would you do? Are you facing the same kinds of dilemmas? I'd love you know your thoughts.