Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Tuesday Teaser (13): Touch Of Fire by Maria Zannini

Today's Tuesday Teaser comes from a writer I've been fortunate enough to discover through blogging.

Title: Touch Of Fire
Author: Maria Zannini

She'd seen plenty of men naked. But this one was all sinew and snarl, daring her to turn him away.

So, I should admit that I don't usually like reading books about magic, witches, priestesses, and so forth; what I would call, probably unfairly, the swords and sandals genre. However, after reading True Believers -  a science fiction romance - I was in no doubt I would enjoy Touch Of Fire and the newly published sequel, Apocalypse Rising. Zannini's books are exciting, sexy, and fun to read. True Believers was the first book I downloaded on my Kindle, taking me just two days to read. If you haven't read this author before, you won't be disappointed.

Check out the stunning cover for the sequel Apocalypse Rising, and for True Believers:

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading.

Do you have any books or stories you'd like to tease us with?

Sunday, 29 May 2011

WIP Update: Birthing The First Novel - A Decision Made

After much thought, consideration of my fellow bloggers advice, chocolate,
and some hair-pulling, I've finally made up my mind which novel will get my full attention come September.

It isn't Dreaming of Sleep. Whilst I will be using the next 14 weeks to complete my first draft of this book, and finish both my own and Myron's journey, I've still got that constant gnawing feeling - call it gut instinct - telling me it is too dark and too complicated - the central theme and plot rely to heavily on hard science for my liking. It isn't fantastical enough. It is more about an idea than the characters, and I don't like that. However, I do agree with all those who urged me to finish it. It needs to be written, and there is no reason why I can't come back to it in the future.

The novel I will be writing, and preparing for over the next 14 weeks, will be Cosmic Seed. A lot of you asked me which one I was passionate about, and this is the one. It's a bit like experiencing my first crush; I keep getting that excited nervous-sensation every time I think about it, which I have not had with Dreaming of Sleep. I already have a rough idea for the plots of all three novels in the trilogy, and I'm also hoping that if the first one is accepted for publication there will be more chance of publishing the second and third.

So, there it is. The decision has finally been made. My aim during my 12-week work break will be to write and edit Cosmic Seed, and then submit it to Maria Zannini for the manuscript critique I won earlier in the year.

I am working on my back cover blurb and will post it soon. In the mean time, here is my mock cover for those who haven't seen it before:

What was the toughest writing decision you've ever had to make?

Friday, 27 May 2011

Power Of Tension Blogfest: Cosmic Seed Trilogy

There is no Friday Five today, as I'm taking part in a blogfest. The Power Of Tension Blogfest, hosted by Rachel Morgan and Cally Jackson, asks you to 'Give an excerpt (up to 300 words) from your manuscript or recently completed work (or just a random scene) that just drips with tension and will tie us up in knots wanting to know more. It doesn’t matter what the piece is about, as long as it screams tension.'

The blogfest runs from the 23rd to 27th May and also includes a chance to win one of three awesome prizes, two of which include a 1st Chapter beta read. To read other entries and/or sign up, click here.

Whilst continuing to write my science fiction WIP, Dreaming of Sleep, I've been making notes for a science fiction trilogy set on the alien worlds of Velika and Vita. The following is a first draft extract from the first book in the trilogy, Cosmic Seed:

“We have a problem, Professor.”

Kaylan looked up to see Captain Talcada, the only male officer serving aboard the Baylaa, clutching a red report. Red meant only one thing – mission abort.

Kaylan sighed. She’d hoped that Bria would not let her, and her people, down. “What happened this time?”

“She's joined the others.”



“And she didn’t take the termination pill?”


“I'm beginning to think this will never work.”

“We should be terminating them ourselves, Professor. As long as we leave Velikians on the planet, they will continue to work against us.”

“No. They have a right to life, no matter what that life might be. And without the means to leave Vita, how can they threaten the outcome of the mission?”

“It's not about the threat; it's about the numbers. We have gathered only a quarter of seed stocks needed, and already gone three months over schedule. My crew and I want to go home, and soon.”

“So, this is about your discomfort. Their lives are irrelevant?”

The Captain leaned forward and pointed the report accusingly in her direction. “This is about doing what is right for Velika. I too grieve for those who will be lost in the process, but neither of us can afford to become emotionally involved no matter who the candidates are.”

Kaylan stared at the Captain, who, like others of his sex, had been forced to push aside any thoughts of procreation and allow alien DNA to re-populate his species, and wondered if he really understood just how important Bria was.

“The day may arrive when those left behind will need to be eliminated to ensure Velika's survival but we haven’t reached that point. Not yet.”

“Well, we will just have to see what the Council have to say about it. Won't we?"

300 words.

Thank you to Rachel and Cally for hosting this awesome blogfest. As always, I'd love to know what you think of it, good or bad.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

QOTW: Blogaversary! How did your blogging adventure begin?

Today is my one-year blogaversary! I've been blogging for a whole year, and I've loved every moment of it. I would not change a thing. Well, except for being better at balancing my time.

Feeling rather nostalgic, I went back to my first blog post. After re-reading it, I thought back to how no one commented on it and the next two blog posts; how I had no followers and no real idea of what blogging really meant.

Then I discovered Microfiction Monday and found the point of blogging - sharing my ongoing writing adventures with new life forms and civilisations ...I mean new people ...exploring new writing worlds and going where no woman ...I mean many aspiring writers have been before. My blogging adventure had begun. Taking part in the weekly meme helped me to find other like-minded people and for them to find me, and I'd recommend any new bloggers to do the same.

Now don your party hats and raise your glasses, because I'd like to thank everyone who has visited my blog, supported me, and given me the courage to follow my dreams over the last year. My fellow bloggers and writers, you are the point of blogging, and I salute you.

So, how did your blogging adventure begin?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tuesday Teaser (12): A Wrinkle In Time & Babel-17

As I missed Tuesday Teaser last week, I'm giving you two teasers today. The first is from the book I read last week:

Title: A Wrinkle In Time
Author: Madeleine L'Engle

'They are very young. And on their Earth, as they call it, they never communicate with other planets. They revolve about all alone in space.'

'Oh,' the thin beast said. 'Aren't they lonely?'

A Wrinkle In Time is a science fiction fantasy book and the winner of several awards. What I admired about the author was the way she created such distinct voices for the characters. The other thing to note is that the book is full of adverbs - something we are advised to avoid in our writing - yet someone how it works; the adverbs do not distract from the brilliance of the story.

The second teaser is from this week's read:

Title: Babel-17
Author: Samuel R. Delany

'It isn't a language of the Alliance. I want to find out who speaks this language - because I want to find out who, or what, in the Universe thinks that way.'

Babel-17 was the 1966 Nebula Award winner (Delany won again in '67 with The Einstein Intersection) and from only reading a few pages, I can see why. This is a science fiction book about language, and how the use and context of words shape our understanding of the world, or, as in this case, the Universe.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading.

Do you have any books or stories you'd like to tease us with?

Sunday, 22 May 2011

WIP Update: Beating The No-win Scenario

I don't believe in the no-win scenario. If Captain Kirk could beat the Kobayashi Maru test, I can write a book and be published. But you might ask, "Didn't Kirk beat the test by cheating; by re-programming the parameters of the test? And wasn't the Kobayashi Maru really a test of how a person reacts in the face of certain defeat?"

Traditionally, a writer would seek a publishing deal with a major publishing house. If they were fortunate enough to secure such a deal and their book was published, they were considered to be a proper writer. Those who self-published were seen as nothing more than vanity writers. You might say they cheated the system, and as such they were looked down upon by the writing world.

Times have changed. With the coming of computers, the Internet, websites, blogging, ebooks, Kindles, iPhones, iPads, Twitter, Facebook, a plethora of digital publication formats and new medias for self-promotion has arrived. With this has come the ability to submit your writing to markets that were just not there or unavailable to writers as little as 15 years ago. Writers can even choose to circumvent the traditional publishing route and take complete control of their work, and many writers are doing just that and making a good living from it.

But are they cheating? Do you still see a distinction between those who self-publish and those who have a traditional publishing contract, or is the line starting to blur?

In my opinion the line is blurring. Self-published books are accepted and do sell. Of course along with that acceptance sometimes comes a drop in quality. If you are going to self-publish, you must be able to write. You do need the services of critique partners, beta-readers, and a good editor. You will need to pay for a quality cover and ensure you use a reputable printing house. All these things should be ignored at your peril.

Personally, I still want a publishing contract. Not because I disapprove of self-publishing or that I'm unprepared to do the work to ensure my novel is fit for publication; I want the security of knowing my work was chosen by an editor and considered worthy of publication.

But what if I did decide to self-publish? Would I be avoiding facing up to failure just like Kirk? Would I be shielding myself from rejection?

These are tough questions but as writers we should all be answering them, because how we answer could determine the rest of our writing careers. Do you want a traditional publishing contract or are you brave enough to cross the line? If you have already been published, which route did you take?

Live long and publish.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Friday Five: Want a peek at where I live?

I'm back. The last five days have been exhausting, sleep-deprived, and a little fractious at times. Mr. G and I have painted and glossed, nailed down creaking floorboards, and hoovered up more dust and sand then I thought possible. But it was worth every moment, because now we have gleaming walls and new carpets.

Here are five things I learnt in the last week:
  1. I can paint, contrary to Mr. G's protests that I couldn't.
  2. We have far too many possessions.
  3. I won't be wearing my short dress to the party Saturday night as my legs are covered in bruises from all the decorating and I'm now wearing a knee support on my right leg.
  4. There is such a thing as too many chips in one week. I also find it concerning that we know all the Dock's Cafe staff by name and they don't need to ask for our order any more.
  5. Having your own writing area really does motivate and inspire you.
As promised, here is a peek of where I live:

My new writing area. As you can see I don't go for the minimalistic look. There is room to leave my laptop out on the far right of the desk; so much better then having to put it away every day.

The house our flat is in. The four front windows belong to use, and the flat stretches around the right hand side of the building.

The Exe Estuary at sunset.

The Beach. See. I do exist outside of Cyberspace.

I hope you all had a fantastic week. I've missed everybody and will be catching up with my blog reading over the weekend. If you get a chance, check out my Hollywood Haiku competition entries here and here.

Hollywood Haiku #2: The War Of The Worlds

Thank you again to Madeleine at Scribble and Edit for texting me about the Hollywood Haikus Blogging Competition during the week.

Here is entry #2:

The War Of The Worlds by Ellie Garratt

Tripods came from Mars
Their minds immeasurable
Earth held it's own cure

This is an entry for the Best For Film Hollywood Haikus blogging competition. Enter now. Read Hollywood Haiku #1 here.

Hollywood Haiku #1: The Wrath Of Khan

Thank you to Madeleine at Scribble and Edit for texting me about the Hollywood Haikus Blogging Competition during the week. It was torturous not being able to really think about and post my entries until today.

Here is entry #1:

The Wrath Of Khan by Ellie Garratt

Needs of the many
Superior Intellect
Spock gives life for friends

This is an entry for the Best For Film Hollywood Haikus blogging competition. Enter now. Read Hollywood Haiku #2 here.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

WIP Update: Who Let The Blogger Gremlins Out?

I think it was me. I tempted fate by mentioning Gremlins in my Wednesday post and giving my Sunday 15th WIP post the title 'Normal Services Will Be Suspended'. I apologise.

Wasn't yesterday fun? I logged on early morning to finish writing my Friday Five post and found I couldn't access my blog account. When I returned home from work late evening I found the problem was fixed but I was too tired to finish my post. So, I've skipped straight to be my Sunday WIP post, which you are getting today. Confused? I am.

I'm taking a break from blogging next week. Mr. G and I are on holiday from 5pm today and have some major household changes going on next week. On Wednesday and Thursday, we are having new carpets going down throughout the entire flat. Before that can happen we need to finish ripping out all the old carpet, screw down all the loose floorboards, treat the lounge floorboards for carpet moths (don't ask; it's an old building), finish painting the lounge and hallway ceilings, and finally pack everything away for the carpet layers. Gosh. Even typing this is making me feel exhausted.

Friday will be a day off for good behaviour. On Saturday we have my sister-in-law's 40th birthday party and I think it will be one of those get-home-in-the-early-hours parties. So, I may be a little worse for wear on Sunday. In the interests of readability, I promise to either write my Sunday post before the party or at least after several cups of coffee Sunday morning.

Have a great week blogging friends.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

QOTW: How Do You Stop The Grammar Gremlins?

The Muse has undergone a recent transformation.

I don't usually do pity posts but I'm cross with myself for having missed an error in a recent submission. It isn't the first time this has happened, so I try to be as thorough as possible about checking and re-checking my work before submitting. So why do I still occasionally miss them?

My most common mistakes are using the wrong word and not eliminating all the unnecessary words during a re-edit. These types of mistakes are nearly always spotted before submitting, though sometimes I spot them when I'm sent the proof by the editor to check. But occasionally one still slips through and when that happens I tell myself I'm not a proper writer. I convince myself a real writer would make no errors and that I must be a fraud.

Does this happen to you? Have you got tried and tested methods for spotting and eliminating mistakes? Do you rely on someone else, such as your editor or critique partner, as the final line of defence?

How do you stop the Grammar Gremlins?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Tuesday Teaser (11): The Female Man & Dining In Hell

Today's Tuesday Teaser is from the Science Fiction Masterworks series I'm working my way through, and was written in 1975.

Title: The Female Man
Author: Joanna Russ

I turned into a man.
I had been a man before, but only briefly and in a crowd.

What intrigues me about this book is that it deals with gender and parallel worlds; one society with an alternate history to our own, the other where there is only one sex - the female man. My WIP Cosmic Seed also deals with the blurring of genders, so The Female Man will be an interesting read.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others.
  • Share the title and author too so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

Today's WIP Teaser is from Dining In Hell, which at 8850 words is the longest short story I've written.

“Now look here, Ruskie. I don’t know and don’t care why you and these . . .these people are here and why none of them are eating and why there’s a sign advertising the end of the world, but what I do want is some answers to some of my questions. Where is your underground bunker and how do you get us in there?” Hank waved the gun around in front of Oleg’s face and, as an afterthought, remembered to release the safety. This was not going to end well.

Dining In Hell is part of Wicked East Press's A Wicked Bag of Horror Tales Anthology and was published last week. The way the anthology came together was unusual. Each writer was asked to submit a horror story prompt and was then given someone else's prompt. The prompt I was given was, 'The run-down diner on a lost highway holds the horror within.' The final twist was that you had to write yourself into the story. The MC in my story is called Ellie and is English. Although she is quite different to me, I'd like to think I would have her survival instincts if I was ever faced with the horrors she experienced. 

Do you have any books or stories you'd like to tease us with?

Sunday, 8 May 2011

WIP Update: Choosing The Right Project

Before I talk about my WIP, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all those who commented on my New Blogging Schedule and Life-changing News post. I created a special award last year for those who comment on my blog and if you haven't already received it, I'm bestowing it upon you now.

I would also like to thank the following bloggers for giving me awards: Huntress for the Blog On Fire Award; Madeleine for the Fearless Follower Award; and Josh Hoyt and Marian Allen for The Stylish Blogger Award. If you haven't already visited their blogs, please do - you won't be disappointed.

WIP Update:

As you now know, from the 4th September I will be taking a 12-week break from work to concentrate on my writing. I have 17 weeks to plan and prepare. My biggest question at the moment is which novel do I write? I have four novel ideas, ranging from already writing to a rough outline.

Dreaming of Sleep is science fiction. I've already written 67,000 words, so it makes sense to use the 12 weeks to complete and edit it. However, I don't have the ending yet and I am worried it is too dark. It does have a romantic element to it though, and I'm torn between keeping it dark or making it lighter.

The Devil's Song is horror, and I've written just under 18,000 words. It is also fully plotted; I know every scene and how it will end. However, the POV is first person and there are several, including an unknown POV who is revealed towards the end. Is it too complicated for my first novel? Also, I'm concerned about which genre I want to hopefully be first published in. My instinct tells me it should be science fiction, though I do love horror.

Cosmic Seed (formerly Seeds of Change) is science fiction bordering on fantasy. It deals with a dying planet and its attempts to re-populate its species using alien DNA. I have a rough plot outlined and would see this as the first in a trilogy (I have an idea what direction the second and third books would take).

The Alternate (provisional title) is an alternate reality YA novel with a twist, which is in the early stages of development. The basic premise is what if in the MC's world alternate realities are accepted as the norm? Adults can move between alternate realities with ease but children are barred from crossing over. What if the teenage MC's doppelganger is in danger and only the MC can help her? How far would she go in order to save her other self?

So those are my four novel ideas. What do you think of them? Am I making the decision too complicated by dreaming up new novel ideas? Does it really matter which genre I'm first published in? As always, I would really appreciate your advice.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Friday Five: Foods Writers Are Most Likely To Eat

Let me start this post by saying I have strange dreams. Okay. Now you can read on.

Have you ever watched Family Fortunes? It's the game show where contestants from the same family are asked to pick the most common answers to a survey. For example, they might have surveyed a group of people and asked them to name items most commonly associated with Easter. The family members then take it in turns to guess the responses. Points are awarded for not only the correct answers but how popular the answer was in the survey. So if 80 out of the 100 surveyed answered eggs, and a family member guessed eggs, they win the round.

I dreamt I was on the game show earlier in the week and that the survey was 'Foods writers are most likely to eat'. I was with my mum and dad, and was the first to answer. For some reason I couldn't think of any item of food or drink. Nothing. I woke up cursing myself - the obvious answer was coffee.

As often happens after such dreams, I started thinking about what my guesses should have been. Here they are, starting with the most popular response:

1. Coffee
2. Wine
3. Chocolate
4. Muffins
5. Doughnuts

What five items would be on your list?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

New Blog Schedule and Life-changing News

If you look to the right you'll notice my blogging schedule has changed slightly. I am cutting down on the number of blog posts I write per week to allow more time for writing. My new schedule looks like this:

Tuesday - Tuesday Teaser
Wednesday - Question of the Week
Friday - Friday Five
Sunday - Work In Progress Update

I am not someone who can naturally multitask, giving my attention to several projects at the same time. You could say I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person, which is why I loved the A to Z Challenge so much. With that in mind, and my news I will reveal in a moment, I am turning my full attention to writing my novels. Whilst I will continue to blog - I couldn't go on writing without all your support - I am changing from the weekly to monthly Write 1 Sub 1 2011 challenge, which means I will only be writing one new short story per month. Also, I will no longer be taking part in Book Blurb Friday. I'd like to thank Lisa Ricard Claro for hosting the BBF meme - I'll still be there cheering from the sidelines.

Now for my exciting and potentially life-changing news:

I'm hoping this is how I'll look come September.

From September 4th I shall be taking a three month break from work to become a full time writer. For 12 whole weeks I will be concentrating all my efforts on my one of my novels without the distraction of work. I cannot begin to tell you how excited and emotional I am at the prospect, and, above all, thrilled that Mr. G believes in me enough to not raise a single objection against it.

So far I have only told family, close friends, and a few work colleagues. Apart from a couple of comments that I'm sure weren't meant to cause offence, they have all been happy and excited for me. When someone tells you they think it would be funny if you couldn't think of a single word to write during those 12 weeks you just have to laugh and curse under your breath. I guess there will always be doubters.

Over the next 18 weeks (I've started counting them down already) I'm going to be asking a lot of questions of myself and my works-in-progress, not least, which one should I concentrate on during my break? No doubt I'll be asking you all for advice on many occasions. So I want to reiterate how much all your comments mean to me, and believe me when I say I know that without them I would have given up by now. I cannot begin to re-pay you for all your support. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Tuesday Teaser (10): Touched By An Alien & The Letter

Today's Tuesday Teaser is from a book I've seen mentioned on countless blogs and Twitter posts, such is it's popularity.

Title: Touched By An Alien
Author: Gini Koch

"You know that's a crime I can be jailed for in this state? Being the wrong sex in the bathroom?"
"Humans have weird laws."

I was hooked by the humour on the back cover blurb as well: In hindsight, Kitty realized she probably should have panicked and run screaming the way everyone around her was doing. Instead she got mad, searched her purse for a weapon, and, armed with a Mont Blanc pen, sprinted into action to take down the alien.

I've cheated by giving you an extra teaser but I had to share that part of the blurb with you - it was what made me buy the book.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others.
  • Share the title and author too so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

Today's WIP Teaser is from a story called The Letter, which has just been published by Wicked East Press in their A Cup of Joe: Coffee House Flash Fiction Anthology. As writers, I'm sure we all love each and every one of our stories, but this one, written over a year ago, is a particular favourite of mine.

If someone had told me a year go I would be given a cure for truth, I would have said they were lying - funny how much your life can change.

Are there any books or stories you'd like to tease us with?

Monday, 2 May 2011

A to Z Reflections & 300 Followers Competition Winner

Thank you to Elizabeth Mueller for the award.

The A to Z Challenge has come to an end and I shall miss it. I've made lots of new blogging friends and gained over a hundred followers. I've read posts that brought tears to my eyes, others that made me laugh, even spitting out my coffee on a few occasions. I pondered topics such as beginning of the Universe and whether a Kindle could really replace my beloved books. I learnt about other bloggers lives and even more about the life of writing.

If there was one negative point about the challenge, it was that due to the large number taking part, I didn't get around to visiting every entrants blog. I feel truly sad about this and if you were one of the blogs I never visited, please accept my apologies.

To my fellow A to Z'ers, Arlee Bird, and the other bloggers who helped to run the challenge, I salute you.

Now for the big prize announcement. Using Random.org, the winner of my 300 Followers Competition and a prize of $40 (£30) in Amazon vouchers is:

Old Kitty.

As you may have noticed I also passed 400 followers during the challenge and so it seems only fitting that I should offer another prize to celebrate. But what? I asked myself. After much thought I decided the prize should be a copy of the 2013: The Aftermath anthology in which my piece of flash fiction, Hometown, appears.

Using Random.org again, the winner is:

Simon Kewin.

Congratulations to you both. I will contact you shortly to arrange your prizes.

Don't forget to visit my blog on Wednesday, I have some exciting news to share with you.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Aha. Butterfly, Butterfly!

Today is the first day of Arlee Bird's A to Z Challenge. It isn't? When Ellie said yesterday was the last day, she really meant it? Nooooooooo. What is a muse to do now?

Whilst I go sob in the corner, here's something from a band beginning with A that are sadly no more, singing a stunning song beginning with B. Can you see where I was going with this? Ellie would have been so proud.

Crank up the volume - Morton Harket, Paul Waatkaar-Savoy, and Magne Furuholmen deserve no less.

Make sure you call back tomorrow -  The Author has two competition winners to announce, and on Wednesday she will be sharing some life-changing news with you. I'm not allowed to tell you what it is but I think I'm more excited then she is.