Thursday, 30 June 2011

QOTW: Do you read outside of your comfort zone?


This week's Tuesday Teaser featured Storm Front by Jim Butcher, a book that fits equally well into the fantasy and crime fiction genres. I'm two thirds of the way through and finding it a fast-paced enjoyable read. It takes an extraordinary writer to mix two genres, and Butcher has succeeded where I'm sure many others would fail. But am I itching to get the second book in the series? Not really.

Until recently I'd never read crime fiction because it didn't appeal to me; it all seemed too formulaic. Bad guy kills. Main character battles killer, police force, ex-wife, and inner demons, before solving the crime. I'm sure many of you will recommend books to challenge my views, and perhaps I've watched too many TV detectives shows?

I am not saying the crime genre is bad. It's just not for me. But the point here is that I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and learned something in the process -  I learnt what doesn't work for me. Next week I could read a bodice-ripper and find I don't like that either. Or I might find I love it. I might discover a new genre, full of thousands of books just waiting to be read. But how will I know unless I try?

How about you? Do you read outside of your comfort zone?

Have you read something from a genre you previously avoided and found it re-affirmed your reasons for avoiding it? Or did it open up a whole new fictional world you wished you'd discovered earlier?

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Tuesday Teaser (17): Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Today's Tuesday Teaser is another book recommended by a work colleague, and unlike anything I've read before.

Title: Storm Front (The Dresden Files)
Author: Jim Butcher

Have you ever been approached by a grim-looking man, carrying a naked sword with a blade about ten miles long in his hand, in the middle of the night, beneath the stars on the shores of Lake Michigan? If you have, seek professional help.

Storm Front is the first in a series of books featuring Chicago's first and only Wizard P.I. I don't normally read crime novels, but a series of crime novels featuring wizards and magic intrigued me. If I like the first book there are 12 more to follow, and a thirteenth coming later in the year. I'm six chapters in and finding it an enjoyable read. I'm not at the 'wow-what-an-amazing-book' stage yet, though it has made me laugh out loud in a few places. I'll reserve final judgement for when I finish it.

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

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

Sunday, 26 June 2011

WIP Update: Cosmic Seed Book One - A Title & Blurb

Having to take it easy over the last few days gave me time to think about my summer writing goals. Number two on my list was writing a back cover blurb for the first book in my Cosmic Seed Trilogy. So, with the aid of pen and paper, here is the back cover blurb for Book One, Daughters Of Velika:


Velika. Once home to a million. Now just a few thousand Velikians remain; the seed of life nearing depletion. They await the birth of an heir to the planet as foretold by the Prophets and preached by the Keepers of Velika – a son born during the time of the Darkening who will re-seed all men.

But the Keepers lie. A daughter was born to the House of Velika, threatening to expose the preachings of the Prophets as false. So her birth was kept secret, and the Keepers ordered to find another way to replenish the life-giving seed.

Only one Keeper can make it happen. Only one Keeper can stand in their way. She is Kaylan, last child of Velika.

So, there it is. As always, I'd love to know what you think.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Friday Fun: Feeling Hungry, Writers?

I wrote this post a while ago and was saving it for a rainy day - I decided that day was today. My new migraine medication is messing with my sense of balance. Under known side-effects it lists low blood pressure causing dizziness, light-headedness, and fainting. Whoopee. Which is worse, the migraine or the medication?

Okay. Enough with the self-pity.

Feeling hungry? Please select three courses from the menu below or ask to see the Procrastinator Specials.


Starters:

Fried Green Dictionary

Stuffed notebooks on a bed of pencil shavings

Adverbs smothered in a delete-button sauce


Main Courses:

Slow roasted plot with light conflict

Pan fried fillet of protagonist, with antagonist vegetable medley

Steamy stir-fry of sexy characters


Desserts:

Re-constituted word soufflé

Spotted word pudding with proofreading custard

Agent Surprise


Complimentary Coffee:



We hope you enjoy your meal, and are always happy to take suggestions for new dishes.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

QOTW: Do you judge a book by it's cover?

It's been six days since my horrendous migraine and I'm still feeling unwell. I had an emergency doctors appointment yesterday and he's signed me off work until the 29th. I hate feeling unwell and I hate being off work, but sometimes we get little choice in the matter. My only consolation in all of this is that blogging can be done sitting down and without expending too much energy.

So on to my Question of the Week post.


When I checked Brenda Drake's blog this morning, and found my What Katy Did At School cover redesign has been chosen as a semi-finalist, it got me thinking again about how important to sales it can be to get the right book cover.

When I choose a book the cover plays only a small part in helping me to decide whether to buy it. Usually, I go to the science fiction, fantasy, or horror section, and unless I've already read a book by an author, it's the back cover blurb that helps me decide. If it excites, teases, or grabs my attention, I'll read the first few lines of the first page. If that does the same thing as the blurb, I'll buy the book. Even if I hate the cover, I'll still buy the book. The only time a cover plays a part in the process is when they sometimes have books facing cover forward, and a startlingly or unique cover draws me in.

I'm not sure if I am in the minority, average, or majority when choosing my books this way, but I have seen instances where the cover has influenced sales. For example, Talli Roland's Hating Game was doing good sales when it first came out but the publisher was concerned it wasn't reaching it's target market. They took the decision to change the cover and the sales immediately increased. She sold four times as many on the first day the new cover was used. So potential readers where judging the book by it's cover.

How about you? Do you judge a book by it's cover? How important a part does the cover play when you choose a book?

If you've published a book or are about to, are you satisfied the cover appeals to your target market? Would you consider changing it if sales weren't as strong as you hoped? Have you changed it? What was the outcome of that change?

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Tuesday Teaser (16): The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Apologies to anyone looking for the Favourite Book Challenge Blogfest. As I'm still not feeling one hundred per cent, I am no longer taking part.

Today's Tuesday Teaser comes from a book recommended to me by Madeleine at Scribble and Edit. Actually, she put it in my hand and made me buy it. I'm glad she did, though.

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness

Ben says there used to be other settlements scattered around New World, that all the ships landed about the same time, ten years or so before I was born, but that when the war started with the spacks, when the spacks released the germs and all the other settlements were wiped out, that Prentisstown was nearly wiped out, too, that it only survived cuz of Mayor Prentiss's army skills and that even tho Mayor Prentiss is a nightmare coming and going, we at least owe him that, that cuz of him we survive alone on a whole big empty womanless world that ain't got nothing good to say for itself, in a town of 146 men that dies a little more with every day that passes. Cuz men can't take it, can they?

The first thing to say about this book is that there are a lot of long sentences at the beginning. The second is that it features a talking dog. So when I first started reading it yesterday, I was not at all sure I'd like it. Now I'm 162 pages in and don't want to put it down. I need to know more about this strange world, the 13-year old main character Todd, and even his talking dog, Manchee. If you're near a book store, find a copy and read the first few sentences - you'll be hooked.

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

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

Sunday, 19 June 2011

WIP Update: The Neglectful Author & DOOM

My friends, Mr. G said something to me Wednesday night that I was dreading hearing: "Since you started writing your novel you've become very serious. It's like you are always thinking about it."

I thought I was doing a great job of not thinking about it all the time. The one thing I don't want to do is neglect our time together, or make him feel as if I'm not really there. I no longer go on the computer in the evenings when I get in from work, and when we have a day off I try not to spend too much time writing or blogging. Obviously, I'm failing.

Now I know Mr. G would never try to stop me writing, and he has been a constant source of support and encouragement. But I don't want him to start feeling resentful either. I guess this is a problem most writers with non-writing partners face, and to a certain extent he'll just have to get used to it if I want to become a full-time writer. But doesn't that make me sound selfish?

Have you experienced this problem? How do you ensure you're not shutting yourself off from the people who really matter?


Changing the subject, the wonderful  L.G. Smith passed on the Blog Award Of DOOM to me. I have to admit I did nearly beg for this one; anything to do with DOOM appeals to me. Not quite sure what that says about my state of mind?

The award was created by the fabulous Sarah McCabe, and comes with rules:
  1. When you receive the Blog Award of DOOM your task is to post a short selection of your writing, 100-300 words, in which your favorite character suffers a horrible fate. It can be your favorite character from your own writing or from something you've read, it can be from a finished manuscript, a WIP or something you just made up on the spot. Your choice, but it has to be full of DOOM.
  2. Pass it on to one other blogger and let them know their DOOM has come.
  3. Remember that the person who passed the award on to you also received it as well. Go back to their post to read and comment on their writing sample. Make sure to thank them for sending the DOOM your way.
  4. Whenever you use the word DOOM in your post, you must capitalize the whole thing.
What to choose? For a change, here's a piece of flash fiction.

Coming For You

It is a simple matter of finding your weakness, then charting a path to your withered soul and holding fast.

When I find you I will dig my claws in and smile a joyless grin, and carve names upon your forehead for all to read. Beelzebub. Lucifer. Devil. No one will fail to see the evil hidden within you – it will shine like the death throes of a dying star and reveal the truth of the insidious darkness within your soul. It will envelope you until all that remains is the faint echo of your destruction.

I will take back what was stolen – my life for yours. You won’t be laughing then.

You made me and I’m coming for you.

I'm passing the award onto Madeleine at Scribble and Edit, as I know she will bring her own unique vision and descriptive powers to the word DOOM.

Update 19th June: I had a severe migraine on Friday and ended up in hospital. My long-term blog readers will probably remember I collapsed last November and had to be taken to A & E (ER for my American friends). The same thing happened again at work - I couldn't speak and my left side was weak for several hours. It wasn't a stroke and I've already had an MRI, so it's nothing nastier. I'm okay now, except I feel really weak down my left side still.

I was going to cancel this blog post, but as it was already pre-written I decided to leave it. If you are taking part in The Grapes of Wrath Blogfest, and I haven't visited your entries yet, I promise I will visit them as soon as I feel up to it.

Friday, 17 June 2011

The Grapes Of Wrath Blogfest & Competition

I'm taking part in The Grapes Of Wrath Blogfest today, hosted by the wonderful Brenda Drake. It features prizes. Really awesome prizes. The winner will receive a professional cover art design by CA Marshall. Can you get a prize much better than that? Two other entrants will also win a surprise.

All you have to do is redesign a book cover - your own or any book you like. It can be funny or dead serious. Sign up to the linky on Brenda's blog, and post it on your blog today.

My entry was inspired by a childhood love of the What Katy Did books - only I added a murderous twist. In my version Katy went on a murderous rampage at boarding school. Think Battle Royale does St. Trinians.

Image purchased from Canstockphoto.com

Don't forget to visit the other participants.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

QOTW: Have you ever ignored a book recommendation and regretted it?


Mr. G doesn't read fiction. Ever. His does read plenty of non-fiction, but here's the strange thing - if I recommend a non-fiction book to him he won't read it. Don't ask me why. Perhaps it's because he thinks it will be like fiction if I've read it. I assure him it's called non-fiction for a reason but he never listens.

A couple of years ago I read The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. Whilst it is the best-selling account of the Andrea Gail which inspired the Hollywood film, it is so much more than that. Junger writes not only about the crew, but the communities surrounding them, and the brave men and women who put their lives in peril to man the search and rescue missions. I know Mr. G would enjoy this book. I've tried not recommending it and leaving it out, but that doesn't work. There's no fooling him.

The problem is I've done the same thing myself and ignored book recommendations. Sometimes I've given in and tried a book and hated it. Other times I've been left wondering how I could have been so silly as to ignore the book for so long. Was I being stubborn or just stupid? I'm not sure.

Have you ever ignored a book recommendation, only to read it and regret that it took you so long?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Tuesday Teaser (15): Eye In The Sky by Philip K. Dick

Today's Tuesday Teaser comes from a master of the science fiction genre.

Title: Eye In The Sky
Author: Philip K. Dick

Tiny sun, tiny stars, the great obese blob of an Earth, swollen and bloated, occupying dead center. That was true here - that was the way this universe was run.

This is only the second Philip K. Dick book I've read, after being a little disappointed by Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? To be fair I think my disappointment in the first book was due to seeing Bladerunner numerous times, and the film being somewhat different from the novel.

A work friend has been suggesting I read as many of Dick's books as possible, and given that I ignored his suggestion to read Jasper Fforde's Tuesday Next series for a long time, and then kicked myself for having not listened to him earlier, I decided I ought follow his advice. I found Eye in the Sky in a bargain bookshop and it seemed like a great place to start. I'm three chapters in and finding it an infinitely better read.

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

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

Sunday, 12 June 2011

WIP Update: Was it something I said?



"I don't like this ending."

"Don't like it? Why?"

"I died."

"Well, I'm afraid the plot called for it."

"But I was hoping to appear in the sequel."

"We've been over this before - there is no sequel to Dreaming of Sleep."

"That's easy for you to say, but you're not a minor character with aspirations of becoming the main antagonist."

"I'm sorry. I really am."

"What about a part in Cosmic Seed?"

"No."

"Why?"

"Characters can't just move between unrelated novels. Besides, you'd have to travel through time to reach Velika."

"That could be done. You do write science fiction."

"Yes. But it still has to be believable."

"Oh."

"If it helps, you really were one of my favourite characters to write. If you were real, and there was no Mr. G, I might have asked you to perform a level one diagnostic, if you know what I mean. Wink, wink."

"Ah. I . . .I . . .need to check on some of my dialogue in chapter three. Nice talking to you again, Author."

"Damn. Was it something I said?"

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Friday Fun: Tagged

Prolific bloggers and talented writers Denise and Donna K. Weaver have tagged me. There are eight things I have to do for this tag. Here they are:

1. Do you think you're hot?

Well I don't want to give too much away, but the Sun is out, all the windows are open, and I'm naked. Just kidding. It's warm here in South Devon today, so I'm a bit hot.

2. Upload a picture or wallpaper you're using at the moment.


This is the image I cropped and used for Cosmic Seed's mock cover, and it's there to remind me what my new focus is.

3. When was the last time you ate chicken meat?

Last night. Mr. G and I had KFC.

4. The song you listened to recently.

I'll let you in on a little secret. Mr. G is a film score fan and Time Is Like A Dream by Georges Delerue was a big part of the inspiration behind my science-fiction novel Dreaming of Sleep.



5. What were you thinking when you were doing this?

I was lost in the lyrics and haunting vocal, and daydreaming as usual.

6. Do you have nicknames? What are they?

Elliebum or Smelly Ellie are the common names. I'd like to point out I don't have a large bum and I certainly don't smell. Elliebum was the name my stepson gave me when he was young and it's stuck ever since. Smelly Ellie just rhymes.

7. Tag eight bloggers.

Gosh. Has anyone any idea of how many people have already been tagged? A lot. I'm going to list eight and hope they haven't already been tagged:

Maria Zannini
iZombie
Martin T. Ingham
Tony Benson
Dorothy Evans
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Milo James Fowler
Simon Kewin

8. A few questions about your tagged friends . . .

Who's listed as number one?

Maria Zannini is an extradionary science fiction romance writer, who is also generous with her time and support of aspiring writers.

Say something about number five.

I met Dorothy during NaNoWriMo last year and we live in the same town. I was supposed to meet up with her on my last holiday and had to cancel. Sorry, Dorothy.

How did you get to know number three?

I met Martin during the A to Z Challenge and have just finished reading his brilliant sci-fi novel, The Guns Of Mars.

How about number four?

I also met Tony during NaNoWriMo last year and he is a fellow sci-fi writer. Both he and his wife Margo are an inspiration to us all. I'm also a little jealous that they both write fiction; it must be wonderful to have someone there all the time to support and encourage you.

Leave a message for number six.

Just what the heck does the J in Alex J. Cavanaugh stand for?

Leave a lovey-dovey message for number two.

Jeremy and I are husband and wife in an alternate reality, so I'm just reminding him how much I want a pet zombie for my birthday or I'll be contacting a divorce lawyer. Oops . . .that's not really lovey-dovey. Sorry. I don't do those kinds of messages!

Do numbers seven and eight have any similarities?

Milo and Simon run the Write 1 Sub 1 challenge, and are both prolific writers. If you need a weekly shot of motivation, join them on the 2011 W 1 S 1 challenge.

Well, there are my answers. Thank you again to Denise and Donna for tagging me. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

QOTW: Who inherits the publishing rights to your writing?

I'm addressing a sensitive topic today - who inherits the publishing rights to your writing should the worst happen?

A few weeks ago I read a newspaper article about Stieg Larrson and the battle for ownership of his writing. It seems Larrson died without leaving a will that stated his partner, Eva Gabrielsson, should inherit publishing rights. Because he was not married to his partner of 32 years it passed to his legal next of kin - his brother and father. This means Gabrielsson has not benefited financially from the huge success of his novels.

My situation is quite similar to Larrson. Mr. G and I are not married (I can call him Mr. G because his surname is Grant), and because I was fostered, I have no contact with my biological family. Legally my next of kin are my brother, who I've never met, and my sister who I have not seen in ten years. There is no way I want either to inherit publishing rights to my work.

It seems clear to me I need to make provision in my will to address this issue, so that Mr. G would inherit the rights should I pass away. However, it would also be prudent to name another person, should Mr. G already be dead. At this stage I have no idea who.

All this might seem morbid and perhaps a little egotistical - after all, I've not yet published a novel. But is it? Have you asked yourself who would inherit the publishing rights should you die? Is there provision in your will to ensure the right person or people benefit?

I recognise this is a difficult and very personal matter, so I'm not looking for people to tell me the contents of their wills, rather to highlight a topic you may not yet have considered important enough to address. Maybe you are like a lot of people I know, who won't make a will for fear of tempting death. Maybe you believe the worst will never happen. Unfortunately, it can.

I will be back on Friday, when I promise the post will be more light-hearted.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Tuesday Teaser (14): The Guns Of Mars by Martin T. Ingham

Today's Tuesday Teaser comes from a science fiction writer I met during this year's A to Z Challenge.

Title: The Guns Of Mars
Author: Martin T. Ingham

"When the time is right, the Martian colonies are going to declare their Independence from their Earth governments. Those of us on Villas Colony, and our counterparts here at Eridania, shall forge the basis of a new utopia," she said with rapture.

"How will you get our people on board? Teleport all thirty thousand colonists?"




I had several reasons for choosing this book: I was thrilled to find Martin Ingham, another science fiction writer and kindred spirit if you like. I'd also seen The Guns Of Mars whilst submitting short stories to various Pill Hill Press anthologies, and was planning to read a few of their novels to see if the standard was as high as for their anthologies. It seemed logical therefore to read Martin's book first.

I started reading it last night and I couldn't put it down - I'm already a third of the way through. I don't usually spend more than hour or two reading at a time, so for me to be this far into a book in just one sitting says a tremendous amount about how much I am enjoying it. The Guns Of Mars is the kind of sci-fi novel I want to write and see published, and I highly recommend it to all science fiction fans.

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?

Monday, 6 June 2011

Second Summer in the City Blogfest

If you are looking for the It's All Fun & Games Blogfest, please see the blog post immediately before this one.


I haven't moved to a big city and there's no Central Park where I live, but when I read this on Bess Weatherby's blog, 'All I knew was that I needed a job, I wanted to write, and New York seemed like the place to go,' and her plans to celebrate her one-year anniversary in New York, I knew I wanted to share some of her passion and take part in the Second Summer in the City Blogfest. Plus, I might not have a large park but I do have a two-mile stretch of beach to spend my summer on. 

The rules for the blogfest are:
  • Sign up
  • Follow her blog
  • On June 6, post two things: what your current WIP looks like and what your writing goals are for the summer

Sounds like a fun way to set some achievable writing goals, doesn't it?

My current WIP

At 73,259 words, I am 81% through writing the first draft of my science fiction NaNoWriMo novel, Dreaming of Sleep. This is my first attempt at writing a novel, and I've made plenty of mistakes along the way and learnt an incredible amount.

I know now that whilst I cannot 'pants' may way through a novel, with no real idea of the plot, too much plotting stifles my creative juices. Writing for me is an organic process - chapter by chapter, scene by scene, the characters themselves telling the story, and it would be unwise to ignore them. Writing Dreaming of Sleep has almost felt like it had two identities - the limitless free version I should be writing and it's awkward pre-plotted sister.

When I reach the 90,000 word limit, Dreaming of Sleep will be temporarily shelved. I'm not giving up on it; I've decided to focus my attention on the novel I feel most passionate about and wish to see published first, Cosmic Seed. I'm also hoping the lessons I've learnt from Dreaming of Sleep will help make it a better novel.


My writing goals for the summer

As my regular readers will know, from the 4th September I will be on a 12-week break from work to write the first book in my Cosmic Seed Trilogy. I do not intend to start writing it before then, rather I am going to use the next 12 weeks to prepare myself for my work break. I'd also like to enjoy the summer weather (safely), when work commitments don't prevent me from visiting the beach and the beautiful Devon countryside.

My writing goals are:
  • Complete the first draft of Dreaming of Sleep.
  • Create a collage for Cosmic Seed, include a mock cover, back cover blurb, and tagline.
  • Start a file for all ideas relating to Cosmic seed - characters, world building, scenes, and so on. 
  • Complete or re-write all outstanding short stories, and submit them to appropriate markets.
  • Continue with my Write 1 Sub 1 monthly challenge.

So, those are my summer writing goals. I hope you enjoyed reading them and I'm looking forward to reading yours. Don't forget to visit the other participants.

It's All Fun & Games Blogfest


"Two blogfests in one day?", I hear you say. Resistance is futile when it comes to the mighty Alex J. Cavanaugh. The date is June 6th. The place is Bloggerland. The blogfest is It's All Fun & Games. Here's how to take part:

List your three most favourite games and why. Board games, card games, RPG, video games, physical games, drinking games - even mind games! If it's a game you enjoy playing, it's worth sharing.

Drinking games, eh? Mind games? Muhahaha. Here are my top three games:

Fizz Buzz

I'm sure most of you have played a version of this drinking game during
your younger years - it has been many, many years since I played Fizz Buzz, but what joyful memories of friendship and hangovers it brings back.

The object of the game is for a group of friends (four or more is better) to count from one onwards, going around the group. Except for the number three and multiples of three, you must say fizz. For the number five and multiples of five, you must say buzz. Anyone who says the number, and not fizz or buzz, must have a drink.

For example group members should count out the following: one, two, fizz, four, buzz, fizz, seven, eight, fizz, buzz. Seems easy enough, doesn't it? It's not. The more answers you get wrong, the more drinks you have, and the harder it gets to say the right answer. Eventually you have to give up.


The Café Game

Given that I'm a writer, and therefore listen avidly to other people's conversations, you might think it's a bit hypercritical when I say nothing annoys me more than people listening in on mine. I'm like that sometimes. Anyway, Mr. G and I devised The Café Game to stop people ear-wigging, which works something like this:

You notice two old ladies are listening in on your private conversation and Café Game rules insist you must make them leave without asking them to. So you ask Mr. G how his rash is these days. Mr. G states that it is as virulent and contagious as ever. "In fact", he say, whilst pointing at his tea cup, "if the café staff did not ensure his cup was thoroughly cleaned there was a risk of another customer catching the virus." The two old ladies, looking suitably alarmed, leave. Game successfully completed.

As you can imagine, there is plenty of scope for other versions of this game - Bar Stool Game, Front Of The Queue Game, and Swimming Lane To Yourself Game are quite handy.


Horace Goes Skiing

Who remembers the Commodore 64 and Horace Goes Skiing? I thought it was the best thing ever. Little Horace, barely a few pixels in size, trying to cross a busy road and navigate a ski course. To a teenager growing up in the non-computing era, it was amazing. Even better, if you got hold of the right manual, you could programme your own games. It usually took several hours and rarely worked, but how clever you thought you were when it did.

So those are my three favourite games. I hope you won't be too alarmed by the second. I'll leave you with my friend Horace and some witty commentary.



Don't forget to visit the other participants.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

WIP Update: Pantsers CAN Prep

Post-it Heaven For Stationery Addicts

When it comes to writing I am an unashamed pantser. I do the minimum amount of plotting required and let the story write itself. For me, writing is an organic process. If I work out all the elements in detail - plot, chapters, scenes - the writing that follows feels awkward and forced.

With my first novel, Dreaming Of Sleep, I spent two days during the second week of NaNoWriMo working out a detailed plot. I did the opposite to when I write a short story because I discovered writing a novel is a lot harder; there are so many elements to balance, such as characters and timelines. I've been trying to work from that plot ever since but it has never felt a comfortable process. I do not want to repeat this method with my Cosmic Seed trilogy.

I have a basic idea of the plot for all three books - where I want them to start and finish. I know who most of the main and minor characters are for the first book, but I could fit all this information onto two sides of paper. My instinct is telling me not to plot Cosmic Seed in detail; my rational brain is telling me to find other ways to prepare or I'll mess up.

These are some of the ideas I've had so far:
  • Create a mock cover (done).
  • Write a back cover blurb (working on).
  • Write a tagline.
  • Create a collage of visual and written prompts, including the mock cover and blurb.
  • Start a file or notebook for all ideas related to the book(s). Sub-divide into key elements - plot, characters, and so on.
  • Get to know my characters by asking them questions. Create a character C.V.
  • World build. As the two planets of Velika and Vita are central to the first book, get a detailed picture of what both worlds are like. How alien are they to Earth? How different are they from each other?

Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something in between? Do you know of any other ways a pantser can prepare without stifling their creativity?

Friday, 3 June 2011

Friday Fun: Blogger Problem Resolved & Dust Elimination

A huge thank you to Belle for suggesting I download Google Chrome to solve my blogging problems. I have, and I can now comment. Hurrah.

So on with today's blog post: The Write Steps To Dust Elimination

You know you want a pair!

  1. Ignore dust until it reaches letter-tracing levels.
  2. Use sleeve of top to make a token effort to wipe it away.
  3. Calculate the time it would take to get up from chair, walk over to cleaning supplies, and bring them back, as being greater than the time needed to calculate the time it would take and thus decide it would take too long.
  4. Decide that as dead skin accounts for 80% of all dust, it would be easier if humans had reptilian skin, which they would shed just once a year. Then realise it would not be ideal for the whole population of a country to shed their skin at the same time, as other countries might take advantage of the populations' indisposed state. Worse still, if the whole of Earth's population shed their skin at the same time aliens could invade.
  5. Forget about the dust; you've now got a brilliant new story featuring reptilian humans and alien invaders to write.

Any one else experience moments like this?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

QOTW: Hollywood Haiku Runner-up! Do you Haiku?


I had a wonderful surprise waiting for me yesterday afternoon when I read my emails - one of my entries was a runner-up for the Best For Film Hollywood Haiku Competition. Even more thrilling was that my friend and fellow blogger, Madeleine Maddocks, was also a runner-up.

Madeleine is the person I credit for inspiring me to write Haikus, and even took the time to let me know about the competition. She also takes part in a weekly Haiku meme, Sensational Haiku Wednesday.

The way in which the competition was run, and the professionalism of the Best For Film site, was a refreshing experience - I've entered competitions where little was communicated after it had ended, and even been left wondering which of my entries made it through certain rounds. Should they hold any further competitions, I shall definitely be entering.

You can read both our runner-up entries here.

Do you Haiku? I would love to read about your experiences with this form of Japanese poetry, and any places you have submitted it to.

If you haven't, what about it has put you off trying?