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.

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:



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."


"You're not paying me enough attention."


"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."


"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:


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