Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Petrifying Pitches, Scary Shatner, & NaNoWriMo Nightmares

It's Halloween and I am faced with a trio of scary must-dos. I have to write a pitch, tell you about my scariest moment for the Scare Me Blogfest, and watch the final hours to NaNoWriMo creak their way downward until November 1st. I'm trying not to scream. Honest.

There is some good news, though. I've won a free first chapter critique after taking part in Writer Therapy's first blog hop. The petrifying part is when I send them the chapter, I also have to do this:

Please also include in the body of the email where you are in your manuscript (if this is complete, still a work in progress, etc), and also your short pitch of the book (query pitch or twitter pitch length, so no more than 2 paragraphs).

I've never written pitch, query or twitter length. On the positive side whilst the novel is not completed, I do have it fully plotted, which should help. I am going to spend the next few days researching how to write the perfect pitch. However, I would appreciate any tips, advice, or links to useful sites.

Now for the Scare Me Blogfest.

Budd Black over at Scifi Media wants us to 'write about the scariest book that you have read, movie you have watched, ghosts you have encountered, and/or to share your own scary story'.

I am going to cheat a little and tell you about the scariest TV programme I've ever seen - The Twilight Zone. As those who have followed me since the beginning will know, I am a huge fan of William Shatner. So when my family and I sat down to watch Nightmare at 20,000 Feet I was eagerly awaiting another of his 'unique' performances. What I didn't expect, given the amount of horror movies I've watched, was to literally scream the first time his character sees the monster through the aeroplane window. And when I say scream, I mean a proper make-everyone-else-jump scream. Of course my family found it hilarious. I spent the rest of the episode hiding behind a cushion. One day I may find the courage to watch it again. Maybe.

Now you will have to excuse me. I have to try to get some sleep before starting my first 1,667 daily word count. I'm just hoping the word-munching gremlins stay away tonight . . .

Monday, 22 October 2012

Laura Eno's The Awakening & Writer Therapy Blog Hop

Please read on for my Writer Therapy Blog Hop entry.

Today is special. It's the release day for Laura Eno's Young Adult Dark Fantasy - Wish, The Awakening.

Isn't the cover stunning? 

Here's the blurb: 

Most residents of Pine Hill shy away from seventeen-year-old Lelah without knowing why. It's the Djinn magic surging through her blood. She lives in a world where wishes are really curses, dark power meant to twist and deceive in unimaginable ways.

When a fit of temper exposes Lelah for what she really is, she must flee to a sanctuary only whispered about, before her family is exposed and enslaved by their ancient enemy. What she discovers is a treacherous path filled with power, lies, and betrayal – a path that's destined to ensnare her and destroy a civilization.

If you have time, do visit Laura's blog and help her celebrate. In the mean time, you can purchase her book at the following sites.

About the Author

Laura Eno lives in Florida with a very tolerant husband, three skulking cats and two absurdly happy dogs. After spending years immersed in college but never figuring out what she wanted to be when she grew up, she now writes novels late at night with the help of muses from the underworld. And, no, she still hasn't grown up but that's okay


Now for the Writer Therapy Blog Hop. 


This is their first blog hop and there are some awesome prizes - two random participants can choose from a 1st chapter critique, query critique, or book.

To participate, I must write a post about what I use as my writer therapy (pinterest, chocolate, a TV show, book etc) and how it helps me.

I was tempted to say Star Trek. I've been a lifelong fan and regularly re-watch episodes. Then I was going to say chocolate cream eclairs. Eclairs and Star Trek. Perfect. But truthfully, it is not a particular TV show, object, or item of food. My true writer therapy is spending time with a great friend or like-minded person. Someone whose positivity and passion for life leaves you feeling like nothing can not be achieved. Someone who motivates you to succeed, not necessarily by telling you to, but just by being there. They remind you about the good things in life. They make you see that you can do whatever you set your mind on. And, hopefully, you return the favour.

So, that is my writer therapy. What is yours?

Finally, as NaNoWriMo is only 11 days away, I am taking a brief blogging holiday to free up more time to pre-write blog posts and sort other urgent tasks. I will still be lurking around the blogosphere but my next post will not be until October 31st.  

Happy Writing.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Are You Jousting & Other News

A quick news post today, as I am prepping for NaNoWriMo. T-minus 15 days. Yikes.

Firstly, a massive thank you to everyone who has offered to help with my cover reveal and blog tour next year. If you haven't read my news and request, please click here.

Secondly, are you taking part in M. Pax's Jousting Tournament & Launch Party to celebrate the publication of The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear? You can become a (virtual) knight for the week of November 12-17th, and get given your own knight colour and special renaissance word to score jousting points with. Pop over to Mary's blog to learn more.

Thirdly, Budd at Scifi Media is hosting the Scare Me Blogfest on the 31st October, where you can post about the scariest book you've read, movie you've watched, or any other scary encounter you may have had - just as long as it's the scariest thing you've experienced. Sounds like fun to me.

Fourthly, and finally, Jadie Jones and Rachna Chhabria have tagged me for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. After looking at the questions I realised I've already taken part in this one back in September, so I won't be doing it again. Sorry disappoint. Thank you for thinking of me, though.

How has your writing week gone so far? Are you knee-high in NaNoWriMo prep? Any other news you would like to share?

Monday, 15 October 2012

Cover Reveal & Publication/Blog Tour Dates

After a lot of thought, and factoring NaNoWriMo and the festive season into the equation, I have finally decided on the publication date of the first of my ebook short story collections. Passing Time and Other Dark Fiction Stories will be published on February 11th 2013. Taking Time and Other Science Fiction Stories is tentatively scheduled for May 6th.

What I need now is your help. I am looking for people to take part in my cover reveal on January 7th and anyone who would be willing to host me during a two-week blog tour. I would like the blog tour to run Monday to Friday, from 11th to 22nd February. So, I am looking for ten blogs to host me. Even if you are unable to take part in the cover reveal or official blog tour, I would love a shout-out of any kind.

If you are interested in the cover reveal and/or blog tour, please leave a comment below or email me via my Contact Me page.

If you can blog, tweet, Facebook, or use any other social media to tell people about this, I would much appreciate it. Please feel free to use the web button I have produced for the cover reveal. I will post another for the blog tour nearer the time.

Happy Writing.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Look at that! A Writer's Challenge

 Copyright Ellie Garratt

Thanks to Summer Ross for tagging me in the "Look at that!" challenge. Here is what you have to do: Count up the 'LOOK's in your current WIP and choose your favourite three. Then post the paragraphs around the word. Then tag five writers and pass along the challenge.

I figured there would not be that many looks. I was wrong. I was shocked to find I had 95 looks (or variants of look) in the first 17,000 words of my work-in-progress, which equates to roughly 0.5% of my total word count. I feel some serious re-writing about to take place.

Choosing my three favourites was hard; I like them all. In the end I chose these:


The portal is the only entrance and exit to Hometown, and no one may enter without the Warden present. We’ve all been to the entrance during learning time; we are taken there every year by our teacher and warned of the consequences of breaking the rules. They show us pictures of how Outside used to look, with its green meadows, clear rivers, and well-ordered towns. Then we look at Outside after The Disaster. The darkened skies, yellow seas, ruined buildings, and dead bodies. I always look away. My father showed them to me when I was young and I vowed to never look at them again. Yet in all those pictures I never saw a brilliant yellow ball in the sky that gives warmth. Was it there before The Disaster or is it something new the Guardians have given us? Something deep within me is compelling me to find the answers to these questions, though I have no idea why.


I look at the floor and count how many paces from where I stand it would take me to get to the other side of the boundary; to go through the door separating one life from another. I guess twenty.


I look at Preston and Jeremiah, both silent and expressionless, staring at the scene before them, and I ask myself whether either of them really care. Do they have the same thoughts and feelings as I? Do they have a suffocating ache deep within their bodies that never seems to go away? Can they even feel hurt and sorrow?

So, that was my three favourites. I'm tagging five writers for this challenge.

Emily R. King

Happy Writing!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Update & The Future of Libraries

Before I start today's blog topic I have a few updates:

Firstly, a huge apology to David Powers King. It seems our mission to explore what makes great science fiction came to a premature end at the weekend. For those expecting to find his guest post here on October 5th, he is actually scheduled to appear in my new Speculative Fiction Writer weekly post on December 5th. Unfortunately David thought it was October 5th, and to make matters worse I did not check my email until yesterday. Sorry, David.

Secondly, I need to correct a misconception in my 'want to know a secret?' blog post. Quite a few people mistook the image I posted as my short story collection cover. It was actually Ida Jansson's designer logo. I will be doing a cover reveal for each of my two short story collections at a later date.

Thirdly, to make it easier for my writing friends to find me on NaNoWriMo, I have set up a new account in the name of EllieMGarratt.

Now on with today's post topic . . .

In Exmouth we have a small but busy library. There are three rooms - adult, children, and reference. The reference room used to contain individual desks, and I would often go there to write. However, a few years back the desks were put together to make one large table. Unfortunately, this now means you can have a person sat either side of you. When I say sat next to you, I mean sandwiched. I don't go there to write anymore because of this reason, which is a shame.

Given we are the largest town in Devon I have always believed our library should be bigger. But, like most things, everything depends on the local council's budget, and there isn't one for building a new library.

Last week I visited Paignton's library for the first time, whilst staying with Mr. M. This is a new development and one that I think sets the model for ensuring libraries continue to be a part of our community for the foreseeable future.

You see it isn't just a library; it incorporates the library, Torbay Council Connections, Devon and Cornwall Police Neighbourbood Policing Team, and Adult and Community Learning. It doesn't stop there, though. There is a coffee shop and toilets.

It is a large building, with the mostly glass frontage and inner walls ensuring it is light and airy. The library itself is split over two levels. Level one is fiction, children's books, computer access, and contains numerous seating areas. Level two, which has an open central area overlooking level one, is non-fiction. It also contains a quiet room, more computer access, and a large learning centre. Scattered around level two are alcoves with comfy chairs and tables.

My immediate reaction when walking around the library was, 'Why can't we have something like this in Exmouth?'. My second was, 'This is where I will be coming whenever I am in Paignton and Mr. M is working'. There is something about going to the library that focuses my mind on the task of writing, and if that area comes with helpful amenities, then it has to a winner in my mind.

Do you have a library like this where you live? Do you go there to write? How do you feel about libraries diversifying in this way to survive?

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Naked NaNoWriMo

I am formally declaring my intentions to take part in NaNoWriMo 2012, naked. Okay, maybe not naked. It would not be to pleasant a site. Certainly, there will be times when I spend all day in my pyjamas because getting dressed will stop me from achieving my 8000 word goal for that day - you know, the day three days before the November 30th deadline when you are still 12,000 words short of your 50,000 word goal. If you've ever done NaNo you will understand exactly what I mean.

I have the first two weeks of November as holiday. Some would argue this is not the way to do NaNo, as too much time off will lead to procrastination. But I intend to get the first draft of my young adult novel completed. No excuses.

For those of you taking part this year, here are my tips on how to survive the month:

  • Write every day if you can but allow yourself time off for good behaviour.
  • Do not expect to write the perfect first draft.
  • Let all your friends and family know your writing schedule, and stress the only time they may contact you during your writing time is in an emergency.
  • Unplug your phone and mobile.
  • Turn off your Internet connection whilst you are writing.
  • Have a selection of pre-cooked healthy meals and snacks available. 
  • Have a selection of 'I-can't-take-it-anymore' comfort foods on hand.
  • Ask family members to take care of as many of your chores as possible. Blackmail may be necessary.
  • Join your local NaNo group or an online version for support and advice.
  • Plan a completion celebration or reward.

If you are on the NaNo forums any time from now until the end, you might see me lurking. My username is shatnerstupee (Update: I have changed my username to EllieMGarratt). Yes. It did dawn on me a year after I signed up that toupee is spelt with a u. I'm still blushing over that mistake.

So, are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If so, is it your first time or are you a seasoned pro? What tips would you offer for achieving the 50,000 word target?

Monday, 1 October 2012

Want to know a secret & help choose a tagline?

Actually, there are two. Evil chuckle.

Firstly, over the last two years I have written approximately 190,000 words. Can you believe it? And that is not counting my blog posts. Have you added up your word output? You might be surprised at the number you reach.

Secondly, I am putting together two short story collections. I realised some time ago I have a plethora of short stories either now out of their one-year anthology contracts or as yet unpublished. So, after some thought and nail-biting, I have decided to self-publish two eBooks short story collections. I'm so excited I want to squeal with delight. I am also nervous about getting everything right, but I know there is an abundance of help and advice out there.

Despite my love for making mock covers, I have decided to have the covers done professionally. I have found a designer I like, Ida Jansson, and we are currently working on two book covers. These will be her first covers, so this will be a first for her as well. You can get a feel for her designs here.

Update: The image to the left is not one of the covers for my short story collections. I will be doing a cover reveal nearer to publication.

In the meantime, I am re-visiting each story to see if any editing needs to be done. Then will come the proofreading, formatting, legalities and so forth. As I do not want to be too much of a tease and leave you with nothing, I can tell you the collections will be called Passing Time and Taking Time. Passing Time will contain darker fiction and Taking Time will be purely science fiction.

Now for your help. Whilst I have the titles, I am not one hundred per cent sure about the taglines. Could you take a look and let me know what you think of the tagline for each book?

They are:



One other question, should the tagline for Passing Time be 'AND OTHER DARKER FICTION STORIES'?

Thank you for your thoughts in advance; they are always greatly appreciated. So, those are my two secrets. What about you? Are you working on anything hush hush at the moment?