I've been busy. I've been meaning to blog for ages - my last post (that wasn't a book release guest post) was on 2 November, when I announced my intention to take part alongside NaNoWriMo.
Two days later, I was offered the opportunity to include extra short stories in my collection with Vine Leaves Press next year. So I got busy with that - writing and rewriting - and didn't actually get anywhere near the 500 pages I was hoping to. I do, however, now have four new stories and another couple in very early-idea stage.
I've got a couple of other exciting things in the pipeline, but they're not relevant at the moment. I'll be sharing some time in the New Year, though.
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There has been much excitement in the Crawford household over the new Star Wars film. Yesterday, we spent the day watching all the previous films apart from Episode I. We followed what's known as the Machete Order, where you watch IV, V, II, III, VI - missing out the first one entirely because it's pointless.
I first heard about this order in an episode of The Big Bang Theory, but apparently - with acknowledgement to my librarian friend who has to research everything! - it dates from a blog post written in 2011. If you're curious, the blog post is an interesting read, and explains things much better than I can (mostly because it's 4600 words long!)
We will be watching Episode VII on Saturday. We've had our tickets for ages!
It's my absolute pleasure to have Rena Rocford on my blog today, celebrating the launch of her new book. I've known Rena for a long time through our blogs, and I'm delighted she's finally achieved her ambition to get her first book published. May there be many more!
Thanks for hosting a stop along my book release blog tour, Annalisa!
Unicorns aren't always nice.
People always want to know where an idea for a book comes from, but the truth is, they come from many different places, and my book was no different. When I built the world around my story, I started with one little idea:
We've stereotyped mythical creatures. People talk about how dogs have lots of personality, or cats are so different from each other (though, all cats are convinced my keyboard is the holy grail of nap locations!) but no one ever talks like that about dragons. If you look up dragons, there's a pretty good set of cranky, dangerous, cantankerous, do not approach do not approach types. Literature is littered with these great reptiles, their greed a tangible thing that burns inside them as they brood over their gold.
Which made me think about what it would be like if dragons were more like a roaming people, drifters, and less sit-in-one-place-and-have-gems-and-coins-fuse-into-your-scales kind of people. But almost as soon as I thought about dragons as being their polar opposite, it hit me: What about all the other mythical creatures?
What would happen if unicorns were lawyers and doctors? What if all of the gryphons had tight knit family groups? And then, as I always do, I started building a world around these ideas. What if Centaurs were really like cowboys, and what if all the different kinds of creatures were as suspicious of each other as different religious groups are? One idea led to another, and eventually, the plot bunnies showed up to take over.
And now, the manuscript that started out by wondering what it would be like if unicorns were lawyers is a book! Check it out, here!
Allyson fights acne, not trolls. As an inhaler-carrying
member of the asthma society, she just wants to meet the father who turned her
mother into a paranoid, move-across-the-nation freak. Now she’s trying to fit
in at yet another school, but for the first time in her life, she has a best
friend, Beth. When Allyson accidentally spits fire at kidnappers in the mall,
she realizes why her father isn’t in the picture: she’s half dragon. Her acne?
Emerging scales. Her asthma? The side effects of her dragon’s fire breath.
Instead of freaking out, unflappable Beth reveals her own troll heritage and
explains how things work with the supernatural creatures hiding within the
modern world of smartphones and skyscrapers.
When trolls kidnap a unicorn, Beth gets
blamed. Allyson is determined to prove Beth’s innocence and keep her friend off
the unicorn chopping block. When they start looking for the kidnappers, they
get a call from the last person they expect: Allyson’s father. He tries to warn
them off, but he’s been put under a spell by the kidnappers to keep the victims
from escaping. Nothing short of death can stop him. Now Allyson must choose
between killing the father she’s always dreamed of, or letting her best friend
die for a crime she didn’t commit.
Like most mad scientists, Rena Rocford’s early works were
largely met with scorn and mockery, but she bided her time. After all, what did
her fellow kindergarteners know about literature? From that day forward, Rena
kept her writing on the mythical back burner as she pursued more logical goals.
Today, crayons. Tomorrow, the world. She moved on to essays and egg drops, then
experiments in shady laboratories.
Living as a muggle brought Rena some levels of success,
procuring a master’s degree from a well vetted university, but always the
stories returned, calling her to the keyboard in the dark of night. Now, having
built armies from words, Rena has set her sights on world domination, one book
at a time.
From her secret base in the wine country, Rena has enlisted
the help of her cats, her loyal dogs, and her family―who can be relied upon to
hide the launch codes at a moment’s notice. You can find Rena at her blog,
follow her on Twitter, or find her on Facebook. Her debut novel, Acne, Asthma,
And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon just released with Curiosity Quills. You
can find it here on Goodreads, or buy it here!
Lucy Hayes has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime – a chance to go on tour with the UK’s fastest rising rock band, Razes Hell.
Lucy Hayes has been in love with Razes Hell’s frontman, Jason Brooks, for as long as she can remember. While most women see him only as a rock god, Lucy sees the real Jason. But will that be enough to make him see her as the adult she is, or is she destined to remain the baby sister of his best friend forever?
When Lucy bags an invite to join Razes Hell on their Europe and U.S tour, she is under no illusions about where she fits in Jason’s life. She’s the girl next door, too young to ever catch his attention. However, when Lucy is the first to notice Jason’s struggle to keep his cocaine addiction in check while out on the road, the pair grow closer, and Lucy thinks she might be about to make her dreams come true.
But how can it ever work out? With an age gap against them, not to mention concerned family and friends stating their opinions, and the media turning something beautiful into something sinister, they are fighting an impossible battle.
Everybody Knows there’s something between Lucy and Jason, but will their feelings be enough to keep them afloat, or will their feelings tear apart everything they hold dear?
Kyra is a self-confessed book-a-holic, and has been since she first learned to read. When she's not reading, you'll usually find her hanging out in coffee shops with her trusty laptop and/or her friends, or girling it up at the nearest shopping mall.
Kyra grew up on the South Coast of England and refuses to move away from the seaside which provides massive inspiration for her novels. Her debut novel, Game On (New Adult Contemporary Romance), was released in July 2012, and she scored her first Amazon Top 20 listing with her New Adult novella, If I Let You Go in November.
As part of my occasional series of How-To guest posts, and as part of his blog tour for his new book Revival, I've asked Mark Koopmans "How the heck do you write a memoir?"
I flew over the pond to hang with Annalisa,
who’s been jolly good (wot wot) in letting me park the REVIVAL – The
Donald Braswell story Tour bus in her front yard. (The damage to the fence looks mainly
cosmetic, don’t you think?) Apart from the damage to her property, Annalisa
wondered about how do you even start writing a memoir? With the power of hindsight, it’s easy to see (at
the beginning) I wouldn’t have been able to answer that question! First thing I did know, in this case, was to get
Donald on board. The poor man was naturally hesitant to commit, and I don’t
blame him. I was a stranger on the phone with a weird Irish accent who wanted
to write his life story for free. (I’m sure he was waiting for a punch line, or
an offer to buy a really nice bridge
in Brooklyn.) I had tons of journalistic experience, written
hundreds of articles, reports and stories, and I was passionate about REVIVAL
from the get go. However, once the project was on, I totally worked on a wing
and a paragraph until Donald and I had a full set of interviews
recorded/written down. My wonderful OCD could then see the “big picture.” I later found a beginning (which took a long time) and “the end,” which allowed
me to tighten things up. (Later, I added a lot more to the earlier part of the
story, but beta readers said the story was slow-moving. I listened, cut 10,000
words (cried, went into the fetal position for a while), but the eventual
finished manuscript was (and is) one that makes me very proud. When I conceived the idea, I had no idea how
REVIVAL would become a labor of love, and I’m so glad to announce my “baby” was
born earlier this month!
Thanks Annalisa for hosting me and Happy Friday
everyone! On Monday, I’ll be back stateside with Carrie Butler who looking for tips on interviewing guests.
Five years removed from his 1990 Juilliard graduation, Donald Braswell is set to be “the next Pavarotti.” Braswell’s successful career ends, however, not with a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall, but alone, lying in a dirty ditch.
Following the hit-and-run accident that steals his voice and future, the “Texas Tenor” struggles with depression and despair—until the night his daughter, Aria, is born. Understanding this new and immediate life change, Braswell fights to relearn how to speak, sing—and share this gift of second chances with others.
Working as a plasterer, a car salesman, and many jobs in-between, it takes thirteen years—and a musical miracle—for Braswell to battle back and sing on a professional stage. His dreams and ambitions collide with a tired and angry crowd when he auditions for America’s Got Talent. For his family, his faith and his entire future, can the Rocky Balboa of the operatic world find the courage and strength to win just one more fight?
Mark Koopmans is originally from Ireland. After working in Holland, Spain, France and England, he won his U.S. “Green Card” in 1994, and is an American by choice since 2003. Koopmans began his writing career with a feature for a regional magazine in California. Since then, he’s worked as a staff writer for newspapers in Florida and Texas. Koopmans is also a proficient blogger and is working on his next book, a novel. Koopmans lives in Virginia and is a married, stay-at-home dad to three active boys under the age of nine. He writes at night. Mark blogs here and Tweets here.
I did NaNo a couple of years ago. I won, and I have the proof - it's in my large chest table in my living room and, although I've often considered doing something with it, I haven't touched it for over a year.
It took a lot of time and energy, and my kids needed me every time I reached a crucial scene. I swear it became the busiest month of the whole year! I haven't even considered doing it again.
I'm not going to sign up, because I've decided to take away the word count element. Instead, I'm going to write pages. 500 of them.
For some reason, I started writing my new project on used/old scrap paper in giant writing. On average I'm probably writing slightly more than 100 words on each page.
500 pages, 100 words each... You see where I'm going with this, don't you?
I'm only a day behind the official participants, but I've started off quite solidly. And perhaps, if I'm focusing on the length, I won't focus on the story, on how silly it is, on how I have to start again because it's so awful, on how I need to have the perfect word in order to move on.
So, that's my November taken care off, what are you up to?
Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo or cheering others on from the sidelines?
And importantly, what snacks should I stock up on?
The giveaway finished on Friday afternoon, but due to work and other stuff (I edited and submitted a short story last night), I didn't get around to picking the winners until just a moment ago.
Drum roll please...
(BTW this draw had pictorial evidence, but Blogger wouldn't let me upload them!)
Cat and The Dreamer... Miriam Drori
Miriam was the only person to choose Cat, so there's only one winner.
That Sadie Thing... Hilary Melton-Butcher and Gwen Tolios Our Beautiful Child... Michelle Wallace and Murees Dupe.
I will be contacting all the winners (within the next half an hour, so I don't miss Doctor Who).
I'd been reading some blogs by my favourite authors, and decided I'd like to have a go. If nothing else, I thought, at least I'd have a record of my journey towards my Man Booker-winning novel in 2030...
And today, I am writing my 500th post.
I've been pretty active, writing-wise, in those five years and three months - I've had three books published, with another on the way next year. I've written a novel which I'm currently submitting, and I'm writing some short stories for a new collection.
But most of all, I've met lots of wonderful writers, many of whom I call friends.
I've been writing for a very long time (my first two short stories were published 21 years ago, which makes me sound very old, even though I'm not!) and in those days prior to the internet, writing was a lonely business. Indeed, authors were remote and awe-inducing because you couldn't just phone them up for a chat, or read about their daily lives - connections on Facebook and Twitter mean you now can. How brilliant is that!
As a thank you for reading my blog - new and old alike - I'm giving away two copies of each of my books. Cat and The Dreamer is an ebook, but the others are available in paperback too. Just comment with the book and format you'd like - I'll choose winners at random next Friday, 23rd October.
My World Building Secret - Pretending I'm
Five by Gwen Tolios
When Annalisa asked me to do a guest post
on world-building, I was so excited. Because world-building is my favorite part
of the writing process. I like naming things, drawing maps, figuring out how
things work. To me, it's no different
then going to a new city and hitting the streets to explore. Instead, I'm just
hitting the keyboard and peering into stories.
So how do I world-build?
I ask my favorite question - why? -
ten million times.
For example, in my current WIP I am running
with the idea of humans being modified for space colonization instead of the
planet. But this just can't happen, oh no, there has to be a reason. So why did it happen? Is it cheaper? Faster?
A science experiment? Or maybe something
a little more dramatic, such as the disastrous Moon Failure
that highlighted just how risky living in artificial environments were.
The thing is, the world your story takes
place in might be fictional, but it still has to function as a real one. It's
real to your characters and it has to be real to your readers. And here in the
real world, there is always a reason. Why aren't airships a thing anymore? It has to do with the dramatic intersection of
incidents like the Hindenburg and the improvement of airplane technology. Why
did Westeros build a giant ice wall? To protect it from the White Walkers.
It's often not just one thing, one
reason. If I've learned anything in life
it's how interconnected things are.
America has a problem with obesity and it's because there are lots of
fast food chains. But fast food is also cheap food and it can be the only way
for low income families to get a full meal. Eating right and healthy is expensive
and out of reach. So obesity is a
poverty issue. Or maybe a cultural one, because America is a car culture that's
also addicted to TV and the Internet. Or a social one, as social movements
preach body positivity and more and more people are okay with being overweight.
Things can get messy, but that's life, and
often times in your fiction that same thing has to happen.
Take the Hunger Games. Why do those Games
even exist? It's a way for the government to install fear and control over the
Districts. It is symbol of how a previous uprising had tried pull down the
Capital, but didn't. It is a show of power. It is a distraction and
entertainment for those in the Capital. It's a way to pit districts against
each other. It gives the average citizen a rare chance at getting a better
Why is a minority treated harshly? Their
country attacked this one 50 years ago, but lost, and it's the remnants of the
army that live in the slums and fill the bars. Why must wizards use wands? They
need its a buffer, because channeling magic through the body can be deadly. Why
is do people never address gods by name? It draws their attention, which you
might not want. Pick a part of your world, or even your plot, and ask why?
Dig deeper and deeper, asking questions,
and before you know it you'll have a world with a history and a reason for why
things are they way they are.
Thank you so much, Gwen. I love asking myself What If...? but now I know I need to ask Why? as well.
About Gwen Tolios Gwen Tolios hails from the American Midwest and uses her experiences abroad to shape her speculative fiction. Author of Flicker, she's currently working on YA SF story inspired by her time in Ethiopia. Gwen blogs at Fulfilling Dreams.
I'm over on the Really Real Housewives blog all this week, sharing tips and ideas. When the lovely Housewives approached me, I knew I had to include a recipe, because they really love their food over there.
So, the problem with a recipe: I am not a good cook.
Solution: Wing it, and share my mum's really simple cheesecake recipe...
Or, at least, that was the plan.
It starts off well. I crush up the biscuits like an expert, while the butter melts under a gentle heat (note: mutli-tasking, people. Aren't you impressed?)
However, I read the recipe wrong and only melt 28g of butter. I pour it into the biscuit crumbs and notice (observant) that it isn't coating the crumbs at all. I slice off some more butter, melt it, pour it in. It still doesn't look enough, but that's the recipe, so okay... I put the base into the cake tin, press it down, put it in the fridge.
I open my laptop to change the recipe, and realise I should have put 85g of butter. So - with 28g plus an undetermined amount already mixed in - I'm now melting more and hoping it will come out somewhere near the actual 85g it should have been.
Next, I tip the soft cheese into the bowl - two small tubs, so I know I've got the right amount there - and start to weigh out the yoghurt.
Except... the scale isn't switched on. So now I have to pick up the (luckily, quite solid Greek) yoghurt with my fingers while I turn the scale on.
Next, to whisk. It's an electric hand whisk, so I clip the mixer blades and turn it on. One falls off straight away and another isn't working. I unclip the blades, by now covered in the mixture, and reattach. And repeat twice more until it inexplicably starts to work.
And as a final flourish, after I've put the mixture into the tin, I realise I completely forgot to add the sugar...
I contemplate pouring myself a glass of wine to recover, and remember it's only 10am (responsible).
Moral of the story: Don't ask me to cook, anything, at all, ever!
To make me feel better, I'd love you to share your kitchen disasters.
And then, remember to visit me at the Really Real Housewives blog.
I saw a new book being advertised on Facebook, a while ago now. It was being advertised by a large independent publisher, but offered no links apart from to the publisher's website. I opened Goodreads and searched for the book...
Oh dear. It was not the only book with that title. In fact, after three pages I gave up - I hadn't found the book. I imagine there were even more books with the same title - or close enough to it - if I'd carried on searching.
(Yes, I know I could - should - have searched for the author, but by the time I got to Goodreads I'd forgotten both the author and the publisher!)
Surely the point of a book is to stand out. Yes, it might be a great title but if at least 60 other books have the same title - across many different genres - then it's not the best title for your book.
When I come up with a title, I search for it before I write it down (because as soon as I write it down, it becomes a fixed point in time). Even now, after one, two and three years, if you search for them on Goodreads, they are the only books with those titles. And yes, if there had been others with the same title, I would have changed them, no matter how much I loved them. Because I want people to hear my titles and immediately think of me - not wonder, "which one is it...?"
What random thoughts are occupying you on this fine Saturday?
Before I started writing my novella Cat and The Dreamer, there were a lot of news stories about teenagers committing suicide. There were several incidents of them linking up with friends or people they'd met online for that purpose. As a consequence, when I think about suicide prevention, I usually think about young people.
According to the Samaritans, there were approximately 12 deaths per 100,000 of the UK population in 2013 in the 15-24 age group. Just this week, in the UK, a girl committed suicide over something seemingly so trivial, but which was obviously the tipping point. It's so sad that she wasn't able to talk to anyone, that she thought she had no way out. She was 15.
There are many issues that drive someone to kill themselves, of course; but when I read about a child taking their own lives, I just wish they'd had someone to sit down with them, hug them and tell them it gets better.
The kids who are bullying you will be out of your life in a couple of years. The things that make you 'different' and 'weird' now, will be unique at university - people will envy you for your confidence. The home life that feels almost impossible, you can escape it - there are people to help you, to make you feel safe again. You won't always feel awkward, scared, alone. There are people waiting to be your best friend or your spouse, people who will love you because you are amazing. In short, it gets better.
Above all, if nothing else, please talk to someone.
I'm delighted to be taking part in Murees Dupe's book release today, celebrating the launch of her debut novel The Amaranthine. Just looks at this gorgeous cover - I really want that dress!
Murees has been a wonderful blogger friend over the past couple of years, always so happy to help out, so it's really nice to be able to repay her today.
Best of luck, Murees, you deserve it.
Title: The Amaranthine
Author: Murees Dupé
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 8 September
Claire is sassy, human, and an outcast of society―who
only wants to know where she belongs.
Alex is arrogant, selfish, and an immortal warrior―who
thinks he’s prepared for everything.
Claire knows the world of immortals is where she
belongs. As her guide and guardian, Alex finds it hard to resist Claire’s
subtle charm. Can the two overcome their differences and embrace their passion
for each other, or will the possibility of true love be lost to both forever?
Murees Dupé was born
and still lives in South Africa. When she is not thinking up new stories, she
is spending time with her family, playing with her three dogs and cat, watching
TV, or overindulging on desserts. To learn more about Murees, visit her website here.
My writing has felt like an uphill struggle for the past six months or so. I take one step forward (a shiny new idea) and three steps back (my rational head tells me the idea is too rubbish to contemplate).
I've chosen Glastonbury Tor to illustrate this post because I walked up it in July, on a beautifully warm and clear day. From the top, you can see for miles across Somerset. I wish I could see my writing so clearly. (See what I did there??)
Last week, I had the house to myself. Even the dog was out for the day, so I didn't have the distraction of taking him for a walk, or letting him out into the garden, or playing tuggy with his favourite toy.
And yet, I wrote nothing. I wrote some ideas. Made a cup of tea. Came back and scribbled out my ideas. I tried to rewrite a different story, but it was rubbish - so that got saved (I save everything) under the title To be buried forever and ever.
I know what the problem is: I finished a novel in February. Whereas most writers move on to their next shiny idea, I'm a gibbering mess. I try to stay positive - I announce new ideas on my Facebook page, as though saying it out loud will consolidate them, and I write blog posts that sound relatively upbeat - but the reality is just a little bit different.
I'm going to make a couple of changes:
I'm going to change the place where I write - I'm going to move to the dining table.
I'm going to limit my wasteful web surfing. I spend a lot of time on the internet, but still don't manage to visit blogs or do meaningful research. I end up on bodybuilding web sites, reading their forums about how to get bigger biceps. (Actually, my biceps are coming along pretty well...)
I'm going to manage my time (related slightly to my point above). There will be strict no internet hours, with ten minutes surfing every so often for light relief.
I may try dressing in smart clothes, as though I am working in an office. I once read about a writer who did this to put herself in 'work mode'.
I'll only need to do this until I get myself stuck into a new project. Once I'm there, I will be totally focused to the point of ignoring everything around me and walking around with a glazed look on my face while my characters take over.
Comments will be disabled for this post, just because it's a little but whiny - and you all commented on Melissa's post on Monday which dealt with the same subject. I would however appreciate some positive thinking - thank you.