Monday, 31 October 2011


It's Monday 31st October: Hallowe’en: I'm in trouble. We got back from Corfu in the middle of the afternoon and don't have a cookie, crisp or sweetie in the house - oops!

Speaking of Corfu and a speedy descent into grey, since the clocks changed on Saturday night I feel like someone stole my hour – one day, I was lying on the deckchair right up until dinner. The next, I find myself spending an hour indoors keeping warm as the night sky darkened until the stars glittered rationed light instead. 

I can’t say I prefer being back in the UK but at least there is no snow here – yet ;)

In honour of the release of Darkspell, Elizabeth Mueller’s debut novel, I’ve signed up to finish the phrase ‘If I had all the magic in the world, I’d…’

If I had all the magic in the world, I’d heal the planet until there wasn’t one drop of water that couldn’t glint like a diamond rather than be discharged from a tap like infected mucous.

What would you do with magical powers?

Review from YA Book Babes:
Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary…until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold.  As seer of the Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter’s protector against the darkness that hunts her.  Violently thrust into a magical realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own.

Darkspell doesn’t fit into a typical YA genre box.  As a matter of fact, it’s one of the most original books I’ve read this year.  A richly woven drama unfolds as young Winter Sky meets two handsome and mysterious neighbors, both fighting for affection. 

But one boy, the boy of her dreams—literally—has already won her heart.  But in short order her life is turned upside down as she enters the Stormhold world, a coven of magic users (I’m hesitant to use the world witch/wizard here.  This is really something very different) where she is being hunted by the Shadoweaer.  Suddenly everything is in jeopardy as she searches for her gift and fights to keep the boy she loves.

Elizabeth Mueller gives a great story, full of normal teen angst without tipping the scales to be annoying, she keeps us guessing, dropping nuggets for us throughout the story, but never tipping her hand.  Combine that with the fantastic use of illustrations that give it almost a graphic novel feel as we read, and this is easily a five star read.  I can’t wait to pick this up in paperback and you should too!  Mueller is a great addition to the YA world and I can’t wait to see what comes next from this talented writer!

It just sounds great!

Sunday, 23 October 2011


I'll be under the third umbrella on the left ;)

I forgot to sign up for - 6 SENTENCE SUNDAY - oops.


If you have any suggestions or ideas I would be delighted to hear them. As Danette, last week, reminded me it is important to make consistent choices when describing the way an MC views the action and interactions.

Voice is created by the way each writer controls:

  • the order of the words in the sentence 
  • the use of punctuation marks, and 
  • vocabulary selection.

Darrah is The Arm of Elthor's Corp - this gives her responsibility for the men she selects to train and to lead. Her secret mission is to find the Regal's heir who has been taken. The evidence suggests that The Sarkisians - who, with their unusual powers and their need to feed directly from the living, are hated and feared - are responsible. Darrah, who has personal reasons to want all that race to husk and crumble is finding it hard deal with her reactions to Hale who has been sent to find out who, or what, is trying to destroy the fragile peace between their peoples.

Still shaking, Darrah stood with her back against the broad trunk of a tree, her fingers curled around her light bow, every sense alert.
The bow would only be useful if she was close enough to stab with the pointed tip at his exposed neck, but he’d have to be damn close and she’d have to be damn lucky. She imagined drawing an arrow from her bag, it would take too long. Too noisy. Her sensitive fingertips were tracking tools too, so she didn’t usually track through the forest with an arrow nocked and ready. She wouldn’t make that mistake again. 

I'm on holiday this week. Corfu. I've never been to Greece before. Culture, sand, sea and free alcohol, I'm loving it already ;) 

Thursday, 20 October 2011


·         One in six children will have difficulty learning to speak
·         One in six 11-year-olds have the literacy levels of a seven-year-old
·         One in six children in the UK will not have read a book in the last month
·         One in six adults is functionally illiterate, which means they have the literacy skills expected at age 11 or below.

Literacy is a right.

The statistics in the UK are shocking: 63 per cent of white working class boys, and just over half of black Caribbean boys at the age of 14 have a reading age of seven or below.

Illiteracy is a life sentence.

‘literacy skills are fundamental to informed decision-making, personal empowerment, active and passive participation in local and global social community’ (Stromquist, 2005, p. 12)

Apart from having six brothers, there are reasons why all my MG books are written for boys. I have asked an awful lot of boys ;) why they don’t read and what they would read if they found it on the shelf of their local library. You could say, I write to order.

The truth is if boys, who've had the benefit of regular attendance at school, haven’t been enthused, inspired and taught to read and write by the age of 10 – pretty much  – they never will.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011


Andrew Miller, the author of Casanova, and Oxygen (which was shortlisted for both the Booker prize and the Whitbread novel award) wrote his thoughts on How to Write Fiction in The Guardian Newspaper this Sunday, 16th October 2011.

This is a condensed version, the notes I put into my writing journal.

Andrew said it is important not to slice fiction into separate categories such as "plot", "voice", "point of view" or "character" because that is alien to the way the writer and the reader experiences it.

He says stories come in organic gobs gouged out of the living fabric of world – character tangled with plot, plot with setting, setting with scraps of language embedded.

Because strong characters are at the heart of all great literature, Andrew Miller asserts that:

•           A writer who does not create convincing characters will fail.
•           A writer who creates thrilling, troubling, seductive, insistent characters need not worry too much about any other aspect of writing.
•           You do not need to know how to spell.
•           You do not need to know much about grammar.
•           You do not even need any huge sensitivity to language, though this is the other quality that really matters in writing; it is also, perhaps, the most resistant to any kind of formal teaching.

How is it done?

Andrew says that, luckily, the raw material is close to hand. Every writer is the focus of his own research. And when he wants more – other bodies, other thoughts – he simply looks up at those around him.

You could keep all the members of your family in a kind of mental aquarium, sketching them into stories all your writing life. After changing the details you can supplant them from one town to the next.

But a writer – who wants to remain on good terms with their family ;) - is not confined to such a tactic. The great majority of Andrew’s characters are "inventions." 

No one writes for long without understanding that they are entering mystery and will never leave it.
Through unnamed processes, writers secrete these figures who will loom and mouth off in our fictions. It is a "natural" process, that we are, all of us, geared up for it.

Without the ability to generate characters writing would be impossibly complex. We could not do it.

There is, Andrew reminds us, another great reservoir of characters: those ready-made for us in books.

It is not that we intend to steal Mr Tulkinghorn from Dickens or Ursula Brangwen from Lawrence, but that such characters show us the dimensions of the possible.

A painter who wants to paint a tree needs to do two things: look at trees and look at paintings of trees. The first task shows what trees are like, the second shows the possibilities of the medium.

Likewise, as a writer, it is by reading that you learn how, in language, a character can be presented:
•           through dialogue,
•           through action,
•           through physical attributes,
•           interior monologue etc

When you have absorbed these methods creating characters will become a reflex.

At its simplest, its barest, characterisation is about a writer's grasp of what a human being is.

When we set out to write we do not set out saying: "The world is like this." But asking: "How is the world?"

In creating characters we are posing to ourselves large, honest questions about our nature and the nature of those about us.

Our answers are the characters themselves, those talking spirits we conjure up by a kind of organised dreaming.

And when we finish, we are immediately dissatisfied with them, these "answers", and we set out again, bemused, frustrated, excited.

An odd use of time! An odd use of a life. But there's a courage to it. Even, perhaps, a type of beauty.

Andrew Miller will be teaching a nine-month UEA-Guardian MasterclassLevel Three: How to Complete a Work of Fiction, beginning January 2012

Tuesday’s Teaser:
1 Grab your current read.
2 Let the book fall open to a random page.
3 Share two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

I'm going to share the title of the book this “teaser” is from so, if you love the section I've posted, and you've been drawn into the world the author has created, you can find the book too.

Characterisation is deeper than face, form, or colour, in this MG story: Alien Escape by Guy Bass.

Hex-37 is the unluckiest space invader on Planet X.

Like many of us, Hex never gets anything right

When he discovers his long-lost father is on Planet Earth he decides to give up space invading and escapes.

The only problem is Hex still can’t fly a space ship.

From page 8 of Alien Escape by Guy Bass

Whether it was good luck or bad, from the moment Hex started space invader training, the Hex Effect had changed his life forever. Despite being years ahead of his classmates when it came to technology and robotics, Hex had the worst luck with anything to do with space invading.

Are you currently reading for pleasure or to learn something from the author?

Sunday, 16 October 2011


Good grief it's Sunday again. How did that happen? ;)

Thank you for visiting my blog and the thoughts and ideas you share. I really appreciate your ideas because I never write for adults. Ever. Except for my manuscript DRAWN. What can I say, I just keep finding myself drawn back to it ;)

Darrah is The Arm of Elthor's Corp - this gives her responsibility for the men she selects to train and to lead. Her secret mission is to find the Regal's heir who has been taken. The evidence suggests that The Sarkisian's - who, with their unusual powers and their need to feed directly from the living, are hated and feared - are responsible. Darrah, who has personal reasons to want all that race to husk and crumble is finding it hard deal with her reactions to the Hale who has been sent to find out who, or what, is trying to destroy the fragile peace between their peoples.

Darrah was sure she had seen him, he was unmistakeably there. The bleeding cold burning inside her chest told her this was truth.Scanning for moving shapes in the mist, his illusive presence had intensified and darkened the whiteness that rose as high as the tree canopy. 
“Why did you walk away from your men?” the voice asked her from the shrouding veil. Melodic, deep too, glamour never sounded so good. She’d known he would sound like this.

Thanks for stopping by. It seems there has been a problem with the link this week :( The link to the other posts is here.

Thursday, 13 October 2011


The shortlist for the Booker Prize 2011 includes a range of books surprisingly readable books.

I spent some time examining the opening sentences of the shortlisted books.

The 'Hook' is crafted to launch the story, to set the tone, or to introduce the voice of character. 

I get put off when the opening sentence reads like a road map. 

I like it when the author has disguise the barb to hook the readers' attention and drag them on into the depths of the world created by the words - and between the lines - on every page of the book.


AD Miller – Snowdrops

I smelled it before I saw it.

Julian Barnes – The Sense of an Ending

I remember, in no particular order:
-          a shiny inner wrist;
-          steam rising from a wet sink as a hot frying pan is laughingly tossed into it;
-          gouts of sperm circling a plughole before being sluiced down the full length of a tall house;
-          a river rushing nonsensically upstream, its wave and wash lit by half a dozen chasing torch beams;
-          another river, broad and grey, the direction of its flow disguised by a stiff wind exciting the surface;
-          bathwater long gone cold behind a locked door.

Carol Birch – Jamrach’s Menagerie

I was born twice.

Patrick deWitt – The Sisters Brothers

I was sitting outside the Commodore’s mansion, waiting for my brother Charlie to come out with news of the job.

Esi Edugyan – Half Blood Blues

Chip told us not to go out.

Stephen Kelman – Pidgeon English

You could see the blood.


I know using first person - I - is designed to give immediacy but for me, reading these, I'm drawn to the word "You".

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Firstly, author JA SOUDERS is hosting a first chapter critique competition - she can. This is a great opportunity, she offers critique pain in a range of levels to suit the the toughest hides to shrinking violets. Take a look :D

I've been missing wolves lately. There just haven't been enough werewolves in my life. I've got a biting new book to share:

Tuesday’s Teaser:

1 Grab your current read.

2 Let the book fall open to a random page.

3 Share two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

I'm going to share the title of the book this “teaser” is from so, if you love the section I've posted, and you've been drawn into the world the author has created, you can find the book too.

I loved the blurb that reads:

When the air is clear, sixteen-year-old Drew Ferran can pick up the scent of a predator.

When the moon breaks through the clouds, a terrifying fear grips him.

And when a vicious beast invades his home, his flesh tears, his fingers become claws and Drew transforms...

*roar ;)


Drew is forced to leave his family and seeks refuge in the most godforsaken part of Lyssia. He has to battle werecreatures determined to destroy him and master the animal within.

I loved the premise: in this book good battles evil in many forms.

This book was written by Curtis Jobling:

The two sentences I am posting are from page 22 of WEREWORLD: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling:

Upon seeing the beast, Drew's first thought was that it was a bear of some kind, but who had ever heard of a bear being bold enough to walk up to a farmhouse, let alone leaping through its windows? It quickly became clear that the creature was far removed from anything that he'd ever seen, sharing little in common with the animals that inhabited the Cold Coast.

Curtis Jobling: production designer on Bob, The Builder, author and illustrator of Frankenstein's Cat and now Wereworld. Shortlisted for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2011.


Friday, 7 October 2011


Ideas come from many sources. I have been mulling over an MG Fantasy. 

On the welling of the River Dosluda that runs through the forest of Matenitisel over Staroitsa, in the times of Makkan, the third of his name.

When the gust of wind sent the opening of his campaign tent flapping like the signal to advance, the warrior king, Makkan, saw the boys clambering the rocks that edged the waterfall. The shouts and screams, alien to the discipline of his men, sharpened his senses, sent heat to his heart and strength to his arm. He stood, one hand crushing the begging letter that had been delivered by the commerce thieves and slugs of Staroitsa while the other tightened around the hilt of his drawn sword.
                Returning the blade to its kilu, Makkan put down his work and ignored the plans that demanded his attention. Framed in the doorway of his blood red tent he watched as the boys' long, well-muscled arms reached and pulled as they hauled themselves higher and, when the climb was more difficult, how they pushed and shoved at each other to be first back to the ledge. From this distance he could not make out the small, dark figure of his own boy. He smiled and relaxed. To learn the art of war, the Saye of the Greater Clans travelled with the caravan. Over the years, Makkan had seen – had experienced – the ways of the Saye Master. Ghaggra used unorthodox methods to temper the boys’ inner metal but he found it hard to believe the old man had sanctioned this one. Leaping out from a flat rock a good distance below the summit, the Saye took it in turns to jump into the rocky pool below.
                Then the boys in the pool looked up. Those who had been climbing clung to solid rocks or slid back when they stared higher. Too high. An air of stillness descended over the camp. 
               Kirune, the small, dark-skinned son who had sucked his mother’s image into his own rejecting all his father’s large boned frame and fair good looks, had climbed to the top of the mighty waterfall. Makkan knew the boy, on a spur of rock surrounded by the fast-flowing water,  must not be able to see much of pool below; he frowned and clenched his fists. He sensed the moment old Ghaggra, Saye Master, came to his side: the scent of leather, horses and well-oiled steel combined to be the essence of the man.
                “Makkan, my General; my king.”
                “Is this your doing?”
                “I teach the Saye the skills they will need; to know their worth; to be men after their own hearts.”
                The air around seemed to have lessened. The men of the camp who stood in silence held the breath they’d drawn. Pressure built with the expectation and the fear. A gale of disappointment blew when Kir stepped back away from the edge.
                Makkan’s broad face was marred when he twisted his lip and he creased his nose, “Next time I marry let it be to a woman of stature who will not breed me runts with pretty faces.”
               Ghaggra bowed; he hid his smile for fear he might not keep his head.
               The king had turned, ready to return to the important business of the day, when more cries than the chirruping chorus of the dawn disturbed him again. He spun in time to see his small son, too small for a boy of his age, racing towards the edge of the waterfall. Speed turned into distance as he threw himself out and away from the rocks. The form, more tiny now it was shown against the torrent of white and blue, tucked and fell fast. Suddenly, he pushed his legs straight back behind him, arrowed his arms over his head. A small dark dart he speared the water in the pool, far from the rocks that endangered the edge. Soon his head of curls slicked backed by water, and seemingly in one piece, was visible as he swam to the shore of the Dosluda.
“So,” said the Saye Master into the storm of cheers, the ratching of blades on shield rims and the laughter.
Red stained the cheeks of the king, he bit words through closed teeth, “What need have I of a foolish, reckless son? Such a one would lead my army to destruction.”

Poor Kirune - family, opportunity and adversity shapes us. ;)


Have a great weekend. I will be posting Six sentences on Sunday.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Have you seen the Flash Fiction Competition hosted by the Authonomy Blog?

As part of the celebrations planned to accompany the release of Miranda Dickinson’s fantastic third novel, IT STARTED WITH A KISS, Authonomy have teamed up with her publishers, Avon / Harper Collins, and together they have devised a competition with a lip-smacking prize.

The winner will be rewarded with the opportunity to send 20,000 words from their MS to the desk of a Harper Collins' editor (hopefully, while s/he is sitting at it ;)

All you have to do is prove your writing ability using exactly 416 words.

Why is 416 the magic number?  
Miranda Dickinson created her deliciously funny romantic tale – that started with a kiss  in 416 pages.

Not that I think anyone else should enter the competition oranything (that would make it – statistically –  even more challenging for me ;) but these are the entry requirements:

1         Take the title IT STARTED WITH A KISS
2         Create a masterpiece of flash fiction
3         Send it to .

They are happy to receive submissions in any style and any genre.

The closing date for submissions is midnight, 16th October. Remember to play it safe and send off your entry before that date because I’m unsure which global time zone this relates too but my guess is GMT.

Four runners-up, will also receive a signed copy of Miranda’s novel, which will be published on 10th November 2011.

Good luck to everyone who enters the competition.

I've just bought a new book so I'm keen to share a little.

Tuesday’s Teaser

Usual rules apply:

1 Grab your current read.

2 Let the book fall open to a random page.

3 Share two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

They say it is a good idea to share the title of the book your “teaser” is from so others can find it and read on if the section you've posted has drawn them in.

“As he did so, the night cricket chirped a little louder and the boy’s hand tightened round the hilt of his sword. His father had once said, ‘A samurai should always obey his instincts’, and his instincts told him something was wrong.”

Young Samurai: The Way Of The Warrior by Chris Bradford
This is a Children’s Historical Novel. First published in 2008, this book was nominated for ten major awards.

It is the first in a series of action/adventure novels. I’m on page 2 so Jack Fletcher and I have a long journey to take together ;)

Have you entered the competition? Started a new book recently?

Sunday, 2 October 2011


Thank you if you made a visit. 

Thanks again if you commented. 

Welcome if you are a new visitor.

Thank you to those who decided to Follow, I've hit 300 *cheers and grins too widely, extra friends on this quest are always appreciated :D

I apologise for posting so late; it is Heatwave Sunday here. ;)

In between work and the extreme heat, I've been writing Mortimer's story. 

From the eight point story arc I found on Daily Writing Tips, Mortimer has just reached the Trigger.

The eight points which Watts lists are, in order:
  1. Stasis
  2. Trigger
  3. The quest
  4. Surprise
  5. Critical choice
  6. Climax
  7. Reversal
  8. Resolution
MG Sci-fi

Today, the six sentences I am going to post are taken from the Mortimer Chilton and The Collective:

Mortimer is alone in a sealed section of the space station, he is trying to use the powers he has been told he posses to find out if anyone else avoided being gassed when has unknown invaders neutralised The Collective in a pre-emptive strike.

Let me know what you think!

       If he had any skills they sure knew how to hide. As the afternoon wore on, Mortimer screwed up his face, stared hard at the ceiling and banged his head against the metal door of Seg - 8: he got eye ache, neck ache and a blinding head ache but his neural pathways moved like sludge and there was none of the lightness or bright flashes he'd been told to expect. Once, when he was making too much noise for a boy in hiding, he thought he heard someone shouting his name but he was behind air-tight, blast proof doors. He scanned the monitor again but there was no movement in the corridor outside. When he was finally too tired to think - too tired to keep trying to force his Psych skills to activate - Mortimer slid down to the floor and rested his head back against the wall. That was when he heard Fortinbras' voice deep inside his mind, "Bored now..." the whisper echoed, "the air in my tank is running out and you, Boy-in-a-can, are some final hope."