Thursday 30 September 2010


Last week I finished the line edits and revisions.

Did the research, selected the agencies that accepted emailed submissions.

This week I was ready to start querying STAYING LOST: MG/TWEEN complete in 42,000 words.

I wrote four queries and hit SEND.

The first reply came along quite quickly: bad news with a sprinkling of good on the top

Dear Elaine Smith,
You write well and this is a good adventure but not really what we’re looking for at this agency so will wish you luck with someone else.  Sorry
Annette Green
Annette Green Authors' Agency

I can cope with this kind of rejection. My fingers hurt. *hopefully twisted  ;)


At the start of the week I was all geered up to find my diary. Not the leather backed ones that came later or the lurid, plastic covered one -- with the bad lock and the impossible-to-ever-locate key -- I knew I had a brown WRITER'S JOURNAL. 

The others I kept in my room, in a variety of hiding places, but the journal lived in my bag. I travelled to school, and it came with me. Sixteen miles from home to school and back. That was when I wrote. (This was a public service rather than a school bus.) I sat, back pressed against the window, note book on my knees, and wrote. 

THIS IS NOT ME, however... the uniform and the hair are right. At this age, I was all about the poetry.

At 12, I was big on the sea and rhyming.


See beyond, and there below, 
a stranger where he stands.
A silent figure, poised and still
upon the golden sands.
I know him not, yet understand
the wonder he now knows:
the sunlight on the water.
Silently    he turns    and goes

LATER, aged about 14

18th Century  Lovers Part 2 


There he stands the only man I'd marry
turns he -- when he sees me walking by.
How I'd love to show him of my feelings.
Never does he even catch my eye.

I've known this many months that I do love him.
Yet, surly does he seem, when I am near.
Could it be he really doesn't like me?
Often I have shed a lonely tear.

People say he's not the choice to marry:
no titled lord or prince to lighten life.
Merely, there he stands a common soldier.
Never would he want me for his wife.

Knowing this won't ever stop me feeling
that my life is nothing with out him.
Unrequited now, I leave this evening.
Leaving hurts. And going seems a sin.

I sooooooooooo always knew I was destined to write HISTORICAL for Mills and Boon.

What did you want to be when you were 14-years-old?

Wednesday 29 September 2010

TUUNE THE KOOKS - Shine On. That's kooky, it isn't even Tuesday

With the sudden change from Indian summer to early winter, my head cold became a pain in the chest. Poor me : (  The first bug of the colder season had plenty of bite.
I'm on a diet of boy-flavoured music again. It was up to The Kooks to add a little light to my day.
I think lyrics are a window -- kind-of the stained glass view -- into the writer's psyche.

Safety pins holding up the things
 that make you mine
About your hair you needn't care
You look beautiful all of the time 

Luke Pritchard (THE KOOKS)  :)

But this section didn't feel very 2008.

Why do you bite the hand that feeds you?
Oh, why do you, why do you bit the hand that feeds you?

That felt very 1908 -- a socio-economic dynamic?! ;)

It isn't really the words I get out of it, it is the tone and the fervour.
It isn't what boys shout I want to hear, or even what they whisper to their mates -- although I heard some classics in the airport this summer, I need more of the internalisation and less face.

I missed blogging from my diary aged 14 and everything! BUMMER!
Tomorrow, my poems:  
See beyond -- yes the sea features.
18th century lovers - planned in three parts: He, She and They. I could post SHE without cringing until my heart stops beating.

Then, I found the hook for the book I planned to write when I was 14.
Wow! Even then I was a research freak. 
I studied the notebook section of the diary. Spun Google into action and I  felt the heart-squeeze thing.
I had written the hook for an epic idea - more spin-offs than the DARK series.
I pat my teen-age self on the back. She was good.
I know what I'm writing for NANO... Shine-on!

Sunday 26 September 2010

THE WISDOM AND IMAGES - I'll flag you down and divert you...

Cornelia Read's post on the Lipstick Chronicles's has made me laugh so hard she hurt my head cold. This has put back the healing process by at least a couple of days. I'm going to find paracetamol, perhaps you could go and read 100 Way Not To Write Your Book. 
I found it hard to select my favourite picture because the Karma Sutra of Reading and The Starbuck's Hopper tickled, thankfully, only my funny bone -- but it did reverberate through my fuzzy-hypersensitive sinuses.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Mills and Boon NEW VOICES

So, here is how it goes:

I heard about the NEW VOICES Competition.

September was looking quiet.

 I have been in love with romantic fiction, with an historical setting and more than a touch of fantasy, since I read Beauty and the Beast when I was seven. 

What could go wrong?

I researched my historical period.
Worked out where the fantasy element would fit.
Created a few compelling characters.
Threw words at a page at a rate of knots.
Unravelled the words into sense with the help of my trusty Betas who have earned my ever-lovin' gratitude.

So, again, what could go wrong?

I took my eye off the ball -- off the calendar -- head like a colander: I almost missed the last date for uploading the story.
I  didn't write the pitch or my brief biographical details.
(I'm not looking too closely at either of those when I check, oh dear.)
Couldn't get worse?

OYIC - new version of Oy vey!

I up-loaded all the data but I didn't hit save.
Realised this when it didn't turn up -- 10/10 for checking.
Scrambled everything back together again because I had saved it all for just such an eventuality? That would be the other me.
Did it all again - slightly better, despite the hurry ;) 
Time was ticking down the final hours until the doors closed (figuratively)


In the wrong category.

It is hysterical -- historical -- currently in paranormal.  
(What do I normally write?)
Isn't paranormal always the home of the Magestry of Brython? NO.

It's HISTORICAL FANTASY -- I'm hysterical!

So anyway...  I entered my FIRST EVER COMPETITION (sort of) 

Check out:  FIRESTONES in the wrong category...

It has the best historical voice you are ever going to find in the paranormal section!

When Brython trembles before the thundering army of the Coraxcorus, ordinary people begin to lose their faith in Mage power. Vine, short-sighted but gifted, epitomises the toothless bite of the once powerful Magestry. Malnourished and marginalised, Vine is liberated when selected to approach the Halls of Elune for training. The Mage identifies her skills not in Metallurgy, as she expected, but in Divination. Near blind for more than sixteen years, the irony of a gift of sight is not lost on Vine.
Geai, injured by the blast that would have killed Oswin, Magesty to all Mages, is lost from the Ranks of Protection. Bound by his promise, to remain in Elune until the Health Seers can detect no trace of his injury, Geai is doubly doomed. He cannot return to Oswin’s side, and he must use his gift of farsight to watch the invader army and report their movements to the men fighting a war of lure and lash in the mountains.
Geai suspects Vine’s uncharted skills could help him escape the letter if not the spirit of his promise, Vine knows the cost of their bargain, but is prepared to pay it.

Friday 24 September 2010


Elana Johnson, Jen Daiker and Alex Cavanaugh are hosting The Blogging Experiment: Writing Compelling Characters. Me, and a couple of hundred others are taking part - YEAH!!


If there are no more than seven separate storylines:

1 - [wo]man vs. nature

2 - [wo]man vs. man

3 - [wo]man vs. the environment

4 - [wo]man vs. machines/technology

5 - [wo]man vs. the supernatural

6 - [wo]man vs. self

7 - [wo]man vs. god/religion

why do  I need enough room on my shelf for more than fourteen books. Why would I even need to make space for fourteen, rather than seven books? I guess because, unlike our perceptions of teen boys, I can read the --- other gender ;)

Characterisation is the reason why people can read over 100 books in one genre.

The characters, with their unique traits, their strengths and weaknesses, take the basic storylines to the most amazing places.

I have held books in my hands and refused to stop turning the pages long enough to dry the drips falling from the end of my chin. Laughed, so hard my sides have ached. And learned more about the need to check the windows before going to bed from novels, than I ever did from any health and safety lecture.


Characters are the compelling force in the novel.

Thursday 23 September 2010


I finally got around to working on STAYING LOST, revisions and line edits are a pain in the butt!
But I wanted to query, so 10,000 words had to go: never a problem for an overwriter with a tendency towards the passive. 
Nerysa Na-gah Nuwuvi is one of my favourite characters, the product of her heritage, upbringing, training, and her determination to protect, at all costs.

Some people said Mae was a bad mother. She drank hard and smacked harder, that would tend to make people talk that way. But, Nerysa knew her mother loved her. Her mother would walk through fire to get to her. She’d walked through the baking desert for three days when Nerysa had gotten herself lost. She had been just a few weeks shy of her seventh birthday. And, if her mother hadn’t found her, sprawled in the sand, there would have been another twenty birthdays Nerysa wouldn’t have been around to celebrate.
Nerysa had learned, beyond any doubt in the moment Mae found her, that she was loved. Her Mama had plucked her limp body up from the dry river bed that gave the town its name and held her tight. She’d crushed Nerysa close and rocked her. The first water Nerysa had tasted was salty and it flowed from her mother’s sky blue eyes. When Nerysa felt the arms that crushed; the heart that raced; the sobs that racked her mother’s body she forgave her everything. Nerysa forgave her for the things she had done and anything she ever would do when she had been drinking because (deep down inside, under the hurt and the longing that things could be different) Nerysa knew that she was loved. She knew her mother would not sit by and wait for this danger to hurt her baby, she would have tried to get away to warn Nerysa. She would have tried and she would have failed. She’d have died in the attempt else, she’d be dying right about now – and that wasn’t happening.

Nerysa's voice, as she regresses to the child she had been in Dry Creek, just won't be changed. I can do snappy and sparse, Nerysa won't.
Do you find your characters need to speak in their own voice?  

Wednesday 22 September 2010

WRITE: WEDNESDAY The importance of empirical evidence

Everywhere out there, I find advice to cut description, to trust your reader to see the world you have created with a degree of flexibility. But as a teacher, one of the main tasks I set the children in my class was to learn from the texts they were reading. They magpied away finding nuggets of gold: selecting sentences to use as a scaffold, until they too could write sentences, following the models of their choice. Their higher order punctuations skills improved immeasurably however, children reported that, in some best-selling novels, they couldn’t find anything to help them write descriptions.

Writerly advice?  

Build concrete descriptions so your reader can live in the story as they read. You can still “show not tell” when your picture is painted with sense impressions, your character's reactions, their perceptions of the world around them.

The things a characters sees and the sensation of touch, tends to be written most often, whereas smell and hearing get sidelined to the highs and lows, only deserving a mention when an extreme is required. As for taste, that sense is overlooked and underwritten.

I find the idea of anything inhibiting our senses intensely fascinating. Synaesthesia too, when one sense manifests as another (musical notes smelled or tasted,) offers a world of possibilities.

The human experience is based on sensory perception, the need to make our understanding concrete is fundamental. Ask any child who licks windows to check out a view, smells the grossest things, because they just have to do it. Have you ever run your hand over a glistening surface, and felt the need to smell your fingers so you can see it?

So, my writerly advice is to include some description, people just have to know.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

TUUUNE Florence And The Machine - HOWL

This is, just about, my favourite track on the album: LUNGS.
It's a paranormal romance, from start to finish. 
As far as plot goes, Florence has written a fully rounded storyline. 
If this song was a novel I'd be in the queue to buy it, as soon as the shop opened.
I'd go earlier, but not everything gets the JK treatment. ;)

Monday 20 September 2010


My Minnow has a strenuous start to University life:

MONDAY: Register
TUESDAY: Meet lecturers
MONDAY: 1st lecture

If it weren't for the 10 pieces of art she has to bring with her: "Computers - the story of my life," (I know just what they mean)  there would be very little to spoil her Freshers' Week at all ;)

Do you want to play?

The city of Manchester

I pick Manchester - culturally diverse, vibrant and metropolitan.

Minnow, however, gets to have them all!

Saturday 18 September 2010


Summer, had a Blogfest and my computer pulled the plug on the world. 

However, Summer is working hard to make me think about what I want to say, and how to say it. For which, I thank her greatly.

This is experimental writing. 


Something disturbed the thick surface. Distinct ends broke free, rose and fell. With each movement, putrid gas popped in time to muffled plops. Ecstatic desperation followed hopeless recovery.
Dorothea stared. She gripped bony fingers tight to the strap and the bag. Unnecessary for a thousand speculative walks, she mentally inventoried the contents. While her heart rose, her steps careered. The green slimed rock slipped under her, the unctuous sand clung. Dorothea fell. Gloved-hands deeply mired, she kept her face high enough to prevent damage. Sweat dripped from her brow, tears leaked relief.
Her suit hummed to life. Dorothea hugged it to her, while it protected her from harm.
More cautiously, she approached the unstill life, writhing against the inevitable. Huge, the creature was longer than both her hands. Astounding. 
Dorothea dug into the flatulent fluid. Pushing and pulling against chemical elasticity, she released the specimen. Hugging it to her heart, she reached to locate the Tephrosic miasma. She sprayed. 
As the agents worked, the green filth dripped to the floor. Red-eyed in its helmet of grey, each lined scale reflected the sheen of rainbowed sunlight. It became motionless. Drawn to do or die, it was doomed to glare regretfully.
Dorothea ran her fingers across fins, under gills, over heart and down the lateral line to where the milt sack bulged. She raised it high, nose to nose. Steaming streams of condensed air enshroud the static one she held in stasis. Dorothea smiled. Lips to lips, she whispered, “It’s a secret.”


Angela Ackerman is celebrating having  1,000 followers on her blog The Bookshelf Muse; well you would, wouldn't you?!
It is a fabulous opportunity: page critiques and the opportunity to be mentored by Angela herself. Check it out.

Thursday 16 September 2010


Like Christmas afternoon, between the basting and the serving, I sneak away. Usually, it is the book I'm reading calling to me. Lately, I've been surfing pain, finding myself dashed on the rocks of disappointment.My internet just won't work. I've logged on three times today, and every time it has been happy to work; I wonder what it's after?
I'd love to post more, but I haven't been able to read more than a Blog at a time, for WEEEKS!!

Friday 10 September 2010


My partner arrived home late last night, after coaching football (soccer). He had found that it doesn't pay to put your keys down while the sun is shining but go back to pick them up after dark. He should have made it back when it was twilight, that's the safest time, apparently ;) 

Everything was fine, normal routine.

I didn't hit the computer with the hammer, even though it wouldn't connect with the internet. You know how it is with threats, don't say it if you aren't prepared to follow it through. Behaviour 101.

The day began early, well it began at exactly the same time it normally does but I saw an early portion of it. I helped the Minnow play the fun-ist game, if you've never played it, give it a go, it is called :how to fit a sleeping bag, blanket and rubber mattress into the sleeping bag's case. The crawling, squirming, squashing -  forget Twitster, it has nothing on this. 
The whole family waved her off, crowded on the doorstep, fond farewells - bless. She is the Isle of Wight's problem now ;)
"OMG! It is so amazing! It's like a freaking carnival, here! It's incredible!" 
So, no-word-of-a-lie BESTIVAL is not too bad.

Partner started quiet.
Stayed quiet.
Started muttering and visiting every room in the house.
Got red.
Did the wandering from room to room more.
Got redder.
Kept retracing his steps, miming  the same actions each time.
Started standing on chairs and surveying the rooms.
Imagine King Canute in a tracksuit, and no waves.

"You know the money we got when we sold the car? I had it in my wallet and, like, here's the thing: I think it's in the house."

I found tracking his scent, dogging his footsteps, from room to room untherapeutic.

"You know when I lost the key? I turned my bag out, in the car park, at the football club."

I went, I looked, I did not conquer the idea that I needed to go find me a new hammer.

I blood-hounded my way around the field and the carpark, in the rain.

Nice people found the soggy wallet, they phoned. They even dried out the stack of bills that did not need paying.

There are some seriously good people in the world.

Can you think of any other reasons to be happy?

Tuesday 7 September 2010


I'll remember you by Sophie Zelmani.

I remember and it makes my heart bleed.
Joss Whedon created magic. I'm trying to write it.
Do you remember too?


Normally, Monday is reserved for pointless venting, which could pass as whinging or even moaning. On Monday, I would have. I would have logged on to let rip about something-or-the-other, but if I was going to do that I would have needed an INTERNET CONNECTION!!!!

I sound harsh? It’s the disappointment. Technically, I have an internet connection. I have a shiny black concave tower.  It has three blue-lit symbols, confidently displaying readiness and willingness to connect me with the wide-blue-yonder or the internet.

But the icon on my computer doesn’t care about the blue lights on the connectivity tower, it holds the power and it will not speak. My icon is red and cross. But fickle.

I took the warring parties, the computer and the tower, to arbitration. The yellow, blue and black cables tried to span the gulf, between my computer’s need to access the world and the tower’s ability to do it, unsuccessfully.

Oh, if I was prepared to log on, log off, crawl around behind and view the computer and the tower from the back, take out cables and do the process several times, I could get a connection. But it was like socialising with a couple on the verge of separation. It was hard to find the fun, not knowing when something insignificant would start them off again – ignoring each other.
It’s the unpredictability, the coaxing, the sneaking up on the connection trying to catch it unawares that is causing me the stress.

There is only so much you can do with code words and permissions, connections cannot be forced. I brought a hammer upstairs, uniting them against a common enemy. Seems to be working, so far  ;)