Change of Space

My workplace has shifted. Tony will be working based from home in September and I’ve generously given up my study for him. (That sounds posh doesn’t – ‘my study’. It’s actually the spare bedroom, which used to be the bathroom until we had a switch around. It makes a much nicer study).

Anyhoo, I’m now based at the kitchen table – or the decking in nice weather. And oh my gawd, we actually have some nice weather right now! I could get used to this! I located the blackcap today, scoffing the elderberries, which are just starting to ripen. I’ve heard it’s call for days, like two stones being clicked together.

Matilda has followed me down. She likes sprawling on the decking and doing the odd bit of bird-watching in between snoozes. I doubt Tony will let her sit on the desk like I did;
IMG_1840

I think this could work, at least for the moment. It’s the summer holidays, so it means I can get the odd bit of writing done as well as engaging with the kids.

Just as long as I don’t get too distracted watching the wildlife…

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IWSG August: Gathering dust or rolling stone?

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, when the…

IWSG Badge
…founded by Alex J Cavanaugh, blog about their hopes, dreams and fears. If you want to join this merry band of writers Click here to add your name to the list…
The awesome co-hosts for this month are; Tamara Narayan, Tonja Drecker, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Lauren @ Pensuasion, Stephen Tremp, and Julie Flanders!

I almost missed this month. It’s the kid’s summer holidays and I have trouble remembering what day it is, let alone the date! We’re just back from a few days camping and I’m still congratulating myself on choosing to come back a day early and missing a downpour by minutes (hurray! No wet tent to dry out!)

But back to this month’s question; What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

Well, neither. When I first wrote it, in a creative writing class, it started out about ballroom dancing. I knew nothing about ballroom dancing but did a fair amount of research on the net about it. Then I had a moment of inspiration, realised that although I knew (a little more now than I had) about ballroom dancing, I knew quite a bit about karate (having practised it for several years – yeah, don’t mess guys ;)). Anyhow, writing about something I knew made it a much better story.

I submitted it for a competition. It got nowhere, I figured ‘ok, let’s move on’ and left it to gather dust.

A few years on I dug it out and took it to my writing group for comments. I had such a great reaction from them! They loved it, were howling with laughter in places and it generated a lot of discussion. I was still buzzing from this the next day and decided to tighten it up, remove the swearwords and send it round the women’s mags market.

No bites. It’s just not that sort of material. I read it out to another writing group recently and discovered that the removal of the swearwords had made it blander, or maybe it was a different audience. Either way, I didn’t get the same reaction.

So, I’ve rewritten it (again), merging the best of both versions and have sent it off to another competition. Its free to enter and I won’t hear anything for months, so I guess it’s back on the shelf for a while. If I don’t get any luck there I might just leave it and stick it in my own collection one day.

What about your first piece? Is it gathering dust or a rolling stone?

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Storytime Blog Hop: Midwinter

storytime bloghop

Welcome, and settle back with a biscuit and a cuppa to enjoy tales of speculative fiction from writers around the world:

If you’ve read my previous blog hop stories, you may remember Eleanor and Mallory from Unwelcome Guests. When we last met them, Mallory had just cursed the baby Princess, Allegra, to die on her sixteenth birthday, then left Eleanor to cope with the fallout.
Now we catch up with them fifteen years on. A cure still hasn’t been found and Eleanor has finally accepted that she must find Mallory and ask for help.
(By the way, this is more of a snippet than a complete story. Sometimes these things just grow…)

Midwinter.

Mid-winter was not the time to be travelling the Hunterback Mountains, but this was my last resort. Back in the autumn, when travel would have been more sensible, I’d thought I had a better alternative. That had turned out to be a dead end, just like all the others.
“I know you’re close,” I whispered. I wrapped my cloak tighter and leaned back against the cliff in this relatively sheltered spot. I had kept the worst of the storm at bay so far with the weather charm tied about my head. But I was tired, I had to find Mallory soon.
I crouched down in the snow and clasped my hands to my forehead in an attempt to block the howl of the wind. She was so close I could feel her in the tingle down my spine and the pricking of my thumbs. I stretched my senses out further…
… And toppled back as the fabric of the rock face behind me gave way before re-forming in front of my eyes.
“Must you?”
The grating voice came from behind me, and I turned stiffly from the illusion of solid rock, resting on hands and knees before pushing myself up.
Fifteen years would change most people, but Mallory was still the rail thin, intense, driven figure I remembered in my nightmares. Only her eyes seemed changed. No longer the glittering jets they’d once been.
“Must I what?” I said stupidly.
“Think so loud. It was giving me a headache.” She turned and headed up a stone passage further into the mountain, giving no indication that she cared whether I followed or not.
“Come on then.” Her voice echoed back and I scurried to follow as if I were still fourteen.
“Slow down,” I told myself. As much because I needed to as for caution.
The chamber that the passage opened out into was larger than it first appeared, but so crammed with almanacs, grimoires and apparatus that there wasn’t much room to move all the same.
I edged carefully through it all towards the fire.
“Stupid.” Her voice somehow managed to convey equal amounts of disinterest and scorn. “Travelling the mountains in this weather. I’d have thought you’d at least have the wit to transform if—”
She broke off as I unwound my cloak and hung it near the fire, exposing the swell of my belly.
“Doubly foolish then,” she said.
“Needs must.” Without asking, I dropped into the chair nearest the fire and began to work off my soaked boots. I propped my feet on something that may have been a footstool beneath the clutter and sighed as my toes began to thaw.
“You may as well have taken the risk. You’ll have to consider it for the journey back. I’ll not keep you till spring.”
“I’ll take my chances.” I rubbed my belly. “This one’s from tough stock. She’ll cope. Far better than to run the risks that transforming would have on an unborn babe. There are enough troubled children in the world,” I added pointedly.
She ignored that. “So, is there a young man waiting for you at home, or did you get knocked up at the last Beltane feast?”
“I don’t think that’s any of your concern.”
“I can count,” she said dryly.
You never could keep anything from Aunt Mallory. But she didn’t need to know the details of the young wizard I’d met last Beltane. Put it down to a moment of weakness, or spring fever, or maybe just those deep dark eyes that—. Regardless, from what he’d said, he’d be deep into a three year journey through the Outer Fens and the Maze Fields by now. If we ever met again it would be too many years from now for him to remember, or think to count the months.
“You needn’t be worrying about your womb drying up, you know. Witches can—”
“I think there’s another baby we should be talking about.” I cut in.
“Ah. You still haven’t found a cure then?”
I turned. “Is that what you’ve been doing all this time? Sitting up here, laughing at us while we spend year on year trying—”
“There is no cure.”
“You can’t know that.”
“Why do you think I took such extreme measures in the first place. And then you—” she turned away, but not before I saw how her hands were trembling. She fumbled with a bottle on a shelf, pouring a draft of something which she swigged back quickly and stood for a moment as whatever it was took effect.
She turned back, leaning against the other chair. From the amount of dust on it she didn’t receive visitors. But its presence hinted that she once had. Or had expected some.
“She must be showing signs by now. Of her true nature. Of what she’ll become.”
I stared into the flames, unable to meet her eyes. Because hadn’t I seen hints and flickers in the princess, that all was not as it should be? Wasn’t that, really, why I was here?
I straightened my spine and closed my eyes, massaging my bump. Unable to still the twitch of a smile as a nudge from inside acknowledged my touch. The journey had been tougher than I’d let on to Mallory and I ached, but she didn’t need to know that.
“Any chance of a brew? Something that hasn’t been simmered and bespelled? I have some chamomile in my pack if you have nothing.”
She snorted, but she’d drummed simple courtesy to visitors, welcome or not, into me years ago, and it still held for her. I heard her shuffle away and a clatter of pots.
“Here.” She shoved a simple clay mug into my hand, the heat welcome to my chilled fingers. I raised it to my nose and inhaled carefully.
“Chamomile and… gooseberry leaf?”
“That’s right. To soothe and settle. I’ll not harm a babe unborn. Not without a damn good reason anyway.”
I had already been through this over and over on my way up the mountain. I was here to ask for help, so I had to show some sign of trust. I took a sip.

***********

Don’t forget to check out these other stories too, and let people know if you enjoy their stories (we’re lonely creatures at times and a little bit of encouragement can make all the difference!)

Lee Lowery All Aboard
Elizabeth McCleary OverWhelmed
Viola Fury The Day The Cat Got Out
Karen Lynn Dragon Smoke and Wind
Katharina Gerlach Lobster One
S.R. Olson Malakai’s Gift
Wendy Smyer Yu Into The Light
Emily Plesner Time Stops When I’m With You
Barbara Lund Separate Space
Shana Blueming A Melting Heart
Juneta Key Don’t Drink The Water

Posted in Storytime Blog Hops, Writing | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

A-Z of Fictional Characters: E is for Elezaar

wolfbladeElezaar from Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon.

A while back I mentioned that I rated two books with killer hooks in the first scene.
This is the other one.

It begins with Elezaar hiding, terrified of discovery as he has to watch his brother being murdered.

Elezaar is a dwarf and a slave, with only his wits to depend on in a world where he has no rights and is the sole survivor of the massacre of his household.

To survive, he has to find a new owner (and thereby protector) fast. He talks his way into the position of slave to Marla Wolfblade and this changes the survival odds for both of them.

Marla is a young girl who just wants to dream of love and marriage, but Marla is the sister to Hythria’s ruling prince, and has been chosen to continue the royal line.

Elezaar must manipulate Marla into making the decisions that work best for him, and as his brother’s killers veer between being enemies and allies to Marla, so he must tread carefully as he guides her to become a diplomat and tactician to be reckoned with.

Jennifer Fallon’s Wolfblade trilogy is a prequel to her Demon Child trilogy. Focusing on the Wolfblade family and the events that mould Damon Wolfblade (Marla’s son) into the character he becomes.
I term this as ‘political fantasy’; less magic but lots of twists, plots and shenanigans. If you like Games of Thrones, you should love this. (It has closure ;))

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IWSG July: Best things and story hops

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, when the…

IWSG Badge
…founded by Alex J Cavanaugh, blog about their hopes, dreams and fears. If you want to join this merry band of writers Click here to add your name to the list…
The awesome co-hosts for this month are; Yolanda Renee, Tyrean Martinson, Madeline Mora-Summonte , LK Hill, Rachna Chhabria, and JA Scott!

This month our IWSG hosts have given us a question prompt of “What’s the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?”

Well, it’s funny you should ask, because (in case you missed it) I recently had a story published in a magazine and for a lot of friends it was the first time they’d have read anything of mine. I suspect there may have been a bit of eye rolling and comments along the lines of “Oh god, I suppose I’d better read the damn thing now.”

But then I received this text;
“Oh my goodness I’ve just read your story. It was frickin amazing. I wanted more. It was my kind of story. I want you to write a full novel now!! x”

And that was just awesome. More than being published, more than being paid. Being told that gave me a warm fuzzy feeling inside and put a big stupid grin on my face every time I went back and read it (which I did several times over the following days!)

So if you like something, don’t forget to tell people – it can make their month🙂

The other thing I wanted to mention is an invitation for authors of speculative fiction to join our Storytime Blog Hop.

storytime bloghop

Interested? Read On!

The STORYTIME BLOG HOP was founded in 2015 by students of “How To Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers,” writing course created by writer and teacher Holly Lisle.
The hop schedule follows this pattern:
The 4th Wednesday of the month,

January
April
July
October

The NEXT HOP is JULY 27, 2016.
This is the 3rd StoryTime Blog Hop of 2016!

Our host this month has opened the blog hop to authors outside the Holly Lisle forums. Write your story according to the rules below. Post it on your site and send the perma LINK to KLynn email down below.

Links are DUE on the 20th of July.
THE RULES ARE::

Short story/flash fiction up 1000 words
(PG RATED–No Violence, Erotica or Foul Language)
Genre: GENERAL Speculative Fiction

(The wikipedia definition of Speculative Fiction is: “a broad category of narrative fiction that includes elements, settings and characters created out of imagination and speculation rather than based on reality and everyday life. It encompasses the genres of science fiction, fantasy, science fantasy, horror, alternative history, and magic realism.”)

****
SEND your links TO (KLynn) at karen@reprobatetypewriter.com, or if you are a Holly Student you can PM Klynn on the forum with the link to your story.

Make sure to send your link to KLynn by July 20th to participate
Use the blog hop image (above) to announce the hop on your own site and social media.

And, of course, we’re grateful for all the publicity we can get.

Need to know what time to schedule your post to go live on July 27, 2016?

We’re using midnight GMT as the release time, as much as possible. (UTC, if you want to talk computers instead of airplanes.) Here’s a link to tell you when Midnight UTC is in your timezone–just find your location on the drop down:

Time Converter/Locator

Here are links to the January and April hops to give you an idea of what they were like.

Even if you don’t join us this time, I hope you’ll drop by and check out some great stories on the 27th July. And like I said earlier, if you like something, don’t forget to tell people – it can make their month🙂

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Switching your blog from self-hosted to wordpress only – For Dummies!

After 3 years of blogging, I decided to shift from my self-hosted .com site to a free wordpress only site.
I had no issues with my hosting provider (Tigertech), but while it was nice to own my domain name, it has been money down the drain. Because I’m not doing anything commercially, there’s no return and during my 3 years of blogging I’ve seen plenty of successful writers with wordpress-only blogs. It seemed the sensible thing to do.

However. Despite it being a fairly painless process due to the helpful instructions I found online, it wasn’t completely obvious.
This was mainly, I think, due to certain assumptions that we actually have a clue as to what we’re doing!

So, for anyone out there in similar circumstances, here are my instructions on how to switch from self-hosted to wordpress-only – for dummies!

But before you do anything, don’t forget to back up a copy of your blog.

Done that? Ok, then let’s continue.

The thing that confused me the most was the instruction that you need a wordpress.com account first. Some comments seemed to imply that if you’re already self-hosted then you’ll have a .org rather than a .com account.
Well, for whatever reason I had a .com account. Had I done something wrong at some point? Had things changed since I set things up? Was this going to cause me any problems? Had I read this wrong?

Don’t sweat it. I never did find a definitive answer to this and it hasn’t caused me any problems. If you already have one, continue to use it. If not, create one.

OK, so the next bit really is as straightforward as it seems, even though I hesitated on pressing the button for a long time because I wasn’t sure what the consequences would be.
Calm down. Nothing explodes. Nothing gets deleted.

On your wordpress dashboard menu, select Tools -> Export.
Then click Download. This will copy the contents of your blog into a file on your computer.
Just make sure you know where to find it!

The next bit is where I got confused.
You see, when you set up a wordpress blog, your default is a wp domain name. When you opt to buy your own domain then your blog gets pointed to the new name instead.
For some reason I’d assumed that the wp version of my domain name existed all along in the background. (It didn’t, it was an ‘either/or’ option).

So, when I clicked Tools -> Import, it just copied it back into my existing blog and I ended up with a duplicate menu.

Eventually it dawned on me that I had to go through the original process of setting up a blog.

[on your WP menu, select My Sites -> switch site -> add new wordpress
This takes you through a 5-step process to set up a blog. Don’t worry about what theme to select, any old one will do as you’re about to import your old one. The important thing to do is when you choose the name, select the example.wordpress.com free option.
Ta-da! There is your new free, virgin blog.]

Now, go into the wp menu on your new site.
Select WP admin -> Tools -> Import
Then select ‘wordpress‘ from the given list.
Click Browse to select the file that you just downloaded onto your computer from your old site.
Click Upload file and import.

And wait for the magic to happen.

I received a message saying that it could take up to 24 hours, but the process was almost instantaneous.
I then spent a while faffing around because although my blog content was in place, I had to re-create my menus (they were in the appearance -> menus section, I just had to select and position them).
I also had to set up the widgets on my side bar. But again this was straightforward – especially as I still had my old site to refer to.

And that’s it. Job done – or nearly…

You need to let people know where to find you!

I put up a final post on my old site with details of my new blog address. Then I updated all the links to my site such as Twitter, Facebook and any other sites holding a link.

Then, only when I was happy with all that, did I pull the plug on my Tigertech account. Don’t do that until you’re sure you don’t need anything from your old site. I can’t speak for other hosting providers, but with Tigertech, the cancellation was instantaneous.

So. Here I am; new premises.

Welcome. Settle in, look around. Let’s stick the kettle on and get comfy!
cup of tea

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Free 3-day fiction writing mini workshop

HollysWritingClasses-2015-Logo-200x200-FLAT

Holly Lisle’s How To Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, Class of 2017 opens Tuesday, June 14 at 10 AM. (Eastern Standard Time)

Registration is only open for one week, and this is the only time the course will be available this year. Continue reading

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