And the answers are…

I realise that your fingernails will be ragged with the stress of wanting to know the answers to last week’s first lines, so without further ado, here they are;

  1. “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. (Little Women, Louisa M Alcott).
  2. All children, except one, grow up. (Peter Pan, J M Barrie).
  3. Garp’s mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston, in 1942 for wounding a man in a theatre. (The World According to Garp, John Irving).
  4. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. (1984, George Orwell).
  5. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C S Lewis).
  6. In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf. (The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle).
  7. As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an enormous insect. (Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka).
  8. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. (The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath).

(And no – I wouldn’t have known all of them, that’s the beauty of being in a team.)

Happy reading and happy writing! 🙂

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#IWSG March – Epiphany moment

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are; Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner. (Please stop by to say hello to them).

Last month I went to a book quiz with a couple of writer friends, and one of the rounds was on first lines…

“Oh no,” I thought. “People always bang on about first lines and I’m rubbish at them. I know the first line of Pride & Prejudice (like everyone else), but that’s it.”

But then I had an epiphany moment. Let me show you.

  1. “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
  2. All children, except one, grow up.
  3. Garp’s mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston, in 1942 for wounding a man in a theatre.
  4. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
  5. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
  6. In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.
  7. As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an enormous insect.
  8. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.

I might not know the lines by memory, I might not even have read the book, but that first sentence gives some kind of clue about the rest of the book.

Lots of them have a main character’s name. That’s a big clue. Others might give you a place or an event that sets the time for you. Or you may not recognise the name, but turning into an enormous insect might be a bit of a clue.

Not all novels give pointers in this way, and that doesn’t make them worse because they’re likely setting the scene in some other way, by grabbing the attention or posing questions. It’s given me a new insight and something to think about when putting together the first line for my next story or novel.

I’ll post the answers next week. In the meantime, what novels do you think they’re from? (No cheating!!)

 

 

 

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A to Z of fictional characters: K is for Kate

It’s ages since I’ve written one of these posts, and I was quite excited when I realised the next character on my lists is Kait Galweigh from Holly Lisle’s Secret Texts trilogy.

Kait is such a cool character. She’s tough, she’s clever and she works to her own moral code. We first meet her in book one, A diplomacy of Wolves, when she is chaperoning her cousin at a party.

Should be simple, right? But it’s Kait’s first major role as a family diplomat, and her cousin is behaving as wildly as possible rather than the demure, virginal marriage prospect she’s supposed to be.

And Kait has a secret. She’s not completely human, and if anyone finds out, she’s dead. Even her own family won’t protect her.

But the plot of a rival family is about to destroy the world she knows, and the magic in her blood may be all that can save her. That, and an uneasy alliance with an enemy.

If you like strong female characters, (actually, strong male characters too – let’s not be picky, and there are some awesomely good baddies), a bit of were-action, transformative magic that has consequences (and boy – you don’t use it lightly in this world!) then it’s really worth meeting Kate and her crowd.

 

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#IWSG February 2018: Time to get on with things.

Hello Everyone, and Happy February!

This month I am extremely chuffed to be co-hosting the IWSG blog-hop, (which occurs on the first Wednesday of the month), alongside these awesome people; Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte! Do stop by their blogs to say hello, and don’t forget our founder, Alex Cavanaugh.

February (I’ve decided), is the month when we actually settle down and get on with things. January was full of the panic and pain of resolutions, but now we can take a breath and put some more realistic plans in place.

Me? I’ve concluded that yes, 2018 has to be all about re-writing my novel, but I also want to give some space to the little voice that keeps whispering to me about short stories.

And that leads me very neatly to this month’s question: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

I’ve come to the conclusion that my preferred genre is Speculative Fiction. It’s a lovely umbrella term that covers fantasy, sci-fi, the paranormal and probably all sorts of others too. I love the scope that gives me; I can spread out and try different things rather than wedging myself into a genre box. With spec fic I can create my own rules, history and societies. Heck, I could create my own gender if I wanted (although I haven’t gone that far). I can concentrate on seemingly unimportant characters or on huge events, the only limit is my own creativity. (Although it helps if it makes sense to the reader too).

But… I also write short stories for women’s magazines, and in some ways this is a release valve. A novel is a big thing, that takes ages. A short story is an outing, a day trip into someone else’s world, a break from the ‘great work’. It’s also where I get to play with the little triggers that go off in the world around me, (the friend insecure about their new boyfriend; litter; going through a loved one’s effects), that prompt me to think, “Ooh, I could make a story about that! And that!”

I’m still trying to put together a good time management structure though. My mind, it seems, is a very untidy place.

Thank you for stopping by, and don’t forget to visit our other awesome hosts! I’m looking forward to visiting all your blogs to discover what you love about your preferred genre.

Oh, and before I go, can I give a quick plug for the Exeter Writers Short Story Competition? First prize is £500! Closing date is 28th February.

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Storytime Blog Hop – Jan 2018

 

It’s time for another storytime blog hop!

Founded by students of Holly Lisle in 2015 (I’m a founder member!) This is a quarterly hop to share short pieces of speculative fiction.

I don’t have a story in the hop this time, but check out all these other cool stories;

  1. Monstrous Monday by Fanni Soto
  2. Grandma’s Legacy by Elizabeth McCleary
  3. Dragonslayer by Barbara Lund
  4. Megan’s Virus by Karen Lynn
  5. Studenting by Chris Makowski
  6. I, The Magician by Raven O’Fiernan
  7. Growth Spurt by Bill Bush
  8. Mystical Manatee Park by J. Q. Rose
  9. Phased Out by Kami Bataya
  10. Snow White (17) MURDERED by K. M. Flint
  11. A Character Profile by Juneta Key

Don’t forget to let people know if you enjoyed their story!

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Exeter Writers Short Story Competition 2018

I’ve been a member of Exeter Writers for a few years now, and one of the things we do each year is run our international short story competition.

We receive entries from all over the world, and there’s no restriction on theme or genre (other than that we don’t accept children’s stories).

The entry fee is £6, which goes straight towards the prizes, and they’re good prizes;

1st prize – £500, 2nd prize – £250, 3rd prize – £100

And if you’re lucky enough to live in Devon, there’s a special prize of £100 for the best entry from a Devon writer.

We have over 20 members in our group and nearly everyone gets involved in the judging process, and even though we have varied tastes, we all enjoy a good, well written story.

Visit the website for further details and to see examples of the stories that have won in the past and then get your entry in for this year before the closing date of 28th February!

 

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#IWSG Jan18: Planning and schedules (oh my!)

Happy New Year! It’s a nice fresh, clean slate to be insecure and procrastinate all over! So it’s very apt that my first post of 2018 is for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly hop.

This merry band of writers, started by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, blog on the first Wednesday of every month to share their hopes, dreams and fears. If you’d like to join us, then you can sign up here!

This month’s prompt question is: What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

This is a very timely prompt for me, because it made me realise that although I have a high level plan in my head, I hadn’t nailed anything down on paper. That, of course, means that any plan is subject to the vagaries of memory and distraction.

The plan so far was; work on short stories in November and December, then in the new year revisit my novel for a complete plot overhaul following some feedback.

That still works as an overall plan, but I still hadn’t thought through the minutae. A timetable, if you will.

There’s the daily stuff, the small print. We now have a puppy, so my morning routine will be; get the kids to school and walk the dog before I get to start writing. That gets exercise into the mix, and maybe I can give myself a daily ‘agile’ meeting at the same time to work out the day’s requirements.

(And I absolutely must be stricter with social media this year. Writing must come first, otherwise the time gets sucked away.)

Then, back to the bigger picture, I need to work out a timetable of what I want to acheive, and when by.

I’m going to leave it there for now. (I don’t want to scare myself into failure!) Let’s get a few things in place at a time and fine tune as I go.

How about you? Do you have plans in place, or do you need a nudge too?

Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to visit this month’s co-hosts; Tyrean Martinson, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Megan Morgan, Jennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria!

(Oh, and before I go, can I plug the Exeter Writers Short Story Competition? First prize is £500, 2nd prize is £250, and 3rd prize is £100. The closing date is 28th Feb 2018. It’d be great to see some IWSG-er’s among the winning entries!)

 

 

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