Maisie, What Have You Done? – WIPpet Wednesday

ButtStorm700x700CenteredI don’t think I’ll ever manage to post an extract from A Long Way From Home which doesn’t find Maisie and co. in some kind of trouble. Today’s WIPpet is no exception and a bit of a tease because it’s rather short. Maisie is with Edward, a new friend, and they’re in a villa in Roman Britain trying to find Lizzie. I’ve been creative with my WIPpet maths and I give you one paragraph from chapter 12. The one paragraph for it being the first month of the year, and chapter 12 because 1+5+1+1+4=12 for the 15/01/14.

 

Edward practically rugby tackled me to the ground. “Now you’ve done it.” He grabbed my hand, pulled me to my feet and started running along the hallway back the way we’d come.

 

My main focus this week is actually on The Butterfly Storm because I thought I’d give a KDP free promotion another go. I was blown away by the results I had last August and I’m hoping for the same again this time – although I’m not holding my breath. My promotion runs for 5 days from today until Sunday 19th. So, if you’ve not got a copy and fancy a free read then please download it (or tell your friends about it if you think they’ll like it). Any tweets or shares on Facebook will be much appreciated. Thank you!

Back to WIPpet Wednesday… Along with some tetchy flying monkeys, the very welcoming K L Schwengel hosts WIPpet Wednesday over on her blog, My Random Muse. Get creative with your maths and choose an extract of your work in progress that has a link in some way to the date and post it here if you’d like to join in. Happy writing and reading.

 

The Rather Fabulous TaDa Award!

ta-daIt’s the beginning of award season with the Bafta nominations recently being announced and the Oscars just around the corner. In the blogging world the talented ReGi McClain decided to kick off 2014 with the TaDa Award and I was one of the lucky recipients.

ReGi is a writer of fantasy and has recently been posting chronological snippets of her latest work in progress Queen of Bears on Wednesdays over on her fabulous blog, ReGi McClain’s Fortnight Stories. It’s well worth checking out. ReGi has also posted her own answers to the TaDa Award which you can read here.

So without further ado here are my answers to ReGi’s questions:

1. What was the best experience you had on purpose last year?

Finding out at our 12-week scan that I had a wriggly little baby on board with a good strong heart-beat.

2. What was the best experience you stumbled into last year?

Teaching at Bath Spa University (where I did my Creative Writing MA). I’d never taught before and it was completely unexpected. Emma Hooper, who I knew from the MA, had been teaching the course but ended up moving to the music department and so they needed someone to replace her in the middle of the year and she suggested me. I happened to know and had worked with the course leader previously and so thought I’d be in with a chance of getting an interview but was simply offered the job over the phone. Cue a huge amount of nerves – I can’t tell you how ridiculously nervous I was before the first class – but it was too good an experience to turn down (see question eight).

3. What was your greatest intentional accomplishment last year?

Finally publishing my novel, The Butterfly Storm. It had taken nine-years from first starting to write it to launching the book on the 12th June and I couldn’t be happier with how things have gone and how the book on the whole has been received over the past seven months.

4. What was your greatest unplanned accomplishment last year?

My greatest unplanned accomplishment was finding out I was pregnant. Although this was something we’d most definitely planned, these things don’t always happen when you want them to, and so became hope rather than a plan. For us it’s been a very long and difficult journey to reach this point. We decided in 2008 that we wanted a family and so started trying in 2009 only to be referred for fertility treatment two years later when we’d had no success. By May last year we had three failed cycles and one early miscarriage behind us and to be perfectly honest I knew the chances of cycle number four being a success were slim. But against all odds the pregnancy test on the 18th June was positive and that wriggly little thing that we saw at the 12-week scan is now a kicky and ever-growing baby who’s due in less than six-weeks time.

5. Did you spend time with someone you adore last year?

Yes, my lovely husband Nik.

6. Were you nice to someone you don’t like last year?

To be honest I can’t think of anyone I know that I don’t like.

7. What was the most amazing thing you learned last year?

That self-publishing is a viable and very satisfying option to being published traditionally. That first 5-star review for The Butterfly Storm from someone I didn’t know was truly amazing.

8. Who did you teach last year and what (G-rated thing) did you teach them?

Between January and May I taught the Lifewriting course at Bath Spa University to Creative Writing undergraduates. It was my first experience of teaching and it was both terrifying and exciting. There was a group of 20 or so students ranging from the age of 19 up to someone in their 50s and apart from a varied reading list the classes focused on teaching interview techniques, doing creative writing and work shopping each other’s work. Oh, and marking 40+ creative writing papers.

9. What events did you attend last year?

In March I went with my Mum to see author Hilary Mantel give a talk during the Bath Literature Festival and I also attended a fantastic day-long workshop called New to Teaching Creative Writing. In June I went to local author Lucienne Boyce’s book launch and then later in the summer, along with Elaine Jeremiah we headed to Bath for a talk about self-publishing. At the beginning of August there was a surprise 80th birthday party for my Great Aunt and finally in December a Christmas meal with work colleagues.

10. Did you travel anywhere? Even just downtown?  

There was no travel abroad this year but Nik and I did eventually get away to Norfolk for a few days (after the nightmare of our car breaking down), and we also visited my brother, his girlfriend and our little nephew at their beautiful home in Wales, once in the summer and the second time at the beginning of December.

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I won’t nominate anyone in particular but I will instead pass on the TaDa Award to anyone who follows my blog and fancies writing about their year in review – or simply let me know what you got up to in 2013 in the comments below.

Dangerous Times – WIPpet Wednesday

Dangerous extractThe festivities are over, the decorations are packed away for another year and life is back to normal. For people who had the whole two weeks off over Christmas and New Year I can imagine that this first week back at work is pretty miserable, particularly considering the wet and windy weather that’s been battering most of the UK recently. I’ve always tended to have jobs that have meant I’ve had to work during the festive season and often on the main holiday days. Although I worked the weekends over the past two weeks, I did get to enjoy a work-free Christmas and New Year for the first time in eight years.

It actually feels quite good to be back to normal and not overindulging. I have renewed vigor to get writing, not least because with only a third of A Long Way From Home written I’m already finding it increasingly difficult to find an extract without too many spoilers for WIPpet Wednesday. With that in mind I’ve opted for just one paragraph from chapter eight for the 08/01/14. The trouble with a novel that involves time-travel is that unless you read it from the beginning it’s very difficult to make sense of it, however much you explain it. All I will say is this WIPpet is set in ancient Rome and involves another new character called Lucia who’s talking to Maisie and Danny.

With her dagger Lucia ripped the cloth covering the opening in the side of the coach. “You need to go somewhere unexpected, dangerous even, but a time where you’ve got somewhere safe you can hide or a friend that can help you.”

WIPpet Wednesday is hosted by K L Schwengel over on My Random Muse. To join in the rules are simple – post an extract here that corresponds with the date or use ingenious WIPpet maths to make it work. There are always some interesting and diverse WIPpets posted each week if you fancy a good read.

Happy New Year WIPpet Wednesday!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHappy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a fabulous New Year’s Eve kissing goodbye to 2013 and welcoming in 2014.  We had a quiet one at home and I just about managed to stay awake until midnight.

I usually find the eve of a new year quite odd – there’s this big build up all for a second to pass and take us into the next year. Last New Year’s Eve I couldn’t wait to say goodbye to 2012, which had proved to be one of the most difficult twelve months of my life. When the clock struck midnight and 2012 turned into 2013 I was hopeful that it would be a better year and although the beginning couple of months were challenging, so very disappointing and echoed of history repeating itself, by June the hope I’d had on New Year’s Eve was beginning to turn into reality. Not only did I launch my debut novel on the 12th June, but a week later I found out I was pregnant. The two things I’d wanted for so long had happened at the same time.

A new year often focuses on new starts, whether that’s making new year’s resolutions or making plans about what you’re going to do that year. For me 2014 is all about becoming a mum first and foremost, but I also aim to publish my second novel by the end of the year and, time allowing, finish writing a first draft of the second book in the Time Shifters trilogy.

It’s a new beginning too for Maisie and co. in Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home. In this extract for the 01/01/14 I give you one paragraph in which a new character has joined in with the adventure. Remember that curly blonde-haired boy from a couple of weeks back who had confronted Maisie and Danny with a sword? Well, quite a bit has happened since then and Edward has managed to get time-shifted with Maisie to Roman Britain.

Edward clamped his hand over my mouth and pulled me towards the trees. There was a rhythmic clomp of horses’ hooves and the creak of cart wheels. We huddled down into the undergrowth and Edward unsheathed his sword.

WIPpet Wednesday is hosted by K L Schwengel over on My Random Muse. If you’re interested you can also read the last WIPterview of the year that she did with me here. If you’d like to join in and become a WIPpeteer yourself then simply post an extract of your work in progress that corresponds in some way to the date (for example one paragraph for the 1st January, although you can be more creative than that), and add you link to this linky.

All that’s left to say is Happy New Year and I hope that 2014 proves to be a happy, healthy and successful year for all of us.

What are your plans, writing or otherwise, for 2014? 

A Very Merry Christmas WIPpet Wednesday

Christmas FrodoMerry Christmas everyone! I’ve cheated this week by actually writing this post in advance because right now I’m cooking our Christmas dinner and singing along to festive songs. It’s just Nik and I this year (plus Frodo and ‘bump’ of course) and it will be our first Christmas on our own (we usually go to my Mum and Dad’s). We’ll sit down and eat about 1pm before opening our presents and then spending the rest of the day all cosy in the living room with the wood burner going, roasting chestnuts, playing board games and watching Christmas TV.

Everyone keeps telling me to make the most of one last quiet Christmas because next year will be frantic with a baby. But that’s what I’m really looking forward to, as in my mind that’s what Christmas is all about – family. I remember Christmas being such a special time when I was growing up, with my Mum, Dad, brother and I always spending the holidays with my Grandparents and uncle on their farm in Norfolk. To be able to replicate those happy times with our own son or daughter will be simply magical – however hectic it may be.

Maisie and Danny in today’s extract definitely aren’t having quite such a magical time in ancient Rome. This scene from page 25 for the 25th December takes place a little bit before this one that I posted a couple of weeks ago. Maisie and Danny have just been chased through the streets of Rome by two men and have found somewhere they hope will be safe.

The double doors were made from a rich-coloured wood and had carvings all over them. I looked closer at images of hooded riders on horseback, of battles, and characters eating from plates piled high with food. In the centre, and crossing both doors, three letters were carved into the wood:

D M L

“Danny, Maisie, Lizzie,” I said. “This is definitely the place.”

“Get the key Maisie – they can’t be far behind.”

I tipped the key into my hand from the locket round my neck. I searched the door. “Danny. There’s nowhere for a key to go. There’s no lock.”

“There’s got to be.”

“I promise you there isn’t.”

He had his back to me and was looking along the street the way we’d come. “We need to get inside, like now.”

The fabulous K L Schwengel hosts WIPpet Wednesday over on her blog, My Random Muse, so do pop over and say hello, have a read of the other diverse WIPpets or even post your own extract here.

I will get round to reading all the other WIPpets but with all this eating, drinking (non-alcoholic of course) and being merry to do, it might take me until the end of the week. In the meantime, have a very happy Christmas all my fellow WIPpeteers and blog readers and I’ll see you back here on the 1st January 2014!

A Blast From the Past – WIPpet Wednesday

Christmas presentsWith just one week to go until Christmas, festive fever has well and truely hit the UK. Everywhere you go Christmas songs are playing; the German market in the centre of Bristol is in full swing; and the shops are heaving with people frantically buying presents for their loved ones. I’ve written my Christmas cards and sent them off and all the presents are wrapped and looking very lovely under the tree. This lunchtime I’m off out for my first roast turkey dinner with friends from work. I may not be able to move this afternoon so that will be the perfect excuse to make the rounds and read everyone’s WIPpets.

My WIPpet maths is simple today – 18 (nice and short) paragraphs for the 18th December from Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home. Be warned it is a completely unedited first draft! In this extract Maisie and Danny are time-shifting again after finding themselves in yet more trouble in ancient Rome. They’re in a horse-drawn covered coach escaping Rome when they’re attacked. Maisie has very little time to decide about where and when they should attempt to time-shift to…

There was another shudder. I didn’t know if it was Hunters attacking the coach or us about to time shift. I kept my eyes tightly shut and concentrated on the warmth of the fire in the Great Hall and the feel of the well-worn wood of the table.

Another shudder. And then the cushions we’d been sitting on fell away from beneath us and we were left spinning. My legs kicked nothing but air and my arms gripped Danny tighter and tighter. I didn’t dare open my eyes, not just because I’d be able to see ourselves falling but also because I was terrified about where we’d actually end up.

Still with linked arms we thudded on to a stone floor and ended up sprawled on the ground. I opened my eyes and untangled myself from Danny. It was definitely Robbie’s Great Hall, except there was no roaring fire and the room was cold and unwelcoming with grey light streaming through the windows.

“Where are we?” Danny brushed dirt from off his makeshift toga.

“Robbie’s house. The guy me and Lizzie met in 1471.”

The door creaked open and a servant walked in with a bundle of wood in her arms. She stopped when she saw us, let out a seriously loud scream and dropped the wood on the floor.

“It’s okay,” I said, holding my hands out and taking a step towards her. “We’re friends of Lord Robert’s.”

She screamed again, turned and ran from the room.

“That went well,” Danny said. “You do realise how ridiculous we look dressed like this.” He pointed at himself.

“At least we both made it here.”

There were voices out in the main hallway and a boy, a little bit older than us, charged into the Great Hall with a sword pointing towards us.

Both Danny and me held up our hands and took a step backwards towards the fireplace.

“Who are you?” he asked, stepping further into the room.

“We’re friends of Lord Roberts,” I said again. The boy was tall and muscular but with a boyish face and dark blonde curly hair.

“Why are you dressed like that?”

I could see a couple of servants hovering out in the hallway. “You wouldn’t believe us if we told you.”

“Try me.”

I met his eyes and slowly it dawned on me that I might have met him before. “Who are you?”

I may or may not reveal who he is in a future WIPpet, although my lovely beta readers who read the first Time Shifters book might be able to work it out.

K L Schwengel hosts WIPpet Wednesday over on her fabulous blog, My Random Muse. You can check out the rest of the WIPpeteers offerings over there or even join in yourself by simply posting an extract of your work in progress here that relates to the day. 18 lines, paragraphs or even words for the 18th December – you get the idea…

This time next week it’ll be Christmas Day! I hope everyone’s feeling festive and are all ready for the celebrations. Only seven more sleeps. :-)

Finally Feeling Festive – WIPpet Wednesday

Christmas tree 2013I’m a bit later than normal publishing my WIPpet post because while there are half price sales on and Nik and I both have a few days off together (for once) we’ve been out shopping for nursery furniture, a pram and a car seat. Nik’s also been busy painting the nursery and I’ve decorated our Christmas tree so we’re beginning to feel rather festive. It is, however, far from festive for Maisie and Danny in this week’s WIPpet as towards the beginning of Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home they find themselves time-shifted to somewhere hot, noisy and a little bit dangerous. No surprises there. Confusingly these two paragraphs (for the 2 in 11/12/13) from page 11 take place before last week’s WIPpet.

I stepped up on to the bench. My heart skipped a beat as I realised what I’d done. A sea of people spread out in front of us, their attention focused on the arena in the centre. There was sand, just as I’d imagined but it wasn’t a lovely clean beach yellow. Instead, blood soaked into the sand forming large pools around the gladiators who were already dead or dying.

“The Coliseum. You imagined the Coliseum?” Danny said as we were shoved backwards by one of the Romans jumping on to our bench to get a better view of a gladiator holding his sword above the chest of one of the gladiators sprawled on the ground.

I warned you it wasn’t very festive.

The lovely K L Schwengel hosts WIPpet Wednesday and has been doing interviews with the WIPpeteers over the past couple of weeks, which are well worth checking out. If you want to join in and become a WIPpeteer yourself then post an extract of your work in progress that relates, however loosely, to the date and add it to the link here.

In Trouble Yet Again – WIPpet Wednesday

venice3It’s good to be back and joining in with WIPpet Wednesday again – I’ve missed you guys! November was spent working on Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home and I have to say after months and months spent editing, first The Butterfly Storm and then Time Shifters, it was so good to actually start writing again. Getting approximately 20,000 words written during NaNo also means that I have a whole new WIP that I can post extracts from. It’s rough, and I mean really rough, but that’s what WIPpet Wednesday is all about isn’t it? Sharing our work in progress in all its first-drafty glory.

So, for the 4th December I’m giving you 12 sentences from chapter 4 of Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home. This extract features Maisie and Danny who have – unsurprisingly – managed to get themselves into a bit of trouble in ancient Rome.

We tumbled inside, practically pushing the woman out of the way, and shut the heavy door firmly behind us. A great wooden bar fell into place and it was only seconds later that the weight of the two men landed against the door. It didn’t budge. We took a step back and turned to the woman.

She had a tanned face and looked Italian with dark golden hair braided on top of her head. She wore a floating cream dress that had an embroidered band above the waist. She stared at us with wide brown eyes.

“Hello Maisie. Hello Danny,” she said.

I frowned. “You know our names?”

“You speak English.” Danny took another step into the villa.

So there you have it. The WIPpeteers are a friendly bunch and if you fancy joining in simply post an extract of your WIP that relates in some way to the date and add your link here. WIPpet Wednesday is also a fabulous way of making writing friends from all round the world. Elaine and I were lucky enough to meet fellow WIPpeteer, Emily, during her recent visit to the UK. After spending time in London and Cardiff Emily was in Bath for a few days so we met one chilly evening in a cafe and had a lovely chat for a couple of hours before she headed off to Paris.

Many thanks as always to K L Schwengel for hosting WIPpet Wednesday.

Writing a Novel in a Month – Yes Really

KindleWell no, actually. I had every intention of taking part in NaNoWriMo and writing 50,000 words of Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home in November, which would have meant having almost a first draft completed by yesterday. All I needed to do was write 1,675 words every day between the 1st and the 30th November and ta da! 50,000 words would have miraculously appeared. Easy right? Well, for the first five days it was – I nailed my daily quota of 1,675 words and saw my word count grow on my NaNo stats page. And then on day six, other stuff took over.

There was cleaning and sorting in our house to be done whilst both Nik and I were off; appointments to go to and friends to see (despite the fact that I’d tried to keep November as free as possible it didn’t work out that way). The other – and probably main issue – was not having a detailed enough plot written out before starting NaNo to enable me to keep the flow of writing going. Despite this being the second book of a trilogy and already knowing the characters, plus having an idea of what would happen next, I’d only really plotted the beginning of the novel. I usually write like this and just have a vague idea of certain scenes and where the story is going to go but for NaNo this approach certainly slowed the word count progress down.

My total word count in November was a not-too-shabby (in my mind anyway) 20,117 words. Okay, it’s a good way off 50,000 words but I have managed to kick-start book two, discovered new characters I wasn’t expecting, and am pretty much one-third of the way through the book. Not bad really for one month’s writing. If I carry on like this I could have a first draft written by the end of January. (Watch this space but please don’t hold your breath…)

Taking part in NaNo has also made me aware of the way in which I write. Usually when I write something whether it’s a paragraph, a whole chapter or a couple of thousand words in one go, the next day I’ll go back to it, read through and edit it before writing anything new. With NaNo that way of working isn’t really possible, you just have to keep writing. In many ways that was quite refreshing to lock away the editor in me and simply keep putting words down. Even if they’re the wrong words and will need to be edited at some point in the future, what taking part in NaNo has successfully achieved is the sense of a story and in which direction book two will go in – even if it is unbelievably rough.

Whether you took part in NaNo or not I hope you had a productive writing month.

Estelle Wilkinson Guest Post – It Started With A Click

Estelle WilkinsonI’m delighted that my blog is being taken over today by a fellow author, the lovely Estelle Wilkinson. Estelle was kind enough to host me on my own blog tour in the summer so I was more than happy to return the favour when she contacted me a couple of weeks ago.

Estelle is the author of It Started With A Click: The Story of an eBay Romance and both her, and her book, have been on quite a journey during this past year. But I’ll leave it up to Estelle to tell you more.

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A big thank you to Kate for hosting me on my tour and allowing me the opportunity to talk about my new release. It is most kind and I am thoroughly grateful of your support. May I also take this opportunity to pass on my congratulations on your non-writing news! How very exciting. I look forward to seeing news in the new year of your new arrival.

A little bit of background…

I still find it quite odd being referred to as an author. Especially since my story was already there for me to work on. I fell into this publishing world quite by accident but have to admit I’m rather enjoying it. I never expected the support and camaraderie that I’m experiencing. Mostly from people I’ve never met too!

My book would not be here (as it is, revised and re-released) if it weren’t for some very honest and helpful beta readers, friends, and authors sharing their advice and experience to allow me to have the confidence to give this a shot.It Started With A Click

Ten years ago (almost to the day) I met a man through eBay. Bizarre as it sounds. I’m a hoarder and so have kept all the emails. Over the years people who heard my story told me it would make a wonderful book. Learning about self-publishing I decided to go for it. I’m very impatient by nature and rushed into things head first. I made many mistakes along the way but have taken the bold steps needed to rectify some of those errors. It Started With A Click: The Story of an eBay Romance is now reborn in its new, fictionalised version and is a much better read thanks to some hard work and great advice from others!

I’ve really enjoyed playing around with my story and filling in blanks on a mission to fictionalise it. I have felt rather proud to be told (by published authors!) that I have a very natural writing style and do it well. It’s been a bumpy journey, and I know I still won’t be able to please everyone, but I hope I’ve succeeded in creating the right mood within in the book so that people can experience the feelings and excitement as I did all those years ago.

The story is an incredible insight into Catherine and Damien growing in their knowledge and mutual attraction of each other. With Catherine narrating as the book moves on, the reader gets an insider’s view of the romance as it blossoms.

The blurb…

It’s not unusual to find romance online through internet dating – but who would ever think of finding a partner on eBay?

That possibility never occurs to Catherine, happily single and playing the field. Until she goes on eBay in search of tickets to an England rugby match and gets rather more than she was bidding for…

After winning an auction for a pair of tickets, she strikes up a friendship with their seller, Damien. Fuelled by their common interest in rugby, their relationship moves forward very quickly. The more they find out about each other, the more they appear to have in common. But having never met, and with over 200 miles between them, can this really be the start of something special?

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Thank you Estelle for a great post (and the congratulations!), plus sharing an insight in to how you came to write and re-write It Started With A Click: The Story of an eBay Romance. I have great admiration for someone who can be so honest in putting their hands up and saying that they rushed the initial release of their book. To use feedback, both good and bad, to work on and revise a novel to make it stronger is a gutsy thing to do and one that I very much hope will pay off for Estelle.

I’ve got my copy of It Started With A Click, and if you fancy the sound of it too then it’s FREE until tomorrow, Tuesday 19th.

You can find Estelle in the following places: