Monday, 20 September 2021

How to Recycle Your Words - guest post from Annalisa Crawford

Welcome to Monday and to a guest I'm delighted to host on the blog, my good friend and critique partner, Annalisa Crawford. She recently launched her new book, Small Forgotten Moments. Perhaps you've read it or added it on to your TBR list, but what you might not know is it was revived from a much older draft. Annalisa's here to talk a bit about that process and how to make it work. Let's hand it over to her.

I have a skirt in my wardrobe which I’ve had since I was seventeen, and I’m lucky enough that it still fits. I still have my first teddy bear, and the posy of silk flowers I carried at my sister’s wedding are proudly displayed in a vase in my bedroom.

I’m not a hoarder – there are just some things I don’t  want to get rid of. Like words. As with most writers, I’ve kept old notebooks containing scribbled descriptions which were too perfect not to jot down and those random idea which hit you in the queue for the post office; I’ve kept abandoned short stories and completed novels which when I considered submitting were suddenly the worst things I’ve ever written.

But I can’t let them go. Some of those plots or characters clawed themselves back into my head until I had no choice but to resuscitate them. This happened with both my current novel, Small Forgotten Moments, and with Grace & Serenity before that. Both were at least ten years old when I dusted them off and began to figure out what exactly was wrong with them.

Obviously, this process has worked out quite well for me, so here are some tips for resurrecting your old stories.

1.      Figure out why the story didn’t work before, and be completely honest with yourself. Was it the characters, plot, theme, premise, genre, or something else entirely?

2.      Decide what was good about it. Why exactly are you thinking about working on it again?

3.      Be ruthless. Take a black marker pen to a printed out copy or delete words on the screen if they don’t conform to your new vision – subplots, characters, tangents. If they stop you in your tracks, get rid of them (or save them for another project!)

4.      But don’t forget to highlight the really fantastic bits. Those paragraphs or sentences will be the foundations to carry the project forward.

5.      Re-write from scratch. Don’t be tempted to simply edit or add a couple of scenes – your writing style might have changed in the months or years since you last picked it up, technology might have made some plot points obsolete unless you choose to retain the previous time setting, world events may add an additional dimension. Treat your current manuscript as an elaborate plan.

6.      Good luck!

If this has inspired you to take another look at an abandoned project, I’d love to know.

You can read more about Small Forgotten Moments at or go direct to my publisher’s website for all purchase options

About Annalisa Crawford

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall, UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, and canine writing partner, Artoo. She is the author of four short story collections, and two novels.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

The Cure by Patricia Josephine release

I'm helping celebrate the launch of Patricia Josephine's latest outing, The Cure, which looks like another excellent addition to a great collection of work by this author. You should check it out or some of her other books if you haven't already. 


Every human in the world becomes a zombie when they die. But Erin refuses to accept the world as it is now. She’s heard about a cure locked away in a lab in Upper Michigan, and she plans on retrieving it. To do so, she needs a zombie. Not just any zombie, though. 

Zee is Erin’s link to the lab. His connection to the living world is her bargaining chip. But only if she can teach him to control his mindless impulses.

Can a zombie be trained? Or will Erin be Zee’s next meal and become a zombie herself? The fate of humanity rests in her hands.

Universal Buy Link 

Add to Goodreads


I rose with the sun. A yawn shook me as I wiped the sleep from my eyes. Before the world ended, I wasn’t a morning person. Most days I woke closer to noon. My job as a freelance writer allowed it. Like an idiot, I took it for granted. Now, if I wanted to get anything done, I had to do it while the sun was up and visibility was good.

Damn, I missed sleeping in.

I dragged my feet as I headed to the deck. Sunlight cast golden rays across the river. Waves lapped gently at the yacht’s side. The air was crisp, and my breath fogged.

I cracked open a bottle of water and took a sip. What I wouldn’t give for a cup of coffee. I used to have a canister of instant coffee, but I ran out three months ago. I was still chastising myself for not rationing it better. Later, I would go to the Soo Locks Park and stock up on supplies. I could barter for more there.

Acquiring coffee had to wait, though. My new friend needed to be checked on.

I scarfed down a breakfast bar before grabbing my shotgun and a backpack and clambered into the raft.

A moan pierced the air as I reached land. I secured the raft and darted to the base. I entered a small reception area. A waist high desk was near the door with a computer sitting on it. A few chairs were set in the center of the room. Notifications hung on a cork bulletin board. Silence hung in the air as if the room was a bubble that somehow escaped the apocalypse. I almost expected to see Coast Guard personnel walk through the door and demand to know what I was doing.

I shook the feeling off and strode to the red cooler under a window. Flies swarmed around it. When I opened it, a sour stench assaulted my nose. I gagged, barely holding down my breakfast, grabbed a dead rat, and slammed the lid shut.

I walked to the tarp, removed a cinder block, and lifted the edge. Snarls greeted me. The zombie clawed at the sides of the earth. Hunger lit its eyes like fireworks. I lifted my shotgun and pointed it at its head. It stilled.

“That’s a good boy.” I lowered onto my knees. “You’ve been dead long enough to develop your basic instincts. How to walk and run. I’ve heard stories of zombies who forgot how to do that.”

The zombie watched me with narrowed eyelids. The color of its eyes had dulled to a muddy brown, and the whites were tinged yellow. Was it trying to figure out how to get out and eat me?

I smirked. “You should know how to hunt by now. Zombies sometimes hunt in packs. You aren’t as mindless as movies made you out to be.” I dangled the dead rat above it.

The zombie snarled, and spit flew from its mouth.

“I bet,” I continued, “it’s the hunger. It’s consumes you, like a vampire’s bloodlust. Well, if those were real.” Thank goodness they weren’t. One supernatural creature had been more than enough to destroy the world.

A surge of bitterness rose up my throat. The skin on my knuckles turned white from how tightly I clutched the rat by the tail.

This could’ve been stopped. Lives and the world could’ve been saved. She might still be here.

About the Author

Patricia never set out to become a writer, and in fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was more of an art and band geek. Some stories are meant to be told, though, and now she can't stop writing.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.

Social Media Links:




Amazon Author Page

Facebook page

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

IWSG September 2021

It's time for the first Wednesday of the month and time for our monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers of all kinds can share fears and insecurities without fear of being judged. Today's co-hosts are Rebecca DouglassT. Powell ColtrinNatalie AguirreKaren Lynn and C. Lee McKenzie.

This month's optional question is: How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

That's a pretty wide-ranging question. I suppose there are a few ways I could answer. I think anyone who completes a story that tells a tale from beginning to end is a successful writer. It's a lot harder than it might sometimes appear. Another marker might be if it makes an impression on someone else or somehow resonates with them, or they feel an emotional connection with the characters. If you can achieve that with just one reader, I think it's a sign you've done something right.

Any insecurities this month? Well, I'm hoping to make a connection with talent spotters by taking part in my first #PitMad this month. I've done the IWSG Twitter Pitch Party before, so I know it's a highly competitive field, but it's also good fun and an interesting experience. I think I've got my WIP down to a publishable form - just need to perfect that pitch. Anyone else taking part? How's your pitch coming along?

Don't forget to check out other IWSG entries here.

Friday, 27 August 2021

One Year on Broadway blog tour

Happy Friday! Today I'm delighted to welcome a guest post from one of my oldest blogging friends, Kathryn McKendry, who is celebrating the release of what sounds like a fascinating memoir. Here's Kathy to explain more.

First of all, thank you Nick for letting me take over your blog.

Today I’m talking about my new release One Year on Broadway: Finding Ourselves Between the Sand and the Sea

This is the true story of how my husband, Jesse, and I became co-producers of the Tony Award winning Broadway Revival of our favorite musical, Once on This Island, and the incredible year-long journey that ensued.

You might be thinking, “Oh they must have spent years in the theater business, in order to do that.”

Well not in our case. Neither Jesse nor I have any theater background other than the fact that we are fans of Broadway musicals and super-fans of Once on This Island.

Of course you’ll have to read the book to find out the whole story but here’s a sneak peek at how it all started: 

Over twenty-five years ago, when Jesse and I were both in college, he stumbled upon the U.S. tour of the original Broadway production of Once on This Island. He bought tickets and it was our first fancy date together. 

Set on an island in the French Antilles, we were enchanted by the heart-felt Caribbean tale and its colorful music. But even more than that, we saw a bit of ourselves in the two young main characters who had fallen in love despite their parents’ and society’s disapproval. Their story mirrored ours and touched both of us to the core. It also gave me the strength to choose my own path, to choose Jesse, not allowing my parents to decide for me. We could only hope that our tale would end differently. 

It’s amazing how deeply a story-whether, a book, a movie, or a musical can touch someone’s life and forever change them.

Fast forward to 2017 where by a strange twist of fate, we were led back to the Island. Jesse happened to be on a business trip in New York City where he heard about someone producing a Broadway revival of the show. One crazy decision led to another, and suddenly we were co-producers of the show that had changed our lives.

We had no idea how much more the show was going to give us.

One Year On Broadway is my love letter to Once On This Island.

I would love to hear what stories have impacted your lives the most. Did you see a musical or a movie that influenced you so much that you would never be the same? Or was there a book that changed your life forever?

Thanks again Nick for having me!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Kathryn McKendry


Back cover blurb:

A true story of forbidden love, adventure, and letting go

How do you know when it’s time to close one chapter of your life and begin a new one? To let go of the past, open your heart, and trust in a new beginning? At first we said, “no.” We knew it was ridiculous.

And yet something in our hearts led us back to the Island. Having no idea where it would lead us, my husband and I took a leap of faith and became co-producers of the Broadway Revival of Once On This Island, the musical that had given us so much. Even if it failed, we would have a great story to tell. We ended up with so much more.

GoodReads Description:

A true story of forbidden love, adventure, and letting go. Weaving together a fan girl's tribute to her all-time favorite musical and a memoir, One Year on Broadway is a closeup view into the production of a Broadway musical and a testament to the power of the stories that become a part of us forever.

Pre-order link for e-book on Amazon

Goodreads link

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

IWSG August 2021

It's time for the first Wednesday of the month and time of course for our monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers of all kinds can share fears and insecurities without fear of being judged. Today's co-hosts are PK HrezoCathrina ConstantinePJ ColandoKim Lajevardi and Sandra Cox.

This month's optional question is: What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

I know this is an answer that will probably come up A LOT today, but I'd have to say Stephen King's On Writing. I like the fact that it's partly an autobiography, which makes it more engaging than some other books that are focused only on theory. For an author starting out, it's very inspiring because they can see that even the great and the good had trials and setbacks starting out. And overall it has a very laidback and conversational style. I haven't picked up the actual book for a while, but you don't really need to when quotes come up from it so often on memes and social media. I'd definitely recommend to any new writer. 

What about insecurities for this month? Well, I've been venturing into uncharted territory by drafting a synopsis and query letter for my current WIP. These are notoriously hard to get right, and although I did struggle to reduce everything down to a couple of pithy paragraphs, I did quite enjoy the process too. I'm not supposed to enjoy it, am I? That probably means I'm not doing it right, and it will likely take a bit more polishing to get it right, or even just good.

More entries to this month's IWSG can be found here. I'm looking forward to picking up some craft book tips!

Also, don't forget there's only a few more weeks to enter for this year's IWSG anthology contest, with a theme of "Sweet Romance." Closing date is September 1. Full details can be found here.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

IWSG July 2021

 It's the first Wednesday of the month and of course that means it's time for another round of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted as ever by the erstwhile Alex J. Cavanaugh, and co-hosted this month by Pat GarciaVictoria Marie LeesChemist Ken and Louise - Fundy Blue, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers of all kinds can air fears and insecurities without fear of being judged.

Let's have a look at this month's optional IWSG question, quite a dramatic one: 

What would make you quit writing?

I could only think of three circumstances under which this eventuality would come about: 1) if I died, 2) if I suffered from an extremely debilitating condition such as dementia, or 3) if I found myself in the position of providing 24/7 care to a loved one with such a condition. Otherwise, I can't think of a good reason to stop. It's the only thing in life I can really control and is something I can always rely on to sustain me, no matter how insane the world gets - and that's been thrown into sharp relief over the last 18 months or so. So no, not planning to stop unless I run into one of the dire outcomes mentioned above. I accept the first one will have to happen at some point, but hopefully the other two don't.

While I'm here, I probably should provide an update on what I've been up to. I'm at a completion phase on two WIPs, tying up loose ends - which is great, and exciting in lots of ways, but of course always comes with looming insecurity with the idea of how they might be received as I start to nudge them out into the daylight. The first of these is a standalone YA story that has already been out with CPs. At that point it came in at a slim 50k, but based on their suggestions, I have greatly expanded the denouement and added much-needed worldbuilding details to bring it up to a much more healthy 70k. It'll be going back out to them soon. The other book is the final part of my trilogy, which has taken a bit longer than I planned - the second part came out back in 2019 - but here again the ending took quite a bit of work to get it right. This is also still at first-draft stage, so I don't see it coming out before early 2022. A bit of work still to do there, but it'll be nice to get this series done and dusted.

All told, I can't ever see myself without a project or two on the go. I'm interested to see how others answer this question. Check out other IWSG entries here.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Blood Red Sand release day

Today I'm helping celebrate the release of what looks like a really exciting book by Damien Larkin. Check it out...

Blood Red Sand

By Damien Larkin


Mars will run red with Nazi blood…


After World War Two, Sergeant McCabe knew the British army could send him anywhere. He never imagined facing down another Nazi threat on Mars.


In New Berlin colony, rivalry between Generalfeldmarschall Seidel’s Wehrmacht and Reichsf├╝hrer Wagner’s SS threatens bloodshed. The Reichsf├╝hrer will sacrifice everything to initiate the secretive Hollow Programme and realise his nightmarish future for humanity.


McCabe, Private Jenkins, and the Mars Expeditionary Force must overcome bullet, bomb, and bayonet to destroy the Third Reich. While Jenkins fights to stay alive, McCabe forms an uneasy alliance with MAJESTIC-12 operatives known as the Black Visors. Will this be the final battle of World War Two or the first confrontation in an interstellar war?


Release date – July 6, 2021

$17.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 252 pages

Science Fiction - Military/Alternative History/War & Military

Print ISBN 9781939844781 / EBook ISBN 9781939844798

$4.99 EBook available in all formats


“Brilliant follow up to Big Red.” – Tripp Ainsworth, author


“I’m awed by Damien Larkin’s imagination… So truly Heinlein.” – Phil Parker, author


“Blood Red Sand is top class military sci-fi with plenty of heart pounding action sequences, excellent characterisation and a growing sense of mystery that readers will crave to uncover.” – Book Nest


Damien Larkin is an Irish science fiction author and co-founder of the British and Irish Writing Community. His debut novel Big Red was longlisted for the BSFA award for Best Novel. He currently lives in Dublin, Ireland.