Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Wordmaster Challenge: Why I Don't Write Chick Lit

So, it's Wednesday and it's on to my second bloghop of three this week. I know some people take part in multiple ones on the same day, but this is more than enough work for me!

The lovely Misha Gericke came up with an excellent idea to have a bit of fun and stretch our writing muscles with the Wordmaster Challenge. Every month she will post a writing challenge on a different theme. When I saw the theme for the first challenge I couldn't resist signing up. Our task was, in less than 300 words, to write the worst novel opening we could think of. How hard can it be, right?! Well, I was quite surprised!

I had loads of fun writing my entry and hope it is suitably awful. Please note this is not meant to offend any writers or fans of chick lit. I know there are some superb examples of the genre out there because I've read some of them! Think of it more as a gentle roasting of the worst aspects of the genre. I could have done the same thing with fantasy or sci-fi.

So, I present to you the opening of what I hope would be the worst chick lit novel ever, in 297 words. Strap yourself in!


It had been another long, bewilderingly boring day at work. Claire stepped off the bus near the corner of the gloomy street where she lived in South London and began to trudge boredly up the road. She glanced at her watch: half past seven in the evening and there was a light drizzle in the air, which didn’t exactly help to lift the vague mood of depressed blahness that she had been noticing for weeks now.

Walking up the short flight of stairs to Flat 3, she fumbled distractedly to retrieve her keyring which featured the beloved pink troll which meant so much to her, before unlocking the door which was painted an unsavoury shade of dark beige – probably the worst thing about the flat, she thought to herself annoyedly – and pushed it open, before wrenching off her sensible shoes, which she had to wear working as an accountant at a law firm, although they were uncomfortable, and expensive too, and shuffled into a pair of fluffy blue slippers with little bunny’s ears and faces on them, a relic of her student days; she considered that she had probably outgrown them at 37, but some things were too hard to let go of, and they were of great sentimental value.

Claire was fed up. When was a dashing, tall, dark stranger going to charge in on a white steed and sweep her off her feet? I mean, hello. She’d been single for, like, ever. Her biological clock was ticking loudly. There must be a man out there as desperate for a baby as she was.

She sighed exasperatedly and opened the fridge. She hoped ardently that a large glass of medium-priced red wine and Dirty Dancing on Channel 5 would provide the answer to her multitudinous problems.


Did you enjoy that? Go to the linky list to check out more bad beginnings! Thanks for this fun challenge, Misha!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Re-Introducing Myself Blogfest

I'm taking part in this fun blogfest today hosted by Mark KoopmansElise FallsonC.M. Brown and Stephen Tremp. The idea is to post an interesting factoid about yourself with a view to helping all us bloggers, both old and new, get to know each other better. (Not sure where I fall on that scale. I've been around for over a year, but I still don't feel established!)

Something about me that not many people know is that before taking fiction writing seriously, I tried my hand at being a songwriter. This is despite being basically tone deaf! I got an acoustic guitar for my 16th birthday, and over the next few years picked up probably... eight chords? Despite my lack of aptitude I decided at 20 that I wanted to write songs. What I was most interested in was the lyrics, but these came out as the worst kind of teenage angst poetry, although I should have been past that stage... I never actually sang them out loud, and playing them took twice as long as it should have because I had to work out the fingering for every chord change. I won't subject anyone to any of the lyrics, but I do consider the period as a key stage on my writing journey... as in working out what I was not meant to do!

Well I hope you enjoyed that fact! Please visit any of the host blogs to check out the linky list of all the other participants!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Gravity Trilogy by Cherie Reich - A Review

Another of my goals for the year I forgot to mention was to do more to help promote my blogger buddies' books by airing reviews on my blog. So, to kick things off, here's my review of Cherie Reich's excellent sci-fi trilogy.


A Space Fantasy Collection including DEFYING GRAVITY, FIGHTING GRAVITY, and PULL OF GRAVITY.

Three alien couples in three space fantasy novelettes fall in love in this complete trilogy.

A Persean and a Medusan crash land on a post-apocalyptic Earth and must escape their prison cells in DEFYING GRAVITY. An Earthling and an Aresian flee their vicious peoples and fight for the right to live and love in FIGHTING GRAVITY. A Cupidian and an Earthling can't ignore the pull of love while they battle to save their home in PULL OF GRAVITY.


I bought this collection as three separate books but decided to review it as a trilogy. The three stories take place in the same universe and while not particularly linked in terms of story, share common themes.

First of all I was highly impressed by the amount of world-building that Reich has achieved in a short space. Each story can easily be read in a day, yet you get the sense of a completely constructed world with enough back story to give you a sense of what motivates the characters yet not being overloaded.

Each story features characters from different alien races meeting and falling in love, against the conventions of their people and in two cases, in the face of open hostility between the races. This romance element makes for something different in the sci-fi field. The only drawback was that by the last book, the outcome feels somewhat inevitable. There were also quite a few similarities between the first two stories (both feature the couples meeting in imprisonment scenarios) and given the settings these are both quite grimy in feel. The last story was quite different, Reich showing us a lush, pleasant world under the threat of war. I did enjoy the descriptions in all three stories.

I would recommend this collection to someone who hasn't tried much sci-fi and is a bit intimidated by some of the hefty tomes out there. There isn't much in the way of technical description - the stories take centre stage. It makes for a quick, enjoyable read, and a good way into the genre.


A self-proclaimed bookworm, Cherie Reich is a writer, freelance editor, book blogger, and library assistant living in Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her ebooks include a horror novelette titled Once Upon a December Nightmare, a short story collection with authors Aubrie Dionne and Lisa Rusczyk titled The Best of Raven and the Writing Desk, a space fantasy trilogy titled Gravity, and a fantasy series The Foxwick Chronicles. She is a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Valley Writers.


Purchase Links for The Gravity Trilogy:

Amazon US (ebook)
Amazon UK (ebook)
Smashwords (ebook)
Nook (ebook)
Kobo (ebook)
iTunes (ebook)

Amazon US (print)
Amazon UK (print)
CreateSpace (print)


Friday, 18 January 2013

1303 - The Dragonslayer cover reveal

Yes, it's time for the cover reveal of the next thrilling installment in Christine Rains13th Floor Series, 1303 - The Dragonslayer. Feast your eyes!

Title: 1303 The Dragonslayer (The 13th Floor series, #3)
Author: Christine Rains
Genre: paranormal romance
Release date: February 13th, 2013

On the rooftop of neighboring building, dragonslayer Xanthus Ehrensvard fires at his target, Governor Whittaker. How he missed the shot, he doesn't know, but fleeing the scene, he picks up an unwanted passenger. Gorgeous reporter Lois King saw Xan's face, and she believes it's the story to make her career. Except he can't let her walk away knowing what he looks like. Xan has to show her the Governor is a bigger threat to the world than he is.

Xan knows dragons never went extinct. They evolved with human society, taking on mortal forms, and slithered their way into positions of great influence and power, just like the Governor.
But it's no easy chore proving to someone that dragons still exist, and even more so, they're disguised as famous people. Xan must convince Lois or find another way to silence her. An option, as he gets to know her, he likes less and less.

After all, dragonslayers are no longer celebrated heroes but outlaws. Just as the dragons wish it. But this outlaw must make a plan to slay the dragon or risk its retribution.

Author Bio:
Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not writing or reading, she having adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of S.C.I.F.I. The 13th Floor series is her first self-published series. She has four novellas and eighteen short stories published.


What an intriguing premise! Dragons in government... maybe we have a few of those around right now, it would explain a thing or two. Congrats, Christine, and have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Physical Movement and the Re-invigoration of my WIP

So, a couple of weeks ago, I posted about my goals for this year, as many others have done. I didn't write about any plans to get in shape, although that is also one of my aims, and having made a start, it's made a marked impact on my writing.

I came back after the Christmas break with the intention of finishing up the first draft of my WIP, started in NaNo 2012. But things weren't really happening. I didn't have the energy for it I had before. Admittedly I hadn't done a lot over the holiday - I went to visit my parents, which involved a lot of... eating, and at home there was quite a lot of eating too. Especially chocolate.

This week I was determined to start in on my exercise goal. My relationship with it has been sporadic over the years - an initial burst of activity, which after a while fizzles out. For example, as a teenager, I used to get up at 6am to run round the park, before doing my paper round and going to school. Sometimes I had a paper round after school, too. But the running probably only lasted about six months. I think I burnt myself out.

This year I'm planning to make working out a regular part of my life. It's started with walking my daughter to and from nursery, instead of taking the van. A simple change, but so far, it's worked wonders! That little walk has allowed me to clear my head, letting me focus on what needs done in my work. So after I get back from dropping her off, I feel ready to go. I'm still not entirely sure how it will all end, but I'm enthused about the challenge again, instead of it being the onerous task it was before. And my productivity has definitely increased.

Along with doing the abswing in the evening, I'm planning to make this my regular exercise. And it's totally free of charge!

Have you made any fitness goals this year? How are you doing with them? Do you find that exercise helps your writing?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

1302 Blog Tour

Today I'm pleased to welcome back Christine Rains, as part of the tour for the second installment in her 13th Floor Series, 1302 - The Alpha. This time last month, Christine was here talking about villains for Part 1, and she's back today for more on the same topic. But the villains in her new book are of a different hue, as Christine will explain.


The Greedy, the Bad, and the Nasty. There are many types of villains. The ones out for the money and power. The demented genius who believes what he's doing is right. And those baddies who just love to cause pain and suffering.

Last month, you were introduced to Vetis in The Marquis. He's one of those villains you love to hate. Maybe you even secretly cheered for him because he's so entertaining. You won't find a villain like that in The Alpha. These bad guys are loathsome.

Stefanie Porter lost her place as the Alpha werewolf in the Nicolet Pack. It was a fair fight. She simply wasn't strong enough to beat Wyatt, but he is far from being a fair man. Usually the loser is exiled from the pack's territory, but since refused to be his mate, he imprisoned her in his cellar. She escaped, but she lost everything.

Wyatt is a cover model for Alpha men. He's handsome, muscled, possessive, and dominant. Something inside of him is twisted, though. He takes what he wants with no care for the pack. Vicious isn't a strong enough word to describe him. He's a supernatural psychopath with a single focus: hunt down Stefanie.

No matter Wyatt's strength, he can't hunt Stefanie alone. He killed the members of the pack that opposed him, but others rolled over for him. Colin and June are the big, dumb goons. If their Alpha barks, they jump. Even if they have no ambition to lead, their cruelty is still detestable.

There's also Wyatt's brother Matt. He came first and scouted the Nicolet Pack, making preparations for his brother. Stefanie's sister fell in love with him, and they became a mated pair. Matt's betrayal was far worse than Wyatt's for he took Stefanie's sister with him.

Without a family and a pack, Stefanie is on her own. Until she meets a lone wolf with ambitions to be a superhero. He's sort of geeky, but he can make her stronger. Powerful enough to beat Wyatt? That remains to be seen.

What's your favorite type of villain? Can you name any that twist a heroic model and make it something evil?

Title: 1302 – The Alpha
Author: Christine Rains
Genre: paranormal romance
Release date: January 13th, 2013

One run in the woods wouldn't matter, or so thinks werewolf Stefanie Porter. Being cooped up in her apartment for months must have messed up her instincts, because her former pack almost catches her until a mysterious lone wolf jumps in to help Stefanie escape.

The cruel Alpha Wyatt not only stole her pack but refuses to give Stefanie her freedom. She can't hide in her apartment any longer or it will drive her crazy. She puts her trust in the lone wolf who can teach her some of his unusual urban survival tricks. James Roberts might be a bit geeky, but he's smart and looks hot when the argyle sweater comes off. His ridiculous ambition to become a superhero might be admirable if Wyatt couldn't rip him limb from limb.

With the pack scouring the city for her, Stefanie must convince James to teach her and control her own Alpha nature, or fight not only for her life, but his as well.

Purchase Links:

Author Bio:
Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not writing or reading, she having adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of S.C.I.F.I. The 13th Floor series is her first self-published series. She has three novellas and sixteen short stories published.


All the best for your continued success with the series, Christine!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Overcoming Adversity blogfest

Welcome to my very first blogfest! I do hope you'll join me, because I think it's going to be a lot of fun. The idea is to create a very special anthology to put on sale via Amazon, that will go towards the college fund for my amazing stepson, Andrew.

If you don't know, Andrew has cerebral palsy and is coming to the end of his time at Stanmore House School in Lanark, a fantastic place that he has attended since joining the nursery class about fifteen years ago. I believe that the input from his teachers, and the technology available at the school, have helped shape him into the talented individual he is today. Unfortunately post-18 things don't look quite so good in Scotland. Andrew was basically told he would be attending Motherwell College (no element of choice), where he would be doing the "Access-8" course which more or less amounts to daycare (fingerpainting and the like), nothing that was going to push him to develop, or end up with a career.

I won't get into the ins and outs of the politics but basically the Scottish Government believes in mainstreaming and "inclusion". Unfortunately this seems to result in further education not being needs-led, but those with complex needs being fitted in around the margins and not given the resources that would really help them. We were not willing to blithely send Andrew off to Motherwell College, so we investigated alternative options to find the places that would really meet Andrew's needs were south of the border. We have now settled on Beaumont College in Lancaster, which Andrew has visited and offers amazing facilities like Eye Gaze technology, which would enable Andrew to use his eyes to select from different phrases and communicate much more effectively. He is interested in following a film editing course.

All of this has caused a certain amount of heartache, partly from having Andrew attend college in a different country when we are used to being very close to what's going on at school; but we know it will be really good for him. The main issue is the huge amount of fundraising required, which we feel is discrimination as further education is free in Scotland but there is nothing up here appropriate for Andrew. However we are meeting this challenge head-on with various events, and this brings me to the point of this blogfest. (Finally!)

It feels like we are doing this in the face of adversity from the authorities, but we have an iron conviction that we are doing the right thing. So I would like you to write something in that vein: overcoming adversity for something you believe in. It can either be a flash fiction piece, or an episode from your real life. Poetry is fine too.

The Rules:

* Sign up on the linky list below

* Please keep your entry to 500 words

* Please post on either Monday 4th or Tuesday 5th February

* I'd better say, keep it family-friendly! I'm sure it will be anyway.

Err... that's it! Once it's all over, I'll compile all the entries into the anthology which will be released as soon as possible, with all proceeds going towards Andrew's fund. I really hope you'll be able to join me, and please spread the word by whatever means you choose. The more the merrier! I'd also really appreciate it if you could display the blogfest button somewhere on your page. The ant is Andrew's mascot and will also feature on the book's cover.

As always for constant updates on Andrew please check out his Facebook page. Thanks!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Goals for 2013

Happy New Year everyone! A bit late, but I got there in the end. Hope everyone had a refreshing break and you're geared up for the next twelve months.

So what do I hope to achieve this year? More writing, of course: I'm aiming for two new drafts, including a win in NaNoWriMo. Didn't manage that last year, and I'm actually still a couple of thousand words shy of 50k: so my first priority is to get that wrapped up, then I'll get back to editing my thriller The Memory Cell. Ideally I would get both of these books published this year, but I'm reluctant to set timescales, as I don't know what's around the corner. But I definitely want to push myself in that direction, get my work out there and see what happens, as scary as it seems.

Another project I want to release is my short story collection. I talked about this a bit last year, vaunting a summer release, but I think I need a bit more material. I've neglected writing short stories for a while, so my plan is to set aside one day a week - probably a Friday - for either writing or editing them.

I also have something else up my sleeve, and for this I'm going to need help from all of you! It's a fundraising venture to help send my stepson, who suffers from cerebral palsy, to a specialist college in England - a place that will help him to flourish and shine. The first step in this project will come in the form of my first ever blogfest, which I'm planning for February or March. Stay tuned for more details soon! In the meantime, if you want to keep up with Andrew's progress, you can follow his blog, On The Road To College, or his Facebook page.

And finally, like many of you, I'm still working on finding the balance between keeping up with all you lovely folk, and everything else that life demands! Things are getting busier all the time, but I know I'm not alone in this dilemma. Any tips gratefully received! Here's to a happy and productive 2013 for all of us!