Monday, 22 December 2014

A Christmas Film Quiz

I am unleashing my inner Quiz Master on you; guess the Christmas films! (Okay, okay, some of them may not be about Christmas per se, but they're set at Christmas.)
Not from a film, but from the next street over.
(And, yes, the toy soldier really is as tall as the house!)

1) H_ _ _ _ _ _  I _ _ (1942)

2) I _’_  A  W_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  L_ _ _ (1946)

3) M_ _ _ _ _ _  O_  3_ _ _  S_ _ _ _ _ (1947 & 1994)

4) W_ _ _ _  C_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (1954)

5) A C_ _ _ _ _ _  B_ _ _ _  C_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (1965)

6) T_ _ _ _ _ _  P_ _ _ _ _ (1983)

7) S_ _ _ _  C_ _ _ _: T_ _  M_ _ _ _ (1985)

8) D_ _  H_ _ _ (1988)

9) S_ _ _ _ _ _ _ (1988)

10) N_ _ _ _ _ _ _  L_ _ _ _ _ _’_  C_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  V_ _ _ _ _ _ _ (1989)

11) H_ _ _  A_ _ _ _ (1990)

12) T_ _  M_ _ _ _ _  C_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  C_ _ _ _ (1992)

13) T_ _  N_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  B_ _ _ _ _  C_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (1993)

14) W_ _ _ _  Y_ _  W_ _ _  S_ _ _ _ _ _ _ (1995)

15) J_ _ _ _ _  A_ _  T_ _  W_ _  (1996)

16) J_ _ _  F_ _ _ _  (1997)

17) D_  S_ _ _ _’   H_ _  T_ _  G_ _ _ _ _  S_ _ _ _  C_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (2000)

18) E_ _  (2003)

19) L_ _ _,  A_ _ _ _ _ _ _  (2003)

20) T_ _  P_ _ _ _  E_ _ _ _ _ _  (2004)

21) T_ _  C_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  O_  N_ _ _ _ _: T_ _  L_ _ _, T_ _

W_ _ _ _  A_ _  T_ _  W _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (2005)

22) D_ _ _  T_ _  H_ _ _ _  (2006)

23) T_ _  H_ _ _ _ _ _  (2006)

24) T_ _  N_ _ _ _ _ _ _  S_ _ _ _ (2006)

25) F_ _ _  C_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   (2008)

How many did you guess correctly?

Answers may (or may not, depending on how generous I'm feeling) appear in the comments at some point. If they don't, you're just gonna have to get your Google-fu on, right?

Happy Christmas! See you in the New Year.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Cover reveal for Honorable Disgrace

Today, I'm delighted to reveal the cover for Stephanie N. Pitman's YA contemporary novel, HONORABLE DISGRACE. My crit partner's debut will be released on 2nd February 2015 and is the story of how a young girl overcomes a betrayal and *trigger warning* a brutal rape. Stephanie aims to give hope to other victims of rape, and I admire her greatly for her courage in writing this novel and sending it out into the world, as the story is based on her own experience.

Angie Adams joins the powerlifting team her junior year, but she has more in mind than just toning up - like getting closer to her crush, football star Cory Jacob, who, as luck would have it, is assigned as her spotting partner. When Angie's feelings are unexpectedly returned, her life is suddenly filled with the giddy electricity of first love. But why, then, does Angie get a little flutter when her older and very hot boss, Brad, looks at her?
Angie seems to have everything going her way, until her world is torn apart by her sister's betrayal which leads to a brutal rape. Heartbroken and reeling in the aftermath, Angie has to find an internal strength to rival her record-breaking power lifts if she ever wants to feel worthy of love again.
Pre-order: Amazon UK, Amazon USA

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Quest to find some street art

I live in Banksy's home city, and Bristol has embraced street art over the years. I have no idea who created the following pieces, but I'm in awe at the sheer size of the images and impressed by the designs. (This is the kind of street art that gets a big thumbs up from me - it doesn't look like vandalism/graffiti, but shows the artist's talent on an epic scale.)

A YA book I've read that features spray cans and tags is HE'S AFTER ME by Chris Higgins. The blurb on the back cover says:

Anna meets Jem when her life is falling apart. And he's everything Anna needs him to be. As long as she has Jem, she knows everything will be OK.

But Anna's about to find out that not all love stories have a happy ending...

This book also gets a thumbs up from me.

Do you have any street art where you live?  Do you consider it graffiti or a work of art?

Quest: successful!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Season of mists...

...and mellow fruitfulness.

I love autumn. The colours of the leaves. The slight nip in the air. The early morning mist across the fields. For some reason, I always feel more inspired to write during this time. I guess it's the thought of snuggling up in the warm, my trusty laptop at hand, heading off into the unknown through the creative power of words.

Spook-tastic scenery!

My fingers a-tingle, longing to send another heroine out into the realm on an awesome quest. Magic and princes and danger and love will dance across the pages with her. Who knows where it will end?  (Actually, I know.  Now, I just have to figure out the beginning and the middle.  Oh, and I guess figuring out all the characters, too, wouldn't go amiss, eh? ;o) )

Is one season more inspiring for you than another?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Quest to write a synopsis

So, you've written your book (yay - congrats!). You've sent it to beta readers for feedback. You've worked on your book again to iron out the issues they had problems with. You've sent it back to beta readers. (Rinse and repeat until you're happy with your manuscript.) You've also been working on your query letter in the meantime and *gulp* received feedback on that. You're ready to dive into the query trenches - almost! What else do you need? Well, you'll probably need a synopsis. Some agents ask for one in your initial email along with a query and the first x number of pages of your manuscript. Some agents might ask for one if they want to see your full manuscript. My advice? Be prepared! You might target agents who don't ask for a synopsis initially, but they could still ask you for one later down the line. There's nothing to dim the joy of receiving a full request like a mad panic to condense your 80k book into a one or two (or more!) page document in the space of a few days (cos who wants to keep an agent waiting when they've asked to see your book, right?).

The last time I wrote a synopsis I picked out the main points and built them into a cohesive (one? two?-page) story. This time around, I tried a different approach. First, I wrote a rough chapter breakdown, picking out the salient bits from each chapter. It ran to about seven pages. Then I went through the document and edited out the not-quite-so-important bits until I'd reduced it to six pages. I saved the document as a rough six-page synopsis (always save. ALWAYS!! And back-up your files, too). I then did the same again until I had a rough five-page synopsis, and rinsed and repeated all the way down to a one-page synopsis. The beauty of this method is I now have varying lengths of a rough synopsis which I can polish until the rough edges are shiny and tailor accordingly to fit the agent's request (some might want a short one-page synopsis, others might want you to expand over several pages).

So, that was my method.  Do you have any tips for writing a synopsis?  Do you find them easy?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

WriteOnCon 2014

WriteOnCon is an online children's writers conference that takes place in August each year. It began in 2010 and had over 11,000 attendees that first year (my mind can only boggle at the number of attendees in subsequent years as word spreads).

This year the conference will take place on August 26th and August 27th so clear the date in your diary. The schedule hasn't been announced yet, but I imagine they'll have lots of sound writerly advice with posts from published authors, agents and editors. They usually have live Q&A events, and last year they featured Twitter pitches with literary agents for the first time (my Twitter pitch was commented on in a session - it felt a bit surreal to see my Tweet onscreen and know hundreds or thousands of other people were seeing it as well).

Half of the fun is interacting with other writers in the forums (which usually open ahead of the conference itself). If you're a brave soul, you can post your query, first 250 words and/or first five pages for critique. You might have a Ninja Agent pop into your thread and make suggestions, or even PM you with a request to see more.

The conference & forums are well-worth a visit, so I'll hope to see you over there. (My username in the forums is 'Netz', if you're looking for me.)

Monday, 21 July 2014

Quest to finish my WIP this month (Part 2)

No, you can't read what comes before those last two words - spoilers!

After burning the candle at both ends for more times than was good for my sanity, I'm pleased to report I finished the second draft of my WIP at the end of June - hoorah! Afterwards I spent a few more days reading through and making minor changes before sending it to beta readers to pick up on whatever plot holes or typos (or anything really!) they could find that I'd missed. Sometimes a writer is too close to the story to see things that are obvious to others, so it's best to hand your polished manuscript over to someone else for feedback. Ideally it's best to get a range of opinions and it's also a good idea to save some beta readers for the next version of the manuscript (you know, once you've incorporated the feedback from your first round of beta readers).

At this point, I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to Amanda Panitch and Rubianna Masa who have been my faithful and supportive beta readers over the last few years. They have both been incredibly helpful with their comments, and my manuscripts have become much stronger as a result.  Thank you, ladies!

I'm currently incorporating feedback from my two fastest beta readers (thank you, Amanda and Mara) and hope to have finished this by the end of this month. No rest for that poor candle, eh?

Do you use beta readers? How many 'rounds' do you usually have?

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Quest to finish my WIP this month (Part 1)

I don't often (read: hardly ever. Read: probably not at all) write about my writing journey on here. Where I am in the process. What I'm working on. How it's been a longer journey than anticipated (but all the detours have been so helpful).

At the moment I'm working on another YA Fantasy which I started last July. It's set in the same world as my other manuscript, but about 25 years before, and features some of the same characters (but younger versions of them, obviously!). Prior to that, I'd been attempting to plot another standalone book in the same world, but it just wasn't gelling so I switched to my current WIP. Due to health problems (I was quite anaemic) I didn't have much energy to write and only managed 738 words in the whole of July. I didn't pick up my keyboard again until October, whereupon I wrote 2386 words - progress! I knuckled down seriously in December (my anaemia was gone and I had much more energy) and started my first draft properly. By mid-April I'd completed it with a wordcount of 83k - not too shabby, eh? Since then (and with a bit of a time-out for an operation) I've been polishing my WIP and am currently about three-fifths of the way through. My goal for the last month or so has been to finish polishing by the end of June - I want to be able to say it took me a year to go from first conceiving the idea to having a beta-ready manuscript (plus it helps keep me motivated).

Time to crack on! (I'll report my progress next month.)

How about you? Do you set yourself writing goals/track your progress?

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Writer's Voice 2014 (Part Two)

Image used with permission
The Writer's Voice 2014 entrants are nervously awaiting the coaches' picks, and you can share their anxiety over on Twitter. The hashtag to use is #TheWVoice. (Of the 159 entrants, I'm only missing 23 Twitter names. If you haven't stopped by before, then let me know your details - I'm @AnnetteTDodd or you can post in the comments below, along with your entry number.)

Following on from my previous post, I'll update details of the teams here over the next few days. Already it sounds like some of the coaches will be slugging it out over entries, so stay tuned for a ringside seat!


Brenda (#TeamBrenda): #6  #8  #15  #45  #56  #106  #120  #129
     #15   = Adult Historical
     #8     = Adult Romance
     #45   = Adult SF
     #6     = MG Contemporary Fantasy
     #129 = MG Magical Realism
     #106 = YA Contemporary
     #56   = YA Gothic Romance
     #120 = YA Urban Fantasy

Elizabeth (#TeamRockStar): #1  #7  #13  #51  #69  #142  #149  #155
      #149 = Adult Historical Romance
      #69   = MG Contemporary
      #7     = MG Fantasy
      #51   = UMG SF
      #142 = YA Contemporary
      #1     = YA Dark Contemporary
      #13   = YA Fantasy
      #155 = YA Western Fantasy

Kimberly (#TeamSuperNova):  #65  #67  #81  #89  #101  #118  #121  #145
      #89   = Adult Romance
      #101 = Adult SF/Political
      #65   = MG
      #81   = YA Contemporary
      #145 = YA Historical Fantasy
      #121 = YA Magical Realism
      #118 = YA Paranormal Suspense
      #67   = YA SF

Monica (#TeamMonicaFTW):  #27  #38  #83  #95  #97  #127  #132  #143
      #127 = Adult Urban Fantasy
      #27   = MG Adventure with light SF
      #95   = MG Fantasy
      #143 = UMG Contemporary LGBT
      #132 = YA Coming of Age
      #83   = YA Road Trip
      #38   = YA SF
      #97   = YA SF

Brenda v Elizabeth v Monica (#13) - WINNER: Elizabeth
Brenda v Elizabeth (#142) - WINNER: Elizabeth
Brenda v Monica (#95) - WINNER: Monica
Elizabeth v Kimberly (#67) - WINNER: Kimberly

Additional pages have been requested by:

Brenda - #118
Kimberly - #60,  #118  #158  #81  #8
Krista (on behalf of Elizabeth) - #69
Monica - #10,  #37,  #77,  #132  #38  #145  #47  #17  #127

Saturday, 3 May 2014

The Writer's Voice 2014 (Part One)

Image used with permission
I can't believe it's been a year since I participated in The Writer's Voice, hosted by Brenda Drake, etc. The contest has returned and, whilst I didn't make it into the next stage, I had so much fun keeping people updated with stats last year that I'm going to do it again this year. It's also a year since I first joined Twitter - #TheWVoice people were having a whale of a time so I plunged in and signed up.

If you've made it through the Rafflecopter lottery and are one of the lucky 159 people in this round, I'll (hopefully!) have subscribed to your post so I can keep track when one of the coaches says she wants you on her team. I'm also trying to capture your Twitter handles (those I haven't already connected with), so if you can put a comment below with your details I'll be very grateful. Thanks!

Okay, off to update my spreadsheet now. Good luck to all the entrants!

P.S. I'm hoping to add updates here (as well as on Twitter), so stay tuned.

ETA: STATS! (If you haven't put YA or MG in your title, I'm assuming it's Adult.)

159 entries: Adult - 45; YA - 83; MG - 31 (6 Upper).

Adult Contemporary Romance - 5 (1 with paranormal elements)
Adult Fantasy - 7 (1 epic, & 1 with historical elements)
Adult Historical - 6 (1 with fantasy elements, & 1 literary)
Adult Historical Fantasy - 2
Adult Historical Romance - 1
Adult Paranormal Romance - 3
Adult Romance - 4
Adult Romantic Suspense - 1
Adult SF - 6
Adult SF Romance - 1
Adult SF Thriller - 1
Adult SF/Fantasy - 1
Adult SF/Political - 1
Adult SF/Steampunk - 1
Adult Spec Romance - 1
Adult Thriller with SF elements - 1
Adult Urban Fantasy - 2
Adult Western - 1

YA - 3
YA Coming of Age - 1
YA Contemporary - 14 (1 LGBT, & 1 dark)
YA Contemporary Fantasy - 4
YA Contemporary/Magical Realism - 1
YA Dystopian - 1
YA Fantasy - 24 (1 epic, 1 low, 1 with SF elements, & 2 historical)
YA Gothic Romance - 1
YA Historical - 1
YA Horror - 1
YA Light Romance - 1
YA Lite SF Fairytale Retelling - 1
YA Magical Realism - 2
YA Noir - 1
YA Paranormal - 3 (1 fantasy, 1 romance, & 1 suspense)
YA Road Trip - 1
YA SF - 15 (1 romance)
YA Social Science - 1
YA Spec Fiction - 1
YA Thriller - 2 (1 spec)
YA Urban Fantasy - 3
YA Western Fantasy - 1

MG - 2
MG Adventure - 2 (1 with light SF)
MG Coming of Age - 1
MG Contemporary - 3
MG Contemporary Fantasy - 3
MG Fairytale Retelling - 1
MG Fantasy - 7 (1 fantasy adventure)
MG Historical - 1
MG Humorous - 1
MG Magical Realism - 2
MG SF - 1
MG Supernatural - 1
Upper MG Contemporary LGBT - 1
Upper MG Fantasy - 3
Upper MG Paranormal - 1
Upper MG SF - 1

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Quest to read 100 YA books (Part 4)

Another April, another block of 25 YA books to list that I've read. (Part 1 found here, Part 2 found here and Part 3 found here.) This quest is now complete - hoorah!  Drum roll, please.

76) Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
77) Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
78) Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
79) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
80) Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
81) Arclight by Josin L. McQuein
82) Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
83) You Don't Know Me by Sophia Bennet
84) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
85) The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
86) Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
87) Adorkable by Sarra Manning
88) Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
89) The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
90) I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
91) Cross my Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
92) Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover by Ally Carter
93) Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
94) Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
95) United We Spy by Ally Carter
96) Dark Song by Gail Giles
97) The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher
98) Dead Girls Don't Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
99) The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein
100) Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Quest for a new steed

My trusty steed of thirteen years has suffered one too many visits to the metal horse repairer lately. Since it was getting harder and harder to shift into reverse without crunching the stirrup each time, I have let poor Mossy (so named because of the moss growing behind the side trims) go to pastures new.

Double rainbow
My faithful companion has been exchanged for the same breed, and I saw a beautiful rainbow in the sky on the day I took young Wish Maker out for a test ride. This was a sure sign that our adventures together would be as happy as the ones with Mossy, and I collected my new steed on the day of luuuurve. Hoorah!

(Do you suppose medieval adventurers ever traded in their trusty steeds for a newer model?)

Quest: Successful!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

National Libraries Day

Kingswood Library
It's National Libraries Day today. I supported another of my local libraries and borrowed a YA title ('What Happened to Goodbye' by Sarah Dessen, in case you're interested).

How about you? Have you borrowed any books from the library today?

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Seeking more shelf space

What's a girl to do? Too many books to read, not enough shelf space to store them.

Downend Library
Thankfully, LibrariesWest (a public library consortia involving five local authorities in partnership) solved the problem for me and I have access to their many hundreds of bookshelves - and their many thousands of books! Last year I borrowed seventy-five books from thirteen different libraries and I've borrowed seven books from three different libraries so far this year. I'm not sure whether I'll beat last year's total of 105 books read, but I'll give it a shot. (My personal TBR pile at home is reaching headbutt heights, so I won't be running out of reading material any time soon.)

Hillfields Library
I'd also like to add some new libraries to my 'collection'. Hillfields Library was one such last year. When I checked the availability of a book I wanted to borrow, I discovered Hillfields Library stocked it so I paid them a special visit. The librarians there were lovely and were very pleased to see me (I think most people are surprised to find Hillfields even has a library!).

Incidentally, National Libraries Day is taking place on Saturday 8th February and a visit to my local library on that day beckons...

What about you? Do you need more shelf space? Have you joined your local library?