Monday, 12 November 2018

Happy NaNoWriMo!

Autumn is a wonderful time to hunker down and write; mornings seem magical with their low-lying mists and pastel sunrises to inspire creativity.

November is deemed National Novel Writing Month, and writers all around the world are trying to hit daily targets to achieve a word count of 50,000 words in their new manuscripts by the end of the month.

I'm not participating, but I wish every success in achieving your writing goals to those of you who are!

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Quest to take the Bizarre Bath comedy walk

If you're ever at a loss for something to do one evening whilst in Bath, I highly recommend you take the Bizarre Bath comedy walk. It takes place every evening at 8pm for approximately 90 minutes during late March to late October and starts off at the Huntsman Inn on North Parade Passage. Don't worry - you're not walking the whole time as you take in an irreverent look around Bath. Fun guaranteed!

Sunday, 9 September 2018

On the Gromit trail - 2018 version! Part Two

Gnome Sweet Gnome
Before the Gromit sculpture trail closed, I took a break from fine-tuning the last few pages of my manuscript and ventured into Bristol to see how many sculptures I could find.


One in a Minion

Cracking Build Gromit



The Emperor


Caractacus Paws

Fangs McGraw


Prima Featherina

Long John Wallace

A Grand Tribute

The Wallace Collection

Oceans 1: Deep Blue

Feathertron 3000

Bristol's Own



Oceans 2: Yellow Sub

Alex the Lion

Monday, 27 August 2018

On the Gromit trail - 2018 version! Part One

Draco the Gromit
Once again, Gromits have been unleashed on the streets of Bristol. This time they're joined by their pal Wallace and their arch nemesis Feathers McGraw in Gromit Unleashed 2, in aid of the Grand Appeal (the Bristol Children's Hospital Charity).

I've been holed up in my revision cave this summer, so I've only had the chance to spot one Gromit so far - but it's a dragon-inspired one, so that's perfect for this YA Fantasy writer! I've enjoyed seeing the ones that pop up in my friends' Facebook feeds, though. 😃

How about you? Have you been Gromit* spotting this summer? The trail's on for another week, so you haven't got long left.

*Other sculpture trails are available - Bath has owls!

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Quest to find LEGENDARY's secret cover

CARAVAL and LEGENDARY by Stephanie Garber
Stephanie Garber's sequel to CARAVAL has now been released, and LEGENDARY also has a secret cover under the dust jacket. This time, the theme is the 'Decks of Destiny' cards that feature in the book and there are four available: the Maiden Death; the Aracle; the Lady Prisoner; and the Shattered Crown.

Before I reveal which secret cover I have, I'll give you the blurb about LEGENDARY:

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn't yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend's true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend's identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more - and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets . . . including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can't fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend's name, she'll lose everything she cares about - maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Aaaaaand, here's my secret cover:
The Lady Prisoner

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Back up your data!

Earlier this month, my laptop died on me. No warning. Just died. It was one month shy of its fifth birthday, and I was expecting to replace it this year anyway, but a little indication that it was on its way out would've been nice!

I'd backed up my files properly several weeks ago onto an external hard drive and several USB sticks, after having learnt my lesson several computers ago. That one stopped working and it had been months since I'd done a back up. Thankfully, the hard drive was rescued, and I was able to retrieve all I thought I'd lost. Since then, I back up regularly. Another top tip is to email yourself the documents you've been working on that day.

I was able to rescue my previous laptop's hard drive which I've put into a hard drive enclosure and can use that for additional storage too. All that remains for me to do is get to grips with my new laptop - which is a good a time as any to housekeep my files!

Have you had any heartstopping moments when you thought you'd lost all your data?

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Quest to watch a mock murder trial

Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood
Have you ever wanted to attend a trial to see what happens at court? A two-day mock murder trial took place in my hometown this week, and members of the public could watch the proceedings from the public gallery.

What particularly piqued my interest was the fact the trial was based around the plot of an award-winning novel I'd read. The YA book is "Infinite Sky" by author C.J. Flood, who attended and tweeted live at the trial. How cool is that? I wonder if it's a world first to have a book brought to life in such a dramatic fashion!

I was briefly able to attend for part of the summation before the jury retired to consider their verdict. When the Crown Court Judge entered the mock courtroom after lunch, everyone had to rise and couldn’t sit down again until he was seated. The prosecution were up first, and the barrister’s emphatic, confident delivery could easily persuade you of the defendant’s guilt. In contrast, the defence was quieter and more measured, and I wondered whether the theatrics from the prosecution would prove just as instrumental in helping the jury reach a verdict as the evidence itself.

The 'murder' weapon – a brick – was passed around to the jury, and the prosecution suggested the injuries sustained by the victim were too excessive to be self-defence by the defendant. It wasn't looking too hopeful for him at that point.

Sadly, I had to leave before the verdict was reached, but the trial was filmed for teaching purposes, and I hope it’s made available so I can catch up with all that I missed!

I contacted C.J. Flood after the trial, and she said, “It was so much fun seeing my characters come to life...”

Kudos to all who took part.

The bar has now been raised for YA writers. Film deal? Pah, that’s nothing compared to having a mock court case for your book. 😃

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Quest to read a further 100 YA books (Part 5)

It's been a while since I've updated this, so here goes! 

(Part 1 is found here, Part 2 is found here, Part 3 is found here, and Part 4 is found here.)
81) Angelfall by Susan Ee
82) World After by Susan Ee
83) End of Days by Susan Ee
84) Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell
85) The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski
86) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
87) The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
88) Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
89) The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
90) The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
91) Beyond the Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
92) The Future of Is by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
93) One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
94) The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
95) And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon
96) A Kiss In The Dark by Cat Clarke
97) See How They Lie by Sue Wallman
98) Blackfin sky by Kat Ellis
99) Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
100) THUG (The Hate U Give) by Angie Thomas

Quest: Complete!

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Quest to make a dent in my e-TBR pile

My 'To Be Read' pile is growing, and the ease with which I can purchase new e-books means it's only going to get bigger. This year, I'm determined to make a dent in my e-TBR pile before I splurge out on stockpiling more.

I'm pleased to report I've read 24 e-books so far already (& it's only the third month of the year!), and my e-TBR pile is looking a lot healthier. Only another 40+ e-books to go!

How about you? Do you have a large TBR pile (physical or e-book)?

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Quest to find lines from THE PRINCESS BRIDE in YA books

Come closer, and I'll let you in on a little-known secret in the YA writers' community.



Okay, close enough.

*Looks around furtively. Lowers voice.*

Whisper it quietly, but it appears there is a secret society among YA writers. A secret society that exists to sneak a line or a reference to the film THE PRINCESS BRIDE in their published books.

Have you noticed it, too?

To my delight, I'm not alone in my suspicions. Whilst reading My Lady Jane - the not entirely true story by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand and Jodi Meadows (a delightful and funny historical fantasy I'd borrowed from the library), I found a note slipped in between pages 256-257 with a quote from one of my favourite films (fan credentials: I saw this film twice at the cinema before it became a cult classic). The mysterious note-writer had (sacrilege!) marked the book with asterisks at the relevant points. Inconceivable!


Later on in the book, there were more lines from the film:

As you wish

Drop your sword

...all that I have and more!

There was also a reference to storming the castle.

Do you think the mysterious note-writer has left notes in other books as well? For the record, I'm leaving the note exactly where I found it so the next reader of the book can have the pleasure of the discovery too - I hope they recognise the quote! The book was borrowed from Taunton library, and maybe I'll have to make it a quest to find out the mysterious note-writer's identity. If you are that person - or if you recognise the hand writing - then I'd love to hear from you.

Does this secret society reach right around the globe? If so, then how many members are there??

In the meantime, Quest Seekers, keep an eye out in the YA books you're reading and put the details in the comments below if you spot any THE PRINCESS BRIDE lines in them.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

How many books did I read in 2017?

Yes, it's time for my yearly round-up!

Last year, I concentrated on clearing my huge TBR pile and am pleased to report I read 76 books from my own bookshelves (26 of which were e-books). I also did four beta reads and read 26 books I'd borrowed from various libraries. For the mathematically challenged, that works out at 106 books for the year, or about two a week. Slightly down on the previous year's total, but still pretty respectable!

I was able to add one new library to my collection and visited six different libraries in total over the course of the year (alas, none of them were in far-flung corners of the world).

How many books did you read in 2017?  Did you visit your local library?