Bite-sized Writing News

I’ve had a couple of bits of good writing news in the last week or so.

I found out a 49-word short story I wrote was a finalist in the Perth’s Shortest Short Story 2014 competition run by the WA Writers Centre. This was my entry:

“Hurry, Mummy.” Max tugs my sleeve. I’ve promised him icecream for being so brave. Tomorrow, surgeons operate on his eye.
“Look. A monster.” Another boy points. Chocolate melts over his fingers because he’s forgotten to lick.
“Don’t want icecream anymore,” Max says.
My heart breaks as we walk away.

I didn’t win – but it didn’t matter. I liked all the short stories (6) that were named as finalists. This was the winner and runner-up:

Author: Harry Schmitz (Winner)
His slouch hat suddenly hit the sand. Puzzled, Jock picked it up. Still the Coolgardie dust ingrained on its brim. Still the briny smell of weeks at sea on the troop ship to this Turkish beach. Then he saw it: The entry and exit holes of a sniper bullet.

Author: Emily Hone (Runner up)
I once ran a hotel for ghosts, but we were shut down (the authorities cited “a lack of financial transparency”). In between all the BOO!-ing and feng shui it became frightfully difficult to settle debts, or décor. Our bar, ‘The Afterlife’, was never that popular either… God knows why.

They are fun aren’t they?

I must say how nice it was to spend half an hour on a 49-word story, rather than six months on an 80,000-word book. 😉

I’ve entered a 3000-word story in another competition, and received news this week that I’ve made “the long list”… how exciting. And are you now, like me, wondering just how long, the long list is? 🙂

Guest Post: Why I write Historical Romance by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Elizabeth Ellen Carter has been a guest on my blog before, and it’s always lovely to have her back. She’s witty, fun and very informative. I always EECarter400hlearn something from EEC, and she has a new book out, Warrior’s Surrender.

So take it away Elizabeth:

Lily has asked me why I write historical romance. Well, I have a confession to make. I’m lazy.

True!

One of the most incredible genres for exploring the heights and depths of human nature is in science-fiction and fantasy and I’m too lazy to create richly detailed universes with people and language, customs and laws, so I raid history instead. Everything is done for me!

Strange customs? Check (“The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there” – The Go-Between).

The same desire to live, laugh and love? Check (“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” – Ecclesiastes 3)

In all seriousness though, Edmund Burke, the 18th century political philosopher observed “Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it”. Well that’s right too.

In actuality, the past gives shape to our future. I’ve written a large number of blog posts related to Moonstone Obsession discussing how the Englightenment philosophy of the 18th century gives rise to the best (universal franchise and the abolition of slavery) and worst (Communist & Nazi pogroms) of the 20th century. Without those issues being discussed and canvassed, we would have no framework for what we consider right and wrong today.

History also provides escapism from our modern world. We can identify with the hero and heroine’s struggles without having to worry about stress of the every day world and conveniently ignore the lack of refrigeration or indoor plumbing. It’s a compromise, but one we’re happy to make for a few hours of reading pleasure.

WarriorsSurrender-ByElizabethEllenCarter-300x450-300dpiWarrior’s Surrender goes back nearly 1000 years before the present – 1077AD – and even so, medieval times are filled with events which shape our world today – the origins of modern universities and the concept of the ‘hospital’ as a place for medical treatment, the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 which codifies limits on governmental powers.

My deepest privilege and fondest wish is that I reacquaint readers with these important times with characters they fall in love and situations they can relate to. The author who did that for me was an American writer by the name of Rebecca Brandewyne. Her novel, Rose of Rapture (1982), set just prior to the War of the Roses opened my 17-year-old eyes to the world of Plantagenet England and provided a more sympathetic portrayal of Richard III than I had been exposed to in school.

Tell me in comments below, what is your favourite historical period and what influenced your choice?

 

Warrior’s Surrender Blurb
A shared secret from their past could destroy their future…

Northumbria, 1077. In the years following William the Conqueror’s harrying of the North, Lady Alfreya of Tyrswick returns to her family home after seven years in exile. But instead of returning victorious as her dead father had promised, she returns defeated by Baron Sebastian de la Croix, the Norman who rules her lands.

To save her gravely ill brother’s life, Alfreya offers herself hostage to her enemy. As Alfreya gets to know her new husband, she finds he’s not the monster she feared, and their marriage of convenience soon becomes a bond of passion. But Sebastian is a man with a secret—one that could destroy him.

As a series of brutal murders haunt their nights, the man who betrayed Alfreya’s father returns claiming to be her betrothed. He has learned Sebastian’s secret and will use it to further his own ambition—using Sebastian’s own family—which will destroy Sebastian and mark him a traitor, and plunge an unprepared England into war with the Scots…

Warrior’s Surrender Excerpt

Sebastian regarded her. Lady Alfreya thought like a man. No, like a warrior. Reluctantly, he found himself impressed and suddenly considering her manner and appearance.

Despite her fiery temper, which she seemed to work hard to control, Earl Alfred’s daughter had grown comely, although a little on the thin side. Her figure might best be described as willowy, but her outstanding features were her hair, the color of newly harvested hay, and her bright blue eyes, which examined him with caution.

“Then what do you bring to this truce?” Sebastian finally asked.

“Our band now numbers but thirteen, all of whom are good men and loyal to my father. They accompanied us to Scotland when William the Bas—” Frey corrected herself, “…when the king harried the north.

“They are local men and without my father to lead them, all they wish now is to go home to the families they haven’t seen in four years. They will cause no further trouble; you have my word on that.”

The baron shook his head.

“Your little rebellion has gone on for months even after the death of Earl Alfred,” responded Sebastian, “and you yourself speak of their abiding loyalty to your late father. So forgive me, my lady, if I require more than just your word.”

Frey nodded. It seemed his objection was not unexpected.

“Then I offer myself as surety,” she said simply.

“A hostage,” Sebastian stated blandly.

Not an unusual offer, he thought. King Malcolm of Scotland’s eldest son, Duncan, had technically been a hostage of King William for the past two years, yet by all accounts the lad was well treated and, indeed, educated alongside William’s own sons.

So, Lady Alfreya was taking a gamble on what kind of man he was. Interesting.
Buy links:
Look for Warriors Surrender, and Elizabeth’s debut book, Moonstone Obsession at all good bookstores.

To find out more about this treasure trove of historical authors, catch up with her below:

Author links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethEllenCarter
Web: http://eecarter.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EECarterAuthor

A Very Ninja Christmas – Come Join The Fun

save the date

It’s the Squid that got your attention isn’t it? Tell the truth. I won’t judge! Who could resist the thought of Christmas with squid!

Yes! There will be tentacles as part of our Naughty Ninja Christmas Party on Facebook on November 25.

If you don’t know about the naughty ninjas, you can visit us here… I’m Lily ‘Beanie Queen’ Malone and I’m part of the ninja madness.

In true ninja fashion we intend to do Christmas very naughty, and all kinds of wrong. We’re sneaking up on Christmas in November, because being sneaky is what ninjas do!

To join us, please visit our Facebook page on this link and click “going” and you’ll then get great reminders nearer the day.

I’ll also tell you what my special ninja prize will be for the day, and all about my competition for the party.
HINT: It involves very naughty and inappropriate Christmas carols! 

“I Loved It From Chapter 8”

So, remember how last time on the blog I was feeling “nostalgic” and “zen”?? And, remember in the blog post before that, I was so close to finishing my fourth book, So Far Into You?
My feeling of zen lasted about a week, until my Beta readers started sending me their feedback for the book I’d just finished.
You see, I was so sure I’d wave that book into the world of Beta readers… and welcome their glowing feedback as it flooded back in lucious waves of WOW, WOW, WOW!!
Or not, as it turned out.
It wasn’t that my Beta partners didn’t like my book, they just didn’t love it. They didn’t get my hero… they didn’t particularly like him. They didn’t like the start.
Some of the comments were:

  • Gina has to go. (Gulp. Gina was the opening scene).
  • Seth is too nasty. We have to like your hero too.
  • I loved it from Chapter 8.
  • The ending is rushed.
  • The antagonist rolls over too quickly.
  • Something worse has to happen at the end.
  • I want another scene with Seth and Remy at the start.
  • We love Remy. (Everybody loves Remy).

So I cursed the world for about 24 hours, and then I re-read all the gold they’d sent me, and thought about how right they were.
So, with my very best pair of slash/hack editing scissors, I lopped off Gina’s head, and started again.
One of the hardest things I find is to get good distance from my writing. Because I know the story inside and out, and I know what my characters are feeling and why they do what they do, it gets very easy to not take readers with me… to make leaps and jumps that feel like they’re perfectly reasonable, while readers who don’t know the story are left floundering in a world of: “WTF just happened there?”
So tonight, I’ve finished this book AGAIN. Four years, three weeks and one day in gestation. I don’t know how much more of this pregnancy I can take!