Saturday, 28 March 2015

Planning for Pantsers - Visual Tools

I have always liked using Pinterest as a means to create storyboards for my book projects. Not only does it give me a great excuse to play around on Pinterest for hours, it also gives me inspiration for characters, scenes and sometimes even a story idea. But my boards are not real storyboards, they are just images of nature, people, art and some other interesting things that I came across the website of the social media giant.
As a sometimes visual artist - I love to paint and draw - the visual aspects of the images contribute quite a lot to my "seeing" my stories unfold.
visual story, storyboard, writer tool
Storyboard of a snippet from the novel
Until a few days ago, when I found actual storyboard software. Of course, the software has been around for a a long time, since cartoonists, writers of graphic novels, animators and many other visual artists have been using it for years. Only took me a few of those years to finally get it.
I registered immediately for a free option account to try it out. Hours later (not saying how many) I had my whole novel outlined as a storyboard. Since I started out playing, I stuck to doing the essence of each chapter, but there is scope to do every scene too. There are several options on how the look of the storyboard should be, but those are for paying customers only. The price isn't bad either, and they don't mind if you subscribe for a month, do your thing and then unsubscribe again, only to do it again some time later. Sounds like the ideal tool for a writer. Do the planning in the beginning of the process, and then write and edit until the project is done. When you're ready you can start again with a new subscription as you need it.
Even with only the free option, there are many little characters and scenes and add-ons to make the storyboard truly your own.
With my novel for April Camp NaNoWriMo properly planned, storyboarded and ready to write, I will test the storyboard idea to see if it helps when I write the words.

Here is the link to the website I used.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Book Feature: The Icarus Curse (Part II) by Carmen Botman

Shiloh Reed carries the burden of mankind on her shoulders – literally. Having inherited her father’s notorious legacy in this dystopian world, Shiloh realises that she holds the only blueprints in existence that could potentially save the planet from the brink of extinction. Seasons no longer exist on this planet – each day is hot and dry and food is scarce. Water is rarer than gold. Survival, here at the southern tip of Africa, is a day-to-day battle. Shiloh is a loner and has learned to depend on herself. But with the responsibility of rebuilding the Season Generator and saving the planet fixed squarely on her shoulders, she will have to learn to trust others if she wants to accomplish this mission. Should she trust her instincts? And does she have the courage to fulfil this massive undertaking?
Continue with Shiloh on her journey in this second instalment.

BUY LINKS        Smashwords      Amazon      Kobo

“I suppose we’d better get on with it, then,” she added and stood up.
Draven and I exchanged glances again and stood up, following her lead.
“I’m sure you’d like to see the progress downstairs?” she said.
“Downstairs?” Draven asked, finding his tongue again.
“Where the magic happens,” she smiled. “Where we try to make magic happen, at least.”
“Mireya, I don’t think we’re quite on the same page just yet,” I said. “What do you mean downstairs where the magic happens?”
“I thought Fritz told you all about it?”
“About what?”
The old woman took a step towards the broom cupboard and placed her hand on the door. She looked at us suspiciously. “Who are you two, really? And give me a straight answer.”
“I’m Shiloh Nox and this is Dr. Draven Young.”
“Everyone knows the name of Shiloh Nox around here. How do I know that it’s really you?”
“How would I be here and know about Fritz Moeller if I wasn’t?” I retorted, feeling bold.
“Everyone knows the name of Fritz Moeller as well. These things are common knowledge.” She removed the shotgun again and held it in her hands menacingly. This old woman was really feisty. Avila’s ears turned towards Mireya and her short hairs stood on edge.
“My mother was Evah. I had a brother and a sister named Jericho and Hannah. This is our family dog, Avila,” I explained, attempting to convince her.
“Too easy.” She cocked the weapon. “I think perhaps it was a mistake letting you in so blindly.”
“No! Wait! Fritz’s entire family has died. Fritz has black hair and blue eyes!”
“You think that at one point in time I wouldn’t have read the WebNews as well?”
She stepped forward, shoving the weapon in our faces. Avila growled. I held onto her collar, preventing an attack. I was certain it was all a horrible misunderstanding. Fritz wouldn’t have sent us here on a wild goose chase. We were slowly moving back towards the entrance. “I swear that you will be hunted down if you breathe a word of any of this,” Mireya said and placed the muzzle against my sternum.

About the Author
Carmen Botman is a writer of short stories and novels for all ages in a mash-up of genres. She lives in South Africa with her husband and Labrador named Daisy. Her professional title and day job is Occupational Therapist, but in her spare time she continues on her daily journey of creating the stories which float around in her imagination.

Connect with Carmen online: 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Book Feature: Sins of the Father by Jenny Twist

sins of the father, jenny twist
Rupert is having very strange and disturbing dreams about his dead father. In his dreams his father is a dark, shadowy figure who preys on people while they sleep. But in his waking life Rupert knows nothing about him. His mother refuses to talk about it. Then he meets Samantha and together they decide to find out what happened and track his father down.
Buy links   Amazon US     Amazon UK
The story behind Sins of the Father

I first read about the mantequero in Gerald Brennan’s books. He tells the tale of how a tall, thin and very pale aristocratic friend of his was captured by some peasants when he was walking in the mountains. They were convinced he was a mantequero because he was so pale and thin, and were about to murder him on the spot, but decided, to be on the safe side, to take him to the mayor. Luckily the mayor was not so superstitious and told them he was not a mantequero but an Englishman.
I was very intrigued by this and did some research. There are quite a few examples of real live people murdering others for their fat but of the legend itself there is very little, so I felt justified in inventing my own mantequero and wrote a short story in which a fat and unloved schoolteacher goes on holiday to Spain and meets the man of her dreams. You can guess the rest. Of all the short stories I have written, this one evoked more requests for a sequel than any other and I wrote another story about how two of the teacher’s friends went to look for her and found rather more than they bargained for.
Some time between releasing Mantequero and Disappeared, an American school teacher told me how much her class had loved Mantequero. Many of the children were Hispanic and were particularly interested because it was their culture. She suggested that I write a Mantequero story for young adults.
I toyed with the idea and deliberately left an opening for a new story at the end of Disappeared. The Sins of the Father is the result of that idea. It is the first time I have attempted to write a YA story and I am a little nervous about how it will be received. It is quite a dark story but I am informed by my teacher friends that this is preferred reading for many young adults. We shall see . . .

In the meantime Jenny would be very grateful for any feedback you can give on Sins of the Father (especially if you are a young adult). You can contact Jenny any time on or you could leave a review on Amazon. She is always grateful for reviews.

About the Author
author jenny twist
Jenny Twist was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike, the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family.
She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant (she was The Lovely Tanya), she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history, at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.
She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic.
In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, knitting and attempting to do fiendishly difficult logic puzzles.
She has written two novels - Domingo’s Angel – a love story set in Franco’s Spain and harking back to the Spanish Civil War and beyond - and All in the Mind – a contemporary novel about an old woman who mysteriously begins to get younger
She has also written an anthology of short stories - Take One At Bedtime – and co-written the anthology Bedtime Shadows – with the inimitable Tara Fox Hall.
She has contributed short stories to many other anthologies, of which two – Doppelganger and Uncle Vernon have recently been released as short ebooks.
Her first self-published ebook, Away With the Fairies, was released in September 2012. Her second,
Mantequero, was released in June 2013 and the long-awaited sequel, Disappeared, was released in January 2014. Take One at Bedtime was republished independently in May 2014 and Domingo’s Angel in July 2014. Sins of the Father, the third in the Mantequero series was released in August 2014 and Tales of the Mantequero, a compilation of all three Mantequero stories plus a further two, was released on 3 October 2014, and An Open Letter to Stephen King & Other Essays, a compilation of non-fiction essays and articles on 14 December 2014.

Twitter: @JennyTwist1

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Multiple Book Feature Event hosted by Joel Ohman

Science Fiction is the hottest genre right now. Add in some best selling authors and Young Adult books and you have an event not to be missed. So come celebrate these awesome YA Science Fiction Authors with us! Giveaways, book exclusives, games and more! Young Adult Science Fiction Multi-Author Event March 19th from 5:30-9PM. You can enter the big $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway at the bottom of this post! Don't miss it!

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Join the event!

The authors are excited to see you on the 19th but in the meantime, check out these amazing titles!
ManyLivesOfRubyIyer_cover The Legacy Human (Singularity #1) FINAL anyone
Perception-LeeStrauss-cover_600x927 2mos Kay-BrokenSkies-17612-CVR-FT-v1 (2)

Schedule of events!

5:30-6:00 – Angela Scott
6:00-6:30 – Laxmi Hariharan
6:30-7:00 – Theresa Kay
7:00-7:30 – Lee Strauss
7:30-8:00 – Pavarti K Tyler
8:00-8:30 – Susan Kaye Quinn
8:30-9:00 – Joel Ohman
9:00 – Pavarti (Announce Rafflecopter winners - Enter at the bottom of this post!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 16 March 2015

A little FREE Irish Magic for you today

From Linzé: Top of the morning to all ye lads and lasses! I may not be Irish, but I love a good tale!
This post is reblogged specially for St. Patrick's Day - enjoy!

Grá mo Chroí  Love Stories from Irish Myth

by Ali Isaac & Jane Dougherty

I would like to thank Sue Vincent for inviting us (Jane Dougherty and Ali Isaac) to talk about Grá mo Chroí. So here goes, in time for the Saint Patrick’s Day binge.
For the tiny handful who are not fluent Irish speakers, the title means ‘Love of my Heart’: the collection of retellings Ali Isaac and I put together being of some of the great love stories from Irish myth.
Why did we do it? Because we love the rhythm and the language of these stories, written, or rather told, so long ago, in the pre-Christian era before the shadow of Christian purity fell upon Irish culture and expunged many of the legends of inappropriate material. Women, of course, being anathema to the Christian Church, ended up with the short straw in many of the later versions of these stories. Ali and I wanted to give our versions of what we believe to be the original stories, where the women were not wicked temptresses, whores, or pure as the driven snow. Too pure to even…
But I didn’t come here to rant about Christian hagiography. Irish myth is a wonderful pagan romp. Its heroes and heroines are beautiful and warlike, endowed with magic powers, incredible strength, great wisdom, or beautiful singing voices, quick to laugh, to cry, and of course to fight. They will stop a war the time to play a board game, for the queen and general to deal with her period, or simply because the other side asked nicely. The women choose their own husbands for love and force their lovers to elope with them, a king kills his rival and is abandoned by all his men because they think it was a mean thing to do, and great warriors cry when their favourite hound dies. Little of what they get up to seems ‘sensible’ to modern readers, and certainly there is none of the Christian morality we are used to reading in literature from the Middle Ages onwards.
Both Ali and I have been very affected by our delving into the workings of Irish myth, which has produced dozens of poems and more stories as a result. I hope to publish some more retellings, and I think Ali has one or two projects up her sleeve too. As a Saint Patrick’s Day special (he has to be good for something!) Grá mo Chroí will be free on March 16th, 17th and 18th.
Here is a short excerpt from the first story in the collection, The tragedy of Bailé and Aillinn.
Bailé, the soft-spoken, left Emain Macha in the north to meet Aillinn, his betrothed. Rare was such a wedding host, and uncommonly joyful. For the king of Ulster’s only son and the daughter of the king of Leinster had made a love match. Even the sun shone bright on Bailé’s journey, the hounds danced and milled about the horses’ legs, fancy bridle bits sang silver songs in the wind, and the company was filled with joy.
Bailé left behind his own lands of Ulster, the blue lochs and gorse-yellow hills where the eagles cried. Before him, beyond the purple peaks of home, lay the low, wooded hills and the rich plains of Leinster. He saw his Aillinn in the contours of the hills, in the white plumage of the swans on the river. She was soft as new grass and spring foals, wild as the March wind, and generous as the blackbird singing to the world. His heart was full of joy that soon they would be wed and their union would bind together her rich beauty of soft hills and birdsong, and his wild majesty of the eagle and the red deer.
You can get a copy of Grá mo Chroí here:
myauthorpicYou can find out everything of any interest there is to know about Ali Isaac by visiting her blog You can email her at: mail to: Her books are available on and
IMGP4852 3And Jane Dougherty is to be found on her blog . She is also on Goodreads, and all her books are available on, and

Friday, 13 March 2015

Book Feature: Garden by Jane Yates

Inspired by the classic novel The Secret Garden, Jane Yates introduces us to a steampunk world of bio-domes, robots and mysteries. Eleven-year-old Aberdeen is so used to being by herself that all she has to fill her thoughts are stories of mighty dragons and grand castles. But Aberdeen’s world is soon thrown into disarray however; her parents murdered.
Having no choice, Aberdeen is sent to live with her uncle back on Earth where her fascination into her new surroundings begin to take hold. It isn’t long before Aberdeen befriends three other children – Maisy, Peter and Lenard.
Oh, and there’s Frank too, Peter’s robot dog, who completes this special circle of friendship.

Garden is a journey of self-discovery, of trials and friendship. With adventure boundless, Jane Yates follows up her acclaimed Paradox Child trilogy with a new tale for young fans of steampunk and science fiction.
Buy Links     Amazon    Smashwords
Smashwords 35% discount coupon: EN36V
Deep in space, Aberdeen sat on a balcony overlooking a grand party her mother hosted. Everyone wore their finest clothes. The music was loud; a type of remixed jazz. Aberdeen searched her mother out among the crowd of guests. Upon spotting her, she gazed at her mother’s attire; a long silk dress, the colour of shock blue. This was matched by elaborate feathers and sparkling jewels that hung in her blue hair. Her mother’s hair swung down her back, which highlighted her large dragon tattoo. Aberdeen eyed the lead in her mother’s hand and followed it to the golden robot dog sat beside her. It was tall and thin, and even from where Aberdeen sat, she could see the cogs moving inside it as if it had a tiny heart beating.
Aberdeen’s mother laughed gaily. She had the full attention of a young officer with braided hair, who was smartly dressed in his green and gold uniform. As he chuckled along, his head dropped back and a cool thin line of rose-smelling cigarette smoke slid from the corner of his mouth.
Aberdeen continued to watch the party from above. As usual, there was no sign of her father; probably in the engine room of the ship, she guessed. She browsed at all the fresh fruit and flowers in
the tall bowls and glasses decorating the table. She knew that they had been picked up the last time the ship had docked at one of the satellite stations. She had learnt that the fragrant, exotic flowers had been grown in large artificial garden domes and she longed to see one.
She looked down in awe at the musicians. A large man sat at a glass piano, his fingers elegantly flitting from key to key. Aberdeen could see his fat belly though through the transparent top of the piano; it wobbled tastelessly as he played, a huge contrast to his regal demeanour. Aberdeen also noticed a tall, skinny man, strumming a black shinny double base and three female trumpeters who all wore brown and white stripy suits.
Draped from the metallic ceiling were candle-shaped lights, and in between them dancers gambolled on trapeze ropes. They wore porcelain masks and flamboyantly displayed peacock feathers, midnight blue and jade green, in their hair. They matched the rhythm of the quintet perfectly, Aberdeen thought.
The floor was polished to a high shine and Aberdeen could see the refection of the sociable people in it. In the corner of the room was an old gentleman who caught Aberdeen’s interest. Upon his head was a black top hat and he rested a glass monocle on his eye, which magnified his golden brown iris so even Aberdeen could see. His long twisting moustache made Aberdeen giggle.
There were no children however, and Aberdeen wondered what the workers’ children were up to. She suddenly felt quite alone.
About the Author
Jane lives in the historic city of Oxford, England with her two spaniels. She works at the Pitt Rivers museum there too and is amazed and inspired by its wondrous array of objects. Being a museum of anthropology and world archaeology, Jane often finds herself influenced by its exhibitions. And indeed it has helped Jane write a trilogy for children – the Paradox Child series.
Jane is not only a mother, artist and storyteller, but dyslexic too, which only highlights her success even more. Jane refuses to allow the disorder to halt her dreams and continues to enjoy her favourite hobbies. Jane is a lover of steampunk, adventure and children’s stories, which often play a huge role in her own books.

Follow Jane:

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Planning for Pantsers - Characters

fictional characters, character sketches
Even if you are a pantser (a write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer), it is advisable to do some planning before you start a new story. It helps you to get to know your characters. You don't have to do it for every single character in your story. Minor characters, or characters not referred to by name, for example the waiter, or the postman, need not be developed.
It is the main characters that you need to create, to flesh out, to make them real to your reader. You can only make a character real, if you know him or her from the inside out.

A simple list:
1. Physical characteristics - these define his or her eyes, colour, hair colour, height, weight, skin tone, shoe size, scars, lips, nose, chin, jaw line, shoulders, limp, etc. A list will suffice that you can refer to if needed. This list will help to prevent you from changing the hero from a muscular blond hunk, to a bulky carrot top with a weak chin.

2. Choices they had made - people are defined by their behaviour and that includes their choices made or not. The same applies to your character. Choices such as career, car, house, location, country even. These can include marital status, social behaviour (is he a player? is she stuck up around men?) and so on. Write these down for the present and the past, since they will help shape the choices your character makes for the future.

3. Relationships - we are as much part of our relationships as our characters need to be. Best friend, ex-boyfriend, lover, wife, child, parent, colleagues, other friends, enemies, acquaintances, and the stranger that almost knocks her over on the street. All our interactions define us, and we need to focus on the most important ones to shape our characters.

You can add more information, or as much detail as you like, but having characters that are alive in your mind, will come to life in words. Your reader will want to know them, cheer for them or cry with their disappointments and be happy when they achieve their goals.

How much time do you spend making your characters come to life?

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Early Benefits I gained from Tai Chi

tai chi health benefits
Source for Infographic
I have not been doing tai chi for a long time, not even three full months yet, but I have been diligent in my daily practice sessions. I practice twice a day, except for Sundays where I only seem to fit in one session. But that is okay, it still works for me.
I don't go to a class, so my form is probably as bad as you could possibly imagine, but I have noticed some things that are different than before I started doing tai chi.
Before I expand, a quick note. I am still struggling with torn ligaments in my left foot which after nearly four weeks, have not healed yet. Due to my work requiring me to walk a lot and climb stairs because the elevator is far away from my office, the healing process is a slow one. A very slow one.
Despite my injury, I have no additional pain during my practice sessions, and take care to ensure proper weight placement on my foot where the form requires it.
On top of all these constraints, I have noticed that my balance is better. I have not had issues in the past, but now there is no struggle, or wiggling, or hopping around when I put on a pair of pants.
The second thing I noticed is my focus during the practice. When my attention drifts for some reason, I get irritated because there is an immediate impact on the form I am busy with. This is also becoming less, while my body seem to remember the moves better when I simply relax and let my hands and feet do their thing. Not an empty mind, but a mind that is relaxing into the moment as the movements flow from the one to the other.
I still have a long way to go with the current course, and already I am thinking of sending the company an email requesting another course to take the practice of tai chi to the next level.

Which course am I doing? I will let the cat out of the bag very soon.

The CreativeLife in review - planning, time management, and the creative life

  Hey there, creative friend! It's been a week or more since my last post but mostly because I have been taking time to do other things....