Friday 27 May 2016

Do you have goals bloghop. Novels, novellas, short stories, travel articles, monetising your blog...what are you writing?

Earlier this year I joined this regular monthly Friday bloghop hosted by Misha Gericke and Beth Fred. I was thinking of taking my name off the list because who gives a toss what I'm writing/not writing? But then I re-read the comments to my March post and found them quite kind and encouraging. 

The reason I joined this hop in the first place was to keep myself honest, and honestly, reflecting on my goals for the month is a good motivation to write more. So here it's the last Friday of May, ridiculous, so it's time again...

You're more than welcome to join this bloghop. All you need to do is read and follow the guidelines then SIGN UP HERE...

1) Beth and I Misha will be co-hosts of this list.
2) If you do enter your link into the list, please be supportive of the other entrants.
3) Keep us up to date with how you're doing. Update Day is on the last Friday of every month. Even if you don't think you achieved much or anything, write a quick post to say so. We can't encourage if we don't know. 
4) When you enter your blog's address write your goal as the link title. For example, my link's title will be "earn $7500 per month." Not your name or your blog's. This is so we can keep track of who's doing what. 

I signed up as Number 13,  'publish a novel and submit short stories' this year. Check out the participants at the bottom.


I am really into the sequel to the second story in my  series Under the Tuscan Moon. Sorry for taking so long for those of you who have asked where is the second novella, but the research took longer than I'd planned.

(SIDEBAR: If you've read Under the Tuscan Moon, I'd love a review. Thanks to the lovely people who have reviewed it on Amazon and Goodreads and given 4 and 5 stars! If you haven't read it and would like to, please drop 99 cents in my begging basket at Amazon and go for your life; if you don't want to spend that outrageous sum of money, please email me and I will send you a free kindle copy if you'd like to review it.) 

The subtitle of this one is The Vendemmia (Italian for The Harvest, in this case, the grape harvest). My two 'loveable', ahem, vamps, Vipunin and Cuchulcain, have returned to Vipunin's castello where he lived before he was turned. Here Vipunin intends to be a very disruptive influence at harvest time. Ciassia and Sibon  are unaware they harbour a monster in their midst, a monster who will do anything to get what he wants...and he wants Ciassia. 

Last time I gave an update on one of my Paris short stories, Carpe Diem, it was at 12,000 words. This story is lighting up my life and sending electricity through my fingertips as I type, so it is now at 25,000 words. So I figure my protagonists, Saskia and Raphael, are demanding nothing less than novel length. When you meet Raphael, you'll know what I mean...

Currently the lovers have driven south-west of Paris to La France Profonde (deep in the country), to the tiny village of Les Salles Lavauguyon, so Saskia can meet Raphael's parents and plan their marriage in the glorious Romanesque church (after the civil ceremony of course). But what's with the parents? They are nothing like Raphael described them. 

As I said in my previous update on this story, it has grown from a 1,000 word flash fiction originally published for #fridayflash. It's been messing with my head for 5 years! So I have added flesh to the bones. And I have a French translator standing by waiting for me to finish! Now that's motivation!

What's with the motorbikes? Try this extract...
"With her arms around Raphael’s waist and her face pressed between his shoulder blades, her adrenaline soared as he roared into the Paris night, accelerating full throttle up the hill from Pigalle, past the windmills, then through the slick, dark streets of Montmartre. By the time he braked at the door of her 17th century pension, revving the engine twice just for fun, she was in love."

As regular visitors and blogger friends know, I wear a travel writer's hat. I have recently returned from a subsidised trip to China so that demands many articles.  For this China series, I am hoping to break into more online travel magazines to add to the print mags. So it's a wonder I've written any fiction at all, but I'm being honest when I say, except for NaNoWriMo, I've never written so much non-fiction or fiction in my life in a month.

Sadly, I haven't been able to work on my Paris Cookery School novel and it languishes at 25,000 words. But look out when I get a chance. I may finish it this November. 

So overall, May has been a very successful, wonderful writing month even though as I said we embarked on major renovations at our beach house. I skedaddle off to the library and peace and quiet when the noise-makers are at work. I'll join them when we reach the painting stage. 

I rather liked my philosophical bent at the end of March's update, so being short of time, I'll leave it there and hopefully have time to get ever so clever next month!

And I READ A LOT but need a jolt to review what I read. I'm really trying! But I've read 50 books so far this year (most in January holidays) so when I get your book read, I'll do the right thing by you!!

It's always a good idea to set yourself achievable goals, but it's even better to use the turbo power of imagination to help you get there. For example, you may decide that you'd be happy to have your body in better shape. Instead of just thinking: 'I'm going to tone and trim my waistline', bring on the drama. Try rephrasing that into something like: 'I want to turn heads as I walk down the street and wow people when I walk into a room'. Remember, when you use colourful, vibrant imagery it will be easier to achieve your goal and turn your dream into reality.

So...when you dream of your finished story...instead of just wishing you could reach the finish line, add drama. 'I want to write the most riveting, amazing story that people will love so much they will say to everyone in their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads--'You've got to read this story!' Imagine that!

I'm sure this Shanghai migrant worker has a goal!

How are you going with your 2016 Writing Goals? I'd love to hear from you. Please share in comments or join the hop.

1.... earn $7500 per month for a year2.Sell 500 Books per Month
3.To get a novel finished and published4.create a publishing company setting standards for excellence.
5.Write a million little words6.publish at least 2 novels in the next 4 years.
7.Write and Publish 2-3 Books/Novellas and short works8.Publish two decent-selling book series
9.Publish two books a year10.Complete and publish The Paper Duchess Series
11.Accomplish My Goals By End of 201612.Sell an average of seven books a day
13.Publish a novel and submit short stories14.Publish The Missing Girls Series in 2016
15.earn $2500 per month by December16.get rejected (by a editor or agent) 24 times this year
17.Richard P Hughes18.Finish editing my novel before NaNoWriMo2016
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Wednesday 18 May 2016

Carol Riggs tells us about the birth of Bottled, her about-to-be-released genie novel for Clean Reads.

Hello, and many thanks to Denise for inviting me to do a guest post on her blog!

THE (long, extended) BIRTH OF BOTTLED

 On a winter’s day in February of 2011, I happily finished my YA sci-fi, SAFE ZONE…the novel that will release in October of this year, 2016. That very same night, I tossed and turned with a brand new idea for a novel. It would be a story about a genie, a light fantasy that would be mostly contemporary with a twist of magic. It could have a dual point of view, one from the genie and one from the master. There would be romance! adventure! danger! but I’d have to make it different enough from Disney’s “Aladdin” and the old TV show, “I Dream of Jeannie.”

At the time, I didn't know of any genie novels being published, so it was fresh and different from the vampires, werewolves, angels/demons, fairies, etc. that were popular then. Time passed while other stuff happened. I signed with an agent for my debut (THE BODY INSTITUTE) and worked on that. She suggested that one point of view might be better, so I dropped the dual POV idea. I wrote on BOTTLED  when I could, mostly in 2012 and 2103. My agent preferred another novel over BOTTLED, so we shelved it for a while.

After my agent and I amicably parted ways in 2015, I dusted the manuscript off and shaped it up. By that time, there actually were genie novels being published, about a dozen of them (rats, so much for being unique and beating the trend). In 2015 I tried out a Twitter pitch during #SFFpit to agents and editors, and got some responses that didn’t pan out. In December of 2015 I threw out some more tweets during another Twitter pitch: Transformed into a genie by a scheming man, Adeelah searches for her human love while protecting her new intriguing master. #PitMad #YA

One small press showed interest, and I submitted to them. I then remembered another small press I’d heard about, Clean Reads, and looked them up (not to be confused with Clean Teen Publishing). I loved their policy of no graphic violence, profanity, or sex. I submitted via their online form, and viola! FOUR DAYS LATER I found a contract in my inbox. Whoa! I emailed the first press (as is professional/courteous to give them a chance to offer), and ended up signing with Clean Reads. 

As a girl, I used to watch "I Dream of Jeannie" all the time (yes, I am that old), along with "Bewitched." I loved those shows. Except sometimes Jeannie drove me NUTS with all the scrapes and tangles she got her master into. Such chaos! I wanted my novel to be a more serious tribute to the enchantment of the show. Unlike Jeannie, my genie has limited powers and isn't able to use her abilities to reach her own goals. Having limitations with the magic made things more fun and challenging plot-wise.

YOUR WISH. If you had a genie like Adeelah, what would you wish for? Tell me in comments. Here are her limitations:

1. The wish must be tangible. No wishing for abstract things like world peace, true love, or happiness.
2. The wish cannot directly change another person or deal with them against their will (NO healing, making people fall in love with you, bringing someone back to life, giving you long life, materializing the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend/chef/bodyguard/parent, etc).
3. The wishes are not limited to three like some genie stories. They are unlimited.


At seventeen, Adeelah Naji is transformed into a genie and imprisoned in a bottle. For a thousand years, she fulfills the wishes of greedy masters—building their palaces, lining their pockets with gold, and granting them every earthly pleasure. All that sustains her is the hope of finding Karim, the boy she fell in love with as a human. When at last she finds a note from her beloved, she confirms he has access to the elixir of life and that he still searches for her. 

But someone else also hunts her. Faruq—the man who plots to use her powers to murder and seize the life forces of others—is just one step behind her. With the help of a kind master named Nathan, Adeelah continues to search for Karim while trying to evade Faruq. To complicate matters, she begins to experience growing fatigue and pain after conjuring, and finds herself struggling against an undeniable attraction to Nathan.

As Faruq closes in, Adeelah must decide just how much she’ll risk to protect Nathan and be with Karim forever. How much power does she really have to change her future, and what is she willing to sacrifice for an eternity of love? If she makes the wrong choice, the deaths of many will be on her hands. 

Carol Riggs is an author of fiction for young adults (and adults!) who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her debut novel, The Body Institute, released Sept 2015 from Entangled Teen, exploring body image and identity. Her fantasy YA, Bottled, will release from Clean Reads on July 7, 2016, and her sci-fi YA, Safe Zone, will release from Entangled Teen in October 2016. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.



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Thanks Carol for lighting up my blog today with your genie Adeelah!
  • How about you, dear reader. Are you into genies? Do you remember Bewitched or I Dream of Jeanie?

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Short travel post number one -- China, the Great Wall -- and a few bonus photos.

Several of you asked for more pics of my trip to China and I'm happy to oblige. Today I'm starting with a few outtakes from travel articles I've written since returning home. I'll start my first 'proper' China post back at the Great Wall after a little detour.

If you'd rather read/comment on my Word Press blog, go here...


Travellers the world over share the heady anticipation of ‘firsts’—the first time they see Rocamadour, (the town of the Black Madonna and foie gras) built into the cliff face not far from Bordeaux in France, the first time they make it to Everest Main Camp, the first time they make a pilgrimage to Machu Picchu.

Glorious Rocamadour didn't disappoint!

Yet some ‘firsts’ can be disappointing. Think about this...As I entered the hallowed halls of the Vatican to gaze upon Michelangelo’s painted ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, a much-anticipated 'first', it was not the ceiling but the floor that dominated the scene—wall to wall tourists lying on their backs pointing cameras with lenses as long as their arms to the ceiling while nattily-dressed security guards danced over the inert bodies screaming, ‘No photo! No photo!’

But my last ‘first’ exploded every expectation I’d held since I saw newspaper photos of President Nixon and Mao Zedong on the Great Wall of China in the '70s—my own ‘first’ visit to the Great Wall, the foremost example of ancient architecture on the planet.

What I dubbed Base Camp at the Juyong Pass Great Wall section.
After climbing the wall, it was good to mosey around here while the thighs tried to stop wobbling.

Getting ready to rock! That mountain top looks a long way away!

Heading for the watchtower at the top of the mountain. Those stairs were full-on killers. We’re all giddily happy to be climbing the wall. Some tell me it was a long-cherished dream, impossible to fulfill when China was closed to foreigners, (wàiguó rén, or ‘big noses’).

This wall is mighty steep and goes forever. It's a long way to the top if you want to rock 'n' roll!!

The top of the section. Sadly, I didn't make it this far, but the hubs is far more competitive than I am...of course he had to take photos for me!

  • How about you? Do you have any travel 'firsts' that never leave your mind?
Thanks for coming by.
I hope you enjoyed travelling with me.
Next post will be on Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City.

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Misha Gericke reveals her writing insecurities for #IWSG. Endless blog tour post. And a China sneak-peek--the Great Wall of China.

Welcome to the May #IWSG posts. Many of you will be battle fatigued after participating in the A - Z Challenge. I was busy touring China, so I'm not sure which was the most exhausting. I'll give you a pic or two of China at the end of the post for those who have been begging to see some, but today my blog belongs to Misha Gericke who is sharing her insecurities on writing then introducing us to her new book.

Thank you to Alex J Cavanaugh and the team of co-hosts for May!
 We have: Stephen Tremp, Fundy Blue, MJ Fifield, Loni Townsend, Bish Denham, Susan Gourley, and Stephanie Faris! If you have time, visit each one and say hi!

Now, take it away, Misha!

About Insecurities

The first time I managed to finish a book, it was a huge, almost terrifying tome that took me six months only to figure out the concept.

So when the time came for me to write Endless, my second story, I was terrified of starting it.

All because it felt like I didn’t have enough understanding of the story to write it. Endless started as a concept; more than two years before that I only thought of tangentially while drafting The Vanished Knight and The Heir’s Choice. Sort of: “I wish I could write a story about an amnesiac immortal.”

Then I had a sudden blast of inspiration right before NaNoWriMo. I didn’t have anything else to write, so obviously Endless was the best option. But I didn’t think about the world. Didn’t even know any of the characters. (Which was a new experience for me.)

I freaked out for the whole week before NaNoWriMo started, which of course meant that I couldn’t figure anything out either.

This sounds like the recipe for a disaster, doesn’t it?

Well… actually...

I started on November 1 with no clue other than the main character having amnesia.

I finished the rough draft in fifteen days. (Which was my personal record from November 2011 to September 2015.)

The rewrite took me three weeks. (I rough draft in pen.)

The book basically wrote itself. Twice.

Which does go to show you.

Sometimes, we really freak out about the stupidest things.

What has caused you to be insecure about your writing, only to turn out not to be worth worrying about?

About the Book

“First, do no harm.” Blake Ryan swore that oath to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals.

Things are different now. Using regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay,

Ryan has led a quiet life since the Second World War. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them.

Until a plane crash brings Aleria into his hospital. Her life is vibrant. Crack to predators like him. She’s the exact sort of person they would hunt, and thanks to a severe case of amnesia, she’s all but defenseless.

Leaving Aleria vulnerable isn’t an option, but protecting her means unleashing his own inner monster. Which is a problem, because his inner monster wants her dead most of all.

AmazonUS | Amazon Universal | Apple | Barnes& Noble | Kobo |Goodreads

About the Author

Misha Gerrick lives near Cape Town, South Africa, and can usually be found staring at her surroundings while figuring out her next book.

If you’d like to see what Misha’s up to at the moment, you can find her on these social networks:


This had to be what dying felt like. Floating outside my body, waiting for that final link to my life to be severed, only vaguely aware of indescribable pain. More screams than I could count rose up around me. Hundreds of footsteps beat against tiles. I couldn’t open my eyes if I wanted to. Not when it was easier to listen and wait. People shouted for a doctor or an IV, or a thousand other things that made no sense. I listened to all the chaos, trying to untangle it in my thoughts.

Soon, I could go. The peace around me was so relaxing, completely out of place in the clamor I heard. I wanted it. To rest forever in that peace. Why not? There was a very good reason, but I couldn’t call it to mind.

A numb buzz shot through my body and shattered my serenity.

It happened again. Only this time was more of a sharp pulse. The third time jolted like lightning. The fourth…Hell. Suddenly, the screams were coming from me. My heart’s relentless thundering added to my torment.



My chest burned like fire. It hurt to breathe. Cold air drove down my throat and into my lungs, amplifying the inferno in my chest. My skin felt scorched. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t right.

I had to see. I had to understand why pain dominated my existence like this. My eyes were fused shut. My breaths grew shallow, trying to draw air when there was none. I tried to clench my teeth. I bit hard plastic. A pipe. Cold air suddenly forced back into my lungs, out of time with my own breathing. This was wrong. It wasn’t safe. I had to see. The best I got was a little fluttering of my lashes.

A high-pitched beep shot through my head. It repeated again and again. I wanted to reach over and slam my fist into its source. My arm wouldn’t lift. Something kept it trapped. A scream rose up from the depths of my soul, but the pipe jammed inside my throat stifled the sound. I only managed a whimper, trying my best not to gag. More air blasted into my lungs against my will. What was going on? I was trapped in my own body, but why?

I needed to move. I had to move. Now. Before… Even… Even though… Panic gripped me. The beeps increased at a frenetic pace. I needed to move. To be gone. Didn’t matter where. Just not here. Not defenseless. Not trapped.

The air sucked out of my lungs. I gasped, choking on nothing, strangled by invisible fingers. I tried to convulse my body. To twist myself free of what’s holding me.


The air rushed back in a cold flood. Seconds later it left, only to return in the same amount of time.

There was a rhythm to the air. In… out... in… out… The breaths were slow—sleep-like. I concentrated on this rhythm, striving to clear my head. If I wanted out, I needed to think. Calmly. Clearly. Eventually, those irritating beeps slowed. I tried to focus past the sound.

Voices buzzed about me, adding to my need to see, to do something to protect myself. No one seemed to pay attention to me. Good. I could use that to my advantage.

I centered my every thought on moving my little finger. It finally jerked, but collided against something solid. So the thing trapping my arm was physical and too heavy for me to lift. It was better to be trapped than paralyzed. With luck I could escape my restraints. I tried my other hand, but it was cemented stuck as well. Right leg. Left leg. Damn it! Both trapped. I had to move!


No, I needed to stay calm. I tried to make larger movements, biting the pipe in my mouth against the urge to scream in pain. There was no wiggle room.

Fearing that I might be blindfolded, I focused on blinking. It worked. My eyes opened and the blur faded, revealing ceiling tiles. Why would there be tiles? Where was the canvas of hospital tents? The distant sounds of bombs dropping? The power of their explosions rushing through my blood?

No. That wasn’t right. I wasn’t there.

Where was I, then?

I hope you enjoyed visiting with Misha today and that her new book has captured your imagination. Please leave an encouraging reply for Misha. You know how insecure we writers can get.

And here are a few China pics of the Great Wall of China--that climb is a truly exhilarating, yet at times terrifying experience. Coming down is just as dangerous as going up! But I'm glad I've had the experience. For those of you who've asked for more pics/stories, they will be forthcoming in my next post!

Where I climbed the wall.
Base camp at the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall of China
the Guangou Valley. Upgraded during the Ming Dynasty.
Here Genghis Khan passed through on his thunderous journey to Beijing.

From my vantage point on the Wall--looking down on the village below. I climbed the largest ancient structure on the planet!! Go me!