Camp #NaNoWriMo April 2016: Days 23-26


Current Word Count: 21,339 words

FMC is still on her shopping trip but that’s because getting her uniform equalled her finding out more about Halowin, how she got in and getting advice about extracurricular activities. Getting her lunch meanwhile has revealed another bad deed her family committed against the family owners of the diner but all of this has actually resulted in Hallie gaining 2 possible friends. Her return to the hotel gets her thinking about relationships between her and others and she concludes that she may find someone in the future who does actually love and care for her. Of course, this means her love interest (who has shown up briefly already) is about to have his full introduction.

It’s all good information but I have already concluded that this is going to be a pain to edit. I mean, I am on 21k words and the real story hasn’t fully started. Of course, that’s a consideration for later. Also, when I was last wrote an update, I said that the story took place in an AU, high fantasy location. Writing a bit more has revealed that no, it is firmly in this world. I am glad I realised this now as it means I can focus on the story again and have fewer concerns about this should I go back to editing this draft.

So whilst not a lot has really happened, information is being gathered and I have no doubt things will work out. How are you feeling in these last few days? Close to target or just writing for the story now? Will you continue with the story or are you putting it aside? Feel free to comment below.

Camp #NaNoWriMo April 2016: Days 18-22


Current Word Count: 18,185 words

This draft just keeps kicking up new information. The FMC’s mum is backing my FMC’s beliefs about being able to be so much better and is supportive of her going to an elite magic school, rather than the dark magic one the rest of the family goes to. The FMC has also proved to be a bit devious by using her place as the unwanted outcast to get money from her non-dad to do her school supply shopping and to stay in a hotel for a few days. The hotel is because her mum and non-dad are kicking all the kids out of the house for a few days to do a ritual that needs complete silence. I am trying to figure out how the shopping trip will go whilst relaying the same or similar information from the first draft.

In the last couple of days, I’ve realised that this story takes place not in our world but in another AU, high fantasy type world. It seems to be connected to other stories I have done in the past in a separate world that has been developing  for some years now. So that’s thrown up some new considerations, like government, world set up, it’s connection to other place, etc. At the same time, it has allayed some of my concerns about timing within the story. I don’t have to stick to the calendar of our world and I can draw upon elements from the other stories. This should be interesting.

So here’s hoping that when I post next weekend, I will be able to display a winner banner at the top of the post. How’s your writing going? Good? Bad? Had any revelations? Good luck folks!

“Not science fiction enough”

Genre can be a tricky thing to deal with. What’s classed as one genre for one person is classed as another genre by someone else.
I have mentioned before that I use to work voluntary in my local library and I often saw this conflict when we had books come in on rotation (the sending of books to another library to provide new reading material for customers and to freshen up shelves). I would sometimes run a book through the computer system and see that the same book was classed as 2, 3 or even 4 different genres so shelved in different places.
At the same time, I think as writers we can’t entirely constrain ourselves to the codes and conventions of a certain genre. It would be fairly limiting and make the writing of the story not as fun as we first imagined it. Or maybe that’s just me.


Alicia K. Anderson

I’ve mentioned before that I have recently submitted a story to, an online critique group.  You might have caught my live-tweets of all twenty critiques I received for my short story.  If you didn’t, you can click here to read them.

One thing that I found interesting was a fairly consistent comment that my story wasn’t “Sci fi” at all, or that it wasn’t “fantastical” enough.




It is easy to dismiss these readers as people who just didn’t get it.  I don’t think that’s a safe thing to do.   What I’d like to know is what qualifies a story to be “genre” enough to be considered “genre.”    I want to start a conversation – here, or somewhere – about what makes a science fiction story science fiction.

I maintain that if it steps outside of things that could or do happen in our real…

View original post 139 more words

Derek Landy reading Chapter 3 from Last Stand of Dead Men

So, as if I haven’t posted enough videos of Landy reading and talking about Last Stand of Dead Men, HarperCollins Children’s Books have published yet another on their YouTube channel. So, I’m posting this one too:

I have also found a video of him introducing Last Stand too, from the Waterstones YouTube channel:

I can’t remember if I have posted it before so I figured I might as well post it again.


Book Review: Air Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones & Anonymous

Yes, another Babylon book by Imogen. I don’t know why, but I have really got into these at the moment. Maybe it’s because of my own fruitless job search and these books are about books.

Set in an airport and following employees of a fictional airline, Air Babylon follows the high, lows, the weird and the wonderful events that can take place in an airport as the staff help the young and the elderly, the mad and sometimes the downright ridiculous. All the stories are true, as told to Imogen by Anonymous, a group of industry insiders and take place in one 24 hour period. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Starting on the ground, Anonymous goes through his shift dealing with various problems and letting the reader follow and explore what happens when someone dies on a flight, how they deal with illegal immigrants, animals being transported in weird and wonderful ways (leading to a chapter in the animal welfare centre), what the chaplaincy service does in the airport and the tricks that passengers try to get free upgrades. There’s also what happens when the rich and famous checks in and flies.

The action then moves into the air, exploring what the captain and first officer does in the cockpit, the tricks that are played on new colleagues, the secrets behind the food on the plane, the entertainment, the different types of passengers and includes, yes, those that want to join the Mile High Club.

There is also a small section that takes place on the ground at the planes destination and what the plane’s crew gets up to during their stopovers. It is very eye-opening.

Just like Hotel Babylon, this book is great fun and is told from the first person perspective. It gives a real insight to the world of air travel post-9/11 and shows just how highly unionised certain jobs and groups within the airport have become. It has the same share of shocks and surprises, amusement and sadness, the funny and the truly crazy that Hotel had. Again, this is the sort of book that would be very appropriate to read in an airport and on a plane…or maybe not!

This is also very interesting and provides a great look at an industry that is often seen as glamorous and very appealing to people to work in and gives the real story of how things work. For anyone wanting to work in the industry or is just interested, this would be a great read for all.

Unlike Hotel, I had a few issues with this book. First off, the swearing again. Far too much in my opinion. Secondly, this has a lot of exposition and a lot of facts and figures are given in large chunks which slows and distracts from the great story being told. Thirdly, and this might be just me, but it took me until very nearly the end of the book before I realised the protagonist, Anonymous, was male! I actually thought the main character was gay for the best part of it. Whoops!

Over all, Air Babylon is a great read and provides a great insight into the excesses, the tricks and the truly shocking things that happen in airports and on board the plane and on the other end. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely re-read and dip back into it when needed during my writing. An excellent read for all (adults)!

Book Review: Hotel Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones & Annonymous

Okay, sorry for the lack of reviews and new content this week. I’ve had a few issues to deal with in real life.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to spend a night in a high-class hotel so what does happen in such establishments? What do the staff get up to behind the scenes when they are not dealing with guests? What debauchery, scams and drugs happens behind the scenes? Hotel Babylon answers those questions and more. Fictionalised to a certain extent to protect the guilty, Imogen and Anonymous (an insider in the hospitality sector) explore the workings of a hotel, cramming years of stories and anecdotes into one 24 hour period.

This book is great fun. Written from the first person, the reader watches everything from Anonymous’ point of view as he moves through his day and night working in a hotel. The stories are shocking, entertaining, funny and sometimes saddening. It also provides an insight to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Some of the excesses are surprising and what the doorman does to keep the guests happy, from arranging tables at the most exclusive restaurants to hiring prostitutes for guests to, uh, get their rocks off, is shocking. However, it all amounts to a very entertaining read.

I believe it also gives a better insight into the world than most career information leaflets and books could ever give anyone who wants to work in hotels (especially high-end hotels) and for anyone who is just interested.

The only problem I have with this (and other books in the series) is that there seems to be an excess of swearing when some of it could be done without. Yes, adults swear but I feel there is just too much of it for there to be any real need for it. Maybe it’s because I am not used to the level of swearing used and maybe it’s because I am still learning about the world but I do know that there is an excess of it when it could really be avoided.

Despite the issue with swearing, this book is fascinating and interesting and gives a unique view on the world of hotels and hospitality and is great fun. Probably ironic but perfect material to read on holiday or in a hotel, this book provides the highs and lows of the industry, as well as the shocking and downright outrageous.


Book Review: More Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops by Jen Campbell

I know I haven’t posted for a couple of days but life got in the way. I have however finished another book, as well as this one, in the last few days so I will be posting two reviews today. Moving on, this particular book is only a short book so this will probably be only a short review.

More Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops is the sequel to the original book and features conversations and quotes from customers in bookshops, either to the bookseller or to another customer, which have happened in either in the shop that the author works in or from other bookshops and libraries around the world. There is also a section about quotes from customers from when Jen Campbell was signing copies of the original book.

The original book kept me giggling and laughing and this book was no different. One of the quotes left me literally crying with laughter (I will post it at the end of this review) whilst others left me as confused as the booksellers and the librarians featured in the book. It also left me wondering about some of the customers. I can’t describe what I mean as I can’t even put my thoughts into words. I think the best way to describe it is that it just leaves me wondering and makes me question how some people’s brains work. I think everyone knows those people that they sometimes are left wondering about and I think that some of those people must feature in this book. The last section also shows that some people have some pretty weird ideas and shows that some traditional ideas about writers still persist.

Moving on though, I loved this book and would highly recommend it to everyone, particularly if you work in a bookshop or a library and/or go into shops or libraries a lot. It certainly gives you a new perspective on the people who go in. And I will finish, as promised, on my favourite quote:

CUSTOMER: I need to return this book on ghosts.

BOOKSELLER: Is there a problem with it?

CUSTOMER: Yes. It’s haunted.

Susan Holland: SmithBooks, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (p.94)


Book Review: The Vampire’s Kiss by Vivi Anna

Since I have already reviewed two Mills and Boon Nocturne books, I figured I might as well review this one as well (and if I find any other M&B books I have read, I might review them also).

The Vampire’s Kiss takes place in Vivi Anna’s supernatural or Otherworlders filled city of Nouveau-Monde and starts when vampire CSI, Olena, is sent to investigate a break in at the bank. Her investigation is quickly interrupted by human Interpol agent Cale Braxton, who has an ability himself. As their investigations combine and continue, the tension between the two becomes intense, things take a turn for the worst, leaving Cale in danger and Olena having to make life or death decision which may include losing Cale forever…

Unlike Hauf’s Moon Kissed, Vivi Anna’s book does not stick to the clichéd patterns of other M&B books I feel however the story seems to lose the plot and it can become annoying as the reader tries to catch back up. Even so, it does not lose it completely and the plot returns by the end. It is a satisfying ending for the romantic storyline however the crime one could have been improved a little to at least keep the plot in place when it seems to lose it slightly.

The sexual tension is there and whilst the sex scenes are not at the same level as Hauf’s in terms of getting the reader hot under the collar, they are still very well written and do add to the storyline and push it forward. Unfortunately, it does not make up for when the plot is lost. The characters I would dare say are much more three-dimensional and the ending left me wanting to read more about Olena and Cale, what would happen next, how would Cale deal with his change of circumstances considering his job as an Interpol agent.

I did enjoy this book, much more than After the Kiss at least, and wouldn’t mind reading more about these characters and/or the city of Nouvau-Monde.

Book Review: 364 Days of Tedium, Or What Santa Gets Up To On His Days Off by Dave Cornmell

This book is NOT for children. You may have already got that from the book cover picture but I feel this is important to say right off the bat just in case parents are looking for books for kids about Santa and find this. Also, maybe I should have left this for Christmas to review but I felt like reviewing it now.

This book is an adult comic taking an amusing look on a day by day basis at what Santa, Mrs. Claus, his elves and his reindeer do throughout the year, especially since the advent of internet shopping means Santa now has very little to do. So what does he do with all his free time? Well, he attempts cleaning up after Christmas, has parties (with unfortunate consequences for his reindeer), has to hide himself and everyone else when scientists arrive at the North Pole, goes on holiday, questions whether he actually exists or not, attempts a diet and exercise routine and a host of other adventures. The comics also show Santa struggling with the types of New Years Resolutions that many make, such as writing that novel or giving up booze.

This book made me laugh out loud. Every comic is always roughly 4 to 6 panels and it is testament to the writer/artists ability that each convey all the jokes and mini stories they need to such short comic strips. There are many recurring jokes and characters and the book is easily read  all at once or in parts. The jokes are at times crude and include many toilet jokes, sex and, from time to time, expletives. This is probably its only drawback which can limit it’s audience, possibly down to it being the ideal book to get dads or even brothers or uncles. That isn’t to say that it cannot be enjoyed by women either (such as myself) though it is aimed more at men I would say.

In general though, it is a very enjoyable book and can leave you laughing out loud and amused as you see Santa dealing with all the issues that a normal everyday person has to deal with.


Book Review: Moon Over SoHo by Ben Aaronovitch

Moon Over SoHo is the second book in Aaronovitch’s PC Peter Grant series.

This second novel picks up after the first book, exploring the consequences of what happened and also starting on a new mystery after the death of a jazz musician. At first glance, everything seems all above board but when Peter starts digging under the surface, the death takes on a distinctly magical (as well as musical feel), leading Peter deep into the shady world of SoHo after dark.

This book does not suffer (too much!) from the flagging and dip in quality that is often experienced in second book. Instead, it explores more of the world that Aaronovitch has created and continues with the quality of wit and humour found in the first book. In addition to this, Aaronovitch continues his high quality writing when it comes to research.

Now, in my first review of Rivers of London, I discussed the level of research done and I wanted to discuss it here again.

In this, the second, it was about the historical context for the novel (both through history from the Second World War to more recent history of crime and police corruption), the discussion of jazz music and the organisation of thee musicians guild in London and the area the novel takes place in. There would also have been some medical research again.

It is Aaronovitch’s attention to detail that I particularly like about his work and enjoy.