Thursday, 28 August 2014


    Why haven't I come across this before? It's brilliant! For all you authors out there who haven't heard of it, you must check it out (and no, I'm not on commission). There's a free version, which I'm using, though I might well get the paid version at a later date.
    I'm so pleased I've found a site - and I'm sure there are many others out there - where my work can be critiqued as I go along. I don't expect betas to do that: they are there for the mostly polished finished product. But to have someone, or several someones, who are all writers, give me the benefit of their opinion and expertise, chapter by chapter, is wonderful! Hopefully this should make for better and cleaner writing.

 Here's the link, if anyone wants to check it out:

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Not really a girl.

     Yes, I was born female, and yes, I still am. My husband definitely says I'm female, and mutters something about being moody, unpredictable, nagging etc.

     But I'm not really a girly girl. I style my hair in the morning and then forget to look in the mirror for the rest of the day to check it's not all over the place. I put lipstick on before I go out, but by the time I get to the end of the street I've licked it all off - and it never occurs to me to reapply it. And I'm not that bothered about clothes shopping, although there is a certain something about shoes..., but best if I don't go there.

      I've had my moments, though. For instance there was the time when my daughter and I decided to have a pampering session. I was talked into having false eyelashes; you know, the ones that are stuck on in little clumps and can last for a couple of weeks? Not on me they didn't! For a start I looked like a startled llama, and by the end of day three I looked like a started llama with alopecia as the clumps began to fall out. Then there's the false nails fiasco. I'm so unused to them that I can't do anything: typing becomes seriously interesting, as does taking out contact lenses. So eventually I end up nibbling them off, leaving a tattered mess on the end of my fingers. Oh, and let's don't forget the fake tan effort - I looked like a side of streaky bacon.

     Then there's dirt. I seem to attract it. Take yesterday - fresh from a shower I decided it would be a good idea to check the oil on my car. The grease went everywhere. I even had to change my socks.I really don't know how I do it!

The whole reason for this winge came about after a visit to get my eyebrows tinted. I'm blonde - they are not. Nuff said.

Friday, 8 August 2014

A British seaside

A day at a British beach is unlike any other. For one thing, we rarely see a day warm enough to sunbathe, so when it does happen we head to the seaside in droves. This means queueing for hours on the roads leading to the coast, and driving aimlessly in circles trying to find a parking space once you get to your chosen destination.
But once you arrive, there is something so 'British' about the whole experience. Buckets and spades, melting ice-creams, giant inflatables that the wind blows across the sand. Rock pooling (this requires the purchase of a net),

a flask of tea, and sand in your sandwiches are all part of the day, as is the hiring of deckchairs (not sun-loungers like you get on Mediterranean beaches) and windbreaks. The smell of fish and chips mixes with the fresh sea smell (ozone and seaweed), and bugers, candyfloss and donuts.
Then there are the various entertainments - the pier, with its arcade games, the rides, and let's don't forget the donkey rides, fifty feet down the beach on a patient donkey - my three-year-old first taste of being on the back of any equine. I was hooked.
We have wild and beautiful beaches in the UK, unspoilt and remote, but there is something special about a tourist beach in Britain, evoking memories of my childhood. My only regret is that I'm too old for a donkey ride!

Friday, 1 August 2014

alpha, beta, etc

This is so good, I simply had to post it as many places as I could. describes the difference between alpha and beta readers perfectly (and you must admit, when many of us ask for betas we really would like alphas...)

If you want to read more from this blog, here's the link:

Alpha Readers vs Beta Readers

Alternately titled, “Your First Draft Sucks, Please Stop Foisting It On People.”
First Draft
Your first draft sucks.
Note that I didn’t say “may” suck or even “probably” sucks … it does.
There are varying degrees of suckitude, mainly involving how much practice you’ve had editing your own writing, but in general and in specific, first drafts suck.
On the bright side, they are SUPPOSED to suck.
I don’t mean they “can” or that it’s totally understandable if they “do” — they are “supposed to”.
Your first draft is a flurry of left turns, discoveries, boring bits, madcap madness, and premeditated plot all whizzed together in a magimix and spat back out on the page.
Your first draft is your way of getting to know your story, and even die-hard outliners like myself know that your story and your characters will surprise you along the way.
PLEASE Won’t You Read My Story? Insert Disney Eyes Here
That being said, please stop foisting your first draft on folks, begging your friends and family to read this untamed smoothie of a story.
I get it.
I really, really do. You want validation. You want someone to tell you that the time you just spent was WORTH it. That the words you wrote are good, and fun, and entertaining, and have the desired effect.
I feel for you, my heart aches for you … and I do not want to read your first draft. Even if I am your alpha reader, I want to read your SECOND draft.
Alpha Readers
Alpha readers are the ones who go in first. Typically, you owe them favors the size of Texas, and they owe you the same ones. Alpha readers are the folks who will read your stuff multiple times and who give you crits … and in almost every case, you do the exact same for them.
If you have alpha readers, folks, LOVE them. Tell them how much you appreciate the HOURS and HOURS of time they spend on YOUR writing. Spend the same amount of time on THEIR writing. (Bre, Steve, Steven? I love you.)
Do not waste your alpha readers’ time.
I’m going to say it again, in all caps.
If you hand me a manuscript to read and I have to draw myself little maps to keep track of what’s happening because you haven’t quite stitched together scene three, or you had a great new idea in scene 7 that you dumped in scene 10. THEN, when I hand over a list of critiques, your response is, “I know! I just haven’t had time to fix those yet!” I might set you on fire with my mind.
Just so you know.
Alpha readers get your SECOND draft. The one that turns the glorious, creative mess of your first draft into a recognizable story and that fixes all the things you already know are wrong.
Beta Readers
Beta readers get your “polished” draft.
You may go multiple rounds with your alphas, making changes, tweaking things, deciding what needs to go and what needs to stay, and does the phrasing here really work, and is “taxidermied” really a word or not?
Your beta readers get the book you’re pretty sure is ready for you to hand off to an agent or publisher. You know there will be further edits down the line, but THIS book is good. It’s not perfect, but it’s good, and you need some FRESH eyes on it — people who never read version 2, where you killed off the main character’s best friend in scene 32, or version 3, where space aliens landed and kidnapped the main character’s pet beagle as part of a sub-plot.
Beta readers come in when you and your alphas can’t find anything else wrong. Beta readers are READERS more than they are critiquers (though if you’re lucky, your beta readers know enough to point out flaws you couldn’t see). They’re your test group.
Beta readers may only read your manuscript once. (You will be expected to read their manuscript once as well, if they have them.)
The first time someone reads your manuscript is a magical thing. Much like unicorns, in fact. In small doses, unicorns are delightful, delicate, glorious beings of majesty and light. In large doses, they trample your garden and eat all your carrots and poo all over the back yard, and you keep waking to find your eyes caked shut with glitter.
Love your beta readers. Don’t be an unwelcome guest in their gardens. (Shout out to the folks at the Saucy Ink writer’s club!)
Tami Is a Big-Ol Meanie-Pants
This may sound harsh. In fact, it probably does.
Especially as a fledgling writer, you may need some extra hand-holding to get you through. Writing is awfully lonely business, and waiting MONTHS to share something that’s “finished” is painful. If you’re that new and that delicate, find other new and delicate writers to hold your hand, and grow together. Writers growing together is a beautiful thing.
However, if you don’t have time to fix the things you know are wrong with your story OR if you don’t love your story (YOUR STORY, not your manuscript) enough to polish it up?
Then I don’t have time to read it. Period.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Laughing my socks off

I'm not letting my husband read The Times again; it gives him ideas. Yesterday started off as normal, when he turned to the culture pages, looked at the Sunday Times best sellers lists, stabbed a finger at the fiction lists and quipped, 'Just checking out the competition.'

But yesterday he got a bit excited. 'Look, look! You could enter this. £30,000 first prize.' I reckon his head has been turned by the idea of all that cash, because what he was referring to was the 2015 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.

That's the equivalent of me entering the Tour de France based on a quick ride round the block on my nephew's chopper - with stabilisers still on.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, though...

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Batteries not required.

Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device, or BOOK for short.
BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on.
It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it. Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere, even sitting in an armchair by the fire, yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc.
Here's how it works:
BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence. Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs.
BOOKs with more information simply use more pages. Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet.
BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.
BOOK never crashes or requires rebooting. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish.
Many BOOKs come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.
An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session, even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOKmarks can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once.
You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with optional programming tools, Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Styli (PENCILS).
Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave.
BOOK's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking to invest. Look for a flood of new titles soon.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Little boxes

     I don't know how other people feel about being type-cast, but although I don't like it done to me, I often do it to other people.
     I'm talking authors, here. I like my favourite authors to stick to their genre, or rather the genre I am familiar with them writing in. For instance, take Charlaine Harris - I expect her to write paranormal, because the first books of her's I encountered were the Sookie Stackhouse series. I read her Lily Bard series next, and had to admit that I was sorely disappointed in the first book, because I expected a paranormal read. I hasten to add that I really enjoyed the Lily Bard books, once I put my expectations to one side, and read them for what they are - mysteries
     I would also be seriously upset if I bought a Stephen King book, only to find it was a romance. See what I mean? I'm putting my favourite authors in little boxes, and woe betide them if they try to clamber out!
     But that is where I am being a hypocrite. I, too, have a genre (PNR), and I have a couple more stories in my head in this genre that I want to publish after my latest work, The Spirit Guide, has gone live, sometime this summer. But after that...? I have other novels in my head that are not paranormal at all, and maybe not even romance. I would probably call them dramas, or women's fiction.
    What are my readers going to think, and are they, too, going to demand that I get back in my box? Time will tell...