Thursday, 27 December 2007

Amazing goings-on at Amazon

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards extract sightings

Yesterday I was emailed by an ABNA cyber friend, Dwight Okita, to tell me that some of The Chosen One Thousand had been loaded on to the site, nineteen days before they would be officially available. To see them, you just had to go to Books and type ABNA into the search box.

Huge excitement - Trav Zander was not there, alas, but so far only about a hundred were. And you could download them for free and read them!

Or you could, if you lived in America.

Anywhere else, and you couldn't.

Then Josie added the White House as her billing address, and was able to download! I followed her example, using Amazon's Head Office address in Seattle as my cyber piede-a-terre. You can see it in the picture. (I'm right at the top, the middle window. Stunning view). Result!

But will anyone in England be prepared to do this to vote for me? Something tells me the shortlist will be exclusively American...

UPDATE 28/12/07 Amazon noticed that we'd noticed the list, and removed it and the extracts we'd downloaded. They haven't removed my virtual address in America as yet...

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Christmas in novels

A seasonal selection...

A Christmas Carol – written to pay off a debt, it sold 6,000 copies in the first week, and was hugely influential. Dickens is to blame for it all, the whole lot, turkey, relatives, spending more than you can afford on presents, it’s all his fault. Bah! Humbug! N.B. The Ghost of Christmas Present, who much resembles Father Christmas, wears green, and favours a bare chest. Chilly.

Emma - the terrific scene where she is confined in a coach on a snowy Christmas Eve with Mr Elton. Mistakenly thinking her in love with him, he proposes; then gets huffy when refused, and never forgives her. He and the vulgar new wife he petulantly acquires are Emma's enemies thenceforth.

Little Women – those pesky small females again – ‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents’. 'It's so dreadful to be poor,' (how true). But they discovered they could still be happy! And Jo made money from her stories… Those were the days.

Harry Potter - Harry getting dreadful Dursley presents – a single tissue – and a jumper from Ron’s mum, and having a great time with Ron and Hermione.

The Bachelor – Stella Gibbons wrote half a dozen novels as good as Cold Comfort Farm, the only one in print today. There's a lovely description of a wartime Christmas, capturing all the undercurrents of the characters' hopes and desires. 'Kenneth began to give out the presents and cries of "Just what I wanted!" began to sound in all their falseness upon the festal air.'

Courtesy of Lorraine: a Christmas song.


Sunday, 16 December 2007

Calling Names

Names are REALLY important...

I bet everyone with a computer has, at some time, idly googled his own name. It's only when you hope to become well known that you realize being called Mary Jones or John Smith is not good. Not good at all. Though you can get away with it if you excel in your field - John Smith, briefly leader of the Labour Party, at the time transcended his bog-standard name.

I chose my writing name with this in mind. Google Lexi Revellian and it's all ME. Mwah-ha-ha-ha! (Though they do ask if you mean 'rebellion').

There is a magic in names. Yahweh was God's name in the Old Testament, so powerful that his worshippers were forbidden to say it. In an unacknowledged rite of passage, teenagers today often change their name when leaving home. Tessa becomes Tess, Elizabeth Liza, Mark Marc.

Back to writing; a critic once said that you could often guess the quality of a novel by the aptness and credibility of the characters' names. Bad names most likely meant a bad novel. This is especially true in fantasy, where writers have total freedom, and frequently abuse it. A hero called L'tru? Rramis? Gwaal?

Or children's fiction. Bobby Redbreast the Robin, Squawky the Crow, Mr and Mrs Blue-tit, Beady Eye the Hawk, Bobtail the rabbit, Ollie the Owl - the poverty of imagination makes you want to weep. (I did not make these up, by the way).

I've just read The Princess Bride, an eccentric but good read. Some of the names are excellent; Inigo Montoya, Vizzini, Fezzik. But others give you the impression William Goldman put down the first names that came into his head, then forgot to go back and change them. Buttercup, Westley, Humperdinck. Dear oh dear.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

My new writing website

Fun to do, after the first few hours of teeth gnashing

I've just set up a writing website. I've had this writing blog since June 2007. I am a huge fan of Blogger - it's elegant, easy to use apart from a few line spacing issues, and free!

But I wanted a site for more permanent information. I'd made a note of Squarespace ages ago, as their site looks so cool. Contrast it with Godaddy. And you get 30 days free trial. I assumed, having had the experience of setting up my jewellery website with Freestart, I would find the process easy.


I spent hours getting cross, and not very far. In a temper with Squarespace, I signed up for a free trial with Moonfruit, only to find it much less easy to use, and less flexible. Every time I viewed my fledgling site, they nagged me to sign up. You can't load a whole short story. Also I kept calling it Moonboot, or Fruitsuit...

I went back to Squarespace, persevered, and am really pleased with the result.

Have a look at it here.

AND it's got a message board! Now this may not seem immediately useful, but I have a vivid imagination. Just suppose I started to become slightly known - through ABNA possibly - a fan could leave me a message! I could answer him!

As my fame spread, fans could chat on my message board about how great I am, and I could delight them by the rare personal appearance there, becoming ever more elusive the richer and more famous I became...

A girl can dream.

Friday, 7 December 2007


Now where did that come from?

As a child, I loved Enid Blyton, particularly The Famous Five, but it was a thwarted love that dared not speak its name. Parents, teachers and librarians were united in their disapproval of her works, and conspired to make them unavailable to middle-class children like me.

I managed to read only three or four Famous Fives; I can’t remember how I got my hands on them. Possibly borrowed them from other children, or gulped them down in visits to friends' houses (what an unsatisfactory guest I must have been).

When my daughter started to read, I bought her the lot. She devoured them. When she was older and we were having a clear-out, she began to read… They ended up back on the shelf.

For me, the moment has passed, the magic is gone. I am, alas, too old and cynical to enjoy the books now.

But I there’s one I remember as being especially riveting. I looked it up; it’s Five Fall into Adventure. The Five meet a plucky ragamuffin girl, Jo, whom they mistake for a boy. She’s the baddie’s daughter, but helps the boys rescue George. Chatting on the Youwriteon forum about early loved books, I had a revelation about Jo:

Good God, that’s where Tor came from!

Tor, my heroine in Rising Fire. Five Fall into Adventure went deep into my imagination when I was a child, to emerge all these years later…

Saturday, 1 December 2007

RISING FIRE number 1 in YWO December Bestsellers!

Rising Fire wins professional literary critique on Youwriteon

A certain amount of dancing round the room is going on here. Yes! I can't wait to read my critique from a professional in publishing.

Not because I think it's likely to be ecstatic - I don't, I'm expecting it to be fairly harsh since I am aware there are still a lot of things that could be improved in the start of Rising Fire. It's not as well-written as Trav Zander. And not because I think there's any chance the critiquer will be so impressed he/she will sign me up! That is the stuff of fantasy, and has happened to fewer than 1% of those authors who've been critiqued.

No, I am interested to know if there might be a market for my books, and if I have any chance at all of getting published...

Final gloat (sorry): all four of my pieces (two novels, two short stories) on Youwriteon are now in the Bestseller Chart.
I need a new Achievable Goal!