Mastodon The Writing Desk: August 2012

30 August 2012

Book Launch Guest Post - Botanicaust by Tam Linsey

I write dystopia. Adult dystopia. For some reason, many readers assume dystopia is synonymous with YA. 

My 14-year-old niece took Botanicaust to school because she was excited her aunt wrote a book, and planned on doing a book report with it. (My sister allowed it – that whole, “It’s dystopia so it must be YA thing.”) The teacher called and asked my sister if she knew what her daughter was reading. “The cover is a little... saucy.”

Uh, yeah! This is a book for adults. Look at my cover. That is the first thing a reader sees – it’s a promise about what they are going to get inside. Does my cover say YA to you? The image is a woman, not a youth. And she’s naked. I’d guess there may be adult themes in the book. So, why do people assume it’s YA? Because it is dystopia. (If you’re unfamiliar with the term dystopia, I wrote a short article on it a while back, which you can read here.)

Many adults are reading and enjoying YA these days. There is even a group on Goodreads called Our Guilty Little Secret for adults who enjoy YA. I’m writing for those people, who appreciate the deep thinking themes and fast pace of YA dystopia, but might want a protagonist who’s over sixteen. Dystopia fans of the world, unite!

To finish the story about my niece, my sister went ahead and allowed her to read the book because the two sex scenes are very vanilla. What I would call rated ‘R.’ She and her daughter have a very good relationship when it comes to being open and talking. But I will forever be (jokingly) called the “slutty aunt who writes porn.”   Welcome to adult dystopia!

Tam Linsey lives in Alaska with her husband and two children. In spite of the rigors of the High North, she grows, hunts, or fishes for much of her family’s food. During the long Alaskan winters she writes speculative fiction.  You can find her books on Amazon and other online retailers, or visit her website at and follow @TamLinsey on twitter.

25 August 2012

Book Launch Guest Post - Phases of the Moon by Louise Hastings

I never knew I wanted to be a writer and only took up the pen after suffering a severe bout of anxiety and depression a couple of years ago, and that was initially just to scribble something down in a journal every day. In the process of that scribbling, I discovered a joy for wordplay and poetry. There's something about allowing my thoughts and emotions to breathe through the power of the medium that has been profoundly healing for me. 

I've had poetry published in various anthologies and Phases of the Moon is my first poetry collection, published by Winter Goose Publishing. In the book, I write about what moves me, the connections between the human psyche and our natural world. I found there was so much beauty in the world if only I had stopped long enough to notice it. Through mindful awareness, I have experienced a spiritual awakening of sorts that has carried and sustained me throughout my poetic journey. To be honest, everything you need to know about me can be found in my poetry.


If this country were my lips
cells dividing, splitting
Fingers, brittle, cracking,
I am my country, the distant hills

and this city
stained with blood and money
were my brain and bones,
I would be the river flowing,
my bloodstream thick with it,

cells dividing, splitting
into one more tortured poet
stood helpless against the tides,
against the process of decay.

Fingers, brittle, cracking,
cling like a fragile bird,
a world away
from the booted city girls,
blushed and powdered faces
striding past the glitter in the shops.

I am my country, the distant hills the spine that holds me upright.
I kiss the earth and sky,
the love that lies beside me
in the prism of the rainbow spray.

I am a poet and writer living on a wing and a prayer and the author of a 1st collection of poetry, Phases of the Moon published by Winter Goose Publishing.

I like to allow my thoughts and emotions to breathe through the power of artistic expression and can be found on my WebsiteTwitter and Facebook

Phases of the Moon is now available through and Amazon UK as well as Barnes & Noble.   Also look out for a giveaway soon on Goodreads!

Louise Hastings

3 August 2012

Guest Post: Morgen Bailey's 10 Tips For new Writers

In my experience too many novice writers worry about finding their ‘voice’ and understanding their ‘craft’ early on. It can be a long journey but providing you write regularly you’ll get there… and here are a few basics to help you on your way:
  1. Probably the most used phrase when teaching writing is ‘show don’t tell’. If you have a character who is angry for some reason, saying ‘Andy was angry’ is a classic example of ‘tell’. Simply put, you’re not showing us how. If you wrote ‘Andy slammed his fist onto the table’ you are.
  2. Dialogue tags – it’s recommended that you can only go up to six pieces of dialogue (between no more than two people) without attributing it to someone. And there’s nothing wrong with ‘said’. Don’t be tempted to look at your thesaurus and say ‘Andy postulated’. You could also avoid tags by another character saying “Oh Andy, that’s…” or in the description; ‘Andy laughed. “That’s…”
  3. Character names are important as we often get a sense of their personality by what they’re called. A Mavis is likely to be older than a Britney and would, usually, act differently. Avoid having names starting with the same letter; if you have a Todd talking to a Ted, the reader can easily get confused. Bill and Ted would be fine and as we know, they had a wonderful time back in the late 1980s.
  4. I’m a big fan of repetition… of not doing it. Unless it’s ‘the’, ‘and’ etc, a word should only be repeated if the second instance is to emphasise or clarify the first. For example, ‘Andy sat in the car. He beeped the horn of the car.’ You don’t need ‘of the car’ because we already know he’s in the car. If you said ‘Andy sat in the car. He beeped the horn and the car shook’ that would be fine because you’re clarifying that it’s the car and not the horn (because it’s the last object you mentioned) that’s shaking.
  5. Stephen King’s writing guide / autobiography ‘On writing’ has been the most suggested book in the interviews I’ve conducted. Amongst other things he’s notoriously against adverbs (‘ly’) and fair enough – in ‘completely dead’ you wouldn’t need the completely because dead says it all, and a character doesn’t need to be ‘sighing wearily’ because the sighing tells us enough, but adverbs are necessary in the right context. Again it’s all about clarification and fine-tuning.
  6. Every word has to count; does it move the story along or tell us about your characters? If not, the chances are it can be chopped.
  7. If you’re having trouble with a passage move on or leave it and return later with ‘fresh eyes’.
  8. Read. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your genre or not (one of my Monday nighters writes amazing sci-fi but has never read a word of it) but reading will help you see how a story is structured and balanced between dialogue and description; short sentences speed the pace, long passages slow it down.
  9. Join a writing group, get your work critiqued. Read your work out loud. It’s amazing what you’ll pick up when you hear it outside your head.
  10. Subscribe to writing magazines, go to workshops, literary festivals. If you really want to write immerse yourself in all things literary.

About Morgen Bailey
Host of the fortnightly Bailey’s Writing Tips audio podcast, she also belongs to three in-person writing groups (based in Northamptonshire, England) and is Chair of another which runs the annual HE Bates Short Story Competition.
You can read / download her eBooks (some free) at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with her novels to follow. Being an advocate of second-person viewpoint, she also recently had a quirky story published in the charity anthology Telling Tales.
She has a writing-related forum and you can follow her on Twitter, friend on Facebook, like her Facebook Author Page, connect on LinkedIn, find onTumblr, look at her photos on Flickr and join her every Sunday (8pm UK time) on Radio Litopia where she is a regular contributor.
Her blog aims to cover everything writing-related  - and she loves hearing from other writers and readers, who can contact her via her website’s Contact me page or email her.