Mastodon The Writing Desk: October 2013

31 October 2013

Book Launch ~ TETHERED by Brandi Leigh Hall @BrandiLeighHall

What if the life you were born into, was never really yours to begin with?

I’ve never felt normal in my own skin. Like an oversized pair of UGG boots, nothing about my life fits the way it should. At least, not the way I’d like it to. I was born a Witch, with an ability I despise. And I’d do anything to give it back. But how do you return a “gift” that came with no card? I learned long ago—visions are one thing—you can never send back. 

For six years, I’ve been an in-the-closet Seer, desperate to escape the murderous vision that ruined my childhood, and the Wiccan family I tore apart in the process. But I can no longer deny who I am. 

Something terrible awaits those I love. Something big. 

I’ve only seen bits and pieces, but I know I’m meant to move back home to save them. And who’s the tall, dark and delicious mystery guy in this vision with my family? He kisses me with more tenderness than I’ve ever known, yet I can’t tell how he makes me feel. Are we in love, or is it just a physical thing? 

All I know is, I have to meet him. And I have to protect my family. 

No more hiding from the truth. The time has come to face the ones I left behind. It’s time my visions of the future—go head-on—with the demons from my past.

Tethered is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

About the Author

Brandi lives in central Pennsylvania where she spends most of her time attached to her laptops, reading books and watching TV for motivation. Growing up in a haunted house inspired Brandi’s fascination with the paranormal, so it only made sense that she’d write Urban Fantasy books for both teens and adults.  In addition to the BirthRight Novels, she also has four additional adventures she’ll be writing over the next few years, so stay-tuned.

and on Facebook and Twitter

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21 October 2013

Book Review ~ The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory

The story of Anne Neville is a thread that connects the key players in the Wars of the Roses. Yet as Philippa Gregory points out, it is a story that has never really been told - until now. I enjoyed seeing events through Anne's eyes, although the first-person narrative was sometimes stilted and unconvincing. Reading The Kingmaker's Daughter I realised the real heroine of this story is Isobel, Anne's older sister, who seems to cope with much greater hardship. I would like to also see her story told. 

Richard the Third is always reminding people that his motto is "Loyaulte me lie" (loyalty binds me) and gets a lot more sensitive treatment than Anne's parents, who come across as hard and uncaring. On balance, this is a readable book that succeeds in shining the spotlight on the life of a truly important woman  - who was barely mentioned in history lessons when I was at school.     

The Kingmaker's Daughter is available on
Amazon US and Amazon UK

20 October 2013

Guest Post ~ Ywnwab! A Ten Act story about some writing experiences by Alexander Kreator

On 1 June 2010 the Allrighters set out to write 1,000,000 words for publishing from 2014 in books of about 60,000 words each. They are also writing 200,000 words of short stories. The whole project is their Dragoness.  The 920,000 draft word mark was passed on the 4 October 2013 so the Dragoness has reached her late teens with the usual problems of this age. Editing and re- structuring of all these draft words is in progress. 

Ywnwab! Autumn Story-book is the Allrighters’ first book made up of 30 poems and short stories by ten authors.  The title Ywnwab! came about in July 2010 when a long standing friend responded to news of the intention to write books with a challenge, “You will never write a book!” This then became the greatest spur to do so. The acronym – Ywnwab! pronounced Win - wab has been used as there could not really be another title for the book after accepting the challenge. 

The opening part of Ywnwab! sets out the reasons for the book and the origin of the Allrighters.  In the second and third parts the thirty contributions cover a wide variety of subjects based on fact and fiction with an icing of fantasy. Five guest writers describe how they started to write followed by a story or extract from their books. Another five stories are extracts from the proposed long books while others cover travel, interesting visits to gardens and buildings, observations on life, amusing stories about day to day events and writing. 

Writers who are about to publish or who have already published are invited to contribute short stories to future similar books. For further details and to follow progress in the mammoth writing task the Allrighters have set themselves see their web site. 

Ywnwab! is available from York Publishing Services Bookshop online - as preferred supplier of hard copy and epub
and also Amazon UK  and Amazon US

Dream 2010 to Ywnwab! in 2013

Or the end of the beginning of our writing in ten shades of colour  - a Ten Act story about some writing experiences from start to publishing and going on sale.

Douglas – a dreamer and his fantasy twin brother Alexander.
Isobel – a doubting or encouraging friend.
Henry, Henrietta, Florence and Alexander (again) - the fiction and fantasy Allrighters.
Moriati – his Doctor.
Duncan – his publisher.

Act One France 800 metres - Too high for sound sleep

Douglas had taken well of the red wine. The evening thunder had drifted towards the snow covered mountains to the east.
In the pitch black night without street lights he did not stay awake for long.

Scene One – In vivid dream colours 

The Sun shone on the warm balmy day. His frail parents and sister were enjoying their lunch by the blue lake. Douglas heard dragons’ hooves and looked south to see a mounted Queen and King, identified by crowns on their heads, galloping towards where they sat.

Alarm arose in Douglas’ heart as they stopped, their blue-and-gold dragons snorting fire while his eyes were out on storks gawping at the naked Queen’s quadruple breasts. He heard the King say, “no,” to no effect … his eyes had little time to linger as the Queen’s finger pointed at his parents and woof they turned to ash … her finger turned towards him and his sister as they ran for their lives.

“They should not have threatened my life when they did!” she screeched … a flash of lightning signified the loss of his sister and Douglas waited for the finger of death to strike him down …

Scene Two - In the dark 3.00 am

Douglas woke his pyjamas plastered to his wet cold body as he shivered in fear. His hand slowly moved in the dark towards a warm still slumbering form beside him and he relaxed.

He found sleep impossible and waited until dawn thinking about all the things his parents might have done in their lives to incur the wrath of a naked Queen on dragon back. He would have to write this story down.

The actual story in his dream, like his life he tried to write as a biography, was much less exiting. What had caused The Threat from something his innocent parents had done?

Douglas started to write at dawn on 1 June 2010 and has not stopped since writing on average at least 750 words a day. Frederick his main character paced the floor as he usually did when worried. Martin’s report about the French family being murdered meant he and his family might be next in line. By July Frederick became Henry and by Christmas his cousin Henrietta had joined him …1199 days later after writing over 900,000 words, towards a 1,000,000 word target, a first printed story-book, Ywnwab! arrived on his doorstep by white van man. Not by magic this time! Hard work. If you think writing and publishing will take you so many days then double the time for an actual, if not more. Douglas often wonders why he carries on writing … perhaps a drug … certainly his million words is a Dragoness.

Act Two – Challenge in blue

A month later July 2010

Douglas explained to his long standing friend Isobel about his intention to write a book and a million words.

“Impossible,” pausing …

“YOU” … smiling …

”You will never write a book!” – Ywnwab!

Challenge made and accepted. First title - there could be no other.

Act three – Vanity in purple and thanks to Mick

August 2010

“Your book sounds lovely and will sell thousands we will make sure of that … all you have to do is pay us a small amount now … and a little more later.”

Douglas could not understand how the lovely sounding lady from the vanity publisher in America could make the statement when she had not even seen any of his draft writing.

All sounded too good to be true…

Along came a gallant knight Mick Rooney advising writers about vanity and self publishing so plucking Douglas from a crevasse …

Act Four – Rejection in green and thanks to Helen

Douglas’ ever supportive daughter gave him a book about “How to Write a Blockbuster.” Douglas as always decided to start writing and learn by doing. His wife said to his friends “Douglas, like Frank, always does things in his own way so why be surprised.”

He did read the chapter on the traditional publishing route. While working he had experience of too many people, he had little respect for, telling him what he must do. Times did not appear to have changed. He had little appetite for rejection either.

Act Five – Meeting Authors in brown who made a difference

Stephen King meeting

Douglas “I found your book ‘On Writing’ really good.

Stephen “I seem to have helped many authors”

“I also liked your story and film Shawshank Redemption with its tremendous ending.”

Douglas also wanted to say - why are your books so long and why do you manage to say so well in two pages what everyone else says in two sentences? Only joking!

John Braine has written a similar book. Writing a Novel.

“John, I really liked Joe Lampton and found my love of writing in the first person here …memories also flooded back about the Treasurer’s Office.”

“Ha, my source would have been in the libraries dept where I worked for a time.”

Act Six - What to write? A coward in yellow.

All the business reports Douglas had written while at work seemed like good fiction now. His biography too dull … some relation’s lives maybe more spicy, but how could he see into their lives and bedrooms of 70 years ago?

“Find out what your readers want to read.”

Catch 22, chickens and eggs came to mind.

Douglas decided to write what he wanted to write. If others want to read it then fine otherwise Plan A - all the million words can sit on a shelf as a job well done. However, Plan B - the publishing monkey is still there.

Act Seven - Making a start and editing - blue words abound.

Ethel came in from the writing class and had not written much. Trouble with starting - like his old Ford Cortina on a foggy day.

“You must show not tell!”

The more Douglas heard this remark the more he wanted to throttle someone, but not Ethel as he quite liked her. He recalled the best selling author who admitted taking drugs and slipped something into her tea.

Ethel phoned him last week – “I have made a start 4,500 words.”

“Well done - whoopie – like Goethe that’s all you have to do!”


“Make sure you back up everything you write electronically and in hard copy as if you lose it no one can read it.” Life will otherwise be blue.

Another new writer said to Douglas “ My editor seems to want to turn my book and ideas into her book.” Douglas laughed. “Select your editor carefully.”

Act Eight - Self Publishing a green way to one’s own summit.

Douglas toured and contacted self publishers. Some did not respond, others did and said they would keep in touch, and did not - business must be too good. Others showed examples of badly printed books with poor covers.

One even purchased one of Douglas’ old cars.

Mick Rooney again came as a gallant knight with his self publishing book and web site with a league table of those in the market place.

Duncan Beal of York Publishing Services showed continued interest and Douglas liked examples of their high quality finished products printed on their own premises. YPS printed Ywnwab! on time to a high standard and put all up for sale in hard and e formats.

Act Nine - Allrighters created in May 2013 on a grey stormy day.

The lightning lit up the room dark from reflection back from the heavy grey clouds outside.

Everyone started to count one, two, three, CRASH the thunder cracked and rumbled around the bay less than three miles away towards Swansea.

Alexander grinned.

More heavy thunder rolled around as we sat together. I felt the ghost of Aunt Florence, saw Henry and Henrietta holding hands - anything further all forbidden of course, and heard Alexander giggling the cause of my problems. Dr Moriati, Leonid and Rebecca sat heads down in shame. 

“Why should you get all the praise when we as your characters make the books what they are?” Alexander said, grinning as usual.

‘Yes, I thought, and all I get is the rejections and the emotional upset of dealing with you lot!’

“Off you go all of you ... and I will write my book on ocean sailing and catch up with my reading.”

In my dreams Kathrynne in her bright-red shoes came to me and held me in her arms. She is having a rare warm day. Perhaps life is not so bad after all!

Of course the following day they came back to me. They realised they were not living in the Elizabethan Trimefrayme and would need me to market their books after I had prepared them for printing as well.

Act Ten - First book published and a few sold through rose coloured …

They all lived happily ever after – a nice idea.

Some after thoughts on 1199 days of writing.

Douglas found :-

The creative writing came easily. All the editing, processing, publishing, distribution and selling a necessary, but not always a welcome or enjoyable time overhead.

Too many people telling him whatever he did is not being done the right away.

Those in the business assume you know, what they know, about what comes next and what has to be done. Communications and learning are hard. Like the car maintenance manual it is the obvious next step to others which is often missing.

Information overload from ideas, web publications and other writing sources.

The END in black or deep in red if expressed in costs and time incurred.

Further Plays in the green grass next door.

Coming next

“Marketing and selling are the hardest parts”

Finding your readers!
Writing what your readers want!
Creating a web presence and following.
Getting people to open their wallets to buy YOUR book
when they have lots of choice especially the safety of well known authors!

Other short story-books are in preparation. Please join in with contributions for consideration for inclusion in these future books. International contributions especially welcome.

What do you have to do?

Ask to join the Allrighters below as an associate or guest in an e mail to

Fantasy fiction writers Henry Cross, his cousin Henrietta and his dead Aunt Florence who’s dream dairies are being used to complete more interesting and enjoyable stories and books.

Guest writers Angela, Calvin, Katharine, Monica and Nick have written 250 words or so on how they started writing and then included an extract of c 1000 words from their published or near published work

Many associates who will write a page or two have already signed up.

Read more and subscribe for email updates on 

Alexander Kreator aka Douglas

19 October 2013

Book Review ~ Lancaster and York by Alison Weir

There are three main problems for any historian trying to tell the story of the Wars of the Roses. Firstly, where to start in the complex set of social and political circumstances that led to the conflict. Secondly, how to separate the web of myths, half-truths and legends from the historical facts and thirdly there are the significantly differing historical accounts to be reconciled.  Alison Weir has produced a very readable  narrative that deals comfortably with all these problems.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book then immediately started all over again at page one, this time more slowly, just in case I’d missed something.  As well as covering the whole story from the roots of the families of Lancaster and York (with two hundred pages of background and ‘scene setting’ there are plenty of fascinating footnotes to history. Somehow it had escaped my notice that Henry V’s effigy in Westminster Abbey had its silver head stolen in the time of Henry VIII – and it was only replaced in 1971! (See this clipping)  Another thing I missed was that Richard of York was the first and only one of the Plantagenets to actually use the name.  Even for non-historians, this book is a real page turner that proves that, of course, truth really is stranger than fiction.

Lancaster and York is on Amazon UK and Amazon US  

14 October 2013

Book Launch ~ An Unlikely Goddess by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar @moha_doha

Winner of the SheWrites New Novelist competition 2011 

Sita is the firstborn, but since she is a female child, her birth makes life difficult for her mother who is expected to produce a son. From the start, Sita finds herself in a culture hostile to her, but her irrepressible personality won’t be subdued. Born in India, she immigrants as a toddler to the U.S. with her parents after the birth of her much anticipated younger brother. 

Sita shifts between the vastly different worlds of her WASP dominated school and her father’s insular traditional home. Her journey takes us beneath tales of successful middle class Indians who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980s. 

The gap between positive stereotypes of South Asian immigrants and the reality of Sita's family, who are struggling to stay above the poverty line is a relatively new theme for Indian literature in English. 

Sita's struggles to be American and yet herself, take us deeper into understanding the dilemmas of first generation children, and how religion and culture define women. 

New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

About the Author

Mohana Rajakumar has lived in Qatar since 2005. She has published six  e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace. From Dunes to Dior, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Her second novel is set in Qatar which explores if this generation of people believe that Love Comes Later. Mohana has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. She was a winner of the She Writes We Love New Novelists competition. Catch up on her latest via her blog or follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.

13 October 2013

Back to basics – writing with a pen

I’ve just returned from two weeks in southern Spain where I stayed in a villa with no internet. I left my laptop at home but soon invested in a spiral bound A4 lined pad and a Pilot ‘super grip’ pen to capture those ideas for my current work in progress. Although I spent a lot of time developing the plot and characters for my first novel on paper, I’ve always relied on my laptop for writing and have come to take wireless broadband for granted. I decided to ‘free write’ some pages every day on holiday, early in the morning before the others were even out of bed. I’d forgotten how much easier it is to just write when you can’t keep revising as you go along. On the laptop I tend to keep moving things around, editing as I write, even though I know it interrupts the flow and should be done later. There is now the task of typing in twenty odd pages of handwritten notes but it was worth it. I’ve always thought the technology helps – and it does but it’s good to go back to basics one in a while.  What do you think?