Tag! You’re an Author and You’re “It”

December 17, 2012

You know this game, but you may never have played it this way: Tag! You’re the author who’s “It” so you have to play the game by sharing your Work in Progress (WIP) or it’s straight to bed without supper for you. Alexandria Szeman tagged me, and these are the rules:

  • Give credit (including the URL/link) to the person or blog that caught you when you were frantically trying to run away, slugged you on the arm, and thus made you “It”
  • Play by the rules – no pinching, kicking, crying, spitting, or throwing tantrums – which includes posting the rules
  • Answer ten questions about your current WIP, no matter the genre, because maybe we’d like to get to know you better (actually it’s only 9 questions as far as I can tell, since the 10th “question” is the next step)
  • List five other authors or bloggers, with their hiding places (URL/links), so we can chase them down and make them “It” so the rest of us who are done playing can go in,  eat our supper, and check out their other books.

1. What is the title (or working title) of your WIP book?

Endless Possibilities

2. What genre(s) does your book fall under (or brush up against)?

Contemporary-gaming-geeky-love-Story (and if that isn’t a Genre – it is now).

3. Which actors would you choose to play the characters in the film version of your book? (should you ever get it optioned and actually get lucky enough to have principal photography started, the film made and distributed… well, you get the idea…)

I have no idea, there’s an awful lot of “me” in the lead character and therefore to suggest an actor to play me, might come across as slightly egotistical. The lead female, who confusingly you don’t actually meet “in person” until over halfway through the book is an amalgamation of two of my friends and a young Swedish MEP and therefore she could be played by… actually, I have no idea… I really should have thought about this shouldn’t I?

4. What is the one-sentence Pitch for your book?

A young man hides from his complicated real-world issues inside an online world which promises a huge reward to anybody who can beat the game’s designer but when he meets a girl and finds himself falling in love it turns out the real-world and his gaming world are more intertwined than he could ever imagine. [That’s a terrible sentence – far too long – it should be edited down – see – the whole novel, I fear, is like that at the beginning!]

5. Will your book be Indie published, self-published, or represented by an agency and sold to a traditional publisher?

I genuinely think the way I have written it would scare the be-jeezus out of any traditional publisher and they wouldn’t know what to do with it. I always thought it would be eBook only, again, because of the way I’ve written it.

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Forever. Embarrassingly. It took me two years to write the first 15,000 words, another year to write the next 80,000 and then, after another year gap, only two months to write the last 50,000 words. If you do the maths you will see that I got carried away and wrote a stupidly big first novel. I also became (I think/hope) a much better writer during that year gap. So I’m dreading the mega edit this book now needs – that’s why I’m doing things like writing this blog instead…

7. What other books in this genre would you compare yours to?

See Point 2 – I don’t think there is a genre for this – if somebody can identify some other Geeky boy-equivalent-of-chic-lit let me know, I’d like to read some!

8. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

They say – write what you know – I have a past that involves various Sci-Fi and comic conventions and online gaming, some things happened, other things I heard, other things I extrapolated. In the end though, I wrote a book I wanted to read.

9. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I’ve hopefully designed the book to be read in 3 minute chunks – so you can read it between Tube stops (this might not make sense to non-UK residents). I also spent quite a lot of time designing the game which underpins, and is interwoven into, the story, because I don’t want any of the geeks out there to say “On page X you say dragons have the following abilities, but on Page Y, a dragon does this…” because those things really bug me too! (hence the need for a mega edit!)

10. Thank god, I’ve finally run fast enough to catch five other authors (and any who don’t have a blog of their own to answer these questions are welcome to do a guest post on mine):

I’m going to cheat – I want the rest of WordWatchers to stop having excuses to not write a blog and to do this one…

 

Rocket Scientist

John

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The WordWatchers VERY short story competition

December 8, 2012

WordWatchers holds two short story competitions a year, nominally one in the summer and one in the winter. Generally, we pick a theme (or if there’s a competition out in the “Real World” we’ll align with that), give ourselves a month to write the story, a month to score and critique them and then we generally have a little party and announce the winners. We also have a good laugh at how bad we generally all are at guessing which of us wrote what story.

However, this winter what was clear was that we were in great danger of not having a short story competition! Unthinkable, but true. So, it was decided that we would have a very very short story competition instead, based on the format found on the Paragraph Planet website. We decided we could cope with that because even if everybody entered there would only be 750 words to read.

We were also very fortunate to persuade Richard Hearn who runs Paragraph Planet to act as an external judge. This wouldn’t affect our own “internal” scoring but it would be interesting to get the input from somebody who has to pick a new paragraph every day. Richard also wrote us a very nice little blurb (which is included verbatim within this post) about the competition and, to our delight, he also offered to run his favourite three on the Paragraph Planet site.

What Richard had to say was:

Thank you to WordWatchers for inviting me to judge their annual writing competition, and I’m touched that the competition has been inspired by Paragraph Planet. (The word count means I’m also very much in my comfort zone!)

 

I’ve been impressed by the strength of your entries and have genuinely struggled to whittle the entries down to a top 3. It’s always going to be a subjective decision, especially when all the authors have really got to grips with the demands of the format. I myself keep changing my mind, and I am sure others will have their own, different, favourites. However, a judge cannot reserve judgement forever.

 

Before announcing the winners, I thought I’d reflect on what makes a good piece of flash fiction. What do I look for?

 

I look for 75 words that work. They somehow need to be working together, towards the same goal. That goal is different for each submission – it might be a mood piece, a mini story, a comedic moment, or, probably the most popular when done right, a twist-in-the-tale – but somehow it’s about all the words working together consistently to achieve their own aim. (Scratch that. ‘Consistently’ sounds too dull. It’s often the jarring word that makes the paragraph. Let‘s just say, the paragraph has to work as a whole in a specific, original, and unexpected way.)

 

I think all the entries from WordWatchers members were successful, but these final three are the ones that I felt stayed with me just that little bit more after reading. It was a close run thing but my top three will go on – in reverse order – on Sunday 2nd, Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th December.”

 

So on Sunday 2nd, Richard published Abbie Todd’s entry:

On Monday 3rd, Richard published Debbie Smith’s entry:

And on Tuesday 4th, Richard published his winner, the story by Julian Dobbins:

What’s interesting is that this is quite different from WordWatchers own results announced at our Christmas Party last night (7th).

Our own results were as follows:

Joint 3rd: Julian Dobbins and John Hoggard

2nd: Abbie Todd

1st: Mel Gerdes

As you have seen Abbie and Julian’s stories already, John and Mel’s stories are reproduced below.

John Hoggard’s story:

Poor old Douglas flinched as the squawking voice of his ancient mother, upstairs in her bed, penetrated his thoughts. He poured the boiling water into the teapot and arranged the buttered toast neatly on the plate. He then laid out her vast array of pills, once again swapping her heart tablets for the identical looking ones prescribed to her festering cat. He didn’t know if the exchange was having an effect, but he hoped so.”

And Mel’s winning (as far as WordWatchers is concerned) entry:

It wouldn’t have happened if he’d made that one call home. We had an agreement you see, he’d call to let me know he’d arrived safely. But he got drunk and forgot so I spent the night awake, fearing the worst. When he finally walked through the door I lost it – grabbed the nearest pan and walloped him. The trouble was it was Le Creuset. Out stone cold. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to buy quality…”

 

It will certainly be interesting to discuss with Richard why we had such differing results (although it could be argued that two stories both featured in the top 3 of both decisions).

WordWatchers would once again like to thank Richard at Paragraph Planet for his time and expertise.

Merry Christmas

John H

Rocket Scientist

John Hoggard ex-Rocket Scientist

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