Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Stopping of Summer Special

Well, the end is here. Thankyou to all who helped out, commented and visited during my month of summer madness. I hope you picked up some tips of things to do, places to see, recipes to try, authors to read and/or blogs to visit. I'd love to hear what you thought- maybe you could leave a comment or make a blog post to tell me. Hopefully this will be the beginning of more events that I'm able to hold.

Just before I leave you to go back to normal broadcasting, I bet you want to know who won what. Well, here you are:

The Winner of Bloody Jack is Mystica
The signed bookmarks were won by Sahina Bibi
The personalised magnetic bookmarks were won by Jade Walker and Janhvi Jagtap
The Winner of the Hairdresser of Harare is Mazz Nixon
And, finally, Anne was the winner of Murder in the Dark.

Congratulations to all the winners. You have been contacted by e-mail and now have 48 hours to respond.

If you didn't win this time, don't despair- you can still win with my 100 followers giveaway (see the sidebar of 'The Story Factory Reading Zone' for more details.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Writing Prompts: The Ten Dos and Donts of Airplanes Etiquette

Hosted by Mama's Losin' It!

In an attempt to kick-start my writing once more, I'm joining in with the 'Writing Prompts' meme for the first time this week. I've chosen option 5, to write about the dos and don'ts of airplane etiquette. Those of you who know me will not be surprised to know that I've written a short fiction piece for this purpose.

Buffetted in the waves, Dave began to taste the tuna that he had mistakenly consumed before boarding. In his drowsy state, he began to imagine the plane falling to meet his stomach way below them. Touching the deep below, a baby screamed out for rescue, as the water crashed against his stiffened back.

As he pulled his sticky eyelids apart, he returned to a fuzzy reality once more. "We apologize for the turbulance" announced a strangeled voice above him, "We have now descended to a lower level, and expect a clear sky for the rest of our journey".

Rising instantly after the words came the noise of a fighter plane approaching Dave's rear. Each shot rocketed his body forwards as it pelted into the small of his back. He turned as took a sly, yet pearcing glance at the child who sat engrossed in his video game. His mother, oblivious of the boy's actions, desperatly attempted to calm his young sister.

Dave sighed and, returning to his aquired position, tried to make himself just a little bit more at home. By leaning forward just an inch he was able to reach the inflight magazine. Just an inch the other direction and he was back at 45 degrees once more. Wishing he was able to lean back, Dave opened the glossy cover and began to read.

Soon he found himself on a tropical island. The sun beat down on him and, in the distance, waves lapped upon a sparkling shoreline. Dave rested his back upon a palm tree, as the birds serenaded him to sleep. A steel-band's gentle melodies assisted him to drift off into what felt like an everlasting rest. That was before they upped their tempo.

The drums began louder, deeper and suddenly gained a bass. The island disappeared, as Dave felt the air stiffle and the heat become stuffy. He put his hands over his ears and tried to curl up, but the grip of his seatbelt forced him back to reality. Dave picked up the magazine and turned the page. He sighed as he searched for another article that might bring back his sanity.

"Would you like a drink sir?" interrupted the flight attendent.
"No thanks" Dave muttered, trying to wish away the real world.
"Chicken or beef?" the attendant continued.
"Neither thanks" he replied.

Silence restored, Dave breathed once more. He was grateful he hadn't bothered with a meal when the seat ifront of him hit his knees. He was not as grateful about the gift he had received- a bruised kneecap! Stuffing the magazine onto his lap, Dave leant forwards as his seat went back. The seatbelt pulled, but finally released him to peep at the muscles of the man infront. Dave meekly leant back once more, noting how he could finally get into some sort of sleeping position. He closed his eyes and tried to return to his dreams.

He awoke suddenly to something, or someone, poking him.
"Duty free sir?" said the attendant, as the men between them looked on impatiently.
It took a little while for Dave to responded. "Ummmm, not today" he yawned, closing his eyes once more.

Dave peacefully drifted down a river, as the wind caressed his face. Either side of him, trees swayed gently in the breeze. On the river bank he spotted a family of beavers, their chewing floating across to him as they worked together to form their new home. He watched as they felled one of the tall trunks and heard the splash as it hit the waters below. It was then that the boat capsized.

It tipped back, as something landed on his stomach. Dave awoke with a start and jumped up from his seat, fighted off the tray infront even as he battled with his restraint.
"What the F****K!" he shouted
The plane turned towards him, but Dave hardly noticed as he threw the magazine from his soaked jeans onto the floor.
"Enough's enough!" he belted, as an attendent approached.
"You!", he turned on those behind, "as if the constant bawling wasn't enough, I have to put up with gun fights as well. Not to mention the kicks I've enjoyed courtesy of your overactive legs!"
"Now sir......" the attendant began.
Ignoring him, Dave turned to the front, "And you! Where did you learn to eat! Do you have some need that I have to hear what you're eating? Do you gain some enjoyment from squashing me against my seat?"
"Now sir, if you don't desist we'll be forced to have you removed....."
Dave turned on the interrupter, "Now you decide to act! I have to tolerate all these rude people and now you have the nerve to tell me to 'desist'" At this point Dave wiggled his fingers in the air, as if physically adding the speech marks around his words. "At what point were you made judge and jury?! You're just as bad, trying to force feed a man, making him spend his money on useless tat!

Dave never got to Alcapolco! As he was escorted off the plane, the man next to him passed down his bags to the attendant. The boy from behind watched, his head hanging down. As he looked up, Dave almost thought he saw a glance of apology.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Author Interview: Joanne Harris

I'm sooooo excited to be able to welcome Joanne Harris to this blog. I enjoyed reading Chocolat well before I started writing this blog. She has written 15 books so far and is still writing. Thanks to Mozette for sending her the questions.
So, without further ado, the interview:

    Please introduce yourself to our readers
I’m a 47-year-old former teacher living in Yorkshire. I have an 18-year-old daughter and a husband I met via graffiti on a school desk when I was just 16. I ‘m addicted to Haribo, Diet Coke and musical theatre.
Oh, yes - and I write a bit.

    What book do you think you are most like?
Parts of me are in all my books and all my characters. I don’t think you can write a convincing fiction unless some of it is supported by experience and emotional investment.

    What sort of books do you write?
I don’t like categorizing what I write. My books are often very different from each other. Loosely speaking, I appear under general fiction, but I’ve written crime novels, fantasy, historical, cookbooks, short stories. Most of my books have an element of suspense, and many of them focus on the senses in some way – often those of scent and taste.

    Can you tell us a bit about your favourite character from your own writing.
It’s hard to choose a favourite character when there are so many to choose from. One of my readers’ favourites is Vianne Rocher, who has appeared in two of my books so far; a mother, a traveller, a reluctant witch and of course, a maker of chocolates. I’m writing another book about her now, because I sense that her journey isn’t done.

    What books/authors have influenced your writing the most?
Ray Bradbury; Jules Verne; Victor Hugo; P.G.Wodehouse; John Mortimer; Mervyn Peake; Vladimir Nabokov.

    Tell us about the place where you write.
I used to write at home, but now I have a shed in the garden. It’s made of stone and it’s quite spare inside, with just the basics; a chair, a desk; a kettle. I don’t like distractions when I’m working, so it’s good to have somewhere to go where I know I won’t be disturbed too often.

    Do you have any techniques that you use if you get writer's block
I’m not sure I believe in writer’s block. The idea presupposes that a writer can always write whenever they feel like it. Some days I can write, others not. On the others I do something else.

    What are your top 5 tips for writing?
Read as much as you can, in as many different areas.
Pay attention to current events. Newspapers are full of ideas.
Talk to as many different kinds of people as you can. Everyone has a story.
Don’t try to copy trends. Be yourself, and be honest.
Enjoy what you do, and keep trying to improve. That in itself is already success.

Thankyou to Joanna Harris for the useful tips. I must say that I for one am very glad to hear an author saying that you don't have to write every day. You can find more tips for writing on Joanne Harris' website.

Over to you:
  What is your favourite Joanne Harris book?

 Tomorrow I'll be interviewing blogger Hilde of 'Turn of The Page' over at 'The Story Factory Reading Zone'.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Autumn Overhaul

Just a quick note to let you know that you may spot a few changes on my blogs over the next few weeks. Don't panc- nothing major's going to change, I just wanted to give the place a makeover whilst I have the chance. The main things that will be happening will be to make the blogs more similar,  so that people can (hopefully) clearly see that they're all run by the same person. I'm also hoping to make them easier to navigate.

If you have any suggestions of anything you think could make this blog better do leave  a comment. I can't promise I'll act on them all, but I certainly seriously consider them!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Author Interview:

Thanks to Mozette of My Reading List (see previous feature), I'm pleased to be able to welcome author Karen Tyrrell to the 'Summer Special'. Karen has kindly answered a few questions for us about her writing, and writing in general.

  1. Please introduce yourself to our readers
My name is Karen Tyrrell and I'm an Australian multi-genre writer with #6 completed books. Memoir. Crime. Super Space Kids series. The Rescue Kids picture book series. Three publishers are considering my books for publishing.
  1. What book do you think you are most like?
I'm a multi-layered mystery book, with intriguing interwoven sub-plots.
  1. What sort of books do you write?
I write fast-paced books which keep adult and children Readers engaged. My stories are based on my intense personal experiences.
  1. Can you tell us a bit about your favourite character from your own writing.
In my memoir, ME AND HER: a Memoir of Madness, my main character, myself, strives to comprehend the shocking cause of her mental illness and how she will recover.
  1. What books/authors have influenced your writing the most?
Jodi Picoult, Jeff Lindsay, Anita Shreve, Katherine Howell.
  1. Tell us about the place where you write.
I write in my office, gazing out to waving palm trees and the blue skies of Brisbane, Australia.
  1. Do you have any techniques that you use if you get writer's block
Keep writing every day on multi-interest writing projects, switching over when you get stuck on one. Then you can easily pick up another.
  1. What are your top 5 tips for writing?
Write every day without excuses. Write what your passionate about. Enlist in writing courses to develop the craft of writing. Join a writer's group that critiques. Turn reject letters around ... RETHINK > REWRITE > RESUBMIT.

Thanks again to Karen, it sounds like you have a beautiful place to write!

Now it's over to you: if you enjoy writing then I'd love to read your answers to my questions. You can answer one or two in the comments, or all of them on your own blog (please provide a link so that we can check them out).

Tomorrow I'll be suggesting another place to visit over at 'Living in A Time Warp', before sharing some of my breadmaking recipes on 'Music Helps The World Go Round

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Summer Sharer: A world of Writing

I guess most of you who visit this blog love writing. Well, you won't be surprised to know that so do I! Yet, I rarely find the time (and sometimes the inclination) to make a start. So, here's a chance to give yourself a reason to write. As usual, do this on your own blog or sociaal networking site and leave us a link, or simply post in the comments. There's a choice of activities today, feel free to do as many (or as few) as you want.

1. Share with us your best piece of writing so far
2. Tell us about what you've been up to this summer
3. Write a short piece of fiction entitled 'A Special Summer'

I can't wait to read your responses!

Tomorrow, check back for an interview with author Karen Tyrell

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Summer Sharer: Holiday Snaps

I'm sure many of you have been enjoying your summer holidays, either at home or by going away. Whether youve been doing some of our 'suggested activities', going to our 'places to visit', trying out our recipes, or simply doing your own thing we'd love to hear from you.

In particular, this post is about sharing our holiday photographs. Why not share some of your snaps on your blog, website, or social network profile and then leave us a link in the comments so that we can check them out. Please make sure you have the permission to post of any people featured in your pics.

Share your photos of what have you've been up to this summer

Tomorrow I'll be hosting an international giveaway over at 'Crafty Creations'

Saturday, 13 August 2011

GIVEAWAY- Assorted signed bookmarks (international)

One lucky winner will be in the for chance to win 5 signed bookmarks as follows:
  • Mocked by Destiny by Michelle Richard
  • Blind Faith by Michael Schneider
  • Pulled by Amy Lichtenhan
  • Convergence by J.D. Watts
  • Wings of Fate by T.M. Hobbs
There's some beautiful artwork on these bookmarks, and if you're a fan of any of the books (or authors) then you'll definatly want to enter. 

The rules
  • If you're under 16 then please ask parental permission before entering
  • Open internationally!
  • Closing date is 31st August 2011
  • Fill in the form to enter

I look forward to welcoming you back to 'The Story Factory Reading Zone' for another giveaway tomorrow

    Friday, 12 August 2011

    Suggested Activity 10: Do some reading

    Do some reading

    Our survey respondants said:
    My favorite form of entertainment is reading. I love reading, and spend a few hours everyday indulging in reading.

    Now, those of you that follow me over at 'The Story Factory Reading Zone' will know that reading is also one of my favourite activities. I particularly enjoy it in the summer, when I can sit outside and enjoy the sunshine, or inside in the cool with the patio doors open. I also love the fact that the holidays mean plenty more time to read.

    Over to you:
    What book(s) would you recommend for the summer?

    Pop over now to 'The Story Factory Reading Zone' to be in for a chance of winning a copy of Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer

    Friday, 5 August 2011

    Suggested Activity 5: Find somewhere different to write

    Find somewhere different to write

    'The Story Factory Reading Zone' readers say that they usually write indoors in the summer, using their laptops, at home or in their van. Personally, I prefer to write outdoors on a park bench where I can absorb the atmosphere of what's going on around me.

    I came across a reading challenge a few months ago, where you had to read in a variety of different places. It sounded like a fantastic idea and the only thing that stopped me doing it was the requirement to read in the toilet (something I didn't really fancy). The benefit? The discovery of new places and making sure that you don't just sit in one place all day. Now, apply the same to your writing. The benefit? See new places, maybe discover a new setting or two for your novel. Why not give it a try?!

    Over to you: 
    Share a photo or story about a new or unusual place where you like to write.

    Tomorrow's 'Suggested Activity' will be posted on 'Crafty Creations'

    Monday, 1 August 2011

    The Week Ahead: Week One

    Welcome to the first of 4 'Week Ahead' posts during my August 'Summer Special'. The aim of these posts is to keep you updated with what will happening each week, including any changes from the published schedule. They may also include my response to the 'It's Monday: What Are You Reading?' meme (I don't do this every week, just when I have new reading to announce).

    WEEK ONE- Welcome To The Summer!
    This week is all about getting the feel for what the 'Summer Special' is about. As well as the launch post, I'll be taking you round all my blogs as I share with you some suggested activities for the summer, one of my favourite recipes and a place to visit. The week ends with the first 'Summer Sharer' and blog feature.
    Click on the blog titles to be taken to their main pages.

    Day One-     Launch Post (all blogs)
                        The Week Ahead (all blogs)
                        Suggested Activity 1 (Music Helps The World Go Round)
    Day Two-    Suggested Activity 2 (Living in A Time Warp)
    Day Three-  Suggested Activity 3 (Crafty Creations)
                        Recipe Resort: Peach Sorbet (Blog For The Thought)
    Day Four-    Places To Visit 1 (Blog For The Thought)
                        Suggested Activity 4 (Blog For The Thought)
    Day Five-     Suggested Activity 5 (The Story Factory Writing Zone)
    Day Six-       Suggested Activity 6 (Crafty Creations)
                        Summer Sharer: Wanderer's Tales (Living in A Time Warp)
    Day Seven-  Blog Feature: My Book-Crazy Life (The Story Factory Reading Zone)

    Over to you: What does summer mean to you?

    Summer Special Starts!

    Apologies for the late start to this 'Summer Special'.
    Who knew it would take me over an hour to write this post!?

    Welcome to the first ever 'Summer Special' taking place across various blogs run by Abigail Ann (aka neeuqfonafamai).

    So, what is 'Summer Special'?
    Basically, its a change to our regular schedule where you can hang out during your summer holidays. Or, if they're already over, then you can use the opportunity to imagine them back again and begin planning for next year. Every day in August, I'll be leaving you some ideas of  things that are good to do in hot weather. They'll also be giveaways, blog features, author interview(s), recipes for you to try, and a chance for you to join in during our 'summer sharers'. That's in addition to all my usual book reviews and memes. And, at the end of each post, will be an 'over to you'- something to spark discussion in the comments, or to post about on your own blog (if you want to).
    Let me now tell you some more about the types of posts you may come across during this month:
    • The Week Ahead. At the start of each week in August, I'll be putting up a post saying what's happening that week. This will be an updated post and will include the 'It's Monday: What Are You Reading?' meme. 
    • Suggested Activity. These are posts talking about activities that myself or my blog readers like to do. They contain ideas of things that could be good to do in warm weather. 
    • Places to Visit. These are brief posts telling you about various places that could be good to go and visit. These are specific places that you might want to see if you live nearby, or to go to on holiday in the future.
    • Blog Feature. Telling you all about some of the blogs that our readers run. 
    • Giveaway. Your chance to grab a prize. Thanks to the generousity of our readers most of these are international! Plus, I'll be adding a surprise giveaway if the followers of 'The Story Factory Reading Zone' hit 100 followers during this event!
    • Author Interview. Your chance to find out more about an author that may be new to you. 
    • Blogger Interview. Your chance to learn more about a fellow blogger.
    • Summer Sharer. Essentially a series of one-off memes, these posts are your opportunity to join in by sharing your photos, summer exploits, or writing. Let us know what you're up to this summer on your own blog, or via the comments.
    • Recipe Resort. I'll be sharing some recipes that I've found to be good for the summer.

    Enough of the posts, where do I find them?
    They'll be spread across my blogs. But don't worry, they won't be hard to find as each day I'll leave a note for you of where you can find the next post. Plus, there's a list below of what will be happening when and where, which I'll leave (and update as necessary) on the new 'Summer Special' page of each of my blogs.
    Just to make sure you don't miss anything, here's a list of the blogs participating:

    The Schedule
    These are the posts that I've already got planned for the 'Summer Special' event. Also, look out for all my usual posts, as well as the possible additional giveaway or interview.

    WEEK ONE- Welcome To The Summer!
    Day One-     Launch Post (all blogs)
                        The Week Ahead (all blogs)
                        Suggested Activity 1 (Music Helps The World Go Round)
    Day Two-    Suggested Activity 2 (Living in A Time Warp)
    Day Three-  Suggested Activity 3 (Craft Creations)
                        Recipe Resort: Peach Sorbet (Blog For The Thought)
    Day Four-    Places To Visit 1 (Blog For The Thought)
                        Suggested Activity 4 (Blog For The Thought)
    Day Five-     Suggested Activity 5 (The Story Factory Writing Zone)
    Day Six-       Suggested Activity 6 (Craft Creations)
                        Summer Sharer: Wanderer's Tales (Living in A Time Warp)
    Day Seven-  Blog Feature: My Book-Crazy Life (The Story Factory Reading Zone)

    WEEK TWO- Giveaways Galore!
    Day Eight-   The Week Ahead (all blogs)
                        Suggested Activity 7 (The Story Factory Reading Zone)
                        Summer Sharer: Recipe Resort (Cradt Creation)
    Day Nine-    Suggested Activity 8 (Music Helps The World Go Round)
    Day Ten-      Places To Visit 2 (Living in A Time Warp)
    Day Eleven-  Suggested Activity 9 (Blog For The Thought)
    Day Twelve- Suggested Activity 10 (The Story Factory Writing Zone)
                         Giveaway 1: Bloody Jack (The Story Factory Reading Zone)
                         Blog Feature: Ann's Reading Corner (The Story Factory Reading Zone)
    Day Thirteen-Suggested Activity 11 (The Story Factory Reading Zone)
                         Giveaway 2: Assorted Signed Bookmarks (The Story Factory Writing Zone)
    Day Fourteen-Giveaway 3: The Hairdresser of Harare (The Story Factory Reading Zone)

    WEEK THREE- Sharing the Summer
    Day Fifteen-  The Week Ahead (all blogs)
                         Suggested Activity 12 (Music Helps The World Go Round)
    Day Sixteen- Places To Visit 3 (Living in A Time Warp)
    Day Seventeen- Suggested Activity 13 (Crafty Creations)
                         Summer Sharer: Crafty Capers (Crafty Creations)
    Day Eighteen-Suggested Activity 14 (Blog For The Thought)
                          Recipe Resort: Beetroot Cake (Living In A Time Warp)
    Day Nineteen-Suggested Activity 15 (The Story Factory Reading Zone)
    Day Twenty-  Suggested Activity 16 (Living In A Time Warp)
                          Summer Sharer: Holiday Snaps (The Story Factory Writing Zone)
    Day Twenty-One- Giveaway 6: Magnetic Bookmarks (Crafty Creations)

    WEEK FOUR- Writing and Reading the World
    Day Twenty-Two-   The Week Ahead (all blogs)
                                   Places To Visit 4 (Living In A Time Warp)
    Day Twenty-Three- Suggested Activity 17 (Crafty Creations)
    Day Twenty-Four-   Suggested Activity 18 (The Story Factory Reading Zone)
                                   Summer Sharer: A World of Writing (The Story Factory Writing Zone)
    Day Twenty-Five-   Author Interview: Karen Tyrrell (The Story Factory Writing Zone)
    Day Twenty-Six-     Places To Visit 5 (Living in A Time Warp)
                                   Recipe Resort: Bread-maker's Bread (Music Helps The World Go Round)
    Day Twenty-Seven- Suggested Activity 19 (Music Helps The World Go Round)
    Day Twenty-Eight-  Blogger Interview: Hilde (The Story Factory Reading Zone)

    WEEK FIVE- Reaching the End
    Day Twenty-Nine-  The Week Ahead (all blogs)
                                   Giveaway 7: Murder in the Dark (The Story Factory Reading Zone)
    Day Thirty-              Places To Visit 6 (Living in A Time Warp)
    Day Thirty-One-      Wrapping Up The Summer (all blogs)

    I hope you'll be able to join us for some summer fun this month!
    If you want to be certain not to miss anything, please consider following one (or all) of the blogs

    Over to you: What are your plans for August?