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Creative Writing

The Year of the NaNo Rebel

nanowrimoThat time of year is approaching, and I’ll be doing things a little differently this time.  We’re less than two weeks away from November, and that means late nights, comfort food hauls and playlists on repeat – yes, that’s right, it is NaNoWriMo once again.

Last year, drowning in character profiles and years of notes, I managed to write just over 20,000 words towards my novel, which at the time was titled The Soul Market.  The experience helped me an awful lot with my writing – it was this 20k that made me realise what was lacking from the story all along, and not long after I decided to start taking my writing a little more seriously.  Almost a year on, I have a completed first draft, and have made great progress with editing!

So, not wanting to miss out on all the NaNoWriMo fun, I’ve decided to join this year as a NaNo Rebel.  According to Wikiwrimo, a NaNo Rebel is:

a NaNoWriMo participant who chooses to write something besides a novel of at least 50,000 words

The term covers all sorts of writing projects, from non-fiction texts to blogging!  But I’ll be using the month to finish up editing, and hopefully have a completed novel I’m proud of by the end of November.

The end is in sight, and who knows – by NaNoWriMo 2017, I might be ready to start a whole new novel!

Who else is doing NaNoWriMo this year?

Happy writing!


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October 20, 2016

August’s Flash Fiction Theme

The Flash Fiction Competition is back!  After a long hiatus, the rules have changed slightly – the competition now runs just three times a year (April, August and December), but you’ll now have a whole 25 days to submit your entry.

August’s theme is…


The rules:

  • Write a piece of flash fiction up to 500 words, linking in the theme somehow (it is up to you how you decide to do this)
  • There is no entry fee for the rest of 2016, but you will need to submit your story before the deadline: 25th August, Midnight (GMT)
  • The winner will be announced in early September and will receive a £10 Amazon voucher

Please read the Terms and Conditions before submitting your entry, which can be found here.

If you’ve got any questions, you can get in touch by commenting below or emailing:

Happy writing!


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August 1, 2016

The Evening of Experimental Writing Prompts: Story Cubes

Years ago, my sister was gifted two boxes of Story Cubes, and I’ve only just managed to “borrow” (steal) them for playing with.  She has the original Story Cubes set (black cubes) and the Actions set (blue cubes).

There are lots of different ways of playing with the cubes (including with multiple players), but I’ve chosen the very basic version of the game: three cubes each for the beginning, middle and end of the story.

So, let’s play!

I merged both sets and rolled the dice one at a time.  This is the order they appeared in (starting at the top, left to right):

The point of Story Cubes is that there is no one definition for each image – they are to be interpreted freely.  Bearing that in mind, here’s my response to the cubes (I’ve highlighted the words that tie in with the pictures):

The boy peered into the room, unable to hide the concern on his face.  His sister was working out again.  Kyle should have been thrilled; their father had been nagging for years for her to get fit, and all of a sudden, overnight almost, Daisy had joined the gym and changed her eating habits.  Lifting weights in the spare room was the latest addition to her new rigorous timetable.  Their father was pleased, of course, and was quick to brush off any worries he had expressed, but Kyle knew his sister better than that.  Shaking his head, he backed quietly out the room and closed the door behind him.

Kyle had sensed a change in his sister – a change beyond her sudden enthusiasm for keep-fit – but he just couldn’t put his finger on the root of it.  The next day, while Daisy was at work, he crept into her bedroom, searching for clues.  Being the younger brother, even though he was now a man, most of his experiences of being in Daisy’s room were her screaming at him to get out.  This feeling stayed with him as he glanced around for information, his guilty conscience making him feel like a tresspasser.  He looked over her dressing table, scanned her desk and finally thought to check under her bed before leaving.  As he crouched down, not expecting to find anything, a small blue box caught his eye.  Cautiously, as though it might contain explosives, he reached into the shadows beneath the bed frame and pulled the box out into the light.  It seemed to fit neatly into the palm of his hand, and he knew what it contained before he even prised it over, the sparkling jewel a confirmation of his fears.  He was alarmed at the discovery of the small box, and sadness washed over him.  He understood it now – Daisy’s strange mood, her anxiety over her weight.  It had been barely twelve months since that tragic day; their father was still mourning the loss, and Kyle could see how his sister’s secrecy had been to protect him.  He knew she’d want to wear their mother’s wedding dress for her special day, but even announcing the engagement would be a big step for the family.  Still, Kyle was surprised by all this.  He’d just figured they’d all cross that bridge when they got to it; he never thought it would affect her this much.

That evening, Kyle had managed to persuade a reluctant Daisy to accompany him to the supermarket.  He needed to get her out of the house; perhaps a change of environment would encourage her to open up to him.

“Talk to me,” Kyle said, when her silence became too much for him.  He reached out to touch her shoulder but she flinched away.  She dropped some apples into the trolley, avoiding his gaze, turning back to the fruit on display so he couldn’t see her expression.  Kyle sighed, continuing to push the trolley up the aisle.  

“I can’t force you,” he added, “but I’ll be here when you are ready to talk.”  Hearing these words, Daisy’s face creased and she finally began to cry.  Kyle glanced nervously at a couple who looked over with quiet concern, but he shook his head at them and waved them off.  Then, he wrapped his arms around Daisy and held her tightly, hoping she couldn’t feel his heart breaking in his chest.

Phew, that was a nerve-racking experience!  I really felt my imagination was challenged, particularly having those two action cubes together at the beginning.  In some ways I felt the cubes were restrictive, as at times I wanted to elaborate much more on certain points, but always felt that I was keeping my eye on the next cube at all times.  In terms of inspiring a story, it was a huge success – even if I had used the cubes loosely as a starting point, I was amazed at how easy it was to build a plot from a few pictures!

For anyone wanting more information on Story Cubes, check out their website.  They are also available to buy on The Book Depository (link leads to the Original set: the black cubes in the photo above).

What story would you have made from these cubes?  Comment below!


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February 18, 2016

One Word

One Word

Don’t think.  Just write.

I stumbled upon this great little writing prompt website the other day.  It is a fun way of warming up before a writing session, and takes literally a minute of your day.  The aim of the site is to inspire, even with simple words (the word was ‘club’ last time I checked, though it changes daily).

From the homepage, simply click ‘go’, and up will pop one word and an empty text box.  You have sixty seconds to write about the word before being able to submit your response.

You can also view other people’s submissions from the day, which is fun to do.  It’s always interesting to see how people interpret words and are inspired in different ways (something I’ve always liked about the Flash Fiction Competition).

Try it out here.

Happy writing!


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February 15, 2016

Start Where You Are

On the eleventh day of Bookmas…

start where you are

Those who have seen my shelves at home will know that I love keeping journals.  I kept a diary when I was in primary school, and have dabbled in all sorts of different journals since then – from scrapbooks and Smashbooks to my current journal (a positive-thinking book full of quotes, published by Knock Knock, link here to those who are interested).

My shelves are sagging under the weight of all my notebooks and journals from over the years!

For Christmas I was gifted Start Where You Are, a self-exploration book by artist Meera Lee Patel.  It is a book about finding out who you are, through writing and drawing prompts, although the pages are so beautiful that I can barely bring myself to taint them with my scribbles!  Each page has a thought-provoking quote, illustrated by Meera in watercolour.

My plan is to work through the book throughout 2016, though it is just as likely I will cut out all the quotes and frame them!

start where you are pageI highly recommend checking out Meera’s blog on her website, which offers an insight into her work, and lots of beautiful photos of her life and art.

I personally think that journals have made a huge comeback over the last few years, and there seems to be huge selections of normal and creative journals in most bookshops I visit. Do you keep a journal? Has reflecting on life with pen and paper (and sometimes scissors and glue and glitter!) become fashionable again, or does the blogging world reign supreme?

Start Where You Are is available to buy at The Book Depository.


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January 4, 2016

Flash Fiction Winner: ‘The Gift’

December’s winner of the Flash Fiction Competition is Nicky – congratulations!  Her interpretation of December’s theme, ‘the gift’, was thought to be interesting and original, and was achieved in only 100 words!

Read her winning entry below:

You ok in there? Been a long time since I had any sign from you. Must be getting cramped now. Thinking about being reunited on the outside causes a rush of hot blood to flow across my chest. Can’t wait to feel you on my skin, hold you in my arms, smell you. Our bond is like no other. You’ll take away the pain of those who didn’t make it out. We’ve come this far together. You’re a keeper, I’m sure. I curl up under the sheets, as far as my ballooning stomach allows. Not long now, baby, not long.

The Flash Fiction Competition is returning on Monday 1st August 2016.  Check the Flash Fiction page for more information, including previous months’ themes!


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December 16, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: The End is Nigh

nanowrimoI have no excuse as to why I am behind on my word count. I could probably say something about how I’ve had a cold, or have been redecorating the house or Christmas shopping, but those things have only made up about 50% of my leisure time. As of right now, my word count is 18,983 – I’m not even halfway towards my target! The truth is that I don’t think strict word count deadlines are for me, and I’m OK with that. I have managed years of getting essays in on time and on the word count, but when the words rely on the fictional world I have created in my head, it seems a lot more challenging.

Nevertheless, I’ve learnt a few lessons about my story this November. So even though I may only reach 25k by the 30th, I’m still going to consider NaNoWriMo a success.

Firstly, I have discovered that I write my best material at night. I had a wonderful evening last week when I said to O, “I’m going to do a late night to boost my word count – will you join me?” So, after stocking up on writing nibbles (Toblerone, cheese savouries and Pringles), we set up for the long haul. O doesn’t actually write, but he played Dragon Age, which offered a good musical backdrop to my fantasy novel! I wrote over 4,000 words that evening, and finished the first half of my novel by about 2am. I’ve been working on my novel for years, rewriting and rewriting the opening chapters , and to have a completed first half felt amazing.

I also realised that even if I had finished the first draft of my novel, that it wouldn’t have hit 50,000 words anyway. In fact, I would have been lucky to hit 35,000. Either this means that The Soul Market was always destined to be a novella, or once it is completed I need to add some more scenes, share it with my friends and find out what is missing.

So I am disappointed, yes, but this month has refueled my passion for novel writing, and in that sense alone I can only consider NaNoWriMo 2015 to have been a success.

Has anyone else struggled with the word count? Any writing tips from budding writers?


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November 27, 2015

642 Things Writing Prompt: ‘What your desk thinks about at night’

“I’m tired,” sighed the desk.  It tried to stretch its back out, but it creaked under the weight of the contents piled on its top.  Looking across the room, it saw two yellow eyes watching it from the darkness.

“What do you want this time?” asked the desk.  The eyes belonged to an old Collie, whose gaze darted towards one of the shelves hopefully.  “I see – she’s left another food wrapper here, hasn’t she?”

The desk wriggled a little, and the wrapper floated down to rest on the floorboards.  The dog wasted no time in licking the remains of the cereal bar from the foil.  The desk watched, feeling the usual prickle of guilt inside; the dog would be blamed in the morning for stealing the wrapper from the shelf, but it was better than being watched by hungry eyes all night.

Hours passed, and the desk managed to grab a few hours of sleep, before the weight of the table’s contents stirred it awake. The desk shook itself grumpily, sleep deprivation turning its mood sour.

“I’ve had enough,” it said at last, and with one mighty shake, sent everything tumbling to the ground. After the initial thud, all felt quieter than before. The desk looked at the destruction it had caused – pages of books bent, pencils snapped, a photo frame cracked. The desk lowered its gaze in shame, as the other pieces of furniture frowned at it.
“You do not appreciate what you have got,” said the bookshelf, whose every shelf was straining under the weight of all the knowledge it kept. “You are the origin of thoughts and ideas, whereas I merely keep that knowledge safe. I grow dusty, but you will see change every day. Be thankful you aren’t in a secondary school.” The other pieces of furniture mumbled in agreement, and returned to sleep.

I’ll do better, thought the desk, as footsteps sounded on the stairs, and the door was flung open, cautious human eyes searching for the possible intruder who had caused the noise. I’ll do better.


642 Things To Write About is available to buy on The Book Depository.

This is actually based on a true story – I abuse my desk by piling far too many notebooks and writing sets on it!  If it could think/speak, it would weep.

After writing this, I think I will respect my poor desk more.

I also think secondary school desks must have the hardest life of all the desks – I remember all manner of things being drawn on them, and there was always at least one piece of chewing gum stuck to the underside!

What would your desk think about at night?  I’d love to hear your responses!


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November 4, 2015

My NaNoWriMo Playlist

nanowrimoThis isn’t actually just my NaNoWriMo playlist; these songs are my go-to music for any time I am writing at a computer.  Some of these I associate so strongly with scenes from the book, that I would be truly gutted if they were not in the film adaptation (planning ahead).  Sometimes the lyrics touch me, other times the song just feels right, and there is something unknown about listening to it that sparks inspiration.

I’d also like to point out that I’ve seen about 50% of these artists live, and I absolutely love them – these songs are like classics to me, many of them favourites left over from my teen years.  Maybe this also has something to do with why they inspire me?

Pretty much all the songs can be found on YouTube for those wanting to explore them further.  I’ve included a quote with the ones that lyrically inspire me too!

  • Watch Over You by Alter Bridge – “I tried to carry you and make you whole, but it was never enough, I must go”
  • Hello by Evanescence – “If I smile and don’t believe, soon I know I’ll wake from this dream” (eerie… possibly the credits song for the movie adaptation, haha)
  • Relief by Bury Tomorrow – “And so please show me, what I’m meant to believe” 
  • Hollow Crown by Architects – “So far from home I need your voice to lift my lonely state of mind”
  • Fuel Up by Stornoway – “We’re all bound the same way down this long, long road”
  • Smooth (cover) by Escape the Fate
  • Welcome to Oblivion by Madina Lake – “You and me are gonna make it through, cause now we know there’s people like us”
  • House of Cards by Madina Lake – “You’ll be amazed at the secrets I keep”
  • Apologize (One Republic cover) by Silverstein
  • Demonology and Heartache by Atreyu – “I need no reminders, no more reminders, I’ll forget the past and lay it to rest”
  • This Flesh A Tomb by Atreyu – “I would stand, stand by your side, until the sun turns the sky all the colours I see in your eyes”
I also love listening to music from musical theatre and Disney; I like songs to have stories within them, which is why I have such a soft spot for rock music, I think:
  • Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid
  • Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas
  • The Phantom of the Opera

What songs are on your writing playlist?  I’d love to hear some recommendations!


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November 2, 2015

3 Ways I Am Prepping for NaNoWriMo

So you may have noticed that November’s Words & Geeks read hasn’t been announced yet. As I am participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I have decided to have a break for the month from the read-along to focus on writing instead.  I’ll post more about my general reading throughout November on Goodreads to compensate, as I have grown to enjoy live updates about my current read.

To mark the impending start of NaNoWriMo, I’ve listed the three ways I am prepping for it:

1.) Reading. I already know that I want my book to have a YA audience, as that is the genre which most interests me as a reader, so reading books for this age group is giving me some ideas about how to tackle certain topics.  I call it research…
2.) Writing out key plot points. I get a bit bored writing when I know everything that it going to happen. By having key plot points as guidance, I can still have fun shaping the spaces inbetween, while keeping the story heading in the right direction.
3.) Collecting inspiration. I am preparing a playlist on iTunes (I’ll reveal this at some point next month), making folders on my computer filled with photos, jotting down book and song quotes onto strips of paper.  I am surrounding myself with ideas and prompts, to get the creative juices flowing.

How are you prepping for NaNoWriMo?  Any tips of your own to give?  Good luck to everyone taking part this year!


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October 21, 2015