Monthly Archives: November 2013

NaNo – No mo’ – I’m done!

Happy dance!


That’s it – I’m officially done with NaNo 2013 – and I managed to make the 50k word count (51, 881 to be exact). I was going to save my Sheldon/Amy ‘happy dance’ for the end of Outlanders, but after the painful writers block in the first two weeks of NaNo, and then swapping to do most of the work in the last two weeks, I am feeling pretty chuffed today – so this is what I’ve been doing. Oh yes – I got a little medal too!

NaNo 2013, winner

The ‘Faris’ story is just over 25k words, and is complete end-to-end; the ‘Cirque’ story is also just over 25k, but is a mish-mash of scenes and dialogue, roughly in chronological order. It will probably by around 75k words when completed.

NaNo this year was much tougher for me than 2012, partly because work/life has been very busy in November, so I’ve had less ‘brain’ time than I’d liked, but I think the main issue has been trying to blast out a story I hadn’t had much time to plan.

In 2012 I wrote a lot of Outlanders and so the characters, plot, scenes, etc. were really well mapped out. It’s not always easy writing 3k words a day – but I found last time that I will get well over that done in one day when I’m on a writing roll, then I’m not forcing myself to write on other days. This time it was much harder because, although I was really excited about the ‘Cirque’ idea and characters, plot, etc. I just didn’t have enough behind it to really get the scenes written.

I should have realised it wasn’t a good idea going into NaNo – in ‘real world’ I tend to think through all the options and mull things over before making a decision, it doesn’t always take a huge amount of time, but that’s because things are more flexible. In writing world, because whatever you do will be final and has to fit with everything else in the story, the ‘thinking through’ stage for me has to be much longer than a couple of weeks. I’m also not great at planning things out for books – I’ll put odd bits down, like thoughts on a character or ‘rules’ for the world-building  and maybe make a sequence list of the scenes, but I’m not normally one for creating a lot of information in advance of writing. Plot plans, character guides, mind maps – I suck at putting them on paper – a lot of it just sits inside my head, churning around until they come together like a little movie. It might not be the best, or most logical approach, but it works for me best because I like it when things are left a little loose and then the characters surprise you with twists that you didn’t see at the beginning.

So there you have it – NaNo 2013 has helped me kick myself into writing a prequel and starting a new, stand-alone novel – not sure what will happen next, but I got there. Not sure if I’ll go NaNo in 2014 though, unless I’ve already got something I’m in the middle of – the support can certainly help you get motivated then.


NaNo – Full flow!

OK – well, I’m not sure if this is cheating (in NaNo terms) – but although I’ve been getting on with my new project reasonably well, I’ve realised that I’m not good at writing something I’ve not had a reasonable amount of time to mull over before hand. Although I’ve got a good idea of this story and how it all comes together, I’m still finding it tough to ‘flash’ write – especially at the rate of 3000words a day.


So, this was the idea I had a couple of days ago…Several years ago I wrote a children’s story called Faris and the Monoceros – I’ve not published it, but I have been dabbling around the edges of editing it over the last few months. One thing I always wanted to do was write a prequel to this book, that gave you some more detail about Faris’s life before he came into the fantasy world where you meet him.

Faris has been around for a long while – he’s my youngest and oldest character all at the same time. When I was trawling through some old random drafts I keep in my writing folder to help inspire Cirque I found some character plans I’d written when I was first planning his book. They got me thinking…and then they got me writing…

So – there you have it, I’m writing – quite a lot, quite quickly – but it’s not what I said I’d write. In NaNo world, does it count?

Oh – and you can meet Faris here, too 🙂




It is a truth – universally acknowledged – that every person believes that they are special. This becomes even more of a truth, when the people in question are the inhabitants of an orphanage. Who doesn’t want to be the lucky boy that discovers he’s the long lost heir to a wealthy family? Or to find that them being in the orphanage was a big mistake, and that he has loving parents who will be overjoyed to find him safe and well?

Unfortunately, for the majority of the boys who inhabit the Grimbaldi Foundation for the Potentially Lacking, no such fortunate discoveries exist in their future. If they are lucky, they will survive their time at the Foundation, but that is all.

People say that life is hard. That may be true, but most children are fortunate enough that they do not find this out until they grow up. I am sorry to say, that this is not the case for the boys who live within the grey stone walls of the Grimbaldi mansion.

(To extend further on Faris). 

Chapter 1 – The Beginning



The morning alarm bell rang out, loud and piercing, jolting the boys from their beds half-scared, half-asleep. Many of them had no memory of life outside the walls of the Grimbaldi Foundation and for that reason their dreams and waking lives were not particularly different from one another. Sleep might come easily for the boys at the end of each long day, but that was only because they were exhausted from working a twelve-hour shift in one of the Foundation’s ‘creative rooms’.

Faris tumbled from his bed just like the other boys. He followed his feet as they pulled him automatically into line with his roommates and moved towards the dingy bathroom at the end of the dormitory. His eyes were bleary from too little sleep – it was 5:00am as always – and he had been up well after midnight. Unlike the other boys, he found that he did not sleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. It was quite the opposite: when bedtime came, he would find his mind waking up in a way it never did during the long days of hard labour.

“Sorry,” Faris mumbled sleepily as he staggered over his sleepy feet and bumped into another boy. There was no response. Why waste your energy on talking when there was work to be done? (That was a favourite saying of Mister Grimbaldi’s).

After splashing their faces with icy cold water from the rattling taps and brushing their teeth with their fingers – “why do you need a toothbrush when you have eight perfectly good fingers? was another gem from Mister Grimbaldi – the boys made their way back to their beds to change into their work clothes.

The air in the dormitory always smelled a little stale in the morning and so – as was his habit – Faris opened the small window beside his bed. Fresh air rushed into the room, a little chilly, but the boys were used to the cold so it didn’t bother them. The air carried away with it the smell of boys who only got a bath once a week and helped wake everyone up that little bit more.

Dressed and ready for action, the straggle of boys formed a straight but ragged line beside the main door and waited. Faris was towards the back of the line, not especially bothered about getting to breakfast first. No matter how hungry he got, he just could not get excited about breakfast gruel. FOOD IS FUEL was the inspiring motto emblazoned on the wall of the boys dining room/work room. It was a waste of space really, as only a handful of the boys could read.

Ahead of him, Faris heard the door click open and he watched, as it swung open on squeaky, old hinges.

“Mornin’ boys.”

Faris did not need to look at the face behind the rasping voice to recognise Gamage. He was a tall, wiry-looking man, with grey-brown hair and hollow, muddy eyes. Gamage was caretaker at the Foundation. Faris had never asked, but the rumour was that Gamage was the oldest boy lacking in potential ever to be housed at the Foundation. Every now and then other boys at the Foundation were collected by long-lost relatives or disappeared on cold dark nights, but Gamage had always been at the Foundation. Always had and probably always would be. Faris believed that the stories about Gamage were true because when you looked closely at him, which wasn’t often as he wasn’t the most handsome of men, Gamage had a strange doomed look in his eyes.

“Ready for work lads?” Gamage continued, giving them a cruel, toothy grin. No one replied. No one looked at him. That was only for the incredibly brave or incredibly stupid. “Let’s go then, I’ve not got all day!”

With this last instruction barked loudly over their heads, the line of boys moved forwards, their eyes cast down at the floor and shoulders curving downwards like a row of unhappy mouths.

Breakfast was a quiet affair. Rusty spoons scraped every last morsel of food from the cracked bowls and shovelled it into hungry mouths. Aside from the odd gurgling stomach, protesting that it wanted more than the small portion of food that had been offered, there was no other sound except for the gentle clinking of cutlery.

NaNo So-So

I’m still plugging away with my ‘new’ idea – I’m definitely getting more written, just in writing  scenes that are quite clear in my head at this point. It’s a bit scatter-gun as I’m jumping forwards and backwards in the chapters of the story, so probably will be a bit inconsistent when I come back and re-read for editing.

Best solutions so far to the dreaded block? A playlist that gets me picturing the scenes like a mini-film in my head (you’ve got to have a montage!) and just jumping from one action / dialogue piece to another 🙂 Let’s see how we go from here.

If you’re interested, here’s the prologue updated a bit…

It wasn’t late – only about six o’clock – but the dark rain clouds hanging over the city had brought an unnatural, early night with them. He liked the darkness, so this was perfect. He was hungry and it had been a long journey. He wouldn’t wait to feed – he never did.

Crouching on the turret of the cathedral clock tower, he watched the figures below in the busy street. The little people scurried here and there, many of them hidden beneath a multi-coloured sea of umbrellas, trying to avoid the unexpected rain. It was the outskirts of the city and there were too many people here in the crowds, but from his position he could see that beyond the train station and bridge their numbers began to dwindle.

There would be a good place to start.


*   *   *

Corinne Hawkes sloshed her way quickly down the busy street, through the crowds of people ambling along the pavement. The weather was horrendous, with heavy rain pounding down, so you couldn’t escape getting soaked.

Why would you want to be out in this if you didn’t have to be?

People were crazy, she concluded, as she squeezed herself between a dawdling couple and the steam-filled window of a coffee shop. The air was full of brightness and colour – it wasn’t even December yet, but the Christmas shopping season with all the lights and the street markets was in full swing. Seeing everyone else carefree made her even grumpier that she was on her way to work. The holiday season was no fun, if you weren’t part of it.

She was past the crowds now and able to move faster. The alleyway to the right was unpleasant – filled with stinking bins and fire exits that looked like they’d never been used in the last ten years – but anything that offered a faster way to get out of this weather was a good thing in Corinne’s mind.

At the start of the street, where the people were still close-by, Corinne felt fine. But, as she hurried deeper into the dank, darkness of the alley she felt strange. An odd sensation at the back of her neck, under her hair, prickled on her skin. Corinne shivered and began to move faster, as cold fingers trickled down her spine telling her she was being followed or watched from the shadows. It suddenly dawned on her, how vulnerable she was in the deserted passageway: no one would notice if anything happened down here.

Why are you thinking about stuff like that right now?!

She shook her head, scolding herself for getting wound up. “It’s nothing,” she muttered, sounding convincing. Even so, as she stuffed her hands deep into her coat pocket and found her house keys, she gripped them tightly in her fist, pointing them out through her knuckles. You know, just in case.

She escaped the alleyway, only to be greeted by a fresh blast of wind, which pushed more rain straight into her face. It was a really bad day to have come out without an umbrella.

You’ve been living here for two years now, you should know that Manchester can always guarantee you rain.

Pulling the hood of her jacket tighter against her face, Corinne ignored the zebra crossing further up the street – one hundred metres felt a long way today – and sprinted across the main road instead, dodging the two nearest, slow moving cars.

Up ahead the tram station beckoned: bright green sign and white florescent lights. Wood Green Road station. It was like a beacon, shining through the darkness and calling her in with the promise of shelter.

“Finally,” she muttered and scurried into the station, pausing for a few, drippy minutes at the ticket machine. Her wet fingers stuck to everything as she searched through her purse to find change, but eventually her gluey hands found what she needed and she pushed a few coins into the slot and grabbed her ticket from the tray at the bottom.

NaNo – No no…

Head Desk Day 13 of NaNoWriMo and I’m really not doing very well… Four weeks ago, when I was finishing RMT I was bubbling over with enthusiasm and ideas for another book: scenes kept springing into my head, one-shots were pretty much writing themselves, cover design was done in a single sitting….

Then 1st November rolls around and pfft – nothing, nada, zilch. I tried the next day and the next – I tried the prologue, and skipped forward to chapter 1, because I wasn’t really feeling good about the writing. I tried jumping ahead to some of the ‘action scenes’ thinking they might spur me on (yeah – I’m not even going to bother letting you see those). By 4th November, I had a grand total of 462 words:


“How can there be this much friggin’ rain?”

Corinne Smith was muttering to herself as ran for the shelter of the tram station platform. Her feet squelched inside soggy boots as she stomped down the stairs, annoyed that no one had thought to enclose them to protect passengers from the elements. Twenty seconds later, she stepped into a dark, damp recess on the platform and out of the storm.

She shook her head, which made ringlets of wet hair stick to her face and the inside of her hooded coat. I hate being damp.

(Note: Insert major action scene to draw in reader and bump off this lovely lady in a pretty gruesome fashion).

The creature pulled himself up into a tree, his long finger nails sinking into the wet bark. It was an easy climb for him up to a low branch, which gave a good view of the platform and his recent handiwork. He didn’t miss being human, not one bit, but that didn’t stop him being fascinated by them.

hapter 1

“Beth! Psst – Beth!”

I turned in the direction of the voice. As did half of the people on the tables surrounding me – they obviously didn’t appreciate being interrupted either. My fellow students looked at the whispering girl and then glared around the library workspace until they identified the other guilty party. Perfect, it was me.

Please don’t come over, please don’t come over…

“Hey!” Kerry greeted me, at full, normal ‘non-library’ volume, as she plopped into the chair opposite.

“Hey,” I whispered back, closing my books and piling them together as quickly and quietly as possible.

“Are you finished?” Kerry continued, still on full volume.

“I am now!” I hissed back, getting out of my seat and grabbing the book tower I’d just made. There was no point trying to continue working and I was eager to get away from the death-stares we were receiving from the people studying around us.

With my books in my arms, I hurried through the library stacks, passing dozens of bookcases with shelves crammed full of every type of book and document you could imagine. Kerry trotted along behind, close at my heels until we passed through the glass doors into the main library entrance hall.

As soon as we moved into the hall, we broke out of the bubble of silence that existed inside the main library and re-entered the normal world,

“Who the hell says psst, anyway? You sounded like a character from a bad spy film or something.”

“Whatever – I stand by my method of extraction.” Kerry shrugged. “I had to get you out of there: you were turning into one of those brainiac zombies who devours books and craves silence.”

I nodded, in mock-agreement. “Yeah – those guys are crazy. You’d think they were there to learn or something, who’d want to do that when you’re a student?”


So, for the last nine days I’ve been stuck – I really like this story (the one in my head, not the one I’ve managed to get down on paper), but my mojo has definitely gone. I’ve 17 days left in November – and I actually think I could still complete the challenge – but I don’t think it will be with this book: there’s too much planning and prep to put into it, to write something I’m not sure I’m ready to write.

Maybe if I want a break from Ambrosia but can’t get into gear on this piece, I should try something else… ?

Your thoughts (and any additional word count you can offer!) would be gratefully received!


It’s here!

It’s Here!

The Rainbow Maker's Tale - Cover

I logged on to Amazon this morning and was excited to see The Rainbow Maker’s Tale – finally on sale! :)  This is the second book in the Ambrosia Sequence and has been the reason I’ve lived in a virtual cave over the last few months – no bermuda triangle of Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter for Melanie!

It’s been a log while coming, so seeing it there, ready to go was fantastic. A mini-book tour will be kicking off soon to launch the book properly with giveaways and a competition – but if you want to get your hands on it in the meantime – you know where it is!

Mel x

Do you want to come on a journey?


2013-Participant-Vertical-Banner I suppose this isn’t a particularly fair question, as I’ve already kind of decided that I’m going to share some of my NaNoWriMo 2013 experience as I go along anyway 🙂 As I’m working on a brand new project this time, I didn’t think it would hurt to share some of the bits I write this month – first draft, mistakes and typos and all, because NaNoWriMo is about writing and not editing. So, if you’re interested in seeing what I’m doing, how my word count is going or catching snippets of bits as I go along, then keep an eye on me in November, and I’ll try and remember to post, along with writing a couple of thousand words a day to meet the 50,000 word target.

As it’s 1st November, I’m off now, to get started on Chapter 1 – no title for it yet, because who knows where it’s going?

30 days – 50, 000 words – are you up for NaNo in 2013? Tell me what you’re doing if you are 🙂