Cover Art and Competence

I’ve always been under the impression that I’ve not got the talent for cover-making.

Hey, for all I know, that impression is the correct one. But I came across a handy-dandy guide on Joanna Penn’s blog, in which a process for making covers through Microsoft Word was explained and shown. So I thought, ‘Well, why not give it a try?’

So I did. My Underland Novelette Thing now has both a cover and a title. Hooray!

Introducing PLAYING HEARTS, its cover, and a small excerpt by the way of a bit of contrast from my MASQUE’s 1st Birthday Posts. Let me know what you think! And if you haven’t yet signed up to my Newsletter, do so now: PLAYING HEARTS will be made available to my subscribers for free, a couple months early.


Playing Hearts Official Take Umptyteenth 3-page-001

Above my head, the Queen’s voice said: “I’d hate to think that you’re sharing your…tea…around Underland. It’s not healthy.”

There was a garbled mumble from the Hare that made me thankfully aware that he was still alive, and Hatter sat down again. I immediately seized his legs again, and though they were as skinny as ever they weren’t as stiff. I had the feeling he was as glad for me as I was for him.

“Not healthy for you, and certainly not healthy for them,” said the Queen. I didn’t think she was really talking about tea, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. “The type of tea you’re spreading about has a nasty habit of poisoning the drinkers.”

“Poisoned tea is no use,” said Hatter, his legs quivering. “All our guests would die. Dead guests are so hard to entertain. Perhaps a little sip of Syrup of Poppies instead?”

“Number Six, restrain the Hare,” said the Queen. Her voice was soft and plump, like a pillow. A pillow pressed against my face so that I couldn’t breathe. “I’ve heard that a hare’s foot is good luck.”

Above my head there was a brief, violent struggle, the sound of smashing crockery and what sounded like the Hare’s feet beating against the tabletop.

“CALUMNY!” yelled the Hare, his voice more frenzied than before. “A HARE MAKES HIS OWN LUCK, MADAM!”


Busy, Busy, Busy

It’s been a busy week. And now that I’ve written the word ‘busy’ five times, it’s looking really weird to me. Maybe I need a nap.

But I digress.

It’s been a busy week. My proofs for Wolfskin came in (finally!) but since they’re late arriving I have only a week and a half to check and correct. So there’s that. Then there’s the last 5000-odd words of Spindle that need to be done by next week if I want to keep on target with that particular deadline. And then there’s Memento Mori (the second volume in the Time-Traveller’s Best Friend series). I’ve only just begun it, and though I know roughly what the story arc for the collection will be, and have a few titles and ideas for a few of the stories, I still need to write the thing. By August at the latest.

With all these deadlines, you’d think I’d be madly at work on one or all of them. No such thing. I also got a new idea for a Short Thing for Weekly Fiction’s Open Call For Submissions. Naturally, I started work on that, with a little bit of editing and proof-reading around the edges. Fortunately, Wolfskin is proving much less complicated than Masque was. I seem to have caught most of the errors and inconsistencies and missed words before this point (does that mean I’ve advanced a level? New Power! Error-Free Gained!) and it’s really mostly a matter of a tiny change here and there.

Added to all the above is a busier-than-usual week at work, coupled with an annoying surge of my favourite companion, Meniere’s Disease.

I may just quietly go mad for a while. Don’t mind me. It’s a self-chosen madness after all.

What about you guys? Who else has a murder of deadlines? (Well, what is the group word for many deadlines, anyway?) And are you actually working on them?

Behold The Beauteous Cover Art!

I’ve been very busy these last few days, finishing final edits of my MS Masque. Likewise busy has been the very talented Joleene Naylor, finishing up the cover of Masque for me.

Happy mortals, feast your eyes on the beauteous cover art! Then go ahead and preorder Masque from Amazon or Kobo. Publication date is set for 1st February, 2015. Two months, guys!

MASQUE - 2500

And if you’re like me and need a blurb to read, scroll down. Adieu. I’m off to gloat a little more over my cover art.


    Beauty met the Beast, and there was . . . bloody murder?

            It’s the Annual Ambassadorial Ball in Glause, and Lady Isabella Farrah, the daughter of New Civet’s Ambassador, is feeling pleasantly scintillated. 

In the library is Lord Pecus, a charming gentleman whose double mask hides a beastly face, and who has decided that Isabella is the very person to break the Pecus curse. 

In the ball-room is young Lord Topher, who is rapidly falling in love with an older woman. 

And in the card-room, lying in a pool of his own blood, is the body of one of Isabella’s oldest friends: Raoul, Civet’s Head Guardsman.  The papers sewn into his sash seem to suggest espionage gone wrong, but Isabella is not so certain.

Lord Pecus, as Commander of the Watch, is of the opinion that Isabella should keep out of the investigation and out of danger.  Isabella is of the opinion that it is her murder to investigate, and that what a certain Beast-Lord doesn’t know won’t hurt him.  . . .    

Will Isabella find the murderer before Lord Pecus does, or will she end her investigation as a bloody spatter on the parlour floor?


Note: I’m currently sending Masque out for review, so if you’re interested in getting your hot little hands on a free review copy, email me at gingellwrites (AT) I’ll send a digital or physical copy of Masque to you for the purposes of a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, etc. All honest reviews are welcomed, and I understand that not everyone is going to love me and my books. (Odd, but there it is . . .)

New Thing!

I have a New Thing.  It started out as a short story about two time-travellers, Kez and Marx, who travel through time and space in a stolen craft.  Then Kez clawed her way out and demanded another story.  Marx backed her up, of course.  

So I wrote them another story.  Then another.  Now excerpts and reports are popping up everywhere around the galaxy as my characters tinker with time, steal stuff from the Time Corp, and just basically cause annoyance around the galaxy.

Now I’m going to share some of those excerpts on my blog.  Yeah, that’s right, you’re all just THAT FLAMIN’ LUCKY.  

Words are being polished, the ebook cover is getting its (hopefully) final touches, and there will be an immense amount of formatting underway shortly: which all means that it will be at least a month before The Complete Time-Traveller’s Best Friend appears on Amazon Kindle.  But in the meantime, look out for excerpts and other fun stuff that will be popping up on my blog.

Look, Ma! I’m Makin’ A Movie!

Look, Ma!  I’m makin’ a movie!

Well, I’m writing a screenplay, anyway.  Close enough?

For those who don’t know what a screenplay is (one of the guys at my writer’s group asked me this morning); a screenplay is the bones of a movie or tv series, or sometimes even a game.  It’s a script plus a few extra bits, like scene settings or actor instructions, or camera shots/angles.  It’s the beginning of a movie.

I wrote a short story a while ago that I just couldn’t get out of my head.  There were things I knew about the setting and characters that didn’t make it into the short story for the very simple reason that if I’d included them, it wouldn’t have stayed a ‘short’ story.  It was an unusually visual story for me, and it didn’t cease to prod at the corners of my mind when I finished it, unlike every other story/book I’ve written.  I always still love my characters when the story is done, and I’m always fully immersed in the re-writes and editing, but this particular story just seemed to keep growing with scenes and dialog that were increasingly visual.  Then someone from my writer’s group read the story and said: “This should be a movie.”


At first it was just ridiculous thoughts of: “Oooh, this is a great song for the soundtrack!” and “This actor is perfect for George.  Oh, and this one is going to play Ruth.”  Then I started wondering about the form of screenplays: how they’re structured, what they contain, etc.  It didn’t really occur to me that I could write a screenplay, of course; because I’m a writer and don’t you have to be a playwright/screenwriter to do that?  Am I allowed to write a movie?

Well, apparantly I am.  I did my research (ahem.  Well, a full day of furious typing on the google and madly following links, and reading the screenplay for True Grit); found out the correct format (oh boy, are they a pain!); and started writing.

And I can do it.  It’s a different form with different rules, and entirely refreshing.  It’s almost easy, because I know where it’s going and what I have to show to make it work.  It’s just a matter of plugging away until it all done, and then making it as beautiful as I can.  I don’t know that I’ll try and send it out to anyone when it’s done.  Heck, I don’t even really know if I’m doing it properly.  But now that I’ve started, other books have begun with the same siren song . . .

Well, the world really does need a four-hour miniseries of The Count of Monte Cristo, after all.


Full-length Novels Vs Short Stories

Until about half a year ago, I’d have told you that I don’t write short stories.  My stories tend to grow exponentially as I write them, and the meagre 2, 000 to 10, 000 word limit on short stories has never seemed enough to do them justice.  Added to that was the fact that, well, I just wasn’t interested in short stories.  So I kept on writing my novels.

It was only when I recieved feedback from an editor remarking upon the need for improvement in pacing that the idea of short stories came up again.  At around the same time I began to attend a writer’s group in my local library, where we were quite often given a list of words and asked to write a poem, short story, etc., using all the words.

The setting was the Second World War.  The place was a rooftop.  The words were ‘ladder’, ‘shopgirl’, and something else I can’t remember now.  And for the first time, I had an idea for a short story.  I gave myself ten pages. Ten pages to experiment with pacing.  Ten pages to see if I could actually do it.  Ten pages to play out the entire idea, and a week in which to write it.  You can see how it turned out here.  I had so much fun with A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend.  More importantly, it gave me real life practise in trying a different type of pacing.

You see, you can’t waste words in a short story.  You’ve got a limited amount of them, and you have to make sure each word counts.  If you’re a writer like me, that means figuring out how to slip from scene to scene neatly and coherently, in as few words as possible.  I’ve always been overly verbose, and wrangling words into their simplest terms was refreshing.  It was challenging.  And when you have to read your short story aloud to a room full of impatient elderly writers who each want you to Shut Up So I Can Get On With MY Story, you’re going to be confined to an even smaller word count.

A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend was preceded by Ruth and the Ghost, which I found even more enjoyable, if possible.  After the two short stories came flash fiction, and then the Drabble.  I still love my novels.  I still even prefer them to short stories.  But now I know a little more about pacing, and I’ve had practise in stream-lining my fiction.  I’m stretching myself as a writer.  I’m learning.  And when you’re still in the slush pile, that’s about all you can hope for.

Keep writing, fellow slush-ites.  Stretch yourselves.  Try something new.  One day that’ll be us in the Best-Seller list.

TimeTravellers (No subtitle) Ruth and the Ghost pic