Book Review: The Time Twister

I think it’s strange that my last post talked about time being lost and moments later I’m writing a post called The Time Twister. Maybe the book I’m about to review twisted my time in real life. 😉

Anyway, I finished reading Charlie Bone and the Time Twister (The Children of the Red King, Book 2) last night. In fact, it was almost 1am, so I should be saying “this morning”. 😀

Charlie Bone hoped the new term at Bloor’s Academy would hold no nasty surprises. But then Henry Yewbeam appears, twisted through time from the icy winter of 1916 into the present day.

With malicious Yewbeam aunts on the prowl, and the Bloors out to catch him, Henry will need Charlie’s help just to stay alive. Bloor’s Academy can be a very dangerous place…

The above blurb is all I’ll say about the plot, because I hate it when a plot is revealed prior to me reading the book, so I refuse to spoil it for anyone else.

The Time Twister is an interesting book. Something is always happening, as it should in any good book.

Midnight for Charlie Bone is the first book in the series, which I might add, I enjoyed immensely. I believe there is a third book called Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy, which I haven’t seen yet, but definitely intend to buy.

From a writer’s point of view, the only thing I see wrong with this series is the fact that the reader has to read the books in order to understand what’s going on. It’s highly unlikely that anyone picking up book 2 will not become confused at some stage if they haven’t read book 1. Do people read books out of order normally? I never do, so this isn’t an issue for me.

I said it for the first book, and I’ll say it with this one. It’s hard not to compare it with the Harry Potter books. They are alike, but different at the same time. They definitely are worth investing time (and money) into.

The Garnet Orbs Update

Where do the hours go? In fact, where do the days go? I can’t believe another week has flown by.

In that time, I did little writing. I won’t waste your time or mine with excuses. I didn’t write. There are no excuses. However, yesterday morning, I decided to make things right and I spent many hours (on and off) at the laptop. The second scene of The Garnet Orbs did not want to flow they way I visualised it. In fact, the scene just went on and on and on with no direction and no excitement. It was quite depressing. However, at some point, I finally found the right “attitude” for the character I was having trouble with and from there…the words flowed. It took many hours to get to that stage though. Today, I continued the scene and managed to finish it.

The last scene is going to be long and quite different to anything I’ve written before (I’m not giving any of the details away though). It seems this scene is shaping up much like the second scene – I’m waffling on and hoping to find the right ingredients somewhere along the way.

Word count to date is 2024, which means I’m two fifths of the way through.

Four Things

I’ve been tagged by Sherry. Four things, in these categories, should have been easy to list, but weren’t. This meme reinforces how boring I am. 😉

Four Jobs I’ve Had:
1. Teller
2. Bank Officer
3. Advertising Assistant
4. Secretary

Four Movies I Can Watch Over And Over:
1. Grease
2. Terminator
3. Titantic
4. Gone With the Wind.

I’m a soppy romantic at heart. Does it show?

Four Places I’ve Lived:
1. London, England
2. Sydney, Australia
3. Stoke-on-Trent, England
4. Katoomba, Australia

In that order too. 😀

Four TV Shows I Love:
1. CSI
2. Biggest Loser
3. Amazing Race
4. Can’t think of a fourth.

Four Places I’ve Vacationed:
1. Queensland, Australia
2. South Coast, Australia
3. Melbourne, Australia
4. England

Four Of My Favourite Dishes:
1. Bread and butter pudding with custard
2. Curry chicken
3. Fish & Chips
4. Anything fattening and I’m not allowed to have

Four Sites I Visit Daily:
1. Removed
2. http://com1.runboard.com/bscribesmessageboard
3. www.helenparocha.com
4. http://sherrydramsey.blogspot.com/

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
1. At home
2. At the library
3. On a peaceful holiday
4. And did I mention at home?

Four Books I’ve Read Lately:
1. Leaving Early: Youth Suicide by Bronwyn Donaghy
2. When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner
3. Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo
4. Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson

Four Bloggers I’m Tagging:
1. Deborah
2. Benjamin
3. Paul
4. And to steal Sherry’s idea, anyone else who happens to read this.

Third Time Lucky?

What can I say, I spent a week planning one story only to find it was too much too soon and I didn’t feel ready to write it (as in it was pure SF and I’ve never written SF before). Another story idea was thrown at me and after only a few hours of planning, which is unlike me, I started writing. This is a great story, but I encountered a problem. The next day I shelved the idea as being too big for 5,000 words.

In fact, that is a problem I face whenever I attempt short stories. I tend to think BIG and write that way too. Both these stories should be novels and I’ve decided to put both the plans to one side and try a third time to come up with something appropriate.

*sigh*

Besides the above, I read the guidelines again and think I went off track after visiting Julie’s website, because the story has to be fantasy yet I was trying to write SF instead.

Right, two story plans have been shelved. But…a new story is already coming together. It started with a sentence I saw on the internet – which I will not share, as it will give part of the plot away. From that I went straight into a brain storming session last night and planned a story, which is all fantasy, and meets the other guidelines. When I went to bed I had characters, setting, plot and motive.

This morning, I was up early and decided to turn on the laptop and start writing. This afternoon (and I haven’t been sitting at the laptop all day, by any means), I’ve written the first scene and have a clear path for the second scene. There are only three scenes in this story. The first two scenes I’ve set a limit of 1,000 each and so far I’m within that goal. The last scene can be up to 3,000 words, but I expect it to be around 2,000 (at least). This story is designed for a short story, not a novel, so I know I’ll be within the word count limit.

Yes, in this case, third time is lucky. The Garnet Orbs is the story I will be submitting when I’ve been through all the process of writing, reading, editing and more writing. I could say I wasted a week, but really I’d be silly to say such a thing. That week produced two SF story plans. How can that be called a waste?

Out of My Depth

I’m way out of my depth with this new short story. I feel like I’m standing in the middle of a football field and everyone is bombarding with … well, anything they can get their hands on … it’s painful.

Writing about aliens on another planet meant I, the author, had to have some idea what these aliens were like. Do they eat, sleep and drink? How do they reproduce? What is their purpose in life? Why did they do whatever it was I was going to get them doing in the story?

Hmm, why indeed. I sat on my bed this morning, paper spread out around me, and realised I was in too deep and had no idea what I was doing.

Help!

Poor G, he must hate it when this happens to me. I must have sounded like I was three years old child. “G, what am I going to do?”

I expected him to shrug his shoulders and say I’m the writer and I should have other ideas to run with. If he had said that he might have got a slap on the head. As I’m against violence in the real world (it’s not that bad in stories, however) I’m glad he didn’t say that. Instead, he turned to me and said, “How’s this for an idea…”

Ten minutes later he had outlined a complete story. It’s brilliant. He’s brilliant. I hope I can write it brilliantly.

I already feel as if I’m more within my comfort zone. I still have to stretch myself and be convincing, and there are still aliens, but I will have a bit more control with this plot. *sigh of relief*

Strangely, this story feels like it wants to be written in first person, but I’ll see how that pans out when I start writing – which I still intend to do today. Well, tonight actually. Right now, I have to get ready to go out, but before I do that I just want to congratulate Sherry for receiving an invitation too.

Productive Planning

Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours roaming the internet looking for inspiration for the short story I need to write within the next two months. It’s amazing what can be found this way. And it’s even more amazing what a glimpse of an image or a fragmented sentence might produce in the mind.

First, I googled and used a couple of online generators and found a lot of combinations, most of them weird and not appropriate. However, I saw fragments of suggestions that I liked and I made a note of them…just in case. The planet generators helped me get into the “world” mode and what might be required of my people and the plot. At present, I haven’t settled on anything concrete, but at least I have an idea forming in my mind.

Then, I did a Google image search and looked at different types of aliens, sf characters, weird looking people, extra terrestrials, etc. This resulted in three possible outcomes to the story itself. I haven’t decided which way to go, as yet, but at least I have something to go with.

Next, I intend to write a quick outline of the story. It will probably be 8 or 10 lines in length to start with, but will grow from there.

The initial shock and numbness regarding this story has turned into productive planning. I have three days left to finish the planning. I think I’m doing well.

I’ve been Invited!

Yesterday, I emailed a friend and said, “I’m having one of those ‘why do I bother’ phases.” I go through this phase at least once a year. It’s nothing serious. I just start doubting my ability and my reasons for writing. Within a few days, a week at the most, I’m back to thinking like a writer should think.

This time, however, the phase has been bad enough for me to consider removing myself from the “internet” scene and just writing like I used to write. In those days, I was a prolific writer and I wrote two complete 200,000+ manuscripts, one 100,000+ manuscript and started several others. Since I turned my mind to publication, I’ve hardly written a thing. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m being slightly melodramatic. I’ve written two children’s chapter books and three short stories. If I compare the word count, that amounts to nothing. Yet if I compare quality, my latest writing wins out for sure.

Anyway, I’ve been down in the dumps and not particularly motivated. Then…out of the blue…I received an invitation.

Instantly, the writer in me reawakened. Instantly, ideas started swirling around in my mind. Instantly, I want to get back into writing.

Why?

I’ve already told you – I’ve been invited. 😀

In 2004, I organised an anthology project. I’ve written about it numerous times on this blog. Unfortunately, the project didn’t go as planned and I didn’t manage to get the stories published as publishers are not interested in unknown authors. They want to pick the theme, the stories and the authors (preferably well known, published authors).

However, it was because of the anthology that I started corresponding with Julie E. Czerneda. The Anthology submission found its way onto her desk. After long consideration she rejected the stories, but not the authors. She invited us to give our details for future consideration of other anthologies she planned on editing for publication through DAW Books Inc.

Yesterday, I received an invitation to submit a story. I am one of eleven people she has invited to submit for the Editor’s Choice. Only one story will be successful. Considering we have a 1 in 10,000 chance (and that is probably way under the mark) when we submit to publishers and agents, I think a 1 in 11 chance is mighty fine. It certainly has given me the motivation I needed.

The deadline is 15th May. My time zone is well ahead of Canada, so I had better say the deadline is 12th May to be safe. The theme is “magic meets technology”. I already have a story in mind and now I have two months to plan, write, edit, proof, edit, proof again and final edit this story. That sounds like plenty of time, but I usually spent weeks thinking about the story, then weeks planning the story before writing a single word. That’s not going to fit the deadline this time round, so I have set a goal and I want to start writing the story next weekend. This means I have five days to plan the story and characters. Five days. That’s not long at all.

Better go, I have a story to plan…

A Big Fat Lie

I stole this meme from Sherry, who stole it from another friend.

Below, I will tell you six facts. Five of them are true, but one of them is a big, fat lie. Can you tell which one? Take a guess and leave a comment, I’ll reveal the answer in a few days.

1. I have been on stage numerous times, but the most important was when I did a solo in a Swan Lake ballet performance in Sydney.

2. Years ago, I appeared in a TV commercial. The ad was for Mullenberg bread and I can only be seen in the ad for a mere two seconds, but still…

3. When I was a teenager I borrowed a (real live) horse and kept it for 9 months before giving it back.

4. I was once taken on a training flight in an Navy black hawk helicopter. The engine cut off in midflight and we plunged downward. I was relieved when the engine kicked over again.

5. I often faint when riding a bike, especially in summer.

6. I have had my driving licence for almost 30 years, but have been driving for only half that time.

Can you spot the lie? 😀

 

 

 

 

 

Keep reading to find out the truth…

 

 

 

 

 

The truth revealed:

1. Truth.

Words can easily misinform, even if they are 100% true. I did have a solo in Swan Lake and that performance was in Sydney, but it wasn’t anything like the statement suggested. It was a ballet school performance. All the schools in the metro area were allowed a slot on the night. It was the only year the school I attended entered and we did a segment from Swan Lake. I felt mighty special being picked for the solo, which signified the run and flying leap Swan Lake is well known for.

2. A big fat lie.

The ad is true in all aspects except it wasn’t me who appeared in it, it was one of my sons. It took three full days of filming to get 30 seconds worth of advertising. All the kids in the commercial were from the same school, but none of them were paid. The money went to the school to purchase much needed equipment. Barry’s line was, “Hmmm, hmmm, Mullenberg.” We laughed ourselves silly after it was all over and he told us he didn’t even like the bread!

3. Truth.

I was horse mad in my teenage days, but knew I’d never get one of my own because my parents couldn’t afford it. My best friend had a horse and we spent hours doing horsey things every weekend (horses were much better than boys). 😉 My parents picked me up from my friend’s place one afternoon and on the way home we stopped at a random paddock and we were patting this bay mare. The owner turned up, a complete stranger, and by the time we got in the car to continue our journey home it had been arranged (at the owner’s suggestion) that I borrow his mare for nine months. I couldn’t believe it. I was excited and scared all rolled into one. The mare was pregnant and that’s why there was a time limit. Anyway, after nine months, the mare went home and on my birthday she gave birth to a filly. And, no, the owner didn’t name that filly “Karen”. 😛

4. Truth.

At the time I lived in a Naval community and was finding it difficult to find a job. As luck had it, I made a phone call to the Navy base on the day the Commodore’s secretary rang in and told them that she had pulled the lawn mower over her toes and had been admitted to hospital to have them reattached. I worked for them for nine weeks before being told the secretary was able to return to work. As a parting gift they took me on a training flight in the Blackhawk helicopter. The trainer often, I was told, switched off the engine at random. It surprised me that he did this with a civilian onboard, but as I said it was a training flight and it was business as usual for them. Anyway, the engine stopped, we plummeted, no one panicked (including me, because I was in shock) and then the engine started again and we carried on with the flight. It’s a gift I’ll never forget.

5. Truth.

I can’t recount the number of times this has happened to me. It’s so embarrassing. Even in winter I can’t be trusted to stay on the bike and upright, instead I prefer to be sprawled out in the middle of the road saying stupid things. After many mishaps I decided to get rid of the bike for good. It’s safer.

6. Truth.

I got my licence when I was 18 and drove for about two years. Then we bought a manual, but as I only drove an automatic and didn’t feel confident enough to drive a manual, I didn’t drive again for over 12 years. When it finally sank in that all the cars we bought were only ever manuals, I finally worked up the courage to have lessons. Three hours later I was driving a manual and never looked back. Fear can stop us doing many things.