Sunday, 25 November 2012

Back to school with ALAN DURANT

My son was lucky enough to be selected for a Literary Day at another primary school hosted by alan Durant.  Other local schools were represented by a range of pupils (there were 30 children in total).  I was asked to go along as a responsible adult since I am an author... love it!  I took lots of notes...

Alan asked the following questions, and got an impressive show of hands in response:
  • What inspires you?
  • Where do you write?
  • Do you read?
  • Do you want to be a writer?
  • Is there a special place that motivates you to write?  Find your space...don't stifle your creativity.
Books kids had read included Famous Five, Narnia Series, Poetry - impressive!

Alan wrote a lot of his work in his Shed... he read out his poem.  He has a captivating voice.  The poem, read from memory, was excellent.

Alan recommends that you imagine you are in your favourite place when you are writing.

TO BE A WRITER... YOU HAVE TO LOVE WORDS...YOU SHOULD WANT TO MARRY WORDS (a bit - all the children giggled at this)

Kids favourite words:  cheek, ink, articulate, ginornous, write, discombubulated, Chimbercoli (place in India)

A word can have many meanings... it's the fantastic thing about language.

For example, if you think of exciting things like exotic fruit...

Using the expression "you are what you eat."

FRUIT FANTASY - alan used fruit to create a poem...

Alan then explained that his books included picture books.  At this point I felt compelled to ask a question, I was just as keen as the children.  I wondered how the illustrations came about.  The answer surprised me to an extent.  Apparently, this is where the publisher comes in, and in Alan's case he does not tend to interfere.  He is shown the illustrations and can have a say but he tends to let them use their expertise.


Self expression - How do you tell a story?

You have to be interested in the theme.  If you can also draw from a real experience, it keeps the writer engaged.  It as a writer you do not find it interesting, then frankly no-one else will (a very valid point).

"If you have not smelt it, you can't know about it."

In order to write about Gameboys, Alan bought one and played with it.  He then wrote three books based on the experience... they looked like a fun read for children aged betweem 6-8 years old.

I agree that in Alan's case this statement makes sense, however for fantasy and paranormal books the writer can not have smelt or known with certainty about characters that don't really exist.  So, personally this statement only stands true for stories based on 'real' things.

"Sometimes you like to use the same character.  eventually, the story runs its course and a new character emerges."

How do you name a book?

"Wait until the end...sometimes it changes."

I agree with this statement, all of my books have changed names as they got written.

Name for a Character?

Very important, it gives the voice of the story...(I agree)

Use a notebook

If you carry a notebook around, you can jot an idea when it comes to you... (I have to admit I scribbled an amazing story idea on the back of the notepad whilst I was listening on the day!)

Range of Authors read by the children attending:

Michael Morpurgo, Rick Riordan, Roald Dahl, JK Rowling (not the latest one, of course...), Enid Blyton, Jacqueline Wilson, Suzanne Collins, Holly Webb...

The children were then split into groups of 6... and then had to come up with a story using the Fortunately, Unfortunately concept...

For example:

Fortunately, the day was very informative.
Unfortunately, it was very stuffy in the room and I ended up getting a migraine...

Overall, the kids did a great job...

Key points noted:
There was some repetition of themes, a lot of death & coming back to life, breaking and fixing, falling...

Then Alan gave then a set of questions to answer... the kids were busy scribbling!
  1. What's your favourite colour? Why?
  2. What's your favourite place? Describe
  3. What's your favourite season? Why?
  4. What's your favourite possession? Why?
  5. What's your favourite food? Describe (as though you can see it in front of you0
  6. What's your favourite hobby? Why?
  7. What would be your dream job? Why?
  8. Describe a memorable event.
  9. Describe a dream or nightmare.
  10. What fruit or vegetable would you be?  Why?
  11. What creature eould you be?  Why?
Animals leave memories

Cats having kittens (find a place - bed, shoes, sock drawer)  A strong bond forms with an animal.  Use real experiences to create a story...

The children then had a break, and when they came back composed there own stories using three answers they had given to the questions.

I had a wonderful day, as did all the dhildren and I would like to thank Alan Durant for an excellent workshop.

I did actually buy three books for my kids that day, which Alan signed! Fantastic!

And I have to say that my youngest loves hers...

thanks for reading and please check out Alan Durants books,

All the best
Vanessa :) xx

Alan has published 80 books to date...



Vanessa :) xx


I have to be honest, I found being a teenager hard work.  Growing up in a place like Gibraltar, I always felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb.  A redhead in a hot climate surrounded by tanned brunettes...hmmm.  I found it particularly amusing when I got burnt and resembled a lobster - not my best look!

However, if there are a few thing us Gibraltarians do well they (we mix the best of Spanish, Morrocan & Englaish cuisine together) & dancing!  Gibraltar has won many dance competitions in the past and I have to say that the love of music and dance remains with me for life.

So, it is on the topic of dance that we get to my story.  Gibraltar always used to organise the best Christmas and New Years Balls.  It was fantastic to get dolled up and to feel like an adult.  I had been to a Ball/ Dance before the one in this story, but always with friends.  This was the first time I was asked on a date.

I did have a fantastic time, and am very grateful for having been invited.  I was a very innocent teenager.

So, I hope you get the chance to check out my short story...FIRST DATE.  I have used my creative licence to amend the story to what I would have liked to have happened - hey, I am a writer after

Vanessa :) xx

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

"Don’t let your circumstances define who you are." Interview with Mike Lambson

I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Mike over the course of a few weeks... The results are in the link attached! It was great fun and I have to say that I enjoyed the process (Mike is also a very nice it made it easy!)

Please take a look and enjoy... & Follow @mikelambson on Twitter

"Don’t let your circumstances define who you are."

Happy reading...

Vanessa :) xx

My personal highlights from the interview...

"my heart belongs to novels with some romantic aspect. I have a feeling I will write the genre that suits me… I am still dabbling; I only started writing under three years ago! I would love to be the next Agatha Christie, but I have a feeling I like romance too much…"

"I think I have a lot to be proud of. A writer is not just defined by their success, but by what they get out of their “art.” It’s the same for every other profession where people judge your work."

"When I start to write I go into a zone… The story tells itself, I’m just the writer… My head is a mysterious place!"

"I put the bare bones down first, then develop to add muscle, skin and extra details!"

"I have used some real experiences for inspiration. For example, in Hybrid, when Steven thrashed Caitlin at pool, that was me, beaten to humiliation by my husband on one of our first dates. I resented him for weeks. I thought I was a good player until then."

"I have had many compliments that have made me smile from ear to ear…the main one that always amuses me if when I get the… ‘I didn’t think I would enjoy this, it’s not my usual read…but I couldn’t put it down.’ My ultimate ambition is to entertain, to make the reader lose themselves in the story. Without a good story, you have nothing – that’s my opinion. You can be the best writer in the world, but without a good story…well, need I say more."

"Don’t let your circumstances define who you are. It’s easy to complain, to say you can’t. It’s harder to fight for what you believe in, to put in the extra effort."

"Don’t write for financial reward!"

"Anyone who knows me at all knows there is a lot of me in Caitlin. I am a swimmer, attended the University of Southampton, come from Gibraltar, LOVE sharks…etc. BUT…Caitlin is more…she can do all the other stuff I did not do! Steven embodies the man I would fall love with, but not necessarily end up with. He has so much of lots of men I have known or know. He probably does have traits of the first man I ever fell in love with (not my husband…ha ha). The other characters are inspired by different people or traits I know well, but I’m not saying who…"

"I have bawled my eyes out several times over scenes I have written. Actually, the Christmas Short I will be releasing soon, made me cry like a baby."

Sunday, 11 November 2012


I admit it... I am a sadist!

I have self imposed a deadline of the 16.11.12 to have finalised COMPLICATIONS... I am an idiot!  Absolutely.  But then, don’t you work better to a deadline?  Isn’t it better to have something to aim for, than to follow the usual ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ kind of attitude?

Also, I want to get cracking on book 3, and until book 2 is wrapped up I don’t stand a chance.

So, I WILL have it ready on time.  As you might have read it is already available from Smashwords, but at least there anyone who has purchased an older version can update the latest one at any time.  Not like Amazon.  Even I have to pay to get a copy off Amazon!  On Smashwords, if you own it you can download copies to your hearts content…nice.

HYBRID  is now only 94p or $1.50...a bargain!

It is interesting to think that writers like Jojo Moyes wrote 4 books that have never seen the day of light.  Without self-publishing, Hybrid would never have seen the light of day either…lol. So, have it for under a £1...

So, please tell your friends about me, download HYBRID.  And if you like it, buy the second book in the Trilogy, COMPLICATIONS.  All the support I get will make me smile…and I LOVE to smile.

I have to admit that after being blown away by SKYFALL (read my review on ) BREAKING DAWN, PART 2, is going to struggle to compete.  I will go to see it on Friday… I see every journey through to the end.  Let’s hope it’s a good one…the trailer looked amazing!

Thanks for reading…and have a great week!

Vanessa :) xx

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


On Saturday I attended a "Family Fireworks Night" ... I have to say it was brilliant!

Yes, there was a bit of rain, but it was not torrential... it did get that way whilst we were driving

There was some excellent live music too and it was hosted by the excellent Isle of Wight Radio! Love it!

Anyway, I was quite impressed with my pictures so here you go!  Enjoy...

The Bonfire is lit...


A blazing inferno...

The Fireworks begin... shot I have EVER taken of a firework!
 Hope you all had a great time during Halloween, etc... lol

Vanessa :) xx

Thursday, 1 November 2012

November is a BIG month!

Today I have been very busy in the kitchen... I love to cook.  I find it de-stressing - I know, I’m a bit weird like  I made spinach & ricotta cannelloni for later and helped my kids cook… son made hamburgers, daughter cod fishcakes.  Why am I telling you this?  I don’t really know…I'll get to the point.

On the 16th November the last instalment of the Twilight saga will be released, Breaking Dawn, Part Two.

Now, I have to admit that even though I was (my obsession has lulled now…phew) a massive fan of the Twilight books, I have not been that impressed with the films.  I love all the soundtracks – they are amazing!  Nevertheless, I will be going to watch it to complete the journey, I do actually think that based on the plot and the special effects they might be able to pull off it could be the best one yet.  You never know…

As I have mentioned in the past, the reason I started to write a novel was because I was inspired by an interview of Stephanie Meyer (on the first Twilight movie).  She explained how she got the “Twilight” idea via a dream and because she was at home looking after her boys decided to put thought to paper.

Over the years I also came up with many ideas which I jotted down on the computer.  However, most of them evaporated because I never saw them as anything other than dreams or silly notions.  When I saw that interview a switch flicked in my brain.  I had permission to write – I was not being silly if I wrote.  Lots of people write, why not me?  Might I add at this point that I used to write all the time as a child and then teenager, but as with many other things, I lost confidence and became convinced I was no good.  I still think this but I’m glad a lot of people seem to disagree…lol.

My youngest daughter was a year old when I devoured the Twilight Saga.  I had time on my hands so I wrote my first novel, a chick flick type thing.  I bravely posted excerpts on Bookise and gave samples to a friend (Kay you are the best!).  And to my shock and surprise she actually liked it!  So, I shared with another friend (Kathyrn – another star) and she also liked it.  I had a lot to learn though… it took another year before I joined The Word Cloud and learnt about critique, prose, and the right things to do!

After another year of polishing I had finished HYBRID (although it morphed a lot over time…) and decided to publish.  I did try a few agents, and after getting what I call some “positive rejections,” I decided it was ready.  Then as you can read on this blog the journey began in earnest.

So, here we are…after two and a half years, the second book in the Trilogy is ready!  I don’t know what the right way to publish is yet, I am still learning.  All I can do is tell you all about it and hope you want to

“COMPLICATIONS” will be published on the 16TH NOVEMBER on AMAZON…as a tribute to Twilight (the reason my writing journey started…) 


I hope you will take a look...

I have created a blog solely for The Evolution Trilogy...

...where I have posted the "teaser" for Complications

Thanks for reading
Vanessa :) xx