Game of Quarters

In his book 500 Ways to be a Better Writer, Chuck Wendig recommends using a four act narrative instead of a three act one. I’ve been thinking how I can apply this to GENESIS DUSK and realised that the story naturally falls into four parts.

Act One: Ella’s relationship with Corin
The first part of the novel is focused on Ella learning to trust Corin, and their friendship developing into a romance despite the odds against it. This climaxes on Parcae, where Ella tells him that she loves him.

Act Two: The fallout from the attack
The alien attack on Parcae is the first pivotal point, where the novel shifts from being solely about the Ella/Corin relationship to being about surviving an alien invasion. With the command at Genesis gone, their roles mean they both have to look beyond themselves and at their wider responsibilities.

Act Three: Genesis
The focus here is back on Ella alone, as those responsibilities mean having to take command. She grows up a lot in this section. Another pivotal point serves as the act’s cliffhanger. No, I’m not telling you. Spoilers, sweeties. :)

Act Four: Losers and Winners
The battle for Genesis is the main theme of this section. Since it is a war, there are losses both personal and on the wider scale. Scars are left on Ella and Corin, one of which derails a long-term plan. The latter half of this act is about coming to terms with what’s happened and moving on.

Figuring this out has been hugely helpful. I’m still working on getting a finished manuscript, but when it comes to the next editing pass, I can divide the novel into these parts. That focus means ensuring there’s a rise and fall in each section, with the tension wracking up overall.

This is where GENESIS DUSK stands right now:ROW80

  • finish the scene on Parcae – DONE
  • write the scenes where Corin takes command – DONE
  • go through the outline and fill out the half-finished scenes – I’ve rewritten seven scenes over five chapters. I have 16 chapters left to battle through. >.<

I’m on 11,500 words of my 20K goal for August. I definitely over-estimated how much actual writing I could get done between editing and having the kids at home. But it’s better than nothing, and the novel is tighter now than it was at the start of the month.

The SFR Brigade Presents #03

Welcome to the next of my SFR Brigade Presents snippets. Still with GENESIS DUSK, but skipping ahead to Ella’s arrival at the titular space station. Where all is not well…

I’d seen the specifications of Genesis, the holographic schematics, and historical records. None of those prepared me for the reality of station. It was massive. A central cylinder supported three rings, which in turn supported the docking piers. Lights shone along their lengths, illuminating the entire structure and reflecting off its metalwork, making it glitter against the black backdrop of space.

However, apart from its steady spin, there was no movement. There should have been ships coming and going, but instead there was a stillness that wound my stomach into knots of foreboding. And as the Obsidian cruised closer, there were signs that the station had been involved in a violent attack. One pier had broken halfway along, its jagged edges blackened. Further scorches marred the rings. Debris surrounded the station, caught in the gravity created by its rotation.

“Slow to mark two,” Corin ordered. “And raise forward shields.”

The Obsidian crept towards the station. A grim silence hung over the bridge crew. I gripped the edge of the console and tried not to look too closely at what drifted past the viewscreen. Not that the comms panel was much to look at – there was no radio contact within the station, no external. There wasn’t even a distress signal being transmitted.

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On Depression

Today, the world is in mourning. Depression and addiction, two insidious evils, have conspired to take the life of actor and comedian Robin Williams. I cried when I read the news, my heart aching for what he must have been feeling, for the family he left behind. Then I got angry. I am going to stand on my desk and cry out.


Depression is a real thing. It does not discriminate against those it attacks. Rich and poor, white and black, male, female, whatever you choose to identify as – it can hit you. And you cannot just shake it off. Because often there is no reason for it. It is like a mental cancer that gets inside and eats away at your happiness, at your hopes and dreams. But it is not sudden. It is usually a slow slide into darkness – so slow that sometimes you’ve no idea how deep you were in the shadows until you come stumbling out into the light.

The sad thing about Robin Williams is that the things he turned to in order to escape are things that just help drag you down further. This is not a condemnation, just a statement of fact. Alcohol and recreational drugs do not help against depression. Sometimes prescribed drugs do not help.

Sometimes therapy does not help.

Nor does the love of family and friends.

Sometimes the darkness is just too dark.

However I want to shine a light for everyone in the shadows right now. There are numbers you can ring, websites you can go on. This is the list I have:

Samaritans – 08457 90 90 90

Rethink Mental Illness – 0300 5000 927

Sane – 0845 767 8000

Childline – 0800 1111

YoungMinds – 0808 802 5544 (parents’ helpline)

Black Dog Tribe

Depression Alliance

Inspirited Minds




If you know of any support, list it/them in the comments. Let’s stand together.

The SFR Brigade Presents #02

Welcome back to my blog and SFR Brigade Presents snippets!

I’m continuing to share from GENESIS DUSK. Last week, Sue Ann asked about whether Ella and Corin had acknowledged their attraction. I’m going to let this snippet answer that question. :D

His grin was white in the darkness, then it tempered to a searching look. “Did it matter?”

I couldn’t speak for the lump in my throat. Closing my eyes, I rested my forehead against his chest, and waited for the pain to pass. “Yes,” I managed, voice horse. “I didn’t think it being over would, until I believed it was a possibility. Stars, Corin, I don’t… I can’t.” I gripped his shirt tighter, pressed in closer. My throat ached, my eyes stung, and I hated him as much as I loved him.

I told him as much, and he laughed. Then he tilted my head up and his gaze bored into mine. “You love me?”

Caught by those brown eyes that seemed to see so much, I couldn’t lie. Didn’t even want to. “Yes,” I breathed. His pupils flared and a hungry look flashed across his face. My body responded, nipples pebbling and my sex throbbing. I curled one arm around his neck and breathed his name against his lips.

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A Little Further Along

August started on a rather random note – accompanying hubs and his friend to a motorcycle shop, I managed to fall in love with a little 125cc. I made some inquiries and, half an hour later, walked out the shop in a daze, having part-exchanged my heavy Hyosung and passed the finance for a Honley. I’ve another ten days or so before I can pick it up, the bike being so new that it needs registering, but I’m a very happy bunny.

ROW80On to the writing.

I’m not doing loads, but rather making steady progress. I’ve deleted the now unnecessary scenes from GENESIS DUSK and marked the ones that need rewriting. The novel is now plotted all the way to the end.

So to put that into the goals I specified last time:

  • finish the scene on Parcae – I’ve done one and am now writing the alien attack
  • write the scenes where Corin takes command – still to do
  • go through the outline and fill out the half-finished scenes – have gone through the outline and identified the ones that need rewriting

My word goal for August is 20,000 words, reflecting the fact I’m mostly editing and rewriting, and I’ve got 2,233 towards that. It’s more important (to me) that I whip GENESIS DUSK into some semblance of order, though.

On Community

communityWhen I first ventured online in 1999, I was living in North Manchester with two young children. My husband was doing 12 hour shifts; four days on, four days off. As I wasn’t terribly sociable, I tended to stay inside and on the computer. I found a Stargate group and joined. That was the first community I became a part of, one that I still remember with great fondness.

Over the years, I’ve joined (and left) groups that reflected my interests. In 2007, I tried and failed NaNo, but in doing so found out about a similar challenge running in January. I joined the JanNo forum, won the contest, and made some very good friends. Together we built our own community – Stringing Words.

Online communities are extremely important to me. I’m not sociable, though if you met me at a con, you might struggle to believe that. But I’m a different person when I’m with people who share my passions. Online I can be that person every day. I can be completely myself. The communities I’ve found have encouraged me in my writing and grown me as a person. I’ve made friends who are very dear to me, some of whom I consider like family.

#Amwriting was the first Twitter community I joined. It’s now five years old, which is a huge achievement and one I’m honoured to have been a part of. I’d like to thank Johanna for creating a community that is so welcoming, to all the amwriters for being so supportive. I know that the website is now in archive, but the hashtag continues. I hope it always will do.