Celebrations all round

Merry (almost) Christmas! Here in the UK, our celebrations will be far more muted this year as most of us are living under tight restrictions. Most households around where we live put their Christmas lights up a few weeks ago, as did we, breaking the habit of a lifetime. All of us are in need of cheer, aren’t we?

Anyway, talking of Celebrations (ooh, seamless segue!) the featured image at the start of this blog is what I consider the correct order of preference for Celebrations chocolates. The number one choice on the left—the Bounty—is controversial. Three members of my family agree—two don’t, one vociferously.

It seems people in the UK aren’t too happy with the Bounty Celebration either. (Bounty for those of you who don’t know is a chocolate covered coconutty sweet.) This year’s Celebrations advent calendar contained Bounties for three days in a row on 1, 2 and 3 December.

Ruining Christmas

They complained on Twitter, with one person saying: “I’m on day 4 of my celebrations advent calendar and someone tell me why i’ve gotten 3 bounties in a row??????? is this a sick joke or something @UKCelebrations. [sic]”

Other Tweets talked of Celebrations, owned by the Mars company, ruining Christmas after an already awful year.

Yes, of course there are much worse things going on in the world but sometimes I love it when people get worked up about silliness. And if they collectively want to gather up all those unwanted Bounties and send them to me, I’ll be delighted.

Wattys

In another celebratory moment, one of my other books got picked as a Wattys2020 winner, which obviously I’m pleased about. The Wattys are Wattpad’s annual writing prize. Wattpad is the largest online storytelling platform in the world and this year’s competition had more than 40,000 entries from 177 countries.

The prize was awarded for my vampire story Beautiful Biters. Project Over-Optimism, a trait I’m too often guilty of, started whispering in my ear straight away… This is it, Emma B! Netflix is coming for ya! I’ve calmed down considerably since then.

Anyway, this is the cover for the story, along with that nice winner badge on it…

And here is the blurb…

The first vampire attack happened on the way back from the hospital. My sister Rosie was four at the time. Miraculous it had taken that long…

Nineteen-year-old Maya has too much on her plate. Trying to protect her younger sister. Struggling with crushes on unsuitable guys.

Justin is a newly converted vampire, battling to resist the urge to kill and desperately worried about his brother, converted at the same time but AWOL ever since. If the authorities find him first, he’s toast.

When the two of them meet through the vampire Maya earmarks to help her with an exciting project aimed at making money, both are taken aback by the mutual attraction. First rule of vampire-human integration though…? You don’t go that far.

And while living in this bleak world poses its own hazards-not least because those in charge are too ready to ride rough shod over vampires and happy to accept backhanders, Maya and Justin still need to cope with the day to day stuff. Going to college, fighting with your mum, obsessing over the food you can’t eat, dealing with unpopularity and online trolls.

Champagne glasses picture courtesy of Pixabay.

#Wattys2018 Longlist

a copy of the book cover for the artist's history by Emma BairdA little good news this week…

If you didn’t know already, I’m Scottish (that’s not my news, BTW) and part of our national identity is self-deprecation and a loathing for boasting in any form. My English, Welsh and Irish chums would agree.

Blowing your own trumpet—just not Scottish stroke British. Let’s leave that to the Y… other nations*. Anyhoos, I awoke early on Saturday and checked my emails. There, nestling among the usual suspects—you’ve been picked for a Nectar/YouGov survey! Not-to-be-missed offer on wine/miracle skin cream/trainers/cat collars/anything you’ve ever bought online—was a message congratulating me on being longlisted for the #Wattys2018.

The #Wattys are annual awards on Wattpad, a reading and writing platform used by millions of people all over the world. There are 65 million writers on it (including established authors such as Margaret Atwood and Paulo Coelho). The popular folks publish stories that clock up millions of reads, its landed publishing deals for many and the platform even has its own studios.

I signed up originally because I wrote a book I’d aimed at the YA market, and Wattpad has a mainly teenage audience. I’ve lingered on the edges there ever since. My chapters get read by… ooh, three or four people, my all-time best 45 for one chapter.

Still, it’s good discipline. I use it to spur myself on. My Wattpad followers await their update! (All two of them.) Must write another chapter instead of giving up on this piece of rubbish. And it forces you to concentrate on chapters as individual things. When you write a book as whole, it’s tempting to write certain chapters carelessly—the joining chapters that are just there to add points or move the plot from A to B. When you upload chapter by chapter to a site, it’s important every chapter is as exciting and interesting as it can be.

My all-time most popular piece of writing with the most reads per chapter is a book I gave up on—Unnatural Appetites, billed as plus-size vampire erotica. Niche, huh? Hats off to other erotica writers. Seriously, how do you do it? I got bored. I don’t want to write about people’s bits—their heads interest me far more.

Back to the Wattys2018 long list. There was my little book with its meagre readership. Have a guess how many others are on that list… seven hundred plus. I patted myself on the back briefly and embarked on a ‘lower the expectations’ lecture:

Well, Emma! This is nice, isn’t it? Years of being on Wattpad and getting nowhere. Here is a little success. Little, mind! You know, you and the other seven hundred or so writers. If you’re to benefit from this, it’s the short list that counts. And we’re going to plant this thought firmly – EMMA, THOU ART NOT GOING TO MAKE THE SHORT LIST. Message received and understood?

A little pride punched its way through, however. That long list redefines any definition of the term, but there were 151,767 entrants to that competition. Arguably, the Wattys is the world’s biggest writing competition.

Go me?

Please add your own boasts to the comments. I’m serious. I’ll feel 100 percent better about myself if I’m not blowing the trumpet solo.

 

 

*Shoot. I fear the self-deprecation hides a raging superiority complex.

Friday Flash Fiction Competition – Still Open!

Remember, the Friday Flash Fiction Christmas writing competition is still open for entries. All you need to do is come up with an original 100-word story, enter it and bingo – you could win $50 USD (or local currency equivalent) or receive a highly commended award (no money, but hey…). The closing date is 20 December.

To enter, see the website fridayflashfiction.com and meanwhile, if you’re stuck for what a 100-word story looks like, here’s an example for you…

The Disappearance

Eddie frowned: his stories seemed to have vanished from the library. He’d checked the day before and all the stories had been there. The librarian had said they were among the most requested stories in the library.

He scratched his head, puzzled. Where were they?

Behind the romance section, a huddled figure smirked as she watched his search. Oh, Eddie, I know where your stories are! I can’t bear the comparison so I’ve wiped them off the face of this earth! Now, 50 Poses of Topless Regency Rake could claim its rightful spot at top of the most borrowed list.

Writer’s Block or Sheer Laziness – You Decide…

None of this is getting words written hmm?

None of this is getting words written hmm?

It appears, dear readers, that my declaration of triumph over the war on words (my battle to keep stacking those numbers up) was over confidence on my part. Misplaced optimism, I’m afraid.

Here I sit, in front of my laptop merrily emailing friends (in great detail; those poor souls surely thought there couldn’t possibly be 2,000 words to describe a lamb recipe I tried out recently), re-organising my folders and files – the joy of re-naming! – and reverting to previously noted tactic of finding long and complex recipes to try out.

In addition, the sun has shone its heart out in my part of the world this week. We have experienced temperatures in the mid-20s. The cat has collapsed in a soporific state in the coolest part of the house he can find and I count the hours, well minutes, until I can justifiably say to myself: “I’ve been on the flippin’ lap top for AGES. It’s time to remember all those important Primal Blueprint rules about getting out in the daylight and soaking up Vitamin D. My health demands it!”

Two hours of sunbathing per day. Sometimes I read, sometimes I daydream, sometimes I snooze.

In short, I have procrastinated, deliberated, added in countless other jobs and twiddled my thumbs rather than write a book. To be fair to myself, I have also applied for several freelancing jobs. Heck, I’ve even done a few of them and been PAID, which is always a bonus in the freelancing world.

I also – very important task – tutored Mama Highheelsandpinkglitter on the use of Windows 8. She now knows how to switch her laptop off.

But, but, but… There’s a book waiting to be finished. There’s a bottle of champagne chilling nicely. There’s even a, gulp, writing competition to enter (deadline 20 September). Time to kick procrastination back into touch.