Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas Plot Bunny Exchange

This December my Powered By Plot Bunny friends and I decided to do a little 250-word drabble Christmas Plot Bunny exchange. Each of us provided 3 prompts and got assigned three in turn. The task: include some/all of said prompts/plot elements and write a 250 word story. 

My prompts:

Topic - something has been or must be hidden
Setting - a church
Character - an emo kid
If there's romance I prefer m/m thing
250 word maximum!

Here's what I came up with: 



I grunted as a slender dark-haired person crashed into me. I grabbed...his...arms to keep both of us upright, then pushed away a little so I could look at who I’d caught.

“I claim Sanctuary,” he repeated, slowly catching his breath.


“Why?” I asked, letting my hands run up and down his arms before I let go. The most delicious chocolate-brown, kohl-lined eyes blinked up at me.

“Why?” My pretty little catch frowned. The little wrinkle between his finely drawn black eyebrows was adorable. “You’re a priest, this is a church, you have to give me sanctuary.”

I chuckled and pulled him further into the room.

“Pet, have a look around. This hasn’t been a church in years.”

I watched his head swing back and forth as he studied the waiting room chairs, the bright front desk and the pictures of my work on the wall.

“You aren’t a priest!”

I crossed my arms and raised an eyebrow. “I never said I was.”

He kept staring, looking me up and down as if he only really saw me now. I had quite a time hiding the shudder that rolled over me. If he saw what he was doing to my jeans, fine, but I was not letting him know how much those puppy-dog eyes made me sweat.

“No priest?” The tip of his pink tongue peeked out between his lips before he smiled. 

“Good,” he said as he stretched up to kiss me.


There you go, that's it.

Let me tell you, writing a story in 250 words (exactly, btw) was REALLY HARD for me. I hope I haven't cut too much for it to still make sense...

Hope you liked it, 


Sunday, 26 December 2010

Schizophrenia, your name is Author

First of all:

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you had a great day, lots of presents and a cosy family get-together and all that. 

So, I'm sitting here at my computer today and I've obviously got too much time on my hands... You see, I've just created a Facebook Account (not page, I already had that...see sidebar) for myself in my pen name persona. 

In case you didn't realize, Tessa Conte is not in fact my real name. 


Here it is: 

Author Tessa Conte | Create your badge

*shifts around in chair*

I know, I know, I'm weird. So if Tessa Conte now asks to be your friend on FB, that'll be moi. If some other strange person from Austria asks to be your friend, that's probably me, too, in my real persona.

So I'm weird, so sue me.

I guess I have too active an imagination.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Twisted Christmas Fairytale Blogfest

It's been a while since I took part in a blogfest...finally I have time for one! YAY!

This one's by Francine over at Romancing the Blog. Here's what she said about it...

So, with this blogfest, as a writer you have the opportunity to let rip with a twisted fairy tale!
How you kidnap the Seven Dwarves, turn Cinderella into a vampire, blow up Aladdin's Cave, shoot the fairy off the Christmas tree, or assassinate Santa, is entirely up to you. 

All genre catered for - preferably 700 word count, no more than 1,000 tops!

No prizes for this blogfest - it's purely for Seasonal Funtime! 

The deadline is 18th for posting up your contribution, but please allow until the 20th for replies/comments.
It's the 18th today, and I have no story yet, but I've decided to take part anyhow and just write write write... I'm not quite happy with the outcome, but since it's already late afternoon, I'm posting it anyhow.


Once upon a time, there was a king and queen who waited years and years to have a child. They prayed and prayed, and late in the queen’s life, they were blessed with a daughter, beautiful and fair. To celebrate their newborn Joy, a feast was given for all the people in the kingdom to join them in their happiness. Long was the list of guests, and long the high table for those closest to the king and queen’s heart. 
The feast was a success, or so they thought, because the bad news only came years later. 
Bad fairies know how to hold a grudge, you see, and dark fairy queens know it better than most. 
Which is why, Joy thought, I’m standing here in a castle full of sleeping people with an unconscious fool at my feet. 
She prodded him with her tiny slippered foot. Nothing. 
She did it again, less gently this time. Not even a groan, though she’d chosen a spot that was supposed to be particularly sensitive. 
Stupid man. Really, what sane sword-toting prince was stupid enough to prick himself on the needle of a spinning wheel? Every little girl knew better, particularly if said girl grew up in the Rose Kingdom, spoon-fed the Dark Queen’s curse with her childhood porridge. 
What an idiot. 
And now she was stuck. Right in the middle of a castle full of magically unconscious people, surrounded by a bramble thicket twenty feet wide. 
It really wasn’t funny. She kicked the unfortunate prince once more for good measure. 
Something plopped into existence right in front of her, and a tiny little man dressed all in blue, complete with blue wings, hovered amidst a rain of sparkles. He took a sip from a diminutive silver flask and banged a fist against his chest. 
“You’s the princess, right?” He burped, a tiny burp but dear gods he was loud. The princess nodded. “Right. So we’s supposed to help you.” 
“We?” the princess asked. Two more plops, two more diminutive men, one in a pink shirt and jeans, the other in an eye-poppingly bright yellow suit. 
“Oh,” the princess said, staring. Three fairies. Bright ones, yes, but a fairy was at fault for this entire mess so she wasn’t about to be fooled. She frowned at them. “What do you want?” 
“We are supposed to protect the princess because the dark queen put a curse on her and her curses are always dangerous and it was foretold that during this moon something would happen and we wanted to be here and make sure it doesn’t and...” the pink man stopped talking when he saw the prince lying at Joy’s feet. “Oh.” 
Joy rolled her eyes, stepped over the prince and walked towards the armory. There was a secret passage there. Maybe the tunnel led far enough away to pass under all those thorns. It was worth a try. If not, there were always the swords. Joy had never been allowed to touch one, but surely it couldn’t be so hard to hack at a few bushes with it? 
She took the steps two at a time on the way down. 
“WAIT!” A pink blur appeared before her, stopping her in her tracks. 
“Now what?” 
“You just have to kiss him, you know? To make them wake up?” 
Joy looked back up the stairs. “Kiss him?” She made a face. “Are you serious?” 
Three tiny heads nodded emphatically, then the blue one buzzed off. Joy thought she could hear retching from behind a flowerpot but surely that was just her imagination. 
“I kiss him then everything goes back to normal?” 
The two remaining blots of colour nodded. Joy squared her shoulders. “All right.” It was worth a try, at least. She could always go down the stairs after, if it didn’t work. 
She stopped again at the top of the stairs. “What exactly are the rules here? Do I have to kiss him or just kiss someone?” 
Pink blinked. “’s supposed to be about true love.” He flew closer until the wind from his wings made Joy close her eyes. “Isn’t that your true love? He’s a prince, isn’t he?” 
“He’s a fool is what he is!” Joy shouted and ran down the stairs, not to the armory but towards the guard’s barracks. Peter had just finished his shift when the prince came along. He should be there somewhere. 
She found him on his pallet at the back of the barracks, still in uniform. He must have passed out in the middle of taking off his boots. Joy threw herself onto the pallet next to him, snuggling in. Her Peter had always been perfect for snuggling. She leaned over his face, smiling down on his sleep-slack features. 
Not again. “What is it this time?” Joy asked the tiny pink fairy, not taking her eyes off Peter. 
“If you don’t kiss a prince, nobody but the one you kiss will wake up!” 
“Perfect,” she said. They’d had to be careful, ever so careful, not to be caught. A princess, heir to her kingdom, and a common guard with little to no chance of ever becoming an officer? It just wouldn’t do. 
She leaned down and kissed her unprincely lover, the rest of the castle be damned. She’d have to remember to send the dark queen a thank you letter. 


I hope you liked it, now let me know what you think and then off with you to read the other entries HERE!

If you want to read another one of my twisted fairy tales, this one for a different blogfest, go HERE

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Fiction Friday #2 - Rite by Tad Williams

Rite: Short Work by Tad Williams

Rite: Short Work
Click for Amazon Link

Genre:                   Fantasy/Sci-Fi Short Stories

Published (date):  April 22, 2008

Published (by):    Far Territories

I read:                   paperback

Blurb (as per book):

Though best known for his epic series, Tad Williams is also an accomplished practitioner of the short form. Rite: Short Work gives ample evidence of this, as it contains a knock-out novella later expanded to novel lenght ("Child of an Ancient City"), riffs on the great fantasist Michael Moorcock ("The Author at the End of Time", "Go Ask Elric"), along with excursions into some of his most popular creations and beyond.  

Characters, Setting & Plot: 

Well, now. There I go inventing this new review system for myself, and the second book I review really doesn't fit in. Rite is a collection of short stories/novellas, interspersed with comments and explanations and details of Tad Williams' thought processes. 

Friday, 3 December 2010

Friday Fiction #1 - CassaStar by Alex J Cavanaugh

Hello my dearies,


Today is the first day of my new attempted Schedule, which makes this....

Like my little button? Not sure I'll manage keeping up with the schedule yet, but here goes! Today (i.e. Friday) shall be a day for reviews of all sorts.

Or shall I make it a day for fiction writing instead? *scratches head*

Hmm. OK I think I'll make it reviews for now.

During the NaNoWriMo Blur that was November, I also had the privilege of reading Alex J Cavanaugh's CassaStar. I've been meaning to do a review of that so here goes... (I'm also taking this opportunity to introduce a new layout for my reviews, of which I think there'll be more in the future).


(click for Amazon page)

CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Genre:       Science Fiction

Published (date): October 2010

Published (by): Dancing Lemur Press LLC

I read:   Kindle e-book version

Blurb (as per Amazon): 

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship… Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard. Much to Byron’s chagrin the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential. As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit? 


The MC here is Byron, a headstrong, prideful young pilot with more talent for flying than he has for interpersonal relations. We don't meet him straight away, though. The book starts with a prologue (yes a prologue, and if there ever was a book that shows prologues have a purpose it's this one), an unknown fighter pilot completing dangerous, deadly manouvers. This isn't our MC, but it does lead the reader smoothily into the mind of an overly confident young figher pilot, as well as introducing the technique of flying these ships, the Cosbolts. 

The next person we meet is Bassa, an instructor at Guaard, where the elite pilots and navigators are trained. Through him, we first hear of Byron. The instructor is going through the young pilot's somewhat spotty record. Bassa is no longer the youngest, but still top in his field, one of the best - if not the best - navitator in the fleet. he chose to instruct rather than continue flying for very personal reasons, reasons he is reminded of again and again by Byron's attitude and actions. 

Byron first makes a personal appearance when he visits his sister before going to Guaard. The reader learns of his disturbed relationship with his sister, providing insights into the young pilot's psyche. Only then does he ship off to Guaard, where even his first role-call makes it clear that this will be no easy student to teach.

On the way there, the reader is introduced to Trindel, Byron's somewhat hyperactive navigator. The young pilot's tolerance of Trindel's idiosynchracies adds some very interesting fascets to Byron's character. 


Cavanaugh knows how to weave a plot that holds the reader's attention, that much is certain. Starting with the well-placed prologue that puts the reader in just the right frame of mind for the story, every scene is perfectly placed to hold tension and move the story onwards. The characters are introduced in such a way as to involve the reader, make them sympathise with both Bassa and Byron, letting them root for the 'heroes' of the story. 

The development of the plot is well-timed, the first aim being Byron's graduation at Guaard, then moving on to him getting a good placement, then what was mere training becomes deadly serious and Bassa and Byron have to work together to survive. 

I read the book in one sitting, I just couldn't put it down. I kept thinking, oh, I'll just read until this problem is this wait what do they do now...ahhhhh! (the good sort of aaaah!)


This is a sci-fi novel, so the setting is, as one might expect (well, as I expected) a stellar one, in an age of space travel and space battles. There is (thank you Alex) no mention of a warp drive but rather a navigational computer that reminded me of the NavCom they use in the Wing Commander book(s) (you might know the movie with Freddie Prince Jr), a technology that lets the Cosbolt ships 'jump' in space (not in time), giving them an unparalleled advantage in any dogfight. 

The whole world is well set up, no long sermons some authors use to inform the reader but a gradual introduction into the world of CassaStar, so sublte at times you (or maybe that's just me) don't even realize there was an explanation - the reader intuitively knows what to think. Now, I have to add here that I have read a fair amount of sci-fi novels and it might be easier for me to 'fall into the story'. I don't know how this would appear to a sci-fi novice. 

Review Summary:

CassaStar is a smoothly written, well thought out story with engaging characters the reader can sympathise with - and be exasperated with at times - pulling him into the book. The up and down of tension is perfectly choreographed to hold interest and the personal development of the main characters - and they definately both have their issues - is significant. For them, life-changing, for the reader, satisfying. 

Alltogether an excellent debut novel in classic sci-fi style. Well done, Alex! 

You can find Alex on his blog HERE.


9 out of 10 cupcakes

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Post-Nano blur and The Hating Game Splash


I made it!!! 

Only just, but I managed the requisite 50.000 words in 30 days. What a rush! And what an adventure! 

And, let me tell you, it was an excruciatingly painful experience of extreme creativity and typing frenzy. The outcome is dubious, no question. To the NaNo-Doubters out there, no, I will not print out my...ehm..."manuscript" and send it to the next editor/agent/publisher on my list. I wouldn't do that to anyone. I also refuse to waste paper on what is clearly a very very first draft. 

An incomplete one at that. I have a collection of scenes, but no cohesive story. Yet. I still like my characters (though they have transformed, over the last 30 days, into completely different people than I had imagined at first), so I don't want to relegate them to my "forgitabboutit" box of unfinished things and random ideas. 

I can always do that later. 

So now I'm done with NaNo. 





ok now what? 


I've also moved house now (well mostly). 



So..... I'm back to the blogging life! Sorry I've been 'absent' the last month!! I'm back now, promise! Right now I'm getting prepared for my Outside the Box-Blogontest... if you haven't read about it yet, what are you waiting for? You have until Dec 5th to enter, and there's great prizes !! 

For info on the contest, click HERE

To see the prizes, click HERE

If you sign up, don't forget to sign up with the DIRECT LINK to your entry! 

And if you're not entering, don't forget you can VOTE on the winner from a shortlist of 5 entries on Dec 7th!! 

OK, that's all for today, I'll be back tomorrow...probably with a review, but we'll see.


Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.

Coming soon in paperback.  Keep up with the latest at


When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Saturday, 2 October 2010

They're people, too! Honestly!

Today's the day of my second BLOGFEST! YAY! 

For those of you who don't know about it yet, you can find the rules HERE.
(you can also still join till midnight tonight, London time)
(that's London, UK)
(if you're looking for the Bad News entry, see below)

First of all, let me thank you for joining in the fun and/or popping in to see what everyone (and me) got up to! I hope you enjoy the fruits of our imaginative labour. Don't forget to read as many entries as you can and give everyone some comment love (and no, taking part is not a prerequisite to commenting so feel free!). 

I plan to have read all entries by Sunday night, shall be employed thereafter and the winner of Seven Steps on the Writer's Path will be announced on Monday! 

Now to get to the writerly's my story (exactly 500 words btw)! Enjoy!

ps. I won't tell you in advance just what it is I'm personifying here...can you tell?


One of my all-time favourite things is sitting down in a coffee shop with a huge mug of coffee, watching the hustle and bustle of town life all around me. It was noon by the time I got to my usual spot that day and I found it already taken. 
Thankfully it took only the blink of an eye for the unkempt student currently camping out there to remember he was late for lectures. He ran off, leaving papers behind like breadcrumbs, and I fell into the chair to settle in for the day. 
I grabbed my current book from my messenger bag - for some reason people were more wary of me if I just sat there than if I had a book in my hand - and pretended to start the third chapter. There was a young mother right in front of me, wrestling with her brat whilst venting her sorrows to the obviously unmarried friend sitting across from her. 
I watched the friend’s face, the hint of wrinkles around her eyes, the flutter of her eyelashes. I could see her break out in goosebumps as a cold draft swept by her. She listened to her friend and started to worry, started to wonder why she wasn’t married yet, why she didn’t have a child, if she’d ever have one. 

I saw her realize that her friends marriage wasn’t even close to ideal, nowhere near the fairy tale she’d thought it might be, and started to stress about how that would probably be her life soon, how she’d have to marry the next potential suitor just to beat the biological clock, to have a child she could then fret and worry some more about. I saw her eyes go glassy with tears and watched her jump up, make a flimsy excuse to her friend and run off to cry in the toilets. 
The young mom sat there staring at the seat her friend had used, absently putting down the little boy in her arms. She picked up her non-fat latte and then put it down again quickly to grab an old napkin from her son’s pudgy fist before he could stick it in his mouth. I could see her thinking of all the horrid diseases he might catch if he did something like that, if he picked up a stray bit of rubbish and actually touched it to his mouth, never mind chewing it, swallowing it. She picked the squirming kid up again. 

He was a cute little thing. I could see he had his mom’s eyes, and what was probably the father’s nose. Even as it scrunched up with a fearful cry, it was a cute little face he had. The mom felt his forehead and gasped, then packed her stuff and hurried towards the pediatrician’s office around the corner. 
It didn’t take long before someone else took her place, and I watched them think, watched them worry, watched them run off in panic. 
I really do love sitting in coffee shops.


So, what did you think of that? Could you recognize Fear (or Worry, as the case may be)? Highly contagious, he is... ; )

Don't forget to check out the other entries and let them know what you think, too! 

Friday, 1 October 2010

Bad News Blogfest

Because it's my own blogfest tomorrow, I'm posting this here a little early.

I'm afraid I've already posted this story once before (for Donna Hole's Milestone Blogfest), but it really sort of fit the theme so I'm reposting it, I hope you'll forgive me! 

Merciful gods, it was way to early to get up. 
“Beri, my boy, wake up. Come on!” 
I turned away from the voice and pulled the blanked over my head so the laughter that followed was muffled. I heard someone moving from next to the bed to somewhere close bye. 
“Beri, if you don’t get up, I’ll dump this on you.” I resisted the urge to look, but only just. 
Big mistake. 
A bucket of ice-cold water hit me right where my face was buried under the blanket. I jumped up to stand on the bed and threw my now sopping pillow at Cal. 
He just ducked the pillow and laughed at me, shaking the last of the water out of the bucket. 
“That’s Prince Bastard, sweet-cheeks,” he said. “Come on, get dressed, we need to go!” 
I groaned and flopped back onto the wet bed. It wasn’t too bad, not without the wet pillow. 
“Come back to bed, Cal. I’m sure we still have a bottle of that green liquor lying around. I’ll send someone for spoons and sugar. We can celebrate early.” 
My cheerful prince just shook his head, white hair flying, and chucked a bunch of clothes at me. 
“Absinthe? In the morning? You’re out of your mind. We’ll celebrate after, like we’re supposed to.” 
“All right, all right.” I rolled out of bed and saved the clothes from the wet spot. They were Cal’s spare set of formals. “Where are mine?” 
Cal shrugged. “Couldn’t find them.” 
Great. The King was already pissed off at me and now I had to show up to Cal’s formal Bloodletting Ceremony wearing Cal’s clothes. That would go down like moonshine when you were expecting port. 
The King was pissed, alright. I held my place like a good little soldier, one step back and to the left of Callean, eyes a spot somewhere above my prince’s shoulders, but I could feel the dagger stares boring into me. Fair enough, I guess. With my clothes a slightly paler echo of his, I must have looked more like Cal’s brother than ever. 
His majesty had made it abundantly clear that I was not his son, and that I should never, ever, consider pretending such. 
Rumors, however, weren’t quenched that easily. 
I watched the priests shuffle too and fro, muttering unintelligible things in a long forgotten language. The High Priest walked up to the king, his blade gleaming like liquid fire in the torches’ light. Two drops of the king’s blood made the Northern Stone glow a blinding blue-tinged white. 
We all bowed down low to show our respect for his majesty’s pure blood, then waited for some more weird mutterings until finally they called Callean up to the Stone. Again, the High Priest’s blade flashed in the light. Once more, royal blood turned the grey Stone into the world’s heaviest lantern, covering all of us with its eery blueish light. 
Now Callean was officially recognized as a true-blooded Northerner - or as true as they got these days, since nobody had turned the stone white in centuries. Now he was the next-in-line for the Northern Throne. 
We could all go and celebrate at last. 
Tomorrow we’d be moving from Cal’s childhood room into the secondary Royal Apartments at the top of the keep. He, and by extension, I, would finally have servants to take care of things like clothes and hauling bath water. I was so busy dreaming up all the things we could get up to in the royal apartments - which included a library, a study, a bathing chamber, a dressing room, a receiving room, a games room and no less than three bedrooms - that I didn’t even notice the priests’ mumble-jumble mutterings had stopped and the only people left in the Stone Room were the High Priest with his minions, the King and my prince. 
I didn’t really notice that, either, until the king was right in front of me, hand fisted and arm pulled back. I had no time to react as his fist, signet ring and all, crashed into my jaw. It sent me flying to the floor. Blood spattered onto the tiles. I saw the pretty red polkadot patterns it formed on the white marble floor as I waited for my head to stop spinning. 
“Father! What are you doing?” Cal had jumped between the king and myself, shielding me as I was supposed to shield him. 
“You dare? You dare come here, dressed like your master, desecrating this most holy of days?” 
I knew he was going to say that. I should have made an effort to find my own uniform this morning. I watched the king turn away from Cal and me, back towards the Stone and the throne behind it. 
“Father, I told him to wear my clothes,” Cal said, but I don’t think his father heard him. The king was breathing hard and I watched red skin creep up his neck and across his face until he looked like he’d spent too much time in the sun.
“So many years, you’ve been a thorn in my side, a weight around my son’s neck. You make them doubt me, you, a peasant!” The king was shouting now. 
“Now, your majesty, no harm was done,” the High Priest said, making calming gestures that did little good. The king swayed and was visibly struggling to breathe. He put out his right hand to stop himself from falling. The palm hit the Stone, and a blinding light appeared, startling a scream from one of the priestlings. 
He’d hit me with that hand, made me bleed.  
“No,” I said, but I don’t think they heard me. Cal was staring at me. The King was staring at me. The monks were staring at me. Only the High Priest was staring at Cal, not me. 
Cal, who’s blood turned the Stone pale blue when mine got white. 


There! Now tell me what you think of Beri, then run over to Francine's blog to check out all the other entries! 

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