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?

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