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Play with me? (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson


“Did ya see it?”

“See what?”

“The thing in the sky, the bright thing.”

Petey rolled his eyes so hard his head ached. His sister. Such a weirdo. “There was no―”

“There was! I see’d it.”

Petey peered up, but his eyesight wasn’t so good. His glasses were inside where they always were. “Nah, noth―Whoa!”

The orange grey sky became flashlight bright. “That’s, that’s…” Petey scampered for the front door. “Ma!”

“Told ya I see’d it.” Ava grinned. Maybe it was aliens. Maybe they’d have kids to play with. Sticking her finger in her mouth she toddled toward the flash.


This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word Count: 100



© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.


School visit – TCPS


I had sooooo much fun yesterday.

I went to visit the fabulous TCPS and chat about the Butterfly Stone, my writing, me and some techniques (see what I did there Stef) for making your writing something a reader cannot put down.

The writing group I met were fantastic! Full of terrific questions and ideas, and their writing… phew! blew me away.

Some things we talked about were

  • Chapter endings (Holy cliff hanger Batman!)
  • Show don’t tell (Argh, I’m still working on this one myself)
  • Making the reader care.
  • Editing (the never-ending circle!)
  • You don’t have to like everything you read. Or write for that matter!
  • The cat’s name is Toffee and she doesn’t like me

With permission from TCPS, below are some pictures from our super fun workshop.

Thank you to Stef and Lara for hosting me.



Below are some of the things I try to keep in mind when adding tension to a scene I am writing…


When creating a character, make us “care” about them. Let us know something they desperately want.

… and then do everything you can to STOP them getting it.


Immediate tension. Add in stakes… for example, a ticking clock.



  • Stakes raise the tension.
  • Stakes raise drama.
  • Stakes create emotion and make your heart race.
  • Stakes get the reader INVOLVED in the story.


Action scenes

  • Short sentences.
  • No long descriptions.
  • Describe physical reactions (racing heart, stomach swirling, sweaty palms).

But Action is easy tension.


Non-action can create tension too… it can be emotional.

  • Non-action can be anticipation. For example, searching for a lost pet or seeing a bully across the playground, or maybe standing in line to get on a roller-coaster.


Words and sentence structure.

The plot can move fast. Things happen fast. Short sentences. Sharp movements. Actions “snap, jerk, leap, bolt…”

OR it can move slowly with a lot of anticipation, by using longer sentences that give us more emotional impact. A character may be counting down the seconds until a balloon pops. Searching for a lost toy… knowing the baby will wake up at any moment.

BOTH can work to create tension in a story. Mix them up for a great story.



Write a short scene and include some of the above points.

  • Seeing a bully across the playground.
  • Breaking Nana’s prized decorative plate, and she’s walking in the door.
  • Scratching Dad’s car, and he comes home already in a bad mood.
  • It’s two minutes until the buzzer and the basketball comes your way.
  • You have a job interview, and get to the platform as your train leaves.

Character Agency

Character Agency

When I think of what drives a story forward, I think of plot (This happens, and then this and then that) or action (threat to world… stop the bad guy/girl) or emotion (I do/don’t want to feel this way anymore)

But ultimately, I think a story is all about the character’s motivation and “agency” (Yes I have had to learn this, and I am still learning this)

Who is driving the story?

What do they want?

What is stopping them from getting it?

What will happen when they do get it?

What will happen if they don’t get it?


  • Interview the character and ask all of the above questions.
  • Interview the characters and ask about the other characters in the story and how they get along.
  • Interview the character and ask… What do they want and importantly, why do they want it? Then keep asking why until you get annoying. Why do they want X? Why do they really want it? Why is it important to them? Why? Why? Why?
  • Write down what your character wants and then brainstorm a list of all the ways to stop them from getting it. (Yes this makes you a horrible person… Do it anyway… )


Bring out your inner 2 yr old and ask… “why” until you are blue in the face.

World Building

World Building


Yup, this is HARD. But every writer has to do it at some point. Whether it is thinking about the natural world on Earth right now, today, or writing something history based – either in the past or the future. Are there other planets, and do aliens exist? And have you thought about supernatural elements.

Every book has a world.

And every world in a book needs to be logical, to have consistent rules and just plain make sense. Even if your world is magical or otherworldly… there should be rules to your world that will help the reader believe.

You need truth. Does your book universe make sense?


I am still working on this. I always work on this, but there are a few tricks to help bring it into focus whether you are planning, plotting or jumping straight into writing.



  • Write an interview with a character from that planet/world and ask them questions about their world.
  • Write a character sheet for the universe/planet, asking some of the following…
    • Planet origins. (Was the planet settled by explorers? Did the inhabitants evolve from animals? Were they created/put there by aliens or gods?)
    • Are there islands/land masses/continents?
    • What is the weather like?
    • Are there different nations or one central government?
    • Is there a Prime Leader? (President/Minister/King/Emperor)
    • Is there a central religion or many, and what is it, what do people believe in?
    • How advanced are the people?
    • How do families work?
    • Do people work? Have careers?
    • How long do people live?
    • Have they ever had a world war?
    • Are they violent/peaceful/scientific
    • What are the schools like?
    • What are the homes like?
    • Is there plant life? What is it like?
    • Is there animal life? What is it like?
    • Physical attributes? (eyes, ears, nose, antenna, arms, legs, Teeth? Tail? Skeleton, senses?)
    • Technology level?
    • How do people travel from one place to another?
    • Do they have space travel? What are other worlds/planets like?
    • Speech? (Different languages? Can they communicate with each other and other worlds?)
    • Supernatural elements (Is there magic, creatures, mutations?)
    • What do the people value?
    • Any other questions – add as many as you like.
  • Think about your main character. Where do they come from? What do they believe in? What are they afraid of? Write a character profile for each character in your story. (This can help you to create your world – to think about the bigger picture).
  • If magic is involved… How do people use magic? Why do they use magic and are there rules to the use of magic? Who can use it? How do they learn to use it? How does society work? How does magic break/not work/stop working?
  • If the supernatural is involved… How are creatures created? What sustains them? Do they believe in something or someone? How do families work? How does society work? How do Supers die/lose their abilities?

I’m sure there are many more tricks or activities you might use. (I’d love to know what they are, if you feel inclined to share).

Cover Reveal – White Fire


I’m very excited to be able to finally share this with everyone.

I have a little independent book coming out on the 14th January 2019 called White Fire.


Here we go…


Isn’t it amazing? I’m so excited for this one.

Stay tuned for information about the release, pre-orders and more

If you want to know what White Fire is about. Click here



In her mind she could fly (Friday Fictioneers)



The image was a splash of icy water on her face. God, that’s exactly how she felt. Caged, trapped, unable to see a way out. Not enough financial freedom to escape. How could she make the choice of her heart?


Instead, she felt bloodied and bruised. Like she’d been in a war.

Ha! A war of silence.

Of loneliness.

Of Isolation.

She was choiceless.


But her mind, her mind was a unicorn that could not be controlled. She could go where she wanted. Create her own world. Do anything and everything. Safe. In her mind she could be free.



This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

Word Count: 100

© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

I did an interview with MAA

Hi there all

I did an interview with MAA and it is now live

You can read it at the below link (if you want to learn a little bit more about me and my writing process)


Midnight struck and the coach became a pumpkin (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll


“Mum! Mum… What’s that?”

“Oh, um. That’s a foot, Darling.”

“Someone’s foot? Who does it belong to?”

A glance around showed a relatively empty city square. Too early for office lunch crowds, the air bit at their throats and made their noses drip. “Well, uh… Cinderfella of course.”

“Who?” Giant eyes grew rounder.

“Poor Cinderfella. His fairy godmother helped him get to the ball but alas midnight came, and he had to leave the Princess behind…”

“Will she find him, Mum?”

“I’m sure the Princess will hunt forever and ever to find him.”

“Princesses are awesome.”

“You’re so right, Jimmy.”



This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word Count: 100



© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne) by Myke Cole

Review: The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne) by Myke Cole

About the Book

Myke Cole, star of CBS’s Hunted and author of the Shadow Ops series, debuts the Sacred Throne epic fantasy trilogy with The Armored Saint, a story of religious tyrants, arcane war-machines, and underground resistance that will enthrall epic fantasy readers of all ages.

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

My thoughts

I had heard so much about this book that I opened it with a little trepidation… how could it live up to the hype?

It does, absolutely.

Wow, I was sucked right into this fantasy world, an old world of strict religious doctrine and machines made by smithy “tinkers”, of warrior pilgrims and poor country folk just trying to live a good life. Heloise, the main character, is a simple girl with forbidden desires and a mouth (and will) that keeps getting her into trouble. The harsh, unforgiving world author Myke Cole has created is emotionally fraught with trauma. Cole paints vivid pictures that keep you transfixed to the page (and nearly made me miss my train stop twice). I don’t think I will forget the Knitting for a long time, let alone that final battle.

If you like a great fantasy, shiny armor, deep and inventive world building and characters who may seem simple but are far from it then you should read this book. I am very much looking forward to book two.

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