Five Questions Monday

Jeff Vandermeer, author of The Steampunk User’s Manual, Wonderbook and The Steampunk Bible, answered our grueling Five Questions Monday quiz!

1.      How do you like your eggs in the morning?

Four in number. Scrambled. Yes, I am basically a komodo dragon.

2.      What’s your favourite joke?

What’s brown and sticky?

3.      What film character are you most like?

Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein…or maybe not.

4.      What is the first book you ever read?

The one I remember is a picture book of William Blake’s Tyger Burning Bright read to me by my parents.

5.       Would you rather be the villain or the hero?  

I would rather be the person tapping his toe impatiently waiting for those two jerks to finish showing off.

Thank you Jeff for taking our little quiz, we didn’t know komodo dragons were fans of scrambled eggs, I guess you learn something new everyday!


Top Five Tips for surviving National Novel Writing Month


National Novel Writing Month was born on the 1st July 1999 when Chris Baty and 21 friends each set out to write a novel, in ONE month. It sounds daft and frankly terrifying! But bear with me, it’s been going since we partied like it was 1999, in 1999, so there has to be something to it.

The first month is laid out in the introduction of Chris’s guide to participating in National Novel Writing Month; No Plot? No Problem! so I wont divulge to much here, but in Chris’s own words…

“The short version is that our novels, despite our questionable motives and pitiful experience, came out okay. Not great. But not horrible, either. And, more surprising than that, the writing process had been really, really fun.

And after the noveling ended on August 1, my sense of what was possible for myself, and those around me, was forever changed. If my friends and I could write passable novels in a month, I knew, anyone could do it.

Which is how the whole thing really got rolling.”

The years went by with, as you would expect, successes and failures but also “overly complicated T-shirt schemes” and Tony Danza…all leading us to the present day and the 16th year of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

You can read more about the history of Novel Writing Month on the website…

On this 16th Year chroniclebooks have brought out a revised, updated and expanded edition of No Plot? No Problem! complete with new tips, tricks and advice from 15 years of experience. We have pulled out our Top Five here to get you started.

Notebooks at the ready…

1. Find the time…

It is the reason those of us who dream of writing a novel don’t…

“I don’t have the time”

Chris lay’s out how to find the time with a beautifully simple system (there are even treats involved!) Finding Your Forgo-able with the Time Finder

Here is how it works: Before bed every night sit down and write down everything you did that day, i.e;

7.30-8.00 Got ready for work

8.00 – 8.45 Commute

8.45 – 9.00 Brought coffee

9.05 – 10.00 Breakfast & e-mails at my desk


Once you have completed your daily log reward yourself with a treat, go to sleep and repeat for one week. Once you have your week schedule underline every REQUIRED activity in red; basic hygiene requirements, what you need to do to keep your job, eating. Next mark the HIGHLY DESIRED in a different colour. If push came to shove you could do without these for a month, but would cause major stress or hardship, like getting your daily caffeine fix and attending birthday parties. Finally mark all the FORGO-ABLE activities that you can give up for a month. Like Facebook stalking, online shopping, TV watching and even recreational reading. Add-up how many hours you spend on average doing these FORGO-ABLE activities (be honest!) These are the hours you will over the next 30 days dedicate to your novel…

Now that you have the time and still have a job, a life, friends…

2. Turning Close Friends into Obligations…

A friendly pat on the back wont keep you writing…but fear is your new best friend.

Without a certain amount of terror pushing you towards your goal you will lost momentum and quit. But your friends and family can terrify you in  ways you never imagined…

i. Bragging; the more you brag about you novel the more expectation from friends and family.

ii. Put a bet on it; this could be money for forfeits . Think Ross in Friends encouraging Joey to write his play…

3. Don’t write withing view of a bed…

The lure of a nap is simply too great!

4. The Power of Headphones.

Headphones with or without music create a social buffer around you. They also dampen the outside world.

5. Keeping Beth from Bertha.

As you christen each of your characters write their names down on an easily accessed piece of paper or computer file. You will be amazed how easily the names “drift” and Mick becomes Mike…

So there are, your five tips to get you started! Chris has plenty more advice, sure to get your ready for your 30 day challenge, in his book and online on the National Novel Writing Month website.

Ready? Set, NOVEL!

Feel like joining in? There is still time to sign-up!

No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty £9.99 – Paperback – OUT NOW.