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Last year, as some of you remember, my theme for the Blogging From A to Z Challenge was Pandora’s Tacklebox: The Worst Romance Novel Ever Written In 26 Days. I showed everyone who showed up for the challenge how NOT to write, through the adventures of manly billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle and his mermaid lover Dropsy Velvet.

Many of you got a laugh out of this, and it’s been brought up over and over during my theme reveal for this year. Some of you suggested I should put Pandora’s Tacklebox in e-book format for distribution, and so guess what I went and did?

PANDORA’S TACKLEBOX IS NOW AN E-BOOK! Ahem, that is, a FREE e-book (I wouldn’t try to charge you good people for this nonsense). You can download it in tons of different formats on Smashwords!

Let me teach you how NOT to write a book…

Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever…

——-

This book was originally a collection of blog posts that made up my theme for the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge, which lasts 26 days and covers each letter of the alphabet. My hoped-for goal, gentle readers and writers, is to teach you how not to write a book. From awful dialog to awkward foreshadowing, cartoonish villains and even more cartoonish heroes, useless details, too many details, plot that goes nowhere, and metaphor-laced drivel, there will be something to offend even the most seasoned writer/agent/editor/beta reader/long-suffering friend of an author who thinks they’ve seen it all. Take notes, learn, discuss, and most importantly–laugh.

GET IT FREE AT SMASHWORDS!

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For this year’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I came up with the worst romance novel ever written in 26 days. Pandora’s Tacklebox, an epic (mis)adventure involving an intrepid multi-tasking hero (with muscles of iron, a beard like a god, and a bank account of legend) and his poor cursed mermaid girlfriend, was an effort to both entertain and educate about writing techniques. Visitors to the blog seemed to enjoy it a lot. I got such a big and positive response!

This was my second year doing the challenge. Last year I talked about writing too, though not as entertainingly. This year was a much more organized and focused effort, and took a lot more work. However, like last year, I started writing my posts in February so they were all ready to go by April. This turned out to be quite smart, as I ended up moving house in April. I surely wouldn’t have been able to write day by day in the midst of that chaos. I recommend to everyone to decide early in the year if you want to participate and write your posts well ahead of time–then you can cruise through April on autopilot!

I do admit, by about ‘S’ I was starting to burn out on the challenge, even with all my posts done. Each day I still had to promote the posts on Facebook, Twitter, and the like, visit other blogs, and answer my comments. Perhaps my burnout was just because I was living amongst towers of boxes at the time and trying to put all my ducks in a row so the actual move (which took place on April 30th) went smoothly. I was distracted a lot and it eventually felt kind of grueling to immerse myself in the challenge.

I met some new blogger friends this year though, and enjoyed the challenge overall. I got to participate in a few of the Twitter chats and that was fun.

Will I do it again next year? Of course! I looked forward to the challenge this year and couldn’t wait for it to get under way. Maybe next year I’ll try something a little less complex, though.

Check out the other reflection posts on the A to Z Challenge site!

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My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…

THE WORST ROMANCE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN IN 26 DAYS.


PANDORA’S TACKLEBOX

Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


Zip It Up

EPILOGUE – TWO YEARS LATER

Dropsy stood on the golden sand next to the lake and admired the sunset, while rubbing her belly—hugely pregnant with her third child. Nearby, her beautiful son and daughter—Curdle and Rottweiler—played on the beach building a sandcastle. Their laughter was music to her ears. She couldn’t imagine a more perfect life. Hawk had cashed in all the stock from his feminine hygiene products company, sold off his remaining bucking broncos, and turned their cabin into a mansion. He bought her two Maseratis and built a second house just for the gorgeous wardrobe of designer clothes he’d bought her. Yes, she adored the simple, easy life of living rough in the wilderness with him, sustained only by their love and Swiss bank account.

Hawk stepped up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. “What are you daydreaming about, my little Sea Princess?” He kept the same cute nickname for her. It reminded her that the dreadful past was over.

“Oh…just thinking about the babies.” She continued rubbing her tummy.

“Babies?” He looked over her shoulder at her. “There’s more than one? You’re having twins?” His voice went high-pitched. “Oh my God, we’re going to have to build a new wing on the house!” He grabbed her belly. “I love you, darling. Darlings.”

Dropsy giggled, joy bubbling out of her, the way water had once bubbled through her gills. “I couldn’t have asked for a happier ending.”


WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?

I don’t know. She’s somehow had three pregnancies in two years and her kids are also old enough to build sandcastles, so…maybe she still has mermaid magic and it got passed to her kids so they grow hyper fast? You decide!

SADLY, THIS IS GOODBYE.

I have IMMENSELY enjoyed doing this year’s challenge and sharing my writing know-how (and no-how) with all of you. I hope you learned something, or were at least entertained. When I originally decided to do this theme I figured it would be quite a project, and I wasn’t wrong—it took a lot of thought and planning, however silly the end result is. It’s not easy to write so crappy, and then somehow turn that crap into lessons. I did have a lot of fun with it though, and even made myself laugh at times, but then maybe that’s just vanity. Or insanity. Maybe I drove myself crazy writing this.

By the way, today is my MOVING DAY! As I’ve mentioned, I’ve also been in the middle of moving house this month. As such, it may be a few days before I get to answer comments/visit blogs for the final hurrah/be online at all, but I promise I will return!

THANK YOU

Until next year!

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My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…

THE WORST ROMANCE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN IN 26 DAYS.


PANDORA’S TACKLEBOX

Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


You Did It!

Hawk strode proudly into the water and scooped up his darling mermaid. He laid a big wet kiss on her and held her close. “I told you I would be your hero, baby. Now we can spend our life together. I’ll build you a fish tank and even put a plastic castle in it for you. You’ll be my little Princess of the Sea.”

But just then, something magical happened. A brilliant flash of light blinded them. As their vision returned, they gasped to see something amazing and unexpected.

“I’m human again!” Dropsy kicked her brand new long, lovely, sleek, somehow perfectly waxed legs, where her tail had once been. “The witch’s curse is broken. Oh Hawk, I love you.” She threw her arms around his neck.

Hawk spun her around. “This will make sex less awkward.”

They had a picnic on the beach, made love, watched some Netflix, and for the first time in ages, Dropsy slept in a human bed. In the morning, they had breakfast and coffee, and he took her shopping—she bought the highest pair of stilettos she could find, and Hawk approved.


WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?

You did it! You wrote a story. You built tension, created conflict, fleshed out your characters and gave them obstacles and motivations, dropped clues where the plot was heading, brought the hero up against the villain, and the big explosion happened. In the aftermath, you should wrap everything up with a nice tidy bow—and don’t be too long about it. Once the main conflict is resolved, anything beyond should consist of putting ducks in a row and tying up any loose ends. If you drag the story on for too long after the climax, it’s going to be just that…a drag. No one cares if your characters watched Netflix after defeating a Hell Witch.

The aftermath of the climactic moment—where hopefully, everything changed—is a place to either revel in victory and take a happy, cleansing breath, or weep and mourn what has been lost and survey the damage. Not every book has a happy ending of course, but it still must be a satisfying ending, which means it makes sense and something was resolved, even if not to everyone’s advantage. After the turning point things quiet down and start wrapping up. Make sure that’s what you do, and don’t dump more story in the reader’s lap than what they want at this point.

Give your characters legs and let them run into the sunset.

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My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…

THE WORST ROMANCE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN IN 26 DAYS.


PANDORA’S TACKLEBOX

Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


X-PLOSION

The witch screamed, her eyes huge when she saw the bottle of holy water—her one weakness. Satan’s minions could not endure the holy wrath of Heaven’s nectar. “No!” she shrieked. “No, I will not fail again. I will drain this lake!” She threw her arms in the air. The water in the lake began to churn and swirl, as though someone had pulled the plug…the Hell plug.

Hawk ripped the cork out of the bottle with his teeth and threw the contents on the witch. “The only thing going down the drain is you, witchy bitch!” He smiled at his own cleverness. He would have to remember that line and write it in his memoirs, which he would someday publish and would surely become bestsellers.

The witch’s screams grew louder. She clawed at her face as it began to sizzle like bacon…Hell bacon. She withered and collapsed on the sand. “No!” she cried. “What a world, what a world!”

The witch then vanished in a puff of black smoke. The waters of the lake were still. The night was silent, until Dropsy cried out. “Hawk, you saved me!”


WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?

I apologize, I’m cheating with today’s letter. But there’s not a whole lot of usable words that start with X.

The climax of a story should, even if it’s not happy, put a lot of conflict to rest and things should change. Things that might change are elements in the universe of your story, or a character–emotionally, mentally, even physically. The point is, after the climax, things don’t look the same. Something major has happened, a shift has taken place. If you’re writing a series, each book may have its own climax that sets things up for the next book. But make sure it all makes sense, and that you’re not just making pointless moves to wrap things up. As I’ve said several times, plant the bombs for the inevitable explosion long before you trigger them.

Also, don’t borrow details from literary classics like The Wizard of Oz, or people are going to notice.

I feel like I should apologize for this entire project, but I hope you’re all happy that Dropsy didn’t get sucked down the drain to Hell.