Housewife With A Half-Life

Today I’m pleased to be supporting Alison Wells, one of the first of many friendly faces I’ve found on Twitter who is celebrating the publication of her novel Housewife with a Half-Life: 

Susan Strong is a suburban housewife who is literally disintegrating. When Fairly Dave, a kilt-sporting spaceman arrives through the shower head to warn her, she knows things are serious. When she and her precocious four year old twins, Pluto and Rufus, get sucked through Chilled Foods into another universe it gets even messier. Where household appliances are alive and dangerous, Geezers have Entropy Hoovers and the Spinner’s Cataclysmic convertor could rip reality apart, Susan Strong is all that’s holding the world together.

In this madcap, feel-good adventure, Susan and Fairly Dave travel alternate universes to find Susan’s many selves, dodge the Geezers and defeat evil memory bankers. From dystopian landscapes and chicken dinners, to Las Vegas and bubble universes, can Susan Strong reintegrate her bits and will it be enough to save us all?

The ebook is available on Kindle

And in a variety of formats on


A paperback will be available in June!

About the author

What is a housewife to do when she becomes 42? Write a book about life, the universe and everything. As Alison Wells her more literary writing has been shortlisted in the prestigious Bridport, Fish and Hennessy Awards and she’s been published or is about to be in a wide variety of anthologies and e-zines, including the Higgs Boson Anthology by Year Zero, Metazen, The View from Here, Voices of Angels by Bridgehouse and National Flash Fiction day’s Jawbreakers. She recently won the fiction category of the Big Book of Hope ebook with a flash fiction medley and has a litfic novel The Book of Remembered Possibilities on submission. She blogs for in the guest blog: Random Acts of Optimism.  You can find her elsewhere on and blogging on Head Above Water or like A.B. Wells writer on Facebook

I know how much work Alison put into this novel during NaNoWriMo (the process that nearly killed me off) and I hope she has a successful novel on her hands.

Another One Bites The Dust

I wrote a week or so ago about my struggle with NaNoWriMo and my strategy to keep calm and carry on. This morning I finally admitted defeat and abandoned. Early last week I started to have real problems with the plot and though I managed a couple of days of scene writing, I was struggling to create a story which I felt was worth telling. Writing enough words each day itself wasn’t the issue so I decided to have a couple of days off and try and work on the plot.

Being a man, multitasking isn’t my strong point and I had lots of other things to think about. Two days became five and, after a long time sat in the car at weekend coming back from friends thinking about what to do, I’m still no further forward. At one point I was tempted to put in some aliens to liven things up at one point in the style of Jon Pinnock but it still didn’t do the trick!

It’s time to call it quits. It’s just eating away at me and it’s not making me feel better about myself. But before I go away and lick my wounds, here’s the positives and things I’ve learnt against my five problems.

The Concept of NaNoWriMo

I think the word count is quite feasible. I wrote quite quickly once I had the ’story’ and I’m more comfortable with leaving the words alone as a first draft. However writing without a defined objective to the piece works only to a limited extent. I find I’m much more productive when I have a real passion for writing and locking me up in a room doesn’t make more productive. Perhaps I’m really better off with flash and short stories as my medium at least until I build more of a body of work or I need a different structure to my writing process for longer pieces? A few things to think about here.


I’ve found that the lack of research started to bog down my writing. NaNoWriMo isn’t the time to do research. I needed to do more before I started to write especially as it got embroiled with the plot. I got some idea of the work involved with a novel versus a short story. I know what the problem is and I’m confident I can get around this one.

Descriptions / Dialogue

I’ve learned to live with these and decided to fill in the descriptions and actions around dialogue later in the writing process. It was much easier to write the story then add these things in later. I also learnt that I might be better writing longer pieces in the first person although ironically, I like books in the third person more. That’s a discovery.


I am a planner, first and foremost. If I did this again, I need to have the plot nailed down in detail before I start and do most of the key research. NaNo didn’t work for me because I had a strong sense of characters but nowhere for them to go. I could write scenes but didn’t have the mechanisms to move the story along. I haven’t abandoned the novel but I need to give it a bit of space and come back to it when I’m ready. Scrivener was fantastic for moving things about and in my next attempt I’ll be using the corkboard feature extensively until I’ve got ‘the story’ pinned down.

So I tried NaNoWriMo and I ‘failed’ but I learnt a few things along the way so it was worth a shot. Maybe I’ll try next year and maybe I won’t. I do admire people who are doing it and will complete it. It proves they have discipline and willpower and it breaks the back of the writing but I’m not convinced that it’s a process that produces great writing, at least for me. I’ll just have to develop my own process.

Finally, one of the other things I have come to appreciate is the help of my ‘fellow writers’ who wrote or pointed me to some great resources on creative writing and encouraged me. So thanks to Alison Wells, Claire King, Martha Williams, Rachel Carter, Jon Pinnock and Marcus Speh for their help. They are all talented and generous beyond words and I am all the better for it.

Here’s to story telling!


NaNoWriMo – Keep Calm And Carry On

It’s Day 5 of NaNoWriMo – writing 50,000 words of the first draft of a novel. I’ve signed up to the community, I’m motivated, I’m ahead of schedule in words, the plot is emerging slowly and yet I’m struggling on a number of fronts. I have five problems and just one strategy. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

1. The Concept of NaNoWriMo

As a photographer of many years, I would never set out to take 10 photographs, I’d aim to take as many photos as I need and show 10 great photographs to the outside world. Edit out the terrible, bad, average and the merely good. Just show the very best 10. That’s why I love flash fiction and short stories. Cutting everything back to serve the story. Every word crafted with care, nothing wasted.

The reason for taking part in NaNOWriMo is to learn to write longer pieces (and more me that means >2000 words) but the temptation to edit (cut) is huge. It’s like being an alcoholic in an off licence. My real fear (nightmare) is to have 50,000 words which are only fit to be edited down into a couple of short stories or pieces of flash. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

2. Research

Part of the joy of short stories and flash is the ability to avoid questions like ‘How do you power an iPod and a laptop in a camper van?’ If it’s possible, you just say it and let the reader do the work. It’s a short story – ‘get out of jail’ – no time for all that. In the longer form, these things matter. Not that you’re writing a set of instructions on how to do it but just covering it, making sure that it doesn’t affect some other part of the story elsewhere. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

3. Descriptions

Hmm, how much description to provide? Short stories and flash fiction haven’t been too much of a problem. What’s the absolute minimum required to keep the story moving?  How much does a novel need?   Does the fact that a cottage has a green door etc etc make a paragraph better or is it just fluff? Tell me it’s a cottage and I pick a cottage from memory – problem solved. Now I’ve got to think about it from a reader’s perspective. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

4. Dialogue

I like dialogue. I can picture it in my head. It’s the other stuff that I find difficult. The ‘he said’, ‘she said’ bit . Use an adverb here? Leave it out? And in long pieces of dialogue, they make a difference. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

5. Plot

I should have had more of a plan when I started. I’ve been a project manager, for God’s sake. But flash fiction – idea, write, edit – all in one session. Done and dusted. But you don’t knock off a novel in an evening over a glass of red wine with a CD on in the background. This isn’t an M&S microwave meal, this is Masterchef. I’ve got a beginning, middle and end, a bit of peril and a few key scenes, hardly Michelin standard. I’ve got Scrivener which helps otherwise I’d be dead by now but, as I start to develop chunks of words, I can see the flaws in the threads of plot in technicolour. Rewrite? Spend more time just thinking about the plot? No time. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

I love books and I love writing. Flash fiction, short stories. No problem. People may not like my stories but there was little trouble writing them. A novel? This is torture. So I’ve thought about it and here’s the truth. I’ve been reading books since I was four (thanks Mum) and I’m a fast reader so I’ve read thousands of books. But until now, I’d taken good writing for granted. Correct grammar, a decent plot, dialogue that flows naturally; just keep turning the page.  It’s only when there’s something obviously wrong that I’ve actually taken any notice of what’s going on. So suddenly I’m thinking about things that I’ve seen all my life, that were just ‘there’.

There’s a real temptation here to just stop. Go back to flash fiction or head down to the library and read every book on creative writing I can lay my hands on. That’s what I should do.

But the reality is that, for better for worse, I’ll never have a better chance to write a novel than now. So I’m going to keep typing in the hope that it’s not just me and most other writers went through this at some point or another, that I can sort out all the ‘stuff’ I took for granted in later months and that, as my Mum used to say, ‘it’ll all come out in the wash.’  Let’s hope so! KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON



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