Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Next BIG Thing (or the Next Best Thing)

Before I tackle The Next BIG Thing quiz sent to me by Mr. M. L. Swift, creator of Monty Tucker and all-round nice guy even though he's over forty, let me tell you a little story.
Once there was a woman who cut her hair short, bound her chest, stained her skin with furniture polish, and began to walk funny, all so she could join the British army as a war reporter.
This woman fell in love with her comrade, who, believing she was a man, thought the woman was just a friendly kind of guy with a squeaky kind of voice.
During one especially trying day on the battle field, the woman was mortally wounded. The object of her affection carried her to shelter and attended to her wounds, only to discover - SHOCK HORROR - she was a woman!
Needless to say, the two ran away, got married and lived happily ever after. (Note: The story above is fiction. The real story of Dorothy Lawrence aka Denis Smith is very different and a great deal more tragic.)

So, what does this badly told story have to do with the Next Big Thing? Absolutely nothing unless it triggers a fabulous idea in your brain and you go on to write something wonderful.

But before I answer the questions posed to me by the excellent Mike Swift, I would like to say that I have noticed that some people in cyberworld seem to think I have a penis.

I can assure you, I don't.

(Having said that, a number of my college buddies accused me of harbouring penis envy, but that's another story altogether.)

Okay, so now that's out of the way, let's move on.

I have two W'sIP. Both I consider 'practice novels' and neither represent the genre I ultimately see myself writing. A waste of time? Perhaps, like training for a marathon by jumping on a trampoline, but I am enjoying myself immensely and learning rapidly.

I have applied the questions to my Wrimo attempt: A Tent Called Simba.

1. What is the working title of your book?
I changed it from Travels With Ro: Namibia to A Tent Called Simba, because the original concept was too simple, and I expanded the story to include escapades in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania. I'm hoping my sister (and sake when we meet up in Japan next month) will help me come up with a GOOD title.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea to write simple came from the challenge of NaNoWriMo. Also, I had just finished reading Bill Bryson and a travelogue seemed like a fine idea at the time. Silly, silly me.

3.  What genre does your book fall under?
Travel Memoir, Creative Non-fiction.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Cool question. At last I can be better looking than I really am. If the movie was shot ten years ago, or with a good make-up artist, or even a bad one, I would nominate Toni Collette and Claudia Karvan, both fine, Australian actresses. The obligatory boy actors? No idea, but it's fun thinking about it.

Claudia Karvan
photo source: Courier Mail
Toni Collette
photo source: The Daily Telegraph

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When many young women are thinking about settling down and starting a family, sisters, Erica and Ro embark on a road trip through Namibia: no GPS, no internet, no idea. With a tent called Simba and a nose for adventure, the sisters discover the different faces of southern Africa, and learn a thing or two about each other, and about themselves.

(DERT - fail. That's two sentences.)

6. If you plan to publish, will your book be self-published or published traditionally?
I'm not sure how marketable my efforts are, but I might consider self-publishing, just so I have something to keep my daughter busy when she asks what I got up to before she was born. (That might be how 'the next best thing' got into my head.)

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Twenty-eight days. I suspect plugging the gaps will take much longer.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I have not yet read African Journal by Bill Bryson, but if my story is one-tenth the style of Notes From a Small Island (with a dash of chickie talk), I will be happy.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
My older sister, Ro. She has lived (and does live) a darn interesting life and can tell a great yarn. I am urging her to inject her wit into the story, but so far she been too busy on her quest to conquer the world.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
I consider the story to be about breaking out of comfort zones, taking opportunities when they present themselves, and getting stuck into life, even when you have no clue of what you're doing, in fact, especially when you have no clue of what you're doing, because then you are stupidly fearless.

If I leave in the personal stuff, some might even consider it chick-lit (whatever that is). It talks about love lost, freedom found, and tent farts. And what's not interesting about tent farts?

So that's me. Thanks, Mike, for pushing me closer to... something.

Now I kick The Next Big Thing grid iron ball over to Rob Akers, a man with a mission and a hootin' tootin' story to tell.

And, if he's up for it, the word magician himself, Joseph Schwartz, author of The Crossover Test.

The rules are simple: answer the quiz so us nosey people know what you're up to, and then hand the baton to other writers who sound like they're onto something that might just be The Next BIG Thing.



  1. Egg-- this was fantastic. I love the sound of your book. I prefer reading non-fiction and love any books that have a travel bent to them. I also love Bill Bryson's writing style-- he's on my list of favorite authors.

    As for your appendages, or lack thereof, it is funny how without a specific gender identifier (like a picture), we make assumptions based on the written comments. I don't know why we do that, and I've been wrong on more than one occasion. Silly preconceptions.

  2. What can I say, Julie? You're a star on so many levels. Cheers.

  3. I didn't even see this pop up on my blogroll until wrapped up in a blog hop.

    Thank goodness the rest of the world now knows you're penisless. I had a devil of a time keeping your gender neutral when introducing you in my next big thing. Didn't want to put that out there until you had. I think it's the way you speak. Strong, commanding, and independent. Did you lighten your photo some? I can actually see your face now. Very hollywood make-up artiste needed.

    Honestly Erica...ah, that's the first time I've used your name :o)...I think you should pursue this. I LOVE travel books. I don't get out much and could travel in my mind through Namibia with you. And there's a wonderful market and demo out there for this genre. You write fantastically well...consider it. Plus, I'm sure there's a great story with you and Ro. Tell it!

    With that, I'll close. Loved hearing more about your NaNo novel. I'll be checking out Rob and Joseph's offerings. :o)

    1. Thanks Mike, I'll consider your advice. I have boxes of irresponsible-young-person travel journals in storage that I'm only just thinking about digging out. 'Memoir' (as in MY memoir) still makes me cringe a little, though.

      Yeah, I look forward to reading about what Rob and Joseph are up to if they chose to accept the challenge.

    2. Irresponsible young person travel it like you're on the road with Kerouac. I can't get to Joseph's site. When I click his pick, it just gives me a profile page w/o a link.

    3. Haven't read it, but now I'll have to. (Hang on.. didn't he drink himself to death or somethingarather??)

      Darn. I hope the link works now.

  4. Erica, yipee!!! I'm so happy to have confirmation of a name and gender. Being fairly new to your blog, I have to admit my uncertainty. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't (man/woman??).

    It's so much better when the visitor knows who they're visiting. Plus, I'm still trying to figure out where the name "Egg" came from, nickname/pen name?

    Anyhoo, love the sound of your WIP. It promises to be adventurous, and who doesn't love a little adventure? And who doesn't love a few tent farts?

    1. A nut? Wha!? Is being a nut gender specific?

      Egg is a nickname I've had since birth, and I've yet to figure out why. Eureka is one I picked up somewhere along the way, probably at university. (In Aust. there are no Darrens, just Dazza's; there are no Sharons but there are Shazza'a - weird.)

      Thanks for the encouraging words. Writing 50k words about myself feels abit ridiculous. Fiction still rules!

    2. Erica,

      Thank you for finally solving the mysteries of your plumbing. When you were a regular on the Writer’s Digest prompts, I thought you were a female and internally referred to you as Eggie Baby. Then after reading your blog for a while I changed my mind and thought you were a male, referring to you as Eureka, its the King Cobra. Now, I will have to create another nickname for you. I will let you know when I have one.

      To be honest your words have a different slant now that I know the real gender and I like it. I love your attitude and conviction. I especially love that you kept your identity gender neutral for so long. Thanks for coming out of the closet so to speak. This is exactly what I want to create with my characters, strong vibrant and opposite of the standard stereotype.

      I am working on my answers for the next big thing. Thank you for the opportunity to join the club, I hope I don’t disappoint. Keep smiling.

    3. Rob, with your candour, you could never disappoint. Knock yourself out with the answers. I can't wait to read them.

      Yeah, I think to write effective prose, we need to jump into many skins, and both sets of plumbing at the very least.

      And thank you for confirming my own suspicion: some blokes (yes, this is a distinctly blokey trait) cannot resist assigning nicknames. I bet your book contains a few doozies. (I mean, seriously, Eggy Baby to King Cobra??? You crack me up.)

      Hmm, I'm going to have to come up with one for you. I see Rob the Corn Cob has already been taken. (I rest my case.)

    4. It's a verse from the Almond Joy/Mounds candy bar TV commercial......."Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't." I was using nuts as a play on words, considering men have them, women don't.

      Also, thanks for explaining the Egg/Eureka dilemma. Its great to see where the names originated and to learn a little more about you.

    5. I need to watch more commercials, but der, I should have picked up you weren't talking about chest nuts.

  5. I have had a number of nicknames (call signs) over my career. Waiver, Canary, Green, Dustin, Pee Wee, Little Robbie, but my favorite has always been Shady A. When a name is earned usually by doing something dumb there are two ways to react. Get mad or laugh. I always laughed and they usually never stuck. I would tell the name giver that they could call me anything they want just as long as they called for dinner.

    My answers are up. Dang that was hard and required a little thought. I hope I did ok and thanks again for the opportunity to be in the club.

    1. There's a club??

      Awesome answers. I checked out the authors you tagged, and they look pretty cool. Nice find.