Word Meter for Projects

Word Meter & Exciting Writing Year

Last year I was involved in publishing two anthologies – Lost in the Museum and The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales – which sucked up a lot of my writing  time. This year I have some exciting news. I’ve been asked by a publisher to write a couple of kids’ novels for their You Say Which Way series. These are interactive e-books, similar to Choose Your Own Adventure or Pick a Path stories, where kids choose which way the story goes. I’ll have more exciting news about these soon. I am also finishing a kids’ novel and rewriting a young adult paranormal romance that has been on the back burner for  over a year. So it’s exciting and busy!

I thought I’d keep everyone up to date on my progress with my new word meters in the sidebar – a cool way to let my readers know what I’m up to. These word meters will be updated as I make progress.

Progress as at mid July 2015. To be updated soon!
Progress as at mid July 2015. To be updated soon!

Currently as you’ll see :

Black Belt Bailey – a middle grade martial arts novel for 11-13 year olds – is complete at 38,000 words.

The first draft of Dragon’s Realm the first of my You Say Which Way adventures – is finished at 42,000 words. This was fun to write and I look forward to receiving feedback from the publisher soon.

Nymphyre is a YA paranormal romance that has been brewing in the background for a couple of years. It was at about 92,000 words, and I’m whittling it down to about 80,000 (currently 87,000 and shrinking.) Written in fits and starts between other projects, this novel needs a through rewrite! I usually write a novel from start to finish, not over two years, so it’s been really interesting to rewrite this, bringing all the scenes into line with how I now want to the story to run. Clarkes’ Critique Group have taken my innocent sentences twisting them with their risque humor, making our local library cafe ring with laughter for hours on end as we chortle over possible romantic twists! Luckily most of these ludicrous suggestions will remain in the cafe – although their sound story-crafting ideas have been steadily worked into the novel. What is it about romance that makes people giggle and come up with silly jokes? Monkey Lab, my other critique group have also enjoyed aping around with the story!  Lots of grunting & screeching during those critique sessions – think chimps at the zoo.

Mystic Portal is a project planned for later this year, another You Say Which Way – a mountain biking adventure with a twist! Or several twists, depending on which paths you choose!

My 5 Criteria for a Word Meter

If you’d like to create a word meter, pop by this site to see the one I use. There are many out there, but my criteria were quite specific:

  1. Ability to reflect progress on several projects
  2. Include total word count and names of projects
  3. I did not want the names and word counts to take up too much space on my sidebar, so I decided to have meters with the words and count inside them.
  4. Flexibility with color (I can choose my own)
  5. I wanted to reflect which phase of the writing process I am at with each project , e.g. draft, editing, 2nd draft, rewrite etc.

This site enabled me to do all of the above.

5 Steps to Creating your own Word Meter

Hint: I used the following steps to make my word meters:

  1. I created several word meters with this resource
  2. I inserted the information I wanted (Project phase, name and target word count) inside the caption field.
  3. I decided to use blue for finished phases of projects and red for unfinished phases.
  4. I copied the code into one text box plug-in, in my sidebar, to create the word meters you see now.
  5. I repeated this process for each project, and saved my code in a word document for easy access (so I can edit the source code instead of using the site, next time).

Enjoy popping by the blog to see my progress. It’ll be nice to see you. Now, I’d better get back to writing or I’ll never be able to update the word meter.  See you soon.

WOW! Amazing Christmas Gift!

Fairy Lights

WOW! I never expected this! I just got an amazing Christmas gift! Let me share it with you.

I am absolutely thrilled to let you know that my first solo audio-book as been released. With great narration, a top notch music, and its own fun cover. This project was a spontaneous suggestion from one of my readers and I am blown away at how it happened—and at the amazing audio-story that’s been created.

Fairy Lights is a short Christmas tale for children and adults and is available here! A great Christmas present.

Fairy Lights
Art by Blythe Thompson

Now, let me tell you how this top-quality audio book was made—complete with its own musical score and cover, both created by talented people!

Phantom Feather Press, a small independent publisher, launched The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales on 13 November 2014 at The Children’s Bookshop in Wellington. The launch was amazing with around 120 people attending, and authors flying in from all around New Zealand.

On the way home, I received a text from Sasha, a teenager who had attended the launch.

Hey, just wanted to let u know… I’ve read ur stories and they are fantastic!!!!

I especially Loved Fairy Lights 🙂

I replied:

                Thank you. You’re so sweet.

Sasha texted back:

                It’s true!!!!

Her Mum then told me a few days later that the story had touched their family.

             “We read it twice as a family. It was so beautiful it made our whole family cry.”

Fairy Lights is a story that made my eyes moist when I first wrote it last year, and made my 9-year-old son also cry the first few times he read it. My son said,

          “I love it because it made me cry but it has a happy ending.” 🙂

A couple of weeks later, Sasha’s Dad, Charles—a singing teacher and voice-over artist—contacted me, suggesting we create an audio book. Phantom Feather Press agreed, as long as we mentioned The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales.

Charles recorded the story beautifully—no mean feat—and told me Giacomo, a musician in Canada, was interested in creating a musical score for Fairy Lights, and Bythe, an Australian artist was also keen to create Fairy Lights cover art.

When the music arrived, it blew me away. I was so humbled that a musician would create such an incredible arrangement for my story. Giacomo’s music swept me along on an emotional journey—started by my wee story, enhanced by a musical-score that sounds like a movie sound track, and gift-wrapped in by a cover from a talented artist.

Pop over here and listen to the preview. I hope you enjoy Fairy Lights as much as I have.

If Fairy Lights is popular, Charles, Giacomo, Blythe and I would love to work together again. Check out this link to find out what Fairy Lights is about.

A special thank you to Charles Humphreys, Giacomo Cataldo and Blythe Thompson for making one of my dreams come true and giving me the best Christmas gift ever! And thank you to you, my readers, for listening to Fairy Lights. Your love and trust is also a fabulous Christmas gift. I wish you a warm and loving Christmas and a great start to the New Year.

Twisty Christmas Ebook Launch

I know many of my readers are overseas and are unable to get to The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales book launch in Wellington. So here’s the good news: We’re having an online e-book launch throughout Friday. There will be giveaways, prizes and lots of online fun.

Join us here on Facebook. Or just pop over to Amazon and buy an copy of The Best of Twisty

Kids will love Geoff Popham's fun Twisty Christmas cards.
Kids will love Geoff Popham’s fun Twisty Christmas cards.

Christmas Tales e-book now, and email your receipt to phantomfeatherpress [at] gmail [dot] com (use the correct symbols please) to go into the draw to win e-books, Twisty Christmas cards and other cool prizes!

Here’s the Amazon link again!  If you use Facebook, join the event, and keep up to date with winning opportunities.



The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales Book Launch

The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales is about to hit the shelves and is already a rip-roaring success. Many happy readers have pre-ordered books, cards and e-books using the Pledge Me Twisty Christmas page. If you want to have a peek, there is only an hour to go before Pledge Me closes.

Thanks to all our wonderful supporters for helping us to reach our goals.

Invitation Twisty ChristmasIf you’d like to come along to our Best of Twisty Christmas Tales book launch, feel free to download an invitation here: Twisty-Christmas-Invitation  We’d love to see you at The Children’s Bookshop on Thursday 13 November at 6pm, to join in the fun. (Address is on the invitation.)

To join our Facebook event – for both the print and e-book launches, sign in here.

The e-book is available on Amazon on pre-order. For those who love e-books, this is great for us, as pre-orders boost our Amazon rankings immensely! Thanks again for your support!

See you at the launch – with Twisty Christmas music, nibbles, drinks, art and books galore! A great start to the festive season!

Twisty Christmas Tales feature Joy Cowley, David Hill & Dave Freer

The dust has finally settled after Storylines Family Day, and Christmas is just around the corner. But I have a confession to make: I’ve been wearing my Santa hat for months, editing The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales!

Last year Peter, Alicia and I put out a small e-book of ten Christmas stories as a trial for a larger project. Now that larger project is nearly complete! The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales features 31 crazy Christmas capers from 27 authors, including iconic kiwi authors Joy Cowley and David Hill, best-selling sci-fi author Dave Freer, stacks of kiwis and an Aussie or two.

Geoff Popham Twisty Christmas Tales Santa sleigh over Auckland
Santa over Auckland by Geoff Popham, in The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales.

Check out the awesome list of authors in our new kids anthology here. It’s going to be a Twisty Christmas!

It’s been an amazing experience to edit this anthology, along with Alicia Ponder and Peter Friend. So many great stories, so many talented authors, so much fun, and so much hard work!  As well as all the other projects I’ve been working on! If anyone has a cloning kit, similar to one that gets used in Santa’s workshop in one of our Twisty stories, then I would gladly borrow it, just to get everything done. Or perhaps not, after all, I know what havoc resulted when Santa’s elves tried it!

To find out more about The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales, the authors, and the artist – check out this link

The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales is available in good NZ bookstores and on Amazon from late October.

Lost in the Museum Hits the Headlines!

Te Papa stories
Tim Jones and Eileen Mueller are Lost In The Museum, or outside it! Photo by Ross Giblin, used with permission of Fairfax Media NZ – 629542114.

Lost in The Museum was featured in the Dominion Post last weekend, on the Capital Day page. Both Tim Jones and I had fun in the glaring sun with the fresh Wellington wind creating new hairstyles and making our eyes water! What a photo! Brilliant!

The Cook Strait News also ran an article last Monday. I know that Dannevirke News mentioned Lost In The Museum with Lyn McConchie featured as their local author and that other newspapers are also keen on this quirky collection which is is set in our national iconic museum, Te Papa Tongarewa — NZ’s home of national treasures.

Behind Lost In The Museum is a great team who has put in long hours, selecting stories, editing them, formatting, proof-reading and typesetting.  I’d personally like to thank Alicia Ponder and Lorraine Williams for accepting my stories and providing great editing feedback, to Mary MacCallum for her editorial input and keen eye, and to everyone who helped in the book production.

Our cover artist, Geoff Popham, did a brilliant cover. Everyone comments on it! We look forward to working with such a talented young artist again. William Carden-Horton added richness to the anthology with his offbeat illustrations.

Thanks to all the authors. It’s an honor to have my work in an anthology with yours!

Check out the articles! Or this review on Beattie’s Blog. Lost In The Museum can be purchased from NZ bookstores, or from Amazon.

Lost In The Museum DomPost
Lost In The Museum in the Dominion Post
Cook Strait News features Lost In The Museum
Cook Strait News features Lost In The Museum



Baby Teeth – hear my story Dad’s Wisdom

Baby Teeth-Bite-sized Tales of Terror is now available as an audio book. My story Dad’s Wisdom has been uploaded as the sample. Pop over to Sound Cloud to listen!
Narrated by the amazing Chris Barnes of Dynamic Ram. Enjoy his cool accent!

Don’t get too scared by this bite-sized tale of terror! It’s an adventure of a wee child, terrorized by the thing hiding under the bed. Hopefully it will have you laughing before you’re done!


Lost In The Museum – Review

Copies of Lost in The Museum are zipping off the shelves.

Lost In The Musuem
Lost In The Museum by Phoenix Writers, quirky YA fantasy stories in Te Papa, NZ’s national museum.

Beattie’s Blog, the cornerstone blog of the New Zealand literary world, has just posted a great review of Lost In The Museum by Lee Murray! Pop over and see it!

Lost In The Museum is available from all good bookstores. Retrospace in Auckland and The Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie, Wellington are two of my favourite stores that stock Lost In The Musuem!

Join in the fun and read some great work from Wellington authors, new and famous! Enjoy these mad capers, zipping around Te Papa!


Just in case you’re not one to lug around paper books, the ebook will be out next Monday, 9 June 2014!

A huge thank you to Phoenix Science Fiction Society and Wellington Creative Communities for their support.

Back Cover Blurb

Get lost in the museum where past, present and future collide.

What does Weta’s giant mechanical baby do after hours? Who is altering the time space continuum? Where or when has James gone? And what secrets is Tui Merriweather hiding?

Dive into mayhem at a well-known Wellington waterfront destination. Going to the museum will never be the same again.

Authors:  Tim Jones, Tracie McBride, Lyn McConchie, Glynne MacLean, Phillip Mann, Rob Campbell, Lillian Hetet, Jenny Hammond, John Homes, Eileen Mueller, Jeena Murphy, A.J. Ponder, Vic Scott, Jean Stevens, Lorraine Williams

Lost In The Museum – Launch at Conclave II

The Lost in the Museum book launch

2pm, Saturday, 26 April at Surrey Hotel, Auckland

at Conclave II, the New Zealand National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention

Join Conclave II Guest of Honour, Lynn McConchie, & authors Alicia Ponder & Eileen Mueller

Get lost in the museum where past, present and future collide.

What does Weta’s giant mechanical baby do after hours? Who is altering the time space continuum? Where or when has James gone? And what secrets is Tui Merriweather hiding?

Dive into mayhem at a well-known Wellington waterfront destination. Going to the museum will never be the same again.

Authors:  Tim Jones, Tracie McBride, Lyn McConchie, Glynne MacLean, Phillip Mann, Rob Campbell, Lillian Hetet, Jenny Hammond, John Homes, Eileen Mueller, Jeena Murphy, A.J. Ponder, Vic Scott, Jean Stevens, Lorraine Williams

Lost In The Museum
Lost in The Museum – cover art by Geoff Popham, stories by Phoenix Writers.

Copies of Lost In The Museum in all good bookstores soon.


Lost in the Museum – Cover Art.

Lost in the Museum is coming soon!

Lost in the Museum concept art
Lost in the Museum concept art

Last year I joined Phoenix Writers (the Wellington-based arm of Phoenix Science Fiction Society) just as they were closing submissions for this collection of crazy capers in Te Papa – NZ’s national museum. My stories squeaked in before the deadline and were accepted. Over the past two months, I’ve spent some time helping this book come to life.

Geoff Popham has created beautiful artwork for the cover (this is not the final version, but close.)  He is one talented graphic designer and illustrator. We’re lucky to have him for Lost in The Museum.

Stay tuned for launch details and a sneak preview of the final cover art!