The Next Big Thing

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next big thing

(A really BIG THING – loosely relevant image of the day)

I was very thoughfully tagged in The Next Big Thing  Author blog hop by Jon at  - what a great start to the New Year!

No, I haven’t seen a badge…despite back-tracking this award through several blogs.  I’m not sure that there is an official one, although I did borrow the image below from Michelle Proulx – hope you don’t mind, Michelle!

the next big thing

The Next Big Thing is part interview and part award, consisting of a series of questions about a writer’s latest work and how it came to be.

What is the working title of your book? It began as ‘Angels Instead’, partly as a nudge in the ribs towards the glut of vampire books and partly as a nod towards Robbie Williams’ song ‘Angels’ which contains the line ; ‘I’m loving angels instead.’  That line helped to drive this book from concept to completion, despite some very trying times.

What genre does your book fall under?  I originally categorised it as a paranormal romance but have since found out that it’s also an urban fantasy.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?  One sentence?  Sheesh…it took me months to condense it down to two paragraphs.

*taps side of mouth thoughtfully.*

Okay, here goes.  A paramedic accidentally pulls an angel to Earth, where she discovers that he has only six days to save humanity from a terrible fate.

Where did you get the idea for your book?  A combination of ‘what if…?’ questions that coalesced into one story.  ‘What if a dead body suddenly came back to life?’  ‘What if Hell launched an all-out attack on Heaven?’ ‘What if a human fell in love with an angel (as opposed to a vampire or werewolf)?’

Who or what inspired you to write this book? It began as a collaboration with a friend, but our diverging ideas led to my story becoming a prequel to the main idea and her story as the future events that would follow.  Sadly, she didn’t continue with her part.  I very nearly foundered too, but Robbie Williams’ song, echoing in my head, made me determined to pick myself up and continue with my prequel.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? The ‘Hell attacks Heaven’ idea was conceived in late 2009, but my part didn’t really take shape until March 2010.  I finished the first draft about a year later. 

What other books would you compare this story with in your genre? I deliberately haven’t read other Angel romances in order to avoid any story influencing and I haven’t found any Vampire romances that have a similar storyline, so I couldn’t really say.  I’d like to think my story was unique as it doesn’t feature any love-struck teenagers in high school, but of course, comparisons can always be made with other books.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  That’s an easy one to answer.  When I was writing my story I kept several celebrities in mind as visual character references.

jg

Janeanne Garafalo (The Truth about Cats and Dogs) would play Sara Finn, my main character,

How I imagine Michael might look

with Tom Ward (Silent Witness) as Michael the Angel.

rutger_hauer

A younger Rutger Hauer (in his Blade Runner days) would be ideal as the Aryan (the antagonist)

Alexander_Siddig

with Sara’s medical colleagues played by Alexander Siddig (Deep Space Nine)

Kyle McLachlan

and Kyle McLachlan.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  I tried to interest every genre-relevant agency in the UK for over the course of a year, but no-one seemed to be interested.  I was about to begin targeting the US agencies when the notion of self-publishing occurred to me.  I’d seen many articles about it and with a good deal of help from several bloggers, I self-published in October 2012.

What else about your book might pique your reader’s interest?  The notion that Angels are constructed from clusters of souls.  That and the fact that Heaven is dangerously close to losing the war with Hell.

Thank you for taking part in the Next Big Thing Author Tour.

And now comes the point where I pass on the TNBT baton.

I’m to nominate five writers and bloggers who inspire, entertain and motivate me on a daily basis.

I’m going to try to avoid duplication so I’m not including patwoodblogging or Nightwolf’s Corner or Unravelling my Mind as Jon just nominated them and they’d be answering the same questions twice.

Michelle Proulx, Candace Knoebel and James Calbraith have also recently been tagged.

So I hereby nominate;

Ryan Casey

Cookie 5683

Casey Voight

Introverted blogger

Writeminds authors

Briana at When I became an author

I have had so much fun in the short time I’ve been blogging – and I’ve learned a great deal in the process.  I look forward to learning more, sharing your experiences looking out for your latest (or debut) books in the various electronic outlets.

Write on in 2013!

Blog of the Year 2012

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Well, now that SPOTY is all wrapped up and X Factor winner has been decided, I’m pleased to be able to peer into the latest mysterious (virtual) envelope and see my own name on the Blog of the Year nomination roll.

Yes, Patwoodblogging has very, very kindly nommed me which means that I am now entitled to display (and I do so with pride) the following button;

Thank you, PatWoodBlogging

Thank you, PatWoodBlogging

And, then, not long afterwards, this one;

Thank you, NutsForTreasure

Thank you, NutsForTreasure

 

I’ve endeavoured to make this blog interesting, whilst passing on what I’ve learned over the past couple of years.  However, I can say that without any doubt, I have probably learned far more than I have imparted.  And isn’t that the way it should be?  Because so many fellow bloggers have been so very generous with their hints, tips, lessons and sharing of experience, my blogging and my writing has flourished during 2012.

It hardly seems possible that my very first post ‘The best rejection letter ever?‘ was only published in July of this year, finally catapulting my introverted presence into the Blogsphere.   Since then, I’ve blogged (a little irregularly, I confess), joined Goodreads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, published on Amazon and I’m already part-way through the First Draft of my sequel.

What an amazing year it’s been!

Thank you to everyone who has visited, commented and assisted me with my lifelong dream to publish my first novel.

I’d like to nominating the following sites whose content instructed, guided, shared, encouraged or contained perfectly entertaining prose that cheered and lifted us all throughout 2012;

Candace Knoebel for being ‘Awesome’ with every blog.

PatrickLatter for providing inspirational images.

Karen Gadient for being both graphic (it’s not what you’re thinking!) and thoroughly entertaining.

C G Blake for fascinating and instructional content.

Ryan Casey for always providing the right answers on his blog – even before I knew I needed to know them.

Jacqui Murray – her blog is packed to the rafters with useful content.

Michelle Proulx for being thoroughly entertaining!

Pat Wood – for her incessant and infectious cheerfulness!  Have another star, you star!

I would love to include absolutely everybody that I follow in this list, but that isn’t practical.  Instead, I’d ask that you spread the nominations to everyone whose work you love to follow and learn from.  This award can be sent out even in the New Year, so don’t stop when the 31st is worn out.

Hope you all have amazing (and Awesome – can I say that Candace?) holiday.

See you on the other side!!!

Write on in 2013, everyone!

~

Do you know a blog that deserves an award?

Do you have special blogs that you love to read?

Which blogs do you bookmark and follow?

Would you like to give them an award this year?

Then the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award is for you!

Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

The ‘rules’ for this award are simple:

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page

‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/   

and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them

5 You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page

‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group 

and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience

6 As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

6 stars image

Yes – that’s right – there are stars to collect!

Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once – this award is different!

When you begin you will receive the ‘1 star’ award – and every time you are given the award by another blog – you can add another star!

There are a total of 6 stars to collect.

Which means that you can check out your favourite blogs – and even if they have already been given the award by someone else – you can still bestow it on them again and help them to reach the maximum 6 stars!

Blog of the Year Award 6 star jpeg

‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Badges

Here are the six badges for you to collect – you can either ‘swop’ your badge for the next one each time you are given the award – or even proudly display all six badges if you are lucky enough to be presented with the award six times!

Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

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Blog of the Year Award 2 star jpeg

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Blog of the Year Award 3 star jpeg

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Blog of the Year Award 4 star jpeg

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Blog of the Year Award 5 star jpeg

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Blog of the Year Award 6 star jpeg

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Need to know more? Check out our FAQ page

And Congratulations! on being chosen for the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

~

Reader Appreciation Award

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This post has been a long time due and so, for that, I apologise.

The whirl of completing my Twelfth Draft, the decision to ePublish and the creating of my book cover scoured my brain of much of my daily to-do list.

Anyway, last month I was fortunate enough to receive a nomination for the Reader Appreciation Award, not once but twice!

Thank you Mymagical escape (I tried to find your name on your blog, but couldn’t) for this award.   I love the image – it just so happens that big, bright sunflowers are a favourite of mine.

Also, Sonya Loveday nominated me the following day, a lovely thought.

The conditions of this award seem to be similar to those of the Liebster and Lovely Blog awards.

I tried to back-track through Mymagicalescape’s nominator, Pat Wood or as I like to think of her, Caress Arborea *winks*, but I couldn’t find any specific conditions listed on her blog.

Sonya mentions that the Reader Appreciation Award Foundation stipulate six nominations, so I will do that, but add in Mymagicalescape’s format and write seven things about myself first – stuff that I haven’t already said after receiving previous nominations.

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1. I believe in Angels – just not necessarily the kind that appear in popular literature.

2. I live in the same town as Jenna Burtenshaw and have received a great deal of encouragement from her.

3.  It was my wife’s tottering stack of vampire novels that compelled me to write ‘A Construct of Angels’.

4.  Movie soundtracks inspire my writing.

5.  My ‘day job’ takes me all over the UK.  75% of the time it gifts me writing opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise enjoy.

6. Currently, my favourite writing tool is my Acer Netbook.

7. I am the closest I have ever been to publishing a book and cannot quite believe it.

.

Now, the nominations;

I’m supposed to nominate six bloggers for this Reader Appreciation award, so here are my choices;

1. Candace Knoebel

2. Ryan Casey

3. M D Kenning

4. Sonya Loveday

5. Carly Sarah

6. Michelle Proulx

7. Abusively Baboozan

8. Pat Wood blogging

Oops – I can’t count.  I know Candace, Sonya and Carlyysarah had already been nominated by Mymagicalescape and Pat Wood nominated her in the first place, but I love them so much, I felt compelled to repeat the nomination.

Who’s to say that I can’t?  :p

Oh, oh.  Yellow card approaching from the Reader Appreciation Award Foundation.

Enjoy, bask if you like, but don’t forget to spread the love!

 

Write on!

Do you empathise with your characters?

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Do you?

I mean really get down into the mud with them and feel their pain as if it was your own?

In this age of guts, gore and death on both the big and the small screen, it’s all too easy to sit back and munch popcorn as a larger-than-life action figure takes a bullet, then fights on to the expected victory.  The heroine, meanwhile, hangs by a single finger over a fatal drop before she is rescued in the very last instant by a strong grip around her slender wrist.

Yeah, sure he groans as the bullet buries itself in his flesh.  She shrieks as her finger slips. 

But what do they really feel?  Can you, as a writer, firstly imagine the pain, the sheer terror that these characters ought to be feeling?  And can you, secondly, convince the reader that these unfortunate, suffering characters know that a life-stopping moment is but a heartbeat away?   We are all buzzing bags of emotion, not unfeeling machines.  Readers know this – and we must deliver. 

I’ve dreamed of plunging to my death in a car, then woken in a cold, shaking sweat, hardly able to convince myself that I’d survived.  In one brief moment, I’d mentally wrapped up my life, regretted things unfinished, and wondered if non-corporeal existence or oblivion awaited me.  Then; bang;  I was a crumpled statistic – but one with an answer.  One with an edge to create better death scenes; and to recognise shallow ones.  And although it was a dream, I’d been there.  I’d actually felt it.

If you’re in any doubt that you are tuned into your characters, retire to a quiet place after you’ve written your action sequence.   Become one with your character of choice.  Climb into their skin, then re-run the action.  Hang from a stone gargoyle one hundred storeys above the city.  Plunge over a waterfall, not knowing if you’re going to see the next minute.  Switch off all the lights and spin around three times to experience some of the disorientation of being inside a darkened warehouse (but please don’t injure yourself – even if you are researching pain!).

Better still, if the geography or architecture allows, visit the closest possible parallels to your scene and lean over that edge; feel the power of the wind and water.  Picture the last seconds of your life as gravity claims its prize. 

Your character would.

Imagine how you’d feel if someone close to you went over the edge instead; feel that anger, that helplessness, that utter and permanent loss.

And relax…breathe.  Then get it down on paper / screen.

I’ve dealt largely with falls so far.  Other fates are available, naturally. 

And of course, this technique doesn’t just apply to action scenes. 

Pain is not the only emotion;

Betrayal?  Your best friend has just eloped with your significant other / taken your expensive car / smuggled out your priceless show cat.  Get angry; feel betrayed.  Just don’t call that friend until you’ve simmered down and put your hurt and anger into black-and-white.

Love?  A trickier one this, one that relies on previous experience.   Think of it as the ultimate head-and-heart battle.  Except that the head belongs to an adult, and the heart is a wanton, wailing, selfish four-year-old that (almost) always gets their way.  How wrenching would that be as an internal monologue?

Fear?  There are many shades of fear, too many to list here.  Briefly, though; Fear of death (brief pain and it’s all over – but you might leave everything unfinished); Fear of loss – what is it that you could not stand to exist without?  Fear of change; your comfort zone – obliterated.

Feel them all – no, really.  Feel them all.  And then create characters that we can really relate to – and emotions that stir our own. 

What better than a novel that takes us upon a roller-coaster ride that leaves us emotionally wrought, but thoroughly satisfied?

For further reading I’d recommend Rivet your readers with Deep POV.  Please note that I am in no way affiliated with this work  – I just found it to be instructive.

So, over to you;

What techniques do you use to get beneath your character’s skin?  

Do you perform mental walk-throughs? 

Do you research on-line for the experiences of others, or even query them face-to-face?

Six Sentence Sunday…oh, heck. Too late!

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Well, many others have offered up their six sentences, so here are mine.

.

“Sara, move!”

The impact of Michael’s hand against my shoulder provided an impetus that thrilled me forwards in a blur of motion – I found myself on the far side of the crossroads in a heartbeat.

A moment later we were sprinting up Sampson Square, flashing past the darkened shops.

My limbs moved faster than I would have thought possible as behind us, a feral howl rolled up the street, blasting through the air and ripping the September leaves from the trees.

“What the hell was – ?”

“Never mind,” Michael yelled.  “Just keep running!”

.

Hopefully, this segment coveys the urgency of Sara and Michael’s desperate flight from a horde of Spawn – unfortunate individuals who have been endangered to the point of death, where their souls have been snatched away, leaving them as empty, enslaved monsters.  Michael, an angel (of sorts) is able to assist Sara by temporarily enhancing her muscles with supernatural energy.  These are not standard ‘zombies’.  They are closer to ‘I am Legend’ than ‘Dawn of the Dead’, and are capable of a surprising turn of speed.

This segment is lifted from the chapter where Sara finally realises that the dangers around her are real and that Michael really has a serious purpose on Earth.

Any thoughts or feedback would be gratefully received.

PS I will get the hang of this Sunday / Monday thing.

My first nomination!

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Well, this is a brand new and fairly uncertain experience for me.

It came as a complete surprise when C.A Hustead nominated me for the ‘One Lovely Blog Award.’

For the past year or so, the only visitor to this blog has been …me.

Then Aayla Avalon came to visit and boosted my stats by 50%.  Since then, it’s been largely quiet…until about three months ago (I’m guessing here – I will verify that later), I began to get visitors!  Around that time, I made the (rather obvious now) connection that by commenting on other writer’s blogs, those writers might be curious enough to visit my blog. Now I’m following and regularly reading several blogs, as well as discovering new ones each week.

Sadly, my time on-line is limited (work, home life, travelling time) and I can’t be as prolific or entertaining as other bloggers.  My blog was mainly a journal, documenting my experience as a first-time novellist, never designed to impart deep, meaningful thoughts or throw out weekly challenges.

However, now that I have followers for the first time (thanks to everyone who has chosen to follow my humble ramblings!) I will endeavour to raise the entertainment level from the lowly levels of Notch One.

Now, following in the style of Mr Hustead, and Ms. Nine  before him, I believe the format is to nominate seven other bloggers;

The Rules:

1. thank the blogger who nominated you with a link to the site.
2. write seven things about yourself that other bloggers don’t know
3. nominate fifteen other deserving blogs.

The Big Thank You:

Thank you, Mr Hustead, for the kind nomination.  I will attempt to keep up the ‘good work,’ and create meaningful, useful and perhaps even the occasional entertaining posts.

Seven things about myself?

  1. I am spiritual but definitely not religious.
  2. I watch (and enjoy) romantic movies.
  3. I have been within ten feet of Tony Blair, Princess Anne and Jean-Michel Jarre (not all on the same day).
  4. I am afraid of heights and cannot stand roller coasters.
  5. I am a night owl as opposed to a lark.
  6. When I grow up I want to be a bush pilot (4. notwithstanding)
  7. I cried when Freddie Mercury died.

Nominations towards other blogs;

Aayla Avalon for her endearing depiction of a writer struggling to metamoprhise into an author and for her encouraging words to fellow proto-authors.

Kimberly’s writings is informative and always fun to read.

Candace Knoebel for her thoroughly engrossing posts.

Ryan Casey who has done more than anyone to convince me that self-publishing may offer an alternative way to get my novel ‘out there’.

A Journey to Atlantis for always providing a riveting read!

Lillie McFerrin for getting us all to write (or intend to write in my case) Five Sentence Fiction.

Michelle Proulx for not only providing insightful blogging, but for her encouragement of others too.

And finally…

M.D.Kenning, who has provided several thoughtful articles which has led me to re-examine my own prose in a new way.

I know that’s not fifteen, but I have only recently launched my blog into the…um… blogosphere.  I have chosen to follow those blogs that interest me the most and will add new ones as I stumble upon them.  I continue to watch out for recommendations posted upon others blogs.

Again, thanks for the nomination and all the encouragement I have received from my followers.

Andrew Toynbee

The best rejection letter ever?

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Today (24th July 2012) I received a rejection letter from John Jarrold.  Naturally, I was disappointed, but it was such an in-depth letter, I didn’t mind as much as I ought to have.

I’ve attached the letter below for you to read.

Has anyone else received anything similar?  Or is the one-line reject letter the norm?

Dear Andrew

I have now read your material – I do apologise for the delay.  I can see the imagination and intelligence at work here, but I can’t honestly say I loved it.  After fifteen years in publishing before setting up the agency, I’m all too aware how difficult it is to get a publisher interested in a new writer, so I feel that I do have to love my clients’ work – personally and professionally – to do the best possible job.  If I don’t feel that strongly, I’m the wrong agent.  Publishing is a notoriously subjective business, and every new author needs both an agent and an editor who do love their work.  It’s hellishly difficult getting the bookselling chains to take a new novelist seriously, so that initial enthusiasm is vital. If an author’s prose doesn’t set me on fire, first and foremost, I say no, as do editors in this situation.

Most UK editors see around thirty books every week and only take on one or two debut novels over an entire year.

The entry level for a new novelist now is ‘special’, not ‘good’.  This is partially because sales and marketing directors have so much more power than they did a dozen years ago.  If they don’t believe they will be able to sell a first novel into W H Smiths and the rest of the bookselling trade in numbers, they’ll block the editor from acquiring it in many companies.  A senior editor told me a few weeks ago that even if he loved an author’s writing, he wouldn’t make an offer until the book that was submitted to him was 100% right for the market – he has just acquired an author whose previous four novels he (and everyone else in London) had turned down despite liking them a great deal. Thus, I have to believe the writers I take on are truly wonderful, or it’s pointless submitting them.  I just wasn’t entirely drawn in by your story and characters – I wasn’t thinking WOW, which is what I look for.  Another agent may feel differently, of course. So often, it’s about unquantifiable gut reaction and the pricking of your thumbs.

FYI, I’ve taken on about forty writers as clients and turned down well over 9,000, so far…I know it can be as difficult to get an agent as it is to be taken on by a publisher.  You just have to keep plugging away.

All best wishes for the future – and apologies again for not coming back more quickly.

Yours

John Jarrold
Website:  http://www.johnjarrold.co.uk/

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