Apologies – been busy *tries to get breath back*

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exhausted

Image courtesy of YelloShine at StockXchng

Hello everyone. I have finally emerged from my writing cave after an obsessive recheck of my MS for ‘A Construct of Angels.’

Following the re-launch on February 28th, I spotted a typo in the first chapter whilst posting a sample of the story onto Wattpad (yes, I’ve managed to stretch myself even thinner!).  Anxious as to why I’d missed something so basic, I felt compelled to re-read the whole story (again) – and I’m very glad I did. Scores of silly mistakes scuttled around in the daylight once that particular rock had been lifted, mistakes that should never have happened. I can only blame the way I used Word (in ‘show all changes’ mode) to enter the edit suggestions from Tara, my editor and ‘Words with Friends’ buddy.

I will be applying the lessons from this latest faux-pas to my next MS and sequel to CoA, ‘A Vengeance of Angels.’

So, I finally completed the read-through and Sonya Loveday has kindly offered to read it through for me, because if I have to read that story one. more. time. I might go a wee bit crazy. *sigh* Does everyone get to this love-hate stage with their MS, where they cannot bear to plough through it yet again?

If Sonya gives it the all-clear, I will finally be able to revisit the CreateSpace site and upload the finished MS, before I order a second proof copy. It’s been a long time coming…

In the meantime, Write On!

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The Writing Process Blog Hop

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Hops

Hops… :D

A few days ago, a baton in the form of a rolled-up newspaper arrived at my (virtual) door.

“Delivery from Jon,” the courier declared impatiently, as if he was eager to be on his way.

“Which Jon?” I asked. I knew many people called -

“Jumping from cliffs Jon,” he snapped, glancing back down the (virtual) garden path where my (virtual) dog was eyeing him up.

“Oh, that Jon.” I signed something that might have been a delivery note, or a promise to dedicate my life to achieving Peace on Earth at any cost, and let the courier go on his way, closely followed by my (virtual) dog… who was by now baring his (virtual) teeth. I unrolled the newspaper, which was a few days old by now (aren’t they all out of date the moment they’re printed anyway?) and a small scrap of paper fluttered to the ground.

‘Writing Process Blog Hop,’ it read, once I’d rescued it from the slavering jaws of my virtual dog (whom I shall now call Charles Xavier).

‘Be there or admit to being a parallel quadrilateral,’  it continued. I turned the scrap over, but could find no address. So I hopped onto Google, fell off, jumped back on and found a link to Jon’s Writing Process Blog Hop. My reputation as an irregular polygon was secure.

(It was at this point, I began to wonder if I’d accidentally absorbed some of Jon’s slightly deranged, yet brilliant enthusiasm from the virtual rolled-up newspaper. I decided to lie down for a little while… just in case.)

*A little while later, after a strong coffee and once the sun had cleared the yardarm…*

Despite a lack of information of Jon’s seventeen favourite carnivorous mammals, or references to sock colour, I found Jon’s post enlightening. The format of this particular Blog Hop diverges from the intriguing irrelevance of most Blog Hops insomuch as it seeks to uncover those reasons why we writers choose to endure the anguish of creativity – and what we create as result.

The questions posed are as follows (with my own answers forming the ham, cheese and perhaps a little mayo in the sandwich).

1) What are you working on?

My second novel and sequel to ‘A Construct of Angels.’ It’s a contemporary urban adventure / romance / mystery thriller, one-third completed and waaay behind schedule because I’ve taken so much time honing (and re-honing) the first novel. My thinking was, if the first book wasn’t absolutely spot-on and free of errors, who’s going to bother reading the second one? Anyway, the second book back-tracks slightly and begins two days before the first one ended, meaning I can revisit the final scene and let the reader experience it from a different character’s POV. Although the first book concluded neatly, there were still a great many aspects that could be elaborated upon – and now expanded upon in the sequel, where there’s space to do such things.

2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?

I’m hoping my WIP will be unique. It’s a romantic supernatural thriller, but with no vampires, werewolves or shapeshifters in sight. Nor are there any inexplicable teenage college crushes. That’s right – no teens. Aside from one small person who is aged four, everyone is between the ages of twenty and one thousand three hundred and thirty seven (no, really!). Also, my story is set in modern-day York (England), which is rare enough, and features many real-life locations which can be visited. Book Two will follow the same style and include new locations.

3) Why do you write what you write?

I was writing apocalyptic sci-fi before I was a teenager – creating worlds where only a chosen few survived. Subconsciously, I think it was my way of coping with my harsh and unfair childhood. By removing most of the population, and keeping only those I trusted, I was probably trying to exercise a measure of control over the world – a control that didn’t exist outside my writing. Later, I shifted towards High Fantasy, where I created worlds from scratch  and populated them with (mainly) trustworthy characters. Now? I’m hoping that my (genre-spanning) contemporary supernatural romance urban mystery thriller might help to get me noticed in the world of writing. If I can make my mark, I may be able to complete and (self) publish my earlier High Fantasy work, and perhaps even my first completed sci-fi series.

4) How does your writing process work?

I’m very lucky to be blessed with a constant flow of new ideas. Getting those ideas down in some form, however, can be a real challenge as my day job bounces me around the country on a regular basis. So I do most of my work on a Netbook, a miniature and highly-portable laptop.  I will create clusters of ideas, which will then grow into a linear story, rather like cells in a petri dish, spreading towards each other until all the clusters join together to form a seamless whole. That’s the point at which I begin to work through it, expanding on ideas, conversations and characters, swelling the story in a linear way, rather  like someone slowly blowing air into a long sausage balloon. Have you noticed that they always inflate from the nozzle end and gradually get bigger along their length, rather than expanding everywhere at once? That’s how my story expands.

All of my works to date have been never-ending stories (having no definite ending). The exception is my debut novel – whose ending formed before everything else in the story. So this story was almost written backward, with all events leading to the climax. Weird – but it worked. With the sequel, I also know how it’s going to conclude, so it will be written in the correct order, but with my eye firmly fixed upon that ending.

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Now, according to the convention, I am to tag four other writers who are worthy of note in the Blogsphere. I spent a little time tracing the lineage of this particular hop back through Jon, his nominator Vashti Q Vega, her nominator Amanda Staley and so on back through Karen at mytrainofthoughtson, Jessica P West, JDSFiction, ratiwrites

What? I like to be thorough. I didn’t want to nominate anyone who’d already been named. Plus I’m insatiably curious too. :D

Have alook at some of these other blogs – I found a lot of interesting material there.

So without much ado (too late?), I nominate four bloggers who have been closest to me since the very beginning.

Ryan Casey  - Ryan’s blogs are always informative and he is often way ahead of the game when it comes to anticipating the future for eBooks and their numerous formats. Ryan is a prolific writer and has long been blazing a self-publishing trail that inspired me to follow.

Candace Knoebel  has always been the inspiration I needed, when I needed it most. Her experiences in self-publishing have encouraged me to press on, despite the difficulties and pitfalls.

Sonya Loveday - The other half of the Knoebel-Loveday team, Sonya’s blogs are always fun and informative. BTW, keep an eye out for the Knoebel-Loveday parties being announced. They’re always worth showing up for! Go there, or admit to being a parallel quadrilateral.

Michelle Proulx – Why? In a word: Badgers. When Michelle first showed me her Badgers, I was overjoyed. Her blogs are always packed with fun and irreverent silliness, and the comments often take on a life of their own. They may even be sentient. Plus, Michelle holds the Award for the  longest title for a novel in decades, perhaps even longer.

Jon has been alongside me for most of my blogging journey, but I can’t bounce this back to him. Heck, I’ve named him almost a dozen times on this page already! Kisa Whipkey is also a fun blogging buddy, but Jon’s (that’s another one!) already nominated her. :D

But now, in the style of Michelle Proulx, an unrelated link for you to enjoy:

This is Lucifer, one of the many images from The Brick Testament.

Lego LuciferBehold+the+Metatron!

Theology aside, does anyone think he looks remarkably like Alan Rickman?

Enjoy the Blog Hop!

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ARCs of A Construct of Angels – the 2014 re-launch.

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CoA

As part of the re-launch on Feb 28th, I’d like to offer out a few Advanced Review Copies to my fellow bloggers and readers, preferably in exchange for a fair review of the book on Goodreads or Amazon.

Would anyone be interested?

If so, please let me know in the comments below, and then email me your address to; andybee64 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Please let me know if you’d prefer a Kindle, ePub or PDF version. The paperback is not yet available, but will follow along later. I hope to give away a few of those in the future.

As I’m on the road a lot, plus there’s a re-launch to organise, and I’m trying to pen the sequel etc, etc, so I’ll have to limit the number of ARCs to just fifty.

So first come, first served, as the old saying goes. I’ll leave a comment below when I’ve reached capacity.

P.S. Please don’t just ‘grab and forget’ – this book was written to be read and enjoyed - not cached. And if you’re a book reviewer, let me know and I’ll make available a copy outside of the fifty limit.

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Revisiting the scary world of creation

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terror

After having spent so darn long living with my debut novel, revising, re-revising, then working through Tara Shaner‘s edits, I find myself (finally) back in familiar territory – something that all writers may recognise.

I’d almost forgotten the simultaneous fear and thrill of creating new adventures for my characters, of developing their personalities from the ones I’d grown so accustomed to in the first book, whilst remaining faithful to their original outline.

Just to throw a spanner (wrench) in my own works (something I do very often), I’ve switched First Person POVs for the sequel, describing the new adventures through the eyes (and other senses) of a different main character. For me, it provides a fresh perspective on the character’s mileu.

I just hope the reader will agree. By comparrison, Philip Pullman did something similar between ‘The Northern Lights’ and ‘The Subtle Knife’.

Another spanner/wrench is the two-day overlap that occurs between the first and second books… a sort of half-reboot, if you like. Think of how ‘Back to the Future II’ meshed with the first film - except I’ve used days instead of years. No DeLorean, though. Shame.

By introducing this half-rebooted overlapping First Person POV switch (still with me on this?), I may have limited my timeline to some extent as the confluence of events must fit snugly against the original adventure. On the plus side, the alternative POV enables me to expand on the details of the overlapping scenes.

Win-win? We shall see. Ask me in a year’s time. :D

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CoA

Coming soon! Dun, dun-dundun-duuuun.

Write on!

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A Construct of Angels – the 2014 re-launch.

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CoA post its

It has taken many, many months of hard work, but the revised version of CoA (Kindle, ePub and Kobo) is finally ready to be shown to the world. The paperback is due to follow shortly afterward.

My editor, Tara Shaner and I have been bouncing the MS back and forth across the pond since July, and now, finally, we are both happy with the result. It’s fifty or so pages shorter, two characters lighter and a great deal tighter than before.

I’ve learned a great deal during the process of revision (old hands will nod sagely at this point, but bear with me).

An edit is not just about spelling and grammar. It’s as much about the flow as it is about the structure. It’s about plot threads and loose ends; developing characterisations as well as removing characters who either complicate or lend nothing to the plot. Pace, language and humour are also essential elements of an engaging MS.

I began 2013 with the certainty that after scores of read-throughs, my MS would be error-free and ready to roll.

No need for an editor, I thought.

I can do English. I know how to use punctuation.

I was so naive.

I’ve learned, by taking this long way around, that it really does take an outside and professional eye to spot repetitive or erroneous patterns in a Manuscript – and to offer solutions. A writer can become settled and overly accustomed to the flow of the story and (I have caught myself doing this at times) can tend to ‘read’ the story, rather than edit it objectively.

Be in no doubt that you may begin to question your own skill as a writer as overused words, inappropriate dialogue tags and pointless character actions are unearthed before your disbelieving eyes. ‘Did I really write that? What was I thinking?’

But a good editor should also indicate the places where your work shines, where the humour tickles and where the pace grips the reader. And whilst human nature will automatically remember the bad over the good, an indicator of  competent, nay, great work will help to soften the blow – as well as encouraging the writer not to throw in the towel.

I know where my towel is. :D

So the re-launch is imminent. Watch this space and if you can, please join me on my Author page for some fun, frolics and giveaways on Friday, 28th February.

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If you’re struggling with that minority language called ‘British’…

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aleazzurro  keyboard

I have occasionally ecountered comments that pointed out my failings - one of them being misspellings.

My spelling ‘mistakes’ often get picked up on Facebook and (occasionally) on WordPress.

I like to think I’m very thorough when I’m writing and take pride in my spelling and grammar.

Yes, I soemtimes mis-type (who doesn’t?) as my ‘want to type’ speed exceeds my ‘able to type’ speed and my fingers become a pink blur above the keyboard.

However, when I begin to receive feedback that I ‘should check my speling’ (sic) and see one-word corrections for my spelling when there is nothing amiss, I begin to see red.

I’ve been told (more than once) that I use a lot of British English (BrE). Yes, that’s true. I’m British, my characters are English and their story takes place in England. That would follow, wouldn’t you think?

Apparently not.

Ciara Ballintyne appears to have the same problem and states her case here .

So recently, I’ve been writing British English, but with the knowledge that non-Brits may very well read my work. For instance, my character drives a Volvo ambulance instead of the (correct) locally-sourced type because only Brits would know what a Vauxhall Astra was. However, I don’t compromise on ‘labour’ or ‘honour’, ‘realise’ or ‘criticise’ because Brit readers would hate me for it. My characters use Pounds rather than Dollars. I was astounded when I was told that someone had to Google ‘Biro’ because it wasn’t clear that it was a ball point pen.  What are those cheap, crystalline ball point pens made by BIC known as in the US - BIC pens?

These are things we need to know…

British English

I had considered adding a disclaimer stating that the book contains ‘British English’ just to clarify. In this electronic age, the written word is spread far and wide and a novel in English could easily have been written in Australia, South Africa, Japan or any number of countries. I learned recently that along with Australia, Canada still uses BrE, which was a bit of a surprise. I wonder how many other countries do? I’d be interested to know that Britannia does not stand alone…

Write On!

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The editing continues – revisiting CoA (again)

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lucianotb remington

Sometimes, I’ve been extremely fortunate in my writing journey. When I’ve needed them the most, I’ve met people who have shown me that ePublishing is not only possible, but in some ways it is preferable to traditional publishing. 

During my year of querying agencies and receiving a whole basketful of raspberries, around the time I’d started to build my author platform, I quickly began to encounter other writers, some of whom were still querying, others who had decided to go it alone by self-publishing.

And as they proved to me that there is definitely hope after rejection, one author in particular steered me towards the tutorials that explained how I could complete the process myself.  Thanks Ryan!

I’ve also become friends with several other authors who went on to recommended exactly the right cover artist.

Thank you everybody! You are my guardian angels. Or at the very least, he recommended you all. :)

Now I am entering a new phase in my writing. By sheer chance, and some very fortunate timing, I have become friends with Tara, an aspiring editor who began by examining my first chapter, but went on to review the entire MS.  We are now working together on a complete and thorough edit of CoA.

When I wrote the post How to accept editing feedback I thought that accepting a professional critique would be much more daunting, but Tara has been fair as well as thorough with my MS.

She even likes my jokes… :)

As I write this, we have already made some major changes to the story and I now have several words to purge from the MS, on pain of nagging.

It seems that I use the words ‘just’, ‘like’ and ‘sigh’ a great deal (thanks, WordSmith!), to the point where it has begun to leap off the page at Tara. *Sighs* We are also discussing the intricacies of ‘forwards’ versus ‘forward’ and it looks as if I have sinned with ‘towards’ as well. Taking into account that I write in British English (BrE), we both understand that different rules apply on our respective sides of the Big Pond, but she may have me cornered in this instance. :)

However, Tara seems to enjoying the peculiarities of BrE and I’m slowly introducing her to some of our colloqualisms. I’ll soon have her speaking like a native of the UK and then we can be china plates for life!

Once we’ve finished my fish hook, of course. 

Toodle-pip!

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One year on from my first post – and look what’s changed!

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100th post

A few days ago, WordPress sent me a reminder that I’d just published my 100th post – and I was taken aback.

I suddenly realised that it has been almost exactly one year since I first created my first ever post; The best rejection letter ever?

And what a lot has happened in those twelve months – just look at the stats;

Last July                                      This July

1 post                                            100+ posts

2 WP followers                             235+ WP followers (update?)

20 Facebook followers                 900+ Facebook followers

no Twitter account                        475+ Twitter followers

No eBook published                      eBook self-published

No paperback                                 Paperback very close to completion

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This is all part of spreading the word, of building an author platform – and it’s looking quite good, IMHO.

Along the way, I have met some very talented people. Some of them are constantly beating a path for the rest of us to follow, whilst others are still following their aspirations to publish. Many are very, very close to that first eBook or printed book.

Then there are the non-writer bloggers who post recipes, amazing photographs or offer philosophical insights that leave me thinking ‘wow…’

I have learned a great deal since last July. Back then I had just exhausted my 102-strong list of UK-based Literary Agencies and whilst I’d received some encouragement along the way (notably The best rejection letter ever?), I was no closer to being published.

At that time I was on a knife-edge, wondering if I ought to begin querying US-based agencies – but electronically. I could never have afforded the postage costs. I was already several hundreds of pounds down (I still am) and further investment would have crippled me financially.

And then I began hearing, via Facebook and WordPress, about self-publishing. I was (at first) curious – and then intrigued. I wanted to know more.

The seed was sown. As the rejection letters continued to trickle in, I decided to learn all I could about creating and publishing an eBook, just in case none of the agencies picked up my book. They didn’t – so I launched myself into the world of ePublishing. The rest, as they say, is history. Very recent history – and something I could not have done without help from fellow bloggers.

Capture

Sharing – it’s the best part of blogging! It makes the lonely business of writing feel a lot less…well, lonely. We all get to read about other people’s experiences on a daily basis, both the good and the bad. Most notable is Ryan Casey’s runaway success with his short stories and novels and Michelle Proulx’s difficult journey with the publisher iUniverse. Both authors have flourished, but their experiences contrast greatly. But even bad experiences can teach us all something. Thanks for sharing, Michelle!

What’s most encouraging is the great feedback that I’ve received. Every comment makes me want to post again…and again. I love seeing that little orange star at the top of my dashboard. It’s encouraging to know that someone had read and ‘liked’ my words. But even more heart-warming is that little orange speech bubble. Whatever I was about to do, whatever words I had in mind…they get sidelined as I click on the bubble to see the message that has been left.

A blogger once remarked that comments are addictive. They were right. I love them! They have delivered support and encouragement in so many different ways. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to leave me feedback.

I wonder if my second year of blogging will be as fascinating and thrilling a ride as the first?

See you all in July 2014!

Keep blogging (especially Shay Starcaller)!

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Post Script;

What I hadn’t expected – and this came right out of the blue as I was preparing to post, was this;

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I really had NO IDEA that I’d been with WordPress for so long.  It’s true that I’ve chronicled my writing endeavours as far back as 1999 (see The Homeworld Saga), but that was all retro-written just to document where my modern writing began to coalesce properly.

But four years?

Wow…

Time does fly when you’re having fun doing what you love the most!

CreateSpace – Part IV of my anticlockwise journey towards a paperback

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CoA post its

Isn’t this is the BEST justification EVER for ordering a Proof copy of your Print on Demand novel?

I used nearly three packs of Post-it strips marking out typos (not too many), weird spacing issues (loads) and missing or shifted text (scores – mostly at the bottoms of pages where text had been moved to fill the silly gaps).

I also took the opportunity to have one last crack at polishing the prose as I went. Who says a writer is never done editing?

Anyway, Big Lesson learned here; Never assume that because it looks fine on the screen, it’ll be fine in print. WRONG!

And don’t order TWO copies in the naive hope that the print will be fiiiine *casually dismisses problem with a wave of his hand* and you would be able to send one of them to…for instance…your mother.

So glad I didn’t…

Unless you are planning to use an editing buddy, someone who will be reading the second copy, don’t waste your money. Order ONE, fix it, THEN order another proof – just to be certain.

Sure, it all takes time…an interminable period during which you are champing away, desperate for the process to be completed. But as I’ve posted before, patience is most definitely required in this self-editing game.

So, now that I have completed my read-through, I only need to update my electronic version and re-submit the document to CreateSpace…and order another proof copy, which must come all the way from the US… by snail mail..and then read through THAT…and identify any remaining errors.

*drums fingers in agitation*

How long is the average human lifespan?

Muse; Patience, Mister Toynbee, patience.

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See…for I have Scrivened!

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Mattox MS

I’ve now successfully used Scrivener to compile, complete and sell a short piece of work (15,000 words) as well as continuing to construct a complex novella about Valkyries and I’m pleased to report that I found it to be a very helpful writing tool.

I have no doubt that the seasoned Scrivern-ers amongst you will be nodding sagely, as I am telling you something they already know – that Scrivener is very, very useful to writers.

But if I tell you why it was so useful, then perhaps the reason for my praise will become clearer. The screen shots below might be the first you’ve seen of Scrivener, but for the old hands they will be all too familiar (in a good way).

Simply put, Scrivener allows the writer to build their manuscript chapter by chapter, or in  the case of the novella, scene by scene so that the story can be built in sections. Ideal for Planners, but also useful for Pantsers like me. :D

If you wanted to be this organised in Word, you’d need either a dozen separate Word docs or you’d have to put up with scrolling / word searching / constructing a table of contents in order to hop back and forth between research and story…and back again.

Scrivener screen shot

As the Scrivener scenes / chapters are filled, they can be linked together (compiled) at any time to form one temporary document which can be read straight through. This will also provide a word count for the whole project (visible at the bottom of the Valkyrie document above). The document can then be dismantled with a single click and you can go right back to working on individual scenes / chapters. Or the whole project can be exported in multiple formats at any time. This has an added bonus – it keeps projects free of all those irritating little formatting errors that Word documents accumulate…errors that make eBook formatting into a nightmare.

Scrivener screen shot2

Additional folders can be created ad infinitum, depending on the extent of your research. Templates of characters and their relationships (not shown here) and settings, geography and history can be placed in named folders, ready for instant access.  Images can also be added into the binder – see the last item in the binder above - plus video and audio files.

This is particularly useful to me; I use an Acer Netbook for my writing. It’s an Intel Atom device that grinds to a halt if more than half-a-dozen documents are opened at one time – something I would need to do if I was to have all my research and reference images to hand. But by using Scrivener, I can now keep all my information in one place – and it’s all accessible from a single folder with a single click. Plus, having everything close at hand keeps my Windows taskbar clear of multiple documents.

Scrivener also allows the writer to create folders relevant to the chapters close at hand, in the preferred order and with multiple sub-folders. I’ve tried this using Microsoft and find myself having to include numbers as part of the folder names to prevent them from being sorted alphabetically.

Although my Scrivener trial period hasn’t ended, I’ve now gone ahead and purchased it. At £34 (about $50), I’m convinced that it will be an invaluable asset to me. All my future projects will now be created in Scrivener, only becoming Word documents at the very end.

asifthebes thumb

If you’re interested, Scrivener is available as a trial download from here;

(Please note that I am in no way affiliated with Literature and Latte. I’m merely pointing the way for you.)

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Something that is ME

Ink Spillage

Another Teenage Writer with Crazy Ideas

Covered in Beer

by Thomas Cochran. Just another idiot on the Internet...Great.

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