When inspiration strikes…

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WP_20140503_012

Recently, an opportunity arose for a Saturday visit to York, the setting for ‘The Angels of York’ trilogy.

Well, it follows, doesn’t it? :D I had to go.

At the time, the final chapter and Big Battle scene was quietly pushing open the door, ready to peer into the room. I was happy with the way my characters had used the church I’d researched last year (as detailed in ‘Angels Week‘), but I didn’t want to stage an unholy battle between the denizens of Heaven and Hell inside a church. Too much damage. So as I headed into York on the city bus, I perused the city centre map in the hope that inspiration might strike – and it DID!

A diagram of the ancient (rebuilt many times) city wall leapt out at me, particularly the acute angle of the North-West corner. I decided to investigate – and found myself here:

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Very photogenic – and a distinct possibility for the site of an unholy battle.

Unfortunately, I’d taken a wrong turn in my attempts to find it. I was on the wrong street. York is a medieval maze of narrow twists and turns. I’d been steered away from my goal.

So I began again, paying closer attention to the street names, and finally found myself in this place:

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This is the outer section of the corner keep. Quite imposing to an attacking force, you might think.

Inside, it looked like this:

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Rather difficult to defend unless you were on your knees – or you happened to be called Tyrion Lannister.

Seems the Victorians who refurbished this part of the wall had little use for its defensive capabilities, preferring instead to reconstruct it into a viewing platform.

Still, I could envisage the possibilities of the battle in this setting and was satisfied that I needed to look no further. I took a few photographs and returned home to research the history of this section of wall.

I was able to make use of the new outdoor location almost immediately. Once my characters had finished with the church, the story picked up at the corner section of the wall in dramatic (I hope) style.

Apologies to English Heritage for all the damage I’m about to cause in the narrative. It IS necessary for artistic reasons – honest.

In other news, I am now typing furiously on my replacement Netbook, a Windows 7 version of my poorly Acer Aspire One.

Unfortunately, Acer issued this model with a set of flat keys, rather than the earlier chamfered type, which has led to an increased number of typo.

I’m struggling to get used to it and wish they hadn’t changed something that worked perfectly well for the sake of asthetics. :(

So, first draft now has its dramatic climax. On with the read-through.

Hope your writing is marching along too!

Introducing, for the first time… Ginger:

Be nice and say hi. He has rather large (virtual) shoes to fill.

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acern270ginger write on

 

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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The genre system – is it good enough any more?

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digitalart, freedigitalphotos dot net

I’ve been browsing through the ‘Blogs I follow’, trying to keep up with all the discussions, concerns and new releases and I’ve been seeing a lot of posts where authors are grumbling (quite rightly IMHO) about the trouble they’re having with squeezing their novel into a genre category.

And it’s not surprising. For instance, on Wikipedia, there are currently 80 genres and sub-genres listed under fiction alone. Yikes! My own novel,  ‘A Construct of Angels’ would currently fit into the horror, romance, Urban fantasy, religious fantasy, thriller or mystery categories.

There are How-to-Write books on the market that happlily suggest that writers should choose a genre and write within its boundaries if they want to sell. But why should we have to work within such restrictions? We’re not aiming towards library shelves. Some of us aren’t even looking towards bookshops any more. The electronic age has changed all that.

In these days of indie eBook publishing, with sub-genres and even sub-sub-genres sprouting up, the whole idea of ‘genre’ feels overloaded and outdated. Of course, to declare that, an alternative is needed and here’s my (fledgling) idea;

Wouldn’t it benefit both readers and retailers if some sort of ‘tick box’ or a graphic system was introduced where the elements of the book can be highlighted (or illustrated) by a sliding colour scale such as we have with rated domestic applicances (in Europe at least)?

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energy rating

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I experimented with a few variations on this theme and didn’t find them to be flexible enough as I was still having to insert genre labels. It was colourful, but no better in terms of classification. Perhaps you could see a way to make it work.

So I tried a pie chart instead. This is a simple chart, created using ten subjects that are most relevant to my debut novel  ‘A Construct of Angels’;

CoA pie chart

Note that I said the ten most relevant subjects – there are others that I could justify adding in there, but ten is plenty. Perhaps ten is too many and five would suffice. Who knows? This is all hypothetical and open for discussion.

BTW, for you with your magnifying glasses against the screen, there’s only 0.5% sex in the story. :D

In an ideal world, the catergories would be listed from most relevant to least relevant, top to bottom, thus;

CoA pie chart sort

This arrangement should make it easier for the potential buyer to interpret. They would be free to scan the top two or three subjects and decide if the story is for them or not. They might still be swayed if their favourite genre was listed as number four or five – something which wouldn’t happen if the book had been listed under ‘Thriller’ when they prefer to read about religion- or horror-based stories.

I don’t think it would be too difficult for an algorithmist like Amazon to feed the percentages into their version of Deep Thought deep in the heart of Amazonia and begin to categorise the books in this way.

As I said, this is all hypothetical.

Do you think the time has come for the library shelf-based genre categories to be given a shake-up? Perhaps you have a fledgling idea that leaves my suggestion eating dust.

If so, please share! I would be happy to eat humble pie chart. :)

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keep calm plus author inside

Six Sentence Sunday – the battle

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Monumeto a los Lanceros de Boyaca<br />Monumento ubicado en Boyaca, en un lugar llamado Pantano de Vargas. Escultura dedicada a la memoria patria y la batalla allí ocurrida en busca de la independencia de Colombia.

This week’s extract is from ‘A Construct of Angels’ and describes the impromptu angel Michael’s battle against the self-named Damocles, an Anakim, or demon’s offspring.

At this point, Michael is only just beginning to realise his powers and has very little to time to explore them before Damocles attacks him with deadly force.

White light exploded across Michael’s vision as a hurricane of force roared about him; the world spun away in a dizzying blur and the ground hurled itself aside to give way to a vast body of water.  Something dark slammed into Michael’s chest, smashing the breath out of him.

Spinning wildly, he ripped across the sky, supersonic shockwaves exploding from his arms and legs, but Michael willed his hurtling body to stop and the shockwaves instantly vanished from his limbs – but even as he slowed, a dark blur rocketed straight towards him. 

This time Michael’s reactions were faster – he spun around, avoiding the hurtling shape just as he had side-stepped the black sword and watched as Damocles exploded past him like a missile, already turning to strike again. Watching the black dot grow larger by the second,  Michael’s determination resolved –  he would no longer be pushed around by the approaching Anakim.

Damocles cannoned into him faster than a fighter jet.

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A Construct of Angels is FREE on Amazon Dec 1st and 2nd 2012

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‘A Construct of Angels’ has now been live at Amazon for five weeks now…the time has come to use two of the five ‘freebie days’ on Amazon KDP to list ‘Construct’ as a free download.

This will (if all goes to plan) apply to Saturday and Sunday (1st and 2nd December), hopefully from 0001 Pacific Time Saturday to 2359 Pacific on Sunday…give or take.

If you’ve already downloaded a copy, please tell your Kindle (or Kindle-for-PC enabled – a free download from Amazon) friends that ‘Construct’ will be available for this period.

Or if you’ve been the (lucky?) recipient of one of my advance copies, please download a free copy so that you will be able to (if you so desire) leave a line of feedback when you are able.

The rumour is that Amazon is busy removing feedback from peeps that haven’t procured a copy from their site.

I emphasise that this is just gossip at the moment and I haven’t seen any first-hand evidence of it.

As this is the first time I have tried the Amazon KDP free download day feature, I will feed my  experiences back to you in my next post.

Please take advantage of this offer if the genre appeals to you and if you are able to, please be kind and leave some feedback.

Feedback is a very valuable commodity to debuting authors and helps to boost credibility, build buyers’ confidence and hopefully encourage future sales!

Thank you.

Write on!

Well, I’ve only been and gone and done it!

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Well, I’ve only been and gone and done it (as they used to say in the old Brit flicks).

jumping for joy

Yep.  It’s done.  Too late to back out now.

What? I hear you cry in exasperation.

I’ve only gone and published on Amazon.

It’s all about the journey

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I’d long been an avid cynic of reality TV shows such as X Factory, Pop Idle, Big Brooder, (disparaging mis-spellings intentional) et al, citing them as simple ratings magnets that were all hype and no substance.

I’d avoid them like the cliche, eschewing Saturday night television altogether, tutting at the oft-hyped results and the acres of tabloid coverage they seemed to generate.

But little by little, weekend visits to a friend’s house resulted in the television (which seemed to have no ‘off ‘ function) drawing my eye and ear towards the (often hapless) auditionees on ‘X Factor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ every Saturday night. 

I found myself becoming intrigued, for no reason that I could fathom.  I didn’t know these people, these fame-seeking wannabes (only some of whom were quietly talented and later became successful) and yet I found myself increasingly drawn into their stories as they inched their way towards the stars.  I followed them from their earliest beginnings.  I saw their spotlight-dazzled faces as they shuffled reluctantly onto an over-large stage to croak out a few nervous bars of their favourite song.  And then I watched their eyes light up as the crowd called out its approval.

But why was I watching this IQ-sapping drivel; this thinly-disguised attempt to solicit viewers (and before you mentally compose hate-mail, please let me finish), this apparent waste of valuable writing time?

It suddenly became clear to me when I unexpectedly became hooked on yet another reality TV show – Masterchef.  

Hooked? Why?  I know nothing about food.  I can barely make mashed potato or an edible cheese sauce.  To this day I am still able to slide rock-hard frozen food onto a microwave platter with only a basic idea of why it emerges twenty minutes later as a hot, steaming meal.  I have no aspirations to create Langoustine consommé with lemon tuiles and pea puree, or to begin experimenting with molecular gastronomy (although liquid Nitrogen does look like a wonderful toy).

The chemistry of food defies my kind of logic.  It’s a pleasure to eat, true, but the assembly is an alien process to me and most likely will forever remain that way. 

But there I was, week after fascinated week, watching untrained but enthusiastic amateurs, their fumbling fingers creating elegantly-assembled dishes of confit duck on a bed of celeriac mash to Michelin-class standards.   But why?  In the name of the knife, fork and spoon, why??

Then it finally clicked.  The title of this post says it all.  It was about the journey.

We aspiring writers have very similar goals to those clumsy cooks, those shaking singers, those jittering jugglers.  We are all on the same journey of self-discovery – with the hope of our own selves being discovered.  Or our work, at least.

I realised that by watching these rising stars gain new skills and achieve undreamed-of heights, my thoughts were paralleling their journey with my own aspirations, because I hoped that I would also (one day) experience a similar journey. 

My mind had latched onto these stories in an unconscious act of self-preparation.

It may be that every individual who achieved the final three of Masterchef, X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent has already inspired me; proved to me that it IS possible to lift our (literary) voices from behind the background noise of society enough to be heard. 

Ordinary mortals like us can achieve great things.  But it takes time.  It takes a measure of confidence.  But it can require a good measure of encouragement from our peers too. 

It is perhaps because of all of this that I am mentally prepared for the next step of ePublishing, the quiet, stealthy equivalent of seeing my work in Bookers or Waterstones.  I dare to touch my toe to the chill waters of public consumption and say to them ‘nibble on that,’ whilst thinking ‘pleasedon’tbite, pleasedon’tbite!’

The journey from ‘I could write a book’ through ‘could I write a book?’ to ‘I have written a book’ is moving forward.  Who was it that said; ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’?

But where is your journey taking you? How far have you already come?

Have you been inspired by stories of success or sheer determination? 

Have you watched others climbing the ladder towards success, feeling that your journey was headed the same way?

Do you feel (particularly with ePublishing opening up new possibilities) that the impossible is now possible?

Share your story with us.  Tell us where your journey is taking you.

Write on – and encourage others to do the same in every way that you can.

  

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