When inspiration strikes…

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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.

.

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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‘Angels Week’ – no writing, but several locations visited.

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York St Marys

September’s Angels week was, due to various reasons, deferred until the first week of October. The headline says it all. I didn’t get any writing done, but I did manage to spend a productive day in York where I visited one of the proposed locations for ‘Vengeance of Angels.’

The location in question was York St. Mary’s – a former church, now an Arts centre.

Whilst the artwork that was on display was beyond me, the ladies who were at St. Mary’s on the day were very helpful, allowing me to examine the interior of the building and also to take photographs for my notes – something that’s normally prohibited.

I was also able to ascertain whether it would be practical for my characters to spend the night in St. Mary’s. This is essential to the later part of the story, because there is something very, very special about this building, something that makes it a suitable hiding place. :)

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Blog overload? Sheer indulgence? Why not both?

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Today, WordPress sent me this notifcation;

100 followers

It’s a milestone.  Thank you to lindaghill, my 100th follower and to my 103 other friends in the blogsphere.  You have made my (relatively short) journey a pleasure!

I say relatively short – I’ve been blogging since May 2010 but only sent out my first post in July 2012.  I’m sure there are other writers, artists and photographers who have been here for considerably longer.

My early blogging was mainly a journal was was retrospectively filled in to cover my early work back to 1999 -when records began.  :)

Before that, my writing was random and tended to drift from project to project.  I’d often lose focus or interest before anything of worth emerged from the pages – with one exception.  The germ of the idea that eventually evolved into Homeworld began during my senior school years (when they still used Roman numerals) and was always present in the back of my mind.  One day, I WILL go back to those 43,000 words and complete them – now that I know how the story is going to conclude.  Regular readers will know that’s always been an Achillean failing of mine – not being able to conclude a story – but I’m aiming to change that now that I’ve finally managed to (self) publish my first novel.

The title of this post may infer that I have doubts about following so many blogs.

Not at all.  I may not have the time to read each and every post in the same, leisurely manner that I did when I was following fifty bloggers, but that doesn’t mean that opening my ‘Blogs I follow’ tab isn’t a thrill and a pleasure.  It does mean that I sometimes have to skim a little more than I used to, but I’m soon pulled in by an intriguing headline or an amusing title and find simple joy in reading the wisdom of others – plus sharing what I’ve learned so far.

I follow in the footsteps of those who are wiser and more experienced than I am.

.

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Six Sentence Sunday – the sword

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swear to my sword

.

This week’s SSS is an extract from the later part of  ‘A Construct of Angels’.

Michael, our reluctant angel, has just given battle to a demonic swordsman, driving him from the streets of York.  Michael holds one of a pair of black swords in his hand; the other is jammed into the tarmac nearby – the result of a clever defence move by Michael.  However, the swordsman has left behind a dangerous mob, which Michael is holding at bay with the captured sword – although events are about to conspire against him.

Sara takes up the story;

Before my astonished eyes, the black blade began to disintegrate, dropping to the ground like crumbling ashes.

Michael hurled the hilt aside and stared at his hand in horror – a cold chill had raised goosebumps along the entire length of his arm.

The mob chuckled; many of them raised their bottles and makeshift clubs.

A knife flashed, my nerve broke and I leapt forward, racing across the slick street towards Michael. 

My hands reached out towards the second sword that had now toppled, the satin blade having softened the tarmac to leave a puckered crater in the black surface of the road. 

Michael shook himself out of his daze, his darkening fingers reaching for my arm as my fingers closed around the hilt…but he was too late – I was already beyond his reach.

. . .

. .

.

Hope you like it!

Write on!

Six Sentence Sunday – a day late.

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Apologies, but I was very busy yesterday.  Something involving an autojumble, a three-metre table and the sale of my life-long collection of model cars. :(

So, to cheer myself up, I selected six sentences from my now-published book ‘A Construct of Angels’.

hiding face

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This scene takes place once Michael the impromptu angel has been incarcerated in York’s Bootham Park Hospital, a secure (and real-life) mental care unit.

He had been babbling in mutiple (sometimes ancient) languages as well as trying to tear the flesh from his own arms and was promptly assessed by the authorities as mentally incapable.

Sara Finn, the paramedic who was partly responsible for not only causing him to fall to Earth, but for his imprisonment, is feeling terribly guilty about what has happened and decides to visit him.  A nurse called Susie escorts her to Michael’s room, where he appears to be acting very strangely;

.

I watched, fascinated, as Michael pressed his fingers to his eyes, then flipped open his hands to form blinkers.  

For several seconds, he stared at his reflection in the acrylic mirror above the small sink, then covered his eyes before flipping open his hands to stare at his reflection once again.

“He does that a lot,” Susie said, her voice tinged with sadness.  

“But each time he does it, it’s…” her voice trailed off as if she was uncertain of her own thoughts.

“It’s..?” I prompted.

“Well, it’s as if he’s expecting to see a different face looking back at him.”

.

Write on in 2013!

What’s it all about…Author?

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Image courtesy of mattox at Stock Xchng

Since ‘A Construct of Angels’ was published as an Amazon Kindle eBook, I have been asked this question many, many times.   And if I’m honest,  I haven’t always answered it well.  But if you plan to publish in the future (or indeed, you have already) then you should spend a few moments rehearsing your reply.

A verbal synopsis can be as important as the written one, so it’s worth getting it right.

Nothing puts off a prospective buyer more than;

‘Er…um…well…it’s kind of…’

If you, the author, can’t even verbalise a quick synopsis, how can you expect to transmit your enthusiasm to a potential buyer?

The answer that I have found to be very effective is to immediately compare ‘Construct’ to an existing…nay, a household name – Twilight.

Yes, I know it’s a bit cliched and it’s just one of soooo many vampire stories in a super-saturated market…but consider this;

Who HASN’T heard of it?

So if you’ve just written a political thriller , don’t be afraid to say ‘It’s a lot like Tom Clancy / John Grisham / John LeCarre.’

Your rip-roaring sci-fi adventure could do a lot worse than be compared to the huge success of Star Wars.

Even if they forget about your book, the next time they see whatever you’ve compared your work to, they could very well be reminded to browse for your story.

Try ‘You’ve heard of……. right?  Well, this is similar, except….’

And once you’ve established your genre, you can then go on to qualify your comparison, by adding something like; ‘It’s similar to Star Wars, but without the Wookies’ or ‘but Tom Clancy never went where my story goes..right into the corrupted heart of the DEA.’

The verbal synopsis of ‘Construct’ has evolved into something like this;

‘You’ve heard of Twilight and all the other vampire books?’

They nod.

‘This is similar, but with no vampires or werewolves allowed.’

‘Okay…’ they say, wondering what IS allowed.

‘It’s based in York.’

That gets their attention – it’s somewhere local (to us).

‘A paramedic who works there goes to the mortuary because she thinks her dead brother has just been found.’

Awww…the sympathy expression.

‘But while she’s there – she accidentally pulls down an angel into one of the bodies.’

‘Ooh?’  is the usual surprised reaction.  ‘How could this be?’ they may wonder.

‘It turns out that this angel has only six days to save the world, otherwise Hell will take over and civilisation is finished.’

‘Six days?’

‘Yep.  The clock is ticking.  Six days – and everything goes to Hell.’

After that, they usually begin to ask questions about the story and how long it took to write, and the synopsis is no longer in the spotlight.  Job done.

So, my advice is to Compare, then Qualify and finally Expand.

Give it a try when you’re in a quiet place (a railway platform or a bookshop is probably not the best venue).

Imagine that you’ve finally landed that longed-for radio interview.  Millions are listening with baited breath (don’t worry, they can’t see your reclusive yet artistic face) to hear what your book is about – and you have between fifteen and twenty seconds to sum it up.

Go for four sentences.  Short and snappy.  Get their interest.  Compare, Qualify, then Expand.

In closing, I should tell you this;

My worst ever answer?

‘So what’s your (High Fantasy) book about?’

‘It’s…er…it’s complicated.’

The curious party walked away, none the wiser.  Don’t send potential buyers away with no desire to check out your book.

Write on!

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