Act One and Character Interview – Draegon Grey

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The Act One part of the interview is now live.  Draegon reviews ‘A Construct of Angels’ and scores it for pace, language and story satisfaction.

The Character Interview is also live.

In this interview, Darryl discusses the events of the first few chapters with my main character, Sara Finn  and asks how her experiences affected her.

It was fun being in character for this interview and having Sara take a little time out from being chased by Spawn, Anakim and Nephilim.  If you’ve read the book, you’ll know that she deserves a bit of a break…

n270 plus keep calm

Write on!

Author interview with Draegon Grey

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smoking man

I’ve just completed the first part of an author interview with Draegon Grey.  It surprised me how much fun something like this can be – almost like reliving the whole process of writing the novel over again.  Happy memories, the small problems that seemed so insurmountable at the time and the joy of completing the work…they all came flooding back.

The second part, a character interview with Sara Finn, my protagonist, will follow soon.

In the meantime, you can read the ‘Author Moment’ interview here.

Write on!

A new post about a new post

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workflow

If you are a planner, I imagine that the answer to my next question will be obvious;

What inspires you to write that next post?

If you’re a planner, you’ve probably got a list of ideas to draw from, a sequence of posts that lead from one to the next to the next and so on.  You may have a teaching plan that unfolds week by week to build into an exciting and informative series of articles.

But what if you hail from the Planet Pants?

sachyn planet

What if you happen to be an impetious and spontaneous fly-by-luck scatterbrain like me?

I can often go for weeks without any idea about what I will post next – aside from my regularly irregular and often-late Six Sentence Sundays.

And then, without warning, an idea will strike, coming out of nowhere like a thunderbolt on a clear summer’s day.

Quickly, ere I forget the subject matter, I will fashion a post from old wood and used pieces of string – and as I write, I often realise that I am trying to cover several subjects, several concepts within the same post.  Rather than (as they said in Top Gun) push a bad position, the disparate subjects will split into enough material to suggest several vaguely-related posts;  In other words, the fledgling post will create spin-off ideas; it will have babies.

A half-dozen little pink and hairless posts will suddenly begin to mewl and squeak and demand to be considered as posts in their own right.

rsvstks baby mice

So the fresh flurry of fledgling posts will be nurtured.  They will be a bit like my family – very loosely related and perhaps a little edgy.  There may be very little to connect them to previous or future posts aside from a single word or a faint, shining thread of thought.

That is why, dear reader, you may see groups of related topics appearing from me – sometimes two or three in one week.

Despite my endeavours to hold them back and release them into the wild one at a time, they will often break free.  When that happens, I am forced to watch helplessly as they circle the internet, scaring young women and inspiring modern Hitchcocks into making new movies a la noir.

But I’m interested to know; How does inspiration strike you?  Your system cannot be as haphazard as mine…surely?

Do you have a rolling plan of posts that stretch towards a vanishing point on the distant horizon?  Or is inspiration fired by a song on the radio, a news article or even another blog post?

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Write on!

Six Sentence Sunday – the sword

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swear to my sword

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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.

. . .

. .

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Hope you like it!

Write on!

Six Sentence Sunday – on time!

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saavem swordsman

Today’s SSS is an extract from ‘A Vengeance of Angels’.  Again, it contains a mild spoiler if you haven’t read the first story; A Construct of Angels.’  So if you don’t want to know how the first book ends, please look away now.

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Michael, now an ex-angel and mortal being, is being addressed by an elderly hospice patient – one who has a reputation as a seer…

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Agatha Carpenter waved a bony finger at me and I felt the chill of one whose fate is irrevocably sealed.  I’d felt it before – as a doomed gladiator, as a convicted witch, as a Jew amongst the Nazis…

“The black swordsman is falling to Earth!” she wailed in a voice edged with hysteria.  “He seeks the one who shines most brightly – and all around him shall perish!” 

I knew a moment of panic. 

She could only be referring to one person; one Anakim…and he was coming for me.

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Write on!

Wednesday Woes

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sspivak image

Some time ago I scoffed at the notion that my sequel to ‘A Construct of Angels’ might be as difficult to …er… construct as the original.

See The difficult second novel?  Nah!

Well, my confidence has taken a knock.  I’m not afraid to admit it, although I do feel slightly foolish at having to retract my former statement.

The high wave that I had been sailing upon, fresh from the joy of having finally achieved a lifetime’s ambition of publishing a book, has now flattened and I feared that I was facing a spell in the doldrums, bereft of the guiding wind that was my Muse.

As the tale within ‘Construct’ drew to a close, I had a clear and certain idea of where the sequel was heading and I’d even planned the ending – something which had been of tremendous help when I’d initially drafted ‘Construct’.

But now that idea is wavering.  I still know how the sequel (A Vengeance of Angels) is going to conclude, but as I passed 25,000 words, I lost focus, the thread and my sense of timing.

I can’t tell you much, but ‘Vengeance’ doesn’t follow directly on from the end of ‘Construct’.  Rather, it meshes with it, beginning two days before ‘Construct’ ended.  That, dear reader, is how I painted myself into a very tight corner.  I still have several events that need to transpire before the ending of ‘Construct’ is briefly revisited and the story continues from that already-published conclusion.

sol one image

So, rather than despair, I reached deep into the archives and dug out my old day-by-day spreadsheet.

hour by hour

click to read spreadsheet

(The above is a sample I put together to illustrate its uses.  If this inspires you in any form, feel free to create a story from it.)

This is one of the very few ‘planner’ tools I used in ‘Construct’ (I AM a confirmed ‘pantser’ after all), but it was invaluable to me.

Armed with this, I intend to review what I’ve already written, then forge ahead and plan out exactly how my self-imposed spiders web of a narrative will unfold.

What was that, you say?  Why can’t I ever do anything the easy way?  For the answer to that, you’ll have to ask my Muse.

Where is she, by the way?

*sighs*  Well, as Kenny Rogers nearly said; ‘You picked a fine time to leave me Loose Wheel.’

Watch this space for a word count that will clock up faster than Clark Griswold’s Christmas electricity bill!

Write on in 2013!

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!

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?

‘A Construct of Angels’ – the first chapter

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To celebrate the completion of the Twelfth Draft of my WIP, I have posted the First Chapter on another page in this blog.

UPDATE: The first five chapters are now viewable at Amazon – just click the link

If you have any thoughts, ideas, criticisms or if something simply doesn’t make sense to you, I’d be very happy to hear your feedback.

It would be useful to hear your opinions as to whether the first chapter ‘draws’ the reader to continue reading.

I won’t repeat any previous comments on that aspect at this time as they may ‘steer’ your opinions.

I am very close to a decision on whether I will publish this on Amazon, (UPDATE: Now published – see link above) rather than wait a whole year (or even longer) to see it as a paperback.

This means that any errors need to be expunged (I’ve always loved that word!) and you, my fellow writers, may be that final defence against humiliation and midnight rewrites.

Enjoy, critique and above all, keep writing!

Andy

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