‘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

Fill the void.

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That void is upon me once again.

You know the one (or perhaps you haven’t reached that stage yet  – but you will);  that enforced emptiness between reviewing your current WIP and either (delete as appropriate) reviewing it again / waiting for an Agent to respond to your query.

Popular opinion is to leave a reviewed MS for between 2 to 4 weeks (longer, ideally) before looking at it again.

So, you’ve just emerged from a protracted writing / reviewing flurry and you’re still carrying all that creative momentum.  It’s rather like lifting a moving bicycle off the ground.  You’ve stopped the frame, but the wheels are still spinning.

But what do you do now?  Do you;

Start a brand new project?

Start the sequel, even if the original isn’t yet fully formed?

Read (outside your own genre, naturally)?

Begin something constuctive?

Or just chill out and bury yourself under a pile of books?

Ideally, I’d love to just take myself off to the Bahamas for a month and chill before re-embarking on my writing marathon, but sadly, I’ll have to investigate more practical avenues…

For me, my sequel ‘Vengance of Angels’ has been simmering on the back burner for far too long now, on hold whilst ‘A Construct of Angels’ was being fettled over and over.

The truth is, I’m impatient to crack on with it.  So, like a restrained greyhound who’s seen the rabbit circling the track one too many times, I’m ready to do a Usain Bolt.  ‘Vengance of Angels’ is rolling again, one year on whilst the Twelfth Draft of  ‘A Construct of Angels’ rests.

Although there is my fourth Twilight video I have yet to finish making…

Decisions, decisions.

What have you done to fill the void?

Did you just kick off your writing shoes (writing shoes?  Now that’s a question for another post) or do you avoid all distraction and open a new Word Document to maintain your momentum?

Extra-genre readers – the ideal soution?

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My Muse has slipped her leash again…

My WIP is reaching (I hope) its conclusion.  Now in its twelfth incarnation, it has undergone numerous changes.  It has lost its original ending (recycled to a later book), 15,000 words, and its original POV format. 

The city in which the story was set has changed and even the genders of the two main characters has been switched round. 

As a result, the very early notes bear almost no resemblance to the later and completed story.  I imagine that this isn’t unusual, though.

But what I don’t know, despite all of this upheaval, is this; has the story improved at all?

From version 5.0, the first form in which I was prepared to let anyone else read it, my WIP has been passed out to more than a dozen friendly readers.

This has normally been followed by an ear-straining silence from them.

I can’t help but wonder (nail-biting newbie writer that I am) if this is because my work is so appallingly bad, stuffed with cliches and bad dialogue, that they can’t bring themselves to tell me the truth for fear of hurting my (admittedly sensitive) feelings.

Patience (for several weeks), polite queries (have you had a chance to read?’ and ‘hope I’m not bothering you, but…’) that are answered by ‘um…not yet’ or ‘I started on it, but…’ only encourage the fear-Kraken to rise anew from the depths.

My thoughts spiral down into ever-tightening coils of concern;

They’ve read it.

They must have.

And they HATE IT!

But how do I get them to admit it?

Do I want them to admit it?

The whole subject becomes an elephant in the room; a source of tension.

Mild paranoia sets in; 

Do I say something? 

Do I say nothing? 

If I ask them, will they resent me for it and hate whatever I’ve written and still not tell me?  Or worse – they might just say it’s nice.  But if I say nothing will they just forget to read it or believe I don’t care what they think?

What’s an uncertain writer to do?

At the other end of the scale, ephemeral feedback such as; ‘I thought there was too much dialogue,’  ‘Yeah, it was good’ and ‘I liked it,’ (yes, I’ve had all three) is worse than useless to a writer.  How can anyone glean anything remotely useful from that?

Scathing criticism, on the other hand, can completely shatter a writer’s confidence.  ‘We can see no market for this type of story,’ one agent told me.

Hmm, no market for supernatural romance.  I see.  Better pass that onto Alyson Noel, PC Cast, Stephenie Meyer et al.

So, already traumatised beyond all reason by this experience, the newbie writer explores another avenue – that of the impartial reader.  Other writers seem like a good choice.  After all, they’re in the same game, right?  They should know a good effort from a stinker, correct?

Only is everyone is honest.

Propping up another writer’s ego with praise when cold, honest critique ought to be levied would be a sin – as bad as well-meaning friends who can’t bring themselves to voice their honest opinion – ‘it needs more work’ (citing Chapter X, paragraph Y as ‘completely confusing’ or ‘difficult to read’).

The most encouraging comments I have received in the past few weeks have been from fellow bloggers (and one friendly reader asking for ‘more, please’ by email).

It’s made me wonder, having seen what others are writing, if reading outside our own genre would produce the best (and the most impartial) feedback.

For One, the reader is less likely to get drawn into the story to the exclusion of remaining ‘editorial’.  I would never have chosen to read a contemporary book about a teenage runaway who gets sold into the slave trade,and yet, when it was passed to me, I was able to read, enjoy and yet remain detatched enough to be able to critique it.  The story has stayed with me to this day.

For Two, the reader is less likely to make numerous comparisons with their own WIP – and there will be less risk of ‘idea trawling’ – a reassurance for the writer involved.

So I hereby pledge (*raises right hand) to read more of other’s work, whatever the genre, to judge it impartially and honestly, even at the risk of providing feedback that may not be exactly what the writer wishes to hear.  

What are your thoughts on feedback?  Could you you cope with honest, if discomfiting, critique?  Could you remain on speaking terms with someone who described your WIP as ‘too slow’ or ‘unengaging?’ 

Write on!

I’ve been judged – and I’m worth $195!

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I was just taking my usual route to my blog via Google (I can’t have a shortcut or bookmark at work – long story!) when I noticed that I got a match at webstatsdomain.

Feeling slightly apprehensive, I clicked on the link – and found that my blog is safe for kids – and it’s worth $195!

Cash or cheque / check?

Who knew that random journaling and general babbling could be so lucrative?

🙂

Liebster Award – times three!

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Wow!  What is it that they say?  You wait for a bus and then three come along at once…

In the last week I have been nominated for the Liebster Award no less than three times!

Thank you Carlyyysarah.

Thank you James M Davis.

Thank you Candace Knoebel.

Now, I have read comments from ‘distant’ bloggers who claim that these awards achieve nothing except increased traffic.

Rubbish!

These awards not only offer a sense of achievement to the newbie blogger, but they reveal to us those fellow bloggers who may have remained undiscovered if they hadn’t been nominated.  I am now folowing more blogs that ever and am thoroughly enjoying the daily content that arrives at my blog and in my Inbox.

What is the Liebster Award?

“The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. The Meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

The rules that come with the Award:

1.      If you are tagged/nominated, you have to post 11 facts about yourself.

2.      Then you should answer the 11 questions the tagger has set for you & generate 11 new questions for the people you subsequently tag.

3.      Tag 11 more Bloggers.

4.      Tell the people you tagged that you did.

5.      No tagging back.

6.      The person you tag must have less than 200 followers.

Firstly, 11 facts about myself:

1. I have been writing since I was ten years old – perhaps longer.

2. I have appeared on BBC TV (twice).

3. Last year, I finally set foot outside Europe (Tangiers) at the age of 47.

4. My niece Heather, whom doctors advised would not survive past the age of four, is now 21 and is thinking of entering politics.

5. I was invalided out of the Royal Air Force in 1994.

6. I haven’t run for over eighteen years (see above).

7.  I do not fear death, but the idea of mental oblivion terrifies me.

8. I have 28 videos on YouTube and have been making (or trying to make) videos since 1979.

9. I love to read and usually have a minimum of three books on the go at any one time.

10. I adore time travel movies because (the well-thought out ones) can really stretch the mind like no other genre.

11. (Everyone I have told about this thinks I am crazy) I would love the challenge of winning a million pounds being able to keep that same million for life, just living off the interest (and always being able to claim that I’m a millionaire).

 

My 11 questions to Andrew Toynbee:

  1. What is your favorite book? I would say my own, because I have spent more time with it than any other and I have grown to love it, but the book that has stayed with me through all others is ‘The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant’ by Stephen Donaldson.
  2. Winter or Summer?  Summer – I am solar powered without a doubt.
  3. Who is the most inspirational person in your life? Stephen Hawking, who has achieved so much in the face of unparalleled adversity.
  4. What is one of your best memories? Appearing on BBC TV in ‘Robot Wars.’
  5. What is your favorite color and why?  Green, because it is the colour of life.
  6. If you could live anywhere, where would you live? Australia.
  7. If you could have one super power, what would it be? The power of flight, because it would make the world so much more accessible (not to mention that it would bring my carbon footprint right down).
  8. American football or European football?  European football – American football is a rarely-seen sport in Britain.
  9. Who are your top 3 favorite authors? Robin Hobb, Stephen Donaldson, E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith.
  10. Are you a night or day person?  Day (see 2.)
  11. Werewolf, Zombie, or Vampire? Vampire.  And if you’re not convinced, see the compelling argument by Raymond at Nightmirrors.

11 questions from Andrew Toynbee and his very own blog…

1. Has any book made you go ‘wow’ as you’ve completed it?
2. From where do you draw inspiration for your stories?

3. Do you listen to music when you write, or do you prefer silence?

4. How has blogging changed your writing or your outlook towards it?

5. What is your favorite food?
6. What finally prompted you to attempt your first novel?

7. Dogs or cats – and why?
8. Naughty books – all the details or leave the story at the bedroom door?
9. What is your current WIP about?
10. Has a movie brought you to tears for any reason?
11. Do you prefer to write at home or elsewhere?

My nominees;

As best I can tell these bloggers have fewer than 200 followers, but being a newbie, I’m not entirely certain… :/

Michelle Oeltjen

Rachelle Gardner

The Last Krystallos

NazilliVille

Title by Jaq

Carlie M A Cullen

Crisply Spoken

A Jar of Fireflies

My Magical Escape

Norfolk Novelist

Emilia Jordan

WordPress has a sense of humour!

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I was tidying up my blog yesterday, changing my post A Little Foreword into a page in its own right so it wouldn’t be shunted downwards every time I posted something.

In doing so (and I don’t know how this happened), I must have ‘liked’ A little Foreword.

Today, I received this image in my email;

I did laugh…

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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