Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Sing - a poem for Christmas

I used to write these poems to be read as the last lesson at our Christmas Morning Carol Service, but my father, who was the Vicar, retired last year, so we're at a new church, who don't need it. So, I thought I'd share it with you. My inspiration this year came from the wonderful tradition of carol singing that I've been joining in as Christmas has approached.


Sing of shepherds sleeping in lonely fields.
Sing of poor men who heard the good news.
Join in chorus for the joy of those who heard that night
Of the birth of Our Salvation.

Sing of Bethlehem, little town unknowing.
Sing of a star shining in the East.
Trill out its beauty to all those who will listen
To our message of Joy and Peace.

Sing of a mother, young and blesséd.
Sing of her love for her holy child.
Whisper a lullaby for the babe in her arms,
Who is God Among Us All.

Sing of a child, lying in a manger.
Sing of God in human form.
Soar your voices in triumph of the Infant King,
Saviour and Lord of All

Merry Christmas

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

This is probably the last day I'll be online until after Boxing Day, so I'd just like to wish all my friends all the joys of the season. :)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Death In The Family 2 UPDATE

I haven't written more than a couple of thousand words since NaNo ended thanks to having other stuff to do, like making presents for friends for Christmas and mundane tasks like taking the cat to the vet for his yearly checkup. However, crafting has left my mind free to wander from time to time and I think I have worked out the spark that was missing from Death In The Family 2, or at least part of it. :D

It means rewriting my notes for the end scenes, but since I haven't got there yet, it's no big deal! The old climax had pace, but not enough build up, this twist on the same situation will build the tension nicely so that the payoff at the end feels all the bigger. It will also allow me to show Tom's developing vampire, which is what underlies the whole second book - discovery and experimentation.

I've also had some ideas for additional pointers throughout the story that will make the subtext stronger, which I'm off to note down before they drift efemerally away. Then it's back to present making - only 3 more to go now. :)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Friday, 30 November 2012

NaNo Last Day Summary

Hmm, wow, what a month! I have really enjoyed NaNoWriMo Novermber, well, the bits of it I was writing in anyway (illness and other things got in the way a bit, but never mind). :)

I have come to a few conclusions:

  1. Having a writing goal in word count form is really, really useful. I shall be aiming for 3K wds a day on writing days from now on, since that seems to be my comfortable limit. My sis has written a spreadsheet that allows you to set a time frame and a word count aim for that time frame that shows you your progress like NaNo only not just for November, it's great for keeping track of the count, and motivational when you see the count dropping below the line! ;P 
  2. Sometimes I can jump sections of my work. I normally write linearly, I find I just end up tweaking later scenes if I have to go back and write a scene I missed, however, during NaNo, word counts and writer's block worked together to mean there were some bits I just had to skip, and actually, as long as they weren't really, really tied in with following scenes and I had notes on the important points in that scene then I could actually skip bits. It meant I could go back to the missed parts when I was more in the mood, or confident about what I had to write in that section.
  3. I love and I hate writing for a living: sometimes, when everything is flowing, it is brilliant and then other times, when I have to fight for every word, it is frustrating as hell, but discipline to keep going is very important. It's a living, a job and if I am to make it work, I have to keep my output up.
Thanks to all the NaNoers who have been offering support and my family and friends who have been listening to the word count ups and downs. In my own opinion, I won and I lost NaNo: technically, I won, I strolled over the 50K mark a couple of weeks ago, but thanks to illness last week and distractions this week, I did not complete the first draft of my sequel to Death In The Family, which was my reason for doing NaNo. Still, for my first NaNoWriMo, I'm happy and proud of myself and it's been lots of fun watching everyone else reach their goals as well. 

So, what's next? Well, more of the same, since I haven't finished the first draft. The last 5th of the book to complete, I'd say. I had some good ideas to mix things up a bit in the last few days, so my head is going back down. Oh yes, and I still don't have a title for my novel (LOL), I shall have to think a bit more on that.

Well done to all the NaNoers who reached their goal and to those who didn't, well done for striving for something, it's the effort that matters, not the 50K wd limit!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Day 28: I won't call yesterday a washout, but...

The reason yesterday wasn't a washout is because I went with my family up to London to hear my sis, Tasha, read one of her short stories at Den Of Eek, a night of spooky tales organised by Den of Geek. She was fabulous and I'm very proud of her! :D

However, it did mean no writing was done yesterday :(. And since Day 26 was a slow start, given I take time to ramp up after the week of illness, I need to buckle down today. I like what I wrote on Monday, but it was only about 1500 wds, only half my daily aim, so now it's onward and I'm diving into some juicy confrontation scenes (climax scene is still a few away). There's a lot of conversation in the next few scenes, something that could get boring if one is not careful. The way I try to avoid this is emotion, if the character is involved in the scene, reacting to what is said, hopefully the reader will be too. Tom actually has to be rude and confrontational in these scenes, something I find difficult, because I'm not naturally like that and my British politeness gene tries to kick in :P - I just have to try harder to get into the head of the character at times like these and resist my own personal impulses.

NaNo is nearly over - keep on slogging away peeps! :)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Day 26 - A Week Of No Writing - eep!

Thanks to neck problems, which turned out to be a weird virus, not a strained muscle as I originally thought, I could not spend much time at the computer from last Tuesday. BUT today, I'm back with not quite a vengeance, but at the very least enthusiasm.

I did get to submit my novel thus far to NaNo today, since I'm over the 50K wd mark :D

Still, I haven't finished the first draft, which I want to complete by end of the month, so this week is going to be busy!

I was actually getting withdrawal symptoms this last week, but pain was a great demotivator every time I tried. Still, the rest has at least meant I sorted out a few hitches I had with the remainder of the plot. I still have to decide how the final confrontation starts, I have several ideas mulling over in my brain and about a day to sort out which one I'm going to go with before I get to the point I have to write it. I just have some little logistical issues I have to overcome as well, though. Some people might ignore them and hope their readership do too, but I can't do that, I have to have every i dotted and every t crossed. I am thinking a Taser might solve my problem. ;)

Right, back to work. Good luck NaNoers.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Day 20 - Gotta get Touchy Feely Today

Yesterday was a slow start as I got back into the flow, only 1800 wds yesterday and most of that was adding to the last scene I wrote before my hiatus. Turns out, there was a whole set of character interaction missing, now it feels like a much more complete scene!

Today, though, I have to get touchy feely - the next scene is a character development scene, an important one and I want to get it right. I enjoy character dev scenes, although I find I have to be careful with them, because they can slow down the plot if I indulge in them too often. This one, however, is integral to the plot, so I get to spin it out a little. The story has been working up to this for a while and now I have to concentrate, because, although I like writing these kinds of scenes and they're actually the ones that I find I don't have to tweak very much after the fact, they take effort to get right as I go along.

After that, I get to wing it for a bit, though, because there are several scenes that I didn't plan, but are necessary which I have to drop in. Don't know where I'll get to, but I should at least start these scenes today.

Well, onwards! Enjoy today, NaNoers!

Monday, 19 November 2012

3 Days of No Writing - Hiatus Thoughts!

Well, after an absolute blast of writing last week, this weekend I had loads on, mainly fun stuff, so I'm not complaining, but it meant I got about 50 words total written (bit of a come down from 50K :P). I'm not bothered about my word count, because I think I should still be able to complete the first draft of my novel before the end of the month, but it does impact my flow when I stop midstream. I'll have to do a bit of rereading this morning to get the mojo back (I hope) and then launch into the next scene.

One thing that has been nagging me, and it does tend to nag more in hiatuses, is that there's something missing from the plot. I don't know what it is yet, and I'm not going to push it, it will either hit me before I reach the end, or during draft 2, but I am sure there is some piece of impetus missing, something to give the story that extra zing. I'm not talking a gimmick, or anything like that, I'm talking an undercurrent that I'm not pushing enough. It may only be a few lines here and there, a tweak of a sentence to subvert the atmosphere, but I won't know until it hits me, because I'm sure it's going to be one of those Zen and The Art of Writing moments. Until it does hit me, though, it's bloody annoying sitting there in the back of my head, poking me, but not actually forming properly.

Ah well, I'll just have to get on with the main plot, where there is plenty left to do.  Have fun today NaNoers (I think that's the point of writing most of the time) - see ya on the other side!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Oops got a bit carried away yesterday...

I got a bit carried away yesterday, I came downstairs with several ideas in my head and I was so desperate to get them into Scrivener, that I thought, I'll just leave the blog post till lunch time. Well, I was so distracted that I forgot to do it entirely and it wasn't because I edged over the 50K mark yesterday, although I did do a little dance of celebration when I did. No, it was because I was in the middle of hallucinations that were proving both very difficult to write and very interesting - a good challenge.

I started them two days ago, and had bits, but I came to the conclusion in the wee hours that they were too ordered, and there was not enough contrast between them, after all, I wanted to explore more than one aspect of my protagonist's warped little psyche :). That's why I leapt in, I had a whole bundle of ideas and they were changing what I'd written the day before almost completely.

I don't think the hallucinations are complete, I think I'll be visiting them again, but not now, they have the structure I want now and a good deal of the content, I'll go back and attack them with fresh eyes in draft 2. Now I have to march on. I have some good character scenes to write now thanks to the fall out from the hallucinations. Some discoveries to be made and some discussions to be had. Quite a lot of character conflict, plus I have an antagonist to deal with. Not all today, though, because I'm just about to go out to do the weekend food shop, I have an appointment for a hair cut this afternoon and I don't think taking my laptop to a fancy restaurant this evening would look very good! :P

So, onwards - see ya on the other side NaNoers! :D

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Day 14: I talk to the trees....

As my father still loves to sing to young children to make then laugh: I talk to the trees, that's why they put me away!

My writing today has to be deliriously good, literally, since I have to write a rather significant hallucination. Now, before everyone groans and thinks I'm about to trick my reader with a dream sequence, how clichéd, I'll say now, I'm not. No trickery involved, well not for the reader anyway. I use dream sequences (not trick ones I hasten to add) several times in Death In The Family, they're the way Tom remembers his childhood, drawing it out of his subconscious. However, the hallucination is not a dream sequence, it's much more of an acid trip and does not serve the same purpose as the dreams; it's not looking backward, it's looking at the now and beyond. It is reality mixed with what is in the mind and so it has to have a different feel to the dreams. It's also a journey with way points I already have planned and I have to develop that progression convincingly. Not sure how it's going to pan out, there may be some scratches and restarts today, but I'm looking forward to writing it.

So, into day 14! Good luck fellow NaNoers - see ya on the other side!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Day 13 - Unlucky for some, but not for me, I hope

Yesterday was a bit of an unexpected slog. I did manage 3K and a little bit, but that little bit, 400wds, I think may end up in the bin during draft 2. I even had to jump part of a scene because it just wasn't flowing, which is as close as I get to truly writing out of order. However, the scenes that followed went okay.

Today, I'm ready and raring to go. One of the scenes I wrote yesterday is missing a chunk, I didn't know it at the time, not like the one I jumped, but there is a whole conversation that Tom needs to have with Sean. I also have in my little head the transition from that scene to the next, which was eluding me yesterday and was why I stopped.

So, yay for me! :P Now I just have to deliver today's potential!

Keep going NaNoers, Tues 13th will be a good day!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Day 12 - 3K a day is good for me!

No NaNo yesterday, since I was at a Remembrance Service yesterday morning and then with friends most of the rest of the day, so I have to make up 1.5K today and tomorrow, or 1K each over three days.

I get to bring Tom's past and his present together today, since I'm introducing someone from London to the folks of Coombedown. It's funny, though, even a day without writing and I'm needing to go back over more scenes to get back into the feel of it. I think that maybe the NaNo pace is good for my creative juices, I shall have to try and keep it up after NaNo. I don't think 3K a day is too much to ask for a professional writer in full flow. Of course, I will have planning and editing days as well, which are set aside for November in favour of word count, but I think I shall set my bar at 3K from now on.

So, day 12, onwards!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

We Will Remember Them

We Will Remember Them
Poppies In Sunshine by Sophie Duncan

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

When You Go Home, 
Tell Them Of Us And Say, 
For Your Tomorrow, 
We Gave Our Today.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

New Character Today, a Positive Trickster

Oof, some pretty emotional scenes yesterday! I've been handling a loose end, the death of a character in the previous book and I actually had myself crying at one point - we'll see in the reread in a month's time whether what was in my head made it onto the page. It's difficult in these types of scenes to keep the words from going very purple. I am prone to purple anyway, so I have to be careful and sometimes in my attempts not to be purple, the emotion gets thinned down too much. Not going back yet tho'.

So, today, day 10, well, I'm ready and raring to go, which is good, because I have to do quite a lot of typing today, since I don't think I'll get much done tomorrow (going out to lunch). A new subplot arrives today, something to toss things around a bit and put what has happened into the context of the wider world, a normal person's viewpoint as it were. I've been looking forward to introducing this character, he's been in my head since the beginning of book 1; he's a trickster in that mischief follows him around, but he's not intentionally bad, unlike my antagonist, and he's going to be good for Tom, he needs loosening up!

So, once more into the (NaNo) breach, dear friends - see ya on the other side! :D

Friday, 9 November 2012

Iterations - keeping them whole!

Apart from scaring myself witless again with a combination of GDrive, Scrivener and two computers yesterday ( NOTE TO SELF: must make sure GDrive is on and has updated Scrivener files before opening NaNo project on upstairs computer, then I won't scare myself and think half my story is gone again - I've done it twice now), the writing bit went extraordinarily well. This may sound odd, since I'm 28K in, but I feel like I'm sinking into the characters properly now - I foresee significant rewrites/tweaks for draft 2 to the first section.

I'm getting back into the sense of Tom, my protagonist, and the pace feels right now. I think the early sections need a few more hooks, or angles, some jiggling and chopping to make the scenes more interesting. It may not turn out that way, that's just my instinct not having reread it, but I'll know when I jump into draft 2. For now, plot and structure are down and I'm not going back on myself until I have the first draft fully in my head.

I work iteratively, but I know from experience that I have to deal with whole iterations of a plot, otherwise I disappear into a blackhole of smaller and smaller tweaks on little sections which may end up being tossed anyway once the whole draft is finished. It is very difficult to resist tweaking, especially when I reread the previous day's section in the morning to kick me back into writing gear, but I must resist!

Well, onwards into Day 9. Keep going fellow NaNoers, talk to ya on the other side! :D

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Staying in the flow

Well, my main antagonist for the plot is now firmly established and sewing discord wherever he goes, but I have to start weaving my subplots together properly in the next few scenes. I have a couple yet to introduce that are important, one for resolving tensions from book 1, and one for introducing some new ones to push the book along. They should flow seamlessly into each other, but I am trying to avoid the sense of everything coming to Tom, my protagonist, one after the other, like they're being parachuted in from the sky, which is a risk, because of the isolated nature of his situation at the beginning of the story.

So, now I have to widen Tom's horizons. He's been focused down on routine and the everyday and now I have to let him spread his wings a little and take the reader outside of his everyday. My antagonist is a rather good catalyst for this, since he's already upsetting routines and threatening the status quo. He's going to push Tom out of his comfort zone, not too far, I'm not heading for a plot climax only 25K wds in, but the ripples of change need to get a bit bigger.

Upwards and onwards, or should that be outwards? :) See ya on the other side, NaNoers! x

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Well, I wasn't expecting that at all!

No I'm not talking about the US election - but since everyone seems to be on that subject this morning, from a non-US citizen, who had been dismayed at rights being denied women more and more around the world as radicalism takes hold, well done Mr Obama, I'm glad the US is not going the same way!

Okay, politics done, what I AM talking about is yesterday's NaNo session. I started out writing a scene I thought I had all planned, but as I launched into it, my brain said, this is boring, what's your point with this scene, how is it furthering the plot? And my subconscious had a good point. The scene as it stood was an okay scene, a bit of tension, but it was mainly all one level, no real development. Then my brain remembered an idea that I think I dreamed, or at least I had it in those minutes before the alarm goes off when you're still half asleep, but mostly waiting for the alarm, y'know the ones? It was quite a little piece of drama and I wondered if it was going to be too much, too soon, but in the end, I thought, hell, might as well give it a go and see how it pans out.

Turns out, it worked rather well, firmly establishing the antagonist and revealing some plot points that are going to be useful later, even though I hadn't thought through the bit they're going to be useful for until I walked down stairs this morning to start writing.

Sometimes the subconscious can be a wonderful thing! :D

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Conclusion: Pantsing doesn't work for me!

Well, at the very least, pantsing* slows me down. The last few days, a number of factors have meant I've been working on scenes that either didn't exist in my plan, or needed to be modified significantly, and I have come to one stunning conclusion (okay not so stunning): pantsing it takes longer for me than planned scenes. Now, I'm not talking about those Zen moments when everything just flows and it's all brilliant, I love it when those happen. I'm talking about jobbing it, writing my needed wc for the day, i.e. working through the bits that need to be thought through and structuring the scene to drop in the needed hints and clues to the reader for what is going to happen later.

Well, anyway, conclusion aside, I managed 3K yesterday, NOT the 5K I was aiming for - see, pantsing is not my most productive mode, although it was quite fun. Today, I have a scene I've been thinking about for a while, although for some reason it's not in my plan, so not quite pantsing, but still, bad Sophie! And I have to rearrange some later scenes, because, guess what, pantsing the previous ones means that they need to be jiggled. Mixing planning and pantsing clearly is detrimental to the anal little me who likes to write notes longer than the actual scene :P.

*Definition pantsing - writing by the seat of one's underwear. Pantser - a person who habitually writes in this manner.

Monday, 5 November 2012

And I missed a bit!

Yesterday wasn't the complete NaNo washout I thought it was going to be: I did manage to start writing at 9pm last night and did an hour. My target is 90K wds, since I want to finish the first draft of my sequel to Death In The Family, and I'm aiming for between 80K and 90K length. This means just under 3K a day, and  so both Saturday and Sunday were a bust as far as that target went. Despite the fact I had extra wds to spare from the previous three days, it still feels like cheating not to make the word count. So, today, I'm aiming for 5K wds, since I was 2K short over the weekend.

Today should be interesting in terms of writing content, because I realised this morning that I have forgotten one fairly vital plot line during my planning (not vital to this story, but to future ones), and now I have to weave it into the narrative. To be fair, the reason I remembered it is because I've reached a scene where it would slot in nicely, but I must drop it in other places as well.

SOO, I'm aiming high today! :) Good luck NaNoers with your own WC's (word counts not water closets :P) today and see you on the other side!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Tricky Day Ahead

Today is going to be a tricky day for NaNo, so I'm glad I have a few thousand words to spare in the bag. 

#1, I slept in late, because yesterday was a late night and a nervous day (I had trouble concentrating because I was all nervous about the fact that my sister, my brother-in-law and me were going to see someone perform our very first play, okay so it was only 10 minutes, but it was for Halloween and had to be tension building and scary, it managed both in the end, but that didn't stop me being distracted all day worrying about it :P).

#2, we have guests for Sunday Lunch, which means I will get bugger all done this afternoon. It will be a good afternoon, no doubt, but still, NaNo fingers will be a-twitching!

Despite the distraction, I did get a couple of thousand words written yesterday, and, I cheated a bit, I jumped over the awkward scene that I mentioned I had decided I had to write yesterday, because, after half an hour of starting sentences and then erasing them, over and over again, I decided to leave that scene on the back burner of Zen and the Art of Scene Writing. Knowing that scene was there, though, did lead to four new scenes I hadn't planned, since I had a clearer idea of what I was trying to achieve with the 'first day' scenes that I'm currently writing.

I need to drop the reader in slowly, reintroduce the situation for those who have read book 1, Death In The Family, and make it possible to understand what is going on for those who might just have picked the book up to have a read in isolation. This being my first novel-length sequel, this is my first foray into the delicate art of balancing previous book back story with progressing the new plot. I think I'm managing okay, we'll see.

Well, on to day 4, starting late and scrabbling to get some words down before the guests arrive :)

Best Wishes fellow NaNoers, see ya on the other side!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

NaNo Day 3 - Launch!

I'm starting to dream in NaNo :) Which is a good thing, because I woke up this morning telling myself show don't tell. I don't know about anyone else, but when I'm getting tired towards the end of a NaNo writing session, sometimes my judgement slips a bit and sleeping on the result helps.  Yesterday, I finished a scene and wrote a few lines of exposition connecting it into the next scene. Only thing was, I have come to conclusion I need to show that last bit I jumped over. It's an awkard bugger to write, which is why I probably jumped it in the first place, if I'm honest, but my writerly instincts are telling me to dig in and write it.

My intention at the beginning of the book is to show the routine that Tom has slotted into since the end of book 1, a routine he is using as a bit of a crutch and shield against long-term thinking and planning. I will shortly be shattering that routine with a large sideways swipe, and I want the contrast to be significant, but I also want to show that his regimented little world is brittle and has it's cracks anyway, before the big side swipe, and the scene I was avoiding is perfect for that.

So, back to the grindstone. Enjoy the day peeps. See ya on the other side! :)

Friday, 2 November 2012

Keeping Up The First Flush of NaNo Enthusiasm

I saw some really good first day totals around yesterday, well done everyone. Now, on day 2, we just have to keep up the good work! ;P

It's gonna be a late start for me today, because it's Friday and we (the family, Mama, Papa and my sis) go out for breakfast together. Means I'll be starting a good hour and a half after my start point of yesterday. However, I'm enjoying the story, it seems to be flowing well, although I did note yesterday that afternoon that my pace slowed, so I will have to put in more effort today to maintain the pace all day. I stopped about 4pm yesterday, trying to pace myself and not burn out too early. Today will be later because of the later start.

So, onwards first to breakfast and then to build on my total of 4474.

Good luck NaNoers today! See you on the other side!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Time to write a novel!

NaNoWriMo is finally upon us and, I have to say, I am illogically a bit nervous! It's not that I haven't written 50K in a month before, I wrote 140K in July, so I know I can do it, but this is my first NaNo. I am looking forward to it though. I've been planning this sequel since I finished Death In The Family, well bits of it anyway, and I am raring to dive in :).

So, I am going dark until at least lunch time. I am acutally turning off the internet, no email, no Google+, no Twitter. I may, on occasion use it for a bit of research, but that will be it. because I know what I'm like, I'll start reading my stream and get distracted and that is not the way to write a novel! :P

So farewell, my friends, at least for 3 hours. See you on the other side of my first NaNo writing session!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Supporting All Hallow's Read - FREE Spooky EBook Giveaway from Wittegen Press on Amazon 31st Oct - 3rd Nov

Wittegen Press is supporting
by giving away a free eBook on Amazon.

The brainchild of Neil Gaiman, the principle of All Hallow's Read is simple: during the week of Halloween, or the day itself, give someone a scary book. Well, we can't hand out our books physically, so we're going to let people help themselves.

From 31st October to 3rd Nov 2012
When Darkness Beckons will be available for FREE on all Amazon* sites. 

The book contains two spooky stories:

Catcher of Souls by Natasha Duncan-Drake
When Miles sets foot inside The King James pub he knows instantly there is a disembodied soul in residence. The question is, is the soul responsible for the deaths that have happened on the site or were they just accidents. It's Miles' job to catch troublesome lost souls, but when danger strikes he might just be too late.

Some Things Are Stranger... by Sophie Duncan 
Life is weird enough for Jake being a werewolf on the run from The Pagan Dawn, ruthless hunters determined to wipe out all 'paranormal scum'. His luck runs out when he is ambushed after a Halloween party and, badly injured, he dives into the shadows of an abandoned warehouse with his pursuers on his heels. Yet, Jake discovers that he is not alone and his encounter with a goofy hobo, who talks about the place being haunted, teaches him that all strangeness is relative.

So have a happy and spooky Halloween Everybody! 

*You do not need a Kindle to read Kindle books, Amazon offers free reading apps for pc, phone and tablet.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

When the Characters Take Over - Guest Post by A M Jenner

I am happy today to welcome A M Jenner to my blog to discuss the kind of time When the Characters Take Over. So, without further ado, I'll hand over to my guest. :)


Third stop on my international blog tour, Canterbury, England. Thanks so much to Sophie Duncan for hosting me; it’s good to be here.

Several years ago, I went to a presentation given by Michael Stackpole, author of I, Jedi as well as some thirty odd other New York Times best-selling novels. During the question and answer period, someone asked him what he does when he experiences writer's block. He replied that there is no such thing as "writer's block". He went on to explain that the phenomenon we commonly call writer's block is simply a case of not knowing your characters well enough.

Several times during the night, Mr. Stackpole emphasized that ‘character is king’. Once you create "living, breathing" characters, you must be willing to turn the story over to them, and let them guide the events. After all, it’s their life you’re writing about. As an author, you need to know your characters inside and out. You will know things about your characters that never get printed on the page. For example, you may know that a particular character's favorite color is green. You’ll never write, "Tom's favorite color is green." However, when you’re writing a scene in which he chooses out a tie to wear to a very important meeting, you know that he’ll choose his favorite green tie.

Often, an author has blocked out a particular story they want to tell. In order to tell that story, they invent characters. As long as they keep their characters under control, they’ll be able to write the story they have invented. The story will end with it being told the way the author wanted it to be told, but the characters' lives will suffer for it. They will finish up being two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. This is known as a plot-driven novel.

The other sort of novel is a character-driven novel. Although there is a plot, the lives and development of the characters’ personalities is much more integral to what is going on in the book. The characters in this sort of a novel will be three-dimensional, "real" people. Reading a character-driven novel is rather like spending time with a good friend.

Because I enjoy reading character-driven novels, I tend to write them as well. I begin a book with a character in mind, and a plot that consists of several goals the character needs to accomplish, and the obstacles I intend to throw in their way. However, when the characters start doing things I never planned on, I don't worry about it. I write the story down the way the characters claim that it happened. Most of the time, I can still keep the characters on track toward their primary goal, even if they don't get there by the path I had chosen before I started writing.

I almost always end with a better story when I follow the characters’ directions, than if I try to force them to do things the way I want them to do them. Sometimes, I end up writing things which are distasteful on a personal level. Some of my characters, especially the villains and their friends, are not very nice people. They do things that are not nice. I go back later, and edit out the worst of their actions, or at least the dark and dirty details while leaving enough in to let you know they are bad people.

In September 2009, I was trying to finalize the details of the plot for story called Mindtouch, which I intended to write for my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel. The more I tried to think about the necessary details for the plot, the more distracted I became. Tanella's Flight had just been published the previous April, and one of the characters from that novel, Liammial, very much wanted me to finish writing the story of his triumphant conquest. Even within the confines of my own brain, Liammial was actively pushing other characters out of the way, and demanding that I finish his story. This shows the extent of what a three-dimensional character he had become in his desire to claim the throne.

Unable to concentrate on Mindtouch, I gathered up a few ideas and rough-draft chapters which had been written, and commenced working on The Siege of Kwennjurat. I finished the rough draft four hours to go before beginning Mindtouch at midnight on November 1. Even though I was purportedly the author, as I wrote The Siege of Kwennjurat, there were quite a few surprises that the characters dealt me. I learned a lot about the underpinnings of the city of Jurisse and the danger of stalk rot.

One character I had written off as a useless idiot turned out to be a hero. Four major characters meet there and in ways I did not anticipate. As I wrote some chapters I was laughing and cheering, and as I wrote others, I was crying so hard I almost couldn't see my keyboard. I feel that one of the characters was as surprised and shocked as I was at exactly how his personal story turned out.

I knew where I wanted the book to end, and eventually it did reach the end I wanted. However, the path there was designed entirely by the characters that lived it, and bears very little resemblance to the plot I had outlined. I am entirely happy with the novel in its finished form.

I often see writers complaining online that their characters have taken over their books. I always give them the same answer. Don't fight it. Just go with it. You will have a better novel in the end.


The Siege of Kwennjurat is the second book in the Kwennjurat Chronicles. Alone in Kwenndara, Princess Tanella cares for the refugees from war-torn Jurisse, while she worries about her loved ones’ safety. Her new husband Fergan is two days away in Renthenn, coordinating the business of two kingdoms.

Kings Jameisaan and Fergasse join forces in Jurisse to pursue the war against the Black Army. They know Liammial hasn't played his last card, and are willing to give their lives to protect their people and their children.

Who will triumph and claim the throne of Kwennjurat?

A M Jenner lives in Gilbert, Arizona, with her family, a car named Babycakes, several quirky computers, and around 5,000 books. A self-professed hermit, she loves to interact with her readers online. Her books are available at www.am-jenner.com, as well as most major online retailers.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sod Originality!

Okay, that may be a bit harsh, but when I'm reading, I don't want experimental, I don't want off-the-wall, I like my tropes, my clichés and I hug them happily to my bosom. Which is why I don't tend to read magazines that post lists of stuff 'they've seen too many times' and why every time I'll pick up the book about the lonely superhero (substitute here vampire, ghost, werewolf, alien, cyborg - you get the picture :) ) struggling to come to terms with his/her situation over the one about the transcendental experience of a human communicating with a jellyfish from the point of view of the jellyfish! I have my bullet-proof kinks (substitute plot, trope, cliché) and I actually like reading different takes on said kinks.

Note the word different in my last sentence, which is why I was being rather too blasé when I said sod originality, because, yeah, I don't want to read exactly the same thing over and over again. If you write me vampires, give me your take on vampires, be they sparkly, psychopathic or plain mysterious, I will give most of them a try, since I have a thing for vampires, but I don't want Dracula or Twilight all over again, KTHX. :) The same applies to any trope, cliché or situation that falls into my bucket of favourite things to read. Surprise me with the pieces that make up the whole: your writing style; the character nuances; the plot twists; and yes, even the dream sequences (I'm not averse to a well-done dream sequence, take note, publishers :P). But when you put all those pieces together, I want a whole that makes sense, that takes me on a complete journey, a traditional, literary journey. I do not want to be stranded in some experimental field halfway between the start and the end of the book just to make it different - I get grumpy when someone tries too hard to be that different.

Some people out there may dismiss me, thinking that I must live in a very boring reading world if I will never try anything different, but you see, I do, every time I pick up a book. I firmly believe, along with David Grigg, whose original post on G+ got me thinking about this, that every writer can and should bring their own take to any story and that is what interests me, the angle, not the subject. I know what subjects I like, so I am disappointed when editors/agents etc, will throw something out because it is something that they've 'seen too much of' - that may be so, but the reading public likes new takes on old stories, otherwise why would all these people be rewriting fairytales at the moment? (Aside - to be fair, I don't disagree with the entire list that David refers to in his post from Strange Horizons, because some of the items are explained enough to make it plain that what they object to is unoriginal writing, or writing that doesn't progress, not necessarily the trope itself).

So, I suppose my message to any writer out there I may start reading is don't try too hard to be original, well, not for me anyway. I like the traditional shape of stories. I like feeling safe with an author whom I know isn't going to suddenly throw my reading journey to the wolves of different. Yes, I like surprises, but don't make them too big :P.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Terror of Titles!

I don't know about everyone else, but I have a terrible time with titles. The issue has come up this time, because I'm about to launch into the sequel to Death In The Family, my vampire YA paranormal novel  for NaNoWriMo and I have no title, not even a working title for it, except Heritage is Deadly #2! I feel bad about not having a title, the idea doesn't seem complete in my mind yet, even though the planning is going well, which is daft, but it's exactly like character names, if I don't get the name right, the character doesn't work. Well, okay, it's not quite that bad when it comes to book titles, I can get on with a book without the 'right' title, but I still need a label in my mind to fit to it. I know, I'm a little loopy, but I can't help it. :P

Death In The Family had a host of titles before I decided on the final one, but then it was in development for a large number of years. I think my final choice sums up the essence of the novel, Tom's discoveries, the challenges he faces and also the threat from the supernatural. However, it does have it disadvantages in a search, since there are a wide range of books with similar titles. I don't think I'll change it at this stage, but I will try to be a bit more original for the second book.

So, creating a title for the sequel - ugh! It is so difficult to sum up the essence of a whole book with, at most in my opinion, five little words. I think I will try a technique I haven't tried before for this title: I will play word association. I'll throw words that fit with the story at a mindmap and then sift through them for the most appropriate. Hopefully, this should provide some inspiration - wish me luck!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

I'm Diving into Novel Planning

It's mindmap time!

Today, I am launching into the planning phase for Heritage is Deadly #2. Up until now, I've had all these ideas swimming around in my head, all the points I know have to end up in the plot, but apart from the obvious bits, i.e. the start and the end, they have no coherent order.

My first challenge is actually defining each of those points, which is where my mindmap comes in. I use Freeplane, which is freeware and is great for just blasting all my thoughts down. For those who don't know what a mindmap is, it looks a bit like a spider's web, with linked nodes. It's a great way for brainstorming ideas, because the only thing you need is connections, you don't have to structure a hierarchy  you can just throw thoughts down and then rearrange them later. It's the high-tech version of postits and string on the wall :).

5 mins of Mindmap for Heritage is Deadly 2

After just five mins, this was my mindmap for Heritage is Deadly 2. Excuse the redactions, but some things I'd like to keep to myself :), but I hope it gives those of you've who've never used mindmaps an idea of how they help get ideas out of my head and into some kind of coherent picture. I nearly always start with links between characters, since that is how my head works, then I try to flesh out what those links are. Mindmaps aren't only good for plot planning, though. I've used them for character building as well. 

Once I've got all my plot points down (a while to go yet), I'll start on a full scene by scene plan for the novel and try and put these plot points into order :). That'll be in Scrivener, a tool for writers that allows me to collate all my notes and draft my novel as well. It's not free, but it's well worth the £27.27 for the licence. I'm looking forward to it, actually, I have a good feeling about this novel :D. I should be ready for NoNoWriMo when November comes around!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

EIN vs ITIN - EIN is a world less painful!

I thought I'd share this, since I've been dreading having to apply for my ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) and then some nice person pointed out that if I am an indie author publishing my own books in the UK (and other nations), I can actually apply as a sole trader for an EIN (Employer Identification Number), rather than an ITIN, which is a whole lot easier than applying for an ITIN.

Taking a step back to explain this - if you are getting paid by Amazon, Smashwords, Google Play or anyone else based in the US and you are not in the UK, you will get slapped for 30% tax from the US IF you don't give your 'payer', i.e. Amazon, a completed W-8BEN form with an ITIN on it or an EIN (link to w-8ben and instructions for w-8ben).

I found two very useful resources online:

This has an example form for amazon (ignore the ITIN, use EIN)


this gives you a step by step guide to filling the 8W form in for Amazon, Smashwords and Createspace.

The second set of info gives you an extra bit of the form to fill in, because, the withholding percentage is different for different types of royalties, which is listed in the instructions. The first example direct from Amazon does not list this, but (and this is my supposition, so don't take my word for it) it might apply if you wanted to spread your tax payments for royalties over more than one year, which authors are allowed to do in the UK, rather than just looking on them as standard self employment income.

Registering as self-employed in the UK is really easy, just go online to hmrc.gov.uk and follow the links for registering.

I had my EIN within 10 minutes and I'm currently filling in all my forms. I will update this post if I have any follow up problems.

EDIT: having been through this with Amazon and just got my 0% withholding, this is the best example form to copy for them, just use your EIN, rather than an ITIN:  W-8BEN for an individual Amazon

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Yes! I have a complete plot for Heritage is Deadly #2 ready for NaNo!

Finally, I have had the revelation that has given me the complete plot for the sequel to Death In The Family. I was getting a little worried there as NaNoWriMo edged ever closer and I was still struggling with the non-emotional tension in the story. I already had most of the emotional conflict planned, the people and issues that would be facing Tom as he begins to accept and explore his vampire side. However, I was missing the threat, the tangible conflict that would push the plot and the series arc forward.


Some people might wonder why I was worried about tangible, because emotion can push a plot forward just as successfully, but I have established, I hope, that The Heritage Is Deadly Series is in fact YA paranormal action adventure, and I didn't want to stray from that formula. Yes, Tom has emotions, he's facing an uphill battle to understand what has happened to him, but that was not enough to lay a second book on, nor, indeed to carry the series forward.

Then, I looked back to the stories that Death In The Family is based on, the plots that I've thrown away because I have shifted the focus of the stories. In there, I found a vague reference to an enemy, someone who would have come up in one later story in the originals, a bit of a sledgehammer of a character.  However, in that fledgling idea, I think I have found my threat: much more amorphous than in the original plot, an unknown quantity pulling strings, manipulating situations, only slowly being revealed. Book #2 will be this character's introduction, opening up Tom's world from personal things and Coombedown to a bigger stage.

I'm really rather excited about this :D.

Right, must pop off and go plan the plot properly for NaNo now that I have one. 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 - Count me In!

Okay, I'm putting my stake in the ground: I am going to be participating in NaNoWriMo in November 2012

For those of you who don't know what NaNo is, I cadged this off their site: National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.
In 2011, we had 256,618 participants and 36,843 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
My goal is 90K wds, since I want to get the first draft of my next novel completed (that's 3K a day - eek!). It's the sequel to Death In The Family. I don't have a title yet, but I have most of a plot worked out: Tom Franklin is slowly learning to cope with the supernatural changes that overtook him when he returned to his birth place of Coombedown, but after a long, difficult Summer, there are more challenges to face and his hazy memory is not helping. On top of the continuing changes to his body, Tom has to deal with The Powers That Be, some of whom aren't happy with him walking free, while supporting his 'little brother', Sean in his first days at a new school and trying to patch up his friendship with Phil. Tom thinks he has enough on his plate, but then a new arrival throws his isolated world into turmoil.
I may just be sharing my anguish progress with my blog from time to time! ;P

Guest Post: Gabriel Fitzpatrick - Romance in the Digital Age

Today, I am happy to welcome Gabriel Fitzpatrick to my blog as part of his Rmnce blog tour.


Romance in the Digital Age is a line I’ve used from early on in the Rmnce process. It’s the sort of catchy, newsy sort of tagline that the lizard business brain spits out for me from time to time when he feels me flailing about hopelessly for a descriptor. However, in this case he has struck quite to the heart of the thing, because romance in the digital age differs from romance in the age of written letters in much the same way that age differed from the one in the time before literacy became widespread. That is to say, it doesn’t.

Romance is a fundamental human characteristic, and like all fundamental human characteristics it changes so slowly as to be imperceptible, so vastly outstripped by technological advance as to be effectively fixed.

Why, then, would I even write a book about romance in the digital age? The answer to that question is simple: Someone needs to demonstrate that fact. There is a generational divide between those who grew up when a computer was something everyone had and those who grew up when it was something big businesses used for accounting, and another between those people and those who grew up before there even was such a thing. These divides are, in some ways, natural, but they must be overcome if we are to call ourselves enlightened.

By shining the light of an old artform, that of literature, onto the digitized screens of modernity, I hope to show that commonality, to bring people together in the realization that their prejudices are meaningless and self-created.


Gabriel’s new book, Rmnce, hit digital shelves October 1st! Find it on Amazon and Smashwords.

Rmnce series is a love story told in 4 parts. It follows a couple from the first drunkenly passionate days of their college romance all the way through a life together, often tumultuous, always overwhelming, and overridingly disquieting as only true love can be.

Rmnce is not, however, your traditional love story. Or perhaps more accurately, it does not appear to be your traditional love story. It is written entirely through the communications of the couple. Text messages, emails, and even a few old-fashioned letters make up the entirety of a story, what one early reader termed "A story not so much written as formed organically in the negative space."

It is, in short, a commentary on love in the digital age, a tribute to the great love affairs of the digital generation, romance not lost in the sea of text-speak and instant gratification, but merely obscured from the prying eyes of those too far removed from its cultural roots.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

3 Reviews of Short Stories by Author Gabriel Fitzpatrick

I volunteered to be a reviewer of books through Literary+, who match up reviewers with authors and yesterday, I was sent my first set of stories to review. All three are short stories by Gabriel Fitzpatrick, two with a vampire theme and one with, well, a fantasy theme, I suppose, although it's not easy to classify. Below are all three of my reviews in order of preference.

The Centurion's CommencementThe Centurion's Commencement by Gabriel Fitzpatrick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a short story set after the defeat of Rome by the German hordes. We follow a ragged group of ten legionnaires, led by Sextus, the centurion in the title, struggling to return to their army, and their hunter, Adela, cast out by her own people after the battle where she revealed herself to be other than human.

Sextus is not altogether interesting, he’s a professional soldier, commanding, disciplined, but a little ragged round the edges. However, that’s not the point of Sextus, he is there to be the rigid, vaguely pointless disciplinarian, the face of Rome, holding on to flawed might after defeat. Adela is a much more interesting character, and not because she is a vampire, but because she has been through her own epiphany, an effect of the light, literally. She is grappling with ascendance, an out of body experience that took her beyond the blood-lust, but still she hunts, still she is hungry and that duality warmed me to her, monster and all.

Inevitably, hunter and hunted come together and trained discipline meets savagery. I won’t spoil the ending and say what happens, but, in those last few paragraphs, live, or die, Sextus comes alive for me. Gabriel leaves the reader with a sense that the story could go on, that things have shifted irrevocably for the survivor, and I want to know more.

 EnkiEnki by Gabriel Fitzpatrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s one thing missing from the genre tags for this story, humour, very, very dark humour; I actually laughed out loud at one point. Basically this is a monologue with reported interjections. Our speaker is a Librarian, yes I said, Librarian and he’s talking to his latest victim, again, you heard right, this is no ordinary librarian. The reason I mention the humour is it is what engaged me in the story and kept me reading. Our librarian is arrogant, cruel, likes the sound of his own voice (I’m saying him, but I’d actually have to go back and check if his gender is ever determined, but I assumed him) and is one hundred percent a monster and without the humour, I probably wouldn’t have finished reading.

The initial paragraphs are well written and drew me into the story, quickly establishing the perversity of the situation, in which there lay the black humour. I soon had the scene in my head, a grand library, lots of books and one bitch-slapper of a librarian who didn’t want to loan out any of those tomes and rather enjoyed hurting those who tried to take one. Alone for most of the millennia he has guarded the books, the librarian takes the opportunity of a hapless visitor to have a chat, recollecting old victories like a Vogon enjoys disseminating his poetry, although the torture that goes along with the conversation is all too real. To be honest, though, the best bit of the whole monologue for me was the Librarian’s asides to his victim that interjected his old battle stories. They were the gems in this piece.

I wanted to finish this short story not , I have to say, to find out what happened in all the Librarian’s stories, because they all mostly had obvious conclusions, but to find out what happened to his victim. The book grants me that wish and I’m not going to say what happens, but I will say, I wanted more of it. The ending was far too quick. Also, on the experimental note in which Gabriel wrote this, I would challenge him to actually write the ending as part of the monologue, i.e. from the librarian’s point of view, so that we only hear what the victim has to say, like we do through the rest of the piece, in the librarian’s own words. I think that would be more satisfying.

The too short an ending, the occasional typo and one or two sentences that made me go ‘huh’ are the reason I have given this book 4 not 5 stars. It’s an interesting read, well formed and engaging. I’d read it again, especially if that ending was reworked.

 An Anecdote at DinnerAn Anecdote at Dinner by Gabriel Fitzpatrick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book got its stars for the skill with which the prose is written, but I did not like it at all. The style is everything I dislike about the portrayal of vampires, which does not mean it’s invalid, just that I don’t like it. The story is told from the point of view of our vampire perpetrator, who is recounting his recent attack on a young family to dinner guests. Just like him, the story is cold, arrogant and disdainful, and therefore did not engage me at all. I could find nothing to draw me into the narrative, because the vampire is so aloof from his actions that even with the pretty graphic description of what he does, I felt nothing. He’s showing off for the benefit of his dinner host, and since we do not know what history there is between them, we had no concept of why she reacts to him, or even exactly how she reacts – a little more insight into this relationship might have given the book more depth for me and anchored me into the story, but I’ll admit, I probably still wouldn’t have like it.

This not being my kind of vampire story, if it had been longer, I probably would have put it down and not picked it back up, but its shortness meant I finished it. I wasn’t quite sure what happened at the end. I think I understood what happened, but because descriptions were used instead of names, I’m not absolutely certain. It was throw away, again, though, I think conveying the lack of regard these vampires had for anyone else, but I found it abrupt and I think it wasted the character of the familiar, which was probably the point. However, it left me, the reader, without a payoff, nothing to walk away with except an air of superiority that just left a bad taste in my mouth.

I like the other two books I’ve read of Gabriel’s much more, but, I think, in an attempt, as his notes put it, to be literary and disturbing, this story added too much that made me disconnect from it. I don’t mind aloof, violent vampires, in fact, I quite like them when there is contrast to go with them, but this story offered me no relief, except, for the tiny moment when we enter David’s head towards the end, that gave me a little something, far too brief, to hold on to. I don’t mind blood and gore either and this was artfully written, but the victims were so belittled that I had no sympathy for them, nor interest in their murderer.

I’ll finish by saying that some people will probably love this book. It’s well written, except for a few typos and the odd sentence that needed to be split up into more. It is the antithesis of the moody, angsty Twilight-like YA, which is no bad thing, but I think it needs work before I’d want to read any more in this mythos. Give me contrast, give me a glimmer of light in the vampire darkness, give me conflict, something to invest in and I might read more.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 13 September 2012

5 Mins in a whole lot more - Bonds of Fire Novel Scene Preview

Yesterday through Literary+, Shen Hart challenged us to write for 5 mins on any subject we wanted and to post it. I was in the middle of a scene for my current WIP, the full novel version of Bonds of Fire, so I wrote a section of the scene for the challenge. Since then, I've finished the scene, so I thought I'd post it all, marking out my 5 min challenge in bold (I have corrected spelling etc outside of the 5 mins, which was allowed :P). The scene is introducing a new character to the reader...

Walking down the backstreet, Drekken rubbed his thigh self-consciously. He wouldn't have noticed the slight ache that Astren's exercises had given it if she hadn't mentioned the weakness specifically and he tried to ignore it again, instead sinking into the bustling life around him. He liked the alleyways of the old city with their corner vendors of food and anything else a stranger could want. They reminded him of the past, when life had been wilder, times he remembered with a smile and what he knew were rose-tinted spectacles. Still, he was grinning to himself as he strolled on his way, exchanging conversation with every person who tried to sell him something.
It had been at least ten years since he'd spent more than a few days in the city and, although people knew his name, they no longer knew his face, so Drekken enjoyed the freedom, concealed behind civilian clothes and a young face, just another rich man to be conned out of his gold.
Drekken had let himself be parted from a few coins for the sake of lively debate on the merits of everything from pancakes to prostitutes by the time he had decided that the ache in his leg was not going to go away without a rest and had chosen to head towards home. He had a beautifully carved bone rattle in his pocket for D, a small gem for Miri's collection and he was on the lookout for something for his empaths when Drekken came to a sudden halt.
The reason for his stop was a cool, even drawl from his right, "Well, well, look what the dragon dropped on us."
Drekken turned slowly to the owner of the voice, a smile on his face, but his emotions mixed. He laid eyes on a short, slender woman, blond with hard, bright blue eyes and a face younger than his own. Yet, all was not as it seemed, and Drekken's attention flicked to the small, angular dragon behind her. He stood on his hind legs, shorter forelimbs resting on her shoulders and sharp eyes regarding Drekken closely.
"The same goes for you," Drekken quipped back, noting the woman's travel cloak and stout boots. "Still preferring to walk, I see."
"Nature's way," the tanned face suddenly broke into a broad smile and arms were flung just as wide as the woman strode quickly over to Drekken.
"Hello, Leysel," Drekken greeted, not holding back the wariness in his tone, but taking his very old friend in his arms anyway and then kissing her soundly.
Hundreds of years of familiarity welled up inside Drekken and old passion held him in the embrace for a few moments, but, used to the reflection of time, he pulled back and took the hand that was offered to him.
"Well, well, you haven't lost any of your touch, General," Leysel leant in to him and whispered, her eyes no longer so cold.
"Neither have you," he returned the compliment. "Have you picked my pocket yet?"
Leysel laughed and held up his wallet, waggling it at him like a trophy.
"Have to keep my hand in," she winked and slipped the object back into his pocket.
"Come to think of it, wasn't there a warrant out for your arrest last time we parted?" Drekken checked, it was always best to note such things with Leysel.
"Statute of limitations is ten years, Darling," Leysel slapped him for that reminder. "We're upstanding citizens again now and Bayard is here to accept a post at the university."
Leysel walked back over to her dragon, who finally came out from the shadow in which he had been waiting.
"Hello, Bayard," Drekken inclined his head respectfully to the Sylka.
'Drekken', the dragon replied, equally formally.
"So you finally decided to take up that offer?" Drekken checked on the standing invitation that had been waiting for the scholar for many centuries.
"Oh stop it, you two. We both know if it hadn't been for me, Bayard would have taken it up years ago," Leysel quipped, rubbing the dragon's neck and giving Drekken a heavy look laden with that old passion. "We're here now, and we need somewhere to stay."
Drekken should have remembered that Leysel never did anything by accident and he saw opportunity in their 'chance' encounter. It should not have come as a surprise, but now he knew why Bayard was being so reticent: as far as Sylkas went, Bayard was typical, very private and did not like asking for anything. It was therefore more for Bayard's sake than Leysel's that Drekken did not ponder the prospect Leysel had left between them.
"You will have to apologise to mother for stealing her best jewellery," he reminded Leysel of the reason for the warrant.
"Oh, she doesn't hold a grudge," Leysel waved the moment away and Drekken was glad when he saw Bayard visibly relax.
Drekken was not at all surprised when he found an arm through his own and he started back on the path that had been interrupted. Bayard fell in next to them, staying close to Leysel.
"So, I've read all those newspaper reports of your wondrous exploits, but what have you really been up to in the last fifty years?" his friend dove into conversation like it had only been a few months since they had seen each other.

I'm interested in what you think :)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Next Big Thing

James Calbraith tagged me last week for this, a meme where I have to answer ten questions about my current work in progress (WIP).

Well, my current WIP is actually based on a novella that I have already released for free, Bonds of Fire. I was going to write a second short to go with the novella, but a bigger plot grew around the novella plot instead and I wanted to expand on that.
1. What is the working title of your book?
Bonds of Fire (I like the original name - I may use it as a subtitle though in the end, so as not to confuse it with the novella)
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
That goes all the way back to the novella. My sister, Tasha, and I run a publishing house called Wittegen Press, and we have an imprint of that called Penny Dreadfuls 21, which solicits requests from readers for stories they'd like to have written. Bonds of Fire was one such request: 'I'd like to see a setting that has both sci-fi elements (futuristic with cybernetics) and fantasy elements (magic and magically creatures). I have a thing for dragons, so would like to see them included somehow. Oh, and a baby dragon(s) would make me especially happy. ;)'

I picked up the request and ran with it.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Fantasy with a side order of science fiction.
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Drekken: Jeremy Renner
Malachi: Tommy Knight
Yakov: Jamie Campbell Bower
Miri (dragon - voice only): Rachel Weisz
Margren (One of Drekken's adopted dragon mothers  - voice only): Dame Judi Dench
Orin (One of Drekken's adopted dragon mothers - voice only): Dame Maggie Smith
Wen (Drekken's adopted human mother): Gemma Arterton
Leysel: Elisabeth Harnois
Bayard (dragon - voice only): Colin Firth
Olias: Lawrence Fox

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
One baby dragon, two young empaths and a near death experience lead Drekken, a dragon warrior more used to fire-fights than friendship, into a new time in his life where his enemies are not nearly so obvious as those on a battlefield.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The book will be independently published through our own publishing company,  Wittegen Press. I gave up with the old fashioned route to the market when I realised that the most difficult aspect of publishing, the marketing of the book, is now mainly left up to the author.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The novella, which I suppose I can consider as a first draft, at least for act one, took about three weeks. I was about the same amount of time into the second story when I realised it was actually part of the same plot. I think there is probably another month on to go on the rest of the first draft (plot is in my head, just need to get it on paper).
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I'm not very good at comparisons and I haven't read a lot of fantasy lately, so I'm going to cheat and look at film as well. So I'd say that for the mix of fantasy/magic and technology, the nearest comparison would be Star Wars and that ilk, although planet rather than space based. For the dragons, if you like Flight of Dragons then you should like Bonds of Fire.
9. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There's magic, tech and action, running through an adventure on two levels: external conflicts coming from war, new enemies and old relationships, and Drekken's inner journey of self-discovery. Oh yes and dragons, cute little baby ones and sassy full-grown ones.  
10. Tag you’re it! 

***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.