Siblinghood of the World Blogger Award

siblinghood-of-the-world

I was nominated for the Siblinghood of The World Blogger Award by the lovely Nicolette Elzie which is an honour as I’m pretty new to all of this, and frankly, I am Winging It!

Rules:

~ Thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link back to their site

~ Answer the ten questions sent to you

~ Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer

~ Nominate ten blogs

Gosh, some of these were *hard*, but fun. They certainly made my brain cells work a little faster. So, without further ado, here are my answers to Nicolette’s questions.

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1.What are some of the common tropes in books that you are tired of seeing? What are some that you absolutely will never get tired of seeing?

I think we’re all guilty of falling into the trope trap at some point in our writing so I try not to be too judgemental. But I’m a bit fed up of the one where the plain girl adores the gorgeous hero from afar and The Something happens to make them fall in love. Seriously, can’t we have all that without one of them having the physical attributes of a Greek God?

I never get tired of the prince riding in to rescue another prince, especially if he didn’t want rescuing in the first place 😉

2.There is a new law coming into effect. It bans (insert genre here) genre from ever being read/written again. Which genre would you choose?

Ouch. This one is hard. Because even if I dislike a genre I would hate for it to be banned because I would know other people love it. If I had to choose, it would be westerns (sorry western lovers..) but I’d make sure that copies were buried all over the globe so people could go on quests to discover them 😉

3. Books have some of the most wonderful quotes among them. Which is one of your favorite quotes, and why does it resonate with you?

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This, apart from being a lovely illustration, is such a truth. We spend our whole lives rushing around, sometimes trying to be something that we’re not, and flailing around in our own aftermath that we forget to believe in our own self-worth. We are braver, stronger and smarter, despite all the voices telling us we aren’t, that somehow we are failing to tick all of the boxes. This is doubly true for writers who spend so much time wondering if we’ll ever be able to pull off whatever we are writing. Self belief isn’t narcissist, it’s a mechanism we need to nurture, because if we can’t believe in ourselves how can we ask others to?

4. What is a book you had such high hopes for but ultimately disappointed you?

I’m sorry to say that this year that would be The Three by Sarah Lotz. It came with such iron clad reviews and possibilities. The premise of the book was exciting, the format of it fresh and modern, but I just felt let down by a lot of the story and I didn’t like the ending at all

5. Your favorite author is going to call you for a once in a lifetime chance to talk. You can only ask them one question. Who is the author and what is the question? Why?

First of all I’d probably be a heap of tongue tied jelly 😉 So I would pick Neil Gaiman (as one of my faves) and ask him which one of his characters he would like to be stranded on a desert island with. Because it would be interesting to discover if it would be one that automatically springs to mind, Shadow from American Gods or Door from Neverwhere, or someone completely different.

6. Pick one of your favorite books, and construct a playlist for it. Try to choose between 5-8 songs that fit the theme and tone of this book.

(Hard, hard question!)

I chose The Death House by Sarah Pinborough. Seriously, this book, READ IT. The ending will rip your heart out with a spoon.

A little bit of spoiler free blurb – Toby’s life was normal until it was unravelled by a simple blood test.

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House, an out of time existence far away from the modern world. He, and others like him, are studied by a team of nurses, looking for any signs of sickness. When that comes they are taken to the sanatorium. No one ever comes back from there.

Toby withdraws from his house mates and spends his days fighting the fear, until a new arrival shatters the fragile peace, and everything changes.

I’ve tried to capture Toby’s feelings as he negotiates the tightrope of his new life.

Passenger – Deftones

Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day

Breathe Me –Sia

Counting Stars – One Republic

Born to Die – Lana Del Ray

The Power of Love – Gabrielle Aplin

7. What book/series do you believe is highly overrated?Underrated?

Overrated – 50 Shades of Grey

Underrated – ‘Salem’s Lot. This was truly the scariest book I’ve ever read and it doesn’t often come up in the top 3 of King’s listed work.

8. What is a theme/motif that you love reading about?

It might be cliché but I love reading about good v evil and how it co-exists in a story and moulds the characters. Exploring the fine blurred line between the two and between the light and the darkness always grabs me, and it’s probably why that is the theme of my book!

9. Pick three characters from your favorite book and play the F*ck, Marry, Kill game.

I had to look this one up *laughs*  I chose The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice.

F*ck – Lestat, of course, because who doesn’t love an anti hero?. That’s a no brainer 😉

Marry – David Talbot (because I secretly would love his job as Superior General of an organisation that researches the supernatural ) and because he ends up as chief documenter for the vampires. You know, the word thing 😉

Kill – Akasha. Queen of the Damned. Mother of All Vampires. Because she is empty, selfish and nihilistic.

10. If you could have one fictional animal as a pet, what would it be?

I have a soft spot for Oy from Stephen King’s Dark Tower universe. He is a billy bumbler, a creature with black and grey striped fur, a spiral tail and gold ringed eyes, although in my mind’s eye he looked more like an anteater! Oy can mimic, forming a close bond with the boy, Jake Chambers, who he calls ‘Ake.’ Anyway, I want one!

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And my questions for my nominees are –

  1. Your favorite author is going to call you for a once in a lifetime chance to talk. You can only ask them one question. Who is the author and what is the question? Why?
  2. Which fictional character would you want as a friend, and why?
  3. List three books you’ve read more than three times.
  4. Who would you say is your greatest writing influence in terms of your own style?
  5. What are you working on at the minute?
  6. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
  7. How important is a book cover to you? Would it influence you over the back blurb?
  8. If you could live in one fictional world, where would you live?
  9. Do you let other people borrow your books?
  10. Books have some of the most wonderful quotes among them. Which is one of your favorite quotes, and why does it resonate with you?

~*~

Here is my list of victims nominees 😉 Don’t worry if you haven’t time to complete this, just know that I was thinking of you!

I couldn’t quite come up with ten but the talent here makes up for that.

A. J. Lundetrae

Madeleine Deste

Aura Eadon

Memopip

Erin Cochran

Breeanna Pierce

Melanie Noell Bernard

Aubrey Meeks

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Introducing Gabriel Davenport

Gabriel Davenport
Gabriel Davenport

I can’t tell you how proud I am to introduce Gabriel to you all! Artwork is by the amazing Aubrey Meeks. With only a description of his character and a few photos that looked a little bit like the Gabriel in my head, she produced this beautiful image. I am indebted to her for bringing my boy to life. Please head along to her site to see her other amazing work 😀

Confessions of a Writer Tag

I was tagged by the lovely Aura Eadon to answer the following questions from Nicolette Elzie’s blog.

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?

The first thing I remember writing was at school, when English lessons consisted of taking a red book, the top half plain and the bottom lined, and writing whatever came into your head. My time was spent penning terrible cliché riddled pony stories complete with equally bad illustrations (I am no artist!).

I didn’t think I was good enough to be an actual writer, as in it paying the bills. Anything artistic wasn’t a proper job, or so I was led to believe.

What genre do you write?

I like paranormal fantasy but I like to base it in the modern world, so urban, dark fantasy might fit the bill. But I like to add a twist of horror too. To be honest I don’t like fitting a story into a neat little genre box. It will be what it wants to be.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?

My current work in progress is the sequel to my first book, The Making of Gabriel Davenport. It tells the story of what happened after *that* night at The Manor, when Gabriel’s world was torn apart. I started it about 5 months ago when I was waiting for beta reader feedback on the first one, and it has become a thing with a mind of its own. I have a couple of smaller projects lined up as soon as it is done, a novella length dystopian tale which will be written in a dual narrative with another writer (excited about our collaboration!) and a short story, hopefully for an anthology, set in the Middle Ages, which has a paranormal twist.

What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

See cliché riddled pony stories above. I distinctly remember one about a police horse called Nathan. My apologies for any embarrassment caused to modern day police horses with that name 😉

What’s the best part about writing?

Creating a character who suddenly takes over in your head and leads the story. They become a living, emotion filled being , in charge of the words flowing from your fingers. That high is golden.

What’s the worst part about writing?

The days when the words stick like treacle and everything sounds stilted. The editing phase where there is SO MUCH TO DO and you think that it will never make sense.

What’s the name of your favourite character and why?

Oh, that’s hard. I’d have to go with Anne Rice’s infamous Lestat de Lioncourt, the incorrigible brat prince of the vampire world . I love his strength and will and refusal to give up. He does what he wants to do and to hell with any consequences. But please don’t mention Memnoch. That was a bad cheese nightmare…

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

It depends on the week. Some days I’m lucky to grab an hour or a minimum word count, but it’s rare that I don’t do something. Other days I have a completely free day. I usually write in the afternoon but I don’t think I have a time that is best.

Did you go to college for writing?

No. Does having a writing qualification make you a better writer? I’m not sure. It might make you a better technical writer but I believe that your voice is something you have to discover for yourself.

What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?

Spelling *and* grammar. Your and you’re grate at me like nothing else!

What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?

Just write the damn story.

What advice would you give to another writer?
  1. You can’t edit a blank page.
  2. Any amount of words is progress. Don’t think you have to churn out a thousand a day to be a ‘proper’ writer.
  3. Have a sense of humour.
What are your favourite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?

I don’t have any specific sites. I have a huge amount of bookmarks and Google is a writer’s best friend, but some of the ones I do use are Emma Darwin’s ‘This itch of Writing’, Writeability, Sara Whitford and Sydney Strand. The best supportive group on the internet are the people of the Monthly Writing Challenge. Without them I’d still be manuscript-less and wallowing in my own ineptitude.

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

I like to read obviously, although I don’t do it enough. I walk a lot, it’s when I iron out any plot holes or plan the next few scenes. Once a week I go to a Pilates class to smooth out the kinks spent from sitting too much. I love movies and box sets – Breaking Bad and Dexter being two of my favourites.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Let’s see. That would either be the brilliant The Death House by Sarah Pinborough or Tantalus by Jane Jazz.

What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?

The Fault in Our Stars. Because it made me cry.

What is your favourite book or series of all time?

The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.

Who is your favourite author?

I don’t have a favourite. Those above. Stephen King, of course. Neil Gaiman. Hilary Mantel.

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?

I’m querying The Making of Gabriel Davenport at the moment. The editing on Book 2, (The Bloodvyne), will start after I’ve let it sit for a while, but I’ll do a note taking draft to keep it in my mind.

Where else can we find you online?

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

Consider yourselves tagged.

Matt Rydeen

Martin McConnell

Curt Mercer

Sarah Natale

Something old

It was National Poetry Day this week and I posted a couple of snippets on Twitter to honour this. A few people asked me for the full versions so I hunted them down on a very old flash drive!

Poetry became a passion of mine round about the time I wrote these (2001/2003). It filled a creative gap that I needed. I’m a firm believer that the words, in whatever form, come to you exactly when you need them.

~A candle flame, a quivering light

in airless halls where whispers sleep

and moonbeams peer through broken panes

where cobwebs cover lonely portraits

vacant eyes and lips silenced by dust

colours long since muted

like the voices from the past,

where shadows search for human form

between the now and then, this Neverland~

*

~Frozen candle

Burning ice

Steel tipped petals

Silken vice

Daylight stars

Velvet thorn

Desert snow

December corn

A feathered fang

Ice filled flame

Rainbow seas

All things tamed

Dusty rain

Full moon at dawn

A heartbeat screaming

Bloodied, reborn

The world revolves

Day follows night

We take for granted

Our claim to life~

The Making of Gabriel Davenport

I think it’s finally time that I pushed my little bird out of its nest to try out its wings in public. After 8 months of keeping it fairly under wraps apart from trips to beta readers and the odd line on #1linewed, it is a slightly scary prospect.

So, first of all, what is it all about? It’s an urban dark fantasy or a paranormal fantasy depending on what side of the genre fence you’re sitting on. This means that it has critters in it that go bump in the night. It has slices of horror, a twist of humour, but above all it challenges the way we look at darkness and light. There is always that grey, misty shadow between and that’s where the demons, real or imagined, sit.

One night. One boy. One secret.

The Davenports moved to the hillside town of Meadowford Bridge to give their baby, Gabriel, an idyllic countryside childhood. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Fifteen years later and Gabriel lives under the care of a renowned paranormal researcher. Gabe is determined to find out what targeted his family and is certain the answers lay in the steel vault in the cellar, the only place that is off limits.

But when the farmhouse the Davenports lived in is burnt to the ground his comfortable world starts to unravel. The people he trusts start acting abnormally. He fears he has started a chain of events by wanting to meddle with things best left buried.

As his nemesis returns and a secret is unearthed in the vault that shocks him to the core, another supernatural force presents itself, one whose instinct and knowledge pulls Gabe closer, shattering Gabe’s concept of good and evil.

The house becomes a place of shadows and second guesses as the people he loves are targeted and Gabe must face the possibility that the only place of safety may be in the darkness.

Right now I’m working on the sequel with the characters that survive. Yeah, that’s right, I kill my darlings when the muse insists 😈

I’m querying with agents/publishers at the moment but may well indie publish myself once I have digested the huge amount of information out there. I want to do this right, however much I want to see my book baby in flight.

Watch this space for more updates!

Edit. Rinse. Repeat.

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I hold my hand up. I am woefully inadequate on keeping up with blog posts. I could give you all the usual excuses, but the main one is that this past month I’ve been busy editing The Making of Gabriel Davenport, hopefully for the last time. I took all of my beta comments and added a hefty sprinkling of Find for weak words/phrases and filter words. Boy, that was an eye opener. I cleared nearly 1k in one weekend of 6+ hours of daily eyeball shaking editing .

I use ‘that’ and ‘had’ far too much. And there were far too many ‘felt’, ‘could see’ and ‘heard’. Very easy words that flow from the fingers when writing but ones to catch and squash in a final draft. I hope it’s tighter for it. It better be.

My beta readers were amazing in pointing out little discrepancies that I’d missed or highlighting passages that didn’t gel. Something I glossed over completely was the calling of my protagonist by two forms of his name that wasn’t consistent. Many thanks to @RydeenMatt for that one  🙂

Between draft 5 and draft 6 my trusty laptop died. Insert screaming emoji. Luckily I had all my writing backed up (note to anyone reading, *always* back up each night, even sending to yourself in email works!) Of course the replacement took ten days to arrive instead of the quoted two to three, so back to pen and paper I went for notes and the synopsis. Reducing 80,000+ of story into two concise pages is hard, like bang your head on the desk hard. Writers are pure masochists.

Another milestone I reached this week was the actual submitting of the first 15k to a publishing house. Do I think it’s what they are looking for? I can only hope but if I get a rejection I will try and try again. A no isn’t failure, it’s just another stepping stone. There will be more submissions very soon.

Oh, by the way, I’m working on book 2 😉 Let’s go round again….

200 Words

Another snippet of something that may become something else, but for now is content to be 200 Words.

*

The land of the midnight sun. But not what you are thinking.

This sun, raging and pink tinged, glows continually. But there is little heat. There are no days and no nights, only this gloom of time. It is broken like the land we live in. We live on dust and the meagre seeds of hope.

This valley I gaze upon is sacred ground. And forbidden. For that is where the Fire War blazed. The last great war which shaped my future and the future of the handful of us that are left.

It is a crater now, empty and brooding, remembering its history in the pock marked landscape. The peaks at the eastern side stand proud against the broken blister sky. One day I will travel there and stand gazing up at them. I know they will be too tall for me to see the tips. They will pierce the pink like knife points in a wound.

But for now I am waiting, hoping, crouched in the red dust, chilled to the bone and listening for the heavy flap of a leather wing. The echo of yesterday’s kingdom in the silent wilderness.

Waiting for dragons and wishing for fire.

The drafting process (otherwise known as Down The Rabbit Hole)

There are thousands of way to hone your first draft into the finished, hopefully-soon-to-be-published, shiny final copy. I’m new to this and the amount of information is simply staggering. You could actually spend all the time you have carefully set aside for editing, reading the ‘how to do it’ guides. And there lies the problem of the internet. There is just too much shiny out there!

I decided to go about it my own way, knowing I would learn from the process and if it didn’t work I would know not to do it like that next time.

Approaching your manuscript for the second time is a bit of a minefield. I hadn’t read through mine when writing (which was, co-incidentally, one of the best pieces of advice I took on board) so whilst you’re hoping that you’ll be bowled over by the magnificence of it, there is always that lurking doubt that you might suddenly discover that it all sucks to a degree where you feel a real urge to burn it…

My second draft was purely reading and taking notes. I squashed the need to fiddle with it somehow, and just made lots and lots of notes either on paper or in the Scrivener inspector. Some scenes only had a few scribbles whereas some had a ridiculous amount of question marks and comments like ‘elaborate’ or ‘POV’. After I did this I went through and acted on all of the notes, which could actually have been called the third draft I’ve just realised. But, hey ho.

Draft three was *pause for effect* The Timeline. My story has a lot of characters doing numerous things that have a bearing on each other and it all takes place (or most of it) over a few days. I created four A6 sides of paper with the complete timeline. Incredibly there were only a few minor time glitches to correct, apart from one whole scene that didn’t gel. After thinking it through I deleted the scene. It wasn’t needed and my timeline showed it. Trust your story.

Draft four was what I affectionately call the George R R Martin one – cutting the unnecessary words, beheading the passive voice. You’ll be clueless if you haven’t read the books or watched the show 😉

By this time I was in so deep that I could almost quote whole passages from the manuscript, far too deep to do any more good in fiddling.

So this is where I handed it over to my beta readers (who are the most selfless, amazing people, giving up their creating time to help another writer. All hail the beta reader ).

When I get all their feedback I can begin on revisions. Draft five I will be coming for you!

200 Words

Occasionally I will post little snippets of writing not tied in to anything else. Simplicity can be very soothing. This is the first.

For Sale. Dozens of not so careful owners.

Every day I pass by this run down neglect of a house, held together by old bones and cobwebs. I pause, tie a shoelace that doesn’t need fastening, and wonder at the bleached timbers and the tales they could tell. I daydream about taking it on, mending the holes in the roof, mending the holes in my life.

A new limed oak floor, chintzy curtains and roses around the door. Such a pretty house people would say. I would smile, offer tea.

I research, poring over books and yellowed photographs, scribbled notes and ink on my fingers. I always want to save things, lost puppies, a battered hat, old ghosts.

There is death in the dust; last breaths lay motionless in the dirt, disturbed only by the faint filtering of sunlight and the murmur of a hangman’s noose. Murder, betrayal, hatred. Not at all chintzy.

I could paper over the deceit, sweep old blood into a pile, deposit it outside.  Paint a flower on the wall. Velvet and gilt and goose down duvets. There, all fixed.

But can I sleep with a ghost child sobbing in the hearth?

I cannot save everything.

The first draft

I’m going to jot down some things that happened during my first draft, some good, some not so good. This is my first full length novel. Mistakes were many.

As I said in my first blog post, I started off with a few thousand words of something that could have been called a psychological thriller. It was in first person, which is where I am most comfortable. When I picked it up again and had gone a bit further I realised that I’d have to change to third to make it work, which was frankly, pretty scary. I don’t think I do third well, preferring instead to be right in the head of my character. So I had to find a variety of third that worked for me. I settled on third person multiple because it was a kind of balance between what I was used to and what I needed to tell the story.

Was this the easy way out? Absolutely not. Because in order to be able to write the story organically I would need more than what seemed ‘normal’. That was my first dither but I decided to just go with it and write the first draft. After all, that’s what edits are for, right?

I did make some notes on the characters I thought might appear in the second part of the book. They were barely there, although one I’d toyed with briefly before (another one of those long languished few thousand worders hiding in my folders). Two of the sketched out characters never even made it onto the page as the other two strangled them at birth because they were enough, so they told me.

Only one other character was needed and he wouldn’t appear until much later on. Wrong again. He demanded an entrance. Not only that, he brought along two others, who turned out to be some of the most interesting arcs in the book.

After three months it was finished *cue party streamers*

But then the real work had to begin.

Things I learned –

Don’t be afraid to change the gender of a character it if doesn’t seem right.

Don’t fret if you have to waffle your way through one day, there’ll be something worth saving.

If your character stalls think about if you’re pushing him/her in the wrong direction.

If more research is needed on a point, highlight it in some way, you can fill it in later. Don’t interrupt your creative flow.

 

Footnote : Genre wise I would class it as an urban fantasy with a twist of horror. That changed too.