Work In Progress (WIP) Blog Hop

Well, after my WordPress crashed on me, in the middle of this post (so I lost the lot…ugh!), I also seem to have lost many of my edits buttons including font size and colour…so please forgive this monotone post!

A few days ago, I was very kindly nominated by talented fantasy writer, Kate Jack (Katrina Jack) to participate in this blog hop, outlining my current work in progress (WIP).

Kate Jack is the author of brilliant urban fantasy series, The Silver Flute Trilogy, and is completing her own WIP, Dawn Horizon, the last book in her trilogy. Exciting times for her and her avid readers! Please check out her wonderful blog, full of writing advice, author interviews, short stories, poetry and much much more! http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/

What makes this blog hop so special and different from all the other thousands out there, is simply that it gives YOU a tantalising first glimpse into an author’s next new work, long before it hits the bookshelves. As a reader and writer, I’m always looking to find the next great book to immerse myself in and love getting first insights into future projects…so here we go!

7 questions about my current WIP, before I nominate others and pass the baton on.

1. What is the name of your main character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

In this book, the sequel to White Mountain – Book 1 of the Darkling Chronicles (due to be re-published by my wonderful new publishers, Kristell Ink / Grimbold Books later this year) the focus shifts to Wendya Undokki. Although Mr. Agyk, Gralen and Korrun are still the main protagonists, this book is more about Wendya’s journey, her struggles and her descent into darkness.

2. When and where is the story set?

I always envisioned the series being set now amongst our modern world, not on some mythical planet or in the distant past. I love the juxtaposition of modern technology, modern life and ancient magic. In the first book, we were introduced to the main characters and the ancient cultures and realms they exist in, realms and cultures that have lain secret for thousands of years and that pre-date humanity. These cultures have had to adapt to an ever-changing planet with a ever-increasing human population. In Book 2, we see the clash of cultures, as humanity meets these immortal creatures for the first time and the too are forced to work together in order to survive what is to come.

3. What should we know about him/her?

Wendya is a very complex, conflicted and angst ridden¬†individual who has built up barriers through the course of her life. She is stronger than she knows, but also fragile and emotionally vulnerable. She certainly has a difficult journey ahead of her in Book 2 and Book 3, but I can’t reveal much more than that yet! ūüėČ

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Lol, well I can’t reveal too much, especially for those who have yet to read Book 1. But Book 2 deals the fallout of Book 1’s revelations, with¬†themes of identity, familial bonds, trust, destiny and the use and misuse of power. Wendya struggles with all these issues and the challenges she finds herself in.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

To understand her origins, her powers and what her future holds. Some of that includes wanting to rid herself of her abilities and deny who she really is.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

Yes, Race of Shadows – Book 2¬†of the Darkling Chronicles. Lol, I’m afraid my lovely publishers have first dibs on the story before I reveal too much, but I can promise that it will epic, thrilling and a real page turner!

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

In 2015 hopefully. ūüėÄ

Chapter Twenty-One - Into The Light

There you go, now to pass the baton on to my nominees, all of them brilliant writers who have many creative works on the go at the moment…let’s take a look!

Will Macmillan Jones: http://willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com/

Joanne Hall: http://hierath.wordpress.com/

Susan Finlay: http://susansbooks37.wordpress.com/

Please check out their blogs and their wonderful books! ūüėÄ xxx

 

 

 

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Biting nails, book signing and the road to publication – Part 1.

Writing advice is a tricky one.

Certainly you’ll find hundreds of sites ready to tell writers what to do and how to do it. Unsolicited advice that may be very helpful or may not.

Personally, I genuinely believe that the writing journey is different for everyone – one size definitely does¬†NOT fit all. It’s difficult and perhaps even dangerous to tell other writers what to do, but sharing experiences and¬†stories is always a good idea.

So, for what it’s worth, here is a little of my journey to publication…I hope it’s helpful. ūüėÄ

Right, you’ve written a book, spent years toiling over it, researching it, bringing your characters to life and building the world they inhabit. So what now?

Well, firstly, the gestation period for my debut novel was extraordinarily long, ridiculously long in fact and well outside of the norm in terms of the writing process. I initially had the idea for White Mountain back in 1997 while travelling around New Zealand. I had had a few characters roaming my imagination for a while, but slowly over the course of a four-month odyssey in that astounding country, those characters became a story.

Real¬†places I fell in love with, became the direct inspiration for locations in the book. My world building went into overdrive. I found myself delving into countless volumes about ancient cultures,¬†the Sumerians, Nabateans, Indus Valley civilisations, the Epic of Gilgamesh and other ancient myths. I lost myself in the intricacies of etymology, the derivation of words we all know and many we don’t. I pored over books on geology, geography, botany and other aspects of natural history. All of it seeped into my consciousness and blended with my own growing mythology.

I’ve said it in interviews, but I truly believe that research is the key. Whatever your writing, whatever the genre – DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!

Even with a brilliant storyline, engaging characters, a plot full of twists and turns, the enjoyment of your novel will be greatly heightened by your research. In short, the suspension of disbelief which is so important to every work of fiction, is hinged upon whether you have made your story realistic, believable. In the most fantastical novel, real elements will ground it, make it easier for the reader to connect and relate to the material.

Often this is actually more important with fantasy and science-fiction novels, as they more than any other genre run the risk of alienating readers if the world the writer creates is too fantastical.

So, you’ve created your world, written your novel…what now?

Well, once you truly have gone through the vital process of rigorous editing and redrafting…I must have edited White Mountain a 100 times at least, and once you are absolutely certain that your manuscript is publisher ready…then take the plunge!

A stupidly simplistic statement, but as I know all too well, when you have taken so long on your book, it becomes your baby. It has consumed such a large part of your life that it becomes difficult to let go. The danger here, is that you then sit on the novel too long, certain of its merit and appeal but fearful to let others get their hands on it. Totally understandable. But if you are ever to make writing your life, then you have to be brave and take the plunge. Send your ms out into the world and brace yourself.

You’ll either get no response at all, or most likely, a polite no. The chances of actually gaining a publishing contract are hugely against you, so be aware of the figures. Less than 1% of all fiction published in the UK¬†is by new authors…less than 1%!

That’s quite a mountain to climb!

Once you really know and understand that, then you’ll be better prepared for the emotional rollercoaster to come.

As all writers will tell you…the worst aspect of this process is simply the waiting, endless waiting, wasting time, months of it, in some cases years.

I was lucky. I had finally finished fiddling with my book and decided that I would start the submission process. I started by entering the 2011 ABNA competition and to my delight, got through to¬†the quarterfinals before being cut at the semi’s. In that time, I didn’t send out any submissions other than to agents. Had a few rejections and a few non responses from those, par for the course – agents are even harder to get than publishers.

That’s the catch-22 scenario. Agents are harder to get than publishers but most publishers, and certainly the ‘Big Six’ – Hachette, Macmillan (excluding their new writers programme), Penguin, HarperCollins, Random House and Simon & Schuster, will only take manuscripts through an agent, no solicited ms!

Tricky…

‘Aspiring Author’, really?

writing

I was having a discussion with some writer friends recently and this topic came into the conversation. It is also popped up on my publisher’s website, and they are of the same opinion as me. That although it is certainly a very common turn of phrase on writing forums and social media sites, it is also a complete cop-out!

Why ‘Aspiring’? Yes, to be an author may well be a long-held dream, certainly in my case, it has been a lifetime’s ambition, harboured and nurtured since I was a child. So I understand the longing, the desire to achieve ‘Author’ status, what I don’t understand or agree with, is the sentiment behind the word ‘aspiring’. It is such a terribly¬†weak statement.

You are not an ‘aspiring¬†doctor’, or teacher, or lawyer, or dentist…you either ARE a doctor, teacher, lawyer, dentist, or you are NOT. There is no halfway house. Yes, you may be ‘in training’ to join one of those professions, but you should still consider yourself to BE one of them, even if you can’t practise on your patients! Have confidence in your abilities and in where you want to go. You wouldn’t consider yourself an ‘aspiring human’, would you? Ummm…well in some cases that may actually be true! ūüėÄ

Have the strength of your convictions and the confidence to see them through.

Putting yourself in the category of ‘Aspiring Author’, merely tells the world that you don’t have confidence in your own writing and that you don’t consider yourself to be a professional. Why should any publishing house take you on and take you seriously, if you don’t take yourself seriously. Publishing houses are not looking for amateurs. Debut novelists, new writers…YES! But ‘Aspiring Authors’? Really?

Your approach and your thinking must always be professional, from the outset. No¬†weak ‘aspiring’ here.

Some consider the sacred term ‘author’ to be based on sales. That you cannot call yourself an author until you are published and those royalty cheques start coming through your letterbox. Again…is this right? If you are basing your status as an author purely on sales…then you are in the wrong profession! Yes, being an author is a professional endeavour, but it is also a highly creative one. Creativity should and MUST always come before hard cash.

Although it is easy to get carried away with stories of instant success and truck loads of money, Christopher Paolini is a good example. If you are writing to get rich…you are DEFINITELY in the wrong profession! These stories hit the headlines precisely because they are so rare. Most writers struggle with sales and building their fan base for years and years, there’s nothing instant about it. It’s hard graft all the way. A good mate of mine, Will, once said that writing the book was the easiest part about it and he’s absolutely right. As hard or as easy as you may find the process of writing and editing your work, that really is the easiest part of being an author.

Think of the great writers of the 19th and 20th century, few of them had instant success with their very first book. They too had to build their readership, hone their craft and get on the carousel of marketing and promotion. Why a carousel? Because it NEVER stops! If they had dismissed themselves as merely ‘aspiring authors’, when their first book languished on the bookshelves due to poor sales, then they probably would never have written a second or third book and thus deprived us readers of some literary masterworks!

Sales has nothing to do with writing or wanting to be a writer. Yes, you’ve got to be professional and yes, good sales are what you want to strive for and achieve, but it should NEVER be a motivational tool or a yardstick by which you class yourself as an author or not.

Be what you want to be. Have confidence in your abilities, your imagination and your writing. There is nothing ‘aspiring’ about it…inspiring, hell yes! Wouldn’t you rather be an inspiring author than an aspiring one?

Whatever your professional day job…You ARE a writer…or you are not. That simple.

For me?

I am and have always been a writer, an author¬†and proud to be one. ūüėÄ

When the Griffin met the Dragon – My second interview!

My second in-depth interview! Woo-and Hoo!

(Yes, it is strange that this and Tricia’s blog came out on the same day, but you know…life IS strange and wonderful and bizarre!)

A few weeks ago I was thrilled and VERY humbled to be approached by the multi-talented, Ryan Holmes – a fellow fantasy writer, a skilled ‘Quiz Master General’, blogger extraordinaire and all round lovely guy.

Oh…did I mention that he also has my dream job?

He works for…(drum roll please)…NASA!

Ryan Holmes is also the creator of Griffin’s Quill, a fantastic website “created by authors for authors and their readership.”

Not only¬†does it feature¬†Ryan’s own writing, ‘Dawn of Resurgence’, but it is also dedicated¬†to encouraging and nurturing new writing talent.

A great place and a real haven for writing and writers in general – highly recommended!

Well, over the course of the last few weeks I’ve had an absolute blast, as¬†Ryan has well and truly quizzed me over my reasons for writing and my debut novel, ‘White Mountain’, Book 1 of ‘The Darkling Chronicles’ – published by Safkhet Publishing 30th September 2012.

Massive thanks to Ryan Holmes for all his incredible hard work and for making the interview so much fun! Check out the results here:

http://griffinsquill.com/2012/03/21/sophie-e-tallis/

Griffin’s Quill: http://griffinsquill.com/

ūüėÄ

P.S. I still want to join NASA!

Escapism at its best!

Yesterday¬†I was very flattered and rather humbled to be included in Tricia Drammeh’s – ‘Authors To Watch’, focusing on the work of ten new fantasy writers and their reasons for writing fantasy!

Tricia Drammeh’s question was this: “Why do you write fantasy?”

The answers were wonderfully varied and gave a fascinating insight into the writing processes and motivations of each author.

Some wrote from a compulsion and obsession to write, others from a need for escapism in a hard or dreary world. Some wrote fantasy as a cathartic release, a way of working through demons and again escaping a less than easy life, others simply because of their profound love of the genre, the way it can encapsulate the imagination like no other writing form.

My reason for writing fantasy? Probably all of the above! ūüėÄ

Huge thanks to Tricia Drammeh! Check out her wonderful website and¬†the ‘Authors To Watch’ section here:

http://www.authorstowatch.triciadrammeh.com/2012/03/great-escape.html

Tricia Drammeh’s website: http://www.triciadrammeh.com

ūüėÄ

Writing in a temper – creativity versus rage!

Now, on the whole I’m a very even-tempered person. By all accounts my mates describe me as¬†very laid back, often too much so. However, I am also a perfectionist who worries a lot and gets incredibly passionate and fired up about¬†people¬†and¬†things who are important to me.

The one thing that gets my goat, is injustice. People being treated badly¬†and situations which are completely unfair, really jar with me, as I’m sure they do with you. Now, trying to be diplomatic about things and biting your tongue gets you so far…but when you witness someone behaving badly and with total impunity, the urge to set things right can become overwhelming. So, what do you do when you absolutely HAVE to vent but know you can’t?

Well…I¬†write, furiously and in a fury! Often frenzied, words spilling out and crashing about the place like truculent teenagers. BUT, apart from the cathartic release you get from venting on paper or on screen, does writing in a temper actually enhance or detract from your creativity?

Tricky question!

Certainly writing in a temper will inject your prose with passion and fire, and of course, while you are in that raging vein, you are not self-conscious (the killer of creativity!). But does the content of what you are writing become better with a proverbial axe to grind, or merely more ‘in your face’?

Re-reading passages of White Mountain that I knew I wrote in a rage, made me chuckle, as I remembered not only the cause of my anger but still took¬†ENORMOUS pleasure in seeing the literary results! Bad, I know…but why not immortalise those who have irked you or caused you pain, into caricatures of themselves?

Poetry I find is particularly¬†best when ‘written in rage’…it’s fresh, powerful and uninhibited…just how I like it! BUT, the flip side of course, is that you are incapable of reflection and introspection in moments like that. Any scene which requires subtlety and ‘stillness’ simply cannot be achieved if you’re in a personal lather.

So…my recommendation to all writers, particularly those that have action in their books…is don’t write a battle scene, fight, murder etc in a calm mood, wait until you’re juiced up on rage and injustice! But ensure your calmer literary scenes are written with peace of mind and a clear narrative of thought…time to breathe! ūüėÄ

My first interview!

Kate Jack is a wonderful writer (of dark urban fantasy) and a wonderful interviewer, with an equally impressive blog!

The ‘New Authors’ section on her blog is simply inspiring – full of witty, insightful and thought provoking interviews with up-and-coming authors. An exploration¬†into¬†the different writing processes, work habits, and influences of each author. Really really fascinating stuff!

On January 22nd 2012, Kate was kind enough to interview me, here it is: http://wp.me/pWz0d-id

Please check out Kate’s Blog here:¬†¬†http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/

HUGE thanks Kate! ūüėÄ