Monday, 29 December 2014

White Horses, Crop Circles and Ley Lines

With Reagan on special offer in the US and UK for the next few days, I thought it would be cool to focus on some of the aspects in this third book in the Hengist series.

Wessex is a medieval district in England, at the heart of which lies Avebury - a town built around a Stone Circle, 3 times the size of Stonehenge and the largest in the world.
A number of White Horses are carved into nearby hillsides surrounding the town, the most famous
of which is Uffington, which has existed on "Dragon Hill" for 3,500 years. Every one is sited
at the intersection of three or more ley lines.
Silbury Hill (part of the Avebury temple complex) is the epicentre of hundreds of crop circles which appear in the fields from April to September.
Ranging from simple Celtic crosses to complex, geometrically significant designs, every one of these entities is within sight of a White Horse or a sacred structure such as a stone circle or burial mound.

There are many conflicting theories as to how and where they appear, and they always elicit strong passions (one way or the other) among their huge following.

Ley Lines can take many different forms, the most well known are probably the alignments of natural and sacred prehistoric structures. Others involve spirit or funerary paths (death roads), and energy lines resulting from the earth's magnetic field and various water sources (springs, underground streams etc).

One of the largest Leys in England, the St. Michaels Ley, is aligned along the path of the sun on Beltane/Lughnasadh sunrise and sunset at Samhain/Imbolc. It can be considered astronomical, and there is a geometrical connection between Glastonbury and Avebury, (which both lie on the St Michael ley line) and Stonehenge.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Download Reagan for Free

Ok, so it's a bit of a clever marketing trick, but I'm offering Reagan for free to download on your kindle 'til the end of the year. You can find it by following the links to the UK and the US. I'm hoping it will win a few new fans for the series who will want to join Reagan's protegee Slater in his Stonehenge adventure or go back and find out about Archer's adventures in the medieval land. Here's what the press says:

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Ro Green's "Naughty" stories

Tee Hee. That cheeky little Ro is having some fun with a deal on her second book, Triple Jeopardy. Read the article below, and if you didn't get a chance to read it already, you can pick it up for free from the UK or the US.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Slater Rocks the Charts

It's official - a Press Release about Slater's success went out - you can read the article here.

It was taken up by over 65 news sites across the USA, here's a few of them:

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Vote for Slater book trailer

I really can't decide between these two so please, let me know which one rocks the most for you, Slater3 or Slater4?
Thanks so much
    Jacky
   
Slater3


Slater4

Oh dear, I thought I put this up ages ago, but there's this wee celebration coming soon which seems to be nicking all my writing time. Two part-time jobs aren't helping - come on universe - I need some down time from this living lark to devote to my books!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Slater is a Number 1 hit!

Yay, how cool is this? One day after release, Slater is already in the bestsellers
in the US @ #13 and in the UK @ #1!!!

Thanks to everyone who already bought it -  you have helped me to finally become a bestselling Author.
I would really appreciate if you can write a review on Amazon. I'd be even more grateful if you can share your opinion of Slater on the social media so we can network it as far as possible - this is how books go viral.

Until December 1st, Slater is available in the UK for only 77p and in the US for only $0.99.




Saturday, 22 November 2014

Slater goes live!!!

Wow, I can't believe it's really here - Slater day.
I'm hoping this montage of the book trailer images will give you a flavour of what it's about.




As will the tag line:
Slater's ability to read ley-lines gets him into trouble, but his connection to ancient secrets puts his life in danger.

Or the alternative:
Knowledge is dangerous. What Slater knows about the altar stone could prove fatal.

Go check it out: UK/US.
If you do read it, I'll be so-oo grateful for your reaction, doubly so if you can post a review on amazon - each one of those is worth a few places up the bestsellers lists, and when I get 25, I can start on the really huge world-wide promotions to get it up to the number one slot. How cool would that be? I have faith that Slater is gonna be the book to do that, but I can only do it with your help.

If you don't like numbers, look away now.
The number 11 is a very special master number, and 22? take a guess. Yep, twice as powerful.
So when you get 22/11/14, you endup with 22 and 11 which is 33, and we all know about the power of three, right? [If not, check out those Halliwell sisters in Charmed]. And just because you can, try adding all the digits together - 2+2+1+1+1+4. Magic, init?

Friday, 21 November 2014

Slater - the awesome new cover design

Rebecca Sterling has done it again. How I managed to keep this one under wraps for two weeks is
beyond me. But as it's the first in the Hengist: People of the Horse makeover, it deserved a bit of a build up.
Let me know what you think.

This is, however, the 4th in the series, the others are:
#1 - Archer - a warrior         UK/US
#2 - Rory - an anglecynn     UK/US
#3 - Reagan - a magi           UK/US
They are all available to buy on kindle, but it's not necessary to read them to enjoy Slater.

Slater will be available from tomorrow 22/11/14 - very fittingly in the Dark of the Long Nights Moon. When you read Slater, you'll understand why I chose this special day.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Fox among Wolves

Cover by Rebecca Sterling
Duh!!! Just realised I didn't even mention this. Last week, Ro Green brought out her 3rd book since May 1st - that's just over 8 weeks. She's gonna take a break now - these stories were written a while ago and needed polishing to make them fit for human consumption (her words).

It's available on Amazon UK @ 77p and US @ $1.31 for a little while longer (until July 13th) if you want to take advantage of a real bargain.

Apparently, the tag line goes something like this:
A smart cookie takes on a dark, edgy hero and a sexy, ruthless villain in this romance with muscle.

And here's the long version:
Ginny’s dad had great advice about facing devils head on. ‘Think about the worst thing that could happen and figure out why you’re afraid. Get past that and the rest is easy.’ There was no doubt about her worst fear. Alone in a house with six men, all of whom had just ogled her naked body, it was a complete no-brainer.

When Ginny’s Saturday night bath is interrupted, and her uncle’s house is invaded by the supposed victims of a car crash, the outcome might appear predictable. But nothing is as expected, including the uncle she thought she knew. Ginny endures their attentions as each one is distracted from their covert task, but she seems to have fallen for the rottenest apple in this particular barrel.

With a spicing of international intrigue, blackmail and a bent ex-soldier, Ginny needs every ounce of wit and courage to survive the long weekend of simmering tensions.


When you've read it, she'd really appreciate a comment. Ta JJJ

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Well Fancy That!

I was checking out Ro's latest release, Fox among Wolves and look what I found.
Imagine that - all the people who bought it, also bought copies of the other WWW books. How cool is that?

Monday, 23 June 2014

Introducing Sho and JD

JD - The Comedy Queen
Sho - The detective
Yet more of the awesome introductions from the World Wise Writer ladies.

Obviously JD didn't do her own, so Sho stepped into the breach and what an awesome job she did. I'm absolutely itching to point you at more of Sho's incredible internet talents, but it's a bit hush-hush just now. Soon!


Introducing
Shoshona Freedman

Introducing 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Introducing Andrea and Hannah

Andrea - The Amazon
Hannah - The Runner

JD, being the total internet wizard that she is, has produced some awesome
introductions of the World Wise Writer ladies.

The pix give you an idea of how good they are, but you really have to click on the links and watch the animated versions. If they don't get you chuckling ... I'm gonna let you finish that sentence for yourself.

Introducing
Andrea Domanski


Introducing
Hannah Sullivan


Monday, 2 June 2014

WWW Bestsellers

How Awesome is this - amazing what people can achieve in 3 months if they put their minds to it ...

Monday, 26 May 2014

50 Shades of Green

That's what I am reliably informed the author is calling this book. To all those friends and acquaintances who ask her when she's gonna write one. Not that it bears much resemblance - this is three stories, not one and the girls are much younger - teen and college in the first two. Ok, so the last story does get a little tied up in  naughtiness, if you know what I mean, but that's Ro for you. He middle name is playful and she does like to have fun.

You can buy it in the UK for 77p and the US for $1.29, but only for a little while longer, then it will go up to £2.44/$3.99. So go and snap it up quick - just keep close to a cold shower for when you finish.
Here's the blurb:

Three girls, three decades, one outcome. These heroines have one thing in common – they attract trouble.

Tina’s Dilemma - Would you tell your best friend? Underneath Justin’s Greek God exterior is a dark bully. Tina has suffered twice at his hands and now he’s about to marry her former best friend. She is faced with a choice – ruin the wedding and risk a friendship or let Chloe marry the wrong man.

Teacher’s Pet – Where does it say “feel free to take advantage”? Vicky’s passionate opinion in class attracts unwanted attention from the local rugby hero, whose mates are just plain loud. But they are exactly who she needs when Dr Parr decides to educate her about more than just Economics.

Date Rape – When play-acting stops being a game. Kent Adams was different to Cassie’s normal dates – this one was a keeper. Erudite, worldly and six foot of pure, knee-trembling muscle, he shares her passion for opera and takes her to Shakespeare’s very own theatre in Stratford. But a combination of misread signals and dark yearnings culminate in the worst night of her life.

These short stories, set in the 70s, 80s and 90s involve the rather precarious adventures of three lovely ladies – and we’re not talking about the tree-climbing and dinghy-sailing type either. Hang on a sec, in the first book we actually are. A sweet coming of age story (with a dark twist), a college story that bites back, then the one that should have stayed buried on a floppy disk and never be released - but apparently S&M is the order of the day ...

Warning: Contains scenes of sexual violence.


Ro's added a bit about may contain nuts or something, but that's plain daft - you can't eat an e-book.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Thunder storms up the bestseller lists

Flags are out in three countries, celebrating the last of the World Wise Writer gals to release her debut novel. Only been out a couple of days and it already hit #26 in the Amazon US Bestsellers list for Children's Sword & Sorcery Fantasy Books. That's against stiff competition like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and The Hobbit.
Here's the deal:

When fifteen-year-old Olivia Williams and her two younger brothers wake up from a car crash, they’re positive their world has changed. The talking horse is a big clue. And he has a lot to say. According to Thunder, fairies, magic and good ol’ St Nick are all for real. On some level. Which would be incredibly awesome, but there’s a problem. A rift has formed between the layers of existence, and the evil Sliders are taking advantage of it—bringing violence, fear and hatred with them.

Now the three siblings are immersed in a tangle of reality and fantasy. One with trolls, freakish amphibians ... and town-devouring rats. Fortunately, help is on hand as Thunder introduces them to a world of Shifters and other powerful beings. Like Olivia’s very own Guardian, Ethan. Whom she actually does like. A lot. How could she not, when his job is to stand between her and death?


With humanity at stake, the Williams children must do more than accept the unbelievable. They must accomplish the impossible. The rift needs to be sealed and they’re the only people alive with the potential to do it.


You can buy it now on Amazon US or Amazon UK - at a mere $3.99/£2.43, it's one of the biggest bargains you'll find today. See what other people have said about it (follow the link for your country's Amazon and click on comments) and if you are still not convinced, read an excerpt on her blog.
When you've enjoyed meeting Olivia and her brothers, a comment would be awesome.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Mirrored Time defeats the Goblins

Whoops - this is a couple of days late - too busy focussing on my own stuff. One of our wonderful World
Wide Writers has published her stunning debut novel. This is one you are going to want to read again and again - or even Time after Time (cue Cindy Lauper ...) This will give you the idea:

First it was water.
Then blood.
And finally smoke.

Gwen Conway never knew there were so many ways to die. Honestly, it was something she would have been happy not knowing. Maybe, they really are just dreams. Nightmares. But they won’t stop. And dreaming of her death is getting old. Then there’s the sleepwalking. She’d like to pass on that too. Gwen’s pretty sure the dreams have something to do with her new job. Which of course, is definitely not just a ‘job.’

Don’t get her wrong, working for the Archiver of the Time Streams has its perks. Having the power to travel to any past or future time is fantastic. Plus, there’s Rafe, the ex-gladiator from the future. She’d like to keep him around too. Not that she would tell him that. It’d go straight to his head.

But she’s less than pleased to find herself in the middle of a time travelers’ war. Especially against a crazed half-god who has the power to obliterate the existence of any time or place. And the Guardians, her so called allies? All the help they offer is strict rules and smug superiority. Plus, they seem convinced she’s already lost, that she’s already died.


Gwen is starting to wonder whether she should have read her employment contract more carefully.


When you've read it, a comment would be awesome.

I strongly recommend you check it out - if my word isn't enough, read an excerpt on her blog and see what other people have said about it. Also, you can follow her progress through the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award - she's currently a quarter finalist. it also gives you the option to download the 1st 16 pages for free.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

What's not to like about a Hot Angel and Forbidden Romance?

Absolutely nothing. If that sounds like your cup of tea, check it out:
UK Death Wishes or US Death Wishes. Here's some more detail:

During a routine operation, Jo Gold dies, causing all hell to break loose in heaven. No more exciting explorations with her teenage kids. No more bringing the worlds of film and TV into her maths lessons. No more dreams of adventures further afield. Or are there?

Her list of "10 things I must do before I die," written in front of witnesses, constitutes a legal and binding contract. Based on seven key aspects of her life, the angels have to decide whether she deserves a stay of execution to fulfil her bucket list.

Machidiel is a complete rookie, so everything is against him, especially the technology that lets him experience her emotions. As he tries to build a picture of her creative accomplishments, he is drawn to her in ways no angel should be. The added complication? His boss Zadkiel is determined to cause chaos at every opportunity. Mac is equally determined this woman will not stay dead. He has no idea of the real complication. If she lives and he is appointed her guardian angel, he will have to resist his attraction to her.


When you've read it, a comment would be awesome.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Busy Little Bees

 Unfortunately, I've been so caught up with releasing Death Wishes, I neglected to tell you that the totally awesome sequel to the totally awesome Crossfire has been released ahead of schedule.

And it lets you get to know more about the boy who ought to have floated Mirissa's boat but never quite manages it because of his guilty secret. Go check them out. You will not be disappointed.


Crossfire: Once a normal teenage girl, now an Amazon warrior. Add in a bunch of kick-ass preternaturals and one maniacal demi-god and what have you got? The worst birthday ever!

GrecoWhen Greco’s long-estranged mother is taken by an unknown enemy, he must face more than just his own personal demons. Ruthless mercenaries, inept crooks, and deeply buried secrets abound while Greco and Mirissa push their relationship to the brink in their search for answers. In this short story sequel to Crossfire, the mysteries of Greco’s past are revealed and his biggest mistake threatens to destroy his future.

Don't forget to leave a comment when you've read it.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

A flurry of activity

Goodness me, you go away to Wet, Windy Wales for a few days and it's all happening when you get back. First of all, my very good friend Shoshona (SD) Freedman released her amazing book The Faithful. How can I say this nicely? You MUST go and Buy this Book. And then Read It. And then Write a Comment saying exactly what you thought of it.
Here's the blurb:

For Agent Josh Metcalf, memories are ghosts. They are blood-soaked backpacks and the smell of strawberry Chap Stick. Josh is haunted by a little girl who went missing his first summer on the force. Decades later his search has become an obsession, and he’s pinned the photos of hundreds of missing children to his wall of tears. All the children had psychic abilities. All the cases went cold -- with no witnesses, no useful tips, and no children ever recovered. Until a woman gets injured trying to stop an abduction, and Josh comes face to face with his personal ghost.

For Rowan Wilson, a meteorite hunter for NASA’s Spaceguard program, memories are lies. The childhood she thought she knew has been erased, leaving a black hole in its place. New recollections are flaring to life: men dressed like priests, a ranch in the mountains, mind control, and rape. Each new memory draws her closer to one of the other missing children, Sumner Macey; and to I Fidele, the underground organization for whom kidnapping is just the beginning.

For Sumner, memories have become weapons. He’s sharpened each of his with surgical precision: the ranch, the doctrine, the mind-wash, and the murders. He’s eager to slice at the black sludge pumping through I Fidele’s heart, desperate to cripple those who stole his childhood.

To I Fidele, non-psychics are cockroaches in need of extermination, an inferior species destroying the earth. They’re ready to enforce eugenics on a global scale. If they succeed, only those faithful to their doctrine will survive.


Pretty amazing huh? This lady knows how to tease you in, entertain you and keep you so wrapped  up in her world that you forget to eat, sleep and - well, you can fill in whatever is important to you.
Buy, Enjoy, Comment! It's my new mantra.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Congratulations ...

... and celebrations, while I tell everyone I'm happy as can be.
(Apologies to Sir Cliff for mangling his lyrics)

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥
I am just so incredibly happy that two of the Awesome WorldWiseWriters have made it through to the third round of ABNA. Only the Quarter finals!!!
♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥
Yay, way to go ladies!


Shoshona Freedman's truly thought-provoking book The Faithful is through in the Mystery and Thriller category.

Jennelle Faulkner's marvellous mind-mangling story Mirrored Time
is through in the Sci-Fi category.

Well done ladies, we are rooting for you all the way to the final where you'll just have to duke it out for overall winner. Or maybe mud-wrestling?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Critting for England ...

Oops, so busy reading, critting and trying to edit a bunch of my older stories, I haven't posted for two weeks. One of the things I've discovered is that there are certain things that snag so badly for me, they pull me right out of the story and I just cannot get over myself enough to carry on reading. Here's my hit list - any of them resonate for you?

1. Voice mis-match (a 'mumsy' voice then a page of blood-thirsty, bone-crunching wet and nasty action). Sorry but if the voice doesn't match up to the genre I'm not likely to get past the first page. Especially if the first character I meet is a killer. I need to be wooed by a voice fit for purpose.

2. Cardboard characters (I don't get to meet them properly before they're saving the world). Or even worse, there is a lot of description and I get told what type of character they are but I never get to see them in action or hear their thoughts.

3. Cardboard action (heroes faced with impossible odds on the first page but oh-so-easily resolved when hundreds of monsters are slain with each stroke of a magic sword). Sorry, but this just feels like a get-out-of-jail-free card and I just invested a raft of emotion for a computer game scenario? Never more than once.

4. Way too much world-building detail (especially great chunks of description, particularly when it pertains to stuff that has no bearing on the characters or the story). Who gives a monkey's whether her shoes were Prada or D&G?

5. Name soup - a cast of dozens of bit players and/or names of Places and Things, cluttering up a page and snagging me out of the action while I try to work out who/what they are.

6. Too much geography (he stood up, turned around and walked towards the door situated on the right of the room ... that sort of thing). I am snagged out of the story while my brain tries to do the visual reconstruction of whatever picture the author had in his/her mind.

7. Constant time-stamping. As with the name soup, every time you mention a time scale precisely, it snags me out of the story while my brain scrutinises this new piece of information to try and fit it into a recognisable time-line and determine whether it makes sense with my view of how long things take.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

This takes me back ...

... about 20 years to when I first started writing. I'm looking at stuff I was so proud of then and my face is screwing up into a Really? expression. I know I have the But, And, that and was diseases, but back then there were horrid little suddenly's all over the shop and you just couldn't move for the adverb infestation. I even had (gasp!) three adjectives plaguing one poor noun. Horrific stuff eh?
I reckon it's something we all go through and it takes at least a dozen stories (if they are mostly shorts like mine were) 'til you iron out all the rookie mistakes like the nest of vipers that is an unlimited omniscient narrator. *shudders*. Seriously, who has 3 pov changes in one page (let alone one scene). I did. And try as I might, I cannot see how to get round it. But I've met these wonderful ladies who have some superb ideas, I have every confidence they will help me out.
Now where's that axe? The scissors just weren't anything like vicious enough.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Another Brave Lady

Pat Gillis, who ABNA pitch threaders may know as Conservative Collie has very kindly let me loose on her first 555 words. Here's what happened:

Prologue
It was many seasons after the upheaval when Bo first saw the signs. They were on the stall doors, the entrance to the barn itself and on the fence posts from which the gates hung. Even before he could properly read, he was able to recognize the shapes that spelled out the beginning of the Concept.
“In every living thing…,” the signs began, and Bo’s mother taught him to remember every living thing meant exactly that.
“Even the sheep?” Bo asked.
“Yes,” his mother said gently.
“Even the oxen?”
“Yes, Bo, even the oxen.”
“And the sparrows?”
“That’s right, Bo.”
It is not natural for people to use names when only two people are talking (they know who they are talking to). They especially would not use the name twice. The reader can easily work out who is talking. I know it’s a mother talking to a child, but even so it’s very distracting.– lose the last Bo. Also, in the name soup department that’s 5 Bo’s in 100 words – 5% - ridiculously high. Overall 22 in 673, which is 3.3%. Still ridiculously high 
As soon as he was able to travel, his mother took him to the information session near the foot of the Bridge. The Coops there were larger than any Bo had ever seen. As the rooster crowed, it startled Bo to see everyone near The Coops stop to recite the first line of the Concept together. On the other side of the Bridge, Bo saw the iconic phrase was also carefully carved into the doorway of The System Building itself. His mother explained that the words were there to remind them all of the promise of the new understanding. Bo was in awe of the beautiful building and could scarcely contain his excitement when his mother explained that the magnificent structure belonged to all of them.
I deliberately didn’t re-read your pitch so this would be like the first time I’d opened your book. You use Coops like I’m supposed to know what they are. My British brain read them the first time as Co-ops (my favourite grocery store chain), then the rooster made me think of hen coops, but I’m still none the wiser. You get one more chance to explain, then it’s slush pile. I get that I’m in a foreign world, but I need a bit of hand-holding until I’m happy there and Bo isn’t doing his job. Despite the adjectives you use to describe it, I’m not seeing this edifice. I need detail to give me a visual – glass/brick/steel – colour, architectural style –just one detail that isn’t vanilla. You are telling me its awesome, but you are not showing me. 
Bo found the signs on the doors of his classroom too, and when he learned they would be expected to recite the text on the sign each morning, he was eager to show his teacher that he already knew the words by heart. Owen, the youngster who lived on the other side of the Bridge, noticed Miss Agrestic’s approval and his jealous resentment toward Bo was resolved by a shove. Bo pushed back and, inevitably, one of the shoves crossed the line and the two ended up grappling in a fierce but youthful battle. Miss Agrestic stomped her foot and sent the two of them to different corners. After a few giggles, the rest of the class continued their work while Bo and Owen glared at each other from across the room. Bo’s mother heard of his antics, and in the evening, as the sun was setting behind the barn, she called him to her to discuss his behavior. He was a little sullen as he approached, for he was still smarting from his public embarrassment.
“Why don’t you tell me what happened today?” she began.
“Owen started it and he pushed me first because he couldn’t recite the Concept and I could and besides he started it.”
“Yes, Bo, you mentioned that part already. Do you know why Owen couldn’t recite the Concept today?” “Because he’s stupid,” Bo retorted.
“Bo, you mustn’t say that again. He’s not stupid; he just doesn’t know. You have to understand that some don’t. Not only have they not been taught the way you have, it might even be possible their family has forgotten how important it is to know. Why don’t you help Owen and teach him what you’ve learned?”
Bo looked off across the field, ignoring her suggestion. “I don’t want to go back to school,” he said sullenly.
“Now, Bo,” his mother said gently. “There are many things you need to learn before you grow up, and when you learn those things, then you’ll understand. I think you should help Owen.” She heard Bo snort. “You could teach him what you know, because it is important for all of us to understand. The System requires it, and you could help.”
Ok, this needs fixing good before you p-off all your potential readers. Why does Bo’s mum feel it necessary to rpeat his name in 4 out of 5 sentences? Has she forgotten who he is or is she worried he might not remember it? Is this something your parents did to you or do you do it to your kids? Sorry sweetie, but it doesn’t feel normal to me. 
 Bo stamped his foot. “But they want us to stay in this little room and all face the same way and listen to Miss Agrestic and we aren’t allowed to play or talk except at recess and…and…”. He stamped his foot again, rendered speechless by the injustice of it all. His mother turned away, resuming her supper, and Bo watched her carefully. Finally, convinced his case had not impressed her, he settled down to grazing beside her.

Please feel free to add your comments. Was I too harsh?

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Life after ABNA

So, another disappointment, didn't make it through, but who cares, there is so much good stuff happening around here it's not true. A huge congratulations to all of those who made it through, especially Shoshona, Jennelle, Lisa, Adina, Maggie, Don, Sue T, Rodney, Jenn and AK Mystery Mom - whoever you are!
Will be crossing fingers and everything else for the next round.

Well Done and Good Luck!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Healer, heal thyself.

OK, so a really daft idea: I'm taking 3 medium/short stories and gonna publish them as a package. So here's me taking stuff I wrote back in 1995 - and giving it a right good kick up the jacksie. It was a typical prologue - all internal monologue - kinda setting the scene and introducing the main characters.

I'm not gonna add comments, but the second version shows what I mean by an injection of "voice". You may think there is a fair bit in the first, but Tina's internal snark is not even in 2nd gear (you gotta drive a stick shift to get that one).
===========================================================
‘Rats!’ That was the third time I’d smudged mascara onto the eye-shadow. Well this time it would have to stay. Nobody would notice me anyway, not with Chloë’s silly hat drawing all the attention. I frowned at the blusher - the bronze tint was supposed to complement my brown eyes - and brushed it in the hollow of my cheekbones. Gazing in the mirror, I reflected on my childhood friend’s “last night of freedom” - what an outdated idea that was. “Hen night” wasn’t much better. It conjured up images of brightly dressed females clucking their concern over the poor little chick about to fly the roost. Except this little chick has no idea what she is letting herself in for when she gets married next week.

My attention was drawn to the array of photographs of us dotted around the mirror. What a contrast. At nine years old you could tell just by looking that she was a pretty, obedient child - butter never even got vaguely warm - but me? - the scowl on my face said it all. The shortest of mini-skirts, hideous false-eyelashes and tight, scoop-necked top in the photo next were evidence of a boy-obsessed puberty. She would be thankful there was no record of her late teens, spent in a wilderness where her personality and looks deteriorated as she desperately tried to please the love of her life, Justin. Of course it was all to no avail, his possessive jealousy gradually turned her into a frumpy mouse, afraid of her own shadow. Poor Chloë, she had really been through the mill. Now she’d come full circle, back to a slim, attractive young woman, whose self-assurance was growing daily.

Picking up the lipstick, I smiled, remembering her recent pleasure at mastering ice-skating. Justin had been working one Saturday, so she came to the nearby rink with me and a gang of friends. She soon forgot her embarrassment at being large and took to it like a duck to water. By the end of the session she was as good as any of us and I was pleased to see the way she fitted in. You wouldn’t think it was the same girl who dubbed us “the grammar school crowd”. There was just no stopping her then - one of the local show-offs noticed her, and after only ten minutes tuition, had her skating backwards fairly well. She went home elated and radiant, but as she worked most Saturdays, she only managed to come with us once more in the ensuing months.

I shook my head and began to outline my lips. If only Linda were here to talk it through with, but we were meeting her later in town. Yeah, Lin would get straight to the bottom of it all right, she’s so laid-back and she could be objective about things. I tried talking it over with Danny, but he’s much too close and anyway, he would never see anything clearly where Justin is concerned. I suppose he could be right, that we should let them get on with it, but I have good reason to doubt Justin’s suitability as a life-long partner.
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And here's the second version with a real souped-up voice injection (look carefully - it's not just about putting things in italics, although a heck of a lot of that goes on):
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‘Rats!’ That was the third time I’d smudged mascara onto the eye-shadow. Well this time it would have to stay. Nobody would notice me anyway, not with Chloë’s silly hat drawing all the attention. Sucking my cheeks in, I brushed bronze-tinted blusher into the hollow. Someone who knew about this stuff said it would complement my brown eyes and make my face look thinner. Fat chance! Gazing in the mirror, I reflected on my childhood friend’s “last night of freedom” – what an archaic idea that was. “Hen night” wasn’t much better – a bunch of brightly dressed females clucking over the poor little chick about to fly the roost. Except this little chick had no idea what she was letting herself in for

A photo slotted in the mirror frame caught my eye - it was the pair of us aged nine. What a contrast. You could tell just by looking that she was a sweet, obedient child – butter never even got vaguely warm. But me? The scowl on my face said it all. The next photo was evidence of her desperate, boy-obsessed puberty: the shortest of mini-skirts, hideous false-eyelashes and a tight, scoop-necked top. There was no record of her late teens; different schools meant we had grown apart. Her personality and looks deteriorated as she frantically tried to please the love of her life, Justin. It was all to no avail, his possessive jealousy turned her into a frumpy mouse, afraid of her own shadow. Poor Chloë, she had really been through the mill. Now she’d come full circle, back to a slim, attractive young woman, whose self-assurance was growing daily. 

Picking up the lipstick, I smiled at the picture of her with a gang of my friends at the local skating rink. Reluctant to mix with “the grammar school crowd,” she soon forgot her embarrassment at being large and took to it like a duck to water. Not that she looked like a duck or anything. Waddle, she did not. By the end of the session she was as good as any of us and I was pleased with how she fitted in. There was just no stopping her the next time – one of the local show-offs noticed her and by the end of the session, had her skating backwards like a professional. A different girl went home: elated, radiant and bubbling with confidence. 

I shook my head and began to outline my lips. If only Lin were here to talk it through with, but we were meeting her later in town. Her bubbly personality shone out of the next picture, a cuddly, street-wise girl with a wicked sense of humour. Yeah, Lin would get straight to the bottom of it all right. She was laid-back and could be objective about things. Unlike my boyfriend. My skin heated up at the picture of him looking rugby-player rugged in an Arran sweater, leaning against a Mirror dinghy with the classic red sail. Don’t get me wrong, Danny’s incredibly sensitive and well-balanced. For a bloke. But last time I tried talking it over with him, he blew a fuse. I get it, he’s much too close to the situation and anyway, he would never see anything clearly where Justin is concerned. I suppose he could be right, we should let them get on with it, but knowing what I know, there is way more than good reason to doubt Justin’s suitability as a life-long partner. ===========================================================

Ok, reading it through now, I realise that there is way too much plot detail in there for a realistic prologue, but as an exercise in voice injection, it's a doozy. What do you think?

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The First 555 words are the best ...

... or that's what I'm hoping. A very brave lady has taken up the challenge and set me loose on the first page of her darling child. I'm trying not to be too snarky - she is a relative newcomer. I've gotta say, I would have been so proud if my second novel was this good - see what you think.

My crits are small so they don't hurt so much. Here it is:
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PROLOGUE
It had been a little over ten years since Michael tasted freedom, since he had the choice to feel love or love back. It had also been just as long since he hadn’t been forced to kill in the name of ‘his’ country, and so many others.
It had been a little over ten - passive, feels old. Use It was ten instead to make it more active, vibrant. 
It had also been just as long - Eyes glazing at the back story. Try a repeat for emphasis: Ten years since …

The “Collective” is a global multi-government sanctioned organization, which protects the innocent against tyranny. The Collective recruited Michael off the streets of Los Angeles at the age of eighteen. Pure backstory – drip feed it in with a reaction from Michael. Is this the Collective’s story? No. Put it in Michael’s pov. 

Michael had grown up in the foster care system and group homes since he could remember. At the tender age of fifteen he decided enough was enough, and got out. He survived those three years doing odd jobs for local gangsters and drug dealers until he got caught holding the bag, literally. Michael was found with enough heroin on him to send him away for a long time. While Michael was in prison a riot broke out and he took a shiv in his back and ribs. He was rushed to the local hospital with life threatening injuries. An hour later he was pronounced dead, or so the world thought. So after an allowable couple of sentences introducing Michael and hinting at his dilemma, we get 139 words of backstory. You, the author, telling us about Michael’s past ten years. It’s all history – nothing to grip, excite or intrigue me. It already happened in the last 10 years. It’s a great anecdote, but I’m not feeling his pain because it’s not now and immediate. 

The Collective turned Michael into the perfect killing machine, void of any emotions or regrets. After two long years of rigorous training in mixed martial arts, linguistics, weaponry and the latest technology, Michael graduated at the highest level an operative could, tier 3. To the Collective Michael was truly one of a kind. He followed orders without question and the mission always took priority, elevating him quickly to the top of the ranks at tier 5. Michael traveled often on the job, but the base of operation for his section of the Collective was located in the U.K., London to be exact. And yet another 102 words of pure backstory. Long dead history. A classic case of the writer telling the reader everything she thinks he ought to know. Kill it dead.

CHAPTER ONE
It was an early morning flight that had Michael heading home to the states for his next assignment. Passive, time stamping. If the time of day is germaine to the plot, let us see the effect on Michael. I need to know how this travel impacts on him physically, emotionally and/or mentally. Also, keep Michael at the forefront of the action – front and centre at all times – no-one wants to read about a hero who has stuff done to him.

He was to get close to a female FBI agent whose partner, Agent John Randolph, was suspected of working with the known terrorist group, “Black Hail”. Black Hail was responsible for several bombings in Eastern Europe and Asia and was said to be planning an attack on U.S. soil. Why would you tell the reader everything he needs to know about the bad guy in one fell swoop? Where’s the incentive to read on? Tease him by drip-feeding the info one nugget at a time. Make him work, it’ll give him a feeling of accomplishment, make him want to invest more effort in uncovering the gold. 

Michael took a seat in first class. Not passive, but not exactly inspiring me that I’m there on the plane with him. I need more sensory experience than just bland looking. It’s kinda like you’re watching the movie and telling me about it while I sit with my back to the screen. He had his choosing because all of first class was empty, the Collective saw to it. In the UK, we would say “He had his choice.” Could be a pond thing, so I’ll leave it. “saw to it” feels a bit like flabby telling, but it could be a voice thing so I’ll leave it. They bought out all the seats to give him the privacy he would need in order to study Agent Shyira Chandler’s file. Why would he need to study her file in private if he already knew her profile? (In the next graf you make it clear he’s travelling commercial because of her expertise) I’m confused. Normally Michael would fly on the private jet that the Collective owned, but occasionally the job required him to fly commercial, it added to his cover. This job was a prime example; if Michael knew Agent Chandler’s profile like he thought he did, he knew she was very thorough. If she was that thorough, wouldn’t she know that the Collective had booked the entire first class and only he had travelled in it? I need more. After that first showing sentence, the rest of this graph is pure telling – kind of a combination of backstory and world-building. The detail is all excellent, it’s the detached, passive voice that gets the eyes glazing. Michael isn’t speaking to me yet. Michael didn’t mind the flight, it made him feel normal for a short time. Aha. Now I get the briefest glimpse of who Michael might be. Not exactly happy in his work.

Agent Chandler is a tall, 5’7” beauty of mixed blood. Her mother is Caucasian and her father is of African American decent, and her features showed her mixed heritage. Shyira’s build is slim, but athletic. Her eyes are a deep green, and her lips full. Her hair is long, curly, and the color of brown sugar from what he could tell of her picture. And the reason for swapping to present tense is??? Again with the tell-all. 56 words of nothing but facts. Drip feed please and add reaction/ emotion. Her looks, however were of no concern to him, she was the mission. Nice bit of intrigue to end on – just a missing comma after however. I'm sure purists would want a semi-colon, colon or an em-dash instead of that final comma (depending on who you talk to), but I'm no purist. The very antithesis. Mean and dirty, me.
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If you disagree with any of my crits I want to know - please add a comment in the poor girl's defence. We'll call her A because she is the first. Feel free to argue in A's favour - I like a good debate. I'm making this all up as I go along and the last thing I want to be is dogmatic or rule-bound.

If you want to risk your darling, you'll find all the details here.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Ro's little one-woman support network

Well, that's me caught with my panties well and truly round my ankles.
The truth of the matter is, I was taking a long, hot bubble bath with scented candles, 3 types of incense burning and Alice Cooper's awesome late-night Planet Rock show. Ok, there was no Journey, but plenty rockin' with Dire Straights, Purple, Steve Miler, Yes, Cream, then oodles of Bowie. A pretty good second best. So when I got a bunch of ABNA buddies saying yes please, I'm like - oops!

So what's it all about?
I would like to offer, for a limited time only, the chance to get the first 555 words of your manuscript up to the standard required for submission. What you find out from this little exercise can then be applied to the rest of your ms. Why 555? It's power of 3, 5 and so much more besides, but it will get most people near the end of the second page in a normal paperback.

All I ask in exchange is that you allow me to wash your dirty linen in public. I will post your original words and my suggestions in my blog so others can see how it works, then open it up to all of my super-talented crit buddies to pitch in with their suggestions. Best to buy the armour now, really.

If your first two pages have been edited to perfection and there is nothing for me to do, I could look at your query letter, pitch - basically anything that needs an injection of voice.

For more information, take a look at my Voice Coach page.

When I've finished teaching math for the next 2 days, I'll get some examples up of the sort of stuff I mean.

Launch Day for Reprisal

Today is the book launch for the wonderful Thomas A. Knight’s third book Reprisal in his awesome Time Weaver Chronicles. Many hundreds of writers all over the world know this man as Sir Thomas and I have to confess to having a small crush – I’d confess to a much larger one, but I think his wife would not be happy. Nor would my husband L

The thing that makes him so special is his unstinting support to new authors, guiding them through the awful process of writing a pitch and helping in so many other ways. With his ever-growing team of Pitch Doctors (amongst which I am privileged to count myself), he battles through the nightmares of flabby, passive writing and voiceless telling to turn each pitch into a tight, polished marketing tool that will convince readers and judges and literary agents to take a peek inside the book and enter the author’s world. Read about his amazing contribution to good writing at http://thomasaknight.com/

Although I’m supposed to be doing boring school work, I couldn’t resist having a quick look at the first page. 7 pages later, I realised I had to stop now or I would be in trouble tomorrow. The first scene gave me the same kind of collywobbles I got in Lord of the Rings when they faced the Orcs at Helm’s Deep. That same awful terror that has you wanting to hide behind the sofa, but the writing is so compelling, you just have to keep reading to find out how they can possibly overcome such impossible odds. Sir Thomas treats his heroes to the worst kind of trials right from the outset – and then piles on the tension until you really can’t take any more, but dare not turn away in case the inevitable happens … I can see I’m gonna be an emotional wreck, yet again.

Just to tempt you, here are the first couple of paragraphs - now do you see why I'm raving about it?
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Reprisal, Book III of The Time Weaver Chronicles

The bridge over the Algorn Canyon was less than an hour's travel to the west. It meant salvation for Malia Corsair and the exhausted remains of the Findoor militia. Her orders to them were simple: keep running, no matter what. The horde of undead pursuing them didn't sleep. They didn't eat. They ran, and killed, and ran some more. Nearly a thousand soldiers fell to the undead force before the militia realized what was going on. Another thousand fell in the retreat. The fallen rose again, animated by dark magic, and joined the growing undead tide.
“We are almost there,” Malia shouted to her troops between breaths. “Do not stop, do not look back. When you get to the bridge, just keep running, we can hold our ground on the other side.”
She didn't have to look to know her orders would be followed without question.
The hill before them sloped down toward the canyon which stretched from north to south, separating the Kingdoms of Findoor and Caldoor. The bridge spanning the canyon had stood for centuries. It was one of only a few crossings that led into Caldoor. The canyon itself was a long drop into a rocky river, created in some great earthquake thousands of years ago. It was too great a distance to jump, and a fall into the canyon was certain death. ===============================================================
Go and share in the fun: https://www.facebook.com/events/542468632527581/permalink/563495910424853/

You can check out the read-inside at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00IQUOM4G/, or if you've come here from the USA it's http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IQUOM4G/.
You know you want to.

It’s already scaling dizzy heights in bestseller lists.

Have a wonderful day, Sir Thomas,
we are all rooting for you. J

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Who needs sleep anyway?

Me.
After pretty much two months straight of not going to bed much before 2am (and that's on a school night) and regularly hitting the 4/5am mark, the ABNA portal has finally closed. No more fretting away about whether to capitalise internet and second world war, worrying about whether people will get what a pell is if I describe it as an inanimate wooden stake, agonising about the number of that's, amazing's, well's, And's and But's in my MS. And as for the was infestation ... that's another story.
Also, no more staying up chatting to people from all over the world, snarking away at their lack of voice, passive telling and overdone backstory. So, time for bed said Zebedee. Ro need sleep. Night, night peeps.
xxx

Friday, 28 February 2014

35 pages to go ...

This has to be the trickiest part for a writer. That final check before you send your darling off to the latest competition or literary agent or *gasp* to be published.

Despite the fact that I've done it about half a dozen times already, I always read it aloud - every single word, not just the dialogue, to see where I stumble, what snags.
As I write this, there are still 9, 482 words out of 52,315 (about 18%) still to go. Why do I keep stopping to do stuff like write about it? Because it's so-oo hard. That nasty little creature, self-doubt, is doing everything she can to make it even harder, convince me that I have no right thinking anyone would ever want to read my amateur scribblings.

That's where a crit group comes in real handy - people who give their honest reactions to your words. And if a relative stranger says something like:
'I read your excerpt today.  Loved it!  I felt like I was reading something that was part Hunger Games, part Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and part Eragon.  Really charming!'
Well, the teeniest tiniest part of you has to sit a little straighter and think - maybe I can do this after all.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

How much do I love my ABNA buddies?

Like all the way across the pond and back! I feel very privileged to be chatting to so many talented writers all over the world: Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Norway, South America and of course dear old Blighty, but the vast majority are doing their bit to teach me American Geography - every time I meet someone new, I have to go look up where their state is compared to the ones I think I know about. What fun! And lots of them like Journey, so it's all Rockin'.

Keep an eye out for this page - I'm hoping when the gates close to run a little quiz here.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Rory - first Page

Rory coverArcher examined the tiny room for somewhere to conceal his bow and quiver. Under the cot may suffice – no, Julie called it a bed. His new foster mother had instructed him to “hang out” with the other boys when he finished unpacking. Opening the back door, he was half expecting a gallows mob and sure enough, they surrounded him like predators.
‘So, Archer, think you’re Robin Hood, mate?’
‘Yeah, what’s with the bow and arrows?’
‘Most people throw their toys away when they reach puberty.’
‘He obviously thinks he’s still a baby – calls his bed a cot.’
Where I come from, babies sleep in cradles. Archer said nothing. This was familiar territory; he learnt long ago to show no reaction. He knew only one way to deal with bullying, deny the wolves their sport until they got bored or caught the scent of fresh meat.
Their howls followed him into the house where his new foster father, a gruff man called Dave, was staring at a box in the corner of the room. Archer gaped in horror at pictures of a battle with mighty explosions and wounded people.
‘Can we not help those people? They need…’ he tried to fathom how best to treat a leg torn off at the knee and pumping blood.
The image changed to women on a beach as Dave glanced round. ‘Close your mouth son, never seen a woman in a bikini before?’
‘What happened to the wounded men?’
‘Are you for real? They’re in the Middle East. Didn’t they have a TV where you came from?’
‘A TV? Is that what you call the box? How does it work?’
 ‘I don’t know. I’m no electrician.’ Dave’s sigh was evidence of his annoyance. ‘I’m sure it’ll tell you on the internet. Well it would if Peter hadn’t kicked his football at the monitor and smashed it. Try the encyclopaedia. ’ He nodded at a shelf. ‘You can read can’t you?’
Archer smiled as he saw something he could understand. Books. He took the one marked S-U, up to his room and lay on the bed, catching up on several hundred years’ worth of inventions.


Rory Pitch - For ABNA

Sixteen-year-old Archer's medieval village is under threat from a parallel world: modern-day England. His orders are clear. Travel. Investigate. Report back.
His assigned foster home is a nightmare. The other boys strive to break his spirit using his bow - they have no idea they are dealing with a trained warrior. His courage prevails: he teaches them honour, integrity and archery; they teach him how to get in trouble with the authorities. The result is a new foster home where he is faced with a far worse torment. Girls.
Pink-haired Mandy fancies him, but he dislikes her aggression. Twelve-year-old Rory fancies him too, but he protects her like a little sister. When Mandy finds them in his bedroom doing algebra, she threatens to tell. Archer has a choice: submit to her blackmail or get kicked out. Again. She lures him into a gang of teenage shoplifters led by a vicious thug. Rory’s detective skills reveal their scam, but Archer needs every ounce of inner strength to survive when even his friends betray him. Before he can save his village, Archer must save himself.
RORY is a “fish-out-of-water” tale where one teen’s spirit changes the world around him.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Radio 2's 500 words competition

Well, this is my third year as a first round judge for this wonderful competition and this year, I'm taking Chris Evan's advice and going out into schools promoting the competition and running workshops for the children.
The poor teachers don't know what hit them when a cloaked old lady transforms into a wicked witch who picks a hair from one unsuspecting child and casts a spell on the whole class/school.

 There are definitely some askance looks when she turns into the Lady Rowanna, complete with sword and dagger, who revokes the spell and rescues the class.
Having got their attention, they are fascinated by the array of magical objects they can listen to, feel, smell and even lick! Ewww!
A couple of the schools have asked me back for a second session dealing with how to edit their master pieces, not quite as entertaining, but we soon find any excuse to have them up the front practising their acting talents as they deliver the same line in two different ways and the rest of the class has to guess what the tag line might say. Genius.
It's so cool when they show me their stories - there's some real talent out there and I'm privileged to be a part of it.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

This one's a little trickier:

Now I’m getting really tricksy - must be the math teacher in me. Marianna at the wonderful Happy Glastonbury bookshop created this interview of me talking in my (not so) cute British accent. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtCnq1hm5VM

Have a look at the video and answer one of these questions.
Don’t forget to leave a comment so I know you’ve visited.
Q1 What is the name of Hengist’s brother? Vortigern, Horsa, Thanet.

Q2 What type of settlers were they? Viking, Roman, Saxon.

Q3 What animal is on the flag of Kent? White Horse, White Lion, White Elephant.

Have fun - but don't laugh too loud - it was all done in one take with no script.
Cheers
Jacky
 xxx