Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Editing

There hasn’t been a blog for a few weeks as I’ve been sick, but I’m all better now so let’s continue with something that all writers have to go through. Editing.

There are very few people who enjoy editing their books. Mostly because it means having to switch off the little voice inside your head that says, “No don’t delete that sentence, it’s so funny and clever, why do you hate me? No don’t do it, I… noooooooooo.”

But once you’ve melted your creativity into a large puddle of goo, you need to set about making your story better.

It's a bit like this, but less delicious.

At the moment, I’m preparing Crimes Against Magic to get published in April, and that means editing. Over and over again.

I’m very lucky in that I have a lot of excellent friends who took their time to go through the book with a fine-tooth comb and point out all of my failings. Any plot point which doesn’t make sense, or spelling which looked like it was written by an orang-utan. They’re an excellent group, and they offer some very good suggestions.

To be fair, the orang-utan probably has a better grasp on spelling than I do.

The problem with having a group of people reading your work is that you very quickly realise you can’t please everyone. One person won’t like a prologue, another won’t like a flashback or a fight scene or a whole character. You can’t make your work universally loved. It’s never going to happen. And that’s something you, as a writer, need to realise as quickly as possible. That’s why you should always write the book for you. Write something you want to read. Everyone else is a bonus.

So, once you’ve gotten passed the portions of the book that you don’t want to change, it’s down to the nitty-gritty. Unnecessary sentences, words and grammar that don’t need to be there or are just wrong. No one is going to have a perfect book first time, in fact I’ve been through Crimes Against Magic a number of times and I still pick up the occasional word that shouldn’t be there, or piece of incorrect formatting.

So, now the book is in a way that I’m happy with. But the edits don’t stop. Next I’m going to read it out loud, mostly because you can catch all kinds of problems with it by doing so, especially speech that doesn’t sound right. And when I’ve done that… well, hopefully it’ll be finished for good, although I’m sure I’ll want to check it again, just to make sure.

At some point I’ll have to stop though, otherwise I’m just editing for the sake of it and not actually doing anything productive.  Besides I’ve got book 2 I need to get finished and unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to write itself.

Returned for Batman

Apart from being a fan of anime, videogames and foreign films (all of which I’m sure went towards me getting my wife), I’m also a big comic book fan. “Comics? Why that’s for young whippersnappers and ruffians. Not the stuff a grown man should be partaking with,” some of you will say, in what I’d like to imagine is a stuffy British accent. But, as much as I’d like to go through and explain why those who think like that are wrong, I’d destined myself to not enlightening the masses a long time ago. Anyway, as much as I love comics, two years ago I stopped. Went cold turkey. You see, I’ve always collected Comics, ever since I purchased Uncanny X-men #272 when I was twelve years old (There’s no point explaining what happened in that comic, because I still don’t totally understand the storyline after all these years).

Like any 90s X-men comic, it was full of large breasts, metal body parts, guns that were far too large to be useful and manly poses. It was a simpler time.

From that moment on, I was a Marvel fan and picked up what I could when I could afford it. Then when I reached an age of having a regular income, I picked up a lot on a regular basis. Then two years ago I go so fed up with so much about what was happening in the industry, the constant cross-over’s for the most part, that I just stopped. DC never really got a look in. There’s was a minefield of history that was nigh-on impenetrable and characters I just didn’t care about.  Oh, there were bright points-Flash and JSA by Geoff Johns and Secret Six by Gail Simone, but for the most part very little DC (that doesn’t include Vertigo) made its way onto my regular reading list. So, I was comicless for 2 years. And then I started to hear about DC’s 52. The idea behind it being that all of the regular monthly comics would be cancelled and replaced with all new comics with no history to concern yourselves with. My first look around a comic store after it started led me to five titles, but one really stood out. Batman, written by Scott Snyder, with art by Greg Capullo.

This isn't issue 1's cover, but most people wouldn't know that anyway.

I’m not a huge Batman fan. I’ve always preferred the idea of him to what was actually written. The past five months have changed my mind. #5 came out a few weeks ago, and I think it’s fair to say that Scott Snyder has written something that will stack up as one of the best Batman stories I’ve ever read. It’s creepy, cruel and although I know that somehow Batman must win, I have no idea how. He seems outmatched, outthought and genuinely out of his league. On top of this, #5 contained one of the most impressive pieces storytelling I’ve ever seen (it’s to do with how you read the comic, but I don’t want to spoil it for those who want to read it and haven’t). Scott Snyder also writes the wonderful American Vampire, a book that anyone even slightly interested in Vampires as actual beings of fear should read. He brings that sense of terror at places it in a book about superheroes and the end results are something that more people should witness.

How can you look at that and think it's not creepy?

This is a mainstream superhero comic which genuinely does something compelling. The writing and art have formed a perfect match, and that’s a rare thing these days. So after 2 years without comics, Batman, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo was what brought me back to a medium that has given me so much joy over the years. It’s good to be back.

Crimes Against Magic

As those of you who read my introduction know, I’ll be self-publishing my very first book this year. In fact the publishing date will be in early April.

It’s both exciting and terrifying, rapidly switching from one to the other depending on how often I remember how much work I’ve got to do. Apart from getting the book ready, I’ve got to sort out reviews, marketing and still get book 2 finished, but we’ll talk about that last point at a later date.

For now, here’s some information about the first book – Crimes Against Magic

 

It’s been almost ten years since Nathan Garrett woke on a cold warehouse floor with nothing but a gun, a sword, and no idea of who he was or how he got there. His only clue … a piece of paper with his name on it. Since then, he’s discovered he’s a powerful sorcerer and has used his abilities to work as a thief for hire. But he’s never stopped hunting for his true identity, but those who erased his memory have never stopped hunting for him. When the barrier holding his past captive begins to crumble, Nathan swears to protect a young girl who is key to his enemy’s plans. But with his enemies closing in, and everyone he cares about becoming a target for their wrath, Nathan is forced to choose between the life he’s built for himself and the one buried deep inside him.

Crimes Against Magic is an Urban Fantasy set in modern day London with Historical flashbacks to early fifteenth century France. It’s the first in a series of books called the Hellequin Chronicles, which shows the life of Nathan (Nate) Garrett, a sixteen-hundred year old sorcerer.

In the coming weeks I’ll talk about the various things I’ll be doing to get the book ready to go and unveil the cover once it’s finished. Like I said, both exciting and terrifying.

That’s it for this week, short and sweet. For now I’m off to do more work on book 2 and check the grammar and spelling in Crimes Against Magic. Again.

A Very Special Announcement

I had a nice idea for my first solo post that included telling everyone about my book that will be coming out this year, Crimes Against Magic.  The best laid plans of mice and men, and all that.

I was going to wait for a few weeks to announce this. But seeing how a lot of people seem to already know, I figure I may as well make it official.

My wife and I are going to have our third child, due in early August.

Originally, I was going to wait until the first scan had gone, and then let people know. But, as per usual, that’s flown right out the window. So, to stop the haphazard way in which people find out, I figured telling everyone at once was probably a good idea. And what’s a blog for, if not to put all information in one place.

For those of you who don’t have children, you won’t know the mixture of joy and mortal terror at discovering you’re going to be a father. Well, that’s true of baby 1 anyway. By the time you get to the 3rd, it’s mostly a case of figuring out when I might actually get some sleep again. Short answer. Never.

We don’t know what the sex is yet, but so long as it’s healthy and happy I’m not fussed. Besides my wife and I rock on the baby name front, so we’ve already got some cool names picked out for either eventuality. My eldest daughter wants to call it Harley Quinn if it’s a girl. My wife is not coming round to the idea as much as Keira would like.

So that’s the blog for this week, thanks to everyone who came and looked around or commented last week. You never know, next time I may actually get to talk about writing.

Introduction Part 2

Welcome back to part two of my introduction. If you missed yesterday, go here. I’ll wait.

…..

And now on with my friends asking very poignant questions.

Tammy E. A. Crosby

How long have you been married? How did you and your wife meet? Were you a writer before or after you met?

I’ve been married for just under 6 ½ years now, 7 in September. I met my wife in college and we started seeing each other about 3 years after we left. But that’s another story all together.

I’ve always written, but never considered myself a ‘writer’. That didn’t happen until a few years ago.

Do you ever write stories just for your child/children?

It’s a cop-out answer, but sort of. I usually just tell the story as I’m going, which means it changes every time. But I rarely write them down. I did write my eldest, Keira who’s 7, a letter from the tooth fairy apologising for not putting money under her pillow, which went down a storm. I was quite proud of it.

Danielle LaPaglia

What made you decide to join a writing group?

I remember reading that joining a writing group can help with your writing, so I looked around and as I’m a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s books, I figured that would be a good fit for me. That was about 5 years ago now and I’ve not regretted it one bit. My writing has improved, but more importantly I’ve met some fantastic people, without whom I’d never have gotten this far.

How supportive is your family?

Very supportive. That’s the short answer. The longer one – You know the old adage that your family never tells you the truth? Well, if that’s true, then it’s clear that my family have some sort of personal vendetta against me. My wife is always happy to tell me what does and doesn’t work and what she doesn’t like. That said, she’s always pushed me to do better and when she likes something she does say so.

TJ James

What video game character would you most like to be, and why?

As a bit of a videogame geek, I should probably try to come up with something obscure. But I’d quite like to be the main character from an Elder Scrolls games. Mostly because I could be whatever I pleased, but whatever it was, I’d be a badass.

How are you training your children for World Domination, and Universal Dictatorship?

Well Keira’s well on her way to World Domination through just being far too smart for her own good. I get the feeling my youngest (Faith is almost 2) is a “just likes to watch the world burn” kinda person. If there’s destruction to be had, she’s usually in the middle of it with a big grin on her face. No training required.

Keri Lake

What inspired you to write Crimes Against Magic?

I’ve always been into mythology, magic and things that go bump in the night, so combining them all into one story felt like a natural fit. But I wanted to put my own spin on those old mythological tales. The hard part was trying to figure out what the real story might have been and separating it from the mythology. I figure if they were true, then for some, those tales must have been their version of propaganda. Trying to deconstruct that has hopefully led to some fun re-imagining of famous mythological characters. Basically, I wanted to write a book that I would like to read and it went from there.

Since I’ve had the pleasure of beta reading your MS, I can attest that you do mix history and mythology and weave them into an intriguing storyline.  What kind of research went into writing the pieces that go back to the 1400’s.  Do you find it difficult to transition between the past and present (keeping facts and details accurate)?

Firstly, thank you for the kind words.

When it comes to research, I tried to get the details correct as much as possible. I had to remove a lot of words that came about after that time period, which caused a few headaches. And I needed to check that certain weapons actually existed during that time.

I find it quite easy to jump between the two. I write the notes for the past and present sections separately and then try to figure out where the best places to jump between the two are. I wanted to use the past sections as the place where I can deposit the information about the world and things in it without losing the flow of the present plot. Hopefully that’s been achieved.

And there we have my first two posts. Hopefully, you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’d just like to thank everyone who took part in helping me do something a little different for a first post. Let this be the start of something entertaining.

First Post – Introduction

Hello, and welcome to my very first ever blog post. Which is both terrifying and quite exciting.

What will this blog be about? Mostly, it’ll be about writing and my progress at self-publishing my first book (Crimes Against Magic) in a few months time. But it’ll also be about whatever comes to mind at the time I sit down to write the newest post.

To do something a little different for my first post, I enlisted (or forced/blackmailed, depending on your point of view)  some friends of mine to come up with some interview questions for me. Each of their names will take you to their blog, so please feel free to go there and nose around.

So, let’s get underway.

Michelle Muto

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?

Commander Sir Samuel Vimes of Ankh-Morpork City Watch. He’s a smart, capable, badass and an utterly ruthless bastard. He’s also deeply flawed and went from a drunk who spent most of the time lying in a gutter, to becoming one of the most feared and respected members of the city through sheer ability and determination to get the bad-guy. I could read stories about him, and the watch in general, all day.

Most unique or unusual research you’ve ever done for a book?

There’s two things here. I contacted the fire brigade and asked them how you’d hide a fire so that it didn’t appear to be arson. I got put through to a very nice, if slightly confused, member of their fire investigations unit who (after a lot of explaining on my part) was very kind to walk me through how to do it. Basically if you want to do research, tell them you’re writing a book. You’d be surprised how many weird questions are answered without worry.

The Second was when I got to go the underground, no public allowed areas of the Imperial War Museum in London to look at some 16th century guns. That was a pretty cool day.

D.B. Reynolds

What do you consider to be the major world event of your life thus far, and why?

No hesitation at all – The births of my daughters, Keira and Faith. Both were amazing, although for very different reasons. I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared, concerned, awe inspired, utterly overwhelmed and blissfully happy all at the same time.

Keira’s birth seven years ago gave me the jolt to get serious about my writing.

What are your three (3) favorite books of all time and why?

My favourite books change on a daily basis, sometimes even more often than that. But today:

  Altered Carbon – Richard Morgan: The best Sci-fi book I’ve ever read. Probably the most violent and fun too.

  Men at Arms – Terry Pratchett: I could have picked any of the guards books for this one, but Men at Arms got me into reading Terry Practhett, so it makes the list.

  Preacher – Garth Ennis. Not a novel, but a comic book. Preacher is not the book for people easily offended. It’s about Jesse Custer, a Preacher who is merged with Genesis (the product of merging an angel and a demon) that gives him the power of the Word of God, which makes people obey him. It’s incredible, funny, moving and utterly insane.  It should also be required reading for anything even thinking about writing comics.

Hon Mentions – Usagi Yojimbo. Another comic book. This one about a Samurai Rabbit. Yes, you read that right. All of the characters are anthropomorphic animals, which replace humans in a 17th century Japan setting. It’s a fantastic book that can’t come highly recommended enough from me.

Colin F Barnes

Tell us about the kind of writing you do: what genre, length, topics etc…

I write Urban Fantasy, although I do have a Sci-fi and Epic Fantasy story floating around my head somewhere. I’ve got some ideas for short-stories too. But for the moment, full-length Urban Fantasy is where I’m happily staying.

Do you write in silence or with music? If music, what kind?

Silence normally. I switch off all of background noise when I really start writing, so if the TV/music is on and I concentrate on the writing, I exclude everything else anyway.  If I do listen to music, it’s when I’m trying to figure out a scene and need to have the mood set. So depending on the scene, it depends on the music. Mostly it’ll be things like, Foo Fighters, Black Stone Cherry or Joe Bonamassa.

Angela Addams

When did you first start writing seriously? Like with a mind to pursue publishing?

I wrote a book about four years ago called For Past Sins. That was my first attempt at seriously getting a book done for publishing. In hindsight, it wasn’t good enough and I re-started with Crimes Against Magic.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Books, anime, videogames, TV, films. All over the place, to be honest. I’ll be walking down the street and something will pop into my head, or I’ll be watching TV and I’ll see something I quite like. From there it sort of evolves inside me. Which is a slightly weird now that I think about it.

Susan Mann

What was the hardest scene to write?

In Crimes Against Magic? The first major sex scene was pretty (excuse the pun) hard work. Mostly because getting the tone right in a sex scene is actually quite difficult. Other than that, the first chapter. That went through about a dozen re-writes.

What advice would you give to aspiring and unpublished authors?

Don’t let the bastards get you down.

In all seriousness, learn to take criticism. Not nasty, unnecessary stuff, which doesn’t help at all, I mean real constructive criticism. Personally, joining a good writing group helps, and you’ll learn how to critique others too, which in turn will improve your writing dramatically. But above all, enjoy yourself. Because if you’re not enjoying writing, you’re doing it wrong.

Well that’s it for part one. Yes, part one. Originally it was going to be one long post, but it just got longer and longer. Now, part two will be posted tomorrow. So, check back then to read even more very interesting things about me. Like how I discovered Cold Fusion, or am a spy. Or you know, stuff about writing, whichever sounds more plausible.