Posts Tagged ‘ Holly Ice ’

Changing Surroundings – My Novel – Whilst I Slept

Holly Ice Writer Writing Novel Author Whilst I Slept WIP

Typing in the Altered Dark

(For my musings, read below. For a rough synopsis of the book to come and my concept of what main characters look like, scroll down to the bold text.)

 

It gets to the point with any long-term project where months have passed and something needs to change. I’m at the place in my novel Whilst I Slept where I’m questioning everything.

I’ve questioned the title and the relevance of the “I” with more than one first person POV, I’ve questioned whether my characters are believable, whether the story will sell, whether I should listen to more music as I write…I’ve even questioned whether the LED colour of my keyboard suits this section of my novel.

But I don’t think this is a problem. Many writers will and that is their writing style – awesome. I’m actually beginning to be comfortable with how I write and understand my “vibes” (such a corny word) when I write. 

I can tell that fuzzy, off-focus feeling when I’m inspired, I can feel when a sentence isn’t right, when a word is off but it’ll have to wait for later, and when a character needs something (though it’s much harder to tell what!)

I think a lot of this is down to me being roughly two thirds of the way through my manuscript. At 64K~ things need to heat up, speed up and get good. To do that to the best of my ability, I had to do a first full edit of the first half.

Why? Because I had one of those pesky, insistent vibes that, if I didn’t, the book would go entirely off course and my reward is that, so far, things seem to be coming together. I even got high praise from my little brother and that’s a rare thing.

From now on, I’m listening to my instincts and putting faith in the hope they will make me a better writer. Let me know if you get these “vibes” too. I don’t want to be alone out here!

 

The Book and The Cast

WARNING: this synopsis is a rough first draft, is probably too long, and needs work. Don’t get the knives out yet but feel free to critique it.

Annie Vivant likes to dig up hillsides in her spare time. Only, on this dig, she finds a coffin with a man inside…and he’s still alive. He introduces himself as Arthur but he is no King and, with his awakening, the Otherworld, an adjoined land of dark, fairytale creatures, reconnects to our own.

After so long apart, neither world remembers the other and the old laws of mutual existence are forgotten. Arthur is the only known link to the old ways but he needs Annie’s help to understand the modern world.

After a bout of killings and disappearances from a human world unable to protect itself, their mission becomes clear. It will be a tough battle for them to negotiate an end to the murders when the press want them to be their newest celebrities and the government see them as a security risk. The trick is to not look crazy. 

 Hopefully that wetted your appetite. If not, I’d love to know why – every opinion provides interesting feedback.

In the mean time…enjoy some model photos of what I imagine the main characters to look like:

Annie Vivant: I wanted Annie to have a girl-next-door feel to her and this picture is as close to my mind’s eye view of her as I’ve yet found. The closest I’ve gotten to representing her visually is a Sims 3 character I’ve made, based on my idea of her.

Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author
Arthur: Because of his occupation as a soldier, Arthur is tough, muscular and battle trained but he is also attractive. This is a hard mix to find in model photos. Again, this is the best to date. Just imagine the hair longer and messier: he’s not a vain guy (which is one of the many reasons this photo is not quite right for him). 

Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author

Katrin: As Arthur’s old love, Katrin has a ghostly part to play in most of the first novel but I think later in the planned series, she will be a much larger part of proceedings. She is a politician of the Otherworld, good at negotiations and easy to like – when she wants you to like her. Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author
Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author

Brent: Another half-Giant but Brent is tougher than tough, on the outside. I needed him muscular – built- with a tan from being outside and shaved head. I see him with hacked cut-offs and boots. Apparently, this too is hard to find. I made do with his boots.

Brent, Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author

Farah: Was one of the easiest characters to find a picture for. I have about three that fit her personality.

Farah, Brent, Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, AuthorFarah, Brent, Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, AuthorImage

Keeping appearances consistent

If I haven’t introduced it already then here it is: Charahub

This is a site where you can create an account – for free- which will hold all details of your characters in a database. You can set it to private or public and it asks many questions which have helped me round out my characters without boring myself over laborious character sheets for hours. 

 

Illustrators and Book Covers

I used to be an artist (perhaps I still am, sometimes) but this means I’m picky. I want my cover to be an accurate portrayal of the characters and the story, something I can see within my mind’s eye AND something which will sell for both the fantasy genre and the crime genre.

If you have any recommendations of illustrators or other artists which may be interested in my project or do book covers as commissions, please direct me to their portfolio. Thanks!

 

I hope this piece gets everyone up to date on my writing progress and – if I dare to say it – has got you interested in my novel WIP.

Would love to hear from you.

Holly Ice 

 

I Sci-fi a new Story by Moi – “Looking Landwards” (yeah, yeah, cheesy title, I know but I’m feeling happy, so there)

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It was officially confirmed about a week ago that my story “My Oasis Tower” will be joining 23 other authors in the collection “Looking Landwards“, edited by Ian Whates at Newcon Press and sponsored by the Institution of Agricultural Engineers in celebration of their 75th anniversary. The book is scheduled to be launched at BristolCon in October.

The collection’s sci-fi stories are based on different interpretations of the future of farming. Some of these will be more practical interpretations than mine. My story describes the use of leylines in food production – not the betting man’s future, for sure. This frames the real story of a woman living in a lighthouse-esque environment and having to deal with a machine fault on awakening, only to find far more than machines downstairs.

All stories in this collection are geared towards a reader’s enjoyment, as any other story collection should be, and are not essayish theories on the technical future of farming. I hope that clears up any misunderstandings.

Personally, I am chuffed to be named amongst writers who have already made such a name for themselves and I get my first paid writing job, to boot. Happy bunny: present.

The Sorrow of Putting a Good Book Down

Erin Hart Lake of Sorrows Holly Ice Blog Author Writer Review Reviews Story Stories Novel Novels

Still sitting on my desk and propping up my dinner plate

 

No, it’s not propping up my dinner plate because it is bad. Quite the opposite. It is being used as a temporary balancer because I’m not yet ready to put it back on the bookshelf to gather dust.

This book was a great read from start to finish. There are two murdered victims preserved in peat- a modern and an ancient one but the wounds appear similar. The suspects and suspicious characters mount to a degree I’ve never seen before in novels without reaching unrealistic proportions.

There are secrets within secrets, deceptions, mistruths and many examples of people being used for another’s gain. That’s life. That’s a small village/town.

Erin Hart captures the familiarity of the in club in a small town and extorts this atmosphere to create the environment in which there can be a series of murders and a list of suspects so long I did not guess the killer until the clues had mounted to a point of obvious realisation.

Many authors cannot achieve this and the plot is up within a few chapters. Not this one! It keeps the reader interested and reels them along for over 400 pages of fast paced murder mystery and stewing relationship problems and successes. 

And, above everything, the environment is what sticks with me most about this book. The swampy peat land with its ancient sacredness and old names and history has seeped into my soul in the reading of this novel. I know a lot more, now, about swamps, the celts, and bee keeping and, somehow, it has made me feel more complete.

Definitely a book to add to your memories and not to leave to dust on the bookshelf. 

I give this book a grand 5/5. If I could give it more, I could: not many books cling to the reader like this one. 

A Story About a Shoe

Capture1

This is pretty much what it looks like. On holiday in Latvia, on two occasions, I saw a shoe bereft of its partner. In both cases, these shoes were heels and left standing as if someone walked right out of them. Any girl should know this is odd: even really drunk, there is a rather large discrepancy between a heeled foot and an unheeled foot.

My father and I actually stared at this shoe for a good ten minutes, wondering what could have happened to the owner and one of these musings got me an idea for a story to submit to the hgwells festival competition for 2013. I started the story yesterday and intend to finish up the last little bits today.

Goes to show: inspiration is anywhere and within the most unlikely of objects.

If you have a weird event that inspired a story, let me know! Let’s see how weird it gets.

Hope all are well.

Holly Ice

Procrastination, Snot and Writing

 

pollen hayfever holly ice writing writer author

It’s about time I updated you all about my own writing. So far this summer I have one short story provisionally accepted, two rejected and two still waiting on replies. In addition, one poem has been accepted for publication this summer. I also have 2-3 stories I still need to polish and find a home for.

I’m not sure if this is good or bad for a writer – is a 25% success rate good, average, bad? I’m sure you all can share your experiences and let me know. Rejection is always hard but the major problem for me is confidence.

Yes, I’ve had things published, a number now actually, but so what? Many people get things published and are never heard of or are, in literary circles, a joke.

I shouldn’t care about that, I know. I should get on with my creative vision and love the lives I create but sometimes it gets to me. Encouragement and determination are what gets a book written and, I will admit, I have been procrastinating.

I have had god awful hayfever and often it has stopped me from sleeping – the blocked and running nose kind, the prequel to the you-will-never-breathe-again worry. It has made me miserable down to my toes and up to my very foggy head. It felt like I was on lag for weeks.

Thankfully the doctor has prescribed some steroid-based nasal spray and stronger anti-histamines. So far, much better. Here’s hoping to clearer thoughts, and noses!

The reprieve has given me some motivation, enough to finish writing a story for Almond Press’ new anthology ‘After the Fall‘. I have a holiday to go on next week (Latvia here I come) and after that it’s time to delve back into the novel, for better or worse.

As most writers, I just have to give myself one big dose of ‘you aren’t that bad’ and get on with it.

Good luck to the rest of you in my position!

See you all in a week.

Holly Ice

Debra Dunbar’s The Imp Series: Finally, a new author to bookmark

Debra Dunbar author Imp Series A Demon Bound Elven Blood Satan's Sword

Yesterday I finished reading the third book of the Imp series by Debra Dunbar. This woman happens to be a follower of mine and I reciprocate. Day before yesterday I tried reading one of her books, and they rock.

I have been looking for a long, long time for an author to come close to Laurell K Hamilton and Debra Dunbar does it. She has a strong female lead, a new, demonic world (within the modern human world) and some great characters – and plot. Plus it is realistic.

Realistic fantasy fiction is lacking in today’s world of fiction. Too many authors think they can slack on characterisation or realism or plot simply because the book takes place in a different reality. This is certainly not a failing here!

Other than the odd typo, I cannot find anything I dislike with these books and that is saying something – I am picky.

The lead character Samantha is a demon, an imp. She cuts tyres and causes mischief for the hell of it which is great but she is also involved in the demon underworld and is soon contacted by an angel. And this angel wants to kill her.

Not what you were expecting, right?

All these elements can sound a little overwhelming when thrown together but the world Dunbar creates works. It has rules, sense, and some great dialogue (not to mention humour).

A succubus house visit can be a little awkward when your boyfriend is over…

Which reminds me: there is sex in this and it is described but it is not too explicit (but then, I’m not squeamish).

I will be buying more of these books and I hope to any powers that be that more are coming (I’ll certainly be nagging her for more – she had me giggling in my chair and rooted to the screen). I have no doubt that Dunbar will go on to have a very successful career in fantasy fiction.

As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve found one of those gems I’ve been hankering after for a while. As a result of Debra’s accurate observation of human behaviour and the awkward situations that get me laughing, this series gets a big, round 5/5 from me.

It can be bought here…

Book 1 (US UK)

Book 2 (US UK)

Book 3 (US UK)

Have a great day everyone!

Slate Ahn and the Books of Knowledge: Part I, Graham M Irwin. A fantasy epic with pirates, wolves, shipwrecks AND political corruption

Graham M Irwin Holly Ice Review Slate Ahn Books of Knowledge Legend of Alm

I was gifted this book free of charge on a read for review policy.

Graham Irwin knows how to create a wondrous world full of raspberry coloured bumble bees and exotic plants or wolves which decide to bond to individuals of good merit. He creates habitats and environment as well as original culture.

Of course, world creation is a huge part of fantasy and his achievement here does a lot to ingratiate himself with a fantasy audience. I must also say that the illustrator for the cover did a beautiful job.

Holly Ice blogHowever there are still issues with his writing, particularly in the prologue.

There is a lot of unnecessary description of the Ahn family and their daily lives that adds nothing to the plot; this is things like what they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and how they act year round. This back story is not necessary to the novel.

In fact, I believe the prologue could be cut significantly. It could do with opening on page 8 with ‘The tradition bound people of the village observed in the workings of the universe an order…’ This chimes in with the ideology of the villagers and within a paragraph the narrative focuses on the Ahn family. It also gets all the major tradition issues in without the boring parts of what they eat for breakfast. Plus, it is a catchier first sentence (and the major tension of the opening is introduced within a few paragraphs!)

This would also get around the fact that Ahn, Alleste and Aelioanei are introduced close together at the original opening. 3 unfamiliar A words that close together just makes my head spin! In fact, place names beginning with any other letter would be a favour: even the world is called Alm! (I was glad that the western half of the island had place names beginning with other letters and wonder if there is a rational reason behind all the A names or it was just coincidental).

The poetic introduction before the prologue is beautiful. I would only change one like: substance bore distinction to nothingness. There are too many long words here which confuses the complex concept the poem is aiming for.

There is also a tendency towards the beginning of the novel for long, convoluted sentences. However this soon evens out as the narrative continues and the action becomes much more immediate.

Characters are mostly realistic, if a little wacky (but this is allowed in a different culture with different morals and values). I only noticed one seeming slip from the alternate world of Alm in the narrative. This is where a character said ‘such and such a city’ which hit me as a little gossipy in tone and too modern a phrase compared to the rest of the narrative. I also noticed one ‘YOUR wife’ which would be better expressed as ‘your wife’ even if it is bellowed.

However these are mostly small sentence-level problems. My major problem with the book was that it lost its direction. The protagonist began by needing to find his family and, about a third of the way into the book, he finds the reason for their disappearance. However, instead of immediately trying to find them he loses focus and goes to school for a year, seemingly for no reason.

From here, political corruption, mercenaries, imprisonment, pirates, shipwreck, fishing and many hikes through endless (and different coloured) forests ensues. I cannot fault the author on his world building here. In fact, I felt the fishing and boat details as well as the multitude of forest habitats were very well researched. Even the stimulants created seemed realistic and well-integrated into the society. My problem with this is that there is no focus.

Holly Ice blog Graham Irwin Slate Ahn

The core thread of the novel was the boy trying to find his family. This is lost and put on hold. At this point, there is no core reason for me to keep reading. I want to know about the boy and his family, not a random thread of events. I feel that the author has tried to fit too many fantasy adventures into the book without connecting them to the main thread of the novel. Even by the end of the novel, the boy has still not found one single member of his family!

So yes, I grew frustrated with this book plot-wise but this does not lessen Irwin’s world building prowess. If you like books that meander through a new, colourful world and are content to read on despite a long-winded approach to plot goals then this book will be a good read.

The sea is bubbling with new hollow jaws, the floors are writing with white grubs that crawl in the dark and the forests hide wolves that can be friends for life. It is, in essence, an open sandbox to a new, bright world.

I give ‘Slate Ahn and The Books of Knowledge Part I’ a robust 3/5.

If you would like to give it a go for yourself, The Legend of Alm, Slate Ahn and The Books of Knowledge Part I can be found on Amazon (UK link and US link)

As always, I can be found on twitter: Holly Ice

A Touch of Magic – M. Ruth Myers – Cards, Romance, Murder

A Touch of Magic, M. Ruth Myers, Holly Ice Review, author, book, romance, murder, cardsA dazzling sleight-of-hand artist is recruited by the State Department to pit her skills – and wits – against a master terrorist. He’s about to receive a piece of stolen film used to make US passports, film that could open the door to terrorists around the world. Although Channing Stuart is the fourth generation in a family of acclaimed magicians, she’s the first of them not to turn pro. Eye-to-eye with a killer, will she have the nerve and nimbleness to pull off a switch that finally proves her worthy of her bloodline? Special agent Bill Ellery is irritated to find himself suddenly teamed with this amateur whose passion to succeed is as great as his own, and whose penchant for the unpredictable unsettles him as much as the woman herself.

In an upscale resort where every enticement hides a trap, they play cat and mouse with enemies known and unknown as a time bomb ticks. Hundreds of lives depend on the deftness of one woman’s fingers and … A TOUCH OF MAGIC.

This was a good read. It had romance, intrigue, some cool magic tricks, family angst and some great characters. The plot was also good although I think the female villain could have done with a little more filling out.

There was nothing overall wrong with the story really and yet I still felt it was missing something. I was not left with much after reading it and I think I should have been. Some thought or feeling should have remained: it usually does with a great book.

Perhaps I wanted more of a conclusion on the romantic side, something cuter, or perhaps I wanted to know what happened with the terrorists – whether good triumphed once and for all.

Of course, this could well be the point. I myself am a lover of grey, where the realistic side of the world creeps into books: the villain doesn’t always lose and the good guy doesn’t win every battle; not everything is solved in one book.

There were some surprises and great twists as well as sleuth work, time-focused problems and murder, all trademarks of a good thriller.

Ultimately, the book kept me interested despite me wanting some undefinable more out of it. Since I can’t define this, despite trying, I’m giving the book a 4/5.

This seems to be a rather popular score for me at the moment!

The book can be found here

Here’s hoping I find a 5/5 soon. Suggestions welcome.

My twitter: Holly Ice

Off to read some more now 🙂

The Lost Dragon – Drako – The Last Spartan Warrior

The Lost Dragon Drako Read Review Holly Ice Author

I was gifted this book on a read for review arrangement

This book surprised me. At first I thought it was going to be a “very boy” action packed fight ’em up. Then I learnt the protagonist was gay. That was a direction I was not expecting and it kept me reading!

The main character, Andreas, is a black dragon god decendant. His father, Jarel, is the black dragon god who holds as much, if not more, power than Zeus, the leader of Olympus. The story follows the action as subordinate gods and “rogues” (those who defy the rules of the gods) try to bring back an ancient power.

It is good to see books which have a twist not usual in their genre and that is what captured me, at first, with this book. However, I have to be honest and mention its faults as well as its great points.

Good Points

Originality – the content of the story does a lot to bring action fantasy out of its stale niche.

Characterisation – almost all characters are well rounded and feel realistic.

Plot – the plot flows really well, obviously crafted with a good hand for structure. It is also original, new, and kept me reading to see what happened next.

Ending – the ending set up for another book and still managed to keep most ends tied up. I myself have trouble with endings so I have to give props where props are due here.

The Discussion

The cover, for instance, would not have made me pick the book up. I understand there is an illustrator etc but it is not my style of art and the picture is not perfectly centred on the background. The writing however is appropriate for genre and looks good.

On to the intro: the protagonist is fighting for Sparta before the main time line of the story in the modern age. The plot idea here is great but this first scene needs tidying up. Words are repeated in the first scene (‘thought’ twice in the first 3 sentences – ‘slash’ is also used as a verb twice on the first page).

This is, of course, looking at the text on a micro level but these repetitions do get noticed by a reader and it makes the narrative seem clunky. There is also a little bit of over exposition here.

However, to the good points: this problem seems to disappear for the most part after the first scene. My advice would be for the author to read over this scene and double check they are happy with it. Perhaps it would read better from Andreas’ POV as a memory? This would give us greater insight into the character early on.

Narrative issues later in the story are much more minor and sparse. I think I saw one ‘site’ instead of ‘sight’ and on one page an ‘is’ was missing from a sentence etc – nothing huge at all.

The only big problem later on is the lack of description for Solaris and Cassandra. Solaris is not described beyond cliffs and big halls. It needs colour to the landscape as well as the gods and others inhabiting it.

Meanwhile Cassandra falls flat for me. All the other characters are well rounded with great characterisation and very original (more good points) but Cassandra accepts things too easily. She is pulled this way and that with no argument at all. Even for a healer, this goes too far for a woman’s personality imo, especially as she is not a mopy young pacifist.

The transition into her “new form” (trying for no spoilers here) also needs better handling. She grows but not much about her appearance or carriage is mentioned otherwise. It also seems as if her personality changes substantially. This character, I feel, needs more time devoted to her.

As a minor point, Jarel sees her as a love interest for Andreas even though he already knows why this romance cannot happen – perhaps this love interest idea should be played down, more implied than real or made more cryptic as a red herring.

The last problem I have is the fight scenes. Mostly, there are, as other reviewers have suggested, descriptive and original. However in a few places I noticed the same area of the body was hit repeatedly and yet the narrative did not say ‘again’ or imply this is recognised. A couple of times the kicks or punches seems infeasible in the positions I was lead to believe the characters were in. Also a few times different characters got hit in the same place, and way, close together. This just needs straightening out a little. Also, I feel these fights could benefit from shorter sentences rather than convoluted ones as sometimes I started to lose interest and fall out of the action.

Although I have to say that these scenes are much more original in flips and moves and injuries than I can think of on the spot so congrats to the author for that.

Considering the good points and the discussion points, as well as my definite enjoyment for the read, I have to give this book a 4/5.

It is well structured and paced with mostly great characters and very original content. This trumps the few minor slip ups as well as the need to re-evaluate Cassandra’s persona as the novel is still very readable as is.

The book can be found on amazon here: The Lost Dragon, Drako should you wish to read it.

As always, I can be found on twitter: Holly Ice

I hope you liked the review. Any suggestions or additions/disagreement with what I’ve said then please comment below. Ciao!

The Perfect Writing Retreat

love books i pinterest I author den writing author's

We all need a little down time now and again. Since I’m between finishing books, this seemed like a good time for a fun post. I’m sure many writers, including myself, have dreamed about the perfect place to write. I’m working on getting it right.

So far I have two ideas. Either a castle home with a secret doorway behind a bookcase – this then leads to a keypad which opens another door with my comfy lair orrrr something like a treehouse with electricity, no leaks, carpet, furniture, internet, and the sound of rain on the roof in bad weather. Both are appropriate for me :).

Of course, being a student in the rather ugly city of Stoke, I have neither of these. I’ve made do with a collection of what-could-bes. Here’s a couple of my favourites:

author's den writing retreattreehouse tree house writing den author's retreatmagical writing retreat writer's author's den tree house treehouse tree-house wendy beautiful

I hope these give you some ideas for where you would most love to write (and doesn’t cause you to procrastinate too much). Of course, writing can happen almost anywhere (at least it can for those of us who don’t mind too much noise/run around with headphones and a music player).

As always, I’m on twitter: Holly Ice
And more of the pictures I like can be found here

Have a great day and feel free to share your ideas below!

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