Posts Tagged ‘ while i slept ’

2016’s Writing Progress

Novels
2016 went quickly and slowly at the same time as I slugged through the editing and rewrites for my fantasy book, While I Slept. By the end of December 2016 I had finished the rewrite based on feedback from beta readers in the summer.

The book is now with a fresh group of beta readers for round two. I’m hoping the changes will be less severe this time around so I can get on with production. I’d really like to get this book out there soon since I’ve been talking about it for years – literally. I don’t want my novel production schedule to turn into a George R R Martin scale of a problem.

On the plus side, I’ve learned a lot about character arcs and story structure during the rewriting process. I feel better prepared to face another novel and the things I’ve learned should help me finish the first draft of the second book with fewer errors. Fingers crossed!

Short Stories
In terms of short stories, this year has gone well. I was invited to submit to two collections edited by Matty-Bob Cash. Both were horror themed.

The first horror collection Death By Chocolate was out in March by KnightWatch Press and centres on the theme of chocolate. Who knows – if you have a weak stomach, it might help you make it through the joys of detox January!

Death By Chocolate Book Cover

If you’re interested, check it out:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2gqhim2
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2hn7Ty0

The second horror collection 12Days Anthology was out in December from Burdizzo Books and all its proceeds go to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. It can also be said to have a loose chocolate theme as the collection had a count down in the form of twelve short stories based on the 12 days of Christmas. One was released each day in the run up to release, from 12 drummers drumming to a partridge in a pear tree. The final collected kindle and paperback editions are bursting at the seams with stories based on Christmas Carols and Songs.

12Days Anthology Book Cover

If you had a difficult holiday season and want to read about someone that likely had a worse time than you (and give to charity at the same time), this is the book for you.
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2hSuMaV
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2jbN8sI

Looking to 2017…
A few projects are in the works for me in 2017. I’ll check in with you once I’m cleared to release details.

Autumn of Editing: While I Slept Editing Progress

Autumn leaves through the sun

I’ve found myself loving the last few months. Autumn always cheers me up. The colour shining through the leaves and collecting on black and brown ground is something to enjoy on the drive to work, and it usually puts me in a creative frame of mind.

I’ve spent the past two months or so focusing on editing While I Slept, my paranormal mystery fantasy novel. It will be the first in a series and I plan to write a few spin-off series within the same world but with minor characters. (Though the spin-offs are likely to be a long way off yet!)

If you’re interested, here’s the updated blurb for While I Slept:

A Rift to the Otherworld has opened in rural Britain and the body count is rising. Arthur, an ancient Fae warrior, is broken from a spell-crafted sleep by Annie, who soon becomes his guide to the modern world. Together, they brave a ruthless enemy with no concept of mercy and a penchant for underhanded tactics. The world is teetering on the edge of supernatural war. Can these clashing cultures broker a deal, or will the Rift-towns become a bloodbath?

The very size of this novel gives you an idea how much there is to do (and long nights of Arkham Horror probably don’t help it get done…).

20151101_220333I’ve been working for hours a night on the current stage of edits and found my table just wasn’t high enough. I improvised with a printer, two board games and a slanted ring-folder. 20151107_142554

Definitely helped with neck and back pain, if not easy access to the printer and de-cluttered tables. That minimalism thing has never been my forte.

On the plus side, I’m 18/30 chapters into the current edit and I plan to work on book 2 from December to March, with the aim of releasing the second book within 6 months of the first. I think I’m going to need a lot of luck!

Stocking Up and NaNoWriMo

DSCN6225 by pippalou on morguefile

It’s been a busy month.

I’ve found some good sites and a few useless ones (always the way to find the good among the bad) and I’ve been stocking up on writing inspiration and good ebooks.

#NaNoWriMo

It’s the month of NaNoWriMo (or national november writing month) for the uninitiated. I decided last minute (at around 7pm on the 1st November) that I was going to join in. This is my profile if you’re interested: Bellalullaby.

The fun of the activity and the support of the writer community drew me in. Plus, I like a challenge. I’d wanted to write Book Two of The Otherworld Series – the book that comes after While I Slept – for around a year now and had been putting it off due to other writing activities I was waiting on. I decided I’d waited long enough.

For those who don’t know, the series is fantasy/crime with a strong sub-plot of romance and takes place in a world where the Fae (all manner of supernatural creatures including but not limited to Giants, Piskies, Donestre and Succubi) Otherworld has reconnected to our own. As their society is one which values violence and power rather than mercy and order, murderers tend to trip over the border into our own modern world. My protagonists Annie and Arthur do their best to deal with these.

I’m currently over 22,000 words in to book two. I had originally decided on the name Salt The Windows but this may well change. I’m not feeling it fits the plot as it’s coming together. I’m hoping for a gem of a title to come up in the writing process.

#StockingUp

In addition to NaNoWriMo, I’ve been stocking up on some good ebooks. This has stemmed from me finding a great site: Bookbub. You can search their site or give them your email address and get lists of discounted ebooks and free ones. You can specify what genres you like and even get a selection sent daily to your inbox.

I must have downloaded 20-30 so far. Course, I haven’t had a chance to read them yet but they should provide good fodder for reviews on here after the madness of NaNoWriMo.

#GoodEditingSite

As the tag would suggest, I’ve also found a great editing site through searching through the sponsors for NaNoWriMo. I would highly recommend Scribophile. The name is a little weird but they do great stuff.

Making an account is free and members can post chapters or short stories up for critique. You post by using up points called karma and you gain these points by critiquing others’ work. In short, it’s a matter of what goes around comes around and, so far, I’ve had some quality comments.

#AllinAll

A good couple of weeks to start out November. I currently have a beautiful Midnight Jasmine Yankee candle burning, an evening of writing behind me and a promising series ahead of me. Any questions or comments, chuck them my way on here or via my twitter (link in my name below) and I’ll get back to you.

Holly Ice

While I Slept – My Novel and Superstition

while i slept novel otherworld fantasy

1383461209nfki7 by archbob on morguefile

I found a book in a local charity shop over the weekend. It was quite a treasure for a writer: “A Pocket Guide to Superstitions” by Steve Roud. It made me think about how I could develop the social culture of the Otherworld in my novel’s final edit.

 

I had been thinking about how to develop and resolve a few issues with the Otherworld because the creatures there can live a very long time and yet have lost all knowledge of where the entrances to our human world are. Perhaps it has been so long they have forgotten the exact location and, as a colleague at work suggested, these portals have become more of a myth, lost to time? After all, most the creatures in this book are not the scholarly, writing type. Most of them tend to die early in power plays, too.

 

Roud’s book, since I started reading it yesterday, has given me a few ideas. He describes superstition being a result of believing luck to be a very real influence on one’s life – both bad and good. I was thinking the creatures in my Otherworld of While I Slept could have superstitions, much more like the old ways of our culture in the UK – refusing to walk under ladders and salting the windows, leaving food out for the fairies…

 
 

Here’s a peek into the Otherworld of While I Slept currently…

 
 

All manner of Fae creatures, from Piskies and Giants to Succubi and cat spirits, live in a world connected to our own (thus, the Otherworld). This world has towns villages and cities just like our own. One of their major trading posts connects to the Cotswolds, UK. The creatures live within a walled city which is full of large, bedouin style tents.

 

They have many strange and magical crafts. They can create fabric which has moving, life-like designs. Fabric which spits like fire when you get close but isn’t hot to touch or fabric which sparkles like a jewel but is soft. They also have a black market after dark where they sell, buy and trade the humans that were left in their world when the rifts to our world closed long ago…

 

These creatures do not have the same morals we do. They have no problems coupling up cross gender or cross species. Their whole culture revolves around power and dominance. Whoever is most violent or scary, generally wins the riches. It is somewhat similar to the courts of Shakespeare, only much more medieval and violence is much closer to the surface, as is sexuality.

 

Half breeds are looked down upon but not by everyone. Only those who feel the need to feel superior and elite. After all, if those half breeds are as strong as their counterparts, they deserve just as much respect. In a weird way the Otherworld is both more and less equal than our own.

 

It is an incredibly fun world to write about. Flinging out the mainstays of our morals and culture has been a blast and I think, after this content edit has been handed over, I’m going to enjoy threading in even more new cultural values and superstitions.

 

It stands to reason, after all, that creatures who live in a world where magical things are real, would have more superstitions and mystical cures (some of which I’m sure would work!) than the rest of us, out here in the bland human world where science is king.

Editing out the Chaff – While I Slept

14108984543z07r by hotblack on morguefile

 

A few days ago I had that magical moment I was looking for.

I found an editor for my fantasy novel While I Slept that’s good at what I’m bad at spotting: plot holes, character inconsistencies, unrealistic reactions…

 

That’s what I always view as a good editor-writer relationship – something complementary rather than complimentary, needlessly critical or hacking.

 

Every writer knows what they want for their manuscript and their style of writing. I didn’t want an editor that would slash away my voice and implant their own style, or someone who would make “improvements” that I viewed as deteriorations. A writer has to be careful whose advice to take with their writing. It is true what is said: not all suggestions are going to improve what you already have.

 

For now, I’m grinning like an idiot and really looking forward to finding out what my editor has got to say about the book as it stands. As someone on the other side of the planet (the USA), she has no reason to say my book is good if it isn’t and has no reason to be scared away from saying something critical.

 

In effect, she will be my first reader who is a complete stranger to myself and that’s exciting. I haven’t experimented in showing my writing to strangers since my early, early attempts at writing on www.fictionpress.com (I was on the site before it split into fan fiction and fiction).

 

I am also getting a brilliant editor at a fraction of the cost a lot of established websites will charge and this way I can ensure I am not getting a package deal but an individual deal, catering to my specific needs. I’m sure there are benefits to the larger companies and they will have a lot of experience but for a book of my length (around 97K words), I’d be looking at £500-£700 which, to me, feels like robbery.

 

I’m happy with my editor and the price we settled for, a fraction of the cost of larger companies but still a decent remuneration for the task at hand. I loved her sample edit and the suggestions she made were very insightful so I only see good things ahead for the edit, and the future of my novel.

 

My next blog post will be focusing a little more on my novel, letting you know a little more about what it’s all about as it has been a long time since I last did a sneak preview. Until then!

 

Holly Ice

1404341641ezt58 by ttronslien on morguefile

The Cliff of “Oh god, I’m not good enough”

SONY DSC

picture by deegolden on morguefile

 

I’d not realised until last night how close I’d been to stepping off the writerly cliff of “but I can’t”.

I have a confession to make: the novel that I finished, While I Slept, the one that I am trying to get an editor to bid on currently, has had a literary outing of sorts. I submitted it to two different agents back in June. Neither of them were mean. One I’d even met beforehand. She quite politely declined the book but it just puts a downer on the whole thing. It makes you think: but if they don’t like it, maybe no one will?

 

I was very quiet about these submissions because I didn’t want people checking back every few weeks and offering me dreaded pity. I wanted to deal with any rejection on my own and without others keeping tabs on response times and helping me get revved up about something which might not work out. Perhaps that was a bad idea, I don’t know.

 

Then last night I read this article. It made me remember what I’ve known all along; writers don’t get lucky overnight. We have to slog and send out dozens if not hundreds of submissions until we find an agent or publisher that wants to take our project on as their own. Professional and even best-selling authors have faced the same problem and had just as many pitfalls as me, if not more. I knew that, but almost forgot it when faced with rejection.

 

I suppose it’s a normal reaction but I realised I need to buck up. I’m going to get this novel edited and get my book sent out to more than two agents. I’ve got a list of eight at the moment that have said they like my genre and I have a similar number of publishers that don’t need an agent to be submitted to.

 

I’m still looking into self-pub options as well – especially into cover artists I really like the look of – but that’s a little ways off for action-ability yet, especially as I’m going to pay out for some objective editing from a stranger who will truly bring fresh, unbiased eyes on my work.

 

 

Here’s hoping it all works out!

Feel free to share your own stories with me on here or on twitter.

 

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 

 

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