Posts Tagged ‘ write ’

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

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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

But A Dream – Jenny Gill – No Sleep for Me

But A Dream Jenny Gill Amazon Kindle

Well, this is another book that kept me up all night reading it.

I think the premise is what got me interested. It focuses on cellular memory. A woman that got a heart transplant begins to have dreams which make her a witness her donor’s murder.

Of course, this is an area I’m sure many authors have played around with before but the actual witnessing of a murder and the need to do something about it presents a problem. Who would believe her? How could they do anything about it? Etc.

The handling of this topic by the writer was done in an interesting style. Time moves back and forward, mostly at the beginning, to good effect. It feels (in atmosphere) something like investigative books of old – Carmilla, Dracula or Return of the Screw. This isn’t to say it’s old fashioned or boring – it just makes great use of the group investigative method and common sense. It’s welcome and different in a modern book.

The dialogue was very realistic, as were interactions with the children. The only exception to this was perhaps Richard, the protagonist’s husband. He was too soppy in my opinion and tended to repeat himself like an old record. He lacked personality in comparison to every other, fully rounded, character.

I also feel the multitude of people that needed to be filled in about the case was not only a problem for the protagonist, as  stated in the book, but for the author. There was a lot of worry over who should hear what and when. I think this would have gone smoother if the author had accepted there were that many characters and perhaps let some conflict happen over individuals not being kept up to date.

There were also a number of problems in the early pages: a missing comma, commas instead of colons, an abundance of unnecessary adverbs… At this point I think the author needs to read a sentence, taking out the adverb. If it works that way, leave it out. I say this because the imagery in the novel was very good. The adverbs only spoilt this good work.

There was also a slight clunkiness with the ‘he thought’s at the beginning. This could work better, and be more mysterious at the start, if the tags were left out.

However, all that said and done, the writing improved within a small number of pages and the grammar was generally of good standard. The story got me hooked and took me on a fun ride to its conclusion. I would recommend this as a shorter read to others. I think it took me about 2 hours or so to read. It is a book for adults and older teenagers, in my opinion.

And for the rating: 4/5 .
Good book for a summer read. Give it a go 🙂

I found the book through E Reader News , a site which collects daily some of the ‘bargain buys’ and free books on kindle. It also gives blurbs and a cover image to help you decide if you want to read them :).

From the looks of things, Jenny Gill is a self published author. She has two blogs: here and here if you would like to get to know her.

As always, yours truly is on twitter: Holly Ice

Alyson Noel – Blue Moon Night Time Reading

Blue Moon Alyson Noel Review

‘Things have changed for Ever since she fell in love with Damen. But just as her powers are increasing, Damen seems to be weakening. Panicked at the thought of losing him, Ever finds a path to the in-between world of Summerland, where she learns the secrets of Damen’s tortured past  – and accidentally discovers a way to twist time. Now she can save her family from the accident that killed them. It’s all she ever wanted – but so is Damen. And Ever must choose between them…’

One of the books I picked up charity shop shopping. Only, I’d read it before…
Turns out it’s part of a series that I started reading a year or so ago but never finished.

I think the truth of it is the book is just a bit young for me. (I’m currently 21 for guidance here). It’s aimed at high schoolers or younger teenagers, probably those with a penchant for everlasting romance. Admittedly, I’m a closet romantic but this was too much for me.

In realistic terms, Ever is too young for her 600 year old counterpart Damen. Also, the name Damen has been swinging around in vampire and immortal circles for what seems like forever (or 600 years as the date he is attached to – heehee).

Having said that, the book is well written. It has good imagery and pacing. It also defied my expectations as I have a good memory; usually I find I can’t  reread a book within 5 years of reading it. This one I could. I still knew the general plot but it was still enjoyable. For that, I give it a lot of credit.

I think the book had space, if Ever was older, to play with the darker side of their connection in a cross-time romance such as the film Beautiful Creatures (that I’ve just watched and raved about). But, this isn’t what the author has aimed for.

So, for a young adult read (or teenage read really since I feel I’m too old for it) I’d give this…4/5.

For an adult read, maybe 2.5/5

Take my comments as you will.

As always, I’m also on twitter.

Holly Ice

Peek into my World, my Words…

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My workstation – Ethereal beauty to get the story moving…
And some clutter, because that’s what my head is like…and I hate cleaning.

Quite a few of you will have clocked on to the fact I’m writing a novel by now- I’ve talked about word counts enough in my twitter feed and even on facebook. I’m two and a half weeks in and toying with the title ‘While I Slept’.

This is a peek into my creation with a few snippets. I’ll try to keep major spoilers at bay (in case you ever actually want to read the thing once I’m done tinkering with it).

A Blurb of Sorts…

Annie Vivant’s hobby is archaeology and, one sunny day of digging, she finds and awakens Arthur. Arthur is not the King of modern legend but the unparalleled warrior of older myth who defends the United Kingdom from the Otherworld – a land of redcaps, piskies, dev and all the other impossibles that don’t get along. After a series of bloody murders, Arthur realises why he has been awoken and must traverse Otherworld politics where no one is to be trusted for nothing. All the while, his old, blonde love, Katrin, plagues his mind.

A Side Note:

There’s space for comedy as well as crime and fantasy in this novel. Arthur does not understand technology, the world of today, and Annie has no clue how the Otherworld functions. The results are sometimes entertaining and sometimes disastrous.

Enjoy your three rifts into my novel below!

A Few Mini Extracts:

The coffin creaked behind her as soil from its top fell away, scuttling down the hill. She couldn’t just leave it. It was the next big find, the first English mummy or a serial killer’s personal graveyard. She considered it: ‘Artie’, no last name, date, anything. Who was he? A pet or human? Was he buried with treasure? A diary? She sniggered – a spell book maybe?

She had to know.

She clicked something on a long, light stick I’d explored the previous night. A screen on the other side of the room flickered and brought light into the room. She had told me it was a remote. I learned to leave it to her: all the pressy bits and symbols meant nothing to me. When I tried, all I got was a black and white fuzz and an annoying buzz.

Moving pictures and people opened and closed their mouths. Sound came out of the box. She’d assured me it was normal and relegated my sword to her room when I’d tried to attack it. Still, it was weird, unnatural. The TV, as she called it, droned on. It appeared to be some sort of update or news.

I smiled but poked her side to make her calm down: this was serious. ‘There must be something that’s happened. Some big nationwide event or war or battle…’ I thought about the clash of swords and arc of blood, rich on grass and trampled underfoot. ‘Even a little skirmish?’ I missed a good skirmish, a punch to the face and a cold bag of water over an eye. It hurt, sure, but it was a great way to settle who was the better fighter.

‘Don’t think so. America is trigger happy as always but that’s nothing new. There’s been a few wars. You missed the two big ones.’ She grinned as if sharing a private joke with the air. ‘Surprised you didn’t wake up for those, actually…. Anyway, yeah, there’s nothing big.’

I ignored the mention of triggers. I assumed it was some new club or metal that could flip down in some way and cause more damage from the swing. Maybe that was why these people looked so weak in comparison to the old days. They might not need the muscle. 

And Some Teasers:

11225_large arabian_nighjts_large_wedding_tentdonestre_sketch

While you try (or give up) wondering what those three add up to, I will be writing more. Hopefully I have captivated a few of you and if not, well, there’s more to write yet. Including some more battle scenes!

I hope you enjoyed the peek into my world. 17,287 words and counting.

Happy writing!
Let me know about your projects or mine if there’s anything you have enjoyed or hated here.

Signing out,

Holly Ice – just another author like the rest of you. 🙂

Frustration – We Create Our Own Enemies

It’s when you sit and stare at the stupid blinking cursor that you know something is wrong. I had this the other day and the screen just didn’t help. Games helped my mood but, of course, not my writing. I’m looking at you, TERA.

In the end I got some inspiration late at night/early morning and wrote what I came up with down on paper. It helped a lot. Sometimes I find changing medium is the most useful thing you can do to force your mind to work.

I mean, this is my room before a night out:

DSC05493

It’s pretty much what my head looks like when I try to get ideas together in my head. Like the clothes into an outfit, sometimes things just don’t work. The tights are the wrong colour, the top too baggy, the trousers too hot, too tight.

It’s the same when I write. In the end, I give up and think of a first sentence, something that will (hopefully) draw people in. The story I’m writing at the moment begins ‘Planes are just like buses, after a while’.

Image

For me, this gave me the character, the voice, needed to blindly stumble through the next plot points. It works for me because I’ve found I just can’t make more than two/three decisions in my mind. It’s like playing chess more than three moves ahead. My mind blanks – there’s far too many things that can happen in that time. Characters are not obedient little puppets; they are your opponent, sat across from you and planning your downfall.

Little diabolical, but that’s how I see it. Each start to a story and each completed story is a victory for me against the character that doesn’t want to be written and that cursor.

Who ever said writers are pacifists? We hurt characters and give them problems. We are Gods of our worlds and hardly very kind ones. I suppose it’s no wonder they fight back.

The Writing Update

So, after all that, I’m glad to say I have one story freshly sent off to an anthology – Alchemy Press’ Urban Mythic

and another which I’ve started for their Astrologica collection. (There’s still two weeks to enter this – closes 14th April at midnight PST). It comprises stories based/inspired by the star signs with added fantasy elements. Check it out.

Definitely not all bad. Wish me luck!

And my twitter 🙂

Signing out,

Holly Ice

Are You Afraid of The Dark?

are-you-afraid-of-the-dark

If you’re a 90’s kid like me you probably remember the TV show ‘Are You Afraid of The Dark?’ with a few smiles. This is because it had great episodes (that were a lot scarier than goosebumps).

So, what makes a good ghost story?

ghost-with-a-bed-sheetSigmund Freud

  1. Good characters. No joke. The creepiness isn’t everything here. People need a reason to be scared and a reason to open that door that really shouldn’t be opened. Are they curious? Heard a cry for help? Fell?
  2. Which brings me onto my next point. Be original. None of those white sheet ghosts that go ‘ooooh’ or pictures with literal moving eyes. Think of something new. Jaded ideas are hardly going to scare, are they?
  3. A great way of coming up with genuinely scary and original ideas is by delving into childhood – things like clowns, bikes, tunes, whistling. Have a read of that old guy up there you might not recognise: Sigmund Freud. For those who know how hard he can be to read: his work on ‘The Uncanny’ establishes how something familiar can be defamiliarised in order to get an uncanny and sometimes scary effect.
  4. The Unknown. Yes, that works as a sentence by itself. The unknown is what humanity has always been afraid of (or most of it anyway) the unexplained and unscientific, unspecified stuff that just happens. The bumps, cries, and out of place. This is the stuff fear is made of.
  5. Something that sticks with the reader after the story. This is usually something original but it can simply be unexpected, too. Maybe the protagonist is the new haunter. Maybe no one dies (I know, shocking, shocking). This can also be a message or moral hidden in the plot. Don’t be obvious though! (Readers usually hate morals being shoved down their throats!)

Tips

scaryWriting2-300x198

  1. Get your hands on some books. Have a look on play, ebay and amazon and don’t be afraid to buy used books, either. There are some great ones out there on the supernatural, paranormal and the unknown. Have a mooch around and pick and choose your favourites for stories.
  2. Read some other fiction. Other writers get things right sometimes, too. Learn from them.
  3. Get a friend to read your story through. Does it scare them? Where do they get bored? (This is where you need to tighten things up). Is there anything they skip? (Same problem).  This, of course, is good practise for all stories.
  4. Does it scare you? It may sound silly. I never thought I’d be scared by something as I wrote it but it happened with the ghost story I wrote last month so keep an eye out for it.
  5. And finally, have some fun! Not everyone gets to write ghost stories in their spare time! Channel the spirit of a bonfire in the woods with marshmallows, some shadows, a chill and a good scare.

Let me know if you get really into something or if you knock up any good books or stories in your research!

Again, as always: Holly Ice’s Twitter and Holly’s Publishing Credits Page

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