Distractions of “real life”

As a blogger I can only offer my sincerest apologies for the lack of content this week. To say it has been hectic would be somewhat of an understatement as I have been bogged down with non-book life, mainly DIY, work and gym time. All of which are my necessities which means I haven’t had much chance to sprawl myself onto the white screen of my Word program.

That being said though the story still continues to develop. I’ve got the first part pretty much squared away in my head and will HOPEFULLY have a full draft of “Part I – Conspiracy” by the end of May if not before. From there I need a full class brainstorming session to flesh out the base idea that forms “Part II – Return”. I know exactly what the function is of this part and it plays an integral part of growing Jack based on his past and new experiences.

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I saw this as a gym mantra but reading it again now fits to my writing too! Hell it’d be nice if I saw The Rock one day reading my book!

Some people have criticised and questioned the method behind the story of Footprints but for me there is no need to justify the story.I have offered a story that operates on various levels and if people don’t like this type of story telling then I have learned that I cannot please all but those who do take the chance to read what I write can form their own opinions. Yes some will like, some will love and some will not. I cannot please everyone and in the end we all start somewhere!

To that end it is really a quick blog to say I AM STILL HERE and I haven’t forgotten you all that take the time out of your days to check in and see what I’ve been doing towards getting Jack James as an established and loved character who has an interesting story to tell and be read!



Sorting the mess, order from chaos?

Well after another stalled attempt to tap out the chapter on the laptop I have decided to leave the writing aspect be until I know unequivocally I will be able to take the flow onto the page as I want to. That said today was too goof a day to miss the opportunity to do something for the story so I have spent two hours this morning rather anally going through an idea-chart sheet which has helped me structure how the story is developing in my head.

I’ve carefully gone through where I am at the minute in the story, which is Part I Conspiracy. I had planned to do the whole book in a very basic format however it has taken me this long just to get Part I of Whispering Shadows down on the two sheets on the image below.

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Of course I can’t be to kind and show you everything on the page as “spoilering” my own story would be a very silly thing to do. But this method of idea storming may give you an insight into what I am trying to do.

So in explanation – the large sheet represents the events of Part I. The different colours represent different characters (the most important being Jack James in Blue). The other names you may be able to see, if not, rest assured there are both new and familiar faces from the story set within Footprints. The lines obviously show the interconnections between events and characters and how they will ultimately come together, or not as the case may be, but it all centres for Part I on a single event.

Sheet two, the smaller of the pair, represents my Syndicus chart. This is me getting my head around the idea of Syndicus as the organisation behind the story-arc that will continue between Footprints and Whispering Shadows (and perhaps beyond). I have a clear idea in my head what this organisation represents but it is difficult to see how it all works. By jotting it down on a massive blank sheet like I have lets me physically see what I am trying to do with the characters and events.

For every person/organisation I have jotted down some key elements that will act to remind me of where I am going when I come back to these sheets in a few months. I have listed DRIVING FORCES for each character (these are their frames of mind and personality traits that affect their interactions and behaviours in the story). I’ve given myself some CHARACTER CUES which act to remind me what they look like and who they really are. I’ve then begun to map out the events and connect the dots as it were to see who meets who, who doesn’t meet who and ultimately WHY and what it will offer the story.

I suppose what I’m sharing is trying to put some order to the chaos that is my head. I think one thing that is stumbling me at the moment is the fact I have so many ideas rolling around that I can’t differentiate the ideas from the plot which is difficult then to formulate the story on the page. Hopefully by buying a new pack of felt-tip pens (washable to when my daughter decides to draw on me and herself we can was it off before mummy gets home) I have done a little to alleviate the muddled mess up in the old cranium.

If nothing else I have become a multi-coloured author covered in scribbles and circles both by me and my over-zealous two year-old (well she will be next month). What better way to ensure there’s fun in every aspect of this process than joining in with the little ones!

Ideas, stalling, pouring and receiving

Well it has been an interesting week all the same but nothing much in the way of writing has been done. I have tried to work through more of the story but tiredness from work has really taken its toll this week and resulted in a stalled process so I did what I could and left it when the going became counter productive.

I have also received a somewhat negative review but reading through their comments and have taken it constructively. Yes indeed I am fully aware that my story may not be for everyone and I indeed class myself as no literary graduate so my grasp of English as a structured written language is normal at best. But that said I can still live in the knowledge that people are still reading Footprints and sales still continue which again offers encouragement to me.

It is nice to see different points of view and fully accept and appreciate that people will have different points of view and some will like what I have to offer and others will not. It’s nice to know though that people are still reading and in doing so no matter what they have spent the time entering my creative world from start to finish.

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On the other side of the coin I have had an absolute nightmare this week trying to upload the latest edits so the versions for sale represent the changes I want to offer the best story I am personally able to put out there. I am fully aware I haven’t the skills of a professional editor and still live in hope that one day a major publishing house will one day see my potential and held put the perfecting touches to my work. Until then I have put every effort to make it the very best I can as I appreciate that a poorly finished product does nothing to reflect well on me as the author and seems disrespectful to the readers.

So really it’s a little of a justifying post but also an appreciation at people taking the time to offer me feedback and also for them having invested their time reading what I have to offer.

The journey will indeed continue and I am indeed going to carry on. In the end there’s so much more with the story I wish to tell and Jack’s journey has further to go yet!

Doubting but 1/5 done?

I’ve done a little word count today having finally completed Chapter 9 v1.0 and including those I’ve done for Part 2 – Return we’ve got 23,000+ words which represents about a fifth of the total I expect for this story. It was interesting having a scan through like this as I have, this week, had my “I don;t think I’m making progress” and falling out of love with it kind of feeling.

It’s a turbulent affair and when things don’t flow for a couple of days it is very easy to slip into the world of self doubt. I’ve not sold any copies this week so you automatically go for the “oh no is this a waste of time” feeling but in reality I know it isn’t in the slightest. I have achieved an audience of ONE (well in excess of fifty now which is good for a non supported self-published author I believe). Yes a bunch have been on free promotion but it is not about the money, yes that would be lovely but it’s about sharing my creations with the world.

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Night shifts kill the creativity a little, staring at my background and Avengers whilst I try to see what I could create – alas it was two paragraphs that day!

The fact people WANT to read what I have created fills me with a pride of confidence so in these times of self doubt I try to remember that I haven’t had anyone tell me that I shouldn’t have bothered and that can only be a good thing.

So from staring at the screen in frustration for most of the week and feeling a poor flow from head to page for chapter 9 I have finished it today and am quite happy with how it has progressed.

I suppose it’s a reminder in a way to just take a break and then keep going! Which I intend to do.

Thank you for those who have supported and continue to do so!

What a week and it isn’t even over!

This will not be the longest addition as I am tired and fighting the lack of time to try and placate my mind by at least completing ONE SINGLE full chapter this week. By week though I do not measure my time in the normal seven days. As I work a ten-day shift pattern )six working four off) my week when I speak of it refers to those ten days so forgive me if this seems a little weird in my timespan sense.

I have three times this week tried to pour myself into a specific chapter. Having completed the draft of the pivotal scene that my oldest had fun completing with me, I have returned to the chronological chapters and back to where I should be in the story. I can always tell when I am tired as I stare at what I’ve written and whilst it makes complete sense in the same vein it also never reflects how I want it to appear.

Here sets in the frustration which is never helped by the fact I feel I am then forcing myself to write. When I get to this point my rebelliousness sets in and I know it is best to shut down Word and leave the story be.

This morning I have completed nine lines! Nine little lines and I pretty much hate them straight off…..today is not a writing day. Considering the fact I have two twelve hour night shifts left of this week I expect those nine lines will stay just that until days off.

HOWEVER – silver linings and clouds I suppose is the fact I have found a new setting for “Part 2 – Return” of Whispering Shadows. Having been walking the kids to school earlier in the week I walked past the church where I got married and it dawned on me to bring that as the sanctuary for Jack when we enter part two of the story. Of course the church will not be staying perfectly as it is, much like the brewery that became Dinymour the church will be a little different. As I snapped a couple of opportunistic photographs on my phone to keep in my inspiration folder I thought of moving it a little, changing what surrounds it so we can fit into my story a little better.

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Having spent such a pivotal and brilliant moment in there I have a very good memory of its layout – my children sing there each Christmas with school and it seemed once again a way to make my story personal to me yet keeping it separate at the same time! I like having a basis to work the story, for me using influences from the real world around me allows me a stable ground from which to build. My imagination I suppose needs an anchor and by using what I see every day acts as stimulus when my head goes into meltdown or tiredness – seeing the influences  often sets off a little chain reaction.

So today you see the tired, grumbling and somewhat doubting author in me. Is it worth it? Am I any good? Will this ever work? All questions quite normal so when I get like this I think it’s best to let the ideas grow in my head until such a time that I know it is right ti write them own. If I force the words, make myself write when it isn’t the best time I risk rebelling against myself, not enjoying it and writing something that is even further below the standards of what people expect!

Sharing ideas with the kids!

It’s a funny thing discussing the story with my seven year old. Yesterday we had a very deep and meaningful conversation about how I would construct a scene in an upcoming chapter. My oldest is keen to be part of the book writing process and desperately came up with some very…….interesting scenarios for the story. Needless to say entering into negotiation with a seven year old is fraught with danger and as his idea of a character’s demise grew so did the elaborate manner in which it happened.

More than once I had to say “don’t you think that’s a bit dangerous?” only to be met with a blank stare as if to say come on dad that’s not the half of it. Somehow I had to tell him that sadly there are no swords in this story, again to be met with a question of “well couldn’t he find one!?!”

Got to love his logic.

And so having discussed the idea with him I suddenly became obsessed with writing that particular scene. Although it occurs in the future of the story the idea was rocking around my head so much I thought it best to get it out lest I forget something. I try to stick to at least some chronological way of writing – at least within each of the three parts of the story but this is an unknown number of chapters ahead of where I am in the story.

I’ve not done this before, I’ve always been worried that I end up directing the story in a particular direction which draws away from what I was originally intending. But you now what, who says that;s a bad thing and who says that this won’t work. Even if it doesn’t work I will have something I can use in the future…hopefully!

So when you (eventually) get to read Whispering Shadows hopefully you’ll get a far less extravagant but nonetheless still an entertaining event. Some of the more outlandish ideas can be summed up by simply adding and then…and then…to the idea. Some of the ideas we thrashed out between us though will feature but thankfully it will be spread out and not happen in one gigantic medley of madness as he would have liked (sorry to disappoint little man!) Again the skill of parenting is one where I can sew the seed of an idea and then make him think it is his own!

This little interaction though has made me realise exactly how good this is for me. It brings me closer to the children as they like to get involved. I am desperately trying not to let the writing get in the way of work, gym and husband/dad-duties so by getting everyone involved it makes it all the more special. The fact that my two boys (less so my daughter as she’s not even two until next month) are so keenly interested in Jack James makes me remember the real reason behind all of this.

So really this is going to be a family affair! I’ll share the story with them as I go and get some feedback from them. Luckily though I know when to nod and smile but you know what, the fact it gets their imaginations rolling can only be a god thing. Even if I just give them the chance to tell me what they would do even though I know where the story is really going just encourages their creativity.

Even the rough ideas become something – once again using Hardy & Hanson’s Brewery in my images. Rough idea of Whispering Shadows Cover

Even now they look at the Kimberley Brewery Building with a curious look, I can see their little imaginations mulling things over. I designed a rough idea of how the cover MAY LOOK in the future and whilst they were walking to school both stopped and looked at the building I’ve used on the draft cover and said “look it’s daddy’s book.” My world mingles with theirs and there is no greater reward.

Subtlety of violence – implied over obvious

Having written Footprints On The Other Side I understood that my action and violence was reflected in a way that kept with the story but was never “too” violent as it were. I have suffered before, on previous projects as I was developing my writing style and presence, where violence was gratuitous and ever present. I don’t want that to be the case with the stories of Jack James and all the while I wanted my children, obviously when they’re older, to be able to enjoy the stories I’m writing.

As a result I have cut the language, it never seemed necessary to get the characters to swear lots again ruled by the idea that my dad always frowned upon swearing within the stories and to a degree he’s right. The characters gained nothing by swearing and so in a way, inadvertently I have sanitised the stories but I believe not at the expense of the story or my characters.

I thought of this as I wrote a pivotal scene this afternoon in Whispering Shadows. The scene is what sets in motion the main crux of the story arc that pulls old and new characters together eventually.

As I wrote it I had a choice. Balancing the story against how I wished to put it across was challenging. I wanted the scene to be something that the reader’s would grow to fear but in the same vein I wanted it to be something that didn’t fall into the realms of gratuitous violence that would ultimately feel violent just for the sake of it. And so I developed two versions in my head – the first being the  explicitly described occurrence. As is my style describing everything in detail to plant the image in the reader’s head but that would alienate an audience. Second being the more subtle emotions and feelings behind the “madness” that I felt drew the reader in and allowed glimpses to be mentioned therefore setting an idea so their own mental version could be built.

The scene will be revisited throughout the story, seen from various perspectives and each time it will add a little to the horror at the scene but without saying look at this and picture this in its full gore. I’m hoping my skills at writing will be enough to sow a seed and play to your imagination therefore nurturing an idea but leaving the levels of violence to your preference. Obviously I still need to get the gravity of the situation across but I feel by focussing on an emotional side as opposed the aesthetic or descriptive account it gives something more the characters at the same time.

Being “visual” in my style of imagination it is easy for me describe how I would see the devastation of this scene but I really am fuelled by the fact I want my children to read this in the future. This is no YA book but in the same respect it is not an adult only book. I pitch Jack James as an all rounder, someone that can be both an inspiration and a article of curiosity. I pitch it this way probably based on my reading preferences as a teenager, my reading was always along the lines of Jack Higgins or such like during my teenage years so offering those types of stories seems most appropriate.

Which brings me onto sex! Not literally, that is best saved for an entirely different type f blog but sex is an issue nonetheless. I have no intention at this point to introduce a sexual element to the story but obviously as characters develop and grow there is a possibility of this occurring but I do not have any intention to feed it or play it in an overt sense. I am no prude, you want a sexual story I’m sure I can write one but this isn’t what I want from Jack James.

My story telling is a matter of subtlety where I try to play enough on the page but I also like to justify everything in a way that it all makes sense.

Of course this is first draft edit and I could end up changing everything but for the moment, as I progress the next instalment for now this is where my mind is sitting and where I am trying to take the story.

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On an unrelated note my GoodReads Giveaway ended the day before yesterday and I was extremely pleased to see 833 people had entered. Obviously this may (and probably will not) translate into sales but surely there is interest out there enough for people to take the time to look and enter. My sales continue steadily and my reader base grows slowly. There is still the hope that somewhere along the line someone will see the potential and help me run with it! Plus of course seeing as I see Jason Statham (being both a film idol and a fitness idol to me) as my main character he could by all means drop me a line and take the story to the studios as his next action entry! One can hope, one can dream!

                  Jack James of the future? I can but dream!                 (Image sourced from open media Google via Popocorn Heart)