Indie Interview: Suzanne Rogerson

Yesterday Rebeccahowiebooks kindly featured my Indie Interview as part of The Lost Sentinel’s blog tour. Thanks for having me again, Rebecca.

A long, long time ago (last year) I started this Indie Interview series, and one of the first authors I talked to was Suzanne Rogerson, the then author of Visions of Zarua, a standalone epic fantasy novel.

Suzanne’s been spending the past year promoting her book, so when I heard she was publishing a new novel, I was pleased when I was asked to be a stop on The Lost Sentinel blog tour.

You can check out the other blogs Suzanne will be visiting this month below.

Hi, Suzanne. Welcome back to Read A Lot.

Thank you, it’s great to be here again.

Q: Tell us a bit about your new book, The Lost Sentinel.

The magical island of Kalaya is dying, along with its Sentinel. With the Kalayan people turning their back on magic, can Tei help the exiles find their new Sentinel before it’s too…

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Indie Focus: Interview With Self-Published Author Suzanne Rogerson

It’s day 4 of the blog tour for The Lost Sentinel and I’m really pleased to share this indepth interview over on Another World Book Blog. Please come over and join us.

Another World


BACK FOR THE SECOND OF THREE VISITS

SUZANNE ROGERSON PROVES SHE’S MADE OF HIGH FANTASY HEROINE MATERIAL BY AGREEING TO BE INTERROGATED ON ANOTHER WORLD

ImageThe Interrogation Room here at Another World has remained unoccupied for far too long. Today, for your viewing pleasure, this oversight will finally be rectified as I have secured my latest victim interviewee.

To mark the imminent publication of her new novel The Lost Sentinel, Book One of the Silent Sea Chronicles, I have brought in indie author Suzanne Rogerson to face twenty probing questions to gain some insight into her new book, herself, as an author, and (of course) to examine his geek credentials.

Enjoy the interview, and be sure to keep an eye out for the review of Suzanne’s book this coming Friday.

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Blog update #amediting The Lost Sentinel #fantasy

I am happy to report that I’ve finally finished what I hope is the final draft of The Lost Sentinel – Bloodlines Trilogy Book One.

I’m going to be taking some time out from blogging to read though it before passing it to my first beta readers. I’m hoping it’s all come together in this latest round of edits.

Then it’ll be time to look for book cover ideas and try to perfect my blurb!

Not sure I’ll be on schedule to publish before the end of 2016, but I’m really hoping to stick to my plan of publishing a book a year.

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When I return to blogging, I’ll have some tips to share on keeping track of events whilst writing a trilogy or series.

Have a great weekend everyone.

#AtoZChallenge T – Title Trouble & a poll

I have a terrible writer’s affliction called Title Trouble.

book-307524_1280It’s getting serious. How can I get my cover art ordered if I don’t have a title?

We all know titles must catch the reader’s eye. Next to the cover image, I’d say it was the most important draw to make the reader want to check out your book. Then the blurb and opening lines have to finish the job.

Sometimes titles are easy. ‘Visions of Zarua’ wrote itself and encompasses what the book is about.

The title Spirit Song, yesterday’s flash fiction story, came from the story itself.

When titles are hard to think up, I use a working title. The trouble with this method is those titles becomes so engrained, it’s almost impossible to see beyond them.

Now I need your help;

I hope to publish my second fantasy novel this year. It will be the first book of a trilogy. The pesky working title has stuck and I can’t see beyond it. Maybe I don’t really want to change it and that is the reason for my Title Trouble.

What do you think?

Bloodlines Trilogy

Book 1 – Search for the Sentinel

 

Would you pick up this book purely on its title? Would you be intrigued?

Does the title matter to you as a reader? If you’re a writer, how do you come up with your titles?

I look forward to your comments and seeing what the vote will be.

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Next time its back to some cooking with Ultimate Flapjacks.

Check out other A-Z posts here.

#AtoZchallenge S – Spirit Song #flashfiction

For S in the AtoZChallenge I’m so happy to be sharing this flash fiction story that came third in the flash500 comp in 2013.

Judge Steph Patterson – Senior editor of Crooked Cat Publishing stated,

‘Unusual, emotional, warm, surprising — a warm, unusual story. It moved me when I read it. It has an air of esoteric.’

Have a read and let me know your thoughts…

Spirit Song

Cecilia no longer saw the faces of the dying. They were merely shells cast off at the last to free the soul within. But, in the moments before death, she often wondered what happened to their spirits.
Sensing the man’s time was drawing near, she picked up her lute. Her fingers plucked the strings, dancing like raindrops over the notes, filling the room with fluid harmony. Slowly, the man in the bed responded. The music rose to a crescendo as he took his final breath, and she wept as his spirit lifted clear of its bonds to embrace the light. Cecilia let her fingers fall from the strings, while the haunting resonance of the song echoed around her. She cradled the lute in her frail hands and allowed the stale sickly air in the room to dry her tears. The intrusion of another broke the spell, and she opened her eyes to blackness.
‘He’s gone, Cecilia. But he died with a smile on his face,’ the nurse told her softly. ‘Come on, let’s get you back to your room.’
Cecilia shook her head. ‘There’s another down the hall…’ She rose on unsteady legs, clutching the lute possessively against her body.
‘At least let me help.’ The nurse took hold of her arm, but Cecilia recoiled from the touch and the strength of life flowing through the younger woman.
‘I can do it myself.’ She felt her way to the door and shuffled along the corridor with her hand trailing along the wall. Finally she reached the right room and slipped inside. She plucked the familiar notes of the spirit song until the dying woman floated away into the healing light.
Cecilia slumped to the floor, hugging the lute to her chest. Exhaustion tugged her towards sleep and she dreamt of the place beyond death.
She awoke in bed and sensed the nurse at her side. A warm hand squeezed her cold bony flesh.
‘My lute…’ she croaked and felt feebly for her beloved instrument.
‘Have a drink first.’
A straw prodded her lips and she sucked at the water, choking as its coldness flooded her constricted throat. The covers shifted under the weight of the lute and her hand scrabbled to lay across its neck. She stroked the strings with her fingertips, too weak to pluck a note.
Cecilia drifted back to sleep. The music swelled inside her, its poignant melody leading her spirit away from its dying shell. She travelled through a tunnel feeling weightless and pain-free, and cocooned by warmth. Bright light blinded her and cold air caressed her naked body. The shrill cry of a new-born filled her ears. Cecilia forced open her eyes and stared up into a stranger’s face.
Before the memories of her old life faded away, she finally had her answer.

spirit song light

The story behind the story;

Spirit Song holds a very special place in my heart. I wrote it when my Grandad was admitted into a hospice. At the time I was attending creative writing classes and the prompt for that week was Cecilia, the patroness of musicians.

I sat in bed with my notebook and closed my eyes to think. When I started to write this piece seemed to flow onto the page almost fully formed and I instantly fell in love with the character.

I entered it into the Flash500 comp. The critique stated it was a lovely character study, but not a story.

I couldn’t let Spirit Song go, or maybe it wouldn’t let go of me. I rewrote the end and gave it a starting point that tied in with the conclusion. Then I re-entered and this second attempt was placed 3rd in the Flash500 comp. I felt like that was a turning point for me, a time when I could really start to believe in myself as a writer. Two years later, I self published my first novel.

Did you have a defining moment when you realised you were a writer?

(If you want to find out more about the Flash 500 Quarterly competition, click here. It’s well worth paying for the critique, my story would never have been placed without that important feedback.)

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Tomorrow T for Titles.

Check out some other AtoZ posts here

#AtoZChallenge – E for Editing ‘Search and destroy’

If you want your story to fly off the page – then it’s all in the editing.

Once you have a near finished draft, it’s important to go through it and cut any unnecessary words. I use Mircosoft Word ‘Navigation’ – CTL ‘F’ key. It’s brilliant. You type in a word and it will tell you how many times you’ve used it, shows you page numbers and allows you to navigate easily between these sentences to fix them.

I have a list I work through. It started when my Beta readers commented that I used certain words and phrases too often – everyone grinned (mostly inappropriately!), there were lots of smiles flashing and a few too many calming breaths! There are plenty more, but I don’t want to embarrass myself too much.

We all have our own pet words to search for and destroy, but here’s a list of a few that are universal.

ly words – Usually these words are added to weak verbs. It’s better to change the verb in question and delete the ly word. (walked quickly – ran)

ing words – Sometimes we use too many ing words and the prose would be improved by a rewrite.

ALL Variations of said: whisper/shout/mutter/ etc – As my editor pointed out, it should be obvious by the dialogue itself how it is said. If not, rework it. Also if its obvious who is talking you can get rid of the speech tag altogether.

Look / gaze / sat / walk and other weak verbs – replace with stronger ones.

Smile / grin / nod / shrug / cry  / sigh – Any over used actions that slip in during the creating stage.

Yes, No, well (in dialogue) – These are often pointless sentence starters.

Just, very, quite, more, really  etc – Filler words don’t add to the prose. The sentence becomes stronger without them.

Sense / feel / felt – These sentences can often be improved by rewriting. If a character felt something, it should be obvious by their actions without the writer spelling it out.

Contractions – Check they are used where appropriate in prose and dialogue.

Then, next – A creative writing teacher told me these are unnecessary (unless in dialogue)as everything in fiction is consecutive.

There was /were – Passive sentences slow the pace.

(I’m sure there are lots more to add to this list, please share yours)

Conclusion – Using Word’s Navigation (search and destroy method)

Lowers your word count.

Ensures your writing is succinct.

Roots out repetition and your pet words and phrases.

Helps you view the sentence in question separate from the whole, so you can pick out the problems and be ruthless fixing them.

You can see what words you use too often and become more conscious of them as you write your next draft.

 

Now your novel will fly off the page…

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(This brilliant pic is off Pixabay.com. It’s the first time I’ve used someone else’s image, but the site said it was free to use.)

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Tomorrow I’m up for a bit of Foraging.

Links to my previous A to Z challenge posts

Did you guess the object? And my perfect writing holiday.

The object in the photograph below (which I posted it in response to Hughes weekly photo challenge week 12 – games) was of course a footprint, a cast of a wolf footprint to be exact.

WP_20160207_20_50_14_Pro  Thank you, Hugh for picking my picture to showcase on your weekly blog challenge.

It is not as exciting as a fossilised footprint (being only 12+ years old), but it is very special to me and reminds me of one of the most magical and memorable experiences of my life.

I stayed on holiday for a week at Wolf Watch UK, actually within a wolf reserve in Shropshire, England. It’s a brilliant organisation and for me it was a once in a lifetime holiday. Please check out their website Wolf Watch UK to see how gorgeous the place is and the important work they do. I don’t know if they still run holidays, but there are plenty of opportunities to visit the wolves on things like photography days.

(The pictures in this post are not the greatest quality as they are only photos of photos, it was way before my days of digital photography.)

I loved that whole experience. Hearing the majestic and haunting sound of the wolves howling in the evening and early morning – I couldn’t think of a better alarm clock. I would spring out of bed at the first howl (not that easy when you’re 5 months pregnant!) and record their howling on my little palm top computer. I have a sound file that I wanted to share, but the .wav format is not accepted by wordpress. If anyone can tell me how to convert and add sound files I would love to update this post. As it is you’ll have to put up with a rather poor quality image of one of the wolves mid-howl or yawning its hard to tell.

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Back in 2004 there was no TV reception in this beautiful Shropshire wooded valley so it made the perfect writing retreat. I started planning and writing scene for one of my works in progress called Child of Destiny. I hope to finally finish the draft in 2016.

My husband wasn’t that happy without a TV. And he certainly wasn’t keen on the wolf feeding experience.

tony and the wolf

I loved my time in the wolf enclosure. Even though I was 5 months pregnant with my first child, I wasn’t going to let that stop me getting up close with these lovely creatures. I think you’ll agree I look a lot happier about it than my husband.

me and the wolf

I’ve always been an animal lover, but my obsession with wolves started when I read Robin Hobbs Farseer trilogy. Nighteyes was, and still is, one of my favourite all time fictional characters. I’d love to have met him.

This holiday will always have a special place in my heart and it’s brought back lots of memories writing about it now. I would love to revisit Wolf Watch UK, but I have a few years to go before my youngest is 16 (age limit imposed for safety reasons).

If you ever get the chance, go along and meet the wolves. The experience will stay with you forever.

I’m taking a few days off social media to finish the edit of my next book. Please do leave comments though, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

 

 

#amediting for the next two weeks!

Last week I finally completed the read through and edit of ‘Search for the Sentinel’. It’s in good shape, though far from ready to self publish. I need to add in a dozen or so scenes and have lots of tell and unnecessary exposition to delete. I also need to work on some of the world-building ideas to make sure they come alive for the reader.

I’ve challenged myself to complete this next stage of editing in two weeks, deadline when the kids breakup for half term. If you could see the scribbled mess of my draft you would know that it’s quite an undertaking. But if I don’t set the challenge I will just drift along without completing anything. Looks like I will have to unplug my Wifi.

The plan will then be to print it and read it again after a break of a week or so. Then I’ll keep repeating the process until I’m happy enough to pass it on for it’s first beta read.

I also need to look into book covers. This time it will need to have a theme that can run through 3 books – and I have no ideas where to start with that. But I shall be heading over to ‘The Cover Collection’ who made the brilliant cover for Visions of Zarua.

In the near future I hope to put together an editing checklist which will incorporate what I’ve learnt from creative writing classes, professional critiques and professional editing. Watch this space.

My editors are getting ready to give me a hand…

See you on the other side of two weeks, if I still have my sanity!

 

#Writers – looking for inspiration?

When I get stuck for story ideas or am in need of some inspiration I love to look through my magazine collection. I’ve found new counties and countries that might feature in my stories, possible characters, interesting facts, buildings and objects, articles on crafts and quirky details that might spark story ideas.

Some of my favourite magazines are:

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Countryfile – This magazine is always filled with inspiring stories, beautiful walks and landscape photography, crafts and seasonal articles. Plus they usually run a few pages on a chosen location with lots of interesting facts and pictures. It’s been a source of many of the photos on my wall for my W.I.P – Search for the Sentinel.

 

Discover Britain – this magazine is brilliant for pictures and articles about Britain. They have a focus on history and places to visit in Britain, and each issue will star a particular county i.e. Norfolk for the magazine in my picture. They have headers like History, Architecture, Art, Gardens and a Travel guide. Plenty to inspire…

Lonely Planet – The spectacular photographs are the stars of these magazines. I also find lots of interesting articles on places all over the world. They have monthly features like Globetrotter, Easy Trips, Great Escapes and Mini Guides.

My collection of writing magazines – These always have interesting articles to learn from and inspire, and I always head straight to the competition pages to see what’s coming up that I may be able to enter. I like the themed competitions for inspiration, and those that offer critiques for a small fee – possibly the most valuable thing to come out of entering competitions (if you don’t win that is!).

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I’m always on the look out for interesting and quirky magazines. Do you have any to recommend?

 

#BookReview – Wild Ruins by Dave Hamilton

The first thing that drew me to this book was the title, Wild Ruins. I’ve always loved ruins and this book has over 300 of them to discover. Then there is the amazing cover, which drew me in, not least because it’s just like an image I have in my head for my current WIP – Search for the Sentinel.

book review Wild Ruins

This is a very easy to use reference book with chapters focusing on counties i.e. Cornwall, Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

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A nice touch are the pages at the beginning where the author suggests the best ruins for things like foraging (a favourite pastime of mine), picnics, beautiful walks, the weirdest and strangest ruins and the best for children and families.  The book has lots of inspiring pictures, maps, ordnance survey grid references and post codes for sat nav.

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It’s a good size to fit in a ruck sack, and I certainly can’t wait to take it on family holidays and outings to discover these Wild Ruins for myself.

From a writers perspective this is a book of pure inspiration, a must for all our bookshelves.

I’ve rated it 4 out of 5 stars. I suppose my only complaint would be the lack of glossy pictures inside, just to make it more visually pleasing.

Check out Wild Ruins on Amazon.