Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Levels 3.2, Lullaby of Lies behind the Scenes, FREE SHORT STORY

Lullaby of Lies, the third book in the Levels series, is about Maddie Bride. I wrote it all down, everything that happens to her.

The other side of the coin is that there is lots of stuff that happened in that story that I didn't write down. Specifically what happened between Jenna deGrace and Hurley Laker. They meet. There's all kinds of intensity, but I don't show them talking to each, or getting to know each other. Though they do both of those a lot.

So last weekend, just for a fun, I spent an evening with them at Levels, and I wrote a short story about it. It was lots of fun, and it really didn't go where I thought it would. The lost small boy was a big surprise...

You can have the story, for free, if you sign up to my mailing list. I'll be using it to send you a couple of messages a year, letting you know when new books are out.

The SIGN-UP FORM IS HERE, so if you'd like a bit more Levels today, type in your email address and I'll ping it to your inbox in the next week or so.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Beer, King Arthur, Pubs, King Arthur, 5 Places You Must Go on Vacation

King Arthur was real. Definitely real.

He might not have been called Arthur. His table may have been long and thin. But there was definitely somebody there who cast a shadow across all the history that followed.

Think about it this way. There's a definitely 300 year window where we know NOTHING that happened in Britain. It's like it went behind a curtain when the Romans left, and didn’t reappear until the time of King Alfred. The Britons were in charge, then when the lights came up again they had more or less gone, and the Saxons ruled the roost.

300 years of war and change. It’s IMPOSSIBLE that there were no awesome heroes in that period. Think of any history you know about the time from 1713 till now. There are warriors and leaders all over the place.

Like all the others Arthur left a mark. There are the stories of Malory and Geoffrey of Monmouth. There are movies. There is the amazing Tintagel castle I wrote about HERE

And there are pubs.

The photo at the top of the post is a pub in Tintagel. I had to go there because of its relevance, clearly. The plate of bacon and eggs was incidental.


This was a guest house.

And this, obviously, was a beer. Very tasty Dad said, brewed and bottled in the heart of Cornwall.

After Tintagel our next stop on the Arthur tour was Bodmin Moor, the third biggest moor in the south west, after Dartmoor and Exmoor. All three are high, bleak, and beautiful, but Bodmin is the most atmospheric and a big part of its gloomy charm is the fact that it’s associated with Arthur’s death.

We got lost twice and were helped by a, then stunned by a rare wild otter boldly crossing the road in front of us. Apparently the water in the Looe, the moor-river, is the cleanest in Britain.

We followed a narrow, winding lane between tall mossy banks to the highest point  of the moor. Up on the top is a deserted, windswept lake, called - amazingly - Dozmary Pool and it’s here that Sir Bedivere was told by the mortally wounded King Arthur to throw Excalibur. Twice he told him, and twice Bedivere hid the sword in the reeds and returned to his dying king. The third time he did as he was bidden, and a pale arm shot from the water and retrieved the sword, returning it to the Lady of the Lake.

I didn’t see a ghostly arm, but we did meet cheerful farmer who claimed he’d never been out of the county in his life.

I think that’s all of my Cornish adventures that are of any interest. The next post will be about something written, and published, and available to readers, I promise…

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Levels 4 (The Walled Lake) FINISHED

So far Levels 4 stands at 112,843 words, though I've written and deleted far more. Today, though, I wrote the best two:

It's been hard going, weaving together a couple of different story lines from the first three books, giving prominence to all the old characters and adding some new ones, has been difficult. There was a patch in the middle where drawing all the threads together was really, really hard, but then, when I started to wind up the tension towards the end, writing got easier and more fluid, until this weekend I wrote the two big, climactic scenes not far from here:

This is the treasury at Petra, lit by candles. Relevant to the story in an Indiana Jones kind of way...

I'm giving myself a week to maybe knock out a quick short story, and let things settle, then I'm getting into redrafting and cover design. Hopefully it won't be long until the story is on your Kindle...

Thursday, 8 August 2013

In search of King Arthur and the perfect English Breakfast

So last month when I should have been writing Levels 4 I was on holiday in Cornwall. Now, instead of writing Levels 4 I'm writing about it...

As I've said BEFORE King Arthur lived in the 400 years between the Romans departure from Britain and the Norman arrival. Where he lived is less clear, but it's generally thought to have been in the south and west of Britain. Camelot may have been Caerleon, or further south in Somerset or Dorset in the area of Glastonbury or Stonehenge, where Levels are set.

Cornwall, however, is where he might have been born, and where he might have been killed.
 This is Tintagel Castle, a jumble of ruined walls on a cliff overlooking this bay. The shadows to the left conceal the entrance to somewhere called Merlin's Cave...!
The hall, guardrooms and garden are marked out, though now all that remains are lichen covered stones and gull haunted grass. Steep cliffs all around once made it impregnable. Now they make it a bit scary, with stunning views all down the coast to places like this:
This is Bude, a little up the coast, where I stayed. I could have gone surfing, but instead hunted down the perfect full English fried breakfast and ate it vigorously on several occasions. 

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Levels 4, The Hunger Games, Milestones and Vacations

Sometimes novel writing, it turns out, isn't a dream come true.

Saying it's like coal mining, or fishing for crabs in the Arctic, is ridiculous. But sometimes it's really difficult.

Writing is most fun for me when I'm caught up in the flow of the story. An extravagant, exciting scene, or a new relationship dynamic explodes onto the page, and I go along for the ride. Levels 4 has it's share of those, but it's also technically very demanding. As the series has gone it's picked up backstory and complication, and of course I've encouraged that. Anybody who's read the epilogue to Lullaby of Lies (Levels # 3)   knows that there are a horde more characters ready and waiting to stake their claim to story strands in Levels 4.

Part of working this out has involved a lot more, shorter chapters, as well as spider diagrams, head scratching, and storming out the room to make cups of coffee. none of which have been helped by going on vacation.

The good news is that I'm getting there, and here's the proof:

The next step is to finish it, probably 10,000 more words, chiselled from the coal face or dredged from the bottom of an icy ocean.

Not really. The words are in my head, but they have to get past two distractions

The first is an alternative sequel to Song to Wake to, set in a world that has quickly gone dystopian, that reminds me of the Hunger Games, but with less people, more water, and a NASTY twist.

The second is a set of three blog posts about an awesome vacation in King Arthur country, when I did much less writing than I should have done. I'll try to write them quickly...