Woodland walks and writing progress

Hello, and sorry I’ve been gone for so long. I’ve been in a little bubble of writing and TV addiction.

The fourth Inside Evil instalment is coming along nicely. I’m about four fifths done, and am aiming to complete the novel in the next couple of weeks. There will then be about a month of read-through’s, edits and proofreading, so I’m hoping to have it published towards the end of September. As yet it’s still without a name, though I’m ruminating on a couple of possibilities.

It’s been a great book to write, especially as we’re back in Gathin to explore this parallel world. Martha’s back on form too and recovering well from her venture into the Middlelands, so my favourite double act of Susan and Martha are getting up to all kinds of mischief. You’d never think these two were grown women. Meanwhile, Sam’s taking a lead role again so I’m enjoying getting inside his head..and there’s plenty of us in there, I can tell you. *hint hint*

Also, if you haven’t realised, Inside Evil is free on Amazon, so you pick up this fantasy novel without having to spend a penny. :)

Anyone who’s read my work will know only too well of the creatures and scenery I describe. Despite both CRYO and Inside Evil being set in urban locations, I still find a way to get my characters out into the wilderness, and the wood’s close to home never fail to inspire me. I’m asked where to find inspiration, how to find that muse? Well, look outside, explore the wilds, walk the streets, and it’ll find you!

I took some gorgeous pictures today whilst walking and it really got my brain ticking over. From the dark and ominous storm drain which any number of strange monsters could be lurking beneath, to a small mossy covered root bank, there was inspiration at every turn. Even my dog leaping through the forests reminded me of the great hunks of wolves that I’ve written about throughout the Inside Evil series.

Beetle leaps through the forest

Beetle leaps through the forest

A storm drain could be the home of many monsters

A storm drain could be the home of many monsters

Moss covered roots; a little carpet of colour

Moss covered roots; a little carpet of colour

The summer moon - who's up there? Who's visiting?

The summer moon – who’s up there? Who’s visiting?

My mind seems to find stories in every place I look, and I came home filled with words ready to jot down upon a page. For now, my work with Inside Evil continues and soon, I hope, I’ll be ready to reveal the latest title.

Happy Reading :)

 

 

Sample Sunday – An Inside Evil book 4 excerpt

I’m currently forging my way through the fourth Inside Evil book, and I have to say, I’m discovering a lot. Whilst Spirits of the Middlelands was set largely back on Earth, I’m excited to be back in Gathin for this latest installment. There’s a lot being explained in this new novel as Roberta finally starts to get some real answers. I thought I’d share this little excerpt today from the first chapter. Roberta’s been flung back into Gathin and is, like usual, trying to avoid being caught.

If you haven’t read the Inside Evil series, you can find them on Amazon (Inside Evil (1), The Tower of Souls (2) Spirits of the Middlelands(3)).

*****

As she was about to pull herself away from the grate and find one that was actually big enough to crawl through, Roberta froze. From below her came a deep rumble as if an earth quake was slowly erupting from under her very feet. A nose twitched and a huge hairy and black muzzle stalked into sight. Roberta ceased even breathing as she saw the nostrils below her sniff the air as if they knew she was there. The enormous hulk of Luguolo filled the room beneath her, the thin Mohawk of ebony coloured fur that ran along his back, upright and bristling in the muggy air. He could tell she was there, she just knew it. But he didn’t look up, he just stood transfixed to the spot as a drop of moisture pooled on the end of his quivering nose and dropped to the floor. From where she hung above him, Luguolo’s fearsome orange eyes were hidden, but she’d seen them devouring her before and knew he was preparing for a fight. Then, content that he’d surveyed the room and found it empty, he turned slowly and padded away, his tail almost brushing the very grate upon which Roberta lay as he did so.

It was several minutes before Roberta even dared move for she feared that Luguolo had simply sauntered out of sight and was now quietly crouched, awaiting his prey to stir. As she tried to regulate her heaving lungs and prevent an obvious gasp escaping her lips, she was aware of distant voices. They became gradually closer, accompanied by an odd clunking, until two men trundled into the room with an ancient wheelbarrow that looked on its last legs.

“’Nother one gone then,” one man said, the top of his shiny bald head bobbing up and down as he leant over and pulled a canister into the barrow. “She won’t have any left at this rate.”

“Ain’t your concern,” the other warned as he held the barrow firmly whilst the bag was thrown in.

“T’will be when she’s run out completely.”

“You ain’t the one who’s gotta cut out the symbol and feed what’s left to Luguolo. If it ain’t bad enough she’s got her fist upon us all, we ‘ave to bow to her flea bitten wolf pack.”

The man heaving the heavy metal cans stopped and looked up warily at his companion.

“Don’t be sayin’ stuff like that.” His voice was lower and quieter than before. “She’ll hang us both just for thinkin’ it, let along sayin’ it out.”

“I’d like to see her try,” the man holding the barrow spat viciously whilst the other fell silent. “A’right then,” he said after a pause. “Not another word. C’mon, we gotta get this furnace stoked.”

After heaving one final canister into the barrow, the two men disappeared from Roberta’s sight, though the sound of them trundling along the stone corridor lingered in the air for some time. She wasn’t sure who she was more worried about; Luguolo or her own doppelganger, The Queen of the North Realms. But there wasn’t time to pause for thought because Roberta was keenly aware that she was far from escaping and saving herself. Why did you put me here? She cursed the spirits of the Middlelands yet again for putting her in such a position. Surely a small and secluded lodge somewhere in the woods would have been a far better starting point?

Find me on Google+

I’ll start this off with a warning – I really don’t know what I’m doing on Google+. However, you will now find me there. I know that Google+ wasn’t well received when it first launched, but it does seem to have grown over the past few years, and continues to attract people. In addition, their ‘Communities‘ pages are awesome for connecting people. I find Goodreads extremely difficult to use as I’m normally too busy writing to be reading much. As such, actually conversing about books in a reader based community is hard. However, Google+ throws the door open and allows me to join any community I want, whether it’s a writers group or a fan forum for Mass Effect. The huge positive about this is that I can;

a) Actually get to know people by talking about the things I love without having to expend a lot of time, and

b) I can passively promote my work by giving a ‘+1‘ or commenting on posts. This can stir up interest in people, who’ll follow my link through to my profile page.

In addition to my own profile page (find me here), I’ve created a G. Wakeling community. One of my personal annoyances with having a FB fan page is that only I can post on it. Whilst readers and friends can post, any content gets shrunk into a tiny side box. It doesn’t really facilitate conversation. The Google+ communities really make the process of chatting and discussing my work, characters etc, far easier. And, one day, if I’m brave enough, I might even hold a ‘Hangout‘.

So, if you’re on Google+, add me! :)

Other News

Aside from starting out on Google+, I’m also well into the fourth instalment of Inside Evil. With only two books to go, there’s a lot to tie up in this latest novel. There’s also some new questions that have to be raised, and the cast, Susan in particular, are throwing me some curve balls.

AND, Inside Evil is now (and should stay that way) FREE on Amazon. I’ve had success in the past getting people into reading the sequel by offering IE for free, so if you want to read The Tower of Souls and Spirits of the Middlelands, then you can grab the first for free now.

Inside Evil Book 4′s opening scene

So, as many of you know, I’m currently working on the fourth instalment of Inside Evil. With only two books left, there’s a lot to cram into these two last novels! I thought I’d share the unedited opening scene of the latest book so you have a taster of what’s to come. If you haven’t read any of the series, then you can check out the books by reading the first chapters that are all available on this site for FREE. :D Just click on the series covers below.

Cover - small TTOS-small Spirits of the Middlelands (1)

 

Opening Scene – Inside Evil – Title TBC

Another scream rang out in the darkness, and Roberta pushed her hands tighter over her ears. The torturing had been ongoing for hours. The cries had been sharp and prolonged at first, until they gradually quietened to a muffled and dull whimper. Then they’d stopped, and she’d been relieved that the horrendous sounds were no longer eviscerating her ears. But it seemed the victim had only been left to recover, for another painful onslaught was soon brought upon them.

Roberta had quickly realised just where in Gathin she’d been thrust into. Though the opening at the top of the tall cylindrical tomb had shone light down upon her, it was not the blue sky she saw, but a mural painted on a ceiling far above. The drop from that room to where she lay now was vast. As someone had been dragged across the floor and propped into the chair that now covered the small spherical opening above her, Roberta had realised she was in Gathin’s central tower, the windowless pillar that rose out the ground in the heart of the Queen’s domain. Above her was the room where she’d fought off the Queen of the North Realms, where she’d attempted to throw her doppelganger to her death. The small opening was covered with an iron grate and was the only barrier that kept the seat from dropping into the chasm below. Though, it seemed as if things – creatures, people – were dropped from that height, for the mound of corpses in the room in which she was now trapped rose towards the middle like a newly forming mountain.

Looking into the darkness with the vague hope that she might’ve gained the sudden ability of nocturnal vision, Roberta picked out the top of the mound, the place where she’d found herself sprawled only hours ago. Perhaps it was days? She couldn’t be sure. The desiccated and mummified rat corpses that littered the floor of the room in their thousands made Roberta’s skin crawl. She allowed herself, just momentarily, to remember that her sister’s body also lay amidst the mound, Natasha’s sunken face being dry and lifeless. But she shouldn’t jump to conclusions, it might not be Natasha, it must be her sister’s doppelganger. It had to be.

Now, Roberta was huddled against the outer wall of the circular room trying to shut out the sounds that came from above her. A thin layer of dead rats shifted under her slightest movement, and though she’d managed to clear as many of them out of the way  using her feet, a few rogue skeletons still creaked beneath her as she sat in resigned devastation. She’d fumbled her way through the dark as her fingers traced the rough stonework of her tomb, but she’d found no way out other than the obvious; a large impenetrable door that was solidly locked. At one point there’d been noise beyond, thick gravelly voices and then a deep snarl that could only have come from one of Gathin’s gigantic wolves. If she stayed in this room, she was dead. But if she alerted anyone that she was here…..it would be worse.

A scream rang out again, causing Roberta to look towards the grate and push her fingers even deeper into her ears.

“What use are you to me if you know nothing?”

The voice wrenched Roberta’s gut as she recognised it as her own. The woman she sought to kill was almost directly above her, but yet so far out of reach.

“Please…..forgive me, my Queen. I will remember, there must be something of use….please.”

The man’s words were cut short and Roberta drew her eyes to the floor as she saw a shadow fall still upon the grate. There was the sound of light rain, as if a sparse cloud was fluttering overhead and giving the land below the slightest of moist dustings. She knew the rain was crimson, that it splashed the mound of carcasses at the base of the tower with scarlet. The trickling ceased to be heard as a deafening roar echoed around her, and for a moment, Roberta twisted her head anxiously towards the small door, expecting it to open with a loud crunch. Movement at the top of the tower momentarily plunged her into full darkness, until the roar was heard again and the grate was pulled back into place. Seconds later there was a sickening crunch as the tortured soul’s lifeless body from above was reunited with its lost blood. It landed on top of the mound with a thud, scattering rat carcasses and drawing the few live rodents on the edge of the room scuttling towards the centre for their newest meal.

Roberta wasn’t sure what drew her towards the body. Perhaps it was the morbid curiosity of seeing just what had been done to the man, or the chance to actually move with purpose from where she’d been stagnating in the darkness. Her fingers touched the revolting rats as she crept on her hands and knees towards the top of the mound, her only relief coming from the fact that the rodents she felt beneath her fingers were dead and not the living carnivores that seemed to have their beady black eyes upon her as an extra meal. She felt something wet on her fingers as she placed her hand down upon the gnarly head of one particularly gigantic rat. In the dark light there seemed little than black goo on her hands, but as her eyes squinted to try and determine just what the viscous liquid smeared across her fingers really was, she saw that the sound of rain had indeed been the splatter of a life force draining away. Despite appearing dark, black, upon her fingers, she knew it was the scarlet ink of life.

After a brief attempt to wipe the blood from her hand, Roberta leant forward and tried to inspect the fallen figure. He’d dropped in such a way that he was sprawled on the top of the heap, his arms laying at angles normally prevented in life. Here, his body was contorted and crushed by the severity of the fall, a limp wrist lying lifelessly before her. Such was the keenness of her eyes and the length of time that she’d been trapped in the dark, that Roberta found the light around her to be enough to perceive a diagram on the man’s wrist. She recognised it instantly, for it was the same symbol that Galdur had etched on his chest; the Ammokra. But Galdur, Roberta’s Icelandic gatekeeper, wore it to symbolise his part in keeping the dark from their door, to stop the curse breaking through to Earth and causing complete and utter devastation. Why should someone in Gathin have the Ammokra so carefully inked upon their skin? The man wore a long robe, the hood of which was covered in silver threading and feathers. A priest, perhaps? A Gathin man who wielded the curse that came to Earth every decade? Roberta couldn’t be sure, but he’d known something. Or, at least her doppelganger had perceived that he’d held information important to her quest.

 

Creature Characters

ImageWhen I was young I was obsessed with many creature driven stories. Many still make my shelves groan with their weight – The Animals of Farthing Wood, Redwall, Mossflower, The Dark Portal. They were stories that inspired me, that drew me in so deeply to their creative worlds that I couldn’t put them down. They were tales of fantastic creatures living in their own little societies all around us.

I’ve never attempted to write an actual animal character driven book – though I’m realising that perhaps I should – but anyone who’s read the Inside Evil series will know that nature is an essential part of my writing. Whilst some world-builders might talk about geological formations or towering skyscrapers to create their setting, my paragraphs are filled with trees, foxes or little bugs even if they have nothing to do with the story at all. In CRYO you’ll find birds flitting around or follow Ann’s wonder as she discovers the rainforest. In Pacifier 6, as Carl makes his way through the zombie apocalypse, there are still signs of the natural world in London. In Inside Evil, however, these creatures became so much more.

I’m a complete pantser when it comes to writing, and nothing is normally planned aside from major milestones and plots. I never intended fantastic Faithful to appear between the pages and become such an important cat. The Ammokra Arbor, with its glittering moths, spun its own way out of my mind and into the novel, whilst Elrick, and subsequently Montgomery, were complete surprises. Now, as I’m writing book four, I’m realising that there’s quite a cast of creature characters within the pages of the Inside Evil series. With good and bad creatures on both side of the rift, my zoological path and childhood reading seems to have made quite an impact upon my writing without me even realising it to begin with. I wouldn’t have any of these novels without my favourite little animal friends. So much so, that I’m thinking about writing a short story set in the Middlelands with Faithful, or his ancestors, taking the lead.

Who would you cast?

Hi folks! I’m still around, and working hard on the fourth Inside Evil book which has yet to be titled. Like The Tower of Souls, this fourth instalment is split between Ridgewood and Gathin so I’m having a blast getting back into all these doppelganger minds.

I’ve been having a few conversations on Twitter of late about casting. It seems that all the best books or best-selling series are getting spun into movies or television series, whether to make a quick buck or actually provide us with some real entertainment. Sometimes the casting is spot on, and you watch a show and are enthralled at how close to a character an actor is. At other times it’s way off and you’re left feeling a little disappointed. The most obvious bad casting for me was Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter. I love Imelda and think she’s a fine actress, but she was just too sweet for me. I’d always imagined Dolores as uglier, rotund and altogether unpleasant in looks and manner.

ruth fisherWhen asked about my own casting for novels, I’ve had a hard time. My characters tend to create themselves out of my mind and, as such, are not usually inspired by actors. The only contradiction to this is Valaria Carlody in CRYO: Rise of the Immortals who I always believed would be ideally played by Francis Conroy. Meanwhile, it has crossed my mind that Rebecca Mader, of Lost fame, could be a good possibility for the styled, intellectual and sometimes drug stimulated Evie Zianter.

In regards to Inside Evil, I often find it hard to cast Martha, Roberta, Sam etc because they’re visions in my head who don’t look like anyone else. I’ve had Felicity Montagu mentioned as a possible Martha, and today, another lovely fan said she’d always thought of Susan as Helena Bonham Carter. I know, odd right? But then I looked up a blonde HBC (see below) and guess what? She could easily play Susan Lingly and could create a very interesting take on this lady! This had never crossed my mind before but now I feel enlightened as a result!

tumblr_m8cs18VQFw1rwwixmo1_1280

It got me thinking; everyone who reads a book has an interesting take on both the story and characters. I avoid putting obvious characters on my book covers for this exact reason.

So, if you were casting Inside Evil, CRYO or Pacifier Six, which actresses and actors would make your lineup? Which books to movies have you seen where the characters were perfect or far from who you’d imagined?

Spirits of the Middlelands is here

Spirits of the Middlelands 270pxIt’s been a long time coming, especially for Inside Evil fans who have had to wait since last summer when The Tower of Souls came out, but Spirits of the Middlelands has finally arrived! I’m really pleased with how the story ended up, answering many of the questions from the previous two books, but also setting the way for the next two novels. There’s something for everyone – gin swilling Susan, Roberta and Sam’s close friendship and, of course, lots of Faithful (though he’s not longer the fluffy kitten he used to be).

If you want to buy or simply look at samples, then head to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or Smashwords to take a look. It’ll be coming to Apple, B&N and Kobo over the next few days, so I’ll provide the link on the sidebar as soon as they’re available.

So, what’s next?

There are lots of plans afoot, but the two major projects for 2013 are Inside Evil Book 4, and the second instalment of CRYO. I’m desperate to get back to John, Amity…even Agnes, and discover what’s happening in their new found world, but I can’t wait to explore more of Gathin with the Ridgewood gang either. Decisions, decisions. Both books will be completed this year though…so plenty of writing and reading to do!

Inside Evil’s available – FREE

After reading a gargantuan number of blogs about marketing, advertising and general other book selling ideas, I’d realised a few months ago that it was probably best to make Inside Evil free at some point. I’m not in Amazon’s KDP Select so I have no way of taking advantage of free days. However, taking point from the lovely Lindsay Buroker, I thought that I’d make Inside Evil free when Spirits of the Middlelands was published at the end of March…thereby encouraging people to try out the series without having to make a financial commitment.

Cover - smallSo, a few weeks ago I ran a tester, reducing my Kobo price to zero. Any sales? Fat chance. Kobo really is a non-starter for me, but the fact that I had a free book there and got not downloads demoralised me – A LOT. I decided that if I was going to give this a proper crack, then I’d have to take a stab at price-matching on Amazon. There’s no clear deadline for this to occur…it’s down to the Amazon gods.

Yesterday morning I logged into Amazon and found, to my absolute shock, there were 89 price-matched downloads. 89 people saw my book and wanted to try it out. WOW. Then figures started to climb, and climb, and climb. As of this minute, I’m #1 in free horror/occult and #330 in the overall Amazon free store. I’ve had 900 downloads (I’ve just checked – exactly 900) and I’ve sold 4 of my other books. Wow. WOW. This is on NO promotion as I didn’t have a clue when Amazon would price-match…it’s just spiralled.

I’m keeping track of my statistics and will write a more in-depth piece after a few days have run their course and things have settled down a bit. Unfortunately, at this juncture, only Amazon.com has the free listing as I didn’t know that I had to price-match across channels. I’m also not sure whether this will be a perma-free or a month’s promotion before the release of book three. But, for someone who has been selling only tens of books per month, and was seriously wondering whether people were even interested in trying out my work, this has been a huge motivator. I KNOW that there are a lot of freebie grabbers out there, and that lots of people won’t even read it, but the fact that over 900 people (I just checked again) have downloaded it, AND book two, The Tower of Souls, has started selling is a GOOD boost.

photo

Anyway, if you want to try Inside Evil out for FREE, head to Amazon. I’ll report back soon with more results.

Spirits of the Middlelands (Inside Evil 3) Cover, News and Teasers

Spirits of the Middlelands (1)As many of you know I’m extremely busy getting involved with the Ridgewood gang again. I seem to have left this bunch behind for far too long, and I’ve loved getting back into the thick of it with Roberta, Susan and the other cast members. Today I hit 40,000 words for Book 3 of this five book saga, so I’m just over halfway through and there’s some interesting developments occurring. You may all be wondering about the child at the end of The Tower of Souls….well, she’s a very important piece of the puzzle! There’s also some old faces appearing (Galdur and Vronny), as well as the story of the Ammokra and Gathin progressing nicely.

I’m aiming at an end of March launch for this Spirits of the Middlelands, so if you want to be the first to know when it’s released, then feel free to sign up to the newsletter.

Here’s a couple of dialogue teasers:

“Don’t bring them through here, Barry! Down the hall!”

“Like I would,” Barry replied with a grin, though he cast his hand towards the pristine carpet and watched as Martha’s eyes bulged when the wet trout tails dripped perilously close to her furnishings. 

“I need to know about the Middlelands.”

“It’s 4.30 in the morning,” Galdur groaned, his face still scrunched up, his hands tiredly wiping his eyes.

“I know, I’m sorry, I couldn’t sleep and I just thought you might be up,” Susan apologised as realistically as possible. She’d known quite well that she could be waking him, but Susan was becoming tired of waiting for answers to magically appear out of the air.

“I’m up now,” Galdur groaned again, reaching out of view and pulling a vest over his head. “Are you still guarding the portal?”

“I was a lot of fun in college, I’ll have you know,” Roberta replied as she allowed her guard to slide slightly and enjoyed a sip of wine. “It wasn’t until my little sister ran off with a sailor that I found responsibility.”

“He was incredibly handsome. I just couldn’t say no.”

“Not saying no is the story of your life,” Roberta smiled as she rolled her eyes in Sam’s direction.

I think those few quotes have a few interesting titbits to mull over for you! In more book news, I’m also in the process of making Inside Evil FREE in the lead up to the launch. It’s already listed for FREE on Kobo and I’m waiting for the price match to trickle across to Amazon.

Now, I better go and continue writing!

Writing circles are important for goal achieving and encouragement

There’s nothing like setting a deadline to get your work done, right? Writing is hard, and once the initial few chapters have been completed, finding the stamina to keep going can often become a nightmare. There are chores to do, work to go to, real lives to lead.  So, we set ourselves goals and targets to work towards. There’s NaNoWriMo, forum threads to add to every day to say ‘hey guys, I got 1K done today‘, and it does help. There’s nothing quite like a public announcement to put the pressure on. But, if you really want to keep going, you need perseverance and the help of friends.

Once you’ve published a book or two, the pressure starts to mount even more. With two books of my Inside Evil series out, there’s a rising need to write the third. I want Spirit of the Middlelands out in March. It’ll mean I’ve published five books in a year, and it’ll ensure that fans of the series actually get a new read fairly quickly.  But I’m a procrastinator, it takes a while for me to sit down and open that .doc file. Not anymore, however, because I’ve found New Year, New Book.

nynbThis fantastic little community of writers, some of whom I know already and some who are becoming new friends, encourage each other along with tweets, emails and a visual little stats counter. As I said, there’s nothing like a public challenge to throw down the gauntlet, but all too often NaNoWriMo and those forum threads can become just as impersonal as if you were simply looking at a goal Post-it above your laptop. With New Year, New Book, each time we write, we check in with Twitter hashtags and our little stats bar zips towards our goal. I’m three days into February and I’ve already written 6.5K. It’s going great guns!

Writing can be an extremely lonely experience, and though I’m quite happy being a hermit for most of the time, a few encouraging tweets and the joy of applauding for others is quite welcome in my day. If you want to find out more about New Year, New Book head over to the page and see if you want to get involved. I’m writing more now than I ever have done.