Where Do Stories Come From?

Inspiration can strike at the most inconvenient of times. For anyone who’s ever sat down and thought ‘I want to write a story’, they’ll know that finding that first spark can be hard. Often, a lot of time is needed for that glistening of a story to emerge, yet more time for it to heat to an ember and once you start writing, and only then, are the story threads brought to life. Luckily, I’ve never been a situation where I’m sat at a blank screen with no idea what to write. I may not know how to start or, indeed, where’ll I’ll finish, but there’s normally a thread of an idea somewhere that’s been jotted down on a scrap piece of paper or stowed away in my iPhone’s ‘Notes’ app.

Having finished To Kill A Curse, I’m starting to think about what’s next. Actually, I know what’s next; a couple of freebie short prequel stories about the CRYO podmates and then the next CRYO – title TBC. But, if my mind wasn’t already filled with too many thoughts, I had another idea the other day.

I was reading THIS article and listening to the music below. The article talked about Boeing and SpaceX had teamed with NASA so that America can once again send astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from the US instead of having to rely on other nations.

It got me thinking, once again, about going into space. You know; Virgin Galactic is only around the corner. I got excited and enthused, before painfully realising that it was going to be vastly expensive and I’ll have to save like crazy if I ever want to experience a low Earth orbit. Then I began to think about what would happen if a married couple were faced with a decision; they have to leave Earth for some reason, but they only have enough money for ONE ticket. Who would go? What if it was someone like me, who’s always craved going to space but is desperately in love with their partner? What if they decided that one of them had to go; that they couldn’t both die in peril…how would the guilt of the survivor play out?

With all these questions spinning around in my head, I’ve now got another science fiction novel webbing its way together; just what I didn’t want! I’ve finally concluded Inside Evil so I can work on one series, and now it seems I might have two again.

Still, it’s interesting how the slightest thing can create that flicker of inspiration and set off a line of thought that, ultimately, creates the stories we now and love so well.

Talking Creatures – How Far Do You Take it?

I grew up with fabulous stories like The Animals of Farthing Wood, Redwall and The Deptford Mice. Seriously, these stories stirred my imagination and, I’m sure, put me on my own writing path. The thought that beneath our feet, all these little animals were chatting away and forming their own societies just

McGonagall might be an animagus, but her cat never talks.

McGonagall might be an animagus, but her cat never talks.

resonated with me so much. But, alas, we have to grow up (at least physically, if not mentally), and having started writing my own series, I’ve realised I’m not really a fan of the talking creature.

There are many books where language skills come seamlessly to the creatures living in our world. The protagonist happily chats to a cat or passing squirrel. I never think it too awful if it’s animals of the same species – it’s not too far reaching to presume they could have their own language. Alternatively, If my human character’s dreaming, or just glugged a pot of ‘special‘ mushroom soup down, then it’s quite allowable in their hallucinogenic state. But even in a magical world such as Harry Potter, the animals don’t actually talk – crookshanks never hopped on Hermione’s lap and gave away Scabber’s secret. Even those skilled in transfiguration to the point where they’re an animagus aren’t able to speak when in animal form.

There's plenty of creatures in Inside Evil...but they won't utter a word

There’s plenty of creatures in Inside Evil…but they won’t utter a word

Don’t get me wrong; my stories are FILLED with creatures; I can’t help it, I’m an animal lover. There are cats, spiders, wolves and all sorts in my books. They never talk though; they’re just cute – well, most of them depending on your feelings towards bugs. The only exception is in To Kill A Curse, but you’ll discover exactly how and why it’s able to happen.

I suppose, looking at it logically, I’m a hypocrite. If I don’t like humans and cats talking, then I shouldn’t like fox and badgers fleeing Farthing Wood together, or the mice and squirrels of Deptford drawing up battle plans. As it goes, I shouldn’t think I’ll be writing talking animals any time soon. The unrealistic factor is too much: despite that I’m writing fantasy fiction!

But when it comes to fictional animals, do you prefer realism, or are you not bothered when the family hamster starts singing Happy Birthday? Is it okay for animals to talk to one another, as long as they don’t start conversing with humans too?

Smashwords Summer Sale – Grab a Bargain Book

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It’s that time of year again; Smashwords Summer Sale. If you’re anything like me, you tend to read a bit more in the summer. I don’t know whether it’s the idea of sheltering from the sun under a tree or going on holiday that’s conducive to reading more, but I certainly grab a lot of fun reads at this time of year. Lucky for me – Smashwords are always around with some bargains.

If you’ve never used Smashwords before, it’s an ebook site where you can purchase a huge variety of file types. Buy a book and read the PDF on your desktop, enjoy the novel in your web browser or download the .mobi file and next time you connect your Kindle, just drop the files into the appropriate folder.

The sale started yesterday (July 1st) and I’ve reduced my entire catalogue, with 50% savings across the board. With Inside Evil free, that means you can grab the entire series so far (four books) for under a fiver. The CRYO books, and my zombie novella, Pacifier 6, are also discounted. Anyway, I won’t ramble on – I have the final Inside Evil book to write after all – so feel free to follow the link below and grab some bargains during July. If you’re looking for some more science fiction and fantasy reads, there’s a load of my author friends also with their books on sale. :)

Happy Reading

Grab one of my books on Smashwords with a 50% discount here.

Also find discounted books by these authors:

Kate AaronThe Lost Realm Trilogy (25% off)
Patty JansenEntire catalogue of Fantasy and Science Fiction (50% off)
Vincent TrigiliLost Tales of Power (Volumes 1-3) (75% off)
Chris ReherThe Catalyst (Targen Tales 2) (50% off) – The first book, Sky Hunter, is Free.
Deirdre GouldEntire catalogue of Dystopian (50% off)
Annie BellettEntire catalogue of Speculative Fiction (50% 0ff)

Competition Time

CRYO: Rise of the ImmortalsAre you an artist? Love to dabble with alien concepts and create new life? Want to win some Sci-Fi goodies AND get your artwork inside an eBook? You’ve come to the right place!

As many of you may know, CRYO: A Changed World has been completed and is undergoing edits.  This is the second book of the CRYO series, and I’m expecting it to be released at the end of the March. Then, very excitingly for me, I’m having my first ever blog tour for the book. But, back to competition time.

In A Changed World, an alien race make their first appearance and it’s time for you to get your thinking hats on. Using the information below, prepare artwork on how YOU envisage these new alien creatures. The best will be showcased here on my website, across my social media sites (G+, Pinterest etc) and the one winner will be placed within the print and digital copies of the books themselves!

PRIZES:

- One Winner will have their image featured within CRYO: A Changed World. They’ll also receive digital copies (in their preferred format) of books 1 and 2. They’ll be showcased on this blog too!

- Five runners-up will be featured on this blog and will also receive digital copies (in their preferred format) of CRYO books 1 and 2.

*NOTE* All entrants will keep the copyright to their images, but provide me with an attribution license to distribute artwork untouched. This includes sharing on social media websites and within the book itself. The winning entry will have a link to artists website from the digital copy (for print, the web URL will be provided).

Submission Details and Closing Date

The closing date is Friday March 28th. Please submit artwork with a subject line of “CRYO CONTEST” to geoff_wakeling(at)hotmail(dot)com. In addition to submitting your art, please let me have details of your website so I can link at G+, Pinterest posts etc to your portfolio’s!

Artwork Details

Now the fun bit! I’ve included as many details below as I can think of. Ask questions in the comments section if you need! And please, spread the word.

Physiology
 
-          Amphibian-like
-         Large eyes
-         No ears – just folds. Lacking hair – again, think amphibian.
-         Between 4/5 feet tall.
-         Three fingered, three toed.
-         A range of skin colours, from mottled brown and grey, to teal and silver. The colour of reflect their caste.
 
Clothing
 
-          Natural coloured tunics.
-         Their skin is breathable and has to be kept damp. As such, when outside their cities/vehicles etc they wear biosuits. These keep the moisture in. The suits are transparent but can be flicked to a dense opaque texture with the push of a button. However, they’ll often wear a body suit without the head component, slathering their face with a muddy moisturiser instead.
-         They use growing plants as adornments. Plants, fungi, lichen, flowers have roots embedded under the skin. These tiny pieces of flora then grow across the skin. Creatures are described as having swathes of silvery lichen up their neck, a cluster of bright flowers over their brow, or perhaps, fungi growing over their heads.
-         In addition to plants, they’ll use feathers and beads to decorate themselves.
-         Adult males wear funny flat-cap type hats, whilst the larger and taller females utilise long conical headdresses with adornments to make them appear even taller.
 
Environment
 
-          the creatures live in vast underground and cavernous cities.
-          These are kept moist, well lit and filled with plants; an artificial oasis.
-          Some architecture is on the surface, but covered with a transparent layer like their biosuits.

Time-travelling via cryonics

I’ve always been a huge fan of science fiction so naturally, when it came to writing, my mind was already inspired by the books I’d read and the movies I’d seen. One thing that fascinated me was cryonics; that is, the process of freezing someone and reviving them down the line. With current technology, though almost 300 people have actually been cryonically frozen, there’s no means to revive people. Even if they was, the damage done to their bodies is probably irreparable until some considerable leaps forward in bioengineering or nanomedicine are made.

One of the fantastic things about writing science fiction is that you can take a current technology and jump forward in time with it, letting your mind go wild about where a new technological breakthrough might lead. The use of cryonics has found popularity in mainstream entertainment, but I always found the process of actually ‘waking up’ a little too, well, ordinary. After all, this is a process where people are literally frozen into stasis. Why is it then, that when it’s often shown in movies, people just wake from ‘hyper-sleep’ a little too easily?

There are many cases where cryonics is used; Alien, Avatar and Star Wars immediately spring to mind. At least Han Solo woke with a bit of temporary blindness. It’s been used in television too, with Star Trek, Dr Who, Lost in Space, even the Golden Girls, all featuring the process. It’s something that continues to fascinate people. It’s also a process that allows time to pass without individuals have to age at all. Though, of course, that brings all sorts of time issues into play too; stay asleep long enough – whilst you go off on a mining expedition, for example – and you wind up being younger than your grandchild.

CRYO200pxWhen it came to writing CRYO; Rise of the Immortals, I was very aware that I didn’t want waking from cryonic sleep to be easy. Far from it. I wanted it to be incredibly painful and disorientating. I wanted to put people in a position where they thought twice about travelling to the future by having their bodily fluid drained and their cells frozen. Matters are made even worse when there’s a complete lack of personnel to help my characters acclimatise themselves. But that gives the story drive, provides yet another hurdle for my protagonist, John, to overcome.

Everyone’s take on cryonics is a little different, and all too often, the process is simply used as a means to get characters from A to B. And, yes, I’m guilty of that too; my 50 CRYO candidates go into the cryonics program to do exactly that, move from one period of time to another. But sometimes it’s these tiny details that can be embellished to create entirely new stories. My inspirational moment of ‘what if waking up from hyper-sleep wasn’t easy?’ has spawned an entire series. And I’ll make it no secret that I drew inspiration from my favourite shows, movies and books.

Cryonics is so often overlooked as a vital time-travelling method. It’s not instant, apart for those who are frozen, but it is time travel depending on how you view it. And, I’m sure, as the years go on and further technological advances are made, cryonics, like everything else, will evolve in the way it’s portrayed.

A new novel for NaNoWriMo

Oh, NaNoWriMo (that’s National Novel Writing Month for those who don’t know). Every November, writers around the world grow beards, lose contact with loved ones and become smelly because they don’t have time to wash; all in the bid to get 50,000 words down in just one month. It’s an epic challenge, and one that, sadly, I’ve never managed to complete. However, with November rearing its head next week and another novel to get on the road, I’ve decidedly to participate this year.

As you’ll have seen in my previous post, I’ve made some changes to CRYO; Rise of the Immortals. That’s mostly because I’m about to start writing CRYO; A Changed World. I left my cast of characters perilously trying to survive in a new and alien world after winning a place on a cryonics scheme. It’s about time I got back to them. I really want to get the sequel written by mid-January at the latest so my editor has a good six weeks – aiming for a publication date at the end of Feb 2014. With the first installment being just over 100,000k and the next at least that, I need a kick start, and NaNoWriMo is perfect.

I’ll be adding a little widget to the sidebar in a moment so regular visitors can track my progress. I also have a profile over at the official website. And, if you’re a writer and so inclined, feel free to add me as a buddy too so we can spur each other on!

Inside Evil Book 4 – Cover, Title and Blurb Reveal

I know, I’ve been banging on about it for weeks, but I can finally reveal that the new Inside Evil book is called New Alliances. This novel was an absolute blast to write. I loved getting back into Gathin, explaining some of the intricate details of the curse and the world where it came from and getting the gang back together. My editor is currently about 60% of the way through the work, so I’m hoping New Alliances will be published before the end of the month! Then there’ll only be one book left to write to wrap this series up!

New Alliances

Blurb: 

When Roberta was infected with a curse, she never realised the hidden world waiting for her. Ridgewood was a quiet and slumbering town, but it seemed there was a great menace waiting in every shadow. With the initial horror having been abated, Roberta’s cast back to another realm where it’s quickly apparent that forces of doppelgangers are waiting to break through to Earth.

But Roberta’s not alone, and there are many friends left behind who are still fighting. Whilst the gatekeepers fight to uncover secrets and develop a plan to protect themselves, new alliances are forged. And, with new and unexpected allegiances created, the protectors of Earth are finally realising that there’s more than one war being fought.

So, what’s next on my plate? I’ve now started work on the sequel to CRYO; Rise of the Immortals which also has a new cover and blurb – take a look. I left John and his escapees at a precarious point, and I’m eager to find out what their new world has in store for them. I’m going to write as many words as I can for NaNoWriMo and then finish it (hopefully) during December with the aim for a late Jan/early Feb release.

Then I’ll go straight back to Inside Evil to write the final tale to this series. I’m excited and quite sad about that – Inside Evil was the first book I ever wrote and it’s been with me for a LONG time. But it’s time to wrap everything up! So, lots to do!

 

EDIT – I forgot to mention; before the Inside Evil Book 5 release I’ll be offering a competition. I’m still drawing up the exact details, but prizes will include paperback copies of the series, ARC copies of the fifth book and the chance to get YOUR ideas into the pages of the final instalment.