Archive for » April, 2012 «

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 13

Anya sank into the dining chair. She shook with her shock and emotion. Her mind could barely grasp what she had been told. God had asked her to stay but not told her why. She couldn’t quite get her head around being asked to marry a man she didn’t love and give him children. Was there any point resisting, however, if he was going to insist?

For this thought, Anya almost hit herself. Of course there would be wisdom in resisting if God told her not to. He would make sure she was vindicated in trying to do only what God wanted. She did the only thing she could at this point: she got down on her knees and prayed.

Did God bring her back for this reason? What were His plans for her and how would she explain to Sherdan if they didn’t match up with his idea of their future?

She got very little answer from God. He didn’t tell her that it was why she was here but equally she didn’t get told not to marry Sherdan. She knew she wanted to start with the marriage part of his Hitchin’s second vision, if she agreed to any of it.

Anya got up and punched her pillows a few times. She hated the idea of being forced to do anything. The only reason she was in this predicament was because she had walked back at God’s command. She paced as she ranted at God.

It was His fault she was in this position. She had never expected to be locked in Sherdan Harper’s guest bedroom and be told she was going to be the next Mrs Harper, when she had left home in December.

It occurred to Anya that she’d also never expected to like Sherdan either but she actually found him attractive. However, it wasn’t her idea of wedded bliss to marry a guy so evidently controlling.

She sat down on the edge of the bed and cried. She didn’t love him but she didn’t hate him either and she felt totally lost in terms of guidance. This wasn’t the kind of decision making she’d ever expected to have to do.

Anya went around in circles, alternately getting angry and upset. She only talked to God to rant at him. Sherdan found her like this when he came back for lunch.

She immediately tried to appear calm. She didn’t want to make him angry at her. His temper was volatile and scared her. If he thought she would say no she had a pretty good idea of how he would respond.

Sherdan smiled at her and she tried to smile back but it came out as more of a pained grin.

“You don’t look so good,” he told her.

“I’m fine. I Just have a small headache. All this thinking.”

“You are thinking about our future then? Good. I was a little concerned you were buying time before refusing me.”

“No, I’m genuinely thinking about it, but that doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily agree to what you ask.”

“I’ve already said, we’re having a child. It has been foretold.”

Anya looked away and sighed.

“This is hard for me, please, can you not try and be nicer about it?”

“I am being as nice as you deserve. It is you being stubborn. I’m offering you everything and asking very little in return.”

“Forgive me if I don’t see it that way.”

“So you’ve decided to try and resist this?” Sherdan hissed.

“No, I’ve not decided anything.”

“You will be my wife, Anya. It is our future and why you came here.” She didn’t reply. She could see the look in his eyes. He believed what he was saying. Arguing further would only cause him to grow more angry and possibly violent.

It worried her that even if she agreed to marry him, giving a child to a man she didn’t love had the potential to be a very painful experience. The mere thought of it made her stomach churn. It put her off her lunch in an instant. She stopped eating and Sherdan looked at her with concern on his face.

“I don’t feel like I can eat any more,” she said in answer to his questioning gaze.

“Get some rest.” Sherdan got up and left her but she knew resting was impossible. She had a thousand questions and fears running through her head. What if she said no? What would Sherdan do in response? She didn’t think he could force the marriage. He couldn’t make her say yes at an altar.

There were plenty of other things he could force on her but she had seen his anger at the guard that had tried to rape her. She didn’t think it was a coincidence that he had rescued her at that moment but there was no knowing what he might do when angry now.

Anya turned to God again. She really needed his guidance. She didn’t even trust herself to make a sound decision. This time when she prayed she felt God’s Holy Spirit fall down on her.

It calmed her and helped her to remember God would be with her no matter what happened. Just as he had been with her in the prison cell, He’d be with her in her situation with Sherdan. He would also help her stay of sound mind. She didn’t want to develop Stockholm syndrome, though she wasn’t even sure what it was exactly.

She had made her decision finally. She didn’t think that God had asked her to stay for this reason. It made no sense that He would ask her to stay and then not confirm why.

It didn’t mean that marrying Sherdan wasn’t something that was part of her future but God appeared to be leaving the decision for that part of the plan to her. She was sure she wouldn’t give in to fear.

Anya continued praying on and off for the rest of the afternoon. Pacing often and enjoying feeling God’s closeness.

As she passed by the mirror, on one of the many paths back and fourth, she stopped. She stared at the mirror. Only her clothes reflected back at her.

She had to put her hands over her mouth to stop herself from screaming out loud but she couldn’t see her own hands as they passed over where her face was meant to be. As they moved against her skin she felt the chill of her fingers but still only her clothes could be seen.

Anya stared at the reflection of the room until she faded into view again. As soon as she could see her whole body properly she went up closer and prodded her skin as if she wasn’t sure it was real any more. She calmed her breathing down and paced again. Every few minutes she checked the reflection in the mirror but nothing happened.

She was still trying to get this to work again when Sherdan came back. She stopped moving the second he entered the room and stood like a deer in headlights before glancing at the mirror. She was still completely visible.

“I thought I suggested you should rest.” He wasn’t very happy.

“I wanted to pray.”

“You pray a lot.”

“There isn’t much else to do,” she explained, while trying to sound like she wasn’t complaining.

“You could think about us.”

“That’s what I was praying about.” Sherdan looked at her, hope in his eyes. “I’d like some time to get to know you better.”

“How much time?”

“I don’t know.” Anya shrugged.

“I’m not giving you any more time to get to know me. We’re getting married.”

“You can’t make me say yes to you if I don’t want to. We won’t be legally married.”

“You’ll say yes if you’re carrying my child.”

“I won’t have sex with you either.”

“I never said you would need to consent to that part,” he growled. Anya frowned but stood her ground.

“I know you won’t force me. You’ve already rescued me from that once,” she replied. Her stomach was moving around like a boat in a storm but her face remained stern.

“You and I are destined to be together.”

“If that’s really true, what is the harm in waiting and letting me get to know you better?” Sherdan didn’t respond. “Wouldn’t you rather I willingly walked down the aisle and willingly carried your child?”

“Of course.”

“Then give me some time to get to know you, especially if you think it’s inevitable. That means you don’t have to force it. It will happen when it will happen.”

“What if it doesn’t?”

“Then the vision was wrong and both of us have been spared from making a huge mistake.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“Thank you,” she replied. She wasn’t sure she meant it, but the hardest part was over. She had told him what she thought and he’d not grown too angry. He wasn’t happy but he wasn’t about to force her into anything either.

They ate dinner together having finally reached a sort of truce. Anya relaxed in his company and Sherdan soon cheered up again.

When he left, taking their empty plates with him, she went to watch the snow fall again. The snow from new year’s day hadn’t melted yet and now a fresh veil was forming over the footprints, snowmen and various other sculptures that had been made.

This was where Sherdan found her when he came back. She jumped when he entered. He had never come back after eating with her before. He joined her by the window to watch the snow.

“Are you not busy this evening?” she asked.

“No. I have some spare time.”

“Can we do something? I’m bored of being by myself.”

“Yes… If you’d like we can go out in the snow?” She looked at him eyes wide. He laughed.

“Can we make a snowman?”

“If you’d like. You’ll need to wrap up warm.” Anya didn’t waste any time grabbing a jumper, coat and scarf from the old oak wardrobe where she had hung them. He helped her put everything on and then took her hand and led her downstairs.

She went where he pulled her, doing her best not to appear to be awkward at all. This was a huge step in trust and showed he was softening to her.

When they reached the security desk he made her sit down, surrounded by the guards, while he put his own coat and scarf on. Again, she made a deliberate act of cooperating and putting his mind at ease. She twirled on the swivel chair, making everyone else smile.

Excitement was evident on Anya’s face as Sherdan took her hand again. His grip tightened as he opened the front door. She lingered just outside, letting the first few flakes fall on her face before following him out onto the lawn. His own front garden had a perfect covering of snow.

She didn’t hesitate in falling over backwards into the crisp white sheet, yanking her hand out of Sherdan’s in the process. He was about to complain when he saw her laying on her back moving her legs and arms up and down, shifting the snow out of the way as she did. She then held out both hands for him to help her up.

“Snow Angel,” she explained as she pointed to the pattern she had made in the snow. He laughed.

“It’s beautiful.”

“You make one.” Anya’s eyes gleamed in delight. Sherdan looked at her as if she’d suggested he do something really stupid before looking back at the snow and laying down beside the first snow angel. He mimicked her actions and then let her help him back up as she laughed.

Before Sherdan could take her hand again she had slotted her chilly fingers into the deep pocket of his coat.

“I should have got some gloves,” she said as if it explained her actions.

“You really do keep your word, don’t you?”

“Of course. Don’t you?”

“Sometimes, it depends.”

“How do you get people to trust you if you don’t?”

“There aren’t many people I want to trust me.”

“I want everyone to trust me… Come on, let’s make a snow man as tall as you.” Anya took her hands out of his pocket and ran off before he could grab hold of her. She heard him suck in his breath as he prepared to yell at her.

She scooped the mountain of snow off the low wall at the front of the garden and patted it together to form a giant snowball. She added to it until it grew too large for her to hold then Sherdan helped her roll it around the garden, careful to avoid the snow angels.

Elsa’s Reality book launch

My publisher Red Feather Writing has just published the first ebook by the amazing author Andrew Bellingham so I wanted to share a little about it. Here’s the cover and nice short blurb.

Elsa grew up listening to her father’s tales of a witch who nearly destroyed her home town. As strange occurrences start happening again, Elsa, Mama and Father are moved to a new home. The Man in Red says Elsa is sick and as she tries to get better she can’t help thinking that Mama’s temper, Father’s fear and their moving are somehow all her fault.

The ebook is so far up on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. Hopefully it will also appear on Barnes and Noble, Kobo (WHSmiths ebook provider) and Apple’s ibookstore within the next month or so.

Tomorrow, however, is the official book launch day and the author is asking everyone who would consider buying the book to do so tomorrow, via either of the two links above. The aim is to shoot the book up the hourly calculated rankings on amazon and get the amazon robots to kick in and help market the book.

I’ve had a fair amount of success with this method as well so I’d like to ask anyone interested in the book to also join in the launch plan and buy the book tomorrow.

Source Code: A Review

This film was lent to me by a friend. I’m not sure I’d even seen a trailor for it just heard about it from other people talking. As a result I didn’t have a clue what to expect, other than something possibly matrix like going by the name.

I will say this now, the name of the film is lame, whoever came up with it needs to get other people to title things for them in future. Nothing even remotely like ‘code’ was involved and it was definitely nothing like the matrix (though I can see why someone might have thought it was, it wasn’t)

I liked the actors, both main characters did a good job. Jake Gyllenhaal was different enough from his Prince of Persia role I didn’t find him too unbelievable or get any sand filled flashbacks to anything unrelated to this film, except for right at the very start but I think that was just because I’d forgotten he was in it.

Vera Farmiga’s role was similar enough to her part in Up in the air that I knew she’d be just fine pulling it off and thankfully she was less heartless than she was in the other film so I could also like her more.

The plot was reasonable, nothing fantastic but gripping enough I wasn’t bored. Without spoiling things the ending was so scientifically unsound I couldn’t believe it at all but it was a happy ending so I may just forgive it. Maybe anyway. It’s too early to tell yet.

I don’t think I’ll be buying it but I won’t complain if I’m bought it or if I end up sitting through it at the request of others. It was an action kinda cute film, the kind of film guys get their girls to watch with them and the girls don’t mind too much.

People who are just ‘good’ are going to hell

I have noticed recently (there’s been an unfortunate amount of deaths of people related to friends lately) that a lot of western people think thus: If a person tries to be good for their whole lives when they die they will go to heaven.

This particular thought isn’t something I know is often challenged. In fact it seems to be a widely held norm for a lot of people just going about their daily lives in the UK and US (probably most of western society too) I want to challenge this thought because it’s actually not all logical.

Yes it is the one thought all major religions hold in common. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus all think that being good and kind as a part of their way of life, however, none of them say that this alone will get you to heaven.

From a Christian point of view you need to be following Jesus, getting to know him and doing as he asks, which can often mean being good but there’s more to the relationship side of things than just loving people.

Jews believe that we are all sinners as well and to be given God’s blessing and the chance to go to heaven we need to repent of our sins and offer sacrifices. We also need to seek God in prayer etc. So loving people and being nice alone isn’t enough here either. Muslims are similar I believe.

Both Buddhists and Hindus believe something slightly different to the other three in that their version of ‘good’ isn’t quite the same but they try to achieve a greater purpose in life than themselves. To devote their lives to something else or they don’t get to go to their versions of heaven either.

So where has it come from that people think being a generally ‘good’ person is enough to merit heaven for eternity? I think personally it’s out of a sense of being rather selfish. Most people don’t want to follow a particular belief system. They think they are too restrictive, boring, meaningless in todays world etc. (Excluding athiests who obviously don’t think heaven even exists) but they want to think there is some purpose to their lives. Like they want the prize of living right but don’t actually want the restrictions that might come with it.

Another possibility is hope. It’s sad at a funeral and naturally people are missed when they die. There is the desire to see people again and the idea that they’ll be waiting for us in heaven and we’ll get to see them again someday when we too get our brownie points for being good, is a comforting thought in the grips of grief.

Is it right though? Can people really expect the Christian/Jewish version of heaven when they’ve not actually done everything the Christian/Jewish faith asks them to do in order to go to heaven? There are some people I know who would say yes, it’s down to personal belief etc. I guess I wonder at the reasoning behind only believing in the easy/good parts of something and not the whole thing. It kinda says I reject your version of reality and have decided to substitute it with a lighter fluffier version of my own. And since when is life always light and fluffy?

According to every major religion on the planet though everyone who is just ‘good’ and doesn’t add to that is actually going to hell.

Trafficked, The diary of a slave girl: A Review

Normally I’d have an Author interview in this slot but they are a lot of work and not always for much reward so I’m giving these a break for now. Instead I’ll have reviews for a while as I’ve been reading and watching so much there’s alot to share on that front.

 

Trafficked is a novella by the author Sibel Hodge. It’s short, to the point and is a fictional diary of a trafficked woman.

The book goes through her journey from before being trafficked to being rescued. It’s a great attempt in a very different genre to the author’s usual fare at moving people to do something about trafficking.

The topic has evidently been well researched. The author has many details around how the young woman is trafficked. Despite this, however, I didn’t emotionally interact with the book. Everything was a little too perfect. I didn’t feel the diary’s emotion anyway near as much as I was expecting too and as much as I believed the story I didn’t connect with how it must make the slaves feel.

Unfortunately I think it may have been a problem of an author needing to write about things they know to really impact people. I just wasn’t convinced the author knew what it really felt like.

I would still say to people to buy the ebook, however. I think it’s worth reading, just not 5 stars and definitely too short.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 12

Everything ran smoothly in Sherdan’s world for the next couple of days. Anya didn’t try to escape and all the plans for his organisation progressed. He put several measures in place just in case the mayor didn’t react favourably to their discussion in a few days. Sherdan also did a few more news interviews, mostly local, but each time they gained even more applicants to their program.

On the third of the new year Hitchin came to find Sherdan late in the evening. This was very unusual for Hitchin, especially without warning. Sherdan’s first thought was something must have gone horribly wrong.

“I’ve just had a new vision,” Hitchin said as Sherdan poured them both drinks. “Anya was in it.” Sherdan smiled. Just what he wanted to hear.

“Go on friend, tell me all about it.” He fetched a paper and pen to make notes.

“Well, you were standing at the top of a great flight of stone steps outside a very grand building. Anya stood beside you, though ever so slightly behind. She wore a white dress and was with child.” Sherdan raised his eyebrows but didn’t interrupt Hitchin.

“Then the vision moved on. You sat on a throne and were placing a small silver crown, that was a small delicate version of your own, on the head of someone blonde. I assume it was Anya, but she was bowed at your feet so I couldn’t see for sure.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes. The child grew up. It was a boy. He was being taught by his mother, about all the child’s abilities. She had one and the child had several. He was the first child between two parents with abilities.”

“And you’re sure of this?”

“Positive. It was just like the previous visions. Anya is to be the mother of our great nation. You will crown her to be your queen and she will submit to you. It even explains why you stopped the guards when you did. She is to remain pure for you and you alone.”

“Very well, thank you Hitchin. I appreciate you telling me this. It makes things much clearer.”

“What do you plan to do with Anya now?”

“I will need to think about that very carefully.”

“Of course. Rash decisions are not wise. Let me know if you have any questions at any point regarding the vision. I will do everything to help it come to pass, assuming it’s what you wish?”

“Of course. I wouldn’t try to defy one of your visions. Anya will give me a child and heir.”

Hitchin left and Sherdan sat for some time, thinking this over. He had hoped Hitchin would see something concerning Anya. Now he had to get her to see that he was following the same force that had brought her here. The same force that had helped her escape only to send her back to him, to be his wife, and queen.

She did belong to him, he had been right all along. He smiled as he thought of all the implications of Hitchin’s vision. Saying he was pleased would have been an understatement. He couldn’t deny that he found her attractive.

He had a few nagging doubts. It did seem a little too convenient but he knew Hitchin had never lied to him and he truly must have had this vision. It would just be a matter of time before it came to pass.

Getting up, he hurried to the security camera’s to check on Anya but she was already asleep. He frowned. He had hoped she would be awake and he could talk to her. Nothing else was in his thoughts except his desire for her. At that moment very little would have stopped him showing her their future in a very practical way.

After a few minutes of gazing at her on the camera his brain kicked back in and he went to take a shower of much cooler temperature than normal. Sherdan didn’t want to frighten her. He wanted her to develop feelings for him as strong as the ones now blossoming in him. He could court her with the assurance of knowing his success was guaranteed.

He vowed to let her know of his intentions as soon as there was a sensible opportunity. She would be his wife and wouldn’t resist him or anything he wanted.

Sherdan’s sleep that night was filled with images of Anya. The smile as she looked up to him at the altar and they kissed. The ability she might gain from the drug and, of course, the enjoyment of making their son. His focus was kept by this last part for so long that he awoke finding he would need fresh bed sheets. It only made him grin as he realised that hadn’t happened since he was a teenager.

When he noticed what the date was he groaned. He was snapped from his indulgent thoughts back into cruel reality. He hardly had time to say hello to Anya when he took her breakfast. He needed to help Hitchin with the new residents until the mayor arrived for their afternoon meeting.

Greeting the residents, however, kept him busy enough that he didn’t notice the time passing. There were many new eager faces ready to take the drug and start their new lives. All of them had signed the non-disclosure agreement before coming. It was just the first step in making sure the enzyme stayed a secret.

Sherdan stood at the front of a packed lecture hall and told all the new residents about the treatment. He had members who had previously taken the drug show off their new abilities.

There were gasps similar to Anya’s when James took the slide-show buttons from Sherdan’s hand from across the lecture hall. Nathan then popped in to say hello and introduced himself while not even opening his mouth. This talent achieved a round of applause.

By the time Sherdan had finished his warm up speech everyone was enthusiastic about having the drug. They’d been chosen by Sherdan because they would get excited. He left them all in the care of Hitchin and went back to his home. The mayor was on his way over.

Sherdan had barely finished lunch when the mayor was shown into his study. He offered his visitor a drink and seat before sitting down himself.

“Jeremy reassured me that you’re a very reasonable man Dr Harper.”

“I try to be.”

“Then you’ll understand that I wasn’t happy to find a large area of my city closed off to the public without me being informed.”

“I’m sorry to hear that you were uninformed. I hope someone has since corrected their mistakes and shown you all the relevant paperwork I filled to reclaim the roads between the buildings on the land, collectively owned by me and all the residents here.”

“They did, yes.”

“Then what can I discuss with you Mayor?” Sherdan asked, gaining the upper hand in the conversation. He wanted to be the one steering the meeting, not the mayor. For the moment there was an awkward pause.

“You do realise that although the roads are now privately owned, something I’d never have approved had I been aware, you cannot change them without attaining planning permission?”

“I am aware. The residents here and I simply wish to control who passes through the estates we own.”

“That is something I am meant to control.”

“As you controlled that incident with your secretary?”

“Is that a threat?”

“I just want to have my say on how the land I own is protected from the outside world. The people here want privacy. I’m merely giving it to them.”

“I do not think it’s healthy and will be doing everything I can to have your rights to do so revoked. You will be opening these roads again shortly Dr Harper.”

“I don’t think so. I have plans for this land, plans the residents approve of. I will only warn you this once. Don’t get in my way.”

“You do not have the power you think you do Dr Harper. Good bye.” With that the mayor got up and Sherdan had him shown out by the security guard.

He sat in thought for some time before he radioed the same security guard.

“Have the next layer of our defences put into place around the entire perimeter, as it’s detailed in section three of the defence report I put together.”

“Yes sir.”

“Also, schedule in a full program wide announcement for tomorrow evening.”

Sherdan spent the rest of the evening in the command bunker, ensuring that the plans for the next line of defence were put into place properly and swiftly. He was using technology that hadn’t been tested in any real situations yet and wanted to make sure it was deployed correctly.

He also wasn’t sure how quickly the mayor would have his claim to the roads overturned. Legally he knew that he was on dodgy ground but there was no going back on their journey now, the residents wanted this as much as he did.

Over the last three years several abilities had been combined to make an emitter that blocked anyone without the drug in their brain from being able to pass through. To anyone else the emitters would act as a barrier, sending the person dizzy as well as making it impossible to walk forwards.

Each little device only worked on a very short range because they weren’t electrically powered. The last thing Sherdan wanted was an electromagnetic pulse killing their best line of defence.

A large number of these devices would be needed, however, and they would need to be deployed so that there were no gaps in the perimeter and they would all need to be out of sight.

He had drawn up a map with suggested locations but it would need to be tested before confidence in it was necessary.

Anya was fast asleep by the time Sherdan finished in his duties for the day. He watched her sleeping on the camera feed for the second night in a row before heading to sleep himself. He would have to tell Anya of their future the following day. One day’s delay wouldn’t hurt.

When the following day dawned he rushed to Anya’s room with breakfast. He’d had a small table placed in one corner so they could eat together. She joined him at it and smiled at his chirpy greeting, but they only talked of inconsequential things while they ate.

He waited until she had finished her scrambled eggs on toast and put her knife and fork down. He stared into her eyes as she sat opposite him making her fidget uncomfortably.

He would normally be tidying up their breakfast things and hurrying to go now but he sat still. Now that it came to telling her he hesitated. Even with the assurance of success he felt a little nervous.

“I’ve had Hitchin approach me recently about you,” Sherdan began. Anya raised her eyebrows. “He’s had another vision of the future. One involving you.”

“He’s the person who came up with your prophecy as well, isn’t he?”

“Yes, and I know you don’t believe it but I do.” Anya sighed but Sherdan pretended he hadn’t heard her and continued, “He saw us marrying and you carrying our child. Not only that but you had an ability and as a result our child had more than one ability himself. I knew you were part of the future here but I didn’t know how.”

Sherdan beamed at her while she sat with her mouth open.

“You’re not happy?” he asked her.

“I don’t know what to say. I didn’t expect you to say all of that when you said there was a vision of me.”

“Say yes.”

“Uhhh… I’m not sure I can.” Anya couldn’t look at him.

“I’m not giving you a choice.”

“You’re used to getting your own way aren’t you?”

“Yes I am.”

“Well you can’t force someone to love you.”

“I’m not asking you to love me.”

“I’m not sure I can do what you ask without loving you.”

“Well I guess you should start thinking about that because we will get married and we will have a child.” Sherdan finally got up to leave. His excitement had quickly turned into anger.

“Wait, please.” She got up and went over to him, “Please don’t plan anything yet. I will want to think about what you’ve told me and process it. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t rush this.”

“You’ll consider doing this willingly then?” His anger dissipated in an instant.

“I will consider anything at this point, I’ve not been given any other reason by God for being here but I really don’t want to feel pressured. It won’t help me decide.”

“I will let you think then.” Sherdan bent down and kissed her on the cheek before going.

Pirates, An Adventure With Scientists: A Review

I was fortunate enough to see this film at the cinema and very excited as Aardman are one of my favourite film makers. They get a lot of respect from me too with the length of time it can take them to make each film.

The film started fairly well with a few titters from the audience at various points and mumerings as we tried to figure out who were the voices we vaguely recognised. Martin Freeman was our first one right, the voice for the Pirate Captain’s first mate known amusingly as Second.

Unfortunately that was where most of the entertainment seemed to end. It was a fairly standard story with a fairly standard plot and fairly standard jokes and gags. I laughed a little but not often enough for an aardman film and I felt my mind wandering a few times during the film to other things.

I was actually a little dissapointed when I walked out. I can’t decide if the film was really that good or not. I don’t think it was bad, I guess it just didn’t match up to my usual expectations of an aardman film. The humour wasn’t very…’british’ like it normally is and I can’t help wonder if aardman have been a little scared to do their usual thing after the fiasco of dreamworks dropping them because the US didn’t ‘get’ flushd away (which is in my opinion the best film they’ve ever made)

I don’t think I’ll be getting this one unless it’s gifted to me at some point, unfortunately.

How to finish writing a novel

Novels are much longer when writing them than they are reading and as such it can make them very difficult to finish.

I know a very large number of people who have started writing a book and still not finished. Some have even started several. For this very reason publishers don’t usually accept submissions until the whole book is finished. It’s a hard task, much harder than people realise.

Often the excitement of a new idea carries the writer through the first 10k words without a problem and determination can carry through the next 10k or so. That leaves at least another 30k to go and often a lot more. (50k is the very minimum for a book to be classed a novel but 75k is more like average)

So here’s how I motivate myself to get to the end of the book.

1, I plan out the plot and characters first. With a good idea of who the characters are and where the plot is going it makes the beginning quicker so you can get further than just 20k in before the shiny of the idea starts to wear off. It also means when you’re stuck you’ve got something to read through which jogs your memory and helps rekindle that excitement now and then.

2, I try to write a little each day. Getting into a gentle routine helps through the rougher patches. It’s very satisfying to get to the end of a month and realise you’ve chipped off another 15k words from that target just by doing a little bit each day. It’s always harder to come back and write when you’ve not touched a manuscript for a month or more. You’ve often forgotten what your train of thought is and can’t quite remember who the characters are and it’s always slow going to get back into the flow, not to mention detrimental to the flow of the story.

3, I never stop working at the end of a chapter. For a similar reason as above, it’s always harder to get started again right at the beginning of a chapter. You have to think over who’s point of view it’s meant to be from and where it’s got to get to. The plot can help with this a little but it depends how detailed your plot is. Mine only tends to be a couple of A4 pages so not enough for a chapter by chapter breakdown.

When I come back to my work and see the first three paragraphs of a chapter I know who’s point of view, usually what they are actually doing and often how they feel at that moment. It gives me a boost into the characters head to carry on writing as them.

4, I get the ending straight in my head and remind myself of it regularly. This is especially useful in the middle stages when a book can deviate from the plot outline quite easily. It helps give it a point to aim to and keep it on course so you waffle less in the mire of uncertainty.

5, I don’t let myself start anything longer than a days writing at the same time as writing a novel. Often this is the big failure point for novels. If you start another novel, or novella even, while writing one novel the first just doesn’t get finished. New ideas are always more exciting than the one you’ve been writing for 3 months now and can’t quite work out how you’re going to get the character out of the predicament you just put them in. It’s very hard to come back to an old novel once you’ve started meeting new characters and got excited about a different set of lives.

6, I try to write during my best awake time each day, for me that’s the afternoon and early evening. So in the mornings I do the other stuff I need to do like blogging, emailing and marketing (also typing up in my case as I write by hand). It just helps get that few hundred extra words each day and stops them feeling quite so laboured.

7, I recognise when I’m just having a bad day. Sometimes writing just doesn’t work very well and it doesn’t mean the story is sucking and the book is going nowhere so it should be abandoned. It just means that you either need to take a break or persevere through that difficult bit because the book will be all the more glorious for the effort. There are scenes I’ve struggled and had to really spend ages on to get them out and then had people tell me it’s their favourite part. Just because you struggle writing it doesn’t mean it’s the weakest part. Sometimes the extra effort makes it a gem within the rest.

There are also times when I’ve taken a break, gone off walking for the day or whatever I felt like and come back to the book the following day feeling so much fresher that I know exactly what to write. Occasionally I even get an idea while doing the other activity and come rushing back to my pad of paper and pen like a mother to her lost children.

8, I don’t usually edit while writing. I think about the sentences before I write them but I don’t go back and critique my work until the whole thing is finished. (I say usually because I’m blogging Sherdan’s prophecy and hadn’t finished it when I started blogging so for the first 10 or so chapters had to edit while I was writing) Writing something requires being excited about the lives and story being told. It’s very hard to remain excited if you’re pulling it apart and criticising yourself as you go. Editing often make authors feel sad about their work and while necessary it’s often easier to keep them as two distinctly separate phases.

9, If I’m really struggling and need to get more motivated again I go find someone I know who is enthusiastic about my work. Often this is one of my friends. I have a few in particular who love reading and never criticise me, ever. They know other people will do so and that sometimes I just need to be happy with what I’m writing. If I really can’t get past a point I start telling them about the idea. Just the act of telling them means I get more excited again and often by going through the plot to tell them I remember things I’ve forgotten.

10, I minimise distractions as much as possible. I often write on the sofa by hand because it’s away from the computer with it’s emails, twitter and facebook and all manner of other interesting things. If I have something on in the background like the tv or music I make sure it’s something I’ve seen or heard enough I know what’s going on and only kind of watch or listen to. For me the best thing is a period drama series or trilogy of films I can stick on one after the other and just play in the background, but if it starts to distract me it goes off.

That’s pretty much how I do it. Those ten things combined get me to the end of each novel and especially through the toughest bit which is often two-thirds of the way through a book until I reach that ending part I’ve held in my head. Everyone is different so try a few and see what works for you, over time you’ll develop your own way of motivating yourself and getting your writing done.

Mostly though you do need to love writing. Writing is something a lot of people think they can do. We all write emails and tell people things when we see them. It’s a part of our communication but writing 75,000 words about the same people and have it flow well, be interesting and be an enjoyable ride (for the most part) is a completely different ball game.

Category: How-to, Novels, Writing  Tags: , ,  One Comment

Author Interview: Anthea Carson

Tell us about your lastest project.

My last novel is called “The Dark Lake.” It is the story of a woman who is trying to overcome addiction and alcoholism. She is trying to get her life together. After all, who wants to still be living with their parents when they are in their forties? She is going to therapy. She is looking for a job. She seems to be getting better but she keeps having these nightmares. The nightmares disturb her so much that her therapist wants her to deal with them, and to try and remember what happened the night of the party, the night that was so traumatic that it might hold the key to her mental illness and addictions.

However she can’t remember that night. She doesn’t want to think about it. She avoids thinking about it at all costs. But then they drag her car up from the bottom of the lake. “Why are they dragging her car up from the bottom of the lake after all this time?” she wonders. And how did it get there in the first place, because she can’t remember–she won’t remember.

Your first book sounds traumatic. How did you feel writing those parts?

Actually my first published book was “How to Play Chess Like an Animal,” which of course was not traumatic but quite fun. My second book which was also published by a small publisher (same publisher) was called “Ainsworth,” and was a young adult fiction that took place in the sandhills of Nebraska, an environmentally sensitive area that has recently become the subject of debate since there was an oil pipeline set to go through there. How heartbreaking it would have been to so many people who loved that area and grew up there, as I did–growing up visiting my cousins farm there.

It was my third book that was traumatic, “The Dark Lake.” The second and third books in that trilogy was even more traumatic to write, and it’s already written. I remember literally curling up in a ball and lying down on the bed writing that one. It felt like I had a big steel ball of pain right in my stomach. I have never gotten pneumonia in my life, but I got a severe case of pneumonia that took me out of commission for a month while writing books 2 and 3 of that trilogy, and I’m convinced it was from the emotional trauma. I had buried a memory that I didn’t even know I had! I thought, during the second book in particular, that I was making something up, but it turned out it was a real memory, just buried, and it came up through the writing. And it certainly wasn’t the memory I had expected, either. The first book in the series, the Dark Lake was actually quite easy to write, for me. As I wrote it, I realized that I had been in the process of writing it for twenty years. There was something so…traumatic about my high-school days, even though they were fun. A friend of mine who was also part of that time said we were all basically like combat buddies, and that was what made us so close. We had just done so much, so fast.

Do you have any quirks to how you write?

I have to be inspired to write well. If I am not inspired my writing is flat. So to get inspired sometimes I need the right music, the right environment, maybe take my laptop to an outdoor cafe and sit under an umbrella. I love the rain, so sometimes if it isn’t raining I have an app on my phone and I will put on the sound of rain. In order to write I have to be able to imagine very vividly. Sometimes I go back in my mind to places I’ve been or people I’ve known and they become so real in my imagination it’s as if I were really back there in certain places or with certain people. It’s as if I could literally look around and see things that I couldn’t possibly have remembered, that’s how accurate my perceptions become. Some of the books I’ve written are from places I’ve been as a child. When I was a child I used to stand there and just stare at the things around me and feel the sensory perceptions of being there as if I were storing it up for future reference. I remember doing that.

You mentioned writing stories when you were younger, do you ever consider writing them now?

I didn’t have the discipline to finish a novel, and most of the writing was very adolescent, a lot of poetry and short stories. I suppose there were aspects of my writing back then that are still visible in my writing today. I used to paint, and I remember an english teacher telling me that I write like a painter paints. The main thing I did though, as a kid, was read all the time, and the reading is the thing that has done the most for my writing.

What book do I wish I had written?

That’s easy. T.S. Eliot’s Book of Practical Cats.

What started you writing, if you remember and why do you write now?

I knew that I would be a writer when I was very young, and I think taking in the world around me, and being so mesmerized and in awe of it was part of that, although for a while I expressed that feeling through drawing and painting. The reason I write now is because I think I finally may have gotten past the thousand pages of crap that everyone must write before they finally get good. So it would be a shame to stop when I finally got good.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

After I add the two other parts of the trilogy online or in published format to The Dark Lake, (which are already written) I will finish what I am currently working on which is a novel set in the chess world. I’m a tournament chess player, and am in the top 100 female chess players in the US. That world of chess players is funny, full of drama and tension and interesting. I’m going to set a love story in that world.

How do you balance other things in your life, chess playing and writing?

And parenting! My kids are 14 and 11. That’s probably the hardest thing to balance. The chess is easy, because I love chess playing, I guess I’m a chess addict. And my son plays, and is actually higher rated than I am, so taking him with me is easy. But my daughter has always wanted all my attention, and sometimes it doesn’t seem there are enough hours in the day. I find myself getting up at 3:00 in the morning to write. Chess tournaments are usually on the weekends, although there are weeknight tournaments as well. A typical chess game during a weekend tournament can last as long as six hours, and there are three games in one day, so there is no room for anything else, and my husband has to watch my daughter. My son will usually be playing too, and taking just as long as I do. During the week, the game has shorter time controls, so no more than three hours. I guess I have to squeeze the writing in when I can. Maybe just during the day when the kids are at school, or the middle of the night.

If you want to find out more about Anthea Carson and her books you can check out her facebook page, website, kindle boards or buy the dark lake.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 11

Fury raged through Sherdan as he stomped down the stairs. He returned his book to its place and paced his study for the next hour. Anya was so ridiculously stubborn. Couldn’t she see that he was significantly more powerful than her God?

When Sherdan had finally calmed himself down he went to bed. He wanted to be rested for the morning just in case he was needed. He suspected there would be a request for interviews from news teams as well. After all, it was not normal to reclaim public roads and completely seclude an entire set of buildings from the surrounding city.

Anya was calm at breakfast and didn’t make any demands. He didn’t stay long. Things had soured between them and for now she wasn’t his main focus.

Sherdan headed over to his command bunker as soon as he could. It was so early that he was one of the first people there. Rush hour was still a few minutes away and so far so good.

Over the next half hour his entire team assembled and waited in case they were needed. Sherdan sat down to await the events of he next few hours.

He listened to the radio chatter as the occasional person got aggressive or confused by the road signs. For the most part the guards handled all the people wanting to drive through without needing any assistance. There was only one occasion when the commander, Graham, had to remind the security guard to remain calm.

Sherdan was about to leave the command room when a phone call came through for him from the chief of police. He was quickly handed the phone.

“Jeremy, how are you?”

“Dr Harper, I’m very well thank you. I just thought I ought to phone to let you know that the mayor has decided he’s not very happy.”

“I thought all complaints were going to be handled?”

“I’m sorry. The mayor isn’t someone I can easily deal with.”

“Arrange a meeting with him for me. Invite him to come visit so we can discuss any issues he has.”

“Do you think that’s wise?” Jeremy asked.

“Just arrange it. Preferably for next year. As soon as you can.”

“Of course.” Sherdan slammed the phone down and swore. No one said anything.

“I want a background check on the mayor of Bristol. Find out everything you can about him and have it all forwarded to me.” Several of the people in the room leapt into action while Sherdan sat down again thoughtfully. After a few minutes he got up again and went to see Hitchin. As usual Hitchin was in his laboratory.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”

“I need to know when all our new residents are joining us?”

“First thing in the new year. The fourth of January for most of them.”

“We may need to get them here sooner. I’ve got problems with the mayor.”

“Hmm… I’ll see what I can do. How’s everything going with Miss Price?” Sherdan hesitated.

“She’s as stubborn as usual. I let her read the prophecy. I wanted her to eat and she’s not going anywhere.” Hitchin raised an eyebrow.

“What did she make of it?”

“She told me it had to be wrong.”

“Well I’m sure she’ll realise she’s wrong when more of it comes true and if she doesn’t then it doesn’t matter. She’s inconsequential.”

“Oh of course. I… I am sure that she’ll see the truth in time. How could she not?” Sherdan replied trying to convince himself as much as Hitchin. Hitchin could tell his friend wasn’t completely confident.

“Everything has gone exactly as it should so far. Miss Price is evidently part of this whole thing somehow, but I’m sure all will become clear with her. I’ve been having some snaps of something lately. There might be some more involving her.”

“Really?”

“Yes, It’s only coming in snapshots but something is coming through. I’ll let you know what it is as soon as I do.”

“Thank you.”

They then talked over the new batches powers. So far all of them were alive and showing good signs. Hitchin was already preparing for the next, larger batch. Sherdan left him to his work. There was lots for both of them to do.

The next two days passed in a blur of organisation and work. Sherdan had all the information on the Mayor fed to him. There wasn’t much to work with but he’d make the most of it. The meeting had been scheduled for the fourth, the same day all the residents were set to arrive. The Mayor had wanted to come straight away but Sherdan refused, he wanted more time.

Anya was still being awkward. He had caught her twice, trying to pick the lock to get out. He warned her not to keep on trying but he did not know what he would do if she continued to ignore him. Hitchin still hadn’t told him where she fit into things.

He still visited her every meal but they barely talked. This time on entering he noticed she was puffy eyed and stood at the window. All her bandages were gone and her face only had a few small fading cuts. Everything else she kept covered up with her clothes.

Realising she was upset Sherdan lingered. He just stared at her while she looked outside.

“All the snow has melted,” she said.

“You like the snow?”

“Love it, it makes winter and cold worthwhile.” Sherdan didn’t know what to say, “Are you going to keep me here forever?”

“I will keep you here as long as I want.”

“And how long will that be?”

“As long as I want it to be.”

Anya sighed. “I just want to go home.”

“You know too much.”

“I’m…”

“This is not a debate.” Sherdan interrupted and stepped towards her. He was angry again. Tears welled up in her eyes. “I guess your God hasn’t rescued you. Do you still think he will?”

Anya turned away from him. She shook and wouldn’t look at him. There was a long and awkward silence until he left, she continued to cry.

Sherdan ran his hand through his hair on the other side of the doorway. The girl was a complete pain but he didn’t want her to cry. He’d been doing everything he could to keep her happy. He’d given her her own clothes, a Bible, even the prophecy. He tried to talk to her and make her feel welcome but she always focused on leaving.

The schedule for the rest of the day was so tight Sherdan didn’t even get to see Anya at dinner. He had arranged a large new year’s eve party in the University’s main function room. He was technically the guest of honour. He instructed Anne to take an evening meal up to their guest and gave her the key just before leaving.

Sherdan didn’t really want to be part of such a social event but he did wish to create a buzz of excitement in the residents before his meeting with the mayor, just in case. Hitchin had promised to come to give him some light relief at points along the night.

The social side of the event passed slowly. Sherdan was preoccupied and although able to make small talk, he took no satisfaction in it. Anya had upset him.

Hitchin soon noticed that his friend wasn’t quite up to his normal standard of working a crowd and asked if there was anything he could do to help. Sherdan shook his head.

“No I will work everything out with Anya… Miss Price. Just keep up all the good work you are doing.”

“As you wish. Do try not to worry over her. She is here for a reason and I’m sure she will begin to see this project our way over time.” Sherdan just nodded as their conversation was cut short by another guest joining them. Very few of the residents knew Anya existed.

For the rest of the evening Sherdan moved around the room, making polite conversation and surprising many residents when he remembered their names. He was greeted with smiles and enthusiasm wherever he went. At least something was going right.

When it struck midnight everyone clapped and cheered. Sherdan swiftly moved to the front of the room to address everyone.

“Thank you all for coming… A new year has begun.” He had to pause for the clapping to subside, “This new year isn’t the same as any year before. We are on the verge of greatness. A greatness only made possible by everyone here.”

There were more cheers. Sherdan smiled and waited.

“Every person will play a crucial role going forward and I’m positive we will all do our part and make 2018 a year to remember. Happy new year everyone!”

Everyone cheered again. Sherdan had kept it short and sweet as well as being complimentary of the people in general. It had worked. He kept a happy smile fixed on his face as he went back to his drink and people began talking amongst themselves again. He wasn’t allowed to enjoy the excitement for long, however, as he soon got a call over the radio from Nathan.

“Sorry to disturb you Sir. I think Anya has escaped.”

“What! When?”

“Only just now Sir. I saw it on the security footage. She’s sneaked out somehow.”

Sherdan swore and walked out of the function room and through the rest of the building.

“Graham, The female prisoner who recently attempted a break in on our compound has escaped her cell and is loose in the vicinity of my house. She must be stopped from leaving the grounds. Mobilise all security right now.”

“Yes sir.”

“Let me know the second she’s sighted.”

Sherdan ran out into the streets and towards his home. He swore every few steps when he realised how much she could affect his future plans. She could also get him in a lot of trouble if she told the authorities about everything that had happened to her.

When Sherdan reached his home Nathan was outside talking on the radio. Nathan shook his head when Sherdan ran in his direction.

“We’ve not found her yet. There’s no sign of her.”

“Has she got past the perimeter?”

“Not that we know of, but she’s not been sighted. She only needs to jump the right fence.”

“Crap. We have to find her. Have a security team drive over to Bath and her house to check if she manages to get all the way back there.”

“Yes…” Nathan stopped mid sentence and looked past Sherdan. Walking towards them, completely calm, was Anya.

“There’s no need,” she said. Sherdan ran over to her livid. She stopped in the middle of the road, apprehensive at the look on his face. He grabbed her wrist, making her wince, then dragged her back into his house.

Although she did not resist, he still bundled her as fast as he could, acting like he had to force her. She hissed in pain as he accidentally banged her against the doorway through to his study and she tripped on the first step in his over eagerness to get her upstairs. Finally, he shoved her onto her bed. She pulled away, fear in her eyes.

“Nathan, find Anne and get her to bring me the key to the guest room,” he yelled into the radio. Anya curled herself up on the bed while he stood at the foot of it glaring at her.

“It’s not Anne’s fault I escaped,” she told him.

“Then how did you escape?”

“God didn’t like you mocking him. He gave me what I needed to get out.”

“No He didn’t. You’re still here.”

“I’m only here because God wants me to be.”

“No!” Sherdan flicked her dinner tray off the sideboard in his anger. “You are here because I want you here.”

“I came back. I had made it all the way off your land. God told me to come back.”

“Well forgive me for not believing you… Ah, Anne, there you are. Are you sure you locked Miss Price in after you were last here?”

“Positive sir, I double checked.”

“She escaped afterwards at some point.”

“The door was locked, I already told you, Anne locked me in just as she was meant to.” Anya got up off the bed and stood boldly between him and Anne. Of the two of them in that moment it was Anne that looked the most frightened.

“I’m really sure I locked her in sir. I knew it was important.”

“Very well Anne, the key if you please, and then you can go.”

Anna handed him the key which he instantly pocketed before she scurried off. Sherdan then turned to Anya who gulped and took a step back. He walked towards her and she put her hands up.

“Look, I came back and you have me here again, there is no harm done.”

“There is harm done. Do you want me to turn you back over to my interrogation team?”

“No and neither do you.”

“I’ve half a mind to continue what they were doing,” Sherdan growled. He took another step towards her and she backed up into the wall.

“Sir, you need to come see this,” Nathan’s voice said over the radio.

“I’m very busy right now Nathan.”

“It relates sir.”

“We’ll continue this later,” Sherdan hissed at Anya before leaving and locking her in. He went straight through to the security desk.

“This had better be good.”

“Sir, you need to watch this. It’s the feed from Anya’s room.” Nathan offered Sherdan the seat as he hit play on the camera feed. Sherdan noted that it said five to midnight. Anya was pacing the room praying. Each time she walked past the door she tried the handle, getting more forceful each time. Then, on the fifth try, the door just clicked open. Sherdan gasped.

There was no possibility that the door hadn’t been locked the first four times but the fifth it was somehow not. Sherdan made Nathan replay the feed several times.

“That’s not all, look at this feed.” Nathan switched to an outside camera that showed Anya walking right past the security guards at one of the road blocks as if they couldn’t see her. When she had regained her freedom she just turned her face upwards.

He watched her mouth move in a thank you that could only have been to her God. A single snow flake then drifted down and landed on her upturned face. She smiled and paused before going back the same way she had come, still invisible to the guards less than ten metres from her.

Sherdan sat back in his seat completely speechless. Nathan waited while he thought.

“Don’t let anyone see these or know about them until I’ve decided what to do with her, is that clear?”

“Perfectly sir.”

“Thank you Nathan.”

With that he walked back to his study. He would need to go see Anya shortly but he wanted to get his thoughts straight first. One thing was for sure, someone or something wanted him to know that Anya was there for a reason, not just because Sherdan wanted her here. He hoped it was something Hitchin could explain to him.

The man had told him he’d been getting snapshots of something new. Hitchin wouldn’t hear of this, however. Sherdan wanted the security of knowing Hitchin saw Anya as important without being told so.

Much calmer than when he left, Sherdan went back to Anya’s room. She sat on the bed with her chin on her knees. She had her arms wrapped around herself and she pulled her legs up even closer as he came towards the bed. She looked so frightened that it stopped him in his tracks.

“You’re safe… I’m calm now. I’ve seen the footage from the camera outside the room. I don’t think the door was locked properly,” he lied. Anya’s eyes went wide but she kept her thoughts to herself.

“For now things will continue on as if this incident didn’t happen, but, if I ever catch you trying to escape again I will not be as nice as I have been, do you understand?” she nodded but still didn’t speak. When he did not move but continued to stand in her room she fidgeted. He sighed. This whole event had set things back dramatically.

“I’m here for now, anyway,” she broke the silence.

“Because your God wants you to be?” Sherdan mocked. She looked away, her pain evident. It only made him angrier.

“I don’t want to argue. Can we talk about something else?” she asked. Sherdan looked shocked. He sat down on the edge of the bed as she wiped her eyes.

“I don’t want to argue with you either. You do need to stop trying to escape though.”

“Okay. For the next little while I won’t try to leave.”

“Promise?”

“You have my word.”

“Good, now we can move onto other things.”

Anya smiled though she still looked like she might cry at any moment. He didn’t think wishing her a happy new year was wise, especially as it had begun snowing again. They talked of trivial things for half an hour before she yawned. Sherdan left her to sleep. It was almost two in the morning.