Tag Archives: Author

Author Interview

The very wonderful author Julie Northup has kindly interviewed me about my current work in progress. If anyone would like to read about my future Steampunk project, its main characters and what will follow, please feel free to click HERE. You’ll see why I’ve not been here so much. 

Thanks in advance

Richard

Advertisements

Outlining Tips & Story Structuring

Outlining Tips & Story Structuring

Each To Their Own

This is my latest post to aid aspiring writers on my Medium site. I hope you find it useful.

Every writer has their own unique way of structuring/preparing for their next novel. Some people go into great detail mapping every minutiae from basics like character eye colour to what that individual did fifty years before the story was even being told. Others, usually equipped with greater memories or such speed of storytelling they’ve written the thing without having time to forget details, never touch a book plan in their lives. These methods are politely known as planning or pantsing, (flying by the seat of your pants). I fall more into the latter category but do try to take pertinent notes en route. Either way, I say each to their own.

If you are a planner, the only thing required is a good notebook and pen, or a digital notes/outlining program. If you are a pantser, all you need is some peace and quiet in which to write.

There are, however, a few tricks to help with either method and a few good pieces of software too. I hope the two following lists are some help on both scores. Note: I have omitted some of the big boys like Microsoft Word and Scrivener from this post. The reason for this, is I for one don’t like clutter. I often find having relevant information outside of the application you’re writing on frees your mind when using it. This is a personal thing, but it is true for me.

Tips

  1. Recurring Characters. I write hundreds of short stories ranging from about fifty to five-thousand words. I enjoy them. But I have found that incorporating recurring characters into short stories, set free from the confines of their individual novels, can really give you as the writer a taste for that person. You may never use the story: does it matter if you enjoyed writing it? You may really like it and wish to send it out on submission: just change the characters names so they don’t interfere with any long form work. You may really get your teeth into it and wish to add it into the novel you’re writing: great, good for you! All of these are beneficial.
  2. Names. Sometimes all a book or a character within it needs are appropriate names. The difference between being a ‘WOW!’ character and a ‘MEH!’ character can be the difference between being called Colin or Cornelius. There are hundreds of name reference sites on the internet with pertinent reasons for those names i.e. Oxford Reference. Make use of them. Even knowing why a child is named after an appropriate god/goddess etcetera can assist in a story’s roots and overall believability.
  3. Tags. I was introduced to the world of tagging by a friend. They said that if you use software where you can replace putting folders of information all over the place, which inevitably wastes time in wondering how and why you put something somewhere, and replace this with simple tagging i.e. #John, a character’s name, you will never forget it. She was right, too. I always do this now. You never forget a story title or the lead character, but you may well forget why you put work in a folder labelled ‘relevant information’ or ‘miscellaneous’.
  4. Lists. Instead of writing reams of information about whatever, list it. Lists are quick, to the point and easy to read. Even starting details off with a list can help. NB. Many notes applications now include list making facilities just like iA Writer which I’m using now). Just have a go. I think you’ll find it helps.
  5. Ask. Never be afraid to ask someone you trust of their opinion. Don’t stew and ponder for ages on if something works if someone else can take a five minute look at it and give you an immediate thumbs up or down. Most people would love to help someone whose writing they enjoy.

As I mentioned earlier, there are some wonderful outlining applications available to assist writers. Here is a personal list of ones I have used and can recommend.

Outlining Applications

iThoughtsX

iThoughtsX is a multi-platform outlining application. One of the crème de la crème pieces of software in this category, you can do everything from full-scale mind maps to notes, to ToDo lists, and so much more besides. There is a learning curve, but when the software has been around as long as this one, you know you’ve time to master it.

OmniOutliner

OmniOutliner is available on Mac and iOS and has a fourteen day free trial. It’s hard to list all the capabilities of this outliner — it does so much — so I’d suggest clicking the link and taking a look.

MindNode

MindNode is reminiscent of iThoughtsX. I would suggest it is easier to learn and cleaner in presentation but doesn’t do quite as much. This is not always such a bad thing.

Integrated Notebooks

An often forgotten tool for writers are the integrated notebooks that are preinstalled on computers i.e. Apple Notes and Microsoft OneNote. As well as being very capable notebooks, they often offer indenting, simple formatting and reliable syncing. They are also usually free.

I hope some of the above information is useful to you. Whether you like to plan your way through every scene or just get on with the writing, you will almost certainly end up taking some form of notes on your project. Treat these notes well and they will look after you from ‘pre’ to ‘post’ publication. As always, I wish you well with your writing.

Richard

Richard M. Ankers

Author of The Eternals Series

The Eternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (Very Soon!)

One Should Always Say Thank You

I don’t want money and I don’t want fame. I would, however, like to be recognised for being good at what I do. One day, anyway.

Accordingly, I would like to extend an enormous thank you to (and you all know who you are) the many people who have written such wonderful reviews of my books. It is a constant source of personal pride to see people enjoying my words and then taking the time to write about them. To see people being so generous from all over the world Canada to Australia, USA to Germany, the UK and beyond never ceases to amaze me.

There is a lot made these days of how important it is for authors to receive reviews, especially so on Amazon, to help further their career, and nothing could be further from the truth. However, the reverse is rarely spoken of. An author should always thank people for spending their hard earned cash on his or her work, taking time out of their lives to read and hopefully review them, or just for spreading good vibes. I hope to never lose sight of this.

My dream of one day being regarded as good depends on you all and I can’t thank you enough for bringing me closer to it every single day.

Thank you again

Richard

Richard M. Ankers

Author of The Eternals Series

The Eternals

IMG_2713

Hunter Hunted

IMG_2714

Into Eternity (Very Soon!)

A Super-Swanky New Me

Med-Fina

Any of you who have read or purchased my books will know that I am published by a company called Creativia. The lovely people involved have just upgraded their website so that their authors and books are put front and centre. The result is the page that I had with them is now brand new and (as stated in the title) a Super-Swanky New Me.
Some of the publicity links I have received are now actually included on my author page with more to come. Accordingly, I would like to say a special thank you to Chris the Story Reading Ape and also Sally Cronin whose links are already being used there.
Please feel free to click HERE and have a nosey and see what you think. My book pages are clickable so you can peep at them too. I would be extremely grateful for any social media shares from those pages. These things are a great help to Indie Authors.

Thank you as always for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of The Eternals Series
New Titler FullSizeRender-2 copy

Writing Practise and Forgetting Your Work


Author’s Note: When I am working on a large project, I will often practise with dummy scenes and similar passages to those I will eventually publish. I find this an ideal way to feel a story out without worrying about it effecting the eventual outcome. The problem is, as with many creatives, your mind is so full of ideas that you prioritise the important ones and forget the rest. A case in point is the following short story. I hate to waste them.
I am collating a steampunk anthology — one of my favourite genres — whose main characters shall then appear in their own books. This along with The Eternals Series, which has just been completed, have monopolised my brain (it’s not big enough to handle too much). Everything else has slipped into a hazy past. So, I thought I’d share the following story here so people can see the sorts of things that often get forgotten, bypassed or dumped without even realising they’ve disappeared. This turned up in my hunting out another story that I’ve misplaced (yes, I am that bad). I genuinely hope you enjoy it.

PS. My Advice: Take more care of your writing than I do mine.

The Tinkerer


An irreconcilable truth, yet, nevertheless a truth, we were meant to die, not last forever. Eternity was meant for gods and monsters, myths and legends, dreams and imagination, never for the ordinary and undeserving. We were supposed to live our lives, make foolish mistakes, garner regrets and memories to be passed down through the generations like water to the sea. Yes, we were meant to pool in that oceanic basin called life, but never stagnate. We were meant for better things but never on Earth.

Modifications, they called them, modular adjustments, augmentations of self. The supposition was that a world without death might become a world without fear and therefore one without any desire for war. The warring nations of our planet would come together under one banner, Victoria’s banner, and peace would settle like the first winter snows carpeting the world in gentle sleep. Peace was an enviable utopia if it were the truth, but eternal life, mortality if you will, could not have been farther from that truth. I knew for I fabricated the lie.

I was an inventor, not a scientist, nor even a man of particular cranial might. My skills, for what they were worth, were formed in those steam powered machines that encircled the globe, and in particular Great Britain because she who must be obeyed — otherwise known as Queen Victoria — commanded it. The youthful me’s methods were formed from cogs and steam under the ever watchful eyes of such engineering stalwarts as Stephenson and later Brunel. If it sounded glamorous, it wasn’t. Filth and smog and oil were my medicines, and I hated taking them. So, I diversified. I tinkered, or so my mother used to say, dabbled with things beyond my ken, things that were better left alone. I left my work and retreated to the basement of my home to be seen less than frequent but more than seldom. Frogs were my speciality, my experiments of choice, as they were plentiful in the streams and ponds abutting our village: frogs in metal frameworks; frogs with extra brains stuffed in their tiny heads; frogs made to be not-frogs. Like a mad professor from a children’s fairytale, I fiddled and jiggled with the fabric of life and never once had a clue what I tampered with.

My parents did not take well to my work, in fact, they hated it. So I took my tinkering elsewhere, left the pile of stone and ivy that constituted my family’s legacy, my home, and ran away for good. I had no desire to have scorn heaped upon me at every turn, who would? Instead, I sought the quiet surroundings of nature, rural comforts, one might have said. I found them, too. Nestled away in a small corner of Yorkshire where a good horse was a greater prize than any of those new-fangled automobiles, I settled into endless days of adjustments.

I grew so good at what I did in those formative years, in my improving, that the local farmers actively fetched their livestock to be remodelled. Can you believe it? To me! I sewed extra udders here and there, grafted a pair of extra legs to this or that animal, increased a sheep’s wool capacity to that of a seeding dandelion. All knew my work by the white clouds of precious wool which lifted from said oves with the ease of blowing seeds from the dead flowers they resembled. There was no limit to my refabrications. I even crossed a pig with a Zeppelin to make it easier to move. Not bad, eh? Not good, either! I should’ve sewn up their behinds before allowing them the freedom of the skies, tethered or otherwise. Life was good. Life was easy.

My fame grew in proportion to the experiments I perpetrated. I say perpetrated because they should never have taken place. My mother had called me evil — I was not evil, I was good — but I began to see why she’d claimed it. A Mister Samuel Rothbarton, an owner of several Bradford Mills and a small island in the Caribbean, had acquired enough of a fortune to prize me from my arboreal bordered land to one of stone and brick. He refused to die and wished for me to prevent it. “I am not a commoner and shall not die like one!” he’d proclaimed. I almost believed him, too.

I had never considered the process of immortality in my tinkerer’s remit. Honestly, I hadn’t! You must believe that. However, I must confess it appealed to my bravado, my showmanship one might have said, to see if I might have managed it. I did. It wasn’t even hard. A few organs replaced, limbs adjusted, all with gears and clockwork minutiae, more than did the trick. In fact, Mister Rothbarton became more of a grandfather clock than the actual clock I’d stolen his parts from. He did not care. The cancer that had plagued him had no hold over metal, his gout ineffectual on an articulated leg. He showered me with all the money I could ever have dreamed of and never required. But like all greedy humans, once garnered, I wished for more.

I advertised myself as a man of miracles, augmenter extraordinaire. The population at large believed me. Eventually, so did our Queen.

Her Majesty Queen Victoria regarded me through heavy-lidded eyes, old eyes, and passed me a sheet of paper that merely said, I wish to be Immortal. She did not speak, not a word, and neither did her advisors. I nodded my acquiescence and was then dismissed to a small workshop adjoining the palace stables.

Things might have gone better with Her Majesty’s alterations, much better. However, live she did and would for as long as someone oiled her. I could do little about her exterior appearance, age had withered her, but her beating heart was strong and became stronger. She took to her new form like the bitten to vampirism, ruled with vigour and a literal iron fist. She bounded about the palace on strong-sprung legs like a newly walking toddler. And for a time, her people admired her that way, accepted her for what she’d become, and she accepted them. It did not last.

Victoria first pitied those doomed to die, then grew bored, then raged in spiralling madness at those unlike her, the unaltered. In a moment of sheer frustration, she had them butchered, every last man, woman and child. Not one regular human remained. Not one! Except me, that was, for I faked my metal appendages; I had no desire to last forever.

Her Majesty never allowed me far from her side — just in case, she claimed — but after a time age told upon me. Whereas she and those she’d had me correct thrived, nature took its course on my weak body. I claimed most of it by choice: I whitened my hair because I disliked black; stooped because it made the table closer, and any number of ridiculous lies. Ridiculous or not, she and her underlings believed them. Believed them until my heart attack, that was, but not after.

Victoria had one Ignatius Bumbleswick perform the operation, my one time assistant and general dogsbody. The man who I had always considered a prying fool was in fact an absolute genius. He manipulated my tools with a skill I should never have managed. Like Constable a painting, or Shelley words, Bumbleswick tore me apart and remade me: he made me exceptional.

I did not thank him or his monarch for gifting me renewed life, how could I? I wanted to die. I wanted death more than anything for I knew God would never allow me into the realm of eternal light after what I had done, not unless I remained untainted myself. That had been my hope, anyway. They stole my one chance of a pardon with an ever-present reminder ticking in my chest.

And so I persevered through the changing dynasties of the world, through Victoria’s massacring of everyone except those she wished Bumbleswick and I to maintain. Soon, although it might have been many aeons, one loses time after the first few centuries or so, few remained in a world too spacious to appreciate its worth. We congealed around London like germs a handkerchief as the rest fell into disrepair then ruin. Or so we thought?

They came from overseas. More beasts than men, the evolved and evolving, such a crush of feathers and fur were they that most Victorians — as we still called ourselves — gawped and stared in disbelief of what we witnessed. The beasts neither gawped nor stared, they butchered.

They saved me until last. I saw all fall before me, even Queen Victoria in an explosion of oil and flame, every human I’d augmented, every soul I’d taken. When a cotton wool ball of a creature tottered over to stand before me, I realised the truth. The creatures were the descendants of those I myself had altered. The ghosts of my past had come back to haunt me, my first tinkering experiments had returned tenfold.

Even then, I might have been excused, pardoned the fate of the others. They watched me through great, big eyes with the expectancy of children unwrapping birthday gifts. However, when upon closer scrutiny I scowled upon their unkempt forms, their ugliness, half-smiles turned to full snarls. They had thought me their God, when in truth, I was the Devil. They tore me apart by talon and teeth. I was glad to go.

There was no promised light, not even a candle. I lapsed into darkness like the shutting of a coffin lid on a catatonic man. In darkness I remained, my conscience trapped to tinker in obsidian forever.

The End

As Always

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers

Author of The Eternals Series

The Eternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (Very Soon!)

 

Genre Writing For You

Genre Writing For You

The Joy of Words

Author’s Note: This is my latest post on Medium. Please feel free to click the link and join me there.

Today, my wife showed me a video clip of a Jack Russell terrier playing with a balloon. The little fellow jumped up and down in sheer unadulterated joy without a care for who watched, who recorded, or who would discuss his outburst. This dog reminded me of why I gave up everything to write: I had to. Just like my canine sensei who had eyes only for that orange balloon drifting through a cerulean sky, I had eyes only for telling stories. A simple reason easily forgotten.

It is easy to lose track of ourselves in a world where we now see everything, know everything — so we think — or, as so many do, follow the crowd. We lose our own identities in the fabric of life that popular thought stitches together. I liken this to Genre Writing; we are stamped with a badge that says author of Fantasy, Horror, Romance or any number of others. In times where companies like Amazon have sub-categories of sub-categories ad infinitum, this is only exacerbated. I say NO!

What can we do about it?

Well, we can buckle to pressure and repeat ourselves for the rest of our writing lives, or, and here’s the thing, we can use the skills we develop every time we tap on that keyboard or write in that pad to twist things to suit. This takes me back to that lively Jack Russell terrier.

Perspectives

Fantasy: If I’d told you I’d seen a dragon jumping up and down trying to catch a ballon, you would have thought very differently about this post — mainly that I was mad, but that’s beside the point.

Humour: If I’d told you I’d seen a Jack Russell jumping up and down in a snazzy pirate’s outfit whilst balancing a bone on his nose and trying to pop a balloon, you would have thought — Aww, little rascal! If you didn’t, what kind of monster are you?

Science Fiction: If I’d told you I’d seen a Jack Russell terrier jump up after a kid’s balloon, vanish, then reappear inside it, you’d have thought — Wow!

Horror: If I’d told you I’d seen a Jack Russell terrier jump up after a ballon that lurched instead for him and swallowed him whole, you might have felt sad or scared.

I could go on, but I think you get the gist.

Conclusion

There are many ways to write up the most mundane of events. It is up to the author to choose what words to use and how to place them to both satisfy himself and in so doing, his readers. A wordsmith should never tire of writing if they’re provided with limitless ways of doing so — YOUR WRITING IS LIMITLESS!

Like that little dog jumping on the grass with eyes only for a balloon, you, too, can play and skip and jump your way to success and be happy doing it. Stay strong. Stay creative.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers

Author of The Eternals Series

The Eternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (Very Soon!)

Influences 1

Author’s Note: Today, I’m introducing a new section to my blog. I’m hoping people will find it interesting to read what has and still does influence my writing, as I’m pretty sure most of it will surprise you.

A little background: I have eclectic tastes in both literature and art. I like what I like. As I’m sure you can imagine, as a writer, both mediums feature highly on my list of influences. So, I thought I’d start with somewhere that incorporates both.

Today’s influence is JAPAN.

sunset-129503_1920

There’s always been something about Japan that’s stirred my soul. The country is different, elegant in a way the West is not. It’s probably no surprise then that several Japanese mediums rate right up there in my list of influences. Here are those stories, films, books etcetera that I will always be grateful for having seen or read. If any are new to you, I would recommend giving each a try.

On a side note, the characters of the Sunyin monks, the oldest holding particular significance in my books, would not have developed without my love for everything Japanese.

Film: Lost In Translation. My favourite film. If ever something was me this is. Not Japanese in the true sense of the word, but set there. A true exploration of a culture counter to our own. I love it’s understated brilliance.

Manga: If you love Japanese Graphic Novels, you’ll always love them. Ghost In The Shell, which is soon to be released as a major movie, was my introduction to such things. This was followed by Death Note a battle of wits that just keeps on going and finally Vampire Hunter D. All three were visual in both the art and the storytelling, so much so that I bought several Vampire Hunter D novels to essentially read without pictures. This leads me on nicely to my next subject.

Anime: I love Japanese animation and in particular the work of Studio Ghibli. Three of their films, even if some might claim them for children, would rate in my top ten: Spirited Away; My Neighbor Totoro; Howl’s Moving Castle (Based on the Diana Wynne Jones book of the same name). Ponyo would be up there too, but I never admit to it. The Japanese have a more subtle approach to animation than the West and their portrayal of children will always be superior in their perception and portrayal of innocence.

Art: Yoshitaka Amano. I so wish I knew if I could show his artwork here, so instead have created this link. Take a peak. Take a look. Take your time. Stunning! You won’t need me to explain why if you do.

Books: Last but not least comes the literary side. I own many translated Japanese works, but one author stands above all. Haruki Murakami is a master of his chosen art. I often think Murakami could write about the contents of a bin liner and make it a surreal masterpiece. Both Norwegian Wood and After Dark would rate in my top ten books and many more would rate not much higher still. I don’t think anyone can blur the transition of fantasy and reality like Murakami. He is unique. If I could be perceived in the future as even a quarter as good as he, I’d die happy knowing my work well done.

I hope you’ve found this interesting and that something might have caught your eye. It is a good thing to broaden one’s horizons, I think. The wider our range of input, the better the narrowed down output. At least, I hope so.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers

Author of the Eternals Series

The Eternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (SOON!)