Tag Archives: Writer’sLife

April/May Author Update

April/May Author Update

Hi everyone!

Here at last with a cup half full – half empty type update. The reason for my being so late to post in April was I was hanging on for some news to give you, which is still on hold. The May news, however, has come early. So here I am, betwixt and between.

Needless to say, the last few months have been a hectic blur of writing and editing. The Theatre of the Moon is still undergoing some renovations, but looks like being a classy joint, or so the proprietor, La Contessa D’argento informs me. Fingers crossed. A little side project I’ve been scribbling whilst drinking my morning coffee has just hit thirty thousand words, and several more are all doing well. It’s always good to have a variety of things to work on. That way I have no excuse not to write — not that I need one. As regards general info, here we go.

The Eternals has just been translated and released in Spanish. Good of them to tell me! Unless they did, and I didn’t understand what they meant?

Speaking of The Eternals, Hunter Hunted, Book 2 in the series, is being promoted for four days by my publisher. You can snaffle yourself a free Kindle copy from April 24th – April 28th – that’s from today.

On side news, I’m delighted to have a short piece placed in issue 19 of Bunbury Magazine (out anytime now) called The Longest Fall. The Bunbury Magazine is an Arts and Literature magazine that I can highly recommend reading. You’ll enjoy it.

Also, I was honoured to be asked to write a recommendation for a lovely young lady called Soumya Mishra, someone I’m sure we’ll all here a lot of in the future. Soumya informed me last week that she’s been accepted for The University of Sydney, (Australia,) so a big literary congratulations to her. In a world where we hear nothing but doom and gloom it’s great to see young folk getting themselves out there for the right reasons.

That’s about all for now. I wish you all a great, and hopefully, warm May.

Richard

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The Big Cover Reveal

Today is the big day. 

At long last I can reveal the new covers for The Eternals Series and the news that INTO ETERNITY will be released in the next few days. I’ll do a post with all the appropriate release codes etcetera as soon as it goes live. For now, however, I present the new covers in reverse order. I hope you all like them as much as me because I think they’re perfect.

BOOK 3: INTO ETERNITY

Book 2: HUNTER HUNTED


Book 1: THE ETERNALS


Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers

Author of The Eternals Series

The Eternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (A few days away!)

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

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!)

Cocoa Lagoons

My Mornings

I’m reclining in a cocoa lagoon where the natives all wear the same clothing and the colours never change. I like it here in this snippet of another world, my personal escape.

I breathe. I write.

The sound of grinding coffee is not a vexation but a soothing balm. Here, people talk as though in dreams and Venice accepts them with open arms, and an open cash register. I prefer my privacy but somehow am less disturbed by this than I am the Prefab Sprout that slips from the speakers.

I breathe. I write.

I talk to the girls behind the counter in a way I otherwise could not and would not and try to smile back. The irony, one is Italian, a Venetian, and I wonder if my dream is solidifying. I hope not. I like this dreamscape too much for it to become real.

I breathe. I write.

My time comes to an end. Social media has been answered, words written, and the routine I love and crave beckons though it seems a continent away. But I won’t run, not today. I choose another route, a smile playing across my face. I’ll take a gondola across these cocoa lagoons to remind me of my time here.

I breathe. I breathe. I breathe.

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!)

 

Alternate Writing Resources

Alternate Writing Resources

There’s Always Help Available

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

I think all writers (me included) have a tendency to complicate things overthinking what, how, why and where we write instead of just picking up a pen or tapping on a keyboard. We cogitate over so many variables with our already overstimulated minds (I blame coffee) that we sometimes neglect the simple things. When all is said and done, we only need one writing app be it Scrivener, Microsoft Word, Pages, Storyist, Google Docs etcetera, etcetera, often overlooking the more statutory writing resources available. Here is a collection of apps and sites that I hope might genuinely (damn, an adverb) assist fledgling writers. The more experienced, too.

Dictionary.com

There are many good dictionaries online and as apps but Dictionary.com is a double-barrelled bonus. Available as both a website and dual app, inclusive of thesaurus.com, it is essential to a writers arsenal.Such a useful fallback when one forgets how to spoll, spall, spell, a writer should never be ashamed to check the spelling or correct usage of a word.

Howmanysyllables.com

How many syllables, spelled as one word, is a sight with one simple purpose to count the syllables we might be unsure of or run out of fingers for. A very good aid for those who write poetry such as haiku, shadorma, tanka, etcetera (four syllables) and need to be sure of their syllable counts.

Hemingwayapp.com

In previous posts, I’ve talked of my love for Prowritingaid and Grammarly. However, there is another kid on the block which is more app-like in presentation. Available on the web or as a download, Hemingway presents the writer with a canvas to write on and then have checked for possible improvements. I would recommend trying this out in the same way I would my favoured two. If such devices/resources correct or help to correct even one mistake, they’re worth using.

Google Translate

Have you always wanted to add a little ’un petit quelque chose de plus’ a little something extra (according to the item in question). Google translate is available like all Google products on the web, but also as an app. It’s free, so give it a spin. Authenticity is priceless in text.

Wikipedia

We all know it. Or do we? I dare anyone to admit not knowing Wikipedia or even having visited it for one reason or another. But if you take it for a real spin (I use a lovely app called V for Wikipedia) you can soon use it for so much more than you’d think: colour options; geographical exactness; history; people, and the list goes on. Bookmark it and take it for a ride, it’ll soon eat up the hours.

Text Compare!

Text-compare.com opens as a dual pane editor for you to paste two lots of text in. The site will compare them and highlight the differences, What use is that? I hear you shout. Well, many apps these days save version histories (especially Dropbox and iCloud writing apps,) which you can browse. You might not even remember some of the changes but looking at them might make you think ooh, that was good! Being able to compare two side by side won’t be an everyday occurrence but it might help every now and again.

Last of all, something different.

Alternativeto.net. If you’re looking for software but don’t know where to start, or perhaps only know of one option, try this site. If you type an app or software name into its search bar, it will list more alternatives than your can shake a stick at. These can be filtered to your heart’s content.

As always, I hope something here assists your written work.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers

Author of The Eternals Series

The Eternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (Very Soon!)