A Little Peek into Katherine

The following is excerpt from my work in progress “Wilstell Ferry River”.

(Please forgive the dialogue not being indented, I was having difficulty with formatting)

Ronan and Able were waiting for Liora in their favourite corner across from the pool table. This was the best place in the bar because you could see the whole club. Positioned up the back in the darker part of the room they remained unobserved, Ronan liked it, he usually worked behind the bar and tired of the constant attention of drunken women.

“You can’t help it can you? She’s the only one under your skin and she’s just not into you,” Able said. He smirked as he put his boot up on the empty chair opposite him.

 “You don’t know what she’s into or who’s into her, you might be surprised,” said Ronan.

“Well, it ain’t her husband that’s for sure cause she never seems to be home, Katherine spends more time here than anywhere else, on the prowl I’d say,” Able replied. He kicked the chair knocking it backwards. “Where’s my damn woman she’s never on time.”

“Hey babe, sorry I’m late,” said Liora. She sat quickly beside Able taking his hand. “What you been up too?”

“Laughing at Ronan making doe eyes at 68 over there. She’s way too much army for him anyway,” answered Abel.

“Hey Beth, do you want a drink? Jack and Coke?” Ronan asked. He always called her Beth if anyone else tried it Able would have knocked them out cold. Liora looked at Able and got an acknowledgement of approval before she replied.

“Yes thanks,” she answered.

Liora watched Katherine as she waited, she envied how strong the woman was. She was an army medic before getting out and marrying the bloke that currently bored her senseless. Liora was pretty sure she’d been to Iraq or Afghanistan and seen some heavy stuff go down, because she had a tough façade that no one seemed to be able to push through. It was this solemn pretence that made her so attractive to Ronan. Plus, the fact she had a husband, he always wanted what he couldn’t have. She looked across at Ronan who was tossing a pool table token in the air repeatedly still admiring Katherine.

“She makes me think GI Jane Barbie whenever I see her,” she said to Ronan.

Ronan nodded still throwing the token. “She so pretty and blonde and sweet looking like something out of a Victoria Secret catalogue until she opens her mouth,” he replied.

“Yeah, she opens her mouth and you’re like wait its bitch face Barbie,” Able laughed. He stood up taking the glass from Liora’s hand and putting it on the table as he pulled her by the arm to stand with him.

“We’re leaving now, I’ve had enough, see you later Ronan.”

Keeping That Promise

I’ve been reading about the importance of a novel’s premise.

Often the premise is used as a marketing tool for a book, but it needs to be much more than that.

A premise needs to be thought provoking and emotionally charged with the theme of your story coursing through it. Your statement should only be one or two sentences and if it’s longer than that you probably don’t have a definitive idea for your premise yet.

Your premise should act like a promise to your readers and your story must fulfill that expectation otherwise you’re letting your audience down big time. Remember your main characters generate engagement in your story and make your readers want to stay. So, does your protagonist really have the depth of character needed to bring that gripping premise to life?

What exciting action scenes are you alluding to in those couple of sentences? Will there be murder, conflict, and betrayal? Make sure it’s there on the pages otherwise you’ll have a whole lot of unhappy fans, if their still fans at all…

For example, if a premise depicts something like ‘Our protagonist breaks free of her shackled existence only to find she doesn’t like the woman she’s becoming.’

The story can’t just be about a woman who gets away from her dominating husband. It needs to incorporate the theme that reveals the struggles of dealing with trauma after abuse, of a woman rediscovering herself and excepting those parts that might cause her shame. Learning to be comfortable with herself completely, the bad with the good. Our protagonist needs to grow and develop so we can enjoy the journey with her. This gives the reader what they were hoping for when they bought the novel based on the promise of it’s premise.

Does your novel’s premise ring true?

A Smile is The Sweetest Reward

Working in customer service for years, I’ve often found the most important thing you can give your customers is time, the few minutes it takes to create that feeling of human connection.

A sense of connection is a basic human need. Unfortunately for some of us we can find ourselves isolated and alone especially in our present time with the challenges we are faced with.

Some of my customers really need to have a chat and feel connected more than they need to buy groceries. I may be the only person they have a genuine conversation with all day and I’m aware how much of an impact the way I respond can have. I feel privileged to be part of their day and always hope I made their shopping experience that little bit brighter. Talking with them about their children, grandchildren or pets can bring the sunniest smile to their face and one to mine seeing the positive difference a little banter can bring to their entire demeanour.

I reckon a book can help do the same thing for people. It can create a connection so a reader can feel part of the story, be best friends with the main character, empathise with them, see through their eyes, and experience an adventure running alongside their favourite hero or villain.

I believe I owe it to my audience to put the work in to each of my main characters, so they have the power and strength to carry the reader high on their shoulders for the entirety of the journey.

And just as I believe that it’s an honor to work in service of other human beings, I trust I’m equally blessed to have the opportunity to build a story that might transform a life for the better, assist someone recognise a change they need to make, or that they’re not alone in life. My greatest hope is to be able to create a story that demonstrates the truth; that we are each challenged, we all make mistakes and need a little help sometimes and all of us have the power to change, grow and triumph.

I write for myself because I love it, but I write for you too. If my story can generate a feeling of connection and meaning for my readers, you’ll see me smiling a big bright sunny smile all year long.

So, to everyone I say, “Thank you”.  Thank you for being that special person I write for.

Can My Leading Lady Hold Her Own on The Big Screen?

When creating my scenes especially dramatic action-packed scenarios they play out like a movie in my head. I can envisage what my characters look like. I can hear their voices, the different pitch and speech patterns. Spending countless hours planning my novel, embellishing my characters I can’t help but imagine them up on the big screen. I don’t know a thing about screen writing or how different it is in comparison to writing a novel.  I still have my novel writing L plates firmly plastered to my forehead and find I’m learning new things about story telling daily. Probably a good idea to finish my novel first, before I attempt adapting it to script format. Still the idea of screen writing seems exciting and it’s always fun to dream.

In the meantime, I have discovered some amazing software, Final Draft 12, this is a professional screen writing program with a load of features and is widely used by the entertainment industry. I especially like the look of the Enhanced Beat Board and the formatting is to industry standards. I plan to purchase Final draft 12 when I can afford to and of course once my books published. 😉

Once armed with this great software I’m going to take a shot at adapting my novel to screenplay just for the fun and the learning journey it will take me on.

Can I even think of good Logline?

Subjugated by her first crush, Liora ultimately breaks free. Struggling to get back to herself, she realises her ascendance as a woman, discovering an underlying darkness only she can oppose. As events unravel in the sleepy town of Wilstell Ferry, will Liora’s fortitude be enough to save those she loves.”

How’d I do?

Beautiful Words but what do they mean?

Make sure your words suit your intended audience.

I love the written word and I like to find and use big obscure words to aid in descriptions of characters, places and events occurring in my manuscript.

Do my readers love this also? I’m oblivious but I don’t want to be. I want them to enjoy my story as much as I did writing it. .

I know each paragraph should focus on one main idea or issue, and information in the paragraph should disclose knowledge about the same concern, so the reader can absorb the material you want them to know.

Similar to writing copy, when writing a novel, you are trying to convey your theme or message across to the reader. It needs to be relatable and connect with them.

I think it reasonable to assume you need your content to be widely accessible for it to be enjoyable to your intended audience. If the reader needs to look up your word choices repeatedly to understand your writing, then you’ve failed them.

Of course, you still ought to be sure you are using the correct jargon if your character would realistically be “in the know”. If your character is a doctor, they need to know medical terms and use them, your audience might not understand the words but are likely to forgive this as it provides the character with authenticity.

 And my own pet hate; don’t overuse the same words because it interrupts the flow of the manuscript and it’s just plain boring.

So, my promise to myself….

If I must look up the meaning of the word in my story to be sure I have used it appropriately, I’ll most likely use an alternate word. 🙂

A Picture Says So much… a Book Cover Says Even More

The general consensus is “have your book cover done professionally” and think of it as an investment to assist with your book’s commercial appeal. My common sense tells me this is definitely accurate, but my creative side is making up book cover images in my head. The practical side is doing the sums of the money it costs just to have it published. Can I save on the book cover if I do it myself? Realistically are the savings worth it? If you’re not on the mark, you sabotage your potential sales and undermine your professionalism.

I have a few artists in the family capable of putting together some stylish artwork for the design. There is an abundance of information on the basic requirements for a good book cover and tips to draw your perspective audience to your work. Making sure your cover provides a sneak peek into the story and denotes the genre your novel exists within are important aspects to include. If you can succeed in having your readers connect with your protagonist from their first glimpse of your book cover, your ahead of the game. I think I can do all that but still, do I want to risk it?

I’ve been considering using Book Brush, its less expensive than some of the other apps I’ve investigated. From what I’ve read its not too complicated to use, has many features and resources. It can help you make regular covers; 3D covers and covers for digital versions. You can add text and stamps easily and search over 1 million free images. Sounds good, doesn’t it? I have a link to Book Brush on my page if you want to check it out.

I’m still early in the conception of my first novel length thriller, I think I have a way to go before I’ll be needing a book cover, so I have ample time to consider my options. I’m feeling inspired by my characters and their adventures to turn the images in my mind into something tangible. Being so invested in them makes me want to be as much a part of the book as I can but I also owe it to my characters to give them my best shot at having their story read. I don’t want our intended audience taking a little taste of the cover and turning away. I want people turning pages and devouring it…

If I have a professional do my cover and I’ve almost convinced myself via this blog post that I ought to, I can offer my sketches as an outline of what I want anyway.

If I do design anything worthy, I’ll post it 😊

What’s your experience, have you had a book cover professionally designed or are you not there yet same as me?

Cover designed with free trial Book Brush

Wilstell Ferry …. Home Away from Home.

For my book the town my characters inhabit is a knock-off of the town where I live but smaller. Different name and different people but similar landscape. Some of the places by the river I write about are comparable to places I’ve been around the river at home where I like to fish and go walking.

Wilstell is a lovely inland town, very scenic and spread out with the Ferry River running round its northern borders. There are many walking tracks and reserves in and around the river and some great fishing spots. Plenty of places to conceal a secret or two if that’s your sport.

The area consists of prosperous farming land and the town is rurally orientated as expected. It’s a very clicky place and everyone knows each other’s business, people are resistant to outsiders. Many people who have grown up here just want to escape.

The streets are narrow and the traffic slow, life’s simple in Wilstell Ferry.

There are many charming little boutique style shops with distinctively individual varieties of clothes and elegant homewares for sale. Knotted in amongst these are adorable patisseries, organic and Asian fresh food outlets and the big chain supermarket has its place of course.

One pub is at the centre of town for social gathering and evening entertainment “The Ferry Man’s Bar & Grill”. This lovely pub is where my story will begin. It has a rustic country kind of atmosphere, dark hardwood floors, a unique old teak wooden bar. Along the front of the bar, you’ll find a comfy barstool, soft leather cushions on black steel legs. Behind the bar the mirrored shelves are full of all kinds of outstanding beverages and the lights reflecting off the glass have the bottles appear like performers on a stage enticing you to try their contents. Often, they have live entertainment but no big names just the talent of the local area. Off to the side there are dining tables and seating with plenty a dark corner for a secluded encounter with that someone special.

Against this charming backdrop my characters’ lives filled with hopes and dreams, darkness and desire play themselves out for you to enjoy. Like any country town, its people have their shadows, fears, and mysteries but the Ferry River has the lions share.

Does your story feature a real place, something completely made up or somewhere in between?

Got some great characters I love… Now what to do with them?

I have four main characters in my book.

I have written several action scenes with each of them involved, one of these will be the final plot point. I also feel reasonably confident I know the hook for the first chapter.

The first plot point needs some work but is looking promising. What’s tripping me up is the first pinch point, the midpoint and final pinch point. The problem being that I can’t work on these areas properly until I’m sure which character is my protagonist. The main character I had chosen initially doesn’t have as much personal growth and self-awareness over the events of the story as one of my other characters. She has a good character arc but it’s a downward spiral and plays out in the final plot point. One good thing about her is her spiral is relatable. The theme is based on what many of us probably experience, maybe not to her extremes but relevant.

 Another character has a clear character arc of attempting to better themselves, to find redemption. The final plot point emphasises the characters profound change and personal growth and changes how others see him giving it more depth.  He is also relatable but to a lesser extent, but it might just be me relating to her more than him.

I’m stuck trying to work this out. My plan for now is keep going with the writing of my key scenes that I have ideas for and then try to slip everything in my story’s outline and see if I discover the protagonist.

Has anyone else had this same roadblock with your writing?

How did you solve it?

Is the first time the hardest ?

I feel like the first book is going to be the hardest for me.

There is so much I don’t know and so much I need to learn. How do I learn to edit? Do I pay some one to do that? How do you publish? Can I self publish? How do you stop people stealing your work or scamming you?

At the same time its so exciting……

I loved making my first webpage and blog, and it’s heaps of fun reading other peoples and getting feedback about my own. I joined some New Writers groups on face book, well let’s be honest I joined face book ….. I’ve found people to be supportive, and other peoples journey’s are so inspirational, it’s kept me going.

I’m listening to podcasts by successful authors to learn the tricks of the trade and reading advice on anything to do with writing. My brain has so much information crammed inside it at the moment, I reckon I need to delete every piece of useless information I have hoarded in there to make room for the good stuff.

So I’ve probably written about a third of my book so far. I started with what I believed to be the first chapter but it could end up the second. A couple of chapters in the middle and yes I’ve written the last complete chapter. Writing that last chapter some how lifted a huge weight from me. Because of that last chapter everything else is falling into place.

I don’t have much advice about writing your first novel, cause come on let’s face it I don’t have any idea what I’m doing just yet. But if I were to offer advice I’d say “know your ending.”

My favorite part that I didn’t expect to be so much fun and satisfying is discovering my characters as I write them. Sure I had a general idea of what they were like and things they would do in my story to help me tell it, but its astonishing when you let the story poor forth from yourself and realize, “Hey, I never knew that about them, that makes so much more sense!” It’s the greatest…..

Wish me luck finishing my first book, If just one person reads it and loves it, Ill be over the moon happy…. Even if that one person is me 🙂

Nights Secrets – Chapter ?? (Not sure where this will fit in my book yet)

Nights Secrets

Liora would wake, screaming choking in fear. That night… She could not shake it.

How could two brothers be so different. They both suffered the same hardships living with an abusive father and trauma induced absentee mother, but they were vastly different people.

One bitter and twisted, repressed emotionally and paranoid at every corner. The other creative with an inner light that emanated from within, nothing could capture or extinguish it.

But they were brothers and backed each other until that night when one crossed the line and went that step too far.

Lines had blurred in the past, but they had been in it together and what had happened had been more a desperate attempt to survive, not an act of malice or premeditation.  Albert had always been a drunken violent man, vicious and manipulative. He treated his sons and wife like property, objects to dominate and amuse him. Able being older got the worst of it particularly because he acted as a distraction for his father’s relentless savagery towards their mother Ursula.

The result, Able being drowned at the hands of his father in the water troughs, water for the sheep in the stock holding yards but Albert used them better as part of his deadly game only he and Able got to play.

The Child would be left on the ground unconscious not breathing and if Albert thought there was a chance of death, he lay the boot in, kicking him until Able coughed up water. The spluttering and choking sounds of his son enough proof of life and the game was over…At least for that day.

Their father regularly came home so intoxicated he could barely stagger in the door or make it to his lounge chair before he lapsed into an alcohol induced coma. A regular scenario that was the only space in their lives without fear.

On a cold winter evening the boys had come across the man in his favourite chair, his head hanging forward, vomit all down his shirt, the stench of beer filling the room mixed with cigar smoke wafting up from the shaggy woollen rug where it had fallen from his hand. Usually, they would pull him from the chair, so he lay flat on the floor to stop him aspirating his own puke. They learnt from their mother what to do before too many beatings had broken her enough, now she did not leave her room.

On this day though they left him, excited to use this shard of precious freedom to go to a party some friends were having down the road at Golden Meadows Farm. Although the teenagers had so many shameful secrets they tried to hide, often missing school, they were well liked by peers and teachers. Any time their father passed out cold they would tidy themselves up and revel in the happiness of other peoples lives, a diversion from the misery of their own.

After most people had left the party or fallen asleep and the fire pit was barely warm, Able and Ronan began the dreaded walk back to the suffering awaiting them. As they passed over the rise and down the old sheep track that led back to the house time ceased. Frozen in that moment, both seeing what they couldn’t comprehend, they clutched each other’s hand instinctively, feeling like they were the only two people that existed, now completely alone. The old weather board building, an edifice of childhood terror and absolute despair, that prison they thought never to escape, had burnt to the ground.

But this was not the same circumstance, Liora was innocent, full of life and hopeful for all that her future might offer. Able had no excuse that defended him trying to extinguish that sunniness. She lit up his life with a brightness he coveted so ruthlessly he was driving her away. The fear of losing her had driven him to act as he had, a tragic reflection of his father’s treatment of him.

As much as Ronan understood what drove Able’s sickening impulse, he could not allow it. He loved Liora too, although differently, as a sister rather than a lover, but still just as much.

On that night when he came to Liora’s aid after she called him hysterical, inconsolable, with a raspy voice, crying more then speaking and witnessed the after math of the evening’s events. He had no comprehension that what resulted foreshadowed the beginning of him returning to his old habits. The filthy shadow of his father’s soul, a seed planted in Able all those years ago had borne fruit. That distant life of keeping secrets, hiding his indignity and the shame he had left in the ashes of childhood, had caught its first breath eager to live again.

When Ronan got the call from Liora, He felt like a little boy again. Filled with panic and helplessness he jumped in his truck and speed along the dark abandoned streets to her apartment. The door was not locked, he walked straight in. Crossing the lounge room, he saw the light of the bathroom and as he approached the crimson pool welling beneath Abel’s skull.  Seeing his brother face down and lifeless, immediately Ronan wanted to help him, but that emotion shrivelled and died turning to disdain and abhorrence as he glimpsed Liora curled up on the floor.

Pushed into a corner against the cold hard surface of the bath, with only a towel haphazardly tangled around her, Liora was hunched motionless on her side. The white towel had blood spattered all over it. At first, he thought the blood was Abel’s but realized she had slashed her feet on the jagged pieces of crystal vase scattered about the floor.

  “Liora Beth… Beth, are you O.K.?” he squatted down gently laying his hand on her. She flinched and did not look up. “Beth please I need to know what happened, did you call an ambulance?”

     “No …. I want him dead… Don’t save him.” She coughed out the words in a muted whisper. Only now as she looked at him was Ronan aware of the absolute repulsiveness of his brother’s actions.

Her cheeks were flushed scarlet, he could see the blood on her swollen quivering lips, she’d bitten her tongue. Capillaries broken from the pressure of Ables grip, her eyes were frightfully blood shot, the right far worse than the left. Magenta stripes on both sides of her neck, again the right more so with clear imprints of fingers that left the echo of their mission, to crush the life from her forever. The bruises on her upper arms paled in comparison.

   “If you care….” She swallowed painfully. “For me …. let him die.” She gurgled and coughed again as she tried to say the words

   “But that makes it murder… you could go to jail” Ronan answered quietly taking out his phone and backing out the door of the bathroom, what he witnessed in front of him was inconceivable.

Pulling the door partly closed he turned away trying to compose himself. He had to make the phone call, not sure if an ambulance or the police was the better choice. He could hear movement behind him but could not stomach glancing back at that mess again just yet. Then he heard the metallic noise of something being unscrewed, and the movement of porcelain against itself. His pulse raced, his mind made no sense of those noises, listening closely to see if he was imagining the sound, he heard the noise of porcelain scraping again.

He rushed towards the door, pushing it open. Transfixed for a moment, startled by the site of Liora standing naked over Able, he was not quick enough to stop her.

   “No… No…  Stop it!” He screamed the words, but it did nothing. Liora standing holding the heavy white ceramic lid of the toilet cistern above her head, brought it crashing down on Abel’s chest. She crumpled back into a heap on the floor, spluttering and breathing loudly. He was likely dead now if not before.

It was in that second, he made his choice. Seeing Liora-Beth who he had known to be completely kind, always gentle and passionate, committing an act so intrinsically outside her nature, it must have been unendurable belonging to Able. When faced with an impossible choice of loyalties in that instant he chose Liora.

He would protect her.