Blog Tour: Beyond The Wail

BeyondTheWail What is it about fear and the unknown that pulls so passionately at the human heart? Perhaps we are drawn not to the darkness itself, but to the resolution, the overcoming of what we most deeply dread. After all, the more terrible the struggle, the greater the victory when it comes at last. Presented in this anthology are twelve remarkable stories of the darkness that overshadows us, and the resolution that may be found beyond them. They are stories of fear and oppression, but ultimately stories of hope, stories that will take you BEYOND THE WAIL.

Everyone, meet Tirzah Duncan: NaNoWriMo enthusiast, headgear-wearer and knife-fighting-expert.

Tirzah Duncan is one of the 12 authors featured in the brand new BEYOND THE WAIL anthology. OF MICE AND MONSTERS, Tirzah’s contribution, follows Benjamin, whose attempts to help his timid girlfriend are impeded by his inner demons… and a ghost from his violent past.

Today, she’s kindly stopped by my blog to answer a few questions.

Did I mention there are PRIZES?

Tirzah, how did you come up with the concept of your short story?

There is a man who twists the necks of caged mice.” The first sentence popped into my head, and it drew me on from there, one sentence, one paragraph at a time. The heavy pall of darkness fascinated me, filled me with fear, but also with hope. I wrote without knowing where the story would go, without even knowing what the next sentence would be before I wrote it.

This is the only story I’ve written longhand in a notebook, the only story I’ve ever written quite like this. The only story I never had to force myself to keep writing, because it sank in its hooks and called me on, word by word.

Tell us a dark secret about your story.

The moment Benjamin slams down the glove, scaring his pet mouse? The moment the creature cowers, and he feels that rush of power go to his head?

I had that same moment in my childhood, with one of my rats. I felt the rush, and, even as an eight/nine-year-old, it frightened me. I could feel the darkness in it, the monstrosity, and I never did it again. But I remembered.

That is, fortunately, the only part of this work which is in any way autobiographic.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When it was misery and I still loved it.

Name one entity that you feel supported your writing, outside of family members.

I’ve gotta give credit to two: Danielle Shipley, and Syawn Birk. One is my bestie, and I’m on the phone with her way too near to 24/7. Our characters party, talk, bond, and fight together just as much as we do. Somehow, we both manage to get a lot of writing done anyhow, her more than me.

Sy, though, is muse and main character, life coach and captain, friend and priest. He’s almost always at my side when I need inspiration or advice, a confessional or a sermon. I’ve loved him, I’ve hated him, I’ve wrestled over plot points with him, and I don’t know where I’d be without him.

What’s up next for you?

I’m creating an anthology of my own works, as it happens. Not sure what I’m going to call it yet, but I believe Danielle suggested “Tirzah tries to write love stories and fails pretty badly”.

The tales vary from urban fantasy to myth, swords-and-sorcery to psycho-punk, but they’re all centered around love.

In and among internal conflicts, passion, murder, magic, and good old-fashioned vigilantism, each story seeks to question what love really is, what it does, and what, in love, is most important.

Also, Death meets Santa Claus.

Tirzah Duncan Find out more about Tirzah on twitter or facebook. More information about the other stories included in BEYOND THE WAIL can be found on Goodreads.

ENTER THE BEYOND THE WAIL GIVEAWAY NOW!


Beyond The Wail

Saturday 10th October | Featured author: Danielle E. Shipley
Are you Afraid of the Dark?
John’s Writing
Spreading the Writer’s Word

Sunday 11th October | Featured author: Alex McGilvery
Ash Krafton: Emotion Between the Lines
Scott E. Tarbet, Author
Writer’s Law of Motion

Monday 12th October | Featured author: T.N. PAYNE
Melissa McShane, Author
Sarah’s Secret Stash
Notes from Author Ginger C. Mann

Tuesday 13th October | Featured Author: Ginger C. Mann
L.K. McIntosh
J S Brown
Fairies & Pirates

Wednesday 14th October | Featured author: L.K. McIntosh
Rampant Games
Scotty Watty Doodle All The Day
Terra Luft — View From the Crystal Ball

Thursday 15th October | Featured author: Jay Barnson
A Storyteller’s Journey
Creativity from Chaos
Christine Haggerty

Friday 16th October | Featured author: A. F. Stewart
Tales by Julie
Perpetual Chaos of a Wandering Mind

Saturday 17th October | Featured author: Amanda Banker
Sebastian Bendix
Alex Campbell
Semi Short chic

Sunday 18th October | Featured author: Julie Barnson
The Ink Caster
The Road to Nowhere

Monday 19th October | Featured author: Sebastian Bendix
The J. Aurel Guay Archive
:DandiFluff…

Tuesday 20th October | Featured author: Tirzah Duncan
Alex McGilvery’s World
A.M.Harte

Wednesday 21st October | Featured author: F.M. Longo
Ever On Word
The Cult of Me

How to Attend A Book Launch

Yesterday I attended my first ever book launch.

The book in question — not my own, sadly! — was the dark political thriller The Washington Stratagem by Adam Lebor. (You may recall he ran the writing course I attended).

Having never been to a book launch before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What is the correct etiquette? Must you buy the book, or not? What do you wear? Will there be alcohol?

How to Attend A Book Launch

  • To buy, or not to buy?
    While authors would certainly like everyone attending to buy the book, I doubt they expect everyone to — particularly if you’re hard up on cash and/or not interested in the genre. Don’t feel pressured into buying: the important thing is to show your support in whatever way you can.

  • Bring friends!
    The venue will look at turnout for the event, and will be more likely to invite the author back if he/she can draw a crowd. Round up your friends and/or partner and/or dog and bring them along!
    (Yes, there was a dog at the event!)

  • Promote the author online
    Another way to show your support is to promote the event online. You can tweet or blog about it, and even set up a Goodreads event for the launch. Anything that will spread the word!

  • Don’t harass the author
    Book launches are like weddings: everyone wants a piece of the action. The author will want to circulate to greet attendees, so be respectful and don’t hog his/her time.

  • Enjoy yourself!
    What you wear doesn’t matter. Take the time to meet new people, listen to the author’s reading and get your book signed. It’s not every day that you can browse a bookshop with a glass of wine in your hand…

Do you have any other tips to add to the list?

* * *

The Washington Stratagem by Adam Lebor

Washington_Lebor Yael Azoulay, the U.N. covert negotiator, had to kill or be killed when she went rogue in Geneva. Now back in New York, she is tasked with meeting the man at the dark heart of the American military industrial complex. Yael soon discovers a chilling conspiracy that reaches to Iran…and a dark secret from her past. The endgame is a devastating new war in the Middle East. But the closer she comes to the truth, the more she exposes herself to powerful enemies who neither forgive, nor forget.

To Read: In The Spirit by JC Hart

To distract from my lack of posts (I’ve been working, shhh!) I’d like to give a quick shout out to fellow author JC (Cassie) Hart.

Cassie is one of those people who — even if you don’t speak to them very often — you just know is a great person. She helped me out with my Above Ground blog tour, was one of the editors of charity anthology Tales for Canterbury, and has done innumerable other things I cannot recall but know are Cool Things.

Which is why the latest addition to my to-read shelf is her new release In The Spirit, which I’ve nabbed from Amazon UK for only £0.77!

Check it out:

In The Spirit by JC Hart In The Spirit by JC Hart

When Alyssa returns to Kotahi Bay for her Gran’s funeral, she finds herself in possession of the house of her dreams and apparently, a centuries old ghost itching to escape its bonds.

Still, the house has given her an escape route from a dead end job and a nasty break-up, so perhaps dealing with a ghost might be worth it.

But between the residents who think she should step into her Gran’s role as the town witch, a suspiciously nosy neighbour, and increasingly threatening occurrences around the house, Alyssa must decide whether this new home is worth it, or whether it’s safer to leave the Bay for good.

Available from Amazon US | iTunes | Amazon UK | Kobo

The Power of Storytelling Part Three: The 7 Steps of Character Development

“If conflict drives drama, then what drives the character is inner conflict.” – Adam Lebor

In the first session of Adam Lebor’s storytelling course, we covered the the basic framework of a story, and how conflict is a key element to narrative drive.

Conflict, however, does not exist in isolation; it has an effect on and is affected by your characters. By understanding what drives your characters, you can bring the conflict — and therefore your story as a whole — to life.

In the second class we examined character development and the seven steps to creating a strong protagonist or antagonist. By exploring our characters’ backstories, we can understand their motivations and goals, and therefore make their actions more believable.

THE SEVEN STEPS OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  1. Biography
    What’s in a name, you ask? Only cultural associations, and indications of a person’s background, education and ethnicity. Where and when were they born, what was their family like? All of these details will influence your character.

    I’ll be honest: I regret picking Lilith as a name for the protagonist of Above Ground. But it seemed fitting at the time since it conveyed a demonic aspect of herself related to leading men astray.

  2. Key events
    Certain moments in our lives shape the person we become. Maybe it was getting that lucky break and being forever grateful, or missing by a hair and becoming bitter and twisted. What moments define your character?

    Silver, the male protagonist of Above Ground, was abandoned by his parents as a child and brought up by a monastic wolf pack. The one time he let his guard down to love someone, she left too. Needless to say, he has serious trust issues.

  3. Inner conflict
    How have the key events in their life created inner conflict? Perhaps your character gets that lucky break, but thinks someone else deserved it more. They don’t want to give up what they have, but are insecure of being revealed as a fraud.

    Because of Silver’s childhood, he struggles to trust people. However, his bond with Lilith forces him to feel something towards her, and the dependency frightens him.

  4. Motivation
    What does the character want or need, and why? Character motivation is central to any story, and it is a good idea to ensure that your characters have a personal stake in what will unfold.

    Lilith’s main motivation is survival, which is a strong, personal want. But Silver’s motivations run deeper: he is driven by the need to help his ailing alpha, because if she dies, the entire werewolf pack will fall apart. Family ties are excellent tools to up the stakes for your character.

  5. Expert or everyman
    How does the character fit into the story? Are they an expert at their job, like Sherlock Holmes, and therefore driving the story? Or are they an everyman like Frodo, reacting to what is happening?

    I’d never seen this distinction spelled out before, but it offers food for thought. Lilith is an every(wo)man, Silver an expert. The type of character you choose will affect how they behave in the story.

  6. Plan of action
    How does the character plan to achieve his goals? Your character needs to make plans and take action to drive the story forward.

    A problem I had with the first draft of Above Ground was that Lilith was little more than a pawn being tossed around. When revising, I made her make decisions and find her own path — even if it often led her astray.

  7. Obstacles
    What is blocking the character from getting what they want, and how will they (try) to overcome them?

    While Lilith is battling werewolves and demons to stay alive, she also must overcome an second, inner obstacle: herself, and the realisation of who she really is. These external and internal obstacles make her life hell, but make the story that much more thrilling.

As someone who generally operates under the “make-it-up-as-I-go-along” technique, I found inventing character backstories surprisingly inspiring — particularly when exploring the key events and how they fuelled inner conflict.

Some authors write diaries for their characters, or letters between characters, to help further build their backstory. I found jotting down notes against each of the seven steps enough to get the ideas flowing.

What about you? What tricks do you use to get into your character’s head?

The Power of Storytelling Part Two: The Basic Framework of a Story

As mentioned, I’m attending a three-evening course on storytelling taught by Adam Lebor, a published author and journalist.

The first session examined creativity – and in particular, the key elements of a good story.

The session kicked off with us reading excerpts from our favourite books to get a feeling for different writing styles, as well as what draws us to particular tales. These excerpts were then used as a launching pad to discuss story structure.

THE BASIC FRAMEWORK OF A STORY

Adam Lebor has a tidy, memorable formula: COCR.

You may think I (almost) typed a rude word — in which case, go to the corner of your room and have a quiet giggle.

Immaturity aside, it stands for Conflict, Obstacle, Climax, Resolution.

These four elements are the key to narrative drive; they make your story compelling, addictive, and just generally awesome. If you are struggling with your WIP and the story seems flat, it could be missing one of these elements.

Let’s start with conflict.

In order to have conflict, you need a protagonist and an antagonist.

In my novel Above Ground, the protagonist is clearly Lilith. The antagonist, however, is not a particular individual but society at large: the hatred and separation between humans and those living above ground is the source of tension in the story.

So what’s Lilith’s obstacle?

What does Lilith want or need — and what’s stopping her from getting it?

Lilith wants to get home alive, and the dangers she faces are the obstacles preventing her from returning safely. As she surpasses each obstacle, a bigger one shows up, driving the story forward.

Here comes the climax!

At the climax, all the events in the story come to a head. It’s the turning point in the story, and often a key moment in the character arc. (More about character arcs next time.)

If you’re anything like me, the climax is one of your favourite bits to write.

In Above Ground, the climax is when Lilith is offered the chance to go home whilst having to confront who she really is. The self-realisation puts her main objective of getting home into question — and she has to decide where her priorities lie.

On to the resolution

How does the story end? How does the protagonist overcome the obstacles and where does he/she go next?

In Above Ground, Lilith reaches her new home. It is not the home she was aiming for at the beginning of the novel, but it’s a home that suits the person she has become.

Conflict. Obstacle. Climax. Resolution.

A simple yet effective framework to get the creative juices flowing.

NEXT TIME

The next session of Adam Lebor’s storytelling course will look at clarity, focusing on character development of both protagonists and antagonists. I’ll let you know how I get on.

In the meantime, what’s the COCR in your story?