Monthly Archives: November 2012

www.seanyeager.com

It’s life Jim but not as we know it …….. villains never give in

Just like my evil nemesis Egbert Von Krankhausen I never give up in waving a virtual flag at those readers who are seriously missing out on a good thing. I mean come on everyone over here! Aren’t you bored of vampires yet? Sean Yeager awaits! The true spiritual successor to Parry Hotter and Dartemis Owl.

In a move that is bound to spread tremors and tsunamis across the world I am transporting Sean Yeager to a whole new dimension for the holiday period. A dimension of lending. That’s right the Kindle lending scheme. Now you have no excuses – read and enjoy!  Or I’ll send Krankhausen after you…..

Is it life Jim or is it opting for the inevitable? I’ll beam up again soon with news from the front. One thing is clear there will be no cosy little romance picnic to spoil the action. Yes that is a direct dig at Star Wars who made me cringe for what seemed like eternity with that dire excuse for a love story between ‘To be Darth’ and ‘Oh look I’m pregnant with twins and the best sci-fi gizmos and forces ever can’t save me’.

With Hunters Hunted steaming up the mirrors and generally leaping off the page to climb new mountains, The DNA Thief will soon be joined by another. Yes folks its going to be Empire Strikes Back time. Aliens with a plural instead of the singular dark, shifty stomach ache and pregnancy metaphor. (Ouch!) It’s building up nicely into a spaghetti car crash of gargantuan proportions. Try saying that quickly!  (“That, that, that…..”)

So in the run up to Happy Holidays of all colours and creeds consider this: Sean Yeager is out there somewhere hiding from his enemies and hoping that Santa isn’t laser blasted to a crisp by his trigger happy protectors. (Could be worse, have you met Krankhausen? Now he has some serious personal issues man!)

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

Infinity welcomes careful drivers…… and a big tip of the hat to Douglas Adams

Copyright Aenathen Omega 2012

Welcome star-speeders,

As you may or may not realise we’re big Red Dwarf and Douglas Adams fans around here. Just thought I’d throw that into the mix to see if any Vogons were passing. Being a Brit there’s also a liberal dose of Python, Black Adder and such like sprinkled on top for good measure. Mmmm, tasty……

Just a quick note to mention progress on a few things I’ve been working on:

Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted is progressing well and is on track to see the light of day by early next year. It will be the second in the Sean Yeager series with another great cover and an elaborate, action packed story. It builds from the first novel and follows Sean Yeager and his new friends on their quest to recover a mysterious artifact. Of course in true SYA fashion the mission is far from straightforward thanks in no small part to Sean’s new found enemies and the intervention of The Foundation in a purely protective role you understand….

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief will soon be available in print to satisfy all the bibliophiles out there. This will be a slight revision on the original version, not that most mortals will spot the different (Yes you may take that as a challenge if you wish) Of course the e-book version will continue to be available. The film may take a while to sell and produce…..

A Sean Yeager Adventures logo is now complete and will feature prominently in the printed versions of the SYA books. See above for a sneak preview. We’re very pleased with the outcome and maybe one day over a glass of beer someone may convince us to spill the beans about what it means. (Chilled real ale of course, even Brits don’t actually like warm beer!)

Please feel free to forward the SYA links to anyone you know who enjoys adventure sci-fi. All the main links are listed on the website for ease of navigating. Things are beginning to really hot up around here….

In future we’ll possibly / probably put up some more artwork on the website, but don’t hold us to it as we have lots of other things on the boil.

Give my regards to the mice,

D.M. Jarrett

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Sean Yeager takes over the world….. the story so far

For those of you who are new to reading this blog (and that’s several billion of you) a quick recap.

Sean Yeager began when I was trying to find some quality reading for my son. I struggled frankly. I was looking for an entertaining read that didn’t insult his intelligence and I failed.

So I listened to what he was interested in and I went out again to look for something with him. In the end I let him choose. We bought some books and they were okay but not great. They were mostly read and quickly forgotten. One was dumped completely as ‘boring’. Eventually we settled on Harry Potter as being the best all rounder. (And to this day my main role model in a book alongside Bartimaeus).

We talked some more and I wrote some short stories for my son about a boy called Sean Knight and how we helped to save the world. Surprisingly these were so well received I had a demand for a ring binder to store them in and some regular discussions about the characters and their gear.

I shared the short stories with some friends to gauge how well they worked. Was it just youthful enthusiasm? The feedback came in and it was mostly positive. The stories seemed to have something. People understood the concepts and liked the angle.

Next I did some research –  I figured out the market, costings and what I could achieve realistically. I also set about finding an illustrator and began sketching some ideas myself. My first attempt with a cover designer was okay and I sort of received what I commissioned. I was chuffed to begin with.

So I sent out loads of unsolicited submissions to agents and publishers. Not a single one was even vaguely interested in what I had written. Actually I fib, one sent me a vaguely positive rejection letter  that implied they might consider my work sometime later in the year. Needless to say I did not receive any follow-up inquiries or feedback. Perhaps strangely I was not surprised in the least. I thought ‘this is why most of the books in the shops don’t sell very well’. Not that I thought my short stories were exceptional, more that no one would even recognise the gap in the market I was aiming for.

Following a particularly ‘can’t be bothered’ piece of feedback from an agent I made a decision. I decided to take on the full responsibility for producing a professional product myself and to act like a professional. I set values and goals. I costed out the proposition and I researched. I planned to write two books inside a year and publish them in e-book and print. I also aimed for top quality plotting and writing together with top quality design and illustration. I realised it would be tough and I  also realised it would take a lot of work. As it turned out I was right on both counts you need a lot of determination and a thick skin to be a writer.

And that is where Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief began. I decided to change the character’s name because of a character called Sean Knight in a Mage comic. I wrote to the creator and in a trend that I have become very used to I received no reply. So I thought, ‘you know what change the name anyway and keep it straightforward’. In a way it was probably a good thing but at the time it was a complete pain to find and be happy with a new name.

I wrote and revised for several months until I felt the first novel was complete. Several revisions and corrections later I lent it out to some beta readers and held my breath. The feedback was consistently positive with some helpful suggestions which I applied to the next revision. Being a whole lot more involved than a short-story I realised that the plots and characters were equivalent to a film script. I figured ‘why not?’ So I set out to write so the stories are easily adaptable to film and yet quirky at the same time.

Which brings us almost up to date. I found a very talented illustrator and commissioned a new cover and some interior images. The interiors became material for website and posters when I realised how expensive colour printing can be. Needless to say the second cover was massively better than the first and you can see it above.

Sean Yeager Adventures has an e-book on each of the major sites a website, a blog, twitter, facebook, even a spoof advert on youtube and various postings all over the internet. Do any of them attract readers? Good question. If people want to find out about Sean Yeager I believe they can and will. So probably. Will social media sites sell people the books? I think people decide for themselves in the real world. I encourage people to read the free preview and see the website. And guess what? Many of them do. Soon they will be able to hold a printed copy in their hands (hurray!).

Yes Sean Yeager will soon be arriving in print. Then libraries and then (hopefully) some high street shops and book clubs. Meanwhile the second book is nearing first draft completion and promises to be every bit as good as the first and more expansive. Perhaps by the fifth draft it will reach the light of the internet and print outlets. When the quality is good enough that is.

So Sean Yeager takes over the world….. yes he does. It’s what the series is all about. I’ve set my aims high to entertain, stretch minds and be as good as the best. All that’s left is the blood, sweat and tears to push on and achieve those goals.

And why have I done this?

Because I believe readers deserve a really compelling book series and it all goes back to what my young readers told me they wanted to read about. I also have a ball writing the stories which makes up for the rejections and emails I’ve sent that have gone unanswered. I laughed recently about The Beatles’ first rejections, it clearly happens to everyone.

Yesterday I took some promotional postcards to a school and a boy asked for another one because he lost the first. He’d yet to read a word of the story and yet he loved the idea of the book simply based on the cover. Priceless.

Yes, Sean Yeager is taking over the world, you heard it here first.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

Writing tips …….. hot from experienced writers

Hi, just a quick note while  things are still fresh. I attended a writer’s gathering today with some very successful professional writers. Some key points I took away, which based on my humble experience writing Sean Yeager I can confirm are good advice are:

1) Characters are the backbone of your story, more so than plot they will shape and carry your ideas. Build them, understand them, listen to them and follow where they lead you.

I can vouch for this personally now that I have my own Sean Yeager characters baying for action and plot twists of their own in book 2 Hunters Hunted. Some even want their own stories written (steady on there!!!).

2) Write free-form or with structured notes and try mixing up both methods for best effect. Never be afraid of trying what works best for you, writing is like daydreaming with words.

I can vouch for the mixed approach – try a bit of both because it gives confidence that you know where you are heading while at the same time giving freedom to develop the story as you progress.

3) Whatever you do sit down and write. It’s all about practice and improving what you write therefore you need to do it if only for a short period every day. Never pretend you need a muse to write.

4) Be disciplined and write to a deadline, if you have professional aspirations write like a pro and get the job done. Publishers will set deadlines and therefore you need to learn to write to them yourself.

5) Expect to hone your language and be edited it is a necessary part of the process no matter how great you might think you are at writing. Or put another way – all the best books are reviewed and revised into greatness. (I picked that latter part up somewhere)

6) Develop a steel skin for the inevitable criticism and rejection, they come with the territory. Better still ignore reviews and concentrate on the constructive feedback you receive.

7) Whatever you do keep sitting down and writing (yes it is a repeat tip and it is deliberate)

8) Look after yourself – your posture, back, wrists, health they all matter. Remember a healthy body is a healthy mind. Or put another way – It’s a marathon not a sprint. (my comment added in there).

9) Figure out your own place of writing and what works for you, make that place your own and relax into it – other professions have lucky places / objects too

10) Research thoroughly or you’ll be caught out. Enjoy it as well it is a perk of the job.

11) You need to read other books as well to write. Why? Well this took me a while to figure out – my conclusions are –  Because you need to focus on use of language, stretch your own writing muscles and to gauge the benchmark or better still inspirations for your writing. Getting into the zone is best achieved through both writing and reading quality books.

12) And my personal favourite – ALWAYS carry a notebook, write down what you see, hear smell, think. Anything useful to your world of creating stories. Then collate the best ideas in your home book or spreadsheet. Personally I go on long walks and ask questions of my story and write down the answers such as – So what about x? What’s the story about? Why should anyone care about x? What’s the strangest thing that could happen next? etc etc.

I hope you find these tips useful, they certainly resonated with me.

Happy writing and reading

D.M Jarrett

What is ‘good’ writing?

D.M. Jarrett author of Sean Yeager Adventures muses on the balancing act of what makes writing ‘good’.

Recently, I signed up to review another author’s book and while I’ve yet to begin the task it has me thinking. I’m wondering about what to comment on in the review and what my yardstick should be. Should it be about the standard of the writing or my impression of the work as a reader. Should it be about the plot or a combination of all the above? It’s tricky. And then of course I don’t want to be too kind or too cruel because I’ve been through the hours and hours of creating a work until you are sick of the sight of it. (Temporarily sick of course).

I have found in the past that when you are involved in something (such as writing, designing or music) your focus shifts and you become almost incapable of stepping back from the small details to see things as others do. It’s almost a curse. Yes I quite like that song but rhyming ‘fall’ with ‘crumble’ and ‘stumble’ is making me feel ill. There was once a song I heard so many times that it could almost induce physical vomiting whenever the first few bars were played because I hated aspects of it so much. Fortunately, someone eventually culled it from radio play lists and there was a suitable parody (but it didn’t go anywhere near far enough to my mind.)

So what is ‘good writing’? Would you recognise it knocking at your front door and inviting itself in for dinner? It’s a tricky one and no doubt liable to split academics down the middle let alone bloggers. So I’ll settle for giving my thoughts as subjective as they are:

1) Readability – I look for a good smooth read which flows and is relatively easy to follow. I’m not keen on heavy reads where I have to repeat read sentences to understand the intended meaning. Neither am I keen on use of language which fails to paint a picture in my head. I find it’s working when I almost forget about the words and I’m carried away with the ideas and events being portrayed.

2) Plot – I always want to know what’s going on. I absolutely hate being taken on a wild goose chase with characters who have no clear fit to the flow of the story. Some authors drive me nuts with lengthy parallel plots where inevitably one is preferable or more entertaining than the other. And worse when it all comes together at the end in a giant twist. More than likely I’ve given up caring by Chapter 5!  Okay it can be clever, but I don’t like being sold a pup as a reader. Leave out the dull stuff and keep me enthralled or laughing or scared. I actually really, really, really, do not care what the characters have for breakfast or what they think of their father unless it is directly relevant to the plot line.

3) Genre & style – I’ll read almost anything but it has to evoke emotion for me to want to read on. It can be any of the main reactions – laugh, cry, tremble, be excited, be amazed – preferably several of them at once. However if a story does not make me want to care then (unsurprisingly) I won’t bother to care and may well put the book down. I’m not big on concept books or shallow books unless they bring out a reaction and I find the best books work on all these levels, so I choose to read them instead.

4) ‘Universe’ – I enjoy being taken somewhere else during the read. Sometimes it can be the best part of the book for me. I still want to feel and read easily, but if the places and events are sufficiently interesting it can carry an otherwise poor plot. There are several books I’ve read where the style and setting were on reflection far better than the eventual story which in some cases was actually pitifully poor, predictable or worse unremarkable.

5) Use of words – I would imagine my vocabulary is about average for a graduate, nothing amazing and a reasonable understanding of less common word meanings. I like seeing interesting words in books where their meaning flows well and adds something, it restores the brain a little. On the other hand, there are some writers who find it necessary to use obscure language and structures, which not only cloud their intended meaning but also irritate the hell out of me. Ironically, I don’t mind if they invent words so long as the meaning is disclosed, but force me to reach for a dictionary more than a couple of times and I’m unlikely to forgive the  book. And never write in slang or phonetic language to evoke a character unless you absolutely have to, which is still never. A few odd words here or there will do. But frankly I’m not interested in how clever, clever it is and in one very notable book it is completely wrong in context as well. As in totally implausible and unnecessary.

6) Overall impact – This is probably the most personal aspect for any reader I would guess. My preference is to have a positive overall impact because it feels like a chore if you’ve read a sizable book to arrive at a negative or unclear ending. I hate endings where you have to guess what the outcome was and I also dislike endings where it’s a laboured denouement with all loose aspects closed off. A short third act with a clear outcome tending towards positive, or at least hopeful, usually does it for me. All the better if there is a plausible twist at the end. Best of all show us an ending we could not possibly have thought of ourselves and which makes sense.

7) Deus Ex Machina – Otherwise known as cheating with plot twists and outcomes. Makes my blood boil and has been known to spoil books and films completely. Unless we’re in a fantasy and magic genre, I really don’t want to read about impossible escapes and invisible plot devices that only arrive in the last few pages. ‘It was all a dream’ has to be the worst of the worst excuse second only to ‘they imagined it all (the whole story) in their last moments of life’ . Err nope I’m calling the plot police and charging the writer with abuse of writer privileges. The bond between writer and reader (in my opinion) is that the reader is not to be short-changed on page 450 (or whatever) having read the previous build ups and tensions. Nor do I like the swings into the absurd that pepper so many films. e.g. despite being shot 15 times our hero managed to climb a mountain appear at the last second inside a locked building and save the helpless captives, all because he is the hero. No stop right there! Call the plot police! Shoot on sight with nuclear, water cannon, toffee apples (yes it’s easy to cheat isn’t it?).

So your honour, the subjective terms of ‘good writing’ have mostly to do with what we personally want from a book. ‘Incredible, how did you figure that out?’ the jury cried. Make us laugh, cry and jump then give us a decent resolution. Easy huh? (err yeah right).

In the meantime, I’ll do my best and reach for the birch twig each time I catch myself breaking one of my own  rules. (Anyone have some bandages and liniment going spare?)

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

Sean Yeager website

Farewell Star Wars,………. the end of an era

So Disney is paying hard cash and shares to acquire George Lucas’ empire Lucasfilm?

Wow! That’s a big decision.

Apparently the deal is worth £4bn for two film franchises (Star Wars and Indiana Jones) and technical experts (Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound) plus related rights and merchandising.

Double wow!

So why would Disney pay such a  huge amount for an already mature and seemingly complete set of films? I mean it’s not just George Lucas who is effectively retiring, what about Harrison Ford? Does he still need to work?

Sure, the Lucas empire will continue to generate wealth and new spin-offs; no doubt the accountants have done their sums and possibly see it as an annuity cash cow. But even so….. $4bn?

Next we hear there will be more Star Wars films. Oh really, about what? It will be fascinating to see how they try and make the audience care about another tranche of characters. It’s not as if the prequel trilogy stands up to much scrutiny compared to the original first three films (episodes IV to VI).

There also seems to be some bitterness in the air, or at least it is highlighted in some press reports. I struggle to see how George Lucas can be that ‘upset’ about criticisms of selling out or sullying the brand. Surely he is a film maker and business man extraordinaire and somewhat above what some oik thinks? (myself included) I mean, with that kind of ability and success you could choose almost anything you like as your next project couldn’t you? Plus he has milked it for billions – fact. So it’s a bit obvious to say it’s sold out. Yes that’s the whole point of selling stuff so widely and so voraciously surely? We are not talking some minor cult series are we? It is not Sean Yeager Adventures now is it?

For what it’s worth I don’t dislike the prequels, I simply find them contrived, overdone and not entirely convincing compared to the classic episodes. And it’s not because of the years that have passed – I’ve re-watched every episode. It’s more that I believe the original characters in IV were better, their struggles were more believable and I felt like I cared more about them. Yes of course the series is for kids and you do have to make allowances, however adults did enjoy IV and V. There are good scenes in each of I to III but the love interest was dreadfully badly written; the politics were dull and unconvincing and the action sequences were often completely over the top.

So what of the future? Well I hope they go back to brass tacks and find a story or two from the extensive canon (fan, prequel, expanded universe, pro-books, Lucas stories) to make the viewers want to care again. It would also be good if they addressed some of the short-comings of Star Wars as a ‘universe’. Short-comings? I hear you gasp well yes – here are a few and I’m barely even trying…..

Baddies can shoot straight; planets could be glassed; even clones need food and toilet breaks; anyone with a brain cell can see through a simple disguise especially a ‘Jedi knight’ surely?; superior numbers mean you will win battles; even in WW1 there were bombers and missiles; space does not amplify sound; people do not understand alien speak instantly without any form of interpreter; being good at the last second having slaughtered hundreds of kids does not make you instantly popular in heaven; a plama laser sword against hundreds of blasters – do me a favour, you’d die – see last of the Samurai; and no you can not fly or jump through millions of obstacles and survive without a scratch. And last but not least – the clones – when did they become useless as storm troopers? Early on they can save everyone and after decades of evolution they can’t hit a barn door at two paces or see a floating car driving over their feet.

In other words – Star Wars as a franchise has made the fortunes and now is the time to raise the bar back to where it ought to be for the fans – the people who made the franchise worth the mega-bucks in the first place.

Or – Disney could turn it into a romantic, drippy pile of techno-goo and watch that $4bn investment really take-off…….

As someone great once said – just because you pay the big bucks doesn’t mean it’s worth the big bucks.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

Sean Yeager Adventures