Tag Archives: books

Upgrade time for Sean Yeager Adventures

www.seanyeager.comHunters Hunted Text 2l

Hi book-loving folk,

One of the advantages of being an independent author is that I have the opportunity to upgrade my earlier books. And guess what? This is exactly what I am doing at the moment. And by upgrade, I mean enhance, correct, polish and add additional material. You see a lot has happened in the six years since I wrote DNA Thief. Gee, time really does fly…

In fact, if there are any readers out there who have already picked up a copy of Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief or Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted, I would be very interested in your thoughts about improvements. Yes, I care and want to improve them.

While writing and editing Sean Yeager Claws of Time, which is currently ageing and maturing in the ether, I learned a lot more about the characters, world and events surrounding Sean and Emily. And a plethora of tips about improving the words on the page. So much so, that I felt compelled to upgrade the two earlier works and add in some elements that were overlooked or undercooked.

The good news is that, once completed, both books will be real shiny – that’s a reference to a much-loved sci-fi series by the way.

I also read an interesting comment on Goodreads – and I don’t receive many so it is treasured – musing that the mysteries in DNA Thief would probably never be explained later in the series. Hmm, I thought. I wonder where that idea came from? Perhaps other series that leave things hanging? Anyhow – a big part of the Sean Yeager saga is that the books do indeed build on each other and explain a whole raft of things. I have in fact mapped out the next two stories with the intention of explaining far more than is touched upon in DNA Thief and Hunters Hunted. The back story would be a book in itself. Maybe one day… When I go all Tolkien and invent an Aenaid language (and one for all the ancient tribes of Vaestrarel etc.) But I digress.

Which brings me back to Sean Yeager Claws of Time. It is written, it is edited and it is ready to roll. However, it occurred to me that it needs a fresh sprinkling of wonderfulness before I unleash it on the unsuspecting reader. And it is pretty mind-blowing, so watch out! To do it justice I need to come back to it again with fresh eyes. Now, if I was JK Rowling the pressures might be unbearable to release it this year, I imagine (while daydreaming). However, back in the real world, I have the security of obscurity which affords me the luxury of improving it. And since there is not a single publishing person on the planet who ‘gets’ Sean Yeager as a book series – apart from me. Let’s try again – And since there is not a second or third publishing person on the planet who ‘gets’ Sean Yeager – I don’t have anyone chasing my tail for deadline dates. Yay! So the bottom line is – it will most likely be polished up and super-shiny by next Easter. By which time, I hope to be started on book 4, which is really exciting me, so I can lay some more Easter eggs back into Claws of Time. Yep, I do that kinda thing.

If you made it this far, thanks! You have been listening to a stream of consciousness from an undiscovered and, dare I say it, ground-breaking author. Well, I do gardening every so often <smiles with tongue in cheek>.

Happy reading

DM Jarrett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sean Yeager – the book series so far

Hi, a quick recap on the Sean Yeager Adventures series for newcomers. And boy are you missing out 😉

The stories circle around Sean Yeager and his friend Emily Campbell, who find themselves caught up in present-day England with two factions fighting a secret and ancient war for control of the Earth. Far from being the ‘chosen ones’, Sean and Emily must discover for themselves their place in this ancient struggle between the nearly good and the clearly far more evil. And what it has to do with them. (Best to avoid Dr Vex I’d suggest.)

DNA Thief – Sean comes home to discover a hole in his bedroom wall and his comics stolen. He is invited by some hapless agents (meant to be protecting him) to go after the thieves. They set off in a hi-tech flying car and bite off more than they can chew. Mrs Yeager goes crazy and Sean discovers he is wanted by a mad-man – Egbert Von Krankhausen.

Hunters Hunted – Sean and his mum are moved to a safe house, where he meets Emily. While exploring the stately home, Sean and Emily discover clues to a mysterious treasure which calls to Sean in his dreams. They leave the house and wander into a series of skirmishes with Sean’s evil nemesis – Darius Deveraux.

Claws of Time – Sean and Emily become bored and trick their way into a hidden study. Here, they find a clue linking Sean’s father to a familiar agent. While returning to school, they are caught up in a chaotic confrontation and given a choice – to help rescue the now missing agent or take their chances at home. They choose the mission.

Each story is self-contained and told at a breakneck speed from multiple perspectives – the good (Founder), the bad (Deveraux & Vrass) and the indifferent (Dr Vex). Things go wrong with gizmos and people’s decisions.

Book 4 (in preparation) builds on the origins of the ancient struggle and explores a whole new dimension to the back story (no spoilers here though). Sean and Emily find ‘themselves’ and meet several new, amazing characters, while doing their best to thwart Deveraux and his minions. Dr Vex? Hmm, let’s just say he’s up to his old tricks.

Happy reading

DM Jarrett

One simple way to plot out your story

Hi there, a quick tip about how to plot your story in a very easy way. And bear in mind you can always refine and elaborate it later when better ideas arrive. It is a starting point or a fresh way of thinking.

Firstly, imagine a steep hill.

At the top of that hill is your protagonist’s goal. They do have a goal right? You need a clear goal. What does your protagonist need? What will they die for / strive to achieve?

To achieve that goal your protagonist must climb up the hill and overcome every challenge you can throw at them. The harsher the challenges, the more engaging the feat.

Now, find a big piece of paper. Draw a steep curve from bottom (left)  to top (right)  – this is your Plot Hill.

In pencil, at the bottom of your hill write the protagonist’s starting place and their status. These needs to be pathetic or loathsome and far from their goal.

Starting at the bottom, add each step in your protagonist’s journey up the hill, one on top of the other.

When you have a continuous journey from ‘nowhere’ to your protagonist achieving their goal, you will have the bare bones of your story.

For sub-plots, draw a fresh hill for a fresh goal and add the relevant steps. The two Plot Hills can be later intertwined into a larger hill. And then you can write it up as a sequence from your beginning to middle to your end.

If you have ideas with sufficient drama, you will already have low points, challenges, confrontations, set-backs, twists and such like. If not, back away, find a fresh piece of paper and try again a few days later. And note – you need a clear goal that is challenging to attain and with lots of challenges. The rest is your protagonist’s journey up your Plot Hill.

Here’s a quick example (read from the bottom up):

Hilltop Goal : Recover the Black Pearl

Sails the Black Pearl away, leaves the captain

Defeats the Pearl’s captain & steals his booty

Boards the Black Pearl at night with his allies

Lures the Pearl’s captain to a deserted cave

Tricks the Pearl’s captain with promises of gold

Reaches Tortuga and finds the Pearl’s crew ashore

Pleads with Calypso to raise the wind

Becomes becalmed at sea, with no wind

Follows his magical compass

Sets course to find a hidden island in the fog

Escapes from the British

Steals a British Naval ship by tricking some soldiers

Recruits a miscreant crew from a rowdy public house

Finds Gibbs and sobers him up

Escapes from jail

Convinces someone to help him

Pirate, in jail, waiting to be hanged

         START HERE – and read back up the hill

Try it and see how you get on. It should be quick and painless, provided you have enough ideas for challenges. If not, come back later when your subconscious has got to work. And don’t worry about the order of events – you can refine those later. You did write in pencil?

Happy plotting.

D M Jarrett

Author of Sean Yeager Adventures
Awesome books for bright, young minds

 

 

 

6 ways to inspire your child to read more often

As parents, I’m sure we’re all been there. We’re concerned about how little our children read, especially tweens and boys, and we want to find ways of developing their language skills. Not least because schooling and exams require greater literacy, and of course reading can inspire learning and expand their minds. Remembering also that they will need to write their own creative stories at exam level before too long…

Let’s face it, these days there are numerous distractions for children. We’d like to encourage them to read more and to spend less time gaming or watching TV, so how can we achieve this goal of encouraging more reading? Here are some tried and tested tips, I hope you find them useful.

  1. A regular time for reading

Establishing a reading time before sleep or first thing on a weekend morning can help to calm the mind. And reintroduce reading. Just watch out for a genuine page-turner in case they are up half the night. Or worse the iPad hidden between the pages.

2. Invite your son or daughter to choose their books

The thinking here is that if they buy into the book when researching and purchasing it, they are more likely to want to read it. A trip to a large bookstore can help. And a suitable budget. Also, keep in mind charity bookstores which can carry a wide array of well loved books.

3. Random book token gifts

A gift of a book token might sound obvious, however it can still work. Unlike an Amazon voucher, what else can they spend a bona-fide book token on? We’ve found this to be useful when encouraging darling son to select his next proper read. Within boundaries of course.

4. Indulge their interests

If they love Percy Jackson or Harry Potter, where’s the harm? The whole series? Sure, if they are inspired to read. Again, bear in mind libraries and charity shops if costs are concerning. Book swaps too can be a great way to keep up the momentum. We found that it is like pushing at an open door when the books are enjoyable. Throw in Dickens and the whole mood changes. Having said that they are some great ‘classic’ reads which are easier going and engaging.

5. Oldies can be golden

Think back to the books you loved as a child or tween. Perhaps even a more challenging classic read. Particularly funny books. I suggested The Hitchhikers Guide, Biggles and The Hobbit. Perhaps I was lucky, but they all stuck home. In each case, that’s a whole load of reading…

6. One to read and two for the shelf

I suggest lining up three books at a time. It’s easier to buy in batches and it means that if a book proves to be ‘boring’ there are other options immediately available. If a series has inspired your darling daughter (or son) then lining up the next few is probably a sound investment. Again, charity shops, swaps or libraries can come in handy.

6 1/2. In print..

Bonus tip – buy, borrow or acquire print copies. There’s something about holding a printed book in your hands. A digital copy may work, however the chances are that same device has games loaded on it as well?   And you know ‘app’ which will win out? Most likely the fad adrenaline-packed game…

Hope you find these tips useful.

D.M Jarrett

Parent and Author of Sean Yeager Adventures

 

Where next after Fantastic Beasts?

As an author, I am also a fan of J. K. Rowling’s work. I love the films, the theme parks and most of the books (less so the fatter ones if I’m honest). I was inspired by the parallel shift of Fantastic Beasts and the repositioning of the magical world in the USA. It rang true, complete with the bureaucracy that modern-day America exhibits on entry. Right down to the typefaces and official blurb of the supporting material (briefcase shaped). Based on recent experience, I half expected Newt Scamander to be asked if he was a) harbouring magical creatures; b) a terrorist; or c) carrying foreign fruits or vegetables in his luggage. Just as (unbelievably) you are asked to confess all when entering the USA. Err, real criminals tend to lie…

In addition, what a great achievement to co-write a stage play and progress to screenplay writing. And why not? The formats may vary, the content may require different disciplines, but surely the creativity is the common thread? I was impressed. By both the challenge and the outcome. Entertained too. For once, a film surpassed my expectations and (bar the overlong attack sequence) the originality, warmth and plotting of the movie was touching.  A movie with soul amongst the magical goings on.

And there it is, for me at least. The magic ingredients – warmth and humanity. I see the Harry Potter series, including Fantastic Beasts, as less about the outsider coming good, and more about the friendships and bonds between people. This aspect is the one which has inspired me the most in my creative thought processes. People standing together against evil and bureaucracy. People striving for better.

This inspiration I have carried over into my own writing. And a long road it is. I started writing Sean Yeager Adventures with a wisp of an idea. The wisp grew into characters, motives and a secret world set amongst our own. A world where things go wrong and people make mistakes, but also strive to help each other. A world with evil, goodness, and also ambiguity. A world with a rich background and complexity stretching through time and space. And yet nothing like Harry Potter. For that is the real challenge – to create something original and unseen, unread. It’s not easy. I take my hat off to J.K. (not that she needs it, and not that I wear one) the confidence to press on and create can be a lonely place. It can also be amazing, as Fantastic Beasts shows.

When I write I am happy. When I read back and review I am often annoyed with myself for not writing better. After several rounds of revisions and improvement, I become a whole lot happier. For one simple reason – when the work stands up and speaks to you, you know it has something. You know your characters have life and something to say and strive for. And that others will ‘get it’, eventually. It’s a weird thing creating – all that effort and you are second guessing what ‘good’ looks like. Inevitably, you write what works for you. And inspiration from other genres helps a lot.

Sean Yeager and Emily Campbell will reappear book 3, eventually.  When they have rebuilt Kimbleton Hall and re-programmed the cat probably. The editing is taking a while, because I don’t write in the conventional way and I don’t write conventional stories. Where’s the fun in that?  The flip-side of course is that if you are reading this and look-up Sean Yeager Adventures, you are in a select few.  And I thank you for it.

You see, I write films in book form. I write science magic adventures with strong relationships and humour. All my characters have a reason for being and things they strive for. I also write about gizmos, parallel worlds, mind control, sentient computers, alien lifeforms. But not in a way I’ve seen before. I aim for the soul. In Sean’s England the factions are hidden, secretive, small in number and yet deadly. Sean and Emily have to discover the truth for themselves, there are no prophesies or fast-tracks to the stars. They have to rely on their own wits and clues. It’s a tough write. And I love it.

I still remember a time before Harry Potter. When the idea of a book about a wizard was viewed as nothing much, nothing new. It really had been done before (Books of Magic, A Wizard of Earthsea). And now look at the audience and the achievements. And the undoubted hard work that’s gone into it all. It is the classic – it’s not what it is, but how well it has been done.  And I have little doubt the next big thing will be fresh and different, just as J.K. was when people saw the merit in the work before them.

That’s creativity I guess, the balance between who ‘gets it’ and the energy of the creator to keep going until enough people do. So bring on the warm cuddly creatures, the strong friendships and rivalries and the impressive plotlines. I love it when things get good.

As J.K. once said ‘rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life’.  Everyone needs a foundation and belief in what you are striving for is a good starting point. The unread author really is at rock bottom in the literary world, and yet the work itself could be incredible/

Thanks for reading my ramble. All interest in Sean Yeager Adventures is appreciated. Remember, you were here first. As Cassius Olandis (Sean Yeager character) would say: ‘open your mind and everything will become clear to you.’

Sean Yeager Adventures

www.seanyeager.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-editing your novel

Hi there,

Happy 2017! I’ve been busy lately with family matters and editing my third book – Sean Yeager Claws of Time. Here are some thoughts collated from the arduous task of self-editing and the further research I did before kicking off the same:

What is self-editing?

It seems self-explanatory, but let’s define our scope. You’ve written your first draft from start to finish and now you want to edit to the stage where it is good enough to present to either a) a professional editor b) your agent / prospective agent c) your self publishing platform d) your beta readers.

In the main, I suggest it is a combination of a) to d) depending on whether there is a commercial partner expecting to have approval, and have their editor work with you prior to acceptance of a manuscript for publication.

The nature of the editing will vary from simple typos, to wholesale changes to scenes and structure. In my experience, it is wise to expect a lot of rewriting and improvement until you reach the happy place of being satisfied with the words on the page, and of course the flow. Or until your publisher says ‘yes’ we’re going to publish your work.

Stages of self-editing

Leave it in a drawer edit

Yes, leave your draft to one side and read other people’s work for a while. This will help to create a sense of separation from your work and a mental benchmark of what ‘good’ looks like. Once your mind has absorbed enough outside works and experiences, you’ll be ready to properly read your own work with fresh eyes. This is vital.

Coarse edit

This is the pass where you iron most things out. Typically I expect to remove, reduce, re-phrase, augment or re-write pretty much every page. Only the really good writing remains untouched. If it reads as ‘clunky’ it needs changing / improving / removing / scorching off the face of the planet. Delete as applicable.

I check for typos, perspective inconsistencies, speech attribution, adjectives, use of language, word flow issues, punctuation, scene progression, dialogue quality, plot points, character reactions, and so on. This is a heavy edit.

Tips – set your objectives clearly and write out your own editing checklist and refer to it regularly. Use a tool to check for overused words such as: that, then, with, like, towards, felt, looked etc. Consider each character’s path through your book – write it out as a brief flowchart and check that it makes sense. If it doesn’t, the chances are you have missed out necessary actions / speech / narrative, or even entire scenes.

My aims in this pass are to ensure that every section is effective and well written. I also re-consider the key plot points to check they make sense. I amend them or remove them if they don’t.

By the end of this stage, you will have a draft manuscript where you are not ashamed of the quality of the writing, and which you have begun to understand as a reader.

Structural edit

Once I have a sense of what I have actually written – as distinct from what I imagined I had written – I take a step back and review the story I am telling. I refer to my notes about each subplot and each character’s progression through the story.

The key question I ask about each sub-plot is – what does this add to the overall story? i.e. Do I need to keep this? Or do I need to move things around? Or should I delete a minor sub-plot lock, stock and barrel?

Tips: Structure – your main character (protagonist) should appear on page 1 or at least early in chapter one. Prologues usually suck and should be burned.

The key question I ask about each scene is – what is the scene’s purpose (action, fear, joy, discovery etc.) and does it work? i.e. is it effective enough or in need of a re-write?

Tips: Scene review – imagine the scene happening in real life and check how plausible it would be for actors to portray it. If it sucks, you need to augment and improve it. If it’s unclear, you may be overwriting and using too much purple prose. Short paragraphs work, pages of narrative by and large do not.

Self honesty is really important, and usually less is more. Also, it is worth recalling the established rules of writing and plotting (web research / books on the same) and breaking less than 30% of them at a time. Unless of course you never want anyone to read or recommend your work.

Removing unnecessary scenes or sub-plots can be really hard, and I don’t do so lightly. However, if you have a sneaking suspicion that the scene about the tree guardian who appears halfway through your story and does nothing except say two lines, is a bit flabby, the chances are it needs to be cut. Unless of course your story is about tree guardians, in which case they should have made an appearance on page one and regularly from that point on.

By the end of this stage, you have a manuscript draft where you are happy with your story, the major plot points and the length of the book. If not, go back and do it again…

Read aloud edit

I print and I read out loud, with a pencil at hand. I never cease to be amazed at how many outright mistakes sneak through until this stage.

The psychology is this – reading is the first pass through your brain, speaking is the second pass, and hearing what you have said is the third pass. The combination means you are much more likely to notice mistakes in your work.

Also, the flow or otherwise of what is written on the page comes across most clearly when you read your work aloud. If it flows, you can imagine what your readers will experience. And where the flow is poor, you will hasten to smooth things out out of sheer embarrassment or even boredom (as a reader). Yes, the section your always hated which dragged on still sucks – so now it’s time to edit it properly…  or cut it.

Tips: Dialogue check – do people really speak like that?  And would your character say those things in that manner? A key way to show a character is through their interactions, therefore what they say and how they say it matters. Provided of course – they had a plausible reason to say what they say. i.e. Action to reaction. What they know and what they don’t know.

By the end of this stage, you have a draft manuscript you are pretty much happy with, bar the detailed proofing. If not go back and do it again… Or if you absolutely hate the book, perhaps you need to park it for a while?

Writer’s proofing

Once happy with all the key ingredients I run the document through a couple of software tools and consider all the corrections I’m offered. Even the stupid ones which seem to make no sense at all. It’s boring and unfortunately completely necessary. The number of times I have found misused words spelt perfectly, or doubled up words in plain sight, is surprising and a relief – provided you correct them early enough. One tool alone is not enough to spot them all – for reasons I’ve never fully understood. (Software rules and such like).

Tips: check out tools in trial form first and see if you like them. Word alone is not enough.

By the end of this stage, you have a manuscript you are willing to share with others.

Professional editor edit

In an ideal world, all books would be further edited by a professional who gets the aims of the writer and is sympathetic to the effect they are trying to achieve. This may take the form of technical editing, structural editing and further proof editing.

It’s a partnership thing. If you find a great pro-editor, cherish them and send them greetings cards. If not, find someone else if you are able to. (Me, I’m looking.)

By the end of this stage, the book is quite different to the first draft – usually for the better, though I dare say – not always.

Final, final edit

More of the same until a) it’s done or b) someone say’s it’s getting published next week. Quite often a beta reader will raise an important omission or mistake. Sometimes this reaches the writer in time… I jest, the more complex your story the more edits will be needed all the way through to published editions, and corrections to published editions.

When is it good enough?

Never. Provided a writer keeps improving as a writer, they will always want to go back and revise a lesser work until they are sick of the sight of it. Incidentally, by the fifth round of editing I am usually sick of the sight of my own work. When this happens I call a break and go and write or do something else for a while.

Golden tip?

Fresh eyes are essential, as is a sense of detachment.Take a break and read other people’s work – ideally writers who are better than you are. Edit often and in hour chunks.

If you can forget you wrote the first draft manuscript and polish what you see in front of you, you can self-edit. Once you can no longer do this – take a break and/or get help.

 

Hope my insights help. Best of luck with your writing projects. Next time, I plan to write about plotting your book, click your bookmark or subscribe and please feel free to comment.

In due course, I will publish Sean Yeager Claws of Time. Having hurried on previous books, this time I’m following all my own advice and plenty of other people’s. Please check out my website and consider the younglings in your life who are missing out by not reading Sean Yeager Adventures. They are just a few clicks away on Amazon and elsewhere, somewhere between Harry Potter, Star Wars and James Bond.

Enjoy.

D.M. Jarrett

www.SeanYeager.com

Hunters Hunted Text 2l