Friday, 30 December 2011

Full Cirlce

Recently I turned twenty four and today I realised it has been a decade since my first job... yikes.
What made me realise this? Well today I felt like that young boy delivering newspapers. This was because I leafleted houses to try and introduce people to my book.

The adventure began with the idea of leafleting a month or two ago, and thanks to my parents buying me a printer I was able to make leaflets up to hopefully point people in the direction of my website.

The original plan for today was to hand out leaflets in Glasgow as I knew it would be busy, and it was. It was also raining a lot and once I started I realised this made it pointless to leaflet, as they got wet, and people were too busy getting to their next destination to get out the rain to take one.

I knew it was inefficient to stand there and decided to go home and leaflet houses. This I realised would be more productive for a few reasons.

I started leafleting houses and had the thought that this is exactly what I was doing ten years ago with my first job as a paper boy. I laughed to myself and  find it strange how things often come full circle. Another reason I thought of this circular idea was because the place I leafleted turned out to be a big circle, with houses on both sides of the street. This made it easy to leaflet.

It was a difficult day though as the weather had me soaked through in about half an hour and after 3 or so hours I had lost feeling in most of my body, but I am glad I have done what I did for many reasons (One being the character building such work provides and another the gratitude you feel for warmth).

I really hope people who got the leaflet take a look at the link to my website, and I really hope they like the story.

I look forward to doing more leafleting in the future and let's hope the weathers a bit better next time. For now it's time to enjoy some food and to be extra grateful for the shelter and warmth I am lucky to have.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Website and Marketing


So I have a website!!! :) It's simple but I'm so proud of it. It is and on there is the book in pdf and soon to be kindle file. It is a free download, but I have done this so there is no risk of having to pay money for something you may not enjoy. I have requested for people to be pay for it if they read the whole book and like it, this is a risk but it gives people choice, and I like that.


So now I have to spread the word that this exists and have a few ways of doing this so will give an update if they go well or not.


I'm just so excited to start promoting again and seeing what happens.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Another Rejection

Another Rejection

In all honesty I'm tired, so tired and exhausted. I'm trying so hard to make this work, but I just can't get the break I need. Below is the rejection from the agent I was in touch with, and I am so thankful for her time. She has given some advice and I will take it on board and see what I can do to improve my work, again. 
  There are other plans in motion. Some which will be implemented in the new year and obviously the new book I have started writing will give me more opportunities to show my work. I love how a couple of blogs ago I said I would start this new story in the new year, and well... I'm 20,000 words in to it. The plot is not as simple as I thought it was going to be but it's going to be a great story so I'm excited for when that is constructed. Yet it will be put on hold for now.
  Despite this I'm still pumped and excited for all I am doing and when the time comes this is all going to be worth it.

Email from agent.

Hi Steven,

I’m so sorry about the delay and especially given that this isn’t going to be one for me. You’ve a wonderful idea here but I wasn’t as gripped as I should be, which is an absolute must in this very difficult market. I think the book might benefit from a little more world-building and elements of curiosity to entice the reader in.

You’re a talented writer so I do hope another agent will want to take you on. I wish you every success and thank you again for giving me the chance to read your work, and for your patience.

With best wishes,

I replied and she sent the following back.

I’m sorry I can’t be of more use, or give more editorial feedback. It’s all very subjective and I think there’s every chance you’ll be snapped up. I do hope so.
With very best wishes,

I'm so grateful for her words but wish she could have helped move things forward for me. She has done what she felt was best so cannot fault her in anyway for that. As I have said before I am just so grateful to her for the chance. 

Ultimately there is so much work for me to do and an infinite amount of opportunities to succeed so this is only more experience to help me on my adventure.

Monday, 5 December 2011

An Agent Update

An Agent Update

I emailed Susan Armstrong on December the 1st to see if she had a chance to read more of my work. She emailed the next day and said she should be able to give me a response by the 12th.
I'm really excited to hear her views, and thankful for the time she is giving my work. I will update when I get her email and hopefully she wants to read more.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Exciting Time and Fresh Ideas

I made a statement in my last blog update that there was nothing 'I' could do to improve my story, I was wrong. I think the statement should have been more along the lines of, "please don't let me have to go through it again, let it be finished."
However I have been going through it again and have been able to make improvements.

Exciting Times

The reason I have been going through it again is because an agent read the first chapter and liked it so asked for the first five chapter. This all came about for the following reasons.
 I originally emailed this agent to ask if I could email her my work instead of sending it by post. This was because on her webpage she asked for unique fantasy and I thought, why no just contact her directly.
  She replied and was very nice and polite, but said to send it the traditional way. I thanked her and sent it off.
  I got a rejection.
  However I noticed it was from one of the general readers agencies have to help agents prioritise their clients, and the readers would hand high quality work to the agents.
  I was disappointed as felt my work was what this agent wanted. I decided to email her again and say I felt  a bit discouraged that it didn't make it to her. She was incredibly nice about this and could have easily said she only accepted it if it came through from one of the readers, but she didn't, and said she would read a chapter.
  I sent it off and got an email at the beginning of this week asking to read the first five chapters.

This is very promising and I am excited to hear what she thinks of the story. When she asked to read the first chapter I quickly read through it and made improvements. Then when she asked for five chapters I could not stop smiling with excitement. I read through the chapters again, made improvements, and sent it to her.
 She emailed today and thanked me for sending it through. Now I just sit back and pray she sees its potential and asks for the whole story. If she does I am going to have an interesting time trying to speed improve the other twenty chapters. I may just have to be honest and tell her I'm giving them a once over and will get them to her asap.
What an amazing feeling it is to be at this point. It's amazing to think that one persons choice effects your whole future, but even if she says it's not for her I still have so many options. I will obviously be disappointed but never discouraged.

Fresh Ideas

Why will I not be discouraged?
  Well I have a number of ideas for books that I have put aside for when the time is right to write them. I am incredibly fortunate for the flow of ideas that seem to never stop, and recently an idea came in to my mind for a one book story that is very very exciting.
  I have a 3,000 word outline of this story and because it is simpler, and only one book, I know an agent will be more likely to take it on as it will require less faith on their part.
  It is such an exciting, simple and unique story and I cannot wait to write it and show it to people. However patience is the bane of my existence and I will sit on it for now and maybe start in January 2012 if this doesn't work out.

I will keep the blog updated when things happen and thanks so much for reading.

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Wait (round two)

There is nothing more I can do to improve my first book. FACT! and it is a satisfying and nerve racking thought. So much work has been done to make it better. I have re-written it to make it an easier read and I  have had two very talented friends read it and edit it. Many thanks to Cheryl White and Andy McDonald.

With all that done it is the best it can be and yesterday I sent it off to agents again and have to sit back and wait. For anyone that knows me I am not a patient person so this wait is actually the hardest part of the whole process (writing  the book is easy in comparison). Ultimately I just want an answer, whether yes or no, but waiting for that is a pain for me. However I do have plenty to keep me busy so hopefully the time will go by quickly. I just hope some agents like the changes and see what an awesome story it is and I will update as I receive word from them.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Passing By Time As It Passes Me By

I reflect on the month that has gone by and it feels like only a day has occurred. I always look on time as being measured because of variables and changes, which without there would be nothing to measure time against. The fact is plenty of things have changed in this month but it still feels like no time has passed at all (something that needs further reflection I think).

This month has been one that has required me to be patient as the edit of the first three chapters of the re-write is still ongoing by my friend and as much as I just want to get the agent hunt under way I have to learn that people work on different time scales than I do. I need to see that waiting this month and having it edited is better than sending it off a month ago and not having it edited. Many thanks to Anders for taking time out of his schedule to work on it.

To keep myself busy I have written some poetry, done some art work and continued typing up book two from the hand written copy I did back in 2010 (summer).

Despite time going by so fast the writing has taken a slower pace than I would like but I still love how a single moment can feel like forever, and forever can feel like a single moment. It is just best to let it all go and work hard at achieving the goal and then just enjoying life until things can move forward (Things will happen when they happen).

Who knows what the next month will bring but I will update when it feels right to do so.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Jobs Done!

It is finished!! In less than a month I have re-written 64,000 words of my book and kept 44,000 of the original journal style.

Why didn't I re-write the whole thing? Well the reason the re-write was so important was because the beginning of the book was difficult for the reader to get drawn into so the new style was best and that problem has been solved.

Secondly it is because about two thirds of the way through the story the journal style is good because it gives you more insight into the main character and gives the reader a new style which actually shakes the narrative up in a way I think is refreshing.

Lastly the ending actually works better in the journal style, even if the beginning did not, so it was best to keep it to keep the ending the way it was.

How do I feel now its done... exhausted. all of this in less than a month is something pretty epic and I totally need therapy because I must be insane to have done all this in such a short time. But it is finished!! and I am even happier with my baby than I was before and that is saying something.

Now it's time to take a short break, then edit, Yuk!! but I will have help from my friend Anders, thank you! And then Agent hunt begins again....

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Re-write Chapter 3

Here is chapter three of the re-write.


Unilus woke, got some berries and dried meat out of his pack, and walked over to Dragatu. The noise interrupted the deep reflection and stopped Dragatu’s thoughts. With this sudden awakening Dragatu realised how tired he was.
  Unilus sat down and handed him some meat and berries. There was silence between them, which wasn’t unusual as most conversation occurred when Phoenon was involved. However Unilus eventual broke the silence,
  “At least we found the water. One day it might supply the nation with the water we need. I imagine a great aqueduct and channel system could transport it across the desert.” 
  Dragatu wanted to shout at him. It was not worth the loss they had suffered. Unilus had his priorities all wrong, he thought to himself. But he didn’t have the energy to argue and knew it was just Unilus’ way of seeing the logic in a situation without accounting for emotion. It was just his way of trying to be optimistic, but it just annoyed Dragatu. It also made Dragatu feel even more tired and he used it as the excuse to get away from this topic of conversation and away from his brother.
   “Can you keep watch?”
  “Thanks. Wake me after the sun has been down for a couple of hours and then we will start the journey back.”
  Unilus nodded and Dragatu grabbed his pack, walked about five metres away from Unilus, and lay down falling asleep quickly because he was so drained.
  His dreams repeated the tragic event of the previous night and he was thankful when he realised the repeating of his name in the dream was Unilus waking him. He woke up quickly with this realization and breathed deeply, grateful for a different surrounding than the forest his mind had decided to trap him in.  
  He saw that Phoenon was awake and sitting where he had when he had kept watch and reflected. Unilus was standing by his pack lifting it up on to his back.
  “Thanks,” Dragatu mumbled. His muscles ached slightly from all the running but his mind was aching more from the disbelief that this adventure had turned into a living nightmare. 
  He then picked up his pack and watched as Phoenon followed him and Unilus in this. They were ready to start the long journey back.
  Little was said as they walked, just the odd consoling words from Dragatu and Unilus to Phoenon. Dragatu took the lead setting the pace. He was trying to move as quickly as possible to get home faster but had to keep considering Phoenon’s lack of fitness. He forced himself to slow down when he heard Phoenon breathing heavily and they only stopped when it was a necessity. On the long journey they each found their own ways to keep their minds occupied and tried to ignore the seemingly never ending landscape of sand around them.
  Dragatu’s mind continued with where he had left off only half a day before. He thought about how they had rested at that same place with their father and then climbed the hills, stopping on the top to view the valley before them. Beyond that they could see all the hills and valleys and finally the snow topped mountains in the distance were only noticeable because it was a clear day. They had been stunned by the sight and it had been a happy moment for them all. They had bonded and felt closer to one another because of the rarity and uniqueness of this experience
  Then they had walked east descending the hill and entering the forests keeping their eyes peeled for any large lakes and wild beasts.
  Dragatu was mainly listening and looking for wild beasts to track and hunt for food and sport. They had managed to kill a few bores and one pretty big bear. However their father had been strict and told them not to hunt anything unless he said it was okay and a few times he told them to stay still and hide to allow bigger animals to pass because they were too dangerous.
  Five days past in the valley and they finally came to the north hills and they saw a few lions that they knew sometimes ventured across the desert and attacked farmers live stock.
  It was just such a wondrous adventure up to that point. They were all excited about how they would have so many stories to tell their friends when they got back home.
  However no water had been found at this time and they circled back a long the west side hoping to find some there. Then after still finding nothing they were a days walk from the exit and going home, when they had heard the first howl of that giant wolf.
  “That sounds close?” Their father had said.
  “Do you think it’s a pack of wolves?” Dragatu had asked.
  “I don’t hear any reply to the first howl so it must be one wolf, which is strange. I’m also worried because we haven’t seen any other animals recently and no birds singing either.” He stopped to think. Then continued shaking his head, “It’s probably just a wolf that has been kicked out the pack and having to make it alone. It won’t be any trouble for us.”
  They continued walking and then the howl was very close and it was louder than any wolf howl they had ever heard.
  “That’s unusual,” their father had said, “Maybe we should pick up the pace boys,” He took his bow from off his shoulder and drew and arrow, “and keep yourselves alert and tell me if you see a wolf.”
  They walked for another minute in silence then suddenly there was a flash off white that contrasted against the black of night and they all stopped with the confusion as to what it could be that they had seen.
  “Stay behind me.” Their father said keeping a mono tone voice so he did not show the level of his fear and concern.
   Dragatu and Unilus drew their hunting knives in a swift motion and Phoenon stumbled with his. There was another howl and it was about thirty metres in front of them, yet the darkness still rapped the unknown animal that howled like a wolf but was louder, faster and white like no wolf they had ever seen.
  Then there was a snarling and out of the darkness crept the biggest wolf they had ever seen. It was the size of a horse and had a look of pure aggression. It continued to walk slowly forward, confused by these four new things in front of it that smelt so different from anything it had encountered.
  After the surprise of seeing such a beast and accepting that such a thing existed their father responded as quickly as he could. He drew his bow and the arrow whistled as he released it. The wolf saw it and moved with great speed. The arrow hit the wolf in its left hind leg but sliced through the flesh and was not on target enough to stick into the muscle.
  The wolf snarled louder and circled back the way it had come and Dragatu and Unilus stayed on their father’s right side and Phoenon was behind them shaking with fear but trying so hard to be brave like his brothers and father.
  Another arrow had been drawn and the wolf began to advance at a phenomenal rate. Again the arrow whistled through the air and Dragatu stood ready to challenge the beast, the adrenaline pumping through his veins. The arrow was on target but the wolf moved swift and the arrow missed and stuck into a tree. The wolf reached them and just as it was about to reach Dragatu his father acted quickly. He had thrown the bow aside and the arrow he had drawn was in his had and he threw himself at the wolf and stabbed at its head.
  The wolf had just noticed the attack a split second before he was going to bite at Dragatu and it whipped its head fast to try and knock their father over. However as it did the arrow sliced down the face of the wolf cutting deep over its eye and jaw. The momentum of the wolf’s sharp turn of its head still managed to knock their father off his feet and he landed right next to his bow.
  The wolf then turned back towards Dragatu, Unilus and Phoenon and just as it was about to make its attack on Dragatu for a second time, an arrow hit the wolf right above the tail and it yelped with pain, then howled with frustration and anger. It turned to see where the pain had come from and then cautiously moved forward towards the culprit who had caused that pain.
  “Protect your brothers Dragatu! Get them home! And remember your promises!” Then their father turned and sprinted away from them as fast as he could drawing the second last arrow and turning as he ran firing it. It hit the wolf again but this one only sliced the flesh like the first and it did not bury itself in the wolf.
  Dragatu could only watch as his father and the wolf disappeared. He wanted to follow him and help his dad, but the last words had stopped him. He had to protect his brothers now. His father needed him to do that and that is what had to be done
  These memories were repeated over and over again as they walked through the sand by night, and slept by day. Dragatu tortured himself wondering if he could have done more to help his father. He played a thousand different scenarios in his mind and most of them were fictitious, concluding in him killing the wolf and saving his father. Deep down he knew that would never have happened and he had to try and accept that there was nothing more he could have done. It was better he and his brothers survived.
  He told himself his father was even more of a hero because he had sacrificed himself for them. However all this did not help the pain and emptiness he felt from such a great loss.
  On top of all this there was the consolation prize from this horror. He often sarcastically repeated in his mind the words Unilus had spoken, “At least we found the water.” It angered him and he knew he would trade finding the water for getting his father back with out a second thought. All he wanted was his father back, but as the days past he was starting to come to terms that he never would.
  His saving thought in all of the pain and chaos was not the water, it was that he was going to keep his promises and he decided he was going to keep his journal. He promised himself he was going to protect his brothers and this was the only way he could think of to honour his father. He wasn’t going to let him down in this.     


  Finally the sand turned once again to mud and then grass and this brought them all back to reality. They had become fixed in the seemingly never ending routine of walking, resting, eating, sleeping, sleeping, eating, resting, walking and now there was something that was different and it became like an awakening for them.
  It was the early hours of the morning when they reached the first farm house and a farmer was just out getting ready for the days work when he saw them.
  What a sight it was to see. The three of them looked so beaten, broken and scorched. The farmer ran inside and got his wife and they took the three boys inside and after a lot of water and food managed to get parts of the tale from them. Once they had heard the main parts of the story they pitied the boys with all the compassion they had in their hearts.
 “You boys have been through the worst.” The farmer said. “We must get you to your mother.”
  “They are in no state to be walking through the nation, just look a them. They look like they would faint before they got past the fields.” His wife said chastising him.
  “Okay my wife. I was just thinking that these boys need their mother. I will send one of the workers to get her. They should be here soon.”
  Dragatu just wanted to get home and get to his own bed but looked at Unilus and Phoenon and they were in no state to go on and he felt that even he would only just make it home before collapsing. While he looked at Phoenon he had contrasted the memories of him from before the ‘adventure’ and the difference was startling. He had nearly lost all his extra weight and Dragatu had never seen him look so unfed. However he knew in time Phoenon would probably regain his weight so he focused on what could be done now to help them.
  “My brothers will need some sleep. Is it okay for them to use a bed or sofa to sleep on?”
  “Of course dear. This way.” The farmer’s wife said.
  Dragatu nodded to Unilus and Phoenon to follow.
  “Are you not going to get some sleep?” Phoenon asked.
  “I will wait until we are home and I will wake you when mum gets here.”
  “Thank you,” Phoenon said and Dragatu could feel the extra emphasis to the words and it was an acknowledgement of all Dragatu had done and that he had got them home. Dragatu was content inside at the thought that he had got them home and thought to himself that he had kept his promise.
  Dragatu then sat with his eyes shut because he wanted the farmer’s wife to sense that he was not in the mood for chatting. She had already got the basics of what had happened and he didn’t have the energy to give her every little detail that she appeared to want.
  With his eyes shut he started to drift off and stopped himself several times but just as he was about to lose this battle his mum burst into the room.
  “Where are they!?” She then saw Dragatu and she swallowed hard with the emotions of seeing her son so worn. “What has happened?” “Where is your father?”
  Behind her stood the farmer and he spoke to Dragatu over her shoulder,
  “I didn’t tell her. I thought it would be best if you told her.”
 “Coward,” Dragatu thought and took a deep breath.
  “He is dead.” He had become used to thinking this statement but saying it was still really hard and to see the expression on his mothers face almost made even him lose control of his ‘weakness’ and cry, but he held it in.
  “How?” Was her weakly uttered response and Dragatu gave her the story and she wept for her loss and what her children had suffered. When he finished there was a silence that was only filled with the odd sniff from his mother as she cried. She then composed herself as much as she could.
  “How are your brothers?”
  “Not good. Unilus is Unilus and will deal with it in his own way but Phoenon needs you more than he ever has.” She nodded with understanding and stood asking the farmer where the bedroom was that they were sleeping in.
  She entered the room the farmer had showed her and Dragatu stood in the door way.
  “It is a shame to wake them. This must be the only solace they get.” Their mother whispered.
  “Do not be so sure that their sleep is peaceful.” Dragatu said quite coldly remembering the frequent nightmares he had about that night.
  She looked at him inquisitively, then realised his meaning and nodded once. She then woke Unilus and Phoenon. As Phoenon woke and saw her he threw himself into her arms and began to cry.
  “It will be okay,” she said trying to console him. Unilus got up and sat on his bed. A few moment’s past.
  “We should get home.” Dragatu said. This was mainly because he wanted to get home so he could finally sleep. The rest here had barley rejuvenated him and now that his brothers were under the protection of the nation and their mother he felt he could rest with some ease.
  “Yes. You are right.” His mother said and let Phoenon out of her arms and walked over to Unilus. She looked him in the eyes then took his head in her hands and kissed him on the forehead. She then moved to Dragatu and hugged him whispering a quick, “thank you,” in his ear. It had so much love behind it but Dragatu barley comprehended its true worth and was just happy with some acknowledgement of all he had done and glad to see her again.
  Their mother lead the way and they took some food and fresh water from the farm house. Their mother thanked the farmer and his wife almost too much and then they slowly made their way home.
  Once again they didn’t talk much and the only conversation came from Phoenon as he tried to lift the mood, but even saying how they had found the water source and that father was a hero was not enough to console any of them. It was just too soon, but their mother humoured Phoenon and she knew what he was trying to do and loved him more for his compassion and efforts to try and help them all.
  They arrived home and Unilus and Phoenon stayed with their mother for the company and feeling of security it brought. Dragatu however was spent and his mother saw it and when Unilus and Phoenon were out of ear shot said to him,
  “You have done your father and me proud. Go rest now my son.”
  He didn’t make any response but walked up the stairs to his bedroom and lay on the bed, not even pulling the covers over him, and he fell straight asleep. Yet once again his mind wasn’t able to rest and the wolf was their attacking them again.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Re-write Chapter 2

Here is chapter 2 of the re-write and if you haven't read chapter 1 it is in the previous update. Chapter 3 will be up tomorrow.



  His mind wondered back to the day his father had told him they were going to cross the desert and search for a new water source.
  Their nation’s population was one hundred and forty four thousand and the area they lived in did not have much water. They had a reservoir northwest of their nation but it was not giving them the surplus they had once enjoyed and they were worried for the future and what would happen as the population grew.
  This is why Dragatu’s father had decided he was going to search in the hills and forests in the far north. Very few people had ventured so far north. The desert was treacherous and then there were the hills and valleys that contained wild beasts and lastly beyond that were the mountains with snow tops. People preferred to venture west into the forests where it was safer, but no big water sources had ever been found, or to the east were there were ore pits and rocks hills. Some people lived there and mined for a living but very little was known about what was beyond that.
  Dragatu’s father had decided it was time to explore in detail the northern areas beyond the desert, as this was the most likely place for a big enough water source. He knew it was a risk but the consolation to him was that it would be a great adventure for him and his sons even if they didn’t find a new water source.
  “A great adventure,” Dragatu thought as he tried to process all his feelings while he reflected. “How wrong and how right you were dad.” He then pushed aside the anger and he remembered how it all had begun and went through everything that had happened up until his father had ran into the forest leading the wolf away from them.
   It had all began when he wrestling with Unilus. Dragatu loved to wrestle and beat everyone, but with Unilus it was always very close. Dragatu always won because he was fast and strong but Unilus was very fast and was good at exploiting weaknesses and learning how a person fights. Unilus was like this in all that he did. He loved to learn. He read lots of books and also spent a lot of time on the farms and with plants and animals. He invented things to help the farmers and invented many things to help all the people.
  As usual it was another close fight but Dragatu shifted his weight and moved his arm over Unilus’ blonde hair and down to link his hand to his wrist and then applied pressure. Unilus tried to get out but knew he was beat and tapped out.
  “Well done!” Dragatu’s father had been watching at the side and clapped loudly with pride. They both stood up quickly and bowed their heads acknowledging their fathers praise.
  “I am a blessed father to have such great sons.”
  “Thank you dad. We learned from the best.” Dragatu replied.
  Their father laughed, “And who was that? I will not have another man teach my sons to fight.” He then smiled, “Oh. You mean me?”
  Dragatu sighed at his father terrible jokes and Unilus wasn’t really sure what was so funny, as he took things literally, so he just smiled humouring his father as always.
  Once their father stopped laughing he asked Unilus to get Phoenon. Unilus obeyed and Dragatu continued the conversation with this father.
  “Do you think Unilus will ever beat me?”
  “Probably not son, you are very skilled.”
  “So you agree that I am the best?”
  There was a pause as his father contemplated how to respond to the prideful statement,
  “Yes you are the best at wrestling but everyone is good at something and your brothers have amazing strengths that make them special. It is not always the strongest that succeeds. It is often the wise or even the compassionate.”
  “But if you are strong then you can beat them in a fight?” Before Dragatu’s father could respond Unilus returned with Phoenon so he quickly said,
  “We will talk about this some other time.”
  Unilus and Phoenon walked up to and stood beside Dragatu.
  “Thank you Unilus.” Their father began and then directed his attention to Phoenon,
  “Are you having a good day son?”
  “Yes dad. I was just helping mum prepare some food and water for Dragatu and Unilus after their wrestling.”
  “That is very kind of you Phoenon. What do you say Unilus and Dragatu?”
  “Thanks” they said together. Phoenon smiled at them both.
  “I have some exciting news for you,” Their father continued, “You all know about the hills across the desert that a few explores found a long time ago?” They nodded. “Well we are going to cross the desert and be explores ourselves. I have spoken to your mum and she took some convincing, but she has agreed that you can come with me. Would you all like that?”
  “Yes!” Dragatu’s enthusiasm was expected by their father and he smiled at Dragatu. Then he looked at Phoenon and Unilus and Unilus spoke,
  “Why are we going on such and adventure?”
  “To search for a big water source. We all know that our reservoir just supports the nation and we will need more water soon.”
  “I will go.” Unilus said. “It will be a good chance to see what exists beyond the desert and maybe there will be knew animals and plants to study.
  Their father’s eyes then fell on Phoenon.
  “Will it not be very dangerous?” Phoenon said softly feeling embarrassed and worried Dragatu would tease him for asking such a question. His worries were confirmed.
  “This is so exciting Phoenon. Don’t be such a coward.”
  “Dragatu don’t talk to your brother that way.” Their father said sternly. He then took a step towards Phoenon and crouched in front of him and looked him in the eyes.
  “Yes it will be very dangerous but if we can find a way to help the people it is worth the risk. If we can find the new water source and find a way to get it across the desert we will help generations of people. I want my three sons beside me if I find such a thing, but if you do not want to come I will not force you. But if you do come I promise I will look after you and so will your brothers. No harm will befall us. I promise.”
  There was a pause and then Phoenon spoke up.
  “I will come for you Daddy and for the people. I trust you.”
  “Thanks son.” And he hugged Phoenon tightly. “So it is settled. The four of us will embark on a great adventure. We will leave in a couple of days so start preparing your packs with things you will need. Tell your friends you will see them in about a month and please spend as much time as you can with your mother as she is worried for us and will miss us greatly. Reassure her that you are confident about this trip and calm her fears with your love for her. I must go and start preparing a few things and barter for some goods. We will need some good hunting knives for you and a new bow for me. I will see you later.”
  As Dragatu reflected about this the sun moved across its path in the sky and his brothers still slept. As the world continued around him he was stuck on a bitter thought, “you didn’t keep your promise dad, but I will keep mine.”
  Eventually he had to move past it and his memory jumped to the departure from the nation and how his mother had cried so much as they left. He remembered her blonde her shinning in the sun and those blue eyes raining and how he had only shown her the true sadness he felt at saying goodbye. When they had their parting embrace he had whispered,
  “There is nothing I will miss more.”
  He viewed some emotions as a weakness and didn’t like to let people see his, but for this reason she had appreciated it more. After the brief embrace he turned and followed his father and only turned back once to see her and this was the memory of her in the sun light.
  He was both desperate to return to her now and never wanted to face her. Having to tell her that her husband was dead was a thought he tried hard to push to the back of his mind and focused on just getting his brothers home, that was the most important thing. Anything else was only a burden to him.
  His mind then returned to its memories. They walked through the nation passing the brick houses of their neighbours, who were all part of the richer area at the southern most part of the nation. This was about thirty miles from the sea.
  He saw many of his friends while walking through the rich area and they waved their goodbyes from their houses.
  As they walked the houses became less and less elaborate and finally there was no one that Dragatu knew to wave at him. However as the house quality changed people began to come out of their houses to say goodbyes to their father or to Phoenon. Phoenon was popular amongst the people and spent a lot of his time with those who were less fortunate then themselves. This was clear because as they said their goodbyes they told him he would be greatly missed.
  Dragatu was jealous of this as more people came to see Phoenon than had waved goodbye to him. He didn’t understand why they would like Phoenon more than him. He was a far better leader and had helped a lot of them improve their houses, or helped carrying things for them and also had given them a lot of clay he had mined from the ore pits, so why did they not acknowledge him more?
  What Dragatu didn’t understand was that it was the way something was done that gained respect and often people found him condescending, like the things he did came with a price and they owed him something for his help. However with Phoenon he showed true friendship and kindness to the people and they liked him more for this reason.
  Finally they came to the open grass land of the farms and could see the reservoir to the north-west. They walked through the livestock fields and just after high sun they began to notice the ground harden and after walking for another hour the ground was hard mud and then finally turned to sand which was the start of the great desert.
  It was late afternoon and their father told them they would continue walking long into the night and set up tents in the early hours of the morning. This would be done to begin adjusting their sleep, because they would walk in the coolness of night and sleep in the shelter of a dunes shade during the day. Before they finally set off into the desert they sat and refilled any water they had used at a well and ate dried meat with dried berries they had prepared for the journey.
  Their father finally told them to set up camp in the early hours of the morning, just before the sun came up. They were so grateful because their energy was nearly spent and once they had set up camp found no trouble sleeping.
  They journeyed like this for many days, stopping only to sleep, eat, dig deep for water and when they found the odd spring, refresh themselves. It was the most difficult thing any of them had experienced and spirits were kept as high as they could be by singing songs, telling stories, chasing lizards or shooting their father’s bow at wild birds that flew overhead. Killing one always lifted the mood as the fresh meat was better than the dried stuff they carried, even if it was very scraggly.
  About half way through the journey Dragatu had been talking with his father in their tent while Phoenon and Unilus were asleep in theirs. The conversation was light hearted at first and concerned how incredible it would be to find a new water source and how Dragatu was looking forward to hunting new animals.
  Dragatu was going through the different ways to hunt and track specific animals when all of a sudden his father decided to change the topic of conversation and with out realising it was probably the most important conversation Dragatu and his father had ever had,
  “Dragatu.” At the mention of his name Dragatu stopped mid-sentence and he waited for his father to continue after the sudden interjection.
  “You know about the Book of Law son?”
  “Of course Dad. You know I have read it.” Dragatu was confused by the topic and the sudden change of subject. He had kept his answer simple and had partially lied because his reading of the Book of Law was more of a skim through that a read. He had liked some parts and seen a lot of things in it that made sense to him and for that reason believed in it but he didn’t think he would ever read it fully and was not as embedded in it as some people were.
  “What does it teach Dragatu?”
  “It contains the laws and teachings that we must obey to please the great Creator and if we obey what it says we will return to live with the Creator when the Creator comes to judge the living and the dead.” Dragatu was still confused by the question. Everybody in the nation knew this and his reply was almost a perfect quote from the Book of Law itself. It was a quote everyone was taught from a young age whether by parents or friends who believed in the Book of Law. However despite its familiarity not everyone believed.
  “Why is he asking this?” He thought to himself.
  “Good. And where did it come from?” Another simple question and Dragatu could not guess where his father was going these questions? And what point they served.
  “The Creator gave it to our first parents nearly seven hundred years ago. We are created in the image of the Creator but many have debated what that means.”   
  “Good. Well I have some important secrets that very few people know, but I feel it is right to tell you them.” Dragatu’s confusion turned to excitement. “Secrets.” He was interested now. His father continued.
  “You are strong and lead with confidence. We have discussed this recently but I want to tell you that you must use this strength to truly help your brothers and the people in our nation. You must think about their needs above your own. Do you think you can do that?”
  Dragatu tried to understand the question and could only reply,
  “I think so.”
  “All I ask is that you think about it and try to do it.”
  “I will try,” Dragatu said.
  “Thank you. So here is the secret.” He took a deep breath. “There is another book that the Creator left our people. It is called the Book of Prophecy.”
  Dragatu repeated the words in a whisper, “The Book of Prophecy.”
  “It was given to our first parents and they were told to hand it down to the first child who married in the family and to follow this pattern. The Creator commanded them to read it and keep it secret. Only those who inherited it through marriage could read it and when their children turned eighteen they could be told about it and told to protect it and keep it secret. They would have to promise to do this and if they didn’t keep their promise a curse would come upon those who knew about its secrets who weren’t meant to and upon those who didn’t protect it.
  The Creator also left a promise with the book that when the time was right the book would be made known to all the people, but not until the Creator showed it was the right time.”
  Dragatu was shocked by all this new information. What did the book contain? Why was it kept secret? Why was he being told, he wasn’t eighteen? This last question came out first and his father answered it for him.
  “Because I see greatness in you and I need you know I trust you. Because of your leadership and confidence I look to you to be an example to your brothers. I need you to be an example of goodness and strength, like you are, but you are young and still have so much to learn. I need you to protect them always and help them learn to be confident like you are. But you too must learn from them. They have strengths that can help teach you to be an even greater man than you would be by yourself. Can you promise that you will always look after them and try to learn from them?”
  “Of course Dad.” He said, still a bit shocked by the revelation and he barely took in what his father had just said because his mind was so distracted.
  “When can I read it?” He blurted out the shock turning to over enthusiasm and excitement.
  His father frowned “You can’t yet son. Remember that it goes to the first to marry and one day maybe that will be you but if it is not you must not read it. You must protect it so it stays a secret. I have told you about it so you can be ready to either read it one day, or learn to accept that you may never read it and must protect it. Protecting it is the most important thing. This is what the Creator wants from us. Protecting it is the first commandment and reading it is only a luxury some are privileged to receive. Do you promise to protect it always?”
  Dragatu found this hard to accept. The name itself intrigued him, “The Book of Prophecy.” It had such a mysterious ring to it.
  “I promise,” he finally said, trying to hide his frustration and intrigue, but he pushed for more information because his curiosity got the better of him.
  “So what exactly is in it?”
   Dragatu’s father laughed. “Well if I told you that you might as well read it and then I would break my promise. What I will tell you is that it contains parts of the future and this is a huge responsibility to have and a great gift from the Creator.”
  “Wow,” Dragatu said, “The future. That’s cool. I wish I could read it.”
  “Always remember your promise son.” His father said in a very serious voice. I have told you before your time because I trust you and need you to prepare your self for the future. Put it out of your mind for now and we will talk about it some other time, but only when we are alone, your brothers will find out when they are eighteen. Do you understand?”
  “Yes Dad.” Dragatu said wondering if there was more to the words, “prepare yourself for the future.” Did his father know about his future from the book?
  “There is one more thing. I want you to have this.” Dragatu’s father reached behind him and pulled out a book and gave it to Dragatu. “It is a journal that I want you to keep. I think it would be good for you to write down your successes and achievements and you can also look back on all the things you have done when you are older.”
  “Thanks,” Dragatu said weakly. He hated writing but accepted the gift from his father and over exaggerated his gratitude. “I probably won’t use it,” he thought to himself and put it in his bag.  
  “Now let’s get some sleep,” His father said, smiling at him, “tomorrow is another day.” And with that he lay down and Dragatu did the same but found it hard to sleep as his mind was pondering what he had just been told, but eventually sleep took him.
  The rest of the journey was much of the same as the start, except Dragatu really wanted to talk more about what he had been told about this Book of Prophecy. However after a few inquiring questions he knew his father was not going to answer any of them as to do so would break the promise.
  Dragatu told himself that this new information was pointless and he could do nothing with it. Plus it was only a book and he told himself books and words don’t make you strong, it’s what you do that matters. And by the time they reached the dry mud, grass and finally the hills, he had convinced himself of this and buried the thought of the Book of Prophecy deep down in his mind. The only thing that he was now concerned with was the hunting he was going to do in the hills, valleys and forests. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Re-Write To Get It Right (plus the first showing of the new improved Chapter 1!!)


In the last update I mentioned that I was thinking about doing a re-write and here is what happened that made me finally decide to do it.

There is an equation that has lead to this decision.

Rejections from agents + feedback from friends saying the story was difficult to read = something wrong.

After a lot of discussion it was concluded it was the journal style creating this problem and I had to eat humble pie and realise the journal style was not working as well as I thought it would. (I had been told this by author Anne Perry when I first emailed her at the start of this project looking for advice. I see now that her advice was right).

However I have had a year and a half of learning so I am grateful that I stuck to my guns. Now I can do my story justice and apply all the the things learned. 

 The re-write is already going very well and the first three chapters are done and have been edited a little but will no doubt have some errors still. However it is ten times better than the old version and good enough for now so please read the brand new and super improved Chapter 1 below and any feedback would be so so helpful. (Chapter 2 and 3 will follow in the next few days or weeks but I will update on facebook as usual).



The last words echoed in Dragatu’s mind. “Protect your brothers Dragatu! Get them home! And remember your promises!”
  The memory was only seconds old but it went round and round in his mind. The image of the giant white wolf chasing his father into the forest flashed before his eyes. Then his father and the wolf vanished amongst the trees and they faded into the darkness of the night.
  This roundabout of memories lasted for a minute then the shock began to pass and he was aware of his two brothers again. He turned to face them and they just stood there shaking, the shock paralysing them as it had Dragatu. Dragatu knew he had to take control of the situation to save them; they were his younger brothers after all. They may have only been younger than him by a few minutes, as they were triplets, but over their fifteen years of life he had always felt responsible for them.
  “Run!!” Dragatu shouted and began to briskly walk towards them gripping his bear skin pack tightly ready to pick up speed when they started running.
  Unilus came to his senses first and responded to the command. He took Phoenon by the arm and half dragged him in to a run. Dragatu ran behind them shouting comfort and orders.
  “Everything will be okay. Dad will be fine. Just keep moving!!”
  They were running blindly; slightly disorientated from the horrific events. Dragatu knew they were heading in a southerly direction from the few stars he could see in the sky, but with all the chaos that was whirly in his mind he didn’t have time to focus enough to lead them in an exact path that would take them out of the bowl shaped valley. 
  Dragatu kept his brothers running at an incredible pace and all they could see around them were blurred trees as they flew past them. He heard Phoenon sob every now and then, but he knew if they stopped to console each other they risked their lives.
  After running for about twenty minutes they suddenly came to the side of the valley. Dragatu then realised they must have been running in a more westerly direction than he had thought. In front of them was a crevasse that they could enter and Dragatu hoped this would lead them west along the side of the valley until they could turn to go due south and make their way over the hill. He took this path and his plan was then to rest near the small spring they had camped at several days before with their father. Then once they had rested they could cross the great desert to their home and he hoped his father would return soon after.
  Dragatu didn’t run but walked briskly through the passage, taking advantage of the assumed safety of being surrounded by rock. After about one hundred metres they came to a large opening and in front of them they saw the whole reason they had been in the northern hills.
  “Water!” The three of them gasped almost in unison.
  Dragatu took a few steps forward, crouched, then looked down and put his hand in the water. They had found it. They had found what could be the water the nation needed so desperately.
  As he looked in to the water he deliberately ignored the black hair and chiseled face of his reflection, which showed how much he looked like his father. His mother always teased him about it and called him her handsome little boy. He hated that, but at this time he paid no attention to all this. He just stood up and strained his eyes to see how far it went back, the star light didn’t give him much help, but he could tell it went back a long way and it was very wide.
  For a split moment he smiled because they had found it, but then he was angry because his father wasn’t there to see it. This anger extinguished any positive thoughts and brought him back to reality. He focused and quickly scanned the area for a way out. There was none. The walls were too steep to climb up and he turned around to lead them back out as quickly as he could.
  Unilus had already noticed there was no other way out and as Dragatu turned around Unilus nodded and quickly said,
  “Come on Phoenon. We have to go back.” Phoenon sobbed a little, but turned around; breathing deeply in preparation for the inevitable running that lay ahead. He was struggling with the amount they had been running because he was not used to physical exertion like his brothers. It was obvious from his appearance: he had a rounded physical shape that was in complete contrast to Unilus’ tall lean, skinny body and Dragatu’s heavy muscular shape. He had to dig as deep as his body would let him to keep up with them and he just wanted to stop and lie on the ground. It was all too much for him, but the motivation from his brothers was enough to push him so he kept going.
  Dragatu’s mind was alert and he knew that danger was still everywhere in the hills, and not just from the giant wolf, but from wild bears and other animals. So he took the lead and began running again. They slowed as they came out the way they had come and all their ears were strained, hoping not to hear the howl of the deadly animal.
  They stopped momentarily as they left the crevasse and Dragatu held his finger to his lips. They tried to stay as quiet as they could, but their breathing was still loud in the stillness of the night. As they listened and tried to hold their breathing as long as they could. This meant there was a split second of silence and that’s all there was, only silence. They all breathed a sigh of relief.
  “We must go south and leave the hills. If we can make it over the hills we will be safe and who knows? Dad may have killed the wolf and be waiting there for us.” Dragatu said this to give them encouragement and he hoped he was right. However he did not fully believe his own words. This was because when he had watched his father leave the words that had been spoken had had a ring of despair in them.
  Just as they began to run in the direction Dragatu lead them they heard a noise that made them all freeze on the spot.
  It was that same long loud howl they had heard when they were with their father before the wolf had first appeared and it was very close.
  Phoenon let out a few more sobs and Unilus murmured sadly the word, “Dad.”
  Dragatu knew that if the wolf was following them now there was little hope for their father and pain mixed with sadness swelled in his chest. But just as the tears began to swell he shook his head. This was no time to be weak and upset he thought. He had to save himself and his brothers.
  His mind raced as he tried to decide what to do. Could they really out run the wolf? It was very unlikely. Could they hide? No he thought. There was nothing to give them good cover in the hope the wolf would pass them by. There were only trees.
   And just as he realised the trees might be the way to escape the wolf Unilus spoke the same idea,
  “We need to climb up a tree each.”
  “Go then!” Dragatu half shouted, half whispered and he watched as Unilus pointed at a tree and told Phoenon to go up it. Just before they split up Dragatu gave a last order.
  “Be as quiet as you can. Do not move or speak until you hear my voice again.” He then ran to a tree next to him and began to climb it with incredible speed that his strength and the years of tree climbing had given him.
  They all got as high as they could and then tried to stay as still and silent as the dead. A few minutes past and they could hear the loud panting of the wolf below them. Dragatu slowly moved his head towards the sound and there was the wolf. Its white fur was splattered in blood where his father’s arrows had hit it but the most amount of blood was around its face. A tear fell down Dragatu’s face. There was no doubt in his mind that his father was dead. He controlled his breathing so not to release a sob and he hoped his brothers would do the same and not give away their hiding place.
  The wolf prowled the floor and sniffed violently. After a few more circles the wolf howled loudly with obvious frustration. Dragatu then felt the wind pick up and it was blowing from west to east. He saw the wolf sniff a couple more times and then it darted west and ran in that direction.
  Dragatu continued to breathe slowly and quietly, but heard two loud exhales from two of the trees nearby. He winced hoping the sound was not loud enough for the wolf to still hear it. He pleaded in his mind that they would stay quiet and wait for him to break the silence as he had told them. They did and he heard no more from them during the few minutes that he waited to make sure the wolf did not return. Then he heard the sound he was waiting for. A faint howl in the distance and immediately he broke the silence.
  “It is safe. Climb down now.”
Dragatu reached the bottom first and then Unilus and last they helped Phoenon down from his tree. Then Phoenon spoke,
  “He’s dead isn’t he?”
  “Yes.” Was the almost cold response Dragatu gave and Phoenon started to cry. Phoenon hugged Unilus who just stood there letting him, despite feeling uncomfortable. Unilus was not good at expressing his emotions and although felt very sad inside rarely showed how he felt, he just didn’t know how. Dragatu watched as Phoenon buried his head in Unilus chest. Unilus was a head taller than Phoenon and looked over the brown hair at Dragatu. Dragatu nodded at Unilus in acknowledgement that he was doing the right thing, Unilus nodded back.
  Dragatu then continued to try and do as his father had told him and get them safely home.
  “We must keep moving. There will be time for mourning later but we need to get out of here. We have to be brave so we can return to mum. Can you be strong for her Phoenon?” The question had the affect Dragatu had intended and Phoenon released Unilus and wiped his face nodding at the same time. Dragatu knew the thought of their mother would bring him around. He had always been their mothers favourite. Nothing else was said and the three of them jogged through the trees keeping all their senses alert.
  Finally they made it up the last of the hills that separated the desert from the hills and the forests they had been in.
They reached the top and the sun was beginning to rise on the horizon and they were happy to see the sky lighten around them and the darkness disperse. It gave the sense that the worst was over and they were safe.
  They began the descent and they were all hungry, thirsty and exhausted. Phoenon had asked to stop but Dragatu had said only when they reach the water spot they had previously camped at with their father.
  They trudged on and by high sun they came to the last big source of water they would see for about two weeks. The desert they were about to cross did have some water, but if you didn’t fill your water containers fully and know where to find water in the desert, you could die.
  “We can rest here” said Dragatu, as he threw off his pack and lay down on the ground needing a moment to bury the storm of tiredness and anger. After a few minutes of being aware of nothing but his own mind he finally regained his senses and sat up. He saw his brothers getting out bedding from their packs and took the lead once more.
  “Good idea,” he said, “Get some sleep. I will stay awake in the slim chance the wolf journeys down here. I don’t think it will because we came across it at the far side of the valley, which must be its territory. I think it got our scent and followed us from there. I believe it will return to its territory when it can’t find us. We should be safe but I will keep watch just in case.”
  Phoenon and Unilus did not argue as they knew their brother well and when he said he was going to do something he could not be convinced to do otherwise. So despite wanting to arrange shifts for keeping watch they obeyed him. They lay down and both cried for a short time and then finally fell asleep.
  Dragatu was now left alone and he began to think about all that had happened since they left their nation and tried to process it all wondering if he could have done more to stop all this from happening.

Please let me know what you think.