Self-Exceptional

I was thinking on the way back home from another dreary commute about self-belief. This is something I consider a lot, considering Burning Embers is all about the importance of accepting and loving who you are. You’ve got to be yourself because you can’t be anyone else – and no one else could do it as well!

Having made this decision to self-publish, I’ve been coming up with a few goals and targets for myself. A way to test if what I’ve written is exceptional. What is going to constitute success for all of the time and investment that’s gone into Feia’s story?

I want to have targets that I can reach – but that are also challenging. After all, if I set myself a target of one person to buy the novel and then that person is me, we’ll I can pat myself on the back for meeting my goal, but is it worth?

I set myself a few targets this year with my blog. I wanted to reach 1000 views this year, have 500 visitors and 200 followers. It won’t make this the most successful year for Fibijeeves, but it is a considerable improvement on the last two years where my blogging has been sporadic at best. Those two goals are in touching distance and I get a little thrill after each post and I can see them growing closer.

Now, Burning Embers…what do I want to achieve? What will be success and what would be Exceptional?

How will I achieve my goals?

A cunning marketing strategy I hear you cry!

Well…I’m going to give it ago. Is it a strategy? I’m planning to increase my blog posts (hello!) and twitter feed, and update my facebook page more regularly. I’m reaching out to bloggers who review YA fantasy – if that’s you or you’d be interested in reviewing Burning Embers then drop me a message or e-mail me at fibijeeves@gmail.com.

So, I’m doing all of those things, and I’m reaching out to friends and family to say that this is -finally- happening, after the many many years of people asking me how the book is going. I will now be able to say IT IS DONE! Not only is it done, but I’m working on something new…

I’m also posting chapters on Wattpad, which is something I’m really excited about. It just seems the right platform to try and find my readers. Readers of YA and NA fiction, readers who will (hopefully) fall in love with the world and want to know more about the characters, the places. I want fans that want to live in Arenith, the way that I never wanted to leave Narnia behind. Wattpad seems the place to find these passionate and creative people. Second Chapter is going up as soon as this blog post is done published.

What are my goals? I’m going to be honest with them, and I’ll let you know if I meet them or not. I’d love to sell 100 copies before release. That’s 100 pre-orders on ebook and print.

I’d love 600 people to buy the book in the next six months. Is that even achievable – I just don’t know!

In utter fantasy land, 1000 copies within a year would be a dream. This would be the exceptional, incredible ending (or beginning) to my adventures in Arenith with Feia.

Wish me luck!

Let me know what your goals are and how you’re working towards them.

Also, don’t forget to get in touch if you would like to review Burning Embers. I’ll accept totally honest reviews!

Happy Reading

Fibi xxx

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Touching the Stars

My manuscript for Burning Embers has come back from the Editor – cue excited squealing! So this leaves me with a whole list of things to do, as quickly as I can do them!

First things first, I am so excited to reveal the cover for Burning Embers. I hope that you like it! I’ve gone for a simple but striking image that will stand out in the teeny tiny display of Amazon. Hopefully it prompts a few questions about the novel and will entice some willing readers in. Let me know what you think!

Adobe Spark (3)

Secondly, because the MS is back, I’ll now be able to comment posting on Wattpad and the first 1500 words of Burning Embers will be appearing shortly online. I hope that you enjoy the introduction to the world of Arenith and fall in love with the characters I’ve spent so long dreaming about (so long…so soooo long…)

Final piece of super exciting information is that I hope to make the ebook and print versions of Burning Embers available for pre-order…before the end of the week!

I love it when a daily prompt: Believe is the final shining star on an amazing day. Being able to share my fizzing excitement with you all is just amazing, and it has come from years and years of belief. Belief that I can write a full-length novel, I can edit it and make it better – I can even turn it into a book. Now belief doesn’t make things happens on their own, belief must be combined with a willingness to work hard and persist. But when you aim for those stars – my goodness it feels good when they’re finally in reach!

I’d love to hear what you think about the cover.

Happy Reading

Fibi xxx

Don’t see me

He peered through the window that was greyed with dust. His fingers gnarled on the frame, nails catching in the curls of leftover paint. It had been blue once, the colour of a crisp autumn sky. Blue windows and shutters as eyes on a crisp pale house. That had been long before last winter or even the winter before. The shutters had peeled back, copper hinges warped and bent. The heavy wooden panels beat against the painted walls, and the fragile glass shivered.

His nose pressed against the cool glass, smudged the surface. He would not breathe. The fine hairs tickled his face, because the dust moved. It smelt like damp coal; dark, earthy and trapped inside for far too long. No one came here anymore. Except him. Except her. Eyes lashes flickered and he blinked fast.

She visited the house every year, with the turning of the seasons. A tall woman with broad shoulders and inky hair. She wasn’t like the other women he saw in the marketplace, or moving through the town. Bold women who were loud, or joyous or sad or angry. Women who wore their hearts on their sleeves, or hid them. There were women who hid in shadows and cringed away from passers by. There were girls with long hair flowing down their backs as they skipped and taunted their classmates. There were older women, hands curled with aged and features haunted by wisdom. There was no like her though. The woman with hair cut with razor precision to her chin. She was bundled up in furs and kept her hands hidden beneath her long coat. Her dark eyes were narrowed as she came and stared, and studied.

His legs, bent beneath him, started to cramp. He was older now, and it wasn’t comfortable to bend beneath the window to watch. Every year he wondered, if he should come back and every year he decided no. Then the season would change and he would find himself, slipping through the shadows towards the broken house. He’d break the old lock on the back door and set the rusted chain to one side. He’d crawl along the dirty floor and he would wait, perched like a crow beneath the frame. He always worried that she wouldn’t come, the woman. Yet, he always hoped that she would.

The muscle in his calf caught fire, tight and seizing, flickering. He pushed back from the window, mouth clamped shut. He would not shout out, he could not! He wrapped his hands around his leg and pounded the muscle. The shutters banged against the pane. Eyes lifted skyward he stifled a groan and the pain began to ease. Slowly the burning ceased, as though a brand was removed from his skin.

Had he made a noise, or had she seen the movement behind the darkened pane? Ilyad looked up, tears streaking tracks down dark cheeks. The woman. She stood at the window she was staring at him.

This was a response to today’s daily prompt of: Interest

The prompt caught my imagination and I hope that you enjoy! Did I manage to hold your attention till the end? Let me know what you think!

Happy Writing,

Fibi xx

The Dragon’s Bride

I’m Writing for the Poisoned Well is going well! I’m getting closer and closer to the end and then the editing will begin in earnest. However, for now I thought that I would share this extract with you. I hope you like it! Remember to leave me a comment 🙂

The Poisoned Well – Extract

They made a fire on the beach beneath the stars. No clouds covered the sky or hid the stars as they stretched out, wary of the flying bugs. Lyris buried her feet in the sands as they started to cool. Timmit told them about his travels by foot from Ipito to Golden Fort. He’d trained in the capital city before venturing out to live somewhere a little quieter, and further away from his family. Kit shared a story from the caravan, how Rafa had fallen in love with Kelanin and defied his guild to follow the wagon’s, forsaking his license of medicine. Arnit had declined to share a story of his own, and instead, Timmit had started to speak again.  An ancient folk-tale about a dragon who fell in love with a girl.

The mighty Arian would watch the girl from the mountains above the castle where she lived. With all of his years of life upon the world, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes upon. He was a guardian the pass between Veglen and Ipito and he watched over the girl and her family, and visited her in her dreams. Till one day, word reached his cave that the Princess of the land was due to marry. Jealous, he made a deal with the old gods, and traded his scales and impossible hide for breakable flesh of a man. Though he retained some of his mighty power, an ability to communicate with the beasts, the birds and the serpents of the sky.

‘I heard he kept his gold too,’ Kit interrupted and Arn, who had been sat listening to every word, punched the traveller in the arm.

‘Dragons are famous for their hordes of coin,’ Timmit conceded, ‘though it is believed that Arian sacrificed his wealth for this, a chance to wed his beloved before she could marry a Prince from a distant land.’

‘He probably couldn’t carry it down the mountain,’ Kit was stretched out, with his hands looped behind his head, and this time, Lyris prodded him in the belly. He yelped, gripped his side and rolled to his knees. ‘Alright, alright,’ he laughed and gestured for Timmit to continue.

Lyris must have heard the story a thousand times, but sat watching Arn over the firepit the myth meant more to her. The young woman wrapped her arms around her knees, and with a final glare at the repenting Kit, watched Timmit as the dark-haired man continued once more.

‘Arian came down from the mountain,’ the Smith paused, waiting for Kit’s additional commentary. The traveller grinned, but remained mute, ‘and he approached the castle with an aura of splendour. The guards knelt before his power and he was granted an audience with the King. Arian made his request, to take the hand of the King’s daughter. For he was certain that she loved him as truly and as deeply as he loved her. For they had spoken in dreams about their desires. The young woman wanted to travel the world and save it, too bring light to dark places and the hearts of men. She had no desire for wealth or nobility and Arian knew that there was no heart so pure as that of his love. The King, believing that Arian was the Prince sent from the distant lands, was eager to agree the match and the next day. Arian was bound to his bride. The ceremony complete, he turned to the girl beside him and lifted the veil from her face.’

It had been difficult, to see Arn all throughout the day, without any chance to speak to him alone and ask her questions. To reach out and touch him, or pull him into a dark corner and forget that the rest of the world existed. The young woman watched him now, fascinated by his expression as he listened to the story that he too, must have heard a thousand times.

‘Arien had trusted the king,’ Timmit continued and poked the embers of the fire with a stick. Sparks shot into the air and scattered in the wind, drifting like fireflies over the beach. Everything smelt like wood-smoke. Sand covered her feet and hands and the young woman shifted. It always looked so soft, until you sat on it for too long.

‘Arien was furious to find that his bride was not the princess. His love had hair the colour of smelted gold and eyes as dark as the night. He turned his wrath on the king, and demanded to know what trickery this was. The princess, his bride and now his wife, was a woman with dark hair like yours Lyris, and eyes as pale as the jealous moon. The King grew angry and demanded to know why Arien, a prince of distant land could treat him so poorly. Arien explained that this was not his love, the woman he had come to marry. The King was confused, this was his only daughter, and a whisper rose through the court. Finally, a young woman stepped forward, with her hair the colour of the setting sun and the darkest eyes the dragon had ever known. His love, a servant, daughter of servants and granddaughter of servants. She had watched the ceremony with tears in her eyes, and her lover marry the princess and bound with blood.’

‘What happened to them?’ Lyris had heard the story, but there had been different endings. Sometimes, the King annulled the marriage and the servant and the dragon lived happily ever after.

‘Arien was bound to his wife,’ Timmit finished the story, ‘for his foolish belief that beauty could only belong to the rich and the powerful. When in truth, beauty is something that is born within, and more often found in the humblest houses.’ He prodded a lump of coal and avoided the young woman’s gaze.

Kit snorted and stood, brushing the sand from his trousers, ‘or he regained his form as a dragon, melted the King on his throne and flew away with the servant on his back.’

Arn stirred, his own hair the colour of burnt copper in the firelight. He lifted a shoulder in a shrug, ‘they say that he grew to love the Princess, though when the Prince from a distant land arrived, the servant girl was offered to him in marriage. Part to punish Arien for his secret love of the maiden, and in part to hide the fact that the King’s daughter had been married to the wrong man.’

‘What do you believe?’ Lyris joined Kit on her feet. Together they doused the last flames and scattered sand on the embers.

‘I believe that it’s a story,’ Arn smiled, and staggered to his own feet with a groan. He watched her, across the pit but kept his distance.

‘Come on,’ Kit slung an arm around her shoulders and led the way back to the boat, ‘tomorrow we’ll be docking in Toscun, and you’re still never going to beat me at dice.’

‘Because you cheat,’ Lyris and Timmit responded in chorus.

‘Everyone cheats,’ Kit laughed, ‘you just have to be the better cheat.”

‘You’re full of brass

To plan the words – or to let them dictate?

This weekend started with an impossible goal. Intending to get everything finished for The Poisoned Well, I decided, yesterday, that I was going to write 20,000 words in two days. No big deal. Then reality dropped by and this obviously has not happened. I’ll Detonate that target now and gladly; ka-boom! Although I have made a respectable amount of progress and I’m pleased with the development of the story. I just about hit my target for today, when a writing friend from across the globe in New Zealand explained they were planning to write 15,000 words. Naturally, a challenge was set and the race is on. My brain is already a little tired today, so there was no way I was going to reach 15,000 words! However, Hollie has managed an amazing 4,000 and I’m 1000 words up on my target and ready for the week ahead.

Now, onto the serious blogging.

I’ve started to do a series of posts about writing a novel, so here is part two: Planning

To plan, or not to plan?

Now, having attempted novel writing myself, and finishing the first manuscript: Burning Embers, I feel I have a good idea of how to get this ball rolling. I’ve also be reading up on other writers and their techniques to what can feel like a long slog. The conclusion, is that like anything, there are several different ways to plan a novel.

1: Using a program to write. I’ve never done this, but I know a lot of people swear by it. There are a lot of free programs, and paid ones out there. They seem like a useful place to store information, write character sheets and keep motivating. Such as at: Bibisco

One thing that strikes me about this kind of software, is how easy it is to plan to an exacting detail. You can set how many chapters, what will happen in each one, their intended word count and then map the arc of your book in a diagram.

Pro: You’re able to set clear targets and goals. You’ll also be super organised!

Cons: Does it allow the same flexibility? If you’re going to go over your word count for that chapter, will it feel like a bonus, or a negative thing? Knowing myself, I think I’d have too much fun setting up the minutia and then not get as much writing done. It’s hard enough with facebook, and reading daily prompts, and twitter to get a clear head and just get the words down.

Then there is perhaps the opposite to using a program to plan out the individual steps.

2. No planning. When the LOTR extended box-sets were released, I was addicted. I probably know the words of every single interview, better than I know the films. Viggo…if we tip over…save yourself…

One thing that always remained clear in my memory though, was the discussion about how Tolkien approached the LOTR. After the success of the Hobbit, he set out to write the sequel. Now, there’s a lot of complaints about G.R.R.Martin finishing a Song of Ice and Fire, yet it took Tolkien 12, (17 according to some sources) years to write the Lord of the Rings! 12 YEARS! Now, the image that stuck with me, was the way they described Tolkien’s approach. He sat down and he started to write.  He didn’t know where the story was going, and eventually he got stuck, scrapped it all and started again – from the beginning. This time, he got a little further, until he reached a point where he couldn’t continue – scrapped it all, and started again.

This is in the day before the computer! It was described as the waves rushing up the beach, every time they got a little further until we had the Lord of the Rings that we know and love. It sounds exhausting.

I like to have flexibility when I write, I like to be able to let my characters breathe and develop their own voices and ideas. This is possibly because I am rubbish at Character sheets. In the role play community people ask me – so how much planning did you put into this character and their arc and I get all embarrassed and mumble…I wrote the bare minimum so you would let me write on your site… however, I think it’s a good idea to have some vague concepts in mind and at least a direction.

Now, I was always going to advocate for option three – the middle ground. Option 1 is a planned hike with your day sketched out to the minute. You have everything in your bag, that you might possibly ever need. A strict schedule to keep you moving, and gps on your phone so you don’t stray from the path. Option 2 seems like setting out on a journey, with just your boots on your feet and wondering where you’ll end up. There’s a certain amount of mystery and allure to this, I must admit. However, Option 3 – you’re prepared for a hike. You have essential supplies to get you through and regular way points to tick off at each chapter.

3. Middle-Ground Planning

When I start off on a journey, ready to write a longer piece of fiction. I like to have a clear idea of a few things. They’re listed in Getting Started as well.

  1. Approximate word count. How big of a beast is this going to be?
  2. Audience? Adult, Children, YA? (Inevitably the answer for me is YA)
  3. What do I plan to do with the project when it’s done? My current intention to publish The Poisoned Well on Wattpad has meant that I’m aiming for chapters with around 2000 words in each.
  4. What is the destination – roughly? I love to have a good start, but then I like to now where I’m aiming for. As a few chapters get ticked off, then a plan starts to form, of how I’m going to get there. I can draw a few lines on the map at least. Then a few more chapters down, and I work out how I’m going to mess with the straight lines, and make a more interesting narrative.

I like to think of this as a middle-ground plan, a rough guide. It’s not without its downside. I could probably do with being more focused at the beginning of a project and do some world-building first. It’s hard to build a map around a narrative, and feels less realistic. Then you realise that you characters have been walking in the wrong direction, and it’s edit the map, or edit the text…I could probably take a bit more from planning the tiny details, but then I could probably loosen up a little more as well.

Let me know how it goes, or if you use a different programme for writing. I’d be interested to give one a go on another project.

Happy Writing

Fibi

Just One

None

No words to grace the page or screen in several days.

Well, that’s not strictly true but my blog has been a quieter adventure. With the bank holiday and a trip away to gorgeous Norfolk, I’m afraid I’ve not been in my usual pre-emptive ability to post. I’m still writing though.

I returned to The Poisoned Well this afternoon and I completed my words. I still have my goals and my desire to write for them.

It feels that way sometimes though, as if writing is all or nothing. I’ve discussed this in previous posts but it is so important to keep writing, something, every day. After returning from a bank holiday it would be easy to set the novel aside and just think, maybe tomorrow. Or perhaps the day after that…and then suddenly its three months later and you’re returning to pick up old threads of a long-forgotten project.

My advice for breaking past that stop?  Do it fast.

Set yourself a goal of what you can realistically write each day. For me it should be 500 words. Some days I write 1000 and some days its 2000. On those days I feel like a boss, a might word warrior who is mere weeks away from conquering the world!

It’s the other days that are harder, when I’m sat looking at the screen with no words written for my project. 500 words can seem like a marathon. Especially after a break. If it’s been a few days since you last added to your novel, or current writing project, remember. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It might take a couple of days to get back into the rhythm.

After a break, adjust your aim. If your usual goal is 500 words, then try for 250, or failing that 100.

The next day, increase your target. 100 to 250, 250 to 500 and then allow yourself to feel satisfied. We’re our own worst critics and it’s easy to start thinking about the negatives. ‘Oh, I didn’t hit 500 words today,’ – you know what, that’s okay. You’ll do it tomorrow.

One day your word contribution might be none. That’s alright. Just make sure the next day that it’s some. (Or even just one.)

Someday

Response to a Daily Prompt: Someday

Someday, all my Dragons will come true.

Eleia stood at the window, with her hands in the sink. Beyond the horizon purple clouds were touched with silver. The tang of fresh-brewed tea drifted with soap suds. Despite the autumn warmth, the fire roared and crackled behind and she wore layers of heavy wool. Sleeves pushed back to the elbow to keep them out of the washing. A sponge was held by limp fingers, and a plate in the other hand. A shape separated from the mountain tops, lifting with a flap of outstretched wings.

An aquiline neck and serpent body that coiled like smoke as it rose. The beast screamed fire into the falling night and was silhouetted for a breath, before it was swallowed by darkness and vanished against the night. The screech raced along her arms and lifted the fine hairs. It tingled down her rigid spine as she lent forward. Soapy fingers slipped on the catch as she reached for the window.  The metal lifted with ease and the window opened at a touch.

She could smell the acrid singe of Dragon-breath. One day, she promised herself. Someday soon, she would do it. She would throw away the dishcloth and humdrum life. One day she would learn how to fly.