Tuesday, 18 July 2017

#talkabouttuesday THE HERO'S QUEST

Every story consists, in one form or another, of a selection of specific characters; archetypes interwoven into a specific story arc. And what I’m about to tell you isn’t new… Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler have already covered this, but I think they are amongst some of the most important writing lessons anyone could ever learn and should always bear in mind when constructing their plot. 

In fact, it's probably something you already do and don’t even realise. Don’t believe me? Okay, consider these:

1.) The hero is introduced in his/her ORDINARY WORLD

2.) The CALL TO ADVENTURE.

3.) The hero is reluctant at first. (REFUSAL OF THE CALL.)

4.) The hero is encouraged by the Wise Old Man or Woman. (MEETING WITH THE MENTOR.)

5.)  The hero passes the first threshold.  (CROSSING THE THRESHOLD.)

6.) The hero encounters tests and helpers. (TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES.)

7.)  The hero reaches the innermost cave.  (APPROACH TO THE INMOST CAVE.)

8.) The hero endures the supreme ORDEAL. 

9.) The hero seizes the sword. (SEIZING THE SWORD, REWARD)

10.)  THE ROAD BACK.

11.) RESURRECTION.

12.)  RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR

Don’t think you can fit this around any story? Okay then…
We meet farm boy Luke Skywalker on Tatooine (ordinary world introduction). He meets R2D2, C3PO and Obi Wan Kenobi. Obi Wan tells him of his father who fought in the Clone Wars (call to adventure). Asked to accompany Obi Wan, Luke refuses until he discovers his aunt and uncle murdered which then persuades him otherwise (meeting with the mentor). 
Journeying to Mos Eisley, he meets Han Solo and Chewbacca (crossing the threshold) that leads to an encounter with Princess Leia, the Death Star and Darth Vader (tests, allies, enemies). He journeys deep into the Death Star (approach to the innermost cave) but loses Obi Wan to Darth Vader (ordeal). Returning to join the Rebellion, he joins them in an attack on the Death Star (seizing the sword). Successful in blowing up the gigantic space station, he receives his reward alongside Han and Chewie (the road back). Indeed, in Return of the Jedi, he almost turns to the dark side whilst fighting his father which is the resurrection. The lesson Luke has learned throughout the entire Star Wars saga is about the light and dark sides of the force and how powerful friends and family can be (return with the Elixir).



Everyone knows the old adage of ‘the villain makes the hero’. You need the evil so overwhelming that the most unlikely good can overcome it. Joseph Campbell knew this, which is why his construct for what makes the best stories can be seen in countless tales over countless years.  He also knew you needed specific character types, or archetypes as he called them, to make your stories truly come to life. And they were; heroes, shadows, mentors, heralds, threshold guardians, shape shifters, tricksters and allies. 

Using Sherlock Holmes as an example – Holmes is the hero, Moriarty is the shadow or villain, Watson is the mentor with guiding principles, Irene Adler could be the herald who calls the hero to adventure, Lestrade could be the threshold guardian standing in the way of important points, the shape shifter could be Stapleton in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the trickster, once again Irene Adler/Moriarty and the allies, well Lestrade again and even Adler on some occasions if the circumstances suit her. The character types can be interchangeable, but the fact exists that they are always there in some respect. 



Works with Doctor Who too…
The Doctor – hero. 
Dalek/Cyberman/Sontaran/Weeping Angel – villain. 
The Face of Boe– mentor.
Wilf (Donna’s uncle who ended up being the cause of the 10th Doctor’s regeneration)– threshold guardian
Captain Jack Harkness – shapeshifter
Missy/The Master - trickster
Amy/Sarah-Jane/Clara/Donna/Martha/Rose - allies



Think about it… it works with your story too though granted, as with anything, you may not have rigidly adhered to these guidelines. Stick too closely and your story will be stilted… deviate too far and your story will be lost in a mire of plot holes and inconsistencies. 
But use it as a skeleton framework to build your story around, and you can shuffle them about, retitle them, delete some, add others and discover the true power held within your story. Power to tell the most wonderful of tales that you hadn’t even realised. 

Recommended reading - 






Tuesday, 11 July 2017

#talkabouttuesday - WHY RESEARCH FOR YOUR NOVEL?

When I began writing Hellbound in 2012, I made one huge, monumental mistake. 
I carried out no research, whatsoever.                                                                                                      
International bestselling author, Steve Alten, had taken me on as a writing coach client where he would act as a mentor of sorts, editing each chapter as I went along and offering narrative suggestions where appropriate. Upon discussion of Hellbound’s general plot, I opted to write 5 pages of the first chapter off the top of my head. You would think I would pay attention to a man who, as I mentioned at the beginning of this sentence is an international and New York Times bestselling author. 
Do I tell you this to boast? Not at all. Steve has taken around 14 clients under his wing since he started his writing coach programme and being a huge fan of his work, I got a huge buzz just out of him teaching me how to write basically... which is what it ultimately amounted to because, of course, I knew better!
These pages were immediately met with justified criticism because, as he rightly said, I was lacking research and perspective. Who was the antagonist? Why was I opening on him? His name didn’t work, it wasn’t creepy enough and sounded more like a rock star's  I had called him Cameron Brett Easton, in homage to the great author of American Psycho) Where was the prison? Was it real or fictitious? Basically, I hadn’t written anything that would hook the reader, which is probably the most important aspect of any book.                                                       
I quickly realised I was writing what I thought I knew about prisons and prisoners, when I actually knew nothing. 
I needed to learn it and then write it.                    
As an example, here is a sample from the opening of Hellbound before and after research being carried out:

Original draft
Blacktower penitentiary currently housed two hundred and eighty-seven prisoners who were awaiting execution for their various crimes, though it had the capacity to hold more than three hundred. It was divided into 3 levels, each self-contained with its own amenities and individual security measures. The upper level housed the murderers and rapists of the country; the middle level catered for those criminals with particularly exotic tastes in crime, such as contract killers and assassins who had had the misfortune of being caught in the act or just after. These criminals were awaiting the death penalty due to the nature of their crimes, which had either been performed for financial motivation or were their actual careers. This differed from those criminals on the first level, as it could be argued that, however repulsive their crimes may well have been, theirs were also crimes of passion and instinctual, and not necessarily premeditated. 
However, it was the lower, third level which held the piesta résistance of the criminal world. This was where, in virtual solitude and isolation, the country and possibly the world’s, most dangerous and unrepentant criminals resided as they awaited their day of reckoning. Here you could expect to find the serial paedophiles who took joy in murdering their victims and disposing of their once, innocent bodies in the most abhorrent of fashions. You may also expect to see the serial killers who had used new and unusual methods of taking their victims lives, which ranged from simple dismemberment to more extreme examples of culinary and gastrological cuisine. 
The being that Harrison Maybrick was coming to watch die today was of those people. He was known only as Erebus.

Not great, is it? Nothing of substance about it; dull, unimaginative and completely lacking in perspective for the reader. 
Below is after conducting a month of research into maximum security prisons and visiting Ireland - 
Final draft
ADX Absolom was unofficially referred to as Alcatraz of the Blasket Islands. The maximum security prison was situated on the Dingle Peninsular, an archipelago at the most westerly point of Ireland. Known to the Irish as An Fear Marbh, the land mass resembled a sleeping giant. To the guards who worked behind its stone walls, it was simply called “The Dead Man.”                  
The prison covered thirty-seven acres and contained four hundred and ninety cells, each one reserved for men convicted of the most violent crimes in need of the tightest control. Each inmate would spend their life sentence in their cell – essentially a concrete box with a four-inch wide sliver of window. Furnishings were limited to a concrete bench built into one of the walls, a toilet that stopped working if blocked, a shower that ran on a timer to prevent flooding and a sink missing its plug to prevent it being fashioned into a weapon. In return for good behaviour, the prisoners had the opportunity to have a polished steel mirror bolted to the wall. A radio and a television – all controlled remotely so the inmate did not actually come into contact with them – were additional rewards to be earned. Only recreational, educational and religious programming was permitted by the warden.
The man he was waiting for on this occasion was being prepared in a room adjacent to the death house. He had been transferred from Sector 17 – a group of cells designed to hold the most dangerous of Absolom’s prisoners. It currently held two prisoners. After this day was over, there would only be one.              

The first draft was sloppy, rushed and lacking anything that remotely resembled reality, despite the fact the story is fictional. The final draft was tighter, grounded, detailed but not overly so, and most importantly, believable.                            
  If you establish even the most fantastical elements of a story in some reality, the reader will follow you anywhere.                                                                          
Take Jaws for example. Peter Benchley didn’t think that audiences would buy the shark being killed by a gunshot to an oxygen cylinder. Steven Speilberg said that if he could keep them for the first hour and a half, they would buy the last five minutes. And it works. Due to the intricate and detailed nature of Brody, Quint and Hooper’s characters and the idyllic and homely setting of Amity Island, you buy Brody’s heroic last-ditch attempt to kill the shark with a rifle and a combustible oxygen cylinder (not to mention John Williams's epic score!)


Research is where Hellbound, any novel, begins to become something more than you originally envisioned. It is in this process that your story goes from just words on a page to a living, breathing world, populated with characterisation, locations that come alive and scenes that make the reader feel as though they were there with you as you wrote them. After all, you cannot shortchange the reader by ‘telling’ them what it’s like; you have to ‘show’ them. They need smells, terms and atmosphere.                                                                                                                    
They need to feel as though they are there. After all, they are going to hopefully want to spend more time in the worlds you create, so it pays to ensure that your world, the one you wish them to join you in, is as real as the one we live in now (though with all the research on my computer relating to serial killers and executions, Kelly is starting to worry!!)                             







Tuesday, 4 July 2017

#TALK ABOUT TUESDAY - Special guest post by International bestseller author, Steve Alten - July 2017

Hi guys!

For our first #TALKABOUTTUESDAY blog piece, we have a very special guest to kick us off.

Steve Alten is the international bestselling author of 17 novels including Meg, the Domain Trilogy, Grim Reaper;End of Days, The Shell Game, Undisclosed and many more. He was also my writing coach and editor of Hellbound. I learned so much from him about writing, editing, structure, character development and most importantly, the necessity of research. I've never forgotten the lessons he taught me and try to impart as much of his wisdom as I can to budding authors.

However, I could never do justice to his expertise and knowledge, so in that case, I shall leave it up to the man himself!

www.stevealten.com
www.bnbsbooks.co.uk
#megalodon
#thrillers
#bnbsbooks
#crowdfunding
#writing

Steve's new novel, Undisclosed, is available here in the U.K and here in the U.S.A





Sunday, 23 April 2017

Oscar De Muriel Interview - Hosted by Donna Marie McCarthy

Oscar De Muriel’s thoughts on Books, Publishing, Nightmares and Dinosaurs!

I cannot tell you how thrilled I was when my new author crush, Oscar de Muriel, agreed to be my first ever interview with Britain’s Next Bestseller!

For an author so obviously destined for great things, he is incredibly down to earth, funny and approachable.

I first noticed him through a literary agent’s blog. I was looking to submit and they had an article on the man himself so naturally I was hooked! Not only because of his unique voice, but because of this…

This is his signature, one of numerous unique doodles he signs his books with (anyone who knows me will get why I like it!😉)

I am sure you are as intrigued as I was, so here are some words from the man himself…

I was born in Mexico City in 1983, in the building that now houses ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ museum ( some people claim to see a connection there…) I had a very happy childhood even though I did not try refried beans until I was six (I refused to eat anything brown and gooey).

My first attempt at writing stories, aged seven, was a tale about a Triceratops  and a Stegosaurus battling a very hungry T-Rex. Their three-page, ten-line long adventure was profusely illustrated by the author. Stegosaurus was extinct millions of years before the first T-Rex hatched, but still I consider it a milestone.

When I was ten, Jurassic Park (the novel) scared the Jesus out of me – reminiscent of that Friends episode where Joey Tribiani hides his books in the fridge (I blogged about that)  I'd never thought that written stories could have such a thrilling effect, and as soon as I got JP out of the freezer I decided I wanted to become a writer.

After a few fiascos and blatant steals, I managed to produce a few decent novels in various genres. However, I found myself particularly comfortable writing historical fiction. I came to the U.K. to complete a PhD in Chemistry, working as a free-lance translator to complement my earnings (I was responsible for some cool Johnnie Walker’s ads for Columbia). During this time I produced a handful of academic papers, and the idea of a spooky whodunnit started to take roots in my head.

After several visits to Edinburgh, the city struck me as the perfect setting for a crime mystery. The entire concept of Nine–Nails McGray came to my head while eating pizza with a couple friends (guys, do you remember Cantina Los Perros and the sea monster?)For years I'd been meaning to write a story about the Devil’s sonata (I am a violin player myself, which I should have probably mentioned earlier…) and it fit perfectly as McGray’s first case –  the first of many.
I went through the literary agent hunt (I will definitely blog about that some day!) until Maggie Hanbury rescued me from the slush pile and lent me her very professional hand. I currently live in Lancashire in a lovely house that overlooks Pendle Hill, a field of limping sheep, and a very creepy-looking manor I aspire to own one day.

Wow! As I said, not only are his books fantastic, his life is pretty awesome too and he kindly allowed me to ‘open the floor’ for questions, on Facebook (how cool is that…?)

Emma Pullar asked 'Do you believe Storytelling can be taught? Or do you think that Writers have a natural talent and simply hone their tool with experience, like a Singer does their voice?'
Some people train to sing all their life but they will never be Adele.

Great Adele example! I can't sing a note. I do think people are born with different skills, and storytelling is just another skill. Having said that, even if you ‘have it’ you still need to put lots of work into it, polish up your style and technique. The competition is fierce!

Ellen Devenport asked 'How do you find your dark places? Can you open and shut this door freely?'
It is easier to open it than it is to close it!
When I write a spooky or dark scene I usually play some music to get in the right mood, and writing at night also helps. Mind, I wrote the wrapping up chapters of ‘Strings of Murder’ home alone at 3am, and couldn't sleep after that!

Sarah Hodgson asked 'Do dreams, nightmares, influence your work?'
Of course. Part of book 4 will be based on a nightmare I had a few years ago.

Donna Maria McCarthy asked 'Do you believe that getting your book out there is more important than talking verbatim what the industry says about avenues to achieve this?'
That really depends on what you want from writing. I always knew that I wanted to make a career out of it. I think the traditional publishing industry is very exciting, full of creative and talented people that I wouldn't have met otherwise.

Donna Maria McCarthy asked. 'How did you create your fantastic signature? It was how I initially noticed you. Do you think we all need a hook to get noticed, read? The slush pile is a scary place to be!'
I swear this is true:- On a launch party for ‘The Strings of Murder’ someone put a book in my hands and asked me to sign it. Until then I hadn't thought of it so I just scribbled my initials. They looked cool enough so I went on like that! On the other hand I like to draw a doodle on every book I sign, and I come up with a different one for each book in the series. To draw quickly enough I need to practice them a few times, but I think it is worth it, it's my sign of appreciation to the readers.

I absolutely loved this interview, and thank you again to Oscar for taking time out of his busy schedule (he assures me that he is ‘madly writing the climax to book 4’ And I for one cannot wait!


Follow the links for Amazon to dip into this awesome series!





















Sunday, 12 March 2017

Percy has flown!!!!

Katie Budge has done it!



When Kelly and I took over BNBS last year, we needed to reinvigorate and reintroduce what Murielle and myself had always believed was a innovative concept; not crowd funding per se, but using it as a tool for readers to decide which books get published.

We needed a book to relaunch, for want of a better word, the BNBS brand and it had to be successful. It had to be successful for the sake of the company to show BNBS was still a publishing company with enormous potential and it had to be successful for the sake of the author who had signed with us to confirm their belief that we could help them realise their dream.

It's quite a heady responsibility, having someones' dreams in the palm of your hand. But that said, we actually didn't help Katie achieve her dream...you did. Every single person who donated for a reward or simply supported out of kindness or belief in what Katie was trying to do, you made her dream a reality. BNBS just kind of smooth out the edges, pay a few licensing conversation fees and then send it from here to there and from there to Amazon and bookshops.

Katie's campaign still has a few weeks to go and remains open for donations, but once it is complete then Katie Budge's first published book 'Percy the Pigeon' will be available to purchase and for children and adults alike to enjoy. It is a truly lovely and gentle tale about sharing and why it is important. Interestingly (and this makes Katie's success all the more poignant) , this isn't her first time around with BNBS. Approximately two years Katie had a book with BNBS that failed to hit its target, but instead of taking what is a disappointing blow and letting it destroy her dream, she not  only persevered but returned to us for her next book. For that Kelly and I are forever grateful.



Katie has proven that BNBS still works as a crowd funding mechanism which has led to a large number of manuscripts being submitted to us which our talented and diligent manuscript advisors in the forms of Julie Timlin, Noelle Holten and Lisa Eddom are working their way through.

So, what next? Well, we have Rob Enright's revenge thriller 'One by One' being proof read and copy edited for before being returned to Rob so he can tidy up a few things and we can develop a lovely, new cover, blurb and all that jazz (I loved this book!). This will be our next book aiming to secure a publishing deal which shall be closely followed by Charlotte Teece's 'Toxic City' which is truly one of the best books I have ever read. This young lady is an amazing talent which will be evident when you read it.

We then have more spread out throughout the year along with some really exciting news (which once again I can't share as I haven't quite signed on the dotted line yet, but once I do you shall be the first to know!) and of course we have the book on Charlie Kray by Steve Wraith due towards the end of the year not to mention Stephen Sayers next crime thriller and possibly a few inspirational true life books that I will have the privilege of ghost writing. One of these, if secured, will be a groundbreaking and motivating tale told by one very strong, young lady. And there's a few other bits and pieces going on that keep us occupied (I mean, come on, nursing doesn't keep Kelly and I that busy anyway!!!)

Stay safe, keep reading and writing and know that BNBS wouldn't exist with you.

D, K and the team


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Exciting times lie ahead...

Hi guys,

So, another month, another blog and more exiting news to share.

In no particular order, I am proud to announce that we have added two more members to our growing team. Authors extraordinaire Julie Timlin (one of BNBS's own!) and Lisa Eddom will now be working alongside Noelle in the roles of manuscript advisors. Whereas Noelle focuses on the crime genre, Julie will be looking at fantasy and Lisa at those submissions in the supernatural genre. Kelly and I are honoured that they were amongst the first to accept our open proposal to join us and are privileged to have their input. Welcome to the team, guys!!!

We'll have a few final announcements regarding other additions soon.

Another exiting piece of news that I was able to confirm today is that BNBS will proudly be publishing Charlie Kray's 20th anniversary book being penned by multi talented author, promotor and actor Steve Wraith. Steve was a personal friend of The Krays for many years and has unique insight and knowledge regarding many elements of their life and the myths surrounding the brothers and indeed the family. Details regarding the book's content and title will be shared at a later date, but Kelly and I are humbled to be working with Steve on this exclusive title and guaranteed bestseller. 




We are receiving a steady stream of manuscript submissions and already have 8 titles lined up for release throughout the year with some more fantastic titles to announce soon. Everything from fantasy, to non-fiction to crime thrillers will be proudly bearing the BNBS logo on their cover and/or spine this year and we can't wait to share with you details of the first few titles in the coming months. 

Katie Budge, our first crowdfunder of this year, has a month to go and is over 60% towards achieving her goal and having her publishing dream become a reality. Crowdfunding is hard, something those who have been there will understand, asking for money to help yourself out even harder. But just a glance at Katie's Kickstarter page demonstrates not only her passion for her art but also what a wonderful and educational childrens book she has created. Just over 400 people could support Katie with one pound in order for her dream to become a reality... just £1.00. Please take a look and help her if you can.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/percythepigeon/percy-the-pigeon?ref=creator_nav

We are in discussions with a small number of charities regarding support and affiliation with BNBS. We will continue to support Murielle's favourite charity in the form of the Hope Foundation, but are also looking towards two other important causes which are particularly close to mine and Kelly's heart. News on this soon...

Karen Chilvers, our marketing director and boss-by-proxy is deserving of a special mention for the wonderful job she has already done regarding book promotions and inspired videos. It is fair to say Karen's offer to join us was an amazing gift and one we are so glad to have accepted  I also had the pleasure last week of speaking to her partner in crime, Gill Eastgate (not Eastwood as I keep telling Kelly!) and co-author of Tzu Kingdom. We had a good chat and I was able to add another extremely talented person to my list of people to mine for information if necessary!

Additionally, I have to once again thank our wonderful web designer Simone Shenton. She is not only my friend of many years, but a tech wizard. None of this (literally this page that you are reading!!) would have been possible without her. I pester her all the time, but haven't done it for a while so I'm going to get right on that! 

Finally, we wish to say a thank you to you all. Every single message we have received regarding our involvement with BNBS has been full of support, kindness and generosity. It is truly humbling and we wish you to know we will do all we can to ensure that BNBS/Live It Publishing and all its authors  get the recognition they deserve. We are building good relationships with Waterstones and WH Smith which can only benefit our future authors and prospective titles as well as our current ones. We intent to build upon this. It will take time, but I fully believe we can make BNBS a publishing house to be reckoned with. And by WE I mean all of us. Kelly and I can only do this with you because you are BNBS. We might be steering the ship , but without a crew it's nothing but a floating piece of wood. 

More news soon, but for now I shall leave you with a link to three excellent, free videos from best selling author Mark Dawson regarding building your mailing list and how to promote your books more effectively. Invaluable details for all authors, self published or otherwise.

http://www.selfpublishingformula.com

Speak soon,

David, Kelly and the team

Friday, 20 January 2017

It's a New Dawn, It's a New Day and I'm feeling...

Hello and welcome to the first blog on the new website for Britain's Next Bestseller!

For those of you that don't know, BNBS's creator and director, Murielle Maupoint, decided to step back from the business she had so successfully created in order to focus on other things. To use a cliché  and cut the long short, Kelly and I were fortunate enough to engage in conversation with Murielle about her plans and desires for the future of BNBS and agreed to take over the running of the business.

BNBS published my debut novel, Hellbound, after 65 literary agent rejections. No one would touch it with a barge pole, but Murielle and BNBS decided to take a chance on it and simultaneously not only made my literary dream come true, but proved that Hellbound was a canny thriller after all!

For this reason, I have always believed in BNBS and what it stood for; using crowd funding to help readers decide which books should be published whilst using it as a tool to help revolutionise the industry.

Under Murielle and colleagues guidance, they published over 30 titles, some of which have gone to great acclaim, some of which are in the process of having movie scripts based upon them, a few of which are in the throws of being published internationally.

Mine and Kelly's main focus is to continue supporting all those authors who have gone before whilst finding new and dynamic talent to take the literary world and BNBS forward in 2017.

We already have some amazing titles lined up, including a re-release of Rob Enright's exceptional revenge thriller, 'One by One', debut author Charlotte Teece's powerful apocalyptic drama, 'Toxic City', educational and amusing children's book, 'Percy the Pigeon' by Katie Budge, Paul Ferns' moving and powerful autobiographical book 'Galloping with Dolphins' and many more. And we managed to secure the rights to Stephen Sayer's first crime thriller, 'By Any Means Necessary' right at the start of our tenure which was a fantastic honour and a great way to start off the next phase in BNBS.

We also have a small, but dedicated and talented team on board, including Noelle Holten, esteemed and well respected blogger (crimebookjunkie.co.uk) the world over as our commission and manuscript advisor, Karen Chilvers, author of Tzu Kingdom alongside Gill Eastgate, as Head of Marketing and the multi-talented Siobhan Marshall-Jones as our proof reader/copy editor. There are also a few further announcements to make soon regarding a few other special additions to our growing BNBS family.


We have developed further options for authors, maintaining the crowd funding option via the globally recognised Kickstarter, whilst including print on demand options and a Kindle only package with inclusive social media marketing at a competitive price.

We have already received a number of manuscripts and have the honour of having BNBS approved for promotional affiliation with the writing marketplace experts, Reedsy and Mark Dawson's Self-Publishing Formula, the number one place and gentleman to go to for any and all questions and education regarding marketing yourself as an author and a brand. Those customers who use Reedsy tools via the BNBW website also receive a $20 discount.

It is a very exiting time both Kelly and I, BNBS and all the authors involved. I promise there is a lot more to come, including a few special surprises we have lined up!

So, look around your house, in cupboards and in the attic. Is there a manuscript there, gathering dust? Who knows, you could be Britain's Next Bestseller...