Wednesday, 2 December 2015

My Best Piece Of Writing So Far...

You don’t believe me? You should read my earlier works (I cringe at the thought,) and the improvement is quite incredible.
Self-publishing is a very difficult business simply because we don’t have the resources that the big publishing companies offer. We write a story, proof, edit, rinse and repeat the process many many times before we even pass it on to another’s set of eyes in the hope they pick up on something we missed. We have to hire proof readers and hope they are competent and reliable, keeping our fingers crossed they felt fresh and focussed when they worked on the piece. We pay for artists and graphic designers to get our images and covers looking remotely attractive and all of this we do for you, the reader, in the hope we can capture your imagination for a week of your life while you digest our years worth of hard, sweat pouring imagination squeezing.

And why is this so difficult? Simply because readers enjoy good writing. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. It matters not that the E-book probably costs less than a cup of coffee or that the paperback copy costs less than the price to get your nails done. You, the reader, doesn’t just want value, you want a smooth and uncomplicated delivery.
That part I found difficult in the beginning.

In 2013 when I first released “Chronicles of Astoria Part 1, Delta” I was very naive and unprepared for the Indy-market place. I genuinely thought that when someone purchased a book for a quid, they weren’t wholly concerned with the quality of writing. I mean, we had 50 shades of nonsense that was selling like hot cakes and the writing was borderline terrible in there. I knew my content wasn’t as bad as that but I came to the conclusion that, as long as I had a good story, the reader would overlook the delivery.
Boy was I wrong.

It wasn’t until I received my first bad review that I really took stock of my situation and headed back to the drawing board with my crayons to start again. It was disheartening I’ll admit. It’s the classic “if only they looked deeper.”
But the reader shouldn’t have to. They should be captured from the moment they set eyes on the piece, enthralled even. The whole point of my series was to make the reader DESIRE to keep pressing onwards, unlocking the depth to each character and the mysteries behind them.  My goal for the “Chronicles of Astoria” series was to have a deep set of lore for each and every character in the story. I wanted a reader from all walks of life to be able to connect and love at least one of the “Angels” whatever their personality. I wanted the focus from each book to shift slightly away from the main protagonists along a web of intertwined story lines revealing a depth to each supporting character, the deeper the lore the more real it would seem and thus the more connected the reader may feel.

But none of that is any good if the reader rage quits and launches their copy/kindle across the room for repeated punctuation errors or terrible grammar (I’m sure I’ve made a few corkers in this blog piece already.)

So what is so special about my latest piece you may ask? Well put simply, my “cringe tracker” was barely spiking throughout this piece. As I have said before, I read back through old writing and am overcome with waves of embarrassment that I ever allowed something so amateur to go public. I guess my hope had been that, one day, it would get picked up by a publisher and they would fix it for me. Writing is, after all, a retirement project for me so I have a good thirty years to perfect my craft. At the rate I was going though, I’d have spent the best years of my life in hiding or at best, wearing heavy disguises in public. Some of it was awful.
Now, however, that has all changed. When I read through sections I feel it flows. There are even rare occasions where I think “actually that’s pretty good.”

I won’t get carried away here but it’s a huge step in the right direction.
For those that play RPG’s I have levelled up my writing character to “A good amateur.”

The constant quote throughout my short writing career has always been “the story is good,” and this installment is no different. “Chronicles of Astoria Part 3 ‘Alpha’” is the prequel to it all and follows the beginnings of both the main protagonists and antagonists. Part 2 dealt with the theme of “the hero that falls,” revealing and explaining some of the cliff hangers left from Part 1 particularly regarding hidden gifts and plot lines that ran far deeper than the surface of the first story.  Throughout Part 2 the reader learns just how complex and pre-meditated the entire attack by the Sarfan Lord was and my hope has always been to encourage the reader to finish the book and read it all over again with the newfound knowledge gained from the ending. I, personally, enjoy a clever story and love nothing more than to pick up on slithers of clues only to piece them together to reveal something far grander.

The Chronicles of Astoria series is meant to be just that.
The series is 5 books in total and so the purpose of Part 3 is to pave the way for the final two installments. The story explores the origins of Vega (the Sarfan Lord, before he is turned to an agent of darkness,) and follows his route through the history of Astoria. This includes the original failed exodus and his part in shaping the world as we know it.
Naturally this leads us to the origins of our main protagonist in Raphael and how he comes to the city of Astoria, his friendship with Chance, Crystal and how he fits in with the other Anglings in the city.
Characters mentioned in the previous books, such as Lucas for example, are explored more in depth here especially since we know (from reading Part 2) that he returns to the city eventually. By exploring the past I was able to introduce these characters to the reader and start building that “connection” which will be vital for the last two installments. (out 2016 and 2017 respectfully.)

I have tried to include a bit of a puzzle solving mystery/reveal within this episode when the Anglings go in search of the “Nexus.” Perhaps I was watching a little too much Sherlock Holmes at the time and wanted a clever gimmick although to be honest I’m not sure how well I’ve delivered on that part. Perhaps I should stick to what I’m good at, writing something where “the story was good.” (I winked there, sorry poor joke.)

All in all, this story sets up the series for the final two installments and if you want to order your copy you can do here.
Chronicles of Astoria part 3 is out now!!!

Many thanks
M R Shields

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