Getting back on track + poll

Quick reminder that the giveaway, Bad People With Guns, will end on September 5, so if you intended to read one of the available books but haven’t obtained one yet, you should hurry, especially if you’re a fan of thrillers, suspense, mystery, or crime fiction in general. Go here and download stories from Anna Willet, J. L. Stowers, Sara Cobb, and Simon Royle.

In other news, I’m happy to announce that the last of my betas got back to me. Unfortunately, they didn’t manage to finish Through Stranger Eyes. In their words, “I haven’t had the chance to start it yet. Sorry, but I can’t do it.”

It happens. Life always gets in the way of things and sends our best intentions down the drain. That’s why it’s important to reach out to more than one beta reader, and to have a decent personal relationship with them, so that they don’t feel that they’ve put themselves in an uncomfortable or awkward position when they have to tell you, “sorry, I don’t think I can make it.” Remember, betas are hard to find, they want to help, and perform an important task for us writers for free. Cherish them and understand that they too lead demanding lives.

So, what this means is that as soon as I get back to my computer (still waiting for you, summer, to bugger off and let me enjoy some cool days), I’ll go over the notes the rest of the beta team returned (I was lucky enough to get (feedback from four people!). I expect to have a hard time going over one beta’s notes in particular, since they gave them back handwritten, which means I will have to transfer them into my digital copy. And I have their thoughts recorded on a couple of audio files, so I’ll have to transcribe them too. Which is good, ’cause I can’t make out most of their handwriting. Oh well.

This is one of those moments where I sympathise with all editors out there.

However, here’s the thing: the first thing I noticed, from almost all the betas who gave me feedback, was that they enjoyed one of my secondary characters more than the protagonist. In fact, they liked that character TOO much. I’m not sure if there’s an underlying problem with this. What I mean is, I’m not sure if my main character is badly written or if that secondary character is so dominant that overshadows everyone else in the story. If the latter is the case, I’d have to figure out a way to trim her dominance a bit, which I’d rather not do (the truth is, I too enjoyed writing her scenes). If the problem lies with my main character and he is badly written, then I have the feeling I’ll need to rewrite A LOT of my story in the next months.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever read a book that, to you, one of the secondary characters stood out far more than the protagonist? Did this bother you at all? I’ve made a poll for your convenience. I would appreciate it if you could share this with your friends, as this will save me not only time, but part of my sanity.

Bruce Campbell from Evil Dead 2

Writers answer here


Readers answer here


Thank you 🙂

The Darkening: getting to know the characters – The girl

Who are you? What are you doing here? Wait, wait, don’t kill me! I just want some food, that’s all. Stay back, don’t come closer. I’ll… I’ll… I’ll stab you, I swear it. The glass will cut you in no time, you hear? Stay back. That’s better. I don’t want to hurt you, but I will if I have to. All I want is some food. Do you have any? Look, I’m not going to hurt you, unless you attack me, okay? What’s that? What’s that in your hand? Is it… is it food? Just that? Half a raw rat? Okay. I’m so hungry. Feels like I haven’t eaten in days.

Why are you looking at me like that? No, I don’t know why I am like that. I just am. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. You’re the first person I’ve seen in days. Everything is empty. Not a single soul for miles. What’s going on? I saw houses and farms on my way here, but there was no one living there. It’s as if everyone vanished. I thought this place was empty, was looking for something to eat and a place to sleep. I didn’t mean to scare you.

I came by a house on my way here. It was a big white house, with two rows of windows, all of them smashed though, and the place looked like it was about to fall apart. I went inside, called for help. I was hungry. They had a pen but there were no animals. Some chickens ran around free, but I couldn’t catch any of them. Fast birds. I saw… I saw remains, bones and… and… What happened? On my way here, I saw a wide road, full of rusted cars and everyone in them…

There are big structures to the east, I saw them on my way here. Maybe we could go there and look for food or other surv –

Cannibals? There?

What’s your name? I… I don’t know my name. I can’t remember anything, except the last couple of days. I woke up in the middle of nowhere, and I’ve been walking since then, but nothing before that. As if I didn’t exist. Don’t go! Please, don’t go. Are you the only one left? Why are you afraid of me? What is wrong with me? Are we going to die too? Am I going to die? Are we the last ones? Help me, please!

The Darkening: getting to know the characters – John Piscus

Will anyone read this? Is anyone still alive out there?

My name is John Piscus, and I’m a survivor. The Darkening… I wish I knew more about it, but I don’t. No memory, you see. What I do know is the Darkening claimed the lives of almost every human on the planet by the worst way possible. Stop talking to me! No, no, not you, reader. The two voices in my head. You see, the thing is, I’m crazy. Deranged, mentally unstable, loony, oh yes. Yes, I am, yes, yes, yes. I have two voices lodged in my head. Uh-huh, uh-huh. Two different people talking to me, yapping every single minute of my waking life. One wants me to kill myself, the other to stop at nothing, until as it says, I reach my potential. You think you’re the sole owner of your thoughts? You take it for granted, don’t you? Guess again. You want to make it, to survive? You better make sure you take nothing for granted. Come closer, I want to tell you a secret. Come, come, I don’t bite. Not yet at least. Haven’t turned into cannibalism yet, I’m not like those survivors stuck in what’s left of the cities. Can’t blame them, no food in the cities. But that’s not me. Anyway, here’s the secret; I don’t think the voices are real. No, no, not real. I think one of them is my conscience, the other my survival instinct. Shhh, keep your voice down! They might hear us and start talking to me again. No, don’t ask me about why my conscience has woken. I can’t tell you, I won’t tell you, you can’t make me! Go away! Both of you. Not you, reader. You stay.

What? You don’t know what the Darkening is? Of course, no one left to tell you. The Darkening turned our own shadows against us. No, not shadows, not anymore. What comes out can no longer be called “shadow.” It’s… it’s different. It has substance. It’s alive, malicious, bent on one thing alone; to kill the person it made it. You want to know a fact? It will find you. There’s no escape, there’s no hope. You can’t escape your own shadow. No, you can’t. It’s there, always there. Enough light to cast a shadow, and poof! Your shadow comes to life and you’re dead. Dead, do you hear? DEAD! There’s no escape, there is no hope. Hope is for the weak. Out there, only two things exist; death and fear. You don’t know what fear is, until you realise you carry your own death every step of the way.

The Darkening turned the remaining of us into rats and worms, hiding underground, watching over our backs, constantly looking to the east. If it glows, it kills. No, I will not! My thoughts are my own. Go away! Not you, reader. Anything dark is a good shelter, remember that. If you want to survive, you must have a shelter. Get used to leaving in the dark, for it’s all you’ll ever see. You think it’s easy? Have you ever opened your eyes, and couldn’t tell if anything existed beyond you? Any time where darkness was so pressing, you couldn’t tell if you were awake or asleep? If you had eyes or not? Did you ever stretch you hand in the dark, darkness so thick you thought it had physical substance? That it touched your body, wrapped itself around you, suffocated you? No, reader, you don’t know what fear is until you experience it. You think I’m out of my mind, yes? I am, I told you so. But, you… you don’t know what madness is, until you pry your right to live every single day, not only from the world around you, but from your self. I’m exhausted. So tired. So very very tired.

Shhh! Keep quiet. Did you hear that? I think Raiders are nearby. No, I did not imagine it. It’s Raiders. Can’t you hear them? Raiders! It’s night outside, and they are coming in. Run! They’re inside!