The Final Hurdle

I have just eight weeks  to go before I complete my undergraduate degree in English Literature and History. Just the matter of a dissertation on fairies, an essay on children’s literature, two essays on creative writing, a 3000 word short story plus edits and one final dreaded exam to get through and I’ll be free, to do what I want – most of the time.

In preparation I’ve been making a few plans. First and foremost is to complete the first draft of Persephone Reborn. I’ve been going through my plot notes and what has already been written and it currently stands at around 32,000 words. That’s about a third of the way through the story, so another 60-80,000 words and it will be ready for the first round of rewrites and edits. It makes the 15,000 words or so that I have left to write for university seem almost easy in comparison, but I would much rather be working on the novel than planning another essay.

Having had to put my writing career on hold for the best part of the last five years it’s been a struggle to build a readership for my books, but I’m hoping to change that by using this blog as a base from which I can share insights into my writing process and interesting (I hope) posts that relate to what I’m working on. You can probably expect things about the locations, history and myths that feature in the next novel, everything from Greek vampires to Liverpool’s sunken graveyard and I’m going to try and become more active on  instagram, facebook, twitter and pinterest. All things I’ve neglected over the last few years.  I’m not the most natural self-promoter so we’ll see what happens.

For the moment it’s back to that essay…

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

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Ignoring Advice from Stephen King

File:Onwriting.jpgOn Writing by Stephen King isn’t really a book of advice for writers, its about one man’s journey to becoming a writer. The advice is there between the anecdotes and the difficulties he’s encountered along the way. If there is one thing he believes is the best way to write a book it’s to get the story out from beginning to end without plotting in advance because you just don’t know where the story is going to take you.

That’s true, I have written scenes where my characters have taken over, said or done something I wasn’t expecting and taken the story in an unexpected direction which meant having to change the plan, often substantially. In the story I’m currently writing Cora’s tutor tells her something I expected to keep secret from her for a few more chapters. I couldn’t believe he’d done that. It changed everything and the twenty thousand word synopsis I’d written suddenly became obsolete.

I had two choices. I could rewrite the scene the way I’d originally planned or I could stick with the new version and see what happened, adapting the plan I thought I would be following as I went along. Since I liked the new version, and I think these spontaneous changes happen for a reason, I decided to stick with it.

Like Mr King, a lot of my ideas begin with a ‘what if’ moment, but I have to transfer that initial flash of light bulb inspiration into an outline and from there I compile a chapter list, breaking the story up into pieces, scene by scene, so I have something to follow. Then I can write the scenes that have already formed in my head. I rarely write the story in order and only work from chapter to chapter if no other scenes present themselves.

I often edit as I go too. A big no no if you’re trying to get the story out from start to finish. But when I step away from the keyboard at the end of a writing session the scene bubbles away in my subconscious, throwing up words, descriptions and dialogue that weren’t there during a first frantic typing. Better to go back and put them in now before they fade from memory as quickly as they emerged.

If I had the luxury of being able to sit and write and write for hours on end, instead of grabbing the odd fifteen minutes or so before having to leave the house or fit it in to the breaks between lectures, would I follow Stephen King’s advice? Probably not.

I like having my map, but even the map gets redrawn when the story starts to write itself and escapes the boundaries into new territory. It’s a guide not a rule book. If I’d written Blackfeather from start to finish when I first had the idea it would have been a stand-alone story with a soppy happy ending and, thankfully, that didn’t happen. Of course, editing might have changed that. In the end it’s not how you get the story down that’s important, only that you do.

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

 

The Angel of Mons

angel of mons painting 2On 23rd August 1914 both the English and German forces believed they had witnessed a miracle. Some saw St George and a legion of bowmen others said that angels had surrounded the English in a wall of protection. Whether it was divine or supernatural intervention or not, the fact remains that the heavily outnumbered British Expeditionary Forces were being forced to retreat under heavy fire. Something turned the tide.

A further tale has it that a group of soldiers belonging to the Coldstream Guards got lost in the Mormal Forest and became aware that they were close to being discovered until a tall, slim female figure appeared to them. She wore a white flowing gown and appeared to be glowing. The soldiers followed her across a field where she showed them a hidden road which allowed them to escape.

The Bowmen and Other Legends of the War by Arthur MachenArthur Machen, a Welsh author, published a short story entitled “The Bowmen” on 29th September 1914 and insisted that this was the inspiration for the story of the Angel of Mons, but would this story spread far enough to account for the tales told by English and overseas forces alike?

One of the other ideas to account for the tales is that fog and rain caused unusual cloud formations or poor visibility that gave rise to unusual sightings, but this can be discounted since the sun came out from around 10 am that day.

I have used this enduring piece of folklore in Blackfeather to place Ash at a a turbulent time in history where his path crosses not only with one of Kate’s previous lives, but also at a crucial moment for Kate’s Great Grandfather. By saving Arthur Parkes’ life Ash ensures Kate’s birth in the future – the discovery shocks him. Perhaps someone should have explained to him that time is a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff 🙂

You can read a more in-depth investigation of The Angel of Mons by Alan S. Coulson MD, PhD. and Michael E. Hanlon here.  They even include pictures, maps and theories on the legend.

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

 

What’s Your Super Power?

Angel Abilities Part 1

Continuing the explanation of how supernatural beings and events work in the Blackfeather Series of books.

Manipulation, Mind Reading and Invisibility

The angelic beings in Blackfeather, be they fallen angels, watchers or demons, all possess a wide range of abilities and put them to use in various situations.

MANIPULATION

This subtle ability is used on humans and animals in order to achieve a certain outcome. For instance, you may suddenly find yourself thinking what a great idea it would be to visit a certain place, only to find when you arrive that an old friend you haven’t seen for years is also there.Kate is manipulated several times in the book and so are those around her. In the church, Ash’s brother cajoles her into digging up the box and suggests she takes it home. When she becomes resistant to this idea he becomes more forceful and compels her to take it. He is, of course, a Watcher and is acting in the best interests of his brother, but he might well be breaking angelic laws over this and have to face consequences later. Ash, as a fallen angel, possesses this power too and uses it to gently persuade Brian to leave the nightclub instead of fighting him and later he uses it on a wider scale to influence the crowds at the Festival of Angels. Under his guidance the crowd parts to allow himself and Kate, who has a fear of crowds and small places, through unhindered, and later he compels diners to leave a busy pub so that he and Kate can get a table and have dinner together. Demons would use this power for nefarious ends and to manipulate people into committing anything from petty theft to horrific crimes and acts of violence.

Of course, humans have free will and so could easily resist this manipulation if they so wished. Angelic beings can merely suggest a course of action, it would be no use for a demon to suggest murder, for instance, to someone totally opposed to this action.

MIND READING

Angelic beings can read minds and converse telepathically with each other and with non-angelic beings. Kate hears Ash’s voice before she even meets him and is unnerved by his intrusion into her private thoughts. He tries to respect her privacy, but as her guardian angel he has a much closer bond with her and finds it difficult to close off entirely.This short extract from Blacfeather is a moment from early on in Kate and Ash’s relationship, shortly after she finds out what he really is:

It unnerved her, the way he knew she was there, even with his back to her and his earphones in. She wasn’t going to argue with him and watched as he dished up a generous helping of baked beans. He was humming a tune she knew well now and it sounded good. Good enough for a choir.

Choir of angels, said a voice in her head.

He placed the plate in front of her and poured real coffee from her mother’s best silver coffee pot, then looked up to find her wary eyes on him.

“Sorry, I’ll try not to intrude.”

This ability becomes very useful if you want to conduct a private conversation that can’t be overheard by others. It is also great for communicating over vast distances. Angelic beings may have the means to block or divert other angelics from their mind at will. Most demons do this as a matter of course, as they don’t even trust their own brethren.

INVISIBILITY

All angels are, for the most part invisible to humans and only show themselves on rare occasions, fallen angels, demons and Watchers are “clothed” in physical bodies that can be seen as clearly as any other human, but can vanish and hide themselves from sight at will. For Ash, this is a very useful power, especially when danger is nearby or when his presence will be awkward for Kate. Of course, for us, it means that we can be watched at any and all times by beings unseen, whether they be friend or adversary. We will discover some more angel abilities in the next post

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

Behind The Scenes – A Peek Into Kate’s House

I thought you might like to have a nosy round Kate’s house today. I used the pictures below to reference Kate’s house in Blackfeather and as an aide memoire. It’s very easy to forget exactly what colour a room is painted or where you left that gun, if you’re writing a crime novel. Having a visual reference can help you get the details right from scene to scene and can save on editing at a later stage. Also, it’s fun to be able to see where a character lives or works, the clothes they wear or the car they drive.

Strictly speaking this is Kate’s parents house, but as they’re now living in France they’ve all but given it to her.

Kate's House

Kate’s House

 

The Kitchen

The Kitchen

Kates parents house2

The Living Room with French Doors

Kate's Bedroom

Kate’s Bedroom

And finally Kate’s 1971 cherry red VW Beetle

beetle

 

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

Angels – The Good, The Bad and the Misunderstood.

This post takes another look at some of the themes in the Blackfeather universe in order to clarify how some of the mythic beings and characters fit into the story. These may be different to the generally held beliefs about these beings in the real world.

ANGELS, DEMONS, FALLEN ANGELS AND WATCHERS

lucifer

Lucifer photo credit: felipe gabaldon

ANGELS
As mentioned in the previous angel lore post, angels or more precisely, guardian angels, shadow their human charges from birth. They are invisible, unless they choose to show themselves and reside in an etheric or energy body on a higher plane than our own.

There are many different types of angels, or hierarchies, but they don’t feature in Blackfeather so I won’t go into them here.

THE WATCHERS

There are only one thousand Watchers on earth at any given time. They do not age, but inhabit semi-physical bodies that can be “killed” in one of three ways; self sacrifice for a human life, breaking the neck and an angelic sword, otherwise damage to the body heals within moments. They retain many of their angelic powers (more of this in a later post), but spend most of their time visible and look just like any other human being. The only things that give them away are their taller than average height and their eyes, which have intensely coloured irises and an oddly mesmeric effect on anyone who stares too long into them.
The primary mission of these supernatural beings is to prevent Lucifer and his demons from having too much influence on the earthly realm. As we mentioned in our previous post, there are many instances where humans have reported miraculous escapes from life threatening situations and have walked away without a scratch from certain death. It is The Watchers they have to thank for their good fortune. A Watcher will voluntarily take the place of a human in such a situation and appear to “die”in his place. His angelic soul then returns to heaven and another takes his place thus maintaining the balance between good and evil.
Whilst they roam the earth, Watchers are, to all intents and purposes exempt from normal angelic rules. They can partake in all earthly pleasures, including sex. In fact one Watcher in particular enjoys his time on earth so much that he has avoided returning home for many, many hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Watchers and fallen angels can tune in to the location of all their brethren around the globe, no matter where they are and can communicate with one or all of them, telepathically. They can sense the presence of demons but demons cannot sense them. A distinct advantage in the Watchers’ favour.
They rarely advertise their true nature by displaying their wings, but if they do, you will find they are black.
FALLEN ANGELS
Fallen angels are angels exiled from Heaven for certain misdemeanours or crimes.
They share all the characteristics of The Watchers, but a fallen angel has one purpose while on earth and that is to right the wrong he has done and redeem himself to God’s satisfaction. Only then will he be allowed to return home, to Heaven. A fallen angel (and The Watchers), will do their best to blend in with the era in which they find themselves, and they have even been known to take a job if it will further their cause.
Fallen angels are rare. At the present time there is only one fallen angel on earth and that is our hero, Ashrafel.
Their wings are also black.
DEMONS
A demon is very similar to a fallen angel in so far as he is exiled from Heaven for crimes against God and, they too, inhabit physical bodies. However, demons cannot redeem themselves and return to Heaven. They are classed as “unforgivable” and will never be allowed home. Demons can also be “killed” releasing their demonic souls from their bodies, at which time they return to Hell and rebuild the body they inhabited or choose a new physical human representation to inhabit.
Demons came into being when Lucifer rebelled against God. He and his followers were banished from Heaven, but they also retain angel-like powers. They cause much mischief on earth. It is the domain of The Watchers to prevent this mischief thus preventing Lucifer from gaining a strong foothold here. Demons are extremely vain, are almost always well dressed and supremely arrogant. Their wings are black shot through with red. Some say this is to represent the human blood they have spilled, Lucifer’s are completely red.
A FINAL NOTE
All angelic and demonic souls are indestructible by all except one weapon. An angel’s sword. During the war in Heaven all angels carried such weapons and The Watchers and Ashrafel still have access to their swords in an etheric, less deadly format and only use them in extreme circumstances, but they were confiscated from Lucifer’s army after he was defeated by Michael. Only the legendary Malakh Rozeach – The Angel Killer – persists in its physical form here on earth. It is a most deadly weapon for it not only releases the soul of an angel or demon, it can also destroy that soul.
It is virtually impossible to tell any of these beings apart, so if you pass an incredibly handsome young man in the street, who is taller than the average human and whose eyes are of an unusually bright colour, you may be looking at a Watcher, a demon or a fallen angel, so be on your guard until you are 100% certain of their intentions.

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter