Where have I been?

Well physically I have remained on Terra Firma, more or less, I do get around. Mentally I’ve been on a journey sparked by my question on ideas and where they came from. As they said when I was a little younger, “Far Out Man”. The ideas question will be a subject I will come back to, but for now I just want to bring you up to date with what’s happening with me.

Currently my latest first draft is residing in the capable hands and mind of my talented editor. We shall see the results later this year …

I have also started work on a completely new piece, straight from the Chaotic Cosmos of my subconscious, a piece for adults. Its refreshing to just write for the sake of writing and my aim with this project is to loosen up and enjoy the process of creation.

I have also entered a competition in the SCBWI for a short story and below is my contribution. I hope you like it.

What’s in my Closet?

The twelfth chime resonated from the antique grandfather clock, its sound greatly diminished by the long journey to the attic. Nicholas bolted upright staring into the darkness. As the silence reasserted itself Nicholas cringed. Fear flooded all his senses as the noises came. Creeping and creaking, rustling and shuffling. Nicholas shrank deeper into the darkness. It happened every night. Something gulped. A quiet sound, but there was no doubting it. Why was he plagued by such a cruel creature? The monster was right here! Nicholas threw the closet door open and ran. Ghosts don’t like nasty boys.

Enjoy life and dream well.

Grumphspawn.

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Once Upon a Page

Firstly I would like to apologise for missing my deadline last month. I would like to say it was because I was away on a much needed family holiday, or that my right arm has been out of commission due to repetitive strain from writing too much in awkward positions, or that writing my latest story for the Everlasting Fantastical Adventures took most of my time and inspiration up, but no excuse is ample or totally correct. Let’s just say I had a sabbatical and am now back.
This month’s piece has turned into the start of a bigger story with part one below …
ONCE UPON A PAGE there were three animals who went on an urgent quest into a deep dark cave. Each one determined to find something they had lost that was very dear to them.

First was Henry, a snow white goose who had had his honk stolen during a flight through a winter storm by a mischievous wind spirit. He had chased the spirit but lost it in the thickest part of the blizzard. A goose without a honk is a sad thing, every time he tried to warn his flock when a stranger approached he looked silly and ended up in a flap. Since then the other geese laughed at him and, what was worse, he couldn’t honk back.

The second was Nicholas, a jovial orang-utan who had misplaced his laugh when eating his way through a field of peanuts. He had searched and searched, opening as many shells as he could, but his laughter was gone. Now when he told a joke all he could raise was a smile and he felt his world was dull without his belly laugh that could shake the trees.

Last was Hugo, a big black-haired rat who went to sleep on New Year’s Eve and woke up the next morning incomplete. It had been dark in the sewer that night and there had been a troop of young rats from the local University prowling around. It was true Hugo had eaten a stash of overripe plums he had found which made him woozy, but he had felt nothing else that night. He had woken up without his tail, a limb no self-respecting rat could do without. His balance, coordination and his dignity were beyond repair.

The three had met in a market place in the town of Everhope on the outskirts of Wishful County. The market was the home of a famous Sage. Each had come to ask about their dilemmas. The Sage had listened to all three animals. She had told them they must go to the mountain of Faith nestled on the edge of the world to find their answers and that all three must undertake this journey together.

Half way up the mountain was a cave. A deep and lonely place in which was hidden a magical chest. If they could unlock the chest then their wishes would be granted. Without any arguments they decided to follow the Sage’s instructions and set out that same afternoon. Three days and three nights they toiled through torturous weather across the wilds. Each finding out something about the others during the hard journey. Now they had arrived and were standing on the brink.

“So this is the place.” Hugo peered into the gloom. “Looks spooky to me …” he said doubtfully, “and I like damp dark places.”

“-”, honked Henry, or rather didn’t. He buffeted his wings and shook his neck from side to side.

“Hugo, I think the goose wants to tell us something.” Nicholas scratched his chin. They hadn’t found out Henry’s name as his honk was gone and he couldn’t write.

“No doubt.” Hugo shrugged. “ What is it, Goose?”

“-”. Henry said silently. His white face and beak beginning to turn red with anger. The Orang-utan and the Rat exchanged blank looks.

“Maybe we should play charades?” Nicholas suggested.

“We tried that already, remember?” Hugo shook his head too quickly and almost fell over. He really missed his tail.

“When we were crossing that stream and the goose tried to tell us something. It didn’t work, so he lost his temper and took off in a flap. Landed on the other side without a care. He was so upset he wouldn’t help either of us across. We got all wet and cold just because I laughed at his antics.”

“Well, you shouldn’t have.” Nicholas grimaced, his eyes flat and his wrinkly face looked all lopsided and wrong. “I’m sure he was only trying to help us.”

“We’ll never know.” Hugo sniggered, “unless we find that Chest of Wishes.” He liked to snigger. It was a very ratty thing to do and he found himself sniggering a lot more now than he did before he lost his tail. With a quick glance at the other two to make sure they would follow, Hugo stepped into the cave.

“Come on, Goose. You know Hugo doesn’t mean any harm. He’s just like any other rat.” Nicholas held one long arm out to the bird.

“No I’m not!” Hugo snapped over his shoulder, but he didn’t stop to argue. He did not dare to turn in case he fell over. Henry flapped once and then gentle pressed his wingtip into the offered hand of Nicholas. Together they followed the rat into the gloom.
To be continued…

What’s with me?

Whatever is happening?

In our turbulent world it’s hard to know for sure, but with the books, I have finished the initial drafts of the first four adventures. Sweet, such a wonderful sensation to enjoy. That magical time of creation is now to be followed by a lot of hard work to hone and polish, hone and polish… There’s long way to go. However, launch in 2017 is still in sight. We shall see.

In the first adventure Elannah and Sam discover the Land of Dreams. They meet Rodger the talking Badger for the first time and can’t help but notice an ugly creature skulking in the shadows spying on them. To get away from the menace, Rodger invites the children to a fireworks display by the Great Wizard Grumphspawn and the night is filled with enchantment. Until the shadow reveals itself and steals the show.

The second story happens at Christmas and it’s the Twelve Toed Ugly Troll’s first. Elannah and Sam are determined to make it the best party possible and brave all sorts of dangers as they put the party together. From crashing snow and thieving goblins the children’s festive adventure just keeps growing more difficult. And with all of the excitement comes the troll’s quickening. Will they throw the party in time or will the troll revert to his nasty life?

The third tale takes the children to the Seven Sleeping Seas and Fips is searching for something he has lost. Life without an itch is no fun for a Salty Seadog. The adventures soon become deeper as the balance in the Land of Dreams is lost. Storms and pirates must be overcome to set things right and its strange to find there’s more to an itch than just a sensation.

The fourth quest happens at Halloween and the Great Wizard’s home is full of trouble, including an Uppity Mister Pumpkin Head and a game of Stinkel Stonkel Pickle Plum that is full of tricks and treats. There are two rather rude pigs running around as the children try to solve the Halloween Secret. And when a Grimlee takes a hand then chaos will ensue.

What else am I up to?

Now my mind is also simmering with an adult book series. An epic science fantasy adventure. The background is clear, complete with astronomical events and causations, the theme is also set in my mind and now I am getting to know my characters. They are many and varied, and I feel we should become acquainted with each other fully before I commit to paper. I believe that characters are the hearts of any story, so discovering just who and what makes them tick will make all the difference.

I am also involved with the SCBWI BI conference again this year. Winchester University in November. A place where children’s books writers and illustrators come together to talk, learn and have fun.

So what about the short stories? I will return to them next month, taking it a turnabout with news of what is happening with me.

Like climbing a mountain

I was puffing up the Hill of Fire (Tinto in Lanarkshire) the other day when it struck me that writing a book is a lot like climbing a mountain. The day was quite a changeable one so it wasn’t such a stroll in the park.

There is the view from the base of the impressive task in front of me, scary to consider the climb, but awesome in its potential majesty. Image looking down from the top, the world will look quite a different place. That sense of achievement, the view. How many others have managed this. I am not the first, only the first today, under these conditions.

I have planned things and am equipped for the journey. Foot-ware, clothes, refreshments, water. I have done my homework and am ready for the task.

How do I start? Well, one foot in front of the other. Setting small goals to break down the overall task into manageable pieces. Picking out a route that suits my abilities and time.

Each step achieved is rewarding. Breaks are required and its fun to look back down the slope to see how far I’ve come. I can make good progress in the early stages and it looks like I am progressing fine. From the start, the top of the mountain is  lost from sight and becomes only a memory, a distant goal to focus on. I know its there, even if I don’t see it clearly.

But then the elements hit me. Its not all just a series of steps after all. There’s the weather, unexpected gusts of wind and rain, or more extreme circumstances that imped our journey. It takes a stronger and stronger will to keep going.

Ahead appears another ridge, the climb gets stepper and I persevere. On the top of the ridge I pause and look back. There’s my starting point, a long way away. I think I know how many ridges and how much time I need to take to finish the task, but I am not really sure any more, the lay of the land looks different up close. The cloud comes in and the going gets very tough. Its hard to make progress when I can only see a little way.

Another steep ridge and surely this must be the last. But no. Beyond is yet an even steeper climb.

Then the rain starts hard. Pelting down, driven by wicked gusts that snatch at my clothes. Many would turn back. its all just too much but I keep going. Stubborn, mule-like, refusing to give up. I know it’ll be fine in the end. But boy it would be easier without the wind and the rain.

A bright patch lights up the scene and I am heartened. My strength and sense of purpose renewed.

But a roaring sound grows and as I top the next ridge there’s a river washing away the path. Life’s curve-balls, Murphy’s Law, those gremlins and trolls sent by Loki and other such deities to cause me mischief. Somehow I find a way through, round, over.

I am now drenched. Wringing, tired and still I cannot see the top clearly. Only the feet moving one in front of the other keep me going. If I stop now, if I sit down, I might never get back up.

With a surge of willpower I march on. The rain eases and now its just mist, cold and eerie. A pervading dampness that fills my world with shadows and doubts. Am I still on the right path? What else is up here? A sudden movement off to my right  startles me, but its only a sheep.

Another ridge is topped and the path leads on. Sodden gravel slips under my boots and my muscle ache. I have to keep climbing. Its not about anything else now, but the conquering.

And there it is. The top. The mists lift as I break through the cloud. The wind is fresher, cleaner and more invigorating. Its only a short way now and the cairn is clear to see. My pace picks up and I rush the last steps.

Standing at the peak I spread my arms wide. The wind is unrestricted and wild. The energy I feel electrifying. As if by magic the cloud below me moves away and the sunlight illuminates the panorama around me and what a view. The struggle and ache to make the climb are but a distant feeling. I have made it.

Tinto done, now I must get on writing my stories.

Taking over

Well its another Monday morning and I find myself wondering where the last week went. Between life the universe and everything time just flies by. So where do i find the time to write? I must have at some juncture as I have over eighteen thousand new words on file for the next project.

To be honest the thoughts and characters I am living with don’t go away, they are there all the time. You know all those moments of daydreams when life’s pressures allow you the space? Well they are taken over now by the characters. Sometimes its Grumphspawn who can be a bit of a grumpybum and very demanding, or Rodger Meles (a talking  badger) who’s curiosity is hard to contain. But equally demanding are both the Twelve Toed Ugly Troll (he likes to go on the rampage) and Shehalogon the Grimlee (pulling strings and setting traps in the shadows of my mind).

All in all, I find that the stories and characters are taking over, filling the cracks and gaps in daily life and gate crashing my dreams.

So when people ask me where do I find the time to write, its an easy one to answer. I am living full time with my stories and sometimes I even get a chance to put some of it on  file.

Just as well I enjoy it all really.

 

 

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Who am I and what am I writing?

Hi
I’m Sean and this is my new author’s info site (hence the name). In it you can find out what I am and my myriad characters are up to.

My Photo

You can also find out about other authors and their work. I hope you enjoy visiting. 

 

My Bio: Born in Scarborough and fortunate to grow up in different parts of Europe, finally finishing school in the Kingdom of Fife. The Author first went to St Andrews University, but preferred adventure so spent the next 20+ years as a Salty-Seadog sailing the Oceans and being fascinated by its wonders.

Finally he ‘swallowed-the-anchor’ and came ashore as a Management Consultant.
Married to Liz with two kids. They live in Scotland and look forward to entertaining youngsters of all ages in the years ahead.

 

1. What am I working on? Currently I am writing a series of books with the working title of the Everlasting Fantastical Adventures. The books are about an adventurous place where two children go to escape from the rules and restrictions of their parents and other interfering adults. The tales take them deep into this other reality which is filled with a variety of characters such as a talking Badger called Rodger Meles who knows where the best fun to be had is; a Twelve Toed Ugly Troll who doesn’t yet have a name and is totally troublesome; and a Great Wizard called Grumphspawn who likes fireworks, but is otherwise quite a grumpybum. The stories are for middle grade readers, though I am lucky to have quite a few adult fans around the world from earlier versions of the tales.

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre? All writers live in a world created from their own experiences and learning. Each will be different. It’s the ability to fully reveal those inner thoughts and visions in a way best accessible to the readers that set the great writers apart. There are two main characters in my stories, a brother and sister, who venture into a different reality. A place with many characters and an abundance of magic, all in the background of danger as the influence of the alien race of Grimlees disturbs the peace and harmony in this Land of Dreams.

3. Why do I write what I do? For fun, adventure and the characters I have in my head won’t let me write anything else until they have had their day, especially Grumphspawn the Great Wizard and Shehalogon the Grimlee.

I started writing just to make a better connection with my own kids as I do travel a lot, even now. The stories always bring us closer together and they often ask to read the latest episodes I’ve written. It’s a wonderful feeling to see the look on your own kids’ faces as they enjoy the stories.

4. How does my writing process work? I am an unconventional writer. I had no literary background, being a seafarer and adventurer by nature. I even won an award for the Worst Writing in primary 7, in front of the whole school. A strange day I’ll never forget, but I didn’t let that stop me. I have done a lot of work and research, particularly with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in the last three years.

Now before I write I always visualise, like I am running through a movie set in my mind. I believe that writing is a link between the conscious and the subconscious, a mixture between the science and the art of it if you will. This is something that each writer does in a way which is unique to them.

I have always been a dreamer and my first quote (in a school magazine from Malta) was “I enjoy school, because I get to take trolls in my pocket”. Nothing more needs to be said about that.

Often when I write the world just fades into the background, once I remember sitting down to type when I was in Alexandria, Egypt. I wrote for what I thought was a couple of hours, but when I checked my watch, ten hours had flown by. This was quite a shock to my stomach and it protested loudly, as you can imagine. This ability to shut out what is around me means I can write almost anywhere, I just have to remember to set an alarm if there’s an appointment I need to attend.

I am about to start work on what I hope is the ultimate version of the stories, probably a twelve book series.

Wish me luck please!

 

 

For other author’s blogs please follow these links.

http://www.christinabanach.com

I’m Christina Banach, author of Minty and other young adult fiction. I’m in a state of excitement right now because it’s only a few weeks until Minty is published. Here is what Helen Bryant of Three Hares has to say about the book:

Minty is one of the most moving books for YA I’ve read in a long time. It’s a real weepy from start to finish but with heart and warmth at the core. It’s a cross between The Lovely Bones (without the grim murder) and Ghost and it stays with you long after you’ve finished the book.