Asaric Tales e-book update #3

In last month’s update I intended a straight read-through of Asaric Tales Book 1. What happened?

Asaric Tales update 3 v2Asaric Tales Bk 1 read-through

For the first few chapters I used yellow highlight to mark passages/words I wanted to change and returned to them at the end of each day’s reading session to do the necessary. By Ch5 I decided this was a silly procedure; I would make the edits as encountered. Which slowed the read-through. Greatly. Midway through, and the ‘read’ had become another ‘edit’. I also rewrote several passages that still weren’t right. And I thought, hey, next update, I’ll ask for beta-readers.

I sigh. I’m not yet ready. Maybe next week? Perhaps the week after?

Asaric Tales Bk 1 weasel word edit

This has to be the easiest edit. [Find], [Go-To], [Delete] or [Replace].  I zoomed through it,

[Find] reported zilch on a whole swarm of weasels.  Others were straight deletions. And my word count went down, and down and down. Until …

Asaric Tales Bk 1 -ing words edit

Before this edit, Book One of Asaric Tales was 4% -ing words. The count now stands at 2.3%. See, not all -ing words are equal. Some use -ing for their very existence: e.g. sing, thing, wing. Others are gerunds, i.e. nouns and adjective formed from a verb, e.g. verb: to live; gerund: living used as both adjective and noun.

The -ings I hunted were the imperfect verbs: e.g. I was editing; I was laughing; I was groaning. Delete ing and was and the verb becomes perfect: I edited; I laughed; I groaned.

The perfect verb adds power to one’s writing while the edit further reduces the word-count.

But it’s not so easy to do by [Find] and [Replace]. The simple was and ing deletion can result in an ugly construction. There were times I found myself deleting – not liking – replacing – rewriting – restructuring, and then undoing to restore to original form. (Lo! A wonderful string of -ings) All of which was time consuming.

Another read-through Bk 1 Asaric Tales 

My use of adverbs—another hiccup that tends to plague writers—is minimal, and those used are required. Ditto adjectives. And if I pile them on it’s for rhythm, for need and for effect, never for want of a stronger word. I have removed speech tags wherever possible. All that’s left now is …

Another read-through, and that’s top of agenda for Monday morning.

While in the process my eyes and mind will stay sharp for any remaining issues, e.g. unnecessary information, repetitions, illogical constructions.


Next update, which will include the call for beta readers, expected first week in March.

Posted in Feast Fables, On Writing | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Black and White Reflections

This week I braved the elements to take some fresh photos for the 2018picoftheweek challenge.


Flooded fields and puddled paths bedevilled my cross-country walk from Acle to Norwich on Thursday: Photo 15th February 2018

I wasn’t sure of the wisdom of this walk having a mild case of vertigo in aftermath of a sinus infection and/or a cold. But the sun was shining, the temperature set to rise to almost 10C, and the Met Office forecast no rain today. The only drawback was the wind, which became intense as the day progressed (so I hopped on a bus for the last couple miles).

The route runs more of less parallel with the A47, threading through the villages of North Burlingham, Hemblington, Blofield Heath and Little Plumstead. But most of that route, being along farm tracks and through woods, was thoroughly muddy. I learned to mud-skate! And it was worth it (even if Friday I suffered).

Catkins, Signs of Spring

Fat Catkins, a sure sign of Spring: Photo 15th Feb 2018

Honeysuckle Sign of Spring

Another sign of Spring’s arrival: Honeysuckle is the earliest green by wayside and woodland: Photo 15th Feb 2018

When I got home and downloaded the photos, I regretted not taking the Rebel. These  were taken on a Canon Ixus, a small ‘pop it in a pocket’ camera, but it hasn’t the controls I’ve come to rely on.

See #2018picoftheweek for list of categories and further details



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St Peter’s church, North Burlingham

The ruins of old churches seldom fail to catch my attention; I just have to investigate, even if it means a wade through waist-high nettles and a tangle of brambles. They exude a sense of Dark Gothic as if a nest of demons might lurk within. They evoke an earlier age, with images of the plague and endemic superstitions.

St Petes church North Burlingham

Claiming this as ‘Architecture’ and ‘Framed’ in #2018picoftheweek challenge. Photo: 15th April 2017

Most English ruins were Saxon foundations; in Norfolk rebuilt and embellished on the profits of the local wool and cloth industry in styles reflective of passing fashions, the latest being ‘Late Perpendicular’, a style favoured by the early Tudors. The ensuing Reformation saw the demise of these richly ornamented churches and a widespread replacement by the clean lines of the Puritan movement.

St Peter’s at North Burlingham, set a mere stretch east of its neighbour, St Andrews, is unusual in that its abandonment dates to the last century.  Its round tower collapsed into the nave, one night in 1906. Temporary repairs failed to stem further deterioration; in 1936 its congregation moved to the neighbouring church.

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Photo Challenge 2018

ofmariaantonia has put out a challenge. To post a new photo every Saturday, list of themes given below or follow the link. I couldn’t resist. Though until our British weather improves, I will be using photos I took in 2017 but haven’t yet posted in any form.

Cart and Ivy Vintage Nature

Nature runs rampant over the remains of a discarded cart: Photo taken 7 August 2017

I’m claiming two categories here: Nature and Vintage!

Want to join in? See ofmariaantonia for full details


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Angel in the Park

A short story first posted November 2012, dusted, polished and presented anew.

angel by The Digital Artist

‘Angel’ by The Digital Artist

Friday, and I flew through the door, excitement bubbling, impatient to tell Bill what had happened. I dropped my jacket on the floor, dropped my butt on the bed and picked up my floppy eared dog. I told him, I’d seen a fairy in the park. It—he—was just sitting there! Sitting right on my bench, the one where I usually eat my sarnies.

Of course, I walked on past. I sat on a bench farther along. Wasn’t like the park was busy. Plenty of benches for many more bums. But I kept looking back at him.

Yea, I know it’s hard to believe, I answered Bill’s bitty growl. But I swear it’s all true. A fairy was sitting on my usual bench in St George’s Park. Well, I thought him a fairy at first. Then I wondered if he was an elf. I mean, do we know the defining features?

Of course, he wasn’t either, neither fairy, nor elf. He was an angel. See, fairies and elves are diminutive things, that’s why we call them the wee folk. But he wasn’t small, he was big. Though not super-big; he wasn’t a giant. He was more … kind of man-sized.

But, as I told Bill, he wasn’t a human. How did I know? Because of the weather.

All morning, totally overcast, not a glimpse or glimmer of blue. Yet there in the park at lunch the sun was shining. Shining! And he was the source. All lit up, he was, like his halo had slipped and ballooned around him.

So, as I told Bill, he must be an angel. Unless he’s a saint. Anyway, disregarding; this was Friday night, so what to do for the weekend? I could play at Farnaby again. But to be honest, that Farnaby game was beginning to bore me.

The first few times, yea, great; I got a kick out of creating my own village and populating it. But now it was toddling along the excitement had gone from it. It was just something to do to pass time, like doing a jigsaw. What it needed was a disaster to kill off a few people. Then I could bring in some more. I pondered that, assessing the situation. Perhaps I could spend the weekend finding a site for the cemetery? Possibly close to the church, though that might require a major clearance. I chuckled, a thought then hitting. What if the villagers woke up on Sunday morning to find an angel asleep on the village green?

I asked Bill his opinion. Who’d be the first of Farnaby’s folk to greet the angel? And which of the residents has he come to help? It wouldn’t be the vicar. I’d made him a perv.

I sighed. If only I could create my own life as easily. I was trying; I’d read the books. But it seemed I was travelling through Sameness Country. Still, I had seen an angel in the park.


Monday, and as soon as I came through the door I had to tell Bill, he was there again today.

He was sitting exactly where he’d sat before, as if he’d not moved all weekend. As before, I kept on walking. But this time he called to me.

‘Hey! Hey, love!’

I ignored him. I mean, I was so embarrassed. There were people today and they could have heard, could have seen. But then I felt bad, so I turned back again.

‘Love!’ he called to me.

I wondered why he didn’t call me by name. As an angel he ought to have known it. But then maybe God hadn’t told him. Maybe God didn’t know it? Now I thought on it, that did seem likely what with me being an atheist. Anyway, I didn’t answer him. The angel that is, not the Big G. In truth, I wasn’t that sure he was actually there. I mean, I could have been hallucinating, though I’d never hallucinated before, and I didn’t want people staring at me, thinking me nuts.

However, I walked back to the bench and stood right in front of him. Being close sent a tingling feeling into my tummy, and tiny invisible feet that danced all over me, shooting a shiver right down my back. It was quite pleasant in a fearful way. Remembering a lesson in one of the How To books, I gathered my courage and tried to speak without moving my lips—just in case he wasn’t real, and someone was watching. ‘Are you talking to me?’

As I told Bill, he looked good enough to eat without salt. Young—or at least younger than me. Yet somehow, looking old—or was that just wise. Old and wise in an unworldly way.

He was wearing a jacket, leather. A flight-jacket. Apt, that, for an angel to wear. But I couldn’t believe what he said to me. ‘Got any change, love?’

And no, before you think it, he’s not one of those winos who congregate there. Winos, I’ve noticed, tend not to have halos. Not unless they’re dark halos of long, greasy uncombed hair. I’ll tell you as I told Bill, he is divine.

Anyway, I hadn’t any change. Well I had, but I needed that for myself. But I was honest, I told him.

‘Sorry,’ I said. ‘But if I give it to you I’ll be skint. What d’you want it for, anyway?’

He laughed. ‘I don’t. I just wanted something to say. Something to keep you here. To keep you talking.’

I sat down then. Well, dropped agog, really. I sat right beside him. Far too close. He was definitely not a wino. I mean, when have you ever seen a well-kept wino sitting on a park bench. And I don’t mean just his clothes, but his body too. I had to keep watch, not to lick my lips. He had a very fit body. And yes, he was definitely there, not a figment of my imagination. I could feel the heat of him. Angels are creatures of fire and light, and he was burning very bright.

At this, Bill gave me such a look. But I told him, I’ll wax lyrical all I like.

He introduced himself. Martin.

I said, ‘That’s not a Jewish name.’

Hey, listen to me: “I said, he said”. But we were sitting on that bench in St George’s Park, talking like regular folk. “Martin the Angel and I conversed—” Isn’t that something! I was so glad to have Bill to tell all this to. I swear I’d have burst if I had to keep it all to myself.

‘Rachel,’ I told him, meaning my name.

He raised his left brow. ‘Jewish?’

‘No,’ I said. ‘Atheist.’ And could have kicked myself for such a reply.

But before I could explain, he came right back with, ‘Snap.’

I blinked several times at him. Snap: such a strange thing to say.

‘Have you fallen?’ I asked. I mean, how else to explain this peculiar anomaly: an atheist angel? Was he best buddy with Satan? One of his Chosen.

‘Fallen from grace?’ he asked. ‘No, I never was there.’

I noticed the people walking past kept giving me glances. Could they see him? Or did they think me off my trolley, another of the nutters we get it the park, just sat there talking no one? I was feeling embarrassed. In a way I was glad that he’d knocked the senses out of me and I’d no more to say. I mean, an atheist angel, who’s ever heard of it. But by then my stomach was reminding me I’d not yet eaten. Yet how could I munch into a cheese and garlic sandwich with him beside me. He might speak again, I might need to answer. I couldn’t do that with a mouth full of raw garlic.

Then he suddenly asked me, ‘Do you?’

I didn’t ask him to clarify: Do I what? I just went into a panic. I shuffled my butt along the bench, an arm’s length between us at least. I mean, here was this guy I’d only just met and there he was asking if ‘I do’. But do I do what? A big dose of sense came clobbering over me. You hear such terrible things. My mother always warned us of strangers. My sisters would have run scared long before now. Mum always said they’d more sense than me. And my brother would be going ape if he knew.

I tell you, I was scared. I hadn’t been till then, but now with him asking me that ….

I sat up straight, business-like, my ‘don’t mess with me, buster, look’, ready to run if I must. Though I hoped that I wouldn’t.

‘Do I do what?’ I asked, cos some clue would be good.

‘Do you smoke?’ he said. ‘Regular, I mean. I don’t mean the funny stuff.’

‘No,’ I said. I was afraid I would laugh. I mean, relief does that and I didn’t want to scare him away.

‘Pity,’ he said and drew a lonely cigarette from a battered box.

Then, clear out of the blue, he said, ‘I’m an angel.’

Yea, I know I’d speculated that, but to hear him say it totally freaked me. Stunned into silence by the revelation, I simply gawped at him.

‘Would you like to come for a walk?’ he asked.

‘Work,’ I said. ‘I have to get back.’ That wasn’t the truth. The town hall clock had just struck the half.

‘I didn’t mean now. Not this moment. I was asking you out. A date.’

‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Yea, okay.’

Now, I expect you’re thinking the same as Bill, that he could be anyone. A serial killer. Am I crazy or what?

He said then that he likes to keep things real. That he isn’t the kind of angel who pops up unexpectedly, like he’s suddenly be there in the middle of the night, sitting at the end of the bed. He says he won’t do that cos it freaks people out. He asked for my number. He said that’s how he prefers to communicate, when not face-to-face. He said he’d bell me and make us a date.

He did lots of explaining, the rest of my lunch hour. He lives in a flat like a regular fella. And he signs on at the dole. See, he can’t get a job cos he’s far too busy being an angel. I had to laugh. I mean, can you imagine him signing on at the Job Centre to? ‘And what was your last job, Mr Angel? And your employer’s name?’ He couldn’t say God, could he, cos like me he’s an atheist.

But how in hell’s name can an angel be an atheist? It was so bugging me, I just had to ask him, though not in those words.

I said, ‘If you’re an angel, how come you don’t believe in God?’

He said, ‘How well versed are you in quantum physics? The Big Bang, photons, neutrons, the mass annihilation. If I talk of Dark Energy would you know what I mean? Or the Dark Dimension?

I couldn’t answer. I shrugged. Puffed. Held wide my ignorant arms.

He said, ‘Well, that’s what I am, and where I’m from. The Dark Dimension.’

But you know what’s bugging me? As I said to Bill, I thought angels were creatures of light.

Still, he’s my boyfriend now. And I am going to drop that bomb on Farnaby.

I append the two comments made, the first by Brian Bixby of Sillyverse; the second, made a year later by Judy of Janthina Images; both have seen become very dear friends. I thank them both for their continuing support.

Brian Bixby (Nov 2012):
An amusing possibility, as explained in your two subsequent posts. So, how would a dark angel be different? To whom or what would they owe allegiance? What would be their values and mission? Or would they even have one as a class? Perhaps being formed out of dark energy, they have no fixed relation to the world of regular matter. You could take this in the direction of an alien life form, or a spiritual guide, or even raise the question of whether there’s any difference.

My Reply:
You’ve hit right on it. Quantum angels are the quintessential all-for-one, one-for-all: they have no overlord, dark or otherwise. However, as in the Zoroastrian religion, (Ahura Mazda v. Ahriman) there has been a division amongst them. Some have been banished. But to say more would reveal too soon the crux of the Feast Fables plot (a fantasy I’m currently structuring as a blogged book). You’ll have to stay tuned.

Judy (Nov 2013):
So interesting …a quantum angel…I guess how quantifiable as energy or light remains to be revealed in your stories? Right now he’s a bit of a dark mystery.

My Reply:
BB of Sillyverse has recently described the underlying theology/cosmology of Feast Fables and Neve as quantum shamanism. I’m apt to agree.

Posted in Shorts | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Asaric Tales e-book update #2

books by congerdesign

photo by congerdesign on pixabay

Six weeks ago, I announced my intention of publishing the story posted on WP as Feast Fables as an e-book. First of a lengthy list of preparatory tasks was the rewrite. I’m pleased to say I’ve now ticked that one off the list.

Asaric Tales (Feast Fables) rewrite

I wasn’t happy with the protagonist’s age at opening. But to change it wasn’t a simple matter of changing the opening chapters. It required a trawl through to around the mid-point to catch every reference. In the process I noticed certain scenes needed reworking, particularly with description of either setting or character. As an example, and the most glaring, the protagonist is due to meet a character towards the end of Book Two (to become Book Three, but more of that below) who bears striking resemblance to a character she has met in Book One. But apart from said character’s star-spangled robe and his manner of speaking, I completely omitted any description. I’ve now amended that. I then found, post midpoint, a series of scenes that I’d stripped down so tight when uploading to blog that now even I couldn’t understand them. Consequence is … it has taken 6 weeks to rewrite Book One.

Restructuring the Asaric Tales (Feast Fables) Trilogy

I had already decided to move a chunk from end of Book One to beginning of Book Two. Now I’ve decided that chunk (90k words) is best left as a book on its own. Which means the previous Book Two now becomes Book Three. Which in turns makes what was a trilogy into quadrilogy[?]. At which point I took another look at the overall structure.

Most writers will structure their plot to fit the 3 Act structure.

  • Act One: ordinary world, call to adventure, crossing the threshold.
  • Act Two: test, friends and foes, crisis/ordeal, reward.
  • Act Three: regrouping, incorporation of reward/lessons learned, final attack/climax, success, denouement.

I’ve taken this from Christopher Vogler’s book The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters. At the time of publication Vogler was Director of Development at Fox 2000. His ‘structure and elements’ theory is based on Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. As he proves with many examples, this is the most commonly used structure, at least the movie-business, today.

This is the structure I’ve been using since forever (sorry, I don’t remember when).

However, courtesy of John Yorke’s Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them (Penguin Books, 2013) I have now discovered the 5 Act structure. Wow! To those who’ve not yet read it, I strongly recommend it.

Yorke, whose credits are in UK TV (e.g. The White Queen, Wolf Hall, the BBC series Casualty and Holby City and many more), repeatedly asks the question Why? Why we tell stories. And why those stories invariably fall into a classic act structure. Yet it’s not the 3 Act structure. It’s a 5 Act structure. As he shows, even those plots that seem to fall into three acts, are in fact structured on five. Yes, even Shakespeare. And even writers who claim not to structure in acts, use this same 5 Act structure. It appears to be innate.

Put exceeding brief:

  • Act 1: no knowledge, growing knowledge, awakening
  • Act 2: doubt, overcoming reluctance, acceptance
  • Act 3: experimenting with knowledge, MP (breakthrough), experimenting post knowledge
  • Act 4: doubt, growing reluctance, regression
  • Act 5: re-awakening, re-acceptance, total mastery

Taken from Into the Woods, John Yorke, 2013

Applying this to Asaric Tales (Feast Fables) in its entirety, it fits snugger than the cliched glove. Applying it to the individual books, I discovered Book One to work best without that chunk I’d already decided to take off. Book Two (that chunk) to work best stood on its own. Book Three, as was and still is, nicely conforms. And, the surprise, what was Book Three only works if I divide it to Books Four and Five.

Upshot. The original trilogy has become a quint: a story told over five books. Structurally, it’s sound. As a side benefit, to divide into 5 instead of 3 means the books aren’t so word heavy. Nice.

To publish a fantasy quint

Over recent years the trilogy (or more) has become the norm for fantasy fiction. Yet the reading public shows a major resistance to buying the first book until all are available. So, I reckon why waste resources, financial or otherwise, pushing a single book, an exercise much resembling a goat pushing a wall, when with a little patience, I can push the full quint and receive a much better response for my efforts. Thus and therefore, and other posh-sounding words, Feast Fables e-book will not go to Kindle until all five parts are ready.

Asaric Tales, the new name for Feast Fables

Yep, along with the new structure, I’ve renamed the former trilogy.

The former trilogy, now the quint, has become The Asaric Tales (which is a phrase I have used, often, on this site to refer to the complete set of tales, from Feast  Fables and Neve, to more recently Can of Worms ). Each of the books will feature the name, Asaric, e.g. Asaric Bones, or whatever.

Beta Readers

How close am I now to recruiting these readers? I’d say a month or so away. The rewrite (book one) done, I’m leaving it a week, to flush the memory of it from my mind. I then will read it straight through. A 2-3-day job, depending on interruptions. While I might at this stage highlight where I need more work, I will not lose the thread by making amendments. My aim is to check that it all holds together while, hopefully, culling rogue words (those I repeatedly use than are so annoying for the reader).

Thereafter, the edits.

While doing the rewrite my eye has been keen for show/not tell, unnecessary use of ‘he said/she said’, unrequired adverbs and adjectives, weak verbs, passive verbs etc. But I’ve no doubt there are still sufficient of those, plus other no-no’s, to build a bonfire ready for Guy Fawkes (sorry folks, that’s specifically English). So, that’s what’s next. Then … my volunteers get a bite at it.

Watch out for the next update (mid-February) when, if you’re interested in being a beta reader and getting a sneak preview of the improved Asaric Tales, I could be putting the call out to you.

Posted in Feast Fables, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Two Days of Summer

Photographs are memories made physical and lasting. These five photos remind me of two of the hottest days of last summer. Not in late July or Mid-August as might be expected, but 31st May and 20 June.

Ox-Eye Daisy 31 May 2017

Ox-Eye daisies growing on an embankment between road and rail

Dog rose 31 May 2017

Dog rose in a cow meadow

Yellow Flag 31 May 2017

Yellow Flag in swathes alongside a river on a grazed common

Bindweed 20 June 2017

Greater Bindweed scrambling over an overgrown hedge alongside an old rail-track-turned-walkers’ path

Scabious 20 June 2017

Scabious proud beside an arable field

I remember 20th June for the several discoveries I made. Despite I’d walked this route many times, I found a looped path that took me alongside the Wensum as it enters Norwich, the river a mass of yellow water lilies budding and rising and opening. Not far beyond that I stumbled upon a meadow turned purple and pink with orchids and ragged robin. Then into Costessey I went in search of the as-yet unexcavated Costessey Henge, and the confluence of the tivers Tud and Wensum, and found both. Amazing, this is the village where I grew up, yet I’d never explored here.

31st May I remember for having arrived at the village of (Upper) Tasburgh to find the residents abuzz with news of a recent Norfolk Archaeological dig, an attempt to pin a definitive date on Tasburgh ‘fort’; is it Dark Ages, Roman, or Iron Age Iceni? The results weren’t yet in but the word on the ground was ‘definitely Iron Age’. Then, in taking a short-cut, I came upon al triangular patch of fen-land busy with damselflies in all varieties and colours.

Though in themselves these five flower photos don’t relate to the discoveries, for me they  encapsulate my memories of those two hot days.

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