Saturday, 22 February 2014

Finally reaching the finishing post

This post was inspired by a question that was posted up on one of the Facebook groups I'm a (somewhat part-time) member of. The question was related to which is more difficult to write, a beginning or an ending.

I can't recall if I replied to the question or not (most likely or not - but it was a while ago and I tend to forget things quite easily) but it definitely got me thinking about the whole process of coming up with an ending to a story.

It seems like such an important thing. While people often go on about how important the beginning is - and how important it is to hook in your reader from the start - the ending is the final impression people have of a story. It's what holds everything together, and is in some ways the true test of a storyteller. I don't know how many times I've finished a book and gone "wha?" because the ending just wasn't right. Even if I've found myself absorbed from the beginning, if the ending is a let down, it's going to significantly cloud my feelings about the book.

And let's face it. Endings are difficult. With most of the stories I write, I don't have a clue about the ending when I start writing. Even with stories that are quite planned out, like Magnus Opum or Flidderbugs, my planning doesn't usually extend all the way to the end. And that's not even considering the three Neville Lansdowne stories, where I'm not even sure what's happening in the next chapter, let alone what happens right at the end. I've always just trusted that the further I get into the story and the more I know about the characters, the right ending will present itself. So far, my trust hasn't been let down.

The funny thing is, the story I'm working on at the moment is the first story I've ever written where I had the ending before anything else. Since then, the process of writing has been figuring out how I can get the characters and the situation towards that ending. And when I finally got to it, guess what happened? I messed it up completely. Having read through my first draft, I can see that it pretty much needs to be rewritten from scratch.

That's the thing with endings. They never quite work out the way you think they will. The main thing, I guess, is that they do work out.

Have a great week. 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Setting out my path for 2014

It's that time again.

That time when I take out my (rather dirty and dusty) crystal ball and try to peer into the future to see what 2014 holds for me. It's time to figure out exactly what I want to get done, and what goals I need to set for myself.

Last year was a pretty good year as far as achieving goals went. I didn't manage to get Scrawling out on time, but one month late isn't too bad. But I did get my detective novel through two rewrites, which meant that was a big tick. And on top of that, I got a couple of bonuses by signing two publishing contracts. So all in all, a definite win year.

So now I need to see how I can continue that momentum.

The first thing I can say for sure is there won't be a new Neville story. After putting out three, and two of them in the last two years, I think Neville is definitely ready for a rest. And given the bizarre stuff he tends to get involved with, I'm sure he'll be grateful.

Here then is my planned list of goals for the year:
  1. Obviously get both of the books through publishers out and on the shelves. Thomas and the Tiger Turtle will be out in May. Still don't have a (re-)release date for Magnus Opum yet but hopefully it's not far away.
  2. Keep working on the detective story. I'd really like to have it edited and in publish-ready shape by the end of the year.
  3. I think I'd like to go back to my other novel in progress - it's kind of a MG/YA fantasy story, but as usual with me it's quite hard to pigeon-hole. I completed a first draft in 2012 and hopefully will get a chance to redraft it substantially. I'd like to see it in the same state by the end of this year as the detective story is now - and believe me it needs a lot of work.
  4. Would love to see if I can get another picture book out there. Will dip into my file to see what either of the publishers might be interested in. I might see if I can write another one or two.
  5. I have this idea for a time travel dinosaur story. It could work as a kind of companion peace for Flidderbugs. Not sure if I'll have time to get onto this but it would be good to at least make a start.
So that's my list. Hopefully I'm not taking too much on. Life has a habit of setting its own agendas, and my crystal ball is pretty murky, so we'll see how we go.
Wish me luck. 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Excerpt from The Beacon by A.B. Shepherd

It's always a pleasure to have a guest here at Dag-Lit Central. Today, A. B. Shepherd shares an extract from her novella The Beacon.

And if you take a look at her site, you may just find a little something by me.

The Beacon

Chapter Six

Shivering with cold and fear from a violent dream, I woke with a start. The dream faded as soon as I opened my eyes, but the chill remained. Where had the quilt gone? It no longer covered me and did not lie on the floor at my feet.

Early morning light belied the chill. It streamed through a tiny window high in the stone wall, illuminating the room in a golden glow. No warmth remained from the fire I’d stoked the night before.

I looked to the hearth to see if embers remained that I could spark to life. My jaw dropped in disbelief. I rubbed my eyes, yet the image did not change. The hearth lay empty except for the fire grate. Not only were there no embers burning, there was no ash. It had been swept clean.

I shivered again, teeth chattering as I blew warm air on my freezing hands. No wonder it was so cold. But how? And who?

Looking around, what I saw made my stomach clench and chest tighten. What the hell was going on here? My patient, Ruth, no longer occupied the bed. In fact, the bed was stripped clean and all that remained was a moth-eaten, old feather mattress on the bed frame. No signs of what had taken place the night before remained at all.

My body was clothed in my own tattered jeans and sweatshirt, instead of the flannel gown I’d worn when I’d fallen asleep. I still wore no shoes, and my feet were still freezing. What happened to the bloody nightdress?

Shaking with fear and cold, I left the relative comfort of the rocking chair. Again tiptoeing – I always felt the need to tiptoe in this house – I ventured into the corridor. Peeking into the little girls’ room, I was uncertain what I would find and braced myself for anything.

In spite of my precautions, the wind was still knocked out of my sails. The room was empty save for the bed frame also covered with a worn and tattered feather mattress. This house felt so desolate it was as if no one had lived there for decades. 

One door further down the corridor, my own room was also vacant except for the bed, bare mattress and rough furniture. No soft furnishings remained. Even the cross above the bed was gone. 

No longer tiptoeing I searched the main room. All of the small items, dishes, everything, were gone, but the furniture remained, although it looked even more worn than the day before. The grate here had also been swept clean. 

The kitchen shelves were bare. Not even a scrap of food to be found. My stomach rumbled reminding me I was hungry. Starving in fact. I was so hungry I could eat a horse. Where the heck did that expression originate anyway?

I wanted to let the random thought distract me. Instead I examined the remainder of the house. I needed to solve this riddle. 

Could someone really have come in and packed up all the household goods, the kids and Ruth, absconding with them in the middle of the night while I slept and not have disturbed me at all?

Was it possible the man wasn’t dead after all? Had he recovered enough to get help? Or to take off with Ruth, the kids and all their belongings? But why would he have left me sleeping and taken off with his family. A more likely scenario would have been for him to attack me while I slept.

After exploring all the rooms on the main floor, I stood before the spiral staircase at the opposite end of the corridor. As the morning progressed more light came through the high windows, making it easier to see. At the foot of the metal steps I looked up as far as I could see. Although there were rust spots here and there, they appeared to be sturdy enough. Grasping the iron handrail, I took the first step, bouncing a bit on the tread to make sure it would hold. I felt no give. Gingerly, I began to climb, clinging tightly to the handrail just in case. There were so many rungs. I began counting them. The iron felt even colder on my bare feet than the slate floor.

At fifty I quit counting, but I kept climbing. At the top stood a trap door. I gave it a shove and it moved slightly. Pushing with all my upper body strength and using my legs for extra leverage, I managed to shove the heavy door until it fell back, allowing me to climb through. The hatch opened into a tiny little circular room with large windows all the way around. Most of the windows were broken and there were shards of glass scattered across the floor so I didn’t venture off the staircase in my bare feet. In the centre of the tiny room was a giant lantern. 

This was no ordinary house. It was a lighthouse. The lantern was shattered too. Apparently this lighthouse had not been operational for some time.

Even from a distance I could see much through the windows. Straight ahead the sea spread out in all its glory. Where the sea met the shore stood the remnants of a short pier, most of it under water, the remainder teetering on its supports. About fifty feet to the right of the pier was a crumbling boathouse. I could see holes in the roof, and a distinct lean to one side. 

Unable to step forward for fear of slicing my soles, I stood as tall as I could on my now numb toes, to see through the remaining windows. All I was able to make out were the tops of trees.

I felt a little vertigo as I walked back down the staircase. I needed food, drink and something to cover my blue feet.

I also needed to check to see if the body was where I’d left it alongside the house. I turned a little green at the thought. Maybe food could wait a little longer.

Buy it now - you can get The Beacon for just 99 cents on Amazon.


A book that will leave you questioning your reality. Readers are raving over The Beacon and have likened it to:

  1. A Twilight Zone episode 
  2. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
  3. The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
*This novella contains discussion questions making it ideal for book clubs.

Shipwrecked on an isolated island...

How far would you go to help a new friend? Would you kill someone?

How do you know what is and isn't real?

When The Beacon beckons safe harbour isn't guaranteed.

About the author

A.B. Shepherd burst onto the literary scene in 2013 with her debut novel, Lifeboat. Lifeboat is a science-fiction novel with heart about a grieving widow who is abducted by aliens.

A.B. soon followed that up with The Beacon, a psychological thriller novella that has been compared to The Yellow Wallpaper, The Tell-Tale Heart, and a Twilight Zone episode. 

In late 2014 A.B. plans to launch her two current works in progress, a sequel to Lifeboat, and another psychological thriller - keep your eyes open for them.

Originally from Lansing, Michigan A.B. now lives in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia. When she isn’t writing you can usually find A.B. at seaside or lost in a fantasy world. A.B. loves to hear from readers. If you’d like to connect with her check out her website at, or feel free to email her at

Saturday, 8 February 2014

I know everything - I know nothing

Sometimes I feel like I'm the smartest person I know.

Especially when it comes to things like trivia quizzes. I seem to have a really good head for trivia quizzes. Stuff just seeps into my brain and seems to make itself at home there. Then it always seems to be ready at hand when there's a question to be answered. People sometimes look at me, and say things like, "How the hell did you know something like that?" I have no idea. It's not that I've actually tried to learn it. It just gets stuck there.

The thing about being smart in some situations is that people begin to expect that you'll be smart all the time. Even I get sucked into believing that, just because I'm quite good at recall of trivial facts, it means I'm actually really clever.

And then some other situation will come along, and I'll reveal my complete dumbness to the rest of the world. It might be a social situation - I can be particularly bad at social situations. Or maybe, it's just where I'll be surrounded by people who can speak so clearly and intelligently about all this stuff I have no idea about. Occasionally, I'll make a big mistake and open my mouth, demonstrating my ignorance to those around me. Or, more often, I'll just stand there silently wishing I had something intelligent to say that would help me to join in on the conversation.

Funny thing life. It always seems to be full of these kind of contradictions. One moment, you can be the smartest person in the room, the next you can be a complete ignoramus. I suppose after a while you get used to it.

I've hit on a pretty good strategy for when I'm in those situations where other people make me feel stupid. I figure that deep down, they're probably feeling the same way I do. Even as they're demonstrating how they clearly know everything, there's every chance that deep down they too know that they really know nothing.

And that makes me feel a whole lot better. 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Neville is back - and you'll never believe what he's up to
In Doodling, he fell of the world.

In Scribbling, he pushed the world completely out of shape.

Now, at last, due to (admittedly somewhat limited) public demand, Neville Lansdowne makes his third appearance. That's right - the third edition of the extraordinary saga of Neville's adventures has just been released. And you'll never believe what happens to Neville this time.

In Scribbling, Neville has somehow managed to drown in a sea of words. Okay, maybe not actually drown. But he has ended up deep down in a strange new world. A world where everything he sees, and all the character he meets, are constructed entirely from words.

And, of course, a Neville story would not be a Neville story without some sort of strange and unexpected adventure, and this one is a doozy. If Neville can't find an answer, both the real world and his new undersea world of words will both be destroyed.

So take some time for a bit of Scribbling. It's available from Amazon, and will soon will be up and running on all the other ebook stores as well.

So enjoy - and please take good care of all your words.