The Kujira: a titanic and macabre skeletal whale that reaps the souls of the damned. Twelve-year-old Levi has been fleeing it for 387 years.
First Mate Levi is dead on his feet, but there’s a new soul aboard the ghost ship the Humble Brag. Sam is fearless, covered in shark bites, and she’s pretty okay about being dead. Levi likes her immediately, because no-one ever said a floating graveyard couldn’t use a bit of spirit. A ship of rescued souls, they make the best of the afterlife, flying full sail from the gruesome whale—fugitives from the dreaded below.
But it all comes crashing down when an epic storm hits and Levi’s dad – Captain of the Brag – is flung overboard into the jaws of the Kujira and hauled down to the underworld. With the supernatural link to the ship severed, the Humble Brag will fade to nothing, and they’ll all be next on the Kujira’s menu.
And then Sam’s like, “Why don’t we just nip down to the underworld and rescue him?”
Levi is faced with a chilling dilemma that involves going to the one place he’s spent 387 years running away from in a terrifying race against time. The clock is ticking. Eighty-two salvaged souls aboard the Brag are relying on Levi to step up and be the leader he never wanted to be.
Save the Captain. Save the Brag.
The Graveyard Book meets Pirates of the Caribbean, SAVING THE HUMBLE BRAG is perfect for fans of Dashe Roberts (Sticky Pines) and Jennifer Killick (Crater Lake) and anyone who loves dark adventure and spine-tingling horror laced with humour.
A murderous martian is hunting spookynatural-obsessed Vinny and his extra-terrestrial sidekick, and it’s gonna take an offbeat band of misfits, a couple of lawless capers and a whole bunch of detention to beat him.
ASTRO is perfect for fans of Dashe Roberts’ The Bigwoof Conspiracy and Ross Welford’s The Kid Who Came from Space, with a super-fly serving of The Goonies.
It’s 1994! Vinny (11) is crazy-for-cocoa-puffs about aliens, The X-Files is his favourite tv show and he genuinely believes the truth is out there. When an alien spacecraft crash-lands in his back-garden, he envisages little green men. What he gets is a straight-talking, cantankerous spaceslug called Astro.
Spaceslugs have been coming to Earth for decades, so when Astro arrives, he expects a spectacular welcome party, or at the very least – a fruit basket. Instead, he gets a warm satsuma and the knowledge that his fellow astronauts have been destroyed by a genocidal, lilac fedora-wearing, extra-terrestrial lunatic called Murtlap Indigo. He doesn’t just destroy the spaceslugs, he has a weapon that zaps away their personality, leaving the victim a mindless Earth slug. With the ability to disguise himself as a human, Murtlap Indigo could be anyone.
Vinny and Astro team up with an unlikely bunch of misfits. They call themselves the Da Vinci club. Together, they battle against Murtlap Indigo: heisting the underground vaults of the Space Museum, stealing a Spitfire, flying to the Bermuda Triangle, and landing a whole heck of detention.
The first draft is usually when I confetti my manuscript with laughs and smiles. And the first edit is when I’ll search through each instance and either delete, look for an alternative or bestow it with the honour of being allowed to stay. Yes, I could cut out so many stages if I just applied this ruthlessness to the first draft, but what can I say – my first drafts are messy and this is my process. 🙂
I’ve made this infographic for when you want an alternative word, especially when you still want to say e.g. “she laughed” but are looking for a more expressive word.
Here’s a 2020-centric tip (and let’s hope it’ll only apply to 2020!): With us wearing masks when we’re out and about, it’s the perfect time for a little people-studying. It’s amazing how much we watch someone’s mouth when they talk to us, so it’s natural for we writers to transfer that to the page with smiles, laughs, smirks and frowns. But the necessitation for mask-wearing has meant we need to translate body language differently.
Next time you’re on the bus or in the supermarket, study people’s behaviour when you think they’re smiling or laughing (try not to be too obvious!). What do you see? What other quirks and characteristics are they exhibiting? Maybe they’re being expressive with their hands? Or their shoulders shake? Or they’re fanning away the onslaught of happy tears? Keep a bank of mannerisms in your writer’s notebook and you’ll always have it to refer to for new and imaginative action tags.
“Look” is my nemesis when it comes to editing the first draft. My characters are always ‘looking up’ or ‘looking down’ or ‘looking here’ or ‘looking there’. Most of the time, I’ll search for ‘look’ and delete the reference entirely. It’ll go on the pile of culled words and I’ll find a new action for my character. But sometimes, the action is right.
I generally go through each use of the word ‘look’, and decide whether a better word can be used. I’ll ask myself questions of the scene and the character’s motivation. For instance, there is a world of difference between, “she glanced”, “she gazed”, and “she glared”. Yet, each example gives a much fuller picture in your mind than “she looked” ever could.
It seemed only fair that I share this infographic with fellow serial lookers. It makes the third in my Synonym Series. Here are the links to the others:
This is part two of my Synonym Series! The first part talked about using ‘said’ in dialogue and offered a graphic of synonyms. You can find that here. This part talks about going places.
This is an easy one to tackle on the line edit and it’ll do wonders to liven up your Work In Progress. Do a word search for all instances of “walk” in your manuscript. Sometimes, “walk” will be just fine. Don’t try and shoehorn a more complicated phrase when a simple one works best. However, a red flag, should be when “walk” is followed by an adverb.
“She walked quickly” can become, “she raced” or, “she darted”. Both are much more succinct and dynamic examples to describe the action.
Similarly, “she walked slowly” can become, “she lumbered” or “she ambled”. You can see how it adds another dimension to your phrase: “lumbered” suggests that she has the weight of the world on her, like every step is heavy. Whereas, “ambled” is a little lighter, like she is aimless. That’s the beauty of a stronger word. It can convey so much more than “she walked slowly” ever could!
Here’s a handy little infographic of synonyms to help you on your way!
There is so much conflicting advice out there for when to use ‘said’ in dialogue. Should you use it? Shouldn’t you use it? Some people say never; others say always. It can become confusing and overwhelming. I say this, because I have been both confused and overwhelmed.
The aim of the game is to produce imaginative and flowing prose. This means you have to use all the tools at your disposal.
It is true, that ‘said’ should be used in the first instance. The thing about this little word is that is disappears. Think about this the next time you are reading dialogue. Do you really notice the ‘saids’? Your brain is most likely glossing over them, focussing on the dialogue and using them as an anchor to know who’s speaking.
So when do you use synonyms?
A great tip is to go through your manuscript, search for ‘said’ and see if there is an adverb following it. If there is, the likelihood is a synonym will be more dynamic. For example, if you’ve written, ‘she said quietly’ then, ‘she whispered’ is better effective. Or, ‘she said loudly’ becomes, ‘she shouted’.
Just to throw a spanner in the works: there is room in the writerly world for adverbs. I know that some people think they are the devil, but I love them. And when used carefully, can produce a great voice to your work. As I said earlier: use ALL the tools in your arsenal.
Here’s some synonyms to help you on your writerly way: