Tag Archives: Snowdonia Chronicles

Guest Post – Writing A Sequel by Sarah Mussi


Today I am so so happy  to be part of the blog tour for Here Be Witches by the lovely Sarah Mussi!

Here Be Witches was released on the 1st March 2017 published by Shrine Bell and is book two in Sarah’s Snowdonia Chronicles series!  I cannot wait to delve into this adventure as soon as possible!

Find out more about the first in the series, Here Be Dragons in this previous guest post here

Today Sarah interviews herself in the form of a brilliant guest post and discusses exactly how to write a sequel…….

*Drum roll*


Here Be Witches is the second book in the Snowdonia Chronicles trilogy by Sarah Mussi. A perilous adventure into the magical and murderous realm of mythical Snowdonia.

All Ellie Morgan wants is to be with her one true love, Henry. But she’s caught in the middle of a BATTLE as old as SNOWDON itself. A battle between GOOD and EVIL.

A WITCHES’ SPELL, cast high on the mountain, has sped up time and made matters MUCH WORSE. The dragons are awake; mythical creatures and evil ghosts have risen. And nearly all of them want Ellie DEAD.

Thank heavens for loyal friend George, (disloyal) bestie Rhi, and mysterious stranger, Davey. Armed with Granny Jones’s potions, Ellie and her companions must set out on a journey to REVERSE THE SPELL, stop the EVIL White Dragon and find Henry.

As an eternal winter tightens its grip on Snowdon, Ellie and her friends have just THREE DAYS to SURVIVE and complete their quest.


Writing A Sequel

I’m totally thrilled to be with Tales of Yesterday on day two of my blog tour for book two in The Snowdonia Chronicles: Here be Witches

THANK YOU SO MUCH Tales of Yesterday!

During my blog tour I will be interviewing myself on HOW TO WRITE A SEQUEL!

So here goes…

Sarah interviews Sarah on how to write a sequel in a thrilling and compelling romantic fantasy!

Sarah

Welcome to the world of WRITING A SEQUEL.

I am using Here be Witches to explain my thinking on how I did it.

Q.

OK.  Great. I shall be asking you lots of questions … now where did we get to?

 Sarah

A.

We got to the narrative equation and writing a synopsis.

 Q.

Ah! I remember you were going to share the synopsis of Here be Witches, can you do that now?

A.

Well, a synopsis can go on for a bit longer than you might want to post here, and a synopsis for a sequel might have to contain vital exposition from book one … so I’ll just put the beginning of the synopsis for Here be Witches in this blog. The beginning is always the most important bit anyway, as it sets the scene, identifies the genre and whets the appetite (hopefully) for more. So here goes …

Here be Witches

Ellie’s heart is broken and there is only one person who can mend it: Henry Pendragon, royal heir and Y Ddraig Goch, Red Dragon of Wales. But Henry can’t help Ellie, for he is badly wounded and entombed under Mount Snowdon, held there by ancient magic along with Sir Oswald, his fiendish uncle, and White Dragon of Wessex.

 Determined to free Henry, Ellie dedicates herself to the task. On the 29th February, an auspicious day in the calendar of dragons, she receives a distressed message from her bestie, Rhiannon, something terrible has happened at Henry’s cavern. Her heart misses a beat. As soon as possible, Ellie sets out for Dinas Emrys where Henry lies imprisoned. 

 On her arrival at the lair, Ellie discovers that her friend, and other members of a witches’ coven have performed a sinister ritual on the cliffs above the subterranean cavern, a ceremony designed to break the magic laid upon the dragons and awake them. 

 In horror Ellie hears how the ceremony went terribly wrong. The earth cracked wide, one of the girls slipped into the chasm and was impaled upon two shimmering crystals. With a sound like thunder, the mountain split open and from inside it arose a terrifying white dragon, alive, awake and very angry …

Q.

Yes, I see how each paragraph is a scene with some paragraphs acting as exposition too, but I can also see that because you have chosen to have Ellie as the narrator again, you have been unable or chosen not to have her see the witches’ ceremony first hand. Why was that?

A.

OK, those are very perceptive questions, and I can’t answer them fully until we have established a few basics. Can I just go back to basics for a minute?

Q.

Sure. Go ahead.

A.

Right before we dive into the content and the problems of point of view and the delivery of ‘off stage’ scenes, I’d like to show you how I answered some fundamental narrative questions when planning Here be Witches. They involve looking at:

What exactly is a narrative?

What exactly is a plot?

What exactly is structure?

 Q.

Why do you need to ask that?

 A.

It really helps with the planning. Here’s why…

In a narrative you need at least three things:

A character, a setting, some events (so in Here be Witches that breakdown runs like this: Ellie lives in Snowdonia and must overcome problems to achieve her goal).

In a plot we need at least three things

A character, a goal, a problem (so Ellie’s goal is to be with her true love Henry, but the magic, which has gone wrong, has banished Henry forever from the world).

For a structure we at least need three things

A beginning, middle, and an end (therefore Ellie must discover why Henry has been banished and then set out to find a way to reverse the magic and restore Henry to her and finally overcome those who wish to stop her).

Once you’ve got that in place then you can then decide about narration and point of view and ask yourself, if your lead character/protagonist is really the best person to tell this story and the one most affected by the action in general. If the answer is yes – you can then use additional devices to ‘show’ key ‘off stage’ scenes that are not within the remit of the protagonist’s point of view.

Only then can you really start to climb the narrative mountain and plan out a totally thrilling story:

Q.

OK, but how did you decide Ellie WAS the best character to narrate this story?

 A.

Well despite the fact that she was the narrator in book one Here be Dragons and there might be readers who are already invested in her story, I had to establish that she was still the best character to continue to tell the story and to do this I had to revisit an important  principle – that it’s not what happens in a story, so much as who it happens to that is the most important aspect.  Readers live the story through the characters, so they need a really nice/reliable (usually)/interesting and convincing companion to see/live the events through.

Q.

But what makes an interesting, convincing character?

 A.

Good question! Here’s the way I decide:

Firstly a character needs characteristics

A main character should be heroic, and strong (perhaps)? Good-looking (controversial?) Independent? Kind?  I try to think of characters I admire in fiction I’ve read and ask myself why do I like them? Then add my answers into the mix when creating my characters.

I also like to choose a flaw that my protagonist will need to overcome. Flaws make us human and help readers to identify with the character and understand the decisions they make. (My flaw for Ellie is that she is loving out of her element, and it is bringing harm down on those others who love her and on her home.)

Secondly, a character drives the plot forward

So a goal is important, as this is the engine of the story. I always choose the person who has the strongest/most interesting/most identifiable with goal to narrate my stories (forbidden love is a V strong goal and has driven many a better narrative than mine!). The character’s desire to achieve their goal drives the action forward, and when the character meets conflict they struggle to overcome it.

Note to self pinned on my wall: PROTAGONISTS MUST CONFRONT OVERWHELMING CONFLICT IN THEIR PURSUIT OF SOME VISIBLE GOAL.

This is so key because then the plot structure simply follows the sequence of events that lead the hero toward their goal, which mean all the hard work of plotting is done for me!

Thirdly, a character with a goal has motivation

Motivations make the character keep going when things get tough. Though sometimes it is the fear of what will happen if they fail and the stakes that drive them forward.

Finally, a character needs a background

Name/age and looks/ family/a place to live – all these things can help to make the story just right for the reader – as I choose a protagonist that might be very like the reader in some of these aspects to create reader identification.

After thinking about all of these points I decided that Ellie was still the main character and I was going to tell the story from her point of view.

Q.

So will you tell us then how you dealt with ‘off stage’ scenes and what devices you used to help the reader feel present at the action?

 A.

Yes!

I’ll do that in my next post!

So stand by for tomorrow’s blog with tips and tricks for drip-feeding or even elbowing-in all the dreaded EXPOSITION and POV conundrums with Queen of Teen Fiction! http://www.queenofteenfiction.co.uk/

SEE YOU THERE!

You can buy a copy of Here Be Witches here or from your local bookshop

 


About Sarah Mussi

Sarah Mussi is an award-winning author of children’s and young adults’ fiction. Her first novel, The Door of No Return, won the Glen Dimplex Children’s Book Award and was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award. Her second novel, The Last of the Warrior Kings, was shortlisted for the Lewisham Book Award, inspired a London Walk, and is used as a textbook in Lewisham schools. Her thriller, Siege, was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal (2014) and won the BBUKYA award for contemporary YA fiction. Her thriller, Riot, was longlisted for The Amazing Book Award and shortlisted for The Lancashire Schools Award. Her most recent novel, Bomb, was published in 2015 by Hodder Children’s Books. Sarah was born and raised in the Cotswolds, attended Pate’s Grammar School for Girls, and graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Winchester School of Art and an MA from the Royal College of Art. She spent over fifteen years in West Africa as a teacher and now teaches English in Lewisham, where she is also the current Chair of CWISL (Children’s Writers and Illustrators in South London).

Find out more about Sarah on her website – www.sarahmussi.com

Or why not follow Sarah on twitter using – @sarahmussi

You can buy Sarah’s books here


Blog Tour

You can follow or catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Sarah for a fab guest post and to Lorna at VP for organising and asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Here Be Witches?  What did you think?  Will you be picking up a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Point Of No Return by Sarah Mussi


here-be-dragons

Today I am so so happy  to be part of the blog tour for Here Be Dragons by the lovely Sarah Mussi!

Here Be Dragons was released on the 1st September 2015 published by Vertebrate Publishing and is book one in Sarah’s new Snowdonia Chronicles series!  I am so over the moon to have received a copy and I cannot wait to delve into this adventure as soon as possible!

Here Be Dragons is now showcased by The People’s Book Prize!

VOTE for HBD here: http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=1332

There’s also a fab giveaway running throughout the blog tour to win a copy of Here Be Dragons!  Be sure to check out the bottom of the post to find out how to enter!

Today Sarah interviews herself in the form of a brilliant guest post and discusses The Point Of No Return…….

*Drum roll*


here-be-dragons

Ellie Morgan wants a boy who’s all hers. Just for once, it would be nice to meet someone that Sheila (the cow) hadn’t got her claws in to.

A remote farmhouse on Mount Snowdon is hardly the ideal setting for meeting anyone unless, of course, you count her best friend George or creepy Darren (which Ellie doesn’t). But when a boy, glimpsed through the mist and snow, lures her up to the Devil’s Bridge, Ellie realises the place she knows so well still has its secrets …

The stronger her feelings for this strange boy become, the more she is in danger: a battle as old as Snowdon itself has been raging for centuries and now Ellie’s caught in the middle.

Something has left its lair.

It s out there stalking her.

Who ever said true love was easy?


The Point Of No Return

Hi everybody and welcome back to my blog tour to celebrate the launch of HERE BE DRAGONS, Book One in my new trilogy: THE SNOWDONIA CHRONICLES!

HERE BE DRAGONS is a story about Snowdonia, myth and magic and first love and is book one in the first trilogy I’ve ever written!

In this blog post, I am going to interview myself about the process of writing HERE BE DRAGONS. So far I have covered:

  1. The Hook
  2. The Inciting Incident
  3. The First Turning Point – of the story.

So what are we going to look at today, Sarah?

Today we are going to look at the Point of No Return. We have reached Camp 2 on our ascent of Everest (I am comparing writing this book to an attempt to climb the greatest mountain in the world – partly because you need some of the same qualities: stamina, resilience, a map, a guide, helpers etc and also because I count writing HERE BE DRAGONS as one of my greatest achievements and the fulfilment of a life-long goal: to write a fantasy and a love story).

So here we are at Camp 2 6400 m / 21000 ft.

image001

“After an endless, slow march through the silent valley, you reach at last a rocky patch, at the foot of the icy Lhotse wall. This marks camp 2. This place is absolutely stunning. Clouds roll in from the lower ranges of the Himalaya, up the valley and into the camp. While acclimatizing, we spend time looking for cool old climbing gear; left here by all of Everest’s climbing history. This is also the last chance to get a decent, prepared meal. We eat all we are handed because soon we´ll be surviving on instants only.”

Ok, Sarah, you mention that writing HERE BE DRAGONS is fulfilling a life long goal – can you expand?

Yes HERE BE DRAGONS is really THE kind of book that I’ve always wanted to write. It’s the kind of book I wanted to read too as a teen (still do)! Falling in love on a mountain with magical things happening – both in terms of that growing up process and in terms of the actual mountain steeped in myth and magic!

image002

And, of course, with the myths of the dragons that live under Dinas Emrys and the fact that at one time Snowdon was called the mountain of King Arthur – and Merlin is associated with it and all of those magical creatures like the Tylwyth Teg – and the Mabinogion – absolutely fascinating, deep and rich history, rich culture. What’s not to love!

image003

Great. So now back to how you wrote your book?

So I thought I’d structure my book along the classic three-act structure. AND I would also structure my blog tour along those lines – and explain in each post how HERE BE DRAGONS was mapped using that structure and how the book, itself, then began to take form. I kind of liked that idea.

Just bring us up to speed on why you are following the Three-Act Structure?

Because in a film script book that I first used to help me to understand how to structure a story (my Bible: Teach Yourself Screenwriting by Ray Frensham) he drew a little picture of a story mountain. I love mountains. There are mountains all over the place in my book, obviously.

image005

So today I’m going to talk about the midway point in HERE BE DRAGONS, or what is called The Point Of No Return, in the three-act structure. As anyone who has studied the structure knows, this is the point at which the story is balanced on the midpoint, on the fulcrum.

For our main character, the protagonist, it is a decision to go forward and to face the things ahead – because the distance ahead is as long or as short as the distance behind – or to retreat into the self and refuse The Call to Adventure, and then basically we have no story!

image008

So it’s a choice for the protagonist and it should be marked by some kind of deep inner choice and it’s also a growth point, in which the hunted must become the hunter, or the captive must escape and seek freedom. At this point, even though it may not be marked by a BIG scene there must be some deep emotional commitment to the future. So I got to thinking about how I could give my story a resonance. I needed something to help Ellie think deeply about what she was getting into. So I decided I’d use a reveal, a reveal that perhaps has been foreshadowed in the first half of the story – but when it is revealed – it has that: oh yes! I knew that was coming! But I didn’t guess it was coming in that way!

Oh this is fascinating, Sarah, so tell! Tell!

Well I did include a BIG reveal at The Point of No Return – but of course I’d be spoiling it if I told you what the reveal was! But it needed to be a reveal by the main character or about one or other of the main characters – that she was deeply involved with, and it needed to be a reveal that was a complete game changer.

Ok, if you can’t tell us what the reveal is – can you tell us how you did it?

It’s kind of difficult in writing to do a reveal – because most of it is going to be in conversation – whilst it is action on the page: i.e. showing not telling, it can also be misused or abused as a vehicle for dumping exposition. The reader will pretty soon get tired of reading a conversation in which they are being retold things they already know. It also runs the risk of feeling stilted, if two characters are talking at each other rather than with each other.

Oh, and good conversation should probably be terse, short and oblique. So this was going to be a real challenge. How was I going to set up this conversation? How was I going to make sure that the characters in this conversation didn’t walk away from the conversation? How was I to be sure that they would be ‘in character’ and yet at the same time create a reveal that would be a midway point? How was I going to infer that the Point of No Return had been reached and passed and that now my heroine was committed to a course of action from which she has no escape? How can she exit from that conversation? (put in some cute pics of magic-ish Mabinogion characters in love 🙂 )

image009

So how did you?

 Well, I reset it in the same place as she had originally been captive in – and captivated by her love interest (Henry) so no walking away from the reveal. I worked very hard on voice and I had lots of distractions going on in the scene – lashings of angst and jeopardy – and I crossed my fingers that it worked! Here’s an excerpt for you to judge.

“‘There is so much you don’t know,’ Henry sighed.

‘Better tell me, then’ I said. There was no way he was going to fob me off with any not-now-maybe-later excuses.

He shuffled his feet, as if he didn’t want to tell me anything, as if we could all somehow stay here, inside Halfway House, and ignore everything outside forever. ‘Will you promise me something first, Ellie?’ he said.

‘No deal,’ I said nearly giving in to those huge liquid eyes. ‘Start talking.’

‘Better tell her, old boy,’ said George. ‘She has a way of getting what she wants.’

‘And why are you here?’ I snapped at George. He wasn’t going to escape from question time either.

‘Just checking you arrived safely,’ said George, with a butter-wouldn’t-melt expression plastered all over his cute face.

‘I just don’t know where to start,’ said Henry, leaning his chin on his hand.

‘Try the beginning,’ I said tartly.

‘Ok,’ said Henry, his eyes suddenly sad, as if the whole world was about to end. He took in a deep breath and bit his lip – opened his beautiful mouth – and said nothing.

‘Right,’ I said, because I wasn’t going to have any of that. ‘Do you know why there’s a dragon outside?’

Henry nodded.

George struggled to pat his shoulder encouragingly.

‘Well?’ I demanded.

‘It’s a long story …’

‘We’ve got all night.’ I said, narrowing up my eyes and plonking myself down on a log.

‘If only you would promise…’ he started.

‘Go on,’ said George. ‘Can’t be that bad.’

‘You. Be. Quiet,’ I snapped to George. You shouldn’t be here, and you went up against a dragon with your second-best axe, which in my books makes you totally psychiatrically certifiable.’”

image011

Any other things you did, or like doing as you are writing, Sarah?

When I am writing, I really love playing around with metaphor and with opposites and juxtaposing ideas. For example the idea of being held captive by the snow, being held captive by love, by events escalating, snow falling – you get the idea.

At the end of that end of my Point of No Return reveal scene, that turning-point conversation, there is another great scene in which she sees things from above, she gets to see the big picture, she is freed from what happened before in a really important way and able to make a decision not to allow events to ‘happen TO her’ any more – but to now take charge and control events as best she can. It was a scene, I had to re-write many, many times in order to get all of those points in (I wanted to capture the feeling in pic below) – and I would be interested to receive feedback from anyone after they have read HERE BE DRAGONS – to see if I got all that right!! Fingers crossed!

image013

Okay, better go before I do a spoiler! Bye for now, see you at blog post five: The Darkest Hour – with The Perks of Being a Book Girl!

Thank you once again for having me Chelley

XXX Sarah


About Sarah Mussi

S8B1705_short21

Sarah Mussi is an award-winning author of children’s and young adults’ fiction. Her first novel, The Door of No Return, won the Glen Dimplex Children’s Book Award and was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award. Her second novel, The Last of the Warrior Kings, was shortlisted for the Lewisham Book Award, inspired a London Walk, and is used as a textbook in Lewisham schools. Her thriller, Siege, was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal (2014) and won the BBUKYA award for contemporary YA fiction. Her thriller, Riot, was longlisted for The Amazing Book Award and shortlisted for The Lancashire Schools Award. Her most recent novel, Bomb, was published in 2015 by Hodder Children’s Books. Sarah was born and raised in the Cotswolds, attended Pate’s Grammar School for Girls, and graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Winchester School of Art and an MA from the Royal College of Art. She spent over fifteen years in West Africa as a teacher and now teaches English in Lewisham, where she is also the current Chair of CWISL (Children’s Writers and Illustrators in South London).

Find out more about Sarah on her website – www.sarahmussi.com

Or why not follow Sarah on twitter using – @sarahmussi

You can buy Sarah’s books here

Here Be Dragons is now showcased by The People’s Book Prize. VOTE for HBD here: http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=1332

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Giveaway

TO BE IN WITH A CHANCE OF WINNING A COPY OF HERE BE DRAGONS, ANSWER THIS QUESTION:

WHO IS ELLIE’S BEST FRIEND?

THE ANSWER CAN BE FOUND BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK:

HTTPS://WWW.V-PUBLISHING.CO.UK/BOOKS/CATEGORIES/FICTION/HERE-BE-DRAGONS.HTML.

EMAIL YOUR ANSWER TO INFO@V-PUBLISHING.CO.UK AND ONE WINNER WILL BE PICKED AT RANDOM EACH WEEK OF SARAH’S BLOG TOUR.


A huge huge thank you to Sarah for the fab guest post and to Lorna at Vertebrate Publishing for organising the tour!  Here Be Dragons sounds AMAZING!  I can’t wait!

You can catch up or follow the rest of the blog tour here!

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Have you read Here Be Dragons?  What did you think?  Will you be picking up a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

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