Book Jacket

 

rank  Editors Pick
word count 43770
date submitted 01.12.2011
date updated 01.04.2014
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Fantasy, Horror
classification: moderate
incomplete

The Angel Chord

Derek Tobin

Supernatural thriller: three strangers stumble into an End of Days demonic plot and discover that atheistic, hooker-using and guitar-playing angels are the world's only hope.

 

Three strangers (from contemporary Glasgow, London and Los Angeles) collide as they travel to a mysterious gathering in Los Angeles which they are suddenly forced to attend. As the real world unravels around them, they discover the truth about angels and demons and how they exert their influence on earth.

Upon his deathbed, Floyd Jackson imparts a secret to his eighteen-year-old grandson Sandy. He tells the boy the hidden truth about angels and demons. Floyd explains the three things Sandy need know about angels: they don’t have halos, they don’t have wings, but they do play harps - or at least they used to - in modern times replaced by guitars.

This is the one truth, hiding in plain sight in every holy book (whatever flavour) ever written. But a guitar in an Angel's hands is a weapon - a means of harnessing it's icon. Floyd knows this because he himself was a demon host, and, now repentent, asks his atheistic grandson to wash clean the stain he placed upon their family. But can an atheist become an angel? And if so, can he harness an icon with enough power to stop the End of Days?

 
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tags

angels, demons, fantasy, guitars, music, mystery, paranormal, religion, supernatural, thriller

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The Making of Leo Hendam

Bill Merchant headed south out of Los Angeles to Point Fermin. His pickup hugged the coastline for a time before banking east to Santa Ana and continuing toward lake Elsinore. The loose shovel and pick rattled every now and then in the flatbed of his truck and punctuated the silence that had fallen between himself and Jackie; reminding them of their purpose. The California sun glinted off the lakes mirror surface as they both inwardly struggled with what they were driving towards.

     Leo had always loved the lake and, having grown up in Santa Ana, had spent every summer of his youth on its shore. He and Jackie had spent as many summer weeks there as they could crowbar between tours, recording and promo work. Within two years of his death, Jackie had sold the lakehouse it had been Leo’s boyhood dream to own, along with the speedboat moored at its jetty.

     Fairhills cemetery was run by Jim Buchanan. A man who’d seen so much death, that he knew what life was really all about. The kind of man who would never ask his friends: what’s in it for me? His family had been charged with the graveyards care for five generations. Accordingly, he too had spent his youth on the shores of the lake, mostly in the company of his childhood best friend…Leo Hendam.

     Despite not hearing from Leo since his family moved to L.A. when he was seventeen, there was never any question as to whether he would meet the requests in Leo’s will. As boys they had wandered the graveyard, reading the headstones and daring each other to enter the crypts alone. And so it was that one day Jim, Leo and Bernie, another pal of equal best friend standing, mulled through the marble laden grass of Fairhills in the summer of 1981.

     The topic that day was whether Leo should dump his girlfriend of three weeks, Jane Ryan for one Vivienne Daniels who would it seemed, be far more willing to let his hand inside her bra having invested a full three weeks in her. By all accounts Vivienne would probably not be wearing a bra anyway, her friendliness to the opposite sex having cemented her nickname, merely her own initials, V.D. Bernie, being a man of the world, an ancient fourteen and a half years old and therefore six whole months older than Jim and Leo, was laying it on pretty thick in his best girlie voice “Leo you know you want me, you know you want V.D. come and get it, come and get VeeeeDeeee.”

     Jim, in an effort to hide the fact he didn’t really know what V.D. was, laughed away at Bernie’s ribbing.

     Leo shrugged it off smiling. “You guys are such pussies, just cause I got to beat them off with a shittie stick. By the way Bernie your mom doesn’t really sound like that.” Jim shrieked even louder as Bernie struggled to find a quick retort. They had just reached the Dryden Lair -- a definite no-go no-dare crypt -- which housed the corpses of the exposed corrupt chief of police Andrew Dryden and his wife Elizabeth.

     It was a medium-sized black cube crypt that seemed to have been hewn from a single block of stone. Its odd seamless render would have been spooky enough even without its infamous occupants, but what made it worse was that despite Jim’s father’s best efforts, the grass immediately surrounding it was yellowed and brown in stark contrast to the well kept green lawns of every one of its neighbours.

     Jim, being a font of knowledge of all things juicy in the cemetery, which was after all his backyard, had told them on more than one occasion who was buried here. Andrew Dryden was a one-man-show of why police needed to develop Internal Affairs departments. He was as dirty a cop as any department has ever known and having sprinted up the ladder from one plum job to the next, quickly outranked any colleague who might question his methods. He began with the simple enticements that small time criminals threw his way as a beat cop and soon learned it could pay well to look the other way. By the time he’d made lieutenant there was a regular flow of bribes running straight to his door. Early in the game though, he saw the limitations of hush money. Silence was only valuable if you knew the dirt and he was too damn lazy to go out and dig it up. So, Dryden recruited a few like minded officers and moved into the rent a cop business.

     For a negotiable fee the organised crime families could get their own blue-light escort to and from meets, even rid themselves of their competitors. All they need do was pay more than the competitor and provide a where and when for a bust. Hell by the time he made chief half the collars his team made were at the behest of a paying customer.

     He’d turned the police into whores and he was the pimp, but his hookers were high class and didn’t work cheap. Before long, his whole department was drowning in a river of dirty money. Those few honest cops, who tried to get to high ground and keep their feet dry, found themselves on shit-detail or worse. Not a few clean officers died, because Dryden sent them to a bad beat with no backup and a waiting crew supplied by one of his customers; the door swung both ways.

     The bitch of it was he never got caught for a murder rap, or with his hand in the cookie jar. In the end after all the shit he’d wallowed in, he finally burned because his wife found out he’d been trading blow jobs for get-out-of-jail-free cards with whatever hookers he had in the cells each day. The oldest reason there is and hell had no fury, she stabbed him in the neck while he bathed. Rumour was he was cleaning that day’s whore’s lipstick off his dick at the time. In the note she left she never gave any details just called him out for cheating and wife beating, signed it then seen to her own self with a bottle of pills. The one blessing was they’d never had kids.

     The inquiry was helmed by out of state cops because of the conflict of interest and as they trawled his personal accounts named and unnamed, they churned up a shit storm in their wake. One anomaly led to another and before they were through he’d been implicated in more crimes than he’d made busts in a thirty year career. The Elsinore Echo -- the local rag -- ran with the headline that the only thing they were relatively sure he hadn’t done was kill Kennedy and they couldn’t be certain of that. 

     The investigators ruled that Elizabeth, his wife, had killed him. But that was too neat for anyone who knew him. They couldn’t see past the death at the hands of someone he’d burned or tried to squeeze too hard, with his wife just a pawn to secure checkmate. The inquiry rolled on for months and more than one witness fell down an elevator shaft -- only to land on some bullets. Less cops burned than should have, but that’s life in the big city.

     As any man playing both sides knows, death is always just one knock of the door away.  He’d written a will. Ironically he left everything to his wife, but he made one request -- to be buried with his police badge; true blue to the end some would say. Accordingly the funeral director had placed it in his breast pocket. Needless to say, his coffin was not flag draped.

     However, once in the crypt his brother in law, being the only true family the couple had, requested a moment alone before closing. He opened the coffin, took the badge from his pocket and threw it to the floor closing the lid with a bang and grinding the badge into the dust beneath his foot. He touched his sister’s coffin and walked out, spitting in the direction of the chiefs en route.

     It would be thirty years later before anyone would enter that crypt, when a fourteen-year-old Leo Hendam, in response to goading from his pal Bernie, along the lines of “You’re the pussy V.D. boy” feigned his intention to enter. With no real plan of going anywhere, Leo pushed on the vault door, fully expecting it to protest and deny him entry. With one touch it gave, with only thirty years of dust and cobwebs offering any resistance . . . the lock was broken.

     There was no creak from oil parched hinge; it merely moved inward, silently allowing the darkness within to greet the yellowed grass gathering at the threshold. Leo’s hand recoiled from the moving door as if it were a hot stove. Bernie, also spooked by the sudden access, tried to hide his shock by nervously laughing and deflecting onto Leo. 

     “Ha -- check the pussy now.

     Jim, although no stranger to mausoleums, was also visibly shaken. “Lets go, guys I’ll need to tell dad.

     “Wait…why’s it open, Jim?”

     Jim shrugged but thought to a conversation he’d overheard between his parents. His dad had been telling his mum how he’d moved on a vagrant who’d been sleeping rough in the grounds. Having filled in his buddies, Leo moved a cautious hand to the door. Inspection of the lock showed it had been prized and the bolt was jammed in the barrel. Leo pushed it open further and a triangle of daylight swept across the floor. All three boys were now at the threshold scanning the shadows of the chamber.

     “Let’s go, guys.” Jim repeated.

     But Leo had clocked that the now notably less cocky Bernie, had turned quite pale, so said. “Let’s see -- who’s the pussy now?” Raising his hands towards Bernie Frankenstein style, he said “Boo! -- I’ll go first.

     With that, Leo stepped inside, but, as he did so a cobweb brushed across his face. He panicked at its touch in the darkness and spun round, clumsily knocking into the door, which closed with a palpable click -- like a light switch turning off the sun. A tide of darkness swept over Leo as he fumbled for a non-existent door handle and in an instant he was every inch the fourteen-year-old boy again…he screamed. “Jim open the door…push it!

     Through the thick slab of mahogany he could hear a muffled reply straining through the wood as if from another continent. “It won’t move, Leo…the locks jammed shut.

     Then from farther still, he heard Bernie’s voice telling Jim to move. Then a dull thud on the door which gave him no new hope, it never gave even a millimetre to Bernie’s kick. Then, the words he dreaded came. “Leo…I need to go and get dad.

     “Don’t leave me in here, Jim.

     Then Bernie again, saying “I’m staying right here, Leo -- we’ll have this door opened in jig-time -- just talk to me.”

     It was an empty reassurance and Leo felt terror and panic in equal measures crash over him. This wave subsided leaving only a tight knot in the pit of his stomach and an awareness that he was holding his breath. His hand slid down the cold door in quiet submission and realising Jim’s father’s help was inevitable he slowly turned his back to it and faced the chamber.

     For an eternal few seconds Leo stood, eyes closed, inhaling a slow deep dusty breath. He followed it with a controlled, panic purging exhalation. Opening his eyes he realized his vision was improving; his iris dilating to squeeze the most out of the available 0.0001 foot candles of light trickling under the sepulchre door. Dark stone walls emerged from the blackness and he could now trace the shadowy outlines of the vault.  

     “Leo, Jim won’t be long…well still make the movies and you still owe me a hotdog.

     They had planned to see the new release that night, some adventure film called Raiders of the Lost Ark. Ironically Indiana Jones would have been the very man to help in this situation.  

Bernie’s voice seeped under the door again. “What time does the film start, Leo?”

     Leo never answered, but instinctively checked the time on his Casio, depressing the light button 17:05, only then remembering that this light existed. His watch was the latest thing, something called digital technology. And its relative expense, along with the fact his birthday fell on the 18th of December, had meant it was a combined Christmas and birthday present. 

     He held in the light button and scoured the ground immediately at his feet. It illuminated a small pool of some half-foot circumference of floor space. Within its dim radius he could discern tiny fragments of gravel on the floor. He panned left and right, hand on watch, like Mr Spock scanning a planets surface. His Tricorder brought him no good news. Dust on all sides stepped up to meet his feet as a battery-powered pale dawn broke on his addidas kick sneakers. In the corner where he stood, he found a cigarette butt. It wasn’t yet coated in dust and Leo figured someone had stood there recently and had a smoke. But only one. Whoever it was -- most likely this vagrant -- they had not lingered long to shelter in this place, for whatever reason. Anyway, light or not, he wasn’t about to walk the perimeter of this chamber. Not because he didn’t know what he might find, but rather because he did.

     “Leo -- what time does it start?”

     “I don’t --” and somewhere between deciding whether to say know or care, he spotted a small bump on the dusty floors horizon. Seven foot away from the doors safe harbour it lay, anomalous on the contour of the stone floor. Out of range of his watch light yet still discernable, perhaps less black than the blackness it lay in. As he strained to focus, Leo could have sworn he saw the subtlest glow emanate from it, like the embers from a lump of coal; inviting him to leave his harbour and investigate.

     He depressed his watch light and took one step forwards, his foot tapping the floor in front, testing it like a blind man’s stick as if expecting quicksand. His back no longer comforted by the doors touch, he immediately felt vulnerable to the darkness behind him as well as in front. 

     Had the objects glow increased? It must be the watch light, yet still it seemed out of range. Another step, his light forcing the darkness to retreat. A stronger glow? The dark plays tricks on terrified kid’s minds. One more advance into the dark’s embrace and it was at his feet. Leo felt adrift in blackness that seemed to swirl around him, like a thing alive; the door felt a world away.

     He bent down, illuminating the small mound and plucked his prize from its gravel bed. With a shake he liberated the leather wallet from its dusty coat. As he stood up, his light gave form to the shelf in front of him, on which lay the coffin of Andrew Dryden. He stumbled backwards, inviting the blackness to again lay its dark cloak upon this vision. With his back once again safely to the door, he opened the wallet with Bernie’s voice, which now seemed louder, in his ears. 

     “Leo -- are you ok?”

     “I’m fine, Bernie…don’t worry about me.

     “Jim’ll be back any minute mate.

     “No rush, Bernie…its nice in here.” Surprised by his own bravado he smiled to himself as he removed the police badge. Even in the blackness he instinctively moved to the small piece of metal welded onto the rear of the badge; obviously a foreign object, which had no business there. In the darkness, Leo Hendam answered its long unheeded call and stroked it, fanning its flame . . . no longer afraid.

 

Chapters

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HarperCollins Wrote

THE ANGEL CHORD is an enjoyable YA narrative with a unique premise: since the beginning of time, there has always been a great war between God and the Devil – the battle for human souls. In THE ANGEL CHORD each side has seven hosts (champions), each with their own icon – part weapon, part amplifier – through which the world can be influenced and persuaded to good or evil. Our story begins when two young teenagers, Sandy and Liam, are gifted with guitars – icons in modern form – and trained for the coming battle by mysterious strangers. They travel to LA, where an ancient meeting of hosts new and old, the conclave, is held. If they can survive the journey, they must battle each other to the death.

You have a talent for writing. Accessible, sharp, and often witty narrative is punctuated by lively characters and natural dialogue. Liam’s Scottish brogue and foul-mouthed sarcasm is brilliant, while the sinister figure of Stark – a pale skinned, sadistic demon – provides a strong nemesis for our heroes. The premise works well, and I can see the combination of rock music and fantastical battles being a hit with younger YA readers. Action is fast, furious, and just gory enough to make you wince without putting off a younger audience.

I’m going to focus on what you need to do from here on to take THE ANGEL CHORD to the next level – the largely critical focus, I hope, will be taken as a constructive complement and is not intended to be disparaging.

THE ANGEL CHORD’s two biggest problems could both be solved through cutting text. At almost 140,000 words, this novel is too long to be commercially viable – ideally you will want 80-100,000. The second problem is that it’s only from chapter 22 that the story really gets going. Your 40,000 word cut should come from chapters 7, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 21 AND 25. These are all exposition/infodump scenes – a classic pitfall, especially where authors are trying to build a series with its own world and mythology. Clever as many of the insights are, these chapters need to be removed or reduced drastically. There is a great article here on how to ‘make exposition your bitch’: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/08/09/25-ways-to-make-exposition-your-bitch/. Study and apply its insight.

To help the pace of your early story arc, quick edits I would advise are: Chapter 1 upping the ante from the outset with the news describing how a local murderer has the entire Dark Matter discography. Chapter 3 could include friendly/suspicious interaction with Dave and Sandy’s parents – to make their betrayal much more shocking later on – or John introduced here instead of just before he saves Sandy’s life. Chapter 5 can be cut down and folded into the chapter where they arrive at the graveyard. Chapter 8 seems unnecessary – Leo doesn’t seem that important in the grand scheme of things once I reached the end of the novel.

Structurally, Sandy and Liam need a more convincing reason to go to LA than just ‘the old mysterious man/guy who saved my life’ tells them to. For Sandy it’s not too unrealistic, as he has had his life thrown into chaos. However, Liam’s incentives are less convincing, even if he doesn’t have much to stay for. Perhaps Malcolm slips him tickets to a band he loves playing in LA? Or a relative of Liam’s in LA dies, and a funeral is held (possibly the dark forces have bumped the relative off to lure Liam there)?

I love your late twist in which *spoiler alert* it transpires Liam is actually on the side of darkness when we reach the conclave (or so it appears to me) – but there doesn’t seem to be any sign of his mentor, Malcolm, being a sinister figure. If I have this twist correct, then a hint here or there would be great – nothing overt, but enough so that when the penny drops the reader can nod their head wisely and say ‘ah yes, of course, I should have seen this coming!’

You do a great job of showing how icons can influence the battle for souls (I would say your single throwaway line ‘The music told me to do it’ was more effective than all the heaps of historical exposition). It’s less clear how hosts do battle against other hosts with their icons. This means that while the conclave is a fantastic scene – the trial to get there dark and gruesome, and thrilling once the contest starts – the ‘rules’ and the method of battle seem very fuzzy. What it takes to be skilled at the contest, and how Sandy thrashes five opponents, needs to be clearer for the reader to be fully invested in this.

Commercially, the originality of your story gives this novel a USP. However, there needs to be more of a sense of what has been achieved by the end of novel – what specifically is at stake and what still needs be overcome. If this series is to be a battle of the icons between influencing the souls of earth, I would like to have seen both Sandy and Liam more overtly start some kind of musical following, even if it’s a first podcast, or even sitting down to record a single. The standoff at Stark’s manor, when I realised it was going to be the last scene of confrontation until the next book, was ultimately unsatisfying – it lacked grandeur and real tension.

This novel has great publishing potential, and is a story I would be happy to take a second look at if these edits are comprehensively implemented.

DerekTobin wrote 788 days ago

To mark The Angel Chord hitting 200 comments - I've picked a few recent faves. Thanks to all who have read it so far and thanks in advance for those still to have a look and comment. All the best
Derek

"Derek, I have finished all the chapters that you have uploaded. You simply must upload the rest, you can't leave us hanging like this. I love it. Though it deals with angels and demons, you have done it in such an original and fresh way, its a joy to read, and I really want to read more. Hope you upload some more soon. This could easily be a book I had purchased at a book shop."
Gannon

"of books I have read on this site, by far this is one that has captivated my attention so quickly. I have to agree with your other reviewers that this story seems more likely to be found in a bookstore than free to read online."
Sassychick

"I'm backing this book as one with the potential to become a commercially viable,puiblishable commodity with good appeal across a number of demographics"
Michael ranson

"It's a really great idea that angels have upgraded their harps to using guitars and also fascinating that it's a key to using their powers. There is little doubt that the author Derek Tobin is a talented writer as well as storyteller. I've seen more than one book with a great premise fall flat because of lukewarm writing skills, but Tobin has a style that is every bit as good as the plot here. All three of the main characters are highly believable and likeable in their own way. readers could see themselves put into any of their shoes despite the fantastic nature of the story. Some of the personal conflicts are extremely interesting also, like having an atheist suddenly having to become an angel. I dont see many impediments to The angel Chord's success once published, it's pretty much ready to go right now. surely a movie of its own would soon follow."
John Breeden II

"This story is absolutely fantastic. This story is so wonderful that I'm reading it again this morning despite having a lot of work here in my office. Your use and grasp of descriptive words is utterly amazing. This is a really awesome story, do you know?"
Saerawrites

"The Angel Chord definately warrants a place on the Editor's desk. Backed and starred."
Ruth2904

"Hi Derek. What a stunning piece of work. Your imagery is superb and your handling of plot impeccable. I can see why you are sitting so close to the top. Rest assured you have my backing"
Kokako

"One word- fantastic"
Watchmaker.

"This is a really original piece of woirk great style and the writing really pulls you in. I could defiantely see this being published and selling"
PR Furlong

Gannon wrote 791 days ago

I am currently up to chapter 10, and I just had to comment to say that I am loving it. Derek you have done a wonderufl job. The narrative flows along at a nice pace and the suspense is also built up at a nice pace. Interesting and enjoyable characters. Imho this could easily be a book I had purchased at a book shop. Excuse me now I have to get back to it.

Jehmka wrote 815 days ago

The opening scene: I’m peering down into the old man’s cramped living room. The light is uneven and yellow, coming from an old floor lamp near the old man’s lazy-boy, reflecting off the old-fashioned wallpaper. There’s a layer of dust over the top of the TV. I see these details based on those you provided. It seems there’s just enough atmosphere and tone for this to work. The story is moving forward through concise, well-edited narrative. The old man in his basement, building a mysterious guitar (Frank Zappa would’ve likely enjoyed this scene.)

And then onto Jackie and Bill, and the promise of some creepy grave digging. These first two chapters have me convinced that I’d enjoy reading on.

One tiny nit: hair is blond. A woman who has blond hair, is a blonde.

The Angel Chord is highly recommended.
To rate this less than six stars would be wrong.

sassychick wrote 817 days ago

I have a read a view books on this site and by far this is one of the few that has captivated my attention so quickly. I have to agree with your other reviewers that this story seems more likely to be found in a bookstore then online for free to read.
i love the visual you brought to life and the interactions of the characters in the second chapter. the whole novel is very captivating and I am currently backing it.

Well done!

thelace_no1 wrote 289 days ago

Hi Derek,

it seems I'm coming to the party a little late on this one, but just wanted to say i really enjoyed it. Very nice writing and well constructed descriptions made it easy to read.

Dave.

Nik.Vukoja wrote 537 days ago

Having written a poem many years ago called The Devil Plays Bass and also having an ex-musician, the various classic guitars were instantly visible to me, which likely makes this a story I can relate to more? Not sure. I am only adding this point so that you consider that my opinion could be influenced by these two points.

Now, I have not read the lot and I am sure that when (not if) I do, I will love this even more, but I can say with all honesty if this book was on the market, I would buy it without hesitation.

Now for the negative – though there’s not much of it.

I personally dislike stories where I cannot get to know “THE MAN” instantly. By that I mean a name or something which helps me link to him and hold on to him. I have no doubt this will later be explained, but it did frustrate me somewhat. If there is a very good reason why we cannot know his name, fine, leave it. If not, give us something, a nickname – something. And even if he is on his own, he could have shuffled just as easily to a picture of himself, say playing a sport (or instrument), a news clipping or whatever and been referred to in some form. Aside from allowing the reader to commit to him, it would also give some insight into the character.
Again, this may not be possible for reasons further on and if this is the case, please ignore.

The other thing I noticed is you use HAD a-lot. There are many places you can re-work your sentences without using HAD. It’s a small point but an important one because, when you really need it you can use it without the reader thinking HAD HAD HAD…
I think you could also really tighten up some of the passages. Trust your reader, we get it, don’t cross every “T” and dot every “I” give us some credit, and even if we are wrong, so what? To be honest there is nothing better (for me) than to read something and then go “OH! I see…I get it now…”

Sorry about the war-and-peace epic, truth is, I really like it and want to see it published.
Nik.

Tickel wrote 551 days ago

Great review from Harper Collins, well done! Certainly hope they decide to publish it for you. I enjoyed it.

Clark-ee wrote 562 days ago

WOW, what a great review from the guys at Harper Collins. I'm going to have to read this before you pull it off the site to sign your publishing deal!!!

Jim

Scott Toney wrote 564 days ago

Great Review! Congrats!

Kerron Lee wrote 627 days ago

I know this book has been medalled so any comments I make may not count for much. This book is better than good.

Solerebel wrote 629 days ago

Derek man, ure one hell of a writer. Seven Chapters in one go, that's how captivating this is. Taking a break now and I'd continue. This is addictive.

Kerron Lee wrote 630 days ago

I'm just reading angel chord. I do hope it gets published. Hope to finish it soon.

TonyO'Hara wrote 646 days ago

Hi Derek
Great book and easily understandable why it's on the editors desk. Really liked the way the disparate characters stories are woven together in the first few chapters, keeps the reader gripped. Great idea, excellently written. Look forward to seeing it on a bookshelf soon, as it deserves to be.

Tony

Jacqueline Malcolm wrote 648 days ago

Hey Derek - I read the first 2 chapters of the book and I'm already captivated by the story. I normally only read the first chapter but I couldn't leave it hanging. I love the intense stillness of Chapter 1 - I was there with the old man - I could picture his ever move from the drool going down his chin to when he looked over his shoulder to make sure he was still alone. It was so evident that in the stillness there was something key happening for the flow of the story - thus before I knew it I was selecting chapter 2!!! I love the character descriptions and build up - Jackie Hendam is perfectly written and you have some really clever ways of saying how beautifully ugly she actually is - if that makes sense. You've chosen to write a lot in the past sense , ie, "Bryant brushed his palm along his thigh' which gave me a slight impression of not actually being on the journey with them - but thats just personal choice and definitely doesn't take away from the story. (Hope that makes sense). Obviously pointless backing the book at this point so I'm just left to say - can't wait to see it in print!!! Well done - great writing and a beautifully woven story in just the first 2 chapters. Have a great day - Jac :)

E.R. Yatscoff wrote 654 days ago

Okay, read the first three chaps. You're a good writer and editor. I would begin with the 2nd chapter as I found it far more interesting than an old man in a chair. As for the 1st chap. you should restructure it by separating the TV commentary from the old man's movements/reaction. I had a laugh over "...PHD in male manipulation." Good luck.

Velveteve wrote 656 days ago

Hi Derek,

Congratulations on making it to the Editor's Desk. Best of luck with everything.

Aisling

Roy Batty wrote 659 days ago

Hi, I agree with P Eley on the adjectives. Should you get the opportunity with an editor, I hope you do, I think you'll be asked to trim. A neat idea, I wonder who'd you get as the guitarists should you envisage a film? Steve Vai? Joe Satriani? Jack White? Back story for characters is only necessary when that back story influences their MO or impacts on plot, think of introducing those important points during interaction or action or introspection otherwise they become stand alone info paragraphs. I think you have a guitar fetish :) I have a dippy dongle that keeps dropping out. I'll keep reading. Starred and backed. Roy.

Velveteve wrote 659 days ago

If you have more to upload, please upload it. This is my kind of book, very Gaiman in tone, and I would very much like to see how it ends. I will be rating it highly.

Serina Hartwell wrote 659 days ago

Good evening Derek,

I've been reading your book, Angel Chord this week and can see why you have made it to the top five. I particularly liked the way you used description to build a picture. You have deep characters and plenty of twists and turns drawing your readers into your story.

I thought your idea was fresh and new, I've never read anything, or seen any film with a storyline such as yours. You really know your guitars which I found impressive. I believe your book will do well. Thank you for sharing your story.

Serina Hartwell

Elayne wrote 660 days ago

You have to be on your way to publication with this one, look forward to reading more!

Philthy wrote 661 days ago

Isn't it about time The Angel Chord made the desk? :)

Phil
(Deshay of the Woods)

morriss003 wrote 661 days ago

Derek, for the most part, your imagery is outstanding, much better than the average writer. The only one I would question is ,"like jagged shadows piercing an already forgotten dream." That one was difficult to imagine, and that is where your imagery is so good, I can see it as you say it.

C.A. Simonsen wrote 661 days ago

Derek, I finished the available chapters yesterday: you've created a suspenseful, intelligent story. I was a bit worried at one point that The Angel Chord might be a retelling of Crossroads, but it's not. It is original and, at times, heart-stopping. Congratulations on your success. I look forward to reading the conclusion, be it on the site or from a bookstore. Cheers. - C.A. Simonsen

Laurence Howard wrote 662 days ago

I love the premise. Great stuff. Captivating and well written. Deserves all the success.
Backed with pleasure.
Laurence Howard, The Cross of Goa

Jilleigh wrote 663 days ago

I love the revelations in the beginning, it's a nice touch. Fantastic writing here. I'm going to back 'The Angel Chord' and return soon. The pitch grabbed my attention immediately and the first chapter hooked me. Great job, I look forward to the rest.

ibholdvictory wrote 664 days ago

Hi Derek, The Angel Chord will make a great read. It is one of those books that will be timeless. Great writing, very desciptive and informative. Definettly this book is worth reading. Good luck and hope to see it on the shelves and I shall make it one of my best read.

Dont forget to go and check my book.
If only you could tell.

carolecat wrote 664 days ago

I'm backing this book because I thinhk it has major potential and one of the most intriguing plots I've come across in a long while!

patricia mc a wrote 665 days ago

Your storyline is tremendously original and interesting. I like the dense writing and the surprising twists that follow each other rapidly. The only criticism I can offer is to re-edit all those commas and perhaps consider paring down the adjectives. I.e., 'gentle' tap. A tap is gentle by definition. Even 'small,' gold snuff box. How many large snuff boxes are there? The extra adjectives slow the reader from getting to know what's coming next and believe me, with this story, they want to race ahead.

Good luck with this. I almost never read fantasy but yours is compelling. Pat McA, San Diego

Katie Ridley wrote 665 days ago

Derek, for someone so 'not that bothered' about getting published, you have an unarguable, natural talent! This book is contemporary, well written and engaging and you definitely deserve to be in the top 5. I will highly rate and back your book. Well done!
Katie Ridley, 'The Last Message'.

Watchmaker wrote 666 days ago

A brilliant supernatural tale told with style and originality. Glad to see this near the top.

Philip Eley wrote 666 days ago

Great read and a great premise. I have only read chapter one but I may return for more! Two pieces of (hopefully) constructive criticism for you. firstly, I think the angels in the opening revelations quote need to be playing electric guitars, i know it's a quote but you haven't quoted a specific bible version so i'm sure you'd get away with it, if the rest of the book is going to be irreverent why not set the scene in the opening quote. Secondly at times you go adjective crazy! There are 2 or 3 paragraphs in the middle of this chapter where every single noun is preceded by an adjective. Plus one or two adjectives seem particular favourites, e.g 'Cold' 'small' etc. Minor points I know but hopefully worth a mention.

patio wrote 666 days ago

I'm back for more of your fabulous book

August74 wrote 666 days ago

Fantastic. Reminded me a bit of Neil Gaiman - not the style which is all yours, but the wonderfully irreverent way you depict your world. I'm going to read more. I hope this gets published. It deserves to be.

Bea Sinclair wrote 667 days ago

Original, and very well written. Deserving of a place on the ED yours Bea

Spear of Destiny wrote 668 days ago

Awesome opening. I need to crack on with this if there will only be another 12 days of it on the site. The rest of the books on my shelf will have to wait.

stearn37 wrote 669 days ago

Superb very well written.

From
John Stearn (Author of Derilium)

SnugglePuggle wrote 670 days ago

Hello Derek,
You sent me a private message just a few days ago. Even though I love supernatural thrillers, I am not really into the old angel and demon times. I'm more of vampire and werewolf times, thats what my book is about. I am slowly but surely getting to everyone's message and I read the first Chapter of your book. It's interesting, and the old man has a different character than I'm used to seeing. I will put it on my shelf for now so you can keep up your Top 5 rating. And I would love it if you could give me feedback on "Anything but Serenity." Thank you! -Lauren

SnugglePuggle wrote 670 days ago

Hello Derek,
You sent me a private message just a few days ago. Even though I love supernatural thrillers, I am not really into the old angel and demon times. I'm more of vampire and werewolf times, thats what my book is about. I am slowly but surely getting to everyone's message and I read the first Chapter of your book. It's interesting, and the old man has a different character than I'm used to seeing. I will put it on my shelf for now so you can keep up your Top 5 rating. And I would love it if you could give me feedback on "Anything but Serenity." Thank you! -Lauren

sayla wrote 670 days ago

Just finished chapter 5 - rated and backed.

Any comments, rating and/or backing are of course welcome - http://www.authonomy.com/books/44865/said-the-spider/

sayla wrote 671 days ago

added to watchlist - read the first chapter, will read more...

Philthy wrote 674 days ago

Hi Derek,
So sorry I missed giving you a read/review of Angel Chord. I’m not sure how I did that as this is one I’d surely look forward to reading. Anyway, below are my findings/comments. They are of course my humblest opinions and should be taken for whatever they’re worth. Feel free to disregard what you disagree with.
Chapter One
I get why you have a comma after “armchair,” but I don’t agree with its effectiveness. Grammatically, it’s a stretch, and it seems like a blatant insertion for a pause that it serves more as a distraction. Why is it needed? The sentence is just as strong without. It seems like a borderline gimmick to me, if I’m being honest. That said, minus that small thing, this is an excellent opening-line hook.
“brightly lit” should be hyphenated in this case
“sound immediately damaging the calm of the room” I’m not sure “damaging” is an effective word here. Can calm be damaged? Damage implies destruction to whatever degree. It seems like there is a range of calm, to which end it becomes a subjective term. Calm, or in the case you’re using it “silence,” is also the absence of sound, in which case it cannot be damaged, but replaced. Or, saying the room was filled or even saturated by the ripping guitar chords might be more appropriate. Just something to think on.
Watch the “ly” adverbs, or just simply overusing adverbs. “fully wakeful” and “instantly alert”—the fully and instantly are unnecessary. The context infers that the MC is alert instantly (as opposed to gradually), and the fact that you add that after the “wakeful” part implies that he is “fully” awake, so you really only need to say that he was awake and alert. Or, even better, you could show the reader this rather than telling him/her about it.
What is a jagged shadow? I’m not seeing this image. A strong image should be simple and easy to see so that the reader does not have to think about it much. It should enhance the story, not distract.
I’m curious, if the TV is reporting the news to “no one,” why is it so important to describe what’s on it in such detail? Or is this meant to be omniscient foreshadowing?
Might want to take a look at your use of some of the punctuation—especially semicolons. They’re not always used correctly. Semicolons are generally used to separate connecting, but distinct independent clauses. They are also commonly used in lists following a colon. “…the notes that had poured sharply into his room, like jagged shadows piercing an already forgotten (already forgotten should be hyphenated, btw) dream” is not an independent clause. Therefore, the separation should be a comma, not a semicolon. Another example: “He turned to the window; staring out at nothing…” Staring out at nothing is a subordinate clause, not an independent one, so a semicolon is not appropriate here. A coma is the correct punctuation.
Read the next chapter, as well, and I have to say, I love your writing style. This story is intriguing and unique and you’re a master at telling it. My biggest suggestions are common things, but I’ve noted some examples above. The punctuation ought to be cleaned up, but that’s just editing. Also, be careful with your imagery. Some of it is fantastic. Some of it is peculiar and can serve as a stumbling block for the reader on occasion. But those are small things, really. I’ll gladly give this some support on my shelf this month as you push to stay on the desk. I’d be interested in reading HC’s thoughts on it, as it seems very publishable (not that I know much about the publishing world).
Best of luck!
Phil
(Deshay of the Woods)

Sara Walker wrote 675 days ago

I love the fresh take on angels and music. I'm put in mind of a darker version of Emma Bull's WAR FOR THE OAKS.

The writing is well done, though do watch the adverbs. There are at least 4 in the second paragraph and not all are necessary. "Although now fully awake and instantly alert" would work better as "Now awake and alert".

I love the three POVs converging towards the story, but I would like a greater sense of that main story within the first few chapters. From the description it sounds like we are getting mainly 18 year old Sandy's POV, so I was confused when that was not the case. I think I'd also like a greater sense of what's at stake (i.e. stopping the End of Days) from at least one character right from the beginning.

I love the male-centric POV. There's not enough of that in urban fantasy. But I would like to see the story more woman-friendly. Maybe Jackie could have a better motivation than simply being a man-hater? Also, I'd like a stronger sense of all the characters internal goal/motivation/conflict.

Best of luck with it!

Thomas Finn wrote 676 days ago

I really like your work. It is original, observant and a little zany. Brilliant!

Paul Dyer wrote 677 days ago

This is a thoroughly engaging and well-written work and though the supernatural elements haven’t kicked in, yet, as far as I’ve read, the build-up has all the quality and promise of a good X-Files episode; and that, from me, is high praise. I love the three interwoven stories and can’t wait to see where it goes. I want this to be available in the iBook store and on Kindle, so I can pay for something that seems too good for anyone to be reading it for free. I have so many things to read, I have to apologize for breaking off. But “The Angel Chord”—perhaps reminiscent of Scriabin’s “Prometheus (or mystic) chord” (C-F#-Bb-E-A-D) or of Strauss’s “Elektra Chord” (C#-E#-G#-Db-F-Ab)—will remain on my list of works I’ve met on Authonomy to which I will assuredly return at my leisure.

Cassandre wrote 678 days ago

Derek,
I can hardly say anything that hasn't already been said about this book. Your pitch is perfect. You have a unique and interesting premise. Your writing flows very well. I wanted more chapters than you gave! It is on a well deserved trip to the Editor's Desk!
I am delighted to back this book.
All the best.
Cass
Midnight Radio

Lizzie Cooper wrote 678 days ago

It has been a long time since I've read a thriller sci fi book that has captivated my interest the way your story has. Your first paragraph may be THE BEST opening I've read thus far. Can't wait to find out the damage this old man can do! And replace harps with guitars- simply brilliant.

ismene wrote 679 days ago

A very original idea, and you have built up the tension well. I have read the first 3 chapters and they do draw one in. Your characters are very strong and their situations intriguing. Just one thing - when I read your longer pitch I felt confused by it and may not have continued - that may just be because it is not my usual read and I mentally 'switched off'. I am glad I did look further though as I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
Good luck.

Bea Sinclair wrote 681 days ago

An enthralling story so far. I have awarded high stars and put "The Angel Chord" on my watchlist but you will probably be on the ED before I have space to add to my shelf. however I will keep an eye on this.Yours Bea

ELAdams wrote 681 days ago

Read the first couple of chapters and commented a while ago, but seeing you're so close to the ED made me decide to come back for more! I've now read all 24 chapters and, safe to say, this is the kind of book I could see making it to publication. The idea is unique, fascinating and marketable to a range of audiences, and the writing style is pacy and gripping. You have a great setup for a superb thriller here and I look forward to buying it when it's published! Best of luck with the ED!
Emma

Jordan Lees wrote 681 days ago

This is such a fresh, enigmatic and unique idea that I can really see this making it all the way- I can imagine picking it up in a book-store. It takes an age-old idea of angels and demons and manages to make it fresh and captivating, as though you were the first person to ever write about anything like it, which takes a special kind of story-teller.

I haven't read as much as I would like to, but its on my watchlist because I certainly plan to keep going.

I can't think of any constructive criticism to give you on the opening chapters- your writing is flawless and carries the reader through with consummate ease. You have a rare quality that separates the best writers from the rest, and its the ability to have completely your own style and voice and yet hook readers and carry them through the story as though they were telling it themselves.

I really hope this makes it to the ED, and I have every faith that it will.

All the best,

Jordan.

C.A. Simonsen wrote 682 days ago

Derek, I'm new to the site and see by your ranking that you're not in need my rating, but I've got your book on my shelf and I promise to read more of it, as time permits. Gripping first couple of chapters. Your story is easy to picture, and I congratulate you on your success.
- C.A. Simonsen

JCS87 wrote 682 days ago

Um...I feel as if I have been sitting in the dark voluntarily! Your book is awesome :) Yup, going on my shelf, and highly rated! Good luck hun!

Amy Smith wrote 684 days ago

Having read all 24 chapters that you have uploaded, i was completely won over.
The Angel Chord has a wonderful unique premise which captivated me immediately.
The cast of characters are all well developed and very believeable and despite all the changes in perspective i never found myself being confused by the altering perspectives. None of them felt rushed or thrown together and nothing nothing irrelevant was included in the prose. It felt like every word was essential for the readers' understanding of the story. The changes in perspective built a sense of drama and intrigue and the length of the chapters ensured the pace was kept fast and gripping.
The prose is polished and the dialogue is crisp. Also although, although there are cliffhangers this device is never overused which is very refreshing.
My only criticism is that Liam's character has a scotish accent in some chapters and not in others which takes away from the continuity of the novel and the believeability of the character.
This aside, this a brilliant manuscript and its easy to see why it is heading for a spot on the editors' desk at the end of the month.
Congratulations on a great job.
I sincerely wish you the best of luck getting this published.
Highly starred and backed,
Amy :)

pittz wrote 685 days ago

I have to agree with Antonius' comments, and only have one to add of my own. It would be easier to follow the story if it was written in the first person present tense.
'The old man sleeps in his favorite armchair for the last time. In the corner his TV reports the news to no one.' Just reads easier imo. Hope this helps.