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

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

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Fairhills Cemetery


     A quarter-century after Leo Hendam had stepped into that crypt; Bill Merchant swung his Ford pickup onto the entrance drive to Fairhills cemetery. On her mobile, Jackie was relating to someone called Jim that they’d arrived and would see him momentarily. Under Jim’s tenure the graveyard had been well looked after. Bill knew his way around a garden better than most, but would gladly concede that whoever manicured these grounds proved him a novice. Flowerbeds and shrubs flourished everywhere as if in defiance of the omnipresence of death.

     “What have you told this guy, Jackie?”

     She was still fidgeting nervously with her hair. “Just follow my lead, Bill.

     The crematorium perched on the crest of the hill; a soothing cream sandstone structure, with a small memorial chapel. The chapel was separated from the main building by a path adorned with plaques and markers denoting the passed. Jim Buchanan stepped from the shade of the crematorium entrance. Jackie, although she’d only met him once, could see he was tired and greyer round the temples than she recalled and was decorating his face with glasses these days.

     Bill’s parking brake grated out a ratchet sound and he placed a hand on Jackie’s knee. “It’s not too late to forget about this, Jackie, maybe I could help out with cash. I’ve got steady work these days…

     She raised her hand and put a finger to his lips. “You’re a good friend to me, Bill Merchant and I thank you for that. 

     Jim, who had approached the car, opened Jackie’s door. She stepped out and greeted him with a kiss on the cheek. “Nice to see you again, Jacqueline,” Jim offered his hand to Bill who took it and Jim then placed his other hand over the top of Bills, clasping it between both his hands. It was a gesture of comfort which he’d offered to so many over the years that he now habitually shook hands in that fashion. Bill, his hand released, smiled and put it onto Jim’s shoulder. “So you were pals with Leo, Jim?

     “That’s right, Bill, we grew up together. Pretty much inseparable…right up till he moved to L.A.

     “When was the last time you saw Leo before he passed, Jim?”

     Jim paused in contemplation and then said. “The last time I saw Leo, was in the summer of 1981.

     Jackie, still fiddling with her hair, said “1981, but he didn’t leave till eighty-four, Jim.

     Jim just smiled at her and nodded as he showed them through to his office in the crematorium. En route he stopped to check the oil level in a small red sanctuary lamp burning in an alcove in the sandstone. It was a perpetual-light which he had tended since childhood.

     In the office Jim sat, hands clasped in his lap, steel rimmed spectacles hanging sagely from the bridge of his nose. “So, Jacqueline what’s all this about and please don’t give me that story about a lock of his hair to check if he’s the father of a groupie’s child?  I know I come from a small town Jacqueline but in every small town at least two people have some smarts. Here in Santa Ana there’s me and Earl,” He pointed out a picture in a vast photo mosaic on his wall of an unshaven man wearing a Simpson’s T-shirt and holding a tiny fish aloft -- obviously proud of his catch. What can I tell you? I lucked out.

     Jackie was caught completely off guard and as she fumbled the ball, Jim offered to fill in the gaps. “It’s the guitar isn’t it, Jacqueline, you want the guitar. I’ve tucked a lot of things in boxes with their owners over the years but never a damn guitar. You see I could’ve understood it if he was Egyptian and needed it for his journey to the afterlife but Leo was no more Egyptian than Bill here is Chinese.

     “It’s not the guitar, Jim…”

     Jim stopped her in mid flow. “Jacqueline…I saw the guitar bag in the car door when I opened it for you.”

     Defeated, Jackie looked at her feet and admitted. “It’s the guitar, Jim” Swallowing her shame at her lies and at what now needed to be said. “I need to sell it, Jim…I’m losing the house…Leo would’ve wanted me to….

     Jim, feeling a bit ashamed at his lack of tact, a quality he prided himself on, took her hand across the table. “It’s ok, Jacqueline, I understand.” His posture, tone of voice and facial expression, were all honed to perfection; the man was a walking shrine to empathy. “Why don’t we walk down to the graveside together just now? It’s too early to exhume, there will still be visitors in the grounds.

     It was as if his words had banished gravity and Bill felt his shoulders drop like a large weight had been lifted. This guy ran the place and if anyone could help them do what needed done and avoid jail time, it was clearly Jim.

     They stepped back into the California sunshine and followed Jims lead through a neighbourhood he knew all too well. There were no fallen headstones or overturned statues on his beat. He allowed himself a quiet smile as they passed the Dryden Crypt, so benign in the sunshine, with the grass so lush and green around its circumference.

     As they walked, Bill felt Jackie’s grip on his arm tighten, her distress heightening with every tight step. She walked though, with her head high, through shadows thrown by leafless willow trees. The last and only time she’d been here, she wasn’t even sure if she’d loved the man she was burying. Now after her drug fuelled, soul searching trip she had emerged damaged yes, but rejoiced at the grief she felt for Leo. It was only in the years that followed that she realised what a large part of herself she had buried in that grave. She had loved him and mourned him in her own way. But always from a distance, never strong enough to visit his true final resting place. The guilt was carved in every feature of her once beautiful face that she had now come…for money.

     When they had buried Leo there was only Jackie and Richard Jenkins, Leo’s manager at the ceremony. It was short and clinical and Jim had steered the proceedings as per Leo’s request, with no mention of God or the hereafter. Such a God-dry service was relatively rare as recently as six years ago but Jim found himself conducting more and more of these so called Humanist ceremonies these days. Leo’s casket was lowered and after a brief moment of silent reflection, Jackie and Richard walked to Richard’s car and were gone. No limousines for this burial, it was a discreet and secretive affair.

     In contrast, his official ceremony at High Deans, had been attended by hundreds of friends and celebrities and each of the big three networks had a news van on location. Bill Merchant had worn a pair of borrowed shoes and his only suit, which had last seen daylight for his mother’s funeral. The streets had been lined along the cortege’s route by tearful fans; many of whom seemed so tormented you would have thought Leo had been a member of their immediate family. Jackie had never felt comfortable with the inordinate degree of devotion of her husband’s fans, but Bill had thought her oddly detached that day. Obviously, he assumed it was merely grief choosing its form in Jackie; Bill knew well enough that it can express itself differently in the bereaved. But now he could see, she was detached because -- Leo was not even there -- it was pure theatre.

     They reached the brow of a small hill with a willow tree fronted by a row of six gravestones. Bill felt Jackie halt and her grip dictated that he do the same. She was staring at the third headstone from the left. Bill took her hand and led her the rest of the way, now knowing exactly where he was going.

     From the crest of the hill, they could see beyond the willow to a breathtaking view of Lake Elsinore. The land basined downwards in almost perfect symmetry, like some giant green cocktail glass into which the lake had been poured. There was not even a ripple on its black surface and a white sail boat at the far shore was the only sign of man’s interference in this perfect picture. In the foreground, an osprey swooped up the lake, its shadow reflecting on the mirror surface. Then, it soared as if repelled by its own image, only to plummet, entering the water like a grey torpedo which teased almost no protest from its surface.

     Bill wondered how anyone could ever willingly leave such a place. The lack of wind in this basin had forced the sail boat’s captain to engage his engine and its low drone carried on the crisp air and broke the spell, Bill attended again to Jim. He stood aside and Bill could see that the headstone read: Archibald Stanton Born 1946 Deceased 1996 Beloved Husband and Father. 

     “Is this what he asked for, Jim?” asked Jackie.

     With a solemn nod he replied. “Exactly, Jacqueline.

     She had never seen the stone erected in the week following the burial. Looking at this foreign name on the polished stone, it held no resonance for Jackie and this only magnified her resurfacing grief; as if the marker’s lie robbed her of a hoped for link to Leo.

     Bill could feel Jackie’s hand shake in his and placing an arm around her shoulder he asked. “So what do we do, Jim come back later and dig?”

     Jim checked his watch. “Only another half-hour before I close the gates, Bill…then we can begin.”

     Jackie asked for a moment alone at the graveside but before obliging, Jim guided her to the next one in the row marked: Unknown -- Left Here By Strangers Buried by the Friend Who Found Him 1981 May He Find Peace.

     “Jim this isn’t it -- I remember it was this grave.” She pointed to the Stanton marker.

     Jim nodded and placed a hand on her shoulder. “You’re right, Jacqueline but there was more to Leo’s requests than you or more importantly, Richard Jenkins knew.”

     Jackie’s eyes saucered as Jim continued. “As part of his will, a letter from Leo was mailed to me detailing the requirements for the ceremony and with money to cover all costs. However Leo stressed that Richard be unaware of his final resting place and knew he would find a way of attending. So when you left, as per his instructions, I removed Leo’s casket and placed it in this grave with this marker. He pointed to the Unknown stone.  “I must tell you, Jacqueline, that two weeks after the burial…this grave,” He pointed at the Stanton marker. Was re-opened and someone took great pains to hide that fact. Had I not been shall we say monitoring it, I would have missed the fact the lair had been disturbed at all.” Jim paused, considering Leo’s instructions and nodding in affirmation continued. “Leo, for whatever reason, knew exactly what he was doing and was proven right.

     This information made no sense to Jackie. Why would Richard Jenkins mess with the grave, he was richer than Leo? And for what, a stupid guitar? To him it was exactly that -- just a guitar. Jackie could appreciate the man trying to buy her husbands most famous guitar because she knew the lengths and the scary means some fans would go to chasing a piece of their idol. But Jenkins was not a fan and he didn’t need money, it made no sense.

     Jackie had never liked Richard Jenkins and she had often made that clear to Leo, who would always leap to his defence. He always painted him as a good manager who more than earned his cut. It was news to her that Leo never trusted him. Her own dislike originated from his part in taking her husband away for months at a time. It was not personal and she would have regarded anyone with that role with similar disdain.

     In truth some part of her felt for Richard, as despite his riches he was crippled by a bone disorder. His malady was called Osteopenia, and it had eroded his right hip joint leaving him limping with a walking stick at a young age. Jackie felt her intuition had been proven right though after Leo’s death, as after the papers were signed she never heard a peep from Jenkins again. Although the reburial to dupe Jenkins made no sense to her, she could see that Jim was honest and thanked him.   

     “I still have the letter, Jacqueline; you were to be shown where he lay if you ever returned, but only in Richard’s absence. It was never his design to fool you, but I now know that he obviously had his reasons.” With that, Jim shepherded Bill from Jackie’s side and they left her finally, by the grave of her husband. It looked worse for wear and the grass that marked its boundaries was yellow and dried compared to the fecund green carpet that furnished the lairs on either side.

     Jim strolled Bill through the manicured grounds.

     “Why did Leo go to these lengths, Jim? I thought I knew him as well as anyone; I spent eight years with him on every continent. None of this makes sense to me.

     Jim frowned. “I can’t help with his reasons, Bill but maybe I can shed some light on his specifics. When we were kids we spent a lot of time in this graveyard. We played all the usual games kids play but cowboys was a favourite of Leo’s.

     “He loved those Spaghetti Westerns.” Bill confirmed.

     “Exactly,” laughed Jim. “Leo was a big Clint Eastwood fan even then. Did you ever see The Good The Bad and The Ugly, Bill?”

     “Who hasn’t, Jim, compulsory viewing for any male of the species. Can I say the word classic to you?

     “Do you remember where the climax of that film takes place, Bill?”

     Bill looked up, accessing his database. “It’s a shootout in the town,” he said confidently.

     “No, Bill…it’s in a graveyard.

     Pruning his chin Bill mused, as if suddenly aware of his surroundings. “So it is, Jim…youre quite right.

     “And do you remember the name on the grave, Bill where the gold was buried?”

      Bill raised his hands. “Its been a few years, Jim, I mean I’m a Clint fan but Leo was the Clint fanatic.

     Jim smiled. “I know…I had to check myself, Bill…the name was Arch Stanton.

     Bill’s head spun to meet Jims eyes. “Youre kidding?

     “Nope…but the kicker was that Eli Wallach dug up that grave and sweated for nothing…because the treasure was in ...”

     Bill raised his hand to his forehead and nodding, silenced Jim. “In the grave marked Unknown next to Arch Stanton.          

    “Bravo, Bill.

     As if a lynch pin had fallen into place, finally at least one small part of this puzzle made some bizarre sense to Bill. “Now that sounds like the Leo I knew,” said Bill. “That’s his sense of humour right down.

     Less than an hour later, as they sat in his office, Jim explained that Jackie should not accompany them for the exhumation. “Jacqueline you have already managed the most difficult of things, to watch your husband be buried beneath the earth and face that finality. You have thrown your dirt on his casket, Jacqueline, to see it removed will only open old wounds further.

     Bill was liking Jim more and more in the two hours he’d known him and reassured Jackie that he was right. So after a final sweep of the grounds and a check that the visitors car park was empty, Jim locked the gates to Fairhills. They left Jackie in the office with Leo’s letter and a bottle of Jack to keep her company.

     Bill’s leg pain -- which had calmed some in the car on the trip down -- had woken up angry again. It was often the simple act of changing posture that set it off. Frustrated, he limped to his truck and lifted his shovel, then noticed that Jim was walking not toward the grave but to a lockup adjacent to the crematorium. As he rolled up the steel shutters, their sharp grating sliced through the serenity that filled the grounds. Inside there waited a miniature JCB digger. Bill looked down at his shovel and feeling stupid let it drop to the ground “clang

     Jim laughed. “No, Bill, bring it, well need it when we reach depth.

     At the graveside, Jim stopped. “Bill just for the record…I don’t do this often.” He shook his head, like an actor who’d fluffed a crucial line. It was clear this explanation was important to him. “Scratch that, Bill…I have never done this. The only exhumations I have overseen have involved the sensitive and dignified removal and re-internment of human remains in observation of doctrinal, legal and scientific requirements.

     Bill nodded slowly. “You lifted that straight out your code of practice…didn’t you, Jim.

“I didn’t quite pull it off did I…but…hammy as it sounds, it’s true.

     Impaling his shovel in the earth adjacent to the grave Bill said. “I don’t doubt it, Jim but, why are you helping Jackie, you hardly know her?”

     “I knew Leo, once, and, she’s right -- he would want me to help her. I’m sure he loved and trusted her. That much was obvious in his letter.

     Bill stepped aside for Jim to operate the digger and thought of Jim’s recount from The Good the Bad and the Ugly. The treasure is in the grave marked Unknown next to Arch Stanton. Jim manoeuvred the digger into position and with a controlled scoop, its blade sliced through the yellowed grass that hovered over Leo Hendams coffin.




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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’: 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 793 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, 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."

"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."

"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?"

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

"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"

"One word- fantastic"

"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 796 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 821 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 823 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 294 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.


Nik.Vukoja wrote 542 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.

Tickel wrote 557 days ago

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

Clark-ee wrote 567 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!!!


Scott Toney wrote 569 days ago

Great Review! Congrats!

Kerron Lee wrote 633 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 635 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 635 days ago

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

TonyO'Hara wrote 651 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.


Jacqueline Malcolm wrote 653 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 660 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 661 days ago

Hi Derek,

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


Roy Batty wrote 664 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 664 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 665 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 666 days ago

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

Philthy wrote 667 days ago

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

(Deshay of the Woods)

morriss003 wrote 667 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 667 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 668 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 669 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 669 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 670 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 671 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 671 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 671 days ago

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

Philip Eley wrote 671 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 671 days ago

I'm back for more of your fabulous book

August74 wrote 672 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 672 days ago

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

Spear of Destiny wrote 673 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 675 days ago

Superb very well written.

John Stearn (Author of Derilium)

SnugglePuggle wrote 675 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 675 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 675 days ago

Just finished chapter 5 - rated and backed.

Any comments, rating and/or backing are of course welcome -

sayla wrote 676 days ago

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

Philthy wrote 679 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!
(Deshay of the Woods)

Sara Walker wrote 680 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 681 days ago

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

Paul Dyer wrote 683 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 683 days ago

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.
Midnight Radio

Lizzie Cooper wrote 683 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 685 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 686 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 686 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!

Jordan Lees wrote 687 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,


C.A. Simonsen wrote 687 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 688 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 689 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 691 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.