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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Back to the Light

(North Atlantic 41o43'35" N, 49o56'54" W)



     The depth-gauge of the deep-sea submersible tracked the ninety minute descent down the umbilical line, through ever darkening blackness. Its bank of sixteen powerful halogen searchlights revealed nothing, and merely magnified the fear of what might lay, just beyond their reach.

    The digital gauge settled on 12, 460 feet as they reached the seabed and the sudden loss of downward motion turned the stomachs of the men within the capsule. They cruised forward briefly and there she was, a leviathan of rusting steel looming from the murk; a dark sarcophagus that had inhabited this world devoid of light, for ninety-five years.

     Sheridan flew the sub over the bow rail, still beautifully intact and majestic as the day she sailed. He spoke into his radio. “Ok, topside we’ve reached depth and all systems are green.”

The radio blurted its staccato, static-laced response. “Roger that, Orpheus, we’re reading green across the board and you are go for taxiing to the stern.”

     Dan Sheridan was an ex-navy submariner who now freelanced and spent his days babysitting rich sightseers beneath the waves. This was punctuated by the occasional spot of salvage and wreck hunting. He had no qualms about who he worked for and neither could he afford to, being it seemed, eternally bound to a life that left him always one job away from bankruptcy.

     A mercenary nature was a prerequisite in this field and this modern day pirate was born for it. The first thing he did on leaving the navy was toss his moral compass overboard. The second thing was to lose the buzzcut and grow his hair long. His blond mane gave him the look of an eighties soft rock star and his muscular frame was entirely too large to be sardined in this can on a daily basis.

     Sheridan had piloted to Titanic many times, but no charter had ever offered him so much cash for his services and he wasn’t cheap. He turned to his co-pilot “Ok, Sam you take her from here, slow and easy to the stern.”

     The skinny, coloured man smiled. “Slow and easy is the only speed this tub has, boss. Do you want the scenic route across the debris field?”

     Sheridan turned, eyeing his passenger. “May as well, the man’s paying the freight.”

     He watched as his passenger, crouched in long-sitting, opened the small steel flight-case in his lap. It held a small radio remote which linked with the equipment they had mounted on Orpheus’s hull -- some kind of VHF antenna. Sheridan had checked it out thoroughly and, satisfied it would in no way interfere with the workings of his rig, had agreed to its use.

     He was in the dark however as to what booty they were after. More money was the answer offered to most of his questions and he was after all no stranger to expeditions of dubious legality. “Ok, Mr…” He paused as if silently laughing at what he was sure was a fake name, not that he cared. “Mr Stark…we have two hours down here then we have to start our eight hour ascent…so let’s get to it.”

     Mr Stark turned a frequency dial until it read 17MHz and toggled a button marked Transmit.

     “Are we cooking?” asked Sheridan.

     Stark, just nodded and continued watching the screen before him.

     “Alrighty then, Mr Stark, the stern is 600 metres away and were buzzing along at a scary top speed of three kilometres per hour. Well reach her ass end in about fifteen minutes. Meantime, you might want to look out the porthole at the debris field, it’s a once in a lifetime experience …unless you’re me of course.”

     Without raising his head from the screen Stark merely offered a dry “No thank you.”

     Sheridan shrugged his shoulders, exchanging bemused glances with Sam as he lay his large frame back down. Through the six inch glass one of the ship’s massive boilers ghosted past. It was in fact one of these steel hulks that was the first image to be seen in 1985 by Bob Ballard’s team, confirming they had found the wreck. 

     They continued on and passed an array of five rows of perfectly stacked china plates. The wooden crate which held them had long ago been eaten away to leave them gently lazing on the seabed. Sheridan looked back over his shoulder, as if loath to turn his back on this passenger and as he did so he heard a faint beep emit from the box in the man’s lap. It repeated its pulse in breaks of seven seconds or so. Stark’s eyes raised from the screen, his face bathed in its green glow.

     “It is near, Mr Sheridan, about seventy-metres straight ahead on this heading.”

     Sheridan regarded him with some confusion. “Well unless I’ve lost a transponder, Mr Stark, whatever you’re after is not in the stern of that ship.”

     Stark, still without emotion, replied. “An unexpected good fortune, it shall expedite recovery.”

     Sheridan knew he was right, anything in the belly of that ship would be a cold proposition to retrieve. But the debris field, that was a whole other sport.

     Sam had co-piloted Sheridan for many years in environments that would scare anyone, but he’d had a bad feeling about this trip and was now cursing his scientific mind for disregarding his intuition. From the get-go he didn’t like the look of this fare and was now wishing he’d never come along, fantastic money or not. That same intuition was now telling him that whatever they were after -- might be better left down here.

     They flew on and passed a single, lady’s heeled shoe. Leather was more resilient than cotton, wool or even wood, it tended to survive the sea’s touch. The bleep became more frequent until every two seconds it pierced the silence.

     “Ok, Sam…ahead half-full now.” Sam obliged, downshifting the Orpheus from crawl to snail pace. The bleeps merged into one continuous tone and Sheridan ordered. “All stop!” Through the port hole he could see a single, rat-tailed fish, snooping around the ocean floor. Sheridan engaged the aft lateral thrusters and Orpheus began to rotate, she was slow but highly manoeuvrable. He had come about 180-degrees when he killed the engine, something had caught his eye.

     He’d done enough marine archaeology to know that the contours of the seabed directly beneath them were anomalous. There was something under the silt, he had no doubt. Long in the tooth as he was at this game he still got a tingle in the back of his bull-size neck as he looked from the bump in the ocean floor to the box in Stark’s lap with its beep tone filling the cockpit.

     “Ok, Sam I’ll take the man camera-2…two metres due south if you please.” Sheridan swapped positions with Sam and he cranked the two robotic arms on Orpheus’s bow into life. Slowly he lowered them to gently tease away the layer of sediment, with skill that only thousands of hours of flying time could foster. His surgical dexterity provoked only a small cloud of silt to bellow upwards, a heavier touch and they would have had zero visibility for twenty-minutes; a lifetime when you have such short windows for recovery.

     They watched the monitor with camera-2’s feed and as the cloud died away could discern a few objects obviously of man made geometry. A square pile of what might be mushy letters which the robot arm had sliced through, sat atop some larger sturdier looking items, one of which was immediately identifiable as a metal box. The arrangement of the items told Sheridan instantly that it was the contents of a crate that had long ago been eaten away by fish, bacteria and marine worms.  

     “Document everything, Sam…get as much footage as you can.” Sheridan repeatedly manoeuvred the robot arms to pick up the objects and place them in the crate secured on Orpheus’s bow. Like a claw-game in an amusement arcade he scooped them up, only this machine wasn’t rigged, it held fast and he got a prize every time. Within fifteen minutes he had recovered the dissolved crate’s contents and was satisfied that whatever was responding to the VHF vibrations being emitted from Stark’s antenna was now in his crate.

     “Ok, Mr Stark…we’re going to ascend a short distance, if we have the piece you’re after, the bleep should stay continuous. If we’re moving away from it and leaving it behind…it will pause between beeps again…yes?” It was a question only in so far as Sheridan thought he was familiar with all types of sonar and echo-sounding equipment but he was at a loss as to what could be giving such a clean signal and yet date from 1912 -- it made no sense to him.

     “You are quite right, Mr Sheridan.”

     They began to rise off the ocean floor and the beep remained without pause, one long continuous tone as they continued their slow climb towards the surface. Whatever they had found would see the light of day in eight hours, for the first time in ninety-five years. 

     With each metre closer to the surface, Sam felt increasingly uneasy, claustrophobic even, not a good quality in his line and not a problem he’d ever experienced before. He repeatedly glanced at the oxygen gauge and more than once tapped the glass panel as if unsure of its reports. Experienced as he was, he knew this was a futile gesture; as pointless as kicking a car’s tyres to test its worth prior to purchasing. But still he tapped its facing and still it vexed him.

     Sheridan merely spent the ascent mentally spending the finder’s bonus he had coming on top of his hefty charter fee. Hole in one he mused; maximum profit for minimum effort. Am I lucky or am I just good?

     On board the surface vessel Aurora, Sheridan alighted from Orpheus and instructed his deck crew to stand down; a highly unusual order, which left only himself, Sam and Stark to inspect the contents of the crate. They gathered around the metal cage as Sheridan’s shovel hands gently removed the lumps of mushy paper, some of which were undoubtedly books. Some had pages which, although completely black, Sheridan knew could restore to reveal completely readable text. He removed these artefacts however in a desultory fashion, obviously keen to reach something beyond them.

     At the base of the cage, amongst the slush, sat the metal box; corroded to reddish brown but completely intact. Its hasp wore not one but two oxidised padlocks. Sheridan had no doubt that what they were after lay inside. Any salvager knows, metal boxes invariably contain something valuable and a two-lock coffer was like a neon sign saying the goods are here. It was the X that always marks the spot.

     He lifted it from the pen and sat it on the deck. Then taking a hammer and chisel from the deck toolbox he gently tapped the rusted padlocks. They held firm but the hasp, covered in tiny rusticles and obviously of higher sulphur content, yielded. He prized his chisel under the lid and levered it open as its hinges crumbled. Inside, the box was awash of sludge, which glooped out onto the deck revealing a pulp, leather-hide book which was adorned in jewels. The leather had resisted the touch of the ocean well, although many of the tiny gemstones had drifted loose from their bindings and lay in the floor of the box. 

     Sheridan identified it immediately, whispering in wonder. “The Great Omar.”

     Stark ignored him and just stared at the front of the book -- as though he could see something beyond its matt blackened cover. Then for the first time, Sheridan saw Stark’s lips curl into a slow smile. It was as economical as all his gestures and, with a look of surprised recognition; he uttered one single word. Jibril.” 

     Sam, who was raised a Catholic but not by nature a religious man, blessed himself and walked towards his quarters.

    Stark took the box from Sheridan’s hands and merely said. “I will arrange for your finder’s fee to be transferred immediately as we make harbour, Mr Sheridan.” Sheridan offered no argument. He knew he was being paid far more than this artefact could possibly be worth, but still couldn’t figure what beacon it had emitted to let them track it so effectively. He was also curious as to what had Sam so spooked, knowing him to be a veteran of many far more hairy expeditions. Hell this had been easy, they hit pay dirt on what was to be effectively a recon trip to test the equipment -- it doesn’t get sweeter than that…ever.

     He caught Sam up as he was going below decks. “Wait up, Sam…what’s with you? You look like the bogey man slapped you around.”

     Sam, ashen faced, just stared blankly at him. “Did you check the O2, boss?” 

     Sheridan, a little confused, said. “Of course I did, Sam. How could I not what with you sniffing the gauge every few minutes. There was plenty, no problems.”

     “That’s just it, boss…there was plenty...too much in fact,” Sam removed a small notepad from his breastpocket. “Here’s the log from yesterday’s dive, it was slightly shorter than today’s, a total of ten hours thirty-two minutes compared with today’s dive-time of ten hours forty. Check the figures, boss we used less O2 today than yesterday despite it being a longer dive and having a passenger when yesterday it was just you and me. You know these numbers don’t add up and I prepped Orpheus myself before diving, everything checked out.”

     Sheridan looked at the numbers scribbled in Sam’s log and knew they made no sense. “So what are you saying, Sam?”

     “I’m saying…” Sam stopped, as if reluctant to verbalise what was on his normally scientific and rational mind and then thinking fuck it -- he committed. “I’m saying…it’s almost as if Stark wasn’t even there with us on that dive boss.”

     Sheridan’s eyebrows arched in surprise and scratching his mane, he said. “Maybe he was just holding his breath.” Despite his joke, he could see Sam was still uneasy and unsatisfied so offered “I’ll get Larry to run full diagnostics on the O2 system, Sam, you get some sleep.”

He placed a shovel hand on Sam’s shoulder. “Good work today, Sam, it was a strange shift and no mistake but tonight…the drinks are on me.”

     Sam turned and started up the narrow corridor and Sheridan called after him. “What did he say, Sam…Jibril?

     Without turning to face him Sam replied. “It’s Arabic; it means…the angel Gabriel.”




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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 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, 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 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 288 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 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.

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!!!


Scott Toney wrote 563 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 645 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 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.


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? :)

(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 663 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 665 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 667 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.

John Stearn (Author of Derilium)

SnugglePuggle wrote 669 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 669 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 -

sayla wrote 671 days ago

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

Philthy wrote 673 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 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 675 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 677 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 677 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 680 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!

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,


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 683 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.