‘The Pact‘ by Christian Liberty Marshall is an exciting new series novel in eight episodes and is published twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays from 3rd August 2015, price £1.79 each. It would appeal to fans of Robert Ludlum’s ‘The Bourne Identity’, John Le Carre’s ‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’ and Daniel Silva’s ‘The Unlikely Spy’ and ‘Homeland’.
On a flight from New York to London, six ambitious twenty-somethings are each given an electronic tablet. Suddenly they are presented with all their personal statistics and a cool, female voice asks them to join The Nations’ Bureau of Security (NBS) to make the world a better place.
Eliska, Nick, Leah, Felicity, Paul and Jian are all connected in some way to The Syndicate, an international crime organization aimed at profiteering by keeping countries at war with one another. Their worlds collide when they are chosen and trained for one purpose: bringing The Syndicate down.
When a NBS agent is murdered shortly before their first assignment, the five remaining recruits quickly realize the agency they’re working for may not be as trustworthy as it seems. Can they stay alive long enough to uncover the truth? They make a pact: a pact to survive, no matter the cost, or the temptation to break it…
Christian Liberty Marshall is an American writer who is now based in Austria. He’s a musician with degrees from Vanderbilt University and University of Music and Performing Arts Graz. When he isn’t performing as a violist, he can be found teaching at the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg, writing educational material for children, or translating German literature.
I am delighted to have a guest post from Christian:
Dealing with ‘The Fly in the Ointment’
Before I began working on The Pact, I came up with a romantic daily schedule highlighting both my creativity and desire to maintain a healthy work/life balance. This short-lived dream had me waking up fully rested and enjoying a leisurely breakfast before turning on my laptop to “pen” the next several pages of the current episode. Hours would pass as witty dialogue and thrilling plot twists appeared on the screen word perfect.
Then I’d be interrupted (on schedule) by a friend asking me to grab lunch in the city, after which I’d run into another friend and—of course—have time for coffee. I would then be behind schedule, but that’d be OK, because the morning had been so productive. Racing home, I’d grab my swimsuit and head to the pool for my daily exercise. By the time I would arrive home in the late afternoon, I’d be ready to sit down for another hour and finish dictating whatever my muse had whispered to me while I’d been working on my Auerbach.
Though I’d love to tell you this dream came true twenty times a month, I can’t. And that’s because there is one uncontrollable factor in a writer’s work/life balance: the writing. Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, refers to this as “the fly in the ointment,” and I couldn’t agree more. The best thing a writer can do is exercise the discipline needed to sit down, quiet his/her mind, and let the words come. And my hobbies, when not given the respect they deserve, tend to serve as a distraction and not as a reward, leaving me to stare in frustration at blank pages.
So how does one achieve the perfect work/life balance? I think it’s safe to say there’s no single right answer, but I can tell you what I find to be helpful for me.
My first step is to eliminate the feeling of unfinished work, because “unfinished work” has the power to gnaw at my mind 24/7, making virtually everything unenjoyable. And the easiest way to eliminate “unfinished work” is to give yourself short assignments, to avoid biting off more than you can chew. (Another piece of wisdom gleaned from Anne Lamott.) The easiest way for me to do this is with numbers. Sometimes it’s 350 words. Other times it’s three pages. And even sometimes it’s five minutes. Because setting a goal and reaching it is the easiest way to build confidence as a writer, clean your conscience, and—most importantly—remain sane.
Then, once I’ve done my work and have reached my goal, I treat my hobby as a reward. And I give it the respect it deserves by enjoying it fully. I don’t cut corners and say “just half an hour this time,” or “I spent an hour on this yesterday, I can’t afford losing so much time today,” or “No, it’s OK, I need to write. You guys go and have fun without me.” By saying such things, I often end up cranky, alone, and writing sentences with about as much life as a wilted salad.
Finally, when it’s time to return to the craft of writing, I give myself another short assignment, diving in with a fresh perspective from a rested mind.
While I can’t say this plan is foolproof, I can say it makes me a much happier and healthier writer, inside and out. And I think my characters and hobbies would agree.
‘The Pact’ is Christian’s first serial novel and he is available for interview by contacting Sophie Goodfellow on firstname.lastname@example.org or Hayley Steed on email@example.com. You can also request review copies and further information.