New year: resolutions and whatnot

Ah, new year approaches so it’s that time to make plans for what we want to do in the New Year, and then never do them.

Mine, pretty much the same as last year.

1. Lose weight. But this year I’m doing it for charity. I’ve set myself 6 months to lose what I can, sponsored for every half stone, by anyone who cares (my mum mostly!) and then in 6 months, I’ll do it for another charity. There are just so many charities that I support, that this way I can give something to lots of them. And hopefully, doing it for charity, will guilt me into continuing. We shall see. I have a lot of weight to lose, so everyone should get something :)

2. Finish book 3. Have had this one for two years now, but it’s been difficult getting the start right, knowing what I want to say, whether what i want to do is actually the right thing for the book, for the characters. I still have no idea, but I want to finish the rough of this by July. (6 months, same as the weight loss thing) So i can get one with the other book i have in my head.

3. Finish my short story Greek Myth collections. I wanted to do it by the end of December, but have run into problems setting the scenes and working out how to deal with the last 4 of the myths i have. These are: Dryope (woman becomes a tree) Hecuba (woman kills the man who killed her son, for money) Cassandra (woman foresees her and her lover’s death) Echo (woman fades into nothing)

4. Read more. For the first time I have a to be read pile. This includes some horror, some fantasy, and a nonfiction book about women’s experiences in mental asylums! I want to read these, and then read more :) At least a book a month :)

5. Keep the house tidy. I’m such a slob! Be nice to have a house I can bring guests into :)

So we shall see. These are my plans, and hopefully I can do them. They’re not too hard.

I also hope to spend the year happy, with my cats and my friends :)

Procrastination and general faffing about.

Anyone who knows me, or who has read this little blog, knows I have been working on the Children of the Shadow, the third and final book in my Ellenessia’s Curse series, but also toying with the Forest of Ghosts, a standalone fantasy that features cats and ghosts. But i wasn’t really getting anywhere with either.

So, I am officially leaving Children of the Shadow alone for now, and working on the Forest of Ghosts. I have more passion for this, it’s completely new, new world, new characters, new plot, and I’m hoping that by doing it I will regain my enthusiasm for Candale and his adventures. I’ve been working on that series for a decade now, so it’s not surprising I’m tired and stuck and need a new thing to get me going again.

Of course, working on a new book has its problems. It’s fun, it’s got energy, but i have to come up with new places, new characters, new beliefs, without repeating ones I’ve already used, and that can be difficult.

But, i do get to draw on my own experiences, that of being a cat owner, as all three of my cats, Claudia, Megaera and Mr Kitty will features in this book as the hero, now named Valyn, has a special sort of bond with our four legged friends. There are also ghosts, mages, and some zombie type creatures, although not the ones commonly used in horror films. These do not want brains. They want something far more destructive.

Regarding the Shadow Seer, and Seer’s Tower, I’m hoping that a shop in town will stock copies. It’s a fantasy type gift shop, so the books should fit in nicely. But will let you know after I’ve been in there tomorrow.

 

Reading and signing

This saturday I’m doing a reading, and signing, with fellow fantasy author, Joanne Hall, in swansea’s Oxfam bookshop and I’ve been rather conveniently ignoring the fact that part of a reading, means reading! Out loud, so people can hear me. I hate that.

Now, I am proud of my book. I put a lot of effort into it, it came out more or less the way i wanted to, it’s the best thing I think i’ve written. Ever. I want people to read it, and enjoy it. But, when you read it out loud, well, it sounds daft. Talking about demons and things. And i get nervous, and stumble over my words, and sound stupid, and i worry that will put people off. You shouldn’t judge my book by my bad reading of it. You should buy it, read it, then judge it :)

So, if you do come along, please forgive me if i sound a total tit. I will get better, I’m sure, and the book is good. I promise!

To Self-publish or Not to Self-publish?

My novel has been published with a small print publisher, but at conventions and so forth I’m often asked if it was self published. Self published books, vanity press, has long been regarded as cheating, that anyone with money could get a book published, regardless of quality of the writing, or the plot. Publishers offer security, that at least someone liked the book enough to invest in it, to edit and print it. that’s the theory at least.

And i generally agreed with it. Until recently. After reading a new book i had long been looking forward to, and finding it daft, contradictory and just poor, i can no longer say with confidence, that a properly published book is any better than some thing someone prints for themselves. So, i am considering this route myself. Not for my novels. The idea of having to edit 120k worth of words alone is terrifying, but for a collection of short stories. The collection I have been trying to write for years. I’m going to try and get some other writers involved, one or two stories from each of us, and then if a few publishers don’t want it, i will self publish it myself. Working out royalties between all the writers will be fun, so i hope to keep this project between friends, for ease, but i think it’s a go. A chance to get my name out there a little more, and for new writers as well, and perhaps the only way i will get my collection of faerie stories!

As for my novel, well, back to the start of the third book. After faffing for so long, with festivals and trips to the village, i realised that the reason it wasn’t working is because it’s all wrong. So, back to the start for me.I can still use a lot of the later work, but the beginning, that has to be redone. But far better it’s done right, than done wrong and fast.

Pain and a beginning

Well i have  a trapped nerve, and as of yet, still no books, so I can’t do a panel at Bristol Con after all, though i will still do a reading. Hurts too much to sit still for too long and I’m not inspired enough to give a book justice or put other books down as they deserve! So that’s a shame and a pain, rather literally.But hopefully i can put the pain to good use in some written way . . .

Anyway, still having some trouble getting the ritual/festival part of book 3 sorted. So i fiddled with the start instead. And as I’ve never shared the beginning, here it is, the beginning of book 3, Children of the Shadow. No real spoilers i think for book 2, so you’re all right to read it :)

THE ROAD TO THE MOUNTAINS

The ground below me was always hard. Sometimes it was rough and would rumble along, rocking my body from side to side, with the occasion sudden jolt that would make my head thump on the ground before jarring my entire body. Always there was the sound of thunder, with the ground moving. A distant rumble that sounded beneath my head. Something heavy lay over me all of the time, smelling of animals. At times I felt like I was suffocating, drowning in that rich, musty smell. But at others, when I heard the harsh voices, unfamiliar and terrifying, like the voices of giants, sounding near to me, then I would burrow into those heavy covers, wrap myself in the musty smell and hope that the voices didn’t come near to me. Nothing good ever happened when they came near to me.

At other times the ground was smooth, thick, but I could feel something beneath it that was uneven. Still that musty smell was with me, thick and heavy, covering me, pinning me down. Though my mind was fogged, heavy, my thoughts slipping and sliding away from me as I tried to shape them, a part of me had come to understand that this time, when the ground was smooth, was the dangerous time. The time when the owners of those voices would come to me, when they would hold me up and force something down my throat. Sometimes it was hot, sometimes it was cold, always liquid and always leaving me to feel as though I was drowning. Sometimes I would choke, cough, and try to move the heavy parts of me that I could vaguely feel attached somewhere. Once those parts had worked well, letting me move where I wanted, how I wanted. But now they just seemed to flail around, on the edge of my vision, useless heavy lumps that wouldn’t work at all.

Always these encounters ended the same way. A rough hand over my mouth, the smell of something sweet and heavy, which flowed through me, bring with it a darkness so total and complete it was as though I was dead.

Candale. Candale!” The voice in the blackness was strangely urgent and insistent and, with it, I was vaguely aware of a hand on my shoulder, shaking me, trying to stir me awake. But a part of me knew that being awake was loud and scary and it hurt. I rather stay in the darkness.

But then my body was moving beyond my control, the darkness rolling backwards, as I was pulled up to my feet and supported by two strong arms and, against my best efforts, the waking world slammed back around me.

Noise. A roar. It was all around me and it took a moment before I could separate the sounds, identify them as screams and shouts, the whiny of horses, the clash of metal against metal and pop and crackle of a fire. But I couldn’t understand them. It was usually so quiet, nothing but that familiar rumble or those harsh voices. Never this much noise, enough to make my, already, aching head want to split.

And then, as I was dragged forward, light and movement and smells joined the noise. Shadowy figures were moving all around us, the source of the shouts and screams, and swords glinted and reflected the dozens of fires that were burning all around us. The smoke was thick, it stung my eyes and set them to watering, and made it hard to breathe. I started to cough and the movement set a lance of white pain shooting through my already pounding skull. My vision was swallowed in a flurry of bright stars and spots and my legs collapsed beneath me. But I didn’t fall, the arms supporting me held me firm and continued to drag me through the roar of noise. Panic gripped me and I tried to pull free, to back away from the chaos all around me, but the arms held tight and continued to carry me on.

Wait . . .” I managed to gasp, despite my dry mouth and thick tongue and a brain heavy with fog.

We can’t,” said a male voice, the owner of the arms to my left. “We need to get you out of here, to safety.”

Safety. A magical word, one I had dreamed of, in the clearer moments of my captivity, one that meant freedom and warmth, my friends, my family, my home. Just hearing it made my legs feel weak and I nearly collapsed again this time from relief. Thankfully the arms were still there, holding me.

Sorry,” I whispered, and forced myself to focus, to scramble for the elusive words. “Drugged. Been drugged.”

It’s all right,” said the same man again. “We don’t have far to go.”

It might not have been far, but it certainly felt that way to my aching head and dead weight body. By the time we reached our destination, a group of horses standing still within earshot of the roar of sound coming from the camp, I was more dragged than walking. They had to lift me onto the back of a horse and, when the man who had spoken to me swung up in the saddle in front of me, I found it so difficult to keep my head upright that I pressed it to his lean back. For a moment I was still and the pain was eased, just a little, by that support.

And then the horse lurched into movement beneath me and we took off, galloping into the night. I tightened my grip, squeezed shut my eyes and prayed that I wouldn’t be sick.

Bristol Con, reading out loud and favourite books

Well Bristol Con is next saturday!!! And at this moment I still haven’t received my book order, so i have nothing to sell, which is a little worrying! I will be doing a reading from the Shadow Seer, and sitting on a panel to discuss my favourite book, also worrying! I have never done a reading before and it’s a scarey thought. What if people don’t like it? What if i pronounce my own characters names wrong and sound a tit? What if i read too fast? I have chosen what i hope is a dramatic bit, Candale’s attack in the Square Garden, and practiced to make sure that it’s the right length, but still, it’s all a bit scarey.

And my favourite book? It’s hard to narrow it down. There are lots in the, i enjoyed this but it’s just ok, pile, and a few in the, this was great I’m going to reread it lots, pile, but favourite? best of the best? That’s a lot harder. I’ve gone with Flesh and Spirit, by Carol Berg. First of the lighthouse duology. I’m rereading it for the fourth time maybe, and it’s something i can say a lot about. It has faeries, conspiracies, crazy people, magic, a world that is falling apart, and a hero who is rather likeable, fanciable even.Valen. A rogue, just looking for somewhere warm to stay for the winter, who ends up caught in all sorts of trouble. Berg is certainly one of my favourite writers, along with Lewis Carroll. Her world’s are varied, her characters are as well, although they all seem to be tortured, physically, in some way. And though there are a few books that i don’t care for particularly, the ones that i do like, I come back to time and again.

So, I’m sorted, other than the missing books, and working onwards with my own. Shaping a festival, including some mad prophets, but still looking for the right end . . .

October

Well it appears to be October. Most of the year is gone and Bristol Con is in two weeks (just under) I’m still waiting on book stock to appear, so that’s a little nerve wracking, but also facing the end of the year without anything finished, which is just depressing.

So, I have set myself the aim of finishing book 3, the Children of the Shadow, in rough, by the end of the year. That’s first rough draft. And to finish the whole thing, properly and fully, by my birthday in May. Sadly, this is a target i set myself for this year, and clearly didn’t meet, but I have more reason to do it, as ideas are forming for my new book and i can’t do that at all until this is done. Would also like to finish my short story collection by end of year, too.

So, there we are. Most of the Children of Shadow is done. The main bulk. I have gaps to fill, still, and an end to put on. The problem is, i keep fiddling with bits. At the moment I’m working on a festival. A festival i had done. A festival that could have waited until the whole thing was done. Perhaps i just don’t’ want to finish, really, because i worry about its standard, or because I’m not ready to leave Candale and his friends. I have been with them for 8 years, or so, so it will be a hard thing to leave. But Sylan, the hero of my new series, and his cats, have a tale (or tail) to tell as well. And I may have another story for Candale, in the future, I can’t rule it out, so it doesn’t have to be a goodbye.

Or so I tell myself. :)

Bad Review

So today I got my second bad review, this one on Goodreads. Reviews are all personal, I know this. And not everyone will love everything you do, but still it can be disheartening. Perhaps because i fear that they are right? Perhaps because I feel like I have let them down? They loved the first book, but not the Seer’s Tower. The Seer’s Tower was harder to write, middle books often are, keeping the plot going, tying up some ends, but not everything, moving things forward, but not too far . . . I was stuck a lot. I fear that it shows. I fear that it’s a bad book, letting down the series, letting down my readers . . .

But then I’m not sure i agree with some of the reviewer’s comments. All right, perhaps there isn’t a lot of personal interaction . . . Not in the same chit chat way as the first book, at least. And I thought Dale was stronger, less stammering, although certainly he is a bit more upset in places, but i don’t blame him. Bad stuff happens. It’s interesting, how the comments target things I hadn’t worried about, and not those that I had. So, am I worrying about the wrong things?

I could go mad, thinking about it, and in the end, it doesn’t matter. It’s one person’s thoughts, and I’m sorry they didn’t enjoy the book, but I’m glad that I still care enough to feel that way, and to worry about it. I would never want to get to the point where any review means nothing to me. I would hate to be that complacent, because, though I write for myself firs, I want people to enjoy what i do and i want to make sure it’s the best that i can. If i stop caring about reviews then i think I might stop caring about the quality of my writing, and that would be a shame.

The Seer’s Tower

The Seer’s Tower is now out! In ebook, kindle etc. You can buy it directly from the publisher:

http://www.writers-exchange.com/The-Seers-Tower.html

And through amazon and so on, at some point. Print will follow. When I get dressed and some food, I will settle down to spend the rest of the day promoting and bothering people to review it, which is always a fun thing to do :) (i enjoy promoting a lot, just have to try and remember what I’ve done!)

Will also fit in some work on Children of the Shadow. Struggling with mountain life, at the moment, working out the best way for them to live and how that can appeal to Candale.

Interview

Just found an interview with me that I don’t remember doing it (must have been ages ago) so here it is, if you’re interested.
 

Have had some thoughts on how to develop book 3 and so that’s what I’m working on, festivals, burning things and masks, all fun things, just a little difficult to get on with when the weather is so nice. it is Candale’s first time in the mountains, first time experiencing a wild, traditional sort of festival, I’m not sure how he will take it!
 

Next week I’m in Bristol, hopefully selling lots of copies of the Shadow Seer parts 1 and 2. I enjoy selling, meeting people, talking to people, but I hate leaving the cats and always fear that no one will buy anything. I’m there with my friend, fellow writer Joanna Hall, so hopefully the appeal of two writers, plus other books for sale, will attract people and their wallets.