Life and death and things

Following on from my last post, where I talked about losing internet friend Nathalie, I have no lost my baby boy, Mr Kitty. A cat, but not to me. To me he was my best friend, my comfort, my everything. Always with me, in my bed, on my sofa, grabbing me for snuggles, greeting me with a hello squeak, he was the best friend I’ve ever had. I miss him. More than I thought it was possible to miss anything. When I’m not crying, I’m trying to move on, to keep it together, but the tears come again and again and it’s hard, because death is hard. Because suddenly something you love and cherished is gone, there’s a huge hole but everyone else carries on as though nothing had changed at all. It’s surreal.

So, sod book three. The Forest of Ghosts was the book that was going to feature mr kitty and his two friends, my other cats, Claudia and Meg, and also my friend Nathalie, who died last year. So that is what I am working on. I always went back and forth from that book to book 3, but right now, that’s the book i need to work on, to bring my kitty back, in some form.

mr kit modelling my promotion pens

mr kit modelling my promotion pens

 

Along with that, I am working on a series of nonfiction mythology horror articles. I have a regular spot, which is nice, in Sanitarium magazine. You can read my first article, the Ancient Walking Dead, here: http://sanitariummagazine.com/sanitarium-magazine-issue-29-is-out/ I enjoy writing nonfiction. I did a masters at university, over a decade ago, and this brings me back to that, to the love of research and taking characters apart. I hope you enjoy reading it.

I’ve also signed up for two conventions, one in Bristol in October, and one in Carmathen in March. Hoping they will be fun.

Nano and death and things

Well it’s november so that means National Novel Writing Month. And I am taking part, but the universe wants to make it hard for me! I have my mother visiting in a week, which will make it hard to write, and then just as I start my new project I learn that a friend has died.

I’d known Nathalie for more than a decade. We met on fantasy-writers.org and friended each other on live journal and then facebook. We would chat, on and off, leave comments for each other, mostly about cats. Her cat, Hades, had a brain tumour and his personality changed. He died a few months back and she got a new kitten. When my meg was sick I remember her telling me that I should be there if the vets had to put her down,, that meg would need me. I disagreed, saying Meg wouldn’t notice and it would be too hard for me. But when I picked up meg after she had stayed at the vets for a few days, and she was so happy to see me and purring I realised Nathalie was right. meg would want me there at the end. But I never got to tell her that. And now she’s gone. Died in her sleep suddenly. It happens and it’s scarey and weird when you hear of it, of someone going to bed full of hopes and plans for the next day, for halloween, for xmas for watching their cat and daughter grow, and having it all taken from her in one moment.

So now I’m crying as I write this, as i try to write the Forest of Ghosts. I have a craft fair this weekend, a thing the weekend after. Real life getting in the way, as it will because it goes on, even without Nathalie.

And I just wish I had realised earlier how much a part of my life she was. Even if it was just the internet life.

I’m going to miss her.

But somehow I have to try and write. And try and put her into my book, because a book about cats and ghosts should have one more of each in it. If i can.

National Novel Writing Month

For those who don’t know, this bit of madness takes place in November and the idea is to write 50k within the month. I entered last year with my short story collection, the Child-Eaters’ Society, but didn’t finish. This year I’m doing the Forest of Ghosts, the other novel I’ve been toying with for the last couple of years. You can add me as a friend if you wish, here or just follow my sporadic posts on this blog about the whole melarky.

I designed a rough cover for it all. A simple silly thing but somehow it’s more inspiring to have something to show, to have something to sum up the whole project. Whether I make it to the end or not, we shall see, but I am looking forward to starting.zombies

Out and about

Well, some how it’s October and that means Bristol Con. This year it’s October 26, but at the same place, so if you’re there, come along and say hello. Everyone is very friendly. And this might actually be my last one, perhaps for just a while, perhaps for good, I’m not really sure. It depends on how well sales go, and there are lots of other conventions out there that I would like to attend, some which do clash, and with money woes, I can’t afford to do all of them each year, so have to pick and chose. Speaking of Bristol Con, tho. At my very first one I sold four copies of the Shadow Seer, one to a woman who promised to review it. Two years passed, no review, so I thought she must have hated it, as she said if she did she wouldn’t write a review at all. And then yesterday I found that she had written a review and she loved it. You can read the review here: I am chuffed, I have to say. She says nice things about me AND the book. But, of course, with that chuffed feeling is the self doubt. Is the rest of the series as good? Have i lost my skill? Is it a mistake to set Candale aside for a bit to work on something else? God alone knows! All i can do is feel pleased that I have at least one good book, that someone loves and carry on!

As for being ‘out and about.’ I’m doing another Pagan Market in Dec and next year I plan to do the Cardiff Comic Expo again, and perhaps a convention in Bath. We will have to see. For now, on with the Forest of Ghosts. Let’s see if I can finish it this year . . .

 

August already

Well it’s August. I had a lot planned for this year, things I wanted to do, and have only achieved two of them, I did Race for Life, and I published a short story collection, Rules of War and Other Stories (now available on smashwords, amazon to follow.) Any weight I had lost has gone right back on with three months of laziness and overeating.

But, it’s a new month, and there are still five until this year is over and done (including this one) so its time to get on! Diet beginning again today, gym tomorrow (unless the weather gives me another headache!) and I have set myself a writing target of 30k a month. That’s only 1000 words a day. Easy! But as I’ve been doing so little, having been so stuck, I thought I better start slow! Ultimately I want to finish the whole thing by the end of the year, in rough, but we shall see! I’ll do what I can while I have the motivation! I’ll try and post a word count progression regularly. Until I do, here’s a picture of the new book’s cover.

rules_of_war_cover

It’s pretty fab. If you do get a copy (0.99 cents. Not much else you can get for that) please do review it, and if you like it, tell your friends.

Musings on the new project

Writing something completely new is fun. Four days into Forest of Ghosts and I am still enjoying it. I like having a whole new world, new religion and way of living to create and introduce, and new characters to get to know as they take shape. It’s fun and exciting, the way reading a new book is.

But, also difficult. You have to avoid info dumping, that is, putting too much information about the world, the characters, their settings and history, in one go. But also you have to avoid confusing people, by not explaining things that they need to know about that world or the characters. And there is the problem of everything sounding so very, very stupid! Fantasy and sci fi and horror in particular have this problem. You’re talking about monsters, ghosts, magic, things that don’t exist in the world as we know it, and it really does sound very silly, until you’re up and running and fully into the world that you’re creating.

But, the fun, the excitment, wins out. Anything is possible, when you start a new book. It can go in any direction. And anything can happen with it. Will it be the one that makes my name? Makes me rich and famous and inspires a tv show or film? Probably not, but the chance is there, and that’s exciting too.

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.

 

Ideas.

Ideas. They come from random places. While listening to Paula Cole’s Hush, about a gay boy dying of aids, I got the start of the Shadow Seer. And while watching Sky’s Sinbad, I have ideas for expanding and excitifying my Forest of Ghosts, (though the title is now the City of Ghosts) sadly, I have two projects to finish before I can get on with that. But when I do there will be an abandon city and more ghosts than you can shake a stick at, not to mention the zombie ghost type creatures, and plenty of cats.

As it stands those other projects are moving slowly, due to my love of procrastination. The Children of the Shadow is on hold until i finish my faerie short story for the collection. But then I’m going to push on and finish it. Target is the end of the year, but as previous targets have been May and my holiday in September, who knows if i will do it! When i do a little robot necklace will be my reward. So if i want that necklace, and if i want to write my new project, with all its cats, I’d better stop writing this and get on with it!

Before then, Bristol Con, less than a month. Books are ordered, but until they come I can’t order flyers or poster, so it’s all a little last minute stress. Nothing new there though!

The Forest of Ghosts

Writing a new book is a strange thing. Suddenly you are at the start of something new. New characters to get to know, a new world to explore, new gods, new rules. It can be difficult trying not to repeat what has been written in other works, in not generating the same characters or using the same names or events. After all, those characters created in former works, or events, were loved and useful at the time, why would they not be again? And it has worked for some writers, one of my favourites, David Gemmell, often produced the same sort of female character, tight clothed, messed up in some way, often with a bow, and certainly the same sort of man, good fighter, but driven to what he does because of his past. A skilled killer, with a heart. And the sensitive type, always that hero’s friend. But i love those characters, Waylander, Rek, whatever name they are given, in whatever form they take.

But for me a new project means i can start again and make whatever i want, with whoever i want. Learn from the past, from mistakes in other works, develop characters in different ways, and make something new. Starting the Forest of Ghosts I find that my characters are already talking to me. The hero, Sylan, is older than Candale of Ellenessia’s Curse. He is more together, less flappable, less concerned by clothes and without any close family to put pressure on him. Nor does he develop friendships, especially with women, as easily. There is no Trellany, no Silnia, to protect him, guide him, to be a mother figure. He is more on his own. Sylan’s close friend, Darrian, is a tease, like Teveriel, but less together, in many ways, than the bard of the Ellenessia’s Curse series. This is how they are coming together, and I’m only a chapter in.

Things are different in their world, too. Magic is more accepted, there is a Collegiate for it, the center of magi government, and they rule the city of Eldenhaim which hosts that Collegiate, even though it is officially within the control of the King. Mages have their own system of government, of rule, power over the average mortal, like priests and bishops in our own world, to some extent. There is a fine balance to be kept between the king and the mages of Eldenhaim, which Sylan finds out as the book develops.

There are also cats in this book. Cats based on my own cats. And zombies, at least, zombies of a sort. Not the brain dead, brain munching types of horror, but a slightly more classical zombie, a spirit within a dead body, not necessarily its own!

But so far we are just a chapter in and Sylan, and I, have no real idea what is going to happen (though I have a bit more of an idea than he does) So on i go :)

New project

Rather than struggle through book 3, the Children of the Shadow, and produce something that suffers as a result, i have decided to take a break from it until after my holiday to Chester, beginning of Sept. I’m hoping a change of scenery and that that will get my thoughts whirling again. Until then I am working on a new project, not my faerie collection of short stories, but a novel about zombies and cats, call;ed the Forest of Ghosts. (Yes, it has ghosts too) It’s an idea I’ve had for a long time, set in a completely new world, so new gods, new kingdoms, new rules! I’ve been writing the story of Candale for so long it’s a little odd to do something new, but good, too. So far I haven’t done that much and of course it’s very rough, but I thought i would share the start as a teaser.

So here it is!

The Forest of Ghosts

THE BLURRED MAN

 

He was standing across the street from me, beneath the striped red and white canopy of a butcher’s shop. He was dressed simply in plain brown breeches and tunic. Nondescript clothes, to match his nondescript form, average height and average build. He could have been anyone, any man, doing any job, standing any where, if it wasn’t for his face. A perfect oval of pale pink flesh, framed by shaggy brown hair, nothing remarkable in itself, except it had no features only blurs of colour where his features should be. Brown smudges for his eyes, a red thin smudge for lips, he was an oil painting of a man left in the rain until his face began to run and blur together.

It wasn’t the first time that I’d seen him. In the last six years, or so, I’d seen him a dozen times. There didn’t seem to be any rule to when I’d see him, day or night, sun or rain, town or country, when I was alone, or with company, or hard at work, he would just be standing there, blurred features turned my way. He never moved, he never spoke, and no one else ever showed any sign of having seen him, but I knew he was there all the same, even though I had always been too cowardly to approach him myself. And tonight wasn’t going to be any different. Even if Darrian hadn’t been drunkenly throwing up, rather too close to my feet for comfort, I would have kept my distance. The Blurred Man was the sort of thing that it was better to ignore, than worry about.