‘All the cats in Paris are wearing them…’

Just a quick personal aside:

I’m currently playing host to two very disgruntled kits, who were taken to be spade on Wednesday (part of the agreement with the rescue centre we got them from). Both are currently modelling those cone shaped hats designed to stop them from pulling at their stitches. With very poor grace. Said cones also restrict their movements, meaning that any clambering onto laps etc requires slightly more claw-work than it used to (though I’m of the opinion they’re milking this handicap a little more than necessary, as a means of getting back at us).

Affirmations of how lovely they look seem to meet with a sullen glare, and scratching behind their ears seems to be the only thing that will restore me or my other half to feline good books.

Roll on Tuesday, when the collars can come off.

The story so far

Morning all.

I’d like to begin by with a quick (belated) ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ to all those stateside. I didn’t realise until that evening that I’d actually organised my own impromptu thanksgiving dinner – had some friends round for food and wine (and vodka, and Guinness with champagne…).

Anyway, I digress.

I wanted to explain where I’ve got to at the moment, and how I got here, for those of you who may have missed my earlier posts. A ‘Story so far’ if you will. As with any burgeoning author, my work originally began (as I mention in my Bio) as something of a hobby, but has grown steadily to the point where I set out on the current project with the very definite intent of putting my stuff out there, for others to read and enjoy. As such, what I’ve written this time has been produced with greater self-awareness, perhaps, than my previous efforts, and also with an eye on its commerciality. I’ve tried to write something that will sell, that is relevant, but that brings something new to the table. I think it was Stravinsky (a musician, yes, but the principals still apply) who started each new round of composition by limiting himself, applying rules that the work must adhere to, as he recognised that truly great art cannot encompass everything at once. Some of you may disagree with that, but I’ve always found it to be a useful maxim. Certainly, it’s one of the things I took away from my degree.

So, I won’t bore you with the actual ins and outs of the creative process here. I’ll perhaps look at publishing those at a later date, if it seems appropriate (read: if my book actually proves itself, and therefore the process, to have been worthwhile. No point shouting about something that’s a flop). But suffice to say, two years and change later I’m sat here, with a novel on my hard drive and nowhere to go.

Now, I’ve been down this road once before, back at the start of the current millennium. Didn’t go well for me then, despite doing all the things that I’d read an author should do: spending hours pouring over the ‘Writers Handbook’, carefully picking out likely looking agencies and publishers to send copies of my work to (some of the refusal letters I received were priceless. One in particular I wish I’d framed – still makes me laugh to this day).

There are two positive things I took away from that experience. One was knowledge: how the process worked, how to present myself etc. The second was a phone call from a publisher whose name I sadly can’t remember, who took the time to call me and, after apologising for the fact he wasn’t publishing at the time due to personal troubles, told me to keep going, and not to give up. Without that little ray of sunshine through the clouds, I think I would have given up long ago.

Sadly this time, as above, I’ve had no luck with the wonderful people of the UK publishing world, due in some part (I tell myself) to the current fiscal problems that grip the world. There was one voice of interest, but it was from a publisher named Austin and Macauley, asking for about £3K to put my work out there. A couple of trawls of the internet confirmed my suspicions that they were not to be relied upon, so I have politely declined their help.

So I found myself washed up on the shores of self publishing. Not a bad place to be, as I’ve seen from several of the people I’ve crossed paths with over the last month or two on various social forums. And realistically, several people seem to be positing, the way things are going to go, in the long run. Now I, for one, will never be weaned of my need for actual, physical books. I do, yes, plan to avail myself of a Kindle in the new year (other e-readers are, of course, available). But I fully intend to make the odd exception. At present, I only buy myself paperbacks; hardbacks may only be acquired as gifts (its a financial choice as much as anything). I do think books will eventually become the rare treasures they once were again, to be cherished as such. Stories – novels – will never die, but the form they wear will change. So I look at the position I am now in as simply ‘joining the revolution’.

So there you have it. A brief history of The Orphans Revolt, complete with annotations and asides. As mentioned in my Lit Ped, I’m hoping to bring it out into the light at some point next month. Will keep you posted.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Beyond the Thunderdome

So I spent my Sunday afternoon sketching out the above. Reason for this was two-fold:

1. I like drawing dragons.

2. I needed to get sorted in my head properly how the Drakes look, before I click buttons and make my choices final.

Reasonably happy with how this one came out. Apologies about the quality of the image – I drew it on A3, as wanted to be able to get as much of the wing detail in as possible but still be able to do the body justice. Unfortunately this means that I can’t scan the image (as I would otherwise do), as my scanner only takes A4.

Still, you get the idea.

This sketch also did that thing a lot of my better artwork does where it started out well, then all seemed to go a bit pooh in the middle, but turned out fine in the end. Have learnt through many years of trial and tribulation to ignore the middle bit, where I think its all a bit shit, and power through to the end, as 9 times out of 10 it ends up brilliantly.

Art is a messy process, its not gona look pretty in the middle.

Can’t help feeling that this particular dragon (who isn’t supposed to be any of the characters from the book) has ended looking just a teensy bit like Tina Turner (hence the title). I think its the hatching over the eyes (supposed to be eyebrow spines), and the slight pout that do it.

That and the scary warrior queen markings it’s got going on.

Anyway, I’m off to be stabbed with needles.

Enjoy.

Back cover write up

Almost there with the cover.

It occurred to me over the weekend that I’ve not really said anything on here regarding what my book, The Orphans Revolt, is actually about.

If you’re the sort of person (like me) who prefers not to read the back cover, look away now…

Our story follows the lives of five individuals: Rivan, Caitlin, Marcus, Ikari and Timo.

Rivan and Caitlin work as Consorts within one of the Manses that people Kharpal’s infamous Pleasure Quarter. The quality, and pliability, of the flesh on offer there is just one of the reasons for the old pirate port’s popularity as a meeting point, for traders and goods from about the Arc Sea and beyond. Cat’s life takes an interesting turn, if not quite the one she’d hoped for, when she’s asked to take on Marcus as a client. Mark is a Daiku, someone who can tap the energies of the Garden, wielding them as he pleases. She accepts, little realising she’ll soon be seeking his help to salvage her friend Rivan’s sanity.

Meanwhile, Ikari, a young member of the enclave of Nym who inhabit the highlands of the island of Faeron, is given a mission. Something unquiet has disturbed the ancients of his Grove, who slumber with roots taped into the energy flows of the Garden. His superiors decide to send him as envoy to their sister Grove, at Carpassan, just west of Kharpal. There, he will seek council from Suchain, one of the oldest living Nym not to have surrendered himself to sleep, and one of the few people still alive who remembers the Congregate’s revolution against its immortal aristocracy, some one hundred and eighty years ago.

Whilst Ikari begins the long trek down to the coast, Timo has the relative mundanity of his life broken by a request from Kirigama, the Drake whom he counts as a friend. The Congregate, whose Senate forms the ruling body for most of the lands of the Arc Sea, is experiencing a period of turmoil, brought on at least in part by the self imposed exile of its figurehead, the Emperor Railu Soone. He has been hiding away at his Summer Residence since the death of his wife, but things are about to change, as an his nephew brings news of the events that have disturbed both the local Daiku, and the Groves on Faeron and at Carpassan.

Kir asks Timo to spy for him and his fellow Drakes, seeking knowledge of what they have found…

So, there you have it. Hopefully you’re suitably intrigued.