So, here I am, again. The thing is…I don’t much like this blog. I like my Live Journal, I like Twitter. A stream of friends and interesting peoples’ musings is much more appealing to my sociable soul than being out here, alone on my little data island. I like the connectedness of some social media. I despise Farcebork.
Facebook is like being on a free-for-all PvP server. It’s ugly, mindless and cynical; a morass of mediocrity and monkey hurled shitballs, with the odd pearl gleaming in the sucking mire.
Like the big girl wot I am, I’m going to try to like this blog. I tried Farcebork with an open mind; I can do no less for this, my very own Fortress of Soliptude.
All things end.
Yesterday, in the beautiful, oil-paint bright sunlight, with the smell of tangy daffodil pollen and freshly turned earth perfuming the lazy air; I buried my Dad’s ashes. I carried the remains of the man who used to piggyback me up to bed, down to the plot.I put the little, but surprisingly heavy box in the hole that had been dug beneath an ivy-wreathed old tree and said goodbye to the best person I have ever known.
All things end.
The other day I found out (although forewarned by a kind person), that a major publisher will not be publishing my novel. I felt a little… perturbed, that the means of discovery was Twitter, but I was also relieved. It wasn’t the longest wait by a long chalk, but five months is long enough.
Since Pops died, the process of submitting my MS to agents and publishers has been, not only glacial and arcane, but randomly punctuated by the most ridiculously grim coincidences. The award for worst timing goes to a rejection from an agent on the day of mi Dad’s funeral. It was surreal; one of those situations where, I don’t know about you, but I had to take a step back; detach my emotions as best as I could, and analyse what was going on from a safe distance slightly outside of myself.
Trust me, when you’ve lived in ‘interesting times’ it’s a useful trick to learn. It’s also great for a writer (although I don’t recommend the method of discovery).
Slightly removed, I observed two little pain rhinos charge from different corners of my heart and clash head on. Naturally, bereavement won — plum smushed the rejection rhino into the hard red ground. But for a moment there was balance. For a moment they were eye to eye, straining for dominance.
It was a, thankfully rare coincidence, one that was exquisitely hard to process or deal with in any other way than to laugh (albeit through tears), at the cosmic bully’s wee jest, and pray that an aeroplane didn’t crash through the roof just to finish things off.
So, here I am today: talking to you with my fingers. I have a publishing deal for The Red Knight with the marvellous Anachron Press. They are a small, but perfectly formed indie publisher. They are also bringing out a fantasy anthology called, Day of Demons, which has my story, The Deal in it. You should read it, it’s acebrillotastic.
I’ve decided to jump horses mid race. I’m winding down the prop making work and concentrating on writing, see what I can come up with when I’m not falling asleep at the keyboard. I have the book after The Red Knight to finish, and a follow up novel to The Deal to crack on with. Life is short, although love isn’t always over in the morning;) Take care peeps.
My Dad died on the 27th of December. I can’t write anything witty or moving, I can’t spare the energy — I need it all just to get through. Inch by inch, I’m just fighting to get away from Ground Zero, to ride the wave, survive the aftershocks.
I know me, I know how hard I can fall and it seems every time I fall, I fall further, and it’s that much harder to get back up. Don’t mistake me; I’m what they call ‘a fighter’ I’ve had to be. One day you and I will sit down with Uncle Jack — we’ll swap war stories, compare scars, but for now take me at my word: no coward’s soul is mine. But the man who used to piggy-back me up to bed, who used to make me porridge for breakfast,without lumps, who shared his own war stories with me when I was older, and patient enough to listen, has gone. And it hurts. Dementia claimed him a fair few years ago, but I miss the man he was and mourn his passing.
Long time no post (no change there then).
Since I last got out the quill and scribbled you a missive, I have writted a short postette on, The Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse site. http://apocalypsegirlsguide.blogspot.com/p/apocalypse-articles.html (Armour up!) I’ve done some work on my second epic fantasy novel in an, as yet, unnamed series (The Red Knight being the first). I’ve also started writing a Verne inspired story, which has all been very jolly.
I’ve got some bones of my epic fantasy down — I already need to change a lot of things, but what I’ve written is useful as it all adds to the background. I think it’s important to write out bits of story that won’t get anywhere near the final cut, but that I know are there… or it might just be a total waste of life. Who can say? It’s just how I roll baby.
So then: Christmas. ‘Tis the time when tradition dictates that we roast a pair of rollerskates, pray to Sirius, and sacrifice felt pens to the holy desk monster…Just my family then?
In truth, I really rather like Christmas, or Yuletide, Festivus/Mcflurrytime — whatever you care to call this particular Midwinter feasting time, by Jingo I likes it.
I (like many others) loved Christmas when I was a kid, however, in my wild yoof it became merely an excuse to get outrageously drunk. Eventually I hunted and gathered a perfectly splendid partner, dragged him off to my cave and spawned, and then Christmas became all magical and sparkly again.
We eat goose, illuminate the ‘hood with shiny (but tasteful for a given value thereof) lights, and get all loved–up, cooking and making ‘stuff’ together. It’s the one time of year when we can lock the door on the world for a couple of weeks and do all those things we don’t do enough of. We play games, watch family TV, and of course, read and write and this year play all the Skyrim in the world without feeling like a zombie at work because there is no work, Huzzah!
Whatever your ‘thing’ is, I hope you get the chance to do lots of it this Christmas. Except killing. None of that, y’hear me? Yes Grandmother, I mean you too.
Peace, love, and Funmas y’all x.
Gosh, been a while since a proper update, but hey, I’ve been busy. I’ve had wisdom teeth extracted, which was all rather ghastly and left me with a giant head and a bit of a Hunchback of Notre Dame (in the style of Charles Laughton) drool going on, but hey ho! Not like I had to go to a wedding or anything…Oh right. Well it was a beautiful wedding, very loved up (I was on drugs, so I might have been a little Woodstock about the whole thing). But yes, from my addled and unnaturally sober perspective it was one of the nicest weddings I’ve been to. The masked ball in the evening was also lovely, though I spent much of it feeling like hammered shit. I did look good though, (style over substance every time), having at the last minute dashed off to the RSC with my partner in crime to blag some costume. I found a frock that was made for the surprisingly petite, Dame Judy Dench. FTW! I initially went for a rather sexeh doublet and hose affair, but his knibbs asked if I’d wear a frock, like a real girl for once. Kinda glad I did but *if* I’d have gone for the doublet and hose (of which there were many fantastic examples) I could have at least pretended to be in Assassin’s Creed. You think me a nerd, sirrah? Well I wasn’t the only one and someone else was rocking that 16th century, swashy buckley look, and no, not in some cheap, joke shop Enzio cossie. My partner in crime happened to be guided towards the regency outfits *cough* Darcy. He was clearly born to wear that kit, ‘nuff said.
Words wise, I’m as close as I have ever been to getting The Red Knight published. I’m therefore working very hard to try to get an agent. It’s all very daunting, I feel like a chicken in a minefield. But I’ve started the second novel in the series…twice. I do have a chapter outline that I really like, but I haven’t got deep in yet. Probably due to having a head like a melon and not sleeping well for the past couple of weeks.
I also have an ache to write a Verne/Conrad inspired novel. It’s taking shape in the danger room part of mi brain. I like the world, and I’m getting my head around the tech. S’all very exciting. Lots of people are doing NaNoWriMo, at the …mo. More power to them I say. It’s odd, it’s not something that appeals, I’m sort of always writing anyway, so it feels a bit redundant (for me), but if it gets more people reading and writing, so much the better.
The first thing I knew about my uncle Jim was that he was a scary bastard. Or rather, not him, but the hand tinted picture of him that sat on the fireplace in *my* bedroom when I was a child. Smart black uniform, cute smile, pencil thin, Errol Flynn moustache. He clearly got all the looks whereas my dear old Dad got to be a Harold Lloyd lookalike. Oh, mustn’t forget: eyes that followed you around the room.
That he had been killed was merely the means by which he was inhabiting the photograph and waiting to kill me in my sleep. It took a while to understand, to not only hear the full story, the personal family myth of how we remember him, but to understand. When I found out that he was killed on my birthday I felt doubly obligated, that I need to live two lives or just this one, only a little bit more. Anyway, here he is; drop by and say hello, perhaps find your own, Uncle Jim or Aunt Jenny.
Brighton was magnificently tawdry and magical, except for the cyclists. Grud on a greenie! Short of having Scythian blades on their Cannodales they are cold hearted killers, dead-eyed, wheeled assassins who offer no quarter to gawking grockles. (I’m joking, please don’t hunt me down and kill me cyclists of Brighton.)
I found an antique/second-hand bookshop that might as well have been called ‘Karen’s World’ based on the window display alone. I only bought a two volume edition of Antonia Fraser’s,The Weaker Vessel. I used to own this as a single volume, but as books are wont to do, it wandered off quite some time ago and I was very pleased to re-acquire it. Alas, I couldn’t get anything else- my case was full of goodie bag loot, and I didn’t fancy London Underground with extra baggage. But I’ll be back, oh yes…
Friday night I spent in my cups, talking crap with Brighton/real world chums until the wee hours. Having been up since 5AM of the previous day, one was, in the words of Puddle of Mudd, a little Blurry. May have drunkenly said “I like your book” once (fifteen) times. Hopefully one didn’t scare the natives too much.
On Saturday I went to many panels and a couple of master classes; every now and then Gaiman’s Collectors would pop into my head. “Wonder when ‘Dog Soup’ is doing a panel…?” that kinda thing. Aside of the pointless flotsam in mi brain, the panels were interesting.
I booked onto two master classes. One was more informative than the other.
The last panel I attended was on ‘Dealing with agents and editors’. It was totally rammed. I had positioned myself at the back, next to the tiny fan, and so sat in relative comfort for the duration. Unlike some members of the Black Hole of Calcutta re-enactment group, who exhibited a goodly amount of stamina. The discussion got a bit bogged down in ebooks, which I suppose is a very important issue for people already in the industry.
I didn’t stick around for the Guest of Honour interview. I figured it would also be rammed. Don’t get me wrong — if I thought you could pick up success cooties by osmosis, I’d have probably tried to brave the crowds and the heat;) OK, probably not. I’d had my fill of hot stuffy rooms by then. But how often do you get to make a sentence with osmosis and cooties in it?That then was my Saturday at Fantasycon 11. I went for another big fat walk around Brighton. No great hardship to be honest (except for lousy phone signal). I saw a fight, chatted to a street vendor who made paper birds, and to a chap selling the Big Issue. So I wasn’t starving for interesting conversation. Oh, and there was the pavillion…
I sauntered through the gardens, dodging jugglers and strollers — breathing in the spicy potpourri of hash, and chips, and cheap alcohol. The late evening sun had been reduced to thick wedges cut into the inkblot shade of encroaching evening. Every angle of the mock Moorish palace, every crease of the stone drapes and cut of fretwork was accented by the dying light and was either sharply dark or glowing gold. There was laughter coming from the pavillion; the ring of glasses. A wedding party was celebrating the nuptials in a place best suited above all others for such revels.
*coughs* Sorry. Where was I before I came over all purple?
Oh yeah. A little foot sore, I retreated to my hotel for a fine dinner of fish and chips, as one does at the seaside. It was yummy and involved talking to people who didn’t think I might want to wear their skin. I ate it with a nice Chianti. And then it was off to bed for this tired wee tourist. I tucked myself up with a cup o’ tea and watched Wolverine (don’t get me started cheri) and Frost/ Nixon. Unfortunately, I fell asleep and missed the end of Frost/Nixon.
I woke up to the wail of sirens, not to be mistaken for the songof sirens, which is quite a different thing, and possibly not often heard around Brighton Pier. No idea where my party animal roomie had got to. Tsk, tsk, kids these days I opened the window and had a look-see.
Opposite the hotel a nest of much older buildings was hemmed in on all sides by their mid-Victorian offspring. The small crowded heart of what had once been a town of modest stature; had been completely cut off from (and by) the affluent city. To see it from my bird’s eye vantage – the locked-in passageways, the thin-sliced bricks, and narrow shuttered windows, all dirt-rimed and perfectly dark, felt like a rare privilege; a glimpse of a forgotten past. Beyond the flaking walls of the fading Victorian edifices, sparkly, lusty, life pulsed along the beer, blood, and vomit-splattered pavement, completely unaware of the sad juxtaposition me and the gulls were privy to.
The staff/volunteers/ crew were very helpful and pleasant and were always patient and polite. The hotel staff were nice enough. The hotel itself was a bit on the decrepit side. Again — one appreciated the shabby Fawlty Towery-ness of the place. Would I have been happy to stay there? Stay there with my family? Hell no!
On Sunday I went to hear a couple of readings, both of which were very entertaining. The convention was gearing up for its award ceremony, and the bar was being turned into a banqueting hall. I said goodbye to the lovely Adele, and managed to swim through the people sea to the railway station. I got there in good enough time to get an earlier train than I’d anticipated, which was great, and left me plenty of time to make my connection in Caer Lud.
Back in sunny Stafford, the clan gathered. The man and daughter, dogs and horse had a brilliant time combat riding in Yorkshire. The boy had been spoilt rotten by the grandparents. The cat hated everyone, and the garden was in desperate need of water. Feeding and watering and fussing was done, data-blasts were given and received. A curry and a bottle of wine later, all was right with the world.
It’s been a long, but productive day. I’ve just about written up the full chapter synopsis for the next novel. Eighteen chapters again. No idea why it came out like that, I think there might be more tbh. I think my chapters are a bit long. I probably need to Michael Bay the fuck out of them. Swish, bang! Two pages max of fast, hawt akshun. But no Nimdars.* I don’t think I could do that, not for all the fanboi lurve in the world. (Yeah. Like, who’s gonna read your shit anyway, Missy?)
Indeed, this is crazy shit. I mean, I’m writing the next novel and I haven’t even found a home for the first. Madness.But it’s the kind of madness that had me grinning like a fool earlier on when a character I didn’t think I was going to use, fit perfectly into a spot all nice and jigsaw like. It is possibly a little too perfect, a little over-engineered. But like Barbossa said, “…It’s more guidelines”. Nothing is cast in stone. The minute these guys start talking it’ll prolly all change. (S’ok, I know they don’t really talk to each other, I know it’s just me…talking to myself.)
In other news: My daughter just showed me some, ‘worst auditions on Xfactor’ Youtube clips. *Shudders* I feel marred. Not so much because of the auditionees (bad though they were), but because it’s the modern equivalent of a Victorian sideshow.
*Nimdars of Japainia. If you’ve ever table-topped, you’ve met someone or played in a game where some hormoned-up youngling wants to be a nimdar. “They’re like ninjas only, you know, they fit into this medieval European setting. Here check out the background, it’s sweet.” A good GM will say “No”. A bad GM will be the one taking the party to ye olde Japainia to get beaten up by Nimdars.
100 word challenge. Topic: Revenge. Word count:99
Fail me, huh? Armoured by dust-crusted dogma, eked out of a second-rate university education, Professor Fuckweasel holds forth before the bored, tweeting masses. I do the apologetic, pee-pee shuffle to the door, slip out of the lecture theatre and,dial the magic number. Nothing happens. Someone bumps me.I rend the anonymous cunt with a glare full of fangs, but they’re already lost in the not-screaming crowd. I hit all the right numbers! Why didn’t the code work? And now I’m too shit-scared to hit them again. Maybe the old bastard was right. Maybe I should drop Electronics.
Since my last post I’ve been to a live role-playing event (photo to follow), and on holiday to Portugal. I also got my first proper, publisher rejection for my novel, The Red Knight. I got the rejection the day before we set off for our jollies. Suffice to say, I didn’t catch as much sun as the rest of the family due to the lil’ old cloud of gloom floating above my head. It was apparently my pitch, or chapter summary that the commissioning editor didn’t dig. What the hell, we’re all friends here, I’ll re-produce my first proper rejection.
My colleague, (name), passed your pitch on to me. It’s a very complex plot and quite difficult to get a handle on. With pitch documents you want to tell the story as simply as possible. Anyway, this isn’t for us I’m afraid, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t try other publishers. Have you made any inroads into acquiring an agent?
All The Best
As rejections go, it was pretty nice I think. The good news is that in a previous email, said colleague said they liked what they’d read of the story. Shame the boss didn’t, but there you go.
So, yeah, my family, my cloud and I have been roaming around the Algarve. We marvelled at ancient Carthaginian and Roman ruins and cooed at Moorish and Templar castles. OK I did that, the family got dragged along and had much more fun playing in the sea and in the hotel pool. I also caught a 24 hour tummy bug, but that’s par for the course. Like a vampire who’s forgotten to put some soil in the coffin, I invariably get a bit ill when away from my native turf, particularly if I’m on holiday and not travelling for a purpose.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, The Red Knight is with another publisher…I think. I sent it after a conversation with one of the editors of said company, about a month ago. I do hope it reached the right desk, not hearing anything gives one the worries. Did I send it to the wrong place? Maybe it got binned and that’s the last I’ll hear, or perhaps electronic data eating aliens scoffed my masterpiece as it whizzed across the wires, or…
*sigh* I just don’t know. I sent a, ‘did you get it?’ email, about a week ago, but that might be breaking the, Laws of Submission. I think the problem lies in that I’m more impatient than submissive.
I’m certainly going to wait and see what happens (if anything) with the publisher who (I think) has it. If it get’s rejected again, I’ll re-write the pitch and the chapter summary- an arcane science in of itself. I’d even go so far as to suggest that before writing a novel, write the pitch. Will I do so? Nah, probably not, but I probably should. Poking through the entrails of the rejection email, I fucked up the pitch. The trouble is I know every nuance, every crack and fissure intimately. I’m not sure how to pick out the broad story, when I see everything as inter-connected and vital. Or, maybe it’s just shit, and I’m a terrible ink-slinger.*
In the meantime, I have decisions to make.
Do I plough on writing the second instalment of a story that I haven’t placed yet? Or, do I write something completely different? I have four other stories, three in a modern urban fantasy genre and another epic, multi-part tale. Actually, after the jollies I have another idea for an epic fantasy story, the guts one might say, but I’m not sure about it yet. Best let it ferment a while, like a vat of the finest garum, all the way from Lusitania. **
*This sentence brought to you by Messrs Doubt & Self-loathing.
**Yes, I saw a Roman Garum production facility in Portugal; it wasn’t quite as cool as the Temple to Baal, but close. ***
***And yes, I am a terrible nerd.