Monthly Archives: April 2014

Guess What The Postman Brought Me This Morning

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Finally, A Bright Power Rising is available in paperback. Personally, I feel that it looks splendid. Its 5×8″ (my favorite book size) with cream paper and a matte finish cover. I never imagined that I would know the specifications for my favorite book size or have strong opinions on paper quality and cover finishes, but I do now!

It looks good on the shelf too! It nicely blends in.

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My biggest concern was the layout of the maps in the paperback. That was why I hired Polgarus Studio to format the book for Createspace. Not only did Jason and Marina ensure that the maps were perfectly legible, but their layout was better than anything I could have imagined. They did a fantastic job and were worth every cent of their price. I am so glad I sought their help.

The maps are absolutely perfect!

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As an aside, I needed both hands to hold the pages open so this picture was actually taken by my nose.

Of course I also have to thank Rob Antonishen for his foresight in his map design. I also have to thank the ever-dependable Marek Purzychi who converted his original design into a paperback cover.

The book is currently available Createspace (https://www.createspace.com/4764841) and will be available on Amazon in five to seven days.

Ten Reasons Why The Golden Rule Is Going To Be A Duology

(1) The story is too long for one book and too short for three.

(2) Because it is two volumes, it can’t suffer from middle book syndrome.

(3) I like succinctness.

(4) If it was one volume, the paper copy would have such a wide spine, it might be mistaken for an accordion.

(5) Empty shelf space in my house is limited.

(6) At the moment, each volume has a beginning, a middle and an end. If there were three volumes, the first volume would have a beginning and a middle, the second volume would have an end followed by a beginning (really problematic), and the last volume would have a middle and an end, but no beginning.

(7) Almost everyone writes big, fat fantasy books in three volumes. I like to be different by err…writing them in two volumes.

(8) In a multi-volume series, some concepts might have to be explained in each volume. I hate repeating myself more than once.

(9) I could only think of good titles for the series and two books.

(10) Anyone who reads the books will understand that two is the ideal number concerning any story involving Ors.

 

Why the worst book I ever read inspired me to write.

If I gave you its name, you wouldn’t know it.

I discovered it in the only English bookshop in Nice. Buying it was an absolute act of desperation. I read mostly SF and fantasy, and this was the only book in the shop I hadn’t read before. That’s not due to my encyclopedic reading but the sparsity of choice.

I have a problem with books. It is a stupid kink in my character. If I start a book, I must finish it, no matter how brain-rottingly bad it is.

It was a typical fantasy – the size of a brick and nearly as heavy.

The world made no sense. The characters’ actions made no sense. I remember the hero’s spirit was transferred to the body of a dead girl to hide him from pursuing villains. I remember thinking that was a bit of an extreme reaction.

There was an underlying seediness to what happened to some of the minor female characters that turned my stomach.

To this day, the phrase “beautiful cornflower blue eyes” affects me like rubbing bits of polystyrene together. It was repeated so many times, it had a mesmeric quality, draining my will to live.

The only good thing I learned from it was the use of cliffhangers at the end of each chapter to draw the reader on. The problem was that the cliffhangers did not move the plot forward.  They worked like this:

Chapter 10

…Something pushed her face down in the water.

Chapter 11

She stood up in the pool. The water was just up to her ankles. “Why did you push me?”

I actually gave the book to friends for Christmas as a joke (having already made my feelings about it loud and clear). The joke kind of backfired as they reciprocated with another book by the same author. I still have it. Unread.

Anyway, at the time, I had kind of given up on writing. I had been writing the first page of the same novel since I was fourteen (that’s a story for another post).  But this book inspired me to start tapping on the keyboard.

I wanted to write something different. Something better. Something that didn’t make me cringe.

 

The Ten Steps To Being A Really Slow Writer

Often writers post about how to write faster. However, someone who knows I am a slow writer asked for advice on how to emulate my speed. “Why are you such a slow writer?” he said.

Most writers cite distraction as the primary cause of slowness. Antisocial media together with the daily grind of work and household chores can all swallow up your writing time. But that is too easy. Anyone can do that. You never even have to sit in front of your word processor to never sit in front of your word processor.

The true master can be slow without any distraction whatsoever.

The answer isn’t found in the technology of writing either. Unless you use a quill…and you prepare quills one at a time…plucking each feather from a live fowl after chasing it to exhaustion. Technology is all about speed. It wants to record your thoughts before you ever have them. A bad workman blames his tools. A slow workman cannot depend on his tools for his slowness.

A writer must find his slowness in his own soul.

These are my steps for slow writing.

1) Stare at the blank screen till your mind is empty, and you have become one with the blankness.

2) Try to think of the best sentence ever written. Feel the impossible burden of such a lofty goal.

3) Write sentence. Obsess over every word. Check spelling of every word. Check grammar.

4) Delete line because it isn’t the best line ever.

5) Repeat steps 2-4 till your goal naturally slips to the best line you can write. Then do Step 3 and skip on to Step 6.

6) Reread what you have already written.

7) Write new sentence. Obsess over every word. Check spelling of every word. Check grammar.

8) Reread what you have already written.

9) Compare new line to your old stuff. If it is not as good, delete.

10) Repeat Steps 6-9.

Of course, you may fear that you will still make too much progress. It might take less than a decade to write your book. Don’t panic!

In effect, this is exactly like a painter painting one dot at a time, working across the canvas over and over from the top right hand corner to the bottom left hand corner, obsessing about every detail but never looking at the bigger picture. While each individual part might sparkle, the sum of the parts might be a little wonky. So time to revise. Plenty of opportunity to delete all those perfect sentences and replace them with new lines that you can obsess over!

A Bright Power Rising

A Bright Power Rising is now up on Amazon. It will be available on Createspace, Kobo etc. in due course. It is still sinking in that it is finished. Obviously, there is the second volume to be completed, but it really does feel like closing a chapter in my life. Thanks to Claire Ashgrove and all at Finish The Story for all their editing help.

Anyway to celebrate, here is the prologue:

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Never enter the forest.

The Gilt Spider, the Elfin hunter of men, waited there with webs of silken gold to catch naughty little boys. Granyr had warned her son many times. Why had he not listened?

Because he was too young, still clumsy at speaking, grasping only half of what was said to him. The fault was hers. She should have kept a better eye on him. A moment of distraction had robbed Granyr of her reason for living.

Stifling her sobs, trying to rub away the tremble in her hands on her skirt, she stared helplessly at the wood encircling her farm. There was no time to search the house and shed again, not if he had blundered into the forest.

The sensible course, however demeaning, was to summon help from Pigsknuckle. If she raised the alarm, the villagers would form search parties and cover a lot more ground than she could alone. But her heart screamed otherwise. If they had let her settle in the village instead of this wild, lonely place, her child would be safe. If her husband was still alive, things would be different. She fought unwanted images of a great, y-shaped cross drenched in his blood. This was his family’s reward for his sacrifice: his wife made a pariah; the son he had never seen lost and perhaps dead.

May the Forelight damn the Pigsknucklers for their conceit. She had to find her boy.

Instinct, primal and desperate, swept her forward, her son’s pet name bursting from her chest. “Lilak, where are you?”

As she punched her way into the monster that had swallowed her child, briars mauled her face and hands, tugged and tore at her dress. Her gaze sifted the sun-dappled gloom. Any glimmer of movement might be her son. She tried to steady her rasping breath to hear his plaintive whimper.

Soon, she was adrift in the monotony of the forest, as lost as the child she sought. She shivered at the prospect of the approaching night, an inevitable pall declaring all hope dead.

A howl filled the forest and reverberated through her. Other wails rose up in answer. Her fingers sought her knife, but the scabbard was empty. She groaned at her stupidity. The blade lay in the hut, forgotten in her panic to find her child. She could only guess at the proximity of the wolf pack, but if they found her unarmed and alone, they would kill her.

Granyr searched the forest floor for a fallen branch to use as a club. Most were too rotten, too flimsy, or too unwieldy, but she eventually found a suitable one. The rough bark of her makeshift weapon chafed against her calloused palms. Its heft was reassuring, though it would be no match for a wolf pack.

A high-pitched squeal tore through the wolves’ madrigal. Her terror forgotten, she rushed toward the cry, her cudgel cradled in her arms. It had to be her son.

The howling ceased. Barking and snarling tore apart the silence. A lupine yelp was cut short by the sound of a heavy blow.

She veered toward the noise. Hunters must have happened upon the wolves’ trail. Help was nearby.

She heard the whisper of the stream before she stumbled upon it. Blood tinged its trickling waters. Shivering at the prospect of what she might find, she headed upstream. A lupine corpse bled into the brook—its body twisted awkwardly, the skull crushed in and its lower jaw unhinged and hanging in an incongruous grin.

Another yelp alerted her that the wolf’s slayer had struck again.

Granyr rushed toward the cry. Beneath a broken tree stump lay another dead wolf. Rivulets of blood flowed down its muzzle from a single puncture wound between its eyes.

A soft whine drew her attention to the bushes to her right. She cautiously probed the foliage with the club. The stick brushed through the leaves unharmed. Raising her weapon above her shoulder, she stepped into the thicket.

A snarling frenzy of fur, legs, and jaws writhed in mid-air in front of her. She brought her cudgel down on the beast, delivering a glancing blow that sent it into a convulsion of rabid barks. Unnerved by the futility of her strike, Granyr stared uselessly at the creature as it swayed from side to side. It took time to gather her thoughts. The wolf posed no threat. Hanging up-side down by one paw, it could not reach her.

She glanced up at the rope from which it dangled. It was a light yellow-green cord, surprisingly slender given the weight of the animal it held. No mortal hand could make a rope so fine. The maker of the trap was not a Stretcher, like her, or even human. It had to be the Gilt Spider. The trap holding the wolf had been intended for unwitting trespassers in the Elf’s domain.

The memory of a thousand childish nightmares made her back away from the wolf. She turned and ran in no particular direction. The forest whirled dizzily about her. A gantlet of branches lacerated her face and hands.

She burst from the oppressive gloom into the clearing around her home where she collapsed weeping and pounded the ground beneath her fists. Lilak was still lost somewhere in the maze of shadow behind her, perhaps already the Gilt Spider’s prey.

“Forelight, I beg you. Protect my son,” she pleaded, but her heart cried otherwise. The saints claimed that the Forelight was love itself, but what love had he shown to her? He had stolen her husband and now her boy.

She picked herself up. Her grubby fingers tried to brush away the blood, sweat, and dust caked to her face. The sun was already slipping behind the holy mountain called the Pig. Night was spreading over the valley. She couldn’t abandon her son to it. She needed a torch and her knife.

Utterly spent, she trudged toward her home, dreading its chill emptiness.

A healthy pillar of smoke rose from her home. Surely, by now, the fire should be ash. A small figure stood at the entrance. She quickened her pace. Aching muscles strained as she ran to her son and clasped him to her bosom. Here was Lilak, alive and safe! Praise the Forelight! Someone must have found him, the same person who had tended the fire, but that mystery could wait. For this exquisite moment, it was enough to embrace her son, to feel his arms hugging her neck; to have his sweet, childish babble tickle her ear. The horrors of the forest no longer mattered now. She had Lilak again.

Granyr gently held him at arm’s length. “Never wander off again,” she chided, attempting to conceal her relief with a frown. “Do you promise?”

Lilak nodded with innocent solemnity. She pressed him to her once more. Something in his hair attracted her attention, an alien thread of gold among the black. Its significance squeezed her chest so tight she could hardly breathe. The real Lilak, her Lilak, was gone forever. The Gilt Spider had taken him and what stood before her was a cruel fraud.

She shoved the sham boy away and screamed.