Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Loose Ends, Tight Beginnings – And Lets Not Even Talk About The Middle!


 
Hi Guys,

 
 
 
Been a while since I posted. Mostly because I've been busy with my new book – A Bitter Brew. For the past two weeks since it came back from the first pass by the editor I've been deep in the throws of pulling my hair out and swearing at Track Changes as I tried to accept / reject the untold thousands of edits she made! And I'm sure every other author out there knows exactly what I mean.

But finally – roughly two days ago – I finished it and sent it away for its second run through and I thought I should finally write something. And this time the topic was fairly obvious. Antediluvian writing!

Now I'm not talking here about writing about the pre-flood times. (Though it is an interesting idea.) Nor about the writing that was done before the flood. (Though I'm pleased to report that I have one of the largest collections of pre-flood books in existence with exactly zero books! One of which is entitled – “What's That Big Wall Of Water Coming My Wa …!) I'm actually reflecting on my own writing style – which may be a little archaic for want of a better term.

I always get a bit nostalgic when my latest books away for editing. Especially when my editor contacts me to tell me about the latest fashions which she thinks I should try – in this case a white coat that buckles up at the back! But in this case my nostalgia was brought on by reading some of the critiques done of another fledgeling writer's work.

Now I've said this before, and I'll undoubtedly say it again. Probably until I'm in my grave. There is no right way to write a book! There are no rules of writing! Not every book should be written with minimal description and character development and constant page turning seat of your pants action! And those who give critiques are giving you opinion – no more. The challenge for the writer is to decide whether they agree with those opinions or not.

For me, I like good long reads. I like a complicated world build, an involved plot, and deep character work. My editor does a great job of curbing the worst of my excesses – or else every book I wrote would be a thousand pages long! But always as I go through the changes she's made, I sit there with a single question on my mind – do I agree with each change? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.

And for all of you out there going through the process of putting your work up for critique, this is the same thing you need to do. Don't simply accept what others say. And for the sake of your peace of mind, don't look at all the edits and think – shit I'm a crap writer! I guarantee the same people could make just as many edits on Tolstoy. And in any case this is not a business for the thin skinned.

So simply thank people for their time and effort, and then go through all the comments with with that one question on your mind. Do you agree? Or put another way – if you do what they say will it still be the story you want to tell being told the way you want to tell it?

Anyway, enough whining from me. I've got to get back to writing. And this time I've got caught up in a strange plot involving the missing Roman Ninth Legion, some Celts and a few fae, an alternate world, and a mist that keeps carrying people away. If I don't keep writing I won't know where the story is going! (People keep asking me where I get my ideas. And quite frankly I'd like to know too – because some of them baffle even me!)

So as always, be good or don't get caught.

 

Cheers, Greg.

 

 

 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Mages, Covers and The Woes of Princes

Hi Guys,
 
 
 
 
Tornado Mage by WarNick on DeviantArt
 
Been a while since I last posted, but I've been busy writing so I guess I have an excuse?! In fact I've written a bit over 160K in the last month, which is something of a record even for me.
 
The new book, which is about 80% complete, is called "A Bitter Brew" and is another epic fantasy. But this one's a little bit different to my others. The hero is a mage, but like all those with magic in his world, he isn't called that. He's called "afflicted", and magic is considered a disease. The afflicted have become a lower class in his world, like the untouchables, and are relatively powerless. They're also easily spotted, since as part of their gaining magic, they become marked with one of seven magic metals. In Hendrick's case the metal is Mithril, and the markings run up his entire left arm.
 
In his world - Styrion - the afflicted aren't just shunned. They are discriminated against in law. They may not hold any office or station. They can't enter the capitol city or any Council Chamber in any other. If by chance they have a useful spell, they cannot charge for its use, and if someone in authority asks, they have to provide the magical service immediately and for free. In short they are the lowest of the low, without any hope of improving their lot in life.
 
The reason those with magic are so powerless is that the way they gain their magic is different to that in other books. They aren't born with a talent, and they don't learn it. Instead they pick up a fragment of magic metal, usually not knowing what it even is, and it promptly dissolves into their skin marking them for life. And then instead of acquiring (or absorbing) a whole type of magic, they only acquire a single spell. One spell per fragment. And to add to their woes, there's no telling what spell any fragment contains. It could be a useful one. It could even be a warspell. But the most likely outcome is that it will be something completely useless - the ability to grow body hair for example!
 
This means that most of the magical are left in their world with one or two spells which are of no earthly use to them, and marked as afflicted for all the world to see. Probably the worst of all possible situations for a spellcaster! And yet there is an even worse possibility for some. That they pick up their spells by having the fragment of magic metal touch a part of their body normally covered by clothes, so the markings are hidden. These poor souls are called witches and warlocks, and are considered to be hiding their affliction. Naturally the normal distrust people have for the afflicted is multiplied for witches and warlocks, and in fact they're often simply considered evil.
 
For Hendrick the situation is more complicated still. As well as being afflicted and trying to run a brewery in a small town, he is also a prince - seventeenth in line to the throne - and yet the law actually forbids him from ever assuming the throne or even setting foot in the royal city. So he's a prince in name only, and an outcast! (I so love putting my characters in difficult situations!)
 
Of course I couldn't leave it there - it was just too easy! So naturally I had to give him a sociopathic mother who discarded him in favour of his older, unafflicted brother, and who spends her days plotting against the other wives in the royal household. A father - the King - who sent a squad of mercenaries to kill him on the pretext of escorting him to his latest royal wedding. A brand new step-mother who isn't so much monstrous as actually a monster. And a war. Actually, several wars!
 
So that's where the book begins.
 
Anyway the book is nearly finished, and will probably head off for beta reading in the next few weeks. Meanwhile I'm at the stage of looking for book covers - which is where the image at the top comes from. I was hoping to use it, if I could get it a little modified by the artist, but thus far he has failed to respond to my message. Still it is I think a powerful image and so hopefully he'll get back to me at some point.
 
Meanwhile I'll leave you guys with a rather brilliant word I came across while doing my research for the book. It's a ye olde timey English word which I found and loved - Mumblecrust. And for those of you who, like me had never heard of it before, a Mumblecrust is in fact a toothless old beggar who because of his lack of teeth can't speak clearly - bit like a few politicians I can think of!
 
Cheers, Greg.
 
 
 

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Getting The Little Things Right


Hi Guys,




This time I thought I'd turn my attention to one of the problems that faces all writers, but especially pantsters like myself. Getting the details right. So here I'm talking about the things that in film and tv become known as continuity errors, where for example the hero gets in an overturned yellow sports car with damage in its side and drives away in an unblemished one – Commando. It's also about the issue of major plot holes and nonsensical plots. In Powers for example one of the anti-heroes forces another to help him in a complex prison break to murder a common enemy, simply because there is a “drainer” in it that could rob him of his teleportation ability. Problem is, all he really needed was a pump action shotgun and a balaclava. Teleport in, shoot his enemy in the head, shoot the machine and jump away. Simplicity itself.

These mistakes occur in writing as well as film and television. Sometimes they can be amusing, and occasionally they can completely ruin a book. But whichever they are, they shouldn't be there.

So how do we stop them? Or rather – how do I stop them? You will all have your own ideas as writers.

There are actually two approaches to preventing them from happening. Each approach is based on the style of writer you are. For plotters – those who like to plan out their books in advance of writing them – their approach actually protects them. Not perfectly. But it's hard to write in a plot hole when the plot is already laid out in detail with all the key developments written down in front of them. For plotters the best approach is simply to up their plotting so that their plots, time lines, world builds and character bio's etc, are written down in meticulous detail. A simple fix.

But for those like me who simply like to wade into writing the book without doing anything like that – pantsters – the fix is not quite so simple. For us we generally look at these issues as problems that we get around by constantly rewriting and editing our books as we write, and by being utterly focused on our work. But this isn't always enough.

So speaking purely for myself, I use a second approach. I write out the plot, time line, world build, character bio's, beastiary etc in a second document at the same time as I write the story. And as I write the story I have this second file open beside it. Then as I write I constantly update the data file. So for example for The Wolves of War, I had the story file Wolves in which I was working, and the data file WolvesData both open on my screen at the same time, and I simply swapped between the two as I wrote.

Sounds like a simple fix? It is. And it will save you a thousand headaches, and a thousand questions from beta readers, critics and readers as they hopefully enjoy your work. But I want to extend this a little to show just how invaluable this approach is in your writing for a pantster like me.

To return to Wolves for a bit which is obviously freshest in my memory, I'm going to look at just a couple of places this approach helped me immensely. I'll start with travelling.

Wolves is a traditional epic fantasy, and like many in the genre it involves the characters travelling large distances periodically. As the writer of course, I want for that travel to be realistic. To fit with the distances involved, the terrain crossed, and the means of travel. And I want to synch everything up with the plot so I don't have unreasonable time gaps where people are either not doing anything for excessive and inexplicable lengths of time while other characters are advancing the story, or else, rushing impossibly fast to do things so it all fits together in a logical story arc.

So to do this I include in my data file, two vital sections – the map and the time line.

The map is actually not a map for two very simple reasons. The first is that I can't actually draw a straight line even with a ruler. And the second is that my data file like all my writing is done in an older version of Word which doesn't handle graphics well. So instead my map is actually a series of locations, towns, cities, realms, and their distances / compass directions from another key location. And that actually works better for me than a map would since the distance and the means of travel give me the time taken to get from point A to B. And that in turn gives me a couple of notes to add to my time line as I write. The day the journey began and the day it ends.

In practise this becomes a straight forward approach. First I have the start point of the journey set out and a distance. So say my hero Briagh sets out for the fae realm on foot and carrying a large pack on Day Twenty One. His journey is a hundred and twenty leagues – three hundred and sixty miles. And the terrain is snow covered and flat. I simply estimate how far he can travel in a day under these conditions, and make an estimated time of twenty four days which means he arrives on Day Forty Five.

Now here's where the time line becomes so valuable. Because while Briagh is busy travelling my other main hero {anti-hero?} Elan is busy with her own story arc – arguing with the Court, escaping the city and giving chase for the second time. The time line allows me to place her story, chapter by chapter, at the exact right points in the story so that she can then arrive in the fae realm and start hunting down Briagh at the right time for him to have done what he needed to.

Another section included in my data file is the characters. Now here I don't just include the basic details like name, gender, race etc. I also include a minor biography for the important characters. Who is this man? What are his values? What does he care about? It doesn't have to be much. But it does have to be there. Because in any situation who a person is will determine how he will respond. So in Wolves, Briagh was a thief and a morph. A man whose entire life was based around running and hiding. Not trusting others with his secrets. Fearing exposure. So thrown into a new environment where his secret is known – how is he going to react? The bio is there as my guide to answering those questions, and it like the time line and the plot is being constantly added to as I write the story. {This of course is especially vital when as a pantster I tend to wander between writing different books at the same time and often don't write anything on the same book for days or months.}

Normally I include a beastiary in my data file – for a couple of reasons. The first is that I want a consistent set of creatures in my work that relate to my world. Is my world based on ancient Greek / Roman / Babylonian mythology? If so then I want it to include creatures from those mythologies like hell hounds, cerberi, minotaurs and not those of other mythologies. Similarly I need to nail down the characteristics and abilities of those beasts so that I don't have them doing things that they can't or wouldn't do. For example if a manticore is an ambush predator operating from its den in the forest depths, I don't want it to suddenly be out chasing down its prey across the savanna.

Other sections I usually include are the gods and religions of the world – you never know when you need a good curse or a priest to tell your characters about right and wrong. Likewise I add a language section – terms I use through the book. So in Wolves I took a number of terms from middle English and scattered them throughout the work, simply to keep the steam punk feel of the book alive. {This can be fascinating and fun research by the way, and you can learn a lot. For example in writing the book I discovered the term 'rakefire' which is essentially an over-stayer in an inn who refuses to pay for his lodgings and needs to be booted out in favour of paying guests.}

And last but by no means least I add a comments section. This I cannot stress the importance of strongly enough for pantsters and probably plotters to. This is simply a section where as I'm writing the book I have a random thought eg 'explain the magic of scrying somewhere in book'. This matters because obviously I as the writer know what scrying is and how it works in the book, so as I reread and edit it makes perfect sense to me. But if that isn't in the book somewhere, my readers may be left scratching their heads wondering what's happening.

So to those of you who like to write in the manner I do – by the seat of your pants – this is the approach I use, and I would commend it to you.

Here's hoping you have a great new year ahead.

 
Cheers, Greg.





Monday, 5 December 2016

A Writer's Voice - What is it and Why Does it Matter?


Hi guys,

 
 
 

The wonderful cover art was obtained from SelfPubBookCovers:
SelfPubBookCovers.com/KimDingwall


Well The Wolves of War went out just on a week ago on kindle {and two days later after much hair pulling, wailing and gnashing of teeth, on CreateSpace!}And so I find myself with a little free time on my hands to blog.

This time I thought I'd turn my attention to voice. That almost indefinable something that gets mentioned a lot by writers, and hardly ever explained. But here I thought I'd set out what “voice” is in my view, and why it matters so much.

For me the simplest definition of your voice as a writer, is that it's who you are as a writer. Many people tend to define voice as mostly about prose. Your style of writing. To me it's much more than that. It is the gestalt of everything you are when you put finger to keyboard. So it includes your prose. The way you express your thoughts in writing. And of course it includes things like active and passive writing, purple prose, sentence length and structure and all the rest. But it goes much further than that.

It includes things like word choice and phrases you use. So note that before I used the term “finger to keyboard”. Why? Because it's more representative of current writing methods? Maybe. But also because it sounded better to me to use it there than the more familiar term, “pen to paper”. That is a part of my voice. Where and when I choose to use a more common phrase and where I prefer a one off.

Voice of course goes well beyond this. It impacts on your character creation. What are they like as people? What do you want to say about them? Does it matter to you as a writer if they are pretty people? Good people? What flaws and qualities do you want to write about them? Voice is there in your world build too. What parts of your world do you want to describe? Does architecture matter? Are you more about the detail of the world? Do you prefer instead to paint in broad brush-strokes and metaphor? You see voice in the pace of your writing. Whether you choose to use short, punchy sentences, have lots of action, and be light on description. Or if you prefer longer sentences and to lovingly linger over descriptions.

It's even there in the choice of stories a writer wants to write. Do you like sci fi or fantasy? Romance? Western? Do you want your story to be happy? An epic tragedy? A contemplation on the meaning of life?

And so in everything a writer writes, his writing voice is there. It informs and guides him in a thousand different decisions. And most important of all, those decisions are not usually either right or wrong. They are simply choices.

So if that's what voice is to me, the next obvious question is – why does it matter?

Now here I'm going to start by saying that every writer is or should be on a journey. A writer's journey as they slowly become more aware of who they are as writers, and what they like and dislike. It's not just about becoming a “better” writer, it's about becoming the writer that you want to be. It's about learning to express whatever you want to express, how it seems best to you. And it feeds into self confidence which is absolutely critical.

Many of the best writers I know and love, have very distinct voices. Voices that are so strong that you could pick up a book by one of them, and know who wrote it without needing to check the cover.

So who stands out to me? Stephen Donaldson as always with his longer sentences and detailed, lovingly crafted descriptions. And also with his underlying sadness, which shows through in all his characters and their story arcs. Against him the wonderful Clifford Simak, with his simple writing and bucolic charm. The warmth that shines through in his worlds. And the wry humour too. JRR Tolkein again with lengthy prose and detailed description like Donaldson, but also with a dated {obviously I suppose} style of prose and an almost poetic turn of phrase. And perhaps most important in his work, a clear focus on moral rights and wrongs / values. Dean R Koontz for his not so horror filled horrors where you can open the book and know before you begin reading that his heroes will do okay in the end, and that they will all be remarkable characters with bad pasts who have turned their lives around somehow to become impossibly successful, and yet are just ordinary Americans. {I admit, sometimes that gets to me a little and makes me feel inadequate. Damn – if only I'd been born into unbelievable suffering I could have grown up to become an unbelievably talented and successful artist / writer / detective etc with an utterly virtuous heart!}

Anyway the point here is not that these are good writer's voices. They are in my opinion, but that's not important. What does matter is that these writers have at some point in their journey, discovered who they are as writers. They've found their voices. And as a result they've begun writing their best work. And by best I don't mean that their work is of great literary merit. It may be, but that's not the point. Nor that it is commercially successful. Or that it will go down in the annuls of history as masterpieces. By best I mean that it is true to who they are as writers. It says what they want to say how they want to say it. It is true to them.

By contrast there are a great many writers out there, most of them new to the craft, who are determined to write the next JK Rowling or Stephen King. Not that these are bad goals to aspire to, but are they the right goals for you? Do you want to write the next schoolboy wizard or sparkly vampire? Or do you really want to write the story that's in your heart? The one that's going to emerge onto the computer screen and fill you with pride? The one that's going to be “truly yours”?

As I said at the beginning, I think every writer who is serious about writing, should be on this journey to find their voice. It is probably the most important part of a writing career.

Because of this I would simply add this to those starting out on your journey. Throw away all the writing guides you have. They may be full of wonderful words of wisdom but they are of no use to you at the start. The only book that should matter to you at the beginning in terms of your becoming the writer you should be, is the book you are writing. Instead of reading what others tell you about what to write and how to write it, write what you want to write, how you want to write it.

Yes there will come a time before you are ready to publish, when you'll need to put your work out there for opinions. And it will be hard to show your baby to others and hear criticism about its eyes being too close together. That is just another, difficult step on the journey. But if you've completed the first step in your journey, you should then be able to accept the criticisms and after the tears have dried up, step back a little and dispassionately listen to what was said and ask yourself the most important question. Is what they're saying true to what I wanted to write? Or if I do as they suggest am I betraying my vision?

That is the most important stage in a writer's development. It's hard and it takes self-confidence. But if you can achieve it. If you can hear criticism, weigh it, measure it, decide if it's right for you, and then either use it or put it away when you have to, you have moved from being a generic wannabe writer slavishly doing what other people think you should and following trends, to becoming who you want to be.

You have found your voice.

 

Cheers, Greg.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Wolves Of War Cover

Hi Guys,

Just a short post this time. The Wolves of War is with my editor at present, so I started on the cover and blurb stage. Unfortunately two previous attempts at using photos fell through as each time I found a photo I liked a check of the sites revealed that the owners had no idea who actually took the pictures, and I'm not game to use a photo without the permission of the owner. So in the end I did some shopping and bought a cover. I was going for something slightly fantastic as Wolves is an epic fantasy, and also a little on the scary side but trying to avoid the entire werewolf side, as the book isn't that. 

Let me know what you think.

Cheers, Greg.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Steam-Punk or Not?


Hi guys,

 

 

 

Having just sent my first draft of The Wolves Of War down to my editor earlier this week I had a little time to do some online browsing etc and I found myself intrigued by some of what I read. In particular one forum poster asked me a question the other day that stuck with me, and I thought I'd share my answer with you. He asked me what the boundaries of steam-punk are? When something is steam-punk and when it isn't.

That stuck with me because while I have written some books that I consider as containing elements of steam-punk in them – most notably of course The Arcanist and the upcoming Wolves of War {which I've posted a mock up of the possible cover to above}, I don't consider that I'm a true steam-punk writer. I'm a fantasy and science fiction writer and both of the books I've mentioned are epic fantasy.

So what's the difference? Is steam-punk a sub-genre of fantasy? Or of science fiction? Or is it a genre in its own right?

For me it's a genre simply because steam-punk can't really be fantasy if it's portrayed as possible. And it can't be science fiction if the science is essentially impossible. {I know, there are many science fiction books where you know the science can't possibly be possible – ever. Most of them are that simply because they are dated and science has now told us the truth. But all science fiction books hold out as their basis that single question – what if?} Steam-punk straddles this divide between science fiction and fantasy that makes it quite distinct. On the one hand it doesn't allow for the fantastical and mythical. There are no elves and dwarves. It tries hard to say to the reader – this is real science. But on the other hand the science it uses is completely mythical and can't be anything else.

As a genre steam-punk has two chief features that separate it from others. The first is of course the amazing, improbable if not impossible technology. And the second is of course the era. Traditionally steam-punk would slip somewhere into the Victorian era and the underlying basis of the technology would stem from them. So you would have of course steam power, the beginnings of electricity and magnetism, herbalism rebranded as alchemy or the art of the apothecary and so forth. This is in essence a romanticised vision of the outlook of a Victorian gentleman or woman, discovering these new technologies all around him and thinking the secrets of the universe are just around the corner.

To explain this perhaps a little more clearly, think of the classic Frankenstein. You can just imagine Shelley and Byron and the others sitting around in their parlours after dinner discussing the wonders of this new technological age, and in particular the experiments of Galvani as he made a frog's leg twitch with the application of electricity. And you can see the logical extension of this in their minds as they considered that he'd discovered the essence of life. And in fact there is a story {probably just a story} that Percey Shelley tried to reanimate the body of his first wife this way. From there it was a short step to the age old riddles of resurrection which was suddenly possible through electricity and alchemy. Only now it was reanimation via science, and then of course there were the inevitable consequences of playing God.

So from today's perspective, knowing that this sort of reanimation is impossible, that life and electricity aren't the same thing, that alchemy doesn't work, we can see this as an early example of steam-punk. Though of course when it was written it wasn't. It was a straight up science fiction / horror novel. Taking the knowledge of the time and extending it and then saying – what if? Which in itself raises an interesting question. In a hundred years time will the science fiction we write become the steam-punk of their age? Will our descendants laugh at our simplistic and unrealistic ideas and yet write books based on the dreams we have given our technology?

But getting back to the topic, this then is the heart of steam-punk. Putting ourselves back in the past, to an age that we can romanticise, and then taking the technological dreams and wonders of those times and fashioning them into a story. It is more complicated and confused than that of course, as there are a thousand different variations on the theme. And of course there are derivatives like diesel-punk, gunpowder-punk and maybe cyberpunk {I'm really in two minds about this genre as it's been around for so long and speaks less about the technology in my view and more about the nature of the human condition.}

The next question is when does a story go from being one in which there are steam-punk elements to a true steam-punk story? To me that's when the steam-punk technology goes from being mostly part of the world build to an actual plot element. This is why Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is not a full blown steam-punk novel in my view but rather a fantasy with steam-punk elements. Because while the story contains the elements of steam-punk – specifically the impossible technology, the mad inventor Professor Caractacus Potts {i.e. Crackpot} and indeed the car itself is practically a character in the work, it's not the basis of the plot. And in truth it's accepted in the story that what the car can do is not actually possible.

By contrast Wild Wild West for those who've seen the movie, is steam-punk in my view. The technology, though we know from sitting in our twenty first century homes that it's complete balderdash, is not just set out as completely feasible and justified by various ludicrous theories, it is part of the plot. It's what allows the villain to dream of taking over the country, and what makes the hero capable of catching him. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for all its wonder, is just a vehicle {pun intended!}

So this leads us to the other half of the question. When does a steam-punk story, leave the realm of steam-punk? Because there are plenty of stories out there where steam-punk is not just part of the world build but also a key plot element, but which are still not steam-punk.

To me there are two main reasons why a steam-punk work leaves the realm. The first is magic. And by this I don't just mean the existence of magic in the world build as a legitimate force of nature though this is part of it. I mean the acceptance either tacitly accepted or specifically mentioned, that the technology is itself magic. This is why for example The Arcanist is not a steam-punk novel.

To explain this consider Herbie – the spiritual successor I would guess to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The technological wonder of a car that does impossible things. Herbie could never be steam-punk, because it's accepted that what the car does is impossible. And the explanations given are that the car was simply built better or has a big heart. In doing so the story immediately gives away any pretence that Herbie is possible based on the technology of the time.

Then contrast Herbie with the Nautilus from Verne's Twenty Thousand leagues. The submarine even though we know it could not be built from our twenty first century knowledge, is based on the extension of what was believed to be known of science at the time. Even though the author did not have the knowledge to explain it exactly, its conception is completely in keeping with the beliefs in technology of the time. Thus Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is either tacitly accepted as living or magical in some way, Herbie is “alive” and the Nautilus is a technological wonder rooted in the imagined science of the age. It is only a wonder in that it is so advanced.

The other thing that ironically enough may take a story out of the genre of steam-punk is industrialisation. Mass production. Now here I'm not saying that the story can't take place in a world where the industrial revolution has happened. Obviously it can and in fact in Wolves it does. But the key feature is that that industrialisation cannot apply to the chief inventions themselves.

Consider the Nautilus again. It is a technological wonder because it's so advanced and nothing like it has ever been built before. But if mass production applies to it and there are suddenly others like it – it's no longer a wonder. It's just a sub and Twenty Thousand Leagues is just an adventure story set on a submarine. Think of Frankenstein. If the exact nature of reanimation is known and there are others around who have been reanimated through technology, then Adam is no longer a one of the kind tortured soul / monster looking for the acceptance of a father. He's just a reanimated man and it's a simple family drama.

The fact is that these technological wonders must be wonders even if they are rooted in the science of the world build. They must be one of a kind, extraordinary things – usually created by mad scientists in private labs or workshops – that go far beyond anything the rest of their fictional world can conceive of. They cannot be mundane.

So for example in The Wolves of War my villain who is the technologist of the piece, has a pistol that fires bombs, a bracelet that shoots lightning, and a miniature steam wagon that can drive through a forest. Things that make him a formidable and deadly enemy. And things which the rest of the characters have never before encountered and have to deal with.

Anyway guys, that's my take on steam-punk. You will all no doubt have your own thoughts.

Cheers, Greg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Even The Penguins Are Freezing!



Hi Guys.

 
 

Haven't posted anything for a while as usual – this time mostly because I haven't had much to say. But just at the moment I feel inspired.

It may have something to do with the polar blast that seems to be streaming up the country at the moment. The big chill certainly doesn't inspire me to head out of the house any more than absolutely necessary, which leaves me stuck in front of the computer more often. That would be good except that I'm also sure my fingers have frozen to to the bone which makes typing difficult! Fortunately my cat has selflessly volunteered to take over the writing duties by sleeping on the keyboard at every opportunity. Unfortunately I have no idea at all what she's been typing. I just don't read cat!

Then again it could be because of the latest news in the world of writing which is a disgruntled author who has apparently been turned down three hundred and nineteen times by agents and decided to have a bit of whine about it. Unfortunately not about being rejected so many times, just about the latest agent to do so and her appearance, dress sense, and motives for not paying him the attention he so richly deserves. I won't mention his name or give a link – because I'm just cynical enough to suspect he may have written such an offensive piece simply to gain publicity and if so I don't want to help him. It'll be easy enough to find his blog and the endless scathing reviews of it if you just google “how to get yourself blacklisted” since it's gone viral.

But in the meantime to said author – dude a few words of advice;

First, agents are people too. Yes I know it's hard to believe, but personal attacks will not endear you to them. And yes, the rest of the writing community is largely unimpressed by your rant too. So you probably have got yourself blacklisted. Congrats!

Second, despite your rant, you actually know her motivations. She wants clients with books that are going to sell and make her lots of money. Was that not perfectly obvious from the start? So why did you even bother going to see her if you weren't prepared to sell her your book on that basis?

And third and probably most critically – three hundred and nineteen submissions?! Did you get dropped on your head at some stage?! It's time to go indie and let the readers decide whether your book's any good. Though I'd probably put it out under a pen name if I were you. Readers also read blogs, and most I suspect won't be any more impressed by your rant than I was.

However, to switch to a more positive note my latest space opera “Spaced” has now completed two full edits with Tickety Boo Press and I believe they're just finishing up now as they prepare to publish. So really looking forward to that. It's been a challenging process, using different editors with different styles and an emphasis on different aspects of the writing, but I think well worth it. So I'm hoping you'll all agree and it sells well and I can afford some new winter thermals!

Anyway, must get back to freezing to death! But looking forwards to the news in the next few days. Selena Gomez is coming to town for a concert, and I'm expecting records to be set. One in particular. Most concert goers ever to come down with hypothermia in one go! Also her new single which is really quite good may well be retitled after the event – Killing them with Frostbite!

Stay warm guys!

 
Cheers, Greg.