Thursday, March 20, 2008

A new poll question!

All I can think of - other than that I am doing prayers for church this Sunday - as in Easter Sunday (dun dun dun) a bit of a responsibility - not sure if I can be trusted... I find writing prayers harder than MBT, would you believe it - but otherwise all I can think of is: nominative, vocative, accustative, genitive, dative, ablative - nominative, vocative, accustative, genitive, dative, ablative - nomi...

Oh - and I formulated a new poll question for added Easter fun; just think of it as a little digital chocolate egg... or don't, as you see fit.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Is it May yet?"

Pertinent title provided by Kate, I myself am getting very impatient, but day by day we are getting closer to release.

Last post madbomber said: "As I read your post it occurred to me there aren't any cool kids in Latin class..." and it got me thinking, what is cool anyway? Now, I have never been "cool", surprise surprise - except in the art room. By this I mean I have never fit with that fickle bunch of alpha kids lording over the rest at school. But then there were always levels, the sporty cools, the smoking, Dead Kennedy's listening cools (almost made it with these fellows, learnt lessons about being true to myself here), the funny, sassy cools.

And what is cool in the adult world? I mean, one of the defining characteristics of the 'nerds' at school was/is their passion, their love and devotion to something more that looking unaffected and detached and wearing the right things. In adult life this seems to often grow into success, so do the nerds become the 'cool' ones (if cool is measured in professional success)? Does nerdiness become coolness once you grow up? Or is it that as you get on you reconcile that 'cool' and 'nerd' are just nonsense and get on with life as you find it as best you can?

I think I am rambling now...

Pete was asking: "I know you've answered this before, but I can't for the life of me remember what the answer was. How does one go about posting an illo with their character bio?"
I think the best thing to do for those of you interested would be to send me an image via email (which you will find in my profile). For those of you who do not know what we are talking about it is reference to a bunch of questions I posed late last year - feel free to answer if you like, I put up peoples' responses on the right just for a bit o' fun [TM]. and any illustrations of their character, if provided, hence the question from Pete.

I really am in a rambly frame of mind today - hope this bodes well for the day's word-count... this might give my US publishers some kind of heart-attack (ie not fast enough for them) but I am currently at 41,000 words for Book 3 as of penning this - my target being about 100,000. Getting there, getting there

BTW, I noticed a little while ago that li'l old MBT Book 1 got noticed on Does this mean Rossamünd has made it? It is too early to be so cheeky, really, but this attention has set in me a notion to one day ask if Harry and Rossamünd would be friends if they met, and who'd win a fight between them. But this would be silly, not to mention presumptuous, so I won't (and mostly because I don't think I'll like the answer...)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Vade Mecum

I have begun Latin lessons today!

Yes, just when I had successfully presented the illusion of being a Latin expert (thanks to my trusty Collins Compact Latin Dictionary and some advice and assistance from femina) here I am bursting it with admissions of banal humanity.

It was a mere introduction - a potted version of Roman history with Latin phrases thrown in for relevance. For example the title of this post actually means (or so I am told) "come with me" and was used when referring to a diary or information guide or even a notebook! Feeling suddenly very smart, I wrote "VADE MECUM" proudly in the front of my newest notebook.

Very odd to be back in a classroom (of sorts) again. I wonder if I will be one of the cool kids or with the uber-nerds as usual.

I am feeling greatly improved in spirits, thank you in no small part of the encouragements left last post. To those of you who reached out and gave a little, I am so very grateful.

Book 3 proves to be a different road again to the last two books, but a common problem haunts me - I think I am getting bogged in minute details at the expense of character and - more importantly - relationships.
(Don't tell anyone I admitted this or some might think I am human after all and not some word-smithing demi-god whose every turn of phrase is pure uneditable poetry...)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Flat Stanley

Feeling pretty low at the moment - no good reason to, just been on a peak with Book 3 for the last few weeks and the inevitable trough has arrived. I don't know why books just can't write themselves then give their "authors" the glory...

Sorry to be a downer for you all. May be it has something to do with the fact I have not had breakfast yet today?

Happy note: Benjamin Lacombe has posted the finished illustration and design of the French cover for Terres des Monstres: L'enfant Trouvé (Monster-Blood Tattoo: Foundling and actually meaning "land of monsters: the found child"). The site is, unsurprisingly, in French, but the images speak in every language and they are tre magnifique!

It is a beautiful thing to share.

Also, just in case it was not noticed, I have refreshed the character profile - now Citizens of the Hlf-Continent - with a new personage of the H-c. I hope it is edifying.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Europe - Stages of Development

Today I reckon I would like to show folks the growth of Europe's character design. Being one of what I think of as the intermediate stage characters she pops first into existence in 2001.

This was back when frockcoats and jackcoats were not yet a major feature of the Half-Continent. What she wears is called a lambrequin, what I have now-a-days as cheap easy to produce proofing for quickly armouring a semi-professional mass. As you can see the crow's-foot hair tine has always been a feature. Indeed, early on the day I penned this, I was drawing a crow for a puzzle at Catchphrase and thinking the structure of their feet was rather exquisite - one thing flows into another. At this stage Europe is a slightly friendlier soul.

And so she remained until 3 years on I have an opportunity to put her in a story and there she gets meaner, colder, sharper and I needed to know how she appear in her refreshed guise.

By now frockcoats and tricorns and all that a right in and here I am simply attempting to get a feel for the Branden Rose even as I am writing her. I formalise the flowing fringe here, the precise look of her sleeves and vambrins (those proofed fore-arm/hand coverings) and the wrap-around fastenings of her coat.

From here I proceed to a final character drawing, about A2 in size and very close to the one in Book 1 now.

Yet something was not quite right here either... You shall win the esteem of everyone else in the room if you can tell what the difference is between this and the final image.

Once I solved this for the final book illustration (which dare I admit, involved a very sturdy eraser) I then went on to colour the version of the Branden Rose you see as a background to this very site. I would dearly love to have that produced as a poster some day - I guess it goes on the pile with the full-size map.

Monday, March 03, 2008

And the winner is...

... well not Monster-blood Tattoo anyway. The top dog in the Childrens' Literature section of the 2008 Festival Awards for Literature was actually (the roll of drums - or "flams and parradiddles" as Craumpalin would call them):

Don't Call Me Ishmael by Michael Bauer, published by Omnibus Books (my own publisher BTW)


Worthy worthy worthy.

It is a funny feeling when another gets the prize; certainly no bitterness or rage or any such thing, just a honest yet muted disappointment overborne by delight a/ just to have been shortlisted & b/ that someone has one - everyone likes a winner - in this case a someone I very much admire.

Truly it is just amazing to me that a 'fantasy' book (I used the term loosely) was even allowed to inhabit the shortlist of a literary prize, that not just you and I believe that the genre does not only have to be thin and/or derivative but can be done to a higher level.

It also struck me recently that it is a most Providential thing that I am a part of the YA scene where eyes and minds are wide open and hearts ready to receive what ever innovations authors care to cunjour. I do not think ol' MBT might have received quite the same attention had it been released through the more usual adult channels. How things can work out, even from the depths I found myself in during 2003 still amaze me. Halelujah! All those years of fuddling about with book after book of obscure little ideas only a very few understood, like some nerdy Jekyll suddenly, with the insight of one woman (Dyan Blacklock, Omnibis Books) I am propelled to bigger better things.

So to all of you, fellow Jekyll fuddlers, fuddle on - who knows where it will take us!