Saturday, April 11, 2009

CBCA 2009 - or, Back at last!

Sorry everyone for taking sooooooooo... long to post again, here I am at last!

Editing has me in its merciless grips; the first draft of Book 3 is far too long so cut cut cut, condense condense condense. One of my initial errors (which happened in Books 1 & 2 as well) is that I put in too much world detail - fascinating to me (and my mate Will) but not so great for a well flowing plot or more general reader interest. My second pass involves reducing this to something smoother and less thrombotic to read, some plot-extraneous matter being put into the back matter where it fits much better (thank you Lord for the Explicarium!) The balance for me is having enough detail to fully build in the experience of the Half-Continent whilst not over-indulging (well, too much anyway...)

To those who contend that MBT is self-indulgent and has too much world in it, I answer, what is the point of writing (not "righting" as I had carelessly had previously... you should see my drafts!!!) about a pretend world if it is only briefly touched upon and has no real impact on the story told? Having said that, I have still got to tell a good story - well, the best I can at least.

So, I suppose you could say, my contention has some merit for I learnt recently that Monster-Blood Tattoo Book 2, Lamplighter has made it into the 2009 CBCA Awards Book of the Year shortlist for Older Readers. Very very chuffed that it has been recognised in the same award that honoured Foundling two years ago. Brilliant!

The complete list is as follows:

EATON, Anthony Into White Silence
FRENCH, Jackie A Rose for the Anzac Boys
MARCHETTA, Melina Finnikin of the Rock
MOLONEY, James Kill the Possum
TAN, Shaun Tales from Outer Suburbia
CORNISH, D. M. Monster Blood Tattoo Book Two: Lamplighter
(Check me out with my egocentrically loooonnngggg book title... ;)

Brilliant for us all and all the Notable Books with us.


Klesita said...

HA! First to comment!!

I think we should all stop congratulating Master Cornish, enough is enough... JUST KIDDING! Although I really don't know what else to say but Congrats once more!! I hope that all these nominations and inclusions in best reading lists do translate into SALES, we want you to keep writing ad the only way that would happen is if it is profitable for you and your editors.

Continuing with the previous thread I have to say that I didn't meant to be mean but I get really frustrated with poorly edited books. I guess that I can be so harsh because I'm on this side of the fence. Then again there are very many good examples of exquisitely written books with none or very few (and minor) errors, so it is possible.

Can everybody share what they are reading while waiting for the big event in May next year?

Random thought... Who decides what the verification word is? The past two or three that I have gotten have been words with meaning in spanish

Magos Kasen said...

Congratulations, again, Master Cornish. No praise is too great for your masterful works.
I must say that, for myself at least, hearing about the world of the Half Continent is the finest part. There is nothing I enjoy more than a well crafted setting, and yours is possibly the best I have ever read.

I look forward to the momentous event of Factotum's release... *waits*

One little thing though...
"what is the point of righting about a pretend world"
Should that possibly be writing?

noelle said...

These shortlistings are turning into a very long list!

CONGRATULATIONS again, again, and again!

Oushmend: a yoghurt bath with miraculous healing properties.

curiousmoth said...


and happy celebration-of-eternal-redemption weekend :)

heastous: heinous, beastly and highly odorous

Anonymous said...

I would love to see the difference between first draft and final copy. I've always wondered what kind of good stuff gets chopped. Personally, I love description because whenever I walk, I know I could write wayyyy too much about what I see, so it's no wonder how you want to write about the HC so much. Good luck editing!

Snooze said...

I know I describe things into far too much detail, and I hate having to shorten them! Theres always so many things to describe when writing, but never enough free space to do so.
Once again congradulations! And more skipping joyfully!

portals said...

I think the description is great. It really leaves no questions and creates a much better world.
Great work on another shortlist... You should be knighted!

noelle said...

I love description, but I must admit that I am an insufferable speed reader so I tend to skip long passages of description if I sense that it won't enrich my understanding of the book, although I sometimes miss things this way. I guess I'm just impatient. I can't stand it when I writer dedicates whole paragraphs to describing something that has nothing to do with the plot. I read a book once where the writer took a page and a half to describe, in excruciating detail, the appearance of a dead ferret. For no particular reason. It was just a...dead ferret. I couldn't finish that book.

Magos Kasen said...

Happy Easter Master Cornish. God bless you and your writing.

D.M. Cornish said...

Maybe you were a ferret in a past life noelle?

It is an interesting quandry about what role description plays in advancing the plot. Clearly from my two current examples I believe in LOTS of description, my thinking being that the deeper you establish the setting, the more richly the plot can play. There is, of course, too much description and I too have skipped paragraphs to get on with the more intravenous plot stuff, the straight-in-my-brain what's-happening words.

Just thought I better add to my previous comments klestia about books made TOO QUICK; I happen to agree with you that one of the main enemies to works of merit being produced is the hasty appetites of marketing departments &c... very frustrating to see a great first book go down the quick-get-it-out-or-people-will-stop-reading toilet. Publishers are very concerned that if an author takes too long then momentum is lost. My counter arguement is that a crapulent book will kill continuing interest far quicker than one that takes a tad too long to make... and I am testing that theory out even now. If I am wrong, I apologise to all.

dropo[TM]: a popular commercially produced Norwegian laxative.

D.M. Cornish said...

And yes *clears throat* "writing" is the word I was looking for... perhaps I thought I was being "right" about "writing"? Who knows...

Anna said...

I hope Factotum is a very thick book, so I just can dive in and forget about this boring world. 1000 pages would be wrong.

Oh, and I started writing my bad poetry again. Even a piece in english.
Thank God for paper. My computer-thingy that I saved my last work on, mysteriously got wiped out so I lost quite a lot but I got some of it on paper. I must be odd, cause I think it´s easier to write poetry on cemetaries. Get more ideas there somehow. Or in the forest.

Klesita said...

Hi Anna! Cemeteries are very peaceful places. I used to live about five blocks from a cemetery and used to go there to study because the university was a bus-ride away and my flatmates were very loud. It is an old cemetery in the middle of Brisbane although still in use (which for me it is bizarre, because where I come from old cemeteries are not in use and new ones are as far away as practicable from cities - OK, I'm digressing again). This place was quite magical, lots of trees, very leafy, quite a great place to think.

Master Cornish, is great to hear your take of the publishing process. Is one of those things that the public is not really aware of. If a book - and a series - is good, then taking the time to deliver the best possible work is worth it.

Pontelas: A traditional dish from the Burgundis region. It is a sort of pie with the crust is made out of millet and pork lard and filled with a rabbit and parsnip stew.

Klesita said...

And by the way D.M.C. how exactly are you planing to include a Norwegian laxative in your stories of the Half Continent?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly about the importance of the details of the Half Continent to your story, and I thank the editors, and you, Master Cornish, and anyone else whose permission is needed to include the Explicariums at the ends of your books. Perhaps the third Explicarium will contain a new definition that is near and dear to my heart. Let me explain. Just a few days ago I finished reading Lamplighter – including the Explicarium – for the third time. Then, late next evening, I needed to walk home from a neighbor’s house. I live in a city, and this neighbor’s home lies on the other side of a large, downtown park. I could have played it safe and walked around the periphery, but that would have taken a lot longer, so I cut across. Before long, the lights started seeming much further apart than they had from a distance, and the dark between the lights began to feel much darker. Having just re-read Lamplighter, I began to imagine Rossamund and Threnody making their way along some ill-lit road through the monster infested wilds, with only far-spaced lamps to mark the way. And there I was, with only muggers to be afraid of, and lights only 100 meters or so apart, feeling frightened. I realized that in all your reader polls about what kind of monster-fighting bravo I might want to be, I’d been a fool to answer at all. I’m too much of a coward to be any of them. Yet, I also can’t imagine hiding behind desks and quills and looking down my nose at those who take part in violence. In real life I’m a civil engineer and, from that walk through the park, it’s become clear to me that the part I can imagine playing in your world is the same, as a designer and builder of the cot-houses or fortresses that you so beautifully describe and illustrate. Although such an occupation wouldn’t be danger-free, it would at least require less overt bravery than being a lighter or teratologist. But (and this brings me finally back to the start of this post) I don’t think you’ve ever given the name and rank (same as tinker, or high-level laborer perhaps?) of the civil engineering or fort-building class. Will this information be in the Explicarium of your third book? If not, are you willing to divulge that information in this blog?

Anna said...

Klesita, I think it´s rather that I´m close to my ancestors (since I´m a big genealogy freak) and the calmness as you say.
Plus vampirefreak =dark, night, stars, so the poetry gets pretty glum.
and a nature freak = forest, sounds, flowers, magical stuff.
well, look at me now, turning to be a space cadet. Have to quit.

portals said...

The description is the best. It does make the story deeper. It turns in into a wonderful piece of work rather than some brain-damaging junk like Eragon, although without as much description MBT would still be lightyears ahead of Eragon.

Klesita said...

Anna, I get your point... enjoy the cemeteries and also keep your notes in duplicates!

Portals you are being unfair, Paolini was just about 17 years when he wrote Eragon. His book didn't have the depth of the MBT series because he himself didn't have enough first hand experiences to go by. I think his books have improved a little bit since then. Still not LOTR but hey! how old was Tolkien when he finally decided to write the books? And we also have to take into consideration that LOTR was not Tolkien's first attempt at Middle Earth. And in relation to MBT how many notebooks had Master Cornish filled with the Half Continent before he started MBT? The richness of the fabric that waves together the Half Continent is direct reflection of Master Cornish's dedication to his world for over 10 years. That is something!

And talking about the balance between description and story. I'm the kind of person that - if I really like the book - will read it really fast the first time almost skipping all the description to get to the story and finish this as soon as possible and then read it all over again slowly, to really savour the writing and the descriptions. So bring all the description on!

noelle said...

Portals: One of the problems with Eragon WAS the description...the two paragraphs dedicated to the elven lamp Eragon sees comes to mind, or maybe the entire chapter dedicated to ANTS? Paolini simply doesn't know where to stop. Description really helps bring the setting to life in most cases, but with some writers I just want to say, "Okay...I get the picture. It's a lamp. It's a dead ferret." Sometimes just a few sentences will suffice, and then you can give the reader's imagination a workout without interrupting the flow of the story.

Klesita: I disagree. I think Paolini's books have gotten progressively this point it just seems like he is trying to impress everyone with how many big words he knows and how fat his books are. At least the first one was a diverting read.

But I have the feeling that I have been ragging on Paolini too much...I guess I should cut him some slack, since he IS a young writer.

Bedope: a child's pocketbook embroidered with whimsical fairytale scenes.

Tattoo Artist said...

Just ran across your site. It is very amazing. Excellent design. Good job. Interesting reading on your writing process which is something I'm interested in spreading out into.

monday said...

congrats again, Mr Cornish! aren't you going to post any bad news, so we can say something else?

one thing about incredibly long descriptions, even excellent ones, is that when they are combined with an awesome and exciting plot, I tend to skim over them just to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT...which is merely my bad habit, and not always the fault of the writer

sorry, but I'm not jumping into the Eragon-argument again...I dislike the books so. I would be mean. I'll shut up...

I agree wholeheartedly that cemetaries are lovely places. I have a book [author forgotten--shame] called Stories In Stone about the symbols, history, et cetera of cemetaries and tombstones and the like; it is completely fascinating, though i do get some odd looks from people when I wander through the green quiet squinting at every carven name...

banti: a vegetable soup traditionally garnished with whole chicken feet

portals said...

Monday- Understandable
Noelle- Absolutely. No-one cares about why Eragon secretly respects ants! I also noticed how riduculous the sentences became.

Eragon is probably THE most derivative book in history! It's basically just Star Wars set in Middle Earth.

Ben Bryddia said...

Congratulations Mr. Cornish on this day after a most blessed day. Easter was a particularly enjoyable time this year. A visit to a Messianic Jewish church and the Passion of the Christ helped to put things in proper perspective.

As for the balance of description and narration, I also believe that description really flushes out the environment and 'feel' of what I write. I usually write in an overly sparing style, so only enough detail to convey important geography, appearance, and action is included. I'm currently contemplating how description can help flush out the milt of individuals and locations.

Sorry if I rant, particularly if I completely misunderstood what you said. Why do you call this world we all inhabit boring? Granted the mundane is surrounds many of us, but I wonder if escaping it is the right course. Does reality deserve our best attentions? Is our universe at all inferior to one made by man? We have our own terrible tales of tyrants, heroic figures not quite virtuous, and common people who have fought for justice. As for setting, while we don't have bogles (a pity), we live in an infinitely complex, detailed universe full of everything from duck-billed platypuses to geodes.
Human undertakings may enrich it (what would the world be without Homer and Shakespeare?) but should not replace it. Well, that’s double my share of tongue wagging for a while.

Imennins: a Tutin rhetorician who discoursed on the role of everymen in the wide world. His name is proverbially associated with wisdom, yet many of his conclusions are ignored by modern intellectuals as ‘absurdest folly.’

pearl said...

A shortlist YET AGAIN, Mr Cornish, congratulations. If this keeps up, the cover of the book would be covered in so many little shortlisting stickers that we won't be able to see it at all.

About long descriptions, I tend to skip some for I am an impatient little whippersnapper. Though I do ferret around for information that my brain needs to visualise something important, like person or place, or some significant object. I mean, if it was just a dead ferret or a pile of ants, then I don't bother.

Klesita: I'm reading the first of the Discworld novels and will start on Wicked soon. :\

Fropsa: The concoction of leftover liquids/dregs/whatever that is drunk for a bet.

Anna said...

Ben, I can agree that the world have it´s moments but for the most part it´s utterly boring. All work and no play. That is one reason why I sometimes hate being a grown-up. You HAVE to this and you HAVE to that. No freedom.
And for the tragic history, in the books it mostly ends well, as for in the real world it´doesn´t. I much more prefer an happy ending than a sad one. (hope Factotum has a happy ending, keeping my fingers crossed).
I can tell you that it´s really hard to make contact with me when I read a book because I´m "in" the book.

monday, you should see the looks I got when I measured (?) and took pics of the tombstones, when I did an tombstoneinventory for an genealogical society! And the comments. They thought probably that I was stealing the stones, lol.

Ok, I saw in my post above that I missed a couple of letters. it should be: A 1000 pages wouldn´t be wrong.

Magos Kasen said...

I completely agree with you Anna about life and preferring book worlds. Happy endings are always nice.

portals said...

Which makes me ask everyone-
How can I force myself to have lucid dreams?

Nowhere else helps at all.

noelle said...

Portals: Ooooh, sorry, wish I could help you there. I've had one lucid dream before but I have no idea how you could will yourself to have one. If I did I'd certainly be riding unicorns every night when I'm asleep.

With my lucid dream, I was already having a fantastically good dream when I started to wake up and that's when I became vaguely aware that I was dreaming, but I was so enamored of my dream that I flatout REFUSED to believe that it was anything but real. That's when I gained more control over my dream and continued it as I pleased...I just kept subconsciously convincing myself that it was real.

I haven't been able to repeat this phenomenon though, because not surprisingly, my subconscious mind is anything but reasonable and I can't walk myself through any steps while asleep. Apparently there's a (probably very expensive) device you can buy which is supposed to keep track of when you enter REM state and then flash a red light to penetrate into your dream and remind you that you are dreaming. No idea if it actually works though.

That wasn't very helpful. Sorry :)

Baggicke: decorative pouches worn as jewelry.

portals said...

Noelle- Interesting, thanks.
I tried this thing on Youtube, and it said two things.
1. While awake, continue to ask yourself 'Is this a dream?'. This was meant to confuse you while dreaming, so the question would be able to still go through your head, or something like that.
2. Keep a dream journal.
3. Look at your hands, because ... I don't know, I didn't understand the guy's reasoning.
I may try hypnotherapy, by recording myself or someone else saying something, telling me what to dream. Then, as I sleep, I would play the message very softly through speakers. If that works It will present amazing opportunities.

RottenPocket said...

I have some of the wackiest dreams out of any of the people I know. I stopped updating this list I have on my art profile because they had become just down-right freakish :)

Not meant to spam or anything, but here's the most recently updated one if you're interested:

I would love to know what you all think it means. So far, I haven't found any dictionary that says what 'tiny feral albino hypopotamii' mean.

Crowsidu:The art of solving the vexxing riddles of dreaming.

RottenPocket said...

Forgot to mention,

sorry portals, I don't know how one exactly forces themselves to have lucid dreams, but I know that the chemistry of your body changes when you wake up, and sit up. If you ever have a dream you have a hard time remembering, stay lying down and try to remember as much of it as you can. It's kind of a transferral, of subconscious memories to conscious.

I know that recently I have lucid dreams of regular life if my day was busy and I stay up most of the night reading. My brain is over active and it takes forever to get to sleep but once I conk out I'm deeper into dreamland than any other way. I suppose if you make sure you have a big day with lots of action, and not just sitting on the couch watching TV, then your mind will have a difficult time getting rest and in affect, hallucinate more easily, and vividly.

Anywho, that's my two cents.

Jackie said...

Well I have to say I was one of the people that thought that Foundling had a bit too much discription of the world in it. I don't think that now after book 2 and I'm really sad to hear so much is being cut off now. Foundling and Lamplighter are the only books I have read back to back twice. When I first read Foundling I didn't pay a great deal of attention to some parts and after book two I felt I had to re-read book one then I must re-read book two. I have spouted to anyone that cares to listen to buy these books. I also have the audio of them and listen to them in the car for long trips. To fill my void since it will be so long till the next book I'm reading Simon R Greens, Nightside series. I'm haveing fun with that I'm only on book one. I love reading and what I love so much about the Lampligher is the richness of the world. I know what your thinking I said it had too much but that was before I got yanked into the book without relizing it. I just fell in love with all the people and want more more more. THanks you from San Antonio texas.

Klesita said...


I never thought of Eragon as a re-run of Star Wars in a different setting but now that you mention it, it sort of is and is hilarious.

About lucid dreams I have to say that when I was writing my PhD thesis (and this took about 6 months) I would have them almost every night for the first 3-4 months. In desperation I discussed this with a friend that is a psychologist and we came up with the idea that it was due to a combination of things:
1. I was in overdrive (continuously thinking about complex biological processes)
2. Unable to read anything not related to my thesis due to lack of time and inability to follow the plot of any decent book (did I mention I was continuously thinking about my thesis)
3. lack of sleep
So according to my friend my brain needed a diversion and that was why I was having this incredibly lucid dreams in amazing colours, surround sound (I'm not kidding), and sometimes even vivid smells. It was plain bizarre and very distracting.
The solution: start reading again non-scientific literature, and because I could not handle a complex book I re-read all the Harry Potter books that were out at the moment. So I have to say that I have probably read the first 4 Harry Potter books about 3 times each (I know, I'm a sad person) but the dreams did not let me concentrate and as soon as I started reading them the dreams stopped so now I'm very fond of those books and very grateful to JK and I even managed to find unsuspected levels of meaning in all of them.

PS: I do need to know how the random verification words are selected. I'm getting now a strike of tennis player names.

Klesita said...


There is a Chinese soup that is just like your description of 'banti'. My husband likes it, I cannot stand it.

smudgeon said...

Portals - try starting here: brainwave frequencies are associated with lucid dreaming, same as sleep, being super-alert & stuff. There's a theory that certain audio frequencies (using "binaural beats") can encourage this kind of thing. I don't know if I believe it myself, but apparently there are CDs & electronic devices which can help.

Otherwise, I like the idea of looking at your hands. Sounds like a hoot.

noelle said...

So I just got some of my writing back from an editor today, and I'm a bit ashamed to say that I feel almost personally insulted at her criticisms. Does anyone else who writes feel this way? I know my editor is just trying to make my book better but I almost feel like arguing with her on why her criticisms are wrong. I imagine that all fledgling writers are very defensive about and emotionally attached to their first book. I suppose editing gets easier with time!

On an unrelated note, I was watching Nanny McPhee today and I couldn't stop thinking about how one of the children would be a perfect Rossamund! (Although he may be too old now.)

monday said...

Klesita: HA!

Damien said...

Congratulations and kudos to you (again) sir!!!
And keep it rolling on the editing DM.
Better to have something to trim - than not have enough, me thinks :o)