Character Who’s Who

Yes – it’s tag time again and todays ‘perp’ is yours truly. But before I kick off here’s a final doff of the cap to Mary Patterson Thornburg and her character Alyssha Dodson (so tempting to slam a ‘g’ into the middle of that and take it all into Wonderland territory ;-) ) for dum… erm choosing to pass the torch in this direction.
Characters maketh the tale of course and it always helps to have some kind of framework on which to hang the bare bones so to speak, so Mary’s also given me the dubious opportunity to flesh out a bit more on a lady that I’ve really only just started to write in the last few months, although I’ve had her in mind for quite some time now. But I digress of course – let’s get on with…

Introducing ~ Feyæth the Murrighan

murrighan… which means Battle Queen and she nods towards Morgan Le Fay, but any other relationship with Arthurian legend is twisted and blurred to the point of fragmentation. Her story will be a science fantasy fusion treatment set in the far future but with archaic cultural elements that look to the mythic realms of Northern and Western Europe for inspiration, with some classical overtones concerning the natural world and sciences (birds and the weather play a big part here).

The action takes place after the end of the Universe as we know it – it’s a kind of cold climate Eden revisited in the ‘Shadow Galaxy’ where humankind is rebuilding itself from the ground up on a terra-formed world with genetically enhanced flora and fauna, as well as the native paranormal species that inhabit it.

Feyæth’s a metamorph – a form-changer and the most adept of a predicted mutation that is emerging from the Allfolk but, unlike the two other male metamorphs of her generation who are destined to consort with her, she struggles to keep some of her more lethal powers under control. In addition to being able to change into aggressive and powerful predatory animals Feyæth and Ruarghan (the Mærllenn, or Skymaster) can control fabulous beasts and birds and overcome the will of less supernaturally gifted individuals. However they both have lesser powers as Seers and it is Feyæth’s future spouse and Ruarghan’s Lord, Ærdhan who is the prophesied Jænys (the Path), who will lead the Allfolk into the fabled Age of Unity, where The Worlds Without and Within will finally be… united!

Undermining Feyæth’s role in the social and political upheaval preceding the new world order is her  broken relationship with the renegade Cloudfolk Wardmaster, Belænn, a powerful mage-like Wose, who believes he is her father and blames her for the death of his beautiful, doomed love Lysul, in childbirth. Always struggling to please the only father she has known, Feyæth constantly fails to live up to his expectations until the purification rites that mark the beginning of her nuptials, when Belænn descends into all-consuming fury and seals both their wyrds with bloodshed and destruction.

In the years that follow Feyæth struggles to make sense of Belænn’s insane ambitions with regard to her and elder half-brother Nuithen, and to seek the truth behind her own heritage from what little they know of their mother’s final days. When their clan seeks alliance with Ærdhan’s Bayfolk, Feyæth also begins to crave a ‘normal’ spousal relationship with Ærdhan who becomes a kind of touchstone for her and, in time, the main hope for reuniting with her son, who is cast out by the Glasfolk after the death of his horselord grandfather. However, from the first, she has more affinity for, and is inexorably drawn to Ruarghan, who is her only peer when it comes to changing forms.

While Storm Shadow (first in a projected series of at least two trilogies) has a toe in Arthurian landscapes and powerplay, the main inspiration for Feyæth’s character comes from the more ancient Celtic world and in particular to the female battle deities or water goddesses of Irish and Welsh legend and their predilection for transmogrification. Chiefly, the Morríghan with her various war-like forms of raven and wolf and kinship with the Norse Valkyrie, but also with Sulis and triple-goddess Brighid and their generative and healing powers. For this approach I’ve also finally given up on reining back my ongoing fascination with how the ‘classical’  and newly Christian Roman world merged culturally with the so-called barbarian peoples on their north-western borders in Spain, Gaul and Britain, adopting feast days and seasonal customs consonant with their own. Within the story arc, the Murrighan has more in common with historical Boudicca of the Iceni in terms of political clout, than with Morgan le Fay, despite all her supernatural powers.

Storm Shadow should be well into editorial tweaking some time during 2015, so it’s a few years before it hits the book shelves, but Feyæth’s a character who’s been lurking at the back of my mind for some time, perhaps even back to teenhood, as she has some character traits in common with one of my favourite Tolkien characters, Eowyn the spear-maiden of Rohan. I’m already pretty fond of her despite her propensity for tragedy and messing up big time with her relationships – I’m still going to have to kill her at some stage however, but she’ll be a tumultuous, driven character all the way there so it’ll be great to write her story. Especially the bits I haven’t dreamed up yet…


And now I’ve got to pass the baton to… the inimitable Tara Sparling, blogger extraordinaire, doyenne of the genre title generators and lady most likely to literally combine the talents of Susie Dent and Rachel Riley (to those who need an explanation go HERE :-P) who may or may not stick to the character brief – eventually!

The ‘truth’ (about marketing) will make you fret…

Have been talking a lot about promoting your work in various places recently so decided this little semi-rant on self-empowerment might as well go on here, if only to remind myself not to whine about lack of sales if I can’t be arsed to tread the publicity mill . . .

Those of us who write fiction need to understand that our product might have the potential of massive appeal in our chosen market, but that we also have to compete with established authors and thousands of other ‘rookie’ writers out there, who all believe their book is well-written and brings something fresh and exciting to the table for the fans. It’s a saturated marketplace – just because you’ve got a great book doesn’t mean people are going to buy it or even hear of it unless you do something to get it noticed and talked about. So you either do it yourself or you employ someone to do it for you – and that’s supposedly the publisher although most ‘traditional’ publishing houses interpretation [of that particular task] may not coincide with yours – ask yourself how most bestselling authors get to that point, ‘cos most of them didn’t do it by sitting on their hands at home, or even at their desks concentrating on their next MS. Wouldn’t they have had to go on personal appearances, or signings, or get interviewed?

If you’re a writer and your own publisher (self or independent or whatever you want to call yourself) then you HAVE to go down some kind promotional road, even if it’s just nagging your friends, neighbours and relatives to get buying. If you don’t want to do that then fine, but why should your book sell when there are countless others out there clamouring for attention too? Who’s going to hear about it if not from you?

If you love to write for it’s own sake and you don’t mind if sales are slow or non-existent then self-publishing might have to be enough for you – to have the potential of sales as well means your work has not really begun yet, even after you hit the submit button on CreateSpace or wherever.

Now all I have to do is walk the talk . . . :-P

turn, turn, turn . . .

. . . there is a season, turn, turn, turn?

Tides as well, which go with the ebb and flow, and so with publishing it seems. Spring has been making great strides around here over the past few weeks down in Cornwall and is well on the way in, with trees coming into their full greenery so it’s fitting that our community moves into a new phase just now as I’m more or less poised to send out emails hither and thither to do with various tasks for our Dreamless Roads anthology.

Those of you who’ve submitted already or volunteered for a spot of beta-reading and/or editing – thank you so much, as it’s such a crucial job to help with putting that last bit of spit and polish on our tall tales in preparation for that final waxing when we get to the proof stages and the hitting of the ‘publish’ button for our good friends over at Lightning Source.

Stand by your inboxes! Mailings commence next week ;-)

Check out Mary’s enjoyably breezy response to the blog tag tour – it’s goooood to know that most of us write ‘seat of the pants’ style :-P

Going to market

Now most people would think that writers, being wordsmiths, would LIKE a spot of marketing and be up for promoting their published work. That’s what you published it for right? To be on the shelves for people to buy and read? But . . .
. . . well this writer doesn’t particularly like doing the marketing thing and I know there’s lots more like me out there, who rarely venture to show their faces on FaceBook and even those who wouldn’t be caught dead tweeting.

It’s not that I’m too proud to push (my ‘baby’ book) – I published it because I wanted it to sell and be read but when it comes to the ‘Roll up! Roll up! Git your literary fiction herah!’ moment, I’m one of those people who hitches her skirts up and runs for the hills like the deerhound I most certainly am not. It literally brings me out in a cold sweat and I would almost rather stick pins in my eyes (another of my more advanced phobias) than go and stand out under the spotlight that I chose to put on myself.
So what have I done to promote my book – well I’ve done what most indie author/publishers do and gone online with an FB and Twitter page – which I did have before the book, but had hardly ever gone near because it’s too close to my phone phobia (which is a very major and stupidly overwhelming thing in my pathetic daily life) of exposing myself to unsolicited conversations with new and strange people that I really didn’t want to get in touch with me . . . But it’s online, so I don’t have to actually see them, or really talk to them, so that’s kind of OK as far as it goes. Except that it does take time and that is a concern ‘cos really I’d far rather spend that time writing. Writing anything actually, but specifically my next book. Anything that’s not having to push me further out to public scrutiny in the same way that countless thousands of other Iwannabestsellingnovel authors do.

But then there’s LinkedIn, which I explain to most of the uninitiated as FaceBook for professional people. So what’s different about that? Well, for starters it’s how I’ve met several other writers who’re now contributing to DreamWorlds and to our forthcoming Anthology project. So that’s a very big point to social networking working for you without getting too scary, because the focus is on what you do, more rather than you, you – you know what I mean! lol  But it’s also great for finding people who’re like you, BUT like and understand different things about the brave new world of indie publishing and are prepared to share their knowledge with other writers who’re floundering about trying and failing to get to grips with marketing, or techie issues, or finding a decent editor, or wondering what the hell colour to use for their title. Which in part is why DreamWorlds Publishing is here so we can pool our knowledge and expertise and support each other.

I met a great chap called Ken Foster on LinkedIn the other day. He runs another online publishing support website called Fictivity Press which, amongst other things, offers a marketing service to indie authors. So, because he’s offering something that our site doesn’t, we’ve swapped links and you can now find his website via our own contacts/links page.
Worth a look at that page as we’re gradually building a little directory of author service providers so going to market doesn’t have be quite so scary for those of us who cringe at dipping their toes into the scarily murky waters of merchandising and PR campaigns. And some of this can come with a surprisingly low or even non-existent price tag!

We are not alone on the road to market – just be sure to window-shop around before you go! ;-)