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Welcome. Whether you read, write, or both, you'll find something here. Free reads, book reviews, writing contest details and links, and much about the writing process. By all means comment; I'm always interested in the views of readers and writers. Follow the blog and connect with me on social networks; the more, the merrier.
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Thursday, 31 July 2014

A Seared Sky: Partings. Launch of Book 2 of the Trilogy

Exciting news! Book 2 of A Seared Sky, Partings, to be launched! 

But before I get carried away....

In my last post I almost explained my temporary absence from the scene for the past few days and promised to let you know why, today. Nothing too exciting for readers, but we’ve been preparing our house to sell up and move on. It’s now on the market (or will be at the end of today). So, that’s why I’ve been away.

However, in the meantime, something far more exciting for readers and, especially for me, has happened. My publisher has announced the launch of book 2 of A Seared Sky. Partings will be available from 16 August and will be launched at FantastiCon in Hull, initially as an ebook. But, hey, why should I keep all the good news to myself. Here’s a copy of the Fantastic Books Publishing newsletter making the announcement in full.

 The very first #SciFiHour at FantastiCon, another upcoming release more short SF competition news!

This week we have been collecting delegate bags to be used at FantastiCon and given to all our visitors! Now starts the interesting job of filling them for you all…

So far Waterstones, Hull University and the Copyright Licencing Agency have all come forward and offered bags for FantastiCon. All Golden Tickets holders will receive one and standard ticket holders will get one on a first come, first served basis until they are all gone.

Inside the bags we’ll be putting lots of fun stuff from local companies to check out while you’re in Hull and also a few extra bits too. Because all our supporters are so Fantastic, one of those extras will be… a random collector’s card from our recently released FEF Collector card series! The rest of the series will be for sale at the event but to get your collections going we thought we’d give you all a card at the door to get you started. You’ll also all receive a new pen that you’ll be able to use to navigate the fantastical world of Dave Hughes’ RPG ‘Elite Encounters‘ too.

And now news of another first for the event. The very first #SciFiHour will be happening live at FantastiCon! All you need to do to get involved is follow @SciFiHouron twitter and if you have any questions about science fiction in general or would like to ask our Fantastic Elite Fiction authors anything about their work, just add the hashtag #SciFiHour to your tweet and they’ll be there to answer your questions live from the event at 9pm GMT from the bar of the Hull Royal Mercure Hotel.

How can you help? Go follow @SciFiHour now and help us spread the word people! #SciFiHour

And what of you poor folks who who for reasons of geography or otherwise won’t be able to join us at FantastiCon? Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about you!

We currently plan to have a live feed from the event but if this turns out to be technically impossible we have 4 roaming cameramen coming along and we plan to create a documentary and will showcase it shortly after the convention. We’ll also be taking lots of recordings of things like the book readings, the author and actor Q&A, the Fantastic Awards Ceremony and the wonderful John Levene, Barry Nobles and Simon Fisher-Becker chatting on stage about Dr Who.
So, what’s happening with the short SF competition entries? Our judges are battling away with each other and so far, after nearly 2 weeks of judging, have not decided on a single story to remove from the list! Will the longlist become the contents list for the anthology? Only time will tell but the judges will need a little more time to sort it out amongst themselves. Watch this space…
Also, some of you have been asking about Stuart Aken’s next book in his ‘A Seared Sky‘ series following the launch earlier this year of the first in the series ‘Joinings‘. We can reveal that the second book is called ‘Partings’ and will be available as an ebook in time for Stuart’s appearance at FantastiCon in August. The cover for ‘Partings’ has been designed by the wonderful Heather Murphy and a sneak preview can be seen at the top of this blog.

Continuing on the fantasy theme, Stuart will now be joined by good friend and fellow fantasy writer Linda Acaster who will be speaking at the event about how her fantastical world differs from the norm.

For those of you unfamiliar with all our latest endeavours, why not sign up to our weekly newsletter? You’ll find lots of interesting items in there and we always give our newsletter subscribers access to our latest news first.

Just 16 days to go until the inaugural FantastiCon! See you there Commanders!
Just imagine,

Daniel and Gabi

Sunday, 27 July 2014

A Very Brief and Partial Explanation.

English: A partial solar eclipse that was seen...
English: A partial solar eclipse that was seen at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, on 22 July 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
No, I haven't died, or been incapacitated. My apologies to my regular readers for my absence from the ether, but I'm involved in a rather time-consuming project at present. I expect it to be done by Wednesday. Watch this space for further details. More I cannot divulge or I might have to... you know the rest.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Oxford Book of Contemporary Verse 1945 - 1980, edited by D J Enright, Reviewed.

Judgement of poetry is perhaps even more subjective than for prose. The poetic form either speaks to us or not, and our response to it is as much to do with our own views, history and experience as it is connected to the life of the poet. This collection includes many well known poets and some I’d not previously encountered. Naturally, it excludes others I’ve known and loved and some that who not so well known.

The work is arranged as individual groups of poems by each poet, ranked according to date of birth; as good a presentation as any other, given the variety of styles and content included. Of the forty poets presented here, only three are women, so it can hardly be considered a fair representation of the talent available during the period.

This anthology introduced me to some poets I will research further and others with whom I shan’t bother to develop any greater acquaintance.

What to say about a collection pulled together by another? There’s no unifying form or theme and the poets represent a wide period of writing. It seems to me that this is a time when rhyme began to diminish, free verse began to expand its influence, and form crawled into the back seat.

It is a book to be dipped into and sampled rather than read from cover to cover, but I suspect the same could be said of many poetry anthologies. I have mixed feelings about the selection; some moved me almost to tears, some bored me, a few were incomprehensible because my education failed to prepare me for their esoteric references, and a few more were simply too long for their subject matter.


But, for those who love the genre, those curious about the development of the form and those studying poetry as literature, this is a good book.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Exploring Character and Place in A Seared Sky #13

Corphanda

This is the 13th (Oooer, not superstitious, are you?) in a series on characters and places featured in Joinings:A Seared Sky. This background information isn’t covered in the book but will enhance the reading experience. For some of my people there are character drawings, supplied by Alice Taylor or myself (but I'm still learning how to draw, so bear with me!), maybe a video interview, and accompanying script. I’ll do short pieces of fiction, deepening knowledge of certain minor characters as well.
For the places, I use sections of the map to indicate location or a sketch to illustrate the place, along with a description of the place, as I see it, and, where appropriate, links with characters. Sometimes, I indicate the way of life there with a short anecdote or story.
I don’t reveal any of the main story, either as already published or as written in the series, simply enhance readers’ enjoyment of the trilogy by providing more information. I hope this gives pleasure to those who’ve bought the book and, perhaps, persuades others to take that step.

Pronunciation hints:
Corphanda – cor-fan-da (as in ‘dad’).
Names are pronounced phonetically. But this is my take on them; how I hear them in my head. You may pronounce them as you wish, of course; reading is, after all, active rather than passive.

Interview with Corphanda, who’s along as chaperone for the Virgin Gifts. She’s a chatterbox, opinionated, fun, stern at need, a great confidante, as she doesn’t gossip. An older, rather chubby widow, she still enjoys men and sex. Her voice is full of underlying chuckle and slightly sultry.

SA:         So, Corphanda, how would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?

Corphanda:        Well now, for a man as good lookin’ as yoursen, I’d be ‘appy to chatter for a good while. Me? Well, I’m as round as I’m tough, so don’t go thinkin’ there’s no solid stuff under this layer of warm softness. An’ I don’t stand no cheek, neither, so watch what you say. Grey and past me best, I may be, but I could still give you a good go.

SA:         I see. Well, thank you for the compliment, I think. But let’s talk about you and your role in the story, shall we?

Corphanda:        I’ll talk about me till the Skyfire returns. Mind you, that’s just an expression, you know. I mean, there’s a rumour goin’ round that the Skyfire might well be on it’s way back. But I don’t listen to no gossip. I’ll wait till I hear it from the village priest. You’ll know more about what’s expected of me than I know meself. Come on, lover boy, tell me what I need to know.

SA:         Well, you’re to be guide and guardian to a party of young virgin women on a mission back to the ancient homeland. How’s that suit you?

Corphanda:        Whoa there! That’s a lot to take in one bite. Guardian? What, to keep them virginal, like? I can do that. Yes, I can keep young lasses in hand. I’ve a swift slap for any that doesn’t want to do as she’s told. An’, even though I’m a bit portly, I can walk as far as the next man. That’d be you. I’d walk as far as you’d like to take me, if you understand my meaning? That a blush? I like a modest man. Well, Truth be told, I like any man willin’ to take me on.

SA:         So, the prospect of foreign travel doesn’t daunt you, then?

Corphanda:        I’ve lived too long to be daunted by such as that. There’ll be others along to deal with problems, like. An’ I’ll have me herbs and roots to cure any ailments. I’m good with medicines, you know. Me old mother was a proper healer and she taught me all she knew afore she went off to the Garden of Delights.

SA:         Why do you suppose you’ve been chosen for the job?

Corphanda:        Who else would do? I’m the obvious choice, like. Folk know me as reliable and down-to-earth. A woman with a strong character and a good knowledge of the ways of the world. I don’t stand for no nonsense, you know. Folk always know where they stand with me. What you get is what you see, if you understand my meaning. I know what I know and I don’t care who knows it, neither.

SA:         Well, thank you very much for your time and…

Corphanda:        That it? You call me all the way over ‘ere for that? Well, I ‘ave to say I’d wished for a bit more than that. I mean, ‘andsome fellah like you. I could do us both a favour if you…

SA:         No doubt, Corphanda. Another time, perhaps? I’m a little busy at present. But thank you for the…er, offer.

Corphanda:        Well, if that’s it, I might as well be getting’ back. You’re not the onny one as is busy, you know.

SA:         Of course. Thanks again. Well, that was a close shave.


Corphanda:        I ‘eard that!

That's Corphanda. And you'll find her amongst the people populating the epic fantasy series, A Seared Sky, book 1 , Joinings, available in print and digital formats online and in bookshops.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Ruled by Intellect or Emotion? Tips on Word Choice #1

Portrait of an Elderly Man
Portrait of an Elderly Man (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Certain words/phrases can induce fairly specific responses in readers. We all know this, of course, but do we use the power of emotion in our work?

I’m setting out here to suggest a few alternatives. In this series I’ll look at the difference between those words that seem intellectual as opposed to those that invoke a more emotional response. How you use them is obviously up to you. The point is that the alternatives have the same, or very similar, meanings, but their effect upon the reader can be markedly different. I’ve made some suggestions here, but I’m sure you can think of others.

Intellectual: Accelerate – suggestive of motor functions, science and sport.
Emotional: Speed up – more suggestive of heartbeat, bodily movement.

James steered the Bentley round the bend, accelerating hard as he made for the junction. (thriller/journalistic language)
‘If you’re going to get me there before I cool down, you’d better speed up, darling.’ (romantic/erotic language).

Intellectual: Challenge – generally seen as tough and demanding.
Emotional: Dare – more likely to be used in fun.

Shane saw the waiting gang as just another challenge on his way to his intended goal. (thriller language)
Tracy looked at the waves breaking gently under the crescent moon and wondered whether she dare join Mike in the water. (romantic language)

Intellectual: Elderly – suggestive of respect and even deference.                              
Emotional: Old – more likely to be used casually, perhaps even insultingly.

A wide range of facilities for the elderly is provided by the local council. (formal/journalistic language)

‘There goes old George, late for his appointment again.’ (informal/fiction language)