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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Exploring Character and Place in A Seared Sky #13


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)

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Fantastic Fantasticon and Fantasy

A date for your diaries:  16th August 2014. What’s so special about that? A great event for all those interested in Fantasy, Science Fiction and Gaming. 

Fantasticon is convention where there’s a fantastic amount going on. As a taster, here’s a short extract from Fantastic Books Publishing’s recent newsletter and blog:

The fantasy author we will be showcasing is our very own Stuart Aken who will be signing his books and talking about how he managed to keep track of the hundreds of characters in his upcoming trilogy ‘A Seared Sky’, the first book of which ‘Joinings‘ was released earlier this year. With luck, paranormal fantasy author Linda Acaster may also make an appearance at the event although we are unsure of her schedule as her excellently woven time slips are so convincing they can often spill off the page and disrupt her real life too!

There will be so much going on on the 16th that it would be silly to list it all here so head over to and check out what’s on offer. If you can make it, we’d love to see you there and meet you all in person!

Outside of the gaming aspect of FantastiCon we have lots of fantasy and science fiction attractions. As you know, we will be officially launching our Fantastic Elite Fiction at the event but in line with our ethos of helping Fantastic folks whether they are in the FBP family or not, we will also be launching ‘Zero‘, an excellent debut SF novel from J.S.Collyer who will be at the event signing her books, talking about her journey and, if rumours are to be believed, handing out cup cakes too. J.S.Collyer is an author represented by Dagda Publishing, an excellent little publishing house based in Nottingham who treat their authors with the same care and respect as we do. A truly forward thinking and driven outfit headed by the equally energetic Reg Davey, who will hopefully be there at the event too.

Of course, you’ll have to visit the 2017 City of Culture, Hull, to be at the show, but I know plenty of you will make the trip.

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