Tag Archives: fantasy

The Map Maker of Morgenfeld

The Map Maker of Morgenfeld thumb

I have a new novel out, and this one has a bunch of intriguing things about it. Intriguing to me, anyway.

First, it’s a fantasy, which I don’t often write. That said, there are no wizards or magic or dragons, no vast armies of conquest, no hero smiting demons with a terrible swift sword. This novel grows out of my younger self’s love of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast series (I even shamelessly bastardized the name).
My style is very different from Peake’s. Well, of course, writing has changed over the years, and while Peake wrote some wonderful books, they are a product of their period. I like to think I’ve captured something of their essence in my own world.

Secondly, I wrote the novel while traveling. In April and May of 2017 we had a fabulous voyage to Santiago, Easter Island, the Atacama Desert, Quito and the Galapagos Islands. Almost six weeks away.

I wrote every day. Usually stolen moments in the evenings, at kitchen tables, or in dining rooms. Once or twice in noisy cafes.

The trip was awesome. But it was cool to maintain that writing momentum throughout. Especially with the focus on a project. I suppose elements of South American culture and lifestyle may well be wrapped up somewhere in the book.
Thirdly, or perhaps this should be my first item, I wrote the novel on a phone. We traveled light. Carry-on luggage only. Taking a laptop, with a bulky charger, would have been a nuisance. I discovered the cool little Rapoo bluetooth keyboard. I bought the Docs2go app, which allowed me to format the document nicely as I went, and also to track my word count.

I designed and 3D-printed a stand for the phone. I bought a travel wallet, one intended for money and cards and documents, and used that to create a neat little package for the keyboard, stand and phone so they could all just drop into my backpack easily.

All of those elements make The Map Maker of Morgenfeld perhaps my most unusual novel so far. I’m sure that traveling influenced the writing. I’m sure that the restriction of the phone influenced the writing.

I hope it all worked out into a readable, enjoyable book.
The cover illustration is near-perfect for me anyway. By Grandfailure | Dreamstime. It really shows the clutter and maze of Morgenfeld better than I’d pictured it.

Available all over, in print ($12.99), and as an ebook ($5.99), KindleSmashwords, and so on.

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Imaginary Maid Forgets She is Late for a Banquet – new ebook short story

I have a new story out through Smashwords. Imaginary Maid Forgets She is Late for a Banquet is a magicpunk, or magic realism. The story was first published in the Static Movement anthology Alternate Dimensions.

The amazing cover art is by Ateliersommerland and sourced through Dreamstime. The waif has the perfect expression to suit Bianca’s character.

My little description at Smashwords goes like this: “Bianca’s had about enough of Paulette, the school bully. But when she calls up magic to help out, both girls are in for more than they bargained for. Much more.”

And though you can read the first 20% free anyway, I do like to put the opening paragraphs here for a teaser too:

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Bianca sulked. She’d pushed herself into a corner of the kitchen, crouched and squeezed herself right under one of the benches.
“Bianca,” Paulette called. “Come out.” She paused, giggled a little. “Come out, come out.”
“Wherever you are,” Bianca whispered.
“I’ll teach you, you little snipe. I will teach you a lesson you’ll never forget.”
Bianca looked around the corners of the tiny dark space. She needed magic.
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The value of a good cover

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Currently I do the illustrations for all of my book covers. I have a little bit of an art background (in fact have even had some exhibitions), so while I’m no professional I like to think that I have a reasonable idea of how to make a reasonable picture. Sometimes my covers work and sometimes not so much. Case in point here is my cover for my story Stone Goddess. I had the idea – to suit the story – of a pile of rocks that kind of looks like a statue. I attempted a blend of the rocks with the image of the statue (all rendered in Bryce). There are some elements that work, but I’m not convinced that this cover is going to sell many copies of the story (I think the story is one of my best, but so far has sold zero copies on Smashwords).

I was following Jeff Ambrose (another writer who’s inspired me on writing goals) and found his post about working on his covers. Now I though his covers were pretty good to start with, but some of his new ones are just leaving me in the dust. Look at the one here (used with his permission for illustrative purposes) for his story The Stone Goddess. Wow (and yikes, practically the same title). That illustration is so professional that it ought to help him sell an awful lot of copies of the story. (I’m terrified to read his story for fear that not only is the cover better, but so is the story).

That said, he is using dreamstime (an online resource where artists sell the rights for the use of their illustrations), so the covers are going to be pretty professional. Maybe I should take a lesson from Jeff and start investing a little money, rather than time – especially when a cover isn’t working out so well.

Maybe I’ll buy one of Jesse-lee Lang’s illustrations (she did the picture on the cover of Jeff’s story), and go head-to-head with Jeff.

NB: Cover Art Copyright © by Jesse-lee-Lang, Dreamstime.com

Unplugged – anthology of science fiction and fantasy

Unplugged is a cool idea: a print collection of science fiction and fantasy stories that originally appeared online. As with any anthology, there are stories that appeal and stories which don’t, but overall the standard is pretty high. My personal favourite is “Snatch Me Another” by Mercurio D. Rivera – great pacey writing, a cool idea (a neat twist on the idea of alternate universes. There are some known writers here – Cory Doctorow, Nancy Kress, etc. – and also some less established names. There’s a handy list at the back of the volume with the original websites – some no longer functioning, but an intriguing resource. A cool description on the back cover too “unplugged surfs the web so you don’t have to” – that’s good, ‘cos I’m thinking lots of us (ie me) could do with a little less web time and a little more A.R.

Kings of the Realm: A Dragon Anthology – out now

Kings of the Realm, the lastest in Lame Goat Press’s growing catalogue of anthologies is available now both from both CreateSpace and Amazon. Amazon might be a little more convenient, but from CreateSpace the publishers get a little more folding green, which has gotta be good for their future. The anthology includes two of my stories: “Xuento” a hard-edged science fiction adventure story, and “Scattered Dunes” a character-driven fantasy story.

Kim Wilkins at work on a new book, yay!

One of my favourite authors Kim Wilkins has taken herself and her family from Brisbane to England to research and write her new novel. I can’t wait to read it. I know she has been busy, but it’s been a while since her last adult fantasy – Rosa and The Veil of Gold (just The Veil of Gold in the US, I believe). While I’ve enjoyed her young adult books on a level, I couldn’t quite get into her “Kimberley Freeman” romances, so I’m excited that after some years we’ll be getting another thick and well-researched adult fantasy.

Kim was studying at the University of Queensland, ahead of me as I was beginning my masters. She had already published a couple of novels then and won the Aurealis Award in 1997 for The Infernal. My favourite of her novels is The Autumn Castle, which is a complex and dark almost Gothic romance with parallel worlds and devious, devilish plot twists. She’s published something like 20 books now.