Category: General musings….


Oh! Hello.

Let me just shift these tumbleweeds out of the way, I’m sure there used to be a blog here somewhere.

Aha! Here we go… Lord, it’s a bit dusty isn’t it? Pass me that duster will you?

There, that’s better.

Give me a moment and I’ll crank up the generator… See the lights flicker – orange, yellow, white and we’re on! 
Wow. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? We’ve been in the Great Blog Void and fingers crossed, we may be just getting across to the other side. Let’s see, when was the last time I put something up on here…? About a year back I think. Rude!

But it’s been a hell of a year.

So. I won’t go through the list of joys and woes which have made the last 12 months what they have been but the main points (in chronological order) include: adopting an elderly lurcher in October 2015, who has been a constant source of joy, irritation and laughter, and whose arrival was accompanied by that of a small colony of (empty!) poo bags which have invaded the pockets of every garment I possess. Said lurcher is very beautiful and has his own fanclub in the village, so we are now known as the dog’s owners in much the same way as members of a star’s entourage; basically, we just hold the lead. Bless him. He’s thirteen in April, which is quite old for a lurcher, but thinks he is a puppy still. Given how beautiful he is now, I suspect he was unbearably cute as a pup. My lovely dog….

On a much less happy note, cancer. There was already a family member undergoing treatment (with a good outcome, fortunately) when my Dad who had Parkinsons was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That was at Christmas; it took him very suddenly at Easter. So that called a stop to pretty much everything for a while, and it really wasn’t kind that two weeks after he died, my mum lost her little cat, which slept on her bed every night, or that shortly after my sister’s much beloved dog had to be put down, both due to malign growths. (I don’t know why there is so much cancer about this year; other friends have also been lost to cancer, including the lovely Katy Sozaeva, whose encouragement right at the beginning of my writing career kept me going in a time of doubt.)

But, by necessity, once the funeral was over we had to get going again, as our wedding was at the end of July, which kept my mum and the rest of us busy just at that weird point where everything’s done and the madness is over and all that is left is the empty chair and the quiet.

The wedding had been designed with the idea of not stressing my Dad out, so it was just the two immediate families in a pub on the moors, followed by roast beef sarnies in a yurt outside the house, and live music by a very talented friend (as well as my sister, a kazoo, the lurcher who apparently knows how to bark in time, etc). I came in to “Bring me Sunshine” by Morecambe and Wise, wearing black jeans, a black and silver corset and a purple coat my mum made from a pattern called “Pirate Queen”, which will tickle anyone who knows about my lifelong penchant for pirates (and I may use that phrase as a title at some point now I’ve invented it). She even put pockets in it. My wedding dress had pockets!! I was very pleased about that. I hate not having pockets.

My mum also made some tremendous glimmering blue brocade waistcoats for the blokes, and my new husband looked splendid; channelling his inner pirate, clearly, though that was just incidental. In a surprise move, my mum even made a waistcoat for the dog who, when we put it on for a photo, seemed completely content and wandered off to steal (another) beef sarnie without waiting for us to take it off him again. My sister did the flowers, which were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. 

The bridesmaids, who had chosen their own dresses, all chose white in different styles, and all looked very stylish and very much themselves. The yurt was magical! We loved the yurt. The weather was mizzlish, but this is Yorkshire, and it does mizzle with style – besides which a dull sky actually suits the photos better – it makes all the people look really vivid and there are so many smiles that each photo is pretty sunny in any case.  I don’t tend to put up pics of friends or family for reasons of privacy but here’s one of me having been persuaded to channel my inner Mary Poppins. Spit spot!

 (The photographer was Richard Edwards who is extremely good, btw)


Apart from the missing family members, it was two shades better than I had hoped in pretty much every aspect you could think of. We sang “The Wild Rover” for my Dad, laughed and cried, often at the same time, had splendid local food and drink (ok, mostly, the wine was from Hampshire and the bubbly came from Cornwall), sang and chattered. All the olds got caught up in a vicious competition to see who could blow the biggest bubble (there were bubbles instead of confetti) and in most of the photos, someone appears to be laughing their head off. In any case, I enjoyed every moment of it. It was *such* fun – and about perfect.

Then, after that, newlywed life kicked in which as far as I can tell is very much like normal life but when absolutely nothing has got done in the house for about five months. The washing was tremendous and the garden had gone mad. The bathroom doorhandle fell off, the kitchen light stopped working and the downpipe for the rainbarrel was hanging in place apparently only because of the spiderwebs around it, though the same spiders had seen fit to make a massive web of the entire inside of the lean-to where I keep flowerpots and gardening gloves, so I had to fight my way in in with a crystal containing the light of Earendil in order to retrieve the trowel, which Shelob had taken a fancy to.  I went back to work and discovered my inbox, which usually holds about 85 items, had hit 1600 in my absence, and started to wonder whether I shouldn’t go back and have another chat with Shelob about that there gardening fork…! And then we ran out of teabags at a critical point (nooooooo!). 

So, a bit of elbow grease and we’re coming up to date on all of the above… but in the meantime, what of the damn books, which is why we’re here?

Weeelllllllll. Now it gets complex.

Last time you looked I was writing Mother, right? Well, my editor said it would be better if I cut the backstory. So I did, but it was about 15k words I was cutting, so I figured I’d release it as a short. So I rounded it off, but that meant doing a few explanatory bits. So when it hit 45k words I sent it back to the editor in question, who came back and said “How does Suze come in?” 

Damndamndamn. That little 5 word question would then require about a 45k word answer. So in it went, but then the chronology was all wrong, so I changed it, but then it was all wrong the other way, and this isn’t even the right damned book!! But it made sense to get the prequel right before going onto the sequel in case something significant went in that would cause repercussions later. I kid you not, that damn book (now called Flight from Shantar) has been over a year in the editing, and it got to the point where I couldn’t even see it any more. The one bright spot was when I got a bit click-happy with spellcheck and changed every instance of the word “Shantar” in the novel Flight from Shantar to “SHATNER”!!!… Thank goodness for the Undo button! (Though I still haven’t given up entirely on Flight from SHATNER!! – you *know* it would sell and sell…..!) 

Anyhow, it was all a bit irrelevant in any case, as I was too burnt out for anything in the first half of the year, and too busy sorting out Dad’s paperwork for my Mum. Once I’d got a bit of mojo back after that I went on a reading binge instead, which is always salutary… and then, come the beginning of July, just as the wedding stuff was really hotting up, I dreamed this great character, and it was a bit compulsive. I couldn’t get him and his heroine out of my head and there was stuff to be done, so I figured it was time to make some notes and just download the bugger. 

BUT these characters are arsey and not inclined to play nicely. 

Some notes! Yeah right, in the same sense as a map with a scale of 1:1. 

So by the end of August, these “notes” had taken the form of a 110k word book. At the time of writing, I’m 120k into book 2 and books 3 & 4 are all mapped out. As soon as I get to a sensible stopping place, I’m putting Flight back together and sending it to the editors (with the hope that fresh eyes will be able to sort out the chronology more easily than I can), so with a bit of luck that won’t need too much in the way of rewrites and might be out in early 2017. The new Christmas Lites anthology is due in December. I have a short story (currently 10k) in editing which is a sequel to Sprig of Holly, and when all that is put to bed, Mother of the Shantar is already 85k done, (Shatner, heheheheh) and ready to start culling characters!

Man, if I didn’t already have a fulltime job I would be adequately provided with writing hours just from this lot!!

So yes, as far as you lot are concerned, I’ve been off the radar for a rather long time with little enough to show on the actual publications page but a short story in last year’s Christmas Lites anthology (though I did help design the cover, which I totally love). But I haven’t let the writing drop – ohhhh nooooo – and I’m hoping the next 18 months or so should bring you the occasional release to remind you who I am.

We’ll see, eh?

Anyhow, there may be a couple of cover reveals and other interesting news brewing in the meantime, but that all very much tbc…

The new lot though, the new lot is looking interesting and this time I’m playing with the somewhat random idea of writing the entire thing before I release any of it, so that in theory you’ll be able to read the entire story arc from start to finish with only a couple of weeks’ wait from one book to the next. If anyone has any thoughts about that, I’d be really interested to hear them. Might be a good plan, might be stupid – no idea at the moment.

Just wait till you meet the Wolf and Lyse, though!!

I think you’re going to like them…. 

Till later:

JAC

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Morning peeps!

And here is a particularly splendid post for you all to enjoy. As you know, I have a short story named “A Sprig of Holly”. It was written for the first Christmas Lites charity anthology back in 2012, a sweet little adventure / romance written in the style of a Scandinavian folk tale (way, way before Frozen made it trendy. Afterwards I released it as a freebie with the hopes of spreading the word about the anthology a bit – all four of the current Christmas Lites anthologies are written in support of the NCADV, the American National Coalition against Domestic Violence.

Now as it was only an ebook, I bodged a cover until such time as I could get a decent one done, and that bodged cover was this:

(you may laugh, now I’ve got a better one). Sprig of holly bodge cover

 

But despite this non-splendidness, this little story has grown and grown in popularity until it has become the most frequently-downloaded text I’ve uploaded.

Now for a while I have been playing with the idea of doing a couple of  illuminated copies of some of the more fairytale of my stories, and I’ve been looking for a decent artist who might be able to do the illustrations. Someone suggested I should go and look on deviantart and I have to say, there are a lot of talented people on there. One of these is Wesley Souza, and he agreed to do an ebook cover for Sprig. Now, the development of this cover has been really interesting and I totally love the end result, so come with me on a journey through time and space (or at least through the last week or so) and let me show you just how talented an artist I have accidentally found.

So this is what we started with. I described Greta, a girl who lives with her grandfather in a cabin in the mountains, and the snowmaiden, a  figure that Greta carves from snow. We looked at a few varied possibilities for Greta, but this was the best and the most striking visually. The blue lady behind had the right kind of remoteness for the snowmaiden.

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This settled, Wesley began to work his magic. First he put them on the right kind of background, a snowy mountain landscape.

IMG_1119Then he put in a sunrise behind the mountain…

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After that he did some work on Greta’s hair….

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Followed by the snowmaid’s hair, and Greta’s sprig of holly…..
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After that, look at the details of the trees in front of the snowmaid’s skirt…

IMG_1123And then the snowmaid’s body, as of course she is made of snow (and I love the details of  the frost-patterns on her arms and face).
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Finally we discussed font; placement, choice of styles, and colour. We played about a bit until it was right, and he added the sparkles, just to make it more magical. So are you ready? Because here is my gorgeous new cover, for your delectation:

 

600x800smashwords_by_wesley_souza-d8tlltz

 

For anyone who’d like to read more, it’s free at Smashwords and should be at Amazon here: http://getBook.at/Sprig .

Also, go check out the rest of Wesley’s stuff at Deviantart here: http://wesley-souza.deviantart.com/  as it’s pretty exceptional!

So what do you think, peeps? Better than my homegrown effort, no?

hehehehe.

JAC.

The first breaktime of my first day at secondary school, I was a girl with a mission. The class I had just been in was in a room by the library, and there was investigation to be done.

I went into the library and did a circuit, mapping it out. I found the found the Fantasy section, full of names and titles and pictures of swords and dragons and pirates… and this thinnish green spine with the words “The Wyrd Sisters” on it. The what sisters? I pulled it out to see if the blurb would give me a clue. It sounded a lot like the Macbeth story out of my comic-book Shakespeare and I liked the name Granny Weatherwax, so I opened it to see what it was like. A few minutes later, I hooked a chair towards me with one foot and sat down to read, with a feeling of having come home…

Until secondary school, I found the school library a bit frustrating. At my primary school if you wanted Nancy Drew or Mallory Towers you had a really wide choice, but there was virtually nothing in there for me but a few of Ruth Mannings Sanders’ excellent collections.There wasn’t even any decent adventure stuff and  I didn’t see why I should read girl’s books just because I was a girl. I wanted adventure and dragons and swordfights and pirates.Sweet Valley High was never going to cut it. As the teacher pointed out there was baby versions of fairy tales or girls talking about makeup and boys, and that was a pretty clear choice wasn’t it? Of course it was. I went for the fairy tales, or at least the ones with good pictures.

At the time, that was pretty much it for kids. Fantasy wasn’t really very fashionable. However, one of my sisters is ten years older than me and being a horribly precocious reader,  I’d raided her bookshelves for interesting-looking titles such as Lord of the Rings and Anne McCaffrey so I knew there were some really good fantasy books – but sadly, they were out there, not in my primary school.

When I hit secondary school (about age ten), I headed straight up to the library. The entire Science Fiction and Fantasy section was two and a half shelves long – but in terms of seedcorn, it was pure magic. There was everything from Azimov to Zelazny and a whole load more. I found there one or two books each by names that would then send me down to the town library, the bookshop and even (when it got to us in the back of beyond) the internet. Anne McCaffrey was there, a couple of Andre Norton’s sci-fi and the first book of the Witch World series, Arthur C Clarke, a whole section of anthologies by then little-known authors such as Julian May and Diana Wynne Jones. Not only were there interesting books, but some stuff by women, which meant that the girls in the stories weren’t all pointless and fluttery and were far more inclined to hit the bad guy with a chair (or sword) when threatened than they were to weep, faint or call helplessly for the hero. The world opened up before me and it was full of dragons, and pirates and sword fighting – heady stuff!This was, moreover, much more the way stories should be. I was hooked.

So I read voraciously, omnivorously, and quite often, all night. The high point of my year was waiting for the new Pratchett to come out, and I read and re-read the others, finding new jokes with each reread, as my knowledge of the rest of the world of literature increased.  I loved Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax and have never decided which of the two I identify with more, or wanted to indentify with more. I enjoyed the sillier books and in particular liked Death as a character (and felt a bit affectionately sorry for him). The wizards made me laugh. The Patrician is a particular favourite. So many characters to savour… It took me three books’ worth of accidental all-nighters to work out that Pratchett doesn’t even use chapters so just reading to the end of the chapter is never going to work…

Over and above the firings of his imagination, Pratchett’s attention to phrasing and careful sculpting of words have always been a source of pleasure. In his latter years, I admired the way he could take an issue from the real world and parallel it in his own in such a way that it was gripping and thought-provoking. It left you thinking about the issue without ever feeling preached at, and that’s a skill in itself. Furthermore, his timing was impeccable; not only his comic timing but his feel for when to change direction.

Somewhere about the sixteenth or seventeenth book I started to wonder if Pratchett had “done” humour. I read and enjoyed the book, but it seemed to be missing the exuberance of some of the earlier ones. I was still going to continue reading his stuff of course, but I do remember thinking that it would be sad if he had got bored, because the reader can always tell. And then as if he had read my mind, he brought out Guards! Guards! and the whole tone was different. There was still the city and the world we knew and loved, and the whole architecture of the Discworld, but this was darker and more dangerous. People got killed and things mattered and there were consequences. This was not the “light fantastic” we had grown to expect from Pratchett! Oh no – this was something much more gripping, and it took his writing up to the next level. I loved it.

Of course, Sam Vimes is a character very dear to my heart. He goes through the world trying to do the right thing in a world where almost everything else is trying to make him do what is easy and a little more…grey. But Sam Vimes is bloody-minded enough – and honest enough – to persist in the face of  opposition, to keep looking for the truth when it would be so much easier to stop asking questions and accept the facile lies. Sam Vimes, in fact, acknowledges and accepts the darker half of himself, and uses it to power that part of him that struggles towards what is right.

And he wins. Unlike anything in real life, the world parts to let him through. And that is a fiction I very much want to believe.

I have to say, though, I’m impressed and touched by the response to the news of his death. People around the world have written about what his books mean to them, of course, and he has had an immense effect; but what is striking to me as a writer is the sheer number of people who have stories about emailing Terry and getting useful advice back, even when he was incredibly famous. The footprints he left are larger than just his books; as an author he seems to have extended a helping hand to many, many less famous writers, and that is a little legacy in its own right. Such a talented man; such a loss to literature as well as readers across the world. He touched a lot of lives.

So; goodbye and thanks, Terry. Your world-building and characters led me along the path to telling my own stories, and the thought that my book will sit on the same shelf as yours in that little school library is frankly thrilling. We will miss you, but at least you have not left us alone. I for one will be seeking solace in the company of Granny Weatherwax, the Librarian, Sam Vimes and other old friends to whom you introduced me.

Perhaps we’ll have a drink. Perhaps we’ll play Cripple Mr Onion. Almost certainly Nanny Ogg will get up on the table to sing ” The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered At All”. And although we were not there, I hope you will not mind if we wear the lilac, in memory of a man without whom the world is a slightly poorer place.

JAC

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Images:

Basket of lilac: Copyright serezniy

Single lilac flower:Copyright Oleksii Mikhieienko

Dear all:

Due to a mild disagreement between myself and my computer, the splendidly celebratory blog announcing that Song of the Ice Lord had now gone live…well, it remained in my computer. Unhelpful. I will be giving it a stern speaking to later. But Song is now indeed live, and at the introductory low price of $0.99 / £0.77 until Monday 14th July only.

SO

to celebrate (in retrospect) the release of Song of the Ice Lord, I am going to give away;

One signed paperback

One bracelet, handmade by a local glass artist

And one solar-powered hummingbird, would you believe?!

And (subject to availability) the pendant of the house of your choice from Game of Thrones).

Giveawayphoto 4

So – how do you win all this booty??

 

To enter, all you have to do is come up with songs for (dah dah dah…..)

“Game of Thrones – The Musical”.

 I want to know what the song is, who the artist is, and what character should sing it.

 

As an example, if this was Lord if the Rings you might enter

“Ring of fire” by Johnny Cash (as sung by Sauron)

or envisage a scene between Frodo and Sauron to the melodic strains of “Can’t Get you Out of my Head” by Kylie

or even

“You ain’t nothin’ but a Balrog” by Elvis, as covered by Gandalf.(Yeah, it’s cheating but it made me laugh)

 

 

So –

Same idea, but Game of Thrones-related please! The prizes will be shared amongst the ones that make me laugh the most (there may be ebooks or bookmarks for ones deserving of special mentions).

 

So that’s how to enter. And if you absolutely can’t wait till 13th July when I decide on the winner,  Song of the Ice Lord is now available for your viewing pleasure (rah!) at the following purveyors at the knockdown price of $0.99 / £0.77 until Monday 14th July at which point it will go up to $2.99: you have been warned.

 

Amazon UK:

Song of the Ice Lord (Parallels)

US:

http://www.amazon.com/Song-Ice-Lord-Parallels-Clement-ebook/dp/B00L72RTY0/

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/448648

B&N:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/song-of-the-ice-lord-ja-clement/1119745072?ean=2940046014785

Apple:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/song-of-the-ice-lord/id890151274?mt=11

 

It’s also in all the other stores Smashwords export to, so if not listed here, Google should find it.

 

but back to the giveaway! Game of Thrones – the musical, remember?.

Comment away peeps! there are prizes to be won, and if the entries are good enough, I might add more swag to the bag, esp if you send other entries my way.

I’ll start you off, shall I?

with an intro to the musical by the author himself.

George RR Martin, it’s time for your solo number! Roll the intro to: Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust”….

after which the curtains lift on… what? Your turn – comment away, peeps!

JAC

 

 

People!

Image courtesy of Angela Yuriko Smith

It’s that time of year again! the snow is falling on my blog, the Christmas tree pics are all over Facebook, and this year’s edition of our fabulous charity anthology, Christmas Lites 3, is now available on Amazon!

Some links are:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

and the paperback is currently available from Createspace

More sites are going live as we speak so if you prefer others, please do search in case it’s live and we just haven’t had confirmation of it yet!

Having had a sneak peek myself, I can tell you there are some absolutely stunning stories in there – and for those who knew the lovely and much-missed author C.S Splitter, there is a page of tributes to the man who was first to suggest that we should put together an anthology, and suggested that the charity we donate the proceeds to should be one that dealt with domestic violence.

Once again, all funds from the three Christmas Lites anthologies go straight into the bank accounts of the NCADV, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which acts as an umbrella organisation providing training and funding to all the smaller DV-related charities in the US.

I know I’ve told you this before, but when we were setting up the first Christmas Lites anthology, Splitter told us a story of how, one year, he was nominated Santa for his office party. He hired the costume, bought a bag of candy canes and headed off for the place where the party was; but he got a bit lost along the way, and ended up at an odd little building. He walked in, and there was a fair amount of fuss. How he’d got in he didn’t know, because there is normally a lot of security around a safe-house, but he apologised profusely.

During the course of the discussion he found out that all these women had fled violence in the days preceding, and were living in terror of being found by the people who should most care for them in the world. They had fled, in some cases with nothing other than their children and the clothes on their backs. For them, Christmas would not be a magical time of loving togetherness, of snuggling on the sofa watching TV in that fairly terrible sweater Auntie Ethel knitted, or of laughing over a criminally large turkey dinner. For them, Christmas was huddling together in a strange house, too numb to even wonder how to put the pieces of their lives back together.

It was very quiet. The building was full of children, but children who had learned the wisdom of being as quiet as possible. All of them knew – KNEW – that Santa was not coming down the chimney that year – and yet, Splitter realised that even though all he had in his sack was candy canes and sweets, at least  there was one thing that he could do for them.

And so they took him into the main lounge where everyone was sitting, and he boomed “Ho ho ho! A Merry Christmas to one and all!” and was besieged by delighted kids who all got a candy cane. It wasn’t much, but to them that solitary piece of stripy peppermint was a little bit of Christmas, and it meant a lot to them.

All of them wanted to talk to Santa, and he ended up stopping for a couple of hours, rather than the twenty minutes he had imagined. By the time he got to the office party, it was pretty much over. Drinks had been drunk, the mistletoe had been thoroughly invoked, and there wasn’t much of the evening left; but the boss had noticed his absence and was sober enough to enquire. He told her the story, and she went quiet, very quiet.

The following day was Christmas Eve, and Splitter was somewhat unimpressed to get a call from his boss asking him to come into work, but  she was a Jewish lady and didn’t celebrate Christmas so there was no particular reason for her to take time off either. Besides, he had been thinking he might be in trouble for being late to the party, so he didn’t quibble. He arrived at work to find the boss waiting in the carpark with the boot of her car full of toys. She apologised for interrupting his Christmas, but explained that she needed him to show her where the shelter was so that she could make her delivery. Splitter went with her back to the shelter, and helped her to unload sack after sack after sack of toys. They asked the pair to come in and help distribute them to the children, and from the way he told the story, the way those kids’ eyes lit up stayed with him for a long, long time afterwards.

So this is why we put together our anthology every year. For everyone who has ever been the victim of violence, or the survivor of it: this is for you. For every mother who has had to grasp the remnants of her shattered courage in two hands, and walk out of the door into the great unknown because it was the only way she could protect her children: this is for you. For every child who has lain awake listening for heavy footsteps and raised voices and the terrible slap of fist on flesh: this is not how it should be, and this is for you.

This is our attempt to make something which will help all of you, by helping to keep the shelters open so that there is a place you can run to, by helping to train the people so that they know how to help you, by helping to fund the organisations so that they can provide you with another set of clothes, a travel ticket to another place, whatever.

For us – or certainly for me – Christmas is a time of joy and laughter, of relaxing with loved ones, and enjoying the togetherness of cooking and eating, and of watching really old films or falling asleep on the sofa, of giving silly presents and useful presents and clever presents and apt presents, and of using this time to really appreciate the wonderful people with whom I am surrounded, and my incredible good luck in the places and circumstances in which I live.

This being the case, I wish just such a fun, goodnatured Christmas to all of you.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better get back to ODS.  But I might have a little re-read of a couple of the stories in the anthology first.. just one, or maybe two. Well, maybe three…

Catch you later peeps!

JAC

Oi, WordPress, what’s going on?! I just wrote a long post with the latest updates and  WordPress just ate it – it’s not even in Drafts! Grrr….

Okay, run out of time now. Potted version:

a) Happy Easter.

b) Snow. Oooh, cold! Big drifts in this neck of the world, most spectacular.

c) Busy! Lots of moving house and changing jobs of late but hopefully a quiet spell is due so a bit of editing is happening in spare moments.

What editing? Initial corrections on the bit cut from Book 3, which will be released as a separate in the Parallels series (current working title Flight from Shantar, but that’s a bit clunky I think. Thoughts, anyone?). When this is sent off to my excellent word-surgeon, last lot of corrections and inputs to be done for another short in the Parallels series, a bit of back story called Song of the Ice Lord at the current time. This is nearly done, and will then go to the formatter and (if enough remains for a paperback) to Regina for a cover as well.

Then I should be thoroughly back in the swing of writing and back up to speed for picking up Book 3 and seeing what happens next. I know, I know, it’s not put on a back-burner – only it will take a bit longer to finish, so I might as well get these ones out so you have something to read in the meantime.  Besides, then when you pick up Book 3, you’ll know how the Mother got there and who all the other characters are. Are there a lot of them? Of course there are. But I hope you’ll like spending time with them too…

d) Book 3 – still at 15k but ongoing plotting and planning means that soon as I’ve finished with the others, it should go quite quickly if nothing else happens to eat up my writing time. Watch this space.

Anyhow, going to sulk now as my first version was MUCH better and more eloquently written than this one. Not impressed, WordPress!

Have a lovely Easter, all;

JAC

 

 

 

Hey all:

It’s been a bit quiet around here of late, so just a quick update for you . Partly it’s been a bit quiet because my job has just gone mental as well as the fact that it’s house-moving season again, so all the usual time-consuming housey stuff is going on.  However, I haven’t stopped my writing (I am constitutionally incapable of doing so for more than a couple of weeks at a stretch) so I thought I’d give you all a little taste of what’s coming up in the second half of the year.

So: of my own stuff, there are a few main bits that have been keeping me busy:

a)       Inputting the last corrections to the proof copy of the paperback so I can finally, finally hit that “Publish” button. Currently about halfway through it – I’ll need to get another proof to check I haven’t missed anything but only a few steps away now! Exciting!

b)      Writing a short story for a Christmas anthology, currently titled The Locket. If you ever wondered what Nereia was like as a little girl, or wanted to know a bit more about her parents, you should enjoy this.

c)       Adding to the Parallels series of related shorts. You know when you get an idea and you think it’s going to be maybe five thousand words and then you hit twenty five thousand and wonder how that happened? This was one of those. Twenty seven centuries before Nereia and Mary’s time, there was a terrible war that raged across the world. Great armies swept across one country after the next, killing and burning everything in their path. Who was the uncanny leader who did not lust so much for world domination as absolute destruction? The Making of the Circle will explain.

d)      Expanding and editing a short from last year’s Christmas Lites anthology to release as a separate. My current intention is that the royalties from the separate will also go to the charity NCADV but the story will be available on Amazon.co.uk and the rest (which the anthology isn’t) and I’ll put a link in the back to the anthology’s Createspace page, which hopefully might spark a few more sales from this side of the water.

So that’s what’s lined up for my lunchtimes and commutes for the foreseeable. After that, there may well be a few guest blogs on the way. I’m currently working with a few other first-time authors so that they don’t have to make the mistakes that I already did!

Watch this space for more about:

–         J. Lee Dean, with historical fiction novels “The Turncoat” and “The Way Home”.

–         Jo Edwards, author of “Work-Wife Balance” which tells of the mishaps of a woman trying to hold down a job and family

–         Dulcie Feenan, whose stories describe the ups and downs of life in a small village in England

and none other than my own Mum, whose short story has just come out of editing and is due for release as soon as I can format it!

Busy busy! But it’s all good. And once my various bits of writing are out I’ll be getting on with the last part of Book 3, which is currently at 90k words and has a while more to go. (You see, you lot said you wanted longer texts and that’s just what you’ll get – no idea how long it will be at the current time but I’m aiming at somewhere between 100k-150k, depending on when I get to a sensible stopping place).

So that’s this year and probably at least a part of next year sorted… Have I mention how much I love this publishing lark??

< pipedream >

Now all I need to do is earn enough to go part-time and I’ll be firing books out so fast my editors will beg for mercy!

< / pipedream >

Probably the readers too, alas….

Anyhow, enough listing of stuff and more doing of work, methinks! I’ll finish for now but do watch this space – soon as I have the last proof sorted and checked through I’ll be talking launch dates, and unless we’re moving house at that time there will be online contrafibularities involved (and possibly a crafty pint for anyone local enough to get to London and interested enough to partake)!

Have a good one, peeps, and will catch up with you later;

JAC

Dear all;
Today we have a guestpost and giveaway by the lovely Splitter, author of The Reluctant and it’s sequel The Willing. At the end will be a giveaway – a free copy of each and all you need to do to enter is comment with your worst joke or most embarrassing moment!

Alas at the mo my computer is offline & am having to upload this from my phone so apologies if the formatting is all shonky- I’ll sort that out later.

So here are Splitter’s books on Amazon (check out those reviews!) and will leave you with him!
JAC

Splitter’s page on Amazon.co.uk

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And Now for Something Completely Different: The US vs. the U.K.

No, I am not trying to rekindle unpleasantness that was settled more than 200 years ago. This post is about two countries separated by a common language who share completely different cultures.

Living in the US, we are somewhat insulated from the rest of the world. As a matter of fact, our largest export just might be our culture (for good or ill). Our television shows, movies, music, and books, end up all over the world. Most of us don’t take a lot of notice of things made elsewhere.

I guess I am a bit different because I have been a fan of British television since I was a kid. Dr. Who anyone? I, Claudius? I even watched soccer (sorry, I know that is a bad term over there but we have our own version of “football” and we get confused) and became a Manchester fan. We only got these movies and programs through our state’s public television stations and they were sandwiched between really worthless programming. But I loved them even though I did not always understand them.

Now, with the advent of satellites and cable, we are exposed to far more entertainment from around the world. Recently, my wife and I found BBC America on our cable system. They even show some old American shows that I still love like Star Trek the Next Generation.

But the most wonderful thing about BBC America is the programming that comes from Britain. Yes, they blur the naughty bits when there is nudity and bleep language too foul for our American ears (drives me nuts!), but the shows are outstanding!

We have a long history of stealing the best British TV shows and Americanizing them. “All in the Family” was a great old example and these days, we have “Being Human” among others. The thing is, there is nothing like the original.

In the newer British shows, I have been tremendously impressed with the writing and acting. I have favorite American TV shows too, but Hollywood turns out more trash than treasure by a wide margin. Britain seems to hit the nail on the head far more often.

Just some examples:

Luther: Who knew Stringer Bell had that accent? This show is spooky and deep with very conflicted characters. But our question is: Where are all the people? Luther is always running around an empty city. What gives? And maybe you should consider giving your police guns because Luther gets beat up a lot…by criminals with guns.

Torchwood: Ahhhh, a secondary character that should have been killed becomes a star. That’s ok, I like that woman. Great stories, but do you all really have such a problem with aliens? Why have we not heard anything about this? Seems like all of the police over there know about it. Your people are obviously better at keeping secrets than our people.

Bedlam: Now we are talking! All the actresses are super hot. My wife says the main guy is too…but she is married to me so if you question her taste, I understand. Insane Asylum turned condominium complex = win.

Fades: Maybe my favorite. Again, I find it hard to believe that so many people are dying and no one notices, but I am willing to suspend disbelief. I write fiction so I understand the need to play with reality a bit for the story. GREAT characters. I especially like the friend who is obsessed with women and Mork and Mindy. Really, though, my British friends….do all of your young men walk around in the same pink pants every day?

I had to make a stop on my blogtour here on JAC’s (that what I call her) blog because she has been such a supporter and is a talented writer in her own right. I am not sure that there is a large international market for my books because they are rather “American” in setting and language. My writing is also rather American and JAC and I have discussed the differences in styles before. So I am not sure you all will like them, but I did want you to know that some of us do appreciate what you have to offer. Maybe my books can be one of the things we export that the rest of the world might actually appreciate.

Eh, who am I kidding.

By the way, sorry for that whole “late to WWII” thing. And thanks for the Beatles. We do hope you are enjoying McDonalds, though.

I know…you all might have gotten the better end of the deal with the whole colony thing.

Splitter
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so peeps- to get your free copies of Splitter’s very entertaining books, all you need to do to enter is comment with your worst joke or most embarrassing moment!

We will post the winner over the weekend, and you may have the ebook in whatever format you specify.

Thanks for dropping by, all – now, enter below!
JAC

Hey all;

How’s things?

There are many posts I could and probably should be writing (not to mention the edits) but at the moment one thing that’s playing on my mind is the nature of achievement, and how we recognise it. In part these musings (rather more philosophical than is my wont) have been brought on by work, and in part due to my edits, and also because a year ago I signed up to FutureMe.org and wrote myself a letter.

FutureMe.org allows you to basically send an email into the future. I wrote one to myself specifying that I should have released at least two items on ebook, be in edits on the third and have the paperback out by this summer – and guess what? ODS1 and Parallels 1 are already out in ebook, I’m in edits on ODS2 and I plan to have the paperback out by summer if not before. That’s quite cool – I have done as planned, though it isn’t necessarily in the same order I intended!

The thing is, though, that these are concrete, measurable achievements and so they are easy to specify and tick off. There is another type of achievement which should also be celebrated – perhaps more so because it is more difficult – but is rarely ever noticed, never mind celebrated.

What type of achievement is this? It happens around all of us, every day, and the chances are that we never even notice it, even when we are the ones who are doing it. Quite simply, it is working hard to do what is necessary, day in day out, with no hope of any amelioration or recognition but doing a superb job just because you believe that it should be done well.

That’s fine short term, and can even be exhilarating if you have an end date; but long-term it gets so that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. That’s why it’s so hard; there’s no pay-off, and no let-up, and no feeling of achievement. You never finish the job; you just finish the day as best you can, and soon enough that becomes just the way it is and you get too ground down to even think about it.

We all find ourselves in this position at some point. It can be something you do at work – after all every office has the arsey person who kicks their feet, the pointless person who says “yes” and never gets it done or does it so badly you end up redoing it yourself – and the conscientious person who you go to because they might be busy as hell but if you ask, they’ll help and they’ll do it to a superb standard.

It can also be at home though, and you will find it in a variety of forms; the parent who is always there in time to pick you up from school, the partner who always  has all your clothes washed and ironed or makes you a delicious dinner every night; the child who quietly comes in and lays the table for tea or picks up after their messier siblings without being asked. It can be the grandparent who babysits three days a week and is always on call when your child is sick and you’re at work. It can be the friend who you don’t even have to ask to give you a hand with moving  the sofa or painting the wall, because they’ve already volunteered. More importantly, when someone is sick or elderly, it can be the carer who is always there to help, quietly cheerful and making the sufferer feel that they are not a burden on their carer but a friend in need.

These people – all of these people – are the people who we should respect and appreciate. You find them everywhere, and they are so under-appreciated.

(Those of you who have read ODS will know that I even made my heroine one of them, because I thought she needed to be someone with that strength of will that they display. The main character, Nereia, spends long days trying to scrape together enough money to keep herself and her younger sister Mary fed and to buy their freedom for another week, and that of her young friend Bet too, when she can. Nereia goes through some bad times but this hopeless, unthanked determination of just surviving the day gives her the core of steel she needs). Nereia would be shocked to hear it, but she is one of these people;  she gets on with it, and though she is in hard circumstances she does her best to help her friends when they are in trouble. Fictional characters have the advantage that change is planned for them, however, whereas we in the real world do not.

All around us ordinary people are doing extraordinary things, and it has become so ingrained that they don’t even know it, never mind question whether it will get better. They don’t look for attention; all they do is get themselves through the day as best they can, and help those around them to do the same. This is an extraordinary thing to do, though; when you have barely the energy or the hope or the time to drag yourself to the end of the day, to expend energy and humour helping other people on their own journey is no small thing either.

So this blog is for all of you out there who know just what I’m talking about here, who do what you do quietly, cheerfully, well and almost totally unthanked. People are noticing and appreciating what you do – but it sometimes feels a bit weird to stop on a perfectly normal day and say “Hey, thank you for everything.” Doesn’t mean they’re not thinking it, though.

So let me say:

Conscientious workers; I am so proud of you. You do sterling work, stay cheerful and helpful, and never get recognised. You are the backbone of the office, and without you everything falls apart. It might not get you a raise, or a certificate or anything like that, but it is a privilege to work alongside you.

Family members: you work to keep the family afloat, and often don’t ask for or get much in the way of appreciation. Sometimes you get taken for granted; but what you do makes a difference to the way your family’s life runs, and that is important.

Carers; you have such a hard job, because apart from all the work you do for them, you keep your charge cheerful. When you’re tired and stressed, that is no small achievement.

And everyone out there who struggles to get through the day; remember tomorrow might bring something new. Nothing goes on forever, though often it feels that way. Keep hold of the hope and sometimes (not always in the way you’re expecting)  things do get better. Hold on just one more day…  and tomorrow, hold on for just one more. You’ve been doing that for a while now, but things will let up, one of these tomorrows.

There are a million people out there who should be appreciated and given respect. These are just some of them – so who would you like to put forward? If there is a special person that you think should get a bit of appreciation, give them a shout-out!

JAC

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ODS links US UK B&N

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Morning peeps!

And here we are with barely ten days to Christmas, with a very seasonal post for you!

For the English, Christmas means Pantomime season, and panto is so much a part of the national psyche that for me it was a real surprise to find out that they don’t do pantomime all over the world, but apparently so.

For those of you who have never experienced the madness of panto, you are about to meet one of the great phenomena of Englishness… If you haven’t a clue what we’re on about, shout and we’ll explain what pantomime is and what the conventions are!

So without further ado (and not too much heckling from the back), let me  hand over to Lexi who will introduce the main character’s for tonight’s entertainment….

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PANTOMINE SEASON IN PUBLISHING

It’s the pantomime season – who were the heroes, villains and pantomime dames of the literary world in 2011? It’s a matter of opinion, so take your pick from the following suggestions.

  •  Look out, he’s BEHIND you! Amazon is the big bad villain, twirling his moustache and swirling his cape. Counts against him this year: stealing the livelihood of bookshops (many of them small, local and independent), seducing innocent young indies with the evil KDP Select scheme, banning innocuous authors from their forums, and generally attempting world dominance in a manner worthy of a Bond villain. Publishers had never noticed indies were making them money, until nasty Amazon wanted to keep them all to itself. Boo! In November, famously nice Michael Palin criticized Amazon – nuff said.
  •  And swarming behind Amazon, alarming many a blogger, are the Orc-like hordes of self-publishers, who have the temerity to seek readers – even though they have been told frequently by the gatekeepers to Go Away, their writing is Not Good Enough, and certainly can’t compete with the likes of Katie Price or Pippa Middleton. They are also known as the Tsunami of Crap, through which desperate readers will be forced to wade in search of a decent read.
  •  Cinderella: she is every indie author with a good book the traditional publishing industry won’t touch, drooping disconsolately and patronized by passing literary agents. She keeps writing because she has to. Wash off the cinders, and she does not look all that different from the lucky elite who do have invitations to the publishing ball.
  •  Fairy Godmother: the Kindle, without which Cinderella would not have been able to go to the ball. There are other, lesser fairies around, but their light is dimmed by Fairy Kindle. Watch out for Fairy Fire, surely coming soon to the UK, Fairy Nook, and Fairy Kobo, to be found in WH Smith’s.
  •  Prince Charming: Appearing now in Good Cop guise, it’s Amazon again, who scoops indie author Cinderella from her hopeless situation and enables her to sell her books, sometimes in rather large numbers. Sad to say, Prince Amazon is not in love with Cinders; his eye is fixed firmly on the bottom line. He believes she will contribute to his wealth and standing in the kingdom. She will stick with him as in spite of all his faults, he promises her a brighter future than…
  •  Buttons: Mark Coker, proprietor of Smashwords, helping Cinders with her chores, wanting to share his humble home with her, but ultimately not offering anything like as much as the Prince.
  •  Whoever that character was who offered Jack five beans in exchange for his cow: Penguin, with their scheme to take advantage of indie authors by volunteering to format and load their books to KDP for a mere $549 plus 30% of their profits in perpetuity. And Penguin’s beans won’t turn out to be magic, either.
  •  Pantomime dame: Katie Price, best selling novelist, an ornament to Random House’s author list.
  •  Pantomime horse: Authonomy, which some of us believed was a racehorse when it first appeared. We were wrong. Sorry, Scott Pack, but does anyone take it seriously any more? What, exactly, has it achieved in three years, except to waste a great deal of its members time?

Do you agree with my choices – have I missed anyone? Whom would you suggest?

Lexi

Replica UK    Replica US    Remix UK      Remix US

www.lexirevellian.com

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So, what do you think? Do you agree, disagree, or need explanation? Many thanks to Lexi for that, and do weigh in and let us know who your own candidates would be!

Any thoughts?

JAC