By way of apology

It doesn’t look like I’ll have an illustration up for last Thursday. My excuses are divided three ways and evenly among new parenthood, a fairly heavy lecturing load last week, and ‘scheduled maintenance’ on the host servers, which seemed to shut down my ability to post for most of the week. By way of offering up something else, pasted below is a link to a couple videos recorded at the Sussex Folktale Centre. I have no connection with this centre, and found the links via Terri Windling’s rather wonderful blog. They are exactly the sort of obscure thing that is hard to find, except by accident. Well worth watching.

A link to the videos here.

Journal and updates

I’m going to see if I can start up some posting with updates and (hopefully relatively brief) thoughts and reflections on writing. I’d like these to stand out from the ongoing fiction I’m posting. To that end, I’m going to play around with fonts and colours.

These life updates won’t be regular. It’ll largely depend on me having something I want to say.

And, yes, this post is awfully short, I know, but it will have to do for now. It’s getting onto be late and I’m barely keeping my eyes open. Time to sign off for the day.

 

Old Dark Things: Freebee Promotion

Currently free until the 15th at Amazon… or, at least I think until the 15th… you might want to grab it sooner rather than later, as I’m still getting used to how the Amazon free promotion system works. I will, however, be re-running the promotion as regularly as possible. Also, feel free to email me at hobgoodfellowe@gmail.com if you want me to email you a freebee copy.

The Amazon promotion has ended, but if you’d like a copy, no obligation for a review, just send me an email.

Old Dark Things

Well, it’s done. At about 150k words, Old Dark Things is a dark, folkloric stand-alone fantasy set in Clay-o-the-Green, the same world as The Winter King.

My plan is to run it through Kindle Select for a while to start off with, so that I can make the book available as a free product over at least a couple promotional periods. We’ll see how that goes. If I don’t get a lot of take-up in terms of downloads via Amazon, I’ll withdraw it from Kindle Select (but leave it on the Amazon regular service), and then upload copies here and at Smashwords so that the novel will at least be easy to get hold of.

Either way, I plan to make the novel free using the promotional options via Kindle Select as much as possible. It should be easy to grab the work for free directly from Amazon, one way or another. Once Old Dark Things is up and available I’ll link to it directly, and make public some planned freebee dates. If you miss one window you can then easily grab the next one.

New Years Thoughts

Well, it has been an interesting, odd and difficult year. Personally, 2016 was full of both wonderful life events and a lot of hard trials. I have come through it, and although I am perhaps not unscathed, I am feeling positive about the future. Yes, it has been a somewhat bleak year for me in many respects. I ran right into a swamp of fear and misgivings that I did not anticipate at all, and spent much of the middle of the year wondering if I was perhaps being very foolish about this whole writing thing. I got myself tangled up with fear in a very serious way. Worries about mistakes and failures ground me down into a place where I simply stopped writing for several months. This was quite serious for me. I haven’t stopped writing for more than a couple weeks for the last twenty-odd years. It got to a point where I wasn’t quite sure that I knew who I was any longer.

But I am feeling more my old self again. A bit of time away from work to regather my thoughts, and allow myself some stillness, has helped a lot, as did the support of people around me. I don’t now how the next year will pan out, but I have reached a point where I feel that I have accepted some things, and understood some things, and these things will be a help to me in the future.

So what is my advice to myself this year? Sometimes we have to take time to shore up the bricks of our own identities. Sometimes we need to actively, not passively, do some work on self-confidence. It is alright to like the things you like. It’s alright to be you. And you know what? It’s also alright sometimes to look at yourself, your work, life, family, whatever is valuable to you, and just feel good about it. Sometimes it is just fine to make a cup of tea, and sit, and watch the leaves of trees blowing in the wind outside, and just say to yourself, well, this is nice, isn’t it? I don’t think I’d rather be anywhere else than here, and here is just fine by me. Sometimes, we just need to give ourselves a break, in both senses of the word.

Fair Upon the Tor Drafting

I have made some small headway with Fair Upon the Tor, enough so that I’m considering posting the first draft as I write it… or perhaps, not quite as I write it, but in thousand-word chunks. I think I’m also going to switch comments on. I don’t expect I’ll see much in the way of feedback, although I guess we shall see.

At this point I will aim for the first-draft-in-progress to go live with regular to semi-regular Monday updates. I might even throw in some related illustration work too.

Sort of related to this, sort of unrelated, I discovered Songgu Kwon’s Elf webcomic over the weekend and read it start-to-finish in a couple sittings. It is quite a bizarre tale (in a good way), and wandering, and beautifully illustrated, and also oddly and powerfully character-driven in a way that stories that claim to be character-driven often are not. Well worth checking out, if you haven’t already.

I suppose reading Elf made me reflect on other people who have posted creative works in progress. Given that my plan is to give it all away free anyway, it doesn’t seem all that terrible an idea to post bits of it as I am going. Yes, it may mean that I post something that is unpolished and will need a second or third pass to get it into shape. But, on the other hand, it will also impose a sense of urgency around actually getting the work done… which I think I now need to place on myself, one way or another. There’s a point where feeling exhausted and bleed-out ceases to be a good reason to remain in a state of slow trudging. Sometimes I think the only way to get back into a good pace, is just to start running again.

Is Beauty

camille_pissarro_the_boulevard_montmartre_at_night

 

The Boulevard Montmartre at Night

Camille Pissarro

There is a quote from Pissarro I like. I read it once on one of those little white placards they have in galleries, the small micro-essays that sit beside the painting. Have you ever noticed how people tend to spend more time reading those little placards than looking at the paintings? Others have noticed this too. Some galleries have been removing the cards entirely in an attempt to remove some of the filter between the visitor and the art. Anyway, the quote: The whole of the world is beauty. The art is in the seeing.

I remember reading that and being quite struck by it. It agrees with my own experience of the world. Everything has a beauty in it. Ugly things are not ugly the whole way through. Look at them from another angle and they become radiant, beautiful, enchanting. There are whole swathes of art based on the search by the artist for the beautiful in the overlooked and the mundane, the grotesque, the weird and the frightening.

I am going to attempt some sort of regular update around the writing hereon. I have returned to Fair Upon the Tor, and done some more detailed outlining. I recently discovered Jim Butcher’s writing advice, and although I don’t necessarily want to write books like Butcher’s, some of the advice was interesting enough for me to decide to give it a shot. I already had a rough outline of the story, but I’ve now returned to it and tried more clearly to add a ‘big middle’, as Jim calls it, as well as character tags (features, whether emotional, moral, physical or mental that only belong to this particular character in this story), and traits (words that are only or almost only used in association with this character in the story). I’ve thought a bit about introducing characters using characteristic action (an action that is highly definitive of the character), and I’ve thought about Butcher’s emotion/reaction/plan sequence.

I have also started, very gently, a novel that I’m aiming to be for sale to a traditional publishing house. I’m not sure how easily I’ll be able to flip from one story to the other. Doing that never used to bother me, but, on the other hand, I used to write every day (and did so for years and years), but then ceased writing entirely about six to eight months ago. The reasons why I simply stopped were mixed. I have been reflecting, for a while now, that I have been writing for a long time, twenty years or more, and I have not really got anywhere with it. Surely, if I were any good, if I were going to succeed, then I would have by now? And yet, I keep writing books, and I keep trunking them… I have over a million words worth of various novels on my hard drive and I’m not at all confidant that any of them are very good. I also had a fairly scathing workshop experience at about the same time, as well as being overwhelmed by real life responsibilities and a feeling that I wasn’t living up to my more general life and work duties. It all added up to make me just stop. I stopped writing. Stopped drawing and painting. Stopped working on games. Stopped everything. It’s going to be a process getting back into the swing of things, but I am resolved to do it.

So, as a part of this I am going to attempt to update this blog regularly. I may not have a lot to say, but, at the very least I can still check in and let people know I’m still working at things.