In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

An Outright Stonker

 Well, the good news is that I've finished the rewrite of The Death of Ghosts. Since I submitted it to Angry Robot that really needed to be done before they got back to me - which they still haven't, by the way. It's three and a half months now since the open submissions period closed. Maybe they like me.

 The bad news is that I've torn something in my bad knee. I've been limping for a week now and it's getting worse rather than better. There's a hard bump on the top edge of the kneecap which is so tender that the moment I touch it I start yodelling. I suspect it's a knot of tendon or something similar. I see the doc on Wednesday so just got to wait until then.

 Death of Ghosts is a great story. To an extent it's an old tale, the one where an ancient evil awakes and the poor people of today have to scrape together enough strength to defeat it, if they can. But I think I have a new spin on it. There isn't just a Big Bad from the past, there's a Big Good too, though of course it's not that clear-cut. At the end of Ghosts no one really knows what's going on, or why strange things keep happening. It's in volume two, for the moment called Mermaid's Purse, that answers begin to come. By the way, Mermaid's Purse is what people used to call skate's eggs, when they washed up on the beach. Google them, they're really weird.

 I'm taking a break before I start that though. The deadline for this year's Yeovil Prize is the end of the month, and I want to submit Isles of Eternity - and that promises to be an outright stonker of a novel. It's packed with stuff, scholars and mad kings, power-hungry priests from the temples of countless gods... and a people called the goat-fish, who live in the marshes and are said, in myth, to know of an island where the waters bring immortality. The story follows Mani, a sort of professor who deals with the goat-fish, and an insane king named Sarru-kin who wants to live forever and comes trampling into Mani's life. So I'll do the opening 15,000 words or so of Eternity, submit it to Yeovil, and then go back to Mermaid's Purse.

 Good thing I only work two days a week at the moment, eh?

 Mind you, being at home isn't exactly restful, with a 3-month-old baby around. Izzy's sweet-natured, quiet and alert - until you put her down, or stop talking to her, or lie her in the cot, and so on. Then she turns into the Queen of Shriek, it's most vexing. Still, she sleeps through most nights now,, so I suppose I shouldn't complain. And I'm not, really. Look how gorgeous she is.

 We're going to get her weighed again on Wednesday, for the first time in a month. My guess is she's close to a stone now. The way she eats, she should be the size of a hippo.

 Love you to bits, pickle.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Glad to be Back

 Hello from North Devon. Yes, the family is back where we started, and glad to be here. To be honest (making friends here) Yeovil is a pretty grotty town. It's really just brick boxes in one suburban avenue after another. Worse, even though it's home to a prestigious writing competition, the Yeovil Prize, there's not even a writers' group at the town's library. I asked and they suggested I talk to staff at Waterstone's.

 Anyway, we're glad to be out. I've found my feet in my new job, which in honesty wasn't hard, since it's almost exactly the same as my old job only without the stress and with only half as much frenetic work. The problem is that though I'm contracted for two days a week, I was told at interview there would be more hours available covering other stores, and that turns out not to be true. The company doesn't want to pay for overtime at all. I could have made three days' pay work, I can't make two days' work. Time to look around.

 Meanwhile, I've still not heard from Angry Robot. It's three months since their open submissions period ended, so by now they must surely have reviewed at least one of the three novels I emailed in. They're planning another open door period in 2017, which means they must have all the submissions from this last period dealt with by then, and the successful ones published. So they can't waste time wiffling about . I must admit I'm becoming hopeful. We'll see.

 I now have to ready an entry for the Yeovil Prize (horrible town though it is). I don't want to use one of the Angry Robot submissions, so I'm thinking I might use The Playground of Fawns. This is a novel set in a culture like ancient China, a place full of magics both real and imagined, and also packed with ambition and treachery. The story follows people caught up in a civil war after the Emperor is assassinated, and has lots of strong characters. Kun is an ex-army man who lucked his way into lands and titles, Lian a woman sold by her parents so they could feed their younger children, and Xiao an expert warrior who can't find commissions because he's an albino. I think there's a thumping good tale in there. I haven't been working on it because I have twelve million other things to write (slight exaggeration), plus enough events in the real world to fill five lifetimes (not an exaggeration at all).

 Some of those events now call me. By which I mean I want to read Zookeeper Zoe to my daughter again. It's the umpty-dozenth time and I would pretend to be weary of it... but I'm not really.

 Bye for now.