Tuesday 30 August 2011

Creating A World of Fairies . . .

My 8 year old neice lost a tooth the other week. As usual she placed the tooth under her pillow and went to sleep dreaming of the tooth fairy coming to replace her tooth with a shiny coin that she could spend. But the tooth wasn't the only thing she left. She also left a tiny little pad, and on each page was a question for the fairy.

It was such a sweet thing that my sister-in-law had to answer the questions, but there was a problem. My neice knew her handwriting and so she needed to come up with an alternative. Me.

I had a field day with this. I brought a little pad with a picture of a fairy on the front and I copied and answered each and every question. In doing so I actually created an entire world of fairies and their habitat, something that became so real in my mind that who knows where it could lead with future writing projects.

Allow me to share how the tooth fairy answered the questions of an 8 year old girl:

Why do you need our teeth?

Teeth have a lot of something called 'Calcium' inside them. We use this calcium to make other teeth and help all the animals out there who have toothaches or who need new teeth.

What do you eat?

We eat anything nature can give us.

What happens when you lose your teeth?
When we lose our teeth we put them with all the others that we have collected to help other animals in need.

Who takes your teeth away?

We are in charge of our own teeth and take them to the collection ourselves.

Do you have pets?

No, we don't have pets but we have many wild friends.

What do you make our teeth into?

We use the 'Calcium' in your teeth to make and mould or repair other teeth for all the animals.

Are you scared of anything?

No, but we are very shy which is why you never see us.

Do you have babies?

Yes we have families, and our young fairies go to fairy school to learn how to become good tooth fairies.

How big is your food?

Our food can be tiny nibbles to something much bigger than us depending on what we can find. We always cut it down to size and share.

Where do you get your powers?

Our powers come naturally to us, just like you can naturally talk, run around and climb trees.

How big is the world to you?

The world is a very big place to us, but when flying it doesn't take long to get round.

What are your houses like?

Some build houses with twigs and leaves. Others like to live in trees or bushes. Trees are our favourite places as they last a long time and keep us warm and cosy.

Do you live under mushrooms?

No, but we do like to play around them and use them as umbrellas when it rains.

What do you wear?

Spider webs make lovely silk and we use this to weave and make material which makes our clothes. We use flowers to make the material into different colours.

Who are your friends?

My best friend is another fairy called Taloula. She has long blonde hair and blue eyes. But I am also very good friends with other fairies and lots of insects and animals.

Do you have teddies?

Young fairies do. These are made with the same spider webs that make our clothes.

Are you friends with bugs?

Some of our bestest friends are bugs. We love having piggy back rides with butterflies, moths and dragonflies. They are very nice and very pretty. Spiders are very friendly to us and very helpful too. They love weaving their webs for us to use. Lady birds are always funny and make us laugh.

It's surprising how much sense this all made to an 8 year old girl...

Friday 26 August 2011

Pic of the Week . . . Brian Froud

So, are you the sort of person who believes in faeries at the bottom of the garden? Do you believe woodlands and forests to be filled with the enchanted?

I was reminded of the work by Brian Froud today. I didn't know of him personally, but remember his magnificent contributions to films such as the Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. I didn't realise he was a full time artist, and I've fallen in love with his work (which isn't surprising for me. I seemed to fall in love quite easily). Do you remember the film 'Labyrinth? With David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly? It was one my all-time favourite child movies, with Goblins and creatures galore, and probably one of the main reasons why I love fantasy. Well, Mr Froud done the art work for it. . .

Anyway, here's some of the work from Brian Froud. Both his wife and himself are artists and get their inspiration from Dartmoor (UK). My parents live not far from there and we've driven through the moors on numerous times. It is definitely an inspiring and enchanted place, and I can see how it works in favour for Mr Froud.

Enjoy and have a great weekend . . .

Friday 19 August 2011

Pic of the Week . . . Mark Kelso

It was on this day, 19th August 1612, when three women, Jane Southworth, Jennet Bierley and Ellen Bierley - otherwise known as the Samlesbury Witches - were tried for witchcraft. However, the evidence against them proved invalid when their accuser, a 14 year old girl, admitted that her story of them shape-changing, harressment, murdering and eating babies, and liasing with dark figures that were not like men were untrue. It turned out she had been coached by her priest to say these things.

This trial was one of many that lasted for two days and took place at Lancaster Castle, UK, seeing many men, women and children hanged.

This date also saw the execution of one woman and four men, all accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials during 1692, which took place in colonial Massachusetts.

Because of the coincidence of these two events taking place on the same day, I thought I'd go with a 'witch' theme for this week's Pic of the Week. The chosen artist is Mark Kelso. He does a lot of nature paintings - and some spectacular scenery - but he also has a collection of fantasy art. He's worth a browse . . .

Enjoy and have a great weekend . . .

"The Crimson Spell"

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Son of Jack eBook Trailer . . .

I finished the first part to Son of Jack Sunday night. It falls just short of 21k. That's one down and three to go.

For those that don't know, Son of Jack is a novel I'm writing to be used as an experiment in epublishing. Our writers' group are in the midst of building an epublishing company (kind of) and come November, just in time for the Christmas rush, we're all putting something forward for publication on Amazon. If that's a success we may venture on to other things and other places.

We're building a website - well, Martin is - and the company name is 'Starfish eBooks' or Starfish PC (still subject to change) What does the PC stand for? I hear you ask. Publishing Cupboard. We're too small to be a Publishing House :D

So, Son of Jack: It's based around the fears of four strangers in a society shadowed by a serial killer, Son of Jack. I'm writing each character's story individually to begin with, and then later I'll add them together, interweaving them, to create the novel. I'm pretty syked about it. I've not really had much dealings with this Genre, so I'm finding it interesting - although after four weeks I am beginning to miss my beloved fantasy.

Still, I was so excited last week that I even made a book trailer for Son of Jack. I've never done one of these before and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. It still needs tweaking but I'll leave that until later - and there's still a lot to learn regarding Windows Movie Maker, something I've never used before last week.

Take a look and see what you think - and you need sound The music emphasises it, I think.

Friday 12 August 2011

Pic of the Week . . . Hassansins

Hassansins were a group of feared Persian warriors between 1092 and 1265. Their order, Nizari Ismailis, captured many fortresses in the Middle East under the leadership of Hassan-i Sabbah, and their legends had a lot to do with their training and public missions, in which they were willing to give their lives to eliminate enemies. (Just watch Prince of Persia. You'll realise who they are . . .)

These were the first breed of assassins.

I love assassins. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't like to meet one face to face, for surely that would mean they have business with me - but in the world of fiction our minds can work wonders. I love the whole dark mysticism that surrounds them, the power they hold, and the pain they must harbour despite supposedly being cold hearted. But that's just me.

I posted a Pic of the Week a while back that saw a piece of art from Assassin's Creed. I've never played the game, but the art work is stunning. I love the character. Anyway, flicking through yet more piccys of Assassin's Creed, I come across these. Something tells me they are done by the same artist, but I couldn't find who, so I decided to use both. These are two pieces supposedly depicting the real Hassansins.

Enjoy and have a good weekend!

Wednesday 10 August 2011

The Perfect Writing Companion . . .

When you settle down to write, is there something that you always have to have with you? Like when students go for an test, they take in their lucky charm?

Ok, that may have been a bad example. You don't really need a lucky charm to just sit down and write. You just need your writer's brain and imagination. But you know what I mean.

When I sit down to write, besides having the appropriate music on (after spending hours of wasting time and trying to decide what to actually listen to) I have to have a drink - mainly a cup of tea. But it can't be just any cup of tea. It has to be made to a specific standard. It has to be strong but milky so that it has the perfect consistency. I can't look into it and see the remains of the water, but yet it shouldn't look like a mug of milk, either. It has to be just right. And I NEVER leave the tea bag in to stew (yes, I use teabags, not tea leaves. I is common.) I find when you do this the tea creates a film on top, and when I drink it, I imagine it to be lining my insides. (Random Fact: Did you know, if you have heart problems the doctors prefer you not to drink too much tea as the film does just that. It's not good.)

But this doesn't say I'm fussy when it comes to tea - oh Lord no. If someone offers me a cuppa, I'll happily accept and drink it with out worrying. But coffee, however, is a different matter. I rarely have coffee when I'm out because if it's not made to my standards I don't enjoy it. I like a heaped teaspoon of coffee, followed by a substantial amount of milk to compensate with the amount of coffee, and then followed by the water. If you pour the boiling water straight onto the coffee before adding the milk, it scolds the coffee and gives it a bitter taste. I don't know about anyone else, but I can taste it.

Anyway, another of my 'must-have-with-me's' is my cat. I find it comforting having her with me. If I'm curled up on the sofa with my laptop on my lap, she curls up next to me and purrs away while I type, and if I'm on my computer - which I am most of the day seeing as I work from home - then she sits either on the back of my chair or the computer desk between me and the monitor. Yes, she gets in the way sitting here, and I often struggle to see the tabs at the bottom of the screen, but again I like it so I work round her.

I do have to wonder though, whether she's jealous of the fact I sometimes pay the computer more attention than her and she just has to flaunt herself to remind me that she's there and needs some loving. Hmmm . . . jealous puddy cat . . .

Anyway, so these are just a few of my writing companions, and I tell you this because I can't think of anything else to blog. So what about you guys? Is there something that you have to have with you when writing?

Friday 5 August 2011

Pic of the Week . . . Luis Royo

I just couldn't help myself this week. Whenever I look for a new piece of art, I always come across something by Luis Royo. Today was of no exception, so I decided on another of his pieces. He is, after all, one of my favourite artists . . .

Enjoy and have a good weekend . . .

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Writing Update . . .

I missed my usual blogging slot yesterday. I do apologise. My cat is poorly, bless her, and I had to take her to the vets. She's gone in today for tests, and even though I know she'll be fine, I have no control over the tears. It's great having pets but I can't help but think maybe I'm a little too attached. Here's a piccy of our Daisy . . .

Anyway . . . A brief update on writing, seeing as most people are giving one at the moment. Seems to be all the rage just recently.

I've gone and broken all my rules, but it's for a good cause. I've started a second novel. Ever since my early writing days, I've always restrained myself to one manuscript at a time. That way I can pour all resources into it for the best result - and saves getting confused with minor details that could ruin continuity. Short stories are fine, in fact I recommend writing them as they allow you to work on something different without having to put so much commitment into them. Anyone who has more than one novel on the go at a time, fair play, but it's usually not for me.

My first, Lady of the Seas, is still going strong. She's up to 37k and is rolling smoothly.

But my second is called Son of Jack, and is going to be published via our new project 'Starfish ePublishing'. This is being run by members of our Writers' Circle, and we're all putting something forward for publication in November. Visit From Sand to Glass for more technical details surrounding this venture.

Son of Jack was a basic idea I come up with for an exercise that our group were doing, and it just evolved from there. It's based around the fears of four people who live in a society shadowed by the threat of a serial killer. Even though it only took me five minutes to come up with the idea, I felt it deserved more attention and so decided to write it for Starfish ePublishing. Within the two weeks of planning and writing, she's up to 12k. I'm aiming for around 70-80k. And, as usual, I was so excited I've even designed a front cover.

So there you go. All other projects are being put on hold and my concentration is now laying within these - if I can stop blubbering and worrying about my cat, that is . . .