Thursday 22 March 2012

Pic of the Week . . . Frederic St-Arnaud

ON THIS DAY 1439, Margaret Of Anjou was born. Margaret of Anjou was wife and Queen Consort to Henry VI, King of England, however, because of his insanity, she often ruled alone.

The history of Margaret of Anjou is not the inspiration for today's Pic of the Week, but her two grandsons are.

Despite the death of Henry VI, often believed to be by the hands of his son, Edward IV, and despite Edward proclaiming himself King, the War of the Roses continued to rage. This was a battle for the throne between the House of York and the House of Lancaster for which Margaret of Anjou played a major role. Edward IV married the commoner, Elizabeth Woodville, and together they had ten children (not including the two grown sons she had from a previous marriage). In 1483, Edward IV died and passed his title to his 12 year old son, Edward V. However, because the boy was too young to rule, his uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucestershire, became Protector.

During a time when the sovereign was still shaky, Richard soon seized the opportunity to proclaim himself King Richard III. After accusations of witchcraft and of the illegitimacy of her marriage, Elizabeth Woodville sought sanctuary in Westminster Abbey, but not before her two sons, Edward V and his younger brother Richard were taken and locked in the Tower of London.
The War of the Roses raged on and eventually Henry Tudor (Henry VII) together with Margaret of Anjou, won the day, thus starting the Tudor era. He also ended the war by marrying Edward IV's eldest daughter, also called Elizabeth (they were imaginative on names back then), and merging the two Houses of York and Lancaster. (Henry and Elizabeth were the eventual parents of Henry VIII.)

But by the time peace came, it was too late for the two princes in the tower. Elizabeth Woodville tried to have them returned to her but their whereabouts were unknown. To this day no one knows their fate. Some believe that Richard III had them both murdered, smothered in their sleep, thus eliminating any future rivalry for his throne; some believe that the Tudors were responsible in a bid to turn the country against Richard III (Tudor Propaganda); some believe they merely died of ill-health; and some believe they got away, running off to Burgundy (or at least Richard). No one knows what happened to them, but upon restoration work on the Tower of London in 1674, two small skeletons were found under the staircase leading to the chapel. Did they belong to the two princes locked in the tower?

No one knows for sure. It's one of England's greatest and saddest mysteries.

So, moving back to Pic of the Week, I thought 'Towers' would be a good theme. Introducing Frederic St-Arnaud. Out of all the pieces of art I looked at, this one stood out the most. His gallery consists of some fantastic futuristic and fantasy landscapes, as well as concept art - and it's well worth a visit just see this piece enlarged and displayed in full detail. Stunning stuff.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

That Film Continues To Touch My InkHeart . . .

I've already written a post about it in the past, but I'm gonna do it again...

I watched the film 'Inkheart' again last night and I can't help but adore that film. Yeah, it's not perfect. It's far from perfect. The script is sloppy in places, yada yada, etc etc - but the concept!

Basically, for those who don't know, it stares Brendan Fraser and he has a newly discovered gift so that when he reads allowed from a book, the characters are brought from their fictional world to the real world at the cost of someone or something going back in. By doing this, he looses his wife but gains an enemy as the book's villain is brought out.

Thus the film continues as he is left to bring up their daughter alone and as he goes in search for a copy of the book now out of print in hope that he can bring her back whilst being pursued by the villain and his henchmen who have been brought out by another "Silvertongue", as they call them, with a stutter that leaves them imperfect.

It's a family film, one that the kids may enjoy more than adults, but I love the whole concept. I also still love the character played by the yummy actor, Paul Bettany, called 'Dustfinger', a flame thrower from the book who wants nothing more than to be read back in so he can rejoin his own family.

I love it! I love how it reminds me of my passion for books, and I love the way it rekindles that desire to write and create. And I love the point in the film when Character-Meets-Author and when Author-Meets-Character. That scene touches home and makes me wonder what I would do if I ever come face to face with my characters in the flesh. What would you do if you met yours?

Friday 16 March 2012

Pic of the Week . . . Jerad S Marantz

I'm pretty sure Jerad S Marantz has featured before in the Pic of the Week collection, but I'd have to go back through previous posts to find out for sure.

So, without further ado, allow me to (re)introduce this week's artist, Jerad S Marantz.

Jerad is a phenomenal concept designer for the film and games industry. He's worked on games such as Richard Garriot's Tabula Rasa, Guild Wars and Lineage Forever. I don't actually know these games but I'm sure many out there do. However, I DO know some of the films he's worked on, films such as Green Lantern, Sucker Punch, Avatar, Clash of the Titans, Spiderman (2012), Transformers 3, The Burrowers, Apparition, Jonah Hex, The Deaths of Ian Stone, Race to Witch Mountain, Wolverine Origins, XMEN First Class, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Dragon Ball Evolution, Percy Jackson and the Olympians and I am Legend.

His concept art gave life to some of the creatures that gave these films meaning.

I couldn't decide on a specific piece for today, but I did decide on a film. Despite some of the ravings it got, whether people loved it or hated, I've always been a fan of Clash of the Titans, old and new, and so have gone the ancient Greek route.

See if you can recognise some of these characters...


Saturday 10 March 2012

Pic of the Week . . . Anne Sudworth

A day late but Hay-Ho.

I happily discovered this artist via facebook and I have to say, her work blew me away! I'm an artistic person, but that lies best with charcoal and pencil. Working in colour isn't my forte - as much as I'd like it to be. I'm a perfectionist, and I hate it when a piece of work I'm working on doesn't go as planned - often the result when I'm working in colour.

But I have to repeat, this artist blew me away!!!

The way she handles her materials is phenomenal. She mainly uses pastels, and she's mastered her technique to perfection. Her work has a gothic feel to it that gives it a mysterious, ethereal feel, and the way she manages to capture moon light and illumination in a night backdrop is breathtaking. When I first say her work I found myself looking twice to ensure it wasn't a photo, but it's not. It's all been created by her talented hand.

Introducing Anne Sudworth. This piece is titled White Goddess and features Stonehenge, a place as mystical and breathtaking as her work.

Seriously, you guys have to check her out.

Hope you all have a great weekend - what's left of it.


Wednesday 7 March 2012

What Makes A Series A Series?

I found myself very confused the other week.

I read a blog post asking about book series. Do we like reading a series or prefer stand-alone books. Likewise with writers; do you prefer writing series or do you prefer writing stand-alone?

When a series is mentioned, what stories instantly come to mind? Harry Potter? The Dark Tower? Sherlock Holmes? These would be correct. A series is a collection of stories that follow the same character through their journey. We followed Harry Potter from book 1 to book 7. We followed Roland and crew in The Dark Tower from book 1 to book 7; Sherlock Holmes had numerous cases to solve.

All these are popular series'. But a series doesn't just have to follow the same characters. Here's a definition of a fiction series:

'Fictional series typically share a common setting, story arc, set of characters or timeline. They are common in genre fiction, particularly crime fiction, men's adventure and science fiction, as well as in children's literature.'

I only bring this up because when I commented about how I write my series (a set of stand-alone stories set in the same fantasy world) whether or not this was classed a series came into question. I began to panic as I was planning on marketing my work as a series, but what if wasn't a series after all?

I had to do some homework.

Luckily, to my relief I discovered that I am, indeed, writing a series. To be a series doesn't necessarily have to follow the same characters. A series, as stated above, is a set of stories that have something in common, be it characters, setting, story arc, etc. Because my stand-alone stories are set in the same fantasy world, where law is the same in each, as well history, currency, etc, it comes under the classification of a series.

Phew! Relief.

However, this doesn't apply for every genre. If you write thrillers, just because you have a collection of stand-alone books set in London doesn't mean you have a series on your hands. If that was case, then every book to be set in London could be part of a series. No, these books would have to have something else in common. Hence we go back to the original idea of following the same characters throughout.

What are your thoughts on this???

Competition Time...Chance To Win Some Freebies!!

Allow me to bring to your attention a competition that is being held by Starfish Publishing via Martin Willoughby.

(snippet stolen from his blog)

I'm offering a choice of two ebooks from Starfish Publishing's current list for the three lucky winners. Anyone who enters will have their name hand-written by a handsome man (not me) or beautiful woman on a hand-cut piece of paper. The three winners will be drawn by two lovely ladies and one gorgeous man (still not me) who will stick their hands in a hat and rummage around to find you

It's easy to enter. Here's what you have to do:

To enter simply go to Martin Willoughby's blog and do any/all of the following:

1. Tell Martin Willoughby in the comments section of his blog that you want to enter.
2. Go over to Facebook and 'like' us, then tell him in the comments section.
3. Go to twitter and stalk...errrr...follow us, then tell him in the comments section.
4. Follow the Starfish Blog, then tell him in the comments section.

You get one entry for each of the above and the closing date is midnight, Monday 12th March, GMT.

Go enter...and good luck!

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Trees? I See No Trees; That Forest Is In The Way...

Once upon a time there was a friendly little group of writers who got together once a week to share their writing experiences and to write little exercises in hopes that it would help them feel inspired and grow. They would also critique each others work, work that they hoped would one day make them millions, and gave each other the kind of support only other writers can give.

But making millions from your first novel is a tough job. It's difficult to even get one foot through the publishing door. So one member came up with the idea of putting Amazon's self publishing theory to the test.

Thus was created the wonderful cooperation known as Starfish Publishing. The works from within our group would be published under this cooperation and sold on Amazon Kindle. A website was designed and built and to date there are four titles listed as available - and a glorious banner was designed with our logo and the words Starfish Publishing. Being clever, we even replaced the 'A' in Starfish with an actual starfish. Things were looking good.

This website went live back in November. Only last week an 18 year old pointed out an error that none of us - an entire group of writers, I must add - ever saw.

There appeared to be no 'R' in Starfish. It would seem not only did the five legged picture replace the 'A' but also the 'R'.

I reiterate the fact that this error was missed and over-looked by an entire group of writers for about four months, but having laughed off our shocking embarrassment, we set about putting it right. Thus the tale of the Starfish Publishing website has a happy ending.

We all make errors like this. We're human. It even happens to professionals, and how many of you have picked up a book and noticed a spelling error within its sea of words?

Sometimes, no matter how hard we look for those trees, the forest just always gets in the way...