There’s a Party Going On…

… in Castle Grof! Except it’s not exactly the sort of party most people would want to go to…

Grof 300 x 200

Okay, let’s back up a little and give you some background on this story.

This installment of the story started out as an attempt at online tabletop roleplaying in a thread on the (now defunct) Authonomy site. I was GM, creating the initial story line and the maps,  and there were three players. We got as far as the fight in the Tavern (which is one of my favourite scenes)  when we realised it wasn’t going to work.

By this time, however, I had my muse Puff sitting on my head (he likes to do that) and whispering than this could be another story to fit with “The Tower and The Eye: A Beginning“. So I asked the other players if they were happy to  let me run with their characters. They were, so off I went…

… and Party at Castle Grof was born.

The book has been re-released today as an e-book on Amazon. It’s about a pair of adventurers being inveigled into cleansing the Dungeon near the city of Valdez in the kingdom of Valdier:

Castle Grof has claimed the lives of many already, but Lord Harnaz of Valdez is determined to clear the menace of the dungeon underneath the ruins completely.

Drawn into the quest with a barbarian warrior, a monk of Tyr and an old friend, Aranok and his half sister, Ariana, begin to wonder if they will actually return to their home in the elven realm of Alethdariel alive…

“Which one is your friend?” the half-elf asked, looking over at the fight.
“Grald the Barbarian.” Shilir started to panic and grabbed the half-elf’s arm.
“The big guy? You’re worried about the dwarf beating him up. He looks like he can handle himself,” the half-elf laughed.
“You don’t understand. He’s been drinking Wizard Wingdangs Original Ale… it weakens him to the point where a kitten could maim him with one swat of its tail; even a feather could knock him over. Please help him.”
“Why should we help your friend? I don’t even know why the fight started.” A feminine voice floated over his shoulder. Shilir turned to see the white robed mage he had bumped into.
“You took your time, Ariana,” the half-elf said, without turning round.
“The Guild wanted to hear my report. It took a little while,” Ariana replied, irritation etching her elegant face.
“If it had taken any longer, you’d have been peeling me up off the floor.”
“Well, if you didn’t drink human ale, Aranok, you wouldn’t need my hangover potion.” The mage looked over at the fight in the corner. “The barbarian does seem to be coming off worse in his fight with the dwarf.”
Shilir looked at Ariana hopefully. “Can you help?”
“I used most of my mana up on illusions during my report. Sorry, big brother.” She shook her head. “I haven’t replenished my mana potions yet.” Ariana tilted her head to one side and smiled at Shilir. “Unless you have a spare one?”
Shilir groaned. “I haven’t restocked yet either. Grald and I only arrived this morning.”
Grald was starting to wonder if responding to the dwarf had been a bad idea. An insistent trickle of blood from a cut on his forehead interfered with his vision, dripping through his thick eyebrows.
“How about we talk about this?” he asked, wiping his eyes again.
The dwarf growled and slammed a fist into Grald’s chest. Grald gasped and staggered back.
“Maybe not then,” he wheezed, grabbing the dwarf by his chest plate and attempting to drop kick him through the window. Unfortunately his befuddled body barely allowed him to lift the dwarf off the ground.
The dwarf leaned back in his grip, planted a foot into Grald’s stomach and used the other one to kick at his nose. Grald lurched backward, sat down hard on a bench and dropped the dwarf at the same time.
The dwarf landed on his chest and took the opportunity to punch Grald in the mouth. The bench tipped from the movement, sending the labourer sitting on it flying through the air into the window and spilling both Grald and the dwarf onto the straw strewn cobbles.
The window smashed as the labourer flew through it and landed on a table. The occupants of the table, a group of bakers having their lunchtime game of cards, swore as the cards and coins scattered under the man’s landing.
The table broke, all the tankards on it tipped over and the bakers left trying to gather up their coppers and piled onto the unfortunate labourer.
“I’ll be adding that window to your friend’s bill.” The Tavern Keeper carried on polishing his tankards calmly.
Shilir groaned.
Sighing, Aranok pulled a field tip arrow out of his quiver and twisted on his stool to face the fight. The crowd around the bar drew back as he sighted along it and threw it like a dart.
Grald stood up and stared in shock at the result of his near miss with a dwarven boot.
“Did I do that?” he murmured, swaying a little as the dwarf tried to trip him up.
Something brushed past his ear, so he turned to see what it was. Tripping over his own feet, Grald fell over and landed on the next table. The boards splintered under his weight and as Grald hit the floor, he knocked himself senseless on his own mace.
“Hah! That’s what ye get for spilling ale on Avinger McCraken!” The dwarf laughed and kicked Grald in the balls. Then he stomped away, shouting, “I ain’t standing for that kind o’treatment. I’m gonna get the Watch!”

*****

There are two places that you can read the full story and find out how the rest of the book turned out.  The first is in the ebook:

Buy Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Party-Castle-Grof-Tower-Book-ebook/dp/B01H3XVBXG

The second is in the Omnibus Book which is available in both print and electronic forms:

Buy Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tower-Eye-Kira-Morgana/dp/1326421301

Plotting for complete world domination…

While the Landlord was playing with the electrics and installing a new shower today, I was forced off the computer.

This isn’t the catastrophe that it used to be – I find that forced time away from the PC can often help me think about my plans for world literary domination and give me a fresh hope that I may actually, one day, be able to put food on the table with the proceeds of my warped imagination.

It’s not warped; just slightly twisty…

Yes, thank you Puff.

Ahem. I was thinking about what I would like to publish next. Obviously, TTATE #5: Nightbringer, is very much on the cards; but there are a few things that I have had in mind for a while…

… so here is a run down of the books I have on the TO BE PUBLISHED list:

KIRA MORGANA

The Tower and The Eye: Nightbringer
(TTATE, Book 5)

The Dragon’s Pendant
(The Secret of Arking Down, Book 2)

The Tower and The Eye: Creation of The Lych Mistress
(A ‘Tower and the Eye Tales’ Novella)

The Bog Boy
(A ‘Secret of Arking Down’ Novella)

The Tower and The Eye Omnibus Edition
(TTATE Box Set)

The Tower and The Eye Tales
( Story Collection)

The Secret of Arking Down Chronicles
(Story Collection)

The Mind of Morgana
(Box Set)

A. E. CHURCHYARD

Genesis of the Churchyard
(Box Set)

The Song of Albion
(Novel)

Now, there aren’t any dates on these titles deliberately. I’m not the sort of writer that can work on one thing, finish it, edit it and publish it within a definite timespan.

I can do deadlines for small pieces, but the big ones take time, thought and mass amounts of energy. For example, the first drafts for three of these are finished, but I’m not doing any editing on them until I’ve finished the first draft of Nightbringer.

Essentially I follow the 8 Rules of Writing that Neil Gaimen came up with:

1) Write

2) Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3) Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4) Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

5) Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

6) Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7) Laugh at your own jokes.

8) The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

I’ve got rules one to five down pat. Six is something I tend to have trouble with – I can never be certain when to let go…

I like “Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.” – it should be on a T-shirt.

All right Puff… actually you have a point there; it should be on a T-shirt…

I also like “Make Good Art” which is another of Neil Gaimen’s sayings.

Ahem… enough of that Puff, can we get on with this post, please?

Of course, all of this is subject to the approval of my overlord (or should that be overlady?) the beauteous Princess Wriggles:

maia
That’s just an excuse to put a picture of her in the blog post…

Shhh, Puff!

PW is the main reason I don’t have any dates for publication of these books; I can never tell from one day to the next if I am going to have any time to write… *grins*

But it is a lovely excuse not to write, or do housework…

“The Baby needs me.” or “I’m playing with the Baby.”

…both go down quite well with everyone!

My Creative Life…

Despite Life telling me “You’re a Writer. Deal with it and get on with being published.”  I still need to put food on the table, while I am writing.

So I went over my CV.

Hmm, not looking too good at the moment.

While I am registered with a Supply Agency and working part-time, what I really need is a full-time permanent job in my local area. And with my teaching and degree qualifications getting older and older, that’s going to be a difficult prospect.

So I decided to find a course to update both my teaching skills as well as my Design & Technology Skills. I checked out my local college and found a part-time Art & Design GCSE as well as an evening course in PGCE Further Education and Adult Learning.

Brilliant! I thought. I can study and work at the same time.

So I applied… and promptly forgot about it

Yesterday, I had a letter from the college, inviting me to an interview for the Art & Design GCSE. It bore the phrase that strikes fear into many an artist and Designer…

“Please bring a portfolio of your work to the interview.”

Panic Stations!

Out come my sketch pads and graphic tools. I sit and stare at the blank page feeling slightly sick  (I’m sure all Writers and Artists will understand that feeling!) and tentatively sketch out a few shapes of an abstract.

Stardust the Unicorn & Puff the Dragon

Puff (my dragon writing muse) bows and makes way to his best friend, Stardust (my unicorn Art & Design Muse) who smiles and gently guides my pencils. Finally I am finished and this is what had appeared on the page:

What was Stardust thinking?

I’m not exactly sure what Stardust was thinking, but the moment my son saw the picture he said “That’s a good duck, mummy.”

I just smiled and gave him a cuddle.

As I’m not majorly artistic, I thought I would have another go and started to sketch what was in front of me. While it turned out quite well, I really can’t put it up on here – it’s a little too obvious what I was thinking at the time! *blushes*

So, in the spirit of  “If at first you can’t succeed…” I gave up for a bit. I had Brownies to go to, so I would have had to stop anyway.

When I got back, I tried again.

This time I began sketching my favourite candle stick:

My favourite candlestick! Can you guess why?

I’m about halfway through this one – The amount of detail on the candle stick is mind boggling and it’s really tricky to get the proportions right!

What has this taught me? 

Well apart from telling me that I have a very wierd mind, it’s shown me that my creativity doesn’t just run to writing. Yes, I’m a (relatively) good writer and people like my work, but I’m also creative in completely different ways! I can draw(sort of), I can knit and I can design jewellery, accessories and cards!

No wonder my mind is strange – it has all these ideas in there, swirling around and getting confused… and distracting me.

And that brings me to another thing I like to do. I like to write guest posts for other people’s blogs.

Recently, I did a post for a friend’s blog on “The Relevance of Sex in Literature in 2011”. I really enjoyed it, simply because I had to think about what I was writing and choose my words carefully. It was a lesson in the Craft of Writing, rather than the Art of Writing.

I’ve been asked to do another guest post for the same blog, this time on violence, and already my friend Puff is fluttering around excitedly and whispering ideas.

This image is gross... and at the same time strangely cute - see what I mean about my weird mind?

The Topic is  “Violence in Literature. When is enough, enough?” and will be running throughout the month of August. My post is the very last one – 31st August – so I have a little while to work on it!