Friday, 26 July 2013

Exerpt from Titanian Chronicles - Journey of Destiny

A loud whirring sound dashed by Wolflang’s ear causing him to startle awake, lose his balance and fall off his horse. As he fell he rolled amongst the long grass. Grasping his bow and collecting an arrow from the leather quiver as he rolled, Wolflang made it back onto his feet with bow and arrow in hand, poised and ready to shoot. This manoeuvre was one that his father had taught him when he first started to learn the fine art. “Sometimes ya enemy will take ya by surprise,” Bargran would say, “so roll to the ground, collect ya gear and be ready to shoot him in the neck as soon as ya stand up.” Of course that was concerning wild animals but Wolflang had practiced it so much that he now did the manoeuvre with instinct. Wolflang had no idea what had flown passed his ear but he wasn’t about to take any chances.
By this time Afeclin had ridden back to assess the situation.
‘What’s going on?’ he asked sliding down off his horse.
‘Take cover, I’m not sure what’s out there.’
Just as Wolflang spoke another whirring sound buzzed past his ear.
‘We’re being shot at!’ called Wolflang turning around to the direction the arrow had come flying at him. ‘I can’t see anyone though and I can’t tell exactly where it came from.’
Wolflang studied the line of trees opposite him with caution. The forest was thick on either side of the path, for the most part comprising large bankoi trees with their strong trunks and feathered leaves of greens, reds and golds. Bankoi trees were said to be amongst the oldest known on Titania. They were not the tallest of trees but their bodies were thick and mighty with root systems that went deep into the ground. Standing beside the bankoi, the slender white traffita trees looked waif like and weak.
X-zaivacress vines wound their way around the traffita and bankoi, filling in the empty spaces between the trees like a patterned scarf with their rich green leaves and large deep violet flowers at the end of each arm.
Hiding in amongst the branches and vines was not a hard task. The elves had always used the security of the trees in Taybie Woods to gain advantage against enemies and intruders. From the concealed branches of the bankoi the elves were difficult to discern, let alone hit.
Afeclin was now squatting low in the long grass with his horse standing next to him protecting him on the side the arrows appeared to be coming.
‘How could you tell it was an arrow?’
‘I caught just a glimpse of it that time,’ Wolflang answered with slow breaths, concentrating on the woods all around him.
After a few minutes another arrow came at him from behind, this time plunging into the dirt, a foot away from him.
‘There must be more than one out there,’ Wolflang suggested in a loud whisper. ‘The arrows are coming from a few directions.’

Saturday, 20 July 2013

A Whole New World ~ Creating the World of Titania

Building the world of Titania did not happen over night. It was not something I planned out and created well before starting to write the story (as is probably the way it should be). Nope, it was more of an evolving world that grew and changed as the story progressed.
It started out as an image on my desktop of a large green moon reflecting off water surrounding a small beach, which inspired the first scene I wrote (originally the first chapter but that has since changed). By the time I was halfway through that chapter, I had the whole trilogy mapped out in my head and Titania was formed.

A map was drawn up very early in the piece with countries, cities, towns etc named. But even then, it was just a skeleton that needed to be fleshed out. While I knew what certain places would look like… Much of Titania was a mystery to me until we visited places in the story… Therefore I travelled throughout Titania with my characters, discovering what this new world looked like as they did.
It was an exciting way to create, I never knew what was around the corner exactly, until we were there.
Next problem was making sure I described it well enough. One thing that is difficult as a writer, is reading something back and knowing whether the picture you have in your head is generated from the words on the paper or whether you see it clearly because you actually know what it is supposed to look like. I had that trouble… I saw the world so vividly that I wasn’t even aware that I hadn’t described what I saw in enough detail to give others a chance to see it too.
I found a good way to rectify this… I began to draw features of my world…animals, birds, trees, insects and flowers… Very amateurishly I’ll admit but none the less I understood its comic representation.
I either coloured the pictures or made descriptive notes and from these, I described what I saw. Let me tell you, it’s a much easier thing to do, to describe what is on the paper, than what is only a mental image.

My picture...
My artist, Kristen's version.

So the world filled in slowly, details emerged and colour followed. Before long the world had become vibrant and alive… not only in my head but on the page as well, mirroring the world we have but… different.

 Adding to the colour and richness of the world were races… Ones that you’ve heard of before in other books like elves, dwarves and goblins and ones that could only be found in Titania, like shemalks (weasely looking people that live underground) and habatchiees (a stinky race of dwarf).
Animals and birds dotted the landscape, many versions similar to the ones we know in our world, some quite different. Some of which also have evolved over time. My favourite being the lawfabex. My half bear/half wolf started out as a plain ol' bear… With some differences, he didn’t quite act like a bear all the time. So after much thought, and feeling the need to make him into something far more special, he morphed into a creature of greater significance and interest.

My picture...
 Artist version.

Why settle with one moon when you can have as many as you desire? I was happy with three… A green with two sets of rings forming an x in the sky, a great blue and a silver, where the Gods of Titania dwell. Understanding these moons and their significance to the inhabitants was another thing that came with creation. After all, the universe that surrounds Titania is important as well.
While all may not be explained in the first book, it was important to me to understand my world and what I had created so that I knew what I had to work with. For instance it is good to have some understanding of the atmosphere on the planet, can they breath naturally or do they all walk around wearing some breathing apparatus that provides them with air? or good to know how the gravity works… Do they all float around the countryside or perhaps they are very light on their feet? I fashioned my gravity after our world but it did provide some food for thought.
I also made the provision for the use of supernatural powers or real magic… While illusions are great, they lack a certain something. That certain something I wanted to be accessible only to individuals that had the talent and inherited genes.

So much to consider when creating a world… Phew! And it doesn’t stop there… Weather patterns and climate, length of years, rate of growth, language and much more (that I can’t recall right now) had to be accounted for so that things in Titania could make some sense. They are behind the scene things that as a reader, you may not even notice… If I’ve done it right, but that just add some depth to the world and broaden the reader’s understanding (even subconsciously).
Of course now that the world is created… The second book should be so much easier! ;)

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Never judge a book by its cover...they say

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, which I tend to believe in when it comes to judging people by their exterior, but with books themselves I will be the first to (shamefully) admit that the cover of a book is the first thing to draw me into it… Then I turn over the cover and read the blurb and if the storyline intrigues me, I’m in. I’m fairly simple that way.

Needless to say, it was very important to me to create a cover that was appealing enough to draw people in, to capture a persons interest and give them a small glimpse of the story through a freeze frame. I’d love to say I am clever enough to do that myself but unfortunately I wasn’t blessed with the ability of taking what’s in my head and representing that in an image on paper.

In walks Kristen Caruana, an artist that just happens to get me and understand what’s going on in my head… And she has the ability to capture it in an amazing way.
I sent her excerpts, we spoke in length about what I saw as a cover and what I was trying to portray and gave her artistic license to fill in the blanks. However, we worked together throughout the entire process, she updated me and asked my opinions, making sure I was completely happy with the way it was progressing.
We started out with just some thumbnail sketches… Rough scribbles that looked like something my kids could reproduce, but which enabled me to see my options as far as layout.
Since I was torn between what I had first envisaged and another option she had presented to me she took away the pictures I liked and recreated them as large, more detailed examples. While I did, once again, like them both, I was much more drawn to the picture with the rider right up front in the foreground… And as I said the cover needed to draw me in.
I could tell there and then that the cover was going to be all that I had hoped for and more.
Decision made, the fun could begin.
We studied horses to find the right look. I wanted to see the horse on his hind legs with a look of fear in his face.
I was particular about the positioning of the rider also, Kristen’s husband was a great sport and posed numerous times riding a chair in the living room.
As the horse started taking shape, Kristen started working on the twisted, gnarled trees that surrounded the scene. She also started to play with the title wording.
With a focus on adding character to one of the trees, Kristen worked hard at shading the tree in just the right way to make it appear a little creepy and as if it had some life of it’s own.
After a lot of hard work on the title and the colouring coming together, the riders cape started to take shape. However, Kristen being the particular artist herself, played back and forward with certain details and aspects… I added my two bits from time to time but I was so excited to see my scene appearing before my eyes… So surreal.
Once the rest of the cover was in place, Kristen focused her attention on finishing the horse and rider… During this time I saw much change take place… I already thought it was good but it just kept getting better and surprising me.
After a couple of months work we were almost there… The rider finally fleshed out, the cape having definition and blue light emanating from the rock around his neck… Also a mist swarmed the trees. A couple of details to work on but I was pretty satisfied at this point. If she had of told this was the best she could do, I probably would have accepted it… So glad I didn’t have to though.
After some small changes and additions… Mud splatters on the cape, a change of horse’s tail, more expression in the horse’s eye and a deeper blue to the light… I was ready to walk out the door with it.
Kristen sprayed it to protect the colour and the whole picture darkened considerably… The colour change was perfect, I couldn’t be happier… Time to photograph, frame and put up on the wall.
I love my cover. Cheers Kristen!

Friday, 12 July 2013

I was never going to be a writer... Seriously.

I don’t know if I was fated to writing, if you believe in that sort of thing or whether I just had a propensity for storytelling, I certainly was not born with a pen in my hand and regardless of my fascination with the world of make believe, I was definitely not going to be a writer.

It seemed even from the time I was a very little kid I had a fascination with making up my own stories… I mean I liked reading (once I learned to do it) but sitting on a swing in the backyard and telling myself my own story was one of my most favourite things to do.

But I was never going to be a writer.

In primary school I loved the opportunity for creative writing where I got to think up and write down a story in school time… Hey that wasn’t work that was playtime for me…
But I was never going to be a writer.
I remember spending much time on a short story assignment at school which turned into quite the novel… I had a story to tell and by Jove and I was going to tell it! Pages and pages of hand written words with spelling mistakes galore and twisted grammar, must have been a pleasure to correct and grade… I’m sure my teacher was real impressed!

But I was never going to be a writer.

Maths class in high school became my time to write… with my head down busily, my teacher was impressed by my studious attention to work besides my low grades… there I wrote stories about my friends… romantic student dribble that they could read and devour at lunchtime, looking forward to what would happen to them in the next chapter, when I would have time to write more.

But I was never going to be a writer.

A friend liked to test me when we were bored in social studies, she would give me a couple of inanimate objects or a place and character and my job was to come up with a story… Considering myself another Hans Christian Anderson of sorts… I would tell her a story about them…

But I was never going to be a writer.

I enlisted my younger sister who had been learning to type at school to type my stories on dads good old typewriter (yes i was born in that era) while I dictated them.

But I was never going to be a writer.

I was chosen as one of two from my year seven class to attend a special gathering where children my age from schools in the area got to meet and rub shoulders with published authors. They each had an opportunity to speak, letting us in on the secrets to writing, giving us a chance to learn from those who had succeeded in the industry. After a scrumptious lunch on the beach, we were given the opportunity to write our own stories and submit them to the organisers of the event so they could turn them into a book of short stories… I never finished mine (smack head with palm of hand)… but hey… I was never going to be writer anyway.

Truth is, carrying a story around in my head full time was just me… just this quirky thing I did that I’m sure WRITERS of all people can relate to… but I wasn’t going to be a writer… seriously… that sounded like a whole lot of hard, painful work… which it really is at times… But I guess what I needed was someone to give me a hard shake and say…"wake up girl! This is your destiny!"

That shake came one day in the form of an overarching desire to create… Having not written a word in years, I found myself at the computer, busily typing away… First with a simple idea in mind for a scene… Then a full blown trilogy emerged from my mind and I finally realised I needed to write. I needed to write, write, write until that story was told… for myself, If for no one else.
So here I am… Having given into whatever force that had been pushing me towards writing… I have finished the first book to my trilogy. Now, i ache to write and long to sell my books and have people come on the journey with me.

But I was never going to be a writer.