Saturday, December 29, 2012

Officially Today I Am Working On a New Novel

With lots of writing irons in the fire of my creative forge I officially began my newest Celtic YA adventure novel, the first in the series. Originally it was meant to be an epic sized novel (roughly 600 pages) but I will keep it modest and see how well it goes. It involves the Otherworld of Faery and the many denizens you will be able to play and include in your games as found in my upcoming Codex Celtarum and the adventure modules in my series, even the main character's 'class' is in the Codex and able to be made by players that want a wood-wise, sylvan loner that is speedy, acrobatic and as wild as the beasts that dwell there. 

Yes, my novel is based around a character that is very unique. Without giving away any spoilers or my secret ideas before its time, I will say that this character is a sort of 'Celtic Tarzan' in a way, but so much more. It will be a high adrenaline ride on the shoulders of this protagonist in his adventures beyond the safety and comfort of his forest peoples' home deep in the Perpetual Forests of Faery (you will have these locations available in the Codex!) and a mind twist of a story from the prologue on as you begin to piece together the emerging tale that will be very different but sticks to ancient Celtic ideas handled in a new fresh way of approach and writing.

Depending on the response these novels get, I may write them as a series with many books planned, as the reader can explore the Celtic Otherworld and our own from the character's unusual position in the story. This series is meant to be represented by an agency, there is no other way I will handle this when it is done. In the first book I will introduce so many ancient Celtic concepts but on a level that the YA crowd can understand and incorporate in their knowledge about our ancestors and relatives today and the culture that they once occupied in the distant past. 

I will give just one hint, a teaser, about this novel for anyone interested before I end this post - the main character is so swift on his feet in the forest that he can walk and run on top of leaves and greenery and leave no trace as he goes. He is a part of the forest in every way, but he himself is not one of the faeries, a true wildman of the woods but not a warrior or magician, only a speedy fleet-footed sylvan inhabitant, a Leaf Treader. When it is completed I hope everyone finds something new in it and it inspires them to take the Codex and game all new ideas.   

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Search for Literary Agents: My Scariest Quest Yet

Being an author and writer (there is a difference) and having many novels and publications now behind me and forthcoming I naturally want to move my blossoming career to another place all together after a while. This means going big, with an agent and getting my stories published in one of the 'Big Six' publishing houses out there. Over the last two months, on and off, I have written and sent nearly 50+ queries out to so many agencies and in this volley I have received about roughly 15+ rejections and many more than have remained silent (which in some agencies' case means they are not interested and will pass). Others I have to wait on and hope that my Celtic adventure novel, THE GIRL WITH THE RAINBOW EYES, gets accepted by one. It just takes one agent to say they will take on the book and then things can happen positively. But that itself takes time when editors are involved, shopping around for the right publishing house or imprint, and sometimes it doesn't end as well as desired (for an example read the founder of Smashwords' story). Some authors get from 50 to 100 rejections before they hit one lucky break, and then success happens and the other companies and agencies feel like fools for being so arrogant and crass about their rejections, wishing they had been the ones to make that winning decision. Maybe I might need to re-write this novel again, a fourth time, before pushing on with the agencies I haven't written to yet? I dread having to do so, but there are areas in the latter half of the novel that could be improved, even though no agent has read that part at the moment to know otherwise, but so far the few semi-personal rejections that I have been sent say that it just didn't 'click' with them. So because it isn't 'Fifty Shades of Grey', or 'Twilight' it didn't grab them? Odd to think those style of novels are the hit with the masses, when so many more read Tolkien and other Fantasy authors eagerly. 

It is a disconcerting and crippling process, all of it, in hopes of rising to a purely professional level of authorship that was never had before. I have sank 14 years into this novel, each re-write and incarnation, and it has been through some changes since I first wrote the screenplay version in the late 90's for my (then) Hollywood agent Mark Marshall. I hope again to establish those links and take my many other original and different projects into film and TV, but that is another aspect of all this. 

So in case you have been wondering where I have been at here on my blog, it isn't just the holidays that have been taking my time, but also sending out those queries, finishing up sixth adventure module for Troll Lord Games ('A Shattered Night'), and slowly getting the Codex Germanorum done (it isn't yet but close), and touching up on my Celtic novel for agents and the upcoming 'Amazon Breakthrough Novel' competition next I have been busy! In the next few weeks the Codex Celtarum will be officially finished and released and module #4, 'To Kill a King' will begin production, so things are not slowing. In addition to this I have many entries that will see inclusion in the CityBook 8 with Flying Buffalo Inc. 

The next time I post, it should be good news, about what I am not sure but there are many possibilities on what it might be considering...    

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Weird West meets Weird Tales Soon.

Because of my long influences deriving from Robert E Howard and H.P Lovecraft and the fact that my first Weird West Mythos novel is being released this Spring with Damnation Books, I always wanted to take that side of my background somewhere, and possibly become a Pulp writer like my influences. To write for a prestige magazine like Weird Tales would be a dream. I assumed that the magazine, and those like it died out  not long after the Pulp Era but I was wrong. 

Friending one of the New Pulp authors, Joe Bonadonna, was a blessing. Not only is he producing this style of literature, but he is also doing it with Weird Tales. This is the magazine that got Robert E Howard, H. P. Lovecraft and many, many others their start and fame. Joe has been writing some very Pulpy stuff lately and doing so with reputable publishers. After an inspiring discussion about Tolkien, REH and Weird Tales, he fired me up, gave me the link and let me go on my way. 

I had wanted to write serials, like Howard did, about my character Cage O'Brien in the Weird West against the Eldritch forces of the universe while trying to run from the Law and maintain a life of his own, as I introduce in my 'Bring Me the Head of the Preacher Man' this spring. In the 20's Howard and Lovecraft made a living just writing for these magazines, it wasn't always the best income at time during the Depression, but it was a means to live. I have dozens of stories in my mind that fit the same writing style as my novel and Howard's own unique style, these tales need to get written and read. Most Small Press publishers do not happily publish collections of stories often, and I don't know if my publisher would if I introduced them to them. 

So...Weird Tales it is! I will complete several novella sized adventures of Cage against the Elder Ones and their minions and see what happens once submissions are open again. If you think my novel of this stuff is weird (once it is published this March and you read it), just wait until you see the serials I have in mind. Stories so weird and hard to define that they could only be accepted by Pulp publishers in this day and age. Monsters, obscene magic, scantily clad damsels, six-shooter toting outlaws wearing Elder Signs, and more will be in this set of tales. I weave the many common Western themes into a mix of Mythos and high action to create something new and...weird!  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Excerpt from 'Cad Goddeu'


I was at the fortress of Nefenhir
where trees and grass rushed into battle
minstrels sang
warriors clashed
the war-like hosts
that Gwydion made
Neifion was invoked
as was Christ of the inception
until the time of redemption
by the Lord of all he made
The Lord responded
'through words of reconciliation
conjure noble trees
together as a host
and resist the mob,
unused as they are to battle.'
When trees were conjured
their hope in tree-form
that brought before them trees
plucked from four harp-strings
they cast-down in battle
three war-weary chieftains
sadness tortured the maiden
cut through by the battle cry
Flaxen-tipped the maiden's hair
the spoils of the restless cow.
They did nos manage to disperse us
with the blood of men up to our thighs
the greatest of three bloodsheds
known to the world
and one that happened
was in the form of a flood
and Christ was crucified
with the day of judgement near at hand
The alder at the front line
that foraged first
the willow and rowan trees
were late to join the army
The spiky blackthorn
was eager for slaughter
beloved and powerful
resisted all they saw
rose-trees ventured forth
against a venomous host
the raspberry-tree formed
they made an enclosure
box and honeysuckle,
and ivy in its prime
the surge of giant gorse
cherry trees raised the alarm
Birch-tree, in its great beauty
was delayed by donning his armour,
though not out of cowardice,
but rather from its greatness
Almond trees of valuable nature
foreign wood with exotic form
pine trees in the hall's place of honour
in the great throne of battle
oak, the best, was exalted
before the other rulers
the lime-tree in all its fury
flinched not a single foot
slew in the centre,
then on the left and the right
hazels were adjudged
worthy of the fray
the privet, blessed are they
battle-bull, king of the world
on sea and estuary
the beech excelled
the holly, greened anew
was in the battle
superlative in his cry,
terror dealt from its hand
briony burst forth
breaking the battle ranks
bracken destroyed
broom headed for battle
in the furrows of wounding.
Gorse was not denied
though it be the peasant's bane
Heather, fine and victorious
bewitched your warriors
even pursued your men
The oak rushed
before him heaven and earth trembled
Borage, valiant warrior
his name on the courtry floor
the congress of elms
causing terror
rebuffing all onslaughts
when their defences were breached
Pear, superlative in oppression
on the field of battle.
Their aim to rush into the fray
the awesome thorn-apple
The chestnuts shamed
the pine with its thrust
Jet's nature is black
The mountain's nature is to be bent-backed
The tree's nature is slim at daybreak
Powerful is the nature of the high seas
Ever since I sensed the time [of year]
when leaflets adorn the tips of the birch trees
our revival removing the enchantment [of winter]
The crowns of the oaks have ensnared us
by the incantations of Maeldderw
laughing on the cliff-side
the lord in battle-array.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Gwraig Huan (Deception of Huan's Wife)

Gwraig Huan ap Gwydion, a vu un o ladd ei gwr, ag a ddyfod ei fyned ef i hely oddi gartref, ai dad ef Gwdion brenhin Gwynedd y gerddis bob tir yw amofyn, ac or diwedd y gwnaeth ef Gaergwydion (sef: via laactua) sy yn yr awyr yw geissio: ag yn y nef y cafas ei chwedyl , lle yr oedd ei enaid: am hynny y troes y wraig iefanc yn ederyn, a ffo rhag ei thad yn y gyfraith, ag a elwir er hynny hyd heddiw Twyll huan. 

The wife of Huan1 ap Dôn2 was a party to the killing of her husband, and she said that he had gone to hunt away from home. And his father, Gwydion, the King of Gwynedd, traversed all countries in search of him, and at last made Caer Gwydion3, that is the via lactea, which is in the sky, to seek him. And he found him in heaven, where was his soul. And for that he turned the young wife into a bird and she fled form her father-in-law, and is called to this day Twyll Huan4. Thus, after the manner of the Greeks, the Britons formerly treated their stories and tales in order to keep them in memory.

1. Huan ap Dôn: the figure here is obviously Lleu Llaw Gyffes, and this short text is a retelling of the final section of the Mabinogi; why his name is Huan, "Sun," is a difficult question (see note 3). "Lleu" is certainly derived from Lugh, in which the "gh" is essentially silent; Lugh is in turn derived from "Lugus", which ultimately derives from the hypothetical proto-Indo-European *Leug- "oath/swear." In other words, he is originally the god of the oath, Dumezil's Mitra to Nuada's Varuna. Thus, Lleu was not originally a god of light; however, the similarity between *leug- (oath) and *leuk- (light) may have influenced the idea that Lugus (and thus Lugh and Lleu) was somehow associated with light, at least in late Iron Age/early medieval thought.

2. Huan/Lleu's pedigree here is confusing, as traditionally his mother is Arianrhod, making Dôn his grandmother. Moreover, Gwydion is also the son of Dôn, and so Lleu/Huan would be the product of Gwydion's incest, either with his sister or his mother; the sister is more likely.

3. Caer Gwydion: there is some tradition that the Milky Way is called Caer Wydyon in Welsh; whether this is actual medieval tradition, or influenced by the antiquarians, I am not sure.

4. Twyll Huan: The story is an attempt to explain the word tylluan, the owl. In this bit of folk etymology, tylluan is divided into twyll "deceive" and (h)uan, the sun. Thus, the composer changed Lleu's name to Huan, which he may have thought fitting.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Song that Always Inspires Me.

After thirty years this song never fails to get me, when I am feeling good and working on a project it gives me more fire to continue onwards. I blast it in the car while driving, play it on my computer, iPod, etc. I have it and all of its versions and tributes and even live versions from the height of Rainbow's early years with Dio during their tours between 1975 to 1978.

I just wanted to add this song for some instant inspiration and a reminder.

In 1974, Ritchie Blackmore publicly disliked the funk/soul (or as Blackmore called it, "shoeshine music") elements being introduced to Deep Purple by David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, as well as the disappointing Stormbringer album where his favourite musical style wasn't adequately captured. Blackmore originally intended to release a solo single, the Steve Hammond-penned "Black Sheep of the Family", with "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" on the B-side. He recorded these during a studio session in Tampa Bay, Florida on 12 December 1974 with singer/lyricist Ronnie James Dio and drummer Gary Driscoll, both from the blues-rock band Elf, former Procol Harum keyboardist Matthew Fisher, and cellist Hugh McDowell of ELO. Satisfied with the two tracks, Blackmore decided to make a solo album, replacing the keyboardist and bassist with Elf members Micky Lee Soule and Craig Gruber, respectively. The full album was recorded in Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany in about 3 weeks in February 1975. Though it was originally thought to be a solo album, the record was billed as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Blackmore decided to leave Deep Purple and form his own band Rainbow. The name of the band was inspired by the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Hollywood that catered to rock stars, groupies and rock enthusiasts.

Rainbow's debut album, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, was released in 1975 and featured the minor hit "Man on the Silver Mountain". This first line-up never performed live. Blackmore and Dio did promotional work for the album.

Rainbow's music was partly inspired by classical music since Blackmore started playing cello to help him construct interesting chord progressions, and Dio wrote lyrics about medieval themes. Dio possessed a versatile vocal range capable of singing both hard rock and lighter ballads. Although Dio never played a musical instrument on any Rainbow album, he is credited with writing and arranging the music with Blackmore, in addition to writing all the lyrics himself.

Rainbow performing in Munich in 1977. The electric rainbow that spanned the stage used so much power, it frequently interfered with the guitars and amplifiers.

Blackmore fired everybody except Dio shortly after the album was recorded, due to Gary Driscoll's R&B style of drumming and the funky bass playing of Craig Gruber. Micky Lee Soule quit due to Blackmore's decisions, and Blackmore recruited Cozy Powell, Jeff Beck's drummer, bassist Jimmy Bain, and American keyboard player Tony Carey. This line-up went on to record the next album Rising. This line-up also commenced the first world tour for the band, with the first US dates in late 1975. Album art was designed by famed fantasy artist Ken Kelly, who had drawn Tarzan and Conan the Barbarian.

By the time of the European dates in the summer of 1976, Rainbow's reputation as a blistering live act was already established. Blackmore subsequently decided that Bain was substandard and fired him in January 1977. The same fate befell Tony Carey shortly after. Blackmore, however, had difficulty finding replacements he liked. On keyboards, after auditioning several high profile artists, including Vanilla Fudge's Mark Stein, Procol Harum's Matthew Fisher and ex-Curved Air and Roxy Music man Eddie Jobson, Blackmore finally selected Canadian David Stone, from the little-known band Symphonic Slam. For a bass player, Blackmore originally chose Mark Clarke, formerly of Jon Hiseman's Colosseum, Uriah Heep and Tempest, but once in the studio for the next album,Long Live Rock 'n' Roll, Blackmore disliked Clarke's fingerstyle method of playing so much that he fired Clarke on the spot and played bass himself on all but four songs: the album's title track, "Gates of Babylon", "Kill the King", and "Sensitive to Light". Former Widowmaker bassist, Australian Bob Daisley was hired to record these tracks, completing the band's next line-up.

After the release and extensive world tour in 1977–78, Blackmore decided that he wanted to take the band in a new commercial direction away from the "sword and sorcery" theme. Dio did not agree with this change and left Rainbow.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Vampire's Code - Released Today!

Get your copy of the 'Vampire's Code' today from Damnation Books in digital format for a rare low price! The first few copies are free on download, and eventually the ebook's maximum price will be reached after so many are downloaded today. This deal ends by midnight tonight!

A Dark Presence Hangs over Europe.

John Malcolm and Lieutenant Ledbetter, after six months of training are now part of the Shadow Society of Vampire Hunters. They must undergo their first missions in Europe amidst the Prussian War and uncover Earth-shaking conspiracies and awful technologies that will threaten mankind. With new agents in their team, they must find out the meaning behind the Vampire’s Code and the Ares Dispatch that’s circulating in Europe. What they find is more disturbing than what they experienced in Indian Territory and they can’t go back.