Something’s definitely in the air…

Over on Terri Windling’s blog, she has a wonderful post absolutely jam-packed with wild daffodils. Here’s a poem about Spring, written by me almost hmnhmnhmn-ahem! years ago.

Spring! (c) Lee McAulay 2015

(The artwork is Fruhling by Franz Stuck – click on the image to see a larger version)

The model also reminds me of Patti Smith, as photographed by her friend Robert Mapplethorpe for her album covers.

Published in: on April 15, 2015 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , ,

Winter overlaps Spring

Go read the post “Little Deaths” by Terri Windling. It’s a voyage through the end of winter, drawn from two separate climates, dry desert and damp Devon.

Her themes include the death of the Sacred King, Le Roi Sacré, at the end of Winter – a theme strongly linked to the underlying mythos of my novels THE LAST RHINEMAIDEN and SHADOWBOX.

Skull small

Another snippet, this time a quote from Ellen Kushner referenced in the post:

“Does fantasy demand that you stay in your adolescence forever?”

Again, in The Last Rhinemaiden, the character of Louis Beauregard is at the end of his life, an elderly man, not frail but aware that his time must come. About as far from adolescence as any man can get.

His aim in the novel is to end in sacrifice, as he knows he must. But he’ll fight it all the way.

“I don’t want to die. But I have to be killed.”

There are young characters in each novel, but Louis is the one who fascinates me. I’m intrigued by his position, by what it would do to someone’s behaviour, his outlook, his friendships. There’s a space of almost sixty years between the novels and perhaps I’ve taken the wrong route between them both, writing the old man before I asked what would make him so.

Writing the end before the beginning; winter overlaps spring.

I found writing the character more fascinating as an old man than the young rascal he is in Shadowbox. (When I’ve finished writing the current series of Petticoat Katie novels, I can see me taking you on a mid-life crisis with no-longer-young Mr Beauregard, one step ahead of his fencing-master and his old Russian nemesis.)

And then who knows?

Another link, this last week, was Dean Wesley Smith on “My Best Work“:

“What happens if your most acclaimed book, the one history will remember you for, is going to be your sixty-third book written? And you only manage to write ten? Or thirty?”

So, to the work then, and let posterity be the judge. None of us will ever know – unlike Louis Beauregard – whether we’ll endure. We must simply travel through time, ever forward, through each little death of the seasons, towards the future.

Published in: on February 18, 2015 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on Winter overlaps Spring  
Tags: , , ,

4 Things I Learned Last Month

Phew! I’m glad that’s over. Back in April I made the decision to publish my latest novel, SHADOWBOX, at the end of June.Reading plenty of books

I also declared, quite publicly in the comments over on The Business Rusch: Blogs, Guest Blogs, and Blog Interviews (Discoverability Part 9), that I was going to ‘promote’ the novel by blogging about it for a month, every day.

Once I made those commitments I had to follow through (or risk disappointing myself). The novel was written, the next story was begging to be written, and I wanted to add content to the blog.

Of course, there was the usual flim-flam to go with publishing a book – cover art, interior design, copy edits, formatting, uploading it to the various vendor sites, checking it, doing it again, back and forth. Adherence to a strict-ish schedule helped.

And then I had to write the blimmin’ blog posts, didn’t I?

So, what have I learned by doing the month-long series of blog posts on Shadowbox?

First: consistent, daily, thematic blogging is hard work. I take my hat off to those who manage this on a regular basis, such as Terri Windling over on Myth and Moor with her fantastic Into The Woods series.

Second: I can do it. Of course, I’d rather be writing new fiction, but by doing this (just the once!) I’ve proved to myself that I have the wherewithal to come up with lengthy blog posts on a specific subject, akin to a regular journalism schedule.

My first job interview when I left school was for a trainee reporter job on the local newspaper, and I wasn’t sure back then I’d be able to consistently produce words on deadline. Now, of course, I know I can.

Third: writing thematic posts in a series is actually a lot of fun. I enjoyed looking up the snippets embedded in each post – the images, the quotes, the often-obscure websites I could link to where others take the subject deeper than I wanted to express in my post.

I particularly loved the discovery of the Howard Carter Archive at the Griffith Institute of the University of Oxford, and Shelley at the Bodleian Library.

Fourth: I’d rather be writing novels.

And on that note, I’m off to begin the first draft of a new novel.

Last year I wrote three novels. Can I do it this year? I have a humungous amount of catching-up to do…

P.S. Normal posting schedule – once a week, on a Wednesday – will be resumed until I have another novel to push.

Published in: on July 2, 2014 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on 4 Things I Learned Last Month  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Carving My Own Walnut Burr

A few years ago I read a newspaper interview with a shotgun manufacturer – high status, expensive, bespoke sporting guns – and their apprentices.

For the first year (at this particular manufacturer), the apprentice learns to carve the stock of a shotgun from a block of burr walnut.

Artisan work still exists in the 21st century.

High quality artisan work in the 21st century.

That’s all.

No metalwork, no ballistics, no mechanics.

Just carving a block of wood.

The point?

It weeds out those apprentices who just want to make guns. They leave.

The ones who stay are those who have the patience to spend years making a matched pair of bespoke sporting guns that sell for upwards of £50,000.

“A bespoke gun is unique in that it is fitted to the customer, like a tailor makes a suit to be fitted onto his client. A shotgun or sporting rifle made for a specific owner will be unique, have durability, and suit the individual need of the customer in terms of weight and feel. It is also a thing of beauty and elegance. The hand-made gun is a very personal thing and there will always be a demand for them.” – John Hogan (Sporting Gun)

“A bespoke gun is unique in that it is fitted to the customer, like a tailor makes a suit to be fitted onto his client. A shotgun or sporting rifle made for a specific owner will be unique, have durability, and suit the individual need of the customer in terms of weight and feel. It is also a thing of beauty and elegance. The hand-made gun is a very personal thing and there will always be a demand for them.”
Read more at http://www.sportinggun.co.uk/homefeature/542040/Are_provincial_gunmakers_a_dying_breed.html#G1hYo71K6A2J3mkY.99

The reason this comes to mind right now is partly due to the post over on Dean Wesley Smith’s site, “Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing: #2… Self Publishing is Easy” and partly from my ongoing thoughts about writing, self-publishing and endurance.

Many of the people I follow online have been in the writing business, and the publishing industry, much longer than I have. Envy of their position is not sensible. Some of those folk have been published writers since before I could write.

The most wonderful part of this, however, is that so many people are willing to share their experience and knowledge for free, on their blogs and websites, like having a master in that craft to teach those of us who are still at the early stages of our apprenticeship.

Lawrence Watt-Evans.

Terri Windling.

Jim Butcher.

I have a lot more burr walnut to carve.

Where do you write?

I am somewhat fascinated by pictures of other people’s workspaces.

(I say “somewhat”, so you don’t think I’m some crazed loony stalking Flickr or Pinterest for the Big Reveal. Let me explain.)

Over on Terri Windling’s blog (The Drawing Board) she has a nice section entitled the “On Your Desk” series. Lots of photos showing people’s workspaces (not just hers).

It’s interesting that some people just snap what’s there at the time, while others feel the need to stage the photo of their workspace – even down to displaying the desktop on their computer as a prominent part of the image.

I like the idea of a fixed space for writing, but I’m also flexible enough to be able to write wherever I am – in a cafe, on a train, at a friend’s house. While I have a PC to write on, I used to write on whatever paper came to hand – notebook, loose-leaf pad or even the back of a business card.

Still do. Maybe if I had a fixed space for writing I might get round to it more often.

So… are you a fixed-space writer or a write-anywhere writer?

"Philae" oil painting by Veillon, a woman sitting on a riverbank at sunrise with temples and palm trees in the distance

Looking for inspiration – Veillon, “Philae”

Published in: on September 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm  Comments (2)  

The Joy of Bloggy Relics

When I find a new blog I like, one of the activities I enjoy most is going back to the earliest postings and reading the whole thing through, up to the most recent.

From the start of Joe Konrath‘s blog, you read about his efforts to push his books to bookshops across the USA. He documents the details and the sheer hard work he put in to make this happen, and then there’s the subtle shift… He finds ebooks.

There’s Dean Wesley Smith, writing his sensible advice back in 2008, cautious about the new technology that is starting to gain traction.

Luann Udell, whose posts go back ten years on the trials and tribulations of making a living at your art (in her case, little Stone Age horse figurines).

My newest discovery, Grumpy Old Bookman, whose blog posts from 2004 onwards are an online archive of the development of publishing in the UK, including the rise of ebooks and indie publishing. I’ve been looking for a source of information with a UK perspective since finding Dean Wesley Smith two years ago. This is one of those sources, and I prefer it to others.

Nicola Morgan, the Crabbit Old Bat, is a great read and another UK perspective on publishing, including ebooks and especially non-fiction.

Terri Windling, whose lovely welcoming blog has lots of great illustrations used liberally, photos and words and links to folklore topics and a perspective from the editing side of the page. Plus, she has a very photogenic dog.

All of these – and more – filled with musings and developments. The gradual buildup of posts create a voice, a real sense of personality, and the best of them create a sense of being someone’s “home” on the web.

Each time I read a long-enduring blog, I’m reminded that the volume of posts takes time to create. One of the joys is seeing how situations change the writer, or the writer finds their niche or their specialism or their folly.

This inspires me.

Each blog post of my own is a marker on my own web history, the development of my work or the growth of my writing voice, what I choose to say with it.

The messages I send to the future.

And I know I’ve barely begun.

Published in: on July 26, 2012 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on The Joy of Bloggy Relics  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,