When Dragonsoul was a game…

Back in the day, most of my writing was for game mods. And so, one day, I decided to use the Neverwinter Nights Aurora Engine to write my own game. It was called Dragonheart, and followed the story of a young adventurer whose village was destroyed by a mysterious sorceress called Sirene. Along the way, they met a mysterious stranger called Kailas, and a race of humans descended from dragons called the Kindred. I never finished this because a) coding is hard and b) I realised I wanted to write it as a novel… but here are some screenshots from my shelved game 🙂

If you right click on the images and ‘view image’, you get to see a the full-size screenshots.

Early concepts for Merrowvale.

More Merrowvale

Snowy escape

The Waterfall Shrine’s entrance

Earliest concept for Kailas (his portrait was part of a pack and was painted by Marie Rose, an artist I used to chat with over on DeviantART. I never did finish my version of Kailas’s portrait…)

A quest! See, I did do some coding (it took me forever…)

The Crustal Forest… before it was Crystal 🙂

Meeting First (who, ironically, isn’t in this novel. If I write the sequel, she would be in that). First is one of the Kindred.

Close up of First.

In the Seneschal Forest with Kailas, looking for the Kindred.

Fleeing from danger with Kailas.

Meeting the Kindred (note: in this version, Merrowvale was called Belleville)

Kailas’s model. In the game, he was older and had a Kindred heritage of his own (hence the wings). This was changed in the novel so the story made more sense.

I’ve kept these concepts (there are LOADS more) because they’re part of my journey to completing Dragonsoul. in a way, I kind of wish I had persevered with it. But then, I wouldn’t have a novel, so swings and roundabouts…


Things I have learned about rejection (part 1)

Yep, I got another one. But whilst they hurt like hell (even if you knew they were coming), rejection is quite interesting. And yeah, I know there are loads of these things around, but this isn’t about ‘work on another project’ (trying it – not really working…). Instead, it’s random stuff wot goes on in my ‘ead.

So this is stuff I have learned recently about rejection so far:

1) Don’t, for the love of small kittens and good-looking chaps wielding large swords, find an agent and think ‘you’re perfect!’ and then spend hours fantasising about all that sweet literary music you’re going to make together. Because when they do reject your project, you’ve just made that rejection about 10 million times more painful than it needed to be. Not that I did that. (I totally did.)

2) Do allow yourself to feel bad. There’s so much crap out there about writers having to develop a thick skin and how nothing should get to us and yadda yadda yadda, but I call shenanigans on that one because you’re human and it’s natural to feel bad when someone says ‘no’ to you (well… okay, in this case. There are other times when people saying no to you is probably a good thing. When it says ‘do not feed the tigers’, you do not feed the tigers. Unless you’re that mad bloke in China. And look what happened to him… Hint: He didn’t turn into Tarzan). Approaching an agent is a bit like approaching that stranger you’ve been admiring on the train for months and you’ve just managed to pluck up the courage to say ‘hi!’, and rejection is the blank look they give you in reply (if you’re lucky – if you’re not, it’s one of those ‘and from which rock did you crawl out from under?’ looks), a polite smile and then looking the other way, making it absolutely clear that your attention is most definitely NOT wanted. It hurts. Of course it hurts. I would be worried if it didn’t. But…

3) Don’t dwell. I have a folder on my computer where I put all my rejections. I read ’em, feel horrible, then stick them in the folder. And I don’t look at ’em again. No point, other than to beat myself up with *has visions of Homer Simpson scrubbing the failure away*

4) Get Maltesers in the cupboard. Lots of them. Big family sized packs. Go on – they’re only a quid in Asda right now. I didn’t and would quite happily have punched the old woman over the road if it meant I could have got hold of a bag of those lovely chocolatey balls when I received my first rejection. But now I know better *sage nod*. Oh so better… *crunch, munch, munch*

5) Don’t stop loving your book. I have lost count of the times I have considered trunking Dragonsoul over the last 4 weeks, but then I go and read a bit of it and you know what? I do love it. I do believe in it. Okay, it might not be the book that ‘gets’ there, but I figure if I can’t love it, why should anyone else?

6) … but saying that, I am beginning to think having anything to do with dragons in your book title, even if your story isn’t explicitly about them, was a bit of a faux pas… :-/ Note to everyone: Unless you are four, or are Anne McCaffery, keep the dragons out of the title. (I should really have listened to my own advice there…)

7) Develop a Candy Crush obsession. Can’t worry about rejection when you’re dreaming about violently coloured explodey balls of frustration. Believe me, beating level 204 is SO much more important than getting an agent right now. ^^p

So, yeah. 4 weeks worth of querying, just over. It’s a steep learning curve, and no mistake. But so is Candy Crush. And if I can beat level 204, I can CONQUER THE WORLD!!!

I met Neil Gaiman…

…And he told me to keep making fantastic mistakes!

Yep, this Sunday, the Man Himself was in Portsmouth, firstly to unveil a road named after his novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and then to do a talk at the Guildhall later. And I was there! And he was funny! And charming! And I’m a little bit in love right now (more than I was before, which I didn’t think was possible).

I would have photos, but I have yet to work out how to get them off my phone (new phone is confusing). But I’m sure I can nag my friend Jane to get her to spot me a couple of hers… ^^p

Being Published, Being Rejected and Being (Technically) Unemployed…

And again, it’s been a while! But it’s been a while for a reason. Y’see… I gave up my job. Yep, that’s right – I am no longer teaching. Why? For many reasons.

1 – my work/life balance was seriously out of whack. I have two young daughters, but work was trying to insist that it, not them, was the more important. So, as the actress said to the bishop, fuck that shit.

2 – Black Smokers was accepted for publication. Yep – that’s right… Black Smokers is going to be a book! A fucking, bona-fide book! It’s being released 1st September 2013, by Damnation Books. As soon as I have any links etc, I’ll let you all know 😉

3 – On the back of Black Smokers, another Indie publisher (who I had to turn down because they said they were going to offer me a contract after I told them I had accepted Damnation Books) offered me a three book deal. Yep, you read that right. Three books. All about sea monsters and dinosaurs (because those things rule). I’ve started writing one: Predator X. So, yeah… hence the ‘technically’ unemployed, because whilst don’t have a day job any more, I definitely have a hobby-job!

4 – I’m querying Dragonsoul. This is where things get a bit tricky and depressing, because querying agents is a lot more stressful and heartbreaking than I imagined it would be. Trying to convince someone to just take that chance… it’s hard. 6 rejections so far, but I’m not bitter – seriously, I’m not. I know DS is a good tale, and it just needs to land on the right desk (… I just wish I knew whose desk that was!). And then there is also Moreau (which my friend Jane has kindly agreed to type up for me, because I just don’t have the time), so if DS falls flat on its face, well, maybe that’ll do better. We’ll see.

So, yeah… lots going on! And lots to get my head round. Hence the lack of updates. To say I am in a new phase right now is a bit of an understatement. Watch this space for updates!!