Tag Archives: dragons

My writing plans

How many novels am I working on?

I try to focus on about three at a time mostly, the same three, but I have more on the go than I admit.

Nobody will believe me if I said I have approximately one hundred and fifty unfinished works and about forty works stewing because I am pernickety and a perfectionist that just can’t seem to decide on the plot or another version of it.

It has been some months since I last said this, that when I whine about not finishing the project in time for my deadline, it is that one specific novel I am on about – project AD.

When I say I haven’t written anything I often mean to say towards the main project specifically – because in all honesty, even on my hardest of days, I am still writing something; be it poetry, songs, short stories, snippets of ideas or other novels, you can bet your bottom dollar I am still producing roughly three thousand words a day elsewhere.  But for me, it’s the main project that counts.

Along with my approximate 3k words on other works and approximately 3k words toward my main project on a good day, I am also in working mode whenever I watch YouTube, socialise on twitter and read books – which means all in all I work longer than anyone should!

There isn’t a time in my day where I am not working, unless of course I am eating, because I usually use meal times as a way to socialise with my nearest and dearest and all focus is on them.

When I read a book, it’s usually educational for me in some way.  I rarely read fiction books, but that is a habit that’s slowly changing.

I was asked on twitter recently, what would I call my writing niche?  It got me thinking, because I couldn’t answer straight away without thinking about it for about ten minutes and when I thought of what it might be, I had to google it to see if it was a thing and it is; abstract fantasy.

I suppose it is abstract fantasy because a lot of my works have a lot of abstract ideas, such as anthropomorphism, breaking down the boundaries of what is stereotypical of fantasy creatures and even breaking down the boundaries of societal norms as there is a lot of gender fluidity in some of my works.

Often whenever people ask me what I mostly write I give them a long list as a reply, something akin to; I write dark fantasy, or things of a dark theme such as descent into madness survival, anthropomorphism, dystopia and a bit of steampunk and vampires.  Those are my usual go to replies – however, it says nothing really of the giants and dragons I write about and it totally bypasses the fact that it is an abstract idea not the general run of the mill fantasy everyone is cosy with.

For example, I might have dragons who dress in regency clothing having afternoon tea picnics discussing the barbarism of humanity; or beautiful faeries with butterfly wings, heavily tattooed with shaved sides of their heads in intricate patterns getting ready to wrestle a badger as a ride to go to the summer solstice party.  You get what I mean here, though lovely and fantastical it can be a little dark in the way I write things, but still not too dark for family entertainment, that’s important to me!

So I have grown comfortable in understanding I am an abstract fantasy author with mild horror thrown in here and there.

Abstract fantasy is more doable than you think – although most people would consider Douglas Adams work “Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy” as a comedy sci-fi it is often marketed as abstract fantasy. 

Terry Pratchett, Diana Wynne Jones, Clive Barker and Garth Nix are also considered abstract fantasy authors, to name but a few.

My current project AD is definitely abstract fantasy but it does have some steampunk elements to it too, so the marketing here can be difficult unless I decide which niche it’s actually going to be and personally – I think it’s going to be marketed as a YA science fiction because I think the steampunk elements are quite big, the anthropomorphism is due to genetic mutations, the animals are building a world out of the scraps of junk humans have left behind and they are building weapons to fight each new rising faction that is occurring out of the dust. 

I think this project screams Tank Girl, Mad Max and The Fly so this is why I have chosen to market it as YA Science Fiction rather than abstract fantasy, because science is quite a large theme in the series and yes, this is going to be a series of books and eventually I plan to make them into a graphic novel, but at the moment I am not confident in doing that – so they are novels right now.

I have also changed the species of a rival group, which is why I am falling behind on the project, because I had to rewrite four chapters depicting the new species which set me back about a week, I am happier with the idea that this rival clan is sheep rather than rats as I felt that rats are overdone as bad guys.

Also the main character has a disability, which I felt is often underrepresented in literature, so I am proud of that and it really makes the story, it really works well.

This story has bought back the fun in writing for me, which is something I haven’t felt since 2015, it has a lot of wacky ideas which work and I am so proud of.

But Project AD is definitely not my only project, no worries there.

This is part of a series, but it is not my only series I am working on and there are plenty of standalone novels too.

I have a vampire saga I am working, this is probably going to be my longest series of all my books and again I would market them as science fiction because of the fact that my vampires are not originally from Earth and they do space travel from time to time.

Another series I am working on has twelve defined stories and there will absolutely never be more than twelve books in this series because it would defy the plot, there is a specific reason why the number twelve is important to this series.  I have mentioned this story before as Steampunk 1 and this story will be marketed under steampunk because it’s quite rigid in that genre.  It is a lesbian romance of travel companions who explore new cultures and debunk science together.

Another is a dark fantasy about ghost children, this is a standalone book and I won’t say much else about the plot just yet.

There is another dark fantasy about a haunted teddy bear, which I’ve vaguely mentioned two years ago approximately.

There is a dragon trilogy I am working on.

A series of stories about giants in the same world, but all different characters, with their own stories, but it is a specific world; so far there are five planned, two half written.

A werewolf novel, which is a standalone – the plot isn’t exciting enough yet and needs a lot of work!

There is so much more than this, there is no need to worry about me being a one trick pony, honestly!

I can’t focus on one thing for too long it triggers my ADD really bad and I am always juggling ideas, some for years being remastered time and time again – but there is more to me than just anthropomorphic mutant warriors having gang warfare and vampires flying around in spaceships and lesbian balloon riders debunking science… much, much more!

I am also working on a series of books based on angels and demons and the bible etc., there is just so much fighting to get out of my head!

In my next post, I am going to be talking about how I structure my stories and how long my ideas can take to write on average.

Thanks for reading!

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Witchy roots & faeries

What got me into fantasy and horror as a genre?

My family history is really to blame for me loving fantasy and horror, because my family history is pretty unusual in fact, absolutely overrun with weirdness.

It mostly stems from my maternal line all this weird stuff, my grandmother is half Romany and my grandmother once told me that there are witches within the family; I never really truly believed her though I liked the thought that we had such a weird and diverse family history – but in 2017 I found out the truth when I did my own genetic research.

It turns out that my family had cousins who were victims of the Salem witch trials not only on my grandmother’s side of the family, but also my grandfather’s side of the family as well – her husband. 

My family names which were involved with these trials are Howe, Bishop and Crawley – though Crawley managed to escape from her persecution by running away in the night to a different town, here in the UK, around one hundred years after Salem, because our family fled back to the UK after their cousins were lost to the Salem trials.

My grandmother was rather good at telling me about family traditions and taught me a lot of things, which my mother thought was a load of old tosh and old wives tales; but I followed my grandmothers advice on more than one occasion and things always worked out for me whenever I got stuck in life – so it is something I have learned to live by these days.

Witchcraft and gypsy magick seems to run in my blood and there is a lot of weird things I’ve been taught over the years about what it is to be a true witch, with real witch heritage!

My grandmother held off teaching me anything before I was seven years of age, because a true witch understands that before the age of seven spirits can over take a child and make them act like changelings – non-humans and they will never get back their former child if they allow them to mess around with magick sooner than this!

You can tell if a child is meant to be a witch for several reasons within the family – the most significant thing is having green eyes, which is probably why green eyes are rare, it was common knowledge back in the witch burning days.  The next significant thing is being able to remember their dreams and being a sickly child; because the magick messes up our bodies and because we’re young we’re not strong enough to control it. 

Some people believe that green eyes is a sign we are descendants of the goddess Hera and some say it’s where the word heretic comes from, but I can’t vouch for the truth of this, because I don’t know! 

But what I do know is, there is a section of my mother’s family who believe we are descendants from Dionysus, but again, I can’t vouch for the truth of this either!  I know the Italian side of my family believe we are mixed with Greek and Jewish too, but that’s one of the four lines in the past five generations where I have Italian blood.

But that’s another conversation.

The family name Crawley is linked to the family name Crowley too, as the Crowley’s changed their name to become more distinctive and I’ve yet to find a link to the man himself – you know who I am talking about!  My grandmother is sure however he is a second or third cousin to her as she met him at a family reunion around 12yrs of age – she was born in 1932.  Again, I don’t know whether this is true or not, because I haven’t found a link in my research to him.

Why would this influence my love for fantasy and horror?  Because it was part of my bonding process with my grandmother or nan as I called her!  She taught me that in order to be safe going out you need certain trinkets, her particular favorite is the Cornish pixie, if you have that on you and people cause mischief with you, the pixie will ensure they get into mischief too!

I wasn’t inclined to believe about the pixies too much.  But something strange happened when I was twenty five and I went out to a local woodland with a boyfriend (of whom I was having doubts about) – he was being his general obnoxious self and then there was a big rustle up in the trees above us – acorns fell on his head hurting him, when he complained about it there was cheeky maniacal laughter coming up from the tree and the acorn pellets got worse and worse until he grabbed me by the hands and ran out of the woodlands with me!  I laughed and warned him of my heritage once again and how he shouldn’t be so bloody cheeky with me!  We broke up four months later.

She got me into the habit of leaving an offering out to the spirits of the house; because if they are not fed often enough they’ll make the house fall into disrepair!  They will also protect the house from burglary and other things.  I believe this, because I am paranoid about forgetting to do the offerings and I have had two near burglary’s happen, one occasion a burglar tried to break in and the garden gate fell on them as they ran away – the burglar was someone we knew, because they couldn’t help saying that there are weird freaky things in the window and when he decided to leave – the gate fell on him!  But we noticed the back door of the house looked meddled with and we had to change the locks because of issues with it.

This person also claimed that the joker soft toy in the bedroom window waves at him from time to time, but that’s not a mechanical toy, so it must be the Nisse (my gran never called it Nisse, she always called it the hearth folk) playing about!

There are lots of things like this that happen over and over again in my life and many things I won’t talk about here, because if a witch reveals too much about their actual family spells it makes the spells null and void for all future generations.  This is how you can really tell a true witch from someone who just likes to play about.  It is also the reason why certain famous spell books don’t work for some people, but some people they do, because the spirits can sense the bloodlines, but some spells still don’t work or work as effectively as they did for those who originated them, because they get weaker with corruption outside of true magick circles.

Earlier on in the life of the internet you could tell real magick from fake, because magic, magick and magyck – had different significant meanings, which no longer stand in today’s society, once again, thanks to corruption… usually corruption of the wannabes rather than religious intervention! 

No spirit will hurt a true witch, but they do hurt those who are not pure in heart with their spells or who are not part of spiritual bond that blood gives; they will particularly hurt those who intend to do spells based on selfish reasons and revenge.  Because a true witch has no reason to make revenge spells, because their protective spirits and the spirits of their ancestors would already be enacting a vengeance plan for them, if they feel that the witch truly suffered innocently.

Also witches never charge for their skills in spell making or fortune telling, because the spirits will work against them as their skills are a gift and should not be abused for financial gain – however, a true witch and true fortune teller will ask for a donation, this is better than to outright charge.  A donation is acceptable to the spirits, charging for your ability is not!

This is why you will know a true witch, if she asks you to pay for your own spell ingredients so that she can use them to help you, and then you know she is genuine!

Spells from a true witch work faster than those who are merely wannabes!

Also a true witch knows that if a witch curses another witch, that within twelve years they will feel the nasty effects of what they have done, because witches have a code of protecting each other which must never be broken!  Also a true witch can feel the spells as soon as it is cast on them, though they won’t always know where it came from!  It is rumoured in my family that we were the originators of the idea of witch bottles and four thieves vinegar, but again, whether that’s true or not I don’t know! 

My nan told me that a witch is a witch not because they worship devils, that’s just carnival games to excite the masses for some – they are witches because they are descendants from supernatural beings such as pagan gods, faeries and even dragons – because in the far east they believe dragons can live lives like a human and that they have special magical abilities.

My nan also told me that I had Chinese in my ancestry, she was wrong, I found the link she meant, they were actually Vietnamese.  My grandmother is not very clever or academic, she never read books outside of supernatural or occult memoirs – but she knew a lot of Vietnamese traditions purely by word of mouth through the family.

My grandmother on my father’s side of the family also had some fantastical stories about our family history too – though she is not from witch or gypsy lines.  She is from quite a pronounced aristocratic line, a contrast to my mother’s family entirely!  Though her father was Irish and once spoke of tales of how the family is rumoured to be descended from the Tuath Dé Danann.  At the time I had no idea what that was, but I learned it was fairy folk of Ireland! 

My grandmother from this side of the family also spoke of a family banshee, but I was terrified of those stories and I wouldn’t acknowledge them as true, until my first ever death in that side of the family – when I did, indeed hear a distressed long cry and screech outside all night, the night before I learned that Great auntie Edith died!

I learned over the years that you can talk to the banshee and even comfort her, something I never found in myth as possible – she now only softly whimpers, whenever a death occurs and she gives a longer warning of three days before now.

I love weeping willows, but it is not wise for me to be under them for more than a minute, because of their reaction to me.  I always find myself tangled up in their branches and leaves, like the tree is trying to embrace me – I laughed about it when I went on a picnic with my gran, she panicked and because she was disabled and couldn’t walk over to me, she screeched at my cousins to get me away from the tree quickly!  When I settled back down with her, I told her I was fine, the tree didn’t hurt me.  But she said, no, if I hadn’t of got them to get you out of there, we would have lost you! 

I called her silly, but she looked at me with the most serious and stern look I’ve ever seen in her eyes and she said – never go under a weeping willow if you can help it, not all of them, but some have a spirit in them that can sense where your blood is from and the tree will hold you tight until you go back to that world!

Back to what world?

Fairyland!

I laughed at her, but she hit me with her walking stick and told me not to be foolish about it, because if I had got trapped in fairyland a minute is a century if I were to come back and what will happen to me then?

Amongst my skills of being a writer, musician, gardener and poet, are also skills in clairvoyance, clairsentience, healing and fortune telling!  I don’t like to touch people unless I know them well, because if they are sick and I touch them for more than five minutes at a time, I can sense their illness and take it within myself for a few moments, whilst they get relieved of symptoms.  But I have learned how to alleviate that for me in the past few years.

I remember once when training at work – a method of bonding with our colleagues I was made to hold hands with two people and hold their hands for ten minutes straight as part of the exercise and I fainted within three minutes; it was not apparent until fifteen minutes after I collapsed when I asked the two women I held hands with, if they have any serious health problems?  When they asked why?  I said because if I touch someone over a certain period of time I take on their health problems, she was terrified because she had a heart problem and she couldn’t apologise enough, I calmed her down and told her, she wasn’t to know this sort of thing could happen, it’s highly irregular!

Weirdly enough my dad is the seventh born and my mum had several pregnancies in which she is sure I’d be her seventh child too, so it’s no wonder my powers are more significant than other members of the family who chose to stay true to our heritage!  I know according to the other practising witches in the family they believe I am the strongest of the lot – whether it’s to do with the significance of my birth as a seventh child of a seventh child we’re unsure, but I was also born on a full moon!  3rd October 1982 if you want to check!

With all this in my heritage, all these strange tales and occurrences, how else was I to spend my life but wanting to learn more about the supernatural and absorbing myself into it all?

I have to admit a lot of my family stories and experiences will be found in my novels, but I won’t share too much about the magick, because of those reasons I’ve already explained above.

But as I have said in previous posts, my life has been very spiritually enriched and blessed and I am happy to have such a life, no matter how lonely it makes me!

What bought this post on? 

I was scared of my witchy roots for a few years because there have been one or two discriminating people in my village, so I swept it under the carpet.  But like always the spirits have a way in keeping their own safe; so those discriminating people left the village to go to retirement dream spots away from here and they were replaced by likeminded folk.  It’s a funny old world isn’t it?

If I hadn’t been an absorbed writer, I probably would have followed my cousin and nans encouragement in trying to be a fortune teller, healer and clairvoyant of donation only and struggled on through life trying to make ends meet that way – outside of my normal day job – a history of my former occupations will be another post.

I have restarted my crystal and tarot card collections again recently, you know it’s a myth that you can’t use your own tarot if you buy it, don’t you?  A myth to deter Christian children from partaking in witchy pursuits! 

Thanks for reading!

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Dragon 1 update

What is in this story?

Long lost relative rediscovered

Found family

Witches

Dragons

Comedy

Battle scenes

Camping

Giants

Pirates

Main character Male in late 30s

Coming of age young girl learning her place in a strange world

Portal world

Magic lost

Set in Britain & Alternate reality

Betrayal

Treachery

Fire elemental magic

Travelling quest

Huge didn’t see it coming plot twist

What works by other people inspired this project of mine?

The movie Reign of fire

The movie magical legends of the leprechauns

The book A monster calls by Patrick Ness

The pirates of the Caribbean movie series

The lord of the rings trilogy

Worst witch TV series and books by Jill Murphy

The character Sirius Black in Harry Potter’s prisoner of Azkaban (this has not given away the plot twist)

Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie

The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

And several Ransom Riggs novels

This story started in my head in 2003 and is currently paused in its eighth draft because I have preferred to work towards my project Anthropomorphic Dystopian 1 instead.  Once Anthropomorphic Dystopian 1 is finished, I will continue to complete draft eight of this project, with the hope to be sending it out to the world around three months later; or rather, after it has stewed again.

This book may have a part two or three, but I am unclear as of yet – however, it has an open ending, that will not leave you feeling dissatisfied, but may have you asking lots of questions – don’t hate me for it, please!

Happy Reading!

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Filed under Current Projects

Rewrites and steampunk animals

I am eager to get my desk up and stuff put into organised areas again, because I am desperate to get a start on writing towards six projects.

The idea of doing NaNoWriMo may go out of the window because I am working on remastering an old project to go into an entirely different direction altogether. 

My old project is known as Dragon 1 to some and Maud to others; so I will start calling it Maud here, because that’s the title I give it, even though I feel the title will change with the rewrite.

Why am I completely remastering the story? 

I have learned that my characters seem to lack soul, vibe, if you get what I mean?  They are bland in my opinion, well most of them, and only around six seem to have any real spirit for the storyline.  I learned that my main character is someone I do not know as well as her mentor.

Therefore the stance of the story is changing to not focus too much on her (Maud that is) but to concentrate on events unfolding and the mentor’s journey with Maud.  Because this story is about a teenager who is being mentored into understanding a certain culture and to prepare her for integration in that culture; this story is a fantasy setting where dragons and witches are a huge part of their cultural heritage.  I like to think of my story as a mix of Princess Diaries and Lord of the Rings, but the few people I have shared the old parts of the story with, believe I am not being fair to my story as in their opinion it is nothing like it, but certainly moreish!

The story has comedy elements which were slightly supressed, but now I am more confident in adding humour into my fantasy stories, the comedy scenes will be less choked as it were.

I never wrote the story from a first person narrative, which will make the rewrite easier; this story is written in a third person narrative – I rarely write in first person.

Originally the story was focused on what Maud could see and hear and what she immediately interacted with but within the confines of a third person narrative.  Now it is not like that, it is more chopped, flowing to and from characters, building atmosphere, tension and mysteries which weren’t present in the old manuscripts. 

I know it is an unpopular idea, but it is crucial to the plot that there will be two chapters or large scenes of flash-backs, because there was a murder in the plot – so, saying that, it is understandable, especially as the murder does not happen in the story, but is part of the past of the story, if that makes sense?

So this is the project I am writing towards as soon as my desktop computer is set up on my new desk.  This story has nearly been sent to publishers twice since starting it and I am so glad I held back until now; because I have put the story away for a year without reading it and went back to it with fresh eyes and saw zombie like characters and characters who personally should no longer exist in the rewrite because they did nothing but follow Maud around like lost puppies and the only exciting thing those characters did was sacrifice their lives to save the group!

“Kill your darlings” as Stephen King says, I think it was him anyway…

The second project is something I will be working on long-term and it has interest already from some comic fans I personally know.  This is going to be a long-winded project because I am trying to hone in on my art skills, which are still in the baby stages if I am honest.  So not only am I writing the series of stories this will become, I am trying my best to do anthropomorphic steam punk art that goes with it!

Yes you read right, anthropomorphic steam punk art – exciting stuff, eh?

In fact it is this second projects fault, that I have not published anywhere online at all any new inktober art for this year!  I am focusing too much on practising art for this project that I haven’t really practised much else.

Being the overprotective little creator that I am, I am scared to share my current artwork with anyone online, in case it gives too much away to the plot as a whole!

But there are steam punk anthropomorphic animals, running around a dystopian horror world, that’s all I am going to say!

Happy reading everyone, hope you are as excited to see what I am doing as I am!

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Filed under About my work

Imagination from the shadows

The shadow world surrounds me and inspires my heart

Stories to tell and wondrous art

Fantasy, horror, I love them all

They dance in my head in their raucous ball

I sit and I write about courageous fights and dragons protecting their nest

I write about angels betraying God and I think I like those the best

But the thing I love more than all of these things

Is the fantasy that someday I may inspiration bring

To other writers and artists like me

To help and set their imagination free

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Types of stories I have finished or are working on

Types of work that I am currently doing;

I have mentioned in several posts that there are certain themes I am writing in my novels and there has been a question of just how many novels are you working on at the moment?  Personally, I don’t know!  I know that sounds really funny to some, but I have been writing loads of stories almost my whole life and I have never really sat back and wondered how many I am working on, because I just write what I feel like at the time.  Yes, there are many novels which are 100% finished now, but to me they could still be in redrafting stages and many have been redrafted umpteempth times since two years ago.  I only started redrafting my 30yrs of work two years ago, simply because I never thought it would be necessary and also because I was never sure if I could cope with writing as a career.

I think I am ready to say, I am now ready for this career, hence why a lot of my writing habits have changed recently.

I am totally self-taught, I have no formal education and I was home educated by a dyslexic parent throughout most of my childhood and pretty much neglected by social services to get on with it without too much interference.  As an adult I have been kept too busy to take up education, but even now, I am trying to teach myself.  I can’t afford even the cheapest monthly fee on skillshare yet, but I am hoping by the end of the year that I can do some of their courses to learn how to punctuate properly and use grammar and anything else I need to improve my writing for both my blog and my novels, before finally approaching that agent I want to.  I have found an agent I like, but whether or not they will like me this time next year is another matter!

This post is going to tell you the types of novels I am working on or that have been finished, without revealing too much of the plot; but the list is not conclusive, these are just stories I am willing to throw out into the world in the next couple of years, with any luck!

  1.  You all know how much I love my vampires; so it shouldn’t be a shock to tell you that I have twenty seven different stories already completed in both my mind and on paper, along with full encyclopaedias and fictional historical booklets based on that world.  I have been working on this massive project since I was ten years old, yes ten years old!  That’s a whopping twenty eight years!  However, there is a list of seventy eight other stories I haven’t even finished yet, not even once that has been on the go for years, some are new. 
  2. Recently you have learned my second favourite creature to write about are dragons and there are approximately five books I have been writing, three of which are near completion with hopefully their final drafts. 
  3. Pirates are another fantasy thing I like to write about regularly and there are three separate pirate books to date.  One of which is near its final draft and another is an off-shoot book to one of the dragon novels. 
  4. Gargoyles also have their own books with this author, I have six novels with those and in two of them they are the main characters.
  5. I have written two novels with phoenixes as the main theme too.
  6. I have a whole series based on a character that lives in a hot air balloon, this is currently five books long, but there are more being planned.
  7. There are seven books based on robots. Half of which are fantasy more than sci-fi.
  8. There is a big series about giants, that is almost ten books strong and again, they are off-shoots of a dragon novel I have.
  9. There are loads of mermaid novels I have and various other new sea creatures, I haven’t actually counted those, but I do know that there are at least six finished.  These are standalone novels, not a series.
  10. I have four separate series of werewolves, one of which I am very passionate about and spend a lot of time on.
  11. There is a demon erotica series I have been working on for the past eight years; the series is actually nearly complete now.
  12. There are three zombie books that are both standalone novels, too, two of which are more fantasy than horror and very comedic.
  13. There are five separate afterlife series I am working on, some are fantasy, some are horror and some are dystopian.
  14. There are fourteen dystopian series I am working on too, two of which are based on religious ideologies.
  15. There is a series of fairy stories for children too, which is approximately seven books and I regard as novellas.
  16. There are four Christmas themed books I have written too.
  17. There are four comics too, or, I think one of them is actually graphic novel rather than comic – this is dystopian and steam punk in style.
  18. I also have two ghost stories.
  19. I have a selection of horror too, which could be considered a series, but they are all standalones really.
  20. I know I have 777 poems on this blog, but there are at least 5000 off the blog that have never been published online anywhere.
  21. I have nine musical compositions as well, that has never been published anywhere.
  22. I have six operas written too as well as musicals for theatre, but I am so not confident about those right now.
  23. I have a series about little people that were inspired by Land of the giants and the borrowers. 

There are probably more I haven’t mentioned yet, but these are the only things that come to mind right now for me.  I do have a lot of work here, but I just haven’t had the confidence about really throwing myself out there.  I am terrified of the consequences.  I don’t want fame, I want my work to be enjoyed and I really want to see them as movies, but I don’t want to have a famous face.  But I am getting used to the idea that maybe I will have no choice someday?  I can’t keep my work hidden forever, I didn’t write it for it to be hidden and forgotten – those novels are like little people to me, they are like creatures that need to be nurtured and their only food is recognition.  Their only source of nourishment is to be enjoyed and read, it keeps them alive!  I believe in BIG MAGIC, I believe ideas are alive!

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Filed under About my work

Top 10 children’s books that influenced me

Top 10 children’s books that influenced my writing and why

Dragon’s dinner by Susannah Corbett

This is a hilarious book I read at least once a month to myself, I know it’s a young child’s picture book, but I adore it!

It is written in rhyme and there is a comedy element on every page, not to mention great illustration too!  I have a love for dragons that almost rivals my love for vampires; this is seen in the novels I write.  In fact, I have nearly finished a dragon novel to the extent that I may be considering sending it off to an agent in 2022.  At the moment I have approximately three more chapters to write of it again, this is the eighth draft, but then I will store it away for a couple of months and look again with fresh eyes and see if it needs a ninth draft – but I doubt it at the moment.

A strange thing for me is that writing the story initially can take just under a month for me to do, but editing and redoing drafts can take me three months, because I find that a boring process, I hate redoing stuff!  I am trying to learn to love doing that.

My dragon novel is potentially YA or adult fantasy, not sure yet, it is definitely bigger than this picture book and does have a lot of comedy elements to it.

Horton hears a who by Dr Seuss

I love most books by Dr Seuss and this is my favourite.  I like books where something unbelievable is eventually proven to the other characters of the book and that is something that is seen in a handful of my own works.  Once again there is a comedy element to the book.

I think I love this story a lot because when I was a child I used to blow bubbles and imagine that every bubble was a planet full of life, like Earth only different with unique creatures on each planet and that the time scale was epically fast.  I never read Horton Hears A Who until I had my son Henry and bought the book for him when he was 2yrs old – so the book resonated with me a lot.

James and the giant peach by Roald Dahl

There would be more than just one book by Roald Dahl on this list, but I wanted to be as broad as possible in my listings; it was difficult trying to narrow down which book to choose for this list by this specific author; I chose the one that I felt was the most unique and the one that literally got my heart pumping with excitement as I read it.

There were so many wonderful things in this book, talking, friendly insects, a comedy element, drama, horror, lots and lots of excellent scenery I just adored it.  I loved the parts where the peach acted like a hot air balloon and was flying above the world.  It is this scene which has influenced me the greatest, because I am working on a fantasy series based on a hot air balloon traveller which is aimed for a YA audience potentially.

Harry Potter and chamber of secrets by J.K Rowling

Much like most people nowadays, it is hard to think of fantasy and children’s books without thinking about Harry Potter, it is a great series and narrowing down to a specific book was very difficult, but this is my favourite because of the living trees and the giant spiders.  Also I found this the funniest of the lot.  I like depictions of forests particularly with living trees mentioned occasionally, such can be found in many books, Lord of the Rings and The Wizard of Oz to name but two.  I have to admit, even I have written a scene with forest spiders in one of my novels, not to copy, but because it just felt so right and almost expected in a manner; in fact it is a scene in my main dragon novel.

Engelbert Sneem and his dream vacuum machine by Daniel Postgate

This had me riveted from the offset, it is amazing.  I love books where you get to dance around in someone else’s dreams and things like this, BFG and a couple of other stories had dreams in them too.  I love writing about dream worlds within my stories from time to time, but they do seem to be more horror based than my usual comedy fantasy.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

I have loved reading Heidi ever since I was a child and I must admit not only reading it, but also love watching all the movies that come out based on this story too!  Heidi has influenced my imagination a lot over the years.  I love goats and mountain sceneries and books with snow, books that star strong minded children who seem to act as blessings to the adults of their world.  I love miracle stories too and little Clara certainly had a miracle happen to her!

Quite a few of my books do seem to be rather Germanic, Norse or Slavic based, unintentionally, I haven’t really understood why.  I have strong warrior figures in my novels and the landscapes usually end up sounding like Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, the Alps and sometimes even the Carpathians.  I have never travelled outside of the UK; it would be lovely to do so at some point and visit some of those places that influence me and my writing.

Diary of a wimpy vampire by Tim Collins

It is such a funny book and the fact it contains vampires is another reason why I love this book so much; also this book made my son into a reader, because before he saw me reading this book to myself and laughing my head off at it at every page turn, he absolutely hated reading!  But now I have to say, he tries to read a whole large novel once every month.

My vampires have some comedy interjected into the pages from time to time, but it is not deliberately set out to be a comedy series – I just can’t help myself.

Mr Stink by David Walliams

I like books where children change the minds of the adults around them as I have mentioned before and this book does that.  I love books which show the best qualities of humanity, generosity etc.  I also love stories that are riches to rags and back again to riches, I have loved themes like this since I was a kid.  I loved movies such as “The Jerk” with Steven Martin and “Life Stinks” with Mel Brookes amongst others and yes, it is a theme I would like to write someday too.  Once again, there is comedy here.

I will say, that as a child I read a lot, but it was mostly non-fiction and that a majority of the fantasy and stuff I indulged in were movies, I watched a movie every day, without fail, sometimes three times a day, because I was home educated and work fast in my studies and had a lot of spare time to myself, cooped up indoors all day long.  My father had a massive VHS collection over eight hundred which had two or three movies on each he recorded off the TV, so there were always a lot of things to watch!

The tin can band by Margaret Mahy

I love all the poems and songs in this book.  I love the artwork and everything about the book.  The art inspires my art a lot and the poetry knows how to touch several nerves too.  I love the concept of dancing in the shadows and having night time, shadow acrobats dancing around you, causing you to hallucinate and see things that aren’t quite what they seem when the lights are out. 

The poems contain witches and various other creatures, some with comedic ideas and others more serious in tone, such as deforestation and a lovely concept on death too.

I love authors that have a knack in making death less scary and more beautiful or at least more fun.

Wolf by Gillian Cross

I like books about the homeless and hippies and that sort of thing, this book contains squatters and a little girl who tries to live with her mother under extraordinary circumstances.  The child is rather independent and I just love the book, but I can’t say it has influenced anything in particular though.

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Top 10 fantasy books

Top 10 Fantasy Books that I enjoyed and that influenced me the greatest are;

Alice’s adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I have always been a big fan of the inane and very abstract.  To me this novel is enchanting to the most profound sense of the word.  I love how it shows us that entertainment and our imaginations do not have to make sense in order to inspire us to do great things and beauty and fantasy doesn’t have to have a defined set of rules. 

This book makes me feel liberated as a creator and much of what I write reflects just how much Carroll has influenced me as a whole, it shows you how to think outside of the box; which is a wonder really, because I have never really been considered by people who know me as someone who thinks outside of the box, regardless how innovative they also say I am! 

The wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum

Very similar to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this novel and the entire fourteen book series has also expressed to me how fantasy and the imagination comes with no rules, that in the throes of your own mind you can do anything – because only you are god to the worlds you are imagining, the only rules that exist are the ones you determine! 

You decided what makes sense or not in your world, but you have to make sense in those worlds and not have contradicting ideas that make the world come across as unbelievable.  It can be as silly as you want it to be, but there must be some kind of order and to me this novel and the previous one I mentioned does that excellently!

Gregor the overlander by Suzanne Collins

Comedy is a big part of my fantasy writing and to me there is a lot of that in this book as well as cute little moments and emotional rollercoasters galore!

This books shows that even the most disgusting things in life can be somewhat endearing if you choose to switch the way you think.  I mean I would never have felt compassion, sympathy and a sense of love for a cockroach for example, but this novel debunked that! 

The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Once again the comedy aspect is here and that I absolutely love – also it shows that every world needs to have traditions and stories within stories and a sense of belonging and festivities.  I love how there is a familiarity to our reality reflected within this book, our Christmas and their Hogswatch and I try to do this in most of my novels.  Each world has a different ideology, customs and holidays and I think this is the biggest thing I love about story writing!  I love creating absolutely new customs and cultures!  Especially when I have conflicting cultures in the stories, each trying to explain the reason behind the things that they do to each other.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

I love this book because it makes you as a writer think about consequences of the things you choose to do to your characters and it forces you think about being consistent in your actions which precede the characters problem because of it.  It makes for good reading because there is a problem the character wants to resolve – a disability if you like, to overcome.  Also, once again, there is a comedy element to the novel and there are strong female characters, something which is rare in fantasy I have noticed.

Troll Fell by Katherine Languish

I love place descriptions and descriptions of movement, this book does that well.  I love the landscape and flow of the novel and I love the traditional sense of fantasy too – the old style fantasy, based on old folklore.  This novel has Vikings as well as house elves (nisse) and trolls.  I love Scandinavian folklore a lot and that can be reflected in some of the stuff I write, even if the location is not recognisable as Nordic. 

Smoke and mirrors By Neil Gaiman

There are many little gems in this book, lots of lovely prose and I do love novels that have a prose like feel to it; most people find prose hard to digest, but I love it.  I think there is a huge snobbery against prose and I find that hard to understand.  I love “descriptive dribble” as some people call it and I often find it offensive listening to people who put down prose like works. 

A major part of my lack of writing in recent years is due to the snobbery from my readers who dislike the prose that often gets interjected into my stories.  I am not overly descriptive, but I do borderline poetic.

According to my previous beta readers, my work is too old fashioned – it is at best Edwardian in style but, usually Victorian and I have to bring myself more up to date; that is the usual complaint I have ever had as well as having too much of a broadsheet vocabulary.  They felt that my readers would be a niche and narrow in margin purely because a vast majority of readers have more of a tabloid vocabulary and I feel that is actually insulting to readers of the world!  I did allow these comments to dictate my style a lot for a while and it started to kill me as a creator somewhat. 

I love how Neil Gaiman seems to be older than he is in some of the works in this book, some of the stories look as though it has been around since Queen Victoria and I love that about him and this book!  A lot of my stories are based in the Victorian era which is one of the reasons why I could never understand the problem my beta readers had with it – am I to have modern day urban language at a 1850s lord of the manor’s dinner party?  My work is certainly not contemporary usually. 

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

I love the rawness of the novel.  I love how the horrific realities of life are imbedded within its pages; the girl doesn’t merely hunt the deer but straddles it and slices it to a perfect death for her and her fox’s food in the winter time.  Some might say that is overly descriptive and disturbing but life is disturbing anyway, so why shield from it?  It is good writing! 

I have been described by a home school tutor as being a very gory writer so perhaps I share in Ivey’s violent descriptions of life and the world?  Perhaps when I eventually approach the publishing agencies they may want to censor a lot of what I write, but I have seen many books which go beyond what even I think is acceptable, so they might leave me alone on that matter? 

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I can’t talk about this book to many people as they often reject it as being too awful and the subject matter really is!  However, they often overlook the beautiful prose and philosophy that is hidden in the pages which makes it an absolutely delightful read for me!   I love the aspect of the afterlife and how emotionally connected this novel gets to become with its readers.  It makes you feel what the characters feel. 

It is very intense and I can understand why many people cannot tolerate that, but if you can push through the horror of this book and concentrate on Susie’s afterlife you will find that it is incredibly lovely, it is incredibly beautiful the things she does in the “before heaven” as I call it.  I love the pages where the author gets lost within Susie’s playtime in the afterlife, that is my favourite, despite how weird and distasteful I found a couple of the subjects, such as experiencing a kiss whilst possessing her sisters body, that was too strange for me. 

I write a lot of books about the afterlife and ghosts, as well as vampires. 

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

I find it a fun all-rounder – there are comedy elements and basically a little bit of everything from above in the novel too, as well as being a traditional and classic version of epic fantasy.  I love the mix of creatures in this novel and there be dragons too, I love dragons, one of my top five favourite creatures to write about!

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Other hobbies

What do I do when I am not writing?

Quite a lot actually, because I don’t write much at all these days; I have lots of ideas for things to write but I think illness has made me lose focus and passion for it.  I was a lot more passionate about writing than I am nowadays.  It is simply because pain distracts me and makes me lose where I am heading – coughing fits and a severely runny nose are the biggest contributors for throwing me off course, yanking me out of the zone, as it were.  As I have said before in many posts, I live with a perpetual chronic cold, with ear, nose and throat infections thrown in.  It isn’t just a sniffle, I wish it were, but I can get through five hundred individual tissues on a bad day, two hundred being the norm for me.

Since the 21st December 2019 the only things I have written are what are on the blog and approximately 5000 words of non-posted works of other things, but nothing contributing to my novels.  Hand written notes of other ideas are not included in this, I am spending more and more time in bed these days as I can barely move.  All these problems are giving me severe insomnia and hypersomnia.  What do I mean by that?  Well I don’t sleep at night, I seem to sleep better during the day, for some reason my chest and sinus is worse at night.  When I do eventually sleep during the day I sleep between 7 and 16 hours in a stretch, to wake up for 2 hours in a choking fit with a dry crusted mouth.  Not a pretty visual I know.  I can go 30 to 40 hours without sleeping, purely because I am too busy clearing mucus from my system.

So it isn’t any wonder why I lack focus and concentration really.

Basically, everything I do when I am not writing, are things I can do at home, in the bedroom.  Primarily with my desktop computer, as I have recently had it moved to the bedroom due to the fact I am often too sick to get downstairs these days and I have moved my laptop downstairs for the rare occasion I am down there for more than an hour.  Because my legs swell a lot sitting at the computer desk, I can only sit here for an hour before I have to rest with legs up for thirty minutes, to get the swelling down, so even if I am on a roll, my ankles start burning and that throws me off course and I have to go and put my feet up.

I read approximately 30 to 80 pages of a book per day and about half a magazine too.  The types of things I read the most are fantasy, sci-fi and comedy fiction with a lot of non-fiction thrown in; the non-fiction I enjoy are self-help books, nutrition books, history books, theological research, mythology, folklore and cultural studies.  My current reading list is Time Song by Julia Blackburn, The Toll by Neal Shusterman and Roy Vickery’s folk flora. 

I do puzzles such as codebreakers, arrow words and gardening magazine crosswords – before my chest got too bad I used to love doing 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles, but it is frustrating having a coughing fit and losing pieces across the room all the time!

If I am not too busy fighting mucus, I get to knit, crochet, sew or practise my recorder and keyboard. 

I watch TV only if there are documentaries I am interested in, I mostly watch Smithsonian and BBC four with some Drama channel thrown in.  I will watch anything with Lucy Worsley, anything about the history of jazz, soul and classical music, nature and wildlife documentaries, documentaries about farming and country life.  I like science too, so I will watch sky at night and space science programs as well as things in the past such as time commanders, gladiators and the occasional wrestling show.  I love comedies, I only watch the comedies on the Drama Channel, but I am picky about which ones to watch.  I like only connect and some quiz and puzzle shows like Countdown, but I don’t watch them all the time.  I have to be in the mood to watch TV and before I was sick I watched around three hours of TV a week, these days it’s about two hours a day.  We never miss Michael McIntyre’s Big Show if we can help it, nor do we tend to like missing gardeners world or shows such as the RHS show, cruft’s and BBC Proms.  I’m pretty old fashioned I suppose for someone who is thirty seven.  I dislike soap operas and drama llama stuff – yes I mentioned the drama channel, but there are three hours a day where it is strictly comedy and I tend to only watch that channel (at the comedy times) or food network when there is nothing else on.  Sometimes I put on a DVD and I will often choose vampires or family animations and comedies. 

The main things I do these days are play games online.  I don’t even socialise that much online anymore, because I lose concentration and people who know me are starting to think I have memory problems.  Because a coughing fit will make me forget what I have said or what I was on about.

The online games that grip me are… Roblox, yes Henry got me onto it and to be honest, Roblox has saved my relationship with my son!  Because I find his kind of games hard to do since becoming sick – Roblox has opened a whole new world for us and we play hide and seek and various other games together.  When Henry is at school, I still sneak onto the site and play bee swarm simulator, Ripull mini games and fairy simulator.  Bee Swarm simulator especially!

Other online games I play are ovipets it is a cute breeding game on facebook and I have been addicted to that for nearly 5yrs. 

Flightrising is another breeding game, but I go in and out of phases with that.  Primarily I have played this for a whole eight months without a break, purely because Henry wants to see what dragons I breed and he loves to name them and do what we call “Dragon Lottery”.  Dragon Lottery is where I look through the offspring possibilities scrying menu to see what will happen if I pair certain dragons up, sometimes I can’t decide, so I make a list of all the best ones that go with my chosen female that day and I number them, then Henry, Paul and I will choose a number from the list and put it through random.org and sometimes someone gets the number right, in which case that person must get a treat of some kind or get to choose to do something; I breed five pairs of dragons every five days, because that is how long it takes for the eggs to hatch and we have a limit of five breeding nests on this game. 

I used to play online scrabble but I have got accused of cheating because I know too many unusual words.  I don’t cheat on that game, I don’t see what purpose that serves other than the joy of creating misery on another person who loses and I am not a vindictive person like that.  I really do have a broad vocabulary, though I rarely use it outside of scrabble and I love doing anagrams for fun, so I see a lot of seven letter words and I am a dictionary and language addict, so I know words that are weird to normal people.  Here is a list of words I know for high scoring on scrabble, which have got me accused of cheating when used previously – plus, I have read books written by scrabble champions.

ZEBU – QAT –  QUARE – SEQUIN – AWK – EUOI – AIA – QI – KIMCHI – VEX – VAV – TAV – EAU – UVEA – AEON – OXIDE – POXY – QIN – QINTAR – FATWA – QABALA – QADI – SJOE – KHAKI – EUOUAE to name but a few.  I have to admit I was shocked when SEQUIN was considered a questionable word, the others I can understand, but I was sure almost everyone knew what sequins were?

I love words and word play so much I have considered about having a word of the week thing, but I am unreliable with keeping to things like that, as you can clearly see from past efforts or lack of.

Other than sketching with pencils or sharpies in bed and/or colouring in and story planning, I don’t do much else on a bad day.  On a good day I can add about an hour of light gardening to the list but not much else anymore.

I’m pretty boring I suppose, by my peers.  I can’t even cuddle the rabbit lately because I cough too much it terrifies the poor thing!  I suppose I sound like some big barking bear or something to the poor creature.

I have gone out to the doctors and walked past dogs when I am like this and the dogs think I am barking at them, they react accordingly, it is embarrassing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The kelp dragons and the fairy coronation

In the land of the kelp dragons all mossy and green

The creatures are preparing a coronation for a new fairy queen

Her dress is green felt embroidered with ferns and her crown is gold apricots that won’t spoil or turn

She rides to the scene with an elegant mare, that’s decorated with blueberries, apples and pears

The dragons sit around protecting the queen

Nothing can harm them, they are too supreme

The fairies all gather around in the fen

As the dragons give their blessings to the queen and them

Before the dawn comes all have fun at the ball

The royal procession is fun time for all

Before the sunrises, the queen kisses goodbye, to all the kelp dragons and tries not to cry

Because she won’t ever see them again, as they only come to fairies if its coronation time again

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