I can see that it has been quite some time since my last entry – an inexcusable lag in my blogging presence due to life, work, and all other things intruding. Of note from my author work, was my participation and completion of the National Novel Writing Month challange – this year’s project was: The Scarlet Bastards – Bone Witch, which had the first draft successfully completed. Of course it needs much work, and it will simmer on the backburner of my mind for the next month or two. Catching up also means catching up on my current books and converting them over to print on demand. So far it is only Europa Rising, but in the next month I’ll have converted Jupiter Rising and The Scarlet Bastards: The Company Soldier over as well. As for publishing, a new ebook is out, last years NaNo project: The Scarlet Bastards: The Cardinal of Gleann Ceallach. The holidays will see a push on marketing my other series which is not doing quite so well.
Posted by Sean MacUisdin on December 20, 2014
I’m rarely hesitant to admit the truth when it comes to my ability to market myself; I am a writer, not a marketer. This summer, I am deep in my first non-science fiction project, an urban fantasy set on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island, so my focus these days is on anything but marketing (Add to that the weather is lovely and I have a canoe, backyard and dog all beckoning for my undivided attention) Sometimes, marketing opportunities literally sit down in front of you over a glass of pinot grigio and announce themselves, and one buys into them with all of the thoughtless zeal of a hot dog contest participant. This particular opportunity came from my wife, an award-winning artist, who thought a collaboration between ourselves – my writing and her art, would be a grand idea. I did so as well, and like renovations, trip planning and changing flat tires, it had its trying moments… very trying indeed for two very stubborn and opinionated artists.
The collaboration is complete, her works are up in a show at a local art gallery, garnering no end of quizzical looks and my imagined questions: “So, the mammoth in the painting, why?” or “Is that soldier playing golf?” or “Is he throwing up?”
So, I plan to deliver the series of works with commentary on this blog, beginning with, Tin Pot Battleships.
My wife was quite keen to capture the battle of Coloe Vallis where a mixed force of United Nations Off-World Legion jawan soldiers, Pavonis Constables and a hundred or so Neo Celts, also known as the Feradadh Boys, attacked the Tong Fort located there in retribution for the earlier murder of a pair of jawan soldiers. She was interested in the paddlewheelers, wondering at how they were laid out, requesting imagery, and generally wondering what a recoilless rifle was. As with any question posed to me in 2014, I quickly directed her to Google, but she has the tenacity of a terrier when she has questions, and she would not be swayed. So we sat down while I pulled up images of British Columbian paddlewheelers from the 1890s, a picture of a recoilless rifle, and laid out my own imaginings of the climax of the amphibious assault with recoilless rifles blazing away. It was exciting stuff, mind, my descriptions of the explosion,s the fires, the licking flames, the horrific damage, and the inexorable assault as the three paddlewheelers punched through hell to get to the beach. The enthusiasm I held faded slightly as my wife sat unmoved, then proceeded to lay out her ‘impressions.’ My wife is an impressionist, I might add, whereas I am a zealot for realism; that should have been the greatest warning to me of the storms that would come. Her impressions were indeed impressions, and contained little of the, or maybe it was ‘my’, emotion of the events. She laid out her thoughts and I balked; she mused over the imagery and I was horrified; and she considered the sentiments and I nearly cried. Although it lacked the volume of our other discussions – more on that in another post – we did come to a somewhat amiable conclusion with the imagery she ultimately chose.
We pointed our bow towards the beach and fired the recoilless rifle and the heavy machine guns. The battered Zhuanyun and the burningBelladonna did the same, but as we were in far better condition, we easily outpaced them. I kept low as we closed the beach for we again came under withering small arms fire. Lukinaos continued to blast the Black Hand defences causing great smoking rents in the fascines and Hesco while the streams of 50 calibre tracers punched deeply and ricocheted in a wondrous fireworks show. We closed the last 100 meters and entered a hailstorm of lead as the Black Hand focused everything upon us. I cowered quivering in terror at the thought of having to raise myself from my meagre protection and leave the ship for the open beach and its almost certain death. Yet that was my task, and as MacShaka crouched amongst us shouting encouraging words that I no longer remember, I gritted my teeth, closed my eyes and willed myself to work up the nerve.
I must admit that I was emboldened as the small arms fire began to fade, for the efforts of those three little tin pot battleships was enough to turn the Black Hand defences into a hellish mess. The fascines were nothing more than a low, smoking, splintered ruin; both of the towers had collapsed into burning messes; and the Black Hand recoilless rifles were silent.
In the diminishing din with less than 50 meters to go, MacShaka roared, “Steady lads, be ready tae gae!”
With Thoe steering and the Naimaidan Regina making best speed, we closed that beach with a rapidity that must have been daunting to the defenders. Then with a suddenness that belied my preparedness, there was a crunching sound and the bow rose as the paddlewheel drove the ship up onto the rocky beach.
“Now, lads! At ‘em!” MacShaka screamed. The jawans and Neo Celts on the foc’sle leaped over the bulwark to drop to the beach while those within the ship piled out of the cargo doors into a meter of water. While the paddlewheel continued to thrash and push the ship up farther, the heavy machine guns and recoilless rifle peppered the defences 30 meters away with an appalling destruction that showered the charging troops with splinters.
As you can imagine, I was not keen to move. I was well holed up in the bow with Usman, but MacShaka wasn’t having any of it. “Sikunder!” he thundered as he grasped me by the collar, “move yer fucking keelie ass!” With Usman in tow he manoeuvred me to the bulwark, picked me up with that latent strength of the Hyperion that dwelt within him, and tossed me over the side. I landed in a few centimetres of water on top of my backpack – which likely saved me a broken back – then rolled over and squirmed towards a rock that just barely protected my head. Usman pushed in beside me, and we had a wicked argument over who should get the rock and who should go find their own.
Around us, bullets chipped off rocks and fanned the air, bowling the jawans and Neo Celts over like skittles. They lay fallen, their cries rising into a chorus of soul wrenching shrieks that had me sobbing and cowering while above us Lukianos continued firing the recoilless rifle. The detonations from each hit were now so close that they reverberated through my body and sent waves of splinters around us. I shrieked my hatred towards the mercurial old Greek, but he couldn’t hear me. The sound, that terrible blasting bedlam that drowned out everything, the sound that pounded my skull beneath that horrific discord of death and destruction was too complete. Nothing could penetrate it.
Or so I thought.
As I sought to bury myself deep in the cold granite stones of the beach, a new sound entered my consciousness – the deep drone and screeling cries of the pipes. Yes, the pipers had struck up their tune again; standing in the water on each side of the groundedNaimaidan Regina they brayed Johnny Cope as the Zhuanyunand the Belladonna pushed on the beach on either side of us. Suddenly, scores of newly arrived jawans entered the fray, and the focus on our group wavered. We weren’t in the clear by a long chalk, but by God it was no longer raining lead.
“Cope sent a challenge frae Dunbar:
‘Charlie, meet me an’ ye daur,
An’ I’ll learn you the art o’ war
If you’ll meet me i’ the morning.’”
Posted by Sean MacUisdin on July 28, 2014
Somehow, and without any real planning, I found myself hitting the halfway mark on my urban fantasy project. A few words here, a paragraph there and suddenly I have reached a point in my story that seemed quite distant when I first started this journey so many months ago. Though I’d always wanted to delve into a fantasy project, I’d stuck with scifi, with some success, and left the fantasy side of my imagination well back on a burner rendered near invisible. When I decided upon my fantasy project, it was first as a National Novel Writing Month endeavor that fizzled fairly quickly due to a lack of proper planning. So I put it off for a few months, ruminated a bit more on the characters, tone and plot, and then suddenly, progress! Characters and background began to fill out, the plot solidified and now, halfway.
I had been pushing myself to begin the third book of my Gleisium Chronicles, but that’s stalled somewhat as my mind is whirling with the directions and tangents of my urban fantasy. So, here I am once again changing tack and going back to this project. I am to finish it this summer, writer’s block be damned!
Posted by Sean MacUisdin on May 20, 2014
For some reason, my writing has been aimless of late. If I was brutally honest, I’d go back as far as the National Novel Writing Month competition where I successfully wrote my next novel from The Scarlet Bastard series of dystopian scifi adventures. After that, I took a pause over Christmas, only doing a bit of light editing. Come January, I resumed working on my urban fantasy, Aeonghus Dubh, where I made a bit of progress. At the same time, I decided to combine my novellas into an anthology so I could prepare it for print. All of these little projects pulled me this way and that, and although I now have the anthology out there, I was sorry to say my urban fantasy project only chugs along slowly. It’s of course a new genre for me and it’s proven to be a bit of a challenge, however, I was persevering until I began to see my sales suggesting I need to change tack. Over the last couple of months I’ve seen my sales go up for my military scifi series that began with Europa Rising and was followed up by Jupiter Rising. In fact, sales were doing so well (relatively speaking) that it strongly suggested I may need to move on the next book in the series, Titan Rising.
I really want to progress my urban fantasy, however, it seems that military scifi is drawing me back and Titan Rising has to be written. So, I will putter on that urban fantasy in the background as I focus on the next book, Titan Rising.
Meanwhile, my next book in my, The Scarlet Bastards series will go to my editor shortly. The Cardinal of Gleann Ceallach is coming soon!
Posted by Sean MacUisdin on April 8, 2014
I thought I’d drop a few snippets of my urban fantasy, Aeonghus Dubh, a work thoroughly in progress. These are draft pieces, so ignore any of the outward signs of requiring an edit. That part comes soon enough.
The guilt suddenly overwhelmed her like a deluge; there was an indescribably feeling that she had somehow caused this. She placed her face in her hands and wept. What could she do? Why was she enduring this? For several minutes she cried softly, then she raised her face and wiped her eyes and nose with her sleeve.
It was then she noticed the bottle of pills on the table.
Picking up the container, Jennifer sniffed then looked at the name on the container; Oxycotin. She wasn’t sure where her mother got them; she rarely ever went to a doctor, but she knew they were powerful – a drug that lulled her mother into deep unconsciousness even without the addition of alcohol. She opened the cap and noted it was half-full. There was no directions on how many to take, but she knew her mother never took more than one, and she was an adult. Jennifer tipped the container, and four pills rolled into her hand.
That would do, she thought.
Pocketing the pills, Jennifer moved to the table with the telephone and pulled a notepad and pen from the drawer. She wrote her mother a note – she would stay the night at Karen’s, an acquaintance of sorts that her mother had met once. She would be gone the day but would be home for supper.
It would buy her time.
Jennifer pulled on her jacket to fight the growing chill of the evening. As she grasped the door handle, she looked for one last time around the darkened house. The sounds from her mother’s room had stopped and she had likely passed out. Now silence reined – a deadness of sound that matched the deadness of emotion that gripped her home.
“Good bye,” she whispered.
Posted by Sean MacUisdin on March 25, 2014
As I progress my urban fantasy, Aeonghus Dubh, a tale of the meeting of young Jennifer MacGregor and a Scottish Gille Dubh faerie named Aeonghus on a rocky hillside in Victoria, British Columbia, I find myself trying to incorporate local history and folklore as much as I can into the story. It’s a fantasy of course, but being a student of history, there is a certain romantic attraction to the idea of mixing in local history into the experiences of a transplanted Scottish faerie who fled the old world for the new.
Certainly one such incident, the loss of the merchant ship, Tonquin, in the summer of 1811, is one I’m planning to add.
Though said to have been attacked by local natives in Clayoquat Sound and eventually blown up by one of the few surviving crew members, Aeonghus Dubh contains the obscure local legend that natives were held back from their attack so that a horrible group of mysterious creatures, seals that could transform into humans, could attack it instead to rescue one of their own. Though history gives natives the credit, it was these mysterious creatures that brought about the true demise of the ship and crew.
There will be more points of history such as this as Aeonghus Dubh unfolds.
Posted by Sean MacUisdin on February 23, 2014
Iceland halts road scheme because it might have disturb the ELVES
In this land of fire and ice, where the fog-shrouded lava fields offer a spooky landscape in which anything might lurk, stories abound of the ‘hidden folk’ – thousands of elves, making their homes in Iceland’s wilderness. So perhaps it was only a matter of time before 21st-century elves got political representation. Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project building a direct route from the tip of the Alftanes peninsula, where the president has a home, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer. They fear disturbing elf habitat and claim the area is particularly important because it contains an elf church.Land of mystery: A highway connecting Gardabaer in Reykjavik to the Alftanes Peninsula in Iceland has been put on hold because of protests about the environmental and cultural impact – including affect it could have on local elves. Pictured is one of the few huts along the Laugavegur trailThe project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on a case brought by a group known as Friends of Lava, who cite both the environmental and the cultural impact – including the impact on elves – of the road project. The group has regularly brought hundreds of people out to block the bulldozers. And it’s not the first time issues about ‘Huldufolk’, Icelandic for ‘hidden folk’, have affected planning decisions. They occur so often that the road and coastal administration has come up with a stock media response for elf inquiries, which states in part that ‘issues have been settled by delaying the construction project at a certain point while the elves living there have supposedly moved on’.
I’m not sure what I find so appealing about this story, beyond the obvious that there are still people, even at the level of government, that are will to make public policy decisions based upon perceptions of folklore. Of course, there would be those who would find comparisons of this type of policy decision with more dangerous policy decisions based upon religious ideology – specifically in the treatment of women and gays, but I’ll choose to move past that and embrace the simple fact that in Iceland, there are those who still believe in faeries.
I recall a similar story coming out of Ireland a few years back that focused on a development and a single faerie tree – a hawthorn or some such thing if I recall correctly. I don’t remember how it turned out, but I do remember the fascination I had of it at the time – that people would make economic decisions based upon their belief in the paranormal. As North Americans, the concept of belief in the ‘wee folk’ is mostly foreign, with our European ancestors leaving that mostly behind in the old world. A cursory examination of the internet finds little to suggest the belief in faeries is anything but mostly dead here, though one can find tantalizing suggestions that there was some belief that immigration of the faeries was thought to have taken place to a small extent. Beyond that, there is a curious concept f ‘wee folk’ found in many Native North American traditions that pre dates European arrival, though it doesn’t seem to have translated well to the newcomers. I find that odd, because newly arrived Europeans grasped onto the ‘monster’ of North America and have maintained that traditional folklore quite well. Bigfoot, Ogopogo, and the Manitou along with many others began as Native North American lore that have since caught on and now have a following among the modern inhabitants with many admitting full belief of these creatures.
Not that I think they would reroute roads or cease development, but it’s the thought that counts.
I dwell upon this because I am working on my first urban fantasy which figures on a central character that immigrated from the Old World – a Ghille Dubh or wood faerie from Scotland – who sailed into the New World in 1848 aboard HMS Constance and found a home near the tiny settlement of Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island.
The fact that we can still find some solace in the beliefs of the old world and appreciate that our modern selves do not know everything is a comfort to me for some odd reason.
I like a bit of mystery, I guess.
Posted by Sean MacUisdin on January 29, 2014
So, as I bathe in the afterglow of handing off a novel project to my editor (whom has promptly wrestled me back into reality with the commentary that she could certainly tell my National Novel Writing Month challenge project was indeed written in 30 days) I now ponder in which direction to go. At this creative crossroads are two journeys – to the left I move towards the third novel in my military scifi series, Titan Rising, in which I have the first chapter well underway. To my right is a far different branch – an urban fantasy – and one which takes me well away from the hard military scifi I have been writing these past several books. I feel inclined and somewhat responsible to move on with the third book of that trilogy in order to draw it to a close, however, I must admit to being sorely tempted to take that right hand path and proceed with something quite new. As much as I have some fantasy projects rolling around in the dark pats of my mind, this one in particular has been at the forefront and absolutely bursting to come out – at times, mind. There are times when it remains stubborn in its effort to stay a mere dream. Urban fantasy is a genre I’ve been intrigued with, and creating the story in my hometown with the applicable level of history to flesh out the bones has been a fun exercise so far.
I was actually working on it today, some reading of what I had so far as well as a little light writing and editing, and I was finding myself drawn to it. That story simply needs to be told, and I lean a little more towards it each time I ponder what path to take. Not to say, of course, that I can’t work on both of course (I usually have a project or two on the go to compensate getting stuck on one) but I have been deliberately putting this urban fantasy off for now.
So, I think I will put a bit of elbow grease into Aeonghus Dubh and see what comes of it.
Posted by Sean MacUisdin on January 19, 2014