Halfway

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!

kelpie-1

So Many Directions

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!

Aeonghus Dubh

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.

 

Faeries and History

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.

painting01Though 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.

Selkiefixed

There will be more points of history such as this as Aeonghus Dubh unfolds. 

Stay tuned.

Rural Development and Faeries

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 trail

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 trail  
The 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’.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2527939/Judge-halts-Icelandic-road-project-court-decide-detrimental-impact-local-elves.html#ixzz2rT3gziwf

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.

Where to Go From Here

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.

HMS_Constance_(1846)

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.

  

The Cardinal of Gleann Ceallach

My National Novel Writing Month project, The Cardinal of Gleann Ceallch, has finished its first draft and initial edit. Now it’s off for the first real edit.

Seventeen year old jawan soldier of the United Nations Off-World Legion, Alexander ‘Sikunder’ Armstrong, arrives with a herd of highland cattle and a gang of adolescent rustlers at the new Legion fort of Sommerkveld Castrum and finds himself the unwilling participant in a growing feud between the broken men of the Cheung and illegal settlers of Gleann Ceallach. As the dispute intensifies and the Off-World Legion and Samsāra Constabulary are dragged into an expanding conflict involving Gliesiun refugees including a particularly brutish clan  called the Et’moru, Sikunder comes under the care of the fighting Nuns of Saint Brigid and their mercurial Mother Superior, whom the wags of the colony have called, The Cardinal of Gleann Ceallach. The lives of thousands are at stake as a final stand is made by the nuns and the Legion in the Monastery of Saint Brigid in a tiny remote valley 20 light years from Earth on the colony of Samsāra.

Fight this day the battle of the Lord with thy legions of holy Angels, even as of old, thou didst fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud spirits and all his rebel Angels, who were powerless to stand against thee!

Cardinal V1.0

Remiss Again

Yes, it’s true. A perusal of my blogging and social media reveals the depths of my failing – or the partial failing, of my marketing campaign. I make efforts not to hammer myself too hard, for I had one of my better months of sales in December – not John Grisham numbers mind, and I won’t be signing off on the day job any time soon, but a double digit month is a big one for me, and I was rather pleased in the end. Being elbows deep in editing, I haven’t played too much on social media nor paid much attention to my marketing strategy. I’ve played a bit on Twitter and I’ve put a bit of effort into Tumblr (which I confess to like more than Twitter) but I’m not quite there yet. Linked In numbers are huge and Goodreads is by far my untouched potential (my New Year’s goal is to focus on that line of attack).

My ongoing edit of The Cardinal of Gleann Ceallach is coming to an end, and then I will be joyfully handing it off to my editor.

The next project is combining my three novellas; The Scarlet Bastards, Fremantle Freya and Tongs, Tartan and Tin Pot Battleships into one novel – The Scarlet Bastards – so that I can work on a paperback version.

Apologies for the short note, but my aim is to increase blog traffic this year.

 

Offline For A Month – But For Good Reason

So, my blog has been conspicuously quiet, and not just this particular part of my social media network. My tumblr blog is silent, Twitter only has a few tweets, and my Author Facebook page is mostly made up of shares. Yes, it’s been a quiet November, but you may ask…..why? Well…

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

Yes, my second year of attempting the National Novel Writing Month challenge saw success, unlike last year where I didn’t even crack 10,000. For those unfamiliar with the NaNoWriMo challenge, one has 30 days to produce a 50,000 novel. I will admit that it came down to the wire for me (finished on the 29th), however, I was pleased with the very rough draft and plan on spending the winter in rewrites and edits for a spring release date.

The project is called, The Cardinal of Gleann Ceallach, it is the fourth book in a series of short story anthologies collectively called, The Scarlet Bastards. What makes this fourth book unique is that it is neither an anthology nor a novella (the third book, Tongs, Tartan and Tin Pot Battleships was a novel but still an anthology of short stories) This is my first full length novel with this series and it is a bridge to the next full length novel that I’ve been working on currently labeled, Samsara.

The plot of The Cardinal of Gleann Ceallach follows on to the end of Tongs, Tartan and Tin Pot Battleships which sees the protagonist, Alexander ‘Sikunder’ Armstrong, a 17 year old runaway from his home in Naramata, British Columbia who has joined the United Nations Off-World Legion, arrive in the fishing town of Agarum on the Seleucus Lacus in the colony of Samsara. Located some 20 light years from Earth, the colony is the dumping ground of UN refugees, roughnecks, criminals and the adventurous poor and downtrodden from Earth, and thousands of Gliesiuns from the world of Gliesium in orbit around Gliese 581. His decuria – some 50 or more jawan soldiers – are posted to a new castrum (fort) in the Aebbas Saltus, a UN settlement that has grown too rough to handle by the small force of Samsara Constables. Sikunder is quickly involved in a minor skirmish with a local band of broekn criminals called the Cheung; a skirmish that the UN was unwilling to initiate. For his pains of unwilling involvement, Sikunder is sent out the following day on an uncomfortable winter patrol with a column of 50 constables and hired guns to the village of Svarga and back. It should have been a cold, uncomfortable yet safe mission, yet hours into, the column is decimated by a band of Glisieun refugees from the Athand’u clan. Sikunder survives the slaughter and wakes up in a nearby monastery under the ministrations of Sister Mary Coulthard, called the Cardinal of Gleann Ceallach by the local wags. She leads over 100 nuns – mostly broken women she has collected from slavery, prostitution and poverty whom she ministers then sends out into the colony to help the needy. They are not your everyday nuns, however, for the help they can offer is often violent, and they are a well armed force for good in a valley that is pregnant with evil.

In the days that follow the massacre, some of Sikunder’s decuria arrive to investigate the scene and retrieve him. The weather closes in, however, and the Legion soon learns that Athand’u were put up to the massacre by a dreaded clan of Gliesiuns that were thought to be well south and hundreds of kilometers away. The Et’moru clan are a truly evil collection of creatures looking to establish a homeland in Gleann Ceallach and disposing of first the constabulary then followed by the Athand’u themselves is the beginning of their Machiavellian plan. Leaving only the monastery and its force of nuns, the jawans of the Legion under the leadership of its towering and colourful leader, Subedar Angus Motshwega, a Scottish raised Capetown Zulu affectionately called, MacShaka the Tartan Zulu, decided that they will stand with the nuns and against the orders of the UN who are uninterested in a fight under lands they are not responsible for.

Sikunder digs deep to find his courage, and in the end, stands with the Cardinal in the final attack by the Et’moru.

Nana Armstrong had died seven months before I fled Earth. She’d had a stroke and lay in the baking sun in beneath her apple trees for a couple of days before succumbing. It had been an horrible death, I thought, lying there alone with the knowledge that death was coming – maybe not fast enough, but coming. I looked down upon Coulthard, tight lipped and focused, yet afraid; so very afraid. She was surrounded by her nuns, but for a moment, I could see that was very along.

“No one should die alone,” I heard myself say as I stalked over to the stairs and went down. I ignored the shouts of Usman as I rushed through the common room and out into the courtyard. I found myself standing before Coulthard who seemed oblivious until she seemed to catch sight of me from the corner of her eye.

“What are you doing here, jawan?” she asked as she returned her gaze upon the gate. The shrieks of the Et’moru had begun. They were coming.

“I’m here to fight,” I said as I took a place beside her. I pulled my pistol out, powered it up, heard the ‘snick’ as a round was chambered, then placed it back in its holster. I loosened my Khyber knife and hatchet, planted my feet and tapped the button on the side of my rifle that released the 30 centimetre serrated bayonet.

“You should be with your own kind, jawan,” she said through clenched teeth.

“I am,” I replied.

“Nonsense,” she replied, though with less asperity.

“Sacrifice,” I replied. “You said to not question it. Generosity and sacrifice do not exist, you said, if no one benefits from it.”

A small wintry smile crossed her lips. “Jawan, you have bested me.”

The constables suddenly opened fire through the holes in the gate and I brought my rifle to the ready. “They come,” Coulthard cried. “Glorious Archangel St. Michael, by thy protection, enable my soul to be so enriched by grace as to be worthy to be presented by thee to Jesus Christ, my Judge, at the hour of my death!” she cried. A few of the nuns around us were weeping but Coutlhard’s voice drowned their fear away. “As thou hast conquered Satan and expelled him from Heaven, conquer him again, and drive him far away from me at the hour of my death.

The gates shuddered beneath a mighty blow, and this time they bowed inwards while the six constables pushed back.

“Be ready!” she roared.

Author Interview – Justin Bienvenue

Introducing author, Justin Bienvenue.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself. Included where you were born, childhood influences and more modern muses that coax/pummel the inner writer out of you.

My name is Justin Bienvenue. I was born in a town a little below Boston, Massachusetts. I am a friendly and outgoing person outside of my writing. When writing I am creative and hardworking, although they can all come together at times making me the best person I can be. When I am not writing I am usually watching sports or wishing I could play them. Big football fan and baseball fan and always looking for something fun to do when not writing. I didn’t read much as a child as I wasn’t a big reader and I’m still not oddly enough however I did read Goosebump books so I would say R.L Stine was a childhood influence for sure. I always enjoyed reading his books as they were fun, entertaining and scary. While I do write poetry and add zany type humor contrary to popular belief I was not influenced by Dr.Suess. I take what I see and hear around me and try to spin it into a poem or short story. I usually try to take what I see and hear around me as well as watch shows and movies that inspire me enough to want to create something of my own.

2. What is your preferred genre and what is it that has inspired you to work in it?

My two preferred genres are poetry and horror. I am very much into reading and writing poetry and I write about all types of topics when writing it. When I’m not writing poetry I am usually writing short stories that involve the horror genre. I was inspired to write poetry after writing it in high school one day as I was sitting there bored. After that I just enjoyed it so much that I began writing it more and more. My horror side was inspired by watching lots of horror movies and shows. I enjoy watching old episodes of The Twilight Zone and that always gets me in a horror/strange bizarre type of writing mode.

While I enjoy writing horror I consider it my preferred genre at times but not always. Although horror is always good to turn to because it has a large fanbase and people really dig the scary and creepy. I would say poetry is my preferred genre and I am always getting inspired and when I do I usually turn that inspiration into a poem for all to enjoy.

3. Tell us about one of your books – start with the opening sentence, then pitch it, and end with some insight as to what has motivated you to write it – i.e. themes, characters etc.

“Deadtown, Tumbleweed City a.k.a Toomswood, Alabama or the laziest place on the Mississippi, whichever you prefer since it’s on the bored of both.” This is the first sentence in my second book, “A Bloody Bloody Mess In The Wild Wild West. It’s a story about a town recovering from the effects of the Civil War five years later. To make matters worse a Mexican outlaw makes his way into town and tries to takeover. He tells the town they are sitting on oil and that he can make them prosperous. However he soon shows his true colors and the town realizes his true agenda and must stop him.

A Bloody Bloody Mess In The Wild Wild West is sinister, wicked and original. Rich and colorful characters with clear motives and agendas but also strangers with a shifty and suspicious demeanor. A gritty, grim and gruesome tale of steady paced wild west horror with dark imagery soaked in carnage. If you like your characters a shot away from death or walking corpses fresh out of the graveyard then check out A Bloody Bloody Mess In The Wild Wild West.

I was motivated to write this book after watching one too many horror movies. To top it off I also saw a few Clint Eastwood movies and then it hit me, why not write a Western horror. I myself enjoy a good Western, feel their underrated and wanted to write something unique that not too many people write about. The catchy title came to me one day and then I sat down and began writing it and there was no turning back. My thoughts poured onto the page as fast as a cowboy who has a quick draw and it helped a lot having inspiration come from two different genres. The setting is one many can appreciate as it’s set in a good ole fashioned Western town with all things that make it so. My two main characters Emerson Shaw and Javier “Bones” Jones are total polar opposites but they feed off each other and make each other better. Readers will definitely be intrigued to find themselves torn between who to root for.

4. What’s the next project and what is your writing process to produce it?

My next project is another book of poetry called, “Like A Box of Chocolates” It will contain poems about all different kinds of genres. I’ve been in the process of writing it for a few months now. Just needs some touching up, a few fixes here and there and then of course the editing and formatting process. It’s expected release will be around the beginning of next year.

5. Marketing, marketing, marketing – what is your strategy here to ensure that this becomes your day job?

Well this has become my every day job and I have a very simple strategy, a little promoting and marketing everyday. However I have had computer issues that have prevented me from doing this. When I am able to get on and do some work I find that marketing a little bit each day to be very productive. I write down what I want to do, what I want to say and sometimes who I want to reach. After I do that I get to work and see how much I can get down, if I can’t I make another note of it and try the next day. It can get a bit frustrating at times but I know if I just set my own goal, pace and have patience then I am confident that my strategy will work.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=A+Bloody+Bloody+Mess+In+The+Wild+Wild+West

CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/4241547

http://jbienvenue.webs.com/
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  • Book Launch – The Cardinal of Gleann Ceallach

    The Big DaySeptember 1st, 2014
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  • about.me

    Sean MacUisdin

    Sean MacUisdin

    Sean Pól MacÚisdin grew up in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, enjoying the outdoors and the simple life before choosing a career in the Royal Canadian Navy. Although he saw many countries during his career, it is the fjords and bays of the coast of British Columbia that inspire him most with their rugged beauty and awesome sense of isolation. Although his writing career was slowed by his time at sea and raising a family, it has renewed itself in the world of the ebook.

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