• Writing

    Poem: This is Fine

    When you drop everything you are carrying
    it seems to happen all at once,
    a sudden slide to a disastrous fall,
    broken things and mess

    In reality it’s been sliding all along
    & you just missed all the signs

    You hold onto everything you own
    your heart, your dreams
    Not knowing that you
    are like the dog in the meme

    You drink your coffee, as you do every morning
    while everything burns

    This is fine, you say
    This is fine
    Not seeing the flames as it all burns around you

    This is fine

  • Writing

    The Art of Personal Writing

    I’ve had this blog, in one form or another going back to the days of my Greymatter-powered blog, since very early 2002. I remember that because I started it before I got married and moved to the UK as a way of documenting everything both confusing and wonderful along the way. I used to write in it religiously, sometimes several posts a day, and now a month can go by before I post anything. It’s the curse of our times, our communication becomes constant and shallow, updates rather than deep thoughts.

    I know, I sound like an old fart. I am, I admit it…and get offa my goddamned lawn.

    Anyway, one of the things that I loved, especially since I discovered MMOs with the advent of Vanilla Warcraft, was gaming blogs. Raiding was hard, gearscore and min-maxing didn’t exist yet (at least in the sense that it does now) and every bit of advice or help or commiseration was appreciated. We shared a love of something wonderful, of challenges overcome with a team of likeminded folks in fantastically faraway lands. I miss those days.

    If you do as well, or if you’ve never tried your hand at blogging before, Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut has a wonderful thing in August. Learn more here.

  • Writing

    The Clockwork Courts: Steampunk Tales

    The Clockwork Bluebird

    Maia and her brother Tyler find themselves in the midst of a war between the Faerie Courts on Christmas Eve. Accompanied by a talking dog, a clockwork kitchen servant and Fox the stable boy, they embark on a quest to save their lost parents and find the Bluebird.

    The palace of Night and the Land of the Dead. Skyships. The Goblin Market. A black wolf and the Huntsman who pursues him. A gang of clockwork-enhanced children living in the lost Underground tunnels under the city.

    This is The Children’s Bluebird as you’ve never imagined it.

    Buy now on: Amazon US – Amazon UK


    Coming Soon:


  • Personal,  Writing

    Lists and Terror

    I’m a great list maker and planner. As you can see from my previous New Years Eve resolutions, however, I’m not always a successful completer of lists. Nevertheless (refusing to learn from past failures) I now have a list of projects that I want to work on as time opens up prior to the end of the year:

    1: Art. New Styles. New Skillz.

    As a book cover artist I get a bit tired of doing the same type of covers, and I’m sure that readers must get tired of seeing the same types of covers over and over again. This has led to some of the stress over the past year and dissatisfaction with work. I know authors, with everything riding on the success or failure of a new book, want something that they know readers in the past have liked. I know that, and I do understand it…but each time I get a brief for an urban fantasy cover that needs a tough-but-beautiful heroine with great hair wearing leather and jeans, standing in an urban landscape with magic effects on her hands or on her weapon of choice I feel tired. That’s not to say that I don’t love the hell out of that type of book, I really do love me a kickass female hero. And yet…I think we can all do something a bit different.

    Part of the problem is stock. Most commercial stock images are outtakes from fashion or advertising shoots, modelling portfolio shots and so on. The models are pretty, but there are a lot of “model-y” poses (as one would expect). Action shots are really, really difficult to find and it’s even more difficult to find ones that haven’t already been used since everyone else is looking for those as well.

    Now, lacking the finances to set up a studio again and shoot my own models, I’ve been looking at CGI models for bodies and costume. I’ve used a lot of these in the past, and when paired with a real model’s face and hair it’s difficult to tell that they were digital, especially when overpainted. This is one option for more interesting model shots with more life and action to them. Acquiring the 3D modelling skills needed to create the figures, skin them, and light them properly is a bit more difficult, more of a high learning curve.

    So, that’s one thing.

    2: Writing = Panic Mode.

    For several years now I’ve been trying to clear the spare time to do some writing. The Clockwork Bluebird, my first project, needs re-working with a new ending and I have the sequel partially written. I have other projects (very different ones!) also pulling at me for attention. I am, I GODDAMN AM, going to devote some time to these so that I can get enough momentum going in order to not fall by the wayside in despair after I go back to work after the holidays. I’ll probably never be a great writer, maybe not even a good and professional one…but I think I could not embarrass myself. I want the chance to try, anyway. I want to tell these stories as best as I can.

    1. The Tatterdemalion Dancer. Clockpunk-fantasy sequel, underground carnival which is also a war between the Fae courts. A Goose Girl/Red Shoes mashup. :D
    2. A twisted Alice tale of madness: Suckerpunch meets Alice in Wonderland.
    3. My pooka story.

    That shit is hella scary.

    3. The Rest.

    Other projects include work on the various cosplay outfits that I have littering the front room, which I’ve turned into a workroom. I want to put more time into my photography (and as a side note be able to use more of my own shots rather than having to buy so much stock!).

    So…yeah. The list. Lists are terrifying.


    Postscript: A video which captures The Tatterdemalion Dancer perfectly. <3

    LE CIRQUE FEERIQUE Reel from Company XIV on Vimeo.

  • Writing

    NaNoWriMo On! Off. On…

    Writer's BlockI had a project that I was really excited about doing for NaNoWriMo. I’ve been working nights and weekends, trying to clear the breathing room to do it. I’ve been researching and planning like crazy.

    And then…I realised that the idea, although something that I was incredibly excited about, was something that was going to need a lot more planning and outlining and beating the plot into shape. I wasn’t ready.

    So, yesterday (the day before the bloody thing starts!) I decided to go back to an older project that I at least had a plot outline for. Now, this is a project that I’d done a lot of work on and then somehow allowed two years to lapse without working on it. It also has a very complicated plot, interweaving and twisting an handful of fairytales together into a new story. I have pages and pages of plot points and timelines and character studies and a Scrivener project set up with empty chapters and scenes with intriguing captions like “Maia is betrayed” and “King of the Cats.” Interesting…except I have absolutely no idea what I intended to do there.


  • Personal,  Writing

    My Life As A Ghost

    A few days ago I was getting ready to take a bath. It was afternoon, actually, as mornings in a drafty English house are too cold for me – I’m like a cat, I hate being either cold or wet. But anyway. Phil knocked on the door and said “I lost my job.” He was sitting on the stairs as though in shock, no surprise there. I turned off the tub and we both sat on the stairs, stunned.

    I still feel stunned, and it’s been difficult to work on anything or know how to move forward. We’ve been in a bizarre situation for a couple of years now and it dawns on me that I have been living very much like a ghost, drifting through the remnants of a life. After the beginning of the recession and the demise of Top Sekrit Projekt, I did take another job which turned out so badly that I still feel like someone suffering from PTSD. The environment was so toxic that I wanted to die every single day; I just wanted to go to sleep, fade into darkness and never wake up. I always had to though, even when each Sunday was ruined because my stomach was in knots knowing that Monday was coming. I was broken.

    Then I went freelance, and slowly built up a book cover art business – nothing that made any real money, of course, not enough to survive on, but at least I had something that I could say that I did. But I never actually became a real person again, not in any real sense. I barely left the house. I worked through my revised bucket list: I wrote the book I’d always dreamed of writing, and did a few small things. No real dreams, as we were now poor. There was no travel to exotic destinations, no running of the bulls, no survival treks through the desert.

    Are you real if no one ever sees you, talks to you? Sometimes it’s difficult to say for sure. Are you real if you don’t feel like a real girl?

    NaNoWriMo was a writeoff, and I haven’t written anything since. Too empty. We’re both looking for work, and I’ve been revising our business sites in hopes of either of us picking up freelance work. My technical skills are no longer current, and the thought of competing with 25-year-old boys for development jobs fills me with dread. We’ve discussed selling the house, we’ve talked about going back to the States, but there are no good choices to be made. I just feel empty, as insubstantial as a dust kitty. Drifting.


  • Art,  Writing

    NaNoWriMo: Slooooow

    I’ve been struggling to get back into writing, as it has been such a very long time since I’ve written anything. I’ve gone a month or so without doing a blog post, for gods’ sake. As of today, I’m under my target wordcount, but my words-per-day to finish on time is still under 2k/day, so that is entirely doable. So far, it’s been a bit painful and each target has been met after many agonised hours spent sitting at my desk, staring at Scrivener and asking why this all wasn’t more fun.

    What I don’t want to do is hit that 50k and trigger that “Yaay, I’ve won!” feeling, because it is very hard to continue past that point. I’m trying to think of this as a habit that I am setting which will continue month in and month out.

    I am glad that I’ve arranged a small hiatus from cover work, because if I had any pressure, much less the inhuman schedule that I had last year, I would have used it as an excuse to punk out. I know I would have.

    That said, this afternoon I did some personal artwork, and it felt fantastic. Here is “Crow Girl” – click for info about stock credit.



  • Writing

    NaNoWriMo Jitters

    NaNoWriMo starts in (eeeeek!!!) two days. Am I ready? Not in the slightest, but I’m going to do it anyway. I am almost finished with covers, and the two that I am still finishing came in after I’d said that I was taking a break, so I was almost successful in clearing the time. However, I am in a much better space than I was last year, when I had too much work and stress and had a NaNo meltdown.

    I don’t have as complete an outline as I had the first time. There are a lot of plot holes and areas where I haven’t the slightest idea how I need to get from Point A to Point B…and that does worry me a bit. Being new to this writing thing, I attributed the relatively pain-free experience the first time due to the fact that I had a full chapter-by-chapter and scene-by-scene outline to work from. This time, I don’t. What I do have is:

    1. A general idea of what is going to happen – all main and secondary characters and their arcs from start to beginning to end. I have an environment that I am really excited about. I know at least some of the fairy tales that I will be twisting this time: The Goose Girl, The Red Shoes, and even a bit of Hellraiser (since when do really iconic fairy tales have to be old?). It wasn’t a coincidence that the family name is Lemarchand, by the way. ;)

    2. I have my place ready. We have the loan of a laptop from some very good friends and I bought a lap desk so I can work on the couch if I want, although when it arrived today I realised that the legs are much too tall. Scrivener has been installed and my project outline transferred over.

    3. I will have my energy drinks and breakfast food ready. Again, that was something that worked for me the first time – I am most creative in the early mornings, so I would get up by 6:00, have a proper breakfast with some protein, and then get to work. I have this OCD thing about drinking coffee that means I have to brush my teeth after drinking any (hey, it stains your teeth!) so I will live on Red Bull instead.

    4. I’ve been reading. Yeah, I always read, that’s what I do…but I’ve been reading writing books, good steampunk and middle grade novels, as well as some that I read for pure writing style (Anne Hoffman and Moonwise by Greer Ilene Gilman). Every year I re-read On Writing by Stephen King, which is kind of a ritual for me.

    Fingers crossed…