And The Winner Is…

By Allan | Monday, 16 November 2009 at 13:00
Category: Writing | Tags: ,

Well, plenty of you decided to enter the competition. For those of you who missed out and are wondering what this is all about - it all began when a fan asked where Edric got the White Rose that he gives to Tania in The Lost Queen.

I asked for you guys to come up with explanations, the prize for the answer I liked best being a signed copy of Warrior Princess book 1.

A lot of you went with the idea of Edric using the Dark Arts to get back into Faerie, which I think is a perfectly good explanation. One of you suggested that the rose appeared because it knew he was sad (after fighting with Tania) - which I actually thought was quite a cute idea - empathic Faerie flowers, I can see that.

But in the end, I found two particular entries that I particularly liked. In fact, I liked them so much (for quite different reasons) that I’ve decided to announce joint winners and send them a signed book each. (I am such a sucker like that!)

My favourite idea was so simple and so quirky and so unexpected, that I couldn’t resist it.

It came from Reese.  She wrote:

“I think Edric borrowed it (the rose) from Shakespeare, who isn’t really dead but is hiding out somewhere in Faerie writing plays.”

I love that idea!

But then I got a message from another fan: Regina Peters. Her idea wasn’t quite as original as the Shakespeare one, but she had written the idea up in full as a fanfiction story. You can find it on http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4760377/1/The_White_Rose

At least, I hope that link works! The reason I have awarded her joint first place is because the story is so well written, and fits really well in the world of Faerie Path - and could actually have happened, I think! Now, I know I didn’t ask you to write stories as such, but Regina just went for it - so I’m partly giving her joint first place for initiative and dedication.

To all of you who took part but didn’t win, don’t worry - I’m sure I’ll be setting up more competitions soon. In fact, if any of you have ideas for competitions to win signed books, why don’t you let me know?

So, finally - if Reese and Regina will mail me from the Contacts page, letting me know what name they would like on the book, and where to send it, I will get the prizes in the mail.

Speak to you all soon.

Allan

Warrior Path & Faerie Princess, more or less…

By Allan | Monday, 2 November 2009 at 10:08
Category: Writing | Tags: ,

It’s been a busy couple of weeks over here.

I got two parcels from my UK editors recently. One had a bunch of new hardback Warrior Princess 2: Destiny’s Path books in it, the other had a batch of Warrior Princess book one paperbacks. Some of the latter have now been sent off to the winners of that competition that was running in the fan site. (The one about the mountains, not the story competition).

Speaking of competitons, I have a new one for you to try out. Kyra posed the question: where did Edric get the white rose from that he gave to Tania in The Lost Queen. I have a signed Warrior Princess paperback to send to the person who comes up with the explanation that I like best. I’m going to give you guys two weeks to respond - so answers please, by Monday 16th November. The Lucky winner will get the book. Oh, and please send your answers as a message through the Contact page, that way no one but me gets to see what you’ve said. Suggestions already given up to this date will be accepted, though, so you’re fine, Shannon!

What else? Well, I think most of you have a pretty good idea by now of the process that gets a book out of my head and into your hands. Well, I received back a few weeks ago, the suggestions and comments from my UK, London-based editors, Karen and Rosie for The Faerie Path Book 6: The Charmed Return. They know the books really well, and they had some great ideas, most of which I agreed with and worked on.

Just to give you an idea of the kind of stuff I’m talking about, they would let me know if there were things they didn’t quite understand. It’s really easy for a writer, who knows the plot inside out, to forget that new readers may not be able to figure out who does what or why unless it is explained really clearly. So there were a few places, where Rosie and Karen asked me to explain things a bit more clearly. They will also tell me when I’ve repeated myself or contradicted myself. (That’s easier done than you might think in a book as long as Faerie Path!).

Then there would be sections where they think I spend too long describing something, or where a conversation goes on for too long, and then they’ll make suggestions for cuts - where I agree, I make the cuts, where I don’t, I explain why not, and usually the stuff stays in. An easy thing to do in a scene where there are five or six people, is to lose track of one of the characters. That’s how books are different to movies. In a movie, a character can just stand there doing nothing in the background, and everyone can see them - but in a book, if a characters isn’t doing or saying anything, they can kind of disappear. So what I do when a character in a scene gets lost, is to give them something to do - either some small piece of action or a snatch of dialogue, so that readers are reminded that they are there.

So, as you’ll see from the above, these editorial suggestions are all pretty minor, and don’t have any impact on the plotlines at all. But there can be quite a lot of them, so working on edits takes a while.

What will happen now is that my UK editors will take another look at the book and maybe get back to me on unresolved issues - and when everyone is happy over here, the book will go to the American editors of Harper Collins in New York.

Something you need to know about editors, is that they all want to make their own little changes. You all probably know someone who always wants to make little changes to things you do. Brothers, sisters, friends, parents - teachers, they can all have ideas for how you could look better or act better or be bettter. Editors can be a bit like teachers - you know, giving you 7 out of 10 and making comments about how your homework could have been improved. It’s like, you hardly ever (never?) get 10 out of 10 - there’s always something they think you could do better. Well, editors can be like that. If a book went through the hands of 20 different editors, each of them would have a whole list of “improvements”, and each list would be totally different to any other. It’s a little strange to have to deal with, but it’s all part of being a published author, and I’m not complaining at all!

So, what now? Well, I have a couple of things to do in the next few weeks. I have Sundered Lands book 6 to tinker with. I also have the Teach Yourself Writing book to look at again. Oh, and of course, I have a couple of meetings set up with my editor pal James, to discuss the finer points of the plot of Warrior Princess book four.

And by the time I’ve finished all that, it will almost be Christmas - and then it will be New Year, and then it will only be one month to the publication of Faerie Path 5: The Enchanted Quest.

Oh, and I have a few sketches of characters to do, I guess. Oh, yes - I almost forgot! I will be posting chapter two of The Enchanted Quest here on 1st December.

Warrior Princess 2: Destiny’s Path

By Allan | Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 11:11
Category: Writing | Tags: , ,

Well, yesterday a big padded envelope arrived at my house with my advance copies of the hardback edition of Warrior Princess 2: Destiny’s Path. So now I know for sure that the book really does exist out there in the real world, rather than only on my computer!

I’m hoping to get the time to read it through soon. You know, what with all the trans-Atlantic editing and tinkering and rewriting that goes on, I only actually get to read the book cover-to-cover once it’s in print! So I have my fingers crossed that it’s good. I do know it has one of my all-time favourite characters in it. She’s Blodwedd the Owl-Girl. She was sent by one of the Old Gods - The Shining Ones - to be a guide to the hero Branwen. Thing is she used to be an owl. In fact, to explain it properly, she still is an owl, but she looks like a young woman. This proves tricky for everyone. I’ll give you a small example - owls sleep standing up - so Blodwedd doesn’t know how to sleep as a human. Plus, owls don’t chew when they eat. They rip bits off and swallow them whole, or they just chug small animals down as one solid chunk. So Blodwedd doesn’t even know how to eat - imagine trying to swallow a mouse whole and you get an idea of the practical problems she encounters. Plus she thinks like an owl - which is a deadly predator without any sympathy or compassion. Like I said, things are tricky with her in the mix!

Anyway, copies of the book should be hitting the stores in a few days now, so if your local bookstore doesn’t have it on the shelves, and you’d like to buy it, ask them to order it for you, why not?

On other issues, I’ve got the UK editorial suggestions back for The Faerie Path 6. I haven’t looked at them yet, because I’m in the middle of writing the 6th Sundered Lands book. Have any of you taken a look at the Sundered Lands pages? The covers are really great, I think, done by an artist who specializes in fantasy and sci-fi. The books are for a younger age group than The Faerie Path or Warrior Princess, so maybe they’d be good for younger brothers or sister or cousins or whatever?

Oh, and its suddenly gotten really wintery here in England. Not snowy at all yet, but with a cold north wind and grey skies and falling leaves. But on the bright side, this is exactly the time of year that I like to check out The Lord of The Rings. I have just bought myself the Audio CD version, which I’m listening to on an iPod kind of thing called a Sanza Fuse. Frodo has just arrived in Rivendell. When I was a teenager, I constructed a fake window on the wall in my bedroom and did a painting of Rivendell in it so it was like I had a magic window that looked out into Middle Earth. Do any of you do crazy stuff like that, or is it just me?

Anyway, I’d better get back to work now. Keep those suggestions coming for people you’d like me to do sketches of - I’m hoping to have some time in December to get my pencils out and do some drawing.

Someone suggested to me that I might like to add a page to this site where people could post fan-fiction. What do you guys think of that idea?

The Enchanted Quest - Chapter One

By Allan | Friday, 2 October 2009 at 09:16
Category: Writing, book excerpts | Tags: ,

The eagle-eyed among you may have already noticed that I have posted Chapter One of The Enchanted Quest here.

Now then, a couple of things.

Thing One is that if you haven’t yet read The Immortal Realm, you really should NOT be reading the first chapter of The Enchanted Quest - it includes some really big spoilers. You’ve been warned, and now if you spoil The Immortal Realm for yourself, you have no one else to blame!

Thing Two is for those of you who have read The Immortal Realm. You will remember that the book ends with a brief “epilogue” that has Tania, Rathina and Connor on a boat.  Well, the posted chapter covers things that happen before they get on that boat. It starts pretty much where the main story of The Immortal Realm leaves off. As promised, I will be posting the next chapter at the start of December. In Chapter 2 they enter the town of…hey! Wait a minute! I’m not telling you that yet.

Anyway, as I’ve said before, you get the first chapter now, the second chapter in December, and the book itself hits the stores on the 1st February next year.

I know for many of you, this is too little and too long between, and next February is a million years away - but if I show you more or tell you more before February 2010, the publishers have threatened to beat me to death with a shovel…in a manner of speaking…and you wouldn’t want that happening, would you?

Pictures of the Princesses

By Allan | Wednesday, 30 September 2009 at 10:21
Category: Fan Club | Tags: ,

Ever since I posted some of my artwork on the Fan Club site, I’ve had requests to draw pictures of what I think the princesses of Faerie look like. Well, I have just posted some quick sketches of Tania’s sisters on the Fan Club website - go to Picture Gallery, and you’ll find them.

But here’s the thing: this is only what I think they look like - if you have them looking completely different in your imagination, then your version is as valid as mine.

The great thing about books is that they allow the individual reader to imagine what everyone and everything looks like. Sure, I’ll describe places like the Royal Palace and Crystalhenge and the sinister fortress of Dorcha Tur (oops - sorry…that’s in book five…), or people like the princesses or Lord Aldritch or whoever - but ultimately, you the reader will decide inside your head what they really look like. And that is why I prefer books to movies - in a book every reader is in charge of how things look, not some casting director, set designer or CGI computer freak.

So, what I’m trying to say, is that if you disagree with how I see Tania’s siters, that’s fine with me - in fact, that’s great. Don’t let my idea of how the girls’ look change the way you see them.

The Charmed Return - First Draft

By Allan | Monday, 21 September 2009 at 08:53
Category: Writing | Tags:

Well, at half past ten on Saturday night I typed the words THE END on page 300 of the first draft of The Charmed Return and sent it off to the UK editors.

Now, as most of you know by now - this is not the end of the line for the book. For a start, don’t make too much of the 300 page thing - at this stage the book is typed up double-spaced. I’m not quite sure why this is still the case. It used to be so that editors could write their comments between the lines when the books were sent off on paper, but I think these computerised days, when the book is an email attachment, it’s just tradition.

Anyway, the book will now be read and commented on by two UK editors - Karen and Rosie, with whom I have been working since The Immortal Realm. They’ll be getting back to me in a few weeks, at which point I will check through what they have suggested and make all the changes that I think help make the book better. These changes can range from places where I haven’t explained things very well (places where I know what’s going on, but I kind of forget the reader doesn’t…), and places where I’ve repeated words too often - and places where things might work better if they are put in a slightly different order. It can also include some “strikeout” - which is where the editors put a line through words, phrases, sentances or paragraphs that they think are not necessary - you know, where I repeat myself or tell readers things that the editors don’t think are relevant. Editors are also really keen on pace and action - and they’ll always be looking to keep the story moving at speed, so I sometimes have to be careful they don’t want interesting stuff edited out just to keep the plot moving fast. Descriptions of places are always being edited down in this way - they think people get bored by long descriptions of places.

Something else they do is to ask me to put some dialogue in among long action scenes - and to put some action in among conversations - they also think readers get bored by action without conversation and conversation without action.

Very occasionally, they will ask me to take out entire scenes because they think they are not relevant to the plot. Sometimes I will agree to this, sometimes not.

But among all this editing, I can tell you one thing - they have never tried to edit the songs or poems.

Anyway, I’ll let you know when the book comes back from Rosie and Karen, and how much work they want me to do on it, and whether I agree with it all.

The Charmed Return - latest news

By Allan | Wednesday, 9 September 2009 at 09:05
Category: Writing | Tags:

Hello there.

Well, I’m now over three quarters of the way through The Charmed Return and heading towards the final showdown between good and evil. My plan is to finish by the end of the third week in September.

What happens then is I send it off to the UK editors.

In case any of you are not sure what editors do, here’s the low-down. They are people who work for the Publishers. Their job is to read every manuscript really carefully and critically and make suggestions for changes that they think will make the book better.

They will suggest cuts in the text to make the plot flow more quickly - they will suggest moving scenes around to make the story easier to follow - they will suggest additional scenes - or removing scenes - or shortening descriptions - or adding action - or just tweaking sentances and paragraphs. It is quite unusual, when I get the book back from the Editors, to find a single page where they have not made some suggestions. Dealing with this is all part of being a professional writer, in case any of you would like to be published authors.

To give you the full picture, those of you who have taken a look at the “special features” in the Lord of the Rings DVDs will maybe remember Peter Jackson talking about the New Line Producers constantly looking over his shoulder while he was shooting the movies, and making suggestions about how the movies should be changed. Editors are a little like producers, in that they are always coming up with ways of improving books - some of which are quite good ideas, and some of which are not!

The other similarity between Book Editors and Movie Producers is that they provide the money, so they have quite a big say, and I have to fight my corner if they want changes I don’t like.

So, the “finished” manuscript I will send to the UK editors is known as the “first draft”. They will work on it for a few weeks then send it back to me to make the changes they suggest.

I plan on letting you know in real time how this all works, so I’ll post a blog here when I send it off, and another when I get it back, and so on. I’m afraid this is all a bit technical and not very exciting - but it is all part of the process of getting an idea out of my head and into bookstores.

Meanwhile - I was wondering, you’ve been discussing actors for the “movie” for a while now - but in a perfect world, if you could be in the movie, which character would you like to be? (No, not Tania - someone else). I’d be Lord Brython - I’m quite fond of Hopie and I’d love to live in their castle by the sea.

September

By Allan | Tuesday, 1 September 2009 at 08:06
Category: Writing | Tags:

Hello there. Nothing particular to report - except that I’m now getting fan mail from Germany and Austria - which is exciting, and fortunately as Claudia is German, I don’t have problems knowing what fans who write to me in German are saying. Oh - and the Germans publishers have put out Audio CD versions of the early Faerie Path books, which is very cool!

All I was really going to say is that September is my favourite month of the year. Where I live in London UK, this is the time of year when the trees begin to go brown and golden and yellow - and the Virginia Creeper in the garden turns red. The light changes as well, it gets more golden and the twilight is thick and deeply-coloured so that some evenings the whole sky goes flame-pink. And I love the huge clouds that go sailing across the sky at this time of year - makes me think that the Cloud Scudder could be hiding behind one of them.

This is also the time of year when I feel the need to get into The Lord of the Rings again - I think maybe it’s partly because Frodo left the Shire in September. Claudia and I have just watched the Movie Trilogy back to back - and I’m listening to The Hobbit on audio tape…and as soon as I finish that, I’m going to be listening to the complete unabridged Audio Tapes of The Lord of The Rings. I’m a bit of a Lord of the Rings fan, in case you hadn’t noticed! I first read it when I was at school - and I think I’ve probably re-read it every year since. I think it was because of The Lord of the Rings that I always dreamed of writing my own Fantasy trilogy. Of course, you never expect those kind of dreams to come true! But thanks to all of you guys buying my books and enjoying them, I’ve been able to write not just ONE Fantasy trilogy but two! And with any luck…maybe even more…

Anyway, I guess all I’m really saying is, this is my very Favourite Time Of Year, and it’s early morning in London and the sky is a windswept blue and the birds are singing in my garden, and Siouxsie is asleep on the couch, and things are going great with The Charmed Return and I’d like to thank all you guys for writing to me and posting comments and joining Marisa’s Fan Club.

bye for now!

Animated Movie

By Allan | Sunday, 30 August 2009 at 08:36
Category: Writing | Tags:

hello there.

It’s been suggested that The Faerie Path could be made into an animated movie. Does anyone like this idea, or do you all prefer live-action? And if animated,  should it be line-drawing or computer animated like Shrek? And who should do the voice-overs?

Oh, and while I’m here - I’ve been asked where Tania and Edric get their cell-phones from in the The Lost Queen. I haven’t read the book for years - but I know many of you will have read it more recently. I think Tania just picks hers up from home - and Edric gets his from where he lives - is that correct?

Quick update: I’m now two thirds through book six: “The Charmed Return.” And I’ve added more of my artwork to the Fan Club site.

The Enchanted Quest - latest news.

By Allan | Monday, 24 August 2009 at 13:02
Category: Writing | Tags:

Hello there. This morning I received an email from Harper Collins the Publishers, with the final cover art and wording for The Enchanted Quest.

I’ve added the wording on the cover to the page now  - to give you a glimpse of what is to come. I’ll also be posting sneak-peek chapters in a while - one in October, I think - and one in December, to lead up to publication in February 2010.

And before anyone asks - no, I’m not going to tell you if everything works out fine for Tania and Edric, nor am I going to tell you whether Rathina gets together with Connor, or whether Aldritch chokes to death on a sardine sandwich, as I’m sure several of you would like!

Oh, and by the way - I’ve added a few more pictures to the Gallery in Marisa’s Fan Club site - and I’ll be adding more later.

And in case any of you think I’m slacking, I can tell you I’m over half way through The Faerie Path book 6 - and I’m quite pleased with it so far!