Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Atlantis City Model - Areas Cut

With two months left until the release of my novel I have just started on the process of creating a trailer for it. Unfortunately, I have decided that the majority of the areas of the city I had planned to feature will now not be included. This is due to a few considerations, the aim being the need to create a gripping not to show off all the work I put into the model for the back cover of the book. Also, because I ended up modelling such a large area, I had to compromise on quality, due to time constraints and the processing capabilities of my hardware.

The trailer will now feature only one outside area of the city, possibly, the main dock. As they have been cut I have rendered out some images of the areas cut as they are, many were not full completed anyway, due to lack of trees and in the case of the university. no door, with a window left in its place as a temporary holder.

Here are some renders of areas not in the trailer:

Here is a full city render, so you can see the size and structure of the whole thing:

Anyway, it was all good practice in getting to know a new modelling package, seeing as I trained in another at uni and hadn't touched this one. I'm not too upset. Onward and upward!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Blog Hop - Three Things I Don't Write and Three I do

I have been tagged by Joanne Hall, author of the Art of Forgetting books –Art of Forgetting: Nomad and Art of Forgetting: Rider, in a blog hop. They are both fantastic novels so check them out if you haven’t already, you will not be disappointed.

As for the topic, I have to confess the don’ts have taken me a lot more thinking of than the dos. I had to think long and hard on what I actually don’t write. There are plenty of things that I haven’t written but very few that I never would write. I am a great believer that in order to be a better writer, a person should explore as many genres and types as possible, as each will teach you to look at writing from a slightly different perspective and will strength your skills. One did immediately jump to mind, though:

I don’t write Erotica – This is a genre I have never had an interest in and, quite frankly, I usually find them offensive or demeaning. Now that’s not to say that there aren’t any deep and meaningful Erotica novels, there could well be but I’ve never come across one to date. I would never seek to write a genre that I don’t enjoy reading, and those are actually few and far between, but this is one of them. I derive no pleasure from reading about another’s perverse sexual fetishes and would derive even less pleasure from writing about them. So let’s move on.

I don’t write Mills and Boon – First, I would like to say that I have no issues with romance in general. Let’s face it, Pride and Prejudice is a romance along many other classics. My issue is with Mills and Boon specifically. I dislike the fact that every Mills and Boon book has to have shallow characters and a simple and unrealistic plot or they get rejected. I just can’t respect a writing style that forces good writers into bad practices. I feel all genres should be something to aspire to and force those who seek to write them into raising their game rather than lowering. Anyway, I could go forever on this topic but I will stop here.

I don’t write Autobiography/ Memoir/ anything else in this genre – I have long made the decision that I will never, ever write an autobiography or Memoir; the reason being there is nothing that has happened in my life that merits it and even if I one day became an author of J K Rowling status, unlikely, I still wouldn’t, as I don’t consider fame and wealth to merit an autobiography.
I believe only those who have endured real dramas/ adversity and upheavals should write their life stories. I really have no interest in what Katie Price was like as child or any other celebrity and I would not expect others to care about mine. However, I would like to know the story of say, veterans of the first and second war. Survivors of political persecution, Scientists who have struggled to make their work known and further human knowledge.  I think this is a good genre, I just think a large proportion of it is tat with the real gems too hard to find. I would never write in this genre as I would only be adding to that tat.

What I do write is also quite a hard choice as there are just so many types/ genres of writing that I do write in. Here are the three that I have chosen:

I do write Fan Fiction – For a very long time I looked down on fan fiction as something only amateurs and obsessed fans do, then I came across a writing competition on Writing.com – In the Manner of – which asked authors to writing in the style of an author from the previous century. For the first time ever, I decided to write as another author in this case as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I approached the project with a feeling of dread, expecting it to be a total disaster but I emerged with not only a decent Sherlock Holmes story but also a greater appreciation of fan fiction in general.

Without a doubt, the majority of fan fiction is badly written usually involving ridiculous events/ behaviour of characters, for example, Voldermort and Dumbledoor having a gay relationship etc. I can see why fan fiction has a bad reputation but to write really good fan fiction, indistinguishable from the real works that takes true skill and involves breaking down the author’s work, analysing the tone/ style and language they use, and then using the same ingredients to create a new, original work that matches.

I would encourage even established authors to give it try, even just once, to realise just how difficult it really is to write fiction in the style of another author. I feel writing this one piece strengthened my writing more than any other, as it taught me how to analyse my work fully and to break it down into its base components, thereby allowing me to see things that I otherwise wouldn’t notice and to dig out issues and inconsistences that I otherwise would have missed.

I do write mixed genres  - What I really enjoy doing, as a writer, is merging genres. Some genres like steampunk come already merged, period/ sci-fi but others are left open. I like taking two genres that you wouldn’t usually think of as compatible and merging them; and with the number of unique storyline/plots in pure genres decreasing with the volume of novels released, I think it is becoming more and more necessary to do this. I am of the belief that for a truly talented writer no genres are ever incompatible and I find it exciting to mix and match as you can nearly always guarantee an original outcome.

I do write what I love – For me, the most important thing about writing is to write what you enjoy. Writing, for me, is all about the journey and not the outcome. I don’t care if someone offered me two million to write something in a genre I didn’t like, I wouldn’t do it. The day I start writing purely for money is the day I give writing up; because I feel that to write a truly strong, engaging story, the author has to want to be there, has to connect to characters and the events and has to love it. End of.  

I am passing the baton on to Kate Coe, fantasy writer and  Kat Hawthorne,  artist, writer and mistress of all things dark and scary - child scary and adult scary - we all know which is scarier don't we kids? and one more coming soon. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

In Search of Gods and Heroes - Launch

This is an event I had been looking forward to for a while, partly due to the cats, admittedly but mainly because I've been looking forward to meeting Sammy and the Grimbold team for a while. This was a nice relaxed meet up. We met at All Bar One for a meal before the main launch event and had some very important and in depth debates on  serious topics such as um... Doctor Who and Harry Potter. Hey! I think those subjects are important.

Anyway, we had a great chat and then moved on to Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium and yes, I will admit, I have been really wanting to go here. I am a bit of a cat lover. I just really think that cat cafes are a fantastic idea and I think there should be more of them, so long as the cats are well looked after, that is. I can confirm that the cats at Lady Dinah's are well pampered and very happy little kitties.

Anyway, getting off topic here. It was great to talk to other Kristell Ink and Grimbold authors and to find out what the next stage of the publication process is like as my novel has just been handed over the editor. Nervous times.

Of course, the main focus of the event is Sammy's book - In Search of Gods and Heroes. Which I have a copy of and as soon as I've read it, I will do a review, right here on this blog. She read out a section which really whetted my appetite but, unfortunately, I can't read iut right away as I'm current embroiled in a battle to level 50 in Wildstar, so I can post a review of that but right after I will be hitting the book and looking forward to it. Might take a while, though as Wildstar is proving a time sink. I'll comment further on this in the review on my Gamer Blog.

This was a really good event. It was great meeting everyone and, of course, I got a signed copy of Sammy's book. No you can't have it! Mine!

Here is a photo taken at the end of the evening of the Grimbolders left after 11pm. Yes it was a late one:

Joel actually looks quite scary. I think it's the shadows. He's not, though, really.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Cover Confirmed

The cover for my up coming novel "Atlantis and the Game of Time" has been confirmed:

This is very exciting as, being an artist, I created the cover myself. I would just like to say that I didn't do this because I thought the publisher would do a bad job of it. In fact, I greatly admire the skill of the artists who do their covers. The quality of the covers really are fantastic. I chose to do my own because, being an artist myself, I would have been a very tricky customer. I have a vision already in my head of how things look and it would have been very difficult for another artist to match it. In fact, I usually struggle to match it myself. To give this job to someone else would have been a cruelty, to them and me. I couldn't bear the guilt of that. Saying that, there were a few points, during its construction, where I regretted that decision.

It was a lot of hard work and took up nearly every hour of my spare time for two months as I modeled every building, lamppost, bench etc. You can't see it on the cover, but I intend to render out a fly through as a promotional video, sometime in the near future, which makes this level of detail necessary, as I will be able to take people through the streets and parks. Want to see it now? Sorry you'll have to wait, but the title image of my blog is a very small section of it.

Part of the reason I chose to submit to Kristell Ink is because a number of the authors, signed, are artists as well. I see art and writing as being two sides of the same coin, both deal with creating worlds, it's just that one achieves that through words and the other through images. I don't see myself as a writer and and artist, I see myself as a writer-artist.

I feel my art skills make my writing stronger, allowing me to visualise my worlds, cities and scenes more vividly and adds a richness and grounding that some writers struggle with. I also feel that my writing makes my art stronger, as it allows me to look beyond the visuals of a scene and look at the people, civilisations and communities that inhabit these worlds, thereby adding depth to the images.

If I was ever asked to give up either writing or art and focus on just one, I would say that it is impossible as, for me, both those skills are joined and necessary to the other and cannot exist, in full form, without the other. Anyway, I'll stop here or I might as well do a thesis.  

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

London Wetland Centre

Well with my dad still here for the day, I had to find something to do so we went to the London Wetlands Centre. I have to say that it is a wonderful place and it is deceptively large. From inside it is easy to forget that you're at the centre of a capital city, with the exception of the odd Lesser Spotted Bowing 747 flying overhead. We were really lucky with the weather too. It was bright and sunny, a little too sunny, actually, as I came back with some sunburn.

My only regret with the visit is that I couldn't get close enough to one of the herons to get a nice photo but I took plenty of other photos, 74 overall. Here are a couple of my favourites:

It is a wonderfully tranquil place, and I would love to take my laptop there, one day, and do some writing. Unfortunately, my laptop is six years old and has a battery that lasts less than an hour, so I don't think it is practical at the moment.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Finchley Literary Festival - Main Event

My dad came all the way over from Bristol to hear my reading at this main event. I don't think that did my nerves any good. In addition to that, I'd been up a 6.30 that morning to clean my flat top to bottom, minus the vacuuming, of course, which I would never do at that time in morning out of consideration to my neighbors. I finished the cleaning just before 8am which is when the Wildstar head start went live. To fix the tiredness, I started with the caffeinated fizzy drinks which seeing as I'm caffeine intolerant always come back to bite me later in the day.

Anyway, the main festival was really interesting. The other authors reading told some very good story, not just from their fictional works but with stories about their real lives, growing up, and about the research they did for their novels. I'm a bit of a history junky, which I think shows in my own novel, so I love all this extra detail. I find the story behind writing a novel is quite often just as interesting as the novel itself. The downside all these interesting lives the other speakers talk of it that it highlighted just how boring mine is.

During the break halfway though, we had tea and pastries. Yes, I had caffeinated tea to add to fizzy drink consumed earlier. I could have had decaff coffee but I was in a tea mood so thought, to hell with it.

During the break the museum room, for the venue, was open. I really enjoyed walking around it a learning yet more history, this time local history. I even tried out the quill with the ink well. Then it was back to event and the looming shadow of my imminent reading.

My reading did not go the best it could. A note was passed to me just before my turn saying "Speak slowly" as I clearly must have read a little too quickly at the anthology launch the previous week. I started slow but made a few mistakes, so after the first page I just sped back up again and, strangely enough, I made less mistakes. How that works, I have no idea. I stopped earlier than planned as, to me, it felt like my reading was taking a long time, but that was probably just nerves warping my perception. Anyway, once that was done, I breathed a sigh of relief. There was only one reader left after me and then the panel discussion which was also enjoyable. Then I made a quick exit, relieved my ordeal was over.

Finchley Literary Festival - Blog Workshop

So, a fresh and wonderful Saturday morning. It started with the launch of the Wildstar head start, but that will be listed in a separate blog as I've decided to keep separate blogs for writing and art, and gaming. So, after a hasty Wildstar session I left, later than planned for my booked blogging workshop, part of the Finchley Literary Festival. To get there on time, I started at a jog.

I have to confess, I've long had an intention to, one day, do a marathon run. I've always considered myself a fit person. I walk over five miles per office day to work and back, rather than take the train or bus. This brief jog killed that hope. My calf muscles started burning before I even hit the end of my street, about a sixth of the way. Really doesn't bode well. If it takes less than 500 meters to cause that then running 26 miles is clearly out of the question. Anyway, back to topic.

I reached the venue, a little out of breath but still on my feet. I was, thankfully,just on time. I have to confess to grinning a little when a couple of people arrived late, disrupting the session, with the thought, glad it's not me, in my head.

The workshop was very interesting. There was one guy who really got on my nerves asking questions every three seconds. Mostly irrelevant questions or ones which you only needed a scrap of common sense to know the answer to, but I'm guessing that wasn't an entry requirement.

I learnt a great deal about how to layout and use a blog, which I'm hoping shows on this very blog. Including the links to Facebook, Twitter etc which, by the way, I'm not all that good a using either. A main theme of the workshop seemed to be in creating an original blog with the aim of getting it published. This is not, in anyway my intention. I write speculative fiction and write to escape the real world. I will never be writing memoir or anything similar. If anyone wants that level of detail on my life they can get it here for free.

Anyway, this post is becoming an essay on its own, so I'm going to stop here.

Lesson learned - Don't leave preparation to the last minute.

I had a really busy weekend and to avoid creating an essay long post, I've broken it down into multiple posts.

I was really disorganized preparing for the Finchley Literary Festival, even for me. I left it until final evening to choose what piece of the novel to read out at the festival. I had eight minutes to fill and when I did a test reading I noticed the piece I had intended, from chapter three, wouldn't fit. I tried abridging it, but even that came out to0 long. By 10pm I was starting to panic so I chose to just start from chapter one. This meant throwing out all the work I'd done trying to squeeze in the section of chapter three. I'm not going to deny that hurt.

I really didn't want to read out the start of the novel as it has a prank being played on the Pope. I was a little worried that someone in the audience might take offence. It is lighthearted and clearly not meant to be taken as an insult to the religion but there are plenty of oversensitive people about and I didn't want to put a stain on the festival by causing any bad feeling. However, I had to admit there was little choice. I need a self contained section that would make sense and also have a small sense of conclusion or natural stopping point.

Anyway, by the time I'd finished going through this next section, deleting areas not relevant for a short reading and giving it a final edit, as the professionally edited version is not available yet, it was midnight. I have to confess I was not feeling confident about the reading but that really was my own fault.