Christmas Message, Magical Version

(Preparatory note: While considering what I was going to write here, I started thinking that it sounded like a ‘this is the end, I’m writing no more’ speech. It isn’t, so put that out of your head and read on with happiness in your heart. Also, I’m cross-posting this to both blogs, because it’s for all of you and I don’t know whether you all read both blogs.)

So… On a whim this afternoon I was clicking through Netflix and I found Stephen Fry’s Planet Word. I hope everyone knows who Stephen Fry is; he’s a British national treasure, but beyond that he’s an eloquent man with a love of language. Planet Word is his tour of how language came about, what it means, who it has changed, how it is written, and the kind of thing he thinks of when it comes to good writing (and there are a few surprises in that list). If it’s available on whatever streaming service you may use, I heartily recommend it.

What it did for me, aside from entertaining me for several hours, was got me thinking. Mr Fry has written books and he tells the story of the arrival of his first ever printed novel and how he felt to see something he had written sitting there, bound into a book. And I know how he felt. The last programme, about literature, made me think of something else; about the pleasure he gets from reading the kinds of works he likes.

Now, I don’t claim to be a Joyce, or an Orwell, or a P.G. Wodehouse, or any of the other authors mentioned in the series. But you lot are out there enjoying my writing. Someone told me recently that one scene in The Other Side of Hell had really cheered her up and I got a little thrill out of that. I don’t care whether you read my stuff because you like strong female characters, or kick-ass heroines, or the sex, or the guns. I assume you like the stories, because you’re here reading this and you keep buying them. Coming up to Christmas, I think it’s a good time to point out that I really appreciate the fact that people out there are enjoying Aneka and Ella, and Ceri and Lily, and all the other characters. Thank you.

PS. I’m not trawling for praise either. If you feel like posting some, save it for the next book and have a damn good Christmas (or whatever form of holiday you may be celebrating).

A Couple of Halloween Pinups

I have to admit I’ve been sitting on these for a while, but now seems like a good time to share. Two pinups of Lily. The first… Well the shirt texture just screamed Lily when I saw it (and it turned out that the shirt itself is designed for models with… exaggerated features; it looks really crumpled on smaller breasts). The second is more of a Halloween shot and she looks so elegant in it. Anyway, enjoy.lily-pinup8 lily-pinup9

The Big Update

So, I’m getting all the Thaumatology books proofread and reissued. Back before these things started making money I couldn’t really afford to have a professional work over my stories, but I’m a little bit of a perfectionist (not a really big one, but I hate putting out something which could be better), so now’s the time to get everything checked over.

Before I send them off, however, I’m doing a run through myself to correct the things I know will just need fixing anyway and to tweak a few things I know I need to correct. There’s a few bits of Devotik around that need correcting, and I think a few dates need tweaking. I’ve got as far as working through Legacy. Going back and rereading the old stuff is always fascinating, and it gives me ideas about future projects.

A Bit of News

Well, it´s time to re-read all 11 books again! Book 12 is finally coming!!!

So, mrfg made the comment above, and I wanted to share some news which might be of interest.

Since I was talking to my wonderful proofreader, Kate, anyway, I broached another subject with her and she’s agreed, at least in principle, so I figure I can mention this. Kate is going to be going over all the books I’ve never sent her, hopefully finishing the lot by Christmas. So Steel will get an update, cleaned up and typo-free, but I’m going to do a slightly more thorough job on the Thaumatology books. Nothing gross is going to change. There may be a few corrections to dates which I’ve discovered don’t work (did a huge timeline of all the books before the latest and some things were a bit… off), there will be corrections of errors, and Devotik has developed a lot since it first got used properly in Legacy (I think). So I’ll be correcting my Devotik. I may do some new covers.

Thos who have already purchased the books on Smashwords or Amazon, should be able to get updates as soon as they come out (free!), and new readers will get nice, fresh, clean versions to read.

In the meantime, there will be Vengeance!

Vengeful Edits

So, yes, this weekend is going to be final edit weekend for Vegeance and then it goes off to Kate for proofing on Monday. That means it’s about two weeks until release date and I need to come up with a cover.

I have been toying with a number of books to do once the sixth Aneka book comes out. I’d like to do the sequel to Ugly, but I’m not sure of the plot. What I have needs stripping back a bit and replanning. I’ve been playing with a cyberpunk story which looks promising, but needs more development. Right now I’m coming down on the side of Reality Hack seeing print next, but we’ll see what I think when I’ve wrapped the edits to Vengeance.

A Couple of Comics

It may come as no surprise, given the recent release of Ugly, that I have been known to read comic books. Not all of them come with characters dressed in skin-tight suits and capes, and a couple of the non-superheroic ones have crossed my reader recently which I thought it would be interesting to throw in here because they’re fantasy, urban fantasy at that. They are also just starting, issue number one is out now! So you don’t need to catch up on a huge history like you do with, say, DC or Marvel.

Chastity is a book by Andreyko Acosta, published by Dynamite comics. I’d seen the cover before I read a recommendation from a fairly respected comic blogger. Now, I should have read the fine print: the blogger was saying that the people producing the comic were good, but they hadn’t actually seen it… Oh well, it’s not actually that bad, but the cover… The cover is a con. The alternate cover, which comes as the second page in the electronic edition, is an even bigger con. What we get in the first book is some adequate, but not exactly exciting art, and a vast amount of backstory… and then it ends and we have to wait for the next part to find out pretty much anything. It’s a vampire plotline, Chastity is going to end up as a vampire. This we know. The vampire who attacks her is, to be honest, badly stereotyped, but I do know how hard it is to create a throwaway bad guy without resorting to tacky stereotypes.

In short, I can’t recommend Chastity at this stage, but it shows a bit of promise. I may try another book before I say it’s hopeless.

And then there is Death Vigil. This is the work of Stjepan Sejic, and it’s now being released by Top Cow. We’ll set aside the fact that it cost me the same for 48 pages as Chastity did for 24, and just look at the actual product. Stjepan has his own style of art (and if you haven’t clicked on the link under his name yet, make sure you do because his DA site is an absolute treat) and a great sense of humour. Now, his artistic style may not be for some, and I tend to find his characters have a certain look about them which can be seen as a little samey. But you open up Death Vigil and you’re faced with vivid colours and action. Something happens in this book. Actually from an “extreme summary” viewpoint, the plots of both books are not dissimilar: a girl dies and she’s going to be something else. The difference is that we get beautifully drawn action, funny dialogue, and a resolution in one book, with a teaser ending designed to pull you back for the second issue. Death Vigil is a beautifully executed bit of writing in a form I’d give my eye-teeth to be able to replicate, and it’s a nice piece of hidden-magic, modern fantasy. Also, the Grim Reaper is called Bernadette. How can you go wrong with that? I can’t wait for the next part.

I’ve given links above the the publishers’ pages for these books, but I got my copies through ComiXology, and I’m sure they are both available through other online retailers, maybe even in real shops too. Go, read, enjoy.

Know Your Demons: Devos and Devim

Know Your Demons

The most common of the higher demon species, and the most likely to rise to Lord status, the Devos and Devim conform to the shape most recognised to Earth humans when they think of a demon or devil. Looking at them you could almost believe that they are either different species, or that Devim are the children of Devos, but the truth is a little more tragic (in the eyes of humans anyway; not that many have heard the truth).

Both Devos and Devim have iridescent, purple skin, long horns, bat wings, cloven hooves on digitigrade feet, and a pointed tail. Fangs and claws are a given. Then we hit the big difference: Devos are roughly human-sized, typically a little taller, but you could put that down to the leg structure, but the tips of the horns on a Devim rarely make it up to someone’s neck if they stand on hooftip. For those who have never seen a “demon” before, Devos are demons and Devim are imps. Maybe Devim are somehow a related species? Well, no.

The majority of Devos births result in Devim. Physically male, they are infertile, weak, runts of the litter in a litter of runts. Many families toss them out on the streets to fend for themselves and a Devos female who has never managed to birth a Devos is viewed as second-class. She’s likely to be more frustrated with herself, however, and her lack of Devos children is unlikely to endear her Devim to her: often quite the opposite. The lucky Devim are generally those born with or just after a Devos birth since their parents are often more inclined to be generous. And yes, once, a long time ago, one Devim did manage to become a Lord, which just shows what you can do if you’re determined enough.

Both Devos and Devim have an affinity for fire and fire magic. They can throw around fire bolts more or less at will, and frquently know more than a few fire spells. Devos are summoned as general-purpose demons, the default when you don’t know what you need. They will tutor in magic, especially fire magic, and perform other services. Devim are generally used as messengers.

(PS. There was supposed to be a new illustration here with Devos and Devim in, but I’m having some issues with some old models. There might be a new illustration for this at some point, but this poor post has been waiting ages to get published.)