Friday, July 31, 2009


For want of something to post, here are the chapter titles for my novel; I decided today to add titles as part of the final polish before the tome wings its way out to agents ...

1. The Story Keeper Talks of Beginnings
2. Delesse
3. Tuuke
4. The Naming of the Parts
5. Shapeis
6. Tabeed
7. The Sexing of Humanity
8. Bassakesh
9. The Groom's Party
10. The Burning Woman's Tale
11. The Beloved Courtesan
12. Loetopas
13. Behin of the Fifteenth
14. The Pig at the Feast
15. The Contract Celebrations
16. At the House of Varoul
17. The Gods on the Hill
18. Sheslan
19. The Death of Sama-Lovare
20. Rumours and Gossip
21. The Marking of the Bounds
22. Fear
23. A Festival of Imps
24. Loken
25. Beyond the City Walls
26. Politics
27. The Gods in the Jungle
28. Boats on the Taete
29. The Pride of Lachlasser
30. The Feral Life
31. At the Estates of the Emperor (Deceased)
32. How Ancestors are Honoured in Viyame
33. Diplomacy
34. Little Sosunda
35. The Guardsman Investigates his City's Murder
36. Parlay
37. Disaster
38. Consummation

Chapters 1-7 are still available to read on the Authonomy website

Sunday, July 26, 2009

See, this is why I want to learn Greek

Εν τη Oδώ
- Κ.Π. Καβάφης

Το συμπαθητικό του πρόσωπο, κομμάτι ωχρό·
τα καστανά του μάτια, σαν κομένα·
είκοσι πέντ’ ετών, πλην μοιάζει μάλλον είκοσι·
με κάτι καλλιτεχνικό στο ντύσιμό του
- τίποτε χρώμα της κραβάτας, σχήμα του κολλάρου —
ασκόπως περπατεί μες στην οδό,
ακόμη σαν υπνωτισμένος απ’ την άνομη ηδονή,
από την πολύ άνομη ηδονή που απέκτησε.

... because, you know, I've read the translations and something is telling me that they have nothing but the words of the original in them ...

Saturday, July 25, 2009


1. Go read Matt Taibbi's article in Rolling Stone - The Great American Bubble Machine.

2. Make sure you read the whole article.

3. Do some seething.

There used to be a time when coin clippers - because that is exactly what the senior executives of Goldman Sachs and their like are, what with their bubble profits and bonuses - could be charged with treason.

I'd also suggest that such a reckless, massive attack on the market economy is no different to terrorism - and people who engineer such profit-driven endeavours are no better than economic terrorists. If Goldman Sachs was a nation state, would we not now be at war with them?

See, I'm still seething about this whole mess. And so far the only people I see being punished for these crimes against society are the victims. And that is wrong.

Maybe we can't prosecute these bastards for treason. But that doesn't mean that we can't change the law to make sure that anyone who tries these scams against us again do have to face the full force of our rage.

Friday, July 24, 2009

And a cover for the novel

... because we can't do one without the other:

Cover for The Gods in the Jungle book

Somehow I don't think I'll be getting a job in a graphics design studio anytime soon.

SpinTrap - book cover

That TextNovel place encourages people to upload cover designs for their serial books - which is well enough because the default cover they use is pig-ugly. So I had to knock this one up quickly:

SpinTrap serial book cover

Scary, huh? Would you pick up a book with that on the front?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

You know my blog story ...

... that I was posting here a while back?

Well, I've found a new place to post it - a place that allows folks to read it online or on their phone and all sorts of interesting ways.

The venue is called Textnovel and the first three sections of the story - which has a brand spanking new name just to celebrate: 'SpinTrap' - are already up. New sections will be added every few days (just like they were when I was posting to the blog).

Does either of you need more enticing? Here's the short blurb:

Kal is not having the best of times: his friends have deserted him; the city around him has changed; and the man whose head he lives in knows he is there. And now he has to save the world - though working out what's threatening the world is proving to be a problem too ...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pitch my novel

Sounds kinda dirty, doesn't it. But if I want to get my novel published (and I do, I really do) then I've got to pitch it to people who think they might be able to generate themselves (and me) some profit out of my words.

Which is where The Pitch Parlour comes in. Out of the very kindness of her heart, Miss Pitch has set up a venue which allows aspiring wannabes like me a chance to test their pitch packages on real-life people, who are more than happy to point out the weaknesses and stupidities that can so easily creep into this most important aspect of getting a novel published.

Miss Pitch posted my package today: the query letter; the synopsis; and the opening 2,000 words. Please do pop over there and throw some mud at my efforts, or even just vote YES or NO. And while you're over there, do have a quick gander at the other pitches already posted - we all could use the feedback, even if you're not an agent or editor!

Oh, and if the story grabs either of you, I've got the first five chapters on display over at the Authonomy website. They're free to read and crit.

And can I just throw a big, wide open Thank You to Miss Pitch for coming up with her Pitch Parlour idea.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rainbow Rik

That Reb Livingston casually included a link to Pamela Oslie's Auracolors website, where you can take an online multiple choice quiz to discover the colours of your aura, and in particular your life colours.

Kay, I'm a sucker for a good psychological or psychic profile test. Just the other day I found myself on the Belbin website paying for a personal report! Which would suggest that my personal life colour should be "sucker", but there you go.

Anyways, I took the aura test. Turns out that my life colour (by a big margin) is crystal, with a variety of tans and a streak of orange battling on the fringes. To summarise Ms Pamela's summary of what crystal-types are:

Crystals have clear auras and are known as the "aura chameleons" - their auras change to match those of the people they are connecting with at the time, taking on the characteristics, behavior patterns, emotions and thoughts of that color. This makes them likeable to many people, but also confusing ... Crystals can be a clear conduit or channel for healing energy. Being natural healers, the Crystals' gift is to help their clients clear blockages, thereby enabling the clients' own natural healing processes to take place ... Crystals do not always understand their healing abilities. It can often frighten and confuse them or cause them to feel overwhelmed. These rare souls are often physically fragile and delicate.

My high ranging tans (logical, sensitive and environmental, with abstract lagging down the list) apparently provide me with good connections between my mental, physical and emotional spheres. Which is fine, I suppose: what's the point of having healing powers if your own connections are all clugged with crap?

The appearance of orange amid all those tans was a bit of a puzzler. I certainly don't see myself as a "thrill-seeker and daredevil of the aura spectrum". But when I sit down and think about it, there is a certain part of my life where that is exactly what I am - I'll leave it to your imaginations to, well, imagine the circumstances where I get a bit of a thrill-risk on ...

Is this any more accurate that the Belbin test I paid for, or my consistent INTJ ranking on Myers-Briggs thingy? Well, I'm not yet convinced that those psychological evaluations have a solid foundation in science - I sometimes wonder if the bods will ever come up with a scientifically rigorous methodology for evaluating personality - so what the heck. I must have healing hands!

Which is a wierd bugger, because I've been to see two psychics in my life, and both of them have told me - unequivocally - that my life's work is to do with healing. Is my aura really that obvious? And if yes, has anyone got a healing manual they could lend us?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Would you read this book?

The Gods in the Jungle: one page synopsis

The jungle city of Bassakesh holds the keys to the future of the Vreski Empire. This small city in the jungle is the sole source of the Vedegga dye, which generates enormous wealth for those who control its production and trade. Delesse, the Governor's daughter, is marrying Loken - heir to one of the most powerful families in the Empire. While Loken travels to Bassakesh to collect his betrothed, Delesse learns the secrets of keeping a man happy from Julyeis and Shapeis, Servants employed by her mother, Temis.

Servants are a society within a society: the Servants of Bassakesh are led by Maeduul - the Story Keeper - who also happens to be Temis's companion, given to her by the Emperor himself as a wedding gift. As preparations for the ceremony continue, a new Servant - Kebezzu - arrives in the city: her work is to spread the prophesies of the 'Burning Woman'. Many Servants find her message appealing, but Maeduul mistrusts her, and asks Julyeis to keep an eye on the woman and the child she has brought with her, whom Kebezzu claims is a reincarnation of the Burning Woman.

Loken arrives in Bassakesh accompanied by his uncle, Loetopas, and his friend Sheslan. Another surprise arrival is Feyn, Temis's oldest sister and the Emperor's longstanding mistress, along with Imperial soldiers led by Commander Behin, who is a childhood friend of Tuuke, the Guardsman of Burramesh. On the evening of the contract ceremony Julyeis discovers Sheslan suffering from a high fever; fearful that he may be carrying a deadly plague, she moves him to a place where he is discovered by Imperial soldiers, but they are unable to save him.

Tuuke investigates Sheslan's death, learning that he is an unintended victim of a plan by Loetopas to disrupt the dye harvest. Tuuke also uncovers Kebezzu's work among the Servants who harvest the dye. But he is too late: plague engulfs the city, killing many. As chaos descends, Loken publicly repudiates his family - his uncle and father had murdered his older, disabled brother - and stays in the city to help while Loetopas escapes by boat upriver to the city of Viyame. Kebezzu also convinces many of the Servants to leave the city and leads them on foot through the jungle towards the refuge of the 'hidden settlements' north of Viyame.

As the plague subsides, Feyn convinces Temis that the best opportunity to save her children and the city is to let her take Delesse and Loken to the Old City, where the Emperor has his court. Tuuke is also keen to chase down Loetopas, and Maeduul is determined to stop Kebezzu. Maeduul reveals that Bassakesh, isolated as it is from the rest of the country, is the main plank of a secret experiment by the Emperor to end the caste divisions that bedevil his Empire. But as they journey upriver their boat is boarded by Behin, who reveals that the Emperor is dead and he has been ordered to arrest them all.

Meanwhile Shapeis and Julyeis become separated as they walk through the jungle; Julyeis finds the river and is rescued by Delesse and Loken, while Shapeis stays with Kebezzu and looks after her child. Tuuke learns much from Julyeis about the Servants' plans. When they arrive in Viyame, the Bassakeshi convince Behin that they must work to stop Loetopas and his brother Puusen gaining the throne, and bring them to justice for unleashing plague on their city. Together, they capture Kebezzu and Shapeis, leaving the way clear for Loken and Delesse to confront Loetopas. When he attempts to murder them both, Tuuke kills him.

This story, which takes place on a planet far from Earth, is an investigation of the drives and beliefs of the various strata of a crumbling society, through the eyes of those immediately involved in the events which bring an Empire to its knees.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pride and Twitterverse

Go read it now.

I had to do Pride and Prejudice for my 'O' level English Literature course ... yet the memory still shudders me. If only Twitter had been around 20 years ago.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The RikVerse and Creative Commons licences

As you may have both spotted already, I've never been comfortable with the 20th century view of a poem being a tradable commodity; all the stuff about poems having to be gathered into books and published and traded in shops before they can be considered to be real or proper or significant or noteworthy - c'mon, let's be honest with ourselves here: it's all a pile of bollocks, innit!

In the Rik view of the world a poem is a poem when somebody reads it, or hears it, or watches it being performed and they turn round to their mates and say: "now that's a poem!" I can sit here typing until I'm blue in the fingertips claiming that my poems are poems, but until they're validated by other people as poems, they're just collections of words on the page or screen.

In short: poems need people, and people need poems.

But people aren't going to get the poems they need if those poems are trapped inside a book or a magazine. A book which they have to go out and buy, or borrow from a library, or nick off a friend. A book which they probably don't know exists, because for most people in the real world, seeking out books of poems is not high on their list of things to do. I mean, why should it be?

The living book

I came to the conclusion years back that I had no interest in pressing the life out of my poems between the pages of a book. I rarely submit work to print journals; I've never (forgetting one moment of madness) sought a publisher for my poetry. I don't need to: I've got a website.

The RikVerse Website isn't just a webpage where I shove all my poems. Oh, no! My overriding vision for the RikVerse Website has been that of a living book - a place where I can showcase my poems to the world, where I can share the development of the poems with visitors, and where I can promote the finished works through as many different channels as possible. That's why I've spent so much time and effort to make sure the site's accessible and welcoming to the casual browser: it's about the poems, innit, not the geezer wot wrote them.

My poems are on webpages and in pdf documents; a number have audio and some have video. If visitors don't like the website, they can perhaps check out the poems via Scribd, or Issuu, or Google books. They can even buy a portion of the RikVerse in dead tree format, if that's what they want (though it kinda misses the point of the ever-evolving 'living book' concept, but hey ho). And as soon as I work out the technicalities, RikVerse poems will be available for eReaders such as BeBook, Kindle and eSlick.

Copyrights and stuff

But I don't think the RikVerse website and all these other delivery channels is enough - I want people to be sharing my poems with their mates. But the one thing that stops such sharing (legally speaking) is the copyright issue.

So I've decided to start using Creative Commons licences. As the CC folk say on their website: "Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright, so you can modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs. We've collaborated with intellectual property experts all around the world to ensure that our licenses work globally." I like those words.

Look at what CC licences have done for photos - arguably the visual equivalent of a poem. People don't think twice about uploading their photos to venues like Flickr, thus offering them to others to use in their own venues or in their own work. And it's all legal, thanks to the CC licence. There's no payments as such, but rather a kind of gift economy where payment is made in kudos and respect. And nobody (except the commercial photographic libraries, I'm guessing) has a problem with this massive change in the way images are traded between folk around the globe.

I see no reason why it shouldn't be different for poems.

Now don't get me wrong: I'm not one of those raving lunatics who thinks all poems should be released into the wild for swapping and sharing. There's good reasons why copyright laws were established over the past couple of centuries, and if some people can make money from their poems by selling books and stuff then more strength to their elbows, say I.

But equally, why should poems remain copyrighted for seventy years after their authors have died? I mean, how does that benefit the writer? Are they expecting the royalties to pay for fresh flowers on their grave for generations to come?

It's a tricky question. I want to retain copyright over my poems, yet I don't need floral tributes to celebrate my death day after I've gone, and at the same time I do want my poems to be read and shared by people while I still breathe. Which is why, after fretting about these issues for years, I decided that the best option for me was to move all my poems onto a Creative Commons licence.

What does all this mean?

In practical terms, what I'm saying is:
  • if you want to post one of my poems to your website or blog, go right ahead - as long as you remember to give me credit for the poem by making sure you say "This poem was written by Rik Roots"

  • feel free to take one of my poems into class for your 'found poem' project

  • you can reuse a poem, for instance in a leaflet or pamphlet - as long as they're not for sale!

And the best bit is you can do all this fun stuff with my poems without having to pay me! Check out the Creative Commons website for more information for what can and can't be done to works released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence.

But wait! There's more!

You know how you're supposed to progress as a poet as time goes by? Well, I've been thinking about those poems I wrote more than 15 years ago and, well, I think it's about time they started to make their own way in the world. So I've decided to release those poems written more than 15 years ago under the much sexier Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence.

Which means that for these poems I'm going to be brave and let people copy, distribute, display, and perform them - and derivative works based upon them - as long as people mention my name somewhere where folks can spot it. And yes, people can use those poems for their own commercial work, and no, I don't expect to be paid.

It's a brave new world out there. I look forward to seeing how this all works out.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Why are you begging for money, Rik?

#1: How dare you! I'm not begging for money!

#2: 'Kay, yes, I have added a "donate" button to the RikVerse Website pages. So what?

#3: Anyways, it's not as if I'm asking something for nothing. There's been big changes on the Rikverse Website which I think merit the addition of a "donate" button.

#4: What do you mean, 'what changes?' Go and see; stop bugging me to do all the hard work for you!

#5: Of course the changes are easy to spot! Go look again ... have you seen it yet?

#6: Yes indeedy! It's the copyright notice thingy. That is new!

#7: What do you mean, 'what's so special about the copyright notices?'

#8: They're not just any old copyright notices, I'll have you know; these are Creative Commons Licences - by switching to these licences, I'm giving folks permission to use my poems in various ways for non-commercial purposes ...

#9: No, I haven't lost the plot, thank you very much! It doesn't mean people can start doing silly things like changing my poems or plagiarising them or profiting from them ...

#10: Well okay, people can use some of the poems for commercial purposes without having to seek my permission first, or paying me, but those are just the older, more feeble poems ...

#11: Yes, yes. I know it sounds like a stupid thing to do, but that's the way the world is going and by giving people a licence to do stuff with my poems I'll hopefully be gaining a bit of name recognition and getting more visitors to the website ...

#12: And yes, some of them might just make a donation. Good point, there! Wish I had thought about it first. Now go and play in the garden, or the motorway, or something. Rik has a world to conquer and he doesn't need interruptions, 'kay?

Thursday, July 02, 2009


That's the driving test that I failed, not a general failure or breakdown. Thankfully the driving examiner had nerves of steel and didn't break down during any of the three poor errors of judgement I made during the test, though he did blanch when I pulled out of the junction into the path of the big red bus.

In other news, I am on that Twitter thingy, apparently as @KaliedaRik; someone convinced me that it was a good tool for keeping up with the latest info on publishing stuff and, as I move serenely through the redrafting of my first novel and start researching agents and other scary beasties, I need all the information I can lay my hands on. Clues on what I should tweet about would be welcome.

Changing the subject: Lily Allen - dontcha love her! Unbelievably, I've only just found out about her - I have no clue about modern music, living instead in a chrysalis of 60s70s80s radio stations. Today I'm in a perky mood, requiring a perky song, I think: