Monday, August 31, 2009

Alan Turing petition

Taken from the 10 Downing Street website:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to apologize for the prosecution of Alan Turing that led to his untimely death.

"Alan Turing was the greatest computer scientist ever born in Britain. He laid the foundations of computing, helped break the Nazi Enigma code and told us how to tell whether a machine could think.

"He was also gay. He was prosecuted for being gay, chemically castrated as a 'cure', and took his own life, aged 41.

"The British Government should apologize to Alan Turing for his treatment and recognize that his work created much of the world we live in and saved us from Nazi Germany. And an apology would recognize the tragic consequences of prejudice that ended this man's life and career."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

my latest poem's a bit different ...

... on account of being my very first Akat poem:

Making any sense yet? No? 'Kay, let's try looking at it written out in a more conventional script:

ninagreqesetfùxzavihxda!otoks syhnfos tiàpakúvezda!dot
ciriàkasêfuszyhnvihxzbabda!ateqs àfos tioỳkyk myliùadobáot
ỳqykentaphriáke! egrexezeibadêhcòhxdoul mylàcupniàsyssysap
cirivz ỳkelcitaqoksiéfoxhnest fylivz ésefliỳfopehnit

Not working, huh. How about if I add some sound info to them there letters:

... that's IPA letters up above; they tell you how to say things rather than pretending to tell you like those delinquent latin letters.

By this point you should be able to read out the poem and admire the sounds - though given that this is the first 'poem' I've written in the language it's probably not what the native speakers would consider to be sonically pleasing.

But in case you're after some more visual information, how about we look at the poem through the lens of a different script:

Sure is pretty, huh? There's some form coming through now. See how there's an equal number of columns in the first three lines? That's a common technique for some flavours of Akat poetry - ruined in this instance by the last line only being eight and a half columns wide.

Is it a poem for you yet?


'Kay, here's a translation of the poem. It is, like all translations, a bit of a dog's dinner - to make it seem more 'poetic' in English, I've had to sacrifice some of the poetry in the original:

Night steals my chest-cradled terror
like the hawk lifts a rat from the wheat;
you loosen your hair, let it flutter
in the moon's breeze - a nest
for faces: two bleached eggs.

... and anyways, I never claimed it was a good poem ...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gods In Jungle submissions update #3

I've sent submission queries to ten agents: eight in the traditional manner, one by email, one by webform. I'll not name names now, but I will be recording turnaround times and response outcomes as and when they occur.

Is admitting on this here blog that I've done simultaneous submissions an act of stupidity? Possibly - though in my defence I did spend a lot of time researching these agents and most of the queries have been individualised with a few words to expalain why I was submitting to that particular agent (except for the slushpile submissions, but then why individualise a submission when I have no idea who will be speed-readinbg it). Agents can be a bit touchy when it comes to reputation and performance stuff. But keeping details of my adventures in Agentland secret feels wrong to me in this day and age of sharing info and data and stuff.

Whatever. The race is on: who will be the first agent to form reject my tome? Which agents will be brave enough to request the full manuscript? Keep tuned, folks ...

Is 'Gods in Jungle' Steampunk?

After reading Cherie Priest's blogpost 'Steampunk: What it is, why I came to like it, and why I think it’ll stick around', I've suddenly realised that my tome has a lot of similarities to Steampunk:

- technology mainly based on clockwork and steam, though there is electricity (and part of one chapter deals directly with how power is generated in this world); also a weapons technology which goes little further than muskets, with a preference for hand-to-hand combat

- clothes, accessories, fetishes (in the non-sexual sense) that are distinctly pre 20th century; the wards people wear in particular tend to be home made from bits and pieces that have personal, not commercial, value

- an inclusiveness in the range of characters; the only character who is defined as having a 'white' skin is Maeduul, with all the others having a range of brown skins; Maeduul is also explicitly 'deformed' and 'bred for a purpose'; furthermore, as I was revising the book I came to the conclusion that a number of characters veered away from the classic heterosexual stereotype without bothering to define themselves as gay/lesbian/bisexual - sex just 'is'; also the age range of the key characters (7 different POV characters and another 3 central to the story) goes from teenage innocents to old wiseheads

- a wealth of societal stuff, including three distinct classes (Clansfolk, Commonfolk, Servants), each of which has a stereotypical misunderstanding of how the others operate, behave, believe in - some huge clashes of world views which are the key driver for the storyline

- intensely rich mythologies, and some very real non-terrestrial critters which play a (passive yet important) role in the story.

... in fact the only thing I got wrong was to stage the story on a world which is most definitely not Earth, To-to!

But still, another potential audience for the book. Wish I'd thought of this before I sent out all those queries.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gods In Jungle submissions update #2

I've submitted the tome to ten agents. Should I be admitting this? Probably not, but right at this moment in time I have the patience of a gnat desparate for the proverbial piss.

They're all good agents and agencies, mind. I'd pawn my grandmothers teeth to land any one of them - even if it means having to dig up grandmother's corpse to get said teeth to pawn. There is one agent I'd happily pawn my own teeth to land - and yes, that includes extracting the bony mites from my gums sans anasthesia - but I'm not going to say which agent that is ...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Gods in the Jungle ... in a thousand words

The jungle city of Bassakesh holds the keys to the future of the Vreski Empire. It is the sole source of the vedegga dye, which generates enormous wealth for those who control its production and trade. But Bassakesh is more than a collection of buildings and businesses. It is a place where many journeys start and end, a place where histories converge and explode.

For Delesse, the Governor's daughter, the city is soon to be a place of memories. Contracted to marry Loken, heir to one of the most powerful Clans in the Empire, she fears change and dreams of love. Her betrothal celebrations bring together many people whose lives will be marked forever by events in the city.

For Loken, Bassakesh represents the promise of a new beginning. He acts as his father's dutiful son while trying to escape his family's plots by gambling and whoring. Meeting Delesse changes his world and gives him a reason to rebel: love. When his uncle's plans for disrupting the vedegga harvest go awry, Loken chooses to stay in Bassakesh and help save the city from the plague.

For Julyeis, the housekeeper of the city's most exclusive brothel, Bassakesh is home. She was born here after her Servant parents escaped the Clan strife and came to the city for refuge. For her, the plague is a disaster that takes her beyond the city walls on a trek to a new life she neither wants nor believes in.

For Shapeis, the city is a place to work. Sold to Varoul, the brothel's owner, for six months profit, he has become cynical of the world and longs for something more – though until the arrival of Kebezzu, a feral Servant who preaches the words of the mystical Burning Woman, he has no idea what could fill that longing.

Kebezzu has a mission: her work is to lead the Servant folk from their serfdom and take them into a future where they can be free to practice their Service as they see fit. Her message is the prophecies of the Burning Woman and her tool is Sosunda, a child she claims is the Burning Woman's reincarnation. For her, Bassakesh is one more stop on a pilgramage; when plague comes to the city, she believes she is vindicated and convinces many of the surviving Servants to follow her on a trek northwards to liberation.

For Loetopas, Bassakesh represents profits. For his elder brother Puusen, the vedegga profits are a path to gaining the ultimate prize – the imperial throne itself. Puusen sends Loetopas and his son Loken to Bassakesh with a special gift, an illness to disrupt the vedegga harvest which will reap him vast profit from his dye stockpiles, and future power by seizing control of the vedegga groves – using his secret workforce of feral Servants gathered together by people such as Kebezzu.

For Feyn, the Emperor's mistress and also Delesse's aunt, the city is a place to play politics: she has old scores to settle with Loetopas, and a debt to her youngest sister, Delesse's mother, which she hopes to repay by doing everything in her power to frustrate Loetopas's plans for the Governor's family and the city – whatever those plans may be.

For Tuuke, Bassakesh is a revelation. Hired by the Governor as the city's Guardsman, his job is to keep the peace, and to keep the machinations of the Imperial Court away from the city. With the help of his childhood friend Behin, Commander of the Imperial troops sent to secretly protect Feyn, he has to piece together the plots against his city, and then act to save the city when the illness brought by Loetopas turns into a deadly epidemic. And after the disaster? Revenge.

But before Tuuke can take revenge, before Feyn can thwart Loken's family's bid for the throne, before Loken and Delesse can wed and plan their future together rebuilding Bassakesh, before Julyeis and Shapeis can return home to build a better world for Servants and Clansfolk and common folk together, they must discover the real truth, the real story of what has happened, and why.

Maeduul knows the truth. A Servant bred for a purpose, a gift from the Emperor himself to Delesse's mother when she married the Governor of Bassakesh, a witness to the execution of the original Susunda over a burning pyre – Maeduul is the Story Keeper, the one who keeps the myths and legends of the Servants alive, who offers teaching and insight to those with the ears to listen. For she understands that civilisations are made of more than people and cities: a civilisation is the weave of a society's beliefs and world-views. And for too long the peoples of the Empire has been divided by conflicting stories about who they are, where they came from and why they are here.

Together Feyn, Maeduul and Tuuke, Delesse and Loken must travel upriver to another city – Viyame – the place where Loetopas ran when plague broke out in Bassakesh, the city where Kebezzu next plans to preach, bringing Julyeis, Shapeis and little Sosunda with her. A city where a greater crisis must be resolved.

For as they travel, news arrives that the Emperor has died. He leaves no heir, and no successor. Now the time comes for Loken's father and uncle to make their long-planned bid for the throne. Now Feyn, with Loken and Delesse by her side, must oppose them. With Julyeis's help Kebezzu is captured, Shapeis is rescued from the ferals, and the secrets of Sosunda and the Burning Woman are revealed.

The revelations allows Tuuke the chance to gain his revenge for the terror Loetopas brought to Bassakesh, but to take that revenge and prevent Puusen gaining the throne Loken and Delesse must first agree to risk their liberty, their future together and their very lives in a confrontation with the man who murdered Loken's brother in front of him many years before: his own uncle!

The Gods in the Jungle: you know you've got to read it!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gods In Jungle submissions update #1

I'm gonna record where I send the book, and the responses I get, here on this very blog.

First up to get the chance to reject my tome? The easiest ones to send out to, of course:
- Snowbooks
- Macmillan New Writing

Both of these are publishers; both have very good reputations, with various of their books being shortlisted for various prizes. Both work on the premise that authors submit their entire manuscript with minimal fuss about accompanying pitch packages. Both offer contracts which are a straight share of royalties - no advances. No need for agents, either - if it wasn't for their reputations, I'd probably not have been so eager to submit stuff to them given this sort of contract.

So what are their reputations?

MNW, as part of the Pan Macmillan group, has 'copper-bottom' written all over it. The imprint is specifically for previously unpublished authors. The authors they've launched have been making some sizable waves in the national literary gossip-sphere. If I can catch the eyes of these guys, I'd be ecstatic.

Snowbooks is far smaller, far more intimate. If they choose to take on my book, I'd be working with the one editor through the whole process. And (assuming the copy on their website is still relevant for these changing times) they're very commercially-focussed, doing a lot of work to get the book into the shops and onto the prominent tables in those shops. On the whole I think this balance between close working with authors and a highly professional outlook towards selling the product would make them my ideal publisher.

Fingers crossed, etc.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The publish my book campaign

Getting a book published is a battle. Allies must be sought in the form of an agent. Publishing castles will need to be beseiged until they capitulate. The hearts and minds of a kingdom of readers must be won - and encouraged to buy the book, of course (I won't ask for the full tithe).

But before the campaign begins - a rousing song:

Ooh-rah ooh-rah ooh-rah-ay ee-ay!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Book revision complete!

It's taken me weeks, but the task is done! The tome is revised, spellchecked, revised again - a completely new and much more exciting climax - spellchecked again, grammar checked and ... now it's time to send the bugger off to agents.

Pack your bags and go, book!

But first, a celebration drink ...

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Bollox to the recession!

Are you bored of bad debt? Fed up with fiscal ineptitude? Is the thankless grudge of thrift getting you down?

What you need is a dose of quality poetry! Vim your vocabulary with a verse or two. Pep your pulse with a poem.

Yes, you too can say "Bollox to the recession!" by treating yourself to a book of poems courtesy of those quality merchants of muse No Tell Books. Immersed in a sea of wordscapes, these poets can wash away your worries at the flick of a page.

And don't forget to check out the No Tells Blog for the hottest news on offers and special promotions.

Say Bollox to the recession! with a No Tell tome. I just did, and I feel so good about myself I want to burst with pride!

Note: I have nothing to do with No Tell Books apart from having a lot of respect for the dedication and hard work that Reb and her mates have put into starting and developing their own micropress. The only time I submitted poems to No Tell Motel my work was rejected in a professional and businesslike manner.

If you love diversity in poetry and art, if you believe in freedom for little people to be able to start and build up their own businesses in the face of multinational corporate conglomerates who care only for the profit margin, then you owe it to those plucky risk-takers to at least check out their products - you never know: you might end up finding a book you'll love for the rest of your life!

Go on - there's no harm in checking out the links. You know you want to ...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Is this actiony enough?

The two biggest crits levelled against the start of my book are: 'where's the action?'; and 'where's the story?'

Oh, well. Obviously I'm going to have to rethink my entire marketing-to-agents masterplan. For a start, maybe I should be billing this 130k word tome as literary fiction rather than soft science fiction ...

Anyways, the rewriting of the last 4-5 chapters is almost complete, and I can tell you both that not only is there plenty of story in this ending, there's a bit of action too! But is it enough action?

"Somethings wrong!"

The sharpness of Maeduul's statement made Shapeis turn in his crouch to face her.

"What's happening?"

"Loetopas – he's stood up. He's leaning over Loken, putting something in his mouth."

An image triggered in his mind, a thumb on a little girl's chin, easing it down to allow access for another morsel of dough.

"Is he moving? Is Loken resisting?"

The woman was shaking her head.

"They've used that drug on him," he said, answering his own question. He didn't wait for her response, turning back to sign the news to Tabeed.

"He's seen me! No, he's looking elsewhere, waving ..."


"Shapeis, there's someone else on the roof. A man. He's standing up now – how did I not spot him before? He's moving away."

A cold fist gripped at Shapeis's belly. "Where is he? We've got to stop him – he might be signalling ..."

"Too late: he's waving. Now he's turning, looking back to the room. Loetopas is signalling something ... he's turning again, moving towards us. Oh, bugger Sama Lovare's goat! He's got a gun ..."

It took Shapeis a second to clamber up to where Maeduul crouched. The man was in clear sight, looking around as if searching for something.

"Hide, woman!"

His legs moved without thought, dropping him back down beneath the crest of the roof, moving towards the man, the flat of his belly keeping close to the baked shingles – like the wildcat hunting the goat in one of the peasant dances he'd performed oh so many times for middle aged clients high on lutestran: foot here and hand and foot move and pause and knee to the chest ...

And leap!

Too late, the man had seen him. He was still turning, still bringing his hands and his gun into line with Shapeis as he grabbed at him, pulled him down to his knees. The man was smaller than Shapeis, thinner and lighter. He had him now, had him enfolded in his arms like a client before the rut ...

A noise like the Creator's own handclap erupted between them, clubbing his leg backwards, out and away. Shapeis felt himself stutter, fall backwards, tumble over and under and over the man in his arms. The man was struggling, but he would not let go ...


They were rolling faster now, slipping down the slope to the space beyond. Suddenly Shapeis realised what was happening, where they were heading. He unclasped the man, stretched arm and wrist and finger to grasp for a hold: none came. Still they were sliding, pulling, kicking each other, their course now accompanied by loosened tiles ...

And then they were flying free like Kaya-Brishe, prince of birds, as he tucked into a swoop for the rabbit.

That sound I can hear, decided Shapeis, that must be me screaming ...

What do you both think? Is it actiony enough?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Stop motion with wolf and pig

This I love:

I wish I was creative like that ...