Monday, 28 February 2011

Foel Fenlli photos

Very cold first thing.  I hoped to catch a sunrise, but the weather was a little too cloudy for that, alas.  Took the tripod with me, but it had to be held steady as the wind was still fairly strong.

Foel Fenlli is one of several hilltop forts in the area and was still occupied as late as the Roman period.  A large number of forts are concentrated in the Clwydian area, suggesting this has been a border, or a site of strategic significance, for a long time.

 Looking east, across industrial Flintshire, across the Wirral and towards Liverpool.  A fifteen second exposure (maximum my camera allows) and would have been happier with thirty seconds or more!

 Same shot, about twenty minutes later, in stronger light.  (For me, anyway)

 Looking north to Moel Famau.  The red lights are on the Moel-y-Parc television transmitter.  The squarish lump on the summit is Jubilee Tower (see Posting from February 15th).

Looking west onto Rhuthun (Ruthin).  Light is getting better all the time.  Sadly, the Snowdonia mountains were hidden in cloud.

The path that drops steeply off the Foel Fenlli summit.  The Offa's Dyke Path joins here.  There was just enough of a frost this morning to make the steps slippery.

And that's your lot!  Until the next walk posting, anyway.

Be well all.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Photos from today's walk

A bit of a soggy start this morning, but managed to get a few pictures:

Mawddach cycle route, near the beginning of my walk.

View from Fegla Fawr.  The railway bridge is the same one from last week from a different angle!

View east from Fegla Fawr.  This was probably the highest point that was not in cloud!

Looking towards the Llyn from Fegla Fawr.

Barmouth from Fairbourne Beach.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Opening Lines

Lots of writers are unsure precisely where to begin their book.  Some wags out there are already thinking "at the beginning!", but sadly writing life is never quite as simple as that.  Will the book move forward in a continuous timeline, or hop about in a series of flashbacks, or even flashforwards?

My own tends to move forward in a continuous timeline, though there are sometimes flashbacks when a character is mulling things over.

But the opening lines can also cause endless headaches.

I quite liked how Robert Jordan handled this in his "Wheel of Time" series, where every book began with a wind.  It was a way of setting the scene and taking the reader to where the story proper began.  So, originally, I adapted the idea, and "Markan Throne" began like this:

"From the deepest, coldest recesses of space, the blue-green world, streaked grey and white, hurtled along its orbit, sharing its passage with one large rocky satellite and a much smaller one of metallic grey.  This jewelled world sped in a permanent dance with other, fainter siblings around a flaming ball of fire, a many-armed creature sending its reach towards the world, always trying and always failing to swallow it.  Dust and stones, caught in the dance, punched into the cushion of gas surrounding the bright globe, unaware and uncaring of their impending doom.  Heating red, heating white, the unwitting dancers ceased to exist in a cascade of coruscating candescence."

And bump, the reader was taken to the Ilvenworld.

Except I was never really happy with it.  And if the author is not going to be happy with it, his readers certainly won't be.  More than a hundred words, right at the beginning of the book, where nothing at all happens to move or tell the story.  And that's not the only drawback.

If every book started with this, I'm stuck with the time of year when every book must start, and that will not always be convenient.  So I dropped the idea.  It works well in some circumstances, but not in this case.

So "Markan Throne" begins like this:

"Belaika shivered in the pre-dawn gloom and stared up at the heavens, mouth open with wonder at the display of shooting stars.  While his silver-grey eyes were turned upward, his ear-points twitched as he waited for the whistle that must come, informing him of the intentions of his master's enemies."

This opening paragraph has fifty-three words, half the previous effort.  More importantly, a lot of information is packed into it, (hopefully) more intriguing to the reader.  It is still the same time of day, we still have the shooting stars.  We know something is about to happen, at any moment, when the news is "whistled" in.  And the person waiting for it is certainly not of this world.  Ear-points?  Silver-grey eyes?  And there are enemies.  There is conflict.

The opening lines are the most important of any fiction book.  Readers make up their own minds as quickly as that whether or not they want to read on.

Until next time...

PS  I've seen an update on the artwork for the ebook cover.  It's coming along nicely.  When I have it, I'll share it.  That's a promise.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Walk above Barmouth

Weather was a lot better than expected this morning, so I managed to get out with the camera.

Walked above Barmouth, in southern Snowdonia.  Only a (for me) short walk of about eight miles, but it certainly cleared all the mental cobwebs!!

Looking up the River Mawddach while crossing Barmouth railway bridge.

Looking towards Barmouth.

Upper Mawddach Estuary, looking east.

Looking across towards the Cadair Idris Range - Cadair is often shy at this time of year!  Mobile/cell phone masts are a mixed blessing.  On the one hand they can spoil the view, but on the other, I rely on the mobile network for my internet!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

...but still not light enough for photos!

Yesterday's pre-bed walk was chilly, frosty and just a wee bit too dark for photographs.  I should have taken my tripod as I needed 2-3 second exposure.  Not even a digital camera can eliminate all that shake!!  I did try though.

But the days are lengthening.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The days are drawing out...

I love this time of year.

The lights stay off every day a little later and there is a glimmer of daylight in the mornings when I'm driving home (for those who don't know, I work nights).  The birds are claiming their territory and I know it is time to start my morning walks again.

One of my hobbies is walking and I'm fortunate to live close to the Clwydian Range.  Although not classic mountains in the sense of the Alps or Appalachians, they certainly provide excellent short - and steep - walks.  Just the thing after a night's graft and before bed.

The picture is of the Jubilee Tower on the summit of Moel Famau that recently celebrated its bicentennary.  Built in 1810 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of King George III (yes, that King George), it originally stood even higher, but a lot of it came down during a storm.  And they say shoddy workmanship is new!

The views extend from Blackpool in the north, across the Cheshire Plain to the east and most of Snowdonia is in sight to the west.  The south has views of the rest of the Clwydian range.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

While waiting for the artwork.

I'm just waiting for my bookcover to be finished, then I'm ready to upload the finished book.  Proofreading is done, am having another quick readthrough (there's always something you miss) and I'm preparing the blurb.

The blurb?

Well, all right, it's not like a book printed on dead trees, but a blurb is still required.  This is in two parts, pretty much like a film trailer.  OK, OK, like the principles behind a film trailer.  There is the hook:

"The man who won the right to it in battle.  The man who demanded it through hate.  The sylph who didn't want it.  Markan Throne."

That's the hook.  Because the book is called Markan Throne, I won't need to repeat the title when I upload the blurb.  I only mention it here because this is the first time on the blog that I've named the book.

So, after the hook, there is the blurb proper.  Mine is going something like this:

"Two rival claimants to the empty Markan Throne meet in battle.  When Marcus Vintner defeats his cousin Branad, it seems that the matter of the claim is now settled.  But when General Kelanus is accused of murder, Marcus is implicated and all claims to the Throne are suspended.

"Zenepha, an intelligent and literate sylph, is plunged into the depths of Markan politics when he is thrust unwillingly onto the Throne.  A third claimant named Hingast is on his way to Marka, determined to press his claim and prepared to use force to get his way.

"Marcus and Kelanus must prove their innocence before it is too late and the Throne again falls into abeyance..."

And that's the blurb.

Hopefully next time, I'll be able to show off the bookcover.  Be well all.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Proofreading is done :-)

At last, I finished the proofreading!  As always when you run through a book, you find things that could do with a little improvement.  Whether it's tidying up a sentence (some of my constructions can be a little unwieldy at times), eliminating repeated words, or even wiping out tautology, going over work can only improve it.

The book is now ready to be merged into one long document and it is nearly ready for uploading.

Watch this space...