Friday, 30 September 2011

Map of Marka

More of a writer than a cartographer, I have finally got around to making a map, marking it up, hoping it looks like a map and, well, here it is.

Trust this is what those who have asked are more or less expecting to see! :-)

Map below:

More will follow now I've learned (some) of the ropes!

This Morning's Walk: Moel Famau

Moel Famau = Mountain of Mothers, Mother Mountain

As the weather is being so nice, couldn't resist this quick up-and-down after finishing work for the week. The air was not quite as clear as I'd hoped, but the walking didn't suffer for that! Pictures below:

 "Red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning," or so goes the old saying. Though I think the red sky is more thanks to the haze that built up overnight than anything else.

 A glimpse of the Jubilee Tower in the strengthening daylight. Surprised to have Famau to myself, there are usually a few people up here at 7am.

The Jubilee Tower, which gives Moel Famau its distinctive - and instantly recognisable - shape. It was built for the Golden Jubilee of George III in 1810.

Looking down my ascent path from the summit.

Looking towards the Berwyns from the summit; Foel Fenlli in the centre of the picture.

The redness fades from the sky as the sun rises above the haze.  The mountains of Snowdonia refused to come out of hiding, sadly.

Links of interest:
Moel Famau - Wikipedia
Moel Famau - Forestry Commission

Until the next walk, be well all!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Weekly Writing Update

Well, Markan Empire is now out in the bad world to make its way in life as best it can. This now leaves me free to concentrate on the next books.

The follow on from Gifted Apprentice. This is tentatively entitled Bounty Hunter, but I will have to find another title, as that one is already used. One thing to use another book's title unknowingly, but to do it when you know there's already a book out there with the same title...  This second novella deals with Sallis ti Ath's journey from his island home to the mainland, where he seeks work as a bounty hunter. The new title will suggest itself as the work progresses.

Book Three of the Markan trilogy, Markan Sword.  Two chapters and the prologue are already written and work is progressing nicely on Chapter 3. I'm managing to get somewhere between 1500 and 3000 words down a day, which isn't bad.  A pity that the editing takes many of them away again, lol.

Beyond these two books, plans are already forming for the next trilogy, which might be set elsewhere on the ilvenworld, or be a continuation from the existing trilogy.  There are also more novellas in the planning stage.

And that's about all I have for you this week!

Markan Empire Links

Links and cover art for Markan Empire uploaded to the blog and can be found to the right.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Markan Empire released

Markan Empire is now unleashed on the big wide world!

Sequel to Markan Throne.

"New enemies plot and old enemies wait."

Available at:
Amazon (US)
Amazon (UK)

Permanent links coming soon!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Today's Walk: Barmouth to Harlech along the Ardudwy Way

As this is a brand new footpath, only launched on Monday (19th September), I couldn't wait to try it out.  Have already walked most of it as part of one walk or another and the plan was to walk it end to end today, before the nights draw in.

Sadly, the weather had its own ideas, but did complete the two southern sections.  Photos below:

 A very grainy picture of the Mawddach Estuary from Bwlch y Llan.  Still hardly light yet - only just switched my headtorch off!

Cerrig Arthur Stone Circle, one of the many Neolithic remains dotting this area.

Pont Fadog, already looking autumnal.

View through trees and ferns at Pont Fadog.

Pont Scethin, on the old coach road. A pretty wild spot today in the rain and wind.

Looking back towards Llyn Erddyn, glimpses of which are just to the left of centre.

The slopes of Moelfre, free from cloud for a few moments.  Hoped the weather was breaking, but no luck with that one!

The River Cwmnantcol.

After the picture of the river, the rain closed in, and the camera was put away into my rucksack.  After deciding to turn to Harlech, managed to take a couple more pictures.  This is looking north from the lane leading into Harlech.

And Harlech Castle, taken from - for me at least - an unfamiliar angle.

Now the nights are drawing in, this will probably be my last attempt at this walk before next Spring. Sometimes discretion is better than rashly pressing on when the rain gods are in charge!

Other links of interest:

The Ardudwy Way

Until the next walk, be well all.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Saturday's Walk: Circular from Betws-y-Coed via Dolwyddelan

Todays rather damp walk was relatively low level, taking me from Betws-y-Coed over to Dolwyddelan via the abandoned Rhiwddolion and back to Betws via Capel Curig. 

Low-level walks tend to be very popular, but two maps (OL17 & OL18) are needed for this one.  That alone helps keep the crowds away!

Pictures below:

 Afon (River) Llugwy in angry mood.  Taken from Pont-y-Pair in Betws-y-Coed.

A mound on the path towards Miners' Bridge.  This was my first conquest (aged 5).

Afon Llugwy from Miners' Bridge.

A small waterfall, usually nothing but a trickle, at Miner's Bridge.

The scattered and deserted hamlet of Rhiwddolion.  Once populated by miners and their families, the last occupant left in 1974.

A rare glimpse of hills free from cloud.

The hills in the distance are the ones I intended to walk for Plan A.  The weather dictated otherwise (if you want to see pictures, that is!)

A leaning signpost in the forest above Dolwyddelan.  The track to Capel Curig is my way today.

Autumn colours turning the ferns.  Another couple of weeks and this hillside will be a blaze of colour.  Maine it ain't, but the autumn leaves still impress.

A glimpse of Moel Siabod from the road back from Capel Curig.  The true summit is still hidden in cloud.

A shot of the Swallow Falls thundering through the Llugwy valley.  No shortage of water here.

The Miners' Bridge in sunshine.

Links of interest:


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Overcoming Writers' Block

Some fellow writers have asked if I ever suffer from this problem and how to deal with it.  Personally, this is not something I've ever had and doubt if it really exists (but ask me sometime about "blog block!").  There is no mysterious force at work that somehow stops writers from functioning.

A drying up of the creative juices is another matter.  It's usually caused by a break from writing, or some emotional turmoil in our private lives.  The very best advice for any writer whose creativity has withered is the old mantra: write every day.

When writing, I find that ideas keep coming, together with fresh plot ideas and new characters.  Sometimes the problem is how to fit them all in!  But this is not the case for everybody and many writers dread staring at the blank page.

But dread not, there are tips a writer can use to get scribbling again.

Most of us are genre writers and a few even write in more than one genre.  When facing the blank page, the questions we must ask to get the creative juices flowing again are: what, where, when, how and who, whom (these last two are counted as one for reasons I'll explain below).

What is the story about?  What genre, what motivates the characters?

Where does the story take place? If in a building, what sort? Is there a floor plan? If a fantasy realm, do any maps need drawing, or perhaps some customs and idiosyncracies need fleshing out?

When is the story set? Historical, contemporary or futuristic?

How is the plot executed? Is it character or event driven? Which characters or events drive the story forward? Are there any set pieces (eg battles, murders) and how will these shape up?

Who, whom? This is Lenin's maxim and is as valid to a story as it is to revolutionary fervour.  Who are the protagonists, whose eyes do we look through as the story unfolds? Who is doing what to whom? Are there underdogs and victims? Is there payback?

In brief, to overcome writers' block (we'll call it that for convenience), a writer must write every day, even if she throws it away the day after.  And to get the plot moving, or formed, always consider the basic questions: what, where, when, how and who, whom.

Happy writing!

Markan Empire Plotlines

The second book of the Markan trilogy, Markan Empire is the sequel to Markan Throne.  As with the first book, there are several plotlines in Empire.

The continuing theme of the story tells how Marcus Vintner wins his throne.  The Senate is unwilling to let the sylph-emperor Zenepha step aside in Marcus's favour.  If anything, Zenepha is seen as the victor over the Eldovans and Hingast.  The politicking of the Sandester Vintners is also working against Marcus. In Sandester, Nazvasta, the brother of the murdered Branad, is tempted to lay claim to the throne for himself.

To help keep Marcus's claim alive, Zandra keeps applying pressure to the Guilds and powerful families of Marka.  But all she gets are promises to support Marcus only when Zenepha steps down.

To the west, the Eldovan army has not returned home.  It has resupplied and brought even more men forward from Eldova.  Strangely, the Eldovans claim they are led by Hingast, a very dead man whose remains hang in cages at Marka's gates.  Detachments are sent out from Marka, but they have not yet discovered the Eldovan's intentions.  Belaika is one of the sylph scouts sent far to the west and suffers the indignity of becoming the first sylph to be captured by the enemy.

Kidnapped at the end of Markan Throne, Sandev is now held prisoner by the Eldovans.  She has not remained idle during her captivity, but is doing her best to exploit the divisions and differences she can find.

But there is worse news for Marka.

A new enemy now threatens from the east.  Re Taura is a large island standing off the main continent.  Its ruler fears a resurgent Marka and plots with the Eldovans to seize the lucrative trade in the Bay of Plenty.  Marka sends Neptarik to Re Taura to try and learn what they are planning.  But all spies in Re Taura have so far been caught, so Neptarik's mission is more dangerous than even he had suspected.

With enemies west and east, Marka is still in danger.  Marcus Vintner is still to gain the throne he covets and which is rightfully his.

Markan Empire is now complete and will be published as an ebook on Amazon and Smashwords at the end of September.

There are sample chapters on their own page above, and five chapters are available on my Independent Author Network page.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Today's Walk: Penmaenpool to Barmouth

As the forecast was wet and windy, I took a lower route option for this walk.  A good job I did as the cloud lifted from the ridges for only moments at a time.  Despite the rain, managed to get a few shots.  Pictures below:

Autumn is coming!  As leaves on this Virginia Creeper show.

Diffwys is in that cloud somewhere.  Not many photo ops up there today.

Looking back towards Y Garn.  I've just passed the swampiest part of the walk, in a shallow depression between two minor tops.

Looking across the valley towards the Cadair Idris range, also in cloud.

Deserted farmhouse along the way.

For a while, I thought the weather was breaking. The cloud has lifted off some of the hills, but the rain soon returned.  About two minutes after I took my waterproofs off!  This shot is looking inland, with Dolgellau out of sight behind the shoulder of the hill.

 A view of Cadair Idris.  This was about the highest the cloud managed for the duration of the walk.

No walk of mine is complete without a picture of a babbling brook!  The ridge in the background leads towards Barmouth from Diffwys.

 Another view of the Cadair range, with an abandoned barn in the foreground.

A gloomy shot up the Mawddach Estuary, looking inland.

The bridge trolls are still extorting  collecting money, but these fierce-looking yet shy creatures will be hibernating soon.

Looking inland from the Mawddach Trail.  This was a rare quiet moment, as there was some sort of sponsored walk going on today.  This was my return to Penmaenpool; my outward leg was along the path beyond the hills on the other side of the river.

And by turning around from the same spot, looking back towards Barmouth.  Yes, that's blue sky.

Zoomed in on Barmouth Bridge.

The hill in the middle of the picture is Foel Ispri, where I walked a fortnight ago.

There you have it, today's walk.  This is my first long-ish one since I was in Scotland a little more than a month ago.  Despite the weather trying its hardest, this was far from a miserable day out.  There were showers, and the cloud remained stubbornly low, but there's not too much hanging out to dry in my laundry room!

Until the next walk, be well all. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Writing Update

Apologies for the scarcity of blog postings at the moment!  Publication of Markan Empire draws ever nearer, and the final read-through is almost finished.  The cover artwork has been released to the wider world and the book will appear at the end of this month.

Because of this frenetic activity, work on Markan Sword and Bounty Hunter has been pushed to one side, but work on these books will continue very soon.

And that's about all I've got to report this week!

Be well all.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

This Morning's Walk - Mynydd-y-Gaer (Hill of the Fort)

Not my longest walk today, but certainly a pleasant outing for a couple of hours.  I don't have an OS map of this area, an oversight I'll be correcting very soon!  Pictures below:

 A mist filled Vale of Clwyd.  This often happens in early Autumn after a night of rain followed by clear skies.

Looking west to Snowdonia.  Cloud is already gathering there, waiting for the next front and more rain.  Carnedd Llywelyn is prominent to the right, Tryfan to the left.

Mist lingering in the Vale of Clwyd.

Looking east to the Clwydians.  Moel Famau is left of centre.

Looking down at Llanefydd, start and finish point of my walk.

Looking north to Rhyl.

Other links of interest:

Hawk & Buckle Inn