I’ve been here before…

Why we’ve been conspicuous by our absence lately… 😛

Jan Hawke INKorporated

… and there’s NOTHING I can do about it! So there!!! 😛

It’s been one of those weeks where I’m constantly taking one step forward and promptly taking it back to square one – one of those, yeah? It hasn’t helped that this week’s been pretty hot and sticky, with or without the sun out. Not the type of weather I enjoy, although there has been the odd cool breeze to make up for it a little.

Things started off on Bank Holiday Monday OKish – I was having the new kitchen dresser delivered between 1230H – 1530H. So I hauled arse off the computer for that period. They came at 1520H. I wasn’t expecting much, and even then I was disappointed (it was one of those T&C deliveries where all they do is dump the furniture and leave you to unwrap it all, with a customer service card to…

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…use words, not weapons?

Botched the re-blog of this from Jan Hawke INKorporated, so here’s the entire post for solidarity…

As you’ll probably have sussed, current events don’t often appear on this blog, but today is an exception, in that it was supposed to be a day of celebrating friends (my respiratory group is 5 years old this month). I set the alarm early so I could have a nice relaxing bath (with water jets! 😀 ), woke and turned on the bedroom TV only to discover that something terrible happened last night in Manchester.

A bomb went off as thousands of young children and teens were leaving an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena. The blast went off in the foyer/lobby where people were buying souvenirs before going to get on transport home, or back to hotels. 22 are dead – the youngest, only 8 years old. 59 people have been seriously injured, and many more, less so. Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Reaction is pretty much as expected with these things – except there is the added horror at the blatant targeting of such young people and children. There were large groups of children present with their schools or youth clubs.
There are tales of courage and kindness coming out of a subdued and quiet central Manchester today. People helping the wounded and shocked out of the stricken building; passing traffic and taxis ferrying people to safety; strangers offering stranded people a room in their homes, or hotel rooms. And of course the bravery and professionalism of the emergency services and the hospitals.

I went to my celebratory lunch, at a seaside pub as planned. We did not talk about what went on last night. Well, I did not, and I didn’t hear anyone else either. Not out of disrespect, but because some of the people attending have been very ill this year and there was a lot of catching up to be done, and happier things to discuss. But I was thinking about this a lot, which is why I’ve come back home to my keyboard, and onto here to share my thoughts, because words and not weapons are what are needed today and I want mine to last a little longer than the few moments of breath it takes to say them. Or the nano-seconds of the sound of a bomb going off takes to destroy lives and loves.

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, from the play, Cardinal Richelieu

The fluid it spills last longer for one thing, whether or not it’s on paper, or strung out in cyber-space.

Words can, of course, be used as weapons. To repel, to insult, to fight off an attack, or to intentionally wound the soul. They can even kill, but, for the most part, using words postpones violence, literally keeping a path open for dialogue and resolution, rather than conflict. To convey understanding, rather than incite mayhem and pain.
Which found me in the rather strange position of agreeing with something that US President, Donald Trump said.

Don’t call these terrorists ‘monsters’. They’ll like that. They’re losers.

 

I paraphrase, but the statement stands. Words imbue status. Use them carefully.

I leave you with an image I use on social media a fair bit.

It’s a quote, out of context, from one of the tales in ‘Sexing the Cherry’ by Jeanette Winterson. It’s about a city where words have a life of their own. Here’s the quote in case you can’t see the print

the words tumbled him over in their desire to be free, and were seen flying across the city in the shape of doves.

 

Those soft words were supposedly spoken in a frenzy of forbidden love, that resulted in the couple suffocating. They were found by a priest, who made haste to release the deadly words from the small belfry room in the cathedral, with the above results.

So today, instead of keeping my words prisoner in my head, I release them to you in memorial of such a tragic, unwarranted loss of life, and the thought that we must always choose our words well and wisely. As weapons for love, peace, the communion of solace, and to refute all that is savage, hateful and just plain wrong, wrong, wrong.

Drabble drivelling – or defining your opus as ‘Low’ fantasy?

A dark adult fantasy that ventures into territory seldom trodden, where the nature of creation is challenged and remoulded in a travesty of mutilation and degradation. In the world of Ordha, the Anghali and Serifali watch over the Creator’s stolen children, the immortal-souled Shiânfolk. The renegade Ainghal, Droghdurr and his chief servant, the demonic Serifal, Garliath, have other plans; abducting and torturing the bodies, minds and souls of any Shiânfolk who stray from their birthplace. Their aim, to breed an evil army of undead Troichann, so they may subjugate all the mortal souls yet to be born into the world.

click cover to go to Kindle edition
Paperback edition available now too!

RRBC peeps – it’s going on the catalog very soon, so you get review credit there as well! 😀

 

I try to keep my blurb roughly drabble-length these days – 100 words, give or take. However, when it comes to categorising my books, I’m stuck with the usual nonsense of having to choose what neat little genre compartment to shoehorn the work into.

Now usually I’ve blurred the genre boundaries of my books. With Milele Safari it’s mostly literary fiction because it doesn’t entirely fit with horror, romance, action/adventure or war/military/historical fiction. For A Freebooters Fantasy  Almanac, I was on firmer fantasy ground, but it’s also a memoir with a distinctly poetic bent…
Befouled, however, is sitting fairly firmly in the fantasy universe, with ‘dark’, ‘adult’ and ‘epic’ or ‘classic’ riders to take it away from the PG/Disney markets. Except, for some unfathomable reason, the Amazon UK paperback classification is spewing out ‘Low fantasy’ as a ranking category. Low fantasy? That wasn’t even a choice in the options available when I was doing the setup… Curiously, on Amazon.com, the Kindle version is sticking to my preferred options and metadata keywords – so where are they getting ‘low’ from on Amazon UK, ‘cos I certainly didn’t pick it!

What the hell is Low fantasy when it’s at home? I can’t tell you exactly because when you look it up you get a very broad swathe of sword & sorcery, through vid game wannabes, to cutesy-pie, practically kindergarten-level fairies and unicorn fests… Here’s the link I ended up on to illustrate!

Anyhoo… rant over – Befouled has gone on as a competition entry, so they call it what they like so long as it’s eligible. 😀

For those who were asking about whether the Kindle Storyteller 2017 was just for Amazon UK – yes, it is/was (it closes at midnight today, 17th May) BUT, so long as it’s in English, anyone over 18 (or over the age of majority in your region, wherever that is) can enter their book no matter where they live in the world.

Looks like Amazon.com also suffers from not giving out all the options when it comes to entering their competitions as well, although my friend in Montana, managed to cotton on to it. I never would have noticed it, if she hadn’t brought it to my attention so, maybe, there’s not as much competition as I first thought out there?

If I do win the 20,000 quid, they can classify it as any damn thing they like! 😛

Gotta be in it to win it…

… trouble is there’s a lot of competition, and I’m not even ‘properly’ entered yet!

There’s not been an awful lot of publicity, but I’m assuming that most of my indie writer mates are probably aware that Amazon, or to be specific KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) have been running a StorytellerUK2017 contest. I think they’re probably running the competition in other Amazon ‘territories’ as well because it was an American friend who first put me onto it, so it’s also running in the US at least.  The deadline is midnight tomorrow, Wednesday 17th May 2017.

So, I wasn’t going to go in for it, but then had a rush of blood to the head and misread the rules – I thought you just had to enter an eBook and decided that I’d give it a go and do the print version at my leisure. I had a handy piece of off-canon, never written by the original author fan fiction lurking on the forum and decided that I’d do a Freebooter’s treatment of it. Now, before you go saying ‘plagiarism’ or, even worse, 50 Shades of Bullsh*t – this is a franchise that borrows really heavily from Norse, Atlantean and Arthurian myth.  And, as they say, there’s nothing new under Sun, even if you don’t have that celestial object in your created world – yet. Especially where Elves are concerned – they’re all over the place, and nobody has copyright on them. As long as you don’t use other people’s famous names. So I didn’t! 😀

Anyway, long story short, I had a whale of a time using Google Translate in Irish, Welsh, Scots Gaelic, Icelandic and various other Scandinavian roots to look up things like bright, starry folk, dark woods, great oceans and cruel angels, etc. The result is a cobbled together alternative Tolkienesque universe, where my Dark Lords do all kinds of nasssty things to Elveses to make Orcses (only here I’ve used a translation for ‘undead’ and called them Troichann). If you’re a Silmarillion junkie (I’m not, but it’s a fantastic resource for fantasy roleplay! 😉 ), you’ll probably know of this origin story. But, the great thing is – Tolkien never actually wrote anything much about what Morgoth and Sauron got up to in Utumno and Angband, back when the Elves still had to migrate into the West. So it’s not plagiarising, so much as surmising, extrapolating and getting well in touch with your inner megalomaniac demon… 😛

The result is as shown above, and it’s a very dark fantasy with strong, though not graphic, adult sex scenes. The gore and psycho horror are pretty nasty though, so this isn’t for the squeamish, or fans of the PG PJ films.

Anyway, off I trundle to Amazon yesterday tea-time and merrily put the little 70K opus through the KDP eBook wringer, after checking the entry procedure for the contest. Still, I didn’t twig but saw the usual disclaimer about accepting the terms and conditions, with a handy link, which I duly clicked like a good girl.
Horror of horrors, almost the first thing I saw was that you had to put an eBook AND paperback through KDP. Not either/or… After about 5 mins of inventive cursing,  I calmed down and remembered that Amazon/Createspace use Ingram/Lightning Source templates – which I always use for my titles.

Problem sorted. It was hairy, but I put up a quick and dirty print version using the eBook stylesheets in PDF and had a rather testy walk out with the KDP cover creator (very disconcerting doing RGB previews of CMYK visuals – talk about Technicolor on acid!). I got it all through KDP Print this afternoon, and, with luck, it’ll make it onto Amazon for the midnight deadline tomorrow.

Of course, gentle and enlightened reader, you’ll have gathered by now that this is essentially a come on by KDP to get more indies to put their paperback versions through them as well. Which means that Befouled, the print version may become a collectible in years to come, because I’m not going to use KDP for my  regular print work as I’m more than satisfied with Lightning Source’s quality and POD production – they’re worth the modest sum you pay if you’re able to shift for yourself with the typesetting and they’re Amazon’s main POD distributor worldwide anyway.

Oh – and of course, here’s the sales pitch… 😀 It’s an Amazon family competition, so sales and reviews will be part of the judging criteria.

Here’s the link for

Befouled by Siân Glírdan

 

And if you’re able to leave me a review between 20th May 2017 through 1st June 2017 – I’d be very grateful! There’s so far over 1600 people gone in for this (there’s a £20K prize up for grabs and a swanky literary award ceremony in London), so there’s a lot of competition, but not a lot of reviewing going on yet.

You gotta be in it to win it!

HALLELUJAH!!!!! ~ or, ‘It’s about time!’

To say I’m astonished is putting it VERY mildly!

 

The equity release lump sum has come in a day earlier than expected – on Day 2 of the ‘3 working days’ scam! 😛
Am I relieved – you betcha! I was five quid off busting the overdraft limit again, so I’m at least mentally leaping around all over the place just now.

What to do… what to do…

  • take deep,  sustaining breaths…
  • … hyper-ventilate copiously into brown paper bag!
  • make cup of strong sweet tea
  • resist urge to upgrade to latte with lashings of brandy…
  • plan shopping trip to supermarket for slap-up celebration dinner
  • postpone breaking out the pink bubbly until this evening
  • add fave chocs to shopping list!

 

Suffice it to say, dear reader, there will be little actual work done around here today, although the keyboard is going to take a huge battering later on! 😎

Oh yeah – one last little bit of righteous smiting! 😛 I’ve replenished the overdraft buffer zone to the very last penny AND NO MORE THAN THAT. Am now five quid in credit! Suck on that bank! 😀
Am putting all the other funds in the highest interest-bearing tax-free accounts I have…

this dosh is MINE now, money-sharks! MWAHAHAHA!!!!!

Put not your trust in bank holidays…

… for they seldom bring fair weather, nor long-awaited riches 😦

In fact, just stop the purloined Machiavellian paraphrasing at banks, and leave it at that!
My recent financial travails supposedly came to an end last Friday. Yes, that’s right. The day before a bank holiday weekend. How very predictable! *rolls eyes*

To be fair, my solicitors did warn me that ‘it might take up to 3 working days’ for the money to go through. Yes, of course it will, I thought – even though it’s supposed to be 24/7 banking these days.
The irony is, of course, that it never takes too long for money to leave your own, or indeed the minted loan company who’s released my equity for me, bank accounts. That’s done in the blink of an eye, or even less time naturally…

The moment it disappears into the void of the bank handling system’s sticky great mitts however, time ceases to have any urgency at all. The green stuff slows to a snail’s pace, even in cyberspace, and takes its own sweet time to make it through the other side; no doubt accruing wildly compounded interest, and other interesting, swollen increments, for the merchant princes, bureaucrats or generals, who will plead expedience while playing about with your money, from the gilded and cushioned comfort of their capacious coffers.

So anyway, no hay was ever going to made today over receiving my little home improvement bonanza. The rain it hath raineth mightily overnight, and persistently up until the point that my soggy doggie and me returned from yet another muddy, windswept outing to the moors. Now we’re tucked up safe and snug indoors (relatively, because the central heating’s also having a tantrum, despite a delivery of fuel oil on Saturday) and, of course the sun is now attempting to make a token appearance. And the rain has stopped! Just as well Toby likes getting muddy – his towel is almost black.

Maybe my bank balance will also be in the black sometime tomorrow? It is, after all, Day One of the ‘one to three working days’ that bank transfers take to go through. Yes, that’s right. I’m not counting the weekend or today, May Day Bank Holiday, as ‘working’ days.
In fact, I’ll be surprised if my windfall appears in my account before the banks close this coming Thursday. At 3 pm of course. Banking hours having nothing to do with the real world naturally. 😛

This little rant is much less abrasive for receiving my pension a whole 2 days earlier than I thought I would last week. Didn’t stop the bank snarking at me for exceeding the overdraft limit by £20 or so, for all of 2 minutes, of course. I’m now comfortably back in viable funds, so the influx of further riches in the next few days will no doubt incite them to be very nice to me and offer to increase my overdraft limit exponentially… Yeah, right. I’m not holding my breath! I do however have a bottle of pink bubbly on ice for when I get my own sticky mitts on all that dough – tomorrow being another day of course! 😉

#RRBC ~ if it’s worth saying once…

Jan Hawke INKorporated

… then it’s worth repeating! 😀 It’s the time of the month for Recruitment day, so I thought that I’d repeat my New Year’s post, as I’m still celebrating (and making lots of new friends and new favourite authors), even though ‘real life’ has pulled me away from being quite as active in the club than I was last year. Read on, and discover why RRBC is ‘probably’ the best book community on the planet!

It’s the award season of course! However, this isn’t going to be about plaudits for bands, vocalists, or actors of the big, small, and live screens and stages, for the movie and music industries. Just thought I’d put that out there so any celebrity-junkies who’re expecting something glitzy can jump blogs to their usual trysting places. This is about books, first and foremost. All sorts of books, not just fiction, but memoirs, self-help, erotica (well-written

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The joys of a hand to mouth existence…

… don’t make for pretty reading, but it is an interesting state to experience once in a while, so you can legitimately claim to be a writer starving in a garret! *mutters bitterly and at length*

I’m a long way from starvation (obviously), but I do have a ‘cashflow problem’ just now which means I’m maxed out on plastic and online, with only 60 quid in my wallet. The latter will be eaten up (har! har!) tomorrow by petrol money and a good blowout at a local restaurant to celebrate what would have been my 41st wedding anniversary with some friends.
The irony is that this is only a temporary blip as I have $100+ going into PayPal, my pension coming in tomorrow (or next week – not sure if it’s this Friday or next…) and, once my solicitors put a rocket up someone else’s bloody solicitors to get on with providing documentation, over 50 grand winging its way into my savings account. That last windfall ought to have been done and dusted last week and would have meant I’d have cleared the little blip and not had my grocery delivery cancelled today… Just my luck as Adrian Mole would have said!

Anyway – I feel better for a nice moan on here, but this was not the week that I could have done with PayPal having hissy fits with verification of accounts  and cards that I was sure I’d long since finalised, or to discover the hard way that I should have asked for my overdraft to be upped by 300 more quid than I thought I needed. Mea culpa for being so optimistic that sod’s law wouldn’t kick in for this long.

But tomorrow I eat like a creole queen – going to our favourite restaurant where they do a completely wicked gumbo with fish 2 minutes out of the sea! I do have lots of eggs, powdered milk and some bread flour in the larder too, so I’m not going starve over the weekend either! 😛

Hopefully, next week will see a positive flood of filthy lucre flowing my way – if not then maybe I’ll give Trevor’s proposal serious consideration… 😉

#RRBC Springtime Book & Blog Party #Prizes#Books

Welcome to Rave Reviews Book Club’s BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY 

at Siân Glírdan – The Way of the Bard, the main author blog of RRBC Member of the Year 2016, author Jan Hawke! (aka Siân Glírdan) –  😀
Location: N. Cornwall, UK
***
Today’s giveaways are…

  • *One (1) promotional Guest spot on Siân Glírdan – The Way of the Bard (‘Desert Island’ interview or other feature)
  • *One (1) hand-made deck of Jan’s fantasy tarot cards (the Fool, or Trickster is on the wallpaper this month!)

  • *One (1) $/£ 10 AMAZON gift card

making 3 lucky winners for this stop!

Just post a comment on the 14th April to be in the draw to win – good luck!

Slight change of plan with my second giveaway – I dropped the T-Shirt in favour of my exclusively designed fantasy tarot deck as this formed the basis of the cover design of my latest book, A Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac.

Last year I made a decision to start publishing my fantasy titles under the pen name of Siân Glírdan, so, instead of going to my book blogs this time around on the block party tour I’m concentrating on my author blogs instead. Siân Glírdan – The Way of the Bard is my new, dedicated author blog that launched shortly before I published A Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac (AFFA) last summer.

My inspiration for the cover of AFFA came from the major arcana characters of the my fantasy Tarot cards, so I’d like to share with you the various design decisions that led to my choosing The Tower, which made the cut for the final cover decision at the end of the post. The brief was drawn up by my Siân persona and the central ‘character’ in the novel, the elf, Janowyn, who is my main roleplaying alter-ego…

First, we were drawn to the Hierophant card, connected to Norse mythology and the god Odin’s gift for prophecy and creativity. Included in those abilities is the willingness to accept pain and suffering…
This particular image did not sit right with the personality of the book’s central elven persona.

Next we considered the Hanged Man, an ambivalent card, normally speaking of betrayal and again linked to Odin when he was hung upside down from the World Tree, Yggdrasil.
The imagery here was too much associated with the opening scene of the fantasy movie ‘Willow’, and so was passed over.

Odin had become a fixation! The King of Swords was briefly considered as a  warrior persona, until we were sharply reminded that this was about a voyage of self-discovery and not the art of warfare…

As you can see, the final image considered for the cover, The Tower (full colour version), does contain mythological and natural elements that communicate the primary theme of struggle with significant challenges. The stormy sea and lightning speak of overwhelming physical and emotional hardships, whilst the god-like figure of Poseidon and white horses represent the Fates. The battered lighthouse shows a precarious hope for deliverance.
The colour change to grayscale on the skyline, for the final cover solution (see below) also helps to convey the fantasy and real worlds colliding.

MY BOOKS

Milele Safari – An Eternal Journey …twines around a single day, in an unremarkable border village that snuffs out the lives of four people and shatters many others, only to draw the survivors back to a different time and, perhaps, a hope of atonement and peace. Step out on the journey and discover an Africa that could have been, is and might one day come to be.

Editorial Review (Sue Bridgwater) ~ It was Dorothy L. Sayers who noted, in ‘Gaudy Night’, the significance of what she called a ‘chance assemblage of persons.’ Who knows what they might talk about? Who knows what each is privately remembering?
In the ‘present day’ of this debut novel, Jan Hawke exploits the potential of such a gathering to the full. Sophie is our main focus and way into the story, and from the beginning we are aware of her memories of previous times in Africa and the pain and loss she suffered then. Meanwhile, on the surface, she and her companions are enjoying their safari, chatting about animals they have seen, animals they hope to see, battling scorpions and drinking beer.
Just to make it really hard for herself, however, Jan Hawke then delves back not only into Sophie’s personal African tragedy, but into the memories and sorrows of many other characters, into the violent history of genocide and civil war, into myth and folklore and into the tangling together of some of those stories.
This is a bold venture for a first novel, but Hawke knows how to do it. The multiple strands of story, the different time-periods, the pain and the happiness, are skilfully brought together so that events and people are solid and four-dimensional, so that the reader can walk into these histories of love and loss and hope and sorrow, and feel as keenly as if they were there.
While reading, one is always aware of how solidly founded the story is on Hawke’s knowledge of Africa and her love for it. All the details that anchor the tale in our own non-fictional world are the fruit, not of targeted research, but of felt conviction.
This is a book worth reading. In the flood of available fiction in which we feel we may drown, this is one to seize hold of and keep. Buy it.

A Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac ~ a sort of real cyberspace memoir

This is poetry, wrapped in fantasy, within a memoir… Or, to put it another way, it’s a true tale that applies to many fantasy fans and gamers who can’t be bothered with keeping their realities separated from their more lurid inventions. In my case this is a sort of ‘real’ cyberspace profiling, during a phase of my life when roleplay truly did need to be therapy, because what was happening around me for real, was not what I wanted to participate in. So, buckle up your swash and prepare to witness a titanic battle played out on the field of sanity – where what happens in your head is the only truth that matters.

Editorial Review by Ron E. Yates ~ Writing, as any author will tell you, is an intensely personal endeavor. We scribblers pour heart and soul into the scenes and incidents we create or recreate from our own lives. That’s what makes good writing unfeigned and heartfelt and it’s what brings readers back to our work again and again. What Sian Glirdan has compiled in her “Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac”-a work she calls a “sort of real cyberspace memoir”-is a deeply personal examination of her life. She opens the shutters and windows to reveal “struggles with health, achievement, emotion and, most of all, dreams and imagination.” This is not a linear narrative or memoir, but an effort peppered with original poetry, painful recollections of personal tragedy and suffering, and inspiring reminiscences of happiness and exhilaration. It is a book interleaved with both fantasy and reality-a challenging work that will carry the reader on a journey of discovery. It takes courage to write like this because in doing so, Sian Glirdan has opened herself up to great scrutiny. No doubt the impetus for this work is as much catharsis for her as it is an unearthing of emotion for the reader. The following passage I found especially revealing: “In our inner life we are all essentially alone with our thoughts and feelings, although those can be expressed of course.

“In our inner life we are all essentially alone with our thoughts and feelings, although those can be expressed of course. Thoughts however are another matter. We are selective in what thoughts stay that way, unspoken, and which are communicated. In a way this exercise is for my own thoughts that I hold close and don’t necessarily speak them to anyone, but want to get them out there somehow. Therapy if you like, but not to a person as such. My stunted way of steering my own course ‘as fair and true’ as I can manage these days.”

As a true Freebooter Sian Glirdan is taking us, as she says, “Into uncharted waters without a map of any real description, or even an idea of what to expect.” Climb aboard for a cruise into an inspired sea of illusion and imagination, moored by authenticity and unremitting experience.

Other places to find me & my books!

Twitter

Facebook

LinkedIn

Sian Glirdan blog

Dreamworlds Publishing blog

Milele Safari blog

A Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac

and finally a link to the blog for my latest work in progress

The Haven Lands blog

I’m back!

Miss me? This is what I’ve been up to! 😉

Jan Hawke INKorporated

Yes – I’ve been away, so things have been a bit quieter than usual (pauses to watch tumbleweed rolling off…). I’ve had some demolition work done in the living room and needed to get away while it was noisy and dusty, so I decided to decamp off to a ‘little’ thatched cottage in N. Devon where they do Writers Retreats – in style! 😀

I had just 4 days but found it very constructive in that short time in terms of clearing my head and re-assessing how to tackle my long-postponed WIP. The break was brilliant for getting out of my literary-slob routine – having to get up for a proper breakfast, long before noon (it’s a real occasion for me to be out of my pit much before then). Meeting three other writers, 2 historical fiction authors and one academic polishing off a paper was also interesting as well as…

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