January Review

So what happened in January – it started well, but finished on something of a low.

Locked Down is out for review, and the ebook is up for pre-order, the paperback will be up shortly, but Amazon doesn’t allow books to be pre-ordered if they are print on demand, seems odd, but it’s their game, their rules.  So that will be joining the ebook shortly.  I have one review on Goodreads already, so that’s good, and I’ll have to start the promotional stuff soon.

I have been working on Speed of Aether, but to steal a friends comment, Spead of Aether isn’t warp speed.  I’m behind where I wanted to be with this novel at this point.   I’ve reached 46k words, but I should have finished the book by now.

This isn’t because of the book, it is all the distractions, self-publishing especially.

I also took a week out of writing Speed to do a 5,000-word short story for an open competition I heard about. Now the bones of that were down quickly, but it took a fair amount of polish.  The problem was, I didn’t submit it because the feedback I got included the fact that I’d misrepresented a certain fetish.  And after looking into that fetish a bit more, I got the point.  I had.  And though the story was still a good read if you knew nothing about the fetish, I didn’t think it was the right thing to do to put it out there.  So more research needed.  Then I’ll re-write it, ignore the 5k limit and I suspect at some point it will be coming out as a novella.

I’m also down on wordcount, because I have barely been able to work on anything this last week.  I’m picked up a lung infection from somewhere and it’s laid me very low.  I can’t take a deep breath without it making me cough, movement or any form or exertion leaves me breathless – now I admit I’ve not been fit for a while, but I could walk up a flight of stairs without it making me call for oxygen, can’t do that right now. It’s seriously affected my ability to concentrate too.  You wouldn’t believe how long it’s taken to write this blog. Still, it’s an infection, I have been prescribed antibiotics and it will pass.  I just wish it would pass faster.

This year I promised myself that I would read and listen to more.  At least one audiobook and one paperback a month.  It doesn’t sound like much, but both are things that have suffered due to my full schedule.

This month I listened to “The Invisible Library” by Genevieve Cogman. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, Irene and Kai are such fun and the story had plenty of interest points to keep me listening.  The only downside was the narrator, her breathy voice worked well in some places and in others (which was, unfortunately, most places) it annoyed me.  It was like listening to a vicious argument spoken like an M&S Foood advert – This isn’t, an, argument, this, is, an M&S argument.  Really there are times when you want the action to feel active and that narrator lost that impact for me a few times.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great book, I’d recommend reading it, I wouldn’t want to put you off listening to the audio either, but it was only a 4* for me.

This month I’ve mostly read an unpublished manuscript – which was brilliant!  It needs polish but if the author does what they need to do to get it published, I’m sure it will go down a storm. I’ve also read about half of “A Time for Silence” by Thorne Moore, very good Welsh-centric book. and part of “Dawn’s Early Light” by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, one of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels.  These are very different genres and very different storytellers.  But that’s been a good thing because I’ve been able to match what to read to how I was feeling.  Both have their good points, have to admit I’m enjoying the steampunk more as it a joyous adventure story, but there’s a more of an emotional connection with Thorne’s characters.  To be honest, there’s a character in there that I really don’t like, mostly because he reminds me of people I know. But isn’t that what the writers set out to do, entertain and evoke an emotional response?

Anyway, that’s me done for now. I’m going to listen to some “Mortal Engines” now, as that’s about all I have the energy for. I’ll catch up with you as soon as I can.

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In the Bleak was Midwinter

I’ve been too quiet of late on my blog, and for that I’m sorry.  I’ve not, in fact, fallen off the edge of the earth.  I’ve been very busy.  The day job’s been taking a lot of energy, especially the commute, that’s really getting to me again. And I’ve been working hard, there’s the preparing for publication, preparing for agent submissions, arranging/attending events, the writers’ circle, the holiday season, the tax return, reading, and, of course, writing.

You may know that I’ve always self-published my steampunk work, but now I’m self-publishing “Locked Down”, the last of the Locked Trilogy, so getting covers and blog tours and everything else sorted for that has taken me some time.  I’m still waiting on the final artwork, but that’ll be with me soon, then I can put the paper back up for pre-order.  The eBook is already there for pre-ordering if you want it, find it at: Locked Down

I also finished the re-writing of another novel, stand-alone this time.  This one I wanted sorted as I sent it to an agent and wanted to be sure that it was ready and polished.  Though I suspect it’ll need other checks and edits yet.  The agent’s had it for a while, but I’m still hopeful.

I’ve also been arranging events, not just for me, but for other authors too.  That takes a fair amount of time and effort and an awful lot of e-mailing.  Can’t reveal the details yet, but I’ll be posting them up as soon as I can.

The rest, I’m sure you can appreciate just how absorbing they can be.  Still, enough of the poor me for now.

The other thing I haven’t mentioned above is friends.  Yes, shocking I know, but yes, I do actually have friends.  And I’ve been spending some time with them.  It’s surprising how many people I’m friends with who walk with the Black Dog and Christmas is always a bad time for such suffers, so there have been a lot of supportive chats going on in the background.  People I’ve helped and those who have helped me.  I just want to say a thank you to them and to let them and others know, that if you need me, I’m here.  Even if all you want is to unload, I’m here for you any time you need me to be.

Well, that’s it from me at the moment, I’ll blog again as soon as I can.

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The Third is Coming

Yes, it’s true, the third is coming.  “Locked Down” will be published by HanWill Publishing on February 18th 2019.  Here’s what you can see, the cover:

Locked Down cover

 

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A Halloween Tea Party for Unmarried Victorian Ladies

I found this from Mimi Matthews, and I found it fascinating, so I’m glad to say Mimi has permitted me to share it here, pictures and all.  If this stuff interests you, recommend following Mimi, and I have to say I was also connected to this particular story because one of her sources is also a ‘local’ paper to me.

Guest blog from Mimi Matthews:

Ladies Taking Tea by Joseph Scheurenberg, n.d.

In the Victorian era, Halloween parties were rife with games designed to help young ladies see into their marital futures. These games were generally played at co-ed Halloween celebrations. There were even some which could be played by gentlemen. The bulk of these games, however, were geared toward marriage-minded females. It is therefore not surprising to find descriptions of Halloween parties—or Halloween Teas—that were strictly for women.

The November 5, 1898 edition of the Western Mail describes a Halloween tea held by a young lady by the name of Anna Leighton. Miss Leighton is reported to have invited sixteen of her female friends to “an early candlelight tea.” The guests arrived to find the Leighton’s parlor decorated with autumn leaves, fruits, nuts, and ears of corn. There were jack-o-lanterns arrayed on the mantel and candles burning under crepe paper shades. As the article relates:

“The decorations of the dining-room were unusually pretty, the walls being draped in soft red and yellow, with wreaths and garlands of autumn flowers and leaves gracefully festooned on the wall, and from each corner were suspended Jack-o’-lanterns cut from immense pumpkins.”

Wax candles illuminated the table and, beside every place setting, there was a cluster of red and yellow roses tied with ribbons and accented with a “silver horsehoe stick-pin” that could be taken home as a souvenir. In addition, attached to each set of roses, was a hand-painted card which revealed the respective guest’s fortune. The Western Mail reports that one such card was drawn with four-leaf clovers and read:

“The man you’ll marry is full of pluck;
He has gone to Klondyke and had good luck.”

Teatime by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta, n.d.
(Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana)

In keeping with the holiday theme, the menu for the Halloween tea consisted primarily of “nuts, fruit, and candy.” The guests were also served “fancy cakes” and ices which contained “either a needle, thimble, dime, or ring.” According to the Western Mail:

“The needle and thimble indicated that the ones who happened to take them would remain spinsters for another year; the dime and ring meant either an engagement or marriage.”

There were other chances for young ladies to divine their romantic futures, many of which revolved around cups of tea. For example, to find out how many years she might have to wait until she married, a young lady balanced a dry spoon on the edge of her teacup. A second spoon was filled with tea and “holding it above the balanced spoon,” she slowly dropped the tea into the first spoon until it overbalanced. Each drop represented a year.

Another tea-related marriage game was said to reveal how soon one’s lover might call. As the Western Mail explains:

“If a tea stalk floats in the cup it is called a lover, and when this is seen maids should stir their tea very rapidly round and round, and then hold the spoon upright in the centre of the cup. If the tea stalk is attached to the spoon and clings to it he will call shortly, and maybe, this very evening; if the tea stalk goes to the side of the cup he will not come, and you will not have a proposal this year.”

After an evening of tea drinking and marriage forecasting, the young ladies at Miss Leighton’s party gathered around a coal fire and roasted marshmallows. They then told ghost stories. The young lady who told the scariest story was awarded a prize consisting of a pair of toy slippers accompanied by a card which read:

“Before retiring to-night,
Place your slippers in the form of a T.
And to-night you, your love will see;
The colour of his hair and the suit he will wear
The night he is wedding to thee.”

Tea Party by Louis Charles Moeller, 1905.

Though I’m not a fan of the endless games of marriage forecasting, I confess that the idea of a Halloween tea party for ladies does sound appealing. I hope some of you might consider reviving the tradition. Who knows? If we all take part, one day Gallowen might even become popular enough to rival Galentine’s Day.

*Author’s Note: If you’d like to learn more about Victorian Halloween parties or Victorian tea parties, please see these articles from my archives:

A Victorian Halloween Party
An Informal Afternoon Tea

Mimi Matthews is the author of  The Pug Who Bit NapoleonA Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, and The Lost Letter. She researches and writes on all aspects of nineteenth century history—from animals, art, and etiquette to fashion, beauty, feminism, and law. 

Sources

Beard, Linda. How to Amuse Yourself and Others. New York: Scribner & Sons, 1893.

Chambers, Robert. Ed. The Book of Days. London: W. R. Chambers, 1832.

Ingalls’ Home and Art Magazine,Vol. IV. Lynn, Mass: J. F. Ingalls, 1891.

Leslie, Frank. Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, Vol. 40. New York: Frank Leslie Publishing, 1895.

Western Mail (Glamorgan, Wales), 05 November 1898. © British Library Board.


Thanks again to Mimi for allowing me to share and to you for reading this.

 

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Busy, Busy, Busy

I’ve been very quiet on the blogging front of late, but that’s mostly because I’ve been flat out in other respects.

Thought June I was working frantically to get “Echoes of Aether”, which has turned out very well for me.  I’m loving writing this series and it is being well received.  I had a lovely review from Never Was Magazine.

Through July I was away for a week on a training course for work.  Intense, but useful.  I was also desperately trying to organise several talks in South Wales for Dr Noirs Travelling Crime Show.  If you’re interested, here are the dates:

Date Venue Authors Time
24/10/2018 Octavos,
West Bute Street,
Cardiff,
CF10 5LJ
Micheal J Malone,
Matt Johnson,
Quentin Bates,
Rosie Claverton
7pm
25/10/2018 Waterstones
The Old Carlton Cinema,
17 Oxford St,
Swansea
SA1 3AG
Micheal J Malone,
Matt Johnson,
Quentin Bates,
GB Williams
7pm
26/10/2018 Theatr Mwldan,
Bath House Road,
Cardigan
SA43 1JY
Micheal J Malone,
Matt Johnson,
Alis Hawkins
7pm

 

Then there were the events to attend.

In July there was Harrogate, which was fun though I used it more as a weekend off than as a writers festival, mostly because I was shattered.  We found some lovely eateries in Harrogate, can whole-heartedly recommend Major Toms.

Asylum outfit

Then there was all the sewing that I had to do for my costume for the Asylum Steampunk Festival.  I haven’t fired up a sewing machine in a very long time and it took me a while, but I got it all done.  And then, of course, there was Asylum itself.  A wonderful weekend, four talks, four days of trading, and the best news of all, I did so well with the sales, I sold out of two titles.  I’ve had to quickly order more as I still have three events in September and four more in October to do.

Now I have to go, more writing to do.

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Echoes of Aether – Cover Reveal

Well, here it is, the wonderful cover for Echoes of Aether. Love that the wonderful guys at Deranged Doctor Designs have done, this is such a stunning design:

2017-1185 Gail Williams B02

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The Short, The Heard and The Words

I swear it was only May last time I looked, now it’s July, so come on, who stole June?

Through May I was manic with events: Llandeilo, Newcastle and Crimefest, but June has just disappeared.

June was supposed to be a rest and relax month, which it has and hasn’t been. I was away from home for two weeks of the month.  The first week I was away, we were off in our new campervan – which was fabulous! Can’t wait to do more of that.

We were in West Wales, so internet was patchy and we were so busy doing stuff I didn’t have much time for writing.  I did some, but a holiday is supposed to be a holiday from all the usual things. Though I have to say, some of the visits were to places that will be appearing in my next novel. Came back from that feeling human again.  The second week was actually me going away on my own for a training course – day-job related.  It was intense and valuable and was been the kick in the pants I needed to get my head on straight for the day-job again.

But somehow within all of that I have managed to;

  • write a ‘short’ story – max word count of 8K, mine is 11K, so some editing to do there;
  • get invited to write an audio play – that’s still at the earliest stages so I’ll keep the rest to myself for a minute – it’s a 2019 project so you’ll hear more then;
  • start my latest crime novel;
  • do some polishing on an existing novel;
  • finish the edit on my second steampunk book, Echoes of Aether.

I’m quite happy about that.

Echoes of Aether is the next adventure in the life of Miss Amethyst Forester as she navigates the fortunes and misfortunes of Victorian London high society and the perils of politics which would destabilise that world as she’s coming to know it.

I’ll reveal the amazing cover art from Deranged Doctor Designs on July 12th.

cover reveal 01

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