Visions Of A Dragon

I’m guessing it won’t come as much of a surprise that I’m something of self-professed nerd.

Amongst my nerdy pursuits is LARP (or Live Action Roleplaying – see here if you don’t know what it is).

Some years ago now, I was a plot writer for the LARP system I was involved with, and, as part of a plotline, I produced several nursery rhymes, which were recorded – with suitably disturbing child-like voices – by a friend, Phil Callan.

In 2010, Phil decided to produce his first ever album – Visions Of A Dragon – a collection of folk songs inspired by celtic traditions and stories from LARP. Phil and another friend, Michelle Cleland, adapted one of the nursery rhymes I’d written – Hurry Now, Make No Sound – into a song for the album.

Phil has since started his own independent music and audio production company. He’s recently re-mastered Visions Of A Dragon – including my little nursery rhyme, and, more importantly, a load of awesome songs by talented musicians – and made it available for the general public to purchase.

You can find out more about the album and its history here on the Red Banner Studios website.

The album is available to buy on Bandcamp here.

54 and counting

Back on 1 January, my to do list for the year included “Read at least 26 books and cut down my backlog of unread books (now over 300 thanks to Christmas presents).”

As of last night, according to my Goodreads profile, I’d read 54 books. As I’ve stated before, the actual figure is about 10 or so higher as I don’t list on Goodreads any books that I’ve read for research for risk of spoilers about what may happen in my own books in the future.

Book 53 was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. A book that I’d received as a present back in my teens, which had continually been pushed back on my reading list thanks to my tendency to buy more books than I read (hence the backlog of a few hundred unread books). I enjoyed it. I suspect, I’d have enjoyed it more back in my teens though.

Book 54 was The End, the conclusion to A Series of Unfortunate Events. A Series of Unfortunate Events really lends itself to being read aloud, convenient as I had been reading it to my daughter when she was in utero, and have continued since she came into the world. We both seem to have enjoyed the series. With A Series of Unfortunate Events now complete, we’ll be moving on to the complete works of Lewis Carroll.

Although you’d think from the numbers that I was making a dent in that backlog, 42 of the books I read this year were bought in the past two years. Three of the books – the aforementioned Dragonflight, Macbeth and The Survivor by James Herbert – have been on my bookshelves since my teens, so at least I’m finally getting through some of the oldest books.

Of the 54, 14 books were read after the birth of my daughter. It’s more than I predicted I’d read in the second half of the year. It’s probably down to the majority of the books being quite short, although having four (now five) books on the go at once may play a part. I tend to read when I’m doing something else that I don’t need to concentrate on and leaves my hands free. I usually have a book for in the bath (always a paperback), one for when I’m on my exercise bike (usually a hardback), one for reading aloud at bedtime (see A Series of Unfortunate Events above) and one book for all other times (usually a paperback that has graduated from the bath). These have now been joined by an ebook that I can read on my phone late at night and, apparently, while I’m brushing my teeth.

Having read more than double the number of books I’d set out to at the beginning of the year, my new target is 57 books. I should make it, but how many more I’ll read after that is anyone’s guess.

Blog offs and hidden books

It’s been over a month since my last blog. I had intended to blog sooner, but with new parenthood, writing, editing, a day job and so on and so on and so on, things got away from me a little.

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SPFBO

A little while ago The Silver Mask became a semi-finalist in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off (SPFBO).

For those who, like me until a few months ago, have never heard of the SPFBO, it’s a competition for self-published fantasy authors run by Mark Lawrence (author of The Broken Empire trilogy amongst other things).

300 books are divided up amongst 10 bloggers, who whittle their selection of 30 down through whichever method they decide to one book. This one book is put through to the final. The 10 finalists are then read by the 10 bloggers who together decide on the winner.

The Silver Mask was sorted into Fantasy Book Review’s group, who are whittling their group down to a set of semi-finalists from which they’ll select their finalist. You can read more about Fantasy Book Review’s approach here.

You can find out more about SPFBO, see what other books have been entered and follow the contest on Mark Lawrence’s blog here.

So why, if this started back in May, am I talking about it now? Partly because there hasn’t been much to talk about from The Silver Mask’s perspective, but, to be honest, mostly because I didn’t want to encourage the inevitable irony of me talking a lot about the competition and then The Silver Mask being cut immediately afterward. Of course, irony could now strike and I could be cut at the semi-final stage. So lets just say, if I never talk about the SPFBO again it’s because things didn’t go so well.

Hide a Book Day

Yesterday was Hide a Book Day, a joint event between Goodreads and The Book Fairies.

I’ve always been tempted by the idea of leaving copies of my books around the place for people to find and this provided the perfect excuse.

Three copies of The Silver Mask have been left around the place:

In Lakeside, Thurrock:

 

The Spectrum Centre, Belfast:

 

And Manchester Piccadilly:

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I can’t promise they’re still there if you go searching for them.

Thank you to my two ‘book fairies’ – Alison and Claudia – who helped deposit the books and possibly made it look like I was travelling around the country.

Ellingsen’s Third State of the To Do List

Given that we’re now over a month into the second half of the year, and quite a bit has happened in the past seven weeks or so, I thought it was time for a ‘To do list’ update.

Edit and publish a novella and short story

A Divided River: Tales From Vasini I has been out for three weeks now. The handful of reviews that have appeared on Goodreads have been really positive.

Should you be interested in having a read yourself, you can find it on Kindle, iBooks and in paperback.

Edit and try to work out how to publish a long novel

With everything else that has been going on, not much has happened with this. Hopefully, I’ll get some time to work on it in the coming months.

Finish writing and then edit The Vasini Chronicles II

If you’ve already A Divided River, you’ll know that the next The Vasini Chronicles book is called The Theatre of Shadows and you will have seen a couple of clues about what it will be about.

I’m deep into editing the first draft and have lots of notes about what needs to change for the second draft. A lot of it at this stage is shuffling around events into a more coherent order and getting rid of sections that blatantly don’t add anything to the story. I’m tempted to make some of these deleted scenes available on my website at some point in the future, but we’ll have to see.

The Theatre of Shadows is the second longest story I’ve ever written (the longest in the long novel mentioned above). Overall, I’m quite happy with it. There’s a lot of work still to do on it, but, for the moment, I’m feeling positive.

Write some more things (not all of them Vasini related)

I’m coming towards the end of a Vasini-based story that was originally going to be a long story, but is now hitting novella territory.

Beyond that there’s a non-Vasini related novella that I’m looking forward to writing more and more.

After that will be another Vasini-based novella and then I’ll probably start work on The Vasini Chronicles III.

Read at least 26 books and cut down my backlog of unread books (now over 300 thanks to Christmas presents)

At my last ‘To do list’ update, according to my Goodreads page, I’d read 32 books. In the 14 weeks or so since then, I’ve managed to finish another 13 for a grand total of 45 books read this year. I’ve pushed my target up to 52 books.

Unofficially, though, I’ve already read 55 books as I’ve slipped in some books for research purposes.

Hope that the bad decision making the world seemed prone to last year doesn’t have as much of an impact as it could and try to play my part in counteracting said bad decision making

No comment.

Become a father (at which point my to do list will likely be much longer and quite different from the above)

Parenthood achieved. My daughter was born in June. Some things may be taking a little longer to do, but I have an awesome daughter.

A Divided River is here

Welcome back to Vasini…be careful what colours you wear.

It’s here… A Divided River: Tales from Vasini I – the first book in the companion series to The Vasini Chronicles – is out today.

You can read it on Kindle, iBooks or in paperback.

(As always, for those outside of the UK, please try your local US, Australian, New Zealand or EU-based Amazon or iBooks store.)

A Divided River eBook cover

Vasini, founded and rebuilt from the ashes left by the fall of the deities. A city-state divided by politics, class, philosophies and by the Sini river.

As the tides turn and the riverbed is exposed, mudlarks search the silt for valuables that have been washed into the Sini. In The Mudlark’s Tale, one mudlark’s find may be worth far more than he first thought, but it comes with consequences.

In the depths of winter the Sini river freezes, and the comte calls the Winter Fayre upon its ice. In The Winter Fayre, five citizens of Vasini find their lives intersecting and changing as they enjoy the festivities. A sergeant of the Palace Regiment watches for trouble amongst visitors to the Fayre. A pickpocket plies her trade. A palace bureaucrat looks to make political connections. A banker hunts for a mysterious young girl. A follower of a philosophical path attempts to make contact with a fellow adherent who may well be dead.

Tales From Vasini is a companion series of short stories and novellas to The Vasini Chronicles novel series. It tells stories of the wider world of Vasini and its environs. A Divided River contains two stories: The Mudlark’s Tale (a short story); and The Winter Fayre (a novella).

Inside Vasini 5: Rasah, Goddess of Obligations, Promises and Contracts

Before the fall of the deities, Rasah was the goddess associated with obligations, promises and contracts. The youngest daughter of Shen-ak-Vhah, she was depicted as a young girl made of brilliant white marble with contracts and obligations carved into her. In honour of her form, and as part of their worship of her, followers of Rasah would tattoo contracts with the goddess onto their own bodies.

Since the fall, some city-states, including Vasini, have outlawed tattooing certain body parts (none have outlawed it entirely), to ensure that it isn’t the “covert” worship of the goddess.

Law on Tatoos stage 2

We interrupt this silence…

I’m still on paternity leave for a little while, but I just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who entered my Goodreads giveaway of A Divided River: Tales From Vasini I.

The signed copies will be going out to the winners in the coming days.

For those who missed out, the eBook of A Divided River is available for pre-order on Amazon and iBooks. It will be published as an eBook and in paperback on 21 July.

As always, for those outside of the UK, please try your local Amazon or iBooks store.