Quotes for 2020 #42

An on going series of a quote a day from those most worthy of individuals, writers…  Disclaimer: Not all quotes are meant to inspire… Not all comments I make upon them are entirely honest either, occasionally Hannibal writes them…

Today’s quote was determined by simple warrant of a number, that number is 42, as this the the forty-second quote post of the year, and frankly on such an occasion to use a quote by anyone who isn’t Douglas Adams would be akin to blasphemy…

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So just remember folks, reality is merely a matter of perception, causality can be flexible and the greatest sandwich ever made will be ready before you ask for it (as none of those things are anything to do with Douglas Adams beyond a certain degree of inspiration he granted the author of Passing Place when he was a teenager and first discovering the world was far more complicated than anyone could actually understand, though many claim to, I could be accused of a certain degree of self-nepotism here… but what the hell)

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Quotes for 2020 #41

An on going series of a quote a day from those most worthy of individuals, writers…  Disclaimer: Not all quotes are meant to inspire… Not all comments I make upon them are entirely honest either, occasionally Hannibal writes them…

Today a quote inspired by a fun little conversation yesterday with Craig Hallam (a man with much to say on mental well-being which is worth reading), on the influence of the imaginary people who occasionally whisper to us in the darkness, whether we realise they are doing so or not.

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My own favorite internal monologue of an imaginary voice in my head Hannibal have to be expunged from a manuscript earlier this week as little bits of Hannibal bled through into Maybe. Odd little Hannibal phases that only work if he is telling a story. Most notably ‘If all truth be told’ which ‘if all truth be told’ has no place in the 3rd person POV narratives of Maybe. That is the trouble with the voices in our heads, they bleed into one another, and occasionally one dominates the others… but that’s what editing is for…

Writers are not mad, occasionally the people in our heads that whisper to us might be…

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Making it pretty, and other vanities…

I really enjoy typesetting. There is something cathartic about it. For months I have been slaving away with first drafts, second drafts , third drafts , edits, redrafts, more edits, post editor editing, revisions… All fun stuff I assure you. But once all that is done, and the dust has settled. (barely in my case as I always end up starting these things as soon as I can even if it midnight, I have work in eight hours, and I’m running short of coffee…) I get to do something I only get to do once in a  while. I get to typeset a book…

Up until this point Maybe has been just words on the page, in complete, a work in progress, a none thing in some respects. True, it remains a work in progress once I start typesetting a proof copy as well. But once typesetting is underway it is really becoming an accrual thing and I have always felt more comfortable with actual things. Its why my house is a library, my music is on disc, and I still buy dvd’s. But just like making a cover, typesetting and designing book interiors makes my books real for me. Even if the majority of my sales are ebooks where the interior typesetting is to an extent mute. (not entirely, you have to type set an ebook as well, and do fancy stuff with active menus etc. but its less critical than with a print book, you don’t need to make sure each page fits, that indents are right, that drop downs at the start of a chapter are all the same two inches from the top etc.) Ultimately I like making things, a book is a thing and real honest to goodness thing you hold in your hand rather than ones and zeros. So last night, or more honestly in the early hours of the morning, I started typesetting Maybe and decided into the bargain I needed different  chapter masts form the cog wheel design I use for Hannibal books.

Hannibal books have a harder edge to it them than I am going for in the Maybe books. The austere interlocking cog wheels of Hannibal would have been fine, but I decided I wanted something a little lighter, feminine and a tad more Victorian for maybe’s layout. here is the flower cogs design and lay out or chapters and the contents page I came up with (this was at about 2 am)

 

Of course, it wasn’t that simple, nineteen chapters heads and an epilogue take a lot of putting together, as does getting them laid out in the book so each chapter head falls on an odd number right hand side page. Which sometimes mean the even page before it is blank if the previous chapter finished on an odd page number. Of course it doesn’t technically matter if the chapter heads go on even pages, but having them all fall on odd pages just feels neater and means if you flip through the book all the chapter heads fall right. And of course when you are making chapter heads you need to make the contents page , the dedication , the ‘by the same author’ and all the rest as well.

The ‘By the same author’ page is always fun as you want to include the as yet unwritten books. And while no one but me will probably hold me to it, that left me committing to writing at least two more books this year, and possible a third.

On top of all this you have to get your fonts right, line spacing right , paragraph style right and oh dozens other things all of which need attention to detail. Because presenting the words correctly is as important as writing them.

Finally of course when your interiors are just right you need to get your cover sorted. Luckily I have the cover, unluckily at 3am, the coffee having ruin dry, I spent a frustrating half hour wondering why my cover didn’t fit the template… (I realised I was building the book a 6×9 rather than 5×8 like I should have been about 3:30) Eventually though, fuels by a fresh cup of tea I realised my error and managed to sort that out, reload the interior , build the cover, write a first draft back cover and put this together…

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The red and white dotted lines are cuts and bleeds, and the back cover blurb is temporary, (as is the airship) this is just a screen shot from the on line proofing at KDP ( hence the off little arrow on the right…).

By this time it was 4:00am and the long wait for submit acceptance was running at 15+ minutes for each change, but the book was built, typeset, and ready for the next stage. I staggered off to bed, and this morning when I was slight more awake I did the last few bits and bats.

Proof copies have now been requested…  the book exists…

Of course this is just another step in the process, I have already spotted three errors in the current version after requesting the proofs. There will be more. But the plan to release Maybe in April is still looking good…

A final note. I am for my sines very computer literate, I know how to use software and what software works best to achieve the results I want. I have also taught myself to typeset, which requires all those skills. If your not like me and your not as well versed with It herding then I will always recommend you get a professional to typeset your print books or at least a lot of advice and take your time. And for the love of Odin don’t start doing it at 12:00 am. Midnight is for sleeping… or so other people tell me.

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Quotes for 2020 #40

An on going series of a quote a day from those most worthy of individuals, writers…  Disclaimer: Not all quotes are meant to inspire… Not all comments I make upon them are entirely honest either, occasionally Hannibal writes them…

As I am up to my neck in final editing through Maybe after getting it back form my editor at the weekend, this quote seems apt for the day. Final pre-proof edits are always fun, not least because my wonderful and understanding editor has used so much highlighter that the yellow is burning out my eyes…

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I have learned several things, for example… while Maybe is not a Hannibal book , and does not feature the disreputable scrote, I have spent so much time with Hannibal over the last couple of years that he weaseled his way into the previous draft. Mostly with the phrase ‘If all truth be told’ a phase that is a Hannibal idiom. He uses it quite often, and when he does it reads entirely natural, it is part of him and his voice…

It does however stick out like a sore thumb in absolutely anything else and I used it repeatably in the last draft.

Also typing form when I mean from and vice versa is a horrendous habit…

My divinity is in question, my editors is not. All praise the editor 🙂

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Quotes for 2020 #39

An on going series of a quote a day from those most worthy of individuals, writers…  Disclaimer: Not all quotes are meant to inspire… Not all comments I make upon them are entirely honest either, occasionally Hannibal writes them…

Tom Holt, occasionally Thomas Holt when he is been a tad more intellectual in his historic fiction, and occasionally K J Parker when he is writing fantasy, is both one of Britian’s most prolific, funny and entertaining writers. This particular quite is from his novel Being Human, and is about being human…

His particular brand of strange and wonderful fiction (which should never be described as Zany as one review once did in the early nineties) seeks to answer those most important of questions, what do retried gods do when Valhalla has been changed into a wine bar, who when it comes down to it is afraid of Beowolf… just what do you do when you work for a legal firm that deals with underworld, and what do Rhine-maidens do when they aren’t looking for Wagner’s ring…

He was, though I tend to mention him less, as big an influence on my writing as Pratchett, Rankin, Gaiman and others… One story in particular in Passing Place, the one told by Literal Lyal the vaguely demonic barman, owes much to Mr Holt… Without reading his novels I suspect I would have never thought up a Demonic Horticulturalists lawyer who does strange things with daffodils… A tale of which I am possibly a tad too proud…

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Beware of potted plants… they may be watching you!

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Ibid : TCL #58

Parody is an art form. The product of wit and witticism, portrayed with poe-faced sincerity. The true parody, while it often extends its subject matter from a simple premise out towards the increasingly ridiculous, does so with slow methodical steps so that each little absurdity seems only a small step further than the last and it not until you reach the end that you look back and see just how far down the twisted road of towards the ridiculous you have strayed.

The end of a good parody then, should be a place so far from  down that road that were it first muted without the preamble it would be dismissed as laughable in all the wrong ways, yet the journey has taken you to a point where the end is entirely believe able in the context for the tale told.

This though is a distinction sometimes lost upon the reader, sometimes disastrously so, I have a character in the Hannibal books who Hannibal (the narrator) first meets dressed as a maid, she is however ‘not the maid’. Through out the rest of the book she is referred to as ‘Not the maid’, but that description lengthens to increasingly ridiculous lengths until eventually she is ‘I think we have established by not she is most definitely not in  any way the maid’. Most people realise this is a bit of parody and are generally amused by it, its one of the aspects of the first Hannibal novel that almost always gets commented on positively when I talk to readers, because people like a bit of parody. Occasionally though I have come across readers who just don’t get the joke…

That, in a nutshell, is the problem with parody, sometimes a reader just doesn’t get the joke. Sometimes that is simply because they don’t realise parody is what they’re reading, which in fairness is not a bad mark of good parody. To be able to portray the ridiculous in a way that it presents itself as plausible is the aim after all. But as a writer, when some one misses the point it can be disheartening…

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So to Ibid, which is a parody, in which Lovecraft parody’s academia and academic papers and as a parody it is eminently successful. What starts of as a piece of snarky commentary on a students fundamental error about a roman writer called Ibid. Though Lovecraft plays with the idea of ridiculous roman names somewhat as you can see in the passage below (in case you were wondering why I mentions ‘not a maid…’ )

 His full name—long and pompous according to the custom of an age which had lost the trinomial simplicity of classic Roman nomenclature—is stated by Von Schweinkopf3 to have been Caius Anicius Magnus Furius Camillus Æmilianus Cornelius Valerius Pompeius Julius Ibidus; though Littlewit rejects Æmilianus and adds Claudius Decius Junianus; whilst Bêtenoir differs radically, giving the full name as Magnus Furius Camillus Aurelius Antoninus Flavius Anicius Petronius Valentinianus Aegidus Ibidus.

Jokes about roman names have always been something of a soft spot of mine, and the fact Lovecraft got away with presenting straight faced in a fake piece of dry academia   Anicius magnus Furius Camillus (Ancient magus of furious calamity…) made me smile, even if my pig-Latin translations are a bit rough edged. there are other jokes among those names if you can figure them out.

What starts out as a complaint about students lack of academic zeal becomes the life story of a roman writer, and then of that writers body after he dies, then just his skull which has the words Ibidus rhoritos Romanus inscribe upon it at some point in a 1600 year journey through the courts of Europe, sainthood and several curious misadventures until it ends up in a prairie dog barrow in of all places Milwaukee where it is worshiped by the rodents and an envoy of the gods in the world above…

All of this, even the dark rites of the worshiping prairie dogs is presented through out as an academic paper, with footnotes and the slow slide form plausible to utterly ridiculous is perfectly paced. For what Lovecraft tried to do, this is as near perfect as it could be. the only downside is, its a parody of a academic paper, it reads like an academic paper, and even knowing the joke, it is dry, so very very dry.

I would love to give this six tentacles, and really I should, because it is exactly what it sets out to be and a perfect piece of parody, but frankly its also dull in the way academic papers are dull. Which while I know that is the point doesn’t make it any more fun to read. So it gets a four, but don’t let that dissuade you if you can read the arid with a rye smile … Because as parody, it is a master class.

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Further Lovecraftian witterings as ever can be found here

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Quotes for 2020 #38

An on going series of a quote a day from those most worthy of individuals, writers…  Disclaimer: Not all quotes are meant to inspire… Not all comments I make upon them are entirely honest either, occasionally Hannibal writes them…

Today’s quote comes from the creator of Sherlock Holmes, a singular minds from the mind of a singular mind. Sir Arthur was occasionally a bit of a strange pickle. For all his most famous characters skepticism of the unexplained, Doyle himself was a professed spiritualist and one of the grand dames of the heyday of the spiritualist movement. He believed in ghosts, the afterlife, he even believed, or wanted to believe, in fairies at the bottom of a garden in Cottingley, near Bradford…

Yes the great Yorkshire fairies hoax of 1917 perpetrated by the advance special effects department of ‘Two teenage girls’ who were board, had some paper cut outs and a box brownie camera, that managed to fool the man who brought us Sherlock Holmes… Because when you have eliminated the impossible, ie that two teenage girls with paper cut outs and a box brownie camera could be perpetrating a hoax, what ever is left, fairies in Bradford, must be the truth….

But then it would be a dull world without a little madness

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The Cottingley fairies …. it’s possibly my favorite hoax of all time

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Unless of course they were real…. because who doesn’t want to believe in fairies in the grim industrial north, in the middle of a world war…

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