Tuesday, October 24, 2023

It's starting to get real

Recently, I had a long, hard chat with myself about priorities. I'm one of these unfortunate authors who suffers a severe case of what I affectionately term, "Oh, look! Squirrel!" And this is usually related to me getting Yet Another Fabulous Idea for a Novel. Not like I need any more than I already have (you really don't want to know; even my agent doesn't need to know). 

So I've made priorities. Or, rather, one BIG five-part priority – namely The Splintered Fool series that I've been co-writing with Toby Bennett since that fateful evening in 2019, before the Panini hit the reset button on my writing career, he and I struck on the idea that writing a trilogy (hahahhahahaha) might be a good idea.

While we're not quite GRRM in terms of wordage (A Game of Thrones weighs in at a hefty 292k words, A Clash of Kings at 318k ... you get the picture), the five novels we've written together all number between 130k to 150k words, or thereabouts. It's all a blur. I try not to think about it too hard. There's a lot of work. Also, no self-respecting publisher in this day and age of soaring paper and fuel prices is going to touch this epic sword-and-sandals series with the soggy end of a barge pole. George RR Martin or Robin Hobb we are not (yet). 

So, we've joined the ranks of countless thousands of authors out there who've decided to go the self-publishing route. And, to do that properly, takes time. And money. Because one thing I've been investing in is cover art. Which brings me to the whole point of today's post – to talk a little about the cover for book one, The Serpent's Quest, which you'll no doubt be hearing a fair bit about going forward. 

If you've been following my authorly doings for a while, you'll know that I have collaborated with South African artist Daniël Hugo on numerous projects where he's done my cover art. We've even done a rather racy fantasy comic together, called The Salamander Lord, which has only ever seen a limited print run, and you can only purchase by reaching out to either me or Daniël. (It's THAT racy.)

What I love about working with Daniël is that I'm convinced he has an advanced degree in mind-reading. He's one of the very few people who seems to know exactly what I'm thinking when I brief in a job. And he's absolutely nailed it for The Serpent's Quest. I'm really looking forward to seeing what we'll come up with for the next four books in the series. Very little rivals the excitement of seeing your world come vividly to life. 

Where I'm at now with the series is that Toby has just finished proofing book 1. I will still need to go over it with my red pen, and then start inputting the changes. I was hoping for a Christmas release this year, but a lot can happen between this blog post and the end of the year. So best just follow me on my assorted social media to see what's happening.

I did illustrate a map for the world, as well as a chapter header, and there's still some more art I'll be doing for the interiors, when I have a moment. It's been so much fun drawing on all my skills sets with this project.

What I love about having the cover and interior layouts done is that this sucker is FINALLY STARTING TO FEEL LIKE IT'S REAL. It's going to happen, folks!


Every once in a while, I'll end up hand-rearing orphaned birds. I'm currently sitting with two baby Cape White-eyes who were orphaned when the property owner chopped down the tree where their nest was. There was no sign of the parents, so I agreed to take them on. I am now feeding live meal worms every half hour to the hour, every day. It's a time-consuming, often heart-breaking labour of love. I had success with a trio of dusky flycatchers a few years back, so I'm *praying* that these two little tykes can make it. So far, so good.

If you've come this far, thank you for reading. Do consider dropping by at my Amazon author page and picking up a copy of one of my novels – this will help vindicate my obsessive need to check my KDP every five minutes week.

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