Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Resilience of Ribburta

Ribburta the frog is unsquelchable.  She started life in 2003 as an enthusiastic tadpole of an idea, spent several years bounding happily onto the desks of a number of editors at a variety of publishers and grinning endearingly (and fruitlessly) during numerous acquisition meetings, before finally landing with a plop into the hands of the good folks at Spider Magazine in 2009.

With the help of wonderfully talented artist Rupert van Wyk, Ribburta and the Rootintootin' Highfalutin' Ballet Extravaganza appeared in the January 2010 issue.

In October 2010, Ribburta and the Mighty Mysterious Squirrel Affair was unveiled.

And then ... well, there was a bit of a pause at this point, but frogs are known for their patience, and this week I received through the post two copies of Spider Magazine's February 2013 issue, which included:

Ribburta and the Run-Ragged Babysitting Adventure!


Hear the Spider staff act out Ribburta and the Rootintootin' Highfalutin' Ballet Extravaganza here!

Read her first adventure in an ebook here!

And celebrate with me the first decade of an unsquelchable little frog!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Over on ABBA ...

Find me here with a baboon that's close to my heart.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Quietness Distilled

 As imperceptibly as grief
 The summer lapsed away,
 Too imperceptible at last
 To feel like perfidy.

 A quietness distilled,
 As twilight long begun,
 Or Nature spending with herself
 Sequestered afternoon.

 The dusk drew earlier in,
 The morning foreign shone,
 A courteous yet harrowing grace
 As guest that would be gone.

 And thus without a wing
 Or service of a keel
 Our summer made her light escape
 Into the Beautiful.

                                         Emily Dickinson.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Guest Blog by Erica Blaney

Here's the latest in The Next Big Thing thing - a visit from Erica Blaney!

What is the title of your new book?

I'm working on two.  One might or might not be called 'The Song of the Magic Harp'.  I don't think I've quite got that right yet, and am interested to see what the editorial team comes up with.  The other is 'The Charmed Life of Danny Mars', which I think is absolutely spot on, and don't want any editorial team to get anywhere near!

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Most of my writing ideas come from a mixture of People Watching, asking 'What if ...?' and Time On My Hands.  Never underestimate the power of boredom.
The germ of 'The Magic Harp' came on a seven hour coach journey, when I wrote a whole chapter set in a comically twisted medieval world.  It led to me thinking about the medieval way of sacrificing maidens to monsters, and asking What If a maiden made her money as a sort of professional sacrificial victim.  The characters have changed, the chapter changed, but that was how it all started.
'Danny Mars' began life as a short story for adults.  I think I was interested in the idea of the multiverse at the time, and one What If led to another.

What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy, and a tiny bit of Science Fiction.  Very tiny, small on the science, Big On The Fiction.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

'The Magic Harp':  After stealing a magic harp, The Bard becomes entangled in the lives of a newly hatched phoenix, a unicorn (without a horn) and three runaway sisters, on his way to using the harp to save a baby's life.
'Danny Mars':  Danny inherits a marvellous machine, by which he can use all the luck in the multiverse.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am represented by the wonderful Fraser and Ross, who do all the things I don't have a chance of doing myself.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Much longer than you would have thought.  I've been struggling with a long-term illness the last few years, and everything takes ten times longer than it used to.  Also my memory is terrible.  I think I began 'The Magic Harp' three or four years ago.  'Danny' appeared in short story form over ten years ago, and I took him out and dusted him down in the last six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Lloyd Alexander's 'Chronicles of Prydian' for 'The Magic Harp', and possibly Anthony Horowitz's Diamond Brother books for 'Danny Mars'.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My youngest son asked me for a book with a phoenix in.  I was in the middle of Cybernation/Solarnation at the time, but the seed was planted for 'The Magic Harp'.
As for 'Danny Mars', I think I was interested in the multiverse, and all the fictional possibilities that could happen.  I then heard a radio documentary about Astrid Lingen's 'Pippi Longstocking', and remembered reading her in my childhood.  Pippi seemed to have resources to do whatever she liked, and I thought that since most characters I've written have been poor or restricted in some way, it would be different to write about a boy who had uncountable riches and the luck of a multitude of lives available to do whatever he wanted.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

I would like to write more books in the same setting as 'The Magic Harp'.  In fact, I'm already half way through 'The Ballad of the Dragon Tooth Dagger'.

Thanks, Erica - looking forward to those!

Cheers, Joan.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Me On Manual and Becoming Full-Fledged

Thanks to Jamie, my camera mentor (i.e. the chap who's one step ahead in the process) I have been out there on manual.  Moving away from the comfort zone of all those automatic settings and coming to grips with shutter speeds, focal points and such like.  (Not to mention the nature of fractions, which remain counter-intuitive even after all these years - the number gets bigger, so OF COURSE the length of time gets smaller.  Hmmph.)  Any way, here are the some of the results, sparing you the 3000 oh-dear-that-wasn't-supposed-to-happen versions that preceded each. 

And the next new venture to greet the new year - I'm now a full time History Girl!  Come see my first post.  (Okay, I did a post before, but it was as a reservist.)  5th of the month is my slot and I'm looking forward to romping about in history in such good company!

Meantime, in Scottish tradition, as it's the first time I've spoken to you in 2013,