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Showing posts from February, 2011

Muse Monday – The Nis by Katherine Langrish

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This week the unicorn is delighted to welcome fantasy author Katherine Langrish to tell you all about her own muse and her fabulous new book West of the Moon

Over to you, Kath…


Muses take different forms. Traditionally they were visualised (mostly by men?) as classically beautiful women. Robert Graves even wrote:

No Muse-poet grows conscious of the Muse except by experience of a woman in whom the Goddess is to some degree resident…

I don’t know what Graves’ lovers, such as the poet Laura Riding, actually made of this. Mostly, I wouldn’t externalise inspiration. Wherever it comes from – the back of the North Wind or the back of my head – it feels like oxygen or water or life-blood, something my work requires in order to live, rather than an embodied Other.

But on the other hand, I can characterise it as capricious: sometimes sprightly and helpful, sometimes stubborn and sulky. My host Katherine Roberts’ Reclusive Muse is a unicorn – glamorous and noble (Muse: and glittery!) My own …

A Poem for the Weekend

I wrote the following poem last year in response to Roselle Angwin’s “Writing Your Self” column in Mslexia magazine. The exercise was to find an image to describe your writing self, and it seems appropriate to publish it here as an introduction to Katherine Langrish’s guest post coming on Monday.
(Muse challenge: how soon can you guess my author’s image?)

I belong on the Druid’s staff
eye of the night
commander of the tide

When I am whole
werewolves hunt
and men howl at the sky

Haloed by fire
I was there at Christ’s crucifixion
darkening the sun

Superpowers raced to reach me
one small step for man
blood for womankind

I look lonely
but Clangers live in my craters
and cows jump over me

Eclipsed by earth’s shadow
I orbit you
unseen in the day

I enchant the mists
where muses work magic
west of the moon.

See you on Monday...

Kindle 8 – Formatting your Word file

If you followed last week’s steps, you’ll now have a Word document containing all the text for your book with most of the old formatting removed. Hopefully by now you’ll also have done some market research, so you’ll have an idea of what the first 10% of a Kindle book should look like. You may have come across a few samples that didn’t look very good, so you’ll know what you don’t want. You might even have a few ideas of your own at this stage – great! So how do you get there from here?

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The important thing to remember is that you, as an e-publisher, are not in control of how your e-book looks in the same way you would be in control of a paper book. You can force some things (see below), but your reader controls the font, text size and number of words on their screen. What you are aiming for is to present your work in a format the Kindle can recognize and display in a sensible fashion, no matter which option(s) your reader might select…

Kindle 7 – Back to basics: unformatting your manuscript.

You should by now have all the text you need for your e-book in some kind of word processed file on your computer, and be fairly happy that it is of a publishable standard. If it’s a previously unpublished project, it will probably still look like the manuscript you would send to your publisher. If it’s a backlist title and extracted from a scan or a pdf file, it will have been formatted by your publisher for the paper book and will look much more like the real thing. The bad news is that neither of these formats is likely to translate well to Kindle.

The first thing you need to do to make your Word file easy for Kindle to digest is remove all the old formatting.

WHAT?! I hear you say.

After all that careful double-spacing and indenting of paragraphs, and adding your name and page numbers to the manuscript in case your editor drops it? After your copy-editor painstakingly formatted the pages so there were no widowed or orphaned words left at the bottom or top of the printed page? After…

Writing Wednesday challenge - Horse Histories.

This challenge was suggested by Hannah Atman of the Conchita Espinosa Academy in Miami, after she read my book I am the Great Horse and was inspired to do her own project about Alexander the Great – thank you, Hannah!

In my book Bucephalas tells the story of Alexander the Great's conquests with many squeals and “flat ears” and whinnies to his favourite mare. He’s a big horse with a big head and so he wrote a big story of 500 pages! But what if other famous horses from history were to tell their stories, too?

The Muse has come up with a list for you. Your challenge is to choose one of these historical characters, find out what you can about him or her (Muse tip: try a search on the internet), then write a short story or poem from the point of view of their horse. History doesn’t tell us the names of all the horses, so you might need to invent these. Others are more myth or legend than history, which might appeal if you have a unicorn for a muse like Katherine.

HORSE(S) – HISTORICAL…

Kindle 6 - Front and back matter

If your manuscript survived the Muse’s horn last week and you’re still keen to turn it into an e-book, you now have a bit more writing to do.

Before you groan, I don’t mean more work on the actual story. You’ve told me that’s finished and has been edited and proof read, so the Muse will believe you. At this stage (if you're anything like my author) you’ll be totally bored of your own story, have forgotten why you ever wanted to write the book in the first place, know each full stop and comma intimately, and just want to see the back of the thing. That's a good sign – and it proves your author work has been properly done. Normally this is where your publisher will take over, at least until the book comes out and you need to do some publicity – by which time you’ll hopefully be refreshed and ready to talk about the book with some of your original passion.

But now you’re a publisher too, remember. So you need to put on your publisher’s hat (preferably one with a glittery feather …

Kindle 5 – Are you SURE you want to self publish?

I know I promised to get on to formatting this time. But last week catdownunder asked if publishing your own e-book means people will think you aren’t good enough for a “real” publisher. It’s an important question, so the Muse has ordered me to answer it before we go any further. One does not argue with a unicorn. His horn might glitter but it is also sharp.

So, at the risk of sounding like your computer when you try to delete a file… are you SURE you want to continue? Because it’s not too late to change your mind.

If you’ve got a backlist title which has already been professionally edited and proof read, and the rights are now definitely yours, then great – carry right on! There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t republish your backlist book in e-format, except for the fact it might not sell many copies, and this may wound your author pride a bit (before you realize what an amazing job your publisher must have done to sell as many copies as they did the first time around).

But …