Categories
creative writing fashion fiction health opinion women writing

Be good to yourself

Retro style green and brown poster which says be good to yourself
Be good to yourself

I am still broadening my horizons and yesterday, my list came to the rescue again, thank goodness. The project in question started with an idea: “Make a super short film with one actor, in a single frame, with minimal monologue.”

The first attempt at production was binned due to technical issues. There was a recast but the second attempt got scrambled during two separate uploads to a cloud server. C’est la guerre.

Have a weekend of tranquility

Once upon a time, I would point my iPad camera at something, press record, and an interesting short film would pop out. Now that I am trying to show you something, I find myself living a scene from The Truman Show.

What confirmed this to me was that this evening, a UK-based filmmaker offered me producer credits on his two upcoming films. Have you seen The Truman Show? This is that scene in the bank.

Enjoy a beverage and a great book,
hopefully, one you’ve written


Presently, an actor is filming a different mini micro super short story that I wrote. If we both like it, I will share it here.

They say that if you start nothing, there will be nothing. However, I have proven, over the past three months, that even with strong will and a positive attitude, this outcome can happen anyway.

Categories
art creative writing fashion poetry

Shine, everywhere

Shine everywhere and light the way for others to follow.
Super omnia luceat …

Happy Sunday, everyone. I wish you a great week ahead. You must be exhausted, I am sure, based on what I’m (not) seeing in my Reader. It is truly exhausting living on planet Earth.

This Saturday, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had to sit by herself in a pew in church to mourn her late husband as Londoners moshed together to have brunch outdoors. This happened because leaders are not paying attention to what they legislate.

And even though receipts were produced, they got away with it because there is a section of society which is living in a fantasy. They believe that they are making a difference when they are not. It’s no wonder things are so lopsided.

Omnia luceat pro lumine sequi. Glitch text effect on poster, with minimalist Latin phrase.
…pro lumine sequi

A few days ago, I was forced to explain to a reader that I had things to do offline. It is common sense that when people publish creative work on their blogs, they didn’t cough it up from an alternate universe like that alien cat from the Captain Marvel film.

And why not live a real life offline? It’s fun out here, too. Last week, though I had a severe flareup of plantar’s fasciitis, I hobbled around at work and then took my daily hikes. I loved the fresh air. Turns out, the exercise took away the pain.

Omnia luceat pro lumine sequi. Glitch text effect on poster, with minimalist Latin phrase.
Monochrome glitch

What else? There aren’t any bots out here. My neighbours are real and so are their pets. What were my stats for this week? They were appallingly bad. And though there was no app to review the weather, or the warm smiles, compliments, and greetings I received everywhere I went, I managed to have a good week.

Maybe we are too accustomed to fake feedback in this plastic universe. Imagine what would happen if we stopped caring about that.

Rant Roll – On blogging, instead of repeating myself:

Viral Harsh Realities – Complaining about being popular.

Art of the Force – Gratitude shapes decorum.

Notes 4/3 – Testing bloggers’ response times to comments.

Hygiene – Professional behaviour as a blogger.

Notes 5/3 – Paying attention to how we present our work.

No Views – Grounding expectations in reality.

Posters: Retro style minimalist typography with glitch effects. Latin text, “Super omnia luceat pro lumine sequi” (Shine your light everywhere and illuminate the path for others who follow) is based on my poem Dominae Sol Serenat Omnia.

Categories
about me art creative writing fashion women writing

Everyone wants the cherry on top but it takes work to get there

Cupcake - acrylic on unvarnished wood panel
Commitment Cupcake: acrylic on wood panel

Does anyone remember who said, “Follow your joy”? I think this quote is popular because everyone can imagine feeling happy at the final stage of a project. Recently, I told Caring for Art that my nightmares have become work product. I was not exaggerating. Public speakers will never tell you that you must hard work to find the thing to which you can happily commit. If they told you to face reality, nobody would pay them $50,000 to talk about themselves for 30 minutes.

And because I know that the truth is hard to hear, I feel confident that no-one will copy my secret formula, which I am going to share in this post. This is my recipe for staying committed and focused on the way to finding joy. First read it, then scroll down for a taste test. 

🧁 Commitment Cupcake 🧁

Ingredients
Absolutely everything real about you right now. 

Directions 

  1. Write down every idea you have but stay loosely attached.
  2. Seek advice from qualified experts. 
  3. Listen to advice and evaluate for quality.  
  4. Search for useful ideas in negative feedback.
  5. Be assertive but never argue, no matter what.
  6. Lose fixation on irrelevant details.
  7. Shut down anyone who attempts to devalue you. 
  8. Transfer your idea from a “hard” medium to a “soft” one. 
  9. Follow up on each new idea (see item 1).  
  10. Table, pin, or expunge unworkable ideas. 
  11. Shred your lists.  
  12. Start over. 
  13. Keep at it. 

The taste testCovers only
Item 8 became especially important this week when my plans came to a full stop. And though I was feeling isolated and trapped, I decided to shred everything and start over.  

Contessa Magazine: Cover 2 in Icelandic

One of many ideas I had written down was “launch a magazine”. However, I threw it out because there are billions of writers, millions of magazines, and only a handful of subscribers.

From that, I imagined what it would be like for a young writer to dream of launching a magazine only to hit roadblock after roadblock. How would this writer solve these problems? The answers to that question became the treatment for a writing project. My preferred medium for presenting that story is a “hard” one, so I pinned it for later.

The transfer to a “soft” medium was a frictionless fusion of my interests. After careful research, I did some math: photography + fashion + world cultures + health + making stuff up + graphic design = a concept that I really like.

That is to say, I will only produce the covers. I’ve posted two test copies for you and I hope you like them. 

Contessa Magazine: Cover 1 in English
(Spoiled it, so don’t look too closely)

Categories
Ancient Past creative writing Earth fiction women writing

ˌɪmɔːˈtælɪti dʌŋ mɑːsk

Summary
ˈhɜːkjʊliːz kliːnz ði ɔːˈʤi(ː)ən ˈsteɪblz baɪ fɜːst ˈgɛtɪŋ ˈfɑːməz frɒm ɔːl ˈəʊvə griːs tuː klɪər aʊt ðə kaʊ dʌŋˈɑːftə ˈwɜːkɪŋ ɒn ə fjuː ˈprɒdʌkt aɪˈdɪəz wɪð tuː ˈmɑːkɪtɪŋ kənˈsʌltəntshiː ɪˈvɛnʧəli dɪˈsaɪdz tuː bɜːn daʊn ðə ˈsteɪblz

After the last of the farmers’ carts had left, Heracles summoned Themis to thank her. She had told him what to say to convince every farmer in Greece to use immortal bovine dung to improve soil quality and guarantee bountiful yields, even in times of drought. The best part? The dung was free, as long as they scooped it out of the stables themselves.

Kisshoutennyo, one of Lakshmi’s cousins, was visiting with Themis. She appeared when Heracles said he still had a decade’s worth of dung to clear out. She offered a solution. “Let’s do a night cream called, ‘Kissho Immortality Dung Mask.’”

“Who the $#!+ will use face cream made of $#!+?” asked a bewildered Heracles.

“Everyone,” replied Kisshoutennyo, not quite understanding what the problem was. “Ten minutes of this is going to snatch your face.”

“Are you seeing my office, though?” whined Heracles.

“Relax,” said Kisshoutennyo, “because I will help. But give me a second … Be right back.”

While they waited, Themis suggested mixing extra virgin olive oil (lamp fuel) and immortal bovine colostrum into the dung. These ingredients would prevent the cream from drying out. Two days later, the churning was turning into a new labour, and Heracles was not happy. They were well past the deadline and they had no packaging ready.

“I should have thought of packaging first,” Themis said. Then she got an idea. “Do you realise that we can use this mixture to make soap? No packaging necessary.”

“How?” asked Heracles.

“We have colostrum, which has water; olive oil, which is fat; and dung has lots of salt.”

Heracles’ eyes glazed over. He was, after all, just a guy with muscles who did stuff.

“We need a cauldron and some fire,” continued Themis.

Pointing to an urn containing lamp fuel, Heracles suggested, “Like, why don’t we use that and burn all the $#!+ in here?”

“That works better,” agreed Themis. By now, the noxious gasses in the stables were making her loopy. In spite of this, she put the cows out to pasture, and Heracles set the stables ablaze.

And as they chuckled to themselves, Kisshoutennyo appeared.

“Oooh, you’re done already?” she exclaimed. “You’re so hardworking.”

Themis glowered at her friend, flaring her nostrils. This prompted Heracles to stand between them.

Categories
creative writing women writing

Formula (writing) is for babies


One of the main causes of writer’s block is the overabundance of writing advice online. These checklists, sorry to say, were created to raise the SEO of the sites that are posting them. Every day, as I scroll through my Reader, I can see that the pressure to conform to “structures” is sapping the mojo of my blogging colleagues.

Foil packaging for Japanese rice snacks
Foil packaging for Japanese rice snacks

There is no magic formula to writing because even large film studios, after using these checklists to spit out treatments for films, have to pirate their own releases in order to generate interest.

There exist deep learning algorithms so finely tuned that they can render writing samples resembling something that you would create. These algorithms are open source and anyone can request to be placed on a wait list to test them. They are trained by writers online who write to conform to these checklists.

A friend wants to hang out

One consequence that many of these writers are overlooking is the long-term viability of writing as a career. Large news publishing companies are already making huge profits using this technology and a skeleton staff of freelance journalists. Sooner or later, the algorithm will supplant us and nullify our creative efforts. I will not be shocked if next year, a New York Times bestselling novel is written by AI and an eight-year-old on an iPad.

Foil packaging for Japanese rice snacks
Black paper swirls

Or, we could tell original stories, the way we want to, and support fellow writers as they do the same.

I cannot repeat this often enough. The film version of Blanka Lipinska’s Polish-language novel, 365 Days, has 2 stars on IMDB and yet, she is raking in the mega-$$$ and is now besties with Oprah. When someone starts talking to me about my work as if I’ve done something offensive, I point in her direction and say, “Have you … seen … this display?” (Thanks for that, Blanka).

A new hairdo

Right now, you could be sitting on an idea for a viral micro series. You might have a beautiful concept for a live, improvised audio play on Clubhouse when it finally comes out of beta. But you might not develop your ideas because a list chastised you for writing what you like.

You are a human being, you are on planet Earth, and you have stories to tell. Are you going to wait until a checklist says you are perfect, or are you going to write?

Categories
about me art creative writing fiction opinion women writing

Sunday, at the (home) office


On Saturday afternoon, I was waiting to take down an art exhibition and while I was waiting in the car, I decided to pull an Oracle card. I bought them because they’ve got a matte velvety finish and the gold inlay looks pretty. I could not for the life of me understand what it was trying to say.

Threads of Fate Oracle Cards "Patience"
“Patience” from the Threads of Fate Oracle cards

Hello everyone. Are you enjoying your Sunday? I have been at my “home” office all day. I am chuckling at the moment, because when I was searching my phone’s image library, I noticed that photo from yesterday and suddenly, my entire Sunday makes sense. This, for once, is not a rant.

I’ve had the most insane day. I had a vague project deadline circa now: Thirty episodes for a Japanese/English animated series. Sounds fun, right? Except, the criteria changed three hours before I submitted the scripts for TEN episodes.

There is a budget issue. “Smaller budget: remove characters.” So I asked three friends to help me out of a jam. Halfway through, when I presented a snippet of the draft, the graphic artist/animator demanded I write the script for the trailer first.

Now, the reason his company hired me was that the project team was led by a talented graphic designer and animator who was not a writer. Because I understood that, I explained to him that the writing process is not linear. One never starts with the summary. It appears that way because that’s how a story is presented to us. But you can start in the middle and work your way backwards or forwards. You know what I’m talking about, right? You’re all writers.

Colors of love by Thomas Bergersen

And of course, I might be the most non-linear writer of them all. I was giggling because he probably thought I was being unreasonable.

I say, “Should we have notes on the first ten episodes and then write the trailer script, which will happen very fast because we will know what the story is all about?” Doesn’t budge.

That’s how four of us were at one point editing the same sentence at the same time. I would like to give a special big up to Google Docs for facilitating that. When we were all finally done tweaking the scripts, the graphic artist texted, “I’ll take a look in two hours because I am going out.”

What?! It’s 7 past 22 o’clock (two hours later) and he wants to have a meeting at 23 o’clock. I, on the other hand, will be going to bed.

Categories
about me creative writing fiction technology

A short video, with thanks

(If you’re having any problems viewing the video embedded above, please tell me. It’s in my WordPress media library. The point of upgrading was to not have this issue, WordPreeeeeess.)

Thanks for coming over here to support me when I re-launched as a brand-new entity last Saturday.

Earlier, WordPress responded to the altar call and got right with the Lord, but is now backsliding and error coding my videos. I cannot penetrate this chaos with code, scripts, tags, or commands. Nothing can defeat it. And I have tried everything.

I wish you a brilliant, glitch-free Thursday. (It’s Friday.)

*Big ups to @TonyWijsVA (Twitter) for the ‘frustrated Kylo Ren’ voice over.

Categories
art creative writing fiction opinion poem poetry women writing

Ascension / Bring me higher

Image with handwritten runic script overlay. Page from Tokyo Fashion Edge Volume 35, 2019.
Garnet – Love
Runic transcription of poem - Ascension/Bring me higher
Runic transcription
Runic script of poem on magazine page. Image from Tokyo Fashion Edge.
Bring me higher – Runic transcription
Ascension - English
Ascension / Bring me higher
Image with handwritten runic script overlay. Page from Tokyo Fashion Edge Volume 35, 2019.
Runic transcription – Opening stanzas
Image with handwritten English cursive script overlay. Page from Tokyo Fashion Edge Volume 35, 2019.
Citrine – Abundance
Image with handwritten English script overlay. Page from Tokyo Fashion Edge Volume 35, 2019.
Quartz – Purity


Presented with love and gratitude. Poem “Ascension/Bring me higher” was written by me. Big ups to my homey, the 9th century poet, Cynewulf. My poem is inspired by his awesome work, Christ II. Images are from Tokyo Fashion Edge Magazine Volume 35, September 2019, with an overlay of handwritten runic and English scripts in watercolour. Have a healing week ahead.

Categories
art creative writing fiction writing

Accession

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was writing a coronation scene for a new novel. The story is set in 2033, and unfolds in the same universe as The Quarter Percent. We follow events from three perspectives. One belongs to Sebastian, who happens to be a nephew of Cordial’s.

Whereas it hath pleased our Most Blessed Lady to recall to us Her glorious memory in the noble crown which is solely and rightfully come to the High Prince Carroll Patrice Saints Maud et Agnes:

Still drafting, but I know how the story ends. In the very last scene, after a bombshell revelation the previous evening, a hush falls over the nation on Coronation Day. The new monarch is Sebastian’s bestie, 35-year-old Carroll. In this draft of the story, Carroll’s father is still alive, so the proclamation of accession has to take place at the coronation.

Proclamation of accession (fiction).

By this point in the story, we have eavesdropped on meetings and know that the coronation will be stripped of pomp and pageantry. Sebastian has been asked to whittle down the government’s expenditure on the ceremony to mere shillings. The ceremony is a reckoning with the public which, after a display of hubris, has completely lost face. Nonetheless, the ordeal has been humiliating for Carroll.

Bless and sanctify thy servant Carroll, Inheritor of this realm, who we anoint and consecrate King. Imbue him with the wisdom of the Mighty Reformer Jonas, as we, with one voice, proclaim him King, Servant and Steward, with hearty and weighty affection.

The proclamation text is based on EIIR’s 1952 accession and 1953 coronation. (Read a short story inspired by the latter). As mentioned in that earlier post, Google was reading over my shoulder and recommended gospel music to me on YouTube. I made some artwork to display the text that was misunderstood. I hope you like it.

Note: This post was originally intended for publication on this date, 09/20, but I moved it up a week. I moved it back here to make way for a different post. Thank you for your attention, as always. Header image: Izrael Poznanski Palace in Lodz, Poland, by Jacques Bopp, via Unsplash. Concept art: “Accession proclamation for King Carroll”, Posca watercolour pens, and Pilot Juice metallic ink on matte/glossy magazine paper.

Categories
about me creative writing opinion writing

Better is one day

Better is one day, from Hymn by Sarah Brightman

Therapy is working. I had to complain to my therapist about this because, for two weeks, I have been staring at a wall of text that usually my brain would gather up and frappé into a poem.

However, my therapist and I have worked out my underlying issues. The stuff that was causing me to be codependent, passive-aggressive, resentful, angry, and vindictive had helped me to write poetry. There is no better way to cloak my hostility or deny my own needs. Now, the magic is gone. Nice job, doctor. 

I am able to confidently state my needs, and sometimes that involves screaming to the world that I’m not okay. This always happens when I am in traffic on Sundays, but I think that’s true for everyone. Anyway, she says I need to ping my brain with music. I say that it is a meditative process that only works for writing prose fiction. We also talk about feeling sad about the tragic passing of someone we all know.

After that conversation, I swear to Jesus, I went to YouTube and I see Sarah Brightman posed like the Columbia Torch Lady. I had no idea that she released an album in 2018. I listened out of curiosity, and realised that YouTube did not suggest this to me before because I avoid songs that praise the Lord Almighty, in English. I made a face at first, but it stuck and I had to play it again. The song is based on A German Requiem by Brahms. It sounds uplifting, cheerful, and transporting.

How did this happen? Google’s neural networks are getting better at listening to my private chats (!) and/or analysing my emails. I strongly suspect the latter because yesterday, I emailed myself the ecclesiastical portion of a coronation scene that I am writing. It’s for a new novel, but the machine believes that I’m Catholic or something. Oops.

I love the song. And I still can’t write poetry.

Categories
art creative writing poetry women

Psycho Fan

One is a crowd.

My addiction of choice is your past.
Its powerful spell makes me anxious,
creates a tension that is so deep.
You are cocky and terrific. Grinding
right there is the hardest thing in the world.
But your stuff was beautiful and
the consummation was
a thing of enchantment.
I genuflect under control.

The second half makes me want to get
squelched so fast into several pews.
The three-part thing was so spontaneous.
You are a pretty raw wonder. You did
something really special with your stick.
Took a minute for it to sink in.
Just love to picture it.

How beautiful to know
it all works inside me.
Truthfully, strong man, morality
is all stupidity and foolishness.
I think I’m pouting, yet taking it
painfully is humbling.

Always,
Psycho Fan

The comments remind me of a time when humans had a sense of humour and understood sarcasm. Originally published May 25, 2015. Image by Diana Vartanova via Unsplash.

P.S. Still unable to see any notifications for this post five hours after posting. Please leave a comment so I can holler at you.

Categories
about me creative writing fiction People

Oh my gosh…

Google is doing a terrible job stalking me on my new iPhone SE. Look at the ad they showed me (renting out your property circa death) while I was watching that Nicki Minaj video. Like, what exactly are they trying to imply? The Anaconda music video is at 943 million views, so I know you all saw it.

I don’t want none of this ad, hon

I am preparing to publish my first novel, The Quarter Percent, while working on new projects. Hurricane Nisto is still angry but her story will unfold in a different part of this solar system.

The Quarter Percent pays homage to Greek tragedies and is written in an episodic format with a ‘time-as-protagonist’ feel. I wonder if I should worry that some readers may not understand this even after I have suggested “focus on the timeline” in the two blurbs and the trailer? The story itself is based on William Shakespeare’s play Lear of Britain. We meet King Cordial on a Sunday morning and almost two weeks later, on a Friday morning, … read the novel.

Don’t judge me…

I grew up around famous people and I know that for them, every problem is an image problem. The narrative style of The Quarter Percent is meant to illustrate the superficiality of this world. Quarter percenters are obsessed with what others think, and are doomed to live from one crisis to the next.

My question for you is do I need to create a long blurb for the back cover or should I trust readers to work things out for themselves?

Categories
about me creative writing fiction opinion

One is selling out, but will they buy it?

Image by Carolyn V via Unsplash.

For my next project, I was planning to sell out and write a romance novel. Not sure how, because I can’t even watch people kiss on telly. On top of that, real research with live participants is going to be a dead end, as I have no game.

After reading the treatment, I realised it wasn’t romantic. So I set it aside and tried to write a few scenes. Still nothing. To procrastinate, I googled name generators. That was when I spied an automatic romantic plot generator. The software gobbles up keywords and spews out plots in mere seconds. Here, you will see what I got when, just for fun, I tried it on for my new fiction project.

AUTO GENERATED PLOT

Madeleine Locke is a stunning, fit and focused actress. Her life is going nowhere until she meets Badger Mulroney, a slim, tall man with a passion for wealth. Madeleine takes an instant disliking to Badger and his stubborn and obsessive ways. However, when a stalker tries to smear Madeleine, Badger springs to the rescue. Madeleine begins to notice that Badger is naive at heart. But, the pressures of Badger’s job as an intimacy coach leave him blind to Madeleine’s affections. Madeleine focuses on fame to try and distract herself. Finally, when controlling model, Hurricane Nisto, threatens to come between them, Badger has to act fast. But will they ever find the sizzling love that they deserve?

Auto-generated plot for a romance novel

Brilliant! Even I couldn’t have come up with an outline as terrible as that on my own. Then, I wondered, “Is there, like, an automatic novel generator, because I don’t wanna, like, you know, write a whole novel?” The answer is, yes, there is.

I plugged in the name of my main character, some adjectives, emotions, objects, place names, et cetera, and put the software to work. This is supposed to be a romantic short story, but as you can see, the software does not believe me.

Image from Arno Senoner via Unsplash.

ANGRY HURRICANE NISTO
An auto-generated story

Hurricane Nisto looked at the shattered shovel in her hands and felt angry. She walked over to the window and reflected on her freezing surroundings. She hated isolated Skartoya with its greasy, glamorous glacier. Then she saw someone in the distance. It was Madeleine Locke, a stubborn diva with hot hands and tight legs. Hurricane gulped and glanced at her own reflection. She was an angry, obsessive, wine drinker with skinny hands and tall legs.

Once, she had rescued Madeleine’s career from a burning building. But not even an angry person was prepared for Madeleine today. The blizzard teased like posing cheetahs. As Hurricane stepped outside, Madeleine glared at her with all the wrath of 8,484 controlling vigorous vixens.

They looked at each other with frustrated feelings, like two crispy, calm cougars acting at a very ruthless press conference, which had violin music playing in the background, and two vile uncles shilling to the beat. Madeleine looked jealous, her emotions blushing like a smooth, stinky satellite antenna. Then she stepped inside for a nice drink of red wine.

THE END

Thank you for reading my word soup. Have a great weekend coming up.

Categories
about me art creative writing fiction opinion

North to South

Illustration by Poelosophy

Indonesian artist, Poelosophy, created some concept art for my novel. There is an exhibit in Dublin, ‘North to South’, which features aboriginal art from Northern Europe and South America. The exhibit is the setting for a scene entitled ‘Big Daddy Pharma’.

Thank you for leaving encouraging words for me when I wrote about the impossible task of getting promotional work done. I’m still processing ideas and will be working on them as I go. Feeling like giving up is part of the journey. But I was amused at suggestions that I should actually toss my project. Hold on a second. I haven’t tried everything yet.

North to South – illustration by Poelosophy

And I am quite sure that if someone were to lend me their celebrity friends and let me slobber all over them in the club, my novel would get downloaded really fast. A Russian woman who pretended to be a German heiress, and stole millions, has deals with Netflix and Shonda Rhimes. Other people, who look different, would be rotting, anonymously, in jail. So let’s be realistic about what’s going on out here.

In the past, I would have been totally destroyed by “delete your book” remarks. But Fifty Shades fan fiction 365 Days was optioned by Netflix. The film skyrocketed to first place last weekend. It tells the story of a gangster who kidnaps a woman, ties her up, and assaults her for an entire year so she will fall in love with him. Even the people who said they hated it, watched it to the end, and uploaded reviews to their YouTube channels. In other words, the release was a success.

If that film is out there, it means two things. One, thinking in terms of ‘good writing’ or ‘bad writing’ is unhelpful. Two, the universe now needs to be balanced, so I will be publishing my novel.

Perceived quality is not a metric that can be influenced by hand-wringing. Instead of telling people what they should/shouldn’t like, I should focus on finding (a) people who will read anything, (b) people who like everything they read, (c) people who like to read full-length novels on mobile devices and (d) people who collect ebooks.

The search continues …

Have a great week ahead.

Categories
about me creative writing opinion

Illustrations

Gala and Cordial of Vale – Illustrations by Victoria Seow

So after literally a week of gymnastics and writing while standing on my head, I’ve managed to format my fiction novel. And rework the timeline after finding out I have physically shredded five key scenes, which I wrote longhand. The novel is completely re-drafted. Edited, done. Not only that, I’ve managed to weave a coherent timeline for all of the scenes. On top of that, the conclusion is tight, the prologue is tight, and the epilogue is tight. I even have a brilliant idea for cover art.

Augustine Santa Clara- Illustration by Victoria Seow

But guess what? The geopolitics is mucked. The Monarchy of Vale (the fictional name of my country) has to be landlocked for the story to work. My protagonist is an absolute monarch of a fictional country that’s needing to negotiate with trade partners, also fictionalised.

My basis for designing the Continent was Europe, with different borders, same cities but different country names. But the m-effing European Union, in real life, it’s just sat there. It already has a trade bloc and negotiates on behalf of member states. While editing, I realise cannot use the word “Europe” or euro as currency. I could use a pound but then readers will be confused, thinking I’m talking about the UK. I am not.

I know I’m overthinking this. I know it’s fiction. But you know how certain types of people are. They immediately start fact checking your fiction. Do you guys remember Pandora? Pandora, my retelling of a doesn’t exist mythological creature entity person. Got Wikipediaded!!!

I know myself. I will trash that thing if someone bothers me.

I might have to situate this entire story on a completely different planet where the sentient beings are octopuses.

Special thanks to Victoria Seow / sunflowerfox for drawing these characters from my novel.