Monday, 30 April 2012

Time-slip - illustrated?

Providence College mural - Greek vase painting comes alive!
While researching pictures of Ancient Greek athletes for the short video I mentioned in my last posting, I came across news of an event involving a very interesting mural. It was created at Providence College, Rhode Island, on a template by Peter Tigler. It was painted on February 11th by alumni, students, families, and guests of the college as part of a celebration of women in sport. 
There's a time-lapse video of the mural being painted here

I found this fascinating - almost an illustration of the time-slip that is the basis of the story in The Boy with Two Heads!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Messing about with video

One of my favourite occupations is messing about with movie clips to music. I sometimes make DVDs from video I've shot which I edit to fit to music. This takes me ages, so I don't do it often. But I decided last week that I wanted to do a short 'movie' as an introduction to my presentations about The Boy with Two Heads. 

The main part of my presentation is usually readings from the story that are relevant to facts, figures and photos that interest my audience. These may be about the Ancient Olympics, life and religion in Ancient Greece, the consequences of head injury, or any other facet of the story. But I wanted to prepare something for people to watch as they come in to the venue and settle down, and also to end with as we all leave. 

aerial view of Ancient Olympia in ?2000
The Greek part of the story of The Boy with Two Heads moves from ancient Athens via a journey by ship to ancient Olympia. I visited Olympia in 2007 (before the horrendous forest fires of August that year) and took movie of my wanderings through the ruins. I combined parts of this with stills and edited them to fit the theme music from the film Chariots of Fire which is by Vangelis (who is, of course, Greek). This took me two happy days.

St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
(By the way, the scene of men running on a beach that opens 'Chariots of Fire' was shot on the north beach at St Andrews in Scotland. A few years ago I stood on that same beach - but the weather was better than in the movie!)

Meanwhile, Connie at Trifolium Books is working on the restyling of the text of the story for the e-book. We want to get this uploaded by the end of the month. 

We spent some time working on that together last week. The weather was sunny but chilly and, during a break in our endeavours, we took a turn in Connie's garden. There were violets and forget-me-nots everywhere, lambs in the field next door, and blackbirds nesting by the house. I even saw my first swallow on the way home. They are said to be three weeks later than usual this year.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

An advantage of starting small ...

Over Easter I have started a new phase in this process of publishing using the internet. I have joined Twitter, though I have not tweeted yet. And I have begun looking for bloggers who read young adult fiction. This is fascinating, but incredibly time consuming. It feels good to know how many intelligent, questing minds there are in this world, but I need to get quicker at judging the ones I prefer to avoid!

A6 fliers front
Also over Easter, I visited a book shop with the family and found to my dismay (and Connie's) that the ISBN quoted on our flyers for The Boy with Two Heads had one incorrect digit. We have both since rectified this for future copies, but some 100 or more flyers have been handed round Cumbria since the beginning of March. Our apologies to all who have had trouble because of this oversight. 

However, because of the size of Connie's operation, this is not heart-stopping. I remember narrowly avoiding disaster when a title I was the publisher for called 'Grammar World' almost went to press called 'Grammar Word'. We were about to have some huge number of copies printed in was it Singapore? to distribute all over the world. Catastrophe was averted only because of the time difference - we noticed it while they were asleep. The next edition of the same book was printed with a different title altogether, but by then it was not my responsibility.

The correct ISBN for The Boy with Two Heads is: 978-0-9568104-4-1. 
So now, two heads, 130,000 words and 13 numbers are all present and correct.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Cumbrian tongue in cheek ...

In my last posting, I mentioned 'The Throstle's Nest', the play I contributed to for the town of Wigton's 750th anniversary of a market charter. But I forgot to mention that on Tuesday April 3rd, Prince Charles dropped into Wigton for a visit to celebrate the same anniversary. The weather did the inevitable, and threw wind and sleet at him. (And we had had ten such glorious summery days up until April 1st.) Still, he made the best of it. See Connie's blog ...

Two marmalade-loving celebrities in Cumbria?
(photograph © C&W Herald)
He had come to Cumbria to carry out various official engagements. One of them was to visit the eighth international Dalemain marmalade festival and awards, where it seems he met Paddington Bear ...

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Rural idyll

While I was away in London for the seminar, the theatre company in Wigton had a read through of the play called 'The Throstle's Nest' that I helped to write with other members of the North Cumbria Scriptwriters. It seems the company liked the play and are beginning rehearsals. I shall miss the actual performances but hope to drop in on a rehearsal some time in late May.


And now Easter is upon us. Flowers are out in the hedgerows ...


... and lambs are out in the fields.
In Greece they end up on spits over fire pits for the Easter feast. In Britain they end up in plastic packaging in the supermarket. I've been a veggie for almost 20 years, and can now look them straight in the eye ...

Monday, 2 April 2012

We take The Boy to school

Do you remember the photographer from the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald who nobbled me at Words by the Water at the beginning of March? An article and his photo of us there appeared in the paper on March 24th. It covers a lot of ground with admirable clarity.

I was in London when the paper came out. I went down there to attend a seminar at the Society of Authors about making author visits to schools. This gave me some very good ideas, but also pointed out some of the pitfalls. The most common questions students ask visiting authors seem to be "What's your favourite book?", "How much do you earn?" and ... "What colour is your underwear?" or some such personal probe designed to disconcert.

On Thursday I paid my first visit to a school as the author of a novel. Connie from Trifolium was with me and has also mentioned the visit on her Trifolium blog. I gave some historical background to The Boy with Two Heads, including locations, religion and the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece, and I read some short passages. 

In the first few pages of the story, one of the main characters is called Bernie (from Bernadette), and one of the teachers accompanying the school visit to Athens is called Mr Green. The class teacher at the Solway College who had organised the visit is called Bernie Green!

That coincidence caused a laugh or two, as did the fact that I had not noticed the three-letter English word in the middle of this Ancient Greek inscription. But my pictures of vase paintings and statues of naked athletes caused even more giggles (see Connie's blog). The subject of underwear, mine or anyone else's, did not arise, thank goodness.

Attic red-figure kylix, 520BC, by Pheidipos,
now in the British Museum
I hope the students learned as much as I did from the visit. Thank you, Mr Green and your colleagues, for your warm welcome and support.