The Clockwork Bluebird
Maia and her brother Tyler find themselves in the midst of a war between the Faerie Courts on Christmas Eve. Accompanied by a talking dog, a clockwork kitchen servant and Fox the stable boy, they embark on a quest to save their lost parents and find the Bluebird.
The palace of Night and the Land of the Dead. Skyships. The Goblin Market. A black wolf and the Huntsman who pursues him. A gang of clockwork-enhanced children living in the lost Underground tunnels under the city.
This is The Children’s Bluebird as you’ve never imagined it.
Shirley Temple died today at age 85. I’m memorialising it here because she starred in a version of The Children’s Bluebird, which of course I based my own Clockwork Bluebird on. The movie was entitled The Blue Bird, and as saccharine as the original story was, the movie camped it up even further.
Here is a taste:
Rest in peace.
To show how excited I am about finally being able to say that The Clockwork Bluebird is alive (ALIVE, I TELL YOU…ALIIIIIIVE!!!) I’m having a giveaway. You can see details here. There is a rather nifty vintagey glass ball watch, a signed copy of the book, an ebook copy if that’s the way you rock, and a handmade steampunk journal. I’ve had this for ages, as you can see from the blog post that I wrote about creating it.
Check it out and enter if you can!
Today is a book birthday, of sorts, as I finally published (to very little fanfare) the book that I have been working on for a couple of years. Not having any type of a platform, you understand, means that if it was a birthday party it would be one of those very sad ones where it’s just family and your one best friend and there are no hired clowns or pony rides. :)
I’m not going to start spamming my Twitter feed with BUY MY BOOK NAO, THE BEST BOOK EVER!!! tweets…a good thing, too, as everyone that I know on Twitter is either a fellow gamer or someone that I’ve done cover work for in the past. If you see me indulging in obnoxious self-promotion just slap me down. Not in an over-the-top red wedding* style of course, but more as you would a inebriated friend who was making a tit of himself.
That said, if you would like to send a link my way, or read it for a review, let me know. I’ll give you all the information that you need. If you want to review it, let me know and I’ll send you a copy. I have a few things for a giveaway, which I’ll be posting in a week or so. Until then…crickets. :D
And now, back to the sequel…because I’m going to get a handle on this writing thing or die trying.
BUY MY BOOK NOW, BEST BOOK EVER! IF YOU LIKED HARRY POTTER, STEPHEN KING, SHAKESPEARE, PABLO NERUDA OR TWILIGHT, YOU’LL LOVE THIS!
*Wasn’t that the most entertaining meltdown on the interwebs EVER?
PS: I do have to admit that there is a huge thrill in just seeing it out there on Amazon and everything. It seems all…real.
I come by my love of reading honestly, as when I was a kid my parents read to me all the time. Both of my parents were passionate readers and throughout my life my father and I shared a love of certain books and authors. The Travis McGee novels and Dick Francis were shared passions, and even when we couldn’t talk about much else (I was a horrible teenager) we could still talk about books. My mom and dad would take us to the library to check out our weekly armload of books, which was the high point of my little-kid week. We lived ten miles or so outside of town, and once they drove halfway home before realising that they’d left my youngest sister sitting in the little kids’ section. Good times. :)
One of the books that my dad used to read to us when we were little was The Children’s Bluebird. The book had been his as a child and eventually was passed on to me; of course I lost it during my footloose early twenties when I was moving from city to city. I managed to lose a lot of things during that time. I always remembered that story, though, and have always wanted to write my own version of it. The original is a product of the era in which it was written; loaded with sentimentality and saccharin emotions it hides an extremely warped and twisted core. I wanted to write a version which stripped away the sentimentality and kept the twisted bits, a version updated and streamlined for more modern readers.
Several years ago my mother died from complications associated with ALS. My father was diagnosed soon after with cancer, which started in the bladder and then spread all over, bowel and spine and so on. It was incurable, but he was strong – having been given a matter of months to live, he survived for two years. During that time I rather abruptly went freelance with my artwork and when NaNoWriMo rolled around decided to participate and finally write the book that I’d been thinking about for ages. It’s dedicated to him and although he was too sick to read it at the end, he did read the dedication. I’m thankful that I had a chance to at least put it in his hands before the end…he is such a huge part of who I grew up to be. He taught me about being brave and doing the right thing, even (or especially) when that is hard to do. He gave me my moral code and my honesty. Oh, sure, I’ve been a fuckup in the past, and will most probably be one again, but I I do try to be strong and do good in the world.
So. Back to this book.
The Clockwork Bluebird is a steampunk, or clockwork-punk, fairytale retelling of The Children’s Bluebird set in an alternate-universe Victorian England. The main characters, Maia and Tyler Lemarchand (every name has a meaning – I had fun with this) are the mixed-race children of an inventor and the daughter of the Moon; they get caught up in the middle of a clandestine war between the Fae Courts. There are goblin markets and black dire wolves, a gang of clockwork-limbed children called the Tatters that live in the lost Underground tunnels beneath the city and even a talking dog. Working on this was pure fun from start to finish and I hope that it is equally fun to read.
I’ll post more about this later…mainly I just wanted to tell my father that I loved him. I miss you so much, Dad. And all of this is for you.
Samhain (like Beltane) was seen as a time when the “door” to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings, to come into our world. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. – Samhain on Wikipedia
During all the panic and muppet-arm waving about NaNoWriMo starting tomorrow, it just dawned on me that at this time last year my father was still alive. The book that I was planning on writing was based on an old story that he used to read aloud to me from a worn book which had been his own as a boy. It was all for him (and the result was indeed dedicated to him).
I’d flown back to the US in September for my last visit with him and starting that project had a lot to do with finally writing it for him. Not because it was a book that he would like, mind you – but because of the family memories associated with the original book. I finished it before he died and managed to get a rough first draft to him which he was too ill to read, but at least he got to see the dedication. It meant a lot to me.
I have four sisters, and I suppose we were all “Daddies Girls.” He was such a larger-than-life figure to us all. (And to the community where we lived, to be honest – he did so much for the town and surrounding county. He headed the local Search & Rescue, assisted with creating the local chapter of the American Red Cross, was awarded Reserve Peace Officer of the Year and a Meritorious Service Award from the Sheriff’s Department.) More than that, he was the man who spent every weekend camping with us, or teaching us to hunt, or giving us riding lessons and hauling us to horse shows. He spent one night every month stressing over the household budget for the next month (we weren’t exactly wealthy) with a half-full glass of Scotch at his elbow to ease the pain. He was the strong backbone of our family, and once he was gone we drifted apart.
So tonight on All Hallows Eve I will light a candle for my father to show that I remember. And tomorrow I will attempt to make sense of my mess of a book idea because he despised quitters, and whiners, and liars – and I will be better than that. He is still my rock.
In a garden of black trees the Queen of the Unseelie Court paced, trailing midnight-blue velvet carelessly through the wet grass. At her side walked a huge black wolf, its shoulder as high as her waist.
“You have done well,” Night said, trailing a hand over the rough head of the barghest walking beside her. He shrugged off her hand, irritated at being treated as one of her pets. As her oldest soldier, and her assassin, he was allowed his irascibility.
“The Tower holds firm, and the Moon is drowned. We are close to ending the reign of the Court of the Light,” he rumbled.
Night reached up and grasped a white apple from one of the twisted black trees. Pulling it free, she studied the pale surface in the dim light. “Plans are fragile,” she said. “Plans that take a generation to come to fruition can be broken in a moment, and there are still pieces in play.”
“The children?” the black wolf asked, looking up at her as they paced. “They are young, and weak. And they know nothing of what has happened.”
“Be sure that they remain that way,” snapped Night, tossing the white apple into the darkness and turning on her heel in a flurry of shadowed skirts. “Light may yet make her move. We must not be complacent.”
Ebony hair trailing in her wake, she strode to the spill of light coming from the arched door into the palace. With a sigh, the great black wolf turned and walked into the deep shadows of the forest.
The following is a fragment from something that I’ve been working on, which is a kind of steampunk retelling of a very old children’s book. Fairy tales are worked through many of the scenes; this one is a bit more broad than most.
CHAPTER 22: THE WITCHES HOUSE
When they came closer, they saw that the house was made of bread, and the roof was made of cake and the windows of sparkling sugar.
– The Brothers Grimm, Hansel and Gretel
Well, the book seems to be stuck with the working title, as I’ve got absolutely nothing else. Title fail.
Below are two covers that I have been thinking about, one more literal and one a bit more simple/abstract. The story is (without giving away what it’s a retelling of) an it-happened-all-in-one-night mad chase through various fairytales and through the middle of a war between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. It is steampunk fantasy, and would be placed somewhere between Middle Grade (as in the first Harry Potter book) and YA (as in the darker books which the series ended with).
Which cover would you be prompted to click through to if you saw it on Amazon? Which would catch your eye, and why? I think I fell into a quite unexpected trap, which is that I am having trouble visualising a cover for my own work because I am too close to it. In a recent post by Joel Friedlander, Book Cover Design and the Problem of Symbolism, he writes:
The problem is that authors are so attached to their own symbolism or to an image they have lodged in their mind that would be “perfect” for the book cover, they lose sight of the role their book cover is intended to play. One of the quickest ways to kill any good effect of your book cover is to include too many elements. In fact, this is one of the most common failures of amateur designers.
Yep, I’m there right now. So since I can evidently no longer see this objectively, what do you think? Images after the cut.