Approaching Printing...and British Herbs

I am approaching the final stages in publication. I've seen the inside layout of the book, and I've seen the almost-last drafts of the cover. The closer it gets, the more I realize I've actually done it: I've written a book and it's getting published. I can't imagine what it will be like to hold the thing in my hands. I suppose it will be fairly surreal for a bit, until I've lived with it for a while. Meantime, I'll be dropping the last payment off at the office later next week, and we'll begin discussion promotional venues - which probably includes me meeting and talking to people, strange people. Now, no offense to the strange people, I just haven't met you before, so try not to scare me. In a way I am looking forward to it, not only because it's my book and I want to see it distributed to the world (who wouldn't?) but because of the challenge.

Meanwhile, while my wheels grind about on Valentia, I've been turning botanist. Not a botanist in the strictest sense, but I've been studying British plants, mainly herbs and fruit trees, and I think that counts as botany. I have W. Keble Martin's excellent The Concise British Flora in Colour, my own little notebook in which to scribble down my findings, and the wide world of the net to scour. So far the venture as been thoroughly enjoyable. I think horehound, particularly black horehound, is the runner-up for the most interesting. It seems it can be used to cure just about anything, including the things you don't discuss in polite company. Crab apple must be my favourite, because that's what Mother and Daddy planted for me when I was born - and it can be a lovely, hardy tree - and chicory must sport the loveliest flowers I have seen so far. Britian is quite a fascinating isle.

General Update

I've written up my author biography (or, rather, Abigail wrote mine and I wrote hers), and I've sent that and my author photograph to my designer. Now I'm working on a map for him, and putting together a glossary. The glossary is a lot harder than I expected. I know what I mean, but I have no idea what all my readers may be scratching their heads over. I hope I wasn't too confusing in general, because that defeats the purpose of the story.

In other news, so far as I know, we are keeping the original title "The Shadow Things."

What I Learned from a Pooka

Pookas. Pookas are British, mythical creatures, shape-shifters, usually looking either like a black horse or a black goat. They are not typically malevolent unless you really get under their skin. Now, mythical creatures, particularly shape-shifters, are by nature slippery, annoying creatures, and what possessed me to incorporate one into Adamantine still confounds me. I surprise myself sometimes. But nevertheless, the pooka got in, and finding it an interesting character, I decided to work it to my advantage.

At first I was concerned. I already had a chief antagonist for my main character, and I thought a fickle, capricious pooka might be too much. I did not want to detract from the oppressive power of my antagonist nor steal his limelight. In a smaller story, it might have been disastrous; but Adamantine is somewhere over 200,000 words (and still growing a little), so that gave me plenty of elbow room. And in the end, the pooka turned out to be an excellent asset for the plot. It could hound my protagonist in ways my antagonist could not, and both the pooka and my antagonist could have their agendas loosely woven together so that, while they still remained separate with two entirely different goals, they could work together to a common...evil.

In the end, the pooka gave me the unpredictable, changeable evil influence that I needed to keep my protagonist on her toes, while my main antagonist lent the constant undertow of evil to the story. Factoring in the size of the story, I had enough time to pull it off without either character being too shallow.