The Bottle Stopper (The World of the Paper Duchess)

The Bottle Stopper modelThe Bottle Stopper is the first book of The Paper Duchess series and follows the story of Maeve; a young woman who has grown up living on The Floor: the slums of the city of Falside.

Falside sits on the cliffside at the edge of the stinking Falwere River, and The Floor is the bottom terrace. People here live within the actual silt of the river itself, and the majority of their work, their supplies, and their sustenance comes from the water. While some of the houses are more established, boasting luxuries such as electricity, running water, and indoor bathrooms, many dwellings on The Floor are little more than makeshift shacks.

But it’s not all mud and smelly fish down here. The slums lie beyond the overbearing jurisdiction of the administration, and doesn’t suffer the rules, regulations and controls that the rest of Falside does. And in a city where women are owned by the administration, that’s a big bonus. In addition to that, the inability to conceive a girl is an affliction that the people of the slums seem to be immune to. Their women are many, and they are free.

So, if you’re happy to trade a simple existence, and a bit of hard graft for your freedom, for your right to choose who to marry or, indeed, if you marry at all, then the slums is the place you want to be.

The World of The Paper Duchess

Falside Map

The Paper Duchess series is set in Falside, a city that sits on the edge of the stinking Falwere River. It climbs up the cliffside, arranged across six terraces, each distinct from the others.

The books are set some 100 years from now, but it’s certainly not the typical science fiction view of the future. For the general residents of Falside, technology has largely been abandoned after the administration started using it to spy on every moment of their lives. They don’t carry phones, or use the Internet. They live in a way that we would consider to be a regression.

And technology isn’t the only thing that’s regressed. In Falside, women living under the administration’s rule are removed from their families at the age of sixteen, when they begin their preparation for life as a wife and mother. The only role that most women in the city will ever have.

Falside is suffering a crisis. The birthrate of girl babies has fallen to catastrophically low levels, and the city is running short of women. The administration’s answer to this plight is to take ownership of every girl born, subjecting them to strict controls, constant tracking, and arranged marriages. But, as with any system, there are those that embrace it, and those that fight against it.

It’s not fun being a girl in Falside…

The Best Thing I Got from Edge-Lit 6

Edge-LitEdge-Lit is Derby’s annual romp into the world of speculative fiction in the form of a fantastic and friendly literary convention. It also marks my annual escape into the world, and a day that I get to only think about me. My special day that I get to totally nerd out with other people who are nerdy about the same stuff as me. Wonderful.

As is the way with conventions that you’re a regular at, it gets easier, and more tempting, each year to simply sit in the bar chatting. But, for me, it’s all about finding a balance.

Edge-Lit offers some discussion panels, guest speakers, book launches, and workshops. And a goody bag, of course. So it would be amiss of me to spend the entire day simply chewing the fat. You see; balance. Because while some great stuff happens in the sessions, equally great stuff happens out of them too.

With the noted omission of some familiar faces, all the usual crowd were there, and it was so good to catch up with them. But I also made sure I caught a panel, a guest speaker, a book launch, and a couple of workshops. It’s just a shame Edge-Lit don’t have a cloning machine at the front desk, It would have been handy to have been able to be in two places at once.

Everyone talks about the ‘post con slump’ or ‘the comedown’, and it’s true. This one special day that you’ve planned for and looked forward to for ages is suddenly over and real life returns. Like Christmas. But there’s one very important, and very exciting thing that I always come away from Edge-Lit with. Ideas. Loads and loads of ideas.

Like I said, great stuff happens in the sessions, and I came out of those with pages and pages of notes, but great stuff happens out of them too. The networking. Everyone discussing projects, collaborations, opportunities. It’s brilliant. It’s inspiring. And those conversations have fuelled me with plans, and things to mull over, and motivation. That’s what I love about Edge-Lit; all the shiny new ideas.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Progress is Progress. But…

Insecure Writer's Support GroupToday is July’s instalment of Insecure Writer’s Support Group, which sees hundreds of writers and bloggers worldwide post about their insecurities, support others with theirs, and offer up advice for overcoming them. If you want to visit the other IWSG member blogs, or sign up yourself, you can do so here.

I’m currently plugging away at the first draft of The Mothers, the final book in my Paper Duchess series.

It’s moving forward nicely enough, following the plot, but it’s slow. With life and family pressures and distractions, I have very little writing time, and this one really seems to be dragging. Or maybe I’m just feeling more impatient because it’s the last in the series.

With a lot of writer friends currently rocking Camp NaNo, I feel like I’m a snail being left behind. I know that progress is still progress, and, even if I only manage to write 100 words a day, it’s 100 I didn’t have the day before. But it’s not easy to convince myself.

Are you a slow writer? What do you do to speed up production? And where do you find pockets of writing time during the day?

Got Goals? Slow and Steady

Big Goals BloghopJune has not been a bad month at all, writing-wise. As for real life, it’s been nothing short of turbulent. And it’s that reason that I’m not as far forward in my writing of The Mothers as I would have liked. But, real life happens, and sometimes, we have no choice but to make room for it.

But I’m moving forward, slowly but surely, and the first draft is about a quarter written now.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about my next series, for after I publish The Mothers, and I’ve had a good chat with my alpha reader, my husband. We came up with some great ideas, which has added in things that are going to be great fun to play with. I’m feeling much more sure of that now, and it’s nice to know where I’m heading after I finish The Paper Duchess series.

So, yeah, it’s just a case of carrying on, really. And hoping for a calm, quiet July with lots of writing time.

How’s your month been? If you want to visit the other blogs in this blog hop, or fancy signing up yourself, check out the linky list here: sylmion.blogspot.co.uk/p/do-you-have-goal.html

Review: A Mask of Shadows by Oscar de Muriel

A Mask of ShadowsA Mask of Shadows is the third book in the Frey and McGray series; a collection of Victorian gothic paranormal crime thrillers. What’s not to love? You can also read the reviews of the first two books; The Strings of Murder and A Fever of the Blood.

★★★★★
Just when I thought that this series couldn’t possibly pull in any more things that I love, the third book manages it, with a story drawing from the infamous curse that hangs over The Scottish Play.

Frey and McGray are at it again, with their usual hilarious banter and personalities that clash more than McGray’s wardrobe. But somehow, despite the twists and turns, the conspiracies and secrets, and their unorthodox approach, they always pull together to save the case in spectacular fashion.

The mystery was so involved, so gripping, but Frey and McGray’s personal lives weren’t forgotten, with Frey winning a point against his estranged brother at last!

This book kept me guessing right up to the final reveal. Well, actually, this one has a final, final reveal. Loved every minute of it, and now comes the agonising wait for the next book!