Explore Cockaigne

It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I started the ‘Cockaigne Chronicles’ and now I have managed to get it done. I have designed Cockaigne’s own subsite, distinct and different from Screeve, I hope.

Because Cockaigne is a fictional place in our imaginations, I have tried to design a type of tourist site for potential visitors. I’m also hoping it will fire up your imaginations so some of you may write your own story in the Cockaigne universe.

All the Cockaigne stories are also on the site (I will also be keeping them on Screeve). As the stories develop and new characters are introduced I hope to add to the website.

I hope you enjoy the site and a new story will be coming soon.

What’s In A Title?

A title, along with the book cover form the first impressions of a potential reader. So to me, the title is important.

I had a working title, but that was just perfunctory. My first attempt at a title was:

Becoming Kes

Now I have changed it to:

Enhancing Kes

I’m not sure I like either of them but prefer the second title. But I think the reader might think I have written some sci-fi novel about a man being turned into a superhuman. It is definitely not that. Cockaigne does have some fantastical elements about it, but I would never classify it as sci-fi.

This then leads me back to my first title.

I am working on some book covers at the moment. I want to show you some soon and get your opinions. My biggest issue is adding the title text without it looking flat.

It’s Almost Finished

Well, I’ve finished writing my Cockaigne Chronicles novel. I’ve given it one read through and made some edits, I now want to give it a second read to catch anything I may have missed.

I’ve learnt several things in writing my first novel. (I have previously started to write a novel but never got around to finish it.) So, I approached this novel with a very loose structure, I knew where it would start and what would happen but didn’t have a fixed plan of how to get there. With no rigid plan, I allowed the story and the characters to develop in a way that felt right.

This meant that it would occasionally go in a surprising direction, some of which I think I handled quite well, others I think could have done with exploring more. But if I did that I was afraid the story would turn into a rambling mess.

What really irritates me about ‘long stories’ especially those on story sites, is that they start off well but end up an ongoing mess with the characters having no clear direction of where they are going. (And yes, that does include some of the stories on this site). As an author, you need to know the end of the story before you start.

For this reason, I have tended to write short stories or limited series. The rationale behind my Cockaigne Chronicles series was for it to be episodic, so there is no definitive beginning or end, each story is a slice of life and can be separate from each other. I’m not sure it turned out that way.

I mentioned previously that I was unsure of how to end the novel. What I wanted was an ending and not just a lure into the next book or story. I hope I have done that, but it does also form the start of the next story. That was a surprise for me. And I will start on the sequel novella next (and it will be a novella as the story isn’t sufficient enough for a full novel). That novella will be a type of ‘what happened next’ and will hopefully introduce the reader in how to start a life in Cockaigne. That will then bring us to the start of my second planned novel. It will be an entirely unrelated story but will feature some of the characters.

I looked at the sequel novella and asked myself, why don’t you just include it at the end of the novel? Well. I did consider that. But it wouldn’t really sit well with the rest of the book. The book isn’t about how the two guys get together and what happens to them, so adding that just felt to me I was in danger of carrying on the novel and it turning into a rambling piece with no clear direction.

As it stands I like the ending. The main story concludes and the secondary story is left in the air for the reader to either imagine what happens to them or to go on and read what happens.

I do not claim the novel to be perfect and I’m sure some typos will still show, although I have tried my best to catch them all, but I am quite pleased with it. As a first, I am satisfied with it but when I start on my second I will do some things very differently.

Now all I need is a title I like. I hate coming up with titles!

Beyond the Body

I wrote this story back in 2006. It is a kind of supernatural story about a guy who could ‘astral travel’. I really like this story and thought it could easily become a series, the possibilities are endless.

I wrote this specifically for bookpuppy.co.uk (a now-defunct story website). They were holding a competition and this story was one of three runners-up and I was given a 6-month subscription to the website. I also submitted some of my other stories.