Marie Marshall

Author. Poet. Editor.

Tag: publishing

How Millie draws a Fresh Cat

© Millie Ho

© Millie Ho

I really want to share this with you, just so that you can see Millie Ho’s hands at work. Millie (how could you forget?) is the artist who has provided a cover illustration for The Everywhen Angels. She claims all kinds of artistic influences, but at the end of the ol’ cliche day what she produces is all her own work. The ‘cat’ in this video is – kind of – the Fresh Prince of Bel Air of the cat world. I especially love his copter cap – I haven’t seen a cat in one of those since Hanna and Barbera’s Mr Jinks wore one. And yes, those are fish.

The quality of ‘Phoenix’

Editor-in-Chief of The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes, Richard Vallance, comments on the physical quality of the book: 

“… The slip cover is in rich full-colour on high quality glossy paper. Now, there is a world of difference between cardboard bound and cloth-bound hard cover books, and this anthology is cloth-bond. The thirty-five black-and-white illustrations in the anthology itself beautifully complement it. The page layout of the sonnets (two per page) is highly professional, as readers will see the moment they open the book… As for content, stand prepared, my fellow editors, poets, sonneteers, readers and other publishers. You are in for a most pleasant surprise…’

The anthology is currently available here, and will soon be available at the major on-line retail outlets.

Millie and Marie meet some Angels

© Millie Ho

© Millie Ho

The first 'Angela' © Millie Ho

The first ‘Angela’ © Millie Ho

Recently it began to seem like a good idea to find cover art for The Everywhen Angels, my soon-to-be-published novel for older children, in a bit of a hurry. The idea was to publish well in time for Christmas, in order to advertise it for the seasonal market. Well, that might not happen, but in any case the perceived urgency gave me the chance to ask Canadian artist Millie Ho if she could come up with something post-haste. I sent her a copy of the draft manuscript, we discussed an idea I had in mind, and Millie set about constructing it.

Almost every day a sketch would come of one or all of the main characters – Angela, Charlie, and Ashe.

The first 'Ashe' © Millie Ho

The first ‘Ashe’ © Millie Ho

I watched their characters take shape. In the book, we read the same story three times, each version as seen by one of this trio. With each version we get more of the back-story, and maybe more revelations about the underlying mystery. All of it? Hmmm, wait and see. I ask a lot of the young readership; for example, Charlie’s story is told backwards, and one of the first things that happens is that he emphatically contradicts one of the major events of Angela’s story. I touch on ‘difficult’ philosophical matters but, as I learned from my literary hero in the genre of fiction for young readers, Alan Garner, an author should never underestimate the intelligence of his or her readership.

The first 'Charlie' © Millie Ho

The first ‘Charlie’ © Millie Ho

The book came about as a result of a heated but amicable argument between myself and some friends. They are all Harry Potter fans, and I was tearing JKR’s literary style to shreds*. They said I should either write a fantasy set in a school and make it as good as one of hers, or shut up. So I wrote one! It doesn’t quite qualify as a ‘fantasy’, but it does feature a group of teenagers with weird powers. An early draft was tried out on the twelve-going-thirteen-year-old daughter of one of these friends. It was read to her one chapter at a time, at bed time, in return for tidying her room and doing her homework. Never had her room been so tidy, and never had her homework been so promptly completed! I think I more than won the challenge. So does my publisher, P’kaboo, who has been enthusiastic about securing and publishing the book. I did try it with Head of Zeus first of all, who asked to see the full manuscript and were impressed by it, but decided it didn’t fit with the portfolio they were building up. P’kaboo then practically tore my hand off to get it.

You will soon be able to read the book, and you will soon be able to see more of Millie Ho’s artwork on the cover. There is a teaser of the final cover illustration at the top of this article. From the sketches here you will be able to see how Angela and Ashe developed from waif-like individuals to young people with great presence. Charlie’s sardonic streak was visible right from the word go.

The Angels take shape. © Millie Ho

The Angels take shape. © Millie Ho

My publisher  was as enthusiastic as I was about Millie’s finished illustration. Millie and I are now talking about further collaboration. There is a possibility of some high-action teen-vampire fiction of mine being turned into graphic novels by Millie’s ink and brush. Millie has already added the word ‘fangirling’ to my vocabulary – it’s what we do with regard to each other’s work. Seems like a good basis on which to continue. I’ll keep you informed.


* Fair’s fair – at the end of the day, JKR can ignore my opinion all the way to the bank, and good luck to her!

And so the Phoenix has risen at last!

phoenix2The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes is – if you didn’t know already – an ‘Anthology of Sonnets of the Early Third Millennium’. by that I mean it contains examples of this long-established form of poetry written by contemporary poets. More than two hundred and fifty poets have been included in this book, and it is the first anthology of specifically 21c sonnets to be published. Editor-in-Chief is Richard Vallance, former Editor before his retirement and the magazines’ closure of Sonnetto Poesia and Canadian Zen Haiku. This anthology is his swan song as an editor. I’m proud to have worked alongside him not only as part of the editorial team of SP and CZH, but also as Deputy Editor of The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes.

At present the book is available at Friesen Press in hardback and paperback, and from eBookPie for your electronic reader, but will shortly also be available at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, etc.

I really can’t recommend it too much. I know the work that went into it, I know the personal exertion that Richard went through to produce it, I know how the editorial team toiled. Most of all I know the quality of the poetry in the book – it is outstanding. There isn’t a poet in there who doesn’t warrant more reading. The sonnet is far from dead, and those people who choose to take the form as a vehicle for their poetic expression don’t do so out of nostalgia, but because it works. This anthology is a work of quality.

From Shogunate Japan to the Bayous with Sam Snoek-Brown


If you have fifteen minutes to spare, I recommend watching this video clip of Sam Snoek-Brown, a writer for whom I have enormous respect. In this televised interview he talks about such things as how he teaches his creative writing students all about getting rejected by publishers. But the main topic of the interview is his forthcoming novel Hagridden, and the influence of classic Samurai movies on his writing. The novel is set at the time of the American Civil War, but its action happens well away from the battlefields, cities, and plantations of North and South.

I’ve been here before


It seems like only days ago that I was proof-reading the final draft of Lupa. There were three of us on the task, and we still let a glaring typo go through into the first print run. Now I’m at the same stage with The Everywhen Angels, and I’m a little jumpy about making the same mistake. I always blame typos on my legendary North Korean keyboard, but no one really believes me. The other thing that has me on the edge of my seat is the prospect of seeing the cover illustration. I have passed my own ‘vision’ to the house illustrator, but who knows what he will come up with. Reactions to his cover for Lupa were very good – not without exception, but you can’t please everyone.

Meanwhile my new teen-vampire-themed novel is progressing slowly, after an initial burst, but it definitely is progressing, and probably more quickly than anything I have ever written. A bit.

I would like to remind you that if you would like a free e-book copy of Lupa you can still get one – but hurry! You’re also invited to send in a review, with the possibility that you could win an autographed copy of the novel. You will see from the on-line review form that it doesn’t have to be a long review, but the text box on the form does expand to allow you to ‘wax lyrical’.

100 free ebook copies of ‘Lupa’!


That’s an offer you can’t refuse. For a limited time, and in a limited amount, my novel Lupa will be available as a free ebook, along with Lyz Russo’s futuristic adventure The Mystery of the Solar Wind, Douglas Pearce’s weirdly witty Almost Dead in Suburbia, and Leslie Hyla Winton Noble’s Tabika for younger readers. There are no strings, but you are invited to take part in round two of the P’kaboo Facebook Share Contest. Step one of round two is reading the book of your choice (all four, if you wish!) and writing a review. Read all about this on Lyz Russo’s blog, or just go direct to P’kaboo’s online bookshop and download any of the books from there.

Demons and Angels

A few days ago I asked you this question: What well-known character in children’s fiction is known in Chinese as Fú Dìmó? I had many interesting answers either as comments or tweets, some of which are contained in the montage below – including the correct character, which nobody guessed. Have a look at the montage, and see if you can spot the correct character. I’ll reveal the answer below.

Who is Fu Dimo?

I’m guessing that you had no trouble identifying each of the characters in the montage. Each answer was imaginative, even if Fu Manchu and the cast of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon stretched the idea of ‘children’s fiction’ a little far. Whoever guessed Harry Potter probably got the closest, but still ‘no cigar’.

The correct answer is… Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter canon. You could have spotted the phonetic similarity between ‘Voldemort’ and ‘Fú Dìmó’. It might have been easier to spot if the translators had gone with their first idea, and had used a character ‘Fo’ instead of ‘Fu’. However ‘Fo’ can have associations with Buddha, and that might not have seemed appropriate for such a villainous character as Voldemort. It has been pointed out that the etymology of the name ‘Voldemort’ suggests ‘wish of death’. This fact reminds me of the difficulty of translating literary texts (I have done a little translating, mainly between French and English, and I briefly worked with the late Vera Rich, proof-reading an unfinished translation from Belarusian to English). JKR’s translators went for a phonetic rendering with an appropriately sinister meaning, rather than taking a meaning from the etymology of the original.

Anyhow, thank you to everyone who played the game with me.

That takes care of today’s demon. Now what about tomorrow’s angels? Just a quick update on The Everywhen Angels, my soon-to-be-published novel.  We have completed the major editing stage and are now looking at the first full draft, with our eyes open for any missed typos and new glitches. I received this comment from the publisher’s editor, himself no mean novelist: “… the book is something special. The characterisation is convincing. The narrative is entertaining and gripping, but at the same time shows a wealth of knowledge and research and introduces challenging food for thought on abstract matters…” That is quite something for a YA book. We’re still waiting for cover art, but hopefully the book will be out well before Christmas and in time for the publisher’s schools promotion.

More news as I get it.

“Can you write a teen-vampire novel for us?”


If you scroll down through this blog section of my web site, clicking on the older posts as you go (a worthwhile exercise, by the way, as there is some interesting reading there), you’ll come across occasional news updates of whatever my ‘latest project’ happens to be. So what happens to them? Where are the finished products? In most cases they simply aren’t. Finished, I mean. Many of them are little better than ‘good ideas’. Other things get in the way – editorial work, judging a competition, work, food, sleep, and so on. Mainly they run out of steam, or I run out of commitment, and I know that is a personal flaw – ‘successful authors’ don’t have this flaw, if you believe their soundbites. But I feel every project was worth starting, just to see if it would work, just to see if it would carry me along.

Anyhow, now that my second novel, The Everywhen Angels, is about to be published, I have been wondering why it has been so hard to complete a third. And then I was asked “Can you write a teen-vampire novel for us?” That’s as near as damn-it a commission! My instant answer was “Yes. No. Maybe.”

To tackle this I would need to re-think my daily schedule. I have been lazy when it comes to writing. I don’t do what good writers are ‘supposed’ to do, which is to spend a fixed time each day writing. I would have to re-commit to that. I would have to shelve the two novels-in-progress that I have. That wouldn’t be shelving much, I have to confess, because they are in the doldrums anyway; but as I shelved one to write the other and now would be shelving both, well that wouldn’t do much for my confidence in finishing the third. I would have to start turning down requests for my editorial expertise; I wouldn’t be able to start any other projects, I would simply have to focus on this. Then the teen-vampire genre has been flogged as near to death as the undead can be, and is lying there waiting for a stake to be driven through its heart. Stephenie Meyer has seen to that. Is there anything left to say? Is there an unused plot? Is there an unexplored twist, an unusual angle? You can see why I said “Yes. No. Maybe.”

However, it just so happens that I have a pottle of notes, fragments, poems, and short stories about a vampire hunter. Could something be reconstructed from these shards? Let’s see if I can bang a stake in without hitting my thumb, or anyone else’s…

‘My life as a coble’, and other things

poetry life & times2

Poetry Life & Times has published a poem of mine, ‘My life as a coble’. You can read it here. A coble, by the way, is a clinker-built boat common to the east coast of the UK, particularly Yorkshire; its construction is thought to come down directly from the techniques used to build Viking longships.

Meanwhile, P’kaboo Publishers have taken on my second novel, The Everywhen Angels. More news later, including some possible promotional events.