Countries of the Mind, part 1

Kingdom of Gekko EphemeraSome readers will remember Gekko, my imaginary world.  I created it back in 1997 in response to an art call in a rubber-stamping forum on GEnie(Youngsters may not remember the General Electric version of AOL, but it was a lot of fun back in the mid- to late-90s.  There were a lot of creative people who hung out there.)  I didn’t manage to finish the project in time, mostly because I got so carried away with the idea behind it.  I called it “Countries of the Mind” and I created a lot of ephemera which helped to define this world.  The image to the left is A. M. Gnocci, a famous castrato.  I used an engraving of Alexander Pope as the basis for this one.

I drew my own maps in those days, and the one to the right was the very first one I ever created.  At that time, Gekko was only a country, but as I wrote its history it grew very quickly into a continent and then into a world.  It couldn’t have existed in a vacuum.  Its ruling family married outside its borders, its army fought wars, its merchants imported amazing products such as the Sido Fruit de la Contusion (Bruisefruit), a stone fruit which looked awful but tasted heavenly.   Bruisefruit was grown only in Fata Morgana back then.


The names I used were all drawn from things I’d read or seen or heard.  Sido, the name of the mother of the author, Colette, became a city in Fata Morgana.  Kladder, the Dutch word for messy or spattered or confused, became a place name: Kladdersee, a body of water in the Arvidian Alps near Hammerklavier.  I was having fun playing with words, enjoying the sheer silliness of creating portmanteau language to describe a faux country.

Even after I ran out of steam on the initial inspiration, and that happened several years and a great deal of creative zeal later, I couldn’t forget Gekko.  Little by little it began to morph into a place where I could set stories; not just silly, jokey stories, but things that were good fiction.  I drew and redrew maps, and finally a few years ago I rewrote a number of the original stories for NaNoWriMo, trying to work them into a book of short stories about an imaginary world that still had no proper name.

In the next post, I’ll talk about how the world has evolved and about some of the stories I’m discovering within it.

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A-writin’ and a- promotin’

S'n'B 01
Image by dargie via Flickr

I just made myself an author page on Facebook.   The intention is to create a place where I can talk about my work without feeling like a lot of people on my friends list are rolling their eyes and thinking “WHO CARES??”  It’s going to stay politics- and kitty-free (okay well relatively kitty free.) and I’m hoping for some input from readers on any number of topics.

If you think it sounds like a good idea, stop by the Tracy Rowan Author facebook page, and click Like, or use the button on the main page of Persimmon Frost.

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Just when I thought everyone had forgotten me

I get a really nice review from Sizzling Hot Book Reviews for “Waiting for the Moon.”  Okay in all fairness I haven’t done anything new in a while (I’m writing like mad, but haven’t submitted anything recently because I’ve been considering my options.) and to be honest, I am so very bad at publicity that I’m actually my own worst enemy when it comes to getting noticed.

I’ve also been kind of preoccupied with my editing job, and the new kitty, both of which are working out very well.  I’m making a nice bit of money from the former, and while the latter is basically just costing me money, he’s giving me a lot of laughs watching him with Peeb.  They fly around here, wrestle like they’re killing each other, but as far as I can tell, no one even has a scratch, and there’s been no hissing, growling or even nervous squeaking.  They’re almost, dare I say it?  Made for each other.  I have the feeling that the team of Leonardo and The Peeb will be a very successful one.

So what do I have planned?  Well there’s the sequel to the briefly successful “Suffer the Little Children.”  It’s in first draft form, but I’m not quite sure what I want to do with it, so I’ve been holding off on editing it.  There’s a short story for a friend’s glamerpunk anthology, a story of what happens when a seemingly irresistible force meets… well another seemingly irresistible force.  There’s the original short story that I was going to send to the same anthology — a reworking of Wagner’s “The Ring of the Nibelungen” — until it became a novella, and whined at me for even considering not letting it be the novel it wants to be.

I’m also doing a sequel to “The Pavilion,” the story I wrote for the Healing Hearts charity sip blitz.  The main characters would not leave me alone.  I’ve been hearing them whispering to me since I wrote “The Pavilion.”  And I’m reworking an old story I wrote in my imaginary world; it’s the tale of a castrato’s loves and secrets, and it’s entitled “Anna Magdalena’s Song.”

I got a start on a swashbuckler-type story which I hope will turn into a whole mad, gender-bending series.  And of course there’s the young adult series that Glinda North and I are hashing out.  We’re not spending a lot of time on this right now, but I think it’ll come together more this winter when there’s less chance to be distracted by things like the garden.  Finally, I’m well along on a classic romance novel about a rich guy who learns a lot about the world and the people in it.  I don’t recall a time when I’ve had this many stories in the works at one time, but I never get bored!

However distractions do abound and they’re not all flowers and weeds.  I just finished Jennifer Matarese’s “Heroine Addiction” which I enjoyed and plan to review soon, and discovered that my review copy of “Aloha from Hell” the newest Sandman Slim novel, was waiting for me in the mailbox.  Score!

And, oh yes, I actually have a kind of life.  What a concept.

I’m a mommy again

Those of you who have followed the adventures of Miss Peeb over on my Facebook will know that I’ve felt that she needed a companion.  She’s got a lot of energy and she’s very affectionate; all her love and energy were being directed at me and apart from being wearing, I worried that she might be finding it difficult to cope when I go out.  She needed someone else to love.

I’d talked about this with my closest friends, and Pam found a listing from a local rescue group for a 3 year old male named “Mango.”  He seemed like just the ticket.  He was friendly, affectionate, good with other cats, especially young ones, laid back… perfect.  So I filled out the application, met him at his foster home, had the home visit from the rescue group (Yes, it was like adopting a human child!) paid my fees and went to pick him up.  Pam advised that after an hour of letting him explore the new place on his own (and a lot of hissing and growling) that we should let Peeb out to be with him.  I confess I was nervous, but apparently Peeb was not.  She flew out of the carrier we’d put her in, ran up and grabbed his butt, and then scampered off.  From then on it was clear that no matter how cranky Mango was, Miss Peeb considered him to be nothing special, and showed no fear at all.  At about the 24 hour mark, she was avoiding him because he was being very whiny and  tiresome, and it looked like he’d scratched her nose a bit (Nothing huge, but Mommy didn’t like it.) and I was wondering if it was going to work.  He didn’t have that wonderful, nurturing quality that I was told he had.

So I sat him down yet again and had a talk with him about how we wanted him to be part of the family, and that Peeb already liked him, and I wanted to like him, but he was making it hard.  Then Peeb came up and started grabbing him, and something seemed to change.  He still chased her around the house and hissed occasionally, but he was clearly playing with her.  After the second day the hissing and growling stopped.  No clear dominant cat has emerged, which is interesting.  She defers to him, he to her.  They solicit play from one another and there’s never any really aggressive scuffling the way there is with the nef-phews (Tommy and Buckaroo) upstairs.

In short, he is a very fine cat, and I’ve come to love him.   He is undergoing a name change.  I wasn’t nuts about “Mango” and wanted to name him something very special, so I chose the name “Leonardo.”  In part this is because he’s so very leonine, and in part it’s for Leonardo da Vinci, who has long been one of my greatest heroes, and who was a cat lover.  He once said “Even the smallest feline is a masterpiece.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Since Wednesday we’ve been a happy family.

Peaceable Kingdom
Signore Leonardo di Floofi and Miss Peanut Butter on neighborhood watch.


Yes, I have been pretty quiet lately.  Between the editing job and the new cat, my life is kind of busy.  Well, okay… fraught.

The print rights to “Suffer the Little Children” have reverted to me, and I’m seriously thinking about self-publishing it in paper.  I’m not going to make any decisions right off the bat but I’d be interested in hearing any opinions.  Would anyone out there buy a print copy?  Where should I look for a good publishing deal?

Meanwhile I’m sitting on the sequel, getting ready to do a final edit before I submit it to my publisher and to be honest, while I promised to show it to the same publisher as last time, I really want to consider my options for it, and the third title which is in the planning stages.

In the meantime, I’m working on a glamerpunk story (I’d never heard the term before, but it’s pretty cool) based on “Der Ring des Nibelungen” and a m/f  romance entitled “Will Work for Food.”

I also have a kid’s book entitled “Clowns in the Afternoon” that I seriously want to sell or publish myself.  Not sure which.  If the latter, I’m going to need to find an illustrator.  On the other hand, I have an idea for a book about the new kitten, tentatively called “The Peeb and I” and I think my illustration skills are up to that.  I can see the illos for some of the pages pretty clearly already.

I’m trying to think of some ways to boost the interest in the Nick and Davy stories, so I’ll be thinking about promotions and such.  If anyone has any suggestions…

Okay, back to writing.  Sorry I’ve been away so long.  I really hope to update my website soon as well.