The Mythology Behind the Land of Miu

Until now, the mythology behind the Land of Miu has not been shared with anyone. It wasn’t a secret, but I enjoyed writing the first two books without ever mentioning that the Land of Miu was built around Ancient Egyptian mythology.

Book 2, The King’s Riddle, does have a clear reference to the myth. Book 3, The Lion Gods, will be where all is revealed.

However, today, I am going to reveal the myth behind the Land of Miu.

For those of you who are familiar with the original publication of the first book (soon to be released with the title The Land of Miu, but originally published as “Cat’s Eyes”) you will recognise the image above as a similar version to what was used on the front cover.

This was not something I made up. It is a real Ancient Egyptian myth called Aker, also referred to as Akeru and Akerui. Aker was an ancient earth-god in Egypt. It is said that the two lions are guarding the entrance to the underworld to ensure evil spirits cannot escape when the sun entered the tunnels at dusk, travelled through the underworld during the night and exited the tunnels at dawn.

The image itself depicts two lions seated back to back with the symbol for the horizon on their shoulders with the rising sun. The lions themselves represent the sun setting in the west and the sun rising in the east. They were named Sef (Yesterday) and Duau (Today). The strip at the top is the sky, which is held up by the two peaks of Djew.

Now we get to the bit that involves the Land of Miu. The Egyptians believed there was a cosmic mountain range that held up the heavens. The western peak was called Manu while the eastern peak was called Bakhu. It was on these two peaks that the heavens rested and these are the two cities found in Miu.

We have the lions protecting the entrances to the underworld and we have the two peaks of the mountain supporting heaven. I found this to be a fascinating combination and the Land of Miu was built entirely around the image and the mythology associated with it.

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How the Land of Miu Began

On 29 July 2005 I wrote in a post, “Cat’s Eyes. What mysterious land is hidden within their depths?”

I was talking about the eyes of my female cat, Sophie (on the right in the photo above). She would (and still does) sit and stare at me with a knowledgeable look. I often wondered what she was thinking. And she always came across as a being that is older and wiser than her years. She is an aloof cat and she expects obedience from her human slaves … for that is how she makes us feel. For instance, she’s too good to use a cat flap; a cat of her status has door men or women to do her bidding. She acts like royalty.

On the other hand, there is also her brother, Jasper (on the left). He’s always been a loving cat and it’s not unusual for him to walk into the room, straight up to where you are sitting, jump onto your lap and pat your face with his paw. He wants totals focus from us. He wants lots of patting and loving. He’s bigger than his sister and he portrays a fearless leader. However, he’s not as courageous as he would like us to believe. On numerous occasions his sister was the one that killed a rat, but he would snatch it from her and pretend he was victorious in the hunt. And in a scuffle, we’ve seen Jasper hiding in the bushes while his sister exerts her authority in the cat kingdom.

Somewhere around this time in 2005 I had a dream. The exact date is not noted anywhere, but I still remember the dream clearly … mainly because it was referred to in the book.

I dreamt that a little girl went butterfly hunting in her large, secluded back yard. At the very back of the yard (and this really doesn’t make sense, but remember, it was a dream) there was a large rock that overhung a secluded spot below. There was a bit of a drop involved. Anyway, the girl rested on the rock and presently heard voices. When she gazed over the edge of this large rock she discovered two cats sitting together, talking about a mysterious underground world. The girl listened as the cats spoke of the trouble they were in, about another cat who was trying to kill them and what they intended to do to outsmart their pursuer.

I believe I woke up around this time. If not, I remember no more than this.

The dream and my two cats gave me the first glimpse of the Land of Miu. I wondered how I could make a story from these scant ideas and very soon had the basics of a world and at least two of the characters. Of course, I didn’t want the story to be about cats so I decided that the Miuan people could shape shift. Sophie and Jasper made a cameo appearance in the beginning of the first book (which at that time was titled “Cat’s Eyes”) as did a reference to the dream itself.

When the cats changed back to their Miuan form, they insisted they be called by their Miuan names which are Alara and Siptah. These two characters are joined by Kate and Emma, two human girls.

On 13 September 2005 I began writing the first chapter of the first book. It would be five years before the first book was published with the original name “Cat’s Eyes”. That was in December 2010. This month the second edition will be published with a new name, The Land of Miu.

Together, the four characters go on one adventure after the other. So you can expect to see more of them in the future. Apart from that no one can say what the future holds for the series, but where it came from is now quite clear.

The Land of Miu Series – New Titles

The Land of Miu series is changing, as announced in my post “Cat’s Eyes” to be Renamed. Yet it’s more than just the first book to be renamed and republished … and it’s all very exciting.

Regardless of my statement, “The cover for this book will remain the same…”, I have once again changed my mind and there will be a new cover too. It is in the process of being designed by a third party and I simply cannot wait to receive it and start promoting it to the world! That will happen by the end of next week, I think.

Besides the above, books two and three will also undergo a radical change. Both books have received new titles and I will commission new covers for them as well, once the first cover has been finalised.

The series name is unchanged. It has been and will remain The Land of Miu series. The three planned books are as follows:

The Land of Miu (Book 1), previously published with the name “Cat’s Eyes”, the second edition will be released on 25 November 2011.

The King’s Riddle (Book 2) will be released on 25 January 2012.

The Lion Gods (Book 3) will be released in late 2012 or early 2013.

“Cat’s Eyes” to be Renamed

A decision has been made to republish Cat’s Eyes as a second edition using a new title The Land of Miu. It has been a concern for some months that people will look at the former title and think the book is about cats, when in fact it isn’t. The book is about two young sisters who have an adventure in another world. It’s filled with magic, mythology, suspense and family. The only connection to cats is that the Miuan people are shapeshifters and often take the form of cats. They are also not human and have a resemblance to a cat with the top half of their face being very cat like, but don’t dare say that to a Miuan as they become highly offended by the comment. 😀

I feel “Cat’s Eyes” is a good name for the story, however, it does give the wrong impression and for that reason I know republishing with a new title is a good move.

Besides, it means the book will be updated in some ways. The cover for this book will remain the same as I think it’s highly important that the two versions resemble each other. It is also extremely important that the people who have already purchased the book KNOW this is the same story. I don’t want anyone feeling cheated and deceived.

Cat’s Eyes is the first edition. The Land of Miu is the second edition. They are one and the same book.

Books 2 and 3 will also be given a name change. The titles are yet to be confirmed.

Please refer to Kayelle Press for more details.

Walking the Indie Publishing Road

No, I have not fallen into a black hole. Yes, I am still writing (even though the progress bars in the sidebar are not moving). So what have I been doing? The last few months have seen me more focused on writing than I have been in some time.

My progress with Whispering Caves was going quite well. However, writing in first person presented a problem where I couldn’t present vital information as the main character had no way of knowing about it (or finding out about it). I came up with a solution, but am not convinced it is working that well. Having written 15,000 words, I must admit that the manuscript has been placed on the back burner, once again. I’m not entirely happy with this decision, but feel I should be moving forward on other completed projects before finishing this one.

The reason I’ve put the manuscript on the back burner is due to another decision I’ve made about my Cat’s Series (for young readers). There are four books in the series. Two have been written and edited. The other two have been planned, but need writing. As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve decided to publish this series of books myself.

At present, I’m trying to decide if I want to set up a publishing company (small press) or find out if there are other options that would be more suitable for my situation. I’m usually quite resourceful, but have had little luck finding any good information on what options are available to me. This may mean the options are limited, but I want to make an informed decision so I’ll keep searching.

Ideally, setting up a business would be great except I have no knowledge how to go about it or what it entails afterwards and this scares me…a lot! In fact, my own fear is holding me back from taking further steps and this not only annoys me, but frustrates me too.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on covers for the four books. As I’m not an artist, I’ve decided to go with a theme that will cover (excuse the pun) the entire series. The background colours will be bright, the main image will promote the essence of the series and then there will be another image that will be unique to each book. Books 2 and 3 are done, but I’m having a devil of a time with the cover of book 1 – Cat’s Eyes. I’ve been to many royalty free websites and have not found anything suitable. I have used family photos of my own cats to try and achieve a pair of cat’s eyes that would be right, but haven’t come up with the right look yet. A simple pair of black eyes on a transparent background, at a size suitable for cover artwork, will not defeat me!

That’s what I’ve been doing – artwork, editing, refining plans for the unwritten books, writing blurbs, researching and reading websites regarding indie authors, thinking about formats and publication. All these things are writing related.

If you know of any resources that may help me, please let me know. I need all the help I can get.

Book Covers are on My Mind

I’ve got a plan and that plan includes thinking about book covers. I look at them and try to work out what works and what doesn’t (for me). All readers are different, so what feels good to me might be a complete turn off for you, but that’s life.

With this in mind, I set out to find book covers, lots of them and I found the Book Cover Archive. It’s a perfect place to look when book covers are on your mind. There are pages and pages of them. It’s easy to see what colours work well together and those that don’t. It’s easy to decide if minimal is the best option, and also when busy is perfect. It’s great for learning about layouts and fonts and images too. When I look at them, I know instantly which ones I’d pick up and the ones I wouldn’t waste my time on.

Yes, book covers are on my mind. My only regret is that I can’t draw or paint or do anything slightly creative in that sense. But does that mean I can’t make a good cover? I hope not because I’ll be needing one or more soon.

I’ve decided to publish my cat’s series. Books 1 and 2 are written, but will need another edit before I move into the next stage of my plan. Books 3 and 4 are planned, but need to be written. The target audience is 9 to 12 year olds, so I’ll need colourful covers that will appeal to that age group. Oh how I wish I could draw because I know what I want but can’t think of a way to get it without it being drawn.

Stay tuned for further updates as I move along the indie publishing road.

Using Mind Mapping to Plan a Writing Project

Deborah Woehr has written two inspiring posts on this topic:

1. Experimenting with the Mind Map Technique, and,
2. How to Draw a Basic Mind Map of Your Characters.

I say these posts are inspiring because they lit something creative inside me that forced me to try mind mapping in my own writing. I’ve been having trouble moving forward with my projects, so trying something different certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Due to the life issues I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve decided to put Mirror Image on a back burner for a while as I’m not mentally strong enough to deal with that manuscript at the moment. Having made that decision, I turned to my other projects and felt myself drawn back to my children’s series. It was whilst I was combing the internet looking for inspiration that I came across Deborah’s first post.

Immediately, I felt the urge to try one of the software programmes she mentions in her post and I quickly found myself stalled. I was a little annoyed by this so I returned to the internet and revised my search strings, but continued combing the internet. At this stage I found a hand drawn image that resembled a mind map. In the middle was an untitled oval which had five “arms” going in different directions. At the end of the arms, where five simple words:

1. How?
2. When?
3. Where?
4. Who?
5. Why?

With these words, or questions, freshly planted in my mind, I returned to my stalled mind map…and away I went. It was such a simple thing, but these words had a powerful effect on my mind and allowed it to “open” up at last. Finally, my mind map started taking shape and the project is moving forward at last.

Thank you, Deborah, for putting me on the right path.

TiddlyWiki

Resuming work after a nice break is always difficult, but it has to be done if food is going to be put on the table. Today, I returned to work after a break of almost three weeks. *sigh*

However, I won’t dwell on that. Let me tell you what I’ve been doing – in terms of writing – since the beginning of the New Year. I’m pleased to be able to say that I have spent many hours every day on my writing projects. I haven’t actually written a single word, but there’s more to writing than the actual written word.

A friend told me about TiddlyWiki and showed me her files, so that I could see it in action. It’s free to download and use. There’s a tutorial if you need help understanding how a wiki works. Once downloaded, you just copy the file, changing the name of it (by doing this you can use the downloaded file over and over again) and then you can start using it straight away. There’s no real installation and it’s loaded onto your computer. You don’t need an internet connection to use it either, even though you use your browser when working with it. The file is small enough to put on a USB flash card too. It’s so easy!

I have used an online wiki before, so I understood the working of it, but needed a reminder how to do things like using the bold, italics and underscore features, and also how to insert images. There are plenty of other things you can do too ie ordered and unordered lists and blockquotes.

But what am I using it for? I know you want to know. It’s ideal for planning writing projects and for gathering all the research (including images you collect) associated with that project, into one file. Every aspect of the planning can be cross referenced too, which is brilliant! If you set up the wiki correctly, it will make your writing project organised, efficient and everything will be at your finger tips.

The first wiki I set up was for the Marlinor Trilogy. I have a lot of research material, which was placed in folders according to subject, but even so it was getting almost impossible to find anything (even when I knew the information I wanted was there…somewhere). Now that information is categorised, cross referenced and tagged…and there’s a search function too! Apart from that, I’ve also set up the planning for the story – world building, character lists, storylines, themes for each book, plots for each book and an in depth history, which also links to the research material to prove authenticity. It’s absolutely the best way to organise your planning.

Then I created a second wiki and started doing the same thing for the children’s chapter books.

I literally spent hours every day working on this, but the result is fantastic. I discovered I had changed the spelling of character names between book 1 and book 2 of the children’s series. That is now fixed. I discovered information in my original planning that had been lost or forgotten. That cannot happen again. I believe the children’s series and the trilogy will be better because of the time I’ve invested in getting these wikis right.

Now I intend to create a third wiki for Mirror Image. This is the project I should be editing, but I’m having trouble with. I’m hoping that, by creating the wiki, I’ll work out what the stumbling block is and get passed it.

I highly recommend TiddlyWiki. However, if you want to do the same thing online, from any computer, then I recommend PBWiki, which is free and you can change the settings so that only you have access to it. If you’re not using a wiki to organise your writing, then you should try it. I doubt you’ll be sorry.

Writing Goals for 2009

Everywhere I go I seem to be seeing the question, “What are your writing goals for 2009?” I feel stressed when I read the question, let alone try to answer it. But answer it I know I should do.

What are my writing goals for 2009?

First and foremost, I don’t want to put pressure on myself because that is a sure way of not writing a single word. However, I can’t leave it at that, so:

1. I would like to finish Mirror Image. “Finish” meaning a polished version ready for submission. I don’t know how many edits that will take.

2. I would like to fully plan book 3 in my children’s series. I know where it starts and ends, but there is no middle to the story – not one that I’m happy with, anyway.

3. I would also like to continue with the in depth planning of my adult trilogy. I envision the writing of this project maybe next year or the year after.

I’m not willing to say any more than that as I would like to surpass my goals rather than not reach them.

Putting the writing to one side, I am hoping that 2009 is a big year for me on a personal level. I’m hoping to secure a future for myself that will hopefully take underlying stress and worry away so that I’m free to enjoy life. This will lead to more productive writing, I’m sure.

Are you a writer? What are your 2009 writing goals?

My Writing Decision

After much thought I’ve made my decision as to which manuscript will get my attention first.

If you look at the list, you might think it would be fitting to finish the Cat’s Series as two books are already completed, leaving only the third book to be written. This would seem like the natural course to take, but I’ve decided against it as the second and third book cannot be published without the first book being successful (the first book is written as a stand alone, whereas the other two books are definite sequels and must be read in order). Due to this I feel it would be better time management to put my efforts into submitting Cat’s Eyes (book 1) to publishers instead, which is what I will do. I will keep you updated on my progress.

The Kingdom of Marlinor trilogy is a favourite of mine. In the past I’ve rushed the planning and have been sorry afterwards. This time, I intend to do it properly. All three books! Completely! As I mentioned in a previous post, I have already started researching important issues for the trilogy and this will continue until I am satisfied with the information I have. I will then use the Snowflake method to produce a proper plan.

Planning isn’t actually writing though and I feel I should be getting words on paper (or on the computer screen) while I feel in the mood because who knows when the mood will disappear?!? With this in mind, I’ve decided to plan one story and write another.

The manuscript that has been given the number one slot is Mirror Image. With only approximately 10,000 words to write, I feel this isn’t a huge hurdle to face at this early stage and, besides, I want to see the first draft finished, so this is the story I’ll revisit. Upon its completion, I will decide what to do next.

However, I’ve said only one manuscript is the “winner”, but in actual fact three manuscripts are winners. Cat’s Eyes will gain my serious attention for submitting. That has to be a good move. Kingdom of Marlinor will finally be planned the way it should have been years ago. That’s definitely a positive step. And the first draft of Mirror Image will finally be finished. It will feel great to cross it off my “unfinished projects” list.