Watching the wheels …

Upgraded the memory in the computer – aka the SNC, (Yay, I can work on two documents at once without causing the SNC to have a hissy fit!) Then I upgraded to a new operating system (meh – but necessary) Then I went to reinstall my copy of Word, and it wouldn’t install. Apparently between all the switching between the in-it’s-death-throes computer to the SNC, and then the upgrades necessary for the SNC, my old copy of Word is out of use. *sighs* Didn’t feel like going for the 100+ km round trip to go get another copy of Word, so I installed Open Office.

Open Office is a bit of a trip down memory lane, but I’m enjoying it. In the process of all these upgrades, I completely cleaned off my desk, and polished it. The very first visitor walked in, told me it looked weird, and I need to put all the clutter back! 🙂 In between all this, I’ve gotten beta reader feedback on the first section of Abandoned Sentinels, seen the concept cover art for Seldi of Legend, and am almost down to 300 unread emails … just sitting back here with a cup of coffee, watching the wheels go round.

Happy World Dragon Day

It seems entirely appropriate to share some of my favourite dragon stories today – some are all about the dragons, but all would be the poorer without their dragons:

My all-time favourite dragon story is by the late, great Angus Wells, his stand alone fantasy – Lords of the Sky. I can’t remember how many times I’ve read, and re-read this, but I do know I’ve gone through a couple of copies of the book. It’s a first person narrative, entirely appropriate for the point of view character, who is a travelling storyman.

Blue Moon Rising, by Simon R Green not only has one of the best dragons, but also my favourite unicorn. It also introduces the reader to Rupert and Julia for the first time, and again, it’s been re-read (along with the Hawk and Fisher series, and Beyond Blue Moon) many, many times.

Pyramid Scheme and Pyramid Powerby Dave Freer and Eric Flint. These two dragons make me laugh. Out loud. Every. Single. Time. I’d almost be tempted to enter the Pyramid universe if I was guaranteed to meet these guys 🙂

The Demon Child trilogy, by Jennifer Fallon, has my favourite dragon that isn’t actually a dragon. The trilogy also has a very satisfying ending. Ok, if you are looking for a happy ever after ending, maybe it’s not the one for you. But for me, the ending to this was absolute perfection.

Dave Freer gets another nod with his Dragon’s Ringand Dog & Dragon, novels. All the novels of Dave Freer, and Jennifer Fallon, that I own (which is most of them, but I need to replace a couple) live on my re-read shelves. I like work that has a strong thread of humour, especially wry or dark humour, running through it. These are two authors I will buy a new novel from, sight unseen – they have never, ever disappointed me.

So there you have it, a short list of some of the dragons who have made my life better for their existence. There are so many others I also love, the dragons of Pern for instance, but these ones are the ones I return to again, and again.

Ohhh – shiny!

Growing up on a farm I learnt how to weld (not well enough to get a welding job, but well enough that anything I welded together stayed that way even if the weld didn’t look pretty) I’m better at soldering, though. But proper welding, and smithing of all sorts has always captured my attention. Swords have also been one of the things I really appreciate. I have a healthy respect for the sheer workmanship that craft such gorgeous tools, but I never forget how deadly they can be. Accordingly I wince when I hear the metallic sound of a sword being drawn in a movie (that’s going to damage the blade you idiots!) and I may have been known to lecture my television screen when a character grabs a sword around the naked blade, (what, you woke up today and decided, hey – I don’t really need all these fingers…)

One of the few youtube channels I watch is the Man At Arms Reforged one, where they recreate famous historical, as well as fantasy and sci fi swords. So this episode, where they recreated Narsil, from Lord of the Rings, using only 19th C techniques and equipment, I’ve watched a couple of times … for, research. Yeah, research. And not at all because they look like they are having so much fun hunting gel orcs with a pretty shiny blade. Research … honest. 🙂

No, I’m not entirely sure where I will use this research, but I’m sure I will use it -somewhere.

language and music

Today’s writing music had me drifting through old rock songs from my childhood on youtube. I came across the Ted Mulry Gang version of Darktown Strutters Ball, and while I listened, looked at the comments. One person commented about the distasteful song. I was puzzled by that, so clicked on the thread to read the responses, and she clarified by saying if people read the lyrics, they would find they were actually quite racist.

It’s a known fact that a lot of tunes from that era were indeed quite racist. However the history of this particular song – isn’t. The Darktown was an area in Chicago where mostly black people lived, and the Darktown Ball began by the ladies of the night from Darktown deciding enough was enough, they’d have a grand Ball, and dress up and show the world they were as good as anyone. It became a huge invitation only event, even the Mayor of Chicago couldn’t get in without an invite! The original songwriter, Shelton Brooks, captured how getting an invite to this grand Ball, was a social honour. Good music can do that, it can capture, in just a few words, the essence of an event, and immortalize it. Good lyrics are like telling a short story.

The song was a celebration of people at the bottom end of the social ladder, and what they achieved. It was written with respect and understanding. Modern sensibilities do, as they should, jerk away from calling a place Darktown these days, and they can find it distasteful that people did in the past. But a song like this should serve to remind people to never underestimate anyone.

And when I hear it, I’m back on the farm where I grew up, when all that mattered to me was that I like the rocked up version 🙂

World Dragon Day …

Dragons, as anyone who has been to my facebook page knows, are quite important to me. I have dragons residing on the mantelpiece watching over me as I write. (please note, and admire, the pretense that I only have dragons on one mantelpiece …) So finding out there there is a World Dragon Day – yeah, I clicked on the link, there was never any doubt I’d want to know more.

To be fair, I’m unlikely to seek out any gatherings on World Dragon Day, I just like knowing that it’s a thing! Although I do wonder how my neighbours would feel if I made a dragon to sit in the tree between our yards a bit like this one

Fact or Fiction?

A friend linked to a blog post titled Did It Really Happen – Fact, Fiction, Fate.   One of my horror short stories has received the most “Did that really happen?” type of questions thus far. In the story I wrote about a toddler who had her eyes plucked out by a crow, the story told of her life in fractured scenes up til she was about six years old. Did it really happen? Well, I’ve never seen a baby left alone long enough where a crow could get a chance to do such damage. Could it happen? Potentially, yes. I have seen the after effects when crows peck the eyes out of lambs. It leaves the lamb unable to find food and, unless rescued and hand reared, they die of starvation, then the crows get fed. It’s a slow and rather gruesome way to die, but crows are carrion feeders – if there is no food for them, they will create it.

How much truth is in the Underground books? I’m currently working on a scene that, when I first wrote it, wasn’t something I’d seen or experienced. In between the first writing, and the re-writing, however, I have experienced loss because of it, and that extra knowledge has informed the re-write. It is also making it quite hard to write.

I’ll leave you with this song, Fly Low, Carrion Crow by the Two Gallants. It just seems appropriate.

MIA

I haven’t been blogging recently, mostly because I’ve been dealing with some minor medical issues, one of which involved a trip to the day surgery. Trips to day surgery as an author are great for gathering information. If you ask politely, they’ll quite happily explain what all the equipment in the room is. A trip to the ophthalmologist’s last year gave me the chance to inspect (though definitely not touch) a laser welder for the most delicate eye surgery. The world is an amazing place!

However, I’m back on deck, and writing again now. My publisher and I have been discussing potential cover art, hopefully more news on that in the next couple of weeks.

Almost out of Flu City …

Flu City, with it’s towering office blocks of fevers, and maze-like road system of aches and pains is a pretty lousy place to visit, I seriously don’t recommend the experience. But I’m just cruising through the city limits now, dreary suburbs of lingering coughing fits and headaches. Ahead I can see the open road, so I’ve got the manuscript open, coffee to hand, and music … hmmm, Ah yes, some Ramones, I think. First decent writing day, here I come 🙂

of soap root, mould and waffle irons …

This is a post about cleaning, therefore I am listening to Robert Palmer’s Housework in honour of the post. So much has happened to my hero in a fairly short space of time, so much of the minutiae of life in the underground cities has had to be glossed over. Things like soap. We know they have showers, and wash dishes, but how do they make soap? Ok, so maybe only I notice that my characters haven’t checked out how soap is made on this alien planet – but I have just written a scene where Daniel helps to harvest soaproot, so I thought I’d write today’s post about the art of being clean when living in an alien underground city.

Given the last few hours spent on cleaning products, it amused me no end to sign in, and discover a heap of spam comments about how to get rid of mould from clothing, and how to find a vast range of waffle irons … and the best way to clean them. And in the background Mr Palmer sang:

“Time for just one more cup of coffee
You know the housework won’t wait.”

archaeology

I love reading the finds of experimental archaeologists, trying to cook, craft and create in the ways people did in pre-history brings them more into our picture of things. So I especially loved this report about recreating what was thought to be part of a Bronze Age spear piece, and discovering it’s actually the mouthpiece to an ancient musical instrument