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Yesterday, I sent the manuscript of Moonfall to the editor. That is the last installment in the Dragon Wine series. It’s been a huge undertaking to get it ready, considering I only drafted it in January.

In finishing a series, I have looked back over the time I’d been writing the series and it has been 15 years. I haven’t been writing only Dragon Wine in all that time, but that’s when it started.

In 2003, I was living on a small vineyard, growing grapes. It was there the ideas flowed while I pruned the grapes, sprayed them and mowed the rows between them. You can see where my ideas came from, right?

I’m excited that the series is finished. I am also sad, too. I won’t be writing Salinda anymore or Garan or Danton. I know there are more stories in the setting and maybe when the time is right I will write them.

I met with Russell Kirkpatrick today to discuss the map for Moonfall. He had some very cool ideas and I’m so excited. I’ve drawn a map but he’s going to transform it into an artifact.

Many people have supported me during the last 15 years. This support ranged from a general pat on the back and encouragement to keep working to feedback on early drafts and the later ones. I spent a good deal of Sunday writing thank you to all those people.

Writing is a solitary business. You have to write the book. But having friends and being surrounded by people who get what you are doing are like fertilizer. They help you grow, support you when you’re sad and celebrate your victories. I have so many people to thank.

What am I going to do now? Let me see. There’s this PhD thing I’m supposed to be doing. In the next six months, I have to rewrite and then rewrite my PhD novel. I also have to draft my exegesis and then rewrite that a number of times. I am hoping to have something submit worthy for next year. I imagine I’ll be doing more revising and stuff next year, too. I will be tutoring some of second semester too. Maybe I’ll earn enough to pay back all the money I spent last semester. Hahaha!

Today, I did something a bit strange. I had this moment where I just hated my hair. I was going to get it chopped off- you know crew cut style. I chickened out and veered away from the hairdressers. Then I got the idea that I could revert to my old hair, which was a bob. I did that, then I went to get some coloured rinse. It will wash out. But see below. Pink hair. See you next time. I may be blue or purple or red then.

Pink hair donna

Well you can tell that I’m not busy and stressed as I was as here is my next post, really soon after the last one.

Today, I started the polish of Moonfall. Normally, I’d wait a few weeks between the tidy up and a polish to get beta reader feedback. However, as the MS is booked in with the editor I can’t really wait.

Because I have RSI and arthritis and so on, I have to be careful how long I spend on the computer. The longer I spend on the computer the more attention I have to pay to ergonomics. One of the ways I tackle this is that I print out the MS in bits, read them, edit them and then key in changes later. On the weekend, this was proving a bit difficult so I went to Office Works and bought a copy stand. This allows me to have the MS held up at screen height, next to the screen and made the transcribing of the corrections so much more quicker, but also less demanding on my neck. I have a small space to work in and that meant holding the print out and trying to type stuff in. With the copy stand I have both hands free.

Here is a picture of it here. I was quite lucky because it was only around $50. I was expecting it to be more.

Today I started on the polish, now that I have sent Moonfall to beta readers. I’ve been having problems with the beginning of the book from the start. Not only because a mad woman wrote it. I fixed up the continuity stuff but then found I went on a bit. I was downstairs washing dishes and thinking about the problem when a solution came to me. I was so pleased. I managed to cut about 2000 words out of the first couple of chapters and reorganise it a bit better. I am pleased with the day’s work. I think the rest of the story is going along nicely so we will see how it goes tomorrow.

Writing books can be hard work. I think I drove myself to the very edge on the weekend. I’m surprised my brain is even working at the moment.

I believe going to see the new Solo moving probably helped me wind down. I loved it. Then again I loved the old Solo tie in novels, Han Solo at Stars End and so on. Matthew and I are both geeks and love Solo so we enjoyed the film. We saw Deadpool 2 last week. What a ripper! So funny and in your face. I like how it is so meta…aware of itself, Deadpool speaking to the audience as well as the other characters. Next one we are looking forward to is Ant Man and The Wasp.

Meanwhile…back at the book farm…I have uploaded Dragon Wine Volume Two. This is the third and fourth book in one volume and at a price that is cheaper than buying them separately. I intend to do a box set of the final two books too, maybe early next year and then the complete box set. Right now Dragon Wine Volume Two is only up on Amazon, but it will go up at other retailers soon. I just have to update Calibre before I can convert the file.

And once I have had a peek at the edit of Skyfire (due today) and work out how much work I have to do, I will put Skyfire up for pre-order. That’s my big news. I’ll come back here and let you know when it’s up.

So as a tease, here is the cover of Skyfire, coming soon to preorder status. The cover is from Frauke at http://www.crocodesigns.com

 

It is interesting that sometimes you can’t tell that you are suffering from stress, or if you do how much it affects you, until the stress is gone. I feel so much better today.

The tutoring is over until semester two and the marking. That’s one big thing.

I had a paper to write for a presentation. I was stressed about that. I’ve drafted something. It’s pretty crap but at least it’s on paper and can be edited into sense.

The tidy up of Moonfall is done and it’s gone to beta readers. Phew! That was way behind schedule. The delay is related to the teaching and marking mentioned above and that some crazy woman wrote it and tidying it up was a huge think drain. Luckily, once I got past the beginning of the novel, it got easier. However, I’m still behind and will have to start polishing it now, rather than waiting for beta reader comments. Moonfall is booked in with the editor and I hate to not meet that deadline.

This morning I realised that I don’t have to be stressed about that. I should just take the time I need as I’m not tutoring and I can play around with my own timetable with the PhD. Once I have Moonfall out, all I have to do is focus on revising my novel and my exegesis (which I have not finished yet!!!).

All in all, I’m travelling okay!

Here is a peak at the cover for Moonfall. It is coming soon!

Moonfall-highres(1)

This blog post is brought to you by systems failure. I have marking to do but the Uni’s website is down and all marking is in the computer system so damn…I also have face to face marking from 12 but that has a work around. I can’t even access my schedule. So either I’m going to sit there or the system is coming back on line and I’ll know when it is over.

This blog post is brought to you by a glitch…I think that would make an excellent short story title for the domino effect of a glitch and the end of the world. I’m sure someone has already written that. But there would be on evil overlord because the necessary spreadsheets for world domination would be inaccessible.

This post is going to be about writing. If that bores you look away now.

I’m currently revising or tidying up the first draft of Moonfall, which is the last part of the Dragon Wine series. This is a daunting task. You see the draft was written by a mad woman who obviously had no idea of continuity. I was suffering from RSI and some sort of brain fugue at the time of drafting and I wrote it in half hour sessions…and it shows.

I am up to chapter four. Oh man I want to kill this MS. I want to stab it in the heart. I want to pull my hair out. I wail into the darkness – why am I doing this?!

It’s painful. I can’t tell you why apart from the above. I have to think to fix the ms just to get it to beta readers. Then when they tell me what’s shit about the draft I have to think again and fix it. Then I send it to the editor who will no doubt tell me how completely shit it is again and I’ll have to take vitamin pills and think up some more stuff.

Why? Why am I doing this? Writing fiction? Writing any goddamn thing? I must be completely mad. I could be sewing or vegging in front of the tele or reading a book or drinking tea with friends.

If this sounds familiar to you then I am not alone. If you haven’t been through this then maybe you’ll recognise the signs at some stage. If you write perfect drafts without pain and are marvellous and gorgeous I could hate you.

I have to face the music. I was happy with the draft when I drafted it. It was the final instalment and I thought it kicked ass (arse!) but in the cold light of revising I can see so much wrong with it I want to cry. I don’t cry though, I get ranty.

Here I am ranting!

This problem has been on my mind. Some of my books are in Australian/British English and some, like the Dragon Wine series, are in USA English. This means choosing between ‘arse’ and ‘ass’.

For Dragon Wine I have changed ‘Dragon’s Holy Arse’ to ‘Dragon’s Holy Ass’ but it jars to my ear.

That got me thinking about the music of the two words. Arse has a long drawn out ar sound where ass is shorter and harder.

Stupid arse or stupid ass? Stupid arse sounds posh to me, where as stupid ass just sounds insulting.

This brings to mind people who are not native English speakers swearing. It sounds weird. It would take a lot of practice to get it right. I’ve dated a lot of foreigners and they couldn’t swear (or cuss) to save their lives…in English, that is. It would just make me laugh. But in their native tongue though they could swear but it wouldn’t really register to me. I could acknowledge that they swore but not feel the impact of it.

I recall talking about this while trying to swear in Italian. And it was brought home to me just how insulting an Italian would feel on hearing that particular word. I guess being sworn at in your own language is more impactful.

Anyway that does not entirely solve the argument between ‘arse’ and ‘ass’. Arse is my native swear word but because USA English is very much part of our own popular culture we know and respect ‘ass’. Lol. Hey I respect your ass!

But for me it’s the music of arse that really works for me. ‘Nice arse’ sounds nicer to my ear than ‘nice ass’.

This bit of frivolity was brought to you by burn out. I have not posted in a while as I’ve been teaching. I’ve had a few topics on my mind but this one won the day.

 

Hi all

This might be of interest to some of you. This is a preview of the first chapter of Part Five of the Dragon Wine series, called Skyfire. I thought to post it here as a teaser and to guilt myself into finishing the polishing required so that I can send it to the editor in early May. I think I have two weeks. I don’t know where the time has gone. I’ve been busy and tired and my plans have faltered. Any encouragement welcome.Skyfire-highres

Anyway, there should be little to no spoilers as this chapter introduces a new character.

 

Chapter One

More than a Trace

Karol hated the compound where his kind was imprisoned. This morning, his mother said that Tarkel, his father, was never coming back and then she cried. Ilania was so sad and Karol hated that she was like that, without hope. She spoke with so much conviction that he had to believe, and grieve. He remembered before, before they’d been brought to this compound, where their poor circle of tents barely kept out the wind and the dust. Surrounded by rock on three sides there wasn’t any place to go in this prison. Not that the guards knew about at least. Their village had been neat and tidy and happy and hidden from the outer world. Now, Karol understood why they hid away from the awful humans, who knew nothing grand, who had no culture and were just miserable, evil creatures, preying on everyone.

Karol was small for his age. But he didn’t mind that so much for it meant he could explore where the adults could not and even better he could go where the guards could not. His favorite place was a fissure in the cliff face behind his family’s tent. There he had found water. It gurgled pure and clear as it slipped over a small rock to disappear into the nooks and crannies of the cliff, never to appear again. He dipped his hand in the sweet smelling water and sipped his fill.

His loin cloth had seen better days. His mother wanted him to wear his tunic but it lay abandoned with his things in their tent. He didn’t mind that his ribs stuck out or that his knees were bony knobs on thin legs. He would grow big and tall like his father one day.

And one day there would be enough food. Food for them all. And he’d lie around with his belly protruding and sleep for an age without being prodded awake by hunger pains.

His long hair was tied back, which made climbing and drinking from the spring easier. Like his mother, his hair was white. He didn’t mind that it wasn’t like Tarkel’s, for his father praised him for his looks. Praised him for being true kin.

The water helped ease his hunger. There was never enough to eat. Dried bread and a few beans was all they had eaten in the last year. His mother said his growth was stunted forever now because of the poor diet. Thinking of his mother, he watched the water trickle. He had forgotten to bring a cup to take some back to her.

The sun moved while he sat there staring at the interior of the fissure.  What he thought was a shadow disguising nothing suddenly seemed more. With thin arms and legs, Karol slid into the dark cleft. The slit in the stone was long and gloomy and as he peered in he saw that there was an opening. Not a big space, but if he could squeeze through it might make a good hiding place.

“Karol? Karol!” his mother’s words reached him, echoing around the rocks as if her voice came from everywhere. No time now to explore. His mother needed him.

Now back in their tent, he saw nothing had changed. His mother was still stooped with grief.

“I’m glad you’re back,” she said in a low voice and hugged him to her.

Yelling in the compound jerked them apart. They shared a terrified look and then let their breaths roll out of them. “Roll call?” his mother ventured.

“Early food delivery?” Karol returned.

His mother bit her lip. “You wait here and let me see.”

Then she slipped out of the tent with its ragged flap that kept nothing out. Karol went to his sleeping space. Rolled up and placed at the rear of the tent was his sleeping blanket. It was where he could be the most unobtrusive. Where he could be unnoticed. He saw a lot. None of it good. He folded himself amongst the bedding, hidden.

It was so quiet and the sound of his breathing annoyed him. His mother hadn’t returned so Karol crept to the tent flap and peered through the strips of torn fabric out into the compound. Bent old men, ragged women and a bunch of thin, white-haired children stood in a group, surrounded by guards. There were not many of them left. Some had died of disease and hunger. Karol’s stomach clenched painfully. He could see no signs of food.

A scream rang out. Karol started. His heart raced as he squinted against the setting sun. A child ran across the clear area and then fell down. Karol stared. A spear stuck out of the child’s back. Karol gaped, not quite believing. With sweaty hands, he moved strips of fabric out of the way to run forward.

More screams. Splashes of red. Then is mother’s voice. “Run, Karol. Hide!”

Karol bolted from the cover of the tent. Feet pounded the hardened ground behind him but he didn’t look back. He closed his eyes and thought of his mother. Was that her scream?

Their captors were killing them all. Karol ran harder, so hard he thought his heart would fly out of his chest. He was ten years old. He could do this. He was the man of the family now.

With a quick leap, he landed on a protruding rock and then scrambled up. A spear hit the boulder near him and it clanged and then clinked when it dropped. A deep voice yelled. “Stop where you are!”

Karol didn’t look and scrambled faster, higher and sideways.

“Follow him.” An order was given.

“Hey kid, is this your mother?”

A whimper echoed around Karol’s ears.

“Call him.”

“Hide!” His mother screamed.

Karol didn’t look, couldn’t look. If he did he’d go back to her, he would die with her. He knew they were baiting him.

“I’ll kill her,” the deep angry voice raged.

Karol scrambled up the rockface. He was heading for his little stream. There he could survive for a little while without food. Karol’s legs shook, his muscles were starting to feel the exertion, the lack of food, the fear.

“I kill her. Stop!”

But Karol knew his mother was already dead. She didn’t want him to come back. She didn’t want him to die too.

An odd sound reached him, amplified by the rocks. It was a sickening sound followed by a dull thump. He had to look, had to see. The man had cut his mother’s throat.

There she was blood in a pool around her head, legs twitching. Standing over her was a man, a brutal looking man, thick muscled, bearded, a beast.

Something snagged his foot. He’d stood still too long. A hand pulled at his foot. Karol kicked, kicked like one crazed but still he was dragged down. He was caught. Panic like a demon possessed him. He screamed and clawed and choked off when he thought he was done for. He was caught!

The man held him around the hips and then changed his grip. Karol took his chance. He kicked out hard, blindly and connected with something soft, something that left a wet smear on his foot. A crunch, a pain-filled whoof and a hail of curses. Karol dropped. He flung out a hand and a foot to stop his plummet to the compound below. He slid and then caught on a nub of rock. He clawed for a hold. Dirt and stones hissed as they moved beneath him but Karol was away, carried by fear to climb like a spider up and away from pursuit.

I am a leaf, I am a feather, I am light and I can scuttle like beetle so fast no one can catch me. Soon he was out of sight of the compound. The tell-tale trickle of his little stream beckoned.

Panting, he slid down at last to his tiny cobbled bank, a space large enough to crouch in, no more. He drank and he wept but only for a minute. They were coming. More of the men were climbing to where he was.

He stared into the fissure where the water emerged. He was small. He could fit. He had to try. Climbing up and over the canyon wall was beyond him. He’d tried and there was no easy way out. Not without ropes and supplies.

He could hide. He had to hide. He had to hide or die.

As Karol inserted himself into the fissure, the cold water ran over him, startling his sun-warmed skin. The rock surrounded him and beyond where the light did not reach loomed dark. The sounds of pursuit were wiped out by the crash of the water, his own frightened breathes and beating heart. The fissure grew very tight and small just after a few side-ways steps. Karol flattened himself and squeezed further in. If he was far enough in they wouldn’t see him—they wouldn’t know he was there.

Karol squeezed himself further, first a leg, an arm and then wiggled his pelvis and chest into the narrow gap between the rocks. He ought to have been scared, but Karol wasn’t. The rock was safe, welcoming. While had not been underground before, he knew that his forefathers had lived in the ground. Tarkel had told him. Told him of the great cities. Regaled him with tales of their people.

As the darkness embraced him, Karol didn’t fear anymore. The water blocked the entrance and he was now hidden in darkness.

A large face pushed through the water. Karol drew back, jammed in between the rock of the fissure, water pushed around him as he blocked the way. He had to keep pushing through or they would know, they would notice the current wasn’t a strong that the flow was less.

With all his might Karol pushed himself, squeezed himself, using the palms of his hands pressed against the rock face, the soles of his feet, keeping the pressure up so that he could get through. Water fell on his face, into his mouth. Karol held his breath and then let it out slowly and pushed.

His lungs were desperate for air. Water smothered his face, ran into his nostrils, his mouth, his ears. There was no sound except for water in his ears. Karol knew he was going to die. Here. He was going to drown here. He should have died with is mother. He shouldn’t have let her die alone.

Then, just as his strength was fading, something shifted. His body passed through and he landed in a heap on the other side of the fissure. Choking and crying, he looked around him. It was a cave. Here the water was but a rivulet and passed through a channel in the floor. He saw where it fell from above to the right of him. He’d lost his loin cloth and his pale skin had dark smears where he’d torn the flesh from his torso.

Shaking his head, he sucked in breaths and checked his body for further injury. Scrape marks ranged over his chest, hips and knees. He rubbed at his chin and blood was on his hand. He cried more, releasing his pent up fear and grief. His mother was dead. His people were dead and he was all alone.

He calmed down, telling himself that his mother wouldn’t have wanted him to cry or be sad. She wanted him to live and live free. His father would have wanted him to be true to his people. Tarkel had said there was a place for him in the world. He only had to look.

After wiping his eyes and clearing his nose, he looked about him, serenaded by the little cataract as the water hit the floor. It was surprisingly light inside, with the sun filtering through from outside and reflecting off the water. The floor was tiled. He ran his fingertips through the space between the mosaics. This was no natural cave. He quickly scanned his surroundings and in the dim recesses he saw something strange. He crawled forward, rubbing tears from his cheeks. In front of him was an archway, embellished with strange writing. He staggered to his feet and went up to it. It was a door.

#

Karol slept, turning fitfully due to his various aches. It was a sound that woke him. There were men outside the fissure. He crept forward to hear what they were doing. His heart hammering so loud he missed a few of the words.

“…the debris will cover the dead…”

“…explosives…here…”

Karol blinked trying to understand. They couldn’t come and get him, but they could kill him by blowing up the cliff he was hiding in. He backed up and detected the waft of smoke. He didn’t have any time left. He turned and faced the door.

He knew what it was. He knew what lay beyond. It was a secret that his father had died for, that his mother had died for. It was what was going to save him.

He knew the chant off by heart. It had been a lullaby when he was young, something that made little sense to others.

High for the sun, down for the ground, once for the right and twice for the left. There you can enter into the way of your forefathers…

The door slid open. The smell of smoke was strong. The rumble under his feet making him sway. He dashed inside the darkened Way and groped around in the dark when the door shut. As he moved away, praying that the waygate would hold, Karol tapped his feet in front of him and put his hand out to the wall. A faint glow grew outwards from where his hand touched. The longer he was inside, the more his saw. Soon he saw the stairs and the directions they went. He had no idea which way to go. He had no food or water. He wasn’t going to go far or last very long, but at least he was free.

The ground lurched suddenly throwing him off his feet. He fell into the wall, which glowed light gray and the substance of it smothered him. Karol fought and fought and then calmed. He was either going to die or be all right. He moved his leg as if walking and the substance of the walls let him move. Not back out into the way but within the substance of way.

I have started drafting a post from Indianapolis and Chicago but it seemed a bit boring. I’ll get back to that once my tech decides to behave itself. There are lots of photos.

I’ve seen a few movies of late.

At the Indiana State Museum, I went to the IMax theatre and watched Pacific Rim-the new one! Well there were lot of big machines fighting other big machines and some crazy big monsters. I mean that’s why you go watch Pacific Rim. It had John Boyega, playing Idris Elba’s son. And a young girl, who was remarkably talented with machines and was a scavenger. Sound like anyone you might have seen elsewhere? I enjoyed this in 3D and the Imax, but I was left thinking that they must have had a hard time coming up with that plot.

On the plane home I watched Geostorm starring Gerard Butler. Nice city destruction scenes and glossy space machinery but the plot was holier than swiss cheese. It did have Gerard Butler. Did I mention Gerard Butler was in it? Well Gerard Butler was in it. His abs weren’t unfortunately.

Also on the way home I caught Kingsmen: Golden Circle. This was a bit fun, like the first movie was fun. The baddy was campy bad and bits of it were grotesque but that’s part of the play with this. I liked it. I had fun and Colin Firth…well that just doesn’t get old.

Yesterday, I caught up with Warcraft the movie. Now I don’t play this game but I know that it is similar to Warhammer and has those high fantasy elements. You know this movie wasn’t bad. It was pretty good actually. It had a reasonable cast, good effects and some nice emotional touches. It was directed by Duncan Jones and that made me think I should check out more of his films. I think it was set up for a sequel but Game of Thrones it wasn’t. I’m still trying to work out how there was a half Orc woman with pretty little tusks and the ability to speak the human tongue. But who is quibbling?

The Titan (on Netflix)

This is not the worst film I’ve seen Sam Worthington in. Clash of the Titans might have been worse. It’s not Sam’s fault. He does a really good job. It’s the swiss cheese, bad thinking through of the story that’s the problem. The gist of it is that humans can’t live on earth for much longer so a group of folks are being changed into humans that can live on Titan. You know swim in methane seas and fly and yadda yadda. Apparently they are going to be changed, evolved and spend two years on Titan. The changing gets to be dodgy and the wife of Sam’s character is a pediatrician and she’s suspicious. You are changing him! she cries.  I’m like what? I thought that was the idea right? Perhaps they were all only half listening when they signed up for stuff but it seemed to me that you evolve someone you can’t unevolve them easily. We have the crazy mad scientist and the weird shoot ’em up military and the strange, violent reactions of those lesser humans who can’t quite cut the Titan scene. It wasn’t quite a waste of time but it was annoying. There were opportunities  to make this a passing good story but they weren’t taken. I might be jetlagged cranky but really…shakes head.

EDIT!

I left out a movie. I also finally got to catch up with Blade Runner 2049. I thought it was a poignant film with some really good performances. It is very difficult to compare it to the original though. I love the original Blade Runner. It deals, I think, with what makes us human and the blurred or insignificant lines between the real humans and the replicants. I’m not sure it achieved a consistent message there. It was great to see Harrison Ford, and I would have liked to have known more about what happened with him and Rachel in those days when they ran away together. Ryan Gosling was super brilliant and I loved seeing Robin Wright and Dave Bautista along with a cameo by Edward James Olmos.

End of edit!

So now today I accidentally-on-purpose bought the Blu ray of The Last Jedi. I’ve seen it but you can never see too much Star Wars, unless it is a prequel!

All just my opinion.