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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

We had a long weekend in Canberra last weekend and I went to Conflux 15, a local SF convention. For the first time we had it in a library, Gungahlin Library to be precise. It was a nice space. There were logistical issues with the door when the library wasn’t open, but overall not too shabby.

It seemed to be a smaller convention than usual. It takes a few people to not turn up to make it seem that way. I heard that the committee had issues and that Karen Herkes was in hospital and that left just a small core of people to do all the things. They and the volunteers did a great job. The program was an awesome thing to behold. Well done, Alistair. I also hear that Karen is on the mend so that’s great news too.

Thoraiya Dyer was the guest of honour and her guest of honour speech was moving and funny. It was very well done. Les Petersen was the artist in residence and his talk about his puppets and animation was interesting. He talked about his career making book covers and how book covers should tell a story. Russell Kirkpatrick was the MC and he put on a schoolmaster role that had people laughing their heads off. Special bonus was a visit on the Sunday by John Scalzi, who did a walk around chat in the dealers area! A kaffeklatch and a question and answer session. It was so fab! John Scalzi was very generous with his time. His books are good too. I’m waiting on The Last Empero that he’s writing right now.

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Me with Thoraiya Dyer at the banquet

 

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Les Petersen during his talk

I have to admit to being the mastermind behind John’s thank you gift. I noticed when I met him in Perth at a Swancon a few years that he had a little sugar addiction going. He’d flown 40 hours to get to Canberra and would need a bit of sugar to get him home. We gave him a bag full of Australian sweets, with some vegemite flavoured peanuts thrown in. He has youtubed the tasting of said sweets. I laughed. Musk sticks scored the lowest and I love those lollies. I can’t keep a pack in my house because I’ll just keep eating them. The link to John’s youtube tasting is below.

A few days before, I was lucky enough to catch John Scalzi’s keynote at the Dept of Defence seminar on the future of war through the lens of SF. A great day full of great talks by the lights of Australian SF: Jack Dann, Janeen Webb, Russell Blackford, Cat Sparks, John Birmingham and other international speakers. I even got an idea for a novel out of that day from an unasked question.

The con kicked off at Siren’s on Friday night with a get together, with pizza and meat on skewers and it was low key but a nice way to warm up with everyone. Well everyone who came. It was free and put on for Conflux members. I’ve always been a fan of the warm up event.

I hung with Keri Arthur and Catherine Walker mostly at the get together and during the con. Keri is a real trooper and had come up for Conflux to catch up with mates. She didn’t even bring any books to sell. I also got to say hello to old friends and introduce myself to people I didn’t know.

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Catherine trying to get away from Keri and me.

 

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Catherine joining in because she couldn’t get away

I had a dealers table at Conflux so I spent a lot of time there. But first, you must hear about my book launch. Leife Shallcross launched Ruby Heart and Emerald Fire at 12.30 on Saturday. I made cupcakes. The best recipe ever that I got on Youtube. I will post the link below. I also made gluten free brownies and provided some rice crackers and humous.

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Launch food, photo by Cat Sparks

I think the launch went very well but I stuffed up my reading. This is because I was so busy! Can you believe that excuse? A serious lack of preparation. Cat Sparks took some shots from the launch. Thoraiya’s daughter had dressed in steampunk costume for the launch. I was dressed in 50s’ style as I have grown out of my steampunk garb! Thoraiya bought both books for her daughter, who is a very advanced 11 year old. To my surprise, the wonderful daughter finished both books by the banquet on Sunday night and pronounced them excellent! I have never been so gobsmacked and grateful for such excellent praise.

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Launch books

My partner usually helps me out with the table and launches but he had a commitment to our house cleaners. I was lucky enough to have my daughters and granddaughter come to help me. My second daughter revamped my table and the number one daughter did the till! They were rewarded with cupcakes.

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Me at the launch. Photo credit Cat Sparks

 

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Me explaining something about the books

People stopped by my dealer’s table so I did get some photos. These guys were instrumental in Matthew Farrer’s writing career. They used to manage a Gamesworkshop store back in the day. Matthew is my very understanding partner.

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Dr Tim Napper and Andrew Old

I was probably on the most panels I have ever been on during a convention. On Saturday I was on a panel about research and rabbit holes called the Exploration Beneath the Novel. It was a fun panel with Dion Perry, Dawn Meredith and Aiki Flinthart. We talked about types of research, like experiential–doing stuff so we can write about it more effectively. Aiki launched her Fight Like a Girl book at Conflux. I’ve almost finished reading my copy. It’s a book for writers about writing girl fights and it is interesting, well researched and very useful. I did her fight like a girl workshop last year.

I was scheduled to be at the Meet the Author station on the Sunday but after watching authors sit under this sign and no one coming to talk to them I didn’t do it. I likened it to the naughty chair so I stayed at my dealer table. Catherine M Walker had the table next to me and she was great keeping an eye on it while I was scampering about. Thank you Cath! And she was company when things were slow.

Monday I was on three panels.  The first one was SF romance, which was a very good panel with Freya Marske and Darian Smith, a new to me male romance writer. I will be interviewing him on the blog soon. Freya was the moderator and she did an excellent job.

Then in the afternoon I was on two in a row, Underground Movements and Secret Societies, followed by the Jane Austen panel. I didn’t have time between panels to change but I had decided to wear my latest Regency dress and my slapdash bonnet. Seeing that in the Regency period, and earlier, there were men’s clubs I thought I could get away with the dress and bonnet during that panel. We were lucky enough to have Keri Arthur join Dionne Lister, Dion Perry and me. It was a fun panel and interesting too about paranoia and conspiracy theories and why these nefarious societies work in fiction, particularly urban fantasy, paranormal fantasy and so on.

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Me on the underground societies’ panel, photo by Nicole Murphy

I chaired the Austen panel and participated a little bit. With panel members Leife Shallcross and Freya Marske, who could talk Austen underwater, this panel went off nicely. With some information gaps filled from the audience we were able to talk about Austen’s contribution to fiction and genre and recommend some Austen genre mashups. I had done a little research ahead of time through reading this book, What Matters in Jane Austen, by John Mullan. Thank you Nick for the gift.

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As I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time at my table, but the buzz from the congoers was good. A bit slow for us dealers, but that happens. I did manage the banquet which had good food although I think they ran short of roasted vegetables and put some chips in there, which is a bit sad really. The gluten free menu was a bit contracted and poor Keri got no entrees and had to have ice cream with caramel sauce because there were no gluten free dessert for her.I did hear a rumour that we might get historical banquet’s again curtesy of our resident historian, Gillian Polack.

It was sad to say goodbye to everyone at the end. Sad to pack up the table but Matthew was there to help me so all good. I had to take a walking stick with me because of the distances involved. I have a partial tear in my plantar plate and I’m trying to keep the weight off. I kept leaving the stick behind. But once I went a certain distance I’d need it. I wasn’t faking it guys. I hate the damn stick.

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A great photo of me in my bonnet taken by Cat Sparks

So ends another Conflux. Conflux 16 has been announced for next year. If you like meeting authors and hanging out with the genre tribe then make plans to go to an SF convention near you. If you have been to Conflux before and think you might go along one day maybe, remember that Conflux only exists because people come along so come along next year. Without support SF conventions can’t afford to run no matter how dedicated the committee and volunteers. Convention goers make the con. I hope to see you next year.

Here is John Scalzi eating Aussie Sweets and YouTube.

The cupcake recipe is from this lady but this clip is great.

Cat Sparks has a great selection of photos on her Flickr account.

The first photo in Cat’s photostream is Elizabeth who bought and read my books. She’s so cute in her steampunk outfit.

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I really should blog more. That way I don’t cram up important posts with all the things I’ve been up to.

I’m currently marking for Uni so that’s something I have to do. It’s going okay and I’ll finish in time. Yesterday was a fasting day so not a good time to be reading lots of stories that I have to grade without the aid of chocolate and chips. However, I have survived so far.

My partner and I just finished a film making workshop with Dan Sanguineti from Sanguineti Media. We had three nights 6-9pm, to plan a two to three minute movie, including brainstorming ideas, come up with a script, actors (Dan supplied those), storyboard and plan the shots and lighting and so on. Then we filmed the movie on Saturday night 6- to 11.30pm with cold temperatures etc. Then on Sunday, we edited the film and did the sound. High five to Shauna O’Meara and Craig Cooper and to Josh and Dan. Just under two minutes! The Key now exists. Later on in the year I’ll share it. Right now it will be doing festival rounds etc.

Doing the workshop was amazing. It is a really hard thing to come up with a story that has a beginning, middle and end in two and a half pages of script. Writing a script was on my bucket list– so tick. I want to thank my partner, Matthew, who basically found the workshop, paid the fees and encouraged others to come along. I did not think I’d have a short film to my credit until now. I didn’t have much idea of how the workshop would pan out but it was great. I learned so much. I have heaps more to learn obviously and more scripts to write.

That brings me to now. Last year I drafted a novella in the Silverlands Series while I was in Perth. Recently, I polished it up and had it proofread and found an amazing cover. Vorn and the First Comers is available now in most large eretailers and it’s free. Yes, that’s right…free!

The novella is a few things. It’s part of a larger collections of stories from Argenterra. One of the characters in Argenterra is Kushlan Silvertongue and he’s a storyteller. If you are familiar with Argenterra, the first book, you know that tales from the past are very important to the narrative and important to the people of Argenterra. I had the idea that Kushlan would be tasked with writing these down. Vorn and the First Comers is the first of these. There will be others…such as Goslien of the Valley, Faruni’s Triplets, Shabra’s Curse and so on.

I’ll be releasing each of these tales before combining them into a collection.

This then is part of a gift to my readers. You get Vorn and the First Comers for free.

The other function of the novella is for readers to get a taste of Argenterra and then get the rest of the series if it interests them.

Here is the Amazon link.

Here is the Apple Books link.

Here is the Kobo link

Here is the Barnes and Noble link

Here is the Googleplay link.

My next task is to get this novella in My Books section.

Blurb and cover (from Patty Jansen)

A choice between life or death…

Kushlan Silvertongue has been commissioned to write the Tales of the First Comers, Tales of Argenterra.

This novella is the story of Vorn and the First Comers and their journey from violence and death to the beautiful magical land of Argenterra, the Silverland.

Mighty warrior, Vorn, leads the survivors to a new land and sets in motion a civilisation that lasts for over one thousand years.

Discover the origins of the given magic and how the first comers made the oaths that secured that magic forever.

 

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I am happy to report that Ruby Heart is currently free on Amazon until February 4.

A book of manners, magic and mayhem.

I have also put Emerald Fire up for preorder, with a release date of 28 February. I am slightly behind schedule but it’s worth it.

I am helping my daughter with her new baby and have been distracted. So pop on over to Amazon and get your free copy.

Ruby Heart for free                                                                               Emerald Fire for preorder

 

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The final installment in the Dragon Wine series is fast approaching. Due date 31 August 2018.

The proof corrections have arrived and I’ve started on them.

Also, the  map, which I’m going to share here.

But first! I’d share the blurb but I may have to change it.

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Buy Links

amazon Google Kobo ibooksNook

Now for the map. I had drawn this out but in discussion with Dr Russell Kirkpatrick about the map, he came up with this very cool idea. He is a geographer as well as a writer, Legoman and golf/sport/music nerd. He had been looking at some historical maps of New Zealand from when not much had been explored. The map we looked at (and he did tell me who it was by) showed rumoured coastline and unknown coastlines (or not-just unknown blank space). Anyway, we thought this would work well for the map of Margra because it’s a post-apocalyptic world and the coastlines of the continents had changed, and civilisation had been devastated and once thriving cities ruined. So we came up with this, mostly Russell came up with this. I’d love to hear what you think.

This is meant to be the map that Nils puts together from his research in the Hiem archives and from hearing accounts from Danton and Brill. The map will appear in Moonfall, print and ebooks.

Margra World Map Moonfall 2

 

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I have put together a collection of short stories called, Through These Eyes. It is a collection of magic realism and fantasy stories that span my whole publishing career. From my very first story, ‘Absence of Mind’, published way back in 2001, I think, to two stories that are appearing first in the collection,  ‘Compost Juice’ and ‘In My Father’s Footsteps’.

It seems that I have a preference for magic realism, particularly in my earlier stories. Unlike, Beneath the Floating City, which was all SF, this collection is squarely in the realms of magic realism and fantasy. Some are creepy, but then again that depends on your point of view. One story, ‘Veg Out’ was written as horror, but a reader told me they thought it was funny so I guess it could be read as a comedy too.

Each story has a note about how I came up with the idea or ideas that formed the story.

The stunning cover is by Patty Jansen.

Have you ever wondered what is real?
Are everyday things just as they seem or is there a secret world just beyond our perception? One that bends and shifts as it hides from our sight?

Eleven tales of speculative fiction from Australian author, Donna Maree Hanson

I hope you enjoy!

Edit! I forgot to put in buy links.

Amazon

Kobo

Google

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Through These Eyes

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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

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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!

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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.

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This is not the Mama Mia… (dot, dot, dot) this is life getting in the way and fatigue. It’s bloody hot I tell you and that makes writing a chore.

I’m about to head out to a granddaughter’s 11th birthday party. I mean really 11. What the hell happened! She’s not meant to be so grown up. I’m not meant to be so old. Okay. I’m not old. Ageism is the mindkiller. I’m with Judy Dench on that. I wish my body would get on side. I have arthritis generally and for the last few weeks some weird as swelling, numbness, tingling in my hands and arms. I must admit it freaks me a bit. But I’m not blogging to be a downer.

I have family here at the moment. My son is visiting from Shanghai and it’s great to have him around. I mean I scored cookies!

I’ve been writing too and that has to be a good thing. After the 52,000 words I wrote in November as part of #NaNoWriMo I picked up the ball again and am currently at 73,000 words. I’m hoping to get more in this arvo and I’m hoping to finish the first rough draft of Skyfire by New Year’s Eve because….I’m going straight on to Moonfall in January, Part Six of the Dragon Wine series and the end of the current story arc. I say this because I have other ideas but they will have to wait until after the PHD studies.

In 2018 I really have to knuckle down and get the bugger done! However, I am taking some time in January to do a mini writer retreat and write Moonfall until I drop. Then it’s back to the Phd novel which is still sitting at a pitiful 30,000 words.

Even while I plan to have both books drafted by the end of January, I’m not sending Skyfire and Moonfall out to be published for a little while.

I have to revise them first. I tend to get the story arc done and then go back and work on scenes and add atmosphere. It also gives me time to add stuff in that I missed out and tweak stuff.

Then I will send it to beta readers and get feedback. Then I act on that feedback and revise again.

Then I send it to the editor if I think it’s ready. Then she flings it back to me, usually with some homework which can take anywhere from two weeks to a month to do and then it goes to the proofreader.

It’s a bit of a team effort getting a book ready.

Sometimes it takes a while to take up the proofreader changes but within a month of getting it back from the proofreader I usually publish it. The print version takes longer as it has to be formatted.

If I succeed in my plans with the draft and revision I’ll have a better idea of timetable. I think my Amazon pre order ban might be lifted by then. hahahaha!

So if I don’t come back with a year in review blog post or my plans for 2018 before New year. Happy New Year!

I

 

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I love the Christmas season….but!

I don’t like all the stress. So my Christmas fantasy is that there really is a Santa Claus and he/she/it buys all the presents and maybe cooks the dinner as well.

Photo by Fionna Sullivan

Talking about fantasies leads me to think about wishes…I wish that Christmas wasn’t so commercial and that we were less materialistic generally.

We live in a capitalist society where the dollar is the key. At times I think it’s a great machine that has run mad, eating up everything in search of profit, destroying the planet, churning through people and selling the idea that the dollar is what is important.

I’m part of this great capitalist machine and while I’m caught in this churn I can’t think of a way out. I feel deeply that there is no perfect system. There might be fairer systems. What worries me that such what is conceived of a perfect system is open for abuse, of power being concentrated in the few and then the system is no longer fair.

I also hate the idea of chaos and chaos is everywhere too, stirred up by the fight for resources and supremacy. It’s hard to shut it all out. I keep a fairly positive attitude but scrape the surface and it’s a bit morbid in there.

Mmmm I’m getting a bit dark here. Sorry! Some of my fiction, particularly, the Dragon Wine series is me processing stuff that happened in the world so yeah dark fantasy. Luckily, I also write lighter stuff so I do have an imagination after all. I think I write to escape. I used to escape into daydreams before I started to write. Now I don’t spend a lot of time daydreaming, I spend it writing. It’s a sanity valve.

I joined a book bundle called Into the Horizon with 22 other authors. It is coming out next year. That’s 22 novels in one bundle. It’s currently up for preorder.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

 

 

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