Well, it has been one extremely stressful month. I spent the last week at Heart House in Victoria B.C. while a family member underwent open-heart surgery. Not a restful time. No matter how you look at it, heart surgeries are just plain scary even if you're not the patient, just family. The staff at Heart House were very friendly, helpful and supportive but it couldn't alleviate the worry about possible complications. Fortunately, it was an excellent surgeon in charge and the rest of the Medical Staff at Royal Jubilee Hospital were extremely good and efficient at their professions. I must say it is good to be home, and I know the patient feels exactly the same. More to the point, the patient is happiest with "real food" instead of institutional hospital meals. A pity I don't know Victoria, as my meals were generally provided by Heart house, which is a B &B so they only make breakfast, what supplies I brought with me, and the Subway attached to the hospital itself. If I never see a sub sandwich again in my life it will be too soon. Due to the COVID 19 situation and the communal nature of B & B's I spent most of my time in my room.
One benefit of the situation is the completion of chapters 3 and 4 of the second book in Surraell's series and the start of chapter 5. When I wasn't writing I was generally reading Agatha Christie and Andre Norton books I'd brought with me or visiting the patient. Fortunately it was just a Valve Replacement, as the family member in question has a very healthy lifestyle, but it is still a long recovery ( 3 months minimum) and I am the primary care-giver in the family for the person in question. It may take a while for anything new I write to make the transition from pen and ink scribbles in a paper notebook onto a computer for proper editing. It may also impede my ability to keep my electronic media sites updated, such as my Facebook page, as I am mostly concentrating my limited computer time on keeping various members of my family informed of the patient's progress.
I know I'm not saying who the family member happens to be, but that is because I intend to honour the person's views concerning privacy. This is not a person who uses social media, or even believes in it. You can see from where I inherited my reclusive tendencies. That said, I will maintain the privacy of the hermit I'm related to. Aside from that, nothing new has occurred in October on the publishing front and due to my current family medical situation it is unlikely to for the foreseeable future.
A Month of Stress
Yes, I know that is usually December, however the end of September and all of October are a massive area of stress for me, at least this year. Not many people know that I am my mother's general care-giver, helping her manage her diabetes. This year I have the added disadvantage of dealing with her upcoming heart surgery fears and after-care. Come to think of it, I've always been stressed out at around this time of year since 1986, when I turned eleven and became the school pariah. Being small in stature and hormonally dead was the kiss of death with my peers back then. Come to think of it, I'm still both. It took several years to realize that I actually have the unique gift of being the only person in the middle of a room and still remain unseen by anyone who looks in. I discovered that I am also a monumental bore when I discovered I have the talent to put my own parents to sleep by uttering a single syllable. As you can guess none of this is very good for a person's self-esteem, which is probably why I became a writer. The creation of imaginary worlds and people erased most of the pain I felt from the abrupt ending of former friendships in '86 and the decision to use my strange gift of being unseen even if someone is looking straight at me helps with my resolve to live a reclusive life. I know, this sounds like a mass of depression, maybe it is, but reality can be depressing hence my continual journeys to fantasy. Speaking of which I am still writing two books as we speak, but the current health problems in my family circle have slowed things down a mite. I am still working on them.
For those who may want to know how I deal with stress, that is simple. I have a love of music from Beethoven and Bach to the Beatles, from Strauss to Queen, Mozart to the Monkees, James Galway and Celtic Thunder to Elton John and Abba etc. The list is almost endless, except for Country and Heavy Metal. With the exception of Queen I cannot deal too well with any music that is primarily loud as I have sensitive hearing, and the same goes for any music form that hints at whining. I also have a love of old movies and television shows with MGM musicals and British shows such as The Two Ronnies, Last of the Summer Wine, and Space: 1999 heading the list. Between the two I can shrug off stress easily and I am not actually depressed. To be honest, I'm actually proud of my ability to take any insult with grace and I revel in the lack of visibility I seem to possess. The one thing that bugs me is the minor little fact that I haven't the first idea of how to take a compliment. Thankfully, that's never come up.
Busy lAte Summer days
It's been one of those months. Sorry this post is a few days late, but the end of August, beginning of September has been extremely busy with various family members falling ill. Mostly due to age. Between injured legs, strokes, heart problems and other symptoms of age I've been kept running around trying to help out where I can, mostly with my mother. I've been attempting to keep her stress levels down to take the strain off her damaged heart valve, but it has not been easy. Aside from her diabetes she's never been truly ill in her life. She does not delegate well. Add in other members of her family developing health issues that stress her and you can probably see my problem. All in all, concentration has not been optimal, however I have done a bit more work on one of the two novels I'm currently writing. Where this stress issue has stalled one another has re-begun. The start of chapter four from Surraell's series began while waiting for my mother's hospital tests to be completed in Victoria. One of the only good things to come out of that visit to B.C.'s capital this time around. Normally I only go there for Celtic Thunder concerts. It's a good thing I have always been a fairly feminine female, it's given me a stress outlet through sewing and crochet; it also means 99% of people ignore my existence these days. It is not cool or acceptable to be a pink loving, feminine dressing, long haired woman in this day and age and I enjoy the solitude it gives me. It helps that I'm also too short for most people to see, although the Cinderella feet are something I could live without. Have you ever tried finding ladies heels in children's size one? Not easy.
Too Darn Hot!
I think Cole Porter pegged that one right. Actually that was just the film version's title for the song, the original title was a little ruder, and more precise.
The Island where I live off the British Columbia mainland is in the midst of the longest drought the north-western rainforest region has ever seen. It has already been a full month without rain and it's working on a second. Being born and raised here I am not able to handle this dry heat very well. It tends to muddle my mind until I get my mords wixed, as Ronnie Barker might say. Yes, I grew up watching the Two Ronnies on CBC, and loved every minute of it. I love their show almost as much as Canada's Wayne and Shuster, a love I incorporated into my writing by having and entire alien race re-taught to speak via one of Wayne and Shuster's many skits performed on the Ed Sullivan Show back in the fifties. (No, I was not alive back in the fifties. Frank Shuster hosted a series on CBC called Wayne and Shuster in Black & White after Johnny WAyne died in the nineties. Frank Shuster would mention which sketches were performed on both their own show and Ed Sullivan's during his introductions.)
The race in my stories became so addicted to hand held texting machines that they forgot how to speak. That is part of a series connected to Sapphire as it occurs in his galaxy, not ours. Speaking of Sapphire, I have been dusting off some of the short stories about a female Para from the aforementioned race as well as some about Sapphire's daughter who becomes a Para-hunter. Since I can't concentrate enough through this heat to write anything I consider usable, I've been polishing up these stories for possible submission to fantasy magazines. Yes, Marigold, Feline and even La Lune find their into the Para-hunting stories. I'll let you know if any of them find their way into a magazine, and I'll let you know which one as soon as I can. Stay Safe everyone.
We've made it this far through the COVID-19 Pandemic, just a little more time and it will be over. We're almost at the end. I hope everyone from Canada had a happy Canada on the first and the Americans will have a happy July 4th. Unfortunately the ornamental cedars came into bloom last month and they are still spreading pollen vigorously through the neighbourhood, which has created something of a problem for me. Cedars are one of the few things I am allergic to and their pollen always heads straight for my eyes. Thanks to the Covid-19 mask rules in Canada I have not really suffered from the nasal aspects of the allergy, but my eyes have really suffered. They suffered so much I was unable to look at text on either paper or screen to post an excerpt last month, for which I apologize. I have been using cold damp cloths and prescription eye drops to deal with the problem. It has been a major pain. I hope to have the excerpt for "Escape to Ellse Where" posted this month as soon as my eyes can maintain focus without itching or stinging. Due to the past month's experience, I think I will use my collection of masks during cedar pollen season every year from now on. They really helped from the sneezing and congestion standpoint of the allergy.
I've been going through some of the short stories I wrote while creating the two characters I am currently using in the novel project I am writing at this time. I was thinking of sending them out to various literary magazines to see if they will publish them. I haven't decided on which magazines (or stories for that matter) as yet. I will post some more on that after I have a) received an acceptance for a chosen story and b) actually made up my mind on the point of which magazine and/or story. Odds are, if I can't decide I will probably do nothing until sometime next year. Either way, I will have to get my red, swollen and itchy right eye past the allergy season first.
Summer is Here...sort of
Here we are, the first day of June and the heat has struck. This is the first clear morning that has had a temperature above 5 degrees Celsius into the double digits. June is an important month for me, and not because I am a June Cancer or moon child, but because it is the middle of the year, a time to see how this year is progressing. I guess it is now pretty obvious why I chose that phrase for the name of a character and a fantasy novel series. Normally, as an extremely reserved person I would not even hint at the month of my birth, but I have started to wonder if anyone ever reads these posts anyway. There have never been any comments, which is the primary reason for my doubt.
I recently decided to revisit the books of some of the authors who inspired my decision to become a writer. I could not help noticing that there emerged a sort-of pattern. As a person who grew up in the eighties I began reading proper novels when an alarming tendency for gratuitous swearing started to appear in "serious" fiction. The four main influences in my reading choices, J.R.R Tolkien, Andre Norton, Alan Dean Foster, and Anne McCaffery were all primarily free of swearing just for the sake of swearing. I say primarily as Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger books did have a couple of foul-mouthed characters who swore quite a bit throughout the series, but his other books were not prone to such characters. I appreciated that especially as I was nine years old when I first read one of his books and fell in love with a certain red-headed boy and his flying snake. If anyone who might read this has not read Mr. Foster's Flinx and Pip books then I heartily recommend they should. Even when I find Mr. Foster's subject matter a bit too dark to handle I still cannot put the books down. I don't know about his film adaptations as those depend heavily on the screenplay and I have read very few of them. I've always found that his original books are leagues ahead, something I am currently enjoying right now as I happily re-read my way through his Humanx Commonwealth novels, most of which I have managed to collect in both hardcover and softcover. I always save Flinx for last as he is my favourite of Mr. Foster's creations, closely followed by one of Flinx's associates: a certain female insectoid that I adore.
I hope there are a few people out there who may read this post and possibly even agree with me about the under-appreciated genius of Mr. Alan Dean Foster. I had planned a bit of a rant in this post, but I seem to have gotten sidetracked. Somehow, I think that is a good thing, as I would much rather rave about a favoured and much beloved influence on my life and career choice than complain about something I can't change such as my mother's health problems or the fact that this is not a good world for someone of diminutive stature, one who has to wear high heels to hit five feet in height. I don't want to end up like one of the characters in the Foster novel I just finished reading again. If anything can kick me out of a bad mood Alan Dean Foster's writing can. If you haven't read any of his original books the I heartily recommend that you find some.
Happy Star Wars Day everyone. Oddly enough so far today I've sewn together some pinkish/mauve fairy placemats (why is it that you can find every colour of table linen possible except pink?) and started to stitch a Lord of The Rings ruffle to the bottom of a skirt. The only mishap was accidentally pinning the ruffle through both the skirt I was sewing and the Space 1999 wrap skirt I'm wearing! I probably shouldn't have watched Last of the Summer Wine while pinning the ruffle to the skirt, or skirts as it turned out. Actually it's just a skirt printed with planets and astral phenomena that can be seen from this solar system, it's the little Eagle space craft I embroidered onto the waistband myself that makes it a Space 1999 skirt. Because of the wintery cold damp weather Vancouver Island has been, uh, enjoying I am wearing a Star Wars sweatshirt so I am celebrating the day...sort of. Hmm Astronaut Captain Alan Carter meets Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker, wouldn't that be interesting? Then again, maybe not. Personally I quite enjoy the first six Star Wars movies, even the prequels, but then I both recognize and love the mythological structures George Lucas used for telling his stories. I have a great deal of respect for anyone who can adapt the Hero's Journey storyline found in the myths of Arthur and Sigurd so beautifully for Science Fiction as well as the Hero's Fall found in the Greek Tragedies for that same genre and to do it so subtly that people did not see the formula connection between the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker and that of Oedipus Rex. Anyone who can pull that off is a master storyteller in my book.
Slow but sure, that's my writing motto, except when the characters take over and drive story so fast I wonder if they think it's an F1 car. So far Surraell's daughter and her alien companion have not taken over the speed of my writing on the novel about them. As for Surraell he's also allowing me to write at my own pace on the second book in his series. He did take over the first book, I must admit, but that one intrudes a bit on Ellfs' Enchantments being the complete story of Surraell's adventures when the country of Ancient Ellfaera fell. Katara and Hollae are each told a truncated version of those events in my latest novel, primarily as it parallel's their own situation in some respects. As for the third books in both the Moon Child Memoirs and Ellfaerran Diaries series they are written, but both are still waiting for me to have time for my own personal editorial process. They are done, story-wise, but they are not yet perfected enough to be sent to the publisher. They are coming. Here's a bit of a teaser about them for you...there is a new character introduced in both who will eventually connect them to the story about Surraell's daughter and her alien companion and his connection to my current books is through Epaen. I will post the Separated Soul excerpt for this month as soon as I can. Happy Reading everyone and Stay Safe.
Spring and New Beginnings
First of all I apologize for the lateness of this update. I was having a few internet connection problems. I think my computer believed April Fool's Day began at the end of March and was a full week in length. Aside from that I've been quite busy. As many of you probably know by now Ellfs' Enchantments came out in the middle of March to continue my Ellfaerran Diaries trilogy. I have posted a piece from the beginning of chapter one for this month's excerpt and I hope everyone enjoys it. One of the most interesting things about the book is where the connections between this trilogy and the Moon Child Memoirs series arise. These connections crop up throughout the book and are quite clear to those who are looking for them. I've been spending a fair amount of time outdoors either walking or gardening. I'm trying to grow raspberries this year, if only to keep my strawberries from taking over the entire garden, but I could do without the curious birds who keep landing on my shoulder to see what I'm doing. The little birds like the Juncos and hummingbirds aren't that bad, but I really must draw the line at Steller's blue jays and ravens. I am a fairly small person and they are very heavy birds! As for the new beginnings, that would be the two books I am currently writing, specifically the second book of Sapphire's series and the first true book of his daughter's. (Yes, Sapphire has a daughter and I have written a few short stories about her that have yet to be published.) I have been concentrating fairly hard on Moon Child and Ellfstane's stories for the past little while so it is nice to spend some time with other characters. I should probably see about submitting the more dark Science-Fantasy stories about Sapphire's daughter now that Ellfs' Enchantments has finally made its way through the publication process, or maybe I'll concentrate on polishing up books 3 and 4 of the Moon Child Memoirs and Book 3 of The Ellfaerran Diaries. Yes, they are completed, but still in need of intensive editing before I could even think of showing them to a publisher. Then again, maybe I could do both. We'll see. Stay Safe.
Almost in print
Well it's been a long journey for book two of the Ellfaerran Diaries, but it's almost ready to go into print. The most recent journey for the book was the one that started in October with the initial submission of the book to the publisher. It's been through a few editorial rounds from initial acceptance with just the final print mock-up layout left to be okayed. As for the book itself, initial writing of the book was completed in 2002, but my own editorial process (a minimum of five edits after a year locked away in a drawer) combined with re-writes and a repeat of the editorial process prior to this past October's submission. In case anyone is wondering, book three is locked up in a drawer after the last re-write. I'll probably submit that one in a few years. Maybe, if I think it's ready. It has been written, as has a bit of extra-galactic history touched on in book two, but that is also locked away in a drawer. My filing cabinet is a bit stuffed right now with unpublished novels in varying stages of author's editorial work going on. I'm also writing the second piece of extra-galactic history touched on in the book along with a combination science-fiction/fantasy that follows after the Moon Child series. Apart from my usual writing process, I've also had to deal with the COVID-19 situation, which means very little has changed for me. There are benefits to being a borderline hermit. I've been getting through the various lockdown stages with not only my writing but I've also had a full set of crochet hooks, several balls of wool and crochet cotton on hand along with several meters of fabric, some thin quilt batting and a sewing machine. The result is a partially completed afghan, three doilies, four wrap skirts, six sets of placemats, one fully edited manuscript, and two in the writing process. I have also had some old television friends to keep me company while I crochet and sew, specifically Newkirk and Le Beau from Hogan's Heroes; Harris and Chano from Barney Miller; Capt. Alan Carter and Commander Koenig from Space 1999; and especially Truly and Norman Clegg from Last Of The Summer Wine lighting up my T.V. screen. Mention of these shows may help highlight some of the influences in characters I've created for my books, always remembering that my characters are amalgams of sources, although Capt. Alan Carter is a fairly large influence for the creation of a sandy-haired Celt who shows up in book three of the Ellfaerran Diaries and is mentioned in the Moon Child Memoirs. He's the Celt who just won't go away, and Morrigan is helping him stick around. I've also been highly amused by the antics of a New Zealand Dog named...Dog. I hope everyone has been doing well throughout this nerve-wracking time. Hopefully the vaccines will drive the pandemic away and life will return to a form of normal again by the New Year. Stay safe everyone. I have just been informed that the new book has been added to the Friesen Press Coming Soon list complete with address, which is https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000175132179 in case anyone is interested in looking it up.
FriesenPress has just informed me that Ellfs' Enchantments is now officially published and should be released to stores' online catalogs very soon.
Already one layout design proof has arrived for proofreading with the next one due any day for the second book of the Ellfaerran Diaries Fantasy series. If you saw the mockup for the book cover sent to me by the publisher and posted a couple of weeks ago on the January post you will have seen the title of the new book: "Ellfs Enchantments." It's due to come out some time this month. I have not been given a specific date yet by the publisher, as soon as I know I will post it as an update to this post. I have to say that I am very pleased with both the interior design for the layout of the text and with the design of the book's cover. The interior of the book is itself a work of art with the cover image used on the title pages of the section breaks and a lovely "stained glass" style line-art crescent moon above each chapter heading. Personally I think it is beautiful, but I'm just the author what do I know. As for the text itself, that is staying consistent with the previous books in print style. One change is the inclusion of an author's photo (black and white) on one of the last pages of the book. Apparently that helps sales (I'm not sure how) and as I posted a few facebook readings from the first three books during the initial COVID 19 period on my Author's Page I decided there was no point in avoiding the author's photo anymore. I'm looking forward to the release of Ellf's Enchantments into print and I hope some of you are as well. When it comes out I can finally relax, no more intensive edits and telephone meetings, until the next book. There are still two more Moon Child novels and the third of the Ellfaerran trilogy to come. I'm not done yet, especially as I'm currently in the process of scribbling out Sapphire's story. I'll get around to typing it out on the computer...eventually. I have to finish editing and polishing the remaining books of my two current series first. I hope my neighbours aren't sick of the sound of Nana Mouskouri. My collection of her CDs has been a favoured companion during this editorial process. Last time it was Strauss (the Younger) they had to put up with and before that I really hoped they liked hearing Freddie Mercury's voice as I relaxed to the music of Queen as for the first novel I tended more toward Beethoven. You could say my music choices are a bit eclectic. I think I can relax a bit more now, so I think I'll spend some time visiting Moon Base Alpha in Space: 1999.
Hello, I am a writer of High Fantasy utilizing ancient myths mixed with modern anthropological discoveries to create the worlds in which my characters live. Please join me in my journey to uncover those mystical worlds of myth and pre-history.