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Friday, 29 April 2016

Martial Arts and other art.

The art of nature making lovely views from my kitchen table...

The art, or is it craft, of making archive shelves at the fire station.  As usual Andyroo and I made quite the team. 

The art and atmosphere in our favorite cafe, the Crooked Spire in Midland...  

Doopy likes his new blingy look with his shiny new nudge bar.  Wonder if he'll like it when aerials get put on it?   Andyroo will!  :D

Some old photos came to light this week at mum's place...

The art of riding as being learned by my oldest niece, Tee, on my dear Isabeau.

Gods, is that me there in blue?  I was so tiny!   I was at the height of my martial arts madness then.  We trained every morning at both Arnis and Taekwondo.  This is us messing with Arnis. 

I was glad when mum found these.  We have hardly any pics of us doing our thing from those days. I do have this earlier one of me doing a long jumping kick competition. 

 And this is one of me sparring...

There was a video of Andrew and I doing a knife defense demo at a Darlington Arts Festival, but it's lost now, sadly.  

Sometimes I get inklings that I'd like to go back to a martial art of some sort. I did love it so. Not sure my old Lymie joints and muscles would like it much nowadays!

Cyrano thinks all this hurry and scurry is madness.


A soft kitty and a good read are the answer to every question, he reckons!  I'm on the way to producing another good read. ( I hope!)  End of week two of writing Land of Giants and I've got 11 310 words.  The story is just about to change up a gear!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Yarn, old photos and fireys

Look at this lovely handpainted yarn I got from Marigold and dog!  I plan to make some easy crocheted wrist warmers from this tutorial by Bunnymummy.

I love the delicious autumn colours!

Was messing with our filing cabinet and found these old newspaper clippings in a file I'd forgotten I had.  (As you do.) How cute was I? Keech was even cuter.  :)

This next one was our University motorbike club.  I have memories of some very wild rides with that lot!  See me grinning there behind Bill the dog?  I was riding my Yamaha XS 250.  Later I graded up to The Maxx, who was a load of fun. I have little memory of that second bike, only that it was maybe 600 CC and belt driven, and hand-painted matt black, and I don't have even one photo of it! 

It's fun to come across these long forgotten memories, isn't it!

Fireys has been going on as usual. Here are Elton and his wife Michelle.

Elton was already in the Brigade when we joined and is a fellow ex-SCAer!

Not sure if we ever met in our SCA days, but I do remember that the first time saw him I thought to myself, "That guy needs to be in the SCA!" so maybe we did, though I do meet other people who I think that about too.  :)

Michelle and I have got to be friends, so I am pleased she has joined the Brigade too! 

We had a lot of fun bouncing around in the Light Tanker together behind the 1.4 as we did some track familiarisation last Saturday.

We all switched positions round a lot, so at one point I was being driven by Gogs, who is always good value.

Next thing I was driving the Light Tanker with Michelle, and then I was crammed in the back of the 1.4 with the beefy lads.

Had to leave the door open and hang half out to get the seatbelt done up, we were so squeezy!

It was fun, although maybe not this much fun, Gogs!

Next weekend we're holding a Games Night for the Brigade.  Hope it goes well!



Friday, 22 April 2016

Tee's Afghan

 So the latest afghan has finally gone to its rightful owner, my lovely niece, Teelah. 

Making it was a long process! 

But it was worth it.  

She seems pretty happy with her belated Bday gift.  :)

Monday, 18 April 2016

Autumny Family Bits

Well it's that time again already!

The Virginia Creeper on the back of the cottage is turning pink. 

The days are cooling off, allowing for later cups of tee on mum's verandah enjoying the lushness of her garden and the changing colours of her trees...

I especially enjoyed our cuppa with my good friend, Amy.  So did Angus.  He LOVED Amy and had to get up on the table to get closer to the pats.  :)  No we don't care if he does that. We don't have entirely undisciplined dogs, but we had one boy who we'd get up there to have massages for his sore back, and the habit of letting them up there kind of stuck.   I appreciate that it can be a bit surprising for guests, but Amy took it in good spirit, as she does everything in life. 

I started writing my eleventh novel today!  I've had a few months away from actual first draft writing and it took a little while to get back on the horse. New chair, updated Open Office programme... stuff like that can really put you off your game. It's all about letting yourself write onto the screen with as little interference to the creative flow as possible, so the less you have to think about in other ways is very helpful.

Anyway, Land of Giants is on it's way.  1299 words, and already interesting stuff is happening that I hadn't planned.  I love writing novels!

It's going to be very hard not to share the story as I go, but that's not how I work best.  I do best by keeping it to myself and just writing as steadily as I can, so I can get to the pleasure of people enjoying my finished novel at the end.  I think sharing too much along the way makes me lose that urgency.

Insert picture of hunky hubby's amazing arm muscles.  Yummo!   
 And his very sexy red braces...

Double Yummo!  How lucky am I?

In more creative news, we went and saw my middle niece in a play on Friday night, Shrek Jr.  It was so funny and lively.   Gee it is lovely to see all those kids, so talented, so bright and clever.  Go see some kids in an amateur play if you are worried about the future of our youth.  :)  I'll see if I can get a pic of Molly for a future post but here's Niamh with some of the cast after the play.
Look at all those lovely bright faces. They all sang, danced and remembered amazing amounts of lines. Excellent work from everyone involved!

Hang, on stop press!  Sis sent me a pic of the whole cast.  Molly is one of the guards in orange and blue on the right hand side of the pic, the one in front.
They're still playing at Roleystone Theatre all this week if you are local and want to go see them. 
Niamh and I did more art the other week but I haven't done a newsy post since then. First we did the different proportions of the face from front on and profile, looking at how the average faces divides up.  She drew this lady, who she calls an Emo.  :)

Then we had Andrew as our life model.  She did a great job of drawing him.

See, you can hardly tell the difference!

Mum and Angus went to their first retrieving trial of the year yesterday and won the restricted class. Well done Mum and Angus!  That's them out of restricted for good now, so they will only be able to run in the tougher all-age trials, but hopefully now he's had 'brain surgery' he can concentrate a bit better and it will be their year to shine!

In other news, Rosie is happy.
And Cyrano assured me that the roll hanging over the yarn there was purely made of fur!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

A Fun Excerpt From "Land of Fire".

I am currently rereading, "Land of Fire" to get my headset in the right place to start writing the sequel next week.

I've got to the entrance of the irrepressible Brodie, and have been enjoying it so much I thought you might like to have a read of it too.


Perry hung up his fifth cheesecloth shirt in a row, and above this line of dripping hippydom an apparition leapt into view from around the side of the house. It had wild, fine, orange hair that blew out like a halo about its head, a blunt, jolly face, forearms like orange-furred treetrunks, a broad, naked, furry chest, and it wore a kilt and nothing else.
   The apparition’s name was Brodie Mac Brodie, and the last time Perry had seen him was at a medieval event in Sydney, where he had been the best fighter on the day, as he usually was, which had included thrashing Perry’s arse from one end of the Eric to the other. Brodie and Perry went way back, back to their early teen years at least, and they had always been friends.
   “M’Lord Peregrine!” Brodie roared, and swept a flashy bow that left his hair even more excited than before.
   Not big on fast reactions, Perry was still standing behind his shirts, peg in hand and mouth agape. A larger-than-life Australian Highlander in your backyard didn’t happen every day, not even to Perry. He scrambled for his wits and ducked under the washing to come give Brodie a hug.
   “Bloody hell!” Perry groaned as he was hugged back (groaned because all the air was being crushed out of his chest). “What are you doing in Perth, you mad bugger?”
   “I’ve come to stay with you of course,” Brodie answered, looking not at all offended at being called a mad bugger, probably because he was one. “Well, that and I wangled a short short-term contract over here. Going to have my arse in the river of gold for three months! Two weeks on the rig, one week off, which I want to spend every minute of with you!”
   Perry can be forgiven for looking dismayed for just a second before he managed to get that welcoming smile back on his face: Brodie Mac Brodie, whose real name was lost to the mists of childhood, and perhaps these days only seen on those oil rig contracts and the like, was as bad as Perry’s parents for living what was to most people only a hobby. He was Mad Medievalist incarnate, an odd thing to find in an Electrician, but there you have it.
   “What’s the local group like?” he asked, and Perry needed no further explanation to know that he was asking about the local members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, or SCA, which back in Sydney filled Brodie’s life as well as providing him with a family.
   “I don’t actually know,” Perry had to admit. “I came over here to be normal for a while.”
   “What’s normal, my friend?” Brodie asked, and gave some mysterious, probably bare, area under his kilt a good scratch.
   “Not kilts as streetwear, that’s for sure,” Perry rejoindered, “and not spending all your social life poncing around in tights.”
   “Neither you nor I wear tights, unless you’ve changed your persona,” Brodie answered happily, “and kilts are fashionable. Come help me get my gear off your front lawn. The taxi guy wanted to leave in a hurry.”
   “Saw your weapons or something, did he?”
   “My helm, actually,” Brodie said, and grinned a lunatic grin. “I’ve got a new one.”
   The new helm proved to be polished steel with a particularly scary stylized face on it, although, as Perry pointed out, it wasn’t as scary as Brodie’s own mug when he got going.
   They lumped all of Brodie’s gear into the house; his small case of clothing, his large bag full of rattan weapons, his huge trunk full of armour, and the heavy, scary helm. All of it went into Perry’s spare room, which was also his junk room.
   Brodie professed himself happy with the old mattress on the floor amongst the piles of Perry’s old computer components and his multitude of stacked books, and dropped his gear randomly in any available space.
             “Now,” he told Perry, “we get pissed together!”


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Music to Write to: Xavier Rudd

Xavier Rudd is an Aussie singer-songwriter.  One of his songs is the one I have begun working out to play on my lyre next.  "Follow the sun."  I love this song. It never fails to make me feel grounded and peaceful. 

This song has such power.  Xavier is very environmentally and socially conscious, and this one is right on.  "Bow down."

This one is called "Messages."  Such a great driving song.

And this little tune just outright makes me feel happy.   "Butterfly."

Enjoy, and have a lovely week!

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The Making of the Cover Art for Heroic Plans.

So, "Heroic Plans" is up on Amazon for Kindle at last.  Believe it or not, it is my tenth full-length novel to be published.  Phew!

It's only the second horsey-type one I've written, since fantasy is my great love, but I have a lot of fun writing them, and the first one is very popular, so there are sure to be more Galloping Plans books written in future.  I already have plans to write the third novel from Jimmy's perspective. It's time he got centre stage, a place in which he surely likes to be! 

For now, though, it's Tam's turn to shine.    

This is the short blurb:

Shy Tam is often overshadowed by the larger than life characters around her, but something is about to happen to change that.  Her darling young Warmblood, Prince William, doesn’t want to be a dressage horse, and if she is to keep moving forward with his training, Tam is going to have to collect her courage and take up the sport that he loves and she fears:  Eventing.

While Tam makes a heroic plan to ease herself into this scary and exciting new horsey adventure, some of the people near her are plotting in other ways.  Intrigues are afoot to liven up her non-existent love life, and there are deeper, darker schemes swirling around her that might mean she needs more courage than she ever imagined.

Can Tam and Willie make it round a cross country course without Tam losing her nerve, or the strength in her knees?  Can Kat, Seamus and Jimmy help her find true love?  Who is planning darker derring-do, and will Tam and her friends be able to counter them?

Come for a wild ride with Tam and find out! 

I wouldn't say you need to be horsey to enjoy it.  I didn't go all jargony with it.  You do need to love animals, though, because the book is full of them!   It's also got some fun characters, a lively story-line, and a bit of a mystery to keep you guessing.

I wanted a cover that matched the one for Cunning Plans but this time instead of tiny Kat on her tall Thoroughbred, Lingo, I had to paint a tall blonde girl and a big bay/brown Warmblood; Tam and her Prince Willie.

I collected some photos to get ideas from, then began with drawing, but I only did some tiny thumbnail sketches to make sure my construction would fit the book cover format, then I went for it on the canvas, first with pencil, then with paint.   

Next stage, I began to block in the big areas of colour.

And more.

And more again.

At this stage, I decided I didn't like his front ear, and after much messing I just painted it out and redid it entirely.

Ah, that's a better placement!

But what the heck is going on with Tam's face?  She looks like she's had a mad make-up person attack her!  The character does have rather a pale, blushing sort of complexion, but this one looks like a hussy from the Georgian Era!

Ok, got that fixed too, add some final touch-ups and highlights, and a better photo taken by Andyroo...

Then a resizing to match the cover template, and over to GIMP to add lettering, and it's done!   What do you think?

If you like a light read and love animals, these are the books for you.  Enjoy!  :)