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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Creative Christmas!

I've really been on a roll the last couple of weeks! Every day has involved writing, drawing, crocheting and also the fun work of preparing finished books for publishing.

First off, I got to hand out some of these lovelies that I've been working on in secret:

This is Tippette the tiny crab, from a Fresh Stitches pattern, and Bunky Bob the goldfish, from a Kate Wood pattern.

The three Muscovyteers are from a pattern by Susie Farmgirl

The cute little Puffin is from a pattern by Mysterious Cats.  

The Christmas Owl is from a pattern by Bunny Mummy.

Next, I got to give my younger nieces the first printed draft copy of the book I've been working on just for them.  They'd asked me to write something that would be ok for them to read, so this was it.  I've called it Dog Slobber!  It's based around a 13 year old who lives in the year 3007 and has genetically modified giant dogs to ride, with hopefully a gentle message about the environment and about being accepting of differences in people. I have about 18 drawings to do for the book, plus one cover image.  I'm around halfway done with those.

So far it's only been read by my good old 'first tester' Andrew, and by my mum and both enjoyed it.  I've yet to see how the nieces like it.  It may need some changes to be correct for that age group. 

I've scanned a couple of pages from my sketchbook where I've been working out the images.  I like looking at sketchbooks so I hope you do too.

They often have more life than the final drawings do.  :)

Let's see, what else?  Oh yes each weekday I did daily writing of 1000 words on my current novel, Bunyip Dreaming, only having my birthday off on the 23rd of Dec.

I'm getting Land of Fire ready to go into print, and the process is going much more smoothly this time, though I really do wonder why it has to be so hard to get page numbering to work or turn off in different sections of a document.  :) 

I've also been really enjoying revisiting Chicken Soup for Satan, which is now in the editing process.  I love it when I have left a finished book long enough so that when I read it, I forget it was me who wrote it and can just enjoy it!  Not surprisingly I get all the jokes.  :D     

I've written the short Blurb for it too.  Does this make you want to read it?

"Gill Smith and his dog, Ghost, think they've found the perfect place to live. The house-mates are friendly, the house is beautiful and the surroundings are peaceful and spacious. Gill can't believe his luck!
Trouble is, strange things have begun happening around this peaceful house.  Scary things.  Who, or what, is to blame for the unearthly creatures that are plaguing the house-mates and their pets?  What creature out of the lost worlds of myth will come after them next?

Gill likes to come across as tough (and with a nickname like Satan, who would question it!) but is he tough enough to stick it out when the weird stuff really hits the fan?"

I hope it does make you want to read it!  I guess the genre is fantasy, but I think actually it has its own genre of Cosy Horror, if there could be such a thing.  :)

Since I am posting this on the very first day of 2015, I also hope for you all that you wish for in this coming year, and for my fellow dog nuts, I hope it contains lots of doggy fun!



Friday, 26 December 2014

Why Druidry?

First of all I'd like to say that Druids are a very varied bunch so this only applies to me.  I do think there are common threads that run through us all but not all of us have the same feelings or beliefs about all things.

So, why Druidry? I think I was a Druid before I ever knew such a being existed in the modern world.

That's me kissing a Jarrah tree from back about 1998.  Yep, I was already pretty Druidy!

Druids have a special affinity for trees.  Most of us do anyway. We plant them, care for them, commune with them, and yes, even occasionally kiss them!  Some people do say that even the name Druid stems from a word that meant oak-knower or oak-seer, though there are other ideas that it perhaps stemmed from the Welsh word Drywr, and/or the Irish word Drui, which both mean Wren.  Even today the Wren is considered a bird sacred to Druids for her unassuming wisdom and courage. 

Anyway, I'm not here to rehash information that has been admirably written elsewhere.  There are some fantastic Historians among the Druid Orders, but I'm not one of them.  I'm more of an in-the-present person.    

So, along with loving trees goes a reverence for nature and our planet and a wish to protect her. I have that reverence and always have. 

I love that on the whole Druids believe in living and letting live, and in compassion for all other living beings, but they also will stand up and be counted when something unjust is being done.  This can take many forms, from protesting against fracking, to reforestation projects, to human rights, to monthly meditations for peace. For me right now it is mostly about supporting charities that I believe in because my own physical situation precludes me from doing the more active things I used to do.  I do plant and care for local native trees and shrubs every year.  I love to see them grow and thrive, and add greenness and shade to barren places in our hot, dry corner of the country.

This is a winter shot but all that greenery behind Rosie and Tuppy was planted by us.  It was bare paddock before.   

I love this picture of my darling Andrew, out tree planting.  Dammit, it just makes you happy to do it!  Really it does.  Try it!  

Another aspect that is common to Druids is the knowledge that creativity in some form is important to human happiness.  It doesn't matter what, you just do it.  I was always pretty creative, but by golly since I began my Druid studies I have flowed with creative energy more and more! Writing of prose and poetry, making music, making art, telling stories, these things and more make a life fulfilled. It's not necessarily about how well you do it, just that you enjoy the process.

This is me and my visiting Da playing guitar together.  Those are some of my paintings in the background.  Behind us is our beautiful Bodhran that came to us all the way from the Shetland Islands and that I can play a little too.  Surround yourself with creativity and make opportunities for being creative easy to grasp.  Take the judgment out of it and just go for it. It's fun.   :)  By the way the dog in there is our darling angel, Tam.

So, what else does this Druid do that is Druidy?  I learn, both on the inner and the outer plane. Experiential learning is emphasized.  Learning from books is good too.  Heck any sort of learning is good.  The general Druid opinion would be that an open-minded approach to learning as well as to our spiritual path is the way to go.  We aren't afraid to have our opinions altered by more learning.  There isn't even one form of religion that is shared by all Druids.  Some are even Atheist!  We don't think our way is the only way, at least until you come up against our desire to save the planet, because we tend to think that's not negotiable, though we're still happy for folks to come at it the way that best suits them.

For a lot of Druids, celebrating festivals during the year that match the seasons, the solstices and so on are very important, but for me here in lonely Western Australia, that is not such a bit part of my practice.  I do try to keep in tune with what is happening in nature around me, but it is more of a personal thing.  I guess in many ways what is missing from my practice that others get is community.  Community is very important to Druids too.  Being of service, being involved.  Part of that is also a result of my having had Lyme Disease for so long. I stopped doing things because I felt too unwell, and my social skills have yet to return.  Who knows, though.  Maybe one day I'll even get to a Midsummer dawn ceremony at Stonehenge, or get to walk with my fellow Druids up the hill to Glastonbury Tor!

In the meantime I'll just have to stick to being a bit of a Solitary Druid and mostly talking to the wonderful trees I'm lucky enough to live amongst.




Monday, 22 December 2014

Webriders goes into print!

The second proof for my book, Webriders, arrived yesterday and this time I'm totally stoked with it. It looks marvelous inside and out! 

It's now available in printed form on Amazon as well as Kindle

I just want to say a big thank you to Carmen of Rainbow Travellers, who created this cover art for me.  It totally glows when seen in real life and I love it!  I knew she had just the right style to suit this story when I saw what she'd done with her beautiful Rainbow Travellers Tarot deck.

The story behind Webriders began with an idea my sister, Jenny, had.  She wrote and sent me the first part in an email, then I wrote a bit more, and then we swapped emails back and forth, coming up with lots of fun ideas. There was a local Indian Restaurant that was run by a whole family of chubby, kind, amazing Indian people.  The father was quite magical in his presence and yet jolliness.  We decided that a family like that had to go into the story. Not long after that we both got too busy to continue with it, but the story stayed in the back of my mind as deserving of more attention.  Years later, I was looking for an idea for a NanoWriMo novel, and that story came back to me. I started from scratch on the first day of that November, kept the idea of people being able to move through computers, but I made the sisters Anglo-Indian instead of Australian, and so the novel began to take shape.

I had so much fun researching the places around the world where I wanted them to go!  I'd been to some, but others I only knew of.  Travel blogs were my friend because they really gave me a sensory experience of these exotic, and sometimes not so exotic, destinations. :)

I love the two sisters, with their close bond and their different strengths.  I love their odd family and friends.  I love that they grew as the story went on. As always, I have no idea how I come up with the twists and turns that develop in my stories.  They just grow as the word count progresses.  It's as much a mystery to me as to anyone else.  That's the miracle and the excitement of writing novels, I guess!           

Webriders was a lot of fun to write, and I do hope it will be a lot of fun for you to read. So far I've had some great reviews!       

Monday, 15 December 2014

Land of Fire cover art, step by step.

So, this is the cover for Land of Fire.  Up to now it's had a pretty boring generic one from Amazon's cover creator, so I thought I'd better do something about that!

I started with a few different thumbnails and messing about till I got a design I liked.  This is a scan from my sketchbook.

Then, when I'd got the thumbnail right, a sketch.

After that I got out my trusty quill pen and ink because I wanted more variety in the line than you can get with a .03 ink pen. which was the smallest I had available.  I had this idea that I wanted the figures to be outlined boldly in black, a bit like some art deco designs.  

After that it was time to add watercolour.

I wanted red to grab the eye on those very small thumbnails you see on kindles etc.  It scanned a bit pinker than the original, but I like it.

Then it was off to Gimp to add the title text.  I've been learning a bit about Gimp due to having to do these covers.  Can't say as I love it but I'm getting to know it a bit better.

What do you think?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Got my first ever Proof copy!

It's kind of hard to do a selfie with a book and get them both just right, but here I am with my first ever really-truly-looks-like-a-book copy of one of my novels!  I'd far rather have written ten more books than learn all I had to learn to get this one book going on Create Space, but I did it!

Unfortunately the interior is not quite as snazzy as I want it to be, so I've gone back to Create Space and redone the interior, so now I wait for another proof copy and cross my fingers!