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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Doggy fun

 Grandma Tess

 Tuppy in front, Rosie behind.

 Angus has the ball!

 I love this one.  Such intensity.
 Please!  Please!  Throw the ball!

 Angus is a happy chappy.
 And so handsome!

 Brother and sister silly faces!
 Quick, the sun's setting!  Throw the ball some more while we still can!

 Angus says, "Every side is my best side."

 Mama Rosie and her big baby son.  

Rosie got the ball!

Yes we're still sick here. It's a nasty nasty bug!

Friday, 25 September 2015

The lost week.

What we've been doing this week can be summed up in one photo.  This one:

Yep we've had, or in my case still have, the dreaded flu lurgy.  Some kind person at Andyroo's work presumably decided to be all heroic and come to work while still sick, and now quite a few of his or her work mates are off sick too.  Not to mention all the spouses, grandparents and kids who probably got it on the rebound. 

Ah well, I know it's a tricky thing, this being sick.  They make mouth music to tell us we must stay home when we're sick, but at the same time there is so much pressure to come to work no matter what, or risk being seen as not dedicated enough.  Funny old world. I've said it before and I'll surely say it again.  :)

We've not only had some hellish days, we also have to miss our Bushfire Brigade's annual dinner this weekend, plus a fuel reduction burn and our usual Saturday schedule as well.  I'm really bummed about the dinner especially.  We're so enjoying being part of a team again and the dinner is one of the special team bonding events of the year.

We had fun last Saturday.  We took out the light tanker and put out some smouldering ashes at the site of a burn off from the night before, fueled her up and topped up her water tank, and then gave her a good wash over ready for other members to take her to a local community event the next day.  It's fun to wash a vehicle using fire hoses.  :) 

Anyway, with me still only just coming out of the worst of it, and poor Andrew tottering about trying to look after things while I recover, this won't exactly be my longest post ever!

The yellow boy in that photo at the top, looking somewhat bored with all the inactivity, is Angus, Rosie's son and Tuppy's litter brother.  Mum was away last week, so Angus and Grandma Tess came to us, and luckily I managed to avoid going right down with the flu until she came home to look after her two.  In fact, she's been walking ours for us since Wednesday morning!  Thank goodness for extended families!

Monday evening, I was so far just a little snotty, and the light was so lovely, I managed to get some beautiful pics of the dogs while out doing their evening ball game.  I'll post a couple of preview pics just to whet your appetite.  :)  

That Angus, what a movie star he is!  He was a stand-out right from the moment he was born into my hands.  Must do him his own post one of these days.

I liked this Star Trek style tableau.  :)  

Tuppy is so fast that Angus sometimes tries to get a head start by staying out there.  :)

Sunday, 20 September 2015

People who inspire me: Charles de Lint and MaryAnn Harris

Charles de Lint.  How could he not be inspiring for someone like me?  He's not only a writer I would love to be as good as, he's also musical as well, and he's just a downright nice human being.

I'm not sure which is my favorite book of his.  Maybe Greenmantle.  I've read it more times than any of the others, if that counts.  They are all great reads, though.  I even like his short stories, which is very unusual for me.  I'm not usually a short story person.  My copy of Greennmantle has the same cover as this one. As a pagan, how could I go past it in the second hand book store?  It was the beginning of my journey of reading Charles de Lint.

It's not just that he writes fantasy. Within those fantasies, he writes real people with the sort of heart and empathy for his characters that fantasy writers sometimes seem to lack.  He also writes music into his books, which I love as well. It's like he sets the background music for your reading experience.

So. Music. If Charles can be good at both writing and music, then so can I, is what I often remind myself.  And art too. The creative urge can cross boundaries and should cross boundaries. You don't need to pigeonhole yourself.  Each creative endeavour enriches and informs the others, even if one of those pursuits is your best one. 

One of my fave songs of all time is this one by Charles.  I love to listen to it and also to play it on my guitar.  It's extra pleasurable to me because it was inspired by another one of my favorite books, The Woodwife, by Terri Windling. 

He really enjoys his music too.  I came across this one the other day while hunting up ukelele songs for Andyroo. So much fun.

Here he is with his wife MaryAnn Harris, a musician in her own right. I love her EP, especially her song, Crow Girls.

His relationship with MaryAnn is another thing to inspire me.  They work so well together.  They make music together and support each others' efforts.  They are loyal and loving.  I like to think that Andrew and I are like that too, and its good to see couples who keep making it work as the years go by.

They were kind enough to send me the chords to two of their songs, and to take an interest in my Anglo-Saxon lyre, which, incidentally, was named after my reading one of Charles de Lint's short stories.  "Mondream," an Anglo-Saxon word, meaning, "Dreaming the life of a man."  What does a musical instrument do if not that?   
Plus, they both adore their little rescue dog, Johnny Cash.  To someone like me, that is one of the best things.  :)

This pic is pinched from a great blog post by Terri Windling on artists and their dogs

Thanks for the inspiration, Charles and MaryAnn. Keep writing and making music!




Thursday, 17 September 2015

Dogs at King's Meadow

My health is on a bit of a downswing just now so I'm going post pics of something that makes me happy.  My dogs, Rosie and Tuppy, having fun down at the river!

I hope there is something to do or look at today that makes your day happier too!

Edited to add that this isn't King's meadow, it's Fishmarket Reserve!  How did I do that?

Sunday, 13 September 2015

The making of the art for Bunyip Dreaming's cover

I don't usually do two book postings a row, but I said I'd post this one today, so I will. :)

I wanted to do something for this cover that didn't reveal too much, yet I wanted it to be alien, and to have a feeling of freedom and strength about it.  I think I managed that.

Since I'm getting better at Gimp, I wanted to make the cover all in one so that it tied together well from the front to the back of the book via the spine.  I achieved that too!  Very pleasing!

So, anyway, back to the beginning.  I began with a pretty firm idea in my head but needed to refine it, so I got the good old sketchbook out.  You can see my twiddling much more clearly if you click on the pic to embiggen it.  

I forgot to take a photo of my drawing onto the painting board.  I'll get better at remembering, I promise.  :) The next stage I remembered to photograph was where I'd blocked in the colour.  I used acrylic paint on masonite for this one.

This board was an overpainted old one.  At times you can see the textures of the underneath paint showing through as the light hits them.  It came out ok in the end, though at times during the process I was worried it might detract from the final work.  I've got to get some new boards!

Next stage was just adding detail. It was by no means a complicated project. My main issue was making the night sky look night-skyish without making it too speckled for the words that had to go over the top of it.  I wasn't sure how bright or blotchy to make the moons either.     

Blinder added. You'll have to read the book to find out what a blinder is, or a broofer or a Tarintarn!  There's one of each on the cover.  :)

So, it was finished or at least finished in the painting stage. I planned to fiddle a lot once I got it onto the computer.  It's a heck of a lot easier to experiment there than with the original! 

Andyroo took it out and took high quality photos of it at this stage.  It's interesting how much the colour changes from the photos I took inside. This is much closer to how I described the night in the book.

But I wanted it more orange and zippy, and a bit darker to bring the lettering out, so I fiddled and managed to get it to this in iphoto using mostly the boost effect, of all things.  It's amazing what you can do with those little buttons!

And so to Gimp, and I'm getting better and better with Gimp.  The final cover only took me a few hours and there was no strangled crying involved at all!

I hope it makes you want to read the book!


Thursday, 10 September 2015

Bunyip Dreaming goes live!

Well, finally my newest novel, Bunyip Dreaming, is available for Kindle on Amazon!  It has been a slow and steady sort of process to get it there, but it's been fun too.

This is the official short blurb for the book:

"Would you take a boon if it was offered to you by a mythical Australian water beast?

Trapped in an ailing body and an empty life, Anna is desperate enough to do just that, but like all such mythical wishes, this one is granted in a way that Anna doesn't expect. She finds herself not only with a new life, but on a new planet as well, with alien invaders to fight and a desperate populace to lead.

Anna has what she wished for, if not in the way she might have chosen. Can she take advantage of her newly-strong warrior's body and powerful place in this new society to make a life worth living?

Finding a purpose at last and quickly becoming fond of those around her, Anna is determined to make good, but even if she somehow saves her new people, will this existence turn out to be all a dream after all? Will she find herself back in her old body and life no matter how well she does?

Only the bunyip knows!"

I guess it's a bit of a Sword and Sorcery meets aliens kind of book, but it's also got more going on as well.  The experience of being trapped in a body that is failing you is one I know well, and I put some of my heartache and frustration into giving Anna a new body. I wanted to see if she could make good without that health millstone around her neck any longer.  

I had so much fun giving her a new body and a new life, and new people and strange alien animals to love.  Escapism?  Oh yes!  You betya!

As usual, I did the cover art too, and on Monday I'll do a progress post to show you how I got to the cover I ended up with.

In the meantime, please read it!  At 99 cents US for the Kindle version, what have you got to lose?  My sister, Jen, says it's one of my best ever books, and she should know because she's read them all.  :)     

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Trip to Margaret River

Margaret River is probably one of the best known Tourist places in Western Australia.  We went down this week, planing to stay for four nights, but we came back after one.

Ah well, before we came home, we got to spend some time at the beach, cold, showery and windy though it was. It was nice to see the weather coming so far away.  Up here behind the trees and hills, we see the weather just before we get it.  :)

 Here comes some more rain!

The dogs had a lovely time running wild on the sand and the rocks. We had the beach to ourselves both times we went there.

We ran a bit wild too, though I must say walking on the beach is still knackering for a pair of recovering lymies. 

Selfie with rainbow?

Me poddling about. 

I like this one of me and my girls.  

The only other time we went to Margs was way back in 1998.  I had my black labbie then too, my rescue girl, Sam.  Funny how things change and yet things stay the same.  :)

I remember having a hell of a lot more energy that time though!  It was in the halcyon days before Lyme disease.  It is Lyme that is partly to blame for our early return, due to the rotten chemical sensitivity it has caused in us both.

We tried hard to get the house we stayed in pre-organised so that it wouldn't have too many chemicals used in it when cleaned for our arrival, but even though the owners tried hard for us, the fact is that modern homes are totally toxic with fabric cleaners and carpet deodorizers and goodness knows what else.  It was awful for us both that first night even though we took all our own bedding right down to a mattress protector.

Then Rosie started to throw up and we decided that was the last straw, so home we came.  She cheered up as soon as we got her home, and so did we!  So much for holidays.  We might be a lot better than we were, but apparently we're still not well enough to go away like normal people!

Ah well, one of my reasons to go down was to talk to a Karri tree for my Druid studies, but I didn't get the chance. We did go and walk through some of the local forest that first day, so I did get to see some of them at least.  I've got a buddy up here who planted some Karri seeds along his creek-line that were doing ok last time I asked about them, so I might see if I can go talk to one of those.

It's a lovely forest down there. Much lusher and denser than our local forest, and the trees, even the Jarrah and Marri who are also our local trees, grow much bigger down there in the higher rainfall.  The Karri trees, who are local only to a tiny corner of our Southwest, are world famous.  Amazing!

It's hard to give a true impression of just how amazing these trees are, and plenty of people have probably done it better, but here is a tiny bit of video of what the Karri forest near Margs looks and sounds like. We had the river running just behind us so that is the rushing sound you can hear. 

I think this one by Perthwalker shows the local forest well.  So peaceful! 

So, we're home early, and having a nice relaxing time here instead.  I'm not writing for two whole weeks, and Andrew is home too, and we're playing musical instruments and reading and so on.  I think today I'm slated to help Andyroo build a new aerial for his amateur radio set up.  Hmm, think novel writing would be more fun than that!  :D

One fun thing I've been doing is writing a heroic, epic song for Freya Fjordrider, the over-the-top character from my Freya novels. I'm doing it on the Anglo-Saxon Lyre and making it sound very piratey and lively. I'm onto lyrics now.  I just have to decide how rude to make it.  :)