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Sometimes it seems like yesterday, as though I could still reach out and touch. Still doesn't seem real. There is still a part of you that denies; that he will come walking in the door with his sunny smile and his manhugs, daughter in his arms.
I will always ask why, there will always be tears.
Oh, things have changed, of course. Life goes on. You can't live in the past even when some days you want to.
There is my writing and the possibility of a move. There is son #3 doing so well at Uni and becoming an amazing young man. My grandaughter, all legs and five years old in a couple of days.
There were the birds singing outside my window this morning - a herald of Spring. A time of renewal and awakening from winter's long grip. The snow is metling, the sun is shining, the animals are shedding. Can't wait for some greenery, although that is jumping the gun here in AB, another month or two yet. But the idea is there.
Have a Happy easter everyone, and remember what you've got

 
 
Erren sent me some questions back, so....

Erren Greywolf http://www.errengreywolf.ca



My 11 questions for you are:


 1. What is your favourite book?
Can I cheat and have two? "To Ride hell's Chasm" by Janny Wurts & "Cyteen" by CJ Cherryh, because I love them both for very different reasons.

 2. What can you do to change the world?
 Oh my, what a question. I guess it would be for people to read my novels and maybe find words in them that touch their hearts. Because, my son's death changed my life, in some small ways I can share that horrid learning curve of grief, and if that helps people then it could make a difference.

 3. What was the last kind thing that you did?
 Brought someone a cup of coffee at work this afternoon.

 4. Why did you decide to create a blog?
 Because although I am not a chatty cathy in person unless I know you well, I like to talk about books and animals and life in general and I can do that through a blog.

 5. What is your favourite character in any book?
I loved Mikael in "To Ride Hell's Chasm". I loved his grittiness and his honour.

 6. If you had a superpower, which would it be?
To turn back time, not necessarily to change anything, but so that I could ask my son what happened.

 7. What is your favourite genre? 
Speculative fiction.

 8. What is your favourite place to visit?
The mountains.

 9. Have you written a book and, if so, what is the title?
Ha! Which of the seven or nine did you want to hear about - lol? Two published - "Games of Adversaries" and "The Voice of the Land". Both science fiction but very much character driven stories. More science fantasy really.

 10. Do you like tea? If so, which is your favourite?
Rooibus Honeymoon.

 11. Describe a perfect day for you.
When all my family are safe and I can relax and write a damned good book.
 
 
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This is in answer to Soo Clark from Silk Screen Views, a blog which reviews my kind of stories. http://silkscreenviews.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/the-liebster-blog-award-2013/
The 'award' is presented to those who have a promising blog but kinda new at the game so have yet to gain a slew of followers. The rules seem to vary a bit, but it was still fun.
~ The Rules for the Liebster Blog Award ~


Once Nominated:
1.You must answer 11 questions from the blog that
nominated you.2.Choose & nominate 11 blogs to receive the LBA.
3.Notify the blogs that they have been nominated for the LBA.
4.Pick 11 questions for your nominees to answer.



Soo ~ The Instigator’s ~ Questions for the Nominees.

1.What was your first  response when you got my email about the Liebster Blog Award?
Google! Because I wanted to know what it was.

2.Name a weird event that has happened due to running a blog. If the answer is no, tell a joke. It must be FUNNY!
I can't tell jokes. I am pathetic. \0/ No, sorry, nothing really weird. Quite glad about that really even if it isn't newsworthy.

3.Has anything unexpected happened to you by writing a post? If the answer is no, create a haiku about your blog.
Serendipity dances through pages winter long.
While tragedy, both real and fiction, call listeners.
Fae argue merrily with aliens.
Er, might have cheated a tad. So long since I wrote one I can't remember the rules.

4.Light saber or magic wand? Defend your answer! =).
 Magic wand. Because I am sure if I had a light saber it would run out of batteries...

5.What is a flaw you would never give up?
Day dreaming stories, which mean I miss Important stuff like bills and, oh, housework.

6.If you could rid the world of stupid people, would you? Why or why not?
 Not. Because stupid people make me look so clever.

7.What three things do you absolutely must have to survive the Zombie
Apocalypse?
 Clean water, a damned good dog, and my family.

8.Is there a book you regret reading? What was it?
Nope, because you learn something every time, good and bad.

9.What do you do when your creative juices dry up and you can’t write anything but
ellipses?
 Go ride my horse.

10.What is your definition of a white lie?
 One which doesn't hurt anyone else.

11.Why did you decide to accept the LBA & participate in the blog meme?
Because I love interacting with people via my blog and would adore some more people to talk to :).

Oh my goodness, eleven people and I know many folk don't like to do these, but I guess I will name them anyway. I think I will stop at seven, and please don't feel obligated, it is only fun!

Elizabeth Hull (C.N. Lesley) -
http://cnlesley.wordpress.com/
Jim Giammatteo http://giacomogiammatteo.com
Erren Greywolf
http://www.errengreywolf.ca
Sussi Egneus http://www.segneus.com/
Tali Spencer http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.ca/?zx=42bc093a51cab98d
Crash Froelich http://crashfroelich.weebly.com/
Sandra Almazan http://www.ulbrichalmazan.blogspot.ca/
So now I have to think of eleven questions. Since these are all writers...
1. Describe the perfect book for you.
2.If you could be one of your characters, who would you be and why?
3.Name your favorite author and tell us why.
4.You are stuck in a place without access to paper or a computer of any kind - what would you do?
5.If you were handed a six figure publishing contract tomorrow, how would you spend it?
6.What music do you listen to when you write? Or do you prefer silence?
7. Is there a life other than writing? If so, what is your favorite thing to do?
8.Tell me what you are working on right now.
9. What is the best thing (so far) you have written and why should I read it?
10.If no one ever read your work, would you still write?
11.What made you pick the particular genre that you write in?



 
 
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I've been wanting to do a post for some time now, on why you should read my book(s). Because, given the amount of books published every day, whether independently or through mainstream publishers, what makes you pick up one book over another?
We all know how we personally choose a novel, but it is no good knowing about the best novel ever! and then not being able to find it. And when you do the first thing you do is pick it up.
What do you see? The cover of course. A cover can make the difference with sales. The cover on the left has created some controversy. People either seem to love it or hate it. But it is intriguing, because the first thing you ask is, what is it? You flip over to the back cover, unless it is an e-reader and you read the blurb. 
 
  In this science fiction novel by Susan Elizabeth Curnow, a clone
created for no other purpose than to serve his ruthless master finds more than
insight into the suicide of his friend and fellow clone when he is sent to the
world of Cavan. 
It may be the answer to all he's ever longed for if he can avoid the
imminent danger of insanity and death--and accept that the land is a sentient
entity he has been chosen to defend once gifted with the alien blood that gains
him so much more than a powerful pair of wings.

Still intrigued? Want to know who that clone is and why the guy on the front has wings? Read on. You open the first para and read:

Splashed with violence, the small ship’s bridge stank of death. Viscous fluid
coated instrument panels, bulkheads, and the deck. In space, blood would have
floated in pearl-like globules. It had never had a chance to reach the filters,
which meant Jon Harvey left his suicide until the last moments.
 In the  hatchway, Carogan paused, observing the disarray. Harvey had been a friend. Now he sat belted in at his console with gaping wounds up his wrists. A combat knife
lay on the deck, as though just dropped.
 Carogan reached out a hand, pushed away the collar of Harvey’s flight suit, and touched the pulse point on his neck. Warmth filtered through the thin fabric of his
gloves.
 “Lieutenant? Your heart rate has increased,” a tinny voice informed him into his earpiece.
 Had it? Harvey’s bloodless face stared back at him. Still, so still, and empty. Would he look like that in death?  Sweat trickled down the side of Carogan’s face inside his suit’s helmet.
Grantham wanted answers. “I have him, sir. He’s  dead.”
 Grantham would already know that. The Terran Population Control Board director had sent Carogan into the ship knowing.

You read and partake of a snippet of the author's voice. Those first couple of paragraphs are all an author has, both with a reader and with a publisher.
A story which opens with the violence of death. But the land is sentient? A clone is sent in to discover what? And why has the damned guy got wings?

*G* Find out. That's why you should read. Discover the world of Cavan and its winged natives, the cavalana and how Steven Carogan got caught up in their lives. The story is about choices; it's about the bad corporate guys who don't care about anything but their profit. It's about the callousness of one man and the courage of another, and about a dying world and how far we might go to save it. It's about a world fighting back.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Voice-Land-Warriors-ebook/dp/B00BOB964A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1364338544&sr=1-1&keywords=susan+elizabeth+curnow




 
 
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Many people have asked me this question. Why publish with a small press when the big names are still out there? Is it because you aren't 'good enough' for the big league? The simple answer is personal choice. Plus, given the latest Simon and Schuster and B & N shemozzle, would I want that kind of heartbreak?
A good agent is still a writer's best friend, because they have the knowledge and connections to place your novel where it belongs. But those are few and far between also. Mainstream publishing sees your novel into a physical bookstore, where people can lay their hands on it and take it home. Via a Small Press, although a few do get into the stores, you mainly purchase by the Internet. Not many Small Presses have much of a marketing or promotion budget. Hey, they are 'small', but there again, even mainstream authors are meant to do a lot of that themselves these days anyway.
You can see where I am going with this?
The main difference is that placement on the shelves, which, let's face it, is invaluable to any author. But lately, the number of fellow authors I've seen disillusioned by being mainstream breaks my heart. Authors who once would have been carefully nurtured are now tossed aside, not just by the houses but by the numbers people. Heartbreaks where a bookstore won't order a certain novel because the last numbers were so low, but then, forgot to place the book on the shelf in the first place so the author could gain numbers? Sound familiar? Of course, there are always the horror stories and always the success stories and balancing them out is indeed a numbers game.
I'll do a write up on Artema Press in the near future, but for now, just let's say I am happy where I am.
How about you? What main advantages and disadvantages do you see in publishing today? Or do you just prefer to go it alone and publish yourself?

 
 
I am calling it that, because having a second book published is not quite the same as the first. There is a terrifying excitement with book one. My first book! OMG everyone will hate it! No! Everyone will love it. I don't care. I care more than...
That schizophrenic conversation with oneself is quite common, I believe. Part of the crazy life of a writer.
I've spoken before about my pathetic ability to promote or 'market', but actually I am learning. Slowly. Hey, I can tweet! Wow, you say, we can all do that, that's nothing. And it isn't that hard. But the people who mainly seem to want to follow me are other writers and, er, are they going to read my book? I doubt it. Although I have tried a couple of odd books I wouldn't have picked up but for tweeting, so who knows?
But going back to book one versus book two. "Games of Adversaries" is still being picked up. I did get the publisher to reduce the price as a promotion for "The Voice of the Land", simply because I want people to read it. An author gets a warm glowy feeling when people read and enjoy their books that has nothing to do with ego but a quiet satisfaction. Which is why I don't always get the buy my book mentality. I get that you want people to read, but why the desperation? It is like rushing around with an armful of books, thrusting them under people's noses and shouting READ THE F*&^%ING THING WILL YOU!
Ah well.
Games and Voice are two very different books. I've already been told that Voice is 'better' and it should be, given I now know how to edit better thanks to my publisher. But Games certainly has its charm and I am proud of it as a debut novel.
So I am still going for that exponential effect. Letting people read and discover and hopefully want more. Because there will be more. I have some more editing to do on 'The Discovering of Demons', book 2 of the Warriors trilogy and set five hundred years down the road, or, I guess, across the stars. There are a few too many pov switches which need straightening out. It is a damned good story though. Sometimes, however, that isn't enough. It has to be an incredibly good story, with incredible characters, and I think Luqa Drendun is that character. Somewhat of an anti-hero, troubled, like many of my 'heroes', but we will see what folk think of him soon enough.
I am just as excited about that third book and the WIP I am writing as I was the first. A quiet excitement and a hope that people will love it as they have the first two.
And just to show I get excited about the smaller things. 117 have entered the Goodreads giveaway for 'The Voice of the Land'. That is so cool.
The day I stop getting excited and passionate about my work is the day i stop.
 
 
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Extremely thought provoking blog post by the writer Myke Cole about what PTSD is, at least for him.

http://mykecole.com/blog/2013/03/what-ptsd-is

It is interesting from my perspective not because Rich had PTSD, although I am sure he did in some degree. Anyone who takes part in a traumatic job is almost guaranteed to have some PTSD, but the thing here in Myke's post moves away from calling it a 'disease', which seemed, lately, to be the thing to do. It is a condition not a disease, even if it does affect part of your brain.
But the phrase which got me most was this one : Because PTSD isn’t a dis­ease, it’s a world view.
And that strikes me on so many levels. The part where I will paraphrase, you can read his actual words - but that sensation of thinking you are safe and then after some 'event' realizing that you will never be safe again. That is what changes you. That relatively simple realization. And I realized, too that in some ways this applies to losing a child. Because it does change your world view.
Someone wrote a tweet earlier asking this - after a person dies someone always says "it really reminds you of what's truly  important" before returning to their same old senseless ways.
And I wrote back and said - it depends on the person. Because Richard's death did change my world view. It changed many people's world view in the realisation that life is bloody short. And the trauma is constantly thinking that it will happen to someone else you love.
This is what so often incapacitates those who truly suffer from PTSD, that constant fear, and to blot out the fear that flashes in your mind you try to come up with alternatives.
Of course there is no 'cure' for PTSD, there never will be, but that isn't to say you can't move past it or perhaps, learn to live with it. While the mind wants to forget; while the most vivid memories might fade, they will always be there. And part of the problem, as I see it, is that society, as usual, wants to give it a label and a box to place it in. And there isn't one.
I tried to address this somewhat in "Games of Adversaries". Society tries to makes us feel guilty when we shouldn't, because some smart alec in a path coat says we shouldn't be this or that. But the point is, while we can follow a set of morals to a certain degree, how we handle that is as individual as we are. You can't put us in a single box and label us.
So the 'cure' for PTSD can never be labelled. Those flashes of memory are a reminder that life is a scary reality and that sometimes we have to do things we'd never contemplate on a bright sunny day in the park, because at its essence, it is survival. The mind's way of saying whoa!
Grief is like that in many ways. Those flashes of what-if. The guilt of, what if I had done or said so and so. The anger of the helplessness of not being able to stop a death. You wake up and think, what if I'd called him that day and said don't go? What if I'd done more for him. What if, what if, what if. A constant litany of what if I could change the world or take his place, bring him back. And like the PTSD of, I wish I hadn't had to do that, but I did, what if I hadn't seen that, you can't change it. All you can do is accept it, and that hurts. It changes your life, your world view and that of those around you.
The thing is, it isn't wrong to feel like that. It only becomes wrong when other people try to foist their own ideals upon you. It is you who has to accept the truth.
People were so kind after Richard died but they kept saying to us - he's at peace now and all I wanted to say back was - how the fuck do you know that? I never did, of course because they only meant well.

 
 
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Really interested in people's reactions to this. If you'd kindly leave a comment, whatever you feel, I'd appreciate it.
First chapter of "Vicadia"




Chapter One


In the days before humans even knew how to articulate a sensible word,  another people evolved, grew, reached a peak, fell and rose again, their society not limited to a world but worlds. Time, to them, was fluid and bodies interchangeable. They crossed the Universe, they did what humans now want to do,  but inevitably, they became bored.

 A castle spins on a central axis as it gains power and momentum. From the world’s core it draws strength, seeking pathways across the Universe. When its operator finds what he wants, the castle slows and becomes what people have always thought, a tumbledown ruin of an eight-sided fortress.

 Below, within a cavern, a seeker watches on a crystal screen. He needs two beings to play his game and to win the safety of the world he has created. One resides on Sele, the world he has carefully crafted, the other on Earth, a rival’s design.

 On Sele, an island sinks beneath the waves, its people irrevocably changed. On Earth, a vehicle slides on ice before plunging through a frozen river. On Sele, thousands of souls transform so one can be manipulated. On Earth, a woman clings to existence by a mere thread in the weft of life.

 Vicadia draws the threads parallel and for a nano-second they touch and connect.



 The Mazda hit ice. Carter cursed, fought for control, lost it in kaleidoscope swirls, and the vehicle hurtled down a steep bank, jamming me against seat and headrest. Terror clutched at my heart, breath refused to come and let out my screams. Stillness as the car stopped, engine running, headlights shining on pristine snow. Relief caught laughter until I realized where we’d ended up. The Coldwater River. Confirming my fears, ice cracked loud as a pistol shot. Carter released his seat belt. The button on mine refused to work despite my frantic efforts. Carter opened his door, got out the car, then bent to peer back in.

 “Goodbye Tori,” he said.

 I flinched as the car door slammed and he disappeared into the night. My heart pounded with sick fear. Things hadn’t been going well, no, but…. Perhaps he went for help? The mountains stopped cell signals here often enough. I deluded myself.

 A crack echoed, then another. If I waited the car could crash through the ice and I had no idea how deep the water was here.

 Carter had left.

 And you are sitting here like a dumbass? Carter’s favorite name for me lately. Perhaps he was right. I yanked at the belt, depressing the button over and over. Carter had meant to take it into a garage, get the thing fixed, but he never had. The car lurched, pointing its nose skyward, before it plunged through ice into water. The belt came free to my screams.

The door wouldn’t budge. I argued with the lock--stuck tight--needed something to break the windscreen. In the dark, fumbled for the glove compartment, rooted around until I found the multi-tool, took it out, cutting fingers on knives and saws and God knew what else. I didn’t care as I smashed the tool against the screen. Too dark to see if it cracked. Smashed again. Tears. Of terror, of anger, of frustration. Once more I thumped the screen.

Did something break? I leaned back in the seat, kicking and kicking and kicking, hoarse screams crying my dread, my world shrunk to survival.

 Water rushed in, terrifying, freezing. I took deep, sobbing breaths before it could overwhelm me. Let them out in terror-filled gasps. Took one last gulp of precious air and swam free of the car. Clothes, coats, tried to snag on metal and mirrors, the car tried to drag me with it, like great hands holding me back. I thrashed in darkness not knowing up from down, heart beating wildly enough to burst. I couldn’t reach the
surface. Currents dragged at my clothes, there was no light, my head wanted to
explode. I fought, reaching, reaching… All I had to do was breathe. Part of me
wanted to let go. End the struggle.
 
 For several moments I sank. Why did I even try? In that silence, with only the blood rushing through my ears, I wondered why. I’d wanted out. Out of Carter’s life, too afraid to take that final step, and now someone gave me the chance. I could just let go.

 Yes, give up, a small voice whispered. You know you want to. It was his voice. Carter’s. My husband. Who’d left me to drown.

 Bastard.

 A glimpse of light leant me hope. I stretched for it, lungs protesting. I fought terror rather than give in to that voice.
No. No I won’t die to please you. To make it convenient for you.

 I reached, broke the surface, and fought the hands trying to keep me down. Hit out, screaming. Pain blossomed across one cheek. Even numb with cold it shocked me.

 “Bastard! Bastard, I won’t let you murder  me.”

 “Be calm.”

 Hysteria rose in my throat as I twisted violently away from his grip, clawing at his arms, at the sodden hair blinding me so I could not see where to run.

 It wasn’t Carter.

 Astonishment held me immobile. “What?” I managed, still gasping for breath, for precious air. Nausea rose and I vomited forever until bile stung my throat. Sitting on my heels I stared with glazed eyes at the sand I tossed to cover the mess before I could heave again. Sand.

 I twisted and stared up at my rescuer. No one I knew. Wet as me. Carter was dark-haired and eyed. This guy had white-blond hair to his waist and the most vivid blue eyes I’d ever seen. He wore black salt-stained leathers and had beads in his hair.

 Yet it wasn’t him who held my attention but the ocean thrashing behind him and the brilliant sunshine pouring down.

 It was that sight which held me when I should have run. I had to be dead. This was some kind of afterlife. This guy must be an angel.  I breathed, just breathed for
several minutes, but when I looked up nothing changed. Gulls still cried, the sea washed back and forth. I wasn’t in Canada any more.

 “Where?” I gasped.

 The guy turned from his contemplation of the ocean and looked down at me. I met his vivid turquoise gaze for only a moment, and fell…

 
I saw—a life disappear in a giant whirlpool. No metaphorical lie but the truth; a great magic that had been beyond twenty thousand anai to prevent. I saw/felt/heard that dance upon the waves, the waves that had flung him free. He trod water looking for his people. Not even detritus joined his dance. Gulls cried overhead, which meant the shore was close. Currents pulled at his body. He let them take him, bewildered, angry, heartbroken. His mind refused to encompass the panic of a whole island spinning, of it sinking beneath giant walls of water. No mind could embrace such an act. Now he resonated with cries and the grinding groans of a dying land
.
 Something, just a glimpse, but something bobbed in the waves as he did. Hope rushed in as he swam. Someone else had survived. Joy flooded him, until he reached her, saw her dark, dark hair and knew she was human. She fought him though she looked half-drowned; fought him all the way to a beach, screaming obscenities at him.

 “Be calm,” he said, and finally she did, although angry lines of terror and hatred marked her face. Then she looked beyond him, sank to her knees and vomited in the
sand.

 I vomited again, caught in someone else’s thoughts. His thoughts. The guy I’d thought an angel. I thought my own misery was justified until I saw that. What the hell was this place? He didn’t attempt to help me, his face pale as milk.

 “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t…mean you to see that.”

 Somehow I sat up and wrapped my arms around my knees. I needed to stop shaking. I needed to think without anyone else’s thoughts intruding into my mind.

 “What the hell? What the hell happened? What was that?” My throat raw from vomiting, it came out as a croak.

 He stared back at the ocean again. “I don’t know,” he whispered.

 I felt as he opened his mind. Heard the call he sent. Felt his hope as just for a moment a flicker of life shimmied through, but the feeling passed as quickly as it arrived, flitting away like a fish scale caught in a sunbeam. Deep within the ocean he sensed one of his people, an anai, before it disappeared.

 Tears fled down my cheeks. “Please,” I wept. “Please stop that.”

 “You shouldn’t be able to hear me,” he said. “You are human.”

 Which meant he was not. Anai, it had come through the thoughts/images/intimacy blasted into my brain. Of course he wasn’t human, not if he could do that. I shook more, terrified of the idea of someone in my mind, as though I no longer had any control. Dizzy, disorientated I wished in some ways I had truly drowned.

 “Do you?”

 My stomach wanted to upend yet again. Somehow I swallowed, somehow I hung on and spoke. “What is this place?”

 “This land is called Fresovay, I believe.”

 “You believe?"

 He lifted an arm, pointed out to the sea. “My island was called Amnaem and was owned by the anai. This place is human and I do not belong. I should not be here.”

 But we are. Why? How could I go from drowning in a river in Canada in freezing conditions to this balmy seashore?

 “Because someone wished us here. Do you feel it?”

 All I felt was panic. I pushed the hysteria down as far as I could. What was I supposed to feel? That I’d gone insane? I deleted that thought because it was just too scary on top of everything else. I tried to breathe calmly, to stop the irrational feelings rushing through me. I was alive, at least I thought I was, and if I thought too deeply I would go mad.

 Then I did feel it. Like a string attached to my middle, tugging. I opened the eyes I’d closed to shut out the insanity and in the distance I could see a mountain range.

 “What do you see?” he asked.

 “A castle,” I murmured. “Mountains, trees, a castle, and fire.”

 “Fire?”

 “Yes, deep within the castle, or perhaps below it.”

 “Do you sense danger?”

 I shivered. “Not danger. Need. It needs us as much as we need  it. What am I saying?”




 
Vicadia watches on his screen. Phase one is completed. Two people from two different worlds are drawn together. Events have collided, actions begun and
numbers spinning. He sits back to wait.

 On another world, another creation, another screen, Xihatl senses the bringing together of threads. She searches for knots in the weave and finds them and who causes them. For a moment her fingers hover, then a smile forms on her features. Numbers appear on the screen, random numbers. She watches for a long time and then blinks. The numbers stop.


 We talked, because on that lonely shore there was just we two and the birds crying to one another like lost souls.

“What is your name?” he asked and while I wondered if he already knew, I said it out loud. “Tori Hughes.”

 I already knew his. I’d been inside his mind as he’d been in mine. Sarain Kelistir. An exotic name for an exotic location. I told him where I came from and watched his eyes widen as I spoke of cars and planes and the Internet, and electricity, and then I listened as he spoke of  magic.

 Islands, even in a world with magic, do not spin. Falling through a crack in the ice should not bring a person out in another world, but both events happened. There was a tenuous link between us that somehow calmed me enough to function. 

 Magic, although he didn’t call it that. It was just how I interpreted it, because I had no other label to give it. But I didn’t truly understand, not then. I don’t think I was capable of absorbing anything at that moment. I worked on automatic; survival instinct, I guess, shutting out what I couldn’t handle for later.

 As the surf thrashed the shore, kissing the sand and retreating like a shy maiden, I studied the man sitting opposite me in the sand. His tale of his island’s destruction made him seem quite human. He told me, and I am not sure why, that he’d lost his wife in a freak accident even before Amnaem’s sinking.

 Tragedy ringed his eyes, sorrow laced his voice. While losing a husband in my case might be a blessing in disguise, ending up in this place made me wonder if Carter had been right all along and that there was something deeply utterly wrong with me.

 Another world? Sarain had called it Sele. Nah, I’m not  listening.

 Because that was all too much. Part of me, should I choose to believe, should be screaming; the part that should have made me into a jelly-wreck curled up in a fetal heap on the sand. Instead, I took a deep breath, flipped my hair from my eyes, and tried to attack the problem at hand.

 “I don’t see fire. I see power,” Sarain said. “Perhaps we should go to this castle?”

 “What if it is a trap?”

 He hesitated before answering, drawing weird interconnected spirals in the sand, and then he said, “Does it matter if it is? What do we have to lose?”

 Point. Plus, hunger and thirst was a factor, and while the sea might offer up its bounties, there was no fresh water. If there had been hotels lining the beach, if I’d even heard a plane flying overhead, if I could have recognized anything, I would not
have gone with him. If I could have made any sense of this situation at all I would have run far and fast.

 We began to walk across the sand. As the tide pulled back, so it left treasures in its wake. A fisherman’s glass float tangled in netting bobbed as waves receded and left it behind. Sarain hunkered down beside it. Caught in the same netting was a piece of stone. He lifted the stone and brushed damp sand from its blue and yellow chequered
surface.

 “What is it?”

 “A sisean board. As far as I know, humans don’t play the game.”

 He looked around and climbed to his feet, movements lithe as a panther's. Here he found a carved piece of wood, there a child’s toy, and in another place, scraps of brilliantly hued cloth. He turned over pungent streamers of glistening, leather-brown seaweed to reveal the knotted pieces of a loom, where a rug hung half woven, the shuttle still stuck between the wefts. Pottery and broken glass gleamed like stars along the wave-formed sand, and a small chest banded in copper revealed a fortune in silver coins.

 “From your island?” I asked. The sadness on his face brought tears to my eyes. What might have been a treasure trove of delight were only the sad remnants of a people.

 “Yes.”

 But a thought occurred to me. “No bodies.”

 He turned, staring at me. “What?”

 “There aren’t any bodies, Sarain. If they were all dead, surely there would be bodies?”

 His eyes fathomless, he stared at the coins in his hand. “I have called but they do not answer. They may not be dead but they will never be the same. If they have become as the creatures of the sea to save themselves, it maybe they will never find their way back.”

 “I don’t understand.”

 “No, I suppose you wouldn’t.”

 I hoped he didn’t mean to be hurtful so I said nothing as he absently pocketed some
silver.

 We reached a border of dunes and slip-slided over their humps until we came to feathery wind-torn shrubs and beyond them to some fields. Sarain stopped to lean against a silvered fence rail.

 “There is something in you I can sense but don’t understand. It isn’t magic as I
understand it. In your world, from what you have told me, magic seems formed by
things rather than coming from the land.”

 I shrugged. “I guess.”

 “The anai are not human and humans on this world hate us for that.”

 “Why?”

 “Because we are beyond their control.”

 I scragged back my hair and leaned an elbow on the fence.  “Sounds pretty typical, actually. Why tell me now?”

 “Beyond the hills I can sense a village. They will recognize me for what I am. I need to change.”

 Without thinking, I said, “I’ll look the other way.”

 A smile hovered on his lips, the first I’d seen. So far he’d been such a solemn, sad man. I guessed he wasn’t much older than me at twenty-five. That slight smile transformed him, but then he sighed and straightened away from the fence. “Anai are shapechangers. Do you understand what that is?”

 I mouthed the word and stared, my heart tripping as images of werewolves and monsters conjured themselves into my mind. “Changing into what exactly?” I asked past the sudden fist blocking my throat.

 “The most practical creature would be a horse right now. Can you ride?”

 A horse. He could change into a horse? I could ride, very well as happened, but that was hardly the point. He didn’t give me time to speculate. Where Sarain stood, the air began to ripple so that he wavered like a mirage. Undulating waves that made me feel ill. I couldn’t just see, I could feel a whole change in the air surrounding him, as
though he bent it to his will. Desperate to understand, I tried to watch, but before I could focus on anything solid, a horse appeared before me. A black horse with a white mane and tail. It had beads in its mane, just like Sarain had in his hair. His hide was salt stained.

 I swallowed hard so I didn’t throw up again, while my mind ran on ten different levels, none of them normal. My legs refused to move. Why couldn’t I be dramatic and faint? I wanted to as blood rushed through my ears. Instead I sank to my knees.

 You are stronger than that.

 His voice in my mind. “I can’t do this. I can’t.”

 
Yes you can. Be brave, Tori. Your husband was a  fool.

 “No, he was right. I’m pathetic.”

 Anger laced the words bouncing in my skull.
You preface most of your thoughts with his name. Did he control you so well?

 For two years, everything Carter wanted he’d got and the one time I’d refused he’d hit me. That didn’t give a stranger the right to judge me. My life may have been spent placating one man to avoid conflict, but it didn’t help to be told by some jumped up shapechanging monster what I already knew.

 Tears I barely acknowledged falling dried and I sniffed, thinking about his island and the loss of his wife. “How can you go on?”

 Because we need answers. You are not what your husband made you. A man who would hurt a woman is less than a coward, too afraid to face himself. It was his weakness, his fury at himself that he could not control.

 He’d got that from two minutes inside my head? I didn’t like that at all. “How could
you know that? How could you know what I did or what he did, or that I am not as
pathetic as he said?”

 Because anai see beyond the surface to the true heart of what lies beneath. You aren’t pathetic, Tori. You survived, didn’t you, and you will survive whatever faces us ahead. I know it. I can sense the strength within you. Now, you will ride me as though you were born to it.

 Whatever the pep talk my knees shook as I climbed to my feet. My head ached from his intrusions. My situation couldn’t get more bizarre than this. I looked west, toward the mountains before I grasped a handful of mane and pulled myself onto his back. The tug I’d felt earlier returned. Maybe I was wrong; maybe it could get more bizarre. That castle felt alive.


 
 





 
 
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Too tired to think of a post this morning, and I have to work - booo, just when the hindbrain is plotting the next book. Ah well, such is life. So a link which might amuse both writers and readers. Written by the inimitable Chuck Wendig so not safe for children. In between the 'ripe' language is some very good advice. I will be thinking about the princess and the moon horse for a while, not to mention the Arthur reference.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/03/19/25-turns-pivots-and-twists-to-complicate-your-story/

Some trivia along with today's photo is the basis for my tattoo. For those who don't know, the raven represents Cornwall and 'curnow' means 'cornwall'. Plus, the day Rich disappeared a raven turned up and would not shut up. Obviously a messenger, so has some deeper significance for me. On my tattoo I had an 'R' drawn on the bird's wings in remembrance of Rich and for me, the celtic knotted tail are 3 loops for 3 sons. It is actually a kilt pin, which is extremely neat.

 

Musings

03/18/2013

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I guess a writer never stops writing, whether that is in their heads or actually  putting the words down. Usually when I hit a stumbling block it is because I haven't thought the plot all the way through and my brain immediately says -  meandering, not focused, so I stop and reassess. This time when I stumbled I sat  down and wrote out most of the plot again and my block, if you like - I don't  actually believe in writer's block - was the complexity of it and the usual  writer's doubts and wails of 'I can't do this, it's too damned difficult'. Then one tends to have a psychotic conversation with oneself which tends to go - you thought up the damned thing, so of course you can write it. So on and so  forth.

But I did have a serious think about it last night and I realized, in my usual fashion, that it wasn't a case of can't but that I was rushing the thing. While 30k isn't even halfway, I probably should have written another 30k around that first 30k for it to make sense to a reader. Yes, it is first draft and doesn't 'matter' but in a way it does, because I am missing chunks that should, according to me, be in the story.
That's partly *because* I hadn't thought it all the way through. But then, the damned characters hadn't revealed themselves to me properly. So I'll blame them.

Now the vision I have to write out is of a completely different priest to the one I had. Because, of course, there is more than one. I know that makes sense only to me, but there you go. Writer's brain and all that.

I was talking to my BFF on Sunday and she said in her BFF fashion, so where did you get off being so damned smart. What the heck is a Fibonacci number anyway? To which I laughed and said, Google is my friend. Although I did know about Fibonacci because, well, I'd read about him a long time ago in another novel... Surprising what you learn when you don't even
mean to.