Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Living vicariously through my fictional characters...

I'm having a lot of fun with my newest project :)   It's based off a flash I wrote years ago that always stayed with me.  The original can be read here if you're interested:  A Summer's Day

Wow - I just realize it was three years ago to the day I published that one.  Eerie.  It's not in first person anymore and the MC had a name change, but the rest is serving as the first chapter *g*

Had to write a scene the other day in which a girl who was terrified of horses, had to ride.  Was an interesting challenge :)   But then it led to getting to write this one, after she thoroughly showed them all *g*

She looked to Marcus whose eyes were following the no longer visible dragon.  She waited until he turned his attention to her before smiling and shrugging one shoulder casually.  “Well?” she asked.

“Your highness,” he knelt before her, one hand at his chest, head bowed, entire body radiating sincerity.  Lissa thought back to how he’d dismissed her in their second meeting.  How very far they’d come.  But she was a lot less comfortable with his subjection than she had been with his disdain.

“Get up Marcus,” she said.  She had to work to keep her tone soft.  “I’m still the same girl who can’t ride a horse.”

He met her eyes and his look contained both awe and humour.  “You fly on the back of a dragon with more ease and skill than the best horsemen have ever demonstrated.  I don’t think you need to worry about riding a horse.”

Well, it amused me anyways :)   I *think* this story's about half way written, and I'm pretty excited about it.  But I really don't know.  Slowing down significantly with show season hitting.  The print copy of my book is just about ready to be resubmitted!  Tomorrow, if I get the barn done in a reasonable amount of time :)  Yeah!

Speaking of show season, my girls were *amazing* at Glen Oro this weekend!  What an awesome start to the season :)  It'll get its own blog post on the GRS blog, probably tomorrow :)

Tired, headachy, and so very unproductive today.  Teaching I couldn't seem to get any words to come out in the right order.  Just not the best of days.  Blah.  And I *really* miss riding my horse.   Bruise is evident on her hoof now, so at least we know what we're dealing with.  But probably another couple weeks realistically. Boo on that.  Also writing this post and rereading old stuff because I'm not thinking clearly enough to write anything new.  Blah.

Oh well - maybe I'll try actually going to sleep at a reasonable hour and see how that works out :)   Or I could write one of the three or four blog posts waiting to be written *g*  Night!

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone - Walsch

So today I entered an alternate reality. It started with me driving through McDonald's for hot chocolate this am and finding a farmer's market. Seriously. In Oakville. For those who've not had the pleasure, Oakville is the epitome of suburban yuppie-ville. I can say that with the prerogative of one who grew up here >;-P Review my post about pilates class if you have any doubts *g*

So a farmer's market appearing was disconcerting to say the least. Not a bad thing, just a surprise.

Anyways - armed with hot chocolate, I set out on the highway daydreaming and rockin' out all the way.  Turns out I *never* take that particular highway and was enjoying it a whole lot more than my usual highway drives.  I particularly enjoyed the graffiti on the overpasses (no I'm actually not kidding - was friendly, cheerful, Canadian graffiti.  The first one said "Don't worry."  The next one?  You guessed it: "Be happy." :)

Classic Canadian Graffiti
When I got off the highway I was following directions and every time my lane disappeared and would've been really awkward, it turned out I was supposed to exit where my lane ended.  Happened three times.  Very cool.  Somewhat surreal, but very cool.

And then I found where ferris wheels go to die.  Seriously.  Let's have a moment of silence.

Hauntingly eerie
But eventually I made it where I was going.  So, ummmm what exactly was I up to?

Well you see, several weeks ago I saw a video on Facebook that one of my friends posted of her learning to fight with medieval-esque armour and weapons.  So I asked her about it.  Well she's actively involved with the Society for Creative Anachronism, and she invited me to come see what it was about.

Okay - stay with me here.  First - to put in perspective how welcoming this was of her -- this is a girl I went to high school with, that I haven't seen since then.  And yet she totally encouraged me to come and even offered me clothes :)  Since it's not the first time connecting with a high school friend via Facebook has led to good things, I was reasonably okay with that concept.  Pretty cool of her though -- she doesn't know me any more than I know her; I could've really ruined her day.  Although I hope I didn't! :)

Lend me a dress...  Hmmmm.  I both read and write copious amounts of fantasy, but in reality I'm pretty firmly grounded.  Even my XC colours are pretty tame.  And while I absolutely love getting dressed up for formal events; it almost never happens these days.  So I actually can't remember the last time I wore a dress and it's been even longer since I wore any sort of costume for anything.  And if I remembered correctly from high school, B was taller than I.  I'd feel really horrible if she loaned me a dress and it dragged on the ground all day!

I've heard of SCA before -- could hardly get through a degree in medieval lit without it. But I've never been to an event or had anything to do with it.  And I have to admit, it's far enough outside my comfort zone that I was somewhat nervous about going.  I have no problem galloping a four-year-old mostly unbroke TB at solid obstacles but dress up and socialize with a large group of people I don't know in an unfamiliar environment?  Yeah, not so high on my priority list.

But...  You're not new here :)   You see "I got up, went to work, came home" just doesn't make for entertaining blog posts.  Well, it my world sometimes it does, but you know what I mean *g*   Basically though, I approach most things with a general "it might be fun, try anything once" attitude.  And once I'd decided, the nerves balanced with excitement and tbh, a fair degree of disbelief.  Even *I* couldn't picture me doing this.

The time and place were set -- I had a cell number and we arranged where to meet.  Before I left that am, I even made an effort to do up my hair all medieval *g*   And by that I mean, two thin braids holding the rest of my hair back.  hahaha but it looked acceptable and didn't involve a scruchy or a headband so I figure it was a reasonable effort.

When I pulled into the parking lot I took a few minutes to check in with the girls covering for me at the barn (thanks Amy and Ashley!  You women are awesome!).  While I did, I saw numerous people coming and going -- all entirely decked out.  Oh dear.  Nerves returned in serious force.  But really, what can you do at that point?  Take a deep breath and walk in.

B was right at the entrance, so that was no problem.  She had two dresses I could pick from and one top that would be worn over jeans -- potentially I'm not the first nervous newbie she's introduced to her hobby :)  But go hard or go home right?  I picked a dress and with the aid of a strategically placed belt was able to keep it from dragging on the ground.  Looking around, I was glad I'd vanished the scrunchy -- all the other women either had their hair done up or covered.

Now most of the time fitting in is pretty low on my priority list, but when I'm completely out of my element, the chameleon factor can provide some false confidence *g*   It didn't help that I'd apparently randomly turned into a clutz too.  So uncoordinated.  Which is not particularly like me, so I wasn't thrilled at that development.  And even when I was dressed in a way that blended with the rest of the crowd, either it's a really close-knit group or my tension still showed because everybody knew I was new *g*

Have to add - I *want* a cape like this next winter.
Everybody was super welcoming though.  They patiently answered my million and eight questions and tolerated my camera-happy tendencies.  The tournament was intense -- I don't know what I was expecting, but the reality was stronger and faster than anything I'd expected.  Chatted with the unofficial official photographer, A, for a while and got an idea for where I could and couldn't go and how/where to be out of the way :)   Felt a lot more comfortable when I knew how not to disturb things *g*

My fav battle shot of the day

Midday we had lunch which was cheap, super tasty, and a huge portion.  Really worth the drive just for that *g*  Snagged it and sat out side watching the tournament while we ate.  Everybody brought their own wooden dishes and utensils.

So I'd been watching the archery on and off all day, but B hadn't brought her stuff and I didn't feel up to just going up to ask if I could play *g*  But then I was talking to another person who said they'd tried it for the first time ever today, which I was definitely jealous of, but it also led me to believe this might be a possibility :)  B had introduced me to somebody earlier and I was chatting with him when his wife mentioned she was going to do some shooting, so I put on my big girl panties and asked her if I could come watch :)

Fortunately for me, instead of being particularly repulsed by being stuck with an impudent visitor who just invited herself along, she seemed eager to share her hobby.  We chatted on the way to the range and then she introduced me to one of the men managing it, who set me up with a loaner bow and arrows, gave me the run down on the range rules, and a lesson on archery 101.

O.M.G. So. Much. Fun!  hahahaha oh dear.  I definitely spent most of the rest of the day shooting.  hahahha I wandered back to the tournament every so often -- especially when they switched weapons or when the only person I'd met who was competing was fighting (he made it to the 2nd-last round).  But I kept getting drawn back.  Ridiculously addictive.  It was crazy windy, but my arrows were almost always straight -- makes me wonder if I'm actually way crooked *g*   I had a hard time judging height -- over and undershot the target a lot *sigh*  Although have to admit I was always amused when it went past the target -- even though that's technically not the goal >;-P   But I was pretty good about steering -- they were almost always centered.  Just not always at the target.  hahaha minor detail.

Note the grin the first time I hit the target :)
But wow -- if I could *find* a bow and arrow, I could so see setting up a random hay bale target in a field somewhere.  It was the most frustrating and yet satisfying challenge.  But I can already feel my shoulders...  XC schooling a greenbean at nine am tomorrow may prove entertaining.  But that'll be it's own post :)

Huge thanks to B and all her SCA friends for a highly entertaining day :)   Greatly appreciated!

"You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write." ― Saul Bellow

YEAH!!!!  It's real!  My book is real!  Like I can hold it in my hand, real. You have no idea how excited I am about this.  Omg.

hahaha yeah, I'm pretty excited :)

Ebooks are available now, hard copy after I finish proofing and sign off -- probably another week or two.  Pretty stoked that I can type my name into Amazon or Chapters and have it pop up.

And when I posted it on Facebook, the response was amazingly supportive!  Wow.  I'm a little overwhelmed by that.  It's almost as heartening as all the people who showed up for our spring work party -- I almost don't even know how to respond.  Thanks seems insufficient.  Amazing.

So anyways -- I have it sitting next to me.  Am totally thrilled with how it looks.  LOVE the cover.  So yeah, all-round excited.

Of course since launching it last night I've found half a dozen typos *sigh*  But one of the advantages of e-books is that you can update with fixes :)  And by the time the print one is out in a couple weeks, it should be set!

It's been an interesting experience.   Writing it, well...  The first chapter was my second ever Friday Flash and it kinda went from there.  I learned really quickly that if the story comes to me and I write it down when it does (there's a reason there's a pen and paper next to my bed!) it'll flow well and not need too much help.  If I try to "make something up"?  Less good.  Where said story comes from -- I have no idea.  Just sometimes the characters tell me what's up and other times they don't.

Anyways -- eventually it was written, in large part due to nanowrimo a few years back.  Then it was ignored.  And I started a new business.  And it was ignored some more.  And every once in a while I thought of it, but mostly...  Well...  It was ignored.

But then I randomly decided it was time to do something with it.  So I pulled it up and reread it and was rather appalled.  hahaha but I fixed it and got a few people to read it and fixed it some more.  And then it was time to find an editor.  Somewhere along the way I'd become facebook friends with another author (India Drummond) who's been quite successful but also seems very willing to help out the newbies of the world.  She connected me with an article she'd written on finding an editor and, more than that, gave me contact info for hers :)

I did a fair amount of research, talked to several editors, got samples from a few.  One I had high hopes for really didn't end up working for me at all.  And in the end, went with Susan Gottfried -- who India had previously recommended :)   And this was the really fun part of the experience.  Because it turns out, I've never had any actual writing instruction.  All the writing I've ever had critiqued has been academic; I can write a really solid academic paper.  Turns out academic and fantasy don't bled well *g*

Not once in uni did I take any form of creative writing, and when I started this project I wasn't really connected with any other writers online I could bounce things off of.   Susan went all out on my manuscript and I learned so much from her.  But even more impressively, not only did she gently -- and sometimes not so gently >;-P; I swear I could see her eyes roll from the other side of cyberspace -- critique the work and offer suggestions on how to fix it, but she did it in such a way that *I* rewrote it.   She didn't take it over or re-write it for me or insist it had to be a certain way (as was occurring with the first person), but instead would tell me what the issue was and leave me to my own devices on how to fix it.  Or occasionally "How about X?" where X would be something so simply brilliant it made me wonder how I didn't see it in the first place.

Anyways -- suffice to say it significantly tightened up my writing and turned it into something I could be proud of.  I also find I hear her voice (ummm the one I made up of course since we've never actually spoken) in my head as I'm writing now.  "Show don't tell" is a favourite.  And "Just use 'said'" hahaha oh dear.  Looking forward to the next level of help whenever I send her my next project.  I'm pretty sure she's also taking new clients at the moment, so if you need an editor -- give her a shout.  She's great with newbies :)

So then I had a book to work with.  Or rather, a stack of papers with writing on them.  Well if you have a book, you need a cover.  Ummm right - remember any artistic ability I have comes in the form of words...  Creating a cover?  WAY beyond me.  But there's a fantasy artist I've been following on Facebook for a long time -- Claudia McKinney.  So I contacted her and sure enough before too long I had a cover.  And I LOVED it.

BUT...  It had no text.  So Claudia put me in touch with Ashley who for typography and soon I had a cover!

Then it was on to learning how to format for various ebooks, more proofing, getting a print copy (still proofing that), learning about US tax numbers, signing a variety of contracts, and all sorts of fun.   I'm quickly seeing why so many authors are going to ebooks only -- significantly better royalties :)  Which of course makes logical sense but there's still something about actually being able to hold a book in your hand.  So I'm doing both :)

But finally, the end result, is up!  Woohoo!!!  And I gotta say, the whole journey has been *amazing* and I've met -- well online met -- so many incredible and totally supportive people as a result...

This whole post could actually be summarized in one word:


Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -- Groucho Marx

Really wasn't interested in going to agility class today -- tried and distracted with other things.  But Sash really likes it and I've paid for the lessons, so at the last second I got my butt in gear and got us to class (only like 5 min late -- oops!)

Sooo glad I went though.  What a blast.  The first half of the class was skills.  Sasha picked up one we've never tried before on about the third try -- super-smart puppy!  It's so fun to watch her figure stuff out, and she gets soooo proud of herself, trotting around with her frisbee *g*   Then she did all the weave poles with only one wire on!   Woohoo!  She seems to quite like those -- if I'm not paying attention she'll randomly go wander through them or over the dogwalk.  hahaha   The teeter-totter otoh is still a little scary, but she's doing it now.  Just still nervous about it.  More practice needed!  Sadly I lack a teeter-totter at the barn *sigh*  Ah well.

Then the second half of the class was course running -- and it was almost all jumps, which Sasha loves.  So always highly entertaining.  Esp now that she's jumping them at height (they seem huge to me since she can easily walk under them, but she doesn't seem to care).  Had a great lightbulb moment in handling for this one which'll hopefully make us a little more successful *g*   She's super-eager but sometimes her enthusiasm and speed outdistance my handling abilities *g*   Hahaha ah well, we'll get our act together some day.

First draft of new book is done!  Woohoo!  Now to convince myself to ignore it for a couple weeks before looking at it again.  hahaha we'll see.

Other book...  So very close!   Look for official launch soon!  Super stoked about that!