Sunday 30 June 2019

Melinda's Challenge

My stories aren't about problems. I prefer the term challenges. Even then, my books are not about challenges. They're about characters who have challenges.
In The Ghost Collector, Melinda chooses her challenge rather than having it forced upon her. After getting in disgrace at home, Melinda elects to go to stay with her great-aunt and her three feckless uncles who are planning to open a haunted guesthouse. Melinda thinks poorly of their single ghost, a miserable type named Duncan, so she takes up the challenge to discover more ghosts and transplant them into the guesthouse before the Society for Accuracy in Advertising comes to close them down.

Saturday 29 June 2019

Tell Clancy's Challenge

My stories aren't about problems. I prefer the term challenges. Even then, my books are not about challenges. They're about characters who have challenges.

In Trinity Street, Tell Clancy has multiple challenges. An odd young man is stalking her best friend Camena. Tell has to decide if he is really a problem, or if she's just being possessive. Worse still, an explosion catapults her into a strange, empty world where she has to face the unfaceable...Camena has been marked for death. Her fate, if she goes home, is worse. The final challenge is to find a way to live with her new reality.

Friday 28 June 2019

Pearl's challenge

My stories aren't about problems. I prefer the term challenges. Even then, my books are not about challenges. They're about characters who have challenges.

In the first of the Pearl the Magical Unicorn series, Pearl the unicorn has a challenge to face.
She can do magic, but she can't easily control it. That's not the challenge. The challenge is this:
Should she continue to do magic in a hit-or-miss fashion, or should she give it up? The further challenge is; if she gives it up, will she still be her?

Thursday 27 June 2019

Problems vs Challenges

Problems... Fiction is predicated on problems. Only I, being perverse, like to think of the word being challenges. I think this is because I grew up in the 1960s when The Problem Novel became a Thing. I didn't like that thing. (Still don't.) I wanted stories about people and ideas, not problems. People with problems... fine but the characters and story had to come first.

Okay, so my stories have challenges for the characters. I'm going to look at the challenges faced by characters in some of my books... starting tomorrow.

Wednesday 26 June 2019

The Treadwells

Members of the Treadwell family have appeared in a few of my books; namely The Kissing Ring, Tied Up in Tinsel, Christmas Eve, and  Counterpoint Questions. They are a hob family who act as gatekeepers for the castle bridge/terrace gateway which links the courtlands with a courtyard in Sydney.  They've been doing this job for over a century, and share their time between the terrace house and their various homes over there.

In the 1980s, several family members were around, but only one is referred to in particular; Mistress Treadwell, from whom Mal and LeeLee Grene obtained a courting cake as a gift for their cousin Ryl and her intended, Tom. The Treadwells at that point are well known in the fay community, not only as gate-keepers, but also because several of them have a troll manifest.

Three decades later, the incumbent keeper is Mistress Joan Treadwell, a hob maid in late middle age. She is married to a distant cousin, allowing her to retain the family name and also to reinforce the troll manifestation. Mistress Joan is probably not the same person Mal and LeeLee knew. She has an odd sense of humour and uses a gargoyle door knocker. She and her husband are the only permanent incumbents of the terrace because she lets two floors of the building to selected guests, including Sarah Fleming and Chas Dark and their son George. When Sarah marries Ajay Kahn, Chas and George still take the holiday let. At that time Mistress Joan and her husband are over there with their daughter, who has just had a baby.

A year or so later, Mistress Joan is back at her post when Eve Adeste comes through the gateway on Christmas Eve. She's in fine form, complete with green skin and tusks, because she feels especially trollie. As she tells Eve, her daughter Steffi has had a baby boy, trollie born, a matter of great pleasure and pride to Joan.

In The Pixie Grip, set in the 1950s and 1960s, the keeper was Mistress Dara Treadwell, a young woman of twenty-one. Dara is blonde and pretty, with a bouffant hairstyle, tight slacks and a sweater. She's a kind young woman, who smells of pancakes. She facilitates Peter Grene's romance with Gentian Hillyard, allowing them to take one of the top rooms of the terrace for a while. Dara has been to university and is well-versed in life both sides of the gateway. She sometimes goes to the Pear Tree. She's practical and philosophical by nature. As she tells Peter Grene, sacrifices have to be made. She'd quite like to go travelling with her university friends, but she feels an obligation to the gateway.  She also feels an obligation to her bloodline, and is promised to her second cousin Arthur, as he is the male closest in age to her who also satisfies the bloodline requirement of no more than two from eight. Arthur is almost sixteen, and has always regarded Dara as his girl. He's another reason Dara won't go away for an extended period. As she says, she won't leave Arthur to fret and she also can't take him along as if he was a pet cat.  It's 1962, after all. Dara expected to leave any courting until Arthur was eighteen, but he has other ideas, so she agrees to a kissing ring commitment when he's sixteen.

Peter Grene is a bit troubled by this until he meets Arthur Treadwell who is a self-possessed young giant delighted to be shot of his school uniform and already training as a vintner.  Having known Dara all his life, Arthur is completely comfortable with her troll morph, although he doesn't have it himself. 

By 2019, Dara and Arthur would be in their seventies, possibly living at their vineyard over there. Dara undoubtedly got to travel, leaving the terrace and the gate to Joan and her man.


Tuesday 25 June 2019

7/7/7 The Pixie Grip

This is the seventh line of the seventh page of the seventh chapter of THE PIXIE GRIP. 
Peter G has been in the habit of meeting his friend Gentian in a place they call The White Place. They have never met in the real world, and their efforts to find one another have failed. They have just decided not to borrow time any more, and they're saying goodbye until they can really meet. 

“Yes. Until we meet for the first time,” she said. “Hug yourself and—”

Monday 24 June 2019

Word concepts

Is 4 o'clock afternoon or evening? I'd have said afternoon but the photo I took today made me rethink that. It's certainly afternoon in summer at that time...

Sunday 23 June 2019

Object post: Liz Bakewell's Daisies Forever ring

Liz Bakewell’s
Daisies Forever Ring
Source: Joe Bakewell gave it to Liz Sherry, using a one-off charm from his grandfather Portier Grene
Significance: It allowed Joe and Liz to occupy the same room in Mistress Hall’s Hostel
Fate: On Liz’s finger. She’ll never part with it.
Author’s inspiration:  It was inspired by Liz’s daisy hat
Appeared in? The Pixie Grip

He held out the ring he’d taken from his pocket. It was a gold circlet carved with tiny flowers.

When Joe Bakewell met Liz Sherry at the beach in the holiday town of Marram, they found in immediate connection. Both were musical, warm-hearted and affectionate. They could cap one another’s quotes. They were so engrossed in conversation that they nearly got cut off by the tide.
Since they were both heading for the same music festival at Macquarie Bay, they decided to travel together. Liz invited Joe to shower in her room at Clarice Hall’s hostel while she packed for the trip to Music at Macquarie.  
Maybe Joe could get a room at the hostel? Since Joe’s budget was more attuned to camping out, they came up with a compromise. It was 1962, so male roommates were out…but maybe a fiancé could slide in under Mrs Hall’s kindly radar.
Joe produced the daisy ring and the deed was done.
When their golden wedding rolled around in 2012, Joe made his annual offer to update the daisy ring to something more sober and more in keeping with Liz’s status as a niche-famous folk singer, grandmother and the wife of a semi-retired mathematics tutor. Liz responded by singing him a folksong in middle English the burden of which went something like this… Nay, sayeth thatte womynge.

Saturday 22 June 2019


I was sitting in the living room looking for inspiration and I spotted the wheelbarrow with wood in it. STANLEY. I've seen this wheelbarrow countless times, with and without wood, weeds and other wheelbarrowy stuff. Have I ever noted the name before? Maybe. It didn't stick.
So, STANLEY.  Say that in isolation, and to me a wheelbarrow isn't even close to the same association.

Stanley -knife
Stanley - town in NW Tasmania
Stanley - the arts festival that used to be there
Stanley - Baker, the actor
Stanley - Flat Stanley, an old book
My great uncle's name was Stanley, but everyone called him Stan, so he wasn't first on the list
Stanley - and Livingstone, from history lessons

These are my associations with the name/word STANLEY. I'm sure you have others (and maybe some of the same). We are all the sum of our associations, and that's one way I think of my book characters. Major characters have dozens of associations for me, but minor ones have just one or a few... Living with thousands of characters in my mind, and an apparently endless supply of their associations, is it any wonder a wheelbarrow strikes me as inspirational?

Friday 21 June 2019

Research Remembering

The book I'm writing at present begins in 1950, when the POV characters are eighteen, six and eight.
I've now worked my way forward to 1962. Like Counterpoint, this story will be a two-parter, because otherwise it will be too long. Many of the events in The Pixie Grip, which is this first part, were pre-determined, because the main characters have appeared before, as secondary characters, in other books in the series. Tracing them through their reported and recorded actions is fun, and it's particularly satisfying to fill in gaps and flesh out some small happenings. For example, Peter P and his wife Pia have four children quite widely spaced. This spacing was the result of something I did in the fourth book of the series, when I unwisely gave Peck, Peter and Pia's grandson, a much older cousin named Ryl. Peck was twenty-eight and Ryl was in her mid-forties. To make that work, I had to account for Peck's mother and Ryl's mother, who were sisters, having children so far apart. Thus the spacing of Peter and Pia's family. Ryl's mother Melody was born in 1951 and Peck's mother Leilana came along in 1967 as the first and last children with two brothers in between.

All that was internal consistency, but setting this story so far back meant researching all manner of things. I was certainly around in 1962, but I don't really remember it.

A selection of things I've had to research includes: 1950s cars, mediaeval folk songs, early 1960s hairstyles and clothing, the date of construction of some Sydney landmarks, the requirements for gaining a drivers' licence in the 1950s, and drinking age. Things I was fairly sure of included pre-decimal currency (which I remember), imperial measurements (ditto), common foods of the time and the prevalence of televisions. Things I was less certain of, and still am, are when certain slang terms and common terms and phrases became common. If I remember my parents saying something when I was very young, then I can assume it was current. If in doubt, I left it out.

I nearly made one error when a character was hitchhiking to a music festival and was picked up by a panel van containing three hippies. I had a sudden doubt and checked. Sure enough, the hippie culture rose in the mid 1960s... It's at least four years too early for Joe to meet his hippies, so I gave him a ride in a family sedan instead. Not as colourful...but more accurate!

Thursday 20 June 2019

Nothing New

Nothing new under the sun? I think I've mentioned before that I have a private family tree for some of my book characters on Ancestry. It's private because I don't want people wasting their time trying to fit my people into our world. The website still sees it though and today it informed me it had found information on my "ancestors". The ones in question are Daniel Hillyard, Flora Chance and Chloe Fraser. MY Chloe Fraser is an Australian woman adopted as a small child by a couple with a daughter. Her adoptive parents are dead and she's now married to a pixie. Ancestry solemnly offers me Chloe Fraser from the England and Wales birth registry. MY Daniel Hillyard is a pixie man from near the alpenfee territory. Ancestry thinks he's American. MY Flora Chance, who is Daniel's wife, is, according to Ancestry, to be found in the Arkansas Country Marriages index... 

Chloe Fraser
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
View record hint
Daniel Hillyard
U.S. Phone and Address Directories, 1993-2002
View record hint
Flora Chance
Arkansas, County Marriages Index, 1837-1957

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Whatever Happened to Barbie?

Now and then I introduce a minor character into a book series and then find out afterwards that their existence niggles at me. Whatever happened to... I have a habit of adding just enough detail to be tantalising. One such character is a woman named Barbie who was mentioned in a few throw-away lines in one of my books as the first girlfriend of a major character's grandfather.  The grandfather, whose name is Peter Peckerdale, is an irascible character who appears in quite a few of my stories, first as a hale man in his eighties and also in the retrospectively-set Midsummer Melody which took place in 1969, and The Kissing Ring which is set in the 1980s. In the first, Peter is in his late thirties, terrorising his daughter's boyfriend, and in the second, he's a grandfather teamed with his cousin and their wives to create a community tower. I'm now engaged in writing Peter's story, beginning in 1950, just after he's broken up with Barbie. Ten years later, Peter's wife Pia decides to contact Barbie in the spirit of friendship. To avoid telling the volatile Peter what she's doing, she enlists the help of Peter's  cousin, the then eighteen-year-old Simon Peter Grene.

This young man, already a bit traumatised by Sydney traffic, arrives at Barbie's address only to encounter her husband Jacobi le Fay, who is understandably not too pleased at this reminder of his wife's earlier mistake.

Jacobi le Fay is an elf man in his thirties. He's known Barbie since childhood, and although he knows about her brief relationship with Peter back in her student days, he would rather it stayed in the past. Jacobi's family are acclimatised elves who live human. He has an ordinary job, a car and apart from a few minor issues such as conspicuously good health and the ability to conjure, he is just an average citizen... That's his story, anyway! He's a nice person on the whole, but he just can't help giving the young messenger a hard time. Nevertheless, he does consent to talk to him and some of Barbie's later history is illuminated.

Will readers have been hanging out to know whatever happened to Barbie? Probably not. The point is, I have been wanting to know. And now I do.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

First Hundred Words of Sir Norah Nocknolly

Here be the first hundred words of Sir Norah Nocknolly. This is a text I wrote a while ago...

Sir Norah Nocknolly was a sensible knight.

She rode a fierce bad pony named Samantha.
She flew a gentle dragon named Bling.
Sir Norah lived in a castle with a moat and a spiked front door, painted pink.
She wore grumpy armour, with daisies on the helm.
Other knights were confused, but the townsfolk loved her.
‘Ask Sir Norah!’ they said when they needed knightly deeds.
Consequently, Norah was always busy.
When the rampaging, rumbustious Dastardly Dragon of Doom roared down from the hills, looking for trouble, the townsfolk called Sir Norah.
            ‘Fix it, please!’ they said.
            Sensibly, Norah sent her gentle dragon, Bling, to teach the Dastardly Dragon of Doom some proper manners.

Monday 17 June 2019

First Hundred Words May's Plum Pudding

I've been playing with the first hundred words of some of my books and stories. It's not always 100 because I avoid breaking sentences. Here's the first salvo from MAY'S PLUM PUDDING, which will be out soon.

May and Mama always spent Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa. They all went carol singing on Christmas Eve, but this year there was a change. Grandma took May out with the lantern while Mama stayed with Grandpa and her friend Mr Slate. When May and Grandma came home, with their noses red with cold and their throats dry from singing in the frosty air, Cook gave them a hot posset. The posset made May sneeze, but she slept well in Grandma’s spare feather bed. In the morning she opened her stocking before church. Then came Christmas lunch with a turkey and roast potatoes, and a fine plum pudding with a sprig of holly on top.

Sunday 16 June 2019

The Green Way

The Green Way is a place over there in my Fairy in the Bed series. As with most of the places or regions over there, the green way is partly a location and partly a descriptive of a state of mind or being. If a character says he wants to find a wife in the green way, he may mean he wants to go to the leprechaun villages near the pixie forest to visit the colleens there, or he may mean he wants to find a woman with similar heritage or outlook to his own. The physical green way comprises many villages. Those so far visited or mentioned in the series include Shamrock Village (Keiran Shamrock from The Courting of Eileen and Floribunda and the Best Men lives there with his wife Tally), Horseshoe Village, where Liffey Rosheen  lives in the Counterpoint mini-series, Fiddle Town, mentioned in Sam and the Sylvan, KerryKenny, where Alex and Oison live in Love Began at Christmas, Paddytown,  Clodagh, and Crock o' Gold. There are undoubtedly others. Erin a' Fee is also a village in the green way, but it is a long way from the pixie forest. There is also a green way village on Bodhran Island, although it's not lived in full time. It goes by the name of Sráidbhaile an Ghrá

Saturday 15 June 2019

The Pixie Forest

The Pixie Forest is a place which appears in the Fairy in the Bed series.  If you go through the gateway in the copse near Peckerdale-Grene Community Tower, you'll probably find yourself in the forest. It is a big place, although size and distance are mutable over there. The general appearance is of a woodland or bush, with a good assortment of trees, ranging from mature giants to saplings. The forest density varies too, with clearings, lightly wooded areas and some so dense it's difficult to see the sky. There are paths through the forest, but some inhabitants ignore these and go through the trees. Like distance, direction is somewhat mutable, but if you go through that particular gateway, which is generally called the pixie forest gate, then you can turn left to head the green way where the leprechaun villages are. If you veer right, you'll find the chalk hills and the you can go slightly left to the courtlands. Going more or less straight ahead from the gateway will take you to the braelands, while going right brings you to the falls. Beyond the green way lie the valleys.

The pixie forest is a lovely place with a pleasant climate. Sweetwood trees grow there, lending their honey-mango scent to the air. You're likely to get lost without a guide, but that doesn't matter much. Any passing treefolk lad or maid will take you back to the gate.

Friday 14 June 2019

Night Must Always Come - First hundred words

I've been playing with the first 100 words of some of my books. To avoid cutting off in the middle of a sentence, I'll go to 100 and then add the rest of the sentence in question. Here's the first hundred words of one of my older gothic romances; Night Must Always Come

            Sumpter and Sumpter, Solicitors and Attorneys, 15C,
said the sign.
Susannah Ashendon glared at it as she stepped into the elevator, on the last leg of her unwilling journey to see her solicitor— and cousin— Farley Sumpter.
Farley knew she hated coming to the city just now. He could quite easily have mailed whatever papers needed signing or brought them over to Oakhurst himself on his way home— but then, of course he wouldn’t. He’d be much too scared she’d drag him twice round Yosemite or whisk him way over to Yellowstone and feed him to Old Faithful. In fact, he probably thought Old Faithful was at Yosemite, like the bears.

Thursday 13 June 2019

Hundred words Eeeny Meeny

I've been playing with the first 100 words of some of my books. To avoid cutting off in the middle of a sentence, I'll go to 100 and then add the rest of the sentence in question. Here's the first hundred words of EENY MEENY

Many years ago, a pirate ship called the Red Queen sailed into Purple Bay. She was full to the rails with pirates, ropes, cutlasses, and a huge brass-bound chest bulging with treasure.
 The treasure chest rested on the deck, just near the main mast. Its lid was open to reveal bags of coins, piles of gold, ropes of pearls and heaps of coloured gems.
 The paymaster, whose name was Red Ned, stood beside it, cleaning his nails with his cutlass. ‘Well, hurry up, me hearties!’ he said. ‘Time to divvy up the spoils before we hit the shops.’
 ‘Wait,’ said the captain, who was called Red Roy, tapping his best peg-leg thoughtfully on the deck.

Wednesday 12 June 2019

First Hundred Words: The Ducktators

I've been playing with the first 100 words of some of my books. To avoid cutting off in the middle of a sentence, I'll go to 100 and then add the rest of the sentence in question. Here's the first hundred words of THE DUCKTATORS

Flip was used to Duncan Plotznik. He and her brother Daniel had been friends for as long as she could remember.
 They had always gone about together, doing whatever boys did, mostly with computers.
Flip never considered Duncan, any more than she considered the lawnmower. He arrived, did things in the Chases’ garden shed, and went home. He turned up again tomorrow or next week, depending on the number of obsolete computers currently crammed into the shed. That’s why Flip was unsurprised when Duncan entered the kitchen one Friday afternoon.
“Dan’s in the shed,” she said, but Duncan crouched and swapped slow blinks with Tooska, Daniel’s cat.

Tuesday 11 June 2019

First Hundred Words: Under the Waterfall

I've been playing with the first 100 words of some of my books. To avoid cutting off in the middle of a sentence, I'll go to 100 and then add the rest of the sentence in question. Here's the first hundred words of Under the Waterfall

It's dark, and I hear the water lapping around me, pressing on my shoulders like liquid hands. It reminds me of a scene in a film, when the heroine is floating in the icy ocean, waiting for rescue.
        Except that I'm not in the ocean, and it isn't icy, and I haven't just seen my boyfriend sink under the waves. As far as I know, Jase (who is the nearest thing I have to a boyfriend) is living his usual life of skateboards, pizza and patches of poetry. And - well, come to think of it, my situation doesn't remind me of a film after all.

Monday 10 June 2019

First Hundred Words: Under the Christmas Tree

I've been playing with the first 100 words of some of my books. To avoid cutting off in the middle of a sentence, I'll go to 100 and then add the rest of the sentence in question. 

It was still Christmas Eve—just—and the ball at Skipton Manor was winding down. In about an hour, everyone would gather and sing in Christmas.
Suzette had enjoyed dancing with a good many single men at the ball, as well as performing duty dances with assorted uncles, cousins and those odd courtesy connections that came about when one’s by-blood relation wed someone from another order.
One such connection had found her dancing with a leprechaun gossoon, a soft-spoken man who had informed her that because her great-uncle Roderick Skipton had wed a pixie miss named Melody Peckerdale, and because he himself had said forever with Melody’s brother Alexander, they were family.

Sunday 9 June 2019

First Hundred Words: Love Began at Christmas

I've been playing with the first 100 words of some of my books. To avoid cutting off in the middle of a sentence, I'll go to 100 and then add the rest of the sentence in question. 

Yvanne stood on the bridge near Skipton Manor, sunk in a miserable reverie, staring at her soft shoes. She’d been doing that a lot, lately. It had got to be a habit and she desperately wanted to move on. The pain of unrequited love had dulled to a faint background ache. She barely thought of it anymore, but it was there because…well, because she had nothing to take its place.
This is so undignified. I am a courtfolk lady. Courtfolk ladies do not mope over men who are betrothed to other ladies.
She tore her mind away and tried to remember where she was going, and why. 

Saturday 8 June 2019

First Hundred Words Sam and the Sylvan

I've been playing with the first 100 words of some of my books. To avoid cutting off in the middle of a sentence, I'll go to 100 and then add the rest of the sentence in question. Here's the opening hundred of Sam and the Sylvan

Sam clicked the second box in the online quiz while she waited for the barmaid to stop ignoring her. It was one of those pop quizzes designed to tell you your personality type, your ideal job, the best breed of dog to share your home or your past-life identity. This one purported to forecast her probable lifespan, and it seemed the questions had at least some scientific basis.
As such, it had held a morbid fascination for Sam, but she hesitated about putting in her answers. Did she really want to know the result? Who would care, anyway? She was single—the most single person she knew.

Friday 7 June 2019

First Hundred Words: The Silver Skateboard

I've been playing with the first 100 words of some of my books. To avoid cutting off in the middle of a sentence, I'll go to 100 and then add the rest of the sentence in question. 
Here be the first 100 words of The Silver Skateboard

‘Yee-hah!’ I jumped on my skateboard and rode it down the garden path. Cottle-de-cottle-de-cottle-de- CLONK. It stopped at the fence.
I stepped off and carried the skateboard back to the house.
‘Yee-hah!’ I jumped on and rode it down the path again. Cottle-de-cottle-de-cottle-de- CLONK.
Back to the house.
‘Yee-hah!’ Cottle-de-cottle-de-cottle-de-
‘Wiley Tyler, stop that noise!’ yelled Mum from the kitchen door.
‘But Mum, you told me not to ride it inside!’
Mum stuck her hands on her hips. ‘I also told you to wait until we go to the skate-park.’
‘When will that be?’
‘When I have time to take you!’ 

Thursday 6 June 2019

Treasure Chest

Okay, so the subject of this blog post isn't a literal treasure chest, although I have edited two anthologies concerning a magical toy chest and a magical crock of charms. In this case, I'm looking at treasure in the sense of gems and gold, and the way one thing leads to another.
Way back, in around 1989, I began work on a book called Amy Amaryllis. I needed gemstones that don't exist in our reality, so I invented stargems.  In Nanda the Naughty Gnome, some years later, Nanda Gemdibbler dibbles for non-specific gems. There's the special and frightening silver mineral (just called the silver substance) that bedevils the survivors of the crashed starship Elysian Dawn  in the Elydian Dawn series, the skypearl, or blue gold, the settlers find in Blue Gold and a few others.

In the Counterpoint series, Court Leopold inherits a gold fief ring from his father. It is a reddish colour that one character identifies as island gold. I can't remember why - maybe I just wanted something that sounded foreign or non-local. However, I do like to catch up these dropped stitches in stories later, so in Betony Buys Adventure which is coming out next month, I picked up the dropped stitch of island gold when I invented a whole new locality - the Star Pin archipelago.  Yes, that's where the island gold comes from. Since I had a rainbow theme in the story, I also invented seven new gems that echo the colour of the rainbow.  These are listed below.

Arcadian crystal; quartz, white and blue, found on Arcadian Island
Cadeau de l'été (aka Gift of Summer) red gems found occasionally in the streams on Summer Island. Very difficult to spot.
Heather gems: violet-coloured crystals found in the rocks on Heather Island. They sometimes work loose, and are used in fief rings or betrothal gifts.
Orris stone; an indigo stone found on Stella Orris
Shamrock stone; a translucent green gemstone found on Bodhran Island
Sons of the sea orange gemstones found commonly and only on Arrival
Sungelt; yellow gemstones found in the reef around Dawn Island

So, that's a sample of my treasure... Have any of you invented new gemstones? If so, what were they called, and why? 

Wednesday 5 June 2019

Picture Perfect

The use of stock art in genre covers is widespread, and authors, and readers, understand that it's difficult to get an exact match between characters as described and the available models. One of my series is probably more difficult than some because the characters aren't all human and don't all dress in contemporary-style clothing. In the case of my Christmas romance Under the Christmas Tree, I was lucky enough to have the cover before the story was finalised, so I was able to write in a tiny extra scene which introduced my characters dresses exactly as the models are and doing exactly what the models are doing. I'm pleased about that. 

Meanwhile, she and Ancel had the task of decorating the great Christmas tree in the ballroom. Suzette had on a red gown, which she hoped presented the right festive air. It was quite different from anything she usually wore, but Ancel’s eyes had brightened when he beheld it...
“Where is Yvanne? I thought she’d help with the tree.”
“Maman sent her on an errand.”
“It’s to do with Maman’s and Papa’s wedding gift to you, so don’t ask any more questions.”
“They don’t need to give me a gift. They’re giving me you.”
She giggled at his languishing look, then put her hand on her hip, sniffed, and said tartly, “I am giving myself to you.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Object Post; Master Perry's Christmas Tree

The object in this post is a living tree. Not many of the objects in object posts are alive, but this is one of a few exceptions. It's portable, and unique, so I expect that makes it an object.

Where: In The Pear Tree pub

A live Christmas tree stood in the corner between a large fireplace, unlit at present, and a table for two. It was hung with painted wooden ornaments.
She looked it over, impressed and admiring. The tree wasn’t a traditional fir or spruce. It was a pear tree, clad in healthy green leaves. It was fruiting, though at this season the pears were small, green and hard. That wasn’t the most striking feature, though. The tree, as she’d noted from the doorway, was strung with wooden ornaments.
Nelis put out her hand to touch one, admiring the miniature detail. It was half the height of her smallest finger, a black swan with a red bill and a touch of white in the wings. There was another close by, and another… Nelis traced the line of swans around the tree. There were seven of them, mixed black and white.
Above was a similar chain of six white geese.
Nelis bent to look at the lowest chain, which featured twelve drummers with their instruments. She was enchanted to see each was different. The drummers ranged from an old man with a white beard in breeches to a child of ten or so dressed in a full smock. The nine dancing ladies were similarly different, some buxom, some slender, some gowned and some not. The gold rings were differently styles, and the milkmaids’ cows all fantastically patched and stippled and oddly small. Nelis got on her toes to look at the topper which was a bird holding a pear in its wings.
That must be the partridge in the pear tree.
Each little piece was lovingly crafted and painted and Nelis saw at a glance they couldn’t possibly be a mass-produced set.

Monday 3 June 2019

Object Post: The Harvest Hob

The Harvest Hob
From the Counterpoint series and Sunshower

Source: Established in 1839
Where: Adelaide
Who went there? Tab and Josefa in Sunshower and Court and his mother Nanette and her husband in the Counterpoint series

The Harvest Hob, est. 1839. Licensee Nathaniel Applebee.
That’s the provenance of The Harvest Hob pub situated somewhere in an alleyway in Adelaide, probably not too far from the station.
The first time we encounter it is in Sunshower, when Tab Merriweather takes his lover Josefa there. She has evinced interest in meeting other fay, and Tab, a halfling, suggests that with a name like that, the pub is likely to be run by hobs. So it turns out.
The publican, Nathaniel Applebee, runs the place with his barmaid and betrothed, Sheelagh Chalk. Tab and Josefa stay the night, and Josefa discovers the true strangeness of the place when she goes upstairs to a room that is really over there.
In the mini-series Counterpoint, Court Leopold goes to the Harvest Hob to meet his mother, Nanette who, despite being a courtfolk lady, has married a human and elected to live human in Adelaide.
The Harvest Hob, the cosy Adelaide pub to which Yvanne directed Court before returning to her family manor, was an anomaly. It was a fay establishment planted in the middle of a capital city, with the gateway between over here and over there cunningly masquerading as a scullery door.
The publican, Nathaniel Applebee, inclined his head in acknowledgment as Yvanne ushered Court through the door. He never blinked as she gave Court a chaste kiss on the cheek, backed out alone and stepped out of view.
“Greet thee, master. Through to t’ taproom and my colleen will see to thee.”
“Thanks.” Court stepped through as directed.
The taproom seemed a pleasant place, with watercolours on the walls and a selection of patrons, fay, human and several mixes in between, propping up the bar.
He spotted his mother immediately. “Greet you, Maman. It’s been a while.”

The Hob is a comfortable, welcoming place, with rustic charm. It serves humans and fay, and anyone in between.

Sunday 2 June 2019

Pearl the Happy Unicorn

Pearl the Happy Unicorn is now available!
Pearl and Tweet are excited when they learn Olive is going to Ogrefest to play games, try her luck at contests and, naturally, eat anything not nailed down. What a pity they're not ogres too...
Of course, Pearl and friends find a way around that.

This is the fourth Pearl book following the three friends on their adventures in the kingdom

Saturday 1 June 2019

2019 in Focus: May

Every day in May I went out for a walk with my tablet or camera and took photos. I chose one or more to represent that day and wrote some accompanying verse. Every photo and verse was created on the stated day. The photos are not all in focus, but when I chose a fuzzy one it was for a good reason.

May was a departure from the norm, as I spent much of it in South Australia. Therefore, the theme for this edition of 2019 in Focus is Home and Also Away.

Because I was loath to miss my usual haunts, I asked my husband to take a photo each day and send it to me to versify. Thus even when I was away, there are images of home.

I made some of the photos into sets or collages. A few of them have been digitally altered to remove something ugly and intrusive. This was done in Paint. The colour, brightness and contrast are left natural and I didn’t use any effects. The coloured frames and text were mostly done using sampled colour from the photos.

After March’s excesses, I promised a slimmer vol in April. May though… hmm.

So, here is the cover of the fifth book in my self-indulgent series...

And here are the five covers so far.