Sunday 16th November, 2014

Apologies for the quiet. I’m still in need of quiet time but life keeps getting in the way of everything but this. And it’s not like I had a lot to say for a couple of weeks, there!

Anyway, this week is a “Free [the] Fiction!” week. Here’s the updates.

  1. A Granted Wish, a novella length piece of mine, is now up on the Fox Spirit [External Link] web-site under their Free Fiction page. On my site you can find the “published” announcement and some story background (both with direct links to the right Fox Spirit page).
  2. I’ve made the first chapter of 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf available on the site. It has all the usual plug links at the bottom of the page so, if you like it, you can get your paws on your own copy.
  3. I did manage to remember a couple of Sunday Stories in the last couple of weeks. The last story mentioned in an update was How Otter Made The World but Sunday 2nd was The Toy Plane (another one suitable for children) and this Sunday was Broken Bear (a heroic fantasy that probably isn’t suitable for children).

In other news, Wales rugby union performance has not been wonderful…

Sunday 23rd February, 2014

I missed a weekend. Nothing major but I was a bit distracted by plans coming to fruition last weekend. I am now in possession of a housemate. Apparently, this is how romance with a Scandinavian works… [External Link]

On the good side, Ole has made the conversion to supporting Wales in Rugby Union surprisingly well and managed to sit through the Friday night match (Yay, Wales!) against France. He was even feigning attention in the scores of the other two matches on Saturday. (Well done, Scotland / bad luck, Italy, Good job, England / Ireland, I’m so sorry.) He may yet survive the experience of moving in with the Pack. If he makes it through to some arbitrary date, I may have to ask him to write a page for himself, too.

The main addition since last time I did an update is that SWASH 2014 is now open for business. The weekend will be Saturday 31st May – Sunday 1st June. This is sometimes discussed as the main HEMA event in the UK and is definitely the British Federation of Historical Swordplay (BFHS)’s [External Link] flag ship event. Worth a nosey, even if it’s just going to the Leeds Royal Armouries on the day to observe as a member of the public!

Yeah, and I haven’t achieved much in the way of writing / creating.

Sunday 17th March, 2013

I hope St Patrick’s Day [Wikipedia article: St Patrick External Link] went well for everyone. My week has disappeared in completing small tasks – some of which are still outstanding as I still haven’t refound the photos I’m supposed to scan for someone – and the weekend has been spent organising for and spending some time with my niece. It was her birthday in the week, so we’ve had a family meal this evening.

And a short sword-and-shield fencing lesson for her this afternoon, which is not something I know anything about but I figured if I got her in the habit of using both hands and hitting the weapons rather than her friends / opponents, the wooden toys would be a little safer and more acceptable to my sister. Just call me an irresponsible aunt. The good news is, I think my niece enjoyed being an armed pink princess and I may wear my fencing kit next time. Just to survive.

Edited to add: And the Wales v England game was awesome 🙂

Sunday 3rd February, 2012

Could someone please tell me how we got to February already?

On the good side, February means the Six Nations is on again. I watched the Wales v. Ireland match (I kind of wish I hadn’t. First half = ouch, second half = oh, so close). I missed the England v. Scotland match (more on why shortly) and I chose not to watch the Italy v. France game – which, by a swift intervention of Sod’s Law, apparently turned out to be the most exciting game of the weekend. Italy won and, according to some, turned the “natural order” on its head. They’ve been improving over the last decade, though, and they played extremely well last season so I thought it was a possible and deserved outcome.

I missed the Calcutta cup match (England / Scotland) because I met Dylan Fox [] and Allegra Hawksmoor [External Link] at The Telling (2) [External Link] in Doncaster – at least, for part of it. Although spoken word is often lost on me (short attention span, missing some of the nuance) it was an interesting evening and I’m glad I went. But then we were also involved in some pre-Industrial Age style smelting and manning the bellows was oddly fun.

There’s been an on-site change this week, in that the Smallsword Symposium web page went live with the 2013 dates (and more information to be added between now and October), so I’ve created a link page here.

And the final thing to mention is my sister, Sam Jackson, is starting up the arts and crafts again. Things should be turning up on her Etsy account (Sam’s Hut [External Link]) at some point but, for now, she’s concentrating on a Facebook page (currently known as Artful Hearts Designs [External Link]) that is intended to be a shared page with other craft-y friends. Her coffee-themed candles are well worth a look.

Sunday 15th April, 2012

So. Bootcamp. Basically, the idea of the bootcamp is immersion resulting in increased confidence with Welsh as a (limited) speaker, not just a learner. No dog, no English, no phone signal (by the coincidence of being on the wrong network for the area) and no Internet connection (not by coincidence but by virtue of the housing) for a week. I can’t say I’ve actually learnt that much – it’s cleaned up a bit of my pronunciations but any new vocabulary probably won’t be remembered until I proceed with Gwrs 2 (finally). However, one of the things to come out of bootcamp is the decision to write some posts around languages in the near future. There are a few things that this might end up bringing to the site:

  • A “Languages” (or “Ieithoedd”?) page. I want to ensure a permanent, obvious mention of SaySomethinginWelsh [External Link] with a bit of an explanation about how things are working out for me. But as someone who speaks English as their first language and who, some time in the dim and distant past, learnt some French it might also be worthwhile making a generalised page.
  • Linked to that, I’m considering doing a blog post about my experience of the bootcamp (more on this in a bit). You can find some general updates and other people’s comments here: SSiW forum – Tales from April Bootcamp 2012 [External Link].
  • And, finally for this section, I think there’s a fair amount of ideas / information for my world-building section of posts. I have some notes that may or may not come to fruition over the next week or so.

With respect to the “My experience” / how well I coped part of the subject, the answer is: I survived. The couple of times I’m actually mentioned in the bootcamp forum thread suggests I didn’t spoil everyone’s fun by being stressed out for the majority of the week. I feel a bit of a fraud / idiot for two main reasons on this one. Firstly, I didn’t actually warn anyone I have a tendency to shatter under stress (i.e. warn them I have Asperger’s) and, secondly, I didn’t plan for it myself. I hadn’t expected to just break on Easter Saturday (after a long drive).

It’s not like I didn’t expect to be stressed – new people, new place and new language? Come on! – but I thought I had my coping mechanisms in place. Turns out that I hadn’t. If I write a more involved post on bootcamp, I’ll explain all these things in more depth. Anyway, where the fraudulent element comes in, of course, is that my being so wound up has the potential to lessen or hide other people’s struggles in the same situation. Nervousness and (lack of) confidence is not something special to those of us diagnosed as on the Autism Spectrum, and we were all out of our everyday comfort zones. While I’m hardly an expert, everyone seemed to deal with things very well and we did all come away feeling better about speaking Welsh. (But I would warn anyone considering going to make sure they understand the stress involved. Don’t let it stop you but do understand that it’s all going to be a shock to the system. Talk things over with the organisers before you go if you think there might be a problem. They want you to go and they want to help you get the best out of the week.)

I did write a little bit at bootcamp (dispensation from “dim saesneg” as it’s my main coping strategy without Finn around) but my brain essentially fried some time on Easter Sunday and I have a very small word count of about a thousand words on various ideas I may not get back to – some non-fictional for the website and some words on a mid-length story idea that may not work properly. It was a little weird trying to write because my brain kept flip-flopping between languages. It’s still doing it now: starting in Welsh, realising it doesn’t have the right words so switching to English. Unfortunately, the result is very basic and the words still aren’t the right ones. This may improve with redrafting and continuing to work through the idea.

So, to the other ideas that came up as scratched markings in my notebook. Along with the standard fiction stuff and the language posts, you can expect to see mention of in the next few months is genealogy. I’ll be restricting anything I publish to three main family / name groups: the THOMASes, the TABERNERs and the CHARLESWORTHs. I need to investigate how best to make information available (with the standard proviso that I’m probably wrong, etc, etc) and look over the existing stuff. It’s been a while since I’ve done any research and it’ll take me a while to get back on top of things – if I can find time.

The final new thing to look out for in the future: there will be a new Hellhound in the next few months. Rosie is currently four weeks old (if I have my dates right). The result of an accidental mating of my sister’s Jack Russell and Shih-tzu (Yes, I’ve seen the obvious joke and I do find it very funny), Rosie will hopefully be joining us in four to eight weeks. I’m going to need to take some time off work to supervise introductions and that will probably dictate when she joins the pack.

And, to finish off today’s ramblings, there were two additions in the week before bootcamp to re-mention:

  1. I put up a new version of Order of Play, which indicates the latest Alex Jones has been allowed to live. I am still undecided whether to post it on the website or try to find a more suitable home for it.
  2. I posted a mention of the Smallsword Symposium IV, which has since been given a webpage of it’s own here: [External Link]. (Event page also updated.)

Sunday 25th March, 2012

The smile from the Wales’ team (Rugby Union, men’s) lasted until Wednesday. Then normal life reasserted itself and stress levels returned to normal.

So, what I missed last week: You may have noticed I’ve finished off my Women’s Roles in Fantasy Fiction posts. It’s all generalised, and not necessarily logical. Comments welcome!

I’ve also since finished redrafting 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf. I’ve sent it off to someone to read through again (I suppose that makes them a gamma reader) while I work on a related short idea. I have another couple of bits and pieces for the Alex Jones world and I may have to put together a new version of the Order of Play post once I’ve strung them together. As I’ve mentioned on the New Dryas post, A World History, I tend to keep timings vague to allow for squeezing ideas that occur after the timeline has been set out. Finishing off the 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf has left me with some new ideas that require adjustment to how I originally had Alex Jones’ world unfolding and I need to lay it out again.

Sunday 11th March, 2012

Well, I continued the series on Women’s Roles in Fantasy Fiction (and in the real “Middle Ages”) with Women’s Role Models: Generals. There are two related site “innovations” this week. I’ve now put a short section at the end of each of the related posts so that it’s easier to jump between them (if you, you know, actually enjoy reading them) and I’ve shuffled my site categories slightly to allow an easy jump to the group of posts from the menu on the right (and here). The end is in sight with the final post in the series planned for Wednesday this week.

Which also means that now is the time to nominate a subject for me to waffle on, or request an expansion on something I’ve already covered, if you’ve enjoyed my attempts at blogging.

The redrafting on 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf continues. I’ve got everything marked-up on paper and I have six more to get onto the computer. Further writing may resume soon, particularly as I’ve had some werewolf related ideas. I suspect there will be a brief short story (or two) detour before I make it back into the world of my Gens.

In rugby news, Wales beat Italy (woot!), Ireland beat Scotland (but it looked close for a while) and Alain Rolland is not scared of controversy (France – England, England won) – this being the referee last mentioned with respect to the World Cup and the France – Wales game (Sunday 15th October, 2011). This week, he gave a yellow card to an English player for something that was technically a penalty. Well, pending any comments from the various rugby boards as to whether they agree with the ref’s call. Again, Mr Rolland’s biggest problem was being put in a situation where his impartiality can be questioned. He should be banned from refereeing any international match with France playing just as he is not allowed to referee an international Ireland match. Not because I believe he’s partial but because it will cut down at least half of the griping. Seriously, the related comments spoil my enjoyment of the game more than his actual calls do!

In life off computer and tv, the boiler was fixed on Monday – so, yet again, I have heating back in time for the weather to warm up. Having worked outdoors three days out of five last week and having been enjoying the summer-like weather today, I can safely say I wouldn’t have frozen to death if the boiler hadn’t been under warranty. On the other hand, I’ve been a sight more comfortable than I would have been without it.

Monday 27th February, 2012

With a little help from Cheryl Morgan [External Link], I put together a post on Women’s Role Models: Ringers, which I posted last week. This is a continuation of the Women’s Role posts started with Women’s Roles in Fantasy Fiction and continued in Women’s Role Models: An Introduction. A post on “Soldiers” follows some time this week – probably Wednesday, when tradition suggests I should actually be out proposing to random men. Feedback on all of these posts would be appreciated, as would suggestions for further examples.

The radiator drip was solved with a cork, thankfully, but I have been redecorating. I’ve managed up to the first coat of paint. This did not distract from Saturday’s rugby – France beat Ireland, Wales beat England (woot! Triple Crown!) – or the disappearance of Sunday in an all day trip to SWASH 2012. Next year, I think they’re moving the dates to slightly later in the year, so I won’t have to chose between men rolling in the mud and people waving swords again. Hopefully, decorating won’t enter into the equation.

Redrafting on 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf continues, with more writing on hold for a while. I just don’t have the time with redecorating and such.

Sunday 12th February, 2012

Yesterday, England beat Italy in Rome (in the remains of the snow) and the France-Ireland game got called off due to a frozen, or soon to be frozen pitch. The temperatures were in minus numbers and things did not look good when they took the heaters away. As far as I know, the fixture has yet to be rearranged but people expect it to be the first weekend in March. Wales play Scotland this afternoon.

So, yes, the low temperatures continue. In my case, that just means things have been freezing up again most nights and the snow hasn’t actually cleared. It did try to snow again in the week but it didn’t add much. It did make getting to work interesting as the sites I work at are not exactly well travelled. There were a few instances of ice (or, at least, slush) skating in the car. Because the surface has freeze-thawed a number of times, Finn is not finding it quite as much fun as last weekend.

In terms of what everyone else gets to see, I’ve posted to the blog on world building again: Women’s Rules in Fantasy Fiction. It is facetious in that it’s intentionally oversimplified. The idea being that, generally, people will say I need a female character and assume that covers everything rather than aiming for any complexity. (In the defence of the rare book that actually does that, the other characters aren’t actually that complex, either.) I’m building a back-log of posts in a series on this with the next due to be posted mid-week. I would be lazy and work on them more slowly but I have some “free” time and I may not have that when I get round to the later posts. Please let me know what you think of them.

This all came out of discussions with Dylan Fox [External Link] about The Three Guineveres (which I’ve also managed a small amount of progress on, this week). Although not a “medieval Europe” fantasy, it does rely heavily on inspirational material that made it through the period – and some of the character traits of my Guineveres reflect this perhaps a little too much. The debate was basically a how to tone it down in the first instance so that it didn’t upset the modern reader without loosing the somewhat old-fashioned plot and associated character traits. Has it worked? Well, if it ever makes it into print (electronic or otherwise), you’ll be the first to know.