Archive for November, 2010

Blog Jog Day

November 20, 2010

Thank you for stopping by my Blog! Please explore all this Blog has to offer, then jog on over to “We Are One In Spirit”
If you would like to visit a different Blog in the jog, go to

I don’t have a freebie on offer today, but if you look at the posts immediately below you will see that I will be offering a free novella from my Iskander series novels when my new website comes online. (Not published elsewhere.)  The novella will be an e-download for everyone who wants it. I will post the opening of my new website here (of course), so keep watching. The domain name is to be

I am expecting to be away much of Saturday, but go ahead and post a comment anyway. I will reply to all on Sunday if I cannot get back online on Saturday.


Writing and Dog-walking

November 19, 2010

Was it just ten days ago that I wrote about being unable to quit finding stories and having to write them? Yes, it was. Well, I finished the latest yesterday.

I’ll leave it until Sunday to join all the chapters together and read right through. I’m sure I’ll find something to tweak, but the main job is done. One more adventure of Gisel’s documented in my alternate Earth, Iskander series. This one is “Gisel Matah and the Slave Ship”.

It’s not my usual length of fiction – I kept it to less than 15,000 words – just. Hey, that’s about one sixth of my usual novels. I wanted this as a novella to give away as promotion. I have yet to convert the file to doc, html, and (hopefully) epub, (if the software works). When my new website is up and running I want to offer a link where the e-format of your choice can be downloaded. All you have to do in return is leave an e-mail address, so I can let you know when a new novel of mine is released. I’ll be sending notices to all the readers’ groups I can find when the links are live. (If you can suggest one, please leave a comment below.)

And, guess what? The original slave ship story is completed but there is a hook at the end that leads into another story. This one looks much more dangerous for Gisel. Maybe I could … No. I really am going to stop now. I have a line editor breathing down my neck for the completion of Rast’s edits.

What else happened? Southern Alberta fell into winter this week. Highway reports show poor or worse for all the highways. My wife cancelled her eye appointment Tuesday as the highway cameras to the city showed near-blizzard conditions.

Today was actually the worst locally. Wind from the north and blowing snow. The dogs didn’t want to stay out long for their first morning pee break. After breakfast they were ready for their daily walk. I would rather have gone back to bed.

Anyway, I donned all the gear. Three layers everywhere. Left the lined gloves at home in favour of winter mitts. “Better take a beacon with you,” wife says, jovially. Huh! I decided to go across the field south of the community – up over the hill because I expected to be somewhat sheltered from the wind on the other side.

The snow turned out to be anywhere from 6 inches to 18 inches deep, depending on the slope, orientation, and depth of vegetation. I found the first 18 incher by accident with a nosedive going up the hill. Good thing 18 inches of snow give a soft landing. It was not comfortable going, hard slogging through that much snow, and decidedly cold whenever I turned around to see what the dogs were doing.

They weren’t impressed, looking as much white as their normal black, snow sticking to their legs and faces. They were travelling in bunny-hops and their usual zigzags, so not much use for breaking trail for me. I prefer following their tracks because I get some warning of gopher holes if they step in one.

On the other side of the hill they thought they’d arrived in summer – well, not exactly, but there was less wind and not as much drifted snow. Emmie found a couple of ravens and proceeded to chase after them into the distance. Coco brought up the rear – more sedately, but they both vanished across the field. I trudged after them, wondering what they were doing – so long out of sight. By the time I neared the crest where I might have a chance to see them – getting a bit tired now, trudging through fresh snow – they trotted back and stood on the crest waiting for me.

I had decided to return home down the gully, where an intermittent stream flows in spring when the snowdrifts melt. In our usual winter this gully is under about 15 feet of snowdrift, but it was only dog head high today, by the tracks and flounders Emmie had left from her raven chase.

It was sheltered from the worst of the wind in the gully, but had a foot of snow caught in the long grass. Still hard going. I was beginning to think that the mile hike across the field was a might too ambitious. Out of the gully both the wind and the snow picked up, and I needed to walk straight into it. I followed Coco’s track for awhile and then chickened out to short cut to the north, through the yard of neighbours who’d gone south for the winter.

So the dogs and I came back along the street, mostly easier going than the field, but still plenty of snow. I didn’t put the dogs on leash – I figured it was too cold for them to go at my pace. And anyway, I was getting too tired to want to fuss with them. Emmie was glad to race me to the front door, Coco started off on another expedition around the neighbourhood, but luckily didn’t persist after I started after her. Shirl’s afternoon at the Senior Centre was cancelled due to weather – she has a physiotherapy session in town tomorrow morning – we shall see what the morning looks like.


I Can’t Stop It.

November 8, 2010

I’ve had a couple of posts about Mindstream, the last novel I completed and the one I should be paying attention to if I want it published where it would be most noticed. I should also be beginning the promotion for Rast, that will be released in five months or less. I have another novel, Masquerade, being polished with my friends in the local writers’ group, so the rewriting and the critiquing of other members’ chapters should be another place to focus.

Instead, I’ve started something new. Another Iskander story – this time a novella, short enough to give away as a promotional gimmick. The Iskander stories need something to make them more widely known, and I figure I know of enough inline writers’ and readers’ sites where I can offer it as a freebie. I have a feeling that my intended title, “Gisel Matah and the Slave Ship” should draw the necessary interest.

I didn’t think of the story until recently. The idea came from an academic paper a friend sent me, about the origin of the Sierra Leone colony in Africa. She is currently revising it as one of her publications on her way to a PhD in military history. I don’t think I’m using anything that isn’t already known history – about the origin of the colony as a place to settle released slaves, and about the way the British army found they needed African units in the West African climate. I’ll have her read it to check, if she has the time.

My story takes place on the western side of the ocean, not the eastern, when the frigate where Gisel is marine officer stops a ship on the high seas. The commanders wish they could let the ship go, because its presence disrupts some of their plans – but Gisel has the bit between her teeth. These poor slaves have to be freed and found a safe refuge. She’s senior officer placed on the captive ship, with strict orders not to do anything without the squadron commander’s explicit approval, but radio communications are sketchy at times – and let’s face it, this is Gisel. She’s certain to twist the situation to fit the solution she thinks is required.

Every time I think I should take a break from writing, look at other things and spend more time on promotion and networking – another story comes along. It seems that I have something missing in my life if I haven’t a story to tease into shape. I can’t stop.

Time and the conventions of fiction.

November 1, 2010

In my last post I commented on the difficulty of representing relativity within the compass of fiction writing – which requires a strong linear connection. This linearity is so normal as to be almost invisible, until one tries to alter it. Most writers seem soon to give up.

Science Fiction epics … the huge space operas so much out of fashion these days, have always ignored Einsteinian relativity. The hero flits from one end of the galaxy to the other and always arrives to find the planet of arrival is on the same day of the calendar as aboard his spaceship. Some writers pay lip service to this anomaly by instituting a galactic time, a UGT, that must keep astronomers and clockmakers busy for eons. Time signals within our universe are transmitted at the speed of light – no more. When calling Space HQ from the end of your ‘hyperdrive’ journey of a thousand light years, the people you need to speak to have been dead for more than nine centuries. That’s in the real universe, not the ‘magic’ one, of course.

That’s the Buck Rogers fiction dealt with. What about non-linear time on Earth? Magic journeys into the past have been grist for many fictional mills. Somehow the protagonist of this fiction has passed through a portal and found himself in the past. The mechanism of the portal is never discussed – a convenient stratagem that saves reams of pages and an unwinnable fight with disbelief. The reader has to accept portals before picking up the book. I don’t take issue with this, but almost all stories end with the victorious time traveller going back home to his own world – and finding himself miraculously re-connected with his thread of life before the portal experience. He was a time travelling for a month – right, he goes back home to find a month’s worth of newspapers in his mailbox. Some writers have him arriving home just an eye-blink from the moment when he slipped into the portal.

This latter is actually the most logical. His time through the portal didn’t exist in his normal world, so although he might come back as aged as Rip Van Winkle, he hasn’t been gone for any time at all.

Then there are the writers who choose to muck about with linear time in a fiction that stays firmly embedded in Earth reality. They don’t actually do anything to the novel time, they just juggle the chapter order when putting the plot together – to keep the reader from observing the specific incident that holds the whole edifice together within its proper place in the plot. You might want to cry, “fraud” here, but in literary circles it’s considered the epitome of first class writing.

However – none of these issues are the ones I have problems with in “Mindstream”. Readers have asked, “If there is no connection between the time in the Mindstream and the time in the four dimensional ‘real’ world – how is it that the protagonist always comes back to the linear time at the point where the story needs him?” Yes, good question. Next?

I plead necessity. Not of time, but of fiction. Who would read a story where no logical thread connects the events within the plot? It becomes ‘not a story’ if the linear connectivity is lost. Whatever is done to time within the novel – it doesn’t effect the linear time of the person reading it. So … the consciousness of the Mindstream traveller is connected linearly with that of his inactive body within the real universe. He always returns to the point where his mind’s synapses have developed in storing the memories – otherwise he’d never remember what he’d been doing. QED. If it doesn’t seem an adequate explanation to you – well, you’ve never been there.