Saturday, February 28, 2015

Justine's Journal #28

52 Weeks 500 Words

This is how it began: Justine (not her real name) decided to write 500 words (or as near as), anything goes, per week for 52 weeks. She would then submit it for anonymous posting, via me, her friend. Perhaps a pattern will emerge from her words, but at this stage it’s more an experiment I have agreed to share in. I’ll attempt to draw conclusions at the end of this. Stay tuned if this resonates with you.

Week 28

"Life is full right now. I’m editing my novel and I’m in a new relationship (told you I’d tell you more later!).

Unfortunately this makes me more paranoid than ever. Remember the entry about busyness? How we use busyness as an excuse not to think, feel or act? This is at the root of my current paranoia. My fear is that I am now so busy I may be in denial about something I should be addressing. How strange are we? Always with the second-guessing.

And yet life IS full … and pretty good.

The editing is going well, and it seems the book may just get a little longer with a bit more depth, and I’m enjoying it. With the story completed, I’m actually finding it easier to see the story, if you can understand that. I see where the plot holes are, where more is needed, or stuff needs to be trimmed, and every edit (hopefully) makes it a better book.

My relationship is pretty good too! He’s a great guy, attentive and compassionate, with a romantic touch, while being also a no-nonsense sort of person. For me, a perfect combination. He is strong when necessary and a softy on the inside. Of course, it’s early days and this is the ‘honeymoon’ period, but so far so good. We don’t see each other that often, but enough to know we are both serious. And when we’re together, we have fun and we have more serious times also, learning both the good and the bad about each other. We are no longer youths wearing rose-tinted glasses, and we know to be cautious given our previous experiences, and yet there is an undeniable connection. We talk a lot!

So why the paranoia?

Is there something I’m overlooking, if not deliberately? Is my sub-conscious trying to tell me something? It’s neither the work nor the play of the present, I know, because I've already analysed both factors and they come up fine. Is there something on my back-burning mind I cannot now see?

I paused here, in the writing of this, for as I completed the back-burning sentence something fiddled at me mind.

This sense of discomfort might have something to do with my brother. As I wrote and paused, I saw his face before me. Remember, we reconciled in December? We promised we would stay in contact and visit each other? That remains true. We phoned each other, messaged and mailed, continue to do so, and we plan to get together in July. Right. Why did I see his face then?

It’s now a day later and I’m returning to finish this entry.

My brother broke his leg yesterday. He’s fine. We spoke and laughed for hours last night, so he really is okay. He needs to live with cast and crutches for a while, but that’s it. How did he break his leg? A friend’s motorbike! They were messing around on a sandy track near them, acting like stupid teenagers, when he fell … and the machine fell onto his leg.

This is freaking me a bit. I saw his face after questioning a sense of paranoia … and hear he was in fact injured? Premonition? Is that it?

I’ll let you know about this once I've had time to digest it. Signing off for now."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Green eyes in a redwood

The mighty redwoods in California sparked the idea for this romance, love amid the giants!

Alayna is a hermit, for good reason. Living in the giant redwood forest away from prying eyes, her tranquility is shattered when intruders break into her home with the intention of robbing and using her.

A man with vivid green eyes is an unlikely saviour, and when they save each other their fates are sealed. Ben and Alayna have the kind of attraction which reeks of a celestial mandate. Alayna realises what Ben is, but he's too young to know his true power. Torn, Alayna sends Ben away to his true destiny, awaiting his return.

Their attraction is so visceral and overwhelming that Ben returns again and again, each time making it harder to leave the only woman who has ever ignited his soul. Alayna feels it too, because only Ben has a kiss that breaks worlds. His ethereal magnificence is so glorious that their love will leave a tear in the clouds.

Which Tolkien year were you born into?

Monday, February 23, 2015

"I loved where you shone the illumination."

I would like to share with you the review I received from Poppet for Ancient Illumination. It's brilliant! Thank you, Poppet!

Ancient Illumination

In this traditional fantasy story Elaina Davidson starts it off with the brutal severity of its setting. Life as we know it is ending. There are only five of them left and they've left behind home, comfort, civilisation's corpse, in the hopes of finding Castle Drakon.

They have trundled through arctic conditions to reach a cave; bone weary, disheartened, and desperate. This cave is not on a map, it's simply a 'feeling' they have followed, like a wish that they can survive the annihilation which swept across the planet Drakonis. The story is told through Brennan's eyes, and her companions include the brothers Bastian and Cole. They seem a disparate bunch, with issues. For one: Audri doesn't speak, from shame or trauma, only time will tell.

The cave is inhabited by Winter, a wizened old man with magic in his pockets (such heavy pockets they make noises regularly), and his two companions, a dwarf and an old woman. Except the old woman feels so familiar, even looks familiar.

The intrigue is thick from the get-go, and like most of Davidson's work this one pulled me in quickly to take me on a journey I won't soon forget. All five characters and the three in the cave  have something in common, and this commonality falls outside the realm of 'mere mortal'. (I'm skirting around details here so I don't ruin the read).

Drakonis faced fires and now it's facing an ice-age. Human pride is the same on any planet, and the biggest fear seems to be that 'we'll be forgotten' by the time life re-emerges on this plane. In a bid to be remembered these characters are trying to escape Drakonis' fate, so that our memory lives on, so that we'll never be forgotten. Winter enables their passage by giving the crew intel they require to reach the portal which is Castle Drakon, and then gives them the contents of his pockets (bar one).

Full disclosure happens swiftly, and now both brothers (Cole and Bastion) are looking at Brennan in a very different light. She is best friends with one, and attracted to the other, what a conundrum for her to be in now (of all times) when our memory is at stake, and why would they fail as a group if she doesn't choose one or the other (?).

Davidson does this, she puts her characters in dire situations and then gives them impossible choices to make, when they are distraught, when they have no time to contemplate, when they are dehydrated, starving, emaciated, dirty, and on the cusp of losing all hope.

Halley shows them the movement of memory, memory being a very central theme to this. It begs the question, why do we care so much about memory? Is it because we've forgotten something crucial, something so important that if we remembered all history would be altered, everything we've done a sham? Is our civilisation built on lies? Why do we care if we're forgotten when our civilisation dies and our planet kills us? Maybe … just maybe, it's because we've forgotten, and on a cellular level, deep down in our memory, we know it.

This is the underlying spine of this tale, it's tall, proud, strong, but it's hidden by the flesh of so many centuries, so many millennia, that we've forgotten what all our rituals and tales hide, we think our history is accurate, but it's not. History is designed to force you into forgetting, ritual is a subtle reminder, but mankind pays so very little attention to understanding ritual (they just parrot without looking deeper at the origins). The characters suddenly gain this insight.

In a bid to hide the truth on Drakonis all ritual was banned, worship was outlawed, and anyone remembering, speaking, or practising truth was to be eliminated without judge or jury. Being truthful was an act of anarchy, one practised only by outlaws. Even exposing true names would result in death, so our main character is reluctant to give hers to strangers – she knows the penalty.

How familiar this all sounds – don't shame the rapist, shame the raped. Oh yes, this system has been in place for so long mankind remembers no other way to be (at our peril). Davidson doesn't say as much, but she's pointing fingers throughout this tense excursion to Drakon Castle. It's a nirvana, a place to escape to, an escape from certain death; hope then. But once they enter hope, they discover this is not what they were told. The legends lied, the reality is so far removed from what they thought they'd find that they are trapped and horrified.

As with any good story they won't all make it out alive, this is after all the very end of existence. Castle Drakon is supposed to reverse the journey, but the reversing of the journey would mean surrendering everything we are, everything we hold dear, and utterly obliterating our morals and ethics. Right and wrong go out the window, leaving one male and one female with a horrendous choice. Do they want to be remembered – now?

Winter warned them to use light with caution, for light reveals (truth will too). Illumination comes with understanding, and when we understand do we even like what it is we now comprehend (?). The answer in this tale is, no.

This is about the secret of Castle Drakon, and the characters discover it. I fell so completely into this tale; it was fraught, it was a real quest I'd expect from an epic fantasy author, and she did it so well in the space of what would usually only take up 2 chapters in one of her novels. I cared about what happened to them, I was riveted to the dilemmas and 'choices', and I gobbled up this story to reach the ending (for closure).

Shadows have presence, they are palpable and as real as light, they shift, move, have atmosphere, and they fuel our fears. We've always been warned about the dangers in the dark. Drakonis goes into its dark phase. Humanity that scorns truth, who persecutes it, well that is a humanity that have entered their dark phase. The dark ages are when tyranny is allowed rule without challenge, and when rulers have carte blanche to suppress, repress, and quash their people. It is now.

The final words gave me such a cold chill I got goosebumps. I agreed. I agreed with those final words, I agreed with the choice. Some things are best left forgotten. Would you like to be remembered? Why? Would you like humanity to remember this world and what we did here? Are you proud of our wars, the enslavement of other cultures and people, of the daily domestic violence, crime, - tyranny (?) Are you proud of taxes, of it being illegal to feed the poor, for illness to become the new plague because all welfare and charity are now illegal and scorned? There is a lot of hatred and horror in this world, there is a lot of darkness despite the sun shining still. Will we become the next Drakonis? If someone keeps you in the dark, is it fair of them to enforce you to stay in it because you are 'family'? This too is a question posed in this tale.

Davidson takes on some massive issues in this highly entertaining tale, and it pulls back the shadows to expose what lurks there. And once you know, once you've seen, you know your choice. Some like their darkness, it's a familiar pain, their drama is their own and it's wrong of them to expect family to join their pantomime if it means surrendering who you are to please someone else. You have to live for you, no one else but you.

Bravo Elaina Davidson! I loved your story, I loved what you hid between the lines, I loved where you shone the illumination. It is ancient illumination indeed when we follow our own instinct instead of surrendering to familial pressure.

This short story Ancient Illumination from the anthology The Secrets of Castle Drakon, is a PERFECT example of Davidson's writing. She'll make you care, she'll suck you in, she'll transport you out of your mundane life into an alternate reality, and once you're there she will take you on a journey that exposes their issues, and ours. It will be familiar – but not. It's the perfect teaser to her other writing, which is epic fantasy, doing this but on a much broader canvas. I am as always impressed with this author's scope and ability, her skill will one day be recognised and she will be a name revered. Well done girl! Well done!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

66 000+!

Thank you for visiting!


Justine's Journal #27

52 Weeks 500 Words

This is how it began: Justine (not her real name) decided to write 500 words (or as near as), anything goes, per week for 52 weeks. She would then submit it for anonymous posting, via me, her friend. Perhaps a pattern will emerge from her words, but at this stage it’s more an experiment I have agreed to share in. I’ll attempt to draw conclusions at the end of this. Stay tuned if this resonates with you.

Week 27

"Yesterday I watched a group of preschoolers at play while waiting for a portion of hot chips. Opposite the fish and chips shop there’s a nursery school, and it was play time. I sat in my car, watching, a distraction while I waited.

A jungle jim took pride of place in the sand strewn yard, a small slide and two swings made of recycled tyres. Two boys were screaming at each other as they clambered the bars, one girl sat quietly in one of the swings and another tossed sand from spade to bucket in a corner. The main attraction seemed to be the slide – four there, three girls and a boy. Two were on plastic scooters being chased around by two more.

It was noisy. I guess when we get to a certain age this kind of play seems too noisy! I do not deny them it, for we all did this as kids, and it’s part of how we grow up, but I am glad the school isn't next door to me.

My first thought was for the girl on the swing. It seemed to me she sat there quietly to find herself, perhaps searching for a moment’s peace. With the noise level, she wasn't going to get it. I wondered briefly if she would be the reader of the group, the one who would in the future find a quiet spot at school proper to read by herself while her mates chatted up a storm. Maybe she can’t wait to read, to know how to decipher those squiggles on a page. Yes, she reminded me of me.

And then she suddenly jumped off her tyre and ran into the melee around the slide, shouting as loud as everyone else there for her turn.

My point is that what we see isn't necessarily what is. What we judge as happening in a moment isn't always real. If you think about it, what I was doing was using my personal experiences and placing it onto another. I empathised with a situation based on my own thoughts. It wasn't her reality I saw; it was mine. I admit, it was quite a shock when she called me a liar in jumping into the action. I had, after all, pegged her as a kindred soul. In that moment of shock I understood we cannot ever truly know another unless we are that other. We deal with each other using ourselves as the measuring tool. This isn't wrong, for this is how we make lasting connections (that other does the same, after all, and that is how we find common ground), but the true knowing is somewhat flawed.

I am happy for that girl and all the kids there enjoying their fun. They must make a noise and interact and be themselves. And I must learn to be more objective. Thank you, hot chips, for teaching me this lesson."