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27 June 2014

and yes, I’m delighted to announce that FIREDANCER sold to FORGING FREEDOM 2 anthology. It looks likely to be a fascinating bunch of tales in that and I look forward to seeing the anthology when it appears shortly.

23 June 2014

The new trio of geese have now been here for several weeks and have settled in well. A local friend took four of the original group, (now on burglar alert at her farm) while I retained two of the originals and added the three new young ones – that very usefully, are not related although mostly of the same breed – Sebastopol. I’m hoping this influx of new blood will produce a hatch or two of goslings in October too. As it is and as I write this, they are commenting loudly on someone who paused at the gate to turn around. Whovever that was went again, quickly.

And if I know anything about spammers, I bet that this post will shortly be cited in a number of spam comments attached to information about handbags, ugg boots, and various other merchandise that you’d have to pay ME to buy, what is it with these idiots…?

22 June 2014

Published 1999, paperback. Firebird books.

The truth is, and some readers will think it heresy, I never much liked Peter Beagle’s writing until I ran across this book. Jennifer Gluckstein moves with her mother to a 300-year-old farm in Dorset, England, to live with her new stepfather and stepbrothers, Julian and Tony. Jenny discovers Tamsin Willoughby, the ghost of the original farm’s owner’s daughter. Jenny befriends Tamsin and is drawn into reliving the tragedy of Tamsin’s peripheral involvement in the Monmouth Rebellion and through Tamsin finds herself confronting The Billy Blind, a pooka, the Wild Hunt, and the ghost of the notorious Judge Jeffries.
I found it a story that is engrossing on a number of levels and very re-readable. Since 1999 I’ve gone back and read it three times since the original reading and found it excellent each time. One of the fascinating things to me has been how very well the author, an elderly male, managed to transpose himself into the skin of a thirteen-year-old girl. I loved Jenny’s relationship with her cat as well. This is a terrific book and I recommend it strongly as a gift to any teenage girls in the family in particular, and to fantasy-lovers in general. It left me too feeling wistful that I am unlikely to ever visit Dorset.

15 June 2014

It did, a frost or two, about four inches of rain in 3 days, and everything outside is cold and soggy. Not too cold though, and the rain drains away fast from here so after a day of fine we aren’t so soggy either. The geese were quite please by the rain, that much and it fills a dip on the lawn and they can swim for a few hours. The hens were not pleased, mad as a wet hen isn’t only a saying, it typifies what I saw looking out in a line from under the hay-barn door. Displeased hens, who prefer not to be wet and feel – as usual – that I should do something about it. Sorry girls, I don’t control the rain no matter how much I’d like that. Although, come to think of it, trying to please farmers all over the world? No, I don’t think I want control of the weather.

Last night I watched a TV episode from World’s Scariest Animal Attacks, and it reminded me all over again of the old Victorian joke. This animal is dangerous, when attacked it defends itself. The series shows animal attacks, however most are not gratuitous but provoked. There is the man using a recently captured alligator in a demonstation – of what, apart from sadism I found it hard to decide. But while the cheering crowd looked on and applaused, the reptile was draged backwards again and again while a stick was repeatedly jabbed into its softer parts until in rage, pain, and terror, the alligator moved faster than its ‘handler’ had expected and sank its teeth into him. Then there were the African elephants. Swimming quietly, a tiny calf amongst them, when a pair of canoeists approached. What part of ‘wild elephants are very protective of their young‘ didn’t they get? But no, they approach so closely that the elephants felt the calf in danger and attacked the canoe. Everyone survived, but how unnecessary – and how stupid. There was also an anaconda, peacefully slithering through its territory when the wilderness guide for a TV presenter seizes it by the tail, hits it about the head, and waves the terrified and angry snake about like a trophy. No surprise that it latched on to the presenter’s arm and hung on like a pitbull as soon as the guide relaxed some of his grip and attention. Looking at this show it occurs to me that perhaps calling it World’s Scariest Human Attacks on Animals, might be closer to the truth. I have known a sufficiently panicked mouse to bite a cat, what is it about humans that they think this won’t apply to them with elephants, anacondas, alligators, and other creatures, because as the show amply demonstrates. It does apply!

Yup, a nasty tale of parental vengeance sold to OVER MY DEAD BODY magazine. I’ve signed contracts for WHAT ANY PARENT WOULD DO and look forward to seeing it appear. It surprises me, but on checking recently I find that I have sold work to them since 1994, not a bad longevity for either of us!

6 June 2014

Published May 2014, paperback, 20 stories, also bios, glossary. Minor internal (attractive) artwork

Reviewed Steve Johnson.

As a theme anthology this worked quite well. I didn’t like several of the stories, but all over it had more that I enjoyed than those that I didn’t, and some of the ‘didn’t’ was personal taste rather than quality. The opening story by Lorraine Williams, First Day On The Job, set the tone extremely well, and that continued through Lyn McConchie’s Unbroke to the Potter, (a terrific retelling of an old tale) past fine stories by Eileen Mueller, another by Ms Williams, and one from Tracie McBride. The anthology is more solidly linked to its theme than is usual with many theme anthologies and I felt that perhaps some of the authors had strained a bit to make that bond. Overall, however, a nice job, with cover, art, and presentation all well up to quality.

 

3 June 2014

There is nothing that infuriates us readers so much as a great author who quits and we don’t know why! Back in 2004 Roc published Lorna Freeeman’s first book in the Borderlands series, Covenants. It was great fantay, I loved it and waited eagerly for the next book, which arrived in 2006, The King’s Own. There was a long gap after that, a miserable four years, before we saw Shadows Past. But almost as soon as that was being read we were seeing that The Reckoning Flame was the next – except that while it may have been intended, mentioned, listed as that, it’s never appeared. The Lorna Freeman blogsite was last updated right at the start of 2011 and no more posts. Inquiries by a number of readers both to ROC and elsewhere have received no informative response.

We are left hanging, we don’t know if Lorna Freeman has died (under another name) has been struck for the past four years by terminal writer’s block, or if for some incomprehensible reason, ROC decided not to publish her next book, and don’t want to bring down the wrath of her devoted readers by admitting it. All we know is that book four has not been forthcoming and WE DON’T APPRECIATE IT! If anyone has any information on this, I’d love to know, because I bought her first book when it appeared, bought the next two, want to buy the fourth… fifth, sixth, seventh, ad infinitum. I love the books, the characters and the background. And I’m deprived. Anyone out there know anything?