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24 March 2017

URBAN LEGEND appeared in CRANIAL LEAKAGE Tales from the Grinning Skull Vol. 11 anthology. Nov. 2016. Yes, the print copy finally wandered in, no idea if it was going around in the mail for months or if it was sent after Christmas, but there it was and I’m very pleased. A classy presentation, interesting group of stories, and I was particularly pleased to see that story appear. It was one I wrote for an episodic novel years back and tried to get published in New Zealand.
As usual, not only no luck, but some idiot at one of the publishers suggested that the work was ‘too similar’ to some movie he’d once seen. I may add that I chased up his reference and discovered that the only thing movie and book remotely had in common was that they were ‘episodic.’ sigh.
So, since then I’ve been cannibalising the novel by selling single stories from it where I think an anthology would find one suitable, and by now I’ve sold most of the book. I regret I couldn’t get a book set here accepted here. But then, that’s applied to a lot of my writing over the years, and I can’t regret selling it elsewhere – and often being paid much better than I’d have been paid here. Swings and roundabouts.

yes, last weekend our village had a car boot fair down at the “Wop Wops”, the small park run by a local business (Norsewool) which features native eels amongst other items. I shot down at 10am on the scooter and bought books and raffle tickets. Great combination. I dived into the books at once – one at least will be excellent fodder for older books reviews I do for a UK magazine – while the raffle tickets provide pleasant anticipation for weeks until I hear the results.
And, still more happily, the next village to the north of us will be having their usual bookarama in May. My oldest friend tends to take me to that as my birthday present, and I can go really mad buying books then with both hands. Ah, as Andre used to say to me, “Cats, books, life is good.”

Sigh, temperatures were down again this morning and I’ve lit the fire. Thunder is – as usual – parked in front of it and I am blessing having a fire on behalf of both of us. It’s something I never considered when I was younger, that I’d feel the cold more when I got old. And, of course, my damaged leg has its own comments to make on any chill, particularly the sort of dank day when wet and cold combine. But the fire is going, I’m happy and so is the cat, and I don’t really mind getting old. As they say, it’s a heck of a lot better than the alternative!

15 March 2017

Yes, HARVEST TIME appeared in Robert Stephenson’s THE WORLDS OF SF, FANTASY, AND HORROR 2 from Altir Press. So far I have a perfect record, I’ve had a story in both anthologies. I can recommend these anthologies too, he gets authors from a wide range of countries, with stories that range even further, and I enjoy reading the book when it arrives. This one has a particularly striking cover as well, a stunning piece from Kirsi Solonan of Finland. A nice job all around.

My cat isn’t terribly happy just now, although he’s a lot happier than he was a week ago when he went into the vet for a complete WOF (Warrent of Fitness for those that don’t use the term.) He had blood tests, and all sorts of indignties visited upon him, and the conclusion was that his health wasn’t bad. However some of his teeth were, and he spent the night there, being operated on next morming and having five teeth extracted.
He came home Thursday night, sorry for himself, leapt out of his carrier, flung himself at my friend and I – he hadn’t seen me for a whole day and a half – and was cuddled. Then he bellowed for food. Didn’t I know those people hadn’t given him a single bite all the time they’d had him and he was STARVING? What I know is that he’s a liar, but I did feed him. He was fine that night and into Friday evening.
After which things caught up with him. His mouth hurt, he didn’t want to eat all Saturday and Sunday, no, he didn’t want yoghurt, but on Monday, um, yes, a little ham would be acceptable. So he had ham on Monday and Tuesday, after which he found that his appetite had returned and since then he’s been eating normally (In other words, anything at all he can get his paws on.)
Anything that is but his larger and harder dental biscuits, but then that’s understandable, so at the moment he’s eating Friskies and Diet Biscuits, and drinking lots, since I was told to keep him reasonably warm. And, of course, in the cussed way that things do, the weather promptly dropped temperatures a bit. So I’ve been running the freestanding enclosed fire since he came home, on very low, but enough to keep the house around 24-25 degrees which has seen him happily ensconced right beside it.
It’s the great disservice that animals do us, their lives are so much shorter, and Thunder was 13 last December. I know I won’t have him many more years and I’ll mourn when he goes, as I mourned Tiger before him, Tai before that, Rasti earlier, and my beloved Tigger and his mum earlier still, but it won’t be unexpected. To me it’s a fair trade. The companioned years more than ballance the sorrow when each loved friend is gone.
And to misquote something I heard years ago. Heaven will not heaven be, if my cats can’t be with me. (Although considering that Thunder does NOT like other cats, heaven, if I do get all my cats, is mainly going to be a series of ongoing cat fights…)

Like a bullet our world spins down the rifled barrel of change. I’ve watched change for 70+ years now and come to the conclusion that the bullet isn’t aimed. It’s sent in random directions, and we can never be sure what any direction will bring.
Change fired us up into the air,
we think we know both when and where,
but this suggestion I can project,
we’re bound to land where we didn’t expect.

5 March 2017

I enjoy writing new work, the revision is less popular, however I’ve spent much of my writing time over February revising what will eventually be CATACLYSM, the new Mandalay volume. Like its predecessor, this one too will contain three novellas, and a short story. The novellas come out one after the other a couple of months apart and as e-chapbooks, then, once all three have been published, they are gathered into a book along with the bonus story, and are then available for purchase as a complete volume. All the revision being now completed, and some of the galleys too, I am also starting to make notes for the next Holmes double, FOUND DEAD. Never a dull moment – happily.

Yup, as of Thursday I have a gorgeous black Arapawa ram on loan for a couple of months, he was persuaded out of the trailer, ambled through the gate, saw my ewes and accelerated considerably. So did my ewes – in his direction, I hasten to add. They met in the middle of the paddock, a woolly whirl, and I suspect by now at least one is in lamb. And when I looked at everyone this morning, they all looked very happy. He’s borrowed as I said, so – from hire to maternity?

There are times when I get reminded that we age in different ways. Several years ago I was about to have a general anesthetic, I’d been given the pre-op sedative and was drowsy when the quite young nurse arrived, and tried to open my mouth. I blinked up.
“What’re you doing?”
“I need to take your teeth out.”
“They’re mine,” I mumbled, reasonably as I thought.
The response was in a tone suitable for replying to a rather dim three-year-old. “I know, dear. I won’t take them away, they’ll be right here beside your bed when you come back.”
“You don’t understand, they’re mine.”
The tone was now definitely patronising. “Yes, dear, of course they are…”
A burst of irritated adrenalin woke me right up. “No, I mean they really are MINE! I don’t have false teeth.”
I received a rather disbelieving look. “What, not even a bridge?”
The nurse left – slowly – giving the impression she’d like to pry my mouth open and double-check that just in case. She would have found that it was. Unlike a lot of those of my age/generation I have my own teeth, not all of them, I’m missing half a dozen but I find no need for a bridge. However it seems that it may not be usual and the the default assumption seems to be that anyone my age automatically doesn’t have their own teeth. Otherwise why wouldn’t she ask, instead of trying to open my mouth and stick a hand in. And, considering my being somewhat sedated, she was lucky I woke up and asked, or she might succeeeded – and lost a finger.