Technological Imaginings

I have had a very poor week this week in terms of meeting the word count goals.  The modest goal of 500 words per day has been unreachable.  I have written not ONE word since Monday.  Take that as you will.

However, on Monday, what I did write, I had a sudden realization…  I had no idea what the Dimension Drive generator on ZHACC 193-II looks like! Ooops – what a thing to overlook!

So I spend the writing time on Monday imagining the drive, and the drive bay, and how the energy might be collected, transferred, used… by the time I was done, my head was spinning, but I feel good about it.

Why, I hear you ask, didn’t you just go ahead and use Faster Than Light, or other ‘hyperdrive’ type engines?  What’s wrong with ‘warp drive’ or ‘quantum drive’?  And yes, I’ll give you bonus points if you can match the drive type to the Sci-Fi series – just for fun, you understand.

The answer is… I’m sensitive, and I don’t want big, bad, clever fans to tear me to ribbons for my lack of scientific know how… so… my drive crosses boundaries between Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and that’s just fine with me.

As promised, also, here is a brief introduction to one of the two remaining doctors of the Use’Ara series.


Meet Doctor Kristoph Lyle (Nickname, Kris)

Lyle is a native of Earth, a British male in his late 40s, early 50s.  He was recruited to the Colonization Program out of a European University, where he was teaching a Theoretical Physics program with a special focus on Universal Dynamics. He was read into some highly classified information, and asked to ‘reverse engineer’ a working star ship drive from the information he was given.  A mathematical genius, and pretty much a savant when it comes to multi-dimensional astrophysics, he is not one to suffer fools, gladly or otherwise, and he can be extremely difficult to work with. A former colleague once said of him that he was bilingual in sarcasm, and derision. What he lacks in social graces, he more than makes up for in his expertise in areas where the Program, and in particular the expedition needs, and will need him the most.

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My Post Is Missing

Did that get your attention?

The post is not missing, obviously, you’re reading it after all.  What’s missing is my motivation… any of it. ALL of it. I am in a slump.

Is that a good word for it; for where I am – for what I am?

Eighteen percent of people in the US and fifteen percent of people worldwide suffer from some kind of mental health disorder. Four per cent of people worldwide suffer depressive disorders, and the same percentage of people from anxiety disorders, including Post Traumatic Stress, and yet mental health and the data collected concerning it all is ill defined, and poorly understood.*

I have been fighting depression on and off for around thirty years, and over the last few have manifested anxiety issues too, and you know…  it’s pure hell, not just for me, but for the people in my life, and that’s the thing I hate about it – hate about myself – the most.

Some things came to a head yesterday, and so today I find myself deep in the struggle with myself; deep in the need to make things better, to be better, to remind myself… remind myself that I am not as worthless as I feel myself to be, and that there is a way forward.

Feeling like this, so demotivated, there’s also the little voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m only going to fall behind with my goals and that will make me feel worse, which will trigger all the things I do that hurt, myself and others emotionally, which strengthens my depression – a wonderfully vicious circle.

I want to break this cycle, I do.  I want to find the person that I know I am, the loving, compassionate, creative, supportive, worthwhile person that I am – have always been – but who has become lost to me in the cage of this disease.

I want to say I make no apologies if this post, and my confession, make you feel uncomfortable, but… though I shouldn’t have to apologize, because of where I am, I do. Seriously though, mental health issues should not be something for which we apologize and there should be greater understanding, tolerance and support, and less of a stigma attached to those of us who suffer.

*Source of information: Our World In Data 
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Can You Hear the Silence?

As a writer, my other favorite activity is to read, read, read…

I’m often asked, ‘What is your favorite book,’ and I’ll be honest and say that I have no one overall favorite.  I have several that I adore, for various reasons, (and some that I detest for other reasons), so… from time to time I shall share my thoughts about some of my favorite, and least favorite books – and honestly, just because a book might be one of my least favorite, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad, just that it doesn’t match my taste.

I want to begin then by sharing my thoughts about a truly remarkable book – actually the whole series is amazing, and has a permanent place on my bookshelf.  That book is Duncton Wood, by William Horwood.

“Hers is the love of life itself and love with her is as big and strong as a great oak tree, with a thousand branches for its feelings and a million trembling leaves for its caresses. And because your heart was open to hers the love you found was far, far greater than the love each of you gave…”

Bracken to Cairn, of Rebecca.

As Rebecca spoke, Rose felt a great releasing flow through her body as if she was returning to a welcoming burrow whose nest was warm and where she could lay her head and sleep at last. She had only ever once heard another mole describe the force of compassionate love that pulls a healer from her burrow, however weary she may be, so that she may find the strength to tend and cherish the distressed and sick… if only she had the power to save this young creature from the pain and suffering becoming a healer seemed so often to bring.

Rose, thinking of Rebecca

From Duncton Wood by Willam Horwood.

It perhaps seems a strange vehicle through which to explore the subject of love and loss, and courage and healing, but speaking for the healers among my guides, I believe he does it very well and manages to make you almost forget that it’s moles whose struggles you are reading and sharing through the 730 pages of a book that’s hard to put down.

Duncton Wood tells the tale of a community of moles and their searches to find what is the center of the souls of all-moles, through the interconnected lives of a small group of moles whose struggles so easily match those of the human condition that it is very easy to relate to.

There is Bracken, a male, whose isolation and skills in pathfinding, and whose natural curiosity, lead him to become somewhat of a philosophical explorer who comes to see the sacredness of the ancient system his people have long since abandoned. Through the course of the book he becomes a revered warrior mole , very reminiscent of holy code-guided warriors such as Samauri. One day, by accident, he meets Rebecca, whom he ultimately comes to love, but his and Rebecca’s love is tested and long in coming to fruition through many hard fought trials.

Rebecca is the daughter of a mole who is much feared and whose impact on the system to which he travels is devastating. However, Rebecca’s love and life carries her beyond her father’s influence. That’s not to say, of course, that she does not face many things in her life until she ultimately finds joy in her love of Bracken through the Silence of the Stone ~ the spiritual force that guides all moles.

Finally there is Boswell, a holy scribe-mole whose personal quest is the discovery of the seventh and final holy Stillstone and accompanying book. his tale becomes entwined with that of Bracken and Rebecca, whom he comes to love deeply. His quest takes him around the far reaches of moledom before bringing him right back to where he began his search ~ and ultimately to himself and all moles.

Through these moles, Horwood explores quite deeply such issues as the nature of the divine and the existence of ‘god.’ He explores love and loyalty, loss and faith, courage and compassion ~ all those things and often leave us, the reader, gasping for breath and reaching for the nearest box of Kleenex.

The writing is beautiful, honest, elegant and simple, and often the reader is encouraged to believe that they are crouching in the warmth of a burrow, listening with awe to the tales of these legendary moles whose trials might remind us that with all of those qualities, if we embrace them, we might just survive, or better still, approach a holy bliss ourselves.

As a treaty on love, it often had me thinking on the beauty and depth of my own love for my spouse. As a treaty on what makes a healer, I defy any healer not to associate with moles such as Rose or Rebecca. A strange vehicle for the philosophies he explores, perhaps, but William Horwood has created, in my eyes at least, a beautiful and very special story.

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Presenting The Unseen World

How do you present a main premise that dwells within the realms of an alternative spirituality in an environment where many, if not most, do not share it?

Ethne Cross is pagan, and is psychic – one could describe her as a mystic. She is also a ‘spiritual warrior,’ and as such, since she is one of the main protagonists in Butterfly Raven, the underlying sense and feeling of the novel is going to be one grounded in an alternative spirituality, and will include experiences and concepts that are foreign to those that do not follow a pagan, or other spiritually alternative – by which I mean generally not one, “Of The Book.”

You could say that by this argument, how could any writer of Science Fiction or Fantasy, where the environment and experiences are outside of the normal, an author would run into the same issue, (and as one who writes SF&F I can say), you’d be right, but setting Butterfly Raven in the ‘real world’ yet with an undercurrent of ‘unseen world’ presents a whole other set of issues. The biggest among them is how do you present all of this without the main character (or the entire text) seeming insane.

Well, that’s where we find Ethne right at the beginning of the novel.  She has shut herself away from society in her secluded home, and when Daniel – the brother of her estranged lover – arrives on her doorstep, she challenges him:

“How dare you!” She beat her fists against him, pushing him back a step. “Your lies stole…!  Does he know you’re here?  What the hell do you want? Isn’t three years… four… enough?”

Because, as we later learn, she had been ‘committed’ later released, but has lived for all that time in the shadow of all that her reality led her to suffer at the hands of her institutionalization.

So the question is… what makes you believe in the unseen world?

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Sanctuary In A Storm Of Crazy

My week has been a tiny bit insane, with a great deal of dis-ease thrown in for good measure. Case in point, the fact that this blog post is coming out today, and not yesterday. Apologies for that – we lost power in the storms yesterday.

Thank, then, the gods, and the powers of the Universe for the inner landscape of peace that I maintain in the Cedar Grove… and that I can find my way once more.

Just a few short minutes each day – for me it’s ten precious, quiet, inner minutes to myself and communion with my guides, that has returned me to my Sanctuary from all the troubles and the unbalances that each of us faces on a daily basis.

I began meditating, in one form or another, a long time ago – hold on a moment while I do the math – some thirty-two years since.  At first, I struggled. I struggled immensely, because back then ‘meditation’ meant ’empty your mind and think of nothing.’

It took a while before I found another way, through my journey along a pagan and Wiccan spiritual path. I was learning from an unmatched practitioner from the south of the UK. Part of that learning included an extensive reading list, including Creative Visualization, by celebrated author Shakti Gawain, who passed in November of last year after complications from hip surgery.  It was her book, and the exercises and practices in that book that led me, at that time, into a meditation practice that worked for me.

As the years progressed through the practice of meditative, creative visualization, and my own journey along a magical pathway, the Cedar Grove became my own, personal place of peace, to which I retreat, which I visit to engage in inner healing, deep thinking, and magical workings

Or used to…

After a period in which I let my spirituality and inner practices lapse, I lost my way to my grove and for a long time, could not find my way back.  Then, on a cruise – a Star Trek cruise of all places – I went to a session led by one of the celebrities on board, and was introduced to the practice of ‘Mindful Meditation’ and mindfulness.

Problem’s I had previously had about ’emptying the mind’ didn’t and don’t apply, and I realized that in my previous spiritual practice (outside of the meditation I’ve spoken of here), I was engaging in ‘mindfulness.’

I embraced it fully, found it familiar, and comforting – and right (for me). It is through mindfulness that I have found my way back to my spiritual home, and once more hear my guides, and I am beginning to find my way in living my spirituality once more.

I wouldn’t ever suggest or insist that it would work for everyone or even that everyone would be comfortable with it, but I would urge anyone that feels any level of interest to look into Mindfulness and decide for themselves whether they believe it would be helpful for them.  I have found this site to be helpful.

I would be interested to hear what people think of Mindfulness, and how they get on working and living in a more mindful way if they choose to walk that path.

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Goals and Character Curve Balls

Those of you who follow my blog may remember that I set myself a deadline at the beginning of the April,  That deadline is September 30th, by which time I will have completed the full first draft of Use’Ara: Harm.  I anticipate that the novel will be approximately 90,000 words.  I did the math… and rounding up to the nearest 100, that means I need to write a minimum of 500 words each day for those six months.

Since last week, I am on target for that, but only because last Saturday and Sunday I had two very good writing days where I hit around 3000 words each of those two days.  Then I hit the working week, and it all went to pond-sludge.

Monday, nada. Tuesday a whopping 166 words.  Wednesday came close with 477 words and then yesterday, bullseye! I actually hit the target – exceeded it a little.  For those of you, though, who are out there saying any variation of, “Don’t beat yourself up, you gave yourself a buffer at the weekend,” or “You can always catch up next weekend.”  Don’t. It doesn’t work like that, not for me.  If I gave myself a daily target and then I miss that target, I didn’t make the daily target.  Weekly target, yes… on track for that, but it’s the little things – you know?

Last weekend, also, I realized that the way I had wanted to write the story, wasn’t going to work. Too many things would have to be known at specific times in order to make the whole thing make sense, and… sadly, trying to coordinate that, organize that needed a bigger piece of paper or more sticky notes that I had.  While it might look – if you count the number of journals I possess that I haven’t written in yet – that I own shares in Staples, and Barnes and Noble, I wasn’t going to go there, so I had to rethink the way I was going to do things beyond the ‘prelude.’  That’s okay though, moving on…

A major viewpoint character I’ve been writing with this week is Dr. Darien Affrar. You know how, when you start talking with a character, getting to know them, they turn around sometimes and tell you, “That’s not me.  This is me.” Well… yes, that’s exactly what Darien did to me yesterday, and it turns out he has a few secrets, that throw a significant curve ball into the old mind map. I was never under any illusion that that particular document was written in stone. I knew it would evolve as characters and events unfolded during the writing process, and… I’m sort of excited to hear these secrets of his, and how they effect, and will effect life on Use’Ara Prime.

One of his secrets involves one of two characters that I had anticipated popping up later in the series, but who actually put in their first appearance in Harm. They are Professor Lance Corbin, and Doctor Kristoph Lyle, and just to tease for next week’s blog post – when I know them a little better – you will get to meet them then.

Have a great week all, and to all those writers out there – keep writing!

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Pilgrimage To Life

I have previously expressed that I am dreadful at flash fiction. The only way to get better at something is to practice.  So, I have decided that I will do just that.  I will most likely, in the future, host the fiction on my website (which I badly need to edit, it’s so out of date just now), but for now, I’m posting my first – recent – attempt here, and I hope that you enjoy it.

She emerged into the writhing mass and warm sand scratched against her drying, leathery skin. Her head pushed upward with an urgency matched by those around her; to reach open air; to reach the ocean; to be first among her siblings. To survive.

Moonlight, rays of it, illuminated the pockmarked path toward the foamy caress of the ocean’s sussurating song, a lullaby of longing that tugged at her heart as she broke free and joined the pilgrimage toward life.

Old Turtle turned languidly in the water, ancient flippers moving a slow caress as she swam in the tide of memory.

(Inspired by the T-shirt I wore yesterday), 100 Words.

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