The Rambling Writer’s Greek Travels, Part 11: Dolphins and Island-Hopping

This series started on Oct. 15 and continues every other Saturday. I’m taking a trip back in time to my 4-month backpacking rambles around Greece in the early 1980s, which planted the seed for my recent novel The Ariadne Connection. Now, as I work on the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect, I’m reflecting on the ways a writer’s experience can be transformed into fiction. I hope you find the journey illuminating, or at least entertaining.

Again, I apologize for the quality of the few photos I’ve been able to recover from storage; most of these below are borrowed. 

I’m rambling at the moment near the border of Mexico and Belize, so I’ll make this a quick nostalgic trip through the Greek Cyclades islands. I’m VERY excited to be planning a return trip to Greece and the islands this fall, to renew my connection with those mythical, magical lands and seas. Continue reading

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New Worlds: Natural Disasters

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

When “natural disasters” wandered through my head as a possible thing to post about, I found myself thinking, Is that really a worldbuilding topic? Aren’t natural disasters more of a plot element?

That type of thinking is exactly why I want to talk about natural disasters as an aspect of worldbuilding.

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A Tricoastal Woman: What Worked in School

mimeographWhen I was in high school, the teacher of the first period class read the school-wide announcements to us at the start of class. The announcements were prepared the day before by the school secretary, who typed them up on mimeograph sheets and then ran them off.

If you are too young to have ever fussed with mimeograph, be grateful. To use it, you had to type on a stencil, and making corrections required putting a blob of something on it and then typing over that when it dried. The copies came out in a bluish ink that wasn’t always all that readable.

My senior year, I had English first period with Miss Kee, who was likely in her early 60s back then and was widely seen as the dean of the English department (although I don’t think there was such a position). She read the announcements very slowly, stopping to mark typos and grammatical errors as she went along. It always took her at least five minutes to get through them.

I am told she used to take the corrections to the secretary, who found this infuriating. Ah, the microaggressions of the workplace! Continue reading

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Afternoon Tea for Beginners

Recently, some folks in the Facebook Wisteria Tearoom Group were talking about hosting tea for their friends, and I realized from their conversation that many members of the group had never done that.

This came as a complete shock to me.

I have been a tea enthusiast for so long that I took for granted everyone knew how to host a tea party. Certainly, it can be an effort if the party is elaborate, but to me a simple gathering is a snap: pot of tea, a few TLS (Those Little Sandwiches) to nibble, some scones and a sweet, and you’re set.

I blush to admit that it didn’t occur to me that not everyone has a teapot, or cups and saucers.
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Writing Promptly

Last week in doing some cleaning up, I came on a pile of writing exercises from the several years I was in my first West Coast writing group. Each meeting a member would bring in a different exercise that we would do before the critiquing began (but after the first wave of socializing had passed). These exercises were fun–some more than others, of course, but over-all, fun–and allowed us all to get our writing going fluidly in a no-stakes sort of way.

What sort of exercises? As I said, that depended on what that session’s provider dreamed up. Write a time travel story from the point of view of the cat. Include the following six words. Depict a setting without actually describing it. Continue reading

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BVC Announces Aura of Magic by Patricia Rice

Aura of Magic by Patricia RiceAura of Magic
Unexpected Magic Book 4
by Patricia Rice

Brighid Darrow, Countess of Carstairs, has endured years of a loveless marriage in order to aid her friends and the people of Northridge. Yet once she is widowed, the village shuns her with accusations of witchcraft–vilifying her unique gift of reading auras. Released from past restraints, Bridey rebelliously embraces her dream of establishing a forbidden school for midwives. Continue reading

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Month of Museums #5: Back to the Classics…

There’s actually a link back to the previous museum here, because one of the SFM traveling exhibitions is due to appear at the Norton Museum of Art, in West Palm Beach.Been there. Saw that.It’s got a helluva bad website, apparently, because it’s really hard to get anything much out of there – but the place was a nice enough and inviting architectural space with courtyards and palm trees and nice cool interiors. It had some fairly high-faluting pieces of art including, as I recall, a Mondrian, which prompted a discussion between rdeck and me about art and the quality of art and the eye of the beholder. We were talking about the Mondrian trademark painting, the kind his name has become synonymous with- the painting of large interlocking black lines with the occasional square produced by these intesecting lines being coloured red or yellow or orange – you know, the sort of thing. (More on Mondrian here if you want to go look)I don’t know. I stare and stare and I see nothing there but something that might have been a magnified image lifted out of some great city’s Underground map. If I concentrate, I can see the Circle Line in there somewhere, I feel as though I ought to be going through my pockets for my Tube tickets or my Oyster card or my NYC Subway pass. My husband kinda sorta agreed, but then mused upon the time that he was once shown a “real” Mondrian and a generic copy by somebody else, and you know, you could tell which was the genuine article. Which I suppose is the point of art, in the end – to have a message that’s unique and which conveys… SOMETHING. Something that can’t be copied or counterfeited easily. The lines might translate – the soul behind the human being who made them, does not, somehow. And it is possible for the observer to tell the difference.

But the Mondrian discussion was not why I hold the Norton in tender memory. Continue reading

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Consideration of Works Present: Sully

(Picture from here.)

I saw the film Sully last night (Starring Tom Hanks. Directed by Clint Eastwood.) and found it both compelling and irritating.

The directing was quite good and Tom Hanks’ performance was quite good. The film is about Chesley Sullenberger, or “Sully”, who was the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 . This is the flight out of La Guardia where geese flew into the engines of an Airbus A320-214 causing both engines to cease to function. Captain Sullenberger had to land in the Hudson River.

The film is structured not directly around the flight (though, of course, the flight is central) but the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) investigation subsequent to the water landing.

And here’s where the irritation arises. Continue reading

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Authorized Cruelty, take two

A week or so back, when the latest Marvel film, Logan, came out, I saw several posts about how bleak and violent the film was. Though most praised it for the sense of brotherhood between Logan and Charles, and toward the feral children they find, a number of commenters expressed their reviews in such a way that seemed to make a virtue of having sat through two hours of cinematic brutality.

That and a brief, somewhat superficial nod to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in Newsweek  around the same time the film was released got me to thinking about the blurring lines between heroes and villains.

This is not a new subject. A couple years back, we had a vigorous discussion right here about violence, protagonists, antagonists, and the bread and circuses appeal of dark fiction in which villains and heroes are not as clearly defined as they once were, with a spin-off here.

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New Worlds: The Shape of the World

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

I’ve been re-reading the comic book series Elfquest lately, the setting of which is usually referred to as the World of Two Moons — for the very simple and obvious reason that there are two moons in the sky.

This is surprisingly rare in fantasy.

Science fiction, sure. Having multiple moons in the sky, or multiple suns, or planetary rings, is a quick and easy way to signal “alien world” to the reader. But in fantasy it’s almost always just one sun and one moon, lighting a world that is either a round ball or unspecified in shape. I can name a few exceptions, of course. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld is famously named for the fact that it really is a flat disc sitting atop the backs of four elephants which themselves stand on the back of the great turtle A’Tuin, who swims through the void of space. Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third* book of the Chronicles of Narnia, features the protagonists sailing to the eastern edge of what appears to be a flat world. And in Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky trilogy, the contents of the heavens depend on whose territory you’re in; cross a border (or get conquered), and the sky can change completely. I’m sure there are others — feel free to suggest some in the comments! But by and large, this isn’t an aspect of the world that most fantasy writers bother to fiddle with.

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