And Another Thing Concerning Odd Motivations

This is subsequent to the post

From Unexpected Places (Something Concerning Odd Motivations)

Concerning the throw away ending “And I do believe I have inadvertently created a template for a book cover.”, this comment related to the image I had created for the post:

Inspiration and Themes

Occasionally one of the Muses nudges me off to Canva https://www.canva.com/en_gb/ to see what can be created from its free images and various tools. Of late when manoeuvring multiple images, I decided to experiment with its ‘Transparency’ facility (top right of the horizontal menu bar, look out for the square made up of squares, fading left to right). This allows you to click onto an image placed on top of another, then drawing the cursor from right to left reducing the depth of the image from 100%, until you have a suitable transparent effect. This allows you create a montage, as you will see above. With some careful twiddling (excuse the technological language) you can click from image to image nuancing the depths of each. Because Canva tends to give you geometric borders to each image using Transparency allows you to diminish or accentuate the borders as you see fit. And you can spend a quite fun-filled creative interlude exploring possibilities.

So, to elaborate on the theme of the previous post I called in Canva. Because the tale in question takes elements of SF with ten dimensions involved and one of those ‘palace’ plots beloved of High Fantasy, there are bound to twists and oddities in all direction, plus some mischief. I therefore wanted a montage, chaotic yet with some geometry involved (Quantum influence). The first image was paradoxically a fantasy castle but overlaid with a galactic scene to set the theme of drifting through realities. After this some pastoral, a smidge of steampunk, over on the top left the faint outline of a pixie/fairy and diagonally opposite another piece of starscape, for contrast. Then eyesEyes are always good to add ‘that air’. Finally in the bottom left corner the faint hint of mischief. I have to admit I was pleased.  There may be a little bit of tinkering, only a smidge though.

The great benefit being the influence images, physical, musical or mental have on my writing. It would not be the first time the book cover influenced my final draft. On this occasion the cover nearly preceded the plot, and now firmly set in my mind, the cover draws me on. For The Cover must have a book worthy of the image. Maybe not the most secure or highly recommended of approaches to drafting a novel, and yet one which is proving worthwhile for dragging me out of a bit of a ditch.  

Inspiration. You just have to love the unpredictability of Inspiration.  

From Unexpected Places (Something Concerning Odd Motivations)

Inspiration and Themes

It’s another ‘You know how it goes’ . You’ve finished your latest work, truly finished. The end was reached the several re-writes, editings, and other associated efforts have been navigated. (Including the occasional episode when the book cover was being put in place, the artist adds a little something and you thought ‘Wow, I have to fit that into the narrative!! ‘ And under the spell of the image you unravel some little part……). All this attended to by one means or another your work is then made available to the public and belongs unto the Ages.

Thus, should follow an interlude of rest and repose. Working at a factory pace does not suit Creativity or Perspective. A writer should not find, one morning their writing has become a chore they feel they must do. Writing should either come from the joy or the restlessness to see ideas taking shape as words. A ‘Because’ not a ‘Have To’.

So time to look at a Fantasy idea. There might be promise there. I would attend. I started.

And stopped. Basically, although there were a couple of amusing bits, it was not working; the word ‘Re-hash’ kept cropping up whenever I read the day’s output. Ah well, something to be left for another day….

Time to revisit the Quantum Space Opera project. On to the opening chapter. There was that word ‘Re-hash’ again. Seems I had invested so much time and effort into my previous project my creativity was still running on the loop. BlogBattle challenges were welcome, making me move elsewhere, but left to my own devices I was running in that loop. The one hope I had was another word… ‘Screwball’ as in 1930s and 1940s Comedy Films, in short when stuck, look for something outside of Serious. There was inspiration here because when scrolling through the Audio Book selection of SF, and seeing the endless lists of Genocidal Aliens, Ancient Long Forgotten Evils, Another Colonial Marines / WH40K Space Marines series one phrase kept popping into my creative mind when relating to the evil protagonists…. ‘Their heads fell off’; it broke the monotony. Thinking there might be a start of a way out, I pondered on this phrase. Now obviously such a gem had to be used sparingly, or if the pace was very fast with mocking frequency. The plot still eluded me though. Even the great Robert Sheckley would not build an entire book around heads falling off, maybe a chapter or paragraph here or there but he was a master of his art / craft. No, the whole structure needed more thought. Still, it was a start.

Buoyed by this slender hope, the musing phase started, as to what would prompt such a statement and where would the exclamation or discovery fit it. Musing on such an aspect does not require a serious frame of mind; irreverently speculative would be a better turn of phrase. Such a state is of course very volatile and unpredictable. In consequence it was with some delight, although not surprise, that bursting into the musing came a small scenario drenched with very inappropriate and excessively farcical humour based on a misunderstanding in verbal translation. There were inane sniggers, for it is a fact of Male Human Nature that no matter their age, life experience, social standing or professional achievements no man ever rids himself of that adolescent streak. However, this ‘situation’ arose, the attendant, events leading up to, social interactions, ramifications, motivations etc were causing the dust of musing to coalesce. The original slender thread of the plot began to take on shape, birthed by an urge to place both comic ideas into some context. They would only be additions of course to a deeper and wider narrative, but in doing so gave some basis and inspiration for getting there. ‘The plot became the thing, wherein the comedy I could bring’ (sorry about that Mr. Shakespeare- no apologies to you Hamlet, to me you always were a royal pain)

Now the words and the possibilities are forming with some ease. Being of the ‘Pantser’ school I have not much of an idea where this particular project is going to go. But if I did, where would the fun in that be?? No, I’m just going enjoy the whole uncertainty happy in the security of the knowledge someone, somewhere, will be involved in a humorously unfortunate incident and some group with suffer from sudden detachment of heads.

Oh, in case anyone was wondering. The Quantum aspect? In comparison with starting a plot for a book, simply no trouble at all to fit in.

Here’s to Inspiration, no matter where or how the dear muse should turn up.

And I do believe I have inadvertently created a template for a book cover.

Grieving A Writing Life

A blog post of much depth and wisdom. Every writer should read this.

K.M. Allan

When you start out in the writing community, you’re learning, and part of that process is seeing those before you rise.

Just as you’re entering the query trenches, there are others being lifted out of them with agent representation and publishing deals, and you wait patiently for the day that person will be you.

Before you know it, years have gone by. You’ve been part of the writing community for a long time, helping those who are now the newbie you once were.

Experienced in the query trenches, you’ve seen it all, gotten every rejection type there is: the no answer, the form letter, the good but not good enough. You might have even hit that 100 rejections goal you’d heard other writers talk about but never thought you’d reach because your MS was too good. At least you thought so.

You might have rewritten it since those lofty…

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Those Jagged Remedies (June#BlogBattle-Scar)

Scars

Intent: cold and raw. A precise mix sufficient to clear your senses. Visceral, held in check by the focus which in turn fed back on that which it supressed. All was balanced for the work ahead.

The figure finally moved out of its cover, slow, patient progress to the campsite, watching the two slouching, complacent guards. The figure did not take anything for granted though, only moving when the guards shuffled off away from the interloper’s planned route.

The plan was clear enough, its execution requiring enduring caution, stealth and concentration. Acceptance of a long night essential.

‘Medician.’

Eight years’ service, Principal Lieutenant Vragen by custom accepted an audible oath as the first sound to leave the lips of a soldier dragged out of sleep. Even dodging the small pillow, sent with some accuracy, considering the dispatcher’s eye were still closed. Eyes widened on seeing the target’s rank.

‘My apologies, Principal Lieutenant. Albeit deep in the first sleep after two days and nights of toil. That was indefensible. What are your orders sir?’

By the time the disciplined apology seasoned with an excuse had reached his ears the soldier was out of bed at an attention which despite the baggy nightgown would do credit to a parade ground. Remarkable recovery, but not swift enough to tame the twinkle in the eyes and the faint twist to the right corner of the mouth. Working the arts of interrogation and investigation gave you an edge in observation.

‘Place yourself at ease Medician. I shall overlook the pillow. Reflexes in the best traditions of the LifeGuard.’ there was a brief exchange of restrained grins ‘I am here to call upon your skills. We are required to supply a miracle. In this case the saving, not taking of a life,’

He was but half way through the opening of the explanation when she uncaring of his presence, pulled off her nightgown, and began to dress into uniform clothing. Her body marked with scars of service and personal shaves with death.

‘Somebody of note Principal Lieutenant?’ she asked.

‘Lord Lemp’s son Idjel,’

‘I thought,’ she said combing fair hair into order ‘he was out somewhere learning,’ -a sarcastic tone entered her voice- ‘a soldier’s trade?’

‘His father purchased a commission, in The Hounds Vigilant,’ their sarcastic exchanged continued, her next contribution a harsh bark of a laugh.

Dressed and gathering up her medical supplies, she continued.

‘Learning how to avoid proper combat and which are the best villages to terrorise and sack, all in the name of the Emperor,’

‘Still not deemed of official concern to the LifeGuard I fear,’ he said in finality.

Their arrival was greeted by a flustered Lord Lemp, the close presence of a LifeGuard outpost being a very mixed blessing to lesser nobles. To his due, Lemp currently embraced the blessing aspect with effusive thanks for their swiftness. Vragen was all diplomacy, any opportunity for investigation was to be grasped. His medician however was for grim efficiency. With a brief, civil request to ‘see the patient’ she set the lord and his senior officials scuttling off, she at their heels like a shepherding dog, her officer in their wake.

At the door of the bedroom, coat and hat removed, hair secured under a tight cap, while hands washed in an astringent of her own, and ignoring the initial goggling that there was a woman here, her emotionless interrogation of the circumstances began. Where had he been? When did this come to the attention of his father? Had they given him any treatments yet?

‘Hmm. Down in Hegohel. Yes. There are three strains of plague there. A day out from coming home with escort? Really? Staggered in by himself? Principal Lieutenant sir. The previous camp needs to be traced and eradicated sir. Expeditiously, sir,’

And having given that command to her commander, she entered the room. Alone.

Yes, a befouled mess, already. Facial skin reddened in patches. Lost in a delirium. Sweating. Threshing too. Not even the lowest of servants attending. The word Plague was enough to let The Fear out. Even mild ones which left the suffered scarred and thus marked. She hitched on her face mask and eased on her slender leather gloves. To work then.

Since there was no one around she dealt with the threshing by kneeling her full weight on his chest, in other situations a man would pay good money for such treatment. In a perfunctory manner she clutched his face, twisting it to right and left, leaned in, he inadvertently helped by screaming in pain, allowing her a good view of mouth and upper throat. In equally unsympathetic manner she examined other parts, his weakness stifling true resistance. Yes, definitely 

Outside she deftly removed cap and gloves, dropped them into a nearby ornamental urn and having washed her hands in astringent emptied some into the said receptacle. She regarded the assembled quartet.

‘Carmine Furusio,’ she announced and raised one hand to still panic ‘It does not travel by air, not even casual touch. Uncleanliness is the cause. It’s curable. The problem is with cadavers, other illnesses can fester. The camp and burn everything, Principal Lieutenant, especially bodies, no survivors. The Good Lord God knows what else mercenaries carry under their skin. Now please, Principal Lieutenant, sir,

Witnessing the prompt exit Lord Lemp, was taken a’ back at the authority these Medicians carried. He did not even question her peremptory tone when she addressed everyone as to what she would require for assist, nor confirmation she would attend to this alone. There was relief on that score.

First, the sight of the carrion birds, then the audible sound of flies, of course the stench and finally the stillness of the camp. Vragen did not have to command the party to halt. Taking a page from the Medician’s book, on dismounting he covered his face and hands, approached slowly, studied the first body. By the distance from the perimeter he guessed the fellow had tried to flee. Some of the horses had broken from tethering, others had survived by reducing the grass around them. No sign of plague. He let them loose, they made for a stream. He returned to the first body avoiding the others. All very sudden, this attack of plague.

He gave the order to collect the first kindling, to start an initial fire allowing safe ground to build a bigger base for another ring of fire,  moving over more scorched land, poking roasted bodies closer in, until the dead were piled into one place and the last great fire started. The Medician had trusted him with the overseeing. The men did too.

Upon returning he found Lord Lemp in a mixed state, agitated, relieved and concerned all at once. If there was not such an air of death about the sight might have seemed comic. Without waiting for the dismount he addressed Vragen.

‘My son lives,’ he said, although the joy was tempered with distraction ‘The Medician remained with him all the past day, night and this day too,’

A loud keening came from the room one flight above them, Lemp glanced upwards, his mouth working while his brain sought words.

‘It seems he must lose one leg. A pernicious infection, she told me. She is about the business now,’ a hope born of desperation into his voice ‘She assures me he will not feel too much pain, there are potions y’see,’

Smoke drifted across the courtyard.

‘She is most meticulous. Insists everything is burnt; to ashes. Says it will halt any progression. We all have to wash our hands too.’ A nervous laugh followed. She’d unsettled the man, Vragen was certain. A signature trait she forcefully employed when encountering negligible but unpleasant folk. The thin mouth, cold remote tone, and dark eyes, the unrelenting stare could curled you. Even more damned unsettling when you knew how cheerful, chatty and mischievous she could be with most folk.

The sound pitched to a sharp screech and as quickly into a moan, and silence. A small audience look upwards, expectant, waiting for the announcement. No doubt, Vragen reckoned, as ordered.

The window flew open, the face gaunt and severe looked down.

‘The leg has been successfully removed,’ she called out, clear and composed ‘Just above the knee, the area cauterised. Squire Idjel has lapsed into acceptable unconsciousness. I require assistance in cleaning and cleansing. The risk of Plague transference has ceased,’

And the window was closed.

The Medician stood before the Lord Vragen felt the rolls might be reversed. She presented two bottles of dark wine coloured mix.

‘Your son will live. Though, Lord, he will be without the vitality associated with a man of his age. This is Extract of Herstel. Ensure he has one quarter wine cup of this each day until both bottles are finished, this will aid his progress. Some would say you should give him a stronger dose. The LifeGuard does not recommend this.’

The duo rode away, they examined the ground scored by fire. The Medician grunted some acceptance. Vragen asked her if Idjel would truly live.

‘I cannot say for certain, Principal Lieutenant, sir. The fellow was weakened. It depends on the care he now receives. In body, heart and soul.’

Vragen was writing his report, based upon The Medician’s own brief, terse account. He was musing not just on the sparseness but her reply to his question of Idjel’s survival.

Vragen’s experience tapped at him. In this case, by her tone and expression she might as well have said ‘Don’t know. Don’t care,’

Some might have admired her composure and dedication dealing with any plague victim. Yet her actions did fit with her attitude, in particular to someone who had ridden with one of the most undisciplined and battle-shy mercenaries of the empire. Consider The LifeGuard’s institutional acceptance of medicians’ inclinations to be covert executioners of folk they judged unworthy to live. She had had ample expert opportunity to ensure the fellow died. No local would have suspected. Instead, she had left with gratitude about her.

Long enough in one area of expertise could leave you agitated as well as alert. Investigation work enabled you to know which references to go to.

Even an outpost of LifeGuard held a sufficiently basic reference library of works, political, cultural, religious and medical. The latter being of his current interest.

‘Carmine Furusio,’. The ailment was indeed one of the more modest afflictions; practitioners opinions seemed sanguine. The symptoms did remind him of encounters in his career. He moved to chapters on poisons. ‘Cremisi Astuto’. Both tuscatalian phrases alluding to red, the former plague, but the latter, no, translated to ‘astute’. Ideal name. Similar symptoms. Only always deadly. Made more sense. Plague camps had bodies lying in parody of repose; this one, they had been scattered, fallen, giving impressions of prior staggering.

Someone had struck, carefully at night. Cooking pots, wine barrels. Revenge upon one group or just a targeting of mercenaries. How had Idjel survived? Easiest part. His own supplies, the last victim when poison was running out. Fleeing in fear at the sudden deaths. Whoever could answer was long gone. A fair reasoning.

The Medician would have surmised the difference too. She covered for them adding her own nuances on the survivor. Had the amputation been necessary? What weaknesses had been left to pervade? A miserable fate. And her parting words, a LifeGuard caution on medication. Most nobility chaffed at LifeGuard strictures. Her words a positive dare to do so. A carefully planted verbal toxin; belated execution by circuitous default.

And evidence burnt.

Motive? Swift undressing had revealed four close, long, narrow pale scars down her arm. A woman’s nails. Medicians made light of small injuries unconsciously inflicted by patients in torment. Dying of multiple rapes, or sadistic injuries, driven mad at death of children..

One man’s prolonged torment both symbolic justice and a balm for scars to limb and soul? How many other applications? Before and to come?

https://bbprompt.com/2022/06/03/june-blogbattle-scar/

The Capitol Police Gave Their All

Lest we forget

annieasksyou...

Image from Georgia Recorder(*)

In Honor of Caroline Edwards, Witness at the January 6th Committee’s First Public Hearing, and Her Colleagues

T he lovely, nails-tough cop described the
H ell raining down upon them.
E nduring torment, taunts, and trauma, they

C ontributed their very lives to save
A building, institution, lawmakers—all
P rey to a mob of fury-blinded
I nsurrectionists whose Chief insisted
T hat it was they who were in the right.
O nly now do we fully see the brilliant
L ight their heroism shone as trained thugs

P ressed against them,
O verwhelmed them.
L isten to her searing words:
“I t was carnage, it was
C haos…I wasn’t trained for warfare.”
E xcruciatingly, she detailed the horrors,

G raphically told of slipping in her fellows’ blood
A nd wiping clean their spray-pierced eyes til
V eils of spray descended on her own,
E xhausting…

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Call For Attention: World Day Against Child Labor

The Human Lens

On World Day Against Child Labor, renewed calls have been made across the globe that call attention and immediate action against this rising phenomenon that robs young people out of their “childhoods.”

The International Labour Organization (ILO) started observing World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 with an aim to highlight the plight of children who are the victims of child labour.

It is a special day that serves as a reminder to global community to guarantee actions that are based on children’s social and cultural protection in their communities at large.

This year’s theme is “Universal Social Protection to End Child Labour” and heavy focus is maintained on creating increased investment in social protection schemes and systems to develop solid social protection mechanisms for protection from child labour.

Despite significant advancement in the fight against child labor, the pace has slowed down especially since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

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June #BlogBattle: Scar

This site is well worth a visit. It’s friendly, helpful and a very good place to hone your art and craft.

BlogBattle

June 2022 Blog Battle

Right-click & ‘Save As’ one or both of these images to share on social media!

Our word this month is:

Scar

You can start writing at any time, but make sure you post your story by the

17th of June

to have a link shared here and on social media.

Once you’ve posted your story to your blog, put a link to it in the comments section, and we’ll add your story to the Battle Stories Line-up post that goes live the 3rd Friday of the month (the same as the post-by date).

Make sure to check back and read some of the stories of your fellow battlers. Leave comments to encourage these writers. And go a step further in supporting one another by sharing each other’s stories on your own blog or social media, whatever you’re most comfortable with!

Basic Rules:

ThePrompt Wordwill…

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