Monday, 27 February 2012

kno inky updates

Huzzah! It seems that knowonder! has made some fabulous changes and instead of paying $10 per story, it’s paying up to $50 per story which means I can relax about sending out overseas subs via pricey snail mail. And… stories go up on 1 March.

I’ve also made motions to re-start writing for as I had stopped in 2009 to get Wyvern Publications off the ground and running.  Now that we are about to publish our 9th title (and 10th before Christmas) the team will be focusing on publicising titles already up and I’m taking a year out of editing so I can work on my own books.
With two regular paying markets taking my work (one fiction and one non-fiction) I do feel a bit more confident about calling myself a professional writer.  I had been feeling pressure about bringing more funds into the household and although I won’t exactly be earning a high salary (or even minimum wage…) I can at least know the groceries are covered!

Which brings me to… the allotment! It’s looking amazing and certainly tidier than it had before.  I’ve bought three seasons of seed potatoes to keep us chip-happy and asparagus and more dahlias are going in.  The asparagus is low maintenance which is nice and it just keeps giving year after year (and tastes amazing).  It’s great working outdoors for something that gives back more than I put into it and I even use my archaeology trowel to get my sides straight in the seed bed areas.  Not that the area is devoid of any archaeological evidence.  There are pot sherds galore, broken pipes, slag (and some evidence of a small forge – probably just for shoeing horses), medieval peg tile and loads of iron waste which makes for good ballast when I want to keep a weed cover from blowing about the place.

We’re having some good productiveness on the home front too with two chickens producing eggs now.  Ruby, the ex-batt has decided it’s not fair for just Gemima to lay, so she’s back in action and looking two years younger (that’s about two decades in chicken years).  Star is looking better although she’ll never be at 100% after her illness (she had chicken bronchitis – or so said the vet after the last visit).

Things seem to be balancing out nicely now and I’ve nominated the first Friday of every month to be ‘find an agent’ day.  I’ll give Blood Tide another round and this time focus on US agents as they don’t seem to be baffled by having to read dialect.  Then it will be another edit (it’s out with three readers at the moment and I’m getting some excellent new suggestions), then up on kindle if I’ve had no offers.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Rabbit Ink

Goodness, where does the time go? It’s been a year since I boldly stated that I’d be sending in one submission every two weeks and would, hopefully, bag an agent.  I sent three submissions to large agencies last year and got no love back.  It was nice to get a few things in anthologies, but I was so hoping to reach a wider audience.

Which brings me to the new endeavour – Seadrake Creations.  It’s doing okay, I’ve got a new fair to set up for 21 April and it should be interesting to see what sort of things sell this time (at the Christmas fair it was only the children’s things that sold out).  I am getting more interest in my silver leaf pendants, but as PMC costs so much, I’m not really making money off it, just having a bit of fun.  I’ve secured the domain but have yet to transfer my seadrakecreations.googlesites website over to it.  After the debacle with google recently, I should do it quickly before its gone forever (Google was about to delete my account for being 8months old… I was setting up a youtube account and put the age of my business instead of my personal age.  Seems obviously silly now!)

I am trying hard to think of ways of working from home and staying self-employed – I’m going to be running craft workshops, but until I get my level 1 PMC certification, I’ll not have any access to discounted PMC and supplies (curses!) so that’s another thing to save up for (and getting a second hand camera that has a manual focus).  I’ll also be putting up demos on youtube and some project downloads will be put on the website (maybe even a kindle book with a load of projects).  There is always so much to do in the few spare hours when Claudia sleeps.

As for WIP – there are too many things to even count.  I know I should just stick to one, but my writing is in limbo until the last few things I sent in to knowonder are published.  So far, I’ve been writing story after story and have been biting my fingernails, checking their website to see if anything is ever published.  I’m guessing March will be when things are up, but that’s such a long way off considering the team has been putting stories in the pot since New Year. Patience has never been my strong point - the stories will go up when they are ready!

That, and I’ve been looking at new places to have fiction published.  Paying places *big grin*.  Highlights Magazine is my next port of call (even though I must post my work via snail mail overseas WITH a SAE; how expensive will that get?) and a few others of similar ilk. 

Here is a bit of one of the works I’ve been sneaking down – it’s been in my head for years and it’s a bit different from the usual stuff.

The Rabbits of Carrot Wood
(a series)

book 1: Into the Wood

Ostra looked up at the bright stars through the clearing of trees and thumped on her hind paw.  Her thick grey fur looked silver in the moonlight, but soon, she knew, it would appear golden when the fires began. 

In seconds, the entire forest floor was quaking with the thumps of several rabbit’s hind paws.  Tall ears popped up from holes in the ground, followed by long, sleek bodies.  More hind legs joined in the warning and soon even the birds in the trees had taken flight in the night.

“Is the council gathered?” It was Freya who asked Ostra, one of the rabbits to whom the next role of leadership would fall.

Ostra bowed her head.  “They are gathered.”

Freya nodded and raced off, her hind legs flashing like lighting to the summit.

An owl flew low, his talons out, searching for any small prey.  He too, must have sensed the change in the air and was taking advantage by finding food.  Ostra dove into one of the warren’s holes, knowing full well that she was just small enough to be taken by those sharp talons.  A few moments later, she heard his frustrated scream – her den-mates were safe.  Surfacing again, she watched the wings flap towards the plain and away from the colony of rabbits.

She pulled the rest of her body out of the hole and shook off dust and soil.  She’d have to do a proper wash later – after this council business was sorted; after the fires had passed.

Many latecomers rushed past her to get to the gathering point; a large oak stump in the centre of the clearing.  Already, the four council elders sat in their honoured positions, each facing outward in the cardinal directions. 

“Hush”, Elder North called.  The crowd of rabbits settled down.  The crowd was managed by the guardians; twelve strong warriors to keep their eyes on the skies for predators and behind them for sly foxes.  Each was armed with a spear ending in a stone point, their backs covered with a long, blue stripe of paint to mark their position as protectors.

Elder South nodded to Elder North and raised his front paws.  “We are gathered here this late night to witness the passing of the moon’s shadow as foretold by our seers.  In honour of this spiritual event, we shall light the fires as is custom.”

There was a hiss of breath as the crowd took in the knowledge. There had not been any fires lit for the past twelve generations.  Legend was strong in the tribe, but the
marks on the earth told the tale more solidly than any storyteller.

“Firedancers!” called Elder West.  “Now it is time to put to use your years of training! Prepare the cinders.”

Two small rabbits with patches of red on their heads came forward, eyes wide and frightened.  They brought with them a basket of smoke.  Behind them followed four young females, each carrying a bundle of twigs.  They dumped the twigs in the centre of the elders’ oak stump and scurried away on all fours like wild rabbits.

The four elders hopped off of the stump, allowing the two firedancers to approach.  They placed the basket gently in the centre and stripped off their woven robes.  The black and red flame patterns heaped onto the earth below them and each of them took deep, slow breaths before opening the basket.  It was apparent to Ostra that they had spent hours in preparation for the eve.

“Begin! Begin! Begin!” The four elders started the chant and were soon joined in a cacophony of others as the crowd opened their mouths to add to the chorus. It wasn’t long before those rabbits who had been wary, became fevered with the need to see flames – and the result of those flames devouring both flesh and flora.

Ostra felt the need to look away, but something held her attention captive as the two dancers reached into the basket with their bare paws and, screaming, threw the live embers into the pile of sticks.

“More, more, more!” The crowd and the elders’ voices were one now, like a hive of bees with only one thought for the many.  Even Ostra found the words seeping from her tongue when all she really wanted to do was run. 

The dancers’ screams turned from fear into screams of maniacal joy – they threw more embers into the air, letting them catch the sky and form arcs of light.  Yet, despite their fur touching all the flames, they didn’t burn.  The glowed.  The fire seemed to come from inside them now and each of the dancers, inflamed with magic of the dance, began to swallow the coals and embers, belching out long flames then leaping over.

The ground began to shake, this time without the aid of any rabbits’ thumping.  The dancers stopped leaping and began digging.  They bored into the earth like worms, their bodies glowing under the patches of turf and soil.  Long pathways of steam showed the crowd were the dancers were moving; each of them in perfect harmony with the other to form first a perfect circle around the crowd, and then spirals.  Rabbits jumped high as the dancers burrowed under their feet, but still nobody left.

This is madness, thought Ostra.  But she too, could not escape.  The sky then seemed to be falling – the stars streamed in the sky and the moon, covered by an invisible cloak, disappeared slowly into the night.  The dancers surfaced, exhausted, but untouched by fire.  Except, perhaps, the fire in their eyes, observed Ostra.  They had a new life in them that hadn’t been there before.  But they seemed spent and almost hobbled to the centre oak.  Satisfied, the elders covered each with a flame-coloured cloak and looked up to the sky.

“Prepare yourselves!” said Elder North.  “For now we shall see the vision.”


Once upon a time, long, long ago, there were three rabbits.  One was grey and one was brown.  The other was pure white.  The white rabbit wanted to lead, for he felt that only he was closest to the gods; why else would they keep him as pure in colour as the snow?  The grey rabbit felt that he should be in charge, for was he not the very colour of a fallen star – which everyone knew was the physical body of an angel.  The brown, however, said nothing.  For he knew that the gods would give to them what the gods would give.

The white and the grey rabbits quarrelled.  They bit and tore at each others’ ears.  Soon, they had lost their sight.  Soon after that, they had lost their ability to hear the gods’ whispers.  But the brown rabbit prayed.  He prayed that his two aggressive brothers be spared; that they live in peace.

The gods heard his prayers and granted them.  The grey and the white rabbit were made one – every winter the rabbit would be white and every summer, the rabbit would be grey, each blending in harmony with the land around him; never meeting each other or overlapping.  But they had become simple.  They could not speak.  They could not plan or think.  They could live, but live simply.

Happy that his brothers could live, but lonely, brown rabbit then asked the gods for a mate.  And once again they granted his wish.  A beautiful female rabbit came to his den one morning.  She could speak the language of the flowers and knew healing spells.  She too could communicate with the gods and her name was Ostra.  She gave the brown rabbit a name, so that he too could be remembered in song.  His name was Oak.  Together they had many children and became the founders of our way of life.  They kept the forest and woods tame and knew that their needs would always be met; using their minds and skills granted to them by the gods.  But they also knew too, that if they did not keep the law of the earth, the gods would punish them in the same way they did to grey and white rabbit.


Ostra woke in her warren, her familiar blankets firmly tucked in around her.  It had been a long time since she’d dreamed; and this dream was beautiful. It was full of colour – blues and greens and a huge mass of water.

“No,” she said aloud, “it wasn’t a dream…” It had been the firedance – they had seen a vision.  She knew, though she couldn’t pawpoint how, that each of them had seen something different.  Hers had been of a place far, far away – there were white birds with black tipped wings, heavy winds, and no trees.  It made her feel exposed, but she felt inexplicably drawn to it nonetheless.

It was very early – she could smell the dew in the earth and hear the deep breaths of the rest of the warren.  Creeping out as quietly as she could, she popped her head above the ground and sniffed the air.  Fresh.  Clean.  She opened one eye, a little frightened of what she might see.  It was green and lush; without any scarring from the night’s ritual.  But when she hopped to the clearing, she could see the markings in the ground where the dancers had burrowed – instead of scorching there was moss. 

What does it mean?  She scratched her left ear with her hind leg and hopped onto the oak stump to take in the entire pattern. She hadn’t remembered going back into the warren – just a vague knowledge that she did see a vision when she looked up to the stars.