11 January 2021

Music Monday: Inspiration

Behind each of my novels is a spark of inspiration. The dogs, of course, are the inspiration for Proud Racer and Clobberpaws. My time gaming and the friends I made there inspired the Nature Walker Trilogy

Rift is no different. Around the same time that I knew I wanted to take a break from the Orana Chronicles and my other projects that had stalled out, a very good friend of mine sent me a link to the video below. Before that, I had a vague idea about getting stuck in the world of the MMORPG that I play, I watched this video, and BAM there was Lex, standing in front of me and encouraging me to write how he felt about Em. 

So thank you, Angel, for inspiring one of the most difficult and interesting novels I've ever written. Also, y'all...this is one of the most beautiful pieces of animation I've seen. Go to YouTube and watch the rest of the chapters in this story, and be prepared for your feels to be hit hard.




Church
by Fall Out Boy

If you were church, I'd get on my knees
Confess my love, I'd know where to be
My sanctuary, you're holy to me
If you were church, I'd get on my knees
I'd get on my knees
I'd get on my knees
I'd get on my knees

And take the pain
Make it billboard big then swallow it for me
Time-capsule for the future
Trust me, that's what I will be
Oh, the things that you do in the name of what you love
You were doomed but just enough
You were doomed but just enough

If you were church, whoo
I'd get on my knees, yeah
Confess my love, I'd know where to be
My sanctuary, you're holy to me
If you were church, yeah, I'd get on my knees
I'd get on my knees, whoo
I'd get on my knees
I'd get on my knees

I love the world but I just don't love the way it makes me feel
Got a few more fake friends
And it's getting hard to know what's real
And if death is the last appointment
Then we're all just sitting in the waiting room
I am just a human trying to avoid my certain doom

If you were church, yeah
I'd get on my knees
Confess my love, I'd know where to be
My sanctuary, you're holy to me
If you were church, yeah, I'd get on my knees
I'd get on my knees, yeah, oh
I'd get on my knees, ah ah ah
I'd get on my knees, yeah
I'd get on my knees
If you were church
I'd get on my knees

Confess my love, I'd know where to be
My sanctuary, you're, you're holy to me, you're holy to me
If you were church, yeah, I'd get on my knees, yeah

07 January 2021

Notes from Exile: Hey, remember 2020?

Photo credit: Phil Roeder
Wow. So, how is everyone doing this morning?

Yesterday was a rough day, by any stretch, for me. It was the first day of a new semester and that always comes with loads of horrifying delightful surprises as my students realize that forty-eleven thousand things are not right with their accommodations and they need to be fixed NOW. 

It was the first day that I actually had to GET UP ON TIME and be presentable, whatever that means in the current Zoom classroom environment. I wrangled the background in and out of a terribly messy incredibly organized guest room and brought it into the office for my interpreting work. The canine chorus sang the song of their people a few times and blocked out my audio. But it all got done, leaving my brain and body a bit battered but overall glad to be back doing what I know how to do.

And then after all of that, I went to the sitting room with my laptop and phone to stretch out on the sofa for a bit and watch something utterly boring but soothing in its routine and standard practice: the certification of the votes from the Presidential election by the joint Houses of Congress. I admit to bit of anxiety over the contentious mood in our nation's capitol concerning the upcoming transfer of power, but ultimately, my PollyAnna soul was certain that it would roll along smoothly as it has done for over two hundred years.

Because we are Americans. We are loud. We are bossy. We are our own worst enemy. But at our very core - I believed, anyway - we are still Americans and sometimes we just need a bit of reminding what that means. We need to remember our history and build on it for our future, and other such platitudes.

Wow. PollyAnna was WRONG. While I am still finding it hard to believe that the people I saw yesterday are at all representative of the majority of people in my country, that was a terrifying display of what can happen when lies and misinformation are allowed to propagate. 

It was also a reminder of how far we have yet to go in terms of law enforcement reform. I stand by my statement yesterday that if any of those on that front line that broke into the building and quickly overwhelmed the Capitol police had been people of color, that would have been over before it started. We all saw the policeman taking selfies with one of the terrorists inside the building. We watched as the terrorist mob was pushed back, finally, out of the building, and then just left, for the most part, to disperse. Left to disperse, after curfew. Left to disperse after curfew on the same streets where unarmed protesters over the summer, hands in the air, were tear-gassed so that the president could walk over to a beloved church and use it for a photo op.

I certainly hope we are not starting as we mean to go on, but make no mistake, when we see something, say something. This can get better. Yesterday saw horrible violence by some gullible puppets of a tyrant, but it also saw an African-American man elected via run-off in a state that created that very run-off requirement as a part of the Jim Crow scourge. We can stand together and against this kind of insurrection and still do the things we need to do to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Your voice will count just as much from six feet away and behind a mask, stopping the spread of yet another kind of virus - the so-called MAGA virus that is turning our country inside out.

Now, off to edit. Poor Tairn. That manuscript is expecting PollyAnna. That is not who I am anymore.


04 January 2021

Music Monday: Well, here we are...

This is going to be a rather personal Music Monday, mainly because I can...but I just needed to talk about this for a second. My uncle died this morning. He had an incredibly long life - he was 93 - and it was full of grace and faithfulness that is sadly lacking in our world today. He was my mom's older brother, and the last of her siblings to die. That's a weird thought in and of itself - I've felt a bit unmoored (thanks to my friend Katy for that term, it is spot on) since 2018 when we lost Dad and this cycle of death, as it has seemed, began. It is worse now because we can't be with loved ones when their time comes. We can't gather afterward to share memories and be sad together. So while I'm sure I've posted this song before, I'm doing it again because I heard it before my uncle passed and thought of him - his strength and his resolve. Hug those you can and talk to those you can't. Life is short.



Little Hercules

Craig Carothers

So you cannot lift a spirit that has turned to lead
Or shine a light in shadow when the batteries are dead
Or fly like a bird over all the works of man
Or always think of the perfect words
But you do the best you can

Nothing seems as easy as it did when you were young
Myths may be invincible, but we are only strong
Strong like a memory, strong like a willow in the wind
Strong as you'll ever be, you will always need to bend

And if you feel the weight of the world
Put your mind at ease
Little Hercules

There are times when being a grown-up gets to be too much
And your sense of humor seems to vanish in the crush
Of the daily 9 to 9 that keeps your family alive
You're just putting in your time
Does anyone really go home at 5?

You've made a life where no one ever tells you what to do
Now the only tyrant that you're working for is you
It's never easy to keep all the promises you make
But no one's gonna get you fired
If you'd just give yourself a brake

And if you feel the weight of the world
Put your mind at ease
Little Hercules
'Cause there's so much on your shoulders
But you know it's a breeze
Little Hercules
Little Hercules

01 January 2021

Music Monday: Start as you mean to go on, right?

Well, Happy New Year! I'm just going to leave this video here, for now, because as I was sitting here pretending to be a writer the other morning, I heard this line from the below song by Elbow and was...struck? Shook? Anyway, it is a yes from me.

"We protect our little fictions/Like it's all we are..."

Start as we mean to go on is much better than a ridiculous list of resolutions that will be left behind before you can hit submit on the post. Let's try that this year, and if they are little fictions or hard truths, we can take them as they come. Who's with me?





Little Fictions
Elbow

A muffled battle cry across the kitchen table
A baffling contretemps that shakes the day unstable
Confessions from the cab, a habit that I got from dad
The flurry of departure in a cyclone of cologne
Would often devastate the gate and hedge
And set our tiny teeth on edge
I see it in me now and pledge
To knock it on the head, that's what I'll do

A muffled battle cry across the kitchen table
Bridges up, portcullis down and round the Tower of Babel
I'm babbling in my dreams of blue berserkers coming at me
Eyes and tongues and rusty knives
And God almighty laughing at me
From a fat boy fishing chair
I wake to find you laughing there
It's nice to know how much you care
Decided I should spend my life with you

We protect our little fictions
Like it's all we are
Little wilderness mementos
But there's only you and me here
Fire breathing
Hold tight
Waiting for the original miracle

I'm trying to focus on the issues of the day please
Your paper's upside down, the radio's in Chinese
These little tremors that are ripping through our rituals
That friction up the interaction
Emanate from quite the greatest
Thing that ever happened to
A pair of boozy bowerbirds like me and you
In other words
The alligator pear inside of you

We protect our little fictions
When we bow to fear
Little wilderness mementos
But there's only you and me here
Fire breathing
Hold tight
Waiting for the original miracle

Fire breathing
Hold tight
Life is the original miracle

Let's get old
Dare you now
Mix blood with me
All in
Love is the original miracle

Let's get old
Dare you now
Mix blood with me
All in
Life is the original miracle

Love is the original miracle

24 December 2020

Notes from Exile: Of Crooked Christmas Trees and other Leaning Towers

The Dunne Family Christmas Tree
Well, normally I would say it's almost that time, almost Christmas Day, etc. But not this year. This year, it feels like Thursday. I'm not planning how to get food two hours down the road to Atlanta for Christmas Lunch with my sister and her family. I'm not anticipating spending time with my American niece. We aren't waking up in Northumberland with Simon's parents. We just are.

I admire others that have been able to find ways around the general malaise that 2020 has spread. Especially those of you with children who have gone the extra mile to keep the magic in this holiday season when we have ditched the sugar plums in favor of vaccines and masks dancing through our visions.

Our Christmas tree has a permanent lean, as you can see in the photo. We don't have normal ceilings in this house, so we have to get a smaller tree than I'd like - but it is still too far from the outlet for me to feel comfortable plugging in the star at the top. It leans, as though it is trying to reach that outlet, and I'm reminded how we are all leaning this year. Leaning forward into the future with a vaccine and a return to in-person life. Leaning back into those moments we wish could have lasted, with family and friends that for whatever reason aren't here. Leaning into the "new normal," or leaning back into "the before time." 

We are all like leaning towers, and the key is not to lean so far that you fall. I remember a Christmas evening spent with one of my favorite people and his family, where the tree was crooked and we spent a great deal of time tying it into place with twine. There was a lot of clapping of hands and slapping of backs as the tree stood straight and tall...until something that I did to loosen the twine caused it to fall...on my friend's dad. He caught it, and while I don't remember what he said, I remember his booming laugh as he straightened it up and tied it again - and told me not to touch it.

That laugh is braided into the twine that holds me up this Christmas, along with my dad's decorations and my brother in law inexplicably under the Christmas tree at my parents' house in north Georgia. I'm remembering the ding that the MARTA train makes at every stop, and how my college friends and I raised our hands every time we heard it on the way to see the big tree in Atlanta - the start of the  Christmas season when I was younger. I think of my Daisy Mei Mei wearing the tree skirt like a 1950s salon cape and how every dog that is new to the Dunne family at Christmas has a picture in that same skirt.

I remember the Leeds German Market at Christmas and the sparkling lights in The Vue where we would grab a cheeky Nandos before seeing a movie. I remember Christmas Eve Mass at the church my inlaws attend in Seahouses. I can hear my mom saying, "Well, Merry Christmas!" on the phone when we lived 5,000 miles away. All of these memories and more hold me up this Pandemic Christmas as well as hold the promise of next year and our triumphant return to parades and late nights out, to massive meals with family and opening presents, to us. To normal. 

But for now, I will hang on to my crooked tree and my little family here in my house, safe and warm and healthy, and I will be thankful. Merry Christmas.

14 December 2020

New Year, New Novel Series

Coming next year: A new series set in the world of Orana: Guardians of Orana. The origin stories of the characters from the Nature Walker Trilogy and the Tales of the Forest War intertwined with the ongoing story of Orana, due out in the autumn of 2021. 

Watch this space, and visit nancyedunne.com for preordering information.

11 December 2020

Notes from Exile: End of a Weird Nano/Semester/Year/etc.

Well, that's that.
Well, that happened.

It happened a week ago, and I don't really have anything to say about it other than I am clearly NOT a horror writer and should stick to what I know, which is character-driven, has paranormal elements, and possibly includes some romance. 

I don't know what Legacy is going to become, but I haven't completely thrown it in the dumpster fire that has been 2020.

So here we are, in the last month of one of the weirdest years on record. I'm sure that the survivors of the Spanish Flu felt a similar sense of relief/trauma/fear mixed with a healthy dose of What the Hell was THAT? I'm also battling a lot of apathy, if I'm honest, about everything in my life, and I know I'm not alone in that.

My semester at the DayJob™ ended this past Friday and the students are in exam week now. They all went home at Thanksgiving and everything was online afterward, a decision that I think was very well reasoned. I mean, until we have a vaccine for this thing for a few months, I think that online everything is the way to go, but no one asked me. 

The end of the semester also signals the end of the calendar year, and as it always seems now that I work in academia, suddenly there is a flurry of things to do for Christmas/New Year. Only there isn't. I had so hoped that we would be going to the UK for Christmas this year. We were supposed to go in August for my father-in-law's 80th birthday but that didn't happen either.

Christmas hasn't been the same, if I'm honest, since we lost my father in April of 2018. Thanksgiving is hard now, without my mother, but Christmas was always my dad's holiday. The man was not cheap in his decoration of their house - garlands hung from every low hanging light fixture and there were wreaths with big red bows on every window. They had stockings on the mantel with a tangle of garland and plastic reindeer/Santa above it. Candles were in the windows that burned all night every night. Once he was no longer able to do these things, some of the sparkle went out of Christmas for me. 

I haven't found it since. Being unable to travel, unable to even go out for a long, loud, boozy meal with my friends here has made me just want to get this season over with and move on to 2021. I mean, I tried - I put up our tree and got hives from "Artificial Christmas Tree Syndrome." 

And this time next week I will be on Winter Break from Clemson - maybe then I can find my mojo. Or maybe I can get some editing done, or at least write a better, more uplifting blog post. Thanks for spending this year in exile with me. I hope you're well, and that your holiday season is as magical and bright as you can make it this year.

07 December 2020

Music Monday: Hiatus


I'm going to take the month of December off from posting my Music Mondays but you can bet I will be back starting 1 January with new tunes for you to discover (and hopefully some editing done!). Have just the best Christmas, listen to lots of Christmas music, and watch out for sneaky Whamageddon traps, y'all. 

03 December 2020

Second Verse, Same as the First: #PITMAD

I'm hoping that I'm not turning this into the definition of insanity. You may remember that in September I pitched my New Adult Paranormal Historical Fiction Mystery, Luminous Beings to the PitMad event on Twitter. I got one bite from an agent (that wasn't part of a vanity press). I sent the requested material.

(insert the sound of sad crickets here)

So I'm trying again with this manuscript today and I hope that with a slightly tweaked pitch I can attract some attention. If I don't, or if it ends up like it did in September I don't know that I will shop this one around for the third time. I mean, I'm an indie author at heart because 1) I'm not dependant on my career as an author to live and 2) I really like the control I have. If that turns agents off...well, I'm going to keep on being me. I just want to bank some experience in the traditional publishing world if I can.

All that to say that if you follow me on Twitter (and if you don't, come on, I'm delightful!) and you see me post my pitch, don't hit the like button - that is for publishing types that are interested in the manuscript. You can certainly retweet it if you like, and I would be very grateful. The more eyes on it, the better the chance it will end up in front of someone that wants to work with it and me! :)


30 November 2020

Music Monday: Walking on the Waves of Nanowrimo

One more blessed Scottish band/song for our last day of Nanowrimo 2020. How on earth did it happen so fast? Tomorrow the real work begins - editing this beast that you've created. I know that's a new kind of unknown, and I think this verse really speaks to that feeling: 

So you look out on the ocean
See the headlands and the strands
And you wonder what horizons
Will shape tomorrow's plans

The thing to remember, though, is the thing you've had carrying you through this whole month: You can do this! You got this! 

This song is just pure joy which I hope is what you're feeling today. I've been walking the shores this entire month, but now I'm walking the waves because WE DID IT, Y'ALL!



Walking on the Waves
by Skipinnish

An island in the sunlight
Laughter in the rain
A whisky in the darkness
It all feels just the same

Watch the sunset over Hynish
See the twilight merge to dawn
Hear the waves caress the shoreline
As the island carries on

I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves
I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves

There's two lovers on the machair
And they walk down to the sand
Their silhouettes are on the water
As they paddle hand in hand

And it's a game of sweet surrender
When there's nothing left to say
And there are moments to remember
Once these days are long away

I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves
I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves

So you look out on the ocean
See the headlands and the strands
And you wonder what horizons
Will shape tomorrow's plans

And through the turning of the seasons
And the cycle of the days
Every drink's another reason
To let tomorrow sail away

I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves
I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves

The surging of the ocean
The breakers on the shore
The echoes of our bodies
To the lovers' dream we soar

I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves
I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves
I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves

23 November 2020

Music Monday: People Like Us Wrimos

 [Nanowrimo 2020 Week Four] How could I not? "I know what you're going through, don't let it get to you, you'll make it out alive!" Y'all. Kelly Clarkson has long been for me that songwriter that speaks what's in my heart on a multitude of levels and topics, but this one was just so perfect for that last week of Nanowrimo. This is the week where we are tired. Our story is tired. Our characters are tired and if they are like mine, they decide that this is the time to run amok all over my story world. "Throw your fist in the air, come out, come out if you dare, tonight we're gonna change forever!"

Maybe not tonight, but this time next week you will have a manuscript in your hands. A story that you brought to life. Characters that you forced out of your mind and into the sun. It's just a few more days - you can do this. We can do this, people like us.




People Like Us
by Kelly Clarkson

We come into this world unknown
But know that we are not alone
They try and knock us down
But change is coming, it's our time now

Hey everybody loses it
Everybody wants to throw it all away sometimes
And hey, yeah I know what you're going through
Don't let it get the best of you, you'll make it out alive

Oh, people like us we've gotta stick together
Keep your head up, nothing lasts forever
Here's to the damned to the lost and forgotten
It's hard to get high when you're living on the bottom

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
We are all misfits living in a world on fire
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Hey, this is not a funeral
It's a revolution, after all your tears have turned to rage
Just wait, everything will be okay
Even when you're feeling like it's going down in flames

Oh, people like us we've gotta stick together
Keep your head up nothing lasts forever
Here's to the damned, to the lost and forgotten
It's hard to get high when you're living on the bottom

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
We are all misfits living in a world on fire
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
You've just gotta turn it up loud when the flames get higher
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

They can't do nothing to you, they can't do nothing to me
This is the life that we choose, this is the life that we bleed
So throw your fists in the air, come out, come out if you dare
Tonight we're gonna change forever

Everybody loses it,
Everybody wants to throw it all away sometimes

Oh, people like us we've gotta stick together
Keep your head up nothing lasts forever
Here's to the damned, to the lost and forgotten
It's hard to get high when you're living on the bottom

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
We are all misfits living in a world on fire
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
You've just got to turn it up loud when the flames get higher
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
We're all misfits living in a world on fire
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
You've just got to turn it up loud when the flames get higher
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Music Monday: Inspiration