28 November 2022

Music Monday: A Bit of Heartbreak, after a Win

 First things first, I finished Nanowrimo this weekend. The lucky thing about having it in November is that there is a holiday in there that sees me off work and full of cheese, wandering about and asking what day it is...and with plenty of time to write. The manuscript isn't done but I can slow my pace a bit.

Now, that said, the story is turning out to be a lot darker than I'd originally thought, and with that darkness comes me seeking out writing inspiration that matches. This is one of the most emotionally evocative songs I know and when it came up in my playlist I had to take a moment and just live in the feelings. The first time I heard it I think I gasped out loud in the third act. I would say enjoy, but...sit with it for a bit.

The Highwayman
by Loreena McKennitt

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon the cloudy seas
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moon
A highwayman came riding
Riding, riding
A highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door

He'd a french cocked hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin
A coat of glaring velvet, and breeches of brown doe skin
They fitted with never a wrinkle, his boots were up to the thigh
And he rode with a chill and a twinkle
His pistol butts a twinkle
His rapier hilt a twinkle, under the jeweled sky

And over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark of night
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter
Bess, the landlord's daughter
Plaiting a long dark red love-knot into her long black hair

One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize tonight
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light
Yet if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day
Then look for me by the moonlight
Watch for me by the moonlight
I'll come to thee by the moonlight, though hell should bar the way

He rose upright in the stirrups, he scarce could reach her hand
She loosened her hair in the casement, her face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight
Oh, sweet waves in the moonlight!
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west

He did not come at the dawning, he did not come at noon
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moon
A red-coat troop came marching
Marching, marching
King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed
Two of them knelt at the casement, with muskets at their side
There was death at every window
Hell at one dark window
For Bess could see, through the casement
The road that he would ride

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest
And they bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast
Now keep good watch and they kissed her
She heard the dead man say
"Look for me by the moonlight
Watch for me by the moonlight
I'll come to thee by the moonlight, though hell should bar the way"

She twisted her hands behind her, but all the knots held good
She writhed her hands 'til her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness and the hours crawled on by like years!
'Til, now, on the stroke of midnight
Cold, on the stroke of midnight
The tip of one finger touched it!
The trigger at least was hers

Tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear
Tlot-tlot, in the distance, were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill
The highwayman came riding
Riding, riding
The red-coats looked to their priming
She stood up straight and still

Tlot in the frosty silence, tlot, in the echoing night
Nearer he came and nearer, her face was like a light
Her eyes grew wide for a moment, she drew one last deep breath
Her finger moved in the moonlight
Her musket shot her in the moonlight
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him with her death

He turned, he spurred to the west, he did not know she stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood
Not 'til the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter
The landlord's black-eyed daughter
Watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there

And back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky
With a white rope smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high
Blood-red were the spurs inthe golden moon, wine-red was his velvet coat
When they shot him down on the highway
Down like a dog on the highway
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat

Still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees
When the moon is a ghostly galleon, tossed upon the cloudy seas
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moon
The highwayman comes riding
Riding, riding
The highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door

21 November 2022

Music Monday: A little bit of Tennyson

One of my favorite painters is Waterhouse, and one of my favorites of his paintings is The Lady of Shalott, a lovely poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, that tells the tale of a woman cursed to live in a tower who can only view the world through a mirror. She weaves what she sees and is dreadfully bored but knows that if she takes her gaze from the mirror something awful will happen. It's just beautiful and this video has lyrics in it, so win-win!

10 days left in this Nano and this song is perfect for talking me out of my real life and letting my creative mind go roaming around...no mirror required. Enjoy.

14 November 2022

Music Monday: Terribly and Beautifully Tired

I spent the weekend back at the Carolina Renaissance Fair as one of the Time Traveling Authors and y'all, I am exhausted...but in that giddy, happy kind of way that needs a cozy bed and some cider and no responsibilities for about a week so I can just reflect. Ah well, I got the cider and the bed, two out of three? 
Anyway, I was surrounded (quite literally) all weekend by fantastic music in the spot they set up for us. So for today's Music Monday, I want to share some out-of-the-box music that I ran across on TikTok that is a happy fusion of two things I love: bagpipes and Punjabi bhangra music. This mashup version of Toss the Feathers - an Irish song - is guaranteed to get you moving. Enjoy - somewhere that you can turn the volume up. (No lyrics this week because are on the video!)

10 November 2022

An Upcoming Signing Event and a bit of Gratitude

The book that started it all, in Orana, anyway...

Once again, I will be at the Carolina Renaissance Festival for Time Traveler's Weekend, hanging out with a bunch of fellow SciFi/Fantasy authors to sell signed copies of our books. You may remember that in 2019 I was there for the first time, selling a book that I'd started during the 2010 Nanowrimo. It came into the world as a ginormous 350K manuscript called - because I'm clever like that - Superginormous_Manuscript.doc. Yeah. That became the Nature Walker Trilogy, then the Orana Chronicles which has just seen the launch of the 8th book set in the universe of Orana, The Temple.

But this post isn't about that. Not really. 

This is about working for so long at CRF and seeing the authors set up on that weekend and wishing I could be one of them. This is about finally sending the email and seeing my name listed on the CRF website as one of the authors. This is about remembering how scared I was that first weekend, and how others around me had to basically pull information from me about my books.

I'm not going to lie and say that it has gotten any easier - if anything with so many titles it has gotten worse. But here's where the gratitude comes in.

I'm not really a part of any writing groups, not formal ones. I belong to two writing/author groups on social media and I am a proud member of the Broadleaf Writers Association in Georgia...but only because I attend their annual writer's conference and want to support what they do. So that first weekend at CRF I didn't know how to be an author. I'd sold books before, but they were never mine. I think I came back home after the weekend with almost as many copies as I'd taken with me.

But that's not the point. I am more grateful than I can ever express to the authors that were there that first weekend for treating me like I belonged there. I listened to them talk to people that came up to look at their books. I practiced saying what they said and working on my elevator pitches for the two titles I had with me. I have used Tell me what you like to read? and What kind of books are you reading right now? at all of my signing events since then, and it gives me a not-so-scary way to start a conversation.

When I returned in 2021 (2020 was cancelled because the faire didn't happen) I thought I was ready, but I still listened and still learned. And now, in 2022, I'm ready to spend a weekend up there hanging out with people who get the writer side of me. People who live in fantasy worlds and have characters on their mind day in and out. And I'm going into this on my own, without a Sherpa or a sidekick, and I'm gong to keep listening and keep learning.

Come see us, won't you? We will be there cannon to cannon this Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for the faire are advance purchase now and there are only a limited number. 

I'd love to see you at my table and have you tell me what you like to read. 📚

07 November 2022

Music Monday: Nano Week Two

Y'all, the first week is always so easy. The target wordcounts are lower. The project is new. Your characters are still paying attention to what you want them to do. None of them have gone off the rails...yet. It's coming though, you know it is. And that complete nightmare happens in week two, but you need hope. Hope that the characters will finish running amok and come back home to where you want them - or that where they've gone is where the story needs to go. You've got to be unbreakable, so that at the end of the next two weeks, you remain undefeated.

(no lyrics this week because they are in the video)

01 November 2022

Nanowrimo 2022 - Here goes nothing, again.

I bet she'd told me I couldn't have any cake. Stand back...

Yeah, it's here. Allegedly I'm going to work on the next in the Orana Chronicles series, Hero, but all I have so far is the cover. Cart before the horse, I know. 

I mean, I have a rough idea, but as a die-hard pantser I really don't have an outline. As my poor mother could have told you, "Nancy doesn't work well with an outline unless it is filled out after she's done writing." Sorry Mom.

Anyway, so I'm off and away today on this month long, coffee fueled expedition that I have taken every November since 2010, when I was here visiting my family from the UK and happened to hear about Nanowrimo somewhere. I thought I'd give it a go, and the bare bones of the Nature Walker Trilogy was born. 

Very bare bones. Like strung together with duct tape and bandanas and hope. 

I like to think back on that, though, when I am getting frustrated and starting to believe that the impostor syndrome is speaking for the collective universe when it says I need to give up this writing thing.

Another thing my mother could have told you is how stubborn her eldest daughter is. So I will be thinking of you this month, Mom, and how you believed that all you had to do to get your Nancy up and moving was suggest that maybe she couldn't do something. I will try, once again, to prove that wrong...and make you proud.

Upcoming Appearances, 2023

At 742 North, Rock Hill, Fall 2022 So I sat down the other day and looked at my travel calendar for this year. Whew! There is a lot coming u...