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And it is only the giving…

That makes you what you are…” (Wond’ring Aloud, Jethro Tull)
This is not intended as a homily, or a ‘holier-than-thou’ (because I am not) but a curious observation. Some people are born (or made into by their growing-up environment. I don’t seriously know which, and it may be both) givers. Others, it seems, expect it to be given to them. The precious few are those who know how to receive graciously, and give good value for it. The latter is the hardest, and is a skill I have never learned well. I was raised (and possibly born) to be one who gives. My father certainly was. Nothing delighted him more. I remember an endless giving of fish, or crayfish, or avocados, or lychees or paw-paws – often to the extent he’d give more than he kept for his family. I derive pleasure in giving (especially to the latter group), and I struggle to receive, let alone graciously. I try, with indifferent success. I cope best by paying it forward, if I can’t pay it back, because to me a gift that is received as if it were ‘due’ sours right there – which is why I pay my dues to other wannabe writers, to people who wish to climb, or dive, or fish or learn more of living off the land. There is of course a considerable quid pro quo situation which is not barter, but an aspect of gracious receiving, among the various self-sufficiency folk.

To my mind many of the demands ‘rights’ and ‘reparations’ come from a way of making giving have no reciprocal requirement of gratitude, pay-back or even pay-forward. It appears based on fostering feelings of guilt, an interesting and complex product of social evolution, and rests quite heavily on Judeo-Christian history and philosophy. The reward for the giver, is per se is in theory amelioration of that guilt, which oddly is always temporary. It is certainly something which can be exploited, and I believe often is. I don’t see that ending well, myself. It’s hard, certainly in game theory (where those who do not reciprocate are considered ‘cheaters’ – to be detected and punished or excluded) to see how this could work, otherwise. Of course children are given a lot of lee-way, possibly in the assumption that one is training them to be givers themselves as adults. And possibly because their obvious delight is a reward enough.


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Lying with Memes

For all of those who have looked at those cute/clever pictures and a few word things on the internet – and forwarded the link…

(the picture’s a link) can I recommend this.

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Comfort food for the winter of the soul

Mad Genius Club

I’m sure there are writers who walk through life is if it was their personal bowl of bloop-berries (no it’s not a typo, it’s a reference to a comfort-food book. Anyone recognize it?) I’ve never met one of these authors, but then I don’t know many people. And for some reason (maybe because for most of us it is a very tough row to hoe.) bleakness, despair are things I’ve encountered in many a writer. Maybe it’s the flip side of the creative coin. I don’t know. I just know dealing with it is important to me, and, methinks also for many of my writer-friends. Obviously there are many other reasons for depression and despair, but writing seems to do well at providing extra (and yes, a lot of it has to do with the movement of small bits of green paper.). It also comes down to sheer tired a…

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Twisty Christmas Tales feature Joy Cowley, David Hill & Dave Freer

Just re-blogging this here, for the younger readers this Christmas

Phantom Feather Press

We have fantastic news! We received so many amazing Christmas stories that we’ve expanded our anthology.

From the outset, we had anticipated accepting 25 stories, but now 27 wonderful authors have 31 quirky stories in The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales. We’d like to thank all of our our writers—including iconic NZ authors Joy Cowley and David Hill, and best-selling Australian sci-fi author Dave Freer.

For a full list of Twisty Christmas Tales authors, see below.

Our illustrator Geoff Popham has been doodling since he was tiny. Now he’s not so tiny and he’s still at it, working as a freelance graphic designer, illustrating books when no one’s looking. He’s been working hard to create twisty illustrations for our stories. Stay tuned to see more of Geoff’s great twisty Christmas art.

In the meantime, join us on our sleigh as we whip across NZ pastures, scattering fairy dust, heading…

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And now for something completely different


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The Character challenge

Sarah, curse, bless her now, with your fierce tears I pray, laid this upon me. And WordPress ate the first attempt. I hope it has indigestion, heartburn, and the runs.
1.) What is the name of your character?
Gollum, Gollum…. The hard questions first. Always the hard questions first. Like those tricksy exams ‘Write your name here.’ Why do they want to know? And how do you expect me to remember guff like that? My mind is too highly trained for it. Hmph. I shall write of one of my favorite characters, Bolg, P.I.

2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Both, of course. Well, historical and fictional. He is definitely male, and has been for 1800 years. None of this he/she nonsense for Bolg. He’s seen these fads come and go, and has no patience with them. He’s a Pict. He’s also a dwarf -as in having the medical/genetic condition which makes you taller than him. He does not take well to being called vertically challenged or any of these other stupid PC euphemisms. He’s quite accustomed to establishing respect, and he has a 9mm argument which prejudices find most convincing. Oh and he’s a person of color. That color happens to be blue, and tattooed onto his skin. You have problem with that? Did I mention his little argument? He has been known to help problems out of a disagreeable individual’s far ear.

3.) When and where is the story set?

As it is urban fantasy, the story is set in the small city of Urban, in flyover country. It’s a place with far too high a population of fairies, witches, werewolves, trolls and other magical creatures, at least from Bolg’s perspective. He barely tolerates one, and that one is Fintan Mac Bochra, who is either an ancient sorcerer or a theoretical physicist. Probably both, and definitely older than dirt, which the old reprobate usually has a lot of about him. As to when, somewhere in n-dimensional space it is happening right now.

4.) What should we know about him/her?

As little as possible. When you have put off dying for 1800 years, you’ve also learned that attracting attention to this fact always causes problems. And anyway, as a Private Investigator he knows that being unobtrusive is important. In the centuries that have passed since he never got around to dying, Bolg has done most things, especially the ones that keep people a long way off. Work with sewers has that advantage, and he’s done a fair amount of it, even if it does smell. He’s even done some Kinging, but like most forms of politics the stench of that was quite nauseating. Maybe you need to know he likes very strong coffee, but that did not stunt his growth.

5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Clients. Or the lack there of. Being four foot nothing and blue seems to put them off, except for the paranormal ones, which he’d rather avoid. Alas, it’s them or nothing, and the problem in the first Bolg tale is a wealthy client who wants to dance with the fairies. Now most Private Investigators would put that down to yet another loony client. Bolg does too, but that’s because he knows the fairies. He knows that no one in their right mind has anything to do with a species that everyone is most carefully polite about, for good reason. You wouldn’t want the murderous, thieving nasty little creeps to take offense, or even notice you, if you can help it.

6.) What is the personal goal of the character?

Staying alive, and getting paid. It’s a noble goal, one shared with Bolg by many nobles. He’s long since given up on character growth. He last did any growth about 1690 years ago, and it’s not likely he’ll start again.

7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

Bolg, P.I.: Away with the Fairies is the first one – it’s a novella. There are another two. I plan to write up some more of his case-files, and spin
them into a book. When I get around to it, in that ample spare time WordPress doesn’t eat.

8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?
Last year some time. I do a lot of books and stories. Heaven knows when the next will get there.Tell me you love it, and it might be sooner.

And I’m tagging Peter Grant – Peter is not very good at singing his own praises, so I will – He writes some very fine Mil SF and will be a big name, one of these days, and long after I am forgotten. I can recommend his latest book, War To The Knife (Laredo War Trilogy Book 1)

Peter Grant was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. Between military service, the IT industry and humanitarian involvement, he traveled throughout sub-Saharan Africa before being ordained as a pastor. He later immigrated to the USA, where he worked as a pastor and prison chaplain until an injury forced his retirement. He is now a full-time writer, and married to a pilot from Alaska. They currently live in Tennessee.

See all of Peter’s books at his author page, or visit him at his blog, Bayou Renaissance Man, where you can also sign up for his mailing list to receive a monthly newsletter and be kept informed of upcoming books.


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Countdown special – crawlspace and other stories.

will be on a countdown special – discounted from $4.99 to 99 cents at 8 AM Amazon time (I think that’s Seattle) and increasing in one cent increments over the next four days. Get it now while it is cheap!

Two Rats Bats and Vats stories (a novella, and a novelette) another great ‘Pirates of the future’ story and some others

Cheap as chips

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