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Number One is being helpful - this is how the thing appears, the complete subject line:

[Spam] the Abu Dhabi Charity Donation!

Thank you for TELLING me you're spam, oh blessed message. I would never have known, otherwise.

Number two is a little ambivalent:

Enter the website to read Anghara's message

If you mean a message FOR Anghara, which would be my net name and not my real name so you don't know me and I don't need to see a message from you especially so announced, that's NOT WHAT YOU SAID. And if you're inviting me to the site to read my own message... to myself... well, unless I'm suffering from split personality disorder and don't know it, I DIDN'T SEND ONE. So, cheers, spamlet. Nice try.

Number three is... um...

Carmelina B. wants Anghara to EXPLORE her BOOBS

Perhaps they just want me to check for breast cancer. Yes, that must be it. On the other hand, it is from someone called Carmelina B. Carmelina. I, uh, thanks, but I'll pass.


And this was a LIGHT day.

I was nineteen years old and a 'seasoned' novelist (I'd written anythng between three and six novels by this age, depending on whether you wanted tou count only the 'good' ones or everything...) when I hit upon a brililant idea.

I would rewrite the Matter of Britain.

In the first person.

As the Queen.

The book (entitled, amazingly enough, "I, Guinevere") was duly produced - and it worked, up to the point that I got so identified with it that my boyfriend at the time used to send me little cards adressed to "the Princess" (I still have those cards. They'are little reasures...) It was a serious attempt to get to grips with a topic I passionately loved, with characters whom I'd known well for years through dipping into their stories as told by many other folks,with the kind of lush language with which I was to become familiar as my writing later grew more fully into that shape.

"I, Guinevere" was promptly picked up and handed (by my father) to a South African publisher... who, against all odds, loved the thing. I was close enough to a published book to smell it... and then he said that the novel had to go to a beta reader first for his report.

And off it went.

Th beta reader... was Andre Brink.

One of South Africa's great writers, who died on ^ February 2015 aged 79. He was a Name, a famous and well regarded author, and I confess the breath was driven out of my body when I was told who it was that had gotten my little book thrust into his hands. But for all his stature Brink was perhaps the last person who might have had any sympathy for the kind fo writer I was - or I was shaping to be - or for hte subject matter that I had chosen.

I waited for his report with bated breath, and trepidation, and something like existential dread.

When it came back, it opened with a sentence which still takes my breath away.

"I have no doubt at all that this work was written by someone who will be a great writer one day."

If you can smell the next word, you're right.

It was "But..."

One of the reasons he gave for my novel's having missed its mark was that it lacked, as he put it, "what Nikos Kazantzakis called madness". (It was because of this that I went on to read Kazantzakis whom I had not read before then - so thank you, Mr Brink, for Zorba the Greek...) WHat he meant, I suspect, was the rawest kind of passion, a sexual energy with which this story was charged - but which I failed to imbue it with.

 It rankled, then, but of course he was utterly correct - I was nineteen years old, and a very young and innocent nineteen, and my attempts to write adultery in THE FIRST PERSON (even adultery decorously clad in the robes of High Chivalry) were probably laughable. I say "were probably" because, to my chagrin, I seem to have permanently lost every last copy of that manuscript - and I would have loved to have read it now all these decades later just to see by how much I had sailed past my mark but that is no longer possible. All I have is a memory of that nineteen-year-old girl and her romantic-but-attempted-to-be-gritty vision of Camelot and its shenanigans, and of the book that was born out of that.

And that sentence. The sentence that - in spite of himself - in sppite of all his misgivings and his caveats and eventually his veto - Andre Brink could not help but give me.

Thank you for that, sir.

With gratitude, and respect, I bid you farewell. And may Nikos Kazantzakis greet you with a does of 'madness' out there in the light where the passion of words (which you have always carried with you) blazes like a star,
So, as some of you may know, last year I went to the Rainforest Writing Retreat on the shores of beautiful Lake Quinault (there are those who might remember the occasion by my posts concerning my return home - through the worst snowpocalypse of the year...) During that time, last year, I wrote up a quiet storm - a large chunk of the novel then in progress, before I was blindsided by a short story which I had to write down right there and then no questions asked and which derailed the prospects of more of the novel being captured on screen, as it were.

There's always a chance that a literary mugging event might occur again this year, during the retreat to which I am once again going - life, as it has famously been said, is what happens when you're making other plans. But I can't just go in there and trust to the Muse to turn up on schedule along with me - I have to HAVE a plan, before one can possibly be derailed. So I am thinking about projects to concentrate on while I am there, and I have decided to see if all y'all have any preferences as to what you might want to see emerge FIRST, as it were.

Here are the options.

1) The novel I wrote there last year was "Wolf", the second book in the Were Chronicles series. That's coming out in May this year, and the third book in that series is also finished and with the publisher with a possible publication date of end of this year or possibly very early in 2016 (no firm date yet). In the meantime #1, "Random", has been doing quite nicely - people LIKE it, they really like it - and there's that to think of, the momentum that's being built up. But in any event, the first three books in that series are done and dusted, that particular arc complete... but... but... there are other stories that have presented themselves in that universe. I've just sketched out a few notes, so far. But this might be a good time to launch into the first of those...?

2) Another Fat Historical Fantasy is long overdue and I have one in the wings and it's been waiting there very patiently. This is a distinct possibility. I could dive in and let the waters of this thing close over my head and not come up for air until it's time to leave. And it will be a Big. Fat. Historical. Fantasy. Think Jin Shei.

3) Finishing up a half-written stand-alone fantasy which has been dropped several times as other more important things came along and passed it - but there are good bones there, and it might be time to put some flesh on them.

4) A project which WILL get worked on sooner rather than later and maybe it might as well be now - I am putting together a short story collection, a themed one. I have some of the content already complete and ready - but a number of stories (some six or seven of them) need to be written before the thing is done. Perhaps I should just use the time to put together those short stories, or at least the first drafts of them, and have a more or less finished collection ready by the time I leave the retreat...?

So - what do you think? Vote in the comments, for #1,#2,#3, or #4. And I will take it under advisement... you have the rest of this month to make your opinions known. Which door...?

Happy new year!

Well, here's a few bits of news and such.

First off, I guest blog today, about "Random", at Heather Rose Jones's blog, here

I did a Bitten by Books event yesterday which involved a nice little interview - and you can read that here (the contest is over but the interview remains...)

Also, the first three Worldweavers books are all now available in Sky Warrior Books paperback editions Gift of the Unmage, Spellspam, Cybermage. With the fourth and final book in the series now hanging imminent, this might be a good time to gather up the previous three and catch up to the story. Just sayin'. And if you buy these paperbacks, and let me know in email (or in comments, either here on on my Facebook page - and while you're there, "like" it - I'm THIS close to 600 likes - getting there might be nice!) - together with a mailing address - you can obtain a signed book plate or three for these shiny new books and have 'em all signed and sealed by yours truly...

Oh, and there will be a new book in March. COmpletely unrelated to any of these and utterly unlike anything I've ever done before. Watch this space...

The stars of the year(s) past...

We landed a probe on a comet this year. Read that again. We landed. A probe. On. A COMET.

We can do such great stuff when we set our minds to it.

Little Philae landed with a thump, malfunctioned when it came to anchoring itself, bumped off into an incovenient shadow where its solar power cells drifted gasped for breath and then shut off, sent a bunch of data we could never have dreamed of getting our minds and hands on before it touched down, and then curled up and went to sleep

We celebrated. We were proud (and jsutly so) even with all the snafus that went on during the mission and finally scuttled it. We DID this thing. We were mighty.

Today comes a different headline - one about a much older craft, one we sent off to Mars a decade ago.

The little Rover named Opportunity is developing Alzheimer's.

There's this thing, about its sister Rover, Spirit, which remains indellibly inscribed in my memory:

I am thinking about these sendings of the human spirit today, at the tail end of the scienc-fictionish year of 2014. With next year, we're halfway through the second decade of the 21st century. This is kind of amazing.

And out there, on other planets, on cometary detritus out of the Oort cloud, little machines work and sleep, and sometimes send news of the stars back home to the Earth from which they came.

This is even more amazing.

It's a kind of melancholy note to end a year on. But - rest, Opportunity, you've done way more than was asked or expected of you. Rest, little Philae, who did an impossible thing, even if it wasn't perfect. Rest, and dream, if you have to. Others of your kind - I raise my eyes to the heavens and I pray and I hope this is so - will follow where you have led. In the meantime... looking back over the year that is ending and the fourteen years that have elapsed since the beginning of the new century... I just wanted to say, I am proud of you, and I remember you, and even when you go silent and lost out there in that bleak black vastness there are minds down here below who will remain proud of you, who will always remember you.

For those of us down here, the flesh-and-blood folk still on the original beloved mudball... happy new year, everyone. May it bring you everything you are hoping for.

*I am not a Muse.*

"And it’s a powerful thing, the learnt reflex to look at a woman and see someone who is by definition unaccomplished, a novice; someone’s disciple, companion, muse; someone with no power or expertise of her own."

The longer I move in the circles that I do, the more stories I hear whose kernel is the attitude encapsulated in that paragraph above. A man... is born knowing his craft, apparently. Even when he is bad, he is by definition somehow, better than any other poor fool who does not share that gender. It is just THAT easy to dismiss a woman at a gathering like this as a lackey, an assistant, a secretary, a junior editor who's been allowed out of the office/schoolroom as a treat for the child (as it were). That, or the "disciple... companion... muse" mentioned above. A man is born knowing his craft; a woman is incapable of ever transcending a certain level of foothills, as it were, because it is not for her alone to breathe the rare air of the high literary mountains unless she happens to be a disciple, a companion, a muse.

*I am not a Muse*.

Or, if I have inadvertently been one to anyone at all, it is not as an ethereal damsel floating in the first pink flush of the dawn light whispering wondrous words into someone else's ear, to be claimed by someone else's mind, and pen. If I am a Muse at all, it is my own Muse, listening to my own wondrous whispers at dawn. As much as some might seek to scoff at such claims, yes, I HAVE walked those mountains without either leaning on the arm of a man for support or floating before him as a wispy spirit guide into the dizzying heights above the eternal snows.

Why is the distillate of a man's mind automatically wisdom and truth and holy writ, and of a woman's nothing more than lullabies and sweet romance and laid-down fine needlework? Why can a woman's writing not be great and powerful and wise? WHy can it not be heard, and understood, and given its due? What is it that makes men walk into literary gatherings only to have their eyes slide over (the few) women in the group as though they were not there at all, as though they were there by accident, or (worse) by *permission*? What makes my mind inferior to that housed in a body which happens to have different plumbing than my own?

Time and time again women have taken the name of a man in order to stake a claim in the literary arena. Take the Bronte sisters (who ended up being the Brothers Bell). Take George Sand. Take James TIptree Jr. And it's a known thing (pace JRR Tolkien and GRR Martin) that all too frequently a woman author who wishes to hide her gender identity will take refuge behind the shield of the initials, just like JK Rowlings did.

It's insidious, a bitter little thread in the tapestry - it's known to happen, because it needs to happen, because so few of us who have to lay claim to a feminine gender finally have the stamina to stand our ground, to stay the course, to expect that at some point in our lives and our careers we might be seen as WRITERS - and by that I mean as writers of substance, and not just dismissed as those girls who just dabble in this writing lark, who write "silly penny-dreadful romances" or "children's books". Not LITERATURE. Not ever that. Our puny little fluffy brains cannot stretch to that. Literature is defined by men, apparently, and its first commandment is that its progenitors have to be men, too.

I believe I will speak for many of my (fairer) sex when I recoil from this patronizing head-patting, gather myself up to my full and not inconsiderable height, and declare... I AM NOT A MUSE - I am nobody's muse except perhaps my own. I am a writer. In my own right. I do not need to be a man's amanuensis or inspiration in order to have my own ideas and words heard. Never MIND the battle of the genders of the actual authors - I do not believe that my WORDS are tainted by my being female, or made worse by it. And neither are those of my sisters in the pen.

We are not here to guide you anywhere, gentlemen. Find your own way up the mountain. The only thing the "girls" ask of you is not to get in our way when we try to do the same, or, worse, attempt with all of your might to tell us that the mountains are just an illusion and we should lower our eyes and look back down to the ground, as we should, enver raising our gaze from the toes of our shoes. Don't tell me where I can't go. And if you can't get there by yourself, don't expect me to lead you there and then bow out as you plant your own flag on the summit and claim it for your own.

I am not a Muse. I am a WRITER. Get out of the way.

Tis the season, it would seem...


Seriously, this after a year of writing two novels (200,000 words there alone) plus all kinds of other stuff - and things ACCUMULATED. Folks, it's this simple - it's the first time I've actually seen the surface of my desk for... for ...for a long time... [gulp] (and i still have a small pile of to-deal-with stuff sitting off to the side. But enough for one day. Tmorrow. I'll have a clean(ish) office for Christmas, anyway.)

The City Where I Was Born...

that first video - more elegant, slower, with more time to look around - it shows, amongst other things, the door on the corner of Matica Srpska, the Archive of Serbia, which leads into their storefront there on the street - behind that, in teh building beyond, on many floors, along many corridors, is the gathered wealth of our language and literature, a treasure house that's been there for centuries - and the place where, in the company of my beloved grandfather, I began to fall in love with language. The video shows two church towers in loving lingering detail - the first one is the pretty colourful Catholic cathdedral which dominates the main city square, but the second, the more baroque one, belongs to the Orthodox cathedral of St George which is the place that GOd lives...

The second video, teh time-lapse one, is more manic (and the speed of life in that city is very much NOT that...) but it shows other iconic places. Dunavska Ulica (Dunavska Street) which is an old and beloved street leading from the orthodox cathedral to the park beyond where I used to stand holding onto the self-same fence around the central shown in the image there and watch the resident swans (I have a black-and-white picture of a chubby toddler that was me back then holding on to that fence which was then just chin-high and staring at the birds in the water beyond...); a glimpse of the old market to which I used to go so often with my grandmother; and, of course, the river, The River, my Danube which I love so much...

Eh. It's the end of another year. if this isn't the time for a bit of nostalgia, when is...

Spamology, November edition

1. "You are Dead". - well if this is true and you are still sending me the email that raises two possibilities. I am a ghost or I am a zombie. Although I have to admit that I have had my share of zombie-like days I don't think I have ever had a particularly strong yen for eating brain, nor has flesh been falling off me in that delectable and inimitable zombie manner (that I know of). And I am still physical enough to type this so not a ghost (maybe I am a poltergeist???) Either way, sending me this email - MULTPLE times, no less, how many times can a human being DIE, exactly? - serves zero purpose. Because I still cling to life, and the rumours of my death (to misquote with glee) have no doubt been greatly exaggerated. (By the way I have never opened one of these emails. So I have no idea what exactly they want with a dead person. Or what it is that is about to kill me. And it was entertaining the first time - I laughed, I really did. But being told that I am dead, over and over and over again, is beginning to lose its charm. So quit already. Do. Thanks.)

2) "You do not have to be afraid of loud noises". Oh. Okay. Thanks for letting me know. I'll take it under advisement.

3) a double whammy - "GENUINE letters from Santa!" and "Time is running out for your child" - seasonal nonsense, but several questions are going begging here. "Genuine" letters? Rewally? From the ACTUAL Santa? What do you know that I don't? And it's his busy season, you know. He really doesn't have the time to sit and handwrite letters to every kid out there who thinks they ought to getone. So let's ease up on the"genuine" shall we? I yanked on that beard. It comes off. it's cotton wool. Let's say no more about that. But that is followed by the rather more dire "time is running out" message. What happens after the sands run out? Does your kid start getting letters saying "you are dead", signed, Santa, merry christmas ho ho ho ho?

The endless fun in my spam folder. Really.

Brought to you as a Publice Service, so that you don't have to bother wading through the mess.

Signing off, until the next time.

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