Overworld, Updates

Hello, 2018

Houndtor Haze

Two weeks into January, and so far the year is bumping along much like the old one did. Plenty of things to do, plenty of other things getting in the way and trying to do their best to make sure I don’t get things done, same old, same old.

No worries. This year I have decided I’m not going to make predictions, I’m not going to set any schedules, I will simply set out to achieve things and hope I manage to get them done eventually. I do have a list, but I’m keeping it private for now and will only talk about things that have actually been finished.

Which leads me to… AQUILA’S WAR (Wingborn book 5) IS DONE!

This was my NaNoWriMo project from last year that got derailed mid-November, and I wasn’t able to pick it up again until the start of this month. But after putting in an extra 36K words, it is done! WHOO! It needs a lot of work and there are a few characters and plot lines I might have accidentally forgotten, but that can be cleaned up later. For now it’s all done and the sixth and final Wingborn book is poking me with ideas, so I might just give in and write it next.

I have also finally gathered all the pieces together to puzzle out where the Dragonlands series is headed, which is also a big relief. Looking forward to sorting that one out.

Right now I’m trying to catch up with all the things that got dropped last year and putting other plans into place for future things this year. I’m also kicking around a few ideas of what I’ll tackle once Wingborn is done. I might take a break from the Overworld for a bit, but I might also stay put since there are a couple of stories trying to catch my attention. Lots of things to ponder.

In the meantime, I hope 2018 is treating you fairly thus far, and that your goals and plans – whatsoever they may be – bear the right kind of fruit for you.

Overworld, Updates

February Update

Black Tor, Feb 2017

I’m currently hard at work on the last round of Rift Riders edits, prepping it for its ebook release in a couple of weeks, but since it’s the last day of the month I thought it was time for an update.

So far this year, my productivity hasn’t been too high. In fact, writing has been a bit of a struggle, which is why I’ve been fairly quiet around here. I’m hoping to change that after Rift is out and I can turn my attention back to Burning Sky.

My current tentative plans are to hopefully write Dragonlands 4 and 5 while giving Wingborn another going over and tweaking Blazing Dawn. I’ve already rewritten a few chunks of BD, but there are a few more things I’d like to tackle before I can release the updated version and hopefully work on a print edition. As such, my plans for Storm Rising (Dragonlands 2) have been pushed back to May/June. Hopefully by then I’ll have a much firmer idea of where the series is going and can feel confident in releasing them.

Luckily, Dragongift, the third Wingborn book, is already written and short of a few brief edits is ready and raring to go from March 17th. I have a lot of love for this book, so I hope everyone else enjoys it just as much. It’s different again from both WB and RR, with a more exploratory feel, but it’s the same characters and the same world, so I hope you’ll be back to continue the adventure.

And lastly, fans of A Courtship of Dragons should be pleased to know that I have a vague idea where it’s all headed now. However, I haven’t had a chance to write any more lately so, sorry, but there won’t be an update this week. Hopefully by next week I’ll have more to offer and I might even be inspired enough to finish it.

That ought to cover everything. I’ll be adding a few deleted Wingborn scenes over the next few weeks, and even a glimpse or two of the original book from my teenage years. I’m also considering what to do with my Regency romances and having a few rumbling thoughts about the next Aekh book. So even though I may be a bit quiet (beyond serial updates) there’s always something going on.

As always, thanks for reading, you lovely people, and I hope to have more goodies to share with you soon.

A Bit of Me

Photo Friday

Sparrow 1

Still waiting for Kindle to publish (this is why I usually leave it to go through overnight), so I thought I’d post some photos instead. I take so many but share so few, so here’s a small selection of Dartmoor’s Bronze Age stone circles, as presided over by the Sparrow Cat, and taken by me over the last year or so.

Stones Fernworthy 1First up is Fernworthy, also known as Froggymead circle. This is a small circle, that might not be too impressive compared to some others, especially since it’s been surrounded by a forest plantation over the last century. And yet, I find it has its own charm. It was the first stone circle I went purposefully looking for on the moor, since it’s not too tricky to get to, so it’ll always remain something of a favourite. I like the way the stones get bigger on the south side. No one quite knows why. Then again, no one really knows why the Bronze Age stone circle builders did anything.

Stones Fernworthy 2

There are a number of barrows close by, as well as a double stone row that leads to what might once have been a burial cist, but the trees have pretty much destroyed them all. The stone row is through the gap in the trees and is strangely cute, since it exists of tiny stones barely visible over the grass. Not very impressive in photographs though.

Unlike this place:

Stones Grey Wethers 3

A couple of miles away from Fernworthy – as the crow flies, the trees mean walking takes a bit more time and effort – are the Grey Wethers, an unusual pair of stone circles sitting next to each other. They’re the only ones like this on the moor, and were both extensively “repaired” during the Victorian era, but they’re all the more impressive for it. Especially after a long walk, when you first see them appearing atop the hill beyond the stone wall on a spectacular April day.

Stones Grey Wethers 1 Stones Grey Wethers 2

They’re also unusual because of the size and uniformity of their stones. Other old monuments on the moor seem to almost revel in the odd shaped stones they could find and use, but the Grey Wethers are strange little oblongs. There are a bundle of local legends about them, most including sheep turned to stone, hence the name.

Stones Grey Wethers 4 Stones Grey Wethers 5Stones Grey Wethers 6 Stones Grey Wethers 7

Some people have suspected the stones were worked, but apparently there are a lot of stones like this on Sittaford tor – which you can’t see in these photos because it was behind me.

Seen enough?

Sparrow 2

No, of course not!

Stones Scorhill 1 Stones Scorhill 2

Welcome to Scorhill Circle! Which I first visited on a misty early October morning. Very atmospheric, don’t you think? Well, what a difference three weeks makes!

Stones Scorhill 3

I think of all the circles I’ve managed to visit so far, Scorhill is my favourite. The drive to get there is a bit tricky at times, but the walk to reach the circle is really nice, and there’s plenty of other things of interest to visit nearby. However, it’s the circle itself that I really love. It wasn’t “restored” by the Victorians, so it’s a bit more quirky and damaged from where stones have vanished over the years, and the tallest stone really looms over the others at around eight feet high.
Stones Scorhill 4

Those dark hills on the left horizon are actually the trees you can see behind the Grey Wethers circles in the first picture, and somewhere between the two lies Fernworthy circle (and reservoir and forest). And if you continue on that path through the circle, it would take you north and in a shallow arch to three more circles – each 1-2 miles apart – forming the “sacred crescent” of circles on the moor. An eighth of which was discovered only recently a little south of the Grey Wethers (Sittaford circle).

Stones Scorhill 5

But that’s not all Scorhill has to offer, because just a short walk on down the hill leads to the North Teign. Which was looking pretty gorgeous back in late October.

Stones Scorhill 6.jpg

It’s worth a little trek down to the river for its own sake, but there’s also the Tolmen stone to encounter. (Which is why I went down there in the first place, of course.)

Stones Scorhill 7

That completely natural hole is plenty big enough for a person to travel through (about a metre diameter). I know ’cause I scrambled over and dangled myself most of the way through it. I didn’t fancy a full dip, though, so I wimped out. Still, it’s pretty impressive – and of course has a heap of folklore surrounding it, from druids (because it’s always druids) to health cures. It would certainly make for a highly symbolic purification rite.

There’s also a couple of stone rows, a massive menhir and an ancient settlement nearby, but I think this post has enough photos in already, so I shall leave them for another day and go back to waiting for Kindle.

Sparrow 3

Merry Friday, everyone!

A Bit of Me, Writing

Feeling Off-Kilter

Dart Valley Rain 1
Dart Valley Nature Reserve, 12th June 2016

I’ve been feeling a little off-kilter for the last few weeks. Reading hasn’t been the joy it usually is, writing became a bit of chore, I had a run of headaches and was generally feeling rubbish.

This isn’t unusual for me, I’m used to these feelings cropping up sooner or later, but it’s the first time for a while that all things lost colour all at once. I felt a bit like the bluebells in the bottom right hand corner of the top photo, trying my hardest to keep going yet somehow getting overtaken by the super-fast bracken that sprung up from nowhere! Or maybe the oak tree, stretching all my limbs in one direction only to find the sun has shifted to rise behind me.

Dart Valley Rain 3
Dart Valley, 12th June 2016

It’s not so terrible a feeling, and is mostly brought on by tiredness and a general feeling of being run down, but I wasn’t expecting it all at once so it knocked me back a bit.


Sometimes it’s a simple thing to fix – a good walk, usually on Dartmoor, often works wonders. So a couple of weekends ago I went back to the Dart Valley, since the weather was showery and I didn’t want to get caught out somewhere high if it turned nasty. I was half-hoping that the foxgloves would have come out.

Wow, was I wrong. Turns out the bluebells are going stronger than ever and the undergrowth has exploded! Here are some pictures from 15th May next to my last visit on the 12th June. It’s like someone jammed the grow switch on or something. Moss, ferns, leaves, go!

Dart Valley 2 Dart Valley Rain 4

Dart Valley 1 Dart Valley Rain 5

It was lovely down there, and this time there weren’t a bunch of campers cluttering the place up so I could get much closer to the water. I’m not very good at sharing my favourite spaces with other people, but one of the best things about this place is that a lot of people don’t realise it’s down there, so it’s pretty peaceful and quiet – when the campers aren’t about anyway ;)

It was even lovelier when the sun poked its head out for a bit.

Dart Valley Rain 7
River Dart, 12th June 2016

I caught a faint shower on the way back up the hill, but by the time I reached the top the sun was blazing and I was startled by a bunch of sheep who looked very unimpressed by me. I would have taken a picture but the ewe was looking at me funny and I didn’t want to disturb the lambs, so I left them to it and decided to clamber down a very (very) steep slope to see how far along the Venn Brook (which flows into the Dart) I could get. I’d seen a picture of a waterfall down there and wanted to try and find it. Well, I think I did, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There’s not much of a path and I didn’t pick the best time to walk it, since everything is growing like mad. Maybe I’ll try again in the winter.

Dart Valley Venn
Venn Brook (not the falls, unless they’re really weedy or those ferns are enormous!)

Still, it is very pretty down there. A proper fairy glen.

And the climb back up was rough. I followed a bunch of hoof prints from the Clydesdale Heavy Horse Adventure rides, and I felt so jealous! I went on a ride with them last year and it was amazing, but I really wished I had a horse, any horse, when I was scrambling back up that slope. Served me right.

Dart Valley Rain 2
Dart Valley, 12th June 2016

Sadly the walk itself didn’t sort my head out as much as I hoped, but putting my fiction reading aside for a few days and immersing myself into some non-fiction definitely helped out on that score. On the writing side, I abandoned everything at the end of last week and watched How to Train Your Dragon 2 instead. I hadn’t seen it for ages and it was a perfect tonic. Add in a few naps and I seem to have recovered my writing zest too. I’m now closing in on the end of the Viscount book.

Dart Valley Rain 6
River Dart, 12th June 2016

At least I was until the characters decided to take a road trip. Argh! Don’t they know how difficult it is to find and read Regency era road maps from Devon to Norfolk on my phone?
I also looked up the symptoms for syphilis, just to stop my Google search history from getting boring. It’s probably best that cocaine usage post-dates this era, else I’d have that research on top, with a little opium addiction for extra colour. At least it isn’t poisons or the best natural treatments for burns and bruises or how long it actually takes to throttle someone this time.

I’m not a serial murderer in training, I promise. It’s all research – er, not that kind of research. Oh, never mind!

Ah well, at least my equilibrium is mostly back, so that’s gotta be good. Even if Google is looking at me funny.

Merry Wednesday, everyone, I hope you’ve been enjoying Midsummer, or if you be on the lower half of the world, I hope you’re enjoying being halfway out of the dark!

(And for those who are interested, new dragons can be found on Starlight Magpie. Along with an Ivy Witch and hares on rocks. If you’re curious, go and see.)

A Bit of Me, Books, Overworld, Updates, Writing

Catching Up: Feb-May

As there isn’t a midweek Wingborn update this week (contain yourselves) and we’ve hit the halfway point in the book, I thought I’d catch everyone up on what I’ve been up to lately.

Bagtor Feb
Haytor from Bagtor Feb 2016

As the picture shows, I’ve been walking on Dartmoor a fair bit, when the weather allows. You’d never know from that particular picture that it was bitterly cold up there that day, with a wind blowing hard enough to almost knock me over! (Ignore the shape of the tree, it’s always like that. Growing on the moors tends to have that effect on the vegetation.)

It’s been a very strange start to the year in many ways, not least weatherwise, but now that May is here things seem to be settling down a bit. Especially when it comes to writing.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve finished two books!

The first, Blazing Dawn, is an Overworld book, set a few centuries before Wingborn when women were still allowed in the Rift Riders and the dragons still interacted with humans. That’s where this series is set, the Dragonlands, where a certain fiery Blazeborn elder has been unhappily assigned as a delegate to the new human ambassador and her Rift Rider retinue.

Mini Khennik Blossom
Mini Khennik amidst the greengage blossoms

The dragon is called Khennik and he’s the sort of hero who if you’d asked him to save the world would say, “Not today, I’m busy.” But if you asked him to help his kin and Clan, would lay down his life before you finished the question. He’s contrary and grumpy, prone to bursting into flames, and I’m really rather fond of him.

Mini Dragons 1

Here Mini Khennik is hanging out with a few of his fellow Blazing Dawn characters on some pieces of Dartmoor quartz. Junior Archivist Reglian is the black and gold dragon, Elder Goryal is the little grey one, stony Estenarven is beside him, while poor watery Mastekh is lying off to one side. They all have their parts to play in the story, some more successfully than others, and there are plenty of Rift Riders to get to know too. Not least Nera, a young lieutenant out in the world for the first time.

You might also be able to tell that I’ve been playing with polymer clay a bit lately, but more on that some other time.

The second book I finished just last week. It doesn’t have a title yet, but it’s a Regency Romance! I love reading books in this genre and I’ve had a few ideas for my own over the years. I originally started this one almost ten years ago, but it’s been mouldering away, stalled at only three chapters ever since. I thought I’d give it another go and see if I could actually finish it – and I did! It’s still very rough and needs a lot of work, but it’s set in the country, has a rather put-upon heroine, a scarred up hero and some annoyingly cute kids running around. I had fun writing it, so I hope people will enjoy reading it. I’ll also be releasing it under a different name, but again, more on that some other time.

Aside from the fact that I’m really pleased to have finished these two books, they also have a couple of surprising things in common. They’re both old stories I started ages ago (Blazing Dawn didn’t even get past the first chapter), neither of them turned out at all like I expected, they’re both longer than I intended, and they’re both firsts in their own ways: my first completed Regency and the first time I’ve actually managed to finish a book with a dragon as the main protagonist. This last one is particularly surprising since I love dragons and have written a fair few over the years, but clearly they prove more tricky than I ever expect.

So, as you can see, writing continues apace. Over the next few months I’ll be polishing both books up and turning my attention back to the Aekhartain again. I’ll also be considering what I’ll do after the serialisation of Wingborn ends. I think I’d like to try it with something else, but I’ll be writing it as I go this time. I haven’t what decided yet, but I’m open to suggestion if anyone has anything they want to know more of.

In the meantime, I shall leave you with a final couple of pictures.

One of the things I love best about walking on Dartmoor at this time of year (or in the lanes closer to home, because I am very lucky) is hearing the skylarks. Their numbers are supposedly dropping nationwide, but you’d never know it if you walk regularly around these parts. Here’s one I spotted the other day when walking to Laughter Tor.

Laughter Skylark

It’s perched atop a prehistoric menhir, Loughtor Man, which stands at 2.4 metres tall.

Louden Man
Loughtor Man, April 2016

Apparently it once stood in the centre of a small cairn, with stone rows around it. Now it stands mostly alone, save for the occasional walker or skylark stopping by for a rest or to admire the view.

And on that note, I shall leave you all in peace. I hope the world and the weather is treating you kind wheresoever you may be. I shall be back soon with more Wingborn and perhaps a photo or two of places I’ve been along the way.

Merry midweek, everyone!