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, Updates, Writing

The Merry Month of May

Dart Valley 2
Dart Valley Nature Reserve, 15th May 2016

Since I was walking in the woods the other day, and it being the merry merry month of May, I decided to share some photos with you while I natter about what I’ve been up to.

It’s incredible how green everything has suddenly become around here. Until very recently it’s been kind of cold for the time of year, meaning the buds and blossoms have been holding back. No longer. It’s all green, all the time. Which, in places like the above picture, mean the bluebells are out in force.

Dart Valley Bells 1You can’t see them too well in that shot, so here’s some more down beside the River Dart. Dart Valley Bells 2

These are British Bluebells, which are something of a rare breed these days, since Spanish bluebells are stronger, brighter and spread like nobody’s business from people’s gardens. In this little spot, however, they were all delicate British ones. I’ve never seen so many.

Dart Valley 1
Dart Valley Nature Reserve, May 15th 2016

This is how you can definitely tell I’m on Dartmoor. Rocks in the woods, rocks in the river. Rocks everywhere! It’s an oread paradise – look at all that moss.

Anyway, as lovely as all that has been (and it has been very lovely, and I’ve had some really good walks lately), I’ve also been busy in other areas.

Since my last catch up post, I’ve edited and read through Blazing Dawn, but I’m a little stuck. If you know of anyone who wouldn’t mind reading a dragon fantasy novel at some point over the next month, please let me know. I’m not looking for deep editing (though I never say no to picks and crits), I mostly need to know if certain plot points make sense. Of course they do to me, because they’re threads I’ve been teasing out for over a decade, but I’m not sure if it’s too obscure for other people or if it works well enough in the context of the story. So, if you know of anyone who can help, please let me know. Ta!

Away from that, I’ve left my first Regency book alone since I finished it – because I need to do some extra research and check things – and was supposed to have turned my attention away from writing for a while. However, I got itchy without typing on a daily basis, so I’m now a little over halfway through an unplanned Overworld novella, which doesn’t fit into either of my Overworld series, but I’m enjoying it immensely. I’m not at all sure where it’s heading (though I got a few inklings when I was thinking it over earlier), so I’m hoping I’m over halfway but can’t be certain. It’s at 20K at the moment, but who knows where it’ll end.

I’ve also started a second Regency novel, because why not? I’m planning to spend the next month writing it, the novella and working on Blazing Dawn. Then, come July, it’ll be time to turn back to the Aekhartain (because summer is absolutely the best time to write a winter novel), and also tidy up the details in the first Regency book. I might even come up with a name… I hope! I can’t call it Filly’s book forever. I’m also hoping I will come up with a name for the second Regency book along the way, because Matilda’s book (can you sense a theme?) doesn’t sound nearly exciting enough.

And the reason why I was supposed to be taking a break from writing these last few weeks? Well, since you asked, I’ve opened an Etsy shop and started a new blog – both called Starlight Magpie.

Here’s a little glimpse at why:

It’s been keeping me busy and I’ve been having fun with it. We’ll see how it goes. For now it’s providing a nice creative break away from writing and I’m constantly getting new ideas.

Dart Valley 3
Dart Valley Nature Reserve, 15th May 2016

Anywho, that’s what up with me. I shall leave you now with a final look along the Dart Valley.

And while we’re here, how are things with you lovely people? Has the year been treating you kindly thus far? I hope so.

I’m driving to Wales on Friday and I’m a touch nervous, but more about that another time.

For now, bask in something beautiful.

Cheers, m’dears!