The Moving Dragons Write….

In the autumn, two friends and I published an anthology of poems and stories, The Moving Dragons Write…. here are a few tasters:

Defeat

 Oppressed with foes on every side
Swords flash and ring on rival steel,
Pikes cross and clash in cruel intent.
The castle holds, but in great thrall;
As siege mounts, like an iron tide.

There is no way for loyal knights
To meet this danger to their King.
Need ties them to the western wing
Meeting the enemy thrust for thrust,
Opposing a threatened flanking move.

Suddenly they swing at our centre;
Knights and men break through.
Forced to meet this dreadful threat
We must commit our last reserves,
We advance my lord Bishops men.

But nothing can contain the breach.
Their eager forces press forward
As the bishops men falter and fall;
Till finally comes deep despair,
Our once impregnable castle falls.

In all this wreck and devastation,
Confounded by our circling foes,
We now enfold our once proud king.
We raise him high, then down,
Prostrate across the checker board.

© John Watts

 

Hamazasb and the Lost Shoe

Hamazasb… At night he leaves the carousel and with his friends he leaps to the skies and flies free among the clouds. He is not the fastest, he is not the strongest, but he is the most courageous! His shoes are shod in gold, his armour is lapis lazuli, studded with garnets, amethysts, topaz and tourmalines. His mane is dyed with woad and plaited with fibres of gold, his saddle is burnished copper.

Did he once lose a shoe? Did a gold nail catch against the canopy of the carousel as he flew into the night, did the shoe work loose and fall to earth, for some innocent child to pick up as a pretty thing? Who knows!

One dawn, as the first light of the not yet risen sun streaked the sky with the palest blue and apricot, the horses returned… except for  Hamazasb…as he flew into the night a gold nail from his golden shoe caught against the canopy of the carousel. Anxious to fly into the clouds and near the stars he did not notice the shoe becoming loose, and when, glancing down he saw something falling in a shower of golden sparks, he thought it was a shooting star… it was his golden shoe, and without it he could not find his way back to the carousel.

Pangolin – his name means scaly ant-eater. He was teased about his beautiful enamel plaques on his criniere and croupiere and on his flanchard, and called ‘pangolin’, ant-eater… but he thought it a pretty name, and as the horse with the best sense of humour on the carousel, he adopted it, and bears it with pride.

Kakhaberi, his name is mysterious and comes from the East. He is the strongest of the horses, and the quietest; he is brave and fearless and loves his companions.

When Hamazasb did not return as the sun painted the land with light, Kakhaberi was anxious and uneasy; sometimes it had happened before that one of the horses had strayed too far, but this time, Kakhaberi felt something was wrong. Hamazasb was not foolish, or over-excitable, he would have returned, if he could… something was wrong…

© Lois Elsden

Ghost Word

You might laugh me out of the text but I think is etymological discrimination. Just you check and see how many times little words like ‘the’ and ‘and’ get used compared to me. I understand the argument about conjunctions and articles being used a lot because they are essential to the smooth running of the prose but what about real meaning?

Now there is something that is vital to any exposition, have you seen what Elmore Leonard used to do to his novels? I never rated them myself and I think some of the readers who raved about them could be described as me; I mean, he never really even describes his characters properly and leaves out the bits that readers would skip anyway. That’s no good, novels are supposed to be hard work aren’t they?

I think my basic problem is that I was born as an adjective. Now, what is the essence of adjective? What is its function?  The humans always boast ‘I think therefore I am’. The most an adjective can say is that ‘I describe therefore I am’. This means that my existence depends on someone using me to describe something or someone else. I have no independent existence, I always have to depend on a noun being available that I can apply myself to.

Don’t get me started on nouns. Do you know how arrogant they are? ‘I am therefore I am’, they always say, relishing their independent existence. And as for gerunds, they are even worse, seeing themselves as upmarket nouns, ‘we can do the job of both nouns and verbs,’ they boast, ‘I am and do therefore I am.’ Snobs, all of them.

Yes, I’m afraid I suffer from the adjective’s perennial problem, low esteem. I have been to see my Thesaurus, Dr Roget, but she wasn’t much help.

‘You should just accept your place in the lexicon and be happy with that,’ she said. ‘You have had a good life, I know you were in the Army, the Paras wasn’t it? That gave you a chance to travel and I believe Jonathan Swift wrote all about your adventures around the world.’

‘Yes, but even he spelt my name wrong. You’d think a man of the church would go to the trouble of getting that right wouldn’t you?

© Richard Kefford

If you want to find out more about the lost shoe, or ghost words, or to read more poems by John Watts, here is a link to our anthology, The Moving Dragons Write:

http://amzn.eu/j0rtYVQ

 

Birthdays

Because my birthday is so near the beginning of the year, somehow it seems like the actual beginning of the year! I reflect on the past year since my last lot of candles on the cake, and look forwards to the year ahead. I guess being January – named for Janus the god of gates and doorways, the two-faced god looking forwards and backwards, inwards and outwards, it is a time for doing that. It comes not that long after the solstice so already the earth is turning from winter towards summer.

Here’s something I wrote a couple of years ago about January:

The name of the first month of the year comes from the Roman god of doorways, Janus, who is traditionally depicted with two faces, looking back and looking forward. It maybe a cliché but the phrase, ‘when one door shuts another opens’, is so true, especially if we wait patiently for that door to spring wide and then step resolutely through! It is more than finding the silver lining inside the gloomy cloud, it is more active than that; firmly shut the door on what has happened (even if it seems as if the door slammed of its own accord) and then look in unexpected places for the next door to dance through. The Saxon name for January is Wulf-monath, wolf month… and doesn’t the name just conjure those long, grim wild creatures sloping off through the snowy forests in search of prey. It may be a lean time, but wolves are bright-eyed and strong, and fearless.

My daughter asked me what I wanted to achieve this year… Gosh! What a question… first answer, to finish my next Radwinter book, Saltpans, and then I have other writing projects to tackle, which I listed the other day, but here is a brief selection –

  • my character Gus has been wandering the water-meadows near his seaside home, and visiting the pub and attending quiz night with various people – it really is about time his story was finished
  • another of my characters, Theo, the half-Danish half-Swedish musician has also had more than enough of wandering around from job to job and crappy room to crappy room – and he has met a lady who is gradually falling in love with him! Their situation needs to be resolved!
  • I may not finish my autobiographical writing, but I need to get to grips with it – I have a title ‘And the River’ – maybe it will be finished in 2019!
  • I have another blog with two friends, The Moving Dragon Writes; we have published one anthology and hope to publish another this year. One of my fellow Dragons and I have also set ourselves the challenge of writing 73 blogs from a list we came across – we are about a quarter of the way through and very pleased(I hope not in a big-headed way) at what we have achieved. We hope that we will bring these seventy-three different blogs together and publish in three volumes… or maybe four, it depends how long the different ‘chapters’ are!
  • come November and it will be the National Novel Writing Month challenge which maybe I will undertake, for the sixth time. (I am going to leave 2017’s effort about a mysterious woman called Milla; I’ll come back to it when I’ve got my other unfinished stories complete!) For NaNoWriMo 2018 I may start the next Radwinter story, ‘Alone’.

So what else do I hope to achieve this year… travel, definitely! We don’t know Dorset very well, so maybe explore that lovely county, a return to the Tenby area where my family had a couple of very happy holidays, maybe visit Turkey – yes, I would love to go there! … and of course, a dream would be to return to Tasmania!

… and on a very mundane level… try and tidy the house and garden!!

Here are some links:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com

http://amzn.eu/9xZe2RA

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

… oh and also get fitter and lose weight!!

More from the dragons –

It’s a couple of months since two friends and I published an anthology of prose, poetry and other writing.It’s called The Moving Dragons Write and it’s available on Amazon.

Here is the introduction:

For a couple of years, the three of us,  Lois, John and Richard, have successfully shared our thoughts with the world through our blog; The Moving Dragon Writes is a medley of stories, poems and articles, a whole kaleidoscope of different writing. Our name came from the symbol of the county where we live, the Somerset dragon, and the well-known words ‘the moving finger having writ…’
Since we started The Moving Dragon Writes, we have collected readers and followers from around the world – especially from North America, and we have opened our blog to others. We have supported and encouraged new writers of all genres, promoting and sharing their work too, giving a platform for many people who have never had the confidence or opportunity to do so before. We continue to do this and welcome new writers.
As well as the blog, we have pursued our own writing goals, individually publishing our novels, short stories and poetry. It was at one of our dragonmeets, on a spring afternoon, when it occurred to us… we could publish an anthology together, “our own Dragon Writes book which can include some of the best of our work from the blog!” This anthology is, we hope, only the first, and we are tentatively planning volume II – Earth, Fire, Water.

… and here are our biographies:

Richard – I joined the Royal Navy from school, following this with an engineering career in industry. I studied geology and creative writing with the Open University from 2008 until I graduated with a BSc in July 2014. I found my writing voice during my time with the OU. There was a pause in the Earth Science courses so I filled it with two short writing courses. I was hooked and now find that I have to write, every day and anything. The odd day that I don’t write, I spend thinking about writing, usually out on the hills. I live in Somerset, where I enjoy writing, hill walking, researching and writing about geology and practical geology, trying to understand the geological history of the local area.

Lois – I have written all my life but it was only when I was able to give up the day job of teaching that I was able to write full-time. Writing is my passion; I write every day, I write from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed. When I am not writing, I am still thinking about it and following my stories in my head. I live in a small village by the sea in Somerset, and when I’m not writing I like relaxing in my local, watching the world go by, and going to live music events.

John – I was born and bred in Somerset and had a fairly extrovert life working in insurance; it was only on retirement that I started to write poetry. It then seemed to me that here, as in other arts of our age, uncertainty and complication, rather than classical spontaneity was now the norm. My aspirations in writing certainly veer towards the latter, which, I believe, still has a large following. I hope you will find my work enjoyable, or at least easily understood.

25,000 done, 25,000 to go!

You may be a person who looks at the title of this blog and knows exactly what I mean – or you may be baffled!

The 25,000 refers to words – since November 1st I have written twenty-five thousand (and 42) words as part of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge… it’s an on-line challenge, there are no prizes except knowing you have completed the challenge and achieved the goal!

So I am halfway through, and as you may realise today is the two-thirds mark… so I have ten days to write the remaining 25,000 (well, 24, 958 to be precise) words… Can I do it? I hope so, but it will be head down!

The thing is, as well as writing my story – which is about a woman with a mystery past who arrives in the small coast la town of Easthope – as well as writing about my mystery woman, I am also writing here every day, and writing for the blog I share with two friends, The Moving Dragon Writes… plus other stuff as well, of course! To be truthful though, during this stressful and busy time (I’m also doing an on-line course on submarine archaeology) I have shared some blogs which I wrote several years ago, with introductions and added comments, but some of the things I’ve written have been quite long…

So supposing each thing I have shared here over the last month (sixty of them) and the ones I have shared on the other blog, (say ten of them) was on average 400 words long (a conservative estimate) then that make an approximate total of about 28,000 words… so if I added that to my NaNoWriMo total… wow! I’ve made it, 53,042!!!

Obviously, I am going to try to complete the challenge by writing 50,000 words about my mystery woman, but ti just shows how much i actually do write… No wonder i don’t have tome to do the dusting!!

If you want to read the fruits of my labours, I have published thirteen novels (one in paperback), three reluctant reader stories, one writing guide, an anthology with my Moving Dragon friends, then here is a link – I’m sure you will enjoy them, pleasae let me know what you think!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

and a link to the Moving Dragon blog:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com

Roar!!! The Moving Dragons speak!!

I mentioned that I have collaborated with two friends to publish an anthology of poetry,stories and other writings. We came together to form our small group from a creative writing class; we called ourselves The Moving Dragons and we started a blog with the idea of sharing not only our own work, but that of other people too (get in touch if you have something you’d like to share, with links and credits etc of course!)

https://wordpress.com/stats/day/somersetwriters.wordpress.com

From our blog, came the idea of an anthology – and we’re so delighted and thrilled to have made that idea a reality!

From the introduction:

For a couple of years, the three of us,  Lois, John and Richard, have successfully shared our thoughts with the world through our blog; The Moving Dragons Write is a medley of stories, poems and articles, a whole kaleidoscope of different writing. Our name came from the symbol of the county where we live, the Somerset dragon, and the well-known words ‘the moving finger having writ…’

Here are some samples:

… a poem from me –

The Thermos Flask

 Have you ever wondered,
You who abandoned your flask on a rock
Near Dunseverick Castle,
Have you ever thought about your flask?
Do you remember the times you used it, the picnics, the walks,
Or taking it to work?
Have you still the cup?
Because when we found it, standing all alone,
A sentinel waiting to be recalled,
It had no cup.

© Lois  Elsden 2017

 … the opening to a short story from Richard –

Saying Goodbye to Ouray

I first saw Łyżka when he was benching on Main Street, just along from the Post Office. Every store has a bench out on the sidewalk. It’s mostly oldsters and young Moms, with children in strollers, who sit there gossiping, so it was kinda unusual to see a black t-shirt. I checked him out with a passing glance and moved on, casually scored him as us gals do.

He came into the bar late the next evening and asked me for a table for one, upstairs in the restaurant. He was good-looking but in an understated sorta way. I liked the way he looked me in the eye when he talked to me. He said his name was Whistler, or something like that anyways. He had the most beautiful, liquid brown eyes. I think I was attracted to him from the get-go.

I’m from Ridgway, a few miles up valley. I left there because it was so stuck in the past. Yeah, sure, I have been to the other towns around the area. I quite like Silverton and Teluride, probably because they aren’t too big. I once went down valley to Durango but there were too many people, too many cars, and too many buildings there for a small-town girl like me on my own. I feel I know most of the eight hundred or so folks in Ouray, to nod and say ‘Hi’ to anyways.

The winter season brings outdoor types in their SUVs for the skiing and ice climbing while summer brings the hog riders along the San Juan Skyway before noising up and down Main Street. They clog the bars and generally seem to say, ‘look at me with my shiny Harley, ain’t I good-looking with my beard, shades, bandana and dangerous black t-shirt?’ I don’t like ‘em ‘cos they hassle me at work. I have figured out how to deal with them but there is a new crop every year that I have to get trained.

I’m Mary-Lou Ellis but everyone calls me Dish at work. I got asked a heap of times if I was the dish of the day so it was easier to give in and answer to the name. It’s printed on the front of my t-shirt now – that’s where most of the guys look first anyway.

I’ve been with my boyfriend, Rick, for a coupla years now. We’re saving hard to get enough dollars together to get married. I work all the hours I can get in the tourist seasons while Rick gets some good tips from his clients when he takes them out in the San Juan Mountains, either in his jeep or hiking, in the summer. He teaches ice climbing down at the Ice Park during the winter. With my long hours and him being away so much, we don’t see as much of each other as we would like

© Richard Kefford 2017

… a poem from John –

Doddler

Why not move across, old chap,
Then I can pass and onward go.
It’s best to drive upon the left
It doesn’t impede the traffic flow.

You surely can’t wish to annoy
By fixation on a different place,
A missing chord, a family tiff,
A soccer match or motor race?

Can it be that mind so firmly set
On some great philosophic plane,
Means I must trail in your wake
With all behind me in your train?

What ultra careless arrogance
Prompts you to such calumny.
What super oblivious ego trip
Strangles half the motorway.

I can but muse, and dreaming see
Wild fancies. Could I but instruct
That mid-lane doddlers cease to be
And never ever again obstruct.

I could fly close upon your tail,
Watching cross-hairs drawing in.
Then rake you with a hail of lead
And see your deadly flaming spin.

Or joyfully, abaft the beam, set
Rolling fire from each gun deck;
Gloating as iron and grape hit home
To render you a splintered wreck.

© John J.C. Watts 2017

Here is a link to where you can get a copy of our anthology:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Moving-Dragons-Write-Dragon-Writes/dp/1549881809/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510742357&sr=8-1&keywords=lois+elsden

Day 12… NaNo update…

I was going to preface my update by saying it’s been such a busy time in my life… well, it seems these days all the time is a busy time! 2016 was the year of throwing things away – not into the rubbish (although some things did go there) but to charity shops, given to others, recycled… I cleared the decks of much clutter and our usually untidy home had some sort of order restored.  As with many families these days, children who fled the nest have, or are in the process of, returning – so suddenly all our lovely space is being filled up with … things! We are delighted to have them home but it just takes a little organising, to cram three households of stuff in together.

On the writing front I and my fellow bloggers on our Moving Dragons blog have been putting an anthology together, which is now published and available (and we would welcome your comments and reviews on Amazon), and I have at last made my reluctant readers books available on Etsy as actual books, and on Amazon as Kindle e-readers.

As well as my blog here, the Moving Dragons blog and the National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, which I shall tell you about in a minute, I am continuing to try to finish my next Radwinter book, in time to be published spring 2018… I am also hoping to produce my second Radwinter book as a paperback.

Oh, and there’s the rest of my life, including the creative writing classes I lead, the writing groups I go to, the French class and the Saxish class I attend… oh and meeting friends, going places… the usual stuff!

So… how has NaNo been going? I’ve mentioned that I intended to write about a long-standing character in search of a story… however he has wandered off, and instead I am writing about Milla who has come to my imaginary town of Easthope. She is a woman with a mystery past, which has not yet been revealed to the reader. Over the twelve days I have been writing about her, her character is gradually developing, especially as she is coming into contact with other people – the other people who live in the house where she’s renting a room, people in a café where she’s been working part-time, other people from around the town.

She has created what amounts a set of runes, which she is ‘reading’ each day, by taking one at random and bearing it in mind as the day progresses. In order to do this I do have a made up set of images which I am randomly picking out – so in a way the writing of the story is guided by chance. I have got to a point now, where I feel as if something has to happen… there has to be some action and movement to keep the reader engaged because otherwise this will just seem like the diary of an uneventful life – and even if there is some strange secret in Milla’s past, by the time it is revealed the reader won’t be reading any more!

Another thing has struck me which I must have a good think about – if I have time to think as I pound away trying to reach my target… Milla’s character. To be sure she is mysterious, but she is gradually changing into a stock female character without an actual character – she has no personality!

So that’s my task for the next few days, to discover her character, and make sure she is interesting and different!

Here is a link to our anthology:

The Moving Dragons Write:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Moving-Dragons-Write-Dragon-Writes/dp/1549881809/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510513816&sr=8-1&keywords=Lois+elsden

And to my ‘Can read, won’t read series’:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/550200668/lois-elsden-reluctant-readers-collection

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Run-Blue-books-reluctant-readers-ebook/dp/B0771HH6HW/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1510513816&sr=8-16&keywords=Lois+elsden

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Screaming-Harry-books-reluctant-readers-ebook/dp/B0771G968M/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1510513816&sr=8-13&keywords=Lois+elsden

 

Exciting dragon news!

I’ve mentioned a few times that I share another blog with two writer friends; w are The Moving Dragon Writes, and our blog is a real mixture of all types of writing and all genre. Not only so we share what we have written , we share other people’s work too. So if you have anything you would like to have on our site then we will post it with links back to your blog, web-page, Amazon page etc. Over the last few months we Moving Dragons (the name comes from Edward Fitzgerald translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, – ‘the moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on’, plus our county symbol, the Somerset dragon) – we have been getting an anthology of a selection of our work together, and hurrah! at last it is published and available:.

This is how we presented it on our blog:

We have some very, very exciting news for you!!

It’s a big day in an author’s literary life when a book that has been thought about, created, written, rewritten, edited, formatted and finally, launched.

Today is one of those days, as we publish a book!! We have published books individually before but this is the first time that the three of us Dragons have collaborated to produce a collection of our work as an anthology, appropriately titled ‘The Moving Dragons Write‘.

This follows on from the success of our blog which has become a platform, not just for the three of us but also for our growing list of contributing authors.

We three ‘Dragons’, Brimdraca (Lois), Eorðdraca (Richard) and Fyrdraca (John) hope that this anthology shows that Aristotle was right when he said,  ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,. and  we hope you enjoy this first showcase of our work.

As with all of our books, The Moving Dragons Write is available from Amazon. Just follow one of the links below:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=searchalias%3Daps&fieldkeywords=lois+elsden&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Alois+elsden

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_2?ie=UTF8&text=Richard+Kefford&search-alias=books-uk&field-author=Richard+Kefford&sort=relevancerank

OR
https://tinyurl.com/y7lxzejx