Wandering at the Shadows' Edge

exploring potential and possibility

Mapping the Shadows

One of the things I’m not good at is following up on ideas.  I get great ideas and intentions, and then forget to follow up on them. There are a couple of different ways I’m trying to map out tasks and ideas I need to follow up on.

I’ve created my own “planner.”  It won’t really kick in until the new year, but it is helping me keep track of the events and tasks that are easily planned and scheduled. Once the new year starts I’ll probably add a bullet journal into it. I’ll try to include pictures once I figure out how I’m going use it.

I also have a “creative” journal – the idea was to divide each pair of pages up into seven sections and then decorate each of the sections with something that applied to that day. It could just be the date and a freehand background design or it could include other decorative items like tape or stickers. It could include the horrible drawings that I do – because I haven’t sat down and applied myself to actually learning to draw LOL.   Great idea – execution not so great.  Sometimes I remember to decorate a section and sometimes I don’t. It really depends on how many things I have on my mental list for the day.

I got smart and put all my writing ideas in one place. When I’m ready to take one from concept-and-notes to actual story, I transform the concept card/folder into its own file. And for the series that wasn’t supposed to be a series 😉 I’m creating a “canon” book or story “bible” so that I don’t lose details about characters, places, timelines, etc.

I’m still working on finding the combination of things that will let me map the shadows effectively.

How do you map your journeying?

Words That Light the Path

The past week my concentration has been writing-related. If you saw the previous post, I’m sure you’ll understand why.

As a result, I’ve been doing very little crafting. I’ve done some knitting on an ongoing shawl project, but that’s about it.

So…. I’m going to keep things writing related and recommend a few authors who inspire me.

Nathan Lowell 

I adore his Solar Clipper/ Deep Dark stories.  The main characters aren’t “heroes”. They are everyday people who make the effort to look outside of the boxes they are familiar with. In Quarter Share, the lead character’s first accomplishment is making good coffee! Ishmael’s stories go with me every time I travel. They’re old friends that I never tire of catching up on. At the same time, I avidly look forward to Nathan’s new stories – especially those in the Solar Clipper/Deep Dark universe.

Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

From their self published and small press works to their traditionally published novels, I’ve loved everything – fiction and non-fiction – I’ve read. Both are extremely approachable on social media as well.  If you want a fun entry point to steampunk, that involves more than just pasting gears on to things, try their Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series.

Scott Sigler

If you like horror, sci-fi, or football, take a look at Scott’s works. Though he has lousy taste in beer, he’s a wonderful storyteller, and for a “Future Dark Overlord (FDO)”, he’s a pretty decent guy. I don’t know if he’ll remember the “brewmistress” after all these years, but I remember the Houston book signing for Infected and being asked what beer at the brewpub he should get.  Then there was the first Podcasters’ Pimp party at DragonCon 2007 when he learned I’d brought my own homebrewed beer.  😉

There are other authors I adore – but they have larger, traditional publishing audiences.  These authors are perhaps (Scott is a NYT bestseller) less well known. But they are all authors that I’ve personally met – back in the early days of podcasting. They’ve chosen to blaze non-traditional paths for others, including myself, to follow, and for the most part not gotten the credit or recognition they deserve. They helped to set me on the path to publication, encouraged me in podcasting, brewing, and writing. The least I can do is give them a shout out here.

These are some of the authors that light the paths through the shadows for me. Maybe they can do the same for you.

Words in the Mind’s Shadows

I spend a good amount of time wandering in the shadows of my own mind. The stories I find there, at some point, get written down – or at least notes get made about them. I have a completely different site for my writing: J Lynn Baker, so you won’t see me talk about here very often. But something sort of big is happening today.

I have a story in an anthology. Today is Cover Reveal day. And today is the day the e-version of the anthology goes on pre-sale. So I had to post something about it here.

All the details, information, and links are available at the other site, so I’m just going to post the cover art, created by the very talented Amanda Lewis.

Queens & Courtesans Cover

Queens & Courtesans Cover

Shadows of Scribing

Some of the skills I’m trying to improve on are my calligraphy and illumination skills. I’m kind of concentrating on Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine) styles for now. Not many people in my area are doing this style, and I like the way the calligraphy and illumination look.  These are two of the pieces I’ve done for a friend, even though I haven’t been playing in the SCA.

They came out pretty good, though I can still see lots of room for improvement.

Hells Gate Tiny Tourney Scroll

Hells Gate 6-11-16 Tiny Tourney Scroll

Queen's Champion Letter of Intent

Ionnes’ Queen’s Champion Letter of Intent 11-15

Keeping Warm While Wandering

In my last post I mentioned that I had crocheted three shawls.  I’m one of those people who gets cold easily, so shawls come in handy when I’m at work or traveling.  I only have pictures of two of them completed. The third picture is just the first couple of repeats of the shawl.

The first picture is of a shawl that was supposed to be mine, but when it was finished I wasn’t really happy with the colors. My sister, on the other hand, adored it. So I gave it to her!

Kelli's Shawl

Butterfly Stitch Shawl in Desert colors

The second picture is a completely different pattern. This one was intended from the beginning to be kept at work, so I picked a really boring neutral color for it.  I love the pattern though and expect I’ll be making a few more in different colors and different weight yarns.

Crochet capelet

Victorian/Steampunk style shawl

The third picture is actually the first shawl I did. It’s the same butterfly stitch as the first shawl, but a different weight and color of yarn.

Butterfly stitch beginning

Beginning repeats of the butterfly stitch shawl

A Brief Foray into the Light

It’s really easy to get lost, even at the edge of the shadows!  I’ve been busy – even done some projects, but somehow never came back far enough in the light to document them!  I’m going to try to do better because I really do want to track things I’m working on.

In the meantime, I’ve crocheted three shawls – one of which now belongs to my sister. I’ve submitted a short story to an anthology which will come out in October. And I did a letter of intent for a friend in the SCA.

In progress projects include a knitted shawl, a practice inkle weave piece, some kumihimo braids, final revisions on one novel and several other novels, novellas, and stories in progress. I have two major projects in the works – a book of hours and a reliquary for friends.

And of course, there’s always the intent and attempt to post more often here and on my other sites! Time to make that a habit, rather than the occasional “Oh yeah – I need to update that!”

For now, it’s time to wander back into the shadows though.  How is journey going?

Lost in the Shadows

I’ve neglected this site for a long time. I didn’t mean to, but the road I was walking kept throwing obstacles in my path and I wasn’t doing much in the way of crafting. I was reading and doing some cooking, but mostly I was concentrating my writing. That has its own site over at J Lynn Baker.

It seemed like there was never time to update things here, and I have to admit that on some occasions, I just didn’t want to update.  I think in some way I felt it would take away from my writing. I’ve changed the way I feel about that – updates here count as writing. They’re non-fiction writing and I’ll be tracking the number of words I write here as well.

Another thing that brings me back to this site is that I have some major projects I’m working on. I’m going to document them here so I have a record of the process involved.

So, I took a fork in the road and got lost in the shadows for a bit. I’ve found my way back to a place I know now. This time around, I’ll try to keep a better record of the branchings in the path so I can find my way back if I need to.

Back from the Shadows

Wow…. I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I’d posted here.  Life got a bit crazy for awhile and I had some computer problems combined with getting a tablet that can do most of what my computer can do. But I’m back, and I have lots of things that are starting to happen – lots of projects on the list that I’m actually starting or finishing.  I’m going to make it a point to post at least once a week here, even  though I’m pretty sure my few visitors have forgotten about me by now! I need to keep a record of my projects and how they turn out, and this is where I’m going to do it!

Words from the Shadows 1: Phoenix Rising

I just finished re-reading a book so that I could read the next in the series.  I think I enjoyed it more this time, in part because I picked up more of the inside references.

Now, I have to be up front here.  I have met both the authors of this book and I’ve been supporting their work for several years and yes, the links to the books and Kindle versions of the short stories mentioned in this review are my Amazon affiliate links.   That being said, a review of the book can’t be impartial.  Then again, is any review ever really impartial?

The book in question is Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris.  Phoenix Rising is a steampunk novel featuring Wellington Thornhill Books – a proper British Archivist for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences and Eliza Braun – a field agent for the Ministry from New Zealand who is particularly fond of dynamite and black powder. It is the tale of what happens when two very different people are forced to work together.

There were three things in particular that I enjoyed about this book and that make it worth re-reading and recommending to friends and to my local indie book store.

  1. Steampunk is not just an aesthetic.  When goggles or a gadget is introduced, it’s put to use.  Not only that, the gadget and its use are well described – the hiss of steam and sound of gears and cogs moving is always noted, but never gets in the way of the story.
  2. There are dark moments and themes, but the story is not distopian or depressing.  It’s fun.  This is a Victorian Britain where there is crime and dirt and unfairness, but it is also a Britain with hope and kindness.  I’ve heard the book described as “the Avengers (1960’s TV- not comic books) meets the X-Files meets Steampunk.”  I think that’s pretty accurate.  I might add The Wild Wild West TV series into the mix although the novel (other than the opening chapter) never makes it out of Britain.
  3. There is depth to the characters and story.  There are many passing references to cases and to the characters’ pasts that make me want to know more.  And, over at The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, there is more to learn.  Pip and Tee  (and their publisher HarperVoyager)have allowed other authors to write in their world, expanding on agents and stories mentioned only briefly in the book.  The stories are available in e-book versions from several sources for 99 cents for individual stories to 2.99 for collections of stories. Here’s a link to the Kindle Versions.
There are other things that I enjoyed as well.  I got a kick out of the inside jokes and references, but then again, I’ve met or know of several of the people involved in them.  I also enjoyed the appearance of the Ministry Seven.  An unexpected yet wonderful use of  the unnoticed and “unimportant” in Victorian London.

Phoenix Rising is a book that can be read for simple enjoyment and fun – and the banter between the main characters will bring a smile to your face.  It can be re-read with equal enjoyment even when more attention is paid to details and themes.  I have no doubt that I’ll be re-reading it yet again in the future and the story will always fit the mood I’m in  and what I’m looking for.

I just hope that by the time I read  Phoenix Rising again, I’ll have had a chance to get it, and the follow-up (The Janus Affair) signed by Pip and Tee!

Words from the Shadows

Since this blog is a map of my wanderings at the shadows’ edge, I’m finding I need to start including a few things I hadn’t planned on. One of those things is what I read.

Now, I read a lot. Blame my step dad, who taught me how to speed read when I was in third grade. And I have feeling its only going to get worse because I just got a Kindle Touch for my birthday.

I can’t afford to buy books as fast as I read them, so very few of the books I post about here will probably be new – unless I can get advanced reader copies. Many of the books will be old friends that I return to when I want something I know will entertain me. Some of the books will be those that I use to research the various projects that I’m working on. So I may be posting about books from sci-fi and fantasy to the history of a particular period or how to make or do something.

I will start posting these reviews within the next week or so although I don’t know how often I’ll post them. I certainly won’t be posting about everything I read – just what I enjoy or find useful.

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