It’s No Picnic

Death has forgotten me,
gone out on a picnic
wearing Edwardian dress.
I hope her bustle pinches.

I have an antiseptic room,
food through a tube
and I can’t laugh.
Still, there’s no ants.

Ah, Death. About time.
What? No, wait. Hey!
Don’t walk past.
Food poisoning’s room 7.

Refusing Heaven

Abandon the fences, for they are only raw
excuses to refuse ownership
of sky beyond and earth below; the growing world
extending, embracing, dancing the seasons over the suburbs.

As if the seasons ended at your fence line.
As if death could be held off, birth refused.

Fences are delusional. This is me; that is you.
Haven’t you heard de Chardin? All you touch is you.
All I breathe is me. All we are extends forever.

Yet you’d have me believe in fences.

Creating a Magic System

Magic can’t be allowed to simply happen. In a coherent (novel) world, there have to be consequences, and limits to magic add tension and conflict. So creating a magic system means the characters can’t just wish themselves happy or out of trouble. If they make a love potion, it might have a side effect of turning the recipient green or removing all their critical faculties or turning the focus of the love potion into a chocolate mouse. To be interesting, magic has to create, not resolve, problems.

And to ground the story, magic has to have rules. The reader can be amazed by the magic, but not baffled.

A number of stories deal with these issues by making magic have a price. So a wizard loses a year of life for a major spell, or the ability to dream, or has to collect magic by harvesting dragon’s teeth. But when you have an ability–say singing in tune or great hand-eye coordination–is there really a price?

So I’ve gone for the idea that magic is free. It’s an energy (for lack of a better word) available in the world, but people’s use of it is dependent on their ability to channel it. The talent for channelling is innate and takes many forms. Practice does help, but can’t create a talent. The different forms in which magic users channel magic leads to their titles of weres, witches, weatherworkers, etc. Such titles don’t define the people, but are a shorthand for their talents.

Terry Pratchett

With my mind so full of my own novel, I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on reviewing anyone else’s. So I thought I’d simply flat out recommend an all time, fantastic author.

Terry Pratchett.

If I hadn’t been such a shy kid way back when, I could have met him when he dropped into our university. Such a cool guy, sitting in our social club chatting.

The Discworld is so richly imagined and the characters so clear, the humour dry, the wisdom compassionate. I have read, and re-read these books.

Day Trader

Lyn definitely works as a day trader. The career choice reveals far more about her character, and enables her greater freedom of action than lawyering ever did. Plus, I can see that her fascination with patterns foreshadows her experience of portals. I’m annoyed to have to rewrite the first third of the book, but I’m pleased that this simple career change adds so much to the story.