Come and say hello at the SiWC Author Signing!

I’ll be signing copies of Allaigna’s Song: Overture (as well as Pulp Literature issue) at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference Author Signing, this Saturday, October 21st, from 5:30 – 7:00pm.

The event is free to attend, and you can meet authors like Jack Whyte, Diana Gabaldon, CC Humphreys, Susanna Kearsley, JJ Lee, kc dyer, and many more.  Books will be available on site, so it’s a perfect opportunity to get a head start on holiday shopping!

SiWC Author Signing
Saturday 21 October, 5:30 – 7:00pm
Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel
15269 104th Avenue, Surrey, BC

See you there!

Jack Whyte dispensing advice at a previous SiWC signing. Photo by Sandra Vander Schaaf

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Next Allaigna Instalment Out Soon

Verses 6 & 7 of Allaigna’s Song: Aria will be release soon in Pulp Literature Issue 16, Autumn 2017.  Here’s a snippet …

Verse 6:
The Bard’s Bail

The sun was unseasonably bright and cheerful, I thought, given my mood.

I couldn’t fathom what had possessed my self-appointed squire, Raddick — despite the eagle and a half worth of small coins I’d given him to complete his shopping errands — to attempt instead to steal a leg of cured mutton hanging from a butcher’s stall.  I learned the reason later:  it was his pressing sense of obligation to me, wanting to save me a few coins and lessen the burden he made on my purse.

Of course he was already in the stocks by the time I’d spotted the commotion across the market square and pressed my laden way through the crowd.  All of his purchases and his purse had been confiscated by the guard, and, after I bought Raddick’s freedom, I had further negotiating to do to release his possessions.  They were lighter by at least a third than they ought to be, but I had no way of proving it.

I loaded him up with my shopping as well, and sent him, shamefaced from my scolding, back to where Dog camped a league outside town.  The reason we had separated in the first place was so I could buy new underclothes, and that task was still unfinished.

I set off, head down, grumbling at the inconvenience and cost of being liege to even one dim lad.  I had only made fifty disgruntled paces when a large firm hand settled itself on my shoulder.

“Hold up a bit there, lad.”

I came to a slow stop and gave an even slower quarter turn of the head, just enough to see my interlocutor.  It was one of the city watch:  not the thick-jawed clerk or the hoary veteran I’d dealt with for Raddick’s release, but the one who’d been sitting at the back of the guardroom, whetting and oiling his sword.

Some rusty instinct began screaming at me to run, but I didn’t pull back from the hand, which I felt would only tighten if I did.  I simply stood, knees bent, weight on my toes to see how this new development would hinder me.

He walked to cross in front of me, that enormous hand never letting go of my shoulder as if in some strange madrigal.  He held me at arm’s length, studying both me and a sheet of parchment in his other hand.

“Nalen, is it?” he asked.  It was the name I’d used to sign Raddick’s release; but it was also the name, so foolishly close to my own, that I’d given at Doniver’s camp.  He must have felt the involuntary quiver that ran through me, for his grip tightened.  “Ye’ll need to come back to the guardhouse wi’ me,” he said, not unkindly.

My feet were glued to the cobbles, resisting the gentle pull on my shoulder.

“Naught to fear, lad,” he encouraged.  “A simple misunderstanding.  Ye’ll not be punished.”

Fear warred with curiosity.  What could that parchment say, and what did it reveal about me?  With practice borne of many sibling battles, I dropped down out of his grasp and twisted up again, snatching the parchment from his other hand as I hurtled off across the public square.  The curiosity had hurt me, though.  The twisting motion I’d used to reach the parchment had sent a twinge of pain through my knee, not to mention costing me a heartbeat of time.  Sometimes I still wonder what difference that fraction of a second might have made.

As it was, I only just missed escaping down an alley as a drover backed his oxen into it.  I tried anyway, hitting the cobbles with my already sore knee, and scrabbling like a lizard between the cart’s moving wheels.  I was almost home free when that large muscled hand clamped down on me again, this time on my ankle, and pulled me out like a load of washing against the washboard cobbles, not nearly so gentle this time around.

“I said, lad,” he puffed, once he’d pulled me upright by the collar.  “Yer master don’t plan to punish ye.  But make me run like that again and I might do it for him.”

Pre-order your copy and save $2

Pulp Literature Issue 16, Autumn 2017Pre-orders of Issue 16 are $2 off until September 1st, so shotty your copy before midnight.

It’s a fabulous issue, with cover art by Akem, a feature story from kc dyer, short fiction from Erin Kirsh, FJ Bergmann, Susan Pieters, Brandon Crilly, and Patrick Bollivar, Magpie Award-winning poets Oak Morse, Leah Komar, and Glenn Pape, a brand new Stella novella from Mel Anastasiou, and a whimsical new cartoon that I just adore from Rina Piccolo.  Find it here

Compostela: Tesseracts TwentyAnd if you’d like to get your copy signed, join us on September 18th at the Cottage Bistro on Main Street.  I’ll be there, along with kc, Erin, Akem, Sue, and Patrick, plus several authors from Edge Publishing’s Compostela: Tesseracts Twenty, edited by Spider Robinson and James Alan Gardner.  Authors include Roxanne Gregory, Rhea Rose, Linda DeMeulmeester, Cat Girczyc, and Guy Immega. It’s a joint Edge/Pulp Lit launch, and as usual there will be plenty of good food, good beer, and good cheer!

Save your place at the Pulp Literature Autumn Launch by RSVPing below. See you there …

 

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Tonight’s the Night: Allaigna’s Song Launches!

Allaignas SongIt’s been a long time coming … I started writing Allaigna’s Song: Overture (well, just Allaigna really, because I didn’t have a title and I didn’t know there were going to be three books) over a decade ago.  It went through about 13 drafts before I started serializing it in Pulp Literature and since then its been edited, copy-edited, proofread, and generally tinkered with many more times.

So yeah, this is it — the day I release it to the world in its final form.  Set in paper, if not in stone.  No more changes.

Which means its time to party!

The launch is being held at Steamworks Brewing Co. in Gastown, beginning at 6pm.  Come hungry because the food is great … as is the beer!  We’ll eat and drink first, socialize a bit, and then have some readings from several Pulp Lit authors including Issue 15’s Brenda Carre, and our poetry editor Daniel Cowper.  Then there will be signings and DOOR PRIZES!  Be sure to print your free RSVP ticket to enter.

I hope you’ll come out and celebrate with me tonight.  I’m looking forward to that first beer immensely, and the second one even more.

Pulp Literature Summer Launch
Monday 10 July, 6 – 9pm
Steamworks Brewing Co. 375 Water St, Vancouver
Free to attend, but please RSVP

Eventbrite - Pulp Literature Summer Launch

Pulp Literature Issue 15 and Allaignas Song

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On the Mark(ings)

This post was originally published on Academie Duello’s blog in April 2013, and is part of a series detailing the requirements for the Green Spur, or first rank of the Mounted Combat program.

Horsemanship Level 2: Identification

Part II: Points, Colours and Markings

Last week we looked at breeds and types, which is the most general way of identifying horses.  This week we’ll narrow down and look at more specific identification.

Points

Your horse’s anatomy forms an important part of his identification and is helpful in communicating with others.  You might have to tell the vet over the phone that your horse has a cut on his near hind gaskin, just above the hock; or you might  make a note on his identity sheet that he has a few white hairs behind his poll on the off side.  For Level 1 we asked that you know 20 simple points of the horse.  For Level 2 you’ll need to know them all, including the external parts of the hoof.  They can be found on the frontispiece of your Manual of Horsemanship, and by searching ‘equine anatomy’ online.  To test yourself, take a few quizzes, like this one: http://www.purposegames.com/game/points-of-the-horse-quiz

Colours & Markings

For Level 2 we don’t expect you to know any more coat colours than necessary for Level 1, but we do want you to add markings into the mix.  Markings are white areas on the legs and face, black spots within those areas, and black areas on a non-black horse, known as points (not to be confused with anatomical points, above).

Face Markings

Star, strip & snip

A blaze & white lip

Star: a patch of white on the brow which does not extend down the face.

Strip or Stripe: a thin line of white running down the nose, which may or may not be connected to a star.

Blaze: a wide swath of white running the length of the face, approximately as wide as the nasal bones.

Snip: a small white patch on the muzzle

White lip: a patch of white on the lower lip, sometimes from a blaze that continues all the way down the muzzle

Bald face: white that covers the front of the face past the width of the eyes.

Leg Markings

In general leg markings are called socks, but they are further defined by their height.

Coronet: a band of white hairs just above the hoof

White heel: white on the bulbs of the heel only

Half-pastern: white which does not reach the fetlock

Sock: white which is at least as high as the fetlock, but does not reach the knee or hock

Half-cannon: a sock which goes approximately half way up the cannon.

Stocking: a sock that reaches at least in part past the knee or hock.

Unlike human hosiery, horse’s socks have irregular tops, so what may appear to be a half-cannon on the inner surface of the leg, may actually be a stocking on the outside.

Ermine Spots: black spots on white leg markings.

This Selle Francais stallion has a sock and stocking on his forelegs, and half-cannons on the hind. You can see his black legs above the socks, as well as his black mane, tail, ears and muzzle.

Colour Points

These are the black areas which help define horses like bays and buckskins, and are often present on young greys as well.  The five colour points are: tips of ears, muzzle, mane, tail, and legs.  Not all bays and buckskins will show black in the muzzle and ears, but mane, tail and legs will always have black.  Some horses will also show a dark dorsal stripe, which is a continuation of the tail colour, running along the spine.

Defining markings is never cut and dried, and what is a sock to one person is a half-cannon to another.

Colours are also slightly vague with variations like rose grey, strawberry roan silver black, seal brown, etc.  However, I find the genetics of coat colour fascinating.  This is not a requirement for any of our Horsemanship levels, but if you are interested in learning more about coat colours and genes you can play with this fun colour calculator: http://www.animalgenetics.us/ccalculator1.asp

 Next week: routines of the horse

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A review in the hand is worth …

What does an author need as much as whiskey, solitude, and a spouse with a steady income?

Reviews

In today’s market, books live and die based on the eyeballs that chance across them online, and the more reviews a book has — good, bad, or indifferent — the more eyeballs will bounce that way. Eyeballs translate to sales, and sales translate to more whiskey, which translates to more books.  It’s a win-win situation for reader and author alike.

If you’ve read and liked a book, do the author a favour and leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.  Even if you don’t have time for a written review, a simple star rating is a huge help.  You’re also doing fellow readers a favour by letting them know where to find their next great read.

The Favour

So here’s the favour I’m asking.  If you’re one of the many people who have been reading Allaigna’s Song as its been serialized in Pulp Literature I would be extraordinarily grateful if you could leave a review on Goodreads.  It can be a 1-star, 5-star, or anything in between.  (Be honest!  You won’t hurt my feelings.  Honestly!)

The book launches July 10th, and having early reviews will really help it get up and running fast.

And while you’re there, take a minute or two to review some books by other authors.  We all thank you for it!

 

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A Breed for Every Need

This post was originally published on Academie Duello’s blog in April 2013, and is part of a series detailing the requirements for the Green Spur, or first rank of the Mounted Combat program.

Horsemanship Level 2: Identification

Horses come in many shapes and sizes; display strange colours, such as chestnut, bay, buckskin and skewbald; have exotic body parts, such as pastern, stifle, dock and chestnut (no relation to the colour); and have other interesting markings such as black points, ermine spots, snips and stockings.

This is not just trivial knowledge used to impress your horsey girlfriend.  Being able to verbally identify a horse is important for clear communication, and vital if reporting a lost or stolen horse.  Colour, markings, and breeds are the simplest forms of identification.  You can pick a horse out in the field by these qualities without having to check the undercarriage for sex, or the underside of the lip for a tattoo.  A knowledge of horse breeds and types lets you know in advance what type of work a horse may be suitable for.

In Horsemanship Level 1 we asked you to identify colours, the near and off side, and  twenty simple points of the horse.  For Level 2 you will need to be able to:

2. Name and describe breeds, points, colours and markings of horses

This week we will look at Breeds and Types, and finish off the topic next week with points, colours and markings.

Breeds & Types

You don’t need to know all the breeds of horses in the world, but you should be able to identify several breeds of each type of horse.  Below are a few examples of each.  Look them up in a good breed book or online and familiarize yourself with their general characteristics and uses.

Cold-blooded

These are the draught breeds, used for pulling wagons and farm work.  Their ancestors were often used as warhorses, though most have been bred to be heavier and are now larger and less suited to riding than their forebears. Examples: Percheron, Clydesdale, Friesian, Belgian etc.

The Godolphin Arabian was one of the three foundation sires of the Thoroughbred

Hot-blooded

Traditionally there are only two hot-blooded breeds, the Arabian, and its descendant, the Thoroughbred.  Both are fine-boned, athletic and often considered fiery.  Arabians are renowned for longevity and endurance, and Thoroughbred racehorses are the fastest horses in the world.  These breeds have been used extensively to improve other breeds.  Other breeds which are sometimes considered hot-blooded are the Akhal-Teke, Marwari, Kathiawari and similar older breeds of hot-climate horses.

Warm-blooded

All other horses except draughts, Arabians and Thoroughbreds, are considered warm-blooded.  This should not be confused with registered Warmbloods, such as the Hanoverian, Dutch Warmblood, Canadian Warmblood etc, which are controlled types with regulated studbooks.  It was once thought a warm-blooded horse was descended from a draught and hot-blooded cross, but this has not been proven true genetically.  Examples: Quarter Horse, Morgan, Appaloosa, Warmblood breeds, etc.

Ponies

A Shetland mare and foal

The term ‘pony’ is a height classification as well as a type.  Any horse under 14.2 hands high (a hand is 4 inches), or 145cm is considered a pony. This means a small Arabian or Quarter Horse might be classed as a pony.  However, there are specific pony breeds as well.  Examples: Welsh, Shetland, Newfoundland, Pony of the Americas etc.

Light or Riding Horse

Any hot-blooded or warm-blooded horse.

Baroque

What appears to be a Friesian Horse, 1568.

These are the breeds most directly developed as and descended from warhorses.  They tend to have an uphill build, made for power rather than speed, a cresty neck and flowing mane, and were often used as carriage horses and light draught horses as well.  They are visually impressive and often used in movies as well as haute école.  Examples: Lippizaner, Andalusian (Pur Raza Espagnol), Friesian, Canadian Horse, Knabstrupper, etc.

As you can see there is a fair bit of cross-over within types, just as there is variance within the breeds themselves.  At our barn Jolie, Jack and Flavie are all Canadian horses, but Jolie and Jack are more Baroque in their build and carriage, while Flavie is more of a light draught or riding horse.

next week: points, colours and markings

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Meet Brenda Carre’s ‘Gret’ in Pulp Literature 15

I’m delighted that Allaigna’s Song will be sharing centre stage with Pulp Literature Issue 15 at the Summer Launch on July 10th.  Not just because of S Ross Browne’s stunning cover painting The Huntress.  (Though I confess I might be jealous if Melissa Duncan hadn’t painted an equally stunning portrait of Allaigna).  No, it’s because the feature author for Issue 15 is Brenda Carre and I love her titular character Gret almost as much as Allaigna.

With ‘Gret’, Brenda Carre gives us the unique voice of a talented young vagabond who will risks her soul against magical forces to save a world that’s been anything but kind to her.  Here’s a sample …

My mam always told me there’s three ways to prosper best and all begin with L.

Location’s one. No prospering’s ever done by thief or witch if the job begins in the wrong place or time.  Lissome tongue was next.  No matter how much wisdom a gal had to her, good learning didn’t go far if she couldn’t talk her way out of a bad deal.  And last was Lightning touch. That meant the effortless sliding of nimble fingers in-and-out of pockets without being cotched.

With pithy observations like “Pirates’ll rut with a post if there ain’t no goats aboard, and the goats breathe easy if there’s girls,” and “Could’a put my heart in a sling and used it for shot,” Gret is one tough character you can’t help but love.

And I’m doubly sure you’ll love Brenda Carre when you meet her and hear her read.

Join us!

The Summer Launch of Allaigna and PL 15 is on Monday July 10th from 6 – 9pm.  The evening will begin with dinner and socializing before moving on to readings, signings, more socializing and more beer!  Be sure to RSVP and we’ll both look forward to seeing you on July 10th at Steamworks!

Eventbrite - Pulp Literature Summer Launch

Pre-order your books below to save a copy, and we’ll buy you a beer …

Pulp Literature Summer Launch

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Horsemanship Level 2: what’s old is new

This post was originally published on Academie Duello’s blog in April 2013, and is part of a series detailing the requirements for the Green Spur, or first rank of the Mounted Combat program.

Our Horsemanship curriculum, like the Canadian Pony Club system it stems from, is designed to deepen and expand students’ knowledge in the key areas of horsemanship with each progressive level.  What starts as simple identification of colours, breeds and markings in levels one and two, becomes measuring and identification in level three, and conformation, teeth and aging in levels four and up.  We ask you to build upon your base of knowledge as you progress, which is why we often check that your foundation is strong.  Therefore the first item in the Level 2 Horsemanship checklist is:

1. All the level one requirements

“What!” you say, “I have to test level one all over again?”

Not quite.  If you did your level one and have been active in the program we will use the mark from your level one test.

If you are challenging level two, which many people with prior horse experience do, we will simply test levels one and two at the same time.  Many of the items on the list are similar, but we expect a higher degree of confidence and competence at this level.  For example, at both levels you will groom and tack up your horse, but at level two you need to be able to do this without any assistance from the examiner.

In either case, it is of benefit to review the level one material before heading out to your level two assessment.

Level One Horsemanship Review

1. Identify colour, near and off side, and twenty simple parts of the horse

2. Enter, approach and safely halter horse in stall or paddock

3. Lead horse out of stall or paddock, lead at the walk

4. Tie a quick release knot

5. Groom horse using basic grooming tools (dandy brush, curry comb, hoof pick)

6. Identify simple parts of saddle & bridle

7. Tack up (may be assisted)

8. Untack & clean bit

9. Basic feeding: succulents, grain, roughage & water

10. Stabling:  needs & habits of the horse

11. Demonstrate safety and common sense when working around horses

Next week: Points and markings

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Allaigna’s Song launches July 10th!

I hope my local peeps will be able to join me at Steamworks brew pub on the evening of Monday July 10th.  Not only will we be celebrating the launch of Pulp Literature Issue 15 (15!! How did that happen already?), I will at last be releasing Allaigna’s Song: Overture into the world in full-length novel format.Pulp Literature Double Launch: Pulp Literature Issue 15 & Allaigna's Song: Overture

It’s been a long but happy journey getting here, and now that she’s at the printer it’s like pregnancy month 8 all over again.  However, the nice thing about giving birth to a book rather than a baby is you don’t need to worry about what’s in your breastmilk, and I will be able to celebrate in style.  I plan to have more than one drink — after the readings are over of course — perhaps even three.  It would be great to see you all there and clink glasses with you!

Pulp Literature Double Launch
Allaigna’s Song: Overturen and PL Issue 15
Monday 10 July, 6pm – 9pm
Steamworks Brewing Co,
350 Water St, Vancouver
Free! but please RSVP

There are some deals to be had:  pre-order your copies of either Allaigna’s Song or PL Issue 15 on the Eventbrite site and we’ll buy you a beer (or drink of your choice) to help celebrate.

Eventbrite - Pulp Literature Summer Launch

If you can’t make it to the launch, there are consolation offers from Pulp Literature Pressin the form of $2, $5, and $10 off pre-orders between now and July 10th.  You can check those out on the Pulp Lit Book Launch page.

Whether in person or by mail, I can’t wait for you to hold my new baby!

 

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The Blue Spur Curriculum

This post was originally published on Academie Duello’s blog in April 2013, and is part of a series detailing the requirements for the Green Spur, or first rank of the Mounted Combat program.

Having completed our blog tour through the Green Spur, it’s time to move on to Blue.

Blue Spur candidates are able horse-keepers with basic equine first aid knowledge, and are riding at a level that includes cantering, small jumps, and a secure and confident seat.  Swordplay from the falsemount and horse are part of regular training, and spear is added to the repertoire of weapons.  Accuracy and control are tested in mounted games, and Blue Spur candidates will have the opportunity to display these skills in public tournaments.

The Blue Spur Requirements include:

  • Horsemanship levels 2 & 3
  • Riding levels 2 & 3
  • Swordplay from the Ground
  • Swordplay from the Falsemount
  • Spear Fundamentals
  • Mounted Games
  • Reading of Xenophon

How long will it take to get my Blue Spur?

As with all ranks, this varies from student to student, and depends on how often you ride and train.  For a student attending on the Integrated Program, which includes two Cavaliere Classes and one Mounted Combat workshop per month it would take about a year to cover all the curriculum material, which breaks down like this:

  • Horsemanship level 2: two months (4 classes)
  • Horsemanship level 3: four months (8 classes)
  • Riding Level 2: six months (12 classes)
  • Riding Level 3: six months (12 classes)
  • Mounted Combat checklist: approximately 8 workshops

Achieving Riding level 3 is probably the most difficult part of the requirements if you haven’t been riding a long time prior to starting the program.  There is no substitute for time in the saddle, and a rider working towards her Blue Spur should expect to take advantage of as many Open Barns, Games Practices, and additional riding opportunities as possible.  Part leasing a horse, or taking additional riding lessons is also highly recommended.

Over the next few months I’ll cover the Blue Spur requirements in greater detail.  You’ll be able to find these articles under the tags “Blue Spur”, “Horsemanship” and “Riding”.

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