Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Love of Gaming! A 4Q Interview with Adam Hudson.



Something different on the Scribbler this week.

 
A special 4Q interview with a master of the games. Gaming is one of the most popular pastimes today with hundreds of choices online and at home with complex gaming stations that require exceptional eye and hand coordination, memory and the development of game strategy.  To give you an idea of just how popular gaming is, the website – Steam – an online community, store and entertainment platform has as many as 2-3 million users online at any one time. It also has the record of over 8 million visitors at the same time. Think of the fame of Minecraft or World of Warcraft.
 



Adam Hudson loves games. It started with an Atari when he was seven years old. His fascination hasn’t stopped. He has agreed to talk about gaming with us this week. 





4Q: In your own opinion, why is gaming so popular, not only for children but people of all ages and especially adults?
 
AH: There is obviously an entertainment value there but I think what really captures you is the sense of achievement you get from them, whether it's beating your friends and family at pong, getting the high score in Donkey Kong or finally saving the Princess in Mario. For some, it's taking out that raid boss with your Guild Mates in World of Warcraft. For others, it's topping the leaderboard in Call of Duty. All levels of people who play games feel the same sense of elation. In my opinion, the smartest thing the gaming industry ever did was invent Achievements. Basically, its digital bragging rights so you can say, “I did this." They are incredibly addictive. 


4Q: To be a serious gamer online, what kind of equipment would a person need?

 
AH: It really depends what you are into. The basics would include either a console or computer to play the games and an internet connection. Everything else is about your comfort. There are tons of add-ons for console controllers and a huge market of gaming mice and keyboards.
If you don't mind me interjecting my opinion, to be a serious gamer, online or otherwise, takes commitment, a reason to want to get better. Most of all this comes from your community. As I mentioned above having people that can relate to your experiences is what drives you to take it seriously. Makes those achievements something of real tangible worth. 




4Q: As well as online gaming, you have always been fascinated with role-playing games (RPG) such as Dungeon & Dragons and war gaming such as Warhammer 40, 000 and most recently, Infinity. How do these type of games differ from online games?

 
AH: In one sense not much, it's still that learning the mechanics of the game and then using them to the best of your ability to get the upper hand on your opponent. It's still about that sense of overcoming a challenge with your wits, skill and sometimes a little bit of luck.
A big difference is in the community you share it with. Online people have anonymity about them and some can be real jerks. That doesn't always change in real life but it's definitely something that being face to face influences. One down side is you usually need to line up a time to get people together. It's the type of thing you do one night a week with snacks and laughs. Video games have the advantage of needing much less space and equipment. On top of that, With the Internet your community is international. You can sign on and, boom, you have a whole world with thousands of people any hour of any day. 



 

4Q: I understand that RPG needs what is called a Game Master. Is this something you have done and what is the purpose of a GM?

 
AH: I have or should say I've tried. The GM is your Storyteller and Judge all rolled into one. Like Tolkien, they lead you "there and back again", choose the monsters you fight and decide how you are rewarded. Just like an Author they create your world. To be a great GM you need about all the same skills’ creativity, Imagination and careful planning as well as the ability to create a scene and allow the players to partake how you see fit. Of course there is also the boring part of enforcing the rules, but it is a game and it's all about the fun in the end. 




4Q: Just to sneak another question in here, I understand that you are responsible for creating a friendly, competitive competition at a local gaming facility where you have invited players to participate in a weekly round of Infinity. How has this experience been?

AH: At the risk of sounding like I am repeating myself, I can say the hard part has been being creative, imaginative and a careful planner. The good has been the camaraderie and being amongst fellow minded friends. Like any leadership role, it's been a rollercoaster. Truth is, Infinity is a game I am passionate about and I couldn't ask for a better group to play with. We have tournaments with people coming from out of town and we're slowly working our way into another province. I'm looking forward to being a part of the community and seeing how it grows.

 

Thank you Adam for taking the time to talk to us about this popular pastime.  Happy Gaming!
 
If you have any questions for Adam, you can contact him at hudsona32@gmail.com


Thank you Dear Readers for visiting the Scribbler this week. If you would like more information on gaming, try these sites.

Infinity, The War Game
http://www.infinitythegame.com/
Free games for all ages
Warhammer 40, 000
https://www.games-workshop.com/en-CA/Warhammer-40-000
Painting your models
https://www.games-workshop.com/en-CA/Painting-Modelling






Are you a Gamer? Leave us a comment below, would love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Reaching the Pinnacle by Allan Hudson - Part 2


Jeb Davis is in for the surprise of his life!








Here's Part 2 of the story I posted last Saturday, If you missed the first part, just click HERE or you can scroll down to the end of this post.


Copyright held by the author





Reaching the Pinnacle - Part 2


Jeb begins to speculate anew of what might’ve happened to Norton when the skitter of a squirrel overhead disrupts his thoughts. He stops to look up. Standing under a large maple tree that has already shed its reddish leaves, with only a few here and there reluctant to let go, he finds it easy to watch the clever brown acrobat dart from limb to limb, chattering. Jeb soon loses sight of the critter when it darts up the trunk of a neighboring spruce tree. Turning his gaze uphill, he contemplates the sharp rise. He tugs on the straps of his pack, tightening them across his chest. Sniffing the cool air, so clear he can smell the trees, he pauses a few moments longer. Pleased with himself, he heads out to rendezvous with his granddaughter. 

*
Eight hours later, Mindy and Jeb are sitting on a fallen log three meters from their tent complaining about their overworked muscles. Jeb is reminded of some he hasn’t used in years. A large fire crackles in front of them in a makeshift pit they made with odd sized rocks. The surrounding trees provide the wood. A slight breeze from the north moves the sharp smoke away from them. The pleasant aroma of burning pine seems almost therapeutic. The clear sky is black with a million pinpricks of light. It’s down to 12 degrees and both have donned heavy fleeces. The flames flicker in the dark, throwing off a welcome heat. Mindy uses a long slender sapling as a poker to prod the wood into flames. They talk about their day in gleeful rapport.
 

- How Jeb had bragged about his famous salami and gouda sandwiches, which he’d made for their lunch, only to discover he’d forgotten to pack them. They’d had dry gorp and granola bars instead.
- Their astonishment when they climbed above the tree line – nothing but grey, cracked stone the last two hundred meters – where they discovered the whole valley and sister mountains to the south were visible. They both loved the sensation of height and had remained silent for many moments.
- The abandoned Ranger’s station at the very top of the mountain – a four-by-four square meter structure with a double-hip roof. Guy wires of thick twisted steel braced all four corners to solid rock. The fierce winds that streamed across the mountaintop at times would otherwise carry it away. Jeb scolding Mindy for trying to climb the structure – she exclaiming that the apex of the roof was actually the highest point in New Brunswick. Her slipping off the roof, and Jeb breaking her fall.
- The kettle of bald eagles that coiled about the sky on hidden thermals – updrafts created by the mountain sides – and how majestically they had soared. They had left Mindy wishing she could fly.
- The vivid orange and ovoid globes dotted with yellow patches: amanita flavocona – a poisonous mushroom they had found attached to red spruce the species favor at high elevations. Jeb showing off, telling Mindy the common name was “yellow warts.” Ugh! was Mindy’s response.

They shift into silent spheres on occasion, one pondering what the other has said. Jeb asks about her boyfriend. Is he taking the job out west? Is that what she wanted to tell him? No answer! So he talks about her experience testifying at court as a member of the RCMP’s Firearms and Tool Mark Identification Section; her knowledge of firearms is extensive.
Jeb tells her how many of his acquaintances passed away in the last year. They argue about which team will win this year’s Stanley Cup. Even though they haven’t won a championship in her lifetime, she refuses to turn her back on the Maple Leafs. They touch briefly on the dead body she found last year. She chatted about the new Glock 19 Gen 4 handgun she purchased. Jeb told her about the marvelous young woman of 68 he had met at dance classes, and asks if Mindy minds?
They both stare at the flames and become quiet. Jeb has a closed mouth smile; Mindy has a smooth brow and glad eyes. Yet they look uncannily alike.
Jeb’ stomach rumbles and he breaks from his trance. “Time to eat, my dear. Open the wine if you don’t mind.”
He jumps up, hastens to his pack just inside the unzipped tent to remove two heavy tin foil plates – like supermarkets sell pies in – each wrapped in a thin thermal towel.
Mindy already has the wine, plastic glasses – his neon green, hers bright pink – and the cork screw. She had taken them out when she’d unpacked her sleeping bag before dinner. With a practiced hand, she slits away the top foil, twists in the corkscrew and opens up the grape.

The coals are pushed into a heap, with two pockets shaped on top, into which the heavy tin plates fit. The coals glow with heat, manifested by pink, white and red flares. A lick of blue flame erupts around the edges, where the heat finds something solid. Jeb puts on his hiking gloves to place the plates on the fire and the heat singes the loose threads on the end. The burnt nylon stinks.
Once the homemade roasters are sizzling, with aromatic juices of garlic and butter scenting the air, Mindy says, “Oh, Gramps, those smell good. How long?”
“Probably twenty minutes. Why?”
Jeb can see her smile in the light of the flames. It couldn’t be any bigger.
“I want to tell you the surprise now.”
Jeb is jubilant, he’s been thinking of every possible scenario since she informed him of something she wanted to tell him earlier. “Excellent.”
He grabs his neon green wine glass and tips it toward the wine, noticing she brought a bottle of Jacob’s Creek, Select. One of his favorites.
“Good choice, young lady.”
“Yeah, I know how much you like it.”
“Must be something special.”
“Definitely.”
After filling their wineglasses, she touches the edge of her glass to his. Mimicking fine lead crystal, she chants, “Pa-tinnnnnng. Here’s to the best Grampy ever.”
Jeb blushes and clears his throat, soaking up the comfortable vibes.
“To my favorite granddaughter.”
“Hah! I’m your only granddaughter.”

“Okay then, my special grandchild… and don’t tell the boys I said that. I love your brothers just as much.”
Mindy winks at him and takes a sip of wine. The firelight makes the blonde highlights stand out in her short curly hair. He has a hard time seeing her as a cop.
“Well?”
Mindy balances her glass on the log beside her and reaches into her jeans pocket to withdraw a small bag the size of a book of matches. She holds it up so he can see it. It’s too dark to see it’s made of grey velvet and silk tassels as she tugs the puckered opening apart. Reaching in with two fingers, she withdraws an original Vera Wang engagement ring. The 1-carat marquis diamond encased in an ornate band sparkles in the glow of the fire. She slips it on her left ring finger.
 
“Darrick asked me to marry him.”
 
 
Jeb can see how happy she is. He can read it in her eyes, the way they widen in delight. Jeb’s good with this turn of events. After all, Darrick’s a solid man who dotes on his granddaughter.
“And you said yes of course.”
She concentrates on her ring for a moment, the facets teasing her eyes as she turns her hand toward the light as she happily nods her head.
“That’s wonderful news, Mindy. I’m so happy for you. Congratulations!”
‘Thank you, Grampy”
They both stand to hug. Mindy gives him a loving squeeze. By Jeb’s reaction, she knows she’s made the right decision. He backs off and holds her at arm’s-length.
“What did your mother say?”
“I haven’t told her yet. I wanted you to be the first to know.”
“Me?”
Mindy is shy now and breaks away from her grandfather. Pointing at the roasters, she says, “I think those might be done now.”
Jeb turns to eye the sizzling platters, steam escaping from the holes he made in the tin foil with a fork.
“A little more will be okay; I cut those potatoes kind of thick. So, you didn’t plan this trip just to tell me that did you?”
“No, there’s more. C’mon, sit down again.”
She rests upon the dead tree and when Jeb sits beside her, she holds his arm close to her and leans her head on his shoulder.
“I want you to walk me down the aisle.”
Jeb stares at the embers as she tells him. His elation is complete, a pulsing sensation of love and happiness. The coals turn all bleary as he tries not to blink. His reaction confuses Mindy and she asks gently, “Well?”
Jeb can’t talk, scared he will blubber. He offers her a gentle wave, asking her for a moment. She leans forward and sees the gleam in his eyes. She knows he will say yes.
The glowing embers and tin plates fade away. In their place a little girl walks from the living room and approaches him in the kitchen. Jeb is standing with his back against the cupboard, arms crossed as he munches on an apple.
Mindy stops three or four steps away. He stops chewing and looks down. She’s almost eighteen months old and only thirty-one inches tall. The face that looks up at him is a perfect oval, the eyes uncertain. Jeb can’t think of anything more dear. After a few seconds she blurts,
“Panky!”
That was the first time she tried to say his name. The boys called him Gampy then because they couldn’t pronounce Grampy and that was the closest she could get. Jeb glowed with adoration, thinking nothing could make him happier.
Until the same little girl grew up.
Jeb untangles his arm and hugs her close.

“Thank you for this, Mindy. I guess I’m just about the happiest Grampy in the world right now. So… when’s the wedding?” 

She replies nonchalantly, “In four weeks.”
 
 
 
Thank you for visiting today. I hope you enjoyed reading this story.
 
 
Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Reaching the Pinnacle by Allan Hudson - Part 1.



Someone asked me recently which of my short stories I enjoyed writing the most. It would have to be this one.






Reaching the Pinnacle was inspired by a real life situation when a young lady reached out to her grandfather and asked him something very special. It has been published in SHORTS Vol. 2



Here's Part 1    (watch March 14th for Part 2)

Copyright is held by the author.



Reaching The Pinnacle
 

Jeb Davis is almost out of breath. The last half a kilometer of hiking up the mountain has been at a 25-degree angle. And it’s starting to get steeper. Mount Carleton in northern New Brunswick is not for cream puffs. He stops where the trail evens out for a meter or so near the exposed root of an enormous birch tree that has to be as old as his great grandparents if they were still alive. The bark on top of the root is rubbed away from countless soles. With one hand on the trunk, he stoops over to catch his breath. He adjusts his backpack with his other hand, hefting it a bit higher, and looks up the trail to check on his granddaughter. Thirty meters farther up, she is going full steam. He chuckles. It has always been so. Mindy Kane does everything at full throttle.

She doesn’t know he’s not behind her and she’s still talking. He can’t discern what she’s saying, but her voice comes back to him like vapor through the trees, a rhythm that’s part of the forest. A chorus of black-capped chickadees with their two note song provides a natural harmony. Breathing deeply he inhales the scent of damp, dying leaves that only autumn can bring. He watches her as she hikes under yet another huge birch tree with a canopy of mighty limbs. Yellow and lime-colored leaves cling to more than half the outstretched arms. The stream of early morning light passes through the half-naked limbs, dappling her lithesome body and bulky pack. She must’ve asked a question and realized something wasn’t right when silence ensued. She stops and looks back. Jeb can see the teasing twinkle in her eyes even from this far. She yells out, “Whatsa matter, old-timer? Can’t hack it anymore?”

He’s smiling when he scolds her.

“Watch your mouth young lady. Respect your elders. Listen, Mindy, you said breaks every thirty minutes. We’ve been chugging up this ruddy hill for almost…”

Standing upright, he checks his watch.

“…forty five minutes. Now get down here and give your Gramps a break.”

He looks around to see another root growing out from the other side of the tree. It forms a knuckle about a meter and a half across, perfect for two regular sized bums. The ground is littered with fallen leaves – creating yellow and orange flooring. The sun shatters when it hits the tree, creating an inviting tumult of rays and shadows. He has to climb a small embankment about hip high, made of hard-packed dirt and smaller roots. When he finally plops on the exposed wood he wiggles out of his pack. Mindy drops hers, pulls a chrome water bottle out of a side pocket and jogs back down the hill. Scooting up the lip in a skip and a jump, she rounds the tree and, spying the makeshift seat, she says, “Shuffle over there a bit, Grampy.”

Before he can reply she offers him the water.

“Ah thanks, Mindy, my mouth is as dry as the bark on one of these trees.”

Sitting, their sides touching, she leans into him as he takes a long swig.

“I’m glad you decided to do this, Gramps.”

Wiping dripping water from his chin with his forearm, he switches the bottle from his right to his left hand and gives his granddaughter a sideways hug.

“I’m so pleased you asked. It’s been a long time since just the two of us have been on an overnighter. What…maybe 7 or 8 years? You were at university.”

Jeb drops his arm to sit forward. He sets the water bottle on the ground, leaning against the root. Mindy huddles forward, placing her elbows on her knees. Her head is in a narrow ray of sun and she appears golden.

“Wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long. That was when we went to Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. That was an awesome trip.”

With her chin in her hand, she turns her head toward Jeb, her wide smile defines happiness. Jeb is sitting similarly, elbows on his knees. They’re about the same height so they’re eye to eye. Jeb melts under her stare; she’s looked at him that way since she was a baby. He knows her. Fine lines crinkle his temple when he scrunches his brow.

“You’re up to something, aren’t you, Mindy?”

She frowns back.

“Of course! But you have to wait until I’m ready to tell you.”

Jeb is ready to offer a guess when she cuts him off. “Don’t even try to guess or I won’t tell you at all.”

He stares at the ground, defeated.

“Okay”

Changing the subject as he offers her the water, he says, “So, what do you think? Another hour to the top, right around noon? We’ve been at this for almost three hours now and it usually takes an old duff like me about four or five, but you… you’re almost running uphill.”

They both laugh at his worn out joke. He can see she’s raring to go. He’s amazed at her stamina – always has been – but as a police officer, she has to remain fit. He deems himself in damn fine condition for his 71 years, but he’s no fool and knows he can’t keep up.

“You take off, Mindy. Do the home stretch like you enjoy. I’ll meet you at the campsite. After we’re set up and eat, we can do the last half a kilo to the top. I think the old forest ranger’s station is still there.”

She jumps up, brushes a couple of vagrant leaves from her behind.

“Okay. You sure you don’t mind?”

“I haven’t minded before. I’m good. I might stop once in a while to admire the splendor and beauty of our natural surroundings.”

She nods at his formal delivery knowing she’s just been told that he’ll be taking his good old time. Ever since he’d seen The Lord of the Rings, he was always quoting Gandalf about how he “means to arrive when he should.” She, on the other hand, thrives on pushing herself. The solitude of the forested hillside absorbs her stress and she forgets about upholding the law. Truthfully, she doesn’t like putting the tent up with Jeb; he’s too slow. She can have it up in ten minutes on her own, whereas with him “helping” it usually takes a half hour.

“Yeah, you do that, Gramps. Watch out for killer squirrels!”

“Oh! And I have something to tell you, too! But…!” He wags his finger at her, reminding her she knows the rest.

“You crafty old dog!”

“Don’t call me an old dog. Now get outta here.”

He turns back to the leaf-covered vista before him, where he sees the downward slope of the terrain through the thinly scattered trees. The brush is kept trimmed four meters on each side of a narrow brook that flows three meters on the other side of the trail. The path follows the rill for another fifty meters before it twists northeast on its way to the pinnacle. He pushes his pack out of the way, rises and turns on his seat so he can watch her go uphill. She is already halfway to the large tree where she left her pack, at a serious strut.
The way she carries herself reminds Jeb of her father; she has the same physique. Of course, that vision is from when he was younger; they haven’t seen him for twenty-five years. The lovely oval face and cinnamon-colored eyes that can be so intense are from her mother, Heather – Jeb’s daughter. The determination and grit are her own. Watching her shoulder her pack and latch the loose nylon straps, he can only think how proud he is of her.

Jeb’s mind drifts as he stands to shoulder his own pack. Thoughts of Mindy’s father trouble him even with the passing of time. He wonders where he is. The family hasn’t heard from him for such a long time. Couldn’t stay off the bottle; probably drank himself to death. As Jeb climbs down the short bank to head up the trail, he can still remember the last time he saw him.

Norton Kane was a self-employed carpenter, living in a rooming house down in the east end of Moncton. He’d work for seven or eight days and go on a bender for two or three. A highly skilled craftsman when he was sober, he was always in demand. All he owned was an old Ford truck, his tools and enough clothes to fill a medium-sized suitcase. A year earlier Jeb’s daughter had had enough. Caring for two boys, aged six and five, and Mindy, only two, she threw him out for good.
 
 

Norton had stopped at Jeb’s place early one morning, a Saturday that was grey with an overcast sky. The first day of spring didn’t bode well. Norton’s knock on the door woke Jeb up. Opening the back door to admit his son-in-law, he had to step back from the reek of cheap booze. His hair and clothing were disheveled, his manner pleading and his swollen eyes filled with despair. He needed $200.00. He was starting a new project on Monday, a set of stairs in a new house by the golf course, he’d pay Jeb back next week. Jeb knew he’d never see the money again, but he didn’t dislike Norton, who had started out an honorable young man. He gave him $100.00 and wished him an abrupt goodbye. Norton didn’t even say thanks.

Two days later, Heather got a call from an angry homeowner demanding to know where his carpenter was. The gentleman had arrived at his house late afternoon to find the work site as if work is still in progress. Norton’s truck was parked in the driveway, rear hatch and driver’s door open. Tools were set up in the garage, with the wide doors rolled up. Sawdust and building materials were lying about. The door to the house was open but Norton was nowhere to be found.

No one ever saw him again.
 
 
To be continued..............................................
 
 
 
 
 


Thank you so much for visiting. Please return on March 14th for the rest of the story. Would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Guest Author Jane Tims of New Brunswick.


 
An artist at work.............
 
 
Jane Spavold Tims is a botanist, writer and artist living in rural New Brunswick. Jane’s interests are diverse but usually include a connection to natural themes. Her manuscript of poetry “mnemonic”, about wild bird calls, won the Alfred G. Bailey Prize in the 2016 New Brunswick Writers’ Federation Writing Competition. Previously she won Honorable Mention in this same category for her poetry manuscripts “growing and gathering” and “waterfall”. She has published one book of poetry, within easy reach (Chapel Street Editions, 2016), about gathering edible wild plants. Her next book of poetry will be published in 2018, about plants and animals living in the shelter of New Brunswick’s covered bridges. She has also contributed to a chapbook “butter and eggs” by the Fredericton-based writing group Fictional Friends. Jane illustrates her books with her pencil drawings and paintings, and shows her work regularly at Isaac’s Way Restaurant in Fredericton in their charity art auctions.
 

 

Diversity in Writing
People frame the approach to their life work very differently. Some focus on one project and work at it with commitment and dedication. Others juggle multiple projects, always keeping a dozen balls in the air at a time. I am of the second type. At any one time, I could list a dozen projects I am pursuing.
Some of this is part of my personality: the tests tell me I am an INFP (Myers Briggs Type Indicator®, see http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/ ) and my prayer for life is, “I will finish what I sta…  “. But I do occasionally finish things. And I thrive when I have lots to deliver. Some of this approach was reinforced during my career – managing many projects at the same time was a part of the job.
My approach to managing diversity is to tackle each project in turn, keep everything in balance and work towards specific goals.     
When I retired from 37 years of work as an environmental planner, I could hardly wait to start my new work as ‘writer’. I had built up to this part of my life with deliberate actions: writing at every opportunity, taking courses and building a list of literary publications. The day I retired, I was already a busy writer, working on the manuscript that was to become my first published poetry book -- within easy reach (Chapel Street Editions, 2016). By the time within easy reach was launched, I had undertaken two other poetry manuscripts with the help of Creations Grants from artsnb.  Now, almost five years later, I feel like a fraud listing my occupation as “retired”: I have never worked harder or struggled more with achieving balance in my work life.
 

Diversity in the Business of Writing

Consider the romantic notion of a writer at a tidy desk, in a cozy corner before a fire, looking out on a tranquil scene. This version of the writer’s life is probably a long way from truth for most writers. My day is a busy complication of submissions, email communications, editing, arranging future readings, research, reading and, yes, sometimes actual writing.
I have always known the occupation of writing has three aspects:
1.      the creative phase of putting words on paper or screen, and editing those words,
 
2.      the administrative phase of submitting, more editing, publication and marketing, and

3.      the ongoing process of training: reading, communicating with other writers, attending reading events, participating in writers’ groups and taking writing courses.  

In my experience, the administrative side can be the most time-consuming of the three. Publishing my first book meant immersion in administration, working with the publisher to edit and publish my book and to market it in various ways. I am fortunate to have an attentive and knowledgeable publisher in Chapel Street Editions (Woodstock, New Brunswick http://www.chapelstreeteditions.com/index.html ). Publisher Keith Helmuth is interested in themes associated with the natural history of the lower valley of the Saint John River and so easy to work with. Chapel Street’s designer, Brendan Helmuth, is responsible for the beautiful layout of my book and the balanced presentation of poetry and drawings.   

Diversity in Writing Projects and Themes
 

My writing tends to organise itself in themes. Since I am a biologist and botanist, I draw from that training and experience in every bit of my writing. From this have come my poetry manuscripts about the use of plants as natural dyes, wild bird songs, and gathering edible wild plants (the beginning of my book within easy reach).
I also have a degree in history, so often I include the exploration of regional, community and family history in my writing. This has resulted in poems about plants and animals living in and around the covered bridges in southern New Brunswick and a recent interest in discovering the history of our vanishing one-room schools.
In addition to my poetry, I am also working on a trio of novels about life in a rural community of New Brunswick, focussing on efforts to save an abandoned church (“Open to the Skies”), a damaged covered bridge (“Crossing at a Walk”) and a discontinued river ferry (“Shore to Shore”).
With my next book in line for traditional publication in 2018 (“in the shelter of the covered bridge), I have decided to try my hand next at independent publication. In part this is about curiosity and in part it is because writing in the science-fiction genre is so new for me.
I have always loved reading science-fiction. My sci-fi story will be contained in a series of five short books, each presented as a long poem and illustrated with my drawings. I will publish under my first name Alexandra Tims, in part to keep my work in the sci-fi genre separate from my other poetry.  The first book, Meniscus: Crossing the Churn tells the story of a young woman on an alien planet and her search for freedom from servitude.

Balancing Act
Of course, I don’t work on all these projects at once. Instead I will say that all are in various stages of completion. At any one time, I have a writing focus, a single project in the creative phase. And a couple of projects in the administrative phase.
The difficulty with independent publication? The creative and administrative phases are accomplished without the help of a publisher -- the author has to undertake both phases alone.
But not alone. There are editors out there to help with manuscript review. My editor for Meniscus: Crossing the Churn is Lee Thompson (Lee Thompson Editing +  https://leethompsonediting.com/ ). This is my third project with Lee and I have confidence in his approach to manuscript evaluation and substantive editing. 
There are also other writers who have independent publishing experience and are willing to help. For this, I have turned to my friend Roger Moore, writer and poet, who has undertaken the process of putting his numerous books into CreateSpace ( https://rogermoorepoet.com/ ). Roger has helped me to understand the process and mechanics of independent publication.
And there are those who have listened and helped me hone my ideas and writing. I am fortunate to belong to two writing groups: Wolf Tree Writers who have met monthly for over twenty-five years, and Fictional Friends who have been together almost ten years. For me, these groups have provided the support and friendship of other writers, and a chance to hear the work of others and to get feedback on my writing.  My fellow writers in both groups have listened and offered comment as I embark into this new genre of writing.  I think they would agree they have found my interest in this project to be a bit bewildering! 

                                                                                  *** 

So, I am certain I have proven to you that I am interested in working at the same time on multiple projects. I know completing projects one at a time would probably send them more efficiently off the end of the production line.
But I was made to manage diversity.
And in the end, whether or not I get the truck loaded with all my completed boxes of books is not really the point. The point is that I had lots of ideas, wrote about them and loved the whole process. Managing the diversity is part of the pain and the fun.  
 
 

by Jane Spavold Tims:
 within easy reach, Chapel Street Editions, Woodstock, 2016
by Alexandra Tims:
Meniscus: Crossing The Churn, Amazon, available March 2017
with Fictional Friends:
butter and eggs, Fredericton, 2015
 
 
 
 
 
 

                                    berries in brambles


                               ‘... summer's blood was in it ...’

             Seamus Heaney, Blackberry-picking

 1. 
on the mowed road
above the lake
we are astonished 
blackberries
              precocious
              sinister
              delicious
 
 
 
2.

for three Saturdays
we pick berries 
first, unprepared
we heap them
into hats
eat handfuls
pulp, seeds and cordial pressed
between palate and tongue
the next 
we stay all morning
reach deep into the bushes
thorns impale the easy pull
of berries into pail
all week we concoct
              blackberry jam
              blackberry buckle 
              blackberry muffins
set blackberry brandy to steep                  

the last day
we are uneasy
              (indigo bear droppings 
              still steaming)
the picking hard
berries and foreheads 
sun-shrivelled
bloody scratches on arms

3.
blackberry
brambles
grapple my coat
more than a firm tug needed
to struggle free      

from within easy reach, Chapel Street Editions, 2016 

Blackberries (various species of Rubus) are brambles growing in barrens and waste areas, in meadows and along roadsides. Plants range from tall and arching to low-growing. Some have numerous prickles and bristles, and some are barely prickly. The black fruit are raspberry-like, eaten raw, or used to make jam, jelly and beverages.


                                                                    



 Thank you Jane for being our guest this week on the Scribbler.
 
 
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