Ancient Inspiration

Before I get to the main point of this post, I would like to take a moment to mention Windows 10. My laptop upgraded itself the other day. It’s all very well, I suppose – I have nothing to complain about. Unless, that is, you wish to count that I had only just got my head around Windows 8, and now I’m sure it will take me another century to work this one out too. One notable thing I must mention about Windows 10 is its sound. What pretty, delicate little noises it makes, no? Not like the earlier versions of Windows, like 95 and 98, which went DYOINK!! when you clicked on something sometimes. Remember that? And it usually gave you a heart attack, that strident noise. Goodness.

But this upgrade has caused me some grief in one respect: my phone input. I refuse to believe I am the only person who struggles connecting their mobile to their computer. With Windows 8, I had it sussed, all was well and life was splendid. Windows 10? I can’t. I don’t understand. It’s linked me to OneDrive and I cannot cope with such technological complexities. I am not good with technology, in case you hadn’t already gathered this, and, if I can’t cope with technology now, I dread to think what I’ll be like in ten, twenty, thirty years time. It took me about nine thousand years to get the photos from my phone to this WordPress post, with plentiful clawing at the face and near throwing-phone-and-or-laptop-out-of-window moments. But finally! Success.

Yet, one thing I found incredibly curious was how I rediscovered photos on my laptop which I KNOW I deleted aaaages ago. How on earth did Windows 10 bring them back…? Does Microsoft store all deleted stuff in some far-off, technological cavern to snoop on all your doings, or so they may haunt you with things you once believed to be gone for good? Hmm. Though, disconcerting as this thought may be, I did find it amusing trawling through old, once-deleted photos – namely the five hundred or so accidental photos I accidentally took with my temperamental laptop camera (I may be exaggerating just a smidge). Seriously though, how do you accidentally take so many photos? The stupid camera app thing on Windows 8 always got in my way, opening up in the middle of my work, and while my head was down or my eyes were elsewhere I heard a sly click; when I looked up, I saw my face looking back at me. Here are two examples:

WIN_20140214_095846 WIN_20140411_203740

I mean, there I was, minding my own business, TRYING to work, and my stupid camera takes a snap. I swear my laptop has a mind of its own. This is also quite a disconcerting thought. Sometimes, when I open up MS Word, the cursor does a mad jig across the page, or, when I’ve opened a large document (such as my manuscript), it scrolls endlessly down through the pages. Maybe it’s possessed. This is the only logical explanation, obviously. Although, I am pleased to say that accidental photos are a thing of the past, and it has been a long while since MS Word has had a funky jig. Mellowed with age, that’s what it is.

***

So, enough of Windows. In this post I thought I would write about writer inspiration (for myself, at any rate).

I am fortunate to live on the edge of Exmoor National Park, a beautiful landscape in the southwest of England. As a nature-lover, I can’t ask for much more. There are many beautiful walks and sights to see on Exmoor, all of which are no farther than a thirty minute drive away from me. The other day I visited a place called Tarr Steps. A slightly deceptive name on the face of it, for there are no steps at Tarr Steps – unless, that is, you associate the ‘steps’ with the physical stepping one does there. Tarr Steps is actually a Grade I listed (a very old protected structure of historical and architectural interest, for those not from England) clapper bridge, which is an ancient form of bridge usually built from stone found in UK moors and uplands across fords and rivers.

IMAG0228_1

There is some mystery surrounding Tarr Steps, since no one is quite sure how old the bridge actually is: it is believed to be a medieval construction, but that can range from anywhere between 500 – 1485 AD. The word clapper derives from the Old English wordcleaca’, which means “stepping-stones”, while the word tarr derives from the Celtic word ‘tochar’, which means “causeway”.

Causeway

noun

A raised road or track across low or wet ground

IMAG0232

The name “Tarr Steps” doesn’t seem so strange for this bridge now, does it? The causeway stepping-stones. But it is no wonder there is so much head-scratching about the age of Tarr Steps, since clapper bridges are constructions first recorded in the Middle Ages, yet its name, tarr, is of Celtic origin. It does annoy me when everyone associates the Celts to purely be the ancient folk of Ireland and Scotland, because, actually, the whole of Britain was once Celtic – the Celts were who dwelt on these lands in BC. There were three main groups of Celts across the northwest of Europe: the Gauls (France, Belgium, western Germany and northern Italy); the Gaels (Ireland and Scotland – Scotland was once called the Picts, I believe, but they merged with the Gaels); and the Britons (ENGLAND and Wales). So. There we go. It is only because invasions pushed the Celts up the country to Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and also down to Cornwall. Due to the hundreds of invasions Britain suffered over the centuries – from the Vikings, Romans, Angles, Saxons and Jutes – this country is a total, total mishmash of ancient cultures and languages, and the invaders ended up merging with the native Celts and their culture, though the Celts were mostly to be found in the corners of the country, which is why the country of England ended up differing and evolving more and more from the Celts they once were. It is, therefore, only fair to say that England has Celtic blood. Always has, always will.

Moving on from that history lesson (sorry about that, I’m a bit of a history geek), I often believe that we folk of Britain have a slight advantage over most other countries of the world when it comes to writing inspiration – certainly fantasy writing, at any rate. Why do I say this? Well, of course, there are fantastic fantasy writers from all across the globe – and certainly from America/Canada, which are very young countries compared to the UK and Europe – but dare I say their fantastical inspiration comes from the parts of history their countries never got the chance to live, to experience? The knights, the castles, the cavalry and the kings; the rituals, the legends, the magic and the myth. Whether we appreciate it or not, we Britons are immersed and surrounded by such rich, deep history, and indeed, it is so second nature for us to see an ancient building, to hear an ancient story, that many of us do not stop to think about it. We absorb this history. It is a part of our blood.

J.R.R. Tolkien changed the face of fantasy forever. Lord of the Rings. He was British.

J.K. Rowling captured the hearts of the world. Harry Potter. She is British.

C.S. Lewis. The Chronicles of Narnia. British.

Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland. British.

J.M. Barrie. Peter Pan. British.

Beatrix Potter. The Tales of Peter Rabbit. British.

Terry Pratchett. Discworld. British.

Roald Dahl. (Too many to list). British.

T.H. White. The Sword in the Stone. British.

Needless to say, the United Kingdom has a pretty hefty list of influential fantasy writers. As children, our historical school trips consist of adventures to castles and ruins, and we are never more than a stone’s throw away from some historical sight or structure. I grew up by castle ruins. I used to go there and hang out with my friends, sat amongst the cathedral ruins in the outer bailey, or walked the dog up there frequently. When I was a kid, I vividly remember going to a castle on a school trip (Warwick, I believe – an AMAZING castle. Go there. Instantly) and we had to dress according to the times at court, so we girls were royal ladies with hennin (those weird hats) or with medieval hairstyles, and the boys were jesters or knights or other royal court people.

Stuff like this

How I wish I had a photo of my old class, but alas. You can imagine how thrilled we were as children to dress up as medieval dames and knights, parading around the castle and its ground to see jousting knight re-enactments and dances and music. What a marvellous country this is.

Needless to say, every time I visit/see an ancient place in this country, my mind swells with imagination, and ideas and thoughts zoom about. It is a joy. There is such wonder in inspiration from history. Of course, some places come to life for you, as demonstrated in the video, and so your mind does not have such an opportunity to thrive; however, even with that you can daydream about a maiden’s story, or a knight’s adventure. Let your imagination flourish!

Tarr Steps was busy with people on the day I visited – families making the most of the elusive sun – but the bridge itself is nothing but that: a bridge. What imagination can come from an ancient stone bridge? So much!

IMAG0223

Ancient places are so special. What stories do these ancient stones have to tell? What sights have they seen throughout the ages, and who have they greeted? I was but one more footprint to add to its immense history, already gone and forgotten. In centuries to come, will another stand upon these stones and wonder who walked there before them? Maybe they will stand in the exact same place I did.

***

Wander through an ancient place and listen to the tales the stone tells you. Your mind will hear! Let the grass or trees or river whisper to your imagination, and you may find the greatest story yet to be told.

May your mind be free and your heart peaceful.

-JKM

Stay Strong

Words cannot express how long I have had to fight for every single smile in my life, and how difficult it has been to hold onto joy and light, thanks to crippling depression that has plagued me since childhood. Thank you to the never-ending continuation of burdens and grief. Really. Thanks. Thank you world, thank you life. I know I am dangerously close to sounding like a martyr, or maybe even a drama queen – ‘What the hell has she got to be depressed about?’ many might think – but unless you too have suffered with it, you cannot understand the agony it brings. Every day. Always. And I know there is so much I have to be thankful for, and indeed I spend every night reminding myself of this, but it is such a faint glimmer within the darkness. But a glimmer nonetheless.

And, to my dear mother, I want to apologise for all the added stress I brought you in my school days, in my teenage years, for I could not cope and I know it upset you to see me ruin myself, to fall into this unrecognisable being of burning anger. And I want to apologise for now, for still not being the daughter I wish I could be. You too have had many hardships, and right now we are both going through difficulty, and I wish I was a better, more stable person to help you somehow. Perhaps I am desperately selfish to spend my time crying and telling you how I cannot cope, burdening you, when you have had to be the strongest woman I know, raising three children alone – one of whom is disabled. You are so strong. How I look at you and think, ‘I wish I could be so wise and strong like you!’ Don’t be sad, Mum. Don’t cry. I will try to be a good daughter and friend to ease these times, though I do not know how. I wish I knew how. Maybe the knowledge of my love will do for now. And, perhaps, I should be saying all this to you in person, but we know how utterly hopeless I am at speaking my feelings aloud… Writing is my release and my solace. And so I write this, sharing with the world how wonderful I think you are. Someday, I will defeat depression once and for all, and be the girl I’m truly meant to be and the daughter I have always hoped to become.

I’ll hold your hand and we’ll scramble these rocks together, though I’m not sure how good I’ll be as support, for you have been the one to support me since forever. I’ll try, Mum. I’ll try…

Once upon a time I wrote a little rhyme… And I say this to you now, and to myself, and to anyone else out there who has silently been suffering with depression:

‘Silver moonlight in the night
shines down for all to see,
so where can the shadows hide
when even in darkness there is light?’

**

There is light, always. Stay strong ❤

‘One Last Time’ Tag – Q&A

It would seem there is a tag lurking about the place about Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or rather the films – more specifically, The Battle of the Five Armies. Kayla at Concerning Writing tagged me, for which I must thank her, for now I have an excuse to endlessly ramble about LotR. Are you ready for my rant –ahem– answers?

There are four rules for this tag:

1) You have to be tagged in order to do it.

2) You have to tag and notify at least three bloggers.

3) Answer the questions!

4) You must have seen The Battle of the Five Armies before taking this quiz.

*

1) Tell your story of how you came to see the movies or got into Tolkien in the first place.

Oh my. Well, my love for Tolkien began when I was a child. I had not read the LotR books, but I had seen them (and The Hobbit) on the bookshelf, for my mother was a fan, and I remember being especially intrigued by the covers. Though, my mother would not let me touch them because they were India paper Deluxe Editions from the 1970s that my father bought her – which are now worth about £100, would you believe! – and I suppose she did not want mucky child fingers damaging them. Fair enough, I say.

deluxehoblotr

Behold. These are the very books of which I speak: The Hobbit (left) and LotR (right). Though, I highly doubt they’d be worth near 100 quid – look at the state of LotR’s cover! Tut tut, Mother.

She said, “If you want to look at the books, I’ll buy you some others.” And so she did. She bought bog standard LotR books. But I still didn’t read them; I just looked at them.

And then I heard talk of the LotR books currently being adapted into films, and I remember many people were terribly sceptical, claiming it could never be pulled off. And so came 2001! and the much anticipated The Fellowship of the Ring trailer was released about a year before the actual film release date (as movie-makers like to do), and I saw the trailer on TV.

For whatever reason, this trailer captured my heart, and I spent the many months before the release date pestering my mother non-stop if we could see the film at the cinema. I bet she loved me for that 😉 AND SO CAME DECEMBER 2001. And we went to the cinema to see the film. And I fell in love, well and truly. And then I wouldn’t shut up about this eternal love for LotR. And my mother bought LotR everything: film books, chess, Warhammer, Top Trumps, PS2 games (which my brother and I played ALL the time, we loved them so much).

This came out in 2002. On the rare occasion my brother and I are together and have a moment, we still dig this game out and play it. And we still find it as impossible… challenging… as we did then. I swear, they don’t make games as difficultly satisfying as they did in those days. *Rocks backs and forth in rocking chair.*

And she also got me LotR action figures, which I still have to this day.

lotrfigures

Firstly, I apologise about the poor quality of this photo. But look! Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf the White, and The Mouth of Sauron. Can anyone notice the disfigured arms of Legolas and Aragorn? Also, Gimli’s head no longer moves. My mum threw my original action figures away (just Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli) because I broke them (due to playing with them so much, you understand), and these are the ‘updated’ ones, if you will, I got slightly later amid the franchise.

But talk of my childhood love for LotR always makes me smile, for there I was playing LotR Warhammer with my brother, and playing LotR PS2 games and playing with my action figures, yet in those days I was also a little girly-girl wearing my flowery headbands and dancing around in my pink bedroom singing down a hairbrush to songs such as this:

‘I’M GONNA TAKE THIS NIGHT AND MAKE IT EVERGREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN’

It is a well-acknowledged fact that you cannot sing that line without the power-ballad-esqe bellow and clenched fist.

Do you know this Westlife song came out in 2001, the same year as The Fellowship? Fun fact for you, there.

10 dc 01

This was little girly-girl moi in 2001. I too am questioning why and how I seem to be so tanned, don’t worry. Remember the days when you had to go and get your camera films developed? My dad, once the technology had developed, took all our albums of family photos and scanned them to the computer, putting them on CDs. He was therefore the one who named all the photo files. When I found this one it was entitled, ‘Jenny being a tropical maiden’. A tropical maiden. Hilarious. 

Wasn’t it such a joy to receive your developed photos though, in that little pocket envelope they gave you? And you eagerly flicked through them to see how they’d turned out, and to your dismay most of them had a great blur of a finger across the picture. Ahhh, those were the days. *Rocks back and forth in rocking chair. Knits.* 

But I digress. What a stark contrast, no? Anyway, have I rambled on enough about LotR? The answer is no, for that is impossible, but I’m supposed to be talking about The Hobbit. So, yes, that is where my love for LotR and Tolkien began, and then I read the books many years later, surprisingly, for you would have thought I’d have read them sooner. And I also read The Hobbit then, and fell in love with that too.

And then, fast forward many a year, came the dreaded Hobbit films… *twitches*

2) Who are your three favourite characters in The Hobbit? 

In the books, I presume? Well, I’m going with the books either way. One: Bilbo Baggins, obviously. Isn’t he fabulous? Martin Freeman was the only redeeming factor in the Hobbit films, if you ask me. Two: Probably Gandalf the Grey, Gandalf Greyhame, Mithrandir, Gandalf Stormcrow – whatever you want to call him (Stevick, you think I have many aliases? 😉 ). He is such a wise and powerful wizard, yet so human with his tempers and all! And three: Gollum. What a deep, complex character he is! It’s fascinating.

3) Did you cry at The Battle of the Five Armies, and if so, which scenes and what type? 

Did I cry? *scoffs* Of course I didn’t. And I did not cry because I felt no emotional connection to the Hobbit films. Because they ruined the story in every single way imaginable. What was Peter Jackson thinking?! Though, I won’t lie, I found The Battle of the Five Armies more tolerable than the other two.

4) Were the deaths compelling to you, and if so, whose?

As with the previous question, I felt no emotional connection to anything in those films, and so, no, the deaths were not compelling. In fact, I actually had to restrain my laughter at one death scene (which I’m thinking was not the desired reaction), lest I got strange looks from the other people in the cinema. So utterly ridiculous. It was Kili dying in Tauriel’s arms. Ugh, please. What a total joke.

There’s got to be someone else out there who finds that funny… surely? I mean, how long did they want to drag out that moronic stare at each other? So, so stupid.

However, Thorin’s death was acceptable. I would say almost moving. Careful, I might be getting carried away.

5) Overall, were you satisfied with the movie itself?

Of course I wasn’t. It was awful. I hate the entire Hobbit trilogy. Thank you to Peter Jackson for creating the most magnificent tribute to Tolkien’s work ever – The Lord of the Rings – only to then utterly disgrace it with The bloody Hobbit. I’m so cross about it all. What a distasteful, money-grabbing load of hogwash it is. I am never subjecting myself to watching The Hobbit trilogy again – and that fact it is a trilogy is reason enough to begin with.

6) Describe the movie in one word.

Disgraceful.

*

And now I am to nominate people to also do this tag. Hmm.

Valourborn! <- I know you will love this one 😉

And I’m thinking The PewPew Diaries might be one for this, too.

I can’t think of a third person…

***

I apologise about my hatred towards The Hobbit, to those who love it. It’s hard to rein in the passion I have for Tolkien’s work. Still, I know I am not the only one with this opinion, for friends I have who adore LotR also utterly despise The Hobbit. It is a sad ending to what could have be a masterful closure to Middle-Earth. Alas.

I actually watched The Fellowship of the Ring on my birthday, and the other two over the following days. Such love (and, indeed, it reconfirmed my everlasting love for Samwise Gamgee). I become such an emotional wreck at the end of The Return of the King, and it always reminds me of when I first saw it at the cinema, for of course, in those days, we did not know The Hobbit was to be made, and so this truly was the end of Middle-Earth and how the tears fell! even as a child. Isn’t it amazing how stories can grip you so? How FANTASY can grip you so, and never let you go?

Undoubtedly, were it not for Tolkien’s masterpiece that is LotR, I would not have fallen in love with fantasy, and, ergo, ILIMOSKUS never would have been born. Tolkien truly is the King of Fantasy – at least of fantasy as we now know it!

I do not know very many people who like LotR, let alone love it (in person, at least). I can count them on one hand. Isn’t that tragic? Do you remember how Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released at the same time as The Fellowship? I remember all my peers were in love with Harry Potter, not LotR, and I was ever criticised for this. “Harry Potter is better!” they declared. Indeed, Harry Potter was/is certainly the story more appealing to children, but not to me.

Harry Potter’s magic and wonder never reached my heart, I’m afraid.

But LotR?

Perhaps my heart lives for epic adventures, eternal depth, and, most importantly:

soulful stories.

What does your heart live for?

Umeraard-ite (Glowing Heart Day)

I am basically writing this post specifically tailored for Prince Stevick the Agwikus, and indeed writing it purely because of him. But writing this will induce many smiles for me, which can only be a good thing, for as of late I have been having quite a rotten time of it, and it is nice to forget your heart’s woes by distracting it with laughter, wouldn’t you agree…?

But before I get to the smiles, let me just briefly overview why things have been so rotten, and why my soul has been so unbelievably miserable recently. As most of you will know, I have been dealing with my mental health situation… It is a dingy, grim little alleyway to get yourself through, let me tell you. Anyway,  2015 has not got off to a good start. I tripped over through the transitional gate and fell flat on my face. But, no matter, I’m picking myself and dusting myself off. It’s fine. My mother became horribly ill and spent a week in hospital, so I had to look after my disabled brother for a time and that just became unbearable because he hits me and screams at me blah blah. And my therapist dropped a bombshell on me the other week which, upon arriving home after the session, made me cry for the rest of the day. There are sticky situations, and then there are deathly consuming viscid situations, and then there’s the situation I’m in… 😦

I swear, all I have been doing this year is crying. Sobbing. You know when you cry so deeply that, when inhaling, you can feel you soul tremble? Yeah. That.

But the misery does not end there. Ilimoskus, anyone? Anyone heard me mention that before? 😉 My laptop got some hideous virus not too long ago, rendering the stupid thing useless and ruining all my writing files. And then, as if all my technology planned to conspire against me, my main writing USB drive became corrupt… And my Book 2 manuscript file became corrupt and I could no longer access it… And my Times of Old manuscript – the one I have spent a lifetime re-editing – was wiped completely, as were my website files, and also another insanely important document for the Ilimoskus story. And because my backups (on my laptop) had too messed up… Well… I’m not even going to attempt to explain how I felt. But I cried. Again. A lot. Of course. However, my eldest brother is a technological miracle worker and saved the day, PRAISE BE. And now I have forked out on an IronKey USB (brother’s recommendation), because that is NOT happening again. Ever. Nope. Not having it.

Anyway… Moving on from depressing things…

SMILE TIME.

😀

***

I happen to share my birthday with a few famous faces, which therefore makes my birth date the best ever. No? Oh. Well, allow me to reveal their faces to you, all the same:

Charles Darwin – a man I hold deep respect for.

Abrahaaaaaaaaaam Lincoln

Gromit the Dog!

As you can see, I share my birthday with some marvellous fellows. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THEM ALL. Also, if you do not know who Gromit is, I feel you have been deprived in life for not knowing the classic that is Wallace and Gromit – product of the wonderful Aardman Animations.

Did anyone notice Gromit’s eye roll upon opening the singing card? That is rather accurate to my response to birthday jubilations and the like. As is this:

I am referring to Squidward, you understand, not Spongebob and Patrick. But oh, the old Spongebob episodes are glorious things. But I am not a birthday celebrator. At all. It’s just not who I am, not what I do.

Anyway.

It’s my birthday. I therefore received some gifts, which is always a very kind gesture from people. But I am here to share some with you (and when I say ‘you’, I really mean Stevick. But you, too 😉 )

I shall save the best ’til last. But let’s start with this:

owlmug

This is an owl mug. I laughed upon opening it. And I shall tell you why I laughed. Stevick and I have been having the most ridiculous (hilarious) conversation about Owl City and Umbrella and Ilimoskus (don’t even ask) recently, and then I am given an owl mug. Which reminded me of Owl City. And thus of our conversation.

And so I move on to my next little gift:

coastag

So, I happened to get two coasters for my birthday this year. This is one of them. A stag. Look at it, bellowing with ferns stuck on its antlers. Hilarious. So in love with stags/deer.

And this is the second coaster I received:

genuinelaw

From my dearest darling Meggie, of course. Who else? Yesterday a large parcel came in the post, from my darling, and when I opened it today I was treated to an array of little gifts in a box. All marvellous, obviously. And on this particular coaster Meggie had stuck a Post-It Note on it, and it read: ‘This is some genuine law advice from me.’ I should probably explain that she is in Law. Love her. I howled (laughed) at it all.

And on the mention of Meggie, this was the card she got me:

seduction

I swear, Meggie and I make it our mission in life to out-do each other with the cards we send. They are always hysterical affairs, inside and out. On the inside of this one she wrote, ‘This card is an image of us trying to seduce men. Accurate, no?’ The love I have for this girl cannot be described.

And finally, I reveal what you’ve all been waiting for. Or at least Stevick, anyway, since the rest of you have no knowledge of this. Drum roll, please.

A SIGNED PHOTO OF NICK HEWER.

NICK

Oh, sorry, I mean Higi Hewer. That man has such illegible handwriting.

I honestly spent forever laughing this morning when opening the envelope that enclosed this little delight. I have laughed so much today. It has been lovely. Though, I won’t lie, there were tears earlier on, but short-lived! How can I possibly be sorrowful when such hilarity surrounds me?

How I must thank Stevick for arranging this, and how we must both thank Countdown for letting it become a reality.

Here is a close up of the man.

closeupNICK

What a smirk.

But that was not the end of my giggles. He had also written on the back!

nicknote

You can’t really see it, but it is written in green ink. Nick knows me so well, clearly, for green is by far my favourite colour. But, as I said: illegible handwriting. If anyone can work out what on earth it’s supposed to say – Happy ___??? – please do let me know. The man can’t even write his name. How does that look remotely like ‘Nick‘? Why are there two dots, as though there are two i‘s? Unless he has written Nicki – which is again hilarious – but then where is the k? Deary me. Still. This is fabulous in every way.

THANK YOU, STEVICK.

x

***

Anyway, I leave behind depressing and amusing notions to now turn to earnest ones. I cannot possibly do a post and not drag the Ilimoskus into somehow, right? Perhaps you are wondering about the title of this post.

‘Umeraard-ite’

‘Glowing Heart Day’

On an Ilimoskus birthday, their heartlight (the little four-pointed star situated on their chests) glows brightly throughout the duration of the day. But let me tell you of the Ilimoskus belief regarding their heartlight…

The Ilimoskus believe that their Creator’s spirit resides in the hearts of all. Broaden that belief out and it becomes them believing that there is a light in everyone’s heart. And this light is there to guide you, help you, throughout life.

‘May the light from your heart always guide you’

And I believe this too, you know. This is the case for humans. It is not just limited to the Ilimoskus. There is a light within us all, and all we need to do is embrace it. And when we do, the world becomes a very bright and beautiful place.

*

Once upon a time, I had a good German friend called Christian with whom I have many joyful memories. I haven’t seen him for many years, and we fell out of touch, but, due to the wonders of social media these days, he is a friend of mine on Facebook. Today he messaged me saying, “Alles Gute zum Geburtstag”. I never knew what “Happy birthday” was in German until now. Can you believe I never asked him? It made me smile.

Though, I did learn this from him in our time:

“Ich liebe dich”

From my glowing heart, I share a loving light, and so I say Ich liebe dich to you all. I love you. For what is life without love? Love to all, and compassion for all.

*

Embrace the light in your heart

and let it be your guide,

and nevermore will you become

lost within the night

Sketching with Sincerity

Salutations, all!

So.

My inspiration has been absent for months now, and recently life has been a trial, so I apologise about my lack of posts and thereof lack of creative posts. This is yet another not-very-creative post… I’m not really sure where to go.

‘He was endlessly spinning on the spot amidst the heart of thick smoke, and it stung his eyes so he could not see, losing all sense of purpose and direction, so even the smallest step forward was a blind one.’

A little quote from Book 2, there. That pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling for months – on a creative level, you understand. Yet again, progress on Book 2 has been unbearably slow, due to other life influences and my emotional state. Ughhhhhhhhh. This broken record will surely result in my insanity, I’m telling you.

Anyway…

Recently I’ve taken it upon myself to re-write some Ilimoskus songs from Book 1. Why I’m making more work for myself, I don’t know, but it feels right to do this. I’ve been sat at my piano losing the will to live, though, for making Kurpian rhyme is quite possibly one of the worst things on this earth. It is so difficult with all it’s stupid syntax and grammar rules. What idiot created such a moronic language? … 😉

With this new-found focus I have for my story this year, it is only natural I should link things back to it. Today is Prince Stevick’s birthday – all snow! – and as a little ‘gift’, if you will, I said I would draw him something for it. Ilimoskus-related, of course.

As occupies the vast majority of our conversations, a little while back we were talking about Countdown (what else, really?). Those of you not from the UK – and thus unfortunate enough not to know what Countdown is – it is a game show. Visit Stevick’s blog to see for yourselves. Now, Stevick is deeply in love with Susie Dent who is the lady behind Dictionary Corner on the programme, and he declared that she is more beautiful than the moon, which I found to be quite something, given how much Stevick loves the moon. And so, naturally, I thought about the Ilimoskus.

The Agwikus (water folk) are linked to the beautiful moon, and thus you will commonly see them out embracing the night-time, for this time resonates in their souls. And, the moon is linked to the sea and tides, and because the Agwikus dwell in the sea it is only natural they should have such a deep connection to the silver circle of the night’ – as the Ilimoskus refer to it in their tongue.

All this then made me think of something else Stevick and I once talked about. Yeeeeeaars ago, I once made a little personality quiz entitled ‘Which Ilyor Would You Be in?’ or, in English, ‘Which Element Dwells in Your Heart?’ I told him about this, and as a laugh I did this quiz with him last year. And which element was he? Water. The Agwikus.

Which takes me back to Susie Dent and Stevick’s declaration that she is more beautiful than the moon. “Darling Susie”, he said – a play on my ‘Darling Moon’ song and poem.

And so, behold the little sketch I did:

susie-niia

As you can see, here is Stevick the Agwikus hailing the Darling Susie Moon by the coast.

And he is proclaiming:

deckur

“Thial, Susie-niia! Thial, Oceaniia! Helchir’abeiim od amoat! Smiigok wri yer lu!”

“All hail Darling Susie! All hail the Darling Moon – the most beautiful of all! I so live for your words!”

Which Stevick does, you know. He lives for Susie Dent’s Origins of Words.

(I love the Kurpian word oceaniia. It reminds me of ‘oceanic’, and I love the sea. But, this Kurpian word actually means ‘the beloved moon’, or rather ‘darling moon’. And the sea and moon are linked anyway! It isn’t pronounced “ocean-ee-ah“, though, it’s, “oh-see-ah-nee-ah”. Which I think is quite fun to say, personally.)

junu

Jun umeraard-ite, Stevick!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

From Jenona,

x

***

On the subject of gifts, I would like to take this moment to thank my wonderful friend Alex for the gift she sent me at the beginning of the year. I truly love it.

alexnecklace

She sent me this necklace (ignore the little cross, that’s not part of it). That she made! Amazing. Touched beyond words that she did this for me. She said the green marble reminded her of nature, and that in turn reminded her of me, and the little acorn top came from an oak tree in her neighbourhood. Not only do I now wear a thoughtful gesture of kindness and friendship around my neck and close to my heart, but also a little part of Canada. ^^

Thank you so much, Alex!!

It blesses me, and may you be blessed in return.

***

Finally, I end with this:

I tried to draw Fii’dezrhu the other day and it nearly reduced me to tears because I cannot draw and I most certainly cannot draw those DARN Ilimoskus. Honestly. Why are they so against letting me draw them?! (or why am I so bad at drawing them…) But, here is the no-where-near-finished sketch I did of Rhu…

rhusketch

Ugh. Can you see those circles on his shoulder? That is the outline of little Flee. Now, I say ugh, but I don’t think this sketch was too bad. But then I made the mistake of using colour over it (because if I am drawing these Ilimoskus then I want their features to be fully appreciated!), and by doing this I completely ruined it. Sigh. So now I have to re-draw Fii’dezrhu. Every single time I use colour on a close-up sketch, I ruin it. I don’t know how I manage it. It’s quite a skill, if you ask me. Maybe I should keep the close-ups merely as pencil, and the distance sketches can be colour…

But, here’s something: a beautiful friend of mine contacted me the other day asking questions about the Ilimoskus. I rang him, wishing to get to the bottom of this sudden questioning, and it turns out he wants to create/draw the Ilimoskus on this photoshop program or something. He wants to bring them to life for me. I love that man, the beautiful soul he is. So, maybe someday I will be able to share his drawings with you. I’m sure they’ll be magnificent.

He’ll do them far more justice than I will trying to draw them, anyway o_O’

Rise Above, Be Reborn

Here I am, running freely through Ilimoskus Valley. It is my hope to talk openly about much to do with Ilimoskus this year, for previously I had done so rather sparingly, as though I did not want to bother others with the mention of it. But, I realise now that the Ilimoskus story – the Ilimoskus world – is as much a part of me as my very breath, and to hold it in denies my heart of all its core values. So, here’s hoping for wonderful things to come out of this year!

*

And nor will I stay quiet about my mental health. I have a mental health problem. I am ill. And I have been for far too long, in honesty. Eight years too long. Modern society still sneers down on mental health as not being much of a problem (certainly in the UK, anyway), but truly I tell you to know that it is. It really is. Nobody asks to become ill. Do you think anyone asks for a mental illness? It is hideous, for you are trapped within your own mind, and every new step you take somehow leads you back into darkness, back into the eternal loop from which it seems impossible to escape. It is tough to get over an illness. I believe it is probably tougher to get over a mental one. The mind is a complex thing. Still! I am undergoing ‘treatment’, if you will, and I am sure I will be free eventually.

Fellow sufferers, to you I say: Please do not give up, please do not be overwhelmed. I know it is so, so hard, and there are some days you wake up and think, I cannot do this anymore, I cannot go on this way, and I know it can be tempting to do something about those feelings, but that is not the way. I know how lonely it feels. I know how forsaken life seems. But please do not give up. There is a way out of the darkness, and you find the light by seeking help, by forever seeking your inner strength. You will pull through. You can and you will.

Of course, finding your inner strength and clambering out of the darkness does not dig up roses, but rather it churns up thick mud and thorns spit in your face. But those thorns can only blind you if you let them, and the mud can only suck you under if you stand still. I don’t claim to have all the answers, of course I don’t – no one does – but I do know that finding the beauty and wonder in the world, in the tiny little things, allows the sun to shine upon you, and that is precious. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people, but I do know that the most beautiful people in the world are the ones who rise above their gloom and grab the sun for their own, shining its light – as well as theirs – upon the rest of us. A special grace and power comes to those who rise above the darkness. And their hearts, once so scarred and hopeless, turn into diamonds. Unbreakable and so, so beautiful.

But anyway… Enough of such sober matters. (Just don’t give up. Mental illness or no.)

*

I am here to talk about my precioussssssssss **gollum!-gollum!** That is, Ilimoskus. Lots to tell, lots to tell!

ONE) This is the most important, and so it comes first. I should have blurted this out ages ago, but, you know, I’ve been busy planting flowers in my mud. THIS POST <<- announced that my book, Ilimoskus: Times of Old, was no longer available for purchase, due a blumin’ publishing nightmare. BUT!! No more is this so! Back at the beginning of December (or maybe even the end of November, actually, I can’t remember) I was told that the book had been picked up by another company, and, thusly, it is back for the world to read. Hoorah, eh? So. If you would like to read the story, know now that you can. Jolly times.

TWO) I say ‘jolly times’, and indeed it is, but I was actually slightly miffed by this because I wanted to re-edit the manuscript before I put it back out to the world. Obviously that has not happened. Never mind. I’ll do it at some point. I am still re-editing Times of Old at the moment; I’ve cut some bits out, and I’ve made some alterations, such as the school uniform design for Anglarne Hill Independent School in the human world (which includes altering the colour of the house of Danebury, if anyone has read it and cares… It is now green, not red). I have also changed the little ‘dedication’ bit right at the beginning of the book… In my work-in-progress Book 2, the ‘dedication’ page is not a dedication at all, but rather a poem, and I have re-done Book 1’s to be of the same nature, and telling the same ‘story’, I guess. Because it might be a century before the new version is out, I shall share the new poem/dedication for Times of Old with you now:

‘A fire flares within a heart

as stone shields around;

in stormy skies it falls apart

into a sea where dreams so drown.

Can it see in the dark?

How does it stay so strong?

From where does its new life spark?

Do the depths help it belong?

The darkness beckons, olden one,

but you can see the dawn;

let these times go by – be done! –

for you will be reborn.’

THREE) The last thing to mention is a little something I have planned, which should be a treat for those who like the story. I had previously done this little sketch of the four ilyorz (or, in English, the four elements: fire, earth, air, water):

fourilyorz

But, long have I wanted to do more sketches of the Ilimoskus world and the characters in the story. And so, whenever I find the time, I have been trying to work on my drawing skills to do all my elemental friends justice (as within my artistic capabilities). My plan is to draw the most significant characters in the trilogy (which is a ridiculous number, I’ll have you know) and share them with the world on a new page on my website, in a gallery of some sort, with a sentence or two describing them. I thought it would be a nice thing to do! It will obviously take some time to draw them all, so I’ll upload the images as and when and subsequently announce it on my Facebook page and/or Twitter. Or maybe on here, actually. Who knows. But, given I haven’t even started creating the new page on my website yet, it’ll take a while until it’s sorted. I’ll keep you updated.

But, I also thought – assuming I find my sketches of the Ilimoskus at least tolerable – that I might create another page for them specifically, going into more depth about the four ilyorz (elements) and their clothing style. Because why not, I think you’ll find. It’s interesting, honestly 😉 You can see it slightly in the sketch above, but that isn’t really showing it very well. And, not only do they have different clothing styles depending on their ilyor, but they also have different clothing styles depending on their leoges (another strange word, yes: see here for clarification). There is great depth to the Ilimoskus world indeed!

And hey, maybe if I get really carried anyway, I’ll draw all the Ilimoskus creatures, too 😉 (which I’ve actually already done, just not very well since they are all in my rough notebooks).

So, yes! New things, new times, new hope. It is my aim this year to be kinder to the Ilimoskus story, and to be kinder to myself regarding it. I am telling you, I have been vicious to myself – and kind of vicious to my elementals as well (sorry, my friends) – over the past four years or whatever. Ilimoskus is a labour of love, not some hideous punishment I must endure, and so I have come to realise that this kind attitude is the one I must keep, despite external pressures or what have you. And, in being kinder, my love for it will ever soar, and I will travel to great heights with it, I am sure.

But I shall leave you now with two sketches I have already done of some characters within the Ilimoskus story. The main human characters!

Ana_Liz

This is Anastasia (right) and Elizabeth (left) Gott. They are sisters – Anastasia being the eldest. Here they are modelling the newly designed Anglarne Hill school uniform. Elizabeth (or ‘Lizzie’) is the main, main human protagonist within the story.

Dem_Leon

This is Demetri (left) and Leon (right) Carter. They are non-identical twins! They too are modelling the newly designed Anglarne Hill school uniform (don’t you just love the trousers?). These two are lovely characters, if I may say so 😉 – especially Demetri (or ‘Dem’, as he is often called)!

***

Fun, pointless fact for you all: Within this post, I have said that ilyorz means ‘elements’ in English. This is not actually true. That is just the easiest translation. The Ilimoskus word for the four elements of nature is rather ilimoss.


Thank you for reading, everyone. I know my posts can often be quite lengthy, and so I deeply appreciate anyone who takes the time out of their day to read my words.

Be well and true,

and rise above the beckoning darkness

to be reborn with your diamond heart

so to dwell amongst the stars

for evermore.

~~