Category Archives: Entertainment/Travel/Activities

A Love Of Gaming

When we were deciding the worldbuilding and game mechanics of Guardians Of The Round table, we had a look at what it was about our favourite games that continued to draw us back. We looked at tabletop games, computer and console games, board games and even card games. There were some games that stood out, ones we’ve played for years. Particularly Dungeons and Dragons and all The Elder Scrolls games.

We love open world games, ones where you can explore and discover new things. We like completing quests and being able to go into areas that we’re probably too low a level for, knowing there’s a good chance we’re going to get wrecked. We also discovered that failing is part of the way we learn. Time after time, we’ll pit ourselves against an impossible boss, trying something different each time until we eventually triumph.

We also love intricate worlds. We enjoy discovering the lore and exploring new locations. We also enjoy finding interesting items and collecting things that probably have no current use, but we might need in the future. And setting up a base to store all those things we might eventually need because we’ve ended up collecting more than we can carry.

We took some of those general ideas into account when we began to do worldbuilding for Guardians Of The Round Table. Particularly the idea of writing books that the characters can find. We have so many books planned for the characters to discover. Some will lead them onto other things, some will teach them about the world and others are just for fun.

We are currently working on another book that the characters will discover in Guardians Of The Round Table 5: Crystal Mine, due out in May. But until then, if you haven’t already read it, Legend Of The Ancestral King is free on Smashwords.

Island Grove

I love being able to look at an image and see a story in it. This one brings to mind images of sacred groves and nature magic. But what if someone from a long line of powerful nature magic users has a different sort of magic? One considered evil and that all those who wield it should be eradicated. How would they keep it hidden? Tell everyone they have no magic? Never use it? What if they or a loved one are in danger and the only means of surviving is to use the magic? Either way, it could lead to their death. Would they be willing to sacrifice themselves if they could escape without using it, but doing so would lead to the death of a loved one? And if they used their magic to saved the one they’re close to, what would they do? Leave them to be sentenced to death? Rescue them? See them as evil since they have a magic all fear?

No wonder I have so many ideas that I’ll never be able to write all of them A glimpse of a single image creates yet one more idea. And I see so many different images every day. My world is full of stories. Everywhere I look.

Penelope

I had a porcelain doll when I was a child and at the time I was reading a lot of Greek myths and chose the name Penelope for her. I always wondered who had it worse. Penelope stuck at home waiting for Odysseus to return and missing out on all those adventures, or Odysseus struggling to return home as he faced all kinds of challenges. I spent many hours pondering this question, as well as many others, about not only that story, but all the other Greek myths I read, particularly stories about their many gods and goddesses.

Penelope, the doll, came with a fancy outfit that could be removed, but the problem was, I had nothing else to put on her. Luckily my grandma could sew and we spent a lot of time designing and making clothes for Penelope. That was my favourite part about her. Not the fact that she ended up having lots of clothes, but the designing and creating of those clothes.

Grandma had tins of buttons, containers of ribbons and leftover pieces of fabric. I spent hours searching through all the items, matching ribbons and buttons with fabric, deciding what type of garment they’d suit and talking over how I wanted them to look. We spent months creating a wardrobe for Penelope and I spent more time creating clothes for her than I ever spent playing with her. But that was what I loved about her. Creating her clothes.

I still enjoy making clothes today. These days I make them for myself and family, either everyday clothes or costumes, sharing the fun with my children. But I still regularly remember all the days I spent with Grandma, creating clothes for Penelope and the many hours of fun we had making them together.

Costumes

With Supanova fast approaching, we’ve been busy making some new costumes. There are so many things I enjoy about creating costumes. Choosing a style or character to base it on, designing the outfit, choosing material and fittings and of course seeing it all come together.

We’ve been researching medieval style garments, drawing up patterns and testing them and spending many hours in fabric shops being distracted by all the things we don’t really need, but might find useful for future projects.

We’ve finished a handful of items and have patterns created for others, but there are still many more to create. I’m looking forward to not only continuing to make the costumes, but wearing them at Supanova in November. On some of the days we’ll wear costumes from previous years, possibly with a few new items added to them, but there will also be a day or two that we’ll wear new costumes. As usual, there will be a group of us, dressed in our different outfits, with various displays as backdrops. And that is another thing I can’t wait to see. How the latest display turns out. Not long now and I’ll be able to see how it all comes together.

So if you’re in Brisbane this November, why not come along to Supanova. There’s no need to wear a costume, but if you do, I’d love to see what it is.

Other Realities

When writing, even though I can focus on my surroundings, I often become totally immersed in the story as well. Which means I can be walking on my treadmill and conscious of my surroundings while clearly able to see the characters and their surroundings. Like a movie overlaid on reality. Or being in two realities at once. Which sometimes leads to a bit of confusion when people ask me what day or month it is. There’s always the chance I’ll give the day or month of the story if I’m writing a contemporary novel. Part of that is probably due to the fact I don’t keep track of days in real life as well as I keep track of them in my stories. I do realise the mistake and correct myself immediately, but it can lead to some entertaining moments.

The ability to write while doing other things, including using a voice to text program has meant that I have far more first drafts written than I have published. It takes a lot more time to edit, as well as the cost of having them edited, than it does for me to write a first draft. There are also the stories I’ve written for fun, in between my other projects since somehow when I take a break from writing, I end up writing something else. But to me, it does feel like taking a break as I’m visiting and discovering other locations.

I love the fact I can immerse myself in other worlds, not only while writing, but also while reading the works of other authors. There are so many places and worlds I’ve visited through the words on the page or screen. I really enjoy having the ability to bring words to life in my mind as images that are as clear as the world around me. It means that every day can include a journey to another place, time or reality and be filled with new discoveries.

Satchel

While working on Guardians Of The Round Table 2: Goblin Boots, we realised that a character was adding a lot of items to a satchel and we had no idea if they’d all fit. So of course we needed to make one to find out for certain. And just in case you’d like to make one too, here are the details on how we made it.

Satchel Pattern

1cm seam allowance is included in the pattern. Sturdy material such as drill or light denim can be used.

Satchel strap: 11.5cm x 50cm (cut one on the fold, with the 11.5cm edge on the fold)

Satchel body: 30cm x 40cm (cut one on the fold, with the 30cm edge on the fold)

Satchel sides: 7cm x 29cm (cut two)

Satchel Instructions

Fold material in half and pin pattern pieces into place. Cut out. Make sure you don’t cut along the fold (shown at the top of the following image).

With the back of the material face up, fold over the edges of satchel strap and iron into place.

Fold the satchel strap in half, iron in place and pin. Sew around the edges.

Pin the satchel sides to the body of the satchel, making sure the outside of the material pieces are facing each other.

Pin the bottom of the satchel side to the body of the satchel, turning the material so the bottom edge lines up with the satchel material.

Turn the material so the second side can be pinned to the body of the satchel. It is important that the sides of the satchel both reach the same point on the body of the satchel. (When pinning the corners, the material of the body of the satchel will be rounded. This will be sorted during the sewing stage.)

Sew the sides to the body of the satchel, stopping 1cm from the top at the back of the satchel. Mark the location with a pin so you know how far to sew.

When you are 1cm from each corner, keep the needle in place, lift the foot and turn the material so you can sew along the next edge. Keep the material of the satchel body spread out at the corners so it doesn’t become bunched up or sewn to the wrong section.

Zigzag along the edges of the sides to prevent fraying. Don’t go past the 1cm point marked on the back of the satchel sides.

Hem the sides and front of the satchel. Fold at half a centimetre, then fold again. Iron and pin in place. Sew along the hem.

Hem the flap of the satchel, doing the sides first and the front edge last.

Pin each end of the strap to the top of the sides of the satchel with a 4cm overlap.

Fastenings such as buttons can be used to finish off the satchel, but they aren’t necessary.

An Overdose Of Cuteness

I was surprised to discover it was possible to visit the local RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and play with the cats and kittens. Or at least play with the sociable ones. So if you’re unable to have pets where you live and would love to spend time with some cute and adorable animals, why not contact your local animal shelter and see if they allow visits. It’s also likely that they’re in need of other help as well and would appreciate volunteers who are interested in helping take care of the animals who find themselves in need of a home.

The day we visited the local RSPCA there were several kittens, all wanting to play. There were also older cats, some that wanted time alone, while others were excited to have visitors and demanded to be patted. The kittens pounced on the toys that were provided for them to play with, raced around with each other and purred loudly when they stopped long enough for some attention.

They were all so adorable and playful, several trying to escape their rooms to try and follow visitors home. It was extremely difficult to resist them when they looked pleadingly up at you as you headed out of the room, their eyes begging to be taken home with you. And it wasn’t only the kittens who were adorable. There were cuddly older cats, regal ones and ones that stretched out in front of you expecting to be patted.

So if you’re looking for an overdose of cuteness, why not see if your local animal shelter allows visitors. I know the cats and kittens at our local one enjoyed all the attention they received the day we visited.

One Man’s Treasure

I have a tendency to keep things. Odds and ends that appear to have no use. I have cupboards neatly stacked with broken items, material, left over pieces from projects and things I currently have no use for. I have been accused more than once of being a pack rat or a hoarder. Yet when I start a new craft project or someone is in the middle of a project and can’t find the exact piece they need, those cupboards of items become treasure troves waiting to be plundered.

Buttons for a vest, a piece of lace for a trim, bits and pieces for a decorative finish, items to personalise an otherwise bland purchase. It is amazing how many things can be reused, recycled or turned into something new. Some of my steampunk costumes have benefited from raiding my cupboards of treasures. Ribbons, lace, buttons, metal loops, fine chain, left over material, scraps of leather. You never know what you might find and what it might one day become.

Hidden in the Mist

I can never look at a picture without seeing more than what is there. It doesn’t matter what that picture is or how tranquil and peaceful the scene appears. I’m imagining things behind the cascade of a waterfall. Hidden caves, hollows where creatures lurk, traps for the unwary. Off in the distance creatures hide in the mist, waiting for it to spread and cover more of the land. The bushes with their burst of colours are camouflage for creatures with sharp claws and long fangs. Beneath the still water are monsters that will drag in those who venture too close.

A tranquil place for a picnic? Maybe for some. But my imagination has it filled with horrors waiting to strike. Waiting for the innocent to enter the area, traps ready to be sprung. Only time will tell which will get them first.

Is it any wonder I have an endless supply of story ideas to write? Stories are everywhere I look. Waiting to be told.

Supanova, Brisbane 2017

Once again we attended Supanova, Brisbane. It was far more crowded than previous events, but equally enjoyable. As always I felt at home, loving all the costumes and having fun figuring out who each person was portraying. It was great to see people dressed as some of my favourite characters.

 

Our display this year outdid the previous ones and Clint did an amazing job recreating a scene from Assassins Of The Dead 2: Dragon Touched. There was also a beautiful timber counter with a display in the front for some of my books. One of the biggest hits of our display was the 4.2 metre long articulated snake that is made mostly from PVC pipe and must have featured in hundreds of photos. I can’t wait to see what Clint will create for next year.

  

We took so many photos it was difficult to choose which ones to post. If you would like to see more, you can check what I put on Facebook. Or better yet, why not attend Supanova, Brisbane next year and experience everything for yourself. And if you do, come and say hello. Like previous years I loved catching up with old friends and meeting new people and I’m looking forward to doing so again next year.