Unkilted: New work underway

I have long been in thrall to bonnie Scotland: her language, music, history, people, mythos, traditions. And I found recently that I’m descended from Clan MacGregor, a family that had its shares of ups and downs. (I refer you to a recent article I published on another blog site, Celtic Fire, called “Children of the Mist”: https://bit.ly/2OS4kzH).

So, what could be more natural than a novel about a MacGregor?

Here’s a tentative blurb and a fanciful cover, which I shall *not use:

unkilted border

One man is stripped of his name, his tartan, and his weapon. Another is torn from his very homeland, forced to live in danger and deceit. What happens when an unkilted Scot meets a runaway Colonial Quaker?

Can Grier and Will, born enemies, live together? Fight together? Can they combine the best of themselves and set aside the grief of their past? The future of bonnie Scotland and a fledgling America may hang in the balance.

I’ll be writing the novel (or maybe pair of novellas) in this year’s annual Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). Right now, I’m trying to research a very complex subject so that I can distill it into a readable story.

In the front matter of the work, I intend to publish a short glossary. That will no doubt turn off potential readers. But how can I do justice to my character if he sounds like a bloody Englishman? 😀

Aye…Yes. (As an adverb, pronounced differently , it means “always.”)

Baws…Balls, bollocks

Bod…Penis, Cock

Burn…(Also modern) A small brook or stream

Braw…Brave. Also, fine, elegant, beautiful, excellent

Cathairean…Highland cateran or warrior (also rustler or outlaw!)

Dirk…Short dagger worn by Highland warriors. More than a personal sidearm, it was the symbol of a man’s honor.

Dubh…Black

Linn…Waterfall

Nae…No. Fixed to the end of a verb, the meaning changes to the negative, as in dinnae, “do not.”

Piob mhor…Great highland bagpipe

Reekie…Smoky, misty, transitory. Note that the MacGregor clan came to be called “Children of the Mist.”’ The nickname for Edinburgh for centuries was “Auld Reekie”; and the waterfall central to this story was (and is) Linn Reekie, Misty Falls.

Radge…Crazy

Sgian-dubh …Small concealed knife (in modern times, it’s tucked into the top of a highland stocking)

Tod…Fox

Walloper…Fucker (literally, a galloper)

Ye…You

Thus a radge walloper is a crazy fucker…and there are plenty of those in my story!

Stay tuned to this blog, where I’ll jot my ideas and scribbles about the new work and probably pre-publish a few chapters.

*I do not have permission to use these handsome men on a cover; and the tartan shown is not that of a MacGregor, but a Balfour.

dirk for blog

This is an actual MacGregor tartan, and a stylized dirk used as a kilt pin in the modern age.

 

dirkbil

The dirk…a Highlander’s personal sidearm…was a symbol of his honor. To have it broken or destroyed was a way of breaking his heart and his soul—and his manhood.

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The Devil’s Damned Elbow

Note to self: don’t try to screw the Devil…

The Man in Romance

I’ve just published a new work, SLEEPING WITH DANGER, in which the native Nevadan Alex Dominguez finally goes back to the mountains…the famed Highlands of his new home.

danger a in mts

The novel is fraught with danger. Both Alex and Rory almost lose their lives a few times. But no adventure in the series up to this point is as life-threatening as their headlong plummet down the double-hairpin called Devil’s Elbow, now bypassed, but a scourge to travelers in the Cairngorms for more than 200 years.

What follows is told from the point of view of Rory Drummond, the bigger-than-life Scot who would challenge the horns, the tail and the very prick of the Devil hiself for the sake of his lover.

His head hit something hard…or was it the other way around? A gawdawful roar filled his ears. He opened his eyes and saw nothing at all.

Foog!

Something like mud…

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A Skirl o’Pipes

The moaning of  the bagpipes… my Scottish muse Suzana Wylie (Susan Wylie Wilson) recognizes the overlay of bitter tears on the history of Scotland and on the very lives of her people.

This flash poem was inspired by my own impoverished prose, seen on this site (on the page titled “SWD 8”).

pipes flourish

The skirl of the bagpipes
The haunting of the moor
Call forth from lowering sky
Bean Nighe, tilting up her washing tub
To pour her grief upon the world.
There is no world but Highland.
All else can matter not
The pipes alone can call this mourning
Of a clan, of a family, of a people.
Grief is the fruit of Scotland,
Gleaned from the corners of the song
The notes that sit but are not sung
Driven downward toward the earth
By the beat of kestrel wings
To meet the purple thistle-heads
Thrust up from blood drenched soil.

 

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My Scotland muse

A unique soul I have the privilege to know…author Suzana Wylie…has the light of poetry splashed into her heart, spilling over into her soul. One day I put the following image on my FB page; and less than half an hour later, that picture had a poem attached.

arbroath rocks copy

Deil’s Head— a place of beauty and peril both, it’s a famous sight on the cliffs of Arbroath and plays a role in O’Quinn’s novel The Kilt Complex..

The poem? It will find a place in my work in progress, as well as in my treasure box. The sea stack known as Deil’s Head (Devil’s Head) already figures in the Nevada Highlander series of novels.

When I am young and in my prime,
To Scotland I will go.
To hold a length of tartan there
And watch the heather grow.
To inhale peat and sour mash
And never let them go.
To stand close by the Devil’s Head
And hear the waves sing low.
To hear and answer piper’s call
And dance where angels go.
To prick my flesh on thistle thorn
And let my life’s blood flow.
Yes, when I am young and in my prime,
To Scotland I will go.

 

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Feathers, scales, and cocky boys

Image-induced fic… These three short pieces were inspired by one piece of art in my Facebook group MM Rainbow Rebels:

scales

The first is by auhor I.J. Downey, from her holiday novella Deadly Little Christmas…part of the Deadly Little Toy series. While the image did not inspire the novella, it spurred a cocky little memory:

“Master Armand, so good to see you again.” The footman bowed. He opened the sleigh door, and held out a hand to help them step down.

“You too, John. How have you been?” Armand clapped a hand on his shoulder as he stepped aside to let Philip ascend.

“Very well, We are all excited that you are back home for a visit!” He preceded them down the steps to the huge entry way, and threw open the door to the great hall. An older gentleman in a black butler’s uniform waited for them in the hall. Armand smiled, and gripped the man’s shoulders.

peacock men 2

Image from Etsy, https://etsy.me/2u4ml5B


“Sebastian! It wouldn’t be home without you! How’s Cook? Is she still as bossy as ever?” He turned and pulled Philip into the warmth of the hall. “I’ve brought her someone who could use some of her cooking. This is M. Philip Von Ritter, heir of Baron Von Ritter, he’s a bit under the weather, and would be glad of some tea and biscuits.”

“Of course, sir.” He then bowed to Philip. “We were informed of your condition, and have the Peacock Room next to Master Armand’s, ready for you. Tea will be served in the parlor while the baggage is carried up to your rooms.”

Philip raised an eyebrow at Armand, and mouthed, ‘The Peacock Room?’

Armand leaned down, and with a twinkle in his eyes, whispered. “Of course, you are my little peacock after all.”

flourish green

This second piece by Erin O’Quinn presupposes a time when the mighty saurus gave way to tweetie bird in the evolution of the world’s endangered species…

Mesozoic

The one named Crrk stuttered a call to his mother, somewhere ahead in the sucking mud, all traces of her covered now with the ooze sinking back into her frantic tracks. He could still smell her comfort through the nose slits. Even filmed over with the second membrane, his only protection against the clouds of tiny biters, his eyes cried for her.

No use.

He felt his limbs cracking, spreading from his useless body, reaching high…while millions of soft scales aligned and realigned and lifted him above the tarpit and into an impossible blue forever.

lyrebirfd

Australia’s Lyrebird reveals his ancient ancestry. Credit: Joel Sartore / National Geographic Photo Ark

 

And what can I say about the story weaver, who always sees much in little?

Arach
By Susan Wylie Wilson (author Suzana Wylie)

peacock cape

“Infinitesimal. How do they do it?” He turned this way and that, seeking confirmation in the mirrors that he was still the handsomest of them all.“This embroidery is impressive, the way each tiny thread lies down next to its neighbors and yet remains separate. These women must be amply rewarded, Morton. See to it, will you? Oh, I do mean amply rewarded. A year’s income or….”

 

His brows knotted together while his gaze turned to iron as he caught the look on his manservant’s face. “What is that look on your face for, man? I’ve seen it before, when you were struggling to avoid calling my brother the absolute fool he was. Am I being a fool, eh, Morton?”

“Oh, Your Highness, I would never say such a thing to you. You are anything but a fool. Indeed, I have often said to Jacob down in the stables when preparing to go riding with you, ‘Don’t think that because His Highness is a prince that he’s dense or doesn’t grasp things well.’” 

A small chunk of amusement settled in the dimples near the corners of his mouth. “Come, come, Morton. There is something. Just say it, man! I shan’t bite your head off.”

“‘Tisn’t your teeth which concern me. Your Highness is known for the sharpness of your sword, you know.”

“Hmmmm. I do spend quite a lot of time honing and oiling it. A shame I shan’t be allowed to use it in battle. I hear I am quite good. But then they have to say that to me, don’t they, Morton? ‘Tisn’t permitted to correct one’s liege.”

Despite his smile, Morton knew better than to take this too far. He could be somewhat familiar with the prince, thanks to long acquaintance, but only somewhat. “Not truly a correction, Your Highness, for I made the same … mis-speaking when first I saw this self-same cloak and knew it would suit you. It is not embroidery.”

“Don’t be foolish, Morton! I can see the threads! If it isn’t embroidered, what could it be?”

“They are scales, young sire.”

“Scales? Don’t be daft, man! Who ever heard of scales looking like this?” He shook the cloak in Morton’s face.

“Scales as a fish would have, or a snake.”

“This is no fish or snake, nor even many skins sewn together. Nothing could be this large.” He turned again, surveying his backside in the mirror.

“Nothing save an arach,” Morton whispered, dropping into the Old Tongue.

“An arach? You can’t be serious! Dragons are myths, Morton. You taught me that when I was only a lad.”

“So we thought then, young sire.”

“And what is so different about now?”

flightrising wikia dot com
“Our border patrols have seen them. You’ve heard the reports.”

“Heard? Aye, but believed? Nay. Tales to keep disobedient children in bed.”

“Am I a child, then?”

The prince stumbled and only Morton’s quick reflexes saved him from being trampled by the restive horses stamping along behind them. “You? You have seen an arach?”

“Aye, Your Highness, aye.”

 

 

[Dragon image from flightrisingwikia.com]

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Silvering

Silvering…a splendid metaphior for a piece of superb writing.

Exploring the epiphany

The man comes every day,
lighting a red, quaint lamp inside his ribcage; everyday he comes.
To the establishment of blind humans, by humans I mean physically astounding animals…
But blinded.
A leaning spine and some hairs scattered like patches of white old snows,
he swirls himself on a walking stick, like those vines you see on charcoaled walls.
He comes to work. No philosophy, no art…no feathers of sparrows on glass eyes…
No bourgeois shallow sentiment.
Just good old creativity of iron hammers and stone hands.
But everyday you can see all the grace and effortlessness in his immersion.
The way he carries himself under these mundane filaments…
on a road towards his home…his cave.
Leaving behind a pile of beating hearts who don’t know what it means to make the most of the times.

There’s a process called silvering. Basically it helps to see the reflections in a…

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Curves and flesh

Today’s “Tantalizing Tuesday” theme in my Facebook group brought forth two noteworhthy poems, among other notable fiction.

This first one is a flash poem by Suzana Wylie (Susan Wylie Wilson), based on this image of a Fibonacci curl of a staircase:

spiral

Spiral

Counting up and counting down the staircase goes both ways
A conveyor belt it seems for to and fro are seamless
No barriers there to force us on to where the others wait
Just on and on as Dylan said, no rest for wearied feet,
No direction home, no way to go, no relief-spawned sigh
No slate gray roof to wave us in atop the trees.
Curling in—or out, perhaps—becoming tight and tighter
Wrapping in gray concrete and strips of birch
No place to stand and stop us here.
No place to twirl the wrapping warping off
No place to call him home.

flourish green

 

The second is a fragment of a longer poem by Lou Sylvestre.  The poem, from “Winter Down, Spring Dreams,”  appears in an antho called Love Notes (Vagabondage Press 2012; image is from Morguefile, by Dodgerton Skillhause).

BASKET OF PEACHES DodgertonSkillhause

 

Sometime
In August blaze,
Having the freedom to love,
We’ll hike the cool woods. On our backs we’ll carry ripe pink peaches
And a soft-worn hand-stitched quilt. We’ll know our place,
Where pines
Stand tall guard, and maples
Coax from sunlight gilded rays,
Bowls of yellow heat. Liquid light
Will dapple
Our wild skins like spotted flanks of plains horses.
We’ll eat peaches, hungry.
Like horses,
Lick salt skin.
Like birds, make of love a song.
And sleep replete with peach flesh.

 

Thanks very much, Su and Lou. ‘Tis not at all ironic that your names rhyme. 😀

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