Sparkle

A: So, I’m a huge fan of Papi Z’s prompts. For some reason, he picks words out of the sky and my fevered brain just cooks up something – or wants to cook up something. There wasn’t a prompt last week, but I did have a half-finished story, prompted waaay back on Feb 3. I never got around to finishing it, until this weekend . . .

D: And by this weekend, she means five minutes ago.

A: Yeah, well, I thought it was finished.

D: Uh huh.

A: Snitch.

D: Procrastinator.

A: . . . Okay, you win. So, without further ado, a vampire tale for the last day of March . . .

* * *

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“So I says to her, I says, ‘hey, dame, the non-sparkling Vampires walked into the room—‘“

“And what did she say, Jimmy?”

“I’m getting to that, you goon. I says, ‘the non-sparking Vampires walked into the room—‘“

“Why weren’t they sparkling? Everyone knows Vampires sparkle.”

The bar was still. Even Harry, pulling what was usually a beautiful pint of Guinness (damn near had to go to school just to get the right to do that in McCreary’s Pub), let the stout dribble over his fingers.

No one – but no one – was allowed into McCreary’s if they thought Vampires were supposed to sparkle. Hell, Sparkle-lovers were supposed to be shot on sight for ‘aiding and abetting’ the enemy.

Vlad did not sparkle.

Vlad did not sparkle.

It had started way back in ‘58, when everyone discovered the things that went bump in the night were real. Vampires existed – Werewolves too, though they weren’t shifters like Grandpappy’s stories said. No, they were just big, mean sumabitches the Vamps trained to take down the unwary.

For twenty years, we fought the bastards – and for twenty years we kept them at bay. Until some poor shmuck found old film footage from before – before the night fell on us, dripping blood. Now, the blood-suckers are winning – if only because they managed to get us to fight each other.

Whoever thought of imitating that footage – painting themselves in that teeny-bopper glitter and shining a light – was one smart son-of-a-bastard. Sparkle-lovers insisted Vamps were our friends, like they had gone vegetarian or something. Right, because fake-bacon is so fabulous when you have a ton of thick, mouthwatering strips of Ms. Piggy flinging themselves at you.

Harry was staring at me through the taps. His ruined Guinness sat on the edge of the bar – a sad victim of the runt’s ill-chosen words. It just didn’t make sense. Sparkle-lover was a newbie, a runt fresh out of Strix. He’d had so much promise.

With a shrug, I nodded to the man in charge. Harry took Sparkle-lover by the scruff and hauled him to the back with me close behind. Nobody in McCreary’s was a sparkle-lover, but it was just best to do these kinds of things behind closed doors – ya know what I mean?

“H-hey guys. Wh-What’s up?”

“What’s up?” Harry shoved the kid against a row of metal filing cabinets. “Just what do you think is up? We don’t take kindly to sparkle-talk, boy.”

“Wait-wait, I can explain—“

“Explain what? You rolled outta Strix and came in here talking about damned sparkling vamps. All I gotta think is that you’re either sick in the head or lookin’ to get staked.”

Harry was shaking the runt hard but the kid pulled free from the big man’s grip and shoved his sweaty face at me.

“No, look – Jimmy, you gotta believe me. I said that so you’d get me outta there. Yeah, I rolled out of Strix, just like every other hunter, and I was good, too. But the Vamps got to me as I came out – it’s my sister, Jimmy. They got my sister.”

“What do you mean? You said that so–they gotta mick on you?”

“Yeah, but I killed the bug – changed it, like – before you started tellin’ your jokes.” He flashed us the mangled bit of pin on his lapel. It winked at us in the dim light. I reached for it.

“No – no Jimmy, you can’t do that. I’ve got it rigged, see. They’re hearing pub chatter but if you touch it, they’ll know I set ‘em up.”

I looked between the runt and Harry. Could we even trust this guy?

“What’s the deal – what do they want you to?”

“It’s your warehouse. They wanted me on the inside to gain access to it.”

“They know about the warehouse?” The dread was burnin’ holes in my gut.

“Don’t listen to him, Jimmy. He don’t know squat. Get him out of here.”

I grabbed the runt by the scruff but he struggled. “Jimmy – no! They’ll kill her! You gotta help me.”

“We gotta do nothin’, runt.”

1vampHarry was growling but I could tell by his eyes that he was planning something. That ruined pint still rankled, but word was, the runt’s sister was just a little bit of a thing.

“Take him outside, Jimmy – rough him up, but not too much. Let those damn vamps know we’re not going to be had that easy. We don’t just let any trash walk in here.”

I did as I was told, but I gave the runt a hand sign. Anyone who’s been through Strix knows it. We’d help him get his sister.

* * *

Donny Corrigan let Jimmy Malone smash his fist into his face a couple of times and then walked away from McCreary’s with a smile.

“It’s done,” he whispered into the lapel of his jacket as he walked around the corner. “We’ll get into the warehouse – no, leave the humans to me. You take the vamps.”

Moments to Remember: The Druid himself – An origin narrative

no eyes2

The first appearance of the Druid – I think The Boy did a great job as a stand-in!

A: It’s the final piece of the D/A Dialogues origin stories, written in response to the Weekly Challenge: Reflections.

D: Because we all know that, for A, following the rules and only posting one thing in response to a challenge is boring.

A: Too right, Druid.

D: (Eye roll) Today, it’s my turn to speak about my origins – about the man I am in A’s books.

A: And don’t worry – he’s not blonde.

D: Thank the gods. Anyway, some of this is from the two defunct books that make up my back-story – the tale of my parents and that first-person narrative I mentioned yesterday.

A: Mentioned is a nice word – I would have said blabbed.

D: You say tomato, I say tomahto.

A: Indeed – and without further ado, the Big Tomahto himself, Dubh an Súile. . .

An old woman, a priestess of a goddess now banished from the minds of men, once laid her hands on my mother’s belly.  Long before my small movements could be felt, long before I even looked like the man-child I would become, the old woman felt my spirit, strong and true.  Bidden by this, she uttered words that, on the eve of great tragedy, gave my mother greater calm:  “They will know him as Dubh an Súile, and he will be a great leader of men.”

My origins – my life and its path – can be traced to that prophesy. Whether or not the old woman was correct, it followed me through to the end of my days. It haunted me as much as it bade men to follow me. It was, in turns, used as a curse against me and to rally me from despair of my own making.

The monks of the Christos and the priests of the Druid grove each had a hand in my education, but at seven years of age, it was to the grove I was sent. I was the second son, and while they knew I would not lead the clan upon my father’s death, it was hoped I would lead the grove.

It took me nine years to earn the right to sing at the hearths of my people, counsel kings and delve deep into the heart of men to see their path. I was a Druid true – not a magician but skilled in the Sight and a reader of the stars. I returned home only to have my homecoming interrupted by war. We – the mac Alasdair clan of Craig Ussie – went to aid our brethren against the Kingdom of Northumbria.

We were betrayed; my father and I were captured and held by our enemy for over a year. Our kin thought us dead, but fought on regardless. They said our deaths lead them into victorious battle. Our southern brothers were free once more, but I lost everything that mattered: my father, the woman who had given me her heart and the life we could have led together.

When we returned home, I knew I could not stay – and yet I could not lead the grove, either. I went to Éire – Ireland. I put aside my training as a mystic to earn my keep at whatever hearth could keep me. I roamed the country so long I thought I had escaped the life I once led – I sang tales of my own bravery in battle, and none knew that it was I.

The moment of my becoming – the moment when that old woman’s prophesy claimed my soul – happened as I stumbled upon an old hermit, living atop a sidhe mound. These mounds dotted the land – sacred and feared – and marked the places where once the Milesians led the Tuatha Dé Danann after they conquered the land. That he lived so close to the Fae was a temptation I could not resist.

It was a temptation that would prove the undoing of me – and be the key to my salvation.

D: I can’t actually say more, or A will interrupt me.

A: You know me too well, Druid.

D: Well, it could hardly be helped – you’ve been singing “spoilers” in the background for the last fifteen minutes. Singing off-key, might I add.

A: (Shrug) It’s what I do.

D: . . . I’m not going to suggest just what it is you do, but do you realize, A, that in all of this, we never actually gave the blog’s origin story?

A: I think we’ve been over that more than enough times.

D: Sure, but you know, the short version. . .

A: Okay, the short version is that I used to write notes between us in the marginalia of edits. Or in the back of my head. Or on napkins and notebooks. I’d giggle. I thought others would, too.

D: And . . .

A: Relentless much? And I was faced with the idea that if I wanted any agent/publisher/reader to look at me, I was going to have to learn to promote myself – otherwise known as putting myself out there. For an introvert of massive proportions, it was a big deal. Having a dialogue with you seemed like a great way to get started.

The Dialogues' very first logo - my poor, aching head.

The Dialogues’ very first logo – my poor, aching head.

D: Also, it lets people know, right from the start, that you are stark raving mad.

A: Well, it helps. It lowers the expectation threshold.

D: Indeed – and with that, I do believe we are going to bid the internet a fond evening.

A: We are at that, D. I have Spartans to watch with The Boy.

D: I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that – those Spartans—

A: D – D in no way is the movie we’re about to watch historically accurate. Just sit back and you know, think of England or something.

D: . . .

A: (Grin) Thanks for reading everyone – have a great weekend!

Part 1: A’s Writerly Origins | Part 1.5: Bookish Origins | Part 2: D’s Character Origins | Part 3: The Druid himself – an origin narrative

Moments to Remember: D's Character Origins

Part Two in the D/A Dialogues Origin Story – in response to the WordPress Weekly Challenge: Reflections.

Whenever I think of D's origins, I see these two images.

Whenever I think of D’s origins, I see these two images.

A: What is a character’s true origin story? Is it their personal history, or is it the story of how they came to reside in an author’s imagination?

D: Both.

A: Okay, which one would you prefer to tell?

D: I think, actually, it would be a better if we told the people how I came to live in your head, first. It started with that bookshelf you so lovingly carted across the sea.

A: Indeed it did. Take it away, D.

D: What A didn’t tell you was that she continued to write while she lived in Ireland. When she left university, and became a pub’s writer and web designer-in-residence, she dug out that dusty old manuscript and started editing it again. She even showed it to someone to read. He’s the one that introduced her to me. He’s A’s ex-husband, and he lives back across that sea. The Boy and I are all that remains of his time in our lives.

That was the first moment to define my life as a character – that introduction. A knew I belonged to the story.  I can’t tell you much about that time in his head. I was a different man. I was angry – more warrior than mystic. I was proud, yes, and skilled, but young.

A: You were also blonde.

D: I was?

A: Yeah. I read my original notes. Blonde warrior. Blue eyes. Tattoos. You were cold and cruel, too – with a massive chip on your shoulder. No wonder I didn’t like you.

D: Which brings me to the second moment that defined me as a character: being ‘gifted’ to a writer who may have appreciated me (for all her whinging, she did appreciate me, otherwise I would never have gotten anywhere near her precious manuscript), but did not understand me. To make matters worse, despite not particularly liking me, she stuck me in the book without really trying to find out how I fit. Yes, it was my story but there were certain things . . . missing.

Much of Changelings is not about the youth I had been – I had already been tempered by war and heartache by the time I step out onto the stage. As much as Changelings is an adventure story – a romp through time, as it were – it’s also about living with past mistakes, and creating a future worth living.

As A’s notes indicate, the me she met originally was not suited for that tale. She had to find out who I really was, and as life got in her way, she did not have much incentive to do so.

When she discovered the religious and political strife of seventh century England and Scotland – when she re-discovered many of the myths that were echoed in her work – she started to find me. Not only that, she wanted to find me. It was quiet, that desire, but it was there.

The final moment of my origin came relatively recently. I had existed rather quietly, I think, in A’s head for all those years. She never talks about the first-person narrative book she wrote – my book. It may not have gone past 100 pages, but she did write it. I won’t say she failed – she just wasn’t ready yet.

Then I started bugging her friends to make her start writing again—

A: True story – had a friend call me up and tell me she was dreaming about D, and perhaps I should start writing again? That was 4 years ago. I’m stubborn.

D: So am I. My persistence was rewarded, and though she didn’t write anything of note until last year, bugging her friends resulted in a redraft of the book outline. She revisited what she had written in my book and brought those elements into the story. I finally had a place – a real place.

Of course, A is still learning – we’ve hit a roadblock on some of the timelines for the sequel, but we’re working on it. We can do that now – thanks in part, to this blog. It’s ever so helpful to be able to snark at her in public. Cathartic too. Plus, she has the support of other writers. Without you, she’d be a hermit. And I don’t think a hermit would be as willing to get my life out onto the page.

Could you imagine this guy as a blonde?  (D as imagined by Green Embers)

Could you imagine this guy as a blonde?
(D as imagined by Green Embers)

A: Well, gee, D. That was pretty complimentary. Kind, almost.

D: I know. I’m not such a bad Druid after all, am I?

A: I suppose not.

D: In fact, I think I’m pretty spectacular.

A: I was going to say, just don’t let it go to your head, but I can see it’s already too late for that.

D: Go to my head? Whatever do you mean, woman?

A: Exactly – watch it, or I’ll make you blonde again.

D: You wouldn’t dare!

A: And I think that wraps up the origin story of a character–

D: A, we are not done here – promise me you won’t make me blonde!

A: Stay tuned for tomorrow’s exploration of D’s origin as a man. Have a great day–

D: A! Are you listening to me?

A: And thanks for reading!

D: A!!!

Part 1: A’s Writerly Origins | Part 1.5: Bookish Origins | Part 2: D’s Character Origins | Part 3: The Druid himself – an origin narrative

Moments to Remember: A bookish addendum

life

The books – some of them, at least

A: Before D gets going on his origin story –

D: Of course you would interrupt my glory.

A: I’m not interrupting. This is an addendum to yesterday’s origin story post.

D: Oh, sure.

A: Oi, Druid – you get 2/3 of this 3-part origin story! Besides, I think the germ of you may be among the books I decided I could not live without.

D: Yeah, well, just don’t take too long. Can you do that, A? Can you strive for brevity?

A:  . . . (sigh).

Okay, so Melissa Janda asked yesterday which 30 books I absolutely had to bring to Ireland. Since I took a picture of those books (don’t ask. I love books. I just. . . don’t ask), I was able to recreate some of the list. Frankly, I think there were more than 30, but these are what I could (sort of) see in the picture and recall from what was stashed in my room.

In no particular order:

    1. “I’d just as soon kiss a Wookie” Quotable Star Wars
    2. The Jesus Incident
    3. The Lazarus Effect
    4. The Ascension Factor
    5. Absalom, Absalom
    6. The Russian Revolution
    7. The History of Ireland
    8. The History of Costume & Fashion
    9. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
    10. Gone with the Wind
    11. Mists of Avalon
    12. The Last of the Savages
    13. The Prince, Machiavelli
    14. The Gratitude of Kings
    15. Unnatural Exposure
    16. The Stranger
    17. Heart of Darkness
    18. King Lear
    19. Ireland, A Graphic History
    20. The Folklore of Ireland
    21. Medicine Man, Shaman (Something – too small to read)
    22. Anne of Green Gables
    23. Emily of New Moon
    24. Scarlett
    25. The Witching Hour
    26. Lasher
    27. Taltos
    28. The Feast of All Saints
    29. Cry to Heaven
    30. The Barbarian Conversion

Not all of these books were read, mind. I had been given The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity as a graduation gift, and it sat on that shelf, looking pretty, for a few years.

Eventually, it became my bible – and inspiration when I was writing about the lives of a clan of Picts and the convergence of religious and political strife. I never knew about the Celtic monastic resistance to Rome (Oh, that’s why St. Patrick was sent back to Ireland? To bring the de-centralized monasteries to heel – those same monasteries that had maintained Christianity and the shreds of civilization while various invasions swept across England and mainland Europe? Huh.)

D: Nice rant, A. I could have told you that.

A: I think you did – someone whispered it in my ear and said “This – this is the world I came from. Write me.”

D: Which we will delve deeper into when A lets me write my origin story.

A: Indeed – enjoy your day, folks, and thanks for reading!

Part 1: A’s Writerly Origins | Part 1.5: Bookish Origins | Part 2: D’s Character Origins | Part 3: The Druid himself – an origin narrative

Moments to Remember: An Origin Story in Three Parts

life

Photos from the top: Some of those precious 30 books I carted to Ireland, me on the phone in Ireland (some things never change) and that cute kid I call, The Boy (11 years ago)! And behind it all, a printed beta-reader copy of Changelings.

The Daily Post had a prompt up yesterday that tied in beautifully with their weekly writing challenge: Reflections. What follows are the moments that define me. These moments are a part of the origin story of how I became a writer – or rather, the writer I am today. The writerly me of tomorrow may have a different tale to tell entirely.

The pre-history of me includes being the youngest of six by 15 years – essentially an only child – growing up on quite a few acres on the shores of Lake Michigan. I was late to reading and writing, but I always had an active imagination.

D: Active?! Ha! You thought you were Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and your best friends were the characters from Star Wars.

A: Yes, yes and I wanted to be Indiana Jones when I grew up . . . Hush, D. You’ll get your turn.

Anyway, I moved to Ireland when I was 18. Technically, it was to attend the University College, Dublin, but as I think I have mentioned to my parents in the years since, I had a cover story should that university thing fall through. I had letterhead and everything. I was going. No matter what.

I was a writer and had something resembling a web presence then, too. I had queried a few agents and publishers on a draft that shares three characters with Changelings. Theoretically, it’s the same story, but all that’s left of the original is Maureen, Sean and Grace O’Malley.

I had a few nibbles but nothing big and as I prepared to move myself, my 30 I can’t-live-without-them-Dad-please-pack-them-in-a-box-and-fly-them-out-with-me books 4,000 miles east, I completely forgot about the letter from the then-Penguin Group publishing house, asking for the MS.

Because I’m an idiot.

Or not. That was before D entered the story. That was before the story took real myths and turned them on their head. That was before it was ready to actually be read.

Ireland was an adventure. It was eye-opening, exhilarating, terrifying and life-altering. At one point, I refused to leave and let my ticket home languish in a drawer. So much of the life I’m living now started in Dublin. I was almost married there, and my son was thisclose to being born there, too.

Which brings me to the second thing that has defined my life as a writer: Motherhood.

I went back to writing after my son was born. During naps and semi-early bedtimes, I wrote what is now D’s back-story. Five hundred pages-worth of back-story. It was once a book, but no longer. One day I may revisit it, but I don’t have the same urge to tell that story.

Besides, I’m not entirely sure there is a whole lot of interest in the convergence of the centralized Roman vs. monastic Celtic vs. pagan religious traditions in a small clan of Picts, overshadowed by looming war with the Kingdom of Northumbria.

Have I ever mentioned that I was a history major? I like to research. It’s fun.

In the middle of child-rearing, and after that mammoth book was done, I stopped. I put it aside. Yes, writing in a way still defined me, and I loved to read and research, but having that yearning without the discipline to put it to practice, without the discipline to do something to improve my writing meant it was always going to be a pipe dream.

Until I sat down and decided it wasn’t. It was the third moment to define writerly me. I’ve talked about my journey back to writing before. It’s why this blog exists. Essentially, it boiled down to this: the threads of the story that is Changelings began when I was 14. I’ve had Sean and Maureen rattling around in my head for 20 years. That’s all of my fingers and all of my toes. It was time to give them a book worthy of their loyalty. When D joined them, they found an advocate. An annoying, egotistical, bull-headed advocate.

D: Oi, woman! Surely, I get to combat that last?

A: Of course you do – tomorrow. (And don’t call me Shirley.)

D: Tomorrow?! (Oh for heaven’s sake, A. That joke is so old.)

A: (Tee hee!) Yes – that’s why it’s an origin story in three parts. Tomorrow you’re going to tell us the three moments that have defined your life as a man.

D: And what’s the third part?

A: You sound like you don’t trust me, D.

D: I don’t. What’s the third part, A?

A: I want you to look at yourself as the character in my head. I talk about you as a character, and you talk about you in the story, but you never really quite manage to talk about you as a character. I want to know how you coped all those years, being in a book that didn’t want you – having an author that didn’t quite like you.

D: You talk about it as though it were the past, A.

A: It is, D. I think we’ve come to an understanding –

D: HA! I knew it! You like me.

A: Well, yes –

D: No, don’t deny it, A. You like me!

A: Who’s denying?

D: You weren’t denying?

A: No. I was going to say I’ve actually had some fun blogging with you – some good insights, too. I can go back to describing you as annoying and bombastic, if it will make your diatribe worth something.

D: Um. I might have you do that, A. I’m not entirely sure what to do if I’m not contradicting you.

A: (Eye  roll). Me neither, D. Me neither.

D: So, is that it? You’re just going to set this up to lead into tomorrow’s post?

A: Uh, yeah. I mean, I have a few things: Charles Yallowtiz’ new Legends of Windemere book, Family of the Tri-Rune is doing great, Helena accepted a Liebster Award and nominated us (and I accept your challenging questions, darling!), and the Green Embers’ Recommends editor spotlight on the lovely mistress of Readful Things Blog, Ionia, is live.

D: That’s it?!

A: I know, I know – I haven’t had time to trawl the interwebs for interesting and amusing fodder for our dialogue, so this is it. Tomorrow, perhaps?

D: Tomorrow it is, then.

A: Thank you all for reading – have a fantastic day!

Part 1: A’s Writerly Origins | Part 1.5: Bookish Origins | Part 2: D’s Character Origins | Part 3: The Druid himself – an origin narrative

A Not-So-Shocking Adventure: He’s got it Pegged

adventureswithD-final (1)D: I think I have it figured out, A.

A: Have what figured out, D? Is it the question that beggars the answer, 42?

D: No.

A: Have you figured out why there is something rather than nothing?

D: No, A. I figured—

A: Have you figured out what happens next?

D: Yes! Yes I have, A and what happens next is Simon Pegg is going to be my voice actor.

A: . . . You’re still going on about a voice actor?

D: So long as you insist on talking to the internet about cats, celebrities and a cacophonous conglomerate of craziness, I’m going to insist on having my own voice.

A: Please note that there were no cats mentioned in the recording of the Green Embers Recommends podcast, except in the title. Go on, go listen. We’ll wait.

* * *

D: As I was saying—

A: And may I interrupt here and say, that was an amazing array of alliteration, D.

D: Now you’re just mocking me.

A: I thought it was the other way around.

Is this the voice of D?  Nah!

Is this the voice of D?
… nah!

D: . . . Can I get back to Simon Pegg being my voice actor, please?

A: Of course.

D: Thank you  . . . of course, I don’t have anything else to say about that. Set it up, A.

A: Please. Set it up, A, please.

D: Fine. Please. . . and thank you.

A: That’s better. Why do you want him to voice you, D? I mean, he’s funny, certainly, but I’m just not seeing it.

D: You don’t have to see it, you have to hear it. I’ve heard him do different accents, A. I’m fairly certain he could handle mine.

A: I know, I know – and as I’ve said before, I admire his work, but are you sure he could do you justice?

D: You just don’t want people to hear me.

A: Actually, I don’t want to pay an actor to voice you, but should I fail in that endeavor, I’d like it to be right.

D: So, the comic genius who you and The Boy rave about is out?

A: Are you funny?

D: I see your point. But put him on the maybe list – I think he has potential, A.

A: (Eye roll) I’ll do that, D. I’m sure Mr. Pegg is so relieved you think so.

D: As well he should be. Enjoy the podcast everyone – A and Green certainly seem to.

Living Musically – Saturday Sillies

D: In which A combines news and music.

A: I think all news should be delivered musically.

D: So, should dirges accompany bad news and magical themes accompany happy news?

A: Other way around, really – you know just to see if people are paying attention.

D: You make no sense.

A: It’s Saturday sillies, D. I’m not supposed to. Plus, I’m on my third cup of high-test coffee. There will be no sense-making today.

D: Good to know. You don’t actually have that theme song on your phone, do you?

A: No. And that’s probably a good thing. That was The Boy’s contribution to today’s show.

D: Although, it does get me thinking. . .

A: Don’t think, D. Let’s dance instead.

D: You know who loves Bowie, A?

A: Helena. Helena loves Bowie.

D: Too right, and you know what’s going on with Helena today?

A: An Ask.FM Q&A session.

D: Right again – Do you know why?

A: Okay, I said I was a little over-caffeinated, not in need of having lines fed to me! Helena’s successful Kickstarter is over in just three hours (go – preorder now if you haven’t! There are some excellent incentives) today, and to celebrate, she and Jim Squires will be answering questions all afternoon on Ask FM.

D: And how do you plan on celebrating?

A: Well, first by joining her, and second, by putting the lime in the coconut.

D: Are those gorillas?

A: Yes.

D: Gorillas singing and playing instruments, singing about putting the lime in the coconut?

A: Again, yes.

D: This isn’t silly Saturday. This is surreal Saturday.

A: What, you never let your hair down?

D: Very droll, A.

A: So you’re telling me you’ve never gone full monty?

D: A! What a question to ask – you’re going to make a grown warrior blush.

A: Not bloody likely. Answer the question, Druid.

D: Does going  bare in the basin count?

A: In this case, yes. Totally. Speaking of natives. . .

D: This is more of your belated St. Patrick’s Day tribute, isn’t it?

A: What? I love me some Christy, D.

D: Wasn’t there supposed to be news in here?

A: Ah, yes, so there was – thank you, D. In Middle-Earth News, Gandalf needs help. He has a lot on his mind and if he doesn’t find what he’s looking for, I fear–

D: Seriously, A?

A: What? It’s hysterical (And many thanks to Perry for posting that and making my Friday – I’m a lurker on her site, and it just made me smile).

D: . . .

A: Almost as hysterical as this Oakentoon.

D: Are you quite finished?

A: Maybe.

D: Finally, I was—

A: Oh, wait! There’s middle-earth madness going on now.

D: . . .

A: Because, you know, it’s basketball season – I think – and people are betting on stuff, but I don’t know anything about basketball, so voting on Middle-Earth matchups seems so much more entertaining.

D: You know, A . . . I think. . .

A: Yes?

D: Hang on, I’m getting there. I think that you should put this in your pipe and smoke it.

A: That is not the Eddie Izzard clip I listened to in the car.

D: No. No it is not.

A: This one is better.

D: Yes. Yes, it is.

A: And with that, I think our Saturday Sillies are over.

D: Really?

A: Well, in the blogosphere. . . for now.

D: And with that threat, we bid you all a fond adieu.

A: Thank you for reading, everyone and have a great weekend!

What’s in a name?

Somewhere in this chaos is D's real name.

Somewhere in this chaos is D’s real name.

D, I call him. Druid. Dubh.

A title, he says.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know I only recently discovered D’s real name – the name he was born with, and not the name I had been calling him all these years. In my defense, it’s not easy for a character as old as D (1345 and counting) to keep one name. Languages change. People change. Countries rise and fall and what was once a mark of pride becomes shame, and back again.

And in D’s case, he gave up his real name when he became less than the man he wanted to be. He took on a title, an identity that would keep him safe. It was, perhaps, the only way he could armor himself against what he had become. That title became a shackle, one he had to destroy if he wanted to claim his real name, and with it a destiny and lineage he could be proud of.

Names are powerful. I’ve heard this more than once, and while my rational brain accepted it, I never quite knew how true it was. Sure, having the right name – one that suits you – just is. My son had his name picked out well before he was born – back when I thought maybe he was a she. But the moment his name popped into my head, I knew I was having a boy, and I knew his name was Thomas. I may have any number of nicknames for him (The Boy or The Kid being the most notable here) but he is, and forever shall be, Thomas.

D as imagined by Green Embers

D as imagined by Green Embers

D isn’t quite so clear-cut. How could he be, when he is by his very nature a man who walks between worlds? Each situation requires a different identity, and with that identity, came a new form of his name. Each one suited the times and the language. Each one portrayed a facet of his personality.

Writing his book became something of a mystery to solve, even though I wasn’t aware I was trying to find his real name. When I did find it, I realized his name – his real name – had been the key to unlocking his true self and undoing the resentment I’d held onto during the years in which I did not write.

That’s a lot of responsibility for a character, even one as epic as D. I don’t blame him for hiding his real name from me – not anymore (just don’t tell him that; he’s got a big enough head as it is). He has earned his real name back, and as I wade through book 2, I am happy – no, scratch that – honored to be able to use it.

Cheers, D.

For the WordPress Weekly Challenge: The Power of Names

Last Call at Casa de Hann-Basquiat

Hey you – yeah, you with the glasses – have you pre-ordered your copy of Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. One? And you madam, with the fluffy little dog – have you? And excuse me, sir – could you put the doughnut down? That’s a good man. Have you pre-ordered your copy of Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. One? Have you got on board the best train in town (or in this case Mexican cantina with only the most excellent tequila and salsa around –darn it Helena, now I’m hungry, too)?

No? What are you waiting for? Check out the successful Kickstarter campaign for your last chance to get your hands on a personalized copy – or any of the other spectacular goodies you get for backing the campaign! As if that weren’t enough, there is fun to be had with Helena’s words. With characters like the Accidental Plagiarist and Cumberbund Bandersnach, could you possibly go wrong?

No. The answer is no.

Now go!

Big-Hearted Julia and the Viral Canadian Gay Pride Coin

This. This needs eyes. Julia is an inspiration, and Helena is lucky to have an honorary niece like her. Personally, I think Helena’s post is a candidate to be Freshly Pressed – not for Helena; she’s had that honor – but for Julia. So Julia knows that small actions and words have an impact. So, tweet, reblog and make the blog-a-verse bear witness to an awesome little girl!