My website internet service provider is down. No e-mails are getting through. I feel cut off!

Help!

Well, the iCloud did it again. It ate Harbinger. This time it wasn’t my fault! A corrupted file, evidently. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that something like this could happen … I AM reportedly living in one of the most corrupt countries in the Americas (Transparencia por Colombia’s corruption perception survey rated the country at 34 out of 100, whereas Canada comes in as the best in the Americas with 86, supposedly). I wonder if we can blame corrupt files in the iCloud on the USA (Designed in California). 

Well, it took me a few days … and the better part of the weekend … to rebuild the file. I’m still working from the Cloud because it’s easier to work across platforms, but I’m carefully backing up everything.

In other news, it appears I’ll get a week in Canada just before Easter. It’ll be good to catch up to folk. I’m looking forward to it although I wish that Josée was coming with me.

Well yesterday I managed to crack the nut. I managed a first working draft of a Fjordlander saga set to verse by Erig Soerig describing a bold sailing into the heart of hostile territory. That took the better part of a month, even not counting the two weeks of work to recuperate the lost text I deleted (ie. all of it). I have no delusions that it’s going to need help, but perhaps I convince Luke or Barry or Gavin to help!

I imagine every writer everywhere when she or he is just getting started must have to deal with the variations in work - life - work balance. Just being a diplomat kept me busy the last couple of days and I had no time to devote to my writing projects, either polishing Harbinger or advancing The Winter Wars, or, updating the blog. Heck, all day yesterday I didn’t even manage one tweet and that only takes 140 characters! I apologize for the lack of activity.

Today has already been better in terms of actual work. The nature of the work, however, is a bother. I am finding all sorts of typos in Harbinger and so I suspect that the re-construction has made me lose work. I suspect that comparing an earlier version I had saved and comparing it to the PDF I sent to Luke just before deleting the text has meant that I missed many little corrections I had already tracked down and changed. Oh well.

I persevere with the Lay of Redeeming! Man I want to finish this damned thing.

Well, in the absence of my good friend DUG getting back to me on the artwork, I have begun lining up meetings with local artists. First one is tomorrow!

I also managed to add a link! Yay! Still lots of work to do on that page, though. Be patient, please. Give me time!

Speaking of which, I think I have a blog entry bubbling on the amount of time managing a Twitter feed and a website actually takes away from writing! 

I thought people might be curious to know how I began writing. I mention in the acknowledgements at the end of Gallows Gem, I note how the actual project got off the ground, and pay particular attention to my friend Paul Martyna. One thing I don’t really elaborate on, though, is that in the bottom of my heart, I felt very homesick during my first year in Ottawa after leaving Lethbridge. This was an odd sensation for a guy who had always jumped on any opportunity to travel or move to a new location. A lot of the homesickness owed to the quality of the circle of friends I had to leave behind.

Well, Paul’s true impact on my writing was via our shared geeky side and we reached out to some tinder souls to build a Role Playing Gaming group with our friends Bryan and Terence. Together, the four of us developed the characters in an RPG setting via various gaming systems. The system was usually secondary to the characters and the narratives they drove.

I mentioned this to another friend of mine, Michael Kaduck, and his reaction was note that via hours of gaming, we had laid the basis of truly believable characters. When I put them in whatever the situation, I would instinctively know how they would think and react. I already had their voice speaking to me. This, I think, has turned out to be true. The characters aren’t all mine … I just set them loose, and via their encounters I have let them grow into characters that perhaps really are all mine.

I did so because what I really wanted was to maintain that connection to a great group of idiosyncratic, intelligent (if not geeky) friends.

I spent a bit of time today thinking about Fjordland’s Gods and whether or not I should include a type of celestial Dramatis Personae at the beginning of Harbinger that explains who’s who. For the moment I have decided that I should. Here they are:


Fjordland has two chief Gods, one female, one male. They are:

Rulla, Dealer of Fates, Mistress of Owls. Upon the birth of a Fjordlander, She selects a slate with a specific rune upon it that will guide the Fjordlander’s fate. Significant events or collisions with other Gods may represent Rulla taking an interest in guiding events, or She may select another rune. Nevertheless, the selection of a rune is seen by Fjordlanders like a path set out for the individual, but it is up to the individual to walk that path.

Hondrig the Judge. Upon the death of a Fjordlander, He sits in judgement over whether the Fjordlander lived up to the potential of the rune that Rulla selected upon birth. He then allots an appropriate place in the Afterworld depending on whether the Fjordlander made the most of the fate or whether the Fjordlander made little effort to do so. He may also decide to send the soul of the Fjordlander to Skalagg, the Netherworld.

Other, lesser Gods also populate Fjordlander theology. Some that appear in Northern Fire are:

Asgear, God of the Waves, who commands the seas.

Florri, God of Good Fortune, who controls the whims of luck.

Guliveg, Tender of the Spark of Life. She may intervene to save the diseased, the shipwrecked or those whose life hangs in the balance.

Heligat, Ruler of Skalagg, the Domain of the Dead, the Netherworld. Heligat controls the domain of the dead and controls the presence of demons in the world.

Karn, the Goddess of War. Revels in the conduct of war and is known to guide the outcome of battles based on Her whims, often manifesting Herself via Her berserkers.

Norrgi, the Master of the Winds. An active God. He controls the weather that is borne upon the winds. Whereas many Fjordlander sailors respect and fear Asgear, they revere Norrgi.

Tanat the Rogue. God of Chaos and Mischief. Often intervenes in the plans of the other Gods simply for His own amusement.

Zareth the Mistress of Desire: Goddess of love, lust and ambition.


So here’s a question for you, in light of my weekend reflections on International Women’s Day, should the realm of love belong to a female God? Is having the war the domain of a female God shaking things up enough? Is shaking things up the point, or, is there a better ambition. Just some thoughts bubbling through my mind tonight.

Well, today was productive. I managed to finish off the reconstruction of my Northern Fire file that I deleted. In the end I have only lost 5 pages or so of verse, 2 of prose and a week of slogging work (although to be fair, I did devote time to the website and twitter experiments as well as write the Epilogue for Harbinger).

This week I will now concentrate on repairing the Lay of Redeeming. We’ll see how that goes!

I have been reconnecting in the Twittersphere with people, including some folk key to my novels … I just hope POL and TWNTH respond! (and if you’re reading this, guys, “hi there”). There’s also DUG and some folk back in Ottawa. I have tripled my followers in two days! (albeit from a very low base).

Also, in light of DUG’s silence, I have reached out to a locally-based Canadian who does artwork and he’s interested in meeting to talk about cover art. If you’re out there and reading this, DUG, better reply if you want to be part of this best-seller!

Apologies for the lack of blog entry yesterday. I’d really like to be adding something every day, but I guess that won’t always be possible. Frankly, I’m glad I did what I did yesterday rather than a blog entry: I wrote the epilogue to Harbinger. I figured that, seeing as I have decided to split Northern Fire into two books, I couldn’t just drop readers into a void at the place where I see a natural division in the book’s narrative. So, I wrote a four and a half page epilogue that at least provides a glimpse into what the aftermath of the hunt (I don’t want to give too much away so I’m being deliberately vague).

The MLS season started yesterday and the Vancouver Whitecaps (http://www.whitecapsfc.com) got out the gates with a bang, ringing in a home victory against a Thierry Henry-less New York team. My brother was there for his 50th birthday and I am sure that the 4 - 1 scoreline helped make his 50th fun. The result also bodes well for the rest of the season. 

Well, further progress today. I am advancing in my efforts to restore Northern Fire, diligently comparing that PDF I sent to Luke with an old copy and trying to detect the edits/modifications. It’s a slog, but I’ll get there, no doubt.

And Now For Something Completely Different: I have a twitter account and a feed to the website. I feel like a Brontosaurus trying to learn how to dance hip hop. Dammit, being a dinosaur is OK!

Anyway, I have my first Twitter follower, so I big thank you to Miriam!

The account, by the way, is @McKinleyWriting

Deputy literary editor of The Nation // Writer // The rest is commentary


I also had my first Twitter exchange with a true hero, Guy Gavriel Kay! My intention in the links part of this page is to recognize people who have taken speculative fiction to a new level … really broken new ground in what I am calling Fantastic Realism. Well, Guy Kay will be the first author to whom I will construct links. If you haven’t already read him, please, please do. Anyway, all this to say that my excitement over an actual exchange with such a great writer is truly a BIG DEAL!

Guy Gavriel Kay @guygavrielkay

An interesting day, and that doesn’t even get into my day job of exploring a peace process in Colombia …

Dammit! I had something I wanted to do to the site but can’t remember. For a dinosaur, things are moving too quickly all of a sudden!

Well, my close gang of friends has helpfully provided feedback on the website … and persuaded me to go check out the spell-check features of Sandvox (yes, there Are some and no, I didn’t have them turned on!). It seems that the design is broadly pleasing, so that’s good.

Back to the slog of converting that PDF back to a Pages document. If anyone has any ideas about how PDF files can be re-constructed in their original format, let me know! If I just do a copy & paste, the format and look gets completely screwed up.

I uploaded this blog entry and began my work, and realized I was at the bit when Korgash has captured Elkor and starts torturing him. Neither Josée nor Luke thought that section was particularly over-the-top, but MAN! - I did! It cost me a lot to write that. It certainly got me out of my comfort zone to describe one human being wilfully deforming or inflicting pain on another. I think it has been the most troubling bit of text I have had to write.

Views, anyone? Let me know if you think I went too far.

Well, splitting Northern Fire in two meant having to think up two separate titles for the component parts. Harbinger came quickly to me, and those who have been reading the work as it has been progressing will immediately understand why. The second part has taken a while longer to name. But something finally came to me … The Winter Wars. So that will be the working title as I continue on it. We’ll see if it survives to publishing. Certainly if people have any reaction to that title, please feel free to send in observations.

I managed to get a page up an running under Books so if you’re desperate to learn more, go ahead and visit.

The Winter Wars

As they say here in Colombia, “YUPI” Michael has helped me to one success … I have a website up and running! It still needs development, but it exists. The whole thing wouldn’t exist without the expert support Michael provided, often in real time from another continent!

If you’re reading this, then you know it’s working and what it looks like. Suffice it to say that at this point in my professional development, it represents a significant step forward.

Now the bad news, Apple doesn’t think it can recover Northern Fire. Ah well, back to the slog of comparing the PDF I thankfully sent to Luke just a couple of weeks ago. I will likely only end up losing about 10 pages, although a lot of that is verse, something I find tricky and that will be difficult to recreate. Sigh.

But I HAVE A WEBSITE!

No good news from Apple yet. I see that some documents I really did want to delete from the Cloud have been restored, but not Northern Fire.

I managed to breathe some life into the Northern Fire/Harbinger part of the site. Josée likes the idea of splitting Northern FIre in two given the volume of material that’s building up. Getting Harbinger out there in due course might give me more momentum in getting through the rest of the work. Of course splitting the book in two brings another conundrum; what to name the second volume?


Well, my good friend Michael managed to get northernfire.net set up as a website as well as my @northernfire.net e-mail address. Thank goodness he was active on it because had it been left to me, I would have thrown something at the screen of my iMac!

Speaking of Apple, there’s no news on whether they can restore Northern Fire back into the iCloud. Every time I called support, the chap was either on the phone or not answering it. I still hold out hope, although he’s reportedly off until Wednesday so I may not know more until mid-week. Sigh.

So, a few things of note today. The big thing is that while updating Gallows Gem, I managed to lose completely Northern Fire (don’t ask, I friggin’ hate Apple sometimes … almost as much as I hate myself!). I still haven’t solved the issue. I may have to adapt a PDF I sent to Luke about a week ago. That would mean I lose about 10 pages of very difficult work! I was out for a walk with Josée and the hounds brooding over it when I turned to her and mumbled, “Block your ears.”

“You’re going to shout?” she asked me with worry etched on her face.

I nodded. She plugged her ears and hunched over to protect herself from the shock wave.

I took a deep breath and … let out a meak  “…eh…” 

She hugged me and we laughed. That did some good, I must admit. Anyway, I’m trying a restore of the iPad from a back-up this morning. My only hope is that as it restores, it doesn’t restore the Northern Fire from the iCloud because that’s the rotten PDF version. We’ll see.

The second thing today, I bought Sandvox and started experementing with it. I can’t be a writer without a website, after all!


ian at ianmckinley dot com (written this way to guard against spam … you know how to interpret it) © Ian McKinley 2016