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It Started In a Tavern

With a final glance at his reflection, Del straightened his eyepatch then, with a deep breath, turned to the tavern proper.

“Alright, you lot. We did a good job last night, closed out some of the smaller requests. On that note, a special congratulation to Dorin, who did an excellent job filling in as the librarian, it was your work that got that last party to clear out the ghosts from the from that basement, and netted us a nice finders fee.” There was a smattering of applause from those gathered at the tavern tables, as was their custom.

Months ago, the tavern had been on the verge of going under; between the damage caused by bar brawls and groups of high ego ‘adventurers’. It had been Del’s idea to band the staff and town together to turn it around. Why was it that it was only adventures that earned all the gold, and spent it faster than they could appreciate it? Now, with the help of the town, Del had a lucrative business running, and the tavern and town were better than they had ever been. All it had required was a little bit of diplomacy, and now all of the contracts for work came to the town. Instead of letting outsiders take all the money, they had worked out a good system. They would pick up each contract from the issuer of the task, and the sub-contract it out to the proper group. They’d offer a reward for the work, much smaller than the true price, and pocket the difference. The local authorities agreed with it, as it kept the wealth local, and meant that they did not need to do the footwork of finding individuals to complete the tasks.

Del picked up the assignments for the evening, and made his way around the room, handing each of them out.

“So, we’ve got a few big ones still waiting for the right group. Olav, down at the Broken Tusk, let us know that a pretty tough group is likely headed our way. We’re to look out for a female halfling, a real troublemaker who lits from shadow to shadow, and a big woman with a sword even bigger than she is.” Del stopped at the table next to Elona and clapped his hand on the small elf’s shoulder. “Sounds like they’re pretty good at what they do. Some news about how they held off an entire goblin invasion at an old fort. I think we can safely send them off to deal with that “little” red dragon problem. Start the reward low, let them feel like they’re really getting away with something, we can let them get up to 500 gold, and still, earn enough on the job to buy that new brewery.” There was a cheer at that, and Del grinned before moving on, handing out a few smaller assignments were needed. They had been contracted to find someone who could turn the undead back into their graves, and the local cleric just didn’t have the time to deal with it himself. If Del was honest, he knew Cleric Palon was just lazy and would rather read his bawdy novels then do the actual work, but a payment was payment, so that was that.

“One last thing though. “ Del stopped in the middle of the group, placing his hands on his hips. “ Turns out we set the alarm spell a little too high on the flaming goblet. Melosa, if you could tune it down, we might be able to get that one taken care of. We just need them to steal it and then the curse will transfer and Lord Bors will pay off the full reward.” There was a groan and a bit of a boo and hiss from various mouths, and Del shook his head. “I know! I thought that that little goblin would have gotten past it for sure. Would have served them right too, we wasted good stew because of the giant Goliath and might have kicked that paladin in the ass a bit for the stunt he pulled back Triboar. Now, everyone to their places, like as not all those adventurers are getting thirsty for a drink.”

The huddle broke up as each person took their place, and Del returned behind the bar. Soon enough evening would fall, and then, as per usual, the tavern would fill up with those seeking their fortune, from the newest adventures, still with a clean blade, to the oldest and most battle-hardened barbarian, looking for their next bit of coin.

 

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Oh boy! An Update

Hello readers and denizens of the internet,

Once again, I have fallen behind and let the cobwebs gather on my blog. But, this time is was because I have been very busy working on some other projects!

Deja-Visite:  Independent Online Magazine. Saskatchewan Writers. Local Perspectives.

First, I’m very proud to be involved with Deja-Visite, an online magazine. It started out as myself and four friends, and since February we have added some additional contributors. We have seven full issues under our belts, and we’ve moving to a bi-monthly publication schedule. We do a little bit of everything at Deja-Visite; creative fiction, experimental kitchen adventures, travel pieces, technology and development articles, recipes, nature hikes with photographic spreads, reviews, recipes, and local event coverage, just to name a few. I’m involved as both a writer and the editor-in-chief, and currently am serving as the interim social media contact and producer. Head on over to Deja-Visite to check us out. We can also be fund on Instagram as dejavisite_zine, and on Facebook and Twitter as @dejavisite_zine. We’re free to read, and planning our next issue to release in November. Keep your eyes peeled for a teaser from one of our older episodes, to whet you appetites.

Inktober

I have also been taking part in Inktober, creating a new miniature ink drawing each day of October, which can be found on my Instagram with profile name idatflame. It’s been a bit of a challenge, but I think it’s really helped me to work on creating a little piece of something each day. I’m also on track to see it all the way through to the end of the month. I deviated from the official prompt list and set myself with a theme instead: Entrances. Once October is finished, I may do a summary posting here, but best to check it out on Instagram. Hey, while you’re at it, definitely check out some of the other marvellous Inktober work being done, such as by Jocelyn Anderson and Victoria Koops, Blackssideshow, Bradly Wohlgemuth, and Max Dunbar. You can find it all be searching #inktober2018 on social media!

Myth Series

I am working on a series of short articles focused on various myths. Nothing too concrete yet, but mostly it is looking at thematic similarities between a wide assortment of myth and folklore traditions. This may end up being part of Deja-Visite, where the idea was initially created, but it won’t go live until after the planned wrap on another serial column I have there. The research for it has really been my favourite part, and a reason for me to dust off so many of my prized textbooks.

Prompt-vember

I am also gearing up for some major writing, outside of my articles for Deja-Visite, for November. Lots of people join NaNoWriMo, but I just don’t think I am quite ready to make that king of single story commitment. So, instead I am aiming to do a new piece of creative writing every 1-2 days all November long, and posting them here. Prompts will either come from a song lyric, be inspired by a single song as a whole, or based off a little tidbit of an idea that has seeded itself as something interesting in my mind.

General Crafting

I am also undertaking a more tactile practice when it comes to creation, as I am planning to join a friend at a convention vendor table in the new year, and want to have some neat little bits to take along. So far my major interests are in the quick bake polymer clay, perler beads, and shrinky-dinks. Nothing super impressive, but so far I am having a lot of fun coming up with the ideas for the designs, and building my templates.

 

All in all, looking forward to creating more, and bringing everything together more in the future. The hardest part is finding the balance to keep it all going, but things are starting to come together.

All the best

Megan, Mlle_macabre

 

 

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Launching Deja-Visite, a Monthly eZine

Good afternoon!

As many of you have seen, I have been silent for some time. This is probably due in part to a lack of drive, and a general attitude of ho-hum that overtook me for awhile. I was losing my passion, bogged down by work-a-day living and an exhausting stressful job.

About a month or so ago, I decided that that was it, I needed to get back in to writing. First I thought about putting out a monthly publication of my things, to compress the publication schedule, possibly in order to give me more time.

At that moment a thought struck me, why not ask my friends? When presented with the idea of working on something together, a publication that would focus on our passions, our knowledge, and what it was we wanted to write about, learn about, and explore, my friends jumped at the chance. Working hard for a little over a month, we met and put together the idea, worked through titles and articles, launched a website, and focused a bit on social media.

February Issue-page001

Deja Visite February 2018

Our final product just went live at midnight last night! Deja-Visite is a monthly zine publication run and written completely in-house.

If you like reading about unique experiences, travel, software development, learning to code, reviews, creative fiction, and much more, come visit us at Deja-Visite!

This month: StudioMDHR’s Cuphead, The magic of Kefir, Making Moonshine, Love myths, travel to Prague, and read some excellent reviews, creative stories, and even life advise from a wise squirrel sage!

 

 

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Saturday Shorts: Country Roads

Country Roads

Even with the heater going full blast, Susan could barely feel her fingers for the cold. Her thick mittens did little to take the bone deep chill of the truck cabin away. The snow fell thickly outside, reflecting the headlights of the truck in odd ways, making the road more treacherous than it already was, the wipers working furiously. The snow danced like ghosts across the stretch of abandoned back road.

Susan hated early mornings, when the sun was still hours away from rising, and absolutely loathed the cold. Despite these certainties, she loved the snow, as it was beautiful in its own way. It was part of the reason she had stayed in North Dakota, despite her hatred of winter. The other reason she had stayed for so many years was why she was up at such an ungodly hour in the first place, driving when it was likely that every weather and news station in the county was advising against even going out your front door.

The trailer she was towing behind the truck pulled along, following in the ruts created by the full ton trucks winter tires. For all Susan knew, she wasn’t even driving on the actual road, since the only markers that made the stretch a road in this weather was her ingrained memory from having come this way countless times before. Hell, she almost missed the turn off indicator as she came up to it, though in reality it was not an official demarcation of destination, just an old oak tree, branches now heavy with snow, the indicated she had reached her turn. With a hard jerk on the wheel, she managed to make the cut, the chains on her tires gripping the snow and the gravel below it to keep her from sliding; the trailer bounces along behind. In this storm, the tree was her only indication that she was at the pasture. The snow was so uniformly white and even that it was all muscle memory and reflex at this point, keeping her calm and steady behind the wheel.

Another five minutes of steady travel into the pasture, and she was actually beginning to be able to feel her fingers, though it could just as easily been the beginnings of frostbite, as she had had a brush or two with that in the past. It would have been glorious to be able to sit in the cabin of the truck, as the warmth began to slowly leach away the battering cold, but she was at her destination and there was no time to dawdle. She was not the only thing that was likely feeling cold, as it was  ‘ not fit for man nor beast out there’, as her dad had been want to say when he was alive.

With a deft twist, Susan cut the lights on the truck, and shifted to neutral, letting the truck and trailer roll forward to a slow and steady stop. Reaching up, she made sure her knit cap was pulled down tight over her ears, meeting the edge of the heavy scarf she had wound round and round her neck. Quickly, as if she were removing a band-aid, she threw the truck door open and jumped down, trudging through the near knee-high snow towards the back of the trailer. From inside, these was the distinctive sound of hooves on metal, and puffs of steam rose from the small ventilation windows. The bleating of a handful or tired and upset sheep echoed off the bare trailer walls, as the flock made its protest known. The smell of wet wool and lanolin was just strong enough to cut over the cold and crisp air of the storm, which numbed the nose almost to the point of being useless.

Susan could hardly blame the sheep for being disagreeable, their foul mood was something she could relate to, given the circumstances. Being pulled from warm stocks at herded into a semi warm trailer at 3;00 AM would have that effect on anyone, though some would be able to protest in much more horrendous fashions. Susan lowered her scarf ever so slightly and let loose two short, shrill whistles that cut over the wind, and the sheep settled somewhat in the trailer, letting out a few soft baa’s as back talk.

Despite the thickness of her gloves, the little bit of warmth she had begun to feel was already bleeding away, so Susan made quick work of removing the dual lock and pins that held the back ramp in place. The ramp sank down into the snow, not resting fully level, but angling enough that it would be a short transition of trailer to ground for her charges. The latch that held the rolling door secure was a little bit more tricky, especially as the snow continued to fall and quickly cover every surface it could, but years of repetition made quick work of the obstacle. As the door rolled up the sheep, who had been huddled together near the back of the trailer, began moving forward toward the ramp, more out of habit than from any command, given that this was not their first time being transported. Susan moved away from the back of the trailer, the sheep descending the ramp into the snow one after the other in some bizarre game of follow the leader. Once the last of the flock, seven in total, had founds its way down the ramp and did not look like it would be retreating back into the trailer, Susan made quick work of closing the rolling door and locking the ramp back up, before she slowly worked her way back to the open door of the cabin, making sure none of the sheep tried to follow her. They stayed where the were, huddling together in the snow-covered field, their wool blending in with the snow while their black faces stood in stark contrast, even in the relative darkness.

Putting one foot back into the cabin and hoisting herself up with the door, Susan let loose another shrill series of whistles, which set the sheep into a nervous stomping. Taking a deep breath, the cold cutting her lungs like knives, she raised her voice over the storm, shouting into the darkness;

“Come out and get them, they’re all yours!”

With a quick pull and a dive across the seats, her  head down with her arms over it, Susan slammed the door behind her, just as the whoosh of something larger and heavier than a jet engine overtook the pasture, hidden by the snow. Susan did not dare look up, did not dare even breath, until there was nothing left but silence.

-Megan

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Poetry Tuesday: Champion

Trying a little something different this week for Poetry Tuesday. This is a piece that i elaborated from a fragment that I found a few weeks ago when I was going through my old notebooks. As such, it does not totally fit the themes I have been going after, but I still kind of like what came out of the revisit the initial verse.

The Champion

 

“Come closer to my ear,”
The tortoise-shell cat grinned wide.
“I will tell you of things you cannot see,
Those that hide from plain sight.
In both the darkness and in light.”

His tail swept wide upon the floor,
To his nose he touched his brown boot paw.
“A mouse is what your fool eyes see,
All soft fur and sharp knowing teeth.”
His breath puffed out, he purrs beneath the hand.
“To me a mighty beast appears,
Strong tail lashing, bright scales clashing;
Fire brimming in its fearing eyes.
You see not as I.”

Imperiously he flares his tail,
Paws clasping at the carpet ground.
“And on a branch a bird you spy;
Look all fluff and feather.
But keener eyes than yours discern
The talons clutching desperately for flesh;
Its body twisting in a dive for food.
This mighty Griffen is my prey,
To keep my mistress safe.”

Mist green eyes follow all, his coat clean and smooth as silk.
“So call me beast when at your feet
I lay my hard-won conquest down.
But as Champion, forever at your call will my service be.”

-Megan

 

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Publication news!

So, it has been a considerable amount of time since my last post. Life has been a little busy, and I have let a few things fall by the wayside. However, there is exciting news. Quite some time ago I answered a call for entries for a new encyclopedia, focused wholly on amassing information and entries pertaining to Japanese horror cinema. The process was both educational and quite fun, considering it was absolutely right up my alley.

The initial research was a bit painstaking, as it took some time to find the various films and individuals who I chose for my entries (of course, these all came from a pre-established list set forth by the volume editor). With the media in hand, I set out to do my research, watching the films and doing my best to capture the themes, plot, and vital information that would be important to crafting my entries.

As with these things, there was a lot of down time between submission and review, but as of August 15th, 2016 (tomorrow, very exciting), this collection will be released.

In others words, I have been published alongside some of the more known names in the area of  Japanese popular culture and film studies (Like Jay McRoy, Jim Harper, Jeffrey Bullins, Joanne Bernardi, etc.)

It is really a remarkable collection of information. My particular entries focused on Actor, director, and icon Izumiya Shigeru, The Guinea Pig CollectionNoroi (2005), and Death Powder (1986).

9781442261662

The Encyclopedia of Japanese Horror Films

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On Inevitable endings and those cautious first steps

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, excitement, and nerves. First and foremost, I received both of my thesis hard copies back from my internal committee, and with minor revisions both say it is a sound piece of work ready to move to defence. So here it is, the one year and nine months of my life I have devoted to studying and writing a single topic and paper are coming to an end. I am both excited and nervous: excited because I did it, as the only remaining MA student in my year, I have managed to make it through to see the light at the end of the tunnel; nervous because it leaves a huge hole in my ‘things to do’ list. I have been job searching relentlessly, writing cover letters and tweaking my resume to fit the needs of each particular job. My goal is to do that for a year while I gear up to challenge my JLPT and while I apply to all the doctoral programs I overlooked in January in favour of UVic and Queen’s. This whole experience is a bit overwhelming really.

Second, I attended my first fan convention (Fan Expo), exactly a week ago. I have, quite literally, never been so happy. You could have told me I was about to die and I would have still been smiling like an idiot. I met some of my role models, or at least those individuals who played my role models, saw and spoke with comic book artists and authors that I have been reading for ages, and generally just had a blast for a full two days. I also had the opportunity to volunteer for one of my favourite author’s, Peter S. Beagle. This whole experience will get its own post in the near future, once I am ready to really put words to the amazing experience.

Finally, I became an “auntie”; none of this formal ‘aunt’ shit, I insist on auntie. So all in all it has been a hectic and exciting few weeks, and it is looking to be more of the same in the coming weeks. I hope to finish up a few side writing projects and get them slapped up here, as well as some sketches, as I have decided that I might as well get into costuming if I plan to attend more conventions, and for the fact that I will need something aside from reading and writing to fill my time once my thesis goes through to defence.

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Read it; Watch it; Listen to it: Recommendations from the Darkness

So, I’m in the final leg of thesis work on my MA, working on last revisions and all that rigmarole. However, I do have some recommendations for those out there looking for something to watch, read, or listen to that they might had missed the first time around. Nothing ground breaking, but these are some of the series and songs that I have been really taken in by lately. Now, some of these are available on Netflix or iTunes, others require a bit of creativity to get, and yet others you will have to purchase, because that’s what the artistic teams and artists deserve. Check it out, and if there is something that had really caught your attention or imagination in the past while that you think needs more attention, leave a comment.

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Quick Words and Information (be mindful of that fourth step)

Only one week left before my writing prompt experiment closes. Since posting it, I have broken the 50 follower mark, which is pretty exciting for me.

I have not been writing much lately, as I have been working on a final set of thesis revisions I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we have started talking about which external examiner we should be looking for. So excited! Additionally, I have been getting back to my interest In Japanese culture yet again, and have been watching NHK World in the background of all my work for about 3 days straight, and it has really helped me think out my lecture, scheduled for next Thursday in front of the class, as a presentation of information not unlike one of NHK’s amazing mini-documentary segments. If I can relay the information with even half as much fluidity, I think it will be a great success.

Prepping this lecture has also drawn my attention out of the immediate Post-war years and given me an amazing understanding of the current situation between Japan, South Korea, and China. Anyone else riveted by the trilateral summit  this past weekend? (I never knew the real life could feel so much like a political K/J-drama.) Since putting his foot in his mouth during his first time as prime Minister, he has a lot of ground to regain. He has begun by issuing a statement to the effect that he will neither water-down nor revise the 1993 statement issued by Yohei Kono or in 1995 PM Tomiichi Murayama, but will stick with them (though the re-examination of evidence and testimonies given by Comfort Women is a step backwards, as there is no denying that there was institutionalized sexual slavery in the occupied Asian territories.

BEGIN HARSH REALITY

Hell, following surrender in 1945, there were similar ‘comfort stations’ set up in Japan for the American soldiers, where women became prostitutes, modern-day Okichi’s they were called, and serviced between 15 to 60 G.I.s in a given day. These women and girls are not to be confused with the panpan or street prostitutes; these were set up by the RAA (Recreation and Amusement Association) in Tokyo. For more information, check out Embracing Defeat: Japan in the wake of World War II by John W. Dower (1999), specially Chapter 4 “Cultures of Defeat.”

END HARSH REALITY

Now, if Abe’s wife will accept the invitation to the shelter for Comfort Women when they are in South Korea, I think it will do a fair bit to start easing the path to more normalized relations on subjects other than North Korea.

Best of wishes for the weekend,

M.

P.S. If you love Japanese culture, or puppets/theatre, check out the videos about Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Bunraku adaptations. He is doing some very interesting stuff.

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Visit Japan’s ancient past in urban Kyushu | The Japan Times

Being a historian with a major focus on Japanese history, who also happens to love museums, I could not pass up sharing this article. I think it would be a really interesting visit. I’ve seen the homestead, Aboriginal, and voyageur outdoor museums in the prairies, and I think this one would be amazingly interesting.

Visit Japan’s ancient past in urban Kyushu | The Japan Times.

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