The Wunder-Lusters Origin Story – Part 2

Read Part 1 HERE.

… Wherein we find ourselves at the very beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic …

Apart from a few highly qualified virologists I don’t think anyone really knew what was happening, or what to do. Most of those in authority seemed to be running around like chooks with their heads cut off, and/or trying to protect their arses at the same time.

Would this be the ‘armageddon’ event that so many people feared it would be and civilisation would degenerate into warring tribes, (not that we weren’t doing that anyway) bent on claiming the remaining resources for themselves? Truth was, no-one knew how bad it would get.

Across the world people started dying in the hundreds, then the thousands, then finally, horrifically, millions. Talks, (let alone taking any sort of action) between nations, about closing international borders started far too late to stem the tide.

As the days passed it seemed the only voice of reason we could find in a sea of inertia, arse-covering, and ineptitude, was Dr John Campbell. We watched his daily updates with a growing sense of dread.

I was (still am) immune-compromised, and Mrs Widds wasn’t (and still isn’t) a spring chicken, which made both of us prime candidates for this global killer to target.

We pulled our RV out of storage, de-winterised, and provisioned it so that if one of us caught the virus we would be able to isolate from each other. We were unclear how effective that might be, but at least we had a plan.

Even before borders, both international and domestic, finally, and with the speed of a snail on valium, began to close, it was obvious, at least to us, that any sort of long-distance travelling was completely out of the question. In fact we picked up our RV only days before travel in our entire province shut down.

Growing up in the country, albeit in different hemispheres of the globe, we both understood the value of a well-stocked larder in times of crisis. (we tended to have a fairly well-stocked larder at the best of times) And if those early months of the pandemic didn’t constitute a crisis, I don’t know what did.

Face masks were suddenly as rare as hen’s teeth and what stocks were available were slated for first responders, so we sewed our own.

Only ‘essential travel’ was allowed. After the Canadian/USA border closed, and with no-one having a clue about ‘essential services’ needing to include the trucking industry that kept every aspect of modern-day living running smoothly, things started to look dire indeed.

Where previously we’d topped up Mrs Widds baked goods supplies only when we were running low, we now doubled up. Two bags of flour at a time instead of one. Two boxes of baking soda instead of one. Never emptying a shelf though.

(And we certainly didn’t contribute to that ridiculous run on toilet paper in any way. I understood the reasoning behind it, the fears people had, supply-chain disruptions, etc, and most people didn’t buy more than they immediately needed. But seriously, those bastards who bought it by the truckload and profiteered off other people’s fears, and not just toilet paper … there are no words to describe how fucked-up that was)

Fresh fruits and vegetables soon joined the ‘hen’s teeth’ brigade, so we bought canned or frozen varieties.

Thankfully Mrs Widds was working in an essential industry at the time so we still had an income, unlike so many, many, people who lost everything.

I remember very clearly, developing this little twitch, where I would constantly run my thumb across the insides of my fingers. At first it was an involuntary thing, but even when I noticed what I was doing I couldn’t seem to stop. I don’t know if it made me feel any better, but it was an action that I could take, it was something I had control over, which was a far cry from the world around me.

Human beings showed their very best side, doing things for each other, reaching out, (as best as could be done from afar with masks and gloves) and sharing the burdens of ‘lockdowns’.

We all saw the news stories, and perhaps we were some of those doing the reaching out, sharing a friendly word over the back-fence with the neighbour we’d never talked to before. All of us have stories like that, and each one I read about or watched had me weeping with the true humanity of our species.

On the other hand, humans also showed their worst side. The me-first-and-screw-everyone-else brigade hoisted their colours from the nearest flagpole and posted their deeds of complete arse-holery on their social media blogs, YouTube, Instagram, etc.

I was already aware of the growing divide between these two aspects of our humanity. The pandemic not only pulled back the drapes of civility behind which we hid our ravenous hungers but somehow was seen to be giving permission for some of us to exhibit our foulest natures.

Was this how we, homo sapiens – the current peak of evolution – had always behaved? Had society, civilisation, only coated us with a veneer of domesticity, so that all it took was a simple act of will, a choice, to crack it wide open and expose the festering wounds beneath?

I had no answers. (only opinions) None that would change anything. I stopped watching the news, barely glancing at the headlines before retreating to more sane pursuits …reading, sitting in our garden, drifting with the clouds …

… waiting, for … something …

Vaccine trials intensified and by the end of 2020 their results, in the form of mass-produced vaccines, began to trickle out into the most vulnerable communities. The conspiracy theorists put on their tin-foil hats and took to whatever social media platform that would give them their fifteen seconds of fame, (and there were so many platforms willing to do just that) to spew their idiocy to any audience they could find.

Sadly they always found an audience.

A simple internet search of those times will lay bare the hysteria exhibited by people from all walks of life, in all professions, from the very highest authorities, in quite a few lands, to the lowliest of the low.

The only thing that hadn’t irrevocably changed for any of us was the passage of Time, and eventually 2021 rolled around.

2021 – would we be able to get away this year?

Viruses, like all living organisms, including us, want to survive, to live, to thrive, and we do it with either our intellect or our biology.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, (aka Covid-19 – finally called thusly, to avoid offending anyone’s delicate sensibilities or stupid people wanting to be racist arseholes) was no different. Not having an intellect as we humans define such things, it used biology and mutated, again and again, until in May of 2021, the Delta variant reared its brutal head above the crowd.

Too few people had been vaccinated. Too many were resisting the simple ‘masks-and-social-distancing’ concepts that were either mandated or ‘highly recommended’, (depending on where one lived) to make much of a difference.

No, we wouldn’t be travelling anywhere in 2021.

With the beauty of 20/20 hindsight, had we braved the wildfires of the years before the pandemic and headed out anyway, our story would’ve been so much different. There were times in those early months of 2021 when, again as in 2020, no-one knew what was going to happen, we fervently wished we had. (hell, if the pandemic hadn’t happened in the first place, things would’ve been so much different)

In the midst of all this, quite frankly, terrifying new paradigm, and after feeling emotionally paralised for a year, I began to write.

I’d had a vague idea for a story rattling around in my brain, and computer, for a while but not enough to hang a whole novel on. I was in no particular writerly frame of mind either. I simply sat and read through my sparse notes one day, pictured the scene in my mind, and began to describe it.

Words flowed through me like the boundaries of my body were made of nothing more than the vaguest of tissue, porous enough to let the story, from where, I knew not, flow unheeded. A thousand words a day, (on my writing days – I still had the non-writing aspects of my life to attend to) became two thousand, and after a few weeks, evened out at three thousand words each day. They were good words too. About dragons, and living forever, and how a world wracked by, and recovering from, WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic, might respond to such wondrous things.

I wrote, edited, and published, The Last Dragon In London, in six-ish months. It was a glorious experience in the Time of The Plague. (as I called it on days when the never-ending, always-increasing, death-toll got me down)

By mid-Summer, the continuing threat to our water quality on Widder Island resulted in weekly water interruptions, as them’s wot knew wot needed to be done, purged the system of increasingly nasty bacteria. (we finally bit the bullet and bought our Berkey water filter, which paid for itself in a matter of weeks – In fact as I write this – August 2022 – it’s saving us a fortune in bottled water as the water here in our ‘home’, is too ‘hard’ to drink safely from the tap)

Mainstream politics, as reported by mainstream media, continued to fracture and polarise like nothing I’d ever seen before. Perhaps those who are a generation or two older than me could name what was happening, as could any student of history.

I discovered a brilliant series on YouTube called ‘Fall Of Civilisations’, which, apart from being highly informative and entertaining, reinforced my feeling that we humans have been stuck on this ‘rise and fall’, of civilisations since ‘civilisation’ began. And all we do is keep repeating the same cycle, over and over and over.

Yes, technology improves, and the overall quality of life takes an uptick each time around, but really, imagine all the resources, human and otherwise, that are completely and utterly wasted every, single, time. (perhaps this is why I’m fascinated by ‘alternate history’ SF – the ‘what if’, stories that start with a pivotal incident whose outcome is changed in this reality, and an alternate reality heads off in … who knows what sorts of directions)

Then it got hot, and hotter and hotter, then hottest. (so far) They called it a ‘heat dome’, and it killed over 600 people in our province alone.

The town of Lytton, only  a hundred and eighty kilometers away from us, burned to the ground.

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Nellifant Saves The Day, The Endless Potato Bag, And Strawberry Fields Forever

Have you ever … (a short entry into the continuing occasional series of weird and wonderful things that never, seriously, never, happen to me) … posted a very important piece of information where the spelling absolutely had to be correct, and wondered why nothing was working and then someone very kindly points out that you forgot an ‘s’? Nah me neither!

Thank you Nellifant for catching that poor ‘s’ as it flew about the cosmos, untethered to purpose or outcome.

The email address I had in my previous post to connect to Paypal has now been corrected. It is … widdershinsfirst (at) gmail (dot) com

-oOo-

A long, long, time ago, or so it seems now, (probably some time in March) we bought a 20 kilo bag of potatoes as part of our essential ‘on-the-road’ supplies.

No matter how many we used there always seemed to be still more in the bag. It did however, get lighter and lighter, but no emptier. We had mashed potatoes, and baked potatoes, and boiled potatoes, and potato wedges, Mrs Widds used some in her bread, and still, the bag kept on giving.

Yesterday I was determined to uncover the Mystery. And as is the nature of such Mysteries, the ultimate and final Truth could not be found by mortal means.

In the bottom of the bag I discovered five sad and sorry individuals

In the bottom of the bag I discovered five sad and sorry individuals

These five, these final five, were transformed into the crispy topping for a magnificent Shepherds Pie, and that, I thought, was the end of that.

The bag however, had other ideas. After being tied up and set aside for our next top-up shop, I discovered, there was still something inside …

Although I dared not look, and haven't since, it felt suspiciously like potatoes

Although I dared not look, and haven’t since, it felt suspiciously like potatoes

-oOo-

Wild strawberries are very tiny, but so sweet and flavourful, that it’s worth going hunting for them. Unfortunately the cooler start to the growing season has slowed down all sorts of wilding growth.

The strawbs here are only starting to flower, and this was the first one we came across …

And flowering with all its might

And flowering with all its might

And upon looking around we discovered the field was full of them …

Tiny flowers with even tinier fruits just starting to show

Tiny flowers with even tinier fruits just starting to show

-oOo-

On the writing front, I’ve completed the first draft of the first three chapters of the next book in the Last Dragon series, ‘The Last Dragon In Time’.

If you haven’t checked out Book 1, The Last Dragon In London, the first two chapters are posted HERE.

-oOo-

That’s it for now, but the Adventure continues.

May your strawberries and potatoes last forever too. 🙂

And The Winner Is …

It’s a gorgeous sun-dappled afternoon here in the Widder-backyard as the entrants gather, and wait with bated breath for the BIG DRAW!

A Gathering of Entrants

A Gathering of Entrants

Each entrants name has been written on the inside of tiny cube …

(not an actual entrant)

(not an actual entrant)

… and placed in this rather elegant glass bowl …

(red lights not included)

(red lights not included)

… on a sun-dappled podium.

-oOo-

And now without ado …

Congratulations Quiall!!!

Please use the contact form on my ‘About Me & Contact Me’ page on my blog (Just scroll down a little) and leave me the postal address you want the book sent to, and anything extra you might want me to add to my signage.

That’s it folks. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Last Day Until The Draw

If you haven’t already entered the draw for a signed copy of The Last Dragon In London, this is your last chance. Check out the book’s own page for a description and the first two chapters, and see what you think. Leave a comment at the end of this post and into the draw you’ll go. See this post for more details.

The draw will close at midnight tonight (12th September) Pacific Daylight Time.

On the 13th, I will write everyone’s name, (the username you’ve used to make your comment) on the inside of a little cardboard box, like this …

… Which I will then fold up, thusly …

… And into a container they all will go, where Mrs Widds will pick a cube, unfold it, and reveal the winner. Simple, eh?

Good luck to all, and to all, good luck.

Have you Ever … Anaesthesia Edition

(continuing my occasional series of weird and wonderful things that never, seriously, never, happen to me)

Background: On Friday I had a Day Surgery visit to our local hospital for some surgery – gynecologically speaking – to have some non-cancerous polyps, who’d ignored my post-menopausal cease-and-desist order, removed … I’m fine now, except that I think I may have offended the Goddess of Post-Surgical Bowel movements, (Poopsalotia) by celebrating my lack of extreme evacuations just a tad too early. C’est la vie – good times’ll get you in the end!

Anyway, on with the show …

Have you ever … undergone general anesthetic, and then woken up from a dream where you had a pack of Viking warriors kneeling around you, on some long-forgotten battlefield, holding you down while they pulled a very large spear out of your throat …

… and then you realise that in all the times you’ve experienced general anesthetic (14 times to date – mostly knee surgeries) you have never dreamed at all or hallucinated, or whatever it was, and had only gone from, nowhere, to hearing the post-op nurses asking you your name …

… and then you realise that your throat feels like it’s been turned inside out …

… and then you figure that you woke, or were woken, just a little bit too soon and the surgical team were still taking our that tube they stick down your throat, and your Vikings were the team holding you still while the process was completed?

Nah .. me neither!

Sailing away

Sailing away

-oOo-

A reminder that my ‘The Last Dragon In London’ giveaway is running until the 12th September. Entry is by simply leaving a comment on THIS post

Now, this is my kinda Viking music …

 

I’m Giving Away A Signed Copy Of The Last Dragon In London!!!

Short version – leave a comment on this post to enter the give-away.

Slightly longer version – Zon.com was taking so bloody long to get my ‘author copy’ to me, (hard to imagine the USA and Canada are next-door-neighbours sometimes) so I bought it from Zon.ca and got it a week earlier than the .com one. Now have two copies, and what better way, I thought, to celebrate such good fortune than to give one away.

The give-away will close at the stroke of midnight on 12th of September, and Mrs Widds will pull a name from a hat on the 13th of September, which I will video and post here on my blog. The winner will then use the ‘contact me’ form on my ‘About Me & Contact Me’ page, to get their postal address to me … and a short, tasteful message for me to include if they so desire … then I will sign your very own copy of The Last Dragon In London and post it to you, poste haste!

That’s it!

P.S. If you want to leave a comment but don’t want to be in the draw, just let me know in your comment.

Raindrops On Jasmine, And Novels On Desktops

After some 60-odd days we finally had a bit of rain the other day. I was so excited I rushed out and just stood in it and wallowed. Those of you who’ve been here for a while know how much I am not a fan of rain. I can remember not long ago really, enduring 60-odd days of rain and overcast skies, and expressing my displeasure in no uncertain terms.

This year, (and perhaps for all the years to come) the arrival of the rain that finally broke the drought’s back will be a most welcome sight indeed.

Every plant in the garden absorbs every drop it can

Every plant in the garden absorbs every drop it can

-oOo-

In other news to cheer me up, this arrived in the mail …

In my hands

In my hands

For all that I love the absolute brilliance of ebooks, this is what finally makes it real.

I am very happy to announce that The Last Dragon In London is now available IN PRINT!

All the info can be found on its very own page.

-oOo-

And in reference to the title of this post, I’m not going to link the Julie Andrews version of one of my favourite show-tunes, but a spectacular version by Betty Carter.

Take it away, Betty …

Have You Ever – Publishing Edition …

(Continuing my occasional series of weird and wonderful things that never, seriously, never happen to me, ever)

… slaved over a hot keyboard for seven months creating, from the five dimensions (at least) of your imagination, and then editing, a brilliant story filled with engaging characters, and drama galore …

… then formatted it for stage and screen digital and print editions …

…and then upload the digital versions and see nothing wrong them (this is important for later in the story) …

…only to discover, when you return to finish off the print formatting, that there are a few too many typos, that you’re sure you have already corrected, in the manuscript you’re working on …

… until you realise that in some unknown and probably unknowable way, you uploaded the WRONG BLOODY FILE, and didn’t even notice it?…

… so you go back to your clean copy and go through it with a paranoia-inspired fine-tooth comb, secure in the knowledge that no matter how obsessive you are, there will always be at least one typo that will escape detection …

… nah, me neither!

-oOo-

IMPORTANT NOTE: The clean files have been uploaded, and Amazon and Smashwords should clear them within the next 24 hours, so that those of you who have already bought your books can download the updated versions if you so desire. (it was mostly punctuation gaffes)

(For Amazon you need to make sure your device has ‘Automatic Book Update’ turned on – ‘Manage your Content and Devices’ in your Amazon account. Click the ‘Preferences’ tab. Scroll to ‘Automatic Book Update’. Choose ‘on’)

IMPORTANT LESSON: Be able to laugh at yourself, and have a back up plan!

We. Are. Live!!!

The Last Dragon In London (ebook version) is now live!

-oOo-

In the second decade of the Twentieth Century, Mildred Norman, Mildy to her friends, not many of whom are left alive, is broken in body and spirit after a long hard war.
An old friend suggests that she might like, as a bit of a distraction, to spend some time doing a bit of a ‘grand tour’ of all the places named ‘London’ throughout the world.
What begins as a whim, ends with a discovery that challenges everything she believes is possible.
Arriving in the last ‘London’, on her list, a tiny village tucked away in a remote valley, she meets up with a few of the locals and shenanigans ensue.
With the help of a child hunting mythical beasts, the child’s grandmother, and a cast of quirky villagers, Mildy shows how dangerous a stout woman with a lethal arsenal in her pockets can be.
She uncovers a plot to alter the course of history, begun so long ago that no records of the conspirators remain, except for one place, the place she now calls home.
To protect those she has come to love from certain destruction at the hands of a cruel and loathsome cabal, she must battle threats both near and far, and confront the mysterious force guiding it all.
And then, of course, there’s the question of dragons …

-oOo-

I’m still having a bit of a joust with the print version but that just means I can party again when that goes live too!

Herewith be the all important links:

SMASHWORDS: The last Dragon In London (in these formats: epub, mobi, (for Kindles) pdf, Irf, pdp, txt, and html)

AMAZON:

CanadaThe last Dragon In London

USAThe last Dragon In London

UKThe last Dragon In London

AustraliaThe last Dragon In London

(and all the Amazon’s’ everywhere else too)

(it’ll take a couple of days but it should show up the catalogues for Apple, Kobo, Overdrive, Scribd, etc. Again, when I know you’ll know)

Tell your friends… tell their friends … tell random people on the street … erm … maybe not that last one. it might be going a bit too far.

Seriously though, if you like it, let me know, write a review, that sort of thing … if you don’t like it, well, constructive criticism is always welcome.

And just because it’s an awesome piece of art …

On With The Show!

Editing: Finished!

Only stage 3 of the whole process to go – the FORMATTING! (stage 1 – writing, stage 2 – editing)

If there was one thing I could tell someone to do if they’re completely bonkers enough to fall in love with this writing of tall tales business, it’s to not stop writing until they’ve reached ‘the end’. Then they can edit, judge, expand, and otherwise eviscerate, the end result.

It’s … exhilarating!

I’ve had a couple of days of feeling like I’m a lost sock in the washing machine of life, (normal after six months of concentrated concentration) now it’s …

On With The Show!

 

-oOo-

On a more prosaic note, I’ve had a fine joust with my new diabetes medication. The dosage was waaaay too high, and seeing as how some of the nastier side-effects were vomiting and diarrhea, I will leave it to your imagination as to what I’ve been going through from a digestive point-of-view – suffice it to say, not fun … but all digitalia crossed, my keel should be even from now on.

-oOo-

And now, the real reason I’ve asked you all here this evening. (cue dramatic music …)

 

Phew! That certainly was dramatic.

When I mentioned in my last post that I was still looking for the right cover art, (I had some very specific imagery in mind) Olga Godim offered to see what she might be able to create for me.

And create something for me, she most assuredly did!

Behold, the cover reveal and title reveal of my book …

Cover, revealed!

Cover, revealed!

Speaking of fantasies, if this series, yes it’s going to be a series, ever makes it to the ‘big screen’ or smaller ones, I want that piece of music as the theme music.