Monday, 5 December 2022

Busy Writing

Cloaked Press have released the cover art for the anthology my story is being included in.

Book cover image. Book title is "Winter of Wonder: Fauna". The dominant colour is blue. Snow covered pine trees are in the foreground. A stag with glowing antlers is the main image. "Fern K L Goodliffe" appears among the list of author names at the bottom

Isn't that beautiful? I'm really excited about it. The kindle version is already available for pre-order. I'll keep you posted regarding the physical copy too.

And also about their next anthology, Depths of Love: My Enemy. I'm not a fan of the "enemies to lovers" trope (although one of my favourite love stories in any TTRPG I've played in is probably Taji and Fury, and it's definitely got enemies to lovers vibes), so it was challenging to try and write for it, and the first idea I had, I just couldn't find an entry point that worked for me (it's an idea I'm going to keep in the back of my mind, though, because I still think it's got potential). The story I eventually submitted arrived in a rush and includes a poem, a playground-rhyme style, which is also way out of my comfort zone. And they accepted it, and that made me really happy.

And then I wrote another piece for their Spring into Sci Fi collection, and I think it's the first piece I've written where I've felt as though, if it isn't accepted it's not because it's bad writing, its because it's not right for this collection. It's a decent bit of writing, and someone will want it. That's a really good feeling.

I'm working on a short story about a small group of orcs. As I write, I'm realising so much about them. Did you know orcs are blue blooded, and that across all orc culture it is taboo to eat other blue blooded creatures? It means they feel that all red bloods - the humans, the dwarves etc - are kinda dirty because they eat other red blooded creatures. This makes me think I'll write more in their world.

Things are going well in my writing world at the moment. That's not to say things are easy in general, but I'm glad to have one area where things feel good. I've got a lot of ideas and the fact I can find dedicated writing time means so much.

Friday, 2 December 2022

Fiction Friday: Moments of Connection

It’s cold. I play with my breath, fogging in the air, pretending I can make smoke rings. The cold air burns my nostrils as I inhale, warms my mouth as I exhale. My hands are shoved firmly into the front pocket of my hoodie and my cheeks sting against the chill.

I pop into the shop, pick up the few pieces I need. It’s quiet; the few other patrons carefully ignore me and each other. The shop assistant looks directly at me and smiles without managing to hide their boredom. I return the smile, hoping to show sympathy. Pay, stuff the items into the small tote bag, and leave. Tote bag over my shoulder, I secure my hands back in my pocket and start back down the hill.

Silently, a jackdaw flies over my head to perch in a tree. I dodge the shit that falls from it as I step under the bough, and it flies away again.

There’s not as many cars on the road as normal, but enough I have to wait a moment. A white car slows; the driver lifts her hand from the wheel to indicate I can cross. I wave a thanks back, and our eyes meet. We share a smile that feels deep and genuine. Something inside me makes me feel as though she needed it as much as I did. It’s fleeting, gone as soon as I’m across the road and walking on the other pavement. The cold still stings my cheeks, but the warmth of connection stays in my chest.

The road ahead glides out of the fog as fast as the road behind falls into it. The smile stays with me until the looming delivery van’s door opens into my path. The driver steps out and brushes past me as though he didn’t see me, as though I wasn’t even there. I sigh, breath briefly obscuring my view, but keep walking.

Home. Put the things away. Put my favourite mug by the kettle, then head back to the front door to put away my hat and shoes.

There’s that sudden sense of sparkling presence that interrupts me here sometimes; a flash of colour, an exclamation as though shouted through water. It’s gone again by the time I get back to the kitchen, but I’m not surprised to find my mug is back in the cupboard.

There’s another presence here, and I’m not sure if they’re the ghost

or I.

Monday, 28 November 2022

Building My Hunter Setting

I'm really excited to run Hunter. I've got a few of my aerial friends interested now. I'm hoping we'll find an evening we're all free so we can play. I'm figuring to start early next year.

Here's an issue I have though, and a reason I've struggled with Hunter in the past: having played various of the WoD supernatural creatures, I have great sympathy with them that means it's hard for me to make them the bad guys. Especially werewolves. I really loved playing Werewolf.

My setting is my take on Aberrheidol, a dark version of my uni town and used in various games run by my friends from there. My version has a few places from my home town as well, the library I grew up with, the pub/club where I had one of my first jobs (and that was a significant place in the Buffy game I played in that was my very first exposure to TTRPG's), and probably the climbing centre that holds our aerial circus school. I might attach it to the swimming pool; I'm not likely to put it on campus.

I don't know what sort of characters I'll have among my players. I'm going to give them support and freedom; I'm excited about it. Also, my usual GM has agreed to show up occasionally. I will run it by him, but I'd like him to play an experienced Hunter who can sometimes drag them along when he needs backup, or something like that.

Among the major NPC's, I've a few ideas. I need to read the book in a bit more depth, though. 

For antagonists, I think they'll start with a degree of ghostbusting before we move onto more fearsome foes. I've been listening to The Witch Farm (and other Danny Robins ghostly podcasts), and this is giving me lots of inspiration.

I'd like some kind of metaplot/end game/bigger bad so that maybe they need to befriend or at least work with supernatural creatures from time to time, but I don't know what that could be yet, so maybe we'll just run monster of the week for a while until I have a better idea.

Wish me (and them!) luck!

Monday, 21 November 2022

Aerial and life update

The strongest image I have of myself at the moment is a phoenix egg. I burnt down to ashes, and now I'm working on my rebirth. Eggs and hatchlings are extremely vulnerable, and I'm trying to protect myself to ensure my rebirth is successful and my next phoenix-stage thrives. I'm doing what I can, and the rest relies on external factors.

Hello, my name is Fern, and I'm surviving.

Life is hard for nearly everyone at the moment. If you're struggling, you're not alone. I see you. I care.

Aerial is one of the ways I'm looking after myself. I preferred hoop (lyra) when I started circus, but during lockdown, when I spent so much time playing in fabric because I was limited to what I had at home (I have borrowed a hoop, but its heavy and the toddler - who has recently informed me he wants to be known as Zigzag rather than Ziggy when I talk about him online - prefers the hammock), something in me clicked with the fabric, and now I love both equally. When things opened up more and I started teaching again, I'm not teaching far more silks than hoop, and I'm loving it.

Have some photos. Here is proof I have potential to be ok. 

 





Look after yourself. Look after your tribe. Be safe, keep going.

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

Running Hunter

I haven't run a game since uni, and only ever run a handful of sessions. But I want to introduce new people to TTRPG's and I want to run games for them that might bring them the same pleasure playing brings me.

I don't know if it will work. I haven't the experience to bring the skill to running games as yet, and also playing is one of my biggest Special Interests, so I'm not sure other people can even get as much out of these games as I can. 

I'm going to try, though. I'm going to run Hunter. I feel confident in White Wolf systems; I like rolling all those dice, and I like the flexibility of creating dice pools. I have played in Hunter before, but a long, long time ago. This gives me an idea of how it can feel (although we were playing within a wider World of Darkness where we were also werewolves and vampires).

I've got a good setting in mind, my take on a town called Aberrheidol (a name that may be familiar to some of my uni friends). It's a coastal Welsh town, with a ruined castle and a pier and hills and woodlands and all sorts of cool things. I'm transplanting a few landmarks from other places too. It's a location I know well, so I think that will help.

I've got a few ideas for NPC's, and I think a plothook for the first adventure, but I'm not especially set in stone there. I'm looking forward to the book arriving to do more on this. On which note, I never treat myself but I looked in my PayPal and it was the exact right amount for the book so it was a great justification to treat myself and I'm so excited.

No idea how we're going to organise when we're playing, or even a full list of who I'm inviting. They need to want to play the way I want to run and also have free time when I do. However, I refuse to let this be a pipedream; I insist on bringing it to reality.

There will be more to follow...


Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Introducing Summer

 I'm a day late, sorry!

 I haven't written about my games in ages, and I feel bad about that. I love sharing the stories we create, and showing off the depth of effort my usual GM puts in. I know it's partly for himself, but I feel honoured and flattered by the amount of thought and care he puts into the worlds the stories are built from - the NPC's feel like real people, the places feel so detailed and the depth of lore. I'm grateful to have that and want to boast about it.

So here is Summer. She's a Scion in the same world as Ragna, and we've been playing this for about a year (now swapped back into Exalted).

Summer Safia Reed

Summer is the daughter of two Archaeologists, Yusef and Safia Reed. They are an older couple who didn't think they would be able to have children, both British-born with Egyptian ancestry. Summer was a surprise arrival while they were on an excavation in Egypt. (During the game, Summer will learn that they are not her biological parents, but she was gifted to them and placed in their care by her actual parent, Thoth. I like the image that she was in a large egg he had created, but this hasn't been confirmed.) She has long dark hair and grey eyes, a mediterranean hue to her skin. She's tall for her gender, broad shouldered - as the game progresses and she builds more muscle, she moves into an Amazonian physique.

Her childhood was spent travelling the world, as different digs called on her parents' multiple expertises. This has given her a great knowledge of a wide range of cultures, and a good knowledge of history and mythology. (She will later learn the reason they moved so much was to keep her safe, that the digs were sponsored by the same group, the Watchers of Thoth, a group loyal to her father so sworn to protect her.) She learnt first aid helping after site accidents (which she will later realise were attacks she'd been sheltered from; they'd always move on after). She's always picked up certain items that have called to her, given her a sense of something else, almost synaesthetic. A bowl that feels like it's filled with water even empty, a rock that warms her as though sat by a fire. She also collects things that she just likes, but these items are particularly special.

They eventually settle in Salisbury. She finishes school, initially struggling with the very different experience but obtaining high marks and securing a place at Oxford to study English Literature. She's a Tolkien fangirl, a little obsessive, so she wants to specialise in the areas he taught. Completes her degree and comes back to Salisbury. She doesn't have friends in the area, stays in touch with those she made at uni via social media. She played and ran Pathfinder while at uni, and continues intermittently online but it isn't consistent. She has an active Twitter life and enjoys WoW. She has a part time job as a shop assistant in a little new age place run by a non-binary person who doesn't give her any strange sensation but she likes anyway. They run the store in a relaxed manner, opening it when omens feel good and leaving it shut when they seem bad - Summer suspects it has more to do with when they want a lie in. Very few of the items set of her spidey-sense, but occasionally one will and she will usually try to collect it.

 Her most precious items are a pen with a feathered end, and a reusable coffee cup with Tolkien-elven writing on it.

The game begins the day she notices the river is a bit weird, and she runs into someone else who's noticed the same - Adel Walker, played by my usual co-conspirator.

Monday, 31 October 2022

Happy Hallowe'en

On the day of the dead, when the year too dies,
Must the youngest open the oldest hills
Through the door of the birds, where the breeze breaks.
There fire shall fly from the raven boy,
And the silver eyes that see the wind,
And the light shall have the harp of gold.

By the pleasant lake the Sleepers lie,
On Cadfan’s Way where the kestrels call;
Though grim from the Grey King shadows fall,
Yet singing the golden harp shall guide
To break their sleep and bid them ride.

When light from the lost land shall return,
Six Sleepers shall ride, six Signs shall burn,
And where the midsummer tree grows tall
By Pendragon’s sword the Dark shall fall.

Y maent yr mynyddoedd yn canu,
ac y mae’r arglwyddes yn dod. 
 
 ~ Susan Cooper, The Dark Is Rising series

I love this poem so much. I don't know exactly why, but from the very first time I read that opening line, I was hooked. Every Hallowe'en, it rises unbidden and I must seek it out and read it again. I'm certain I've shared it here before, but have it again. And if you haven't read the series it's from, go! Go now, and find Over Sea, Under Stone and read it. I know it's meant for children and it's mostly adults who read my book, but go read it now with your child eyes. I hope it stirs something in you like it did me.
 
It's the third book in the series, The Green Witch, that captivates me the most. The dream-like sequence with Jane under water with the witch. It haunts me. 
 
I love liminal things, being at the edges. I love to stand on the sand with the sea washing my toes, or dipping them into the stream beneath the trees, or to stand in the depths of a woodland, at the boundary between civilisation and wildness, between reality and possibility.
 
I've always felt a very liminal person. Today is the day of the dead, the day the veil thins and we can almost caress our dead loved ones. Death, being dead, has always frightened me. One part of my brain accepts that after death comes nothingness, a lack of existence, and that terrifies me more than I can bear. But I have other parts of me too, and I have learnt to let them talk, to let them soothe the fear so I can still breathe, still think. Parts of me that aren't afraid of death, but fascinated by it. Parts of me that wish they could be a Ferryman.
 
To try and help me deal with my fear of my own mortality, my Dad explained to me that one of the roles of the Hindu Goddess I was named for, my middle name, Kali, is death, is a psychopomp. The word appealed to me: a spirit or other divine being who guides a soul from one life, one state of being, to the next (that I, a white western woman, am named with Celtic and Hindu influences, is something I sometimes feel I need to address for concerns of cultural appropriation. I will leave it, for fear of overexplaining, with that a dear friend of my mother is Hindu).
 
I'd like to be both a doula and a death doula, someone who spends time with a person entering the world, and leaving it. I think it's why the Witches are my favourite Discworld characters: I immediately understood that was a role of theirs.
 
Hallowe'en is a day for reflecting on death, and Death, and other worlds. It's a day for considering who we are, and who we want to be. Death in Tarot doesn't necessarily mean the end of life, rather it represents change, the end of a stage. It is paired with the hope of rebirth, in some form.
 
Covid has shifted the world, and the world is trying to realise itself again. It could go in many directions. Some of the most hopeful have already been closed off, but at my core I'm an optimist.
 
I've always felt in a liminal state, torn between possibilities. I feel as though I may be starting to peel through them to find the balance point, the place where I'm meant to be.