The Little Country in music

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Charles de Lint is one of my all-time favourite authors. A master of urban fantasy, he is responsible for such masterpieces as Greenmantle, Moonheart and the much beloved The Little Country.

The Little Country is a magical novel set in the fishing village of Mousehole, Cornwall, about folk musician Janey Little’s discovery of a strange book in her grandfather’s trunk.

It’s one of my favourite novels, not least because it features its own original music scores in the back of the book which, until now, had gone largely unheard. I loved it so much I set off for Mousehole many years ago and tracked down the row of cottages that inspired the setting.

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Enter Zahatar, an acoustic string band from the US that is busy fundraising on Kickstarter so it can put out an album of distinctive arrangements of Celtic tunes from Charles de Lint’s The Little Country.

We want to have the opportunity to record an album version of The Little Country song cycle, which began as single melody lines in the appendix of one of Charles de Lint’s urban fantasy novels from the early 90’s. These tunes had never before been arranged for string band in their entirety, until now.

Zahatar recently held a sold-out performance of the song cycle, and recording an album is our next endeavor. Every step of the way, our project has been endorsed by Charles de Lint, and we are forever thankful to him for allowing us the rights to bring these tunes to life from the pages of his wondrous book.

We love playing Celtic music, and The Little Country is a project that’s very near and dear to us. We want to share this experience with the world!

If you have some pocket money, I can’t think of a better present for your Christmas stocking than this album, and maybe the t-shirt as well!

I hope the many fans of Charles de Lint’s The Little Country are drawn to support this wonderful undertaking. I know I will be.

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The progess so far…

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It’s hard work to keep a blog going when you’re working fulltime and writing in every other spare minute.

And yet, this blog is my rudder, keeping me on course for the year and, more importantly, keeping me honest where my personal Short Story Challenge is concerned.

So what do I have to show for 2014?

One standalone short story, Army Dreamers, published to Amazon’s Kindle store, partly as an experiment. It will also feature in Tales of the Damned, an anthology from CFZ Press due out later this year.

Three connected short stories, one of which – For Fear of Little Men – has been entered into a writing competition. The stories explore the dark side of having faeries for neighbours, but will stay under wraps for the time being until I know the outcome of the competition. Judging takes place in June, so stay tuned!

ADAnother standalone short story, All Hail the Queen, is about the proverbial new girl at school and her newfound and somewhat unhealthy obsession with beekeeping. I’m presently finalising this one for publication – prepare to feel its sting!

A third short story, Last Request, is in the final stages. It’s the tale of a struggling musician who takes on what seems like an easy-paying gig, but may just end up being the one paying – with her soul! Cue maniacal laughter…

On the side I have been working hard to bring a non-fiction anthology of essays to publication – The Tasmanian Tiger: Extinct or Extant? – which explores the case for and against the continuing existence of the Thylacine. It should be published by July.

So while I feel I could have been more productive in the first half of the year after hours, I’m not doing too badly.

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Entering competitions

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As if I won’t be busy enough this year with my personal short story writing challenge, I have also set myself a personal challenge to enter four short story writing competitions in 2014.

Crazy! But there’s a method to the madness.

For many years I have jotted down the details of various writing competitions and, in well-meaning fashion, committed them to my diary so that I won’t forget to enter.

The only problem with this approach is forgetting to write the actual story!

So while this year I have, once again, committed various dates to my diary, the difference is I am now actively working towards these deadlines.

And it’s a mixed bag of literary, fantasy and crime – there’s nothing like genre hopping to keep you on your toes.

I have already finished my first entry, a fantasy tale – For Fear of Little Men – but I’m unable to share it for now due to the entry guidelines, at least until I find out how I fare. But I can tell you it’s full of very bad faeries. The good news is my volunteer readers love it, so I am submitting it this week.

Bon voyage little story! I hope you make a great first impression. And if you don’t, well, you might just end up as part of my short story anthology.

I’ll let you know how I go.

Short Story Challenge 2014

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Hello 2014!

I’ve decided to welcome in the new year by starting a blog, and setting myself a particular writing challenge – writing a short story a month.

But not only writing a story a month, but having it edited and publishing it via Amazon’s Kindle program. That’s 12 stories in 12 months, ranging in wordage from 2500-7000 a piece – potentially 80,000-odd words or roughly a book’s worth of stories. The other part of this equation involves publishing an anthology of these stories at the end of the year.

It’s a tall order, and perhaps that’s why I’m nailing my colours to the mast now – I need a public platform to keep me honest!

Along the way I’ll be sharing my writing approach, tips and general advice (no tricks – this will be 100% blood, sweat and tears).

I have quite a few other writing projects on the boil this year, but writing short stories on a regular basis (and blogging about it) is all about reforming my writing practises – and setting up some good long-term habits.

As a self-described ‘binge writer’, I’m looking to replace weekly streams of consciousness with structured daily writing.

Working 9-5, my free time is finite, so I will be using mornings commuting and ‘Library Saturdays’ to pen and polish my stories in preparation for publication. Hmmm, that’s a lot of Ps!

Kicking off January is Army Dreamers, my short horror story about a group of soldiers who encounter an ancient and deadly enemy in the Australian outback.

Oh, and did I mention the anthology will be a mixture of horror and fantasy? Well now I have.

Let me know what you think.