Of breast cancer and cryptids and what makes us angry by Cheryl Sonnier

I didn’t know I had breast cancer when I wrote, Investigating the Sea-Hag Menace, in early April this year.

I didn’t have the routine Mammogram until mid-June, a month and a half after Improbable Press accepted the story. A couple of weeks later, I was called back for more tests, and on 2nd August I had a mastectomy on my right side. It all happened so quickly, in a whirl of disbelief, anger and grief; I didn’t have time to think about the story and implications until afterwards.

Then, I began to suspect that when people who knew about the breast cancer read the story, they would assume that the line below from the story’s narrator is autobiographical:

‘I wonder what the scars from my mastectomy would look like, covered in those glimmering scales, and whether Tim would be able to look at them without pity clouding his eyes.’

Women’s writing is often assumed to be autobiographical, rather than an attempt to understand how someone else might react in any given situation. As it happens, I did have breast cancer and – looking at my own still-vivid scar – I think a set of glimmering sea-hag scales would look bloody marvellous. But I didn’t know about the cancer when I wrote the story, unless my body was subconsciously trying to let me know. If so, I’m sorry body; I completely missed the clue. Thank goodness for routine mammograms.

My husband isn’t called Tim, either and he hasn’t once looked upon me with pity. In fact, an important part of the healing process, of coming to terms with the drastic change in my body, has been laughing with him about how we are now even more a matched pair. Him with his long, vertical heart surgery scar and me with my long, horizontal mastectomy scar.

We are older, though, he and I, and we have never had much time for the superficial. When the consultant surgeon asked me how I felt about having the mastectomy, my reaction was, ‘I’m gutted, but at least it isn’t an arm, or a leg.’ If I’d been younger, though, my reaction may well have been different. We are constantly expected to live up to an image of womanhood seen on social media and in advertising. It’s not a true image (so many are filtered and touched up), but it’s one that so many young women grow up feeling they should aspire to all the same. For me, losing a breast was hard. There’s a nine-inch scar; part of me is missing and until I got my wonderful prosthetic, it was a huge knock to my self-confidence. But I’m at that ‘invisible’ age, where my appearance no longer matters to men in general (something I explored in my story, ‘What You Wish For,’ in The Invisible Collection from Nightjar Press). Losing a breast while the pressure is still on for a woman to be attractive to men must be devastating.

It shouldn’t be that way. We should not be valued for our appearance above all else. It’s one of society’s ‘norms’ that has always made me angry both as a woman, and as the mother of a daughter. There are so many other injustices that make women angry. Investigating the Sea-Hag Menace explores some of them and will be included in Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging Volume Blue, due out in December 2021 and available for pre-order now.

Cheryl Sonnier is a part time MFA student at Manchester Writing School. She lives in Leeds with her husband and two cats.

Publications include, Nightjar Press, Wyldblood Publications, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, Five Elements Anthology, Plasma Frequency, Dark Futures, Roadworks: Tales From the Hard Road, Cemetery Sonata, QWF.

This blog post reprinted with permission.

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You Can Do It – An author walks the Camino by Kari Sperring

I have to admit it; I’m concerned about Gaetan. Not worried, precisely — it’s not that strong a feeling — but I cannot but wonder. Did he make it all the way? Did he cope with the long slog up to the Cruz de Ferro, or the narrow rocky path after El Acebo? And what did he make of that muddy ford below Riego. He hasn’t said, and I’d like to know, just in case. I’ve been reading about him since somewhere around Astorga and I want to know.

I picture him as a first or second year undergraduate, 18 or 19 – 20 at most – and, like many young men that age, still catching up to himself in terms of growth. He trips over his own feet still, not entirely used to the length of his legs, and prone to knocking things off desks with his elbows. He watches the football with his friends, of course, but was never that keen on it at school – he prefers computer games or swimming – and he’s not really used to long distance walking. But all his friends want to walk the Camino this summer, and he’s known most of them since primary school, and, well, he really wants to walk with them, all these up and down miles to Santiago.

I don’t know where he started from. With his name he’s probably French, but there’s a chance he’s Spanish or even German and his parents just liked the sound of it. Perhaps, like so many pilgrims on the Camino Frances, he started at St Jean Pied-de-Port in the French Pyrenees and has already made his way over those steep mountains. Perhaps, like many locals, he began at Roncevalles or Pamplona. Perhaps, like Karen and me, he began in Burgos. I don’t know. I just know he’s somewhere, walking these same paths as we are, and his friends are sending encouragement via notes on way posts and signs. They write them in multiple languages – Spanish and Italian and French and Portuguese.  His friends are polyglots or else from multiple countries and they care about him, even though, clearly, he has somehow fallen behind.

It’s August in Spain and hitting the middle 30s by early afternoon. Pilgrims rise early, walking out of small villages and towns at 6 or 7 in the morning, to get in as many kilometres as possible before the heat sets in. I’m here with my friend Karen, who has walked the Camino by several routes before, and we are only doing part of it this year – on foot from Burgos in the province of Castile y Leon to O Cebreiro on the edge of Galicia. It’s around 200 km, all told – about a quarter of the total route from St Jean to Santiago. It’s Karen’s favourite section and we’re doing it in short stages, because right now she isn’t very well. For the first week – the hottest, as it turns out – my partner Phil is with us too and we walk along the dusty paths of the Meseta Central, the great central plain, where, according to Alan Jay Lerner, the rain mainly falls.

Not in August (though, having been there in November and December on other trips I have got very wet indeed walking up to ruined castles). It’s arid and shadeless, wide fields of grain and sunflowers, though not always as flat as the name suggests. Villages are few, and of those we reach, many seem half-deserted, houses dozing behind shuttered windows. In Burgos, we got our Credencials  — pilgrim passports – stamped in the great cathedral – before we began the first day’s walk. Now we are collecting new stamps, from occasional cafes and overnight small hotels and albergues. Hontanas, Castrojeriz, Boadilla, Fromista… In Castrojeriz Phil and I leave Karen at a bar and climb up in the full heat of the day to the great castle that towers over the town. Below, the plain spreads out on all sides, hazy in the afternoon light. Walking into Fromista, we spot an otter playing in the waters of the canal. Karen and I photograph wildflowers, with the vague intention of asking someone later what they are. I wonder, later, how Gaetan coped with the meseta and the long hot days, but at that point I haven’t yet heard of him.

Phil has to fly home, so we fast forward by road to Leon, with another cathedral, and a welcome hotel with air-conditioning. Then it’s onwards again, just Karen and I now, for another three weeks. She has seen these places before, and our walk is illustrated by her memories of who she met, what happened, what has changed. She likes the great skies and open spaces of the meseta: I meanwhile have developed a need to see as many of the churches on the route that are open. The Camino is, after all, a walk through time as well as space: these paths, these churches and villages persist, rocks in an endless river of pilgrims. We are tiny, in their memories: I find that oddly soothing as I walk. There is no rush, here. There is no need to feel burdened by huge matters of politics or society, or, at least, to feel personally responsible for solving them all the time. What there is is time: time less to think (though that element is there) than simply to be, breathing and walking and blending into the wider world. Villar de Mazarife, Villavante, Hospital d’Orbigo, Astorga. The Camino, says Karen, throws challenges, and in Astorga we find ours, with a mix up over hotel bookings. The town has pretty buildings and some wonderful ice cream, but I am unfairly pleased to see the back of it.

And that is where we meet – or, at least, encounter – Gaetan. His name is written in black pen on one of the signs that mark the route.  Benga, Gaetan, benga! Come on, Gaetan, you can do it. Somewhere over the last days, he has fallen behind his companions. It’s a long way from St Jean or Roncesvalles to Astorga, and he has blisters or shin splints, or maybe picked up an infection, and the others had to move on ahead. But they know he’s still walking, and even as they cover their own miles, they send him encouragement. Vas-y, Gaetan, vas-y. From here on, we see the messages almost daily, words of kindness and help for one man which somehow cheer us, too.

There are a huge number of books about the Camino. Nearly everyone who walks it blogs or journals, so it seems. In Villafranca del Bierzo, we meet a young man who is collecting answers from other pilgrims in a small notebook. Why are we here? What do we want from our caminos? What is the meaning of life. He’s serious and charming, and will go to a monastery once he finishes his walk. I am here to learn stillness, I write, and to teach myself patience. I don’t know about meaning, but it helps to be kind. I am here to try and let go of some of my own bad patterns. After Leon, the Camino leaves the meseta and starts to climb; the days are cooler, but the paths are noticeably steeper, too. In the mountains above Foncebadon, the route passes the Cruz de Ferro, the iron cross, where pilgrims traditionally leave a pebble brought from home. Some bear messages in ink, commemorating loved ones. Some are plain. I bring a small piece of flint from near where I live now and place it down in symbol of something I no longer wish to carry. Karen speaks her words as she places her stone; I am silent. To each their own. Somewhere, I think, as we climb down the piled stones below the cross, Gaetan too has left his token.

Our last walking day, I walk alone: this last section is steep and Karen’s feet are painful. I’m out early: as I walk out of Las Herrerias, I pass other pilgrims eating breakfast in cafes, or fastening their boots. The path winds up through trees: another older woman and I pass each other multiple times and smile and wave. She is from Madrid, but studied in Cambridge where I live. I don’t get her name, but I meet her again that night in a bar. There’s nothing open at the top of the first steep section, but after the next, the bar-albergue in La Laguna is open and every other pilgrim I met that morning stops there for coffee or water or beer. An elderly German cyclist asks me to take a photo of him and his mountain bike, to commemorate the climb. And there, on the edge of the village, that familiar black writing, this time in English, Come on, Gaetan, come on.

I hope he made it, not just up that particular steep path, but beyond, on through Galicia to Santiago itself. I picture him in the square in front of the cathedral, his backpack on the paving beside him, laughing and smiling as he hugs his friends in triumph. You made it, Gaetan. Well done.

This is where, if I were to write a conventional camino memoir, I would point out some deeper meaning. But, as Karen says to me, several times across the walk, we each walk our own camino. Mine is not complete: I still yearn to walk those 600 missing kilometres from St Jean, on to Santiago itself. And there are other caminos: later this year I will walk the shorter Camino Ingles, from Ferrol on the northern coast of Spain. I will be looking out for Gaetan, and all his companions and friends and kin.

And, Gaetan, if you chance to read this, let me know how you got on, please. I hope it went well.

Kari Sperring is the author of two novels (Living with Ghosts [DAW 2009] and The Grass King’s Concubine [DAW 2012], the novella Serpent Rose [NewCon Press 2019] and an assortment of short stories. As Kari Maund, she has written and published five books and many articles on Celtic and Viking history and co-authored a book on the history and real people behind her favourite novel, The Three Musketeers (with Phil Nanson). She’s British and lives in Cambridge, England, with her partner Phil and three very determined cats, who guarantee that everything she writes will have been thoroughly sat upon. Her website is http://www.karisperring .com and you can also find her on Facebook. Her latest novella, Rose Knot came out from Newcon Press this summer.

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Revving Up to Publication Day by Jacey Bedford

When I was an unpublished author my single aim was to get a book published.

Then it happened. I sold my first book to DAW in 2013 for publication in 2014. That was Empire of Dust. There have been five subsequent books resulting in two completed trilogies. I never really intended to commit trilogy but if you read Juliet E McKenna’s blog post last week on why publishers like ‘more of the same but different’ you’ll realise why they like trilogies and series.

Now I’m published I have a different aim, and that’s to get as much publicity and promotion for my books as I possibly can because there are a lot of books out there and I’d like mine to get their fair share of attention.

I have a new book out soon.

I’ve just done the copy-edit check for my upcoming book, The Amber Crown. The copy editor has gone through it minutely to check for spelling mistakes, clunky prose, anything that doesn’t sound right and – of course – punctuation. I’ve done that myself, several times, of course, but another set of eyes and a keen brain never hurts. Also, because I’m published by DAW in the USA, my UK English prose has to be translated into American. I’m not confident enough in American English. I could easily miss something, so I prefer it to be done by an American English speaker. Americans always use way more commas than Brits, too, but I’m getting used to that now. I use more commas in my writing than I used to do, and I don’t overreact when I see all the added commas the copy editor has slung in there.

The next step in the process is checking the page proofs. This is the last time I will have the opportunity to make any alterations, but at the page proof stage they’d better be small alterations—the odd typo that’s been missed etc. That should happen in the next week or two.

The Amber Crown is out on 11th January 2022. It’s in trade paperback, the large format. I’m so looking forward to seeing it. It will come out in mass market paperback format at some future date. All my previous books have been in mass market paperback. It’s already up for pre-order on Amazon. This time DAW have world rights (unlike my other six books for which they only had North American rights). I’m hoping that means it’s available on Kindle in the wider territories.

I have now been introduced to my publicist, Stephanie Felty, and my marketing person, Jessica Plummer. Both of these good people are from PenguinRandomHouse, DAW’s mothership. I’m getting together a list of fellow writers who will take blog posts from me. I intend these should start to appear in December and continue into January. That’s a lot of blog posts, each one different.

I’ve only ever had a publicist for the previous books. If I had a marketing person, I didn’t know about her. I realised that I didn’t know the difference between publicity and marketing, but apparently the publicity person handles getting the book reviews, and the author interviews, and does a lot of her work before the book is published. i.e. she deals with earned promotion The marketing person deals with paid promotion, like media and print advertising, running Goodreads giveaways etc.

If anyone out there reading this would like to host either a blog post or an interview from me, please get in touch via my website at www.jaceybedford.co.uk. If anyone who reviews for magazines or book-sites, or hosts a book review blog, would like a review copy, please get in touch and I’ll pass your details along to Stephanie.

I think The Amber Crown is my best book yet, so I’m putting in every effort to get the word out there. Though sometimes… just sometimes… I look back to when I was an unpublished author and my single aim was to get a book published, and I think life was so simple then.

Jacey Bedford maintains this blog and occasionally writes for it, too. She writes science fiction and fantasy, and her novels are published by DAW in the USA. Her short fiction has been published on both sides of the Atlantic and has even been translated into an assortment of languages. She lives on the edge of Yorkahire’s Pennine Hills with her husband, songwriter Brian Bedford, and a long haired black German Shepherd (a dog not an actual shepherd from Germany). Her day job is being an agent and music-mum for a bunch of itinerant folk singers.

Web: http://www.jaceybedford.co.uk/
Twitter: @jaceybedford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jacey.bedford.writer
Blog: http://jaceybedford.wordpress.com

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More of the Same but Different by Juliet E. McKenna

Where do we find something ‘the same but different’?

This is what publishing is looking for, above all else. That’s what a commissioning editor from Pan Macmillan said, giving a talk at the very first mystery and crime weekend held at my old college, St Hilda’s, in Oxford in 1994. That stuck with me because I was working in bookselling at the time, and as she explained, it’s what retailers and readers want too: a book offering what has already worked well – which also offers something fresh. A great many things have changed about the book trade since then, but this holds true.

So far, so straightforward, but just because something is simple, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. That’s why editors continue to reject retreads of the same ideas with comments like one of the many I received before I heard that talk at St Hilda’s: “There’s nothing to distinguish this from the six other competent fantasy novels that have crossed my desk this week”. So how did I get over that hurdle and become a published author?

I found the answer by reading, but not by reading more of the epic fantasy fiction I loved – and still do. As a crime and mystery fan as well, I was enjoying the independent-minded female private eyes who were newcomers to that genre in the 1990s; VI Warshawski, Kinsey Milhone, and Kate Brannigan to name but a few. Seeing how different the themes and classic ideas of whodunnits became when seen through those women’s eyes prompted me to wonder how a similar character would fare in a epic fantasy world? The more I though about that, all sorts of interesting possibilities occurred to me. The Thief’s Gamble in 1999 was the result, and the books that followed.

This approach continues to work for me more than twenty years later. The original inspiration for The Green Man’s Heir was a throwaway line in a short story, explaining that dryads’ sons are mortal men. The more I thought about that, the more options I saw for offering urban fantasy fans a blend of the elements they enjoy with a new perspective on that genre’s core themes and conventions. Add to that, the uncommunicative lone male is a staple suspect/red herring in murder mysteries, and the crossover between crime fiction and urban fantasy is well established. So what might happen if I put that loner at the centre of the story? What difference would it make to the established template to have a male protagonist who’s the human with one foot in the supernatural world? How about setting the action out in the countryside rather than heading down those familiar mean streets?

Once again, reading offered me answers as well as further intriguing ideas. I didn’t find these reading urban fantasy though. I turned to books of old folk tales that I hadn’t looked at since I was a kid, as well as scholarly explorations of myth that I’ve never had reason to read. I was soon reminded how often a wood-cutter’s son or the youngest of three princes ends up facing a supernatural challenge. I saw how many spirits of places, trees and waters are female in British folk tales, along with a good few shapeshifters. Everything I needed for gender-flipping so many of urban fantasy’s conventions was right there in front of me. Add to that, I realised I could draw on readers’ memories of childhood fairy stories to create unconscious expectations as well as wrong-footing them when that served my purposes.

The Green Man’s Challenge is the fourth of the contemporary fantasies where I’ve combined traditional tales with the realities of modern British rural life. This time I started by rereading those old stories about giants that we encounter as kids, such as Jack the Giant-Killer, and Jack and the Beanstalk. I found puzzles I didn’t expect when I looked to see where those stories had come from. That led me to the enduring mysteries that surround the giant figures carved into England’s chalk hillsides. The age-old history of those landscapes offered still more scope for my imagination. Once again I was able to weave these threads into a story that offers ‘the same but different’, not just to urban fantasy, but to the books so far in this series. That’s just as important.

I’m already thinking about the next Green Man novel. So far I have a handful of notions. Now I’ll start looking for the books which will offer up the people, places and stories that will combine with those ideas to create something entirely new and exciting. At the moment I have no idea what I will find, but I do know it’s going to be another fascinating journey. 

Juliet E. McKenna is a British fantasy author living in the Cotswolds, UK. Loving history, myth and other worlds since she first learned to read, she has written fifteen epic fantasy novels so far. Her debut, The Thief’s Gamble, began The Tales of Einarinn in 1999, followed by The Aldabreshin Compass sequence, The Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution, and The Hadrumal Crisis trilogy. The Green Man’s Heir was her first modern fantasy rooted in British folklore in 2018, followed by The Green Man’s Foe, The Green Man’s Silence, and The Green Man’s Challenge. She writes and comments on book trade issues, has served as a judge for major genre awards, and reviews online and for magazines. She writes diverse short stories and novellas enjoying forays into darker fantasy, steampunk and SF. She has also written murder mysteries set in ancient Greece as J M Alvey.

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Milford 2021 – a report by Liz Tuckwell

Left to right: Jeremy Pak Nelson, Sue Oke, Pete Sutton, Tiffani Angus, Matt Colborn and Jim Anderson (back), Dolly Garland Trevor Jones, Jacey Bedford, Pauline Dungate, Charlotte Forfieh, Liz Williams, Terry Jackman, David Allan, Georgina Kamsika, and Liz Tuckwell.

Milford 2020 was postponed due to COVID so, we’d all been waiting a year to attend. There were ten “old hands” and five newbies. Milford tries to keep five out of the fifteen slots for new writers every year. That meant many already knew each other but everyone was very friendly and welcoming to the newbies.

There was a flurry of emails before the weekend, sorting out travel arrangements especially the all-important how to get to Trigonos from Bangor. Drivers in the group were very generous in giving lifts to people. Everyone was asked to take a test the day before or on the morning of departure so we could be sure no one had COVID.

View over the lake towards Snowdon

Trigonos is set in beautiful scenery with a lake nearby. If it’s not cloudy, which it often is, you can see Snowdon. It’s amazingly quiet there. Now I’m home, I’m really noticing the noise.

I was a little worried when I read that people bring chocolate along to the crit sessions if they’re giving a harsh crit. And when I saw the chocolate piled on the table, I got more worried. The first day is allocated to stories by writers who’ve been previously, to help the newbies understand the process. To my relief, none of the crits were harsh but thoughtful with helpful suggestions. Liz and Jacey organise the running order so most of the newbies’ stories are on the second day, so newbies don’t have too long to fret.

Crit group

It’s surprisingly tiring taking part in the critting sessions as you’re concentrating all the time and I found myself going to bed far earlier than I ever do at home. And that seemed to be the norm for most people.

The things I enjoyed most about the week were:

  • Meeting the other writers.
  • The conversations in the library at mealtimes and after dinner. I really enjoyed talking to people who too love science fiction and fantasy.
  • The markets discussion on Thursday evening and when we went round the group at Pete Sutton’s suggestion to talk about what we’d had published.
  • The book recommendations as in ‘You should read [insert name of book] it’s amazing.”

There are swings and roundabouts with the accommodation. If you’re in the house, then you can just walk downstairs to breakfast and up to bed and help yourself to tea and coffee without leaving the building, which can be a real bonus if the weather is bad. If you’re in one of the other blocks of accommodation, you have a proper shower instead of a bath with a shower attachment. This year, the weather was pretty good so, I was pleased I had one of the rooms outside the main building.

I’ve been told that every year the daily menu demonstrates what the Trigonos garden has had in abundance. This year I firmly believe it was tomatoes and kale. The centre is usually vegan and vegetarian but makes a special allowance for Milford meat eaters. It’s good at accommodating people with special dietary requirements. I think there were four or five different milks on offer!

Jeremy Pak Nelson entertained us on the last night with a couple of beautiful tunes on his violin. Jacey Bedford entertained us throughout the week with funny phrases recorded for posterity from other Milford years and some she’d collected this year. My own favourite was “It was cheap and near the docks. How was I to know it was a sex hotel?”

We were hoping to go for a group lunch to a fish restaurant on Friday, but the restaurant was already fully booked. (One of the knock-on effects of COVID) So, some of us went on a trip to Caernarvon and fish and chips. Trigonos provided a packed lunch for the rest who wanted to write or go for a walk.

The week flew by. It seemed we had only just arrived before it was time to go.

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Live from Milford 2021 – Day #6

Jacey Bedford: This is our last day at Milford. We finished the crits yesterday, so today has been a free day. I drove into Caernarfon with Terry, Liz T and Tiffani. We did a little retail therapy and had lunch at the Anglesey Arms on the waterfront, right next to Caernarfon Castle (which seems to be currently buried in building work). Pete brought Jeremy and David, who went their own way but met us in the pub at lunchtime. It was disappointing that the pub’s extensive lunch menu had been severely reduced, but we were all happy with fish and chips.

Tomorrow we all depart after breakfast, some to the road, some to trains, but it’s been a fabulous week once again. Here are the participants…

Left to right: Jeremy Pak Nelson, Sue Oke, Pete Sutton, Tiffani Angus, Matt Colborn and Jim Anderson (back), Dolly Garland Trevor Jones, Jacey Bedford, Pauline Dungate, Charlotte Forfieh, Liz Williams, Terry Jackman, David Allan, Georgina Kamsika, and Liz Tuckwell.
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Live from Milford 2021 – Day #5

Jacey Bedford: Whoo-hoo! We’ve finished all the critiques. At the beginning of the week, when it all stretched before us, it seemed as though we had so much to get through, and now it’s all behind us. Where has the time gone? Of course we all have rewrites to do. Some of us have managed to do some of it already, but mostly we’ll be taking our rewriting jobs home with us. Tomorrow we have a day off. Some people are staying at Trigonos to do more writing, but seven of us are going into Caernarfon for a little retail therapy and a pub lunch. Personally it will be my first shopping trip since March 2020, so I’m looking forward to it.

Just thought I’d share this photo with you all. They very kindly stuck our group name on the dining table. Spot the deliberate mistake.

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Live from Milford 2021 – Day #4 (part two)

Milford 2021

Jacey Bedford: We managed to get the Milford group photos taken after lunch.

We’ve had a pretty full-on day today with five crits to do in the afternoon and then the Milford AGM after dinner. We’re obliged by our constitution to hold an annual general meeting in order to report on the previous year, the current state of Milford finances, and to elect a new committee who can then deal with any other business.

Unsurprisingly the 2021 committee was re-elected to run Milford in 2022. Liz Williams is chair; Jacey Bedford is secretary, Kari Sperring is treasurer with the assistance of Phil Nanson. Also on the committee are Jim Anderson, Tiffani Angus, and outgoing chair, Dave Gullen. We were very pleased to have offers of help from several of the assembled attendees, especially with web design, social media and technical assistance.

Tomorrow is our final day of critiquing, and then on Friday we can take a day off to see something of North Wales. We don’t seem to ave been here long and already the week is almost over.

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Live from Milford 2021 – Day #4

Jim Anderson took a great photo this morning of the sun rising over the Nantlle ridge. Mount Snowdon is centre back in the far distance. It’s the first time this week that it hasn’t been obscured by clouds.

Here are some of yesterday’s sayings taken out of context, just because we can.

I appreciate Dinesh is an equal opportunity abuser.

I don’t think I could wear a pyjama cape with the same confidence you do.

We’ve got timeshare spiders.

I’ve got to admit I’ve never been a nineteen year old girl.

I have a kill list but the problem is I’d have to be invisible to carry it out.

I feel like you’ve hit the plot gas and floored it to the end.

Nuke now, ask questions later.

I always think of risk assessments. It’s disgusting. My job has ruined me.

It’s not finished, but I just stopped there.

She has sweat dripping in all sorts of unfortunate places.

Even if they’re not fucked now, they’ll be fucked in a bit.

I wanted a future relationship between man and bee.

It would bee like talking in bee.

That’s the way they get you and suck you down.

I did not sabotage the cake.

It’s worse than putting a snail on your tongue.

He’s the psychedelic Indiana Jones.

Just remember, re your fear of judgement, we’re judging you either way.

I do like the idea of the band Nine Inch Snails.

It’s OK if she’s a brunette, there are a lot of us around.

It makes me wonder how competent they are as magical beings.

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Live from Milford 2021 – Day #3

Jacey Bedford: It’s been a good day. The sun came out, and Trigonos looked lovely. The clouds lifted and we could see Mount Snowdon along the Nantlle Valley. This morning I wrote 1000 words on what is about to turn into my next new book. The crit session this afternoon went well, and now we’re stuffed full of fish pie and sitting in the library with several bottles of wine.

Jeremy Pak Nelson: When can a vegan fish pie be called a vegan fish pie? Is it a matter of a fish substitute, or is the experience what matters? Now that my two stories have been through the Milford wringer, and unimportant questions queue to fill the space vacated by the apprehensions I brought with me to Trigonos.

Terry Jackman; Vegan fish? Obvously fish that don’t eat meat [or other fish]. So it’s Tuesday, and everyone has settled in, or should I say got over the shock. It’s another year where everyone who’s come is friendly, strange how SF people are almost universally nice to each other, even if they’re saying things like ‘I am not your target market’ they manage to sound polite about it. And we haven’t, so far, heard a single ‘Shame on you!’ from Tiff. Though maybe I shouldn’t be too optimistic since some kind soul has scheduled my crit for the last day. I’m not sure it’s conducive to the peace Trigonos is meant to engender.

David Allan: An expedition to Mordor sounds like a suitable preamble to the inquisition that is a critique session at Milford. It happened today for some of us. An intrepid band of seven braved the horrors of Mordor (aka Dorothea Slate Quarry) and found it orc free – much to our relief. Actually it was rather pleasant since we had sun for the first time today. Those of us who were on the menu for the afternoon’s critiques bore up well under the strain (with suitable applications of chocolate) and can now relax and anticipate the screams of tomorrow’s victims.

Milfordites in Mordor. L – R Dolly, Jim, Pete, Liz, David, Charlotte (back) and Sue
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