Kathryn Flaherty

Writer, Reader, Truck Driver and Fairy Floss Maker

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The New Way

This week I have realised that I am old fashioned. I believe that a handshake is a good as a contract and that when you have supported something for 3 generations it means something.

I am onsite at a Agricultural and Horticultural Show in NSW (county fair), my family has worked at this show for 65 of it’s 101 year history. When we arrived here on Monday everything was fine, Tuesday morning was another story. The site for my food van was gone. That’s fine, it does happen occasionally. I didn’t cause waves and was willing to move until I was told my site was gone forever. When I mentioned how long we have supported the show I was told this is year 1. It doesn’t matter that I watched my Nan when she worked here, or that I helped my mum when it was her turn. It doesn’t matter how many years the show has been washed out and we didn’t earn enough to cover our site rent which we still paid. All the history I thought was here is gone in one spiteful sentence by someone who I don’t believe has even attended the show as a patron.

This person is new to the committee with radical new ideas, one of which is cutting off the access from the stables to the show ring/arena. I guess he doesn’t want to watch the show jumping. The demolition derby cars have no access either so it is going to be a boring derby.

This one man is only one man out of a committee of people, they rest of the committee are horrified by the way he is acting. The Office Ladies have been in tears when Dad has gone in to see them but no one is stopping Mr Nasty. It’s his way or get lost. But for me his way was a direct order to get lost, I’m was stuffed either way.

I have my site, I was part of a group that was told to continue on like nothing has happened and Mr Nasty doesn’t exist. He is probably a nice person at home when he isn’t trying to channel the Dark Side.

I hope this isn’t reading as a whinge or gripe, I’m just worn out by a hideous week full of nastiness. I thought that the world was different and people appreciated a shared history and supported each other. I know that not everyone is like this man but right now he seems to be everywhere and last week my cousin had to dealt with his spiritual twin sister. Fun!

I don’t think I like this new way of doing business and I can only hope that these people realise the damage they are doing to their communities by refusing to listen to anyone else.

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Mermaids May Be Related To Harpies

While looking up mermaids for a story I’m working on I found a strange legend. I love a good mermaid story, the original ending of Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid is one of my all time favourites. For a possible start to the legend I like the idea of a bunch of horny sailors seeing a Dugong. But that has nothing to do with what I just read. I felt like reading something totally over the top crazy so I cracked open a book on Greek Mythology. The Greeks probably didn’t invent the idea of mermaids but they gave them an awesome origin story.

You can choose which one to start with.

A-They were Persephone’s handmaids who allowed their mistress to be kidnapped by Pluto/Hades.

B- They were the Daughters of the river Achelous and the Muses.

C- They were born from the blood which spurted out when Hercules ripped the Horn of Plenty from Achelous’s head.

D- They were Daughter’s of Aphrodite.

After their birth they didn’t have tails or fins or serpentine coils. They had legs and were fair of face until they royally pissed off one of the gods or goddesses. Then they got cursed with claws as strong as a lions and wings. Yep, mermaids had wings which they used to swoop down on people and carry them away. That sounds a bit like harpies to me.

Now some of these winged beings got into a singing contest with the Muses and being a bit dumb they won. You would think being cursed would be enough of a stay away warning. But not for our future mermaids, nope they sang, they won and had their wings torn from their backs by the Muses. Their feathers ended up in a good home, the Muses used them to make themselves new crowns. A nice way to say we’re the best and see what happens if you think otherwise.

Without their wings these women sought refuge in the waves of the ocean, some died by throwing themselves from their rocks and turning to stone in the water. The others after they finished turning the ocean to salt with their tears grew into the mermaids we know.

I don’t know if this is true to one of the original myths or legends or just a made up story that someone used to fill up the mermaid section in their book. Either way I like the idea of early mermaids have a harpy like appearance and possibly being a bit vindictive as well as kind of stupid.

This post is a few weeks late. I didn’t do very well with trying to post every week. In my defence I have been in the middle of a lot of rain for the past few weeks. The work site I was at was flooded twice so sitting in front of the computer was the last thing on my to do list.

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Faeries, Fairies or Fae

It’s been a busy week but I’m here again and it’s still Thursday for a few more hours. I was planning on starting a series of posts on the Legends of Camelot but I didn’t leave myself enough time. I guess my trashing of Lancelot can wait a bit longer. Instead I grabbed a random book and flicked through a few pages. The book is ‘Dragons, Little People, Fairies, Trolls and Elves by Edouard Brasey. It’s a beautiful book even if I have lost the dust cover and a lot of the pages are dog eared.

While flicking through my eyes caught one heading that read ‘The origin of faeries’. Now I thought that looks interesting. When I’m reading a book I tend to get a feel for it whith how they refer to the faeries. If I see fairy I expect it to be a little winged being flitting about maybe causing mischief. For faery or faerie I want to see the courts. Both winter and summer fighting for power. But when it comes to the fae I looking for massive power plays, life and death struggles between the light and the dark with the fate of the world at stake.

Now according to this book the word faery comes from the Latin word Fata which means the Fates. Now the Fates were the most powerful of the gods. Sure they didn’t have awesome adventures or fought in any battles, but everyone, mortal or god was bound by the threads they wove or spun depending on the pantheon. I can’t see little winged creatures being named after the Fates but I can see the fae being their distant child. The power they revel in, and the way they toy with mortal lives as if part of a game. Yeah, I can see them as a child of the Fates.

Fata the book also says means fairy in Italian. I’m not sure about that as I don’t speak Italian and I’m too lazy to google a translation.

Fairies could just be a modern take on the nature spirits, nymphs and dryads that fill the pages of mythology. Maybe the reason the legends have them playing tricks on humans or stealing them away is because they were sick and tired of the gods using them as play things in their previous incarnations.

As a final thought you have spring, summer , autumn/fall and winter faeries so why only a winter and summer court?

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I’ve had the Black Dog at the Door.

The infamous Black Dog has been sniffing around my door. It’s a horrible companion, it doesn’t want to go for walks or to cuddle up while I read a book. It just wants to come in and lounge around, occasionally staring at the roof or a wall. It likes to have music playing to drown out the silence that creeps in from the edges. It drains away everything that matters until all you can do is get through each day.

He never got all the way in. The door was too thick or maybe it was my head. I know he is still in the shadows wanting to come closer. It’s time to make my life bright again so the shadows stay as far away as I can make them.

Alright, I got that out of my system. Life hasn’t been overly friendly lately and I kind of shut down and stopped doing everything I enjoy. I haven’t even been able to reread some of my favourite books. Even visiting Barsoom and John Carter couldn’t fix things, which meant things weren’t well in my little world.

I meant to update this blog weekly and I managed it, if I change one of the e’s to an a (weakly). Bad joke I know, but it’s true. This blog is going to be my get out of this Funk lifeline. I am going to a have a weekly deadline that I have to fill. I’ll probably go down in flames but it’s better then letting that mongrel dog near me again. This is going up on a Thursday so that will be the day. See you next week.

PS I’m also trying to crochet a jacket. It’s going to be ugly, it’s complicated, it’s cutting into my writing time and I think it might be a life jacket in disguise.

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Review – Emergence by John Birmingham

I read 12 books in January and this book was my favourite. Well favourite isn’t a strong enough word, I lend books to friends and family after I’ve read them but no one is getting their hands on my copy of ‘Emergence’ or as it’s also called ‘The Dave book one’. I let a cousin have a look at it a few days ago at work and I told him I would hunt him down if he took it home.

The book starts of with the main character Dave Hooper on his way back to the oil rig he works on. He has a hangover after blowing a 6 month bonus on hookers, booze and hooch. The IRS is after him and his soon to be ex-wife is a nightmare. His life is well and truly up shit creek and he lost his paddle a while ago. The only thing going well is his job, he knows he’s good at it and he enjoys it.

Before the helicopter drops him off they get a message about a fire on the rig. Now all the fun starts and it’s only page 10. The fire isn’t caused by a mechanical fault or terrorists, it’s caused by the hunting party of Urgon Htoth Ur Hunn, BattleMaster of the Fourth Legion. Dave faces off against Urgon with the help of a splitting maul and manages to beat the demon. It helped that Urgon was drunk. Somehow by killing Urgon Dave becomes a typical high fantasy hero with an enchanted weapon, super strength and sheer awesomeness. He is still in the modern world and has to deal with a military who don’t know what to do with him and strange memories that keep popping up. No body can explain what happened on the rig and it was only the start.

This book is not PC, Dave isn’t a character who apologises over who he is and he strays true to himself throughout the book.It’s the first in a trilogy with all three books coming out this year if everything goes to plan. On his blog -Cheeseburgergothic- John Birmingham says he is treating these books like a TV show. The first trilogy is basically season one, he wrote all three back to back and he is now working on season two, the next trilogy. It’s going to be nice not have to wait over a year for the next instalment and I think it will help keep the pacing of the series consistent.

This book started with ‘splosions finished with bigger ‘splosions and had plenty of ‘splosions in the middle. Dave Hooper might not be the best person in the world but he is all the world has between it and the Horde. And I should mention the Horde has Dragons.

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A Double-Ton for AntipodeanSF

It’s February and that means it’s AntipodeanSF’s 17th year anniversary. I know 17 years is an odd number to celebrate but it also means my favourite magazine has reached 200 issues. That is amazing for any online magazine let alone one that specialises in speculative fiction.

I first found AntipodeanSF while I was looking through an issue of The Australian Writers Marketplace. It was listed in the magazine/sci fi section and I was hooked after my first glance. Sci Fi had a new name, Speculative Fiction, and for me it was a perfect fit. I subscribed to the email list and as soon as Nuke (the editor) announced a new issue I jumped straight over and devoured it.

I sent in a submission on a dare from a friend. I want to be a writer but I don’t think I’m any good. I figured I’d get a rejection slip and it would be the first in my writing folder. Well that didn’t happen, Nuke accepted my story with a few editorial changes and a couple of pointers. I was over the moon to begin with then I was nervous. I never expected my first submission anywhere to be accepted. I thought I would get at least a dozen rejections first.

It was a while between my first and second submission. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and on the advice of my GP I travelled overseas and saw Machu Pichu and Mt Everest while I was still fit, before the RA spread to my knees. Every spare minute for a couple of years was occupied with hiking up and down water towers carrying a full backpack for training.

My second submission was a 50 worder. I had done an online writing course and made a friend who liked the idea. I polished it up and thought this time I’ll get my rejection. I didn’t, instead Nuke told me he had no editorial quibbles. My first reaction was damn, how am I going to top that. So with my next submission (another 50 worder) I sweated over it, then decided I’ve got to be third time unlucky. Nope, he liked that one as well. I’m know I’m going to get my rejection soon, I think I might have to send him a real stinker just to get the monkey off my back.

I’ve met Nuke, I’ll probably stick in his memory forever as the only writer to chase him down with a bucket of fairy floss as a bribe for future submissions. In real life he is as nice as his editorials read, I feel privileged to have met him and Elizabeth.

I made it into the 200th issue. It’s called When No One Remembers and you can read it here.  It has two iconic Australian characters in it. One of them is a Bunyip and the other has clues to his identity. If you’re an Aussie you should guess it but if you can’t let me know.

Oh I nearly forgot, for people who don’t like cricket, a double-ton (tonne) is slang for 200 but how can anyone not like cricket it has a position called ‘silly mid on’ what more can you need to make a sport awesome.

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Did Humpty Dumpty have a Yolk full of gunpowder?

I love to read. My family often complains that if something has print then I have to stop and read it. That’s probably why I have an odd collection of non-fiction books. One of my favourites is  Pop Goes the Weasel by Albert Jack. This is a book detailing the history behind some of the best known nursery rhymes. There are 88 nursery rhymes listed with 11 traditional songs and anthems.

I have a few favourites in the nursery rhyme section, one of which is Humpty Dumpty. Some sources dispute what Pop goes the Weasel claims is the truth behind the rhyme, I’d like to believe it was true.

Albert Jack says the Humpty Dumpty was the nickname of a cannon positioned on the church tower of St Mary-at-the-Walls during the Siege of Colchester in the English Civil War of 1642-1651. The gunner was named  One-eyed Thompson and he helped hold off the invading Roundheads for 11 weeks. Until the enemy managed to blow away the top of the church tower causing Humpty Dumpty to have a great fall.

I can imagine how difficult it would have been to try and fix a cannon during a siege when it had been one of the main defenders of the town. The invading force would have had an uplift of morale while you can imagine what the poor blokes trying to deal with Humpty felt. It think misery or despair wouldn’t have even come close.

I’ve enjoyed Humpty Dumpty since I was little. I can probably blame it on Benita from Playschool. I loved watching her play with the Humpty Dumpty doll when I watched the show.

If this is the truth it makes the new politically correct version my niece sings a bit strange.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

all the kings horses and all the kings men

gave him a hug and made it better again.