Delivery | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started.

Source: Delivery | The Daily Post

 

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In 2011, before meeting up with Josh Wineera for the Irregular Warfare Summit in DC, I was working with the USAF’s Building Partnerships Team (nee Centre for Irregular Warfare) at Nellis AFB. That’s where I met John Mangan and how I got my fingerprints on this, his first novel.

Living rurally, we doing a lot of shopping online. We’ll support locally as best we can but often, greater selection and better cost win out. Online tracking means that we usually have a fair idea when a delivery is due to hit the main box so surprises are rare but nice.

Such was the case when I found this brown USPS envelope in the mailbox…rather heavy and suspiciously anonymous…I had forgotten that John had said he would send an advance copy down-under…

John asked for a hand with the Kiwi characters in his story – they appear late in the story but play key roles. Over the next six years, John and I played a game of cultural 20 Questions, the answers to which may provide background for his next novel(s). My part in the production was minor albeit over a period of years and unlikely to colour my thoughts one way or another (if anything, I am probably more likely to hold it to a higher standard because I have been involved in its development).

Bottom line up front: I liked Into a Dark Frontier. It’s a good contemporary tale; the characters are credible and well-developed and the story flows smoothly between chapters: it’s a good read in its own right. Set in an Africa not too long from now, the environment feels gritty, dirty and real.

At just over 300 pages, it is relatively short…a big plus. For me one of the marks of a good writer is that they can tell their story efficiently and economically without pages of back-story or monologue. I did think the beginning a little brief until I realised that it imparted all the reader needed to know about the main protagonist’s background.

I enjoy Tom Clancy, Larry Bond et al and their takes on technology-dependent modern warfare but the overly-repetitive descriptions of the inner workings of each and every weapon system wear me down after a while. How radios work, weapons shoot, and vehicles drive: we understand enough about these things to not need detailed descriptions. Also in the back of my mind is the thought that the military techno-thriller, as a take on reality, probably died with the myth of DESERT STORM, certainly it was dead in the water by 911.

The protagonists (bad guys) here are neither Third Shock or Eight Guards Army, nor some variation on the theme of revenge-focused, Death to America, Islamic jihadist. John had mentioned to me wanting a really evil villain for his next novel. The evil in his first novel will take some beating: the worst of the 1990s: Rwanda, Bosnia, Somalia mixed in with the randomness of Michael Myers…you probably get the picture.

The Kiwi characters don’t appear til late in the book. They play key roles in resolving the plot line and offer tremendous scope for both pre- and se-quels. Not just a novelty, their presence reflects the level that Kiwis are engaged in the international private security sector. As late arrivals, not a lot of space is committed to their back story and that’s not necessarily a bad thing (see above above concise writing). It does mean though that the character development that might shape a reader’s perception of their language hasn’t occurred.

There been some discussion about whether they actually sound like Kiwis or not. For most of the world the question is probably moot as most Kiwis speak so fast that no one can understand them anyway, even before any matters of Kiwi jargon, slang or incorporated Te Reo Maori come into play. It’s a challenge in spoken speech – which is why Ben Kingsley’s Mazer Rackham, an apparent Maori, sounds South African – and even more difficult with the written word. Personally, I rely on my take on the character from their description and actions to date to imagine how they speak. Within the limitations imposed by their late entry into the story, John has done a pretty good job introducing them into his ‘verse…they will rock in the ‘quels…

Was there anything I didn’t like? Yup. There is a long anti-globalism rant near the end of the book. It’s disproportionately long compared to other dialogues throughout the book and unfortunately detracts from the story. It feels a little like a shaggy dog story where this is the punchline. This message could have been delivered more effectively, woven through the story as the plot developed.

The mark of a great read for me is wanting more when I get to the end. John has certainly delivered that and had better not take another ten years to produce his next work. With only a few pages to go, I couldn’t see how he could resolve the plot line. He did and very effectively…

Recommended as a refreshing change from jihad and an insight into what might be in only a few years…

Into a Dark Frontier

by John Mangan

Published by Oceanview Publishing, 2017

ISBN 978-1-60809-261-1

On Goodreads

At Amazon

 

Muse | The Daily Post

My muse…

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt: muse

Source: Muse | The Daily Post

I saw this topic pop up in the morning mail and thought it would be a quick and easy post…

appollo and muses

The Muses/ˈmjzz/ (Ancient Greek: Μοῦσαι, Moũsai; perhaps from the Proto-Indo-European root *men- “think”) in Greek mythology are the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge embodied in the poetry, lyric songs, and myths that were related orally for centuries in these ancient cultures…In current English usage, “muse” can refer in general to a person who inspires an artist, writer, or musician.

I did a spot of googling, mainly in search of an image to fit my perception of ‘muse’ and to lesser degree, see what others might be thinking. At first I thought this quote was pretty apt:

 A writer’s muse

One day he will find you. He will touch you and you will feel a lifetime of indifference – of apathy melt away in a single moment. And you will ache for him. You will love him, in a way you walk a tightrope – in the way people learn to fall asleep in a war zone. You will bleed for him until the day they are gone. You will bleed for him every day after that. The time will pass and you will feel robbed – you will grow bitter. You will ask why but you won’t get an answer. And that is when the words will come.

~ Lang Leav

Who is Lang Leav? “…Leav is the international best-selling author of Love & Misadventure, Lullabies and Memories. She currently resides in New Zealand with her partner and fellow author Michael Faudet…”

What was wrong with this picture and many of the other memes, notes and articles that I found is that they all portray a muse as a dark thing, the bringer or the result of pain and tragedy. And that’s just wrong…

Yes, I am still riding my wave of Beatles nostalgia after watching Across the Universe last weekend…such great, so very clever words…if you haven’t seen Across the Universe, it is really worth the watch…if you like The Beatles…if you like the grassroots groundswell of change that swept the late 60s…if you just likely a feel good story put to great music…original takes on classic tunes…

It’s sad that so many people think that tragedy and pain is the only inspiration…my muse inspires through happiness and light…a mischief smile…a twinkling eye…examples well-set…

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That inspiration shouldn’t be this rare…

This is my muse…(look away from the screen and just hear the words)

My muse…changes the way I think…

My muses…changes the way I feel…

My muse…keeps me on the path of light…

Annika - SH47 Erua 22 Jul 16 2Even just relistening to all these tunes while drafting this post rekindles those memories and I’m writing again…the world might be a dark and scary place, there may be many things happening that we don’t like or that may frighten us but we shouldn’t be looking to the darkness for our inspiration: nothing good lies there…we should look to the light, look what’s good and let that inspire us…

My muse is my sun…

Object | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt: object.

Source: Object | The Daily Post

Draw a picture of a chair by looking at a real chair not a photograph. ~Pre-instruction drawings; Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain; Betty Edwards

I had thought the original task was to draw a picture of any object by looking at it but it was 1999 that I started this so I may be excused for a minor memory lapse. This was the period that I was working closely with Wingnut Films and the Lord of the Rings crew and my uber-latent arty side was being nudged daily. Drawing and screen-writing were the two main areas in which I took an interest up to the day that people started flying planes into buildings…

Being much more comfortable with writing and story-telling, these became my comfort zone and while my interest in drawing remained, my discipline for the exercises waned. I unearthed my drawing pad recently during a clean-out and then, only a week or so, stumbled across the subject of one of those early exercises.

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Wow…seventeen years ago…so much water under the bridge since then…I’m quite keen on restarting this programme…it’s all based on the book so no enrolments or administration necessary just some willpower and motivation…

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Today…

This is the original on which the drawing is based. It has some history.

Until July 1989, this chair was occupied by the Officer Commanding, Charlie Company, the First Battalion, the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, or, in military shorthand, OC C Coy, 1 RNZIR. From this seat, that individual dispensed justice, ‘offered’ guidance to young officers, and oversaw with ruthless scrutiny, the development and training of a hundred or so lean and keen infantry soldiers.

Near the end of 1987, the New Zealand Government decided it was time for its own version of ‘nothing east of Suez’, announcing that the New Zealand force based in Singapore, aka NZFORSEA, would be withdrawn to New Zealand by the end of 1989. This was called OP(eration) KUPE.

The force in Singapore was a legacy of the Commonwealth intervention into Malaya in the 1950s, Borneo in the 1960s and, for Australia and New Zealand, Vietnam. For over three decades, in various incarnations, it had contributed to the secure and stable development of the states of Malaysia and Singapore: rightly or wrongly, the Government felt it was now time to for New Zealand to focus more closely on its immediate South Pacific neighbourhood. Perhaps lost in the political mix, were the second and third order effects of our presence in Singapore, particularly in providing access to prime jungle training areas in Malaysia, and opportunities for young New Zealanders to experience and mature in a foreign culture.

While we didn’t quite get to the stage of pushing helicopters off aircraft carriers – all our helicopters were safely repatriated to serve faithfully for another quarter century…

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Still going strong in 2005…finally retired in 2015…

…many items deemed non-essential were fated to remain in Singapore, many destined for the ignominious end of the rubbish fires…

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Burning off pre-RTNZ rubbish

When a whisper on the rumour advised that the company office furniture was due to be hauled away to the tip, there was competition to secure anything worth securing for repatriation as personal effects. the only time I have moved faster was when Trevor Sexton chased me down the final leg of the Burnham fitness circuit threatening to do me an impropriety with his pacestick if I didn’t pick up the pace – that was the first and only time I ever broke nine minutes on the required fitness test 2.4km run.

I seized possession of the chair seconds before company clerk, Steve Carrick, burst into the office, much miffed at missing out. I should point out, in all fairness, that, as company clerk, he already had a pretty nice chair in his own office; as a private rifleman, my issued seating was a camouflaged foot-square piece of rubber thermal mat used in the field.

The OC’s chair served me well through various roles and homes in Palmerston North, Linton, Trentham and Wellington…

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The chair of power in front of the mighty Amiga 500

…but got misplaced in a house move over a decade ago. It has clearly seen better days but I was rapt to find it clearing out a storage unit last week…an object of days gone by history…

 

Fog | The Daily Post

Today’s one-word prompt: Fog.

Source: Fog | The Daily Post

Clouds can form at many different altitudes. They can be as high as 12 miles above sea level or as low as the ground. Fog is a kind of cloud that touches the ground. ~ SciJinks

These one word prompts from WordPress always strike me as quite lazy: if the muses can’t be bothered putting any effort into the prompt, I feel less inspired to apply myself to any response…all too often my response is graphic (graphic imagery-wise, not graphic colourful in the semantic sense!) but while I am set-a-foot for the next week or so, I’m determined to write something once a day, even if it is not in response to that day’s prompt….

Fog here, just is…it is more common than not in the morning, often beautifully so, filling in the low ground and giving rise to impressions of great inland lakes, around which the road skirts – or sometimes descends into…

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On the mountains, it is common for fog to form rapidly, catching out the unwary walker or climber. Often visibility will deteriorate to a point where the next marker pole on a track is no longer visible; or the landmark you are using as a point of reference of exploring off-trail just disappears…

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It is actually quite cool to be sitting up high and watching clouds and fog form in front of you, or below you…often around mid-morning as the sun burns off dew on the rocks from the previous night, the water vapour created will only rise a few metres and then drift off, slowly (sometimes not too slowly) thickening into a thick mist…

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Sometimes it is only a matter of minutes before clear skies are obscured, and navigation is hindered + it is cold in the cloud as well: another trap for the unwary…

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…and from there to here, on the summit of Mount Tongariro, where walkers are wisely waiting for the fog to clear enough for the poles marking the trail back to Red Crater to be visible again…it normally doesn’t take too long…best to wait than to wander off and find you cannot see any sign of civilisation when the fog clears..!

 

Yes I know that in a room so full of light

Quote

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Can’t Drive 55.”

Take the third line of the last song you heard, make it your post title, and write for a maximum of 15 minutes.

That magnificent voice…a weekend trip to Auckland…1996…

In a room so full of light, there can still be so much darkness…what lurks in the shadows? What is not as it seems..?

Miss the big mister under his bright red tree…

Winchester. Bingo. Baseline. Reboot/

The Sun. Light. Warmth. Comfort.

Smile. Say something nice.

Blossoms already on the trees, others still trying to shed last year’s cover …confused trees…bees out in force…no more frost..?

Confidence. Ability. Trust.

Spell-check. Munchkin.

Ain’t done dancing.

Dancer’s back.

15 minutes. Random words.

Off to chop more wood in the sun…lawns all mowed (mown?)…fresh air drifting through the big windows…

Great minds…

…..really do think alike…even if they’re both mine…

WordPress rehashed the Morton’s Fork prompt this morning – not even a remake, just a rehash – and I mused briefly about taking it up, totally not remembering (which is not the same as simply forgetting) that I had responded to the same prompt at the end of 2012. As is my pattern at the moment, this would most likely have been just another waysided good intention had someone not ‘liked’ my original post today, triggered one of those “They thought Go ahead, stick a Morton’s fork in it. | rarasaur was pretty awesome….You should go see what they’re up to. Maybe you’ll like their blog as much as they liked yours! ” email notifications…

On opening my original post, I could not remember for the life of me what  OBE meant and decided to edit the post with a footnote expanding on it…only to find at the bottom of the post that I’d already had that good idea at the time…”…OBE = Overtaken BEvents…”

What surprised me on reading the original though was how different it was from my gut response to the same prompt “If you had to choose between being able to write a blog (but not read others’) and being able to read others’ blogs (but not write your own), which would you pick? Why?” this morning…

Having so much going on in my life at the moment, my take on this is now that I would rather read the work of others and be inspired, motivated and edumacated than take time I don’t have right now to try to draft something myself…but then I wrote this anyway…go figure…

Maybe I should be applying myself a little harder to churn something, anything out at least once a week..?

 

via Go ahead, stick a Morton’s fork in it. | rarasaur | The World According to Me….

Islands in the Mist

This was yesterday’s a recent challenge in WordPress’ Writing 101 workshop a month or so ago (how time flies when you have work): “…today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about…”

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One of the reasons that I like living here so much is that it can feel so isolated from the world and its issues…some times this can be a jungle moon of Endor, or a secluded part of Pandora’s Hallelujah Mountains…DSCF8560

The mist deadens sounds of the world and creates our own little world…free to imagine and wonder…DSCF8561

Last night when I came home, just on sundown it was like this…

DSCF8645OK, so the actual challenge was to write 400 words but doesn’t each picture speak a thousand? And it’s Friday night and we need to get fed before Coro…and I am also looking forward to ending Phase I of my retro TV groove, with the final episode of UFO already lined up in Plex. Phase II arrived in the mail tonight so the Space 1999 marathon will start tomorrow…

I always thought that Space 1999 was so much cornier than UFO which was the first grown-ups programme I was allowed to watch on a regular basis…type faster, type faster…no typos, no typos, I can already hear Jim Hickey making up the weather for tomorrow…looks like rain and lots of it…only 30 minutes now to get dinner ready…no pressure…but type faster, no typos…

Phew! Can smell dog poo on my boots…poo patrol on Monday I guess…so between UFO and Space 1999, maybe I already grew up enough to start to lose my suspension of disbelief…already between ten and twelve…? But I still like the purple wigs and tinfoil body suits – did they scratch? – and, as always with Gerry Anderson, the toys machines rule…UHU02 has made the SHADO Interceptor: is Sky 1 on the cards.. although I still have the Imai one of variable scale in the works…Probably not, I think the next Interceptor he will design will below to the Angels…

And speaking of Angels, PRIME TV, where is our Doctor fix now that the fez-wearing ‘custard and fish fingers’ idiot is gone…? And speaking of idiots, I can hear Seven Sharp prattling now…Dad, Dad, we want dinner…OK, OK, coming, coming…”let’s feed the dogs” (words never spoken out loud in jest) and there we go: 400-ish words and the challenge done…

Writing 101, Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rockin’ | The Daily Post.