Small #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

 

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Emulating Kafka, on the shore, I watch the waves, and wonder.

Is time a mere oscillation of the sea?

Is Gaia alive only for as long as the waves roll in?

This water world, will it dry out, like Arrakis?

Who are the Fremen of this world? 

I do not know.

I am so small.

#TellMeAboutYourself ~ an Award

tellme_award Gracious and talented Katherine Hopkins, who hails from the KD Defehr poetry and photography blog (btw is the actual photography blog at http://kristydefehr.wordpress.com/?), has nominated this sinner for the Tell Me About Yourself Award, which made me blush no end through my January suntan… Thank you Katherine: you are an angel and a very promising young woman, who wrote: “However, I’ve found that one other thing, beside my mind’s indecency, is for absolute certain. With a pen in my hand (or my fingers on a keyboard) I am at peace. When I’m in that zone and I’m writing, the places that I feel with my heart and think with my mind suddenly join and they become one. Suddenly, I’m free and I’m safe and I’m so filled with excitement by the possibilities of what I could create with this new found sense of power and enlightenment. The words surge through me and they become stories, images and messages. They become my voice and they fill my body until, all at once, I’m not just another sad and confused teenager. I’m an artist, and I can do anything with my talent if I allow it to guide me. I can be anyone and do anything through the words that I write and the characters that I create… because they’re mine.” How beautiful is that? Btw don’t miss Katherine’s funny pics: well worth a visit!

I wish to thank also Green Cheata (at http://greencheata.wordpress.com/) without whom none of this would have happened! Do visit the blogs of those talented people readers! Green Cheata picks up a poetry pen on Tuesdays and Thursdays: please note…

I admit not to have done my research on this award, so I am following Katherine blindly! Now, as you probably know if you have paid more than one or two visits to these pages, I am horribly shy talking about myself, and end up talking about my work! So here we go again ;-P

  1. Confession: I am desperately in love with two women: one is my (real) wife, Gorgeous, and the other, well, is the main character of my novel in making, Melissa of the Page fame… As a matter of fact both are present in these pages, somewhere!
  2. My third love is the mountains, and particularly the Dolomiti Alps, in Northern Italy.
  3. I write almost every day, but this writing is dispersed – small bits, big chunks of the main work, all depends on inspiration… and those characters.
  4. Julian, my significant male character is – I swear – not me! Paul (of Arrakis fame) might be, in some weird way.
  5. I train, or run, three times a week, and try to run 5k once a week, with 10k thrown in in Summer. I admire Haruki who runs a marathon before b’fast!
  6. In various posts of this blog I have written about reading – I even have a page on the subject, thinking about it! – at the moment I am reading Justin Cronin’s “The Passage“, which I find fascinating. In parallel I am reading Ray Monk’s biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer “Inside The Centre” (more about both in future posts…)
  7. Rest of the time I fiddle with my loyal Nikon (see http://thiscornerofthewoods.wordpress.com/)

Nominations: new friends, old friends, a mix…

  1. Benjamin at http://benjaminprewitt.com/, a beautiful art and poetry blog
  2. Rumpy Dog at http://rumpydog.com/
  3. The Clown on Fire at http://clownonfire.wordpress.com/
  4. Girl on the Contrary: unforgettable! http://girlonthecontrary.com/
  5. Steven Watkins at http://stevenwwatkins.com/
  6. Layla at http://lalammar.net/
  7. Lesaf & twig at http://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/

 

alansmitheesmall

On Gemini and an award

Seductive and addictive Gemini of http://geminisub.wordpress.com/ is a gifted sub and lovely blogger: if you have not yet visited her poetic blog Geminiwords please do without delay! Moreover Gemini was recently nominated for the Liebster Award by another delicious sub at http://thedreamingsub.wordpress.com/, and has honoured your servant by nominated him in turn! A big thank you to Gemini, in particular since this gives me the opportunity to visit some great bloggers in my co-nominees…

Some duties are attached to the award, such as posting eleven random facts about oneself, and answer eleven set questions. Then one should select eleven new nominees and post eleven new questions for them. Setting aside the question of why eleven  – may be you know reader, the origin of it! – I am more than happy to oblige with a slight variation (which I have used before), namely I’d rather post about some of my characters, who are by far much more interesting (I hope) than their creator! Anyway is there any better way to understand a writer, even one in training, than through her characters?

The questions:

1.What do you think is your greatest accomplishment so far? – Erm… possibly to have kept up with this blog which is my main training vehicle as writer!

2. What do you still want to accomplish?I have two novels in the work, and you can read some excerpts in these pages here. I want to complete them, and dependent on feedback, maybe publish them. How and when I have no idea at this point.

3. What was your favorite toy as a child? – my bike!

4. You can be a Disney villain princess hero for one day, which one and why? – Evidently Donald Duck 😛

5. What are you afraid to try of?  – I really can’t think of anything!

7.  Are you messy or a neat freak? – I am no freak, just a geek 🙂

8. What has been your favorite vacation? – Dolomiti/Dolomites/Dolomiten

9. Coffee or tea? – Most definitely coffee, but indulge in herbal tea in the evening, now you know!

10. What was the best gift you were ever given? – my fist novel by Stephen King

11. If you found out you were having a child, what would you name it?  Well, a bit tricky this, but referring the question to Gorgeous, she says: Jean-Pierre…

And now for the random facts:

  1. Given that he is my alter ego, I want first of all to mention Julian Dutoit: he’s the central character of The Page, which is a sweet story. Julian has one quality: he’s a good ten years younger than his creator! (he also has his own Facebook page!)
  2. Susan is still a half hidden secret. I mentioned her in my previous post. Susan holds a very dark secret, which, I am sure, must reflect my own inhibitions. I have said a bit more about her elsewhere in these pages.
  3. There is an entire crew, and you can read about them all here. This is a piece of work that draws from my obsessions with: a) The Pacific Ocean, b) Japan, c) Kafka on the Shore (the novel by Monsieur Murakami), d) Post-Soviet Russia… All of them hold a bit of me. Paul, the owner of the Arrakis, is married to Katrina, and what a pair!
  4. Melissa is Julian’s Nemesis, and her story is, in some distorted ways, that of the woman I never was. Melissa is dead, contrary to Susan who’s very much alive. Both are very present…
  5. Aomame is not one of my characters, but how I wish she could be! She’s the hero of 1Q84, of which more here. The more I think about her the more I admire her creator: a perfect woman, in all her imperfections, and an everlasting love, under the light of two moons: genius!
  6. Sarah is Julian’s wife and his anchor. There isn’t much space between her and… well, Gorgeous, my wife. Worship is an understatement for the feelings Julian has for her.
  7. Jane is Julian’s younger sister. There lies a deep nexus, but Jane is a good girl. So it is left to Susan to cross that border.
  8. In 1Q84 Tengo is Aomame’s love, and they meet, at last, right at the end of the novel. To me Tengo is a mystery, greater than even Kafka Tamura, the hero of Kafka on the Shore. Tengo was superbly gifted, but opted for the quiet life… Yet there is something incredibly powerful and attractive to him, and only Aomame can unravel the mystery.
  9. Piotr and Lara Nevelskoï are the skippers of the Arrakis. They represent  – arguably – a longing for a past which is now unfathomable, because history has moved on so much. They are twentieth century heroes. As obsolete as this writer in learning is!
  10. This and the following are closer to the writer: I do have a publisher, to be, and I hope she succeeds in her venture!
  11. I am a very slow writer, and cannot rush things. I need time.

Now for the “questions” – things that I hope are worth asking!

  1. Which fictional character do you wish you had created?
  2. Which historical person would you consider writing a novel about?
  3. Name a book you want to read but never had the opportunity to
  4. Name a writer you may wish to emulate
  5. Pen or keyboard?
  6. Scotch or vodka?
  7. On the Transsiberian to Vladivostock who would you wish to have as travelling companion?
  8. Sea or mountains?
  9. Glass or paper?
  10. Spring or Autumn?
  11. Water or Ice?

Tentative nominations:

Tentative because I am uncertain as who has already received this award! Of course it does not really matter, but still… All are bloggers who matter!

Guy at http://guylejeune.wordpress.com/ (brother in arms)

Mike at http://mattafoto.wordpress.com/ (fantastic shots)

Kathy at http://www.kathydisanto.com/about/ (a Pro)

Mindy at http://www.mindysue528.blogspot.co.uk/ (speaks, and writes, her mind)

Karen at http://www.thescarletdogma.com/ (a Pro, and outspoken)

Lady Day at http://rlbk75.wordpress.com/ (special to me, haiku poet and more)

Georgia at http://broadblogs.com/ (who knows about us!)

JWH at http://zombiemechanics.com/ (who knows about Zombies!)

(I haven’t counted!)

Yellow Sea

 From grey the water has turned golden yellow, coloured by the sands of the Gobi desert. The Arrakis progresses north-south first, set on a course of some four hundred nautical miles, to avoid the territorial waters of both Koreas. Francesca has radioed our course to both Korean Navies, and of course to the Japanese Naval Defence Force, since our next stop will be on Shikoku, exactly on Takamatsu, where we have a pilgrimage to make to a cherished place.

Continue there

#WritersWednesday: August 29, An Auction

 The small port of Sovetskaya Gavan’ has little to attract attention from anyone but the most informed observer of the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet, or Russian Far-East history. For it is an important outpost and harbour for the supply of the Fleet. The bay of Khadzi was only discovered in 1853, the year Lt. Nikolay Boshnyak – its discoverer on behalf of the Czar – became the commander of the settlement that was to become Sovetskaya Gavan’ in 1922.

I walk slowly along the harbour front: this is a deep water port, and the reason for my interest. The object of my attention lies a little aside from the other boats at anchor in the harbour, and is guarded by four Russian marines, recognisable by their badges and the striped vests that identify them, from the Black Sea to the Pacific seaboard, via Sebastopol and other places of legend. I get a little closer, smile to the marines, who ignore me. The Aurora – soon to be renamed The Arrakis, if I achieve my objective – hardly emerges above the calm water, a grey flat ray-like fish with hardly any structure visible on deck: yet this marvel of maritime technology has the capacity for a crew of six and up to twelve passengers.

Tomorrow the auction takes place. I know the chief auctioneer, and my hand is strong: there is only one other serious bidder. The Aurora cannot be just another amateur yachtsman’s object of desire! Its previous, and single, owner, a Russian oligarch now writing his memoirs in the Federation’s deepest dungeon, commissioned the boat from the very finest shipyard in Russia. And spent just above $80 millions on it. That was ten years ago. Since the demise of its owner, the Aurora has been in the safeguard of the Navy, hence the marines guard. For it is a very special boat: Aurora is powered by a good size nuclear turbine, capable of giving her a speed well above the average coastguard vessel, and an autonomy of at least six months at sea. Furthermore, the boat is submersible, and its stealth abilities are without comparison with any other civilian boat. The oligarch wanted it to be his escape salvation. But the Navy had him in their sight. I want the boat in order to satisfy my appetite for solitude – relatively – and be the stage for my friends, my writing, and my ambitions as a modern day captain Nemo. If I win tomorrow, it will be the result of several years of research and careful lobbying of the right – and dangerous – people. The Navy’s stewardship has added a few useful features – at a price. Aurora is equipped with six 20mm guns, and has two surface to air missile launchers. So the auction is not what it looks like on the face of it: a deal had to be done with the Navy, and this, yours truly has done.

So I am now sitting in the auction room, a sober space within the administrative buildings of the harbour. A platoon of marines guards the building, and an NCO stands guard in the room itself. The chief auctioneer, my friend Joseph, opens the proceedings. There maybe a dozen people in attendance. I cannot spot any journalists. I can spot a couple of FSB goons, and a Navy officer who, though in civilian clothes cannot hide his origin. The opposition is an American, much younger than me, who sits with a retinue of two women on the front row. Crew cut, straight back, I believe he’s a member of the American-Russian Economic foundation, which has local connections here in Sovetskaya Gavan’. His two women companions look like academics or Mormon missionaries.

The opening price is $100 millions. Which cleared the floor from passers-by. The bids are open: the opposition bids $120M. Joseph’s grey eyes survey the audience, then looks at me. I smile: $150M. A dead silence reigns in the room. Seconds tick. I wear a cool linen suit, a pale blue shirt. Joseph restates the bid. The opposition blinks: $160M. Of course the winner will have to foot the bill for maintenance and refuelling at a couple $M a piece every six months. Plus the crew. Haha: the crew, there I am proud of my work. From my seat I can watch the Navy officer, who smiles. I signal to Joseph: $180M. That’s a big jump, designed to discouraged my opponent. But of course I do not know what his resources, or backing, are. But I do know something he does not: that the Navy has done a deal, with me, and no-one else, I will win this auction, and pay only half the price. Of course there is a catch. This I will tell you later. But I bet my American friend will run out of steam before I do…

Well, he does not. The bid now stands at $190M. I take a deep breath. A uniform Navy officer joins his colleague in civilian clothes. Joseph is watching me. Grinning: $200M. Even for the Aurora, this is a bit steep. A weird shiver shakes the audience: there are now a few more people in the room, which surprises me, as the door should have been locked when the proceedings started. Have I been framed?

No, and $200M was the threshold. Whatever his backers and resources, my US opponent has thrown in the towel. The hammer hits the desk. Joseph smiles broadly. The audience stands and claps. As I move slowly towards the door, I am aware of a change in the configuration of uniformed personnel in the surroundings. Joseph is in deep discussion with the civilian-clad Navy officer. The other guy is talking to me, in perfect English. “Congratulations Sir, if you don’t mind following me for a few formalities”. But this is not an invitation, it is an order. Armed marines are surrounding us. The door is wide open in front of me, and a car is there outside, waiting, with a Spetnaz escort.

The car is a Mercedes S-class. The uniformed officer, Joseph and the “civilian” join me. The driver wears a Navy uniform. Behind us are two 4×4 full of Spetnaz soldiers. We reach the harbour, turn around the gates of the shipyard, stop near a building which appears to be Navy property, closed to the public. I spot a marine platoon guarding the entrance. I am invited to follow my escort inside the building.

“Well done , friend”, the old admiral is standing in front of me. “Please pardon us this cinema, we don’t intend our colleagues, over there – the old face grins – to believe one instant, that this was a real auction!” I smile. We sit around a large table, a marine at each of the four corners of the room. The senior officer, I know, he’s the one who decided I was, after all, trustworthy and genuine. I owe him my victory. “As you know, we now have a contract with you” I acquiesce, silently. The recording equipment on board the Arrakis will remain switched on at all time. The boat’s automatic reporting system will be left working at each port of mooring, and observation signals from Navy’s satellites will stay enabled and the boat’s beacon unscrambled. This means that my position will be known to the Navy at all times. It also means that the Navy will be able to annihilate the boat at the flick of a switch. And I don’t mind. I trust the Russian Navy, because I have no quarrel, and hence nothing to fear from them. I have enemies elsewhere, and they happen not to be their friends either, despite the old admiral’s joke. I am presented with a contract. A stern looking document with the Navy’s emblems and watermarks. The boat will remain registered here, in Sovetskaya Gavan’. There is also a sweetener, an upgrade to the missile launchers, and four brand new missiles. I smile, sign, stand up and toast, the attendees stand up, and we sing: the Russian marines hymn. The old admiral shakes my hand, and so do Joseph and the two officers. I hand over to Joseph a cool check for $100M. I am the owner of the Arrakis.

to be followed…