B is for Bryn Celli Ddu

B is for Bryn Celli Ddu. I was lucky enough to be the Madog Fellow a few years back at my university (something I’m angling to repeat) which sends a professor to study Welsh culture. I studied the Neolithic sites while I was there and fell a little bit in love with Wales. I knew I would set something here (probably more than one thing) and I used it in a Christmas related short story The Light of Winter, which was supposed to be holidays traditions as the anthology’s theme.

I promised in my A post that I would be talking about settings of my stories so let me tell you a little bit about Bryn Celli Ddu. Sure you can read about the site Here. Long story short, Bryn Celli Ddu is in Ynys Mon (which I think got autocorrected to something wrong in my story, head desk), otherwise known as the Isle of Anglesey in north Wales. Its name means the mound of the dark grove, how wonderful is that?

It’s a passage grave, probably one of the best in Wales. You can enter inside it, and while there are no grave goods any more, you get a sense of the place. It is a liminal space. It’s almost impossible for us to reconnect with the original builders, some five thousand years ago, but sitting inside this sacred site, you can hear the whispers of them. What’s nice about Bryn is it’s been restored including the stones with their carvings (the originals are in a museum) so unlike the more stark (yet wonderful) sites like Pentre Ifan, you get a sense as to what these sites would have looked like when they were originally made. (Though it would be interesting to imagine what the original wood henge which pre-dates the passage grave would have been like).

I was almost resented it when a busload of middle schoolers showed up and spoiled the air of the ancient (and hopeful that at least one or two of them will appreciate the site as kids that age rarely do). Even standing there, I knew I would use Bryn.

In The Light of Winter, Gareth, a professor and Druid, has been having trouble finding time to be with his significant other, Warun, a medical doctor (and Christian). To help heal their strained relationship, Gareth plans a holiday get away to the north of Wales so they could play in the ruins of castles and what not but also to share his druidic beliefs with Warun. Bryn Celli Ddu is aligned with the winter solstice known as Alban Arthan to the druids and light spills into the grave (not as dramatic as Newgrange in Ireland but still, enough for my story). I had fun with this one, and I was proud to showcase both the Druid faith and Welsh Christian traditions (which I hope I did justice to, being not Welsh. I had to trust my research to carry me there). I wasn’t lucky enough to be in Wales to experience a solstice at any of the sites but maybe one day, I will.

This is Bryn Celli Ddu –  photo 100_1750_zpsqsozgkdb.jpg

This is a picture from inside the grave looking out.  photo 100_1756_zpscyr7mafp.jpg

And of course I couldn’t go to Ynys Mon without stopping here. Pob lwc with pronouncing it. (this is the train station)  photo 100_1746_zps8jgv7bco.jpg

If you’d like to see The Light of Winter you can find it here.

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A is for Absence

A is for Absence. In this case, the absence of my Sunday Small Talks as I take part in the A to Z blogging challenge, where in you write for 26 days (taking Sundays off) and each post naturally reflects a letter of the alphabet. Oh I suppose I could go rogue and post on Sundays too, and just not make it part of the challenge but to be honest, about all I would have said in the Sunday posts were a) I’m still doing Camp Nano and b) I’m editing Conned. It wouldn’t be riveting blogging anyhow. I do plan on going a little rogue and keeping Rainbow Snippets as a separate posting thing not part of the challenge.

For the challenge I plan on talking about writing, things I’ve written, characters, places in the various stories and all that sort of thing. I hope it’ll be interesting. There might even be pictures. It might even be coherent (but some days I don’t promise even that).

A is also for Aaron, the main character in my first novel Kept Tears. Aaron is an upper arm amputee from the war in Afghanistan. He was using the Army to hopefully pay for medical school and got called up as a medic. He came home without his arm below the elbow and barely retained his leg. The story opens after he’s been home for a few years, been through tons of physical therapy and is at the University of Pittsburgh resuming his studies.

I’d wanted to do a character like Aaron for years. I did my medical residency at various VA hospitals and wanted to represent disabled veterans in at least one of my novels. Threaded through the novel are real projects to help veterans (if one was in the mood to support those charities, like Project Wolfhound and Wounded Warrior, though that one took a hit from some less than honest CEOs). I also gave Aaron something that didn’t yet exist when I was seeing patients in the VA, a functional prosthetic for the upper limb hooked into the nervous system (just like automail in one of my favorite anime/manga of all time, Fullmetal Alchemist). I had a lot of fun with Aaron and would love to revisit his world.

If you’d like to see Aaron’s world, you can check out the novel Kept Tears here.

And this is what I had in mind for his upper limb prosthesis though this video is from after I wrote Kept Tears and shows more information than was available to the public at the time. (Aaron wouldn’t have it all the way to the shoulder as he has that part of his arm)

This would be closer to Aaron’s prosthesis

As a doctor, I can’t tell you just how amazed and delighted I am in how fast this technology is growing. Until just a few years ago upper limb prostheses weren’t particularly functional.

Also on Saturdays expect a link to my other weekend challenge, Rainbow Snippets. You can see a snippet of my work every Saturday and this week’s can be found here. It’s set where I live this week, in SE Ohio.

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*Note as far as I know there should be no repatcha hell rings to jump threw but if there are sometime take the time to tell me and I’ll double check!






Rainbow Snippets

I think I still owe some comments from last week. Sigh. It’s the last month of the semester which always turns into insanity and Camp Nano starts today! I will be working on this story for it (in part, I have two projects).

I’m sticking with These Haunted Hills and Brendan has just asked Josh to tell him about Ash Cave. It’s slightly over 6 sentences but they’re short and I wanted it to make sense….

“The cave is about seven hundred feet long and about a hundred deep. The waterfall cascading around us is from the east fork of Queer Creek.”

Brendan arched one of his eyebrows. “Really?”

Joshua shrugged. “Didn’t name it and I’m sure it means the strange sort of queer, not the me kind.” His face flamed. “Did I say that out loud?”

“You did.”

And here you go, Queer Creek spilling over the rim of Ash Cave.

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If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!