Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

The holiday season is nearly over. I spent Christmas with my mother and her family out west. My mother got some quality time with her grandchild, and we actually got a night out, courtesy of Granny, who managed to get the kid down and asleep without Mommy for the first time. It lasted about 2 hours, but not bad, all told. Also, we took the kid tobogganing for the first time (She's less than a year old, so it was it was a very, very small hill). You should have seen her face. Arms wide, head thrown back, laughing to beat the band. It was wonderful.

And now, the new year is almost here and it is time to get back to work.

On the agenda for 2006:

  1. Finish the current novel
  2. Finish my website
  3. Edit the previous novel and get it out
  4. Edit Small Magics for publication by Dragon Moon Press
  5. Finish the adaptation for the stage of the classical novel I'm working on (I'll give the name when it's done)
  6. Finish the Pantomime to put up next Christmas
  7. Find a way to pay for it all, plus the kid's daycare and the rent (i.e. get a day job)

And of course, there's the new year's resolutions:

  1. Drop 15 pounds (fat and muscle; I'm too bulky)
  2. See above.

That's what I'm up to for the next little while (okay, the next year), so blogging will return to its usual sporadic pace. Hopefully, I'll find some good stuff to talk about. The election looms here, so I'm certain that I can come up with something.

Happy New Year everyone.

Back to work.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Richard's Revenge: A Christmas Eve Ghost Story


Some time ago, I began writing ghost stories for Christmas Eve - a Victorian tradition perfected by Robertson Davies which I think is just fun. This is the third of those stories. I was planning to get it out on Christmas eve, but I was in a hotel, no where near a computer.

So, I give it to you tonight as a bit of post-Christmas cheer. If anyone happens to enjoy it and says so in convincing enough terms, I will post the one that started it all, and the one that came after that.

Richard’s Revenge

There are times when one is faced with questions about one’s sanity. Times when one’s relatives look at one strangely and say things like “That’s not true” or “You’re making that up” and, when assured of one’s belief in the truth of what one has said, immediately follow up with, “You’re looney.”

And so, with trepidation, I reveal to you now events that are so far from believable that I expect to hear such reactions immediately upon the completion of their recital. I hasten to add that the ability to keep such comments to oneself until the end of the recital of these strange events would be greatly appreciated.

Now, for those who don’t know, some years ago I decided I would follow in the tradition of Robertson Davies—the great curmudgeon of Canadian Literature—and write a ghost story every Christmas. A way to have a little fun over the season, I thought; a way to keep my skills sharp.

Now, Robertson Davies claimed that all his stories were absolutely true. I thought that this was just a conceit, to make them that much more interesting. After all, a claim of truth has never hurt a good story.

So imagine my surprise when, upon first attempting to write such a story, the ghost of Robertson Davies himself appeared and informed me that, not only was it not a conceit, but that it was, in fact, a curse. Ghosts visited every Christmas. And since I had decided to take up the tradition, I got to take up the curse, too. The ghosts that had visited him would now start visiting me.

I had hoped he was bluffing. Unfortunately, a visit the following year from my cousin Charles convinced me other wise (And yes, Charles Dickens is a cousin on my mother’s side, seven times removed).

Well, once is accident, twice is coincidence, and the third time was last week while I was waiting to teach a class.

I was at Rapier Wit, Canada’s oldest and best stage combat studio on an empty Thursday night, waiting to teach the last martial arts class of the year. Unfortunately, twenty centimeters of snow were falling outside and those with any sense stayed home. I, being raised on the Canadian prairies, had no sense and was standing alone in the studio, stretching my muscles and waiting just ten more minutes for the third time when a rather non-descript fellow walked through the door of the armoury, holding a sword.

“Who the hell are you?” was on the tip of my tongue. I clamped my teeth together and kept it there. You see, I knew I was alone in the building. I knew that Christmas was coming and I knew that I had an unopened bottle of Jamieson’s Irish Whiskey in my bag.

It was the Jamieson’s that decided it. Ghosts never showed up when I was dry.

I watched the man walk towards me, taking in the loose shirt with laces at the neck, the wrinkled hose on his legs, the high boots on his feet, and the paunch that his belt was struggling mightily, if unsuccessfully, to keep in place. I wondered, who he was. What spirit had stepped out of the netherworld this year? I began to formulate a greeting; one that would take over from those words still balanced on the tip of my tongue, when he stepped close, raised a hand with a glove in it, and smacked me across the face.

I stood, stunned, as he stepped away, raised his blade, and assumed a guard. I discovered that those words sitting on the tip of my tongue were both still there and ready to break loose. I obliged them.

“Who the Hell are you?” I said.

“One who would end your life!”

I waited for more. None was forthcoming. “All right,” I said. “Why?”

“Why?” he repeated. “Why?!” he said again, this time adding an exclamation mark. “Why??!!!”

Given the five pieces of punctuation at the end of his last “why?” and the fact that I could hear them all, I could only come to one conclusion. “So, you’re an actor, then?” I said.

“An actor?” he said. “An actor?!”

“You’re not going for five punctuation marks again, are you?”

He glared. “I was not.”


“I was going for six.”

“You can’t.”

“Watch me.”

“All right.”

He cleared his throat. “AN ACTOR???!!!”

“That was six,” I said, rubbing my ringing ears, “And fully capitalized, too. Well done!”

“Thank you,” he said, bowing deeply. He resumed his pose. “I am no mere actor! I am the greatest performer the world has ever known!”

“I thought Olivier was blond,” I said.

“Olivier?” He sneered and waved a hand that at once displayed his distain for my comment and suggested my idiocy for making it. “A popinjay.”

“Oh,” I thought about it. “Gielgud?”









“Barrymore has his own play!”

“Oh, yeah. I Hate Hamlet.”

“So do I!” he thundered gesturing emphatically with his other hand. I hit the floor, as this was the hand with the sword in it. “That overly verbose hack didn’t know who he had working for him. “…and let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them…” Twelve years after my death and he still has to make his point. Like he ever wrote anything funny!”

There was a clue! I picked myself off the floor. “You are Richard Tarleton,” I declared. “Elizabeth’s court jester. The clown!”

“Clown? I am the greatest performer of my age! Of any age!”

‘No, the clown,” I said.

“The greatest performer of any age!” he said, advancing on me, point of the sword foremost.

“You may think so, but everyone remembers you as a clown,” I said, retreating. “It’s in all the history books.”

“Of course,” he looked disgusted. “My King Lier brought audiences to tears. My Famous Victories of Henry V made them scream with applause. My True Tragedy of Richard III made them tremble with awe. And what am I remembered for? Pratfalls, slapstick and eating a live chicken on stage!”

“Actually, no one remembers the chicken.”

“They should!” he declared, “It’s a good bit!” He sighed. “You know, all this rage makes a man thirsty.”

“I’m sure it does,” I agreed. “But I’m not giving out drinks until you tell me why you want to kill me.”

“Because history demands it!” He said, and before I could say, ‘it does?’ he added, “I demand it!” The sword was up again, and he was once more advancing. “En garde, you knave!”

“With what?” I demanded. “I don’t have a sword!”

With a sneer he tossed me his. It landed in my hand, an early rapier, well-balanced, and feeling as solid as the steel it should have been made of, but cold, as though it had been left out in the blizzard that had kept my students from coming and made all of this possible. I looked at him and discovered he had a matching blade in his own hand.

“Why me?” I demanded.

“Because you are a writer!” he said. “Your kind never makes proper use of the clowns. You but us in the back, you use us for filler between those boring scenes you think have meaning. We deserve better! I deserve better! History will no longer know Richard Tarleton as a clown! If I am not known as the greatest performer of my age, then I will be known as a villain! As a murderer! I shall kill you and in doing so gain my revenge on all your ilk!”

“And if I don’t want to fight?” I said.

“I will make you.”


“Your verse is terrible,” said he.

“True, but no reason to kill me,” I said.

“Your paragraphs are too short,” said he.

“Also true but—”

“Your characters are weak and two dimensional cut-outs that barely manage to drive forward those miserable excuses for plots that you scrawl,” said he.

“En Garde,” I said.

Now, Richard Tarleton was a man of his time; an actor, a clown, and above all else, a swordsman. His wrist was like iron. His blows thundered and made my blade shiver. At first, it was all I could do just to block them. He cut a web of steel around me, leaving me breathless and barely able to fight him off.

“You call yourself a swordsman?” he demanded. “You are terrible!”

“Yeah,’re still just a clown,” I shot back, being rather winded for witty retorts



Blades clashed again, and this time I began to enjoy a little success. I began to see his rhythm, began to interrupt it with thrusts and cuts of my own, driving him back a few steps.

He riposted and charged. He thrust and cut at me a dozen times, each one narrowly missing puncturing a vital organ or opening a vein. I stumbled, and in desperation let myself go to the ground, catching myself with one hand and thrusting out the blade with the other.

He stopped, his blade clattering to the floor, and stared at the wound in his stomach. I rose and he stumbled back, pulling himself free of the blade, then falling to his knees.

“I am slain,” he said, looking at me. His face was a wonder to behold, even in this grim moment. It held the horror of his death, the wonder that he lost the fight, and the pain of the injury together in a single expression that threatened to tear open my heart. I fell to my own knees beside him.

I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t want—”

“No matter,” he said, his voice a rich whisper, loud enough for my ears alone. “It was foolishness on my part. A dream of greatness never realized. A faint hope that I should be remembered for more than what I was.”

“Let me get you a bandage, or call—”

“No,” he breathed. “It is too late.” A single tear rolled down his cheek and his breathing shuddered. A moment later he rallied himself, raising a hand and reaching for me. I took it in my own. His voice was barely a whisper when he said, “In your writing… please… let me be remembered kindly… Say…” he stopped, drew in a shuddering breath. “Say that this foolish clown met his end… if not nobly… then well.”

“I will say so,” I promised. “I will.”

“Then I… am happy.”

He drew breath one last time, then let it out in a long shuddering sigh that left no doubt that the last of his life was gone; that his soul had fled this earth. A moment later, his body and the swords both faded from sight, leaving me alone in the empty studio.

It was when I discovered the bottle of whiskey had vanished that I realized what really happened.

Richard Tarleton died in 1588. I had not killed him. I had been snookered. He had put on a death scene that would bring tears to a theatre critic just to prove how good he was, then stole my whiskey on his way out.

So tonight, let us drink to the shade of Richard Tarleton, the greatest performer of his age, and let us say of him, “This foolish clown met his end, if not nobly, then well.”

And if anyone sees him, he owes me a bottle!


I hate The Green Knight

So, I'm visiting family out in Regina, I go to check my blog, and what happened? I've been tagged! By the Green Knight of all people! I mean, really. I'm on vacation. Worse, I'm on dial-up!

All right, here it is, for better or for worse.

Seven Things To Do Before I Die
Write several best-sellers & hit plays
Learn to play piano again
Visit China
Visit Africa
Get a Masters degree
Star in a feature film
Study Kung Fu

Seven Things I Cannot Do
Eat cabbage without being sick
Quantum Physics
The Iron Man Triathalon
Stand on the edge of a cliff without vertigo
Believe without evidence
Read Latin

Seven Things That Attract Me to...Blogging
A community of thought and ideas
Blatent self-promotion (buy my book!)
Conversations with people around the world
Sounding off about things that annoy me
Did I mention blatent self promotion? (buy my book!)
Learning how other people think
Getting the chance to tell people to buy my book!

Seven Things I Say Most Often
What did I do with the...
Eyejabah? (only my wife knows what it means)
No! Danger! (to my daughter, who is beginning to understand it)
You should really buy my book!
I love you (to my wife, child and friends)

Seven Books That I Love
The Lord of the Rings
The Dhammaphadda
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Tao Te Ching
Anything by Barbara Hambly
Most of C.J. Cherryh
Small Magics by Erik Buchanan (buy my book!)

Seven Movies That I Watch Over and Over Again
Monty Python's The Holy Grail
The Lord of The Rings
The Princess Bride
Jesus of Montreal
It's a Wonderful Life

Seven People I Want To Join In Too
You know, I don't actually have seven people to tag, so I give this out to whoever wants to take it up. Have fun, out there.

Friday, December 23, 2005

No, wait, it did work

Yes, Haloscan is on and working. Sorry to those who lost comments. More in the new year.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Or Not...

All right, so the Haloscan thing didn't work. I thought it had. When I tried it at home I got Haloscan comments. Now that I'm at a different computer, they seem to have vanished.

Say the short, perfunctory anglo-saxonism of your choice here.

So, the comments may or may not be there. Haloscan may or may not be working. Sigh. I should really learn more HTML.

And I know I said I wouldn't be posting over Christmas, but when the baby gets you up a 4:30, then goes back to sleep at 6:30, there's not a lot else to do.

Merry Christmas everyone, except Bill O'Reilly. To him, Happy Holidays.

Back to work. I have a ghost story to write before Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Changing Comment Tools

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

This was a long and tedious process, which has finally worked. This now provides me with track-back abilities and a few other things.

Unfortunately, it means that previous comments have been lost. My apologies to all those who posted comments. Please feel free to post again, and I'll try to find something interesting for all of us to talk about.

My next step will be recreating the links bar on the page. GK, if you're out there, help?

Back to work.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Happy Holidays

Which I direct to Fox New's Bill O'Reilly, who believes there is a war against Christmas. There isn't. Get over it.

For the rest Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Joyous Ramadan, Happy Yule, or whatever holiday it is that you are celebrating. May the new year bring us all better times.

I am off for Christmas with the relatives out west. Comment where you like, if you like. I will not be doing any blogging until after Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2005

American Politics: The Democratic Party

I don't usually talk about American politics, except to leave comments on the blogs of those who do (among them The Green Knight, Shakespeare's Sister, and The Dark Wraith).

That having been said, I have been reading on these blogs and many others the annoyance that the American Left has with the Democratic Party, who seem unable to offer a unified front against the juggernaut of the GOP (Grand Old Party a.k.a. Republicans).

I was listening to CBC radio talking about the Canadian elections. One of their guests was Stephen Clarkson, whose book "The Big Red Machine - How the Liberal Party Dominates Canadian Politics" has just come out. In it (and in fact, on the dust cover) he quotes Sir Wilfred Laurier, Canadian Prime Minister from 1896 to 1911:

"It is not enough to have good principles; we must have organization also. Principles without organization may lose, but organization without principles may often win."

I believe that the weakness in the Democratic Party of the United States is that it need to first, define itself, then get itself organized. What are the principles of the Democratic Party? Each time we think they are one thing, a Democratic congressman or senator comes along and votes the other way. The Democratic Party needs to put together a solid statement of principles and have all of their members adhere to them. It needs to be a contract between the party and its representatives saying "This is how this party stands on these issues, and this is how we, as its representatives, will vote on these issues."

Now, obviously, this does not work on all issues, and it does not have to. It does need to work for the key issues of the day: the war in Iraq, abortion, The economy, health care, the environment. By developing a specific, consistent statement of principles, the Democratic Party can show Americans where it stands on the issues, and that it stands firm. By enforcing that stand among its representatives (i.e. through removal from committees or other means, or at worse, through expulsion from the party) it can present a unified front against the Republicans.

Remember, a good number of people who voted for George Bush did so not because they believed in his policies, but because they thought the Republican stood for something. Wouldn't it be good to get them voting for a party that actually does stand for something?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Canadian Politics: The Election Campaign

Well, once more the Conservatives have managed to annoy the hell out of me.

I was watching Stephen Harper's latest ads, which are set up to look like a newscast interviewing him.

Actually, I should correct that. I have never been able to sit through one of his ads.

The thing is, I am not a conservative. I support gay marriage, I believe that Canada needs public not-for-profit health care, and a national day care program. Stephen Harper does not. I don't believe we need more tax cuts. Stephen Harper does.

Now, I have not been following this campaign as closely as some. I know who I'm going to vote for, and it isn't the Conservatives. But I did want to talk about child care beacuse my baby just entered day care and it is costing us $62 a day. $310 a week. Put that to a year and it is $15,500, assuming 50 weeks. Now, Stephen Harper wants to give me $1200 a year towards that child care and to give tax breaks to for-profit child care companies to encourage the growth of more spaces.

He calls this "having a choice."

What he carefully doesn't say is that the Liberals (albeit with some NDP prodding) are working towards a national child care strategy which will create more not-for-profit, regulated, cheaper spaces. The example we should all strive for is Quebec's, where provincial child care programs cost $7 a day. This is a rate which no privately run child care program can match, because it is subsidized by the people of the province.

Public daycare, properly run, with proper standards of health, safety and education, ensures that all the children of the country will have the opportunity to gain valuable skills, learn to get along with one another, and get a jump on their education, at a price that we can all manage.

Private child care subsidies mean that private child care companies will pocket the extra money and keep charging the same amount.

I'm not voting Conservative, I hope you aren't either.

Back to work.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Going Again...

But not quickly. The big push on the first project is nearly over, which is why I'm taking a couple of minutes to write this.

The actual writing is continuing apace, though not quickly, and I actually got the chance to do some work on the website earlier this week.

I have decided to get a front page up on the website as soon as possible, just to get things started. The rest of the website will follow soon after, but or now I need to get the first page up so people can stumble across me and wonder who the heck I am.

Meanwhile, the world is moving into the holiday season, so whether you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or of another religion that has an occasion at this time, happy holidays.

Back to work.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Grinding to a Halt

So much for getting the website up in a timely fashion.

The good news is I now have some paying work that will cover our bills, help out a great organization (The Osteoporosis Society of Canada) and keep me in beer and skittles.

The bad news is that I have to cut back the amount of time I can spend on my website. Between the new contract and the rather busy schedule for the next week, I'm going to be lucky if I can find time to write, let alone work on other projects.

Still, money is good.

So, sorry about the website teasers, but I swear it will be up and running soon.

Back to work.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Damn Spam

Why, oh why, must there be a way to advertise in everything? Why, oh why, must there be spam? Have I not got enough to do without dealing with this garbage?

Okay, enough whining. A spam-bot has found me, and now I must activate the word verification feature on the comments. Hope it doesn't inconvenience anyone.

Back to work.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Thanks to the Green Knight

The Green Knight has recently posted a welcome to myself and another blogger who has recently joined Blogtopia (a term first coined by skippy the bush kangaroo).

It is nice to be part of the blogging community, even if I am using my blog for the purposes of shamelessly flogging my book and yapping about my writing. I promise postings on other topics, too , if I can ever think of something intelligent to say.

My thanks to The Green Knight, and if anyone aside from him is reading this blog, I highly recommend visiting his. He is an intelligent and thoughtful blogger whose posts on politics and religion are well-thought and well-written, and whose sense of humour rings out through his work.

Also thanks to Shakespeare's Sister, who was nice enough to drop a welcoming comment after the Green Knight's post. I also recommend her blog as well. Good posts, intelligent comments, fun questions.

Thanks both, and I will be adding you to my list of blogs, once I figure out how to set up links on this page.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

100 Pages!

The sequel to Small Magics (published by Dragon Moon Press, on shelves 2007) has reached 100 pages. This, of course, does not even represent one quarter of the book, but it's nice to hit that milestone. It reminds you that you are writing a novel and not short fiction.

The website is also progressing well, and I'm hoping to see it up shortly. The end of the month is seeming less likely, as I have some details to work out on my workshops page, still, I will hold out hope.

Yes, I do offer workshops. To see in what, wait for the website.

Also, I need to put together some links for my Links Page. Now, if there is anyone out there who actually reads this blog (which I'm thinking that there are precious few, right now), give me your suggestions for links. I will take them under advisement.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

It works! It works!

It is nice to find out that you've done something that momentarily removes the stigma of complete incompetence from you.

I've just done a test run on my website, and all the links work. A major victory.

The website is still not finished, as I have several pages left to build and have to consult with my editor on some things, but it is moving along on schedule. With a little luck and a fair bit of work, it will be up and ready to go by the end of the month.

Yay! Score one for the good guys!

Speaking of good guys, if you haven't seen Serenity (Josh Whedon's latest offering) I highly recoomend it. Smartly written, good action, good characters, and you don't have to have watched the TV series to understand it.

So, back to work.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

An anecdote (possibly apocryphal) and an update

A reclusive and very famous writer who had been asked to give a lecture on the craft at a local university. After many requests, he agreed to do so. When he arrived, the auditorium was packed with young, eager, want-to-be writers, ready to hear the words of the master.

He stepped up to the podium, looked at them all, said, "Why aren't you are home, writing?" and left.

Meanwhile, the website work is coming along. Only a few pages left to design and a bunch of images to scan in, after which I will email in all my files and hopefully get the thing up and running. Unfortunately, I have been ill this week (head-cold) as has my baby (she gave it to me) and my poor wife has been exhausted (getting up with the baby while I sleep the sleep of the drugged), so the website progress has been slowed (the time I usually work at it, I am looking after my baby so my wife can have well-deserved naps). I have still managed to get my writing in, though not at the rate I was previously. As my health picks up, so will the pace.

And could that paragraph have more parentheses in it?

Despite the slow-down, I have reached the half-way point on the fourth draft of the playscript I am adapting from a classical novel, and the work on Cold Magics is coming along nicely. I am hoping to have the first draft done sometime in the new year, say about March or so.

Of course, everytime I set myself such deadlines I invariably over-run them, so don't anyone hold their breath. It's strange, really. When I am working for deadlines outside of my own, I am usually on top of them.

Back to the writing. More later.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Friends in Good Places

A note of thanks to The Green Knight who has added me to his list of Darn Good Blogs. Having been a long-time visitor to his Blog, I will hope to be up the standard. For those of you who don't know him, I suggest you have a look. He has very good insight into politics, religion, human behaviour, and the art of obfuscation as practiced by governments, corporations, and others who don't want you to know what's going on.

I will be putting my own list of websites and Blogs up at some point, but right now I've got to finish my own website first. Rest assured, though, that the Green Knight will be on the list.

And now, having done very little this weekend, I want to get a couple of pages written before part two of Farscape: the Peacekeeper Wars comes on (Yes, I am a geek; look at what I write).

More later.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Website Work

Right now I am building the website to promote my book (soon to be books, I hope). It will have a link to this blog, because the cost of having a blog on your website is more than I'm willing to pay before I start making some actual money off the whole publishing thing.

Building the website has been fun. I had to teach myself Dreamweaver, which I highly recommend. The tutorial is good, the system pretty easy to use. My website's still a fair way from being ready, but I'm hoping to have it up in a month.

The next step will be learning HTML code, which I will also apply to prettifying this blog. Nice as it is, it could use some personal touches.

Meanwhile, it's late, and I have some writing to do before I sleep.

I'll write again soon.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Welcome to the Broken Quill

This is the Blog of fantasy writer Erik Buchanan (hence the URL). My first novel, Small Magics, is soon to be released by Dragon Moon Press.

The name "The Broken Quill" is a reference to a student tavern in the city of Hawksmouth, where part of the action of Small Magics takes place.

There will be more posting in the near future as I discuss the launch of my website--soon to be found at (it's not up yet, so don't bother looking), the development of other books and projects, and, of course, the release party for Small Magics.

I'll write again soon.

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