Twyla Locke: Murderess or Scapegoat?

Time to meet the first character in “Fates Maelstrom”, my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel. And the opening mystery in the North Wales-based series, “Snowdon Shadows”. As some of the characters appear in the sequels, the key question is, “Who survives to tell the tale?”

Twyla Anemone Locke?


In the opening scene, this nineteen year-old Welsh gypsy girl, is the main suspect in a murder, and being grilled by the police.

So Twyla, why should we care about you?

I want the chance to help my family and my community in Craig-o-Niwl, and I need someone to listen to my side of things before the mouthy men – the police or Heddlu – jump to conclusions because of my gypsy blood.

I just want to continue studying for my Diploma in Horticulture at Northop College. But all that changed when I got arrested for my English grandfather’s murder. Why me? I loved my Pappus, so I must be innocent. I spent time with him at his home, Hawktrewen Park, because I adored him.

My apologies. It’s hard not to pry. Is there a reason for their suspicion?

Other than the evidence they claim to have? I’m not good at being accused of something. All my guilt turns on me. The voices come back. The past mistakes. My blood.

What voices? What mistakes? Are these important to your character?

The voice feels like a shadow haunting me. It has lurked throughout my life – in my memories, experiences, and nightmares. I can hear her voice. Yes, she’s a girl like me. I’ve always been aware of her shadow, ever since my first bad dream. My earliest memory is a nightmare of a boat on a lake and clinging onto someone for life. It was explained as a genetic memory of my parents – of my dad Alex saving my mum Jewell and their unborn child from drowning – the night that I was born.

When I was a kid, the shadow became my invisible friend, called Midge.  I talked to her and even blamed her – she was the sister I never had. She was my confidante when hiding in bushes or trees away from other kids. And when I was sick, then so was Midge.

Now I’ve been arrested for a murder that I can’t remember commiting. When I was younger, I could have blamed Midge. If the shadow is real could it steal my ID, my memories, and my life? Because some people feel that my madness and amnesia is a means to hide from my guilt.

They say that I’m a serial offender and a juvenile delinquent. But the crimes were real petty – not even bad ones…all misunderstandings. It’s just prejudice because I’m a gypsy. Okay there were four charges but I can explain them all, if anyone gives me the chance – which they don’t.

Are we talking about prejudice because of race?  

My dark, foreign looks make me stand out. Some might be kind and say they’re exotic. My skin might be olive, and could be called Mediterranean. But there’s more Eastern blood in me – mixed with the gaje from my dad. The dark brown eyes and black hair must be from my gypsy mother. Maybe the strong bones and muscles are my father, but they make me like a tomboy, when I dress in jeans.

How would you describe your personality?

I lack self-confidence and will often question myself. But that’s better than acting too quick. When compared with friends, I’m an overweight underachiever. I’ve yet to do what my parents dreamt of doing. They died before they could make the community better. On good days I am determined. But more often it’s better to close the world off, and deal with things in my head. 

Do people understand you? Or do they all shun you?

People close to me, like my fellow gypsies at Horn’s Rhych, they understand me. However, I often wonder if other people understand me. Even friends at college can act weird towards me – asking ‘is that what Gypsies think/do/like?’, or even expecting me to read their hands or cards. One even produced a crystal ball. I’m just a gardening student not a fortune teller.

But some folks are antagonistic. ‘You’re different’, ‘you smell’, ‘my phone got stolen… by her.’ The mouthy men think that about not just me. I’m an outsider and so are my people.

Yet the locals come to the Rhych and buy plants and food from us. Most of them don’t stare or act rude. The Welsh have been treated badly themselves, so understand about prejudice. You could say that the English are the outsiders, or invaders, that took the land and the prime jobs. But then I’m part Locke, and they’re the local English landowners.

What is your worst fear?

I’m terrified of dying young like my parents – at 19 like my mother. That’s why I’m afraid of lakes – they died on Lake Como. Drowned. Well, my father did, having saved my mum. But then she died a few hours later giving birth… to me. And I’m now nineteen and it will be months before my twentieth birthday, so it could still happen.

What do you think is going to happen next?

The mouthy men will find me guilty of murdering my Pappus. That will cause trouble between my two families, and mean the end of Horn’s Rhych. And the end of my parents dreams for Craig-o-Niwl and Hawktrewen estate.

What are you going to achieve in this story?

I need to prove my innocence, or someone else has too. And find the real killer. If not then I must ensure that the two communities don’t blame each other for my failure. My ancestors will not forgive me, even if they can torment the murderer. They are talking to me already. Their eyes see everything.

Are you going to die in this story?

I hope that I live. Unless my death helps solve the crime. Or is my health going to kill me? What would be the point of that? I need to die achieving something.


Welcome to the Gossamer World

Photo of a cloud illuminated by sunlight. ~ by Ibrahim Iujaz from Rep. Of Maldives

Photo of a cloud illuminated by sunlight. ~ by Ibrahim Iujaz from Rep. Of Maldives

For some months I have been posting about my “Gossamer Steel” world, but now that world has evolved. Welcome to its new incarnation.

Gossamer Flames” is a series of short stories and novellas set in the post-apocalyptic world that arises after a catastrophic event leaves the planet ravaged and divided. Society is forced to adapt to a changed world where the surviving enclaves need to make use of their remaining resources. Only two regions are known to survive, Bhārata, formerly the Indian sub-continent, and The Country, comprising parts of Scandinavia. However, there are pockets of survivors in other areas, including within the desert areas of North America, in some remote mountainous regions of the Andes, and on some islands. Most of these are totally isolated from each other post the apocalypse.

The two principal enclaves of The Country (Scandinavia) and Bhārata (India sub-continent) have adopted economies that are regenerative and structured around renewable energy. Bhārata has the advantage of being built on the Republic of India’s self-reliance policy, although it is also hampered by the scale of the challenge. In The Country myths have come alive again and permeate society, but not all the forces favour re-building the world. The Ravagers, the people that pushed the technological fixes and exploitation of the Earth, are committed to destroying the greenpunk solutions that could be the future.

My 2014 posts in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge focused on various aspects in this future world, which at that point was still called Gossamer Steel, as in the Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) that provides the mystery in my cyber-crime novel “Wyrm Bait”. In the MMORPG the two main playing zones are Bhārata and The Country and the game touches on aspects of the tales.


A is for Array ~ B is for the Blood-Marked ~ C is for Corylus Avellana ~ D is for Duskweald ~ E is for Energy ~ F is for Feeniks ~ G is for Garuda ~ H is for Herders ~ I is for Ithaka ~ J is for Junk ~ K is for Kitsune ~ L is for Lorelei ~ M is for Mojave ~ N is for Native~ O is for Outcasts  ~ P is for Punk ~ Q is for Quisling ~ R is for Ragnarök ~ S is for Seiðr ~ T is for Technology ~ U is for Urdu~ V is for Vidda ~ W is for Windsong ~X is for Xerarch ~ Y is for Yggdrasil  ~ Z is for Zephyr

Although “Gossamer Steel” had a good ring as a game, I felt that I needed a different title for the series of tales. An author needs a title that doesn’t require explaining, just one that sparks interest. I suggested various options to my followers, and after assessing your feedback, Gossamer Flames seemed the most appropriate and the most popular. Warning – explanation ahead!!

Dewy Cobweb ~ by Norman Hyett

Dewy Cobweb ~ by Norman Hyett

Gossamer as in spider silk that makes such intricate webs, although technically gossamer is the silk used by spiderlings for ballooning or kiting to reach other locations. Spiders are often among the first inhabitants to recolonize a devastated area. Thus after an apocalypse Gossamer allows for new life and in my stories it also reflects the light touch of healing the planet. However, spider silk is both delicate and strong, exhibiting a unique combination of high tensile strength and extensibility. Most important, weight for weight, spider silk is stronger than steel, thus a force that cannot be ignored even amid the harshness of industrial solutions to the devastating problems remaining. Steel then is a contrast to Gossamer but I needed something even more evocative, hence ‘Flames’.

Flames have multiple meanings as in energy and passion as well as the destructive sense.  Flames can also generate ‘steam’, which covers the Steampunk’ elements in some of the tales. Flames can be both the devastating forces that threaten the world from the outset, and the passions that drive many of the characters forward towards the Renascence at the end.


As my Gossamer Flames tales are released, I will post more details on the new Gossamer Flames page.


I is for Ithaka


II is for IthakaIthaka: The Tapestry is a game developed by Prinaka, the company behind the ‘Gossamer Steel’ MMORPG that appears in the cyber-mystery ‘Wyrm Bait’.

Ithaca is the home of the legendary Greek hero Odysseus, and Ithaka is also a famous poem by the Greek poet C P Cavafy that pays homage to Homer’s Odyssey, one of the greatest epic poems written. After the victory of the Greeks in the Trojan War, Odysseus sets sail for his home on Ithaca. But, as the mastermind behind the Trojan Horse deception, he had incurred the wrath of the God Poseidon, who tries to ensure that he never reaches his wife Penelope and their son Telemachus. On his ten year journey, Odysseus faces cyclops, lotus-eaters, sea monsters, and hostile giants, then finds himself trapped by the beautiful nymph Calypso on an island. When he finally reaches home, Odysseus reclaims control of Ithaca. But if you don’t know the full story read more here.

Cavafy’s poem addresses our personal journey to Ithaka, and pays homage to Homer’s epic poem. For an excellent article on “Ithaka” with a link to a powerful Sean Connery reading, with music by Vangelis, go to:


I is also for Inventors and for India, which as Bhārata is central to the world’s survival. In the world of Gossamer Steel an Indian engineer attempts to unlock the secret to teleportation. Without inventors and inventions going back to the wheel and earlier, humanity would not have progressed as far as we have. The inventions have been made by people all over the globe, not just in the West. There have been periods, such as the Industrial Revolution, when enormous strides have been made, although sometimes these periods have been times of war. Not every invention has been beneficial, although are the scientist to blame or the paymasters? Many of the inventions that arise in the world of Gossamer Steelare rooted in our current world, although the apocalypse precipitates their creation.

I is also for the ice-wraiths that terrorise The Country, imps and idad or yew, one of the Ogham trees.



A is for Array ~ B is for the Blood-Marked ~ C is for Corylus Avellana ~ D is for Duskweald ~ E is for Energy ~ F is for Feeniks ~ G is for Garuda ~ H is for Herders


The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The World of Gossamer Steel, the SF-fantasy setting for a series of short stories and novellas that portray the tales behind the MMORPG that is central to my crime novel ‘Wyrm Bait’.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014] (1)

Two Futures: Facts or Fiction

What is the best way forward for this blog?

Ever since I wrote my post Eight Headless Chickens I have been wondering what the most important next step is.

The clear priority has to be our move to Wales, and – Beware Cliché – fingers & toes crossed, that is proceeding smoothly thanks to my wife and special friends, but no thanks to immediate family. By the end of February, I should be blogging from a new desk with a view of Harlech, the sea and mountains in Snowdonia.

But even with the inspiring view what will I blog about?

I have two, or is it three futures that are churning around in my mind.

  1. Facts: the simplest way forward. I continue posting my usual observations on my experience of the writing process, interspersed with thoughts on issues of the day. As a relative newcomer to writing, at least in getting published, I feel unable to offer great insights on good writing techniques. There are far better sites/blogs for that, some in my Links.
  2. Fiction: tasters of my writing. Should my blog become a means to release short fiction strategically over time?  Since the start of the year, I have been working on short stories and now have seven at various stages. They are loosely connected, in that they are set in the same world, one akin to the game Gossamer Steel, so that is their collective title.
  3. Dual carriageway: a mix of both Facts and Fiction. So when a story was written and edited it would be available, and when I was inspired to supply concrete Facts that would be the post.

Which do I choose, 1, 2, or 3? What would you the readers of this Blog prefer? Why do you tune in here to what I write?

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Of course life is never simple, especially here at Writing Wings where there are challenges.

There is another element, a Newsletter. It’s an option that I have given serious thought to. The factual blog would continue to share my thoughts and experiences as a writer, and as a retiree with MS. The tasters of my fictional worlds would continue, whether as interviews or as extracts.

However, for those of you that sign up to my Gossamer Wings Newsletter there would be treats: the tasters would become short stories for free. In that way you could see how the Gossamer Steel universe evolved. I would also be extremely grateful for your comments and feedback, as they would contribute to the ongoing story, providing an invaluable asset in developing the world.

As part of the ongoing creation, I am using Aeon Timeline to construct a Chronology into which the short stories fit. In the same universe, I also have two novellas that I intend to self-publish and release later this year so everyone can experience the world of Gossamer Steel.

Should newsletter subscribers benefit with the novellas in some way? Is having a pre-taste of the world enough? There would be other news and fictional snippets in the newsletter as well.

What about a life of crime? Have I abandoned my criminals and their victims? Never.  As well as a stand-alone psychological thriller, there is the cyber-crime novel, ‘Wyrm Bait’. This is the first of a series that has the gaming world of Gossamer Steel as its background.

Plus there is the sequel to ‘Spiral of Hooves’ that I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2013. ‘Tortuous Terrain’ the second part of the Chasseur series has to have a future as well. The reviews on Amazon and elsewhere have been five star, so I have a lot of positive thoughts looking ahead.

So what do you feel is my future? Please, gaze not into your crystal ball but into the past at what you enjoyed. What do you want next?

Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)

Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)


* * * * *


On Monday I will be taking part in an exciting blogfest and sharing my experiences, so far, on marketing. Do I dare mention my past in the film industry?

What Works…

The first ever “Online Marketing Symposium!

A blogfest with information you can use.

The event happens on Monday January 20, 2014.

 what-works-jan-20 copy

Baiting The Bull


Setting New Year Resolutions is a bad idea, and I’m entitled to say that after six decades filled with failed attempts. That is also the motivation not to make that mistake this year, so no resolutions. I promise.

On January 1st 2013 I wrote a post entitled How hard are the Three Rs. It was an attempt to look ahead at my plans and resolutions for 2013, and to reflect on 2012. I admit that even though I achieved a few of the goals – publication, an editor, new readers, and maxing two MMORPG characters – I failed at the harder tasks, like writing 100k in 100 days and getting more drafts revised.

Therefore for 2014 I have a very simple To Do List, with one item: write or edit a few words each day. In that way the ‘bait for the bull’ is less overt, and I might even get something finished, be it a novel like Wyrm Bait or a short story.

Back in December I made the rash decision to do 100k in 100 days again. My total last January-April was 15,411 and in the summer I improved that by writing 32k in 100 days. What was I thinking? Not a good idea. I knew that it was impossible with all the preparation for our move at the end of February/early March.

Perhaps, having written over 50k in November for NaNoWriMo, I had a false sense of my capabilities. At least then I had a clear outline for ‘Tortuous Terrain’, and I knew my characters plus the ending. Yes, the first draft of ‘Tortuous Terrain’ has joined the queue, and one day it will be revised.

A short story set in the fantasy world eluded to in Wyrm Bait did inspire 1,530 words over the first two days of January. But even with this post I will be behind on the challenge. And I haven’t even missed a day through ill-health.

However, I signed up for My 500 Words: A Writing Challenge, which is more manageable, especially if I can count the same words for both challenges. But maybe I am misinterpreting the rules since my 1,500 word story was written over two days, so I cannot carry the surplus forward… or even future shortfalls. Does that mean that I fail again?

Unless I waffle on for another 107 words.

Therefore I will end by saying that, although I will do one or two more Spiral of Hooves interviews, I am considering changing what I blog about. Since the future priority has to be getting another novel published, and Wyrm Bait is the most evolved, I will blog more about the fantasy, cyber-crime and gaming elements that I am researching for short stories being written against the same background. Short stories are going to have to be part of my future. I may even revise some really old manuscripts.

Or do you have any better suggestions?

Which of my post have you enjoyed most?

Should I take more photos and write less?

Or do you want to taste more fiction?

Life Throws Curve Balls

A foggy evening 01

A foggy evening 01 (Photo credit: AnneCN)

This was meant to be my first attempt at an Insecure blog having failed to do one on the first Wednesday in October or November – sorry IWSG.

Damn those curve balls, whether they be my health (MS), stress, or moving plans. They keep on coming, so I keep trying to knock them away. This is another attempt, although I should be doing my tax return.

Starting on a positive note, I managed to write 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo in November, and a week later I had typed the last word ~ ‘forever’. This was only a 60k rough first draft of ‘Tortuous Terrain’, but at least it’s something to work on. With a lot of revision, editing, and critique, I should be able to produce a fitting sequel to ‘Spiral of Hooves’, my first published novel, coming shortly from Spectacle Publishing Media Group.

However, my 2013 NaNo effort will have to join the queue behind four other novels needing revision, although it might jump the queue a bit if the demand is there, and if other efforts are deemed unworthy of revision. And that is where I am in a quandary, and where I am Insecure. Where do I go from here? What do I tackle next? How can I improve my editing process, which with ‘Spiral of Hooves’ took at least a decade?

I look at the speed of others when it comes to producing finished books, and I marvel… and I shudder. Most of my Facebook writing friends are completing a book a year, sometimes as many as five. Some are even producing short stories as well. Although my health is a drawback, I am retired with more time, supposedly, than many of my colleagues.


What do I give up doing? Linking with the digital world, by checking emails and social media? Learning my craft, by reading other blogs? My only escape, gaming?

Or do I set tighter deadlines? Or do I chill out and tell myself that at sixty I still have time? Or maybe I must accept that in the next life I will start trying to be a writer earlier.

It’s not straightforward when I find it easier plotting a new novel, even writing that first draft, than editing. I even have a sequel to the sequel churning around in my head… ever since I read a blog about writing a series, which suggested that one write the first and have the synopsis of Book 2 and of 3 in the wings. Great when I have two series in the pipeline ~ the Chasseur series (Spiral of Hooves++) and the Gossamer Steel series (Wyrm Bait++).

The solution is out there somewhere, but for now I will stop being a lone wolf howling at the moon, and stop baring my soul here so I can go edit ‘Wyrm Bait’, the next novel crying out for an audience. It’s already had at least two drafts, several critiques, and a professional edit.

Time to get the red pens out.

Is that the best solution? Or have I dismissed a better one above?


November (Photo credit: Cape Cod Cyclist)