Guest Post By Leenna Naidoo: My Personal Quests Within A Quest

When Mliae invited me to write a guest post, I was a little daunted. You see, Mliae’s one of my best blogging friends and I’ve loved Lifexperiment since I first came across it back in 2015 or so when I was on my own quest to get into this awesome thing called Blogging. I didn’t want to disappoint Mliae, and I didn’t want to disappoint you, either. But, what to write about? I could talk about my new book, Quest For Wholly Pale, and how excited I’m to finally have a paperback available globally! But, I’ve been talking about that for a while and it didn’t quite feel right. Still, this got me thinking about Emrys, his quest and his travels…and that got me thinking about my quest to be a writer and how my own travels contributed to it—to me! So, now that I’ve done this long and probably pointless intro, let me get on with it.

Leenna’s Quest For…

My quest to be a writer began at an early age and (not sadly) continues till this day. In fact, I can see it continuing indefinitely, which is probably a good thing. After all, how can I fail at being the writer I want to be if I’m still questing for it, right? Right? Nevertheless, I’m very grateful to be on this journey and to have experienced so many places, people, events and magical situations I never dreamt I could. This may have been, in part, because of some of my more eccentric real-life quests. Take that time I went in search of fairy tales in Scotland…

Leenna’s Quest For A Sense Of Scottish Fairy Tales

Imagine the Borders of Scotland back in 2000-2001 (yes, during the Foot&Mouth disease outbreak, and may the Belties recover), when summer was late and cool. I’d decided to visit the land of Michael Scott (mysterious wizard and scientist), Tam Lin (dubious but very cute romantic hero stolen by fairies then rescued), and Thomas The Rhymer (less mysterious but more enigmatic, who either ran away to the fairy queen or vanished into an abbey). I quickly came to realise that Michael Scott research was better done in books and, perhaps, in Spain, so here I’ll share my quests for the two Toms or Tams.

Thomas The Rhymer/True Thomas

With a friend hailing from Rhymer’s home town, it was fairly easy to complete my quest to experience something of Thomas the Rhymer, Laird of Eirceldoune. It was a Saturday’s (or was it Sunday’s) adventure: bus from Edinburgh to Galashiels, remembering to jump off at the Earlston (modern name of Eirceldoune) bus-stop. Vicki had said there was no museum but that the best coffeehouse/cafe in town looked right onto the remains of Thomas’ pele-tower house. She recommended the shrimp sandwich.

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I followed Vicki’s word and wasn’t disappointed despite the drizzle. The sandwich was excellent, the location more so, and the ruins, though small, quite beautiful. There I discovered brilliant yellow daisies cling precariously to old stone and make for gorgeous photos. While I saw no white harts, it was still a peaceful, magical day.

My second Thomas The Rhymer quest was not so successful, having more in common with Emrys’ quest for the Wholly Pale.

It was a few months later—July 2001, that I spent a weekend in Melrose, Scotland. I walked confidently along the country road a mile or so out of town (but don’t take my word for it as I’m terrible at gauging distance without a speedometer) and turned up a winding road in search of the Eildon Tree where Thomas is said to have first met and fell in love with the Fairy Queen. My guidebook informed me the Tree was ancient even in Thomas’ time, and was protected by law. My confidence didn’t falter as I strode up the steep hill because I’d noted the tourist information sign at the turning which had an icon of a tree and the words ‘Eildon Tree ¼ mile’, and I was pretty sure that meant it was less than a kilometre’s walk. No prob, right? Right?

After what seemed like 20 minutes of walking but may have been less, I took a breather opposite a graveyard with a huge, beautiful yew tree standing royally at its centre. That must be the Eildon Tree, I thought, but what is it doing in a graveyard? Nevertheless, I tentatively took some steps into the cemetery. A family watched me quizzically but not unfriendly, probably wondering what a tourist was doing out there. I approached with hesitance as a man advanced in the same manner. I asked him, beginning to feel embarrassed, if the yew was the Eildon Tree. He smiled widely. “Ah, no! It’s aboot a quarter mile up the road!” He pointed further up the steepening hill. I thanked him and walked back to the tarmac to resume my climb.

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Ten minutes or more later and certain I’d come over that ¼ mile, the road curved dramatically around the hill. Quickening my steps, I thought with relief, It must be somewhere just around that corner.

If it does, I shall never know.

The road continued curving around, but my path was blocked by a chain-link fence right across the way with a construction site beyond. It was deserted. No friendly soul to ask if the Tree was another ¼ mile up that hill somewhere, or if the Fairy Queen had spirited it away just to annoy me. There was nothing to do but to retrace my steps: defeated, forlorn and longing for a good cuppa tea, and wondering if the Eildon Tree can only be seen by a few like True Thomas…

Tam Lin

In August (or was it September) 2001, I hired a little car (Peugeot) and spent a couple of days in Dumfries and Galloway (that’s the western side of the Scottish border with England, as opposed to the Eastern side of the Scottish border known as The Borders. Don’t ask. I tried, and…Just don’t.). I’d decided that it was time to discover more about Tam Lin, a figure I’d had a crush on ever since reading Diana Wynne Jone’s Fire And Hemlock, which is based on the traditional ballad and fairy tale of Tam Lin (Tamlane). Earlier that year, I’d journeyed to Lauriston in the Borders where his purported family, the Roxboroughs, have their estate open to the public (yes, like Rhymer, he was a real person). While an interesting visit, I couldn’t find any references to Tam Lin, and eventually asked a distinguished elderly woman (who, I’d like to think, was probably one of his descendants) for help. She was kind enough to direct me to another younger, enthusiastic scholarly woman who very kindly copied some references in an old book for me and who directed me to Abbotsford, but that’s another story.

So, on my D&G trip with the car handy, I was determined to visit Tam Lin’s well—the site where he met and fell in love with Fair Janet, or rather, she fell for him.

It was a long and hairy drive up the famous old pass on the Old Selkirk Road that leads from D&G into the Borders. Negotiating 80 degree bends (but don’t take my word for it) and bleating sheep was exhausting. I found Tam’s Well with little difficulty by following the road signs and indications in my guidebook, and…well!

They were right. It’s a very spooky place. I was glad it wasn’t yet Halloween.

But there is a well!

Which was kind of an anticlimax. No roses. No Tam Lin. No faint call of Fairy Land…or maybe there was. I stood there for a good ten minutes or so, just in case ol’ Tam wanted to turn up after all even though he had been rescued. I grew colder, uneasy, looking across the road to the trees and tangled undergrowth across the road, and trying not to shiver. When I’d had my fill of water (not from Tam’s well, I’m not that stupid!), I decided to call it a successful quest and head off for lunch and nice cuppa tea, which, in my humble opinion, is the best way to end all quests—or at least, quests within quests.

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Thank you for journeying through my Scottish quests with me. I hope you’ll join me in discovering Emrys Lailoken’s and friends’ in Quest For The Wholly Pale, and where my personal quest as a writer takes me next.

In the meantime, I wish you well, fortitude, and much wonderful magic in your own quests, be they personal or professional.

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About Quest For The Wholly Pale

A young wandman on a fool’s quest. A six-fingered former thief with a taste for a good brew. An animate parchment born of magic and a boy’s despair. The one’s Emrys Lailoken, the other his best friend and companion Dierder, and the third, naturally, is Parchment. Together they will learn what disaster spells like, how randomly love casts its nets, and just how far a bad old-fashioned pun can take you. Full of feint-hearted wizards, feared less young witches, and the occasional needling demon, this story will have you seeing stars…and the odd planet.

ISBN: 978-1-947655-31-7

Available At Most Regional and Online Book-stockist as well as specialist stores including:

Barnes and Noble

Waterstones

Carrefour Spain

Booktopia

Amazon

About Leenna

Leenna writes cross-genre suspense, romance, and dabbles in sci-fi/fantasy. She also reads the tarot. Her short stories have appeared in Mad Scientist Journal, SciPhi Journal, and Cosmic Roots And Eldritch Shores where she also serves as editor’s assistant to the Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales department. Her most recent attempts to channel Terry Pratchett-style fiction can be found in Quest For The Wholly Pale. When not writing, she often tries her hand at anything vaguely artistic. She blogs and shares updates on her writers blog and her creatives blog. Her tarot resources and videos are shared on her Patreon and her YouTube channel as Writerstarot With Leenna.

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Let’s Do This! Time To Say ‘I-DO’!

Today’s the day!

Time to pack our bags and hit the road! We had a hard time trying to figure out how to get our families to the same places, so instead made it impossible for everyone and chose a destination wedding!

Afterwards, we got a great honeymoon trip to the U.S.A.! We’re so excited! It will only be about 1 week, and I have scheduled a few small posts. I’ll tell you ALL about everything when we return!

I will, of course, be checking in from time to time because…well, I just can stay away too long!

Thank you for putting up with me during our wonderfulness and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Wish me luck!

-Mliae

When your couples workout fantasy doesn’t go as planned.

Yes, I gave it a go and found myself looking like a wimp.

My fiancé is a beast. The man works out and works out hard. Since we enjoy doing basically everything together, we had discussed how nice it would be to do a couples workout together every now and then.

I’ve really wanted to do this, but have been a bit shy to exhibit my lack of extreme workout skills in front of him. Now, please understand; It’s not like I’m incapable of exercise. I spent a large portion of this Spring/Summer working with David at Chape Personal Trainer, and he forced me to get used to some uncomfortable workouts. Luckily, I have managed a bit of stamina due to these sessions. However, I have gotten a bit comfy in my own skin recently, and my private workouts are more of a girl routine. I am not used to jumping, bending and sweating like a man.

Ok, so that’s where we were. Last night, I worked up the guts to tell my guy that I’m still interested in the couple workouts. Today, he started to workout and I watched. When I asked to join, I quickly realized that the skill level is a bit (OK, A LOT) over my ability. OK…

We started talking and I found myself exhibiting the exercises I do on my own. And then being coached. And having more weight added. By the time we got through, he was timing me, and forcing me to continue with a kettle bell 50% heavier than the one I’ve been using – and going full-on drill sergeant on me while I was doing my reps. I felt like such-a-girl…

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I must admit though, that even though our ‘couples workout’ really was him coaching and me begging to stop, I enjoyed doing it together. I also feel a twisted sense of accomplishment. To be continued tomorrow…or maybe Tuesday ;P

Walking like John Wayne tomorrow

-Mliae

 

 

Recycled Book Reading Challenge: The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren

Welcome to my November 1st post for the Recycled Book Reading Challenge! If you would like to join, please check out the original post here for the ‘rules’ and start reading! For those awesome ones of you who are already doing the monthly challenge, I wanted to let you know that I’ve decided to extend it beyond 12 months (for myself, at least). It’s been such a fun challenge to do and I’ve enjoyed reading your posts so much that I would like to make this a permanent monthly series here on Lifexperiment Blog! 🙂

I used to love this book when I was child. I know that it has been translated into many different languages in the past 40 years, so when I saw this last month in a second hand store for .50 cents, and in English, I had to buy it!

This is a children’s book, although nowadays it might be considered a bit heavy for children reading since most versions include the realities of death, disease, tyranny and betrayal. (Like most of the classics)

When Karl is hit with a difficult disease, his older brother Jonatan soothes him with tales of Nangijala, a city in the afterlife. Shortly after that, the home catches fire and in order to save his brothers life, Jonatan leaps out of a window carrying Karl on his back. Karl is devastated by the death of his older brother, but not long after, on one very sleepy night, Karl finds himself and his brother in the city of Nangijala.

Nangijala is a peaceful city, but alas, it is only one city…there are others. And in the next town, there is an evil tyrant named Tengil and his dragon Katla which are reading havoc.

The Brothers Lejon (Lion), Karl and Jonatan, lead the battle against the tyrannical Tengil and his dragon…and it all revolves around a magical trumpet.

In the end, well I don’t want to give too much away – Let’s just say that there are even better cities, which are more peaceful and happier places for the deceased, beyond, in another level. It seems like a never ending cycle, dying, living, dying and re-birth again.

I loved reading this book as much as I loved having it read to me as a child.

Have you read The Brothers Lionheart?

Here are two links to the publishers online sales if you love this book:

USA – The Brothers Lionheart
UK – The Brothers Lionheart

What are your reads for Octobers recycled book reading challenge?

Thanks for reading!

-Mliae

Window to Another Dimension: The Art of Orna Ben-Shoshan #AWindowtoAnotherDimensionTheartofOrnaBenShoshan


A very cool and original book about the art of Orna Ben-Shoshan and the artist herself.

Her art is somewhat surreal and somewhat not. She is an artists in the 2000’s, yet her oil paintings contain almost cartoonesque medieval figures and colours. The appeal, for me anyway, is that in each painting there is something a bit off about it. Upside down sitters, spun hair and surrealistic wavy checkerboard floors all add to the appeal of her quirky, admirable artwork.

The artist is said to have had a life-long interest in metaphysics and mysticism which is clearly reflected in her artwork. Her works are fascinating, exhibiting a slightly twisted yet healthy sense of humor combined with a sense of fantasy and mysticism.

Most of her art is in oil. She does do digital art as well, which is pretty cool. My favourite is ‘The Jeweler, 2006’ and it doesn’t look like digital art at all.

Another super cool surprise with this book, is that when you open your kindle reader (if you get the e-book), there is a link where the artist has offered a complimentary copy of one of her works as a Thank-You for purchasing the book. We are putting ours up on our wall 😉

I would recommend this book for surreal art fans. It’s pretty cool! The hardback would make a great coffee table book. If you would like to check out Orna Ben-Shoshan’s artwork, you can find it here.

Thank you for reading!

-Mliae

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Let the wedding planning commence!

We have been throwing around A LOT of ideas. And thanks to pinterest and my frenemy: google, we also have a lot of other peoples ideas to play with. We are SO excited!

The problem here? Champagne taste and a beer budget. Luckily, my fiancé wants to be involved in the planning process, so I know that whatever we do, it will be a reflection of the two of us. Lucky me again, he loves me enough to not fight over the little details. He knows that if theres something I desire enough to actually admit to it, that its something I really want and he tries to find a way to make it happen. ❤

But now here we are. Standing at the abyss of wedding planning. Small or big? We both prefer to have only those closest to us on our special day. So, small it is.

Outdoors or indoors? Me? I am absolutely obsessed with the idea of an outdoor wedding and reception. He would be fine anywhere I’m just happy. (But I think he prefers outdoors too.) So, outdoors it is. Next step? A back-up plan for in climate weather. This is where I’m stuck. With tent rentals running at an average  of 500 for a small gathering, and then top that off with the cost of decorating yet another area, I can see my credit limit at max with just one small decision.

Where? Well, that gets a bit tricky. As wherever we are, only one of us will have our people there. For the most part.

Food? Cake? Decor? Trying, trying, trying…

Any helpful advice?

-Mliae

 

Book Review: Daughter of the Sun by Zoe Kalo #WWVBT


I literally could not stop reading this book. I was hooked within the first 2 chapters and found myself reading the entire day until I had read this book in its entirety. I haven’t done that in years!

The setting begins in a convent/orphanage where Trinity, almost 17 years old, discovers that she does indeed have surviving family who have found and sent for her. Escorted to her home by a mysterious, slightly glamorous woman, Trinity finds herself and her new cat Slugger on the Isle of Cats off the coast of Turkey,  and life as she knows it, is officially and completely turned upside down.

This socially awkward teenager has her eyes forcibly opened to a whole new realm of possibilities, history and a terrifying lack of control in her newly acquired circumstance. As a reprieve, she enjoys the company of her fun-loving, ill tempered and misunderstood ‘cousin’ Ara and her friends.

Trinity has a lifetime of questions, which she has to struggle to get the answers for. This strong-willed, hard-headed and hot-tempered girl sets out to find the answers at any cost. In most cases, only leading to more unanswered questions. On her quest for the truth, Trinity enters into a dark reality from which there is seemingly no return.

You see, Trinity was born on the solar eclipse. And on her 17th birthday at the Summer Solstice, there will be another eclipse, only a rarer one…when the moon turns blood red. It comes about only every 170 years. There is an ancient Egyptian prophecy about what will come to play on this evening, but only certain people are aware of it. By the time you finish this book, you’ll be chanting Margarets words: ‘The three of you must work together…

I’m having to exercise some willpower here in order to not give a complete summary of the book because its really good and I think it should be read and enjoyed – not given the cliff notes version. The e-book can be purchased HERE for $1.23 on amazon.

This book contains the mystical, the mysterious, the fun and sun that we all find ourselves longing for on occasion. It’s an easy read, which makes it one just fall into the pages…turning, turning and turning until many hours later when you’ve finally reached the thrilling and much anticipated conclusion. I would recommend this book as a good read for adults and teens alike, but my suggestion is the 15+ age range.

The author, Zoe Kalo writes with a passion and knowledge of Egyptology that will send you on a mythological treasure hunt of your own. Read and enjoy!

Looking forward to the second book in this series!

-Mliae

*Disclosure: I was granted a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. Which has been given. I really enjoyed it 🙂 #WWVBT