Tuesday, 24 January 2017

My Favourite Machiavelli

The person who impacted me the most in regard to my writing was my grade five elementary school teacher, Mr. Seale. I absolutely adored him. He was handsome, had a wicked sense of humour, and best of all, he was British. At that time, I had been in Canada perhaps two years, and I still missed England terribly. I felt like a square peg in a round hole. I dressed differently, and most importantly of all, at least to me, I spoke differently, a trait that other children were quick to make fun of. Mr. Seale, on the other hand, treated me as an intelligent child who had a valuable contribution to make to the class.
I must say I tried his patience daily! I acted up, talking in class, throwing things at other students, and just being a general nuisance. Mr. Seale, though, soon found my weakness; it was writing stories. Whenever I thought I could get away with it, I would write furtively in my special notebook. I wrote mystery stories similar to those of Enid Blyton, whose Famous Five series I loved. I don’t know how many times I got caught doing this in class, and Mr. Seale devised a perfectly delicious punishment. He would give me an after-school detention of one hour, and during that time, I was to do nothing but write. I was in Heaven!
He took to referring to me as “the naughty one”, which I secretly loved, but publicly made a fuss about. He also expanded my “punishment” by making me read my stories aloud to the class. At first, I was terrified, and the students were cruel in their taunts and criticisms of my work, but ever so slowly, that changed. It got to the point where they demanded more, and Mr. Seale had me read one chapter a day.
During that school year, I grew as a person and gained more confidence in my ability as a writer. As a side effect of my “punishment”, not only did my writing skills improve, I became a better student overall. I did not feel the need to act up any longer and disrupt the class. Mr. Seale still called me the “naughty one”, but it was kind of a joke between us.
That year, there was also a contest for all the students at the school, and joy of joys, it was a writing contest! We could write about anything we chose; it could be fiction or non-fiction, whith a minimum of 500 words. I was overjoyed until Mr. Seale said I had to come up with something new; I couldn’t do what I had already done. My heart sank, because I had run out of ideas, but Mr. Seale told me that all writers have that problem sometimes, and there was a name for it; Writer’s Block. I capitalize the phrase because it seemed so huge and insurmountable. I would put pen to paper, but nothing happened. Nothing.
It was then I learned never to give up. Mr. Seale played word games with me, and in doing so, the block slowly disintegrated. By making word associations, and branching off from each one, I got an idea for my story. I didn’t win, but I came in third, which thrilled me no end, because I got a little trophy and a badge that said “Writer” on it.
Without Mr. Seale’s help and patience, I don’t think I would have developed such a love for the English language. He also taught me to trust in myself and have confidence in my own abilities, even when others were cruel or unkind. When he signed my autograph book at the end of the year, he wrote; “To Susan Neri, the Naughty One.” I treasured that autograph for years, and looking back Mr. Seale was, in a way, a sort of Machiavelli, albeit a benevolent Machiavelli, and I owe him so much for the person I am today.

©Sue McCaskill, July 22, 2009


We went and joined the others beside the fire, and the sound of a drum being softly played nudged at my consciousness. A feeling of well-being crept over me and I relaxed back against a log, closing my eyes.

The drum called to me, to come travel with it, and without hesitation, I accepted the call. Instantly, I was among the stars, travelling faster than light. I was a star, I was stardust. My Soul followed the heartbeat of the drum, reveling in the beauty of the night and space, the thousands of twinkling stars, each one a Soul like me, Lost in this beauty, I forgot the troubles on Earth, and felt One with the Universe and Creation.

All too soon, I felt fingers on my forehead, and the voice of the Elder called to me, saying, Sister, come back. You have journeyed far, but now you must return.”
Slowly I opened my eyes, and was disappointed to be back on Earth in my body again. “How long have you been Journeying?” the Elder asked me.
“If you are referring to what just happened, this is the first time,”
The Elder said, “It is very rare to Journey like that the first time; indeed, it usually takes many times before travelling so far, and having an experience like that.”
It didn’t occur to me to ask him how he knew what had transpired on my Journey.
“I felt I was part of the stars, that I was stardust.”
He said, “Our People believe we came from the stars, so your Journey was a true Journey, almost unheard of for one not of the People.”

A feeling of honour and awe came over me, and my eyes filled with tears.
The Elder reached over and hugged me, and said, “Welcome to our family.”

**This is a dream I had last night, as real as if it happened in fact.**

Friday, 13 January 2017

Update of Book 2, Chaos and Light

In a perfect world, childhood is happy and carefree, but life is rarely perfect, as Penelope has discovered. Although she has recovered from her harrowing ordeal, it is not over by far. She is finding she must leave childhood behind, and behave like an adult, and take on adult responsibilities. She and her Soul Bond, Prudence, and allies Gillian and Rowena, must learn the most dangerous spells in order to defeat Marcus. They must learn in months what most students took three years or more to learn. However, they do have help, in the form of the redoubtable Hecate, Paddy, Morna, Jacob, Gillian's mother Sylvania, and Penelope’s father Gwyddion. In a surprise move, the Lady from the Garden has stepped in to help, something She has rarely done, and she has gifted Penelope and Gillian with magical daggers, which will prevent mortal harm coming to them or their Soul Bonds as long as the daggers are in their possession.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Life Interrupted

Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans! Between commissions, and film work, my writing has sadly gone by the wayside up until now. Hopefully, I can get back in the saddle, for a while, at least, until the next thing comes along! To those who have asked about the second book, hang in there; it will be done, just not as soon as I had wished!

Here is a tiny snippet from the book. As always, all writing is copyright Susan McCaskill. I know that should go without saying, but still...


The howling winds and screaming voices were taking their toll on Penelope, even though Prudence was valiantly trying to support her.
“Penelope, you have to try and hold on just a little bit longer. We are almost there.”
“I’m so tired; I can’t fight anymore.”
“Nonsense, girl,” came the gruff voice of Hecate. “You weren’t raised to be a quitter! Prudence is right. We are almost there,”
Penelope struggled to keep control of her safe place, even though her body was failing and she was slowly losing touch with reality.
“Paddy,” said Prudence. “We have to hurry! She is starting to lose her mind and her body can’t take much more.”
“We’re almost there,” assured Paddy. “Just a few more minutes.”
Prudence bit her lip, knowing Paddy was going as fast as he possibly could, and soon she saw the burning shores of the Black Isle. She and Paddy arrived at almost the same time as Hec, Morna, and Jacob.
“Alright.” Hec said briskly. “No time to waste. Paddy, hold on to me, and Prudence and Morna, hold onto me and Jacob. Jacob, hold on to Paddy’s harness. Here goes nothing.”
For a moment, nothing happened, then Prudence felt her stomach sink towards her feet, a flash, and a feeling of dizziness, and they were on the top of the Black Isle.
“We only have a few minutes before the voices and winds affect us. We must hurry.”
Off in the distance, they could see the pillars and the tiny figure of Penelope slumped in the chains that were attached to them.
“Hold on! Another short jump,” said Hec, and in a trice, they were beside Penelope.
Prudence ran to her, tears streaming down her face. “Penelope! We’re here! We’re here! Wake up!”
Sluggishly Penelope forced her eyes open, and through cracked lips whispered hoarsely, “You came,”
“Of course we did, silly girl” huffed Hec, sounding suspiciously close to tears herself. “Now, let’s get you home. Jacob, can you get her out of those blasted chains and carry her?”
No sooner said, Jacob had her out of the chains and tenderly wrapped in his coat, and snuggled against his broad chest.
“Good. Now let’s get home before...”
“Hecate!” Gwyddion’s voice roared. “What in blazes is going on?”

“Oh, drat,” muttered Hecate.

~Penelope Parker: Chaos and Light-copyright Susan McCaskill

Friday, 6 November 2015

Synopsis of Penelope Parker: Chaos and Light

Penelope has been rescued, more dead than alive by her friends, her cat, Hecate, and her Soul Bond, Prudence. Now that she has recovered, she and Prudence are hoping to get back to P.A.W.S. and resume their studies, but Marcus has other ideas. He is furious that Penelope and her mother were rescued, and he is bound and determined to catch them both again and finish what he started. What he doesn't reckon on, is his daughter, Gillian, who is sickened by her father's actions, and determines to put a crimp in them.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Emerging Local Authors Book Fair

Attended a book fair at the Nellie McClung library here in Victoria today. Didn't sell too much, but I met some fabulous people, and made new friends. And really, isn't that what it's all about? Selling books is great, but meeting new folks who are interested in the same thing you are, is even better!

Monday, 5 October 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015

Well, I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year! Missed last year, so have lots to make up! I hope to complete the second book in the Penelope Parker series. If you're interested in participating, go to NaNoWriMo and sign up.

Post a banner on your blog, or facebook to let the world know you accept the challenge!