Helena Handcart

I’d wish to introduce you to a brand new buddy of mine – her title’s Helena:

Okay, she’s not strictly talking a buddy, she’s a enterprise, however she’s an concept I dreamt up with certainly one of my oldest buddies final 12 months and, because the months have passed by and we’ve plotted and deliberate to make her a actuality, we’ve develop into somewhat keen on her. You see, Helena is a optimistic and decided type of a personality. Feisty and no-nonsense however with a coronary heart as gentle as melted butter. She’s focussed too, she is aware of what’s necessary to her – creativity and compassion – and she or he desires to make use of artwork to make a distinction.

I’m nonetheless speaking about her like she’s an individual, aren’t I?  Okay, let’s rewind…

I made no secret of how I felt concerning the world final 12 months – the EU referendum with its local weather of hate and the racism that the outcome appeared to legitimise, the horrendous terrorist assaults, Trump, the political and social conditions in nations across the globe, even the celeb dying toll… it began to really feel like we have been all going to, effectively, hell in a handcart…

All this was the main focus of many discussions with my greatest mate, Sus, on our month-to-month dinner dates within the Scottish borders. We reside over 100 miles aside (in Scotland and Northumberland) and there’s slightly pub we go to – half approach between our houses – that has, for the final six and a half years, been our retreat from all the opposite calls for on our time. There we go to eat, chat, and put the world to rights. And, being illustrators, we regularly draw too. Not for work functions, we simply discover that, in a humorous type of approach, drawing makes us really feel higher about issues.

The two of us outside the Bucchleugh Arms

The 2 of us outdoors the Bucchleugh Arms

Anyway, on a kind of events whereas drawing and having an excellent outdated rant, we determined sufficient was sufficient. We have been sick of feeling helpless amidst every thing that was occurring. We wished to do one thing – even when it was solely a really small factor – to make a optimistic distinction. And we determined artwork may assist us obtain that… and so the concept for Helena was born.

miniature cards range

The small change vary. These use my miniature drawings that are reproduced precise measurement on the playing cards. I like drawing issues small!

So, to get again to introductions:  Helena Handcart is a greetings card enterprise that’s dedicated to doing a little good. To that finish, 50p of every card we promote is donated to grassroots charities dedicated to causes near our hearts. Sus and I design the playing cards, they usually’re printed by a stunning firm known as Six Print who assist the Woodland Belief venture and use solely carbon captured papers for the manufacturing of their greetings playing cards.

Alll together now range

A few of our ‘All collectively now’ vary of playing cards by Sus, pictured in entrance of the forth bridge the place Sus lives!

We have now two accomplice charities in the mean time who’re the fabulous Starcatchers who concentrate on enhancing the lives of the below fives by means of artistic experiences, and Disaster Classroom who consider in empowerment by means of schooling of all refugees. As a result of they’re grassroots organisations, even tiny donations could make a distinction to folks’s lives and we’re thrilled that each time anybody buys certainly one of our playing cards, we’re capable of just do that.

I’d love you to go to our Etsy store and try all our playing cards. We’re engaged on extra designs proper now so the vary will quickly be expanded. Sooner or later, I even hope as an example a few of my limericks for playing cards – that ought to be enjoyable!

Proper, that’s the introductions over I feel! Yow will discover Helena Handcart on FbInstagram and Twitter – do pop over and say hello in case you can. Or, as Helena would say:

“Purchase a card. Ship love. Make good issues occur.”




The put up Helena Handcart appeared first on writing bubble.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

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