The Secret Lives of Well-Lived Homes

I knew that the old house understood what I said.

When I was very small, I used to rest my head against the walls and try to hear what it had to say.

I was sad when we moved and sadder still when the house was changed beyond my knowing.

This may have slept inside my head, long past the time when I thought that the creak of the floorboards was an ongoing conversation.

There is something about a house that has lived.

It carries memories that nothing flesh could bear.

It keeps that knowledge deep within its inner beams, dispersed in the shifting of foundations and the groan of warping wood.

There is also a moment when life passes from a house.

Even if it is still occupied, still being used, some vital force disappears, leaving only the barest of shelters.

I have been asked where the Virtue Inn formed within my head and it is a struggle to explain.

I have known so many houses that have a story, lurking under fading wallpaper and unreplaced asbestos.

Their voices are quiet but insistent.

What if we shaped you as you shape us?

 I answered their question.

IMG_1853Even after life has passed, the stories linger


If you are interested in seeing the Virtue Inn in “The Guests of Honor”, my US Kindle Countdown promotion is here. If you are in the UK, my Kindle Countdown promotion is here.

 

 

A Tale of Bones and Magic

What is a fairytale?

As a child, you could not pry me away from the folklore section of our local library. Every collection of world mythology or folktales I could find, I devoured.

Ironically, I was much less interested in the stories labeled as fairytales than I was in the many other stories from around the world.

It has been an interesting circle for me to find myself writing something that is described as an adult fairytale.

It has no fairies, no elves, no vampires, no princesses.

There is no profound moral message, no easy vengeance or reward.

The magic does not take its core from Northern European stories.

But there is something, in the story or the telling, that makes people feel as if they are reading a modern fable.

In the end, like so much else of what I discuss here, I think the perception is rooted in the magic.

There is a sense of discovery in those fairy stories. Even as terrible and grim as the bones of most of those cautionary tales were, there was also a keen and present sense of adventure, of the fantastic waiting just beyond our mundane existence.

I would like to hope that some piece of both magic and terror lives within the story I have tried to tell.

What is a fairytale?

A story that speaks to our internal child, even as it reminds the adult of the wolf at the door.

IMG_0365Through what strange woods have we traveled, for a story half-forgotten?


If you are interested in seeing “The Guests of Honor”, my US Kindle Countdown promotion is here. If you are in the UK, my Kindle Countdown promotion is here.

I’d also like to point out Ebooksoda if you are interested in receiving updates on books that are on sale in specific genres. I’m doing some advertising with them tomorrow and I’ve been super impressed with the content curation that they do in the genres I’m interested in (Fantasy and YA).

 

An Adult Novel

What content do you think that you are going to find in a book that is an adult novel?

Whatever you thought, chances are fairly good that when most people hear the phrase “adult novel”, they are going to assume that “adult” is a euphemism for graphic sex, language, or violence.

I think that a lot of these assumptions can be traced to the use of “adult” in rating systems to signify violent or sexual content, but it does raise some interesting questions about what we consider “adult”.

This idea of what is or is not adult is something that I have been thinking about a lot since I released “The Guests of Honor”.

One of the things that has made me happiest about putting out my story is how many people have commented on the fact that “The Guests of Honor” is an adult novel. However, this has put me into an interesting dilemma.

“The Guests of Honor” does not contain graphic sex or violence.

Now, while I live in some fear that people who read the reviews and are looking for a violent orgy are going to pick up my story and be wildly disappointed, my major point of interest is that we have very few good words to talk about issues that are unique to adulthood that don’t involve graphic sex or violence.

We have a wealth of ideas and writing around “coming-of-age”, first kisses, learning to understand the world and your place within it, and all the various discoveries associated with becoming an adult.

But once we become adults and step into the world, it is much harder to find writing that isn’t about either the sexual or the darker, more depressing aspects of being an adult human being.

Both sex and violence are important, but there are so many other aspects to explore!

Being an adult can be a thankless grind of responsibility and complicated situations with no right answer. It can also be a time of being a fully realized person who makes choices that are hard but that are buoyed by the difficult, wonderful connections we have made to the world around us.

I want to live in a world where there as many stories tackling that complicated joy as there are exploring the depths of its sorrow.

IMG_1986Even the rustiest lives have bursts of colour


If you are interested in seeing “The Guests of Honor”, my US Kindle Countdown promotion is here. If you are in the UK, my Kindle Countdown promotion is here.

 

Trying New Things

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One of my favourite short stories from a very long time ago, so long ago that I can no longer remember who wrote it, was about a farm boy who wanted to be a basketball player. He had the height but was completely ungainly on the court. His coach thought, rather cynically, that he would be like a thousand other players with that advantage – someone who sat at the end of the court and dunked the ball when it was passed to him. Instead, to the coach’s surprise, in the final game of the season the farm boy didn’t score a single goal, but his team won because of his ability to dribble and pass.

The farm boy had spent the entire season working on his weaknesses so that he could turn them into strengths.

I am going somewhere with this.

One of the major reasons I decided to self-publish was because I am very, very aware of where my weaknesses are.

As someone who has worked for employers and been self-employed at various points in my life, I am deeply uncomfortable with turning over my work until I, personally, understand all aspects of the business.

I love writing, I love designing, I love the wonderful people I have met through websites and forums.

I hate marketing.

From experience, I know that if I hate something and don’t teach myself to understand it, then I am not doing the work that my projects deserve to have put into them.

So I am trying a few of the options available to self-publishers and seeing how they work. For the next few days, if you are in the US or the UK, the first book in the series will be on a special Kindle Countdown sale for 99 cents.

To make myself not hate this quite as much, I have saved some of my favourite topics to write about this week so that my webpage will be a refuge of things I love while I attempt to figure out this marketing thing.

I hope that you will enjoy the topics for the rest of this week.

For myself, I hope that by the end of the week, I will start being the person who can make the winning passes as well as the winning goals.


 

If you are interested in my fantasy writing, my US Kindle Countdown promotion is here. If you are in the UK, my Kindle Countdown promotion is here.

Everyday Magic- Taking the Leap

When I nearly broke my neck, I started to dream of flying.

Being pushed from a height gave me some mangled body parts, a very specific form of acrophobia, and a wealth of dreams about falling.

It took me time to put together the jumbled images in my head, but the power and beauty of their message pulled me into a place I had never imagined.

For a long time, I thought my head was punishing me with images of falling, of reliving my nightmare in a thousand ways and places.

Then one day, I refused to fall.

I pointed myself upwards as I left the dream-cliff.

And I flew.

I cannot tell you how I felt the moment I realized what I could do, where I could go when I was able to confront my head and transform those nightmares into fantastic adventures.

All I can speak of is fear… and courage.

I have spoken of the magic of fear, but there is also a magic in courage.

Because, in the end, they cannot be separated from one another.

Courage is not the absence of fear.

Courage is translating that fear, into lightning, into a magic all its own.

Courage is the moment you stare down the cliff face-

And leap, laughing, into the unknown.

IMG_0399The edge is only the beginning

This week is dedicated to everyday magic. I will be sharing some of the real-life inspiration for the strange things that appear in the pages of my stories.


If you would like more adventures in falling, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

 

Everyday Magic- Mountains

When I first set foot on the flatlands, I felt naked.

My childhood was spent clambering over, around, and through a variety of hills, slopes, and mountains.

The time I spent living in flatter areas I used to seek out ravines to pretend that they were hillsides.

I think that sometimes people see mountains as barriers or obstructions.

I have always seen them as pathways.

When I was smaller I used to climb until my legs burned, standing on the top of the highest places I could find and staring out around me.

It wasn’t to conquer or to rise above the world below me.

It was because at the top, you could see the new mountains, the further ridges.

The magic of mountains is that you are always searching for the lands just beyond them.

Every stroke of my pen, I reach towards the summit.

Looking beyond for the new, strange lands before me.

IMG_9193Always another world to explore

This week is dedicated to everyday magic. I will be sharing some of the real-life inspiration for the strange things that appear in the pages of my stories.


If you would like to see more worlds beyond the mountains, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

Everyday Magic- Seasons

There are stories that stick in a child’s head in strange and unusual ways.

For me, this was the story of a little boy with the magic to bring his paintings to life. As long as he did not complete his paintings, they remained beautiful, but non-living, works of art. When completed, they would remove themselves from the page and come out into the world. There is more to the story, both joy and tragedy, involving a greedy emperor and some subtle meditations on the meaning of art versus life.

All I understood was that with the right paintbrush, the world around me could be created.

This was especially obvious to me as the seasons changed.

In spring, a faint touch would pull along the brown branches, delicately spackling buds that would emerge with a firmer hand and harder line of green.

In summer, the heat would take on a life of its own, faint lines of blurred colour resting oppressively above all of the outside.

In fall, the specks of red, stars of yellow, would start at the outer edge, forced by gravity to spill downwards, swathing the forest in colour.

In winter, the delicate borders of frost would hint at the watercolourist’s nightmare, a world of white.

When I think of seasons, I think of a soft hand and a large paintbrush.

I think of a small child laughing, trailing magic behind him.

IMG_0007A soft hand and a child’s heart

This week is dedicated to everyday magic. I will be sharing some of the real-life inspiration for the strange things that appear in the pages of my stories.


If you would like to see how I deal with artistic magic as an adult, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

 

 

Guests of Honor by Cat Amesbury

So for today, I just wanted to share some lovely, thoughtful comments on “The Guests of Honor”. There are very few feelings better than when someone has half as much fun reading my story as I did writing it.

Between the Lines and Back Again

I recently received an email from a lovely author asking me to review her book, despite my crazy schedule. I have to say I am so grateful for her contacting me and introducing me to her magical story. And before I say anything else, yes, it was a light read. I know it seems I say that a bunch, but once I get started on a good book, I can’t seem to stop. Now for a blurb:

A woman, a fox, and a magical inn

Honor Desry’s only employee is a magical nudist, her guest list has an abnormal fascination with eels, and a surprising number of household objects are trying to hurt her.

When Honor’s mother mysteriously disappeared, Honor became responsible for both her younger sisters and the family inn. Now, all Honor wants to do is run the inn, pay the bills, and not get killed by her…

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Everyday Magic- Reflections

I cannot tell you how many times as a child I tried to climb into the mirror world.

When people talk about Lewis Carroll, they generally speak of Alice in Wonderland.

For me, the story that captured my head was always Through the Looking Glass.

I hoped that if I was very quick and very quiet I would catch that odd movement in the mirror, that glimpse around the corner of the reflection to where the mirror world began.

Unfortunately, glass is a firm barrier in both reality and imagination.

I gave up on climbing into mirrors, but I never lost that quick glance at reflections.

Sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, I like to think I see a glimpse of that strange backwards world beyond the edge of vision.

Then I write.

IMG_8670There is always wonder at the reflection’s corners

This week is dedicated to everyday magic. I will be sharing some of the real-life inspiration for the strange things that appear in the pages of my stories.


If you would like to see my other writings from the reflected world, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

Everyday Magic- The Beginning

When I was very small, the world was too loud for me.

The world never got quieter, but I learned to pull inside myself and see the things inside my head when the outside was too much for me to handle.

Behind our house, behind the orchard, was the forest.

It did not take many steps to enter an entirely different world.

Grass turned to moss.

Garish sunlight turned to rich, filtered beams.

Five minutes for a small girl and one for an adult brought me to the marketplace.

There was a stump, you see.

I knew that one day, if I lay very quiet on the moss, I would catch the small people entering into one of that stump’s many cracks on their way to the magical market.

I never found that entrance.

The joy of writing is that I have been able to create my own.

I can close my eyes and see the things inside my head.

The small people turning to me and beckoning me on into the market of rotting wood and fading moss.

Magic in its truest form.

IMG_8564There are so many entrances that we can all find our way inside

This week is dedicated to everyday magic. I will be sharing some of the real-life inspiration for the strange things that appear in the pages of my stories.


If you would like to see some less-metaphorical magic, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.