Emergence

There is no magical death that ends the winter.

Flowers bloom, buds emerge

Only to be slain by sudden snow, persistent frost.

Winds that reach down and strangle the green

(Shake loose the darling buds)

Are as common as the uneasy calm of rain.

It takes no special genius, no seer

To unfurl that first green flag.

In the end, it is the queer courage

Of things that persist and persist

That rises, defiant, above the dead leaves of the year before.

IMG_0571Whether it is truly spring or only winter’s pause, courage rises

In spring, I am always reminded that strength is not always obvious, that the sprouting of dandelions can break cement.


For more feats of strength, obvious and otherwise, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here. Its sequel, With Honor Intact, can be found here.

The Path of Water

We measure seasons by the shape of water.

From dew to frost, from rain to snow,

Water travels through the year-

A chameleon marker of time,

Of passing days and relentless progress.

The weight of water is carefully measured.

Small trickles of rain or snow or dew

Gradually etch their presence into buildings,

Into trees and stone.

You would think the metal would survive,

But after forty years, it is the trees and grass that bear

The yoke-

All previous signs of humanity ground

Into mossy debris.

Look out at the lawn and the delicate lacing-

Power is not force,

But persistence.

IMG_0255Few forces as powerful or delicate as the expanding water burrowing to the ground

Slow change is an amazing force to watch.


For forces delicate and otherwise, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here. Its sequel, With Honor Intact, can be found here.

 

Catch of the Day

On the cape of the island, you could grab the plate-sized crabs with your bare hands.

A little wading in the surf and you’d walk back out with enough to feed communities.

Of gulls and herons.

Of bears and men.

Crabs don’t come to the hand as quick anymore.

Most things don’t.

I’ll watch them sometimes, the ones who wade out and the ones who take a full operation out on the water.

Every year they come back with less for their efforts.

The crabs come and go.

So do the strangers who take their catch and leave.

The communities stay.

Still hungry.

IMG_2142The nets are often older than the crews

I think a lot about the way the shape of the north changes… and the way it remains the same.


For more reminisces on scarcity and abundance, feel free to check out my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here. Its sequel, With Honor Intact, can be found here.

In All Things, Joy

The air sings still of the weekend’s snow, of colder, darker months, not yet forgotten.

Such a sharp edge for the cresting of the new.

Too soon, and the late frosts will stifle the birthing.

Too late, and the time for frantic growth will be cut short on the other side of the seasons.

It would be easy to see it as a cycle of fear, cold death chasing until it catches and swallows.

I look out now and see the lie in the trail of life before me.

We do not grow away from the cold, from the death that would drown us.

We grow upwards, outwards.

Not fleeing.

Chasing

Light, joy, love.

Those that grow do not cower from what-might-not -be.

Life is not for retraction, for burrowing back into the frozen earth.

Life is reaching, greedily grasping every breath of warmth, every ounce of joy.

For daring the frost, the snow, the unexpected, and shooting upwards-

Buds outstretched, furling into the sun.

 Upright LeafIn all things, joy. In all joy, hope.

The pursuit of joy has always served me better than the flight from fear.


For more of writing on joy and fear, both flight and pursuit, you can read my fantasy novel,The Guests of Honor. It is available here. The sequel, With Honor Intact, will be coming out on April 23, 2015.

What Falls Away

The fence needs replacing.

Ours is not a climate suited for wood. Yet, like so many scrabbling ants, we raise our structures and see them fall and raise them once again.

I want to write more one day of what I’ve found in the backwoods, of the small, surprising remnants of other lives, other stories.

The rotten shells of old cabins will sometimes return to the earth before a child’s doll or a rusting tin cup, haphazardly wedged under a rock.

Ours is not a climate suited for wood. Yet, nearly every structure here has a skeleton of beams and ridge-poles, their strength slowly being sapped by the forces around them.

I would tell stories I think of those lost towns, now grown over. Of those old mining and logging and fishing villages, whose passage is only marked by a slight rise in the moss where the central buildings stood.

We build over these ghosts beneath our feet, repeating the same failed steps only to be built over ourselves.

I wish I could read more stories with that conscious sense of our repeated history.

I wish I could write more stories that capture the cycling beneath my feet.

The fence is falling and needs to be replaced.

The snow and the sky press down, unchanged.

IMG_7133Our tracks are as ephemeral as our memories

The weight of history weighs heavily on the present.


My own pursuit of both history and cycles can be seen here in my fantasy novel,The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

Remnants

There’s always one of them – the lost ones. Just before the weather changes, a single bird or a pair, migrating with unhurried ease as the clouds close in behind them.

I try not to think about what happens to them.

This is not a forgiving land.

Mistakes are etched deep into the grooves left by glaciers and those sudden deadfalls across every ridge, every turn of the river.

In the cliff faces by the ocean, I saw a small cave once. Inside was the skeleton of a deer, caught by the tide as it tried to escape a storm.

Its head was bowed in death, facing the inevitable, not with fear, but with resignation.

It knew that knife’s edge of choice and consequence.

It knew when it had fallen on the blade.

I read fiction because sometimes I want mistakes to not be permanent. To know that through the magic of narrative (or through literal magic), that it is possible to err deeply and still rise upwards. To make a late-season flight and arrive at the migration point shaken, but unharmed.

And yet…

In between the snow drifts the remnants of last year’s growth rot in place. They appear almost startled, caught by surprise by the frost, by the snow, by the inevitable grinding of the unrelenting wheel.

Sometimes I want stories that take me away from here.

But sometimes I want stories that remember this-

A deer’s skeleton.

A lost bird.

A dead frond, its roots waiting for spring.

IMG_1487Hope is what comes after everything else has failed

Sometimes we need to talk about consequences in a variety of ways.


If you’d like to see my take on consequences of various kinds, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here.

Meltwater

You can hear rotten ice.

Smell it even, if the wind isn’t too thick above the water.

There’s a shifting, moaning noise where the ice is wearing thin and breaking loose. There’s a taste of running water and dead things, being pushed up from under the sterile frost.

If you’re looking for rotten ice, you’re already in over your neck.

People keep looking.

The definition of insanity is repeating the same actions, hoping for a different result.

But it’s hard to break out of patterns, break out of the familiar way of approaching the world. It’s hard to break out even if it can, and will, prove deadly to our purpose.

We trust our eyes, even when we know our eyes deceive us.

I see it too much in what I read, that blind acceptance of what is visible.

If writers challenged that perception more often, it would be a useful shortcut, but too many lakes sit solidly icebound, no treachery visible or apparent.

I went through once as a child.

Not deep, not enough to damage, but I’ve never forgotten that sickened swoop of betrayal as my solid, icy footing vanished beneath me, crumbling like so much rotten wood.

Maybe that’s what it takes to use the other senses.

A cold lake, a deceptive surface, and, as the water meets your flesh, the realization that you have never been the one in control.

IMG_1359So which step here will take you under?

The consequences of where we place our feet are a vital part of telling our stories.


Watching where we walk is something I enjoy incorporating into my writing. Feel free to try my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor here.

A Frozen Moment

We pass quickly from not-winter to winter here.

The trees, the air, the movement of the clouds all provide warning, but the last traces of fall will vanish from night to morning.

Not all parts of my world are well-prepared for the transition.

On the first winter morning, I search for casualties.

A rosebud, half-opened, forever frozen in place.

The wagon, forgotten in the field, and now mired in frozen mud.

A small butterfly, too late in the transition, its wings become a crystallized work of art.

Change is not easy.

In stories, we see the best moments of those rising to the challenges before them, facing the oncoming cold with determination and understanding.

Seldom do we see those caught out by the wind, futilely trying to understand when the air passed from welcoming to dangerous.

Not all survive those transition points.

But even in those who lose, who pass out of the ongoing cycle, there is a beauty.

The leaves are frozen, unable to withstand the force of winter.

Still they stand, forever reaching towards the sun.

IMG_6822The delicacy of the ice crystals belie the strength of their destruction

I am a fan of persistence. Even, or especially, in the face of failure.


If you would like to see my other writing on persistence, you can read my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor over here.

 

The Long Dark

As we pass through the Winter Solstice, I think of pivots.

I wake in the dark, work in the dark, go to bed in the dark. This day is the darkest of the dark days of winter.

We’re not meant to spend too much time without light. Energy drains the longer the night stretches, the more we hear of that queer electrical hum that hits when the dark is thickest.

It’s easy, in tales and in light, to dwell endlessly in darkness. There’s beauty and mystery there as well as frustration and exhaustion. For those who wish to sit there endlessly, it is easy to point to the anemic half-light that hits for a few minutes somewhere between dawn and dusk.

“See,” they say. “There’s some light here. But what really matters is the darkness.”

I love the dark.

I also love the way it turns to day.

Eternal darkness does an injustice to the balance of the world.

It is an incomplete snapshot, a story half-told and less truthful than a full lie.

Because the darkness does turn.

Because today marks the waning of its strength.

Because slowly we move towards the first pale fingers of warmth breaking through the mountains.

The darkness is beautiful.

So is the slow, inexorable movement towards spring.

IMG_0549Darkness is a movement, not a static state

As always, I am interested in transition points and movement. Darkness is a significant part of the movement in my own life.


For my own take on darkness and not-darkness, feel free to check out my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It  is available 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.