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at the cliff’s edge
the earth falls
through giddy space 
to clammy sands
sunlight spears the steel wool clouds
and blazes from gunmetal curls
brined winds press me back
with death-cold hands

hot anger fills me
magma of rage
ready to spew forth
and boil the sea below
as I ponder the choice between
a hateful god
slayer of the young
and no god at all

humanity
we are
upright beasts gifted
with massive power
over nothing
with dreams of eternity
circumscribed by birth and death
we are
ephemeral
mayfly deities
standing at the verge
in sight of the distant shore
ready to leap
to fly
to perish
on a solitary sojourn
that has no arrival


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On occasion, I ask my brain to go through its memory banks and search for something I know I know, but which I cannot at the moment remember. This search method is a technique honed by decades of living in a pre-Internet world, before Google, Wikipedia, IMDb, and all the rest.

What is her phone number? Didn’t I read a book about this subject? Who wrote that song? Where have I seen that actor before?

I got so good at this that I could do it in my sleep. Literally.

(more…)

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It’s been a helluva week.

At work, I had all my tasks turned back-burnered by “walk-on” issues, I called in chits to get assistance from team members who’ve moved on to greener pastures, and I yelled at my boss in an open meeting (no profanity, and no actual “yelling,” per se, but my blood was definitely up).

At home, I tested a new recipe, answered my correspondence, got a chance to playtest a new boardgame, and (after days of back and forth texts) finally got the contractor to agree on a date to start work fixing the back stairs.

But it was my Work-In-Progress that really did me in.

I sat down with what I have written so far and the current outline, and took a look forward. Even though this novel has so far been the hardest for me to write, all indications are that it’s going to be a struggle to get it up to a decent novel-length, a realization that thoroughly depressed me. I mean, it’s hard enough to sell a novel these days, but selling a thin novel is likely to be even harder.

There are thin novels out there, true, but in general they’re either classics (when the expectations of novel length were different), or they’re written by established authors. Neither of those cases pertains to me, a modern writer with only modest credits to my name. Word counts of my previous books have all been in the 90–120k range—standard for their genres—but this one looks like it’s going to be closer to 60k. 

Some of you may scoff at my struggle to reach 60,000 words. “Pish tosh,” you say. “I know folks who can write 20k in a weekend.”

I know some of those writers, as well.

I am not one of those writers.

In my head, the novel already exists. I know where I’m going, I know how it will all be resolved. But I am not Zeus, and things do not sprout fully formed from my mortal noggin. Putting the words down is torturous, as my desires and my failing confidence vie in a battle royale. Even the good review the WIP got from First Reader cannot cure that malady. It’s why NaNoWriMo is such a turn-off for me; it requires a skill that, try as I might, I cannot acquire, much less master. This book especially, with its new genre and its intensely personal content, has been very difficult to write.

And yet, I want to write it. I want to finish it. I want it to be read.

I also want to sell it, so it can reach more readers than I can garner on my own, but that will be a long hill to climb.

First, though, I have to finish the damned thing.

k

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This past holiday weekend, we broke with our stay-cation tradition and took a little getaway to a lovely place, a re-purposed US Army base on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula.

But I don’t want to talk about the place, not right now. Instead, I want to share what we did while we were there. (Don’t worry, it’s SFW.)

Regular readers may have wondered what the hell is happening with my current Work-In-Progress, my dual-timeline novel set in Seattle. And you’ve had good reason to wonder. (more…)

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A bit of cross-pollination, this week.

I was intrigued by a blog post from the always-interesting candidkay, in which she detailed the selection for her word for the year: “wonder.”

Wonder—as in “sense of wonder” rather than “Hmm . . . I wonder . . .”—has long been a thing encouraged in my household. We love it. I mean, there are phenomena in this world that are just so . . . wonderful . . . that they make me glad to be alive.

I have some tried-and-true sources for “sensawunda.” Watching a cephalopod change the color and texture of its skin in the blink of an eye. Standing in the middle of a Gothic cathedral and looking up at tons of stone that hang above me, all lifted by human hands, all suspended by the power of physics. Seeing the spirals amid the seeds of a sunflower or embedded in a sectioned nautilus shell, and recognizing the mathematics (which I poorly understand) that predict each rank, each row, each curve.

Recently, though, I hadn’t experienced that sensawunda—life has been filled with too much of the pedestrian and mundane of late—and I had actually forgotten how lovely a few moments of wonderment can be.

And then, just as I was ruing that lack, I was struck by a thing I hadn’t thought before, a thing that made me go ooooh, that is so cool. (more…)

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Last month
daily life was bland and insufficient
and my dreams
ranged far from home
smelled the sun-hot wind along Judean hills
tasted fruit sweet and warm from the Tuscan sun
shivered in the Celtic chill of dew-dazzled moors

Last week
a stroke threw veils across my eyes
and now my dreams
stay close to home
sit by the ticking, midnight embers
feel the gentle warmth of her hand
smile at the familiar curves of her face

I found this poem while cleaning out a storage closet. It was written circa 2011, following a clot that damaged my sight for a few months, an experience that I documented in my mini-memoir, Cryptogenesis. I don’t remember writing it, but I’m glad I tucked it away in our undercroft.


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I was three years old—it seems a world away, now—sitting in the front room, looking out the big window.

Our house on Oak Drive was a two-story affair on the uphill side of the street, and from my vantage I could look down on the massive junipers that bordered our small yard. When I played beneath them, they would tower over me, reach for me with scented claws, and dust me with clouds of pollen so that, when Mother called, I would come inside covered in red weals, begrimed with a patina of yellow, and redolent of resin. (more…)

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