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Addio Amico Mio

The Princess Gang rolled into the cul-de-sac on the day Mr. B’s plum tree decided to bloom.

That is the opening line to a story I’ve been playing with for a while, and like most of my mainstream fiction these days, it is based squarely in my real life. The Princess Gang was a cadre of small girls who used to rule the cul-de-sac, roaming their demesne like a pastel cloud of tulle-swathed glitterati. The plum tree was the Italian plum tree I planted in my front garden long before any of the Princess Gang were even born.

It was nearly twenty years ago that my wife and I drove back from the nursery with two plum trees sticking out of the back of our tiny hatchback, dormant branches rattling. I wanted some fruit trees in the front garden. Knowing the soil there was poor and that the area gets a lot of afternoon warmth, I thought a French or an Italian plum tree—no strangers to challenging conditions—would at least have a hope of survival. Continue Reading »

More free books? More free books!

Once more, with feeling.

I’m rounding out these Quarantine eBook Giveaways with three titles.

This time, it’s Volumes 3–5 from The Fallen Cloud Saga, my alternate history set in 19th century America. This will complete your five-book set, and this Thursday thru Monday (May 07–11), they are free.

As always, you don’t need the e-reader; you just need the app. It’s available for free, for PC, Mac, and all smart phones.

Feel free to share with friends, family, enemies.

The Fallen Cloud Saga (Vols 3–5)

Click the links below to visit each book’s page and get your free copy!

The Shadow of the Storm

The Cry of the Wind

Beneath a Wounded Sky

I hope these giveaways have helped you make it through quarantine.

Stay home
Stay healthy
Save lives

k

When I Do Die

 
When I do die, I hope it is in spring,
though not for me, no, not on my account.

For my part I would rather die whilst deep
in Autumn’s arms, to meet my final slumber
as the Earth trades out her riotous robes
for melancholy hues, and hones the evening’s
cool-lipped kiss into a thing that bites.

To die at such a time, in synchronized
conclusion with the fading world, it seems
most apt and natural, but still, I would
not have it so.

Those friends who rue my end,
I would not have them grieve in chill and growing
dark, nor hang with crepe the holidays
of friendship, love, and hearthfired warmth, nor mute
their joys with mournful tones, like minor chords
that linger in cathedral vaults.

Instead,
for them, my dearest few, I hope to die
in springtime, just as Nature’s hand arrives
to balance any sadness with the fresh
and unrelenting joy of life’s renewal.

I would ask the sun of warming days
to light each face, have blooms and birdsong lift
their hearts, and let the season’s boisterous breezes
dry their briny tears, all while surrounded
by the freshness of a world reborn.

k

First, a bit of business.
My third Quarantine eBook Giveaway is live, today through Monday.
Free books! Tell a friend.

Now, onward to a writing quandary that has been rattling around in my pea-brain this week.

When I was writing speculative fiction (alternate history, high fantasy, science fiction), my process was unaffected by changes in modern life. I was writing about times past, alternatives to the present, or imagined futures, so I didn’t have to worry about current trends or innovations. At most, if a piece was set in the near-future, I might have to extrapolate forward from the day’s news, but in general, I had free rein and could build the world as I wished. Continue Reading »

Free books, y’all.

Yip, I’m doing it again. To help you get through your quarantine/stay-at-home time, I’m giving away two more titles.

This time, they’re from The Fallen Cloud Saga, my alternate history set in 19th century America. It’s a five-book set, and tomorrow thru Monday (April 23–27), the first two ebooks in the series are free.

As always, you don’t need the e-reader; you just need the app. It’s available for free, for PC, Mac, and all smart phones.

Feel free to share with friends, family, enemies.

The Fallen Cloud Saga (Vols 1–2)

Click the links below to visit each book’s page and get your free copy!

The Year the Cloud Fell

The Spirit of Thunder

 

Keep checking in for updates and future titles.

Stay home
Stay healthy
Save lives

k

 

First, a reminder that, to help you through isolation, two of my novels are available free of charge, in Kindle ebook format. Free thru this Sunday. Tell a friend.

Now, to the subject at hand.

It’s been a tough week, here. I’ve been fighting depression and towering rage in equal proportions. We’re all still healthy, here, so no worries on that front. No, what’s been troubling me is a trend that has been gathering steam in recent weeks.

As the pandemic crisis has grown in America, most states have issued “stay at home” orders. Here in Seattle, we were among the first to implement such measures, and they have proven effective in slowing the spread. We have cut the transmission rate in half, our hospitals have not been overwhelmed, people have not died because they couldn’t get proper treatment, and we’ve actually been able to send ventilators from Washington to some of the harder hit areas on the East Coast. That’s all good stuff, right there, but it has come at a cost.

Our local economy has taken a beating. Even with our state’s rather liberal definition of what constitutes an “essential business,” a lot of people have been laid off, furloughed, had hours drastically cut, or have found that their employers have simply closed up shop. Restaurants, always a razor-thin profit margin enterprise, have shuttered by the dozen. Family-owned businesses have closed doors that have stood open for decades. Artists and artisans have no place to display their wares, as Pike Place Market and other venues echo in emptiness. People are hurting, unable to pay bills, unable to pay for basic necessities.

It is this—the economic shutdown—that has given rise to a line of discourse that, to be frank, keeps me up at night and fills part of every day with hair-tearing, are-you-kidding-me incredulity. The argument I’ve been battling boils down to this:

The economy is more important than people.

I’ve heard it from the president, from senators, from right-wing pundits, and from folks I know online. “Open the economy.” “Time to get back to work.” All in total contradiction to what science and medicine are telling us is the safest way forward.

I am more than flabbergasted that this line of reasoning even exists. I am more than shocked that it should be promoted by such a large proportion of our society. I am more than offended, more than disgusted, more than outraged, more than appalled.

This rhetoric positively frightens me.

Make no mistake: this rhetoric puts a price tag on human lives. Those who espouse it are saying that it’s better to let people die than to lose money, and that’s some weapons-grade reasoning, right there.

It is unconscionable that this is even an acceptable stance. It is grotesque. And the fact that it primarily comes from the ideological bloc that also aligns itself with “pro-life” causes makes it doubly so.

Those who promote this view usually wrap it up in the guise of “more people will die from a failed economy than from C19,” but never do they support this assertion with any data. In fact, the data that do exist on the topic say the opposite. During the Great Depression, mortality rates dropped and longevity increased. It wasn’t a picnic, as any of our elders will attest, but society did not crumble. And why? Why didn’t society devolve into armed gangs and anarchy? Because we pulled together. We pulled together during the Great Depression, during WWII, and we are pulling together now. All of these stay-at-home orders? They are us, pulling together, to save our fellows, our neighbors, our selves.

Society does not exist to serve the economy. The economy exists to serve society. And it’s not like somehow, during this temporary shutdown, be it for two months or six or even more, the economy will disappear, crumbling into dust and ruin for lack of souls to feed upon.

It’s just an economy, stupid.

We built this economy, and we can build another if we have to. But we won’t have to, because after this hiatus our economy will be revivified. Hopefully, it will be different, requiring better care for all and better wages and conditions for those who we realize truly are essential workers, but it will be there, it is there, ready to get fired up, ready to go. Ready, for when we need it again.

But before that time, we must work to save lives, for without us, without our toil, there is no economy.

In the interim, go, read a book, watch a movie, make love, get a bit squiffy on whatever makes you squiffy. We will be OK, when we all emerge from our burrows and see once more the light of day. And I truly believe, we will be better for this, as long as we hold true to our ideals.

It’s people who make a society, and if we don’t band together against a common threat, what the hell is the point?

Stay safe.

k

Hear ye, hear ye.

My second ISO-book-giveaway is now underway. Just my attempt to help folks through their self-isolation. Keep it up, guys! You’re doing great!

This time you can get The Ploughman Chronicles (my high-fantasy duology—biology? Two volume!—series set in 9th c. Brittany). Today thru Sunday, they are free of charge, in Kindle e-book format.

As always, you don’t need the e-reader; you just need the app. It’s available for free, for PC, Mac, and all smart phones.

Feel free to share with friends, family, enemies.

The Ploughman Chronicles

Ploughman’s Son (PC:1)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0052PJS24

Ploughman King (PC:2)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0052PJQU8

Keep checking in for updates and future titles.

k

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