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Posts Tagged ‘creative writing’

I was born in fog
welling from the coast’s cold waters,
mariners’ mournful cautions
echoing ’round my infant hollow,
earth-bound cloudbanks
tumbling over the ringing hills,
billowing down our mist-slick street,
infusing my new world with ancient distance.

I grow old beneath rain
birthed by distant, tropical seas,
cooled by winds scented with
salt and sand and sun-warmed kelp,
sped by sky-high rivers
to beat upon these tree-clad shores
and wash down to feed the tidal flats
with burbling, silted waters of myriad streams.

Between them is stretched a life
where my limbs grew fast as springtime rye
beneath shadows chased by auspicious suns,
where towering guardians of wood and stone
surrounded the humid masses or arid wild,
where my heart tasted honeyed love and sharp-tongued disdain,
traveling inland altitudes redolent
of mineral earth, verdant crops, and heady loam,
but never the cold, deep cradle
whose primeval memory flows in my veins.

Bound by water,
I have slept in many places,
but only near the sea
have I lived.

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A week or so ago, I had a hankering to spend time with some old friends. We’d been out of contact for fifteen years, and I felt it was time to reconnect, to catch up, to share stories. So, for the past week, I’ve been hanging with Alain, Bronwyn, Wrdisten, Boduos, and the rest of the gang from old Breizh.

In other words, I re-read The Ploughman Chronicles, my 9th century historical high fantasy series.

And we had a blast. Literarily speaking, that is.

In the year AD 880, much of Europe was on the cusp between the old/pagan and new/Christian worldviews, and Brittany itself (where the series is set) was in open revolt against the expanding Carolingian Empire, so there’s a lot of historical intrigue woven into the books. Added to that, though, is an even greater intrigue between our world and the fabled Summerland, the land of the Fey, which lies beyond the Veil. Now throw in a prophecy, that there will come a man who will travel between, and master the power of both the line magic of the Veil and the earth magic of the sleeping gods.

For me, though, it is the characters I love most. I mean, they’re so . . . individual, so quirky, each with a distinct manner, their own way of speaking, and with motivations that are set (and revealed) in layer upon layer.

These books are not your usual high fantasy; I can’t think of another series that even comes close to it. Sadly, this series got no love from my agent—perhaps precisely because it isn’t your usual high fantasy—so they never had much opportunity to get shopped around. Also sadly, when I decided to publish them myself, my editing skills weren’t as sharp as they should have been, so I had to contend with the odd typo (and I really hate typos, especially when I’m the one who let them get into the final product).

But here’s where y’all come in.

You see, I love these books, even more so after my re-read, and I want to share them with you.

So, from now through Monday (November 22), the Kindle versions are free. You can find them both on this page at Amazon.

Download them for free, get the reading app for free, and (I hope) fall in love with them, for free.

Paperback versions are still available, of course.

So go, enjoy; tell a friend; hell, tell an enemy, I don’t care. I just want to share them. And if you like them, write a review. If you don’t, tell it to my agent; I think you’ll find a receptive audience there.

k

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your need is my desire
your desire is my hope
your hope is my dream
your dream is my heart
your heart is my home
your home is my love
your love is my comfort
your comfort is my need

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There are, in my home, many watches. But for five years, I’ve carried only one.

My watches date from the Age of Steam to the Age of Jets, bearing the marks of craftsmen from Victorian, Edwardian, Nouveau, Deco, and Mid-Century eras.

I have watches that were used to keep trains running on time, mark a valued employee’s retirement, chime the quarter hour, and show the time in the dark with radium-lit dials. Some glister with ruby bearings and gears of gold, their plates tooled with filigree, their enameled dials bright, while others are of stamped brass, paper faces, encased in cheap tin.

They are the watches of men both rich and poor, bespoke or mass-produced, but all came to me in somnolent neglect and the silence of disrepair. For each of them, I cracked their cases, disassembled their movements, cleaned and repaired and replaced the parts that were begrimed, bent, or broken, bringing them back to life, allowing their spring-loaded hearts to beat once again.

I used to swap them out, carry a different one every week, its chain hooked onto my denim belt loop, the watch itself tucked into the tiny right-hand pocket designed solely for the purpose.

But no longer.

Waltham, Elgin, Hampden, Ingersoll, and the others, high-end or base-born, all now lie stored in cushioned darkness, their mainsprings having ticked down to quiet rest.

Now, my watch pocket is empty, for my wrist carries my watch.

It’s a scuffed and scarred thing, with a crystal that’s a bit scratched, a bit chipped. It isn’t very old—a score of years at most—and it is decidedly plain, with square hands and numbers on a simple white face. It doesn’t even have a mainspring, the coiled powerhouse of nearly every other watch I own, but runs on a battery.

It’s a run-of-the-mill Timex Indiglo wristwatch. And it is my father’s watch.

When my father died, five years ago, and I was cleaning out his last abode, his watch was included in his effects. It is the watch he wore every day, whether he was out fishing for steelhead, sneaking a smoke out back, or painting a landscape, and it is—as was he—basic, uncomplicated, quiet, easy to read, dependable, sturdy, and consistent.

For five years, it’s been on my wrist doing yeoman’s work, ticking away, showing me the wee hours with its cyan glow, keeping perfect time. I’ve never changed the battery, not once in those five years. It is, as I said, dependable, sturdy, and consistent.

Someday, it too will run down, its battery spent, and that day, I suppose, when the new battery clicks into place, that will be when the watch will stop being his, and will then be mine.

k

 

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Maples at Seattle Arboretum

Well, sometimes the magic works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I’m back from a two-week vacation and, for me, two weeks is the minimum required to feel like I’ve actually had a vacation. The first week I spend powering down—sleeping decent hours, relaxing, reading, puttering—but the second week is when my brain finally looks up, sees the sky, hears the birdsong, smiles, and forgets about the day job.

It was a good stay-at-home fortnight, filled with fall colors (in my gardens and around the Sound), blustery fall weather, rain, walks, movies, and even a bit of socializing. It was a rather creative time, as well. I finished building my hurdy-gurdy, cooked a couple of excellent meals, and managed to craft one or two fairly decent pieces for this blog.

But this week . . . eh, not so much.

Granted, the week back at work after well-spent time off is always difficult, but this one has been quite the challenge. You see, my retirement is out there, waiting. I can smell its heady aroma and hear its quiet song, lofted by the onshore breeze. Going back to the day job gets harder each time, but usually (thankfully) there’s a grace period granted to vacation-returnees: sufficient time to go through the mountains of emails; to catch up on all the changes, gossip, and news; and to ramp back up on the work we’d set aside during our weeks away.

This time, though, it was more of a “hit the ground running” type of week. I was met with an excessively aggressive deadline date (promised during my absence), plus a slew of quarterly meetings that stole a whole day that I really could have used trying to meet that promised deadline.

So, today, when I sat down in front of my blank sheet of paper and tried to come up with a poem or vignette, chicken-scratching my way around the metaphor that’s been in my head for a couple of days (family lineage as a river), I came up empty. Empty, that is, except for lines and stanzas written and then struck out, word clouds that dissipated into thin air, and several crumpled sheets of 11×18 newsprint on my office floor (which at least entertained the cat, if only for a few minutes).

I then compounded that frustration by spending the evening trying to solidify new ideas out of the ether—it’s not as though I had no ideas, just that I could bring none of them into sufficient focus to wrap words around—until, in the end, I cried, “Hold! Enough!”

And so here we are.

If I might torture another metaphor, every farmer knows that letting a field lie fallow for a time benefits the land and the crops. So, seeing as how I’ve been very creative during the past few months, I think I can allow myself a fallow week.

Here’s hoping that my crops rebound after the rest.

k

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the fraught world
retreats
    powerless
    in the face of
        recycling boxes
        tidying the garage
        fixing a broken chair

global tensions
dissipate
    impotent
    against the power of
        weeding the garden
        harvesting tomatoes
        clipping summer’s last rose

folded laundry
   smooths global supply chains
clean countertops
    muffle rattled sabers

they’re not solutions
   but they ease my pain
        for an hour
        or a minute
            and sometimes
            that’s all I need
                to continue

k

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Born on the cusp
between two worlds

he never looked back
except with sadness

nor reminisced
but under pressure

from sons and daughters
eager to learn his source.

He kept that world
of loves and wars

tucked tight away
in his heart’s attic

for the world of his now
was challenge enough

without memories
of one that was no more.

k

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