Mists from the Deeps

     In the night, in the darkness, in the loneliest watch
           heart freezes
           soul cries out
           being shudders

     No answers on offer

     And yet . . . from despair, if I answer yes
           to loss
           to fear
           to death
     Yield assent without limit
     Assent, because all other answers lie barren

     Like earliest dawn, which seeps into the night sky so subtly
           my heart lightens
           a sense of possibility mists from the deeps
           some answer, unspoken, arrives

     Fragile and delicate, surrender to it, do not reach
           this succor may be accepted
           never taken
           new life in the bud

This poem and the accompanying photo appear in my new upcoming release, Journey into Grief.

For more excerpts from the book, see:
Cold Rage
Blessed Radiance
Futile Seeking
Risen

 

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Daylight Shines

           The sky is so blue and friendly
           almost as though it is her smile
           or maybe her laugh
           or both

           I have no sense of its infinite possibility
           ceding to the blackness of outer space
           going on and on past the moon
           past Mars

           No, this sky is immediate, personal
           happy like a baby blanket
           comforting like Mother
           and mine

           I am shielded, illuminated, protected
           under its canopy of brightness
           so long as daylight shines
           safe

This poem and the accompanying photo appear in my new upcoming release, Journey into Grief.

For more excerpts from the book, see:
Missing Her
No Beauty
Exiled
Despair

 

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New Release Coming!

As I said in last week’s post, this book is different from my usual offerings.

I write fantasy, and all of my titles to date have been fiction in that genre. But my new book is memoir, mixed media in the sense that it combines narrative with poetry and photographs. I’m really pleased with how the project has come together, and I suspect I will be creating more such projects.

I haven’t abandoned fantasy, however. Those of you who are fans of my fantasy need not worry. Fantasy is in my very bones, and I intend to write it for as long as I can string words together.

I don’t have a release date yet for the new book, but here is the opening for it.

My Invitation to You

Come with me.

Come take a journey with me.

It is not an easy journey. In fact, it begins in the darkest of all places, the shadow of the valley of death.

So, why should you come, when the beginning is so dark?

Because the journey does not end there.

You have probably already been to the dark place. Someone you love died. Or some piece of yourself that is essential died in you. Someone betrayed you. Someone abandoned you. Or maybe you abandoned you.

There are as many ways to descend into darkness, or be claimed by it, as there are mortals walking this green earth.

But why should you come with me?

And why should you come now?

Because there was something about this book—its cover, its title, its description, or perhaps something unquantifiable—that attracted you, that spoke to you. Some still, small voice within you called or whispered or summoned you.

Come. Come!

Is this a self-help book with questions and exercises and points made?

No. It isn’t.

It’s a sharing of my own journey into grief, the heartbreaking moment of loss, the dark descent, the ocean breakers of feeling, the uneven rise from the depths, the glimpses of light, the instances of relief, and the slow, sure gathering of strength and new life.

So why would you want to experience this?

Because you’ve already been through it yourself. Or because you’re in the middle of such a journey of your own. Or because you fear the journey into grief that lies in your future.

When we take such journeys, we humans, the one thing that enables us to bear up under the weight and the challenge of it is knowing that we are not alone.

We may be alone at the time of our traveling along the dark path.

We may be alone in the specific details of our sojourn.

But we are not alone in our experience of loss and grief.

So come with me.

Come with me, that I may not be alone.

Come with me, that you may not be alone.

Let us move through the darkness together, and emerge again into new life, new life that has grown from the seeds that could sprout only in the deeps.

Our journey will be hard, but amazing. And our emergence will be more amazing still.

Come!

I invite you.

For more excerpts from Journey into Grief, see:
Grief
Mourning
One Crossing
Upwelling

 

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Project Without a Label

I’ve been working on a special project for the last year and a half, and I’m getting close to completing it and publishing it. This is exciting! Naturally I want to tell you about it.

There’s just one little problem. How do I describe this project?

Is it a memoir? I think it is. Sort of. It fits the definition.

memoir—a historical account written from personal observation and intimate knowledge

Yep. My project is a memoir. In it I recount my personal experiences from October 2017 through January 2019. That’s memoir.

Except that all the memoirs I’ve read consist of narrative prose. Mine has narrative prose in it, but it also includes a boatload of poetry. So is it a chapbook?

chapbook—a small book or pamphlet, often containing poetry or narrative vignettes

That’s the modern chapbook.

Chapbooks from the fifteenth century (called broadsides) through the nineteenth century contained a wider selection of articles: almanacs, folk tales, popular songs, nursery rhymes, unreliable history, woodcut illustrations, and religious and political tracts.

Because my project also contains photographs, it might fit the definition of the historical chapbook better than that of the modern one.

(The three photos in this blog post are among the 49 included in the book.)

But old-time chapbooks were 8, 12, 16, or 24 pages at most. Even the modern chapbook is only 40 pages. My project will be close to 100 pages.

Gah!

So it’s sort of a memoir, but not really. It’s sort of a chapbook, but not really. Is it an elegy?

elegy—a mournful or melancholy poem, especially a lament for the dead

I’m chronicling my experiences in the wake of my mother’s death. There is much of mourning and lament present. But although my journey starts with intense grief, it does not stay there. I returned to life and living over those months, unevenly, in fits and starts, with setbacks, and I share all of that, along with my eventual emergence into the light of day.

Honestly, I don’t think there is any good way to label this project. And maybe it does not matter.

It is a true book of the heart. I felt called to create it. I feel really good about completing it. And I intend to publish it. But I’m not sure anyone but me will have any interest in it.

If you are curious, you can see samples of Journey’s early pages in my blog posts from late 2017 and early 2018:
Bereaved
Lament
Too Late
Beacons Unreachable
Beauty in the Close
Gusty and Fresh

 

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Trustful, Warm-hearted, and Impulsive

It’s been years since I posted any book recs here, but my recent re-reading of Bab, a Sub-Deb by Mary Roberts Rinehart has inspired me. It’s an utter delight of a book, the heart of which is the voice of its 17-year-old protagonist.

Bab is naive, determined, and unique, so much so that all the description in the world cannot convey her quality. So rather than trying, I’ll simply quote the young lady.

I have decided to relate with precision what occurred during my recent Christmas holiday. Although I was away from this school only four days, returning unexpectedly the day after Christmas, a number of Incidents occurred which I believe I should narrate.

It is only just and fair that the Upper House, at least, should know of the injustice of my exile, and that it is all the result of circumstances over which I had no control.

For I make this appeal, and with good reason. Is it any fault of mine that my sister Leila is 20 months older than I am? Naturally, no.

Is it fair also, I ask, that in the best society, a girl is a Sub-Deb the year before she comes out, and although mature in mind, and even maturer in many ways than her older sister, the latter is treated as a young lady, enjoying many privileges, while the former is treated as a mere child, in spite, as I have observed, of only 20 months difference? I wish to place myself on record that it is NOT fair.

I shall go back, for a short time, to the way things were at home when I was small. I was very strictly raised. With the exception of Tommy Gray, who lives next door and only is about my age, I was never permitted to know any of the Other Sex.

Looking back, I am sure that the present way society is organized is really to blame for everything. I am being frank, and that is the way I feel. I was too strictly raised. I always had a governess tagging along. Until I came here to school I had never walked to the corner of the next street unattended. If it wasn’t Mademoiselle, it was mother’s maid, and if it wasn’t either of them, it was mother herself, telling me to hold my toes out and my shoulder blades in. As I have said, I never knew any of the Other Sex, except the miserable little beasts at dancing school. I used to make faces at them when Mademoiselle was putting on my slippers and pulling out my hair bow. They were totally uninteresting, and I used to put pins in my sash, so that they would get scratched.

Their pumps mostly squeaked, and nobody noticed it, although I have known my parents to dismiss a Butler who creaked at the table.

When I was sent away to school, I expected to learn something of life. But I was disappointed. I do not desire to criticize this institution of learning. It is an excellent one, as is shown by the fact that the best families send their daughters here. But to learn life one must know something of both sides of it, male and female. It was, therefore, a matter of deep regret to me to find that, with the exception of the dancing master, who has three children, and the gardener, there were no members of the sterner sex to be seen.

The athletic coach was a girl! As she has left now to be married, I venture to say that she was not what Lord Chesterfield so euphoniously termed “SUAVITER IN MODO, FORTATER IN RE.”

.     .     .

At the school dances we are compelled to dance with each other, and the result is that when at home at Holiday parties I always try to lead, which annoys the boys I dance with.

Notwithstanding all this it is an excellent school. We learn a great deal, and our dear principal is a most charming and erudite person. But we see very little of life. And if school is a preparation for life, where are we?

Being here alone since the day after Christmas, I have had time to think everything out. I am naturally a thinking person. And now I am no longer indignant. I realize that I was wrong, and that I am only paying the penalty that I deserve although I consider it most unfair to be given French translation to do. I do not object to going to bed at nine o’clock, although ten is the hour in the Upper House, because I have time then to look back over things, and to reflect, to think.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” SHAKESPEARE.

.     .     .

I now approach the narrative of what happened during the first four days of my Christmas Holiday.

For a period before the fifteenth of December, I was rather worried. All the girls in the school were getting new clothes for Christmas parties, and their Families were sending on invitations in great numbers, to various festivities that were to occur when they went home.

Nothing, however, had come for me, and I was worried. But on the 16th mother’s visiting Secretary sent on four that I was to accept, with tiped acceptances for me to copy and send. She also sent me the good news that I was to have two party dresses, and I was to send on my measurements for them.

One of the parties was a dinner and theater party, to be given by Carter Brooks on New Year’s Day. Carter Brooks is the well-known Yale Center, although now no longer such but selling advertizing, ecetera.

It is tragic to think that, after having so long anticipated that party, I am now here in sackcloth and ashes, which is a figure of speech for the Peter Thompson uniform of the school, with plain white for evenings and no jewelry.

It was with anticipatory joy, therefore, that I sent the acceptances and the desired measurements, and sat down to cheerfully while away the time in studies and the various duties of school life, until the Holidays.

However, I was not long to rest in piece, for in a few days I received a letter from Carter Brooks, as follows:

DEAR BARBARA: It was sweet of you to write me so promptly, although I confess to being rather astonished as well as delighted at being called “Dearest.” The signature too was charming, “Ever thine.” But, dear child, won’t you write at once and tell me why the waist, bust and hip measurements? And the request to have them really low in the neck? Ever thine, CARTER.

It will be perceived that I had sent him the letter to mother, by mistake.

I was very unhappy about it. It was not an auspicious way to begin the holidays, especially the low neck. Also I disliked very much having told him my waist measure which is large owing to basket ball.

.     .     .

…and I went on home alone. And all at once I began to be embittered. Sis had everything, and what had I? And when I got home, and saw that Sis had had her room done over, and ivory toilet things on her dressing table, and two perfectly huge boxes of candy on a stand and a ball gown laid out on the bed, I almost wept.

My own room was just as I had left it. It had been the night nursery, and there was still the dent in the mantel where I had thrown a hair brush at Sis, and the ink spot on the carpet at the foot of the bed, and everything.

Mademoiselle had gone, and Hannah, mother’s maid, came to help me off with my things. I slammed the door in her face, and sat down on the bed and RAGED.

They still thought I was a little girl. They PATRONIZED me. I would hardly have been surprised if they had sent up a bread and milk supper on a tray. It was then and there that I made up my mind to show them that I was no longer a mere child. That the time was gone when they could shut me up in the nursery and forget me. I was seventeen years and eleven days old, and Juliet, in Shakespeare, was only sixteen when she had her well-known affair with Romeo.

I had no plan then. It was not until the next afternoon that the thing sprung (sprang?) fullblown from the head of Jove.

Is she not delicious?

Bab’s plan gets her into ever-more-complicated and amusing trouble as her story unfolds. We, the readers, receive a much clearer view of events than does Bab herself, but this leads only to our entertainment without any diminishment of sympathy for the protag.

Published in 1916, the narrative takes place shortly before the United States declared war on Germany (WWI) and in a culture very different from that of 2019. Bab is shaped by her milieu, but transcends it, coming across as thoroughly human. I recommend her with my highest praise!

Bab, a Sub-Deb is in the public domain and available as an ebook on Amazon for free.

For more book recs, see:
Beauty, Charm, Cyril & Montmorency
Duplicity, Diplomacy, Secrets & Ciphers
Courtship and Conspiracy, Mayhem and Magic
Gods & Guilt, Scandals & Skeptics
Courage, Kindness, Youthful Awkwardness & Compassion

 

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Turning 59

I loved the birthday cards I received April 30!

My children wrote heartwarming messages in theirs that had me melting with happiness. My in-laws enclosed a photo in theirs that brought back wonderful memories I’d utterly forgotten.

What fun we all had in 1996 when we were young and beautiful, and practiced yoga spontaneously!

But my husband’s greeting was the best, because it made me laugh. 😀

NUMPADENTER!

What is ‘Numpadenter’? you ask.

Thereby hangs a tale.

My husband had been playing a computer game set in the ninth century of Britain. It was filled with exotic names such as Haestingas, Wihtwara, Magonsæte, and Guthrum.

When he moused over a button in the lower corner, the label NUMPADENTER appeared, and he assumed the term was yet one more period name.

It was many days later that he realized that, as part of the end-turn sequence, it was actually num pad enter. Number pad enter!

When he told the rest of us this story, we were just as charmed by the idea of Numpadenter! as a Viking battle cry as he had been, and the joke became part of Casa Ney-Grimm lore.

So when Jeff’s card bore the legend Numpadenter! nothing else could compete! 😀

 

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New Bundle! Eclectica

Between 14 shorts and 5 collections in this massive bundle, you’ll end up with 55 stories, one of them mine!

*     *     *

Clara works hard, juggling high school, her waitress job, and eking out time with her friends.

And now, finishing work far too late on a school night, she wants nothing more than to get home and sleep.

But dark and otherworldly things lurk in the shadows of her city.

If you love fast moving urban fantasy grab “City Shadows” today.

 

A cache implies a hidden treasure, although what we find inside is not always what we hope for or expect. Sometimes it’s less; sometimes more; sometimes nothing we’ve ever imagined.

The eleven stories and two poems in this collection feature all manner of unusual things found in strange places; an alien ship in a forest hideaway, ghosts inside a computer network, a distraught goddess in a detective’s office, a teenage busker on a space station. The treasures are varied as well, from lost genomes and altered memories to alien alliances and self-discovery.

Whatever waits to be discovered, these stories suggest that sometimes the search is the important part…

 

web imageThe warriors of Torbellai brought back a prize in the night, and young Paitra wants to see it. Even hidden away in the armory, the artifact changed the whole mood of their mountain citadel from dread foreboding to hope. And Paitra’s people need hope to turn the tide in their long war against the troll horde.

Might this small triumph presage a mightier victory?

But the warlord hid the fighters’ plunder for good reason. Forged by trolls and radiating magic, it presents grave risk to the soul and spirit of any who approach it.

 

AN ALTERNATE HISTORY OF JAPAN

Japan disappeared 500 years ago. Its people didn’t.

Five hundred years ago, Japan hid itself from the rest of the world. Rather than technology, they discovered power. The emperor still rules, but the mystics hold sway.

Hitomi is the youngest warrior in the history of the fighting Mura clan, who have evolved from the rough beginnings as the Ninja into the race’s supreme weapons.

But Hitomi stumbles upon a secret, one so vast that even the emperor may not see where it leads. Unless he too seeks to bury the secret along Hitomi’s Path.

 

Specialist Jhyoti sen Chandar, exoanthropologist on the Alliance ship Solar Wind, thought she had left behind the harsh caste system of her home planet. Unfortunately, it followed her aboard in the person of Engineer Parma sen Harpar: young, hostile and with a secret that will endanger both women.

When they end up stranded on a planet with its own dangerous secret, they must confront not only the crippling legacy of the past, but their own future in the Alliance. But first, they must survive.

 
 

Petra loves books. And she loves her job at Nuovo Italiano Rare Books Library. So when a group of Bathybobles threatens to destroy those precious books—and to win a game, no less—Petra must stop them.

Once she gets the slime out of her eyes, of course.

 
 
 
 
 
 

From fantasy to space adventure, pirates, mystery, horror, historical fiction, romance and coming of age you’ll find short, snappy reads herein. There is something for everyone in this lucky dip.

14 short stories plus 5 collections.

“Blown” by Diana Deverell
“Socks and Pins and Aliens” by Thea Hutcheson
Tales of Blood and Ink by Kate MacLeod
Tales of Tomorrow by Debbie Mumford
“Shaken, Not Stirred” by Diana Deverell
“City Shadows” by Chuck Heintzelman
“Outside the Walls” by A. L. Butcher and Diana L. Wicker
Tales of an Altered Past Powered by Romance, Horror, and Steam
     by Donald J. Bingle
“Dear Brother” by Felicia Fredlund
The Cache and Other Stories by Sherry D. Ramsey
“Sword Oath” by Jackie Keswick
The Hooded Man by Barbara G.Tarn
S, F & H by Harvey Stanbrough
“Resonant Bronze” by J.M. Ney-Grimm
“Hitomi’s Path” by M. L. Buchman
“Children” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Jhyoti: Planetside” by Marcelle Dube
“Petra and the Blue Goo” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Tears and Crimson Velvet” by A. L. Butcher

The Eclectica bundle is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

For more bundles with my stories in them, see:
Here Be Unicorns
Here Be Merfolk
Here Be Fairies
Here Be Dragons
Immortals

 

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Claireau’s Retreat House

Disaster falls upon Lealle, the heroine of A Talisman Arcane, as she sits at the top of the steps to the retreat house.

She’s finished her lesson in magic and awaits her mother, who intends to shepherd Lealle home in the family brougham-landau. While Lealle waits, the bullies who tormented her in the opening scene of the book arrive and begin their taunts anew.

But it is what comes of this unpleasantness—not the interaction itself—that proves so horrible.

Lealle’s younger brother gets involved in the debacle, and the two kids eventually find themselves back in the waiting room of the retreat house, and then in an examining room.

A later scene features the courtyard garden and the colonnade that surrounds the herbs and flowers.

The floor plan below shows the layout of the retreat’s first floor. The second and third floors hold more examining rooms, as well as a library, study rooms, and personal quarters for a few of the teachers who live on the premises.

For more about the world of A Talisman Arcane, see:
Tour Nileau
The Historical Tour Nileau
The Living Tour Nileau
The Dreaming Tour Nileau
Justice in Lealle’s World
Ohtavie’s Home
Wing-clap of the Phoenix

 

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Book of the Month?

Go vote! Go vote! Oh, please go vote!

So what’s all this about? ReadFreely has short listed my novella Blood Silver for their Book of the Month.

GO VOTE!

Who are they? A husband-wife team who love to read and started a website with the mission “to find the very best books and bring them to you when they’re at their cheapest—or even FREE!”

They’ve got extensive reach, so I’d love to have their push behind my book.

In a mythical Ireland that never was, mortal villages perch all unknowing beside enchanted knolls. Beneath them dwell the cruel and capricious faie folk.

Tahaern, a faie warrior by birth but not in spirit, eschews his vicious origins. Loving the bright world, he serves a mortal village as healer.

But when the faie declare war upon their neighbors, Tahaern must again take up his sword…

Votes are what narrow the short list of 6 titles down to one.

Let’s make Blood Silver that one! GO VOTE! 😀

 

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Unicorn’s Lullaby

While writing a scene in “The Hunt of the Unicorn,” I found myself engaged with a lullaby sung by the Holy Mother to a maiden in distress.

I went hunting for traditional lullabies for inspiration and discovered the lovely Ar Hyd y Nos (“All Through the Night”) composed circa 1784 by the harp player Edward Jones.

Amy Robbins-Wilson sings the the melody beautifully.

The original lyrics, in Welsh, were written by John Ceiriog Hughes.

Holl amrantau’r sêr ddywedant
Ar hyd y nos
“Dyma’r ffordd i fro gogoniant,”
Ar hyd y nos.
Golau arall yw tywyllwch
I arddangos gwir brydferthwch
Teulu’r nefoedd mewn tawelwch
Ar hyd y nos.

There are more verses, but I will not transcribe them here. Check this link, if you are curious!

Sir Harold Boulton wrote a popular English translation in 1884.

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and dale in slumber sleeping
I my loved ones’ watch am keeping,
All through the night.

I imagine my own lullaby being sung to the same tune.

Sleep, my heart, and love wrap round thee
Slumber gently dusk to dawn
Singing angels gather round thee
Chorus sweetly dusk to dawn
Slow the moon doth climb her ambit
Stars attend her, trailing bright
God in heaven guard thy cradle
Slumber gently dusk to dawn

For more about the Hunt of the Unicorn, see:
The Hunters Enter the Woods
The Unicorn Is Found
The Unicorn Is Attacked
The Unicorn Defends Itself
The Mystic Capture of the Unicorn
The Unicorn Is Killed
The Unicorn Lives

 

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