Friday, September 28, 2012

Rough Draft Fridays

From Grieved:

“Alex, get your shoes on,” my mom said. “You’re going to be late.”
I sat, barefoot, my socks in one hand, and stared at the morning news.
“This morning people are panicking in the quiet town of West Marshall,” the reporter said—a tall, middle-aged man with olive skin and salt-and-pepper hair that made him look slightly exotic in this part of the world—as he stood in front of a patch of lawn. “The sheriff’s department released news of another animal attack. Like the others, this most recent attack is believed to be by a pack of coyotes that are wintering in the area around West Marshall.”
My heart was floating in my stomach with the milk and fruity flakes that I’d just finished eating.
“Alex, come on,” Mom said again. “I’m not driving you, and you’ve missed too much school as it is.”
Mike dropped onto the edge of the sofa and gave me a look. It was a look that very clearly said, What the hell are you doing? Put your shoes on. I’m waiting. 
I gave him a look that said, Leave me alone. You have a stupid face.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Novel Wednesdays

A little more from Hugo today:

M. Myriel devait subir le sort de tout nouveau venu dans une petite ville où il y a beaucoup de bouches qui parlent et fort peu de têtes qui pensent.

Hapgood's translation:

M. Myriel had to undergo the fate of every newcomer in a little town, where there are many mouths which talk, and very few heads which think.

Perhaps not the most fascinating except to consider how this passage follows on the way the novel as a whole opens--by thinking about what it means to narrate.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Poetry Mondays

As a follow-up to last week's poem, I thought it only fair to post the poem that, in many circles, is most often described as the best poem (or at least, best lyric poem) ever written in English: John Keats's "To Autumn."


    SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
        With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
        And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
            To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
        Until they think warm days will never cease,
            For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.


    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
        Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
        Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
        Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
            Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
        Steady thy laden head across a brook;
        Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
            Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
        Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
        And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
        Among the river sallows, borne aloft
            Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
        Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
        The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
           And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Indifferent for sale

I forgot to mention this yesterday, but I've put Indifferent on sale at $2.99 (from $4.99). If you haven't read Indifferent, you can pick it up cheap now and then read The Grieved.

I checked Amazon today and both The Grieved and Wounds are available for sale. I'll try to keep checking on other sites and see when they show up, so that I can let you know.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Grieved and The Wounds We Give and Take

Today's the big day. Both The Grieved and The Wounds We Give and Take have been uploaded for sale. They should be available on Amazon tomorrow and then at other places (Apple, B&N, Kobo, etc.) over the next few weeks. They are already up for sale at Smashwords (someone bought one while I was writing this post!). I apologize again that it takes so long for the books to appear in other places. It's not favoritism on my part; Amazon and Smashwords just happen to be much faster.

The Grieved is the second book in The Sophistries of June. It follows almost immediately on the events of The Indifferent Children of the Earth, continuing Alex's story.

The Wounds We Give and Take is a novella set in the world of The Sophistries of June. It takes place the summer before Isaac and Christopher's deaths, and it shows a day (well, a weekend) in Alex's life with his best friend and his brother. It also has a lot of violence and magic.

Here are the covers:

I'll try to get around to updating the Books page in the next couple weeks, but this is a very busy time for me.

I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them!

Rough Draft Fridays

Another excerpt from Grieved:

Headlights ran across the faux wood paneling behind us, and Mike swore. A few minutes later, the door swung open. A woman stepped in. Mike’s mom, I guessed, although I hadn’t seen her before. Thin, too tan, and with sandy blond hair like Mike, she didn’t look anything like how her voice sounded on the phone—raspy, like an old smoker’s voice.
“Hey hon’,” she said, her words slightly blurred. “How was your night?”
“Not as good as yours,” Mike muttered into the blanket, still watching the TV. I tried to find some non-threatening middle ground to stare into while I reached for my shoes.
Then the door swung open again. The man who stepped into the room had the same face as Mike, albeit aged. That meant that he was still a good looking guy. True blond hair, fading to gray at the edges, was cut short in a traditional part, and aside from a slight beer belly, he looked fit. He grinned at Mike, who was steadily ignoring his parents, and wrapped an arm around Mike’s mom’s waist.
“Hey, Mikey-boy,” he said. “Look who’s home for good this time.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Novel Wednesdays

Today, the excerpt is not from a novel, but from a short story by James Joyce. "The Dead," from  Dubliners, ends with this paragraph:

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

If you haven't read much Joyce, or think that he is impossible, or only kept around because he is a darling of an elitist literary establishment, then you should read Dubliners. Joyce is an unbelievably good writer, and Dubliners is far more accessible than much of his work.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Poetry Mondays

I've decided I'd like to do a new thing on this blog, something that showcases one of my interests: poetry. I'm hoping to share with you poems, or parts of poems, across a long history of languages and traditions, that might brighten your day, inspire you, or offer an insight into what inspires me. In that sense, this is similar to "Novel Wednesday," a chance for me to share with you part of what I'm reading.

So here we go, with what has got to be one of my favorite poems of all time (and what may be, in my opinion, one of the best poems ever written in English): Gerard Manley Hopkins's "As kingfishers catch fire."

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;     
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s     
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;           
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:                
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;           
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,       
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.       

Í say móre: the just man justices;      
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;        
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—           
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,      
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his   
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

If you have a chance, read the poem aloud to yourself--or to someone else. It is an amazingly complicated poem: acoustically, stylistically, linguistically. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rough Draft Fridays

One thing that I hope to make a recurring feature of this blog are samples from upcoming works: please remember that these are *rough* draft excerpts. No editing has been done. Rather than showcasing perfection, these posts are meant to be a way of thinking about a work in progress.

For today's post, an excerpt from Grieved:

Beyond the reach of the tree’s broken branches, beyond the wrought iron fence of the cemetery, the world outside of West Marshall spread out like icing on a cake. The powdered snow transformed the stubble of the farmland, freezing everything in white and brown. Only the river, sluggish and dark, and the long line of the railroad tracks bending to the horizon told me that there was something more than West Marshall in this world. It felt like we were floating somewhere, a void of whites and browns and grays, with darkness growing.
“Why’d you want to come here?” I said. My lips were stiff with the cold, and my butt was wet from the snow on the ground.
Olivia just slid her arms around mine and laid her head on my shoulder. “It’s peaceful here,” she said. “And it reminds me of you. That day we came here, and the tree seemed to reach up to the sky, and everything was gold, the corn spreading out to the edges of the world. I don’t know.” She squeezed her arms around mine. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” and I could hear the laugh in her voice.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Novel Wednesdays

I've been trying to think of ways to offer some additional content on this blog, and I wanted it to be something that I personally liked and was invested in. Thus, in addition to updates about my writing and the craft, I've decided that I'd like to share snippets of novels I'm reading, or have read. My purpose is to point to passages that I find interesting for a variety of reasons, and thereby to, I hope, show something about what I find inspiring, valuable, or beautiful in literature.

So here we go with today's inaugural passage, from Victor Hugo's Les Misérables:

Vrai ou faux, ce qu'on dit des hommes tient souvent autant de place dans leur vie et surtout dans leur destinée que ce qu'ils font.

and in Isabel Hapgood's translation:

True or false, that which is said of men often occupies as important a place in their lives, and above all in their destinies, as that which they do.

A particularly fascinating line since it comes in the opening of a book that is telling us something about M. Myriel.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I'm back

It's been a few weeks since I posted--my apologies for the silence. I've been hard at work on revising Grieved and writing Ebb. Both are coming along very nicely; I'm close to finished with the revisions for Grieved, and so once I finish Grieved and have a chance to revise Wounds, both of those will be up for sale. Ebb is turning out to be a total joy to write.

I've had a couple new ideas for this blog, so you should see those starting tomorrow. I'm hoping to add more content over the next few weeks, features that will appear regularly. I'd love to hear your thoughts on them as they show up--please let me know.

I would be remiss if I did not mention, on this date, my sorrow for the losses suffered eleven years ago. I hope that our acts of memorial will be a way to bring peace.