Books, Happy New Year, life

2019 – Year of King of Wands

img_1433For Christmas, my daughter gave me a bar set to fix a most excellent Old Fashioned and a deck of tarot cards.

Naturally, the bottle of bitters ended up shattered on my floor after a few tries of making my own old-fashioneds so I turned my attention to the tarot deck. I had to reaquaint myself with the cards again.

In my university years, I played quite a bit with the tarot deck. I loved the beautifully painted cards so my daughter gave me a wonderful gift.  I did worry I might accidentally summon some kind of mischievous or demonic spirit considering the fate of the bitters. And maybe I did. I decided I would reflect on the coming year so I shuffled the card and did a thirteen card spread. One card to signify the entire year and each of the others for each month. I figure each is worth a blog post.

The King of Wands signifies long-term success in its upright position. There is more but this is the aspect I will concentrate on this year.  It will be a lot of work, but hope springs eternal.

Angels and Demons, Books, Villains, Writing

An Ancient Tome

I wrote a paper on JRR Tolkien for an independent study while in school in London, this thirty years ago. Time is beating the crap out of me, no doubt. So I wanted to travel to Oxford to have look at a few original sources kept in the University libraries.  I am big on original sources.

One of my professors proudly supplied me with a pass. However, I did not realize there were limitations to the pass. Much to the horror of the librarians, I was drawn to a restricted section full of ancient tomes. Most were locked behind glass. That should have been a hint.

There was, among those moldy old books, one left unintended written in a script and language I could not decipher. On impulse, I picked it up thus earning my lifetime banishment from that library.

It was totally worth it, despite the possible apocalyptic horror it might have unleashed. Oopsie.

In the  moment I touched that book, I felt a surge of energy pulse through me. Possibly  brought on by the horror of the ruddy security guard sputtering at me, but I rather believe that electrified pulse came from the book itself, the book wanting to impart its contents to someone, anyone. Or possibly it unleashed the apocalypse, given current events.

All books are magic. I have no clue what was in the book I came across, be it spells of a lost power or possibly a transcription of some church records. I never could find out. My escort, the one that unceremoniously threw me out of the library into the rain, only lectured me on how rude Americans could be and would hear no excuses from me.

I only had my imagination to go by. I think the script was Gaelic of some kind. It possibly came from a monastary but I don’t even know how old the book might have been. I did not have enough time to examine the vellum. Might it have been crafted of human skin? There was a time… but such parchment would not hold ink for so long. Well, unless there was some evil enchantment at work. Definitely a possibility.

Yes, all books are magic and so, some are quite dangerous. Magic and truth in equal measure all in black and white. Most people avoid both of these more vehemently than they do root canal.

My imagination crafted that old restricted book into a grimoire, a spell book for the darkest of sorcerers. And so filled my nights with horrors for years after, some demon force chasing me across time and space.

Now, I seek a way to defeat the dark magic unleashed on me by that ancient tome, to tame or banish the demons that rose with its powers. Sadly, books of miracles, are so rare. Well, I never could find one equal to the demons that haunt me so I decided I would write one, an Idyll. I am running out of time. I can’t hold off those demons  much longer.

I do apologize if my jaunt into the restricted section of the library ultimately leads to a zombie apocalypse. Awkward.

Books, Reading, Writing

Cups of Coffee and City of Lies by Sam Hawke

img_1189Nothing goes so well with a cup of coffee or a spot of tea than a good book. I have been nursing a mighty good one called City of Lies by Sam Hawke, a fellow Reider*.

And it is glorious. Great characters, great world-building with a touch of classic forensics. It is about  food-tasters – someone who checks for poison in a head of state’s dishes, a rather dangerous profession to be sure. This involves a brother and sister whose family are tasked with protecting their Chancellor (the head cheese of their country) from assassination, especially poison.

When their Uncle Etan fails and dies along with one Chancellor, the brother and sister must work together to keep the new Chancellor from their enemies. The sister, Kalina, was to be trained initially, but as a sickly child, she lacked the constitution.  The duty then passed to her brother, Jovan, who seems to have a kind of autism similar to Asperger’s. This makes it tough for him to deal with stressful situations, like attempted assassinations on his chancellor, Tain, who as it happens, is his dearest friend. Both siblings have strengths and weaknesses that make this story ring so true despite the fantastical setting.

img_1054-1The opening is simply sublime. If you are a fan of epic fantasy, this is one to buy and keep forever.  I recommend this book with all my heart and soul. Even if there are no dragons. Well, a dragon will guard this book on my special book shelf once I am done enjoying the book fully. I am now a big fan of Sam’s. I think you will be too.

*Reiders are writers, both published and working toward publication, who are under the tutelage of the Queen Of the Known Universe, Janet Reid, agent extraordinaire and shark of many teeth.

Books, Publishing, Writing

Cups of Coffee for Cursing Revision

CreativeWriterIt is getting late. Work was long today. I am tired and yet here I pour over what I hope is a final block revision of my latest book. There will still be a line edit, and probably another set of eyes will have to look it over for good measure. But some day this damn book will be finished and ready to go seeking a place out in the world. I have a cup for that.

And yes, this is the very last freaking draft…really…

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Books, Quotes, Reading

Books & Beginnings XXIV

img_1115Reveal: The final reveal is the opening Paradise Lost by John Milton from Books & Beginnings XXIII. How this book shaped me and filled me with despair. It told of the fall of man, how Lucifer lead a rebellion in Heaven and sacrificed paradise, screwing everything up for humanity in the process. It filled me with rage because there is no denying my own fallen nature and that of the creatures I share this world with. However, there is that persistent and compelling light inside me that says “it doesn’t have to be like this.”

I could look at the world through the prism of both destruction and creation and see both far ends of the spectrum. I feel certain humanity can make a reality of anything they can imagine. How frightening and glorious is that is. And that is where my writing comes from. A quest to regain paradise. All our infinite power of creation free from its corruption.

This concludes Books & Beginnings. October will involve a simpler theme as I close in on hitting the query trenches with my latest work. I think it will be Cups of Coffee. That is a big driver of my productivity. Thank you for tagging along. Until the next.

Books, Quotes, Reading

Books & Beginnings VIII

1884Reveal: Most readers will recognize the iconic opening line of George Orwell’s 1884 from my Books & Beginnings VII post. This book cemented my natural distrust of authority. Lord, Help me, it’s been almost a half century since I first stumbled across Orwell only to watch his vision of the future become reality.

Indeed, I believe people can be easily convinced that 2+2=5 in today’s world. At twelve or thirteen, I never believed this book would ever be reality. Learning to think for oneself was still a thing back then. Now it is not taught at all. I know. I work in public education.

It was nearly the infamous year that I read 1984. It was the early 80s, maybe the last couple of years of the 70s. Orwell’s vision had not happened as our technology had not yet advanced enough. Today, in 2018, this book is more relevant than it has ever been since its publication in 1950. The wonder is that it has yet to be banned. I expect that is coming.

Up Next: Fantasy continued to be my obsession. Although, horror played its part. This one surprised me for my mother brought it to me, and she vocally dislikes fantasy. I took it second-hand from her (I often did this – my mother read at an obscenely rapid rate so she always had a large discard pile. My father read slowly but he remembered every word. He too is a writer). Skeptical, I opened it and became a great fan of this author.  Maybe there were fantasies my mother did like only I believe she saw this book as history in that often hidden romantic mind of hers.

GUESS THE TITLE:

The day my uncle Comlach came home, I was just six years old.

Books, Quotes, Reading

Books & Beginnings VII

img_1101REVEAL from Books & Beginnings VI – A Wizard of Earthsea introduced me to Ursula Le Guin. Aside from falling in love with the story, I found a mentor, an inspiration beyond the boys’ club of J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, and all of those guys. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the boys. Do not take anything away from the masters. They are great.

I was a writer from age six. I had volumes upon volumes of notebooks filled with stories by the time adolescence reared its ugly head.  I wanted to write fantasy like Tolkien. I had read children’s books by female authors that toyed with fantasy, A Wrinkle in Time, for example, but Le Guin’s work was elevated somehow. Like a Tolkien. I saw a master in her. Something rich beyond the text, an invisible force made manifest in words.

Society kept trying to tell me what I couldn’t do, what I shouldn’t do, what I mustn’t do as a young female.  I never listened. I was the first girl to play Little League baseball in my neck of the woods. I played guitar. I hunted, I camped, I played football and soccer in the dirt with dozens of boys.

I could not be forced into a dress, and I did not associate with girls much. I did like this weird insistence that girls must be pretty, and well-behaved Boys could be Jabba the Hut, and that was fine.  I was not going to be pretty and I was developing a temperment that would scare the flab right off that Star Wars monster.  Remember, horrible gender dysphoria followed me into adolescence. Reading Ursula Le Guin told me “Keep fighting. Do what you want.”

ash background beautiful blaze

In seventh grade, in my honors English class, I wrote a paper on Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 that for whatever reasons made my teacher giddy. She read it to the whole class. As a reward, aside from the big shiny A, she handed me the next book of a great beginning that I will share with you. She felt sure I would enjoy it or at least appreciate it. She was right.

 

It was a bright, clear day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.