Charleston

ah, those people

kneeling in a circle of light

and the feather-crown beast

came and sat

and waited and

thought a bit

then broke the circle

and spilled the people

then fled

another temple desecrated.

part of me wants

to have known

to have been there

to have cried out

a warning this time.

but i was not

but i was

but i am

but please hear me say

it is coming

it is gone

my heart rings like a stone bell

and you all, in the circle of light

i’m crying and you don’t hear me

and that is as it is

but i am here

and the clack-clack bird is flown

and we remain

and you remain

and the circle of light still shines

and i am crying for you out here in the dark

I Explain My New Publishing Deal to Aragorn, the Cat Who Lives With Me.

“Aragorn!” I screamed as I ran up the steps of our porch, feet pounding up to our front door. “Aragorn!!!! It happened! It. HAS. HAPPENED.”

I slammed the door behind me, remembering to throw the bolt – it doesn’t shut properly if you don’t throw the bolt, and when Train rumbles by the door can pop open — allowing the Dogs to wreak a very limited havoc on the neighborhood. My words echoed in the house and then fell quiet.  My Beloved and the dogs were out on a walk and the black and white cat was in the backyard absorbing solar radiation. It should just be me and Aragorn in the house. Is he asleep? I think I yelled pretty loud. I prepared to venture further, to face the lion in his lair, when at last his magnificent orange frame sauntered into view.

Aragorn
Aragorn

“What.”

“Oh, hey. Hey, Aragorn. Were…were you asleep? I mean, I can tell you about this later, if you were, you know, asleep.”

The orange tail lashed and he said nothing.

“Okay, I was just very excited because I’ve got my first publishing deal and I wanted to tell you about it.”

Aragorn blinked, then slowly uncoiled himself, heading back for his favorite nap spot.

“No! It’s a really cool thing! I won a contest and now I’m getting published by Inkshares and I’m going to be on Sword & Laser and –”

The orange cat stopped and looked back over his shoulder with disgust. “There’s no way you’re going to let me go back to sleep until you tell me about this, is there?”

I bounced on one foot, vibrating with pent up excitement. Aragorn sighed and curled back up in a nearby sunbeam. He flicked his whispers in a way that signified if not submission then at least grudging consent. I sat down next to him with my legs crossed. We sat together, him in the sun, me respectfully folding my hands and preparing my tale.

Aragorn opened one eye. “Did you fall asleep?”

“Snrrr..no! It’s just been a relentless couple of months okay, I was just taking a brain-pause.”

The orange cat closed his eye.

Inkshares is a publisher, an honest to god book publisher – but they’re trying to do something different. They crowdfund books – a little like Kickstarter, but with a guaranteed product. If you can convince 1000 people that you have a cool idea for a book, they will publish that book. Professional editor, professional marketing, professional cover design, the works – and it’ll be in bookstores. For real. Like I don’t have to personally deliver them myself and sweet-talk the staff. I heard about them a few months ago when Sword & Laser interviewed Gary Whitta.” I jabbered. “I had already been poking around the site – kicking the tires as it were – trying to decide if it would be a good fit for me and my next book. But then, out of nowhere they announce this contest.”

“Contest?” the cat didn’t quite sneer.

“A contest sponsored by Sword & Laser! It started in April and ran through the end of May. The top five fantasy and science fiction campaigns on the site with the highest pre-order counts would all be published – even if they didn’t hit the 1000 book goal. I thought about it for ten whole minutes before I jumped in. It was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. It was too many coincidences! I had never even heard of Inkshares until the podcast, and now the podcast was running a fricking contest for fantasy novels and I WRITE FANTASY NOVELS. I had already setup a ‘dummy’ campaign with very basic information – in a frantic hour or two I field-dressed it and set it to launch.”

“What’s the book called?”

“Uh. I mean. I think we’ve agreed to disagree before about my style, so –”

“What. Is the stupid. Book. Called. Human.”

Asteroid Made of Dragons…?”Asteroid

Aragorn arched his back and hissed at me.  I held up both hands, hoping to placate him. “Yes, yes – I know. But you see, I won. I won Aragorn. It took a lot of amazing people helping me out and Inkshares amending the contest rules right at the end to factor in unique readers as well as pre-order totals. But I’m getting a book published. It is happening. It’s happening, Aragorn!”

The cat lowered his spine and plopped back on the floor – or at least the most graceful version of a ‘plop’ that can exist. I kept going, hoping he wouldn’t mind the excited spittle flying across the room.

“And on top of that I get to be in the Sword & Laser Collection. I get to be interviewed on the podcast. It’s come full circle or something. I also have to write a whole hell of a lot in the couple of months to get the manuscript done and I think I may have some sort of anxiety-related tic forming in my left eye – but I get to see my work in hardback. I…I…I…”

Aragorn stretched with boredom. “You realize this is only interesting to you? It’s nice that you tricked a bunch of friend and strangers into helping you, but I fail to see what this could possibly mean for me?”

Cats ruin everything. “I mean, we’ve just talked so much about the other books, i thought you’d be excited.”

“Yay.”

“Okay – okay, I get it,” I got up from the floor and skulked away.