Plowshares

what am I getting at? what am I getting at?

repetition and iteration

will these save our nation?

can’t doubt, can’t stammer

got to put both hands on the hammer

what we are, we are – for One and Zero

in the rudiment parliament each of us can be the Hero

heat up the forge, I remember the way

coal still burns and metal bends when the words of Power stay

this summertime tune won’t hold up in winter’s tomb

got to reinvent the moment and rewire the golden loom

pull down your iron, the shovels and rakes

melt all the horseshoes, the copper and tin mistakes.

Want to know my mettle can hold an edge

want to be sure that this wizard is more than hedge

the battle is coming and dog-blood has its own stench

I can see the lightning but can I call it down in a trench?

Am I better on the sidelines, distracting with my bylines

pester like a jester, and checking real combatant’s tie-lines?

I can make toys and I can make shelves

and when the wind is right I can make Twelves

Elevens, Sixes, and Nines

Not all that’s gold is glittering but even the rudest ruby shines.

pull off the forge door, melt it down with the iron store

i’m burning up the shapes interlaced verbs to thee implore

sentences are sentinels that march on the beat,

can’t keep them straight enough to out-fox the darkened feat

when its all gone, and melted and gold

bring down the hammer and beat out the shape foretold

we need blades and blades and blades and the hammer

edges of light that won’t chip in the clamor

my words aren’t elf-made, Moria-born none

no gleaming Glamdring when this kid’s work is done.

but i’m hoping that the blood and lies in my cauldron

can make a bane to hold back a few of the Darkest-son.

Can’t even remember when I laid my words like cobblestones

now I rattle and tattle like a ghost moaning through ship-wreck bones.

Regardless and markless and the path grows darker still

no rhymes left but rubble, echo again like whippoorwill

don’t sleep at the forge, even dross can’t be ignored

these syllables will serve and beat every drop of ink into a sword.

The Circle

Stand in the circle

and  hold,

hold light in

the circle and stand.

made of song, made of ink

made of water overflowing the sink

circle of salt

circle of bone

circle of holly all green and alone

circle of hands

circle of eyes

forget this charm and the last fire dies

we are the circle

and the howl is the wind

singing of  moon

singing of End.

Not tonight

not today

not while the circle is we

standing and demanding

our blood be more than the sea

burn like the lightning

sing like the sun

remember remember the charm’s twice done

all of us fall and all of us die

but the Circle still stands

and we give our reply:

as long as we stand

as long as we hold

as long as the circle

burns hot in the cold

 

riddle of heart

rot in the bone

we stand and dissolve

but our legend is stone.

Wind up the charm

thrice bound against harm.

Hold.

Hold.

Hold.

Until Sundown

When Geranium was younger she wore her hair long. A careful waterfall of black that never, ever hid her face. She wove guitar string through it, silver and sure- encircled her brow like the ring of a tree marking time. She did not know yet that she would be a Bard of Gate City, though she had an inkling. She had not yet bent knee in service of the guitar, Lady Moon-Death. She had not even yet found her cobalt coat, the one that all the posters and action figures showed in later days. She was not yet the one that other bards would curse and envy as the Eruption.

But she was already Geranium. Already knew the Five Unlikely Songs, already could play the guitar like rain in the summer and sing like moonlight in the spring. Already could look in a young man’s eye, hum three notes and evaporate his rib cage. Already had been thrown from the rolls of the best conservatory, a third-rate orchestra, and a passable jazz trio. She was wandering and entirely too talented and entirely incomplete and just beginning to gnaw on the bones of useless defeat when she met the Lute.

He was sitting in the Razor Square in Gorah. He was old, at least to her eyes. Years later Geranium thought he might’ve only been in his late fifties, but to her fifteen he might as well have been crypt ash. He wore only a brown blanket, carefully wrapped and seemed only to own the clay bowl he sat behind in the square and the dusty brown lute that he played. Crowds walked by and he played. Never sang only played. A few coins fell and he played. Played until sundown.

Geranium only saw him by chance. Only listened for a heartbeat too long, then stared at his hands move on the strings and could not look away. She watched all day. And the next. Then on the third she sat down at his side.

“Will you teach me?” She pressed her long fingers hard onto the emerald green guitar case she carried.

The Lute continued to play.

Geranium opened her mouth to speak again. Then stopped. The two sat alone, the crowd was only shadows. She stared at his hands again and felt overpowered by two rare and unfamiliar emotions. Envy. Need. She realized that her face was inches from his strings and her hands were twitching, as if she could pluck his skill from the air.

I want what this old beggar has. She smiled after a time. The only thing that I’ve ever wanted.

She snapped open the silver clasps and pulled free her own darkwood guitar. The Lute smiled at last, the barest tug at his lips.

Geranium played. The Lute played. They played like lamps in autumn. They played like winter’s heart. The crowd passed and coins fell from time to time.

Geranium played. And the Lute played. For three years. Her hair grew ever longer and it often fell forward into her face. Guitar wire and lute string and the stone square and coins in the bowl. Three years playing until sundown. Three years until at last she did pluck his skill from the air.

Geranium laughed bright and free and kissed the Lute hard on his dusty mouth. He offered only an amused grunt then went back to playing. She stood and walked from the square without looking back.

The Lute played and Geranium walked on towards the legend she had promised herself.

lighthouse psalm

geranium

the eruption

before

and always

sometimes but not

never

would play

the guitar.

would sing

would fight

would crow at the moon and steal sunlight from the garter of day.

geranium stole songs

sang songs

love songs

rain songs

plain songs

‘songs are no ones to claim’ ear pressed to a new breast, unspooling their riddle

geranium wore a crown of melody

tore a bite out of the throat of night

geranium howled louder than

werewolf opera

and shamed the lunatic gods

who dared a crockery-challenge.

But sometimes

not always

just once or twice

three times in a leering moon

geranium would play

a

secret song.

Not his song, not a stolen song, not a madcap march or a sideways sonata.

Never on stage, never on the page, never never never

where it could be caught,

polished like a unicorn stone

in the laser beam heart of the eruption.

A song, a spell, a secret

a story never told,

alone in the bower,

alone in the quiet dark,

the song that broke.

 

The song that called,

the song that lied,

the song that kept the green ribbon tied.

Then to now and now to then

any wonder such a thing is forbidden?

 

 

quiet the eruption

lighthouse psalm

waiting for a ship

that never comes home

 

the song is rare

but played all the same

for only one ear

who hears not the refrain

sea salt and marrow

white gold and arrow

up and down I dream in your —

 

 

Spell/Sword Audiobook Contest Winners!

Here are the winning entries!

CZC208gW8AA6z6l

Phil Rood

Scorecard: 6 chances

 

Spell AND Sword +2

Tweeted x3

Judge’s Comments: Unexpected to receive a drawing, but very pleased to do so. The barbarity, the virility of the linework, that dashing mustache! Also the sensible messenger bag really sets of the ensemble. This piece is ready to be airbrushed on the side of a van.

richheinz

Rick Heinz

Scorecard: 9 chances

Sword +1

Cosplay +2

Tweeted x3

Judge’s Comments: Just look in those eyes. The intensity, the focus. Those are the eyes of a killer. A killer of hearts. Emotional damage 10d6+5, roll vs. swoon. DC Impossible.

redtom

Thomas J. Arnold

Scorecard:21 chances

Sword +1

Bad Cosplay +6

Tweeted x3

Judge’s Comments: There’s a lot to unpack here. Does he know that bird is there? Is the bird whispering forlorn secrets of regret and torment into his beard? What an adorably tiny blade! Has this piratical gentleman absconded with a fairy’s rapier? Excellent framing as well, as you can see the white abyss of nothingness that wait sto devour us all.

spell-sword

Margaret Poplin

Scorecard:16 chances

Spell AND Sword +2

Cosplay +2

Mystery Multiplier (Holy Shit Effect) x 4

Judge’s Comment: Wow! I don’t know if that is the proper grip one uses on a katana while casting an ice spell with your off-hand wand, but still damn. Definitely my personal favorite.

ALL of you win a free download of Spell/Sword from Audible.com. I’ll be contacting you all via email with your download codes shortly. Now I will announce the winner of The GRAY PRIZE, a 50.00 gift certificate to the local bookstore of your choice.

52 chances in the pool. The selection was totally random, based on the number of chances each of you had. I just figured out the probability and rolled some dice.

The winner of the GRAY PRIZE is: Thomas J. Arnold!

Thank you all so much for participating! And I hope that you enjoy the audiobook of Spell/Sword.

But wait ! Some of you are probably wondering what happened to the other 6 downloads? I offered to give away 10 downloads,right?! Yes, you are right, person who follows my blog and social media presence very closely but still didn’t bother to enter. I only had four entries, so they all get the download and I still have six remaining. But what am I going to do with them? Tell you what, the contest is over, but I’ll put a bounty on those remaining six downloads – all it takes is a picture as awesome as the four that I’ve shared above. Send to me any way you like, @gderekadams on Twitter is the easiest. I’ll honor this until I decide not to – or the six downloads are claimed, either way I’ll come back and update this post to prevent confusion.

UPDATE [2/1 – 2:24 EST]

1 Bounty Claimed

davebarrett

Dave Barrett

Judge’s Comments: Puns are never acceptable. I hate and love this.

2 Bounty Claimed

12674994_10153505771388165_591773607_o

John Waldrip

Judge’s Comments: RAWR

Spell/Sword Audiobook Contest BIRTHDAY EDITION

Time for another giveaway! I’ve been sitting on these download codes for the Spell/Sword spell_sword_cover_finalaudiobook for long enough. My birthday is at the end of the month and to celebrate I want to GIVE 10 people a free download of the book from Audible.com. Admittedly I’m GIVING you these with the idea that you will GIVE me an honest review and GIVE me your undying support and perhaps GIVE me a sandwich if I am hungry at some undisclosed date in the future. All of this giving, it warms the heart.

10 people will win the free download, and one person will win the The Gray Prize.

The Gray Prize

  • $50.00 gift certificate to local book store of your choice OR I take you to lunch  and tell you what  nice person you are (location/travel permitting)
  • Unique, one of a kind Gray Witch mug, hand-made by the author with a Sharpie.
  • Your choice of one (1) of my completed Gundam models
  • One Question That I Must Answer Truthfully*
  • So, how do you enter?

Send me a picture of yourself with a SPELL or a SWORD. [counts twice if your picture has BOTH].  You can email to me directly spellswordcontact AT gmail DAWT com OR tweet to me @gderekadams. If you tweet it, because of the native social media boosting properties, I will add a x3 multiplier to your entry.

1 chance – Picture of you with a SWORD

1 chance – Picture of you with a SPELL

2 chances – Picture of you with a SPELL AND A SWORD

Tweet your entry – x3 Chance Multiplier

Other bonus attacks for pictures:

+2 chance – cosplay

+4 chance – Spell/Sword cosplay

+6 chance – bad cosplay

+10 chance – bad Spell/Sword cosplay

+5 chance – somebody famous

+5 chance – impressive location

+5 chance – unsettling composition/spooky

+50 chance – Lev Grossman

x4 Mystery Multiplier – ????

The contest ends at midnight on January 31st, 2016.

No purchase necessary – all entries will be entered into the drawing for the download codes and The Gray Prize. I’ll do the drawing on February 1st and announce here the winners and contact you via email to get you your filthy winnings.

NOTE: I’m going to want to share these pictures with the Internet, obviously – if you are NOT OKAY with that, you can still enter. Just let me know in the email that the images are not for sharing. I’m planning on sharing the 10 winners – along with any other pictures I get that are super hilarious or poignant.

Any questions? Drop them in the comments below – let’s go! I’m very excited to see what you folks come up with.

*What is truth? I am a secretive writer, and much of the Grand Plot of Spell/Sword still lies in shadow. This is your chance to ask me one question about the books that I have to answer truthfully and fully to the best of my ability. Or I guess you could waste it asking me about my political views or something? It’s your nickel.

 

Answers to No One

King Tamar sat alone. It drove her mad to be blind while her city, her people, were in peril. They were imperiled by the blazing red-white circle that, by her guard’s faltering description, filled half the night sky now. She had given them all tasks, duties to prepare the castle defenses, to prepare the city for the long night that could still fall. My vision will return. There will be much to do come dawn, either way.

She had decided the best place for her to be was the Alabaster Throne, where at least she could be a symbol of resolve and comfort to her people. Her heirs were safely on their way, bound for the far city of Caleron. They had fought her decision, but they had bowed to her Sight.

The king raised her head. Someone was there, standing a few feet from the throne, silent and unannounced. She craned her ears, trying to decide if she should rebuke this careless guard, but she could not hear the jingle of chain mail, or the creak of leather straps, or the slight tap of a blade against armor. As best she could tell, the someone was standing in the blue rectangle, recently vacated by the knight’s tribunal.

Someone walked closer.

“Could I stay with you a moment?”

King Tamar felt as though she was stepping across a dark pit and wished that she had not left her glaive in the sitting room floors below. “I am sorry, but I do not know you.”

A strong hand took hers. “You know me.”

“Though we have never met.” The king returned the grip, the way she might handle a viper.

“I was curious about something. You had them break bread together. Simple magic, old magic, from the very bones of the city. Only the hunter noticed. You wanted to bind together your little band of heroes. But why did you not tell them all that you saw?”

Tamar the Thrice Cursed smiled, all teeth. “I am a king. I owe answers to no one.”

“She will pay with the coin most dear. That is what you saw. Why did you not say it?”

Tamar reached up and methodically pulled the blood-soaked cloth from around her eyes. Blind eyes, dry-rimmed with red, but she wanted her questioner to see the iron. “There is always a Cost. I have paid it many times. My city, my children, the stones I bought with steel and death. If they were Heroes they would pay it gladly, but they are villains all, so I will spend their lives for them. I know what Tomorrow holds for them, all but the goblin. The boy’s future is a brown cloak, the girl’s is an empty cup. The monster will wither in a teardrop of stone. Is that what you ask? Is that what you want to know from a king?”

A gentle hand ran down the king’s face, and she slapped it away.

“I know a king’s burden.” The hand released her and was gone, but as Someone walked away the voice lingered, coiling around her like a green vine.

Tamar sat alone and thought of the falling sky she could not see and her father who was gone and the battles she had fought, young and bright, scattering memories like flower gems on a broken necklace—falling to break on the floor of her throne room. Then she thought of promises. Promises kept and promises yet to be fulfilled. This is the last curse. To see with eyes unclouded how utterly empty the Game. Block this cut, stamp out this blaze, rip out the beast’s heart again and again, but still it comes. Only Once—only one chance to stand, to move, to protect, to find the right path. Stone cracks, wind falters, sun fades, even Time erodes. I walk down a tunnel of wind with a fistful of sand. What does it matter if the asteroid falls? Everything ends—everything falls apart.

“The button falls off the coat,” the old woman said, but not even Someone was listening.

Excerpt from Asteroid Made of Dragons.