As Above

unwinding the binding, the tape still rewinding

unstuck in my head, nothing’s lost for finding

days and weeks and months at the fulcrum

spinning and winning and telling you i’m all done

my hands are stone and this fossil’s forgotten bone

then the stars peek through I hoot and I’m singing  home

not old enough yet to really feel the weight

not young enough Seth to really fill the plate

i’m caught in the middle, squawking like a raven

hoarse on the battlements and  laughing for the maven

of blood and mud and the lightning bolt and midnight

i try to catch my breath but she’s already out of sight

i sleep beneath the sands but find nary a worm

whispering to the Maker, wondering when this kid gets his turn

who was  i then and what am I now

still don’t know the riddle but this fiddle-crab can never bow

so below I wake and below I brew my mistakes

hard slinging the ringing and hoping to catch a potter’s break

as above so below

a promise is kept

but only in the undertow

song of the east, dance in the west

never mind my science, this is how the path is kept.

 

 

Hold On, I’m Getting At Something

The backer copies of Asteroid Made of Dragons have all shipped and the wave is crashing down on the East Coast. By tonight – tomorrow maybe – they will have all arrived. My Facebook profile is awash with pictures – pictures of my friends with their copy, the copy they bought a year ago because I asked them to. Some have one, some have three, or five, or more. A gesture of love, of confidence, of faith and it wrecks me.

Writing is lonely. Being a human is lonely.

I don’t do well with moments of connection. Socially, sure. Joking, sure. But a real moment? Something important and true? Not my scene. We’re so unstable, the most unsuitable of symbols. How can I know the things I say are being received in the moment, in the blur of memory and sense and thinking of the next thing to say while half-hearing what you are saying now while also feeling the echoes of other versions of this conversation from before and beyond  on TV, in dreams, from splinter-blinks of fragmented now? I mean, how? Maybe it’s just me.

Being lonely is writing. A human is.

Hold On, I’m Getting At Something. This should be my coat of arms. I’ve written three books now (THREE!), and thousands of other words off in the Grand Margins.  And all in the service of this dimly perceived quest of discovery of meaning – of this THING I’m trying to say, but cannot express. Only glimpse the edges of as I travel forward and back in time. It’s hard to connect with humans – but with words, you have a puncher’s chance. This word connects to that, shapes form. Things stay where you put them. Mostly. Rime is Rime and Jonas is Jonas and Xenon loves graham crackers and Linus snores just a little bit. Now, on my desk is a red ball, the color of summer sunset and it is red, red, red. And it will stay red as long as I believe that it is red.

A lonely human is writing. Being.

So now – I see these pictures, I see these signs of love and faith. And all I can say is – do you see the ball on my desk? Is it red? Is it summer sunset or is it more of a cranberry? Why are you listening? Why are you picking up the signal? Why are you dreaming with me of the three moons that have no name and the Lost and the stupid, stupid power of friendship that keeps the dark at bay?

Being human is writing lonely.

Ah, the simple words. I’ve already said them – but they don’t land right. Thank you. Thank you. You thank, you are thanks. Thanks You. A tic, a nod, a thing we say to strangers and waiters and cats when they heed. An empty thing, not enough, a hollow gourd. A blob of ink at the end of emails and yammering sales pitches. Useless, sere, not enough. I pick up the pieces and slam them together, that’s all that I am, all that I do – all that I can do. With whatever art I have I try to say the Thing.

Lonely is being. Human is writing.

Thank you. You thank. You are thanks. Thanks are you.

Lonely human thanks you. You are writing.

Writing is you.

You are thank.

The ball is red and it is not so lonely. Thank you for coming so far with me.

 

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 —

 

 

Fire

fire

New York Public Library -Bloomington: view of the town after a sleet storm, Jan. 1871

Ice and snow and the outside of doors.

The town clutched itself.

A stranger came,

squat and empty like a jug.

He rattled on the windows and tapped on the doors.

He whispered only, ‘fire’

‘where is fire’.

The town did not answer.

The stranger whispered at the keyholes, ‘fire’

‘where is fire’.

He whispered and trudged and crunched, white snow around his black coat and brown boots.

The town did not answer.

The stranger came to the last house, the edge of town.

The window was blue with frost, but he could see inside.

Inside was gold, heat and bone and gold, and she saw him.

She saw him through the window.

She did not turn. She stood.

The stranger pushed empty fingers to the glass and whispered, ‘fire’

‘are you fire’.

She did not turn. She came to the window.

‘fire’ the stranger whispered.

She opened the glass, she took his hand.

‘fire?’

‘Yes’ she said.

 

She closed the glass and forgot the stranger.

He was nothing but boots in the snow.

 

 

Music for Your Face

I made a Spotify playlist for Asteroid Made of Dragons! It was fun for me to do. FUN I SAY. I’m a recent expatriate from Songza (RIP) and I hate Google Play Music, so I’m fairly new to this as my streaming music font of choice. I’m — okay with it? Still learning my way around and making this playlist was a good venue for that. One thing that is annoying is there doesn’t seem to be a way to control the order of the songs on the playlist, so I can’t put them there in proper  ‘I burned you this CD mix’ order. SO – below I’ll put them in the intended order, along with a little description of which character, scene, or concept from AMOD made me pick it.

Fair warning, this is heavy on late 90’s and early 00’s pop, as that was when I was in high school and college and a lot of my musical inclinations coalesced. This whole exercise started when I realized that ‘Freak of the Week’ by the Marvelous 3 was an excellent backing track for the Rime and Jonas plot line in the book. Probably some light spoilers below if you want to be 100% PURE for your first read of the book.

 

Hit Parade – BRADIO

If anyone’s curious, my mental image of the book is flat-out anime – so I would want the feel of an anime opening theme. I also keep my age-old tradition of beginning and ending the mix with the same artist. I would have put ‘Flyers’ up front, but Death Parade beat me to that pretty soundly, but I’ll steal it as my closer. This song is just super goddamn fun, the anime titles would have the Players in the cart, arguing over props – while inter-cutting images of the Main Characters doing whatever they were doing 5 minutes before they appear in the book.

Science Genius Girl – Freezepop

Xenon! The best – my archaeologist goblin with a heart made of nerd. I was determined to have a brand new main character for this book, one who does not express their might through any sort of combat – only in her quest for knowledge and prodigious drinking prowess.

Freak of the Week – Marvelous 3

Our Heroes, Rime and Jonas – this would play during the fight scene with the golem after the semi-botched bank heist.

My Name is Jonas – Weezer

No reason.

Burden in My Hand – Soundgarden

The Squire’s Dark Secret. This song doesn’t quite fit the tone for all of the revelations about what made Jonas flee from Gilead – but it’s a song that will be important later, so I’m wedging it in. Side note – in Aufero this is a song from Gilead, something of a Low Ballad that soldiers sing when deep in their cups.

Karma Police  – Radiohead

The fight scene on the ship, where Rime goes a wee bit too far involving lightning and half-ghost pirates.

Postcards From a Midwestern Salesman – Dayroom

Linus, the dread knight of duty. The lyrics don’t quite fit – but the feeling of age, of time, and of being completely weary do.

Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues – Jimmy Eat World

Ah! In the anime, we would use a TOTALLY different art style for this flashback to the ‘caging’ of the dragons – mimicking the ideographs and stylized depictions on the urn, with this rad, RAD song in the ground.

Are You Jimmy Ray? – Jimmy Ray

Sideways’ theme song. Also perfect for when he’s drunk and sunbathing between murders on the cruise ship.

Longview – Green Day

Just for whenever Rime and Jonas or Mercury and Xenon are just kind of wandering around. Lyrics don’t fit, but it’s my favorite Green Day song, so deal.

Fuck and Run – Liz Phair

Rime loves this song. Just sits in her room, with her headphones plugged in and listens to it on repeat.

Desperately Wanting – Better Than Ezra

I like this song. Yep, that’s it. There’s precious little romance in the book – some beginnings, some endings, and a good deal of platonic connection.

Low Man’s Lyric – Metallica

Jonas returns home. Lots of dog imagery for this kid. Just a song about feeling like dirt for all the crap you did. Also good for while he’s in the dungeon.

Gimme Sympathy – Metric

Xenon at the Weary Titan bar. Just kind of drunk and lost, man.

Pacific Rim (Main Theme) – Ramin Djawadi ft. Tom Morello

Rime IS A JAEGER AND THE ASTEROID IS A KAIJU.

Gotta Get Up – Harry Nilsson

Asteroid Response Team.

So Clear – Junip

Entering the Asteroid, also the feeling of unraveling all the weirdo Precursor mysteries and secrets that are crammed all over the damn place.

Power of Two – Indigo Girls

No comment. Probably about Mercury and Xenon, but also applies to Jonas and Rime.

Fall Behind Me – The Donnas

Parting of the Ways.

Flyers – BRADIO

End credits and a sky-cycle.

 

Nostos No. 6

image

Lines of steel, smoke and shout
Metal church and earnest lout.
Darkness wither, ivy-heart beat
The cinder revival is button-stone feet.
Remember the gods, count up their names
titan-bone memory stokes up the flames.
The violet leaf and the shining thorn
All’s forgotten on seven-pence morn.
Circle of Six, five and the shadow
Beggars are princes in the ettercop’s barrow.
Keep a hand on the rail, and your stone on the blade.
Greenglass coffins wait in the shade.
Heroes or Fools or cannon-shot spite
All Time is stolen from the fingers of Night.

Asteroid Made of Dragons: First Read Impressions

Banana cover

I’m a little muddled honestly. I think it’s a stronger book than my last, but I don’t have the same feeling of certainty after the first read. Maybe because this book has a LOT more moving parts? I feel like it all works, the baseline mechanics of it all, and some scenes really shine, and the end really surprised me? It makes me deeply happy, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t what I expected it to be.

I think it may just be a matter of form. Riddle Box was a murder mystery and that structure is a joy to inhabit — AMOD follows a three-act structure with a meta-narrative frame and all sorts of weird  hyper-narrative threads that shoot off all sorts of places. I like them! I want them to be there! But I guess it’s hard to quite feel it all settle in my head quite yet. RB was a dark lance to the heart, AMOD is this strange spinning wind chime that looks different from every angle.

I’m also serving a lot of masters in this book – something that is giving me no undue amount of anxiety-knives in my spleen. As always, the book must deliver on its own merits – one episodic adventure served a la carte. But, I also want readers who’ve followed me from the first two books to find the threads and rewards there for them – BUT BUT this is a bigger debut for a larger audience with my new publisher, so I don’t want new readers to feel unwelcome or confused, I also need to introduce the world and my entire ethos in an exciting and palatable fashion, ALSO I need to set up some secrets and foreshadowing for things that will happen in later adventures ALSO ALSO AS WELL AS just frankly deliver on the fun of the premise.

I won’t say that this draft has succeeded on all of these fronts. I will say that it is in the process of getting there.

BULLETED LIST

  • The frame story really lands for me – not sure how betas and editor will feel, but I think it will be especially nice for readers of RB and still work thematically for new readers.
  • First act really cooks along – lots of fun, strong starts, distinct voice for each section. May also just be because it’s been the longest since I wrote this section, but I enjoyed first act the most.
  • Xenon is the best. Suck it, all you old characters. You bore me.
  • First Act feels a lot like Spell/Sword in the Jonas & Rime chapters – wacky battles and teen angst.
  • Second act feels lumpy. There’s a chapter that straight SUCKS. Just halting, charmless, and bad. All connective gristle. Lots of re-writing here and the whole second act – this is where the reader gets to spend time in Gilead, and I don’t want that to be wasted.
  • Third Act we’re back to ACTION, ticking clock, asteroid falling, all that – the mechanics and emotion all land fairly well, need to work through the rise and fall of some of the action sequences. There’s a sequence i’m calling ‘Rime Goes Boom’ that I need to muse over and play with, going to need feedback on that one to get it to sing properly.
  • Denouement makes me grin like a huge nerd, its the anime ending – I can already feel the wind of the next adventure blowing and it’s exciting and makes me happy, especially because the plan is to leave Aufero to its own devices for a while after AMOD.

So, a complicated reaction. Lots of work to be done. God I’m glad I’m not doing it alone.

If you aren’t already – follow the book’s progress on my Inkshares page – where you can BUY IT if you’d like, or just malinger in the shadows and watch it change and grow and get better and better until its too hot for you, just way the fuck out of your league.

Michael’s Blurb

 

My fandom is very small. A hardened band of adventurers, rogues, miscreants, and malcontents. AKA mostly my friends and the few poor strangers who’ve stumbled into the books online. They are not a forgiving sort – what they like they tell me. What they hate they INSCRIBE IN THE DARK BOOK OF TORMENT. [The Dark Book of Torment is my anxiety riddled ego.]

But among this rabble, there is one person that I truly answer to. My Core Demographic, as a refer to him. It should come as no surprise that My Core Demographic is an eleven-year-old kid.  When others complained about the lag waiting for ‘The Riddle Box’ to come out, I ignored their pleas. When Michael took me to a nice dinner of hot wings and soda to take me to task for my sloth, I was shaking in my boots. In desperate panic, I gave him what I had – the first three chapters of Book Two. I waited by the phone, by my email, by the window to hear his response. If I ever lose Michael, I might as well pack-in this whole silly affair.

At last he has responded!

mikeI was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of the first three chapters of The Riddle Box. After reading Spell/Sword, I was looking forward to finding out where Rime and Jonas’ journeys would take them next. Adams did not disappoint! After a long trek, we catch back up with Rime and Jonas at the home of Lord Bellweather. Their arrival coincides with a murder at the home, and Rime and Jonas set about trying to unravel the mystery. The first three chapters kept me engaged and curious. I was drawn in by the very first page. One of my favorite aspects of Adams’ writing is the way I instantly care about and am interested in the characters’ fates. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time wondering which paths Adams will take with these characters. If you love fantasy or mystery – or if you’re just in the mood for a good, fun read- The Riddle Box is for you!

Michael Niedzwiecki-Castile, age 11

Now that’s a freaking blurb! With better grammar than I usually muster!

I am beyond relieved that Michael enjoyed the first three chapters – and I understand he received the full book as a Christmas present and has already devoured it. I can only hope that I will be summoned to another eldritch feast in his court to discuss his thoughts and responses to the entire novel.

Spell/Sword and The Riddle Box can be found on Amazon for purchasing with money. They are .99 on Kindle, substantially more for paperback. Free [!] on Kindle Unlimited.