lines in the sand

lines in the sand

drawing them in circles around me

riddles and shapes of song

lines in the sand

can’t live in this invisible country

water’s rising, won’t be long

 

how can

I live

in just

a moment?

no one

will know.

waiting

to forget.

 

lines in the sand

promises are breaking like the waves

i speak and then i’m gone

time in my hand

books of me cry out from pages

i don’t trust any one

 

how can

i be

only

a moment?

you are

not me,

but wearing

my jacket.

 

lines in the sand

circles fading, draw them again

water and night will prove

lines in the sand

memory is a fool again

 

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Writing Update

Over the past year, friends and acquaintances will ask me ‘ So, how’s the writing going, Derek???’. I usually grimace and give some sort of a half-answer. I sat down today to write a seven-eighths answer, and this is what I wrote.

A traveler came to a city on the edge of a forest. The windows were dark, the chimneys were cold, the few people he passed had empty faces and sharp teeth. This was a place where Hunger wed Time, and he could see that soon their vicious children would be born. He had no wish to enter this city, but his shoes carried him down into its red tile streets all the same.

The traveler carried with him a box — a box wrapped three times in cords of silver. He did not know what was inside. Along the path, next to fire and  under the moon he had told himself many times what the treasure might be. He knew it was no heavier than so, no more fragile than so – but the silver cord was wound too tight for even the tiniest peek at the contents.

A long time ago perhaps, he had promised to carry the box to the city. Of that he was sure. But as Night gave slaughter to a legion of days, the rest of his charge had grown hazy. Was he to give the box to someone? Was he to perform some task with it? Were there other preparations he had needed before arriving at the city? He did not know, was not sure if he had ever known. Only the familiar weight of the box in his pack, only the road blooming in front of his feet, only the city waiting on the edge of a forest.

He wandered up and down a few streets, uncertain. Fewer and fewer people could be seen – and those he did see were walking knives. The sun was dying, so he hurried on. He found an abandoned house on the end of a narrow street and slipped inside. He laid out his bedroll in what must have once been the dining room of the house. He ate a few meager bites of his provisions and listened to the wind hoping it would have some suggestions.

The traveler went to sleep, his pack and the silver-wound box tight in his arms.

In the dark he dreamed of nothing, the lonely house swaying in the wind.

He awoke and his arms were wrapped around nothing. His pack was gone and the box.

The traveler cried out in fear, then in anger.  He ran to the door, the morning sun beaming down on him and an empty street. Not even stopping to retrieve his meager bed roll he ran out into the city. Up and down streets, past empty buildings and broken windows. He saw no one. Not even the few hollow people that he had seen the night before: the city was empty. Nothing but red tile streets and shattered doors and the sound of his feet hitting the ground. He ran for hours, until at last simple exhaustion brought him to a halt.

The traveler sat on the edge of a dry fountain and felt the sun’s heat. His charge was gone, he was alone, and there was no one to explain. He groaned into his hands and took a long breath.

After a time, the traveler stood. He took one last look around and then shrugged. It took him some time but he retraced his steps to the abandoned house where he had slept and found his bedroll tangled and waiting. He folded it carefully and slung it over his shoulder – it was all he had left to carry.  Taking a loose nail from a broken cross-beam he took a few minutes to scratch his name on the outside of the front door.

Then he shut it behind him and walked out of the city, beyond the city. Into the dark forest, the road blooming underneath his feet.

What Writers Want

An incomplete list.

  1. More time.
  2. More words that are interesting but aren’t too iridescent or macabre.
  3. For the shape in here to be the shape in there. For somehow you to see what we see.
  4. Less names or better names.
  5. Temporal vortex to skip to when the thing is done.
  6. More minotaurs.
  7. For it to matter.
  8. You waking up in the middle of the night, the solution to our riddle hot in your brain.
  9. You waking up in the middle of the night, knowing our heroes are with you and feeling warded.
  10. You waking up in the middle of the night, knowing our monsters are in you and feeling alone.
  11. Characters that follow the script would be too much to ask, but perhaps characters that would at least be willing to explain WHY they just blew up half your novel.
  12. A writer you revere to look up from your pages with wonder.
  13. A writer you hate to look up from your pages with despair.
  14. Less gerunds.
  15. An owl that whispers punchy dialogue to you.
  16. To know – really know – that this sentence is good.
  17. Bad reviews to be punished by that reviewer receiving only their least favorite jelly bean flavor. Forever.
  18. To briefly escape the knowledge that it’s always getting away from us, that we’re never quite catching it, that the faster we type the more certain the end of the sentence will never, ever be true.
  19. Less words. (if there were less, we’d be better at picking the right ones)

Accountability

I want my art to do more for the people, causes, and country that I care about. And as much as I earnestly believe in the power of any art to shape the world – I also know that direct action is also required.  Protest, dialogue, education – and donation.  We’re 10 days in and a lot of righteous war chests are going to need our coin to battle all this goddamn evil.

Effective immediately, I pledge to donate all of my 2017 royalties from my novel Asteroid Made of Dragons to the following:

I believe in the rule of law, I believe in the duty of the Fourth Estate. I believe in organizations that shield the defenseless. I believe in women AND health care AND allowing them to easily be in the same room without oversight. I do not believe that His Excellency’s administration will serve or protect the common good, so all of us need to pick up the slack as best we can. And arm the defenders of decency and justice.

Whatever royalties I receive on AMOD this year I’m going to evenly divide between these four groups. Like most authors I receive royalties once every quarter, I’ll post here when I get the next one in April. Now, I ain’t no Stephen King – these aren’t going to be big numbers even as I start to really flog the book in the next few months. But ‘what a person can do, a person ought to do’ as Antigone said.

If you are a supporter of His Excellency and his administration and goals – and this means you won’t buy my book or anything else I ever write – that is perfectly acceptable to me.

It doesn’t matter where you buy the book, the royalties will still come to me and get funneled to these organizations I want to support. Paperback, ebook, doesn’t matter.

AsteroidMadeOfDragons-finalfront cover hi-res jpegPurchase direct from my publisher. (Paperback and all ebook formats, DRM free.)

Purchase from my favorite independent bookstore: Avid Bookshop. (Or YOUR favorite independent bookstore!!!)

Amazon / Barnes & NobleiBooks

AMOD appears in BookBathBox!

bookbathbox-2

At last, I can talk about this! After months of secrecy I can finally blab and gush and turn into a small imp of excitement. This is quite honestly one of the most fun projects I’ve been able to work on with Asteroid Made of Dragons.

BookBathBox is a subscription box service filled to the brim with a panoply of delights constructed around an optimal experience for reading in the tub. Scents! Candy! Tea! And, shockingly for the Autumn box, my book.  The proprietor of the service, Winx, also runs a fantastic Booktube which I implore you to navigate to now. I sort of knew Booktube was a thing before this year – but never took the time to really investigate.  Holy crap it’s like Narnia – a Narnia of people quietly and pleasantly losing their minds about books and tea. The sort of people that would find me INCREDIBLY ANNOYING in real life – I could never interact with them in the wild. But here on YouTube, I can sit quietly and listen and imagine a life where we all sip tea together in a giant library. Just quiet slurpin’ and reading and sudden animated conversations about plot.

But how did all this happen? How did my mutant book find its way into the hands of such refined readers?

As I said, I only had the vague concept that Booktube was a thing – when a fellow author mentioned that they had spotted a review of their book on YouTube. In a FRENZY, I opened a tab and immediately searched my title and was blown away to discover a couple of reviews of AMOD. (Any of my Twitter followers may remember – I was, shall we say, elated.) The first one I found was from Winx & Ink. Normally, I keep a pretty hard policy of not commenting on reviews I find online – positive or negative. It’s not my place and it’s just this side of creepy – BUT I WAS SO EXCITED YOU GUYS. So, of course I commented on the video and gushed without reserve. Luckily I didn’t make it too weird- Winx and I became Twitter pals and all was well.

A few weeks later, she contacted me with the idea of using AMOD for the ‘Science of Fantasy’ themed Autumn box. Let’s be clear – she did ALL the work. I sent over some goodies and then she handled all the logistics, packaging, delivery – the alchemy of the box contents. I’m just left to watch in wonder -and awe as I get to watch the various reviews and unboxing videos pop up online. Like this!

or this!

or these!

It’s just wonderful and fun. And like many things that contain those adjectives I had almost nothing to do with it! Just sit back with a smile on my face and sip my imaginary tea.

Please go support Winx and Book Bath Box – you can still order the Winter Box, which is themed “Faeries in History” (AWWW SHIT) and I recommend that you do this immediately.