Five Minutes in Spring
Five minutes on a park bench
To catch sight of birds other than doves,
A walk along a tree-lined street
Instead of screen-staring upon a bus,
A pause between passing engines to
Actually hear the blackbird,
Lingering by a flowing fountain
To listen to the lovely gurgle,
A long gaze upon a hillside
Growing shades of green for grazing,
A halt, a hesitation, to inhale the
Heady horse chestnut scents;
Five minutes in spring, just five,
To remind us this here is life.
It’s been a busy few weeks here in Pamplona.
I’ve my children’s book, Peter and the Little People out today! You can get it here... https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/museitup/fantasy/peter-and-the-little-people-detail
As well as that, I’ve a novella under the name JD Martins, One Night in Boston, out tomorrow! You can get that here… http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Martins_JD/one-night-in-boston.htm
What with promoting these and my other books, and preparing a blogtour for One Night in Boston, as well as normal life stuff like end of school year, taking care of the kids and having a baptism, I’ve not had time to do much reading or writing, or getting a chunk of time to get out in the mountains.
But it’s vital to take just a few minutes as spring spins past to appreciate why we’re here, to pause to see just how fast life is flying by. Then get back to the kids and exam correcting, and the edits of the book you swore would be done by Christmas…
Today I have the great pleasure of having Janie Franz, a multi-published author who’s written all kinds of books and is known for her strong women characters. She has several series published by Muse It Up Publishing where we share an editor.
She’s eager to share an excerpt from her new novel, Coda, which is Book 3 of The Lost Song Trilogy and Book 6 of the Bowdancer series…
Tell us what’s happening in this excerpt, please Janie…
Jan-nell, her son, Chandro and Bekar from the sisterhood, and the virile sword dancers discover dark secrets about the women on the mountain as they bring the lost sisters home. During the journey, Jan-nell’s growing attachment to Bekar is tested as Bekar discovers the joys of having men in her life.
Jan-nell raced toward the boulders on the cliff above the dyemaker’s encampment where her sister-kin supported a young girl between them, guiding her carefully down the treacherous rocks toward their fire. The girl’s bright yellow dress bulged around her belly, straining the fabric.
“She is about to bear a babe?” Jan-nell asked, placing her hand on the girl’s roundness. “Is this your first?” Raising her face to look at the young mother, Jan-nell gasped. She stared at her sister-kin Chandro, who had wrapped her arm around the girl, held her right hand, and watched the ground and the girl’s bare feet, as they moved.
There was the same oval-shaped face, the same light brown eyes, the same copper curls. But the young mother was only perhaps sixteen summers and kept her curls long, falling far down her back, not in the curly cap Chandro wore. The girl could have been her little sister.
Though appearing strong in the leather vest and wide-legged short breeches of the sisterhood, Chandro the trackfinder appeared stunned and frightened. She whispered assurances to the girl as they came farther into the light of the fire.
The girl cried out as Jan-nell felt her belly tighten underneath her hand. She made Chandro and master hunter Bekar stop while she placed her hands on each side of the bulge and looked deep into the girl’s eyes. “Take a deep breath, filling the belly. Like this.” She showed her. “Now let it out slowly for as long as you can. Concentrate only on releasing the breath.” Usually, one long breath was enough to breathe through an episode. But because the girl was so frightened, Jan-nell had her breathe again to calm her and make sure she had learned the practice.
“You did well.” Jan-nell smiled. “There is a place for you to rest over here. We will make you tea and some broth… How are you called?”
The girl stammered out, “Wila.”
Jan-nell tried out the new name. “Wila.” Then she smiled again. “We will take good care of you and your babe.” She pointed to a sheltered spot where a coarse blanket stretched between two boulders and was held in place by large rocks. Jan-nell’s son, Bearin, and the beastmaster, Shadu, had made the shelter for her to rest during the heat of the day. When she had spread her own blanket and laid her head upon her travel pack earlier, she had no idea it would become a birthing chamber.
Night had fallen quickly on the plateau where the travelers made their camp. The fire gave out a welcome glow, and one of the burning branches would provide a torch if Jan-nell needed one to guide her when the birthing occurred.
Chandro and Bekar helped Wila sit on the blanket under the canopy while Jan-nell moved her travel pack out of the away. She would need the healing wares within it as the night progressed. She turned to the trackfinder. “Could we use your pack for a pillow for Wila?”
Chandro nodded as if in disturbed thought before she moved to fetch her pack.
“Bekar, make the girl comfortable,” Jan-nell said then took two steps toward the trackfinder. She hooked her arm around Chandro’s elbow, whispering as she walked with her away from the girl. “How fare you?” Jan-nell searched her face, which still was a mix of emotions, but fear and horror were the most pronounced. Chandro had seen something.
Jan-nell guided her sister-kin toward the dark-skinned sword dancer Farik who frowned as he listened to his sword brother Mali’s report of what had happened in the dyemakers’ camp. Mali was still dressed only in the black silk loin cloth he donned to climb the rocks without hindrance when he and Chandro had gone after Bekar.
Farik turned at the women’s approach. He stepped to meet Chandro, immediately drawing her into his arms.
“I think she is in shock,” Jan-nell said. “Get her off her feet and hold her close. Heal her with the Ashay, the spirit within. If she starts to shake like she is cold, cover her with a blanket even in this heat and give her some tea.”
She turned to Mali, her foster-father. He looked weary in the fire’s glow and much older than she. “Take Chandro’s pack to the girl. It will be her pillow.”
“I will fetch it,” he said, frowning at the young mother who still sat on the blanket beside Bekar who had not moved. “But the girl will not let me near her.”
Jan-nell nodded. “I thought as much. That was why the women supported her, and you did not help.” Her forehead wrinkled in worry over Bekar who just sat with a hand on the young girl’s arm but did not even look at her. “I will take it to the girl and make her comfortable.” Returning her attention to Mali, she asked. “Are you well?”
He nodded grimly. “But what I have seen will haunt me all my days.”
About Janie Franz
Janie Franz comes from a long line of Southern liars and storytellers. She told other people’s stories as a freelance journalist for many years. With Texas wedding DJ, Bill Cox, she co-wrote The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book and The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book, and then self-published a writing manual, Freelance Writing: It’s a Business, Stupid! She also published an online music publication, was an agent/publicist for a groove/funk band, a radio announcer, and a yoga/relaxation instructor.
Currently, she is writing her twelfth novel and a self-help book, Starting Over: Becoming a Woman of Power.
- Today I’m delighted to be able to welcome a fellow Tirgearr Publishing Author, Christy Jackson Nicholas, author of Legacy of Hunger and the upcoming Legacy of Truth. She’s a bit of an expert on Ireland, having penned a travel guide – she’d know how to find Ballyboy Beach, I’m sure.
- Tell us a bit more about yourself, Christy. Where are you from?
That’s not an easy answer. I was conceived in England, born in Denmark, lived in Dearborn, Michigan until I was 8, and then south Florida until about 15 years ago. Since then I’ve lived in north Florida, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. I guess I’m a bit of a gypsy at heart!
- Tell us about the setting of your book. Why did that place speak to you?
The book, Legacy of Hunger, is set in 1846. The main characters start out in Pennsylvania, and then travel to Ireland in the midst of the Great Hunger, commonly referred to as the Potato Famine. Ireland is my soul’s home, my ‘anam bhaile’. The first time I visited, almost 20 years ago, I felt immediately at home. I’ve been five times now, and will retire there some day. The magic of the land and the people have something integral within them that I must share with others. The novel is set in several of my favorite places – Ardara, in County Donegal, Achill Island, and Kenmare in County Cork.
- What do you like least about writing?
The editing process, hands down. I love planning portion, and writing the first draft. I hate the part that comes after – endless editing, changing, shifting, improving, refining. I think because it’s more of an organic process to me than writing it is. I am very methodical in my writing – plan everything out, write scene by scene in order, etc. I can change my plan as I go along, and I frequently do, but still push on bit by bit. After that, it’s all rather nebulous.
- Name a few titles I’d find if I browsed through your personal library.
I love fantasy and science fiction, so Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Diana Gabaldon, are all big favorites. I love historical fiction as well – Sharon Kay Penman, Elizabeth Chadwick, Edward Rutherfurd.
- What inspired you to write in the first place?
Actually, finding my father after searching for him for fifteen years inspired me. He never knew I existed, and when I finally found him, he and my mother got together and got married for the first time. I knew that had to be a love story – so I wrote my first novel. It was addicting.
- Was there much research involved?
A lot more than I thought there would be! Since the novel is set in 1846, there are many small things that I simply didn’t know, such as what sort of foods would the locals be eating other than potatoes? How would one travel from Pittsburgh to New York, since the railroads weren’t that far west? Or across the ocean – the first steam ships were just being used at that point. I found myself writing about the funicular train and boat system on the Juniata River in Pennsylvania, near Hollidaysburg and Johnstown. After the book was finished, I then got a new job and moved to that area, completely by coincidence.
- Tell us about your next project.
I’ve already written the first drafts of two more books, prequels to Legacy of Hunger. There will be a trilogy, if all goes well! Legacy of Truth and Legacy of Luck.
- It’s great to see that the first of those is well on track. Thanks for coming by, Christy.
Grandmamma’s brooch haunted Valentia’s dreams.
Even as she relaxed at afternoon tea with her mother, the lace doily reminded her of the delicate intertwining design of the brooch. That, in turn, reminded her of the task she had resolved her mind upon.
She was tired of always settling for the smallest bits of whatever was good in life. Perhaps it was time to take larger chunks.
Valentia’s corset pinched as she leaned towards the tea tray, reaching for a large cake on the upper tier.
“Control yourself, Valentia, or you’ll end up looking like one of those Pittsburgh steel workers.” Majesta McDowell was always aware of the proprieties. From the servant’s area, one of the maids sniggered.
With an unladylike grimace at her mother, Valentia reached for a much smaller piece when she heard shouts. This wasn’t the normal sound of a foreman yelling at his workers.
This was panic.
Several other patrons stood to look out the plate glass window of the café. Though she was tall for a woman, all Valentia could see were the backs of strangers, and an occasional glimpse of someone running in the street.
Then there came a sharp crack, followed by a muffled explosion. Clouds of dust billowed, and Valentia fought her rising dread.
People in the café jammed the door, trying to escape.
Valentia, her mother, and their maids, Sarah and Maggie, pushed out of the stifling building. Panicked voices screamed amid crashes, all from a street not far away, in the direction of the Monongahela House Hotel.
Which was where they had been staying.
Her mind raced in panic, her stomach was a solid knot. Trying to make sense of the chaos, she looked the maids and her mother. She was transfixed, staring at the looming threat.
A threatening column of black, oily smoke billowed from the riverside, a searing blanket of menace. The smell of burning wood filled the air.
A church bell tolled. She must quell her terror and take charge.
“Mother, this way!” Valentia tugged on her mother’s arm to break the spell she was under, and pulled her away from the hotel.
My name is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. I do many things, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing and photography. In real life I’m a CPA, but having grown up with art and around me (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected me, as it were. I love to draw and to create things. It’s more of an obsession than a hobby. I like looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or a fragrant blossom, a dramatic seaside. I then wish to take a picture or create a piece of jewelry to share this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus I write. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. I do local art and craft shows, as well as sending my art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.
God made His world in seven days; it takes most authors a lot longer than that.
I’m not saying this because I swore I’d have the two sequels to Leaving the Pack ready for submission this week and I find myself unable to even get enough sleep.
I find myself a bit bemused about this whole George RR Martin Game of Thrones furor about the delay of Winds of Winter.
Perhaps it’s just me; I find myself bemused by lots of the things people get upset about on the Internet.
But what has happened to people’s patience?
I know we are creating a generation of impatient people raised on fast food and instant information. But we’re talking about readers. Readers of fantasy novels, the longest books ever, often with many books, which take years to read never mind write. If they can’t chill out and wait until the books hit the shelves, who can?
I have yet to see Game of Thrones. Not because I’m unconvinced it’s a kick-ass TV show. I am. I can’t wait to start watching it.
Except, of course, I can.
I am waiting.
I have the first three books in the series on my shelf. I haven’t read them yet. Don’t plan to for a while. I’m in no rush. I have a few years of reading material sitting beside those books, so I’m not stuck just yet.
Nevertheless, you’d swear there was no other book left to read in the universe from the clamour raised upon the news the new book will be delayed. Seriously, there are lots of other things to read. Go catch up on the classics. Or go read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. That’ll keep you busy for a year. And there are other TV shows to keep your eyes busy, too.
I know, I know. You’re in the middle of the series. You need to know what happens next.
When I was a teen I found The Clan of the Cave Bear in my local library. I was hooked. I took out the next two books straight after. I read on the back covers that they were part of a six-book series, called Earth’s Children. I was confused; t was a trilogy, surely. Then one day a year or so later I saw The Plains of Passage in a bookshop. I bought it straight away – well, I asked my mother to, since I was fifteen and it cost twenty quid.
Then I waited.
And boy, I waited.
For the first time, in my twenties, I looked up an author on the Internet to see what the hell was going on; where the next book, or was there a sign it was coming out. I was worried JM Auel was going to die before she finished the next two books. The last in the series, The Land of Painted Caves only came out in 2011. I’d waited twenty years to complete the saga. It took Auel thirty years to write them. But they were worth it.
Who’s the slowest writer of them all? GRR Martin and JM Auel
Photos from Nick Briggs/HBO via http://www.wired.com/2016/01/george-rr-martin-game-of-thrones/ and delibrossetrata.blogspot.com
It would have been great to find all the books completed, like we did The Lord of the Rings when we were kids (or The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant). But them’s the breaks.
That’s why I’m waiting, so I can go start to finish.
Since it became possible to binge on TV series, it’s become better (for me anyway) to wait until the last episode airs, and your mates have said it’s worth the watch. Then you just go through the whole thing.
I did this with Mad Men, last year, and with Breaking Bad before that. I was planning on doing it with Lost, but skipped that. I bought my bother the box set of season one on the strength of the recommendations it got, then never bothered to borrow it when the sixth season ended to bad reviews. I’ll never watch it.
So I’ll stick to the other books on my to-be-read list for now, watch The Shield, when I get a chance to watch anything with a new-born in the house and a pile of things on my to-be-written list.
And I’ll continue to ignore people talking about what happens in the series the same way I ignore people talking about the Kardasihains and their ilk on the Internet.
And when George RR Martin is good and ready to put out the last book in the series, I’ll start reading and once I’ve read it, I’ll get the box sets from someone and sit down in front of my telly for a marathon. By then I’ll probably be retired and have loads of time.
Fall to Forest Floor
When golden leaves strew the ground,
When wind turns swirling, frisking clothes and shoulders,
Then the deer seek company in copses,
And the wolf inside awakens, opening equally amber eyes.
copyright EmoRobotics (http://emorobotics.deviantart.com/)
Back to writing second drafts of my werewolf novel sequels as November rolls on into winter… don’t seem in too bad shape so far.
So I’m working on edits to my novel, Peter and the Little People. This will be my seventh published book, none of them seem to be in the same genre – this one way different to the rest; my first children’s novel. I think it might be my last children’s novel. At least, I assumed it would be when I wrote it. The idea seemed perfect for a children’s book, but whether I am a children’s novel writer, I am not at all sure. I wish I could put my books in a handy category, but I can’t yet. Only the characters’ awareness, and love, of the natural world around them unites these very different stories. In that, they are all my children.
I also assumed I’d never write another young adult book when I finished The Soul of Adam Short, but I’m in the middle of writing another one now. I got the idea for a new one when I watched the profusion of gorse fires across Ireland last April, and it seemed an issue that teenagers might be likely to tackle rather than shake their heads and get on with their day.
Readers will know I’ve pledged to donate 10% of my royalties to WWF, the World Wildlife Fund. For Peter and the Little People, I also plan to give a further 10% to IWT, the Irish Wildlife Trust, which advocates for wildlife on the island of Ireland, and whose work Peter, and the Little People, would most certainly support. The Little People remember the animals with which we once shared our island, and are dismayed when Peter tells them they’re gone from every corner of it.
I don’t want to reveal too much about the story, but it is for kids and as long as you promise not to tell them before they get a chance to read it, I can tell you that there is a happy ending which is open to a sequel – which I never envisioned until my editor mentioned she’d like to see how Peter grew up.
Instead of the work to rewild Ireland, and return those missing species to it, for the benefit of the ecosystem, the delight of the Little People, Peter, Gemma and all the rest of us, which I might have the pleasure of writing about, it seems that some humans are not quite finished exterminating as much wildlife as they can.
Our native red deer of Killarney National Park, one of the very few symbols we have of wild Ireland, of the wildlife people come to Ireland to see, the image of which was put on our Punt coins when we had our own currency, are under attack from a group of Kerry politicians.
They are calling for a cull of an already tiny population for dubious reasons, and just yesterday, the IWT released a press-release describing how this is an indication of a move to treat wildlife as vermin, to depreciate their value and blame them for any perceived problems we may encounter with them. (http://www.iwt.ie/press-release-deer-culls-symptomatic-of-increased-verminisation-of-our-wildlife)
Photo: By Ken Billington (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
One Kerry senator has since declared that just the sika (an introduced species that is found in more parts of Ireland now than the native – and park escaped – red deer) should be culled, despite the fact that no evidence exists that the deer have caused any problems, and the fact that these deer are harvested every year both inside and outside the Killarney National Park. He also wants to fence in a section of the national park to restrict deer movement across a road that traverses the park, rather than ask motorists to cease speeding along that section.
How can we hope to rewild our island when this level of hatred of wildlife exists among our elected officials, when our representatives are so ignorant of the realities of wild animals, and are absolutely unwilling to give an inch in any real or perceived conflict, but instead prefer to bulldoze the wildlife out of the way. How can any children’s book have a happy ending when they are so willing to make vanish from our land the very things that children love – the wild animals and plants that we all know make life so much more worth living than any book we can read them or give them for Christmas, or any video game or toy they could get either.
If Peter does grow up under the tutelage of the Little People, I can see him becoming a very angry young man…
I’m being hosted on Romance Readers Club today, with an excerpt of my second novel, Five Days on Ballyboy Beach.
you can leave comments on the excerpt at the website.
Here’s the link…
Ever wonder what it would be like to have your soul ripped from your body? Adam Short knows.
Does anyone else know, though?
We might have an idea.
I still clearly remember when I got the idea for The Soul of Adam Short. It was almost exactly fifteen years ago – I typed up the first note on October second, year Two-Thousand. I was standing at a junction much like the Mosley Road of the book, having paused my bike. I stopped because I was sure a car was coming down the street, but when I looked more carefully there was nothing. It was a very strange feeling.
I cycled on, wondering what had happened, and wondering what would happen if a ghost car “knocked you down.” Could the spirit of the vehicle and its driver interact with your own sprit, your soul?
Once that situation of a character losing his or her soul occurred to me, the rest of the story took rough shape and I knew it was a tale for Young Adults, even though until then I’d written “adult.” books. The characters had to be teens. Lots of adults cycle – I still do, every day – but the symptoms of such an event would be more likely accepted as just a brain malfunction in a middle-aged person. (Yes, I consider myself middle-aged – doesn’t mean I am old, just I’m halfway through what I expect to attain, barring accidents… everyone older than me is OLD.)
And only teens would have the tenacity to go against the grain of what’s considered okay, the accepted wisdom, the proper thing to do. Some of us adults still have a little of that left, but not enough. Most of us are afraid of what “others might think” A look at the world today can show that fairly clearly. Unfortunately many teens think they’re not capable of acting on their own. They’ve been told they were toddlers that they’re too small to do things, it’s too dangerous to climb the tree, to walk home alone from school half the time.
One lesson Adam Short learns, is that life is as short as his name, that it can fly by in a heartbeat if you’re not paying attention, and the future is not something to be feared, but embraced; because it doesn’t matter, in the end, what your parents or neighbours think of your life choices. Everyone ends up before they’re quite ready, either sitting by the side of Mosley Road, or attending their own funeral, and it can happen in a heartbeat if you’re not ready. But being aware of it, it loses its scariness – and you can appreciate the little things that make a life worth living( some of which Adam loses and some he discovers), and step up to do the things that make a life great.
If we don’t at least try, well, we may as well have no soul.