Monthly Archives: October 2014

More from my recently finished novel.

Keira became aware of Haven’s labored breath. “Slow down, Keira,” she panted. “You know I can’t go that fast. Besides, we’re here.” Keira skidded to a stop. Haven was right. The green grass of the yard stretched before them, its sweet scent floating up to them on the breeze. The whole population was gathered into the auditorium and people spilled up the steps into the park. Her stomach felt like she had eaten a rock. It had to be about the marriage games. She felt Haven’s hand in hers and her stomach lightened a little. “That’s right,” she said more to herself than to Haven. “I’m just here as a formality.” Haven gave her hand a squeeze then slipped off to a group of friends nearby. So much for the calming presence thought Keira. She moved through the crowds of people slowly, staying hidden among the throng. The urgent push was gone now. Her mother and Shamus knew she was here and that was enough. Keira preferred to observe unnoticed.

Shamus stood up on the stage and a wave of quiet washed over the yard. “My friends, my family – well met on this day.”

“Well met,” the crowd chorused back. It was the traditional greeting among them.

“As you all know, the spring is here. A time of new beginnings for all of nature, including us,” began Shamus. It was the marriage games speech. All of them had heard it many times. Keira let Shamus’ voice trail away as she moved from group to group. Her eyes settled on one particular group wh were plainly more excited than the rest. The 18-year-olds. These were girls and boys from her class. Keira had no desire to stand with them now as they giggled and jostled each other, and sent blushing glances between them. “But this year is different, because this year we are reminded not only of beginnings but of ends as well. My niece’s birthday has just passed,” he said.

The crowd returned his statement with absolute attentiveness. Keira’s attention returned full-fold to the stage. She drew back and took a few steps to the left, then paused helplessly. She wanted to melt into the crowd but was afraid to move. “A very special birthday it is. The first year she is eligible for the marriage games,” Shamus continued. The crowd was silent. There was none of the customary applause. “But of course, she ws never meant for the games, not truly. My niece has a differetn path laid before her. One, though it has assumed twists and turns unforseen, has remained hers. And soon that path will take her to unfamiliar territory.”

The words ‘unfamiliar territory’ repeated in Keira’s mind. What was Shamus talking about? This was the part he was supposed to announce her exemption from the games.

“Keira,” he said. Shamus looked directly at her when he said her name. So much for her attempted invisibility. She had thought herself unnoticed by the crowd, but at Shamus’ summons a path opened for her to the stage as though they had all known just where she was. Of course they hadn’t. It was just the present connection with Shamus that allowed them to work together so well. Even so, no one in the crowd expected what Shamus said next.

“My dear Keira,” he said, extending a hand himself to help her to the stage. “For so long we throught your beginning was taken from us. But I have seen the next leg of your path, child.” He turned away from her and back to the crowd. Keira looked at her mother standing on the right of the platform, but there was nothing to read there. She looked out over the crowd, her face a complacent mask.

“Connor,” Shamus’s voice boomed out. “Killian.” “Brynn.” He continued on as the three approaced the stage. “Keira will not travel her path alone,” he said and paused. Then in a matter-of-fact tone that seemed to knock all the dramatics he’d worked up to this point flat on the ground he delivered his real announcement.

“Two sunrises,” he said holding up two fingers. “You three will accompany Keira to meet her cousin and negotiate for Collin’s return.”

A gasp came from the crowd. Even the three in front widened their eyes in surprise. Keira could feel her mouth hanging open. Shamus turned back t oher. He placed his hand under her chin. It was gentle as he lifted her her chin and left his hand to rest on her cheek. His eyes burned with light as he spoke, the amber color glowing bright.

“And when you return he will be at your side. This I have seen, child.” Shamus turned again to the crowd. “As it is written, we shall see the great beginning of a mighty pairing and reap prosperity and power for our people.”

His voice had resen during the last and the crowd went up in shouts and celebration. Finally Shamus lifted his arm and the people quieted again. Keira’s eyes strayed to her group of classmates. It was clear from their expectant faces they were waiting to hear how this would affect their own immediate future and the marriage games. But Shamus only iterated the parting, “Well met and well met again,” before turning and leaving the stage. As soon as his feet were fully on the first step a thunder of voices rose up from the crowd.

The sound was deafening. Keira stood in the same spot. Some part of her brain realized that the voices had turned into applause. Did they not realize what this meant? Had they not heard Shamus? What were they applauding? It was a death sentence.

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Things I’ve Learned.

I am 32 years old. I have been married and divorced, through military training, and earned a four-year degree. I have two children, two jobs, and am sole manager of my household. So it is from a position of experience, when I say with confidence, that I am no expert at all. There is only one real idea that can hold up and that is that things change, things and people. because as our environments change, we change. We adapt to new surroundings. We adopt new views.
The order of our priorities shift. What beliefs we hold steadfast to in our twenties are not all going to be the same in our thirties. We will learn, each according to his or her own experiences, and we will change. Not all of the changes will be better, not all of the changes will be bad ones.

Because of this it is true that the odds of answering the question “what do you know” the same way twice are slim. So I prefer to phrase it as “what I know now.” So here are just a few things I’ve come to know. Maybe in six months I’ll answer the question here again just to see how I’ve changed.

1) Time moves at a consistent steady pace. It never speeds up, it never slows down. It is only our perception, colored by how eager, nervous, or terrified we are that makes it appear to do either.

2) Time seems to go by faster as we get older because our lives become future-oriented. When we are young we are concerned with the now, content to remain in the space and time of our immediate surroundings. But future deadlines, meetings, and the responsibility of pre-planned activities keeps us looking always ahead on the calendar, and we barely notice, let alone fully experience, the now.

3) I am special, I am unique; but I do not deserve praise just for getting out of bed and showing up. Recognition should be reserved for the people who take their snowflake qualities and make snowballs, or snowmen, or ice castles.

4) Be who you are. I mean really, just be who you are. Pretending to be someone else will not make you happy. It will not make those around you happy. Such falseness will become an impenetrable barrier between you and your happy.

5) You must make your own choices. No one will ever know yourself better than you do.

6) You will make mistakes. You will make lots of mistakes. You will torture yourself over them, berate yourself over them, cry, deny them, hide them, run away from them. You might even punch some of them. But you will live through them.

7) Go ahead and cry. Sob like a baby and rail at the heavens. Sink to your knees. Barricade yourself in your house and sing along to every song that even remotely describes how you feel. Then wipe your eyes, take a shower, drink some coffee and go on with your life.

8) You can eat the cupcake. Your welcome.

9) Really. Go ahead and eat the damn cupcake.

10) Say it. Whatever it is, to whoever you need to say it to. Because embarrassment is temporary, you really might not get another chance, and regrets suck.

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Excerpt from my recently finished novel.

Chapter 1

I stood by myself on the playground, pretending to be interested in the rocks I dug my sneakers in. The group of girls was just far enough away I couldn’t turn their whispered sounds into words, but their glances and louder giggles convinced me of what I already knew. They were laughing at me.

I kicked at the rocks. I wanted to pick the rocks up, throw them at the girls. I imagined the weight in my hand; let my eyes follow the arc the rock would make till they settled on the head of the tallest girl. Our eyes met and she shifted uneasily. Her voice was louder now. “Come on girls. We’re being watched.”She spoke with the authority of one used to being obeyed. But even as she turned her back on me her eyes were wide and wary. I dropped my eyes to the rocks. I didn’t want them to be afraid of me.

“Keira?”

I glanced up at the sound of my name. His too long hair fell partially over his eyes and he looked at me through this fringe, his mouth turned up ever so slightly at the corners in a soft smile of encouragement. His outstretched hand held a flower – a weed actually – small and white. It was beautiful in its simplicity and it all melted away. There was no laughter, no fearful faces and I smiled back at him as I reached for the flower.

“Hi -”

I was transported from the dream to waking with a suddenness that left me gasping for breath – as though someone had pressed violently on my chest while I lay sleeping. There was no one there of course. It was the same every time. Before I could say his name I would wake in the same fashion every time, since I was a small girl. Who was he?

But I knew who he was. It was the one I was spoken for – the one stolen from us in infancy. The one whose name my soul seemed to know but my mind did not. My missing groom.  I shook myself and the blanket slipped from my shoulders and fell in a soft heap around my waist. No thank you. Let them keep him. Marriage was not on my to-do list.

Keira kicked off the covers and sat up. “Get out of my head,” she said aloud, then looked around quickly. The room was empty. She stood up and stretched, rolling her shoulders and shaking out her arms and legs. This mystery man she was supposed to be fated for was the last person she wanted to think about. Unfortunately her 18th birthday was in three days and the meant-to-be union seemed to be all anyone wanted to talk about. Not directly, of course. Everyone knew how against even the thought of marriage Keira was. But she caught them whispering and staring when they thought she wasn’t looking. And it had really begun to annoy her. But, he was gone – spirited away by her aunt and cousin, be-spelled for life. “Hah,” she said aloud and splashed water on her face. That settled the matter. If he was lost, and she was fated for him, then she would never have to marry.
She felt another consciousness in the room with her. It came slowly sliding across the floor and creeped over her, like a blanket being pulled up around her. She stood still, pretending to survey her face in the mirror, drying her hands on the towel and waited for it to connect fully with her. Keira fought back a smile. Her younger sister, Haven. Keira turned on her heel suddenly and sped across the room. She could move faster than else in the coven when she wanted to. Throwing wide the partially closed bathroom door she exposed Haven standing in the open space of the bedroom. Haven squeaked. “How do you always catch me?” she pouted. Keira opened her mouth to speak, and hesitated. Haven really had been working so hard on her studies lately. The girl was just no good at cloaking.

“Don’t worry about it, Haven,” she said instead. “We’re sisters. I couldn’t miss you if I tried.” Haven smiled up at her. The twelve-year-old was as blonde as Keira was dark and when she smiled like this she really did look just like a haven – like around her no evil thing would dare to linger for fear of being struck blind by her light and rendered impotent by calm grace. And it was mostly true. Just a few minutes in Haven’s presence and one couldn’t help feeling at peace with whatever may have been bothering them. And it didn’t hurt that Haven thought Keira was the most awesome witch she knew. Keira laughed and hugged Haven. Haven’s smooth brow wrinkled slightly as she pulled away from Keira.

“You’re missing Shamus though. He wants to see you in the yard. There’s already a group gathered,” Haven told her. That must have been what woke her, Keira thought. She really didn’t want to go. There was only one thing he would be giving a speech about today. But maybe Shamus would declare the obvious. Maybe that was why he was insistent on her being there. He wanted to be sure everyone knew that Keira would be excluded from this year’s marriage games. She sighed. Whatever he had to say she had to go. No one ignored a summons from Shamus. He was their head, both over the coven and the city, which was really one and the same. Shamus was also her uncle. Keira felt a sudden sense of urgency, an outside push that was not her own. She groaned out loud and shared a look with her little sister.

“Mom,” they said in unison. Giggling they ran outside and through the streets to the city center, the yard as it was known. Keira kept pace with Haven, who couldn’t move near as fast. The ‘yard’ was in the center of the city. A stone amphitheatre surrounded on all sides by green grass. Because of their mother’s status as healer their house was near the city center. It wasn’t the largest house and nearly every inch of it was taken up with various bottles and vials, hanging herbs and potted plants. But it was one of the oldest and most beautiful with woodwork inside and out lovingly hand carved decades before any of them ever set foot inside of it. It was purposefully carved too. At an early age the girls had learned that each carved notch represented a different spell, mostly protection and peace spells to keep those who inhabited the house safe from harm and filled with calm. A home built for a healer and it served their mother well in her work. It was said the house protected Keira, then a swaddled infant tucked deep in its center-most room, when her aunt rebelled all those years ago.

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Floating

Smile. You are further ahead today than you were yesterday. Even if you did not a single thing to move forward, it’s true. Because we can never truly sit still, time always moves us on. So even if all you did was float along on the seconds and minutes of the day, you are further ahead than you were yesterday. Don’t worry if you didn’t accomplish anything noteworthy, if you didn’t make any great strides toward your ultimate goals. Because soon, the silent pools will turn into rapids. And then you’ll pull up your rested strength. You will be prepared to not just ride the rapids, but to navigate them. When you come to a fork you, not the current, will decide which way you go. And if you should reach a waterfall, it will be your stroke that launches you through the air and the spray to a new situation. So it’s okay to float today. Because tomorrow, well, tomorrow you’re going to make this river your bitch. 😉

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Life is good

Sometimes…it’s just a matter of taking a step back, observing where you are at that moment, and accepting. Accepting that, in that moment, life is good. Enjoy the place you are at, the people you are with, the moment you are in. Ignore the big picture, the pressure, the impending whatever and accept where you are. You might find that though there is a whole world on your shoulders, waiting for you to bow, waiting for you to address it, this moment – THIS moment – is good. Let it be good. Feel it, absorb it. Because you need them, the good moments. For this instance , let it be good. It is what it is; and RIGHT now – is right now. Let the good be good. The rest will be there for you to deal with later . That’s guaranteed.

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