precipice (400)

lightning rattled the old tree on the clifftop, thunder crackling through the air in the worst weather she could have hoped to find. she set the vessel on the ground, hovering it several inches and creating a fire below. this was perfect weather; the conditions were more than ideal for this ritual. the gown she wore, hand-stitched dark blue with silver embroidery, whipped around her ankles, ferocious enough she worried it'd tear.

she held a hand out, steadying the sway of the wind just enough that the fire remained in its circle. (she'd learned from bitter experience it only took one spark, but the saving grace was the rain pounding down, blurring her vision that she could barely see)

now, she added the items to the vessel, hands working on autopilot. the words ran through her mind with the stilted ease of someone who has revised for a decade, mixing with the noise from the storm. it always got like this when she practiced, and she'd always been told it was a symbol of power, something to be proud of. it was why she came out here to the cliffs: there was no rule at all that she had to come to the edge of a cliff, no power boost to be added by coming out here in the midst of a storm, and certainly not in weather like this, but it was her preference.

none knew about the cliff, after all; therefore, none would come to the cliff and be curious. she'd claimed this space for her own at least ten years ago, tucking it behind the little house she'd built when the power of the location drew her there. sometimes, sailors came close to the cliffs, but always turned back away when the water became choppy, or the temperature dropped.

tonight, she swayed under the winds on the edge of the cliff, though shielded well enough to not get caught in the winds. the lightning crackled some more, bent now to her will as she twisted her power through her hands and burnt the tree, allowing it to take the worst of the backlash and manipulating the flames - they were almost blue at this point. this was her favourite part of her rituals, the aftermath when the forest had the scent of burned wood, carrying over to her cottage.

the storm broke and the ritual was finished.

 

Monday Books: Introducing Snapshots

I’m so proud and excited to announce that I’ve had a new poetry micro-chapbook accepted for publication by Broken Sleep Books!

Named Snapshots, it’s a collection of short vignettes about every-day life: the things you see when you pay attention, and some of the things you see when you’re only half paying attention. It’s sort of a throwback to my first chapbook, Tiny Moments, which in a similar vein illustrates short moments and catches them in time.

At the moment I don’t have a release date, but more details to come!

tales + believers + premonitions

they pass down their short
bits of wisdom, hard-earned through
learning and doing.
these tales act as lessons, hide
harsh truth in pretty cloaking.

 

they are believers.
what they know is true; if they
don't know it, then it
mustn't be true. and if they
don't know it, they never will.

 

they have, sometimes, odd
little premonitions. it
would spook them, but they
have their stories. they keep their
stories straight, written in stone.

Monday Book Review: A Trifle Dead

I’m really going to get back to reviewing cozy mysteries… I’ve said this before, a dozen times over, and this time I’m a bit more serious about it. I've so many on my virtual bookshelves and my Unread list spans... well, you know, the usual number.

This week, we're covering A Trifle Dead.

My summary: Tabitha is a 20-something who bakes blue muffins*, tries to wrangle the local police force into new cuisines, and gets pulled into a murder mystery.

Plot: Zips along like it's had a few too many of the coffees poured at Tabitha's cafe. She spends a good portion of her time concocting new recipes and culinary inventions, and the murder investigation tends to be information and places she stumbles across. There's no list-making brain-storming malarkey going on here. I'm not sure how much sleep these characters actually get, but it doesn't look or sound like much. A suitable mix of seriousness and frivolity happens. Layered well, like the titular trifle.

The murderer: Now I'm rereading the book, I have remembered who it was. First time I read the book, I didn't guess. I actually guessed wrong, which I like in a mystery. If the reader is guessing wrong then the author is doing something right in misdirection.

Characters: You get to know them bit-by-bit. Tabby, as the narrator, does tend to give you chunks of information about herself but they're digestible. Others around her are introduced and given life a little more slowly, but I find this method works. Comfortable. Eases you into it.

Cover and title: Each in the series has a food-pun, which I like. The covers themselves are simple, just one image which is a visual representation of the punny title.

I chucked out the Netflix scale, but this is a book you can put down and pick up a few times without really losing your place. I have read it maybe three times and remember bits and pieces of it well enough to be constructing this review.

Overall 4.1 stars. The murderer is a bit of a backgrounder, but not so much that they blend into the cafe's wall art. Food descriptions aren't just cake, which is good, and they're lingered over a little longer than in other cozies I've read. They don't take centre stage though, which is good. Random little threads of amusing anecdotes make this cozier to read, like you're stepping in to Tabby's life. She's not just going here, there and that other place: she's doing interesting wacky things that manage to not be OTT.

*not a euphemism

Food comparison: Ooh, tough one. A plate of good sushi that you select yourself, with a hot green tea. It's not wildly expensive, but good nonetheless.

the fixer-upper (300)

remove the curtains from the windows, scrub the glass until it turns to diamond - so finely etched you'd think it was done by laser. replenish the curtain, dye bleeding through water and polluting porous other fabrics.

this, they call it, is a beginning.

move on to the body now: sweep away the dull, dingy exterior. replace with deceitful outfittings, expensively-priced purchased at forgotten name-stores. collect whimsy in a dozen shades and try them all on, add them all to an online cart for overpriced delivery; deliberate first though, pretend to be unsure for charm's sake.

lay down your vision of this before you, blueprints and sketches colliding into one portfolio of how to create perfection in fifteen short steps.

(short is a lie; it was never going to be easy)

repair the surroundings, work over the view from every angle until satisfied. be aware ahead of time, satisfaction here is impossible to attain - there's always pretending. take five steps back and jump two ahead, take shortcuts and promise there's nothing dishonest in it. reassure yourself that the end result will be worthwhile; count every step and every distraction like they're gold.

(gold-plated, certainly; how else do you justify the expense?)

clamber through a forest and call it inspiring; rechange your mind a dozen times and say every last one of them is what you want. realize that it's true, you want all of them and there's never enough time in the day to take them all. collect them all anyway, recollect your sanity when the bills come in.

remember when they said it couldn't be done and it was. tell yourself it justifies the means, promise that something's going to be different from some point on.

rethink the whole thing; you always were a good liar.

Things I'm Doing

It’s been a while since I last posted, and an even longer time since I was really doing any of my creative work. Bit annoying, but I suppose when you’re trying to navigate a new relationship that fails in its early days and working in FMCG over the Christmas period, the creative stuff falls by the wayside.

So. Over the past month I taught myself basic crochet, and I’m planning to learn the more in-depth fancy stitches later. I learned how to make little circular face scrubbies, which I’m going to be selling on Etsy for the time being, and I’m planning to work on the knitting. My boss has hinted at commissioning me to crochet something, and so has a dear friend. Speaking of the Etsy, I’m going to be working on a scheme which marries up my two favourite things: literature and fibre arts. That is something I plan to unpack more of as time goes on and I develop it more.

I haven’t really written much new since about September, but I’m mapping out a plan or five to change that. The other night, I went on Facebook for the first time in forever and scanned through, cleaning up a lot of the crap and getting rid of the things I don’t really look at. It’s already vastly cut down on my email notifications.

For the next few weeks, I’m planning to improve this site. Clean it up, add links and probably my Instagram feed as well as store links. There’s a lot going on right now, and I’m still making plans and maps. Thus far, it’s proving to be a lot of fun. The book reviews are something else I want to pick up again, because I’ve had a lot of fun in the past thinking critically about the materials I’m reading, and I’d like to get back into using my brain to engage rather than just devour books.

Most importantly to me is that I’m working on getting back into writing.

simple (400)

everyone tells her this is going to be a simple way to do things: they tell her she has to shut off the technology that thrums under her fingers and it will bring relief. they think it will run down her thoughts, slow the energy that sparks through her veins when she gets a small electric shock off the keyboard.

stupid. doesn't she know better than to drink caffeine while typing? she sits and accepts the reprimands, chips at her nail polish as though admonishing herself and then has to touch it up.

drags another fingernail down the length of the desk where seam meets seam and she digs underneath that just a fraction. the seam is old, worn, and it's easy enough to chip away as she applies just the right amount of pressure.

everyone tells her this is going to be difficult, at first, she has to unlearn all the computer work she's ever done. they begin by suggesting that she throw away her old mobile, the one with the QWERTY keyboard that she uses for taking notes because she hates tapping painstaking words into a touch screen. texting is another matter, tapping each word as she goes with predictive mode always on. reluctant, she dismantles the phone and keeps the battery elsewhere - a box within a tray within a locker, really, but this way she still has some access.

she bends her neck and listens to all the criticisms, the raptures of her now technology-free predecessors. they call it unshackled, and the term runs around the world. it becomes the newest trend, and soon enough the unheard capital letter shows up. if she cocks her head just right she swears she can hear it, Unshackled, as though that's a desirable state.

people smile back at her when she listens to a bird singing, not realizing that she has the alternative. she's spent many a night memorizing music, and now she summons up a thousand songs to tune out the world. she's studied texts that are only online, packed it all away and retreats into her mind to "read" when it suits. sometimes she has a physical book for a prop and it works even better.

she's smart: realizes this is the only way people will accept her now. remaining shackled is undesirable, and she moves, takes all her technology to the countryside.

no-one knows - no-one minds.

weather + life + opaque

the weather has turned
nasty, driving rain sheeting
down over city
streets. below my boots, puddles
form, little rivers running.

 

it becomes habit
to prepare coffee or tea
in a travel flask,
still hot and ready to drink
no matter the conditions.

 

life is paused as rain
opaque in its heaviness
whips at the window.
later, the clouds clear and the
sun gleams harsh on glossy glass.

surface (400)

she dives into the water, the undisturbed pool barely rippling as she breaks the surface. it's cold, almost icy after the heat of the summer night. above her, the ceiling is tinted glass and she can see through to the stars if she stands in the right spot.

tonight there's a moon rising in the sky and she watches its path, tracks it as it moves into its final place. it's almost hypnotic watching how it moves slowly, and she turns away, dips back under water and sets her goggles firmly in place. the chlorine stings her nose, and she can tell the water is already logging into her ears.

she drifts under water, brushes her fingers along the surface of the floor and then uses that as her impetus to move up. be a phoenix, she tells herself, letting a lungful of air out in tiny increments as she pushes her body up, sends water flying everywhere explosively as she draws in new air. this time the water around her does ripple and she skims her fingers along the surface as it settles, drinks in the peace of it quietly swishing around her.

for a while she just floats along, sometimes rowing her arms to move or kicking her heels up just to see the water disturbed, alternates this with her phoenix-move and jumps from the pool, hurries back and forth a few times to write down new art ideas.

at the end of the night she swims hard, harder than normal just to see the water churn around her and feel the surface of the pool against her bones. this is her favourite part of the evening on a summer night, to block out the rest of the world around her: at this time of night she slips in earplugs to stop more water getting in, and considers the immersion to be a cleansing of sorts.

it's the time of night when she goes without disruption; the time when the world around her sleeps and her own personal bubble of space narrows down to a few square metres. when she leaves the pool she does so with a notepad gingerly wrapped in plastic, washes her hair over the bathroom sink so as to not wake her housemates and begins planning out.

(they never ask what's under her facade and she never tells them)