"All You Have to Do Is Buy the Book"

a video blog - about plenilune, no less!

Comment below or email me if you want to participate in the release-date announcement and/or the blog tour I will be putting together for Plenilune!

Have questions you want me to answer about Plenilune & Co.? Add them to the comments as well for future vlog fodder!

After That It Was All Nouns & Verbs Till Lunchtime

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"Whom not who, your Highness," said Doctor Cornelius.  "Perhaps it is time to turn from History to Grammar."

You have all heard, no doubt, that you need to learn the rules before you can break them.  In large measure that is true.  In my case, I simply buried the rules so deep inside my subconscious that I can no longer access them, and I went on my merry way.  If I happen to come across a particularly egregious piece of writing, I'll recognize that it is badly done up and I'll probably tell my husband and my cats how it ought to be done, because I have the rules deep down inside me; but on a day-to-day basis, if you made diagramming a sentence a matter of life or death, I would die.

"It is high time we turned to Grammar now," said Doctor Cornelius in a loud voice.  "Will your Royal Highness be pleased to open Pulverulentus Siccus at the fourth page of his Grammatical garden or the Arbour of Accidence pleasantlie open'd to Tender Wits?"

I was taught grammar.  And taught it and taught it and taught it.  I did not enjoy it, nor was I any good at it.  For some reason I have always been very behindhand in learning the mechanics of any language, including my own.  It is simply not in my nature to pick up on the concrete rules applied to the most mongrel of languages, English - and put that way, can one blame me...?  But I was taught it, and presumably something went in because people tell me that I speak more clearly than others (when I can adequately compose my thoughts), and that I am not a bad writer.  The foundation stones, although now invisible, were properly laid by my varying tutors in my youth, and they stand me in good stead today.

The face of the strange boy was very grubby.  It could hardly have been grubbier if he had first rubbed his hands in the earth, and then had a good cry, and then dried his face with his hands.  As a matter of fact, this was very nearly what he had been doing.

One advantage to the English language is that it is horrendously mongrel, and once you have got a basic handle on the few laws that seem to apply more often than not, your own voice and imagination may proceed to bend the rest of the pliable English tongue to your will.  And the deliciously vindictive part of it all is that English is so bent and twisted and mongrel and plays so readily with one's wits that anyone trying to squeeze you into a dubious parameter of grammar is likely to find you arguing your way out of the henhouse.  In fact, the better you are at the rules, the better you can argue your way out of them.

Take C.S. Lewis, for example.  The above quote, from The Magician's Nephew, was read aloud to me by my husband the other evening, as he had picked up the story again and was working through it.  I instantly pounced on those few sentences.  How many editors today would not be all over that passage ripping it to shreds?  Show, don't tell!  Why on earth are you posing a possible scenario and then in the next instant telling us that is very nearly what did happen?  Absolutely rubbish.  Terrible construction.  Off with its head.  But Lewis was an excellent grammarian, and knew exactly what he was doing.  That passage perfectly suits the tongue-in-cheek style of his Narnian fictions (in which he himself interjects on numerous occasions), and the reader finds it absolutely delightful.  It is good storytelling.  The grammar itself is perfectly sound, and in the context it actually transitions the reader's attention from the girl Polly to the boy Digory.  In breaking the rules (or at least bending them) Lewis contrives to build an even stronger narrative.
you can do anything, provided you do it well
The longer I live (and I'm only twenty-three and a half years old), the more this seems true.  I have not read any of The Hunger Games novels, but I understand them to be written in the first person present, which is unusual.  But I also understand it to work magnificently for the delivery of the plot: both Katniss and the reader have absolutely no idea what is coming, and the impact of the plot is doubled by that "living in the moment" feeling provided by writing in the first person present tense.  Now, I know this style has since become popular, but whenever I see it I often feel it is just a copycat trend.  It was necessary for The Hunger Games, but usually falls flat and hollow wherever else I meet it, because many other plots do not have the natural momentum of something like The Hunger Games to give it strength and dimension, the kind of strength and dimension silently provided by the past tense in most literature.  

But you can do just about anything, provided you know how to do it.  If you can make it work - and make it work magnificently - who is going to argue? 
master the English language, don't let it master you 

"So That I May Not Appear As Uneducated Compared To Jane Fairfax"

My husband and I were talking last night about a list he had read of books which have been written in and heavily influenced the Western world, and which the list-maker suggested every man ought to have in his personal library.
The writer also suggested that every man have a personal library, which threw me wildly for I took it for granted that everyone would have a home library.
A few of the books mentioned, we have here at home (Plato's Republic, The Divine Comedy), and a few of the books I proposed to be on the list turned out to be there (Augustine, Summa Theologica) which of course plumped my feathers. 

Naturally it got us thinking about "books that are worth reading," and while I probably could put together a list of a hundred and one titles of books that I would like to read, and feel are really worth reading, I thought I could speak better to the books I have already read - and I don't know that I could form a list of a hundred and one titles that I have read that I feel are really worth reading.  They span from childhood to adulthood, but these are the ones I feel are really worth the time spent reading them and give a return for time invested.
"Let us be exclusive," said Charles Wallace.   "That's my new word for the day."
1.  Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
2.  The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
3.  The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
4.  John Ploughman's Talk by C.H. Spurgeon
5.  Horatius by T.B. Macaulay
6.  The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers
7.  The Ballad of the White Horse by G.K. Chesterton
8.  Letters of Marque by Rudyard Kipling
9.  The Discarded Image by C.S. Lewis
10.  Oliver Cromwell by Theodore Roosevelt
11.  Cur Deus Homo (Why [Did] God [Become a] Man) by Anselm
12.  Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
13.  The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
14.  The Immortality of the Soul by Augustine
15.  Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
16.  On Christian Truth by Harry Blamires

It is a subjective list in some ways, because some of these books have simply impacted me greatly, and I have a notion that they would impact others as well.  It is also a mixed list: I have various kinds of poetry alongside children's historical fiction, travel, anthropology, biography, and theology.  But I think these sorts of things ought to be mixed.  It is also a very short list, because I was being ruthless: there are many books in my library which I have read and loved and have shaped me (Puck of Pook's Hill, Simon, The Worm Ouroboros), but even those I felt might be too subjective, and I wanted this list to be as universally edifying as possible.
How about you?  Have you read any of these books, and do you have a list of titles which you have read, which you feel are really worth the time you spent reading them?  Do tell!

It Looks a Lot Like Work

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I was asked to be part of a writing-blog tour, but when I was asked (no fault of the inquirer) I was right smack in the middle of my first trimester and hardly capable of sitting upright, let alone answering questions.  "What am I working on?  Nothing.  How does my work differ from others?  It isn't being worked on."

I had to decline officially entering the blog tour, but it occurred to me a few days ago that there was nothing stopping me from casually answering the general questions asked of the writers.  (And the irony in this is that, while I am often very sleepy in the morning, this morning I got up in time to take a very long nap, and now I am due for my second cup of tea.)  

What are you working on at present?
Talldogs.  I am slowly chipping into the plot of Talldogs.  It is slow going simply because I am abnormally weary, and focusing is difficult.  But I have finally - finally! - got to the part in the narrative in which the character realizes what is going on (at least partly), and we who were in darkness have seen a great light...  As of this moment, the manuscript is 80,050 words long.

Plenilune.  I'm sure you are all full of anxious beans waiting to hear about this development.  Among a few unfinished businesses, I have had a cover made (and purchased it - you'll die when you see it, believe me), and I have been drumming up some advance readers.  I have other irons in the fire as regards this novel's development, but they are not so hot yet that I can lay them on the anvil and hammer them, so I won't tell you about that yet.

Thunderstruck.  I don't usually tell people what I am reading because I really like to play my cards close to the chest, and whenever I am reading for resource, I tend not to give my resources away: like the wells of the Middle East, ownership of these resources is a means of power...  But this particular book, by Erik Larson, has begun to grip me, and I'm not really reading it with an eye toward research.  Murder and Marconi and the Turn of the Century.  Science was still almost alchemical in those days, and the proposition - the discovery - that you might not have to use a wire to conduct energy was literally electrifying.  I remember an edgy, creepy-crawly feeling in my skin when I first learned about the invisible electromagnetic fields that surround objects.  That fascination has not diminished.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?
In terms of "planetary fantasy," I have some spectacular lights as companions.  But my writing is me.  I'm writing from a desk in the twenty-first century, not the nineteenth or the twentieth, and while my stories fall more on the medieval side than, say, the science-fiction side (such as the Space Trilogy), I can't possibly escape the fact that I am a product of my era.  And also, while my stories are planetary fantasy, I am remarkably down-to-earth about it.  Talldogs, for example, was warmly summed up as a kind of ulcer-inducing British family drama.  You cannot get much more prosaic than that...

Why do you write what you write?
Well, I started writing at first just because I enjoyed doing it.  I still write because I enjoy doing it, but now I write, also, because I'm good at it, and I can get better at it, and because I write stories and characters and worlds that both I and others love to be involved with.  You know the old view of humours in the body?  True beans.  I would get nasty septic humours if I didn't vent my literary spleen.
and also because i can't physically control the elements and i would be an unholy terror if i could, so i have to do something
How does your writing process work?
This is assuming I have a process.  Generally I have a main idea - say, Talldogs - with vague shapes in the plot's future to which I'll tend as I write.  (The nice thing about Talldogs is that it already has some boundaries set by Plenilune and Ethandune before it.)  I'll start at the beginning, because I don't have so much trouble writing beginnings (although they tend to need polishing) as I know happens to some writers, and then I just keep going.  I'll get other ideas for scenes along the way, and I'll often scrawl them down so I don't forget them, but in general I write the story chronologically. 

You all have seen snippets on here from stories other than Talldogs.  If I get a scene for another of my novels which I am not currently working on, I will write it down - because if I do not write it down, I will lose it.
and that is pretty much my writing process

In Answer to Traditional Publishing Queries

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A blogger that I follow posted an open query on her site to anyone she knew that was traditionally published, and since The Shadow Things was traditionally published and so I have had that experience, I picked up her list in the hopes that I could shed a little light on her questions.

If you are also a traditionally published author, and you have answers to these questions, please throw in your two cents!

Dear Published Authors,
What can you tell me about your publisher? I don't have a manuscript quite ready yet, but I am starting to research publishers. At this point, I haven't decided between self-publishing and traditional publishing so I am wide open to any words of wisdom you may have to offer.

Also, what questions should I ask of a publisher? I would hate to agree to a publishing contract only to find out that I agreed to something that I wish I hadn't. I am a person who likes to know what I am getting into and to be prepared. Below are some questions I have been asking. What else do I need to know?

1. What do I need to submit? Manuscript (in what format), synopsis, monies, bio, etc.
What you need to submit will vary from publishing house to publishing house.  They will (or should!) have their requirements posted on their website.  These requirements are not always clear.  I am sorry, but sometimes they can be mind-boggling.  Rule Number One: there are very few hard-and-fast rules.  You have to roll with their punches.

2. Is the acceptance of my manuscript guaranteed (such as in some self-publishing venues...you pay money and they print whatever you like) or is it dependent on their review (traditional publishers and some hybrid publishers use this route)?
The acceptance of your manuscript is subject to the whims of the publishing house.  It may not suit them (in which case you probably should have researched their corpus of literature better), it may be that they already have a lot of books coming out in that genre, it may be that they are swamped.  When rejected, you may feel that it is because your manuscript is not good enough.  This is not always the case.  Oftentimes, it just wasn't their cup of tea.

3. Are there restrictions on the length of the book? (For example, it must be at least 48 pages to be printed in paperback and at least 108 pages to be considered for hardcover). (Or, for example, no one wants the next unabridged Count of Monte Cristo).
Traditional publishing houses often state the word limits they require on both ends (no less than so many words and no more than another number).   These restrictions will vary from house to house.

Hardcover books tend to be costlier than paperbacks.  The anticipated popularity of the book will often dictate whether it is published in hardcover or not, I believe, not the size of the wordcount. 

4. Who owns my manuscript? Do I maintain ownership or do I sign it over to the publisher?
If I understand this correctly, whoever holds the copyright, owns the manuscript (makes sense!).  In my research I came across this article on copyrights and copyright transfers.  This is something you will need to keep an eye on and look for in the list of papers you may sign with a publishing house.

5. Would this be a non-exclusive contract (in other words, do they have restrictions on my ability to submit my story elsewhere)?
Before your manuscript has been accepted, you may send your queries and proposals to as many houses as you wish.  (You may or may not be asked if you are submitting to multiple houses simultaneously.)  Once your story has been accepted, its freedom to be published in other venues is probably dependent upon the contract's limitations, which may vary.

6. Are there time limits on the publisher's services? Will my book ever go out of print?
An article defining out-of-print may be found here.   Your book can, and may, go out of print, and the contract can make allowance for the rejuvenation of the printing (e.g. if my publisher fails to bring out a new printing of my novel within six months of my having sent in a written request to renew it, all rights to my novel will revert back to me). 

7. In addition to the initial fee (if there is one), are there times during this submitting/editing/publishing/marketing process when the author is expected to provide funds?
This is probably dependent upon the publishing house.  And this is the part where I mention that the entire traditional publishing industry is doing itself no favours in short-changing the author so vigorously in terms of royalties and returns.  As I have entered the publishing world, I have watched more and more authors move away from traditional publishing, not because self-publishing is easier (please don't make me laugh), but because we would far rather haul our own carts and urge ourselves at our own hectic pace than be overridden by corporations who intend to work the life out of us and give us very little in return.  They are not all evil conglomerates, but the system is not designed to help the author, and the authors have become increasingly aware of that as the internet network has made self-help more and more feasible.

8. Does the publisher provide the editors and cover design artists?
In general, yes, I believe so; and occasionally you even have the opportunity of interfacing with your cover artist and offering suggestions (or making demands).  Back-pocket editors and design artists are part of the traditional publishing package.

9. Does the publisher print both hardcover and paperbacks? How do they decide whether to do one or the other or both? (Perhaps by how much money you pay? Or by the length of the book?)
I think I inadvertently answered this question above.  Insofar as I understand it, whether or not a book is printed in hardback or paper depends upon its popularity (and therefore the assurance of reaping a return on the money invested in a more expensive type of cover).  I have been watching Andrew Peterson's publication of his (I believe) last Wingfeather Saga novel, The Warden and the Wolf King, and in an Instagram photograph I noticed that the first two books were paperback; the last two, once the series had grown in popularity, were in hardback.  It all depends upon the economic assurance that you will not be throwing money away by creating a more expensive product that people don't want.

10. Do the publisher obtain or help me get the ISBN assignment, Library of Congress Control Number, and U.S. Copyright Registration for my book?
The publisher is responsible for creating the official numbers associated with the literary work.  (In my long list of Things to Do to Self-Publish Plenilune, obtaining these numbers myself is there.)

11. Does the publisher only print black and white books, or would they also print color books? Do they ever print books with interior pictures? What are the requirements for those?
Colour will probably also be dependent on the economic feasibility of the project.  The printing of black and white images in books is common: that's part of your book, and while there may be some wrangling, that will also probably be accommodated according to your needs and the publisher's. 

12. How does the publisher print the books? Is it done on-demand or are large orders printed at a time?
A publishing house will order a run to be printed (this quantity to be determined by the publisher).  Subsequent runs can be ordered as well.

13. Do they offer marketing/networking and help me attain endorsements and reviews? If so, what does that look like and what role do I play in that? (I'd hate to sign a contract with them and then find out unexpectedly that I am required to tour the country for a booksigning during my busiest months here at home).
Publishing houses do offer varying degrees of publicity and author-readership interaction, but whether you publishing traditionally or by yourself, it is increasingly more imperative that the bulk of the responsibility rests on the author's shoulders for marketing and networking.  You absolutely cannot depend upon the publishing house to do this for you, even if they offer some of these services.  It's up to you, because that's the way the book market works these days.

14. In what markets will my book be carried? Is there a time limit on how long a book would be carried by them?
This depends on the distributors that any individual publishing house has in its back pocket, and the duration of the shelf-life of your book will be dependent on a time agreed upon by the distributor and the publisher: if that time has expired and a portion of your books has not sold, the books will be bought back by the publisher.  (This should not effect your royalties, but unfortunately sometimes it does.)

15. Is it likely that my book would be carried in a physical store? (Or is it only offered online?)
As of now, traditional publishing is still heavily invested in the physical book.  Your book will be printed and distributed to physical locations, although it will probably come in ebook format as well.

16. If I wished to purchase some of my books for my family or if I wished to carry my books to an event to sell them, how would I obtain copies? Is there a reduced cost for the author to buy books? Is there a specific quantity that must be purchased at a time?
This will probably be dependent on the contract.  I know it is listed in my contract as allowing me to purchase my books at a reduced price, but this may vary from contract to contract.
These are some questions answered.  If you have more questions, a good resource to explore is the website Go Teen Writers, which is extremely helpful and a lot of fun to peruse.  I hope this helped!

The Jerusalem Tree

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Rachel chose June's Chatterbox topic as
boats and boating
with the deliberate purpose, I think, of watching me writhe.  She said she wanted to see me step out of it like a disgruntled cat which has just trod in a puddle, and shake off my paws.  Which I did.  I am not sure this relationship is a healthy one, but we seem to get on without any intention of disjoining. 
the jerusalem tree


In the dun-dusky evening the road diverged, curling like the sweep of a hurley-stick through the red pillars of the cedar trees, and the Black Prince put down the last two fingers of either hand upon the reins, drawing upon the mouth of his agouti.  A little bewildered, the horse paused, churning fruitlessly at the air. 
“Hush, hush, cousin,” crooned the prince absentmindedly. 
The horse mouthed the bit and fell silent.
Before him the track wound up through the old cedar wood from the depression of the river; over the coppered tops of the trees he could see the gilt towers of the University etched against a sky of new faience-colour and old bronze.  And farther away, making mockery of the lifted land, the froth of cyclamen clouds with their strings of golden pearls and their trains of gossamer-stuff rolled slowly across that kiln-heated heaven. 
How beautiful it was!  A small, hurt smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.  The evening air and the evening light seeped into his bones and flooded through his veins.  How beautiful…  Once—what was time?—it had been a frightening place to a boy naturally disposed to be quiet and reclusive; once it had been a labyrinth of nightmare and heartache.  But those days were lost behind him; and though he wore their scars, he need not remember: at the foot of this scarleted and golden hill, it was easy to forget. 
He glanced toward the junction.  It curved into the wood and followed the base of the hill, and it did not look, to an alien eye, as if it led to anything or as if it were wise to traverse.  But its ruddy shadows, he knew, would open out into the long greensward beneath the walls of Marsdon Tower—whose walls could not be seen from this vantage—and out of the lawn and the swans and the river at the foot of the green emerged memories that the prince did not need to turn away from.
He turned his horse’s head into the junction and spurred the shadows of the cedars over his shoulders.  The soft triple spluttering of hooves and the sepia-purr of moving tack were the only sounds in the wood as he cantered down the lane, bending with the movement of the track, hitching up slightly as his gold-touched bay curled its body over the gnarled figure of a fallen beech-limb.  The others would not mind, he considered, that he would be a little late.  They would understand.  In their way, they would understand…
The cedars gave way to oak and elm, the wood began to open up and turn from the hill, and presently the cinnabar light became once more diffused with gold spice and amber, and through no conscious guidance of his own, his horse dropped to a collected trot and then a slow, scrutinizing walk as they left the woodshore behind them and came out upon the green.  To his right, the old blasted stonework of Marsdon Tower heaved out of the hillside, broken and burnt without windowpane or wooden floor, and its gateway, once barred with the oak which surrounded the hill, stood gaping to the elements and breathed unhappy memories into the minds of all who passed beneath its shadow.  The road snaked up toward it, but before it lifted from the green it darted away again in the dusty beaten way of used tracks: only a faint green line in the turf marked where the road had once shot precipitously up the hillside into the stone bowels of the Tower. 
Away.  The prince looked away, out across the wide sward that was like the curve of bronze buckler verdigris’d with age.  The Lamb lay out beyond the bank, watered like etched steel, slowly carving its banks through the valley and through time, and nearer to the bank than it lay to its castle he looked for the massive walnut tree, older by generations than the building, under which he had sat as a boy new and green upon this hill.
The sward stood empty.
He must have kicked a little in shock for the horse shivered beneath him, and complained at the sudden jerking of the bit.  But the blow—his eyes swept the green as if by some magic the thing had moved and was still there, yet all the while he knew it could not have moved, not by faith large or small, and he knew the thing was gone. 
All things must die one day, said reason, clearly and gently in the back of his mind.  Even the walnut tree.
Like one coming up through the dry-leaf steps of a mausoleum, he urged his bay across the lawn, a little lost without the towering compass-point which the massive tree had always been.  The green seemed naked without it.  And more than that, it was not merely a tree.  It had stood before the Tower was built, it had been mature when the cedar and the oak and the elm had encroached as new forest upon the hill.  Its limbs had twisted massive and breath-taking upward and outward, casting shade like the words of an oracle across the grass, and beneath its springy froth had yelped laverock and fox—even the fate of his own family had been tied to its gnarled shadow.  And now it was gone, as all the great ones must go one day, fallen like Ozymandius and leaving behind it only the hollowness of its passing.
He stopped his horse upon the brink of the grassy depression wherein its root-system had sunk and stared fixedly at visions which were not very clear to him. 
How it had shone!  With the winds and the sunlight in its boughs, tossing it gently against the virgin sky, every leaf flashing and every flash like a name of those who had stood long ago below it. 
How it had prospered!  Like the rich soil beneath it, and the men and women who toiled in that land—the prince gazed upward reflexively, squinting into the late sunlight, as if he might see the tangle-work of its boughs again making a golden byzantine tapestry with which to gild his face and the sky. 
It had been like rocks and wells and mountains smoking under the word of God.  It had been a promise to the land, an end of bloodshed, a bond, a symbol of peace. 
And now it was gone.
He slipped his feet from the stirrups and dropped noiselessly to the grass, instinctively catching at his sword-hilt lest it make a rattle.  The horse began to graze, and he stepped from its side to skirt the depression, eyes ever a little ahead of his feet until, by sweeping through the clover and using an old stone pier on the near bank as a kind of reference, he came to the broken slab of granite, pock-marked with lichen, next which he had sat for hours on end and which for leagues of years had lain a quiet memorial to what stood, arguably, as the single most important event in the history of his people.
He turned his back to the light and stood over the stone, one hand still upon the sword’s haft, head canted a little as one might look down on a dog one was fond of.  The words were old—very old—but he knew them by heart, and in his mind they still seemed very clear.

THE JERUSALEM WALNUT
BENEATH THIS TREE, AFTER MUCH TURMOYL AMONGST THE SONS AND DAHTERS OF THE HONOUR-LANDS, AND MUCH SORIE BLOODSHED, A COVENANT WAS FORMED UPON THAT DAY WHICH HATH BEEN THEREAFTER MARKED AS THE FIRST BETWEEN THE FIVE HONOURS, THAT EACH SHOULD BE TO EACH A BROTHER AND AN ALLY, AND NEVER AGEN MAKE WAR UPON THE OTHER, THAT UNBROKE UNITY AND PEACE WIL REMAYNE IN PLACE OF AGGRESHUN, GREED, AND MURTHER. 
YE GOD OF PEACE MEND AL.

And a little more beneath, in only slightly younger lettering:

BENEATH THIS TREE LY THE MORT REMAYNES OF PHILIP CHEVAL, FIRST LORD OF THIS COVENANT, WHOSE VERY HAND ALSO SYNED THE CONTRACT, AND HIS WIFE PAN AENEAS.
UNTIL THE LORD COMETH.

The prince crouched down—he did not know why—and touched the cold, crumbled edge of the stone with one outstretched hand.  His shadow arched across the stone and for a moment, coupled with the heaviness of loss, he felt the weightiness of fate impress hard upon his shoulders.
“It was that great storm last summer.”
He lifted his head, unaware that it had fallen forward.  It took him only a moment to place that peaceable voice, always a little shy and at the same time always sure of itself.  Respectfully he rocked back onto his heels and rose, turning to the Mayor of the University.  How long had he stood here, that the man had come up across the lawn so quietly to join him, and had gone unnoticed until now? 
The pale lilac eyes were on the stone between them, and that shy little smile with which the prince was personally acquainted touched at the pale lips.  “The stone is still here.”
“Yes.”  The prince turned back on the stone.  It was perhaps a sorry trade, in light of all the storms that walnut tree had weathered, but the stone was still here.  He was still here—a testament in the flesh to the carved words in that stone.
The Mayor was saying gently, “It was hard to see it go.  It means much to us—more to me, and still more to you.  But the etchings of it are many in the books, the accounts of it numerous, and the rock of remembrance is still here.”  He nodded to it, the wind feathering his white hair. 
The prince said, “It came down in the storm?”
The colourless face lifted to his, eyes unfocusing a little, as if seeing through to the pain and the past.  “Yes.  Sooth, it had been dead for some time, and the drainage has not been managed properly so that its roots had lost their strength.  It was a great storm, and the tree made no sound as it lay down upon the green.  When we came to it, it was like an old warhorse which has gone back to the fields of its triumph to die.  Very quiet and peaceful.”
“Its roots had lost its strength!” mused the prince, quietly and vehemently beneath his breath.  “What ill omen lies within that picture.”
The Mayor looked at him steadfastly and said nothing.
But already the practical side of him was slipping loose the catgut of the aching wound and he was saying in a moment, into what seemed to him a very hollow, living quiet, “We must needs fill in the hole.  It is within my power to procure engineers to survey and drain this place.  We will have another tree planted.”
“That will be good,” said the Mayor.
Again he stared at the stone and the hole and the dead legacy.  The wound began to hurt again, more fiercely this time.  “What was done with it?” he asked.
With fingertips hardly touching his shoulder, the Mayor moved forward and lifted his arm toward the bank.  The prince, raising his hand to shield his gaze from the sun, looked out along the line of his pointing and saw what the lift of the green had before hidden from his view.  A new bridge, of timber corduroys and stone piers, arched across the blue Lamb from bank to bank, and along its sides like some breed of limbed dragon stepped stairs and walk-planks against which whispered the sides of the long leaf-shaped river-boats as they lifted and dropped to the surge of the current. 
“Perhaps it may no longer be the memorial it once was,” observed the Mayor, “but it manages, by some strange providence, to be a kind of way to us even still.”
The prince said, “It is a beautiful bridge.”  But in his mind the glittering thing with the sun upon its timbers so that it looked like gold and not wood, looked like a bow, a bow drawn at a venture, and he felt more kin to the early hours of that covenant and the new life of the walnut tree than ever before.  The tree and the covenant had prospered long and sturdily—not always happily, but strong, and though the ache was fresh and the blood seemed to well out from beneath his fingers even as he tried to press the wound shut, there was no anger in the pain.  He looked down again at the stone.
God mend all. 
Turning in alongside the Mayor and fetching up the reins of his horse, he began the walk across the green with many things lying at his back—and the wind, at his back, rushed with a sudden power upon him, fanning out the dolphinskin of his cloak, and in its plunging he heard the sounds carried across the years of the fox and the laverock and the talk of men and horses, and that peace which was as painful as it was indescribable dropped upon him out of the naked sky.

He fell not by an enemy’s blow,
Nor by the treachery of his own followers.
But he died peacefully,
Happy in his joy,
Without pain,
His people safe.
Who can call this death,
When none considers that it demands vengeance?

Hold In Memory the Colouring of a Rose

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I haven't really lacked for ideas recently, just the energy to write them down. It is really quite mentally taxing, and emotionally like a roller-coaster. I think I must have got going rather quickly once I reached the climax of a scene, for my husband, who had been dutifully ignoring me and working on his own projects, suddenly looked up in startlement and asked what I was writing. I have some notion that I was also making faces at the computer, so I am also embarrassed...
snippets
There was something momentary and odd on the steward’s face—as if several thoughts, unpleasant in their juxtaposition, had occurred to him all at once—and then they were gone again and the man was straight and obedient and subdued as a piece of sword-steel that one has been accustomed to using for a very long time.
talldogs

Raymond regarded his whiskey and his options.
talldogs

The pungent scent of fresh loaves threw him for a moment back into the narrow, cobble-stepped roadway of Tamberlane, yellow and dusky with its bricked walls and overshadowing elms. Was it his imagination, or did that long hallowed lane hold in memory the colouring of a rose, even as this little square of sidewalk did beneath the red-lined awning which was as old as his memory…?
talldogs

...he glanced up to find [she] had come in her rummaging through the chests upon a hand-written notebook of Sebius’ Mathematics, and was casually fanning through the pages. It was a fat, torn, tattered thing, much referenced and subsequently much abused, but he noted that she treated the thing with surprising care within her long, fine hands, and the thrashing, reckless spirit with which she was accustomed to favouring most things seemed to have completely dropped away from her. She held the thing like a fledgling bird.
“Hmm!” she said, ruefully; her cheeks creased back in a deprecating smile. “Trigonom√©trie.”
drakeshelm

His throat was ragged. His fingers flexed at the thought, but did not lift off the hardwoods. It was sore and ragged as if someone had been trying to crush his windpipe. Somehow he managed to crack his eyelids open: he saw the human figures of the dog and the cat and the badger grouped about him, but he did not connect with them. There was an upended chair near the badger, as if someone had kicked it over. There was a frayed coil of rope at the dog’s feet, with a loop and a knot in one end…
lamblight

She was beautiful. He sat back and gazed down with gently hooded eyes: something bird-like fluttered warmly in his chest. It was pure and lovely and true, and he thought, I would lay my head at her feet.
—Then the ugly thing came darting back into his mind and the corners of his eyes and mouth hardened, his hand tightened on the pen.
lamblight

"Like a hammer I will smash you, as God smashed the tribes of Israel with the hammer of the Assyrians. I will crush you and disperse you, and you will become a byword among men."
cruxgang

Overlord!” he cried—and in that sudden silence his gasping voice rang out against the stones. “Overlord! Mercy! Sanctuary!
cruxgang