Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

unitards… September 30, 2012

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Grace Awakening Myth,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:54 am
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It’s gratifying to go back through a manuscript completed ages ago, and find yourself giggling at scenes you’d completely forgotten about.  As I’m editing Grace Awakening Myth this evening, I came across this scene, and I thought you might enjoy it, too.

Please note that this is a draft version, I can already see several things to fine tune! 🙂

Ben is backstage, preparing for a band concert.  One of his friends took dance to meet a girl he likes, and he’s about to perform in a quartet dance number as part of the concert.  Ben is narrating.


I could sense Grace in the audience as we set up the stage for the band concert.  She must have come early with Christie.  The tenuous ribbons of connection between us floated invisibly in the air, but I could feel them.  She had been ignoring me at school, but her mind had been busy thinking about me.  She was opening possibility, and the awareness made my heart soar.

Her presence was calling to the music in me.  Surely, the other players would be captivated by it as well.  The concert was going to be a good one.

Ryan was shivering in a corner.

“What’s wrong?”

“I think I’m going to be sick.”

“It’s just nerves,” I said.  “You’ve played concerts plenty of times.  It’s always fine.”

He stared at me like I was a moron.  “I’m wearing a spandex unitard under this band uniform.”

I laughed, and as the picture seered my brain, I laughed harder.

He sent me a withering look and the tears started.  They stung my eyes and rolled down my cheeks, but I couldn’t stop laughing.

Paul came over.  “What’s so funny?”

“Ryan,” I sputtered.  “Spandex.”

Paul wrinkled his nose.  “Ooh, nasty.  Nothing is worth that, Bro.  What were you thinking?  On the other hand,” he glanced to the wings, “Georgia is looking mighty fine this evening.”

She was.  Her hair tumbled loosely in waves almost to her waist.  She was wearing a beige unitard that disappeared at a distance.  Her curves were magnificent.

Ryan sighed.  “It is sooooo worth it.  Excuse me,” he muttered to us, and went to stand with her.

Her smile lit her face as he came near.  It made my heart warm.

Paul looked around for Tanis, and saw her standing off to the side watching Ryan and Georgia.  “Do you think she’s jealous?”

I shrugged, “Maybe a little.  Don’t let it worry you.  Have you seen J-Roy yet?”

He looked around, “There he is, at the back in black.  Oh my.  Is that the same thing Ryan is wearing?”  He started to snicker.

I sucked back the guffaw that started to explode out of me.  J-Roy was clad in a black unitard.  A hood covered his trademark lion’s mane of tawny hair.  The only skin that showed was on his hands, feet, and face.  J-Roy is athletic.  He stood tall, his body rippled with muscular definition.  He looked fantastic.  “Oh, poor Ryan,” I groaned.

Ryan’s slightly paunchy belly and sloped shoulders were not the optimal build for a unitard.

Paul smirked at me, “Maybe Ryan hopes the black will be slimming?”

I started to shake, pursing my lips tightly.

Misty floated by in a glowing euphoria, with frequent glances over to J-Roy.  “Doesn’t he look like some kind of Greek god?” she murmured to me.

I pondered a lecture on over-generalization, but with another look to J-Roy I had to acknowledge that he did, in fact, bear a strong resemblance to some of my relatives.


Time takes care of all things September 8, 2012

“Time is a lot of the things people say that God is.  There’s the always pre-existing, and having no end.  There’s the notion of being all powerful–because nothing can stand against time, can it?  Not mountains, not armies.

And time is, of course, all-healing.  Give anything enough time, and everything is taken care of:  all pain encompassed, all hardship erased, all loss subsumed.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.

And if  Time is anything akin to God, I suppose that Memory must be the Devil.”

Diana Gabaldon in Breath of Snow and Ashes

I found this quote rather profound.  Memory being the Devil ascribes evil to our past.  Beyond haunting, it implies danger, cruelty and manipulation.  Do our memories really do that?

Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory shows up in Grace Awakening Myth.  She and Lethe, the goddess of forgetfulness, are working together on Ben to sculpt him just the right combination of memories to keep him optimistic.  They work together to keep him whole, because he would not be able to bear contemplating the possibilities opened up by his more painful memories.

I wonder if our own memories often work the same way?  If we are successful in burying the negative history, we are re-working our own memory.  I suppose it must also work in reverse.  We can ignore all our positive experiences and craft ourselves memories of a terrible childhood, and use that strange, inaccurate perspective to fuel our behaviour.  We can view ourselves as down trodden over-comers, and use that to force ourselves to deal with current challenges.

Gabaldon’s quote is from Claire’s perspective.  Claire has a lot of memories from life in the future and in the past.  She has a complex web of memories that she might like to escape.

What do you think?  Are your memories an inspiration to your future, or are they a challenge to overcome?


heat in the band room June 14, 2012

The latest snippet from Grace Awakening Myth

Things are heating up in the band room!  (Ben is narrating).


Ryan came in.  “Did you see Tanis?”   His eyes were wild.


“Today.  She’s wearing something.”

“I should hope so.  Otherwise she’d be arrested.”

He shook his head, as if to shake out an image, “No, I mean, she’s wearing some…thing.  Ahhh.”  He shook harder, then hissed, “Look!”

Tanis sauntered in.  She was definitely wearing ‘something,’ all right.  Skin tight.  Mini-dress.  Black leather.

Ryan cast a frantic look over to Mr. J.  Mr. J glanced back and raised an eye brow.

Paul came in, grinning.

Tanis glanced over her shoulder and then bent over.

Paul sucked in his breath.

Ryan gulped.  Loudly.  Like he had swallowed his tongue.

“Tanis,” Mr. J called.  “I need to see you over here, please.”

She grinned at us, our jaws hovering somewhere around our navels, and gave a little shoulder wiggle as she passed us.

Mr. J spoke to her quietly.

She shrugged and left the room.

He came over to us.  “For whose benefit was that display, gentlemen?”

“I…uh…well…” Ryan stuttered.

Paul twitched, but didn’t seem to have the capacity of speech anymore.

I inhaled.  “It’s complicated, sir.”


sewing with words June 10, 2012

Filed under: Grace Awakening Myth,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:20 pm
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When I write, I craft individual scenes.  When I have enough of them, I sort them out and put them in order, then I write the ‘in betweens’ that fill out the plot and ensure comfortable transitions, proper development of tension, etc.  After than comes the editing and additional padding or trimming that make things tidy.

It’s a bit like making a quilt of words.   First are the blocks, individual chunks, that are arranged into an attractive pattern.  They don’t stay together, though until they’re backed, and stitched down.

So, I’m quilting the final stitches in the third book of the series, Grace Awakening Myth today.  I think I’ll be done by bedtime.   Then off it will go to the first round of beta readers who will see if they find any holes in the structure and composition.  I’ll darn up what I need to, and then it will head off to the editor, who will trace the pattern for the final quilting.  When it’s all done, the next adventure will begin!

Another couple thousand words to stitch, and this word quilt will be done.


O plans a day travelling through the dawn April 6, 2012

Filed under: Grace Awakening Myth,Mythology — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:06 am
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I waved franticially as the glowing horses approached, “Eos!  Slow down!”

“I don’t have time for you, O!” she called back, raising the reins and snapping them.

“Just make some room on the chariot.  Come on.”

“You’ll add stress to the horses.”

I raised my eyebrows and she glanced away with a dramatic sigh.  “Fine.  Get on.”  She shuffled over a bit.

I leapt up and squeezed beside her.  The chariot was only made for one.  We were uncomfortably close.

“What is it?”  Her breath was soft, with a faint tinge of coriander.

“I was wondering…”

“I’m not slowing down for you,” she broke in.

“I didn’t ask you to!”

She sighed.  “It’s the only thing anyone ever asks me.  I’m not stupid.  You want me to slow down a day:”

“That’s not what I want.”  I met her eyes, bouncing slightly with the movement of the horses.  “I thought I could help you out.  I wondered if you needed a break.”

“A break?”  She studied me suspiciously.  “What do you mean ‘a break’?”

“A break.  A day off.  A chance to get off the back of this chariot to do something you want to do.”

Her eyes grew large.  “Seriously?”

I nodded.  “You work so hard.  You deserve a break.”


“When would you like to get away?”

“Tomorrow?” she whispered wistfully.

“Sure.  I’ll take the day off school.  I’ll meet  you at five?”

“Perfect.”  She sighed happily, her golden eyes twinkling.  This will be fantastic.  Is there anything I can do for you while I’m off?”

I tried to look guileless.  “Oh.  Um.  Well, if you have a chance, would you pop in to see Morpheus?

“Oh sure!  I never get to spend any time with him.  That’d be great.  Do you have a message for him?””


Another snippet of Grace Awakening Myth March 31, 2012

A little snippet from Grace Awakening Myth for your pleasure.  Ben is narrating.  ‘She’ is…well…  You’ll figure it out.

She shook her head. “It’s not our policy to interfere in such a way. The threads have been spun and the destiny is spun into them.”
“New people bring new thread though, don’t they?”
“Of course. Oh. Your thread, do you mean?”
I nodded. “Doesn’t it make me an important thread in her life?”
“Your thread is woven quite tightly into her tapestry so far,  true.  A thread can be continuous within a life. It doesn’t have to bring anything positive, though.”
“I’m positive.” I stared at her doubtful expression. “I’m positive I’m positive!”
She rolled her eye.
“You have no way of knowing that. You don’t know who she would have been without you.”
I stared at her. Better without me? How could Grace be better without me? What did she know about who Grace would have been?
“Your thoughts are on your face,” she said matter-of-factly.
I shrugged. My stomach was moiling. Would she have been better if I hadn’t been following her through time. I swallowed. “No.”
She gazed at me, sympathy warming the eye to tenderness. “Your wishing doesn’t make it so.”
“Can you show me?”
She wrinkled her brow. “Do you want me to pull your thread, so you’re removed from her picture?”
“If you pull it, can it go back?”
She shook her head, “No. Once a thread is out, it can’t be reintegrated the same way again.”
“Could it be better than before?”
She smirked. “Ah. Your optimism amazes me.”
“That doesn’t answer the question.”
She shrugged. “We’re artists. We use our skills and tools to create, but we only have the raw materials we’ve been given. The tapestries always reflect the life stories they tell. Some are ugly simply because the life is ugly. Sometimes the tapestry is strangely compelling for all its ugliness.”
I ponder that for a moment. “Wait.” Do you mean me?”
She guffawed. “Oh by Zeus no. Have you seen your thread? No, not you at all. I mean the lives of people like that snarly creep Ivan the Terrible or that miserable, greasy little Hitler.”
I blinked. I’d lost the rest of her words, frozen by her first statement. I whispered, “Can I see my thread?” In several millennia the audacity of requesting such a thing had never occurred to me. Both gods and men generally avoided interaction with the Moirae, their power was great and terrifying. But I was here, now. Clotho was in a pleasant enough mood. I might never have another opportunity like this. I whispered, “Can I see my thread?”
She glanced around, and then, assured of our privacy, she grinned mischievously and held out her empty hand. She rolled her thumb back and forth across her fingers in rapid circles. A line of sparkles shimmered like a trail between thumb and fingers. She rolled her thumb in quickening circles and the sparkles aligned themselves into a glittering opalescent glow. I stared, awestruck. I reached out for the glowing thread. She grinned at me as she dropped the strand into my palm. “This is just a sample, of course. If we cut thread from the actual tapestry…”
“Yeah. I know.” Mortality was held in the scissors her sister Atropos wielded.
I held an end of the thread and raised it to the light. In a milky whiteness blue, orange, green and pink flamed like an aura of hope. “This looks like a positive kind of thread.”
“It’s beautiful, obviously. One of the most beautiful we spin, actually, but beauty isn’t always good. You know Aglaea. And Aphrodite herself, for that matter.”
This was bold talk, but perhaps the old woman was beyond concern for love, and therefore beyond Aphrodite’s power of retribution.
“Look, sometimes something this sparkly is a distraction. It detracts or endangers. What if her life requires camouflage? This kind of brightness is going to bring the guns on her.”
“Unless she’s trying to camouflage at the Academy Awards.”
She laughed. “Well, that’s true I suppose.
“Beauty, Radiance, and Joy.” The natures of the Three Graces.
“They’re glorious threads, aren’t they?”
She shrugged and glanced away.
“You lying witch,” I muttered.
She raised an eyebrow. “That’s not the kind of thing you say to someone you’re trying to convince to give you a favour.”
“I am a positive element in her life.”
“You’re welcome to think so.”
“I am a continuity of love and acceptance, giving her strength,” I said firmly.
She scoffed. “You’re a continous source of pressure and obsession.”
“In a good way.”
She tried to look serious, but she had to stifle a snort of amusement.
“So will you help?”
“Oh, quit looking at me with those mushy, puppy dog eyes.”
“What if I write you a song?”
Her eye lashes fluttered. Perhaps she wasn’t completely out of Aphrodite’s influence after all.”
“Just for me?”
“Well. To keep you in harmony, I suppose I’d better compose a verse for each of your sisters as well.”
She sighed, “I suppose you must,” and gave me the most coquettish look I’d ever seen from a single eyeball. “But my verse will be the best one, aye?”
“Indeed. You will help?”
“All right. Come over by the door, and we’ll discuss the details.” She gripped my hand and pulled me along behind her. She was surprisingly strong, and I was reminded that despite her wizzened appearance, she was not to be trifled with. Her verse would have to be the best.


Another snippet of book 3 February 16, 2012

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Grace Awakening Myth,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:08 pm
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I was wondering today just what choir class was like for Ben.  Strangely enough, a window promptly opened, and here’s what I know now.

Meg eyed us suspiciously as Paul, Ryan and I came into the band room for choir.
“What’s this? A trio of fools?”
Ryan grinned at her. “Fools for love! Valentine’s Day approaches. Will you be my Valentine, Meg?”
Her expression gentled into a soft amusement. “Oh? Are you serious?”
He shook his head adamantly, “Not even vaguely. Are you kidding? You’re a black widow spider. Do I look suicidal?”
Her eyes narrowed.
Paul punched Ryan in the arm. “Apparently you are! Why would you say something like that?” His voice was low and he watched Meg warily.
She spun on her heels and joined the other altos
Ryan shrugged and continued, “Maybe I feel like living dangerously.” He glanced over at Tanis.
Paul grabbed his arm, “Oh, man. Don’t do it. Tanis is deadly.”
Ryan smirked, “Dynamite is deadly and dangerous, too, but it can be a wonderful thing when handled properly.”
“You think you can handle Tanis properly?”
Ryan winked, “Watch and learn, Paul. Watch and learn.”
Mr. Johnson clapped his hands, “Come on people! Let’s get going. Do you have the ‘Titanic’ score, ready?”
There was a flurry of papers as everyone lined up in sections and readied themselves for warm-up.
Ryan smiled at Tanis.
She wrinkled her brows as she smiled back automatically.
“Ben, give me a C?” I stepped over to the piano and struck middle C, then the octave below, then both together before returning to my spot. The class found their notes and Mr. J. directed us up and down the scales.
I watched Ryan as we sang. He kept catching Tanis’ eye. The first time she met it blankly, without interest.
He winked.
She blinked, and hastily glanced back to Mr. J. A few bars later, she looked back.
Ryan stared at her as he sang, “love can touch us…”
She blushed, looking away again, but moments later her gaze had wandered back.
He smiled dreamily at her as he sang, “You’re here in my heart.”
She inhaled, losing her pitch momentarily before returning his gaze as she sang, “You’re safe in my heart.”
They stared at each other, oblivious to the rest of the class as the final chord reverberated around us. As the notes died out, Ryan nodded at her.
Tanis nodded back.
They broke their gazes, and Ryan nudged Paul, whispering, “See? Putty in my hands. It’s all about crafting the moment. We’ll be telling our grandchildren about this.”
Ryan grunted and looked over to me in disgust.
I grinned, “What can I say? It’s the music. It does it every time.”
“It does, does it?” Meg’s eyes were narrow as she sidled up to us. “You’re sure of that, are you?”
“What do you mean, Meg?” Paul asked. “It seems to be working for Ryan.”
She sneered, “It might work for him, but he’s not the only one relying on the technique.” She stared maliciously at me.
I swallowed, bile rising up my throat like fire.
Paul shook his head, “Meg, Meg, Meg. Don’t be a hater.”
“You’re one to talk.” She raised her eyebrows, glancing at Tanis.
“Well, one traumatic experience shouldn’t turn you off love forever.”
Nonetheless, I noticed he crossed his legs somewhat nervously as he looked over to Tanis.
Ryan had wandered over to Tanis and said something that made her giggle and flutter her eyelashes at him.
I shook my head and muttered, “We should be taking lessons from him.”
Paul nodded. “Things not going well with Grace these days?”
I sighed. “Not particularly well, No.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
I shrugged. “She’s stubborn.”
“Maybe you’re trying too hard?”
I watched Tanis and Ryan flirting at the door, she punched him playfully in the bicep. He made a melodramatic gesture of agony and then pointed at his arm insistently. She shook her head, blushing, but as the bell rang, she quickly stood on tip toe and kissed the bicep. Ryan swoon and grabbed his heart. She giggled and headed out the door, tossing a coquettish look over her shoulder.
Ryan swung around and returned to us, grinning broadly. “She adores me.”
Paul shook his head doubtfully. It always starts well.”
“Not always,” I grumbled.
Paul clamped an arm around my shoulders. “Cheer up, Ben. She’ll come around eventually.”
Meg caught my eye and shook her head, mouthing, “No. She won’t.”


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