Shawn L. Bird

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

Another Orpheus visit to the Other Realm November 27, 2012

Here’s a chunk from today’s NaNoWriMo scribblings.  I confess that I have lost a bit of inspiration about what’s going on in Grace Awakening Destiny, (Book 4) I’ve decided that any novel writing counts, so long as it’s new writing.  I have some holes I want to patch in Grace Awakening Myth, (Book 3)  and here is a patch for your entertainment:


“ARES! I shouted.  “Get out here, you coward!”  I stomped in a circle around a foggy clearing, trying to force it into something less ethereal.

“Shouting is so immature, Orpheus,” declared a bored feminine voice, manifesting a throne behind her..  “Aren’t you a little old for such theatrics?”  She looked down her elegant nose and then added, “But of course, you’re all about the theatre, aren’t you?”

“Hera.  Isn’t Ares a little old to be sending his mommy out to fight his battles?”

She smiled, but it was a dangerous thing, like the tantalizing blossom of a poisonous plant.  “My son is busy right now.  Unlike you, he has important things to do.”

“Your definition of important and mine are rather different.  What is he doing?  Is he fueling some holy war or training up Middle Eastern terrorists?  Doesn’t the Earthly Realm deserve a break from war?”

“The humans don’t want a break from war, silly boy.  Giving up war would mean giving up their quest for wealth and power.  Humans are all about power.  They all want to be in control.  They get it by buying favour.  They get it by killing little men, so they can crawl on their backs, to attain what the little men don’t even dare to dream about.  Their glory is being trodden upon by those climbing over their pathetic lives.  They’re just ants, Orpheus.  And if Ares wants to play with his magnifying glass, why should anyone stop him?  It’s all humans are good for, after all, entertaining us.”  She shrugged, dismissing the entire human race with the slightest of movements of her shoulder.

“My wife isn’t an ant.  My friends aren’t ants.”  I said.

“Wife?” she laughed.  “Now you imagine that she’s your wife?  I seem to recall that she is the prize of whoever wins this challenge, and victory is very unlikely to be yours.  She is not ever going to be your wife again.”  She stepped closer to me, and stared with eyes of ice.  “My son is a god of war, Orpheus,” she spat.  “He is not one of your pathetic little musician friends.  He is not a dancing girl like those Graces.”  She curled her lips and snarled.  “He is powerful, and you will not defeat him.  Now go!  Return to those pathetic creatures and their pathetic lives.  You are not worthy to be in this realm.”


NaNoWriMo Day 27 total: 4118  (November total 41,006)

Writing furiously this evening, after a raff of medical appointments today.


forever June 23, 2012

Filed under: Mythology,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:55 pm
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“No measure of time with you will be long enough, but let’s start with forever.”

Edward’s wedding  speech

Twilight Breaking Dawn (pt 1)

Having just finished draft two of Grace Awakening Myth, this whole “I’ll love you forever, if all those evil doers keep out of my way long enough” thing has been on my mind.  Is it easier to love someone forever when you have to keep fighting for them?  If someone is just always ‘there’ and not at risk, is it too easy to take them for granted?

Here are Bella and Edward at their wedding, finally everything is going their way, but no one gets happy ever after at the beginning of a book.  Forever has to work through adversity.


Sasquatch sighting in Cinnemousun Narrows June 9, 2012

Angela, an astute reader of this blog and member of the Facebook Fan Page, has sent me a link to two reports of Shuswap Lake Sasquatch sightings filed with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization:  Angela feels this report adds credibility to the Sasquatch reports in Grace Awakening Power.

This is not the first time I have written something, only to discover that  it fit into research or recorded history.  I find it quite amazing that the reports identify sightings in almost the same places as they occur in Grace Awakening Power.

What do you think?  Is it the equivalent of ‘dry wall stilts’ as Grace had initially alleged or is there more to this than meets the eye?

Thanks Angela for freaking us out over here at!


Graces for charity May 22, 2012

Here’s a wonderful opportunity for you.  Support Rochester Minnesota Women’s Shelter by purchasing beautiful jewellery themed on the Three Graces designed by Carole Kent-Kirckof.  I just bought a bracelet.  Lovely stuff.


ballet of Orpheus May 14, 2012

Filed under: Mythology — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:42 am
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And now, for something completely different…

Pas de Deux of Orpheus and Euridike from the much acclaimed ‘timelapse/(Mnemosyne)’ created by choreographer David Dawson for Dutch National Ballet (2011)



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.


Xandros February 7, 2012


Alexandros of Macedonia aka Alexander the Great. Warrior. Emperor.
What we know of him from history reflects his excellent understanding of the strategies of war, his passionate nature, the strength of his character, his knowledge of power and how to manipulate it, his charisma.
How to translate that for a modern audience in a way that makes him an entertaining character, but is somewhat true to history? The thing about writing is, that we can re-interpret historical truth. We can manipulate facts into fantasy, and so we do.
My Xandros likely bears little resemblance to the historical figure, whom I imagine was actually much more brutal than my version. Mine is full of passion and dedication to his task, but does so with humour. He does know how to manipulate and intimidate, and uses those skills on the other men, in particular. It’s a worthy ability.
I think the real Alexandros had a dark spirit. According to Annabel Lyon’s research for her novel The Golden Mean, bred from birth to his role, blooded at an early age, it is likely Alexandros spent most of his life in a state of Post-traumatic Stress. If not, he was psychopathic or sadistic. Considering he was adored by his men, I think that is unlikely.

I’ve seen PTSD up close over the years.  It is a debilitating condition that can make emotions volatile.  Power battles insecurity.  Fear battles rage.  On the surface, a vision of self-control must be observed by all.  It reveals a deeply conflicted character, a frail human who is never safe to reveal his frailty.

When you know there is a tender heart beneath the bristling exterior, you can try to reach it.  I hope the Xandros that I’ve written shows something of this dichotomy.  Can the reader feel his heart beneath his bravado?  Can you?


Zeus January 31, 2012

Filed under: Alpha-biography,Mythology — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:43 pm
Tags: ,

This is the first entry in a  section called an “Alpha-biography.”  The exercise is to work through the alphabet, commenting on a word that connects somehow to your world.  My students are doing this in English 9 this semester, and I am modelling it by creating my own alpha-biography.  For myself, I will be focusing on how I am interpreting, synthesizing and contemplating the Greek/Roman gods as I’ve been exploring them in the process of crafting the Grace Awakening series.  (I’m working backwards, so that in the blog they’ll eventually appear A-Z instead of Z-A, as they end up ordered by time).


Sky, thunder, lightning bolts. That’s what I think of when Zeus comes to mind, and while sky can be memories basking beneath balmy blue skies, it also can mean clouds and rain or snow. Summer storms are all about power unleashed in the heavens, with a suddenness that captures boats out on the lake or starts forest fires. It’s a power that is beautiful and dangerous.
Mothers can be like that. They’re all balmy (in the British sense) where their kids are concerned. Cross them, and lightning bolts are flying, and you find yourself electrocuted and sizzling helplessly on the ground.
Sometimes people in power throw around their tempers with the sudden explosions that ruin careers, and destroy relationships. I think of Zeus that way. He is proud of his power, but tempestuous with it. He is not an even-handed administrator; he is an emotionally unstable tyrant.
It means that people have to move cautiously around him, nervously keeping their voices low, conscientiously trying to avoid offense. The problem with such people is that offense is taken, or not, without reason, so there is no hope for it.
I’ve lived with Zeus and worked for him as well off and on over the years. It’s a challenge. What joy to be in the sky beneath his radar, enjoying the sky without the storms.


Kharon drops in January 24, 2012

Further to my determination to squeeze out some writing or die trying, I thought I’d share the day’s efforts on Grace Awakening Myth (Book 3 of 4 in the Grace Awakening series).  It’s a first draft, remember.  To be honest, there are already some changes, but you’ll get the idea.  This is 1230 words.  My goal is about 1200 a day, (5 pages) or 6000 words (25 pages) a week.  That was the pace for the first 2 books in the series. 

As I sat down to write, the image in my head was of blackness.  I wrote about that while wondering exactly why it was so black, and then Kharon walked in… 

Truly, I just take dictation.  The story is just floating out there, waiting for me to listen to it.  Ben is narrating.

It’s a black night, Stygian black, as they say. That’s very black. The River Styx drifts, black as crude oil, roiling and burbling with the murmuring sibilance of thousands upon thousands of lost voices. Its thick waters seem to suck the light from the sky, and leave all around it in an inky grey wash. Kharon the boatman floats along on his ferry, pole in hand, pushing it away from the banks, gathering the departing souls and taking them safely to Hades, for the price of a coin, of course. He shows up at the stops to collect what Hermes has dropped off: the confused half-shadows, some still not quite aware that they are ghosts, reclaimed from new graves. The shades dazedly cough up their coin, and they load into the ferry as Hermes waves to them heartily and wishes them luck on the next part of their journey like some jolly tour guide. Hermes can be quite an ass. The vacuous faces hardly stir in response, though. Those without a coin are on their own to get across the Styx. If you’re on your own, you’re not going to make it across. Simple.

I shivered at the memory of that blackness and the descent into the sucking void of the underworld. This was earth though, and not the underworld. This was Grace, not Eurydice. It was a Stygian black night, though, and the oppressive gloom was creeping into my gut.

“Hey, there. Ben is it?” The low voice held a faint glimmer of amusement.

“Hello Kharon.” I nodded courteously, recognising him at once. Had my thoughts summoned him? Or was this dismal atmosphere a result of his presence? “What brings you here? You’re a little far from the river.”
“Not so far. A guy needs a bit of a break from water now and then, after all. The river flows where it needs to. It’s near enough that I can step ashore for a moment.” He looked around with interest. “I thought I’d come have a chat with you.”

“With me?” My heart stopped for a moment. “I’m honoured, of course,” I said with a polite incline of my head, “but…uh…why?”

He smiled. His long nose and slightly blue tinged skin made it a rather eerie expression. Though it was probably meant to be reassuring, it made him look a trifle morose. It didn’t lighten the mood, at any rate.

I waited while he stood ponderously thinking. His thoughts seemed to move like he was punting through them with the stick he used on the ferry. They moved slowly and methodically in one direction. Patiently was the only way to communicate with Kharon. He would not be rushed.

Finally he said, “It’s about the girl.”

I took a deep breath. “Which girl? Grace?”

He shook his head. “No. The other one.”

“Other one?”

“From before. You know. The snake bit her, and you went to Hades to try to get her out? You snuck by the dog with some singing and got everyone down there all in a mush of sentimentality with your music, and they let you take her. But something happened and she had to stay, after all.”

“I looked back.” I whispered, suddenly cold.

“Ah.” Kharon nodded sagely. “Oh right. Looking back can cause a lot of problems for a person, can’t it?”

“Apparently.” I tried to bite back the sarcastic tone in response to his unintentional understatement.

“Yeah. Well. She was at the river bank the other day when I went by, and she asked me to give you a message.”

I swallowed. Then swallowed again. My mouth was the Sahara all of a sudden. I croaked, “She asked you…to give me a message.” She had never tried to communicate with me before. Why did she need to send a message now? What did she know?

He nodded in confirmation at my dazed expression, then after making sure that I was paying attention he looked up, as if trying to recall her exact words. He cleared his throat and intoned, “She said, ‘If you have a chance to see my love, when you’re above. Tell him that the song has many verses, some rich with hate and curses, but that he deserves whatever joy, that girl can give a boy.’”

“She rhymed it?”

He shrugged. “I think she thought it’d help me remember.”


“I think she misses you,” he added. “She looked sad.”

“She’s been in the underworld for a couple of thousand years. Of course she’s sad.”

Kharon shrugged again. “Not everyone is. They get used to it. Everyone has to be there eventually after all.”

“I suppose.” It hurt to think about Eurydice. It hurt to remember that my failure doomed her to that two thousand years in the underworld. She wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t been inept. My failure. Mine. It wasn’t Kharon’s fault. “Thanks for passing along the message.”

He nodded. “I think she was afraid Hermes wouldn’t deliver it and Iris doesn’t have reception there.”

“Oh yes. Of course not. I appreciate you taking the effort.”

He stood waiting for something, with a studied nonchalance.

“Oh, wait.” I rummaged in my pockets and studied the coins. “I don’t have anything ancient. Will a twonie do?”

He eyed the polar bear on the two dollar coin dubiously. “A little on the cheap side, but whatever. Next time we meet in the Other Realm, you can top it up.” His mouth twitched in something that might have been a good-humoured smirk, but might not.

I chose to interpret it positively. “Thank you, Kharon.”

He started to stroll off with that particular, unsteady gait of sailors walking on land, and then looked back over his shoulder, “You take good care of that new girl, you hear? Don’t let looking back blind you to the possibilities ahead of you. What you’ve done before doesn’t have to bind your future.”

His words hit me like an arrow and I reverberated for a moment from the impact. When I went to answer him, he’d disappeared. With him went to ominous atmosphere of blackness, and I was able to take a deep breath again. The fresh air oxygenated my lungs and cleared my head, but his message sat heavily on my heart.

I thought of Eurydice from time to time, of course. If I was being honest with myself, it was her that made me most anxious about Grace. Eurydice was my first and greatest failure. My first love, my first wife, symbolized such an essential lack in my character that any thought of her ensured my elemental humility, despite the loud accolades about my brilliant talent. Such bone deep awareness of inadequacy is not overcome. Ever.

It is also why I am afraid that I won’t be able to protect Grace this time.

I’ll tell you a secret. I’m pretty sure that it is also why they appointed me her guardian. They don’t expect me to succeed. They think that it will appear they’re giving her a guard, when I’m actually so useless that she is doomed.
I know it.

I know it, and despite being overwhelmed with the awareness of my own inadequacies I am so damned full of pride that I’ll risk it anyway, rather than let Mars or Alexandros have the job. What kind of fool’s paradox is that?



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