Shawn L. Bird

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

common denominator April 9, 2013

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:15 am
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I am

the common denominator

in my life.

If trouble comes

time

after time

after time,

relationship

after relationship

after relationship,

What each event

has in common

is me.

.

In Grace Awakening Power, Bright tells Grace that she is the common denominator to the problems.  It’s not that it’s Grace’s fault that bad things happen to her, but they aren’t happening to other people, they’re happening to her, and it’s something in her that brings the trouble.

I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately and wondering how to change the factors that result in the common denominator of my experience.  How about you?  Can you see how changing one or two things could change your experiences in a profound way?

PS. If find it very interesting that when centred, this poem took the shape of a punching bag.  You punch these bags, and they whip right back at you.  It seems full of profound symbolism. How do you interpret it?

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living dangerously- the latest NaNo snippet November 28, 2012

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:42 pm
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Things are heating up!

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I don’t care how nice her shoes are, she’s stupid.” Tanis said, clenching her teeth as she set her cafeteria tray down on the table.

“I’m sure she doesn’t mean anything by it,” Georgia said, sliding in beside her.

Tanis’s eyes flashed.  “I think she definitely means something by it.”  She glared at Georgia, “You should be worried.  It is your boyfriend she was just making out with.”

Georgia shrugged.

“Ryan is no Ben, Georgia.  He was kissing her back.  You understand that, don’t you.”

Paul looked at me, but I just shrugged.  I wasn’t wading into the middle of this debate.

I looked around for Grace, but there was no sign of her.  I sat down beside Paul.

“I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation, Tanis.  Ryan isn’t stupid.”

Tanis snorted.

Georgia inhaled and looked over at me.  “Tell them, Ben.”

“Why do you think I know something?”

“You always seem to have an inside track.  People talk around you.  So?  What do you know?”

I shrugged.  “I have no idea what is going on with Misty.”

“It’s like she’s turned into someone else,” muttered Paul.  “Some crazy nymphomaniac or something.”

I lifted a brow at that.  There were certainly draughts and spells that could do that.  Who would be behind it, though?

“You’re thinking love potion, perhaps?” Tanis said, rolling her eyes.

Ryan slid onto the seat next to Paul and leaned across the table to Georgia, “Now before you condemn me, hear me out.”

Tanis gave him a ‘let me scrap you off the bottom of my shoe, first’ look.

He was focused on Georgia, as if the rest of us weren’t there.

“I don’t have a thing for Misty.”

“You’ll make out with anything with breasts, you pig,” said Tanis.

Georgia scowled at her.

“Maybe even without breasts,” Paul observed nonchalantly.

Ryan scowled at him, then turned back to Georgia.  “I don’t know what happened.  I was just minding my own business, and suddenly there was a tongue in my mouth!”

Tanis scoffed.  “Right.  Like that’s possible.”

I coughed, “Actually…”

Tanis shook her head.  “You saw him.  He was kissing her back.”

“I couldn’t help it!” Ryan exclaimed, wide-eyed.  “I did it automatically.  It’s not as if I like her or anything!”

“You are so dead,” muttered Paul with a whistle.

.

NaNoWriMo day 28: 3006 words  (November total: 44,012)

NaNoWriMo day 29: 3002 words (November total: 47,014)

This is a ridiculous pace!  Working all day and writing for 4 or 5 hours off and on all evening is exhausting!  Only 2986 tomorrow to finish the challenge though!  Yay! 🙂

 

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:

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“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.”

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

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

 

cheap thrills November 25, 2012

I am still new enough to this whole writing/publishing thing, to be thrilled and amazed by the every day aspects of it.

There are three copies of Grace Awakening Dreams & Power presently in circulation in our library system.  I check periodically to see whether they’re signed out.  It makes me ridiculously happy that so far, whenever I’ve checked, all three copies have been signed out, and there is a waiting list. 🙂

According to the Okanagan Regional Library website:  “Established in 1936, the ORL serves over 360,000 people across an area covering 59,600 square kilometres through 29 branches. We also offer various services online through our website. Membership is FREE to people within our library regions, giving you access to the 16th largest library in Canada.”

One copy is at the Mission branch.  I attended Okanagan Mission Secondary.  It makes me happy to know that kids who attend my high school are reading my book!    Another copy is at the Armstrong branch.  At the moment, I teach at Pleasant Valley Secondary in Armstrong.  It’s a really lovely place.  The third copy is in Westbank aka West Kelowna.  I have never been in a high school in West Kelowna, but if anyone wants to invite me, I’d be happy to come! 🙂

If you would like to read Grace Awakening Dreams and Power but don’t have the 99c for the ebook or $20 for the paperback, why not request it from your local library?  If they don’t have it, they might put out an inter-library loan request for it, or they might buy it for their collection.  Share the love!

Just for fun, here’s a presentation made by the OKM Media class for your entertainment: OKM Gangnam Style

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(It being a small world, while I don’t personally know the camera man/editor, Harrison Mendel, my parents were best friends with his grandparents back in the day, and I knew his dad, uncle and aunt.  This tenuous link between the past and present also makes me happy. 😉 )

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NaNoWriMo Day 25: 1819    (November total 35,351)

(par is 41,650 so I’m 6299 behind.  I have 5 days to get 14,650 words.  Wish me luck!)

 

snippet of Grace Awakening Destiny November 17, 2012

I am brain numb today (still in recovery from our short week, and from  combing the internet for summer writing options in Provence into the wee hours last night).  As a result I can’t think of a thing to say.  In such a circumstance, sharing a snippet of the NaNoWriMo project on the go seems like a good solution, so here is something for your reading pleasure.  This is a first draft of Ben’s perspective on the infamous concert scene, set at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver:

.

It was my turn.

Kraft called my name and smiled at me from the podium.

I stepped onto the stage.

Kraft asked me about the inspiration for the song and I looked right through the blackness and into Grace’s eyes when I replied, “I wrote this piece as a celebration of the kind of love that can not be stopped by time, the kind of love that makes the universe worth inhabiting.”

The Bösendorfer grand piano gleamed in the stage lights like an ocean reflecting city lights.  I sat down on the bench, positioned my hands, and nodded at Kraft.  He nodded to the violins and marked the down beat.

My song told the story of my search for Grace.  The strings wept my loneliness and longing for her.  The flutes danced into the melody in little trills of hope, those moments when I thought she was near.  Then I struck the keys of the piano and told of her appearance in my life, her rejection, her tentative interest, her fearful denials.  I wound the music with my fears for her and my joy in her.  A flute played the recorder part from the picnic when she’d accepted her ancient wedding ring from me.  The woodwinds laughed with the joy of her acknowledgment of our love.  I set my hands on my lap as the percussion beat out the danger and the brass howled my frustration and pain.  Then I started playing again, pouring my hope and adoration through my fingers and out onto the strings of piano.  My love rolled out from the piano and filled the hall with dreams and hope, and then I hit the final chord and dropped my head onto my chest, emotionally exhausted.

Like they had been at the end of Jilly’s composition, the audience sat, silently.

I stood up and turned to the audience.  I kissed the tips of my fingers and extended my arm toward Grace.  Her love filled my mind.  I bowed to the still silent audience, as tears of grateful adoration clouded my vision.

Grace  leaned over the railing of the balcony, stretching out her arm as if she could reach me.  Tears were pouring down her face.

Suddenly, in a single tsunami wave, the audience rose to its feet and began to applaud.  Applaud and applaud.  It went on and on, clapping and clapping.

The announcer touched my arm and guided me to the other competitors.

I sat there as the audience continued to applaud.

The announcer stood waiting, trying to speak, but completely [overcome] by the crowd who were not ready yet to stop.

Wesford Kraft came over and shook my hand.

The announcer smiled at me in awkward acknowledgement and clapped his own hands.  He had me stand once more and bow, and finally the crowd gradually stopped and took their seats again.  He thanked the other contestants with a smile, told the crowd that the special long piece commissioned for tonight from the winner of last year’s competition would be performed after the intermission.  They would announce the winner of the this year’s competition afterwards.  He thanked Wesford Kraft for conducting and Kraft bowed to polite applause, and left the stage.

My heart was thudding so hard it was filling the room.

The house lights were turned back up and I glanced up to the Dress Circle.  Bright was beaming down at me.  Grace had disappeared.

I started up the aisle toward the lobby, people parted, smiling and thumping me on my back as I went.

In the lobby Grace flew at me in her flowing red dress like a shooting flame of longing.  She fired into my thoughts all her joy, excitement, and love.  I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her, devouring her presence greedily.

The world fell away as we collapsed into ourselves, hearts, heads, and hands consumed in the bliss of physical presence at long last.

Grace gasped for air and we pulled apart, staring into each other eyes, our minds full of the euphoria of togetherness.

I looked around and realized that a crowd had gathered around us, beaming in amusement.  I took half a step back, slightly embarrassed, and they applauded again with enthusiastic approval.  Grace buried her head in my shoulder and I laughed, hugging her tightly.

The lights flicked to send us back to our seats, and I pulled her along with me to the front row.  The others just grinned at us, and Jilly Tomm from Saskatchewan slid over one chair.

I was feeling very little appreciation for arm rests as we cuddled together when the lights went down.  I knew that in the overflow of stage lighting we would be silhouetted for the entire theatre to see, and so I tried to be circumspect, when all I wanted to do was throw her onto the ground and make wild, passionate love to her.  We hadn’t done that this life-time, and this truly wasn’t the place, but it didn’t stop me from wanting it.  I nestled down to kiss her neck, and she made tantalizing little noises.  They were an interesting cross between a squeak and a purr.  They didn’t help my composure.

The orchestra played its accompaniment to our blissful entwining of affection, adoration, euphoria, and lust.

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NaNoWriMo report.

Day 17 words:  2570                    (November Total 27,515)

True confession.  I have changed my NaNo time zone to Midway Island.  That gives me three extra hours to write before NaNo closes down the day.  Since I tend to do my writing after midnight, this is a great help!

 

So, whatcha writin’ in that NaNoWriMo thing, anyway? November 6, 2012

Thought you might like to see what’s coming along.  Ben is now at University of Calgary with his friends Paul and Ryan.  (Craigie Hall is the music building). Grace is living in the Shuswap with her Auntie Bright.  If you’re new to the story, you should know that Grace and Ben are connected telepathically.  Ben is the earthly realm form of the demi-god Orpheus.  He’s narrating.

—————————————————————–

I was walking down a corridor in Craigie Hall when a stab of pain crashed into my head.  I staggered into the wall, and grabbed for support.

A girl rushed over to me, “Are you okay?”

I shook my head, gasping, and she guided me to a bench.  I dropped my head between my knees.  “I’ll be okay.  It’s fine.”  The pain wasn’t mine, it was reverberating from Grace.  She didn’t know yet how to completely control her side of our connection.  Her calls to me were generally hesitant and gentle.  I had to be fully open to catch her tentative yearnings in my direction.  This time, her anguish exploded with her full power.  Without any guards up against it, she had blown me over with the image that was filling her head: a girl with brightly coloured hair, twisted into dreadlocks in the hallway of her school.

“Grace!”  I shouted back into her mind.

“Everything is okay, Ben,” she thought in reply.

“Who was that?” or what was that?  It was something from the Other Realm, that was clear enough, but what was it doing in Grace’s new school?  Had they followed her and sent something evil to attack her there?  It was supposed to be safe there!

“I don’t know.  What are you worried about, Ben?”

“Nothing,” I spit out. I needed help.  Grace needed help.  Right now.  I’ll talk to you later.”

I pushed into the men’s washroom.  Thankfully it was empty.  I spun into the Other Realm igniting the room with light as I vanished.  In the flashing glow, I didn’t notice that someone had pushed through the door.

“Mars!” I shouted into the Other Realm.  “Where are you!” 

Alexandros sauntered out from the foggy gloom.  “He’s busy.”

“What do you mean busy?  He’s needed.  Something is wrong in the Shuswap.  Grace is in trouble.”

Xandros nodded, pursing his lips.  “Ah yes.  We figured that would happen.”

“What do you mean?” I snarled at him, nostrils flaring.  “You knew?”

“Calm down.  This is exactly why you make such a terrible guardian.  You lose all sense when there’s danger.   You have to be cool and cautious when there’s trouble.  You can’t go all wild and hysterical.”  He shook his head at me.

“Well, I’m not a guardian anymore, am I?  Mars is.  And he’s missing!”

Xandros punched me, hard in the bicep. 

I raised my fist to return a shot, but his guard was up, and he caught it easily in his fist.  “You’re such an idiot,” he said, holding my fist tightly in his.  “Where do you think Mars is?”

“What?”  I loosened the tension in my arm, and he let my fist go.  “Is he at Grace’s school?”

Xandros rolled his eyes.  “He’s doing his job, O.  Now it’s time for you to leave Grace in our hands.  You go back to Earth and do your job.  Go back to your nest of musicians and make pretty melodies.

I narrowed my eyes at him.

“He’s guarding her?”

He nodded.  “She’s in good hands.”

“Better than mine, you mean?”

He smirked.  “You said it, I didn’t.  Go on.  It’s under control.”

I studied his face.  He was an irritating, obnoxious ass, but he was reliable in a fight.  Between Mars and Alexandros, Grace was in better hands than she’d been when I was her guardian.  It just wasn’t easy to trust the girl I loved out of my sight, though.  Not when either of them would happily take her from me for themselves.

I nodded.  “All right then.  Thank you.”

I spun back into the washroom, narrowly missing landing with my foot in an unflushed toilet.  As I  stepped off the rim a voice greeted me.

“Are you going to tell me what the hell that’s about?”

I snapped my head to the speaker and sighed, “Hi, Paul.”

He raised an eyebrow.  “Hello.  Don’t change the subject.”

“Is there a subject?”

“Well, apparently my best friend can vanish in flashes of light and reappear in toilets like some kind of janitorial Superman.  I’d say that’s a pretty interesting subject.”

I swallowed.  “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain…” I intoned in a hypnotic voice, “You didn’t see anything…”

“Bullshit,” he said conversationally.

“Paul.”

“We’ve been friends for what?  Four years?  We’ve been there for each other.  You help me out.  I help you out.  Never once did you ever mention that you had magical powers.”

“You believe in magical powers?  I could have sworn you were more sensible than that.  Do you believe in fairies, too?”

“Nope.  But I saw you come into this room.  When I opened the door, I saw that weird light.  You were glowing and then it…swallowed you.  You were no longer in the room.  I looked.  I even lifted up the lid on the damned toilet tank, Ben!  You were not here.  Then there’s another flash, and there you are, pulling your foot out of a toilet bowl like you were visiting the Ministry of Magic or something .  I know what I saw, bro.”  He crossed his arms across his chest and watched me.   His face showed confusion, irritation, and just a little bit of fear.  “You weren’t at the Ministry of Magic, were you?”

I sighed.  “I can’t explain, Paul.”

“Is it something to do with Grace?”

Wasn’t everything to do with Grace?  I took a deep breath.  “You have to trust me, Paul.  I can’t tell you anything about this.  It’s not safe for you to know anything.”

“So Ryan was right?  We are in danger around you?”

I shrugged my shoulders.  “I don’t know what the hell is going on here.  It makes no sense.  No one should be after me.  They’re still after Grace, that’s for certain.  You should be safe with me, but you might not be if you know everything.  Like who I am.”

He studied me, reading my eyes to see if I was lying to him.  “Who you are or what you are?”

I raised my hands is silent appeal.

Finally, he nodded, and unfolded his arms.  “We’re late for [ subject ] class.  Come on.”  He pushed open the door.

“Thanks.”

He nodded.  “We’ve been friends for four years, after all.  That’s got to be worth something.”

I smiled.  “It is.  I’ve never lied to you Paul.  I’m not starting now.”

“Good.”

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NaNoWriMo total for day 6: 589  words (November total: 9013)

 

How’d it go at SIWC? October 25, 2012

Filed under: Grace Awakening Myth,OUTLANDERishness,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:13 am
Tags: , , , ,

Prior to SIWC this year, I kept focusing on the excitement of meeting Diana Gabaldon, and completely ignoring the fact that the MOST IMPORTANT thing at these conferences is pitching to agents and publishers!

Aside from my 15 minutes  of blue pencil time with Diana discussing her suggestions and observations about Grace Beguiling, I did pitch Grace Awakening Myth to two agents: one from New York, and the other from Toronto.  I met with the NY agent on Friday, and the TO agent on Sunday.

After the pitch, both agents quizzed me on various plot elements, character descriptions, conflict development, etc., and both requested the first 50 pages of the manuscript.

One thing I found quite interesting was that the New York agent was intrigued with the story, and offered no opinions with respect to the setting, but the Canadian editor asked me if I’d consider changing the Calgary setting to “an anonymous North American city.”   Isn’t that ironic?  The New York agent didn’t care, but the Toronto one wanted to remove the Canadian element?

At the moment I’m in recovery from my sleep deprivation, but in the next day or two (after my brain recharges), I’ll take another look at the beginning of the manuscript focusing on some of the things I learned in workshops, and on Diana Gabaldon’s observations with respect to the other manuscript (general observations to keep in mind), before I send Myth off to see whether it makes some new friends.

 

 
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