Shawn L. Bird

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

poem-filled May 16, 2015

I’m filled with words

Your words.

My words.

Our words.

A story concocted in laughter.

A story unraveling fears.

A story exploding conjecture.

A story that brings forth your tears.

I am filled with our words

softly spoken

I am filled with our words

shouted loud

I am filled with our words

barely whispered

I am filled with our words

lacking sounds.

Your words.

My words.





Enjoying a lovely weekend with amazing authors like Charles De Lint, Kathryn Para, Anne De Grace at the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival.  Collected a lovely certificate and cheque for a writing contest prize, as well. 🙂


quote- magic of creation April 30, 2015

Filed under: Quotations,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:13 pm
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We all have magic, it’s all around us as well.  We just don’t pay attention to it.  Every time we make something out of nothing, that’s an act of magic.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a painting or a garden, or an abuelo telling his grandchildren a tall tale.  Every time we fix something that’s broken, whether it’s a car engine or a broken heart, that’s an act of magic.

And what makes it magic is that we choose to create or help, just as we can choose to harm.  But it’s so easy to destroy and so much harder to make things better.  That’s why doing the right thing makes you stronger.

If we can only remember what we are and what we can do, nobody can bind us or control us.

Charles de Lint  The Mystery of Grace p. 235

I was reading this book tonight and was struck by this passage.  I will share it with my Creative Writing class tomorrow.  This is what it’s all about.  The magic of creating something from nothing.  It’s about crafting worlds from electrical charges firing in the brain, such sparks are magic in its purest form: undeniable..


we are the music May 24, 2011

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:24 am
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See, when you get down to the basics of it, everything’s just molecules vibrating. Which is what music is, what sound is, vibrations in the air. So we’re all part of that music and the worthier it is, the more voices we can add to it, the better we all are.”

~Charles de Lint in Moonlight and Vines. p. 33

(I told you I’d have something to say about this eventually, didn’t I?)

I am fascinated by music therapy.  You may be thinking of the research that shows how music connects for Altzheimer’s patients, but that’s not what I mean.  

In the harp community research has been done on how sound waves align cells, and can induce healing at the molecular level.  It’s rather profound and quite amazing.  Playing the harp is a rather meditative thing.  With your legs and arms wrapped around the sound box , the sound waves travel through your body.  You can feel it.  Certain notes can make your head tingle or your spine stretch.  You can feel the music reaching inside your arms and legs and relaxing or awakening your body.  This is why harp therapy exists.  With a harp tuned in a pentatonic scale (five notes, all complimentary) it is impossible to make any dissonance, and even bed-bound patients can hold a small harp against their chest, strumming or plucking and absorbing those sound waves.

Some innovative hospitals include such therapy in their medical teams.

Sonic therapy, The Harps of Lorien, and International Harp Therapy are just some of the projects that explore the magic and mystery of this form of healing and transition therapy.  I’m so glad that I have my harps and have the opportunity to sit and absorb the science of the universe whenever I want.

Music is a miracle and we are part of its resonance in the world.


♪ kind, kind, kind vibrations ♪ May 17, 2011

Here is a lovely thought from fantasy author Charles de Lint that fits with the kindness assignment my grade 7s are working on this week:

“It’s funny what a difference a positive attitude can have. When you go out of your way to be nice to people, or do something positive for those who can’t always help themselves…it comes back to you. I don’t mean you gain something personally. It’s just that the world becomes a little bit of a better place, the music becomes a little more upbeat, and how can you not gain something from that?

See, when you get down to the basics of it, everything’s just molecules vibrating. Which is what music is, what sound is, vibrations in the air. So we’re all part of that music and the worthier it is, the more voices we can add to it, the better we all are.”

~Charles de Lint in Moonlight and Vines. p. 33.

What more can I add to Mr. de Lint’s words?

(Well, I will add something eventually, but for now, let’s just absorb his brilliance).


border crossings January 25, 2011

Filed under: Reading — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:49 pm
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She had stood in one of those rare border crossings between the past and the future where one is aware—so aware—that the decision about to be made will change everything. (Charles de Lint’s Memory and Dream, p. 69)

I’m just thinking about milestones.  You know, the mid-life crisis kind of moments when you look at your  life and you think the crucial questions:

  • Is this where I wanted to be?
  • Is this what I wanted to be doing?
  • Is this what I wanted to be feeling?

If the answer to any of those questions in no, then it’s the time to stand on the corner and study the other directions that you could go.  If you don’t like where you’re headed, if you don’t like what you’re doing.  if you don’t like what you’re feeling, then it’s time to take charge of your life and head in a new direction.

Sometimes your heart in your throat and the weight on your shoulder try to force you to stay on the familiar, painful path.  If you’re not happy there, why keep walking it?  If you’re not the person you want to be, you are the only one who has the power to transform into the true self lurking beneath the surface.  

Take hold of your future.  Put your feet on a new path and embrace the adventure of discovery.  Despite all the fears that have held you back from attaining the true connection and the true joy you hve longed for, you may discover a world of fulfillment unbelievably better than what you had before.  Even though you couldn’t imagine more, your new path may lead you to a bounty of joy that you couldn’t conceive of previously.

Look around the cross roads, step over the border into a new life.


reality and fiction June 18, 2010

…the difference between fiction based on reality and fantasy is simply a matter of range. The former is a handgun. It hits the target almost close enough to touch, and even the willfully ignorant can’t deny that it’s effective. Fantasy is a sixteen-inch naval rifle. It fires with a tremendous bang, and it appears to have done nothing and to be shooting a nothing.

Note the qualifier “appears.” The real difference is that with fantasy—and by that I mean fantasy which can simultaneously tap into a cosmopolitan commonality at the same time as it springs from an individual and unique perspective. In this sort of fantasy, a mythic resonance lingers on—a harmonious vibration that builds in potency the longer one considers it, rather than fading away when the final page is read and the book is put away. Characters discovered in such writing are pulled from our own inner landscapes…and then set out upon the stories’ various stages so that as we learn to understand them a little better, both the monsters and the angels, we come to understand ourselves a little better as well. (Charles de Lint. Memory and Dreams. p. 323)

I wish de Lint’s words were my own, because they’re so profound. Consider: “harmonious vibration that builds in potency.” Oh how I hope that Grace Awakening offers the reader such a lingering mythic resonancy! How I hope that as they grow to understand my characters, they understand themselves better, just as I have grown from the process.

When someone asks why on Earth I chose to write a novel with a fantasy twist, I want to be answer as eloquently as this! I am reminded of Bella’s comment in New Moon, “Could a world really exist where ancient legends went wandering around the borders of tiny, insignificant towns, facing down mythical monsters? Did this mean every impossible fairy tale was grounded somewhere in absolute ghost truth? Was there anything sane or normal at all, or was everything just magic and stories?” (p. 293) When it became clear that the story I had to tell required me to embrace myth, it was an epiphany. Once the mythology began to weave between the lines, my words flew beyond me. They started unfurling so much more than the germ I’d started with. Mythology reveals great truth, and I learned a lot from Grace and Ben, Jim and Bright, and the others in their world.  I suspect there is much more to learn.

I’m really looking forward to hearing what sorts of things the rest of you learn from Grace et al. If you’ve read Grace Awakening, I’d love to hear what harmonious vibration is resonating with you.


Dreams and names June 5, 2010

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Literature,Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:51 am
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Names…had potency. They pulled their owners in their wakes, the way that dreams can, the way you can wake up from sleep and believe that what you dreamed actually occurred. And even later, even when you realized the mistake, it was difficult to re-adjust your thinking.
But if dreams were potent, names were more so, especially the ones people chose for themselves. They might grow into the ones that were given to them, through the familiarity of use, if nothing else, but the ones they chose defined who they were like an immediate descriptive shorthand. (Charles de Lint. Memories and Dreams. p. 298)

Dreams touch us in diverse ways. Dreams of the bizarre, the hoped for, the feared all make appearances in our sub-conscious while we sleep. Usually they remain hidden, but if we come close to waking, to touching reality, then the conscience learns of their existence. When dreams touch awareness, then we touch the mystery and must sleuth out meaning or embrace the mystery. While the fears that wake us screaming in the night can paralyze us, we can also allow our subconscious to use dreams challenge us, inspire us or help us break through to a brilliant neural network of solutions

I often go to bed with a problem on my mind and awake to the solution fully formed. I have gone to bed thinking about right hand melody and left hand accompaniment patterns that would not go together.  The next morning I’ve sat down at the harp and played the previously impossible on the first try. The subconscious is amazingly useful when we harness the power. The dream does actually occur in these cases, contrary to De Lint’s suggestion, because the dreams create reality.

Just like dreams, names are powerful. We gift our children with names that we hope they will live up to. My daughter’s name means “strong and womanly.”  I think she has definitely grown into her name. My son’s name means “victory of the people” and I like the notion that his successes will help others. My name, a derivative of John, means “God’s gracious gift.” I was raised as a precious arrival, and definitely felt blessed and appreciated. Shawn is also, of course, more commonly a male name. Aside from the incorrectly addressed mail and being assigned to the all male dorm at college youth weekend, it hasn’t proven too problematic, at least since getting over the angst of youth. Perhaps I’m more inclined to celebrate the feminine with jewelery and shoes to counter the masculinity of the name.  I think male Shawns are quite different from female Shawns, and that’s an interesting concept! As De Lint says, the name I chose is perhaps more potent because it is a huge choice to join individual identity in the union of marriage.

The names of the characters in Grace Awakening are carefully chosen. The names reflect the characters’ roles and personalities, or are small salutes to special people. I spent hours and hours on name sites getting the perfect name for each one. The names frame the personalities. Click on the Grace Awakening site and scroll to the sub-pages at the bottom to see articles about this.

How does your name define who you are? Have you changed your name? Would you change your name? Why? Why not?


Fiction is truth May 11, 2010

Biographies bore me. I don’t care how insightful a biographer is, no one knows what’s going on inside someone else’s head. Autobiographies bore me, too, because we lie to ourselves even more than a biographer does. Here’s what I think the bottom line is: if you’re looking for truth, try fiction…. I’ve always believed that the lies we use to make our fictions reveal the truth with far more honesty than any history or herstory or life story. (Charles de Lint, Memory and Dreams, p. 186)

I love this book and over time here in the blog I’ll visit some of the many quotations I recorded. This Canadian fantasy writer has some brilliant observations.

When I was at a writing workshop with Gail Anderson-Dargatz last fall, she commented on how sometimes truth is too strange to make into a book. Think about that. She meant that truth really is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to be plausible. A reader will suspend belief just so far, and if an author pushes them too far past that, they dismiss it. Is this the ‘creative’ part of creative non-fiction? The population really can’t handle the truth. (This is too much cliché, isn’t it?)

Like de Lint intimates, fiction reveals truth. I know it. My novel is fiction. Mostly. It started as a true story, but then Grace shoved me out of the way and had her own story to tell. Grace’s biography isn’t my autobiography, but we do have a lot in common. There are lots of people who have read the manuscript and were able to recognize some of my secrets lurking between the pages. Some of the most bizarre moments on the pages are the truest, but you won’t believe it, so it’ll be okay.


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