Heat Wave in Rural Missouri

The sun burns sagging porches,
bleaching petunias and salvia.
The afternoon gasps its last.
From my window, nothing stirs –
I alone live, breathe.

Swooning,
I spy you strolling through a deluge of rain,
bearing me pansies and muguet,
your bowler and grey linen suit still crisp,
the last mirage before I fade – 

Knowing I exaggerate, and my demise
is not imminent in this air-cooled room
does not detract from my reverie.

The summer winds down …

I’m privileged

Being a professor means that I get a wide-open summer (well, if you subtract internship time and setting up classes for fall.) Most people don’t get that, but it’s part of the reason I became a professor. It’s a privilege I will accept gladly.

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I needed the break

After a school year of drastic COVID mitigations, life not normal, lack of a social life, talking to nobody, the summer was welcome. Unfortunately, with the Delta variant, we may go back to that soon. But at least I had this summer to recover.

I admit I’m been a bit of a hermit, writing/editing and staying cool. But it’s been a good, relaxing summer, and I’m grateful I had it at the right time.

Two weeks left

I don’t know how summer went by so fast — I’m now two weeks out from the beginning of semester meetings. I’m contemplating taking these last days napping and watching British ambulance shows on YouTube. I probably won’t do much of that, because there are projects I want to do. (Really? I can’t think of any.)

Whatever I do, I plan to make the most of these few days, and be ready for the fall semester.

I’m Back!

I spent the last couple days on hiatus because of some heavy duty editing I have had to do on my back catalog. Sooner or later I will publish them if it’s the last thing I do! Still have some to edit.

I will write something new. Maybe a short story. Maybe a novel. I need to write something new or else I’ll go crazy.

Time to go edit.

Another edit

Staring at my keyboard

I have a lot of editing to do today. Apparently I have a lot of idiosyncratic punctuation, using em-dashes instead of ellipses. I blame Emily Dickinson for that.

I never saw a Moor--
I never saw the Sea--
Yet know I how the Heather looks
And what a Billow be.

I never spoke with God
Nor visited in Heaven--
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the Checks were given--
 -- Emily Dickinson

I just always thought em-dashes are for shorter, faster, more dramatic pauses. Not true, I guess. Lots of editing in my future.

I’m weary of editing

I really am tired of editing. I know it’s necessary, but darn, this is getting tiring. I want to go forward, but I keep being pulled backward. I’m hoping a search/replace takes care of most of the problem.

Going forward

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I’m contemplating writing something new in the Archetype series — this would involve the Archetype civil war and a young human woman who has lie detection as a talent. The woman, Leah, also seems to be present at certain important episodes of Archetype life to represent The Balance. She becomes part of the unfolding history.

But first, editing.

Kel and Brother Coyote is Live!

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Kel Beemer is an intergalactic shipper. She has three rules: no passengers, no politics, and no restricted planets. When Brother Coyote hires the ship, Kel finds out he’s broken all three of the rules. Then Kel gets infected with a symbiote on Ridgeway III and she and Coyote discover a plot to take over the beauty planet. She and Brother Coyote must work together to save the planet — and the universe.

You can read it here. The first 3 episodes are free.

Have fun!

Death

I think about death sometimes

I don’t consider myself a morbid person, but I have come to realize my life will not go on forever. I think about my death — mostly my own death.

What is dying like? Will I be in pain? Will I know I’m dying? Will I die alone, or will there be people there with me? Will I die before my husband?

I don’t wonder so much about the afterlife

Religiously, I tend to be an agnostic universalist. If there’s a heaven, I imagine, all of us will find it eventually under our own gods. (Those who believe in reincarnation may take a while.) Sometimes I believe our souls become part of the universe in a great gestalt, and maybe someday we get reincarnated. I don’t believe in “my god’s better than your god” that passes for much of Christianity today. Why would ours be better?

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But what I mostly believe is that once I’m dead, I’m dead. I believe there will be a white light and a life review as my brain cells die. But after that, permanent loss of consciousness. No new life, no reward for having been good or punishment for being bad. I, in other words, won’t know I’m dead because I won’t know anything.

But I will live on

I have come to find that our lives live on in stories told about us, in the legacy we have left to our workplaces, our families, our hobbies. Someone will have an idea for a class that I have seeded. My friends will tell my stories. My books might finally be read. It’s really comforting, and that’s what we look for when we think of death, comfort in the face of a gaping maw of the unknown.

Newsletter

I have a newsletter

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I keep a newsletter for people who are interested in my writing. This may or may not be you, reader. The newsletter highlights my writing in the fantasy romance/romantic fantasy genres (which are everything I write that’s not short stories or poetry (and even those tend to be fantasy).

So if you’re interested in reading what I’m up to in the poetry area, hit me up with your email and I will get you on the newsletter list.

Have fun!

Excerpt from Prodigies

Here’s a section of the WIP I’m editing:

I peered in at the window of the restaurant and breathed a sigh of relief. The restaurant appeared both large and informal, two pluses when it came to secluding ourselves, I hoped. Golden hearth tiles accented the white walls, and pale, warm wood covered the floor, giving the place a rustic look. A small uproar greeted us at the door, its source the lively customers who took up two-thirds of the tables. Did Poles ever sleep? I wondered, realizing there would be no need for 24-hour pierogi places if they did.


Ichirou murmured anxiously, “Do you think they could find us here?” With those few words, Ichirou reminded me of the gunshots, the escape, the danger we were in.


Just then, we heard the sirens, playing a distinctly different tune than American sirens, heading in the direction of Palac Pugetow.


The hostess, middle-aged and plump with that pale Polish skin, seated us in the dining room — a large one with probably forty-some tables — toward the back as we requested. She looked at us with a brittle smile. “Do your parents know you’re out, young man?” she piped. If only she knew the reason of our outing.


“No, ma’am,” Ichirou piped up. “But it’s okay. She’s my babysitter.”

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I felt my face go red, because now the waitress was scrutinizing the both of us. “That’s good,” she said brightly.


As she exited, I scowled at the menu. “This menu is all in Polish, and I think it would take forever to translate it all.”


“Just translate the names,” Ichirou shrugged. “I translate English to Japanese and back all the time.” And with that, he had shifted from a child to the wise for his years twelve-year-old.


I picked a random item and pulled out my cell phone. “Krakow Misalliance,” I sighed. “Wasn’t that the turning point in World War I?”


“Did you just make a joke?” Ichirou scrutinized me with widened eyes.


“I think so. It’s the stress.” And the fact that, facing the front of the restaurant, I found myself watching every moment for Second World muscle.


Some fifteen minutes later, a waiter, older with reddish hair pulled in a ponytail and the grace of a ballet dancer, stepped up to our table to take our order. Ichirou muttered at me, “Wait. We don’t have any money.”


“Yes we do. Don’t worry about it,” I hissed back. “I’d like the venison pierogi,” I addressed the waiter.


“I highly recommend the Krakow Misalliance,” the waiter nodded, his English charmingly accented. Unlike the people on the street, he seemed unfazed by the Asian boy in the presence of a black woman at an impossible time in the morning.


“If you know English, why didn’t you bring English menus?” I groused.
The man shot me an angelic grin. “Because you didn’t ask.”


I almost laughed despite my banked terror. “I’ll have venison pierogi. And water to drink,” I told the obliging server.


“Still or sparkling?” the waiter smiled.


“I get a choice? I’ll have sparkling,” I replied.


“I’d like cabbage pierogi with tea,” Ichirou decided.


The waiter strolled away, and I hoped he wouldn’t chat about the obvious foreigners at the back table.


Ichirou interrogated me after the waiter had left. “How did you come up with money?” He studied me through his steel-framed glasses.


“I’m 17. I’ve been handling my own finances since last year. I have a credit card.”


“As a high school student?” Ichirou peered over his nerd glasses at me.


“As a trust fund baby.” I peered back at the youngster.


Ichirou pulled out his phone and tapped on the screen. “Trust fund baby?” He scrutinized the screen, then nodded.


“My parents died and left me money. I’m an emancipated minor. By all definitions an adult. I sued to get control of my money and won.” I could taste the bitterness of that fact on my tongue.


“I’m sorry to hear that,” Ichirou murmured.


“It’s complicated. I spent most of my life at residential schools. Music schools. I never really knew my parents as Mom and Dad.” I caught myself remembering Ichirou’s animation that made me cry, that feeling of being loved.


“That’s strange,” Ichirou replied. He paused for a moment, then spoke slowly, as if trying to piece things together. “I spent time in a boarding school, too. I knew almost nobody but Ayana. That’s why I made that animation; I needed unconditional love in my life.”


Before I could reply, the waiter came back with our drinks. Ichirou scrutinized his cup of hot water with a teabag beside it, frowning. My water came in a bottle with bubbles.


“Are you sure you don’t want the Krakow Misalliance?” the waiter smiled, reaching toward an invisible lock of hair and then stopping. “It takes a while to cook, though. Your pierogis will be out in a minute.” He wandered off, and I noted that he glanced over his shoulder at the door.


I glanced at the door again, and thankfully I didn’t see any beefy men striding through. “Do you think they’re going to find us here?”


“Hard to tell.” Ichirou took a sip of the tea brewing in his cup. “This is tea?”
“The rest of the world drinks tea just like this, Ichirou,” I smirked, then sobered.


Ichirou took a deep breath. “What happened back there? At the Palace?”
“I think they want people with talents. Not talents like mine, but talents like yours. Like what you knew would happen when I watched your video.” I remembered the feeling of peace, of unconditional love, and thought about how it could manipulate people in the wrong hands, like hypnotists could do by inducing relaxation. Only much more so. I felt angry again.


“I didn’t know for sure my program could do that,” Ichirou responded. “I thought it might. But I had to know, because it was important.”


“You tested that on me without knowing what it would do?” I hissed just as the waiter came by with our plates. Ichirou gave me a warning look.


“Venison pierogis for you,” the waiter handed me my plate with a dancer’s grace, “and cabbage pierogis for the vegetarian. Let me know if you need anything.” The waiter walked off, glancing over his shoulder again.


“So you think they’re after me because of my animation skills,” Ichirou conjectured between bites.


“Not your skills,” I whispered to him. “Whatever it is you do that makes people want to smile. Or whatever you want them to do.”


“Oh. What do they want with the others, then? With you?”


Good question, and not one I’d been able to answer. “Nastka — Anastasja — I overheard her talking to Matusiak about practicing something. Did you notice that Dominika did not mention her talent in the introductions? And the twins acted like they had contact with this bunch before, and they looked terrified.” I remembered the white faces of the children and their mother, and I remembered the gunshots as we fled the building, and wondered what their resistance had cost them. “As for me, my only talent is music; I don’t have a talent like they’re looking for.”


“We’ll see,” Ichirou responded, rubbing his chin. “You’re here.”

Re-editing

I’m re-editing my past catalogue of works to tighten them up a little. I feel like that artist my mother talked about: “It takes two people to paint a painting: the artist to paint it, and the other to slap the artist when they’re done.

I wish someone would slap me.