Archive for August, 2015


UNDERTOW, Prologue

Book Six of the SoulShares, MANTLED IN MIST, will be hitting your Kindles and landing in your Christmas stockings the first week in December. But Peri and Fiachra are far from the end of the SoulShares’ story. In fact, I just started on Sunday on UNDERTOW, Book Seven. And I’d like you to meet Rhoann, who’s a very different sort of Fae from any we’ve yet encountered…

(And if you haven’t yet started on the SoulShares journey, I’m putting a link to Book One, HARD AS STONE, at the end of this excerpt. Go ahead, you have a few months to get caught up…)

Roann2

August 16, 2013 (human reckoning)
Domhnacht Rúnda, The Realm

Rhoann corkscrewed lazily down into the shadowed depths of the gorge, his body parting the crystal water, his gleaming gray fur as slick as skin. He wouldn’t be able to stay down long, not in his seal body; salmon was better for exploring the deep places, or mer-form. He didn’t need to breathe when he wore those bodies; he was free to spend hours, days, tracing the caverns underlying his bottomless mountain-brackted refuge. But he wasn’t truly exploring; after all the long centuries, he knew every inch of Domhnacht Rúnda, the Secret Depths. He was simply reveling in his Element. And for the enjoyment of the caress of water, there was no sweeter form to wear than that of a selkie.

Rhoann Callte.

Rhoann froze. The water spoke his name. It had never done that before.

Perhaps if he dove deeper, it would stop. The light around him went from aquamarine to tourmaline to emerald; he skimmed near the face of a submerged cliff, honeycombed with tunnels.

Rhoann Callte.

The voice was female. Something like his mother’s. He thought. But it had been many years since he had heard Miren’s voice, except in dreams. And the water had never spoken with her voice. His mother had been a Water Fae, but not an elemental.

He dove deeper, into colder, darker water. But his lungs were starting to hurt. He drew in the magick of the water, and shifted; fur became scales, gills pierced the skin of his throat. Everything around him blurred, colors became bluer. The cooler water of a tunnel beckoned him, and his salmon form darted inside.

Rhoann Callte. Rhoann Lath-Ríoga. Tá thú toghairm.

The words caught him. Like a fisher’s hook sunk deep under his jaw, only without the pain Rhoann had always imagined the true fish of his mother’s stories would have felt. He thrashed, he fought; his rainbow scales clouded the water around him until the words pulled him free from his refuge and into the open water.

Thou art summoned.

***********

http://www.amazon.com/Hard-As-Stone-Book-SoulShares-ebook/dp/B00YB9RSNI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

It’s been a year…. so I thought I’d re-post this.

 

I thought maybe I was going to make it through this week without writing about depression. So many other people are speaking far more eloquently than I possibly could, there seemed to be no point to adding my voice to the chorus. Then I read a re-post, by a friend of mine, of a blog post which essentially said “Depression did not kill Robin Williams. He died by his own choice.” The original blogger went on to say that it was unfair to people suffering from depression to tell them that they had no control over their illness, that medication and therapy and spirituality were useless and that it was their neurochemistry that was going to determine whether they lived or died. That telling them this was taking away their hope. And that Robin Williams had chosen to ignore joy and hope and offers of help. Had chosen to let his illness win. The implication being that he had been free to choose otherwise. I knew in my heart that while there were certain points of truth in that post, from my perspective, it was basically, fundamentally wrong. But I didn’t want to post anything until I had in my head a clearer idea of what was wrong about it. Now I do.

First, I guess it’s kind of obligatory to establish my credentials, to be speaking about this subject at all. That’s hard to do, because to fully explain myself would require me to tell several stories that aren’t mine to tell. So I’m going to have to ask you, dear readers, to trust me a little, here. My part of the story, I can tell you. I’ve suffered from depression since the age of 17, had what I think was a nervous breakdown at 29. I was off antidepressant medication for most of my forties (kind of a miracle, given that my forties were also The Entire Freaking Decade of Perimenopause) but had to go back on for a while when my father died unexpectedly, three days before I turned fifty, and I found myself staring off into space during a dance class I was supposed to be teaching, wondering why the hell I should bother getting up out of my chair. As for the rest, yes, I have been affected, deeply so, by the suicide attempts of several people very dear to me. Affected to the point where my therapist tells me I have most of the symptoms of PTSD. So I think I can speak from the perspectives of both the depressive and the ones who are (nearly, in my case) left behind.

Addressing the original blog post: It would be wrong, yes, to tell someone with depression “This illness is going to kill you.” Just as it would be wrong to say the same thing to someone with cancer. But that’s only true when you’re talking to the living. It’s another matter entirely when you’re talking about the dead. To tell someone with depression who is still living, “You have control, you have a choice,” is at least arguably true, and may be helpful, may give them strength. (Although it could have the opposite effect, more about which in a minute.) But to say of someone who has taken his own life (I’m sticking with the male pronoun here for the sake of simplicity and in deference to Mr. Williams) “It was his choice, not his illness,” is passing judgment, when we have no idea what was in his mind in his final moments. I know there are people out there who call themselves Christians who have no trouble with that notion. But my Christ is the one who said “Judge not,” and I try to honor that. Yes, even though I was nearly left behind twice.

We don’t know what kind of pain Mr. Williams was in, in those final moments. We’re slowly starting to come to some kind of societal consensus, I think, that someone who is in unbearable physical pain and sees no hope of respite may be justified in choosing to end that pain. Why do we assume that emotional, spiritual, mental agony is easier to live with? Or that there’s some kind of special moral imperative that emotional pain can never be too much? Might it not be true, at least in some cases, that we are the ones who are being selfish, if we sit in judgment on someone who is suffering, emotionally or spiritually or mentally, beyond what he can bear, and tell him that he is being weak and cowardly by not staying alive for OUR sakes? And if it’s true in some cases, then it stands to reason that we can’t know for certain whether it was true in the case of any particular individual who takes his own life. Judge not.

And I mentioned earlier, it might NOT always be a good idea to remind a living person with depression that he has control over his illness. Every person with depression is different, at least in some ways. And purely from my own perspective, when I’m at a low point, nothing makes me feel like more of a failure than the thought that I SHOULD be controlling this, I’m ABLE to control this, I’m just such a total fuck-up that I CAN’T control this. I’ve failed at everything else, now I’m failing at being in charge of my own thoughts and emotions. It’s just one more judgment against me, one I’m entirely ready to believe when I’m that low. Not all depressives think like I do. I know this. And if someone has let you know that this sort of reminder is helpful to them, then go for it. But please, don’t sit in judgment on the dead.

Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD is, to me, the most perfect description of depression ever written. The blasted landscape through which the father and the son travel in that book is a pitch-perfect externalization of the internal landscape of depression. Bleak, hopeless, colorless, a world in which the most valuable piece of wisdom a father can pass to a son is the proper technique to blow one’s brains out with a single shot before the cannibals turn you into meat on the hoof, and in which finding a place of rest and respite is a terrible thing because you know it will be stolen from you. Yet, ultimately, it speaks of hope, a hope that the reader has to accept because it’s not a pretty hope, a unicorns and rainbows hope, it’s a hope almost as desolate as the despair that came before it. Because (spoiler alert!) the father dies. But… he brought his son to a place where he would be taken in and cared for before he died. Ultimately, his best was good enough. Everything he had was enough.

Who are we to say, in the end, that Robin Williams didn’t give everything he had? Or that it wasn’t enough? Rest in peace, Genie. And may someone, somewhere, be making YOU laugh.Genie

 

 

 

 

VolykHuman

VolykWolf

I’d like you all to meet Volyk. He’s an oboroten’, a uniquely Russian kind of shape-shifter, and he first made his appearance in my Dreamspinner Advent Calendar story, “Ilya and the Wolf.” Now I’m almost finished turning Volyk and Ilya’s story into a novella, “Wolf, Becoming”. And I wanted to share part of that story with you. The short story didn’t give me room to show you Ilya’s first shape-shift. But now I have world enough, and time. And here it is.

*****

Ilya shivered in the narrow opening, his skin pebbled with goose-bumps despite the two sets of arms wrapped around him, his own and Volyk’s. “At least there’s no wind.”

Volyk didn’t seem bothered by the cold; his tanned skin was smooth under its varicolored dusting of hair. “Would you like me to go first, so you can see it happen? Or would you prefer I wait for you?”

“I think… I need to see. To know.”

Volyk nodded. “Then watch. It happens quickly.”

A kiss, and he withdrew his arms, stepping away from Ilya and out into the snow-brightened sunlight.

Even warned, Ilya almost missed what happened. It was as if a silver veil, one invisible until now, was pulled away. And as the veil fell away, Volyk changed. As if he plunged into some invisible fall of water as a man, and emerged as the great wolf Ilya barely remembered.

Yet he was the same. It was Volyk who looked up at him, his eyes burning amber, his ears pricked forward and his tail arched up over his back. His Volyk.

Impossible to doubt. Not quite impossible to be afraid… but Ilya set his fear aside. Time for a new life.
No. He had already found his new life. This…

…this was Christmas morning. A gift.

He could feel it happening, as he stepped out. He hadn’t expected that. Maybe the first time took longer. Or maybe it was different, for a man who had never been a wolf. Like unexpectedly deep water. Trying to breathe, drawing in nothing. Falling.

Not falling. He stared, stunned, at paws, his own paws, white paws crunching into new snow.

#You take my breath, wolf-mine.#

The voice was in his head. It was Volyk’s.

Ilya turned his head, wondering at the way his whole upper body turned with it. Volyk was watching him, amber eyes blazing; fur of black and brown and gray and cream was scattered with silver light.

#Volyk?# He took a step toward the wolf. Another. Another. Stopped, confused, as three feet obeyed his command to walk. The fourth joined them, and he sat down hard in the snow.

#What is it?# Volyk’s whiskers pricked forward. Ilya thought he looked amused.

#I have too many feet.#

Volyk threw back his head and laughed, silently, his breath forming crystalline clouds in the still air. The not-sound was so joyous, Ilya couldn’t help but join in, even as he blushed. Or did whatever it was wolves did when they were embarrassed.

#I think that problem should pass quickly.# Yes, the wolf was smiling, and not only with his inner voice. #I had the same trouble when I first changed.#

Ilya nodded, and this time the strangeness of the movement was less. #Going from four legs to two must have been harder than from two legs to four.#

#Here.# Volyk turned and bounded away, plowing a furrow through the new snow. Maybe twenty meters off, he stopped and turned back, his forepaws splayed, his tail fanning the air. He looked like a great playful dog. #Come to me, wolf-mine.#

Ilya tried to bound. His first few attempts landed him face-first in the snow. He didn’t mind, not when the reward for his attempts was more of Volyk’s rich laughter. And by the time he reached the varicolored wolf, he had figured out how to make his back end and his front end cooperate.

At least, until Volyk hit him broadside and rolled him over and over in the snow, still laughing. Snow flew, snow clung to his fur, a warm muzzle rubbed against his.

At last they came to rest, tumbled in the snow. #Wolf-mine,# Volyk murmured, the fire in his eyes bright enough to see even in the full daylight.

#Wolf-mine.# The thought was alien, but not, and wonderful. A shiver ran down Ilya’s spine, ending in a strange twitching feeling. At the very edge of his field of vision, something moved. Something that shouted ‘prey’, begged to be pounced on. Ilya leaped.

Volyk rolled in the snow, unable to contain his laughter, as Ilya chased his new tail, around and around.