Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was an old lady who lived in a little cottage in the woods. One day, when she was out collecting sticks for her fire, she noticed a baby, wrapped up and left under a shelter of leaves by the stream. The woman looked around but could see no one, so she went over and picked the baby up. He was a strange looking child with a wide face, big teeth and wild hair. His right eye was blue and his left eye was green and she realised that he was a troll. But he smiled happily up at her and waved his chubby arms and she thought that he was lovely. She waited with him for a long time but nobody came, so she took him home with her and looked after him from then on.
I like to mark time with dandelion clocks. They have no need for cogs and wheels, springs and tension. They require no winding up; there are no numbered faces around which hands are driven, ticking and tocking the minutes away with relentless inevitability. No hands even, especially not the straight, black, rigid sort, the ones that chase us through the day, constantly reminding us of all the things that we still haven’t done.
Mechanical clocks; a pulse without a heart, beating away our lives.
Give me the soft sway of the dandelion clocks, soft filigree glimmering in the sun, ethereal filaments floating and dancing on the whim of the breeze. Let me measure my day by sunshine and shadows, the opening of flowers and the rising of the stars. Let me enjoy the moments instead of counting the minutes and let my eyes always be open to wonders everywhere.
Late spring and the crows are stark against the pale sky. They skim the church and oak, chasing each other with harsh throated cries and stealing morsels from the ground. I am glad to see them. I thought they had forsaken us, the bell tower and me.
Every year they build their nests up there above the bells and compose a discordant summer symphony as their hatchlings grow. Calls, old to young, young to old, a different peal, corvid campanology. The cycle completes as the fledglings fly, still babies but with ancient knowing in their eyes.
It is a year today that my first book Dreaming the Moon was officially released in paperback. It was launched with titles from six other authors at a fantastic event in Lyme Regis organised by Magic Oxygen Publishing, which also incorporated the announcement of the winners of the first Magic Oxygen Literary Prize. It was a wonderful day, both an honour and very humbling to be surrounded by so much creativity and talent.
So Happy Birthday to my book and here’s a little excerpt from it:
There was a sharp stinging sensation on her left calf. Instinctively she reached down and rubbed it, thinking that she had been stung. Several seconds later, there was another on her hip, more of a blow this time, and then again on her shoulder. Robyn began to walk but the strikes continued and she noticed that small pebbles were falling all around her. There was a chittering in the scrubby grass and gorse either side of the path, high pitched spiteful laughter, leaves rustling and twigs snapping despite the stillness of the air. Robyn broke into a jog then a run as the stones became a hailstorm. She could just make out creatures in the grass, small twiggy limbed figures with long noses and angry eyes. There seemed to be a lot of them. And then the first one leapt onto her back, its gnarly fingers yanking at her hair.
“Get off me,” she shrieked, grabbing frantically behind her and flinging it away by its spindly arm. Another one had attached itself to her leg. Stones were still raining down on her, dust rising around her as she ran. Panic was nearly choking her now as she felt more of them grabbing at her, leaping in front of her, trying to trip her and bring her down. She stumbled, twisting her ankle but managing to keep her footing, slowing under the onslaught of pinching and scratching and stones. Just as she felt that she couldn’t go on, she heard Fiona’s voice, a memory in her head. “There are charms that will protect you from the fey, should you need it. Salt’s one, iron’s another, they’re the strongest. But red thread, bells and chimes, even turning your clothes inside out will work.”
Robyn grabbed the bottom of her T-shirt and wrenched it over her head, dislodging several of the little demons and sending them flying. Slowing momentarily, she flung it back on inside out, immediately relieved to find that the rest of them fell away. The storm of pebbles continued however and she accelerated back up to a run despite the pain in her ankle, not slowing until she reached the garden at the back of the shop. She fumbled desperately for her key, struggling to get it into the lock with her shaking hands, and flung herself through the kitchen door, collapsing onto one of the chairs as her knees gave way.
Jim was standing by the counter waiting for the kettle to boil.
You can check out my titles and those of the other Magic Oxygen authors using the link at the top of the page.
January – it’s not the easiest month and sometimes it seems to go on far longer than it should. But it’s a beginning, one of many, and they should always be celebrated. So here’s a little poem and may we meet ourselves and each other along the road.
In his deepest winterness
When the dark was no longer
But a black yawning void
He realised that he
Had lost himself somewhere
And being too tired to search
And too listless to care
He went out
Into the dank mist
And the sad rain
Wishing that he could just
Or perhaps meet himself
On the road, coming back.
Happy New Year. May love, light and magic surround you always.
And now… a little thought about time…
You have been prescribed TIME. Please read these instructions carefully.
What TIME is for:
TIME works by progressing a life. This facilitates a multitude of possibilities for EXPERIENCE, and the related benefits of GROWTH, HAPPINESS and KNOWLEDGE.
How to take TIME:
TIME is administered as a single dose, its slow release mechanism ensuring continued cover until death.
What you need to know:
There are no rules. Time affects everyone differently. Make the most of it and try not to worry.
Warnings and precautions:
Apply common sense to situations that require it. Whimsy will take care of the rest.
Possible side effects:
Beauty, books, dreams, family, friends, good health, hugs, illness, laughter, learning, loss, love, opportunities, sadness, stress, silliness, wrinkles.
Some side effects are more common than others and some are more pleasant than others. There are many more (unlisted) that may occur depending on your personal reaction to TIME. Please do not be alarmed when you are affected; they are all transient.
TIME is a precious resource. Please do not waste it.
It’s Halloween again, the day when walking between worlds is easiest. Traditionally it is a day for remembering those who have gone before, as spirits of all kinds are that much closer. Speaking of which…
Look over there. The tall figure in the red cloak who’s just settling herself on the seat at the fork in the road. That is Nixa – she’s the storyteller. We’re lucky; she travels far and wide collecting and sowing tales; to catch her is like catching the wind. She looks so young, barely more than a child and yet I have heard that she’s as old as the trees that grace the ancient land. Some say she was a tree once, a birch in the forest where the trees hear stories whispered by the breeze and sung by the birds, stories that fall with the rain and rise with new growth. The birch had a spirit which absorbed so many that it could no longer be contained in bark and sap. And so Nixa emerged, to wander the world recounting all the stories that the trees tell, and more besides.
Study her carefully. The air shimmers slightly around her like the liquid movement of leaves under the sun. Now the bubbles start to rise, iridescent as they catch the light. People gather as she begins to speak, draws the words from her core and gives them life once again. The bubbles float on the still air, lifted by the soft lilt of her voice. Inside each you may catch a fragment of the tale, a glimpse of a place, a character, a dream. But they cannot be held. Just like the words, they drift away and disappear, leaving everything as before and yet inexplicably altered, each person subtly changed by their own connection with the tale.
You may think that a story is a simple thing, to be taken or left at will. But Nixa would tell you that stories are vital. They are the threads that connect us to everyone and everything, celebrate our similarities and our differences, remind us of our shared experiences and our common ground. Some stories resonate more than others, some hold an element of recognition and familiarity, some move us beyond words. In the end, we are all stories. That is why they need to be told.
Something’s afoot in faeryland. Something’s coming this way. Perhaps it’s because Halloween is approaching and the veils between worlds are beginning to thin that it’s so much easier to sense it now.
Can you feel it? Will you let yourself?
In the quiet small hours of the night or the tiny moments between the hustle and the bustle of the day; when you catch a movement out of the corner of your eye or look through branches to the sky beyond; when you see a rainbow shimmering on a soap bubble or a diamond caught in a raindrop; that’s when you’ll feel it. Always unexpected yet always there – the magic in and beyond what is. Let yourself go. Look through faery windows, wonder about half hidden doors, follow a new path. Because you never know what you may find…
And if you should happen to wander this way on Halloween, there may just be a story from faeryland waiting for you…
It’s National Poetry Day, so here’s a little offering from me. Sweet dreams!
The castle scowled on the hill,
Towers and turrets silhouetted by
Shards of lightning and a clouded moon.
Storm thickened darkness hung heavy,
Dragging on each fearful breath.
I followed the twisting path,
On and on, up and up,
Feet drawn by some other force.
Around me, the forest sighed, shifting,
Tired of waiting,
The castle waited, baited, dared,
Rain poured in torrents from rips in the sky,
Smoothed the stones but could not wash them clean.
Faint ghost glimmer in the windows
A sorry echo of light.
Fear choked, I tried to turn and run
But my feet betrayed me.
The arched door, old wood, rusting hinges,
One side open, as though I was expected.
I could feel it,
In the shadows,
Dreaming The Moon was officially released on 14th February and I’m still dancing on air! Even now I can’t quite believe that there’s an actual official real paperback with my name on it. Much as e-books have transformed the way we can access and read stories, there’s something about a proper book with pages and a cover. Maybe I’m old fashioned but that’s a piece of magic right there.
Because that’s what books are, aren’t they? Little bits of magic that transport us away from our lives for a while and into someone else’s landscape, some other person’s quest or dilemma, an alternate existence with a new point of view. Whether it’s a light, quick read or something deep and challenging, every story will teach us something. And the best ones will resonate with us long after we’ve finished them, the characters staying in our heads, making us think. A change occurs when we read a book, often so subtle we may not really even notice it. But it’s there. We may learn something. Realise something. Understand or empathise more than we did before. Find something that piques our interest or leads us down a new road. Or simply gives us a good laugh and leaves us feeling uplifted.
Every book is an adventure. Each new author is a risk, but also a guide along an untrodden path. Still, the same can be said for life in general, so, if you fancy your next adventure with a new guide, click on the ‘buy my books’ icon at the top of the page and see the wonderful range waiting for you at Magic Oxygen.