Future Calling

Sometimes you need to listen to that quiet inner voice…

Steampunk Clock

 

 

Hey you. Yes, you. It’s your future calling.

Well, one possibility anyway. The best, I’d like to think.

I’ve seen some of the others and they’re not…

 

So anyway

I was watching you sleep earlier

Peaceful, your arm thrown over your forehead.

Now you’re eating breakfast, toast, marmalade,

Unaware that later today she’s going to call you

And offer you an opportunity, a chance

The one you secretly long for.

I so hope you take it

I know what’s most likely to happen

And it’s me.

 

But of course you don’t know that.

I have the benefit of hindsight and you, well,

You have questions and concerns

All those other possible futures crowding in with their

Doubts and insecurities, their what ifs and wherefores.

I can see an alternative now, one of many, and it’s OK

Nothing spectacular but comfortable

Safe.

If you choose that path at the fork, you’ll be all right,

Happy even.

But you’ll always wonder.

 

Yes, I know nothing’s certain, even me.

But this. This is so important.

This is your dream.

It could be your life.

Trust yourself.

It won’t all be roses, it won’t all be easy,

But I see those other futures and most of them

Are tinged with regret for the step not taken,

The no instead of yes.

Please.

It’s a leap of faith but take it.

Let yourself fly.

The Myth of Turret Shells

I bought this beautiful card several years ago and it planted the seed for this little tale which is part of a collection I’m working on entitled Great Grandmother’s Tales From The Shore.

Sea Unicorn by Brett. Card by Sunrise Publications Inc.

 

“We always collected things when we went to the beach, shells, stones, driftwood, bits of sea worn glass. Treasures from the deep, Great Grandma called them. Gifts from the sea. They all have a tale to tell, a secret history. You just have to open yourself to it.

I love the turret shells because they aren’t really shells at all. People only think they are because they’ve lost the ability to believe in anything that can’t be proved. And maybe they do get seconded by homeless invertebrates from time to time. Maybe the hermit crab isn’t the only thing in the sea that lives as a squatter. I don’t know. But I do know they’re not shells.

Because they’re horns.

See, when the white horses are first born out in the waves, they all have a horn, just the one, in the centre of their foreheads above their eyes. And to start with, they live out there amongst the rollers and the breakers, learning to trot and canter and gallop, to race the winds as they whip the surface, to swim in the deep blue as the sun turns it to gold.

But when they come of age, they reach the time of the calling. It is a choice that each and every one must make. They are drawn towards the shore and, in the in between, where the water changes colour as the earth rises beneath it, they must decide whether to stay in the sea or forge a new path on the land.

Those that come ashore hide in forests and green places. We call them unicorns.

Those that remain behind lose their horns. They stay and play out in the open water. We only see them as white caps on the waves.

The horns become houses for little shellfish. Or mementos picked up on a day at the beach.

There are less of them now. Far less than when I was a child. I wonder why that might be.”

The Swallows

“They’re here! They’re here!”

swallows in flight

Her cry had us all running from wherever we were, the kitchen, the barn, the vegetable garden, the hen house, running, up the pocked, rough track that served as a driveway, to the wide wooden gate.

“Look, look,” she was calling, pointing upwards with both hands at once. “They’re really here. At last.”

I stopped and squinted into the sky, the brightness hurting my eyes after the dimness of the barn. Occasional ribbons of white cloud broke the aching blue, straggling across it with no urgency whatsoever.  The tops of the trees were utterly still, not a whisper of a breeze to stir them. The grass was dry and brown, the dust heavy on the track and the road beyond. It had been like this for days. As if the world was holding its breath, just waiting for them. Continue reading

Drinking The Sky

sunset, drink the sky, distil the colours

Once there was a girl who had a rainbow heart.

It called to the sunrise, lavender and soft rose birthing a new day.

It soared in the shocking blue of a clear summer sky.

It drifted with the cirrus and the cumulus and roared with the steel grey storm clouds.

It remembered whirling snowflakes and floating mist, heavy raindrops and gentle breezes.

It danced as low mellow light fell through branches and turned fallen beech leaves into rivers of molten copper.

When the sun gilded the horizon with gold, it sang.

It inhaled the sunset, the deep reds and oranges lasting only a few moments before the cloak of twilight hid them away.

It slumbered beneath the indigo night and dreamt of stars.

Wouldn’t you like one? A heart like hers?

 

 

An Excerpt FromThree Words

A little bit from Three Words as promised.

rose in heart shape

 

“I’m so excited.” It was Tuesday evening and Tallie flung herself down beside Seth on Gaia’s big sofa. “A little bird just told me who’s playing at the Hare next Saturday.” Her eyes twinkled. “Pause for effect.”

“You do look more excited than normal,” Gaia commented, “which is a worry in itself.” She ignored the face Tallie pulled at her. “And as much fun as it would be not to ask you who but just to watch you try not to tell us, I will be kind and gracious and put you out of your misery. Who is it?”

“You’re fiendishly mean,” Tallie retorted, “But right of course. I’m nearly beside myself. It’s Underhill.”

Rob was grinning as Gaia, Ethan and Seth’s faces lit up. Serena was baffled.

“Really?” Gaia was elated. “Oh, I haven’t seen them in way too long,”

“Me neither,” Seth agreed. “Still the same guys?”

“As far as I know,” Tallie confirmed. “Well, Luke, Holly and Bryn for sure. Maybe Jonno, maybe April. Maybe both.”

Gaia rubbed her hands together. “That’s so great.”

Ethan nodded agreement, then noticed Serena’s puzzled look.

“They’re a band based in Cornwall,” he said. “Folky metally fusion.”

“Oh, but they’re so much more than that,” Tallie said pointedly, poking Gaia in the ribs with her elbow. “Aren’t they?” She grinned at Serena. “They’re the reason these two,” she gestured at Gaia and Ethan, “are together.”

Rob laughed and Seth was smiling. Gaia explained.

“Tallie and I were at uni together. She was the year above me but we were in the same flat. Luke was in her year, he’s the drummer. We were all good friends and Luke’s band got booked to play at the Summer Ball. Ethan and Seth came down and, well…” She took Ethan’s hand.

“The rest is history,” Tallie finished for her. “Oh, I can’t wait.”

Underhill did not disappoint. Serena had never seen a band quite like them. The energy seemed to crackle off the stage; most of their stuff was quite fast and heavy but the few ballads they played were hauntingly beautiful. the sound of the pipes seemed to reach right into her, touch her soul and the empty place beside it where her magic had once lived. She enjoyed chatting to them afterward when they came over to catch up with the others. Ethan noticed how Holly, who played the pipes and whistles, seemed to be watching Serena with interest. He moved to stand next to him.

“Picking something up, are you?” he asked quietly.

Holly grinned. “That could be taken in more than one way, but if you’re asking about magic, then yes.”

“I thought so.” Ethan was oddly pleased that he’d been right. After all, he’d picked it up about Holly, so he wasn’t sure why he doubted himself. Still… it sounded so farfetched. Holly wasn’t human, he was one of the fey, moving between the realm of magic and the human world as he chose. Despite his psychic gift, Ethan had been truly shocked when he’d realised how close true magic really was. He had never told anyone; Holly had asked him not to.

“I’m not sure what it is,” Holly went on, “But there’s something wild and mysterious there. I have no doubt you’ll find out.” He grinned impishly. “Didn’t take you long to find out about me, now did it?”

 

It’s World Book Day

Yes it is, and in celebration of all things literary I thought I’d share some of my favourite books. Please do add your favourites in the comments; I’m always on the lookout for a good read!

5 books

Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint. Anything by Charles de Lint really, he’s exceptionally talented, but this particular one is a collection of urban fantasy short stories and is my go to book for comfort when I’m feeling in need.

Green Angel by Alice Hoffman. She writes exquisitely and this novella is particularly haunting.

The Wood Wife by Terri Windling. Full of extraordinary desert magic, you can almost feel the heat rising from the pages. I love this so much I have two copies (one for lending, the other for me!)

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. This is a children’s book but don’t let that stop you; the lyrical prose and intriguing story will leave you thinking.

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. You will never take the letters of the alphabet for granted again.

Skellig by David Almond. A beautifully wrought modern fairy tale.

The Miracles of Santo Fico by D. L. Smith. Funny, unexpected and uplifting.

The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Set in South Carolina in the sixties, it’s a sensitive coming of age tale.

Julie And Romeo by Jeanne Ray. A romance like no other and very funny to boot.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. I adored this when I was a kid and still do now.

Guess I’d better stop now. There are just so many great books out there; happy reading!

A Little Bit of Dreaming The Moon

picture of moon over sea

Here’s an excerpt from Dreaming the Moon. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Robyn and her friend Bryn are in the tunnels below the cliff, searching for what has been lost. But all is not going to plan.

 

 

Robyn forced herself to open her eyes and the first thing she saw was light. Not very bright, but definitely enough to see by and illuminating the tunnel in both directions. Ahead she could make out the cavern into which the tunnel opened, which also seemed well lit. She looked for the mark she had just made, only to find that it had disappeared.
‘Where are we?’ she asked. ‘What happened?’
Keeping his arm round her and pulling her closer to the wall, Bryn let go of her hand and lifted the bottle to show her. It was glowing fiercely now, almost incandescent.
‘I think somehow we’ve crossed over. Into the faerie realm. I don’t know how, whether we slipped through a rift in the shield or whether this is a crossing that neither side is aware of, but we’re certainly not where we were.’
‘Can’t we go back through?’
‘Unfortunately not. Humans usually can’t cross unless they’re with a magical being, but at the moment everything’s in chaos so who knows what rules apply. One thing I do know though, we need to keep moving because somebody is going to be aware of that shift and come looking.’
‘Which way?’ Robyn said. ‘Should we go back toward the sea?’
‘Don’t know which way that is,’ Bryn told her. ‘The approximate geography is the same but the transposition isn’t exact. I need to send a message to Holly, see if he’s got any ideas, then I think we should keep going, see if we can find another way out, or something that can help us in the meantime.’ He felt her shiver and gave her a quick squeeze before releasing her and feeling for the pen.
‘I’ll mark the wall,’ said Robyn. ‘Just in case.’
Bryn wrote the message on his arm and they watched it sink into his skin and disappear. Then they made their way cautiously into the cavern which was empty but lit by several flaming torches. There were several tunnels leading off it, most of them also lit. Bryn suggested they take the brightest one, thinking it was the one that was probably most used and therefore the most likely to lead them out. It was eerily silent, their footsteps echoing around them despite their efforts to stay quiet, and they were both on edge as they continued. Robyn marked their way and they walked for what felt like hours, up, down, tunnel after tunnel, with no sign of life at all. Finally they sat down on the ground in yet another small cavern, to rest and eat something.celtic knot triquetra
‘It feels like we’re going nowhere,’ Robyn said despondently. ‘Like in that old film Labyrinth. That girl, Sarah, she keeps walking and walking and it all looks the same, as if she’s not getting anywhere at all, no matter how far she goes.’
‘I know,’ Bryn agreed. ‘But we must be getting somewhere, surely. We haven’t seen any of the arrows you drew, so we can’t have gone back on ourselves.’
Robyn sighed. ‘We need a miracle,’ she groaned. ‘Otherwise we could be walking around down here forever.’ She leaned her head back against the rock. ‘At least it’s not dark. We’ll be able to see as we starve slowly to death.’
‘Cheery, aren’t you?’ Bryn said. He stretched. ‘Come on then.’
It was then that they heard the sound, a slight scuffling from the tunnel to their left. Bryn was on his feet immediately, finger on his lips. Robyn rose as quietly as she could. There was more scuffling, louder now, voices and a steady tapping. Bryn peered into the tunnel and backed up quickly. He grabbed Robyn’s hand.
‘Run.’
Glancing back as they careered through the nearest opening, Robyn saw with horror a large crowd of small ugly creatures wrestling and pushing at each other. One of them looked up directly at her just before she disappeared. They heard the increase in volume of voices, but didn’t wait to find out whether the things had seen which entrance they had taken. They just ran, following whichever fork or tunnel was the nearest. Behind them they could hear sounds, pattering feet and strange nasal grunts and whoops, varying in volume so that it was difficult to tell whether they were being pursued or whether it was echoing through from other chambers. As they exited yet another cavern, Bryn spotted a split in the wall, almost invisible yet big enough to walk through, and he pulled Robyn into the small cave behind it. They stood very still, desperately trying to control their breathing, and waited.

It’s A Double Book Anniversary

Three Words book cover

Hard to believe but Dreaming the Moon has been out for three years now and Three Words is one year old today. I picture of moon over searemember the feeling of finally holding that physical printed volume in my hands; each one was a dream come true. Even now it still feels like magic!

I’ll share a couple of short extracts from each over the next few weeks. Hope you enjoy them.

The Faeries’ Bazaar

“Have you ever seen it? The path, I mean? It changes and it moves, so it’s hard to find, even if you’re looking for it. Because you never really know what you’re looking for…”

In two weeks time, on the 16th September in fact, the path will lead to Thorncombe Village Hall where you’ll find The Faeries’ Bazaar.

It’s a mystical narrative of interlinking pieces that leads you through the Bazaar and introduces you to the various shopkeepers and characters to be found there. From the Apothecary to the Bookseller, the three sisters in the Sewing Room to Amily the street magician, each has a tale to weave around you.

angel faery

 

My older son Jed has composed a beautiful soundtrack that laces all the stories together. He plays as I read; he is the Troubador.

 

Younger son Zack, who is a most excellent chef, is the Innkeeper, while my husband Brian is our troubleshooter and all round good guy.

All proceeds from this performance will go to The Word Forest Organisation, carrying out amazing reforestation and educational work in Kenya. Check out what they do here: wordforest.org

So, if you’re local (or even if you’re not) please join us for an evening of music and storytelling.

For more details, contact me via my Facebook page:  IzzyRobertsonAuthor/events

Or you can book tickets here: wordforest.org/faeries-bazaar

Hope to see you there!

Life between worlds – writing a novel

notebook, pen, laptopYou can get a bit lost in writing a book; it’s a long process and quite isolated too. You spend a lot of time with your characters, immersed in their world. Sometimes the real world is a welcome relief, sometimes it’s an irritating distraction. At times it can seem quite distant. The story grows and develops; it follows you even when you’re not actually writing. Your protagonists and antagonists feed you information, not always at the most opportune moments (mine often decide that the best time to tell me something vital is when I’m driving, usually with nowhere I can pull over to scribble it down). It’s as if you’re living in two different realms at the same time, each as tangible as the other.

You try hard to get the writing right, to let the characters have their say but also to keep the story flowing the way it should be. You cheer when it goes well and the words pour from your fingertips; you groan, procrastinate and drink far too much tea when the plot sticks or your characters decide to go off and do their own thing without telling you. And they do do that. Without so much as a ‘by your leave’ and then you find that they’ve changed the timeline or reconfigured the plot without so much as even conferring with you or asking what you think. Well, why should they? You’re only the author after all.

Eventually, eventually you get to the end.

Of the first draft.

But that’s not the end as a writer. Because the first draft is the basis but it always needs lots of work; editing and reworking paragraphs and dialogue, adjusting timeline inconsistencies, ensuring continuity of all sorts of things from the colour of people’s eyes to who has a dog and who likes what music. And then there are the typos and the grammatical errors and the repetition of words and phrases that need to be corrected.

So you plough through again, rewriting, amending, tightening up the prose and getting it closer to how you know it needs to be. And when you’ve finished the second draft, you go through it all again a third time, just to make sure.

Phew!

You’d think that’d be it then, wouldn’t you?

Alas, no!

It’s usually when I’ve got to the end of the third draft that I ask my lovely band of pre-readers to read through it and feed back to me anything that doesn’t fit right or hold true, anything that seems superfluous or out of place, anything that they think needs altered or adjusted. With these invaluable critiques it’s time for – you’ve guessed it – draft number four.

By the end of the fourth draft, hopefully the manuscript is as near finished as possible and as good as it’s going to get. This is usually the point where, having been living and breathing it for however long and having read and reread the story countless times, I usually think “This is complete and utter rubbish. Why did I bother? I might as well just dump it in the recycling bin and do everyone a favour.”

At that point I know it’s time to consign draft four to my virtual drawer and ignore it for a month or two. When I come back to it, it’s usually not as bad as I’d thought. Usually needs a few tweaks but generally it’s OK.

That’s the scary point. Time to unleash it…