I’ve come down from the mountains and so miss walking their forests of pine and fir and cedar. To at least be near trees, I went for a walk this morning along a trail that runs beside a creek and beneath an evergreen bower of oak and bay. There’s a small clearing between creek and trail where someone, weeks ago, built a simple stone labyrinth. When I walked by today I saw the round, water-softened cobbles had been strewn and scattered all about the clearing. At first I was hurt – who would want to destroy a labyrinth? Then I was angry and set about rebuilding the maze, swearing at the various kinds of assholes that might have done this – they were all men, surely, for as a rule men tend to destruction and women to creation. It might have been a devout member of one of the dominant religions who was threatened by the relic symbol; maybe it was a kid who’d had a fight with his girlfriend and threw away his hurt and anger on the rocks; maybe a man who’d lost his job and eased his frustration in hurling the stones about….who knew?
The clearing was small so of necessity the labyrinth was too, but before I was half finished I realized how much fun it was hefting, hauling and placing the stones. I was glad the original circle had been destroyed. If it hadn’t of been, I wouldn’t have had the chance to create it anew, to re-create it, and isn’t that all life is, creation, destruction, and re-creation? The one is as essential to the other as dirt to a tree, as the ocean to rain. I hoped that the person who deconstructed the labyrinth found relief in the activity, maybe even peace. As I curled the last rock into the center of the gyre, I knew that some of the hikers passing by would pause to stroll the spiral, maybe even add to it, and that eventually it would again be destroyed. That made me smile. I walked on, hoping whoever takes the the labyrinth apart next will have as much fun as I will in remaking and recreating it, over and over again.
Had the great good fortune to be able to help a friend drive from California to Santa Fe. Found the whole trip through low and high desert terribly moving. It was only as I was leaving it on the last morning, that I realized this is where nature reclaimed me. I was twenty-eight years old when I first came to this land of juniper, pinyon and bare rock. I was ignorant of the natural world, numb to its gifts both seen and unseen. The high country opened me as cleanly as a surgeon with a scalpel. It flensed and cleansed my soul. Slowly, day by blue sky day, the desert filled my hollowed core with spirit, mystery and wonder.
At the Georgia O’Keefe museum, I stood in front of “The Chestnut Grey” and cried. O’Keeffe, too, came to the desert a spiritual neophyte, and she was filled. Through her art she was able to communicate the sacred bond we all have with the land yet too often fail to realize. I have been fortunate to see many of her original works, and they are powerfully moving – not so much in what they portray but in the reverence that occupies her canvases, in how she was able to perceive the ordinary, feel the sacred beauty at its core, and filter that essence from eye to soul to canvas. That is the ineffable magic of all art. It is the sacred gift of all life. I cried that I was alive at this moment on earth, alive, and awake enough to see and share the essence of the sacred.
Happy to post that Bella Books wants Hold of the Bone, #6 in the L.A. Franco series. Look for it around this time next year. You can bet I’ll let you know about it.
For a woman whose Tarot soul card and life card is The Hermit, and whose entire astrological chart is on the left side (happier with my own company than with other people), I had a great time.
and make new ones,
Picture iconic FBI Agent Clarice Starling. Add a sense of humor and box of Krispy Kreme Donuts, make her part-Chinese plus a hard decade older, and you have Keye Street, the heroine of Amanda Kyle Williams’ Stranger series.
Williams is the author of two novels featuring Keye Street (The Stranger You Seek, Stranger in the Room), as well as the four-volume Madison McGuire series published by Naiad Press in the early 1990s.
If you haven’t yet met author Amanda Kyle Williams stop by Women and Words and introduce yourself. You won’t be sorry you did.
Come chill with me and the ab-fab Liz McMullen on The Liz McMullen Show. We yakked about The River Within, writing, and even snuck in a wicked preview of Hold of the Bone, the sixth in the L.A. Franco series. Good times!
Winter ended with whirlwinds that tossed my life around but spring is bringing a return to calm. I haven’t posted here that my last novel, the independently published The River Within, was picked up by Bedazzled Ink. All thanks to my Number 1 Fan Barrett, who plugged me relentlessly to the good folks at Bedazzled. Here’s the new cover. Look for it in June 2013.
When 36-year old Emily’s abusive husband walked towards her, she stabbed him with a pair of scissors, locked herself in the bathroom, and listened to him wander around their home for an hour before he died. Despite little supporting evidence Rachel’s job is to convince twelve good men and women that Emily’s overreaction was a result of battered women’s syndrome. In chasing the high of saving Emily, Rachel compromises her physical and mental health, eventually prompting a leave of absence to volunteer with Sandanistas in the deadly Nicaraguan tropics. Confronted with life on its simplest, most fundamental terms, Rachel must examine herself inside and out, to indeed walk to the “furthest city light” and see if she has what it takes to survive.
Winer’s title is derived from the Robert Frost poem, “Acquainted With The Night”. Like the great American poet, Winer is spare and unsentimental. There is no grandstanding in her novel or hammering of messages, merely the unflinching tale of a woman working hard to find herself before she loses everything dear. Like a Frost poem, her story is complicated yet told with deceptive skill and simplicity.
Thanks to Barrett (aka #1 Fan) for tagging me in her post, which you will find here – http://wordsofbarrett.wordpress.com/
What is the working title of your book? During most of the writing it was Entangled, a nod to quantum physics, but then, and I can’t remember how, it mysteriously became Hold of the Bone.
What genre does your book fall under? Lesbian mystery.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? On the verge of retirement, veteran LAPD Lieutenant Franco discovers a skeleton that leads not only to her truest calling but to the darkest mystery of all.
What is the longer synopsis of the book? In Hold of the Bone, number six in the L.A. Franco series, Frank uncovers a skeleton that leads from her predictable beat in south-central Los Angeles to the wild Santa Lucia mountains overlooking Big Sur. Years ago in a case involving a homicidal Santeria priestess, Frank had been warned that she possessed powerful psychic abilities, a warning Frank quickly dismissed. But the unearthing of the skeleton coincides with a frightening recurrence of dark visions, each stronger than the last. As Frank follows the case into the rugged wilderness of the Santa Lucia Range, she is forced to choose again and again between her heart and protocol. With the unlikely aid of the dead man’s daughter, Frank confronts her own wild nature and must ultimately choose to either fully embrace her dubious gifts or live a shell of a life without them.
Where did the idea come from for the book? Damned if I know! I’m sure it’s been percolating since the inception of the Franco series. Frank mirrors my own life, albeit she usually knows what’s going on before I do, and I’ve had so many other worldly experiences in my life that it seems natural for them to have bleed over on to her. I’m fascinated by our cultural mania for the supernatural. I think it belies an unfulfilled craving for a connection to alternate realities. Humans evolved with those connections. We are hard-wired for relationships with “other worlds”. Our ancestors were as intimately connected to those alternate realities as we are to Ipods and televisions, and the connections are still there. They lurk in our DNA, in “the hold of the bone”, just waiting to be plugged in. Hold of the Bone outlines one woman’s attempt, to rephrase Timothy Leary, to turn off, tune out, and drop in to the much larger world around us.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? That’s a great question because so often when I write characters they are based on actors I like, so I picture that actor in my head the whole time I’m writing the book. Franco still remains faceless to me, but thanks to a fan I finally figured who would make a great Franco. You can see who she is at my Pinterest page – http://pinterest.com/baxterclare/who-will-play-my-characters/
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Bella Books has the right of first refusal for the Franco series. If they don’t want it I might shop it around or go indie again – I did that with my last novel and loved the autonomy of being my own publisher.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I started Hold after wrapping up publication of The River Within, so that must have been in the spring of 2012, and I hope to be done with the draft by January or February. I only have about fifteen hours a week to write so on average I’d say it takes about two years for me to finish a book. I’m a literary turtle, slow but steady!
Who or What inspired you to write this book? I think really bad writers inspire me. I remember sitting in my tub with a very popular crime novel, one of many by a prolific author, and thinking, “My God, this is awful. I can write better than this!” That’s what pushed me to write the first Franco novel. Hold of the Bone was in part spurred by the overwhelming glut of supernatural dreck in popular fiction. All those horrifically bad vampire/zombie/werewolf novels encouraged me to straighten the record a bit by approaching the supernatural from a more valid, and for many “other-gifted” people, more realistic point of view. Granted, Frank’s psychic adventures are more extreme than mine, but as always, she is more evolved than me!
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Besides coming to grips with her unwanted psychic abilities, Frank has had quite a few adventures between her last book and this one. Followers of the series might be curious to see what those were, but for new readers Hold of the Bone is a stand-alone read. It’s not necessary to read the first five in the series, although I love following characters chronologically.
Next Wednesday hop over to these fab authors for a peek at their Next Big Things.
Kate Genet - http://themisbehavingmind.com/
Anne Lauglin at http://www.annelaughlinwriter.com/
Alexandra Wolfe at http://wrywriter.com/
Neil Gaiman is starting a new tradition of giving away a scary book on October 29th. http://www.allhallowsread.com/ I love it as reading and Halloween are such underated pleasures. I’m celebrating by giving away a print copy of the very creepy Cry Havoc. Just respond to this blog and I’ll throw your name in my witch’s hat! Happy Haunting!