Recall Trilogy… so it begins!

“When Jenda Swain – youthful and vigorous at the age of 111 – encounters an incongruously old woman at an out-of-the-way cafe, her life veers in a new direction amid unsettling questions about her own identity and her role in the corporation-dominated culture of 2125. Her journey takes her into the arms of an activist artist, who has a quest of his own. Answers come together as their world falls apart.”

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Way of the Serpent is available on Amazon.com as either paperback or for Kindle.

Available in Austin at Malvern Books and Bookwoman and in Houston at Brazos Bookstore.

Book II – Shadow of the Hare – set for publication in 2016!

 

 

Published!

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Yesterday was euphoric. My first novel, WAY OF THE SERPENT, was published and I held in my hands an actual book that I had written. I’ve published before, but all of that had been rigidly academic work. This was different. This is a story I conceived, wrote, edited, and published.

What is it about?  WAY OF THE SERPENT is speculative fiction, set in a 22nd-century world where no one gets old and where the corporations control everything, including your personal memories. It’s about one woman’s quest for a lost year and a lost identity. The story moves from Dallas, to Mexico, to Argentina, to Costa Rica. It’s a love story, too, and it plays with the nature of human connection – to one another and to our material possessions – and the importance of shared stories.

I hope you and your friends will read it. It’s available on Amazon as both paperback and Kindle eBook.  I hope there are ideas in it that you will want to talk about. And please, let me know what you think!

How Do You Feel About Emotion?

"Communication" (Side One) 18 x 14

“Communication” (Side One) 18 x 14

Yesterday I attended a Writers’ League of Texas workshop on “More Than a Feeling: Writing with Emotion” conducted by author Greg Garrett. He shared with us a whole heap of wisdom he said he acquired from his own writing guru Robert Olen Butler at U. Iowa. It was clear that he had verified all of this wisdom personally. Perhaps most importantly, he told us that each of us has within ourselves a “compost heap” of forgotten things that contains every emotion we will ever need to access in our writing. This morning I found his message reinforced by a quote from Brene Brown about vulnerability and the difference between sympathy (a disconnect) and empathy (connection): “Vulnerability isn’t good or bad. It’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness.” And then I started to remember what my Buddhist gurus were trying to teach me about compassion and the necessity of going to “the places that scare you”…

So now I know I need to shed my armor and jump into my own redolent, simmering compost heap and return to my manuscript for one last heart-wrenching revision. Thank you, Greg!

Contagious

WAY blogpost

 

Reading the news over the past months about the Ebola virus, I can’t help but identify even more strongly with the predicament of my protagonist in Way of the Serpent. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Jenda Swain’s flight from Costa Rica arrived at the Dallas airport right on time.  Jenda was surprised to see how crowded the international terminal was. “I wonder what the holdup is?” she asked herself. And then she almost panicked; what if the international corporate police had caught wind of their plan and were searching bags? “It’s okay,” she told herself, “as long as you stay calm and don’t attract attention.” As she got nearer the gateways, Jenda saw that they were not inspecting bags, but rather scanning people with an infrared device. She felt relieved. “Do you know what’s going on?” She was now relaxed enough to speak to one of her companions in the slow moving queue.

“It’s the IHA – that blood disease, the hemolytic anemia. Well, I think they’re calling it VHA now that they know it’s a virus. It’s been spreading like wildfire. How long have you been out of the country anyway?” her companion responded.

“I didn’t think it was contagious,” Jenda said, “Why are they screening us?”

“Well, now they know it is contagious,” the man replied, “although they’re still a long way from understanding how to deal with the virus that’s causing it. Lots of cases in Mexico and Guatemala, so all passengers from anywhere in Central America are getting screened.”

Jenda thanked her fellow traveler for the information. “Well, here’s something else I could worry about,” she said to herself, “but let’s just say I choose not to.”

When Jenda finally passed through the screening device, she noticed that several people had been pulled aside and equipped with face masks. A gloved and masked physician wearing a Pharmakon uniform was speaking with them. “I am not going to worry about this!” Jenda told herself again.

Riding in the autocar back to her apartment, Jenda gave her grandmother a call.

“Oh, I’m so glad to hear your voice,” Granny El said. “I’ve been worried about you, you know, what with this VHA thing beginning to get all out of hand. At least I was glad you were in Argentina rather than Central America – it’s really getting bad there!” Not worrying about viral hemolytic anemia was getting harder for Jenda.

WATCH FOR publication of Way of the Serpent on Amazon in early 2015!

Day of the Dead

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My novel, Way of the Serpent, includes a scene in which my youthful 111-year-old heroine spends the Day of the Dead in San Miguel de Allende, where she is enjoying her ninth ten-year sabbatical. It is the year 2125… I thought it would be fun to share this passage with you today! 

Jenda awoke the next morning with a sense of dread. Did she really want to get into all of this? Luis anticipated such a state of mind. He put his arm across Jenda’s body and pulled her closer. “Let’s not work today,” he said. “Let’s just close the gallery and go for a walk and let you recover some more. It’s a good day for a walk – it’s a holiday in some of the old neighborhoods and we can enjoy the fun.”

Jenda was relieved. “What holiday? What day is today anyway?” She had lost track.

“It’s the first of November – el Dia de los Muertos!” Luis announced.

“Well, that doesn’t sound like much fun. Dead people day?” Jenda pulled the covers back up around her chin and stared at Luis, who was laughing. She glared at him.

“Sorry, mi amor. I guess it’s not a very important holiday in your culture.” He shrugged. “Not even very important in mine anymore, but some of the people still enjoy it.” And he explained that it was a day when people honored their ancestors – the deceased ones. Of course, not so long ago, almost all of one’s ancestors were deceased.

“Not like today, when you can just go visit your grandparents at their apartment instead of at the cemetery. Even your great-great-grandparents if you happen to be Gen4! Much nicer today,” Jenda said. She was still scowling. “Nobody goes to cemeteries anymore.”

“Well, some of these people do,” Luis explained. “Most of them don’t, though. For most people it has just become a day to get together with family and friends and enjoy music and dancing and good food and sweet cakes shaped like little skulls.”

“Ewww!” Jenda hid her face in the pillow. “You’re just trying to make me sick again!”

“No, no! I promise you, querida! They are delicious cakes and the skulls don’t look realistic at all. They look more like… like little clown faces.”

“Luis!! You know I hate clowns!” Jenda moaned.

Luis was laughing again. He knew. “Oh, come on. Just get over yourself and come along and see if you can have some fun doing some of the crazy things your crazy boyfriend’s crazy people do!”

He got up and held out his hand. His smile was that warm, engaging, big-as-the-world smile that had attracted Jenda to him from the outset. Jenda playfully held back for a moment, then grasped his hand firmly, raised herself slowly from the bed and, in her best deadpan voice, said, “Okay then. Let’s go play with your crazy dead people!”