23 March 2018

Saturday Scene: 24 March '18

It was late in the evening. The fire had burned down. A log popped and fell into embers; a shower of sparks drifted up into the sky. The knight followed the ascending motes with her eyes. “We call ourselves the Order of the Celestial Guardian,” she said, “but you never do. When you think we are not listening you call us…?” She looked at her apprentice.

“The little sisters of the Dragonslayer.”

The knight nodded. “And do you know why we are the little sisters?”

The merchant reached for a stick and stirred the coals. “I have wondered,” he admitted. “Is your Goddess not your Mother?”

“She is our Eldest Sister,” the Knight answered. “But to understand why, you have to understand a little about the Gods.”

Though there are Eighty Thousand Gods (the Knight explained), all under the stars, all the peoples of the Ten Thousand Isles, are the adopted children of our Fathers, Earth and Sea; our Mothers, Sun and Moons. We may point to this or that one of the host of spirits great and small, say that this one, this is our parent, this is the one who created these people. And from the smallest of the Fae to the largest of the Hexapods, each has such a story. Perhaps some of the stories are even true.

But these five: Earth and Sea; Sun, Red Moon and Black Moon, were the first Great Gods of this world, and these Ten Thousand Isles. These five, and one more; the One Apart. She had a different name, a different purpose, in those days, but now? Only the stars recall what that name and purpose were. Now we call her the Dragonslayer.

When the Great Gods became aware, they walked the world and realized that they had been walking together for some untold time. They decided it would be good to be still, to have a place to rest. So they came to build their hall of Jade Thrones within the Palace of Fire at the top of the Mountain That Never Was, and for a time they ceased their wanderings.

(The old woman coughs; looks apologetic. The Knight’s apprentice listens to a story she has heard many times in her young life. The Merchant watches the fire. Only the Knight goes on speaking).

The Great Gods became known to themselves as they built the Palace of Fire. They became known to one another. Stories to fill many nights could surely be told if we knew the details of those times. How the Sun wooed the Earth; how the Sea won his wives. But if those stories are known to mortals, they are not known to me. Nor do I know if the Dragonslayer loved, or if she was loved; if she was sister to all, or if she stood always a little apart, watching, listening, waiting.

In time, a Power came from beyond the world, and alighted upon the Mountain That Never Was. Xe took the form of a dragon, indescribable in beauty and might. Xir scales shone with all colors hard as metal and smooth as water; Xir grace amazed the Great Gods. “This is a lovely world,” the Dragon said, and Xir voice was male and female; the voice of wisdom, of time, of awe. “But it is empty. I beg your leave to bring my children here, to give them a home warm and verdant.”

The Great Gods looked upon each other, speechless. How, they wondered, had they not had the idea of filling their world with children? And so they smiled together, and extended their hands in welcome to the First Dragon and to Xir children. The Dragon placed eggs throughout the islands, not so many that they would be crowded; not so few that they would be lonely.

(“This is a story of Dragons,” the Merchant protested. “But they are only myth. Stories to frighten children.”

“To know the Slayer, you must understand the Dragons,” the Knight answered. “And there were dragons. There are dragons, though you may not have seen them. They are old now, and rarely walk among mortals.”

The Merchant nodded thoughtfully, and the Knight went on telling her tale).

The eggs hatched. The dragons grew. They learned from their parent and the Great Gods listened, and they, too, learned. The dragons dug deep beneath the land and the sea. They found gold, and silver; mythril and orichalum. They found gems of all hues, and learned to work these materials in ways that delighted the eye and the finger; the mind and the soul.

But the One Apart wondered: from whence came the First Dragon? Long did she stand upon the Mountain That Never Was, at the top of the tallest tower of the Palace of Fire. Long did she look into the places beyond, long did she listen. And when she had learned, she called the Great Gods together to sit in their thrones of jade. She spoke to them of what she had learned.

There was a war, she said. Far away, in the places beyond, a great war raged. Powers great and mighty built tunnels from one world to another, and through the gates of these tunnels they sent their forces to destroy, to enslave, to conquer. These concepts were new to the Great Gods, and the One Apart explained them as she had learned to understand them.

Then Mother Sun spoke, her compassion flowing like a stream of soothing water. “And under the feet of these Powers,” she asked. “Are there those who would flee from the war? Leave behind the tunnels, and their gates, and live here in peace with us?”

The One Apart did not know. So she went again to the highest tower, and more long years she spent looking into the places beyond. She heard the lamentations of the small, and when she had learned, she came again among the Jade Thrones, and she told what she had learned.

“Let us open our world to those who need shelter,” Father Earth said.

“No!” cried the First Dragon, who had not been invited, and whose presence had not been noted. “You have given this world to my children, and they fill it! There is no room! No room!” With a mighty roar, Xe lept into the circle of thrones. Lightning flashed, fires surged. It was clear that Xe meant to end the Great Gods.

But the One Apart had learned, watching and listening to the War Beyond. She had learned the arts of war, and she stood now before the First Dragon, and for an age the two struggled. At last, the Dragon fell.

“Sister,” asked the Red Moon, “what have you done?” For it is a terrible and shameful thing to end that which is rightfully unending.

“I have done what had to be done,” the One Apart said. “I have slain the Dragon, and in shame and dishonor I discard my name, and take in its place this deed, that it never be forgotten.”

“Sister,” asked the Black Moon, “what shall we do now?” for a thing which is born in blood can have no good outcome.

“Now, we open our arms to those who are tired of war; those who are hungry; those who are lost,” Mother Sun answered, when it was clear that the Dragonslayer had no ready answer.

(“I know this part,” the Old Woman said, drawing her blanket closer about her shoulders. “The ships came, bringing our ancestors.”

The Knight nodded. “The ships came,” she agreed).

For a thousand years the ships came bearing refugees and their gods, fleeing the tunnels and their gates. Fleeing the Powers that warred. Here they settled, but all was not peaceful. The deed of blood had written its legacy upon the world. In grief the Dragonslayer walked among the children, lamenting at their anger and their strife. But she saw also that some stood as she had; some did what must be done to protect others.

How could she encourage that behavior? She looked, and she saw that some, often girls, were unwanted; some were left on hillsides to die, or cast adrift into the sea. She took these girls and from the unwanted she made sisters. Raised them up strong and wise in battle, to stand against those who would hurt others; to stand in protection against any who would impose their will by force, to stand against those who came from outside to conquer.

And as these girls became family, wanted one by the other, sisters, we became also sisters to the Dragonslayer; our eldest sister, our dearest kin.

11 February 2018

Reviewed!

Erica Friedman of Okazu does a tremendous amount for the literary, nerdy (otakui) members of the LBT community, which includes me. She's been kind enough in the past to publish my guest reviews of various Yuri (L/B) Anime, and now she's written a fabulous review of Flowers of Luna!

Thanks to Erica for the kind words and for feeling the book was good enough to bother reviewing.

08 January 2018

Wrestling with the Angel

So, I'm wrestling with a concept, and I kind of need some feedback from you, my readers.  See, the thing is... one of my reviewers mentioned that he'd happily read Flowers of Luna all over again, if it was told from Hana's perspective.

And I've come to realize that if I had written the book from Hana's perspective in the first place, it would have been a better book. After all, as several people have pointed out, there's little external conflict in the story -- almost all of the conflict is internal to Hana, as she goes through one of the most basic struggles of Japanese literature: the struggle between what's right for her family / social group, and what's right for her.

So, on the one hand, I kind of feel like maybe I should crack open Hana's head and write inside of it. I think Hana's a lot less confident than she tries to appear, and my own anxiety gives me something of a window into that feeling.

On the other hand, I kind of feel like the story is done and told, and I should move on to something completely different -- the long-teased Little Sisters of the Dragonslayer, or The Delicate Art of the Sword, or... something. Anything but more Flowers of Luna.

So... wha'd'ya think?

01 November 2017

Write-In Campaign!

It's a Write-In Campaign!

If you haven't voted for someone else already, please consider going to Goodreads, scrolling to the bottom of the Young Adult Sci-Fi / Fantasy section, and writing in Flowers of Luna
.
No, I'm not under any illusion I'll win, but I could get enough write-ins to get noticed!

Thank you kindly for your consideration!

22 September 2017

Saturday Scene for 23 September, 2017

Doctor Chlamydia Addams took a seat behind her desk, and her companion, the Zeta Reticulan spider known as Thing, sprang from her shoulder to disappear behind her. "Have a seat, Lieutenant," the Doctor said, indicating those on the other side of her desk. She tapped the surface of her desk, linking to the files generated by the scan she'd performed on the young woman a few minutes prior. She considered the results again, and looked across the desk at the woman. "You believe your arm is defective in some way?"

Lieutenant Gray shook her head. "I don't know how to describe it, Doctor. It's... it's not real. It's not mine.."

"You can touch it with the other hand?" Addams inquired. "You feel what it feels? In what way is it not real, or not yours?"

Lieutenant Gray held up the hand in question, flexing it, turning it. "It exists, yes," she said, quietly. "But... I left my arm, almost to the elbow, on board a burning freighter. This one...." she trailed off.

Addams made a thoughtful sound. "It's been three years since the incident aboard Sato Maru. In that time, the engineered tissues have undergone apoptosis at a natural rate, and been replaced with your autologous tissue. The muscle and bone are assimilating nicely, and the neurons have completely linked with your own nervous system."

"I know all that," the Lieutenant said with a sigh, lowering the arm again. "But I still can't shake this feeling."

Addams nodded. "What you're experiencing is not physical," she observed. "Which does not mean that you are not experiencing it, or that it is not real. It does mean that I am not the right person to help you. I am therefore writing you a referral to my colleague, Dr. Graves."

"A psychiatrist?" Gray asked, sounding unenthusiastic.

"A shrinker of heads," Addams said. She was tapping away on her desk, presumably writing the referral she'd mentioned. She glanced up, at the top shelf of the glass cabinet secured to the bulkhead, at a curio, apparently a ball of leather with some fiber sticking out the top.

Gray followed her gaze, and realized that the thing was a shrunken head. She paled.

"Usually not so literally," Addams said with a ghoulish smile. She tapped the desktop once more, and Lieutenant Gray's PADD vibrated in her pocket. "I'm sure you will find him quite personable, actually. And if not...." She glanced once more at the top shelf.

"Yes, ma'am," the Lieutenant said, getting to her feet and exiting the office quickly.

Addams sat in silence for a minute after the young woman's departure, regarding the shrunken head. "Ah, Thing," she said at last. "What trouble brains cause us."

Thing, for its part, declined to comment.

09 September 2017

The Numbers of Doom!

Well, it's all over now.

1615 people signed up for a chance to receive a copy of Flowers of Luna, and five people were selected... four in the United States, and one in Great Britain.

In the three days when the eBook was a free download from Amazon, approximately 250 people took advantage and downloaded it.

I hope that all of you who received a copy, whether physical or electronic, enjoy it.  And I know I've been saying this a lot, but please... take a moment to review it on Amazon.  It really does make a difference in how Amazon deals with the book, even if you just post "It was good."

Oh, and yes; thank you.  My birthday was very nice, also.

04 September 2017

Free Without Doom!

Tomorrow is my birthday.

Labor day is named for the day my mother went into labor, so if you have the day off today, you're welcome.  But I'm not content to stop there.  Oh, no, I am not.

Today, tomorrow, and Wednesday, Flowers of Luna is absolutely free to download from Amazon.com. That's free.  No money.  No munny.  Zero dollars, no pounds, no euros, no yen. No clams, no bucks, not even a single simoleon. Free.

So if you're one of the seven hundred and change people who signed up for the giveaway, now's your chance to read the book without cost, without risk, without worry. Download it. Read it.  No strings.

But if you'd be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon, I would be grateful.  Very, very grateful.