The occasional observations of Carolyn Kephart, writer

Friday, August 28, 2009

Flowering Fortunes

In the Byzantine calendar, September 1 is the beginning of the new year. Since I was born on that date, I always (or at least since I became familiar with the Byzantine calendar) consider it my personal New Year's Day, promising another fresh start.

This could well be one of the best creative years I've had in a long time. Last week, the rights to my two novels reverted exclusively to me, and I've decided to make both books available solely as digital versions for the time being. No sooner did they appear on Mobipocket the other night than they began generating sales. Today, Smashwords (which carries my short story 'Regenerated') sent me an e-mail announcing their affiliation with Barnes and Noble, for which my books will apparently qualify. My short story 'Last Laughter,' to appear in a few days as part of the fall issue of Silver Blade, will be yet another birthday present.

I'm now working on combining Wysard and Lord Brother into a single volume as they were originally meant to be, including in the text all the passages that fell to the cutting-room floor because of page constraints in the paper versions. Many other projects are competing for my attention, though, and I'll try to give them all quality time.

Among those projects will be a story dedicated to a friend who recently passed away. Anne Braude, better known as Talpianna to the numerous acquaintance that cherished her, affected my life more than her gentle whimsical nature would have ever taken credit for, and I know I'm not the only one so privileged. Namaste, Anne.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Coming Soon...No, Really

One of the most macabre yet sincere compliments I've ever received came from a friend about half my age who read my books soon after their publication, and commented that the emotion they most evoked in him was sadness, because someday fairly soonish I'd be dead and he wouldn't be able to read any more of me. Charmed, I assured him that by the time the Reaper came to collect, I'd have a dazzling oeuvre of at least a dozen more tomes to swell my legacy.

Now it's a decade later and I'm tired of feeling guilty. Making Wysard and Lord Brother available for the Amazon Kindle has gained me many new readers and I'm very grateful, but only guys like Homer get away with just two books to their credit. Yes, there were reasons, some of them dire, for my lack of output, but that was then. I have four novel manuscripts in varying stages of completion, and they will be completed, but I was hankering for the sweet taste of some immediate recognition, so to that end I dusted off a short story that had been moldering in my skull for years, finished it, and sent it out into the world. 'Last Laughter,' a fable involving a wicked court jester and his comeuppance, will appear in Silver Blade Quarterly at the end of this month. It's a free read, and I welcome comments.

Lots more to come. Finally.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

On Shining Brightly

This last month of summer makes me want to hold on to the heat and never let it go. The inevitability of another year's demise makes me restless and brooding, ironic in a time of harvest. The Zen way, which I admire, is to give one's full mind to the Now and to treat every action as a ritual; I've been trying very hard to be as conscious as I can of every moment, and in doing so I realize just how necessary reflection is to the health of the spirit.

When speaking of reflection, I don't mean the current hyperactive obsession to make oneself an object of dedicated perpetual scrutiny. There is nothing more limiting than self, and when it comes to the things of the mind, people desperately need to get out more. It's crucial for the betterment of the world, which is quite literally dying for a dose of sublimity. The worst of what we are is being exalted. Popular entertainment is mining our baseness and reaching rock bottom. Most of what purports to be uplifting is doing it for the dollar, and is cloying and condescending. It's bafflingly, appallingly childish, this joy in kicking over what was built with care, in smearing and scrawling, in the gleeful obsession with the low and the vulgar.

When a toddler tries to run out into the traffic, it's testing the gentle caring arms that will pull it back into an embrace that is meant to sustain as much as restrain. The current state of societal arrested development both annoys and disturbs me, but more babysitters isn't the answer. We need to be better parents to ourselves, and grow not only up, but outward. We need to quit stuffing our selves with junk and defacing our minds and bodies and deliberately putting ourselves in harm's way simply because there's no one there to stop us. Little children are precious beings full of promise; why should that be any less true all their lives?