The occasional observations of Carolyn Kephart, writer

Friday, November 19, 2010

Just Out!

I've gathered five of my short stories into a collection entitled PenTangle: Five Pointed Fables. It's available for the Kindle at, and will be appearing soon at Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and various other e-book stores. (If it isn't listed as available, give it a day or so.)

Although I'd originally thought of using an actual pentangle for the cover, it looked too literal and didn't really fit the content. I finally decided on a starfish, because they're so strange and lovely.

The stories are all very short, fantastical, and meant to elicit reflection:

   The Kind Gods: Did the old gods really die? A warrior seeks answers at the burial-mound of his greatest enemy.
   The Heart's Desire: A government scryer's life is a prison until she and her bodyguard discover the ultimate secret language.
   Last Laughter: A cautionary tale about a wicked court jester and his comeuppance. First published in Silver Blade Fantasy Quarterly.
   Regenerated: Cela always hoped she’d find Jorgen again someday…but was this really Jorgen? A tenderly bitter tale of love and giant lizards, first published in Quantum Muse.
   Everafter Acres: Happily Ever After isn’t always perfect, but dark knights can be illuminating.

Five's my lucky number, so I'm hoping the book does well.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Hot News

Today my novel The Ryel Saga: A Tale Of Love And Magic is being featured on the popular e-book site Daily Cheap Reads, and as an extra boost to the day I've been interviewed at Two Ends of the Pen, a terrific writers' blog.

What a great way to end the week!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Unreasonable Things

Oh, reason not the need! ~King Lear

During the Fall season I become at once nostalgic and merciless. I remember the past and either want it back or wish that it had never happened, and I sort out and/or get rid of whatever I feel I no longer have a need for. Useless knicknacks and trinkets, clothes that no longer suit me, shoes that never were comfortable, books and magazines that only take up space and collect dust, beliefs that no longer hold water...away with them. Winter is a spare, lean season only weeks away now, and I want to meet it on its own terms.

But some things I keep in defiance of mutability or reason. I love paper with a scribe's reverence (I love pens too, but that's another fetish for another blog entry). Empty books I'll probably always leave blank, delicate handmade washi  I just like to look at, origami paper too lovely to wreck by folding...I keep them safe and dry and bring them out now and then to contemplate, imagining possibilities. Here are some I recently collected on my travels to Japan and Taiwan; click on the images to enlarge them.

 Very fine origami paper. The picture doesn't do justice to the splendor of the gold highlights.

 A Japanese gift topper. I just can't bear to give it away yet.

An empty book that says it all, in shiny white with black flocked velvet. 
Anything I wrote in it would seem futile.

I suppose I acquired this in the naive hope that the contents would magically open up into the swan pictured on the wrapper. Had I looked closer I'd have realized that I'm expected to construct the bird myself from the enclosed myriad of tiny pink and red squares of paper. Maybe in my next life...

A couple of extremely teensy models (only a couple of inches high) based on very large buildings. I can't bring myself to pop them out of the cardboard and construct them.

A perfect notebook for an ironic angst-filled autobiography.
I'm saving it for later.

Regarding writing matters, I was recently interviewed by David Wisehart on his popular blog Kindle Author. David asked an intriguing array of questions that I greatly enjoyed answering. See what you think!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Food of the Gods

It's mango mochi. It can only be mango mochi. Disregard the garishly-hued whole items on the plate and contemplate the cut-open white one. That's the thing I mean.

Hub and I buy most of our groceries at the local Asian market because they're cheaper, tastier and more unpredictable than the ones at the regular chains. Every week or so we make the drive to get long skinny Chinese eggplants, chubby striped Mexican zucchini, leeks, chard, pod peas, Thai basil for pesto, as well as Malaysian cream crackers and coconut biscuits. Recently the market started carrying different kinds of mochi, and we bought lots of the matcha (green tea) variety, having loved it since Japan; but last week we discovered mango. Surely the kami favored us that day.

Just opening the box and breathing in the fragrance was heaven, and those little bundt-cake shapes were so adorably cute. Then it only got better: the most tender fresh glutinous rice wrapping , satiny to the teeth, just sweet enough, enrobing an ambrosial smooth mango conserve. I could have scarfed the whole 6-piece box in a sitting, but had to leave some for Hub.

I'm almost tempted to start a food blog.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


The first real Spring days have begun, and they're splendid. My daffodils had glorious innings, and my crabapple and redbud trees are now on the point of bursting into bloom. I've opened the windows wide, letting in the sweet winds from the south.

I've finally gotten around to making a map of the world in which The Ryel Saga takes place, and now have even greater respect for cartographers. It's so much easier to just write, and let the lands fill out in imagination.

Although I didn't model any of The Ryel Saga's characters on actual or fictional persons, I was very much inspired by art. If it hadn't been for Donatello, I'd never have written the scene in which Lord Michael Essern, perhaps my favorite character in the story, appears in Almancar disguised as a grim and squalid street preacher. It was the statue of the prophet Habbakuk that made me envision my black-uniformed soldier-sorcerer with the shoulder-length skeins of blood-red hair as a shorn and ragged-robed fanatic, spreading the ruinous word of the Master, a deity in harsh absolute contrast to the gentle forgiving pantheon of Destimar's luxurious capital. This is a man tormented since birth by demon-bane, who once served his country honorably but has been corrupted by the false promises of a malignant power, and is now capable of terrible crimes. The statue perfectly captures his intensity and isolation.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Finding It Everywhere

Chilly, chilly winds blowing

Lovely spring coming soon

I wear my body like a caravan

Gipsy rover in a magic land
Misty mountains where the eagles fly

Lonely valleys where the lost ones cry

I had a little letter full of paper

Inky scratches everywhere

Always looking, looking for a paradise island

Help me find it everywhere

The Incredible String Band, 'Ducks On A Pond'

Bleak and gray as the weather's been, I managed to snap a picture of the daffies in my yard whilst the sun was shining. It's hard for me to exercise patience at this time of year, but I take heart in knowing that the days will grow ever warmer, and this terrible winter will die at last.

I've been more active on Facebook lately, because it's a warm feeling to have friends. Although I'll always be a nomad in my heart, and the lyrics I've quoted above have many meanings for me, it's a pleasure to rein in at that Internet caravanserai.

The Kind Gods now has 211 downloads at Smashwords since I posted it a week ago, a response I never expected. I'm working at completing another short story, Everafter Acres, which I'll probably send off to e-zines for consideration because street cred counts, but the instant gratification of Smashwords was what I needed in this gray interval between ice and awakening.

Since its publication only a couple of months ago, The Ryel Saga has sold hundreds of Kindle copies, but so far has only a single Amazon review. I'm of course delighted with it because it's five stars and from the well-known critic Red Adept; I just wish it had more company!


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Cutting Diamonds

Short stories take lapidary patience, and I labor mightily to get the maximum glitter out of each little facet. My latest has gone through many versions, but I'm finally contented enough with the result to put it up on Smashwords, where it will be free to read. The story is The Kind Gods, and here is the blurb:

Did the old gods really die? A warrior seeks answers at the burial-mound of his greatest enemy.

The story has only been up since last night and already has 60 downloads, all of which are of versions not as good as the final cut, which bothers me. I don't want anything but my best to show. Fortunately, the cover is just the way I want it.


Monday, March 01, 2010

All Me, All Now

INTERVIEW: I'm now among the featured authors at Spad's Literary Potpourri, a delightful blog bringing its fortunate readers "an eclectic mix of art, articles, anecdotes, aphorisms, poetry and brief excerpts from a variety of sources related only by their excellence and timeless quality." Ron Skinner, aka Spad, asks the sorts of questions authors dream of answering, so if you ever wanted to know all about me, here's your chance. It's a tremendous compliment to be interviewed at such length, and so thought-provokingly. Spad is widely read and deeply reflective, and his blog is a daily array of treasures, absolutely free.

I've also redecorated my website, A Writing Life. Colors and format continue to be spare and restrained.


Monday, February 08, 2010

Catching the Glow

When I give a dinner, my favorite time is afterward. The above photograph was taken during one of those relaxed intervals. The weather was still warm with fall just beginning, the hour was late, and people had momentarily wandered out to the deck as I reached for my camera. I muse upon that image and forget, for a happy instant, how cold it is now.