…woke Erran in the early dawn on his second day in Chesny Wold.
His meeting with the wyvern the day before had been brief, dominated by beak and teeth, colorful head frills, huge eyes rising above him on a snake-ish neck, and shrieks like a hundred raging harpies. Finding the human amongst the leftovers of its meal, the wyvern had sought no introduction, but lunged straightaway. Erran instinctively dropped down among the deer bones, rolled under the trunk of a fallen tree, and froze behind it.
The massive head did not appear above him, and after about a minute of listening to angry thrashing and growling, Erran took a deep breath and a chance. He jumped up and shot his arrow into the bushes. The beast’s head whipped around after the sound, and Erran took off in the opposite direction, leaving the wyvern entangled in brambles.
It had been encounter enough, though, and he had spent most of that night in the caravan in the stable yard of the Old Ram, going through his books and crafting spells.
Now, summoned by the incessant knocking, he climbed from his bed, shaking papers from the blankets, and stepped out to find most of the Chesny Council with more questions and complaints.
He could at least tell them what kind of dragon it was.
“It’s a blood wyvern,” he said, rubbing his eyes.
“A what?” was the chorused response.
Things go downhill from there for Erran Fox, Ranger of the Beast Goddess.
The illustrations for An Alchemy of Dragons draw on traditional Celtic patterns and Medieval illuminations. I got on a bit of a roll this month, and also added another illustration to Chapter 2, along with ornamental section separators in all the chapters, copied from 14th century French manuscripts.
Happy October! Tonight, the full Hunter’s Moon is shining side by side with Jupiter at its closest and brightest, and Halloween is coming up fast.
I’ve always been inspired by things associated with this time of year. Magic and the occult. Myths and monsters. Dreams and the night. The masks we wear and what lies beneath them. And above it all, the beautiful, changing, eternal Moon.
To start the celebration of my favorite month and my favorite season, here is a selection of artworks I’ve made through the years, exploring these themes.
Chesny Wold was a soft land of green meadows dotted with flowers. The undulating terrain rose and dipped like waves in motion. They had landed near one of the Temple’s shrines, a water hole circled by standing stones carved with Nimrie’s symbols. All creatures might stop here as they pleased and be blessed by the place’s sacred aura. Yet no beasts grazed these pastures, as far as Erran could see.
Nearby in one direction, a line of trees marked a road, and in another, a soft sound and a fresh, earthy smell suggested a swift-running stream. Over one hill rose a faint haze of chimney smoke. On the slopes and ridge of another stood a dark mass that seemed to resist the dawn. Shadow and tension radiated into the air above it like a different kind of smoke.
“I would keep clear of that place, brother,” a voice called out.
So hi. How’s it going? It’s been a challenging few weeks, hasn’t it? Yes, it has. It freaking damn well has been challenging. And I’m sure those whose idea of fun is to make life harder than it needs to be have plenty more challenges in store for all of us.
But you know what? The hell with them.
Because you know what else happened since my last post? NASA started receiving the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, and it’s spectacular! Here is NPR’s report about it.
Our universe is bigger, fuller, and more sparkly than I, for one, dared to hope.
To quote Jane Rigby, operations project scientists for the JWST, “Everywhere we look, there’s galaxies everywhere.”
It’s so wonderful, and honestly, by comparison, I’m just done with all the petty, trivial, back-biting toxicity that some people on our little planet want to waste everyone’s time with.
Look around you. There are galaxies everywhere! And flowers, and bees, and rainbows, and rabbits. The other day, I baked a cake with raspberries from my own garden. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of King Arthur Flour (an employee-owned company; no affiliation): Late Summer Berry Torte. It’s super easy, and you can make it with just about any fruit.
This is what matters in life.
So here’s what we’re not going to do: We’re not going to waste any more time with crap that doesn’t matter. We’re not going to let the bastards take away our rights, ruin our environment, get us sick again, or otherwise make our lives revolve around them, because they are tiny, stupid, pointless, and they don’t matter.
Here’s what we are going to do instead: We’re going to make art and look at art. Read stories and write stories. Eat yummy things. We’re going to keep everybody’s rights – period. We’re going to keep transitioning to clean energy and saving Planet Earth – period. We’re going to pay attention to the countless galaxies and stars sparking like jewels out there in the forever and ever.
And we’re going to know that this is the reality we all live in together, not some bleak, zero-sum, dead-end bullshit a certain bunch of raging randos dreamed up for themselves.
In the Reality Universe, we live in light, color, sparkles, and bunnies, and we have cake, so we win.
Poetry: Four new poems are up for reading. Click the Books & Writing tab to check them out. They were all written one sunny day when I was trying to work on my porch but got distracted by the perfection of the afternoon.
Web Novel: An Alchemy of Dragons, Chapter 1, is coming next week, around July 20, hopefully. Here’s a rough hint about the in-progress illustrations, from my sketchbook:
June is one of those times, isn’t it? It’s a quarter month, when the year takes another turn. The summer solstice is – checks calendar – Tuesday. Already! Omg. Things are happening. The garden is blooming, bees all over the place, beans shooting up. The baby birds are flying. I can’t help but keep moving, too.
Three new small paintings are in the Shop now. Two abstract landscapes and one representative image of the moon over my street at 2:00 in the morning. I’ve been working late a lot. See below, and Shop here.
My second ever poem to be released in public is up. Titled “Spilled Ink,” it tells the story of the painting of Abstract Landscape 6, and I think something more as well. Read it here.
An Alchemy of Dragons continues in progress. The beginning is the most daunting part of an adventure, don’t you think? It’s the first and potentially most fatal test of one’s competence. I have to start a key set of wheels turning in these first chapters, and I admit, it’s taking longer to get it right than I’d hoped. But I think it will be worth it. Aiming for July on that one. Be sure to sign up for the Newsletter for alerts when chapters are posted.
Finally, I’ve taken on a new project, a commission, which will stay a secret for now. It’s pretty big. I have no idea how long it will take to finish. I will post hints and progress reports as I go.
It’s actually a bit intimidating when I list it all out like this. It’s all been happening in just the past few weeks. Sometimes, I don’t even feel the pace of work, like the dizzying speed of the Earth’s rotation, and I have no idea where I am in my To-Do list, just as I have no innate sense of where I am on the planet. I’m just here, now, doing whatever I’m doing – painting, drawing, writing, business, gardening, house stuff, people stuff, world stuff, giving a freaking interview for crying out loud, making good on commitments, oy-geez.
Maybe I just need to put my nose back down on its comfy grindstone and avoid that big-picture perspective thing for a while.
Welcome to Aeldreth, where gods live among mortals, magic is mundane, and two unlikely heroes stand between an ancient curse of poison and hate and the very soul of the world.
Erran Fox, a Ranger of the Earth Realm, loves his job. He gets plenty of fresh air, time to himself, and keeps well clear of his family’s politics. That is, until he is sent to quell a rampaging wyvern and runs into a web of conspiracies, lies, and a mysterious bard who might be as dangerous as the dragon itself.
When the wyvern’s blood gem is stolen, Erran must find it before its deadly magic spreads. Is there anyone he can trust as he chases the thief through a maze of sorcery, betrayals, and enemies from his own past?
Iarius Venzo, the Bard of Perna, has many faces and many secrets. In bawdy taverns or glimmering palaces, weaving lovers’ dreams or royal plots, there is purpose in all he does. That is, until he tangles with a mad wyvern and a dedicated Ranger who is more than he seems and won’t take no for an answer.
With Fox at his heels, and treachery hidden everywhere, can Iarius pull off the most delicate and dangerous gamble of his life? Or will the Realm and his own fate unravel in his hands?
From magical cabals, to enchanted hearts, and one mystical beast after another, Erran and Iarius race against time to save the land – and themselves – from An Alchemy of Dragons.
The full description of the upcoming web novel!
I’m having so much fun writing it. I’m pretty confident you’ll enjoy reading it, too. Sign up for the newsletter to get email updates when chapters are posted.
In addition, a new poem,” Spilled Ink,” is up for reading. Check out it and the novel info on the Writing & Books tab.
Also, three new small paintings will be added to the Shop soon. Watch this space.
News! I was recently interviewed for The Somerville Times by poet, publisher, and arts editor, Doug Holder. We touched on my personal history, my creative process in art and writing, and my sources of inspiration.
It’s perhaps a little more of a glimpse behind the curtain than I often give out, and I’m excited to share it with you all. It’s drawing me out of my burrow, as it were, just a bit.
I’d like to thank Doug for his kind interest in my work and for asking wonderful questions that made it easy for a recluse like me to talk about myself.