WIP update, a photo and a poem


Since mid-July I’ve been working on a complete rewrite of The Green Woman series, and a couple of weeks ago I finished it. It has grown by 100,000 words and is very different to the original in just about everything. The central idea is the same, but not the way it’s presented, and the characters, the tone and the story threads are all different. It’s gone from straight YA to an older readership that I would describe as crossover adult.

About ten days ago I started revising another manuscript that I like a lot but was far too short. It’s now finished, 13,000 words longer and just about passes muster for length. I have two other projects that are started, and I should choose one of those and get on with it, but I think I need a break first—too many characters and too many stories still squatting my brain.

The brilliant hot summer weather has just broken this afternoon. Not with the thunderbolts and torrential rain we were promised, but the persistent wind rose to violent gusts, bringing rain clouds. It rained for a half an hour, the wind dropped and the evening is dull and grey. Summer, I think has finally gone.


The change is coming, the turning of the year into the dark time. South wind blows blue and the sky is still full of summer, but the shaking of the trees is eerie. Not just the whispering, sea-hiss of the poplars but the ploying and raking of the oaks and the alders, green leaves silver-backed writhe in torment on twisting branches with the roar of the ocean. Soon, the wind will turn, bringing cloud and rain, and the leaves will give up the unequal fight. Are they leaves or birds that scud across the meadow?

Do the hinds count the young ones left of this year’s brood, mourn the lost and cover the survivors with panic-stricken care, or do they cast a cold eye on the changing sky, the flickering leaves and listen for the heavy human tread, the snuffle of dog in the bracken? With grace, they melt into the shadows where perhaps another day waits at the other side.

Year ends in rain

golden and crisp, feathered

as fleeing birds.


Night colour creeps

I wrote this for Colleen’s poetry challenge then realised I’d done it wrong on two counts—it’s a nonette, not an etheree, and I didn’t use synonyms. I’m tired. Here it is anyway, and I’ll write another poem for the challenge. The painting is by Evelyn de Morgan.


Night colour creeps among evening trees,

seeps into the dark ocean green,

filling hollows where the sun

had shone with softest grey.

Dove and pigeon-plumed

night falls silent

as fox pads,

owl flight,




#writephoto: Farewell

The last time I participated in Sue’s photo challenge was the Pillars, because it was so apt for the novel I was rewriting. I’m rewriting another story now, and this photo is so exactly right, I have to slip this in. Thanks Sue. Must be telepathy.


I sit on the rocks exposed by the low tide and watch the house on the cliffs. I watch the man walk to the end of his garden where children play and an unseen wife moves back and forth in the house behind. I wonder if he sees me, and if he does, if he knows who I am. This is not his place. He was born for the lights of the city, the glamour of la côte. He should have been preparing for the theatre, a first night, a vernissage, a meal at a fashionable restaurant with a starlet on his arm. Yet he stands on this cliff overlooking the Atlantic, watching the waves, and his life ebbs and flows like the tides, but mainly it ebbs.

Tears well, the woman’s tears I never shed when I left him, too intent on making my own life complete. Complete? Did I have a choice? We do what our nature bids us do, and mine was to return to the sea, but I can still weep, because he never understood why I left, and because he still forgives me.

The others are calling. Does he hear too? He turns, his shoulders slumped. How old is he? Time flows differently in the ocean. He turns and the others call.

Forget me, I whisper to the waves. But I know he never will.

Why so far?

For the dverse prompt.


Watching the swallows gather, stringing their smart white shirts and dark tails along the wires, like guests at a wedding, waiting for the bride, I feel the sharp turn the wind has taken. Wires sway and trees sway and the world sways in the gusts from the north. Feathers flutter and birds bunch, leaning one against the other. Are they whispering, is it time? The sea awaits, le grand bleu, and it gets no smaller for the waiting. The south calls— is it time? —beyond the deserts, Saharan, Arabian—why so far?

Hundreds gather in black tails, itching for the off, skimming the last mosquitoes, and I watch the last, the lingerer on the telephone wire. All of summer is in those sleek plumes, sunbeams in the darting flight, the endless chatter of bird voices. Do you not wish to end the summer quite yet? Can you still feel the memory of baking heat in those long narrow wings? I sense your hesitancy to brave the broad sea, but the tingling fear of coming autumn storms is the stronger. The flock departs, in twos, threes, tens, hunting insects across the valley and over the woods. The wire is empty—a flash of gleaming black, a streak of white, sky-speck, and summer is gone.

Catching sunbeams,

bird-sleek and warm in my hand—

empty sky echoes.

Daily poem: September


We see you every evening,

as you lope long-legged

along the stream

beneath the willows,

hare bold as brass.


Grass crisps in the sun,

bakes hard where meadow flowers grew,

new shoots wait for the rain.


Strain against the wind

like the poplars,

ships in full sail,

their boughs foam-hissing,

waves ebbing.


Webbing the morning grass

with silver threads,

dew-quilting the meadow,

a silent army of spiders spin.


Begin the autumn dance,

yellow leaves, heat-dried,

the first to join the spectacle

that starts so slow and stately

and ends, the last dead stragglers

stripped in the shrieking wind.


In death, the bare year wilts,

stringing lines of the departed,

swallows, geese, those who know

the cold is coming,

and the pale sun will light only frost.


Lost in a web,


diamond labyrinth,

that catches the last cold of night

and strings it in a complex fantasy,

I walk the silvery meadow.


Below the earth

are our feet planted,

rooted in this time and place—

we watch the stars,

still as this night

and the windless trees.


Breeze fills the sails of the sky

drawing the clouds from the west—

rain smells of the sea.


We watch the world change

from this window,

leaves falling like gold coins

in the wind,

and the year growing older.


Colder mornings

strung with spider strings,

plucking the chords of the meadow

in a mournful song.


Long ago and far away,

the voice fell and someone heard.

If we peer hard enough,

will we see the people of the air

hastening at last to fulfil their vow?


How did this happen,

the dying of all we hold so dear?

The stuff of poems and paintings

is rotting in plain sight,

and we stir its dust

with our careless tread.


Dread of the gun-crack grows

and death in the grass,

anger for the loss of sleek, agile beauty,

stolen by the slow and corpulent

with their killing machines.


Sheen silvers wet leaves

when the sun comes back

from its journey through the night

and the thick mists of morning.


Warning of colder times

in the fall of acorns

beneath a radiant sun,

and the cascade of hawthorn berries

red as a winter sunset.


Beset by worries

that midge bite

and tick nibble,

sleep dances out of reach

to fly the starry night.


Bright these middays still

and hot enough to seek the shade

but morning mist is long to clear

and twilight glimmer fades too soon,

a mass of shadows deep.


Sleep, a dance of in and out,

weaving silver light with shadow,

heat tossing sheets

then curled with chill

until dawn threatens

and weary dancing feet are still.


Will this be the last,

or will there be another road to find,

a map to read, route to plot

across different fields,

crossing paths of other lives?


Dive so deep, frog

that the heron will not see

the stripe of leaf green on the stream bed

where all is brown mud

and last year’s leaves.


Sleeves ravelled up,

in the last of summer we bask,

lizard-blinking at the sun,

dappling the walls of sleeping stone,

soaking heat for long winter nights.


Lights across the sky, only stars,

no moon betrays the stalkers and grazers,

only night, cool and gentle

brings peace.


Fleece those who are already threadbare,

for though the poor have little,

there are so many more of them

than the rich.


Which way, now

that the trees are gone

and fields stretch bare of life?

Will we follow the homeless,

the evicted, into the night?


Bright stars sprinkle the dark

full of owl wings beating

and the sighing of trees,

the heart and lungs of the earth.


Mirth rings from these trees,

jay laughter perhaps,

or is it alarm?

Deer slip back into shadows,

and woodpecker flies

back to the gentle arms

of the oak.


Broken, the crusted earth,

cracked like old varnish,

and in the chasms,

life ripples and runs,

this summer’s end.


Bend the light home,

shine with golden sun,

and no rain shall fall,

but a ring of happiness,

bright as water,

will this day be.