100 YEARS BACK, 12 YEARS FORWARD – REFLECTIONS ON REMEMBRANCE DAY 2018

We commemorate the end, 100 years ago today, of a war. We weren’t there, but still we can feel the relief, the weight finally lifted, the peace that is so necessary to our souls.

Breathing deep, shifting our eyes forward, today we too need to serve―not cross an ocean and fight an enemy, but to fight, right here, in our own homes and hearts, the greater enemy of unsustainable habits that are marching us toward the most terrible of possible wars, over food and water and a square foot of safe land.

Fight our self-centred thoughts and unthinking actions; our insistence that everything’s okay because so it seems to be for ourselves; our knee-jerk wish for always more; our belief that we are entitled to what we have, and others not so much; our unwillingness to look at what we are doing to the world, the creatures upon it, our children and each other; our lack of will to make the biggest or even the smallest change; our turning, again, a blind eye; our unadmitted greed, which sets the stage for Nothing for Anyone; our refusal to really care…

History says that we must care. Caring, to be real, must take shape in hope and in action.

Today, please, 100 years out, take a first fighting action to help spare us all from a future worse than any war.

Need action ideas? Please ask.

BACK IN KANSAS – STORIES OF A HIGH SCHOOL REUNION

    All of us come bringing stories to this late-September Midwestern place of reunion (bring them everywhere, really). It’s just that many of mine are already jotted down, input, printed or published. This ends up being a gift―to me, and hopefully to others, as I listen to old and new friends, and often find a story that fits each tale.

– As a classmate’s wife talks about living in Florida, I hand her my way-too-late-trip-to-Disney World story, Room on the Planet

– A fellow grad I don’t quite remember has lived, like me, the sadness of their father’s struggle with Parkinsons― that’s what the above story is really about; I give them a copy…

– The lost-girl-in-LA story, Rent Asunder, goes to a California classmate…

– To a physician and then a friend lamenting their forgetfulness goes The Edible and the Beauteous and the Dead, about a man finding the gift in his gradual loss of words…

–  One classmate worked for NASA, and now writes science fiction―to him, some climate fiction, Water and Oil, or the reluctant robot story, At the Corner of Railroad and What Looks Like Amen

And of course as I listen to highlights, ponder the decades, and wonder at how the cliques and gaps and chasms have become as nothing (how all we are about here is finding common ground), now memory and inspiration fold into each other―it looks like there will be more stories to come ~

Hey, we’re all classmates in this strange school of life. If any of the above stories speak to you, email me at aschultz@mail.ubc.ca, and I’ll send you a copy. Or give me another topic that’s on your mind―there just might be an app, I mean, a real live story for that…  

 

 

 

Excited & Tarrying… plus an Excerpt

  Jan. 20

I am beyond excited to be almost finished writing my first Middle Grade novel, which could be summed up as Diverse Step-family meets Rude Ghosts…

Or, excited and tarrying, as it’s a disconcerting feeling to be done with a world one’s been living in for 2+ years. That could be why I keep thinking of another must-add scene, a loose thread that hasn’t been tied up yet, just one more conversation, a couple more pages that really nail the theme…

Jan. 27  

Seven pages later, four crucial scenes written, I think I really am on the last chapter. I don’t want to let it go. At this point, even the upcoming drudge-work of checking chronology and searching for words repeated too often, the daunting days of revision, sound good.

Okay, before I steel myself to go back to that last chapter, a random excerpt, just for fun:

*******

Back in my room, even though it’s probably only about 2:00, I whip on my thickest flannel pajamas.  Still way too cold. Socks, slippers, the pink sweatshirt from yesterday. And just for good measure, the long Indian scarf Dad gave me when he and Mom told us they were getting married. It feels good to have it on.

“Sally McMally?”

Grandpa’s in the kitchen, it sounds like, and I do want to go hang out. Except I’m really scared he saw that the Book is gone. “Ya?” I cross my fingers and am about to head for the door when something rustles under the bed. Or squeaks. Or yowls and flies out from under it chasing something that’s even faster.

Perched on my chair hugging my knees, I squint at the little chase scene and then roll my eyes. It’s Calico. And nothing. Or just whatever it is that she keeps batting ahead of her like a maniac. Probably a crumpled-up piece of newspaper. Wrong. It’s like there are sparks flying from it and kind of a trail of blue-green smoke. It’s what’s left of one of the pages of the Book, which is hidden way back under the bed. And then Calico half-hisses half-growls at me like, What the heck are you looking at?

This is when Grandpa rolls down the hall to my door tooting the bicycle horn he seems to think was a good addition to his walker, and says fairly grumpily, “Tea will be stone-cold at this rate. Your mother’s off shopping again.”

Okay, tea with my grandfather sounds just fine right now. I cross the room fast, keeping my eyes on Calico. And the page between her paws. Safe. I think. But then Grandpa’s eyes widen and he looks like he’s going to have a stroke. Oh man, did he figure it out? I spin around and stare into my room but except for the cat stretching up on its hind legs and trying to push the page, which has stopped sparking, smoking or anything else unusual, under my pillow, there’s nothing astonishing going on…

*******

Winning Unbeknownst

   Knew my story “Bread” was a finalist for the Cedric Award. But now we were rolling through Colorado (could have been Utah, possibly Nevada). No wi-fi. Finally checked emails in Sacramento. But forgot about the other email account. Home. Busy writing and editing (myself and others). About a week later, happened to look at the Cedrics website. Then found the email announcement. Hello, I’d won the 2017 Cedric Literary Award in Fiction…

Honoured & grateful. Will post an excerpt soon…

“Figment of Footlights and Reverb”, an excerpt from the short story

…Another alley, somewhat wider, crosses this one, meanders west, invites her in. When she steps, sudden, into it, there is now just a little more light; fading garlands roping a splintering roughhewn door, candles in a window, sleeping or sliding figures that flash in moon glow on either side. The sudden gleam of brass hinges, a silver latch, then fluted window frames in rose-pink walls…

Silhouettes bend whispering around a fitful circle of spark and glowing coals. A sleeping cow; nearby the flat blue screen of cellphone cradled in a wrinkled hand, a twist of incense. Princess’ heart quickens. There really is everything yet to know!

As she performs a clumsy pirouette, wanting to pull every vision, every sound into her mind, twine them around her soul, there is a tap on her shoulder.

“Hey.”

It is the boy, the handsome one, the one from Ramlila Maidan. Right. That one. Rude it may be, but she does not answer him a word. How did he― What is he even doing here? This moment? It is only hers

Place of Departure

 

Schenectady, N.Y. to Walpole, Mass., Philadelphia to Chicago to Kansas City… As a child, I had no say, saw place as something that might not last, escaped into the unfailing world of books.

Finally, then choices ― Vermont for college, Italy like home rediscovered, and graduate school in British Columbia leading me at long last to a place to stay, a place to write about and to stand up for. Though I’m first and foremost a prose writer, it is in poems that I freeze-frame lake and log boom, new moon, clear-cut cedars, still-tall pines and the Friday night sidewalks of skid row Vancouver.

And yet, after decades, BC has quietly begun to serve also as the template for my novels and stories, providing an achingly beautiful place of departure for the ravaged world of my climate fiction. Even as we who live here simultaneously spoil and protect it, BC becomes ever more my platea, the open space that sustains me, from which I declaim the truths I have the honor of glimpsing in sea and fellow place keepers and wide wide sky…