Graphic Novel Update: With Pictures!

I am about a third of the way through the pictures I will need for my graphic novel. I haven’t even started the formatting process, which I imagine will take a HUGE amount of time. While drawing, I’ve found myself rewriting, too, which is probably a good thing? Time will tell, I suppose. Anyway, I told myself when I got to this point, I’d share a little more with you. So here goes. Here’s a picture I drew with a tiny excerpt:

Sometimes her dreams are worth watching. Art by Michelle Garren Flye

I know my art is very basic. 🙂 I have never claimed to be a real artist. I’m using photographs I’ve taken mostly, the little artist models of people in different poses for others. My imagination is supplying some of it, but a lot is simple photo manipulation. Although I am rather proud of this one:

Art by Michelle Garren Flye

That one started off as a photo but quickly became something different. I’m not even certain where it will fit into the scheme of the graphic novel, but you can be sure it will be there.

And finally, the slightly updated cover by Farah Evers Designs (cover illustration by Barb Williams) along with the actual blurb for the book. Remember, this is still months away, but I have made it this far…

In a world in which sickness, storms and earthquakes fill the news with a darkness so black the television screen doesn’t even light up the room anymore, hope seems like a long way off. But for Kat Archer, this year is a year of great gifts. Like shining points of light, she finds them all along her path, and they lead her to look for more…and a greater desire to share the gifts of hope with others. Rekka, a mysterious being whose job it is to guard his “Listener” Kat, is caught off guard when her talent suddenly blossoms. He fears she will be caught by “the machine”, an evil entity that seeks to shut down free thought and unique expression. Can he keep her safe in a world where she may be the greatest hope humanity has left?

Poem: The End of the Dream, or Burning Hell

If you’re one of those who thinks God will save us from any mess we get ourselves into, so we can do whatever the hell we want to do, I hope you’re right. Maybe that’s not enough, but I do hope you’re right. On the other hand, I can’t help but think, well, if I was God, I would’ve thrown up my hands and walked away from us idiots a long time ago. And where does that leave us now with our planet on fire, inadequate leadership, a virus killing thousands per day and no way out? I know where it leaves us. It leaves us at the end of all that has nurtured us for so long.

The End of the Dream, or Burning Hell

By Michelle Garren Flye

Here we stand at the end of the dream.

Where do we go now?

I see no shining trails leading us away

From the end of all we know.

From bloody skies and boiling streets,

There is no rescue to come.

This horror we’ve concocted here

Is what’s left of our home.

Yes, the dream is gone, and rage takes over;

I feel it under my skin.

It crawls in through my open mouth

And makes its home within.

Fire and famine, fear and sorrow,

Burning hell takes over.

The nightmare has only just begun—

No one’s coming to wake you.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: Hellsong

Hellsong

By Michelle Garren Flye

Betrayal burns, feverish holes

Sprout and fill with flame,

Spilling ash out onto coals;

Leaping up, you’re unable to tame.

Will you watch it all burn?

Where will you go to escape?

No matter which way you turn

The consummation takes shape.

Don’t look for a way out—

Just give yourself to the fire.

The freedom you used to flout

Just a subject for the choir.

Your sins catch up to you here.

Your lies will haunt you again.

Remember them all, embrace fear—

Hell sings out in this last quatrain.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: Fire (Because the world is burning and nobody seems to care)

Fire

By Michelle Garren Flye

Burning from the inside out

Is better than exploding in public

Keep it inside, don’t be loud

No one cares what’s in your heart

So you can get away with that

Live a subtle life

Don’t speak what’s not asked.

Or…

Spit out the ash and fire and lava

That’s built up all your life

Because who cares?

Once it’s out it won’t matter

Anyway.

Lava leaves only ash in its wake

Ash chokes those who dare breathe it

And Fire destroys all in its path.

So burn anyway you want—

Kick it out to your neighbors (aha!)

With their green lawns peppered by red signs

Smash it into the bumpers branded enemy…

Or breathe it deliciously

Over those too slow to resist

Caress it onto those who forget to run

From Fire.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Haiku quest continues…

A few more of my better ones.

#14

Wind and rain lover’s

Knuckles brushing over cheek

Gentle but solid

#15

Rain beats the leaves down

Rushes on the ground to pool

Over the tree’s roots

#16

Inspiration comes

After storm falls on our heads

Umbrella is nice

#17

Irrational want

Desire what can never be

Love has no place here

#20

This excellent trip

Will end eventually

What happens then, love?

#21

Restless sleep tonight

The moon flows full over trees

Inviting rambles

#23

Why sleep in the night?

Fight circadian rhythms—

Living time is dear.

#24

Read haiku poem

Prepare for inspiration

Bursting with longing

#27

I love the rain sounds

On the glass paneled windows

Safe in my bookstore

#29

Summer evening

Alien ratchets and song

Wish I weren’t alone

#31

Scarlet cardinal

Takes flight, leaves the rest of us

Behind, bound to earth

#32

Late blooming flower

Pure and alone on the bush

I guess you forgot

#33

Bizarre masked people

Eating at sidewalk cafes

Through open zippers

#34

Can’t really decide

If surroundings are muted

Or are you just bright

#35

Reality runs

After me, chases, leaps and

Follows my retreat

Late blooming gardenia. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 7 (National Poetry Month): Mother’s Storm

April 7, 2020

Mother’s Storm

By Michelle Garren Flye

The storm hit us finally, with a smack—

A big, backhanded, whack.

We didn’t know quite what to think.

Why would Mother do us this way?

Why cast us into the fray?

Why would she push us to the brink?

And yet rain poured, and the water rose.

We were in it up to our nose.

And the storm, we found, was the link.

We figured out Mother wasn’t just mad,

No, our Mother was downright bad.

She wanted to blind us, wanted us to sink.

That’s not in a mother’s nature, it is true,

But when she’s thrown askew,

Mother Nature will kill without a blink.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Out of focus

Focusing on one thing at a time makes it difficult to see the big picture. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Today I sat in my silent bookstore hoping for the phone to ring with someone wanting to take advantage of my Covid-19 remote shopping option. The silence is of my own making. I closed to the public at the end of last week. It felt like the right thing to do.

It’s very difficult right now to know what the right thing to do is because it’s difficult to know what to focus on. Medical experts who say this epidemic will not end well if we don’t continue to isolate ourselves? Government hopefuls who expect real life to echo the movies and miracle cures to materialize out of thin air? Economic brains who anticipate the further shutdown of the economy to be more catastrophic than thousands of deaths?

And truly, it’s hard to see the true danger. It’s invisible until it hits you or someone you love. The medical community understands this. They’ve given us the tools to defend ourselves (wash hands, don’t touch face, remain socially distant), but they warn if we don’t use them, the effects will be devastating.

The truth is, though, this silent and invisible enemy will be the most devastating one we’ve ever faced if we don’t listen to facts. Scientific facts—something we’ve been trained to disbelieve in our recent alternative fact universe—are what can save us, but how likely are we as humans to listen now that so much is at stake? Our lives depend on it, but are our pocketbooks more important?

What do we focus on? We can’t focus on any one thing, really. We have to see the whole picture. All at once and from every angle. And know that what we don’t see—the invisible—can harm us.

Reflections on the darkest day of the year

Juneau moonlight

Happy darkest day of the year

Today is the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year, and, in my mind, the day of change. Hopefully for the better. Last year on this day, I got the idea to write children’s books. This year, I’ve written two. Jessica Entirely and Jessica Naturally, the first two books of my Jessica series, are now published and being consumed. Of course, to do that, I had to create a new identity as my romances are definitely not for kids. Thus was born Shelley Gee.

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I have also written a good bit of poetry this year. I like that. I published my first poetry booklet, Times and Ties, which I dedicated to a friend who passed away unexpectedly and tragically. I still miss you, Pam. You were a staunch supporter of my writing, especially my poetry. (By the way, I’m working on getting this booklet online. For now, it’s only available for purchase at our local small bookstore, The Next Chapter Books and Art.

For Pam

By Michelle

 

Oh my brain just couldn’t comprehend

But my treacherous heart heard the news

And held it close and took it in

 

Oh today is gray because you’ve left

Taking your light and helpful spirit

And you won’t be coming around

 

And oh my heart keeps reminding me

You’re gone.

 

Oh my friend what you’ve left behind

Has more value than words can say

More than most with twice the time

 

Oh the legacy of a loving life

The warm work of hands that care

Reminds us we’ll see the sun shine

 

But oh my heart keeps telling me

You’re gone.

 

Last year, I also took about six months of singing lessons, landed a spot in the choir for our local theatre’s production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, and accepted a spot on the board of our other local theatre. So I’m exploring a whole new arena of storytelling.

What will this next year hold for me? Well, I took a bit of a break from my romances in order to accomplish all this, and I’m eager to get back to it. Magic at Sea is calling me. I plan to answer that call today. After all, what better way to celebrate the return of light to the world than by writing about love? Beyond that? I know I’ll be writing more about little Jessica. I hope to be in more theatre and I know I’ll be behind the scenes for more. Tonight, I’ll light a fire and a few candles and think hard about how to make it all happen.

What about you? What will the light bring you?

For more ideas about how to celebrate the winter solstice, check out this website: https://rhythmsofplay.com/ways-to-celebrate-the-winter-solstice-2/

Also, my book Winter Solstice is still available from Lyrical Press:

wintersolstice cover

What is Utopia?

As a writer, I get to imagine things all the time, but one thing for me has always been sort of amorphous. What, exactly, would Utopia be like? I can imagine a place with green fields where everyone does their fair share, but eventually I start seeing flaws in the system. For instance, I don’t like working outdoors, I tend to kill plants, and I hate bugs. Would I be expected to help grow crops the same way my brother, who has a green thumb, would? And as a librarian, I wonder, would people who don’t care about books be expected to help me take care of them? How can you be a caretaker for something you have no care for? Who’s making all these rules, anyway?

Usually, I end up deciding I’d rather just retreat onto a mountaintop or desert island with the people I love most and have supplies air dropped to me. But what kind of liberal does that make me if I can’t even picture a Utopia that works?

Today I read this wonderful opinion column by Ross Douthat in the New York Times called Watership Down and the Crisis of Liberalism and I practically clapped my hands. If you’ve never read Watership Down, the classic tale by Richard Adams, you must. Go get a copy. I’ll wait. Okay, maybe not, because it is like 500 pages long, but Watership Down was a masterpiece, and Douthat hits the nail on the head with what makes a true Utopia and how Adams created one with this sentence:

And what makes the regime the rabbits are founding good — and successful, but first and foremost good — is the integration of the different virtues, the cooperation of their different embodiments, their willing subordination to one another as circumstances require.

Bam. Right there. Each rabbit that embarks on the quest to found a new home after they lost their old home to ecoterrorism (a subdivision) has a unique skill that they offer to the group. The leader, the strong, the religiously gifted, the athletic, the intelligent, the creative—all have something to offer the group.

So that’s what Utopia is to me. It’s a world in which we all have our unique gifts and they’re all valued. Imagine a world where you could find your gift and pursue it and contribute to the world in your own way. If a teacher’s offering of education, a doctor’s offering of healing, a policeman’s offering of safety, a politician’s offering of governing, a writer’s offering of…whatever we offer—it was all valued. Every skill, from acting to playing a sport or inventing, all the way to trash collecting and housecleaning.

Isn’t that what we all want? A world we can live in without fear of someone taking what is ours? Our job, our belongings, our happiness. In a world where everyone already had theirs, maybe that wouldn’t be such a problem. To me, that is Utopia.

(Side note: The only other place I’ve ever seen a Utopia that looks like it could work is Starfleet in the Star Trek universe.)

But what is Utopia to you? In our highly divided culture today, maybe this isn’t what everyone wants. Utopian dreams come to us all, though. I’d love to hear yours.

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Utopian perfection? Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: Pinned

Pinned

By Michelle Garren Flye

Pins hurt, I remember. Pins stick in your skin when you put on a new shirt without checking. Crimson stains on ivory.

Why pin each other, then? Why pin those we love? Stay here. That’s your spot.

It hurts.

Why pin those unlike us? Stick them with scarlet letters. You’re not us. Stay away.

It hurts.

We do it anyway. Jab into flesh until blood comes. Pins like Judgment, like nails on the cross. Us. Other. With us, against us. Pins line up, sharpened stakes to keep us in or push us out.

I hold one in my hand, a dagger to slash and judge. Watch. The blood waits, pulsing, just beneath the sin.