Monthly Archives: December 2013

In Christmas Past


c2011, KB

The Christmas poem tradition continues, with the sixth annual posting of a compact memoir about my childhood Christmases, and a wish for a constant remembrance of what makes tough times good.

In Christmas past, I used to wait
wide-eyed in the dark,
willing daylight to arrive–
or the first chimes of midnight–
but always, always, I fell asleep,
and did not hear the whispered consult
or see the huddled adults
conjure piles of wrapped treasure
beneath a tinseled tree.

Then came the years the gifts were few–
maybe only one–
but popcorn, cocoa, carols,
reading in the Book of Luke,
warmed the coldest winter holiday,
reminding us by frail candlelight
that even the brightest star
blooms suspended in chill space,
unseen without the dark.

c2007, Keanan Brand


Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Faith, Family, Journeys, Life, Photography, Poetry, Stories, Writing


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Waiting, or the Rhythm of Writing

It’s exhilarating when story ideas come like a flood. My mind fills with images or questions. I grab the nearest available paper and writing implement, and let the words flow like water undammed.

Notebook pages, flimsy napkins, sticky notes, old envelopes empty of their junk mail. Whatever the paper, it fills with words, arrows, circles, asides, squiggles, boxes. The result often looks like a disorganized organizational chart, or a scribbled mess of lecture notes. If those notes are very, very lucky, they are typed neatly and placed in a three-ring binder, or copied longhand into a more orderly progression in a notebook.

I used to toss everything into a box and tell myself that I’d know where to find it. Sure, all the notes were in the same box, but they were notes for different stories, and in no particular order. So, at some point a decade or more ago, I filed related notes in manila folders.

Better. Not a process I consistently maintained, though.

I admire writers who can keep neat journals and tidy files. They must have tidy minds, too.

I’m a messy thinker. Stories don’t come to me chronologically. I approach from the side gate, the window, the attic stair. The end result might look like a house (ahem, a story), but it may not come together in the conventional way.

A recent move from one state to another, a thousand miles away, prompted a further change. As I sorted through belongings to decide what to throw away, what to sell, what to donate, and what to keep, I found scattered remains of manuscripts and ideas. In the organizing and re-reading of old notes, I found a new love for abandoned stories.

Time had given me distance. I could see clearly what was weak and needed to be tossed, and what had potential and should be kept.

There was a time I hated editing as “not creative enough”. I hated waiting because, well, it’s waiting. I’ve come to value them both, however, as integral parts of the creative process.

There’s something to be said for pausing, reflecting, letting the ideas stew a while. Plot holes reveal themselves, dialogue weaknesses come to light, and character “thinnesses” reveal themselves.

Also, after the first flush of excitement over new material, waiting allows a step back, a calm evaluation:
Does this story have a future, or is its premise / world / plot / science unsustainable?
Do I like these characters?
Am I having fun writing this, or will hard work become drudgery rather than challenge?
Is this story what I think it is, or–like a relationship built too quickly–will it reveal itself to be something else entirely?

This morning, as I was thinking about something mundane but urgent–personal finances–a plot hole in the current manuscript came to mind: I’d set up the main characters as the suspects in a crime, yet failed to enhance the suspense and the action in a scene where a policeman casually crosses their path while attending to a different matter. In this age of instant communication and video-sharing, what happens in one state is known in another in a matter of minutes, even seconds. That officer with a friendly warning about the impending curfew for minors after dark might do a double-take, and realize he’s found a couple of folks wanted for questioning by the FBI.

That scene was originally written almost a month ago. The plot hole is obvious. Now. I didn’t see it when I wrote it.

Just as in music there are rests and adagios, accelerandos and allegros, there’s a rhythm to the writing process.


It’s the necessary quiet before the next flood.


c2013, KB


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Launch Day!

It’s the official launch day for Raygun Chronicles, the space opera anthology inspired by Ray Gun Revival.

[Visit Goodreads for a chance to win a free copy.]


I am privileged to have a story included among others by far more famous and skilled authors. My story is “Shooting the Devil’s Eye”, a standalone prequel to Thieves’ Honor, the serial I wrote for the magazine.

Should you be in need of short science fiction to read, you can catch up with Thieves’ Honor here on the blog: Season 1 or Season 2.

Thanks to a group of fellow serialists and other writers, I hope to finish the series during the coming year.

Meantime, here’s a sample from “Shooting the Devil’s Eye”:

Finney landed the ship with nary a bump, shouldering between two larger vessels, as cozy as a bird in its nest. Air sighed out from the slip, creating a vacuum that held the ship steady while docked. It could only be released by the harbor master—a measure supposed to prevent pirating, but this was Vortuna, and piracy was its stock in trade.

That was no fuel off Finney’s engine. Wasn’t her ship.

The all-clear sounded. She unstrapped, stood, grabbed her duffel from the locker, and exited the wheelhouse, thudding down the companionway in boots two sizes too big. Hers had been stolen at the last port.

The captain, arms folded, blocked the passage. “Was it something I said?”

“Twenty percent share.” Finney held out a hand. “And a new pair of boots.”

“Thirty percent, and you stay aboard for the next run.”

“It’s been a week, ship’s time. Can’t have you gettin’ too fond of me.”

“Too late, darlin’.”

Finney adjusted her grip on the duffel straps, her other hand still extended. “This can just as easily become a fist.”

The captain rubbed his bruised jaw, and grinned. “See the purser on your way out.”

A new bag of colonial coin weighting her bag, and the purser’s leather boots on her feet, Finney strode down the gangway and onto the noisy wharf.

Remember to stop by Goodreads to enter the drawing for a free copy of Raygun Chronicles!

And then I promise to shut up about the book for a while — at least here on the blog. I make no promises otherwise. (wink and a smile)


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