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FOG

I have always loved the fog, especially after bright hot August days in Maine when it rolled in from the Atlantic and the horn at Seguin began its plaintiff chant. Fog has often been a welcome  presence for me, soothing the bright edges of life that cut so sharply.

These days, I like to watch fog roll across Lake Michigan, or sit by the Betsie River as the mists dissolve.


 

Even here at home,  foggy mornings  soothe my spirit.

 

 

 

 

Toward the end of the first volume in my Infinite Games series, my characters are entirely dependent upon the fog to escape  enslavement  and exploitation in the early industrial city of Brent:

But where was the fog? The winter days remained relentlessly bright and sunny. Clare and Bess at the loom, the Fisher folk by their boats, the Marshlanders in their huts and the little spinners in the weaving house all prayed long and hard for the Gray Mother to come to their succor. But January wore on, and no help came.

Late one dark afternoon in early February, when the sun had already set, Rivelin was taking his turn at watch near the jetty. The two boats had been ready since midwinter: sails unfolded under the hatches, oarlocks wrapped in felt for silence. But the winter nights remained clear and moonlit, pricked with a thousand stars. Rivelin was watching for one of these stars because when it appeared he would be relieved for his dinner. It was Sirius, the Dog Star, and it emerged twinkling and blinking as it rose from the southern horizon but then, suddenly, disappeared. Rivelin became alert, sniffing in every direction. His sensitive nostrils picked up a damp, greenish smell. Out in the marshes of the bay, first one reed and then another acquired a wispy skirting. As the grey tendrils crept inland, one watcher after another passed along the signal that the time for escape had come.”  

The Marshlanders.

 

 

 

Midsummer, and the Living is Exciting

By this time most summers, I expect my living to be easy – keeping up with my correspondence, a blog here and there, short pieces of nature writing to accompany lots of time out of doors – but this summer, things are more exciting than usual.

With the help of my (very) patient publisher, Mary Woodbury of Moon Willow Press in Canada, I am doing the final proofreading of The Battle For the Black Fen, the last novel of my eco-fiction series.  Our publication date is August, so I have kept my eyes on my computer screen to find every lost comma, confusing bit of dialogue, and typo.

A couple of tips I have picked up while proofing: in dialogue, always state who is speaking.  Silly me, I figured that if I know who it was, my reader must get it too; similarly, if I start with “Clare thought” and have her musing away about other characters besides herself I had better bring her name in again, even in the same paragraph. And those pesky quotation marks that seem to have vanished into thin air, not to mention the commas and periods before the ends of the quotations…..needless to say, my eyes have been glued to the page.

I never like to dwell in my brain for days on end,   so I have been to my Betsie River cabin a couple of times, and every visit the temperature has plunged to 50 degrees or lower during the (summer?) nights. The wood turtle laid her eggs in mid June; now that other people appreciate my nature observations,  I did my duty as a “citizen scientist”  by reporting her to the Michigan turtle authorities.

By the end of June, tiny fry have hatched and flit about in the warmer shallows, and les becs scies, saw-toothed ducks (mergansers) that give the river its name, are busy and active.

And so are the beaver. Last winter they didn’t fell whole stands of slender trees but were hungry enough to chew completely around the trunk of a sturdy hardwood:


 

This circular gnawing serves two purposes:  the beaver get to eat the inner bark that they can reach and, at the same time, fell the tree so that they can eat the rest. I have never seen them drag a tree this heavy into a dam. It might be possible, but I think mine are bank beaver, only stripping such larger trees for nourishment.

So I let the babble and ripple of the river rest my mind for a while, strengthening my spirit for one last edit of my novel.

Every day of this daunting political year, my fictional battle between a self-sustaining nature-loving people and cruel enemies greedy for wealth and self-aggrandizement seems less a fictional plot than a grim reality. We are trapped in a finite game of victory and defeat; only if we give up on this hoary and outdated paradigm will any of us – enemies and friends alike –  survive. Are we strong enough, smart enough, open-minded enough, resilient enough to abandon the utter destruction of win/lose, you-or-me thinking for an infinite victory where everyone wins, nobody loses, so that we can enter at last the worlds we long for?

 

 

 

 

THE ROAD TO BEAVER MILL

On the front page of my web site I described Bethany leaping off a cliff into a gale. With the publication of the third volume in my Infinite Games Series, The Road to Beaver Mill, you can find out what happens next.
While eleven year old Bethany is excited and enthusiastic about soaring through the wind on a winged pony, her mother is purely terrified. Nonetheless, Clare must ride into the storm while the rest of the Marshlanders leave their refuge on Cedar Haven to climb the perilous Cliffs of Doom. It is time to call their allies to battle lest their enemies succeed in entirely draining their marshlands.
The problem is that everyone knows about these plans but Bethany, who is too stubborn and self-willed to trust with such important secrets. She visits her friend Ben’s Western Fisher folk, who want nothing to do with her; her own Eastern Fisher folk cousins welcome her warmly but she runs away from them too, stowing away on a ship heading for the dangerous merchant city of Brent.
My new novel is a Kindle Select Book, available here from Amazon.com .

 

 

 

 

MAPPING OUR WAY THROUGH THE DARKNESS

Last week we left Frodo walking fearfully toward the dread Land of Mordor. This week we find ourselves on a  perilous journey, every bit as daunting. We who have longed for a green and pleasant country of  fellowship and amity suddenly face the possibility that everything we have spent our whole lives working for could be overshadowed and destroyed.

These days I spend half of my week writing eco-fiction and half on environmental activism. The Infinite Games Series alternates utopia and dystopia,  the world of my self-sustaining Marshlanders against male domination fueled by economic greed. In plotting evil I look the worst possibilities of human behavior straight in the eye, but in seeking The Worlds We Long For I  tell stories about how good folk fight back.

There are four volumes in the series, two of which I have self-published.  In October, I received the immensely happy news from Mary Woodbury at Moon River Press that she will publish the last volume about The Battle for the Black Fen this year. In in the meantime, I am bringing out the third volume, The Road to Beaver Mill,  as a Kindle Ebook.

I keep a map of on the wall of my study to trace the perilous quests my characters undertake.  This autumn, I realized how amateurish it looks, so I got in touch with a marvelous cartographer, D.N. Frost, to produce a more professional-looking map for my  series. Here it is!.

World of the Marshlanders: eco-fiction of Annis Pratt http://www.dnfrost.com/2016/11/world-of-marshlanders-map-commission.html A map commission by D.N.Frost @DNFrost13 Part 1 of a series.

Are my novels escapes from the dystopian conditions of our present world?  Not at all: I intend them as stories that model how we can carry our little rings of power –  the will for the good which is our most precious possession – through the dangerous times in which we are called to live.

In the second half of my week I do environmental activism. What use is that now, with climate deniers come to power, threatening the fate of our beloved planet?
I work with two groups:  the Green Sanctuary Ministry of my local Unitarian church and the  Citizens’ Climate Lobby. an organization promoting carbon fees directly returnable to American households.
Grounds for hope:
       The rest of the world plans to carry out the Paris Agreements, even if the U.S. opts out.
         We can work for real change at the local and state levels where progress can be maintained; cities produce 70% of emissions and many have already put stringent climate legislation into effect.

The Eye of the Dark Lord is turning in our direction.

eye-of-doomFrodo’s ring could destroy the world, so he had to throw it over the cliffs of doom. The power of our rings is our small individual wills and our ability to combine with each other to create the world we long for.

HAPPY MAY DAY!

                                         May the blessed time of Beltane

                                         Inflame the soul of all beings

                                         From the depths to the heights

                                        From the heights to be depths,

                                        In the core of every soul.

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Plotting Evil

Once I suspended my descriptions of ideal communities every couple of chapters to insert thoroughly bad goings on, I found the alternation from good to evil and evil to good created a satisfactory narrative rhythm. Rising suspense and an awful event followed by better times before the cycle repeated itself not only made for a better read but was also philosophically satisfying. That’s the way life goes, after all – the way it challenges our mettle.

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Welcome to The Worlds We Long For

Welcome to my new blog! I will be posting every week about the themes, folklore details, games and dances, environmental philosophy, and early modern history that I adapt in my Eco-fiction novels series, Infinite Games.

Have you, like me, longed for a utopian community where we live together in amity, following laws we work out for ourselves and valuing each other for our contribution to common good? I have yearned for a world like that all my life – have you too?

Read more… →