Canvas Blues – IV: Yesteryears

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CANVAS BLUES
Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

IV: Yesteryears

The day Brendon was born, a thunderstorm rolling in during a late June afternoon, the oil from a diesel had spread across the parking lot, a snake wound tight at one end and slippery, whipcord at the other. A dark rainbow patterned the asphalt and stuck to the bottom of his mother’s sneakers. She tripped on the way in, in between contractions, and though she didn’t fall, her stomach heaved and the diaper bag filled with newborn outfits spilled off his father’s shoulder and into the slick as he jerked to catch her.

Inside, in the corner of a labor and delivery room, that same diaper bag sat in an out-of-the-way corner, rainbow oil seeping up through cotton threads to bless a never-before-worn onesie with color goodness and a painter’s spirit. It had dried by the time his father changed Brendon into it over in the maternity ward, the dark smear almost unnoticeable against the navy fabric, and besides, the rest of the clothes had long since been smeared with worse things of a biological nature.

His mother later claimed it was a fairy, or faerie were Brendon in trouble, that had flown by and kissed Brendon’s fat baby thighs and spindly fingers to grant him such an artistic nature. He had a stork’s kiss, a puckered splatter of darker skin, that ran just under his hipbone and curled in the shape of a sickle, or a moon, or a fingernail, or the curving keel of a ship’s bow cutting up from the water, or the gentle sloping of a river, or the trajectory of a hummingbird’s wing, or…

Brendon’s mother could and did make up a hundred different ideas of what that patch of skin might represent and he took them into his heart, one after the other, where they blossomed from his fingertips on bath tile walls and later from the end of cheap, splitting bristles bought from a dollar store.

She’d say it was a fairy who kissed him and brought his talent, but he knew better.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next Chapter Coming Feb 26!

Coffee & Conversation: Do you know how to ride a bike?

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While writing Canvas Blues, I had scenes with Brendon as a child riding his bike and while it wasn’t in any way a catalyst for the story, those pieces came from all the neighborhood bike riding I did as a child. That was back when knee pads and helmets were lol-what? to most people. I don’t even think I owned any protection, yet we were given free rein on our streets.

There’s actually a lot of leaning on my own life, where I grew up, that plays into Canvas Blues. And though the story is just starting on your end and bike riding isn’t exactly a plot point, it had a lot to do with linking certain places in the Past/Yesteryears timeline for Brendon.

So, yes, I know how to ride a bike. I don’t own one right now :( But it’s on the list of things I’d like to get one day. That elusive one day that may or may not become today at some point. Maybe I’ll ask Santa for one for Christmas. Or something. XD

~Emmi

Canvas Blues – III: Yesteryears

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CANVAS BLUES
Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

III: Yesteryears

Brendon Kotes grew up in a small house in rural Maryland, just a few miles from the bay, but on the wrong side, where the money landed in patches rather than wide swatches of world. He hadn’t landed in money, per se, but he had landed with something infinitely better: two loving parents and a couple of straight-laced older siblings who gave him just enough rope to explore, but not enough to hang.

Not like Casey Mattingly, whose older sister introduced him to drag racing and the smoky after parties that tasted more of rubber and pisswater beer rather than the freedom he claimed. Casey fell, again and again, like a rock desperate to sink into the bay. And when that first crevice did not go deep enough, he’d find a new one, a better one, a darker one, until he settled in the deepest trench and no amount of hands could drag him out.

Where there’s one side, there’s always another.

Robbie Frey lived in one of those patches of wealth, with a boat slip and a jaguar under his own name before he turned eighteen. Possibly a bit overboard in terms of spending at times, with a dabbing of debt to hang on his kitchen corkboard, but all in all, a good fellow with a decent job who only stayed up too late on the weekends sometimes, who had only skipped his homework occasionally, and tried his best not to be late to work, but traffic happens.

A good sort. A balance to Casey’s insistent calls of freedom and open road. For who needs traffic at seven thirty in the morning on a bright spring day when one could have long stretches of tarmac to squeal down during moonlit hours of humid glory?

Robbie did, that’s who. But not Casey.

And not Brendon either, but it was years before he realized he didn’t need that long stretch of tarmac either. Didn’t need the car, the drive, the steady job or the transient races.

Just a good sable brush and the inkling of an idea.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next Chapter!

Coffee & Conversation: What is the fastest way to get you bored?

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This question is interesting in that under normal circumstances where things remain in my own control I won’t ever get bored. I can find things to occupy my time and have zero problem having times where I just sit and do nothing as a way to relax.

On the other hand, certain books, types of conversations, and obligatory events are a different subset of situations altogether.

In a book, the fastest way for me to be bored is for there to be no tension. When the story doesn’t exist but as a conduit to describe, describe, describe with no direction. When there’s dialogue that goes round and round but never gets anywhere or only repeats tired ideas that are decidedly lacking in wit, yet the characters are thinking themselves witty. Another way for me to have the potential to become bored is when there’s too many jumps, usually in characters, where I’m forced to essentially “restart” the process of becoming interested because all that came before has suddenly disappeared.

In conversations, the way to get me bored isn’t to monopolize the topic, though that can get old after awhile, I usually like seeing the passion other people exhibit when they’re talking about something they love. It’s when my words are dismissed unilaterally, my opinions considered irrelevant and any attempts I make at being part of the conversation thrown out. Interrupting me constantly will also make me check out of the conversation. If you indicate that you have so little regard for me and just want to monologue, then why not talk to a wall?

As for obligatory events…this is when it would be rude for me to pull out a book to fill the time, leading to me to sitting up straight and doing my best to pay attention, to be polite, because if I’m there it’s because I must care and I’ll do my best to show it. That doesn’t mean I’m not bored sitting in the middle of the wedding attendees where no one can hear the bride and groom exchange their vows and so we just sit there and pretend we’re not bored. It happens.

Luckily, I’m not one to get bored normally. I have a TBR list a mile long and most of the books are sitting over my head right now. If I’ve got nothing to write, nothing to edit or nothing to do otherwise, I’ll always have something to read.

~Emmi

Canvas Blues – II: Present

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CANVAS BLUES
Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

II: Present

When he thought about it, Brendon wasn’t sure whether things had started with Robbie. Or before that, with Casey. Maybe everything had started some inconsequential day, not worthy of remembrance, lost in a simpler time.

When he thought about it again, Brendon realized that no matter what might have happened with Casey, with Robbie, with his parents, his aunt or his favorite art teacher in middle school, that the day things had truly begun was the day he’d met Orion Livesey.

He’d been working at his larger easel, on a painting that would be a bayscape, part of the bottom cut away to reveal the clams and crabs clambering about the shallows. He had a stack of photos nearby, some hung up on wire, so he might reference the shape and size of crab pincers and the curves and crevices of living clams.

The far windows were open to let in a breeze that wouldn’t disturb his work and he’d propped the heavy door to the studio to allow the air to flow. Music, Bach and Handel and Mozart, played quietly on repeat on an ancient, paint-stained player on the floor by the outlet. He remembered the day well, down to the minutia. He could have painted the moment, though he never did.

So engrossed in his work, breath held to keep his arm steady, Brendon didn’t realize anyone was with him until that someone cleared his throat.

Brendon released the breath he’d been holding in a startled exhale that smoothed across the fresh strokes. Then he turned.

The first thing Brendon noted was the package under the man’s arm, layers of bubble wrap and cloth. Only then did his gaze skip up to the man himself.

The stranger was tall, without being lanky, and held himself carefully, every motion calculated, like math. He wore a grim expression, the kind Brendon would have painted on a background figure looking on during a morose scene, just enough emotion to give a hint, but not enough to draw the eye or become the focal. He suspected that this man represented that ideal: always there, but never at the forefront.

“You’re Brendon Kotes.” He did not seem to be asking.

Brendon shrugged and tipped the brush back from the canvas so he wouldn’t inadvertently smear the paint. He found himself holding his breath again as the man laid his package on the long wooden table.

“I’ve come to return a painting.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next Chapter!

Coffee & Conversation: Where do you get your ideas?

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Idea questions are one of the most common questions writers receive and let’s face it, the real answer is never enough for anyone not in the industry.

Because the answer is Everywhere!

To many people that sounds like a cop-out, a way to shrug the question off and move on because you’re too tired to actually answer. The reality is, it is the shortened form of the answer, the TLDR, the I’ve-answered-this-question-a-million-times-already response.

The longer answer is still Everywhere, but it’s more than that too. It’s about the wanderings of your mind and the questions that arise from those wanderings. It’s about the what-ifs and then-thats and can-I’s that follow.

You go for a hike, following a river, letting your mind wander:

What if the river ran up this hill rather than down it?
Then that would mean the water would pull from the ocean and pool in the mountains.
Can I create a setting, a plot or a character who sails the frigid seas pooling at the tips of those mountains?

You misspell something, miss-say something, miss-hear something: What if it’s not a mistake?

You take things that are figurative and you make them literal: What if getting mud on your skin really was the end of the world?

You take your fears and exaggerate them. Twist your own beliefs to see what kind of character might stem. You look at everything and everyone around you and ask yourself: What are they thinking? Why is that there? What if I change this small detail, what would happen?

But what about when this doesn’t come naturally to you? After all, creativity is a muscle like anything else and if you haven’t been practicing it might feel stiff.

One way to push past that stiffness that leads to general, overused ideas and force yourself to think outside the box, is to do the List 10 prompt challenge. Number down on a piece of paper to 10 and then choose a word/prompt (or have one chosen for you). Then for every number, you write whatever comes to mind based on that prompt. You’ll notice as you work your way down that the ideas become harder to come up with. The easy ones, the ones that mimic things you’ve seen or read, are already taken and you’re forced to push harder and further in order to link something–anything–back to that prompt.

The rule of thumb is, you write your 10 different ideas and then scrap every single one of them. Then you come up with number 11. That way you’ve walked past all the easy ones, the ones everyone else has already thought of, the ones that sprang to mind quickly because you’d read that book or seen that movie. And the one you finally decide on will be one that took you longer to reach, made you work for it.

Another way to push past the stiffness is to experience more. Go out beyond your normal haunts. Read books you normally wouldn’t read. Cook food you normally wouldn’t eat. Talk to people you normally wouldn’t get a chance to speak to. And listen.

Always, always listen.

And that is how I come up with ideas.

~Emmi

Canvas Blues – I: Prologue

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CANVAS BLUES
Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

I: Prologue

There once was a man who could paint.

He drew globs of acrylic and oil about canvas, across wood, within concrete cracks and fabric that sucked the paint and nudged it along specific threads of cotton and wool. He used colors of lapis, of emerald and periwinkle. Ivory rather than white; ebony rather than black. He’d call his blends by emotion, this one here the quick, sticky sadness of a dropped ice cream on a warm summer day, while this other the laughter one feels when it grows and grows, pushing at your throat, tapping at the back of your teeth, yet fizzles before it can erupt.

He held his breath as he drew fine lines and thick, or curved strokes and straight. He held his breath often enough it became second nature as a way to steady not only his hand, but his heart, his head. And only when done could he exhale, releasing any indecision, careful attention or concern.

It was as if, in that moment of exhale, when he blew hot breath across fresh paint and new choices, a piece of him enveloped his art. A cloud, of condensed care and longing, ghosting across new faces, open settings, to settle on the chemicals as liquids turned to solids.

There once was a man who could paint. And in his paintings, there grew life from his breath.

And there grew death.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next Chapter

Coffee & Conversation: What’s Up for 2020?

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That’s a good question and one I’ve been debating for the past few weeks. But I think it’s high time I give you an update. Probably far past high time.

Firstly, Lost Isle is done. I finished the book in September ’19 with a whimper of relief rather than an explosion of excitement. It’s in formatting stage with some promo pieces completed and others needing a ton of work. I love this book though and have spent far too long on it to push it out quickly. So I’m going to do things right this time around

Lost Isle: The Ocean’s Aviary I is getting an official release date of March 9th 2021.

But that has nothing to do with 2020, does it? Not really.

Novel

For 2020 I’ve prepared something else for my blog. Like a few stories I’ve done before, I’m going to begin serializing a novel. The chapters are short, and the book itself follows a character through both his past and the present. I have a place-holder cover that I will use for now to represent the book. Thus, I’m introducing:

CANVAS BLUES:
Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

When the lawyer Orion Livesey invites himself into Brendon Kotes’ studio to return a painting, the man comes with insinuations and questions that skim into the realm of impossibility. For he claims Brendon’s painting has killed a man.

But a painting is just a painting and Brendon’s are no different despite Orion’s insistence otherwise. And though Brendon resists the idea his art could be dangerous, there are moments in his past that begin to surface, pieces of a puzzle he didn’t even realize existed coalescing despite all his attempts to keep them buried.

Questions he doesn’t want to know the answer to begin to knock about his mind, for what destruction in his past could he have been responsible for without ever even knowing.

As I’ve said, the book is told with two timelines, one within the present day, the other all those puzzle pieces of his past. I will be posting each new chapter every Wednesday (I know! It’s not Sunday. Crazy, right?), starting the 29th with the prologue.

Coffee and Conversation

As well as serializing Canvas Blues on Wednesdays, I will also be doing something quick and fun on Mondays. The idea here is to answer different questions every week in a fun paragraph/essay format. Some might be a little deeper, some will be silly or fluff.

Anyone’s welcome to pose a question if they like, but I presume most will come from me as they will operate as a tiny window into who I am or what I’m doing or what I’m working on.

I have a few more possibilities toward the end of the year, but as of right now, these are the things I feel confident in announcing given the amount of projects I’m working on, which I will be slowly becoming more transparent about :)

~Emmi

 

52 Pickup

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Stakes drew high, cards shimmering with a hint of astral magic, a threat of eternal servitude hovering within the betting pool.

Tempted I was, to fold, to walk away from that terrible risk, but the cards winked, one queen gesturing frantically, so I stayed, and when we revealed, I got the satisfaction of wiping that smug smile off his face – not just there at the table, but later too, when I showed him other, more sensual, moves.

~Emmi


Image by Whiley Dunsmore


Originally, I thought it fitting to end my first year of doing these two line stories on this one since it would have been my 52nd. It’s not, quite, since I skipped a few. I have them still, but some of them I couldn’t find artists or good links and I really don’t want to be posting a lot of pictures I obviously don’t own copyright to or have license to use.

Thank you to everyone who enjoyed my tiny stories. Here’s to next year and more stories about fantastical things and wonderful men! Happy new year to you and yours and I hope all your dreams come true <3

The Bond of Steel

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A sword chose him, claimed him as its own, taking his hopes and dreams and sharpening them to searing, razor points.

I’d thought I’d lost him forever, gone to the metal, to the blade, until he arrived with another in hand, steel singing a song I’d never before heard, stripping the film off my eyes and giving me the gift of sharing his world once more.

~Emmi


Image by Myunghyun Choi


It’s always nice to have fantasy men. To wonder at their stories :) Merry Christmas to everyone!