Star Child *

I have a friend (crazy, I know). Her name is Alex. Hi, Alex! *waves*. She has read my book, and she likes my book. This makes me happy, of course. Alex is a writer herself (a fantasy one, at that), and it is so lovely to have a friend who can share such things with you, who understands, and who actually knows what you’re talking about when you say ‘Sta’reghiime’, for example.

Do you know what that is? I highly doubt it.

It’s something in my book.

Which you would not know unless you have read it.

Funny how these things work…

A good while back, I was moaning to Alex about the languages I have created for my fantasy world. I wondered what possessed me to do three. Woeful. One language is simple enough, I suppose: that is Kurpian, the language of the Ilimoskus (my main language). The other two are… Well, one is the hardest thing in the world to pronounce/the biggest mouthful language going, and the other has the worst grammar. But who do I have to blame but myself? Why, Jenny? Whhyyyyyyyy? *falls upon knees and howls in despair*

But anyway. I was talking about my languages. Specifically Kurpian. Alex said that it would be cool to learn Kurpian (or something like that), to which I replied, “I’ll give you a lesson someday 😉

(An aside: The Kurpian language is traditionally a syllabic alphabet with limited logograms, which, in English, basically means there are symbols that represent syllables. There are always two symbols that make me smile, though, because “xu” looks like a smiley face with a massive nose, and “ly” looks like a man doing some funky dance. Behold: )

ohk

((An aside aside: Apparently one of the most ‘hated’ fantasy clichés is ‘Authors who go overboard in creating a ‘language’.‘ Oh, and also Anthropomorphism‘Non-human’ or sentient animal races that act, think, and socialise just like humans.’ Pffttt. Well, if that’s the case, AVOID my story at all costs. WARNING–WARNING–I tell you! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES LEST MY TERRIBLE, AMATEUR FANTASY STORY DEVOURS YOUR MIND INTO A STATE OF UTTER PARALYSIS FROM ITS SHEER ATROCITY TO THE FANTASY NAME. I love fantasy. Fantasy is my life. But I hate the fantasy ‘circle’ more than anything. It is the most critical, judgemental and contemptuous of all fandoms. Obviously, I’m not speaking for everyone here, but that’s the general vibe you get. Oh, and by the way, I actually have a very detailed explanation as to why my Ilimoskus are so humanoid, yet if I put such an explanation into my story I would be criticised for rabbiting on about information no one cares about, or for focusing too much on needless history as opposed to storyline. You can’t win, right? Which is why you should live your life true to yourself and write only from the heart. That’s my lesson for the day.))

So. There is a character in my book called Gnotsu Teeze (“NOTE-soo”, by the way – everyone pronounces it wrong). Gnotsu is the wise, wizened, wise man of the story. Obligatory in fantasy, no? A trope, not a cliché 😉 Though, if you ask me, he is more than just a wise elder: he is immensely powerful and mysterious – so much so that his kin do not even realise the extent of this. Gnotsu has dedicated the majority of his life guiding others in their greatest time of need – a carer and protector to all the sad hearts who come his way.

gnot-tt

This is a sketch I did of Gnotsu

Due to this, I often say, “Everyone needs a Gnotsu in their life.” We do. We really do. We all need a mentor to teach us the wonders of life, of nature, of the soul. Oft times I find myself pining for a Gnotsu conversation, to be before his exuding aura of perpetual wisdom *wistfully sighs*. But, it is precisely this teaching nature of Gnotsu’s that led me to write this post. Combining both things together (Alex and Kurpian), who better to consult than dear old Gnotsu?

And so, my friends, I share with you a fictional scenario between Alex and Gnotsu as she has a Kurpian lesson. Perhaps some context is required. Let’s just pretend that Alex woke up, drowsy and bewildered, thousands of miles away from home in an English wood which just so happened to be Kaxenff (that is, the home of Gnotsu). Gnotsu, being the compassionate soul he is, took Alex under his wing and taught her the ways of the Ilimoskus (and we shall ignore technicalities within the story itself, such as humans not being able to see Ilimoskus, but sshhhhhhhhh. Alex is special. She can see the Ilimoskus, ’cause I say so 😉 ).

(To people who do not know the story: There are going to be many strange words in this piece. I shall briefly explain them at the end. Strange words shall be underlined.)

Dear Alex, I know you could do with a Gnotsu conversation. I hope you enjoy this.

Love and light to you, x

***

Alex rushed through the holid, swerving past the kus coming her way as they gave her an array of curious looks. She was late.

She had not slept well, awaking before the dawn, and so she had decided to leave Gnotsu’s hohot and go for a quiet stroll through the woods. It was strange to be out in the Ilimoskus’ holid when it was so silent, so deserted, but she could not deny the sense of relief that filled her, for the lack of the foreign beings – kindly as they were – watching her every move meant she could dally and inspect to her heart’s content. She had absent-mindedly watched the sunlight burn the woodland in golden fire, beckoning the Flamikus to awaken, and, while sitting on a log near Idimis, observed kus undertaking their morning duties. She had not been here long, but she had already discerned just how diligent the Ilimoskus were. She had also discerned that they were seriously nosy, yet politely so, if that was at all possible; they forever peered inquisitively over her private doings, and she caught wind of gossip about her, such as, ‘She speaks very weirdly. Do you think she has something wrong with her?’ As gossip went, it was harmless enough, and she could hardly blame them – after all, she was as good as an alien to them, and she did speak very differently to them: her accent was Canadian, and theirs was a rather curious blend of English and… Kurpian? She supposed, were she with another human, she would be gossiping about them, too. It was only when some kus passed close by her, chattering away – and, of course, giving her a lengthy perusal – that she thought about their accent again. But then it suddenly hit her. She had agreed to have a Kurpian lesson with Gnotsu at first light. Dammit! She leapt up and darted away, giving all nearby eyes even more reason to look at her.

Once she had rushed back to his hohot, she saw that Gnotsu was waiting outside, his hands clasped together. Why did that make her feel so terrible? She continued to approach, now at a brisk walk, and Gnotsu spied her from a distance; he watched her every move with a placid expression, and when she was near he bestowed a warm smile.

“I-I’m sorry, Gnotsu!” Alex puffed, stopping before him. “I forgot!”

“Indeed you did. But then you remembered. Do not fret, Nieeb, for the recollection of our minds often fails us when our hearts are preoccupied with deeper things.”

“But… What deeper things?”

“You are new here,” he kindly replied. “This is a strange place to you, and you are in the process of adapting. Do not be hard on yourself.” He turned, holding back the door for her. “Come now, let us begin.”

She pulled a small but grateful smile and stepped inside. She saw that there were two wooden chairs – or, rather, stools – positioned to one side by the unlit fire, and so she headed over and sat on one, feeling much like she was back at school and about to take an exam. Ugh. Thank the gods the Ilimoskus did not have exams as she knew it.

Gnotsu wasted no time in getting down to business, as often was his way, and as he shut the door he spoke in his gentle, yet husky, voice, “If I were to say to you, ‘Ihmoiyon’, what would I be saying?”

“Oh, umm…” Alex sat contemplating, though she felt slightly bewildered after her rush and tried to rally her thoughts into some order. Ihmoiyon. She knew that. Come on, brain. WORK. “Err…”

Gnotsu smiled at her patent forgetfulness. “Shall I help you, Alix?”

She looked to the floor, thinking it would be better if Gnotsu did not see her trying to restrain her own smile. Alix. It did amuse her, how the Ilimoskus pronounced her name. “Uhh… Yeah, that would be really helpful, Gnotsu, thank you.” She looked back at him, having banished her smile for good.

“We greet one another this way in the morning,” he simply said.

“Oh!” she cried. Duh. It was so obvious now. “‘Good morning!'”

He dipped his head ever so slightly as his indication that she was correct, then moved closer to her, but still made the point to stand. “Now, I am going to speak to you in Kurpian, and you are going to tell me what I said in Akklun.”

“You mean English,” she automatically corrected, but then felt a wave of horror wash over her. Did she just imply Gnotsu was wrong about something? Could she be any more moronic? She had only been here a short while, yes, but she knew well enough that Gnotsu was considered the wisest elder in the holid, and no one dared to question him. Though, thankfully, Gnotsu was the most serene and forgiving kus she had met, and his eyes delicately smiled as he clasped his hands together.

“Lopa,” said he.

“…Hello,” she replied somewhat warily, for ‘lopa’ was the only Kurpian word she definitely knew, and all else he said would undoubtedly send her mind reeling.

“Yestana’asko-a Gnotsu od Teeze hon,” Gnotsu continued.

In Alex’s mind, the beginning of that utterance sounded like a complete load of babble, yet it was a particular strain of babble she recognised. She remembered Gnotsu teaching it to her before, and how she had fumbled over the syllables as if it were a tongue-twister. It did not help that Kurpian was spoken quite quickly.

“Every letter ‘a’ in the Kurpian language is short, without exception,” Gnotsu had said. “Like the ‘a’ in the Akklun word ‘apple’.

Alex tried to speak it once more. “Yes-tan-ahhhhs-ko…?” 

Gnotsu grinned, and then broke the sounds down slowly for her. “Yeh-stah-nah-AHSS-ko-ah.”

Alex sighed. “It’s a bit of a mouthful just to say, ‘My name is’, isn’t it?”

“My name is Gnotsu Teeze,” Alex repeated in English, having relived the memory of trying to speak that darn word, or phrase, or whatever it was.

“Yeestona’as-a pleh?”

“What is your name?”

“Very good,” said Gnotsu with a warm smile. “Now, Alix, I would like you to repeat that Kurpian question.”

Her heart plunged into her stomach. Oh, gods. “Err…” she paused briefly, trying to allow Gnotsu’s pronunciation to echo in her mind. “Yee-stoh-nah-AHSS-ah leh.”

“Valeciivie, Alix!” Gnotsu brightly praised. “Much better! Now, I shall speak in Akklun, and you shall repeat in Kurpian.”

Oh, GODS. Why? Resigning herself to what was sure to be the inevitable butchering of the wonderful, exotic Kurpian language, spoken from her stupid tongue, she softly sighed and nodded, noticing that she was pressing her lips together unusually firmly. Perhaps this was as bad as an exam, in its own, unique way.

“How are you?” Gnotsu asked.

Damn. Damn, damn, DAMN. In world-record fashion, she had already failed. She could never remember how to say ‘How are you?’ in Kurpian. Never. It was yet another mouthful phrase, and she remembered Gnotsu saying that there are actually two ways of asking this question: a formal way, and an informal way. Not that such a recollection mattered, because she could not remember either of them. She slapped her hands to her cheeks and pulled down at them. Why was Kurpian so difficult?

Gnotsu, observing Alex’s blatant struggle, calmly offered some assistance. “Do you remember that we focused on how to say it formally? Since you are not an Ilimoskus, and to appease the unsure minds of my kin, they would appreciate hearing the formal phrase from you. It goes, ‘Aa…’.” He paused, and a hopeful light glinted in the depths of his eyes that this would be enough of a recollection for her.

Alex sat, blankly staring. She feared that his hopeful light was soon to fade, since, even with his help, she could not remember. Though, from his helpful pointer, she remembered that the formal phrase did indeed contain the Kurpian diphthong ‘aa’. Oh, how she hated that diphthong. She could not pronounce it at all – at least not properly. It was the sound of a broad ‘a’, like ‘father’, but combined with this accursed rolled ‘r’ sound. It was like, ‘aaaaaaaRRR’, and she could not roll her tongue, no matter how hard she tried. She always sounded like a growling dog, or, if she did manage to roll her tongue properly, it went totally overboard and she sounded like a speed boat engine.

Gnotsu peered at her closely. “I sincerely hope you are not becoming stressed, Alix,” he judiciously spoke.

She shifted slightly in her seat. How did Gnotsu always manage to make you feel guilty about any emotion or thought you had just by looking at you with his dark, gentle eyes? “I… can’t remember, Gnotsu,” she muttered.

“No,” he said as if he already knew. “It is, ‘Aa-vickarvee pleh?’ Repeat it.”

ARR,” she tried to pronounce with all her might, though she knew she sounded just like a swashbuckling pirate, “-vih-kar-vee leh.”

“You are still struggling with the pronunciation of ‘aa’, but do not fret about it, Child – it is one of the more difficult letters to pronounce, and Kurpian is not your native tongue,” said he. “Therefore, to differentiate between ‘aa’ and ‘ar’, I would suggest you continue to put a greater emphasis on the ‘aa’ sound while you are still learning to perfect it.”

Had Gnotsu just told her to sound like a pirate?

“So, Alix,” continued the old kus, “tell me how you are.”

“Oh, I’m okay,” she casually spoke.

He smiled. “In Kurpian, Alix.”

“Oh! Right. Err… Fo unsc?

He chuckled most delicately as he cast his eyes to the ground, but then he stood in silence, frozen in his stance. “Are you okay, Alix?” he asked with atypical sobriety.

She frowned at his sudden shift of temperament, as well as at the question itself. “Yes…” answered she.

He peered at her with his head angled down most discreetly.

His penetrative gaze cut straight through her and she glanced away uneasily. How did Gnotsu do it?

“What can be gained from lying to your heart?” he quietly questioned.

“I’m not…” she began to reply, but she knew that she had no sharp rejoinder with which to respond. Besides, even if she did, Gnotsu would undoubtedly know it was a lie.

With the softest of sighs, Gnotsu walked over to the empty stool and sat himself down beside her. “All hearts hold sadness from time to time, yet, for one reason or another, we believe it necessary to hold onto it continually by means of denial. This weighs down our hearts, my dear child, for the burden of denied sadness is a heavy one. There is no shame in admitting sadness in the heart, for in this weakness we discover our strength. Tell me, Alix: do you know what happens when we deny the sadness in our hearts?”

Alex was taken aback somewhat by his direct question, so intent was she on listening to his wisdom. “Um… No…”

“It tries to escape,” said he. “In its desperate plight for freedom, it seeks to flee only to discover that the heart resists and prevents it from doing so. Thus, an inner conflict rages, and our souls then intervene, calling out to the heart in an attempt to convince it to set this sadness free. But the noise of the conflict is too loud, and our quiet souls cannot be heard. And so it is our souls are weakened, and, as I am sure you will agree, nieebko, this is not good. We Ilimoskus have a word for such an eventuality: diitharedan – the conflict in the heart and of the soul.”

Alex looked at her lap, feeling overwhelmed; she felt the sadness stir within her heart, clawing at the walls in its bid to escape. She found the courage within herself to look Gnotsu in the eye, beholding his benevolent face radiating solace as brightly as the sun. “How… How do you set your sadness free, Gnotsu?” she weakly asked, blinking numerous times to ward off the watery sheen in her eyes.

He took a moment to reply as the faintest origins of a smile emerged. “Cry,” was he simple answer. He placed his hand on her knee, and Alex felt the fiery heat of his skin even through her trousers. “Tears are the silent expression of our sorrow and our grief, are they not? The sadness flows out from our hearts, and so the heart is empty, but only then, when the sadness is free, can understanding take its place.”

“…Understanding?”

“Indeed, Nieeb,” Gnotsu softly spoke, clasping his hands together once more. “For when our sadness is free, the heart hears the soul once more and this harmony opens many a door for understanding ourselves and the world – this, we Ilimoskus call etalaresan. There is much wisdom in sadness, dear one. Perhaps sadness comes merely to teach us, and, in turn, help us be at peace.”

Alex indistinctly nodded, feeling her sadness swell in her eyes. “It’s a comforting thought…” she quietly said, too busy reflecting on what Gnotsu had said to be attentive to the volume of her voice. “But… if sadness brings us peace, why is it so… un-peaceful?”

Gnotsu chuckled. “We can look at the night sky and lament at the darkness while we wait for the sunrise, or, we can admire the beauty and wonder of the stars.”

“So… it’s up to us?” said she. “It’s our decision whether the process is a peaceful one or not?”

Gnotsu dipped his head so minutely Alex questioned whether he had moved it at all. But Gnotsu did not answer. There was quiet for a while as Gnotsu allowed her the time she needed.

She sighed, releasing the tension within herself. She could be peaceful. She could let her sadness be free. For in this weakness we discover our strength. But then she found herself thinking of the stars. Were they strong to shine amongst the darkness? “Gnotsu…” she said. “What’s the Kurpian word for stars?”

Gnotsu smiled warmly at this. “Ilckiido.

“Ill-kee-doe…” she slowly repeated.

“Elu’amel, niee’ckiido-niia.”

Alex stared at him blankly. “What?”

“Be at peace, precious child of the stars.”

This stirred her sadness more than anything else thus far, to such an extent that she knew she could no longer hide it, deny it. And so, looking at her lap, her eyes welled from the pain in her heart, and a tear trickled down her cheek.

***

Thank you for reading, my friends, I appreciate the time you have taken to reach the end.

I can only hope that you may take something from this little story, from Gnotsu and from Alex.

We can reconnect with wisdom in the subtlest of ways, if only our minds our open to receive.

Peace be within you,

~ JKM


Brief explanation of strange, underlined words:

Holid -> The equivalent of a city, in its way

Kus (Ilimoskus) -> The Ilimoskus are a race of elemental beings, at one with nature. The word kus is an abbreviation, but it can also mean ‘folk’. 

Hohot -> The equivalent of a house, or building

Flamikus -> The folk of fire specifically

Idimis -> A place name, a location, the heart/centre of a holid (‘city’)

Nieeb – or nieebko -> Nieeb means ‘child’, but it is often used as an affectionate term of address to anyone younger. Nieebko means “my child”, and is again used as an affectionate term. The ‘b’ is not pronounced: “nee-koe”

If I’ve missed anything and you’re wondering, please feel free to ask me and I’ll add it to this list!

Umeraard-ite (Glowing Heart Day)

I am basically writing this post specifically tailored for Prince Stevick the Agwikus, and indeed writing it purely because of him. But writing this will induce many smiles for me, which can only be a good thing, for as of late I have been having quite a rotten time of it, and it is nice to forget your heart’s woes by distracting it with laughter, wouldn’t you agree…?

But before I get to the smiles, let me just briefly overview why things have been so rotten, and why my soul has been so unbelievably miserable recently. As most of you will know, I have been dealing with my mental health situation… It is a dingy, grim little alleyway to get yourself through, let me tell you. Anyway,  2015 has not got off to a good start. I tripped over through the transitional gate and fell flat on my face. But, no matter, I’m picking myself and dusting myself off. It’s fine. My mother became horribly ill and spent a week in hospital, so I had to look after my disabled brother for a time and that just became unbearable because he hits me and screams at me blah blah. And my therapist dropped a bombshell on me the other week which, upon arriving home after the session, made me cry for the rest of the day. There are sticky situations, and then there are deathly consuming viscid situations, and then there’s the situation I’m in… 😦

I swear, all I have been doing this year is crying. Sobbing. You know when you cry so deeply that, when inhaling, you can feel you soul tremble? Yeah. That.

But the misery does not end there. Ilimoskus, anyone? Anyone heard me mention that before? 😉 My laptop got some hideous virus not too long ago, rendering the stupid thing useless and ruining all my writing files. And then, as if all my technology planned to conspire against me, my main writing USB drive became corrupt… And my Book 2 manuscript file became corrupt and I could no longer access it… And my Times of Old manuscript – the one I have spent a lifetime re-editing – was wiped completely, as were my website files, and also another insanely important document for the Ilimoskus story. And because my backups (on my laptop) had too messed up… Well… I’m not even going to attempt to explain how I felt. But I cried. Again. A lot. Of course. However, my eldest brother is a technological miracle worker and saved the day, PRAISE BE. And now I have forked out on an IronKey USB (brother’s recommendation), because that is NOT happening again. Ever. Nope. Not having it.

Anyway… Moving on from depressing things…

SMILE TIME.

😀

***

I happen to share my birthday with a few famous faces, which therefore makes my birth date the best ever. No? Oh. Well, allow me to reveal their faces to you, all the same:

Charles Darwin – a man I hold deep respect for.

Abrahaaaaaaaaaam Lincoln

Gromit the Dog!

As you can see, I share my birthday with some marvellous fellows. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THEM ALL. Also, if you do not know who Gromit is, I feel you have been deprived in life for not knowing the classic that is Wallace and Gromit – product of the wonderful Aardman Animations.

Did anyone notice Gromit’s eye roll upon opening the singing card? That is rather accurate to my response to birthday jubilations and the like. As is this:

I am referring to Squidward, you understand, not Spongebob and Patrick. But oh, the old Spongebob episodes are glorious things. But I am not a birthday celebrator. At all. It’s just not who I am, not what I do.

Anyway.

It’s my birthday. I therefore received some gifts, which is always a very kind gesture from people. But I am here to share some with you (and when I say ‘you’, I really mean Stevick. But you, too 😉 )

I shall save the best ’til last. But let’s start with this:

owlmug

This is an owl mug. I laughed upon opening it. And I shall tell you why I laughed. Stevick and I have been having the most ridiculous (hilarious) conversation about Owl City and Umbrella and Ilimoskus (don’t even ask) recently, and then I am given an owl mug. Which reminded me of Owl City. And thus of our conversation.

And so I move on to my next little gift:

coastag

So, I happened to get two coasters for my birthday this year. This is one of them. A stag. Look at it, bellowing with ferns stuck on its antlers. Hilarious. So in love with stags/deer.

And this is the second coaster I received:

genuinelaw

From my dearest darling Meggie, of course. Who else? Yesterday a large parcel came in the post, from my darling, and when I opened it today I was treated to an array of little gifts in a box. All marvellous, obviously. And on this particular coaster Meggie had stuck a Post-It Note on it, and it read: ‘This is some genuine law advice from me.’ I should probably explain that she is in Law. Love her. I howled (laughed) at it all.

And on the mention of Meggie, this was the card she got me:

seduction

I swear, Meggie and I make it our mission in life to out-do each other with the cards we send. They are always hysterical affairs, inside and out. On the inside of this one she wrote, ‘This card is an image of us trying to seduce men. Accurate, no?’ The love I have for this girl cannot be described.

And finally, I reveal what you’ve all been waiting for. Or at least Stevick, anyway, since the rest of you have no knowledge of this. Drum roll, please.

A SIGNED PHOTO OF NICK HEWER.

NICK

Oh, sorry, I mean Higi Hewer. That man has such illegible handwriting.

I honestly spent forever laughing this morning when opening the envelope that enclosed this little delight. I have laughed so much today. It has been lovely. Though, I won’t lie, there were tears earlier on, but short-lived! How can I possibly be sorrowful when such hilarity surrounds me?

How I must thank Stevick for arranging this, and how we must both thank Countdown for letting it become a reality.

Here is a close up of the man.

closeupNICK

What a smirk.

But that was not the end of my giggles. He had also written on the back!

nicknote

You can’t really see it, but it is written in green ink. Nick knows me so well, clearly, for green is by far my favourite colour. But, as I said: illegible handwriting. If anyone can work out what on earth it’s supposed to say – Happy ___??? – please do let me know. The man can’t even write his name. How does that look remotely like ‘Nick‘? Why are there two dots, as though there are two i‘s? Unless he has written Nicki – which is again hilarious – but then where is the k? Deary me. Still. This is fabulous in every way.

THANK YOU, STEVICK.

x

***

Anyway, I leave behind depressing and amusing notions to now turn to earnest ones. I cannot possibly do a post and not drag the Ilimoskus into somehow, right? Perhaps you are wondering about the title of this post.

‘Umeraard-ite’

‘Glowing Heart Day’

On an Ilimoskus birthday, their heartlight (the little four-pointed star situated on their chests) glows brightly throughout the duration of the day. But let me tell you of the Ilimoskus belief regarding their heartlight…

The Ilimoskus believe that their Creator’s spirit resides in the hearts of all. Broaden that belief out and it becomes them believing that there is a light in everyone’s heart. And this light is there to guide you, help you, throughout life.

‘May the light from your heart always guide you’

And I believe this too, you know. This is the case for humans. It is not just limited to the Ilimoskus. There is a light within us all, and all we need to do is embrace it. And when we do, the world becomes a very bright and beautiful place.

*

Once upon a time, I had a good German friend called Christian with whom I have many joyful memories. I haven’t seen him for many years, and we fell out of touch, but, due to the wonders of social media these days, he is a friend of mine on Facebook. Today he messaged me saying, “Alles Gute zum Geburtstag”. I never knew what “Happy birthday” was in German until now. Can you believe I never asked him? It made me smile.

Though, I did learn this from him in our time:

“Ich liebe dich”

From my glowing heart, I share a loving light, and so I say Ich liebe dich to you all. I love you. For what is life without love? Love to all, and compassion for all.

*

Embrace the light in your heart

and let it be your guide,

and nevermore will you become

lost within the night

Time Flies

Times Flies

© Jennifer K. Marsh 2014

Hey, my little olden friend,

tell me what it’s like to fly

through the eyes of times gone by!

Did you grow visionary wings

so you could soar over everything?

Is your heart a silver key

that unlocks sight to secret dreams?

Hey, my little olden friend,

know that soon it will be the end!

But you know, deep down inside,

that this is not the last goodbye.

One, two, three: rise and shine!

You’ll be here for all of time,

right up there in my sky.

In my sights.

For you are His,

yet also mine.

***

I suddenly realised the other day that I have been working on the Ilimoskus story since 2011. I mean, I’ve obviously always known that, but it only just hit me. 2011. Time is a funny old thing. This story has been such an unchanging constant in my life that it has made time fly by – ZOOOOMMMM! – to the right here right now; but then, at the same time, it has plodded on right alongside me, taking in every slow little development and savouring it for the precious thing it is.

It’s been a year since my debut novel, the first part of the Ilimoskus trilogy – TIMES OF OLD – was published. It has the capability to fly all over the world if it so wished, but, for now, it is quite happy to inconspicuously hover in the British and North American skies (that may have sounded a little presumptuous, but I didn’t mean it like that at all).

After all, because it is mine, only I can shove it off the edge of the cliff so it can make use of its God-given wings. I’m clearly not very good at shoving. But maybe my little olden friend and I can unlock something instead… Something, something…

fourilyorz

My own personal drawing of the Ilimoskus themselves (left to right: fire, air, water, earth)

We Ilimoskus, we elemental folk, are peaceful beings, unknown to the likes of you humans. We were, that is. Before, you could not see us; before, you could not hear us. We were nothing more than the crackle of fire, the gushing of water, the whisper of wind and the rustling of leaves – always there, but never truly acknowledged.

– Times of Old, Prologue

Maybe we can unlock a heart to see something that was not there before.

Jun daiamel, zhouujostlebako!

What a year it has been.

What a journey!

And what more times are to come?

We will find out. Together.

***

Technically, there is now a second edition of Ilimoskus: Times of Old, although this is not actually stated in the book itself. Even so, if you have a copy of the book from April 2013 – March 2014, you’ve so got a first edition 😉

And here is an update about the online magazine I work for, Pie, if anyone’s interested. It’s having a bit of an overhaul!

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

I love the cold. I love bundling on layers of clothing and I love the battle we face in the mornings, where we must emerge from our warm, cosy duvets to fight the frozen air. Stepping outside and being smacked in the face by the bitter frost and wind, sending shivers down my spine, puts a smile on my face. I don’t know why. But, I know many people do not share my love for the cold, dark months. When it gets to this time of year, all I hear is people moaning about the chill and the short daylight hours, but when the sunshine and heat comes back around in the warmer months, their smiles return and they endlessly declare how they love the heat. I, on the other hand, am quite miserable when it is hot, and it is I who then takes to moaning. When people discover that I love the cold and hate the heat, I often receive looks that would imply I am insane.

A little while back I returned home from spending some time in Texas. Months before I was due to head there, I was concerned about one thing: the weather. It is hot in Texas, and, as you now know, I don’t do hot. While I was there, there were a couple of very insignificant moments that simply made me think:

***

1) I was watching my cousin play tennis one afternoon, and I was talking to the tennis coach – a native Texan. He was saying how the weather on this day was the perfect tennis playing weather.

“It’s nice and cool, and there’s a light breeze. Perfect,” he said.

At this, I could not help but laugh, to which he gave me a peculiar look. I then felt the need to promptly explain myself. “It’s not cool,” I replied. It was about 25°C (77°F), which, for those who are not familiar with British weather, is a really nice summer’s day. Also, bearing in mind it was November, I was wearing a vest top. That felt wrong on so many levels, I cannot even describe it. It was against everything I have ever known being a Briton.

The tennis coach gave a big smile, now understanding why I laughed. “Ah, yeah!” he enthused. “This is hot for you, ’cause you’re from polar icecaps.”

Now, the United Kingdom is a far cry from being ‘polar icecaps’, but then I thought… Perhaps to a native Texan, who is used to enduring ludicrously high temperatures that I’m pretty sure the United Kingdom has never experienced even when we reach record-breaking heights, our country does seem like polar icecaps. And to me, a native Briton, Texas might as well be the Sahara Desert. It’s all relative. We acclimatise to the environment we’re in, because that’s how we survive.

2) While I was in Texas, the mornings were about 16°C (61°F). I walked my cousins to school in the mornings, and I left the house in a thin cardigan. Now, if I were walking my cousins to school back home in November, we would be kitted out in the whole shabang: coats, scarves, gloves. You know the deal. Anyway, the point is, sometimes I heard the locals say something…

“It’s chilly – it’s getting cold!” they exclaimed.

It made me smile to myself. This is another example of things being relative. If those Texans experienced a British November morning, I’d question whether they would make it through the day. Those early mornings were the equivalent of a pleasant day in the UK.

***

However, the United Kingdom, in the grand scheme of things, really isn’t that cold. There are places far, far colder. But it does get cold, dropping below freezing when winter comes along (well, in theory, anyway). I know it’s not officially winter yet, but here are some pictures of a Great British winter in all its glory.

This is such a classic British winter image. The Houses of Parliament covered in snow from Westminster Bridge in good ole London

You’ve got to have an image of the telephone box in the snow, right?

Again, this image is a classic. The native robin is one of the few British birds that sticks out the harsh weather and doesn’t migrate in the winter. For that reason, seeing a robin in the snow is one of the most iconic British winter scenes that comes to my mind

This is actually a picture of the Cathedral Grounds in my old hometown

So, although we’re a way off from officially being in winter, I’m sure any Briton will agree that it’s getting pretty chilly out now (in fact, the MET office are saying that next week the temperature is set to plunge). But isn’t there something special in the air when it gets cold? Okay, you may hate the cold, but I don’t know one person who doesn’t enjoy curling up on the sofa with a hot drink, watching the telly which really gets good in autumn and winter, feeling satisfied and content, warm and snug while the weather blows and howls outside. And, when it’s cold, the British cuisine really becomes Great. British food was made for the cold months: hearty and warm! It is the definition of comfort food. Soups, pies, roasts, stews, casseroles, gravy, veg – the whole lot – and how can we forget the glorious, glorious puddings? (one of my personal favourites is rice pudding – you can’t get more homely than that!) In the cold, we may be shivering and sniffing when we walk through the door after a long day, with red noses and rosy cheeks, and numb fingers that don’t function properly when we try to undo our coats; and, if you wear glasses, it may be a little bit irritating when you walk through the door only to have your lenses steam up instantly so you can’t even see the coat you’re supposed to be undoing. But isn’t warming up and getting cosy an unmatchable feeling? And surely, if you hate the cold, the food makes up for it just a little… right? When we eat warm food with the steam rising in our faces, you can just feel the warmth spread throughout our bodies – a tender glow that gives us a bear hug, and wraps every inch of us in wholesome well-being.

I don’t know if this happens to be because I’m just happier in the winter and therefore I am joyously biased, but I find that the colder it gets, the nicer people are. Is that just me? But think about it. It’s almost like the cold weather brings us all together, luring the best of human nature out of us. Because, let’s face it: the cold can be cruel indeed, and there are many less fortunate individuals who struggle through the months, be it because they can’t afford heating or shelter, or can’t afford the hearty food we all need to get by. When it’s cold, we see things like this far more commonly:

It is as though the coldness makes us realise that humanity is precious – the most heart-warming gift we can ever give. It is as though the coldness makes us realise that being alone is bitter, and that we all need someone: maybe someone dear to cuddle on the darkest of nights; maybe someone beside us to laugh with as we slip on the ice. Maybe someone we don’t know to stand before us and smile as they hand us their warm heart wrapped in a bundle of kindness.

Though on the outside we may be numb, our glowing warmth runs deep within, and we should always remember that it is there. If you hate the cold months, just remember that the glow is there, in you and in everyone around! You’ve just got to find it. And it’s so bright I’m sure you couldn’t possibly overlook it 🙂

Cold hands, warm heart, so they say.

It is so very true.

***

May you wrap up and stay warm throughout the cold months! And may you share your kindness with as many people as you are able. Winter draws ever near, and those of us in the northern hemisphere are soon to feel its bite, but we will all get through it with a smile if we embrace the glow that lights up the world.

Thanks for reading. Take care, everyone.

~ Jennifer

Looking Through Glass

It was like looking through glass; he was there to see and to stand beside, yet they could never truly enter each other’s lives. …  Their hands touched on the glass, but contact could never be. – Ilimoskus: Times of Old, chapter 9

What are you supposed to do when you cannot connect with someone? So you can see them, but can you hear them? Can they hear you? Is the glass breakable? Or instead, is it your heart that shatters?

Seeing isn’t everything. That deeper connection is desperately needed, otherwise it feels as though a piece of you is missing. And no one wants to walk around not feeling whole, do they?

Ornate Door

Ornate Door

© Jennifer K. Marsh 2013

I loved to be alone amid the fields of green,
but then I started swirling as in a distant dream;
I fell down to sleep upon the evening grass
waiting in frozen darkness for the time to pass.
And though I did awaken
lost in nightmare’s vision,
I hadn’t been forsaken
for I had promptly risen
beneath the dimming sun.
I looked to the red sky
far beyond my hazy eyes
and saw heaven’s ornate door.
How I yearned to visualise
the colours kept within the heights,
so I opened up this door
to let the crimson rubies pour!

I was alone amid the fields of green
and then I started swirling as in a distant dream,
but my hand was taken by the life I could not see
and we spun under the jewels while dancing like the breeze.
And though the rubies hurt me,
for they did cascade,
my mind had been set free
in some crazy escapade
that I never knew begun!
I waded through the waters red
and my startled feet then fled;
I think they ran up to the door,
assuming that they could explore.

But they ignored the sign beside
the cloud of darkened eventide,
warning that they must abide
by the rules of life’s wild ride.
It stated that this ornate door
was for sleep and nothing more!
And since my feet were wide awake
the door slammed shut for my own sake;
my footing fell, I lost the door,
but in its place my heart soon soared
for on the breeze of life I danced.

I loved to be alone amid the fields of green,
but then I started swirling as in a distant dream;
as I spun under the door I finally realised
that I am not welcome there with my open eyes.
I do not know, I shall not ask, for I only agree…
but can someone tell me how I’m meant to be?