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Posts Tagged ‘trees’

 I’ve just returned home from a visit to my uncle in Laurel Springs. The journey back and forth to the North Carolina mountains was long, but the time spent with him was wonderful. And even in the most normal day-to-day activities, writing and art inspirations were present.

On the drive south (and on the return drive north), the forsythia, Bradford pears, redbuds, and crab apple trees contrasted with the ever-present pines and splashed the Virginia and North Carolina hillsides with color. In particular, I found the deep purplish pink blooms of the redbuds (also known as Judas trees) stunning. There were swatches along I-81 awash in vivid purple-pink from these small trees. And upon arriving at my uncle’s home, the trio of weeping cherry trees along his driveway greeted me with their gnarled trunks and streaming branches of pink blossoms.

How easy it is to believe in dryads – those lovely wood nymphs who are bound to their own particular tree, and carefully look after it. Typically shy, they will occasionally dance in the shadows of the forest or in the moonlight. The twisted trunks of my uncle’s weeping cherries did indeed have a womanly shape to them, and the strands of blossoms that sprang from the top of the trunks looked like locks of hair. Oreads, or mountain pine tree nymphs, seemed to watch from their swaying evergreens on the slope behind my uncle’s home. Known for being a bit testy – I let them be.

 Always careful to honor nature, and cherish her creatures whether animal or plant or something magical – I did not snip a few branches of cherry blooms to pop in a canning jar. Though they’d have been a cheerful addition to the kitchen table, I didn’t want to hear the tree’s spirit screaming as I cut through its flesh. Not to mention, the revenge for hurting (or worse destroying) a dryad’s tree can be quite dreadful.

Instead, I brightened my uncle’s kitchen with a bunch of narcissus that I’d plucked from the edge of the woods back home, and transported to Laurel Springs in a Mason jar. What a joy to celebrate Spring with her promise of new beginnings – even as I watch my uncle slip away.

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I love my readers, and so does my publisher. So, for a limited time, Cold Moon Press is offering its readers one of my stories, Blame it on the Trees, as a FREE eBook. Now, let me tell you how this eBook came to be…

Last January, I thought The Greener Forest, my 1st fantasy short fiction collection was complete. But Editor Katie had another idea: “You’ve got trees and tree images in all of these tales. I want one more story where the trees are a character that interacts with the rest of the characters.”

Yikes! Trees as a character. So, I thought about what sort of person trees might care about. I’d used fairies, a Brown Man, she-elf, applehead gnomes, swan maidens, mermaid, dragon, Mud people, and other nature spirits in the book’s stories already. I needed someone different. While leafing through A World of Baby Names [T. Norman] trying to find a name for a main character that might spark a tale, I spotted, Berg: “Directly derived from berg (mountain).” Woot! I’d found my name and my Faerie race: a giant.

I decided to write against type, and make my giant kindhearted. But where would a giant go to interact with others and why? My answers: a zoo, because he likes to hunt animals – with a camera, of course. What kind of job would a giant have? That’s easy – one where he counts gold, or in this case, money. So I made Berg an accountant. Besides being tall with big hands and feet, I also gave him the “typical” large, scary, yellow teeth readers associate with giants. But Berg is embarrassed by his ugly teeth.

Next, I need someone who chooses to interact with a giant. A damsel in distress seemed a reasonable choice. My damsel, Shelly, is a woman babysitting her nephew. Since opposites attract, I made her short and good with words rather than numbers.

And here’s where the trees come into the tale. From placing a wire-like rootlet on the path so the  stroller’s wheel gets tangled, to pushing up the sidewalk with a root and tripping Shelly, to shoving a teen into the grizzly bear pen – the zoo’s trees play an active role in the love story. And, yes, it is a love story.

blame it on the trees cover When Editor Katie suggested giving away one of my stories as a gift to my readers, Blame it on the Trees seemed a natural. Now, I needed cover art. I’d done a watercolor (with a few inks & a touch of acrylics) called Poet’s Moon which seemed perfect. A small square of the painting had been used by Scifaikuest as the cover art for their February 2012 issue, but over half of the painting remained unpublished. That half was filled with trees in the pinks and purples one often associates with Valentine’s Day.

So – a belated Happy Valentine’s Day to my readers. Visit http://tinyurl.com/vonnies-blame-trees-story for your FREE copy (or enjoy it as the last story in The Greener Forest should you like to read more magical tales). There is a time limit on the FREE, but I hope to have the eBook available for those who want a quick read for quite some time.

And should you decide to read either Blame it on the Trees or The Greener Forest, I hope you’ll take the time to “Like” the book and give it a brief review. Thanks, readers. I really do appreciate your support.

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