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#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

A Stroll Around Castle Grounds – Week 36 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for RSPB)

Each step brings acrobats

hopping from their low, thin tightropes:

a dazzlement of light-green bodies

shifting soundlessly

into the unplanned arrangement of wildflowers

at the edge of the castle’s grassy moat.

Meadow browns and gatekeepers

rest on knapweed, thistles, oxeye daisies;

invisible from atop the battlements,

mesmerising at ground level.

Pausing for shade, sun having summoned

salt droplets from our skin,

a casual glance at nettles lining the path

reveals white and milk chocolate swirls

clinging all over the leafy stingers;

slimy occupants taking no chances

at being seen.

Further into the surrounding woodland,

jackdaws cackle,

while bronze feathers streak through the sky,

too fast and too distant to identify.

Amongst the branches of a full tree,

this mystery lands, watching –

for threat or prey?

The direction of its gaze is impossible to determine.

Nevertheless, we feel its keenness.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

[Apologies for how these poems are formatted. I do write them in stanzas, but WordPress rarely decides to keep them, no matter how much I argue with it.]

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

#52weeksofnaturepoetry Week 1: Log House

These open wounds fill over time.

Spongy umbrellas held high, prospective tenants

look upon the cracked stump, climb it, reach inside

and settle.

Shelved cities spill out.                 

Sometimes

a family – two parents, one child –

stand ready at the mulchy base

while cousins look on

in rain caps.

Mummers

to treasure seekers, wanderers.

Those who scuttle, flit, crawl.

Proud of the dead bark

and the breath it still holds.

This poem is part of my #52weeksofnaturepoetry project to raise funds for UK wildlife charity RSPB and to encourage an appreciation for nature. If you enjoyed it, please consider sharing it and/or donating to the RSPB via my Just Giving page here.

Help keep wildlife wild.

books, Poetry, Uncategorized

Audiobooks!

Hi everyone, I know it’s been a long time between posts — I’ve had lots of stuff going on both personal and book-wise lately, and it’s taken a lot of energy to keep up with just my usual daily routines. I’ll post a full update sometime next month, but for now, I thought I’d chime in with the audiobook release of two of my books:

Wings In A Wounded Sky is a middle grade fantasy featuring a cast of lively characters inspired by various mythical creatures, and the wonderful narrator, Sarah Brown, put a lot of heart into bringing each one to life. You can find the audiobook here (UK) and here (US).

Here’s the blurb:

While the orphaned Ogg, Rae, dreams of being able to socialize with humans, she doesn’t expect to be welcomed into the home of two complete strangers. When she learns they’re from another land and have no idea that humans are supposed to fear and hate Oggs, she begins to settle down and count them as family. 

But when the mysterious phenomena that brought them there—great gashes in the sky that cause dramatic shifts within Culmina’s landscape—suddenly get more frequent, the situation soon threatens Rae’s newfound way of life. Discovering that the cause is the war between the Fae and the Dragon-people, who live on floating cities high above the clouds, she vows to put an end to it to save those she loves. 

To do so, she must team up with the sassy ninth princess of the dragon-people, the downtrodden third prince of the Fae, and Max, a fellow orphan and hot-air balloon enthusiast. But when prejudice runs high and time is running out, can she get them to work together?

If We Could Hold Up The Sky is a poetry collection that covers the friendship of two neurodivergent people, based off personal experience. The audiobook’s narrator, Jessica Sinacori, did an excellent job of performing each poem, and from our discussions, I feel she very much understood the heart of the collection. You can find the audiobook here (UK) and here (US).

Here’s the official blurb:

Love is malleable and comes in many forms. It can be shaped into bridges and carved into doorways. It can become a hand to hold up the sky when everything threatens to crash down around us.

Inspired by personal experience,  If We Could Hold Up the Sky is a poetry collection revolving around the tale of two neurodivergent individuals who meet as colleagues, fall rapidly into an iron friendship, and gradually become romantic partners.

The collection also explores mental health, childhood, societal expectations, work-related stress, and how a solid foundation of support can make all the difference to overall well-being.

To celebrate the release of both audiobooks, I’m giving away ten copies of each (via promo codes that can be redeemed on Audible’s website). All you have to do to win one is email me at kathrynoftreeshallow@gmail.com and state which audiobook you’d like and whether you’re in the UK or US (to any readers elsewhere, apologies — the codes I have only work for Audible’s UK and US sites). I’m operating the giveaway on a first come, first serve basis, and will update this post when all copies have been claimed to prevent leaving anyone disappointed.

That’s all for now — happy reading and happy listening!

books

Wings in a Wounded Sky – new middle-grade novel cover reveal!

Hi everyone, just a quick post about my upcoming middle grade fantasy novel, Wings in a Wounded Sky.

The book is in the final stages of production, and will likely be out by the end of this month (my publisher tends not to have rigid release dates, so sometimes it’s a bit of a guessing game). As such – and since I’m really excited to share it – I thought I’d reveal the book’s glorious cover:

Here’s the draft blurb, to give you an idea of what the book’s about:

While orphaned Ogg, Rae, dreams of being able to socialise with humans, she doesn’t expect to be welcomed into the home of two complete strangers. When she learns they’re from another land and have no idea that humans are supposed to fear and hate Oggs, she begins to settle down and count them as family.

But when the mysterious phenomena that brought them there – great gashes in the sky that cause dramatic shifts within Culmina’s landscape – suddenly get more frequent, the situation soon threatens Rae’s new-found way of life. Discovering that the cause is the war between the Fae and the Dragon-people, who live on floating cities high above the clouds, she vows to put an end to it to save those she loves.

However, to do so, she must team up with the sassy ninth princess of the dragon-people, the down-trodden third prince of the Fae, and Max, a fellow orphan and hot-air balloon enthusiast. When prejudice runs high, she has to fight to make them co-operate, and time is running out. 

Uncategorized

What I’ve been up to lately

Hi everyone, I know this blog’s been quiet for some time — longer than I anticipated in my last update — so I thought I’d check in for a bit.

I’m still recovering from burn out, thus I’ve been trying to take it easy with writing and other ‘work’ things and instead have been attempting more hobbies/relaxing activities (like finally getting The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s DLC and messing around with that and other games. I’ve missed Zelda, a lot.)

I did start editing a children’s poetry collection (that I initially wrote back in January 2020) as a light re-introduction to other editing bits I want to do this year, however, I received edits for my upcoming middle grade fantasy novel from my publisher, and ended up deep-diving into those to get them done by the deadline. I could have asked for an extension, but I had some appointments for personal and medical stuff coming up, and I wanted to finish the edits before then, as appointments (for anything) drain me tremendously, so I pushed through. (And now I’m feeling it.)

I’m hoping to go back to gently editing that poetry collection sometime next week, once all appointments are done and over with. In the meantime, I’ve been compiling a huge (four pages) list of notes to show the doctor for the last remaining appointment in case I get overwhelmed and lose my words, or go hyper and ramble off into irrelevant information (sometimes, both of those happen, which is… interesting. Either way, having to explain things about myself always leaves me exhausted), and attempting to make my website look better.

One thing I really should mention is that the lovely people at the RSPB put me forward for their ‘star volunteer’ nomination for the work I did on #52weeksofnaturepoetry, and somehow, I was actually chosen. I’m delighted and very thankful, as their fundraising team really did a lot to help me throughout my fundraiser, and honestly, it was just so nice to hear that they enjoyed my poems.

I’m also starting to query a new project (a paranormal teen/young YA novel with a mix of Garth Nix’s Sabriel and Hocus Pocus vibes) with literary agents, though as querying was one of the things that really took its toll on me last year, I’m trying to pace myself and be very selective with who I send my query to so I don’t overwhelm myself with it all.

Thanks for reading this far — this is all I can think of for now. Blogging will likely be sporadic this year, as I’m really hoping to focus on self-care and not bury myself under figurative mountains of writing. But it is hard, as every time I attempt to rest, my brain tries to tell me I’m not being productive or proving my worth to society, which isn’t helpful in the slightest. (For those interested, I’m on Universal Credit, which is a UK benefit that many people have to rely on for income for various reasons. As I’m on it because I can’t work in traditional environments and get overwhelmed by other people, I always feel like I need to be doing something to ‘earn’ the money I receive. It’s not a healthy way of thinking, but at the moment, I can’t shake it.)

Anyway, until next time!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Uncategorized

#52weeksofnaturepoetry Fundraising Goal Reached (and general update)

Hi everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything as I’ve been recovering from burn out.

As usual, for the past year I’ve been engaged in various writing projects, and as I seem to be incapable of resting until everything’s done, I went overboard and worked myself into exhaustion. (Finding a good balance with writing is a constant struggle for me, because if I try to rest/pace myself, my brain kicks in with telling me I’m being lazy or stuff won’t get finished. Which is sort of true, because if I don’t make a conscious effort to keep going with something, it is likely the project won’t go anywhere.)

But anyway, that aside, I am incredibly proud to formally announce that I reached my fundraising goal of £500 for my #52weeksofnaturepoetry RSPB fundraiser, which ran from 1st November 2020 – 1st November 2021. The lovely people on the RSPB’s fundraising team supported me throughout, as did all my family and friends — and, of course, the kind, wonderful individuals who donated to the cause. Thank you all so much, I’m overwhelmingly grateful!

It’s amazing to have actually achieved my target, as I’ve tried fundraising in the past and it didn’t go so well. No only regarding donations, but also support. It really does make a huge difference to feel supported, both practically and emotionally, while fundraising, as it can be very demoralising when others dismiss what you’re desperately trying to achieve.

I wanted to help the RSPB because what they do for our wildlife is wonderful, and much needed, but my difficulties being around people and busy environments mean that the bigger projects and public events aren’t an option for me to join in with. So I have to work with what I can do, rather than focusing on what I can’t, and even if the difference I make is small, it doesn’t mean it’s pointless. (For anyone wondering, yes, I have been told before that working to support nature and environment charities/organisations is pointless because bad stuff still goes on. But I’m now surrounded with more encouraging, positive people, and thus strive not to let such negativity get to me.)

Moving forward, I am looking to get the poems published as a complete collection, with a percentage of the proceeds going to the RSPB. How long it’ll take me to either find a compatible publisher or self-publish the collection myself, I’m not sure, but I believe it’ll happen eventually — and when it does, I’ll post about it here.

I may not post again before the new year, as I promised myself to take a decent break from everything for a while, but after that I feel it’d be nice to write more poetry for this blog and maybe an article or two of random things I find interesting.

Until then, ciao!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Trickles – Week 52 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Raising money for RSPB)

How many ages

has this little stream sought to carve its mark,

tirelessly trickling downhill,

working particle by particle

to outline its bed?

Giants grow beside it,

a hundred variations

of leaves, stems, flowers, dangling tendrils

catching every spare droplet –

yet they weren’t even saplings, or seeds, or spores

when the stream began its task.

Other flora grew in their place, and before that,

more still.

Generations have passed

watching the water lick on,

and the ground, impressed by its perseverance,

took shape from it,

drawing a steep, gaping mouth

with fall-filled yawns.

Now visitors congregate

to the fruit of the stream’s toil:

a quiet ravine splashed with every kind of green,

picturesque to them,

practical and well-stocked

to the fauna, great and small,

who keep it company.

This 52nd poem is the final part of a project I’ve been doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. The donation page will be left up until the end of November 2021 (if not longer). Thank you for your support!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

In the Sculpture’s Mouth – Week 51 #52weeksofnaturepoetry RSPB Fundraiser

Mouth agape, silent war cry.

Body hammered scrap metal,

dusty, coarse red

from the elements.

Hardly a place

you’d expect to find three plump feather-balls

chirping for their parents.

Yet, in the gap between those rusted fangs,

they huddle within their nest.

A blush of yellow and grey

flicks from the rooftops to the sculpture’s head,

tail wagging up and down,

dripping water caught on its plumage

(a tell of its quick visit to the neighbour’s fountain).

Eyeing people in the distance, it pauses:

just another feature of the motionless guard.

All clear, it returns to its young

and fills their empty crops

with plentiful spoils.

Little worry for nimble predators

happening upon its modest family,

for, as in previous years, the imposing figure

proves a mighty deterrent.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here.

I was inspired to write this poem by a letter I read in the RSPB’s Nature’s Home magazine that had been sent in by a member of the public. The letter and accompanying photos featured a family of grey wagtails nesting in the mouth of a scrap metal sculpture, going on to say that the sculpture’s owner had seen the birds nesting there the previous year too, and so never wants to sell it. Cool, right?

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry, Uncategorized

More To Moles – Week 50 #52weeksofnaturepoetry: RSPB Fundraiser

Underground shadows,

excavating with spade-like paws,

redistributing nutrients,

aerating, creating

vital drainage in otherwise compacted ground.

Above, we see marks of their passage –

mounds of well-turned earth,

from clearing their intricate tunnels.

Occasionally, they emerge,

noses appearing first

like eager bulbs shooting up debut leaves.

But tunnels don’t dig themselves;

back to work,

shifting between activity and sleep

every four hours.

Shy creatures, they disturb few.

Still, they are called out,

considered ‘pests’,

driven away.

Caught. Killed.

Bodies strung on fences to prove the count.

And all to protect land

reserved for nothing more

than human pastimes

and profit.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

A Plea to the Wizard’s Tree (or Fid Na Ndruad) – Week 49 #52weeksofnaturepoetry

Oh, Rowan! Fine, sturdy tree!

Won’t you grow beside our house

to repel wayward spirits wishing harm?

Mischievous fae; witches

threatening to curse family, crops

and land.

Your clusters of cream flowers

invoke days full of joy,

and each sour, scarlet fruit

wards against malevolence.

From the silvery grey of your bark

to your feather-like leaflets,

you could shield our grounds from unsavoury folk

without even trying.

In return, we’ll protect you

from woodcutters’ metallic bites,

mulch the ground by your roots,

restrict the harvesting of your berries

(which, you should be proud to hear,

 make wonderfully tart jam)

so each thrush, redstart, blackbird and waxwing

who visits won’t starve.

Dear fid na ndruad,

I don’t believe you acknowledge

how wonderful you are:

spoons turned from your fallen wood

keep milk from curdling,

a charm of bark in our pocket

eases rheumatic limbs,

and when we find our path unclear,

you’re the key that helps us divine.

So please, I know it’s a lot to ask,

but would you kindly indulge us

one last time?

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Not Just A Vampire’s Friend – Week 48 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for RSPB)

Cult classics feature their likenesses

in every other scene,

encouraging rumours of blood-thirsty beings

partial

to sinking their teeth into human veins.

And while, yes, Vampire bats do exist,

they’re native

to Central and South America:

weighing just two ounces,

their subtle feeding habits

don’t even disturb their prey.

Now, swing your attention

to (the often overcast) British skies,

and listen as I tell you

of the wonderous night-time furry fliers

woodlands and old buildings

readily hide.

Microbats, they’re dubbed,

as on the whole, they are rather small.

Don’t be fooled into thinking

they’re a single species, however,

for the term encompasses seventeen families,

diverse in every way –

from ear length to where they roost,

nose shape, and fur colour, too.

(And for those of you concerned,

they’re insectivores, all.)

Echolocation, that mystical-seeming skill —

with it, they navigate

the all-important hedgerow paths

between sheltered sleeping quarters

to feeding grounds,

where they zoom, zoom

to snap up flies, moths and gnats.

Yet threats lurk everywhere,

sometimes in the shape

of a misinformed homeowner,

fearing wires and woodwork

will be gnawed.

Forced awake and shunted out

during hibernation,

precious energy reserves deplete

until the bats

can go on no more.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Pine Marten – Week 47 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for wildlife charity RSPB)

Cream bib, dark coffee face and fur;

initially, you might murmur, ‘Stoat.’

After all, martens are scarce now, rare.

Mainly lying low in Scotland,

favouring highlands

where their natural habitat remains;

once they boomed

well past its borders.

Look again, hone your focus, take note:

cat-like features and size,

bushy tail,

how comfortably it climbs trees!

(And leaves sweet-smelling, coiled scats,

blue in summer from bilberries.)

Curious, independent, nimble.

A social being?

Not so much, unless it’s time

to partner up.

But the season isn’t yet right

for yowling on the evening air.

Its stomach calls for food,

and to that it must attend.

There it goes, popping

from its resting spot

(snug tree cavities are wonderfully comfortable,

don’t you know?),

and wanders through the hectares

of rich forest

it’s claimed its own.

On the menu? Small mammals.

So beware those semi-retractable claws,

little ones!

A cuddly face masks our hunter’s prowess.

Underestimation

often leads to dinner.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!