I’ve stalled these past few days on the new novel, distracted by work, my social life, and plain old laziness. Ah, for the iron discipline of a zen monk, or the regularity of a pendulum clock! Alas, I am but a distemperate author, and as such must move ahead in fits and spurts when I can.

But! Here’s a quote from my latest chapter, selected by virtue off being hot of the press:

Mrs. McConnell slowed to a walk, stopped. The tree was an oak. A rhyme came to her, a warning of old:

Ellum do grieve,
Oak he do hate,
Willow do walk
If Yew travels late

Looking at the broad trunk of the tree, twisted and warped by the passage of countless decades, she saw a face emerge, buckled and rough in the bark. Or had it always been there? It was a powerful face, heavy cheeked and with a nose that was bulbous and broken. Thick brows hung low over dark cracks, and the mouth was a bitter sneer as it stared at her.

Mrs. McConnell took a pace back, and then launched into a fit of barking at the Oak. As if summoned, a number of small, gray skinned men emerged from behind the bole like ants from a disturbed nest, each naked and bald and bearing the same face as that on the tree. Three, five, seven of them, crawling on all fours as if there were no such thing as gravity, each staring at her with twin black eyes filled with odious malice.

“Usurper, interloper,” they all said at once, their voices vibrating with anger.

“Cord wood, furniture maker,” she said, and leapt back as a number of the gray men jumped off the oak and made a rush at her. Laughing, she ran away, easily out pacing them, knifing away through the other trees, watching carefully where she ran. Only the old ones really bore watching, but you never knew, never could tell.