Audiobook pre-production

Production begins on the audiobook edition of Sea of a Thousand Words. And, while preparing notes and background information for my narrator, I have revisited the casting choices of my main characters. Below are just a few–can you identify the cast members? Which ones do you agree with, or which ones differ from how you envision them? If so, in what way? (Inquiring authors want to know).

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Author Rewards

author event II           PSX_20171229_132728          Seattle author event

As I continue the author events for Sea of a Thousand Words, I’m beginning to notice the evolution of my audiences. This past summer saw the typical protocol; introducing the story’s premise, discussing the writing process and answering questions about the motivation of this or that plot device. However, these days as the novel’s readership widens, a larger percentage of audiences are comprised of ardent fans. It is a treat to be met with readers who want nothing more than to tell me how they feel connected with a certain character or how a specific storyline touched them significantly. I find myself talking much less and allowing the readers to share their thoughts and feelings.

My daughter predicted this months ago; before the manuscript was even published she told me to prepare for sharing my characters with the world. “You’re going to have to let them go soon and they’ll become special to complete strangers. Just imagine what it will be like to read fan-fictions based on your book.”

Dot

curly hair or wavy hair?

Since then, I’ve learned the meanings of slang words like, “canon”, “ship”, “OTP,” and “AU”. I’ve heard disagreements between fans about the specific appearance of one of my main characters and I’ve leaned back in my chair to listen as one reader explained to another their personal take on the symbolism of my raven “Monk” and orca “Saka”.

Beautiful.

As I make progress toward the audiobook creation, I’m remembering these instances and taking them to heart. The familiarity that readers develop with favorite stories is intimate and not to be trifled with. (After all, this die-hard Tolkien fan was royally ticked off when Legolas showed up as a blonde in the movie). When I heard Gray Eubank narrate a passage from my book last month, I experienced the story from a reader’s perspective. It was a valuable opportunity.

I’m currently working on the structure for SoaTW’s sequel these days and this knowledge is a powerful motivator, (or heavy burden, depending on the day). I have my favorite characters… I won’t commit to them publicly as I love them all, with the exception perhaps of one or two. I’ll wrestle with their individual fates and plot development as I bear in mind the responsibility I owe not only to my characters but to the readers who’ve come to love them and their story.

This is what makes being a writer such a privilege.

Dot at Massett Bay

Do you have a personal connection with a particular character in this novel? Is there a memorable moment for you in the storyline? Is there something you’d really like to see (or definitely don’t want to happen) in the next installment?  If so, I’d love to hear about it. Just comment below or email me directly at windlinepress@gmail.com

Thanks for sharing

~ Chris

I am looking forward to the upcoming author event in Corvallis Oregon on the 2nd of November. Joining me will be a good friend and old (as in former, not aged), Oregon State Theater colleague, Gray 22281979_511050405916377_6973567643477312362_n.jpgEubank. We’ll be sharing a podium for the evening as I discuss the process of writing the novel and Gray reads a passage from one of the pivotal scenes. I’m excited to hear it read aloud–and by such a talented actor to boot. The novelty of hearing my characters voices from a seasoned stage actor such as Gray will be a real treat.

We’re recording the audiobook for SoaTW this winter, with Gray’s narration. I truly cannot wait to get started on this process.

 

For local fans of the book or those wishing to learn more about the process of writing a speculative fiction story in a fast-changing world, please join us at GRASS ROOTS BOOKS & MUSIC 227 2nd St. Corvallis Or. 97333. The event begins at 7PM and should wind down by 8:30. (Of course, since we are both old theater people, you can bet on an after-party occurring @ a nearby establishment).

[If you would like to schedule an author event for a bookstore or book club in your town, please contact me at windlinepress@gmail.com].

Buzz.

” Part imaginative dystopian future, part environmental warning, Wallace’s new book is fitting for a climate in which The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984 have regained public prominence. Sea of a Thousand Words pulls off the best trick in imaginative fiction — so creative you couldn’t think of it yourself, yet so plausible that it feels a moment away.”

–Third Place Books, Seattle WA.

Ripples in the Water

After the last month, post-release of Sea of a Thousand Words, I’m settling into a normal pace once again. The whirlwind of setting up the author events and fulfilling special orders has passed and I’m now filling my days by contacting independent book sellers and establishing a (less-political) presence on social media.

The interesting thing that I’ve learned however is this: I expected that the most exciting part of finishing my book would’ve been the much-anticipated publishing-day, but that is not so. The most rewarding part of this adventure has been hearing from my readers–a diverse group of fans to be sure. Many of whom were drawn to the book because of its environmental and geo-political issues, others because of the action and adventure and still others for the science and technology aspects. I’ve also heard from much younger readers who were focused on the relationships between several of the characters. (I didn’t anticipate having a YA audience)! This very morning, I hopped on Twitter to discover that people were retweeting a recommendation for my novel–that’s an exhilarating feeling for an author, to be certain.

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Perhaps it is because much of what occurs within the plot is relative to the current–and at times–controversial events that are happening (or threatening to happen), in our own world, but quite a few readers have been sending me articles about these issues. For instance, here’s a link that I recently received in an email from a fan regarding the CRISPR enzyme. It’s on a Radio Lab podcast and is quite fascinating. It got me thinking: Even though my novel is set 15-years in the future, this technology is far closer than I envisioned. Certainly, the ethical questions are no longer hypothetical–scientists are already facing these dilemmas. Give it a listen, it’s well worth it.

The genre for Sea of a Thousand Words  has been called “speculative fiction.” I feel that is an adequate description for a novel that’s not too dystopian sci-fi/ fantasy, but not rooted completely in the present. However, as I start the research for a sequel, (which will reach even farther into the future), I doubt that the follow-up novel could even be labeled “science-fiction” any longer… more like, “science-probability or science-inevitability.”

fa40f895c52649e98f9e7d651ead0d33It is great to hear from everyone who has sent their feedback. Your cards, letters and emails have been such a treat, and to hear that my characters are loved by others is more than gratifying. It quite simply inspires me to get back to work and find more adventures in which to immerse them. (Remember, posting your comments on Sea of a Thousand Words Amazon’s page as well as sites like Goodreads helps to spread the word). I’ll continue to post more reader remarks, links and sources that I get from fans of the book. Please feel free to contact me with your insights or opinions on the subjects.

And as always, thank you for supporting this indie author!PSX_20160422_172725

~ Chris

 

Preorder your copy of Sea of a Thousand Words

The book is finished at last! I am eagerly anticipating the official email that it’s available through Amazon, Ingram and Smashwords in print and e-publication. While I wait, I am working on a print of Monk the raven.

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Author’s artwork. 4/21/2017

If you would like to own a signed copy of my book and receive a free 6×9″ original hand-cut block print of Monk, please click this paypal link and pre-order yours today.

Print copy–$16.00 plus 4.00 shipping USD

And remember, $1 from every hard copy and e-reader purchase goes to water.org  efforts to provide clean drinking water across the world. So, with every copy ordered, you are helping to find a solution.

 

This novel is a special project for me and I hope that you’ll not only enjoy the cast of characters, but will find inspiration from the story. I look forward to your feedback–(please write a review)!  I depend on you all to spread the word about the book to others. Avid readers and fans are the best marketing platform any author could ask for.

Thanks in advance for your purchase–and happy reading!

07c8c25e-2e38-4388-9946-e232dd5be43f   ~ Chris

*(For purchases after the pre-order deadline, I’ll soon be posting links for where to find the book. Author event schedule is forthcoming).

A Good Omen

1-Front-CoverSeveral months ago, I entered Sea of a Thousand Words into an international book-to-script competition. Earlier this week, I received judges’ feedback. I’m quite pleased that out of thousands of entries, my novel made it into the top 100 candidates for adapting to screen.

Read what the judges said about Sea of a Thousand Words:

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Sea of a Thousand Words

There is a very interesting premise at the heart of this piece, one that seems on par within current industry trends by approaching the subject of immigration through the futuristic lens of climate change and the effects of a world-wide crisis. Set in the very near future, the world’s rapidly changing climate has resulted in one of the largest earthquakes in history, altering the Pacific Northwest coastline and dramatically increasing the numbers of climate refugees pouring into the U.S. and Canada. As a result, HighTower Security is hired to enforce strict border regulations and eventually their leaders go down a dark road and make plans to release a weaponized enzyme into concentrated refugee populations and eliminate the problem once and for all, unless our heroine (Dot) is able to stop them in time.
Considering the originality of the premise and the fact that the subject matter is incredibly relevant to today’s issues and sensitivities, this is a very strong candidate for adaptation. The writing style too, felt very well-defined with vivid, cinematic strokes in the exposition. The only real drawback to the piece is perhaps the familiar dynamic of an unextraordinary heroine who faces off against a superior foe, which is usually some kind of corporation. Still, the story felt fresh and timely in its design and the themes it projects, which could add weight to its adaptation potential. 
                                                                  .   .   .
And now, with publication only days away, I am very much looking forward to hearing back from readers. Please remember to send my your feedback once you’ve read the book–and help spread the word.
Thank you.
                   ~Chris
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When Art Predicts life

This has become the winter of my discontent. Made less tolerable by events that daily appear in my newsfeed.

When I began Sea of a Thousand Words last January, I started with the premise, “What if a Trump-style government ever came to power?” And because my story is set in the future (2033), I extrapolated what might occur with an isolationist administration that places nationalism above all else. The phrase “lottery of birth” became central to my theme.

The world of my novel occurs at a time when the Cascadia quake has destroyed much of the west coast. The earth’s temperature continues to rise, creating a global crisis of climate refugees. Technology has advanced as predicted, and the chasm between those with power and wealth versus the rest of the world has widened to extremes. Countries have closed their borders and hired privatized, militant contractors to oversee the perimeters.

My manuscript was complete before the November election occurred, and since then I wonder if my speculative-fiction outlook for our future is perhaps too naïve. As I witness these very events starting to occur–three weeks into the new administration–I imagine myself in Emma Thompson’s role in the movie Stranger than Fiction. It IMG_20160613_092924.jpgis a rather unnerving thought.

And yet, I am reminded that the protagonists in my novel could also be in our future. And in that case, hope is not dead. It is likely that we already have young people in our midst who will grow up to be the heroes of our story: Somewhere out there, a leader like Reba is acquiring wisdom; an Ooligan and a Kai are learning how to resist; a warrior like Adili takes a stand. Somewhere in our world, a young girl like Dot–who may not yet realize her strength, will challenge those in power, and fighting beside her will be a loyal friend like Táan.           One does not have to look to works of fiction to understand that there will always be those who will rise up against injustice.

I’m waiting for the cover art design and for proof-readers to check the accuracy of the story’s myriad of languages. As I revisit certain chapters, my excitement builds–because I realize that this isn’t so much a dystopian future as a manifesto. We will be OK just as long as there are people who possess the courage to fight.

The tagline of this novel is “Who deserves to inherit the earth?”

It is a question that, soon enough, we must all answer.

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My very first “fan art”

Less than a year has passed since I began writing my novel and I approach the finish line at last. At a final count of 145,000 words, with a new epilogue recently added, I am feeling satisfied. Sea of a Thousand Words has made the rounds of a very dedicated group of beta readers and, in its third rendition of revisions, the novel is tight and reads very well (in my humble opinion, of course).

As I wait to hear back from interested parties, I was recently surprised by a gift: My very first fan art. My daughter drew a poster of the book and presented it to me on Christmas day. It was such a trip to see my beloved characters, but through her imagination–her version… It was quite an unexpected rush and I actually broke out in tears when I unwrapped it.

Here is the poster:

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fan art for Sea of a Thousand Words by Juliet Carson

I have no idea what lies in store for this book. I’ve received some good feedback from my readers and encouraging critiques from literary agents. Should the final word-count prove too lengthy for mainstream publishing, I may opt to self publish and release a hardback as well as e-reader edition. What I am confident of however, is the timeliness and importance of this story. It rings eerily familiar, given the state of our politics and environment these days. I feel certain that readers will agree.

Stay tuned, keep your fingers crossed for the novel and I’ll let you all know what transpires soon. Thanks for your interest and support.

~Chris

Old Massett

As I begin to tie the various strands together to finish the tapestry of my story, I am looking back to early chapters in which many of the main characters and settings are introduced. This is one of my favorites, in large part for the description of the Haida longhouse and establishing the relationship between Ol’ Pa and Marta.

~ C.761285

 

 


 

Old Massett. Jul 14. 2022

54°00’19.6″N 131°41’06.5″W

An elderly man and his daughter wandered along the beach, their footprints paralleled the foamy margins of the ebb tide. Every so often, one of them knelt beside a shallow pool and plucked out a spiny urchin or purple sea cucumber. The woman placed them into the basket that she’d slung over her arm.

The recent earthquake made foraging more of a challenge; entire ecosystems had been damaged by the Tyee’s tsunami as far north as the shores of Haida Gwaii. As the northwest coast disintegrated, fish and marine life abandoned their habitats—waiting, it seemed, for the earth to calm itself. The Tyee’s catastrophe had only worsened the already tenuous conditions created by the ocean’s climbing temperatures. The chíin had long since abandoned their Inside Passage runs for cooler water offshore—and once there, massive factory trawlers scooped up the precious salmon. Few now returned to spawn. The local fishermen lost their livelihood and the islands’ residents, their main food source.

The old man veered off his path and began to follow a zigzagging trail of moist sand. He paused abruptly, stooping over a soggy patch to poke at the wet area with his walking stick, creating a miniature well. “Marta, come here—I bet there’s some k’áag hiding down there.”

The woman walked over to the puddle, already refilling with seawater. She bent down and swirled her fingers in the pool, creating a little funnel. “Hmm, maybe so… Did you bring your spade this time, Chiinga?”

He shook his head.

“I figured as much.” She sat the basket down beside her and helped him dig, using both hands to push away the sand.

“Here, try this.” Handing her a flat piece of driftwood, he continued to shovel with the end of his stick. Eventually they uncovered a few dozen butter clams and rinsed them in the saltwater, placing them on top of the catch in Marta’s basket.

“C’mon Ol’ Pa, let’s go home now, I want to soak these before they dry out.” Adjusting her straw hat so that the brim covered the back of her neck, she muttered, “Whew, it’s warm today.”

“OK—OK. Just hold on a minute. I want to take a look at what’s over by the point—see it?” He pointed toward the bluff, “I know for a fact that wasn’t there a week ago. I dug for k’áag at that very spot on Tuesday.”

“It’s just another boat washed up on the rocks, Ol’ Pa. They’ve been coming in all week—ever since the big quake. It’s getting too hot for you to be walking that far—forget about it.”

“Shush girl, I’m going to take a look.” He set off in the direction of the bluff.

Marta caught up with her father and they walked together for some time, the old man humming as they plodded along. The shipwreck was further away than he’d reckoned and it hovered, mirage-like, across the expansive beach. At last, they came upon their target: A blue hull resting askew on two large boulders with a gaping hole at its waterline. On the transom was painted a faded red flower, and beneath it, two words were stenciled in tarnished gold letters, “Dottie Rose.” Marta placed her hands on her hips and stared at the vessel, “We shouldn’t get too close, it might be one of those coyote boats.”

Ignoring her cautionary advice, the old man stepped inside and looked around. His voice echoed through the hull as he spoke. “There might be some stores inside. If there’s a transponder chip, we could salvage it and who knows, maybe sell it. I think I’ll check this out.” He disappeared completely into the boat’s cavity.

Marta sighed and sat down on one of the logs. Removing her hat, she twisted her greying hair into a thick braid. She knew there was no use arguing with Ol’ Pa, he was going to do whatever he wanted to—he always did. She hoped he didn’t get stuck inside the wreck, as she didn’t fancy going inside that dark, smelly thing to rescue him. Shifting her basket into a shadier spot, she covered it with her hat and waited for him to return.

“Daughter—come here! I’ve found something!”

Marta walked over to the hole and peered inside. The interior was dark and she had difficulty locating where his voice came from. Eventually, her eyes adjusted to the shadowy surroundings and she spotted his outline near a companionway. He carried something heavy in his arms. “Chiinga, what do you think you’re…?”

“Hurry up girl, she’s too heavy for me. I think she’s still alive. Come on—help me before I drop her.”

Marta stepped across the debris and realized that he held an unconscious little girl. She grabbed the child’s legs, supporting one foot on each hip as Ol’ Pa carried the girl by her shoulders, her head against his chest; tendrils of curly brown hair spilled across his arms. The two of them crab-walked over the frames, trying not to drop the child. As Marta backed out of the hole, her foot went through one of the vessel’s rotten planks. Marta fell, letting go of the child as her hands hit the rough wood. She felt warm blood trickle down her calf as she struggled to extract her leg from the broken hull. “Careful there, daughter! Pick her up again… OK, now take another step—nice and easy. Let’s put her down right here… Ah, good.”

They laid the girl on the warm sand and slumped down next to her, both winded by the exertion. The tiny girl looked so fragile, her pale face was peppered with dozens of freckles and a nasty gash ran along the side of her forehead, looking as if it might become infected. Marta placed her fingers under the girl’s chin to check for a pulse, the skin felt clammy to her touch, but Marta detected a feeble heartbeat. She glanced up at Ol’ Pa and nodded and then offered him her canteen. “OK, she’s alive–barely. Now what, Chiinga?”

The old man looked toward the ocean, the horizon was clear. “No trackers as far as I can see,” he said. Taking a long swig from his daughter’s canteen he handed it back. “They must not know the boat is here.”

Marta gulped down the water. “What do you suppose she was doing all alone in that boat? Perhaps somebody else went looking for help?” She poured some water on her shirt tail and squeezed the cool liquid onto the child’s lips.

“I don’t see any other footprints in the sand,” Ol’ Pa said. “Maybe if there were others, they got swept overboard?”

“Hmm, I don’t like this. Strangers bring trackers and trackers bring trouble for the village—you know that.” Marta ran her fingers through the child’s tangled hair, brushing several fine strands away from the girl’s eyes. It was a maternal gesture, one she had not used for many years. “Ol’ Pa,” she whispered, “If this little hlk’ín-giid is chipped, then what?”

“Well, there’s no sense worrying about what we can’t fix. Right now, we need to figure out how to get her back to the village.”

Marta stood up and instantly felt the pain in her calf. “Ahhh—that really smarts!” She rolled up her jeans and examined the wound. The bleeding had stopped but the cut looked jagged and deep. “Ugh, Doc’s going to want to stitch this up for sure,” she mumbled.

“Can you walk on it? If so, you go for help. Leave me the water and I’ll stay here,” he gestured inland. “But get Doc Gravin to take care of that cut first—it needs looking at.” He pulled himself up and dragged the little girl farther into the shade. Before Marta could argue, he continued, “Stop at Billy Telford’s place. He’s got that dune buggy—he’ll come for us… And besides, I’ve always wanted to ride in that contraption.”

Marta handed Ol’ Pa the canteen and took her basket of seafood. “Chiinga, please be careful. I’ll be back in a few hours. Promise me you won’t go back inside that boat—not for any stupid transponder chip… I don’t care how much you could get for it.”

Ol’ Pa waved her away. “Yeah, yeah—now off with you, girl. I want to be home in plenty time for my dinner.”

 

The Old Massett longhouse sat in the heart of the village and served as the assembly hall and community center for the inhabitants. The century-old structure was constructed of massive trees from the Naikoon forest and fastened together with wooden spikes. Inside its thick walls, the polished logs were decorated with carvings of ceremonial masks and stylized animals from Haida lore. Complex and colorful figurines of bears, whales and eagles were mounted next to mythical Thunderbirds. Wall-hangings made from roots and cedar bark hung beside woven tapestries that depicted events from long ago. These tactile works of art—created by many hands over the years, kept the Haida history alive. Outside, the building’s ancient timbers were protected by eaves of heavy, roughhewn beams. Columns of steel crabpots stacked along the walls awaited the coming húugaa season—when the spiny Dungeness returned to the shallows. Weathered totem poles towered over the grassy lawn, standing sentinel in front of the double doors. They varied in shape; some stout, others reaching over seventy-feet high. Faded colors clung to the crevices of the totems’ aged caricatures; their eyes—both human and animal—observed all who passed beneath. These gyáa’aang had witnessed many generations of Haida who gathered at the longhouse for potlatches, marriages, births and deaths for hundreds of years.

On this particular evening, the longhouse was packed to the rafters. From a distance, the rows of mullioned windows glowed amber as the oil-lamps burned within—power had not been fully restored to the island since the Tyee. It seemed as if the entire village had heard about Ol’ Pa’s discovery and wanted to see the shipwrecked girl for themselves. Chairs and tables filled the hall and, where there was no room to sit, villagers pressed themselves against the walls. The elders sat on the long bench near the end of the room and whispered amongst themselves as they sipped gángk’an from ceramic mugs. A large black raven perched quietly on the sill of an open window not far from the front doors.

Marta and her father sat near the table where the child rested, laying curled in a fetal position and staring impassively as Doc Gravin performed his examination. He listened to her breathing through his stethoscope, tapped her chest as she coughed and shined his otoscope into her ears and eyes. Marta leaned over to her father and whispered, “Why doesn’t she speak?”

“Well, I s’pose she’ll say something when she has something to say.”

Doc straightened up and looked around the room. “She’s a tough little survivor, this one. Aside from the cut on her head and a bout of chest cold, I’d pronounce her a pretty healthy little girl all in all—and a lucky one—very lucky.”

Eli Hammond the grocer, asked, “Has she said where she came from—how she got up here?”

“Not to me she hasn’t.” Doc said.

Marta inquired, “Do we know if she’s spoken at all… to anyone?”

Billy Telford leaned over from his bench against the wall and spoke. “She only moaned a little—y’know—when we set her in the buggy. Not a word after that for the entire ride back.”

Heads shook throughout the room and people began to murmur. The little girl had been in the village for several hours, but had not opened her mouth since regaining consciousness. Several voices from the back of the hall called out, “Has she been scanned yet?” … “Yeah, do we know if there’s an ID chip?” … “She’s Yáats’ Ýaat’áay, so she’s definitely got to have one.” … “That’s true—all the whiteys are chipped at birth these days.”

The chatter increased until at last Doc Gravin waved his hands to bring about order. “Quiet please, folks—let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I don’t have a scanner, so there’s no way of telling… but there’s nothing saying we can’t get over to the Greenwood to borrow theirs. Have any of their fetchers been spotted recently?”

The longhouse erupted in conversation as everyone spoke at once. Had the fetchers been across the strait? Were any of their tlúu spotted in the bay?… The consensus was that no one had seen any of the fetchers for the past few weeks. Annie Taw suggested that they send a message to the Greenwood in the morning, it was roundly approved by those gathered around.

“Where’s this hlk’ín-giid going to stay for now? who’s taking responsibility?” asked Russell Guujaw, one of the elders. Everyone looked around the room, wondering who would volunteer. It was one thing to rescue an outsider, but food and supplies were scarce these days. Who would be willing to share provisions with a stranger? Especially if that stranger brought trackers to the village.

A chair skidded noisily across the floor as Ol’ Pa rose to his feet. He stood up straight, hands resting on the tabletop for support. He looked around at his neighbors and said, “I will take care of the girl. Me and Marta, that is.”

Marta smiled as if she’d already guessed what her father was going to say.

 

Two and a half months had passed since the discovery of their young castaway. Autumn’s early morning chill crept up the island chain and lingered until well after noon on most days. The humpbacks had reappeared in Dixon Entrance; their colossal flukes slapping the water could be heard from shore. Haida’s fishermen took hope from the whales’ return, trusting that the chíin might soon follow. They mended lines and reinforced their nets in preparation for whatever sockeye run might appear. Families of young children prepared for the onset of classes. Old Massett’s schoolyear was off to a late start as a result of the Tyee disruption. Many children who lived in the more remote parts of Haida Gwaii had not been to the village since the earthquake. There was an air of excitement and anticipation in the town that had not been felt for quite a while.

Ol’ Pa sat on the front porch, splicing his fishing lines. The little girl sat cross-legged on the floor in front of him and stitched whippings into the bitter-end of each rope. She’d taken to the job naturally and needed no instruction. She bent her head over her handiwork, ringlets of her soft brown hair curtaining her face as she moved the needle in and out. The deep cut on her forehead had healed, in its place was a white scar that ran parallel to her eyebrow. The faded denim overalls that she’d been given hung loosely on her slender frame. Marta appeared from the kitchen holding two cups of salal tea, she paused on the other side of the screen door and smiled at the sight of them both diligently working. “You two might want to stop for some lunch now,” she said, opening the squeaky door with her foot. “There’s a plate on the table for anybody who’s hungry.”

The little girl smiled, dropped her needle and stitching palm onto the floorboards and sprinted past Marta. The door slammed noisily behind her. Marta set the cup on the table next to Ol’ Pa, he grunted thanks while parting the strands of the braided line. Marta shielded her eyes, watching several of the neighbor’s boys wrestling in their yard across the street. One of the older boys turned on a garden hose and sprayed his brothers. Their mother’s voice screamed from inside the house, “Táan Olsen—you turn off that hose right now!”

Marta turned to Ol’ Pa and said, “This little girl of ours needs some friends her own age.” Ol’ Pa snorted and shook his head, mumbling under his breath at the twisted pile of rope on his lap. “How will we ever get her to speak someday, if her only companion is an old cuss whose vocabulary consists of assorted harrumphs and grunts?” Marta put a hand on her hip, shifting her weight onto the same leg. “Look here, school’s going to begin soon—I believe she should be enrolled… That is, I mean, if they’ll accept her—being mute and all.”

Ol’ Pa continued with his splices. “I should think any teacher would appreciate a kid who can keep their mouth shut. “

“Chiinga, be serious.”

“I am being serious, woman. Have you walked by that damn school when it’s in session?” He paused for a moment and took a drink. “Ahhh, that tastes good.” Returning to his handiwork, he grumbled, “What is formal schooling worth nowadays? Our children should be taught the old ways—especially now. That’s how we’ve always survived, that is how we will continue to endure. Ýaat’áa k’adangéehl— ‘Haida educated’, daughter.”

“Yes Ol’ Pa, that’s true. But if we’re to exist in this world, we must continue to know the other ways too. And need I remind you—this child is not Haida.” Marta continued to watch the rowdy boys playing as she spoke. Inhaling deeply, she stated, “Nope, I’m going to register her for school this week. I’m just not sure how old she is… I’d guess about nine or ten, but who knows? And we don’t even know what to call her…  What name should I put on the enrollment form?”

“Put down ‘Dot’. Her name is Dot.”

Marta snickered. “You’ve been calling her after the name of that old boat lately—what’s the story, Chiinga?”

“Well, it’s better than calling her nothing, and nothing is exactly what she says. I can think of a lot worse names than Dottie Rose for a little girl.”

“Alright, alright, old man, I’m not going to argue with you. We’ll play it your way. ‘Dot’ it shall be—for now. I suppose if she doesn’t like it, maybe she’ll say something about it.” Marta turned to open the screen door, she paused as if to add something, but just shrugged, smiled and said, “I think I’ll take Dot with me to pick some blackberries, can you survive by yourself for the afternoon?”

“Get on with you, woman.” Ol’ Pa waved his splicing fid in her direction as she closed the screen door.

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