Octave 5

Linda Kruschke’s Paint chip prompt today brings the October octaves to an end. Do visit her blog for news about the challenge.

The paint chip words and phrases you have to work with today are iris, Grand Canyon, mist, midnight, and half-and-half. I would like you to use at least two of these in today’s octave. Ideally, you’ll be building on the four octave stanzas you’ve already written. But if you haven’t started yet, feel free to write a stand-alone octave today.

Linda Kruschke

Octave 5

Even if the rift was as wide as the Grand
Canyon, love and forgiveness should
Remedy what has caused the strife, and
Without reconciliation no good would
Be done by offering a gift of flowers,
Though irises of white, yellow and midnight blue
Might remind us of the Creator’s powers;
His great love includes both me and you.

To save you, my valued readers from searching for the previous verses, which were posted earlier this month (Octave 1, Octave 2, Octave 3 and Octave 4) my poem is in this post in its entirety. I noticed that I had become lazy about the rhymes as the month went on, so I have tweaked the fourth octave!

Ups and downs of life

Sometimes life feels like Sisyphus’ boulder.
No-one rolls out the red carpet for us;
Sometimes they give us the cold shoulder
And don’t even drink coffee with us.
We needn’t keep feeling hard done by.
Although some tasks are repetitive,
Thinking of others and how we can try
To help is better than being competitive.

Like damaged nature we can recover
From setbacks and disappointments
Like being separated from a lover.
Some hurts aren’t soothed by ointments.
After the fire cliff-top gorse was black.
I noticed that bracken, bramble and grass
Were the first plants to grow back.
I look for changes each time I pass.

When there are disagreements in life
Between friends or family members
An olive branch should end the strife
And revive the warmth of love’s embers.
If the rift seems impossible to mend
Don’t give up hope! A ghost of a chance
Is better than nothing. Prayers we send
Heavenward won’t be looked upon askance.

Reconciliation may need a radical change
Of attitude from all those involved.
There may be faults on both sides. Strange
Misunderstandings need to be resolved.
We are building on a sure foundation
Even when it seems all we have left
Is like smoke and ash’s desolation.
Surely we won’t be completely bereft.

Even if the rift was as wide as the Grand
Canyon, love and forgiveness should
Remedy what has caused the strife, and
Without reconciliation no good would
Be done by offering a gift of flowers,
Though irises of white, yellow and midnight blue
Might remind us of the Creator’s powers;
His great love includes both me and you.

Greyish sea with white-topped waves at top, straw-coloured grass with blackened branches of gorse and new green shots of gorse, some green grass and brambles.
Clifftop recovering from fire

Paint chip terza rima

Linda Kruschke’s Paint chip poetry challenge this week is for a terza rima, which has the rhyming pattern ‘aba bcb cdc ded efe fgf, etc. The poem (or individual section, called a canto by Dante) usually ends with a single line or a couplet, rhyming with the previous tercet’s middle line. But it may also end with a tercet, it’s middle line rhyming with the opening tercet’s first and third lines, making the form circular.’ (Poetry dictionary)

Linda writes:

‘Your challenge for this prompt is to write a terza rima of at least three stanzas. In keeping with the theme of three, I would like you to use at least three of these paint chip words and phrases: blank canvas, lavender, whirlpool, seedling, happily ever after, golden, and cliff’s edge.
I would also like you to use one of them as the title of your poem without actually using it in the poem itself.
Since the terza rima form doesn’t specify line length, you could write in short, terse lines, or long ambling ones.’

Happily ever after?

Over the red sandstone cliff’s edge
Seabirds congregate in pairs
Raising their chicks on every ledge

No space for twigs, eggs of theirs
Sit on the guano-stained rock
Looks from parent birds are glares.

In the sea spawning fish stock
The larder for days ahead;
Famine could decimate the flock.

The rising sun does not shed
Its light on these birds’ young chicks –
But golden light going to bed.

As these birds’ future lives mix
Chances – death or survival,
So we should be helping to fix

Seedling hopes of revival,
Offering heartfelt prayers
For every new arrival

That eternal life will be theirs.


Beyond the Hills: Book review and author interview

Review copy

Contents of this post



My review

Interview with Maressa Mortimer

Bio of Maressa Mortimer

Blog tour schedule


This post is part of the blog tour for Beyond the Hills, which is being launched on 18 June 2021. In my review of Maressa Mortimer’s first book in The Elabi Chronicles, Walled City, I mentioned that I cared enough about the characters to want to read the next book. The opportunity to join the bog tour arose and I read the .pdf file of the book on my phone before a review copy arrived in the post! Beyond the Hills may be ordered from the author’s website or bookshops worldwide and will also be available as a Kindle edition.

The blurb

Macia Durus, daughter of the well known Brutus Durus AMP, works hard to achieve a life of honour and prestige in her beloved Elabi. When a so-called “friend” challenges her priorities, Macia’s confusion threatens her carefully constructed plans. And her decision to investigate a forbidden book could have serious consequences for Macia as well as her family, turning their lives upside down.

My review

The scene has changed from the end of Walled City and the main character of that book is a mostly invisible influence on this second instalment. Macia was a minor character in Walled City.

Much of the story is told through her thoughts and actions. The growing influence of the forbidden book and the consequences introduce excitement and suspense. The differences between life in Elabi (the Walled City) and beyond the hills are demonstrated well through the actions and words of characters.

There is hardly any recapping of the events from the first book. The social hierarchy and strange manners may be inferred from the narrative. However for maximum enjoyment and understanding, I recommend reading the books in order of publication.

Although I am not a film buff, I wondered whether this series would make a good film. It is exciting enough, although Macia’s thought-life might be difficult to include in a film.

What the forbidden book is may be gleaned from the text. It would also be possible for readers to access the parts referred to in the story.

Interview with Maressa Mortimer

I asked Maressa some questions about writing the series.

In Walled City Gax experiences culture shock. To what extent did you find British culture different from that in your native country, the Netherlands?

As time went on, I realised there were more and more differences, some subtle, some more obvious. My main struggle has always been missing the Dutch straight forwardness, as well as the speed at which things are done (like lovely smooth roads), although this comes with a lot of pressure as well. Because Dutch society is so efficient, everyone needs to be fast and efficient, so even working on the tills of a supermarket means you have to be very quick. Some people with learning difficulties can really struggle under the pressure.

Although you have created an imaginary world as the setting for The Elabi Chronicles some of the places there have similarities to our own world either at present or in the past. Were you influenced by other books you have read and did you have to do a lot of research?

I was completely new to world building, and simply designed a world that I would like to set a book in. For visuals, I used a world from Sims3, and I decided to make the food Roman (hence the garum and fish oils mentioned in the book, as well as other foods). I decided to have it set in the southern hemisphere, and thankfully, my editor is from Australia, so she corrected my timings!

Physical fitness is a requirement of citizens of Elabi. I wondered which sports you participated in as a youngster. Did you enjoy sport?

P.E. lessons in the Netherlands are mainly gymnastics and team sports. I did do a year of Taekwondo when in college. I used to cycle a lot, and went to Arnhem with friends, which was a 50 kilometre round trip.

When do you expect to publish the next volume in the series? Is it going to be a trilogy?

It will at least be a trilogy, with a book about Downstream. I have started plotting it already, but will probably make it my NaNoWriMo project!

(National Novel Writing Month is November.)


Maressa Mortimer is Dutch but lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, England with her husband and four (adopted) children. Her debut novel, Sapphire Beach, was published December 2019, and her first self published novel, Walled City, came out on December 5th 2020, followed by Viking Ferry, a novella. Beyond the Hills is the second book in The Elabi Chronicles, and will be released on June 18th 2021.

Maressa is a homeschool mum as well as a pastor’s wife, so her writing has to be done in the evening when peace and quiet descend on the house once more. She loves writing Christian fiction, as it’s a great way to explore faith in daily life.

June Blog/Book Tour Beyond the Hills Schedule

7th  Sophia Anyanwu

8th Lydia Jenkins

9th Patricia Leslie / @Patricialeslee (instagram)             

10th This post!

11th Katy Simpson Thrive With Live Video (Instagram)              

12th Tendayi  Olga              

Week 2

14th Victoria Kay (Instagram)

15th Claire Musters

16th Liz Carter and on the More Than Writers‘ blog         

17th Joy Margetts

18th Book Launch Facebook Live @Vicarioush.ome