Excerpts from the book: Lines by Leon Poems, Prose, and Pictures is available for FREE until June 2nd. Enjoy!
Leon Stevens is a writer, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and an artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education He published his first book of poetry: Lines by Leon – Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020 and he has also published a music book of original classical guitar compositions.
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CHAPTER 1: The Ridge
The hand-written note on the dashboard read: Not abandoned. This was a nice courtesy to others, but unnecessary since the car was parked in the parking lot at the head of a popular hiking trail, called "The Ridge". My curiosity piqued, I studied the vehicle, looking for what I don't know. It was a little dusty, probably from the dirt road, not the kind of dust that accumulates after several rains and drying winds, which we had recently. Two, three days ago? I wasn't sure but it had to be at least two. I reluctantly put off my hike to avoid any rain. I usually don't mind hiking in inclement weather, it keeps the other hikers away, but "The Ridge" is notorious for looking like a muddy river on days like that.
There was no camping along the trail. A fairly difficult out and back, once you get past the first section, which, if the trail sign was to be taken as gospel, was a half-day hike, about six hours. I've done it in three. I've come close to that a few times, but that day was my crowning glory. Now, in my 60's, I usually finish it in four. Not to bag. Not to bag…(I have no idea where I picked up that saying).
Since I wasn't here as an investigator, I checked my backpack: water, jerky, M&M's, half a baked potato, and my first aid kit. And my knife. I saw only one other car, the couple had started just as I had pulled in, so that gave them a twenty-minute head start. Not that it was a race or anything, I just liked to know these things. I'm sure to catch up to them. OK, it's kinda a race.
After kneeling to tighten my laces, I did a few stretches (getting older sucks) and started up the path. The first section was wider and hard-packed. Most people go to the first lookout, take a few pictures, and head back. It is a stunning view. The trees stretched upward, providing a decent amount of shade, while letting in magnificent shafts of light, which gave the forest a surreal quality.
It only took half an hour to get there. I was expecting that I might see the couple making out on the bench, and I was pleased that I was wrong. Leaning on the rail, I took a drink of water and started to chew on the jerky. No matter how many times I come up here, I'm always blown away by the view, the valley, the mountains rising along the river, and the sea of green forest as far as the eye can see.
After the lookout, the trail begins to rise steadily. A bit narrower, a few more rocks and roots to put you off balance, but I've grown to know where each and every one of them are. There is one rock, right in the middle of the path, that is so smooth and black from all the shoes stepping on it, that it is almost as reflective as a mirror. At about 11:00 am, depending on the time of year, it seems to glow. I have been on this trail a lot.
As the left side of the trail begins to drop away, the right side gets steeper. Most hikers hug the right side (going up). I kind of like the feeling of being on the edge. It surprised me to learn that no one had ever died on this trail. Lots of injuries, though. I have a scar to prove it.
The hikers in front of me must be moving at a good pace. I thought that I would have been able to hear voices, the sound carries well in this valley. I pick up my speed a bit, despite the heat, and the fact that I'm breathing a bit harder than normal. Another sip of water and a few bites of potato gives me a bit more energy.
I'm lost in my thoughts. Looking at my watch, I see that I've been hiking for an hour and a half, so that means I'm pretty close to the end, maybe even closer. I feel that I'm exceeding my normal pace. A little competition will do that. I stop and listen. I'm not sure, but maybe there are voices…
After another twenty minutes, I definitely hear voices, and they're getting closer. Rounding the corner, I see a woman and a man coming toward me. Knowing the narrowness of the path and the steep bank I call out, "What side do you want to pass on?"
"We'll take the inside, " the woman replies, "Chickenshit here gets a little dizzy!"
He slaps her on the shoulder and says, "I tripped on that root and nearly fell over! Excuse me for being cautious."
"Been there, done that and I have the scar to prove it!" I laugh and they join in. "Have a good one," I say as they pass me.
"You too," he says back. In a few minutes I'm alone again. I completely forgot to ask them about the car, I think to myself. I forgot about it too. They probably would have mentioned it, wouldn't they have, if they had seen something?
Finally, I arrived at the trail end. There was a stone and concrete wall with a metal railing that would have been quite the task to build. There were still remnants of the old wooden posts sticking up through the ground which had to be replaced after the avalanche, twenty-five years ago. I sat for a moment, had a drink, and looked around. From here, a person had three choices: go back, go down (straight down), or up (straight up). I got up and walked to the metal railing.
I turned and looked up at the sheer rock face. A free climber could scale it, but I have never seen any attempts. With my hand brushing along the rail, I followed it to where it met up with the mountain. My hand was quite dusty, so I brushed my hands together and then wiped them on my shorts. Not wanting to leave the rest unwiped, I began to run my hand along the top, then stopped. I had to look closely, but there was a boot print in the dust on top of the rail. A jumper? Peering down, I had a feeling of vertigo, which surprised me, since I've been here before. If someone had jumped or fallen, there was no way of survival or discovery. I looked over the edge, there was a bit of a ridge about two feet below the wall.
I backed up a bit to see if I could tell how far it went along the rock face. It seemed to curve around a vertical shaft of rock. There was a narrow crack above, paralleling the ridge. A brave soul could inch along, with fingers twisted into the gap, but to where?
I looked at my watch: 3:43. Plenty of time to get back before dusk. My curiosity fought with my sensibility. I've done some climbing before, but always supported. I looked around and spotted a long branch laying by the path. Grabbing it, I returned to the wall. I poked down to the ridge to see how stable it was. It was about an inch wide to start, then narrowed as it approached the corner. I used the branch to flick some of the loose material away and watched it the tiny rocks fall to the valley below.
Except for one.
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Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Picturesby Leon StevensPublish: Jan 07, 2020Humor Poetry
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Excerpts from the book: Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Picturesby Leon StevensPublish: Nov 01, 2019Humor Poetry
The Knot at the End of the Ropeby Leon StevensScience Fiction
New Music for Classical Guitarby Leon StevensPublish: Nov 01, 2019Advice & How To
I don’t recall being a voracious reader as a child, but I do remember that my father would always read to me or make up stories. My earliest memories of being fascinated by a book was when my teacher (I forget which grade) read “A Wrinkle in Time” to the class.Why did you choose to write poetry? Do you wish to explore other genres?
Poetry seemed natural to me as I also wrote song lyrics. I am currently working on some science fiction short stories and some post-apocalyptic tales and poems.What are your hobbies apart from writing?
When I’m not writing (which is often… darn writer’s block), I fill my time being active, reading, playing classical guitar, doing crosswords, and thinking that I should be writing again.What inspired you to start writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I never thought that I would be a writer. I started to write poems, song lyrics, and guitar music as a therapeutic way to make sense of a rough time in my life. I’ve always been one to try to entertain others through my odd sense of humor, and a lot of my poems have a humorous touch to them. This was also a good avenue to pursue. I thought that others might be able to relate to what I had written as well as being entertained.Your thoughts on conventional vs. self-publishing? What route did you choose and why?
I could have spent a lot of time shopping my manuscript around. With self-publishing being as accessible as it is, it seemed like the quickest way for me to achieve my goal of being an author and to share my creations with people.What was the highlight of writing the book, "Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures"?
Finally being published. Having a copy in my hands is a great feeling.What are a few things to keep in mind while writing poetry?
When I write, I just write from the heart and mind. I’m not thinking too much about form or style, it’s about what flows the best and can do justice to the subject. Some of my rhyme schemes are erratic, but a rhyme put into the correct place can make an impact. I also try not to make things too complicated. As one reviewer put it, “The ideas are straightforward with an understandable simplicity”. What turns people away from poetry, I believe, is that they think they will have to work to understand it. In some cases, this is true, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes a rose is just a rose…Tell us about your book, New Music for Classical Guitar?
I began to compose guitar music during my college/university studies. I had them written down and I had forgotten them for a while. When I finally picked up my guitar again after many years of neglect, I relearned them and began to write more. I decided that they should be shared, otherwise they would disappear again.When was the last time you listened to a new artist, band or guitar player?
I always have music playing, so I’m constantly finding new and exciting artists. I have wide range of interests, from Classical to Folk to Rock.What do you feel like when you play one of your songs and people applaud?
I don’t perform very much, although I am hoping to try my hand at it again. I wasn’t able to perfect a piece to performance standards which was frustrating. My fear of forgetting (and the inevitable forgetting…) turned my focus to composing.How does your book, "Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures" differ from your other book titled "Excerpts from the book: Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures"?
I decided to put some selected pieces into a book that I could make available to readers who might be interested in reading my writing. Not everybody likes poetry, and this was a way for people to try before they buy.How do your poems develop? Please guide us through the stages of a poem.
I wrote a quote that reads: I do my best writing when I am running or hurting. Often, that is the same time… Other than that, it usually starts with a line that makes an emotional impact, and I craft the poem around that.What are some common traps that new authors tend to fall into? Any advice on how to avoid these traps?
I’m still learning the ropes, and after a lot of trial and error (which I don’t think can be completely avoided), I can give some advice:
1. Writing is the easy part. Research and plan out your marketing strategy well in advance so you can hit the ground running. 2. Try to have a readership to draw on. This starts with friends and family who can help spread the word. 3. Edit 4. Promote yourself without being too aggressive. It is very competitive, but you need to be respectful. 5. Did I say edit? 6. Don’t be disappointed. You are up against a multitude of authors. That being said, reach out to other authors, most are willing to help in one way or another.When did you join AllAuthor? How has your experience been?
I joined in November of 2019 and I have over 1000 views on my author page, which is pretty cool, and I have been able to follow some authors that I have never heard of before. That’s what it’s all about right?
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