Book Jacket

 

rank 4565
word count 87535
date submitted 27.07.2010
date updated 09.08.2010
genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, ...
classification: universal
complete

Juneau's Line

Ryan K. Nolan

Juneau discovers ikebana flower-arranging--and her whole world changes. Luckily, she has all the time in the world to figure things out.

 

According to the Japanese art of flower arranging ikebana, the world and all of nature can be broken down into three elements: time, space, and mind. Juneau Sakamoto finds herself the unwitting possessor of the ability to bend--and even break--time when she takes up ikebana as a talisman against boredom and the stresses of college. She soon meets her half-sisters, Yuki and Claire, who have since come into their own powers: space- and mind-bending, respectively. The sisters set out for Kamakura, Japan, where Juneau meets her father for the first time. His sordid past has led to her morbid present--and the future doesn't look too bright either, if the trio can't nullify a beauty with all three of their powers combined. Fortunately, Juneau and her sisters have some otherworldly help in Juneau's Line, the first in the Master Arranger series.

Juneau's Line is complete. All 47 chapters are posted here on Authonomy.

 
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tags

china, flowers, japan, magic, sisters, time travel

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Juneau Sakamoto woke, her skin crawling. The darkened corners of her bedroom looked foreboding, but she knew what the shadows hid, so she wasn't afraid. The only other thing in the room with her was her cat Ferris, a patch of black on her beige bedcovers. Though he was plenty scary at times, this wasn't one of them. He stood on all fours now, stretching his limbs and raising his hackles. He, too, knew they weren't the only souls awake, but unlike Juneau, he seemed unperturbed. She was surprised he had nothing to say. The pure black Siamese mix usually had quite an extensive vocabulary, comprising a thesaurus of ways to demonstrate his raw wit. He kept quiet now.

What stirred Juneau wasn't so much a sound or the appearance of light. It was a movement in the air, as if the very particles in the world had moved in closer to her to accommodate some other being, standing outside in the night. Someone was watching her.

Her neighborhood, like her bedroom, housed no shady characters. Wedgwood was a nice area in North Seattle, whose warm cribs cradled self-made professionals: doctors, engineers, professors, and the occasional scientist. Their children policed the streets with labradoodles and golden retrievers. It was any wonder that Juneau's mother Kuni Sakamoto had managed to afford such a posh (by her friends' standards) house in a good (by her own standards) neighborhood. Despite appearances, the inhabitants of Wedgwood were, in fact, the humble sort--and would never suffer a stalker or peeping Tom. Juneau knew better than to assume it was either out there. But someone--or something--was out there.

She stifled a yawn. She had been losing more and more sleep in the past few weeks--and to silly things. Often, it was Ferris, waking her up at all hours of the night with his strangled mewling. A pillow thrown in his direction would usually silence him, but he was known to go on for hours on end. More often, it was a sneaky suspicion that someone was watching her in the dark, listening to her heartbeat. She would wake with a start and search for the source of that feeling. She would hear nothing more, nor sense anything to indicate that she wasn't totally and utterly alone. She would rub Ferris' black coat and throw herself onto her pillow. It wasn't long, though, before the honey rays of morning came pouring through the window and made her eyes sticky with sleep for the rest of the day.

Every night for two weeks, the same: the feeling, the waking, the casting about, then the confusion and fatigue the following day. Tonight was the same, and also different. For one, she knew without a doubt that Ferris didn't wake her.

There was no use for it. She was up. Juneau threw off her blanket and put on her house slippers. She didn't bother to turn on any lights, because she simply wasn't awake enough to see the merit in it. Ferris was up for a hunt and blazed out of the room and down the stairs. Juneau snickered. He was a nervous eater and liked company when he chowed down. But she didn't follow him. Instead, she stopped outside her studio.

A gibbous moon poured silver moonlight into the room, until it looked more grayscale photograph than real life. On every horizontal surface sat an arrangement of flowers. Ikebana: that was the name of the art of Japanese floral arrangement. Her goal had been to counterbalance her recent insomnia. She couldn't take many more sleepless nights before it caught up to her. Something about these arrangements made Juneau feel safer now. Maybe seeing them brought her fully back to the waking realm and put some common sense back into her. No one was watching her. No one had any reason to.

She stepped into the room, guided by silver light, and her eye fell on her latest creation. It was the very epitome of balance. The purple-gray orchids drew her eye first, which made sense: they were the accent. Leaves of aspidistra in wide, leathery green ribbons provided volume and incorporated the negative space around the piece into the whole. Stalks of bamboo shot out from the center, giving an impression of direction and movement.

Juneau was apparently a fast learner, having mastered the three primary elements of ikebana: line, volume, and accent. But she was no closer to Zen. She did enjoy the arranging though, especially since it seemed to make time crawl by, and she could sure use time before life knocked on her door and made her choose a direction in life. That was last thing she needed now. Fortunately, when she put her heart into her arranging, she swore she could feel time stop altogether.

 

*****

It had been a week ago when Juneau told her mother she was reading up on ikebana. Kuni had been in the garden, knee-deep in bamboo roots and a swatch of mud across her forehead. "That's nice," she'd said, pulling a tendril of hair out of the corner of her mouth.

Juneau hadn't bothered to mention how exhausted she was these days, and how she hoped the Zen-like flower arranging would help her get some sleep. She also failed to mention that she often felt like someone was watching her. She didn't want to worry her mother unnecessarily.

Kuni was quick to point out that it was natural for her to take it up. "You may be American, but you're also Japanese," she told her daughter. "Plus, I made sure to pass my love of green, growing things to you from the start."

"Yes, yes, mom," said Juneau, only just managing not to roll her eyes. "Where would I be without you?" All the same, she made an effort to hide her sarcasm behind a good-natured chuckle.

As a gesture of encouragement, Kuni had transformed her old office into a flower studio for Juneau to work in. It was small, cramped, and moldy. In other words, perfect.  It enjoyed the right amount of sunlight for at least three months out of the year and retained a modicum of warmth the rest of the time, when the dark and cold made the leaves outside shiver. This was only one of many reasons that Juneau felt lucky to have Kuni for a mom. Most of the parents that lived in this upper middle-class neighborhood would have packed her bags for her by now, and then called her a cab. Of course, if Juneau had her way and the money to do it, she would be living on her own.

Kuni Sakamoto, on the other hand, was old-fashioned, or perhaps just Japanese-fashioned. She wouldn't ask Juneau to leave for anything. She had supposedly been married once, though details of said marriage were largely cloaked in mystery. If Juneau's father was out there somewhere, she'd never know. Circumstances being what they were, Kuni seemed quite happy with their arrangement. However, she would be reminded of her great loneliness, were Juneau to suddenly say sayonara.

 

*****

Juneau sat at her desk near the window and studied the night-dark garden outside that grew magically under her mother's green thumb. The hydrangeas were still crowned with periwinkle wisps and flowers that looked like five-winged butterfly ghosts nursing on nectar. The birdbath's waters, which attracted more squirrels than birds, winked winsomely. Tonight, Juneau saw a raccoon the size of a small bear drinking from it.

"So you're the culprit," she said, eying the grizzly creature. It seemed to sense her presence, too: it looked up. Juneau wondered if it could see her. She hoped he wouldn't trample Kuni's dahlia and rose beds after he'd had enough to drink. For some reason, seeing the big raccoon warded off the last of her dreams. She considered going downstairs for a snack. Before she had made up her mind, Ferris joined her in the moonlit room and took his perch on her lap.

"You felt it, too, don't you, Ferris?" she asked him. He meowed conspiratorially, but Juneau wasn't interested in his opinion if it conflicted with hers. Rather than duke it out, he jumped onto the windowsill and took to nibbling one of her arrangements. "Hey, quit it," she nagged, but he continued unhindered. She didn't blame him. If she were him, she'd just keep on gnawing, too. No: if she were him, she'd jump four feet vertically in the air, or spend hours licking her privates, or sleep sixteen hours a day, or do any of the hundreds of things cats took for granted. Smiling, she said, "Alright, you can nibble. Just don't knock any of it down, or else you're cleaning it up." Ferris had a rather loud opinion, but she wouldn't hear it. "Fine, then. Back to bed."

She ruffled the cat's fur, not really bothered. Ikebana may be pretty, but it was all ephemeral. In a week, all of these arrangements would be dead.

She left the studio and closed the door behind her, but not before Ferris went running toward the bedroom. When she found him, he was already tenderizing a spot on the bed, then soon curled into a ball. Juneau climbed in and drew the covers over her shoulders, shivering, despite the balmy summer night. With a yawn, she slid down the slope toward dreams, where she could have sworn she heard footsteps retreating through her mother's garden.

 

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Laura Bailey wrote 1059 days ago

This is very well written. No problem backing it.

Laura Bailey
Beneath The Blossom Tree

Eunice Attwood wrote 1286 days ago

This is certainly something different and refreshing. A very feminine feel to your writing, which is lovely. A great storyline which plays out well. Happy to back. Eunice - The Temple Dancer.

Ryan K. Nolan wrote 1347 days ago

All right, the whole book is up for anyone who wants to see how it ends.

Ryan K. Nolan wrote 1347 days ago

I apologize again for not commenting sooner. The truth is that I am very busy. I'll be traveling back to China in a week, have a full time job technical editing (which means that staring at a computer screen after working for eight hours is the last thing on my mind), and I am currently working on another book completely unrelated to Juneau's Line. Needless to say, for all the writers out there, you know how it is when you've fallen in love with a new project: the older projects receive less attention. That said, I hope no one will take my lack of a backing or commenting on your books. Everyone understands that there are simply too many books to read--and even more to write!

I understand that this won't help my standing at all, but I'll keep at it.

Thanks again, everyone!
Ryan

tlst wrote 1353 days ago

What an interesting storyline - your pitch is intriguing and the writing style doesn't disappoint. Backed. Tania, This Last Summer

Pia wrote 1353 days ago

Ryan -

Juneau's Line - I enjoy this very much, love the gentle rhythm of the writing, and the theme openes a whole new world to me. Thank you.

Backed recently, Pia (Course of Mirrors)

Katherine Edwards wrote 1353 days ago

Lovely writing with a gentle rhythm which I enjoyed greatly. Well done on this and good luck. Katherine.

Kidd1 wrote 1355 days ago

Beautiful written narrative in a voice that has a calming effect on the reader. Backed

I hope you will give mine a read and back it if you like it.
Best,
Robert
Golden Conspiracy

Beval wrote 1355 days ago

There's a calm quality to the writing that seems to reflect the calm beauty of Japanese flower arranging. There is also the same discipline and attention to detail.
I found the opening chapter excellent, there was a haunting element within the writing that complimented the sensations Juneau was feeling.
On a more mundane level, I loved the cat as well, arrogant, self centred and totally catlike.
The narrative is beautifully written and draws the reader along at this calm regular pace that is a pleasure to read, the story unfolds before you, never demanding attention, but gently compelling it.

klouholmes wrote 1355 days ago

Hi Ryan, I can imagine that Kuni hides her anxiety well since her mother isn’t aware of it. You’ve captured a personality here that is discreetly seeking and with very lovely prose. This is very interesting, the reference to Zen and then the time bending in the synopsis. Kuni’s POV is done well while this subject is pleasant to read about and it stimulates with concept. Happy to shelve – Katherine (The Swan Bonnet)

C W Bigelow wrote 1355 days ago

Ryan, an entertaining, well written story that is humorous, with a style that is captures the reader. Nice job. Backed. CW (To Save the Sun)

Barry Wenlock wrote 1356 days ago

This is original, intriguing and extremely entertaining. Backed with absolute pleasure,
Barry
LITTLE KRISNA AND THE BIHAR BOYS

homewriter wrote 1356 days ago

Beautiful descriptive writing. Well researched. Superb story telling. Don't be influenced by the 'show don't tell brigade' that inhabit this site! Backed, Gordon - The Harpist of Madrid

Ferdi wrote 1356 days ago

Backed

Ferdi
A Bed of Thorns

missyfleming_22 wrote 1357 days ago

Really interesting and vivid. I love that you take something like the flower arranging and weave it into the story, it's fascinating. I like that this book doesn't really feel like sci-fi to me, the time travel parts just felt like a natural part of the story. That's impressive to me! You've done something original with this and I love that. The writing and the characters are strong and really kept me reading.

best of luck with this
Missy

KW wrote 1357 days ago

Ikebana and time travel. Why not, if you set out for Kamakura. "If Juneau's father was out there somewhere, she'd never know." I have a feeling she will find out soon. Then she is suddenly able to read Japanese. Until this moment, or a little later, ikebana "had been less than a hobby." Now, she begins to realize it "is a way of life." At least, for Shokado in Kamakura and the Ieyasu dynasty. Of course, her father's name has to be Hideyoshi. I have a feeling that there is a Nobunaga lurking around somewhere.

This is quite entertaining and intriguing. I'll be back to read more of this time-traveling ikebana fantasy. Backed for now.

yasmin esack wrote 1358 days ago

Lovely!

Ryan K. Nolan wrote 1358 days ago

WOW! To everyone who's commented, thank you very much. Juneau's Line is very much a labor of love, which is to say that I love flowers, language, most things Japanese, and above all writing! I am very, very new to Authonomy, so I don't even know how to back a book, but I'm encouraged that as many readers have backed me in as many hours as I've been on Authonomy! It is very, very humbling. I hope to have to time to return the favor to you all. As an aside, the picture on the cover I took myself of a piece of ikebana I did myself. Actually, I fell in love with ikebana, which I took up literally the day I started writing the book...

PS. I have already begun writing the sequel. Also, I would like incite on a possible deal-breaker for future readers: the series goes backward! So, Juneau's Line is actually chronologically third of three. Any thoughts?

Burgio wrote 1359 days ago

JUNEAU’S LINE
What an imaginative story. I’ll think of it every time I pass my local flower shop which always feature at least one Japanese inspired bouquet in their window. I like the whole idea of being able to bend time; it’s good plotting. Juneau is a good main character; she’s likable and interesting to follow as she explores all the strange things happening to her. I’m adding this to my shelf. If you have a moment, would you look at mine (Grain of Salt)? I’m in 8th place but only holding on by my teeth. Burgio

name falied moderation wrote 1359 days ago

Dear Ryan
this is a beautiful book cover, so well done. Your long pitch was the thing that drew me to your book, and I thought I had already backed it but obviously not....I will coment later when I have read more but till then i wish to support your climb to the top
Backed for sure my me
THE VERY BEST OF LUCK
BACKED BY ME FOR SURE
If you would take a look at my book, comment ( hopefully positive ) and back it that would be soooo great. if not that is OK also
VERY best of luck
Denise
The Letter

andrew skaife wrote 1360 days ago

This is a wonderfully written piece of work with a quiet pace that runs smooothly over the read. You have, in tune with your pace, an exciting structure and rhythm that moves the narrative forward well.

You know your stuff and the Japanese scenery, environment and background is beautifully imprinted upon us.

Your use of language is admirable: just two examples:

"Her neighbourhood (I still still over American spellings), like her bedroom, housed no shadey characters."

"Kuni Sakamoto. on the other hand, was old-fashioned or perhaps just Japanese fashioned."

These two lines work on so many levels that it is dizzying.

Excellent and certainly BACKED.

livid wrote 1360 days ago

Hi, I am sorry that this comment does not help you in any way just yet, other than to let you know that I think your work is worth backing, but I am getting used to the site slowly. Also, work commitments and writing are being squeezed to try to keep up. After the first days I thought that the reading returns and support would slow but as yet they have not even begun to. So, in order to be fair I am backing everyone who I think deserves it, thanking everyone who has backed me and keeping an increasingly long list to get back to and give my hand written comments over. I hope this is ok with you? Cheers.

livid wrote 1360 days ago

Hi, I am sorry that this comment does not help you in any way just yet, other than to let you know that I think your work is worth backing, but I am getting used to the site slowly. Also, work commitments and writing are being squeezed to try to keep up. After the first days I thought that the reading returns and support would slow but as yet they have not even begun to. So, in order to be fair I am backing everyone who I think deserves it, thanking everyone who has backed me and keeping an increasingly long list to get back to and give my hand written comments over. I hope this is ok with you? Cheers.

livid wrote 1360 days ago

Hi, I am sorry that this comment does not help you in any way just yet, other than to let you know that I think your work is worth backing, but I am getting used to the site slowly. Also, work commitments and writing are being squeezed to try to keep up. After the first days I thought that the reading returns and support would slow but as yet they have not even begun to. So, in order to be fair I am backing everyone who I think deserves it, thanking everyone who has backed me and keeping an increasingly long list to get back to and give my hand written comments over. I hope this is ok with you? Cheers.

CarolinaAl wrote 1360 days ago

You provide us with an outstanding story with an intelligent plot and fascinating characters. Polished writing. Backed.

celticwriter wrote 1360 days ago

Continuing to be entertained by your journey. Nice continuity of story, structure. Happily backed.

jim
jack & charmian london

lizjrnm wrote 1360 days ago

This is excellent writing! Easy to back for an intriguing unique story.

Liz
The Cheech Room

soutexmex wrote 1360 days ago

Ryan: I read Chapter 5 and this is very competent writing. Nothing to gig you on. Even the pitches both worked for me. Think you're gonna have to pound the pavement to get people to read this effort. All godd writing does on this website. BACKED!

I can use your comments on my book when you get the chance. Cheers!

JC
The Obergemau Key

Rusty Bernard wrote 1360 days ago

Hi Ryan,

your 'future' is 'bright' if you continue with this. Well done and good luck.

I have backed your book because I was hooked by the pitch, loved the introduction and read on. How much more I read depends on time and commitment.

Enjoy everything and good luck.

Rusty Bernard
The Mental Pause


lynn clayton wrote 1360 days ago

You describe excellently, particularly Juneau's sense of being watched in the night - not overwritten, not over-stressed, and all the more believable for that. For me, though, there was one false note - I didn't believe it when she stifled a yawn. I think in those circumstances something physical takes place that precludes yawning. We're very much on the alert.
Excellent, though. Backed. Lynn

SammySutton wrote 1360 days ago

Ryan,

Fabulous, in so many ways. Your words touch the senses in a rare way. The reader is bombarded with wonderful gifts practical, cultural, and artistic. This all is done in support of the story rather than in a distracting manner.
Absolutely wonderful. I am so impressed. Linguistics..Wow!
Good Luck!
I backed!
Sammy Sutton
King Solomon's '13'

PATRICK BARRETT wrote 1360 days ago

Beautiful and evocative with a thoroughly original thread running through it. I was suprised by the use of the term "Chowed down" when the cat was eating, this is a very masculine phrase to be used in a tale of a sensitive female and her life. Paula Barrett (Cuthbert-how mean is my valley)

K A Smith wrote 1360 days ago

I like the idea, I like the cross-cultural milieu. I like the cat. Juneau's Line is a bit of a slow-grower, for me, but I will persist, as there are qualities of the book which appeal to me. What almost stopped me from reading past the first paragraph was the first paragraph, which seems to be striving awkwardly for some over-literary impact - to the point where it didn't make much sense. The promise I saw in the pitch kept me reading, however, and I will finish it. The book gets better when it doesn't try so hard.

Jim Darcy wrote 1360 days ago

Evocative and quite haunting in places, lyrical prose that quickly cpatures the reader's interest and involvement.
Jim Darcy
The Firelord's Crown

Jason Morte wrote 1360 days ago

What a wonderfully original idea! This is something new for the fantasy genre and it's about time! Are you sure there are no elves in this book? What about ogres? Anyway, joking aside, this is well written and deserves some attention. We get to do some traveling to Japan, too, which is something different. Ikebana...wow, who would've thought ikebana could be novel fodder? Nice job. And space- and time-bending are drawn from Japanese lore, if I'm not mistaken. Very interesting stuff indeed.

Despinas1 wrote 1360 days ago

Great pitch promising an amazing sci fi with a twist of mammoth proportion. Backed on the strength of its pitch and originality. Wishing you much success.
Best of luck, backed with pleasure
Helen
The Last Dream

Katy Christie wrote 1360 days ago

So often it is the words that transport me more than the story but, in this case, I believe it's both. You have a lovely way with words and I wish I could stay with you longer but, alas, I can't (see profile). This story has the beginnings of the uncanny, the mysterious and all the trappings that draw the reader into the book. Well done and good luck.
Hate to canvas but I've got my first red arrow (ouch!), so if you could have a look at my novel with a view to backing it, I'd be most grateful.
Katy Christie
No Man No Cry

SusieGulick wrote 1360 days ago

Dear Ryan, I love that you are making this a series. :) It's wonderful & I love your heroine - she is so sensitive - wish I had powers. :) Your pitch is excellent, so set the hook for me to read your book. :) When you use short paragraphs & lots of dialogue, it makes me want to keep reading to find out what's going to happen next. I'm backing your book. :) Could you please take a moment to back my TWO memoir books? Thanks. :) Love, Susie :)

This is information from authonomy (so beware of any other untrue information you may receive that is spam & not quotes of authonomy):
"When you back a book, it only improves the ranking of that book, not yours. However, the author whose book you are backing may decide to back your book also, in which case yes, your ranking would be improved"
"Every time you place a book on your bookshelf, your recommendation pushes the book up the rankings. And while that book sits on your bookshelf, your reputation as a talent spotter increases depending on how well that book performs."
backed :)
Love, Susie :)

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