Happy Beltane!

Are you celebrating today? Dancing the Maypole? Leaping the fires? Just listening to some JoCo?

I’d love to hear about it.

Here are a few lovely words from T. Thorn Coyle:

Today, I stand for beauty.
I stand for apple blossom and finch.
I stand for sun, and wind, and sky.
I stand for the shaking of the fig tree,
And the growing of the lettuce and the pea.

Today, I stand for beauty.
I stand for music to lighten the soul.
I stand for healing balms to comfort wounds.
I stand for kind words in the tempest,
And a scrap of bright cloth in the mud of war.

Today, I stand for beauty.
Heart open to the world.
Today, I conjure hope. And strength.
With the courage and the love to carry on.
Leap the fire with me,
In Beauty’s name.

Blessings be upon you. Blessings, all.

Breathing the Air, Clearing My Head

I’m spending the week at The Rainforest Village Resort in the Olympic National Forest. It may just be the most beautiful place on earth, and it’s a fantastic location for a writing retreat.

The Village is remote and quiet, and surrounded by glorious natural beauty. At any moment, I can turn from my work and look out over lovely Lake Quinault, ringed by spruce-covered hills and wreathed in swirling mist. When writer’s block strikes, I can step outside and enter a trail just feet away that takes me under mossy trees dripping with rain. Sigh. Dirt-loving pagan paradise.

Another particularly enjoyable aspect of the retreat is the company of other writers, several of whom I’ve only met previously on Twitter. I feel like I know them well, and meeting them in person for the first time was like greeting old friends. Opportunities to meet new friends, too. These are my people.

Where is your happy place as a writer?

 

 

An Acceptance!

I’m am thrilled and amazed to report that a submission of mine has been accepted for publication.

In a fun publication, too. Recently, excellent super-duo Ann and Jeff Vandermeer announced a call for micro-submissions to be included in their latest, The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiousities, which will feature such cool people as the marvelous and friendly-in-person Ted Chiang, China Mieville, Holly Black, Garth Nix and Minister Faust, to name a few.

You can read my submission on the blog comments here.

Congrats to all, and a big thank you to the Vandermeers for their consideration.

The Single Best Thing

One of my Clarion West buds just sent me a critique of my latest effort at a short story. A really solid crit. And that may be the Single Best Thing to come out of the CW experience.

Not only do I have great friends who keep in touch and tweet pictures of their lunches to me, who chat with me about theology and life and finding fulfillment, but we are also lending generous hands to each other in our continuing work.

Even better, we’ll get a chance to further that effort when we meet up again at events like World Fantasy Con.

Thanks, peeps! You made my day.

The Clarion West Narrative: Eight Crazy Things Clarion West Made Me Do


This ongoing narrative thread about Clarion West is less coherent than I’d like, but I’m starting to think that’s symptomatic of the experience. My brain is so full of memories, sights, sounds, faces, places and ideas that the story is coming out in a jumble. A rough draft that I’ll clean up as I go, at least in my head, as I rewrite my life story.

One way I want to address some of the story is to drag it out of my past and into the present moment.

The welcome packet I was given warned us that we’d return home changed people, and in my case, the advice was dead-on. From very basic things (I started chewing gum to stay awake and developed a habit) to major shifts in self-concept that I can’t yet articulate, the workshop was transformative.

I developed an almost paranoid relationship with my laptop and still feel uneasy if it’s not where I can see it. I’m addicted to Twitter. I drink too much coffee. I’m aggressively protective of my privacy and free time. I can’t sleep (yet) on an Eastern time schedule. I returned to veganism with a passion. But, HEY! Results may vary.

I also learned to think and work like a professional writer, which is a good thing, one hopes.

This last part may seem a little juvenile, but when I came back, I also had a burning desire to be a bit funkier, to make my outer appearance match my changing inner self-concept. After some careful thought, I made a big change.

So, here’s my new do, some of which is blue. I feel fabulous and more comfortable in my own skin. I can’t sufficiently explain why this was important to me.

At my age, you’d think I’d be past little things like appearance. But I’m becoming a person I’ve wanted to be for quite some time, and it feels totally right.

And then there was Pie (and sand)


I promised a photo! Thankfully, I took one because, as they say, a picture will last longer. It was GOOD pie. I confess that I ate almost half of the pie all by myself. So much for the low-carb diet.

The delay in posting of the promised pie photo is the result of my family’s long-awaited trip to Anna Maria Island, which was incredibly beautiful. The sky was this gorgeous azure, and the water was perfectly clear and aquamarine. There was a moment when the beauty of the water was overwhelming and unreal to my eyes, a solid thing, like a delicately colored piece of plexiglass. Absurd, right?

Unexpectedly, I shed tears when I first touched the water. The oil spill is on the mind of every person along the coast, even though they pretend, like our innkeeper did, that everything is wonderful as usual. I said some prayers, and we had a lovely time for the most part. Mr. B ran himself ragged and fell into bed at 9 PM every single night we were there. I wish I could figure out how to exhaust him that way at home.

The sea turtles were nesting at night, which was something I would have dearly loved to witness, but I was too tired. We did go out each night in the early evening and walk in the twilight. Every night, when the sun touched the horizon, an interesting thing happened. Every person on the beach stopped (except Mr. B, who never stops moving unless he is unconscious) and stared at the sun as it appeared to grow smaller and smaller, and then wink out below the horizon line. It occurred so rapidly, and I found this unceasingly amazing. I mean, Florida is flat, but I rarely see the completion of a sunset because we live in a tree city. I was caught up every night in that motion, startled by it each time. It made me feel very small. It’s easy to forget that we live on a enormous ball spinning in space, and then you glimpse it turning.

Blessed be, Gaia. Oshun. Yemaya.

Today is a Blue-fingered Day


Mr. B had a lucky day, according to reports. I arranged for him and some of his homeschool buds to go to a local blueberry farm, where they loaded up the yummy little gems. I think it’s safe to say Mr. B put more berries in his mouth than in his bucket, but he had a blast.

It was blazing hot, of course, a balmy 90 degrees. When I finally sat down in the shade after an hour or so, I was startled that it took so long (about as long as it took for me to get overheated) for me to consider the contrast between my choice of recreation (blueberry picking) and the misery of farmworker labor (blueberry picking). A woman with four children in tow, one just an infant, was picking berries for the company, albeit in a different area, and I never saw her sit down for a break, especially not after such a short time. Just a thought.


The berries are amazing, though, and it was satisfying to pick them myself. It doesn’t look like much, but there’s more than four pounds in there. I may attempt to bake some sort of pie with them on Friday. There could be pictures!

Adventures in Parenting

Sometimes a little shutter clicks in my mind, saving a memory under the filename “What Homeschooling Looks Like.” It would make a great photo essay, if I’d really been taking photos during these moments when I was busy just living: Mr. B watching PBS in his underwear, Mr. B snoring on the floor of a dewy tent in a campground, Mr. B crouched in the hallway completing a math assignment (his favorite spot for doing homework), or Mr. B squatting on the sidewalk examining a dead lizard through a jeweler’s loupe.

Mostly, I trick him into learning stuff while trying hard to listen to a bunch of jabber about his current fixation without going crazy. Lately, it’s Ghostbusters, which is hilarious on some level. He’s constantly talking about ghosts and making up wacky scenarios about hauntings, drawing pictures, playing the videogame, and watching the movie (although that’s tapered off now, thank goodness). He even solicited a special project from my mom, the woman who can make damn near anything out of cardboard, and she constructed a proton pack that fastens to his back with straps she made out of USB lanyards. He wears it everywhere. Can you spot the intrepid heroes on the left, saving NYC?

However, sometimes I do take photos, usually after the fact, to remind myself that the frustration and sacrifice are (mostly) worth the payoff. Today, we made a bird feeding platform from a shelf that I picked up on the side of the road and an old terra cotta flowerpot dish. We installed it outside his window so he can watch birds (one of his Aspie obsessions –could be worse). He can see it from his bunk bed.


A couple of weeks ago, at Florida Pagan Gathering (happy Beltane, BTW), I took a deep breath and let Mr. B off the chain. He romped with his camp buddies and frequently disappeared from my sight, once for over an hour. I even let him participate in the so-called Celtic Games, where men and boys whack each other with boffers shaped like swords and toss big rocks. He took a beating and cheered and hollered himself hoarse, and it was probably the most fun he ever had.

Some days, it’s lots of fun being me.