Saturday, December 20, 2014

Weekend Writing Warriors

Snow stepped closer. I could hear the gentle rise and fall of her breath only an inch or two from my shoulder. “You had your Gran.”
I sniffed, wiping a tear off my nose with the back of my hand. When had I started crying? I never cried.“I only saw her once a moon and . . . she wasn't like you.”
“No one's going to keep you away from me.” Snow promised.
In the warmth of the summer night, under the canopy of more stars than any being could hope to count, I believed her.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


My copies of SNOW ROSES have FINALLY arrived in the mail.

Just look how real it is.

With real pages and everything.

To celebrate I am going to sign one of my copies and give it away.

If you want it blog or tweet about this contest and I will put your name in one of my hats.

In fact, just to make things more fun, when you comment with a link of where you mentioned the contest leave a vote for which hat I should put the names in.

The Sherlock Holmes hat

The Newsie Cap

The Fashionista Indiana Jones Hat

The Lady Sybil Basket Cloiche

Or the Marry Poppins, Practically Perfect Bonnet

I will choose a winner on Thursday the twenty sixth. Any entries made before then are valid.

And in case you're not sure if you would enjoy SNOW ROSES, here's the summary.

Snow locks herself in her chamber when her Papa dies. As the days pass it grows harder and harder to tell the difference between grief and nightmares. She is sad but she is also afraid. Afraid of her stepmother, Lucille. Afraid of the things she wishes she didn't know.

Until the night she can no longer hide from the truth. An attempt on her life forces Snow out into the dangers of a haunted wood.

Rose never asked who she was. She never wondered how she had come to live with the village spinster or why her guardian seemed to be afraid of laughter and bright colors. She was content to do her work, looking forward to the nights her Gran would come to visit.

Until the night her Gran didn't come. Until the night Rose stepped out of her safe, predictable village into a dark wood full of ghosts and monsters.

With no where else left to go Snow and Rose create a haven for themselves in the wood but the queen Lucille has powers far beyond their grasp and is used to getting what she wants. It will take something much more mysterious than secrets and much more powerful than magic to defeat her.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Tree

Looks like someone found a way to use their To-Read list during the holidays.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


My first customer review. Yay!

Snow locks herself in her chamber when her Papa, the king, dies. As the days pass it grows harder and harder to tell the difference between grief and nightmares. She is sad but she is also afraid. Afraid of her stepmother, Lucille. Afraid of the things she wishes she didn't know.

Until the night she can no longer hide from the truth. An attempt on her life forces Snow out into the dangers of a haunted wood.

Rose never asked who she was. She never wondered how she had come to live with the village spinster or why her guardian seemed to be afraid of laughter and bright colors. She was content to do her work, looking forward to the nights her Gran would come to visit.

Until the night her Gran didn't come. Until the night Rose stepped out of her safe, predictable village into a dark wood full of ghosts and monsters to look for her.

With no where else left to go Snow and Rose create a haven for themselves in the wood, learning to protect each other from the dangers. But the queen Lucille has powers far beyond their grasp and is used to getting what she wants. It will take something much more mysterious than secrets and much more powerful than magic to defeat her.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


So . . .

My book SNOW ROSES is finally out!

I'm so excited. I mean check out the amazingness of the cover. (Artwork by Jordie Tyler)

And, in case you prefer, it is also available on kindle

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I read a lot of mythology and folk lore. I read a lot of books based off of mythology. I also like to watch movies and series based off of mythology.

Something that happens quite frequently when I am partaking in the second of these two activities is an indignant exclamation of "That's not how it happens!"

Alas, when others are in the room at said times they will then ask me about "the original", the "true" story, the "golden mean", the "master copy".


I am then left explaining to them how folk lore any mythology doesn't actually have an original. All stories in these categories --and I do mean all --have developed over time in many different manifestations. There is no original unless the original is the universal consciousness of mankind. Even the oldest manuscripts we have of the oldest stories are already re-tellings of re-tellings. The story of what it is to be human has been told and will be told into infinity.

This is generally received with blank looks or a roll of the eyes at which point I wonder if I ought to have left out the bits about collective consciousness and infinity and stuck to the facts about the manuscripts.

Regardless, there is no original or "true" version of any myth or folk tale. Each individual version of each individual story is its own truth. Yes, it is rooted in all the versions that have come before it, but it is its own story in its own moment. It is reborn. It is retold.

This leads me back to my indignant exclamation of "That's not how it happens!" No, it isn't. Not in the older version I have already read. But this is a new version. It is going to take on a life of its own.

That isn't to say that one version can't hold a truth that I resonate with more strongly. One story can feel "more right" for me but that doesn't mean that it will be more authentic than the one that comes after.

Perhaps what I ought to exclaim is "I prefer the older version!" or "This retelling uses the same devices to explore a completely different metaphor that I find much less relate-able!"

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Weekend Writing Wariors #3

Hello again. I hope you have all had a fantastic week and are enjoying browsing through the gems of Weekend Writing Warriors. Or if you aren't enjoying them yet I hope you will check them out now. There are samples of a lot of great writing.

Here's a 3rd snippet from my upcoming YA Dark Fantasy SNOW ROSES.

The cry sounded again. It was closer now. Hidden only by the thin cottage walls. I should have been moving away from the scream but somehow I couldn't. Not when it had felt so much like a cry wrenched from my own soul.
I stopped when I reached the cottage door. It was open, creaking back and forth on its hinges. A thick darkness loomed inside.

And in case you wanted a little context for that, here is the summery for SNOW ROSES.

Snow locks herself in her chamber when her Papa dies. As the days pass it grows harder and harder to tell the difference between grief and nightmares. She is sad but she is also afraid. Afraid of her stepmother, the queen Lucille. Afraid of memories she wishes she didn't have.

One night an attempt is made on Snow's life and she is forced into the dangers of a haunted wood where she can no longer hide from the truth.

Rose never asked who she was. She never wondered how she had come to live with the village spinster or why her guardian seemed to be afraid of laughter and bright colors. She was content to do her work, looking forward to the nights her Gran would come to visit.

Until the night her Gran didn't come. Until the night Rose stepped out of her safe, predictable village into a dark wood full of ghosts and monsters to look for her.

Snow and Rose meet each other in the wood. With no where else left to go they create a haven for themselves, learning to protect each other from the dangers. But the queen Lucille has powers far beyond their grasp and is used to getting what she wants. It will take something much more mysterious than secrets and much more powerful than magic to defeat her.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Snow Roses Summery

Snow locks herself in her chamber when her Papa, the king, dies. As the days pass it grows harder and harder to tell the difference between grief and nightmares. She is sad but she is also afraid. Afraid of her stepmother, Lucille. Afraid of the things she wishes she didn't know.

Until the night she can no longer hide from the truth. An attempt on her life forces Snow out into the dangers of a haunted wood.

Rose never asked who she was. She never wondered how she had come to live with the village spinster or why her guardian seemed to be afraid of laughter and bright colors. She was content to do her work, looking forward to the nights her Gran would come to visit.

Until the night her Gran didn't come. Until the night Rose stepped out of her safe, predictable village into a dark wood full of ghosts and monsters to look for her.

With no where else left to go Snow and Rose create a haven for themselves in the wood, learning to protect each other from the dangers. But the queen Lucille has powers far beyond their grasp and is used to getting what she wants. It will take something much more mysterious than secrets and much more powerful than magic to defeat her.

Let me know what you think! And if you would like a copy of the bookmark pictured above leave a comment with your address and I will send it to you!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Weekend Writing Warriors

Here is another snippet of my upcoming book Snow Roses. I hope you enjoy it along with the rest of the Weekend Writing Warriors excerpts.

It might be worth mentioning that the "I" in this snippet is a different narrator than before.

There. I'd done it. I'd stepped out of the village. Farther from home than I'd ever been before. Farther than any of the villagers had gone.
Any of the live ones that is.
I moved forward. The jitters fluttering through my chest dissolved as I turned the constant steps, one after the other, into a kind of rhythmic dance. My fingers and nose turned numb with cold.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Indie Publishing

There are a lot of different reasons writers decide not to publish traditionally. There are a lot of different ways to analyze and assess the pros and cons of such a choice.

I don't know very much about that. In fact, my reasons for deciding on indie publishing has very little to do with pros or cons.

When I first started writing as a kid it was mostly because my friends had decided that we were too old to dress up and play make believe (they were wrong, of course, and apparently didn't know about Renaissance Faires and SCA). I liked books and it was a fun way to channel my imagination.

It wasn't until I'd graduated high school and had already written two books that I began to seriously consider publication. Everyone was suddenly asking me what I was going to do with my life and I thought, well I like writing stories. I like playing ideas and characters and possibilities.

I've grown a lot as a writer since then. I've learned from classes and books and other writers. I know more about how the business works and what the readers expect. My writing is better because of it but somewhere along the way I started focusing less on fostering my imagination and telling a good story and more on "succeeding as a writer".

I wanted a reward for my work. A paycheck. Some important person giving me that stamp of approval. "Yes, you are a writer", "Yes, people care what you have to say", "Yes, you should write more".

But I don't need that. That's the kind of utilitarian thinking that is never satisfied. The process of writing is its own reward and the only person I have to impress is myself.

That's my first reason for deciding on indie publishing. Not because I think there is anything wrong with traditional publishing or that writers shouldn't want payment or appreciation for their work but because I remember what it's like to surrender completely to the story I am trying to tell and let everything else go. I want to enjoy the process and not worry about what I am going to earn in exchange for it. Art for art's sake.

The second reason is a little more psychological and related specifically to me. I tend to be a very cautious person. I like to research decisions before I make them. I like to know what I am getting into. I analyze. I decipher. I consider.

Unfortunately I rarely feel I have enough information to know anything for certain and so I put off making decisions. Sometimes for years. Sometimes forever until the opportunity is beyond gone.

I believe it is time for me to jump, eyes closed, future uncertain, into the great abyss. Maybe I'll crash. Maybe I'll break a few things.

Maybe I'll fly.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Writing Warriors

Greetings. This is my first time participating in Weekend Writing Warriors. I look forward to sampling everyone's writing. Below are the first eight sentences of my dark fantasy SNOW ROSES.

I grew used to papa's death the way summer dwindles into winter; silently, laboriously, without hope.
I do not know when the funeral was held. I do not know how many foreign dignitaries attended or how the common folk mourned the loss of their ruler. I imagine I was invited --expected to attend in somber black silk, suffering silently by my stepmother's side. I imagine that my handmaidens pleaded with me to allow them to dress me but I never heard them. I paced across the intricate weave of my chamber's rug, losing myself in it's elaborate swirls, trying to conceive some kind of consistent pattern. My eyes grew raw and tender around the rims and I slept little and ate only when coerced. My already slight form and pale skin became a rattle of bones and a ghostly pallor.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Snow Roses

I've been putting off making this official because . . .

Well I'm more than a little terrified of my decision. But I know it's the right decision. For me and for this project.

So. Officially.

I have decided to publish my book SNOW ROSES all on me ownsome.

There. No backing out of it now. Official.

W: Wariars, X: Xena, Y: Yard, and Z: Zany

I apologize for the wordless posts that went up earlier this month. I had scheduled the titles, intending to write whatever came to mind the day they went up, and then forgot all about them.

This is what I was doing instead of blogging.

Helping my sister plan and throw her warrior princess birthday party.

Complete with tournament

And ogres (guests without costumes)

And, of course, warrior princesses

So I apologize. I didn't mean to spam you all with posts that weren't really posts. I'll try to stay more on top of things.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

U: Utilitarianism

Utilitarian philosophy was constructed during the industrial revolution. It holds that everything's worth is measured by its usefulness and productivity.

Needless to say fiction isn't greatly valued.

Nor is music.

Or poetry.

Or dancing in the rain.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

T: Tea

I don't think there's anything quite as miraculous as tea.

As Alice knows it can be quite mad.

It can re-boost your energy.

It can help you wind down at the end of the night.

It can relieve stress.

It can welcome strangers.

It can mask social tension (as in fill the awkward silence with "Let's have some tea" as seen in all British costume pieces).

Some kinds of tea are said to extend life.

It can help alleviate headaches

And sore throats.

But mostly tea is amazing because you serve it in such fun cups.

Friday, April 25, 2014

S: Sneezzle Snazzle

"Sneezzly snazzle" is the phrase I say immediately after every sneeze. I do not know why or when I began this custom.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

R: Romantic

The word 'romantic' has a lot of different meanings.

Romantic as in romantic comedy

Romantic as in romance languages

Romantic as in from the romantic era

Romantic as in romanticizing something

Romantic as in the literary genre of "A Romance"

Romantic as in romantic ideals

At first glance some of these different versions of the word appear to have nothing to do with each other but if you go back to the literal meaning of the word --from Rome --they follow a very natural progression of ideas. Let me unscramble the above for you.

Romance languages

Languages apart from Latin that were spoken in Rome. In written form Latin was used for sacred texts and later for scientific or philosophical writing. Other writings mean primarily for entertainment were written in the more vernacular romance languages which leads us directly into . . .

A Romance

Stories and collections of stories like Orlando Furioso, Le Morte d'Arthur, and even though it was written in English which is not a romance language, The Faery Queen. These were the forerunners of novels written with heightened emotions and strange coincidences. Collectively they represented a certain kind of idea which progressed to . . .

Romantic ideals or philosophy

These deal largely with the glorification of nature, emotions, and the common people. Ideas that were manifest in earlier romances. These ideas go hand in hand with . . .


Seeing something ordinary or common place as spectacular and meaningful

and also led to . . .

The Romantic Era

Keats. Shelly (both of them). Byron. Blake. Burns. Wordsworth. Gothic novels. Debussy. Some of the world's greatest geniuses were a part of this wave of romantic ideas in literature and music. It was largely an ideological revolt against the industrial revolution and encouraged, probably for the first time in the history of western thought, listening the the heart rather than the head. Which leaves us with our more common place concept of the word . . .

Romantic comedies and bold romantic gestures

These encourage heart over head. They take something ordinary --a person or the need to procreate --and turn it into something meaningful.

And so all forms of Romantic are connected in the great circle of words.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Q: Quotes

"He taught me the difference between everything and nothing"
"Which is?" Vevey prompted, looking baffled
---Patricia McKillup, Alphabet of Thorn

Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.
--Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

"I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
Death thought about it.
"Cats," he said eventually. "Cats are nice."
--Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

"Jelly Babies. It's fun to bite their heads off."
--Tony Ding

"Security is a Kind of Death." --Tennesse Willlaims

... from the beging of time,
in childhood, I thought
the pain meant I was not loved.
It meant I loved.
--Louise Gluck "First memory"

"The heart is as silent as a fish, however much the tongue tries to give it a voice."
--Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

"I do not make the rules. This annoys me, and so I comfort myself by breaking them" --Lord David Alexander Triemon Campion, the Mad Duke of Tremontaine

"For while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new it always must be heard. There isn't any other tale to tell, its the only light we got in this darkness."
--James Baldwin

I am an artist and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth.
--Ursula LeGuin

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
--Oscar Wilde

All we have to believe with is our senses, the tools we use to perceive the world: our sight, our touch, our memory. If they lie to us, then nothing can be trusted. And even if we do not believe, then still we cannot travel in any other way than the road our senses show us; and we must walk that road to the end.
--Neil Gaiman, American Gods

She had lived, we'll say,
A harmless life, what she called a virtuous life,
A quiet life, which was not life at all
--Elizabeth Barrette Browning

"Because (books) are masters who instruct without a rod. If you approach them, they are never asleep; if you are ignorant, they never laugh; if you make mistakes, they never chide. They give to all who ask of them and never demand payment. All the glory of the world would be buried in oblivion if God hadn't provided us with the remedy of books."
-- Catherine Jinks, Pagan's Scribe

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

P: Paper

Fragile white husk, fluttering in my hand
The pulped remains of a forest, bleeding ideas
Thin, crisp, cool, lost in the crinkle of fire
Gone with the slow, poisoning steep of the rain
Embalmed memorial to souls long past
Extorting fears from my mind's deepest crevice
Delicate deviant, whispered into wind

Monday, April 21, 2014

O: On and Off

When I write my mind goes through a process that I call the Incubation Period. This is when I have an idea. A really vivid idea. I've probably jotted down quite a few notes but I'm not ready to write much down yet.

I'm not ready to do a lot of research.

I'm not even doing outlines or character sketches.

I have an idea and I can't think about anything else but I have no tangible evidence of productivity. I have no output. I stare out of windows and talk to myself inside my head. I relate everything that happens around me to my idea and --life willing --I might spend a day in my room reading poetry that reminds me of the idea. I don't get a lot of laundry or dishes done and I space out a lot at work.

This is the part where I daydream. This is the part where the story really takes shape inside me.

Unfortunately this is the part I can't turn on and off. It's there or it isn't.

I can sit down and will myself to research or outline or draft or edit but the incubation --the part where the idea creates its own life --only happens when it wants to.

I can also stop any of those processes and work on other responsibilities but incubation is a state of mind. Physically I might be attempting diligence but my mind is somewhere else. My friends and bosses tend to notice this.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

N: Not Knowing

I like not knowing things.

Ok, not exactly like. I'm curious about everything. I like asking strange questions and contemplating possibilities. But I'm ok with not finding solid, concrete, indisputable answers. If I do find that kind of answer I tend to find them incomplete. Flat. One dimensional. Because the world is so much more exciting and complicated than that.

It has been argued that the unknown is mankind's greatest fear, death being the greatest unknown because no one knows for absolute certain what lies on the other side. But life is just as uncertain. Anything can happen, anywhere, at any moment. You can have plans and schedules and ambitions for the future but you don't really know how things will turn out until you're in the middle of them.

It's like reading a book. You don't know for sure how it will end until you get there and you don't want to.

It's like writing a book. You envision the end, plan for the individual scenes, but there are still moments --big moments --that take you completely by surprise. And yet, when you are finished everything fits together even better than you had planned.

There is excitement in not knowing but there is also a peace because you don't have to control the outcome. You let go of it. You trust. Sometimes you don't need an answer. You just need a question.

This is why I was never a mathematician.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

M: Moon

Here are some pictures from the eclipse we had Monday night.

It was thrilling to watch the moon slowly disappear.

Almost like seeing half a month go by in one night.

I wonder what happens to werewolves on the night of an eclipse.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

L: Luck

Webster's definition of LUCK:

a purposeless, unpredictable and uncontrollable force that shapes events favorably or unfavorably for an individual, group or cause

But, as with all abstract words, the meaning of the word varies according to an individual's perspective on life.

Other words that could by synonymous with LUCK:


It is interesting that a word that seems to mean something so specific can get up and run away from you once you try to pin-point exactly what it does mean. It's an abstract concept. Most of us understand it to mean more or less the same thing and yet . . .

That's probably a metaphor. I've never been a fan of trying to define everything all the time. At least not definitively. It is good to be aware that the meaning of words fluctuate but not to try to contain them in a single definition. That would be like, well trying to hold back the tide. Pointless and impossible.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

K: Kestrel

This is a kestrel.

A bird of prey that screeches as it makes its kill.

This is The Kestrel.

A book that changed my life when I was seventeen.

I've read a lot of books that paved the way for how I later came to think, slowly shifting things in my head so that ideas would have room to form. I've also read a lot of books that seemed to express my innermost cries. I've read a lot of books that asked me questions I didn't know the answer to and kept up well into the night contemplating them. The Kestrel is the only book I can remember that ripped into my head, pulled out things I thought I knew, and rearranged them behind my eyes.

This was at least partially because the first time I read it I was seventeen and ready for the inevitable changes in the mind that come with maturity but The Kestrel is also a very powerful anti-war story; brutal but also innocent in the way only a story about the young and inexperienced can be. I must have re-read the trilogy at least three times and every time I notice another master stroke in Lloyd Alexander's storytelling. It's a beautiful book. One that I believe deserved more acclaim that it received for its depth and honest depiction of the human instincts for survival.

Monday, April 14, 2014

J: Journey

"Did we pass it?" Mom asks.

"I don't think so." I answer. "It should be coming up on the right."

We zoom past sprawling clumps of stone and sand, tall pale growths of cacti and ocotillo. Other cars on the road are a whole ten minutes apart. Everything looks the same. Everything looks different. At last we see it. A single sign --no bigger than a foot across -- and a dirt road.

How old was I the first time we came? Nine? Ten? Older than eight. Younger than eleven.

I hadn't been very excited when my dad had told me that we would be exploring the desert. To me deserts were the dry hot place we traveled through without air conditioning to reach our relatives houses. It was the bear wasteland I stared at for hours with my nose pressed against the car window, wondering if we were there yet. I hadn't expected to find so many wild flowers to pick. I hadn't expected to see so many road runners and alligator lizards. I hadn't expected to run back out of the car once we returned to it because we saw we had specks of mica on our shoes from the temporary river bed that ran through the canyon. I hadn't expected to collect clumps of the shiny rock, pretending we thought it was real gold. I hadn't expected to remember the day so vividly sixteen years later.

We almost hadn't made it today. Because the traditional pineapple upside down cake breakfast had taken a long time to make. Because we had shuffled around, arguing over seats and trying to confirm who was able to make it around their work schedules. Because our family has grown in the last sixteen years and because it has shrunk. We had left so late that we hadn't had time to stop at the sod house for a pick nick or at the top of the canyon to enjoy the view.

Only four of us step out of the car once it is parked. Me, my mom, and my two youngest brothers. I turn around. My mom snaps a picture of me.

Normally I would be annoyed. I am annoyed but today I understand why she insists on taking so many. Today I understand the temptation to stop time and keep a moment forever. My parents began this tradition to trace the footsteps of a wise man who lived and died two thousand years ago but as we head toward the cluster of palms in the center of the canyon all I can think of is retracing my own footsteps.

Those are the rocks my brother had jumped on when he was four, declaring to us all that he was Jumping Jeriah Tyler. This is the stretch of earth where we had battled each other with squirt guns. Here is the place my other brother had run unexpectedly into the teacher he had a crush on, miles and miles away from where either of us lived. Here is the riverbed where we had gathered the bits of mica. It is dried out today, the sand covered in salt, with only a few sludgy bits of muddy sand. My mom and I step around them as my brothers rush ahead.

There are no flowers to pick today. It's been too long since the last rain. Our feet press against the earth, driving into the soft, salt covered sand. The white crystals look almost like snow. Then we step up out of the riverbed, onto gravely crumbles of stone specked with minerals that sparkle in the sun. My skirt brushes against the desert shrubs, all different textures of the same colors. Pale green sage and tall gold-brown ocotillo.

At last we reach the cluster of palms. They are different than I remember them. Thinner. More spread out. Some of their trunks are charred black and chocolate brown, caressed but not consumed by a passing wild fire a handful of years ago. Wind scurries through their thick, heavy leaves, sounding like a rumble of thunder.

Here our pilgrimage ends. A two hour drive. A fifteen minute walk. Sixteen years of memories. Here the stones stand still. Here the ground scurries and shifts with life. The canyon is never the same when I return to it. I am never the same.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

I: Introverts

I sometimes with there were laws about discrimination against introverts.

I don't mean merely on a social scale. Establishing boundaries in social settings is difficult but can be done. You just have to teach people how to treat you. Be patient and explain to them calmly and politely why you need space sometimes and how it doesn't mean that you dislike them or believe that they have done anything wrong. You might have to explain a lot of times before they understand but eventually most people will respect your boundaries.

I mean in the work place where it's harder to explain to people that you want to be treated differently than they want to be treated, not because either wish is wrong but because you have a different way you spend and gain energy.

You aren't trying to snub anybody when you decide to eat lunch alone. You are re-charging.

It makes you uncomfortable when they constantly ask a lot of personal questions about your life.

It makes you uncomfortable when strangers read your name tag and call you by your private, personal, first name.

It makes you uncomfortable when people touch you or lean into your personal space when they work doesn't require it.

It makes you feel hunted. It makes you feel stalked.

If people notice your discomfort at all they usually decide that it is because you are "shy" and "unsure of yourself" and decide that they will "loosen you up" and "break you out of your shell". They decide they have to change you. They decide you are wrong the way you are because you don't think the same way they do.

If that's not discrimination I don't know what is.

Sometimes I wish I could wear this comic tattooed on my forehead.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

H: Hats

These are my hats

I have more than one. You could probably call me a Mad Hatter if being a hatter was someone who owned hats rather than someone who made them. The mad part is right anyways.

Judith Martin, also known as Miss Manners, once said that hats used to be worn to show that the wearer was conventional and now they are worn to show that the wearer is not. This is probably true. No one likes to be less conventional than me and I certainly don't wear them to keep my head warm out here in Cali.

In Jewish culture hats are worn to remind the wearer that there is something above them at all times. That the world is bigger than them.

Big hats are also useful to avoid too much unwanted eye contact with strangers. Or to tip at acquaintances when one of you doesn't have the time to stop and say hello properly.

They aren't useful for allowing the people behind you to see in theaters or making your fellows at the dinner table feel respected.

They are perfect for going to see horse races.

It is also worthwhile to note that important figures such as Robin Hood, the three Musketeers, and pirates everywhere wear hats. With feathers.

Also, crowns are a kind of hat.

Friday, April 11, 2014

G: Gender Roles

I think about gender roles a lot. Partially because I am of the historically dominated gender which greatly disturbs me even if, for the most part, things are better now. And partially because cultural anthropology fascinates me and anything that straddles your classic "nature vs. nurture" line is going to interest me.

I could write volumes on my opinions, observations, and questions about the complexities of gender but I won't. Not today anyways. Not here. Instead I shall point you in the direction of a very fantastic book that explores these ideas. A book I re-read this last week and can't seem to get out of my brain (those are the best kind aren't they?). A very fantastic book by Ursula K. Le Guin.

The Left Hand of Darkness

You may have read or heard of this book before. It involves an alien race that is unisex. That is, they reproduce sexually but each member of the race is both a man and a woman. It is interesting to see how the society is developed without the social divide --or even distinction of --"man" and "woman". It is even more interesting to see how difficult a man from our world finds building relationships with these Gethenians because he doesn't know how to categorize them or what to expect from them.

Even more interesting than that is the transcendent closeness of such a relationship.

Just some thoughts. Hope you are all enjoying A-Z challenge.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

F: Fire

Fire is one of the main elements of human survival. We need it. We admire it. Or Prometheus would never have stolen it from the gods. It is beautiful. It keeps us warm. It lights our way. But it is also very dangerous.

Living in southern California I am reminded of this every summer and fall. Fire kills. It destroys. It turns beautiful woodlands full of green and wildlife into charred black wastelands with withered tree stumps.

And yet . . . what would we do without it? How would we see? How would we keep warm?

The symbolism of fire is ancient. We all feel it burning inside us, licking against the sides of our souls, crackling at us to let it out. Some of us do. Some of us don't. Sometimes it scorches only us. Sometimes in lays waste to the world around us.

And yet . . . what would we do without it? What would we learn? What would we feel? What would be the point?

In this I am inclined to agree with Frost. Ice is a much more frightening, terrifying thing than even the most dangerous fire.

Monday, April 7, 2014

E: Elephants

I know, I know, I have done elephants for e before and they don't have an awful lot to do with writing or literature but, but

I love elephants

And I saw baby elephants yesterday

and my summer job at the zoo has me selling things in the elephant gift shop (this can be nothing other than fate)

and I more or less consider elephants my spirit animals.

Amazing things about elephants:

Their social system is a matriarchal clan. Kind of like amazon warriors

They're as fierce as amazon warriors

They mourn their dead

The entire clan takes care of their young

They symbolize wisdom

They always look like they're smiling

Have you ever seen a baby elephant play?

Samwise Gamgee was more impressed by the existence of elephants than elves, orcs, dwarves or nasgal.

Friday, April 4, 2014

D: Doctor

Go on. Ask which one! Ask!

This is me, grinning because you said it.

I'm still grinning.

The TARDIS is a lot like a book.

An ultra pass to anywhere in space and time

Bigger on the inside

Box shaped

Maybe that's why I'm still grinning a little. Maybe that's why I was devastated when a certain pair of aquatic companions departed from it and even more devastated this last Christmas when bow ties were no longer a part of its main resident's attire.


But my devastation was short lived because it is the constant whirlwind of change that has kept the show thriving all these years and made it into what it is now. And that's kind of like . . . well any story. You can't progress the plot and characters if you keep them in the same place all the time. That's how you get infamously bad sequels.

Actually, that's also a lot like life. Movement. Change. Run toward it before it gets away from you.

Yes, definitely run. A lot.

So here's to the dance of life, experience, and constantly writing and re-writing stories. They need to be told so tell them.

But no spoilers please.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

C: Candlelight

Flicker at me from out of the dark
Burn my eyes with your salient spark
Drip scalding tears, cold thick, and hard
Down from your core --thin, woven, charred.
Scourge the unseen terrors hidden
Beyond your illumination.
Slowly, softly, begin to fade.
When the sky is gone. When all is shade.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B: Bradbury

Surprisingly the first Bradbury book I read was Zen in the Art of Writing

In general I have favored fantasy to science fiction. Mainly because I like knights and prettier dresses and old things but also because in my limited exposure to the genre science fiction focuses on reason and detailed scientific jargon while fantasy focuses on myth and emotions. Science fiction is (often) all head. Fantasy is (often) all heart.

That is not the case with Bradbury.

After reading The Zen of Writing, I was so enamored of Bradbury's prose style --his excitement and enthusiasm for life --that I immediately went and picked up a copy of Dandelion Wine

Followed soon thereafter by Fahrenheit 451

The Illustrated Man

and Farewell Summer

but I think my favorite book of his that I have read so far is The Martian Chronicles.

He doesn't bog the story (for my tastes) down with scientific details and explanations of how maybe this could really happen. He knows it couldn't. The reader knows it couldn't. That's not the point. The point is that within the story it is happening and that illuminates things about us as a people. It is fitting that Bradbury has said that he once claimed not to write with his intellect. Bradbury wrote primarily with his heart and his sweet, sad longing mingled with an unbridled enthusiasm for even life's most mundane shines through in every page of his works.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A: Anger

I believe it was Terry Pratchett who said that you need a little anger with the world before you can really write. He was discussing the differences between his earlier and later works, claiming that his later works have more depth because he had been jerked around by life a little more by the time he wrote them. (I tried to find you a link to the interview for you but it seems to have been lost in the clutter.)

I wrote my first manuscript when I was a freshman in high school. It was a story about a horse who was jealous that the girl who owned her got a new horse. It may have had some fun dialogue in it but the conflict was more or less nonexistent. There was a horse race and a horse thief and an annoying snobby girl and I never went any deeper than that. How could I? I was fourteen. I lived a very happy, very sheltered life and there wasn't much for me to draw from.

At least not the sort of things I would have wanted to write about . . .

Fast forward twelve years. Add some awareness of who I am and what the world is and how difficult it is to reconcile the two. Skip past long hours of loneliness and exhaustion and loss and confusion. The stories I tell now come from a deeper place inside me. I'm not mimicking my favorite authors anymore. I am abstracting words from my soul because there is no other way the scream of my existence can come out.

I am angry with the world. That doesn't mean I don't see its beauty too. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy my life or that I hate the people in the world. It means that I see how much better things could be. It means that I wish I could change the universe with a whisk of my wand. With a stroke of my pen.

So I do. Word after word, I paint what I see. It's terrible and beautiful and it is fueled by the kind of anger that can only exist alongside joy.

What do you think? Do you need anger to write? Do stories need anger to create conflict? Do stories need conflict? Does the world need conflict?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Story or Two for the Artist

Here are links to two stories I've read (or re-read) this week that touched a nerve in my artist's soul. If you have the time I highly encourage you to read them.

Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid


Nathanial Hawthorne's The Artist of the Beautiful

Create beautiful things this week.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bird Song

Your song drifts over the stale stillness,

Sharp and shrill, mutilating my mind

With sweet, sad remembrances of death.

Did not Keats hear your refrain and mourn

The power of its persistent pulse

And Shelly laud your lilting lullaby?

Your beauty is a calloused curse,

Maligned by festering falsehoods.

Unheard oracle, you sing, oblivious

To the smothering grip of mindlessness.

Since Poe first foretold Diana's death

The earth swells with neglected truths

Ignored by survival's endless strain.

With a catechism of promise,

Cataloged with false fragmented facts,

We prey on the deaf starvation of your voice.

Bleeding, blistering with light, I listen,

Terrified by the intensity of my homage.

Scraps of soul drift in the scalding dust,

Destined to dampen my memory.

Hollow chasms echo with your cries,

Murdering silence with manacles

Forged with our own forgetfulness and

The remains of your rejected hymn.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Blank Page

A blank page stares at me like a hungry cat.

Fear clogged passages clamor for words,

Fogged with the dusty noise of my past.

Old dreams hum to me in forgotten lullabies

The relentless dance of thought churns in my head,

Hidden from reality by repetition.

If I could bleed ink I would let it drip.

I would smear it across the page

Until the chatter was drowned.

If my lips were silent,

If my mind were still,

Could I form a word?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Cruel, gnarled lies spilling out of my head,

Wriggling through cracked wood like parasites,

Nesting in the walls, in the constant dread,

Hallucinating every hurt time writes.

My tongue drips with nothing, afraid to speak,

Afraid to let the pain pass into words,

Afraid it will die if I dare to peak

Behind the walls, down toward my innards.

I am locked deep inside my head, alone

I can't see you standing so far outside

Will you stay if you think that I am stone?

If I move how far away will I slide?

Melt down the walls. Turn them into drizzle.

Burn out the lies. Give me an empty skull.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Room of My Own

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." --Virginia Woolf

In the daytime my room is mine. In the daytime it is the best room in the world.

There is a space between my bed and my bookshelf that is the perfect size for my yoga mat. My bookshelf is overflowing with old journals, books I read when I was a kid, books I read in school, books from my favorite authors, and books I'm almost sure I'll get around to reading one day.

On the other side of my bed is a piano, my chair, my table, candles and incense burners, the CD player I still use instead of an i-pod, my jewelry and figurines, the tea cabinet I bought on etsy, and the china shelf my dad made for his mom when he was a twelve year old boy scout.

My closet is a walk-in, big enough for all my clothes, my "desk" (also known as the dresser I keep my paperwork on), and the kitchen I made with an Ikea shelf, a hotplate, a toaster oven, and half a dozen brass hooks.

In the daytime my room is a haven, filled to the brim with all the things I love. Here I write and study and cook and dabble with music while drinking too much tea and nibbling carrots and biscuits.

At night it is a prison.

Not every night and not just because my mom comes home in the evening and watches PBS and ABC in her half of the room. Not just because I wonder what she will say if she ever notices my copy of "Seasons of Witchery" on my shelf or the Pride button on my book bag. Not just because there is no door on the shower and I feel like an animal on display as I get ready for bed.

There is something about darkness that wakes up the mind. Your body is still and suddenly . . . you don't know things anymore. Everything you spend all day pretending in order to keep yourself from going insane disappears. The promise that everything will be all right in the end, the assurance that you are on the right path, your mental list of what you have to do next because . . . because . . . well because you are supposed to aren't you? At night you are left with a gaping hole of blackness in your mind, hungry to be filled with anything that passes by.

Some nights I fill it with wondering if I will ever leave home, how much longer my mom will be able to keep up with the house payments, if anyone will ever read my books, or if I will ever write anything as beautiful and haunting and lasting as John Keats or Lloyd Alexander or the Bronte sisters.

When that doesn't cheer me up enough I wonder what will happen to me after I die and if I would live forever if I could. I become angry with sexists and homophobes and the people who write bad television. I remember how much I hate my job and how boring and unoriginal most of my concerns are.

My room is not a prison. The true vault is inside my mind but I would not escape it if I could because almost smothered in all the dark thoughts are a few lingering glimmers that are invisible by daylight. Memories and emotions that would never be invoked if I let my mind stay in it's business-only state of daytime busyness.

It is at night that I touch Woodworth's "Still, sad music of humanity". It is at night that I feel most alive. It is at night that my mind becomes my own.