Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Swamps of Home

Hiya friends,

Spring has arrived in the Pacific Northwest with a flurry of color and pollen. I hope this entry finds you well and escaping seasonal allergies. As for me, I'm spending lots of time with my good friend Claritin. 

I've been busy with writing, revising, traveling, our house remodel, and the daily mayhem of family life. My middle grade science fiction manuscript, TOUGH, is ready to query and I'm organizing to send to it off on its way.

I recently spoke with a couple of close writing friends about that strange space between writing projects, particularly after just finishing a longer piece. There's plenty to do, too much really, but I still get this itchy, frustrated feeling that I'm making no progress. TOUGH is the fourth novel I've completed, but I'm still not used to these aimless feelings. I want to dive right away into a new long term project, but as good people remind me, I also need to rest and refill my well. Clear my desk. Reorganize. In that spirit, I've started gathering the ingredients for a new manuscript and have been rereading some books that fuel my muse. I'm starting to remember that this part, like all of life, is a process.

In related news, I just took a trip to Orlando, Florida to attend my first International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA). 

I chose to attend this conference because I'd heard from a number of people I respect that it's a great venue to discuss fantasy literature and think deeply about myth and folklore (and, er, sit by the lake).

One of my literary idols, Terri Windling, had also been slated to attend as a Guest of Honor, but sadly she cancelled due to health concerns. My thoughts have been with her a great deal lately. Blessedly, there were many other fantasy luminaries in attendance and I enjoyed myself immensely.

Ellen Kushner in her beautiful "Terri Windling Inspired" Garb <3

Delia Sherman relaxes for a moment in the shade. <3
Veronica Schanoes, Ellen Datlow, and my beloved CON-panion, the intrepid Ysabeau Wilce 
I met a few new folks too, which is always *wonderful*. If you are one of the kind folks who shared a conversation or a beverage with me, please accept my thanks. I'm continually impressed by the warmth of the SFF community. I feel so lucky every time I get to spend time in the same space with so many fun people. There were too many of you who I didn't photograph!

Ellen Klages, Molly Tanzer, and Nick Mamatas
I also enjoyed reconnecting with some long lost friends and family who live in the area.
Isis, one of my oldest and dearest friends.
My beautiful aunt and twin cousins.
Worlds collide. Megan and Ysa chatting between hushpuppies.
There's too much to say about my deep love of Central Florida. I spent most of my childhood vacations visiting with my grandparents and aunt who lived there. We caught blue crabs on the Indian River, helped Grandma Bishop in her vegetable garden, and ran wild on the beaches.

In this spirit, I spent a little time on the banks of the lake behind the conference hotel and bothered some fish with my bait (they were too smart to take it).

It was a fun trip, both too brief to see so many wonderful people and too long to be away from my precious boys. It's good to be home.

Next month I head to NYC for other, more...err... theatrical, adventures. Much love to all. Thanks so much for stopping by. <3 <3 <3

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

House of Wood and Word

Hiya sweet people,

This picture makes me happy for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was taken at my writing critique group meeting this past weekend. Such good soul food. This sweet pup is not mine, but isn't she great? Her name's Petra. *melt*

February has been busy, but all is well. Children have recovered from winter illnesses, our house renovation is well underway, and spring is preparing to spring. I've finished revising my new middle grade science fiction, TOUGH, and will be working to research and send out queries soon. In the meantime, RAIN MUST FALL is in the hands of a few folks and I have lots of fingers and toes crossed there. Poems and short stories are out and about as well, and I'm happy to say that a teeny (but mighty!) poem of mine will be published at the Yellow Chair Review in a week or so. So you see, busy. Which reminds me--

we often visit our local beach and wetlands in the winter.  Even on sunny days, all is quiet. Lately, our beaver family has been very busy working on various projects around their pond.

I'm sure some locals despair at how destructive these beavers can be. They've felled dozens, maybe a hundred trees in this area.  But I can't help finding their muddy, grubby, work beautiful.

Their structures are both intricate and alive. Every time we visit, there are new shapes and areas where they've reworked something. It feels like revision is simply a way of life for these industrious creatures.

We sometimes see them at dusk in the fall or spring, when they come out for a snack of horsetail or birch bark. They're entirely disinterested in our presence and go about their business with diligent focus and energy. Can't blame them. We don't offer much help.

We're working on our property too, or, more accurately, the good people we hired are working on it. Our house is over a hundred years old, so this is the sort of thing they find beneath the plaster:

Solid wood lathe. A bit more orderly than the beavers' work, but still a home of wood.

And here she is, hoisted in the air so that the basement and foundation can be altered for new space and stability.

This is all to say, I'm busy and working. Change is underway. I'm grateful for it all. Hoping this post finds you and yours well and, as always, thank you *so* much for stopping by. Means the world.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Oldest Trees

Winter in the Pacific Northwest can be a special kind of dreary. The rains and mists and fogs seep slowly into our minds and hearts. Too much time inside seems to yield less accomplished. It's easy to find excuses to stay locked up and cranky, but for the adventurous few, the sodden world outside is more beautiful than ever. Many of our trees are even more stunning in contrast against the grey.

They spread wide green arms, bare of leaves but thick with moss, and more lovely for their exposed lengths and curves.

At the start of the new year, I took a long walk in one of my favorite parks in Seattle and photographed a few of my favorite trees. Spending time with these trees, especially the oldest ones, reminds me to slow down and notice the life I'm living.

I find I take deeper breaths and even stop to rest my head against the bark and moss. Their sleeping shapes remind me to be grateful for the ancient wilds behind. They remind me to be hopeful for new growth ahead.

Terri Windling, one of my favorite artists and writers, often writes about her love of trees and her hesitation to overshare photos of her most special, magical trees. I couldn't agree more and hope these images simply serve to inspire some of you to get out in the weather, whatever that weather may be.

Much love,

Monday, January 11, 2016

First Poem Published!

Happy to report that my poem, "When the Gunman Comes", is now published in Mythic Delirium, an online magazine edited by Mike Allen. Check out this beautiful cover art! 

Photo by Anne Sampson, sculpture by Anita Allen.

As I posted on facebook, I can't tell you how much this means to me. I have many, oh so many, of you to thank for your encouragement along the way. Please know that I appreciate every ounce of love and support you've provided, whether through clicks, likes, critiques, comments, or long conversations and hugs.

There are a few ways you can read my poem "When the Gunman Comes" online. The *best* way to support this wonderful indie publication is to subscribe here. Ten bucks will get you four digital or online issues of speculative fiction and poetry.

If you'd rather just purchase this issue, it's now available for your Kindle here! Three dollars for the issue. All proceeds are headed to Mythic Delirium.

If you don't have a few bucks to spare for the arts at the moment, you can wait until next month when my poem will be released online for free.

No matter how you go about it, if you choose to read this piece, I'd love to know what you think of it. Truly, it will mean the world.

Much much love,

Friday, December 18, 2015

Happy Holidays!

Hello Friends! 
I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well during the holiday season. It's been a busy time for us as we've started a remodel of our home, succumbed to winter illness, moved a few blocks away (because of the remodel), and slowly settled into our temporary housing. 

Somehow, in the month of November, I decided it would be a good idea to write one poem each day, experimenting with new (to me) styles and topics. Some of these, as you might imagine, were utter disasters. Others are... er... pretty okay? At the request of a few of you, I've decided to try and be brave and post a few of these experiments here, as a gift of thanks for all of your support over this past year, and a lead up to my first ever published poem in Mythic Delirium Magazine. (Arriving soon!)

First, a few short notes I'd like to remember about 2015:

One Saturday, my six year old son woke up and said, "Mama, I'm going to publish your book!" He spent all morning crafting a cardboard/duct tape binding and creating ten or so illustrations for the middle grade sci fi I'll be revising in 2016. This is the sweetest gift I've received to date, and may hold that place for all time. =)

On a separate day, I found this pretty wand on a walk, just as it's pictured here. Later, a woman in a coffee shop noticed it, asked about it, and then asked me if I was Irish. I told her I had some Irish ancestry, and she said, "Well, that must be your bard stick. Look it up!" I did, and I love it. In ancient times, Bards trained hard and long before they had the honor of holding a golden branch to symbolize mastery of the Word and their responsibility to their tribe. It now sits above my desk to remind me who I am and who I hope to be. 

And now... two poems for you.


The Impossible Trees
By Edith Hope Bishop

Oh, meet me beneath
the impossible trees!
We’ll make company with
field mice and rabbits
curling lazily in our skirts
content beneath our watch.
The deer will wander in,
nestling near us.
They won’t mind
if we nuzzle their warm necks,
touch their soft ears.
This is their right, to be loved.

You and I will grin
having believed for too long,
this moment as these trees.
We will not speak, not speak at all.
Turtle will be late, but he will come
nodding his approval.
Finch and sparrow will swing by
and still themselves among the leaves.
Together, then, we’ll rest.
The only sound, breath.

The best story, our hands holding.


Virginia Hills

By Edith Hope Bishop
For Tiffany Trent

What is it makes the hills our own,
Be they green and bright, or brown and bare,
Whether home to horse, or sheep, or bear,
Whether kind or wicked wind has blown,
Whether oak reach high, or souls be sown,
How do these hills command our care
How is it all our life springs there,
Though seasons pass and years have flown?

I never can escape their hold,
Though far I fly and cross the sea,
Climb city steps, and mountains bold,
My mind turns back and longs to be
With hills, where now I will grow old,
These hills not mine, but all of me.

(Photo of me by Tiny Doom) 

Happy Holidays to each and all. See you in 2016!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Virginia Hills

Hi Friends!
Well then. Whew. I just had an *adventure* in the autumn hills of Virginia. I'd like to tell y'all about it, but before I start, I feel the need to say a few things:

A great deal of this trip (and every trip) was spent marvelling at how lucky I am to get to spend time with kindred writerly spirits in a beautiful setting. Life could be different. Life could be, and has sometimes been, much harder than it is now. News headlines and letters from loved ones remind me constantly how fragile all of human experience is, and how troubled so many lives are. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't run off on adventures when this is true. Fear and sadness do their heavy work on me.

And yet, I'm blessed with opportunities, many of which originate from the good people I know and love. I know that to sit these out, and miss these connections, because of the horrors of the world isn't the thing. The thing is to try to live well and wisely. To try to help when I can and do less harm when I can't. To try and make stories that might matter in some small way. At least, that's what I've come to believe in the past couple of years since I left teaching. It isn't always easy to convince myself that it's okay to frolic in the Virginia Hills, and sometimes, frankly, it just isn't. Luckily, this time, Darian, Lola, and I picked up our feet and went for it. I'm glad we went. I'm grateful.

The plan was to spend some quality time with our dear friend and esteemed YA novelist, Tiffany Trent, who makes her home in VA.  (If you haven't read her steampunk novels, I *highly* recommend them, and not just because I like her as a person.) We flew in to DC and immediately began missing Ysabeau Wilce who, alas, wasn't able to join us this time. We rented a vehicle and drove to Lexington that first night and really, all I have to say is Hamilton the musical. Perhaps you didn't hear me: HAMILTON. We listened to this soundtrack while driving through the green and golden Virginia Hills. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, stop reading this and go listen to it. It's so freaking good.)

The next day we breakfasted in our surprisingly historical inn ...

...and then enjoyed some browsing and artsy coffee in the adorable town of Lexington.

It was such a pretty place and I was commenting that I would happily go back when... we saw our first confederate flag. Sigh. So much to say about that topic, but, well, I was disappointed and angry just about every time I saw it on our trip. Which was often.

We left Lexington and made our way through several towns until we arrived at a beautiful farmhouse about an hour outside of Roanoke.

The property included a lovely little fish pond and over 100 acres of forest.

We spent the next few days writing,


goofing around,

and staying up far too late. It was divine, even though Darian and Lola were both suffering from nasty head colds. That didn't stop them from fulfilling a few warboy fantasies from Mad Max: Fury Road:

And then there was the time we drove down to Roanoke to see a beautiful and wicked mythic art show by artist, Anita Allen

With a variety of sculptures made of organic and synthetic materials fused and woven together, Allen's show explored those borderlands where biology meets imagination. I found it fascinating.

Anita and her partner, Mike Allen, are both well known and loved in the fantasy literature world. I'm honored to report that I recently sold one of my poems to Mike for an upcoming issue of Mythic Delirium Magazine. Seeing them both again was lovely, and now I have a picture with my first editor. 

And then there was the time that Darian and I tried to go for a hike in the forests around the farm... 

... and ended up fording a mudslide. This was scary, icky business and, though we laughed a lot, I don't recommend it. 

Unless you happen to be one of these two:

Oh yes, and let's please not forget the time that Tiffany took us to the Friday Night Jamboree in Floyd! There was flatfoot dancing (!!), 

and singing 'bout Satan's Jewel Crown (!!), 

...and abundant joy and merriment. I loved it and hope I get the chance to go back some day.

We also had the chance to meet Tiffany's wonderful family.

Her daughter, known on the internets as Doomlet, is pure joy. Her daddy was kind enough to take us fishing at the pond and Doomlet caught two beautiful bass (and got to hold a couple salamanders too).

Doomlet and I both had owl socks. One of many reasons I'm glad I met her.

There was plenty more. There were bad movies and frightful readings and pumpkin pancakes and there might have been peach moonshine and lampshade dancing. There was definitely hot buttered rum by the fire.

Then it was time to go home, back through the misty hills to DC, and across the grey skies to Seattle.

It was such a good trip. Thank you Tiffany, Ysa, Darian, Lola, Mike, Anita, the owners of our VRBO, and especially all our families for making it possible. 

I'm going to to leave you with this short video of the falling oak leaves outside our house (if it works). I sat under these leaves and wrote for several hours on our first full day and, of all our adventures, that one might have been my favorite.

As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Much love to each and all.