Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Retreating

Hello friends!


Had the pleasure of a short retreat this past weekend to Port Townsend, WA with the Lindle sisters. If you haven't been to PT before, I highly recommend it for writerly and artistic inspiration. The sweeping seascapes are plenty enough reason to visit, but the lively town is also full of interesting characters and happenings.

For example, I spent a fair amount of time at this coffee shop counter writing and watching the sailboats go by...



...and was then interrupted by the arrival of a robot and several teenage engineers.

      

They were prepping their contraptions for the Rhododendron Festival Parade and I even got to sneak a peek at their lab, located in a loft above the coffee shop. 



Since I'm currently fiddling with a MG sci-fi project, I was delighted by this encounter. Though, truth be told, it was a bit hard to focus with this going on in town:



and this:


and this:


(Please note the random Outlander in the background!)



Eventually, Darian and I decided to explore the quieter side of town and visited several gorgeous Victorian homes, the crown jewels of which were this cliffside home:


and the Ann Starrett Mansion:


The house is run as an inn and has been for sale for ten years. No one will buy it because it requires so much work and pricey historical preservation. The innkeeper let us have a look around and it was hard not to imagine a life in which we buy the inn and run it as a writerly retreat center. Sigh...

So we took a walk to the lighthouse to soothe our heartache for such a life.



It worked! Fresh air always reminds me that life is full and good. We have so much to be grateful for, not the least of which is friendship.






Hope this entry finds you all well. We missed many of you this weekend.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

True Story

I met a man once who was reading Virginia Woolf in a cafĂ©. He wore a bowtie and a hat. Except it wasn’t Virginia Woolf, it was a biography by her nephew, Quentin Bell. He said it was better than other records of her life, really, that he’d read so many.

I asked, was he a scholar of Virginia Woolf.

Not really, he said, I’m just taken with her life. Not her works, really, which was odd, he guessed, just her person. She’s inspired so much interest, he said, like Proust. He couldn't say he'd ever finished one of her novels, but he’d read all of her diaries, her journals and letters, multiple accounts of her life, criticism good and bad.

Oh, I said, I love her work but I guess I’m a bit nervous to study her life. I know about her illness and her demise, so I worry. Her work is incredibly inspiring to me. I’m a huge fan.

I encourage you, he said, to learn about her life. Though I should warn you, it’s troubling the way that people try to co-opt her, to make her into something they want her to be. Like the feminists. I mean, I want women to do anything, to be anything, but when any political platform tries to own something and mold it, well, listen to me, I’m just… and then he made a motion with his hands for talking incessantly.

I noticed that the cover of his book was brown paper. I’m a bit idiosyncratic, he said, I didn’t like the cover so I papered it.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Caterpillar Life


These guys are infesting Seattle right now, but they sure are cute. They spend weeks munching away, molting, and building (rather unsightly) communal cobweb tents for shelter. When they're good and fed, they spin a cocoon, turn into fuzzy brown moths, and live for just a couple more days, long enough to mate and lay eggs.

Sometimes, as a writer, I'm impatient to be a butterfly (read: be published and please readers). These guys are a good reminder that sometimes caterpillar life is where it's at.

Friends, wishing you a happy day!


Monday, April 20, 2015

Tides

Hello Sweet People!


This month has seen floods of activity and social engagement, followed by empty stretches of unscheduled time. It's odd, how each kind of time leaves me longing, just a bit, for the other. Maybe this is just because the tides are more dramatic this time of year. More on that anon.



Highlights of the month included a whirlwind trip to Washington DC and New York City to see family and friends. I was able to reconnect with a few of my oldest, dearest friends and, as Piglet says, "to be sure of" them. So sad that I didn't get pictures of everyone, but my need to archive everything is weaker than my desire to be fully present. Here are just a couple of the many beautiful faces I saw:

Phoebe Search, Co-Founder of Snugglyland
Lindsey Buller Maliekel, Keeper & Giver of the Bicoastal Heart

I was also able to squeeze in a bit of time with a few of my new writing friends and heroes. (Again with the no pictures!) I'm pretty much constantly amazed by the generous spirit of many of the professional writers I've met through the SF/F community. I thought taking my writing life seriously was going to be a horribly isolating experience, but the truth is I've met a bunch of truly awesome people.



For example: Adam Gidwitz. If you haven't yet read A Tale Dark & Grimm, please do. It's horrifying, beautiful, and exactly the kind of creative mash-up retelling that today's kids (and grown-ups) crave. Also, he's funny, kind, and smart in person. Bonus.

I've already done some gushing about Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, but just in case you missed it: they are magic. Sheer magic. If you haven't read them yet, well, actually, I'm thrilled for you because you're about to discover new and brilliant worlds. You'll never be the same.

So, small confession, I get a little freaked out when I think about trying to sustain these and other new friendships that are often spread out across hundreds, or thousands of miles. But it's the digital age, right? We can do this, RIGHT?

After about a week of east coasting, it was home again, home again, jiggety jig, to our own shoreline - just in time for some of the lowest tides this time of year. The boys wanted to go tidepooling today, the last day of their Spring Break, so we did. I'll leave you with a few of the gorgeous, ugly, and mysterious creatures we found. 

Eggs of the Frilled Dogwinkle Snail (I believe.)

Heart Cockle Clam

Dungeness Crab

Flounder

And now back to work. Lots of drafting and querying to do.
Thanks so much for reading! I mean it. Best wishes from my place to yours.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring

Hello there, my dearies!

I hope, wherever you are, that your winter is slowly departing and making way for boatloads of green.  Seattle is definitely in bloom, as these quick pics will profess:

Spring Snowflake

Grape Hyacinth


Plum Blossom


Salmon Berry Blossom


Ginormous Cherry Tree! (That's one of my favorite trees in town.) 

Besides beautiful flowers, I've also been able to hang with some lovely ladies. Darian, Lola, and I took a quick jaunt to Bellingham, WA to lunch and chat with Kathryn Cottam, Roberta Cottam, and K.M. Tremills. These Canadian ladies are the real deal: kind and creative spirits who are rockin' out creating gorgeous books. It was wonderful to spend some time with them again.


I also got to say hello to a couple former students who attend college at Western Washington University.


After this silliness, they stole my phone and took about a dozen selfies while I wasn't looking. Their punishment is that I publish one of those photos here! HA! (Seriously, though, I love them both so much.)


Then, just last week I flew to Colorado to help plan for this year's Sirens Conference (incidentally where I met the writer ladies above). If you're curious, I've written about Sirens here and here. During this trip we got to tour the facilities for 2015 at the Inverness Hotel in Denver:



Plenty of sunlight and cozy seating. 




It was great to be there and look ahead to October, but it was also good to come home to Washington and be with my family. My little one has been sick, so there are plenty of Mama-duties at the moment, not to mention all the agent research I want to accomplish as swiftly as possible. Oh, and there also might be a new writing project brewing already. (!) 

I can't seem to let myself rest for long. There are too many stories that need telling.


Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you all are well. I'd always love to hear from you in the comments or in a personal message. The internet can feel like a strange, lopsided place to me. =p

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Rain Must Fall


One of the settings from my current project RAIN MUST FALL. Made for me by talented brother, Chris Bishop. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

California Dreaming

Although I was born in San Francisco, six weeks later my parents moved back to Florida. Miami was home for eighteen years, then Massachusetts, then New York, and now Washington state, where I hope I'll be for a good long time.

I used to joke that since I've lived in three corners of the US, I'd likely retire to California. It was a joke because I didn't believe it. I visited California a couple of times, but I never quite understood the allure. San Diego was nice, but the parts I saw were touristy. San Francisco was okay, but it seemed so dense, expensive, and hip. Warm weather? Big deal. Ocean? Whatever. The Pacific is c-c-cold. I've still never been to LA. Huh.

But now I get California. Holy smokes, do I get it.



I just spent nearly a week with a few of my favorite writer-people basking in the sun and greenery of Marin County, just north of SF, and I don't think I'll ever be the same.



I had no idea that such a stunning landscape of grassy hills, groves of oak and redwood, wide marshlands, and windswept cliffs would be our playground.



I was amazed by how remote and wild the area felt, given how close it is to a major metropolitan area.



Here's hoping it can stay that way for a long, long time.


Can you spot the two coyote in that last picture? We also saw a peregrine falcon, plenty of turkey vultures, hawks, lizards, deer, elk, and a few bellowing elephant seals! I mean... is this place even real? It IS! I was there! I still have a vague tan to prove it!



Since my return, I've been reading a bit on Terri Windling-Gayton's blog about how magic and nature are bound to one another. I've always felt, as David Abram suggests, that my perceptions and awareness are altered by spending time outside. There's no question for me that certain landscapes evoke a deep peace or even a bright need to create. Marin is MAGIC.





Course, people are magic too. After spending an extended time with these marvelous women, I feel alive in a different way than when I'm muddling through the daily business of my life.


Right now I just want to sit around and think up stories.



I want to stay up all night.



I want to rewatch Velvet Goldmine and Jupiter Ascending, because WHAT JUST HAPPENED THERE?


 I also want to record record record it all so I don't forget. Guess that's my inner packrat at work.




I finished this round of revisions on my WIP during the retreat so now I'll take a break to focus on other projects and hopefully gain some perspective. Then I'll polish it up and prepare for the long and (probably brutal) business of querying. Honestly though? Right now, I totally feel up for it. Thanks to our incredible host, Ysabeau Wilce, and to the fun and fearsome Tiffany Trent, Darian Lindle, and Lola Lindle. And thanks, of course, to my loving partner who held down the fort so that I could go have an adventure.


Can't wait for next time!