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.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Sirens 2015: Rebels & Revolutionaries

I recently attended my third Sirens Conference and am happy to report it was another powerful and life-affirming experience. For those of you who may not have read about this conference here before, Sirens is a small boutique conference for and about women in fantasy literature. This year, Darian and Lola (my dear writer-sisters) traveled with me to Denver, Colorado. I’d been volunteering a bit for Sirens over the course of the year and though I knew the conference had been planned carefully, I still worried that it would somehow not live up to my hopes and past experiences. I need not have worried.

Warning: This post is long because it is primarily for my own records and for other curious Sirens attendees. Certainly, if you’re interested, feel free to scan and browse. This post doesn’t need to be read start to finish, but I highly encourage you to click on some of the links to the wonderful presenters and Guests of Honor who attended this year.


We arrived, checked in, and got to have dinner with some of my new favorite people on the planet: Rosemary Clement, Rook Riley, and Jen Adams (long time online friend who I finally got to meet in person!).

Jen and I:

Keynote: Kate Elliott gave a beautiful, funny, and touching speech on how readers access fantasy worlds, familiar and strange. She suggested, and I think rightly so, that writers have the power to craft truly revolutionary narratives even as they employ some of the tropes, settings, or situations that might seem initially “comfortable” for readers. Also, she's wonderful.


Writing the Fantastic: [Panel]
Kate Elliott, RaeCarson, Yoon Ha Lee, moderated by Amy Tenbrink (Co-founder of Sirens)
This panel was probably the most powerful part of programming for me. Each of the Guests of Honor brought incredible wisdom and humor to the conversation on how they became writers, stayed writers, and continue to fight the good fight. The moments that most affected me were these:

Kate Elliot: “Surround yourself with your comrades… Walk together…”
“Forgive yourself.”

Rae Carson: Sometimes it’s okay to “beat a hasty retreat” in order to “win the war”.  Sometimes, it’s wise to ask yourself, “Do I have room in my heart for rage today?” “Get selfish…. Do the hard thing”.

Yoon Ha Lee: Pick your battles. Like Sun Tzu: “The best way to defeat the enemy is to understand the enemy.”

Women of War, Trauma, and Healing: [Panel]
ArtemisGrey, Catherine Lundoff, T.L. Morganfield, Bethany Powell, s.e. smith
Great discussion of the ways that trauma, whether of an individual or a community, is frequently misrepresented and ignored in fantasy narratives.

Artemis, me, and her twin, Stella:

Keynote: Yoon Ha Lee, who is hilarious and intensely brilliant, spoke about gathering much of his inspiration from gaming. While I’m not currently a gamer myself, after this speech, I’m considering exploring games again. Yoon is precisely the kind of writer I want to be someday: poetic, brave, and imaginative. A few of my take-aways:
-       In fiction, make shit as weird and new as possible. Roleplaying has tons of fodder for this.
-       It’s sometimes more fun when characters level down, rather than leveling up.
-       Whenever people ask how to improve their prose, I tell them to read poetry.

Rosemary Clement enjoying Yoon Ha Lee's Keynote.

Rebelling Against the Binary: Gender in Speculative Fiction: [Roundtable]
Moderated by Jessica Corra
Challenging discussion on the ways in which speculative fiction must evolve to continue to revolutionize the way we conceive gender. Overall, I left this discussion agreeing (I think with many) that our society needs more stories where there are 3 genders, 5 genders, 7 gender systems, where characters have choice of gender, or even where gender is absent and people are… wait for it… people.

No Key, No Problem: [Afternoon Class]
Erynn Moss
Um, we learned how to pick locks. My con is cooler than yours.

Also, I can now use a bobby pin to open handcuffs behind my back. !^&%! Here's a picture of our awesome instructor, Erynn:

I had dinner on Friday at Park Meadows food court with a whole bunch of awesome Sirens, many of whom I met that evening. (Thanks, Erynn, for driving us!)

After dinner: Rested for a while and then visited the bookstore and found THIS BEAUTIFUL BOOK with cover art by Terri Windling-Gayton

Darian, Lola, and I stayed up for awhile drinking cocktails and reading poems from The Moment of Change , edited by Rose Lemberg, aloud to one another in the Fireside Lounge. These, dear friends, are the moments I live for.


Infiltrate the Query Pile: [Workshop]
AmyBoggs, Jennifer Udden
These two generous (and funny!) literary agents gave us helpful reminders about how to structure a query for maximum effect. A few of my take-aways:
-Sometimes a query includes marketing language and clich├ęs and that’s okay.
-Do not reveal your ending! If the agent is asking for 50 pages, pitch those.
-All a query really needs to do is get eyes down to the pages.
* Amy Boggs is currently open for queries. Jennifer Udden is currently closed.

Mother of the Revolution: [Panel]
This was my first time presenting at Sirens and I was *nervous*. I’m happy to say I think it went very well. The audience was engaged, supportive, and each panelist was excellent. We discussed representations of mothers in fantasy literature and explored motherhood in relation to writing. My take-aways:
-Most women, whether mothers or care-givers or neither, come up against societal expectations about motherhood at some point in their lives and yet this is a highly personal, complex, and difficult topic.
-There is a deep need for more and better stories about and around pregnancy, motherhood, and agency within fantasy literature.

(photo by Lola Lindle- thanks!)

Generation K: [Panel]
KathrynCottam, Darian Lindle, Lola Lindle, Kate Tremills
Great discussion of how dystopian novels have evolved in the wake of Hunger Games, 9/11, and social media. A few of my take-aways:
-Revolution can’t exist without rebellion.
-Rebels oppose the existing order and this appeals to teens.
-Revolutionaries propose a new order and this may be harder for many young people to identify with, as they struggle with a flood of choices in their own lives.

Keynote: Rae Carson gave a compassionate and inspiring talk on the major obstacles she's faced as a writer. Honestly, there were too many take-aways to post here:      
-Know your mission as an author before you look for an agent.
-“You might never overcome your obstacles, you might carry them with you the rest of your life, and that’s okay. They can cease to be walls and just be something we work with.”
-Luck matters. Shitty luck happens. We move on and through.

The Iconoclastic Revolutionary: [Panel]
Rae CarsonKate Elliott, Andrea J. Horbinkski, Jennifer Michaels, s.e.smith, Jennifer Udden
Another meaningful discussion of how women fighters and revolutionaries are characterized in fantasy lit. Great analysis of the “lone wolf” figure and how/ why women are often held up to masculine models of rebellion.

Female Game-Changers [Roundtable]
Sherwood Smith
Too many wonderful titles were discussed to list here, but I need to say that Sherwood Smith blew me away with her vast knowledge of female centered fantasy literature and culture. She is *amazing*.

Fan Girls: The Art of Fan Language [Afternoon Class]
Sherwood Smith
We played with fans! I made a fool of myself! Fun was had. =)

Darian, Fan Girl:

Lola had the brilliant idea to order pizza to our room were we got to hang out with several kindred spirits. A truly soul satisfying meal.  I need to mention Rosemary Clement again here, because her workshop was full when I tried to attend (argh!), but if you haven’t met her or read her work, well… DO IT. She’s freaking awesome. And Rook Riley, I sure hope I get to see you again next year!

The Insurgent’s Ball:
Alright, I’m out of words. Here, have some pictures:

The Serenity crew!

Slytherin & Ravenclaw:

Mal and Inara:



Aaaaaand so, Sirens 2015 was phenomenal. I definitely missed some friends who were unable to attend this year, but Sirens 2016 is only 12 months away. The next theme is Lovers!
Details will be here.

I've done my best to include accurate links to so many lovely folks, but please let me know if you see any errors or know of some links I couldn't find. Also, let it be noted that I failed to get pictures of SO MANY wonderful people I was able to see and connect with at Sirens this year. Better to live in the moment, but I do care about so many more folks than I could post here. Hope to see you all next year!