Jun 232015

I don’t blog here very often, mostly because I lead a chaotic and over-scheduled life, but, partly at least, because I’m ambivalent about the whole concept of author blogs–the audience building, online community engagement, and marketing strategies that writers are frequently encouraged to employ for the purpose of making one’s voice stand out amongst the ever-increasing din of the modern world. When everyone is speaking at once, author or not, one must inevitably raise one’s voice louder and louder, it seems, in order to be heard, and I, to put it mildly, have little to no interest in a shouting contest that involves a billion other people. I’d prefer to just sit back here at the back of the room, like I’ve always done, and observe the bedlam from a bit of a distance.

Also, although I was something of a political spitfire as a young, piss and vinegar-filled college student, these days I rarely even express political sentiment beyond sometimes reposting the odd meme that catches my eye on Facebook. That isn’t to say I don’t still have my piss and vinegar-fueled, far left political opinions; I just rarely express them outside the confines of my own small circle. Just as with the authorial self-promotion, I don’t really have any strong desire to try spend my days attempting to shout louder than everyone else around me. And let’s face it: honest, sincere political discourse with an eye toward understanding and compromise is dead in this country. Anyone who says differently is trying to sell you something.*

That being said, however, I am a writer, and write I must. I feel the same drive to mark out my little piece of territory (virtual or otherwise) as the next person, and with it comes the desire to not only tell the stories, but to provide some kind of personal context for them—to wrap a little piece of myself up and present it to whomever takes the time to come by and take a look, as it were. These are the truths of the world that I’ve found, collected and kept precious like the box of stones and feathers and bits of metal I collected as a child. These are my fireflies in a jar, the posters on the wall I fall asleep under each night. This is my magic, and this is how I make it.

Mar 052015

It’s 32°F right now outside my window. Yesterday, it was 81°. Twenty-four hours ago  I was wearing shorts and working in my garden; today it started snowing. I know it’s nothing like the shit the Northeast is having to endure, but jeez, I wish spring would just get here already. I’m hanging on, trying to keep myself from falling into the abyss of depression I can never seem to avoid in winter, but I need the sun to come back soon. If I lived in the North, I’d have to be medicated. I’m sure of it.

All I want to do is go back to sleep. Wake me up in May.

Yesterday was spent catching up. On submissions, which had been stacking up for two weeks; on grading my kids’ school work (ditto); and on a thousand other projects I have going at any one time. Growing summer vegetables from seed. Sorting and tagging our mp3 collection. Revising fiction. Finishing the horse paddock. House repairs. Editing the thesis.

Seriously, I could go on and on. Ad nauseum. The problem is, I never know when to stop, and just finish what I’m working on. I have this theory, or habit, or whatever you want to call it, where I keep myself excited and engaged with the world by adding more stuff to do. I spend my days checking off little subtasks that never seem to add up to any one big thing. Or maybe they do, and I’m just so immersed in the ‘doing’ of it that I never take the time to come up for air.

I read somewhere that true gardeners never actually take the time to enjoy their own garden; when they look around all they can see are the flaws, the unfinished beds, the weeding that’s been neglected. I think it’s a very accurate description of my gardening style, but also my life in general.


Feb 162015

Two pieces of wonderful news as I woke up yesterday morning. First, my poem, “The Time of Last Scattering,” which appeared in Star*Line 37.1, has been nominated for a Rhysling Award. It’s a huge honor to be nominated among so many poets I admire. I am truly, absolutely, thrilled by the news.

Second, I learned that my poem, “Robot Love Song,” will appear in an upcoming issue of Ideomancer, a beautiful speculative fiction journal that highlights some really wonderful fiction and poetry. My poem, “Visiting Hours,” is currently live there, along with works by Mary Soon Lee, Bogi Takács, Alexandra Seidel, and others, so go check it out.

This weekend, like every weekend with decent weather and no social or child obligations, was spent working on The Homestead. Much was accomplished: laying out three new vegetable beds, spreading and compacting about twenty fuck-tons* of dirt and limestone to build up the road into the horse paddock and get a handle on the mud problem around the gates; cleaning out one of the three nearly blocked drain culverts on the property, edging and nearly finishing mulch around one of the flower beds. After a couple of months with little or no chance for yardwork, it was welcome, though we were both utterly exhausted at the end of the day.  Still, it was a good kind of tired.

This weekend as I worked, I thought: Writing keeps me sane, but gardening keeps me happy. Maybe it was a childhood spent making mud pies or roaming the forest; maybe it’s my wild imagination that carries me into the woods for night after night of dreams, but for whatever reason, I need to be outdoors as much as possible. I need to be barefoot, with the soft grass beneath my feet and mud between my toes. I need to make things grow in the earth. Otherwise, I just grow increasingly miserable, and nothing will help it.

Currently it’s warm and cloudy outside, the dark, windy weather before storms that I so love. Unfortunately I’m stuck inside today, catching up on all the work I neglected in order to be out there Saturday and Sunday. My office has windows, though, so there’s that.


*This is an actual unit of measure, equal to roughly 10 craploads.


Post title: “Don’t Swallow the Cap” by The National.

Feb 022015

Yesterday morning was a mad dash to beat the rain, as I like to plant new things then to avoid the task of dragging a hose over to water them in. We sort of made it, if you don’t count a couple of short showers and some misty drizzle. The downpours held off until late afternoon, though, so I call it a success. The big accomplishment was putting in the raspberry bed, including the posts and wire trellis to hold the canes. We now have three of this variety: 1 blackberry, 1 muscadine grape, and the aforementioned raspberry. If I can manage to keep them alive, we are in business, berry-wise anyway. While we were out there I also planted the new Anna apple tree, to replace the one that died last year. Barring catastrophes, the vegetable garden goal this year is three more raised beds, bringing the total to eight, not including herbs, the berries, and the orchard. It’s a huge endeavor, this garden, so we’re working on it in stages, because otherwise we’d do nothing but that for months on end, and that sort of thing is just impossible around here.

The big writing news is that, after working all afternoon and half the evening (thanks to the Loml getting everyone out of the house for a few hours in the afternoon), I finally have a complete working draft of my master’s thesis. Including the short stories, it comes in at 112 pages, which is REALLY long for a master’s, but the stories go where they go. Now all that’s left is a couple of months of revision, my defense, and getting through this semester’s workshop class, and I’ll graduate in May. I’m so relieved; I’d really started to think that I wasn’t going to make it this semester either, and the thought of dragging this already-two-years-overdue degree out any further is almost more than I can bear. The work caused me to miss the deadline for this week’s Codex Weekend Warrior flash story, which sucked, but there’s only 24 hours to work with. As it was I didn’t make it to bed till 1, sleep till 1:30.

Onward, excelsior, etc.

*The title of this week’s poem, and maybe a short story.

Jan 122015

The Lorelei Signal has published my short story, “Pattern, Piece, Block, Stitch” complete with an illustration by the wonderful Marge Simon. Check it out here.

Jan 022015

Or so I hope, anyway. I’m due to finish up my master’s degree this spring, after almost four years and countless hours of work, anxiety, and stress. The only real thing standing in my way now is the critical introduction to my creative thesis. I should have finished it long ago, but, if I’ve learned one thing from this experience, it’s that academic writing is not where my heart lies. Getting this thing out and down on paper is like pulling teeth, for lack of a more creative simile. I’m determined, however, to practice the BIC philosophy this weekend and get a draft I can send on to my committee next week.

January looks to be interesting, to say the least, as in addition to thesis work and a fiction workshop, I’ve also signed up for a weekly flash fiction challenge at an online writer’s community where I’m a member. Prompt on Friday, story due by Sunday evening. Despite the (added) stress I think it will be good for me, however, as I’m a born and bred procrastinator. Sometimes the only thing that keeps me honest is a deadline.

Cold and gray outside, the kind of weather that makes me dream of daffodils. The next two months will be tough to get through.

Dec 302014


So the weatherman says we won’t see the sun again until at least January 15th. Not good news to someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder every year. I’m looking into light therapy, and taking extra vitamin D, which I’m hopeful will help. The last two years haven’t been very bad, but I’ve already had one major anxiety attack and we’re only a week into the season. Not off to a great start. I feel myself dreading contact with other people, and that’s not a good sign.

Yesterday I started a project to clean, organize, and put away the Christmas decorations in boxes labeled by room. Putting things in order almost always helps my mood. Today I’ll continue with that, as well as get a couple of pages done on my thesis, which is wildly overdue. I think it’s one of the things contributing to my current reluctance to write fiction–the guilt I feel because of not finishing the damn thing. Once I get it out of the way maybe I’ll be able to move on.

What I really want is to be outside, digging in the warm earth, tending my plants and vegetable garden; sitting quietly, feeling myself diffuse into the natural world.

Oh, well. At least I have windows.

Nov 172014

Just a few years ago I didn’t even have a “to do” list. Now I have so many bullshit little tiny details to take care of on a daily basis that I need one; multiple, in fact. My life is eaten away by the tiny bullshit details. Part of me hates it, and part of me understands that this whole delicate, crystalline structure of a life I’ve created is what I wanted, and the tiny bullshit details are the necessary evil that keeps the whole damned thing glued together.  The inordinate amount of my time it takes to deal with it all every day is damned annoying, though.

At some point you just realize that it’s all relative, I guess. Without all of this I’d no doubt still be whining; complaining that it was too quiet and lonely and the environment was in some way inadequate. I’m a complainer.

Random factoid: The Anglo-Saxons called the native Britons ‘Wielisc’ or ‘foreigner.’ Which is interesting because the AS were actually the foreigners, technically speaking. Eventually it became our word Welsh. What was left of them was driven into Wales, Cornwall, and Southern Scotland. I have sort of a nineteenth century romantic fascination with them, I’ll admit. Though maybe they were never wiped out at all.

Maybe I’ll try to learn Gaelic when I get out of prison.

Cold again. Winter is come early this year. This doesn’t bother me terribly; for us it’s more of a long autumn. The land is beautiful as it falls asleep. What I end up hating is late January, most of February. From my point of view winter should end after Christmas. I’m almost insane by the time March comes around every year.

Don’t feel like writing. Anything. This is what graduate school does to your soul.

Nov 132014

Because he lost  so much goddamned history, and I’m a history girl, you know.  Most people don’t give much thought to things that happened 500 years ago. Me? That shit haunts my dreams.


Cold, really cold, today. The first freeze of the season arrives after sunset. Later, after I’ve run around covering the tender perennials with frost cloths and finished stowing ferns in the garage for the night, I’ll say goodbye to the garden, tuck her in for the long winter’s nap. It’s always bittersweet for me; on the one hand, the cycles of the seasons are so beautiful, and necessary, but on the other, I never like saying goodbye, even if it’s only temporary. The butterfly garden is especially hard to take. This year it really took off, and not a day went by when we didn’t have several different species flitting around.

A couple of sales to announce this week. The Lorelei Signal has accepted “Pattern, Piece, Block, Stitch,” my story about the Fates set in the South. I’m glad it’s finally found a home, as it’s been bouncing around in slush pile land for a while now.

The other sale was my poem “Terra Firma,” which was accepted for the “Summer is Dead” issue of Goblin Fruit. I love, love, love Goblin Fruit–each issue is carefully constructed around a theme, and the poetry is always just gorgeous. This issue features work by Schweta Narayan (one of the co-editors of the equally brilliant/beautiful Stone Telling), Mari Ness, C.S.E. Cooney, and Andrea Lam, among others. I received the acceptance on Friday and the issue went live on Monday, which was a happy bonus.

Tonight will be long, working on fiction and then trying my best to catch up on homework for my class in Old English Grammar & Literature. I should probably do the homework first, since a quiz is scheduled for tomorrow, but I haven’t been able to write fiction in days, and I’m starting to feel it scratch at my insides with those long, sharp claws. A pain that I’m used to.

After the cut, some recent photos from the soon-to-be-asleep butterfly garden:

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