Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dancing My Cares Away

It always amazes me how, even on the worst days, a ballet class can always clear the mind.  The world is chaotic and confusing, the house payment is due, another rejection letter arrived, you're tired, anxious, stressed... and then you go to class.  

It starts with the simplest of movements, basic bending, turning, shaping your body in time with the music, reminding your muscles where they belong, giving both the mind and body a set task to perform.  I find I am never more single-minded than when I am dancing.  Even when I write, there are distractions, thoughts that steal in to rob me of motivation, of confidence, of drive.  Dancing is different.  Thoughts come, but they only drift on the surface.  They don't matter.  They don't linger.  They are petty things.  All that matters is the next jump, the next turn.  Yes, I stumble, fall short.  There is physical pain, there is the effort of reaching for a perfection that is never attained.  But there is also the rush of feeling your body working, of achieving something which, though not perfection, is more than you attained before.  There is the exultation you feel at the height of a jump, when, for just a moment, you feel like you can fly.  And, best of all, when you perform, there is that second of silence.  The dance has ended, the music stopped, and there is just a breath of silence before the applause begins.  That is best of all.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Today, as an after-Christmas treat, I have fled Chewelah in favor of the anonymity offered by the local metropolis.  Protected by this anonymity, I can write undisturbed for several hours without being distracted either by familiar faces or by the variety of household chores which I ought to be doing.

The setting is important: the Chocolate Apothecary, a coffee shop specializing in gourmet chocolate, where you can find such gems as dark chocolate tiles with sea salt and ginger, or chocolate-covered passion-fruit caramels.  It was here that I discovered the surprisingly delicious paring of dark chocolate with wasabi.  More importantly, it is quiet, with a good variety of background music, a high table in the corner, and cappuccinos offered in real cups to go with the chocolate of your choice.  It is the perfect place to forget about real life and focus on whatever other life you are currently inventing.

I have one hour left on my parking meter.  So back to the novel I go.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

I suspect this will be my last post before Christmas, because I fully intend to be deliciously lazy this weekend.  Making dinner tonight for some of the family, then spending Christmas Eve with Aaron's family and Christmas day with mine.  It's helpful that we live right between the two -- just under half an hour either direction, even in the snow.  By the way, so happy to have a real white Christmas this year, after last year's grey drizzliness.

I have yet to wax very religious or political on this blog, and I don't really intend to start now, at least not from a persuasive point of view, because I am not arrogant enough to suppose that my beliefs and opinions should automatically be foisted off on everyone else.  I think and believe them, obviously, and care very much about them, but I hope I am respectful enough of everyone else to realize that they care very much about what they think and believe as well.  I am also of the opinion that action should come before words.  I have found too many people perfectly willing to try to convince others to become like themselves, when they were about the last people I would wish to become like.  However, in case anyone was wondering... in the instance of faith, I am a Protestant-Catholic morph-child, of both worlds and of neither.  In all honesty, I don't think God cares so much what you call yourself as long as it's really Him you're serving.  (One of my favorite quotes: "Giving God good advice and abusing the devil isn't praying.")  As far as politics are concerned, I am an independent.  Yes, I voted for Obama, knowing he was a man and not a god.  In my opinion, Sarah Palin is an insult to all intelligent women. You won't offend me by wishing me Happy Holidays, if I know you're Jewish I'll say Happy Hanukkah, and I hope you won't be offended with me if I'm uncertain of your beliefs and wish you Merry Christmas out of habit.

In any case, now that that's all been said, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and thanks to everyone who comes back to read this blog even when I go off on tangents.  Cheers!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Finally things are starting to move on the new project.  I always go through a phase after I finish one thing and before I start another, when I start thinking I will never be able to write again.  I should be used to it by now.  I guess it makes sense.  I spent three years with Anna and Perry, the Bertrams and the Beauforts, learning their stories and figuring out how to tell them.  Now I have to get to know a whole new set of characters.  I finally feel like I had a breakthrough last night though.  I was about to drift off to sleep when it came.  ALWAYS keep scraps of paper and an assortment of pens on the nightstand.

Now I think I can make some headway, and it's all thanks to Jenny.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Life as a Novel

I like to think of life as a novel.  You write it, in a way, as you would a novel.  It has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  It's full of wacky characters, some of whom are so unique that if you wrote them into actual fiction no one would find them believable.  You choose whether to be the protagonist of your own life, or to stand by as a supplementary character while somebody else commands the stage and directs the course of the story.  You can be the hero or the villain, or merely a sidekick or flunky.  You may create an outline, but more often than not, the plot changes as the characters grow and change.  (At least, this regularly happens to me.  I do know some people who keep strictly to their outlines, but my characters nearly always change their minds about what they want to do at the last moment without consulting me.  And they are generally right.)

As in a novel, there are things that might happen, things that perhaps should have happened, things that you regret, but the trick is to make what does happen the best, the most satisfying it can be, even if, or especially if, it pulls at the heartstrings a little.

Most importantly, I think, you choose how the novel is written.  The same basic plot can be interpreted in so many different way.  It is because of the genius of Charles Dickens that the end of A Tale of Two Cities is a triumphant one.  Had he written it differently but kept the basic story the same, Sidney's death could have been a pointless thing, one more pointless tragedy in a particularly messy time in human history.  As it is, it is one of the most triumphant moments in literature, which actually makes it more heartbreaking.

Just a thought.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas) - Philippe Rombi - I'm Dreaming of Home

A beautiful song from my favorite Christmas film, Joyeux Noel, based on the true stories of soldiers on the Western front who laid down arms on Christmas Eve, 1914. Definitely the most human film I've seen. Watch it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I just realized that I used "actually" three times in one paragraph in my last post.  I must blame this tragic redundancy on the fact that I was in a great hurry yesterday.  Beyond that I have no excuse.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reanimated Rags

 So, my latest notion is the reinvention of secondhand clothing, which is actually getting some fairly decent feedback, and I actually sold a jacket today to someone who thought I should have charged more than twenty dollars for it, which was pretty sweet.  My biggest fear was that people would look at them and think, "Old clothes, why?" but people actually seemed to like them.  I'm calling them "Reanimated Rags" because that's what they are... also because I have a thing for alliteration.  The next step will be to put some up on Etsy, or at least I think that's where I'm going with it.  I'd like to put up some of the ballet costumes I've been working on too, but we'll see.  It seems arrogant in a way, because I'm really an amateur when it comes to sewing, but I am decently creative and people seem to like what I come up with, so... why not?
The jacket that sold.  It was a great color and fabric, but kind of frumpy with shoulder pads.  I ripped out the shoulder pads and cut big gashes in it which I filled with pink satin from an atrocious pare of pajamas.
This one I actually made in its entirety, so it's not really a rag.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another Day, Another Rejection Letter

When my sister was little, I remember my dad telling her that she couldn't call herself a real horsewoman until she had fallen off at least thirteen times.  She, therefore, began to keep a running total until one day she proudly announced that she had had her thirteenth fall and was now a real horsewoman.

I guess I've always thought of rejection letters the same way, that maybe there's some magic number, only I don't know what it is.  This attitude saved me from a great deal of distress when I started submitting my childish manuscripts to editors and agents at the age of twelve, but is a little less comforting now than it was.  Of course, a great deal depends on the style of the rejection.  Of course form rejections are the worst, but there are nice form rejections that try to say, "we don't think it's for us, but maybe someone else will like it" and  then there are the ones that just seem to say (in a polite way) "we just don't like it and you should give up now".  Luckily, the one I got today was one of the former.  Very nice without sugar-coating anything, which I also can't stand.

The worst rejection letter I ever received was in the check-box format.  There was a list of reasons why they might not like a manuscript (not right for the list, badly written, spelling mistakes, etc.) with little boxes next to them.  No signature, nothing.  At least I didn't get the "badly written" box.

So thank-you to the agent who sent today's rejection, for being kind.  Also for being fairly prompt and not leaving me on tenterhooks for months.  I really do appreciate it.  Now on to that magic number.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Inconvenienced by an All-Too-Convenient World

Okay, I'm all for modern conveniences.  Hot water from the tap is a lovely thing, obviously I use the internet, and Klondike Bars are wonderful, though I'm not too keen on microwaves, because they make the food taste, well, microwavy.  However, I find that modern conveniences get in my way.  They make things so easy that it seems foolish not to use them, and they're always there, screeching at you with their shrill little voices whenever you're trying to do something the old-fashioned way.  But do they really make things so much easier?  Wouldn't my novel progress faster if I were restricted to pen and paper without the distractions of email, ballet videos on YouTube, and, face it, this blog?  I used to write letters much more often.  I like the feel of real paper, the sound of the pen scratching away, the ink that leaves smudges on my hands (and, inevitably, my face and arms as well).  But email is so fast, so easy.  I also have really dreadful handwriting and email saves my friends the trial of trying to decipher it.  And that quickly I am talked out of writing the real letter in favor of the more convenient option.

I've always rather enjoyed power outages.  It forces one to slow down, to think, to be inventive, to read a book by candle-light.  I remember as a child helping my parents haul water from the well during power outages, or, in the winter, melting snow on the stove to drink.  I have rose-tinted memories of kerosine lamps, of cooking over the wood fire.  Perhaps it wasn't really so wonderful.  Perhaps it was. But it always made me feel empowered, independent, refreshed.  I have known people who actually chose to forego plumbing in favor of a wash-tub in the kitchen and an outhouse.  I am not in favor of such a step.  I am not planning to cast off the shackles of the modern world and retreat to a cave in the hills, at least not at this time.  But I may occasionally shake cream in a jar to make butter, just to prove that I can.  Surely the goal is not to be bound at all, not to modernity, not to the past... to be whole in oneself, with the elements of the world around you only aiding you as they might.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The snow has stopped and it is a clear blue morning.  These are my favorite days of winter.  I love the sunlight sparkling on the high snowbanks, and the contrast between blue sky and white snow.  And it is a free day, a day for us to do what we please, to stay inside with books and hot chocolate, or to tramp for miles through the cold, clear, blue and white world if we wish.  I refuse to think about the week to come today, the necessity for driving anywhere, or such mundane things as wet clothing and heating bills.  'Tis a glorious day and I mean to enjoy it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Portrait of the Author as a House-Frau

Hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the first time this year.  Fun!

Good times with friends and family.

And they washed up!

Monday, November 22, 2010

So, I recently unearthed a partially completed manuscript, abandoned a number of years ago.  It was the last manuscript I wrote by hand, which would explain why it survived the tragic deaths of two laptops which perished during that time, taking other half-baked ideas with them.  (I really must learn from my mistakes and save back-up copies.)

I know enough now to realize that the story would never survive the publishing world of today.  The protagonist is entirely too contented, the setting too picturesque, and I have a feeling that ragged-yet-cheerful gypsies with hurdy-gurdys and hearts of gold are on their way out as popular characters.  It makes absolutely no sense to finish it, and no doubt that's why I abandoned it at the time... but there's something in it, a freshness and innocence, that I can't help wanting to recapture, and I think the characters are impatient with me for not finishing their stories.  I may have to complete it anyway, if only for its own sake.  And you never know... 

I did recently stumble across a novel at the dollar store, which manages to smash together about five genres somehow, as well as ripping off the plots of at least three popular novels at once, with healthy doses of time-travel, sex, kilts, and rock 'n' roll, not to mention poor writing.  Yes, I might be a little bitter, but somebody published it!  Yes, it was at the dollar store, but first somebody had to read it and think, "This is good stuff.  Let's print it!"

So perhaps it means there is hope for me after all.  Or it means I shall have to resort to writing bodice-rippers to pay the bills.  Or I shall keep my dignity and work at Flowery Trail until I die.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


There is a place I go in my mind when life becomes too much, too complicated, too busy.  There is a bare stone floor, a blazing fire, and me.  Beyond, I think there are no walls, for it feels open to the world, but I have never looked.  It doesn't matter.  I am alone with stone and fire -- at peace, unafraid.

There are probably some who will read this and think I'm crazy.  Others, I think, will know exactly what I'm talking about.

Friday, November 19, 2010


We had our first valley snow today.  For over a week I've been watching the snow line creep down the mountains, and today it came to us.  I walked to work at 5:30 this morning in the dark as usual, but did so with soft little white flakes dancing around me and sparkling under the streetlights.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


My bread dough is rising on the counter, filling the house with its warm, yeasty smell.  I love making bread -- kneading it, watching it grow, cutting into the fresh loaves and watching them steam.  People always seem surprised to learn that I still bake at home after baking at work every day, but it's really a very different thing.  At work I always bake the same thing, or at least a variation of the same thing, in a designated amount in a certain way.  Even though I enjoy it, the creative aspect is almost completely lost.  Besides, I am at heart a flinger.  I rarely measure things, and like deciding to change things at the last minute.  Like Aaron's birthday cake.  I knew I wanted cream cheese frosting, then at the last minute discovered a mini Bailey's in the liquor cabinet.  Turns out cream cheese frosting is tasty but cream cheese frosting with Bailey's is fantastic.  My last-minute ideas don't always work so well, and I have had to throw things out before, but it's all part of the fun of the thing.  I went through a childhood faze when I would get up very early in the morning before anyone else and go into the kitchen to "experiment".  I think I did it early in the morning at least partly because if my parents knew what I was going to do they would stop me.  Also, I always had a grand sort of notion that I was going to create a masterpiece and surprise everyone. My mother never tried to put an end to this that I can remember, I think because she is herself a very creative person, and she didn't know how to put an halt to my culinary escapades without also squashing my creativity. So I would tiptoe into the kitchen nearly every morning and play with ingredients.  Sometimes the things were palatable, and sometimes I was forced to try to dispose of them before anyone found out.  On one particularly memorable occasion I recall having just heard that putting apple sauce in cake would make it moist.  Therefore, feeling that I could not possibly go wrong, I proceeded to bake a large cake that was approximately half apple sauce, with a very minimal amount of flour.  My long-suffering family, after this, suggested that perhaps I limit the size of my "experiments" in future.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Odds and Ends

It's a chilly day with more than a touch of winter in it, but it's warm inside and every so often the sun breaks through the clouds and shines through the red curtains, making the room glow and bringing out little iridescent lights in the tulle I'm working with.  My workday was shorter than usual today, so I've spent the morning since my return sewing.  Later I'm driving out to my parents', ostensibly to pick up my piano music, since I now have an instrument to play it on, but really to take a walk in the Autumn woods and sit on the rug by the fire with my mother and pretend to be a little girl again.  It's not far to drive, less than half an hour, and it will give Gerry his exercise.

Gerry is my faithful automobile.  He is a 1990 Buick Regal, who was previously owned by a smoky old man who drove him nowhere but back and forth from the casino until the day he died, and whose presence is still palpable in spite of a string of air-fresheners.  His driver's side door no longer opens from the outside, and thus getting in requires a certain amount of creativity, not to mention flexibility.  He is generally cranky first thing, and doesn't like to shift into second gear until he's warmed up a little.  For all these reasons his name is short for Geriatric.  But he consistently runs in spite of frequently threatening death, and he gets through ice and snow in the winter better than any other car I've driven in spite of not having four-wheel-drive, which is usually a necessity around here.  Basically, he is a small tank.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Remedy for a Bad Day

I'm somewhat ashamed to state that I've been rather grumpy lately, the combined result of a cough which refuses to leave me in peace even after a month and another form rejection which arrived recently.  En route home after work today I realized that this must stop.  Eight years ago I was in the midst of a stint of chemotherapy, had lost my hair and had two life-threatening allergic reactions to the drugs that were supposed to keep my immune system strong.  Yet I remember that being one of the most peaceful times of my life.  Weird, no?  People talk about living for the moment, but you never realize what that means until the moment really is all you have.  Somehow, at sixteen I was able to place my future, my life or my death, in the hands of God, and enjoy what I had.  Shakespeare was right, "the readiness is all".  Life or death, to be ready for either... and when I found out it was to be life, it was almost harder to get used to, because I'd all but forgotten how to plan for the future.  And now I get myself out of sorts because of a cough and the whims of a literary agent I've never met.  Have I forgotten?  Not entirely.  I still enjoy the simple things.  I still weave my life into a fairy tale of my own creation, and if the villains are a little darker, well, the heroes are a little brighter, for what is the measure of a hero if not the strength of the foes he has vanquished.  It is only a little harder sometimes to remember, so I am making a list of good things about today.

1.  The weather.  It's the end of Autumn.  You can feel the approach of snow.  The Mountain Ash berries are so bright they almost glow.  

2.  The patch of Sweet Alysium I found under a hedge on my walk home, still fresh and sweet-smelling after all this cold weather.

3.  My iTunes playlist... an interesting mix of Simon and Garfunkel, Giori, Beats Antique, The Weepies, The Killers, Jeremy Fisher,  Duke Special, John Tams and others, along with selections from Blood Brothers, Phantom of the Opera, and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode, Once More With Feeling.

4.  My delicious mug of tea, and the slice of birthday cake left over from Aaron's birthday party last night.

5.  Last night's birthday party belongs here too, even if it's not technically part of today.  Good times with great people.

6.  The cough, while still in evidence, did not wake me up at all last night.  Hurrah for a good night's sleep!

7.  My wonderful husband, lovely parents, and excellent sister, not to mention a whole parcel of friends, near and far, who make life interesting at all times.

8.  The new novel, which is finally coming together in my mind.

9.  Elephants!  Even if there aren't any nearby, just the fact that such a creature exists makes me happy.  Same with giraffes.

10.  Ballet class tonight.

11.  The fact that my moody spell seems to have evaporated.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Customer Service

After more than five years in food and beverage service I have to say, it's not as easy as most people seem to think.  It's also more rewarding.  There's a mixture of science and art to making a good latte, but that's only the first of a number of skills necessary for being a good barista, and certainly the easiest to define.  Here are a few more.

1.  Cheerfulness (preferably genuine).  You are often the first person the customer sees in the morning outside their immediate family.  They are tired and grouchy.  Sometimes they have bed-head.  Often they mumble incoherently.  They NEED COFFEE.  Always important to remember that you are supplying an addiction.  If you give them good coffee and smile while doing it, they will love you forever.  If you don't, they may come and kill you in your sleep.

2.  A good poker face.  They may have just ordered the most disgusting combination of flavors you've ever heard of.  They might smell like they haven't washed in several months.  That old man's tasteless joke was most definitely not as funny as he thought it was.  The elderly woman just snapped her fingers and yelled, "Ma'am!" at you from across the room.  Yet your countenance must betray no hint of what you're feeling.

3.  Intuition.  Sometimes a customer will not know what they are ordering.  Sometimes they try to sound like they know when they don't.  It is up to you to figure this out, without making them feel stupid for not knowing. Example: Preteen girl orders "espresso".  You know she doesn't want a straight shot of espresso in a cup.  But it really would be rude to laugh.  So you smile and ask, "what size would you like?".  If she says 20 oz, you know you're on the right track, because the shots it would take to fill a 20 oz cup would probably make her little heart explode in her chest.  So then you ask if she wants any flavor.  "Ummm, yeah, chocolate, and can you add caramel?  And can you make it blended, with whipped cream?"  Last question.  "How many shots of espresso would you like?"  "Umm, one."  So there you have it.  "Espresso" has turned into a 20 oz blended caramel mocha with whipped cream.

4.  Creativity. When people don't know what they want, often the best thing to do is tell them.  Invent something so delicious they'll never have to wonder what to order again.  

5.  A thick skin.  Here I must state that nine out of ten customers I deal with are splendid, polite, wonderful people.  But there is always that one.  The one who is never pleased, who constantly makes unreasonable demands, who treats you like something sub-human -- some machine which exists solely to dispense coffee.  And there's generally nothing to do but take it -- and mimic it to your friends later, which does actually help.  Also, a side note to #5, owing to a growing number of "bikini stands" and "barista babe" Halloween costumes, it has become fairly commonplace to frequent coffee shops with the purpose of ogling the girls.  This is rarely, if ever, pleasant for the person being ogled, especially when accompanied by creepy remarks or invitations to join the ogler at their "ranch".  Of course, I am not referring to harmless flirtation, which is just that, but there is a huge difference between appreciation and the drooling of a lech.  How to deal with this sort of situation has to be figured out on a case by case basis.  Sometimes you can laugh it off, treating the whole thing as a huge joke.  Sometimes the only solution is to turn on what my sister calls "Ice Queen".

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Had a perfectly horrid dream last night.  It's already beginning to fade, so I'm grateful for that, but I remember running away, running in fear from someone I had liked and trusted.

I don't have frightening dreams very often.  As a child, I did sometimes dream that my blankets had turned into snakes, and that was terrifying, but generally my dreams were just amusing and adventurous, or strange, like the recurring dream I had for years that I was falling from the top of our bunk bed.  I never fell more than halfway down, and then I would suddenly bounce back to the top and fall again, like a yo-yo.  It would go on like that for what seemed like hours, and was always kind of fun and soothing.  I also had dreams fairly regularly that involved being lost in a large old house, or sometimes a castle, with a group of friends.  We were generally on a quest of some kind, and sometimes followed, but it always felt more exciting and adventurous than scary.

I will go for months at a time without remembering any of my dreams, and then I will have a string of them all at once, very vivid and strange.  For the last week or so it's been the latter.  I don't really go in for dream analysis.  I don't spend considerable time wondering what it means when I dream that a friend was sent a pink cupcake for mother's day, or a king died and left his daughters scrunchies which they were commanded to wear every day for the rest of their lives.  There are times when I wonder a little... like when I had recurring cancer dreams the year before I was diagnosed.  Then I dream about sledding to work and stopping to order Dutch Babies (the breakfast food, not infants from Holland) on the way at a phone hanging from a tree, and once again I discount meaning entirely.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


The dancers of American Ballet theatre are visiting Cuba for the first time since 1960, to honor ballet legend Alicia Alonso, who still directs the Cuban National Ballet at the age of 90.  I've attached a link to an article.  I love seeing this, artists going where politicians fear to tread.  In Alicia Alonso's own words:

"We need beauty inside, we need peace inside of us, I think through art.  The more we advance, the more necessary it is, and the more we can touch each other -- if not the same language, at least the same feeling of humanity."

This from a woman who danced into her seventies in spite of being nearly blind, and does more to promote relations between Cuba and America than a legion of diplomats.  I can think of no better example of the triumph of the human spirit.

American dancers in homage to Cuban ballet legend - Entertainment -

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallow's Eve

This will be the first year of my life when I've lived in a place at all accessible to trick-or-treaters, and we've loaded up on candy for the purpose, so I hope some will come, or Aaron and I shall be forced to eat it all ourselves.  Ah, the torture!

Costume party at Sporty's last night.  I have to say, crowded bars are not usually my scene.  I mean, I like going out for drinks and fun, but could dispense with the lack of breathing room and the necessity of yelling in order to be heard.  However, the annual Costume Party at Sporty's is my exception.  Sometimes it seems like the whole town comes, and it's always fun to see the costumes everyone chooses.

I prefer, "All Hallow's Eve" to "Halloween", I guess because it has more of an old-world feel to it, and makes me think of bonfires lit on the hills, and warmth, laughter and dancing, earth and air and growing things, and mystery.  "Halloween" makes me think of fake spider's webs and department stores that smell like plastic, and latex, and spandex, and fear.  All Hallow's Eve, All Soul's Night, the night before All Saint's day.  Mystery, not fear.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Convalescent Reading

Yes, fighting off the plague is an irritating bore, but to look at it from a different angle, it's also an opportunity to do some neglected reading.  My reading list has a way of growing faster than I can manage, though that does prevent me from ever running out of reading material.

The latest gem has been on my mental list for a while, and today I finally picked it up.  The Interesting Narrative, by Olaudah Equiano, first published in 1745, is a beautiful, painful autobiography.  He tells his story from his childhood in Africa and his kidnapping at the age of eleven, through his adulthood and his service as the slave of an officer in the British Navy.  He eventually bought his freedom, and spent the rest of his life working for the abolition of the slave trade.  He writes with a lovely clarity and attention to detail, making his descriptions, particularly those of conditions on board slave ships, particularly heartbreaking.  We read it now, when the slave trade is, at least in most places, no more than a shameful blot on our past, but he wrote it at a time when it was accepted and condoned by all but a few.  It is a book that everyone should read once.  I've posted a link to the Amazon page for it below for curious parties.

On a side note, I cut my finger at work this morning, on jam of all things.  How does one cut one's finger on jam?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Recollections on a Rainy Day

This will be a short post, as I spent most of the day crafting query letters to send to literary agents, and my brain is fried to that degree that only a walk in the rain can save it now.

This time of the year always makes me feel close to my childhood.  Chilly autumn days gathering firewood; evenings curled up in the couch-corner reading Lloyd Alexander, Elizabeth Goudge, or Susan Cooper, and imagining myself into far away places...  I was always a fairly contented child.  My mother remembers that I could spend hours by myself playing with bobby pins.  I remember it very well too.  I nearly always pretended they were keys -- magic keys that could open any door.  I would unlock all the doors and go through and have adventures.  We never had many toys growing up, but I can't remember ever really caring, so long as there were books and bobby pins.  The only exception, I remember, is a secret longing I had for a Chia Pet, so that I could cut it's hair off and have it grow again.

Strange how books from childhood stay with you.  For me, at certain times of year, I always feel compelled to re-visit certain favorites -- Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Gard in the Autumn, Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising in Midwinter... Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda at any time of year.

I want to be that kind of writer.  The kind people keep coming back to.  George MacDonald said, "I do not write for children, but for the childlike, whether of five or fifty or seventy-five."  The best books are the ones we keep coming back to, no matter how our lives change or how we age or mature.

But now the rain is calling.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I think it just as well to mention that I do actually have a children's book available.  My mother and I self-published it a few years ago -- and learned a number of sticky things about self-publishing in the process.  As far as the book itself goes, I'm still rather fond of it, and my mom's illustrations are fantastic.  Here is the link, for anyone who might be interested:

On a side note, I bought a magazine today in the grocery store on the way home from work, simply for the delightful reason that its recipe section was titled "Ambrosial Fare".

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Foiled Intentions

I had every intention of sitting down today and writing something profound.  Then, every semblance of profundity fled my mind.  Now I am left with the chilly knowledge that all I have to write about is the fact that my Jane Austen action figure has lost her torso.  I imagine she was hacked in half by one of Seth Grahame-Smith's zombies.

The new novel is progressing quite slowly, though I like to think that's because it's still in the developmental, thinking stage at present.  The old (meaning finished in February) novel is still in the peddling stage, and probably will be for some time.  Hoping to get it sent out to a batch of agents sometime in the next couple of weeks.

So, nothing profound at this time, but I'm still getting used to this.  I can't seem to figure out why my words keep getting broken in half at the ends of lines.  In any case, it's a work in progress.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Mandatory First Post

The first post is an odd thing.  Do I introduce myself, assuming there's someone reading this who cares?  Or do I just jump in right in the middle of something?  I think I'd like to start by saying something about Chewelah. After all, it is my hometown, and I have hundreds of  reasons to love it... and sometimes to hate it as well.  I mean, it's great to have people wave at you or stop to say hi in the grocery store, but it's less nice to have them comment on everything in your basket.

"Oohh! Someone likes cheese.  I used to love cheese, but I can't eat it any more because..." The rest will be left to the imagination of the reader.

Chewelah truly is a beautiful place though.  From my study window now, I can see all the autumn colors and look out across the valley to Quartzite on the far side.  And it's quiet and peaceful.  Altogether a wonderful place to live for an aspiring novelist, and my job at Flowery Trail Coffeehouse gives me an endless supply of character ideas.

I've spent too long setting up this blog now.  It's a lovely, bright autumn day and a walk is in order before ballet class tonight.  But first, I'm hungry.  Maybe cheese...