Belated Merry Beltane to you, and welcome to issue #19 of my quarterly newsletter, e-mailed to subscribers in May 2016.
A Messenger Traveling Northward
In an early fifteenth-century address to a messenger given by Dubhthach Mac Eochadha entitled A theachtaire théid bhu thuaidh (O messenger who goes northwards) and recorded in the Leabhar Cloinne Aodha Buidhe, the messenger is instructed to pass on exactly what is told to him, not missing a word. This means that Dubhthach Mac Eochadha would have recited his message, and the messenger would have learned it by heart. (Literacy in Medieval Celtic Societies, 251) Such was the way of these things, that a messenger would have been required to learn the messages he carried, just as poetry was largely an oral tradition during this time, since few members of...more
"Her name is Alejandra Maria Yaotl, and she is desperate to squat here, in this ribbon of grass between armies, to defecate. But her knees do not permit squatting, and she knows the desperation is only a great, killing mass in her bowels making demands of the failing body it consumes from the inside out, a little more every day. So she walks; strands of white hair blowing about her eyes, bent spine unable to straighten, papery hand gripping the rough wooden knob of a cane. The punishing sun shines down on a spill of engine oil, a pool of chlorophyl, a gob of intestine crushed into the soil. Behind, there is a shuttle with a weeping grandson at the helm who begged her to stay home and die in peace. Ahead, there are the towering gates of a city-state that teaches its people how to...more
Aaron Pound of Dreaming About Other Worlds has offered the most comprehensive review to date of The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales. Among other things, he writes:
"At a mere eighty-two pages, this collection ends much too soon. C.S. MacCath's short stories have a raw and almost visceral feel that hones directly into the travails and triumphs of everyday life, casting light onto the ways in which those living such lives might turn to Pagan spirituality to help guide them through their days. The poems, on the other hand, display a...more
I've just received my official acceptance letter for a PhD in Folklore from the Memorial University of Newfoundland. I've been waiting to blog about this news until it was official, though I've known for about a month that the Folklore department was offering me a place in the program. And while it isn't done to publicly disclose the financial details of one's award package, I'm pleased to write that I've been offered a fellowship, for which I'm most grateful.
I'll be researching intersections and divergences between Western European 'Celtic' Paganism and traditional Celtic and Gaelic cultures. As a longtime Pagan and Gaelic learner, I've long felt tension between these two branches of the same cultural tree, and I want to look at them more closely. My supervisor has already...more
I'm seeing quite a bit of soldiering on among my writing colleagues and friends right now, and I thought I'd share this little poem with you all in solidarity. It isn't terribly polished or suitable for submission anywhere, but I wrote it in one of my own soldiering on moments this week.
Hang in there, friends.
Hush, monster. I am working.
And sit over there, if you please.
There is little enough space in this room,
and you sprawl unconscionably.
If I can sit in this corner, with my small lamp, and write
until night falls, at last, across my attic window -
and if there is music enough to drown the drone of your breath,
that might be enough, might just be enough.
I know you're hungry, and I know that you exist on one food alone,
but I've already fed you so much, and you are too fat now.
Can you not sit over there in the long shadows and lurk awhile?
I'm getting to the good part.
If you've been thinking about writing for the Dispatches from the Word Mines series, now is a great time. In terms of general parameters, I have few. I ask that you be working in your craft and have something to contribute to a conversation about writing, whether it be instructional or promotional. I also want a bio and any associated images you'd like added to the post. I don't mind the occasional bit of colourful language, and I don't mind publishing instructional or promotional posts containing adult content (I'd shy away from hardcore pornography, but writing about or promoting erotic fiction is just fine). Finally, I can't use posts about fictional religions right now (I've published quite a few of those already), and the Dispatches series really isn't the...more
Dispatches from the Word Mines is an irregular blog series about literature and writing from the perspective of writers themselves. This entry comes to us from Nina Munteanu, an award-winning Canadian ecologist and novelist. In addition to eight published novels, she has authored short stories, articles and non-fiction books, which have been translated into several languages throughout the world. She is currently an editor of European zine Europa SF and writes for Amazing Stories. Nina teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Her latest book “Water Is…” (due in Spring 2016 by Pixl Press) is a non-fiction examination of the meaning of water. In this second installment of a two-part dispatch, she discusses intersections between ecology, women, and science fiction. Many thanks, Nina!
I've been interviewed by Clare O'Connor for the January 2016 edition of Eastword, a printed publication of the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia.
I've been shoveling my way through a couple of snowstorms and working on the ML1 novel, so I haven't had the time to post a proper writing update. I have two bits of news:
|First, the kind folks at the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia asked the lovely Clare O'Connor to interview me for the Winter 2016 edition of Eastword. You can read the full interview here.||...|
Dispatches from the Word Mines is an irregular blog series about literature and writing from the perspective of writers themselves. This entry comes to us from Nina Munteanu, an award-winning Canadian ecologist and novelist. In addition to eight published novels, she has authored short stories, articles and non-fiction books, which have been translated into several languages throughout the world. She is currently an editor of European zine Europa SF and writes for Amazing Stories. Nina teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Her latest book “Water Is…” (due in Spring 2016 by Pixl Press) is a non-fiction examination of the meaning of water. In this first installment of a two-part dispatch, she discusses intersections between ecology, women, and science fiction. Many thanks, Nina!
It's New Years' Eve, and the most exciting thing I have planned for the day is a little work on the AF1 novel and an evening date with Scott Lynch's Republic of Thieves followed by John Twelve Hawk's essay Against Authority. It's been a good year on balance; we lost our beloved cat Winter in January, and we went through a dry spell late this year while Triskele Media navigated out of one tech contract into another, but we also went to England in June (a perfect time to see the country), and I had my best writing year yet.
Both "N is for Nanomachine" and...more
I've just heard from Rhonda Parrish, editor of the Alphabet Anthologies series, that she has nominated my novelette "C is for Change" for the Pushcart Prize. This story appeared in B is for Broken and is dear to me for a number of reasons, so I'm delighted to receive this news.
Many thanks to Rhonda for inviting me to participate in the Alphabet Anthologies project and for publishing my sometimes weird,...more
Just a quick note here. I chatted with the folks at the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) when I was a guest at Hal-Con, and they mentioned that Cape Breton needed a regional coordinator. Since then, another Cape Bretoner has volunteered, and I've thrown my name into the hat as well, so it looks like we'll probably be splitting the job.
All this by way of saying that if you have any ideas about the sorts of writing events you'd like to see or participate in here on the island, I hope you'll let me know. You can drop me a line via social networking or via the contact page on my web site.
Last weekend, I attended a much-needed meditation retreat, received excellent meditation instruction from a kind and patient teacher, spent time with good people...and outlined a brand-new trilogy in my head. It's the most straightforward thing I've ever considered writing, and it's relatable to a lot of what's already in the market. As it happens, I think these two factors detract from the work, but I like the core idea quite a bit, so I'm going ahead with it.
Because it's so straightforward, I don't plan to outline the first book (a departure from my normal MO since I outline everything, even short stories), and I do plan to write it straight through with minimal editing until I have a draft. It will also be a secondary project, a release from the structured work I'm doing...more
Dispatches from the Word Mines is an irregular blog series about literature and writing from the perspective of writers themselves. This entry comes to us from Rebecca Buchanan, editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She has been published in a wide variety of venues, with most of her work featuring Gods, Goddesses, spirits, witches, and the occasional nereid. In this dispatch, she discusses polytheism in the context of fantasy by walking us through the creation of Gods and Goddesses for fiction. Many thanks, Rebecca!
What writers do is hard. We weave stories out of our brains, our hearts and the bits of life we've gathered along our respective journeys. If we're doing it properly, we're also bleeding a little; showing you what we love, what we hate, who we are. And when we're done, we cast our creations out into the world, where they more often than not are rejected, over and over again, sometimes never finding a home outside our own self-publishing efforts.
It's enough to wreck you a bit.
There's a great Terry Pratchett quote about writer's block: “There's no such thing as writer's block. That was invented by people in California who couldn't write.” Well, begging your pardon, Sir Pratchett (may you rest in peace), but I don't know about that. I think a good half of...more
Before I begin this post, I want to offer my profound gratitude to Rhonda Parrish, editor of the A is for Apocalypse anthology in which my WSFA-shortlisted "N is for Nanomachine" appeared. Rhonda, you're one of the hardest working writers and editors I know, and I'm so grateful for your friendship and your confidence in my work.
It's actually quite difficult for me to write that I didn't win the 2015 Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award, but not for the reasons you might expect. You see, I...more
Dispatches from the Word Mines is an irregular blog series about literature and writing from the perspective of writers themselves. This entry comes to us from Arie Farnham, author of The Kyrennei Series, an epic dystopian thriller. In this dispatch, she discusses building fictional Pagan gods and religious systems. Many thanks, Arie!
The moon goddess is a warrior maiden. The crescent is the edge of her sword and the full moon is her round, shining shield. She is capable of brilliant attack, tactical defense and healing retreat. She comes to the aid of those who must fight their own temptations and those who fight for justice alike.
That is what bubbled up out of the cauldron of a story.
I'm delighted to announce that I'll be a guest at Hal-Con again this year! My schedule has not yet been finalized, but I'll post it as soon as I have it. If you're an Atlantic Canadian, I'll hope to see you there.
I'm delighted to announce that I'll be participating in several panels at Capclave this year, and I'm also slated for a half-hour reading. Here's my schedule for the weekend:
|Friday||7 PM-7:50 PM||Quantum Mechanics & Literature|
|Friday||8 PM-8:50 PM||50 Years Of Dune|
|Friday||11 PM-11:50 PM||Why Do Good People Do Bad Things?|
|Saturday||2 PM-2:25 PM||Reading - C.S. MacCath|
|Saturday||4 PM-4:50 PM||Linguistics In SF|
|Sunday||12 PM-12:50 PM||Writing Deep Religion|
Here's the entire schedule, and...
An FYI note for writers: I have "Dispatches from the Word Mines" posts lined up through the month of January, which means you have plenty of time to put one together if you'd like to contribute! Drop me a line at csmaccath.com/contact if you're interested. Of note, you're welcome to post on virtually any topic you like, and I do welcome self-promotional posts for forthcoming and recently released books.
Dispatches from the Word Mines is an irregular blog series about literature and writing from the perspective of writers themselves. This entry comes to us from T. Eric Bakutis, author of Glyphbinder, a finalist for the 2014 Compton Crook Award. In this dispatch, he gives us three good reasons to kill a character. Many thanks, Eric!
As authors and readers, all of us remain tangentially aware of what we jokingly refer to as "plot armor". No matter the peril our characters face, no matter how dire their situation, somehow, some way, they'll survive. That's the thrill of reading - learning how our hero survives. If they die, it changes everything.
I'm delighted to announce that "N is for Nanomachine", which appeared in the A is for Apocalypse Alphabet Anthology, has been shortlisted for the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award. Here's the whole list of nominees:
“All of Our Past Places” by Kat Howard, published in Unlikely Story #9: The Journal of Unlikely Cartography, June 2014.
“Careful Magic” by Karen Healey published in Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press, August 2014.
“Cookie Cutter Superhero” by Tansy Rayner Roberts, published in Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press, August 2014.
“Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon, published in Apex Magazine, Issue 56, January...more
I'm not the sort of person who divulges deeply personal matters on the Internet, but this post is important. I've recently learned that members of my biological family have been following my social media accounts, and this might be the only way for me to get a message to some of them. Apologies if this is weird for the rest of you.
To my sisters and their children: If you ever find yourself in need of help leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses, whether it be resources for learning about cults and logical fallacies, emotional support or a safe place to stay, please contact me. There's no judgement here, only love. You can reach me at csmaccath.com/contact.
Dispatches from the Word Mines is an irregular blog series about literature and writing from the perspective of writers themselves. This entry comes to us from Rebecca Buchanan, editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She has been published in a wide variety of venues, with most of her work featuring Gods, Goddesses, spirits, witches, and the occasional nereid. In this dispatch, she discusses polytheism in the context of science fiction. Many thanks, Rebecca!
To consider the Earth as the only populated world in infinite space is as absurd as to assert that in an entire field of millet, only one grain will grow. -- Metrodorus of Chios, 4th century BCE
I was sitting in a circle discussion on the Sunday morning of a recent Buddhist retreat when the word 'aggression' came up and was decried as a thing that ought to be scoured out of our minds if we want to create an enlightened society. I disagreed and reclaimed the word 'aggression' with a liberal dose of straightforward humor, whereupon it was suggested to me that (1) 'aggression' was the wrong word for what I was describing, and (2) I'd 'get it' eventually if I just kept working on myself. This while one of the men in the circle tittered and exchanged sidelong glances with another man as I spoke. Of course these responses were problematic, especially since much of the conversation was about the aggression, assertiveness and strength of women. But I understood them, coming as they did from basically good people at a Buddhist retreat who were working toward peace. Still, they reminded me of the reasons why I'm not a Buddhist.
Let me stir the pot a bit before I continue....more
Dispatches from the Word Mines is an irregular blog series about literature and writing from the perspective of writers themselves. This entry comes to us from Sherry D. Ramsey, author of The Seventh Crow, The Murder Prophet, One's Aspect to the Sun (a personal favorite!) and many other tales. She is a founding editor at Third Person Press, a member of the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia Writers' Council and an active member of SF Canada. In this dispatch, she discusses the complexities of working as a writer with...more
I'm pleased to announce that I'm offering from my archives a reprint of "Casting Sin," which initially appeared in Murky Depths Issue #4. Here's a bit more about the story:
Hedea looked down the ribbon of road that led from the center of town to the edge. It was brown and dusty; she longed to sweep it like a kitchen floor. But where would she pile the dirt when she was done? Would she sweep it to the left, up over the bending tulips and into the bread-white foyer of the baker’s shop? Would she sweep it to the right, under the bellies of horses and into the forge? Her hands twitched with the memory of simple tasks; wringing, smoothing, sweeping, and her hair blew like dandelion seeds away from... more
On our last night in the UK, we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express at the Glasgow airport. Sean found a vegan restaurant downtown called The 78 with a set menu and a reggae band playing later that evening, so we took a cab in. On the way, I struck up a conversation with the cabbie about Gàidhlig, and he was able to give me "Ciamar a tha thu," but that was all he had.
Dinner was great, and the atmosphere was cool. It was interesting to me that our first experience of Glasgow was this hip, modern place with a mostly young and liberal clientele. While we were waiting on the cab home, I struck up a conversation with three young vegans sitting at a table outside. The young woman among them worked in government and pronounced Gàidhlig dead. Then she amended the statement to say that there were people trying to revive the language, but they weren't doing enough, so it was mostly dead. The two young men had no Gàidhlig at all and didn't care.
On the way home, I struck...more
Rhonda Parrish begins a "Fractured Friday" blog series with my B is for Broken contributor interview. Check it out!
Dispatches from the Word Mines is an irregular blog series about literature and writing from the perspective of writers themselves. This entry comes to us from Rebecca Buchanan, author of A Witch Among Wolves, and Other Pagan Tales. She discusses that collection here, shares her thoughts about Pagan fiction, and tells us where to find her current and forthcoming work. Many thanks, Rebecca!
R: Anything — really, anything — can get the wheels turning...more
During my social media hiatus, I began thinking about ways I might be of use to my community of writers, especially my community of speculative fiction writers. I've been afforded the opportunity to write about my work in three interviews recently, and I've been grateful for each one. They not only gave me a forum for discussing my writing, they helped me think about my process, which is always valuable to me.
I'd like to pay that forward by offering my blog space to fellow writers periodically so they can talk about their own writing and processes. I want to read about works in progress and the processes around those, forthcoming work that includes featured samples, elements of the craft, editing, marketing and any other worthy topic that nurtures and promotes writers and writing.
My intention is to make this an egalitarian space. If you're traditionally published and have something to say, I'd like to hear from you. If you're self-published and have something to...more
Starting tomorrow, I'll be running a five day Kindle giveaway of "Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly: A Novelette of the Lodhuven." So if you're interested in reading it, now is the time!
Should you take advantage of the promotion, I hope you'll consider leaving a review of the story on Amazon. Thanks very much, and happy reading!
You can find the title...more
"Three nights, maybe less," I told the man; a grandchild clinging to his neck, another clutching a trouser leg, and watched his mouth fall slack with fear. "And we can only make ten trips up the mountain a day, for people and supplies both, so the Qandunar warmaster wants you to run, if you can."
Three broken people; a monk bearing a terrible scar, a warrior facing a terrible sorrow, a woman hiding a terrible past face a relentless army so hard to defeat it might as well be invincible. Find out whether or not they survive in "C is for Change." Forthcoming in the B is for Broken anthology.
From Editor Rhonda Parrish:
Broken people, broken promises, broken dreams and broken objects are just some of the...more
Friday evening's Puffin Awards Benefit went really well. Bill Conall, Mona Anderson and I read from our various work, Kate Oland and Bill Conall performed two of Kate's songs, and Gary Walsh was our emcee. The picture is from our improv story circle, which was hella fun (I love improv stuff). I wish the Puffin Awards every good thing and hope it continues to encourage young writers for a long time to come.
In other news, I've world-built and outlined my next long project, and I'm finally caught up on my backlog of shorter...more
The meringue in this recipe is indistinguishable from non-vegan meringue and comes from an unexpected source! Sean has been experimenting with it in meringue cookies and other treats all week, and he has finally brought his prodigious skills to bear on an honest-to-goodness lemon meringue pie cobbled together from various recipes. Here's the aggregate:
- 1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons organic sugar
- 1⁄2 cup oil
- 2 tablespoons orange juice or non-dairy milk
Preheat oven to 425F.
In a large bowl, place all of the dry ingredients. Add the orange juice or non-dairy milk and oil. Mix with a fork. Pat into a 9-inch pie pan with fingertips. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
I've been struggling with this blog entry for over a week now, but in the wake of Mary Robinette Kowal's excellent post, I decided it was finally time to collect my own thoughts and write about the controversy around this year's Hugo awards. I'm not terribly certain how all of those thoughts will come together here, so I hope you'll be patient with me as I muddle through.
First, I think I should clearly indicate that I've wanted to win a Hugo since I was fourteen, the year Isaac Asimov won the award for Foundation's Edge. I knew nothing about his private life back then; I simply loved his work...more
As you know, I've been a contributing writer to Rhonda Parrish's ongoing anthology series based on the letters of the alphabet. To date, my short story "N is for Nanomachine" has appeared in A is for Apocalypse, and my novelette "C is for Change" is forthcoming in B is for Broken.
I'm pleased to announce that I'll be contributing to the next volume as well, entitled C is for Chimera! You can read Rhonda's announcement about the anthology here.
I continue to enjoy this work quite a bit, and I'm delighted Rhonda still welcomes my participation in it (even after the last time, with all the extra words). *grin*
Now that Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly is listed for sale on Audible, Amazon and iTunes, ACX has sent me a number of codes for free downloads of the title. I'm offering fifteen of them to people with Audible.com accounts in exchange for honest reviews of the title on the Audible and/or Amazon web sites.
If you have an Audible account and would like to review the audiobook, please let me know by e-mailing me via the contact form on my web site to request a code.
You can find the title on Audible here.
On the evening of April 17th at the St. Michael's Parish Hall in Baddeck, I'll be participating in a benefit for The Puffin Awards for Literary Excellence, an annual short story contest for high school students in Victoria County. I'm excited about the award and pleased I have the opportunity to help raise money for it.
Please come, if you can! I'll be reading from my forthcoming story "C is for Change", which will appear in Rhonda Parrish's B is for Broken anthology. I'll also be participating in a panel discussion about writing and an interactive story circle.
I just made this up, and it's gorgeous.
2 Bananas (frozen, if possible)
1 C. Silk Coconut Milk
1 oz. Kraken Rum
1 oz. Trader Vic's Macadamia Nut Liqueur
Ice (if your bananas aren't frozen)
Blend until smooth.
It's been four weeks since I picked up the Zombies, Run! app and began 5K training. I've ordered my first pair of running shoes, and I've made good progress on all of my original goals, so I thought it was time to blog about my outer and inner processes so far.
Let me start with that list of original goals:
- To strengthen my knees after a double knee injury in January.
- To improve vascular and lymphatic function in my legs.
- To improve my overall cardiovascular health (though as a vegan, this is already rather good).
My next goal is to climb the Cape Split Trail and come back down again without running myself into the ground like I did a couple of years ago. Part of the problem last time was my lack of adequate preparation for the hike, but most of it was my lack of fitness, and...more
I need to write this entry for my wiki anyway, so I thought I'd make it a blog post as well in the hope it might help other people getting started with Audible ACX narration. That said, this post is technical in nature and only covers that portion of the process. I'll write another post once my sound studio is finished that discusses sound attenuation for audio recording. Suffice to say for now that you need a silent, sound-dampened environment to work in, since it's virtually impossible to scrub sound artifacts from a recording without sacrificing quality.