One of the most important things we can do as women is to support the strength of other women. When we undermine the concerns of another woman, when we downplay her righteous anger, when we say to others that she 'just gets that way sometimes', 'had a hard life', or 'simply doesn't understand', we are saying to the world that the voices of women are not worth hearing. It is a fundamental betrayal, a violation of trust and it does harm to all women everywhere.
This is especially true in the face of casual misogyny. Our culture still supports this disempowerment of women at the hands of men by downplaying the significance of it or dismissing the objections of women who are victims of it. Men who disempower women with their casual words and behaviors are often excused because of their advanced years, their cultural milieu, their odd sense of humor and so forth, while the women who defend themselves against this disempowerment are often told they need to be more understanding,...more
The birthday cake and frosting went over so well last night that I thought I'd post the recipe here. That way you can make it, and I'll remember it!
Vegan Chocolate Cake
2 1/2 C. All-Purpose Flour
2 C. Sugar
2/3 C. Cocoa Powder
2 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tsp. Salt
2 C. Warm Water
2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
2/3 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Our Vegetable Oil of Choice in the House)
2 Tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar (White Vinegar Will Work As Well)
Replace 2 1/2 C. All-Purpose Flour with 2 1/2 C. Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
Add 1 Tbsp. Ground Chia or Flax Seed
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 13" x 9" cake pan or two round layer cake pans. In a large mixing bowl, whisk all of the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients and blend with a hand mixer until...more
I think I finally have our family recipe down to a science for this hugely delicious and nutritious hot beverage, so I thought I'd share it. I use a Vitamix to both blend and heat it, but you could easily substitute that for a saucepan and whisk, though you'd have to figure out your powdered ginger proportions in that case.
2 Cups Almond Milk
1 TBSP Agave Nectar
1 TSP Turmeric
1/2 TSP Cinnamon
1/8 TSP Cardamom
Thumbnail-Sized Chunk of Fresh Ginger
Pinch of Black Pepper
Toss everything into the Vitamix and blend on high until it's hot. Easy-peasey.
Woot! Woot! The Kindle edition of "Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly: A Novelette of the Lodhuven" is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com with a projected release date of April 1, 2015. The story is priced at $0.99, so you won't have to plunk down too much coin if you're interested in it. I'm still working on post-production for the audio version, but I'll get that info to you as soon as it's available.
And while I'm on the subject, here's the thing about pre-orders on Amazon. They're all processed on release day, which can give a story a good bump in sales ratings out of the starting gate, and that can help other people find it. So if you're...more
Before Winter passed away, I began a blog post about creativity but never finished it. The post was so dry; 'received structures' and 'creative scaffolding' and such. I deleted the twisty thing, and good riddance.
Good writing is shamanism. You journey in and down and out, unclutter your mind and soul with everybody else's stories until you find the ones you need to tell, there in the shapeless void. You mound-sit and speak with the dead about what they see from the walls of Helheim, across the river of swords, on the slender branches of Yggdrasil that touch the infinite night.
When you return, lungs breaking the traveling rhythm of deep trance, the things that pour out of you have a shape unto themselves, often unrecognizable to anyone but you. These are the fundaments of authentic creativity, and it's your job to fashion them in a way that other people can understand. That's what creative scaffolding is for; three-part story structures, plots that rise to...more
After many months of planning to release a second edition of The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales, I began work on the publishing end of the project this week and then promptly dropped the idea. Originally, I had thought to unpublish the first edition and replace it with a second that bore my own ISBN. But this week I realized that was a more cumbersome and imperfect process than I cared to undertake for a body of work already so long in the tooth (some of these stories and poems are a decade old). So I dropped the ...more
- From my new story "Sing the Crumbling City", available in Issue 1.4 of Mythic Delirium, coming in April 2015.
Lo! The cover and contents for the next issue of Mythic Delirium are up, and here is artist Elena de’ Grimani's gorgeous cover. You can read the official announcement here, and you can subscribe to the magazine here.
Heathen professor of mythology Karl E. H. Seigfried was recently asked to appear on BBC Up All Night, hosted by Dotun Adebayo, to discuss the new Pagan temple under construction in Iceland. Dr. Seigfried was presented with a specific list of topics beforehand, which were mutually agreed-upon, but when Adebayo began the live interview, he went off-script. In a tone that dripped smirking condescension, he called Northern European Paganism a violent fantasy and asked Dr. Seigfried a series of insulting questions designed to trip him up and tittilate listeners.
I thought Dr. Seigfried handled the man well, but this is exactly the sort of behavior Pagans and Heathens sometimes encounter when they make efforts to engage the public. For example, a couple of years ago a prominent member of the Gaelic community here - who by his own admission only knew about Paganism from YouTube - led me into just such a...more
On a cold, stormy night just after Samhain in 2002, there came a knock at our door. The door was at the end of a long, dirt driveway, which was at the end of a long, mountain road in rural Maine. So if you came to it, you meant to be there. I was cleaning up after a Halloween party, and Sean was in town working late. So I was surprised to find our neighbors' son-in-law, covered in falling snow, holding the most emaciated cat I had ever seen. He knew we had cats, he said, and he had found this one on the road nearby. Was it ours?
At this, the cat leaped from his arms, raced behind my heels and sat down, looking up at him. It's worth noting that our beloved Angus, a cat we had lost a year before, used to do this all the time when she wanted my protection for some...more
I wrote the other day about the possibility that I might serialize Twilight of the World Sea People, and I've decided to hold off on that a while, for a few important reasons. First, it would be much harder to build a readership entirely from self-publishing now than it would be later as a traditionally-published writer with one or two novels under my belt. This is a well-known downside to self-publishing; that no matter how good a book is, finding readers for it is harder for people without the reach of a traditional publisher. Second, the book I have outlined and ready to write now (Motherland I) might genuinely be a better first book in the series, and it would represent a second opportunity to introduce a traditional publisher to this universe. Third, I would have the opportunity to revise TWSP in light of further storytelling in the series and present it as a possible Book III (Motherland is a duology).
Yes, I'm frustrated about TWSP. It's tough to sit on a...more
I worry that I'm becoming one of those people who only writes anything meaningful when it's couched in fiction or poetry. I keep thinking I should blog about something important, and I do from time to time on PaganSquare, but when I approach writing for my own blog I frequently back away. I thought about writing on the Charlie Hebdo tragedy two weeks ago, but then I realized it would be foolish to wade into that awful conversation any more than I already had. May the dead rest in peace, and may the living hold them in cherished memory.
There's a thing happening on the Internet; a social leveling I've only previously encountered in meatspace. Ten years ago, I kept a blog about All The Things, written from my tar-covered mobile home in Maine. Nobody read it but my husband, and perhaps that's the reason why I was so free with my thoughts. Now I'm well-connected, and I find that I hold my truths more closely to my chest than I once did. I keep trying to write around them, to...more
I finished the recording for "Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly", and it sounds good. However, I didn't get all the way through The Ruin of Beltany Ring, so I'll need to head back up to my friend's cabin sometime in the next month or so to finish, if the space is available. After this experience, and because I'll be doing spoken audio for the rest of my career, we're considering sound-proofing part of the attic. It would save time and money in the long run, and there are enough artists in the area that we might be able to rent the space from time to time.
Here's the trailer I made for the story. I should point out that the incredible, black-and-white art in the piece is the handiwork of artist Nancy Farmer, who was commissioned by Murky Depths some time ago to illustrate my epistolary story "The Longest Road in the Universe". That tale takes place five hundred years before this one in the same universe, and it is...more
I have a confession to make. I'm reading all those near-future, dystopian novels everybody is complaining about (except the ones with zombies), even though I'm complaining about them too (I am large, I contain multitudes). A child of Jehovah's Witnesses, I was taught to believe the End of Days would come to pass in my lifetime. So even though my understanding of the world is more nuanced now, I have this not-so-secret infatuation with apocalypses, especially the kind with aliens. I also read comic books.
Of course, I read lots of other things too. I'm a writer, so you'd expect that of me, but I'm here to tell you that having a book or two (or five) on the go, having a...more
2014 was a good year for my writing. I had the opportunity to read my work at the Baddeck Public Library and the World Fantasy Convention, was accepted to the council of the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia, was interviewed for Jolene Dawe's Celebrating Pagan Fiction series and received positive reviews for "The Daemons of Tairdean Town" and "N is for Nanomachine", which also garnered a Pushcart nomination. I also had several pieces appear in print:
As part of my final edits for "C is for Change" (yeah, I let the title slip the other day in social networking, ah well *grin*), I needed an easy-to-follow means of revisiting the story's magic system to make certain it was consistent throughout. So I flow charted it. I probably should have created something like this closer to the beginning of the drafting process, but I did find it helpful in edits, and I'll likely create a similar flow chart for future storytelling processes of this kind.
There aren't any spoilers in the chart, so I thought I'd share it with you in the hope you might find it helpful to your own writing. I used an online service called Gliffy and found it helpful, but I'll likely look for a Linux or MacOS solution going forward.
Here's the chart. You can visit the image page and view a larger version by clicking on it:
As is our custom here, Boxing Day is a work day, so I'll be polishing up edits for "C is for Change". Next week, I'll be writing the final three posts in "The Vegan Pagan" series and editing web site content for a gorgeous project Sean has been working on for some months. In January-February, I'll finally be re-releasing The Ruin of Beltany Ring in paperback, ebook and audio, and I'll be releasing "Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly" ebook and audio as well. I have some tentative plans to write a one-act play or two in 2015, and I'd also like to finish the script for my short-run comic series if I can find a new artist for the project, but the big work for the year will be writing the first novel in what I'm tentatively calling The Motherland Duology. I'm also planning...more
It is best for man to be middle-wise,
Not over cunning and clever:
The learned man whose lore is deep
Is seldom happy at heart.
- The Hávamál
It seems I always come back to this quote from the Hávamál when I consider the possibility of furthering my formal education. As a person with a Master's degree, I feel solidly middle-wise by modern standards; I've made a respectable academic effort, and yet the esoterica offered by a terminal degree program are outside my frame of reference. I've considered this degree or that; a MA in Ethnomusicology, Icelandic Studies or Celtic, a MFA in Writing, a PhD in English, a Bachelor of Science in Physics, and all of these are within my grasp if I want them enough.
Yet there is more to knowing than knowledge, and there are processes to the acquisition of that knowledge that shape the mind in specific ways. For instance, because I was raised a Jehovah's Witness, and because I...more
I'm delighted to announce that my short story "Sing the Crumbling City" will appear in a forthcoming issue of Mythic Delirium. If you like spacetime ruptures and wormhole-traveling rock bands who sing about Northern European cosmology in strict, Sievers-type alliterative verse, this tale is probably for you. =P
I'm delighted to announce that "N is for Nanomachine", my epistolary short story for the A is for Apocalypse anthology, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Details here.
In light of recent Pagan conversations around the blogosphere on the topic of animal sacrifice, I thought I'd skip ahead in the Vegan Pagan series to offer the animal-centric perspective I had scheduled for January. I'll be back on track next month.
Good Samhain to all!
Modern Paganism has more than a few bloody roots. The early Celts practiced both animal sacrifice and human ritual killing...more
Working hard on the words lately. I'm in that place where I don't know whether I have 12,000 words of awesome or 12,000 words of what-the-hell-were-you-thinking (and yes, the B Beast is going to top out at 12,000 words, twice my original word count limit and thank you, Rhonda). I've been running my language through the sifter, again and again, turning words into art, or trying, anyway, because that's what I was hired to do. Come to think of it, this gig is teaching me about art, about story, about making a beautiful thing because beauty. Each time Rhonda has asked me to write for her, I've taken the work as a challenge to myself, a way to practice some new piece of craft. "N is for Nanomachine" (the Tale-o-Woe) was about epistolary writing in different voices, sometimes computer...more
I'm in the middle of a long Linux HPLIP installation, so I thought I'd write a quick catch-up post. Last weekend, I attended the gala event and Saturday workshops of the Cabot Trail Writers Festival and had the privilege of learning from Canadian writer Anne Simpson. She facilitated two excellent workshops; 'The Image at the Heart of the Poem' and 'The Story in a Box', which I used to practice my realism skills, having not participated in a literary writing workshop for some time. Here's the little poem I wrote for the first workshop:
clipped from a cooling body
black raven feather
fanned on a wing
Congratulations to Valerie Smigielski, Jose Callejas, Max Lakshtanov, Richard Mills, Michelle Radliff and Kelley Anderson, who were the winners of my inventory reduction giveaway. Many thanks to everyone who entered (nearly 700 people, wow!). Remember that the first edition of RBR is still available online wherever books are sold, and the second edition will be forthcoming in a few months.
This is the least intersectional and least spiritual of the entries I'll be writing on veganism and Paganism. The reason is simple. If a vegan diet is bad for your body, this...more
As before, I've been following the Facebook conversations around my vegan blog entries, and this time I've noticed further discussion around the idea of plant sentience. Some of you have argued that plants are no different from animals and so the eating of plants and animals should be considered on equal footing.
How very animistic of you. I would expect no less from my Pagan community.
It's an interesting question and one deserving of its own space, so I've decided to offer a vegan perspective here in advance of my next major blog entry in the series.
For the sake of argument, let's presume that plants possess independent minds and thoughts of sufficient complexity that they can deliberately communicate with the world. From this premise,...more
I've been following the Facebook conversation around my first post in this series, and I'd like to address a few things here that I hope will help to facilitate a more congenial conversation around this topic going forward.
First, to my fellow vegan Pagans: If you've allowed yourself to be baited into flaming on Facebook, you're not helping the animals, the Earth or yourself. Difficult as it is to do, you need to remain calm when you address non-vegans in cyberspace, even when you're treated unfairly. Remember what you believe in, and let your ethics guide your...more
I'm about 6100 words into "C is for Cloister" right now, and I think it will top out at about 9000 words. My deadline for the story is October 1st, and 3000 words isn't onerous for a month by any stretch, but I've also got a novelette to finish preparing (Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly) and a revised collection to prepare (The Ruin of Beltany Ring). There's also the monthly blog for PaganSquare, and I've just begun a research-intensive series for that.more
In the next several weeks, I'll be discussing intersections between veganism and Paganism. As a long-time vegan, animal rights activist and wildlife rescuer, I believe I can bring a perspective to the discussion that might be helpful to vegans and non-vegans alike. But before I do that, I think it's important to lay some groundwork, and that's what this entry is all about.
First, I'd like you to check in with your body and your emotions right now. Take a breath and ask yourself if reading the last paragraph left your neck, shoulders or any other part of your body feeling tight or tense. Consciously release those muscles. Give 'em some love. Now ask your mind, heart and gut if they've thrown up any defenses to the topic at hand. Acknowledge those...more
Welcome to the A is for Apocalypse blog train! You've just departed the Pete Aldin car, and I do hope you enjoyed your stay. The porter will be by in a moment to check your tickets, but in the meantime, why don't you settle in and let me spin you a tale or two?
When I was a little girl, I knew an older man named Brother Pope, who was kind to me and always had a pocket full of lemon drops. I called him 'brother' because we were both Jehovah's Witnesses, and I called everyone at the Kingdom Hall 'brother' or 'sister'. When I was four,...more
DATE: GCT 20:982:6:45:1:7:1
Been slingin' this camera for thirty years and never seen a show like the one I shot today. President Incien stood up in front of a bunch of kids and showed the UAP how bad it's gettin' here, how them nanomachines are makin' the world into something we can't live in. Then she said the kids were gonna try and cross the orbital barricade in a refitted fuel carrier, but we all figured she was sendin' 'em up to die. Hell, even they figured it. Bravest people I ever did meet, though. Broke my heart to watch 'em head off for launch prep. Great Mother, I hope they die quick, if it comes to that.
Speakin' of dyin' quick, I ain't got that luxury. The VCN dragged my arthritic bones out of retirement and stuffed this...more
Since Samhain of last year, I've been a regular blogger at PaganSquare, a blogging community of several dozen Pagans writing on a variety of topics. My posts tend toward Gàidhlig advocacy, current events in the Pagan community and philosophical discussions of various topics of interest to Pagans. I've shared these posts irregularly in my social networking feeds, but you can catch up on them here - Gael Ùr: Cànan, Sgeul 's Creideamh.
Going forward, I'll be sharing these monthly posts across my social networks. Some upcoming topics will include a multi-part series on veganism, a shared Gàidhlig song and more philosophy of storytelling stuff, which I love to write...more
This is just a quick, interstitial post about a thing I found online today. The attached meme tells us that the word 'tenalach' is Irish and 'describes a relationship one has with the land, air and water, a deep connection that allows one to literally hear the Earth sing'.
According to my Irish dictionary and the researches of several Irish-speaking commenters on the original post, this word does not exist in the language. In fact, it violates a basic principle of Irish spelling.
Folks, this is what cultural appropriation looks like. It matters less that the spiritual concept is gorgeous and fulfilling than it does that Irish language and culture were inappropriately overlaid upon it to...more
A second edition of my short story and poetry collection The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales is scheduled for release later this year, so I'm giving away my last six copies of the first edition, released one year ago today on August 13, 2013.
But wait! There's more! I also have an abundance of Murky Depths Issue #4, featuring Vincent Chong's award-winning cover and containing my illustrated short story, "Casting Sin", so I'll be including a signed copy with each giveaway packet.
Wewt! Free books! I loves me a book giveaway.
I'm working on a number of short projects right now; the next story in the alphabet series of anthologies, an ebook and audio release of "Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly", a second edition of The Ruin of Beltany Ring and a possible science fiction and fantasy collection in the spring. I'm still a small player in the writing community, but it occurs to me that some of these short projects and the bigger projects that follow might find themselves on free download sites in the months to come.
There are a ton of reasons why people download free fiction, and it doesn't matter to me which reason motivates someone to download my work. It matters to me that it found a home. That's why I write the stuff to begin with. So download it, fill up your hard...more
Last month, I wrote about the psychological dynamics behind the sacred spaces we create together and the ways we might utilize the power of sacred space to create a better world. This month, I'll be writing about what happens when the people to whom we have given power abuse it, and in doing so weaken both the internal and external cultures of the imagination we've worked so hard to build. Specifically, I'll be writing about the work of Marion Zimmer Bradley (MZB), its influence upon a generation of Pagan women and the destructive effects of the recent pedophilia allegations against her.
The younger Pagans among you might not recognize the name, but if you're a Pagan woman of a certain age, you'll remember that MZB is the author of a much-beloved novel called The Mists of Avalon. This novel tells the Arthurian story from the point of view of its women and follows the life of Morgaine, otherwise known as Morgan le Fay. It was released in 1983, just a few years...more
Jodie (Bookgazing) of the Lady Business feminist blog has written a review of "The Daemons of Tairdean Town" that leaves me a little speechless and makes me want to work harder at storytelling. My heartfelt thanks for her kind words. They mean a lot to me.
You can find the review here: http://ladybusiness.dreamwidth.org/83284.html
I'm in post-production for the audio recording of Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly and thought I'd share some insights from my first stint as an audio actor and sound engineer. As I mentioned some weeks ago, I'm recording from my attic using the iRig MIC Cast and iRig Recorder on my iPod and Audacity on Kubuntu for final mixing of audio takes.
The hardware/software combination is a good one. The iRig MIC plugs right into the iPod audio jack and is sensitive enough for small projects of this kind, but it's also sensitive enough to pick up the low-...more
Last month, I wrote about hiraeth, the cultures of the imagination we create as a Pagan community and the empowerment that occurs when we cultivate sacred spaces together. This month, I'll be expanding upon that theme with a discussion of the psychological dynamics behind this process and some suggestions about what we might do with the power inherent in it.
"I think the search for community, be it within the traditional cultures in Alba Nuadh1 or the various pagan cultural communities, is the proof of how crazy global consumerist culture has made us and, indeed, how wrong it is for us. We are instinctively looking for what felt right. I don't think that a homeland of the imagination is better than an actual community of people who see and speak to each other, but perhaps it can form a useful bridge to sustain isolated cultural thoughtful pagans during this period of...more