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
Yesterday, I wrote about Patreon, a service that connects writers, artists and other content creators with audiences willing to pay a small subscription fee for fresh, monthly content. With the help of friends and fellow writers on Google+, I've decided it isn't for me at the present time, and thought I'd share some of that discussion with you.
One writer mentioned that he doesn't use the service but knows several people who do because they remind him fairly regularly via social networking. That made me cringe a bit, since Sean and I moderate an online community of several thousand vegans and see that sort of spam nearly every day. It's annoying, and we moderate it out because nobody wants to be spammed. This brings me to...more
Take a look at this. G'won. I'll wait: Andrea Phillips' Patreon Account
It'a a pretty cool idea, no? You pay a dollar or two a month and get a steady dose of fantastical fiction from someone committed to the craft. She gets to write short stories for an audience who already likes her work or wants to like it.
I'm thinking about doing this, for all the reasons she's stated. I've been professionally published, but the market is nose-bleed competitive. I have stories in my head that I want to get out of my head, and I'd like to make money on them. I might even serialize a novel or throw in an audio version of a previously published story from time to time, but I might charge a teeny...more
Great reading last night at the library. Many thanks to Cora-Lee, Laverne and Kate for inviting me to come, and many more thanks to the people who attended. Finally, Sean was brilliant as a second reader for the intros and outros of my epistolary tale, and it was tremendous fun to read with him.
So, "N is for Nanomachine" belongs to the world now. "But Ceallaigh," you might ask, "why is the Clockwork Phoenix antho in the picture? Weren't you reading a story from A is for Apocalypse?"
What a great question! My story for the Clockwork Phoenix antho takes place in the same universe that "N is for Nanomachine" does. So if you like the one, you might like the other...
Recently, I saw a photo of an old, Pagan friend on Facebook. He was wearing a great kilt and a body full of blue paint, likely woad. His arms were crossed, and he was laughing at something off-camera. Behind him, a woman in jeans and a sweater walked down a garden path with a sword in her hand. There were tents and green trees in the background. I remembered his laughter as it had been when I knew him and missed the days when I could sit with kilted friends on American hillsides and talk of a Scotland that never was.
Two years ago, I was visiting Toronto for the World Fantasy Convention and met with another friend in Dundas square; a Pagan Celt and hospital chaplain who wears a torc I don't believe he ever takes off. Like me, he's a graduate of the Celtic Studies program at the University of Toronto, and he introduced me to two other graduates who went with us for chips and a pitcher of beer. We talked about the intersections of our educations and our spiritualities...more
I'm pleased to announce that I will soon be releasing a Lodhuven novelette entitled 'Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly' under the Triskele Media imprint! This story takes place several hundred years after 'The Longest Road in the Universe' and explores the lives of Lodhuven descendants whose broken genome forces them to seek salvation from near-mythical Bodhuven dissidents rumored to be trapped in the event horizon of a supermassive black hole. Here's a little something from the story to whet your appetite:
The dancers waited in a fleshy knot at the center of the room, swaying like a solar prominence rising out of a...more
One of the problems I've faced as an irregularly published writer is an irregular output of words. It's been that way for ten years; sometimes because I allow my life to get in the way of my work and sometimes because I'm just a slow writer. I'm envious of people who can crank out 2000 words a day and edit only a little thereafter; that sort of output from me would end up looking like, 'All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy....' You get the idea.
And the truth is, I was a better writer when I permitted myself a healthy dose of suspicion for social networking. When I didn't...more
What It Is
A is for Apocalypse contains twenty-six apocalyptic stories written by both well-known and up-and-coming writers. Monsters, meteors, floods, war–the causes of the apocalypses in these tales are as varied as the stories themselves.
This volume contains work by Ennis Drake, Beth Cato, Kenneth Schneyer, Damien Angelica Walters, K. L. Young, Marge Simon, Milo James Fowler, Simon Kewin, C.S. MacCath, Steve Bornstein and more!
What People Are Saying About It
“In A is for Apocalypse, the world ends in both fire and ice--and by asteroid, flood, virus, symphony, immortality, the hands of our vampire overlords, and crowdfunding. A stellar group of authors explores over two dozen of the bangs...more
I'm delighted to announce that my short, epistolary story "The Longest Road in the Universe" will appear in Hyperpulp, where it will be published in both Portugese and English. This story originally appeared in Murky Depths Issue #7 alongside Nancy Farmer's phenomenal illustrations. Hyperpulp editor Alexandre Mandarino is planning to publish the tale in...more
This month and bho am gu am (from time to time) hereafter, I'll be sharing Gàidhlig music with you. Sometimes that music will have specific applicability to Paganism, but more often than not I'll just be passing along bits of song culture I think you might find interesting. I'll always provide Gàidhlig lyrics and their translations, and I'll always provide recordings of my renditions of the pieces.
Today I'm sharing a strathspey Port-à-beul* with you. 'Puirt-à-beul' is Gàidhlig for 'tunes from the mouth'; instrumental pieces sung to simple, sometimes nonsense lyrics often for traditional dance accompaniment. Strathspeys are in 4/4 time but are slower and accented differently from reels, which are also in 4/4 time. Finally, mouth tunes are usually sung in pairs, but I'll save the reel I learned with this strathspey for another entry.
Here are the lyrics, and you'll find my recording below. I hope you enjoy them, and Happy Beltane!
Many of you will have already read that long-time Pagan leader Kenny Klein was recently arrested for possession of child pornography. If you have not yet read this news, you can do so here. I was already aware of certain allegations against him stemming from a problematic incident in the 1990s, but the information came to me third-hand, and so I was reluctant to credit it. However, the way the information came to me - via someone who said she was breaking a coven oath to impart it - left me thinking about secrecy in the Pagan community for a long time afterward. More recently, Kenny himself posted a blog entry to the PaganSquare community about the issue of secrecy in...more
Today, yet another of the professional men I've hired to provide services for Triskele Media made the mistake of calling it Sean's corporation, and that's twice for this person. In all, the tally so far is two bankers, an insurance agent and an accountant in the last year alone. These are people I've contacted, vetted and engaged, people I've had lengthy discussions with as an executive and signing officer of the company and who have rarely, if ever spoken to Sean. One of the bankers altered his financial institution's standard business documentation to place Sean in signing positions he didn't belong, and the insurance agent sent paperwork to an incorrect email address for Sean - resulting in a protracted delay on our policy renewal - even though his female associate had been...more
Welcome to Issue #11 of my quarterly newsletter, posted to csmaccath.com and e-mailed to subscribers on Beltane 2014.
The Baddeck Public Library has graciously invited me to participate in its Thursday evening reading series. I'll be there on June 12th from 6:30 to 7:30 reading my forthcoming story 'N Is for Nanomachine', which will appear in the A Is for Apocalypse anthology.
The lovely Jolene Dawe recently interviewed me for her Celebrating Pagan Fiction series! You can check out the interview here. Many thanks to Jolene for her thoughtful questions and for offering me...
I'm super stoked to announce that I'll be participating in writer and editor Rhonda Parrish's next letter-themed anthology entitled, B Is for Broken.
I've been assigned the letter 'C'.
Hmm...C Is for Clock...Cerebrum...Cànan...Ceangal...*grin* Did I slip into Gàidhlig there?
Aaand as soon as she releases the (admittedly awesome) cover for A Is for Apocalypse, you can bet I'll be showing it to you!
Today Sean and I went to capture a wounded seagull who was hobbling around the hospital parking lot in Sydney. It was a back lot and not salted, so we slid after the bird while she ran from us, dragging a wing. At the veterinary hospital, I assisted in her examination and x-ray, as I recently did with the eagle, and we discovered that her wing joint was shattered. There was nothing anyone could do to help her to heal and live a normal life. So I assisted again while Dr. Nicholson euthanized her. It was perhaps the saddest experience I've had thus far as a wildlife rescuer; chasing a strong, but injured bird and later feeling her heart slow and stop under my hands.
Euthanasia is the fate of many injured seagulls...more
My poem 'Coming of Age' is the featured piece at Polu Texni this week. You can read it here.
Creideamh a' Bhata Bhuidhe: The religion of the yellow stick. A Coll priest of former times was accustomed to drive recalcitrant natives to church by a smart application of his walking stick, those who yielded were thus said to come under “creideamh a' bhata bhuidhe.” Another version says Hector, son of Donald Maclean of Coll, was the one who applied the yellow stick. Hector was laird in 1715 and as the religion of the yellow stick was introduced into Rum in 1726, it is beyond dispute that Hector was the author, or propagator of it. He was dignified in appearance and stern in manners and could no doubt wield the yellow stick gracefully and with efficiency. - Dwelly's Illustrated Gaelic to English Dictionary
I was raised a Jehovah's Witness and forced by my parents to attend Kingdom Hall three times a week. So you'll understand if I confess a visceral reaction to the prospect of being beaten with a stick for the sake...more
The lovely Jolene Dawe has interviewed me for her Celebrating Pagan Fiction series. You can read the interview here.
Monday and Tuesday, I outlined the endings of Books 1 & 2 in what I'm presently calling the Motherland Duology, though that name might change as time passes. Today, I plotted the protagonist's thread through Book 1 in Freemind using the end to beginning technique I wrote about here in the comments:
I'm delighted to report that my poem "Coming of Age" will appear in the very fine poetry magazine Polu Texni. I'll post a link to it here when it's published.
I put out the call a few weeks ago for links to awards, blogs and other web sites for speculative fiction writers. My friends at SF Canada were quick to respond, and with their help I've compiled the following. Please note that this is primarily a short list of longer lists, since others have paved this road long before I came to it. Still, I hope you find the information useful.
Comic Awards (Thanks,...more
I met a Notable American Druid (NAD) in Ireland while I was on scholarship as a Celtic Studies student, and we traveled together from time to time while we were there. One evening, after touring County Donegal, we stopped at a pub in Carrick on the way back to Glencolumbkille. I don't remember what NAD drank that night, but the publican taught me to make what he called 'Hot Bush'. Here's the recipe:
Boil the kettle.
Pour hot water into a mug.
Boil the kettle again.
Pour the water out of the mug.
Put 3 cloves, a teaspoon of sugar and a shot of Bushmills into the mug.
Pour boiling water into the mug and stir.
It was good insurance against the temperamental June weather on the island, and I drank a lot of it during my stay. Anyway, so there we were, listening to a session, me drinking Hot Bush and NAD making conversation with the locals. One of them, a portly, middle-aged woman told me her son had done bass work for the Pogues...more
Welcome to Issue #10 of my quarterly newsletter, posted to csmaccath.com and e-mailed to subscribers on Imbolc 2014.
A is for Apocalypse editor Rhonda Parrish has graciously permitted me to share with you a teaser from my forthcoming story in the anthology, entitled N Is for Nanomachine. As you might recall from the Samhain newsletter, I've written an epistolary tale, and this is the first correspondence in it:
VARDIGEN MEMORIAL ARCHIVE
ENTRY: Desans, Madame Chaell Gebares
COURIER: Gresetz, Jederen ID COU-045
CONTAINS: Text and Attachments
There is magma in the music.
You will not understand this; the way it flows, bright and hot, through the cavern of the ear...
Well, I've at long last completed the Mass Effect trilogy and experienced for myself the oft-criticized ending. Here are my thoughts:
From the time you put boots on the ground in London, the game is incredibly buggy. At one point, I needed to survive a protracted battle until my team could be evacuated, but the shuttle never came, I killed all the bad guys, the battle music kept playing and game-play was essentially stuck. So I had to go back to my last save and fight the whole battle again, at which point the shuttle did show up when it was supposed to.
Shortly thereafter, one of my team members was killed in battle (I found her body), but I was unable to resurrect her. However, she was listed as living, I continued to talk to her as though she were alive and at one point her disembodied voice began to answer me. This went on for nearly half an hour of game-play mostly comprised of...more
Before you read any further, and if you are so inclined, please offer a kind thought or a prayer that our eagle regains the sight in her eye so that she can be released into the wild and hunt again.
Saturday evening, Hope for Wildlife posted a message to its private dispatch group that a Cape Breton man had found an injured eagle near his cottage. It was dark by the time I saw the message, and we were in for some bad weather overnight, so there wasn't any way to rescue the bird until morning. I called the man, and we made arrangements to try and find the bird together the next day, though he was worried she might be dead by then. He said she looked as though she had been hit with a shot gun, and while she could walk, she could not fly.
Sunday morning, Sean and I followed him up the Kempt Road to a place where the pavement ended. Then we continued around the hillside on a narrow and...more
I recently wrote about the idea that writers are routinely expected to create 'for the love', and the phenomenon is sufficiently related to the above truth about the writing life that I run the risk of repeating myself here. My argument there was that writers and other artists should not be expected to work for free, but my focus here is on some of the barriers writers meet on the way to whatever income we do earn.
Even when we carefully conduct the business of writing as a business, it takes...more
I've just encountered an interesting point of confusion between my writing and its reception by readers that I thought it might be useful to discuss. In a recent blog entry, I defaulted to the feminine, third-person pronoun when discussing an animal because I wasn't certain of the animal's sex and didn't want to use the gender-neutral 'it' for reasons having to do with my vegan ethics. This created some confusion in my readership, so I subsequently footnoted the relevant passage to indicate that my usage was a default preference and not a specific gender identification.
I often default to the feminine pronoun and list the feminine first when I need to offer pronoun options (e.g., her/him, hers/his). Failing the widespread adoption of a gender-neutral...more
Thig thugainn, thig cò' ruim gu siar -
Gus an cluinn sinn ann cànan nam Fèinn,
Thig thugainn, thig cò' ruim gu siar -
Gus an cluinn sinn ann cànan nan Gàidheal.
Come to us, come with me to the west -
And hear the language of heroes (of the Fèinn),
Come to us, come with me to the west,
And hear the language of the Gael.
- from Cànan Nan Gàidheal, written by Murdo MacFarlane
When I was a student of Celtic at the University of Toronto, my...more
2013 was a year of forward progress in my writing career, often self-directed. I began receiving the sort of rejections from top-tier publishers that validated the quality of my writing, the 'this isn't right for us, but we like your voice so please keep submitting' personal notes that mean my work is sufficiently professional to compete in the traditional marketplace and to make a proper showing of itself in the independent marketplace. I learned the term 'hybrid writer' from Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog and became one, selling my work to traditional markets and also publishing it myself. It was a learning curve, both emotionally and...more
We had what might be called a perfect Christmas. On Christmas Eve, the power went out, forcing us to fill the house with candle and fire light. We opened gifts and then remembered a friend living nearby in a tiny cabin with one electric heater for warmth. So we went to check on him, and indeed he was glad to come home with us for the duration. So we stoked the fire, served holiday drinks all around and popped popcorn in the wood stove with my new camp fire popcorn popper.
By Christmas morning, the power was back on, and we had a hearty breakfast that included frozen banana purée topped with home-made brandied pears we made some years ago and were saving for our first Christmas in whatever home we bought. By lunch, the power was out again, and we were midway through...more
I've just received word by post that I've been accepted to the council of the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia. Requirements for membership on the council can be found on the membership page, which includes the following:
Members who meet the professional writing standards defined in the By-Laws of the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia may apply for Writers' Council membership. Only Writers' Council members may participate in the Writers in the Schools program, serve as workshop instructors, and feature in our 'Writers in NS' listing.
Applications for membership in the WFNS Writers’ Council must...
This month, I'm taking a break from my introductory series of posts (Gael Ùr, Cànan, Sgeul and Creideamh) to offer a transcript of the guest lecture I delivered this week at St. Francis Xavier University entitled An Introduction to Neo-Paganism for Non-Pagans. You can find a printable transcript and audio download of the lecture at http://csmaccath.com/itnp. As members of my community of faith, I invite your thoughts on the material. What would you have added? Subtracted? Where would your focus have been different? What are your thoughts on the areas of need I identified for the Neo-Pagan community?
As always, tapadh leibh airson a'...more
As a writer and the CEO of a technology company, I found this article incredibly helpful. I'm often asked to write for free because it would be 'good exposure' for me, and I do blog for a Pagan magazine and sometimes write fiction for little or no money. However, I'm quite selective about those projects I undertake for the sake of exposure because I do expect my writing to reach a sufficiently large audience and/or an audience specifically interested in my work. It was the whole reason I self-published "The Ruin of Beltany Ring" and gave so many copies away (which, incidentally, helped me to achieve the level of exposure I hoped it would). However, my default position is payment for my work, and I reserve the right to choose what constitutes that payment.
Please Note: This article has undergone a revision since it was first written. Two footnotes have been added.
There are many introductions I might make to this post. I might discuss the accusation that vegans are privileged city-dwellers subsisting on a First World diet who don't understand how animal agriculture works. I might relate the conversation I had with a Buddhist friend last week when I told him we planned to attend a cattle auction. I might use any number of tried and true vegan inroads to conversation (Meet Your Meat, etc.). But we didn't do this so that I could answer vegan criticisms, tell personal stories or fill this space with received language. We did it to see and to tell you what we saw.
This is what we saw.
We attended the auction with two other vegan activists from Halifax, and some of the photos below are theirs. The auction was held at Atlantic Stockyards Limited, where the animals are temporarily housed in...more
Welcome to Issue #9 of my quarterly newsletter, posted to csmaccath.com and e-mailed to subscribers on Samhain 2013.
Harbour Con-Fusion in St. John was great fun. I had the opportunity to work alongside actors, artists and writers of local, national and international repute, deliver and attend panels and enjoy the company of other geeks and nerds. Many thanks to the staff for its hard work and hospitality!
The Ruin of Beltany Ring
I've enrolled The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales in the Kindle MatchBook...
As I write this entry, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia is in full, autumn glory and the Celtic Colours International Festival is well underway. For those of you who don't know, Cape Breton is a Gàidhealtachd, a place where the Scottish Gaelic language is still spoken and taught, a place where Gaelic culture still lives. Every year in mid-October, people come from all over the world to celebrate the rich heritage of this place with concerts, classes, discussions and demonstrations rooted in the Gaìdhlig language that traveled here when so many of its native speakers emigrated from Scotland.
Cape Breton is also my home. An American by birth, I immigrated to Canada three and a half years ago after twenty years of Celtic Paganism and a Celtic Studies degree because I wanted to become a fluent Gaìdhlig speaker and advocate. My local Gaìdhlig learning began in Halifax, where ...more
The island is awash in colour and music, and we are about to become tourists in our own home. We likely won't do this every year, but we've bought lots of tickets to concerts, and we plan to attend some workshops and demonstrations as well.
Festival Club is on the docket tonight, but we might not make it, since we're backed up on the household chores. Tomorrow we'll be at Catriona Parson's Precenting the Gaelic Psalms workshop and Festival Club later in the evening for sure. Sunday, there's a cool blacksmithing demonstration called...more
I'm delighted to report that I've been asked to contribute to a forthcoming anthology of fantasy and science fiction entitled A is for Apocalypse and edited by Rhonda Parrish. This themed anthology will feature twenty-six stories, one for each letter of the alphabet, all apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic.
I have been randomly assigned the letter 'N', as in 'nanomachines', 'never', 'night' and 'noodle'. (♫ One of these things is not like the other... ♫) =P
I dearly love apocalyptic fiction, and I have decided to write an epistolary tale, which is a form I also love and used to write The Longest Road...more
I continue to be delighted at the reception my little collection is getting. This time, Jennifer Lawrence of Eternal Haunted Summer offers a review so generous it has left me somewhat gobsmacked and has motivated me to keep writing and keep the faith, in more ways than one.