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Tuesday, June 1, 2010
This essay does not represent the entirety of my spiritual perspective, nor am I entirely comfortable with the 'Heathen' label. To be sure, I am not always comfortable with any label. However, I do believe the piece speaks to the problem of racism in the Pagan community, and so while I am not always comfortable with labels, I am always comfortable with multiculturalism, and so the essay remains.

I am a Heathen, which means that I am a practitioner of reconstructed Northern European (NE) spirituality. Heathenry is a Pagan religion, which is to say that it draws wisdom from the animistic, nature-based spirituality of pre-Christian, Northern Europe. I'm providing this resource on my web site for two reasons; first, I hope to answer a couple of basic questions about my faith for interested readers, and second, I hope to address the problem of Heathenry vs. white supremacy.

If you have a question about Heathenry you'd like me to answer here, please...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I wrote this course in compliance with Eastern Maine Community College's requirements as a Liberal Arts elective for second-year students who had already completed a composition course and a general literature course. I am providing this information for those educators who want to add Science Fiction and Fantasy literature to their curricula or to expand existing curricula to include such literature. All downloadable files on this page are compiled in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format, and you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to view them.


Course Proposal & Syllabus

(Right click and choose "Save Link As" to download these files and stay on this page at the same time.)

[inline:eng223courseproposal.pdf]
[inline:eng223syllabusspring2005.pdf]

Some Exellent Internet...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I've just finished a paper read (as opposed to a screen read) of TWSP Part 1 and learned some valuable lessons. It has taken me a year to write the 160-odd pages I've just read, and that's far too long for anyone hoping to earn a living as a writer. That time wasn't entirely spent in drafting though. I draft at a respectable pace; I can put down 1000 words a day easily, and that's a sustainable level of work for a novelist. The problem has been the amount of time I've spent editing the manuscript along the way.

First, there was the initial edit of the previous day's work. Then there was the edit I did at the end of each chapter scene. After that came the chapter edit and the final edit I did of Part 1 over the last two weeks. Each of these entailed a plotting component to ferret out story problems and a mechanics component to look for sentence-level issues. Honestly, for every hour I spent putting words on the page, I spent another six to ten looking back at them.

...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Over time, I've developed a suite of tools I use to craft fiction and keep a web presence. At the same time, I've been developing my technical skills, so I've been able to leverage more powerful technologies, which has in turn increased my productivity. This article is an effort to bring some of these tools, both low-tech and intermediate/high-tech, to your attention in the hope they help you become a better, more productive writer as well.

By and large, I prefer free, Open Source solutions for writing. I compose in gedit and format submissions in Open Office, outline in Freemind and store my world-buiding in MediaWiki. So very few of the tools in this article will cost you anything but time and effort...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I've participated in a number of group critiquing experiences and find them all to be somewhat lacking in efficacy, for different reasons. Primary among these is that each of them has suffered from competitive subtext, so that one could never be certain whether or not the critiques one received were motivated by a genuine desire to be helpful. Therefore, I don't usually recommend them to others, since a good degree in any subject from a reputable college or university, an earnest level of investment in the study and practice of the writing craft and a tenacious commitment to selling ones work suffice for most people interested in writing professionally.

However, I did recently investigate two writing groups because I'd heard good things about them from reputable sources. The first was the Online Writing Workshop, and the second was the Codex Writers' Group. I didn't intend to actually participate in OWW; I just wanted to see what they were all about. I had an interest in...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Yesterday, I sat down at my laptop at roughly nine in the morning, and with the exception of periodic washroom breaks, hummus and toast at lunchtime and take-out Thai for dinner, I stayed behind my laptop until nearly midnight. In the interim, I came within spitting distance of the Chapter 1 rewrite, which I finished this morning. More importantly though, I redefined the two POV characters and the primary non-POV character in my novel. In doing so, I realized what does and does not work for me with regard to character construction in a novel, and I thought I'd share that information with you.

What Doesn't Work

Doing Nothing

While I've been able to successfully create short-story characters on the fly, I can't do the same for longer works of fiction. Novel characters, by necessity, have wider character arcs, more room to be and grow. Therefore, they need more substance to begin with. In the last incarnation of Twilight of the World Sea People, I...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It is a commonly-held belief among speculative fiction writers that somewhere, out there in the great, dark heaven of the multiverse, there is a god who hands out apostrophes on big, pink memos and that when the writer in question has received said memo, her or his constructed language is, at last, complete.

Allow me to illustrate:

Sp’thra: Beggars in Spain (all props to Nancy Kress)
F’lar: Dragonriders of Pern (all props to Anne McCaffrey)
Dra'Azon: Consider Phlebas (all props to Iain M. Banks)

For the most part, said apostrophes decorate said constructed words nicely; after all, most readers want a story and not a linguistic treatise. In fact, I never noticed the difference between constructed languages that used this or other common conventions and those that did not until I approached the construction of languages for PTTB. And frankly, I still don’t care what convention an author uses to transport me into another...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Everything I know about world-building and conlangs I am teaching myself, and that's no small task for someone who isn't a scientist but who writes speculative fiction. In the beginning, I was hoping for the One True Guide that would lead me on to the promised land of easy, accurate, and organized back-story creation, but I have since realized what all successful writers in the genre figured out long before I did.

There is no such thing. World-building and conlang construction are messy and time-consuming, and what you don't already know about the sciences you had better learn, because lots of scientists like to read speculative fiction, and they will tell you if you've published a piece of fiction with scientific mistakes in it. However, the...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I highly recommend the poet study Beowulf and other Old English poems before attempting work in this form. All of my examples are in Modern English, since that is the language I write in, and I presume it is the language my readers write in as well. I have included resources at the end of the article for those who want to know more about the form and/or hear Old English poetry read aloud. Finally, I should add that I am somewhat new to this form myself, so if any heads wiser than mine find themselves here, I would appreciate comments, corrections and suggestions.

Alliteration

Old English poetry is alliterative, which means that it follows a system of alliteration which binds its verses together and creates a distinctive sound (Baker 119). However, Old English alliteration does not simply make use of the first syllable in each word. Rather, it makes use of the dominant syllable in each word...

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010
A note to guests who have found this page using the links on various eHow articles: I have not given my consent to the authors of these articles to list my work as source material, nor have I approved the content of these articles. In particular, I find the plagiarism of Jessica Cook's article obnoxious and the content of Kelly Sundstrom's article offensive.
A note to Ms. Cook: You claim to be a writer. You should know better than to plagiarize other writers to...
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

According to The Open Source Initiative, "Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in." In lay terms, open source software is community-collaborative, which makes the code stronger and safer. Because of this, it's usually either free to individual users or much lower in cost than closed source products like Microsoft Windows, Office or FrontPage.

I wholeheartedly support open source software and the philosophy of community-collaborative development, software or otherwise, which is why my writing and my web site are open source driven. I recommend the following products:

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In order to make the best use of this recipe, you will already need to know the following:

  1. How to burn an .iso copy of Ubuntu to a CD
  2. How to f-disk and partition your hard drive using a Window$ installation CD
  3. The difference between FAT32 and NTFS

Step One:

Download and burn a copy of the Ubuntu Live CD, and have both it and your Window$ installation CD handy.

Step Two:

Using your Window$ installation CD, f-disk your hard drive and prepare two partitions. The first partition should be formatted as FAT32 and be large enough to hold your Window$ operating system plus installed programs.

Note: Window$ installation CDs will not prepare FAT32 partitions larger than 30 gigabytes. However, most Window$ installations do not require more than a few gigabytes, and most installed programs will not take up more than a few gigabytes beyond that. I recommend a 10-20 gigabyte partition for this step, depending...

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Written by Sean P.O. MacCath-Moran

We LOVE to can food at our house! It's a rare and wonderful treat to be able to pull items from our seasonal harvest off the shelf to find them tasting as fresh as the day they came off the vine. It fills us with pride and joy to give out Yule gifts of our berry and fruit jams or to serve guests sauce we put up over the summer using nothing but vegetables and spices grown in our own garden. Best of all, canning is easy to do and costs very little to get started!

All that being said, there is a dark side to canning. If you mess up, you can grow nasty, nasty things in your canning that have unpleasant effects. Botulism, for example, is a very powerful toxin - just one microgram is lethal to humans, blocking nerve function and leading to respiratory and musculoskeletal paralysis. So, on that cheery thought, let me stress that sanitation is key in successful canning as is good planning and preparation. It's also important...

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Greetings Workshop Attendees and Friends,

Here is the bibliography for the Introduction to Celtic Languages workshop:

  • Ball, M. J., & Müller, N. (2009). The Celtic languages. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • O'Rahilly, T. F. (1936). The Goidels and their predecessors. The Sir John Rhys memorial lecture, British Academy, 1935. London: H. Milford.
  • O'Rahilly, T. F. (1972). Irish dialects past and present.
  • O'Rahilly, T. F. (1946). Early Irish history and mythology. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
  • Russell, P. (1995). An introduction to the Celtic languages. Longman linguistics library. London: Longman.

In addition, here is a list of web site links to various articles of interest mentioned in the Introduction to Celtic Languages workshop. These will open in a new window.

    Cymraeg:
  • ...
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010
A Note to prospective plagiarists: If you're reading this paper in hopes of trying to pass it off as your own, then you should understand a couple of things in advance. First, your instructor knows how well or how poorly you write, because it's your instructor's job to know. So if you try to pass this paper off as your own, your instructor will become suspicious and will probably search the Internet for key phrases in the paper, since that's where most plagiarists steal their information from these days. You can't change this paper enough to thwart that kind of search without writing it from scratch, so you might as well do your homework to begin with and save yourself the failing grade, the course dismissal or the expulsion you would receive for academic dishonesty. Second, I taught college English for five years, and I actively support the efforts of other instructors to uncover and punish instances of academic dishonesty, so if your instructor contacts me with regard...
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Moving from Outlook to Evolution isn’t easy, and there is no single solution at present which will convert your .pst file (the file in which your Outlook information is stored) into a format Evolution can read. This is because the .pst format is proprietary to Micro$oft, and Micro$oft wants to keep your business.

However, I have successfully moved from Outlook to Evolution, so in the interest of contributing to the Open Source community, I am offering my recipe for this procedure here. In order to use this recipe effectively, you will need to already know how to do the following:

  • Use your Window$ search function to locate files on your hard drive.
  • Install programs in Window$
  • Install programs in Ubuntu
  • Find and use the import/export utilities in Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird and Evolution
  • Use a terminal window in Ubuntu to execute command line arguments

Preparation

Step One: Clean up your mail,...

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dale Gadens of the Orion Community Drummers accompanied me as I sang the traditional Irish Gaelic folk song "Caide Sin Don Té Sin?" at the Wildacres 2010 Talent Show.

Video Copyright Sandy Mabery, All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sunday morning, I'll be busking with my Irish music friends at the Eastern Market, and Sunday afternoon I'll be in Milford supporting the Crohn's Walk with my West African drumming friends. Come out and see us if you're local!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A montage of my performance with Sarana VerLin at the Plymouth Art Feast in 2008.

Video Copyright Sarana VerLin, All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, April 29, 2010

I've recently received word that the Graduate School at the University of Aberdeen doesn't plan to offer any funding for my Celtic research. Without funding assistance, even the Fulbright won't be able to bridge the gap between my pocketbook and international British fees for three years. So I've decided not to pursue this academic option any further.

In truth, I've been on the fence about this degree for some months now. I'd begun to have reservations about whether or not the Celtic department and I were a good fit for one another based on substantial differences in our communication styles, so this lack of funding came as much a relief to me as anything else. I hasten to write that I definitely think things are turning out for the best here.

Therefore, I have declined the university's offer of admission, and I am making solid plans in other directions. More news when I have it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The C.S. MacCath web site redesign is underway. This is a major reorganization for the purpose of making the information here more accessible to visitors, so please don't count on pages being exactly where they were before, since much of the content has been consolidated and/or moved. If you're looking for something in particular, try the web site menu structure first. When in doubt, however, the search box on the home page can help you find what you need.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

These are practice rolls and reel cadences recorded during my lessons with Pamela Meisel in 2007. They're provided here with her permission.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I've found a terrific effort at standardized bodhrán notation at www.nardozza.com/bodhran. Clearly the developer of this method had some knowledge of standard percussion notation and brought that knowledge to the bodhrán. I'm copying the .jpg made available on his site to this page in the event his site goes down, but I encourage you to visit his page for more information about the method.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Here is the complete rhythm and song for Fume Fume as practiced by the Orion Community Drummers and taught by Kofi Ameyaw in 2010. Please be advised that these sound files are low-quality.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In order to make use of this article you should:

1.Know what a reel is
2.Be able to read drumming notation

The Exercise

Below you'll find a four-on-the-floor beat ornamented with snare, high tom and closed hi-hat. Swing this when you play it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In order to make use of this article you should:

1.Know what a jig is
2.Be able to read drumming notation

The Hands: Embellishing the Music

I have created a page of exercises that employ the snare drum and straight eighths on the hi-hat symbols. The rhythms sound less like a bodhrán and more like a drum kit, which is to be expected, since they're different instruments. However, by emphasizing beats 1, 3 and/or 4 in a measure and by employing snare drum rim clicks where appropriate, it seems to me that a useful approximation of the bodhrán can happen for drummers in Celtic and Celtic fusion bands.

From here, drummers at the advanced beginner stage (i.e., someone who can keep time and accomplish simple drum fills) should be able to expand the exercises into time and fill patterns of their own creation.

The Exercise

You can download the practice sheet below.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My friend Nigel Dailey, founder of the Druidic Dawn web site, has put my campfire rendition of "The Circle Is Cast" to video. The result is a beautiful montage of Canadian and Welsh scenery set to my voice. I think the video is better than the audio (*grin*), but you can decide for yourself what you think.

Video Copyright Nigel Dailey, All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fefo is an eastern African rhythm I learned while taking a djembe workshop in Chelsea during the early spring of 2007. The files listed below contain the djembe parts for that rhythm and are included here with permission from the instructor of that workshop. Please be advised that these sound files are low-quality.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I checked out my favorite djembe information site to see if any standardized methods for djembe notation could be found. There are a few, but of course I favor those that most resemble standard percussion notatation. You can download the lot of them in the PDF I created of the information I found, which is listed below.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuning Your Kit

The best instructional video I've found for tuning a kit is called: Drum Tuning, Sound & Design. It's a bit pricey as DVDs go, but if you're willing to spend several hundred dollars on a kit, you should be willing to spend $25 to learn how to tune it.

Beginning to Play

The best instructional text I've found for learning to play the instrument is:...

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tiriba is a northeastern African rhythm I learned while taking djembe classes in Ann Arbor during the early spring of 2007. The files listed below contain the djembe parts for that rhythm and are included here with permission from the instructor of that class. Please be advised that these sound files are low-quality.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

These songs represent my initial foray into making popular Folk and Gaelic lyrics available on my web site. Future songs will be listed individually. The songbook is downloadable below as a PDF file.

  • All Around My Hat
  • All For Me Grog
  • An Mhaighdean Mhara
  • A Proper Sort of Gardener
  • Black Velvet Band
  • Bonnie Ship the Diamond
  • The Bonny Streets of Fyve-io
  • Bonny Portmore
  • Boston And St. John's
  • Botany Bay
  • Braes of Sutherland
  • Bustles and Bonnets
  • Caidé Sin Do'n Té Sin
  • Caledonia
  • Captain Kidd
  • Carrighfergus
  • Christians and Pagans
  • Clohinne Winds
  • Close it Down
  • Coisich, A Rùin
  • Come and I Will Sing You
  • Dónal Agus Mórag
  • Drunken Sailor
  • Fiddler's Green
  • Four Green Fields
  • General Taylor
  • Hi Rì Him Bò & Translation...
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Basics

Posture for Right-Handed Players

Sit upright in a chair that has no arms. Plant both of your feet on the floor such that your left leg supports the underside of the drum and your right foot is free to keep time with the rhythm of the music. Tuck the drum between your left upper arm and ribcage such that your body holds it steady and not your left hand. Keep your upper body reasonably still, except for your left hand, right hand, right wrist and right forearm, which should remain loose while you play.

Striking the Drum

Strike the drum with the stick in a 45-degree angle, moving from a position parallel to the floor to a position perpendicular to the floor. Strike the drum with the stick firmly and quickly, in a snapping or bouncing motion, such that you use the momentum of the stick to better articulate strokes.

Striking the Rim

For Reels:
Move the drum away from your body and strike the rim of the drum on the...

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In order to make use of this article you should:

1.Know what a jig is
2.Be able to read drumming notation

Introduction

The bodhrán is a versatile instrument, but the drum kit is more versatile, and the combinations of sound it can bring to Celtic music are vast. However, it's important to remember that Celtic music isn't rock and roll, jazz or any other kind of music and can't be played on the kit as if it is.

The Feet: Emphasizing the Music

When playing a jig on the bodhrán, emphasis is almost always placed on beat 1 of the measure. Additionally, emphasis is often placed on beat 4 of the measure, so that beat 1 is emphasized most, while beat 4 might also be emphasized with a rim click or other device. Slightly less often a double-downstroke is used on beats 1 and 3, so that beat 1 is emphasized most, while beat 3 is slightly softer.

This emphasis translates to the drum kit by means...

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This is the video taken of my summer bodhrán workshop, available here courtesy of Druidic Dawn.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

After Makaly's head split, I took several pictures of the djembe, head and weave and posted them on my web site. My hope was that I might find a replacement Fiberskyn head for the drum and then write an instructional journal entry about how I made the switch.

Sadly, I couldn't find a Fiberskyn head to match my drum, so I sold it. However, several people have found my djembe photos during their online searches, so I have decided to leave them up and point to them specifically in this entry. They're instructional, in their own way, because they show the way a goat skin head can split, the way a traditional djembe body is constructed and the way a djembe weave is put together.

So, here they are. Hope you find them helpful: Djembe Repair.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

These exercises are intermediate in level; you should be able to keep time on a kit and read standard drumming notation to make use of them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In order to make use of this article you should:

1.Know what a reel is
2.Be able to read drumming notation

Introduction

A basic reel rhythm on the bodhrán normally utilizes a strong bass note on the first and/or second beats of the measure, which serves to 'drive the tune'. On the kit, this is accomplished with the bass drum followed by ornamentation on the snare, toms and hi-hat in beats three and four.

The Exercises

These exercises follow that framework in that they employ a bass note in beats one and two and ornaments with the other drums thereafter. Unlike the jig exercises, the sheet music below is not divided into foot and hand work. Rather, it progresses from rudiments in the first exercise to more complex rhythms in the second. An intermediate bodhrán and kit drummer should be able to improvise from there to create exercises that cultivate skill in more complex Celtic kit rhythms....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

About ten years ago, I bought a pennywhistle for ten bucks at some Irish gift store in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario. When I took it home and tried to play it, my beloved cat Spot jumped up onto my desk and tried desperately to rescue me from it by swatting it out of my hands. This happened every time I played the thing, so eventually I gave up and went on to other pursuits.

But I never forgot how much I loved the way the instrument sounded, and through a confluence of personal realizations I won't bore you with here, I decided I needed another, better pennywhistle. So I bought a custom-made instrument from a flute-maker in Florida.

It still smells of wood smoke (and clove, strangely) and has a sweet, clear throat. I have decided to call it Spot, after my dear...

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This is Kofi Ameyaw singing the lyrics to Naki, a lullaby in the Ga language, during a monthly clinic for the Orion Community Drummers in 2009. This piece was popularized by Obbo Tete Adde. Please be advised that these sound files are low-quality.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Here are two djembe parts for Dibon as practiced by the Orion Community Drummers in 2009. Please be advised that these sound files are low-quality.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Here is the complete rhythm for Kotejura as practiced by the Orion Community Drummers in 2009. Please be advised that these sound files are low-quality.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Here are the dununba parts for Sorsonet, as practiced by the Orion Community Drummers in 2009. Please be advised that these sound files are low-quality.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

River Tam danced to this tune in an episode of Firefly. It's a Scottish jig and beloved to me for its connection to one of my all-time favorite science fiction series.

Many thanks to the Whistle This! web site for providing me with the resources to learn this tune. To hear it performed by other musicians on the Whistle This! web site, click here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

...arrived yesterday via international post. In other news, I am considering a web site redesign as a prelude to my pending PhD studies. This web site is a useful, functional thing for a writer with musical proclivities, but the theme is intentionally somewhat whimsical, and there's a great deal of dated information here organized somewhat loosely. I also don't know how I feel about the 'talking on the Internet' paradigm of my journal entries either, though it might be fun to journal my academic progress through the PhD. We'll see... For the foreseeable future though, things will remain as they are.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I am delighted to announce that my poem entitled, "The Interstitial Fairy Demolition Crew Casts a Circle" will appear in the Summer Solstice 2010 issue of Eternal Haunted Summer.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"A Path Without Bones" is now available in Eternal Haunted Summer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I am delighted to announce that my short poem entitled, "A Path Without Bones" will appear in Eternal Haunted Summer. This is a relatively new online market for Pagan fiction, poetry and reviews, and I wholeheartedly support its endeavor to connect Pagan writing with Pagan readers. Do go check it out!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Today I received informal/e-mail acceptance to the University of Aberdeen for my PhD, with promises of paperwork to follow.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My short poem "Fetters" is now available in the Winter 2010 issue of Goblin Fruit.

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