This is an excerpt from my novel, Carmina, which I hope someday will be finished. Like the people in this story, however, I seem to be wandering in Faery and despair of ever finding my way out. First draft, and I wanted to suggest archaic speech without actually using too much of it.


A band of travelers through Faery come upon a man sitting beside a wandering path through the woods.


He held his head in his hands as if in despair. He was dressed in nothing but a nightshirt and a pair of highly embroidered red mules with leather soles. They looked comfortable but considerably the worse for wear. At the sound of their approach, he jumped to his feet with an excited and expectant look upon his face and cried out a great rush of speech that some of them had trouble understanding.

“Is he speaking English?” asked Bobo.

“Yes,” Jeremy answered, “a 17th century version with a thick Highland Scots accent. He says his name is Reverend Robert Kirk and he came here in 1692. I’m from 18th century London, so his accent is not such a stretch for me.

“Do you wish me to speak like an Englishman?” the Reverend asked in a peeved but more moderated accent.

Bobo gave an embarrassed laugh. “No offense. My American ears aren’t accustomed to the Scottish accent.”

The Reverend scratched the stubble on his head. “American? Are you from one of the colonies, then?”

“Things have changed somewhat in the world since you…departed,” Jeremy explained. “The colonies broke away from the English crown in 1776 and formed a new country, alternately called America and the United States of America.”

“Is it?” The Reverend looked quite startled, holding his hand over his heart as if it pained him. He seemed to rally and straightened his shoulders. “No blame can attend anyone for wanting to break away from the English crown.”

“What can we do for you?” asked Jeremy.

“I should dearly love a pair of breeks—or what passes for them in your time. Some smallclothes would also be appreciated.”

“Smallclothes?” asked Bobo.

“Underwear,” Carmina explained.

“Aye, indeed,” said the Reverend. “Under wear. I should be grateful for more sturdy shoes, as well, but do not wish to impose.”

They looked pointedly at Ramannes [an Elfin lord].

He sighed impatiently, but waved his hand and produced a pair of men’s drawers and some gabardine trousers which he handed to the Reverend. In his other hand was a pair of brown work boots and socks like Jeremy wore, which he also handed off.

“The pants have a thing called a zipper,” Jeremy explained. He turned away from Carmina and unzipped and zipped his pants several times to demonstrates. “Takes a little getting used to but it’s quite efficient. Only—” He laughed self-consciously. “Make sure you have your…personal bits out of the way of the zipper teeth. It can be quite painful.”

The Reverend raised his chin to look down his nose as much as he was able, considering how much shorter he was than Jeremy. “I shall endeavor to take care.”

He stepped back into the trees. They heard huffing and puffing and an occasional mutter of Noo jist haud on! or Keep the heid! Eventually he stepped back onto the path, his nightshirt tucked into the trousers and the trousers tucked into the work boots.

He held the mules in his hand. “I do not wish to discard these, worn as they may be, for they have personal meaning to me.”

Otto, who had been silent through all this conversation, looking more and more anxious as it went on, asked earnestly, “Did you go to sleep and awaken in this place?”

“Nae, not quite.”

“Tell us, please,” said Otto. “I wish very much to know how it was for you.”

“Well. I was home. At the manse. In Aberfoyle.” The Reverend drew in a large breath, his eyes losing their focus on the people around him. “It was a brisk night, but none sae bad, being May. The air was filled with that ineffable essence of spring that fills the heart with quiet joy. The knowe—” He stopped a moment to moisten his lips and looked away down the road. “The hill near my manse in Aberfoyle was covered in bluebells, a fair mad host of them crowding the knowe, seeming to have sprung up overnight.

“Sae beautiful they were when I looked out my window at twilight with the last of the sun on their tops, a sweet indigo glow. They called to me but I didna go then for I had other things which needed attending and as it was my habit to visit the hill at night before bed, I waited.

“It was two days away from the new moon and dark as pitch when I slipped into my mules for the walk, and took a wee lantern as I ascended the hill path. I was not afraid of the dark, mind, but sensible of not wanting to stumble and do myself some injury.”

His laugh was bitter. “Aye, wouldna have wanted to do myself an injury. But I had no mind of harm as I walked. The lantern made a beautiful glow on the bluebells and the trunks of the pines, and the air, as I said, was brisk but sweet. I couldna seem to draw enough of it into my lungs. I wanted more and more and more, sae sweet it was, and the bluebells danced in the light and up the path.

“Further up the knowe I heard a song thrush calling—my first of the year. ‘Here! Here!’ it seemed to say. ‘This way! This way! Night is calling! Only a fool would tarry!’ It quite led me on in joy.

“Behind me an owl called, hollow and haunting, but I thought nothing of it. The song thrush grew louder, pulling me onward and upward. The sweet perfume of the bluebells was overwhelming. Which should have struck me as odd, because their fragrance is usually reserved for the sunlight.

“But I carried on. I carried on.”

The Reverend rubbed his hand over his mouth, but still didn’t look at any of them, his eyes miles and centuries away. “I had gone quite further than I intended, quite further than my usual habit on these nightly walks. No matter how far up the knowe I traveled, the song thrush seemed just as far away. I stopped beside a stately old pine and leaned on it to catch my breath. The bark was rough against my hand, slightly damp and chill from the night air. The sharp pine scent mixed with the sweetness of the bluebells, but it was not a disharmonious mingling. It quite filled my head.

“Then suddenly, the song thrush was in the branches above my head, uncommonly loud. ‘Come along! Come along!’ it seemed to say.

“I blinked my eyes and there before me on the path lay a man in a nightshirt upon the ground, his lantern beside him, the candle inside quite extinguished sae I couldna see his face. But the light of my own lantern illuminated his mules, one of which was off his foot and tumbled into the path. It bore the same white and gold unicorn my wife had embroidered upon them.

“‘Come along! Come along!’ repeated the song thrush, and the pine tree upon which I leaned turned liquid. My hand sunk into it, and my person followed…into this place of eternal twilight.”

He turned to them then, eyes haunted. “I see by your clothes and your manners that some considerable span of time has passed between then and now.”

“Um, yes.” Jeremy scratched his chin. He knew this would be hard for Kirk to take in. “We ourselves came here from the Year of Our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Two.”

“19—” The Reverend choked, clutched his chest, and sat quite precipitously upon the ground.

Carmina kneeled beside him. “Are you all right, Reverend?”

“Not at all,” he wheezed.

She laid her hand upon his shoulder and his breathing eased a bit.

“Such a little time to me,” he said, “a matter of days. But I know well the ways of Faery and reckoned it must be longer. I thought perhaps one hundred years, though I hoped not sae much. But nearly three? Am I thus sae far from everything I knew?”

“I’m afraid so,” Carmina said gently. “Have you wandered in the woods all this time?”

“Not quite all this time. I heard laughter, wicked and cruel, quite sae soon as I came through to this place, and I knew then what had befallen me and where I had gone. The seelie wights brought me here. I tried to will myself back through that same pine, but it remained stubbornly solid. I reckoned then that the man I spied upon the ground of the pathway must be a changeling for myself, put there by the seelie wights sae none would know I lived still.

“I pictured in my mind my dwelling place and came there—not in body but in spirit. I saw my young wife…” He clutched his heart again and gave a great sigh. “She sat beside my coffin and lamented greatly. She was great with child, nae more than a month away, perhaps, of bringing forth my child. I could see that it would be another son. I wanted to tell her what had come to pass, to not be sae afraid nor downcast, but couldna break through her great sadness. It was the sturdiest of walls, preventing her from hearing me.

“But my cousin Graham was in the next room. He had a touch of the Sight, as I had myself, though not sae strong. I appeared to him and told him that when it came time to baptize my son, I would appear and he must throw his iron dagger over my head to free me or I would be doomed to stay in Faery ever more.”

The Reverend balled his fists. “But the clot-heid was sae startled when I appeared he failed to throw the knife. And I was gone forever, unable to look upon my family again, unable to do anything but wander these forests.”

He looked up with tears in his eyes. “And I have not seen another soul until now. I would hear voices betimes, or more of that wicked laughter, and direct myself towards it, but never caught it up, and then the sounds faded. I knew neither hunger nor thirst, just endless wandering through twisted forests.”

Ramannes, who had listened in silence until then, said coldly, “You peered too closely into what was none of your business. What else did you expect would happen?”

The Reverend nodded. “Aye. I should have known better, but the desire for mysteries was greater than my caution. To pierce the Veil and see the Other while still in the life of a man…that was my pursuit. And my folly.”


I am caught between ideas right now—not too few, but too many. Good ideas, but almost none of them fleshed out enough to start writing, or to continue writing. Or too stubborn to let me move forward right now. I’m also doing a lot of research reading—but I’m pulled in different directions there, as well. Dueling ideas. And even some old, failed novels sending me new solutions to their old problems. So the creative wheels are spinning. Round and round they go, where they stop nobody knows.

I worked on one novel for most of the winter, but it slammed into a wall in March just short of 41k and would go no further no matter what I tried. I think somewhere along the line I took a wrong turn. Usually when novels get mulishly stubborn it’s a sign I’ve headed off into the weeds instead of following the correct path—that through line that takes me to the ending I composed at the beginning of the project. Usually, if I reread I can find where things start to feel hinky, backtrack and move forward in a different direction from that point. But I tried that, thought I’d identified the problem, except that the thing I thought was wrong, the character, insists on remaining. And maybe he wasn’t what was wrong. Maybe the wrong turn happened elsewhere. I haven’t the heart to do yet another reread/figure out session at the moment so I’m letting it lie fallow and attempting to work on something else.

Yes, I hear all the outliner writers telling me I’m in charge, not my characters. Make an outline and make them do what I want. I’ve tried that as well. They threatened to burn my house down. I learned long ago they are in charge and I’m just letting them use my fingers and brain. And I really need my house.

I’m not really complaining (The Unbearable Whininess of Being). I know many artists have been flailing for the last year or so and I’ve been lucky that I’ve kept writing, through the summer and fall and winter. Sometimes sporadically, but inching forward. And I am still writing, just flitting from thing to thing and not getting anything to jell. There are so many terrible things in the world right now and I am so lucky. Perhaps all the terrible things in the world are part of why my focus is strained. So odd that it would dissipate just as there are signs of hope, of seeing people again. As of Thursday my “probation” period will be over. It will have been two weeks since I had my second COVID shot (Moderna).

I do like seeing people, making plans. It’s just that isolation becomes such a habit for people like me. And given the problems with my legs and chronic illness, it sometimes gets reinforced physically. Limited mobility means limiting my plans to what is easily achievable.

People ask me how I’ve been able to stand being inside my house alone for 14 months, but the answer is that I’m never really alone. I’ve got all those characters and the extraordinary worlds they inhabit to keep me company. But when the magic circus packs up and leaves town without allowing me to follow? The walls do start creeping in.

I am extremely lucky. I see that, I feel that. My dear friend and neighbor has invited me to her house on May 15 for high tea, along with two other of my lovely neighbors, taken outside in her zen garden. We’ve all been fully vaccinated. I was the last and they’ve been waiting for my probation to pass.

But frankly, it will be a long while (if ever) before I leave my house unmasked or squeeze into crowded venues. There are the physical limitations, but there are also too many arrogant idiots in the world who think the rules don’t apply to them and why should they get vaccinated? Let somebody else take the risk.

I can only hope my circus animals come back to play, to settle down to their usual tricks and caprices so I can notate their stories. I really don’t want to wallow alone in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

Some ignoramus has posted a video on YouTube showing Frank Sinatra with Nat King Cole actually singing the song, “L.O.V.E.” This is the wonderful and classy Nat King Cole:


Two hours without WiFi and I was hyperventilating. Fortunately, it was a simple fix, but I may have an addiction problem.

Tommy. His eyes were actually a soulful gray, not blue. He was in his forties and had done his soldiering during World War I. He became a special police officer during World War II so the younger men could go and fight.


I found an old keepsake box buried amongst a lot of, well, junk. Some genuine keepsakes inside the box, but also some very old story rejection letters from some of the top magazines, stuff I sent out when I was probably barely out of high school. All form letters, of course. I decided my nostalgia did not stretch to holding on to those any longer. I Kondo’d their a*ses.

That feeling when something seemingly minor turns dark and deep and symbolic…


I WILL NOT JOIN FACEBERG, no matter how many paranormal and Outlander live events they host. I WILL NOT become part of the evil empire! I WILL NOT! (Although I did succumb a little bit and joined Instagram. Mostly as a lurker.)

What to do with all these calendars that people gave me because they didn’t know what else to give me? I only need one and that’s the one with kitties that I bought myself.

Sometimes I look at my house and pity the person who, when I die, will have to clean out and dispose of ALL THESE BOOKS. But mostly I pity the books.

Zero results from the Iowa Caucus are just about right if you consider Iowa’s relative importance to reflecting the diversity of the United States. They give such outsized importance to Iowa and New Hampshire. Nothing against either of those states but they’re hardly representative of the rest of the country. Yet because somebody gets defeated in either Iowa or New Hampshire often they’re eliminated from the race.

I get nonsense phrases stuck in my head sometimes. When I was doing research for the WIP on Nazi occult matters recently, the nonsense phrase in my cranial echo chamber was, “Otto Rahn on the Autobahn.” Research earworms. I have a weird brain. Fortunately, “Otto Rahn on the Autobahn” made me laugh.

Ray Bradbury famously said about writing, “Jump off a cliff and build your wings on the way down.” I’m at that stage of my current WIP where I’m wondering if I’ve jumped off the wrong goddamned cliff.

I’ve been reading Last Mountain Dancer by Chuck Kinder on and off for about a month. It’s both an interesting and irritating book so I’m not sure I’d wholeheartedly recommend it. I keep reading because it’s about West Virginia where Kinder was born and raised and when he talks about that place, the book sings. Then he goes off into the woods talking about his extramarital affairs and his bad boy ways and it gets boring. (I am so done with middle-aged male angst.)

But yeah, when he talks about what a remarkable and strange place West Virginia is on so many levels it’s worth the read. He goes into many legends, those arising from the tragedies of Matewan and the coal mine bosses, as well as Mothman and other less well-known oddities. It turns out his mother was born and raised in Point Pleasant, WV, home of Mothman, and that her maiden name was Parsons—which will have some meaning to those who follow Hellier.

I was watching a show on Hadrian’s Wall and Vindolanda where they’ve discovered lots of messages to and from soldiers. In one of them the soldier refers to the tribes they were trying to keep north of the wall as “Britunculi”: “nasty little Britains.” My people!

Hellier has made me way too map conscious. Every time I see something weird about a place I always have to find out where it is in relation to Point Pleasant or Somerset or Hellier or whatever. And it’s kind of amazing how much weirdness connects up.

I say this knowing full well how much the human mind longs for linkages and synchronicities.

Lewis Black: “Trump is good for comedy the way a stroke is good for a nap.”

Patrick Stewart was on Colbert the other week talking about when he was younger he and Ben Kingsley were here in LA doing Shakespeare, along with some other actors of the RSC. He said he and Ben went to Hollywood because they were excited to see the hand- and footprints at the Chinese theater (Sir Pat recently joined the famous hand- and footprints there). But the whole time he’s talking I was remembering being a young undergraduate at UCLA where Sir Pat and Sir Ben were doing those Shakespeare performances. During the day when they were not rehearsing or going to Hollywood all of the actors from the RSC would come to classrooms where Shakespeare and theater were being taught, talk to the students, and give impromptu performances. I was lucky enough to be in two such classes. One was Shakespeare, the other on Modern Theatre. I snuck into a third class taught in the theater department and held in an auditorium, but the other two were small English department classrooms. I was lucky enough to sit no more than 6-10 feet away from Sir Pat and Sir Ben while they answered questions and did impromptu performances. Utterly thrilling, even though neither of them was famous at that time. They were just masterful actors doing amazing performances up close and personal. Sir Ben still had his hair back then. Sir Pat did not. But his voice was that rich dark chocolate even back then. PRESENCE, both of them, and I never forgot.

There’s hope, I think, even thought the GOP did not have the guts to do the right thing. During the impeachment trial I called my doctor’s office and the answering service picked up. As she took my message I heard the impeachment trial playing in the background. America is listening. We won’t forget. I hope they still remember next November.

I’ve been doing some clean-up work on my blog, trying to eliminate duplications and other messes that happened long ago when I transferred it from LJ to Dreamwidth. It’s never been a high-priority thing, but something I dip into when I’m in the mood to do something fairly mindless (and kidding myself it’s productive). (Or as a time waster instead of writing, but we won’t talk about that.)

I ran across an old post from June of 2011 which was just at the beginning of my caregiving for my mother when she was on peritoneal dialysis and still able to do most things for herself. That changed in September of that year when she had her stroke—but that’s not the point of this post. Apparently, in June I had just finished my last read through/clean up of my second completed novel, Blood Geek. I think maybe I had the idea of self-publishing. That idea was overtaken by my mother’s illness and never came about. It’s just as well, I suppose. It was a decent effort, but not my best work.

But that’s not the point of this post, either. In the above-referenced post I was talking about the strange parallel of writing a novel (almost twenty years prior at that point) about a woman whose early life had been constrained by caring for her sick mother. She was just about to break free and live life for herself. In 2011 I was rather amazed by the “haunting echo, now that I am helping to care for my own mother, that keeps bouncing through the chambers of my heart. It’s a little disturbing. I knew more than I thought I knew back then.” But in June of 2011 I had no idea, really, of what was to come, how consuming caregiving would be, how it would leave no room for anything but working and caring, how it squeezed out all time for anything like creativity.

But again, that’s not the point of this post. This is, this paragraph I came across:

And now I am in a different phase of my life. I have no vision for what comes next. I can’t see that far beyond the day-to-day. I do know that when I get back to writing something new again, I don’t want it to echo that day-to-day in the slightest. Which is not to say I might not use some of these characters again—in fact, I fully intend to. But they will be engaged in some other enterprise, something that blows the doors open to other worlds with no fences.

What blows the doors off my mind on this day, in 2020, is that I am writing new things again, and the new novel I’m writing does involve some of the same characters—in a whole new enterprise, a whole new process of growth and transformation. (And I am going through that transformation with them.) I haven’t really thought about these characters much in the last nine years, although one of them, Carmina, kept popping up now and then to insist she had a story I really needed to tell. I poked at her story over the years, but beyond the first two chapters, nothing gelled. I didn’t start last year thinking she will be the one. I started last year just trying to write something, anything. And then I wrote a completely different novel in a completely different universe. Also one I’d used before, but nothing to do with these characters.

Yet here I am. Happy and more than a little surprised that this fall Carmina’s story finally took off.

And that’s why I say that no story I have ever committed to paper or electrons (or, hell, even the ones that knock around in my head that I haven’t bothered to do that with) is every truly dead—until I am. Or until my brain blows out. Even my first completed novel, which if I have anything to say about it will never see the light of day, has produced nuggets that I have mined and used in later books. Like the clerk in the dead parrot sketch of Monty Python fame keeps insisting, these stories are not dead. Even if I’m not aware of them on a conscious level, they’re still in there. Resting.

I was awakened early this morning by my Nest smoke detector (a Google product) malfunctioning. No smoke, no fire, but after I’d turned the damned thing off three times it would no longer allow me to do that. The firemen came to confirm no fire, no smoke, and physically disabled the alarm to shut it the f*** up. They suggested that maybe the batteries were no good, although they’d been changed about 4 months ago when the technician came out to inspect things. I had turned the heat on about an hour before this happened, but it wasn’t the first time I’d used it this fall.

This is also not the first time this has happened, although last time was not nearly as traumatic. That time (about a year ago?) it woke me up at 1:30 a.m. shouting, “ATTENTION!!! THERE’S SMOKE IN THE LIVING ROOM!!! THE ALARM MAY GO OFF!!!”

I jumped out of bed and searched frantically for smoke but found none. The alarm never did go off and reset itself. About 20 minutes later I checked the app and it said something like, “Smoke has dissipated.” I went back to bed but didn’t get back to sleep very soon. The next day I had the company come out and inspect the furnace and alarm system but they could find nothing wrong.

I occasionally will smell smoke from the neighbors’ firepit in my house, but they would hardly have been using it at 1:30 on a weeknight, nor (I suspect) early this morning. There were no fires burning in the area on that occasion, either, although I have smelled them in my house at times (and there’s a fire about 20 miles from here which started yesterday). Ironically, the system has never gone off when I have smelled this smoke. But after that first time when the furnace people found nothing, I called the local fire department’s non-emergency number and explained what happened and asked if they could suggest a next step. They said they could come out when they had a lull period and inspect the house, which they did. They used these detectors that see through walls to check for hot wiring that might cause problems, as well as scanning all the appliances, and found nothing.

I’ve been reading online about problems with Nest. Apparently, what happened to me is not unknown. Sometimes the latest high tech is <i>not</i> a good thing. I’m considering having the whole damned thing yanked out. Of course this would happen when my cash flow ain’t great. That seems to be one of the rules for appliances of all kinds.

Typically, when I complained about this on Twitter, I was contacted shortly thereafter by Made By Google (@madebygoogle) offering help and asking me if I had a 1st generation product (which they’ve admitted elsewhere has problems). I do not have a 1st generation product. So. Make of that what you will.

First World problems, but frustrating nonetheless.

I may not pause to look at your pics/video of your kids, but I will always pause to look at your pics/videos of your cats and dogs. I do not dislike kids, it’s just that I really like cats and dogs.

Sometimes when I go through the house and realize I’ve left a whole bunch of lights on I say to myself, “What, are we made of money?” Early programming never dies.

I have never been, and never will be, the kind of writer who writes 10k in a day. That’s probably partly due to me being a pantser, figuring things out as I go, stopping here and there to do spot research. What did workmen wear in the 1940s? What sodas were popular? I don’t think I’ve ever written 10k in one day.

But I’ve consistently ground out the words every day. An average for me would be between 500-750 words, two to three pages, laying that yellow brick road down every day, and thereby I have completed 7 novels, and working on an 8th. Now and then I may have an effervescent day of 1200 words, or 3k. I think I once did 7500 in one day, but those are rare and precious moments of flow. And I’m okay with that. Slow and steady also gets the job done. This week I passed the 10k mark on my new novel. Feels good.

I write until I don’t know what happens anymore, then I stop. Overnight, maybe in my dreams, the story continues and the next day when I come back to my manuscript, I do know what happens next and I go until it stops. That’s my magic, and I’m glad to have it back again.

Sometimes I think it’s better to not understand things.

I love how Jake Tapper characterizes Jordan: “the jacketless Jim Jordan who normally isn’t on this committee but was put onto it to be a bulldog.” That dog may hunt but he don’t never bring back the game.

Jim Jordan reminds me of a guy who keeps a jar under his desk to urinate in.

I like big rings and I cannot lie.

Nail polish: Blueprint by I’d been wearing it for a couple of weeks when this picture was taken, so it was a little the worse for wear.


It’s so odd writing again for characters I first created 5 novels ago (Jeremy, Susan, Carmina, Maff from Blood Geek). Kind of like meeting up with old friends you haven’t talked to in 20 years. You kind of know them, but you kind of don’t, and it’s partially getting to know them all over again but with this strange deja vu.

Oh, criminy! The December 19 Democratic debate is going to be held about two blocks from here, at Loyola Marymount instead of UCLA. Looks like I don’t leave the house that day.

The Lao Tzu quote I used for the November 8 random quote of the day is so ubiquitous that it appears on t-shirts and coffee mugs, but I couldn’t verify that he actually said it. I don’t normally like to use quotes I can’t verify because there’s already too much of that on the internet. And I try to avoid ubiquitous quotes altogether, because generally the more ubiquitous they are, the less likely they are to be an accurate attribution. But when I pulled this one out of my random quote file yesterday shortly after posting about learning to live with limitations on Twitter, I thought, “Okay, Universe, I get the message.” I felt I had to use it. So, “attributed to Lao Tzu” and adding to its ubiquitousness. (Any time I use “attributed to” it means I couldn’t verify the authenticity of the attribution but decided to use the quote anyway.)

An interesting article on art and arthritis:

We overcome what we must. I’m kind of in a place now where I’ve said to myself, “You can either limit yourself because of your legs [arthritis] or do what you are able to and not make excuses.” This is almost a daily argument I have with myself.

I think I finally turned the corner there (and I really am so much better off than so many others). I’m still limited but trying not to limit myself. It’s tough not to give in to despair and self-pity sometimes, though, when you can’t do things like you used to do. But that accomplishes nothing. The lady in the arthritis article come through it, too, after a requisite period of mourning.

Losing my eyesight would be utter devastation. I think of what it did to my mom. Her stroke left her with severe vision impairment and she’d been a visual artist all her life. But she never gave up, not until maybe the last six months of her life when other things started to take their toll.

I fear sight loss, too. But that’s a fear for another day, and not part of my current objective reality. We have to deal with what’s on our plate right now, and keep digging deep to find the resources to continue in some way to be who we truly are.

If I had an RV, I’d call my RV Maria.

Yoiks. So many talking heads in the chapter I’ve been working on, and characters standing around frozen until it’s their turn to talk. I look forward to the rewrites. A very long scene, and possibly told from the wrong POV, but talking heads are easy to write when you’re trying to get through a lot of information. Not so much interesting to read, though. I still look forward to the rewrites.

People love to hate, and they love dancing around in their underwear feeling superior to everyone else.

Here’s another interesting article: “Ancestor Worship with Mother Nature: How Indigenous Death Rituals Illuminate the Web of Life” by Maria Popova:

The worst earworms are ones that play in your sleep and every time you wake up the tune starts up. Or is that just me? For a week, every time I woke up “My Darling Clementine” started playing in my head. I finally had to unleash extreme countermeasures by singing “Brandy” to myself until that replaced it. Lately, they have improved considerably. “Brandy” was replaced by “Look At Me,” which is heavy rotation on a VW commercial right now, then “Ave Maria,” also in heavy commercial rotation (Amazon). But that has now been replaced by Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” which is not in a commercial but a gift from the gods. A much classier run of earworms.

In 1901, two English ladies—Miss Moberly and Miss Jourdain—experienced a timeslip while visiting Versailles, going back for an interlude to the time of Marie Antoinette. They detailed this story in a book called An Adventure. You can read about it here:

If you click on the link, then click on “The Music of An Adventure” you can hear a transcription one of the ladies, Ms. Jourdain, a talented musician, made of a strain of music she heard while “there.” Not surprisingly, they received much ridicule from the male establishment of the time, but they clung to their accounts for the rest of their lives. There are inconsistencies in their stories, but other things they reported would have taken a great deal of research on their part to get right. So the account remains controversial even today.

Still, it’s a cranking great yarn. And I say, all cranking great yarns should be true, even if they aren’t.

The Getty Fire was still quite a ways from me but it got perilously close to the LA Basin. The LA Basin isn’t more important than the other areas that have burned but it’s densely packed. If the fires get into the Basin I don’t know how they’ll stop them. It’s something to worry about every time fire gets close to the really crowded areas. Fire departments are stretched so thin right now. They heroically got on top of the Getty fire this time, but we’re still burning, homes are still being lost.

California is a trend leader in many ways. But I would rather not be on the front lines of the devastation caused by global warming. Californians are sharing that with our brethren in hurricane, tornado, and typhoon country. But make no mistake: global warming is coming for us all.

I changed my alarm sound from the annoying ding ding ding ding ding ding a-ding to the sound of a hooting owl echoing in a forest. It’s eerie and wondrous when it drops into the silence of my room.

Someone was talking about animism the other day and it made me think of Ayahuasca, the visionary drug processed by the Quechua people of the Amazon. It’s an arduous process to bring forth the drug, involving many steps, and not at all intuitive. When a Westerner asked the shaman how his people learned to process it he said, “The spirit of the plant told us.”

Trust the road
no matter where it
takes you, how many
forks and crossroads.
Wherever it leads,
in any direction,
is the path you must follow.

Looks like the giant Tick fire was started by a guy who was living in junkyard like conditions and decided to cook his lunch outside on the barbecue. In Santana wind conditions. Florida had nothing to do with it.

I finished the old compilation novel (Beneath a Hollow Moon) and put it in a trunk where it will get moldy or will come back out again and I can make it new. I’ve started another novel, one I’d written a couple of chapters on a long time ago. In fact, chapter one was the last Editor’s Choice I received from the Online Writing Workshop for SFF (OWW) before I left it. Carmina. It’s been doing a siren call to me for the last couple of months, and so far the writing’s been going well. Except for those two previously written chapters it’s completely new writing and that feels really good. Also, a completely different universe from the previous novel, and that also feels good. And the best part? I know the end but have no idea how I’ll get there! I’m stumbling around, but I feel like I’ve finally come home again.

I’ll forever be grateful for the things I learned from OWW, the community I was a part of, and the encouragement I received there. Invaluable.

It’s a process of letting go:
of youth,
of those we love,
of seasons of
grief and joy.
Let them go, let them fly.
Let them find new homes,
or sink away into the earth,
away from my fading heart,
my lightening soul.
Away, now!

19 Apr
All I can legitimately talk about is my own process—in whatever. It’s presumptuous to assume everyone’s process will be the same. However, talking too much about one’s own process is talking too much about one’s self, so it’s something of a No-Win.

19 Apr
Conspiracy theory is just another form of denial.

19 Apr
I just realized I forgot to take the poem out of my pocket from Poem In My Pocket Day. But at least it’s in “my other pants.” 🙂

23 Apr
In May it’ll be two years since I last worked on my last novel. I’d say where did the time go but I know: down the whirlpool of caregiving. I was born to take care of people, apparently. My life has no other meaning. There’s just no time for anything else. I can’t help feeling much of the time as if my life, everything I valued about my life, is over. I’m so tired most weeks I wonder if I’ll make it through to the other side. There are good days, but most days I just grind it out as best I can. Some days, it just piles up. But I’m still moving.

And being free of caregiving means someone I love is gone. There’s no happy ending, as my friend Lisa says.

There are millions of people out there just like me. Caregiving is the unrecognized and unacknowledged crisis in this country

My friends tell me my creativity will come back, that everything is cyclical, and I believe them, but it’s sometimes hard to see that from here. I keep trying. “I’ll just read a chapter a day, or part of a chapter.” But something always happens. And writing from scratch? Unthinkable at this point.

Okay, enough of the self-pity party. I took the time to reread the first chapter of that last novel and tweak it. Holds up well.

23 Apr
In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.


25 Apr
Jacob’s Dream was playing in the cafeteria so I just had to tell everyone about the Lost Children of the Alleghenies: 
Everyone was properly riveted and scads went to You Tube and the links I provided.

26 Apr
Back at the ER this morning. Mom got an IV of antibiotics. Now we’re waiting to see if we can go home.

27 Apr
Even in stressful times there are compensations in this world: hearing David Sedaris sing the Oscar Meyer bologna song as Billie Holliday. Laughed so hard I cried. The guy in the car next to me looked concerned, like I might be having a fit. I was. The good kind. 

27 Apr
So my printer and my dishwasher went belly up the same night.  I’m sure there’s a pattern there but I’m too tired to figure it out.

29 Apr
Leaving Mom on mornings when she’s not doing well are heartbreaking but if I didn’t leave on those mornings I would have long since lost my job.

29 Apr
I find it absolutely hilarious that Hitler was a vegetarian. Even funnier? The ardent vegetarians that try to backpedal that fact. I know many fine human beings who are vegetarians but there’s a vocal minority that do seem to have something in common with Nazis.

30 Apr
“Dammit I’m mad” spelled backwards is “Dammit I’m mad.”

3 May
I guess the house is officially mine. I’ve just had my first plumbing disaster. This time it was the 50 gallon water heater that went belly up.

3 May
John Hancock Life Insurance is dicking around about paying me the money they owe me. I guess that’s why they have cock in their name.

4 May
It’s a morning for people saying stupid ass stuff and I am not in the mood to be nice about it.

 That tenderness of a few days ago is still there but having a harder time swimming up from the cesspool.

 That’s in the nature of this process, though. If you don’t like the mood you’re in wait an hour and it may change.

8 May
Now I know what was wrong with the opening of that novel: I put a gun on the mantelpiece and never used it again (figuratively).

 How many years did it take me to figure that out?

 I really love that opening (and it works in so many other ways) so I’ll have to find a way of using that “gun.”
 Although I do seem to recall another writing truism about using that gun to murder your something-or-others…What was that again?

8 May
My old, beloved neighborhood that I grew up in, has become the Shrine of the Unknown Hipster. You may have heard of it: Silicon Beach? I literally grew up on 4th Avenue near Rose, the very heart of Hipsterville now. I way preferred it when it was the ghetto: funky, beloved ol’ Venice.

9 May
You don’t get to be a crone just by getting older. There’s a experiential component to it. And man, is that a bitch. Which is also a separate thing from being a crone.

13 May
I’ve just come up with the last line for my novel, Carmina. I guess it’s a real story now.

13 May
Well, at least I made it down to the final 800 submissions. :-/ Probably just as well. I don’t have time for a writing career right now.

14 May
John Hancock Life Insurance, the company that isn’t giving me ma money, mistakenly informed the state of California that Mom is deceased—but only on one of numerous policies they have in her name. The others are still in force. Also, they told us a few months back that no other policies existed. Now all of a sudden they’re breeding like rabbits. Do not use John Hancock EVER.

15 May
Social Medea is the name of my next band.

15 May
I’m halfway through chapter six on the read-and-clean final of that novel I didn’t touch for two years.

The books I’m reading (I pick these up and put them down, but all of these are currently inching forward):

  1. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
  2. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (the book du jour)
  3. Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C. G. Jung
  4. Trickster: An Anthropological Memoir by Eileen Kane
  5. Legends of the Fire Spirits by Robert W. Lebling
  6. Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch by Henry Miller
  7. The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture by Walter L. Williams
  8. When Ghosts Speak: Understanding the World of Earthbound Spirits by Mary Ann Winkowski
  9. and my own book Shivery Bones, doing one last bloody read-through.

Books I’m writing: If you count worldbuilding and creative noodling, then I’m writing Carmina and The Numberless Stars.  If you’re talking about actual words getting written, then I ain’t currently writting nothin’.

The book I love the most: Couldn’t possibly choose.  I usually love the one I’m with.

The last book I received as a gift: I made a killing on book gift certificates.  I’ve included all the books I bought this way—not really to brag, but because I wouldn’t want any of these books to have their feelings hurt because I left them off the list.  (I anthropomorphize everything.) (Hi, Lisa!):

  1. Caveat Emptor by Ruth Downie
  2. Holy Ghosts: Or, How a (Not So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night by Gary Jansen
  3. Spooky California: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore by S. E. Schlosser, Paul G. Hoffman (Illustrator)
  4. Lover Unleashed by J. R. Ward
  5. Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
  6. Red-Robed Priestess: A Novel (The Maeve Chronicles) by Elizabeth Cunningham
  7. Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
  8. Meditations with Meister Eckhart by Matthew Fox
  9. Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner
  10. Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
  11. Everyday Tarot by Gail Fairfield

The last book I gave as a gift: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

I’m dying to write something new, itching for it, and I know just what novel I want to work on next. It’s been plumping in my mind for weeks now while I work on other things.

All of which is a good thing, except I can’t work on anything new because I’ve got to finish revisions on Blood Geek first. Then there’s the question of when to finish the next round of revisions on Venus in Transit. I wasn’t entirely happy with it when I got through with that last hard slog. I’m not talking about perfectionism here. I’ve long since given that up. I’m talking about having a workable draft, something I can polish and start sending out.

Yet if I diddle around too long with old ideas, I’m afraid the new idea will die on the vine. It might anyway, because as I’ve said before, my writing time is extremely limited these days. I’m determined to chip out time every day, but weekends have become very difficult, and mostly the default has become my lunch hour at work. That’s always been somewhat sacrosanct, but last week, even that got eroded away. I had to run errands at lunch every day last week. It made me despair a little. Or more.

But this week I’m back on track with my revisions and feeling generally better about a lot of things. I think Venus will have to wait, though she’s notoriously impatient. I really do believe I need to balance the old with the new, the revisions with the creation. Carmina has been talking to me consistently lately: low whispers while I sleep, a sudden bright snatch of song as the sun dapples the leaves while I’m driving to work, shared shadowy confidences while I move down a hallway and turn a corner.

She’s there. She’s waiting for me to be ready for her. I really think I have to follow her lead.

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