I ran across an old reading meme and decided to do it again. Because life is short and why not waste time? (Although I don’t believe reading or talking about reading is ever wasting time.)

Question: Do you have a regular place you read? What books are currently waiting there?          

Nan by Elizabeth Kingston
A novella set in the world of her medieval romance trilogy which I devoured in a month. Well-written and with incredibly dimensional and nuanced characters, these are books I will hold on to: The King’s Man; Fair, Bright, and Terrible; and Desire Lines. (I hope there will be more!)

The 37th Parallel by Ben Mezrich
A Hellier inspired purchase. So, you know, paranormal non-fiction.

Fairies: A Guide to Celtic Fair Folk by Morgan Daimler
Research reading for the current WIP, concise and easy to read.

Tarot for Writers by Corinne Kenner
Using tarot for world-building, character, and writing prompts. I haven’t gotten very far into it and I’m not sure it will be completely useful for the way I write but whatever.

The Archetype of Initiation by Robert L. Moore
A Jungian approach and quite fascinating. Also inspired by Hellier.

The Underworld Initiation by R.J. Stewart
Because one cannot have too many books on initiation, right? More of a mythological/psychic approach.

I’m actively reading all of these except the last, cycling them in and out. I think reading both books on initiation simultaneously might get confusing, so I’m saving Stewart’s book.

Well, this Musings post is grossly long, and maybe a bit dated, but I started throwing things into the file, then got caught up in the holidays—and God forbid anyone should be deprived of my Musings. [insert barf emoji] At least it has a lot of pictures.

One of my most profound mystical experiences, or contact with the numinous, was invoked by a dead cat. It changed me from near-atheist to “oh I get it now.” Thank you, Mocha. The Mocha Hierophany.

Mocha, an old soul from the 80s:

New Year’s Day sunset: Even enhancing the color on this doesn’t come close to the intensity of the light. Nothing ever beats Nature. Thank you, Nature.

The same sky from my friend who lives a few miles from here. This one captures the immensity of the sky better than mine did, how the clouds seemed to go on forever.

Here’s a question for you: is poetry a purely mammalian response to the world? Is magic? Would intelligent and highly advanced reptiles, for instance, have that sense of wonder and awe and poetry? I don’t want to be Mammalian-Centric.

I always think of the four of swords as the “rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated” card. (Yes, dad jokes help me remember the meanings.)

A few days before the new year (December 30th) I found out that I share blood with one of the accused Salem witches (Mary Leach Ireson). We’re descended from the same ancestor (Richard Leech) through the brother (Lawrence Leech) of my direct ancestor (Thomas Leech). Maybe that’s why I’ve always been obsessed with these trials. I particularly like the “maybe you were a witch but didn’t know it” line of questioning. Apparently, the “maybe I’m a witch but didn’t know it” defense worked because she wasn’t executed and lived until 1711.

As I’ve said before, women rarely appear in the historical record unless they’ve suffered some trauma.

I have so much work to do and a limited amount of time. But time is not my enemy. If I focus on what needs to be done, not allowing myself to be distracted, I will do what I need to do. The only reason I say it isn’t against me is because I will do what I can do. If time runs out, then it does. It will eventually anyway so why so sweat it?

You know that weird stuff you have to clear from your parents or grandparents’ homes when they pass? When you reach a certain age you can’t be arsed about good taste. Sometimes you just want stuff that makes you giggle or because you know it will chagrin some of the people who inherit it.

I finally got my Red Book set up so that people can actually see it instead of being hidden away in a room they can’t go in.

Last month I pulled my novel Venus In Transit out of the trunk. I started working on it in 1999. It was inspired by Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality and later given shape and spin by George P. Hansen’s The Trickster and the Paranormal. Plus all those thousands and thousands of paranormal shows I’ve watched over the years and many another paranormal book. I had the novel in a fairly polished state and was getting ready to start marketing it when my mother had a stroke and my world went all to hell for several years. Then there was the very long and painful writer’s block afterwards.

Things started to loosen up for me artistically after watching season one of Hellier last year—and that’s when I had my Hellier related synchronicity storm. Which let me know I was on the right track creatively. I finished one novel this summer and started working on another. Then Hellier Season 2 came along. It fed my head yet again, and there was something about the discussion in that series of pushing through frustration that reminded me of the artistic process.

Whenever an artist, or at least any artist I know, reaches a point of frustration it’s often the sign of imminent breakthrough to a new way of doing things. Pushing through that frustration is a vital part of the process. So I got out that old paranormal novel with an idea to see if it really was ready to market and I fell into a hole with it for about a week. That edit is done, but when I got to the part in the story where my investigator discovers strange, small, three-toed footprints with dermal ridges, I thought, “No one will ever believe I didn’t get this from Hellier.” But those are the breaks. Hellier2 did encourage me to pull it back out of the trunk and that’s got to be a good thing.

Hellier is beautifully shot and edited. I remember when the granddaddy of paranormal shows, Ghost Hunters, premiered. They used that cinema vérité style which gave a feel of credibility (and because it was cheap to produce), but imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Most of what’s come since has been crap.

My life is a lot better since I’ve given up trying to find ultimate answers. I’m more content trying to find ultimate questions.

Well, I got within 100 pages of finishing Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson but my medieval porn book arrived so…sorry Neal.

Cats exist simultaneously in this time/space and in hyperspace which is why they always seem to take up a vastly greater amount of space than their physical bodies would imply.

I’ve been to both Disneyland and the “Disneyland of Cemeteries”—Forest Lawn—and I would choose to spend my eternity in neither of them. (Talk about terrifying!)

Lt. Col. Vindman during the impeachment hearings reading that paragraph to his dad and talking about it? “Don’t worry. This is America. We do what’s right here.” We have to justify his faith in this country. It’s been what was true in the past and we can’t let it fall away. DO THE RIGHT THING, AMERICA. And Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi talking to Vindman about the pride of being an immigrant and being an American? Yep, that’s the essence of what this country it’s always been.

No, not that closet. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that closet.)

What I’m talking about is the closet of my own mind. Or spirit. Or something. See, I’m an introvert who has always needed a certain amount of alone time in order to stay sane. Far from the madding crowd and all that. I like reading, and thinking about what I’ve read, and consuming media, and thinking about what I’ve consumed, and above all else, freedom from the horrors of small talk. I like talking to people, I just abhor chit chat. Elevators have always been an especially torturous circle of Hell for me. I like having real conversations: sometimes silly, sometimes serious, but real.

I wouldn’t say I’m a wallflower, exactly, because I also like to dance, even if I have to dance by myself—like nobody’s watching. But at any party not featuring music, and not featuring a number of my friends for real conversation, I am likely to be the one sitting next to the ficus benjamina in the corner.

I can fake extroversion when necessary—which explains much of my working life—but if forced to an excess of it I tend to collapse like a soggy noodle at the end of the day. I’m never so glad to shut the door and commune with my solitude as on those days when forced to overplay the extroversion card.

I used to think there was something wrong with me and the way I am. I was certainly told this enough times by extroverts. One time I and a close friend of mine, L., who is also an introvert, went to a “psychic” for a reading. She read us separately, L. first, and when she got to me she said, “You’re another closet person, just like your friend! You both need to get out of yourselves and become part of the world!” L. and I completely took this to heart, berated ourselves for being such mutants. But you know what? We were part of the world, not just the same world this so-called psychic inhabited. We went out and did things, saw things, had fun, but sometimes we just needed to go back to our rooms and think over all that stuff and regenerate our energy. We weren’t extroverts. So fucking what?

Of course, it took me a long time to get that perspective. Perspective is a funny old thing that can change many times over the course of a life. L. and I were talking about this just today, how in high school we spent a lot of time in our rooms listening to music or reading, doing our art, thinking about music and reading and art, peering deep into the strange heart of existence, occasionally going out and doing stuff and having a good time, then circling back to our solitude. And I, for one, was not unhappy with that except when teased about it by the extroverts. All those pom-pom girls and rah-rah boys.

In our twenties, L. and I thought we needed to change the way we were, to get out there and live life like that psychic told us to do, like the pom-rah crowd said we should. I can’t say it ever made me happy trying to force myself to be something I wasn’t, always thinking I was wrong for being who I truly am. I’m glad my perspective has changed again.

There is nothing wrong with the closet I inhabit. After all, good friends and good conversation are just a text away. My closet is messy, but other than that it’s a place where I can read and think and do art and listen to music and podcasts and try, now and again, to have a real and meaningful conversation with the numinous.

Random quote of the day:

“Take a book, the poorest one written, but read it with the passion that it is the only book you will read—ultimately you will read everything out of it, that is, as much as there was in yourself, and you could never get more out of reading, even if you read the best of books.”

—Søren Kierkegaard, Stages on Life’s Way

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

It’s taken me a long time to realize there are people who love to read but who don’t give a damn about how a thing is written. Yeah, I know, should have been obvious with one browse of bestseller books—but, somehow, the concrete realization of this fact  managed to elude me. Of course, not all bestsellers are badly written. Many are quite well written, in fact. But now and then someone comes along like Stieg Larsson or Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer or E. L. James who are really atrocious at narrative but still manage to concoct a compelling story and capture that certain something in the zeitgeist that has people flocking to them.

Full disclosure: I am again attempting to read Stieg Larsson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and this time it seems to be sticking, but I have bounced off Larsson and these other writers. I probably won’t try the others again as there seem to be diminishing returns and too many other things I’d rather read. The thing is, as I have been struggling with my own writing, I have also been struggling with my ability to read fiction. I keep bouncing off of books, even well-written ones, even those by old favorites, and I’ve been longing to become immersed in something. I’m far enough past Larsson’s tell-not-show and long infodump opening that the mystery of Tattoo has had a chance to hook me, so I may actually finish this book. No guarantees, though. It’s been the first part of December since I finished anything, even rereads of old favorites. (The last was Deborah Harkness’s Times Convert, the follow-on book to her All Souls Trilogy. It was meh, but I’d loved the other books and wanted to catch up on the characters.)

My writing and my fiction reading have always been connected. One feeds the other, even if what I’m reading has nothing to do with what I’m writing. Being immersed in someone else’s world for a time helps stimulate the mystic place in my brain where my own singing starts. I can’t help thinking that if I cure one symptom it might help cure the other.

I’m still writing almost every day, and it’s still mostly like pulling teeth, but I do plant butt in chair. Most days it isn’t much more than 500 or so words. Some days I’m blessed by 1000 or so. Today, all I managed was 250. But the important part is sitting my butt in the chair, opening the file, and doing something.

So, readers who don’t care how a thing is written. It’s all good. People should like what they like regardless of nerds like me who care about those things. I once had a friend who absolutely refused to read when he was younger, even though it caused him problems in school. He was a bright, imaginative, funny fellow but he just hated reading. Then one day when he was in high school a perceptive teacher shoved a science fiction book into his hands. He was intrigued by the premise and started to read. From that moment on, he became a voracious reader of science fiction and fantasy. He always had a book in his hands. He did confess to me, though, that he often skipped the descriptive parts and dialogue tags and read just the dialogue so he could get through the story faster.

And therein hangs a tale: there are many people like him. Not only do they not care how a thing is written, they want to get through the story as fast as possible to find out what happens. No savoring. They don’t really care about “the art of story,” that immersive feel of a book. It’s a mystery to me why they read at all—but again, that’s not for me to decide. People should be allowed to like what they like and how they like it, and no one—well-meaning nerd, politicizing authors, crusading literati, anyone—has the right to tell them otherwise.

There are no shoulds in reading. Only what gets you through the night. And the book.



Random quote of the day:

“Read widely, and without apology. Read what you want to read, not what someone tells you you should read.”

—Joyce Carol Oates, The Faith of A Writer

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“When you re-read a classic you do not see in the book more than you did before. You see more in you than there was before.”

—Clifton Fadiman, Any Number Can Play

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“You only really ever live in 1 place: a single occupant apartment made of bone, 22 centimeters by 18. You want furniture, you have to read.”

—Joe Hill, Twitterfeed, August 13, 2012

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“The only way you learn how to write is by writing.Because that is the way it is done. Because there is no other way to do it. Not one other way.Compulsive diligence is almost enough. But not quite. You have to have a taste for words. Gluttony. You have to want to roll in them. You have to read millions of them by other people. You read everything with grinding envy or weary contempt.”

—John D. McDonald, introduction to Stephen King’s Night Shift

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face…. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.”

—Edward P. Morgan, Clearing the Air


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.


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