Tag: writing

This Thanksgiving I’m grateful to have my work included in two wonderful books!

screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-8-02-25-amThe Montana Natural History Center has put together a collection of Field Notes from its long-running radio program on Montana Public Radio. Once upon a time when I was a grad student in Missoula, I wrote a Field Note about Sphinx Moths for this program and read it (yes, out loud!) for the radio show. I’m so pleased that my Note is now published in this collection, along with 111 other nature-lovin’ writers’ observations. You can order your copy here.

My poem ‘Moose Bell’ is included a new anthology of Wyoming writers, Blood, Water, Wind and Stone, published by Sastrugi Press and available on Amazon. As I’ve written before, I have wandered away, but always keep coming back to live in Wyoming since I first set foot inside its four straight lines back in May of 1996. It is dear to my heart for ‘Moose Bell’ to be part of this project with the work of many talented Wyomingans (Wyomingites? Wyos?). If you’re in Jackson on December 10th, stop by the Valley Bookstore for the Gala Opening at 5pm to celebrate Blood, Water, Wind and Stone. I will be there! And there will be refreshments!

Photo of Sheep Mountain by Acroterion from Wikimedia Commons

field notes read me

Hey, so remember my blog post a couple weeks ago about PoMoSco and how I was gonna write 30 “found” poems this month?

Epic fail!  PoMoSco dropout…go back to high school….

Well, I did create 12 poems.  Some of them I like, some of them….mediocre.  But even before I hit 12 I knew something wasn’t working for me. I’d love to say that I was able to power through my lack of enthusiasm and inspiration for this project.  I love the PoMoSco site and the work from the other poets, their feedback, the creativity that went into the badges…  I encountered a form of poetry and many tricks and tactics new to me.  But I just couldn’t get into the concept of found poetry. I guess it’s kind of the way I feel about writing an epistolary novel.  Probably never will – not my style.

So I quit! BOOM!  That’s right. I went back to writing my novels, which is where I truly want to be.  And writing my own style of poetry, whatever that is, I have no idea.  Speculative Wilderness Confessional?  Anyway, I keep waiting to feel bad about totally bailing on PoMoSco.  But I don’t!  Maybe because, as someone once accused me, I’m a bit of a flake.  Well, here I am embracing my flakiness! No regrets about dipping a toe in PoMoSco – I think maybe I earned a Scribble Scout badge?  And hopefully no hard feelings from the PoMoSco staff.  I was truly impressed with the community of poets (aka Scouts) – kind, contemplative, witty.  And hey, I tried writing found poetry, like that one time I tried shiitake mushrooms and blleeghhh no thanks.  Ok kidding, found poetry is cool and tastes really good, unlike shiitake mushrooms, which taste like shiit.

And now it’s back to my usual blatherings about music, evolution, film, nature moments. Getting ready to watch Documentary numbah FOUR soon. What will I choose this time….

 

Photo: “Bouquinistesseine1” by Jebulon – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

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Happy Monday!  If you’re a writer and you haven’t signed up yet for the weekly FundsforWriters email newsletter, you are missing out!  Especially since the most recent newsletter includes my essay about artists’ residencies!

Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, Colorado
Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, Colorado

I’ve had the great fortune to complete three residencies in the past few years – Arteles in Finland, Elsewhere Studios in Colorado, and Hypatia-in-the-Woods in Washington.

Willow Labyrinth at Arteles Creative Center in Haukijärvi, Finland
Willow Labyrinth at Arteles Creative Center in Haukijärvi, Finland

Spending time living and working at all three of these wonderful artistic enclaves changed me for the better.  And this Autumn I’ve been incredibly fortunate to live and write in Texarkana, Texas, thanks to the generosity of friends who have provided me with a writer’s retreat.

I hope you will visit C. Hope Clark’s brilliant website FundsforWriters.com and read my post, but also take a look around – she provides sound advice and resources for the writing life, whether you just started writing chapter one, or you’re trying to market your published work.  FFW is a trusted clearinghouse for literary markets, grants and contests.  Hope also has a blog about her own writing adventures.  I’m so thrilled to share my experiences on FundsforWriters!

 

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Great news – my flash fiction piece ‘The Splendid Mendicants’ has been published in the second issue of Slink Chunk Press.   I’m really excited to be a part of this new online journal showcasing the work of diverse writers and artists from around the world.

I wrote this story while going through a writing-prompt phase inspired by the subjects of spam emails.  One of my favorites advised ‘Treat Your Disease With Our Splendid Mendicants!’  I like to pretend I’m smart, but I had no idea what a mendicant might be, so I looked it up.  Maybe the spam author wanted to say ‘medications’ not monks, I don’t know…but then my story was born.  It’s also part of a series I like to call my SuperNature series.  I write about Mother Nature getting the upper hand and not the blame.

I hope you enjoy my little fable – click here to read ‘The Splendid Mendicants’ at Slink Chunk Press.

Even better, you can see and hear me read the beginning of the story online!  Tonight we had a google hangout for Slink Chunk Story Time.  I joined forces with editor Tegan Elizabeth and poet Vanessa Willoughby to provide you with some literary entertainment.  Vanessa read her poem ‘Self-Immolation Means I Love You’, and the three of us had a great time.  Click here to see the broadcast!

Thanks to Unsplash for the trees photo.

 

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Well, I did it!  I completed my 4th (5th?) National Novel Writing Month!  50,000 words in 30 days.  Viva NaNoWriMo!!

I am just about halfway through finishing the second book in my trilogy.  Woo!  Now, to harness this power and keep going at this rate.

I know lots of writers take on National Novel Writing Month because it’s a way to finally “write that novel.”  For me, sometimes it seems like the kick in the pants I need to “finish those novels.”   I should call it NaNoFinishMo like Elizabeth Bear does.

What’s ahead in 2015?  I’m thinking about NaPoWriMo, in April.  30 Poems in 30 Days.  There may be a chapbook in my publishing future.

 

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The Introvert’s Guide to a Residency at Hypatia-in-the-Woods

IMG_2085Your Arrival:
You will see trees.  There will be many, many trees and long gravel roads leading deeper and deeper into a new realm.  Sunlight will filter down through feathery cedar branches while you hear the distant rumble of barges on Hammersley Inlet.  Walk through the labyrinth.  Do not step on the banana slugs.

The Unpacking: 
You will see Holly House with its mossy roof, and you will marvel that it appears to be bigger on the inside, like Doctor Who’s Tardis.  Note: Holly House does not travel through space or time…maybe.  You will find a cozy porch with falling leaves, deck chairs, and birdsong.  You might enjoy working out there, or at the kichen table, or on the couch, or possibly the floor.  Change it up.  Get crazy.  In the living room, you will see two large teddy bears wearing outfits knitted by Elspeth.  Don’t be nervous.  The bears are not watching you.  Read through the joyous guest book entries of former residents.  The teddy bears are not watching you.

The People:
You will encounter gracious and spirited women who will welcome you.  They like to knit and drink wine and converse over dinner, but they understand if you are busy working or if you are not the social type.  If you are lucky and it’s summer, Carolyn may give you bounty from her garden, or Maitri will share plums.
If you are a writer, enjoy attending one of the writer’s group sessions on Wednesdays.  The gang will be kind and ruthlessly insightful if you allow them to critique your work, and you will enjoy reading theirs.
Hypatia herself will probably not show up in person.  She died in 415 AD.  However, meditate on this wise, uppity, heroic woman as you create your wise, uppity art, you heroine you.

IMG_2084Nights in the Woods:
It is dark.  You are alone with the maples and the firs.  There will be the ticktock of moths flinging themselves into the windowpanes.  You will hear skitterings.  Do not be afraid, the earth is your home too.  The teddy bears are not watching you.  You may hear barred owls partying in the tree branches outside.  They love to party, and also to gab about it with each other.  Loudly.  I merely eavesdropped, and did not try to join any owl conversations.  You will work late into the night, writing poems or essays or making art or music.

Out on the town:
You will need exercise.  You may do a 3.7 mile run on the Huff n Puff Trail (if you go around all the loops twice, as I did).  The wide, well maintained forest trail loops and swirls through a conifer forest that is so shady you will not need sunscreen.
You will spend many, many days writing at Urraco Coffee Co, Sage Bookstore, and the Library.
You may dine at various Shelton restaurants, like Xinh’s and Smoking Mo’s.  Smoking’ Mo’s is now one of my favorite restaurants anywhere.  But I like meat.
You will go to the Olympia Farmer’s Market.  It is in a covered pavilion and there is a big free parking lot.  Lovely people, gorgeous produce.  I bought some coconut lime roasted almonds and a big bag of vegetables.

IMG_2083Your Departure:
You will take some time to clean up after yourself, of course.  You will take a moment to enter your own musings into the Holly House Guest Book.  You will realize that you won’t ever come back here, but that you will take this place with you.

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It’s been scientifically proven that one out of five people in the United States have either secretly or publicly air-guitared to the Guess Who’s ‘American Woman.’ Okay, that’s a lie, the research only applies to the Lenny Kravitz cover.  But you know it probably could be proven, if anybody had time for that.
The best Guess Who song (Now, this HAS been scientifically proven.  Okay no.) is ‘No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature.’  Which just happens to be the B Side to ‘American Woman.’  Love that folky acoustic intro that, around the 45 second mark, gets its gentle ass kicked by the chorus and Randy Bachman’s guitar.
And you got to show respect to a song telling you that a new Mother Nature is here to divide and conquer.   Is she now?  I think so, people.  Deny it all you want.  The Splendid Lady is coming for us all.
The Guess Who started out like a lot of rock bands in the ’60’s – doing covers and scrambling for the top of the charts with all the other British Invaders.  Except these guys were from Canada, so they could get away with writing a snarky song like ‘American Woman’ and then have it reach the #1 Billboard spot in America in 1970 – the first Canadian group ever to do so.  Whether it was meant to be truly anti-American or sexist, Pat Nixon requested that the boys skip that one when the band played a concert for the White House that year.
After forming as The Silvertones in 1958, the band wasn’t entirely successful outside of Canada right away – they had a string of hits, as well as personnel and name changes (The Silvertones, The Reflections, The Expressions, The Winnipegans (just kidding on that last one), then released a cover of ’Shakin’ All Over’ in 1965, under the name ‘Guess Who?’ –  a record company ploy to fool music buyers into thinking they were getting some kind of Brit supergroup recording.   Then the band officially became the Guess Who (and got rid of the question mark).  And then they STILL ended up broke and in debt after a UK promotional tour.
Did the Guess Who give up?  Hells no.  Their producer, Jack Richardson, mortgaged his house to pay for their next album’s recording session.  That album was Wheatfield Soul, with the top ten hit ‘These Eyes.’  The band went on to have three more Top 40 songs – before the lead guitarist Randy Bachman became a Mormon, broke off from the group and started a band called Brave Belt, which would eventually morph into Bachman Turner Overdrive.
Is the Guess Who one of the best rock bands ever?  Errr…not really.  But they put out some killer songs.  I’d call that a win.  And they’re still on tour.   Bachman also hosts a pretty sweet old school radio show on CBC called Vinyl Tap.
I’ve been listening to the Guess Who a lot lately (you probably got that) and reading about failure.  Everybody fails, everybody makes mistakes.  It’s the best way to be successful.
That’s not always easy to accept – maybe it’s shouldn’t be.  We’re human beings, capable of making important decisions every single day about how we treat other human beings, and how we treat this planet, which is our only home.
Mistakes are gonna happen.  They have already happened – and there’s no UNDO button.  There’s only NEXT.  Keep going.
The best thing to do is OWN IT.   And don’t let it kill your spirit.
If we don’t fail, and don’t make mistakes, then what do have to learn?  I have a lot to learn.  I’m good with that.  NEVER GIVE UP.

mixtapes

Read my second and last Elsewhere blog post here.  I am a different person after 5 wonderful months in Paonia, Colorado.

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The view from my room. Tail of Tomato da Housecat in the foreground.
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Cross country skiing on the irrigation ditch trail above the town of Paonia.

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Read my blog post for Elsewhere Studios here.  And then stick around to read blogs from all the other wonderful residents!

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Elsewhere’s fabulous kiln-fired shot glass collection.

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