Snow Day!

Portland is having a rare late season snowstorm, which began yesterday. My office manager gave me a lift to the park-n-ride where I leave my car during the day since the buses were running so slowly and conditions were rapidly deteriorating. The wind and blowing snow were rocking my managers SUV. She commented at one point that there didn’t seem to BE any buses. We didn’t see any in the six miles from the office to my car.

The snow was building up rapidly and only in a few spots was the pavement visible. It was pretty amazing for this area that is normally far more temperate and is one of the things the inhabitants love about it. My 12-mile drive from the park-n-ride lot took well over an hour at an average speed of 20mph. Not a snow plow to be seen, I don’t think any of the towns I pass through have any. I know, boohoo. My new-old car did splendidly though, no sliding or spinning tires. The old Mercedes I had was a death trap in snow, which I never understood. You’d think the Germans would have a handle on engineering cars that could handle snow.

I was one of the lucky ones, making it home in roughly an hour and a half from the time I left the office. Many motorists were stuck in gridlock for hours due to accidents, bad road conditions, abandoned cars.

Back at the ranch, we found this on the car:

Angel wing icicle

Well.

Just a couple more shots of the snow, and then I’m off to write. I have a new idea that’s barely forming for a fantasy story and I want to work it up.

February 6 2014 snow

February 6 snowstorm

Feb 6 2014 front & street

Ok, away I fly to take advantage of the unexpected free time and create worlds of chaos. Metaphors be with you, and all that.

Weekly Card – King of Cups

Art Nouveau King of CupsThis is the second time in as many days this guy has shown up. Yesterday he showed up in a 3-card spread I did for myself with the Wild Unknown deck.

All the kings are associated with fire, the cups are associated with water. So here we have fire of water. He’s a man of deep feelings, passionate emotions. I suddenly feel like I’ve encountered him. Maybe in a dream recently. I’ve had so many wildly vivid dreams recently. If only I could remember. Kings aren’t normally seen as bearers of messages, that’s usually the pages’ job. Still, there’s something nagging. It’s like I can almost hear his voice. Whatwhatwhat? Help. Protection. Clearly I’m not getting the message. Again. I expect more odd dreams now. Perhaps my Him. Perhaps my muse urging me on.

Well, I’ll puzzle out my own situation. Hopefully the King’s qualities of compassion and solicitousness, tender feelings and love of the arts, poetry, and love itself will manifest for you this week. A little nurturing of the soul is always welcome.

 

The Casual Time Traveler

Time travel.

Who hasn’t thought about what they’d do if they had the chance to go back in time and change something? Maybe you’d find a way to prevent an evil dictator from being born (Hitler, Castro, Pol Pot), stop John Wilkes Booth from assassinating Lincoln, save the Romanovs from being murdered.

The problem is you could never understand the full implications of what such a move would be. How would it affect your own family if world events had worked out differently? Maybe your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t have married the man she did, if your would-be great-great-grandfather hadn’t died in a war.

Say that in going back in time and meddling with things, your beloved’s great-great-grandmother’s village was invaded by the armies of Arachnovakia, and your beloved somehow ends up being born to an Arachnovakian couple. Arachnovakia worships spiders, and you hate spiders. Rumor has it they were themselves descended from spiders. Word on the street is they have spiders nesting in their hair. Heck, their hair is made of spider webs. Maybe wheels are considered evil in Arachnovakia just to top it all off (’cause they roll over and crush spiders). Consequently this person never even learned to ride a bike. They don’t have cars or even horse drawn wagons in Arachnovakia. He or she would have had a vastly different experience growing up, and would not be the person you knew. (I really think I’m going to have to write more about Arachnovakia. Why do I keep hearing Groucho Marx in my head?)

It’s that mystical convergence of energy at the right time, the right place, with the right lighting, or topic of conversation. If it’s someone you’ve known for awhile, you may suddenly ‘see them in a new light.’ It also depends on the state of mind of the persons involved at the crucial moment. If your significant other had been blond, or a foot taller or shorter, how might that have affected your perception of him/her? Would you have even approached them for a date, much less married that person? Who we are is a delicate balance of our inner nature and the environment that produced us.

There was an episode of Voyager where an alien race was instantly forgotten after they left the presence of any other (they gave off some sort of pheromone or something that prevented the brains of other species from retaining the memory of them). Chakotay (Robert Beltran) had fallen in love with a woman (played by Virginia Madsen) from this race, but when she was forced to return to her planet he instantly forgot her. When they ‘met’ a second time  as she tried to get Voyager to take her with them,  the sparks didn’t fly for him. She was still in love with him, but that magical moment didn’t come again for Chakotay. Who we’re attracted to has a lot to do with our own mental state when we meet that person. Maybe she caught him on a bad day when he was missing his Maquis buddies. It’s possible that had she been allowed to stay on the ship Chakotay’s feelings towards her would have sparked again in time. This is why fix-ups and blind dates rarely succeed. You can’t engineer this many variables to coincide favorably for two parties at the same time. Either it will work or it won’t, and there really is no way to know.

So back to our time travel and unintended consequences. Your Arachnovakian sweetie is still a lovely person, except they’re also a different sex this time. Whichever gender you identify with and are attracted to, if your love was the wrong sex for you to be attracted to, it would not be the same. Most people are not bisexual. If you are, well, lucky you. This might not be a problem for you. But the essence of the person you love would have been irrevocably altered. And that could be a problem for anyone.

Anyway, the point I am trying very inarticulately to make is that human attraction is a mysterious, unpredictable phenomenon.

Best to stay home, and leave the time travel to the professionals.

faqtimetravel

Ok, maybe not those guys.

Weekly Card – Eight of Engines

I recently got the Steampunk Tarot by John & Caitlin Matthews so naturally had to use it for this week’s card. If you’re not familiar with what steampunk is, in a nutshell it’s a subgenre of sci-fi/fantasy, typically set in the Victorian era, although not necessarily in England (Cherie M. Priest’s “Clockwork Century” series I believe are all set in the U.S., typically the West. I could be wrong, I haven’t read them). It’s essentially alternate history, where things are steam-powered, and clocks and gears are prominent accoutrements. Kyle-cassidy-steampunk

Think dirigible airships and aviator goggles. (photo at right courtesy of Wikipedia) It’s popular cosplay and there’s even an annual convention here in Portland, PDX GEAR Con, which was held this weekend, although I did not attend.  The whole thing has blossomed into a movement and style, much like the Goth aesthetic. The old joke is, “Steampunk is what happens when Goths discover brown.” No doubt the prevalence of brown owes it’s popularity to old photographs, which are famous for the sepia tone. People have decorated their houses in this style (which is not authentic to the era, but makes for some dramatic looks. Lots of brass). It also owes a huge debt to Jules Verne and H.G. Wells who essentially invented it, even if it wasn’t called that back then.

So I pulled a card, then decided I wanted a more dramatic one to showcase the deck a little better. I shuffled, cut to the left 3 times again. :::insert frown::: The first card I pulled was the Nine of Engines (Wands). The second card I pulled was the Eight of Engines. I should mention that the cards were in no discernible order when they arrived in the box, most mixed up deck I’ve seen on receipt. I really should quit fighting it when the deck wants to tell me something, don’t you think?

Eight of EnginesThe Eight of Engines shows a plane being hastily loaded with supplies. The situation has developed into something that’s happening very quickly, almost more quickly than you can keep up with. If an opportunity shows up, move on it. You may not have time to spend days pondering your next move.

The Nine of Engines I’m putting up as well, since it came up first. Nine of EnginesEngines are Wands, and as I’ve probably mentioned Wands are associated with Fire. Lots of creative energy this week. The Nine has us in a somewhat tenuous situation, things are uncertain, and we need to call on all our strength and resources to get through. Like the troops landing in the card, it’s hard to say what’s going to happen so be prepared.

I’d say get plenty of rest tonight because it looks like this week could be a butt-kicker.

If you’d like to see my review of the deck, it’s over on my other blog, Dangling Pentacles Tarot. Click here.

Have a good week, and eat your Wheaties!

Weekly Card, A Bit Late

Hermit The Hermit from Ian Daniels Tarot of Vampyres. I’ve felt like a hermit the last few days, locking myself in the house to get the revisions done on the vampire novel and sent off to beta readers. I’ve also been OD’ing on “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and its soundtrack while I write. Seems fitting on this Memorial Day. Even though it’s a fantasy/horror story, the scenes of the Gettysburg battle and Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg address choked me up. There’s a part of the battle scene that slows, focused on one Union soldier running ahead to engage the Confederate troops, and it’s really quite heartbreaking, nicely filmed.

And look, the card has a wolf on it, and the book talks about this card indicating being a ‘lone wolf.’ :::smacks self in forehead::: It’s a time for introspection, silence, going within yourself for the answers, being isolated. Vampires are outsiders, ‘others.’ What they seek is beyond the confines of everyday mass consumerism. The Hermit contains all four elements, fire (scepter), grail (water, the vessel containing the fire. Grails can hold many things), knife for air, and skulls for earth, all this gained by his journey to the Underworld. The wolf is there to guard the entrance. This is the time to complete a journey, a mission, a quest (the story?).

There’s a need to ignore the rest of the world, don’t be distracted by all the banalities of modern society. As they told the Tie fighters in Star Wars making their run on the Death Star, “Stay on target.” Well, I have one more day off before I head back to the grind. Head down, back to editing.

Enjoy some solitude and downtime this week if you can.

More Miniature Madness

This makes me want to quit my day-job and do this full-time (if only one could get paid for efforts such as this).

Only one shot here, but do go check out the whole blog post at Madshobbithole’s blog. It’s breathtaking.

Bag End mini

(thanks to Margrét Helgadóttir @MaHelgad)

UPDATED 1/27/13: I should have added, if you want to see more mind-blowing miniatures, see my first Miniature Mania and  Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle at the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago, and the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute in Chicago.

Circle of Joy

Since I have no news, other than being home sick for the last three days and trying to work from home a bit, I thought I’d share some music.

Here’s a beautiful Celtic harp piece called Circle of Joy, by Lisa Lynne. Windham Hill sticks it on their Celtic Christmas collections, which is fine, but I don’t associate the piece with Christmas (all to the good). Actually there are only a couple of overtly Christmas-y songs on the CD I have, but this is hands down my favorite piece on it (there are a couple of other really good tracks by Carlos Nunez whom I adore as well).

I don’t know the story behind the tune, she may have written it as a Christmas piece. I just think it deserves a wider audience. I’m using some of her music for inspiration as I embark on a new story (yes, in the midst of revising the vampire novel) Enjoy!

Dispatch from the Zone – My Excuse

It’s been an odd couple of weeks for me. Starting with the Thanksgiving holiday, where I grumbled about having to take Friday as personal vacation because my company doesn’t give it as a holiday (as my previous companies have done), all was well until that Sunday night. I’m only telling this now because a lot of you know already and if you don’t it will no doubt be mentioned at some point in the future and I can get all the explanation out of the way now.

In short, I laid the bike down that night and sliced my leg open, resulting in six stitches and a couple of missed days of work. I spent Sunday evening in the ER, hence no post last week. It was a fairly deep lacerating and “heavy bleeding” according to the paperwork I got. I took one quick look at the gaping hole in my leg and that was enough.

I’m not posting icky pictures here of the wound, there’s not much damage to the bike so nothing to see there. It was a low-speed accident, luckily, and no other vehicles involved. I jumped a curb, hit a small tree and went down. I didn’t even realize I was injured until one of the kind people who had stopped to help me saw the blood. I thought it was just mud on my pants (which by the way are still intact). So, long story short, I’ve been hobbling around for the last week, and getting grumpier about it by the day. Another week and the stitches should come out.

At any rate, I made it in to work that Tuesday, and managed to get around well enough. I was supposed to have had my review that Monday, but it was rescheduled to Wednesday. After that I got grumpier. It wasn’t horrible, but I am still steaming over being reprimanded (in the nicest way possible) for not being ‘helpful’ enough to some entitled bitch who ran into the office looking for some conference that she had no information on (no title, room number, who was putting it on – nothing), and felt I should simply have known where it was. Well, there are a lot of conferences and symposiums and lectures that go on there, and sadly I am not an electronic display board that lists them all. So she bitched to someone in my department, who in turn came to my manager to express their displeasure over this. I am told I did not ask enough, or the right, questions to figure out where this self-important nobody needed to be. This wasn’t the only criticism sandwiched in with praise, but it was the biggest one (I was also told I wasn’t displaying enough enthusiasm for the job. I’m an admin assistant, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to express enthusiasm for this). The interesting thing is I never heard a word about any of this until the review the other day.

To sum up, I am more desperate than ever for a new job.  Maybe it’s my paranoid imagination, but it feels a little like they’re building a case.

All that aside, I’m back to polishing the vampire novel with the goal of having it ready to start querying agents in the new year. I need to get on with this. I need to at least say “I tried” even if it never gets published.

Getting back to our weekly card draw, this one ‘jumped’ out as I was shuffling.

Ace of Pentacles

The Ace of Pentacles is the Root of the Powers of Earth. Aces are beginnings, and pentacles deal with money, and material concerns. This is good, some new venture kicking off, hopefully a lucrative new project. I have some ideas for a new venture, I hope this is a good omen.

So, that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been dealing with for the last week. How’s it by you?

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The lovely and darkly delicious Anne Michaud has tagged me for a fun blog hop, to talk a little about current WIP. She in her turn was tagged by Linda Bloodworth.

So here are The Roolz:

Use this format for your post
. Include an introduction to your interview post and a link to the person who tagged you for participation.
 Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress). Include some pictures if possible.
Tag five other writers/bloggers by sending them an email and then add their links to the end of your interview post.Their answers should go up the week after.

Your blog post would need to be up between the 22 Oct – 26 Oct . If you are on She Writes you put the post up there, too. Your Blog post will be labelled:
 The Next Big Thing Blog Tag.

1. What is the working title of your book?

REVENANTS ABROAD
2. Where did the idea come from for the book? A song by HIM :::batting eyes coquettishly in the general direction of Helsinki:::


3. What genre does your book fall under? — Hard to say. It’s paranormal/urban fantasy, but in a sense it’s also sci-fi, it’s set in the future.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I don’t know yet. Some characters are inspired by actors, others by musicians, others by no one. Not saying who’s who in the few photos I’ve added. They simply inspired characters in the story. There’s a key character that I haven’t even got a human role model in mind for. Yet. Honestly I think I’d prefer a bunch of unknowns to be cast in it.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Ultimately it’s about wanting something you can’t have and making the best of the results of imperfect choices.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I hope to find an agent…

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Hahaha! What year is this? I’m like the Energizer Bunny, still going on it!

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Honestly I have no idea.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book? The song I mentioned in Q2.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Vampires. Humor. Murder. Demons. Prague. Organized crime. Seduction.

And here is where I break the rules! I’m such an anarchist. I’m not going to tag anyone in this, because in the past I rarely get anyone playing along. HOWEVER COMMA if you want to join in let me know and I will add your name and a link to your blog to this post.

Brother, Can You Spare $5?

Just a short post to all my writing readers.

Finding  markets for our work used to be very time-intensive, with limited options apart from spending hours at the library finding contact information for magazines (or buying the ones you wanted to submit to, which you still should). There was of course the Writer’s Digest “Writers’ Market” books, but those were outdated almost before they hit the shelves (not to mention one would set you back somewhere around $20) so more research was necessary to make sure you had current info on who was who in each particular zoo (err… market). You don’t want to address a query or a submission to someone who no longer works there. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Editors move around in publishing faster than I can tie my shoes. Not to mention how quickly publications start up, then go belly up. And finding new markets apart from the large circulation periodicals on most newsstands was another matter. And now of course with everything online and new e-zines and projects popping up all over the place, the mind reels trying to keep on top of things.

Enter Duotrope.

These folks do all the legwork for you, pulling together markets in every conceivable genre in one nice tidy location. They stay abreast of new publications, which ones are openly soliciting submissions, which ones have closed their doors, interviews with publishers giving you a clear idea of what the markets are looking for, search algorithms to find exactly the kind of mag that is looking for your babies, a way to track deadlines, your submissions, weekly emails for the genre(s) you’re interested in, and frankly a lot of inspiration just seeing what’s available to submit your writing to. The site is free to use, but it costs them money to run it.

I realize times are tough, everyone’s trying to pinch pennies and stretch dollars (or vice versa), but Duotrope’s needs are modest. If every single person who uses their site contributed a paltry $5 A YEAR they would meet their funding goal. Think about that for a minute. $5. For an invaluable resource that could well pay for itself in a single submission acceptance. Ok, it’s not the dime Bing Crosby sang about during the depression of the 1930s, but many charities that people contribute to suggest a minimum contribution of $35. And then they bombard you with literature asking for more. Not that I begrudge worthwhile charities a dime, I have my favorites that I contribute to as well, but this is such a tiny amount that it’s hard to understand why more of the site’s users don’t help them out. They have got to be the single greatest resource out there for writers, and yet they fall short of their goal Every. Single. Month. I can only assume they make up the difference out of their own pocket.

Before anyone asks, no I am not affiliated with them in any way, just another writer who avails herself of the information and tools they offer. But I would be devastated if they had to cease operations. Now that I’ve landed a new job and am coming off the unemployment roll, they were my first contribution again. Please join me in supporting this embarrassment of riches for writers.

$5 is all it takes.