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*Pie Crust: childhood and imagination *Filling: children's literature, mythic literature, personal storytelling
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I’m currently catching my breath following a whirlwind year of taking care of business during which I was constantly busy, physically sore, out of touch with my imagination, and missing more dog walks than I care to count. I have been pulled back to a quieter sort of life because I need to attend to the well being of a close family member, and so the fact that I now have more time on my hands in which to think, muse, and perhaps create is a good thing, but it has come about because of a bad thing. This is the Tao of life, the up and down, back and forth, black and white, concrete and abstract, thinking and intuiting, building and destroying…the same old drill; nothing new.
While trying to catch up with the self I was before my crazy busy year began, I thought that beginning to re-read some of my favorite articles from the Endicott Studio archives would be a good start. This is when I found out that Midori Snyder is in the process of moving Endicott Studio and the Journal of Mythic Arts to a new home. In Midori’s words:
I have been a bit preoccupied lately as I have a looming deadline to get the Herculean task of transferring over 10 years of Endicott Studio and Journal of Mythic Arts files from one website to another. Terri and I have had one foot on two platforms for the last five years and it’s time to consolidate the archives on one site. It will also potentially set us up should we in the future decide to return to publishing a new version of the Journal. So, it’s worth — a money saver, a chance to clean up the dead links, update art, and author bios, Terri’s awesome reading lists and recommendations.
I am hugely grateful to Midori Snyder and Terri Windling for their award winning writing and editing. At times I’ve feared that this body of work will one day vanish from cyberspace, and I don’t know how I would live without it. Good luck, Midori, and thank you for preserving and perpetuating this gift!
And while adjusting to this quieter life, I’ve mused on the things that brought joy a long time ago, like doll house furniture, papier maché, collage, tin toys, dogs, horses, flowers, trees, reading and writing…
In attempting to balance priorities, I like to hear how other people do it. The following is from “The ‘Busy’ Trap” by Tim Kreider for the New York Times:
Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. “Idle dreaming is often of the essence of what we do,” wrote Thomas Pynchon in his essay on sloth. Archimedes’ “Eureka” in the bath, Newton’s apple, Jekyll & Hyde and the benzene ring: history is full of stories of inspirations that come in idle moments and dreams. It almost makes you wonder whether loafers, goldbricks and no-accounts aren’t responsible for more of the world’s great ideas, inventions and masterpieces than the hardworking.
There is a certain Japan tin toy truck–I now know it’s called Joe’s Kitchen Wagon Catering Van (friction food truck)–that my playmate owned when I was three years old. I loved that truck more than my feeble grasp on language could express, and when my family moved to a new house in a new neighborhood one of my biggest regrets was never seeing that truck again. I never forgot that toy and have looked for it occasionally online, but didn’t find it until just a few days ago! I found an image on ebay.ca and it was absolutely, most definitely the toy truck of my dreams!!!!
I took a few screenshots, as you can see below. But the crazy thing is, the person selling that truck (it was already sold by the time I found it) could live anywhere in the world. But guess what? He/she lives where I live. How could I have missed this? Oh yeah, I was too busy to notice.
(If you or someone you know is selling this truck, please email me. I won’t be too busy to answer.)
Click here for the whole article.
Spoiler alert!! If you haven’t seen Oz, the Great and Powerful starring James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, and Mila Kunis, you should probably read this review some other time. Thank you. How to make a little something out of a great something… Take one girl (Dorothy), place her within a coming-of-age story, add a […]
A Canadian legend passed on tonight. Rest in peace, Stompin’ Tom.
Sometimes inspiration sits in my living room, as in my good friend Bronwen McRae visits and shares her vivid poem: “On the Run” … or my children know a good thing when they see it, and because they shared it with me, I can enjoy a musical group (troupe?) of young Icelanders as they conjure […]
Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. by Louie Schwartzberg, a video prayer/poem, a Thanksgiving Day meditation.
I’m also thankful that my children introduced me to Of Monsters and Men.
I was approached by Brendan McNulty who, along with his sister Bridget McNulty, founded an online business designed to help aspiring writers get going and keep on going. I checked out their site and liked its tone, its look, and its goal. I’m a big fan and a user of Smashwords.com, which aims to support indie authors by providing a publishing and distribution platform while the author does all the creative work. Similarly, Now Novel provides a helpful framework and practical guidance, supporting the budding author’s creative enterprise.
So, in support of the upcoming National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and in support of aspiring authors everywhere, I’ll turn the page over to Bridget McNulty …
Now Novel – helping you write that novel, now
When I wrote my first novel five years ago, everyone I met seemed to think I could now tell them exactly how to write a novel – in three sentences or less. But it’s only now that I’ve compiled all the knowledge I learned studying creative writing in the US and in South Africa, along with countless creative writing books, endless hours interviewing aspiring writers and a whole lot of research that my brother Brendan and I have done, that I feel confident in giving a little advice about writing novels. My name is Bridget McNulty, and I’m the co-founder of Now Novel, an online novel writing course.
What makes Now Novel different, in our opinion, is that it’s a step-by-step guide to writing that novel. It doesn’t just tell you what to do and then leave you to do it, it guides you through the novel writing process, including figuring out plot, setting, character and theme, and then helping you put all that together into the first draft of your novel. The hub of the novel writing experience is the dashboard where all your creative writing information is stored. We also have an inspiring writing blog and a creative writing forum where you can share experiences, offer advice to other writers, and even upload some of your work for critique. In general, we’ve found that Now Novel is of most use to writers who know they want to write a novel one day – it’s on their bucket list – but just don’t know how to start. We help to solve that problem.
We also have a fantastic special offer at the moment – to celebrate November being NaNoWriMo, we’re offering 2/3 off if you sign up now. That means it’s only $9.99 for the Now Novel experience! Click here to find out more.
Until then, happy writing!
When does solid metal appear to be transparent? When in the form of the magic mirror that was invented during the Han Dynasty.
Click here for more on the Chinese Magic Mirror.
Once, in another time,
I believed that souls resided in trees.
I worked a lifetime tracing branches
seeking out the one tree that would hold my spirit.
I once thought I could know a tree’s source,
to pull back the bark and see a code,
each tree a shining universe.
Taken from–”The Last Arborist” by Paul Wilson
The poem above is featured on the back of a pamphlet I picked up today called “Portraits of Survivors,” a show of Saskatchewan and Costa Rican-based artist Linda Moskalyk’s breathtaking series (in collage and acrylic) of the “survivors,” the large trees she has seen emerging from a Costa Rican second growth forest canopy as the lone remainders (reminders) of the old growth forest that had been cut down. I popped into the Meewasin Valley Centre in Saskatoon today, not knowing that Linda Moskalyk’s work was on exhibit there. It took my breath away. “Last One Standing” was my favorite.
If you are in Saskatoon this summer, I urge you to visit the Meewasin Valley Centre Gallery and see how moving and detailed these portraits are, and if, not please visit Linda Moskalyk’s Web site for more about this fascinating woman, her beautiful creations, and the work she does teaching art to children in Costa Rica in addition to raising awareness of how essential are trees, and how much we need them.
Jessica Park has had enormous success with her YA novel Flat-Out Love, which she self-published on Amazon even though she had five traditionally published novels “under [her] belt.” She’s written a blog post about why she did it and how she feels about it now, including some very frank statements about the traditional publishing industry. It’s a wonderful read for anyone who has, or wants to, self-publish.
Click here to read “How Amazon Saved My Life.”
Jennifer Parsons of Luna Station Quarterly is a very important editor and champion of women’s speculative fiction. Her vision for Luna Station’s development is very exciting. Along with Issue 010, which has just been published, she has launched Luna Station Press.
From the new Web site:
At Luna Station Press, our mission is to bring you a unique selection of speculative fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry with a special focus on women writers. We also publish a short fiction magazine, Luna Station Quarterly, that forms the original foundation for the press.
Once a quarter, we publish new titles that break the boundaries of what you expect from speculative fiction, fantasy, science fiction, and fairy tales as well as wonderful, new poetic voices and the occasional volume of essays and deeper explorations into the world around us.
This is very exciting news! Congratulations to Jennifer and all the Luna Station Press authors.
I’m currently in a burned-out dance-mom state of mind. I can barely string together a sentence, or read the simplest article. Due to work and family life, I’ve done little writing in the past three months. But I’m planning to visit Grasslands National Park in southwest Saskatchewan this summer, and just thinking about it helps to revive me.
It’s a landscape you either love or abhor. There’s really no middle ground. I’ve known people who came to live in Saskatchewan and couldn’t wait to get out. Then there are people like me who, having grown up in Ontario, once said, “I can imagine living anywhere in Canada, except Saskatchewan.” And now it’s been my home for 16 years. Be careful about what you say you’ll never do.
“I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it.”
–(From As You Like It by William Shakespeare, Act II, Scene IV)
SwanSong by Lynne Cantwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The ebook cover of Lynne Cantwell’s mythic novel SwanSong has four swans flying in an ominous, cloud-banked sky. A giant moon hovers above them, casting no light, offering no comfort. It is a beautiful picture, suitable to this enchanting young adult fantasy based on the Irish folktale “The Fate of the Children of Lir.”
As in the original tale, Ms. Cantwell’s novel depicts the entwined fates of four siblings, a sister, Neeve, and her brothers Kennet, Corwin, and Kyl. Six years after the death of their mother, the children’s demigod father marries Eva, the dead mother’s haughty, divisive sister. Once the brief, sensual honeymoon is over, Eva’s jealousy of the children turns deadly and she uses her limited magical powers in an attempt to destroy them. The children become trapped partway between swan-form and human-form, with their human faculties and sensibilities intact. The curse will last for 900 years.
Ms. Cantwell does a wonderful job of developing realistic relationships among the siblings, as well as a powerful love between father and children. His loss is felt deeply, as is the children’s loss of him when he cannot follow them to the northern land where they are fated to dwell during the middle 300 years of their curse. The tale is set in an ancient time where magical beings and long lived giants dwell, but are dying out, and being replaced by regular people; the end of the 900 year curse sees the dawn of modernity when light is given by electric bulbs more often than at the tip of a magical wand. The siblings dutifully care for one another, and continue to grow as people despite their individual disabilities (each one is transformed in a different way). The story is a fantasy rooted deeply in the everyday aspects of life, which are beautifully and carefully rendered.
SwanSong has a few typos, but they are minor compared to the strengths of the novel, and can easily be overlooked. Point of view changes are a bit irksome at times. For instance, though Neeve is truly the main character, and her point of view usually dominates, there are times when we glance inside the mind of a brother and then quickly get back inside the mind of Neeve. This dilutes some of the story’s power and could easily be remedied. But the overall impression of the story is, once again, strong enough to overcome such minor lapses. The novel has a good structure, with each part named for a kind of musical composition: “Cantata for a King,” “Sonata for a Swan Quartet,” etc. Music is an integral part of the story as the swan children have a gift for music that lies far outside the norm; it is, indeed, what sustains them throughout their long ordeal.
Lynne Cantwell’s SwanSong is a self-published ebook available at Smashwords.com and Amazon.com, and will be sure to satisfy young adult and adult readers of fantasy, especially those seeking out new voices and timeless, well written tales.
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Maurice Sendak has died at the age of 83. My first thought on hearing this was, “Who will take care of his dog?” Soon after, I thought about Max in his white-cat sleeping suit (never seemed like pajamas to me) going to his room for the last time. Excuse me while I have a good cry.
I hate that there will never be another book from Mr. Sendak. I’m glad that Stephen Colbert had the foresight to hook the cantankerous old man into an interview before it was too late.
Click here for a New York Times eulogy.
E.B. White was a respected American essayist when he published his odd, endearing, fantastical books for children. Charlotte’s Web
is now sixty years old, and the New York Times’ article “Some Book” by Michael Sims
gives the scuttlebutt.
Saskatoon is my home. If I weary of battling the long, cold winters, I may move away. But for now, I’m very comfortable here. That being said, I have a soft spot in my heart for California, where my sister Janice Hagey-Schmidt has lived for nearly all her adult life, and where my husband, children, and I have lived on two separate occasions. I get back there as often as possible. I am particularly fond of San Francisco. I can conjure the smells of cable car oil and Bay water in a heartbeat. I can still walk up the Filbert Street steps like a youngster. I will never forget sitting in the sunshine with my sister at Alcatraz (following a tour) and looking up to see the Golden Gate Bridge. A banana slug glistened at our feet. We vowed to keep that memory forever as a link between us because we don’t get to visit each other very often, and because a love for that city is something we share.
If California were a color, it would be gold. If it were a scent, it would be salt air, spun sugar, pine, and the oil of invention. People with dreams went to California, and still do. I made memories in California that could not have been made anywhere else. One of these memories is 15 years old. I had two children then: aged five and one. My five year old had just learned to ride a two wheeler, and I pushed my youngest in a stroller while she rode like a baby maniac on the campus of the California Institute of Technology. The campus was alive with ancient oaks and stands of striking flowers, fountains, and frog ponds, a beautiful place to wile away the day. My daughter sped past a man in a wheelchair, barely giving him clearance. It was Stephen Hawking. Ten years later, we went back to Cal Tech. Our plans were nearly scuttled by (can you guess?) Stephen Hawking. He was planning a last minute visit and we were going to get bumped from our temporary home, a Cal Tech guest house. Unbeknownst to him, Professor Hawking nearly had his revenge on the bicycling maniac and her family. Unfortunately for him, he caught a cold and cancelled his visit. We carried on with our plans.
I haven’t even mentioned the California climate. As I’m still waiting for the Saskatchewan spring to arrive, I don’t really want to think about it.
California is the birthplace of wonderful ideas. Visionary architect Joseph Eichler designed houses for middle class families in 1960s Southern California. Steve Jobs lived in an Eichler house as a child, and the exceptional, minimalistic styling likely influenced his later appreciation of simple, elegant design.
The Pixar movie The Incredibles, directed by Brad Bird, features a house in which the superheroes-in-exile live with their growing family, a house that can only be Eichler inspired.
My sister has an amazing story of her personal connection to California from a very early age, even though she grew up on the shores of Lake Ontario. She created an illustrated story and used Californian names for places and streets, names that she could not have been consciously aware were Californian. Neither could she have known that in the future she would live in that State.
My sister and I share a love of California, San Francisco in particular, so it is fitting that the very first gallery exhibition of her beautiful handmade jewelry should be in that city. If anyone reading this is in or near San Francisco, I envy you, and I urge you to visit the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts exhibit at Manika Jewelry.
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This is a plug for my latest self-published story, “The Girl With the Golden Egg,” in the classic tradition of the fairy tale. Here’s a description:
Ada is the only girl in a hardworking, impoverished family. There is no time for play, no room for secrets. So when Ada finds a golden egg in her own bed of straw, and decides to tell no one about it, it is the start of a new life for her, one that begins with fury and uncertainty. Ada wants only food, warmth, and to live without fear, and she’s willing to battle wits with a King to ensure it. She faces her trials alone, with the mysterious golden egg at the center of it all. A short story for ages 12 and up.
The story is available on Smashwords.com and Amazon.com.
On another note, there’s a wonderfully insightful and inspirational (especially if you love fairy tales) interview with Kate Bernheimer on the Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment (Iowa State University) blog. The blog is called Flight Patterns and is new to me thanks to a well-timed tweet!
Kate Bernheimer is the founder of The Fairy Tale Review. She is a writer, editor, scholar, and one of the most important advocates for the lasting importance and timeless significance of fairy tales.
I have long dedicated myself to the fairy-tale revival—to helping reverse the clichés and damages done to fairy tales (and thus to readers who need these stories so often about the weak triumphing over the strong) many years ago, and have never turned back. I have received many letters of gratitude from readers and hear increasingly often from teachers using fairy tales in the classroom, and I see graduate students studying fairy tales and more and more writers working with a sense of awareness from them. I’m invited to talk about fairy tales at museums, universities, libraries each week—I have to turn requests down! So from 1995, the year that marked my conscious dedication to fairy tales as an author and editor, when saying “I write fairy tales” could pretty much end a conversation with a lot of people I knew, things have changed one hundred percent. ~Kate Bernheimer
Click here for the Flyway interview with Kate Bernheimer.
On this particular Friday I want to be reminded that people were doing goofy things before I was born …
… and that when I’m searching for the next big thing, I should just look up …
Aurora 2012 from Christian Mülhauser on Vimeo.
For more about “Retronauts” and the black cat auditions, click on the black cats image.
For more about “Aurora 2012,” click on the link below the video.
Happy Friday everyone!
Janice Hagey-Schmidt has been a graphic designer for many years. She has also been a hands-on artsy-crafty type of person since she came out of the womb, and I should know because … well, I’m her big sister. Janice has been creating beautiful jewelry for several years, mainly as a hobby in the beginning. But her commitment to expanding her skill set, excellent customer service, and a keen eye for design has turned her hobby into something much much more.
If you like the photograph above, clicking on it will take you to Janice’s jewelry Website. She is also on Facebook and Etsy, where her work has been featured in several treasuries.
Janice has a wide and growing selection of gorgeous spinner rings. She has been commissioned to design wedding rings, and so far orders for her treasures have been coming in from around the world. Some of her rings have nature themes, others are more mystical and even mythological. My eldest daughter is a musician and has been commissioned by her Aunt to compose some music (likely a type of Gregorian chant) for a new series of rings. If you can imagine it, Janice is probably putting it on a ring.
Wolf at the Door by Joyce Chng (J. Damask), a Luna Station Quarterly author, has been put on the Nebula Awards suggested reading list. The novel is an Urban Fantasy set in Singapore, where the author lives and works. Congratulations, J. Damask!
Another Luna Station note: Issue 009 will be coming out on March 1st and will include my short story “The Wood Children.” I’ll link to it when the time comes.
Dear Flyary is a new picture book by Dianne Young, illustrated by John Martz, coming out March 1st. Kids Can Press is the publisher. John Martz created a book trailer, and somehow captured the main conflict and the adorableness of the story in only 27 seconds. Way to go, Mr. Martz!
Click here for my recent interview with Dianne Young.
“The Wood Children” is a new fairy tale I’ve written, and I’m very happy to announce that it was published at Luna Station Quarterly on March 1st. I hope you will visit the site and read the 20 tales of speculative fiction posted there!! It’s free, and you can even download a PDF of the stories.
Jennifer Parsons is the founder and editor of Luna Station Quarterly. Please click here to read a very good interview with her.
Dear Flyary by Dianne Young
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This story is a whimsical window into the life of Frazzle Pattzer, a being from the Glank Quadrant of Merfatil who speaks English sprinkled with a patois of made-up words direct from the author’s quirky imagination. If you invited Frazzle to your home, he would call your television a “seebox,” and if it was your birthday he would sing, “Gladdy dropday to you.” Frazzle has friends, a job, and plenty to do, but he finds time regularly to write in his diary (“Flyary”). And it’s a good thing he does. Otherwise, how would we know that his first spaceship was a Model 7?
One day Frazzle’s beloved spaceship starts making strange noises. Will he ditch it for the Model 8 everyone’s talking about? This delightful story is pure joy from beginning to end, and fun to read aloud. The made-up words will inspire many readers, adult and child alike, to make up words of their own. Teachers using this book in a classroom can use the new words to talk about where words come from in the first place, and examine why the meanings of the made-up words can be determined from the context of the story. John Martz’s illustrations invoke a real sci-fi feel in a cartoon-ishly delightful way. They are rich in detail and will make you smile, even if you’re not having a “giddy” day. In other words, the story is “flixsome.”
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