Find me at the Tucson Festival of Books

I’ll be at the Tucson Festival of Books from 1-5 Saturday (tomorrow!) at the Pima County Public Library’s Bookmobile near the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium on the UA Mall.

I’ll be talking about the Writer-in-Residence program and its upcoming workshops, and I’ll also be holding my office hours right there on the Mall–so come on by, and bring your writing questions with you!

Reviews (of Finding Your Sense of Place) and Appearances (with the Pima Public Library)

Two reviews of Finding Your Sense of Place!

Katherine Cowley: ” I highly recommend it for an exploration of setting and emotion.” (Check out her post on Emotional Beats in Fiction, as well.)

Janet Lee Carey at Dreamwalks: ” These forty pages could change your writing life. I know they’ll change mine.

I’ll be at the Pima County Public Library’s SummerMania/Megamania! July 11. It’s a free mini-comicon sponsored by the library–if you’re around, come on by!

When: July 11, 2015, 2-6 p.m.
Where: Pima Community College, Downtown Campus, Tucson, Arizona

Department of how did I not know about this?

You know the awful “it’s all just fine” ending to the movie of The Golden Compass? The one that anyone who’s read the book all the way to the end knows is a lie, because the real ending is one where nothing is at all fine?

The real ending was actually filmed. And there’s a fan video piecing together footage and storyboards to recreate it as closely as possible:

(And yes, I did get here via thinking about “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” in my last post. Blame TVTropes.)

Thoughts while working on a story arc

So maybe there’s the one who walks away from Omelas. And maybe that doesn’t seem to matter much, at the time. Maybe it even seems an easy way out

Only then there are also the three or five or three dozen people who watch that one walk away and think: okay, we’re not willing (can’t) (choose not to) do that. But maybe it’s about time we worked on fixing this thing from where we are.

Both these people: the ones who walk away, and the ones who witness the walking away and are changed by it are needed, and of equal importance, and intimately interconnected.

And the time that passes between these two responses matters too. It’s time during which, somewhere beneath the surface, receptiveness to change can shift in subtle ways.

“If this were my last glimpse of winter / what would these eyes see?”

Set out in the chilly late morning in my Runner 5 T-Shirt for a run. (Runner 7 says I’m now authorized to run 5K, hah!) The neighborhood was filled with people–walking, running, biking, leading kids on big wheels–and generally felt so much like, well, a neighborhood that it made me happy to be here, at the start of a new year.

This late afternoon I’m in my Badass Unicorn T-shirt, ready to settle in for some writing.

Mirrored from Desert Dispatches: WordPress Edition.

“… yet would I remember that once I saw the dragons aloft on the wind at sunset …”

In this month of short days, I found myself turning to a reread of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Farthest Shore, which has become one of my comfort reads. (A couple decades ago, I would have turned to Tombs of Atuan instead. Perhaps in a couple more I’ll turn to Tehanu.)

He knew now why this tranquil life in sea and sunlight on the rafts seemed to him like an after-life or a dream, unreal. It was because he knew in his heart that reality was empty: without life or warmth or color or sound: without meaning. There were no heights or depths. All this lovely play of form and light and color on the sea and in the eyes of men, was no more than that: a playing of illusions on the shallow void.

They passed, and there remained the shapelessness and the cold. Nothing else.

Sparrowhawk was looking at him, and he had looked down to avoid that gaze. But there spoke in Arren unexpectedly a little voice of courage or of mockery: it was arrogant and pitiless, and it said, “Coward! Coward! Will you throw even this away?”

So he looked up, with a great effort of his will, and met his companion’s eyes.

Sparrowhawk reached out and took his hand in a hard grasp, so that both by eye and by flesh they touched. He said Arren’s true name, which he had never spoken: “Lebannen.” Again he said it: “Lebannen, this is. And thou art. There is no safety, and there is no end. The word must be heard in silence; there must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss.”

When I fly (in an airplane, not by magic–though all flying is a sort of magic), I can judge how I’m feeling by how I respond to in-flight turbulence.

There’s a part of my that’s a little uneasy about flying … mildly uneasy, nothing compared to friends who are genuinely phobic. But when I’m feeling worn thin and small, that uneasy part of me flinches at turbulence, braced with every jolt for the jolt that will throw the plane out of the air. Humans flying seems such an improbable thing anyway. Surely it can’t last, some part of my backbrain thinks. Surely this jolt will be the one the plane doesn’t lift out of, or the next, or maybe the next.

Of course, planes can fall out of the sky. But in any given instant, the plane I’m on probably won’t.

But when I’m feeling strong and whole, that knowledge isn’t the thing I look to for reassurance and comfort.

It’s something more I look to. A feeling of joy in that bouncing of plane in air–of me in air. I’m flying, and I know it, and how incredible and exhilarating is that? It’s an impossible and wondrous and dancing thing, and I’m able to cast something of myself out into that dance and that joy, trusting the sky to hold me up.

Or … not quite. When I’m living most fully, I’m not actually actively reassuring myself that mostly, probably, more often than not, the sky won’t let me fall. Those are comfort thoughts for hard times.

In good times, I know full well the sky can drop me at any time. I fly accepting that knowledge, not denying it but not obsessing about it either, and somehow … joy isn’t lessened for it. That acceptance may even be part of where the joy comes from, though not all of it.

Because flying? It is an impossible and wondrous and dancing thing.

Mirrored from Desert Dispatches: WordPress Edition.

“This is your life / this is your world / beginning to end”

Dear Protagonist Whose Character Arc Is Shifting in Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Ways,

You may have noticed the stakes have risen a bit since the last draft.


(listens to crickets)

(nice crickets)

So, has it occurred to you this might mean you need a better plan for meeting them?



Dear Ordinary and Very Human Tertiary Characters,

I’m sorry. But I’m going to have to stop referring to you as “the javelinas.”

Because you’re not anymore.

No, truly. You’re not.

Also, your plan? Not any better than Protagonist’s, really.


Mirrored from Desert Dispatches: WordPress Edition.

Today’s holiday (and non-holiday) shopping thought

“Buy local” is a far more positive message than “Don’t buy from [insert country of choice].”

I get uneasy when I see buying locally phrased in terms of who we’re not buying from instead of who we are, when I see it presented as taking a stand against rather than for, when I see it twisted into a subtle (or not-so-subtle) way of turning those who live outside our borders into something other and inferior and apart. Buying within our own communities doesn’t change the fact that those in other communities, near and far, are living lives just as real and important and valid as our own, and have the same rights and needs that we do, including the right to earn a living. I don’t like to see buying locally presented in ways that deny these things.

I prefer to see buying within my community as a statement that all communities matter. And also as a reminder that beyond my own neighborhood and city there’s a larger global community, and that ultimately I’m connected to and a part of that, too.

Mirrored from Desert Dispatches: WordPress Edition.

Just found out my Mom’s partner passed away, so will be offline for a few days while we head to NY to see her. Probably behind on email as well … will catch up when we return!