It is Christmas time and thus much is quiet for me online.

This year especially so, because we are having our biggest Xmas ever–meaning, more than just the two of us and Hogfather and pork pies. triskelmoon and her husband and son are here, soon to be joined by sarapada, and then justbeast’s parents are coming for New Year (hopefully we’ll have Russian TV set up by then). It is a full house! Plus we did solstice this week with added pixelcandy and clan, plus LJ-less Winter and Fire. I have done my best to spoil my friends and have cooked, pickled, preserved, and infused like crazy.

And the weekend before? We hosted Ludum Dare (code a game in 48 hours for fun and profit) and I wrote, er, three short stories and two proposals in the weekend so as to express solidarity with the Argentinian Proletariat programmers in my life.

So you see why it’s been hard to blog. Also I am desperately trying to finish my last knitting present in time for the day. I will return with renewed vigor post-holiday and in the meantime will be on the Twitters.

I hope you are all well, and cozy this winter.

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I don’t think I’ve ever made a secret of how much I love the Brontes. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are two of my favorite novels, but more, the story of their childhood in Yorkshire, their strange fantasy kingdoms created between the four of them and the Parsonage and everything, everything. Back in the day my MSN username was iamabrontesaurus. I MEANT IT.

And in a literary world where everyone and their aunt adores Austen and writes pastiches, homages, fan fiction, and stories set in Austen-analogues, I sometimes feel alone, out on the moors in a black dress with my blind lover and a burning house insisting that Bronte is where it’s at, always, forever, I am not Lizzie Bennett and never was, I have been Jane and Cathy and Heathcliff in my heart since I was a child.

So right now I am researching a story about Angria and Gondal and the child Brontes. Honestly, I think I might have bitten off more than I can chew given that it’s due by month’s end, the research is gargantuan, even for someone who knows a fair amount about them. That doesn’t even bring into the case that I’ve never been to Yorkshire and I’ve gotta get my head out of Eastern European fairyspeak and into 19th century British fairyspeak and probably should read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in addition to my other materiel, some of which is still in transit.

But as I read about the tiny Brontes and their twelve wooden soldiers and their little magazine and newspaper and grand nations of their minds (even if Glass Town makes me a little uncomfortable as our small colonizers set their magical adventures in Darkest Africa) I am filled with longing.

I, like Charlotte, am the oldest of four siblings. (Actually five, as Charlotte was actually third oldest of six, but her sisters died, and one of my brothers lived with my mother and so I didn’t really grow up with him.) The thing is, I was six years older than the nearest brother, and until I was 12 the only girl. And my siblings and I are not so terribly alike in temperament or interests, though I surely told them stories endlessly when we were young. Also, I moved to my mother’s house at 13 (this is a long story I will not tell now) and my many siblings grew up mostly without me.

But whenever I read of these imagined shared worlds, I am filling with yearning like unto a literary heroine. Moonwise made me feel the same way. The Secret Country. I want to have had that. I want to have had a close little circle who made up elaborate, endless tales of a country we all agreed on. I want to have that secret language and that private symbolism. I especially want to have had close siblings I could have experienced that with. I want that interior landscape, and I want to share it with others.

Which is, of course, probably the same longing that led me to become a fantasy writer. So that I could share worlds with everyone. But it’s not the same as the close heads-pressed-together letsputonashowforjustus thing.

Then I think–but I have so many sisters now. I could do this.

And I come to the sad realization that I am burning all my engines at full to make worlds that can be published and shared on a big stage. I don’t know what I’d have left to devote to a thing that would live in the shadows and be gentle, silent, and secret. and of course all the Brontes had every intention of being famous writers, they were hardly without desire for publication. But now that it’s my job I just don’t know how that nursery feeling will ever come again. Youth is the time for that, I guess? I hate saying that about anything. If I weren’t doing it for a living I would happily indulge now. And maybe when I have a child I can have some sliver of it.

But still. I read about those kids and I long for a childhood I never had. Long for a secret Tarot like the Moonwise girls, for a world so very near real, but contained in the woods behind my house. For make believe and ballgowns out of autumn leaves. To be so close to someone(s) that we’d make between us not a child but a world.

We’re in the autumn that never ended here in Maine. The Autumn Provinces–it stubbornly refuses to get really cold and the snow comes but won’t stick. We’re at the end of autumn forever, it feels like. And maybe that makes me melancholy and extra Bronte-y. I have no moors but I have a lonely seaside and a forest, and had I but a great billowing black hoopskirty dress I’d wander it like some lost waif of Gondal.

Not enough sighs in the world.

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I have a new poem out today!

I am as proud of it as a short story so it gets its own post.

The Melancholy of Mecha Girl is a philosophical confessional poem about anime and giant robots. You can read it right over here, as Mythic Delirium, giant of the poetry world and 25th Birthday Girl, has chosen it as one of the issue’s featured poems.

This means! You can hear me reading it aloud as well as reading it yourself. And hopefully while you’re over there subscribe or just buy the issue, as it has many other amazing poets including Sonya Taaffe, Jeannine Hall Gailey (who inspired my own poem!), Mari Ness, Jessica Paige Wick, and Rachel Manija Brown.

I feel like I’m tentatively forging a new voice and a new phase in my poetry. I’m not really sure I could describe what it is, but this poem is definitely part of that. It’s exciting to me, and I hope it’s exciting to you, too.

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So a couple of months ago, I decided I didn’t have enough to do this year and got it in my head to Put on a Show on the island. Specifically, to corral enough islanders and Portlanders to mount a reader’s theatre production of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood sometime around Christmas.

(The seed of this was very likely talking about Under Milk Wood a lot while I was in Australia, as it is my favorite play and I love it beyond love, but meeting a fellow who had also read it and also loved it jarred me out of my usual “It’s only me who likes this weird thing!” haze.)

It was a thorny process–there are about 50 speaking parts in UMW, and I will tell you straight up, should you ever decide to do this insane thing, that you have absolutely no chance of getting 50 non-professional actory type adults with full time jobs and children to volunteer to read some weird Welsh radio play without getting paid for it just because you think it’s super awesome. Still, we started out ok, with about 35 people in the cast. Which, eventually, dwindled to about 13.

That meant a lot of doubled up parts (and tripled, and quadrupled) and justbeast juggling sound effects and Captain Cat and everyone working together to make it a going concern.

I had designed it to be as low stress and low commitment as possible–for everyone but me, as it turned out. I am not so good with the Executive Functioning thing, it is an Exciting Feature of my ADD. Turns out directing is ALL ABOUT Executive Functioning! I had to Make Decisions! And Design Flyers and Programs! And Advertise! And herd cats with people with very busy schedules and then also be First Voice, which is a fat part, to be quite honest. But it has my favorite monologue of all time, the opening one, which I read for my first drama class as a child and made my teachers squint at the 12 year old reciting Dylan Thomas from memory.

So I stressed and was afeared no one would come and hoped it would be what I’d always wanted, to be able to share this piece of beauty with a village not so different than Milk Wood. To make something out of nothing, to contribute to my community that I love so much, to add to the net beauty and interest of the world.

So on Saturday, our show went up at a 150 year old church on Peaks Island, to a full house, a (partially) standing ovation, and praise all around. We raised canned food (admission was one can) and money for the Peaks Island Food Pantry and gave them a good start on their winter work. Many, many people expressed the wish that it happen again next year, which was my fondest hope, to start a tradition. (I think UMW year after year would wear on folks, so I’m thinking a three or four play slate that would cycle through year by year. Skin of Our Teeth for next year, methinks.)

It was our smoothest run, and we had no tech glitches at all. The only real actor trip-up was unintentionally meta-hilarious: Our Second Voice tripped a line pretty hard, but the next line was Mr Pugh saying “What was that again, my dear?” –and the fellow playing Mr Pugh was Second Voice’s husband. The audience erupted with laughter and clapping–which wouldn’t have happened were it not a village where we all know each other, and all knew they were married.

We had some amazing readers, singers, actors, and even atheorist on the cello, because everything on this earth needs moar cello. I was so impressed with it all. And the audience laughed at the right times!

I’m not even sure if I could have managed something like this if I didn’t live in a place like Peaks Island, where everyone is so supportive of people being weird and following what calls them, where there was such joy in seeing people we all know become other people. Where you can just Put On a Show like people used to do, and have people volunteer to help you and play the parts, have a hundred folks show up, and tolerate your interest in Welsh radio, and feed hungry islanders in the bargain. It was really and genuinely special.

I’m so grateful that it happened In Real Life, not just in my idle Someday I Will Do This daydreaming instant messages. That I didn’t think about it ten seconds longer and decide it was too much to take this year. (It was. Doesn’t matter. Worth it.)

Thank you to everyone who acted and attended–you are all my heroes. I still can’t believe we really did it. We made a thing where there was not a thing. That, by any definition, is magic.

We are not wholly bad nor good
Who live our lives under Milk Wood…

 

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Myths of Origin, my VERY FIRST OMNIBUS EVER, is finally unleashed on the world!

It contains The Labyrinth, a surreal beatnik hero’s journey, Yume no Hon: The Book of Dreams, a chronicle of an old Japanese woman and her madness or enlightenment, and The Grass-Cutting Sword, a retelling of the Shinto creation myth, all of which were out of print, and quite pricey hardbacks to boot, along with Under In the Mere, my Arthurian book, which was written at the same time as those early novels, though published much later. That all would have cost you about $100 back in the day, and now are just about $10 anywhere you’d buy it.

It also has detailed notes on each book, where they came from and where they fit in with my life and aesthetic development. It’s a pretty awesome package–and check out that gorgeous cover!

Given that 2011 was a breakout year for me, it’s appropriate that Myths comes out this year, contexualizing the wildest and weirdest of my books. I look at this hefty tome and see how far I’ve come, and how far I still have to go, and remember the girl I was when I was just starting out and didn’t know any of the rules, so just barreled through writing like a 6 year old playing Streetfighter, mashing away the buttons to see what worked–and coming up with occasional fireballs.

You can pick up Myths of Origin at Amazon, BN, on Kindle or Nook, and even some brick and mortars. Anywhere you normally buy books. (On BN, if you’re fast, you can catch a glimpse of an old cover version!)

Later in the week I’ll see if I can dig up some old school icons from the ancient book releases. I’m using one now!

And now, as celebration of the New Baby, I will make an offer I never have before.

Ask me anything about these four books. Anything–even if it’s “what the fuck?” I’ll answer honestly and completely, with spoilers. You can ask me about the worldbuilding, or the answers to riddles, or why I made any of the choices I did. About what a sequel would have been to any of them, a prequel, a musical, a movie. Fire away, I’m all yours.

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