These last eight months have put nearly everyone in some kind of pinch point. The psychological pressures, strains, shifts in rhythms and patterns and the interruptions in resources—along with polarizing politics and the heightened push for awareness of human rights has left even the most logical and reasonable people at a loss for what to do.
Six months ago, I started a social experiment mostly out of curiosity, but also out of the desire to know the origins of what was coming across my feeds and why people were behaving so ridiculously on both sides. I wanted to know about the tricky algorithms on Facebook that were hijacking my news intake. Interestingly, the documentary “The Social Dilemma” released on Netflix a few months into my own experiment, which informed a shift in my engagements and helped me map the methods a little better.
I already knew I’d be dumping my Facebook account probably by the end of the year, but I wanted to know how the algorithms worked so I could use them later if I chose to market for one of my labels. Engagement was really the key.
Let me back up a bit to my first paid writing job. I was twenty years old when I was hired to write “rant/rave” columns. It was 1998, and I was so stoked to have a $30 check once a month for content that I didn’t ask any questions. (It turns out it was for an online porn magazine—which I discovered when I asked for a copy to put in my brag book) Anyway, I was hired to write (poorly) a column each month that would make people angry, argumentative, irritable, or reactive. “I piss people off every day! You mean I can get paid for it?”
I was paid to be a troll. I didn’t realize that’s what it was at the time. Mind you, we were still in the days of dialup and if I could make people angry enough to write in and stay online (seeing advertisements from the e-zine) long enough to spout replies—I was winning. True fact=I never once, not once, read the comments. Why? Why in god’s name would I stick around for that?
My job was to find trigger points, form an opinion, then drop the bomb and leave the room. That was it. Then I took my 30$ check and blew it on candy and movie rentals, since I wasn’t even old enough to drink yet.
I did it for about a year before the negativity really wore me down. It was exhausting trying to come up with a topic every month to piss people off—angry people, and being in a headspace to taunt them is tiring. I wanted to use my craft for more than trigger trolling. I wrote that we needed to legalize weed, tax the hell out of it and pay for education upgrades. I wrote that churches collecting tithing should also have to pay taxes. (And so on and so forth) All of it was aimed to polarize.
A year later I moved on to my first set of novels and the rest is history.
The point is this: word craft and storytelling are, by function, a form of connecting with the primal reactive points of the human experience. Whether that’s to educate, or control, manipulate or enlighten is really up to two factors; Intent and engagement.
Think of it this way. The dominant reactions will always boil down to FEAR and LOVE. It seems overly simplistic but there’s a plethora of fiber and energy in each one, right?
Love= trust, compassion, willingness, generosity, kindness, joy, fulfillment, openness, forgiveness and so on. Love embodies BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. Love also embodies the ability to empathize, see alternate viewpoints, and find compromise. Love attempts to understand, not control outcome.
Fear= distrust, withholding, stagnation, cruelty, unkindness, us vs. them, pulling back, anger, retaliation, being closed off, bitterness, stubbornness, anxiety, depression, rage. Fear embodies ASSUMED IGNORANCE and a baseline for battle readiness. Fear attempts to control outcome, not understand.
It’s simple, and yet not. Because we all have both within us at any given time on a number of topics; relationships, business, government, home, health, finances, and so on and so forth. PLUS, we bring to each argument the unhealed/unrecognized baggage of the topic from our previous experiences.
Remember the two factors that imbue communication—Intent and engagement?
Intent can be either love or fear and the resulting engagement will respond with either love or fear? Some of that is in response to the intent, and the rest is nearly 100% based a preconditioned emotional set-point.
As a paid trigger troll, my job was to find the language and set off that preconditioned set-point in order to keep people online longer, to keep them engaged. It didn’t matter if I made up facts. It didn’t matter if I pulled data out of my butt. The guy was paying me to write content that would keep people emotional. Dial-up = $$. Well, it did anyway. Now that $$ is in time spent scrolling, data mining and so on.
In 1998 it didn’t matter to me at all, at the tender age of twenty, that people were getting worked up, emotional or starting fights online over my content. It mattered that I had a paid writing credit, and that I could wander down to the market for candy and the lasted VHS new release. My thoughts were, “If they’re dumb enough to sit there and fight about it, that’s on them. I’ve got things to do.”
That experience was pivotal in later years as I learned yet more about emotional anchorage, and writing novels that pulled readers in. Toggling the love/fear switch in the human experience is what makes storytelling so gripping. If we don’t connect with the story, believe in the protagonists, get hooked into their adventure—it’s not a book worth reading, right? It’s not an idea worth championing. You put it down and walk away.
So what was the point of all this?
If I played the engagement part of the algorithms on Facebook correctly, my posts should now be showing up on 75% of my Facebook friends’ feeds. That was a lot of clicking, sharing, pushing, and triggering.
IF you are one of the friends who normally never comments on politics, or otherwise but somehow felt compelled to weigh in on my feed at some point in the last 6 months—chances are you’ve been stuck with my feed since. Gotchya! Not gloating…but maybe a little gloating.
If you’re one of the people who don’t believe intent/engagement are the primary factors of communication or that the love/fear part of the underlying motivations, or that it’s too oversimplified—keep in mind I’m now showing up on your feed because you responded to something I posted…good/bad/otherwise. You are part of that 75% matrix by design.
I will fully admit this was a shitty play. Not the way to use the Kung Fu magic of storyteller energy. However, in my paltry defense I’ll say this:
The surface appearance of cultural division in America is not quite as drastic as it may seem. In fact, this experiment has renewed much of my faith in my community and in humanity. I’ll get into all that in other posts, but for now I just wanted to let folks know, there was a reason to the madness.
Thank you all who trusted me to explain the strangeness. Thank you to all the private messages, notes, and emails expressing frustration and concern over things people were saying on my feed. I really appreciated the feeling of knowing I wasn’t an island. Thank you to all who took bait, weighed in, commented, chewed their own fingernails, bit back retorts, and generally held on for the ride. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your patience.
I sincerely hope the following posts expressing what I learned about our wider community and political divisions will be worth the strain and high blood pressure for you all.
As an aside: if you want OUT of the feeds and to block any further posts from my now that you know what I was up to there are two ways to shift your algorithm.
However, if you’re curious what I discovered or want to go a little deeper, just like, share, subscribe. It’s silly. I know—I’m using the same engagement principles to keep you reading as I did to get bumped into your news feed.
I never worried about the people who really know me wondering about what I feel, think, or believe. They already know me. They already know my general and consistent intentions. They already know my life’s work to this point.
But a few months of digging, triggering, pushing, and sitting in some pretty uncomfortable positions has led me to believe—as a whole, humanity is still pretty fucking awesome. I know it doesn’t seem like that when you’re burning through the scroll—but bear with me. Hang in a little longer, and if you’re able, grant me the benefit of the doubt.
My intent from this point forward is to show the love—if you can trust in my intent, let me show you what I’ve discovered.
To be continued….
This is also an excellent time to plug Gideon For-mukwai's book 'The SCIENCE of STORY SELLING".
It’s been a hairy month already, so I don’t have much to coherently update. Right about the time I put words together and makes sense of one thing, something else knocks me off balance. That said, I am okay. My home in the Elder Glade in Oregon is okay. The fires are a safe distance away, although the air is thick with smoke and it is sometimes a challenge to breathe or blink. (My eyes are raw from the air quality.) The power is back on, and air filters are running full time in the house.
I have been very lucky. So very lucky.
Dakota, Buttercup, and Furiosa are all okay. Unfortunately, my other cat, Pandora has gone missing, and I suspect the coyotes that have been coming into the yard. The wildlife has been confused, embolden and shifted in range by the fires.
This update is short and I’ll add more when I can. Please be safe out there, folks.
It seems weird to be doing a mid-month update of intensely personal evolution even as the world is burning with much larger and more important issues to tackle. That being said, I don’t have the energy today to dig into those larger issues, so I’m updating with the lighter more frivolous goings on.
I realize this will come as a shock to longtime followers, but I’ve decided to start dating again. I know. Long story short, I started to peel the Band-Aid back, then figured…to hell with it, the world is on fire. So, I just ripped the bandage and…whoa, the flood gates opened.
Go figure. The most action or interest I’ve had in five years happens to be during a worldwide pandemic and under self-quarantine orders. It just goes to show my love life has the most epic crap timing. Then again, if you’ve been with me since the BlissQuest days, you already knew this. Also, turns out, dating via zoom is not awful. It’s rather nice, actually. So much less strain or stress involved. I dig it.
I started saying yes. I started reaching out to those I'm interest in. I dipped my toe in the water and my leg wasn’t chewed off by piranhas, so I guess I’ll keep saying yes for a bit and see what happens; see where it goes.
With all that, there’s a lot to unpack in the shift from considering leaving the woods for human relationships again. I won’t be leaving the woods for anything less than fucking spectacular, obviously. Yet I do recognize that my self-imposed hermitage is coming to an end. It’s in the air, the stars. I feel it when I’m casting. There’s a shift in the tone of light. It’s time.
It’s been tough to explain to men why I opted for hermitage. Either they assume I’m a man hater and was driven to isolation and seclusion by some awful experience and I must be damaged in some way (don’t worry, if I pick up that vibe from them I just quietly move along), or they seem to lump me into a female Unabomber category and stupidly ask if I own a gun. (Yep, I move along from those as well.) No less than five dudes in the last 30 days have asked me if I own a gun. Seriously guys, fuck off about asking a single woman who lives alone in the woods if she’s armed. It's hella creepy.
So, explaining hermitage seems like it should be relatively simple—turns out, it’s been more of a hurdle than I imagined. While I’ve explained myself more than I should or need to, it boils down to this statement that I’ve finally just made my go-to phrase to stop the question from being a thing: “I live where I have absolute peace and creative freedom. The world doesn’t come to me, I go to the world when I want something.”
I can see the glazed, blank expressions, and can usually tell right away if that made sense…and if it doesn’t, we’re not a match on the level of expectations for quality of life. I say thank you, and move on.
It’s been illuminating, really. Less so about men in general, most men are what they are, but mostly about what MY actual intentions are. Up until recently, I had no intentions around dating and or relationships. I had my hands and brain full of creativity and craft, and surviving the forest, there wasn’t time/energy/interest in dancing around the relationship topic. It started around January; a slow creeping shift in the season of quietude. Huh.
Stranger still, it became more urgent just before the quarantine. Then, woosh…the sensation of readiness to engage became a space of intense forced reflection. Serious self-reflection and deep shadow work. The kind of #shadowwork I haven’t dug into in a decade or more, so I was long overdue. I’m grateful I had the time to reflect that deeply in a space that allowed the kind of safety to really go into the realms. When I finally came back up for air the truth was a bright, burning glare.
My continued expansion, growth, and evolution is now at the point where true partnership and reflection in a union is the next phase of personal evolution.
The truly shitty part of this is, I can stay happily fulfilled, full of joy and freedom and bliss out here in my bubble, but I recognize there will be a limit on my expansion. It will be a level of happiness, true. It will be joyous and I’ll love it, true. But I am unlikely to go beyond this point of blissful expansion in my heart or energetic realm by myself.
BUT I’M SO HAPPY! So, what’s the harm in just staying as I am? Staying happy? Staying Free? Staying creative?
There is no harm in maintaining this contented space. Happiness has been a hard-won prize, it came at great cost, but I know now that I will always have it. I can always obtain it on my own. What I don’t know if I can do yet, it obtain it while in a partnership…that’s a bit trickier. Furthermore, as I work to understand personal story, community story, tribe and relationships in general—how do I deepen those understandings if I am approaching them from the place of being an island?
Gah! I feel stretched between two worlds. I suppose that’s what coming out of the wood and into the light is, really. One foot in the ethereal realm of creative immersion, driven by the urge to finally connect, share, grow—but reluctant to give up the security that is self-reliance and personal connection to being a wholly empowered individual.
My brain says, nope! My heart says, yes please! Bring the adventures! There’s a lot of wobbling back and forth between yep-nope-yep-nope-yep-nope.
Essentially, I don’t expect to be good at this right away. I’m flinchy and a little feral. I’m struggling to make sense of the scope this toe-dip will make to my story as a whole. I can’t see the big picture completely, yet. I’m still defining what I want and what I’ll willingly engage with. So—to practice, I’m saying yes to invitations. I’m sending invitations out. I’m sifting through the experiences to decide what will make my heart and mind align in a solid forward momentum toward a true partnership.
I’m looking for that connection that will excite me enough to release that last bit of stubborn grip on this old phase and charge forward delightedly to the next adventure with them.
I already know that nothing less than a sense of true partnership will interest me. I’d rather just keep my stasis in the woods and maintain my happy space. Only a leap for something beyond that is going to lure me out, so I’m trying to understand what that will look like so I can articulate it well, and look for it specifically when asking people out.
Yes, I do the asking when I’m interested. I’m not a wilting violet waiting breathlessly to be chased. I’ve got shit to do, and worlds to build. I get on with the getting it on. That’s adulting at its finest, yo. (Also, true partnership recognizes initiative is taken by whomever gets there first, right? Or…whomever rolls the best on 10D….)
DM never said “roll for initiative” but really meant, only guys can take that initiative. So, if I’m stepping out-- I’m doing it with my hands on my dice pack, and my chin up.
Like I said, a weird mid-month update considering the world as it is. For folks who’ve been following for some time, I imagine this is something you knew I needed long before I did. Thanks for not rubbing that in. I’m getting to it in my own sweet time, apparently, and by my own unorthodox strategy. (I even signed up for a matchmaking service. I know. I know.)
As I mentioned on Instagram, I usually don’t post the deeply personal nature of shadow work or my sketchbook where I work these concepts out. But in the spirit of this world needing what feels like a bit more acknowledgement that shadow work needs to be done, and deep personal development is both vulnerable and difficult—these are the two sketches from my notepad that define this internal transition as I’ve come to the awareness of being open to possibilities of partnership and creative emotional collaboration.
The first: The Hanged Man/ Hermit tarot card prompts of retreating to the woods to do the work. Chrysalis.
The second: The Sun/Death/Judgment tarot card prompts for returning to the world to collaborate with community, lovers, and friends. Grow Forth and Collaborate with Magic
Essentially, by the time I finished the second sketch, my mental/emotional reality had shifted and I knew the hermitage phase was closing out even though I have no idea what the next phase will actually look like or how it will come about.
Shadow work leaves you raw and exhausted, that’s why it’s work. But the final product is relief, optimism, and a new sense of freedom. It just so happens in this case, that freedom is dancing with the idea of combining superpowers with another human being.
#shadowwork #tarot #elderglade #dating #gettingbackoutthere
Sheesh. This month hit like an ice-road trucker turning into a skid. I came out of January with so much momentum and with so many intersecting deadlines scheduled to hit at once that I’ve been on high burn for three weeks to try and get ahead of what is about to be a pileup. Trying to mitigate the impact zones and coordinate some stagger if possible.
It might look pretty gnarly through March and part of April—but afterward it should level back out.
The Life Erotic Week Two: Nibbles went live last month. I’m happy to report the feedback I’m getting from male readership is especially encouraging. So far, the most powerful emails have been requests from people asking how they can inspire their partners to be more comfortable and to feel free to be themselves in the bedroom. Huzzah!
While I doubt I’m the most qualified person to answer such questions, I’m happy those questions are being asked. Folks who are openly, and willingly on the legitimate path to discovering those answers are in for some delightful intimacy with the ones they love—and I can’t help but be excited for them. YAY!
The branding merge of my two author names under one site and banner is nearly complete. My works under B. Unbidden were easy to transfer on the digital side. That does leave the question as to how to go about putting The Life Erotic into print format. A trickier process.
My original fears about people being confused and accidentally purchasing the wrong name and ending up with porn when they think they’re getting fantasy fiction appears to have been an unnecessary worry…so that’s a relief. Now I feel a little silly about fighting the merge for so long. Alas.
As far as my small publishing label, BlissQuest Publishing goes, this merge will make it significantly easier to manage business and needs without needing to jump back and forth on different platforms. It will also enable readers to find all my work in one place, rather than me sending them to multiple locations or shopping cart checkouts.
Speaking of checkouts—yes, the next upgrade to the site will include the storefront for book purchases, sculptures from my polymer studio, and the membership lounge. It’s coming.
The Coming Out:
No, I’m not gay, but it would be a huge relief to my dad if I were. No, my coming out is entirely related to preparing to step out of the forest. Eeek. I know. But I’m so happy all tucked in up here, right?
Yes, I’m wonderfully happy and fulfilled. However, the time has come to get in front of my work and speak for these characters. It’s time to give a platform to their voices—so, I can’t keep hiding. I’ve had three blissful, relaxing, beautiful years of solitude and rejuvenation. A cocoon, if you will.
Coming out of that cocoon is scary and uncomfortable, but necessary. The new form I’ll be taking is still in flux. I need to pick the skin that will feel the strongest, most supportive, and flexible to achieve the goals I’ve set for this emergence. There will be plenty more on this transformation on the VLOG and on my Instagram account.
So far, the coming out transformation includes some basic upkeep to my body that I’ve neglected for too long whilst in the happy glow of a three-year writing spree. Yes, that means losing weight, toning up, reconditioning my breath, and re-learning makeup and hair for public presentation. Day one in the camera made me feel like a Baba Yagga forest witch that stumbled out of the underbrush and onto a highway.
Stay tuned…and please feel free to offer some advice or ideas. I’m open to feedback.
The Elder Glade:
Spring is coming six weeks early. I’m really worried about the delicate leaves and blossoms trying to shoot too soon. If we get a late frost we’ll lose whole crops this year. Tillamook County has also endured massive flooding this winter, which has put large swathes of farmland under water.
Up in the glade I got a lot of rain, and the creek swelled, swallowing the island and overflowing the dam. Luckily the wellhead stayed safe, but there will be a lot of cleanup this spring when the sun starts to come back. I have a lot of downed trees and branches to clear.
I’ve also had to make some tough choices about which projects I take on this season. Namely, the beehives.
I’m going to be crushed by deadlines in the next six weeks, and will have to be really selective about my project load and finances—so ordering new bee colonies may have to be pushed back. Sure, you can order and house them after the season—but you run the risk of them not being able to establish before the winter, and there’s just not enough bloomage in my part of the forest to give them a mid-summer cache.
While going through The Elder Glade project load for the next six weeks I realized I’m going to have to triage some things off the list. It will be so sad to skip bees this year. I really love making the honey into mead and having a booming raspberry crop from the extra local pollinators, but, well…time.
Anywhoo, I’ll keep you posted on land updates again soon.
Thank you for all your continued support and encouragement! See you next month.
There is still room to sign up for my 2020 Planning Workshop. Class starts at 10am on the 19th, and includes lunch and supplies. We’ll be mapping out your goals and setting up an easy step method to get you to your dreams.
Shoot me an email for reservation information. email@example.com
In other news, I have already mapped out my year, and created continuation goals for the next three year. As most folks know, I LOVE JANUARY! Here’s a previous post on my adoration of mapping and goal setting.
I’m a geek for challenges and organization—so this month has been a deep dive into what I really want in the next few years, and how to go about achieving it all. I’ll post more on this after the workshop.
Also, stay tuned for more information on The Elder Glade Market.
New Elder Glade Menagerie Member: Dakota
In other news, I adopted a large German Shepherd/Husky mix this month. Her name is Dakota. She’s such a great animal; super patient, affectionate and gentle. Unfortunately, she’s currently at the vet with a series of issues. I’ll blog more on this as I’m able. It’s been a very emotional, stressful event, and I’ve been having a hard time finding words that are somewhat neutral and compassionate around the details.
Please say hello to Dakota!
This update is just a short and sweet check-in to get back on track. Please feel free to write in with requests for future content.
Have a lovely 2020, folks! Be safe—but dream big.
November this year brings a crisp morning chill, and the strange feeling that I’m forgetting something. Oh, right…I keep forgetting that I’m supposed to be taking a year off from Nanowrimo. You wouldn’t know it, but I really am taking this year off from the National Novel Writing Month. After fifteen years of participating, my writing clock still kicked in, and I find my fingers twitching for the keyboard. Although I’m not adhering to the Nanowrimo word count, I’ve been sitting down for regular writing session. As soon as the weather turned chilly, and the autumn sunrises took on a golden rosy hue…my internal programming triggered and story just had to happen. I’m not fighting it- I’m just going slow.
Taking it easy this year was a difficult decision. It was a much-needed slowdown and I’m really glad I’m not pushing myself to any breaking points on word count. That being said, with a lighter touch to the content caching I usually do in the month of November, I’ve been able to do some other projects and get caught up on a backlog of to-do items. Not to mention I was also able to spend some time outside, make a trip to Portland to see some of my Alaskan family, and put in some time at the sculpting table.
So, this month’s update is photo heavy. Here’s a gallery of goings on since my last update:
That’s all for the November 2019 mid-month update! See you next month, folks.
Well, it’s been a rough six weeks, but I’m back on my feet. It started out as a cold, then became a bronchial infection then walking pneumonia. Combined with external stressors it totally kicked my arse. Though I was down for the count for a full week of not being able to get out of bed at all, I was able to get some minor survival functions done on either side of that downtime.
Although I’m back up and moving, occasional coughing fits are still expelling demonic sludge from my lower lungs. Gross.
The good news is that I’m back to my regular schedule, and in the process of trying to get caught up on all the things I couldn’t stay on top of for the last month. The catch-up game sucks, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Today is the first day I’ve woken up feeling somewhat refreshed and human. And I can breathe!! I even made it through a shift yesterday without cough suppressant. Huzzah!
Anywhoo, enough about the slag.
While I was down for the count, I had plenty of time to think about my current predicaments. Narrowing survival down to one breath at a time will certainly put some things in perspective. Primarily, I kept wondering why I was trying so hard to fix problems that aren’t really my job to fix, and why I’ve somehow lost my creative perspective yet again.
Damnit all. How do I keep allowing my creative mission to be waylaid by minutia?
So I had a few days of being stuck in bed and grappling with the realization that I need to hand some things over to professionals and step back, then double down on my creative pursuits and get back to my healthy center and self.
What does all that mean?
In a nutshell, a re-org on my creative life, again. I do feel like each time I hit a refurbish and reorg point, I get a little closer to the nirvana of being a fully sustainable creativity engine. This time around I’m leveling up to a new support system. Simply having reached the point that I can no longer be an island of output—I need more of a team.
This is a massive development. A terrifying and big step in a growth direction.
Although I’m not sure what it will look like just yet, the probability of bringing on an intern or an assistant for my publishing and creative works is a real discussion.
Though the assistant conversation is bumping around in the noggin for the moment, there are more urgent needs to resolve first, such as getting fully healthy and back into the winter creative rhythm.
I wasn’t able to sit at my sculpting table very long the last few weeks, but I was able to pull my laptop in bed with me and knock out some work count. Almost fifty pages on the Xabien storyline made me realize the shift in weather is ratcheting up my writing urges. Sixteen years of settling in to bust out word count starting at the Autumn Equinox has developed an almost Pavlovian response to the autumn light change and the need to write feels pressing.
This brings me to a difficult decision: I will not be participating in Nanowrimo this year. It breaks a fifteen-year long streak, but I just don’t think I’m up to the stress and pressure of it this time around.
I’m still able to write and put out volume, but with everything on my plate—I just don’t think my health can take the strain. Too much going on this year.
Instead, I’ll be spending November getting caught up on editing and doing chapter splints on Plague of Gargoyles. I’ll be reading, resting, and getting my health back in line. I will likely still long into Nanowrimo.org and cheer on my peeps – but I won’t be going to write-ins or posting counts. Alas. It does make me a bit sad, but it just is what it is this year.
Since I’m not doing Nano, I did agree to participate one day at the Mooksville Book Festival in Tillamook, Oregon. The book fair is held annually at the Tillamook Museum. I'll be there November 16th, 2019. Stop by! I’ll see you there.
All in all, getting back to full-steam has been slow going, and to be totally honest, I don’t know if I want to be that level of full-steam anymore for a few months anyway. I’d kind of like my health and sanity to be a priority for a while. So, I’m making peace with the reality that this winter might not be as productive as my other winters. This might just be a slow, non-productive hibernation. Then when spring comes, I may need to hire help to level up and launch into a new creative platform. It’s food for thought, and I’ve got a few months to chew on that nugget.
I hope this mid-month update finds you all doing well, and enjoying the seasonal shift!
Summer has blown past like a train that missed the station, but here are some updates about the goings on in my little pocket universe.
Summer is the season I work my ass off at the restaurant so that I can take time off in the winter to write. So usually, there’s not a lot of writing time in the summer weeks. However, I have been burning the midnight hours (and lots of wine) on getting Plague of Gargoyles ready for beta. Somehow with all the mad crush of season, I was able to compile a working V.1. I can’t even express what a relief this is. Sure, it’s the dreck draft, but going into the writing season with a block draft will make this winter so much more productive. Hopefully, Plague of Gargoyles will go out to beta readers in November or December, so I can put Tangle of Mermaids on the V.1 track to beta by summer next year.
With all that being said, I also went a little nutty after a few glasses of wine and began remodeling my character files, and organizing my world notes. There’s something to be said about late nights of drunken casting, sifting through celebrity photos and rebuilding character sheets. So. Much. Fun.
I’m dearly looking forward to sharing my hopeful casting notes with prospective producers. Let’s just hope they understand my wine-laced vision board notes….
The Elder Glade Cottage Stead
Most of June and July were so unseasonably wet and muggy that the growing time for many of the garden plants just never got enough light or heat. The tomatoes are still about the same size as they were eight weeks ago. Other plants molded from the rain and gray. However, the roses loved it.
Mister Lincoln, the rose variety that features heavily in The Pillars of Dawn books, specifically in Murder of Crows, finally bloomed. Three years ago I’d decided to plant several of the roses that grow in Auntie Celeste’s garden, so I could bask in the inspiration that is her special zen. Mister Lincoln was one of the first roses I planted, but each season I was sure I’d killed him. He never really took off…until this year. Suddenly, as everything else was dying under the muggy gray sky, Mister Lincoln shot up five feet and declared one perfect flower, as if to say, “I’m here! Don’t give up on me!”.
And he was so worth the wait. It was like a little hello from Auntie Celeste, a nod and a smile and her voice saying, “Mr. Lincoln sends his regards.”
Also on the list of successful plantings were several quarts of raspberries, a pound of fresh rhubarb, and a mountain of herbs from pineapple sage, to mint, rosemary, and thyme, dill, and fennel. Still to be harvested, dried or frozen. I even managed a small harvest of baby potatoes, before the ducks destroyed the remainder of the plants (will put the potatoes in raised beds next year).
The black Cherokee corn, and the lilies are doing well. And in a week or so I will have the first blooms from a dahlia bulb that was a gift from my neighbor.
So, this mixed bag of summer growing output has been a good learning experience of what I need to alter to create a more vibrant landscape that can weather many climate variables. All the more delicate plants, the peppers, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, and peas all shriveled in the gray damp summer.
The new chicken coop has been framed. All the wood is old or was donated by friends and neighbors. I hope to get it done before the rains, but if not, I’ll be looking to re-home the birds, as I refuse to keep them in the small coop for the winter. That’s just not fair to them. If it comes to that, I’ll start over on a new flock in the spring.
Along with the wood donated for the coop, a friend has donated the lumber for me to create a bridge over the creek. I’m so excited about this! Once the rains come I’m not able to forge the water to the land on the other side, so nothing gets done to the property on the south bank until spring. Hopefully with a bridge, I’ll be able to do some work across the water on nice days in the winter.
All in all, it’s still baby steps, but finally after three years, the land is beginning to feel like it’s establishing itself. There are signs of flourishing, sporadic, and irregular—but there none the less.
Thank you for tuning into the mid-month update. Next month I hope to have photos of the grow site, and news on some upcoming sculpting projects scheduled for winter.
I will also update on the planning for upcoming creativity workshops.
The summer is half over and it doesn’t even feel like it’s begun. The rainy, overcast skies and slow start to the tourist season at the restaurant have been confusing. Much of my garden drowned in the constant rain, and when the sun comes out it’s muggy and damp so some of my shady low plants have developed a rot that slowly turned them gray.
On the bright side of all the rain and damp, the kiwis have gone nuts, and the grapes are loving the water for their second year of root establishment. When they’re at the age to begin fruiting, I don’t know if this much rain will be a good thing, but for now…it’s working.
We had a rare patch of light this week, so I got out with the camera to keep track of the changes. The humidity was insane, but it was lovely to have sunlight. The 13 year old apple tree that never fruited is bent over with an abundance of gala applets. This tree was a decade old when I moved in, and it never flowered in those three years. Last year I built the chicken run along side the fruit trees and piled chicken manure around the bases and root zones. I also tested the manure on one garden box, and one row of raspberries.
As I’d hoped, the apple tree came to life this year with hundreds of blooms, and what looks like it will be a great harvest. The raspberries are abundant, and the one raised bed I fertilized is rich with half a dozen herbs, yet more rhubarb, and new gladiola shoots.
I also had an unfortunate raccoon attack on the chicken coop last month that killed several of my chickens and ducks. This has necessitated a temporary cloistering in the small coop for the remaining animals (which is unfair and gross) and an emergency coop remodel. Because I hate keeping the birds trussed up in such a small space, I do allow them out to free range when I know I’ll be home by dark. The result has meant that the slug population in my garden is like, zilch. Which is awesome. Go ducks! More on the coop remodel soon.
The final update for the cottagestead for July is this: I’ve made a controversial decision this year to let my bee colony go partially feral. This is due to the more aggressive nature of this last hive, and partly due to time management issues for getting in and working the bees regularly. The positive effect of letting them go natural for a season is that they are far stronger and more active than any colony I’ve had before. They’re so heavily populated, maybe even crowded---which means, they will either swarm OR they will be able to easily defend themselves from a yellow-jacket invasion like the ones that killed both my hives late last summer (and more than half of the county’s club hives).
Writing and Publishing
I blogged about my decision to look back into traditional publishing earlier this month. I’m also checking into brand management teams and agencies, as well as talent management. In short, it’s time to do something differently, and I’m putting feelers out in lots of directions for data and feedback.
To be honest, I don’t know what I need for sure. I could easily employ an assistant with the volume of projects queued up for publishing and business management, and if I could use a full time assistant---it’s to the point I need to look into what a team might cost and what benefits that would provide. Is it worth it? I don’t know, but I’m looking at a bunch of ideas and angles I’ve never considered before. Especially now that the cannabis farming and grow model are beginning to merge and overlap with my publishing works…
We are no longer the smallest licensed grow in the state of Oregon! YAY! That being said, we still have lots of work to do. This week we got our scales certified, which was a big step. It was so nice to have an official visitor signed into the log. I’m sure he thought I was being ridiculous…but I was just so excited to have an official sign-in. It’s the little stuff, you know?
We’ll have our logo soon, which will help us feel a bit more legit when talking to folks, especially as we near the first round of product going into flower for harvest. In just a few short months I hope to be announcing our new line of designer boutique recreational cannabis offerings by their unique names and descriptors.
These designer strains will be built into our marketing and branding campaign over three business platforms, including my writing and fantasy worlds. More on that to come. The unlimited potential for introducing cannabis as an entertainment enhancer in the literary world is, well, mind-blowing and exhilarating. I owe much of this enthusiasm and encouragement to my business partners who suggested the crossover potential long before I could see it myself. Now that my creativity is latching onto the concepts and drawing them into my fantasy worlds—there will be smokable adventures on the very near horizon.
Spring brought a few weeks of heat, and a rush of blooms. I was able to get most of the garden planted, and about half of the exterior windows cleaned. More shifts at the restaurant means the beach season is about to get rolling full steam, so I’ll take the hours now so I can write later.
Scold of Jays has been on the market for a month. It was a sneaky release so I didn’t expect much notice. A couple of reviews have come in, but I’m not stressing too much about the low visibility. I’m already planning my winter of writing Plague of Gargoyles.
On an amazing note, my childhood friend, Rob, was inspired by Xabien’s melee and skinning blade, which he then made in real life. Rob’s a brilliant weapon maker and sculptor, and does an assortment of ulus. When he sent me Xabien’s ulu, I opened the box and just stared. This is such a spectacular work of art and craftsmanship that I couldn’t even find words. He just nailed the dragon Ryder King in all his weaponry glory.
I’ll be putting together a photo shoot as soon as I have the chance. More to come with pictures and props. In the meantime, you can see more of Rob’s work here, or visit his site. Yes, he does commissions!
I put my creative boosting sessions on hold this summer while the busy season at the restaurant is going. I hope this will also give me the chance to set up my website registration option for the autumn classes.
The autumn creative session will hopefully have a creativity workbook for students as well. The concepts I’ve been working on in writing my Innovation and Creativity manuscript will be tested on my workshops. So, I need the extra time to hopefully get that workbook laid out and ready for print. If I can’t make it in time for the autumn class, then definitely by winter class.
Stay tuned, new creative workshops are in the September 2019 queue.
The bees are installed and doing well. I’m still feeding them, and have put off cutting my grass and weeds just to have extra flowers available until the apples and blackberries come into full bloom. I’m going for the Wabi-Sabi look in the yard at the moment, which is to say it appears my cottage might be abandoned. Not the case, I assure. Just saving the dandelions and ground cover as long as possible for the bees to have a good head start this year.
Speaking of apple blooms, the trees are definitely beginning their bloom. I’ve been in this house for three springs, and the owner told me he’d planted the apple trees near the road ten years prior. The gala apple had two apples last year, and I never saw it blossom, though it had to have at least two blossoms last year—the tree has not “bloomed” since I’ve been here.
I’d tried fertilizer granules, then spikes, then pruning, and nothing would make the tree go into full bloom. So last summer I placed the chicken run beside the tree in hopes that they would fertilize all through the winter.
The gala apple in in full, massive bloom this year. I had no idea it could bloom so much! It’s beautiful. Even the small apple, the one that tilts, is putting out blooms and opening up. Finally, some food for the bees, and a chance at some apples this year.
I planted some flowers, an herb garden and some veggies. The rhubarb is bigger than my head and ready for early harvest. I just need some strawberries and I’ll have the makings of strawberry rhubarb crisp.
The chickens are thriving. They’re laying three to five eggs a day, and their addition to the garden beds over wintering has allowed for the rich beautiful color of the new shoots and the lush raspberry canes. The roses love it as well. In short, we’re off to a promising start.
All these little bits of mundane life are part of the long-term goal of being sustainable and creative. So, they may seem tedious and boring to many—it’s a huge part of drawing the web tighter to a center that will allow me greater creative freedom and output.
Also, who doesn’t love fresh honey and eggs? And a basket of fresh picked apples and a vase of garden roses?
There are many days when I think, “This was not the plan…” By now I was supposed to be traveling the world, writing at Parisian cafés and having whirlwind romances with beautiful, literate men, and walking through exotic cities, and taking pictures of all the fabulous architecture… not shoveling chicken manure into lopsided garden beds I built myself, and setting mouse traps by the feed bins, then going to work as a waitress.
Then I sit at my writing desk staring out over the creek and into the woods, I smile because I realize, “This is much better than my original plan….” I shrug. “I’ll get to all that other stuff eventually, for now I just want to write, and write, and write. Everything else doesn’t even matter anymore.”
Bliss is a funny thing. It rarely shows up in the packages you expect, and often in the packages you have intentionally avoided.