Friday, June 30, 2006


Okay there are eight days left before the big book launch party for THE BEAST OF NOOR at Parkplace Books in Kirkland, Sat 8th 7pm and what am I doing? Revising the sequel of course! Writers write right? But I know I have to get cracking (as my editor in the UK says). Of course I've already collected cool magical objects to fill the Falconer's trunk (glisten powder, magical tinctures, the Shriker's fang), and I have fun gifts for everyone (all readers are welcome to come so I won't tell what gifts are) .

We've done the Costco trip to check out food and drinks and I went nuts gathering fairyland party decorations.

What's next? Time to panic! Is my reading ready? How many plastic forks again? What about punch? Wine? Music? Are the books here?

The job for today is WORRY. Write. Take a swim. Write some more. Oh, and blog.

Until the next blog. Be well

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

LAST NIGHT AT P&G SPEAKEASY CAFE IN DUVALL Poet Margaret D. Smith read from her new book BARN SWALLOW (Brass Weight Press 2006) and sang us songs from her upcoming CD.

We were all hot and downing much lemonade or rubbing ice across our necks and foreheads but Margaret's surprising images, bright/dark words, and songs took us into gardens, beaches, on winter walks, down under ponds, into childhood, old age, and back again. Oh, and did I mention Ireland? Yes we went there too.

More poets read at the open mic. War and peace where words that ran deep. Poet Katherine Grace Bond was emcee -- she will be reading from her book CONSIDERING FLIGHT next month July 24 at the P&G Speakeasy. Who wants to go? I do! I do!

Here's a poem from BARN SWALLOW


This would sound more beautiful in Greek.
In Grandma's garden, a lemon tree
so heavy with fruit she would lead us
long times around the tree with buckets,
wrapping our hands around them, telling
us, Pull, letting them sleep in deep piles
in our laps. To our noses they grew so
holy, too bad we had to pull them down
for tea and lemon pie.

Our fingers dug through ivy and surprised
a nest of mice babies, climbing blind,
squeaking for mice milk with no mother,
no father anywhere. We shouted to Grandpa,
Come look! We never saw any babies
more pink we wanted to hug before.
And do you know what he did? He scooped
them up and dumped them all
in the incinerator behind the garage.

I know what we wanted to do, shut our ears,
run downhill screaming at Grandpa, but
it was too sad. We didn't move by
the new grave, just sat. Mignon
and Celeste came up to us wagging
their tails with puff balls, puff hairdos,
puff shoulders and eyes with sad water,
sat down in our laps, letting us rub
their ears as long as we wanted.

Margaret D. Smith is author of six books.
Barn Swallow(Brass Weight Press, 2006) A Holy Struggle (Shaw, 1992) and The Rose and
the Pearl (Inchbird, 1998). Margaret also speaks internationally on the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins.

May poetry find you this week.
May the words surprise you and may your pen flow
in cool dark evening rivers.

Until the next blog. Be well.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Paul Klee said ~ Art does not reproduce the visible. Rather it makes visible ~

In order to make things visible we must turn away from the busy, visible world and move into the inner world. It's a paradox that we must close our eyes for a time in order to make something visible: that we must be silent for a time in order to let the story speak.

But there's power in paradox.

The inner storyteller is a strange illusive being that refuses to be captured or defined. In times of silence, the imagination, which links the conscious and unconscious mind, is given a voice. There is so much the unconscious mind has to say, if we practice the art of waiting, listening, allowing the words to rise up.

Art is less doing
More being

Until the next blog. Be well.

Friday, June 16, 2006

What did you do with the Fang?

I'm busily gathering odd things for THE BEAST OF NOOR book launch party. Wednesday I spent hours at Michael's picking out cool beach glass and lots of fun surprising things (I won't tell all here). I have Noor party favors to make and a Falconer's trunk to fill. I'll be describing some of the behind the scenes magic below, so stop reading if you think it might spoil the fun.

The Falconer's Quill:
During the writing session today, I paused to make a quill. Here's the trick I've come up with. You know those clear bic pens? Well pull the innards out so it's just the tip and tube. Next grab a good sized feather and jam that baby up inside the hollow rachis of the feather. Voila! Instant quill (sort of). Well it looks like a quill and it writes, so Hey :)

Next I tackled another object for the Falconer's trunk.
Down in the kitchen I took an old box filled with perfect little vials and poured out the ginseng (hey it was way past usable date! And I had a plan!) Next I stripped off the labels and boiled the little glass bottles to get the residue out. After a good washing and cleaning out with a pipe cleaner (pretty sticky stuff in there) I filled each vial with pure water and added droplets of food coloring. Ah -- blue, purple, orange, yellow, green. I now have the Falconer's tincture bottles. He gives Miles Orasian (orange healing tincture)when he's in need. So much fun to have these bottles to show. They are tucked into the Falconer's trunk now. My fingertips are purple-green. But there's more room in the trunk, and more fun to be had.

The Fang:
On the way to the movies the other night with friends Heidi and Katherine,
I was jammed into the teeny-tiny back seat of Katherine's truck. I leaned forward and said, "Hey Heidi have you found the giant fang?"
"Oh man! Where did you look?"
"I looked all through my stuff. I think we left it at your house. You were so nervous that it would get lost."
"What will I do if I can't find it?" I moaned. "I mean where can you get a giant fang?"
"What about a longhorn cow skull," suggested Heidi.
"Yea. I went into the Western Apparel shop and asked if I could buy the cow skull in the window a few months back. They said it was a window display. When I asked the guy where I could get a cow skull, he got a little nervous."
At this point Katherine said, "Fang??? Can you please enlighten me as to what in the heck you're talking about?"

So, okay I'm looking for a Shriker's fang for the Falconer's trunk -- it's about the size of a cow horn. Has anybody seen it? Or do you know where I can find one?

Until the next blog. Be well.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Do you want to visit a beautiful reading and writing blog? It's like taking a mini retreat. Check out:


Until the next blog. Be well


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Why Join a Critique Group?

Some writers feel that joining a critique group is too time consuming. Going to a critique group once a week or twice a month IS time consuming. It's also rewarding. I can't imagine facing the writing life alone with no one to commiserate with when I get rejections and (more importantly) no one to party with when I sell a book!

My critique group, The Diviners, really parties when one of us sells a story. Yeah!!! Peggy King Anderson usually writes a cheer (complete with pom poms)and we eat cake and drink bubbly and throw confetti!!!

Each week before we begin critiquing, we share writing news. A few weeks ago Justina Chen Headley shared about her amazing Hi-YAH! Book Tour with
Janet Wong and Grace Lin. They toured across the U.S. with countless print, radio and TV interviews, school visit (how about Harvard and Stanford!) She came home tired and happy.
For more on Tina's tour

The rest of us shared about classes we're teaching, editing jobs, revisions for editors, etc. Judy Bodmer, Peggy King Anderson, and Katherine Bond usually have stories and articles in magazines to show us -- Hooray! Then it's down to business.

With seven members and most of us including Dawn Knight and Holly Cupala reading from novels, we have to divide up the time. The session is about good, hard, critique -- with a touch of kindness. Even when I'm on a strict deadline, I try to go and read (I know it saves my editors hours of grief).

So if you're writing alone, find a critique group that nourishes your creative spirit, feeds your writing, and forces you to grow.

Until the next blog. Be well.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Held in the clutch of a Dragon!

I just sent my second revision of DRAGON'S KEEP back to my editor at Harcourt. This was an amazing process as I only had 10 days to work on it. I was in the Dragon's clutches from 5 to 9 hours per day.

I'm reeling. I'm also elated that I made it through. The cuts and changes were challenging but Kathy Dawson's editorial eye has made the story leaner and more elegant. It's now a svelte 277 pages. The first drafts (a long while before Kathy Dawson ever saw it) had the story close to 500 pages. Oh my!

Time for me to go celebrate!

Until the next blog. Stay well.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

It's Time to Party!!

Busy days just now revising THE ANCIENTS Book Two of the Noor Chronicles for Atheneum Books and DRAGON'S KEEP for Harcourt, but it's also getting close to the book launch party for my first fantasy novel THE BEAST OF NOOR! I'm planning a great party July 8th, 7pm at Parkplace Books in Kirkland WA. All you faithful blog readers within the Seattle area are welcome to attend. If you'd like a formal evite, just send your email address to I'll send the evite your way.

Open as you have before
Let the traveler through the door
From this opening begin
The only way out
Is in

(opening spell from the Falconer's book. THE BEAST OF NOOR)