Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring has Sprung and So Have I...

... or is that just the coffee?

I feel like I am on a roll right now.  This week I have started my next country, Hynovia, and its accompanying story.  Hynovia is in the south-east of Idhua and has close ties to Eonia, so there is already some information about it from the work I have done on its neighbor.  The story is just an idea right now, but I am going to explore someone turning down the “great opportunity.”  This came from musing on the way in which our culture has a narrative that if someone has a talent or opportunity that will make them rich, famous or powerful then it should be grabbed with both hands.  Likewise, the story more often told is the young person who wants to leave home and claim their gifts.  While I don’t have a problem with ambition or exploration, I want to acknowledge that there is also value in the person who decides that love of what they have is enough, that they don’t need to do great deeds or have great acclaim.

Besides the new country, I’ve been editing The Summer Valley, which I have decided is pretty good as it is and I just need to get over being neurotic about presenting it to a big launch party in June.  I am also pursuing an idea of asking some of the other guests at the launch party to perform music or poetry and so to make the evening a literary and musical celebration.  To this end I have begun to make arrangements with Dusty Stings to rent a harp for my friend E.  She can’t bring her harp up to Seattle with her, but she and I are both eager for her to play at the party.

I have also been thinking about decorations and the menu, which is a bit early I know, but this is a big one!  I am thinking of a five to seven course feast, leaning heavily on the fresh produce that will be coming into season in June: asparagus, peas, and strawberries.  This week I am going to make and freeze Meyer Lemon Curd so that I can make Meyer Lemon Cream Puffs as one of the desserts.

Besides all the excitement in writing and party planning, Norwescon is coming up next week.  I am going with artist Sara Twitty who will have a display in the art show – so if you’re going to be there, head to the Gallery sometime to check out her work!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Aricadan Launch Party

We had a lovely time last Sunday at the Aricedian Launch party.  The theme of the decorations was a still room – drawing on the story “Blackfoil” which was read following the dinner.  A few weeks ago I raided the P-patch were I have a garden and gathered a collection of herbs to hang against the wall: rosemary, thyme, mint, lemon balm, fever-few, parsley and red spray roses which I bought since there not blooming up here in the Pacific NW yet.  The day before I bought more roses and some ivory stock and made posies with all sorts of things from the P-patch and my neighborhood, including calendula, miniature daffodils, mustard and broccoli flowers, fava bean shoots, clover, mints and feverfew, fennel sprigs and a few things I wasn't sure what they were besides pretty!  I thought the overall effect was quite lovely and the guests agreed.

The guests were the usual suspects with a new addition: Baby Ellie!  Last launch party was the day before she was born – I think I wrote then that it was astonishing to see pictures of her at the hospital and to realize that she had been at the Tav’urisk party the night before still in utero.  She was a great guest for Ariceda – she even dressed up in her grandmother’s white linen baby dress for the occasion.

We had a rustic springtime menu that included pasties with herbs and mushrooms; greens, beets and peppered chevre; lettuce tansie; a salad of greens, radishes, cucumbers and herbs with violets and calendula petals; delicious Struen bread from Grateful Bread and Ladysmith cheese with chives from SamishBay Cheese; and a strawberry-rhubarb galette with honeyed cream – which was really delicious if I say so myself.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Finished Orin

I have finished both the entry and the rough draft of the short story for my next country: Orin.  The short story, titled “The Summer Valley” is being read by my kind and generous beta reader, M, whom I hope will not be quite as despairing about it as I have been feeling.  The reason I am being gloomy about it is that the launch party for Orin is set for June and it is going to be a big one.  My mom, my dear friend E, and my sister’s boyfriend are all going to be up from CA to see my sister graduate and will be here for the party.  In addition, when I sent out a “save this date” invitation I had a lot of positive responses, a number from people who will be coming for the first time.  So it’s not that I don’t like “The Summer Valley” but rather that I have been feeling that it should somehow be extra special for an extra big party with VIPs.

Orin is a country which spans a temperate and Mediterranean climate – in the north above the Idessa Mountains it is cooler and wetter, though it rarely snows, while in the south there are vineyards and orange and lemon orchards.  It was limping along a bit until I decided that they needed a legendary king to focus on with both their history and their legends and folk-lore.  I glanced over the Arthurian and Carolingian cycles, not only for inspiration, but also as an example of how such bodies of literature and legend work on a patriotic consciousness.

Here is the current map of Idhua: It is entirely coincidental that I have been working on the purple countries.  Apparently, I colored a number of the countries which were settled earliest (which is my criteria) purple without planning it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

First Days of Spring

Spring is coming
With little steps:
Forty-nine violets in a pot;
A patch of sun on a worn bedspread;
Green buds, tightly furled.
My thoughts are unfurling too:
Stretching into the sun;
Counting violets;
And sorting thought the archive of words
For seeds to plant
In the rich dark soil
Watered by a warming rain.

Friday, March 2, 2012


I opened the blinds to my balcony just now and started shrieking with joy - alarming S, I might add.  What was I shrieking?  "My violets are blooming, my violets are blooming!"  So much happiness in a pot of flowers.  Last year I had two bloom, but this year I got 48 - including the one I promptly ate.  Interesting fact about scented violets: they contain a compound called ionone which deadens the scent receptors of the nose temporarily.  So you're sniffing a lovely sweet violet, then suddenly you can't smell it anymore. . . then a few minutes later you can again.   Someday I am going to have a big herb and flower and vegetable garden with pink and gold cabbage roses, and dark scented alchemist roses, and violets everywhere!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Another Submission Ready!

At last I have another story ready for submitting!  Catkin is still making the rounds, but now The Amulet of Aranos is ready for its final formatting and then submission.  It is a bit longer – almost 10,000 words – which limits me somewhat to where I can submit it.  I am going to begin with Beneath Ceaseless Skies (which wants under 10,000 words, so The Amulet just qualifies) and move on from there.  I also received my workshop assignment for Norwescon the other day.  I am excited about that, both for the opportunity to participate and because when it is finished, I will be able to start submitting The Silvered Swords as well.  Some days everything seems to be dragging and then some days you suddenly realize there has been. . . progress!  (It could also be the latte I drank.  Sometimes caffeine feels like progress.)