Thursday, December 1, 2016

Secret Tree Star

A glint of light caught my eyes one blustery afternoon, and I glanced up to find a golden tree star winking back at me!

The leaves hid the secret all spring and summer. Only autumn told the truth. We are full of secret stars, too, I think. Sometimes strong winds strip us down to the bare glint, and we must learn how to shine again.

This little plastic tree star reminded me of a favorite quote of my mom's: "If at night you cry for the sun, you will not see the stars." -Rabindranath Tagore.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Being American: from Mayflower to Me

I am a descendant of William Bradford, a man who fled religious persecution to become a passenger on a little immigrant ship called the Mayflower, and was eventually elected governor of Plymouth, Massachusetts. I am descended from pilgrims, pioneers, and countless strong women history has forgotten. My bloodline, and the sins and struggles and successes of my ancestors, runs deep in this land, and in me.

After the devastating election results stripped away my naive, white girl-glossed concept of a country moving towards Star Trek-esque unification and enlightenment, I realized that I needed to seriously examine what being an American meant to me. I believe that to become a truly worthy citizen, I need to much more actively nurture and defend the highest of American ideals in our nation--equality. Equality in human rights regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. In education. In wages. In safe water and living space. In dignity. There are so many areas in our society where the ideal of equality falls short to injustice again and again.

I have come to believe that injustices such as racism, xenophobia, prejudice, bigotry and fear of the other are not something we will ever truly kill in humanity. It is a Creature that we must face in the mirror every day because it lives in us. It is us.We must look the Creature in the eye and smudge it from the deepest corners of our heart by reaching outside of ourselves. 

Maybe you start by wearing a safety pin to declare your stance against all forms of bigotry and signify that you are a safe person to approach and ask for help. Maybe you move on to signing petitions and calling your political representatives to make your voice heard. Maybe you decide to get active in your local political organization before the 2018 midterm elections. Maybe you donate to the Center for Reproductive Rights,The International Refugee Assistance Project, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, The Trevor Project, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or the Natural Resources Defense Council (Thanks, John Oliver!). Maybe you get more involved in your local community by contributing to food banks, or donating time and talents to organizations that assist immigrants, the homeless, and other marginalized people in need of a helping hand.

Whatever you do, don't let your indignation at injustice fade to a comfortable complacency. That is my worst fear for myself; sliding back into the lazy indifference afforded people of that pasty pink complexion labeled "white."

So I just joined the Monarch Society, the brainchild of a friend of mine. It is slowly shaping into a great place where people can share both national and local information about volunteer opportunities, political calls to action, and also their efforts to serve their community. I started with an email to my political representative protesting Bannon's appointment. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how I am going to become more involved in my community just yet, but when I find my way, I will share everything I learn.

I've seen plenty of the Ugly American over this election cycle, and I don't believe there is any one true definition of the Ideal American. But I can try and be the Kind American to the vulnerable. I can be the Stubborn, Standing (even if it means I must stand alone) American when confronted by bigotry. Because I believe that the jewel of American ideals, equality, is not some twinkling far-off star tacked high in a gilded Trump Tower sky, but a promise meant to be grasped with two hands right here on Earth, right now.

Time to knuckle-down and get to work, folks.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A spot of bright

America has had a tough few days with many more ahead of her. So I thought I'd share a bit of nature's November beauty as a balm for wounded hearts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Heartstrikers trilogy! Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

I bought myself the most delicious, non-caloric treat: the ebook trilogy consisting of Nice Dragons Finish Last, One Good Dragon Deserves Another, and No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron. I finished off all three books in a week!

The Heartstriker series is set in a future where magic has returned to the earth after a meteor strike, and follows two principal characters: Julius, the youngest dragon in a family of violent, ambitious power hungry dragons who doesn't have an avaricious bone in his body. Disgusted by his gentle heart and utter lack of proper draconic behavior, his mother Bethesda seals him in human form and throws him into the DFZ (the Detroit Free Zone), telling him to Dragon Up or Die, basically. Too bad dragons are forbidden in the DFZ! But it is in this city that he meets Marci, a human mage who has a mysterious bond with Ghost, a spirit feline that isn't just a cat.

So what did I love best about this series? To start, the humor is hilarious! I especially loved the fact that Marci was no damsel in distress waiting to be rescued by Julius. Much of the series is devoted to her developing her powers as a mage and discovering more about her bond with Ghost. As for the other main character--oh Julius! He is stubbornly kind, non-violent and selfless even when his own life is at risk. And it is this very unique nature of his that starts to change the rule (and rules) of dragon society. The slow and sweetly awkward romance of Marci and Julius is also a pleasure to read . . . if you don't mind having your heart wrenched out now and then (no spoilers!). I don't think I've enjoyed a dragon story so much since Princess Cimorene and Kazul in The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede.

Very much looking forward to book 4!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Iffy Magic Book Launch & Trailer!

I've blown all my wish seeds and Iffy Magic is out in the world, at last! Thanks in no small part to the keen and creative editorial vision of Natalie Lakosil, the gorgeous illustrated and animated art by Audrey Bagley, and my ever supportive friends and family.

And now it is with great pleasure that I share Sealoch Studio's book trailer!

*Looking for the book? You can find it at these online retailers:

Purchase in print:

Purchase the ebook:

*(read the first 20% of the book free on Smashwords!)

Amazon international sites, including
 Amazon UK
Amazon Japan 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Iffy Magic Cover Reveal

Salutations, World!

I am very excited to bring Iffy Magic: Confessions of a Faux Fairy Godmother to life on August 9th, 2016. Starting with a sneak peek at the fabulous cover art by Audrey Bagley at Sealoch Studio

Everybody knows the Cinderella story, but no one knows the lie. There never was a fairy godmother, just Primrose Goodwing: a pixie whose magic always comes undone at midnight. Prim has just become the only Goodwing—ever—to fail her fairy godmother test. But she’s not ready to give up her wand yet. Trading her wings to smuggle herself into the Mortal Vale, Prim dreams of proving her worth by whipping up a happily-ever-after for a human venture in the quaint kingdom of Lindonberg. 

Too bad Ember, the headstrong girl she picks, has her own ideas about happy endings that don’t involve the traditional castle and crown. Worse, Prim finds her heart torn by the wily shape shifter Calico, a descendant of Puss n’ Boots who hides a dark secret behind his spite for humans. All Prim’s schemes unravel when she discovers that “perfect” little Lindonberg is entangled in a web of intrigue and spells that threatens to annihilate every kingdom in the Mortal Vale. 

Will her first fairy tale become her last? In a charming mix reminiscent of the beloved Ella Enchanted, S. E. Page’s Iffy Magic is the true tale of the pixie behind the girl with the glass slippers!

*Visit  for 12 days of sneak peeks into the story, including an animated book trailer, character interviews and a wanted poster for the renegade fairy Primrose Goodwing.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The 12 days of Iffy Magic

I am supremely excited to share a little secret I've been keeping for over a year now! But I will share it in pieces, over the 12 days of Iffy Magic . . .

Art by Audrey Bagley
The magic starts on July 27th at! Stay tuned for sneak peeks into the story, including an animated book trailer, character interviews and a wanted poster for the renegade fairy Primrose Goodwing.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Magic Places: Essence vs. Utter Reality

All our stories come from the earth. We nourish ourselves with the fantastic, find gods in a volcano's wrath and the turning of the seasons in pomegranate seeds. American poet Muriel Rukeyser said, "The universe is made of stories, not of atoms." An ancient prophet proclaimed, "In the beginning was the Word." Yet there is another truth, too; human imagination must first germinate in the mundane and wondrous materiality of existence before transcending the limits of the physical world.

This May, I was lucky enough to visit both Yellowstone and Iceland with family. Out of all the places that I visited in Yellowstone, my favorite was most certainly the Dragon's Mouth Spring, even though it wasn't as grand as Old Faithful in its towering glory . . .

Old Faithful

The Dragon's Mouth Spring

And yet, this humble spring, a mere grumbling hole in a hill, filled me with awe because someone, sometime, had imagined a dragon lived there, snuffling spiraling puffs of smoke, its growling roar sending scalding hot splashes of water from the cave.

And the dragon does live there. I heard, I saw, I, too, felt the dragon's breath the second I read the sign and adjusted the lens of my imagination to catch the spectacular truth. The story makes the atoms true, in essence if not utter reality.

Iceland also proved rich loam for my imagination, or in the following case, mineral-rich waters. This is a picture of the stunning opaline waste waters of the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik. You heard me right, these luminous blue waters are a by-product of a geothermal plant. The accidental lagoon was later converted into a spa that attracts tourists from all over the world.

The day my sister and I visited the Blue Lagoon was blustery and cold, but even so I felt I could gaze at the milky moon waters all day and never grow tired of the lapping brilliance.

The Dragon's Mouth Spring and the Blue Lagoon retaught me something: our world is filled with both big and little wonders waiting for someone to find their story. To read beauty into something as simply perfected as the fine serration of a rose leaf, or a dandelion's stubborn roots.

I just hope I pay attention!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Prairie Dog Days

I thought about writing something erudite for the month of May, but I'm exhausted from way too many projects and, you know what? Prairie dogs! Because everyone needs more cute critters in their news feed. The cutest colony of squeakers ever live at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Go ahead and bask.

Eenie, Meenie, Miny and Moe!

Most Adorable Flopling Award
Cuteling Couple

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Lilliput by Sam Gayton

Sam Gayton’s novel Lilliputinspired by Jonathan Swift's Gulliver’s Travels, tells the story of Lily: a three inch girl fighting to escape from a birdcage in the human world of 18th century London and return to her own faraway home of Lilliput. All her misfortunes begin with Gulliver, who is now an embittered old man tired of being ridiculed for his outlandish stories. Desperate to prove he is not a crazy liar, Gulliver kidnaps Lily with the intent to show her to the world once he has finished his grand manuscript about his journeys. Despite her tiny height, Lily constantly tries to escape as she knows her time is running out as Lilliputians count their lives by moons, not years. She is soon aided in her escape by the orphan Finn, an apprentice of the cruel clockmaker Mr. Plinker. Lily frees Finn from a perfidious wrist watch that counts wasted seconds instead of time and constricts ever tighter if he is not continuously working. But even free they must find a way to outwit Gulliver and Mr. Plinker together, or fall captive again forever. I loved the ending of the story because it was true to the price and bravery of growing up; sometimes, even best friends must say goodbye and trust their hearts are shared across the miles.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell

With fairy tales it’s sometimes easy to gloss over the horror and consequences of selfish human actions with a bit of magic and a happy ending. Not so in Merrie Haskell’s story, The Castle Behind Thorns. When the young boy Sand mysteriously wakes up in a ruined castle surrounded by vicious thorns, he can only survive by mending what is broken. For everything from blades of straw, buckets, anvils, coins and even the holy relic of a saint’s heart is split in two, as if by a curse. 

*Warning: next paragraph contains spoilers.

But shortly after he returns the dead body of a young girl to her tomb, Perrotte awakens to life once more with a terrible memory; her own murder several decades ago at the hand of her stepmother—and Sand’s father. Their budding friendship and desire to escape the thorny prison confining them to the castle is overshadowed by Perrotte’s desire for revenge on her stepmother, and the secret she is keeping from Sand about his father’s sin. But as the thorny barrier slowly shrinks and the miracle of Perrote’s return from the dead spreads, armies mass for lost gold and the families of both children confront them at the castle. Sand and Perrotte must decide which path to follow: the thorny road of vengeance and hate, or forgiveness and new life. This Sleeping Beauty tale is full of darkest human fears—and hope, utterly lost, then made flesh again in bone and blood. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Blizzard of Books

I don't need to close my eyes to remember the storm before my twelfth Christmas. I can still see, even now, the crush of snowflakes against the windshield, blinding in their white ferocity, and feel the slow creep of our car as a sudden blizzard ground all traffic to a crawl. My parents took the first exit off the highway and pulled into the parking lot of a Barnes and Nobles store. And the rest, as they say, is history . . .

We dawdled in the store for almost an hour as we waited for the storm to die down, perusing seemingly endless aisles and displays of scrumptious stories. My parents ended up buying The Green Sky trilogy by Zilpha Keatley Snyder and The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander as Christmas gifts for my sisters and I. These two writers exploded my imagination with their tales filled with heroes who stumbled and failed and were scared but still tried. Still cared, even when it broke their heart. They taught me how to be a better human in my world. And for that, I am forever grateful. 

I hope someday I can write a story with beating ink as strong as Taran Wanderer and Eilonwy's stubborn resolve, and as kind as Raamo's heart. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sun Bow

My windows are frozen shut, but I will outlast this North Dakota winter yet! Of course, it helps when a lovely sun bow greets me outside. I will wait for spring...

Friday, February 12, 2016

Magnifical vs. Cool Beans

Want to express appropriate awe without resorting to "Sick!" or "Nasty" (both formerly primarily negative terms whose definitions have undergone a most peculiar process of amelioration)?

Ditch the "cool beans" and try "magnifical" on the tongue for taste!

A variation of magnific, this word is a delightfully archaic adjective best employed when one wishes to say that something is "magnificent" or "imposing." It can also be used to imply a sense of grandiose pomposity.

Try inserting magnifical into random conversations without seeming, well, a trifle magnifical!

Have you seen the new Star Wars movie?

Yeah. Magnifical, man! 

Ugh . . . maybe I should start with a more visual approach:

Flying over Fargo between two cloud layers? Magnifical. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

This is why I live where the air hurts my face

Gorgeous winterscapes!

A daydreamer's bridge

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ghosting vs. Fleshing Out Characters

Many Sundays, she played a Chant CD to wake my sisters and I up and get her rowdy little daughters in a reverent mood to attend church. She loved all kinds of music, from Enya to Santana, the Monkeys to Natalie Merchant, Vivaldi to Vangelis. But my mother is fading now; her voice distorts in my memory, the echoes becoming ever more indistinct since her passing in 2008. Yet, even as I continue her inexorable loss inside myself, I also find her, the very best parts of her, living and breathing along side me. In the songs she shared with me, in the books where Taran Wanderer stands strong and stubborn against the gathering dark, in my awe for the bright black of the universe nurtured during many nights of watching NOVA together. I have come to the conclusion that a body, and a body of work (loves, sorrows, kindnesses, laughs and undone wishes) are two very different things to leave behind. One decays while the other flourishes still . . . just in me. Now it is my turn to play Chant on Sundays.

As I have mulled over what treasures my mother left behind in her leaving, I have also thought about what my characters would leave behind for others to miss and appreciate if their chapter space ran out. Too often, I concentrate on visualizing and fleshing out my characters. But ghosting them can be just as fruitful. For example, if Cinderella died, what would Prince Charming miss most keenly? Her exquisitely small feet? Hardly! Perhaps he would feel her presence most strongly in a little garden space that she had made her own by dirtying her royal princess nails with rich dark loam just because she loved earth and worms and air that smelled like petrichor after rain. So go on and ghost your character:

What aspects of personality and physicality would others miss about them most?
What failing or unfinished goal of your dead character would still anger/exasperate/bemuse others?

What body of materials will they leave behind for others, what trash and treasures?

There are so many ways to find someone who isn't coming back. My mother is gone, I know that . . . but I also know when she is with me.