Year’s End

I always enjoy reading year’s-end posts from others. So I decided to put one together on the chance that others enjoy reading them, too! Without further ado, here are some of my favorite posts from this blog in 2012.

This post on rituals, from February, is still one of my favorites from the year. I like its quiet thoughtfulness.

My April post on destiny still resonates with me. I need the reminder, still, to not get bogged down in fatalistic negativity.

I wrote a tribute to Lloyd Alexander in May. It’s mostly quotes from his writings, so you know it’s good.

This post on why I write, done in July, is honestly probably one of my favorite things that I’ve ever written. Honest truth, and a reminder to myself to keep aiming high. The comments still uplift me every time I re-read them, too.

I had fun with using scrambled eggs as a metaphor for writing styles in August. Includes some highly amusing pictures of bread loaves that didn’t work.

This post on being French, from September, remains one of my most popular EVER.

I wrote a tribute to my grandmother on the one-year anniversary of her death in October. My hope is that it gives comfort to others who have lost beloveds to Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

In December, life got heavy. So I wrote about choosing joy, light, and love.

2012 was a good year for this family. It was a year of rest and healing (emotional and spiritual), a year of preparing for some big changes coming up in 2013. Carl has been accepted to his grad school of choice, which means that we will be moving sometime in the next six months, and starting a new adventure – taking the first steps on a new path that is still mostly in shadow. Exciting and nerve-wracking all at once.

As for me, I turned thirty, started taking ice dance lessons after twelve years off the ice, began homeschooling the kids, and published my first stories.

It was a good year.

2013 promises to be even better.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.  -J.R.R. Tolkien


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Holding it in My Hands

My posting schedule is all off these days. It’s not likely to get any better with the approaching holidays, either. Ah well, I just try to roll with it.

I’ve had far more frustrations with publishing If This Be Magic & The Traitor and the Spy (henceforth referred to as Magic & Traitor, because I’m too lazy to type out the whole thing every time) than I did with Justice’s Mask. Smashwords didn’t like some of my formatting, both for the cover and the interior. I was able to fix some, but not all, of the supposed problems, and decided the others weren’t worth fussing about.

The headaches with working through Createspace for print and Kindle were mostly due to me not having used it before (I didn’t bother with a print edition for JM), so I won’t mention them here. I worked through them, at any rate. The only current frustration is that the Kindle edition somehow keeps coming up as written by “E Bates” while the print is by “E L Bates” and I can’t put the “L” in the Kindle where it should be! And I’m guessing that’s the reason why they keep showing up as different publications, instead of two different editions of the same book.

I just keep reminding myself that this is one of the major reasons I wanted to try publishing short stories first – to get a feel for how all of this works, to figure out potential problems and address them now, so that when I publish my novel, it’ll go more smoothly.

So I’m trying to roll with all this, too.

And this happened yesterday, which made me tear up and forgive all the (literal and metaphorical) headaches.

A box was dropped off at my front door, and I opened it up to find these beauties inside.
I have been dreaming of holding my own book in my own hands since I was a little girl. And yesterday, it really happened. And it was just as magical as I’d always expected.
I’m even more excited to finish editing Magic & Mayhem now and move toward publishing that. Holding these slim copies of my own short stories bound and published makes me so, so excited to hold my own novel.
I have updated my “What Does She Write?” page with links to where you can purchase JM and Magic & Traitor, just so I don’t have to keep inundating you all with links to them in every post. After all, that’s kind of the point of a “What Does She Write” page to begin with, isn’t it?

Light and Love

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. -John 1:5, ESV

I will be angry without hatred.

I will weep without despair.

I will proclaim truth without being cowed by lies.

I will fight evil with love.

I will practice mercy instead of vengeance.

I will sing when I am afraid.

I will leave a legacy of beauty instead of misery.

I will seek justice for the oppressed.

I will be a voice for those who are overlooked.

I will be a light that the darkness cannot overcome.

My heart and my head are full right now. Too full for many words. I want to spit venom at those who seek to turn tragedy to further their own particular hobby-horse or agenda. I want to punch a society that allows children to be brutalized. I want to scream at a media that further victimizes these wounded innocents. I want to fall to my knees and weep in abject despair over the brokenness of this world.

But I will not do any of those things. Because we do not fight darkness, wickedness, and brokenness with darkness, wickedness, and brokenness. We fight darkness with light, wickedness with love, brokenness with healing.

And so I write these words to remind myself of the path I have chosen.

Love will overcome. Love has overcome. 2000 years ago, Love broke himself open and poured out hope and healing on this shattered world. It was no magic spell, it was the ultimate sacrifice. We might not see a world completely healed yet – in some ways, this world seems to be getting more broken every day. That doesn’t do away with our hope. Our faith that one day, all pain and hurt and sorrow will be washed away, this world made perfect and made new, and Love’s children safe in his arms at last.

Until that day comes, I will keep my feet on the path of Love.

I choose beauty. I choose hope. I choose faith.

I choose light.

And I choose Love.

New Book!

Just in time for the holidays!

My cover designer finished the cover for my short story collection (can I call it a collection if it’s just two stories? And if not, what SHOULD I be calling it? Seriously, this has been driving me nuts. A duology? But they aren’t connected to each other, just similarly-themed) a couple months sooner than I was expecting. The stories themselves have been ready to go for ages, so all I had to do was fix up a little bit of formatting, and voila! Just in time to add to your Christmas wish list:

If This Be Magic & The Traitor and the Spy, available now at Smashwords and Amazon, and soon to be available in print.
Here’s the blurb for If This Be Magic:
As if being the worst student at Miss Cranston’s Select Seminary for the Study of Sorcery weren’t bad enough, now sixteen-year-old Sophie Abbott suspects her uncle, the most respected magician in Boston, of secretly working for the Kaiser. The year is 1915, and though America isn’t in the war yet, Sophie can’t sit by and do nothing. Before long, she and Uncle Edward’s apprentice Owen are deep in danger and treachery, and Sophie’s unique ability to see magic as a spiderweb of spells might be the only thing that can save them. Time is running short and Owen’s life is in her hands. Every spell she has ever attempted has failed spectacularly – can Sophie trust her magic now?

And for The Traitor and the Spy:

Philomena Stirling-Vane is fourteen years old in Victorian England, and in the unhappy position of having accidentally inherited the family magic. Her father is outraged, and her mother nearly prostrate with grief over the unhappy prospect of a lady magician in the family. When Jonathan Kempson, Mr Stirling-Vane’s former apprentice, requires another magician’s assistance to track down a traitor to the Council of Magicians, Phil sees her chance. Disguised as her brother, she accompanies Mr Kempson to London, where they must overcome their mutual dislike and learn to work together to unweave the tapestry of deception laid around them.

I was immensely proud of Justice’s Mask, and still am, but these two are even closer to my heart. They are fantasy, for one, which is my first and best love. They also both have a great deal more humor than Justice’s Mask, and while the more serious tone fits JM, I really do prefer to keep a more light-hearted tone when I can.

They are also set in the same world, though different eras, as my forthcoming novel Magic & Mayhem (I am aiming for a summer publication – we’ll see). This is my first attempt at playing with different stories and different characters in the same fantasy world, and it’s been so much fun.

Also, the cover. Isn’t that just gorgeous? I am so in love with it. It was created by Kathryn Jonell, and I highly recommend her work for anyone looking for a cover designer.

I have two more short stories and a novella from my summertime non-novel writing. I’m not sure when or how I’ll publish those, but for right now, I am so, so pleased with the three I’ve already published.

I hope you all enjoy them as much as I do!

The Joy of the Library

Thank you all for your encouragement on my last post! I did get out my journal (and my fancy pens that I bought for art and then never used because I haven’t started the art book yet) the other day, but I haven’t written in it yet. Mainly because I started a new writing project (I am calling it Jane Austen meets Alias meets Diana Wynne Jones, which gives you a glimpse into how my brain works) and am having too much fun with that to try anything else.

Carl and the kids dropped me off at the library Friday late afternoon, and after wandering around for twenty minutes in a blissful daze about being able to pick out books without distraction, I meandered to the back, sat at a table, pulled out my laptop, and wrote.

Aside from the one tutor who breezed through the DESIGNATED QUIET AREA (seriously, there are signs!) talking at the top of his voice to his clearly not-hearing-impaired student, it was bliss. Forty minutes of quiet writing time, no one needing me, no guilt over the household chores staring at me, no need to hop right up and get supper started, nothing.

So I wrote, and I plotted, and I looked up the differences in address as regards a contessa vs a countess, and I wrote some more, and finally I got up with a happy sigh, checked my books out, went into the foyer, called Carl, and talked him through the last few steps of supper prep (basically: “Stir, turn the oven off, leave the dish covered.”). Then he and the littles came back for me, we went home, and ate the dinner that I’d started before I left and Carl finished. It was delicious, by the way. Lentils and rice!

We are definitely attempting to make this a weekly thing. Coffee shops are fun, but a quiet (or MOSTLY QUIET yes I’m talking to you obnoxious tutor who was supposed to be in the teen room anyway) library with all sorts of wonderful resources (not just the internet!) at my fingertips is far better for me. And it gets me out of the house, and even one hour of not having to be “mommy” is wonderful.

I love libraries, always have, ever since I was very young and enthralled by the one row of picture books at our local library (it was teensy-tiny, for a teensy-tiny town, but far better stocked than you might think). Library nights were the highlight of the week for our family for years: Dad would get home from work, we’d all pile in the car and drive to the library (the one night it was open late), browse for a while, check out an enormous stack of books apiece, stop at the gas station on the way home for soda (or Clearly Canadian – Mountain Blackberry was the BEST) and chocolate bars, then go home, Dad would make popcorn, and we’d all sit in the living room with our books and snacks, and read until bedtime.

The first thing I do in every new town we move to is find the local library. Sometimes the local library sucks and we have to go further afield to find the best one for us. We’ve been lucky these last two moves – we’ve ended up only five minutes away from a wonderful library each time.

The big excitement for Joy when she turned five was that she could finally get her own library card. Both the girls love going to the library, admittedly for the toys as well as the books, but also for the thrill of SO MANY books in one place, and all for the reading of anyone who wants. It really is a wonderful thing, when you think about it.

So it makes sense, for me, that the library would bring a sense of peace to my soul when I go there to write, that it would feel just right, comfortable and natural in a way that no other place can quite match. I’m already eagerly anticipating my next writing visit there.

Maybe this week I’ll get around to attempting some poetry.

Where is your favorite out-of-the-house place to write?

Joy signing her name for the library card

Enthralled in a book that she checked out all by her very own self!