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Pocket of Joy: Companionship in Solitary Work

Coffee shop ambience. Silent meditation circles. Sitting with a loved one in grief. Writing sprints. There is something soul-sustaining about being in the presence of others who exude love, focus, hope, creativity, inspiration, or any other energy that fills up our spirits while we journey alongside one another on solitary paths. Something about autumn pulls us inward, to reflect upon our own personal moods, dreams, and goals, but also together, as we long for cozy companionship. As more people finally receive Covid vaccinations and cases continue to decline after a nasty peak, book clubs are coming back together. Families are reuniting for long-delayed weddings and memorial services and looking forward to holiday celebrations. We are starting to grieve and to dream again, together. Personally, I am looking forward to having my daughter, the last little member of my family, vaccinated so that we can celebrate with a "vaccination celebration bucket list" our daughter started f

Blown Away on Publication Day

The responses to Leirah and the Wild Man 's publication have blown me away! I feel like one of Victorian illustrator Arthur Rackham's little fall fairies lifted on a happy gust of wind. I told my husband earlier this month that I wanted to release my first novel secretly, so nobody I knew would feel obligated to buy it and pretend to read it. Even worse, I didn't want my parents or coworkers to actually read my salacious book! I’ve tried for years to find a literary agent who might grant me access to the professional services and veneer of legitimacy that traditional publishing offers, so I would have the courage to put my weird and wild writing out there for readers who don't know me but happen to be looking for 11th century Byzantine thrillers. But I ran out of patience with the publishing industry's compounding scandals, dramas, changing rules, and vulnerability to volatile markets and supply chains. Years ago, finding an agent felt not only possible but inevitab

Pocket of Joy: Roasted Pumpkin Bowls

It's edible gourd season! Did you know that some of those cute little pumpkins that people stack in decorative heaps at this time of year are also delicious and stealthily nutritious vegetables? This fall, my family and friends have devoured over 25 of these tricky treats, which volunteered out of last year's decorative gourd compost! These are mini tiger stripe pumpkins, which have a mild and nutty flavor, pale greenish insides without that distinctive "pumpkin guts" smell, and a wealth of petite seeds delicate enough to roast without shelling and snack on like popcorn in front of a spooky Halloween movie. Pumpkin flesh and seeds are super snacks packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and they're so yummy and festive that my family gobbles them up like any comfort food. Mini tiger stripes are the perfect size to stuff with stew, breakfast sausage and eggs (pictured above), or a wholesome treat like apple pie filling (pictured below).     You can buy tiger str

LEIRAH AND THE WILD MAN: Available for Pre-Order Now!

I am thrilled to announce the surprise release of my first novel! Leirah and the Wild Man: A Tale of Obsession and Survival at the Edges of the Byzantine World is now available for pre-order. Leirah dreams of stealing a Viking longship, hunting pirates, and freeing the world's thralls. As if by magic, the dragon boat of her fantasies appears at her backwoods homestead, and a crew of seductive outlaws invites her to join them in terrorizing the rich with disguises based on the monsters of local folklore. But Leirah fears their secretive interest in her favorite brother Aven. She takes him and flees on an epic journey down the length of the Danube, from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, through the gates of Constantinople, and into the last stronghold of the Goths.   on sale October 23, 2021 (hardcover)   and   November 11, 2021 (ebook) Nook Kindle   I released this book softly, with no marketing or distribution arrangements made in advance, so you will not find it already

Releasing My Thirsty Darling

Good news! I have accepted the death of my most cherished lifelong career dream, and that means I am ready to release my debut novel exactly the way I want to: full of blood and other juices, rich historical detail about places you've never visited in another book, a large cast of complex characters entangled in complicated relationships, historical authenticity beefed up with a healthy disregard for biased conventions, and an all-absorbing plot that moves at its most effective pace. Leirah and the Wild Man glides forth destined for a fate of cult classic, not bestseller. Let's... push... things... forward. (Shout out to nostalgic muse Mike Skinner of The Streets and his legendarily underrated Original Pirate Material .) Here she comes, my thirsty darling, like the Lady of Shalott floating off to her glorious doom after a fever-hot vision of Lancelot torched her will to stay locked up and safe in her tower. She won't live happily ever after, but she'll look flawless a

Pocket of Joy: Catching More Grief with Sugar

A few days ago, I wrote about the irrational anger at death that I discovered lurking under my grief and fear . Then I saw this poem by Gabrielle Calvocoressi, and it broke my heart open in a different place. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Gabrielle Calvocoressi (@gabbat) It is said in pop psychology that sadness lies beneath anger, but in myself I find layers of both, one upon another over and over again, glued together with veins of sticky sweet frustrated longings and backed up affections and other feelings wedged here and there untidily, which cannot be easily peeled apart and healed. I suspect that most people are like me in that way, more or less, and so they have patterns of mixed up emotional tissues unlike mine, in other disordered arrangements. Last week I realized once again, as I must do from time to time, that I am a coddled pet of this world, with so many privileges that a sense of entitlement sneaks up on me whenever I forget how a