Sometimes I get distracted and I don’t even think about having a blog. (Am I the only person who reacts to that word with revulsion — “blog”? It looks like an Orc name and sounds like someone emptying their guts into an echo-y metal waste basket. It is possibly the ugliest word in the English language.)
Anyway, the question of Muses came up, and although I don’t consider myself beholden to a spirit beyond the vagaries of chance to motivate me to create in any medium, I’ve always had this awareness that the center of my core just enjoys creating things. But because I like to answer when someone asks, I looked around at some of the stuff I’ve collected during my lifetime — and enjoyed enough to display — to see if I could find that answer.
It came down to my Looney Tunes Marvins or my Lego Fawkes the Phoenix (whose wings are geared to rise and lower by crank in an amazingly realistic imitation of bird flight. Honestly, it is sooooo cool! Plus, his head, neck, wingtips, and tail can be posed to add a sense of his emotions.)
The Choose-A-Mood Marvins won this time, mainly because Fawkes the Phoenix leaves me awed by the engineering involved, and the Marvins tickle my fancy and make me laugh. Maybe when I get serious about reaching for something I fear is unattainable, I’ll turn to Fawkes. But until then — as GD Deckard has pointed out, there is to be
This is a wonderful opportunity to help trauma survivors get their stories and work out to a wider audience.
For those who don’t know,Katie Koestnerwas on the cover of TIME Magazine at the age of 18 as the first person to speak out nationally and publicly as the victim of “date” rape. She is now the Producer and Host of the Dear Katie: Survivor Stories podcast.
My function is two fold. One, to find any creatives (not just authors) whose work deals with trauma and healing, and engage them in podcast conversations regarding their work and their lives post trauma. Two, to help find trauma survivors who’ll share their stories for the mainDear Katiepodcast, review episodes before they go to air, edit, and make suggestions as necessary.
Please leave a comment if you or someone you know has written a fiction or non-fiction…
Consciously, I had nothing to add when I posted a photo recently. But the pot always simmers. I brooded on the word “victory” in a comment by Sue Ranscht. I recalled the epic journey across northern Norway in World War 2 by Jan Baalsrud, the sole survivor of a commando force betrayed by a Nazi collaborator. I seized another day of magical light and found there was more to show and to say.
Benjamin Gorman, Co-Publisher of Not a Pipe Publishing, high school teacher, and best selling Amazon author invited me to share some advice. It’s the most convincing explanation I’ve ever read about why and how writers should use social media.
This is the first of his eight insightful points. I hope you’ll read the rest here.
“1. Your website is passive.
Back when I was making the switch from a guy with one book and a logo to co-publisher, I knew I needed a slick website, so I went to a friend who was a pro to get his help. He taught me one of the most important distinctions that’s served me well in all my investments of time online. “Your website is passive,” he told me. “No one will know what’s there until you direct them to it.” Before I understood this, I’d visited the websites of some of my favorite authors, people who are pulling in significant annual incomes from their writing, people who could afford to have really fancy, expensive-looking sites, and, with a few exceptions, I found that their sites were pretty blah, and some were downright cheap looking. Foolish me, I thought, “Ha! I will have this competitive advantage by having a fancy, expensive site! I’m so much smarter than these incredibly successful authors!” Nope. Turns out they’re successful because they’re a lot smarter. They knew (or hired smart people who knew) that the website doesn’t make much of a difference. You should have one. It can be a free one. It’s basically a business card with links to your books, your bio, and a place to announce events. And even then, no one will know about the events you identify there unless you tell them elsewhere, because your website is passive. There are authors who develop a following with blogs, but the website is just a repository for that content. The audience is drawn to it because those authors go to social media to let folx know when they’ve added a post. Unless you are so successful people will search for your name, don’t sweat the website. And if you are so successful people are searching for your name, don’t sweat the website.”
My next book is finally announced! A Few Beautiful Minutes, a lyrical picture book exploring the science and wonder of solar eclipses, will be published by Little, Brown in Fall 2023.
I’ve been enamored with solar eclipses since I saw the 2017 eclipse, and I’m thrilled this book will be out ahead of the next North American total solar eclipse. Getting a book published by Little, Brown is a dream come true, and Khoa Le’s illustrations are brilliant and moving. I can’t wait to see what she creates!
I’m incredibly grateful to my agent, Leslie Zampetti, who has believed in this book from the start and has helped make it what it is, and to Hallie Tibbetts and Deirdre Jones at Little, Brown Young Readers for bringing to life. And many thanks to my critique partners whose fingerprints are all over this book and the rest of my work.
Something’s happening over at Writers Co-op. The latest writing prompt, Catharsis, attracted some powerful pieces of writing. Maybe you’ll write something for the next prompt: Devolving.
I’d like to share the short piece I wrote for Catharsis with you. Judge for yourself whether or not it’s one of the powerful ones, but please take a look at the others, too. They’re all worth your time. And maybe let me know what you think of mine.
by S.T. Ranscht
The second child wasn’t like the other four. Or like any of the other kids any of them knew. Sure, she had two of everything she was supposed to have two of, and one of everything else like most of the other kids, but her mind didn’t work the same way the minds of everyone who knew her worked. Except for her dad’s. More analytical. More precise. More inquisitive.
But even the two of them perceived life, its puzzles and problems, its values and goals, as propositions so different from one another that their perceptions might have been those of species as alien to each other as if one were carbon based and the other were based on silicon. Or antimatter. His admitted only empirical, rational, fact-based evidence as valid foundations for any answer, argument, or choice. Hers appreciated those aspects of reality, but also embraced the intuitive, feeling, and sense of justice and interconnectedness of all things that painted the biggest Big Picture possible in the vastness of the Universes.
But because he was older and more experienced, he made sure she knew there was something fundamentally wrong with her perception. Her understanding. Her questions. Her conclusions. Her choices. Her self.
And because she was younger and knew so little, she believed him even when a tiny, muffled voice in her head, incapable of screaming, muttered, “He’s wrong. Isn’t he?”
She stopped sharing her thoughts with him.
It was her shamefully, never-to-be realized potential, he said, that convinced the educational testing system she should skip a grade and spend the rest of her school career competing with students older than she was.
Was it any wonder, then, that in a house full of family, in a world full of people, she always felt alone? Unseen. Unheard. Unappreciated. Just like her dad.
Till one budding Spring day, sitting in Trig, as Mrs. Jordan — with a run in her nylons that one of the other girls referred to as “the run in her leg” — worked at the chalkboard to explain logarithms to her classroom of 11th grade advanced mathematicians, something inexplicable happened and everything changed.
She was fifteen and as pure as they say driven snow is. She was healthy and had eaten a nutritious breakfast. Sunshine poured in the windows. But the walls fell away and she was instantaneously surrounded by black sky and stars — with an electric blue e-curve floating in space like an out-of-body umbilical cord, and the unshakable certainty that humans did not invent math, but merely discovered it, and a sense of presence that imbued her with the knowledge that she knew what it was most people think of as God.
When the classroom fogged back into being, she couldn’t tell how long she’d been gone. Leaving the room at the end of class, she felt as though she were gliding six inches above the floor. She told only her best friend about what had happened, and she gasped, “You just experienced cosmic consciousness!”
Whatever it was, it purged her of self doubt. She kept asking questions and seeking answers for the rest of her life. Self-contained. Confident. Fearless.