Hands Off!


Are you pissed? Because I’m pissed. So I made this. Click the picture or the FREEBIES tab above to find a free download of this image.

I have a lot of friends and family who are on the more conservative end of the spectrum than I am. We get along because we choose to seek out and celebrate the things we have in common, rather than focusing on our many differences.

This past week we had found unfortunate common ground when a public figure bragged about committing sexual assault. It’s dismaying to realize how many of us have had to deal with this kind of attack, and how little we’ve been able to do about it in so many cases.

When I get upset, art gives me an outlet. Making this drawing helped me process my anger and frustration. I know not everyone is comfortable with their ability to get their feelings out on paper, so I made this drawing into a PDF for you or a friend to color. Just click on the FREEBIE tag above for more info, or click the picture at the top of this page. If you color it, I’d love to see your work! Feel free to tag me @moonsownsister on twitter or Instagram, and let me know if it’s okay for me to re-post your work!

I do ask that you not sell this work. If you repost, please mention my name and this website.

Fortune is Smiling



Actual Photograph of ISS, courtesy of NASA. One of my tattooed friends explained to me that marking yourself with something you believe in connects you to it. You know what I believe in? This thing. Not getting a tattoo, but if I were, this would be a candidate.

A conspiracy of happy turns of events!

Mumblety-mumblety years ago, I attended a dinner meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers with a guy I was dating. They served a dinner featuring lots of the newly trendy cracked pepper, which allowed me to discover my allergy to pepper. And also, sadly, made me have to step into the hallway and miss a good portion of the fascinating presentation on this thing they were seeking support for: a space station. To be built by, just imagine, international cooperation. I wished frantically for Gene Roddenberry to be sitting next to me so I could elbow him sharply. I made do with nudging my companion.

The hope of the thing! The audacity!

But we couldn’t be sure it would be built. The number of things which could go wrong, while not infinite, sure seemed like it. And Congress, unsurprisingly, was dragging its feet over funding the proposed U.S. portion. But still … that the thing could be imagined? Seriously considered among the scientific community, and at least discussed by world governments? Breathtaking.

Years later, I still have that guy sitting next to me for convenient nudging. (Reader, I married him.) And I still have the glossy 8 X 10 artwork NASA distributed to us: the artist’s conception of the structure, hanging against the blackness of space.


I am very fortunate to walk my wee dog almost daily with an amazing neighbor. She texted me yesterday to alert me to the International Space Station due to pass overhead close enough to see with the unassisted human eye. (The humor in this is that she did so at 6:45 a.m. The thing was due at 6:48. I was also fortunate in that I had, this time, closed my window curtains securely and so did not scandalize the neighborhood in my desperate flinging about of clothes and my sleep-draggled self.)

Good fortune indeed: the sky was clear enough in the necessary stretch so that we could see the ISS pass. Obliging clouds … we miss a great many astronomical events due to the South Florida weather.

And there it was. A marvel. A wonder. The product of so very many hours of human energy, ingenuity, labor, experiment, resources. And perhaps more astonishingly, cooperation of large groups of organized people. Good fortune smiling upon the enterprise? Or was it the power of belief? The commitment of so many to making an idealistic concept come into physical existence. How many times did that scientist stand in front of a small crowd, with his impassioned speech and his glossy prints? And he was one tiny fragment of the whole. How many more people dedicated their energy, the precious hours of their lives, into this dream? And look what they did. Humans. Tiny creatures on this speck of a planet, reaching out with our minds and our hands and saying yes.

Michelle and I craned our necks, saw the rising sun glinting off the solar arrays. We watched it until it faded into the clouds.

The sighting colored our walk with talk of technology, of the future, of things which were once wonders that are now every-day and taken for granted. Wouldn’t it be great if world cooperation to solving difficult problems were one of them?

I want to wave the International Space Station in front of people. People who have decided to care about things and processes that separate us from each other. “Look! Look what we can accomplish together!”



Tuesday: Tea and a Tome 9/13/16


In my studio today.

My happiest time is when I stand in front of a white empty board: the space is full of hope.

— Kinuko Craft

Too much wrestling with tech yesterday left me irritable. Today is a new beginning! So I had a lovely cup of chai tea with a friend to start my morning. Cinnamon and ginger, allspice and cloves, quiet conversation: all warming and life-enriching. These things will soothe.

As will a peek into the visually delicious Kinuko Craft: Drawings & Paintings. I purchased a copy in New York recently. You may not know Kinuko Craft’s name, but you might recognize her paintings: ethereal, yearning,  ambient pieces that cup narrative in an enchanted, wordless space.

If you know her work, then like me you probably saw her paintings first on a book cover. I looked into her art after discovering her wonderful illustration for The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip, and realized that many of these paintings were familiar to me. Generally, yes, via book covers. A good cover stands alone as a work of art, but also serves as a sort of gateway, inviting a reader to come step through into the story.

An ill-suited cover can suffocate a book, but the right cover can make it sing. Craft and McKillip are well suited. As are Craft and Ellen Kushner, at least in the case of the wonderful Thomas the Rhymer. I read this story in 1990, when it was a new version of an old wonderment, and have revisited it since. I loved the Thomas Canty cover back then, and thought it couldn’t have an equal, but the US and Kindle reissues are graced with a Kinuko Craft cover that will likely draw in a new generation of readers. (You can see more about it on Terri Windling’s wonderful blog post over at Myth and Moor.)

But back to the book at hand. This volume (available through her official gallery for $25 at the time of this post) is a lovely production. Gleaming gold ink, lavish borders, and vividly printed illustrations. Worth the space on your bookshelf.

Kinuko Craft’s words give insight into her process and motivation.

“The stories invite me into a world the author has created. I start living there and let my own dreams and imagination explore and guide me.”  — Kinuko Craft

The art, though, is the main reason for picking up the book. Line drawings let us see pieces of the creation of the finished works. She has a very great technical skill in art, but as with the best writers, she transcends technique and takes us into worlds of her own creation. Dense, layered, rich with detail and color. Her paintings are so narrative, they don’t have subjects: they have protagonists.

Once a painting is finished I never look back. The journey is done, and I go on to the next adventure. — Kinuko Craft

Visit Kinuko Craft’s official website for more wonderment!

Future Home of Epic Hat Battles


Tower of Geek at SuperCon in Miami. See if you can spot the Truly Impressive Hat.

If you saw my post on visiting Supercon in Miami, you might remember how much I liked the WordFire Press extravaganza, the Tower of Geek. Writers smiling, interacting one-on-one with fans. Happy volunteers helping people find their next great read. Where I had my awesome (if one-sided) hat battle (which I lost) and met some very cool people.

It reminded me of my old bookstore days. I didn’t have to look very far to find interesting people with sparkling minds back then … they just came walking into the shop. And then I got to talk to them about some of my favorite things: reading, and books, and art Star Trek and gaming and oh by the way if you like that have you seen this author. I didn’t make a lot of money, compared to some in other fields, but the quality of my hours was matchless.

The Tower of Geek is the kind of thing that makes you want to be part of it, whether you’re buying books — which I did — or being part of the crew. And I told Bertie.

And Bertie did what Bertie does, and wrote Kevin Anderson an e-mail. And sent him a book. And told him about the other we were working on.

And Kevin Anderson said yes.

So Albatross has been revised, the better to have a companion volume, and will be coming out in print and a new e-book, likely within the year. And Book Two, for now called Shimmer, is ready to be looked at by a pro Editor as well. And Bertie and I have signed both contracts with WordFire Press.

And I have purchased a new hat.

To celebrate.

Prepare for Epic Hat Battle, part Two!


Status Report Post-Launch

Q: How are you doing since your son has left for college?

A: I made my way onto a High Score chart at the SilverBall Museum in Delray Beach, Florida, today. Woot! *PINBALL, ya’ll!*


Not sure why pinball scores are gendered, but that’s a discussion for another time. I’m “Female” high score.

They have good fries there, too. Bonus: there’s a Pokestop there, so I made it to Level 18 in Pokémon Go. And I drew one of their light fixtures in my sketchbook. This all suggests I’m doing pretty well, thanks for asking!

However, a closer look will reveal that yes, I was awake at 3 a.m. and approving final edits for a short story for magazine publication. (Yes, I did spend about ten minutes debating with myself about the inclusion of a comma or the word “and,” or refusing to accept the addition of either because I meant a particular word to be an adverb, rather than a verb!) And now it’s 6:03 a.m. and I’m checking Hugo winners (Congratulations, folks! N.K. Jemisin, cracking me up! Maybe next time, Chuck Tingle!) and reading about convention drama and then dashing off a quick blog post. The hour discloses: SOMEBODY is not sleeping. Sherlock concludes: perhaps all is not at its most serene here.

I believe in greeting and making space for the Big Feelings. There are a lot of those here. I have many folks in my circle experiencing the same sorts of things. We all know that there are no shortcuts to accepting this new stage in our lives. So … yeah.

Meanwhile: I have exciting books to read, art to view, pinballs to flip, a hand to hold, dogs to walk, cats to serve. Life is pretty good.


Holding Patterns


Photo by Denise Thompson

We’re in a period of transition here. The Young Person of the house is heading out to university on Friday, and the nature of the place is shifting.

Our home has been both a school for Atticus, and a place of creative work for me. Along the way, we’ve hosted educational and creative gatherings, fostered injured and orphaned wildlife, and trained for competitive pinball. Nerf battles, Star Wars marathons, harp and guitar and bass and voice … these are the sounds of our home.

Prior to moving to our home, the longest I’d lived anywhere in my life was around two years. We’ve lived in this house for more than sixteen years. I know how to be here. I have ways of being in the space. But the place is about to get much emptier. Much quieter.

I’m moving through my days, even before Atticus leaves, and finding myself tripping over the old patterns that just aren’t working any more. It’s tough to know what to hold on to. What to let go.

I’m considering an off-site studio space. Someplace that won’t echo with absence.

I’m looking for a space to help shape my days.

Meanwhile, I am sleepless. Which is why I’m writing a blog post at 4 a.m. (Hi! Are you awake, too?) The cats are very happy at my early rising. The dog, not so much.

My thoughts circle like planes waiting to land. I have stories to write, stories to paint, energy that needs direction. I’m just not able to ground them yet.

I understand from my friends that I’m not alone in my slightly-befuddled condition. There are many of us parents and care-givers finding new ways to be as our young people make their own transitions. Here we are, in our holding patterns. Luck to us all, good flights, safe landings.




Into the City



It’s more than a city. In many ways, it’s The City, at least in this time and place. It’s spun up in so many stories that it’s difficult to know where the legend ends, and the mundane world begins. That’s a thin barrier between. And certain things have been leading me to think that perhaps there is no barrier at all, there, between what is, and what people have seen or said to be true about the place.


I had so many impressions of The City before I got there. It was in the O. Henry , the All-of-a-Kind Family, countless books I read as a child; it was the magical world of Auntie Mame, and so many old movies that the black, white, gray, and sepia of the concrete seem inevitable; the explosion of neon signage from a bodega is startling as a tiger.


Except for Times Square, home of color and lights and people, the 24-hour parade of glare and sweat, slow walkers and fast talkers. The streets are choked with people, oversized buses, construction equipment, yellow cabs, and the black SUVs and towncars that are the upscale statement of those who want to be noticed not taking a yellow cab. This is the New York of TV and movies, the morning and late night shows. Loud and intense and glaring and purposeful and explosive as a pinball machine with the glass off.


You may have noticed the conspicuous absence of story and tea last week: I was learning to navigate New York City with my teen son, Atticus. I did some research, prowling about MOMA and the American Museum of Natural History. We took a ferry to see the Lady in the Harbor. I fell obsessively in love with an old train station, too. Fascination is wonderful food for an artist.

We were also experiencing tales of a different sort: we saw a flurry of shows in the theater district. HAMILTON on Broadway! Astonishing thing.  It exceeded our expectations. Yes, even despite the hype. Really a remarkable piece of work, with important things to say about our country and government and those folks involved in the founding.  Things about pride, and determination, and love, and loss. Things about being human.

Our New York minute: we saw Neil Gaiman walking past; he was attending the same Hamilton performance. We refrained from saying hi, because we didn’t want to get the man mobbed. He’s got a BABY at home … if he’s getting a creative night out, good for him! It’s okay, life is big, and @neilhimself will get another chance to meet us sometime.

A friend laughingly commented on my “brush with fame.” My husband said, “Not really, Nancy gets to see Atticus nearly every day!” This is true. Although not for long, as he prepares to leave for college and his own adventures. The City was our last grand exploration together before he departs. And my life will be changing, hugely, also. So we took in The City, as much as we could. And it’s possible, perhaps inevitable, that standing on that threshold together defined our experience of New York.


Obligatory “what else we did,” to remind myself as much as anything:

We saw four other plays, each a living breathing piece of art. They resonated with us for different reasons; we saw our lives on the stage. Theater is a magic mirror that way.


We visited the East Side with friends and experienced a nosh fest and incredible banana pudding. We practiced transport via subway and train: relatively simple if you’ve done it even once, weirdly complex if the system is new to you. Wandered through graveyards, churches, memorials. Looked at the trees and fountains and memories where the World Trade Center buildings used to stand.

We had fantastic crepes, and really good pizza. We walked until my tendons felt like iron bars. Explored the world of the Stage Door, and met Interesting People from places near and far. New York City has a plethora of bookstores, and art supplies can be found where you least expect them. So I suppose it’s no surprise to find theater and art and music and books in evidence throughout the city, as part of the everyday lives of people participating in the experience. Powerful stuff, and had this blog post not already run so long, I’d be talking about the importance of cross-pollination in creative work. Maybe we’ll do that next time.


Suffice it to say that I’m back: worn, as you’d expect from seeing a legend in the flesh. Disillusioned and re-enchanted. Full of renewed purpose. Creativity crackling from the ends of my fingertips.  And I have a very different sense now of this city that makes up so much of the landscape of American art and letters and film and drama. The City. It feels real. It feels, in some small part, mine. And I suppose mine is now yet another story of The City. It’s built of them, after all.



That Telling Voice


From my 2015 bedside sketchbook. Not a Pokémon, but I did catch this fox. Easier to make these little scribbley notes if your tools are handy!

Tired today. I was up too late last night.

I had a perfectly reasonable-for-me bedtime chosen, and the cats and dog and family even cooperated. But as my head hit the pillow, I heard that voice.

Do you write? Or draw? Or do anything creative? If so, then you know that voice. Or, if not the specific voice, then something from its family.

That voice that tells you Something Important that you needed to know about your story, or describes that line or stroke of color you need for that visual art, or hums out that accompaniment you’ve been looking for in the bass line. THAT voice.

In my case, last night I was visited by a character (notably NOT from the book I’m currently revising, which I suspect is a very good thing, because it’s nearly done and I couldn’t handle that kind of major upheaval in it) giving me the details of her death. I had known that she was going to die. I had thought it would be sudden, and offstage. Between stories, even. I had never intended to show her passing, just her companion showing up living the aftermath, later.

I should have known better. Best laid plans of mice and writers, and all that.

This character and her partner were both meant to be very secondary persons in a large story arc I’m working on, and they showed up and demanded their own story — actually, their own STRING of stories — be told. This woman’s very strong-willed. So I have a history with her. I should have expected her to show up, but I didn’t, and this is why I had to scramble out of bed and out into the living room so I could let her dictate the means of her passing, and her instructions for after. I am a reasonable touch-typist, so I didn’t even put my glasses back on. Just fired up the laptop and wrote what she told me, saved the document, and went back to bed when she finally said I could.

Three lessons here:

1) make sure you’ve got something to write (or draw or make musical notation or whatever your flavor) with at all times, because the real characters inhabiting your world will stop by unannounced. Don’t trust yourself to remember it in the morning, because there’s no promise this person will show up and repeat themselves.

2) be kind to the writers and other creative people in your life. You don’t know who’s been riding them. In the non-demonic-but-still-a-kind-of-possession way.

3) creative people, keep your friendships with other creative people. Because they’re the ones who go, “Uh-huh, uh-huh!” and nod in agreement when you start talking about fictional people showing up and telling you things. Instead of trying to have you locked up. And that’s a priceless thing.

Be ready for that Voice!


1966: Star Trek, and Yours Truly


 Birthdays are a great time to reflect. Here,  The cats and I are reflecting on the wisdom  of getting a dog. 

Popping in to say HI on a milestone birthday. I was born on Henry David Thoreau’s birthday, the same year Star Trek had its debut. I am happy to count them both as influences. This past year has been full of personal change, and the next promises to follow suit.

I’m ready to start the next half century. Big plans. I’ll clue you in on a later day. For now, I wish you candles and wonder and abundance and, for us all, tranquility as needed.

Supercon and Supercool Humans


The self-proclaimed Tower of Geek from WordFire Press. Watch for this edifice, coming to a con near you! Say hi to authors. Discover cool books. See epic hats.

This has been a jam-packed week! Friday last, I gathered up the son, his various cosplay elements, a couple of fabulous hats, braved the infamous I-95, and headed to Florida Supercon. Saturday was sold out, a first for this event; congratulations to the organizers and volunteers for running a successful show!

Lots of great artists and some fun costumes in evidence. I got to chat with actor Emilio Delgado (Luis from Sesame Street) and we sang a bit of impromptu music from the “Lovers of 5” segment. I’d only seen that bit once, but the catchy tune, costuming, and staging stuck with me through the years. Emilio laughed and said it was one of his favorite bits. You can find the video online by searching “Sesame Street Give Me Five”: worth your time for the costuming and epic sideburns alone! That show had some great music. I think that segment, music and costuming alike, was likely a play on “Float On” by The Floaters. But I actually prefer the Sesame Street version. (Does it seem strange that a song about loving the number 5 would be performed by 4 guys?)

I love going to a convention that’s not primarily a literary event and seeking out the writers. At Supercon, I met some from indie and traditional publishing (sometimes both in the same person)! WordFire Press scored a great location in front of a set of entrance doors and erected their Tower of Geek; see photo above. Egged on by Todd McCaffrey, I entered a silent battle of hats with the gent above, which I will freely admit to losing. He had panache, and better accessories. And was unaware of our battle, until I told him he’d won. He won with panache too. A great hat and confidence go hand-in-hand.

Blew my budget on books and art (a refrain you will grow accustomed to around here) and you’ll be hearing about them in the weeks to come. Right now I’m in the throes of editing, though, so not much reading time. (I’m hoping to enlist a couple of younger readers to my cause today. I will use tea as a bribe, and with any luck I will get them to guest post here! Wish me luck!)

Also loved: attending a writing panel with Miami playwright and groovy human Andie Arthur (of Lost Girls Theatre fame) and her very generous friend, Kent Wilson, who so kindly distributed my extra ticket to the event to a forlorn-looking random stranger standing alone outside. (Kent went so I didn’t have to go through bag check again. And because he is an awesome human.) Kent missed part of the panel, but gave some huge delight to a guy who’d driven the length of two counties (on I-95) only to find there were no tickets available … Our co-conspirator walked up to him and transformed his day! There’s so much grim in the world. I love having been able to be a small part in this moment of kindness, and so appreciate Andie and Kent for helping it happen. You can find out more about Andie on her website. Or watch for her all over the South Florida theater scene.

In honor of Andie and Kent and the book-in-30-days panel we attended together, I’ll share with you a podcast I’ve discovered. (I wish I could remember who told me about this one. I want to think it’s Terri Windling, but I’m not sure.) In any case, I made the road trip north to Ocala (and back!) over the last three days for family stuff; wee dog Max and I while driving listened to several episodes of new-to-me podcast The Creative Penn by Joanna Penn. Just in time for Camp Nanowrimo, so of interest to some writers. But her opening thoughts on Brexit were calming to me, and very timely for reasons I won’t go into here, and I’d like to thank her for them. Whether you’re a new or established writer, indie or traditional, or a reader looking for more insight into the process, Joanna will have something in her backlist of podcasts that will be of use to you. Highly recommended.

How To Write 50,000 Words In A Month With Grant Faulkner