Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Medicine Wheel

For the third part in this series I promised to go into the concept of the Medicine Wheel. A Medicine Wheel, or a Sacred Hoop, is first and foremost a physical circle, usually made from rocks, that is used to represent the directions, both cardinal and spiritual, in many Native traditions. But the wheel also exists in the air, and in the mind.

The wheel generally had certain colors, animals and directions associated with it, but which ones go where can very from culture to culture. I will share what I remember from my own experiences, but please don't assume that this information will be the same in every instance.

The Wheel is always divided into four main parts (five if you count the center as separate). Each section is associated with a cardinal direction. North is usually associated with elders, wisdom and introspection. North is represented by Brother Bear, Cedar, the wind and winter. It is most often drawn in black or white.

South is associated with youth, with young people in the twilight of their adolesence, along with passion, fertility, and energy. The South is represented by Sister Wolf, Sweetgrass, Earth and summer. Its color can vary but is often shown as red or yellow.

The East is associated with children, the dawn, and change. The East is represented by Eagle, Tobacco, fire and spring. The color also varies, but is sometimes green or yellow.

The West is associated with adulthood, responsibility, reflection. The West is represented by Buffalo, Sage, water and autumn. Its color is usually blue.

My understanding is that each Totem Animal falls into one of these categories, but I honestly can't remember (except for the main four listed here) which ones go where. You should be able to find this kind of information in some of the books I listed yesterday.

Now I will try to continue where we left off yesterday, and share some details of the less common Spirit Animals.

Dolphin: Dolphin symbolizes kindness and play energy. Dolphin has also always been seen as a messenger by many different cultures. Although it is a mammal, it lives in the sea, and has mastered the art of breath control, sometimes spending impossible amounts of time deep underwater without breathing. Since water is the symbol of life Dolphin brings us teachings from the water of life. Dolphin reminds us that time to play and relax is a crucial element to walking in balance throughout life’s journey. He tells us to move with the ebb and flow of life, and not against it.

Dolphin Medicine includes change, balance, harmony, communication, freedom, trust, understanding, the power of rhythm in life, the use of breath to release emotion and significant water power.

Cat: Native American tradition only refers to American cats like cougar, puma, and jaguar, but it should be safe to assume that the power behind all great cats is similar. Cat's are known for their fierce independence as well as their artful mystique. People with cats for Spirit Guides are usually wise leaders who teach others through example and without ego.

Cat's Medicine is independence, curiosity, many lives, cleverness, unpredictability, healing, the ability to defend oneself fiercely when backed into a corner, and seeing the unseen.

Turtle: Turtle has always been seen as patient and tenacious. Turtles are known for making long, slow journey without ever deviating from the path.

Turtle's Medicine includes being a symbol for the Earth, connection with the center, navigation, patience, femininity, self-reliance, commitment, and non-violent defense.

Monkey: Monkey is not commonly referred to in Native culture, because they are not common in North America, but Monkey is generally known for cleverness and mischief.

Monkey's Medicine includes movement through ego, ability to change their environment, family, understanding excess, health, and understanding success.

Now I will try to break down two very specific examples, just for fun, and because two of my friends apparently really want to know what they mean.

Wolverine: Wolverine is thought of by many Native tribes, interestingly enough, as the Hyena of the North. Wolverines are very clever, and so are associated with the Trickster. A Wolverine also controls an extremely large territory in the wild, usually with no others of their species living within several miles, so they are often considered loners.

Wolverine's Medicine is made up of being considered the "last phantom of the wilderness." They are also associated with revenge, craftiness, resistance to cold, aggression, standing up for yourself and standing your ground, fierceness, elusiveness, strength, endurance, and courage.

Giant Sloth: A Sloth is like what? Part ant-eater and part bear? Sloths are generally folivores, but some have been known to eat insects and small birds to supplement their diets. I'm not sure how they catch them though, because Sloths are mainly known for being slow and plodding, and are certainly not known as great predators.

Sloth's Medicine includes persistence, rest, reflection, and balance. Sloth is known for being patient, friendly and adorable, or at least the ones we have left here on Earth are.

Space Monkey: Space Monkeys are mainly known for not actually existing, but hey, some people think Zombies don't exist either. Of course there are the actual primates that were sent into space by the government, to test for the safety of going into orbit, before sending humans, and I would imagine that those adorable little fellows would have to be known for their courage and their curiosity.

Space Monkey's Medicine includes droppin mischief on substitute teachers, overstating the value of corndogs to strangers, dealing with stinky burp breath, and breaking the universe with a cosmic space kapow!

So that's it folks. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The blog should go back into action on Monday, January 3rd, and will hopefully be able to get back to some slightly more serious business.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spirit Animals

So now that you all know a little bit about my limited history with Vision Quests, I want to tell you some more about Spirit Animals, also known as Totem Animals, or Spirit Guides. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert, so if you really are interested, please find a true Native American shaman or Medicine Man (or woman) that you can talk to about the subject. You might be surprised how willing they are to share about their culture. You can also do some research on your own.

Two good articles I know of online are at the Manataka American Indian Council, and There are also several books. Two decent examples are ANIMAL-SPEAK: The Spiritual and magical powers of creatures great and small by Ted Andrews, and POWER ANIMAL MEDITATIONS: Shamanic Journeys with Your Spirit Allies by Nicki Scully. There is a fun quiz, that can tell you a little more about Spirit Animals, but is also meant to promote a book and should not be taken wholly seriously, here at Jeri

So, now that we've gotten past all that I'm going to go over some of the details about some of the most common Spirit Animals. All of these are examples that exist currently in my WIP. I'm hoping it's a scene I don't have to cut during the re-write. I will go over some more obscure examples (as well as I can) for you guys tomorrow.

Dog: Among many tribes Dog was the sentinel who guarded the tribe’s home and protected them from attack and warned them of coming danger. He helped during the hunt and gave them warmth when it was cold. Dog is a symbol of loyalty, unconditional love, and protection, so if Dog is your Spirit Guide I would guess that you are a good, fast friend when you grow close to someone.

Dog’s Medicine incorporates the loving kindness of the best friend and the protective energy of the guardian. If Dog is your Spirit Animal then you’re a very kind and giving person whose devotion to their family and friends is unwavering. However, you must be careful not to be too trusting or be taken in by those who would take advantage of you. Make sure you always give your loyalty to those who are right and true.

Snake: Snake is a symbol of cunning and ingenuity, but also of rebirth. If Snake is your Spirit Guide it is possible that you are an old soul and this is not your first time in the world.

Snake's Medicine includes elusiveness, transmutation, goddess energy, exploration of the mysteries of life and connection to the magic cord by which the shaman travels to the spirit world.

Horse: Horse has shown up in almost every single mythological tale. From Pegasus, to Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse of Odin; from the stallions of Surya the Hindu sun god to the stallions of Apollo. No single creature has provided man with the freedom of movement and the ability to travel over long distances as has the horse. If you are drawn to Horse, you may feel a power in your spirit that is sometimes difficult to reign in, but remember, not all who wander are lost.

Horse's Medicine is made up of power, stamina and endurance. He is also known for faithfulness, freedom, awareness of the power achieved through cooperation, communication between the species (and between cultures), and the ability to overcome obstacles.

Rabbit: Rabbit may be stereotyped as being a fearful, simple animal, but in fact they are quite ingenious, especially when it comes to working together. Among Native Americans they symbolize humility.

Rabbit's Medicine includes moving through fear, living by your wits, and receiving hidden teachings and intuitive messages, as well as quick thinking and relying on your instincts. Rabbit reminds us not to be afraid and that we cannot allow our fearful thoughts to reproduce (especially not like rabbits) for they will overcome us if we let them.

Fox: Fox symbolizes cunning, agility, and being quick witted and thinking on your feet.

Fox's Medicine is very interesting and is associated with the Trickster, almost as much as Coyote. Fox stands for shape-shifting, cleverness, unseen observation, stealth, feminine courage, persistence and gentleness.

Owl: Owl stands for deception, clairvoyance and insight, but in this context deception does not carry with it a negative connotation. Deception is often necessary for one’s survival and can be a very valuable tool. The Great Horned Owl is the only bird that can out fly the Golden Eagle so stamina probably ought to go along with those other things as well. Owl is a bird of prey so it can also stand for a person who is a great warrior, especially if that which is dear to its heart is threatened. Owl is also known for his great awareness and his ability to see everything around him, having vision that reaches for almost three hundred and sixty degrees.

Owl’s Medicine consists of seeing through masks and disguises, silent and swift movement, keen sight, messenger of secrets and omens, shape-shifting, link between the dark, unseen world and the world of light, comfort with the shadow self, moon power, and overall freedom and independence.

Bear: Bear has always stood for wisdom, power, and healing and has been associated with the North. Bears spend the winter months in hibernation and among Native people the symbolism of the Bear’s cave reflects returning to the womb of Mother Earth. People with Bear Medicine are considered by many as self-sufficient and would rather stand on their own two feet than rely on others.

Bear’s Medicine includes introspection, healing, solitude, wisdom, change, communication with Spirit, the cycle of death and rebirth, transformation, and being the creature of dreams, shamans and mystics.

This post is going on a little too long, but I promise not to stop here. I'll just have to break it up a little and pick up tomorrow where we left off today. Before we're done though I briefly want to introduce the idea of the Medicine Wheel. The Medicine Wheel is a little like a compass, and is associated with the cardinal directions. I'll go into it more tomorrow, but if you're curious you can read some more here, at

Thanks everybody, and please be sure to come back tomorrow!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vision Quests

So I Friday I asked you guys what you thought your Patronus would be, and we discussed Spirit Animals a little bit. I know I promised to break down the little that I know about them, but before I can even do that I have to talk about the Vision Quest.

The Vision Quest is a somewhat nebulous thing, and the traditions can vary a great deal from culture to culture, but I think it is summarized well at the Crystal Links article here, which I will borrow from:

A vision quest is a rite of passage, similiar to an initiation, in some Native American cultures. It is a turning point in life taken before puberty to find oneself and the intended spiritual and life direction. When an older child is ready, he or she will go on a personal, spiritual quest alone in the wilderness, often in conjunction with a period of fasting. This usually lasts for a number of days while the child is tuned into the spirit world. Usually, a Guardian animal will come in a vision or dream, and the child's life direction will appear at some point. The child returns to the tribe, and once the child has grown, will pursue that direction in life. After a vision quest, the child may apprentice an adult in the tribe of the shown direction (Medicine Man, boatmaker, etc).

I don't want to disrespect the tradition or culture behind these ideas in any way, so I'm not going to pretend that what I experienced should be considered as powerful as a true Vision Quest, but it was important experience for me as a young man, so I will share some of it with you.

When I was 16 I was sent away to reform school in northern Idaho. My mom had died when I was 11 and my dad was out of the picture. I had been living with my aunt and uncle and had become quite a troublemaker, so they sent me away to school. The place I went had some really horrible aspects, but it also had some really amazing ones.

One of the things I loved the most was all the wilderness survival skills they taught us, and how they incorporated lots of Native American traditions into the lessons. We had a sweat lodge on campus, also known as a Medicine Lodge, which is essentially just a natural sauna. There were a lot of funs nights getting really hot in the sweat, and then jumping in the lake. We also had some Totem Poles around a giant fire pit, where we sometimes conducted ceremonies like the Sage Rub.

At one point in my stay there, I spent 6 weeks living out of a backpack and a tent in the Cabinet Mountains in western Montana. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. While on that journey we took part in our own version of a Vision Quest. Traditionally, a Vision Quest is carried out by a young person, usually around puberty, when it is time for them to find their place in the tribe. They will usually go out on their own into the wilderness, and either travel or camp on their own, often fasting and going without sleep for days. It is during this period in which the young person is usually visited by visions, often including the appearance of a Spirit Guide, also known as a Spirit Animal, or Totem Animal. Hence the term Vision Quest.

Of course Modern Medicine knows that the stress caused by sleep deprivation and hunger can often be enough to trigger hallucinations, depending on the length and severity of the stress. In many Meso-American tribal cultures these hallucinations are considered holy, which is why certain tribes take peyote, or hallucinogenic mushrooms.

We didn't do any of that, obviously, but we did all go onto what they called "solos" where each student set up their own camp, and lived by themselves for several days. We had to build our own lean-tos, and we were issued a big bag of trail mix, so we didn't actually fast completely, but we did go without regular meals. They didn't tell us to go without sleep, but the counselor who set me up did share with me about his knowledge of traditional Vision Quests, and he explained that if I chose to stay up and meditate, or go walking around, or write in my journal, I might have a more spiritual awakening than if I didn't. It was not required, but it was encouraged.

I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail here, because this was a really personal experience for me, but it should suffice to say that I did not stay up or fast long enough to hallucinate, walk on water, or have an out of body experience, but I did eventually pass out in my sleeping bag, where I dreamed about being visited by a Cougar-ess who could talk, and sounded like my mom.

I'm sure the power of suggestion was heavily at work here, and I'm not going to speculate about the psychological aspects of this kind of thing, but it was all pretty cool for me, and makes for a great story.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for more on Spirit Animals, and some of the symbolism behind them!

Friday, December 17, 2010

What is your Patronus?

First of all I owe any and all credit for this post to my buddy Lydia K, from The Word is my Oyster. She came up with this awesome question and posted about it yesterday (this post, my post, was supposed to go up on Thursday, but I got sick). If you haven't been there, please stop by to read her super fun post, comment on it, and follow her blog. She also has an awesome feature, Medical Mondays, which is not only really entertaining, but extremely useful for writers.

So anyway, hopefully you've all read the Harry Potter novels, more specifically Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where the Patronus Charm first appears. For those of you who haven't, here is the description from the Harry Potter Wiki:

A Patronus Charm is an insubstantial animal protector created by the advanced Patronus Charm spell, and one way to defend against Dementors and certain other Dark creatures. The spell requires the use of a wand, concentration on a powerfully happy memory, and the incantation "Expecto Patronum".

A Patronus that is fully formed, or corporeal, takes the shape of fairly solid-looking animal; a non-corporeal Patronus appears only as wisps of silvery mist. It is a very complex charm and many qualified wizards and witches have trouble with it. Harry Potter is one of the youngest known wizards to cast a Patronus. The Patronus Charm, like Animagus forms, has been said to reflect the personality or feelings of the witch or wizard. They are, however, subject to change if the caster goes through an emotional upheaval of some sort.

Anyway, before I go on any longer about the awesomeness that is All Things Harry Potter the point of this post is: what kind of animal do you think your patronus (assuming it manifested itself as fully corporeal) would show up as?

Lydia, being both a doctor and a clever writer, argued first that hers would be a Paramecium, then she selected a Kiwi (the bird, not the fruit) for a moment before finally settling on a Platypus.

My own Patronus would manifest itself as a Mountain Lion, also known as a Cougar, I'm quite confident. How do I know this, you ask? Because as a teenager I went on a Vision Quest, and discovered that the Mountain Lion is my Spirit-Animal.

I fully realize that may sound crazy, but I'm not joking.

More on Vision Quests and Spirit-Animals next week (although if you name your Patronus Animal in the comments, I promise to break down what that would mean as your Spirit Animal, in another post).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm an Idiot

Leave it to me to sing the praises of cold weather one day and end up sick with a thick old head cold the next.

I feel like my head is full of cotton candy that's sat rotting in the mud for days after the carnival closed and all the freaky carnies have long since gone bumping down the road in their garish wagons. I feel like my nose is stuffed with that quick dry spray foam that they use to make fake rocks on stage in the theater. I feel like I can't come up with one more silly simile without my skull crashing down against the hard, uncaring surface of my desk.

Snore. Sorry guys, I've got nothing for you today, but I still love you all (no energy for exclamation points though).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter Weather

I'm certainly not going to write about football again, not after last night's fantasy loss and Vikings loss, I just can't do it. Plus it would probably put you all to ... zzzzzz

So instead I'm going to talk about Winter Weather (yes that deserves capitalization, but probably not capitolization). I was born in Seattle, and while it rains a lot it never really gets cold or snows unless you go up into the mountains. But, when I was 11, I moved to White Bear Lake Minnesota, and you can believe it gets very cold AND snows there, all the time (there is a reason it's not called Brown Bear Lake). Now I live in Georgia (don't ask me why), and I almost never get to enjoy cold weather.

This morning I took our dog outside to pee at 5:15. Yes, 5:15. It's just not right, I know, don't get me started. Anyway either a pipe had burst or a neighbor across the street had left their hose on, because our street was full of ice all the way down to the sewer grate. I suppose I could have gotten irritated by this, but instead I chose to relish all the things I love about cold weather:
  • I love the way your breath steams up the instant it leaves your mouth and you can play choo-choo train, even as a fully responsible, if slightly insane adult.
  • I love the way my shoes crunch against the frosted ground and the way that sound echoes in the still morning.
  • I love the way my nostrils freeze together when I breathe through my nose and despite the minor pain it makes the air feel fresh and clean and pure.
  • I love that every snowflake is utterly unique, just like the soul of every person, and when you catch one on your tongue it melts into warm comfort just like holding the hand of someone you love.
  • I love how when the winds whips uninhibited across a frozen lake it can sound like spirits wailing at the living.
  • I love how Nesta (our puppy) doesn't take 15 minutes to handle her business when she is freezing her @$$ off!
  • I love how all these southern drivers are so terrified of non-existent but highly touted black ice that they all get into the right lane, cringing in fear as I pass them in my front wheel drive Honda Civic.
  • I love how a fresh snowfall can make even the most dilapidated urban ghetto look full of innocence, peace and purity, even if only for a moment.
  • I love rockin jeans and a hoody, and how they camouflage my ample middle.
  • I love all the activities that only snow and ice can provide: Skiing, Ice-Skating, Snow-Boarding, Hockey, Sledding, Snow Ball Fights, Broom-Ball, Snow-Men, Snow-Angels, Instant Slurpies ....
  • But most of all ... I love the Silence.

Am I a sentimental fool? Sure, probably, but I'm not the least bit ashamed of who I am. Have a great Tuesday readers!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why Am I Not Surprised?

Before I throw my (far less than) two cents in, watch this video:

In case you hadn't already heard or you had no idea what it meant, the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis Minnesota collapsed on Sunday. It had been leaking since two feet of snow were dumped over the area on Friday. I lived in Minnesota for years, and am a huge fan of the Minnesota Vikings, the principal professional sports team that uses the facilities at the Dome (the Minnesota Twins played there until Target Field was built last year).

I'm not shocked in the least bit. Why? You might ask. Because, I would tell you, whatever engineer designed that building was a moron. The roof is made of Teflon cloth, which is space age enough, I suppose, but what supports it? What keeps it from sagging in the middle? You would think steel girders of some kind would provide the structural integrity to hold the roof up in adverse conditions, or at least some kind of flying butress system that would support the weight from outside, using steel cabling to connect to the panels. But no. The roof of the Metrodome is supported by air pressure. This brilliant idea means that the roof has collapsed no less than 5 times since the Dome was built.

I could go on about this a lot longer, because there are many implications behind this newest occurrence, some good, some bad. Hopefully it means the Vikings will get a new stadium with a retractable roof that can support its own weight. The terrible thing, for now, is that the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants that was supposed to be played at the Metrodome on Sunday will now be played tonight, in Detroit. Anyone who knows anything about football knows what a huge unfair advantage that is for the Giants. And how badly it screws other teams over. The Vikings don't really matter because they are essentially mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but what about NFC East teams like Philadelphia and Dallas? Or teams with better records than the Giants, like New Orleans and Atlanta? Suddenly the Giants have to play one less away game than everybody else.

Not fair. Anyway, here endeth the rant. Enjoy this aerial photo of the Dome's collapsed roof for a moment before you head to the next blog:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Facebook Scam

Morning all. So I've been having a good week, especially when it comes to blogging, and I was looking for a nice easy lazy post for today that would still be entertaining, and then yesterday I got this chat sent to me on FB. I'm not going to give out the name of the account they hacked, but needless to say it is someone I barely know. Luckily I had heard of this scam, so I decided to eff with this monkey.

So anyway, peep this craziness, and let my random helpfulness and innocent confusion be a lesson to all scam artists!

Scammy McFullOfCrappyPants
how are you doing

Author Matthew Rush
"I'm good, you?"

"Am not too good"

Author Matthew Rush
"oh no, why's that?"

"i'm in kind of terrible problem at the moment
just that i have a big problem regarding my travel
are you aware that am in Scotland"

"No I wasn't what's going on?"

"i had to visit a resort on a short vacation but got mugged at a gun point
it was a brutal experience"

Interjection: this is (obvisouly) where I knew exactly what was up. I wanted to see how much fun I could have before they mentioned Western Union. I mean who in the hell "has to" visit a resort. Like what, your company said they'd fire you if you wouldn't go? Yeah right.


"all cash credit card cell phone and my wallet were stolen off me by the muggers"

But clearly not your laptop, right?

"my goodness, what are you going to do?"

Poor Scammy
"really need your help
am freaked out here"

Author Me!
"So you're stuck in Scotland? Where?"

Full of Crappy
"am left with just my life and my passport

"Did you go to the police?"

"i have been to the consulate but they are not helping issue"

What consulate? What American would use that term anyway? Technically a Consulate is like an embassy, except not in a Capitol city, right Ted? I mean come on Scammy, you need to up your game, woman!

Inquisitive Me
"What part of Scotland are you in?"

Full of it It
"Location: 30 Oban Drive, North Kelvinside,
Scotland (United Kingdom)"

Hilarious Me (sometimes I kill myself)
"Did you visit Hogwart's?"

He/she/it ignored that one. Or didn't get it.

"the problem is our return flight leaves in few hours time, but am having problem sulting my hotel bills"

Me (a writer)

"pay my bills"

Yeah, right.

"The hotel Bill? But you've got you're plane ticket?"

"wondering if i can get a quick loan from you ....
would def refund it to you once we arrive! Hopefully tomorrow"

We? Who the eff is we? You have a mouse in your pocket? I thought you said Steve had rowed to Fiji? Which, BTW, happens to be in the South Pacific, on the opposite side of the world from the Highland Moors of upper Scotland. I'm just sayin.

Pragmatic Me
"So you need money for your hotel bill and a plane ticket?"

Getting a little desperate they

Me (a writer can still make typos)
"Pounds Sterlin?


Me (I looked up the name of my friend's Significant Other)
"Is Steve there?"

"am all alone
400 pounds"

Sorry. My previous interjection was premature. Hard to keep track of all these lies.

"what happened to Steve? Is he OK?"

"he travel to fijil island"

Okay, I must admit, I didn't see THAT coming.

Me (testing her texting skillz)

Her, not giving up
"should i give you the info you need when you get t
western union

Me, getting bored, want to push the envelope a little
"Wait. Why did Steve go to Fiji? And what is Western Union?"

"Western union is were you
can wire or send me the money i need to sort my bill"

Me, trying to get creative here
"What will you do while they send money? How will you eat? How many weeks does it take them to send money across the ocean?"

"just a 5 minit"

Me, running out of cleverness
"You'll be back in 5? Okay, I'll be here."

"i mean you can search for
western union now and send me the money it will be available in 5 minute

Ready to push "her" over the edge
"Oh. Wow! That's amazing!"


"Don't you think? I mean where do they get the money from?"


"What does that mean?"


And then I was done. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE ALL CAPS, but I can't stand when the verb doesn't match the subject.
"How do I know you again?"


"What do you mean? Am I in trouble too?"


After your incredibly poor attempt, using horrible grammar and English, at scamming some chump change out of me ... I'm the animal? If you spent this much time and effort getting a damn job, you wouldn't need these scams, my man.

"You crazy!"


I had no idea what that meant. My Author profile does not talk about kids or family or anything.

And that was where the scammer could take no more. I should have wrote back "here endeth the lesson."

Thanks for playing everyone, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Three Announcements

So today I have another short and beautifully sweet post. Or was that sweet and beautifully short? Probably neither. Anyway, these points will be sorted by order of importance, but there's no telling whether that's sorted ascending, descending, or randomly. So ...
  • I've added comments to the pages on my blog that are in addition to the current post/main page. They are my writing, and my query. I've only written the one novel, so the one query is all I have. Please feel free to visit those pages if you like, but there is no obligation whatsoever. However, the query did win a contest at WriteOnCon (I guess for being somewhat good) and the three flash fiction pieces will all be published next year (so they are hopefully not shite). I would love to hear what all of you think.
  • My wonderful daughter Kylie, who is one of the two best kids who have even been born as humans, and dreams of one day being an author, will be doing a Guestanista/Bookanista Junior post over at Lisa and Laura Roecker's blog today. She's reviewing Personal Demons. These are three of my very favorite women in the world, plus this is an ACTUAL real life YA, reviewing a YA novel in her own words, so please check it out and throw your thoughts into the mamma jammin mix.
  • Finally, my good bud Shannon McMahon has recently started one of the coolest blogging ideas I have ever heard of. Today is the third installment of her anonymous critique posts, so be there. All the cool kids will.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The League of Ordinarily Surly Men

That's the name of my critique group. Actually it's not. We don't have an official name, or a group blog or anything like that. We're pretty informal about the whole thing actually. Plus, we're not even very surly. Most of us are really nice. Simon is probably the only one who is so mean it's scary sometimes.

Just kidding. Anyway, I've got a lot of reading that I owe my crit group, and I'm really behind on it. So I won't be doing a real post or reading many blogs today. Instead you should visit the blogs of the other members of my crit group.

Ted Cross is the original member. Ted and I met, where else, on Nathan's forums and have been friends and writing buddies ever since. We connected as soon as I found out that not only does Ted love Fantasy as much as I do, but unlike me, has the courage to write it.

Simon C. Larter was a silent partner for a long time, then he got more involved, and now he's back to less again. We're not mad at him at all though, because even when he doesn't have pages to share with us he still critiques our work. Can you imagine a nicer thing to do? Plus he's hilarious, even if a little surly when he's out of vodka.

Ryan Z. Nock is the newest member, and the youngest, but he's a damn fine writer and came highly recommended by my mentor, Bryan Russell. Ryan actually lives in Atlanta, well just outside, but a lot closer than me, and we still haven't actually met yet. We need to get on that.

Anyway, please go visit their blogs and follow them, you won't regret it!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images

I heard a really interesting story on NPR this morning about the book sellers who ply their wares on the banks of the Seine in Paris. These people are known as bouquinistes, which I guess means booksellers? I don't really know because I don't speak French. Anyway, rather than steal the story and represent it as my own, I will just point you to the article on the NPR website, here. The audio for the produced for radio version of the story will be available around 9 AM EST.

Anyway, the whole thing also reminded me of an awesome group of bloggers I know. The Bookanistas. Well, I don't actually know all of them, but I do know some of them. Here is a list of links to their blogs in case somehow, for some crazy unknown reason, you haven't heard of them:

Myra McEntire
Michelle Hodkin
Lisa and Laura Roecker

So there you go. Enjoy the article, check out the Bookanistas and have a great day! I'm off to work on something for my crit group.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ship Breaker

Today I will be discussing this wonderful new novel I just recently finished reading, Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi. First, I need to thank Karen Amanda Hooper, whose blog I won my copy on. Thanks Karen!

Anyway, this is the author's first young adult novel, but Paolo's writing has appeared in High Country News, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,, and Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. He is a Hugo and Nebula Award winner, and a National Book Award finalist.

From Booklist: This YA debut by Bacigalupi, a rising star in adult science fiction, presents a dystopian future like so many YA sf novels. What is uncommon, though, is that although Bacigalupi's future earth is brilliantly imagined and its genesis anchored in contemporary issues, it is secondary to the memorable characters. In a world in which society has stratified, fossil fuels have been consumed, and the seas have risen and drowned coastal cities, Nailer, 17, scavenges beached tankers for scrap metals on the Gulf Coast. Every day, he tries to “make quota” and avoid his violent, drug-addicted father. After he discovers a modern clipper ship washed up on the beach, Nailer thinks his fortune is made, but then he discovers a survivor trapped in the wreckage—the “swank” daughter of a shipping-company owner. Should he slit the girl's throat and sell her for parts or take a chance and help her? Clearly respecting his audience, Bacigalupi skillfully integrates his world building into the compelling narrative, threading the backstory into the pulsing action. The characters are layered and complex, and their almost unthinkable actions and choices seem totally credible. Vivid, brutal, and thematically rich, this captivating title is sure to win teen fans for the award-winning Bacigalupi. Grades 8-12.

Book Details
Title: Ship Breaker
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 326
Year: 2010
Language: English
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-316-05621-2
First published: 2010

The QQQE take: I certainly won't disagree with any of that, and the characters are in fact very compelling, but the thing that really drew me into this tale was the voice of the narrator, and the language of the world in which Nailer lived. Instead of injecting these very real characters full of foul language that honestly would have been perfectly believable, Bacigalupi gives them their own unique slang. Phrases like "grind that," "blood and rust," "sliding high," and "crew up" replace contemporary oaths and exclamations.

The writing is pretty straight forward, not too literary, but the description does have a few very lovely moments. Just the kind of stuff I like to read. Here is a passage that was selected for the inside jacket flap:

Even at night, the wrecks glowed with work. The torch lights flickered, bobbing and moving. Sledge noise rang across the water. Comforting sounds of work and activity, the air tanged with the coal reek of smelters and the salft fresh breeze coming off the water. It was beautiful.

There are also some underlying themes about the environment, socio-economic issues, human rights and other things, which although I found them very interesting, I won't have time to go into here. I did find an excellent review on another blog if you are interested in reading more: Val's Random Comments.

Anyway I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA, and even many who don't. Let me know if you have any questions.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I'm not sure what's wrong with me this week but I have no inspiration to come up with my standard clever, educational, hilarious and inspiring blog posts, so instead I'm going to leave you with this video. Get excited, get very excited biatches (assuming you have HBO).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shannon's Anonymous Critique

I don't have anything today. Instead I'll ask all of you to please head over to Shannon's Anonymous Critique, here. I'll be taking part and this is really a cool and unique service, so let's give it, and her, some support!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lovin' the Hate

Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at and by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.

Coming soon in paperback.

Keep up with the latest at


When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?