Summer Solstice & Event Planning for Authors June 7

If you are an author wanting to organize extraordinary events but don’t know how to start, we’ve got a free author talk for you!

Come to Washington County Writers Forum Thursday, June 7, 7-8 PM for an open, free workshop on how to plan, publicize, and execute fun book events! Details at the Facebook Event page.

sun energyOn to Solstice talk!

The summer solstice is about the height of the sun’s power. Things are growing in the earth, nourished by all our efforts to plough the field, plant the seeds, and lovingly cultivate our seedlings, as well as the gifts of sunshine and rain.

I’ve been having my own little celebrations with friends since Imbolc, and we’re starting to feel some esprit de corps, which feels great. I am also starting to tune in better to moods, influences, reactions, disturbances. I’m loving it!

So what is in store for the Summer Solstice? What are some of the symbols associated with this yearly ritual?


For the ancient pagan observances, stone circles were often used to determine the exact position of the Sun and Earth so that seasons could be calculated, which aided the survival of the tribe.

stone circle northern ireland

High summer is a time when a lot is happening: both back then, and now. Back then, it was a time to travel without worrying about snowstorms, a time to sell animals for profit at market, a time to celebrate weddings, a time to raise a new barn.

Today, we’ve got the season of construction, too, with a vengeance (oh, just me this is getting to?), time off from school, and therefore, family vacations, and the feeling that we need to take advantage of the good weather, and any free time (the very little of it) we are allowed.

Some motivation for pleasure is good, but the type of anxiety I see in some situations is too much. FOMO, it’s called, as my WDS peeps know well. Or trying to do everything, as I know well.

This year, because of scheduling, I will have my celebration the day after the solstice, when the Holly King has defeated the Oak King as he annually does.  And this has me thinking about the top of the mountain, and the long, long descent back into darkness.

On June 22, the descent is only starting, as the Holly King has only just won out and begun to grow in strength. But what if we took that moment, that short suspended moment in time, to examine what has us so anxious to do everything?

summer solstice fire

We can take another powerful symbol of the solstices–Fire–and meditate on its power. While flowers and crops may be growing under our feet, what is burning in our hearts?

In novel news, I’ve turned in a new direction for my current manuscript–changing the starting date, the background of a major character, and one of the locations! Upsetting to a scheduler, yes, but it seems much more cohesive which gives me a fluttering courage to keep at it.

That’s my creative spark, being waved into a flame, that I hope to keep going all summer long.

So how are your creative projects going?

And don’t forget! Workshop on Events for Authors Thursday at 7 PM in downtown Hillsboro.


Images via 123rf, Island of the Setting Sun, & Barefoot Farmer

Beltane Fire & Money Session May 6

Another pagan holiday is coming up!

Before I go into Beltane Fire, here is your reminder that I am giving a workshop on Money & Writing, Supporting Your Dream & Making it Pay at Vintage Books in Vancouver, WA on Sunday, May 6, 3-4 PM

Hope to see you there, Portlanders!

goddess beltane flora rainbow pagan

Beltane! May Day! Fertility! Lust!

Lots of things going on at the moment, both in the world and in my life. You, too? Must be the turn of the Wheel… 😉

With the celebration of Beltane, I want to bring up the wild orgies of nature: bees and buds and fawns and ewes. And people.

There is nothing wrong with sex. It is the force of creation! But for a lot of reasons, our culture has been obsessed with making it secret–shameful, even. I’m trying to let go of that part of me.

I am ritualizing this different understanding of healthy living through my pagan celebrations. Beltane is about fertility and new life. And human! Sexuality! Is natural! (Sorry if I seem shouty. I’m countering lots of old Voices.)

I love the way that the pagan Wheel of the Year is rooted in cyclical changes of the earth. There is always something new coming, and something old fading away. There are always opportunities to reflect, and recommit, as my friend Elizabeth from Washington County Writers reminds me.

As a writer, I end up needing a lot of creative Fire. Since Beltane focuses on fire for purification and health, I’ll share a meditation from Green Haven Tradition to invoke the energy of the elements–for whichever type of fire you feel the need of.

“I call upon the East and
the Fire that lives in Air,
the starfire that shines beyond
the atmosphere that shelters us.
Join us in our ritual now;
hail and well met!”

I call upon the South and
the Fire that lives in Fire,
the quick tongue of the balefire
that cleanses with its blazing light.
Join us in our ritual now;
hail and well met!”

I call upon the West and
the Fire that lives in Water,
the bubbling cauldrons of hot springs
which boil away all contamination.
Join us in our ritual now;
hail and well met!”

“I call upon the West and
the Fire that lives in Earth,
the magma that builds the stone
which becomes walls to protect us.
Join us in our ritual now;
hail and well met!”


Image available as a print! via Goddessandgreenman

Birthday, Indie Bookstores, and a Money Workshop

shook twins album butterfly

My anthem lately, from the Shook Twins’ Shake:

“What are you gonna say when they ask you why
You chose to live this way in your short short time?”

Short, short time is RIGHT! What we do with our time shows what our priorities really are. Ahem. March and April sped right by me, and the day and a half I spent editing my current book in Tillamook, OR seems a lifetime away. However, I did get a few lines of research going for Remnants 3 since then, including reading:

British Colonial Government after the American Revolution, 1782-1820

and Booze: A Distilled History

Flummoxed? Good! Keeps you guessing… 😉

All my spring doings have pushed me right up against a birthday. I’ll be celebrating this weekend by going on a comping trip, which I haven’t done since, oh, high school?!?! Looking forward to it, and 2000s Night at the Crystal, which is going to be my follow-up. (SO good, right??)

Then Taste Life Twice will be taking its show on the road again (not far), for the following events:

bookstoreday indie logo 2018 modified litsyIndependent Bookstore Day:

Saturday April 28th, 11-6 PM

This is the day to support your #local independent bookstore. Please know that these are mostly precarious operations hanging on by the skin of their teeth and the strength of their convictions.

Part of your community. Payers of local taxes. Donaters to local schools.

Please acknowledge that cheapest, fastest books aren’t always best for the world: support your local #indie shops.

In Portland, stop by where I work! Another Read Through (3932 N. Mississippi Ave), 11 AM -6 PM! There will be free swag, there will be refreshment–mental and culinary–and the community spirit that all indie bookstore owners are striving for will be there for all.

So come on down, buy a book and meet your neighbors.


I’m up next for Sunday Sessions:

Sunday May 6th, 3-4 PM

I’ll be back at Vintage Books (6613 Mill Plain Boulevard) in Vancouver, WA! I did a setting workshop for them last year which was really fun. This year I’m giving a workshop on Money & Writing: Supporting Your Dream & Making It Pay. I’ll talk about three different modalities of writing I’ve experienced, and touch on budgeting while writing (sounds kind of like Driving While Intoxicated, doesn’t it?).

I’d love to have you join me across the river for a strategy session!

Let’s see…Birthday, Bookstores, and Money… let me see if I can think of another way those three themes intertwine…LOL!

Fire and Fertility

Burns Season is upon us, and I am certainly celebrating the Scottish poet (come to Backstory this Saturday!), but something else happens this time of year, or did:

It was called Candlemas by early Christians, and Imbolc by the pagans. Both groups celebrate this day halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox by honoring fire and fertility.

candles brigid cross sheep sun symbols of imbolc

Like last year, I am making a concerted effort to open myself up to beliefs and “faith” things that used to make me nervous or derisive.

Crystal healing, tarot cards, astrology, mediatation–yes.

Last year it worked for a few months then sort of collapsed from the weight of family concerns. This year, I hope to keep probing and testing my barnacled skepticism in hopes of more peace with less control. Dig me?

So I dove into the above rando arts, and may well write about those experiences, but one of the practices I’m incorporating this year that feel closer to my bailiwick are traditional Celtic feast days from The Wheel of the Year. Coming up is Imbolc:

Feb 1 is when ewes started giving birth, and therefore had milk that humans could steal. This was important for early agrarians’ survival, as late winter/ early spring yielded few other sources of nourishment. Recipes abound for Imbolc foods involving milk and cheese, which the Celts loved in many forms.

celtic folklore cooking cookbook

Brighid (for pronunciation help!) is a pagan goddess who was taken over by a Christian saint (#moted). The goddess had an eternal fire tended by vestal virgins, according to the legend in Kildare. The fire at Imbolc can represent the sun that is coming back to us, as the days get longer in the Northern hemisphere, and winter starts to lose its grasp.

So we’ve got a day when people used to start preparing the earth to be sown with seeds, when little lambs would be frolicking in the Celtic rain, when people would sweep clean the old dark energy and purify themselves for the new [agricultural] year. It’s like another New Year!

candlemas imbolc light ritual pagan

I like the idea of being more in tune with the universe’s changes. I’m trying to pay more attention to the Celtic Wheel, the moon’s phases, the weather. Why? I’m searching for a feeling of connectedness that does not depend on exclusion. Something that links us humans back before polls and gentrification and online personas.

It is also useful as research fodder to get into the mindset of someone who lives closer to the land and depends on its cooperation from year to year. The almanac used to contain all humans needed to be self-sufficient, provided they had land, seed, and labor. Nowadays, we don’t use them. We don’t ask elders for their experience, either. Our modern arrogance is astounding.

Which is why I love historical fiction! I’m not a Luddite, and I can be just as dependent on technology as the next guy, but I am striving for a better balance, rooted in real change, not just a flash in the pan. Why NOT adopt a goddess to keep yourself in line with your intentions for the season?

Don’t tell them I told you, but I’m going to be sneaking Imbolc practices into my Burns Supper reading on Saturday–cheese on oatcakes, candles, and poetical declamations–of the bawdy variety! 😉


Images via The New Pagan and my own

Celebrate the Light of Poetry

January 25 is Burns Day.

(I’m having an event on January 27th! See below)

Robert Burns

What’s that, you ask?

It is the birthday of Robert Burns, widely considered to be Scotland’s national poet. He lived from 1759 to 1796, leading a short life full of struggle, defiance, humility, lust, and heartbrokenness.

He wrote poems and songs, collected folk songs from across Scotland, satirized great figures of the day, wooed many a woman to his bed, and called for radical parliamentary reform when that movement was pushing forward in 1792-4.

robert burns highland mary painting

Burns developed this radical zeal starting with his poor childhood as a tenant farming family in Ayrshire. His poor health–a heart ailment and then a rheumatic condition–no doubt came from poor living conditions as his family struggled to survive.

His best-known poem around the world is Auld Lyne Syne, which everyone sings in a drunken haze on New Year’s Eve.

bagpiper auld lang syne

Another famous folk song traces its lineage back to Burns: A Man’s A Man.  It was composed at a moment when the fight for reform had to go underground. Its words are stubbornly hopeful for a brotherhood of equality:

It’s comin’ yet for a’ that, / That Man to Man the warld o’er / Shall brithers be for a’ that.

Furthermore, when the Scottish Parliament was recently reconvened for the first time since 1707, this was the song that was sung. So moving. I sang it at my December event in SLO, and was so happy people decided to join in!

When Burns died in 1796, the Romantic movement took up his poems as anthems in Scotland and beyond. In the early 1800s, a curious tradition started: the Burns Supper, where people got together to remember the poet, and generally have a good time.

This year, I am getting involved in All The Happenings, but YOU can come join the fun at Backstory Books on Saturday, Jan. 27th. I will be hosting a book chat there, singing songs, and would love to have you come bear witness to Burns’ legacy as lover, fighter, champion of the poor, and speaker of Truth.

Backstory Books
6010 SE Foster Rd.
Sat. 1/27 130-3PM
Please RSVP on Facebook! :)

We can also celebrate the returning of the Light…and prepare for Imbolc! #celticyear

Images via AnnemarielatourJackiKellum, & Singingthesonginmyheart