Walking into Spring, Springing into Writing Inspiration

Sometimes, we Authors & Artists can get discouraged.

  • No call-backs
  • Stuck in a rut
  • Feeling uninspired
  • Feeling unheard
  • Feeling depleted
  • Feeling snowed-under

snow walk pdx winter wonderland cherry blossom sun

Maybe we put a good front on it, with chirpy social media posts and devil-may-care tosses of the head, but inside we’re really howling with doubt and dismay about our life’s calling.

nw pdx walk spring moss architecture contrast

Perhaps you’ve been there.

Perhaps you’re there now. If you are, take heart!

And take a walk.

In Portland, it’s been a crazy few weeks of weather, but spring is butting its head through. I take my urban walks and delight in these little turnings of the tide.

snow pdx nature walk purple snowdrop closed

Not that I hate winter. It has its role to play. (kill off those nasty bugs!) But the transition from winter to spring is a good time to take stock. Instead of seeing the failures, we’d be happier with ourselves if we also noticed the growth, the color, the character.

snow walk pdx winter wonderland condo driveway print foot

When we have this bigger picture in mind, it’s easier to see:

  • the new good habits we’ve adopted
  • the harmful things we’ve let go
  • the personal relationships we’ve nurtured
  • the art we’ve created
  • the effort we’ve put into making our dreams a reality

And with all that filling up our hearts, we can smile and allow the transition to roll off us. Onward!

selfie feet marguerite ave se pdx sidewalk

 

Find your voice and continue to use it, Artists!

 

Images via Author

Realistic Detail

woman standing backstrap weave loom

I’ve just finished Dies The Fire, a dystopian thriller set in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. In it **mini-spoiler alert** something causes all electricity to stop working at the same moment. Lots of reactionary, ‘worst-of-humanity’ debacles follow this event called the Change, but the book got me thinking about realistic detail.

Not a few of the Goodreads reviews criticized the book for its unlikely cast and heroes. I can see some moralizing, some exposition, and some God-playing, for sure, but it doesn’t bother me too much because the premise is fascinating, and the band of unlikely renegades band together in a rather Firefly-like way to beat back the tide of evil, which I do appreciate in today’s times.

What details does the author include in his end-of-times action-packed plot?

  • Wicca and pagan religious practices
  • Gaelic speech and sayings (S’math sin!)
  • Pacific Northwest landscape
  • Survival needs
  • Engineering & Construction
  • Archery, Weaponry, & Warfare

last chance to breathe deviantart archers

I’ll be honest. I allowed my eyes to glaze over when the engineer-wizards starting talking about how to weld this and that together or cobble a horse wagon out of a flatbed. Blehhhhhh.

But most of the other stuff was completely fascinating, and intensely unknown to me.

Does the unknown intrigue you?

For a writer intrigued by the unknown, it can be a fun but uphill battle to wade through the details of a certain specialty in order to be able to write knowledgeably and convincingly about it for a paragraph. Some of the things I’ve had to research are:

carriage mail coach 1835

  • Types & classes of carriages used in 18th ad 19th century Britain
  • Collapse of the kelp industry in western Scotland
  • Breakdown of shillings & pence in Victorian Britain (Errrrg)
  • History of the herring industry around the British Isles
  • History of canal & railway building in the UK & Canada
  • Various Secession movements in Church of Scotland (OMG)
  • How mail was delivered in the 1820s and 1880s
  • Which holidays were celebrated, how, and where
  • How a loom works for a home weaver (h/t to Steven at Alpaca By Design in Sisters, OR for the mini-tutorial!)
  • How to harvest barley and oats by hand
  • Makeup of virgin forest in Nova Scotia
  • How blackhouses were laid out and furnished

Some of these topics were more enjoyable to read about than others (see editorial comments above-ha!), but you can’t cut corners on things and expect people to continue to believe you once you’ve demonstrated laziness or inaccuracies.

It’s a lesson that is well-learnt the first time. We all learn as we go!

What discrepancies have you stumbled on while reading that took you out of the book?

 

Images via BackstrapWeaving, DeviantArt, and Google/Public Domain

Preparing for the Darkest Night

Revisiting

Event: Book Reading & Signing (RSVP on facebook link!)

995 Palm St. San Luis Obispo, CA

Wed. Dec. 20, 330-5 PM

let go of the surface, dive into the dark

relinquish hecticity for the calm, chewy center

drop down into the earth' rhythms, your rhythms

find what you are searching for

newgrange winter solstice sunrise ireland

I am revisiting the town where I grew up this week.

And this Thursday, we are all revisiting the darkest night of the year, the Winter Solstice (Danu Forest’s lovely symbolism really feels magical in its ability to connect you through time and space to other cultures).

And so, as part of this revisiting process, I am reconnecting to the intentions I set for myself at the beginning of the year, which had gone suspiciously silent after various stresses and fears throughout the year.

The moon circle I attended to reflect on the December supermoon helped reconnect me to those intentions, and so I am diving into books about ancient Celtic rites and how to meditate on one’s chakras and yea, self-acceptance, yet again.

Why do I hesitate to believe in powers I can’t see? Because it requires faith. And there is no faith without trust. And trust. Is hard.

What are you reconnecting with?

What are you struggling with, as we approach the longest night of the year?

What are you looking forward to, after the light starts to be reborn?

If you’re on the Central Coast, I hope to see you on Wednesday, where there will be singing and costumes and history talk for all.

 

Image via Newgrange

Why Writers Write…and All the Rest

(We have two events coming up, at OHS in Portland, and Vintage Books in Vancouver, WA! See details below)

The book is released!

And my spirit feels like it has been released as well.

margaret pinard grasping root launch pdx another read through

As I drove home after the launch party for The Grasping Root, I felt valued. All sorts of warm fuzzies from friends made me feel seen and my work validated.

‘Two years of soul sweat,’ as I said, and most of the toil invisible to others.

But this brief flare of glamour and clamor and attention is not why I write.

No, I write because it fills me up. This community gathering and learning and celebrating is what makes all the rest of the work worthwhile:

  • the months of self-doubt while making drastic editing changes
  • the frustratingly repetitious work of formatting the manuscript
  • the constant reevaluation of one’s own abilities when forecasting promotional campaigns months into the future
  • the tedium of reworking one’s biographical blurb to fit everyone else’s needs

While you’re in that rabbit hole of creation, you have a goal. (This goes out to the NaNoWriMos out there!) It is the light at the end of the tunnel, where others pick up your book, their eyes light up, and they tell you they loved when the MacLeans sing together, or when Alisdair gives a poignant reminder of their old home, or when Muirne decides to go out on her own to resolve her own flawed understanding…

Yes! Characters have flaws! Just like we do! And that is why historical fiction is my favorite way to show people themselves. It’s a little removed, the conflicts are different but the same, the inner struggles are tweaked but recognizable, age-old dilemmas. And the triumphs give us hope.

I hope.

Here’s to you, reader, who helped me see the light at the end of this tunnel and helped birth another book.

There will be a Goodreads giveaway for this new book as a thank you! Starts November 27th.

I will be one of 90 authors at Oregon Historical Society’s Holiday Cheer event! Turning 50 this year, it is a wonderful opportunity to meet and chat with Oregon authors of all genres. Talk is free, books are not!

  • Sunday, Dec. 3rd, 12-4 PM
  • 1200 SW Park Ave

The next public event for The Grasping Root will be held at Vintage Books in Vancouver, WA:

  • Saturday, Dec. 9th, 1-2 PM
  • 6613 E Mill Plain BLVD
  • Co-hosting with Lars Hedbor, author of the Tales from a Revolution series!

The Grasping Root is available in paperback at Another Read Through Bookstore,  and can be ordered through other bookstores or Amazon. Ebook copies are available through Smashwords and Kindle. It will soon be available from Multnomah County libraries, too!

 

Photo credit April Lampert

Samhain, Giving Up, & The Grasping Root Launch

***LAUNCH PARTY DETAILS BELOW***

It is one week since I resolved the last edit for The Grasping Root, folks, & since I am the The Last Word on these things, that means it’s…

grasping root remnants book cover

FINISHED!

How did I get from my last post to this one, you ask? I’ll tell you.

  • Pressed PAUSE and spent time with family.
  • Eliminated things in my life that needlessly complicated it (one cat, several boxes, including 20-year-old letters passed at summer camp Lac de Bois)
  • Read a lot (check out the surge in Read Books on my Goodreads!)

I was getting real fed up with the mantra, “Just Keep Going.” So I decided that what I needed was what I wanted. Social time. Alone time. Cooking time. Practicing self-love instead of driving myself to exercise like I should.

I can see I lost some of you with the phrase ‘practicing self-love’–hang in there.

Magically, those 124 decisions I had to make about word choice and sentence construction flew by. They were set in perspective. My inner samurai sliced through the Resistance without attachment.

The same day, I started formatting. Tediousness ensued. Two days later, I sent off details to the cover artist for the paperback and began the steps for the publicity campaign I planned–oh, five months ago.

But now it’s happening!

The click-click-click of the roller coaster inching up and over the zenith is now definitely whooshing into the thrilling part of the publication process, where things wizz past and you forget what you’re supposed to do and who you’re supposed to be.

As my friend April reminded me, even writers are subject to the cycle of death and rebirth, ups and downs, giving up and letting go to gain something new.

let go or be dragged proverb zen hot air balloon

SO. Future steps:

I’m still hoping to arrange pre-ordering for these last couple weeks of waiting. If I do, I’ll be entering everyone who pre-orders into a giveaway contest! Free money, free candy, free books! Sign up for the newsletter to be in the virtual Room Where It Happens.

Goodreads will host a giveaway for The Keening starting Oct 21, so spread the news to those who would love this series about a Scots family in 1822 with some hard-core grit! After that, I’ll put The Grasping Root in for a contest too. 🙂 Connect on Goodreads and follow my author page for updates!

And the party you’ve all been waiting for…

THE GRASPING ROOT LAUNCH!

  • Where: Another Read Through Bookstore, Portland, OR
  • When: Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, 7-8 PM
  • What: Samhain rituals! Scottish food! White Elephant Giveaways! Bringing a new book into the world and celebrating two years of soul-wringing work <3

See you there.

 

Images via me, ShinyStarrlight