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...but on hiatus. My enchanted series is being revamped, reworked, and completely overhauled. The Big Top has burned down. What new magic will rise like a phoenix and blaze forth in the center ring?

All will be revealed.

In the meantime, the books are no longer available.  I make my apologies to those of you who loved The Mumbo Jumbo Circus and The Daring Young Man. All of the quirky characters will return in their rag-tag, magical circus, better and brighter than ever.

TRUST JULES COMPERE AND HIS MAGICAL JU-JU.

 
 
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We have FOUR cats, which officially qualifies us as crazy cat people. We recently moved from the 'burbs back to the city and and the felines are making the adjustment. So, to celebrate National Cat Day, here are some shots of our Kitty Cat Crew and a glimpse into our Days in Catland.

Go ahead, find a good sun spot and have a wonderful National Cat Day! I need to attend to the litter boxes now, catch ya later.
 
 
Here's that chaser I promised, a delicious mix of Words to Live By sung by the most adorable man EVER.

Now it's off to the factory with me. There's so much time and so little to do.
 
 
PictureImage: astronomyonline.org
My tongue-in-cheek personal tag-line (yes, everyone should have one) is EQUALLY TWEE AND EVIL. And for all it's cheekiness, it's mostly true.

On this blog I'm usually silly, twee, whimsy-girl, which is my preferred state.  But I do possess a full range of being-ness, and this includes The Dark Side.  In honor of today's dark moon I bring you two poems. The first is from my lost days as a punk rocker. Be nice, I was nineteen, and this was before I had my sense of humor transplant. (Oh, and shhh, that's a secret.) A couple days ago I was unpacking boxes, shelving books, and came across my old diary, uncovering this gem. When I stopped laughing so hard I cried, I knew I had to share this goodness with the world. There are more gems in there. They're gonna stay in the vault.

The second poem, written today on the fly and not nearly as unintentionally funny as the first one, deals with a recent sojourn wherein my creative work was put aside for an important calling. This is why I haven't been around. And that last, long-ago post wasn't exactly sweetness and light either. But like the moon, my life has entered a new phase. I am in a new house in the big city, and I am BACK, baby!

And now I curtsy and show you the dark side of the mirror, past and present. In a few days, I'll post something really super-twee as a chaser. I promise.

Then: 1981                                         Now: 

Four Inches From the Floor


Does anyone breathe
behind those black windows?
If anyone does,
they're sleeping,
four inches from the floor.

You don't have any money.
Pretend you're a writer.
Studio apartment.
Make believe you're an artist.
Paint your radiator with mushrooms.

Four inches from the floor.
Ain't it arty to be poor.
Dye the bedsheets black.
Hang in the window with a tack.

Does anyone think
behind that black brick?
Old rice in the refrigerator.
Plastic dishes in the sink.
You can't leave the mattress.
Don't have any money.
Lay on the floor.
Think about writing.
It's so arty to be poor.
Studio apartment.
Paint your nails black.

Four inches from the floor.
Ain't it arty to be poor.
Dye the bedsheets black.
Hang in the window with a tack.

Go back to sleep.

I Know What You're Trying to Do, Jane

The dark moon remembers death, 
with your turtle-beak gasping breath.
Whimsy dances, further and further,
growing up, growing away,
blown by my fetid depression-breath,
which reminds me of your infection,
and how it filled the room.

Lifted, shoved, you through the door;
what was mortal clung for more.
Purpose fell, deeper and deeper,
fading slow, fading to light,
called by those on that far shore,
who remind me I am your guide;
you told me they were rude.

The new moon rekindles fire,
sparks my dreamy life's desire.
Horror rots, weaker and weaker,
growing up, growing into,
fed by the beauty of the light-briar,
which reminds me we are so much more,
and many more at once.

As I stow the lantern, take up the pen, 
I hear your voice.
You didn't know you would be this happy.

 
 
 

A prose poem regarding the care and feeding of my stories.

The calliope sings Tick Tock, a steam-powered tune of time...endless time, no time. Space...endless space, no space. The calliope’s wordless tune makes a promise of stories. Toots and whistles and jolly fun lead me dancing, twirling, to the grandfather clock that towers a mile above me—a lemon-polished fortress of hours.

Tick tock toot toot, I have only so many heartbeats upon this earth.

The glass-fronted cabinet shows my tiny reflection yet I shy away and cannot look. I am unfinished, unshaped. There are stories up there in the moon dial. Stories I yearn for. Crave. Out-of-reach tales that will fill my soul, give my being weight, and Meaning. Make-believe will make me real. The untrue will force the truth. If only I can get there.

My fingers pry open the cabinet. It takes me years.

I hoist myself up into grandfather’s body, step inside, heels clack on dark, hard wood. Beneath the Weights of Time, a cauldron glows hot and thick. Brighid’s Cauldron, her forge of inspiration, calls my name. To accept the invitation is to take on the Taskmaster. Brighid says she will burn my toes if I back out now. The moon dial, shimmering faintly high above, and its riches, is my goal.

Beware family, beware lover: I will throw over all else to get there.

On a rising column of cauldron smoke, I ascend far enough to grasp the time chains. From here on up, I must propel myself. Burning arms, bloody fingers, chain by chain by chain by chain. Rejection oil loosens my grip. Legitimacy spits me out, straight into the mouth of the doubt demons. Brighid, I beg of you, let me drop into the cauldron, rest for a while. Ha! She keeps her promise to burn my toes.

Tick tock toot toot, you have only so many heartbeats upon this earth.

I crawl. I clamber. Once in a blue chain, I float up a few links. I climb again. The moon winks. Just for me. It spins away, a tease, to be replaced by a sailing ship, a shepherdess, the rays of the sun. I am about to fall with the giddiness. Stories are close. I smell them, yet I grow heavier the higher I climb. I reach for the stars anyway.

The gateway to the moon dial beckons me through. Brighid smiles.

Chime the hours. Ring the bells. I live in the moon dial now. There is my own magical, traveling circus. Over there in the nightclouds, my heartbreak and denial. Cookie kings and imprisoned nature sprites dwell with me. Tales of romantic witchery beg for happy endings. They all whisper to me, Queen of the Moon Dial, sitting atop all the time in the world. And then down below the calliope sings.

Tick tock toot toot, I have only so many heartbeats upon this earth.

 
 
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I am reposting this entry from the very early days of Journal Jane. The film PENELOPE is still my favorite film and favorite go-to re-set button. If you haven't seen it, enjoy.

There are times... when I hit a wall, the well runs dry, the ink runs out, I'm outta gas and even the cliches aren't flowing. And then there are times when simply hanging out with the wrong sort of people can splinter me into so many fragments I can't think straight let alone work. 

Luckily, I have a cure and it's name is PENELOPE. I have viewed this film (filmed in 2006, released in 2008) so many times my family threatened to hide it. Never fear. I foiled them. I bought a back-up DVD and they don't know where it is.

So what is it about PENELOPE that sets me straight and gets me all inspired to write and paint once again? Watching PENELOPE is like taking a walk inside my head when I'm in full-on creative mode.

Penelope's room looks exactly like my interior mindscape, full of paint, art, puppets, birds, bell-jar terrariums, butterflies, a swing, a tricycle, and a fake red tree. I should know, I spend a lot of time in here. 

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin that boasts stately old houses filled with dark wood, attics, and endless mysterious potential. Penelope's room reminds of the way I felt when inside these old homes.

This film is chock full of goodness that makes me squeal with delight. Let's start with the cast:

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James McAvoy - 'nuff said.


Christina Ricci - always wonderful. And it's worth noting she can play a house-bound, virginal, pig-faced girl and then switch to a nymphomaniac in Black Snake Moan. Now that's versatility.


Catherine O'Hara and Richard E. Grant - LOVE them both. 

And this was the first film I saw Peter Dinklage in, and he makes this movie. Ronni Ancona and Simon Woods are also great.

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This is the film that introduced me to funny man Russell Brand. He has a cameo that prompted me to look up his work. The man is hilarious and intelligent. 

Mark Palansky directed, and I adore his attention to detail. Leslie Caveny wrote the screenplay for this delicious Beauty and the Beast reversal. Amanda McArthur is the production designer who re-created the inside of my brain on film. I thank her. And I am grateful to Reese Witherspoon for producing this movie-of-her-heart, even though it didn't do that well at the box office. 

I'm in earnest, folks. All I need do is watch PENELOPE and I am myself again. What did I do before PENELOPE? I can't remember, but I have a vague notion it wasn't pretty. So I shall share with you images of things I adore from this wondrous film. 

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Mark Ryden is one of my favorite artists and his work appears in the film. As an interesting aside, he had previously used Christina Ricci as artistic inspiration.

Image copyright Mark Ryden.

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Sigur Ros!  Their song Hoppipolla provides a perfect transcendant ending.


Other great tunes in the film come from DevotchkaSchuyler Fisk, and The Little Ones. (Cha-Cha-Cha was used in the scene with the incredible copper bath-tub. I am a big fan of baths and bathtubs, especially in relation to creativity and giving birth to new ideas.)

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Director Mark Palansky
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If you haven't yet seen PENELOPE, it's wonderful, and holds up to, ahem, multiple viewings.

Do you have a creative re-set button? Let me know!
All movie images are copyright Summit Entertainment
 
 
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Dear Interwebs, it has been months since my last post. I am thinking a lot, and plotting, and...cleaning up my Twitter feed!

I believe Twitter is the single most agile and POWERFUL social media available to us at this time. In fact, I think that if we were to have some kind of national crisis, Twitter would be shut down, if not immediately then soon thereafter. Twitter is a wonderful tool for swiftly spreading information, connection, and fun. That is why I am horribly dismayed when I scroll through my Twitter feed only to find a horde of authors spamming me with white buy-my-book-noise. I am guilty of Tweeting a bit about my work when there's a giveaway or a sale etc, that's normal. However, if you look at my Home page, those tweets aren't numerous. And I DO NOT schedule automatic tweets! It's difficult to have an exchange if no one is home.

I don't know how this type of markting became so popular, because I believe it's wholly ineffective. Lately, I've become allergic to my Twitter feed. And yes, I have made a curated List, but it's a hassle, and more importantly feels disingenuous to me. And this falseness is the heart of the matter.

I call myself "equally twee and evil" and that is quite true, but mostly I am a genuine person. Like Mr. Darcy (the character, not my cat who is also wonderful but much more Bingley-esque) disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. 
My Twitter feed is approaching 1000 followers! I should be figuring out what I should do to celebrate. When I reached 500 Followers I dressed up my toes as clowns. Good times. Mr. Darcy, the character, would likely disapprove of toe clowns, but he would agree that costumes are not disguises. 
Mr. Darcy, the cat, wholly approved of toe clowns.

It is clear most of those nearly 1000 followers are only following me to plump up their numbers. Apparently literary agents and the like are impressed by the number of one's Twitter Followers. A platform is a platform, however rickety. I don't buy it. Never bought a book based on the basis of a Tweet, either. Recently I've seen the tactic used where writers (and others) will gather as many Follows as they can and then they dump most of them, relying on people's inattention to keep their numbers up. Oy with the poodles already.

I have tended to follow back fellow writers in hopes of community and a few witty exchanges, and I HAVE met some absolute GEMS of persons. Sadly though, my stream has become mostly a mess of insincere ballyhoo. I have reached the conclusion that I would rather have only those folks Following me who are actually interested in whatever weirdness comes out the tips of my fingers. 
True fun, true community, true Twitter.

My Twitter stream, like my art, like my books, needs to be an accurate reflection of me. Sometimes I'm a mess, but I'm an honest mess. So instead of celebrating all those Followers, I'm going to be doing a lot of Unfollowing instead.  Once I'm done, maybe I'll make a silly clown video for fun, and this time dress up my face and not my toes.

PLEASE, If I Unfollow you and you have a genuine interest in staying connected to me, LET ME KNOW! 


 
 
This is an arcane little post with high potential of being of little interest to anyone. So why post it? Because, perversely, it is sometimes those tiny details that end up being useful in some fashion, to someone, somewhere.

I am speaking of the Publishing Industry Terms I (up until quite recently) used to define my book categories on my website:

MAINSTREAM BOOKS - Okay, so this is a term that comprises most mid-list novels. It's fine for boardrooms and bookstore buyers. But why the heck would I describe my books that way to my READERS. Especially since I am an Indie writer and publisher? Mainstream equates to boring, middle of the road, BLAH. I must have been high. I have since changed the Title and Page Tag to BOOKS. 

Phew. That works.

YOUNG ADULT BOOKS - Or YA this and YA that. YA is quite its own subculture. and accounts for a good chunk of book sales. And now the industry and others hoping to jump that marketing train are espousing a separate term for those readers that are no longer on the cusp of adulthood but have entered that first phase of their independence: NEW ADULT. Readers of all ages read books that are labeled YOUNG ADULT and NEW ADULT, but that doesn't stop the labeling machine.

My experience is that in using the term YOUNG ADULT on two pages of my website, I received over 300 hits daily. Success! I am SO savvy in attracting my readership. Woot! Except that my site stats say that most of those hits came from RUSSIAN PORN SITES. (And oh, am I going to pay for typing those words on the interwebs.) So, I have since changed the Title and Page Tag to BOOKS FOR TEEN READERS.

Phew. That works. I hope.

And for ANY someones, somewheres, (except the RP sites, boo, go away) who read this whole thing, here's a reward:
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Vintage circus girl from The Graphics Fairy
 
 
I have a bunch of new projects I'm tackling. First in the queue is a middle grade fantasy about a nature sprite enslaved as a house drudge by a society-matron witch. My intention is to send it to a particular literary agent I have in mind. Since that can be a lengthy process, this project takes priority.

This past weekend I headed out for a walk/jog down Shell Ridge in Walnut Creek, CA, and I stayed on the lower trail that runs near the stream. I kept a lookout for any bit of nature that might inspire my story. Here's what I found:
In the NOT SO SPRITELY department, I got a little carried away with the nice weather and pulled something in my heel while running up a hill. This will help keep me tied to my desk so I GET THE BOOK DONE.
 
 
Thought you might enjoy some of the music I listened to while creating my young adult fantasy novel, The Daring Young Man.
I wanted to post Devotchka's song Ruthless, but I couldn't find it on YouTube, so here's their The Clockwise Witness, which fits the bill too!
For Markie Thuthis, here's Last Night at the Jetty by Panda Bear.