Monday Motivation: The Value of Solitude

The pressures on all sides to bond make those who, for whatever reason, find themselves alone uneasy and even guilt-ridden in their situation.  Even worse they reduce the possibility of success for the relationships which they constantly promote. If, as we are told, our lives can be fulfilled only by our intimate attachments to others, then those attachments are from the beginning under a weight of responsibility that cripples their growth.  Even more importantly, this current insistence on relationships not only spoils our chances of relating—it gets in the way of our discovering the value, perhaps the necessity, of solitude.

Peter France, Hermits

Friday Craft Day: Spooky Cross Stitch

Spoooky Halloween Cross Stitch!

It’s Friday Craft Day! Help yourself to some Spooky cross stitch patterns to make over the weekend. I’ve got a mix of free and for sale patterns covering the Halloween aesthetic. So get your stitch on.

https://www.pinterest.com/idiorhythmic/halloween-cross-stitch/

Autumn is for Mending

Spring cleaning is about clearing out stagnant energy. Fall cleaning is about carefully picking through the contents of your life to find what to keep and what to pitch. It is for opening your closet doors and laying all your clothes on the bed, for pulling out your fall and winter gear and inspecting it. Those gloves and scarves and coats you carelessly packed away six months before get an airing out. You wash those that need it. You pair up gloves, toss those what are missing partners, or, as I do with my son’s gloves, pair them up with another lonely one to make a mismatched set.

This is the process I’m going through now. I am trying to bring order to a house I never properly set up. Our move-in was hasty and chaotic, and the last year didn’t afford me much time to purposefully arrange things. This fall, however, has brought me the time and energy to tackle such housekeeping details.

Ripped Skirts
5+ years old, these skirts have seen better days.

I’ve started with my clothes. By virtue of my life spent mostly in my home, my daily wardrobe consists mainly of pj pants and T-shirts. Those times I have to venture into the outside world, I will exchange the pants for one of my skirts. This has been my daily uniform for the past five years, and my clothes are beginning to show it.

Handful of scraps
I’m really just happy to be able to use up some scraps, to be honest.

I began with the shirts. All the T-shirts riddled with holes went under the pinking shears. In thirty minutes I had reduced them to rags for cleaning. They replaced the previous rags that had come to the end of their useful life.

Mending Skirts
There are so many holes, I just pinned scrap fabric to where they were.

This last week I moved on to my skirts. Currently I have four every day skirts, one “fancy”, and two that haven’t made it into rotation yet. All of them are handmade. One skirt went into the bin, so torn up and run down it wasn’t even fit for rag duty. The other three are threadbare and torn at the seams. If I toss them now, I’ll be short of outside wear, though, so I’ve decided to mend them enough to get through the next month while I make new skirts.

Fancy Patching
This is what it looks like when I take my time to patch my skirts.

I’ve patched these skirts before. Those times I was careful with my fabric choice and my stitching. This time, knowing that I just need to keep my underwear from showing, I set to the task by first grabbing a handful of scraps. The result is haphazard, but serviceable. And that’s all that’s warranted. Once I’ve made up new skirts, these will be retired. I’m considering remaking them into a throw, something cozy for the winter nights ahead.

Less Fancy Patching
My patch jobs this time were less careful and more quick and dirty.

This upcoming week the target of my fall cleaning will be the pj pants. Several need some light mending and I’ll probably make a couple of new pairs, as well as retire a couple that are as ratty as the skirts. Then I will move on to the winter clothes: sweaters, sweatshirts, long sleeved garments, as well as tights and leggings. By the time December rolls around I should be well sorted out to survive the winter.

Monday Motivation: Examine Your Patterns

Examine your patterns. Consider first if the pace and the pattern of your life are of your own choosing.  Take the measure of your life, honestly and logically.  Determine which patterns are imposed upon you from external sources and which are self-imposed (or self-inflicted).

Make an honest assessment of what you have to do, what you don’t have to do, and of what you have consciously chosen to do, regardless of whether it is required or not.

Now reach a little further within to take a deeper measure of your personal life patterns. In doing so, realistically determine what it is you are striving for. Reexamine your life patterns in the clear light of personal truth and choice. Ask yourself what it is that you truly want from your life, from yourself.

If you are fairly clear on what you really want, then you can effectively determine whether or not your life patterns are structuring your success.  If you are uncertain about what you ultimately want, then you must ask yourself who or what is actually determining and managing thee patterns of your life for you and why.

These are hard questions, but necessary ones if you want to take more power over the patterns in your life. Know that you do have the ability to choose far more in the matters of your life patterns.  The first step—and the last—is taking your personal measure.

Amber Wolfe, Elemental Power

Cross Stitch: SF Swear Words

I’m a word nerd and a science fiction geek.  I also love to swear.  Like, really fucking love to curse. My swearing is sometimes a problem (like when my children started dropping f-bombs as toddlers).  But mostly swearing offers me a release for frustration.  (Also, swearing has its benefits.)

Which is why I love science fictional swearing.  You get to express your anger in a way that won’t lead to judgmental looks from those around you.

This cross stitch sampler is my love letter to the swears used throughout fandom.  The pictured sampler was stitched on white 14 count Aida cloth using two strands of floss.  Download the free chart by clicking on the download button below, or clicking here.

A white arrow over a white rectangle, both centered on a bright green circle.
Click here to get the PDF chart.

If you get your stitch and bitch on, please post a picture in the comments.  I’d love to see how it turns out for you.


This post originally appeared October 2, 2017.

Monday Motivation: I Had to Believe

While I was learning to work with clay, I made a lot of pots and had to believe that even if they were less than perfect the making of them was worthwhile and important.  To continue, I needed to find faith that the expression of my inner forms would become easier and that it had intrinsic value to me as a process of growth.  I had to believe that my vision and its pursuit were valuable to me and to those around me even though the world didn’t necessarily need more mediocre pottery.

—Rheya Polo, “Spinning from the Center—Creation & Transformation”

Snippet: Transylvania Community College

“You said to ‘kill my darlings.'”

“That’s not—!”  Prudella pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes.  “I didn’t mean literally.  It’s a saying.  It means to cut out those phrases you love.”

“Well, I didn’t know that!”

Prudella counted to four, took a breath and opened her eyes.  The ghoul sitting across the desk from her wore a wrinkled, pained expression, accented by the jagged scar that ran like a fissure across her face.  It was a toss up as to whether the ghoul was more concerned about the bodies in the wheelbarrow behind her or her grade in Fiction Writing 101.

“It’s okay.  A beginner’s mistake.”  Prudella pushed the box of tissues across the desk.  On the cubicle wall opposite a poster reminded her that that everyone at Transylvania Community College was there to help students succeed.

“What should I do?”

“Go over your manuscript again and bring it to the next class.  Oh, and maybe talk to Irving.  He’s a necromancer, I think.”

“The term is ‘resurrectionist,'” the ghoul said around her soggy tissue nose blowing.

“Do they?”  Prudella watched the ghoul maneuver her load between the adjunct professors’ cubicles and made a mental note to ask Irving at the next class what term he preferred.  Then she reminded herself she had another dozen Composition 101 papers to grade before her next student conference.  This week’s assignment had been “how-to” articles.   Already she’d read three point by point grave robbing tutorials.

“Back into the fray,” she sighed.  But first, coffee.


This post first appeared on October 15, 2015.

Sew Witchy: Finding an Agent

I am an example of the saying “There’s no road map to success.”  I posted earlier about how I wrote the proposal for my book Sew Witchy.  It was accepted by the first publisher I submitted to.  That’s not the way it usually works out and I found myself caught off guard.  Once I got over the surprise of Llewellyn Worldwide‘s acceptance, I realized I needed to get started on finding an agent.

I have experience with publishing contracts, but I wasn’t under any illusion that I would be able to negotiate a contract on my own.  Also, I want to have a writing career, and having an agent will help with that.  Finding an agent now would help with both those issues.  And, I figured, having a contract in hand would make it much easier to attract an agent.  So, much sooner than I had expected, I found myself once again engaging in caffeine-fueled Google searching.

Because of the complicated nature of the book, and my desire to have both a nonfiction and fiction career, I realized that potential agent pool was going to be limited.  I needed to find an agent who repped not only fiction, but also pagan nonfiction.  And if they had some experience with craft and/or sewing books, that would be a plus.  Sure, no big deal, right?

I started off hitting Publisher’s Marketplace and Agent Query.  Both allow you to search for agents based on their areas of interest.  I didn’t want to query people who repped general nonfiction, so I started off looking for agents who repped “New Age”. (That seemed to be the catch all for pagan/metaphysical/Wicca/etc.)  Of those agents I noted those who also repped fantasy authors/titles.  Remove the agents who weren’t accepting submissions and that left me with a list of sixteen to query.

I didn’t send off my queries right away.  I took time to research them online.  If they had websites I checked it out and looked to see who else they represented.  That often gives you a really good idea of who would be a good fit.  If they are representing books and authors that you enjoy or think you would enjoy, there’s a greater likelihood that you and the agent will get along.

The first few queries went like this:

I'm writing to you because Elysia Gallo at Llewellyn has expressed interest in my pagan craft book proposal and I am seeking an agent.  

Elysia has already pitched my proposal to the editorial department and they have said yes if I can provide them with suitable photographs.  They are suggesting a full color craft book, about 192 pages.  I will be sending them the photographs on Monday and they will be getting back to me about a week after that.

I have attached my original book proposal to this e-mail.  It is the one that I sent to Llewellyn.

If there is any other information you need, please feel free to email me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

After I had sent some out I realized I should add why I was querying the particular agent so I started to add a sentence along the lines of “I am approaching you because you have [expressed interest in / have sold] [New Age books / craft books/ etc.].” I also realized that I needed to make it clear in the subject header of the e-mails that this was a query for a book that had an offer already.

The following days were nerve wracking.  Every time my e-mail pinged I had to prepare myself for rejection.  I got a few of those at first.  In fact, when it was all said and done there were six rejections and seven non-responses.  I did, however, receive three interested responses, with two responding within hours of each other.  And this is where it got anxiety inducing.

Agent #1 responded first and wanted to know if Llewellyn was the only publisher I had approached.  Agent #2 responded second and wanted to talk on the phone.  I emailed a couple of times back and forth with Agent #1 where it became clear they thought that another, larger, publisher might be interested in the book.  This made me a bit uncomfortable.  I had done research and I really felt that Llewellyn was the right publisher for Sew Witchy, however agents have more experience and maybe this one knew something I didn’t.  It didn’t feel right to go looking for another publisher, though.

I made plans to talk to Agent #2 on the phone, despite the fact that phone calls ratchet up my anxiety.  I was willing to deal with it for this.  So Agent #2 and I talked on the phone and it was good.  She agreed with me that Llewellyn was the best publisher for this book.  We talked about how I wanted to build a career.  She told me my writing was good.  And at the end I squeaked out, “So, do you want to be my agent.” (Because I’m smooth like that.)  And she said yes.

This left me with Agent #1.  We had emailed back and forth, but I hadn’t said that I wanted to work with her, I had just answered her questions.  I wrote her a note saying that I had just signed with Agent #2.  Her reply was, paraphrased, “That’s odd, I thought we were going to work together.  Oh well, good luck.” That sent me down a spiral of, “Oh crap!  Did I just screw up?  Did I make her think we were working together?”  It took a bit of time for me to claw my way back up from that feeling, after people pointed out that no mention of a contract had been made.

Agent #3 had responded the day after I had talked with Agent #2 and I sent another “Thanks, but I just signed with someone else.”  They replied with a note of “Good luck!”  I imagine this is business for them all.  Sometimes authors go with other agents, that’s how it is.

When it’s all said and done, the agent I signed with, Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, is enthusiastic about my writing and doesn’t seem to be turned off by my supreme awkwardness.  And that is what I need right now.


This post originally appeared on April 26, 2018.