Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where'd He Go?

A sort of longish chapter tonight. Merle explains a bit of the time travel business to his new apprentice; Gwen becomes a damsel in distress, and Seamus gets into trouble... Intrigued? You should be. ;)

Seamus was either the brightest kid I've ever met, or the dumbest. The jury was still out. Still there was an air about him that I found charming. I hadn't brought many of my rookies to my home, let alone on the first lesson. But in order to keep this as off the trail as possible, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Toes in the Street

Short post is short, and also early. There are chicken and dumplings waiting for me at my mom's and nothing is keeping me from them.

Also, how'd you guys like my creature reveal? Haha, who was expecting something terrible and monstrous? Nope, sorry. You get goblins!

Amanda wasn’t sure what she should do.

There had been reported cases of unbound goblins and similar creatures roaming in packs and causing vandalism and injury. She’d even seen footage of what one lone goblin can do. They were vicious creatures when they remained unbound and unemployed.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Magic Beneath Your Feet: NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman

I haven't watched the BBC television series Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry, unless you count snippets seen on YouTube before I wrote this post, but I recently finished the novel and offer this advice: read the book first. While the show and the book follow almost identical plots, and dialogue comes out verbatim, your imagination deserves to roam through Gaiman's world without the limits of television sets, tight camera shots, and budgets. Following Gaiman's description in the novel, your imagination will create worlds rarely seen outside the lush colors and textures of a Tim Burton film, images I've never seen depicted on the small screen, even in the best productions.

Neverwhere: The Story
Richard's life is the perfection of mediocrity: job in securities, a beautiful and successful fiancee, mates at work, and a flat that has stray laundry only in some places. But then, late for a dinner date with his fiancee, he stumbles upon a girl, prone, covered in blood, layered in tattered clothes, and begging for safety.

She is Door, a dweller in London Below, a city beneath the city and home to all who've fallen through the cracks. After Door are two masterful assassins who take great pride in their work and plan to finish the job of exterminating Door's family.

Without a choice, Richard is pulled through the cracks, embroiled in London Below, and tromping around with nefarious company on a quest to return home to his London.

Neverwhere: My Thoughts
As a reader, I luxuriated in Gaiman's boundless creativity. As a writer, I poured over the lyrical language and fairy tale tone, which characterize all of Gaiman's books that I've read. The novel is a call to imagination. To originality. To daringness. It was a reminder of why I want to write, and it could be a textbook of damn good writing. There is sustained imaginative world building and character development; you never run out of surprises. The props that fill the world are unique, and some, like the engagement ring, are symbols that convey subtexts of abstract meaning, emotional significance, and internal conflict. The two Londons are peopled by characters I love and loathe, sometimes at the same time. There is a flowing, rather long denouement, during which a lesser writer might lose the reader, but not Gaiman. Neverwhere comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Expect a good time when you read Neverwhere. Also, expect to learn something about London.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How To Do Alone: Story Time!

S.Kemp in The Reading. Now showing at your local Library

Call it a hunch, but I’m going to say that all of you Fantastic Spatulans out there are readers. That being said, this HTDA is going to be pretty easy. We (you) are venturing out into the world of the public and we’re (you’re) going to the closest library. Going to the library may be standard fare for those spatulas who like to read but don’t like to put down the money for a new book every time you finish another. Then again, going to the library alone may not be standard for you. When was the last time you went to the public library by yourself? The Missoula Public Library is pretty fantastic. When I first moved to Missoula the library was like a second home. I used the free Wi-Fi and applied to jobs online, printed resumes from the computers named "Speedy" and "Zippy" and borrowed a lot of books, movies, and music. I went to the library for Mystery Story Night, Scrabble Monday, movie nights and other free events (which we will eventually get to doing alone). A library can be a good place to start doing things alone out in the world. Don’t worry we’ll get to bigger and noisier things soon enough.

What you need:
Just look at all those delicious books
  If you don’t have a library card, today is the day you’re going to get one. If you do have one, bring that sucka’.
♥ You can bring your laptop if you have one or a notebook and writing utensil if you want. Neither are strictly necessary but it’s nice to jot down the goings on at the library or maybe you don't have internet and would like to check your email... or post to Fantastic Spatula...
♥ You might need 90 cents to pay late fees accrued for the book Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald… just saying… it might happen.
♥ If you don’t know what book to check out you could ask a friend what they would recommend. You don’t have to have a book in mind but sometimes it’s a nice starting point.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thistles & Roses

I know you guys can't live without Merle. Or rather, Clara can't. (Okay, me either.) ;) So here he is. I apologize for the length, there was no way I could squeeze it any tighter! ...Hope you enjoy!

This kid was due any minute, and I wasn't the least bit prepared.

Arthur and I had parted ways after stepping onto the platform from the tube. We hadn't done much talking the rest of the way. I could tell by the clouds in his eyes that he had gone back in his head. Fine by me, he was still too spoiled for my tastes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Green Eyed Beast

This post is a bit longer than usual. I didn't want to push the creature reveal back another week but, thanks to Miss Lucy, there was a new character to introduce. So I just smooshed it all together. Yay!

So, the monster of Atlantis. Bet you didn't see this coming. And if you did... stop reading my mind!

For the first time in his long life, François felt a pang of jealousy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Beautiful Game

I tend to think of making magic as writing, painting, sketching, making music, dancing, or finding joy in the little things. I often overlook the magic of physicality, of using the body as an instrument. It is easy to sit at my desk all day working away on my own brand of magic while my body atrophies. I intend to wake early to exercise, but I fall prey to the seductive snooze button. In the last six months, if it wasn't for walking the dog, I'd resemble a pile of mashed potatoes (my favorite food) more than a Greek statue. 

But why does it matter? 

I am a firm believer in the unity of the person. One is not split between the physical and the mental/spiritual; we are one being, and our aches and pains, our endurance and confidence, influence our art. In many faiths the body is seen as a key part of devotion. Why should we ignore it in our quest to create?  

Get a look at those gams on right fullback Steve Cherundolo.
Photo by Adam Austin   

Yesterday, Adam and I went to see the US Men's National Soccer Team play against Jamaica in the Gold Cup quarterfinals. Cheering from the sidelines, I could see why it is called the beautiful game. The body control honed over years reminds me of a flutist controlling fingers, hands, arms, posture, and breath. The action of the field stirred people to pride, hope, and joy, all worthy aims, especially in art. 

Thoughts on pride, identity, heritage all sparked by sports.
Photo by Adam Austin 
The athleticism was a call to care for myself, to respect my body, and to find the magic in all areas of my life, not just the mental or spiritual. 

Do you ever have similar wake-up calls? I think those events or people who spark an improvement in others can be a form of magic. 

How do you care for the instrument that allows you to make magic? 

PS You can see more of the beautiful game when the Women's World Cup starts this Sunday, June 26. 

A Uke in the Juke(box)

The other week I mentioned theme songs. In the quest for new and awesome music I found Eddie Vedder's Ukulele Songs. I have to admit that I'm beyond impressed with Mr. Pearl Jam's talent. But I'll let you decide for yourselves. ;)

So- what do you think? I think there's a story in there somewhere... ;)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Making Magic: Daily

How do you keep track of your magic making? Do you even keep track? Do you have, say, a log of magic/mischief/projects? I don't. I do have several notebooks filled from spine to paper cut with ideas and makings and things I've written and doodled. I also have a day keeper with events and reminders of things I have to do, which I look at daily. But, how often do I return to those pages with my thoughts and scribblings and actually do something with all those ideas? I was thinking of making something sort of a Log or Day Planner for Crafting Things...  But do i really need another notebook... Ok, yes, I do.

I think, however, keeping track of magic making or writing or stories or projects is more than just writing things down in a notebook. It's a revisiting of ideas, a planning. Being organized... is not my strong suit. Granted I like cleaning things and having a place for those things I've cleaned. But how do you clean your ideas and where do you put them after they have been cleaned? I've decided (again) to go through "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. I got the book a long time ago but only made it through the first week before I got distracted or something else happened... like laziness or scaredycatness (yes, this is a word... maybe...) or the perfectionist syndrome kicked in.

So, Spatulans... how do you keep track of your progress of growing as an artist/writer/magic-maker? Do you write in a filofax or day planner? Do you have countless notebooks and journals? Do you have a giant calendar on your wall? Or do you have all of the above? Or do you have none of the above? Which ever way you roll (or hop or skip) where do you put your ideas and what do you do with them once they have been put?

p.s. I added to my previous HTDA post... just in case you were wondering what to do after you have some bottle caps.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Off the Books

 Another installement of Merle's Escapades. It seems like dealing with Arthur is actually less fun than paperwork. :)

Arthur was grumpy, even more so than usual I thought.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I've been putting a lot of research into this, probably more than I should. I tend to do that; I come up with elaborate details and then have to end up cutting them for the sake of clarity. So, you can thank me for not overwhelming you with all the stuff about Atlantis from Plato's works or all the historical jargon I could throw around. You're welcome.

“So, these people think they’ve found Atlantis?” Amanda asked over the roar of the truck’s engine.

“They think that, yes. There are a few similarities, but all evidence would suggest that this is just another Bronze Age city.” Charlotte kept her eyes on the road ahead, her voice was flat.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Adventures: On the Line

As part of my Summer Adventure series I decided to go and have my palm read by a psychic. What I've written below is a transcript of what happened. While it may not be verbatim, I tried to keep it as close to the original conversation as I could. Without embellishments, stretched or false truths! I had to leave a lot of what was said out, otherwise I knew some of you wouldn't read it all the way through. :)

Over all I had a very positive experience. She did try to get me to pay her to do some more in depth work, as you will read below, but I knew enough going into this to not fall for any scams. Also, for the sake of privacy, I will not be using the psychic's name. If you are interested in what real mediums are like and what they do, and also how to avoid being ripped off, I highly recommend checking out Erin Pavlina. I have truly enjoyed reading her blog for the past three years. With that said, I hope you enjoy this!

"Hello?" A smoky voice croaked out a greeting.
"Hi. Yes, I was calling to schedule a reading."
"Ah, yes, what time would suit you, dear?" The voice was smoky and the scent of incense and red wafted like smoke through the phone line.
"How about Saturday? About two o'clock?"
"That'd be fine dear, see you then." A hard clang of the receiver signaled the end of our conversation.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Female Elvis

Hey Fantastic Folks-

I'm veering from posting stories about Merle tonight to post something else that is deserving of the spotlight.

If you had asked me two months ago who Janis Martin was, I would not have been able to tell you. By chance I clicked on a friend's facebook status and quickly learned what I had missed out on. As it so happens,  I'd have to say that she is a local legend.

Then tonight Janis' granddaughter shared a video about a kickstarter project headed up by Rosie Flores. The project is to manufacture the last recordings of Janis' career which were made right before her passing in 2007.

After listening to some of her music and watching the videos I have come to the conclusion that they simply don't make them like Janis anymore. A talent of her caliber deserves to be remembered, shared, and above all- treasured.

While I know money is tight for a lot of us, it would be awesome if we could all pitch in a few dollars or spread the word. If you're interested in donating, or just learning more about Janis, check out the kickstarter page for more info.

Thanks in advance!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Hey guys, let me tell you, I'm seriously considering dropping all pretenses of a plot or story line and just writing little snippets about François. I adore this guy; you have no idea how much fun I have thinking up his dialogue and his mannerisms.

Of course, I won't do that, because I hope you all want to know what's going on at that dig site and I'd be an awful cad if I just dropped out right in the middle of a story. So, here we have them safely on dry land again and on their way to Atlantis (maybe).

François couldn’t have been less inconspicuous if he had tried.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Theme Songs

This past November I learned a lot about novel writing by participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. I will say this of NaNoWriMo: It ain't for sissies. I am not a person who does well under constraints- I like to have plenty of time and plenty of space to spread out and create. I need to make a mess! Then I can worry about tidying up.

One of the more interesting things I learned had nothing to do with the technical side of the writing process, but more of an idea to keep your mind in tuned with your story. That idea was to create a playlist for each character or big event to play in the background while you viciously attacked your keys. I usually keep music playing all the time anyway, so making up playlists wasn't that big of feat.

Then come this weekend, Clara and I were on our way back from seeing "X-Men First Class" (good flick, btw!), when Queen came on the radio.

If you have never been in the company of either Clara or myself when a Queen song comes on, well, you just have never lived. It's quite a spectacle, to be sure.

This time wasn't any different. We flailed, we squealed, we cranked it up until her poor Jeep's speakers could take no more, and properly head banged it out to Bohemian Rhapsody.

Once we'd had our fill of brain-sloshing we talked about our Queen theme songs. Ever since high school, one song still remains my favorite. In that moment I realized, if I were a character in a story, this would be it.

Freddie Mercury, you speak the truth!

So friends, if you were a character in a novel- what would your theme song be?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How to do Alone: Bottle Cap Craft Night

First: Fantastic Spatula got a shout out on Trista Hudzik Reynolds blogger. You should check it out if you haven't already. Second: This "How To Do Alone" is about Staying In. I know, I know. Staying In is probably the easiest thing to do alone. You might add that Staying In is probably easier than walking alone. Probably easier than reading alone. Even easier than breathing... alone? Yeah? Well, just hold your single solitary horse and let me tell you this isn't just any alone night in. We're not vegging out in front of a movie tonight. No, no. Tonight we're having craft night and we're making bottle cap magnets. And by "we're" I mean "you... alone"... Got that?
What You Need: Six pack of bottle caps (or someone who drinks beer in bottles or soda [aka pop] in bottles), Old magazines, Scissors, Anything small that will fit inside a cap like beads or sequin, Glue (for glueing things inside the cap and a stronger glue for gluing the cap to the magnet, Magnets (You can use old magnets or buy new ones for pretty cheap at a craft store), Music of your choice.

What to do: Now that you have your bottle caps handy you might be sloshed if you drank the six pack of beer your self... or suffering from an hugeungous sugar buzz if you drank coke (aka soda/pop). Whatever, power through. This is an alone night in and we (you) are making bottle cap magnets, dagumit! We (you) are going to use one of the caps to trace around images in the magazines. Cut out whatever you like. You might also find images that you really like that are way to big for a bottle cap. Cut them out anyway and save them. You can use them later to make cards or a collage or something. After tracing the images cut them out. See? Easy as pie alone.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday Sun

OK. It is beautiful in Missoula today. The first seriously beautiful day in a long time. I have no excuse whatsoever to be indoors. So, I'm going to make things short and sweet and hope that you will forgive me the brevity. I'll make up for it on Sunday. Enjoy :)

(photo source unknown. my sister's boyfriend sent this to me ages ago and I think it wins. period.)

Friday, June 3, 2011


Day late. Dollar short. Sounds like my kind of week- here's More Merle, as requested. ;)

Chapter: The Mysterious Magda

I didn't have to look at Arthur to see the look of disgust on his face. I saw it plainly in the reflection of the train car window. He liked taking the tube about as much as I like meeting in places of ill repute. He wasn't too thrilled when I mentioned Magda.
"How are you going to get this new protege of yours to show up on your doorstep anyhow?" I watched as our mirrored images carried on the debate without us.
"Easy. You say that he lives in the converted parish, right? The one on Huckle Street?"
"Yeah, yeah. That's the one, sceevy little place. Gives me the heebs." He scratched at an invisible bug on his chin.
"Well, that's right next to me and Magda's old place. I'll be there in plain view when he's on his way home today."
"Oh god. You and Magda again. Seriously, Merle how'd you ever fancy a girl as strange and weird as that one? She's a little off the charts in the batty department." I glared, his wife wasn't much of a catch either.
"Magda might not be a little 'off the charts', but she's never once cheated on me or left me high and dry. When was the last time Gwen was home?"
"Alright, alright. I see your point." He sighed and went back to his silent brooding for a moment.
"Just one question though." Oh god, I knew the silence was too good to last.
"How, considering the time constraints, did you and Magda manage to build a house together?" Chuckling wasn't the response he was hoping for.
"Boy, there are some things about this universe that you'll never learn. And that secret is one of them."