i blog. sort of.

i blog. sort of.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

happy halloween!

a neighborhood swing demon
Swing demons are big in our neighborhood this year.  Must be because Costco had skeletons on sale in September . . . . but what ever the reason, people have definitely gotten creative!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Jackson's cemetery

old stone, Jackson cemetery
Even before I jumped from the silver Tundra I could hear them--ravens, cawing from perches high in the pines.  The trees dot the hillside in a patternless scatter, growing thicker as the hill climbs to meet forest.  From the undergrowth, the sounds of chuckers rise to mingle with the raven's chilling cries.

I immediately thought of Poe.

Jackson's cemetery is like none I've seen.  Overgrown, and with headstones planted during the wild west, it invites exploration.  Most of its residents are laid to rest within defined plots outlined by stone or brick or old rod-iron fencing.  And the plots don't disappoint; most have an eerie, human-length hump of weed covered dirt rising from their center.

a plot among the pines
 There are many old ranchers buried in the cemetery, and many who fought during World War I and II.  You can't step three feet in any direction without meeting up with a headstone or burial plot, but the cemetery doesn't feel creepy.  Something about the uniqueness of each grave invites attention; the owner's personality and style seem to hang in the air.  And the day I visited was perfect: an awesome mix of pleasant shade and sun and autumn grass. 

a tombstone sculpture
The cemetery reflects one of the things I love most about Jackson Hole: it's intriguing blend of beautiful land, unique residents and art.  Jackson proper is terribly touristy, yes, but it sits in perhaps the most beautiful valley in the world.  The Tetons border the west and a broad elk preserve skirts the east.  Driving between the two will take you from Jackson to the east entrance of Yellowstone and along the way, there are buffalo, elk, moose, deer and the occasional bear.

a cemetery resident's view--distant Tetons on the horizon
The cemetery is no stranger to wildlife, as the various forms of *ahem* scat and pellets will attest.  Though I wouldn't want to wander about the place at night (the unpredictable plots would have their way with you, for sure), Jackson's cemetery was well worth the visit--especially on a warm sunny day in October.

cemetery residents, resting in peace

Monday, October 20, 2014

favorite headstone quotes II

Jackson cemetery, Wyoming

"She went a mile north, and turned right" is another of my favorite headstone quotes.  I have no idea what it means, but I don't care.  I love it.  Whenever I think of it I find myself dwelling on all the possible explanations for why such a seemingly random statement ended up as the message this woman (or her family, I suppose) chose to leave to the world. 

But I'll make a small confession here and state that the primary reason behind why I love this quote is that it reminds me of one of the many 'inside jokes' my husband and I have created over the years.  The one I'm thinking of is 'heading south,' which is something we often say when we forget things--like when either one of us walks into a room and then can't remember why we're there.

So someday, when I'm long gone, should you wander across whatever mark my daughter chose to leave the world to know me by, don't be surprised if under my name she's had carved:  "She headed south and decided to stay."

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I love cemeteries.  They're peaceful, for one thing.  And I learn a lot.  Many of my character's names come from names I've seen on headstones.  Some of my ideas grow from cemeteries ... I began pondering the universe after seeing a stone that instead of saying 'loving mother' or 'loving wife' listed the deceased's mantra: "Screw guilt, embrace the universe."

Listing the philosophy by which we live our lives should be required on our gravestones.  It's a parting gift to mortality, and it's cool.  I've long forgotten the name of whoever said 'screw guilt, embrace the universe', but her words live on in me, and others, and inspire.

Little statues, however, are another thing.  Cemetery statues terrify me.  Stone babies and angels and lambs and children.  I find them right creepy, for some reason.  This one, with its hollow-looking eyes and wearing a pair of purple children's socks, seems more fitting for a horror movie than a token of comfort.

But that's just me . . . . 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

on book trailers . . . .

painted leaves

So when I was making the book trailer for Painted Boots, I went through about 7000 ideas before I settled on what you see on YouTube.  I had a grandiose vision.  It was my first book trailer (and yes, so far my only, though not for lack of ideas.  Just for lack of time.)  I love stop-motion animation and I was going to draw out the whole trailer, photographing it one little ink stroke at a time, then put it all together.  iMovie crashed when I tried loading all those pics.

Then I had another brainstorm: painted leaves!  I painted a bunch of leaves and moved them around, painstaking eighth-inch by eighth-inch, so that they would seem to blow in the wind, revealing words and stuff about Painted Boots.  Again, it was stop-motion animation and again, I crashed iMovie with all the pics.

I went up to my local Apple store to complain.  What was I doing wrong?  The guys were nice, but they didn't have much iMovie experience themselves, and they weren't much help except to say, "uh, your file size on those pictures is huge'.  I changed to low-resolution, and found I could load about three hundred images before my iMovie crashed.  So one fine sunny morning, I set up my camera on a tripod in the woods and began carving into a big old aspen tree.  Not all of the pics would load into iMovie, which was a drag, because beyond the heart I had carved an endless amount of flourish and it was very cool.

But I had enough for my first book trailer ever.  It no longer had to be perfect.  It just had to communicate.  I think it worked out fine, and lately, I've been feeling the inspiration to make a trailer for BEING.  But in the meantime, if you are wondering how it all turned out for Painted Boots, you can view it on my Goodreads page.  Or just click here.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Carl Sagan

We all have heroes.  I have two, and one of them is Carl Sagan.  The things I love about Carl are endless.  He made science digestible.  He wrote--both grants and novels.  He created the original 'Cosmos' (and hats off to you, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, for the awesome remake of that series).  He inspired us to think beyond ourselves and our borders ... his vision embraced the stars.  Carl Sagan was an insightful thinker and a realistic dreamer.  I collect his quotes wherever and whenever I come across them.

I love sci-fi, as many of you know, and right now I'm knee-deep in writing not one, but two:  Goodbye Moon (which I've since renamed, but I'll reveal the new name in a bit) and The Seeds Project Interviews.  Seeds is such a cool book I can hardly stand it.  In fact now that I've mentioned it, my brain wants to get back to work.

So I'll leave you with one of my many favorite Carl Sagan quotes:
"For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love."

*sigh* Those words make me weep.