Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Under the Stars

I've spent so much of my time on Earth scribbling stories, sometimes it's nice just to take a break and bask under the stars. Super grateful for my husband Alex, who has journeyed with me through life and supported my crazy ink quests for our last 8 years together!


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Worth the Telling

I feel like I've gone into hibernation mode a little bit with the failing of the light. North Dakota winters get very cold, dark, and deadly icy, and I'm not sure I will ever get used to that. So I'm trying to concentrate on the bare essentials of what I want to get done before 2022 hits the calendar. I'm aiming to have at least two fully revised Agent Regalia chapters finished.  

But sometimes, I feel like I'm all out of me. Stories, inspiration, even a single word worth the telling, all hollowed out and gone. And that's okay . . . really, it is! Some days, it's time to relinquish the quill and just listen. To take in the world, family and friends, the gemmed shine of someone else's creativity pinning itself against the shadows like a tiny sequin star. 

I think it also helps to nurture both the body and the imagination, which is why I am thrilled to have stumbled upon the elegant ambiance of this local Victorian-themed teahouse and cafe. I do so love any excuse to dress up fancy!

Soiree Victorian Tea Room

Friday, October 15, 2021


Sometimes petals are set in stone, sometimes the wind carries them away. Stories fly free of the page, but we can't say where they will fall or if they will grow. We just keep etching our hearts out and inking again.


Thursday, September 2, 2021

September Goals


Hurrah for September! It's my b-day month, and the SCBWI Dakotas 2021 Fall Conference is coming up soon. Assuming I can free my hand from cat hugs, I plan to send Bad Species off on the sea of submissions in a few weeks. I think it's been at least FIVE years since I've tried querying a novel, and I'm honestly kind of excited to see where my stories take me now . . . until I hit the reefs of rejection! I'm ready. 

I've been sharing poems I wrote a long time ago on Wattpad for fun, and I think this one suits my mood perfectly:

The Swallowtail

 Undaunted by the scorner’s scoffs,

The nosy earwig, or the multi-pedian

Myriapods of discontent—


Believed in flying.

 Her essence distilled in threads,

Tender-binding, silken strands

That wrapped her plump, ember-body

Round and true (As a seed).

 Moon and sun orbited her cocoon,

Stars trailed by in a milky gauze;

A new world evolved within a Word.

At last,

Lucency called her out.

So, leaving the ground behind

For the bliss of air-spent ways—

 She gave her grace to wings.



Sunday, August 22, 2021

What Emily knew about pearls


Iffy Magic book trailer art

Time to get real, folks. I recently tallied my grand total earnings as a self-published author . . . around $400 dollars. Not even close to clearing the cover art, illustration and other costs. And then there are all the years I invested into writing each book to consider.

Do I regret embarking on this journey? Absolutely . . . not! The experience has been both precious and painful.

Becoming a self-published author has forced me to confront so many personal limits, like my understanding of how to format, edit, and revise, and experiment with cultivating an online presence. I'm naturally an introvert, but I am working on branching out of my comfort zones, and learning from fabulous fellow writers. I joined SCBWI in 2018 and absolutely love my local chapter! I'm amazed at how much I glean from all of their different writing styles, and I deeply value their critiques of my work. 

While I may continue the self-publishing route in the future, I'm currently getting projects ready to submit to agents and editors again. All my experiences have molded me into a very different writer from the girl who first sent out her stories on the sea of submissions. I really didn't understand the power of revision fifteen years ago, five years ago, even still today. I don't think I will EVER stop learning how to revise! 

For in the wise words of Emily Dickinson, "We play at Paste till qualified, for Pearl."

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Star Quill

 Garden Bounty!

I've been dealing with some health problems since June that are quite frankly kicking my butt . . . but I'm trying to rally myself like my beloved literary heroine, "Hattie" from Barbara Cooney's Hattie and the Wild Waves. Whenever she fell ill, she threw herself into her painting and artistry while sequestered in bed. I'm trying to claw back my creativity and seize the star quill when I can!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Chasing the Jabberwock

2021 is almost halfway done, and where am I with all my vaguely creative endeavors? Tally time:

*I wrote a children's story at the beginning of the year, A Very Quiet Monster, which I sent off on submission to a few places. 

*I published True Gossamer! I adore the whimsy Bonnie Bishop's illustrations bring to the fairy story.

*I'm currently reworking the draft of my MG scifi novel, Bad Species, and plan to submit a manuscript sample to the SCBWI A. Orr Grant on May 31st because dreams are good for me but deadlines are even better (for sharpening my revision powers!)

*I'm signing up for the 50th SCBWI Summer Conference today, so that should be inktacular fun!

*In June I start writing Agent Regalia exclusively. I've been tinkering with the plot and characters, and it's finally time to throw myself into the story head over heels. My working motto for that story is: "Keep it weird. Keep it wondrous."

*I still need to record half of my Iffy Magic episodes for my YouTube audio adventure Seraphina Saphhira Says. And then it will be time for the dragon dreams of Foxkit and Aerohim . . .

In my twenties, I would have allowed myself to get mired in discouragement when my writing ambitions failed to materialize on my pre-imagined schedule of literary brilliancy. But now that I am just a couple years shy of forty, I don't have time for extended wallowing! Yeah I'm already too tired for that. 

I'm writing because I want to and for no other rational reason. Sure, I get depressed sometimes when I can tell my writing stinks and needs revision, but . . . I don't lose hope for long anymore. I slog through the sentences and try to remember the ultimate power of the Jabberwocky!

Lewis Caroll's nonsense poem "The Jabberwocky" is a magnificent experience, but diced into individual lines, the reader would never be able to grasp the overall crazy vision and splendorous thrill of the work. So I remind myself that I'm chasing my own Jabberwock every time I pursue perfection in my weird and wondrous beast of a draft, that "manxome foe!" 


True Gossamer Art by Bonnie Bishop

So don't give up, my fellow sesquipedalians! And if you need some sparklestarsome inspiration, enjoy this lyrical interpretation of the Jabberwocky by Erutan.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Illustrator's Interview with Bonnie Bishop

Today, I am thrilled to bring you an interview with the illustrator of True Gossamer, the splendiferous Bonnie Bishop!

What drew you to Gossamer’s story?


When I was asked if I’d like to illustrate Gossamer’s story, I was given a draft with a bunch of picture suggestions. The draft was well written and as layered as any children’s book I’ve read. Gossamer was a fun character I could get behind. The suggestions for the pictures made sense. But there were two picture suggestions whose impressions stuck in my head and wouldn’t go away.


First I should explain: I don’t “see images” in my head a lot. It’s hard for me to imagine beforehand what something might look like in picture form. And if I do get an image of artwork, I often can’t replicate it (although I hope to get to that level someday). What commonly drives me to draw an image is a strong sense of what feeling I want to convey with it. Often when I begin with these impressions, I’m more fond of the pictures I make because they start to make sense as I work them out on the page.


The first Gossamer picture suggestion that inspired me was the description of the cover. It read: “A girl standing with her back to us. She has a long black braid with a huge sky blue ribbon tied to it that almost makes it look like she has floppy wings.” With that description, I got the impression of wind on my face while looking up at the sky. I felt like it’d be a morning sky and spiraling clouds. … Ultimately when I went to draw it I made changes that I think better suited the end result, especially given the need to leave room on the image for the title and other words.


The second suggestion that inspired me was the lake picture. Its description read: “Gossamer in tiny gondola sailing over moonlit pond lined by cattails.” With that description, I felt a sense of calmness. The kind I get when I’ve gone for long walks along nature paths or when I’ve sat on the beach near my city or a lake further inland.  I even smelled a bit of the watery smell you get when you’re so close to those places: not salty but watery like rain.



If I didn’t use those impressions to make the images for the book I might have done so in my own personal art — that’s how strong the impressions were.  But the writing was so colorful, and I felt like even if this was outside my range of experience I could manage it. So I said to the impression of Gossamer in my head, “Let’s do this.” I then sent my affirmation to you.


What picture was your favorite to illustrate, and why?


My favorite to illustrate was, honestly, the lake picture. It was actually the first one I worked on for this book. I mean, I usually don’t have detailed backgrounds in my personal stuff. But the description for that one was so simple and calm, and I’m a sucker for night time and lakes and quiet scenes — that kind of hit all the marks. Because her pose and form were so simple, it let me really focus on the background.


In comparison, the pictures I struggled most with were the ones with multiple fairies. Getting all the dynamics right and making the poses make sense (especially with the fairies lifting Gossamer) was a real challenge. Though I love how they all turned out in the end.



How do you nurture your creativity as an artist?


If we’re talking about just finding inspiration, that’s the easy part. It’s no secret that inspiration is easy to come by when you’re a nerd like me. I used to be an avid book reader. Graphic novels, manga, and webcomics are some of the media I indulge in now. I watch a lot of anime, cartoons, sci-fi shows, crime shows, documentaries, Let’s players, and movies. I also watch a lot of artist speed draws and various streams. I play video games of all shapes and sizes. When it was a bit more pleasant to go out in public, I was (and in the future still will be) a frequent visitor to the Yale Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art. They’re my favorite places to go when I need to chill and get out of the house. Heck, any museum is a pleasure for me to explore.


In terms of actually doing art? That’s a harder question to answer. I mean, art is hard. Writing is hard. Everything in the creative sphere is hard. It’s even harder when you look at all the amazing things that other people have created, especially if you happen to have the kind of talented friends I do. 


I have a few theories about what keeps me creating. One thing is my oddly competitive spirit. I mean, I don’t want to actually compete against other artists. That’s just silly. But I DO want to know I CAN do something — if that makes sense. I like to look at what other artists are doing and see if I can absorb their stylistic elements. Not copy, just get more artistic knowledge in my arsenal. Another reason I create is that I have too many thoughts in my head that just need to get out before I can focus. I have a lot of ideas. A LOT of ideas. Sometimes too many things are going through my head and I don’t know where to begin, but other times I just need to get it out in some way, even if it’s ranting to my friends about the things in my head. But my strongest motivation is because while creating is hard, the end result just feels so nice.  I like looking at the art I’ve done (even I do notice a ton of flaws in it). I like reading the stories or poems I write (even if there are typos I only find in the fifth re-read or think of a better way to word things after two re-reads). While it was a struggle getting there, for the past 9 years or so I’ve found I like what I make and that’s a reason to continue. Even if the creating is hard the end result is worth it.


If you could choose any artist (past or present) to paint your portrait, who would it be and why?


That’s a hard question, not because there are too many choices but because I don’t want someone to do my portrait. I’ve been weird about my own images getting out there for public viewing. If I had the chance to commission someone to do art for me though, I have a few people I definitely would commission. I’ll give you the top four. Three of whom I might ACTUALLY commission if I gain the money to do so (and they are open for it) at whatever point.


The first would be Van Gogh. I don’t even have a prompt for him, I just want to see what he’d choose himself and watch him sculpt the painting from the ground up. I say sculpt because if you EVER see any of his paintings in real life there’s a 3D element to it that’s just breathtaking. The paint literally pops off the page in his pictures and the layers of colors is just exquisite. The second would be Don Maitz. His fantasy art is just perfect, especially his dragons. Words cannot express how much I adore his dragons. He also tends to use such vivid colors, and I want to learn how he does what he does. If I commissioned him it would definitely be dragons-based, because not only do I love dragons, but his are just my style.


The third would be Dorothy Hall who used to live upstairs from me. My mom already owns some pieces of hers but that woman has a range of art that is exceptional. I don’t know what I’d commission her to do exactly. I’d probably see if there’s any media she’s been experimenting with and go from there. But I’ve always admired her work.


The fourth would be an artist named Wenqing Yan also known as Yuumei online. Her style is a mix of anime and painting that just warms my soul. I honestly don’t know what I would ask her to do specifically but honestly anything she creates would probably be something I’d like.


Where can people find your art?


I have a few places I post things to under the name “Ragond.” My website spiritsinc.weebly.com is a good place to jump from since I have it linked to all the social media I use, and the navigation can lead you not only to my galleries but things with my art you can purchase online (including our book).  You can follow my tumblr page ( ragond.tumblr.com ), although I tend to put my more finished pieces on my deviantart ( ragond.deviantart.com ). Trying to get into Instagram but tumblr is far more comfortable to me.


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

New Book Release! True Gossamer

I am thrilled to announce the release of True Gossamer: A Wingless Fairy Tale!


When a fairy who can’t fly catches a falling star, she can only make one wish. Join Gossamer on her quest for wings as she learns some wishes are bigger than the sky!

Wings are the pride of every fairy. No hawk can swoop faster than a fairy in flight. No hummingbird flickers brighter. But Gossamer was born without wings, the only fairy in Evergloss Forest who couldn’t fly. 

Inside look:

A toad popped its head out of a puddle near Gossamer’s feet. “Wings don’t make a fairy real,” the toad said, “any more than slime makes a slug.”

 “Then what does?” Gossamer demanded.

“You already know the answer,” the toad replied. “You just haven’t asked yourself the right question.”


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Coming Soon! Sparkle tidbits

So I am really excited to be sharing my very first children's story in March. It's been many years in the making . . . True Gossamer: A Wingless Fairy Tale.


Stay tuned for sparkly story tidbits, and an interview with my fabulous illustrator, Bonnie Bishop!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Secrets of the Wordle


Word cloud (Wordle) for my current story, Bad Species. Oh my sparklestars, it is such a horrible draft! I am two chapters away from finishing the dang thing.

I kind of feel like it is the worst draft of the best story I have ever imagined. Hopefully, I can get it right eventually!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Remove the Orange Rogue

I took this picture many years ago at Washington DC. This is my flag. Not confederate. Never Trump banners.