Monday, August 11, 2014

Seeking the signature


A couple nights ago, my sister and I decided to take a stroll late at night through the alfalfa field out under the stars. The moon wasn't out like in this picture. So it was dark.
In the west the clouds were building up with random flashes of lightening. Above us the stars shown brightly, and every once in a while we saw a shooting star.
It was one of those beautiful dark nights where we couldn't really see the next step ahead to walk, but we could see the sky, and the stars, so we weren't afraid, we knew where we were, and that we wouldn't get lost. 

My sister and I talked a lot, mused a lot, philosophized a lot. We do that a lot. We talked about ourselves, our unconventional lives, the fact that we love our freedom, and creative time we have open to us--with only ourselves to deride us if we fail or succeed. 

It was a good talk. 
As we looked up at the stars I was again reminded how vast the creator is, and how small our man-made plans, houses, and goals are. 

Then I began to wonder what it was that God wanted us to see when we looked at his creations, the sky, the ocean, the stars?  Did he want me to feel less than nothing when I compared myself to the vast universe of his creations? 

No. I don't believe he wanted me to feel less, nor for us us to look at his handiwork and feel depressed, or estranged to him---but connected, and reminded of the part of ourselves that he created. The part that is just as timeless and fixed and bright as the stars. And that by looking up and remembering, everything that wasn't apart of that timeless eternal greatness would fall away.

That is what I see when I see the stars. 

As a artist, and writer, I see why the creator doesn't jump out of the masterpieces he makes, grabs us, shakes us, and says, "Do you see my work?"

No. He won't do that. He respects us too much.
If the creator is a creative, and I know that he is, one thing a creator never must do is be in your face, saying, "SEE, here I am again, ta da!"

No. I don't think the creator works like that.

Honestly, as an author, I want every word I write to be mean something, to reflect something within me. I know that my words aren't me, that they will be imperfect like me. But deep down, I want the things I create to mean something.

And I think that's what the creator does too, his handiwork is everywhere. His creations aren't him, but they reflect bits and pieces of who he is. Deep down, I think we all want him to overtake us by his fantastic glory, but I believe he cares about our agency far too much to do that. Besides, when's the last time you went to an art show and enjoyed having someone shove a piece of art in your face.

 I think we need space to enjoy good art. Space to see, space and choice to decide if we like what we see---and if we want to see more. I think the creator wants us to see his work. But he won't shove it in your face. And when we see his creation, we see a glimpse into what and who he is. 

As an artist, writer and creative person, I know it would be really bizarre for me to plaster my name over a painting letting it bong out so that everyone can see that this is who made this interesting piece of art. Drum roll please. Yes. In the books I write it would be just as silly to write an author alert message into the story ***** beep, beep, be beep,**** this is the author Stephanie speaking, how do you like this book so far?***hello. I know you are there. Why don't you say anything?***
A message like this would jolt the reader out of the book, making making you, the reader aware of me, but not in a good way. To do this would garner irritation, annoyance, and the reader would probably put the book down, and look elsewhere.
I think the creator knows this. 
He could be bold.
He could be fantastically bold.
He could have his name plastered over every creation. Every miracle, every drew drop, every profound shaft of light that we grasp hold of. But out of courtesy, he does his work quietly, beautifully, perfectly, then, in a small obscure corner, he signs his name, and lets us find him. I believe he does this not to be invisible to us, but so that we may have to look deeper, search harder, so that when we find out who the maker is, we value what we have found even more.

I remember my sister bought a beautiful hand-crafted metal object second hand. She wanted to find out who the maker was, but there was no stamp, no way to track it back to who made it. So she couldn't find out where it had come from. This made her think deeply about making sure she had a stamp, a signature on the things she made, so that those who buy her creations can find the creator.
 Because without a mark, a stamp, a signal, the creator would be lost to us.

Sometimes I feel like I can't find the stamp or signature, no matter how long and hard I've searched, and have ended up lost.  But most of the time when I feel like this, it's because I was looking for his signature in all the wrong places, in artificial man-made objects, in people that were just as plastic, and future goals that had no substance to them. I wanted His signature to be on something it was never on on in the first place.

I think the creator wants us to find him. His signature is there, always, even though it may be hard to find among all the fake replications, and through the clutter of opinion, it's there. He wants us to come looking. We must collect these signatures, like a art-savvy collector, look deeper, think broader, and seek the creator in every blade of grass, every leaf, every thing that is good, true, and beautiful, even in yourself.  His signature is in you. It is up to us to search out that unique, special, timeless part of ourselves that can't be artificially made or produced, only nurtured, and carefully tended. In that special something we will find our passion, our purpose, our reason for being. And hopefully, if we don't get in the way, maybe what we do, in some small way, even in our imperfect state, can point to the creator who created us, and to his signature. 

As an author, I cannot reach out and know each one of my readers personally, just because they may read my books. But if they know my name, they can search, find, and contact me, and then I can contact them because I know they did their homework, and want to find out more---that they liked my books, and appreciated what they contained.
It makes me feel very happy when someone takes the time to say thank you, or to notice the effort, time and dedication I put into something. It makes me want to thank them even more than they thanked me.

Likewise I think the creator is happy when we notice, when we look, and say thank you.
Even when we notice some small thing, I believe he is glad.

I believe true artists don't go searching for compliments for their creations, because to create, to call in to being, is who they are, it is what makes them them, and they create regardless if anyone appreciates what they do. 
But oh, when someone takes time to really look, to wonder, and enjoy, and seek out the creator in thanks, it is very nice. And more often than not, that simple thanks opens the doors to more beautiful creations to be bestowed, and appreciated.

No true artist who feels appreciated will leave the appreciator unappreciated. 
I remember writing letters dozens of famous artists. In the letters I wrote, I appreciated their artwork, and asked them what made them--the artists, successful. Then I sent the letter and waited. 
I had no idea what to expect, or if they'd even write back.

I was blown away when the mailbox was flooded with replies. Some sent thank you cards, others sent small copies/prints of their work, others sent little booklets and really heartfelt letters back, some even invited me to visit if I ever made it their way.
This I never forgot.
It really astonished me. The simple act of just telling them that I thought their artwork was beautiful, that I appreciated them garnered so much more than I ever expected. 

Here I thought because of who they were, they'd never take the time to even notice me, and my little notes. But I was wrong.

Thankful.
Noticing the small things.
Seeking the signature, who made it? 
Appreciation.
Looking deeper.

These things are so very important, and I often forget to look for the signature. I think human nature tents to want signatures written in bold, italics, with a glowing halos around it, and hundreds of spectators to witness it. Then I we can notice. Then we can appreciate. Then we can say, oh yes, there is what we have been looking for. 
That is our miracle we can appreciate.  

As humans we collectively like to place our stamp on things, and claim or dismiss the object of our focus together, regardless of whose signature is on it. On facebook we see only the post that has a hundred likes on it. We miss the quiet profound post that goes unnoticed. In music, in art, in everything we push together in masses, reaching for that, grasping for this, clapping together when something pleases us, or is pushed to the top by chance.
 But rarely do we stand with the one who stands alone. Rarely do we look to the voice that has a different opinion than ourselves. We move together in masses trampling so much good, by going after what one small better.
 All the while the thing we are looking for is not on top.
Not even on the bottom. 
But apart. The cream has been separated elsewhere.
The berries on one bush may be picked clean, but if you stepped away, stopped grasping, you might see that there's a lot more bushes. You need only step back.
 In lonely corridors, in ones, in twos, and without much fanfare. Silent. This is where the magic happens. Just as only one reader can read a book. The creators creations are enjoyed on more personal levels, far way from the crowds, the buildings, the noise, the commotion.

While seeking the master for the great flashes of inspiration,  the lightning bolt of knowing, and the deafening rumble of the thunder, that demands we hear, we miss the glory of silent things that speak in ways that rattle, not our eardrums, but touches our heart. We dismiss ordinary because we have not looked at the unique signature under the treads, where the soul lies. 
I think the creator has many paths, many avenues of light, and possibilities as numerous as his creations for our lives. We need let go of wanting to control everything, to let his all-knowing be enough. 

He is in the details of our life. On every page, in every chapter. He is there. There may be ellipses, page breaks, tab marks, long blank pages, misspellings, typos, imperfections. The story may even veer far from what you planned. You may get writers block. You may feel like nothing you put on those pages matter. You may feel lost, like the characters are never going to make it, that the wise person in your story doesn't exist, and that you have no purpose, that the dragon in your story is too big, that you, the hero may give up.
  
Don't give up.
Look for the creator's signature, you can be co authors of a very beautiful book called your life. 
True artists make imperfections assets, and crumpled edges works of art. If you don't write perfectly, write with passion. 
If you don't know what to write next, wait.
Listen.
Don't be in a hurry.
Maybe the point is not so much where we end up, or if our story ends well. But if we were true to the signature, the truth that is in us, that we look up and live in thanks. 



Just some rambling thoughts, I've been thinking---more to remind myself than anyone.
Signed, 
Steph

P.S Below is a collection of sunsets I've taken over the summer. A lot of them were pretty fantastic do to the fact that there have been so many fires in the area. Another reminder that beauty can even come from smoke.


















































Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It began in 2008 and now it's finally finished!

Okay, I've been waiting a long time to make this official. I'm super excited to announce that my book, The Last Summoning is officially out and available! This whole series started out in 2008, and today, I can finally say that this series, through its ups downs, twists and turns is finally at a close. The quest is finished! I want to thank again all who've stuck with me through it all. Thank you!

As a way to celibate, I'm giving my book away FREE today via smashwords only. If you want a free copy, download here. If you like it, please leave a review. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/455849

Also if you want to get the book elsewhere, I've posted the links below for ebooks, ibooks, and paperback versions.

  For those of you not following the series, I've been told that could can stand alone. I'm not sure if this is true, but I guess that's up to you. 

Here's the back cover blurb. 
The End has Come. The Drought has been released. The shadows double. The nights are darker. The days shorter. The last battle of light and darkness, of fire and ice has come. Hold fast to your torch please, and do not let it go out. This book is the darkest tale yet. The last of the last. The end of the end. The sum total of our journeys together. Would that this darkness had never gotten hold---that it had never found a home in the hearts of men. But it is here, lingering like a disease or a virus overpowering the weak, consuming the light that once was, but now will never be. Darkness, oh the woeful word. How it lingers and clutches. And I, a lowly Twisker, now have a part to play in this grand story. I must ring an ancient, powerful bell, one that will reawaken a world, to give hope to the hopeless. And me the most hopeless of all. How cunning fate is. How just to bad creatures who deserve much worse. Please, do not forget all that I have written. I do not want to be forgotten, nor those whom I write bout. I fear I will not come back from this journey alive. But after the awful things I have done, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yours very humbly, and sincerely, For the last time, Gogindy, Twisker of the Dandelion Den
My little brainchildren
Look what came in the mail yesterday!!!!
Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Summoning-Andrew-Orions/dp/1490518525/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1407334504&sr=8-1

itunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/last-summoning-andrew-quest/id897163665?mt=11 

Barnes & Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-last-summoning-andrew-and-the-quest-of-orions-belt-ivory-autumn/1119956772?ean=2940046058765

Kobo
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-last-summoning-andrew-and-the-quest-of-orion-s-belt-book-four




Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hot summer months and moth kisses


Beautiful side road I stopped at

Raining in the sky
Greetings from the exceedingly hot, sweltering land from which I live---the desert, where it gets very hot, and very cold and very windy. And that's pretty much it.

 
Outside, it's so humid, so hot, so sticky that everything feels quiet, subdued, and tired, as if the heat is weighing everything down.

The plants dare not grow.
The grass dare not green.
The sky dare not rain.
The people dare not step too far out of the shade.

When I walk by the alfalfa fields, I can smell the plants baking in their own juices. It's a good smell, but a hot smell, the smell of July.

Yes, July. Watermelon, ice cream, popsicles, water fights, heat,  hot dogs, family reunions, and hot toes on hot sand. A month, where the cornfields shoot up. When the weeds suddenly grow taller, when gardens wither, and the grass that was so green in springtime is now brown, and crunchy.
July---a month of reckoning, when the plants you planted in spring, live, or die. A time when everyone is trying to squeeze in as much summer fun as they can before they can't.
July---a month full of wonderfully, delicious puffy clouds, that look like whipped cream, and vivid blue sky behind them. Then in the eveningthere's the tantalizing smell of rain, a few drops hit the ground before they evaporate, and instead of water on the ground, you watch the watercolor clouds, melting in the sky as the sun sets.

Today the sky even looks hot. The blue sky looks gray, and sultry. In the distance I can see some blossoming clouds. Maybe it will rain.
But probably not.
 Maybe we'll get a thunderstorm.
Or maybe not.

So. It's been a while, me writing in here. True.
If every time I thought about writing some tidbit on here counted, then I'd have a blog post everyday---whole journals full of conversations, fragments of thoughts or funny things that happened. 

But I somehow found myself writing in my books, just wanting to get this chapter done, this edit tweaked. 

This week I finished formatting my hard copy, and ebook copy of my last installment of my fantasy book. And yesterday, I ordered the last proof for my book, The Last Summoning. If all looks well when I get it, It will be finally out! 

I have it on pre-release at smashwords. But I officially haven't set a release date, until the book arrives at my house, and I know that it is absolutely ready. 

Yeah, I know it's a far cry from having it out in February like I planned. I had big dreams. But sometimes, when you're working with creative stuff, with words, with art or time limits you put on yourself sometimes have to be taken away, and you have to do the best you can with what you have.

Now I can officially roll up my sleeves and feel justified to work on rewrites for my next book, The Unsame Ones.
Actually, I went to do just that, several times. But, I had this nagging feeling that I was neglecting this blog, and needed to drop by, and say hello before I get too involved writing there, to write here.
So that is what I'm doing.
Dropping by to say hi.
My room is nicely cooled, despite it's hot as heckazoid out there. But the air conditioner is a bit blowy, and a bit noisy. So I have a love, hate relationship with it. It groans, and creaks, and acts very sorry for itself having to do so much work, keeping me cool.  And, believe me, it is a lot of work to keep my hot upstairs room cool.

When I'm sick of the air conditioner blowing on me, and my fingers get cold, I shut it off, until I feel hot again, which doesn't take very long. If I had my druthers, I'd just rather it be cool enough for me to have my window open, and have the fresh air blow into my room.

Ah, but alas, windows open around here are very dangerous, especially if they have no screens. Which my didn't for a very long time, until I got creative, and made one for my window.
Why are they dangerous, you ask?
I'll tell you.
Because.
Because of the the moths.
Oh, the moths.
They have been a plague this year.
Terrible.
Sticky.
Gross creatures.
I can't stand them.
At the start of the summer if a door or a window was left open just a crack, in they'd come in torrents, swirls, and dusty clouds. In they'd come, to bounce and flutter, and flap against the light.
And if the lights were flicked off, then they'd migrate to the computer screen, and if the computer screen was flicked off, then it was the TV they'd haunt.

Oh, the nasty little boogers.
How I loath them.

They hide in the flowerpots by the door in the day time, and any place they can get themselves into, folded carefully into the doorframes, only to fall out when you open the door, and push into the house like gray, fluttery vapors behind your back, unwelcome as smelly smoke.
 Yug.
How I dislike them.
For so many reasons!
They wake me up at night---buzz into me when I'm sleeping soundest.
They make me sneeze, and my nose swell up.
They poop long brown lines all over the window.
They attack you, seriously! The other night, one bumped into me, and decided to crawl into my hair. I brushed it out, but still it came at me.
This was war. 
I watched for it. I waited until it landed. 
I grabbed the nearest object, and smacked it against the wall.
Down went the moth leaving a powdery film on the wall, next to the spot where I had just recently smashed a giant spider, and it's legs stuck to the wall.
 I had won.
But can one win against torrents of moths?
I don't know.
I tried putting a flashlight over a bowl of water, to see if the moths would come to the light, and drown in the dish.
I waited, and watched.
But it didn't work.
They knew somehow this light was different. So they did not come. Not a one.
The only thing that works against them is a flyswatter. And we use flyswatters quite regularly on the critters.Especially in the bathroom, because that's where all the moths seeping into the house eventually to end up. About once a week, I sweep up the floor littered in moths and moth dust. 

Ahchooo!!!

Sneeze!

Sniff..

Curse of the moths. Did I ever tell you that I'm allergic to them?

Too bad moth dust wasn't something like gold, or glitter, or valuable in some way. Too bad it didn't make you fly. If this was the case, I think I would be a pretty wealthy woman.

Bottled moth dust. 1,000 a jar. Or better yet. Bottled moths.
Think of a happy thought, and away you go! Just sprinkle a little moth dust on you.

The way they scatter their dust in our house, bumping into the lights, my whole family would be floating all the time.

For all my loathing of the dirty beasties, my cute little niece makes up for it in her love of them.  She likes to pick up the moths and hold them and look at their wings, legs and eyes. She calls them "Moffins." She squeals, and laughs, and says, "Look, A Moffin, a Moffin!"
            The other day I was tending her, and she found a dead moth. So I picked it up for her and let her hold the moffin. I turned my attention to something else, and when I gazed back at my nice, she was licking her lips, making a face with powdery, gray, mossy, moth dust stuck to her tongue, with the moth crumpled in her fist. 
           I thought she had eaten the wings, and decided that it didn't taste so great.
Later, when I was telling her mom of this event, I found out, that my niece wasn't trying to eat it, I guess she likes to kiss them.
            Yum. 
         Moth kisses. 

Now that I've rambled on about moths, which I had no intention of doing, I'm thinking I better just stop, before I start on about the spiders that have moved in and have been made plentiful from the bounty of moths. I think I'll just leave this post where it i---random and weird as it seems.

            I hope your summer has been filled with---not moths, with happy moments and good adventures. 

Cheers,
Steph

Below are some pictures I felt like sharing with ya all, mostly from the last months or so.
Can you spot the bird. My sister and I were in the store when we spotted a bird that had flown in. We told someone about it, and they were very aware of it. Poor little thing.  I hope they were able to get it back out.

My niece can braid hair like a pro

On our way back from a trip, my mom and I stopped to take pictures of this forgotten piece of country, with at tree growing out of a barrel.



One of my cute little nieces

Groucho Marx


Love old barns. Wish this one was mine. :)


My sister and I built this saddle holder. It doesn't look like much, but I'm pretty proud of it.

My sister's new baby, Trooper.

Mommy and baby

Bunny cat

I went to stick my hand in this nest to check for eggs and was surprised to find this little critter, Charlotte, weaving her magic web over it. 

Then I found several more Charlottes

And another one. Actually, I think they are called Ogre spiders.

My niece and I decided to check out a favorite nesting spot of our rogue hen Houdini, that keeps getting out.  

About 40 eggs in all.

Another golden hour


Reflections

Fun patterns

Raining in the sky

So I was wading in this pool with my niece until I came across these leechy looking things hugging the rocks.
 

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