Saturday, February 28, 2015

Reflections on the 15th Anniversary of my GRS

It was February 29 (leap day) 2000 when I underwent my GRS in Montreal. So, most years this (Februrary 28) is what passes for an anniversary for the momentous event, and as such I find myself forced to reflect on things.

I know I would have died if I had not transitioned and known that I was going to get GRS. GRS drastically improved my condition, except, of course, the two years of complications I suffered (granulation tissue and stenosis). I got past that. But, I was finally comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life. Oh, there's still many things I really don't like about my body, and I would rather have had magically transformed XX chromosomes and a girlhood but I'll take this. Without a doubt, for me, it was the way to go.

It's kind of a new start for me this year, as for the first time since long before that day fifteen years ago...I'm not in a relationship with my soon to be ex-wife whom I was married to for almost half my life. So, a whole new realm of possible experiences has opened up to me though honestly I'm in no hurry for another relationship. But, here I am: 50, trans and newly single. The single thing still feels really weird. I get pretty nervous about dating and such when I think about it.

Thanks for letting me muse over this occasion with you (at you?).

My Second Favorite Book in the English Language

And frankly, my favorite book in the English language should be shaking in its proverbial boots right now.  I first read this book on vacation in Mexico last April (2014).  I had seen the movie John Dies at the End a few months before  (which you should definitely check out as well) and got this book and JDAE from author David Wong (from fame AKA Jason Pargain).  I read this one first as advised by Mr. Wong's narrator, a character named David Wong.

It's a comedy-horror-science fiction-thriller-literary masterpiece.  Seriously.  A tale of interdimensional spiders, zombies, and most importantly the nature of human nature.  It has brilliant writing and deep insight into the world and humanity.  And it's funny as hell.

When we were in Mexico, when we would leave the room, I would leave the book on the coffee table.  We we would come back from the beach, the maids had placed a coaster with a glass on it over the picture of the whole in the book.  One presumes this was to keep the spiders trapped inside.


Friday, February 27, 2015

RIP Leonard Nimoy

The world has become a little darker and the stars have dimmed. I remember watching him since I was little in: Star Trek, Mission Impossible, In Search Of..., and then the Star Trek movies as a teen and adult. He's always been there. Not any more. It's hitting me harder now than earlier when I first head the sad news. RIP, sir.

Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe?

I'm conflicted on this one honestly. Lili Elbe is an iconic trans figure. There's a lot of displeasure at the idea of any actor of the male persuasion playing a transwoman. Some people think you should get women (trans or otherwise) to play such characters. Some argue that back in Lili's day they didn't have hormones and facial surgery so it makes sense that a man should play the part in this instance. But, the Oscar-Winning Best Actor looks terrific in the photo as Lili, I have to admit.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sneak Peek at Cover for The Silver Light

Here's your sneak peek of Shayla Mist's Cover for The Silver Light coming to Amazon Kindle November 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Muser Profile: Maggie Breen


It was absolutely one of the highlights of my stay at La Muse Writer's and Artist's Retreat in France to enjoy listening to the great Maggie Breen read her poetry in the library around the wood stove.  Those readings were the height of my literary life thus far, just so many brilliant writers gathered in a semi-circle reading old things, or new things they were working on...and Maggie was the best of us.  Maybe it's her powerful verses, maybe it's that thick Irish accent, maybe it's both.  Or it could be the deeply emotional themes.  If you ever get an opportunity to hear Maggie, don't walk.

Maggie and I were the longest tenured Musers during my stay of over two months (and she had been there for a month or two before I got there, having just recently completed The Camino (remind me to tell you about the Camino some time...A pilgrimage that crosses Europe in many places and ends on the coast of Spain) she was working on another collection of poems to follow up her book, Other Things I Didn't Tell.  For a while, it was just Maggie and me at La Muse, we had the honor of house and dog sitting for John and Kerry, the establishment's fine owners, and we two spent ten days as sisters in a giant ancient house in October of 2014.  We enjoyed a few nights of quiet domestic tranquility reading our day's work to each other, or Maggie in her chair on one side of the wood stove knitting as I sat in my chair on the other side reading aloud Dickens' Great Expectations to her.

Two more things about Maggie Breen:  1) if you chance to talk to Maggie, have her interpret one of your recent dreams for you (she's great at it), and 2) if she comes to you looking for a fellowship or employment?  Give her the fellowship or the job  She's the best of the best.

So, seek out her work.  Here's a link to her publisher's website (her poetry collection is also available on Amazon for non-European readers) and a link to an interview with Maggie.

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Favorite Yeats Poem

Fergus And The Druid

Fergus. This whole day have I followed in the rocks,
And you have changed and flowed from shape to shape,
First as a raven on whose ancient wings
Scarcely a feather lingered, then you seemed
A weasel moving on from stone to stone,
And now at last you wear a human shape
A thin grey man half lost in gathering night.
Druid. What would you, king of the proud Red Branch kings?
Fergus. This would I Say, most wise of living souls:
Young subtle Conchubar sat close by me
When I gave judgment, and his words were wise,
And what to me was burden without end,
To him seemed easy, So I laid the crown
Upon his head to cast away my sorrow.
Druid. What would you, king of the proud Red Branch kings?
Fergus. A king and proud! and that is my despair.
I feast amid my people on the hill,
And pace the woods, and drive my chariot-wheels
In the white border of the murmuring sea;
And still I feel the crown upon my head
Druid. What would you, Fergus?
Fergus. Be no more a king
But learn the dreaming wisdom that is yours.
Druid. Look on my thin grey hair and hollow cheeks
And on these hands that may not lift the sword,
This body trembling like a wind-blown reed.
No woman's loved me, no man sought my help.
Fergus. A king is but a foolish labourer
Who wastes his blood to be another's dream.
Druid. Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams;
Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you round.
Fergus. I See my life go drifting like a river
From change to change; I have been many things --
A green drop in the surge, a gleam of light
Upon a sword, a fir-tree on a hill,
An old slave grinding at a heavy quern,
A king sitting upon a chair of gold --
And all these things were wonderful and great;
But now I have grown nothing, knowing all.
Ah! Druid, Druid, how great webs of sorrow
Lay hidden in the small slate-coloured thing!

-W.B. Yeats, Fergus and the Druid

Note:  The parts I have italicized are quoted in my recently completed novel, A Dancer in the Infinite.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Another of my Favorite Alan Moore Quotes.

Alan Moore, comic book author extraordinaire (V for Vendetta, From Hell, Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Hellblazer, etc.) says this about life:

"Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Zero F

Zero is cold.  It's frigid.  It takes your breath away.  It makes you stressed.  I am not a fan.

Windchill?  Negative fifteen degrees F this morning.  I had to send people out to work in that shit.

So, when's Spring again?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Parable of the Bees (and WFT)

From John Dies at the End by David Wong:

"On your world, you raise bees for honey. Do the bees know they make the honey for you? Or do they work tirelessly under the belief that they make the honey for themselves?"

Weird Facts (Thursday):

- Cleopatra was born closer to the opening of the first Pizza Hut than to the construction of the last pyramid in Egypt.

-Oxford University is older than the oldest Aztec ruings.

-Diana Hignutt has a nasty sinus headache and apologizes for the brevity of this blog post... 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Radio silence...'cause I'm busy...

I, taking a couple of days off from this blog to work on getting Moonsword ready for uploading, Cleaning up Empress, and revising The Silver Light (which is not bad at all. I was pleased at how good the writing was--I remembered it being rougher), I feel like Peter Jackson must have felt with getting the Fellowship ready for DVD release, finishing editing on Two Towers, and doing post preduciton of Return all at the same time.  Empress is ahead of schedule, so the new release schedule of my upcoming Amazon Kindle Releases is as Follow:

Moonsword - March 2015
Empress of Clouds - April 2015
The Locket and Other Tales - June 2015
The Silver Light - November 2015
The Complete Moonsword Trilogy - December 2015

So, I'll post a Thursday, Weird Facts Blog...but until then...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Deep Winter Bleck

F this winter.  F this cold weather.  It was zero degrees F this morning when I went to work (not counting the windchill) and fifteen this evening when I got home.  F that!  (that's a temperature double entre', kids!)

Supposed to snow between four and twelve inches of snow here overnight and into tomorrow.  I am not looking forward to that white crap from the sky.

I am officially tired of winter.  Tired of being cold.  Tired of shoveling snow.  Tired.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

New Cover for Upcoming Empress of Clouds eBook

Shayla Mist's design for the new Ebook edition of Empress of Clouds coming to Amazon Kindle April 2015

Empress of Clouds Online Begins Today

Fans of the Moonsword Online Blog will be glad to hear that, as promised and as my Valentine's Day present to you, the first chapter of Empress of Clouds is up on the blog.  Tolian's adventures continue in the free serialized, blogified online edition here:

Check it out.

Coming Soon: The Locket and Other Tales

I'm really enjoying the process of e-publishing The Moonsword Trilogy waaay more than I expected.  I'll be sharing the all new cover for the new e-book edition of Empress of Clouds soon, btw.  I'm so thrilled with what designer Shayla Mist is doing with the series.  Anyway, this summer I (if not sooner) will be publishing on Amazon Kindle The Locket and Other Tales, a collection which will include my novella pubbed in an anthology I was never paid for, but for which the contract has expired, "The Compassion", "The Confessions of Frankenstein(GIRL)" (which depends on whether or not that is picked for the upcoming anthology QUEERS DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION or not.  I may have to wait until May to know if they're going to use it), "The Flight of a Wild" and another tale or two I whip up for it.  Watch this space for updates on all my projects.  And Today Empress of Clouds begins over at The Moonsword Trilogy Online.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Real Life is Not a Faerie Tale

Exactly twenty-four years ago Liz and I went on our first date.  We had drinks at Alephia's in Deptford, NJ before going to see the movie, Kindergarten Cop.  As I've been knee deep in lately in revising and editing my Moonsword Trilogy which spends a great deal of time on the relationship of Tolian and Brythia, who are indeed based on our relationship, I'm forced to note that real life is not a faerie tale.  Whereas the fictional couple are tied by the magickal bonds of druidic love spells for all eternity, Liz and I are separated and will be getting divorced shortly.  It's a bit bittersweet for me.  Maybe that's why fiction is better than real life.  Well, Happy Valentine's Day to Tolian, Brythia, and you and yours good reader.

Moonsword is Completely Online Now

Meanwhile over on The Moonsword Trilogy Online blog, I've finished posting the free serialized, blogified edition of Moonsword, the first novel of the trilogy (and my first published novel from back in 2002).  People all over the world are reading it.  It's a great feeling.  Check it out or feel free to wait for the Kindle version coming March 2015.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

OMG! It's Weird Facts Thursday Again!

As regular readers of this blog know, it is Weird Facts Thursday.  So for your mystification and amusement I offer you the following:

-When I was at La Muse, in France, I selected a copy of Philip K. Dick's novel VALIS from the Living Library there to read.  As I opened it up to see the following inscription:

This book is, quite simply, about my family, extended and otherwise.  The Lamptons and Sophia live in the house where I grew up (which was not in the town mentioned in the book); conversations here are virtual transcripts, especially between Fat , Phil, and Sophia; the child on the cover is apparently based on a specific picture of me as a toddler.  Which would make sense were this book not generally regarded as not only fiction, but a masterwork of science fiction—and by those who love it as a magnificent work of philosophy.  To me it’s fairly straightforward memoir, mixed with a little Plato’s Republic.  So that is where I am from: a place and background where the lines between life and science fiction are never firm.  Make of it what you will.  Anne Midi, May 2009.

If you've ever read VALIS you know that this is quite a claim.  I was stunned, especially after I finished reading the book and everything that additional context provided.  I looked up the inscription's author, who had indeed stayed on retreat at La Muse, and who had written a book on Dick and her family's (Dick was her mother's ex husband)  relationship over the years, but the publisher caved from threats of Dick's children and pulled the book just before they were about to release it.

- In the book VALIS, the protagonist, Horselover Fat (Horselover = the translation of the Greek "Philip", and Fat = the translation of the German word "Dick") is urged to see a movie that he and his friends find filled with cosmic truth, called VALIS in the book.  The fictional movie, which stars a fictional rock star, Eric Lampton was based on The Man Who Fell to Earth with David Bowie.  One wonders if Phil and his friends went to see that film dozens of times.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Llama Joke

I heard this, a couple of years ago, and I don't have a great deal of time to come up with a blog topic, so you get the Llama Joke.  Enjoy.

You know that a one "L" Lama is an Asian holy man.

And that the two "L" Llama is a South American pack animal.

What's a three "L" Lllama?

A big Fire in Boston.

Get it?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Room 238

One of my favorite conspiracy theories is that the film The Shining is actually Stanley Kubrick's confession to faking the Apollo Moon Landing.  Sounds crazy right?  Those who believe this point out that Kubrick was working extensively with NASA on 2001 A space odyssey before and during the Moon flights, that he pioneered the use of film screen surrounds in that film that would have been necessary to fake the moon landing, blah, blah, blah...

But, where it gets interesting is when one explores the differences between Stephen King's novel The Shining and Kubrick's film.  I don't remember what room number the evil room is in the book, but it's not 238 as it is in the film.  238,000 miles is the approximate distance from the Earth to the Moon.  Mild.  I know.  Wait.  Those two creepy twin girls our young hero sees in the hallway on his big wheel?  Not in the book.  Gemini is both the sign of the twins and the name of the space craft used in the Moon Mission.  Meh.  I know.  This is where it gets better.  The kid, the hero?  In that scene with the twin ghosts that's not in the book, he's wearing and Apollo 11 sweater.  And when Jack is typing "A11 work and no play..." He types "A - the number 1 (not the letter L in smallcase) and another number one.  A eleven.  As in Apollo 11.

Also, there's a mysterious and impossible window in the manager's office in the middle of the hotel in the beginning of the movie.  And Jack Nicholson is reading a Play Girl magazine before that.

So, did Stanley Kubrick fake the Apollo 11 Mission and film The Shining as his confession?  You decide....

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Quick blog Post

So, I'm checking things off the old  To Do List and here I am come to Write a quick blog Post.  Sigh.  I got nuthin'.   Let me think. Hmmm.  Well.  I had to layoff one of my employees today, and I feel pretty bad about it.  Hopefully we can bring him back soon.   I edited and put up a couple of chapters (41 and 42 there on the MSTO (MoonSword Trilogy Online) Blog.  I'm about out of energy as got up early this morning (4 am) to leave early for work as the weather was uncertain (possible ice, sheet, freezing rain) and we have that in the forecast for overnight as well so I have to get up at that time again tomorrow morning.  Had to put out a ton of money to get brakes fixed on the ex's SUV today.  That sucked.  Sigh.  Had homemade Beef-a-roni for dinner with my dad.  Watched a little Jeopardy with him.  That one dude, he's pretty good.  Well, it's a pretty damned boring blog post, but it's what I got.  And that's a check off the list for blog post...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Seamus Scanlan's article on La Muse

Here's an article on my beloved La Muse Writers' and Artists' Retreat by my friend and fellow Muser, Irish playwright Seamus Scanlan:

It's worth the read for a little background on my favorite place in the world.  A Note:  The editors of shortened the name of the village from Labastide Esparbairenque to LaBastide for some reason.
Seamus is an awesome fellow, a vegan with a penchant for eating bread, though I do not know if he has amazing vegan powers like Brandon Routh's character in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.  You should check out his play that received rave reviews in NYC last year:

It was Seamus who, on a deary November day recommended The Pillowman, an amazing play by  Martin McDonagh.  It's very dark but amazing.  I read it a just a couple of hours.

Anyway, back to La Muse.  That's where I want to go when I die.  And hopefully sometime again before that....

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Cover Art for New Edition of Moonsword

For the new edition coming next month to ebook I commissioned this cover by artist/designer Shayla Mist, who will be doing covers for the entire trilogy project.  I'm very excited about it!  Hope you are too!

Friday, February 6, 2015

An Odd True Story from Moonsword: The Tale of the Quarrel

There are a lot of things that are shockingly true in my fantasy novel Moonsword, however, all the people and places are fictitious, blah, blah, blah...of course. ;)  Many of my reactions are in there, some mirrored, some as they were, but one story is completely true:  the tale of the Quarrel or Bird War.  I witnessed this event in mid-April in the late eighties right in my father's house in the very room I type this now, in fact.  I woke in the morning to the sound of bird calls, lots of birds outside my window in the large ancient oak in the backyard.  Here's the account from Moonsword (just change Tolian to me):

Finally they approached the scene.  It was amongst the most unusual sights that Tolian had ever seen.   There stood an oak tree of great age and size.  It was taller than sixty feet and its branches stretched out wide.  It was bare of leaves, of course, but its branches were far from empty.  More than a hundred birds filled its mighty boughs.  Tolian quickly realized that half of the birds were blackbirds and the other half were bluejays.  The combined calls produced quite a ruckus, as they screeched and shouted at each other in clear antagonism.  They did not, however  engage in combat with each other, although from the attitude of the feathered creatures they would have welcomed the opportunity to pounce upon each other.  Instead, they took turns, one bird at a time repositioning themselves in the branches.  A bluejay would move to a branch just above a blackbird, and then begin anew cries of intimidation.  Another blackbird flew next to that blackbird, and together they barked fiercely at the threatening bluejay.
To Tolian it had the appearance of two armies squaring off against each other without yet striking blows.  Two bluejays took off together and landed above another of the blackbird army.  This action provoked a new bird call, different altogether than the war cries of the blackbirds and bluejays.
“Peet!” repeated the call.
Tolian then saw that there was another bird there in the tree.  A solitary Cardinal was watching the proceedings from the center of the great oak.  The rest of the birds fell silent astonishingly immediately.
“Peet!” called the red bird once again.
Both of the two jays that had just moved flew out of the tree and alighted in the boughs of a nearby cedar.  To Tolian it seemed (though impossibly) that the two birds had broken the rules of the Quarrel and had been expelled from the contest by the red-crested bird.  Once the two interlopers had departed the two armies once again renewed their war cries with vigor.  The cardinal watched every move with amazing intent.  Was it possible that these winged-animals had devised a bloodless way to settle territorial disputes, refereed, as it were, by the dignified cardinal?

True story...believe it or not!

Sorry I was just editing and adding chapters to the Moonsword Trilogy Online blog next door and I ran into this story and thought it might be interesting.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Weird Facts Thursday!!!!

So, here we are again, Thursday.  It's evening for me.  I've eaten my dinner with my dad and come to tend my blogly duties.  Which today means....WEIRD FACTS!

- In 1897 hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, across the United States witnessed the mysterious giant airship.  Over cities like Sioux City, Omaha and Cleveland, over woods and farms the giant ship was seen for several months as if it were on an impossible tour of the country.  One day it would be seen in Florida, the next in Ohio, and then in Nevada.  The ship was always described with similar details, which even modern aviation experts agree would not allow the vast ship to fly.  And more remarkably it was not uncommon for people to encounter the operators of the mysterious craft.  Occasionally a farmer would see the airship over his property to find men hoisting buckets of water from their wells to the ship.  Sometimes, the crew would ask the farmer if he minded, sometimes they hurried off, climbing ropes to get back on board.  And every once in while the crew would answer questions.  Most of them seemed like normal people, and they would claim they came from so and so town in so and so state (it differed each time) where the ship was built.  That they were testing the ship and soon they would be mass produced and common in the skies.  Some accounts indicated that some of the crew were not human, however, and small hairy creatures were often reported in the vicinity of the airship.

-When I read Daschel Hammett's classic The Maltese Falcon in France last October, I refused to acknowledge the descriptions of Sam Spade (who's a blonde bruiser in the book) and replaced him with Humphrey Bogart in my mind.  I loved it.  It's a great book.  Surprisingly modern, but what would you expect from the first noir detective novel?

-My favorite Beatle is George, not that I didn't like John Lennon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Chelsea Manning is reading Moonsword

In my capacity as fairy-trans-godmother to all the world, but especially to wrongly incarcerated whistleblowers who come out to the world at their treason trial, I established a friendship with Chelsea Manning who currently resides in Fort Leavenworth Prison.  At first I paid my respects and thanked her for her service, then I gave her some tips to transition without resources, and finally I sent her copies of my short stories and then a serialized edition of my novella, The Locket (coming to ebook by May 2015).   Most recently she has been enjoying a serialized version of A Dancer in the Infinite, but I found a Amazon fulfilled copy of the old edition of Moonsword and had it shipped to her.  So, poor Chelsea is stuck reading it.  You can follow along on The Moonsword Trilogy online or just wait to March for the ebook edition to become available.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Moonsword Returns to Amazon 2015

Here's the Kindle ebook release schedule:

Moonsword - Spring Equinox 2015
Empress of Clouds - Summer Solstice 2015
The Silver Light - Samhain (Halloween) 2015 or so
The Moonsword Trilogy - Winter Solstice 2015

Moonsword Returns to Amazon! 2015

A Brief History of The Flash

The Flash has always been one of my favorite comic book characters.  In the Superhero line-up, he's waaay up there, just a notch above the Krytonian and below Gotham's Greatest Detective for me.  I prefer the Silver Age version of the hero, though there have been four men to carry the mantle of The Flash:  Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, and Bart Allen.  Barry is considered the Silver Age Flash.  In fact, he started the Silver Age of comics for DC.  He was the first of the Golden Age characters to be brought into the new age.  Without Barry Allen's Flash, we would never have had Hal Jordan's Green Lantern, or Ray Palmer's Atom.  DC's famous Multi-verse problem came about because of the Flash and was solved by the Scarlet Speedster as well.  Although, the Flash does not appear in A Dancer in the Infinite, there is a character named Barry Allen, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that some of that Multi-verse stuff isn't in there too.

Anywho, there's an excellent little slide-show history of the Flash here if you're interested:

Enjoy!  I'm off to watch Jeopardy!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Egypt: Assault on Atheism

CAIRO — It took one session on Jan. 10 for a court in the Nile Delta province of Beheira to sentence Karim al-Banna, a 21-year-old student, to three years in prison for saying on Facebook that he was an atheist. The student’s lawyer complained that he was denied the right even to present a defense, but an equally chilling aspect of Mr. Banna’s case is that his father testified against him.

Also telling is that Mr. Banna was originally arrested, in November, when he went to the police to complain that his neighbors were harassing him. This was after his name had appeared in a local newspaper on a list of known atheists. Instead of protecting him, the police accused him of insulting Islam.

NOTE: I am not an Atheist, but...

Here's why I'm a staunch supporter of separation of church and state, and why, frankly, I believe that we need to wipe out the scourge of religious fundamentalism aggressively instead of coddling such theocracies as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and launch a full scale intellectual defense of reason and secular lifestyles, and nip the ever-growing tide of theocratic fundamentalism in the western world as well.

No one should be arrested, harassed, denied basic rights, or killed because of their beliefs, their gender, or sexual orientation on the government sanctioned say so of ruling religions.  No one.

Now, I realize that what I just wrote could well be used by such religious fundamentalists as evidence of the pernicious agenda against their righteousness.  To that I say:  Well, you started it.  And if your beliefs are so strong why do you need to resort to barbarism and police state tactics to defend them?