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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
My Glamorous Author Life

This is a photo of my campsite at Pagan Spirit Gathering in 2010, the year it was in Missouri. Pictured: my solar clothes dryer, strung between a shady tree and my truck, and socks that I washed in ice chest melt-water. That year, my book Asatru For Beginners finally had a print edition, after 8 years as only an ebook, so I went on a book tour.

I met a lot of wonderful people along the way. I had some truly awesome spiritual experiences at the festival, and some weird unplanned experiences too (one was: my truck decided I needed to be off the road at a specific place and time and broke down; the next morning's local paper showed a highway accident with a pickup truck exactly where and when I would have been.)

I spent a lot of time in the river at Pagan Spirit Gathering. I knew before I left that it was going to be hot, and I thought I was used to heat because I live in the Las Vegas valley. Ha. It is not the same at all. I started spending my afternoons in the river because of the heat, but when I took up current riding, it became something more. Current riding is floating down the river with no flotation device but my body, my lungs filled like a fish's swim bladder, arms and legs positioned to maximize contact with the water surface, which supports weight through surface tension. I learned what "going with the flow" really meant, both literally and figuratively.

I boondocked as much as possible. Boondocking is camping in a vehicle in an undeveloped area. Some of the vast tracts of empty federal land in the American West are approved boondocking areas. These can be located on maps by looking up boondocking. One of my planned boondocking overnights was the US Army mountain infantry winter training camp in the Rockies, which is approved for boondocking in the summer, but I ended up staying in a hotel in Colorado because of needing to fix my truck, waiting over the weekend for a part to be sent up from Denver. That was after the last stop on my book tour, and by that time I had totally worn out a purse, 5 hair clips (well, 1 of them I lost), a straw hat, 3 bathing suits, a tire, a camper shell strut, the truck's AC, and then, that part, too, all of which had to be replaced along the way.

I was on the road long enough to need to dye my hair again; I waited for one of my splurges on a room with running water to do that. No matter how tired I was when I stopped driving for the day, I always checked the truck's oil (to be checked with the engine hot) and checked the coolant in the morning (to be checked with the engine cold.) I carried hoses and belts with me just in case. For driving directions, I was depending on printouts from Google Maps that I printed before I left. I stopped and hiked in several places to take a break from driving and to connect with the land I was traveling in, and also did a lot of swimming.

People ask me once in a while if I was afraid to travel by myself because I'm a woman.  Whenever I camped in the back of my truck, I was sleeping with my hand on the hilt of my Viking longsword. On my book tour stops, I displayed it as a heathen related cultural item, but I was fully ready and willing to use it for self-defense, too.

When I arrived at PSG, I built a small stone land spirit altar in my campsite, and managed to get along well with the local wildlife. I was there when Mama Gina wrote the PSG song. Lots of people attended my Rune Seminar. There was a ritual in which people were invited to honor the sun in the manner of  their tradition, and I raised a toast to Sunna. Hearing "Hail Sunna" echoed back by what had to be a thousand people was one of the peak experiences of my life. Although I made a bit of a joke with this post by titling it "glamorous" and then talking about covering my gray roots in a motel bathroom before one of my public appearances, the spiritual experiences I had and the wonderful people I met on my trip were worth every moment of the not so great times.

This year I'm going on a book tour again, although with only 2 scheduled booksigning appearances. Tom N. and I are traveling to the last Ravenwood, a Northern California heathen festival we used to go to. I haven't been back since I moved from Sonoma to Las Vegas in 1995, and I'm looking forward to seeing old friends. I'll be signing my latest nonfiction book, American Celebration, as well as the new fiction anthology I edited, No Horns On These Helmets. I'll have copies of Asatru For Beginners along to sign as well, and some back issues of Berserkrgangr Magazine.

I'll be signing No Horns On These Helmets at WorldCon, the World Science Fiction Convention, which is in Spokane, Washington this year, where I will also be visiting family. My brother says he's going to rent a fog machine to hide his raspberry bushes so I don't eat them all. I told him I'll bring along a fan.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Thanks and you're welcome!
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Gosh, if only most realized how decidedly UNglamorous it is to be a Pagan author... Thank you fo r sharing your experience with u


Back in 2013, I wrote a column on self-publishing. In the year and a half since, I have read quite a few more self-published and small press books. And, I am happy announce, I just released my first story collection, A Witch Among Wolves and Other Pagan Tales, through Asphodel Press. Based on my own experience, I have a few more suggestions. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As an admitted bibliophile, it took me a surprising amount of time to jump on the e-reader bandwagon. I finally gave in when I realized that 1) in many cases, the digital book is much cheaper than the print edition; 2) there are a lot of small press and self-published authors who release only digital editions of their books; and 3) there is simply no more room in the house of more bookcases. None.

So, I plopped down my hard-earned cash and bought myself a nook. I take the darn thing with me everywhere. It's a complete library in my pocket, offering immediate access to not only my favorite authors -- but also authors new-to-me.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • helmsman of inepu
    helmsman of inepu says #
    I got the large Nook HD+ about a year ago, and it's a handy reading device (I use it to watch downloads of retro anime too). Curr
  • Piper
    Piper says #
    Yes, I do have overdrive, I am trying to get new libraries added, I cheated and used my dad's address to get a card from my home t
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Piper: I haven't tried Scribd yet. Do you have the Overdrive app? Depending on the digital books available through your local libr
  • Piper
    Piper says #
    YES! thanks for the pointers to new books. I do hit Amazon and some of the other sites, smashwords, nook, play books, looking for
  • Connie Lazenby
    Connie Lazenby says #
    I loved your post. It's the same path I've followed. It can get expensive, depending on just how many new authors you find you lik

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

A few days ago, Shirl Sazynski (author of the awesome One-Eyed Cat blog here at PS) recommended a new science fiction novel that she was enjoying: Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach. While I read a lot of sf, I don't read much military sf, but this sounded interesting. So, I clicked over to B&N and scrolled through the customer reviews.

Most of the reviews were quite positive. One negative review caught my eye, though -- not because it was negative, but because of the anonymous reviewer's reason for giving Fortune's Pawn a single star: 

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Writing with Integrity - Find Your Sacred Roar!

As a writer who prides herself on speaking truth to the powerful and uncovering inconvenient truths kicked to the curb by the patriarchal status quo, I wonder if other writers have also noticed the integrity lacking in the columns of so many colleagues?  Is cowardly reporting a pet peeve of yours too?  Do you share my disdain for shallow and unbalanced reporting?  Like me, do you appreciate writers who really stick their neck out and get their hands dirty rather than playing it safe?  Seriously, don’t we have enough sheeple?

For instance, when we have sports figures involved in domestic violence as they so often are or women being raped by their male counterparts in the military or we find out men who have killed women left behind writings showing their hatred of females, all too often writers will ask the question in their column, "What's wrong with our culture?" Interestingly, they don't ask the more obvious question - "What's wrong with some men in our culture?"  Often it might even be the victim who is assaulted  again in the media as writers avoid naming the real bully - so when did the press stop naming the real bully?   Does the female writer not point to the obvious because she's afraid she'll be labeled an angry feminist in our patriarchal world and might get fewer jobs ?  Is the male writer who ignores male domination and oppression in our society simply unaware of male privilege or is he being disingenuous?  Is it okay to be a self-interested reporter or a columnist who skirts the actual underlying problems?   Or should a writer's commitment be to delving deep and getting to the real issues, not just what's comfortable to speak out about?  Should a writer challenge his audience and try to inspire her readers by sharing insights or facts, even if they might upset the proverbial apple cart?

Likewise in politics.  I'm so tired of reading Democrats and Republicans are all alike.  Surely that is a false equivalency. When it comes to social issues, it's not Demorats voting against the Consumer Protection Bureau, equal pay for women, extending unemployment insurance benefits, fixing broken bridges, or spending tax dollars to create jobs.  It's not Democrats who are forcing women to be subjected to vaginal probes if they want an abortion or closing abortion clinics across Red States. It's not Democrats engaging in voter suppression or not signing legislation to help prevent domestic violence.   It's not the liberals on the Supreme Court voting that corporations are people to allow rich Americans and corporations unlimited campaign contributions, effectively buying our country, or as recently as last week, giving corporations religious rights over employees.  It's not at the Democratic National Convention where one sees only see white Christian faces peering back.  It's not Democrats trying their best to do away with Unions that helped build the Middle Class, nor is it Democrats who are against raising the minimum wage.  It's not Democrats who deny science, practice homophobia and always put corporations before people.  I could go on and on but maybe you get the point.  It's pretty obvious Democrats and Republicans are NOT the same, so why continue to perpetuate that false idea?  We read this "false equivalency"  description all the time.  Are columnists not doing their homework to know better?  Are they trying to be politically correct?  Have they gotten lazy?  Are they really partisan and pushing the propaganda of one party over another under the guise of being fair and unbiased?  Even my beloved Jon Stewart played this game once, presumably in an attempt to help dispel polarization among people, but isn’t it a disservice to low information voters who might not know all the aforementioned points and turn to him for their news?

Authors are sometimes guilty of this kind of writing too.   I can think of one in particular who writes about a particular woman of the Bible.  She elevates the biblical woman and gives us new insight as she uncovers this biblical woman's story but she never has the courage to tell us who's responsible for disappearing this woman's story from history. Of course it might mean getting some Christians angry to learn the truth.  So is this error of omission about self-interest?  Does she want it both ways?  She wants to tell about this biblical woman, but stops short of telling the whole story lest she ruffle some feathers and sell fewer books for speaking truth to power.

Unless we are writing fiction, what's the point of writing about important issues of the day or claiming to uncover secrets of the past unless you're going to tell the whole truth?  What kind of writer do you want to be?  One who makes a difference or one who plays it safe.  If you're the latter, maybe you should stick to writing about celebrities, cooking and fashion. If you can’t name the real bullies on the playground, then go write children’s books. And if you’re being paid to promote a certain agenda, whether it be political, patriarchal, etc., then full disclosure should be shared or your omission compromises your integrity.   At least that way you inform your readers you’re coming from a biased viewpoint.  At least that way you won't perpetuate misinformation or waste valuable column space that might have been used by someone who could use their bully pulpit to educate, raise awareness and inspire some worthwhile conversation.

Know thyself and if you're a Goddess Advocate, find your sacred roar!

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Title: Llewellyn's Complete Book of Names: For Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Heathens, Mages, Shamans and Independent Thinkers of All Sorts Who Are Curious About Names from Every Place and Every Time

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Over the last few weeks, some of the bloggers at the Pagan Channel on Patheos have been posting short explanations as to how and why they became Pagan. I'll tackle that question, too, but in a manner more appropriate to this column: as a life-long bibliophile, books have had a huge influence on my spiritual development. The genres, target audience, and quality of those books have varied widely; the majority were not even aimed specifically at Pagans. Nonetheless, during my formative years (say, childhood through mid-adolesence), these books contributed to thoroughly corrupting me.

Augustus Caesar's World by Genevieve Foster, for instance, which I first found at the public library as a child, lost track of, then rediscovered in the tiny children's section in my college library. I adore the artwork, and I love how Foster interweaves the personal histories of ordinary people with those of major personages and important events. It was this book which first made me a fan of Cleopatra, and led me to further explore women's history and the religions of the ancient world.

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