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Friday, December 30, 2011


Sample pages grey
New Year a-coming! Get a Vicki-calendar here...
New Year’s resolutions/orders-to-self
in the kingdom of books

1-   Do more book events at conferences/meetings.
2-   Polish The Book of the Red King where needed and submit by year's end.
3-   Do final reads on some manuscripts already accepted.
4-   Don’t be so dratted lazy about sending out poems.
5-   Don’t drive yourself absolutely bats by agreeing to do more than you can for other people's novel and poetry manuscripts...
6-   Care about what matters and let the rest go.
7-   Do something about that manuscript gathering dust!
8-   Read more. Maybe you'll have time...
9-   Establish the regional arts group that you have been feebly toying with—start with a web site?
10-  Don’t bother thinking about luck… It’s way beyond your control.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The other blurb request...

Marly Youmans' new book is a vividly realized, panoramic novel of survival during The Great Depression. There is poetry in Youmans' writing, but she also knows how to tell a riveting story.

Ron Rash

March 2012. Mercer University Press.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Christmas card, 2011

Graham Ward, "Angel Entering a City"
Pilfered from Clive Hicks-Jenkins's Artlog--
thank you, Graham and Clive!

It is the last of Advent, and what a strange time it has been! Beautiful, lucky things have happened--heartfelt letters from writers I respect and homecomings and unforgettable hours.  My children are all in the nest, and we are five again.  One deeply sad thing has happened--a friend, self-slain--that reminds me of our great human hunger for love and mercy, now and always.

Today is Christmas Eve, and there is much to birth before the day is done. Greetings to you and a merry Christmas to you and wishes for that ever-desired love and mercy to follow you all the days of the coming year.

Attributions:  The painting by Graham Ward has already been shared by my friend Clive on his Artlog. I picked it in honor of the now-underway collaboration I'm doing with Graham, to be finished by June in time for an opening.  Original source for poem:  Forthcoming in The Foliate Head (UK:  Stanza Press.) Thanks to editors Dave Bonta and Beth Adams for nominating the poem for a Pushcart Prize. Thanks to issue editors Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita for their long work of editing.


In the dark, in the deeps of the night that are
Crevasses of a sea, I heard their wings.
I heard the trickling of tiny feathers
With their hairs out like milkweed parachutes
Floating idly on the summer air,
I heard the curl and splash, the thunderbolts
Of pinions, the rapids and rattle of shafts—
Heard Niagara sweep the barreled woman
And shove her under water for three days,
I heard a jar of fragrance spill its waves
As a lone figure poured out all she could,
Heard the sky’s bronze-colored raindrops scatter
On corrugated roofs and tops of wells,
I heard the water-devil whirligigs,
I heard an awesome silence when the wings
Held still, upright as flowers in a vase,
And when I turned to see why they had stilled,
Then what I saw was likenesses to star
Imprisoned in a form of marble flesh,
With a face like lightning-fires and aura
Trembling like a rainbow on the shoulders,
But all the else I saw was unlikeness
That bent me like a bow until my brow
Was pressed against the minerals of earth,
And when I gasped at air, I tasted gold.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Year's Best 10

Table of contents for Year's Best Fantasy 10 edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer, forthcoming from

Dragon’s Deep · Cecelia Holland
The Green Bird · Kage Baker
Dulce Domum · Ellen Kushner
The Parable of the Shower · Leah Bobet
The Dragaman’s Bride · Andy Duncan
Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela · Saladin Ahmed
Images of Anna · Nancy Kress
Icarus Saved from the Skies · Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown · Holly Black
The Score · Alaya Dawn Johnson
Sleight of Hand · Peter S. Beagle
Bigfoot and the Bodhisattva · James Morrow
A Delicate Architecture · Catherynne M. Valente
Swell · Elizabeth Bear
The Bones of Giants · Yoon Ha Lee
The Minuteman’s Witch · Charles Coleman Finlay
Conquistador del la Noche · Carrie Vaughn
Winterborn · Liz Williams
Three Twilight Tales · Jo Walton
Power and Magic · Marly Youmans
The Avenger of Love · Jack Skillingstead
The Persistence of Souls · Sarah Zettel
An Invocation of Incuriosity · Neil Gaiman
Three Friends · Claude Lalumière
Shadow of the Valley · Fred Chappell
Technicolor · John Langan
Economancer · Carolyn Ives Gilman

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reeser chooses Gioia

Poet Jennifer Reeser chooses a poem by Dana Gioia at The Lydian Stones.

Ghosts of Christmas past

In the tradition of the scholarly M.R. James, who always read a marvelous new one of his own composing at Christmas, it's time for a ghost story. And here's a new review of Ghosts by Gaslight,edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers. Must say about my mention that this is the first reviewer to imply that there might be a relationship between the mode in which the story is told and the identity of the narrator...

Evidently poet, professor, and twin (very ghostly, that!) Damian Walford Davies has started a Christmas Eve (or thereabouts) reading series featuring James stories by candlelight at the University of Aberystwyth. I wonder how many places have revived the tradition of ghost stories at Christmas--a wonderful idea.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Behind the door

Every day my children, big as they are, still like to open a door on the little wooden Advent calendar and find a present inside. Here is a kind of door for you, with a present inside.

Originally published in Mezzo Cammin.
Included in the poetry collection, The Throne of Psyche (Mercer University Press, 2011)


Certain things were given to me:                 
Such loveliness as swords possess,
Humility as hushed as snow,
Kindness branching red in my veins,
The love of wildwood animals.

I learned early I was a fool                          
And worthless. Still, I dare to lodge
Certain protests against brokenness,
Certain protests against heart’s maiming,
Certain protests against death’s hour.

The mirror made such promises!
Was it godly, was it devilish?
A scabbard waiting to be filled,
The seven little fairy men,
A face like snow that sleeps in glass.

Not one of them came true, and now
I kneel forsaken on the ground,
In turn reproaching Christ and men,
So close to perishing that I
Dream lanterns and my mother’s face.

The Kingdom of God is next to me.     
That’s what the holy father said.
It is closer.  Death is a seed
Gripped in my hand. I never thought
To know such wildwoods of despair.

What good has all my kindness done
That stood in the hall like a red branch?
What use was beauty’s melting snow?
Must I forgive this naked life
Of thorns, the sweat kissing my brow?

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Belle réussite"

I've had several books translated into French but never seen a French review of my writing... so what fun to see this review of "Static" and other stories from Extraordinary Engines in Les Notes d'Eumene de Cardie.

If you want the somewhat amusing Google translation, it's here.

And if you haven't bumped into this anthology before, it is a steampunk anthology edited by Nick Gevers and published by Solaris. The publishers bill it as the "definitive" steampunk anthology, but I don't actually think that was what the anthology tried to do--all the stories were new, requested from specific authors, so it is an all-original-publication anthology...

"Static" feels a bit Dickensian, in part because it hews to that curious and rare phenomenon, spontaneous combustion. You may remember how important that element is in Bleak House. If you haven't read Bleak House, please do.  So complex and inventive! Every now and then I feel a deep need to travel around in Bleak House. "Static" may also remind you a slight bit of Rapunzel. There's certainly a lot of hair! And a rather unattractive old woman.

I had a lot of fun making up a world where static poses a constant danger. Living in Yankeedom no doubt had some influence--that and being a mother of three and so doomed to much shocking laundry and crackling winter static in the No'th and cold.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Publishers Weekly" on Amazonian demands

Some of my regular readers have no doubt already seen this on Facebook or elsewhere, but I think it is important for both writers and readers to be informed about such issues--particularly those of us with publishers who sell on Amazon or who buy books from Amazon. Just as it is important for Amazon to understand the issues publishers face...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Diana Wynne Jones.  Christopher Logue.  And now Russell Hoban.  Unique, special writers.  And they all are gone from us this year, leaving behind gifts.  Howl's Moving Castle and the Chrestomanci novellas. War Music and All Day Permanent Red.  Riddley Walker and The Mouse and His Child and the Frances stories. And many more.

I was left behind
as wind divided for the ghost;
as grass first opened, silent,
and then, silent, closed.
    --from Rosanne Coggeshall (1946-2009), "Dead Quail"

Requiescant in pace

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Friday, December 09, 2011

Small private sale for Palace followers, Dec. 9-12

Signed or incribed copies for my blog readers--

If any of my readers are interested in picking up a signed or inscribed copy of The Throne of Psyche or Val/Orson, I have a few copies on hand that I am willing to sell at reduced price. If you want one, write me at camellia [at] (And if you should fall into the spam filter and not emerge and hear from me within a day, call for help here!) In addition, if you would like to reserve and then receive a signed or inscribed copy of A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage in March, you may claim that as well.  If you purchase one of those three books now, you may also buy some of my other books at a greater discount. To read more about my books, you may visit my website.

U.S. postage is $3.50 for a first book, .50 for each additional book. Query if outside the U. S.

Hardcover The Throne of Psyche ($30. retail)  $24.
Paperback  The Throne of Psyche ($18. retail) $14.
Hardcover A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage ($24. retail) $19.
Hardcover Val/Orson (In pounds, varies; was around $24. plus intl. shipping when I ordered) $20.

If you buy one of the above books, you may order signed/inscribed first edition hardcovers of The Wolf Pit ($24. retail), The Curse of the Raven Mocker ($18. retail), or Ingledove ($16. retail)  for $14. for the first and the latter two for $12. each. I no longer have copies of my three other books.

All of these copies are, of course, limited in number.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Train on the way--

The pre-order period has now begun...

A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage tells of a young boy's travels through the black heart of Depression America and his search for light both metaphorical and real. Writing with a controlled lyrical passion, Marly Youmans has crafted the finest, and the truest period novel I’ve read in years. 
                --Lucius Shepard

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Stephenson chooses Robertson on The Lydian Stones

Tuesday has come round again; please fly over to The Lydian Stones, where poet Hannah Stephenson chooses Robin Robertson. We have had a composer and a painter choose so far; it was time for a writer.

Monday, December 05, 2011

from "The Throne of Psyche"

Here's a little gift for all you passers-by who are still making out your Christmas lists... And I'll be doing some recommendations soon.

This poem first appeared (along with some others by me) in a feature about Southern women poets in storySouth and was collected in my newest book, The Throne of Psyche (Mercer University Press, 2011.)

SOUTHERN TO THE BONE                                              


To explain—as if she could!—
She says:  When I was young
And passing fair and strong
Like a girl in a fairy tale,
I ran from God and angels.
I flew to dark powers

--Though they aren’t dark but seeming-light,
With glamour on them like the fey—

And I frisked with the demons on the hills,
Then curled to sleep against their thighs,
A wing along my bow-bent spine.

I woke, dappled with dew.
And found that they had picked         
Me clean of clothes and more,
Treasures dear to me.

I was bereft.
I was:  weakness.

The rains


She says:

Rain is rain is rain.
This was no rain but light,
Or not light but arrowy
Fine peltings of a fire
Shot slantwise through the skin
Until I could not tell
What was me from rain
Or light, and river waves
Swamped me until I drowned
And washed into the sea,
To drift with sailor boys
Past luminous weeds and fish
Unto the roots of the world.


Don’t ask her any more
What Southern really means,
Or why we just can’t quit
Mulling over a tale
Of rum and slaves and gold.

She married powers of dark.
She burned in bright rivers.

That’s why.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Q-looniness abounds!

Thank you to managing editors Dave Bonta and Beth Adams for nominating "I Heard Their Wings Like the Sound of Many Waters" for a Pushcart prize. And to Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita, editors for the current issue.  I have enjoyed my contacts and new friendships with qarrtsiluni editors and readers (and my own one-time stint as editor with Ivy Alvarez) and am well pleased.

And I was interested to hear that "Two Poems from the Plant Kingdom" is one of the most-visited posts of the year, and that "Self-Portrait as Dryad, no. 5" holds the all-time record for visits--1,359 as of yesterday. Even without including those who choose to have qarrtsiluni delivered by email, it's hard to think of that level of readership from a print-only magazine.

Thank you so much, qarrtsiloonians!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Advent of: A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage

I just realized that a page for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage has been up at Mercer University Press... O dummy me! There's an image of the jacket (I was told that there will be a seal for The Ferrol Sams Award but that they were deciding where to put it--I guess they're still pondering!) as well as ordering information and flap copy.
The Burt & Burt design team does all the Mercer jackets and so no doubt deserve credit for this one. The camellia photograph was taken by publishing assistant Mary Beth Kosowski (I thought that was the only cover image until a few minutes ago!) I quite like the way the Camellia is a sort of luminous cloud or planet hanging overhead. 

What do you think? 

Like it?

Pub date will be March if we stay on track. Second pass notes are in, so no doubt we are on track!
A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage
By author: Marly Youmans
Product Code: 
Binding Information: Hardback 
Backorder policy
Price: $24.00
Qty:   (Don't click there but click on the first link in the post if you want to support the publisher by buying the book directly from them!)

After a death at the White Camellia Orphanage, young Pip Tatnall leaves Lexsy, Georgia to become a road kid, riding the rails east, west, and north. A bright, unusual boy who is disillusioned at a young age, Pip believes that he sees guilt shining in the faces of men wherever he goes. On his picaresque journey, he sweeps through society, revealing the highest and lowest in human nature and only slowly coming to self-understanding. He searches the points of the compass for what will help, groping for a place where he can feel content, certain that he has no place where he belongs and that he rides the rails through a great darkness. His difficult path to collect enough radiance to light his way home is the road of a boy struggling to come to terms with the cruel but sometimes lovely world of Depression-era America. On Youmans’s prior forays into the past, reviewers praised her “spellbinding force” (Bob Sumner, Orlando Sentinel), “prodigious powers of description” (Philip Gambone, New York Times), “serious artistry,” “unobtrusively beautiful language,” and “considerable power” (Fred Chappell, Raleigh News & Observer), “haunting, lyrical language and fierce intelligence” (starred review, Publishers Weekly.) Howard Bahr wrote of The Wolf Pit, “Ms. Youmans is an inspiration to every writer who must compete with himself. I had thought Catherwood unsurpassable, but Ms. Youmans has done it. Her characters are real; they live and move in the stream of Time as if they had passed only yesterday. Her lyricism breaks my heart and fills me with envy and delight. No other writer I know of can bring the past to us so musically, so truly.”

I like that quote and am now dedicating the book to the inimitable Mr. Bahr!