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Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Anesthesia Book Club

Anesthesia... I managed to catch a cold while ferrying our daughter home from Bard College. Nevertheless, I shall plow forth in stalwart fashion through the snow (alas, it is snowing on the flowers) and have dinner and a fine chat with The Anesthesia Book Club of Cooperstown and Fly Creek and Parts Ajacent! Millions of good jokes possible there, mostly about putting to sleep... Their book for this month is The Throne of Psyche, my poetry collection.

Cooperstonians: Despite what you may have heard, my reading for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage at The Green Toad Bookstore in Oneonta is on the 12th: Thursday, 7 p.m.

Read or download chapter one at Scribd.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Launch Day: Clare Dudman interview and more

"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

March 30th at last: today A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage officially enters the world. (To read the first chapter, go here. To read more about the book, go here. To buy the book in hardcover or as ebook from an online seller, go here. To find a store and obtain a copy from an indie, go to IndieBound.)

UK novelist Clare Dudman has contributed another piece to the launch interview, and you may find it at Keeper of the Snails.  If you have kept company with me here for a while, you may remember that poet Dave Bonta and I met up with Clare at Powys Castle in Wales, back in May of last year.

Two more launch announcement pieces are: poet Katie Hoerth's post at Katie's Blog; poet Robbi Nester's post at Shadow Knows.

Thank you to all of these writers. And if you don't know Clare's novels or Katie and Robbi's poetry, please take a closer look at their blogs...

Please pop down to the next post for a rather different celebration of the day!

Marly at "The Curator" of International Arts Movement

Photograph courtesy of Young Tran of San Francisco, California
 and Find Young Tran's photographs here.
Not only is it launch day for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (first chapter here), but I have something special up at The Curator, a magazine of International Arts Movement. Today's issue contains pieces related to the celebration of a long-ago gift of cherry trees from Japan to the states--the same cherry trees in bloom along the tidal basin of the Potomac in D. C.

Makoto Fujimura, nihongan artist and founder of IAM, asked me for a poem on the cherry trees, so mine is very much an occasional poem written to fulfill a request related to a particular event, the gift's centennial. (Thank you, Mako!) The poem is in six parts:

1. As Far as East from West
2. Self-portrait as Dryad, no. 9
3. East to West to East
4. The Dryad in Cherry-Blossom Time
5. Riddle
6. Tree Spirit Song

Read it here.

Wikipedia, cherry blossom: the flower of any of several trees of genus Prunus, particularly the Japanese Cherry, Prunus serrulata, which is sometimes called sakura after the Japanese (桜 or 櫻; さくら.)

Also up: "Ito Jakuchu: the Preserved Colors of Independence" by Makoto Fujimura, on the Ito Jakuchu exhibit, Colorful Realm: Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings at the National Gallery; Joshua Bengston's poignant "Waiting for Blooms" photographs taken at Hiyoriyama Park in Ishinomaki City.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pip Tattnall on the rails once more--

Here I am, waving to you from my daughter's apartment bedroom at Bard College. But I just wanted to say that wonderful artist Laura Frankstone has contributed to the launch interviews here. She asks about Pip's name... Some other writers have contributed new pieces as well, and I will thank them tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Download directly: chapter one, A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage

the first chapter

A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage
(Mercer University Press -
The Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction)

directly from

The No-Pig-in-a-Poke Post: read chapter one

If you would like to have a peep at A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage...

1.  Please send your email address to smaragdineknot [at] gmail [dot] com.
2.  Magic minions will then reply to you with the first chapter as a .pdf file attachment.
3.  If you would like to be put on a mailing list for a brief newsletter with news about the books of Marly Youmans, please say so in your email. Said techno-minions will respond when they feel so moved. Occasionally. Possibly from time to time. When they crawl out from under the beds with the dust bunnies.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

G's and Jeremy L. C. Jones

Jeremy L. C. Jones has a piece about his childhood in Cooperstown in Strange Horizons. I like it a lot, and not just because he gives me a nod! (Thanks, Jeremy!) I see Pomeroy Place every day of my life here, and I know a lot of practical, straightforward people who claim to have seen ghosts. Although I thought that our 1808 federal-style house had been one of the ones to escape haunting, evidently Mrs. Lee (two owners back) came down the front stairs and swept into the living room to find three little children dancing in a ring, each dressed in old-fashioned clothing. She turned to call to her husband upstairs, and when she looked, they were gone.

I'm not telling my youngest, who used to be powerfully afraid of "G's," as he called them. G's. It was dangerous even to say the word...

Pub date for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage arrives in four little days! Kindly spread the word, O great Word of Mouth...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pip Tattnall on the rails again--

Note the train, with the monkey to celebrate!
Here's another piece of the launch interview, this time by friend and artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins, hosted at his Artlog. He asks two questions; one comes from his years as a painter, the other from his earlier time playing many roles in the world of the stage--dancer, actor, choreographer, set designer, director, etc.

Comments off--please comment at Clive's Artlog.

So far: interviews

Though official pub date is Friday, books have arrived
and both hardcover and ebook are available
at the usual online outlets and bookstores.

Interviews to date
The most recent one is Susanna Leberman's post from yesterday.

Part one at Beth Adams (Phoenicia Publishing), The Cassandra Pages (setting and research); part two at Beth Adams (Phoenicia Publishing), The Cassandra Pages (uniqueness, advance, challenge)

At Dale Favier's Mole (origin stories and the Depression)

At Vicki Johnson's The Garden (time and modes of working)

At Rebecca Kuder (orphans and a link to "The Horse Angel")

At Susanna Leberman's Shedding the Inner Dialogue (on history and research)

At Marja-Leena Rathje, on printworks and other passions (the name of the orphanage)

At Hannah Stephenson's The Storialist (the feel of writing in different modes)

Good night--

I've been celebrating the end of the day by watching lots of Pina Bausch choreography on youtube. You can too! And now here's the trailer from Pina by Wim Wenders.  And now I am ready for dreaming.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

More on Pip Tattnall, riding the rails--

A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage
Mercer University Press, March 30th, 2012
hardcover or ebook
If you look at the list of top ten blog posts in the left-hand column, you will find that my number-one all-time blog post (standing now at 1,390 visitors, though "16 things I learned from editing qarrtsiluni" is close behind) was the first of the "I Interview My Visitors"series. The subject was Susanna Leberman of Lacey's Spring, Alabama--a wonderfully impetuous, lovely, passionate, careless-in-spelling-and-apostrophes, hat-wearing diarist on livejournal. She breaks my heart with her annual passage of grief for her much-beloved father; she fascinates me with her Eastern Star and her bonfires and her love for history and people of all ages and all sorts. She has a strain of goodness-without-goodiness that is rare, and she spills over with a little more life than most people can muster.

Now Susanna has asked me a question as part of the book-launch interviews for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage. You may find her right here.

Comments are off; please leave any comments on Susanna's livejournal site!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

More of the interview by Beth Adams--

La dame aux camélias: talking to Marly, part 2

Part two of an interview between Beth Adams of Phoenicia Publishing and me is now up--hope you will take a look and enjoy it! Publication day for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is in one week.

Comments are off here, as I would rather Beth get any comments you might like to make. Many thanks to her.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

La dame aux camélias, no. 1

Beth Adams--publisher-editor of Phoenica Publishing, qarrtsiluni managing co-editor with Dave Bonta, writer, artist, singer, and much more--has posted the first part of an interview with me.

Please take a look! You'll not that there's evidently a poet's rule that Beth and I must wear a black shirt, similar glasses, have hair of a certain length, and no makeup--bit comic. Unfortunately we couldn't both manage tall. The picture was taken across the street from my house by Beth's husband, Jonathan Sa'adah.

Comments are off here, as I'd much rather she have them.

* * *

Cooperstown-Oneonta area readers, the reading at The Green Toad Bookstore has been changed to April 12th at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sundry, again--

My writing room.
Weaving by my daughter when small;
Egyptian diorama by child no. 3;
Welsh postcard;
tiny poetry book by Jeffery Beam.

IAM-Otsego takes another little step: my new group blog. (I'm neglecting The Lydian Stones at the moment because: a. I am busy; b. nobody has sent anything new, and I haven't bugged any of the people in queue. And people need to be bugged for such things!)


Reminder: books shipped three or four days ago from the Georgia warehouse to indies and online stores. If you are an Amazon or buyer and want a copy of A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, know that the pre-order deep-discount will go POOF! very soon.


I'm very sorry, but I am now too swamped to read manuscripts, read ARCs and do blurbs, etc. Temporarily saying a big fat "NO!" to all such things. I have now finished all but one of those sorts of obligations and shall not take on any more for some time. Update: As soon as one posts something like this, a request immediately arrives! Apologies to T. Aaron Payton, and good luck to him on his first book, The Constantine Affliction, a steampunk adventure forthcoming from Night Shade Books.


Finished Mundome while folding a mountain range of laundry. The book strikes me as having been an excellent start for A. G. Mojtabai. Clever handling of point of view. I'm going to have to read some more by her and see how she progressed.


A full-length interview for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage will be up Thursday-Friday, so please come back tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What I'm reading, etc.

Today, when I'm not fooling with taxes and other distasteful tasks, I am reading or writing. And what I am reading is A. G. Mojtabai's first book, Mundome. And sometimes listening to Far Away and Long Ago by W. H. Hudson, which I read as a child several times. And now and then reading a poem or two from Jennifer Reeser's new book, Sonnets from the Dark Lady and Other Poems. It's a strange but good combination.

Leave news of what you are reading! And if anybody has a brilliant thought on books for athletic boys of 14, leave that also, please.

Ten days until A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage appears. Pre-orders will be done in a day or so, as books have been shipped from the warehouse. Much to do.

Monday, March 19, 2012

"Like mind"

As a writer immured in an attractive bit of the boondocks, I'm feeling thankful for the right uses of the internet for exactly this reason: 

The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Without the sense of fellowship with men of like mind, of preoccupation with the objective, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific research, life would have seemed to me empty.   --Einstein

So thank you, my fellows, known and unknown!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ordering "White Camellia Orphanage" in Europe

Ordering A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage elsewhere

The information below is especially for Lucy Kempton of the lovely Box Elder, who asked about ordering from France. As I have friends in other spots in Europe, I thought that I would go ahead and post, although evidently the publisher will send me more information about online chains in Europe like and so on. I'll add anything else that's helpful in the comments. Thanks to Mary Beth at Mercer for answering me on a Sunday! (I should also note that as the book is still in pre-order for a few more days, almost $8. off may help with shipping from,, and any other place with pre-order discount.)

Eurospan (via Mary Beth)

Our European distributor is Eurospan, based in London.  They are now handling our books for all of Europe and Asia and other lands not American.  A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is listed on their website, but the price is not showing as of today.  Please note that when Eurospan orders from us, we ship to an expediter in the US who then ships on to London, so it may take several days to arrive in their warehouse.

You might remind your readers that A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is also available as an e-book, which would certainly cut down on the high shipping cost. The e-book version will be available once we actually “release” the physical book this week.  The ISBN for your e-book is 9780881463644.

Eurospan (via Barbara Keene)

The international options for the purchase of your book by individual customers are Eurospan Bookstore or (through the individual country websites – , etc.)  The printed book will be available through both websites.  And the Kindle edition just though Amazon.

Eurospan is also our international sales rep and promotes our books to bookstores and libraries worldwide through sales calls, catalogs, and email promotions.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Riding the rails with Pip Tattnall, no. 5

When Zephyrus eke with his sweetè breath 
Inspirèd hath in every holt and heath 
The tender croppès...

Vicki Johnson, known to many as zephyr, photographer and gardener at The Garden, has made a lovely page for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage--a pondering and summing up of me, along with information about the new book, links to some of my poems and posts, and interview questions that touch on what it means to be a mother and a writer. Comments off--please comment there. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day--drive a few snakes around town in celebration of the good saint who drove snakes from Ireland, and let them off past city limits. As it is also my mother's birthday, and she meets entirely too many snakes while gardening in the mountains, I leave her out of this festive request!

Step Gently Out

In order to counteract my sudden, depressing thought that good books sailing out into the world are riding the roiling waves under a gray, many-shaded Niagara of fanfiction and ephemeral rubbish, I offer this little book trailer--temptation to buy lovely pictures by Rick Lieder with a poem by Helen Frost.

Rick Lieder, photographer, and Helen Frost, poet--

Step Gently Out | A nature picture book for all ages from Step Gently Out on Vimeo.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Riding the rails with Pip Tattnall, part 4

Writer Rebecca Kuder has posted another section of my one-and-many interview in celebration of the launch of A Death at the White Camellia OrphanageRebecca has finished a novel, The Watery Girl, and is now at work on  The Eight Mile Suspended Carnival. She is an interesting woman with a colorful background in theatre. Today she writes, teaches, and makes Sanity Creek Sock Monkeys. ("Make monkeys, not war!") She's also a mother and married to writer Rober Freeman Wexler, who did the book design for my novel Val/Orson and blogs at Laconic Writer. Many thanks to her.

Elsewhere, books have arrived at Mercer University Press warehouses, and are said to be beautiful. Evidently the seal in the final version is gold, but otherwise just like the image here.

Comments are off. If you wish to leave a comment, please leave on Rebecca's blog! UPDATE: I've had a batch of people say they couldn't post on her Wordpress site with the email address they used. You might try using an alternate one, as that seems to work--at least it worked for me on another Wordpress site today. And if anybody else wants to participate in the launch interview, please write me at smaragdineknot [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Two weeks from pub date

A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage
Winner of The Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction
Mercer University Press, 2012

I have updated the page for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage. (The Events page has also been updated.) Since pub date is now two weeks away, pre-pub discounts at the big online venues will be ending soon as books begin to arrive at the indies and chains. More interviews (by multi-media artist and writer Beth Adams of Phoenicia Publishing, artist Laura Frankstone, writer Rebecca Kuder, artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins, and other interesting artists and bloggers) will be up on various sites in the coming weeks.

On abundance:
Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a first-rate discussion of the changes in the publishing industry and how publishers and many writers (i.e. those who began with traditional publishers) are caught between the old world of scarcity and the new world of abundance. Found via Nick Tramdack on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Brontë Sisters as publishing power-dolls!

In taking a small vacation from various and sundry hideous financial documents that I must peruse and fill out, I found this. No doubt (for your own weird or stressed reasons) you need a zany culture-mocking break as much as I did. So here you go:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tribulation Tuesday

Alas, I shall spend the day on thorny financial documents (the sort of thing one does at this time of the year.)  Picture me with hair on end, the tips smoldering, eyes crossed, my mouth moving with faint cries of anguish.

and JOY
Snow's melting. Grackles are marching around the back porch, occasionally stabbing at Susquehanna's dogfood. Aconites are face up and snowdrops are bowing down. The sky has some lovely passages of blue. I never trust that we won't get a gigantic snow until after March 25th, but it's looking good for spring!

and PLAY
So please scroll down and check out links to pieces of the A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage launch interview--some interesting people have asked to participate, and more questions will be up soon. Old-fashioned word of mouth is golden, online or off. (If you are a blogger and want to play, write me at smaragdineknot [at] gmail [dot] com.) The book will be out on the 30th, so the pre-pub order period is nearly over, as books tend to arrive before the date set.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Riding the rails with Pip Tattnall, no. 3

It's The Palace at 2:25 a.m., and I must go to sleep--just uploaded a post and then promptly got word from Finnish-Canadian artist Marja-Leena Rathje that her post on A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is up. So please go and see her piece of the launch interview--she asked an interesting question about the title!

Thank you, Marja-Leena. And now, since she is on the other side of continent from me, I must--yawn--curl up under my down comforter and snooze. Good night.

Comments off on this one--please comment there!

Gaps and generation

The launch posts for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (several up already) have made me reflect on what I've said above the book being in part a kind of "filling of gaps" in family stories--not literally, but in a kind of search for wholeness or completion, even if it is not accurate to a family history.

I remembered Tolkien's use of philology and how that worked in a similar manner for him in The Lord of the Rings as a striking example of holes in material as being generative. Tom Shippey talks about Tolkien's inspiration as bedding itself in "literary gaps, errors, and contradictions" in J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century (p. 325). and how through comparative philology, he could feel his way back to concepts long vanished.  "However fanciful Tolkien's creation of Middle-earth was, he did not think that he was entirely making it up. He was 'reconstructing', he was harmonizing contradictions in his source-texts, sometimes he was supplying entirely new concepts (like hobbits), but he was also reaching back to an imaginative world which he believed had once really existed, at least in a collective imagination: and for this he had a very great deal of admittedly scattered evidence" (p. xv).

It's the same idea, although in Tolkien's case a far more complex one:  the knowledge of early language giving rise to thoughts about word origins and a sense of the past that  allowed him to bridge uncrossable places in texts.  Hints and clues (the word for dwarf in various languages, mentions of elves, scraps of lost poems) gave rise to a whole world, much as the tip of an iceberg makes one imagine and half-perceive a great, visionary mountain of ice under the sea.

Mine is a very different sort of book, despite there being a journey in each, and the bridge-making relates to different sorts of gaps. But the inspiration comes down to the same thing: a longing to know and understand absences makes the writer dream up a kind of wholeness--not an accurate wholeness but one that is true to the story and to the bits of existing knowledge.

Launch interview, part 2: at Dale Favier's mole burrow
Launch interview, part 1: at Hannah Stephenson's The Storialist

Invitation to participate

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Marly talks to Richard Dawkins

Faux-talk no. 2

   BATTER my heart, three, person’d God; for you
   As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
   That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee, and bend
   Your force to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
     --John Donne*

My first talk of this peculiar sort was with Seth Godin. I enjoyed it so much that I have decided to seize Richard Dawkins for my next! (I'm pondering Benjamin Franklin for faux-talk no. 3.) Blogging being what it is, a quick-and-dirty activity, I have pilfered my Dawkins-quotes from a real-Richard-Dawkins interview and from  I hope that my e-Richard will not mind if I tease him a bit, though I am a little frightened when I remember that militant atheists often appear deficient in the small matter of having a sense of humor.

Disclaimer: I have read numerous articles about Richard Dawkins and interviews with him, but I have never read his books.  Second disclaimer: I believe I am safe in asserting that he has never read any of my books either—or, indeed, any stray poem or story of mine.

As in the conversation with Seth Godin, I have the good luck of being the blogger, and so I get to have the last word!


Professor Richard Dawkins:
There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?

One reason why fairies and magic are so very popular these days is precisely the decline of religion. That is, magic whispers to us a simple thought, that there is more to the universe than meets the eye—perhaps in particular, more than meets the science professor’s eye.

Professor Richard Dawkins:
It has become almost a cliché to remark that nobody boasts of ignorance of literature, but it is socially acceptable to boast ignorance of science and proudly claim incompetence in mathematics.

That’s an amusing remark.

It’s human nature; people always think that their own field hogs more than its share of public ignorance. All you have to do is look at many blogs and at people’s choice lists for book of the year and so on to find out that, yes, people do freely and openly and even happily and with gusto confess their ignorance of literature.

A perennial favorite in the world of social media and blogs is the confession of “great books I should have read but haven’t read,” which people find amusing. Long threads invariably ensue. (Here, I go on record as confessing that I doubt that I will ever read Frank Norris’s trilogy, though I have read excerpts, and I have read McTeague several times. And I liked it, so you would think that I might at least work my way through the first book of the trilogy. See? We like confession.)

Furthermore, all you have to do is look at what people buy in the way of books to discover that many of them are not actually acquainted with or interested in literature.

Professor Dawkins:
I think my ultimate goal would be to convert people away from particular religions toward a rationalist skepticism, tinged with . . .  no, that’s too weak . . . glorying in the universe and in life. Yes, I would like people to be converted away from religion to skepticism.

A strange thing I observe is that every believer has often experienced doubt, but not every doubter has experienced belief. So believers are quite acquainted with skepticism, and doubters are by necessity in a parlous state of ignorance about faith. I suspect that leaves the believers with a pronounced advantage in the area of understanding.

Professor Richard Dawkins:
Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.

Let’s look at a particular person in our time instead of institutions and great masses of time.  Most of us have trouble compassing many institutions and great expanses of time. 

I am thinking of a certain man who has been both an unbeliever and a believer. He is perfectly ordinary, of above-average intelligence, although he has once heard an unearthly voice (I expect you think that makes him stupid or mad, and I don’t suppose he would care if you said so) and often felt transfigured by an influx of what he calls spirit—the Holy Spirit, to be precise. He does attend church because he thinks worship and being part of a community are important. He strives after discipline, devotion, study, and communion with God.

Now, since you don’t have faith, it’s very hard to convey to you what he might possibly mean by communion with God—by the great rushing flood of consciousness that pours through him like a greeting from another world.

But it seems, Richard Dawkins, that this experience is the sort that one desires more and more after the first encounter. Good adjectives for his state in communion: over-powering; bright; sweeping; ecstatic.

Now if you could have an overpowering experience of ecstasy, bright and sweeping, would you object? And if you, Richard Dawkins, tried to explain it away, would all that explaining make such an experience less vital and powerful? And if, as you say, there is no good or evil and so on, why would you want him to stop having this experience of communion, which is a big, potent, and exciting thing in his life and transforms him for the better?


According to your lights, there is no good or evil, and so this can’t actually be a good experience, can it? It’s just an experience, however thrilling.

So stick a neurological explanation on the experience, as though having a description of bodily responses explained them away, and get on with your campaign, Richard Dawkins!

Professor Richard Dawkins:
What has 'theology' ever said that is of the smallest use to anybody? When has 'theology' ever said anything that is demonstrably true and is not obvious? What makes you think that 'theology' is a subject at all?

Spoken like a proper professor! 

Why is it that knowing much about one subject makes people think they are capable of pronouncing on any subject—or makes them assume other traditionally-studied subjects are lesser? (I say “traditionally-studied” because such odd things have crept in. Education majors. P. E. majors. Recreation majors. And so on.)

I do think it is a subject and that there are many interesting books in the library under that rubric, although I gather you fought against a named chair in Theology (after you secured your own named chair, of course, in your own area. Entirely wise and very understandable and 100% grade-A human.)

Most people who choose to have the experience of worship—and here I’m talking about Christians, because the village where I live is composed of Christians, agnostics, atheists, and a sprinkling of foreign students, some of whom are Buddhist or Hindu--don’t know a huge amount about Theology. They know about the Bible and study it; they do read a certain number of secondary-source books, mostly written for a lay audience; they seek after God; and they are involved in outreach and service to others.

A few can read Hebrew or Greek and are more scholarly. One studied medieval Latin but has moved away, alas. I find the presence of these students in such a tiny place to be surprising. Oddly enough, they have things to say that make me think that your ‘theology’ (note scare quotes) is a subject after all.

Perhaps you could attend a reputable Divinity School in your retirement and find out whether it is a subject or not—find out exactly what it is.

Professor Richard Dawkins:

The fact that life evolved out of nearly nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved out of literally nothing, is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice.

Thank you.
*John Donne, metaphysical poet and writer of masterful devotions and sermons (as Dean of St. Paul’s), whose words are still worth reading all these centuries later.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Riding the rails with Pip Tattnall, no. 2

Another piece of the launch interview for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage can be found--it's going to be a bit like a scavenger hunt--at Mole's burrow. Dale Favier asked me an interesting question about the origin of the novel and the Depression, and I have responded with a basket of family eels, slippery bits of stories and mysteries (illegitimacy, runaways, Southern racial mixing) that intrigued me as a child and young woman. Still do.

Many thanks to Dale Favier, who has recently published a collection of poetry, Opening the World, with Pindrop Press in the UK. (If you are a blogger and want to ask a question and host Q and A plus some information--or else host a short excerpt and information--please write me at smaragdineknot [at]

Part one of the interview and comments can be found at Hannah Stephenson's The Storialist Comments off--please comment on Dale's blog or facebook site.

The Desert is not a setting

Contemplating the death of Jean Giraud a.k.a. Moebius a.k.a. Gir and how he said that encountering the desert in Mexico cracked open his soul...

"...An inner desert, into which each one of us must one day venture. It is a void; an empty space for solitude and testing." --Frère Ivan

"But now, in its utmost desolation, I began at last to understand its attraction. It was the awful scale of the thing, the suggestions of virginity, the fusion of pure elements from the heavens above and the earth beneath which were untrammelled and untouched by anything contrived by any human being."
    --Geoffrey Moorhouse

Friday, March 09, 2012

Riding the rails with Pip Tattnall: no. 1

The first piece of my one-and-many interview for the March 30th book launch of A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is up at Hannah Stephenson's grand blog, The Storialist. The interview will be strewn, like a dismantled Osiris, around the world, and to see and read all one has to travel and pick up the pieces. Why? Because it's a traveling book set in the Depression, and protagonist Pip Tattnall is fleeing the tragedy at the heart of his childhood and growing up as a road kid, riding the rails into manhood.

And whether you shop at your local indie (mine are The Book Nook and Augur's in Cooperstown, both a portion of larger stores, and The Green Toad in Oneonta) or at a chain shop or online, I hope you will want A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage for your very own. It's close to my heart, this book, and uses landscapes and facts close to my family history.

Thanks to Hannah for her interesting question and the time she spent making a post about the book! Comments off; please comment at The Storialist.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Very High Romance

You know, I just tumbled into a site where I read the most dreadful, laughable bit of a novel--all full of grammar mistakes and European counts and barons and crazy syntax and misspellings and lovely young girls and jewels and passionate flingings-about. Then I read a statement by the author, all about her joy in making stories and the stored-up treasure in her heart, and I was so, so touched somehow that this royal nonsense, poorly-worded and poorly-punctuated and packed with rubbishy dreams, came flowing from her heart, so that she thanked God for the goodness of the world and for her precious gift.

Still in pre-order.
The Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction
La! I was abashed.

All the same, if you have to choose between that one and mine, I do advise--forgive me!--that you send for mine. There are no counts and barons and jewels (except for a bit of jet bead that some boys pretend is a jewel), and though there is love, it is often unspoken or refused. No Cinderella-worthy carriages fetch a baron home; no, just a train to go steaming by, if only the traveler can catch hold without paying with a leg or life. I trust there are no mistakes on hand, no bizarre commas or lack thereof, no grammatical contortions.

But the joy of telling stories: evidently that is the same.