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Tilly in the garden

An over-piled work desk and friends/family coming to dinner this evening means this will be a very quick posting...but here are a few magpie gleanings I bookmarked to share with you this week:

* Nick Green (author of The Cat Kin) discusses magical cats in the Fairy Tale Reflections series at Katherine Langrish's Seven Miles of Steel Thistles.

* Patricia A. McKillip  discusses her book Bards of the Bone Plain at Locus Online. (It's an excerpt from a longer interview, "Fairy Tales Matter," in the print version of Locus.)

* Robin McKinley discusses her fairy tale novel Deerskin at Days in the Life (via Surlalune, where Heidi Anne Heiner posts a response. Readers might also be interested in Helen Pilinovsky's article on Donkeyskin/Deerskin/Allerleirauh fiction, in the JoMA archives.)

* Harriet Evans discusses ebooks and editors in The Guardian.

* The Los Angeles Times discovers steampunk.

* Rex sulks at John Barleycorn.

* The Intern discusses finding beauty in your manuscript, when you've misplaced it, at The Intern.

* Angela Bell follows the Mallorcan trail of George Sand and Chopin at Bright Star.

* NPR (National Public Radio in America) is compiling a list of readers' favorite sf and fantasy books. (Please vote if you can, as it would be nice to have some mythic fiction and literary fantasy on their final list.)

* Ellen Datlow won two Bram Stoker Awards from the Horror Writers' Association this past week: one for her anthology Haunted Legends, co-edited with Nick Mamatas, and one a Life Achievement Award. (Congratulations, Ellen and Nick!) I recommend Ellen's lovely acceptance speech for the latter,  which she has posted on her LJ page.

* Art recommendations this week: Rima Staines displays some gorgeous new paintings and drawings at The Hermitage; Lori Field shows a splendidly dream-like new piece, "My Love for You is a Stampede of Horses," at Saints, Warriors, Tigers, Lovers, Art (I love the deer); while over on the New York Times website, there's a terrific slide show of photographs by Nancy LeVine -- taken from her most recent project: photographing aging dogs across America (via Gwenda Bond). And if you haven't visited Midori Snyder's In the Labyrinth lately, there are several delights in store, from Persian and Nigerian art to djinns and German black papercuts.

* Videos this week: Basil Jones & Adrian Kohler, of Handspring Puppet Company, discuss the creation of their remarkable "War Horse" puppet; and Malcolm Gladwell discusses the 10,000 hour rule (via Debbie Styer at Bluehour Studio).

Have a good weekend.

The lessons you are meant to learn

A random still life on the studio work tableRandom still life on the studio table, with paints, paper, and birdnest

"What you need to know about [your next piece of art] is contained in the last piece. The place to learn about your materials is in the last use of your materials. The place to learn about your execution is in your execution. The best information about what you love is in your last contact with what you love. Put simply, your work is your guide: a complete, comprehensive, limitless reference book on your work. There is no other such book, and it is yours alone. It functions this way for no one else. Your fingerprints are all over your work, and you alone know how they got there. Your work tells you about your working methods, your discipline, your strengths and weaknesses, your habitual gestures, your willingness to embrace.

"The lessons you are meant to learn are in your work. To see them, you need only look at the work clearly -- without judgement, without need or fear, without wishes or hopes. Without emotional expectations. Ask your work what it needs, not what you need. Then set aside your fears and listen, the way a good parent listens to a child."    -- David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

On Your Desk


Today we have workspace photographs from different sides of the world: Christchurch, New Zealand and Oxford, England. First up: Joel Le Blanc in Christchurch, who says:

"I am a freelance writer, poet, book reviewer, editor, herbalist, reiki teacher and unofficial dog-sitter. I live with my partner in a hundred year old cottage -- and I don't think the house is haunted, but you never know.

"The photo above shows the oak desk where I work, which is a storm of chaos -- so much so I think I could divine the future from the configuration of receipts, papers, books and mementos that tend to populate it. I keep textbooks on medicinal plants, natural medicine and nutrition close by for my health articles. But if the science and health all gets a bit much for my brain, all I have to do is turn to my left and stare lovingly at the growing collection of fantasy and mythology books accruing on my bookshelves. As you can see in the close-up photo below, I am working towards a full Charles De Lint Collection...."




"The office I work in doubles as an art studio for my partner, so the room is filled with the delicious smells of oil paint and turps at various times of the month. Amongst all this I write my poetry, stories, blogs and get my freelance work done. Sometimes I sit studiously at the desk, but after a childhood growing up in the empty and wild north of New Zealand it is difficult to stay cooped up in the studio/office all day. Because of this I get out and about as often as possible with a notebook to a library or cafe (one day I dream to be a writer gypsey on the road, like Rima Staines in her wagon!). If it's a rainy day, like today, I will probably just curl up on my sofa with a hot cup of coffee and a blanket and get a bit of my writing done there."

"I wanted to include one photo at least of my dogs -- this one (below) is called Latte. While I am working hard at my laptop he often will curl up on my toes and sleep, hardly ever leaving my side. We have other dogs, but Latte is the one most dedicated to the 'cause'. At some stage I hope to include him as a character in one of my short stories."



"The newest addition to the team is my Samsung smartphone. I remember quite clearly announcing to my partner in our kitchen that I wanted to disconnect from technology more and distance myself from the online universe. Sometime in the week that followed, it appeared clear that I absolutely needed to spend a week's earnings on a new smartphone. I am not sure how I came to that conclusion, but it's been a great ally to my writing ever since, enabling me to go out to parks and cafe's and get my work done there. I often need the Internet to read medical research or talk with clients, and this little guy helps me do just that and get out of the house at the same time."

Joel is the founder and editor of Wildberries, the online journal of mythic fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. You can learn more about Joel and his work by visiting his writing blog, The Rabbit Hill.

Next, we go to Oxford to visit the workspace of Dr. Juliette Harrisson, who says:

"I'm a writer, freelance editor, Classics and ancient history lecturer and blogger. My desk is where I edit, write lectures, blog, attempt to write novels, research, mark electronically-submitted essays, etc., etc., etc...."


"I rent a single room in a friends' house, so the first photo (above) is of the room where I sleep, eat, work and pretty much do everything!"


"The second photo is a slightly closer view of the desk, during a rare burst of spring cleaning, with my music on."

Desk pic edit

"The third photo shows the view from the desk chair, complete with stuffed animals, coffee, fridge magnets."


"The fourth photo, above, is a close-up on the Latin and Greek books (and chocolates!) that live under the computer."


"I always have a cup of coffee (sometimes tea) on my desk and, as the final photo demonstrates, in the evening it is sometimes joined by a glass of wine!

"On my blog, Pop Classics, I review all sorts of bits and pieces of modern popular culture that feature anything Greek or Roman -- the 'Mythology' tab is quite over-used! Readers of this blog might also be interest in my Mum's website: she's a fine artist who moved into textiles when serious neurological illness made painting incresingly difficult."

Thank you, Joel and Juliette, for contributing to the "On Your Desk" series! There are more desks & workspaces coming up next week, so stay tuned....


All readers of this blog are welcome to contribute to the "On Your Desk" series. You'll find more information (and the address where you should send your photo) in the first post of the series, and you can view the full series here.

Happy Midsummer's Day

Studio doorwaySweeping out the old and opening to the new: The studio doorway on Midsummer's Day.


"Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood."
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh,
a Dartmoor root faery from A Midsummer Night's Faery Tale.
You can read an interview with young Sneezle himself
on the Greenman Review site here.


Tilly in the studio gardenTilly in the studio garden on a blustery Midsummer's Day.