Photo Blog: August and Some September

Photo Blog: August and Some September

In June, I graduated from my Master’s program (in folklore). Traveled to the (Oregon) coast for some time by the sea and by the fire.  Then I took a thirty four hour train to San Diego, where I wrote and read stories all day, every day, for six weeks at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. In short, it was incredible. I’ll write about it soon.

I returned home to alpine lakes and sushi and sea monsters. Went wandering around my neighborhood early in the morning and found a mysterious display of sticks and acorns.

I had an impending show to prepare for with Felled, which meant many, many practices. Built a gong stand, did some shirt designs; collaborated with our bassist Isamu Sato for the Felled shirt. The other shirt I designed myself, for the neofolk band Wēoh.

The show was great; good line up (atmospheric black metal band With the End in Mind was on tour; Solace from Salem opened with enthralling, earthen harp music.) More recently, but still musically, I headed to Horning’s Hideout (a thirty minute drive into the woods from Portland) to go to Faerieworlds and see Wardruna. Maybe sometime later I’ll try to write up what that was like; all I can say now is that there is absolutely nothing like seeing Wardruna live. Nothing. Nothing. When I wasn’t watching Wardruna  do their soundcheck, or perform, I spent most of my time just wandering the crowds (and muddy roads) and the surrounding forest. Startled a creature that was probably a deer, but had the tail of a cougar. Found a fir cone with mushrooms growing out of it.

Returned home from Faerieworlds just today, spent morning till dusk cleaning bones, picking amaranth, unpacking. The bones will soon become instruments and jewelry.

Till next time.

me snow fb_2.

Arctic Salvage

Saw two of my favorite bands back-to-back in late September. Day one, I waited against El Corazon’s freshly painted walls, slightly sticky and pungent, the alternate scrape of brick and splinters catching my back. I watched the sky and the planes in it, and waited, and listened to the sound check. Not many people showed up early. More next time, maybe.

That night was Pain of Salvation, of Sweden, of rich and rending and vulnerable music with unbreakable bones. The set they played was good, but cut short by twenty minutes due to…frustrating reasons. It meant they didn’t play anything from their most recent albums, which was a little disappointing; the music on Road Salt I and II makes me feel storm-wrecked and campfire-warmed. But they played well and sweaty, nonetheless, and anyway, I’ve been waiting since I was fourteen to see them, so finally watching them play not a foot from me was a relief. Sometimes release is all you need, and I got a little of that that night (and a hunger), so I’m okay.

The next night was Sonata Arctica of Finland. I’ve seen them six or seven times now, but the show they played on the twenty-fifth felt like one of the best I’ve attended. One of the better shows of my life, too. Even managed to worm my way to the stage’s front and center, despite being too poor to afford VIP tickets. And as usual, I snared my usual drum stick from Sonata’s drummer, Tommy Portimo, which makes that the…sixth? stick he’s handed to me personally, with a thank you. Super nice of him, though I’m forever paranoid of the moment he realizes he’s been handing drum sticks to the same girl every time he’s in Seattle.

The next morning, I was up by 5:30. I had orientation for my grad program five hours south. I photographed my mom’s bacon-lattice masterpieces, packed the houseplant she’d been watching, wrapped Cavan’s breakfast sandwiches, and said goodbye to her and my dad and the evergreens, and damp air that feeds me better than anywhere else.

swiftly

First, new art:

maedhros1

Want more art? Click here.

Then, writing:

I have a short story up at Shimmer: “The Seaweed and the Wormhole.” It’s about a swamp monster and his boyfriend. If you want more about Ebb and Peregrine, the main characters, I’ve posted a couple of fragments from Ebb’s diary. They can be read here.

Shimmer also has an interview with me.

The second chapter of Skyglass is now up, and free to read for a limited time. Here’s chapter one if you need to catch up. Also, Sparkler posted a cast picture for Skyglass. Can’t wait for the last three character designs; it’ll be pretty excellent to see all seven of them lined up together. Art by Mookie, who is amazing.

Other things:

I spent the last couple days going to (death) metal and non-metal shows, running around the Oregon Country Fair, sketching people, eating good food, and just generally getting up to benign mischief. I’ll post the sketches + maybe some video soon.

Sex, Elves, and Rock 'n' Roll (Skyglass Ch1 is alive!)

Sex, Elves, and Rock 'n' Roll (Skyglass Ch1 is alive!)

Read chapter 1 of my novel Skyglass right this very sweet moment. Really. There are elf-powered plant cities, and fire-cats, and gun chases, and disgruntled drummers.

Have a (sexy) prologue! It’s not necessary for understanding the main story, but utterly worth a read for the multiple kinds of fuckery, interrogation of humanity, female agency, and space-battles (naked newborn vs. space ship!).

Alternatively: hop straight into chapter 1.

Also: check out the series page. And the character bios/designs! And this sweet magazine cover. Be sure to read/listen to everything mentioned thereon (Awake, as per usual, is my go-to. Ugh, so good.)–plus the bits not on the cover (personally, I’m looking forward to devouring the second part of Dinner Ditz [divorced dad destroys dinner!]):

sparklermag-issue11

Writing on My Feet

Writing on My Feet

For months, I’ve been sick of sitting.  I perch on my chair, well-intentioned and driven: I will write 4,000 words, a blog post, answer emails/interviews/facebook messages from friends who deserve more, better attention than my easily-distracted mind can offer.  I have a butterfly brain, regularly diverted by the winds of tangent (tumblr, for example, is a temptation-ridden custom-tailored black hole overspilling with Lokis, blood-stained elk skulls, Totoro gifs, and cosmic jellyfish).

One thing I know about myself is that I function better when I move.  Anger can be destroyed with a bike ride, deadend cyclic anatomical self-antagonizing can be crushed by thirty minutes of high-intensity interval training.  So I’ve known for awhile that the reason I spend more time aimlessly flipping tabs when I sit at my computer is because I’m sitting, stationary.   The solution, naturally, is to stop.

The past few weeks, I’ve been sitting (bad!) and thinking of various solutions.  I knew I wanted a standing desk, and that I didn’t want to spend any money, or nail something together, if I could avoid it–mostly because I wanted to be standing, now, and not work too hard to do so (which, really, just sounds like another bout of laziness).  At any rate, two days ago, I decided that my computer was staying off until I’d solved my problem.  I stood for a moment, thought, and promptly found a solution.

My solution was percussive: I found a drum.  As a drummer, this wasn’t exactly a challenge–my apartment is full of them.  But the trick was finding the right one.  The right one turned out to be a cajón.  Which is amusing, since this particular drum is meant to be sat upon.  Happily, though, when resting sideways on my desk, it adds just the right amount of height for me to stand and type on my laptop (or distract myself with an inverted drum, which loses none of its sonic potential).  Return it to the ground, and I have my drum again–or a chair, if I’m being lethargic.

I like  my instruments to be instruments, but I’m also the kind of person who like an uncluttered, multifunctional space.  The musical desk satisfies my obsessive-percussing and organization-addiction in a single hit (a gong hit that rattles through my skull and satisfactorily shakes the compulsive quirks of my brain).

standingdesk

Skald

Like Thor and Loki?  Listen to folk metal.

Before I go further, let me freely admit that I am biased.  I play in a neofolk metal band.  I listen to folk metal.  But hear me out–folk metal is obsessed  (sometimes too much, I admit) with putting myth and lore into song.  Feral, shadowed, gut-pounding song, that is also sometimes cheesy, sometimes terrifying, sometimes so sad it’s all you can do not to freeze and sink into the earth and bury yourself with its bones.

But folk metal is especially keen on Norsk lore.  Give me some time, and I will post songs very appropriate to Thor and Loki, but for now, have this song-tale:

Fejd’s Gryning, played with all traditional Swedish instruments (minus the drum set and keys).  Admittedly, not quite folk metal, but I still call it such, because its spine is wild and chaotic and dark (also, heavy percussion and double kick–which as a drummer, is always satisfying).  Also, lead vocalist Patrik Rimmerfors is kinda how I imagine Thor when I read fic…

Anyway.  Personally, I think Thor would be a great lover of folk metal.  Loki not so much, perhaps.  He, I think, is more of a melodic doom-metal sort of guy god.

Plan B: Seduce a Warlord

Plan B: Seduce a Warlord

I used to tell myself that art was a good substitute for love.   That if I didn’t find someone, I’d just drum harder and write with blood in my pen.  But on the days I felt particularly hysterical and silly, I promised myself that one day, I’d hunt down Warlord Nygård and make him mine.

This man:

warlord

(gif pillaged from dontpokethewarlord)

So, let’s cut this loose.  Much like a tent spelled with an Undetectable Extension Charm, the psychological space that got me to this point is much larger on the inside than it appears from the outside looking in–mostly because I’m great at making like a black hole and squishing myself into small spaces the density of me really has no business being in in the first place.

Interrogation time.  Why him?  Because I’ve only ever been attracted to musicians.  Also, I spent hours  running through the woods, listening to the songs he spawned with Turisas.  Because, after all, you make deep bonds with the music you listen to while your pulse runs in cut time.

Also, it gave me something to laugh (hysterically) at whenever I felt alone and emotively deprived.  Too shy to open your mouth and say I like it when you sing, it’s like your voice is crawling up my spine?  That’s fine.  At least you’ve got the guts to crawl into bed with that bloody-faced warlord!

And this is the truth: I am shy, and unbearably feral, all at once.   I may seem cold, but really, I’m just getting out of the way, and once, on a switchback somewhere in the Cascades, it probably looked like I was smelling a bunch of fiddleheads–but no.  I was saying goodbye.

cast a circle of snow and springblood

On the summer solstice, my band Moss of Moonlight released its second album, a creature birthed from the frozen muck that clings to the gnarly roots of Yggdrasil.  We call it Winterwheel.

It’s an EP, though this designation has caused a bit of confusion among listeners, because it’s a FORTY-TWO MINUTE EP.   Nevertheless, we’re sticking by our word.  If Moonsorrow’s Tulimyrsky can be an hour, eight minute and sixteen seconds long, then ours can be forty two minutes.

What we’re saying is that EPs can be defined not only by length, but by concept, too.  Our music is typically geographic in nature (dirty metal?) because we write about our home, Cascadia, and the narratives that stem from its hoary heart (and our own).  However, Winterwheel is a momentary step to the side.  It’s an album, but a ritual, too.  It’s a cyclic study of our past, of Anglo Saxon Paganism, and an attempt to give it meaning in a modern context.  In other words, we aren’t just trying to eat, regurgitate the same shiit, and eat it again–we’re eating the past for perspective, to craft something new.  Did we succeed?  I recommend listening to the album and deciding for yourself.  Because frostbite is fun!

Anyway, the point is that Winterwheel is what it is because it’s a bit different than our usual material.  Forty two minutes it may be, but it’s still an EP.  Which is completely okay, because Wikipedia (that venerable sage of impregnable wisdom) says so:

…the definition of an EP is not determined only by the number of tracks or the playing time; an EP is typically seen as four (or more) tracks of equal importance, as opposed to a four-track single with an obvious A-side and three B-sides…

If you want to know  more about Winterwheel, you can read these interviews, where we run at the mouth and probably sound silly and pretentious (though we really hope not).  Interview #1 is at Sword Chant (you’ll have to scroll down a bit).  #2 is at A Different Shade of Black.

Anyway, people seem to be using their ears properly, gnashing up the snowscapes of Winterwheel with their cochlear tongues and teeth.  Count Blagorath likes it:

And so does Alex Rosenberg:

Also, Sorrow Eternal reviewed Winterwheel, and said good things about us on their 89th podcast. We were also #2 on their Best EPs of 2013 (so far).  There’s a bunch of other reviews, but we’re probably the only ones obsessed enough to read them all.  If you’re curious, I find Google to be quite helpful.  Or you can contact me, because I’m like Smaug, only I have a narcissistic hoard of links, instead of shiny things.

when art just won't leave you alone

When it comes to food, sex and traffic lights, I’m patient.  I don’t get road rage, except in the context of environmental mauling.  But when it comes to art, food, and sex, I’m impatient.  I’ve been working on a shirt design for Moss of Moonlight’s upcoming album, Winterwheel.  This was the first design:

winterwheelshirtdesign015

***

Yeah, I know: meh.  The rosehip works great for the album cover, especially since it’s a photo.  What lies above was the result of me riffing on said photo.  I’ll be honest: it’s kind of shiit.  And definitely not something I’d ask people to pay for and wear.  I should have known this before I put it in ink.  But sometimes I get patience and impatience confused with obsession.

So I got as far as the above, even scanned it into Paint Tool Sai, started digitizing the lineart–and woke up.  Got my hand to stop, because I knew all along what I was doing was wrong.  I had to start over.

I slept on it, woke up again, knowing that what I really needed was an elk.  Or elk-inspired, at any rate.  Because Winterwheel has a song about the goddess Hretha, her elkling, and the course of life and death they traverse and make together.

What follows is the lineart for the piece I developed.  The one that, once in hue, will be printed on cloth and worn by real human beings.

winterwheelshirt_lineart