Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Alteration to Schedule, Surrey Muse: Val's Poems Read Early

night walk by elizabeth mcclung of SCREW BRONZE

Doesn't sound like much of a news flash but if you were thinking of not going on Friday because you are not able to stay up (or out) late in the evening, this could make the difference in whether you go.

It's been decided to read Val's poems at the beginning of the evening rather than reserving them for the end, when the Open Mic usually occurs. So the info again is:

There will be a Tribute Gathering for Valerie with various performers at City Centre Library in Surrey, room 418, behind the Surrey Central SkyTrain station, on Friday, 24 October from 5:30-8:30 PM.

Thanks, Surrey Muse!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Valerie B-Taylor's Celebration of Life

Valerie beautifully launching Eileen Kernaghan's "Sophie, In Shadow" in the midst of her health challenges.

We will be celebrating Valerie's life together

on Saturday, 8 November 2014

from 2 PM till 8 PM
Presentation at 3:30 PM

1928 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
Near Maple (east of Arbutus)

We love you, Valerie! Thank you for being a Sunburst and a Loving Friend!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Goodbye to a Friend

Dear friend and writer Valerie B-Taylor died while we were having fun at VCon, unaware that, far from getting better during her stay at hospital, she was letting go of her life. It is a very sad parting, and I so wish I had had the chance to say goodbye.

Valerie was filled with humour and compassion. She was audacious and bold in her writing and her life; we called her seat in our writers group The Naughty Seat because of what she brought to it so many times. Yet she also brought encouragement, joy, deep sorrow, fierce protectiveness, and a wild intelligence that I will miss for years to come.

Goodbye, dear one. Thank you for your love and wisdom. Many blessings on your journey.

Photo from New West Writers

Valerie was, among other supportive roles in the writing community, the president of New West Writers. This is something she posted on their site:

V.B.-Taylor (formerly Valerie P. Aelbers)

It is in that moment, that very moment, when my mind, spirit, and body converge that I know I am a writer. When story moves through me; when story translates through text onto paper another voice unheard.
V. B.- Taylor

The video above shows Valerie as she receives a Distinguished Poet/Writer Award (WIN Literary Festival) presented by Ashok Bhargava and Mabel Elmore, MLA, in Richmond, 2013.

There will be a Tribute Gathering for Valerie with various performers at City Centre Library in Surrey, room 418, behind the Surrey Central SkyTrain station, on Friday, 24 October from 5:30-8:30 PM.

Thanks to Eileen Kernagahn, our leader at the Kyle Center Writers Workshop, for making space for us to grieve and celebrate Valerie today, and to Eileen Mackenzie for bringing in her written memoir of Val, which opened the gates for all of us to speak who needed to.

Sitting In For SF Canada

Well, this is fun. Kristene Perron of SF Canada sent in this photo of me staffing the SFC table at VCon 39.

Casey at the SFC Table at VCon 39. Photo courtesy Kristene Perron

About SF Canada
SF Canada was founded in 1989 as Canada’s National Association for Speculative Fiction Professionals, and was Incorporated as SF Canada in 1992.
SF Canada exists to foster a sense of community among Canadian writers of speculative fiction, to improve communication, to foster the growth of quality writing, to lobby on behalf of Canadian writers, and to encourage the translation of Canadian speculative fiction. SF Canada supports positive social action.
“Speculative fiction” is understood by members to include science fiction, fantasy, horror and any other other weird fiction that invokes a sense of wonder.
SF Canada aims to provide a structure for socializing and maintaining links among members throughout Canada, from coast to coast to coast, in both official languages, and to promote the publishing and sale of works created, edited, and published by its members.
SF Canada provides free webhosting to members on the association website, and maintains a private internet listserver—an online discussion group that is unmoderated and completely uncensored! SF Canada also organizes critique groups and meetings, and operates an online bookstore to publicize and promote its members and their books. SF Canada members are eligible for non-profit health and dental insurance through the Writers’ Coalition Program in cooperation with the Writers’ Union of Canada, and have access to home and auto insurance at lower than market rates.
To qualify for SF Canada membership, an author must have published for payment at least two short stories or three poems in commercial markets, or received a royalty advance for a novel. An editor must have contracted for payment at least one book manuscript or three issues of a magazine. Other Canadians with a substantial professional interest in SF (specialized publishers, academics, librarians) will be considered for membership on a case by case basis. A one-year membership is worth $30; the fixed renewal date is on Canada Day, but members who join after January 1 are credited with the July 1 renewal. Two members living at the same postal address qualify for a common $30 rate.
For more information, or if you wish to apply to become a member, please contact us.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

VCon 39

Survived the con, and a good time was had by all. Somehow I was always in a whirl--I still see tracks when I turn my head.

I especially hanging out with the kids--Frank, Jules, and Flora--and brother-in-law Nick, doing the Writers Workshop on Sunday, and the Turkey Readings shortly thereafter. Also enjoyable was reading with Eileen Kernaghan, she from her new novel Sophie, In Shadow, and me from "Posture of the Infinite", published in Red Tuque Books' Canadian Tales of the Fantastic Vol. IV.

Eileen won her third Prix Aurora Award on the weekend, to my (and I gather her) delight. From Wattle and Daub Books, who published her book of poetry:

Congratulations to Wattle and Daub Books author Eileen Kernaghan who this weekend won the 2014 Prix Aurora Award for Best Poem or Song in English for “Night Journey: West Coast”, published in Tesseracts Seventeen: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast, EDGE (2013).

For more of her excellent speculative poetry, her collection Tales of the Holograph Woods: Speculative Poetry can be ordered here.

Now, a little photographic evidence, and I'm back to the rest home.

En Route to VCon 39

Rose and Her Companion

Human Battleship

Bug-Eyed Monster

Action Shot
Best In Show! (And Man, Did She Deserve It.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Selfy Challenge

One thing I am not pulling my weight on is getting good recent photos of me out there for the roaring fan-crowd to dream over. That, my friends, is about to change. I have taken

The Selfy Challenge!

First, something serious and arty:

Next, something gay and quirky:

(Confession: Not Actually a Selfy)

One showing my deep appreciation of nature:

And finally, an image that truly defines my personality:

Self Portrait in Herbs

My work here is done.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

New eStory: "Finding Creatures"

Here it is. My second venture into epublishing: the title story from my collection, Finding Creatures & Other Stories. Follow this link for a free download.

"Bernadette is a lonely little girl...until she meets Angel, a horse nobody else can see, a friend like she has never known before. But is she really the only one who can see Angel? Is she really Angel's only friend?"

Another Fine Day in the Scriptorium

St Birgitta of Sweden

A hedge of trees surrounds me, a blackbird’s lay sings to me, praise I shall not conceal,
Above my lined book the trilling of the birds sings to me.
A clear-voiced cuckoo sings to me in a gray cloak from the tops of bushes,
May the Lord save me from Judgement; well do I write under the greenwood.

Time to confess. I have been working on another writing blog.

It isn't meant to replace this one, exactly. The Den is still where I will post updates and so forth. But during a period when I was feeling out of sorts with the whole Promote Publish or Perish caterwaul, I realized I needed a peaceful place to take myself to think about writing, and to share writing, mine and others. It is still gestating, really, but I have a few elements there that I like, and I do, indeed, feel calm and happy when looking over the quite, lovely look of the place.

One thing I decided was that I wanted to share my stories rather than sell them—if not all, at least some. So one of the pages links to free fiction online, including to my first ebooks, both of which are short stories from Finding Creatures & Other Stories. Indeed, one of them, just published tonight, is "Finding Creatures" itself.

In addition there are woodcuts to admire and be inspired by, links to interviews of Eileen Kernaghan and Mike Coney, as well as interviews of me, reviews of some books I have read and loved, and a couple of peaceful poems.

I'm not sure where it will lead over time, but I do invite you to have a look and to say hello if you are so moved. Maybe there is a way that others can participate as well. I am interested in your suggestions.

I think we all need a peaceful place to retreat to at times, and the scriptorium is one that is filled with the love of the pen.

 Please Visit Another Fine Day in the Scriptorium by Following This Link.

Manuscript Book mural in Evolution of the Book series John White Alexander 1896

Monday, September 01, 2014

First Venture into eBookism: "Claude and the Henry Moores"

If you have followed my blog for a while you may be smacking your head saying, "What?! Claude and the Henry Moores AGAIN?"

Yep. It's the first book in the collection, Finding Creatures & Other Stories, and my plan is to put all of the stories into ebook format and make them available for free. So, begin at the beginning, jah?

I'm happy with my cover and the upload and conversion seems to have gone well. I'm unclear whether you can see and download or only I can--is there some approval thingee that has to happen at Smashwords? Well, for now it seems you can grab it so try this url: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/472466. I have put a bid in to change my user name so hopefully I will remember to change this address when the time comes...

Have fun!

Why Sing? (A New Essay for A Better World)

I was recently asked to write about singing and why it is important in my life. The piece I wrote (see below) will be published in The Drawing Network's new bulletin, A Better World, which is available to anyone for the asking. And what the heck is The Drawing Network?

"Our goals are to get equal time for the ARTS as for STEM subjects, i.e. maths, sciences, formal literacy etc. and to recognize the community's obligation to provide appropriate schooling from age-2 through  the elder years. The ARTS are essential for psychological development, psychological health, optimum learning, bringing joy to the curriculum. We have neglected the ARTS by assigning them to the outer edges of the curriculum as frills.

Correspondence is welcome: drawnet (AT] shaw {DOT) ca   PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD.

Why Sing?

Why sing?

I fall off the rolling log of singing practice as often as I scramble back on. Embarrassed to be heard, and teased as has happened more than once, I’m the only person who sings in my apartment building, and have a voice that carries punch. It is hard to hide, and hard therefore to keep on the log, to keep my voice flexible and strong enough to climb the songs I feel most moved to sing. But...

As an infant, I cried without thinking, opened my voice and swallowed up the world with my sorrow and my rage. Unworried by my drooling, I gurgled happily, my meaning clear to me at least, and clear I am certain in my eyes, the texture of my voice, the wobblings of my limbs, to anyone who cared to understand. I was at ease with my body, inside and out, and the sounds I made were as natural a part of it as the skin that held me together, the hair that curled from my pate, the sensations that bubbled through me and rippled into emotion and from emotion, yes, into sound.

What were the sounds I made? Were they speech, or song, or some thing from which the two arise, a primitive ancestor of all the civilization of voice that surrounded me, embedded as it was in the mew of cats, the chitter of birds, the scrape of chairs on linoleum, the sound of my own sigh as I was falling into sleep?

It was only with instruction that I learned the strange idea that certain sounds were acceptable, even delightful, even beautiful, and other sounds outrageous, irritating, wrong. And as this instruction continued I learned as well that in the category of sound called singing, there were true notes, off notes, notes which hit me so sharply sidewise that I laughed in fear to hear them, and shrank in fear from making them. I endeavoured to be true. To be right and strong and delightful. To be flexible and controlled and Good. But knowing how close the wrong note sat to the right had me live in subtle fear.

Oh, there were many lessons regarding singing as I grew up. One strange one was that, outside of the enclave of my singing family, it seemed that any time I began to sing people would turn the radio on. Rather than, gods forbid, joining in, the reminder of music had them reaching for its proper type. Music, I learned, was being wrested from the familiar, the shared and the bonding, and plugged into the professional and remote. Only those with recording contracts were good enough to be heard to sing.

But. And here is the rub.

Have you ever run? Run, not just in panic for the bus, spleen stitching and lungs afire, but run often enough that your body builds in strength and you begin to feel the antelope in you stretching supple powerful muscles and coursing with the birds?  Have you ever learned to dig? Learned the placement of the spade and the pressure of the foot and the easy swing that bites the earth out of its bed and shapes the land? Have you ever played a sport, or immersed yourself in yoga, or taken to the mountains so many times your legs and heart and eyes grow bright and strong and you can breathe a giant breath and take the world into yourself and exhale it out again?

Well, that is singing, too. But it is inward exercise. Muscles no one sees, let alone thinks much about, a cage of muscles that supports and connects you to organs and bones and synapses you barely knew you had, orchestrated by the vast intake of air, the training of your lungs till they become not just flabby bags that keep you aerated but bellows capable of more than you had ever dreamed, instruments as precise as a jeweller’s tools.

Running that marathon with your breath and vocal chords, standing still or swaying in your place, fills out the last remaining territory of your body and wow—the strength you find in that. The joy in it. To feel utterly your own body from within and without and, just as in your infancy, to find no blank spots in your self: toe tingling from breath powered by note set free by diaphragm, and mind, and heart. An athlete of the voice.

I urge you, dig your garden, run your kilometre, bow and rise through your dozen vinyasas and then stand still and engage your voice. Discover the union of inner body and outer—both toned, both gleeful in their strength—of breath and stance and sound.

Another thing. Who sings? Who sings what? Who are you when you sing? That subject is as vast as humanity.

Long ago I wanted to learn something of my ancestors. The first thing I did was to listen to their music. To begin to learn the metre of their language. To link my voice with theirs and wonder, why was it sung that way? Why so much sorrow in their songs? Why so much hilarity? I didn’t even like the music when I first heard it, the strident fiddles and the driving rhythms. But that time is long since gone. Their music is in my muscles now. It is in my tears and my dancing feet. It rescues my vocal chords from disuse and brings past and present face to face in me. Over time, of course, I learned more of their story, fleshed out the breath of their music with grittier details. But the stories alone would be empty without their voices. I sing now with my great-great-grandmothers, warning of false young men, and I laugh and cry along with them. I sing with my great-great-grandfathers, who might never see land again, and I cherish their labour and their risks. I sing with the people I never got to meet, and find them in me, and love them still.

Why sing? So many, endless reasons. Better to ask, why live? What else can a child do?

Bob Steele, founder of the network and the driving force behind it, is a professor emeritus from UBC and his essays on the importance of art education are stirring and informative. From the website:


Fellow educators, parents and teachers: this is a serious situation and we are not addressing it seriously:

When we undervalue spontaneous drawing in the home/school curriculum we risk compromising children’s language developmentAs language is critical to mental development, mental health, and learning  we compromise these as well. Putting it so bluntly and in language that may sound more like propaganda than scholarship, I risk alienating you, but consider the following observations:

 1) Children are born with a built in propensity to draw in response to vivid experience. My analysis of hundreds of spontaneous drawings suggests that in the early years it is their most useful language for articulating their acute perceptions, their subtlest and most complex thoughts and most intense feelings! Perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, these take shape in a drawing response!

2) It begins as scribbles and crude graphic symbols in the preschool years and, with nurturing, evolves into full-blown picture making in the kindergarten and primary years. Ideally, children in the preschool period thrive on a “daily draw” of some twenty minutes or so. A caring adult needs to be in attendance, not to show or demonstrate, but to inspire and motivate. The connection to emerging literacy begins in these years with pre-drawing and post-drawing conversations about theme and finished drawing.

Returning to the initial mood of alarm, all children have drawing as a potential but how many homes with preschool children have “daily draw” routines? Should parents be alarmed?  Should PACS be concerned? Should school systems become actively involved in promoting preschool drawing? Should advocates of democracy and civil government pay attention?

3) Kindergarten/primary: these are the years when most children get to draw but typically to facilitate emergent literacy. This is good, but no substitute for free drawing where the focus is on articulating personal perceptions, thoughts and feelings and the goal is making pictures that tell stories. It is also time to integrate drawing into the core curriculum in language arts, science, social studies and art.

K/Primary teachers recognize that spontaneous drawing is a language phenomenon and an aid to literacy. Should they ask themselves if a more broadly based agenda  would contribute more to the well being of their children? Should they examine the arts and crafts segment of their programs and consider making spontaneous drawing a core activity of all art projects? Might they conclude that many ‘crafty’ time-fillers  are indeed counterproductive to language?  Should all art be language, devoted to expressing and giving form to meaningful and heartfelt subject matter?

4) In the intermediate years and beyond, free drawing time is still very much a worthwhile activity and every opportunity should be taken to integrate illustration into Language Arts, Social Studies, Science and Art when learning is enhanced.

To insure that older children get the psychological benefits of spontaneous drawing should there be scheduled opportunities for free drawing built into the week’s intermediate timetable and beyond? Are these the years when introducing art history, aesthetics, and the sociology of art would be advantageous?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Flower Poems, near to bloomin'

I have had a handful of poems accepted for a new anthology from

Swamp Lantern Books

-- a book of poems about flowers. Don't think Victorian nosegays. Will let you know when the release date and all that rot is finalized. (Check out their website. Anthology not yet announced there.)

Very much enjoyed the challenge to look deeply at the floral world around me, and in memory, and dredge up words worth saying about my petalled friends. It made the spring so much more alive in me.

: )

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Point: Poem Up at Linnet's Wings

I don't often send my poetry out--well, practically never, actually--so I was pleased when the Irish magazine Linnet's Wings accepted my poem "Point". You can pop over there to see it and everything else they have on offer, or you can just read it here:


there is no response
but standstill
to this fresh hit

past and future
so far foreshortened
press in against now

as a single point
i neither flee nor speak
nor hide away
there is nothing left
but this

Monday, June 02, 2014

Bitten By Life: Paranormal Maven Needs Help!

A few years ago when my story collection had been out for a few months, I was directed by someone in the know to a review site for paranormal literature called Bitten By Books.

I was shy and rather out of place there (not really being a writer of paranormal fiction, but what the hey), but what I found was a welcome and assistance far beyond any other I had encountered in my attempts to promote the book. Rachel was wise, witty, and well-informed, but she was also kind and patient and very encouraging.

I am the worst sort of person to try to self-promote, and I will probably never attempt it again. But in her hands I had the courage to do things like do a lengthy video interview, a daylong chat, and a contest where I gave away not only my book but wrote a story and a poem from the winners' prompts. It was fun and I am so grateful to her for all her help over that time. All of which was given for no remuneration, and with grace and good humour.

Recently I contacted Rachel for the first time in quite a while, and learned that due to ill health and the costs that attend it in the USA, where socialized medicine is not yet a reality, she has been in very difficult straits. With her husband she is trying to get back to Seattle where he can get work, but they are having trouble putting the money together for the move. 

Rachel and Husband Clif
To learn more about Rachel's situation, please go to the following link. Let's give a little back to one of the legion of volunteers out there who are helping put us in touch with the books and the audiences we readers and writers want so much.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cover Art Up!

The cover for Canadian Tales of the Fantastic Vol. 4 is up, along with the list of authors and all the info needed for pre-orders. (Release scheduled for September 2014.) 

Not bad, eh?

From the Red Tuque website:

Title: Canadian Tales of the Fantastic Volume IV
Authors: Jennifer Pohl, Virginia Laveau, Casey Wolf, Dana Luken, Derek Donais, Deborah Cannon, Shirley Barr, Jennifer R. Albert, Caroline Todd, Stephen Boylen, Frank Babics, Drew Davis, Louis Groarke
ISBN: 9781927049037
Publisher: Red Tuque Books
Price: 15.95

***** Release Date September 1, 2014 *****

We have in this collection, worlds of ghosts and terror, re-workings of traditional and native myth, moral twists, hair-raising pilgrimages, humorous pastiches, 'tongue-in-cheek' underworlds, enchanted hockey games, the exploration of life after death, near future SF. These stories form somewhat of an odyssey, and it's inspiring to see such evocative material being presented by Canadian writers.

 - Chris Turner, author of Tales of Other Worlds.

It was a pleasure to act as a judge for the anthology, and to see clearly that Canada's writing community is as strong as ever. Each story created a vivid world into which the reader was swept, and a common strength of the stories was this ability to set the scene.

 - Bennett R. Coles, author of Virtues of War.

With gnomes, ghosts, witches, shape-shifters, time travellers, Ogopogo, world building yoga and hockey, this eclectic collection of thirteen Canadian stories of the Fantastic has a little something for everyone. I hope the readers of this anthology will enjoy the stories as much as I did.

 - David Korinetz, author of FireDrakes.

Friday, May 23, 2014

VCon 39 Fast Upon Us

A headsup, a rather distant headsup, that is, for those Pacific Southwest Canadians (and our cousins across the 49th P) who are planning to come to this year's SF convention. Thrills and spills promised below:

VCON: Vancouver BC's premiere science fiction, fantasy and games convention, since 1971.
VCON 39 will be held October 3-5, 2014
at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford hotel
VCON 39 Theme:
Military Might
From Swords & Sorcery to Phasers & Grasers
VCON 39 is also CANVENTION 34!
Come join us for three days of fannish fun and multi-track programming including:
Art Show & Auction • Vendors Hall • Author Readings • 24-Hour Games Rooms
Multi-Author Book Launch • Writers Workshops • Demos • Academie Duello
Artists Alley • Frankenstuffies • Fan Groups • Costume Contest • Panels
Hospitality Suite • Dance • Elrons • Turkey Readings • Workshops
VCON 39 Guests of Honour:
Author GoH: David Weber
(Honor Harrington Series; Safehold Series, Dahak Series)

Artist GoH: David Mattingly
(Cover Illustrator for David Weber's Honor Harrington Books)

Game Design GoH: Bruce Heard
(Early TSR employee, BXMCI version of D&D - Mystara, World of Calidar)
Canvention 34 Guests of Honour:
Canvention Guest Author: Tarol Hunt

Canvention Guest Artist: Melissa Mary Duncan

On Linnet's Wings: Poem Sale

I'm pleased to learn that my poem "point" will be in the Summer 2014 issue of The Linnet's Wings.

A linnet from the RSPB website
According to their website:

The Linnet's Wings is a literary magazine that was founded, in Edgeworthstown, in Co. Longford, in the Irish Republic, in 2007. 

She builds on the voices of the past: Irish and International. And she's supported by an international team of editors.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Third Place for the Posture

I'm pleased to announce that my story "Posture of the Infinite" took third place in the Red Tuque writing contest, and will be published in its upcoming anthology, Canadian Tales of the Fantastic, Vol. 4.

See the post below for more details.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Story Sale: Posture of the Infinite

As most of you will know I dropped out of circulation a couple of years ago when I received a cancer diagnosis. Instead of writing stories I became focussed on my health. I'm no longer worried about this particular bout of cancer, and have been gradually catching up on projects I let go at that time.

Over the Christmas holidays I spent a couple of weeks revising four stories I had written and sent out and not followed up on when they came home, hats in hand. One of these was "Posture of the Infinite", which I wrote in 2010 as a prize for Elisa Jankowski, a participant in my Bitten By Books Interview and Chat. You can follow this link to find out how the prize worked and what the story is about, roughly, and this one to see her response to the story.

Well, 2010 was a long time ago and when I dusted off the story I had an urge to change it a wee bit, which I did and then sent it off to Red Tuque Books for their upcoming anthology Canadian Tales of the Fantastic Volume IV. (Look for it in September of this year.) I am happy to report that "Posture" made the first cut. This means it will be in the anthology, but there is a second round of blind judging where the first, second, and third prizes are decided, and "Posture" is now in that round.

Some of you may remember that Eileen Kernaghan and I did the second round judging for the first Canadian Tales of the Fantastic in early 2011. So it is fun to have a story going into its successor.

Red Tuque releases an anthology annually, but the theme varies. The first was speculative fiction, the second mysteries, the third romance. The one now announced with a deadline of 31 December 2014 is mysteries again. So sharpen those pencils, folks...

Moment of misery: I've spent an hour trying to get Blogger to upload an image for this post. Not at all happy with Google's mucking about. Oh, for the halcyon days of yore...