Speaking of Myself and Others

Bookgirl is a talented, thoughtful blogger who has kindly included my blog in her discussion of blogs she enjoys and put together some excellent questions for me to answer.

In the spirit of giving everyone involved a warm internet hug, I am going to answer the questions and then mention five blogs that you really should be reading.

The Questions

1. Name the superhero power you would most like to possess.

When I was five, I very badly wanted to be able to turn into a platypus. If I take that off the table as an option, I would love the power to make things heal and grow. I’ve always had a dream of being able to walk into a barren landscape, touch the ground, and make life spread like fire.

2. Which author, alive or dead, would you like to meet?

This is one of those questions where I am paralyzed by an abundance of choice! There are so many writers I would love to speak with and so many questions I would like to ask. If I had to choose, it would probably be Murasaki Shikibu, because if her life is even a fraction as interesting and observant as her fiction, it would be the most fascinating conversation I’d ever had where I never once opened my mouth.

3. What book was your favourite as a child?

I am going to reply with an answer from early childhood here, because it was a book that was not only my favourite, but shaped my life in several long-lasting ways. As a small child, I would read and re-read “The Lorax”. Empathy, compassion, and hope were all good dreams to guide me.

4. Which book do you wish you wrote?

If I could claim one book for my own, it would probably be the Collected Poems of T.S. Eliot. If I’m not allowed to do that, I’ll settle for having written “The Hollow Men”. I’m not picky.

5. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I don’t know if it was ever a case of wanting to be a writer. I wrote. I couldn’t imagine not writing. What happened with my writing was completely beyond my control, but no matter what else I’ve done, the writing has always happened.

If I am being asked, “Have you always expected to make a living as a writer?”… Well, that becomes a very different question!

6. If you had to choose another occupation what would you be?

In my odd and varied career, I’ve had the opportunity to try out many of the jobs I’ve dreamed of doing. So if I had to choose another occupation, I want one that I have no chance of getting now. In which case, I would love to be a cat.

7. What’s your favourite genre?

I read everything under the sun and have a deep love of Basho, Agatha Christie, Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, Rita Wong, and Ted Chiang, amongst others. The genre that pulls me the most though has always been classic fantasy-adventure, preferably sprinkled with empathetic characters and more than a dollop of humour.

This is probably not an earth-shaking revelation.

8. What was the worst book to film conversion?

I think, for sheer virtue of missing the point of the story, the 1995 adaptation of “The Scarlet Letter” has to be somewhere near the top. Now, I actually enjoyed parts of the movie, but I have pretty terrible taste in things like this and I mainly enjoyed it because I didn’t enjoy “The Scarlet Letter”.

9. What was the best book to film conversion?

“The Princess Bride”. I love both the book and the movie, but what was created in the filming was an unforgettable piece of childhood magic that not only did justice to the book, but created its own brand of magic as well.

10. Why did you start blogging?

I enjoy community. Before I started to blog, I spent a lot of time lurking around other people’s websites and blogs and being impressed by the thoughtful, talented things that other people were producing. I really wanted to take part in those kinds of exchanges and thought that starting my own blog would be a good way to do that.

11. Have you enjoyed the blogging experience?

I have gained so much from blogging! I have met so many wonderful people, focused my writing ideas, and been privileged to share in a much larger community. I think that it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.


Five Blogs You Should Be Reading

 I love my blog roll. My day cheers right up when I read through their entries. So the promotional part of this post I see as pulling out a handful of my embarrassment of riches to share with the rest of you.

1. Oscar Hokeah (http://hokeahoscar.wordpress.com/)

While he has only recently started blogging, Oscar’s rich, musical, darkly humorous writing style is starting to bring him a lot of well-deserved attention. I haven’t read a single one of his entries that I haven’t gained something for the reading.

2. Bookgirl (http://bookgirl.com.au/)

One of the saddest things about publically being a writer is that people assume that you no longer want to have deep, thoughtful conversation about stories- yours and others. I do! Very much! Luckily for me, I found Bookgirl’s blog. Her thoughtful, intelligent analysis of the stories she reads gives me new insight into my own view of the writing. I especially love that she comes from a place of empathy with everything she discusses.

3. I Wish I Can Fli (iwishicanfli.com/)

Ronny, the alter-ego of author B.E. Priest, is busily documenting every step of his process to becoming a full-time writer on his blog. Alternately informative, hilarious, and heart-breaking, his entries are each accompanied by a hand-drawn picture that aptly captures the post.

4. Melissa Shaw-Smith (http://melissashawsmith.com/)

A talented writer, originally from Ireland and currently living in the United States, Melissa writes a variety of content on her blog, much of which resonates with me and my experiences. She includes, amongst other subjects, researched non-fiction, poetry, commentary, and stories. There is much to enjoy here and I highly recommend trawling her archives.

5. O at the Edges (http://robertokaji.com/)

Are you not already following Robert Okaji? Why are you not following Robert Okaji? Do you hate kittens and/or love?

In my non-Cat Amesbury writing, I perform and traditionally publish poetry. My preferred styles have always tended to those poets who can grasp vibrant imagery communicated with as little excess as possible. Robert Okaji is a master of this style. You really should be reading him.

IMG_1808The best part of blogging is that you never need to grow alone. Thank you.

If you are interested in seeing “The Guests of Honor”, my US Kindle Countdown promotion is here. It will be ending this evening.


Clouds in the Sky, Soil in My Fingers

“So why did you decide to self-publish?”

I wrote a lot of stories.

Some were beautiful, some were ugly.

I shared those stories in a lot of different ways with a lot of different people.

Then I got sick.

I spent a long time being sick and a longer time being aware that I could be sick if I stepped one foot out of line.

I decided that I didn’t like lines.

Something I realized when I shared my ugly-beautiful stories was that not everybody liked them.

But some people did.

Sometimes people just want to stare up at the sky while they work on the ground.

Life is too short for me to tell stories for making people unhappy.

Life is too short to do things that make me unhappy.

I like telling stories.

I like taking people into the clouds while our feet stay on the ground.

I like shaping my story into the vision of my heart as well as my head.

These are the stories I wanted to tell, but were just outside the line I was trapped in.

I’m not afraid to fall upwards now.

I hope you’ll come with me.

IMG_9227I can have the clouds and the ground on the path I’ve chosen

If you want to see my cloud-catching in action, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here.