Some Additions to the Reading List

Self might as well call 2016 the Year of the Classics because she’s adding more books to her reading list and these are they:

The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Leo Tolstoy

Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad

The Odyssey, by Homer (not sure yet which translation to read)

perhaps some Pliny the Elder and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

And, In Addition!

Self was strolling up Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park today. It was a bee-yoo-ti-ful day. Not as beautiful as the weather when she was in Central Park a few weeks ago. But not as cold as it’s been here in the San Francisco Bay Area — hence, beautiful.

She passed old stand-by Village Stationers, where she has been purchasing Precise V5 Extra Fine Rolling Ball pens since the days when sole fruit of her loins was attending elementary school in St. Raymond’s. They were having a 50% off sale on all 2016 calendars and planners.

It’s been ages since self bothered to purchase a planner. Because the last four years have been absolutely impossible to plan. Nuts, they’ve been nuts. Self is amazed she is still ambulatory.

Anyhoo, today she actually walked out of Village Stationers with a 2016 Planner called: DO IT LATER! A 2016 NON-PLANNER FOR THE CREATIVE PROCRASTINATOR.

There is an Introduction:

Tired of feeling out of step with the deadline-driven masses? Ready to turn over a new leaf but feeling a tad overwhelmed? Relax. Let the drones of the world dart around with overloaded digital doodads and struggle with trendy time-management strategies.

We’re procrastinators — we get the important stuff done . . .  when we get around to it. To be productive and creative, we first need to engage in critical activities, such as organizing our organizational strategies, staring out the window, creating the perfect playlist, and refilling our coffee. If you specialize in such delay tactics, or know someone who does, take a leisurely browse through the tips, activities, and wisdom sprinkled throughout this planner — for instance: “If there is no time like the present, why would I want to spend it working?” or “Surround yourself with enough doers and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Quote of the Day That Is Neither From Self’s Nephew or Mary Gaitskill

When things get hard, that’s when change happens. That’s the only way they can start to get better.

Edvige Giunta, a member of self’s East Coast writing group

Love the name Edvige, though Edvige goes by Edi. She’s Italian American and teaches in New Jersey City University.

There is an Italian American Writers Association reading tomorrow in the East Village. Self will go, and have dinner with Edvige after.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

How DARE You, Mr. Ragnor Fell!

Self may be getting ahead of herself, but life is short.

There are two choices open to her when she leaves Ireland:  Yorkshire or Wales.

Yorkshire because a crucial scene in Clockwork Prince takes place there. P. 169:

Ragnor Fell, High Warlock of London: “What’s on the carpet, then, Charlotte? Did you really call me out here to discuss dark doings on the Yorkshire moors? I was under the impression that nothing of great interest happened in Yorkshire. In fact, I was under the impression that there was nothing in Yorkshire except sheep and mining.”

Oh la-di-dah, Mr. Fell. Yorkshire isn’t that boring. She was there when she was 11. She was sent to summer camp, somewhere in Yorkshire Dales. She saw the magnificent cathedral.

And Wales?

Something so alluring and romantic about Wales. Aside from the fact that Wales is where Will Herondale was born and lived until he was 12.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London From Tessa Gray’s Point of View

Jem, Tessa, and Will, the intrepid three of Clockwork Prince, have just boarded a train for York (Trains, in self’s humble opinion, are fabulous. Because they take one from somewhere to somewhere else. They represent movement and also stability because you can read a book and anchor yourself that way while zipping along. British trains are also excellent for eavesdropping. Now, where was self?)

“There is always something so exciting about the start of a journey, don’t you think?” Tessa went on, nose to the window, though she could see little but smoke and soot and hurtling, gray rain; London was a dim shadow in the mist.

“No,” said Will as he sat back and pulled his hat down over his eyes.

Tessa kept her face against the glass as the gray of London began to fall away behind them, and with it the rain. Soon they were rolling through green fields dotted with white sheep with here and there the point of a village steeple in the distance. The sky had turned from steel to a damp, misty blue, and small black clouds scudded overhead. Tessa watched it all with fascination.

Clockwork Prince, pp. 83-84

Street Light, Somewhere Near St. Bride's Church

Street Light, Somewhere Near St. Bride’s Church

As they get further from London, the countryside grows “less green, more stark,” with “long swathes of gray-green grass and outcroppings of black rock.” Self can hardly wait to get to York.

There are a number of Shadowhunter Institutes scattered around the United Kingdom: one in London, of course. One in York. One in Cornwall (“near Tintagel”), one in Cardiff, and one in Edinburgh. Great. Self plans to visit all these places. After she gets back from Ireland. For some reason, today, self was feeling very lethargic and slept in. She continued reading the miserable Third Reich at War.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Queen of Victorian Steampunk


London, April 1878

The demon exploded in a shower of ichor and guts.

—  Prologue, Clockwork Angel, Book One of Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices

Beg pardon, dear blog readers, but ever since self read those lines, in the house of her cousin Mike V in Calgary, Canada, her life has never been the same.

It’s almost like the way she felt when she encountered Annie Ernaux and Gish Jen and Nina Berberova for the first time!

All three (500-page) books in Cassandra Clare’s TID trilogy are going with her to London and Ireland.

Self had to think long and hard about this one, because she’ll be hauling ass. Oh! Pardon the language. She means, hauling suitcases on and off trains and buses. By herself.

But, dear ones, self must be permitted her eccentricities. After all, they’re part of what make her such an indefatigable writer/blogger!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Books for Ireland

Mary Gaitskill: BAD BEHAVIOR

Mary Gaitskill: BAD BEHAVIOR



Poetry, but of course

Poetry, but of course: Dionne Brand and Tomas Transtromer

Suzanne Collins: MOCKINGJAY (Self has read this book at least half a dozen times)

Suzanne Collins: MOCKINGJAY (Self has read this book at least half a dozen times)



and, last but not least:

George Eliot’s Middlemarch

Self is bringing along the following literary magazines as well:

  • Crab Orchard Review’s West Coast and Beyond Issue
  • Witness Magazine’s Spring 2015 issue
  • Bluestem Magazine’s Spring 2015 issue

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cadair Idris, Wales

Self plans to visit the places listed in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices series — or at least, as many places as she can, when she’s in the United Kingdom: Westminster Abbey (After xx trips to London, she has never seen), Kew Gardens, Hyde Park, Blackfriars Bridge, Kensington Gardens, the Tower of London (seen once, ages and ages ago. She remembers in particular taking son to the McDonald’s near there — holy sacrilege).

The hero of the trilogy is Will Herondale, who grew up in Wales but has spent the past five years in the London Institute of the Clave, training to be a Shadowhunter. (It’s such a great series. Honestly, self highly recommends it to anyone who enjoys historical fantasy. Especially Victorian steampunk fantasy)

Here’s a section from p. 401 of Clockwork Princess (Of course she is bringing all the books of the trilogy with her!) that describes a mountain Will Herondale remembers from his childhood in Wales:

He remembered climbing Cadair Idris with his father, years ago. There were many legends about the mountain: that it had been a chair for a giant, who had sat upon it and regarded the stars; that King Arthur and his knight slept beneath the hill, waiting for the time when Britain would awake and need them again; that anyone who spent the night on the mountainside would awake a poet or a madman.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Shadowhunter London: A Promise, A Plan

Self is shortly going to be in London.

And she’s bringing The Infernal Devices trilogy with her.

And she’s going to go to every single place listed in the three books:  Blackfriars Bridge, Kew Gardens, the Serpentine, etc etc

Self promises you, dear blog readers: Just as her trip last year to London and Ireland became epic, truly epic, because it brought her to Stonehenge and so many other places she had only ever read about, the one upcoming will be epic as well, though for a different reason. (And maybe she will finally get to see more of Wales? Last year, she only got as far as Holyhead)

And so now, the time for SPOILER ALERTS has arrived.

Because self did force herself to read the Epilogue, finally. And here’s a sentence that just about killed her:


It still seemed incredible to her sometimes that they had managed to grow old together, herself and Will Herondale, whom Gabriel Lightwood had once said would live to be no older than nineteen.

P.S. Cassandra Clare: Can you please explain why Will Herondale is mortal when his father was a Nephilim? Isn’t the Nephilim blood always dominant? Self just can’t stand the thought that once Will is truly out of the way (i.e., DEAD), Tessa then gets with Jem who very conveniently did not have his mouth sewn shut like the rest of the Silent Brothers and therefore is still available to kiss, etc. For eternity. As he’s immortal. And so is Tessa. AAAARGH!

THE END (of self’s reading, that is. She still can’t bring herself to read about Will on his deathbed, so she’ll just skip the next pages)

Stay tuned.

New 3 for the New Year (2015): BRING ON THE AWESOME

It is such a bee-yoo-ti-ful day! This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is NEW.

As the prompt on The Daily Post puts it:  Let’s celebrate the new!

Tomorrow self will drive up to Mendocino and inspect her new digs. She’s packed almost everything, including Sumatra coffee, a coffee bean grinder, and Krups.

Today, self walked all over her garden.

Here are the first daffodils of the year:


And here is a picture emblematic of the mind frame with which self greeted 2015!

You can see this in AMC, Ontario Mills.

You can see this figure busting out of a wall in Ontario Mills Shopping Center (near Claremont)

She tweeted that 2014 was her BEST YEAR EVER.

She has the feeling 2015 might be equally good.

Because, you know, she is starting it off with her residency in the Mendocino Art Center! High Fives! Plus there’s lots of artists up there who self is just dying to meet.

Followers of self’s fan fiction also know that she is up to 17 chapters, 288 hits, and 14 kudos.


Although nephew Chris Blackett asked for her fan fiction pen name, IXNAY to that because, you know, fluff!  Too much fluff!

Here’s another picture that’s emblematic of NEW MINDSET:


Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


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