Right Livelihood


I was just listening to Rachel Maddow’s podcast and wow is she a geek about elections. Politics and what you think of her slant of things aside, she is living some right livelihood. She is a huge and ecstatic nerd about all the beltway and campaigning minutiae, and her excitement is infectious. You can almost imagine her being that kid from Wet Hot American Summer spending all summer doing a radio show even when the mic isn’t plugged into anything.

I also happen to watch a lot of Curious George episodes (don’t judge) and one of the surprising and joyous aspects of it is that everyone from the doorman to the scientists to the restaurant workers are utterly gonzo about their jobs and love whatever it is they do. The show imagines and presents to kids this reality where all people love what they do and no one is denigrated for their labor. It’s a bit of a quiet utopia that I adore and wish was more prevalent in the real world.

Today I got to take a long walk on a rare sunny day through the quietness of my South Seattle neighborhood full of all kinds of small beauties and crumbly houses next to brand new ones. Spring was budding out and popping up everywhere, and I ended up at this Mexican bakery run by a family that flawlessly makes tamales, quiche, bagels, and flan. I got an excellent almond croissant and settled into a corner with my laptop and a scene from the urban fantasy series I’m working on which I might describe in three words as “Modern Medusa Mayhem” though that leaves out all the devils in my details. I wrote fast and hard as I do whenever I get to have a walk before writing: it somehow helps my subconscious even if I’m not thinking about my story. I had some excellent ideas that had that ineffable feeling of being true, which is odd since I’m obviously making it all up. Then I walked home and stepped into my other kind of mayhem which is the happy chaos of my family and all the pushing and pulling and meeting needs or not which happen on any given day.

All of which is to say I’m so lucky to have my right livelihood which is wrapped up in a lot of levels of both privilege and sacrifice, and I hope whoever might be reading this has a right livelihood too, or is on their journey to getting there.

Parenting and Productivity


(Obligatory cute picture of the first kid and me.)

I wrote a guest blog over at Kiki Cares about being a parent and getting stuff done:


And here’s what I wrote:

First off, thanks to Kiki for letting me do a guest blog on her lovely site! I had the pleasure of talking with her about nannying and loving kids over this Christmas break, and it struck me what deep and profound work it is taking care of little ones, whether you are a parent, a nanny, or someone else important to a child. Today, I wanted to say a couple of things from the parent side of life.

Before I had kids, I thought parents were such drama queens. I thought they were like those kids in high school  who loved to go on and on about how they’d only had two hours of sleep last night and oh my gosh, my life is so hectic and exciting. I felt sure parents were like that. It couldn’t really be that hard, right?

Then I had a kid and realized, holy hell, those parents were underselling it. My days filled up from dawn to dusk with the exhilarating, tedious, and lucky work of getting to be with my kid.  And then I had another one and that wall of work? It just got more frenetic and full and have I mentioned I love being a parent? But it is also the most difficult thing I have ever done, especially because while I get to be a stay-at-home parent, it is not the only work I do. I also do fundraising for a non-profit, am the administrator for a monthly writer’s workshop, and write a lot of young adult and adult fiction. It’s a great plate and a full plate.

What I have learned in the last five years of doing all this? What I want to tell you, and what I want to tell myself? We are not going to get everything done.

We just aren’t. Every day I have things I want to do that I don’t get done, and sometimes that thing should be so easy, like taking a bath, but it just doesn’t happen.

I want to frame any of these moments not as a failure, but the truth of life at this moment. And life at the moment is a bit messy, definitely chaotic, and has more heart and laughter than ever before.

So, here’s what I think we should do. Make a list of all the things we aren’t getting to. Super fun, right? But go ahead and make the list and put every damn thing on it small and big.

Look at this list. Sigh at this list. Blow kisses at this list and the idea it embodies of an organized and gentile life. Then look at your kids and make yourself cross three things off that list. Three things you are not going to care about and are vowing to not get done. Things for today, or the week, or the month that you are not even going to try to tackle.

Then go play with your kids. Crawl around on your floor while you all play the “magical unicorns who can turn into other animal and now we are crabs and now we are kittens” game, or whatever ridiculous and fun thing your kids want to do. Because in the span of your life? The kids will be grown soon and you can get back to all your things. So if you can, if you are able, right here and now? Let things slip and slide. Let them get messy and stay messy even if it drives you a little mad. Forget to send out holiday cards. Let your hair grow long and frumpy. Build that duplo tower that goes all the way to the ceiling and when they knock it down? Laugh and start all over again.


(Obligatory cute picture of the youngest and me.)


Thoughts on Clarion West

One of the many hats I wear at this Katie moment in time is helping out a bit with the Clarion West Writers Workshop. What is this thing, you may ask? It’s a six week intensive writing workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy writers. Every week there is a different professional writer, and every week it is hoped you write a short story. Which may sound sort of doable, and in practice is bananas, because the short story will be critiqued by everyone.

I went to Clarion West in 2005 and loved it so much. There’s probably a couple reasons for that. First, I am, at my core, a summer camp kid, and CW echoes back to a summer camp experience where you get thrown in and your life gets changed forever and you meet weird friends you would have never met otherwise. Second, it’s a truly excellent and thoughtful program that smart people have been running for a long time.

Anywho, I’ve been picking up people from the airport and hanging out at the house a small bit as students arrive for the summer, and no one has asked me for any advice on the workshop but if they did? Here’s what I would say (and it applies for any writing program, really).

1. In advance of the workshop, read a thing or two by your teacher/s. It will help you know what they are really good at, and therefore how they can help you. Also, it’s flattering to have people who’ve read your work, and you want to make friends with the instructors. They can be huge for helping you out in your writing career.

2. Out of ideas on what to write? Sometimes the problem is you could write anything, and therefore it’s too huge. So give yourself some constraints. Mine, during Clarion West, was writing every week a story that was in the same vein of the author. So for my Octavia Butler week, I had creepy aliens, and for Andy Duncan week I did alternative history.

3. In any kind of workshop situation, there’s all kinds of FOMO (fear of missing out) moments because new friends are always doing this that or the other thing. But here’s the secret: you won’t miss out on anything if you do what you want because wherever you are, that’s the moment you want to be in. And if you decide to stay in to write? How incredible that you get the chance to do that.

4. You will fit in some ways, and you will be the outcast in some ways, and both things are fine. For me, it was such a wonder going to Clarion West and meeting all these SFF writers who were smart and literate. I was a pig in awesome mud. But also, I was leftier than almost everyone else and often found myself arguing with people in my head and real life. So it goes.

5. Stretch your writerly muscles. Write things that fail. Write things that suck in new and exciting ways. Write things you care about so much it makes your hands shake to get it on the paper.

6. Feed the animal. You are the animal. Take yourself on walks, eat healthy food, talk to loved ones, and get your sleep.

Big luck and love to anyone in a writing workshop over the summer, but especially to the Clarion West class.


What do we want? Brains! When do we want them? Brains!

The Demon’s Revenge: the 4th book in The Fay Morgan Chronicles.

Book 4 

I am so pleased and happy to announce that the fourth short novel of The Fay Morgan Chronicles is out (The Demon’s Revenge), and I hope you love it. This book is a Morgan le Fay and her trusty shopgirl Lila caper, and I had so much fun writing their dialogue and loved the way they are such opposite women, yet have such a good friendship. There are huge character developments with both of them, and some plotlines that have been brewing since book 1 are answered, like what kind of creature Lila actually is, and what Morgan will do now that she fully understands the full depth of her own history. And of course, as per usual, things do not go at all as planned. Here’s the book’s blurb:

Morgan le Fay, the immortal and legendary witch of Avalon, is done with her life. She’s through with making terrible decisions and hurting those she loves. Now there’s just one more thing she has to take care of: she has to help her faithful assistant Lila change into the terrible creature that has remained hidden within her for so long.
Lila has no idea any of this is going on, but does know that she’s sick of Morgan moping around, and that she desperately needs her friend and mentor’s help because the paranormal denizens of Seattle are all starting to act sort of… evil.
Soon Lila and Morgan are trying to piece together the strange clues that will literally lead them to the gates of hell, all while Lila is starting to change. And with her change… everything changes.
The Demon’s Revenge is the fourth short novel in The Fay Morgan Chronicles, an urban fantasy series. Fans of The Dresden Files and The Lily Harper Series should enjoy this series.

For anyone who is new to this series, I do recommend the first three short books first, as the series is very episodic and each book builds on the last one. Also, for anyone who is frustrated by reading this series one short novel at a time, I am going to be soon publishing a book 1-3 as an omnibus, and will do the same for books 3-6 etc. Which begs the question: how long will this series be? I have no idea, except to say I am having a ton of fun writing them, people are buying them (thanks!), and I have a lot of terrible and strange things I’d like to do with these characters, so we shall see.


Updates from the Sparrow Nest

First and foremost, thanks to any and all of you who are reading my Fay Morgan Chronicles. I am so pleased that I have flung these books out into the universe and they are being caught by you and you and you. I have just turned in book four “The Demon’s Revenge” to my official editor, the talented Erica Satifka as well as my unofficial editor and long suffering love, Elijah, who always and forever reads all my work. What a catch!

One thing I love about writing these books is they are set in my home town, Seattle, so whenever I go anywhere I am always collecting small, local details. Like, I have been taking my kids on long walks through our neighborhood and we have a game of pointing out all the signs of spring: crocuses, budding cherry trees, and the changing flora the local Buddhist Temple sets out as an offering to the huge, golden, Buddha statue. And, in the fourth book, do Lila and Morgan go on a walk through the city and notice such things? Indeed.

I am also crafting the fifth book of the series and trying to wrangle the disparate and disjointed threads and weave them together, and oh, I’m just realizing as I type this that that is the main metaphor for how Morgan makes spells. See what I mean? Real life influencing my writing, of course.

And last, in one other writing project, I am starting to put together a fledgling new young adult book that has all my heart and hopes in it. It’s called Always Falling Up, and is about the sadness of climate change, and the audacity of being able to feel hopeful and take action inside of the truth of our planet and species. Oh, I love it. Oh, I am very confused about how to write it. But my brain keeps picking away at it and I have all these sapling scenes and I think I know who the characters are, though they may shift and change.

What a job. What a life. All is good. Hope there’s lots of signs of spring in your neck of the woods.