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January 2015
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A Photo Tour of Portland and the Ravensblood Haunts

(Photos and text by Jocelyn S Mackie, who is helping me out today since I’m dealing with book launch madness.  If you like her work, check out her website.)

As launch day for Raven’s Wing approaches, it is only appropriate to make the scenery come to life for the Ravensblood readers. Each of these establishments makes an appearance in the series, or at least inspires an imaginary venue.

Portland, Oregon was incorporated in 1851. While it went through many development phases that nearly destroyed its original architecture, it maintains much of its history while creating a colorful present day image. This made Portland almost a perfect back-drop for a society where magic and mundane lived among one another. Many of its unique elements provided inspiration as the journey of Cass, Zack, and even Raven arose into these novels. Portland may not just be scenery—it can be a character on its own!

With that, time to begin with a spread of the Hawthorne District, where Ana lives and Cass maintains her flat in the first book.

Hawthorne District


Portland's Magic: Flowers bloom in December.

Portland’s Magic: Flowers bloom in December.


The Hawthorne District is known for being eclectic and walker-friendly. Just park your car as soon as you are able—you won’t need it here.

Just Another Day on Hawthorne

Hawthorne District Street View



Every walk presents good details.


If you are looking for a shop, restaurant, pub, or move theatre that is better than ordinary, this is the area in Portland you must visit. It shows its character in many ways, as seen by this photo spread.

 Easter Egg House

2 Dusky Victorian


Devil in the Details


4 Beauty Aging



Just Another Modest Abode

A simple modern residence for an extraordinary mage and healer: Likely candidate for Ana’s home.

Two specific places figure prominently. The Oasis Café serves great pizza and really exists. You may remember it as the restaurant Chuckie and Cass pick up take-out in Raven’s Wing.

Oasis Ambience


The Barley Mill Pub is also located in the Hawthorne District and a colorful meeting place for Cass, Chuckie, and Johnny. Jerry Garcia aficionados will appreciate its tributes.

It really does contain a barley mill.


14 Acceptable Barley Mill Photo

The Barley Mill

Barley Mill Sign small

The Sign


While you drink, Jerry will smile down at you. Who knows if he misses his own good times from his time on Earth.


10 Jerry Smiles Down At You




The Drinking Dead


13 Wall of Jerry


There is a little something for everyone in the Barley Mill’s unique decor–just in case you are not that into Jerry Garcia.

Just the Statue Mate

Don't Break the Stained Glass

















The Hawthorne District is also home to the oldest planned development in the west, Ladd’s Addition. This home in Ladd’s Addition resembles the Ravenscroft Manor, which is actually located in Nob Hill. However, the Ravenscroft Manor has half again the footprint of this house and features slightly larger grounds.

The Regal One


Nob Hill Neighborhood

Green Man


Nob Hill is the polished upscale twin to the Hawthorne District. Also pedestrian-centered, it features top-of-the line shops and caters to the normally high-income Pearl District clientele. We start with this spread of photos featuring the buildings and homes within walking distance of Ravenscroft Manor.

Dusk proves to be the perfect accessory for these modern castles.
Modern Castle

Clothed in Dusk















But in the daylight, you can enjoy the details.

william temple house


Nob Hill can be a colorful place. This is the wall of the ladies’ room of the Blue Moon Pub, near the fictional Josiah’s Books, briefly mentioned in Raven’s Wing. Blue Moon has not made an appearance yet but it may receive its spotlight in the third book.

Fancy Wall


Finally, no photo tour of Portland would be complete without Powell’s Books, a giant bookstore on Burnside. While not located in Nob Hill, it is an easy trolley ride from that neighborhood. Cass and Raven consider it the Eighth Wonder of the Modern World.

22 Powells Sign


24 Pondering Powells













23 Powells Cashier Wall


Raven’s Wing To Take Flight Soon!

The Raven’s Wing book launch is planned in Portland on January 24, 2015 at Max’s Fanno Creek Brew Pub in Tigard, Oregon. Check out the event page for details. Hope to see you there!

Cool Stuff Series: Pittock Mansion

Since its centennial year coming to a close, I figured I’d give a shout-out to Portland’s Big House on a Hill. I’m referring, of course, to Pittock Mansion.

You can’t get much more Portland than the Pittock Mansion. Paid for with profits from The Oregonian newspaper, built by Oregon craftsmen out of Northwest-sourced materials. Its original owners, Henry and Georgiana Pittock, were pillars of the community, active in charity work and in the early years of the Rose Festival.

Members of the Pittock family occupied the iconic French-influenced chateau with its brick-red roof through the late 1950’s. Then this gorgeous historic building fell into peril. The owner at the time had put it up for sale and didn’t want to pay for expensive repairs necessitated by storm damage. Developers with no interest in either history of craftsmanship eyed the valuable land it stood on. For a while, it looked like this beloved edifice would be torn down.

But with true Northwest spirit, Portlanders rallied with fundraisers, and the City of Portland, driven by public outcry over the threatened destruction of this landmark, purchased the house, repaired it, and opened it for public tours.

The Pittock Mansion truly belongs now to the people of Portland.

If you want to visit, drive up Burnside toward the Skyline District and follow the signs. You can park there and walk around the surrounding woods and gardens for free. (For best results, go on a sunny day and pack a picnic lunch that you can eat while enjoying the spectacular views from the lawn.)

I highly recommend forking over the $10.50 for the self-guided tour, especially if you love well-crafted old houses and/or are working on a steampunk novel and need some inspiration. (Yes, it’s a bit late-period for steampunk, but the overall feel and many of the details are the same.) The grand staircase is heart-stopping, the moldings on the ceilings are works of art. And then there’s The Bathtub. It’s a steampunk dream, or maybe something out of Hogwarts. Faucets not only for hot and cold running water, but also for a selection of liquid soap. It actually inspired a scene in that steampunk Victorian detective novel I’m still shopping around, a scene I’ve mentally subtitled Inspector Royston Jones v. The Tub.

I could go on about the chandeliers, the period furnishings, but really. Just go see it. (And, OK, I find conspicuous consumption more palatable in a historic setting. I don’t pretend to defend the logic of this position.)

Of course, no self-respecting historic house is complete without its ghosts. Rumor has it that visitors have sensed and heard, perhaps even seen Georgiana and Henry. If they happen to be about, don’t worry. They’re just being good hosts and making sure that you are enjoying their lovely home.

Yuletide Ravensblood Vignette

To save us all from Satan’s power
When we are gone astray.

Raven didn’t believe in a being of absolute evil, but evil itself he believed in. Had lived with it, had lived under William, for far too long.

And still, somehow, had found his way back to the light. He believed in evil, yes, but he believed in redemption as well.

He was not religious, and he had no particular sentimental attachment to Christmas carols. There had been little enough comfort and joy growing up a Ravenscroft. Neither Cassandra nor Ana were Christian, but apparently Ana’s mother had been, which explained the Christmas carols playing softly from the stereo as he and Cassandra sat on Ana’s sofa, sipping the sweet spice of mulled wine after a particularly fine Yule eve meal, listening to Ana reminisce about when she and Cassandra’s father were young. The charmed lights on the Yule tree glimmered softly, sparking glints of silver from the draped tinsel.

Cassandra leaned against him, warm and soft at his side. Three-quarters of a year since she decided to give them another chance at a relationship, and it still seemed new and fragile, though she’d moved back in with him six months ago when the lease on her flat came up for renewal. A little over a year ago he was still a bad memory she was trying to live down.

Ana kept any misgivings she might have had to herself. Surely she must have misgivings—the last time he had been in a relationship with Cassandra, he had entered into it under false pretenses and, had she not been so clever and so strong-willed, it would have cost her her life. Though Raven had put that time past him, there were some things for which he’d never forgive himself.

Ana had orchestrated a means for him to win a pardon and return to society, but that didn’t necessarily mean she anticipated his return to Cassandra’s life. Yet she gave him a genuine smile as she refilled his glass, a smile that had to be for his benefit alone. Cassandra, snuggled against his shoulder, couldn’t see. For the first time in his life, he felt entirely safe and welcome and at peace. For the first time, he believed in the promise of the returning sun.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

A/N: I closed with a different song snippet in the upcoming audio version because it worked better musically.


For more on the solstice, check out my guest blog today over at Here Be Magic!


Samhain-kitty checking in

Samhain-kitty here. I found writer-person’s old, intermittently-working laptop, so I can update her blog while she’s off doing whatever it is she does. Which, at the moment, involves recording an audio version of a Yuletide Ravensblood vignette. With music. And did I mention she’s doing outlining and prewrite on two new novels, while waiting for the edits to come back on the two that are coming out next year? (Any bets on whether the house is going to be cleaned in time for Yule?)

Anyway, I sneaked a peak at the manuscript for Raven’s Wing. There are no cats. Not a one. Not even the brief cameos that turned up in Ravensblood.

Worse yet there is a dog. A dog that looks like it could be the big brother of her friends’ black pit bull. The one she comes home smelling like after she’s been gone for huge blocks of time. (I’ve seen the beast on Facebook. I know she’s seeing other animals behind my back.)

OK, so the dog has a fairly brief mention, but still. . .
I may have to take some time to get over my righteous indignation before I can give an honest opinion of anything else in the book.

In the meantime, she has been updating Brother to the Wolf every weekend. For those of you who missed it, that’s the pagan-themed medieval fantasy novel she’s been putting up chapter-by-chapter on Wattpad. It’s not bad, if you can ignore the fact that there are dogs. (The arrows on the title line will let you toggle between chapters.)

Holding Up the Mirror: Wars and Why Fiction Matters

My guest blog at Here Be Magic is up! Includes links to songs I mentioned because I’m just that sort of blogger.

WTF? Review of Doctor Who: Death in Heaven (SPOILERS)


OK, I’ve been watching Doctor Who a long time, so when I say that this was the worst episode of the new series, and very possibly the worst ever, old or new, that’s saying something.

It has nothing to do with Capaldi. I think he’s a fabulous actor and makes a great Doctor. Up to this point, (and with the exception of Robots of Sherwood) I loved this season. I thought it was deep, thoughtful and very character-driven.

I have to admit that the Master’s gender change threw me for a loop. Yes, I know the possibility is cannon, but the Master was/is my favorite villain, and his previous incarnations seemed so aggressively masculine. But I decided that the problem may well be my own latent hetero-normative blinkers, and decided to give it a chance. After all, I’ve often said that they’ve always found the right Master to match the various incarnations of the Doctor. Pertwee and Delgado. Davison and Ainley. Tennant and Simm. (Yes, I know Ainley worked with other Doctors, but I’ve always considered him the Fifth Doctor’s Master. Even if it was fun to watch Ainley’s Master and the Sixth Doctor bicker, especially with commentary provided by the Rani.) I could easily see Missy and Twelve play well against each other, especially when they allowed her to be all dark and elegantly sinister, rather than just comic-book crazy.

As a very minor point, I think it’s somewhat silly, though, to have the Master change her name just because she has changed genders. After all, our society has finally progressed enough to finally call women in the acting professions ‘actors’, not ‘actresses.’ You would think that a society as advanced and as gender-fluid as the Time Lords would call a master a master, regardless of gender. During my very brief stint working in college theater, I greatly resented being called ‘Prop Mistress’ rather than ‘Props Master.’

I do think it’s kind of a cop-out that the first time they allow the Master and the Doctor to kiss is after the gender change. If they are going to give a nod to the fans’ suspicions of unresolved sexual tension between those two, damn it they should be brave enough to do it without the gender change. They have, after all, slipped into cannon the possibility that the Doctor plays for both teams. (From The Time of the Doctor: CLARA: So, I may have accidentally invented a boyfriend.
DOCTOR: Yeah, I did that once and there’s no easy way to get rid of an android.)

I was also a bit disappointed that, after the Master’s seeming reform at The End of Time that he’s back to being purely evil and more than slightly deranged. I know he will never be all sweetness and light, and we wouldn’t want him to be. But I could think of other, better ways to go with this character (filed under Reasons They Should Let Me Write for Doctor Who).

Anyway, by the time Death in Heaven showed, I had gotten over the surprise and was ready to give the new scenario the benefit of the doubt and enjoy the finale.

It had its good points. A lot of emotional poignancy, with Danny’s love for Clara overcoming his cyber conditioning, with both the Doctor and Missy seeming almost nostalgic for their former friendship. A bit of hitting the Doctor below the belt emotionally (they do that a lot this season) both with Missy’s ‘gift’ of an army and her comments that she and he are alike, as well as Danny hitting him (again) with the comparison between him and other ‘generals’ that fight from behind the lines.

It had bad points that I might have forgiven the way I forgave the rubber monsters and occasionally stilted dialogue of the original series. Making the Doctor the emergency ‘President of the World’ felt over-the-top to the point of farce, unnecessary to the plot, and far more unlikely than time-travelling police boxes and oversized dinosaurs in the Thames put together. (When in the history of humanity have the leaders of the entire world been able to agree on anything?) Flying cybermen? And that whole thing with liquidy-stuff making instant cybermen out of corpses? Were the writers vacationing in Amsterdam during the story conferences?
But then we reached the moment that made me wonder whether, despite his assertions of prior fandom, if Moffat had ever watched the old series. Or, for that matter, the new series. Because the Doctor Does. Not. Kill. In. Cold. Blood. Not even with provocation. Not even to save millions of lives in the future. He couldn’t even kill Davros. Didn’t want to destroy the Daleks at their genesis, knowing for certain what would happen if he didn’t.

The end of the Time War was not in cold blood. There was a battle raging, and it was an act of war.

The end of Planet of Fire might be the closest he came to cold blood. And yes, he did stand by and watch the Master burn, though the emotional difficulty of it was evident thanks to Davison’s brilliant acting. But he did what he did to prevent the Master from emerging as an eminently powerful super-being. He was not merely appointing himself as executioner for past and imagined future crimes.

This point is further supported by the end of Last of the Time Lords, when the Doctor stops Francine from killing him and says instead that he will take custody of him. When Lucy shoots him, the Doctor cradles him in his arms and begs him to regenerate. This is the Doctor we know and love. The man who believes in mercy and values life.
The Doctor we know does not shoot an unarmed person who is not an imminent threat to keep his companion’s hands free of blood. The Doctor we know stops his companion from killing and explains why killing in cold blood is wrong. Yes, it was the Brig who killed Missy in the end. But the Doctor did not protest and seemed about to do the deed himself.

Yes, this Doctor is more emotionally vulnerable to Clara than any other Doctor has been toward any other companion in the history of the series. In some ways, that opens possibilities for interesting narrative depth. But when the Doctor becomes so weak as to not stand up against cold-blooded murder, especially of someone he once called friend, someone who fairly recently (on the Time Lord sense of recently) saved his life at peril to his own, this ceases to be the Doctor at all.

My Schedule for Orycon 2014

Friday, 11/7
2 pm– Buy Your Unconscious Mind a Drink How to get your creative mind to talk to you. (Moderator)

5 pm—Getting Your First Professional Sale An author can struggle for months or years before achieving their first success, but even after writing their opus, they can be tripped up by a process which is both entirely new to them and yet critical to their success. This panel describes what an author may experience as they revel in their first success. (Moderator)

Saturday 11/8
10 am—The Fine Art of Description What makes purple prose purple? Are adjectives and adverbs really evil? How do pro writers describe something in vivid detail in the fewest words, and when can writers expand those descriptions? (Panelist)

11 am—Hold on to Your Reader The wrong word choices can throw your reader right out of the story. Learn how to maintain suspension of disbelief. (Moderator)

1 pm– Featured Author at the NIWA table in the dealer’s room.  Informal meet and greet, Q&A and signing.  Signed copies of my book will be available for sale at the table all weekend.

3 pm—Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading Join members of Broad Universe–an organization dedicated to women in genre fiction–for a whole bunch of really short readings crammed into one hour. (Reading)

5 pm—Urban Fantasy Made Real Increasingly, stories are being placed in modern times or locales but with fantasy elements to them. Whether it is wesen in Portland or vampires in Washington, how does one effectively blend these very different elements? Alternatively, what are some examples of how NOT to accomplish this? (Moderator)

7pm—Speeding Up Your Output Fast writing is not necessarily bad writing, and more words per day equals more stories for your readers. Discuss methods for upping your daily word count without sacrificing quality or your life. (Panelist)

Sunday 11/9

12 pm—Feedback Workshop Bring your questions, manuscripts, critiques, etc. A hands-on workshop on how to apply the feedback you get from readers, editors, writer’s workshops, critique groups, etc. (Panelist)

1:30 PM—Reading


In honor of the coming holiday, I blogged about masks and disguises in fiction–what makes them so compelling? Guest blog at Here Be Magic!

Upcoming Novel!

Samhain-kitty here. Writer-person is off at an Irish music session, so she won’t notice me on the computer. Well, someone has to update this blog, right?

Anyway, The Wild Rose Press has agreed to publish writer-person’s novel Where Light Meets Shadow (formerly Bright and Dark). It must be good, to have overcome the flaw of having no cats in it at all. Not one. I tried to stop her, really I did.

I’m sure she’ll tell you more about it closer to publication date.  Unless she’s very busy going to sessions and ceilis and leaving the work to her poor neglected cat.

Help the magic continue! Crowdsource campaign on to fund Raven’s Wing

OK, the long-promised (or long-threatened) fund-raising campaign for Raven’s Wing is up at Indiegogo. The manuscript just needs a pass with the freelance editor. Funds left over will go to promotion.

If you can’t afford to give the green energy (and believe me, I understand broke), please help by spreading the word via Facebook/Twitter/blogs.

And do check out the trailer. My friends at Otter Crossing Music custom-arranged and performed the music as their donation to the cause, and it is stunning.

Campaign is here: