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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: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/raven-s-wing-sequel-to-award-winning-urban-fantasy/x/6321575

Cool Stuff Series: Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Environs

So the manuscript for Raven’s Wing is awaiting crowdsource funding to pay for the final edit (look for the Indiegogo campaign soon), so it’s time to return to the Cool Stuff blog series.

Today’s Cool Stuff topic is Ashland/Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Anne Hathaway B&B and Garden Suites, which has been on my mind since I wrote a scene where Cass and Raven reminisce about their visit to the same.
Yes, I know it’s barely within the parameters I set, as Ashland is about a four-and-a-half hour drive from Portland, longer if you’re like me and get bored easily with driving and keep finding excuses to stop. You could day-trip it—I’ve known people who have—but for the full experience I highly recommend taking a couple days (hence the addition of my favorite B&B to the blog entry.)

If you live anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, you have undoubtedly heard of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but unless you’ve actually gone, you probably don’t fully grok how truly amazing it is. Nine months of plays, three theaters, including the seasonally open replica of the Globe itself. Shakespeare’s plays are, of course, remarkable in and of themselves. The actors, the sets, the costuming, are all top class. As is the directing, even if I may have a differing opinion of some of the directors’ interpretations. (A Winter’s Tale a few years back was absolutely amazing, taking the play from its one-dimensional, nearly-folktale interpretation many English teachers give it and taking it up to the level of a multi-faceted, realistic psychological drama. An interpretation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice done as a romantic comedy, not so much. And I could have done without Puck in fishnet, although many theater-goers enjoyed him.)

They do a varied selection of modern plays, as well, presented with an equal level of quality.

I usually organize my visit around a couple plays I really want to see, and then add one or two more that fit into my schedule. Often I find myself liking the ‘extras’ I threw in the best, so don’t hesitate to add a play you’ve never heard of.

Do take the backstage tour. It’s totally worth it.

Also take some time to check out the quirky little stores in the shopping district well within walking distance of the theater. Don’t be surprised if store clerks and wait staff engage you in a knowledgeable conversation about the plays, the productions, and past seasons. It’s part of the magic of the place (and experiencing a whole town so thoroughly dedicated to a long-dead writer gives the rest of us some hope.) You might even pass on the street one of the actors from the previous night’s play.

Don’t forget to take a wander through Lithia Park, a 93-acre park just behind the OSF complex. It boasts a Japanese garden, a formal rose garden, a century-old bridge and two duck ponds, but best of all it has acres and acres of woods so old you feel like you could come across Oberon courting Titania around the next bend. Though this part of the park is largely undeveloped, you will come across the occasional bench where you can sit a while and contemplate Ashland Creek as it rushes on its way.

Now, as I mentioned, there’s far more to Ashland and OSF than you can possibly do justice to in one day. I recommend eschewing boring hotels in favor of one of the many lovely, unique B & Bs in the area. With no slight meant to the many fine establishments I have not had the privilege of trying, let me suggest my favorite Ashland home-away-from-home, Anne Hathaway’s B & B and garden suites. An easy walk from the theater, this historic lodging house has lovely and fragrant gardens, and is uniquely furnished with bits and bobs brought home from world travels. The hospitality is above and beyond all expectation. The three-course breakfast includes house-made scones or muffins (if you are very lucky, you may encounter their ginger scones or gingerbread muffins, but every offering is a treat). The breakfast is huge. . .I rarely eat
lunch when I’m staying there. They also set out a small, informal afternoon tea and an after-theater snack including port, sherry and/or Irish cream.
The hosts are fellow alum from Penn State’s English program, and so are able to spark intelligent table conversation about the plays. Although it sounds like a cliché, they really do make every effort to make guests feel welcome, comfortable, and completely at ease. Fellow eco-geeks will appreciate the house’s efforts to run a ‘green’ business.
I haven’t been back in a few years due to budgetary constraints, but when checking out their website to see if there were any changes to note, I was amused and pleased to discover the addition of a list of unusual discounts offered. Among those who may qualify: Penn State alumni (I perked up at that); Peace Corps volunteers, staff and parents; left-handers; classroom teachers; anyone born in 1941.

If you go, tell Deedie and David I said ‘hi’!

Doctor Who: Deep Breath– A (mostly) spoiler-free review

Author’s note: Trying to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but am hesitant to declare anything spoiler-free as some people would consider it a spoiler if you mention that there is a dragon in The Hobbit. (Oops, sorry. Let the cat out of the bag on that one)

So, first impressions: Deep Breath blew my mind. Possibly the best Doctor Who episode ever, and this is coming from an obsessive life-long fan.

Surface stuff: My steampunk self was squeeing non-stop– Victorian London, scary automatons, all sorts of gears and levers and a hot-air balloon.

Great checking in with the Paternoster gang. Especially loved Vastra and wife quibbling like any other married couple. Not sure if Strax’s descriptions of the various regenerations made it to the network version (I went to the theater), but hearing the Sontaran take on the first 11-plus regenerations was hysterical.

Also, the creepiest episode I have ever seen, and all without any on-screen gore. And much of it written over the head of the wee ones (At least, I sincerely hope the wee ones don’t get the implication of what the hot air balloon was made of.)

Lovely bit of clever ambiguity in the end, with one question never quite answered.

Lots of great inside jokes for fans, and lots of Scottish jokes as well. (More squee)

On to the deeper stuff, and oh, sweet gods, is there a lot of depth. Perhaps the first regeneration story to realistically address what it must be like for the companions/friends of the Doctor when, hey-ho, it’s a brand new and different him. Also explores the true nature of love, be it romantic or otherwise. (To quote the bard, which no one in the ep did, but should have: ‘love is not love that alters when it alteration finds’). With perhaps a slight meta-comment about the loyalty (or lack thereof) of certain groups of fans.

We meet a Doctor that at once harkens back to the tough, ready-for-action, maybe even a tiny bit ruthless Doctor of the Pertwee era, and yet is in some ways the most vulnerable of them all.

The first episode with a new Doctor is always a bit scary to die-hard fans. If this season continues as it began, I, for one, am ready to fall even more deeply, hopelessly in love with the series.

Gold Medal for Ravensblood!

So proud to announce that Ravensblood has won a gold medal in the Global Ebook Awards!

Blog Tag 2: Describe Your Protagonist

We interrupt our semi-regularly scheduled Cool Stuff blog story to play another game of blog tag. I was tagged by author Veronica Scott (http://veronicascott.wordpress.com/) and challenged to answer the following questions about the protagonist of my current work-in-progress. In my case, it’s a bit of a cheat since I’m working on the sequel to Ravensblood.

Note to those who have not yet read Ravensblood (and why haven’t you?): There may be what some would consider SPOILERS below. About on the level of what you would get if you read the cover blurb of the second book of a series before you finished the first, but since some people are sensitive about that sort of thing, I thought it best to include a warning.

 
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Corwyn Ravenscroft, or Raven, is a fictional character.

 

2) When and where is the story set?

In an alternate universe/parallel universe version of contemporary Portland, OR (and environs), a world where magic is real, life is full of impossible choices, and sometimes death magic is the lesser of the evils.

 

3) What should we know about him/her?

Raven is the last heir of an ancient family of dark mages. As a youth, Raven wanted to be a Guardian but was rejected because of his ancestry. In his pride and his anger, he had turned to William, the darkest and most powerful mage of their time. William wanted a return to the old ways, where the most powerful mage was ruler absolute. But William would not have been a True King from the fairy tales. He would reign in blood and terror and darkest magic.
In the last book, Raven discovered that he does have a conscience. It’s rather inconvenient.
He became a spy for the council that William wants to overthrow. His contact is the Guardian Cassandra Greensdowne, his former lover and apprentice.
In this book, Raven has won his pardon but is still very much an outsider in the Three Communities, although he has done some informal pro bono consulting for Guardian International Investigations, where Cassandra now works. He may find that he has more friends than he realizes— though his enemies are both powerful and determined.

 

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

The Ravensblood is an immensely powerful dark magic artifact that Raven created in the beginning of the last book, an artifact that is instrumental in his defeat of William. It is taken from him by the Council at the end of the last book and held under the highest of security. When the Ravensblood is stolen, Raven is accused of the theft, his pardon is revoked, and he is on the run.
As long as the Ravensblood is in unknown hands, the Three Communities are in danger. Raven, Cassandra and their allies start to wonder if William is really dead. Meanwhile, an unknown enemy is moving in the shadows.

 

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

If you asked him, he would probably tell you that it is to live his life quietly and without harassment, research magic, go to the opera and play chess with his bookstore-owner friend, and be with Cassandra as long as she’ll have him. Yet he has an unmet and unacknowledged need to find a place in the community, or at least to find a community that has a place for him. He loves the challenge inherent in the sort of work done by Guardians. And his conflicting and unresolved feelings about his family history and his identity within it are about to bite him on the butt.

 

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The working title is Raven’s Wing. The pre-publicity is still under wraps— look for a cover reveal, a book trailer and an Indiegogo campaign in the coming months. In the meantime, if you have not already read Ravensblood, the first novel of the series, you can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Ravensblood-Shawna-Reppert-ebook/dp/B00G93U4F8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407728243&sr=8-1&keywords=Ravensblood
There is also a two-pack of short story prequels, Duet for Ravens, available here: http://www.amazon.com/Duet-Ravens-Shawna-Reppert-ebook/dp/B00H360WJ8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1407728243&sr=8-3&keywords=Ravensblood
Or look for links elsewhere on my website, or simply plug my name into an Amazon search.
The trade paperback edition of Ravensblood is also available at Another Read Through bookstore in North Portland.

 

 

7) When can we expect the book to be published?

Tentative release date is Winter Solstice of this year (12/21/14)

Cool Stuff Series: The Wee Ceili Room

OK, so I have permission to share with you one of the best kept secrets in the local Irish music scene.

All right, not-quite-so-well-kept secrets. At the least, it’s a Cool Thing that most folks outside the inner circles of Irish music fandom haven’t heard about.

I present to you the Wee Ceili* Room.

Technically, it’s an enclosed porch in the back of the home of Irish dance instructor and traditional music promoter Sam Keator and his lovely and gracious wife Anne Doherty, but to call it an enclosed porch doesn’t do it justice. The floors and walls are a rich, polished wood, with windows and skylight. Most important, the acoustics are excellent.

This, my friends, is the location of some of the most incredible house concerts you will find anywhere. Don’t believe me? Google Andy Irvine, Noel Hill, Laurence Nugent, Hanz Araki, Golden Bough, and Molly’s Revenge. They, and plenty more, have played the Wee Ceili Room.

Calling the setting intimate is an understatement. Seating is for about sixty-ish, and if you are sitting in the front row you may have to tuck your feet out of the way if a musician gets up to change instruments. The atmosphere is one of utmost respect for the music— you will not hear people chatting in the audience or talking on their cell phones while the musicians are playing. Not that all is Serious with a capital ‘S’. The musicians generally bring stories to go along with the songs, and some of them will have you laughing until you can’t breathe. If you want to not only hear the songs and tunes, but also learn about their provenance and the historical events from which they arose, this is your place.

There is a casual potluck of desserts, snacks and libations before the music starts that picks up again with the set break. Don’t worry if everyone seems to know everyone else. Before the end of the evening, you’ll know everyone, too. And when you come back the next time they’ll be glad to see you again.

The Wee Ceili Room reminds me of something out of Charles de Lint’s Newford. I half-expect Geordie to play there some day, or to bump into Jilly in the audience. Outside the world of Story, we may not find shapeshifters or paintings that come to life, but the magic is real nonetheless.

(The Wee Ceili Room exists in the very real Washington County, about 45 minutes to an hour southwest of Portland. To find out more about coming events and to find out how get on the mailing list, check out www.IrishPDX.com. And while you are there, look at the info on dance classes, ceilis, the Community Concert Series, and other great things Sam has going. ‘Cause honestly, I could probably fill up the rest of my Cool Stuff blog with the events he has going on.)

*‘Ceili’, pronounced ‘kay-lee’ has come in this country to refer to both Irish Social Dance and to one of the dance socials where ceili dancing happens. But the literal translation from the Irish is ‘party’.

It Takes a Village. . .

Samhain-kitty here. Since writer person is neglecting this blog almost as badly as she is neglecting her poor, long-suffering cat, let me be the one to tell you she has a guest blog up at Here Be Magic. http://herebemagic.blogspot.com/2014/07/it-takes-village.html

The people behind the scenes who make books happen. Including you, readers!

Cool Stuff II: Arch Cape

Since I recently spent the long weekend in one of my favorite spots on the planet, I thought it time to share it with those of you who think Arch Cape is just another little green road sign between Cannon Beach and Manzanita.

Admittedly, that was all it was to me until I made the acquaintance of a wonderful couple who happen to own a historic cabin a short walk to the beach. I will be forever indebted to them, not only for many weekends of unparalleled hospitality and very fine Scotch, but for introducing me to one of the most magical places on Earth.

Arch Cape is so named for a natural stone arch hollowed out by the action of the sea. At low tide, you can walk under the arch, but know your tides! If you are on the wrong side of the arch when the tide comes in, you’ll have to scramble up the cliff and walk a couple miles down the road to return to your car or lodgings.

A bit further out is a natural monolith called Castle Rock, similar to the more famous Haystack Rock of Cannon Beach, but quite a bit smaller. Locals call her Queen Vic, an appellation given her by one of the first settlers to what is now Arch Cape, an English immigrant at the time that Victoria still sat on the throne. During winter storms, waves may overtop Vic, truly an impressive sight.

One of the marvels of Arch Cape is its solitude. During the off-season, you may well be the only one out on the beach. There are no big hotels, no shops, not even a grocery store, and, as of this writing, no restaurants or bars. (Plans are in place for one of the latter. The property has been bought and a chef hired, but the Orca Lounge still awaits permitting before it can get off the ground.) Bear in mind this means no public restrooms, so plan accordingly.

Narrow paths wind through native bushes from the town proper down to the beach, and it doesn’t take a writer’s sense of whimsy to imagine fantastical creatures hiding beneath the tangled growth. Many, if not most of the residences are owned by the occupants, which give the place a small town feel. The best illustration of the spirit of Arch Cape came a few trips ago during a solitary morning walk on the beach. A strange dog ran up to me and, without preamble, shoved a soggy tennis ball into my hand to throw. Because, of course, I had not brought a dog of my own, and so he felt the need to share his retrieving services for my entertainment.

An interesting historical note: the cannon for which Cannon Beach were named actually washed up in Arch Cape. It was one of the cannons from the Shark, a naval vessel that shipwrecked on a sandbar at a time when the border between the US and Canada was still in dispute. Two more cannons were discovered later, also at Arch Cape. They have been painstakingly restored and are now on display at a museum in Astoria. Arch Cape was originally called Cannon Beach, until the town just to the north stole the name. They also, arguably, stole the first cannon, but I’ll leave that story to someone else’s blog.

And on a literary note, Arch Cape makes a special guest appearance in Raven’s Wing, the sequel-in-progress to Ravensblood.

If you day trip, public access is down Leech Street off of US 101. I suggest you round off your trip by continuing south to Manzanita and having lunch or dinner at the Sand Dune Pub. Tasty pub food with generous portions at reasonable prices. There is outdoor seating in good weather, and well-behaved dogs are welcome in the outdoor seating.

First Blog in the Cool Stuff of Portland(ish) series: Mississippi Pizza and the Atlantis Lounge

OK, so I decided to try to break my blogging dry spell by doing a blog series on cool stuff in the Portland(ish) area. Figure half of the locals know about these things, but it’ll probably be a different half each time. So, for locals, some stuff you might want to check out. For non-locals, a glimpse into the cooler, geekier side of Portland and some stuff you might want to check out if you ever make it out here.

Ground Rules:
1) The definition of ‘cool stuff’ is up to my highly biased opinions and will possibly be highly slanted toward, though by no means limited to, Things to Do With Irish Music, Things to Do with Steam and Victorian Architecture and Things to Do With SF and F Geekery.
2) Portland(ish) area is very loosely defined as ‘within a day’s drive, more or less, of Portland.’
3) ‘Stuff’ includes places to go, things to do, things to see.
4) Cool stuff will appear in no particular order. I don’t take bribes, but if there’s something cool you think I might like and might not know about, feel free to drop me a line.

With no further ado: my first cool place is Mississippi Pizza and its Atlantic Lounge. Not the fanciest place by any means, but if you like very-thin-crust pizza, the food is good and reasonably priced. I’m not a huge fan of thin crust, but the sauce won me over. The attached lounge is pretty, with some lovely stained glass and attractive carved-wood paneling that reminded me of the interior of a steam-era rail car. I visited on a sunny Sunday, with the shadows of the trees outside dancing across the stained glass, very summery.

The best part of the Mississippi is their live music. All ages, no cover, and some of Portland’s finest acoustic artists have played there. I went there particularly to catch singer/songwriter/fiddler Kathryn Claire, who deserves a place on the Cool Stuff list all her own. (Irish trad and Americana. Rich, powerful expressive voice. Look her up on YouTube, and then at her website http://www.kathrynclairemusic.com.)

If you go, be aware that you will need to order your food at the counter at Mississippi Pizza; there is no table service. The line may be long, so pack your patience.

If you want great music on the cheap in a relaxed atmosphere, it’s worth checking out. (3552 N. Mississippi Ave, Portland http://www.mississippipizza.com/about/)

Interview at New Writer’s Interface!

I was interviewed by award-winning author Mary Rosenblum over here on her blog!  http://www.newwritersinterface.com/shawna-reppert-whats-working
(Mary was also my editor for Ravensblood)