My Vote is for Us

I’m sure there will be studies on this election for years. Not just about the politics but the societal impact. The vitriol. The depression. The friendships strained or broken. Every day I notice shorter tempers, more sarcasm, more name-calling. Sadness.

I’m sad too. Not over the flawed people running nor the flawed platforms they represent. I’m sad about us. Where we’re going. Why we aren’t getting along. Why we aren’t sharing and growing.

No matter how important these very real issues are, we’re all paddling the boat together and sometimes it’s just not going to go the way we’d each like. I’ll never stop rowing, but not at the expense of being a good, positive, and friendly person.

I know there are people out there suffering silently, wishing they could ask their friends to be more civil, more open, but not knowing how to do so without joining the fray. To you, I hear you so loud it echoes in my ears. I know. I’m sorry.

Meanwhile, we see internet posts from people we care about saying they’ll hate or never forgive people who vote a certain way. Telling them to F off. Making fun of people. Telling them they are stupid while passionately posting, in many cases without having all the facts or understanding the complexities. It’s hard. It’s hard to see it, and I can’t imagine it feels so good to do it. Does it?

I won’t belabor the point further. I’ll just say – this year my vote is for us. The one I’ll say in public, anyway. Which means I care about you no matter how you’re voting. I care about you if you disagree with issues that are important to me. I care about you if you think I’m stupid or misguided. Or if you think I’m smart. I care either way.

The disagreements are not worth it. Squad is more important. And like it or not, we’re all in this together. Everyone. Please, take a breath. Listen – to each other.

However you’re feeling right now, I hope that you’ll smile. I hope that you’ll smile at someone. Say hello. It’s worth it.

Cheers – E, October 2016

I don’t like sharing the bathroom.

I find, “Would you really like to share the restroom with a dude?” to be such a creepy and winless question. Of course the answer is no.

First, the question is generally meant to mean a transgendered woman, or as I call her, a person. Or, preferably, her name. If I know it.

For those who don’t already know this, the use of gendered bathrooms by non-binary or transgender people has been an issue for a long time. The resolution usually goes either go one of two ways: a quiet acceptance and lack of publicity so people who might get fussy don’t find out (meaning, they just go to the bathroom, nothing bad happens, and people don’t tell anyone who would be a jerk about it), or a separate unmarked bathroom that is then flocked to by other people for private dumps (this is horrible and I’ve seen it several times). Though this has been, for many, a heart wrenching issue for a very long time, recent gains in LGBT civil rights have people now concerned enough to pass new laws about it. Or, in most cases post righteous memes on social media, while in the meantime real people are living a nightmare.

There are few notions more offensive to me than the narrative that a person of either non-binary or trans gender is going to assault people in bathrooms. In fact, that’s all I plan to say on that. But, if people don’t have that reason to worry, then the question is why should they worry? The answer – no reason. If you don’t agree with people living transgendered, or don’t think it’s a real thing, so? Maybe you don’t agree with gays, or divorce, or people wearing old Steely Dan T-shirts – these people are all allowed in the bathroom. There is zero reason to single one group out, just because they bother someone else. This is America. Freedom.

Just the idea of people now checking IDs at the door, or questioning what it “looks like” to be a woman saddens me. Or what it “looks like” to be anyone. Or making sure people are normal or attractive or appropriately feminine, or wherever the heck this is going. Hey, dads, want to help your young daughter in the restroom? Men with elderly or special needs companions? Men’s room is getting cleaned? Come on in. It’s a bathroom.

So, would I like to share a bathroom with a dude? No. Would I like to share a bathroom with a trans-woman? No. Why would I want that? Would I like to share a bathroom with a little girl? Uh, no, weird. What about an awkward teenager? Not in the least. A band of old ladies? Not particularly. How about my female co-workers? Nope. Not specifically. Neighbors? No. Complete strangers. Not really. Husband? Do I get a choice?

In fact, here’s my position on the issue: My ideal public bathroom would be a network of locked, fully sanitary chambers, reserved for use only by me and never shared by others. (Except that people are allowed to clean it while I’m not there, because I don’t like cleaning bathrooms either.) This restroom will also play only Madonna, will smell like evergreens, will have one of those hand dryers that makes your skin wiggle, and will feature vegan soaps and sanitizers. Oh, and the floor will always be dry. Also nature-inspired tilework mosaics and real wood window frames like in old-school rest areas.

In closing, I do not want to share a bathroom with anyone. Now, would I share a bathroom with someone else? Sure, whatever. It’s a public bathroom. My priorities: 1) ability to “go” 2) least amount of time there as possible. If you don’t agree with me, well, think about it. You may realize it’s really all ok. It comes back to the golden rule of America: one person’s freedom is more important than another person’s discomfort with that freedom.

This Independence Day, remember liberty is a wonderful – and precious – thing.

Cheers, E.

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I would read your book, but you’re a vegan.

If this sounds like an unnecessary premise – we’re on the same page! Most of my readers are open-minded people who enjoy works written by people with different perspectives. And, truly, I have no power over you. You can still do what you want.

If you aren’t so sure, let me give you some background on my whole writing identity. When I started out, I just wanted to write fantasy. Because I love fantasy – and the escape it provides from the stresses of normal life. I quickly learned that almost no one cared.

So I started reaching out to vegan groups about my vegan characters, and then found a few more people cared. Then I got a few bad reviews from people who disliked my normalization of alternative genders or orientations. So I started being up front about that. Warning: Gays! In my book! #gay Or technically, Kick was more pan. So #pan. If you don’t know what that is, that’s ok too. But then I found that a few more people cared.

Then I started getting reviews saying that people liked my incorporation of discrimination, cultural bias and patronization, and empowerment – all these layers that I thought made the story more interesting. So I started talking about those too.

So now we are talking about all these complex things, and I really just wanted to write about dragons and wizards. And magic! ✴

Katie Cross, a wonderfully talented YA author, posted this great article in 2014:

http://kcrosswriting.com/writing-about-witches-in-a-christian-world/

I guess I’m trying to say something like what Katie said.

I’m a vegan. I’m passionate and unapologetic on the subject. I like it when you think about how other animals are treated by humans. And I’m also a gender equalist who likes to push boundaries. If those things bother you, you don’t have to read my stuff. But if you’re not so worried about it, darn it, just read it. There are dragons and magic and all kinds of ridiculousness you might like. In fact, that’s the entire point. It always was.

I have a diverse set of readers. They are not specific to any gender, occupation, religion, nor region. They are just cool people. People like you. ♥

If you’ve read what I’m writing, thank you!

If you haven’t, well, go for it. You can start with Spireseeker (my stand-alone future cult classic epic) or The Banished Craft, first book in my current trilogy. (Signed copies here.) Hope you enjoy!

E.D.E. Bell ~ 03 May, 2016

Waiting to Take You Away

When I thought about different mid-Winter blog themes, I started with Valentine’s Day. Love! Charm! Cutesy themes came to mind. I looked up the history of St. Valentine’s hoping to base the blog around some fun facts. Thus I saw that Valentinius—if he was even a single person—was tortured and probably beheaded, leaving a note for a woman on the day of his execution signed, “Your Valentine.” This didn’t inspire me, so I moved on to loosely-linked predecessor holidays, like Lupercalia and Februa. Apparently these involved young women asking to be whipped with strips of leather to enhance their own fertility. I gave up on this line of thought entirely.

After considering a whole series of other topics that just didn’t fit my mood, I focused on the idea of happiness. What makes me happy? What makes my readers happy? Well, I may not know you, perhaps — but I do know me. And I asked myself: what moments in life would I relive if I could? Right now? Which were the most memorable? And the answer surprised me. Of course my time with family is always my richest—both at home and on special journeys and adventures which are too numerous to recount—but when I really think about times of unique memory, it’s the time spent alone in different places that leaps to mind. Not sightseeing, visiting, or exploring—but just existing.

Sitting alone on a California beach, ignoring the unanticipated chill. Writing a chapter while sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Walking through the rain to get a personal tour of 70s warning systems from a volunteer in Colorado Springs. Watching the sun set in Waikiki with a fresh natto roll. Being the only non-native at a Catholic fiesta in Albuquerque, and having the locals insist that I stay and enjoy a cob of corn and a dance. Standing on an antique sailboat gazing at the deep blue waters of Lake Superior. And so many more. I don’t travel too often, really, and so these memories are spread over many years. But they are bright in my mind, and each can be revisited, the sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and smells clear in my memory.

My husband and I love the song, Cool Change by Little River Band. “If there’s one thing in my life that’s missing, it’s the time that I spend alone.” It reminds us that life is short and unpredictable, and we should never miss our own special moments. We should find them, wherever we are. I can’t go to those places today, not in person. But I can stare at the stars. I can sit and relax as people I’ll never meet walk past. I can watch the snow flutter past or the clouds float by. And I can breathe, even if just for a minute.

That’s why I love to read fantasy. Fantasy transports us to another land, but without the need to set an agenda or find our way. We arrive, watch, and wait, as life happens around us – surprise, intrigue, and triumph. And then we return home, another memory captured.

I hope there will be more cool change to come. Maybe, with your help, I can travel this big, beautiful world and bring my stories to you. For now, I can dream about it, from my own little nook in Centerville, Ohio. I hope you will join me, just for a bit, in my place of dragons, wizards, and the undying spark of hope.

The second book of the Shkode trilogy, The Fettered Flame is up again this month on Kickstarter. I hope you’ll give it a look and let others know who might be interested. This little project has a special magic: it holds my heart, soul, and the hope that you will enjoy it.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/atthisarts/the-fettered-flame

And that’s all from Teirrah for today. See you around. – Cheers, E.D.E. Bell, 1 February 2016

2016: The Best Year Yet

I say every year is going to be the best year yet. And I never take it back.

2016 will be the best year yet.

But don’t forget, 2015 was the best year yet. Every year I see late-year posts lamenting how tragic the year has been, and how ready people are for the next one. I don’t subscribe to this view: I view New Year’s as both a time to celebrate the last year, and also set meaningful goals for the next. Sure, the world was rough in 2015. But it was beautiful also! There were many deaths among my own friends and family in 2015, but there were as many births. This is life. Volatile. Fleeting. Raw. Breathe it in and go for it.

I remember wonderful things about 2015. I remember the cold, snowy winter to start the year, and the warm, rainy winter to end it. I remember my mother-in-law picking up a round of top shelf Grand Marnier to celebrate Chris and my wedding anniversary. I remember spending a whole day going end-to-end at Epcot Center World Showcase with my oldest son and finally getting a nice soy sauce pitcher. I remember visiting an Air and Space museum in Colorado Springs on a rainy spring morning, and getting a private tour from a veteran. I remember my grandmother giving me her own grandmother’s framed poem that I had memorized as a child. I met Weird Al for approximately 5 seconds. I wrote Chapter 11 sitting on the ledge of the Lincoln Memorial as the sun set, then got caught in a massive rainstorm on the way back to the hotel. My pants soaked past my knees, I stopped at a bar, and had an expertly crafted cocktail and some lovely conversation. I remember sitting with my mom and son and watching the patriotic parade of boats go by on Independence Day. I got Player’s autographs. I sent my youngest child to Kindergarten. I saw Peyton Manning play again. I took my kids to talk to an astronaut. I hit a Ren Fest three times in one year. I saw Garbage play their first album live just feet from the band. I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family. I saw Star Wars in 3D. Then saw it again.

As for my writing: I wrote a book this year. It’s called The Fettered Flame, and I’ve poured my soul into it. I plan to release it in 2016, and I hope you will read it. If you haven’t read the first book, The Banished Craft, I’d be honored for you to give it a look. I also wrote a satirical online story: Mase the Modern Dwarf. It was all so fun and so fulfilling.

You know what? I bet if you think about it, you’ll see too – 2015 was the best year ever.

Until now.

Next year I will have more writing for you! We’ll start with a Kickstarter relaunch in February to complete The Fettered Flame. Please watch for that. I will write the final volume of the Shkode trilogy, and continue planning for my next project, The A… well, that’s for another announcement. I will debut as a comicon guest! Right now, I’m locked in for the Great Lakes Comic-Con in Warren, Michigan in February and the Gem City Comic Con in Dayton, Ohio in April. If you’re in the area of either, please stop by! And all the other fun things about life – from walks through the neighborhood to new adventures: I will do those too. There is rumor I’ll even turn 40.

I wish for each of you a beautiful 2016. I hope you enjoy your friends and family and pursue your dreams. I hope you have joy for your triumphs and comfort for your trials. Each of us is beautiful. Each of us is unique. Each of us has an adventure waiting for us to grasp it. It may be large or it may be small, but it’s there. Don’t forget. And go for it.

Cheers to 2016!

Much Love, E.D.E. Bell
31 December 2015

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NewYear

Mommy’s Little Princes

[Note: I wrote this piece over a year ago, but was worried it would come off too snarky, as I believe in tolerance and positive messages. However, after a recent trip to Disney World (and thank you Disney World; we sincerely had a really wonderful time) I decided to take the risk and dust it off. I have no issues with children who love the idea of princesses (hey, I’m a fantasy author!), but as parents I think we should sometimes be more thoughtful about both the priorities we set for our children, and the way they are applied across genders. No disrespect is intended – just a different perspective on the issue, for thought.]

Luckily, one of my children is a girl. This way, I have someone to pass my life skills to, and someone to watch the Lions with me on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Maybe someday she’ll even become an engineer, like me. Though, I remind her, she’d need to work hard in school so she can get into a good college. I encourage her to join Science clubs, and to stay active. It’s a lot of work to get a good job and support a household. After a good talk, we go outside for a game of catch. She’s my buddy, and nothing can take that away.

But as much as I love my daughter, I have an extra special relationship with my sons, or as a call them: my princes.

Like all little boys, they have always been into princes, from the time I bought them their first prince board-books when they were babies. Every night, I used to read to them about being a prince, and tell them that someday – if they stay handsome and sweet – someday they will find their very own princess. As they got older, I got them prince dolls, and even toy chariots that the prince dolls could ride around in. They even have educational toys for boys now, like prince board games, where the boys can learn strategy while pretending to be their favorite princes. I also remind them that princes are brave!

My husband and I are just so committed to the prince theme, but only because they love it so much! I admit, it helps me keep the kids in line as well. You know how rowdy boys are. If they are a little messy, or forget to play quietly together, I remind them – if you aren’t proper gentleman, your princess might not want you! That usually settles them down, and reminds them it’s time to watch one of their prince movies. Only for the millionth time!

It’s hard to keep them out of their prince costumes. Each one has a series of little blue crowns, tabards, and swords, and they insist on wearing them around the house, running around looking for princesses to rescue. Then when Halloween comes, they pick their favorite prince costume and spend at least an hour getting ready to go out. This is the one time of year their dad lets them borrow his hair gel and his fancy cologne, so that they really look like grownups! Handsome grownups that will attract princesses!

On their birthdays, I hold prince-themed parties. There are princes on the cake, and the napkins, and even plastic signet rings as party favors. The girls won’t go, of course – princes are a boy thing. But the neighborhood boys love it. They get together, wear paper crowns, and talk about who their favorite prince is. My sons love Eric, from “The Little Mermaid.” He was really handsome.

Some of my friends (you know, the kind of moms who read too many internet blogs and need to settle down) have suggested that I push the prince theme on the boys, that they might be interested in learning about dinosaurs, or playing with building toys like their sister does. But those are people who don’t understand nature, I think. Boys will always be boys. You just can’t push it out of them! And why would you? If there’s one thing boys love, it’s princes.

Once, the boys asked me what a prince really was, which I thought was cute. My boys are so smart, too. A prince, I explained, is someone who is born into a royal family. It’s their job to set rules for other people to live by. And as long as they stay very handsome, people will listen to them as well as adore them. And someday, they might marry a princess, and then have beautiful babies, who can also be princes.

I know that as the boys get older, they might want to redecorate their prince-themed bedrooms, and maybe even think about things like hobbies, music, sports, or even going to college. But I hope I can keep them princes for as long as I can. I just don’t want these days to end. And – no matter how old they get – they will always be my little princes.

E.D.E. Bell – 12 January, 2014

What’s with the Vegan thing?

Veganism isn’t a widely accepted lifestyle, at least not in the Midwest, at least not yet. I get it. If you don’t, just be grateful your beliefs aren’t judged as harshly. (And if they are, then maybe you understand.)

But I’ll tell you something – I have been very happy about converting to full veganism after about seventeen years of moving that direction anyway. It was time. I’m not apologizing for it or downplaying it anymore. This is who I am. I don’t wear leather, I don’t use animal fat on my skin, I don’t eat meat, eggs, cheese, or dairy – and I’ve never felt better about myself.

So here’s the deal. I’m not going to make the case for it. If you want to learn more about the reasons people live a vegan lifestyle, go to vegan.org or search the wide number of blogs or websites. You’ll read that people become vegans to decrease suffering to animals, to promote non-violence amongst humankind, because they don’t want to support the practices employed by factory farming, because they don’t want to kill intelligent life without cause, because of the health benefits, because it’s more environmentally friendly and sustainable, or maybe just because it makes them happy. Do your own research and make your own decisions.

For fun, check these people out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_vegans

Or, more substantively, listen to this guy: Dr. Kim Williams

So maybe I’ll just answer a few questions people have had for me. Since we’re chatting.

It’s just a diet, right? – Some people eat a vegan diet. I’m a vegan. There’s a difference. That means my shoes, my purse, and the stuff in my bathroom are vegan, and I live a life that looks for opportunity to reduce suffering to intelligent life. I’m not perfect or even that great; I’m just trying.

Ok, but why do you have to talk about it so much? – It seems like we talk about it a lot because it’s different. But I assure you, there are plenty of posts about pig roasts, grilled steaks, and meats wrapped in other meats in my news feed. Plenty. Not to mention jokes about vegetarians. Which, yes, even my friends post.

Everything is cooked in butter. – Yeah, you’re telling me. But it doesn’t have to be. Even if you don’t prefer oils like olive or sesame, try Earth Balance vegan butter sometime. I bet they sell it at your grocery store (though it may be called Smart Balance Light).

How can you not eat cheese? – Actually, I just don’t. It was never good for me anyway, nor was I ever really comfortable with it. Then I learned about spiked nose rings for calves. So I’m good.

How can you not eat pizza? – Yes, pizza is delicious. Vegan pizza is delicious. The fact that most pizza places don’t offer it bothers me much more than it does you. Maybe someday they will. In the meantime, I add my own toppings at home, or buy frozen varieties at the store. (Bold Organics, Amy’s, Tofurky, among others sell delicious vegan pizzas.)

What about protein and vitamins? – My, what a personal question. I have medical care, and they test me for these things. I’m fine.

But B12 only comes from animals. That proves you should eat animals. – First, are you aware that meat and dairy are fortified? Does that prove that a meat-focused diet is inadequate? Second, B12 comes from poop. If anything, this proves we should eat poop. If that appeals to you as much as it does to me, then you have two more choices: eat animals who ate poop, or eat lab-grown bacteria.

But vegan food tastes awful. – No, it actually doesn’t. If you’ve had bad vegan food, I’m sorry. Eat at my house sometime. My husband cooks vegan for our family and it’s all delicious. Also, remember that centuries of research and decades of technology have gone into refining animal-based foods. Once society puts as much effort into plant-based options, the options will accelerate rapidly. The advancements in cashew cheese and other vegan products over even the last couple of years are astounding.

I try to live with respect and tolerance for other people’s views and beliefs. It’s liberating. Negativity will only drag you down. So if you’re still reading, let me challenge you to something. No, not a vegan meal. Something else. For the next week, read your own social media posts, and listen to your comments. Before you write or speak, ask yourself: am I saying something positive about what I think, or am I saying something negative about someone else or what they think?

Don’t want to try it? Then don’t. It was just a thought. Meanwhile, I’ve got an order of Japanese Pan Fried Noodles on order with tofu and extra shiitake on the way. Thanks, Noodles and Company!

With love and respect and only a pinch of snark –
E.D.E. Bell
07 September 2014

Getting By with a Little Help

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the people with whom I collaborate, including other writers, illustrators, editors, reviewers, bloggers, printers, and retailers. I also talk about my cats, probably since they are at my side for every nearly word I write. But I would not still be pushing forward without the support of the people around me who keep urging me to continue. So, you wonderful people who won’t let me give up, here is my brief but heartfelt tribute. To you:

My Husband: I couldn’t do any of this without Chris’s constant support and encouragement. Period. It probably seems like I don’t give him much credit, but that’s because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. If I started to tell you about it, I’d never have time to get back to Chapter 17 today. In Spireseeker I thanked him for “everything.” While I giggled at the understated nature of the remark, I meant it.

My Friend, Meghan: You may not know this, but I have an amazing friend in Virginia, Meghan, who reads everything I write before it’s released – often multiple times – and gives me wonderfully insightful feedback. She also points out additional opportunities to honor cats in my work. I don’t know what I would do anymore without her.

My Mom: My totally amazing Mom was one of the first people to encourage me to actually publish what I had written. She told me, “What’s the worst thing that can happen? Everyone will hate it and you’ll be completely embarrassed. So?” My Mom tells me to believe in myself, work hard, do what I love, and not to worry so much what other people think. I couldn’t ask for more. I feel comfortable being myself because I have a mom who taught me how to do it.

My Kids: My kids sacrifice the most for my evening career. I know it. They know it. But when I ask if they want me to stop they all insist that I can’t, because they want me to be happy, and they know that I love doing this. It’s all a little Cats in the Cradle, but we make it work.

My Mother-In-Law: Nancy has sold more copies of my books than anyone except maybe me. At a recent signing in Kansas, a gentleman bought a hardcover of Spireseeker. Nancy handed him a copy of Stonecrop and said, “You want the companion novella too, right?” Of course he did. Sorry, Mom B, about the unicorns. Want to know a secret? I think they’re ok.

My Father-In-Law: Tom earns the distinction of being the only person outside of my house to have read Spireseeker three times. He claims he likes it better each time.

My Brother: Art, despite his busy job, has been one of the first people to read both of my books and provide feedback. He even invented an amusing name under which to post a review. He’s always had my back as long as I can remember, and this is no different.

My Friend, Barry: I just happened to mention to Barry once that I was writing fantasy. Not only did he jump in with a generous backing pledge on the Spireseeker Kickstarter project (I’m still trying to make your #01 print worth a million dollars someday), he’s offered to beta read everything I write. Not to mention that I credit him with saving the ending of Stonecrop.

My Boss: My boss at what I like to call my “paying” job is basically the opposite of anyone who would ever like my writing. Culturally and otherwise, it would be safe to call it not his thing. Yet, he has continuously told me he is proud of me. He submitted the publication of the book to the newsletter, when others I work with were just plain uncomfortable about it. And he even bought a copy, just to show support. It’s hard to express how I feel about this.

My Fans: Thanks to those of you who have generously backed my Kickstarter project, including people I’ve never met who simply say that they believe in me. Thanks to those of you who have taken the time to write a review. Thanks to the amazingly supportive vegan community. Thanks, Ann and Aimee. To those who’ve attended my attempted signings. Thanks Gregory (aka Tul). Thanks, Scout. Thanks, Waywards. Thanks to the man who backed at the “Emperor” level and then upped it so I’d pass my base goal. Thanks to all of you. You humble me and make me work harder.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering a copy of The Banished Craft, the campaign runs for three more weeks. Thanks again for your support. And as you can see, I have a lot of it.

Link to Preorder Campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/506671/the-banished-craft-a-fantasy-tale-of-dragons-and-w/

Link to Chapter 2: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/506671/the-banished-craft-a-fantasy-tale-of-dragons-and-w/posts/919484/

E.D.E. Bell
20 July 2014

Ode to June

This has been a busy month! I’ve had two book signings, was featured on reddit, and we launched our Kickstarter for Shkode Book 1: The Banished Craft:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/506671/the-banished-craft-a-fantasy-tale-of-dragons-and-w/

Please consider pre-ordering a copy of the book through the link above. An e-book is only $5, and by backing the Kickstarter project, 1) you’ll get a great book 2) it’s just a small way of saying you believe in me.

I sometimes don’t appreciate June enough. Sometimes it gets lost between the renewal of Spring, and the festivities of Summer. It’s that month where one day you think Summer is just starting and another day you realize it’s rushing by. And so, for just a quick little moment, I would like to celebrate June.

Ode to June

In June, I harvest twirling, swirling garlic scapes. I chop them into little pieces and use them all month in stir-fries and soups. I try not to be smug to people who don’t know what garlic scapes are.

Thunder crashes and I rush to open the window so I can watch the rain and see the lightning. Sometimes the neighbor is there. Our windows are much too close together.

I celebrate my dad in June, and think not just about everything he’s given to his family, but how much we like him, even when he makes that stop it face.

The pool is open, and finches visit during adult swim time Sunday morning. Stay at home, kids. This is our time to swim. Hello, finches.

The tomato plants grow strong and pop through the top of those metal cages that seemed way too huge. In May.

Fireflies twinkle in evening’s dusk, flying back up into the sky again to become the night stars.

My husband turns another year older, and I’m glad that we are best friends.

Concerts are outside, and the base player gets a funky riff.

I’m barefoot and it’s not too cold or scratchy.

Oops it went by too quickly.

I love to live life.

In June.

E.D.E. Bell

26 June 2014

Don’t Take No Snow

I should probably start by clarifying that I have no problem with winter, including this winter. It’s a great season to spend time with family, and a great setting to reflect on life. I loved the snowy Christmas, and I thought the snowy January flew by all too quickly. I am enjoying the snowy Valentine’s Day, driving past monumental snowplow-peaks, and watching big snowflakes weave through the air before falling dramatically onto my windshield. I am feeling no rush to move into Spring. Life is short enough without rushing.

It’s days like today that remind me of one of my most memorable moments. It was 2003, and I was sitting on a steep hill in my new car with a newborn baby in the back seat. I was good and stuck, and there was at least a half mile of traffic waiting behind me, all the way back to the main road. I couldn’t drive forward, I couldn’t pull off to the side (the residential street was lined with cars), and I couldn’t even go in reverse due to the traffic behind—all waiting on me. I was hesitant to leave the car, because it was really cold and I had a very tiny baby with me, who I would have to take out into the frigid wind if I left, and not to mention it was now dark. So I was at a loss regarding what to do.

I grew up in Michigan, and knew very well how to drive in snow. But when I bought a new car in 2003, I was in Virginia and didn’t much worry about getting a rear-wheel drive. I mean, it never really snows anyway beyond a dusting. Except sometimes it does. And being a few years desensitized to the concept, I thought nothing of driving my Cadillac up a steep hill which was, after all, the shortest way home. After all, it’s just snow.

So there I was. What happened next fell somewhere between a Christmas special and racist joke. And it’s entirely true. Three men came out of their houses (each a different house) all pulling their hats and gloves on. One was white, one black, and one latino. They waved at me to stay in the car, and told me to hit the gas. They each started pushing. The wheels spun, and I didn’t get much traction. The white gentleman yelled things like, “g’on and get on” in a classic Virginia accent. The latino gentleman yelled things like, “¡Ay ay!” and other things that I won’t repeat but sounded religious in nature. And finally, the black gentleman audibly strained (errrr), and as he pushed he bellowed across the neighborhood, “Ninety thousand dolla’s and you don’t TAKE NO SNOW? Com’ON Cadillac!” Then, as if it had heard the challenge, the car started to move.

I was torn between the gut reaction to stop and thank the men, or to let them know I had paid nothing close to $90K for the car. But as I leaned out to thank them, they waved an arm at me and shouted, “We’re thanked! We know – just GO!” And so I did. They kept pushing the car as I zoomed up over the hill, and the trail of headlights started to move behind me.

I’m still driving that car today. In fact, it did a couple of mean fishtails coming into my neighborhood this evening. And there isn’t a day I don’t drive my car on a snowy day that 1) I remind myself to avoid hills and 2) I think, “Ninety thousand dolla’s and you don’t take no snow? Com’ON Cadillac!”

To date it makes me laugh. And I always think with gratitude about the kind men who went outside in the cold to help keep people moving. No, I’m sure it wasn’t their first time nor their last, even that night. Which makes what they did even more admirable, in my mind. And so, I’m looking forward to a lovely snowy weekend. Just me, my family (including that baby who is now in fifth grade), and my car that still don’t take no snow.

So, while we’re talking, there’s some news on the writing front. I’ll be releasing a novella shortly, titled (wait for it), “The Taking of Stonecrop.” It’s set in the Spireseeker world, three hundred years before the story begins. If you’ve read Spireseeker, it should be a fun backstory. If you haven’t, maybe it’ll convince you to give it a shot. I’ll keep you posted.

Be well, and stay warm.

E.D.E. Bell, 14 February 2014