Troubled Season

Good Evening, Dear Readers! Cinder here with a little rant.

Autumn is a time that many look forward to. The leaves begin to change, the air becomes crisper and the days shorter. It is a time to harvest and enjoy everything pumpkin spice flavored. But it also a tremulous season. Herds must be culled, fire wood gathered, food preserved,


blankets must be shaken out, and new leaders chosen. Winter is coming – and that’s not just something they say in a popular TV series.

This fall seems to be even more chaotic than most. And from the fae perspective, it’s very perplexing. American’s will choose a new leader – not a new event by any means, but this year the contest has become more than just a simple choice based on who’s pro-this or anti-that. Hate and fear seem to be ruling this election.  Why? Are you not all the same? Sure, some of you have darker skin than others. Some have red hair, some blonde, some black. A good 99% of Americans are at the very least, descendants of immigrants. So why do you have each other so? And why do you treat those truly native to this land with such disdain? Are they not the care-takers of this land?

The fae do not judge each other on how we look. How can we? To say that those with wings or warts or six legs are better or worse than those without is a strange concept to us. The brownies might have a long standing feud with the ogres, but it is because of some slight of honor, not because of looks that they fight. And even then, it’s a ritual skirmish once a year, with much feasting afterwards.

And your disdain for female leaders – where does that come from? You used to worship goddesses, and some still do. Female humans have led wars, been declared saints, and many have ruled empires, yet Americans seem to think women cannot be effective leaders in their own government.  Have you forgotten where you came from? Who gave birth to you? Are those females not worthy of your respect? Many now seem to think not.

I cry for you humans, especially Americans. You are members of one of the most free societies in the world, but you seek to limit those freedoms for those who you think are different. Those who’s differences are literally only skin deep.

I hope that fear and hate will not rule your heart when you vote for your leader this year. Let compassion and empathy for your fellow citizen rule your heart. Do not seek to limit the potential of your neighbors, or your children. Think not only of yourself and your limited, short-sighted world view. Think of the legacy your vote will leave for the future.

Please, do not make us destroy the orange-skinned, muppet-haired monster masquerading as a candidate. For we will, if you are short-sighted enough to elect him as your leader. (No, he’s not fae – we suspect he’s some form of demon-spawn.) Humans weren’t the only ones to die by the millions in WWII. We fae paid a heavy price as well, and we will not let it happen again.

Remember, be kind and respect one another. Those two simple things will go a long way towards healing all the hurt this year has brought us all.

Be well gentle readers.

Work ( a discussion on our environment)

Like most authors, I have a day job.

Most days I like my job. Some days, like today, I wish I could rage quit and write full time and have more time to garden. (OK, that’s most days regarding the writing and gardening, not the rage quitting.)

I look at a lot of aerial imagery for my job. It’s pretty cool most of the time. Until I come across areas where oil and gas developement is happening. I recently listened to a very balanced podcast on fracking, and while it didn’t sway me from my “fracking is a bad thing” opinion, I did learn more about it.

Gas Wells in western Colorado

Gas Wells in western Colorado

So here’s why I still don’t like fracking. I don’t like what it does to the immediate environment. Check out the picture on the right. This is an area where fracking wells are being installed. All those little pale dots in all these pictures are well pads. Every one of them affect the environment around them in some fashion or another. Acres of land are impacted either by roads, the well pads, storage areas, or waste water holding ponds. Not to mention that private land owners are inconvenienced by the gas companies who have rights to the resources under the land.

Fracking waste water holding ponds

Fracking wastewater holding ponds

I did learn that most fracking spills happen above ground. That doesn’t make me feel any better about it. Would you want the contaminated water in the ponds in the picture on the left near your home? What about the wildlife who may encounter this water?  And what are the impacts when these ponds are flooded, as many were during the major flooding in the South Platte River basin in 2013?  The oil and gas companies don’t want you to think about that.

I get that natural gas is technically cleaner than coal. Until you factor in the methane leaks and intentional burn off. (See this article in National Geographic.)

Gas Wells south of Durango, CO

Gas Wells south of Durango, CO

I’ve been working with this issue for nearly twenty years now in different ways. Back when I worked for the Division of Wildlife, I had to write letters to the oil companies advising them about critical wildlife areas and how to manage it when they put in a new well in one of those areas.

It’s time to wean ourselves from oil and gas. Not just to prevent global warming, but to protect our local environments and the creatures and people that rely on it.

Essequibo River

Merry meet dear readers!

My apologies for not posting much about Anomaly Con on Twitter (So many fae wandering around, so little time to photograph them!), or recapping the convention last week. Mab insisted I return to Faerie with Pandora Celtica and report on our adventures. It was a lovely few months in the land of the fae, but thankfully Shadowcat and I were able to slip back to the mortal realm.

Were you one of the lucky ones who picked up Pandora Celtica’s new cd, or got them to autograph all of your old ones?  It was a bittersweet weekend to be sure. Shadowcat assures me that the new album will be online soon for those who could not come to the convention to purchase it.

And speaking of purchasing…I bought a lovely tome at the convention from author Paul Lell called “Essequibo River.”  If you’re a fan of Pandora Celtica, I’m sureEssequibo River Cover that title sounds familiar, and it should. While the song is not one they wrote, it is one they perform to the delight of their fans.  The book features the members of the band in a very sci-fi setting as the roguish band of fae they are, and incorporates the lyrics to some of their songs as well. I really enjoyed this story. Lots of twists and turns, and delightful glimpses into the personalities of the band that you may not have ever seen before.

Curious as to what spawned this story about my fae friends, I asked Paul that very question. Here’s what he said:

“It’s all Nessa’s fault.

A couple years ago I was at MileHiCon, sitting at the local author’s shared table, chatting with Rubiee, whom I knew through a mutual acquaintance. The Band’s table was behind mine, facing the opposite direction and in the midst of our conversation, someone started scratching my back. I looked over my shoulder and there was Nessa, grinning like a…. well, like a pixie. I told her I’d give her exactly seven years to stop with the back scratching and her grin widened. She said I could repay the favor by writing the band into a book.

Challenge accepted!

She probably meant it as a joke, but I’ve always been bad at reading between the lines. Plus, it sounded like fun, and I love the band and their music, so why the heck not? I tapped Rubiee over the next couple of years, periodically asking for info about the band and their faerie powers, proclivities, personalities, etc. taking notes and never really offering any explanation as to why I was asking. Then I sat and ruminated on how to get them into a story, in my world, without making it seem forced, or like the fan service it obviously was.

Finally, in November of 2015 I had a flash of them being the good bad-guys, like in Leverage the TV show. I needed a project for that year’s NaNoWriMo and with that final bit of inspiration I launched into the tale of Tal and the band.

The rest, as they say, is history.”

So there you have it, blame it on the nixie. Or thank her – that might get you further. If you’re sad that Pandora Celtica has returned to the land of Faerie and are looking for more interactions with them, pick up Paul’s book. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Physical copies can be purchased here:
Signed (by the band, artist, and author – while supplies last) Physical copies can be purchased here:
eBook copies can be purchased from Amazon, iBooks, Nook Press, Kobo, etc. just by searching for Paul Lell, or Kalijor, on the site in question.

Spring is Almost Here

Merry Meet Dear Readers!

It has been some time since I last wrote to you, and for that, you have my apologies. Mab has kept me busy this winter. With what, you ask? Nay, I’m sorry dear readers, but I cannot tell you. Mab is a dark mistress, and the tasks she sets me are better left untold as the year progresses toward spring and the world begins to think of rebirth.

Mab’s hold on the world is weakening, and my duties will soon lessen when Titania reigns once again. I am excited, and somewhat saddened by the approaching spring. While I will get to spend more time in the mortal realm, the band of fae I usually travel with are going their separate ways. We will all miss each other, but there will be one last concert at a gathering called Anomaly Con. I am looking forward to listening to them sing again. I have heard as well, that many of the darker fae will be there, called to the mortal realm by the theme of the gathering, which is, “Dark Underground: Supernatural Steampunk Around the Underworld.”  It is sure to be an exciting gathering.

Fear not dear reader, though the fae of Pandora Celtica will be parting, Shadowcat and I are staying together, our bond stronger than ever. We will continue to explore the mortal realm, getting involved in shenanigans whenever we can.

I will endeavor to “tweet” my experiences during Anomaly Con (March 25-27, 2016) and you can follow me at @CinderRavenwing. You can also follow my mortal Instagram account at Bewitchinghips.

Until then dear readers, may your gardens blossom at the dawning of the Spring Equinox.


Whales, not rants

All morning I’ve been composing a rant about our political system in my head. Fresh out of the caucus and the jumbled, disorganized mess that it was, I was fired up. But I’m not going to do that. The world doesn’t need another political rant about how old and broken our political system is.
Pod of Orcas

Pod of Orcas, photo from

Instead, I’ve decided  to share something closer to my heart…whales! Because whales are much cooler than bozo political clowns anyway, right?

I fell in love with killer whales early in life. My parents took me to Sea World when I was 7, where I saw the Shamu show (though the real Shamu had passed before I was born). Those giant creatures had me hooked with the first leap. At the time, I had no idea how cruel their captivity was, and I spent much of my young life wishing and working towards being a whale trainer “when I grew up.” That path didn’t work out, and I’m glad that Sea World will no longer breed whales for display (capture has been outlawed for a while now). But without Sea World, I never would have known about these beautiful beings, and I am thankful for that experience.
While my life’s path has kept me land-locked, the internet allows me to keep tabs on my favorite predator. To that end, I recently paid for a membership to the Center for Whale Research – a non-profit that studies the orcas living along the Washington coast. They post pictures of encounters and updates on the pods, and are a great resource for all things orca.  They’re doing great things to further our knowledge of these wolves of the sea, and if I could, I’d run away to Washington and join the team. But alas, that’s not possible yet, so I live my vicarious whale-researcher life through them instead.
I encourage you to check out their FB page or their website:

On Struggle

My yoga teacher often talks about different topics, and incorporates them into our beginning meditation, as well as throughout the rest of the class.

Her topic this week is struggle. She prefaced the topic by asking who in class has a friend who holds nothing back, even if the advice, observation or whatever is a bit brutal.  I have a couple of friends like that, and everyone in class raised their hand. My teacher happened to have that same kind of friend, who told her during a rant session about a new professional pursuit, that she needed to stop avoiding the struggle.

We all do it. We all want our next great endeavor to be easy, fun and make us lots of money right away, and many of us quit when the going gets tough.  I’ll be the first to admit that yes, I have abandoned career paths, hobbies and even the completion of Girl Scout badges, when the going got tough.

But my teacher’s friend is right. We shouldn’t avoid the struggle if we’re passionate about whatever it is we’re doing. The struggle is what makes it worth it. The struggle is what pushes us to grow and learn.

Writing is my struggle. I’m a decent writer, out of the box, but I know my prose and story-telling style needs polish. I love writing, but most days I struggle to fit it in around work, maintaining my home, dance practice (Ha! Who am I kidding – rehearsal night is the only night I practice…) and spending time with my fiancé and my friends.  When I do MAKE the time – and I emphasize make because writing time never just lands in my lap – I usually struggle to put words on the page. It’s a rare day when a story spews forth like ambrosia from my fingers.

After the first couple of rejections from publications, and a round of heart-rending editing on my novella, I was tempted to quit. Not only is writing hard, but the business is hard. Sure, anyone can self-publish on Amazon now, and I’m sure I’ll do that eventually too, but self-publishing doesn’t give you the credibility needed to get noticed by the people who will ask you to write the next Star Wars tie-in novel.  And I really want to write Star Wars novels.  So I keep writing and submitting to professional markets. That struggle will also help the Ashelon project reach its full potential. Ashelon is a fantasy/steampunk world that’s the collective brainchild of Chaz Kemp and I (You can find out a little more about it here.).  I love the world, and the first novella just needs some world and character tweaking, but I struggle to go back to it. I’m afraid to ruin it by trying to fix it.

I really don’t like it when I start to struggle. I feel inferior because I’m not instantly good at something, and that makes me want to slink away.  But I’m determined not to do that this time. Instead, I’m trying to embrace the struggle. I’m taking classes, going to workshops, and giving stories to my critique group (whom I desperately love, btw, not because they always tell me my stories rock, but because they’re not afraid to tell me where I need work). I’m learning, and doing my best to beat back the beast of perpetual doubt. I will rewrite the novella and start a second one this year.  Those are my goals.  And I know I will struggle with them. But I won’t avoid them. Not this time.

To struggle means you’re alive. Embrace the struggle, find ways to surmount it, and never let it stop you from doing what you love.

Winter Solstice – A Post by Cinder

Merry Meet Dear Readers!

Did you rise early to greet the sun after the year’s longest night?

Winter Sunrise, by Wilfred Owen, Creative Commons

Winter Sunrise, by Wilfred Owen, Creative Commons

I am typically up before the sun as a matter of course, but getting up today was more challenging, for I was attending Mab at her solstice celebration last night – the longest night of the year in this part of the world. For the Fae, this is one of the biggest fetes of the year. The night when Queen Titania and Queen Mab exchange control over this world.  Many think this is the time when Mab rules the world as a whole, but that’s not quite true.

There must be balance in everything, and so it is even with the Fae courts. Yes, Mab gains control over the northern hemisphere, but in balance, Titania will rule over the southern. It must be this way, or the world would freeze over entirely under Mab’s rule, and the poles would melt under Titania’s.  It took them millenia to come to this compromise.  If you don’t believe me, ask a geologist about the world’s history of ice ages and warm period.

Keeping the balance aside, this is the time of year when the northern world is darkest. Some revel in it, most pine for the sun and warmer days. As a member of Mab’s court, I thrive in the darker days of autumn and winter. The quiet beauty of ice and snow are a welcome contrast to summer’s flowers and bird song.  There is a peace in walking through untouched snow, and joy in the play of otters on the ice.  Footprints of the fox or rabbit remind us in dark days that we are not alone – that life continues, but at a slower, more mindful pace.

Winter 2015

Winter 2015

Mab cloaks the land in ice and frost to remind us to slow down and take stock of our lives. Cuddle up close with your loved ones and share the stories of your past and your wishes for the future. The frantic pace of summer will come once again, but for now, cherish Mab’s gift of peace and stillness this winter season.

The darkness is not a thing to be feared, but something to embrace, knowing that without it, there can be no light.

Bright blessings on you all dear readers. May this holiday season be one of warmth, light and love, and may the sparkling snow remind you to slow down and be mindful of the blessings all around you.

On Hate and Fear – A note from Cinder

Dear readers,

It is with a heavy heart I greet you today. I have been unfortunately busy assisting the Morrigan and others from the world’s pantheons with ferrying innocent souls across the veil. It is a heart-heavy task, and one most associated with women (not discounting the Ferryman of the Greek mythos – he’s a right card, that one, btw). I often wonder why this is. Some say it’s because women are the gentler sex, but having seen not only the Morrigan, but the Valkyries and the mighty Boudicca in battle, I would beg to differ. One does not walk away unscathed from poking a mother bear.

I do believe that in many ways, we are more compassionate. We understand pain, not only in childbirth, but in our daily lives. For thousands of years, we have watched our sons, husbands, brothers and fathers go off to war, with no guarantees they’ll return. We know loss.  And so I believe that is why your mortals seem to find solace in a female hand as you cross from the mortal life on to the next.

What I do not understand about these modern times is the hate and fear that is so prevalent. A thousand years ago, we feared what we did not know. Invading hoards with swords of steel massacred entire villages in the pursuit of wealth and resources.  Today, in America at least, most of you have food, shelter, a trade you work, and access to more knowledge than the great intellects of the ages ever had. Resources are not an issue, nor is fear of ravening hoards, yet you still fear your neighbor because he’s a different color or believes in a different god than you.  You claim to be enlightened, yet you cling to beliefs that are outdated and restricted to a very narrow world view.  For all of the knowledge available to you, you mortals cling to willful ignorance like a dog to his favorite old bone.

In these times, I am glad I can retreat to the lands behind the veil. There I need not fear an angry person with a gun randomly killing innocents, or listen to those who believe the only way to further their agenda is by spewing hate and fear.

I mourn for you my dear readers.  I mourn for the friends, family and loved ones lost to violence, and I mourn for the future you seem to be creating because you’re unwilling to see that you are all human, and all deserving of love and kindness from one another.

So please, see past the hate speech of your leaders, your clergy, and your neighbors and remember that we all come from the same place, and return to it in the end.  I hope only to take your hand and lead you across the veil after a long, happy life.



Sidekicks! – A Charity Anthology for MileHiCon

Wow…in allSidekicks of the excitement of having my first short story published, and getting engaged, I totally forgot to blog about getting my first short story getting published!

The story is called “Tracking the Trickster.” As the title of the anthology would indicate, it’s a story about sidekicks, but probably not the kind you normally think about. I’m a huge Norse mythology geek, and being tied in many ways to ravens and crows, it kind of came naturally to write a story about Odin’s two ravens, Hugin and Munin.  Tasked with flying around the world and reporting back to Odin every day, they seemed like natural sidekicks, and not something everyone would be writing about.

So I gave it shot, told a story where the two had to track down Loki, the trickster god (yea, so I have a thing for him too…), and the rest is history!

I would love it if you’d check out the anthology – available in both ebook and paper form on Amazon.  (At the time of writing, the ebook is free for those with Kindle Unlimited.) And please, love it or hate it, leave a review.

All the proceeds go to MileHiCon – a great fan convention in Denver, Colorado, and the place where the seed of my writing career was first nourished.

Handfasting! A Post by Cinder

Merry Meet Dear Readers!

All Hallows Eve is always my favorite holiday of the year – and not just because it is also favored by my lady, the Morrigan. Traditionally the Celtic new year, it has transformed over the years into a fantastical evening of costumes, parties and more sweets than even many faeries can stand!

But this year it was an even more special day for me because my beloved ShadowCat and I were handfasted. (Within the presence, and with approval from our respective courts of course!)

ShadowCat and Cinder

ShadowCat and Cinder

Now I realize that handfasting has taken on a more modern meaning for mortals – which is more of a pagan marriage ceremony – so let me tell you how ours was different.  We chose to honor the old ways of handfasting, in which we pledge to be together for a year and a day. Should we decide to part at that time (not likely!), then we part ways with no ill will. Should we decide to stay together we can either renew our vows for another year and a day, or we can pursue a legal marriage.  In short, it is a rather formal engagement, and for the sanity of the mortals we interact with we will call each other fiance instead of husband and wife, as they would have in days of old.

I love ShadowCat with all of my being, and I know the next year and a day is just the beginning of an amazing story.

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