Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fall Bells! Line-up of 7:30 BELLS Guest Posts for Fall 2014.

I'm delight to announce the Fall Bells--writers who will share what makes them ring, resonate, and feel alive in 7:30 BELLS Guest Posts on the second Tuesday of each month this fall.

September Bell: Justina Chen 

Award-winning YA author of five books, 
strategista, speechwriter, and storyteller,
Justina Chen's newest novel, A BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS,
is just out to terrific acclaim.

October Bell: Marc Calhoun

Marc Calhoun is the author of two books
 about twenty years exploring the Hebrides--
Exploring the Isles of the West: Skye and Tiree to the Outer Isles, 
and Exploring the Isles of the West:: Firth of Clyde to the Small Isles. 
(Published by The Islands Book Trust)

November Bell: Martha Brockenbrough

Award-winning YA author, journalist and grammarian, 
Martha Brockenbrough's YA novel Devine Intervention 
is a rare cocktail of wild imagination, humor and heart.

Join us the second Tuesday of each month this fall
for these exciting writers' 7:30 BELLS Guest Posts.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

7:30 BELLS: Thriving in the Wasteland

Twisted and battered, this aspen grows in a barren lava field in the Central Oregon Cascades. How deeply its root must grapple down through the now cold fire rock, seeking water. Some would say this tree is a survivor, to exist in such desolation. Survival implies scraping by, managing. But as I stood looking at this tree in awe, I saw much more than survival.

I saw a tree made uniquely beautiful by the circumstances in which it found itself. A tree that had become elemental and fierce. If this tree lived in a gentle canyon by a gentle creek, straight and tall in the company of a dozen other straight and tall trees, it would not have made the bells ring in my heart. This tree thrived as itself.

So embrace the desolate rock. Embrace the wild wind. Let them sculpt your heart, self, and spirit into a beauty all your own. Grapple deep. Drink from whatever underground spring you can find. And thrive.

Difficult times can 
sculpt us 
into something uniquely beautiful.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday
 of every month. On Thursday I will be announcing the lineup of "FALL BELLS" 7:30 BELLS Guest Posters for September, October, and November.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

7:30 BELLS: Falling over Rocks Makes the White Joy Fly Upward

I sit by the giant stone steps of Greenwater River, beside the trail near Greenwater Lake. The river roars over the stone steps, tossing frothy white banners. People say froth is unessential, probably because it is ephemeral and ever-changing.

I disagree. I disagree because as I watch the whitewater, the bells inside me ring wildly.

The lacey banners that crest the rocks are more than gilding. They make the river beautiful by bringing it alive. I especially love the exuberant white droplets flying up in bursts and bounces. Even though the current flows over the same rocks, the droplet patterns are always different. They are like the tracery of our lives. All is movement, all is change. The froth makes visible the ever-changing nature of the world and our lives. And it is helpful for me to remember that bumping over hard rocks makes the white joy fly upward.

So this is my best hope of eternity: ever-changing like the flying droplets, ever the same like the flowing river. Duality conquered.

And all this is brought to us by froth, thank you very much! So get thee to a river. Open a bottle of champagne beside it and celebrate each ephemeral bubble.


Ephemeral effervescence makes the bells ring

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

7:30 BELLS Guest Post: BELLS RING THE JOURNEY by author Kim Baker

Thanks to award-winning author Kim Baker for this month's 7:30 BELLS Guest Post
sharing how bells in Edinburgh became markers in her life.

After Dia’s invitation to post, I brainstormed significant bells until I traveled to the United Kingdom with my husband and kids, and everything not to do with the trip went on the back burner. It was the first trip for our kids to my husband’s homeland. They greatly enjoyed familiarizing themselves with their British heritage (albeit mostly by sampling candy). We visited my lovely in-laws and showed the kids landmarks from my husband’s childhood.

At my request, we stopped in Edinburgh, Scotland for a couple of days between family visits. I lived in Edinburgh for a year in my early twenties, and I loved it. It was my first time far away from home, before Facebook, and Skype, and all the other ways that we can connect from great distances. I was often scared and lonely, but I learned that I could take care of myself, discover new connections, and, well, survive. It wasn’t easy. 

There wasn’t a minimum wage in Scotland then, I was sick a lot, and anti-American sentiment was high. I found jobs waiting tables and tending bars in pubs. It was a 45-minute walk to each of my jobs, and it did manage to be steep climbs uphill and downhill both ways. The memories of walking to and from work in the winter are especially vivid. Darkness, cold, rain, and slippery steps in worn out work shoes. If the church bells on the Royal Mile chimed after I had passed the statue of Greyfriars Bobby I was fine, but if they chimed before, I was probably late. I usually had sniffles and chapped cheeks from the wind. I was lean from all the walking, along with not having much money for food. But, still. I was mostly happy to be there and my memories of that time are almost all happy ones. Despite being sick and hungry and poor, I felt like I was the person I wanted to be. And despite worrying about lateness, the bells reminded me that I was on my way to work. I struggled between paychecks, and I was grateful to have work. 

Flash forward mumble-mumble years, and I was back there last month. It was warm and sunny. I retraced old steps from my flat to an old job with my family. I hadn’t thought of the bells in years, but they rang through the old streets of the city, and the sound stopped me in my path. Things are different now, but I still feel good about where I am in life. I’m not lean anymore, but I know my capabilities (most days). I can take care of myself (most days), and I can take care of others now as well. But even with the differences and (ahem) maturity, I’m still on a journey. When we left Edinburgh we vowed to come back again, and I can’t wait to see where I’ll be on my path the next time I hear the bells chime. 

Bells ring out our journeys through life

Kim's debut middle grade novel, PICKLE: THE FORMERLY ANONYMOUS PRANK CLUB OF FOUNTAIN POINT MIDDLE SCHOOL (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children's), was one of the New York Public Library's Best Books for Reading and Sharing, a finalist for the 2013 CBC Children's Choice Awards, Book of the Year for 5th-6th grade readers, and the recipient of the 2013 SCBWI Crystal Kite West award. She lives in with her family in Seattle where she reads a lot, makes stuff, and thinks about ways to entertain her pets. She can often be found in the woods, despite a chronic fear of bears.

Learn more about Kim Baker at

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday
 of every month. Join me on September for a guest post with 
award winning author Justina Chen.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

7:30 BELLS: A Jouissance of Clouds

The wonderful French word jouissance combines the ideas of playfulness and joy. I love that. The word perfectly describes both Friday’s sunset of pink powder-puffs (cirrocumulus) and the way the bells rang as I watched it. We have terms for groups of animals—a pride of lions, a glory of unicorns, a murder of crows—so why not for groups of clouds? This sunset was a jouissance of clouds. How about a brooding of clouds for brooding stratus? Or a dragon of clouds for nimbus?

Clouds can carry any emotion, probably because they don’t have to carry them long before they change. In minutes, a dragon turns from a swallow to a rose to a glowing Botticelli angel. If only we could be like this too, instead of endlessly plodding under the weight of emotions we’ve strapped to our own backs. As I watched this sunset, this jouissance of clouds, I realized that the greatest jouissance comes from watching the clouds morph on unseen currents of air. And from wondering what will they become next.

If only I could remember that I am blue canvas of sky and the clouds only passing emotions. We all have currents, most blowing unseen from our unconscious, that shape our emotional lives. As I watched the powder-puff sunset fade, I wanted to hold on to the jouissance fiercely. But who can hold a cloud? Who would want to? And so I let it go, and waited for the next experience of life to take shape. 

Jouissance makes the bells ring

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday
 of every month. Join me on August 12 for a guest post with 
Crystal Kite winning author Kim Baker.