Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.

--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

the Luck Child, again--

Yesterday I wanted a kiss from the Luck Child, and today I have got it--a gorgeous glory of a review in Strange Horizons from that wonderful reviewer who always sees what no other reviewer sees, Tom Atherton of Wales. It's strong and wide-ranging and full of insight, delineating aspects of the book I like to see revealed. (He's even got a few criticisms, and I can tell you that he's the sort of reviewer whose remarks I will remember, next time I am revising a novel.)

Earlier he wrote an equally insightful review of Thaliad (and he begins this review with Thaliad) that pleased me very much--even, I can say, enlightened me. I am infinitely grateful to him for the results of his story-mining and contemplation.

I have sometimes doubted that beauty and perception can find their reward in our culture of trend and frantic change and celebrity. The fact that Strange Horizons has picked up Tom Atherton as a reviewer is heartening.

In more Luck Child news, most or all of my marked galley pages turned out to be not lost forever but scattered about "in the mail bin."

Images in this post: Art for Glimmerglass (Mercer, 2014) by Clive Hicks-Jenkins of Wales, book design by Mary-Frances Glover Burt of Georgia. Art for Thaliad (Phoenicia, 2012) by Clive as well, with design by Andrew Wakelin, also of Wales. May I just confess that I love Wales?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Luck Child, where are you?

Clive Hicks-Jenkins
detail, division page for Maze of Blood

I have had the usual bad publishing luck (editors departing and leaving books orphan) and some unusual bad luck with my books (as, publishing a book just after 9-11), but never, never, never have I had the post office burst open my well-taped box of first-pass galleys--carefully marked by me, the register and work of many days--and lose almost all of the pages. Until now.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Clive Hicks-Jenkins,
latest (4th of six) division page head for Maze of Blood.

Marly and Clive

Clive Hicks-Jenkins snipped comments from our letters to make this Artlog post (surprised me!) about the fourth head for Maze of Blood, the only one so far that has seemed to give him pause. He ended up using the gun sight as an eye. All the heads have an unusual eye--a beetle set sideways, a flower, a curl of mazy paper. Lots of thoughts, ending with responses from many people in the arts--writing, visual arts, music--about the final result.

And with Mr. Beam

This Artlog post is about a collaboration between two longtime friends of mine, Clive and North Carolina poet Jeffery Beam, who I have known even longer than I have known Clive. It also has some interesting comments about collaboration and about Maze of Blood, including the claim that "Marly takes even the most unnerving material and stitches in through with the sublime." Like that description.

Upcoming with Clive

Suzanne Brazil recently did a 2-part interview with me that ran at Blogcritics and at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. We're now plotting on a 3-way interview about collaboration--Suzanne, me, Clive. It'll be done the slow way, where Suzanne asks a question, one of us responds, and then the comment is sent on to the next person for a response. And so on, all organized and directed by Suzanne...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Wor(l)d According to Mr. Rogers

Clive Hicks-Jenkins for Thaliad
Yesterday would have been the 87th birthday of Mr. Rogers. And you know, this morning, thinking of people I know--contemplating first someone who feels almost desperate and may be dying and then another, younger person who is awash in talents but who is scorched by self-criticism and cannot manage to feel worthy--I thought of his words. This little post is especially for those two, but you may find it of interest as well.

Isn't that strange, to want an answer and to think of a man who dealt in potato bugs and leaf-polishing and little children? He never wanted to bore those little children. He meant to always see them and all things clearly, giving them a slow, careful attention.

Fred Rogers was one of those people that Walden suggests are rare and few--those who are not asleep, who do not lie down as sleepers and let the trains of life run over them. They are people who are awake to the world and to others and to themselves.

“Life is deep and simple, and what our society gives us is shallow and complicated.”

“When I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” 

"You know, I think everybody longs to be loved, and longs to know that he or she is lovable. And, consequently, the greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they're loved and capable of loving." 

"I believe that appreciation is a holy thing, that when we look for what's best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we're doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we're participating in something truly sacred." 

“When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is: the lovely with the unlovely, the strong with the fearful, the true mixed in with the fa├žade, and of course, the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way."

“In the external scheme of things, shining moments are as brief as the twinkling of an eye, yet such twinklings are what eternity is made of -- moments when we human beings can say "I love you," "I'm proud of you," "I forgive you," "I'm grateful for you." That's what eternity is made of: invisible imperishable good stuff.”

"Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else.” 

Count me in, Mr. Rogers Fan Club.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Poetry, drama, fiction!

The marvelous collages
(painted papers and drawn elements)
of Clive Hicks-Jenkins for Thaliad
Thaliad at the Priory School 

I just opened a big, lightweight package from the Saint Louis Abbey. The inside is stuffed with letters from boys of Saint Louis Priory School, each containing a return envelope and a book plate to be signed for Thaliad. There's also a little note from their teacher, Fr. Augustine Wetta, who was one of my private students at the Antioch Writing Workshop last summer, along with a rosary made by him.

This year the priory boys in his care have been reading an impressive range, from Homer to me--"Homer, Virgil, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Milton, Carroll, and Youmans." And I think that list sheds an interesting light on some of our public school syllabi, where teachers sometimes appear to have canon-allergy and now fear to teach the great books. It can be done. It is done. And these are middle school boys!

It's lovely to make a circle from teacher to student-and-teacher to students and back again. I'm proud of Father Dude and wish him much pleasure in his writing and many readers. He's not only writing but doing a teacher's part to make genuine readers who will be able to tackle any text.

And here's a review of Thaliad (from Goodreads) that I especially love because of the pitch, which says you should buy the book because it's from a small, artsy press but wonderful, and because it manages to be post-apocalyptic in an "aggressively non-commercial way." Hah! Thank you to David, somewhere on the planet.

Words at another school 

In other word-related news, child no. 3 has had an interesting couple of weeks, last week serving as an amusing co-host for the annual high school poetry slam (and also reading a poem written for the occasion) and this week making a surprising splash as Mortimer Weird on stage. He has a reputation as being a rather quiet student, so his flamboyant walk and talk has been astonishing to all. Treading the boards is thrilling!

Maze of Blood in the pipeline

First pass galleys of Maze of Blood have been returned to the publisher, after three straight reads. Clive Hicks-Jenkins is currently working on six large, beautiful images for the division pages, and there will be a series of six smaller images used in repetition for chapter headers. Will it be as beautiful as Glimmerglass, Thaliad, and The Foliate Head? Yes, they are all wonderfully decorated by that soulful limner, Clive! It's like trying to pick a favorite child or the best flower in a wonderful bouquet to pick which one is most loved.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Brazil and fire--

Suzanne makes posters (of me)

Today I'm finishing up (hope!) galleys for Maze of Blood (now with an updated page.) Meanwhile, here's a fun thing from Suzanne Brazil, who interviewed me recently (a 2-part interview that ran at Blogcritics and Seattle Post-Intelligencer). She is making e-posters with quotes drawn from the interview, and so far I've spotted and collected five on a Pinterest board. Huge thanks to Suzanne for spending so much time and thought on the interview and posters. Evidently there will be more:


And thanks to Endicott Studio for mentioning "The Salamander Bride" as a fire read in a bibliography accompanying that interesting article, "Fire and the Fire Bringer" by Heinz Insu Fenkl. I loved the old Endicott Studio and am glad it is back, all new and shiny.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

finalist, Foreword BOTYA awards

Back soon--working on galleys for Maze of Blood.

Glimmerglass here: 

General (Adult Fiction) 
Contributor(s) Marly Youmans 
Publisher Mercer University Press 
Publication Date Sep 2, 2014 
Pages 224 Price $24.00 
Tags #finalist #fiction
All general fiction finalists here
A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage
won the Foreword BOTYA Silver Award in fiction for 2012.


my page for Maze of Blood, updated

Some Clive Hicks-Jenkins pages:
You may find a good deal about the making of art for Glimmerglass, Thaliad, and The Foliate Head on his Artlog--all under the tag "Making Books." As he's productive, you would have to scroll a long ways to see them all.... But that would be delightful, as you would see many strange and lovely things along the way.

Clive's preliminary sketch for a division page at right.

So much universe, and so little time.  #TerryPratchett