Clover, A Literary Rag comes back to Village Books in Fairhaven, Sunday, September 4th at 4 PM. Vol. 11 of the vibrant locally produced journal contains stories and poetry from over fifty talented writers—a truly international cast. Representing all of them, our September readers showcase what Clover does best! Join us.
Clover, A Literary Rag comes back to Village Books in Fairhaven, Sunday, September 4th at 4 PM. Vol. 11 of the vibrant locally produced journal contains stories and poetry from over fifty talented writers—a truly international cast. Representing all of them, our September readers showcase what Clover does best! Join us.


I recently moved from a huge house to a small house. In an insane real estate market, my old house sold 4 times in 5 months.  The heart palpitating ride landed and although I am not getting in line for another go-round, I am delighted I braved the one I was on.

Outside my window red tailed hawks glide high over pastureland, and the sunsets bring walkers daily.   At night the heavens open to stars and moon, in a quiet world. Yesterday I walked by a thicket of trees that opened onto a perfectly framed Mt. Baker. Wild chamomile sprouted along the way.

In a few days I will travel to Brussels to reunite with my daughters. In the upcoming days I will begin to chronicle this adventure.

Clover, A Literary Rag,  Vol. 11 comes home to Village Books, September 4 at 4 PM.   We will have a fabulous  show, so mark your calendars.

Our popularity grows as do our submissions.  Get yours in today for our next edition. Our submissions ending date for Clover, vol. 12 is September 30th.  For details check our link.



Summertime at IWS

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Summertime at IWS

We meet on Mondays from 1-3 PM–our evening group resets during July.  The week of July 12 we meet on Tuesday evening at 7 PM.

The Independent Writers’ Studio is home of CLOVER, A LITERARY RAG.  For Submissions please follow the link!

Clover_9 cropped cover

CLOVER, A LITERARY RAG, Vol. 9 is available at Threshold Documents in Bellingham and at  the following independent bookstores: Village Books in Bellingham; Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle;Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane; and The Writer’s Workshoppe in Port Townsend, and Trail’s End in Winthrop, Washington.

You can order a copy of our current (or any!) edition through PayPal or by contacting me at




I have a list of things I want to say:

1.  You are the master of your imagination — the engineer whose job it is to develop a pathway from your experience to an audience.  In your own words.

2.  The Independent Writers’ Studio begins again June 22, that is Monday at 1 PM.  Get excited about your writing.  Wednesday’s group begins at 7 PM.  Hope to see you.

3.  Clover, A Literary Rag, vol. 9 will be out very soon.

4.  Join us at the Chuckanut Writers Conference  Clover, A Literary Rag will be at a foyer table.  Our magazine will be sold at Village Books at the conference site. This happens on June 26!

And  5th but really first I am so happy to be home after a fairy tale excursion in Stresa, Italy. My daughter married there last Saturday. Joy-filled with a Hemingway twist.

Clover, A Literary Rag, Vol. 8, Reading Date

Yesterday I listened to a leafless tree–a small crabapple or cherry tree, perhaps, but a singing tree.  I studied the empty limbs, and saw the fluff of a squirrel’s tail as it lay prone along a branch. Apparently the squirrel was curious, too.

My two little dogs and I stood stalk still, waiting.  Those were chickadee songs that tree was singing, and finally I saw one small bird where I knew a chorus played. I let it be.

A song tree on a January day.

Speaking of gatherings–Clover, A Literary Rag announces one!  Clover is back at Village Books March 15, Sunday, at 4 PM.  Mark your calendars.  We promise a full slate of highly visible writers in full early spring song.  More later.  Just promise to save the date, and shop at Village Books in Bellingham, Washington.

They support birds of all feathers.

PS  Looking for a writer’s group?  Try IWS. We meet weekly. Monday afternoons and Wednesday evening.


clover 7 coverIWS attended the writers Chuckanut Writers Conference at Whatcom Community College this weekend.  Village Books and Whatcom Community College jointly put on the  writers conference.  Hats off to Chuck and Dee Robinson who support writers at the ground level, and give them a garden to grow in.  Anna Wolff from Whatcom College and Paul Hanson from Village Books have done an amazing job again this year.

IWS celebrated Clover, A Literary Rag, vol. 7–its launch timed for the conference opening.  Among our Studio attendees  were: Janet Bergstrom and Jim Milstead from our Monday afternoon writers group and from Wednesday evening: Norman L. Green–printer and assistant editor extraordinaire–my true right arm in Clover; Shelley Muzzy, and J. Jamieson Woods.

I did not get to hear all the faculty at the conference; but I did attend Claire Dederer’s session — memoirs–fiction– memory is fiction.  The hardest stuff to reveal is sometimes a revelation in itself. I loved her writer’s exercise and plan to use it in my groups.   I also enjoyed Thor Hanson’s plenary talk about how the brain sees words based on the physical mechanics of eyeball and optic nerve–traveling information into the sea of brain matter. I found it fascinating to demystify the muse.  I loved Bruce Barcott’s Friday morning talk  — he told us all the tricks of topic selection. Ha!

Last evening Clover, A Literary Rag sponsored an open mic reading hosted by Andrew Shattuck McBride at the Village Inn right across from our favorite bookstore, Village Books.  This event was in conjunction with the writers conference.  Andy did a wonderful job as our emcee, and what fun it was to hear stories and poems from 16 conference attendees.  Delightful to have Dick Harris among us! Especially noted here was an appearance by one of Clover‘s best friend’s, Laurel Leigh, who read from her story “Dearest” in the summer edition of Clover.

Goat Mountain Pizza!  Our food truck on Friday.  I love you guys.

I came away revised and inspired–and eating muffins on a Sunday morning–ready to get on with my own novel revision.

Again thank-you Village Books!

Four Candles

Officially we will celebrate the Independent Writers’ Studio’s birthday at our Clover, A Literary Rag event on Saturday, September 28th at Village Books.  Wish us well.  Join us then for a reading from our Volume 5 of Clover.  The studio is four years old, and is a Recession baby.   She’s up and walking and talking.

The idea of a literary magazine grew out of the groups.  Norman Green and I wanted to highlight the fine work done by those who consistently and faithfully bring their poems and stories to the table.  The idea grew and Clover now gets submissions from some of the finest writers  around–and that  challenges us to a higher bar.cropped-iws-group.jpg

So in a lovely way, we celebrate Clover’s birthday, too.

I believe anyone who has a poem in the heart should have a voice in the world.

Thank-you Wednesday night group.  Thank-you Monday group.  Keep those nouns and verbs coming.

Happy Birthday IWS.



Everything’s Coming Up Clover

IWS steered into 2012 with engines revved. 

 We just finished a fiction writing workshop courtesy of Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner.   Our first ever author-invitational.  He shook things up some.

We received boat passes on the schooner, Zodiac to participate in Bellingham Rendevous courtesy of IWS member Chris Wallace who is chief mate on the schooner.  I’ve never been on a tall ship before and the last time I was on a sail boat I was 15.  I am very excited about this!

Clover, A Literary Rag, vol. 3 is coming out in June in time for the Chuckanut Writers Conference.  Our prayer, at least!  The idea of the conference is to bring writers together, to share and maybe even inspire. 

Submissions are open for Clover, 3 until April 30.  If you have something to submit for this issue now is the time to refine and submit.

And to all friends of our studio, thank-you.  Special thanks to Norman L. Green.  Check out his dream blog.

Cloughmills — February 8, 2012 — Getting Unstuck

I dreamed I  went to a physical therapy appointment.  The waiting room was large and industrial, the way it is with big practices.  Cold.  Most of the patients making due with old chairs, that are unpadded.  These chairs hold the frailest of us.  My doctor’s office has such a waiting room, and I think, how unkind the chairs are, especially for old people who are expected to wait upwards for an hour.  I went up to the partitioned off appointment desk and I can see the treatment rooms and the therapists talking together.  They are waiting for me.  They tell me to not take anything personal with me because of the possibility of theft and their liability.  I have given my ring and earrings and wallet to my mother and dad who have come with me.  They sit quietly in those awful chairs. I try to get through to the therapy rooms where I see the therapists but the appointment lady tells me I have to go around. ‘Going around’ means going down a steep stairs without handrails.  I ask if there is another way.  They tell me to go out and clear around the facility to a door in back.  I agree to do that.  A maze of sidewalks and waiting rooms await me.  I go up and down and around, and I am worried I will miss my appointment.  I finally find a stairs under construction — it is wide and is just planks but it does have a railing.  So I look carefully and realize that it stops at a high arc with two planks leading on down.  The person in charge shakes her head because I hesitate.  So I go along the outside of the building which looks like Old Main on Western’s campus, and I wonder why they make it so difficult for people to get therapy.  I finally get to the therapists.  They remind me about the rings and wallet.

And this to me is about as clear a dream as I have had of late.

Been writing poetry and finally got my Irish story out of the mud.

Kudos to Norman’s dream blog.   And as I write I’m streaming lovely Hawaiian tunes courtesy of KKCR  from Kauai. (Hawaiian tunes make me feel like I’m on an ocean swim) I love giving the surf report to my daughter who lives there.  I am an ocean away.   Mahalo.

Cloughmills — February 6, 2012

I’m stuck.  I learned long ago not to make pronouncements about the ease of visions when it comes to writing fiction.  Honestly, I did see the next kilometer on the road, but that was yesterday, or perhaps, the day before.

When I wrote Tibet, A Writer’s Journal, I knew certain things.  I knew Emmy Lasater was on a pilgrimage, one that she was afraid she might not be able to manage.  Fear and physical limitation make a weird brew and a mindset befuddled by black cloud.  As the writer, I walked every mile with Emmy, and I experienced her setbacks and her achievements.  The monk guided me all along.

Emmy Lasater is back in the Irish story, and it seems like I am writing  around her. And that is the problem.  I think I need to call on my monk, once again, because she would.

Emmy is someone who listens and who observes.  She reads people through her emotions, and when she is in social situations,  she loses words.  She says she is OK, because she does not want to consider the consequences of not being OK.  She still fights with ghosts, however many from the old battles have given up and gone.

She lives in the present, and not the past.  Her stubbornness and taciturn nature comes from a bevy of experience. She was born with cerebral palsy.  She measures her success in life by barriers she has removed.  These barriers were created by doctors  and parents who told her early on what she could and cold not do in life.  As a child of the ’60s she was a natural to disdain the establishment and question assumptions.  Her mother later called her a steel butterfly.

And now in 2013, Emmy is visiting Ireland.  Her list of maladies has increased.  She has a condition called deteriorating disc disease, overlaid with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis — what she calls the ‘osteos’ …  She manages.

I manage right along with her, for as much as the Tibet story was and is my story, so is the Irish.  In order to create the fiction I have to unmask the author.

Crap, I hate that part.  The writing continues.  I have to decide what this story is:  a field guide to Emmy? a field guide to Ireland? a love story? or a mystery?

The curious thing about my writer’s dilemma is the path to discovery.  The only way I know as a writer to figure this out is to keep writing.  The characters will tell me — eventually.   How true I am to each one will give breath to what I do.

More from Cloughmills 1/15/2012

1/15/2011:  Snow falls on my Bellingham yard and yet it is May in Armagh.  The writing is going well, despite computer problems.  I wrote another 7 pages yesterday and worked on a scene in my drafting notebook when I woke up at 3:30 this morning.  I am reading The Paris Wife at the same time. A little Hemingway influence is a good thing — a true sentence — with strong nouns and verbs.   As I sit here the snowflakes have gathered strength and fall in tune to music playing in my living room.  It is a near perfect Sunday.  I never want perfect, and never struggle with perfection.  I do love the snow falling.  And I love the Irish story.  Happy Sunday writing.  Back to it.


1/13/2012:  The moon is waning and I have been away from my story, my Irish story for several days.  In the meantime, the story has gelled more.  As an editor and writer, I receive a lot of how-to information for writers.  My favorite advice is the simplest, simply write.  Write your way to the story and through the story, and listen to the story as you write it.  If it gels– prepare to have the gel make shapes you might not have imagined.

My Irish story is doing just that.  In the Cloughmills story, I have a painting that I put on a wall in a cottage in Armagh, Ireland.  I thought I was fleshing out a scene and giving more information about two of the characters. This morning, in the middle of fixing breakfast, it occurred to me that this painting was central to the entire story. Earlier on I drafted more notebook story, which gave me greater insight into the characters and I believe this is what inspired the insight.  Until things gel another way, I am moving in this direction.

I call these insights, writing-surprises. Writing-surprises are markers that tell you, as a writer, that you are paying attention.  As you listen to the writing, what you write and the characters you develop become whole and vocal and tell you more about the story and its direction.

1/7/2012 Cloughmills: I reread my pages and pages of story as delivered in my notebook, and I have decided that that a 1:10 ratio is about right.  These wonderful 3 in the morning free-writes give me great insights into the characters.  What I have to do as the architect of the story is provide a structure for all its many rooms.  I started that last night.  There is a natural love story in the mix, and since the story takes place in Ireland in the spring of the main characters later lives, this will be fun to follow.  Because it is Ireland, there will be some legends to play with too.  I think I will call the story. The Linen Maker’s Daughter.

1/6/2012 Cloughmills is on my mind as I write tonight.  I have a notebook in which I write scenes and I have filled over a 100 pages.  It is a chef’s kitchen of ideas — five gardens in one breath of imaginings.  For every five pages of notebook, I get one page of rewrites.  I am not used to writing in this manner, and I do not know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  I do not know if I am leaving too much detail out or putting the right detail in.  I do love my characters, and I do not want to disappoint them.  So tonight my homework is to read the notebook, and embrace it.

1/4/2012  Cloughmills is a tiny village in County Antrim and 62 kilometers from Armagh the setting for my story. In Northern Ireland, UK, Clough, Cloughmills, and Clogh all exist.  Across the Irish Sea from County Armagh the little town of Slough may be found.  Part of my interest in cemetery research in this area comes from family documents indicating that part of my family came from one of these places; I do know they received permission to leave Ireland through Newcastle.  I am glad I am writing a novel — and my passion is in the story and not the dead-on accuracy of just where when and whom traveled this way or that.  For the sake of my sanity or until my facts are corrected next, my characters are situated in Armagh and travel to Cloughmills and Newcastle.  I am choosing Cloughmills because I like the Harry Hume oral history so much.  And now, on this truly blustery Bellingham afternoon, I am returning to my story.

1/3/2012:  Micah & Emmy have had a fine morning in Armagh.  I left them after a picnic on the way to Ballyweanie cemetery in Cloch.  They were on a stone bridge.  Emmy pitched pennies into the greenest valley she remembered ever seeing; the brownies Micah packed in the lunch had their own special punch. ‘There’s your rainbow,’ Micah said.

‘Oh look at it — just look at it.’ She stared into the sky until she began to giggle.  ‘We’re so old,’ she said.  ‘Isn’t it great?’

January is a great month for writing and this story wants to write itself.  I am definitely along for the ride.

So many changes: 12/3/11… I read a wonderful interview with Harry Hume, a Clogh local.  And it is ‘Clogh’ not ‘Clough’  according to Harry.  The full interview can be found at  Harry took me on a walking tour of the very place my characters are in.  I found this photo of Slemish Mountain on the Antrim Plateau; a view from Ballyweanie Graveyard.

Slemish Mountain on the Antrim Plateau may be viewed from the Ballyweanie church yard.

Clough Update: 12-2-11:  I am at work on the Irish story, and I really don’t know where this one goes.  I write at night before I sleep sometimes, and sometimes I wake up and write.  In the morning I am somewhat surprised at the result.

“Clough” means “stone” in Gaelic. Wikipedia sorted this one out for me:,_County_Antrim


On a message board about 11 years ago, I found a woman holding papers from my family.  Among them was a passport for William and Anna Stewart and children.  The interesting part of this was the date: 1762.  The family planned to emigrate to Pennsylvania from County Antrim, Ireland.  Mr. Stewart was a lace-maker.  In County Antrim, it appears they lived in Clogh.

About a year or so after I received these papers,the Bellingham Herald had a story about a family named Stewart.  It was the same Stewart family.  The son of William and Anna had taken his ministry to California Creek here in Whatcom County, Washington.  The land was adjacent to that of a dear friend of my ex-husband.

Today I have tried to put some of these pieces together.  I looked at the passport and the names, none were familiar.  In my mind I had changed Clogh to Armagh (so certain I was I contacted an old friend who recently moved to Armagh for local information.) It felt as though I had created this out of whole cloth, to beg a phrase.

Today I took a look at the other papers and noted the woman who transcribed the Irish passport was named Jones. Her great grand father was William Stewart from Antrim. In the papers I pulled from the file I found my grandmother’s name: Edith Leone Jones Gillilan.  Her grandfather or great grandfather was the same William Stewart.

I thought my friend’s move to Armagh was serendipitous; but really the Whatcom County connection is mysteriously serendipitous.

Is my family trying to find me?  Is there a story here? I’m thinking, yes.

Documents below:

The Stewart Family at California Creek, Whatcom County Washington.


The passport was transcribed by Martha A. Jones Stewart related to my grandmother, Edith Leone Jones Gillilan.