Lamont and Dude Discuss Admiration


“Wow. Look at her. She’s, dude, I don’t have words.”

“You admire her?”

“Well, yeah, I mean. LOOK, for the love of god.”

“Dude, it’s just biological urges. It’s nothing she’s DONE, nothing she’s ACCOMPLISHED. You’re no different from a mudskipper.”

“How’s that bad?”

“Who said it was bad?”

“Something in your voice.”

“It’s just I think she bought them. Go up and ask her what her dad paid for them.”

“Ah, that’s it.”

“It’s still OK, Dude. It’s completely normal that a being would do what he/she can to enhance his/her biological appeal. It only makes sense. Our one shot at true immortality is genetic. That’s why everyone gets in such a lather about their biological clock.”

“How can you — of all people — make that claim? You’re still here.”

“Case in point. I’m HERE because bits of my DNA endured over the millennia — same as you, Dude. The difference is our memories and don’t ask me to explain that. Curse or blessing. I’m never sure. And do NOT bring up that La Brea Tarpits thing one more time.”

“I was just going to say I’m glad I remember that.”

“Just that?”

“No, other stuff, too. Hey, do you think we’re going to get on TV again? It’s been a while since we got a call from our agents.”

“There’s a presidential election going on now. They probably have all the inflammatory absurdity they can handle without us, Dude.”

Seventy Miles an Hour

Zurich wall painting

I think it was April 2014. I was asleep. Suddenly I was awakened, not by any noise, but by the noiselessness that meant the electricity had gone out. I sleep with a white noise machine and a humidifier. I waited. It would either come right back on or… Then it hit. A loud rush down the country road in front of my house, a road that lined up between the mountains and the ocean some 45 miles away, a passage way for wind and storms. A rush then a bang. Never had I heard wind like that. 30 mph. 40 mph. 50 mph. Sure. What was THIS?

I got up and went back to the tedious and consuming job that was my life right then — packing and then getting ready for school. At 6:30 I headed down the mountain to school. Along both sides of the freeway were semi-trucks. The big illuminated sign let everyone know that the winds over the pass were too high for any high profile vehicles. I’d seen that many times before. Fire danger was probably off the charts, too.

“Gusts up to 70mph were recorded overnight on top of Cuyamaca Peak.” My hood. Roofs were blown off barns, barns were blown over, cattle were killed by flying debris and I knew I’d gotten off lucky with the escape of a few roof shingles.

Where I live now, the San Luis Valley, is famous for wind, too, especially in spring. Wind here has the great feature of being “visible.” Vachel Lindsey’s poem, “Who has seen the wind, neither you nor I, but when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by” could be questioned here. In March 2015 I got to see an incredible thing. The wind was blowing from the east, pushing a wall of dust from the newly ploughed fields across the valley toward my town. Dustless wind blowing from the west hit that wall of dust and held it there in a standoff. And here it is.:)

Wind 2015 March MV Adriano

Book Review: Savior

A very beautiful and perceptive review of Savior. Thank you, Lisl!

before the second sleep

Savior by Martha Kennedy

A B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

savior-2-edition-coverSavior is Martha Kennedy’s poignant tale of Rudolf and his brother Conrad, inhabitants of thirteenth-century Zürich and a society immersed in religion and warfare. Rudolf suffers from depression, a condition he is counseled comes from Satan and can be eradicated in a fight to save the world from such sin. A local priest explains that with Jerusalem once more in the hands of the infidel, who “wasted no time in desecrating the holy sites and persecuting Christians living within its walls,” fighting these invaders would help to expiate sin and contribute to his salvation.

Kennedy opens Savior with a quote from St. Augustine that reflects Rudolf’s state of mind—“I bore a shattered and bleeding soul,” it reads in part—and a downpour reflecting the emotion, as if nature herself was as anguished. No amount of service to travelers escaping the downpour, or joy…

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Dear Everybody

MOG 2nd Edition Front

I’m not reading anything anyone writes and I’m barely writing myself. I’m very sorry and I miss all of that. I hope soon I’ll be back to normal (?) but for now I’m in the throes everything I wrote about yesterday. Today I uploaded a second edition of Martin of Gfenn  onto Createspace. It’s the same book with a new cover, but as I hadn’t used Createspace in the first place, and really their system is better than Lulu’s, I had to do it. That meant taking an old version of the manuscript (because the laptop on which it was saved died long ago) and cleaning it up in the most tedious and arcane ways. So, sometime in the not-to-distant future a pretty version of MOG will be for sale at a lower price as well as a vastly improved Kindle version.

All this happened because of major improvements in self-publishing platforms in the past several years AND my deciding to take all this a lot more seriously.

Not a Carefree Summer… Self-Publishing

Free Magic Show

Self-publishing. I first did this in 2009, I think. I put together a book of essays. It was a really nice book of essays with a dedication from someone I honor and respect who loved my writing — for me a huge success. More to me than “publishing a book” was George Reading’s love for my thoughts and way of expressing them. In our lives we meet some people we know have something to teach us and we do kind of “grovel at their feet” to get the lessons. I think the psychic groveling is an important part of being schooled, and George was one of my life’s important teachers, a way-marker, a friend. No one ever bought this book.

I published this little book, Free Magic Show, so I could learn how to self-publish. At that time there were fewer platforms than there are now and I chose Lulu. Lulu was/is easy to use. The mechanical process of getting a manuscript up there is simple and pretty clear. I used them to publish the textbook I used in my Business Communication classes after the book I liked was re-edited and rendered useless.

In working on Free Magic Show, I also checked out Createspace, which is Amazon’s platform. At that time it was cumbersome and demanding. I resented this because I saw it as Amazon’s way to make money out of the myriad people who know they “have a book inside.” Apparently I wasn’t alone, because Amazon has simplified the platform and I used it with The Brothers Path and the second edition of Savior. It’s better than Lulu for one very good reason; you get a bigger percentage of the take when your book sells. Their template also renders a prettier page.

Back in 2010, I used editing services on Lulu early on for Martin of Gfenn. I paid someone $300 to help with the first chapter. I needed help at every level of editing and she was good, encouraging and helped me — and also recommended that I NOT self-publish but pursue conventional publishers. She also happened to be in England which I now know has a very different audience in general than does the US. I took her advice and tried to sell Martin of Gfenn but having attempted that for MOG in the very narrow arena for literary historical fiction before my book was truly ready, he had a leper’s chance, (ha ha) so I ended up self-publishing with Lulu. I expect to put out a second edition in the next few weeks through Createspace and kill the Lulu book. Not sure, though. Many self-publishing authors recommend keeping a book on two platforms.

Both Lulu and Createspace (and every other self-publishing platform) offer a range of editing and marketing services. They are very, very, very expensive for someone like me. I realized at the very beginning that I was going to have to figure out myself how to do a lot of this without help. Luckily, I like designing covers (though I don’t think all of mine are successful or the most marketable). What this means, though, is that going to help pages for some platforms a self-publishing author will find him/herself looking at jargon loaded faux explanations designed to get them to hire someone to do it for them.

Publishing eBooks is another thing and requires a manuscript formatted according to whatever arcane requirements the vendor demands. This is also a place where Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple make money. Formatting for ebooks is laborious and can be very frustrating, especially after one has dealt with the paper book requirements. Again, you can hire someone. I don’t.

Amazon’s Kindle platform might be the most straightforward and easiest to use. They are “happiest” with a word file, that, ideally, will have formatted titles, subtitles, headings, etc. iBooks wants an ePub, and that’s simple enough to translate from word or Pages (which I use). I am now formatting books for Barnes & Noble’s eReader. So far this is the most complex — they want an ePub as well although their system allows a writer to upload from a variety of programs. They also have an editor one can use after the file is uploaded, but it’s proven buggy (for me) and closes both Google Chrome and Firefox.  Nothing about it is really difficult except the language they use. Lulu likes PDFs which they will “convert” to eReaders that look horrible on Kindles… PDFs make ugly text on eReaders.

Why even deal with eReaders? Money. I’ve sold at least 3 times more books on Kindle than as paperbacks.

A writer who has the time and is prepared to muddle through learning the various platforms and software, who’s patient and somewhat indifferent — carefree, even — about how everything turns out can do all this on his/her own. A writer who’s afraid of effing up and impatient with software and mechanics, can easily hire all the help they afford. It’s a trade off — time or money. And, of course, once the book is published people have to know about it so they can buy it.

A Raise

last two MOG letters

When I was teaching, if I got good words from a student (or even a boss, but that was rare as I was a semi-slave and to keep a semi-slave in bondage it’s important not to let them get “uppity” and to make sure they’re grateful to be employed) I called it a “raise.”

Martin of Gfenn got a raise recently and I only learned of it today. It was a real mood-lifter!

Hello Martha,

I truly enjoyed your historical fiction “Martin of Gfenn”.

Since I was born in Switzerland, I was especially interested in your story. My niece lives in the general area of the book. Not too many novels have been written about that time, Switzerland was still in its infancy, barely separated from the Habsburg rule. Zurich joined the Swiss Confederation the first time in 1351, but was expelled and then joined again in 1450. Not too much of this was taught in school.

I felt compelled to send a print book to my brother in Switzerland. He taught latin languages and literature for many years. He just recently retired.

This is what he had to say:

. . . Dir zu danken für das Buch von M. Kennedy, Martin of  Gfenn, das ich vor der Reise nach Andalusien mit grossem Vergnügen gelesen habe. Die Geschichte dieses Martin wird von M. Kennedy grossartig erzählt und die Geschichte an sich ist auch sehr stark. Ich war von diesem Roman begeistert und das kommt nicht alle Tage vor (, obwohl ich nach wie vor viele Bücher lese.)



Thank you for the book, written by M. Kennedy, Martin of Gfenn. I read it during my travels to Andalusien with great enthusiasm and enjoyment. The story of Martin is told by M. Kennedy with spellbinding language. The intensity of the story itself is exceptional. I read it with enthusiasm, which is not often the case these days, even though I’m an avid reader.

I thought you ought to know. Hopefully it will brighten your day.

Thank you for a great read.

The Outer Frail


Lily was fifteen years old when she came to Colorado from Southern California in mid-September, 2014, in a Dodge minivan with her person — the captain — and her two sidekicks, Dusty and Mindy. It was a journey fraught with dangers — like the time when, all by herself, she got out of the mini-van at the rest-stop on the Planet Mars (El Centro). Fortunately the captain of the minivan saw her and jumped out to rescue her from the two friendly but bewildered Martians who were looking at her in puzzlement; “How did a Siberian husky arrive on Mars, alone?”


Lily on Mars (El Centro rest stop), this time with life support

Lily was blind and nearly deaf. Her hips were tired from a lifetime of hikes and hunts. But when she got to Colorado, she found her power-place. Outside the small cabin in South Fork, Lily’s first Colorado home, there was a field with a trail beside the river. Never in her life had Lily experienced such wonderful smells or the coolness of the evening breeze. She woke up the minivan captain every morning at first light to go out and hunt. Some nights Lily smelled bear and coyote on the wind as she licked it with her tongue.


Lily of the Field

After a while, the captain packed everything and they went to their house in a small town. The yard was covered with soft green grass, which felt so much better to Lily than had the hot dirt and foxtails at their old place in California.

Lily spent as much time as she could outside, especially at night, because it was cold and clear. If she’d been able to see, and had the inclination to look up (but being a Siberian husky it wasn’t very likely) she would have seen more stars than she’d seen in her whole life. She liked being part of a pack and Dusty and Mindy were good and loyal pack mates. Then she met another dog named Shoe when the captain’s friend, L, came to visit. Shoe instantly recognized Lily’s advanced age, her frailness and her heroic nature. Lily and Shoe exchanged stories, and they were friends from then on.

Lily Shoe and Mindy


At Christmas time, Lily went to visit the pack in Colorado Springs and had a very happy Christmas with treats, turkey, giblets, a dog door, cool evenings and lots of love. Though there were young dogs in the pack, they recognized Lily’s advanced age — now 16 — her wisdom, humor and frailty and they were considerate and playful at the same time. Lily was happy. One of them, Satchmo, the youngest of all, kept an eye on Lily at all times and one night when Lily got herself stuck under a patio chair (she was blind, remember) Satchmo sent up an alarm and the captain went out and freed Lily. (In the photo below, he is lying with his back against Lily)

Christmas with the pack

Christmas Morning, 2014

Life was uneventful for a month or two until, in February, there was the first real snow of the year. Lily was in Siberian husky Heaven and spent hours walking back and forth in the snow in the yard.


Pulling the Dogsled of Dreams

Then, in March, Lily began having nightmares and she woke up every night screaming and crying. The captain couldn’t comfort her and neither could Dusty who stayed with her all the time. After a while, it was clear to the captain that Lily’s mind and spirit had become frail and that Lily was suffering. They got into the car and this time the captain came home alone. Dusty and Mindy read the story in the scent on the captain’s clothes.

Dusty missed Lily very, very much and so did the captain, but there was no way to bring her back. After a while, the captain began looking for a new dog, a young dog, to keep Dusty company. She found one at the local shelter who looked at her with Lily’s blue eyes. The dog had been born around the same time as Lily died, so the captain thought, “That’s my dog,” and she was right.

The Drives of ’89


In 1989, Montana was 100 years old. The event was marked by a major drive — the Great Montana Centennial Cattle Drive — and I was there. The cattle were driven from Roundup (after they’d been rounded up, I guess) to Billings. There were all kinds of events along with the cattle drive and two of my students, both Swiss, came up from California to join in on some of them — one of them turned out to be Montana Fondue which is bull gonads fried in hot oil on the end of a pitchfork. All of it was a lot of fun and I picked up a horse shoe from the biggest horse I never saw, but the evidence was irrefutable.

There were cowboy poets reciting around campfires. There were men in old-style slickers (sweating underneath?) riding their “ponies,” women in carriages, and me in my then brand new pair of c’boy boots. My Uncle Hank — who’d worked on oil rigs in Oklahoma but who had never been a cowboy — had so much respect for cowboys that he never let his own boys buy boots. “You’re not a cowboy,” he’d told them. “You have no right to those boots.” But he didn’t say anything like that to me about mine. “They suit you,” he said. They turned out to be surprisingly comfortable and I wore them as a fashion choice for years, resoled them three times and had countless new heels put on them.

Of course the Great Centennial Montana Cattle Drive was fraught with drama and almost didn’t come off. It was months long in its planning and a corporation was founded to organize and raise funds for the event. Rules existed regarding the authenticity of equipment, forbidding baseball caps and running shoes and recommending sunscreen and bug spray.

I’m pretty sure that Larry McMurtry’s GREAT novel, Lonesome Dove, had an inspiring influence on the whole thing. It came out in 1985. Everyone I knew in Montana read it and loved it. It was a standing joke in my family (among which there were retired cowboys and farmers) that once in a while a man likes “haul off and kick a pig.” Then the mini-series came out in 1989…

I also got my second (of four so far and that’d better be it) speeding ticket. “I didn’t think Montana had a speed limit,” I said to the officer when he told me I’d been driving 82.

“There’s a thing called good sense,” he replied. I remember looking around and seeing a warm, sunny day, not a car anywhere around, no hazards anywhere, nothing that would influence my good sense. My two students and my ex-husband decided it was just a money-making opportunity for the constabulary.

During that weekend the tiny town of Reed Point, Montana, decided to get in on the action. Its school needed a new roof and being a tiny town, the money wasn’t going to be easy to raise. They held a sheep drive. Lots of people went and stood on the main street. Concessions were situated on the side streets. Mostly it was sheep. Sheep driven by kids on bikes, sheep organized by border collies and Australian shepherds, sheep driven by ATVS, sheep driven by men on horseback — pretty much ever permutation of sheep driving possible at the time. There were sheep wagons — some old and restored, some new — with big signs saying “Norwegian Bachelor Sheep Herder” on the sides, the suspendered sheep-herders were sitting on the backs hooting and hollering at some of the town’s women who came along dressed up as “lady’s of the evening.” The only bad thing about the Reed Point Sheep Drive was that it only lasted five minutes. That was such a let down for people, who really liked it, that they decided to bring it back around a second time. It took a little while to reassemble the sheep, but when they managed it and came back through town, a huge cheer went up. It is really indescribable especially now by me since the main figure in my memory is that it was hilarious good fun and the town made enough money to roof two schools.

It was voted the best one day event of that Labor Day weekend in Montana. Take that, cattle.

This video tells you more than I can about an event that started that late summer day and has been going on every year since.


At the airport as we waited for the plane, I heard a couple of cowboys standing at the big window that looked out toward the Bull Mountains where the Great Montana Centennial Cattle Drive started. One of them said, “You ride in that thing?”

“Hell no. Why would I pay $150 to chase a cow? I can do that any day.”

I had a great time that Labor Day Weekend, and I’ll never part with these boots. They mean something to me and they’re still comfortable but a little fragile at this point. They’ve been resoled so often, that the leather on the outside toe area is thin and could rip easily. I’ve even worn them while riding a horse and not just this one time.




“Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was pretty sure that is a sentence — proclamation! — in “Self-Reliance” but I wanted to be sure so I “Googled” it. What I GOT was a rash of links purporting to explain what it means. The sixth offering was “Self-Reliance” itself.

It reminded me of the last class I taught and since I DON’T want to write about that (predictably), I won’t.

But I could absolutely rely on my students NOT to think about it on their own but to “Google” it. God forbid we get a “wrong” answer or think about it at all.

I’ve been accused of being inconsistent many times in my life. My mom called me “flighty.” I’m tempted to call upon the powers of another Transcendentalist and say something about “different drums” and all that, but having done that (obliquely, predictably) I think of Hopkins who wrote about unpredictability and inconsistency better than anyone. For Hopkins, inconsistency, unpredictability was the mark of the Divine.

“Glory be to God for dappled things,” he said in his poem, “Pied Beauty.” And, by the way, Google gives me the poem five times before it gives me the the “right answer.”:)

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.
Unpredictable? Inconsistent? In my garden are dozens of “volunteer” violas. Most have come up yellow; many dark purple, but the rest? A riot of unpredictability. One of them even has yellow on the bottom and white on the top — but in the white are two tiny dots.
No “self” goes around saying, “I’m so unpredictable, I don’t know what I’m going to do next.” Those terms result from other peoples’ assessments based on whatever set of standards they have. Hopkins had something to say about that, too
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
Not all that unpredictable that I’d share THESE poems or quote THOSE philosophers, though… I’ve done it before, and, I’m sure I will again. You can count on it.

Storms? Here’s a Storm for You…


We drove through the Black Hills — wait, I drove — down the winding roads from Deadwood to Hot Springs. Pitch black night, raging storm, no visibility, mom in the back seat and even Jim, now the Ex, a passionate backseat driver, was quiet. From time to time I’d slide slowly around a hairpin turn and the headlights would hit the glowing eyes of creatures in the trees. Deer? “Stay in the woods,” I said to them speaking the silent language of terrified drivers. Once out of the hills, we’d cross the big expanse of grassland where the buffalo roam. “Good God,” I thought, “stay off the road.” The rain fell in buckets with spats of intermittent hail, and I kept going. We had a motel in Chadron and had to be there by 9 o’clock, but we’d be late. No way to make good time through this. We hoped they’d understand that and save our rooms.

Finally. The storm slowed down and stopped. The road flattened around Hot Springs and I hit the gas. In the distance a couple sheriff’s cars flashed red lights. My California experience said, “Go around them” but when I did, I was chased down.

“What does a red light mean?” asked the sheriff.


“It means stop. You come through the Black Hills?”


“Well slow down. The road is flooded all along here to Chadron.”


The motel in Chadron had given away our rooms, but they were nice enough to phone a motel on the Pine Ridge reservation. We headed back up the road we came, checked in and went to sleep.

When morning came, we went to Chadron. That evening was to be a retirement party for my mom’s best friend’s husband. We stopped in to let them know we had arrived, but didn’t want to get in the way of their preparations. We decided to go to Fort Robinson, where Crazy Horse had been imprisoned. I did not want to drive any more, so Jim took over. All around were the effects of the storm in the shape of dead cattle and sheep, residual grapefruit sized hail. Hell had landed here. The windows of the fort near Crawford, had been broken out and the buildings were closed for the day. The town itself was a disaster area and would be hit again that night while we celebrated our friend’s retirement safe in Chadron away from the action only eight miles away.


Traveling in the Great Plains always brought me back to the pioneer days. The harshness of it, the wildness of it, the danger. Sod fronted houses, dug into hillsides, were the only choice for early settlers and trappers. Through that storm and as a witness to the aftermath, those dugout soddies seemed like the only sane choice.