Sugaring has finished for Spring 2018 and that part of our family has headed back down to Fiji and from there sailing back to Vanuatu (with one going in a whole ‘nother direction). Janis Steele (my sister-in-law) of Island Reach, writes: “Our latest video about the creation of a network of Marine Protected Areas in Southwest Bay. The project was supported with a Rapid Ocean Conservation grant from Waitt Foundation. Congrats to the Senewon association for all their great work!”

JELLYFISH DREAMING top-5 Short-list Novel Prize: Fish Publishing. And a Year (or 2) in Review.

Fish Publishing Logo

JELLYFISH DREAMING made the top-5 for Fish Publishing’s 2016 Young-Adult Novel Prize: Final Short-List

Last Years in Review (2015-2016): JFD got a bit of buzz after Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlett (#33) — out of Small Beer press in Northampton, MA — published the short story version of the same name. Had a fantastic time with that, as editor Michael Deluca set up a reading panel at READERCON summer of 2015 and got us all reviewed in LOCUS  and  SFRevu (see reviews in the sidebar). I had more fun writing up an interview for him for his blog The Mossy Skull while we were in Boston that August. I was super impressed to walk into a Cambridge bookstore and see LCRW populating the shelves. It all left me with a fabulous impression of small presses, though I gather Small Beer Press has a particularly good reputation for supporting their writers. Our dear family friends, Poet Elizabeth Libby and the late, great nature writer Bill Macleish –who took me to my first Science Journalism conference, admonished me to bring a journal on the Whale Road, and played bagpipes at my wedding– were the first to predict (to me at least) that Small Presses were the publishing choice of the future. Bill was impressed by their kindness and attention to writers, as compared to his later experiences with the big presses. We lost Bill Spring of 2015, and the world is an emptier place for it. But his books remain.

Fall of 2015  I was meant to be reading from JFD for Rough Trade out of Nottingham, but my husband broke his leg playing soccer with our daughter’s school team (a step-n-snap moment). He headed in to surgery the day (hour, moment) I’d have been Skyping with Giselle Lieb in Nottingham (who also has a story in that edition of LCRW). Believe me, I considered reading from Tim’s hospital bedside – it was a great apocalyptic setting! But even with computer in lap, it was not to be, as the timing came down to my reading coinciding with the surgeon walking in to explain what a plateau fracture of the tibia meant (imagine a shattered stick being held together by 9 woodscrews and long metal strapping).  I had to get my priorities straight. I was sad to miss it, but Giselle said they had a great reading, and Tim had a looong recovery of 8+ weeks of no weight bearing whatsoever, and lots of PT after. (2015-2016 had a lot of disasters and losses. Some among family and friends, at at least one orange-colored that we can almost all relate to- worldwide.)

A month to the day later (I was sitting by my dad’s hospital bed this time), I got an email from Clem Cairns at Fish Publishing saying the full JFD mss made the top ten finalist list! (Not that this balanced out what you were going through, Pop, but it was a welcome ‘up’ moment.) He wrote:

“Yo Deb. Great to see your name come up. Delighted for you. It is a sizzling story, bristling with imagination and verve. Splendid. Good luck with all of the sick folk.”

Then, Spring of 2016, JFD moved up for final consideration among the top 5 being considered for publication by Fish (I believe out of Cork University Press?). Sadly, there could be only one. But it was delightful to get that far with this quirky mss.

Next step? I’m turning JFD into a Graphic Novel with amazingly fast and furious illustrator Mike Bukowick!  Mike Bukowick caricature copy

I believe this collaboration is turning an unusual story that has gotten lots of attention into something even more unusual and compelling (and hopefully publishable).

Oh! And another thing I’m pleased to brag about, is JFD’s Prequel, ICE, which won first place for a Speculative Literature Foundation Grant the year previously, now also has a short-story version that I’m shopping around, and that Mike is illustrating!

With luck and time, we plan to turn both books into graphic novels and add a third. The luck, of course, is necessary for carving out the time.  May all losses and disasters cease and desist for the foreseeable future….(yeah, right). If nothing else, it’s going to be a nerve-wracking next 4 years, ’cause we sure do live in interesting times. Let’s hope the upcoming post inaugural Women’s March in Washington, and the one Tim an the girls and I are attending in Boston, are as peaceful as they are meant to be. As another, much smaller, Tim said (and I misquote): Heaven help us, Everyone. We’re gonna need it.

Deb Caricature copy


That was good news in a hard year. JELLYFISH DREAMING (JFD) had made first runner up in the past with the Speculative Literature Foundation, and had gotten much kind support from the grant administrators and judges. ICE is the prologue to JFD, which is currently being turned into a graphic novel with illustrator MIKE BUKOWICK. Though ICE will likely come after JFD sequentially. Stay Tuned for the third (or first story, depending on the timeline): THE GREAT WAVE unless I write the last (PLASTIC EATERS) first. I like flipping around in time evidently.

The Editor Interviewed: Michael J. DeLuca on LCRW #33

Weightless Books

LCRW Guest Editor Interview: Michael J. DeLuca

lady-churchills-rosebud-wristlet-no-33-coverAndrea Pawley interviews Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet guest editor Michael J. DeLuca:

Q: The theme of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet Issue 33 is humanity’s relationship with the earth. When you became the issue’s guest editor, did you anticipate you’d get story submissions from the likes of Sofia Samatar and Carmen Maria Machado?

DeLuca: As a matter of fact, I asked them specifically! Along with a handful of others, though those are the only two I solicited whose work appears in the issue. Which is a bit of a cheat, I admit. One of the reasons I love LCRWis how it has been a showcase for new writers. But I felt an imperative to hedge my bets a little, given that it’s a theme issue, and I am not a known brilliant editor like Gavin and Kelly.

Q: LCRW 33 is filled with female perspectives and a strong undercurrent of feminism. What connections do you see between the two and the future in the age of the anthropocene?

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Arms Library Copper Top includes LCRW #33 & “Jellyfish Dreaming” in Time Capsule

Arms Library Librarian Laurie Wheeler, of Shelburne Falls included “Jellyfish Dreaming” (short story version) from Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #33 on slipstream writing on the “theme of humanity’s relationship with the earth” in the time capsule hidden in the new Copper Top. So our speculative fiction will be heading into the future after all! See the story below from the Greenfield Recorder Sept. 17th, 2015.

Copper Topper: Dome raised at Arms Library, by DIANE BRONCACCIO, Recorder Staff, Thursday, September 17, 2015

SHELBURNE FALLS — Sitting on the sidewalk, the new copper dome that is now part of the Arms Library roof sparkled like a crown in the early morning sunlight. And by 8:30 a.m. Thursday, the library’s coronation was complete.

Titan Roofing of Springfield, the company doing the work, hoisted the 300-pound, eight-foot diameter dome with a crane, while bystanders along Bridge Street clapped and cheered. Shelburne Falls songwriter Sarah Pirtle had written a song for the occasion, and she and Edwin Sause serenaded the library and spectators with Native American flute music as the dome rose through the air.

Fundraising for the roof and other repairs to the Pratt Memorial Library Building, which houses the Arms Library, began in 2012, after cracks and leaks were discovered in both the roof and the foundation of the building, which was damaged during Tropical Storm Irene.

The roof project alone was estimated to cost about $405,000. The copper dome is a replica of the original copper dome of that was part of the 101-year-old library building. The library has raised at least $670,000 so far for the building’s renovation. After the roof is finished, Phase 2 of the restoration will include repair of interior damage, preservation of the library’s murals and marble floor, electrical upgrades, window insulation and repair, and air-conditioning. Fundraising for Phase 2 renovations is still in progress.

Besides the dazzling copper dome, the roof now holds a time capsule of village life in 2015. Continue reading

JELLYFISH DREAMING: Publication LCRW #33; ReaderCon; & Interview in The Mossy Skull

Interview with Michael J. DeLuca in THE MOSSY SKULL:

The LCRW 33 Interviews: D. K. McCutchen: Star Stuff & Worm Meat

Artwork by Tim Paulson 2015

Artwork by Tim Paulson 2015


I’ll be reading, along with several other writers from this issue, from the short story version of JELLYFISH DREAMING on Friday July 10th at 4pm at READERCON in Burlington, MA, at the Boston Marriott

The Immortal Jellyfish

The Immortal Jellyfish

JELLFISH was accepted by guest editor Michael DeLuca for publication July 15th, 2015  in LCRW No. 33 (there is a reading schedule linked to the editors name, above, and also some thoughts on his editing process).

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 33

Vanuatu mission takes on new course

Vanuatu mission takes on new course

From left: Connor, Gavin and Rowan with their parents Janis Steele and Brooks McCutchen aboard the research vessel Llyr during a previous marine exploration trip in the Pacific. Submitted photo.

From left: Connor, Gavin and Rowan with their parents Janis Steele and Brooks McCutchen aboard the research vessel Llyr during a previous marine exploration trip in the Pacific. Submitted photo.

By DIANE BRONCACCIO, Greenfield Recorder Staff, Sunday, March 22, 2015

HEATH — The snowy, ice-covered hilltops of the Berkshire Sweet Gold Maple Farm seem worlds away from the 83 tropical islands of Vanuatu. But Brooks McCutchen, Janis Steele and their three sons are preparing to leave Heath after maple sugaring season for the hurricane-damaged island nation.

From the Republic of Fiji, they will sail on their research vessel Llyr for the roughly five-day journey to the South Pacific islands, where central lush forests and subsistence gardens were scrubbed bare by the 185-mph winds of Cyclone Pam, a Level-5 hurricane that struck on March 13.

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Vanuatu after PAM

Vanuatu after PAM

Vanuatu is reeling from massive Cyclone Pam, a Category V storm with sustained winds of 170mph gusting to 220mph, massive storm surges and flooding, and phenomenal seas. Immediate emergency relief is underway. With 80% of the population engaged in subsistence harvesting, the risk to both immediate and long range food-security will greatly compound Pam’s initial devastation.

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MISSION BLUE SYLVIA EARL ALLIANCE posted their partnership with Berkshire Sweet Gold & Island Reach and R.V. Llyr!!


Has partnered with my family’s outreach conservation project ISLAND REACH

R.V. Llyr

R.V. Llyr


To raise funds for Island Reach to continue providing R.V. Llyr and her crew, in support of the Vanua-tai in their crucial role conserving their reefs in the Coral Sea.

The Indiegogo campaign: A VESSEL FOR THE VANUA-TAI has videos and a platform for accepting donations. To date, Island Reach has funded its project with its own farm produce and labor, with the crew returning to New England every fall and winter to produce Maple Sugar, and then sailing in the South Pacific summers using the R.V. Llyr as a support platform for farmers and fishers in Vanuatu. They provide donated Aqualung snorkles and masks to help the Vanua-tai conservation group teach and practice reef conservation, Crown of Thorns removal, and many other projects supporting the initiative of the island archipelago’s own conservation groups.

The girls of Sangalai, Meskalyne Islands

The girls of Sangalai, Meskalyne Islands

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