Links for the End of the Year

Winter is coming. Really, the equinox is on the 21st. So are you all settled in with your reading? No?

Well, let me recommend the latest issue of Fantasy Scroll Magazine. Yes, Issue 4 is now out, completing the first year of this publication. Weeee! Lots of great stories here, plus interviews and reviews, as well. Also, be sure to read the Introduction, which details great new things to come. Like what, you ask? We-ell, like a bi-montly format, a podcast, and more. (eh-hem) And consider that subscriptions make great gifts. As a slush reader there, I’m just saying. :-)

Let me again sound off about Quarter Reads. They’ve updated their policy, letting you put down just $5 to try the stories, instead of the initial $10 minimum. They’ve added more authors, more stories, and more genre and subject tags to browse stories by. Give ‘em a try.

Another reading favorite: Lightspeed Magazine’s recent release of FANTASY: Women Destroy Fantasy! Great fiction, great non-fiction, and amazing artwork, all guest edited by the amazing Cat Rambo.

Finally, I’ve been listening to podcasts from Beneath Ceaseless Skies’ Audio Vault, and haven’t found a bad one yet. They’re great for commuting, for holiday travel in crowded airports or trains, or just for plopping in earbuds and tuning out the holiday madness for a few moments of spec-fic bliss. Give them a listen!

There, now you’re set for reading materials. Winter may commence. Just, um, don’t let it freeze my Meyer lemons before they ripen. They’re getting so close, and I really want my very first harvest of 2 fruits!


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A Long-Overdue Winter Update

Fall has nearly slipped away, and winter is creeping in. Even here, frost limns the grasses many too-chilly mornings. Tropical plants need “frost cloth” laid over them to protect against the cold. I’m glad I have only 2 sensitive plants to coddle this way. (I am a lazy gardener in this respect. Even in Ohio, I didn’t like to swaddle roses, etc, in winter protections. A bit of mulched leaves? Sure. But no more than that. Live or die, baby–it’s a tough garden I run.)

The farmers’ markets, so paltry in summer’s unrelenting heat and humidity, are stocked full to bursting with greens, carrots, turnips, hardier seedling plants (for the same types of plants), and oddities (to me) like boiled green peanuts, turmeric root, and citrus.

Yes, citrus. oh yum! We purchased an 1/8th bushel of oranges and juiced some yesterday. Oh my! This is what OJ should really taste like!

I was spoiled as a child. I visited my snowbird grandma at Christmas time, right as the citrus was coming to harvest. We’d drive to the grove and buy fresh oranges, packing the car full on the return trip to Ohio. Later, my aunt bought a trailer in Florida that held a number of mature citrus trees. There were too many to eat, so we squoze (yes, this is what we called it, because, well, we are a weird family) LOTS of oranges and tangerines into delicious juice. Because of that, I’ve never been a fan of purchased OJ. It tastes off, somehow. Always has. The newest “not from concentrate” varieties are much better, but still, something is…lacking.

So  now my tastebuds are in citrus heaven again. Ah! So nice.

We made cookies over the weekend, as well. I have to admit that making holiday cookies on a sunny, blue-sky day of 68 degrees isn’t what I’m used to, but I rather like it. I also like walking in the afternoons, when the shining sun is so warm that short sleeves are the clothing of choice (instead of woolen sweaters).

Dasher the puppy is also a fan of sunbeams, as you might expect from a boxer-mix. His favorite afternoon napping spot is out in the lanai, on a rug directly in the sunbeam’s longest path. Lucky dog.

Speaking of naps, Dash has settled into them, giving me time to write consistently once more. Which is a good thing. The novel is very nearly done, and a couple short stories are bugging me to write them as soon as it is. And of course, there are books and stories to be read–in a sunbeam, by the dozing pup, as the warmth soaks into my bones and brings the nap-fuzzies…No! I will write during writing time. I will! But a sleeping dog is such a calming thing. //goes off into a warm-fuzzy-dog glow//

And so it goes. Writing. Reading. Walking a dog (hurray!). Friends and family. Cooking. Small joys that add up to a good life. All things to be grateful for, to be glad about during the season of thankfulness and gratitude.

I wish you many of the same.

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

New Joy in the House

We weren’t going to adopt a new dog until after the holidays. We were looking specifically for an older female, small-to-medium in size, who would not completely disrupt my writing, but would help get me out and walking every day again.

And then Dasher happened. IMG_0416

He was at the Petsmart, where we were looking at the other adoptables, figuring it would take a long while to find “the perfect dog” for us. But he took one look up at us, and we knew. Spousal unit and I both fell in love with him immediately. And Dash, well, he loves everyone.

IMG_0424Yes, Dash is young–about 9 months. And Dash is a male. Dash is small, though. And as a boxer/Boston terrier mix, he couldn’t help but melt our hearts (we’ve had and loved boxers before, but didn’t want such a large, energetic dog now that we don’t have a fenced yard). Energy he has in spades. We have to take his toys away before he’ll pause to eat! So much for meeting expectations. But he’s wonderful, and 2 days later, we’re still so glad we found him.

Just, um, wish me luck finishing the novel on time. I’m going to be more than usually distracted :-)

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life | 6 Comments

Publication News, and Upcoming Quiet

First, let me start off with the news that my story, Amma’s Wishes, has been published! It’s in MZB’s Sword & Sorceress 29, which is now available as a paperback or ebook at Amazon, or as an ebook from the Kindle and Nook stores.

ss 29 cover 600x900This is a story about Amma, that oft-overlooked figure in so many D&D games, the “tavern serving wench.” It’s her quest to get the respect she deserves from the adventurers coming through the inn’s doors each evening. Her sidekicks are a washed-up nerdy mage and a genie from a bottle. It was a whole lot of fun to write, and if you read it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I still do!

In other news, you may have noticed a whole lot of quiet from me lately. And you may notice it in the future, as well. I’m not actively ignoring any of you, I promise. There is a health crisis in my family, and all my spare energy has fled in that direction. Good wishes and thoughts are appreciated, in whatever flavor or stripe. Thanks, and stay well.

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World Fantasy Con 2014

I am recovered at last (more or less) from my journey to the World Fantasy Con in Arlington, Virginia and ready to tell you all about it. So settle in with your tea.

Hubby and I arrived on Thursday afternoon. He planned to do the DC tourist thing, while I spent my time socializing and attending events. I met up with my VP 17 tribe, and met in person some of the people I see on the Codex online group. Also, I attended a gathering of the people who took Mary Robinette Kowal’s classes, and met IRL some of those who where in my class last year. It was so amazing to see these all people in the flesh instead of in a tiny still photo or a webcam image on your screen. And to have conversations with them in real time.

I went to a few panels each day, as well as attending the opening ceremonies, ice cream social, and part of the awards ceremony (had to leave to catch my flight home). Let me tell you, there are some amazing people in the spec fic field, and listening to them debate and ponder and discuss topics is lots of fun. And sometimes very educational. Also, these people are nice. Really nice. Toastmaster Mary Robinette Kowal is so pleasant and easy to speak with. GoH Chelsea Yarbro Quinn has the most amazing, high-wattage smile–it seemed to light up the area around her. SFWA president Steven Gould is very down-to-earth and congenial. I could go on and on, naming those you’ve heard of as well as those that perhaps you haven’t, but you get the picture. It was a whole lot of fun.

So this was a very different WFC for me in two ways: 1) spouse accompaniment, and 2) I know folks to socialize with! This latter bit was the most awesome thing (not that spouse isn’t awesome, but he already knows that–that’s why he’s “spouse,” of course!). I’ve been to two WFC previously (Toronto and Columbus, OH), and this was my favorite simply by virtue of knowing people there.

OK, that might sound simplistic, but really it only reiterates something I’ve thought all along, something that is difficult for some and easy for others. That is that your “tribe” or the social community of writers that you belong to can make all the difference. They can  support you when times are tough, cheer with you when things are great, offer advice and knowledge. And you help them, too. It’s a two-way street. Go read this blog post (I’ve linked to it before) by Kameron Hurley. If you don’t have time for that, just read this small bit:

“One of the most powerful things I ever did for my career, and my continued sanity, was to get to know other writers facing the same challenges. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook, supplemented with the occasional convention, have connected me with incredible people willing to share their own fraught publishing journeys. What stunned me more than anything else is how each of us thought our experiences were entirely unique, when it turned out we shared many of the same fears and frustrations.

“What will keep me writing far longer than I expected is not, necessarily, my passion, my talent, or the romantic story of how stringing together words will help me transcend the mortal plane. No, the deeper I get into the publishing game, the more I realize that what will keep me going when everything crumbles around me is the incredible support, advice, and commiseration I’ve gotten from other writers.”

So, my takeaway from WFC is that if you are a writer, hie thee to a writing community–in person, online, both–whatever works for you. Find somewhere and some people with whom you feel comfortable and wiggle down into the muck. Make yourself a home. You’ll never regret it.

Posted in Travel, World Fantasy Con, Writing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

A Miscellany of Topics, Wrapped into One Post

So much to share, so little time (before travel for WFC, that is!).  =-)

photo 5

Sign from the front of our neighborhood.

Let’s get started. This Halloween was our first in our new home. We were told that the community here is rather Halloween-crazy, and that, because of logistics and such, lots of the folk who live in the sparsely-populated countryside flock to our neighborhood with their kids to trick-or-treat. So much that they have cops directing people to park up front, and not allowing cars on the streets.

It’s all true. And it was awesome! In just under two hours, we gave out over 600 pieces of candy (don’t know exactly how many, since we ate some early, then bought more to make up the difference…it may well have been more than this). There were lines of kids coming up to our porch at times. And yet, it was all very polite and friendly. From tiny tots to teens, most of the kids said “Thanks,” or even “Happy Halloween!” The costumes were amazing. And our neighbors, wow! Some of them went all out on decorating. It made me feel like a slacker with a only couple strands of lights, a spider web, and a pumpkin.

Shortly before Halloween, our friend came to visit. We wanted to show him the alligators at Payne’s Prairie, but the La Chua trail was closed for some work. We went to a different trail, one we hadn’t walked yet. And lo and behold, coming towards us on the dike-trail, is a small herd of wild horses. I mean, really, how often do you get to see this? I was agog.

Moving off into the swampy bits.

Moving off into the swampy bits.

Lead stallion still on the trail.

Lead stallion still on the trail.

This is how close they were!

This is how close they were!

The horses were being pushed by a park ranger in a golf cart as she tried to get them off the trail (they’d come up on the trail and trapped other visitors out at the end, which is why the rangers had been called out–thanks to the glory of cell phones), but they weren’t budging, only walking along the trail towards us. The lead stallion stared at us, wary and defiant. And simply gorgeous. Whoever says, “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away” had it all wrong–they didn’t have to do any dragging. I was ready to willingly follow them anywhere, they were so beautiful. (Yes, my inner 12-year old is still alive and well, thank you!) Eventually, they moved aside, caught between the ranger and us, and the ranger chatted with us a bit before moving on, leaving us to appreciate the horses a bit longer before turning back.

OK, now for the writers out there: Are you looking for some cool prompts? Maybe a daily one? Check out The Daily Imaginator. It’s a part of The Brainery Writing Workshops, and I’ve been pleased with most of the prompts I’ve seen there. They really get the brain creaking into motion and then humming along with delight as it ponders and pokes at the prompts. (I haven’t tried the workshops yet, but they look interesting. If you try them, let me know what you think.)

OK, that’s about it for now. As November descends on us, darkness increases. Winter’s coming (at least in the northern hemisphere). Think warm.

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Halloween HabitRPG Fun!

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 12.34.02 PMHabit RPG “is a website that treats your life like a video game!” You create an avatar (and can change it constantly–such fun!) and choose a character class. Then, you enter tasks, to-do’s and habits, and you gain experience points for completing those things. Partnering with others, you can go “adventuring” to stop/kill bosses for extra items, including eggs that you can hatch into pets, and raise into mounts. Yes, it’s somewhat addictive, but in a good way, since it really pushes some of us to get our sh*t done. To not procrastinate.

What has this got to do with Halloween? Well, they’re running a “dress as your avatar” contest. Above is my avatar. With her pet octothulu. And here is me dressed like my avatar:

galena2 galena1

I learned that crowns are hard to make, and harder to wear! That trying to make my head look big and my body tiny is really, really hard. That purple without really good lighting is tough to see as anything other than black. And that feeling like an utter idiot is lots of fun, especially with an octothulu by your side.

Happy Halloween!

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A New Way to Read Stories

There’s a new “experiment” going on in publishing. A site called Quarter Reads lets authors upload very short stories (500-2,000 words), and, after a quick preview of a few sentences, lets readers access the whole thing for 25 cents per story.

There is no “editor” per se, no gatekeeper compiling a “magazine,” and thus no initial payment for the writer. But the writer gets 88% of each quarter read, and 100% of any tips dumped into the tip jar by a reader who really like a story. The writing can be of any genre, and search fields can narrow a reader’s options by genre, author, hottest read, latest uploaded, etc.

I think this sounds like a great idea, and I’ve got stories in the queue waiting to be uploaded. There are some great stories already there, and some wonderful writers contributing to the site. I suggest you pop on over and give it a try–read something. Drop in a tip, if you really liked something. Directly support writing, and writers. How awesome is that? I’d be interested in knowing what you think of the site.

Posted in publication, Reading, signal boosting, Writing | Tagged , | 7 Comments