Catching Up is Hard to Do

I was gone for the past two weeks, up north in New Jersey where I got to visit the burgeoning autumn weather. You’d better believe that fresh, tart Winesap apples were stowed into my carry-on for the trip home. When I pulled out the sacred bag of Apple, Spousal Unit dove into one right there at the airport, while we waited for luggage to arrive on the carousel. Mmmm, the things you miss when you move…

Visiting fall was wonderful. Apples in season (I made two apple pies!), fall foliage turning lovely, cool nights that brought out blankets and closed windows (one night dipped to 38F), and recipes that matched the season–braised root veggies with chicken, mushroom risotto, currywurst. Bracing winds one day, lovely weather the rest of the time. Even though I was kept busy, I really enjoyed my time on the Shore.

But this weekend brought another kind of fun: the Gainesville Orchid Society’s Orchid Show at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens! I only joined GOS after last year’s show, and am happy to admit I’m a rank novice and total beginner at this “orchid thing.” But it’s a lot of fun, and I’m learning so much about an amazingly diverse group of plants. And the show was amazing. So many types of orchids on display, and more for sale from various vendors. I couldn’t pass up one particular plant–Bratonia Shelob ‘Tolkien.’ I mean, really, could I consider myself a fantasy writer if I didn’t buy one of those?!? Here’s a link to what it will look like should I get it to bloom. (Some report it has a slight fragrance, too–extra bonus!) Just now, mine is a tiny bit of green–healthy, but nowhere near sending up a bloom spike. Cross your fingers that this little spider orchid will grow and bloom wonderfully for me.

But it’s time to dive back into writing. I’m looking forward to it, especially since the dog seems to have gotten over his “stick to her like a burr to flannel” phase. I’m behind on where I expected to be at this time, but life happens–as it should–and I’m okay rolling with the flow. Good writing is ahead of me. I can feel it. Like fall, it’s in the air.

Now I’m off to eat a persimmon. You know what they say–whether in NJ or in Florida, eat your local seasons. Happy fall.

Posted in food, Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Personal Life | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Because We’re All Readers First, Right?

I love reading. If you’re reading this blog, chances are good you do, too.

So I’m excited to link to a new place to check out for your short fiction fixes. Curious Fictions is an online venture meant to help readers connect with previously published short fiction you might have missed. It’s a place to meet your next “favorite writer,” and maybe your next “favorite magazine.” At Curious Fictions, you’ll be able to sample magazine offerings, and find the writers they publish. Then you can go subscribe to those magazines you love–those you’ve previously hesitated to pay for, not knowing if you’d like them or not.

(Need some suggestions to get started? How about reading Sylvia Spruck Wrigley? Or Wendy Nikel? Or perhaps Effie Seiberg‘s story, Dinkley’s Ice Cream–I love that one!)

Curious Fictions is a work in progress. It’s new, and the person behind it is still tweaking the format, the page, the functions. New work is always arriving, and new readers–well, of course new readers are always welcome.

Some of my work is there, of course. But I encourage you to not read my stories (or, not just mine), but to try out some of the others. There are tons of great writers you haven’t read yet. Give one a try over at Curious Fictions, won’t you? And tell your friends. Writers need readers.

Posted in publication, Reading, What I'm Reading | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

More About “3rd and Starlight”

Our intrepid editor, Dr Robert B Finegold, just gave us the A-OK to continue with the goodies about the forthcoming “3rd & Starlight” anthology, and gave us links to his Facebook page with his official announcement. So, without further ado, here is my update.

Now, at long last, I can let the cat out of the bag. I can squee loudly and long–not only that gorgeous cover, but now, interior illustrations! And the example given is from my very own offering, Amma’s Wishes! I am gobsmacked. Astounded. And very, very pleased.






Also, the interior graphic design promises to be just as lovely. Here’s an image, and a quote direct from the boss’s mouth:

“…and what a beautiful volume it will be!

Drop caps for the start of each story, special characters for section breaks (“rocket” for science fiction and “starlight” – of course – for fantasy)… Here’s just a peek from the Introduction.

…AND (*fanfare*), each story is ILLUSTRATED by the multi-talented M. Elizabeth Ticknor! 🙂

All the preceding enhancements will be present in BOTH the ebook and the print editions. Our ebook is not treated as a poor second in the care placed in its beauty of its design. Our CInderella will truly be the belle of the ball.

And there is still more to come!”

That last line, did you catch it? Yes, there will be more  (very good) news to come. Stay tuned! I can’t wait to share it with you.

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Post-Irma Update

We are fine. Dasher is fine. Our property is fine. Heck, we even have power back again! I am weak with relief, and already beginning to put things back to rights.

Thanks for all your good wishes. And sending out warm hugs to those whose experience with Irma was less “pleasant” than ours.

Posted in Nature, Personal Life | Tagged | 3 Comments

An Unwelcome Visitor

I’ll be more than usually quiet here for awhile. Hurricane Irma is expected to make a beeline up the Florida peninsula, and even the north central area will get a “friendly visit.” We’ve been busy preparing for our first major hurricane by doing the usual things (cleaning up outside; moving lawn furniture to safety; stocking up on water, gasoline, matches, LP gas, and non-perishable foods; keeping in touch with family, neighbors, & friends; preparing important stuff for emergency evacuation if necessary), and the unusual–checking ALL the screws on our metal roof, replacing the ones that aren’t grabbing, and then caulking around the remaining unanchored screw heads.

It’s a lot of work, and tedious. Can’t be up there past 10 am if it’s sunny, and can’t go up until morning dew or rain showers dry off the metal. And of course, it’s senseless to be up there past dark. So it’s been slow going. So slow. Painfully slow. Did I mention it rained yesterday? I was up all of 20 minutes before the showers ran me off.

Preparing for the solar panels showed us how loose our roof was–but we didn’t panic. We thought we’d have plenty of time to deal with the rest of the roof later. Then Irma came a-knocking, and now…having just finished up this morning…my back is aching, but darn it! That roof is gonna stay put! (Yay for new life skill?)

Anyhow, no one here is expecting it to be nearly as bad for us (inland as we are) as it will be on the coasts–which is why we’re staying put. Let’s hope I’m right. Regardless, though, we’ll likely lose power for some time, no knowing how long. I’ll post here once things calm down and power is back on. But really, don’t fret too much for us. If you’re really looking for some folks to fret over, try those who got nailed first–over on Barbuda and St. Martin. (I’ve been to St Martin, and it was a great place, full of great local people.) If you’re really feeling the need to help me out, try donating to help them. It’s what I’ll be doing, and I’d really like to be able to do more.

Ciao for now. Stay safe out there, everyone.

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

Announcement and Cover Reveal

I’m part of a group of writers who were all Finalists or Semi-Finalists in the Writers of the Future contest. For the past couple of years, one member has volunteered to edit an anthology of members’ work. This year, Robert B. Finegold has turned up the volume a notch (IMO), and I am truly, truly pleased to show you the beginnings of his hard work:

Cover art by Lou Harper
Coming this 2017 holiday season


An anthology of 14 tales of wonder by award winning authors, finalists, and semi-finalists (e.g. Writers of the Future, Hugo, Cambell, Aurealis, and others). This year’s collection of science fiction and fantasy stories from these impressive new talents:

Introduction: Back and Foreword———– Robert B. Finegold, MD
The Memory of Huckleberries ————— Rebecca Birch
The Temptation of Father Francis ———- Nick T. Chan and Jennifer Campbell-Hicks
The Waiting Room —————————- Philip Brian Hall
Last Time For Everything ——————– K. L. Schwengel
Skinners —————————————- Rachelle Harp
Amma’s Wishes ——————————- M. E. Garber
Three Flash ———————————— Dustin Adams
A Green Tongue —————————— Frank Dutkiewicz
A Matter For Interpretation —————– M. Elizabeth Ticknor
The Root Bridges of Haemae ————— Sean Monaghan
Red is the Color of My True Love’s Hair — William Wood
Bad Actors ————————————- Julie Frost
In the Heart of the Flesh ——————– Scott Parkin
Shattered Vessels —————————– Kary English and Robert B.Finegold, MD

My story within the anthology, Amma’s Wishes, you may recognize as my reprint from Sword & Sorceress a couple years ago. If you haven’t read it yet, you can read it in this fine company, and I encourage you to do so. I’ll talk more about his later, but let me just say that if you’re writing for WOTF, this (and the earlier volumes) might well be something to read for comparison’s sake. Just now, I’m too excited!

I’ve been keeping this one under my hat for awhile, and it’s been kind of tough, having seen the mock-ups and early layout for the covers, etc. But it’s getting closer, and the official reveal has just happened…now, for the wait. (bounces eagerly) So pretty! So lovely! It’ll make a great holiday gift, won’t it? So pretty! So lovely! Just, um, if you’re on my gift buying list, pretend you didn’t read that last bit, okay?

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Rooftop Madness

So, solar is coming. Yup. Honest, it is.

But before the panels can be installed, we need to prep our metal roof by tightening all the exposed-seam screws, and replacing those that are stripped, and using a special 50-year pliable caulk. Because once those panels are up, we won’t be able to tighten those screws ever again (our roof had a few…um, issues during installation, it seems). And if a screw wriggles loose, water seeps in under the metal, and then…bad things happen.

Husband and I have been dodging rainy days, morning dew, and mid-day heat when we can, climbing onto the roof, and testing/removing/replacing all the screws used on the portions that will get solar panels. It’s pretty time-intensive work, though not too physically demanding. Wet or dew-coated metal roofs are like Slip-N-Slides, just not as fun once you hit the edge and fall off the roof. The heat up there is extreme, and all radiating back up at you. By 10:15 or so, I can no longer touch the metal roof with my bare hand. It’s just burning hot. And we can’t get up there before 8:00-8:30 if there’s been any kind of dew, and not at all if it rained…. So. Yeah. This is taking longer than expected. We have one last section to proof. It’s a smaller section, so we’re hoping it’ll go fast once we can get to it. But this is known as the rainy season for a reason, ya know…

In other garden news: the pineapples are growing nicely, with the one that used to be a bit too shaded by the laurel oaks now glorying in its full sun, and putting on size much more quickly. Inside the lanai, my small potted coffee tree bloomed earlier, and now it boasts about 6 small, green coffee beans–or what I think are coffee beans–where a few flowers had been. Now I’m wondering: how much coffee comes from 6 beans? Wait, I don’t even like coffee! At least the spousal unit does. He’ll have the most premium thimbleful ever if I can get them to ripen.

Over the weekend I took the dog out to do some business around 10pm and found a hummingbird moth going absolutely crazy on the 4-o’clock right beside the “business area.” It completely ignored us (clue #2 that it wasn’t an actual hummingbird, the first being — it was totally dark!). I called spousal unit out to watch. You could see it’s long tongue glisten in the alley light as it slurped up the nectar-y goodness from flower after flower. It’s antennae were hard to see between the poor lighting and the little creatures unceasing motion and speed, but once in a while, I did (clue #3, since yeah, actual hummingbirds don’t have antennae!). There was no way to get a photo of this, sorry. But the link above will show you what they look like. Here’s more information.

Rustic Spots aug2017

Finally, here’s a picture of my lovely Brassolaeliocattleya (Blc) “Rustic Spots” in bloom. Notice that lovely ribbon attached? *blush* I joined the local orchid club last November, and last night took this delicate beauty in for the monthly bloom table–where it won first place in the cattleya category! I’m a complete noob at this orchid stuff, and this was the first time I’d taken in an orchid, so this was a wonderful, wonderful surprise! From impostor syndrome to squee in 4.5 seconds. (Well, okay, I still have impostor syndrome. But the squee was real enough. That’s why I’m sharing it here!)

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

Novel Thoughts

I’ve begun work on another novel, working titled Unspoken. This is a secondary world fantasy novel that has involved a fair share of behind-the-scenes world building, which I’ve enjoyed a lot. It also gave me an opportunity to create two entirely new species, one predator and one prey, which, OMG is just fascinating. Talk about your research rabbit holes! I could research critters’ biology and habits until the cows come home, until the power grid goes down, until…well, you get the point. I kinda likes that sort of thing. 😉

My process for this novel has changed from the previous ones, and those changed from the process I used before that. Basically, I’m moving from “pure pantster” to “whole lotta plotter.” This is not something I’d anticipated doing when I started writing seriously. It’s happened organically, and I’m happy with the changes so far, so… *shrugs.* Live and let live, right? Which also means to be willing to try something new if your old way just isn’t working for you anymore.

Unspoken has gone through three full levels of outlining–or outline editing, as I prefer to think of it. I’m thinking of each like a mini-draft of the novel itself, which let me get over the “just outlining” negativity. The first pass was simply taking the bits and bobs of story and imposing an order on them, then filling in the blanks. This was comparatively easy, as it’s how I started adding structure when I found pantsing wasn’t doing it for me. It’s fun. I saw the shape taking form, and it was thrilling (this was the only step I took for book one of Jess, btw).

The second editing level came next. I let the ideas simmer a week, then went back to the rough outline with a “Yes, But/No, And” checklist. The idea here is that every scene should have a protagonist with a goal, and for every scene I should ask “Did the goal get met?” The answer, of course, should never be “Yes” until the very end. It could be, “Yes, BUT…” and then something worse than the present situation came about. The answer could be “No, AND…” so that something worse came about. But always, things get worse, get more complicated, etc–even when some small victory is achieved, there is a setback.

That process drew my attention to where the story was fuzzy in my mind. Where the protagonist wasn’t fully on my mind, just the “really cool world building” or “here I’ll show how tough the desert is” and that kind of thing. Then came another cooling off period, a plot-breaking with others to see what was/wasn’t working, and my final round of editing: the scene/sequel process.

I found this bit at the old Jim Butcher LJ (scene bit here, and sequel bit here), and he’s carried the links to his new site, so honest, go read them! His “Scene” reiterates the “Yes, But/No, And” process, so for me, “Sequel” held the gold. I’ve always muddied my reactions, dallying too long around the emotions, etc. And even after the second edit of the outline, going through Unspoken scene by scene really let me zero in on the places where I was still dallying too long, or too unsure of what I was saying, or why. It was a frustrating process, but one that showed me–quite clearly and plainly–my own writing weaknesses.

And now I can’t imagine having written off that first draft of the outline! Nor do I want to imagine the process of trial and error to get three full written drafts to structural state this first draft will be–my mind simply boggles at the thought! That said, there are as many ways to write as there are writers who write. Do whatever works for you to get words on the page, and to feel good about them.

As for me and my writing style? I’m still a work in progress. My next novel will probably see yet another change in process. But that means I gotta get back to writing this one. So…*waves and disappears*

Posted in research, Writing | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments