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?

Posted in publication, Writing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

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

Guest Post: Call of Fire Author Beth Cato…and a Recipe!

Today we have a special Guest Post by fantastic author Beth Cato, who has graciously agreed to provide a homemade gluten-free granola recipe for readers of my blog. You should really click that link to her website–part of her blog is Bready or Not, where she’s posted scads of amazing recipes (as I type this, I have her Korean BBQ Beef Ribs cooking, and it smells amazing in my kitchen)! You can also sign up for her mailing list, and view more of her writing, including links to her short fiction and poetry, as well as to her other novels.

Her current novel, Call of Fire–with its absolutely gorgeous cover–is now available. Let me reassure you that her books aren’t just pretty covers, either; the first book in the series was a rollicking fun read!

So, without further ado, let me present:

Author Beth Cato

with Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola
and her novel, Call of Fire

I’m Beth Cato, the author of two steampunk fantasy series with Harper Voyager. The second book in my Blood of Earth Trilogy is Call of Fire, and it’s out on August 15th. These books feature a 1906 America that is allied with Japan as a world power, and in the process of dominating mainland Asia.

My heroine, Ingrid Carmichael, has spent much of her young life working as a secretary, housekeeper, and cook, all while hiding her powerful earth magic. I do a fair share of cooking myself–I run a food blog called Bready or Not. Every Wednesday at, I post a new recipe. I’m most famous/infamous for my cookies, which I’m known for bringing to conventions and signing events. I also do a lot of healthy recipes for my personal consumption.

This recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola is easy to make gluten-free with GF oats and mini chocolate chips like those from Enjoy Life. Plus, it’s a LOT cheaper than buying granola in a grocery store!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola

2 1/2 cups rolled (old fashioned) oats

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 275-degrees. Line a large, rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and rub with butter or apply nonstick spray.

Place the oats in a large bowl. In a small bowl, microwave the peanut butter and honey for 30 seconds; the peanut butter should be starting to melt. Stir them together, then add vanilla extract.

Pour the peanut butter mix and stir until the oats are completely coated. Spread the granola on the foil-lined sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, then set out to cool. Note that it will continue to crisp up as it cools, so don’t overbake!

Once the granola is cool, mix in the chocolate chips. Store in a sealed container.

Original post can be found at:

More about Call of Fire, book 2 in the Blood of Earth Trilogy:

At the end of Breath of Earth, Ingrid Carmichael had barely survived the earthquake that devastated San Francisco and almost crippled her with an influx of geomantic energy. With her friends Cy, Lee, and Fenris, she flees north, keenly aware that they are being pursued by Ambassador Blum, a cunning and dangerous woman who wants to use Ingrid’s abilities as the magical means to a devastating end.

Ingrid’s goals are simple: avoid capture that would cause her to be used as a weapon by the combined forces of the United States and Japan in their war against China, and find out more about the god-like powers she inherited from her estranged father. Most of all, she must avoid seismically active places. She doesn’t know what an intake of power will do to her body–or what damage she may unwillingly create.

A brief stopover in Portland turns disastrous when Lee and Fenris are kidnapped. To find and save her friends, Ingrid must ally with one of the most powerful and mysterious figures in the world: Ambassador Theodore Roosevelt.

Their journey together takes them north to Seattle, where Mount Rainier looms over the city. And Ingrid is all too aware that she may prove to be the fuse to alight both the long-dormant volcano…and a war that will sweep the world.

More info and purchase at Amazon

More info and purchase at Barnes & Noble

Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the new Blood of Earth Trilogy from Harper Voyager. Her newest novel is CALL OF FIRE. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.



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Last of the Shade Trees

The figs are gone; we ate them all, and now we’re sad. No more figs for a year. Now the pineapples are growing–still green, but getting larger. The hibiscus shove out new blooms daily, and the butterfly ginger scent the side yard. Around us, the air is heavy with sweat–ours, and nature’s, as if even the skies can’t stand the heat and humidity of north central Florida in August. Never before have I been so glad for air conditioning, and shade.

And yet…next week, we’re losing two trees–laurel oaks, which are short-lived “weedy” trees. But trees nonetheless. They are the last two “big” trees on the property that I loved for its “beautiful trees making such shade.” Sigh. But they are coming down for a good reason–we’re installing solar panels on the roof! These two trees, already a bit lank and long in the tooth, are blocking the southern exposure. So out they go.

While I’m sad, the neighbors two laurel oaks will still shade our side yard, and I’m going to plant two smaller trees there. Probably chickasaw plums, which won’t grow tall enough to block the sun from the rooflines, but will protect the shady garden plants below. If they grow like the Scarlet Beauty plum tree did, they’ll be full and lovely in less than 2 years!

So there it is. Another month run away. Butterflies are everywhere, and hummingbirds argue over who has rights to the nectar feeder, and the dog pants, sleeping in the sun until the afternoon rain drives him indoors.

I sip lemonade. Dwell in the shade, savoring the trees until the trees are gone. Consider the sun that will soon be powering my air conditioner. I cannot help but smile.

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

Net Neutrality is a Big Deal

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Ripening Figs…Soon, We Shall Eat!

Nothing much to report except that my little figlets are doing beautiful things. Almost ripe, and my mouth is watering to taste them! And a Happy Tuesday to you all.


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