Archive for May, 2020

Attack Kitten

May 30, 2020

So, Roary is nine weeks old now.  He’s made friends with our other cats, include temperamental Persephone who was actually caught washing his head…  For your dose of cuteness, here are a few pictures.

 

Roary in Mid-Leap!

Roary Sticks the Landing. Note Mei-Ling in Tunnel.

 Roary does sleep occasionally.

Roary on Cat Post

FF: Next Year, I Guess

May 29, 2020

Nothing Frightens Persephone

Just learned that Bubonicon, New Mexico’s largest SF/F con, will not be being held this year.  This will be the first time I won’t be there, I think, since 1994.  I might have missed one year in there, but I don’t think so.  I’ll really miss seeing those of you I usually get to chat with there.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

The Black Dudley Murder by Margery Allingham.  This is the book that introduced Albert Campion as a Bertie Woosterish twit, who might actually not be so twittish.  Allingham had no idea he would become the protagonist of so many future works.

Death On the Air and other Stories by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Also includes some non-fiction by her about her own work, and the script for a play.  The final essay of advice to a young writer is still about 90% valid, only aspects of the business had changed.

The Fear Sign by Margery Allingham.  I had to skip several because they’re not in my collection, but this is a good one with a treasure hunts and it introduces Amanda.

In Progress:

Flowers for the Judge by Margery Allingham.  A locked strong room mystery tied to a disappearance many years before.

Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce.  Audiobook.  I read this when I came out and haven’t since, so, again a re-read with a new read feel.

Also:

Writing.  Beading.  Sneezing.

Is It Okay If?

May 27, 2020

Cactus Flowers and Bee

Is it okay if I admit that the one thing I’d like to do right now is go write fiction?

I’ve been out of my house and yard only rarely.  One of these jaunts was to visit a greenhouse and help choose a few items for our garden.  Another, was to pick up Roary, the kitten.  This has left me little opportunity to come across oddities to stimulate the writing of lively essays.

However, in that time, I have released Wolf’s Soul, the eighth Firekeeper novel, available now as a Kindle (mobi) e-book , and as an e-pub e-book from Barnes and Noble, Google Play, i-Tunes, and Kobo.

If you prefer print, Wolf’s Soul is a trade paperback from Amazon.

But that’s hardly new news, although very exciting for me.

Even if I may be short of essay-stimulating material, my imagination is working fine.  So, is it okay if I go write more of the yet-untitled fourth novel in the Star Kingdom series?  That way, one of these days, you can join me on the planet Sphinx where almost-sixteen year-old Stephanie Harrington is discovering what David Weber playfully termed “skullduggery in the bush.”

Saturday Snuggles

May 23, 2020

Mei-Ling and Roary

Some folks have wondered how shy-girl Mei-Ling and her new kitten pal, Romping Roary, are doing.

A picture speaks a thousand words….

FF: Pounce on a Good Book

May 22, 2020

Roary Pounces a Good Book!

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

Pearls Before Swine by Margery Allingham.  My library is woefully short on her works in audio, but I own a bunch in print.  This is a mid-late book in the Albert Campion sequence, when WWII has taken the shine off of the Edwardian age.  That transition is the underlying theme of this novel, far more the theme than the ostensible whodunit.

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Audiobook.  Although less well-known than Sherlock Holmes, this is one of those books that keeps getting referenced by other authors.  Great fun and some truly excellent prose.

In Progress:

The Black Dudley Murder by Margery Allingham.  This is the book that introduced Albert Campion as a Bertie Woosterish twit, who might actually not be so twittish.  Allingham had no idea he would become the protagonist of so many future works.

Death On the Air and other Stories by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Also includes some non-fiction by her about her own work, and the script for a play.

Also:

Still writing on SK4 and enjoying watching Roary make friends with Mei-Ling.

Romping and Roaring

May 20, 2020

Roary 3

As those of you who have read the Acknowledgements to my new release, Wolf’s Soul (Firekeeper Saga 8, for more details go here), you know that a few months ago, my much, much beloved cat Keladry died without warning, probably from a stroke or aneurysm.

Kel had self-appointed herself my assistant, so her loss left a particularly big hole.  I still expect her to come running when she hears my computer go on or to be able to reach over and pat her when I pause to consider what next.

But, if there’s anything I’ve learned from the losses in my life, it’s that choosing not to love as a protection against the pain of loss is a soul-destructive course of action.

And so, meet Roary.

After we lost Kel at the end of February, we wanted to get a new feline as soon as possible. Kwahe’e (who is now over eighteen and increasingly fragile) has always liked newcomers, but we weren’t sure how either Persephone or Mei-Ling would react.   Persephone is sweet but can be aggressive, while Mei-Ling is very shy.  Right now, Kwahe’e provides the balance between them.

Kwahe’e: Roary’s Calming Influence

However, there simply weren’t kittens available at the shelter until recently.  At the end of April, the shelter started posting kittens to the website (the site provides individual listings for adoptable animals).  However, with the Covid-19 shutdown, the shelter is closed except by appointment.  Therefore, once the site started showing more than an occasional kitten, I made us an appointment.  The closest date I could get was a week out and…

Yep, you got it, by that date (which was a week ago) there were no kittens listed at the shelter.

That Wednesday morning, I had a phone call checking if we were still coming in.  I explained that we were specifically looking for a kitten, and asked if they had any who weren’t listed on the site.  The lady (Cassie) said, no, the only available kitten was at the other shelter and appointments couldn’t be switched.

Very reasonably, Cassie tried to interest me in several young adults. I explained why we needed a kitten, explaining that we’d adopted Mei-Ling from the shelter last August as an excruciatingly shy kitten and, although we’d done a lot to help her be brave, we felt she’d be intimidated by someone bigger than her.

Roary and Mei-Ling

I asked, “Do you have any kittens who aren’t ready for adoption, but who we could reserve?”  Cassie replied, “We’re not doing reservations, but I could talk to our foster-care coordinator and explain your need.”  About twenty minutes later, I heard from a very enthusiastic lady named Carolyn.

Apparently, a kitten who had been brought into the shelter as an injured stray–something had attacked him and sliced through the leg muscles on his left leg so that they literally peeled off the bone (this is called “gloving”)–was now recovered from surgery.  He was doing well, but needed to go to a foster home while he finished healing.  The city shelter has a “foster-to-adopt” program, as long as the household does not exceed the limit for number of cats.  We don’t.

I gave Carolyn my references, including our vet clinic, who we’ve been using for over twenty years, through some remarkable pet adventures.  Then I got off the phone and bounced off the walls in excitement until Jim got home from running errands.

I valiantly withheld my news until Jim had a chance to wash his hands and mask, although I’ll admit, this was a struggle.  As I expected, Jim was as thrilled as I was, so I phoned Carolyn back asked when we could come get our new foster.  She said, “Come any time,” and we were out the door with Jim’s mask still slightly damp.

Our new foster was seven weeks old, white with random black spots.  The shelter had called him “ItsyBitsy,” but we’re going to call him Rorschach, Rory (or as Jim wants to spell it “Roary” because he can be very loud) since his blots form different pictures when he moves or bends.

Roary spends his unsupervised time in our spare guinea pig hutch to keep him from climbing and jumping, but he’s very playful and active.  He still has a little trouble with the left leg, but he’s certainly doing his P.T. to rebuild the damaged connections. If you look at the first photo, you can see the healing incision.  It’s pretty impressive.

Roary and Persephone

Best of all, unlike when we brought Mei-Ling home and Persephone completely panicked, our excitable girl seems to really like her new “little brother.”  We guess that this is because kittens are no longer a new concept.  She hisses at him a little, but isn’t terrified or hostile—more like “Keep your distance, squirt.”

 Mei-Ling is also interested in Roary.  Rather than going to hide, she loves to watch him and even lets him play within a few inches of her, as long as she doesn’t get pounced.  Apparently, her great fear is unfamiliar humans, which makes me think she must have had some bad experiences before she ended up in the shelter.

So, we’re optimistic.

Look forward to more pictures of Roary.  My guess is that he’s going to be a really big cat, because in just a week he’s visibly grown.

No matter how big he gets, Roary will never fill the hole that Kel left, but that’s not how love works.  You never stop loving those you’ve lost.  You don’t try to replace them.  You just open up to new love, new experiences, new challenges.

Which Is Good

May 15, 2020

Dandy asks: “How About ‘Pearls Before Guinea Pigs?'”

First a reminder…  Wolf’s Soul, Firekeeper book 8, is now available as e-book from any major vendor or trade paperback from Amazon.com.

I just finished reading a proof of a forthcoming novel by a friend.  I’ll try to remember to mention it when it comes out, but for now I am sworn to secrecy.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

The Fashion in Shrouds by Margery Allingham.  Audiobook.  Yep.  Another re-listen.  I enjoyed immensely and thought the reader was excellent.

In Progress:

 Pearls Before Swine by Margery Allingham.  My library is woefully short on her works in audio, but I own a bunch in print.  I haven’t read this is so long it’s going to be like reading a new book.

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Audiobook.  Although less well-known than Sherlock Holmes, this is one of those books that keeps getting referenced by other authors.  I’ve never read it, so am going to give it a try.

Also:

Writing a lot means less reading time, but it does mean writing, which is good.

An Open Letter to My Gamers

May 13, 2020

My Current Game Noteboook and the Proof

Months and months ago, when I wrote the Acknowledgements to Wolf’s Soul, the sequel to last July’s Wolf’s Search, which finally went live last week—you can read more about it here—I knew exactly what I was going to do when I got the first proof copy.

I was going to hand it to one of my current gaming group (maybe we’d roll dice to see who) and ask that person to read the first several paragraphs of the Acknowledgments aloud.

But, by the time the proof came out, the Covid-19 shutdown had begun and we were no longer meeting.  I hoped that by the time the book was available for purchase, we’d be meeting in person again, but that hasn’t happened.

So, I’m going to share this will them and with all of you.  Ready?

First of all, there’s a very special group I want to thank. Without them, Wolf’s Soul would have taken a lot longer to be finished.  These are the members of my current gaming group: Rowan Derrick, Melissa Jackson, Cale Mims, Dominique Price, and my husband, Jim Moore.

There was a point when, overwhelmed by too many projects unexpectedly coming to a head at one time, I realized I was burning out.  Something had to go. Reluctantly, I realized that I was going to need to give up running our weekly game.  I was crushed, because gaming may be the single activity that helps me recharge my creativity.

What can I say?  I’m a storyteller.  Gaming reminds me that stories are fun, not just my job.

My gamers are all seriously busy people, with high-end, stressful jobs.  I figured they’d be glad for an excuse to reclaim their Sunday evenings.  Instead, they insisted we keep meeting.  Rowan, despite having just started a new job, took over as gamemaster.  I stepped to the sidelines as one of the players.  As I started working through the backlog that was weighing me down, burnout ebbed and writing Wolf’s Soul became fun again, rather than a chore.

There’s a sequel to this…

As I said, when the Covid-19 shutdown hit, we all agreed to minimize vectors and stop meeting in person.  Jim and I knew that while, for us, the shutdown meant becoming more or less hermits, our gamers were going to all be working from home and/or the office, so their stress level and exhaustion levels would not be at all reduced.  In fact, we were resigned to the fact that, after many years, this might be the end of this particular group…  Life does that sort of thing.

Then, one day, Dominique e-mailed: “Okay! We miss you guys! Do you want to try roleplaying over Zoom?”

And so we started up over Zoom.  As the week before our first Zoom game, I kept finding myself thinking “We’re gaming this weekend.  I wonder what I should bake?” only to come up short and realize that, while we might be gaming, we wouldn’t be having our usual snack potluck.  I still feel funny when the coffee finishes brewing and I can’t share or put on water for tea for the non-coffee drinkers.

But gaming again has been fun.

It’s probably a coincidence but, soon after we started gaming again, my imagination relaxed and my writing on my current project, the first of the new Star Kingdom novels I’m collaborating on with David Weber, really picked up.

So, thank you, Cale, Dominique, Melissa, and Rowan—and, of course, Jim.

Wherever the future takes us, I’ll remember our games with special fondness forever more!

Wolf’s Soul Live On All Sites!!

May 9, 2020

Wolf’s Soul Runs Through the Amazon!

Wolf’s Soul, the eighth book in the Firekeeper Saga, is finally live on Amazon.  The pages for the two versions may not yet been merged on all sites, here are links to the Kindle (mobi) e-book and the trade paperback.

Wolf’s Soul is also available as an e-book from Barnes and Noble, Google Play, i-Tunes, and Kobo.

The cover art is based on Julie Bell’s wonderful piece, “Three Hungry Wolves,” which you can acquire as a print from her website.

Wolf’s Soul  is a close-upon-the-heels sequel to last July’s Wolf’s Search and, as such, requires familiarity with the events in Wolf’s Search to be best enjoyed.

That said, Wolf’s Search can be delved into without a review of—or even great familiarity with—the previous six books in the Firekeeper Saga.  If you haven’t yet read Wolf’s Search, you can learn a little about it here.

If you’d like more information about Wolf’s Soul, here’s a link to this week’s WW where I provided a few more details.

FF: Continuing

May 8, 2020

Part of the View Outside My Office

This week my reading is mostly electronic formats, so I offer picture of one of Jim and my pets: the garden.  Every plant you see, we put in. This corner used to be all sterile sand and construction junk.  It’s looking good now.  It will look even better when the hollyhocks, yarrow and desert willow start flowering

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie.  I could probably recite some of these aloud, but I needed something both absorbing and yet familiar to read before bed.

Pasttime by Robert B. Parker.  Audiobook.  Held up well.  Less a detective story than a mediation on how relationships between parents and children shape the adult, seasoned with gunshots.

David Bowie: The Oral History compiled by Dylan Jones.  Stronger before the editor decided to have the last word on Bowie.  Rather a contradiction, given that the inherent message of the book is that no one, probably not even Bowie, could have the last word.  But isn’t that true about all of us?

The Father Brown Mysteries radio dramas adapted from several short stories.  Well done.  Obviously audio!

In Progress:

 The Fashion in Shrouds by Margery Allingham.  Audiobook.  Yep.  Another re-listen.

Also:

This latest Smithsonian magazine, while slim, had some good articles.  I’d recommend.