Archive for April, 2021

FF: Tangled Up

April 30, 2021
Roary Wonders What His Labors Might Be

As those of you who read the WW this week already know, Jim and I were on the road last week, so my reading was scattered and odd, as well as being tangled with in my own work.

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.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Recently Completed:

Lucifer’s Crown by Lillian Stewart Carl.  A story set as the Twentieth Century is turning into the Twenty-first.   A story of a struggle for redemption, personal and social.  I enthusiastically blurbed it, so I must have liked it and I did all over again on this re-read.  Originally out from a small press, it is now available as an e-book, if you’re curious.

Twisted Twenty-six by Janet Ivanovich.  Audiobook.  Listening to Stephanie Plum while we’re travelling is something of a tradition for me and Jim.  This one was serious weak at points, but (as Beverly mentioned recently) I still like the characters and how they care about each other.  (Although I did note that Stephanie, who started the series always fighting weight gain now had a magical Hungarian metabolism that allows her to eat anything she wants.  That was seriously weird.  Also, Lula being black was not mentioned even once.  Again.  Weird.) 

In Progress:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  Re-read. 

The Labors of Hercules by Agatha Christie.  A short story collection, with the “frame story” of Hercule Poirot doing his version of the mythical labors.

Also:

Reading and doing edits.  It takes most of my reader brain, as well as my writer brain.

Roary and the Kidnappers

April 28, 2021
Roary Undercover

“I’m sure they’ve been kidnapped,” said Roary the year-old catling, his normally perky ears turned sideways with worry.  “They’ve never, ever, ever been gone for so long.”

“Don’t worry,” said Persephone, who at nine years old knew everything.  “Jane and Jim have done this before.  If they go away, but that Uncle Chip person comes by to fill the food and water and make sure our litter boxes are clean.  That means Our Humans will come back.”

“Are you sure?” Roary asked, looking to Mei-Ling for reassurance.

Mei-Ling, who was not quite two, and not nearly as confident as Persephone, considered for a moment before answering.

Mei-Ling Considers

“I think Persephone is right,” she said at last.  “I remember times, long before you came to live here, when Jim and Jane would go away for days and days and days, but they came back.  Persephone is right.  But you’re right, too.  They haven’t gone away for a long, long time.  I hope they haven’t been kidnapped.”

The three cats considered in silence as the darkness grew darker and the nearly full moon rose higher, casting shadows over the yard, spotlighting the toads who were hopping to the pond for their nightly singalong.

“Wanna bet me your wet food that Jane and Jim won’t come back?” asked Persephone, a wicked twinkle lighting her huge amber eyes.

Roary, who liked his wet food very, very much, but had been too timid to go and get his share when the human Persephone called Uncle Chip came by, thought this was Very Unfair.

“No…  But I sure wish I knew they were really going to come back.”

Another night went by, then another.  Each time that Uncle Chip came, Mei-Ling (who was timid at the best of times) hid.  Just to play it safe, Roary hid with her.  Then, one afternoon, as the day was beginning to cool, Persephone suddenly jumped down from the top of the grandfather clock where she had been napping.

Persephone On Alert

“Hear that!  It’s the sound of the car!  That means Jim and Jane are back!”

Roary wasn’t at all sure, and headed for the bedroom.  Better to be cautious.  What if it wasn’t Jane and Jim, but the kidnappers?  His worry was so infectious that Mei-Ling decided she’d better join him.

“Just to keep you from being scared,” she said, puffing out her fluffy fur.  “Besides, Persephone is very fierce.  If those are kidnappers, she’ll deal with them.”

Roary crouched low, belly to the floor.  There was the faint rumble of a car going into the garage.  Then heard the door from the garage to the house open.  A moment later, the familiar sound of Jim’s voice filled the air.

“I could hear you through the door, Persy girl.  Glad to have us back?  Mei-Ling?  Roary?  Where are you?”

A moment later, the voice of Jane could also be heard.

“I just saw Mei-Ling race by.  She paused to take a look, but she’s being careful.”

Footsteps.  Roary hunkered down and closed his eyes so no one could see him.

“Roary’s in the bedroom,” Jim said, his voice full of chuckles.  “We’ll give him time.  After all, our going away is very new to him.  We haven’t done so in over a year.”

Roary waited as footsteps sounded, doors opened and closed, and the house stopped being so still.  Eventually, without Mei-Ling to keep him company, he felt very lonely.  There were interesting sounds, too, like the door to the porch being opened, and the guinea pigs’ mobile hutch being rolled along the floor.

He crept out and peeked around a corner where someone was opening and shutting drawers.  That looked like Jim.

He hurried down the hall, all the way to the office.  There, out in the yard, watering the plants, that looked like Jane.  But he decided to play it safe, and watched from where he could scamper under something if those turned out to be kidnappers in disguise.

The day turned into evening.  Mei-Ling demanded her favorite game: Chase the Oral Hygiene Crunchies.  The person who was almost certainly Jane knew the game, but Roary wasn’t sure it was really her.  Kidnappers were crafty.  The person who was almost certainly Jim brought Roary his Crunchies on the porch and gave them to him from a safe distance.

“I hope they aren’t drugged,” Roary thought, but he ate them anyhow.  After several days without treats, they tasted very good.

At last the important Before Bedtime Treat came.  This was always wet food.  The person who was almost absolutely certainly Jane did all the right things.  Roary suddenly felt very happy that he hadn’t bet his wet food to Persephone, because she’d be insisting he give it to her now.

He romped out, ran up onto the counter where he always got this very special treat, and stretched out an imploring paw.

Jane brought his bowl, and said, as she always did, “Be careful.  One of these days, you’re going to fall off.”

Roary relaxed.  All was right in the home.  He ate his treat, licking the bowl extra clean.  Later, when Jim and Jane went to bed and turned out the lights, he snuggled down between them.

“Keeping an eye on them in case they’re kidnappers?” Persephone asked from the top of the dresser.

“Nope,” Roary replied happily.  “Just making up for lost cuddles.”

FF: Or Even Weirder

April 23, 2021
Coco Reads

Honestly, this week I’m mostly reading Library of the Sapphire Wind by Jane Lindskold as I work on the editorial notes, but since I can’t edit before I go to bed or I have even weirder dreams than usual, I get in a little “fun” reading, too.  In case you missed my excited posts, it’s due to be released Spring 2022.

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.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Recently Completed:

Castle Hangnail written and illustrated by Ursula Vernon.  This is an interesting work in her canon, with more text than her delightful Harriet the Hamster Princess and Danny Dragonbreath works, foreshadowing in its acceptance of “darker” elements, in many ways, the work she is doing as T. Kingfisher, including The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking that I mentioned a few weeks ago.

In Progress:

Lucifer’s Crown by Lillian Stewart Carl.  Remember how last week I mentioned that reading Durant’s Age of Faith reminded me of a novel I haven’t re-read in years?  This is it.  I enthusiastically blurbed it, so I must have liked it.  Weird coincidence tied to last week’s post: Cover Art is by Ursula Vernon, proving yet again she can do other than Cute.

The Age of Faith by Will Durant, when time permits and the CD player doesn’t go ballistic.  It really, really doesn’t like the Dark Ages.

Also:

Archeology Magazine.

Nary A Sheep

April 21, 2021
Puerco Real Among The Iris

Live with another person long enough, and you end up speaking a private, multi-layered language.

I realized that the other day when we were showing some friends our yard and someone commented on the metal pig sculpture near the iris.  I had to stop myself from explaining, “That’s Puerco Real,” which can mean the ‘real pig’ or the ‘royal pig,’ but it’s also a sort of inside joke for us,  because Jim did a lot of archeology out on the Rio Puerco, so we were punning on that, too.”

Instead, I said, “Thank you.  My brother gave it to us years ago.”

Not nearly as much fun, but a lot easier on guests.

In our home, rain clouds are never mentioned as such, because that might scare them away.

(This happens a lot here, so we’re not superstitious.  It isn’t superstition if it happens.)

Instead, in the best tradition of Jim’s Irish ancestors speaking of the Sidhe folks without actually mentioning them by name, we refer to rain clouds in a variety of colorful ways.  Many of these refer to sheep, because clouds, like sheep, are fluffy and often white and gather in flocks.

So there are scattered sheep, dirty sheep, sheep off to the west, and, very, very often Evil Sheep.  Why evil?  Because they often scatter and go away without giving us the rain we want.

We have new neighbors.  If they overhear us, they probably think they’ve moved next door to two crazy people.

It probably won’t help that most summer nights we go out “toad hunting,” that is, looking for toads by flashlight.  No toads are ever damaged in this activity.

So here you are, lovely spring iris, the Real Pig (who just might be a river valley), photographed on a bright spring day with nary a sheep in sight.

FF: And Illustrated By

April 16, 2021
Mei-Ling Feels Dubious About the Residents of Castle Hangnail

I just realized that, purely by coincidence, much of my reading over the last week was by that rare creature: the author/illustrator. 

Just a reminder. Saturday and Sunday I’m participating in the wholly on-line convention, Flights of Foundry. On Saturday, I’m on a panel, and on Sunday I’ll be giving a short reading from Library of the Sapphire Wind. (See this week’s WW for more about this novel.)

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.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Recently Completed:

The Hotel  Cat written and illustrated by Ester Averill.  A before bed read.  I loved Pickles and Jenny and all the rest as a kid, and see no reason not to now!

Jenny Goes to Sea written and Illustrated by Ester Averill. 

Captains of the City Streets written and illustrated by Ester Averill.

Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  An English country house, spy thriller mystery with characters who would have been bright lights of The Drone’s Club.  Great fun.

In Progress:

Castle Hangnail written and illustrated by Ursula Vernon.  This is an interesting work in her canon, with more text than her delightful Harriet the Hamster Princess and Danny Dragonbreath works, foreshadowing in its acceptance of “darker” elements, in many ways, the work she is doing as T. Kingfisher, including The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking that I mentioned a few weeks ago.

Also:

At last got my player to work, so I’m back to The Age of Faith, when time permits.  Just finished Thomas `a Becket and Henry II, which reminded me of a novel I haven’t re-read in years…

New Lindskold Books: The Over Where Duology!

April 14, 2021

I’ve been holding onto some very exciting information since the Easter Bunny brought it last week.

My novels Library of the Sapphire Wind and its sequel, Aurora Borealis Bridge, will be coming out Spring of 2022 from Baen Books as the “Over Where” duology.

These novels have been part of the background music of my life since April of 2017.  I wrote them with an intensity that I’ve rarely felt, finishing something over 150,000 words before October 2017.   Then, for a variety of reasons—including new Firekeeper novels Wolf’s Search, Wolf’s Soul, as well as a new  installment in the Stephanie Harrington/Star Kingdom series—I put the manuscript aside.

I returned to Library of the Sapphire Wind in August of 2020, when I turned the Star Kingdom novel over to David Weber.  To my immense delight, I slipped right back into the universe, writing and expanding until I realized that this was far too large a story for one book.

The Over Where duology is the tale of how three young adults decide to use a shrine to summon supernatural guidance.  Except, instead of getting what they expected, they summon three monstrous creatures from another world.

Wait…   Let me try again…

Maybe it’s the story of three women past the first blush of youth (or even older) from our Earth who are summoned to a land where magic is real, and all the people are therianthropic (that is, they have a mixture of human and animal traits).  Everyone, including the three summoners, figure this is a huge mistake but, when the humans learn that the summoners can’t get any other help, they decide to stay.

According to a mysterious cryptic verse, the first thing they must do is find the Library of the Sapphire Wind.  There’s just one problem.  The Library was destroyed some twenty-five years before.

So begins a journey that will take these mismatched six not only to those magically haunted ruins, but into a complex maze of lies and part lies, and ultimately to a truth no one could have imagined at the start.

If you’re interested in hearing a snippet from Library of the Sapphire Wind, I’ll be giving a short reading this coming Sunday at the free, on-line convention, Flights of Foundry.

FF: The Bough Breaks

April 9, 2021
Roary Could Be One of Jenny’s Friends

Well, not really a bough, but the device on which I was playing the audio of The Age of Faith by Will Durant, so I guess my electronics have decided I’m not ready for the Dark Ages yet.  Instead…  Agatha Christie does P.G. Wodehouse.

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.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Recently Completed:

The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington by Jennet ConantAdequate, but the temporal/associational organization style doesn’t do the material much good. 

In Progress:

The Hotel  Cat written and illustrated by Ester Averill.  A before bed read.  I loved Pickles and Jenny and all the rest as a kid, and see no reason not to now!

Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  An English country house, spy thriller mystery with characters who would have been bright lights of The Drone’s Club.  Great fun.

Also:

I have an Big Announcement that I’ve saving for the WW this coming week, so I’ll just say that my research reading is joyfully scattered.

And A Very Short Story

April 7, 2021
Toad By Night

Lately, on my social media, I’ve posted happy comments about the return of toads to our pond, as well as about quail returning to our yard, which they did for the first time on Monday.  Many of my regular readers responded with comments about Spring finally being here.

And they’re right…  Spring is here, with toad and quail song.  Soon, instead of the light rain showers and pale greens of a stereotypical Spring, we’ll have high winds and fifty degree temperatures shifts.

Different ecosystems.  Different symbols.  Different worlds.  I wish more writers thought about these things.

Last week, what you could term either a very short story (or not) occurred to me.  I’ll gift it to you all today…

Two gamblers at a racetrack are narrowing down their choices.

Happy Harry says, “I’m torn between the black with the white star, Pride of Place, and the chestnut with the blaze, A Fall Beauty. But I think I’ll put my money on Pride of Place”

To which his pal, Horsey Harriet says, “Why?  A Fall Beauty has a good odds, and a better chance of winning.”

To which Harry says” Oh, it’s simple: Pride always goes before a fall.”

Later!

FF: The Shift Has Happened

April 2, 2021
Roary Has Reached A Year Old

As this week ends, I have made the shift to non-fiction, pretty much entirely.

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.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Recently Completed:

The Renaissance by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Moving into the end of the Italian Renaissance.  A balanced look at how many of the wonders (both of art and of thought) we remember were purchased in a fashion that led to the fall.  Some of Durant’s terminology is dated (he genders qualities as “male” and “female” for example), but if you can get around that, there’s a lot to enjoy.

Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser.  Victorian imperialism told from the point of view of an anti-hero.  Not PC.  Great prose, and liberally footnoted both in text and with appendices.  I enjoy Flashman, but he’s not to everyone’s taste.

In Progress:

The Age of Faith by Will DurantAudiobook.  I was about half-way through this one before I decided I need a break from the history of an age often termed “Dark.”  I’m giving it another try.  Looking at some of the smaller Balkan realms.

The Irregulars by Jennet ConantI read reviews of this when it came out, then promptly forgot it until one of my sisters mentioned reading it.  A look at, as the subtitle says “Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington.”

Also:

A variety of scattered magazine articles, from scattered sources.