Archive for July, 2022

FF: I’m Not Sure

July 29, 2022
Persephone Claims to Know

I’m really not sure where the last week has gone.  Wait…  There were two different sets of visitors from out of town, and a lot of catching up from the trip.  And other Stuff of the necessary, but not writerly, kind. 

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. 

Completed:

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater.  Audiobook.  Fourth of her “Raven Cycle.”  I’ve read the whole series, but this one only once, so a re-listen seemed a good thing.  For those of you who enjoy audiobooks, the reader does an excellent job with this series.

The Wizard’s Way by H.P. and Jacob Holo.  If you like lots of action, people with secrets (especially about wizardry), and a fast-moving story, this is for you.  I quite liked the reason why pugs learn to fence.

In Progress:

A Most Improbable Journey: A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves.  Non-fiction.  Jim liked it, so I’m giving it a try.  Just started.

Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater.  Audiobook.  Book two in her “Dreamer Trilogy.”  The first is Call Down the Hawk.  Just started.  You can read this without reading the four volumes of the Raven Cycle, but it definitely helps to have read those first.

Also:

Almost done with Smithsonian.  Also, with the most recent Vogue.

Toadaly True Encounter

July 27, 2022
Signing at Poisoned Pen… (but first, toad encounter)

On my way out to pick liana beans, I went into the garage for a bag.  As I paused in the laundry room (right off the garage) to do a few things, I heard a very gentle thump from the door into the garage.  I opened it, looked down, and discovered a medium-sized toad sitting on the doorsill, waiting to be let in.

During the hottest part of the day, we often open the garage door just a few inches, so air will circulate and some of the heat will bleed off.  Obviously, the toad had come in then, and had spent the night in the garage.  Now that the garage door was closed, it wanted to leave and had politely knocked—probably because it was too short to reach the controls.

Mildly astonished (this happened once before, years ago), I gathered up the toad and carried it to our backyard, which offers much living better conditions for a toad. For the duration of the summer, we have resolved to leave the garage door open just a little during the day, so any venturesome toads don’t cook when the temperatures rise.

(We’ve been pretty routinely hitting a high of 105.  Since this is cooler than the high of 112 we hit in July the last couple of years, we’re not complaining.)

The bunny continues to reside in the yard.  It is getting bigger.  It also has a friend, a much smaller bunny who probably came through the same mysterious gap in the fence.  We will do our best to relocate them but, for now, thanks to the monsoon rains, there is more than enough natural forage for them, and they’re not dining on our veggies.

The first bunny has become, if not tame, at least less inclined to immediately run for cover when it sees us.  Hopefully we’ll be able to eventually herd it out through the gate.

As mentioned in the caption, the picture above is from my recent book event at Poisoned Pen.  Much praise to Patrick King, who put in a lot of advanced work on his interview questions, so that we had a lively and non-generic chat.  You can view the interview here.

I’m reaching the final stages of my current rough draft (set in the world of Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge), and am eager to find out exactly how the story will resolve itself.  The characters have dropped a few hints, but one of the things I really like about writing is watching exactly how the resolution ends up happening.

FF: There’s a Reason

July 22, 2022
Roary and a Story

On the road last week, I left my “at home” audiobook behind, and shifted back to a re-listen of the end of The Fellowship of the Rings.  When that was finished, The Two Towers was loaded up.  Being away did mean my reading time was more limited, but I still found a bit.

So that’s the reason my reading list looks so odd right now.

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. 

Completed:

The Mother Hunt by Rex Stout.  I liked this well-enough.  Side amusement was seeing how much of the plot would still work with DNA tests to confirm parents.  A substantial amount actually would have done so, which was nice.

In Progress:

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater.  Audiobook.  Fourth of her “Raven Cycle.”  I’ve read the whole series, but this one only once, so a re-listen seemed a good thing.  For those of you who enjoy audiobooks, the reader does an excellent job with this series.

The Wizard’s Way by H.P. and Jacob Holo.  Starts with lots of action, but now the reason for it is coming, and I’m tantalized.  By the way, this one caught me because of the cover.  It has a fencing pug!

Also:

Finished Smithsonian right in time for a new one to arrive.  Still reading that.

Helping Writing Thrive

July 20, 2022
Mostly Squash and Sunflowers

Last week I learned that A New Clan will be released as an audiobook from Audible.  This is the fourth Star Kingdom/Stephanie Harrington novel by me and David Weber.  Release timetable is not yet set, but I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s out.

We have some interest from Recorded Books in the two Over Where novels (Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge).  If you’re hoping for these to come out in audio, let them know!

Last week, our temperatures rose back into the low hundreds.  However, the monsoon rains circled around again, giving us some fresh moisture, including one storm that dropped seven tenths of an inch.  All of you dealing with floods, don’t laugh.  Here in our part of New Mexico, that’s a significant amount of rainfall.

As a result, our yard and garden are doing the best they have in the last three or four years.  We’re actually having a bit of trouble picking our way between some of the rows, which was not an issue in hot and droughty 2020 or 2021.  As anticipated, we’ve harvested our first tomatoes.  The new contribution are lianas, often called yard long beans or, sometimes, asparagus beans.

So, what’s the equivalent of a good soaking rain for a writer?  Obviously, it differs from writer to writer.  Although I’ve written in plenty of public places (classrooms, meetings, airplanes), I would no more seek out a coffee shop as an ideal place to go write than I would roast my bare feet over white-hot coals.  But there are plenty of writers (including some whose work I love) who go out of their way to write in coffee shops or in group writing sessions.

For me, my internal landscape matters more than the exterior.  If I’m too busy to read, my writing really suffers.  Re-reading definitely counts.  It’s a bit like listening to a familiar piece of music, with the bonus of being able to concentrate on what elements make me love it, rather than what happens next.

Hobby activity counts, since while my hands are busy, my subconscious feels free to wander.  Even my gaming time, which is a sort of storytelling, can stimulate my writing.  This is not because I reuse game elements, more because the freedom to be part of an evolving story with no pressure to produce a saleable piece reminds me why I love to share stories.

We’re just back from a trip, and I need to go out and crawl between the plants and see what might have ripened while we were away.  Then I think I’ll see what my subconscious came up with while the many hundreds of miles between Albuquerque and Phoenix spun out under the tires.

Beans, Sunflowers, Tomatoes

FF: Bitten and More

July 15, 2022
Characters Seek Advice from a Wolfe

It’s been a crazy, busy week, full of upheavals, as well as working around a hand Persephone bit (hard) last Thursday when she got scared while at the vet for her annual checkup.  (It’s almost better, thank you.  Yes, I did see a doctor.)  Books were a very welcome refuge.

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 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. 

Completed:

The Animal World of the Pharaohs by Patrick F. Houlihan.  This 1996 study is enjoyable and engrossing.  I really liked the ambition of this study.  From sacred animals to family pets, everything is covered.

The Rails that Bind: America’s Freedom Trains as Reflections of Efforts to Form Cultural Consensus and Indicators of the Weakness of Cold War Memory by Daniel Speer.  A William & Mary Honor’s Thesis.

Where There’s a Will by Rex Stout. 

Jenny’s Moonlight Adventure, story and pictures by Esther Averill.  A short story about courage.

Jenny and the Cat Club, story and pictures by Esther Averill.  Jenny, in case you wondered, is a little black cat who wears a red scarf.

In Progress:

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater.  Audiobook.  Fourth of her “Raven Cycle.”  I’ve read the whole series, but this one only once, so a re-listen seemed a good thing.  For those of you who enjoy audiobooks, the reader does an excellent job with this series.

The Mother Hunt by Rex Stout.

Also:

Finished Smithsonian right in time for a new one to arrive.  I feel bad for the painting that is mocked in one article.  I don’t think it merits it, for a variety of reasons.

Bookstores, Podcasts: the Wild Life of a Writer

July 13, 2022
Postcards, Bookmarks, Buttons

This week I have lots of cool things to tell you about, much of it related to my life as a writer, but not forgetting bunnies and veggies.

First, I’m doing an in-person event at Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona on Sunday, July 17th, at 2:00 pm.  We’ll have all three of my new books: Library of the Sapphire Wind, Aurora Borealis Bridge, and A New Clan (a Star Kingdom novel, in collaboration with David Weber).  For those of you who can’t make the trip to Arizona, Poisoned Pen does do signed books by mail order.  My understanding is that there may be a live simulcast of the interview.  Check Poisoned Pen’s website for details.

Oh…  At the signing, I’ll have with me the cool bookmarks, post cards, and other swag shown above.  I even have a limited number of stickers signed by David Weber, so you can have your copy of A New Clan signed by both authors.  The stickers are reserved for copies of A New Clan, but I should have enough bookmarks and postcards for everyone.

Second, if you’re wondering about Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge, this past weekend a new review came out that meets the remarkable challenge of being accurate, detailed, and spoiler free.  You can read H.P. Holo’s take on Library of the Sapphire Wind here.

I will be putting links to other reviews on my website as time permits.

Third, if you’ve ever wondered how David Weber and I work together on our collaborations, we did a very long interview with David Butler for Baen Free Radio. 

You can find Part One here:

https://www.baen.com/podcast/index/view/id/582

and Part Two here:

https://www.baen.com/podcast/index/view/id/584

As for the really important stuff…  The baby bunny is still in the yard, still leaving the veggies alone, although it is no longer running away quite as fast when we go out into the yard.  This may be a good thing (enable us to move it out of the yard) or a bad thing (if it starts deciding to augment its natural diet with our produce).  Jim has decided to fence the bed that has Swiss chard and arugula, as this would be the bed most likely to suffer if the bunny gets too brave.

 We’ve added a few string beans to our harvest, and I think we might get a few ripe tomatoes by the end of this week. 

On that note, I’m off to have some coffee, then get on to writing and other fun things.

FF: What’s On Deck

July 8, 2022
Roary Researches

This week I seem to have slipped into mostly non-fiction, and I haven’t chosen my next audiobook, having just finished the current one.

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. 

Completed:

The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett.  Audiobook.  Overall enjoyable.  Warning for Americans.  The one character from the U.S. has a really annoying and inappropriate accent.  Otherwise, the reader does a good job.

Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia A. McKillip.  Short story collection.  Lovely prose, but many of the stories seem like Part One of a novel.  My favorite was “Knight of the Well,” which seemed like a complete tale.  Also, a definite tendency toward “environmental cautionary tales.”

The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill (illustrated by her as well).  A Cat Club book.

Captains of the City Streets by Esther Averill (illustrated by her as well).   A Cat Club book.

In Progress:

The Animal World of the Pharaohs by Patrick F. Houlihan.  This 1996 study is enjoyable and engrossing.  Enjoying, although it’s such a big tome I can’t read it before bed, which is slowing me down.  Nearly done.

The Rails that Bind: America’s Freedom Trains as Reflections of Efforts to Form Cultural Consensus and Indicators of the Weakness of Cold War Memory by Daniel Speer.  A William & Mary Honor’s Thesis.  Very interesting thus far.

Also:

Finished Archeology and am on the latest Smithsonian.

Hummers and Hoppers

July 6, 2022

Quick update on local wildlife, garden, and… Oh, yeah!  Writing stuff.

Hummingbird Over Zinnia

We have another really, really tiny cottontail rabbit that’s found its way into our backyard.   While we hope to relocate it, as we did the one who squeezed its way through some mystery crevice in our fence (probably the south one, which has some vine-covered areas), it’s not as great a threat to our garden as was its predecessor.

The plants are a lot bigger now, and so it’s unlikely that one rabbit, much less a very tiny bunny, could take out the garden.  Probably the greatest “at threat” area is the bed in which we’re growing Swiss chard, arugula, and radishes.  Stay tuned…

Cooler temperatures over the last several weeks have really helped our garden.  We’ve only gone over a hundred a couple of days, and even that was only to about 102F.  While we haven’t had rain, there have been clouds, and that has given us a break.  We are hoping for rain, since the monsoon pattern hasn’t left.

We’ve now harvested radishes, eggplant, Swiss chard, and zucchini, as well as a variety of herbs.

While we’ve lost a few plants, so far, so good.  Next hoped for crop is tomatoes.  We have some set, but none yet ripe.

As for writing…  I’m working on a third “Over Where” novel, and it now has a title: House of Rough Diamonds.  The editor who bought Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge has asked to see a proposal, and one went off to her this past week.

I also did a few more interviews, and will post links to them as they go live.

On that note…  I’m off to wander the yard and see if I can spot Little Bunny, or at least where it’s getting in.  Then to write!

Yard Outside My Office Window