Archive for the ‘Arts and Crafts’ Category

Jingle All the Way

December 28, 2022
Jingles in the Holiday Forest

Wishing you and yours a very happy winter holiday, however you celebrate it, even if you don’t!

I’ll be back with more to say in the New Year.



December 21, 2022
Decorations by Jim

Every year, Jim and I bake a lot of cookies.  Some become gifts, some are served to guests.  Some get eaten just by us.  Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but we enjoy.

In addition to the sugar cookies pictured above, we do pecan-maple slices, meringues, butter balls, sesame balls (almost a savory), press gun butter cookies, Linzer tarts (this year with homemade cactus pear jelly), gingerbread (very spicy), hermits, and a simple fudge. 

The sugar cookies are particular fun.  I like making cut-out cookies.  Jim likes decorating them.

We have a lot of cutters, so it never gets dull.  The photo offers a small selection of this year’s sugar cookies for your enjoyment.


FF: Oopsy!

November 11, 2022
Roary Says…

…the “Queen of Winter” wrap (knitted from undyed alpaca and silk yarn) being offered at the Tamson House auction is a steal.  Ships free within the U.S.  Really, a steal, I just priced a mass-produced knitted wrap on line. 

As for the oopsy, I accidentally credited two of the audiobooks I listened to recently to Margery Allingham, when I should have credited them to Ngaio Marsh.  I blame this on not actually looking at the print page, and the weird coincidence that Marsh’s detective protagonist is “Alleyne,” pronounced “Allen,” which became “Allingham” in my very allergy plagued brain.  You can read my mea culpa corrections at the end of this post.

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. 


Drink Down the Moon by Charles de Lint.  Standalone sequel to Jack the Giant Killer.  Mostly new cast of characters.

A Wreath for Rivera by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Ambition doesn’t need to be for power and wealth.  Sometimes it’s all about playing the drums.

Colour Scheme by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Marsh was a New Zealander, and WWII gave her a reason to break from the pack and set her novel in her homeland.  Today, when the mystery field often seems to put “oddities” over plot and character, it’s hard to believe what a bold step that was for both her and her publisher.

In Progress:

Died in the Wool by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Another Alleyne mystery set in New Zealand.

River Kings: A New History of the Vikings from Scandinavia to the Silk Roads by Cat Jarman.  Non-fiction.  Curiosity about how a carnelian bead got from (possibly) India to a Viking grave in England sets an archeologist speculating.  Very readable.


Murder at the Bar and Artists in Crime are both by Ngaio Marsh. 

And I’m also reading the mass market proofs of my own novel Library of the Sapphire Wind, which was released as a trade paperback and e-book back in February of this year.

Oh, yes, I did start writing that short story…

Buried Treasure

November 9, 2022
You’ll Find Buried Treasure

If I had a nickel for every time a would-be-published writer has said to me, “I know I’m close to professional level, but I wish I could talk to an editor and see what I’m missing,” well, I’d have a lot of nickels.

Heck, even if I counted the number of times that I stared at a rejection slip in those early days and made that wish, I’d have earned back a whole lot of wasted postage.  (Yeah, I go back to the dark ages where one had to mail in manuscripts, with return postage, if you wanted it back.)

What does this have to do with buried treasure?  Well, one of the incentives offered in the Tamson House auction is a Story Review with Dreamforge Magazine Editor Scot Noel

“Perfect for authors looking for feedback from an editor. DreamForge Magazine Editor Scot Noel will review your short story — up to 5000 words — provide feedback, and schedule a 1 hour Zoom call to discuss your story and answer your questions. Ideal for writers who are just starting out or are looking to level up their writing.

“You will send your story electronically and once Scot has had a chance to review the story, he will work with you by email to schedule a Zoom call at a mutually convenient time. (Story must be in English.)”

Why I think of this as “buried treasure” is that the auction headline only lists that Scot is offering a “story review.”  There isn’t room in the headline to list that this includes a one hour Zoom call, you need to click on the listing for full details.  Those of you who have looked into the extra fees charged by many writer’s conferences for a short chat with an editor (most of whom will not have looked at your work) will be able to testify what a terrific deal this is.

Oh?  Link to the auction site?  Sure…

There are other buried treasures on the site as well, many still available at the original bid level.  These include art (check out Elizabeth Leggett’s offering; it’s stunning), handmade items (the “Winter Queen” wrap by Yvonne Coats is impossibly elegant), and even arrowheads made by my own archeologist, Jim Moore.  There are also rare collectible books and art.

At least two authors are offering Zoom chats, and I have heard rumors that there will be more such incentives from authors, including naming rights, advance copies, and chats.

Am I offering one of those chats?  You bet! 

New offerings are being posted daily.  However, like for any sort of treasure, you’re going to need to dig.  The donations are being posted by two wonderful volunteers, and new offers usually appear at the bottom of the page.

Keep on digging!  You’re certain to find a special something, for yourself or as a gift.  And you’ll have the added satisfaction of knowing you’re helping out two very wonderful people.

Shop and Help in One

November 3, 2022

The holiday gift giving season is coming, and I wanted to alert you all to a way you could both get cool gifts and help out a member of our community, thus this special Thursday post.

As I told you all back in September, my friend MaryAnn Harris, wife of author Charles de Lint, has spent over the last year in the hospital, a victim of a rare tick-borne illness.  If you didn’t see my post, and would like more information, here’s a link.

Yes, Charles now has a Patreon, and a friend set up a GoFundMe.  However, the decision was made to set up an auction because then people could get something special in return for helping them out.  I’ve donated a few pieces of my own, and may add something more later.

That auction is what I was referring to when I mentioned a source of cool gifts.  It’s named for the artists’ commune that is at the center of de Lint’s seminal urban fantasy novel, Moonheart.  Items range from stocking stuffers to some very cool limited editions.

Here’s the official announcement about the auction.

Welcome to the TAMSON HOUSE ARTS FEST, an online auction in support of MaryAnn Harris & Charles de Lint.

The auction is now OPEN!

Please visit to join the festivities.

You’ll find original art, handmade crafts, signed books, your-name-in-a-story, instructional zoom sessions and so much more. And if you’re a de Lint collector you’ll want to pay close attention because there are some truly rare items up for auction with more coming soon.

Check back often — we’ll be adding new items throughout the month (up until November 23rd).

If you have any questions or suggestions, you can reach us at

Thank you all for your generous support & for joining us in this month-long celebration of Charles & MaryAnn & the incredible community they’ve built over the years. Thank you for shining on & celebrating Grace. 💙

“Keeping the Grace in this world. Maybe her light’s not as strong as it once was, maybe the world’s gotten darker since the first day, and it’s still getting darker but something’s shining on. In you. In me. Everywhere you look, if you take time to pay attention. So we’ve got two choices. We can let the darkness win, or we can celebrate the Grace and shine her light stronger.” – Charles de Lint, Someplace to Be Flying

Thank you for taking time to look at this special post.

Beastly Effort

October 5, 2022
Lots of Effort!

My continued efforts to get the hang of folding an origami crane continue to produce more “effort” than “crane,” but at least I have something else cheerful to report.

This coming Saturday, October 8, I’m doing a book event from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Beastly Books in Santa Fe.  Featured titles will be my new Over Where novels, Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge, as well as A New Clan, the newest Star Kingdom, Stephanie Harrington novel, written in collaboration with David Weber—and I have stickers signed by David Weber, so you’ll be able to have the book signed by both of us!

There will be a short talk, a reading, and a question-and-answer period.  I have lots of neat bookmarks, postcards, and buttons.

The store is located at 418 Montezuma Avenue.  For those of you concerned about parking, the bookstore is very close to the Santa Fe Railyard.  It looks as if the Rail Runner is up and (pardon the unavoidable pun), running with a full Saturday schedule.

This is my first book event in New Mexico for these three titles, unconnected with a convention.

Hope to see some of you there!

Oh!  If the bit about folding cranes is confusing, see last week’s Wandering!

Now, off to the writerly side of my writer’s life!

Mental Stretch

September 28, 2022
Dancer at Aki Matsuri

This past weekend, Jim and I took a break from the on-going tumult that has been our lives and went to Aki Matsuri, the Fall Festival hosted by the New Mexico Japanese-American Citizens League.

In the course of our several hour visit we walked around a lot, and visited various displays.  We talked with the bonsai growers, and chatted with a young man who does both digital art and traditional ink brush painting.  We sampled matcha (a frothed green tea), served after eating a citrus candy (sort of like a fruit gummi) “because matcha is bitter.”  We admired the ikebana, and got into a discussion of how combining roses and chrysanthemums gives a very New Mexico twist to an autumn arrangement.

In one of the display areas, a potter paused in spinning clay to encourage me to give yet one more try to folding an origami crane, assuring me that the person doing the demonstration was very good.  I knelt down on the floor and did my best with a square of purple paper.  It’s certainly not the best crane ever, but what will stay with me is the memory of the kindness of my sensei, as well as of how the potter, and the woman demonstrating tea ceremony, cheered us through fold after fold.

We also sat down and watched first a display of taiko drumming, then four Okinawan dances, then, finally, a cosplay exhibition.  These three demonstrations, so different from each other, were not only fascinating in themselves, but a vivid reminder of how much there is not only to Japanese culture, but to any culture.

I also did something very important for me as a writer.  By going to the festival and doing things I don’t usually do (including trying to fold that darn crane), I kept my creative brain from stiffening up.  It felt good to mentally stretch.  Almost without my willing it, I could feel new ways of looking at things taking shape.

Some of these will show up on the page almost immediately.  Others may shift around and take months, even years, to find their way into print.

And, y’know, I even feel encouraged to try folding another crane.

A Least Favorite Job

May 18, 2022
Words Into Terrain

Last week, I promised to reveal what is one of my least favorite jobs as a writer.  It’s making maps.

You’d think that as a long-time gamer, I’d have mapping down to a science.  I mean, I’ve been gaming since I was not quite eighteen, and have been running games for almost as long.  But, nope.  It doesn’t work that way.  Lately, when our games need more detail, gamer Rowan (also cover artist for Asphodel) takes my rough drawing and starts gridding.  She’s amazing that way.

I have no trouble envisioning the terrain in which my stories are set.  I just don’t seem to be able to draw it.  For many stories, I don’t need a map.  Maybe I can access real maps of the locations involved, as I did for Child of a Rainless Year or Thirteen Orphans and the other “Breaking the Wall” novels.  Or maybe the focus is tight enough or on something other than moving through a landscape, so I don’t need a map.

Or maybe I can get away with a very general map, noting where locations are in relation to other locations.  That’s what I did with the early Firekeeper novels, although later I needed more detailed maps.

So, what do I do when I need a detailed map?  I turn to my husband, Jim.  As many of you already know, Jim’s an archeologist, and making maps is a part of his professional tool kit.  The maps he draws are very detailed, and even include elevations, which is definitely useful when the challenge of crossing a bit of terrain is part of the story.

When Jim needs to help me out, I start by giving him a verbal portrait of the landscape, including the rationale behind various terrain features.  This narration is often accompanied by a rough map by me, drawn not with images, but with words.  Jim then translates this into a sketch, which, in turn, often reveals to me additional ramifications of the terrain.

Sometimes these ramifications even become plot points.

We’re still roughing out the current map, but you can get a glimpse of Jim’s work, as well as the very little he has to work from, in the accompanying photo.

Now, off to do what I like doing far more than I like cartography.  Writing!

I Still Have Questions

March 30, 2022
Our Yard Last Wednesday

But at least I have some answers… 

First, though a few public service announcements.

This Friday, April 1 (no fooling), I will be speaking at the meeting of the Albuquerque SF Society.  According to their official announcement:

“Jane Lindskold will talk to us about the three novels she has out from Baen Books this year – Library of the Sapphire Wind: Over Where Book 1 in February, Aurora Borealis Bridge: Over Where 2 in April, and A New Clan (Star Kingdom book) co-written with David Weber, in June.  She will definitely answer questions from attendees, and might even read a passage from the first Over Where novel.”

The meeting will begin at 7:30 pm (doors open at 7:15 pm) at St Andrew Presbyterian Church, 5301 Ponderosa Ave NE (between San Mateo & San Pedro, south of Montgomery – near Erna Ferguson Library).  See their website under Meetings for further information.

I will have a few nifty little things to give away… And if everyone has already read Library of the Sapphire Wind, I will read from Aurora Borealis Bridge.  And, of course, I’ll be very happy to sign your copies of the new books.  Or even older ones.  I’ll bring my colored pens.

In further news, my website,, has recently had some shiny new additions.  Among these was updating PayPal for the site’s bookshop.  If you’ve had difficulty ordering, you might want to try again.

In a Wednesday Wanderings a few weeks ago, I mentioned various things I was musing about.  One of these was when would the flickers vanish and the quail reappear.

 I am happy to announce that last Sunday we saw the first quail, and the flickers are still around, so evidently, they overlap.  We have also heard our first toads of the season.  Our neighbor’s apricot trees are in full bloom.  I guess it’s officially Spring.

As to another of those musings, I’ve decided that rather than having “gotten used to” fifty-degree temperatures shifts, I’ve simply come to rely on New Mexico’s weird weather as a source of amusement.  This last week was particularly good: Wednesday we had about four inches of snow; by Sunday, the temperature hit 87 F.

I haven’t gotten around to baking using rose water as an ingredient.  I’ll let you know if I do!

Our Yard on Sunday

Shy Mei-Ling and the Invader

December 29, 2021
Who’s Coming Down the Hallway?

My mom came for Christmas, our first overnight house guest since 2018.  Mei-Ling came to live with us in August of 2019, as a very shy fourteen-week-old kitten.  She had just begun to entertain the idea that people other than me and Jim in the house might be a good idea when the pandemic shutdown hit and she had the luxury of over a year to renew her opinion that visitors were not to be befriended, but to be waited out.

This was her tactic when Mom arrived on the 22nd.  Mei-Ling dove into the closet in our bedroom and refused to emerge, even for dinner.  When Mom settled down in the guest room, behind a closed door, Mei-Ling emerged, which is probably a good thing, since the litter box is not in our bedroom closet.

Roary, who also had never dealt with an overnight guest, was also uncertain.  At first, he hid in the closet with Mei-Ling, but by later on the 23rd, Roary (probably taking his cue from Persephone, for whom Mom is a longtime friend), began to join the party from a discreet distance.  By the morning of Christmas Eve, he even let Mom take his picture.

Maybe this is why, by mid-day on the 24th, Mei-Ling was at least up on our bed, and then, by evening, when we settled down to play mah-jong, actually came out to the front of the house.  It’s not as much fun to lurk and hide all by oneself as with another cat, and she and Roary are great friends.

Christmas Day, Roary came to look at the boxes and wrapping paper, while Mei-Ling lurked at the edges.  Coming out of the back of the house had advantages, especially since if she skittered fast enough, she could go out on the porch, which she loves, and watch what went on in the kitchen from behind the security of a closed sliding glass door.

By the 26th, both Mei-Ling and Roary were behaving relatively normally.  When we settled in for our evening mah-jong game, Mei-Ling actually started meowing, trying to get either Jim or me to come into the living room and play with her.  She’s really quite out-going when she forgets she’s shy.

And on the 27th, Mom departed for her home.  Now we’re waiting to see how Mei-Ling will behave when we have guests next time.  Will she have learned that “stranger” does not equal “danger” or will she try to wait them out?

We’re going to be playing mah-jong later this week with our friend Michael Wester.  I wonder if the clatter of tiles will encourage Mei-Ling to come out and try to tempt us to play with her instead of with those noisy plastic tiles.