Archive for the ‘Random Wanderings’ Category

FF: Interpretations

September 4, 2020

Persephone Reads

As I was writing this, I realized that much of what I’m reading right now deals with the ways different points of view shape how events and people are portrayed.

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.

A reminder that I’m always happy to hear what you are reading!

Recently Completed:

Dark Whisper by Bruce Coville.  Third book in the Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  Nearly forgotten secrets revealed.  A very tense book, well done.

Expecting Someone Taller by Tom Holt.  A re-read, impulse chosen because I felt like smart humor.  This book contains the single funniest and yet oddly sensible summary of Wagner’s Ring Cycle ever.  Loved it all over again.

In Progress:

The Last Hunt by Bruce Coville.  Fourth book in the Unicorn Chronicles.  Audiobook.  An immediate sequel to the prior.  I saw that this series is being re-released.

The title is deception but The Bible As History by Werner Keller.  This book’s title in the original German was Und die bible hat doch rechet which translates as closer to “And the Bible is Right” with “Right” in the sense of “Accurate.”  This comes closer to reflecting the intention of the book, which was to compare biblical texts with then current archeological research and see how many passages in the Bible provide good guides to cultures and landscape features of the time.  Needless to say, since the book was published in 1955, more recent discoveries have invalidated some material, but this is still a very enjoyable read, excellently and fluidly translated by William Neil.

Also:

Smithsonian Magazine.  Nice assortment of articles so far.

FF: Sidetracked!

August 7, 2020

DreamForge Among the Identified Mystery Plant

While looking for a completely different gardening book, this week I got sidetracked.  But, happily, most of the time my reading isn’t homework, so I can switch as I wish.

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:

Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville.  First book in the four volume Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  I enjoyed enough that I’m now on to Book Two.

A Place at Mother Earth’s Table: Edible Wild Plants of the Rio Grande Region by Lisa W. Huckell. This slim book—probably technically a booklet—was so well written that I read all of it and in the process identified one of the plants in our yard as “Green Thread” aka “Indian Tea” or “Navajo Tea.”  We’d just been calling it “that pretty plant w/the yellow pom-poms.”  I now have some drying to try.  And the bibliography led me to read…

In Progress:

Wild Plants of the Pueblo Province: Exploring Ancient and Enduring Uses by William W. Dunmire and Gail D. Tierney.  Centered around four parks in New Mexico, this books looks at various plants and how they were used by a wide variety of indigenous peoples.  Since one of the parks—Petroglyph National Monument—is very close to my house, I also ended up identifying several more of the plants in our yard, including scorpion weed, which is a far easier name to use than “that annoying plant that, although it has pretty purple flowers in the spring, gets all prickly and, worse, sticky, so let’s pull it.”  I started with the chapter on types of plants, but found the book so well-written, I’m reading the whole thing.

Song of the Wanderer by Bruce Coville.  Second book in the Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  So far, I’m enjoying.

DreamForge Magazine, issue six.  My copy arrived and is part of my relaxation reading.

Also:

I’ve finished my read-through of SK4, and am now doing lots of line edits.  I hope to finish and give Jim his copy later today.

Tuesday “Tah-Dah”!

August 4, 2020

Roary: Officially Ours

We have been informed that Roary the kitten, who came to us as a seven week-old medical foster from the City of Albuquerque’s shelter, is now officially ours!

He’s about 19 weeks old now.  When he came to live with us, he was recovering from a gloved left hind leg.  When the time came for him to be neutered, he turned out to have a cryptic testicle.  This meant that what should have been a very routine surgery turned out to be a bit more complex and include ten days of isolation post-surgery.  If you’ve ever tried to keep a four month old kitten from jumping, leaping, and racing…

Let’s just say, we did our best.  And our best seems to have been enough.

Welcome, Roary!

FF: Ebbing

July 24, 2020

Persephone Recommends

As Jim gets better, Roary the kitten recovers from a complex neuter, and elderly Kwahe’e holds his ground, I feel my stress levels ebbing.  And, as a bonus, we had rain!

One of the books on this week’s list is an indirect recommendation from an FF reader, who recommended Skyward.  I never would have tried it without her, so thank you!

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 Estate of the Beckoning Lady by Margery Allingham.  A jump to a later part of the series.  I love her quirky characters.

In Progress:

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson.  Sequel to Skyward.  Space opera that isn’t military SF, even though military action is an element.  Very character driven.

The Age of Faith by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Non-fiction.  The Crusades.  Pure depression.

Also:

I’m also spending a lot of time doing my first pass read-through of SK4.  So far, I’m enjoying!  This is not a lack of modesty on my part.  If I can’t enjoy what I wrote, how can I expect anyone else to do so?

Life’s Been… And a New Story, Too!

July 15, 2020

Persphone: One of Jim’s Caregivers

Since the beginning of July, my ultra-quiet, writing-focused life has had more than a few disruptions.

I’ll spare you the ups and downs of sick pets, temperatures of over 105 that started cooking the garden, and the advent of squash bugs.  Instead, I’ll focus in on the event that was the straw that nearly broke this camel’s back.

On Monday, July 6, Jim went into the hospital to be treated for a severe urinary tract infection complicated by extremely low sodium.

It’s never great to have one’s partner in the hospital but, because of restrictions due to Covid-19, I couldn’t go into the Urgent Care clinic with him.  I’d taken him the previous Sunday, when he started feeling unwell, and since he was running a fever, even he couldn’t go in.  On Monday, when he went back, he wasn’t running a fever…  Then.

(Yes, he’s been tested for Covid-19, and came up negative.  That pretty much means that, as of that testing, I was negative, too.)

We didn’t learn until Tuesday that I could visit him at the hospital.  Visitors were restricted to one per day.  Not one at a time.  One per day.  New Mexico has been very careful, and I am grateful for this.

Anyhow, Jim came home on Wednesday, mid-afternoon.  He’s not well, but he’s getting better.  However, for now, I’m without someone to run the errands at a time where there are more errands to be run.  This has a ripple effect down the line, up to and including hitting my immersing myself into polishing the manuscript of SK4, the yet-untitled fourth book in the Star Kingdom series I’m writing with David Weber.  Not only do I have less time, I’m really, really wrung out.

The situation would be worse, but I had fantastic support from various friends who helped with getting Roary the kitten to the vet for his booster shots, picking up groceries, delivering packages to the post office, and suchlike.

On a more cheerful note, I have a new short story out!  “The Problem with Magic Rings” appears in DreamForge, issue 6.  It features the same characters as in  “A Familiar’s Predicament,” which was featured in the anthology Sword and Sorceress 33 back in 2018.

Although the illustration makes “The Problem With Magic Rings” look like a kid’s story, it has more in common with adventure tales and sword and sorcery, such as Fritz Leiber’s stories about Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, where a sprinkling of the outrageous enlivens clashing swords and creative spells.  The narrator is a very tiny dragon…

You can learn more about subscribing to DreamForge here.  They’ve just revised the website, so you can see what else is featured in issue six, as well as in prior issues.

Enjoy!

Our Bold Band

Wrangling Chaos

July 8, 2020

His Majesty, Quail

Let’s just say that last week (or even ten days) has not gone according to anyone’s vaguest idea of a plan.

So I’m going to give you a picture of a quail, then go try and wrangle chaos factors.

Later!

Very Brief, Very Long

July 1, 2020

At Fourteen Weeks Roary Is Getting Very Long

I wrote about forty pages between Monday and Friday of last week, then took the weekend off to organize my thoughts while I let my aching fingers rest.  Now I’m eager to write the concluding parts of the rough, rough draft of the yet untitled fourth book in the Star Kingdom series that I’m currently writing with David Weber.

If you’re feeling like a longer visit with me, I suggest you look at the interview that’s just been published on the Krypton Radio site.  Ivan Majstorovic’s questions were quite interesting, and far from formulaic.  In the course of our rambling discussion, we touched on a wide variety of topics, including getting kids to read, literary versus popular fiction, collaboration, and a bit about my time with Roger Zelazny.

So, enjoy.  Now, I’m off to the planet Sphinx.

FF: Growing Up

June 26, 2020

Roary: Still Growing Up

Sometimes I mention that I’m reading a book not yet in print, and that I’ll tell you when it’s available.  That’s the case with Growing Up Meathead by James B. Zimmerman.  See under “Also” for more about this thoughtful not-just-for-kids 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:

Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce.  Audiobook.  Sequel to Trickster’s Choice.  Not a lightweight read, despite an overload of cute monsters.  I cried several times…

Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers.  Also published as The Dawson Pedigree.

In Progress:

The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan.  Audiobook.  Trials of Apollo, four.

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers.  As with her prior novel, a story in which timing is a key element.

Also:

Growing Up Meathead is a series of interconnected short stories based on the author’s own experiences as a boy figuring out what sort of person he wants to be.  “Meathead” is a well-earned nickname because, if there’s a dumb choice to make, Jimmy will make it.

Jimmy’s not a bad kid, a mad kid, nor is this one of those “problem” books that turned me off to so much in the “kids’ book” category, since every kid seemed to be dealing with Big Issues like drug abuse, gangs, or sexual abuse.  This is a book about being a kid: about dealing with peer pressure, about having a logic system with priorities completely alien to an adult mind.

The illustrations are by the author and, as the cover shows, don’t glamorize either Jimmy nor his life.  A bonus for me was that Jimmy is growing up in the same part of Maryland where I spent my summers!  (No, I didn’t know him then.)

FF: When Do You Read?

June 19, 2020

Mei-Ling and Roary Battle For the Throne!

Most of my reading these days takes place during a half-hour coffee break in the afternoon, and a little reading before bed.  Audiobooks are getting their major workout over the weekend when I’m doing crafts.  When do you read?

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:

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater.  Audiobook.  While marketed as the first book in a new series, really one needs to have read the four volume Raven Cycle to get the full impact of this novel.  That caveat aside, I enjoyed it.

The Documents in the Case by Dorothy L. Sayers with Robert Eustace.  A collaboration in which the collaborator provided the science behind the intricate mystery plot.

Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers.   Complex plot with lashings of melodrama for flavor.

In Progress:

Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce.  Audiobook.  Sequel to Trickster’s Choice.  Not a lightweight read, despite an overload of cute monsters.

Also:

New magazines have come in, but I can’t figure out which one I want to read…

Thursday Triva

June 18, 2020

Summer Squash in Bloom

This is a picture of one of our summer squash in bloom.  We quite admire them, and appreciate that soon we’ll have the basis for a delicious stir-fry or curry!

There’s a common southwestern jewelry pattern called a “squash blossom” that, in fact, doesn’t depict a squash blossom at all.

Do you know what flower it actually is depicted on a squash blossom necklace?