Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Hail and Fairing Well?

May 31, 2023
Hail-Damaged Lily Pads

Before I give you an update on our hail-battered yard and garden, I have a bit of news.  Last week I learned that my three Over Where books (Library of the Sapphire Wind; Aurora Borealis Bridge; House of Rough Diamonds) will be coming out as audiobooks from Trantor Media.

I haven’t been told which reader has been assigned so, obviously, I can’t give you a release date.  What I can tell you is that I’m delighted.  I’m a long-time audiobook junkie, and Trantor has been one of my favorite studios for quite a long time.

Now for our hail-battered garden…  We’re still finding little pockets of damage, but overall we got off lightly, especially given how hard we were hit.  The hardest hit was the tomato I’d been growing indoors, that I’d just moved outside to start the “hardening off” process.  Needless to say, this was a bit more hard hardening that had been intended.  We’re still not certain if it will pull through.

Second candidate were the peppers we’d finally transplanted from their containers into the garden.  At this point, we think they’ll all come through, but they’re very fragile.  A few had all their leaves beaten off and are coming back from the stems.  This will doubtlessly slow down their producing fruit, but I doubt you need to ask why I’m not just pulling them and getting new plants.

(Hint: It has nothing to do with availability or cost of new plants.)

Numerous other plants have holes in their leaves, and it will be a while before the lily pads in our teeny little pond look nearly as pretty as they did.  Also, without the cover they were giving, we’re getting another run of algae.

The snapdragons that were featured last week with their planters full of hail lost some blossoms, but are making a comeback.

We also may need to replant squash seeds in some areas, as we’re not seeing the germination we would expect.  It’s possible they were exposed by the hail and birds got to them.

But the view out of my window shows lots of promise, and that inspires me to keep going.  This week I’m working on the final touches of my part of SK5 (the fifth Star Kingdom novel, which I co-write with David Weber) although I may need to put this aside to work on the proofs of House of Rough Diamonds.  Better get to it!  Catch you later…


FF: Business Done

May 12, 2023
Roary Ears a Good Book

With the copyedit of House of Rough Diamonds turned in, I’ve returned to working on SK5 (the yet-untitled next book in the Star Kingdom series).  I’ve also had some time to read for pleasure.

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.  I love seeing the tapestry of what people choose.


Singing the Shrouds by Ngaio Marsh.  A nice variation on the “country house” murder mystery, with the setting shifted to a cargo ship.  Another I hadn’t read.

In the Palace of Shadow and Joy by D. J. Butler.  If you like old-fashioned sword and sorcery with lots of action, wild description, and two amiable—if occasionally clueless—protagonists, I think you’ll like this book.

In Progress:

A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Bujold does an amazing job playing a variety of plotlines off each other.  This novel is as complex and elegant as an elaborate Regency Dance.  And, in case you’re wondering, what I thought of the butter bugs, I only wish they were real and I could have a colony, even if only the ostensibly “ugly” early version..

Between Princesses and Other Jobs by D.J. Butler.  A collection of short stories featuring Indrajit and Fix, the amiable would-be heroes of In the Palace of shadow and Joy.


“Gorgopotomos Bridge” by Harry Turtledove.  A short story with a very interesting narrator.

“Best Laid Plans” by David Weber.  Honor meets Nimitz.

The most recent Vogue.

Reseeding and Series

May 3, 2023
Blue Flax

Our blue flax is now flowering sufficiently that I can see the blossoms from my office window.  These small flowers (about the size of a nickel) need a bit of shade, so we only have this one patch.  However, they must like where they are, because they’ve reseeded.  We have some new plants started a stalk’s length away.  Don’t know if they’ll flower this year or wait until next, but it’s always fun to find out.

Series can grow by reseeding, too.  That’s what happened with my forthcoming book, House of Rough Diamonds.  After I finished the story told in Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge, I started wondering.  Who actually owns the Library?  My characters put a lot of work into finding the place.  They’ve come to think of it as their main base, but do they actually have any right to it?

From these seeds, the new story sprouted and blossomed forth. Oh, and it gave me a great excuse to explore what’s hiding within the deeper reaches of the Library!  This, I will admit, is how I tend to write series.  It’s a format that works well for my temperament and my sort of creativity.  I enjoy the serendipitous, the surprise, the challenge of the unexpected.

The copy edit for House of Rough Diamonds showed up in my inbox on Monday morning, and I’m working my way through it this week.  Better get back to it.  It’s due out in early September, and I certainly don’t want to be the one to cause a delay!

By Purest Chance

April 26, 2023
First Iris

Spring flowering took a few baby steps forward the past week.  We now have three purple iris blossoming, and will probably have both purple and yellow flowers before the end of the week.  The first blue flax has opened.

The tomato seeds I planted still aren’t doing what I’d hoped they’d be doing by now.  I think this is due to the much colder than usual nighttime temperatures.  By purest chance, I have a comparison.  The evening of the day I planted the tomato seeds in my outdoor starter bed, I found a seed I’d missed on the kitchen table.  Rather than putting it back in the envelope, I put it in the pot of basil I have on my kitchen windowsill.

(Yes.  I am familiar with John Keats’s poem “Isabella, or the Pot of Basil.”  No fear, no one was harmed in the planting of this basil.  I was simply t lonely for a plant to watch, and started this one over the winter.)

Anyhow, the indoor seed sprouted within ten days.  The sprout has grown, and is even thinking about producing a true leaf.  Of the seeds planted outdoors, only one or two have sprouted, and the seedlings have remained small.  This is quite counter to my past experiences with starting seeds in this bed.

Why do I start the seeds outside?  I’ve started seeds indoors many times.  However, probably because of our extreme shifts of temperature, the young plants don’t take well to being “hardened off.”  Until this year, I’ve had fairly good luck starting tomato plants in this one sheltered corner outside.  I haven’t given up hope yet.

Why do I grow plants from seed?  The varieties I’m trying are not widely available as bedding plants.  They’re grown from heirloom seeds, of plants that have been shown to do well in the higher summer heat we’ve been having these last few years.

On that note, I’m off to the planet Sphinx where Spring is moseying along through its fifteen and a bit Terran month cycle, the crown oaks are changing their foliage, and the treecats are getting ready to have kittens.

Take care!

What a Spectacle!

April 19, 2023
Spectacle Pod Near the Temple of the Toad

One of the many wildflowers (some would call them “weeds”) that Jim and I let go in our yard is the spectacle pod.  Named for its seed pods, which look somewhat like a pale green set of opera glasses, these roughly foot high plants grow with very little encouragement and no need to be watered.  They start flowering about this time of year with blossoms lasting for about a month.  Then they produce seeds that the birds enjoy.  Finally, they wither into something ragged and brown that we pull.

After we pull the spectacle pod plants, we often put the dead plants in an out of the way corner of the yard, so the birds can continue foraging for a while more.  The seeds can be eaten by humans as well.  I’ve tried them.  They’re somewhat spicy but, not (to my tastebuds at least) particularly yummy.  I guess they’re best “for the birds.”

Slowly but surely, our yard is acknowledging that maybe, just maybe, we’re done with winter.  Jim and I have been going out at night to see the toads in our tiny pond.  The record thus far is six.

When I’m not enjoying my yard, I’ve been writing away on SK5.  Like the garden, the novel doesn’t seem to be growing very fast.  However, when I compare what I have done by the end of the week to where I started, I can see the changes.

Honestly, being a gardener, especially one who frequently grows plants from seed, and being a novelist have a lot in common, don’t they?

We’re Finally…

April 5, 2023
Butterfly Princess Mei-Ling

I think that here in New Mexico, it’s finally more Spring than Winter.  This means it’s really blustery out there.  However, there is green among the browns and golden brown.  The apricot tree whose blossoms were featured in last week’s WW is now without blossoms, largely courtesy of the wind.

We’ve seen a toad or two, but the nightly chorus has not yet begun.  We’re leaving some of the plants and leaves in place to give the toads cover, until the bunch grasses and other plants come back.

I’ve put off starting tomato seeds, because our nighttime temps can still get pretty low, but I think I’ll start them by this weekend.  I have cleared my little starter bed of last year’s leftovers, added half a bag of mushroom compost, and started moistening the area.  Our base “soil” is pretty much sand, which is great for drainage, but, well, “great for drainage” means getting it moist after it reverted to dust over the winter is not easy.

Writingwise, I’m working on SK5 (the next Star Kingdom book, next in sequence after last year’s release, A New Clan).  It’s shaping up pretty nicely.  One of the best things, for me, is that since there hasn’t been nearly as long a lag between this book and A New Clan, as there was between A New Clan and Treecat Wars, the setting and characters are very much alive in my imagination.

This week’s Wanderings features is Mei-Ling, our shy girl—although not with me and Jim.  Last weekend, she actually came out very briefly when our gamers were here, and stopped to look at them for one long moment.  We’re hoping this is the beginning of further courageous forays into the unknown.

On the other hand, we’re also scheduled to have work done on our roof sometime this month or in early May.  The sounds of mysterious monsters up on high may undo all our good work!

Off to mess about with the treecats…  Catch you later!

Hi There

March 29, 2023
Flowering Apricot and New Mexico Sky

I don’t have a heck of a lot new to offer this week.  Here in my little corner of New Mexico, Spring looks a lot like Winter, then like Spring, then like Winter…  Often within a couple of hours.

Since most of Jim’s and my garden is dedicated to native plants, we don’t have a lot of early Spring flowers, because native plants are too smart to blossom.  The flowers in the photo a few lines up are from our neighbor’s apricot tree which, despite snow and sleet and hail and freezing rain (all within two hours last Friday) still manages to stay in bloom.

I’ve turned in my latest short story, “The Owl’s Cry,” and I’ll tell you more about where you can find it when the time comes.  I’m back to working on the fifth Star Kingdom/Stephanie Harrington novel, which I’m writing in collaboration with David Weber.  Stephanie’s seventeenth birthday is about to happen, and with it a lot of changes in her life.

What else?  Our roof was damaged by high winds, and we’re getting a new one.  That is certain to drive our cats to distraction.  When I got back from the grocery store this morning, I found Persephone—usually the boldest and brassiest of our three cats—transformed into a lump under the bedspread, because the estimator was walking around our roof.

Jim’s now able to use his fancy camera for photos, and is doing really well in his recovery from total shoulder replacement just about two months ago.

If any of you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the Comments.  Maybe one will become next week’s WW!


March 22, 2023
Regular and Snack-Sized!

When I mentioned to someone that Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge were out/coming out soon in mass market paperback, she looked puzzled.

“I thought the originals were paperbacks?”

“Those were the bigger paperbacks: trade paperbacks.”

“Oh!  The snack-sized,” she replied, revelation dawning.  After we both finished laughing, she went on to say apologetically, “I’m sorry.  I haven’t read those yet.  I’m not really into kids’ books.”

“They aren’t kids’ books,” I said.  “I mean, there’s no graphic violence.  Except for one scene in Aurora Borealis Bridge, anything sexual is more implied than shown.  But I wouldn’t say they’re kids’ books.  The material is a lot more than ‘coming of age,’ themes, unless you consider the fact that three of my characters are learning that being over fifty doesn’t mean life is over.”

“But colors on the covers,” she protested, “and the animal people.  That’s what made me think they were for kids.”

I swallow a really, really deep sigh, because I like this person.  “The coloring on the covers is because that’s the color of the aurora borealis.  Now, I realize that­—unless they’re presented as aliens, like the Kzin—a lot of people do demote anything with animals or animal people, but…”

“I wasn’t demoting!”

“Assuming?  Whatever.  I’d hoped that given how I handled wolves and intelligent animals in the Firekeeper Saga, I’d gotten beyond this assumption.  It’s weird.  There’s a long mythic history of animal people that is definitely not for kids.  Would you say fauns and satyrs are for kids?”

“With all the sexual stuff?  No!  My aunt has a cup she bought in Greece with a satyr… “The description that followed was definitely not G.  Or P.G.  I’m not sure about R.  Might not have been R, either.

“Okay.  How about Anubis or Thoth or Bastet?

“The Egyptian gods? No…”

“Or various representations of Coyote or Raven?”

“I get your point…”

“Then I’ll stop lecturing.  Promise.  But there are a lot more examples.  And, teaser time…  This actually has something to do with the story.”

“And I’ll give the books a try…”

So, there you have it…  Library of the Sapphire Wind, Aurora Borealis Bridge, soon to be followed by House of Rough Diamonds.  Available in trade paperback, e-book, and soon the “snack-sized” version at the book seller of your choice!

The Reality

March 15, 2023
Mei-Ling Multitasks

This week began with my turning in the short story that has been obsessing me for the last several weeks.  The title is “The Owl’s Cry,” and I’ll let you know if it is accepted, as well as where you may be able to find it.

With Bei and Fu and the fate of the five aunties no longer crowding my brain, I’ll be sliding back into the further adventures of Stephanie Harrington and associates in the yet-untitled fifth Star Kingdom novel, which I’m writing in collaboration with David Weber.  A New Clan (aka SK4 for those of you who have been reading these Wanderings since that book didn’t have a title either) is now available in a wide variety of formats, including hard cover, ebook, audiobook, and pretty soon now, mass market paperback.

Of course, somewhere in there, my writing on SK5 is likely to be interrupted as the next Over Where novel, House of Rough Diamonds, goes into production.

What?  Don’t know about Over Where?  It begins with Library of the Sapphire Wind and continues in Aurora Borealis Bridge, available in trade paperback, ebook, and, soon, mass market paperback.  We’re hoping for an audiobook, too.  Nag your favorite audiobook producers so they know you want it!  House of Rough Diamonds carries on the story.

Anyhow, that is the reality of being a professional writer, rather than a happy hobbyist.  You have numerous projects—all of which you’re likely very attached to in one way or another—competing with each other for your time, each with its own deadline.

So, off to see what Stephanie wants to get up to next.  Later!

Still Inside Out

March 1, 2023
Persephone Tanked

My life is still rather like a cat in the guinea pig tank: more than a little crazy.

However, it’s not bad.  Jim’s shoulder is healing nicely, and he should move to out-patient PT this week.

I’ve found time to write, splitting my efforts between a short story with an upcoming deadline and the next of the Star Kingdom novels with David Weber.

I even saw a coyote out for his constitutional when I was coming home with the groceries. 

Now, off to do a bit of research, then back to writing.