The Door, My New Novella, is Now Available on Amazon

The Door is now available on AmazonMy novella,The Door, is now available on Amazon, for just $.99.

Follow the adventures of Liz and her friends Jon and Rob as they get drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding a marvelous door that Liz has spied on a walk. The door is bright green, covered with intricate carvings, and has dragons carved around the doorknob – dragons that move if you take your eyes away for a few seconds.

Danger, magic and mystery await the three – things that will change the way they look at the world forever!

Ideas of Seeds

Yellow pansy from my gardenMy mind knows that, despite the warm-ish (above freezing) days during the past week, spring in Laramie is still very far away. My mind knows that, and reluctantly accepts it. My heart, however, is just sure spring is near.

It didn’t help that GeekMom had an entry about heirloom seeds today. That set me off. A quick perusal of several linked websites had me salivating. Vegetables, flowers and herbs, oh my! The pictures and descriptions flowed around in my mind in a heady mix of color and potential.

Now, it’s still January. It’s also Laramie, with 7200 feet of altitude. I know that we are in for snow, days and days of below freezing weather, possibly some below zero weather, and a whole lot of just plain cold before spring actually starts sometime around the middle of May. (Yes, it comes late here.) But the idea of brightly colored growing things that smell good won’t let go of me. All I can think about are the starter flats hoarded in my back room, and seeds germinating in the warmth of the sunshine coming in through the windows, ready to be transplanted when frosty days are almost done.

I have some seeds already. (I know they aren’t as good the second year, but I should be able to get enough to germinate for my purposes.) Pansies, petunias, lavender and several other flowering plants will be started as soon as it is feasible.

I want to get a few new plants, too. Some Russian sage – it is beautiful, does nicely with our dry climate and very poor soil, and attracts bees like mad. I will need to get that as plants-already-begun from a nursery, though, because it is apparently a very slow germinator. Two or three of those will be lovely in my front yard. And I want to try borage. I haven’t had that before, but it is a flowering herb that, once again, attracts bees. I like bees – I learned long ago that the little honeybees and big bumblebees generally won’t hurt you unless you hurt them first. (Yes, I learned this the hard way as a very small child. Do not kick the nice bumblebee in the clover with your bare foot. He doesn’t appreciate it.) And we can’t – acutally can’t – do without them to pollinate the crops that feed us.

I am also looking at short-season vegetables like early tomatoes (they go in a huge pot on my back deck) and lettuces of different varieties. Maybe I’ll have some peas this year, too, and one website had some early melons that looked delightful. You have to be careful about growing seasons when your last frost is usually in June and your first one is in September at the latest. Starting plants inside well before the last frost and picking quick producers is a no-brainer where I live.

I have bulbs that come up in all of the flower beds first thing in the spring. Daffodils, mostly, with some tulips and a few other flowers. But mostly daffodils because I love them. The wildflowers start blooming not long after the bulbs put in an appearance; most of my garden is actually given over to wildflowers. They are amazingly hardy and drought-tolerant, both necessities here.

I have a few places where I will put the annuals that I plan to start inside, and a few places I can grow some select veggies.

I also have some areas that I am slowly dedicating to hardy perennials; just a few each year, the varieties dependent on my budget and inclination at the time.

Gardening is an ongoing thing, and plans change and evolve from year to year. A garden grows like a good story, building from one thing to another until you have something beautiful and fulfilling. Unlike a written story, though, it is never done. There is always something to change in a garden, and that just makes it even more intriguing.

Last year, I had a busy March and forgot to start the seeds. Boy, was I mad at myself when June rolled around and I didn’t have bedding plants to set out. I know I can buy them, but it’s more expensive that way, and not nearly as satisfying. This year, though – this year, I will start those seeds and my garden will glow with color.

So I will wait and dream through more than a few additional weeks of cold, snow, and deceptive days that get my hopes up, and plan a bit more, and then I will start my flats of seeds – new life, new potential, in a new year.

Been There…

I read the other day on GeekMom that author Peter David had a stroke right before New Year’s. He is in a rehab facility now, after a while in the hospital. I was disturbed by the news, of course, and did what his wife requested – I went out and bought some of his e-books, to help the family with medical expenses. (Even after insurance, medical catastrophes like this are not cheap.) You can do the same. Here is what his website says:

The most direct way is to buy his books from Crazy 8 Press (via ComicMix) or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble websites. These are books that he gets the money from directly and the most per book.

His current Crazy 8 Press books are:

Pulling Up Stakes Part 1
Pulling Up Stakes Part 2 (Brand new)
This is one novel broken into two pieces. This is the cover blurb
Sick of vampire books? Movies? TV shows? Yeah. So are we. Sick of the entire unlife of vampires? Yeah. So is Vince Hammond. Unfortunately, Vince is in it up to his (wait for it) neck. Because Vince is a young vampire hunter who lives with his vampire hunter mother in an entire community of vampire hunters, who in turn are part of a cult of vampire hunters going back all the way to the French Revolution, which many believe to be an uprising of the poor against the rich but was actually a massive purging of vampires from the French nobility (hence the guillotine)

The Camelot Papers
A powerful ruler who’s considered by many to be simple-minded and vacuous and has serious father issues. A no-nonsense, polarizing woman who favors pants suits and pursues dubious agendas involving social needs. A remarkably magnetic leader of men with a reputation as a skirt-chaser. A scheming, manipulative adviser who is constantly trying to control public perceptions. A man seen as the next, great hope for the people, except there are disputes over his background and many contend he’s not what he appears to be.
George W? Hillary and Bill? Karl Rove? Obama?
Try Arthur Pendragon, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, and Galahad.
Whatever you think of the state of today’s politics, The Camelot Papers shows you just how little matters have changed in the past thousand years or so. The Camelot Papers presents a fresh perspective on Arthurian legend by using modern day sensibility and combining it with a classic tale to bring a new insight into iconic characters.

The Hidden Earth Saga of which there are two published and the third is in the works.

Darkness of the Light (book 1 of the Hidden Earth saga)
Height of the Depths (Book 2 of the Hidden Earth saga)

These are science fiction mixed with mythological creatures and the fate of the Universe hangs in the balance. Big epic sweeping books with those great characters that Peter is famous for writing.

There are Print on Demand for all these books if you want a paper copy rather than electronic.

They ask that you buy these books specifically because they produce the most revenue for Peter and his family.

I was reading David’s wife, Kathleen’s, updates, and, while concerned, I was doing fine until I read one specific entry. Then I cried. Kathleen asked, “How do you tell a ten-year-old that her father may never be the same?”

I was that child, forty-two years ago. The circumstances were a little different, granted; I was eleven and it was my mother who had the stroke, but I remember the adults in my world struggling with that question even as I asked it. Would my mother be able to do things she used to? Would she once more be the same Mom I had always known? I asked it again and again, and was always told that they didn’t know.

It was a pivotal point in my life.

In our small town, my mother did not benefit from immediate physical therapy, and her stroke, a massive one caused by a blood clot, affected her left side. Eventual physical therapy (begun over a month later) gave her the ability to walk with a brace and cane, though her left hand and arm never regained any use, but she eventually returned to teaching math from a wheelchair. She lived another forty full, busy years, dying two years ago at the age of eighty-nine.

My family found that we have to work with what life hands us, and nothing ever remains the same for any length of time. Some changes are just pressed on us more quickly than others.

When I read of Peter David’s wife struggling with how to tell their youngest child about her father, I could not stop the tears. I wanted to hug them both, and tell them that I understood in a very personal way.

From the blog entries, it sounds as though he is on the road to recovery, with time and physical therapy. I am glad for them from the bottom of my heart. Now, please go and buy a book or two – both to help them out and because the books are good!

My Dream Caught Up with Me

When I was eight or nine, back in the 1960’s, I tried to invent an e-reader.

The one I envisioned was a simple back-lit screen that would allow a reader to view a page on a roll of film, scrolling along to read the book. Nothing fancy, but I was intrigued by the idea. Is it any wonder that I embraced the new technology whole-heartedly when it became reality?

My idea came about like this. My father had a workshop in our garage, and he put together a little workbench for me, at an appropriate height, with smaller versions of real hand tools and lots of wood scraps and other junk that he thought I would like. I spent a large amount of time out there, trying to invent things that I had the imagination, but not the skill, to create. Among the junk Dad had given me were several open-topped metal boxes, about eight inches on a side and four inches deep. (Since Dad was an electrician, I imagine they were some sort of circuit boxes, but they were the source of many hours of entertainment for me and my imagination.)

Even back then I was a voracious reader. Something about the metal box spoke to me, and I could just see a spool of book mounted on the box, scrolled along as one read. And I knew, to my dismay, that I did not have to ability to make what I imagined.

I told my mother what I wished I could make, and she laughed a bit – who would want to buy a book that you had to use something else to read? I still thought it was a good idea.

Perhaps a decade later, I read one of James H. Schmitz’s Telzey Amberdon stories, and in it, I found my reader. Telzey had entire law library on book spools, which she read on her viewer. A whole library in her travel bag! Now that was what I was talking about! But it still did not exist in the real world.

I had to wait another few decades for that.

I felt a very personal sense of triumph when e-readers became available. Two years ago, I got mine. It did not take me long to start stuffing it with books. My only regret is that I don’t have a larger book budget!

Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy my traditional books, and read quite a few, especially from the public library. My house is still filled with books. (I think my family gave me the e-reader to cut down on at least some of the stacks of books in the house.) But now I can carry my library, or at least a portion of it, with me in my purse.

It’s everything I imagined at the age of nine, and more. Never mind that I didn’t end up inventing the thing personally. I still have a personal sense of triumph at the success of e-readers – a dream of mine come true.

A Joint Effort – ‘Dreaming of a Zombie Christmas’

Dreaming of a Zombie Christmas book coverChristmas is a family time. And in our house, we celebrate family times with family activities – like putting out a book of zombie Christmas stories.

My husband Pat has decided to join me in the world of fiction.

Pat isn’t new to writing; he is a journalist – although for the last few years a natural knack with computers and the internet has taken his job in a slightly different direction. But he has kept his hand in, and now he has written some fiction that he is choosing to publish with some of mine. I am delighted.

Pat has been right there all along, encouraging me first to write, and then to publish.

He is also the one who introduced me to the delights of speculative fiction, lo, those many years ago.

It was the spring of 1977. I was a freshman at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I had sipped from the cup of fantasy fiction with Oz, Narnia, fairy tales, Middle Earth and myths, but that was about it. And then I met this guy…

Pat eventually took me with him to the comic book store in Boulder, Mile High, which, at that time, was a storefront that also carried an incredible selection of science fiction and fantasy, both new and used, along with comic books, both mainstream and the underground comics of that era  (like ElfQuest – which I collected – and Mr. Natural and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.)

Speculative fiction was exploding, and it was all there on the shelves waiting for me.

And Pat was more than happy to make suggestions from his favorites.

I was sunk, and never even knew what hit me. Thanks to Pat, I was soon reading Niven and Pournelle and Heinlein. I wandered the back alleys of Lankhmar with Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. I found Anne McCaffrey and Patricia McKillip and Katherine Kurtz, and a friend introduced me to Roger Zelazny’s Amber series. I was no longer sipping from that cup of science fiction and fantasy, I was guzzling from it and coming back for refills. I haven’t stopped since. I have veered more into the reading of fantasy, over the years, but other than that, I haven’t slowed down. And what I have chosen to write is primarily fantasy.

Eventually, we decided to combine our book collections – and our lives – and proceeded to add to both books and family. Four kids and a basement full of books later…

When I actually decided to start putting my stories down a few years ago, Pat was right there, cheering me on and doing anything he thought would encourage me. He was thinking about a few stories himself, but wasn’t quite ready to jump into writing fiction. We had some really fun brainstorming sessions, and I decided to start encouraging him to write down his ideas, too.

With the collection Dreaming of a Zombie Christmas, we are putting out our first joint effort, with one story by Pat and two by me. We hope to follow this up sometime in the spring with another collection featuring stories about Nicholas Northing, the main character of Plumbing and the Modern Necromancer, with each of us writing several of the stories, from our slightly different viewpoints. It’s been a lot of fun, and I hope it is the starting point for a lot more.

For now, enjoy our trio of short stories about Christmas – just a little to the other side of reality.

Well, I Did It

I did it. Despite doing some serious cat-vacuuming (no, we don’t really have a cat – it’s just a way of saying I did some heavy-duty procrastinating), I managed to get my 50,000 words done this month for NaNoWriMo, ahead of schedule. My progress chart does not look like a nice, tidy set of steps, with an equal amount added each day, the way it’s supposed to. It look more like a series of cliffs, looming over broad plains. This is because I tend to write in large chunks when I get rolling, and then stew for a day or two, trying to tease out the next bit in my head.

The story is one I’ve had simmering at the back of my mind for a long time (read several years). It needed to come out to play, and making it my NaNoWriMo project just made me fight through the parts that were not clear to me before. The story and I can both breathe better now that it’s out in the open. And the Skink, my main character, who has hung around with me for the last few years, doing battle with my inner critic, is delighted to have his story told. Now I just have to go back, tie up a few loose ends, and clean up/expand on things/cut out the garbage that ends up being included in any rough draft. It’s the writing equivalent of sanding, using wood filler in the cracks, sanding again, and then putting a shiny finish on your project. You just hope you don’t have to do any major reconstruction on it.

It took me a while to remember that I wasn’t writing a short story, and to adjust my writing style accordingly. But once I got going, it was fun – and I love my characters and my storyline. I’ll be excited to work on revising it during the next month(s). Writing a longer work allows you to really get to know your characters, and to make sure you drop them into plenty of hot water which they will need to fight their way out of. It’s interesting to torture your main characters. (Although they may not agree. But even they wouldn’t like a boring story, now would they?)

The novel I wrote needs a lot of work to make it what I want it to be, but that’s okay. I have more than just a framework now; I have a story with a beginning, middle and end and lots of details to flesh it out. Revising is what December (and if necessary, January, March, April, May and so forth) are for. That’s where I’m heading next, along with some short story projects that I put on hold for the month.

Did any of you try out NaNoWriMo this year? If not, there’s always next year. It’s a great way to prove to yourself that you can do it, and to show you what regular writing can do for both you and your writing.

Now, I’m off to write some more…