Jan 11 2017

A quote from the president’s farewell speech.


“For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.

… Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.”

(Emphasis mine.)

Jan 9 2017

Back from Florida. To Snow.


And plenty of it.  Looks like about six to eight inches.

So I was home from the office all yesterday, keeping warm, shoveling the back porch, feeding birds.

Restaurant remains open despite inclement weather.

Restaurant remains open despite inclement weather.

Also, digging out my car and Sabine’s, and  moving them around periodically while the plow-guy clears off the parking lot section by section.

This while trying to extend my writing retreat.   Which explains my radio silence.   The next meeting of the Fabulous Genrettes is coming up Real Soon Now, and I’m in the hot-seat.  So, I’ve got about a week in which to gather this ragged tale into something which, while not graceful, does move.  And which, while riddled with holes, does indicate a plot.  And which, if not actually coherent, is at least discussable.   And I have to get it to the Genrettes in time for them to actually read it before the meeting.

Thus, in a bit of a crunch.  But a good one.

I’m at the office now, but I should head home soon.   Weather.com has a warning banner, telling me that it’s going down to 6 degrees Fahrenheit tonight (that’s -14.44 Celsius for the rest of humanity).  I’ve got the house heat set higher than is usual for overnight, so that those tricky corners where the pipes are close to the outside walls will get enough warmth to keep them from freezing solid.  Which has been a problem in the past.

Meanwhile, my sister is in Florida, basking in the — well, at the moment it’s 54 degrees there (12.22 Celsius), but it’s the middle of the night.  Tuesday it’s going to go up to 72 where she is.  Oh, and with a rip-tide warning.  Should she feel like swimming.  If so, she should watch out for that rip-tide.  Probably a better idea to use the pool.

Other bits of news:

Here’s a picture of Earth from Mars.

From Mars.

Earth. And the Moon. From Mars.


Courtesy of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

And here’s a link to an article in the New Yorker about Ted Chiang, a writer whose work I love desperately.

Yes, I did see Arrival, based on my favorite Ted Chiang story.  And so should you.  Yes, I want to say things about it!  But I’m in a crunch at the moment…  So, later?

Meanwhile, I’d better get home.  It’s crazy cold.


Jan 1 2017

It’s been a long and strange year….


…and I’m pretty sure there’s more on the way for this coming year.



Times Square, New York City, 2016

I wish I were some sort of wise woman, and could deliver a deep and moving statement that would make everything clear, everything safe, and bring comfort, reassurance and peace to everyone.

Alas, I’m no such person, and I have nothing like that for you, or even for myself…

All I can say is this:

In the coming year –keep your eyes open.

Keep your mind engaged.  Watch, listen.  Pay attention.

This new year might be fine, might be perfectly fine; or it might be the worst ever.  It will probably be something in between.

But if things do start going wrong, don’t leave it to others — if you can, speak up.  If you can, step forward.

And if you can’t, then just hang on, and stay safe.


The first moment of 2017

To all my readers: thank you.  And all my best wishes to you and yours.

And, hopefully:  happy New Year.




Dec 25 2016

And a joyful seasonal holiday of your choice to you!


I understand that the first night of Hanukkah falls on Christmas eve this year.  Nicely convienient.

Athiest that I am, Christmas is a purely secular holiday for me. Celebrate family! Friends! Loved ones of all sorts! (Rats, I forgot to buy Charlie the cat a present. Well, I’m sure some extra catnip in his sockie-toy will be appreciated!) Be kind to each other, and spread joy everywhere you can.

We’re going to be needing good will in the days to come. Of this, I am sure.

My visit with some Florida friends included the traditional gawk-at-the-nearby-mansion interlude. The owners decorate with lights every Christmas, and this year went even more over the top than you’d think possible.

I’m sure this is visible from space.



Street view.



Sidewalk view.



And driveway view…

And they even opened the gates this year, and let everyone wander the grounds to enjoy the lights up close.  Very public-sprited of them!


Love these sweeping staircases.



There’s something about palm trees wrapped up in Christmas lights…

Of course, not everyone can afford $300,000 for Christmas decorations.


Fortunately, there are more frugal options:


While Florida lacks snow, there is no shortage of styrofoam coolers.

I hope you and your own family, extended family, loved ones, and associated non-human critter-citizens have nothing but delight for all your holidays.

Dec 21 2016

And a happy Solstice to all…



Dec 15 2016

Surfacing briefly


Just checking in, to let everyone know that I’m still alive, merely incommunicado on my writerly retreat.

In. Florida.


Yeah, it’s been, oh, 80 degrees Farenheit (26.6 Celsius, for everyone except the USA).  Which is actually a little warm for winter, here.   Meanwhile, I believe some of you are experiencing a blizzard of some sort?  Ah, well.

I love this screened-in porch, with overhead fans, where I have basically set up my workspace.  It’s quite lovely.

I do wish the actual book would be more cooperative… but I’ll keep at it.  I’m sure I’m learning all sorts of things about how to fix plot problems, identify dead ends, and persevere despite disgruntlement.   It will all come right in the end.  I’ve actually done this before, so I know that to be true.

Meanwhile: sunshine, moonlit nights (I love to work at night), fresh air, entertaining birds, and bonus kitty.

Charlie observes from on high.

Charlie observes from on high.

This place is not actually isolated — I’m just isolating myself, voluntarily.  It’s a quiet neighborhood, with nice scenery.   There’s lots of stuff to do nearby, none of which I’ve done yet…

But I’ll be hanging with a local friend on Friday, which I’ll be glad to do, having been  on my own for over three weeks now.

Just me and Charlie and the birds… And Rowan and Artos and Bel, and a couple of new people with their own agendas and problems…

Plenty of ibises about:


These guys are always glad to see me.


"cause the know I've got the good stuff.

‘Cause they know I’ve got the good stuff.

Seriously, these dudes are everywhere.   They’re like the sparrows of Florida.  Only big.

Also seen but not caught in photos: Yellow-green Vireos; Ospreys; Kingfishers; Muscovy ducks; Great Blue Herons; some sort of stork; Snowy Egrets; some other sort of small white egrets, which showed up one day mixed in with the ibises, but spent their time scrounging through the shrubberry in search of delicious lizards, of which they found many.

Not seen, but known to be around somewhere: Roseate Spoonbills.

In other, and somewhat perplexing news, I went shopping at Kohls the other day, because I dicovered that I did not bring enough short-sleeved t-shirts.  I did not find short-sleeved t-shirts in the Women’s department.

I did find these:

Yes, the layered look. So popular for winter fashion.

Yes, the layered look. So popular for winter fashion.

And these:

And let's not forget our puffy quilted jackets!

And let’s not forget our puffy quilted jackets!

Even if we were not having a heat wave, and the temperature were the winter-in-Florida normal of about sixty degrees — no way would anyone need a puffy quilted winter jacket.  Would they?  But the store was stuffed with these!

All I can think is that they had them for sale so that all the grandparents could buy them to ship to their grandkids in the frozen north.   I guess that makes sense.

Well, back to the tale…

Nov 29 2016

Every year, John Scalzi does a very nice thing.


Actually, he does many nice things, all year ’round.  He’s just a nice guy!

But around this time of year, he also opens the comment stream of his blog to writers and artists of all sorts to promote their own works, with his Holiday Shopping Guide.

He breaks it out by type.  Yesterday (Monday,) was reserved for traditionally published books, ebooks, and audiobooks.  Today (Tuesday) is for non-traditionally published works (that would be me).  Wednesday is for other creators; Thursday is for fans to share their enthusiasm about any books or other art they want people to know about; and Friday is dedicated to promoting charites.

Last year, I got a good increase in sales from Mr. Scalzi’s blog.  He has lots of readers.   Another year-end boost would be very useful indeed.

And you might want to check in on his blog daily this week.   A lot of people, creators of all sorts (although mostly writers), will be plugging their work.  And Christmas is coming!  You don’t want to just buy the same old stuff for your friends & family, do you?

Meanwhile:  Yes, I am in Florida.  Here’s proof:


Yeah. I'm not going to be feeding any gators that show up...

Yeah. I’m not going to be feeding any gators that show up…

I am, however, allowed and even encouraged to feed the other wildlife.  Well, not in the park; in the yard of the place I’m staying.

Ibises, who also cannot read.



Egyptian goose.

Egyptian goose.  They will basically walk up to the screened porch and give me the side-eye until I come out and feed them.

And my pal Charlie:

Grub, skritches and cuddles dispensed on command.

Grub, skritches and cuddles dispensed on command.

Well.  Back to Book 5, which is sort of the whole point of being here, right?

More later.

LATER:  I posted the promo, but (Darn it!) I forgot that I had wanted to make it shorter first  — I think it’s too long.   But I just copy/pasted, and hit “post.”  I feel it was unkind of me to take up that much space.  That’s what happens when you post half-asleep — should have edited it down last night.

On the other hand, I managed to be the seventh person posting (out of what will be, trust me, hundreds).  So, yay.


Nov 16 2016

Hunkered down, digging in, clearing the decks, gearing up


Just so’s you know.

I’ll be treating that Florida house-sitting trip as a writing retreat… Traditionally I don’t post much during those, but you might hear from me now and then.

Right now I’m:

a) writing hard, so as not to lose momentum while I

b) figure out what I need to bring, and gather it all, including some documents required for more Chores of Officialdom, and

c) trying to take care of everything that needs to be taken care of here before going there, and

d) thinking ahead to the holidays for which I will not be actually at home, so plans must be managed remotely, and thank you Internet.

And some other plans that are afoot…

Well.  Much to do.

In other news, a  shout out to some people who wrote some rather nice reviews:

Christina Vasilevski reviews both books and tea, two things which I can vouch go together very well.  I think it’s a charming idea, and you should definitely pop over and see what’s new.   She has pledged to write thirty (short) reviews for November (in honor of National Novel Writing Month AKA NaNoWriMo), and there I am, on November 3rd. What’s more, Christina is herself a writer — She provides (and edits) content for the business world. 

More recently, Justin Howe has reviewed the series on his 10 Bad Habits blog; apparently he read the old paperback versions, with those overly-spoilerish covers. (Especially for The Outskirter’s Secret. Ouch. Del Rey called it a marketing decision, but Yikes!)  Justin is also a writer, and a frequent contributor to the online magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

Well.  Back to my doings.

More later…

(PS: At some point I’ll say something about the election.  Not yet.  Can’t quite bring myself to, yet.)

Nov 7 2016

I love the 21st Century.


After a semi-downer of a blog post today, I had to do something uplifting immediately.

So, here’s this:


You definitely need to go full-screen for this.


Nov 7 2016

Three nice things and two crappy ones.


Nice thing #1:

I spent the last weekend of October hanging with some long-time friends at the home of one couple now living in Newport, Rhode Island. It was the annual Fall Hike gathering,  and I have to say it was just wonderful to see everyone.  Especially one couple in particular, who live much further away from me than the others, who I so rarely get to see.  And who also don’t participate in social media at all, so I have no easy way to keep up to date on their lives…

(For those of you not from the United States, Rhode Island is not actually an island.  They just call it that.  Why?  I have no idea.)

Newport is lovely, and the hosts’ house is gorgeous, and welcoming — and right near the water.


Right across the street. On the far side of that bit of water: Mansions of the rich and infamous!

Across the street. And, on the far side of that bit of water you see there: Mansions of the rich and infamous.


I didn’t take any useful pictures of the hike along the Cliff Walk, as they call it, because I was too busy chatting to pals.

Mansion to the right. Mansion to the left. What do I take a picture of? That tree.

Mansion to the right. Mansion to the left. What do I take a picture of? That tree.

It was great.  Lots of good food, excellent conversation, plenty of wine.

Crappy thing #1:

I came down with a horrendous cold on Saturday night, and spent the next day dosed up on Nyquil, while everyone else had fun.

And I’ve still got it.  The entire week was all Dayquil, Nyquil and occasional excursions into MucinexD.  I was functional in a low-level sort of way, thanks to modern cold meds, but I’m ready for this to be over, now.


Nice thing#2: Florida!

The sister of a friend needs a house-sitter in Florida, while she takes an extended visit with her daughter’s family in Oregon.  Sabine and I are splitting the duties.  I have six whole weeks starting just before Thanksgiving, and Sabine takes over after Christmas.  The house is lovely, on a lake with wonderful birds, plus resident cat to scritch and pet — and plenty of solitude, which I’ve been needing for a long time.   But I also have friends residing in Florida, so I can visit and socialize when I’m so inclined.  This is excellent!

Crappy thing #2: The Dreaded Chores of Officialdom.

If you have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), it’s time to renew.  So, I thought I’d do that.  Through the website.  Simple, right?

I won’t give you all the grim details… suffice to say that right now I’m waiting on a call from someone at AccessHealthCT, because the customer service rep I ended up speaking to on Friday had to escalate my perplexing problem to someone higher up, who did not manage get back to me on Friday.

I’m sure it will get sorted out… but it’s nerve-wracking and time-consuming until then, as I do not know what my coverage status is right now.

I basically spent all Friday night and Sunday afternoon gathering all my materials, printing out supporting documents, making extra copies, planning my explanation of what happened, and what we need to fix —  I’m tired of the whole thing, but I can’t quite let it go (in my head) until it’s resolved.

Fortunately, nice thing #3: Genrettes meeting yesterday.

It was Delia Sherman’s turn in the hot-seat, and we all had a great time discussing her work, sorting out some technological issues, plot points, etc.  And of course, just catching up on our lives.

This took a lot of the bad taste of Officaldom out of my mouth.  I love the Genrettes.   Delia Sherman and Laurie J. Marks are amazing friends to have.  (Have you read their books?  Well, you should get right on that.)

My day so far?  Well, here I am, waiting on hold with Access Health CT, coughing every few minutes with that same cold.

This is definitely not how I want to spend my day…


The mighty Quinnipiac River, not far from my office. Note traditional festive discarded tire.

The mighty Quinnipiac River, not far from my office. Note traditional festive discarded tire.