Feb 29 2016

More news about other people, one of whom could be YOU.


Remember the Schrodinger Sessions?  I talked about them last year.  They were a workshop on quantum physics, specifically created for science fiction writers. I was thrilled last year when my application was accepted, and even more thrilled during the three days of the workshop.  It was fascinating, elucidating, mind-blowing and emotionally uplifting.

Well, word has come down the pipeline that they’re going to be doing it again this year.   So…

Are you a writer?  Specifically, a writer of science fiction?  Do you need a better grip on this subject?   This is your chance.  You might end up spending three days eyeballs-deep in real, non-hand-waving scientific theory, led by real working scientists.

Cooling with lasers.

Applications aren’t open yet, but soon — so keep your eye open.  I’ll put up a note here when I hear further news.  Meanwhile here’s the website for last year’s event, so you can read more about it.

A similar thing exists for Astronomy, called Launch Pad, and it’s been going on for several years now.   The deadline for applications for that is — oops!  March 1.  Well, if you move fast you can still apply.  I never have, for different reasons each year.  This year’s reason: I can’t take the time out of my writing schedule.  But YOU could try for it!

My only regret about the Schrodinger sessions is that I haven’t been able to use what I learned yet –  because I’ve been deep in a long-term project that does not involve quantum physics (AKA the rest of the Steerswoman books).  I couldn’t step away long enough to turn to a different project last year, nor this year, probably.    But the whole experience has gone into the hopper.  We’ll see what comes out soon enough.

Other things YOU could be doing:

Do you like poetry?  You remember that Mary Alexandra Agner has a Patreon whereby you can support her science-inspired poetry, and get poems sent to you monthly, right?   I’m pleased to be one of her patrons…

Well, Jo Walton also writes poetry, with a wider range of inspirational sources — and Jo Walton now has her own Patreon account to support that effort. I really enjoy Jo’s poems, which I read on her blog regularly.  So I signed up to demonstrate my support with actual cash money.   You could do that, too!

(Okay.  Back to the unweaving of my currently-wrongly-woven tale, so that I can reweave it into what I should have been weaving in the first place.  I blame the day job.  Which is gone now.  So, you know: time to get it right.)


Aug 30 2015

Stealth review of The Steerswoman series, discovered via search for poetry.


You remember Mary Alexandra Agner, right?  I’ve mentioned her before:  Science writer and poet — I signed up as a buck-a-month patron of hers on Patreon. 

Mary sent out an email recently to her Patreon patrons, alerting us to the fact that she had two poems in the January issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone.   CSZ is a print-form (as opposed to online) literary quarterly, with reviews and essays and poems, with a particular interest in the works of women writers.  Although the physical version costs physical money, CSZ is nice enough to put PDF copies online for free, six months after the original publication.

So naturally, I clicked over and started scrolling down to find Mary’s poems.  But before I got there:  a review of the Steerswoman series, by none other than SFF author Kate Elliot.

Not to keep you in suspense: she likes it!

I found it a really interesting analysis, bringing up aspects I hadn’t thought of before, while highlighting some of the things that I especially do try to accomplish with the series.   I’m so pleased.   Kate is an intelligent, deep-thinking person.  I was most recently impressed with her one-person presentation at Worldcon this year on Narrative Structure and Expectation (alas, I came in late, about when she was talking about the example of modern society’s ingrained expectations of what Cleopatra was like, as opposed to what she was really like…).

So, surprise!  A review  I didn’t know about.   You can pop over and read it, and take a look at Mary’s poems, as well.    (Kate is page 6, Mary is page 15.)

Dec 5 2012

Outrage at the Library!


Inexplicably, my favorite carrel has been moved!


It’s in the same place, but it has been rotated ninety degrees left.  Why, I do not know…  But it’s now absolutely undesirable.

Why, oh, why?  she plaintively asked.

Makes. No. Sense.

Whereas before I could sit and gaze out the huge window, whilst thinking deep thoughts, now I could only sit and gaze at:


It's very difficult to pretend you're alone when you're staring directly at two other people!

Imagine all three carrels inhabited.


— Two other carrels.


Dang.   There aren’t many places in this lovely library that have both privacy and a window.

I’d rotate the desk back, but it’s a two-person job.

I’d go and ask the librarians for help, but — no, I am alone right now, and do not wish to interact with anyone, thank you very much.

I’d move to the far left seat, which is second best to the far right one, but that’s often inhabited by a young African-American student who clearly also values solitude and a window.    I don’t want to commandeer it, should he show up tonight.   I’ll sit in the middle.

Meanwhile, down to work — but first , your traditional random quote.


“To one who lives in the snow and watches it day by day, it is a book to be read.  The pages turn as the wind blows; the characters shift and the images formed by their combination changes in meaning, but the language remains the same.   It is a shadow language, spoken by things that have gone by and will come again.  The same text has been written there for thousands of years, though I was not here, and will not be here in winters to come, to read it.”

The Stars, the Snow, the Fire, by John Haines,  published by Gray Wolf Press, 1989

That grabbed me so hard that I’m going to borrow this book.


"And there are those small ticking sounds of the ice in the evening when the cold slides toward its deepest zero, as if a thousand hiddne insects were chirping bitterly in chorus under the ice and snow.

Just back from the desert, I feel a pull to the furthest North...

Some quick internet research tells me that John Haines  is quite famous, though he is new to me.   They don’t give two Guggenheim Fellowships to just anyone.   Not to mention all the other awards.

This just reveals how uninformed I am on contemporary poets.

And, alas, Haines passed away last year, I see — here’s the NY Times obit.

Well.  Enough maundering, and more pondering….


Dec 5 2010

You need to see this video


Sabine pointed me to this poem by Katie Makkai.

You need to see this if you are a woman, or have a daughter, or know a woman, or know a girl, or have met a female human being at some point in your life, or have heard of female human beings.

Or are a man.

Or are any sort of human being of any description.

Or live on planet Earth.

Jul 12 2010

Comment turned into a post


I’m reposting this from the comments, because

a) my answer got rather long
b) and, I thought, interesting,
c) and people who read the blog via Facebook don’t see the comments, generally, so they’d miss out.

Author Victoria Janssen was kind enough to complement me on a poem I posted. I said:

Victoria –


I’ve never considered myself any kind of poet. It’s just that I’ve noticed that recently some of my thoughts are falling into poem-shaped forms. And when I look at the result, it seems to say what I want to say, so what the heck.

Why this is happening recently, I don’t know.

But it does make me think about something I read — can’t remember who said it, maybe W.H. Auden? Judson Gerome? Hm. One of those poets, writing about poetry. If I could remember the exact wording, I could google it. But I can’t.

Anyway the gist of it was that in order for someone to write a poem, there needs to be some sort of impediment to communication. That is, if you could say what you wanted to say and have it understood, you’d just say it. But because you can’t, because there’s something in the way, you use poetry.

I haven’t quoted that well, or possibly even correctly. I’ll see if I can find the right quote, later.

But what I took away from the quote when I first came across it, ages ago, was the idea that there would be something in the way; that you’d have to work around it; and that the techniques you use to do that end up generating poetry.

I certainly don’t believe that’s always the case, or even most often the case. But I do think that it’s one way that people turn to writing poetry.

So, what could possibly be impeding my communication at the moment, such that I must turn to poetry? Could it be this incredible tangle of knotted yarn which is calling itself my next novel?

can it?

Could it?

Can sheer frustration be driving me to poetry?

So… okay.

And once I’ve got a poem-shaped thing, what the heck – post it! Can’t tell if it sucks or not? So what?

This is part of my new philosophy of Be a Lot Braver Than You Have Been in the Past Before It’s Too Late.

I’ll report back later on how that’s working out for me…

Jul 10 2010

Lines written upon discovering that too much time has been spent thinking about how to write instead of actually writing


I need not consider these things.
I should not always wait to wonder.

What’s a question? A question about
One’s self is like a hat. Put it on, take it
off, depending on the weather.

The point is to go despite the weather.
Wrap yourself up; it’s cold outside.
Bring extra water — the heat, you know, always
The heat.

The down vest packs small if you squeeze.
The clever little kit: pot, pan, plate, utensils
Folded together and locked not to rattle.

You can roll out your bed in the rain.
You can stagger in the wind, your open coat a sail.
If you can stand the bugs, there will be stars.

nasa image

nasa image