Friday, March 11, 2016


My bookshelf style, in haiku because haiku* are mercifully short, unlike novels:

Random objects used
as book-ends.

Non-existent or obscure.
Classics, fantasy.

(Someone had to provide a place in the world where a Brent Weeks novel snuggles up against the Ad Herennium, Plato touches Mockingjay, and Austenland calmly sits beside Hamlet.)

*This is the proper plural form.  I checked the OED.  And the OED knows.
Blogger Tricks

Friday, March 4, 2016

Link Round-Up

A glimpse into my ramblings amongst the twisting paths and strange by-ways of the internet. Perhaps you'll find something useful.

The Truth about Medieval Cloaks
Turns out everything I thought was wrong and life is all about the cloak pin. The website is mildly unreadable because they made the poor design decision to make the background black and the text white, but their concise and wonderful information on cloaks is worth seeing floating text in your peripheral vision for the next several hours.

Keeping Warm in the Middle Ages
Another informative but blindingly white on black blog post about how to stay warm without central heating. Apparently wearing a blanket as a cloak is an acceptable solution. In case you were wondering, there may be a spot of cold weather in my WIP.

Lessons from the Terrible Writing of Eragon
Skip this one if you're a devoted Paolini fan. Honestly, I found it both cathartic and informative. All the vague unease I feel about the prologue finally explained at a sentence by sentence level. What joy!

What Writers Can Deduct from Taxes
My curiosity has a practical side as well, you see.

How to Add Whimsy to your Garden
I aspire to one day have beautiful, whimsical garden decorations. I'm going to start with trying not to kill my six anemic annuals or my one brave orchid. We'll work up from there. Meanwhile, I look at pretty pictures.

Deviled Eggs
A selection from my quickly expanding collection of recipes that use up a dozen eggs in one go. We like our deviled eggs chunky, so there is some chopping involved in these rather than the convenience of just tossing everything into a food processor. I would recommend adding more pickles than the recipe calls for and I used smoked paprika for a little extra zip.

the painting "spring" by John Waterhouse
"Spring" by John Waterhouse

Friday, February 12, 2016

How to Seduce a Writer

If you have the good sense to follow the online adventures of the legendary Patrick Rothfuss, perhaps you saw his last blog post regarding the beautiful Valentine's Day cards his Worldbuilders team has begun to produce. Also featured in that post was some advice from Neil Gaiman about the best way to seduce a writer. This is important information since we writers are a notoriously dense breed skilled in the ways of the written word, but not always in the ways of noticing if we are being hit on.

Neil Gaiman suggests that you send your writer:
a cheerful note saying “YOU ARE INVITED TO A SEDUCTION: Please come to dinner on Friday Night. Wear the kind of clothes you would like to be seduced in."
 Clarity FTW.

In honor of upcoming Valentine's Day, I offer ten more ways to seduce a writer:

1. Take them to a library

Let them browse as long as they want. If the sun starts to set and you must check your watch to see if there's any time left before the End of the Universe, at least duck into the DVD section where they can't see you do it. Help them carry the books they choose, no matter how heavy and crumbly they are. Pretend you don't notice the dust stains on your clothes. Your writer certainly doesn't.

2. Take them to a bookstore

Watch with joy as they frolic between the shelves of crispy new books. Practice endless patience while they debate the merits of two equally-priced, equally-sized, similarly-bound books written by the same author.

For bonus Sexy Points: find a book of your very own. Browsing different genres on opposite sides of the bookstore can sometimes be a great date. Plus, your writer might even begin to read the books that you like. Now, that's sexy.

A hot guy reading a book in the snow

If you're feeling especially daring, you can even . . .

3. Buy them books instead of drinks

Or, depending on the writer, maybe books and drinks.

If you've been wondering how to seduce writers for any length of time, then you've probably seen this floating around the internet:

tumblr clip about how guys should buy books for girls

This is real, and good, and so very, very true. Take note.

But also drinks. Those are nice too. Nothing goes with a new fantasy novel quite like a glass of mead.

If you're want to buy them something else because you've already bought them all the books in the world, try . . .

4. Pens

Jewelry is nice and all, but nothing says 'I think you're the most wonderful person in the world. Shall we make-out now?' to a writer quite like a fountain pen. Before you begin complaining that jewelry and pens aren't the same sorts of things at all, BEHOLD:

ridiculously expensive fountain pen encrusted with crystals
The Visconti Divina Royale ~ $875.00
And that's not even the expensive side of the scale.

'Nough said.

You can find it here, if you want to check out the magnificence for yourself.

5. Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate

Writers don't actually have blood, you see. Really, it's a combination of caffeine, tea leaves, sugar, self-involvement, and anxiety running through their veins. They start out ordinary enough, but through years of honing their craft the normal human fluids in their bodies are replaced by this powerful creative cocktail, a.k.a. Book Fuel.

They can take care of the self-involvement and anxiety pretty much on their own. Sort of like plants photosynthesizing. Mild exposure to the internet should be quite sufficient. However, like friendly erratic vampires, they must rely on the outside world for their caffeine, tea leaves, and sugar.

So, in the holy name of Art, bring your writer a cup of something hot and sweetened. You'll be sure to win their heart and you just might save their life into the bargain.

a coffee cup and gormet chocolate
Like, oh my God

6. Build them bookshelves

gif of a girl from the 1950s fainting


 7. Leave them alone

Take them to their desk, sit them down, and then leave. Actually leave. Don't stay and ask if you can watch while they write. Don't hover or check-in every ten minutes. Just say, "I know you have writing to do. I'll bring you tea in two hours." Then shut the door behind you and go do something else.

With any luck, you'll both get some work done and they'll be very happy to see you when you come back with tea.

8. Tell them you believe in them

Writers are by nature a fairly insecure lot. So much of their time is spent alone in worlds of their own creation that it sometimes becomes difficult for them to tell whether they are astonishing geniuses penning the next great American novel, or deluded fools writing the most trite drivel that the world will ever know. Remind them--kindly--that they are probably neither a genius nor a fool and that they should be happy about that. If they are crying in a heap, tell them everyone has off days and then feed them. If it looks like they might be able to get some work done, see Tip 7. If you're brave enough and if they let you, read their work. Give feed back that is one quarter honesty and three quarters compliments. Add a few more compliments if they still look downtrodden.

Above all, never ridicule or make light of what they are doing. To writers, writing is almost a sacred mission. Don't make fun of people who are trying to save the world.

I am a tiny potato and I believe in you meme

9. Read their favorite books

Few things are more attractive to writers than your desire to share their imaginary worlds with them. A writer's books are some of their best friends. Seeing if you like their favorite books is a relationship test the rough equivalent of meeting all their family members at once. Take this opportunity to expand your horizons and let your writer lead you to strange and unfamiliar lands you would never have visited on your own. Open your mind to some new books and you just might find a writer opening their heart to you.

10. Give them one of Patrick Rothfuss' Valentine's Day cards.

By now they should be madly in love with you, but, having thought about it, a card declaring your intentions in unambiguous language probably is a good idea. Especially if you want your writer to realize you're interested in them and not just a super nice person who buys diamond-studded pens for everyone.

Good luck and have a happy Valentine's Day!

Man contemplating tangled valentine's heart

Monday, November 30, 2015


In October, I traveled to Alaska to stay with some friends. I was a week in Anchorage, a week on Kodiak Island, and made a brief stop in Portland on my way back to my own bit of California.

I'd never been to Alaska before, but had heard enough stories from my friends that I'd formed a pretty solid image of snowy wasteland and turbulent seas populated with almost mythical beasts.

I didn't find a wasteland or mythical beasts. Though I did see a lot of bald eagles and there was a moment when my boyfriend--N--and I were driving through the mountains when he turned on the radio and the only thing playing was static. What I did find was a rich and varied land far more magnificent and strange than I'd anticipated.

One of my favorite parts of the whole trip was the day that we took the approximately five hour drive from Anchorage to Homer. Half the drive was through snowy, rugged mountains that rose abruptly on either side of the road. The other half was through strangely flat swamp populated mostly by what appeared to be very stunted conifers, but might have been some exotic, northern swamp plant I couldn't put a name to.

I almost felt like I'd seen it all before.

Not because of pictures or ordinary deja vu, though, but because I had imagined a similar setting for a story I have yet to finish writing. Similar, I said, but not the same. I could never have imagined mountains that abrupt or the strangeness of the misty, alien swampland. As soon as I saw them, my unwritten story gained a foundation of truth that hadn't been there before.

Fiction and reality are inextricably linked for me. I filter my experience of the real world through the stories I have read, and judge the stories with the practicality of the real world. Despite their close relationship, though, fancy and everyday world are usually no more than distant reflections of one another. Unfortunately for imaginative souls like myself, we can't expect the world to conform to storybook rules.

Yet, now and then, I stumble across a wonderful moment like this where the two seem to converge. Suddenly, the fairy tale is real and the real world is far more beautiful than I usually give it credit for.

snowy mountains and shoreline outside Anchorage, Alaska
Mountains on the way out of Anchorage

Giant red and green cabbages in Homer, Alaska
Giant cabbages in Homer, AK

me taking photographing snowy mountains somewhere between Anchorage and Homer, Alaska
Me, taking a picture of mountains somewhere between Anchorage and Homer
Photo courtesy of N

smoked salmon flavored vodka in Safeway on Kodiak Island, Alaska
Only in Alaska

beautiful sunrise over Kodiak Island, Alaska
Sunrise on Kodiak

fishing boats in the St. Herman Harbor on Kodiak Island, Alaska
A gray day in the harbor

The view from the top of Pillar Mountain on Kodiak Island, Alaska
The view from the top of Pillar Mountain on Kodiak Island

Moss and lichen growing on a tree in a forest on an island near Kodiak, Alaska
Crazy, vibrant moss on a small island near Kodiak

Abandoned outbuildings in the amazing moss forest

Shakmanof Point at sunset from on the water
On N's skiff near Shakmanof Point