Monthly Archives: November 2014

Of Writing, and Thanksgiving, and Horses

I swear I will not let the holiday season catch me unprepared again.

I swear I will not let the holiday season catch me unprepared again.

I swear I will not let the holiday season catch me unprepared again.

You’d think I would have remembered all the hard-earned lessons from selling jewelry online in the 90s and applied them to the hybrid writing life. Plan for the Christmas season. Have Christmas promotions and product ready by September. Do not be scrambling to produce work in the middle of the season. But I was locked into teacher brain, not retail artisan brain, and so instead of scrambling throughout the summer to make sure I had my seasonal book production lined up, I was decompressing. It’s really only been the past few weeks, since just before Orycon, that I’ve been scrambling to get the writing finished and either published or submitted, much less run through beta editors.

Well. This is the last year that’s gonna happen. Next year I will know what my holiday season books will be and have them ready in plenty of time, instead of just in time. I’d also been counting on a small press publication which appears to be going nowhere. Sigh.

Meanwhile, I’m getting the last piece of the book I hope to have out by mid-December wrapped up now. It was supposed to be a short story. Now it’s careening recklessly toward novelette territory, and could spin off into its own novel. Maybe I’ll premier it as a serial story, and publish subsequent installments over the course of this next year. Hmm. Could publish it separately for free as well…Hmm.

Thanksgiving is going to be low key. I get up in the morning, go ride horse, come home, get cleaned up, cook gluten-free dressing (already made blueberry crisp and spelt biscuits), then go to a friend’s house for restrained debauchery. If I’m lucky I’ll get time to wrap up the story tomorrow.

Horse is definitely in rehab mode. While most of our work is still in walk and mostly in straight lines, I’ve thrown her a sop in the form of four laps of working trot (about a half mile, two laps per direction) and four long side of the arena canters (again, two per direction). We’re also doing haunches and forehand turns, as well as backing in circles. That’s enough to keep her happy, as she does seem to get tired of doing nothing but walking. She perks right up when she gets to think about using herself, and I’m up in two-point while doing it.

But at least the writing is moving along, the horse seems to be improving, and perhaps we’re getting more movement on other things going on in the life.



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Alien Savvy is live


And it’s a book! ALIEN SAVVY, a Western SF Novella, is now available on Kindle, Smashwords, and Kobo with Nook, Google Books/Google Play, and CreateSpace forthcoming.


” When Hank Martin runs into a strange disk complete with little gray men while herding cattle in remote Ogden County, Oregon during the Cuban Missile Crisis, he has to wonder if he’s going crazy or if the Russians are invading. Together with his talented cowhorse, Missy, and the support of his wife and local ranchers, Hank is determined to get those cattle rounded up, no matter if aliens, Russians, or weird Air Force bureaucrats want to stop him. Will he get those cattle rounded up, or will he lose too many to fund his dreams of raising a line of competitive cowhorses?”


Direct links:


Smashwords: Alien Savvy:


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And more cover stuff for Alien Savvy

While I liked that last Alien Savvy cover, I realized that I could do better.


I think I like this one better.


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Mocha’s cantering….

Mocha loped with me today. Her choice, not mine. Not a runaway, not a rebellion, just her choice to pick it up on the long side of the arena instead of a working trot. It was smooth and balanced, and she first offered it up on her sore leg. After the first two strides felt good, I just dropped to a half-seat from two-point and eased her up at the corner, walked the corner, and we trotted the next long side.

And then I turned her in the other direction to see what she’d do, and she offered it up on that lead, same thing. With that, we headed off for a short outside hack, because what else could we do from there? She’s been letting me know this week that she’s pretty fed up with walking in a straight line, or even in smaller circles, and she Wants. Real. Work.

Sulky mare. Grumpy mare.

Any changes and she drops the sulks and grumps. So yesterday, we finished off with a trot down the long sides of the arena (me in a two-point), and then we hacked out and did some work outside. She perked right up. Today, I added in some haunches and forehand turns as part of our walk work, including the smaller circle work. That got a more energetic walk out of her. She was eager to pick up the working trot, eased off nicely at the corner, and then just quietly picked up the lope. If it had been irregular or unbalanced I would have pulled her up, but it was a nice, balanced, relaxed lope. I’ve been seeing that develop on the lunge the past two weeks (I’m lunging her before riding, part of the gradual tightening of the cinch, getting her muscles warmed up since that’s part of the area affected by her muscle strain), and it’s nice to feel it again.

It’s much earlier than I *planned* to do this by at least two or three weeks. But during this particular rehab, I’m in the space where I am letting her tell me what she is ready to try. We’re pretty much in conditioning and strength-building phase, and that gives us a little more freedom to line out in a relaxed canter for a few strides instead of a trot, if that’s what feels best. One thing about Mocha is that the canter is the gait that seems to limber her most effectively, and if letting her canter means she’ll tolerate all the walk work we need to be doing, then I’m good with that. I wouldn’t do this with every horse, but with Mocha…yeah.

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Alien Savvy cover reveal

Wow. As many problems as I had with Shadow Harvest, I somewhat expected to have some with Alien Savvy. But hmm. This one looks semi-decent after only an hour’s putzing around. Wow.


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Fall garden preparation

We’ve decided to work with a friend who has a place in the Coast Range to grow a somewhat bigger and different garden next year, primarily because we’re going to be in transit and because he wants to do a garden but needs help.

Today, we took the first step in setting that garden up by moving black plastic from one side (where it’s been covering and killing back grasses) to the other. I didn’t have a starting picture of the process, but I have some intermediate pix.


One section of black plastic moved.


In process of prepping and moving the next section.


Second section moved and weighed down with miscellaneous boards, pipes, and bricks so it won’t blow away in winter winds.


Finished version, with just a few small strips short of covering all the remaining grass. Now we just need to bring in manure and sand to sit on the bare strip over the winter, then till in spring for planting. The other section has been previously tilled but has gone to grass for various reasons.


Part of dinner afterwards–last of the chanterelles from two weeks ago, sauteed with green peppers and onions. Nomnomnom.

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A horsey update–land o’ conditioning

And so the horsey rehab continues. Mocha marched off sound from her last round with the bodyworker. Last week she got shoes on all four feet, and the farrier was pleased with the condition of her hooves–so far. But we all know the white line is sneaky, and so tonight I have a hot date with gallon bags and Gorilla tape to make enough cheapass redneck soaking bags so that I can soak all four feet without blowing out a bag due to her shoes. It’s not optimal to soak shod feet with White Lightning, but…it is what it is, and it’s doable. I got hints of the white line reappearing yesterday, so I expect I’ll see more tomorrow and should treat it ASAP.

I have been hitting those feet pretty steadily with a straight iodine flush, and I may do just that tomorrow since the temps are still going to be on the coldish side. Or not. I may just suck it up for forty minutes of keeping her mellow while her hooves soak. Fun and games.

In any case, we’re now back to conditioning. Monday was her first day under saddle in six weeks. She stepped out pretty good, with a long and forward stride like she hasn’t had in…well, ages. Feeling that under me felt like things were right again…though, really, that’s a long way off.

For one thing, she’s desperately out of shape after the last six weeks and the previous six weeks or so of being lame in her right shoulder. I’ve kept her on stall rest with only walk work, mainly to protect the integrity of her hoof wall until we could get shoes to support the hoof capsule on that white line area. We’re now beyond that, but still, a few arena laps at a working trot leaves her winded. Considering that she was doing higher level canter work easily without drawing an uneven breath a year ago, this is a big deal. I’m basically looking at rebuilding both muscle and endurance from scratch.

Which means…lots and lots of walk work, much of it in straight lines, for a highly trained horse who enjoys pattern work and exercises which make her concentrate and think. Not every horse is this way, but Mocha likes it when we do things which allow her to puzzle out a problem or else work fast. If we can do both, she’s even happier. The challenge in bringing a horse like this back into work is to keep her mind engaged without rushing the level of schooling she’s doing. It’s far too tempting to rush a horse like her along, but given that she is a middle-aged mare, it’s better to be conservative and build up wind and muscle slowly. Especially since we are doing this at the start of winter. If she could live where we have a drier climate and turnout, that would be better, but that doesn’t happen until next year.

I’m mixing up saddle schooling and long-line schooling, because some of the muscle tightness issues that brought about her lameness are tied into her cinch area. I don’t want to make her back sore, either, which means we have to spend time getting her (and to be honest, me too) reacclimated to the saddle. I’m asking her for more complex and longer work on the long lines, which allows us to execute movements which will help her rebuild flexibility and strength, only without the pressure of the saddle. We can’t do that work under saddle yet until she’s had enough time to recondition back into the saddle. I’m also riding her in the sidepull because she needs to be working long and loose, going forward with no restraint or collection. If there’s no bit in her mouth, I’m not tempted to try to fiddle around with collection. It also means that I can focus more on using seat and legs for cueing so that we can develop the light whisper of cues that we both prefer.

So right now it’s all just a matter of long, slow work and time. I’m not expecting to be ready to do more under saddle than just walk for another month, because I want to lay down a solid muscle and aerobic foundation. From past experience with this mare, I know that she needs to build strength to a certain point before I can ask her for even basic canter work. Oh, I could ask for it sooner, but the results wouldn’t be the best. Better to build the muscles and wind, and get a nice, relaxed canter rather than have the horse strain, and the only way you get that strength is by taking the time to develop it.

So it’s a long, slow slog back. That’s the way these things just happen to be.

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Fallout from the storm of rage activism in SF

Deep breath. This is a SFF insider post, so if you aren’t in that world, a lot of this won’t mean much to you. Additionally, I know that I have Facebook followers who are right of center/white/male, and if you jump in on this post to bash ideology, make arch and to-you witty statements about political correctness (in most cases about things in which you have little to no knowledge and I KNOW IT), you WILL get blocked. By me. This is NOT for your discussion. You know who you are. This isn’t for you. Mean Former Middle School Teacher will enforce proper polite behavior. You have been warned. That includes comments about tone policing, censorship and #notall…whatever.

So. Second deep breath. Onward.

I have been deeply distressed by the progression of the Requires Hate/Benjanun Sriduangkaew explosion and what it reveals about social justice ideals, concepts and thinking as a tool to bash others. Rage activism as a tool of silencing.

As a former political activist of the left persuasion, I’m not unfamiliar with the tactics used–they were very common during my activist days in the late 20th/early 21st century. Mobbing, friending only to turn on you when you either challenge the established order or seek to advance above the leader of the pack, making ideological mistakes because one is still learning…oh yeah, seen them used in the name of political advancement and climbing up the political ladder. There are people in Oregon politics who have lost my support forever due to their behavior at the lower levels of activism, though most of those who have used those techniques of silencing opponent voices have, ironically, ended up being silenced themselves. I’ve been an occasional rage activist myself, trying to be an ally in the political world, but never had the stomach to carry it far enough to destroy someone else’s political career or silence their voice. That was a line I did not want to cross. I simply wanted people to understand that they had made a mistake and needed to reconsider. I didn’t want to destroy or silence my opposition.

And that is at stake here. I read comments and worry from people of color who have been silenced. From people with non-traditional sexuality who have been silenced. From alter-abled people. From older people, specifically women, who have been silenced. That isn’t right. Repeat: that isn’t right.

When did correction become silencing?

We all make mistakes. When did a mistake or misunderstanding become grounds to destroy or silence someone? When did destruction instead of education become the goal?

When did the ideals of social justice become tools to destroy or silence someone? Yes, the opponents of social justice have no qualms about using these techniques, and to be honest, if the RH/BS thing had happened in the political world, I’d be thinking agent provocateur, because that’s how agents provocateur destroy movements. I’ve seen it done. It’s a major tell for me in a social justice movement. But does such rage activism justify counter-tactics that are identical?

Anger and frustration at being repressed, throttled, and minimalized are necessary and real emotions. That’s what drives activism and keeps people going in order to change unjust situations. You need to be angry when injustice appears. But turning those emotions on those who would be allies, on those who are oppressed rather than the oppressors, is not the appropriate use of rage in activism. It doesn’t create a movement. It is not a tool of creation but a tool of destruction. It doesn’t change the world. The world does not usually change overnight with forceful intervention, and when it does, what results isn’t usually better. Change is frustratingly incrementalist, and it’s a long game. I have my own personal examples of some changes I’ve seen happen, but it’s taken damn near thirty years of persistent and steady activism to create those circumstances.

It doesn’t necessarily mean we need to be nicey-nicey sweety-sweety all the time. But being aware of that line between correction and destruction needs to exist. Being aware of the ultimate goal–changing hearts and minds–needs to exist. Being aware of the need to wrench the face of SF away from those who would keep it European white male with token women, people of color, and people of alternative sexualities needs to exist. The bottom line is that if it destroys, if it tears down, without the option to rebuild…then perhaps it needs to be reconsidered.

It is possible to critique fairly without resorting to the techniques of personal destruction. It is possible to speak the truth to power without being destructive.  It is possible to say “Your presumptions are wrong and here is why” without lashing out and attacking. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, that means constant repetition. Yes, that means gritting teeth and repeating the 101 education courses.

But rage does not justify the excesses of hyperbole. Eventually, such hyperbole can and will turn back on you, whether professional, political, or personal.

I don’t know what the answer is. But I would ask that we create safe spaces for those who feel threatened. That we allow newer writers to grow and find their voices with appropriate criticism without nuking their mistakes. That we look carefully at those who use the language of destruction to critique those with whom they disagree, even when we agree with the substance but not the tone of their commentary.

It all starts with the individual. Let’s go from there. And that’s my statement.

(reminder, I can and will block, edit, or otherwise manage those who will be destructive in my spaces. Former middle school teacher here. I’ve dealt with these issues IRL, and have no qualm about doing so in virtual in order to maintain civil discourse–and it’s MY definition which counts)


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Con report: Orycon 2014

The tl:dr version? You know it’s been a good con when you’ve been so busy that the time just flies by. That’s what Orycon 2014 was like for me. Lots of panels, lots of meeting up with folks, not enough meeting up with folks and just waving at people I would have liked to spend more time with, and so on.

There are several happy advantages to not teaching these days which really made this con. First of all, I was able to meet up with friends on Thursday night. There were some glitches, mostly due to the train that Alma was on running out of fuel. On the Columbia River bridge. Sitting there for two and a half hours. Would anyone really believe that this happened? But it did.

Not working meant I had time to do a quick run to the barn before the con on Friday to get Mocha out and lunge her, so that she only went two days without a work (important when you are rehabbing a horse from a long-term injury). Then I met up with a friend for whom Orycon 2014 was her first sf con ever…and got to experience Friday through her eyes. She took some good pictures of me at my first panel (as well as–urm–some rather–um–interesting expressions). Then we did some shopping, including getting her fitted for a corset, which looked ravishingly glorious on her. Later on, I participated in a critique session with friends Frog and Esther Jones for a lovely person in her early phase of writer development, and as always learned a few things for my own writing in the critique. Since she is a local to me, we’re keeping in touch.

Saturday was a blur of readings, panels, and then a rousing good time with rowdy friends at dinner. It was such a blur and busy time that I had to go home and collapse before the Jay Lake memorial. I regret missing it, but there was no way I could hold on until 10 pm. OTOH, I wouldn’t have passed on the double grand entrance that Bob Brown and I made into several parties. One of the features of Radcon in past years was that at least once Bob would scoop me up and carry me around. All part of good fun, and every piece of it was well within my personal boundaries (trust me, if someone crosses a boundary with me, they KNOW). Bob and I haven’t done this for YEARS, and it felt good to be joking and playing in that way again.

Sunday was another flying blur with good panels. The only fly in the ointment is that I discovered this morning that I left a bag of books at one of the booths that my books were placed in. However, I’m hoping to get those books back and have talked to those people.

But there was oh so much more. Good professional conversations about the business of writing, running into old friends who I haven’t seen for years, and having a great time with my people. Another set of pleasant convention memories for the books.

And now I’ve gotta finish putting stuff away, go to the barn and deal with horse, then come back and put some words down. Deadlines are looming on two stories. Time to get back to work.

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Orycon Week Specials!

winter shadows covercover4b

Because it’s Orycon week, I’m offering a special on my two most recent works, Winter Shadows and Shadow Harvest. They’re parts two and three of an occasional series about Diana Landreth, her husband Will, and their development of wireless implant technology which eventually leads to uploaded personalities. With politics and weird weaponry, as well.

Anyway. From November 6th through 14th, you can get Winter Shadows for .99 (down from 1.99) and Shadow Harvest for 2.99 (down from 5.99) at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo (I think?!). Shadow Harvest is available for 2.99 at Smashwords.

What are they about? Here’s Winter Shadows:

Diana Andrews wasn’t expecting trouble when she came home on winter vacation from a difficult bioremediation assignment. But the imprisonment in a hostile country of her lover, Will Landreth, puts not just Diana and Will at risk but possibly her business and her family as well. Can Diana find the help she needs to rescue Will while protecting him from those–including his father–who would see Will silenced?

And then Shadow Harvest:

Diana Landreth encounters a witch’s brew of personal, professional, and political problems when she returns home for a quick visit. Her dying father’s ranch has been poisoned by an unknown radiological and/or biological agent. The Third Force’s Relocation Affairs office has given him a low buyout bid insufficient to support Diana’s stepmother and young half-sister after her father’s death. Her husband Will continues to struggle with PTSD in the aftermath of his imprisonment in the Petroleum Autonomous Zone. Her mother, Sarah Stephens, and Will’s father, Parker Landreth, engage in a shadow war where Will and Diana may be no more than proxies for higher stakes in a battle for corporate dominance. Can Diana discover the truth about what’s been done to her father’s ranch? Can she and Will enhance their own bioremediation company’s reputation by rehabilitating the ranch while supporting her stepmother and sister? And can they finally overcome the shadows of the past to earn their freedom from their families’ desires?

I promise that Shadow Harvest is the last of the “Diana comes home to problems” stories.

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