Monthly Archives: December 2016

Wintertime, writing, new short story release up on Amazon, and other stuff

New fantasy short story release on Amazon with other sources (Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, etc)  to follow! The Goddess’s Choice is more relevant to the next book in the Goddess’s Honor series than it is to any of the stories I’ve published in that universe so far. You’ll be seeing Vered there. In any case, here’s the cover, link, and blurb:


Vered desperately wants to become a Sorcerer-Captain so that she can command a ship free from the demands of her cousin, Emperor Chatain of the Miteal. But first she has to prove her worth to the Goddess Terat. Will she succeed?


As for other things. This winter looks a lot more like the kind of winter I anticipated in Enterprise. We just went through a short period of sub-zero temps, including two nights of 20 below 0 (Fahrenheit) which led to our water meter freezing up as well as the place where the water line comes into the house. That meant yesterday was a bunch of excitement and drama, starting with the discovery of the problem at 5:30 am, the scavenging of water sources around the house, the pilgrimage to Safeway to buy more water when it opened, the calling of the plumber, the calling of the city public works emergency line, and lots and lots of the boiling of the hot water. Plus the buying of the small heater to thaw the link inside the house. Nevertheless, everything got thawed, the meter got more insulation, and we are taking other preventative measures. This was a blockage that had all the experts scratching their heads, but I’m just grateful we didn’t have to dig through a foot of snow to dig up the water line and thaw it that way (it’s all plastic, folks, which is actually more forgiving than metal but still…fewer thawing options). The freezing happened between midnight and 5:30, which did surprise us, but hey, it got fixed and all is good.


Mocha mare is getting along just fine with the herd. The picture is her on one of those subzero days. I’d given her some grain mush and turned her back out, and she was in no hurry to move on, especially since the herd was close by. I thought about riding today since the temps are warmer than it’s been for a while, but I’m still tired from yesterday’s excitement and hey, this is the first day of my official school break. Plus my gut is kind of grouchy today, so I just decided that I would vege out inside for once.

Besides, I finished a short story yesterday and that drug on until 9 pm. It’s a ghost story set at a horse show, playing with the all-too-common tropes of sex, drugs, and horses. I approached it as more of an exercise–one of those picture prompt types of stories. The ghost story is hopefully enough for me to tweak for genre publication should it not be picked up at the first market. I might try a couple of more literary markets first, but we’ll see. I’m somewhat allergic to paying to submit electronically, especially since genre markets don’t charge in comparison to the small press literary market. No matter what, it’s an addition to my inventory, a good one to replace The Goddess’s Choice. I’m going to give myself a week or so before looking at it again. I’m just pleased with myself because I wrote it in four days. Go me.

I’m poking around at Klone’s Folly and it’s about time to get back into it full bore. Then it’ll be on to Challenges to Honor, the next book in the Goddess’s Honor series. After that, probably the Weird West book. It feels funny not to be thinking about a Netwalk Sequence book–this will be the first time in about ten years that I haven’t been writing something in the Sequence. But that’s the life of a writer. I do want to put out an omnibus edition of the Alex and Bess novelettes, and will do that as soon as I get around to it. I do have a followup SF series, but the Star Shepherds book is significantly far-future and will be different. It might be a series…it might not. I’m just thinking about it now and chewing at the idea.

Maybe it’s the Solstice thing. I just want to hang out and chill a bit, read a book or four or five….I have been reading a lot this year, and tracking my reads on Goodreads. It’ll be interesting to see how many more books I add before December 31. We’ll see what plays out.

Meanwhile, I feel an urge to go curl up by the fire and work on the current book…..

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A winter Fishtrap night

Originally, I wasn’t going to be in Enterprise for tonight’s Fishtrap Fireside readings. The plan was to go to Portland on Thursday so that we could take care of some business stuff, go to a party on Mt. Hood on Saturday, collect more veggies from the garden in Clatskanie, see the doctor, then go back up to Enterprise for a week or so, weather depending.

Yeah, well, that was a Winter Plan. Winter Plans are travel plans you make where you allow for the contingency of weather. While we’ve done this in the past during our Portland life, adjusting visits to family and friends based on weather issues, it’s a whole different thing when the trip is 350 miles one way. We’ve done our share of “to hell with the weather, we’re GOING” drives for whatever reasons. Obviously, we survived such epic endeavors as the drive from Eugene to Enterprise after our wedding, where we ran into freezing rain at Rooster Rock and snow by Cascade Locks. That was a 9 hour drive that turned into a 12 hour drive, with snow and ice all the way from Rooster Rock to Enterprise.

Or the Christmas trip to visit friends in LA via Reno and Death Valley. On the first day we raced a snowstorm dropping out of the northwest. Literally. We were tracking it via radio, sprinting across the Santiam Pass before the snow hit Portland. That storm caught us south of Bend, as we cut across to Lakeview. The first winds and snow hit us on an exposed ridge. We outran it to Silver Lake, and then to Summer Lake. But as I looked across the playa I could see the dark blues and whites of the oncoming storm. At that point, our path turned sharply south and we outran the storm.

It caught us in Reno. We had reservations for the cheaper hotel at Furnace Creek in Death Valley. Despite the young son, we were young and confident. We went for it.

I still remember the bleakness of Goldfield, where we almost lost the road in the blizzard’s blue-gray light, and the only motels were ten miles behind us in Tonopah, with the snow getting worse and possibly not allowing us to get there. I remember the incongruity of the snow-covered Joshua tree as we turned that sharp corner in Goldfield, and kept on going with the hope that sooner or later we’d be far enough south to get out of the snow. At last, we finally outran the storm again, and made it to Furnace Creek. The rest of the trip wasn’t quite so eventful, but those two days across the desert have shaped at least one story I’ve written.

But yeah. I’ve done my share of these drives. These days, it’s worth the effort to outwait the weather.

So tonight was the monthly Fishtrap Fireside reading. There was at least one writer whose work I’m familiar with, a cowboy who writes occasional humorous columns about ranching and farming for the local paper. I like his work, and had been regretful that our original plans would cause me to miss this night’s Fireside. Between the Portland weather and the steady fall of snow here, it was clear early on that we weren’t going anywhere. I pulled on my snow gear about 6:45 and headed off through the snowstorm (four inches right now) to the Fishtrap House three blocks away, appreciating the new light displays in the neighborhood.

This Fishtrap Fireside reading series focuses on local writers, pretty much for locals. The series runs from October through April and in the last two years I’ve been attending regularly, attendance has been growing. Three readers are featured, and then there’s an open mic session with openings for four more to sign up. It’s possible to hear all sorts of writing in this series, from prosaic informational nonfiction to humor to poetry to spiritual to memoir to fiction…it’s a diverse selection with the one common element being that all participants need to have a local tie. After listening to the readers over this time, I’ve got to repeat what someone said to me during the Jingle through Joseph bazaar–“there’s a lot of creative people around here.” Yes, there are–artists and writers and musicians. I haven’t even begun to delve into the depths of the local music scene. But that’s a different subject.

The turnout wasn’t as big as it’s been at other sessions this fall, but pretty good for a night where the snow is falling hard. Several people wondered aloud if they were going to be able to get home. Another attendee had cross-country skied from Joseph to Enterprise. I ran into someone from last week’s bazaar, which led to an introduction to another writer, and in further discussions, yet another writer, both of whom might be interested in getting together to write.

The readings went well. Besides the cowboy, a poet with Australian origins read a piece about the meaning of home, and another poet read about her grandmother, who had worked at a nearby lumber mill, and inspired her as she worked at the lumber mill then went to college. The cowboy read a tale about one of those crazy cowboy antics that kinda tends to happen sometimes. The open mic readers read poems and a memoir about driving cross-country in 1977 (and a lot more than that). We chatted a bit after, then all of us headed home, some by car, others by foot or by ski. I savored my walk home through four inches of fluffy snow, looking at holiday lights and enjoying how the snow brightens the winter night.

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Winter life

Zero degrees tonight. As the temperatures plunged this week, I suddenly remembered that these are the conditions I own a bunch of this cold-weather clothing for. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about it until now, but sheesh, I had drug these heavier items–sweaters, cords, the heavier base layers–out earlier in the season when I was still teaching in Welches. I don’t remember using my winter clothing much last year, but then again, not only was I still half-organized here in Enterprise, but I think we were in Portland during the coldest temps last year, and came back just as the temperatures rose to the teens at night.

Of course, I have to remember that I taught in a cold room for eight years, with a door that opened only to the outside and I probably wore my heavier winter wear much more frequently than I do now. Welches may not get as cold as Enterprise does on a regular basis, but it did hit the 30s with damp and rain or snow pretty steadily from late November through February. So as a result I do have a nice stock of heavier clothing and things that go over light ski base layers and look good, just because I needed that functionality to be comfortable. Especially since I went to the barn several nights after work, and it was damp, cold, and near the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge, which meant a lot more wind than up on the Mountain.

Single-digit and zero degree temps here in Enterprise don’t seem so bad after that. Without wet and wind, it’s possible to get outside and do things in these high mountain valleys. Today, hubby went off to cut wood for a local nonprofit that provides heating wood to people in need. I went out to the barn to do a short ride and give the horse some meds before the farrier appointment tomorrow morning. Mocha seems to appreciate the new life and she’s not as frantic in the pasture this year. Then again, last year winter pasture life was all new and she had bonded closely with one other horse, who was a bit of a stinker. This year, her friends are mannerly and she’s back to her mannerly habits, including coming up to me in pasture. I mixed in some warm water with her usual pellet feed and she slurped it right up, not rushing through it.

Then we headed out for our inspection of the fence. This winter, I’m riding Mocha in the pasture using a sidepull–a type of bitless bridle with a stiff leather noseband that is slightly snugger and sturdier than a halter, with a curb strap and extra ring so that the reins lie right. Despite her greater energy this year, I’m not too worried about her taking off with me because something startled her. For one, she doesn’t have her winter shoes on yet, so she’s not moving as fast and she’s having problems with ice buildup in her shoes. I counter that somewhat during our rides by spraying canola oil on her feet and shoes to supplement the rim pads she’ll get tomorrow–last year, I used WD-40, but the new spray nozzle on that stuff doesn’t work worth a hoot in wintertime. I had enough of wrestling with that darn nozzle on cold, snowy days last winter. I’m also hoping to get some borium or tungsten put on the shoes to help with the grip–the rim pads will help reduce ice buildup as well. So until then, we’ve been taking it rather easy.

I could tell in the cold of today that Mocha wasn’t wanting to move fast, which was fine by me. She clearly had energy from the way she moved, lining out in her usual big walk with a level head and ears forward, but she was also being a smart horse and not wanting to exert herself any harder than she had to in these conditions–temps in the low teens, if not single digits. I remembered why I want to be riding midday in wintertime–as the sun went behind Ruby Peak, I could look up to some of the high mountain ridges to see skiffs of snow blowing off the very tops. While there was a faint wisp of moving air in the field, that high-altitude wind reminded me of bitter cold days riding the lift up the Magic Mile, where I would bend over double to keep warm in the teeth of a sharp breeze.

I did see some cold weather oddities. As we first started out, I noticed shimmering heat waves over the neighboring alfalfa field. Now maybe that was over the irrigation ditch that is still in the process of freezing up. It’s hard to say. Further on, the pipes on one of the wheel lines (irrigation pipes on big metal wheels) vibrated, slowly at first and then more intensely. And yet the wheel line we rode next to wasn’t doing that.

Winter is here for certain.


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A hectic three weeks and some political musings

This morning I took a deep breath and finally unpacked. It’s been an intense three weeks, between Orycon and the Jingle through Joseph Christmas bazaar, especially given we’re at the beginning of winter with all the uncertainty that carries with it. Orycon was the weekend before Thanksgiving and was quite a good time, enough that I’m still catching my breath and need to update all my contacts gained as a result of the con. Then, even though I didn’t work the week of Thanksgiving, I plunged into the last rewrites of Netwalking Space so that I could get it off to the editor. Thanksgiving day, we had a quick brunch with the son and then hit the road so that I could run up to Joseph and set up my table for Friday and Saturday. Sunday, I caught my breath, then plunged into a week of work where I ended up working not just the regular part-time gig but one day of substitute teaching as well. And riding horse, and finishing up Netwalking Space, and seeing friends…then back to Joseph for an intense Friday and Saturday of selling books and jewelry as well as working on an embroidery project.

So today, almost three and a half weeks after I first packed up for both Orycon and the bazaar, I unpacked everything. I still have some work to do to get the office back in order, and things organized with an eye toward beginning work on Klone’s Folly. Plus there have been some local volunteering projects of interest, and I discovered a local organization that has Sew Days, and I may have finally hooked up with an organizer of the local bazaar circuit…

And then there’s the political stuff. I made a decision last week not to stress myself out for the pre-inauguration preliminaries. It’s going to be a long four years of outrage, and pacing is going to be important. I sent some extra horse stuff with a local person to Standing Rock. I’m involved in discussions and planning about activism. But another choice I have made is that I will be locally active as a volunteer to help build and sustain the community. Not so much PDX as Enterprise, simply because there are fewer people in Enterprise and so more hands are needed. I am not getting involved in political organizations. I applaud my friends who are, especially those involved with reforming the Democratic Party (mess that it is in Oregon). But I did that in the 80s and 90s. It’s time for those who didn’t do it then to do it now. I don’t have the energy or the patience to deal with the repeats of the fights of those days, and from what I’m seeing it’s the same old shit all over again.

That said, there are things which can be done to help the local community. That’s where I’m going to start.

Oh, and phone calls once we’ve got actual confirmation hearings. And Medicare/ACA-gutting bills.

Community, though. That’s where it starts. Community.

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