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Well that was a week

An exhausting, at times exciting, but still tiring week. Husband had some eye appointments in Portland that bracketed the weekend, but there was enough stuff up in the air that I only could really plan one get-together with someone I’ve missed except for tiny grabs for the last few trips. It was probably a good thing I didn’t overplan the Portland time, as I ended up down flat sick from an allergic reaction to all the damn pollen. The same thing happened last year, and I had a less extreme reaction in March, so….yeah. I suspect this means that this is now a thing. On the other hand, I found a cromolyn sodium nasal spray and that’s really helping with things, much better than its steroidal cousin and much less harsh. So I now need to find someplace other than the Kaiser Pharmacy to buy it OTC.

We did spend two days skiing. The first day was lovely in spite of the stormy weather, and the second day was full of the heavy deep powder the Cascades is known for. Three runs and not only was my back done in but my knee was complaining. So we stopped. We’d considered skiing on our way home yesterday, but I was so tired and hurting that I determined it wasn’t a good idea. All the same, everything works really well on the slopes again. I’ve got my control back and I’m not struggling like I was so much of the time last year. I’m now thinking that everything I’m doing to address the lower back pain is paying off in this respect. Yay!

Then we spent two days hunting razor clams. OMG. Both days were hard clamming days. Lots of false shows to fake us out, which meant a LOT of digging. The first day wasn’t too bad as we were four clams shy of a full limit. The lot were amongst the biggest clams we’ve ever dug, though, consistently large. I found a medium-sized cockle on the beach, still alive, and claimed it. That day was also good for finding hermit crabs, a live snail, and sandpipers. At one point I stood still as the sandpipers scurried around me, several coming within five feet of me. Sweet.

It was also a lovely day for April on the Oregon Coast. Very light wind, sunny, and relatively warm. A good day to be down on the beach, but after the hard work clamming none of us felt like following up with fishing like we had planned.

The second day was tougher. We never did get any good clam shows, and ended up with just one limit between the three of us. It was another gorgeous warm day on the beach, though. Not as much bird action, nor did I find any crabs. My back ached so bad that I went back to the truck and brainstormed the latest rough draft work, including a quick sketch on a short story idea.

 

Then we packed up, went back to Portland, and headed back to Enterprise yesterday. Three short story ideas mugged me on the way back. I’m not sure why that part of my brain is waking up again–perhaps being finished with Netwalk, and two-thirds of the way through Goddess’s Honor is a factor? Dunno, but I’m not going to ignore it. I sketched the three stories out last night. They’re all tied to some other stories I’ve been working on, contemporary fantasy or Western fantasy.

And now for the first time in a week I’m not having to wake up and rush around to go somewhere. Later on today I’m going to introduce Miss Mocha to the wonderful world of saddlebags. But spring is erupting in Wallowa County and I’m itching to get on the front porch for a porch writing session. Ah. Lovely.

 

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Busy week

Whew. It’s been a busy week with a fast trip to Portland for Orycon and early Thanksgiving. Tired but wanted to get something up. I’ll have more mindful posts later…especially Orycon, which was a very good convention this time around. Sold books, had good panels, saw lots of friends…all worked out pretty nicely. Then we went to Clatskanie to harvest more carrots and parsnips, and managed to pick a nice batch of chanterelles. Unusual for this late in the season but it’s been a mild fall with no frost.

And now we are back in Enterprise. I have a lovely new back massager that is making me very happy.

Me fall over now. Well, after I jot down the side story about what happened to Vered during the events I’m working on right now in Challenges of Honor.

You know it’s been a good convention when you come back itching to start writing.

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Riding into fall and getting into the writing mode again

If someone had told me as recently as three years ago that I would be galloping Mocha in a stubblefield with gopher holes scattered throughout, I’d have said they were nuts.

So guess what I was doing today? Well, besides galloping, we did a bit of schooling. Little mare was energetic and ready to go, and we not only galloped but did some regular schooling. She was having problems with left to right flying lead changes in midsummer in the arena. Once she moved back down to the ranch and into the stubblefield pasture, I started working on some of our old schooling moves, including inside and outside bend in circles at the walk, two-tracking, and serpentines at trot and canter. Over the course of the last month, she’s gotten smoother and better at those changes.

I’m still trying to figure out what is going on with her. At one point I thought she might have a metabolic syndrome. These days, I’m leaning more toward a long-term, chronic pain problem caused by improper angles in her front feet and her SI joint and her hocks fusing. Somehow, last November, all of a sudden some movements became easier for Mocha and she’s now running sound on a regular basis. She gained weight back in her topline and she is relaxed and happy. I think everything stopped fusing and she finally remodeled her muscles to fit the new angles–whatever it is, I’m grateful.

She doesn’t necessarily act like a 17-year-old mare, except for the way she responds to schooling. Otherwise, the energy levels remind me of Mocha as a younger horse. I’m the one who has to remember to cool her out and spend time warming up. Left to herself, I think she’d take off and be a real wild woman at speed.

I also spend time trying to figure out what her herd dynamics are. She seems to be a lower-level trickster, liking to get her friends moving and stirred up when she feels like it.

All in all, though, it’s fun.

The last two weeks have played havoc with a lot of my writing stuff, as well as my recording of the books I’ve read on Goodreads. I met my reading challenge over there–150 books. I think that’s a bit of a push for me, but we’ll see what my final count for the year will be.

I finally sat down today and started fixing some of the short story submission stuff that got mucked up in the SpiritOne debacle. Fortunately, it appears that I got a bunch of stories rejected before the old email went belly up, which is good. The remaining market is…swamped, so I think I can assume a rejection. Whew. That’s back to normal. But it’s still just seven stories, so at some point I need to sit down and write some spec stories to be sending out to markets. Then I need to work on the anthology, as well as put together the Learning in Space: Bess and Alex compilation. At one point I thought I’d have that book ready for Orycon, but really? I don’t do a lot of sales there. If I can get it ready for even the last part of Jingle thru Joseph, that would be good. Otherwise…

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Hurricane Creek hike

So today was pretty much a decadent, no craft, no writing sort of day. It was nice, sunny, and a bit cold. So we went up Hurricane Creek for a little hike of about six miles total, three out, three back.

I had to contrast today’s hike with what we were doing in the Southwest just two and a half weeks ago. Then, I struggled up slickrock to reach Delicate Arch, and fretted because my hips didn’t like me, my feet hurt, my knees hurt, and it seemed harder than it should be to make that climb with that elevation gain. It was a pattern that seemed to be constant in Arches National Park, and I eventually decided it must be due to the texture of the sandy portions and the nature of slickrock.

Today I hiked farther, in snow and ice, with much less effort even though there was a comparable elevation gain. The only touchy places were on the return, in several icy downhill pitches. My knee started aching a little, but overall? Much easier to hike three times as far than it was in the Southwest.

Still scratching my head over that. Granted, the last night in Moab, I had something weird pop up in my dreams–this is not your place. That floored me. I’ve liked the Southwest and it was a nice trip, with lovely fall colors against the red rocks and all. All the same, that dream kind of coalesced…something…that kept coming up even though I kept denying it. Granted, Montecello didn’t sit well with me for some reason, somewhat echoing the feelings I had there the last time we stayed in that town. But Moab? There’s a small literary scene, an art scene, I bought new snow boots at a serious discount in Moab…and yet there was that continuing theme throughout my dreams that night.

This is not your place.

Maybe that’s why Hurricane Creek felt so good, because since we’ve been back in Enterprise I’ve felt even more at home. My boots grabbed into the soil, giving me needed traction as we hiked along. I decided along the way that maybe I needed to invest in some hiking poles. But I didn’t struggle the way I did hiking in the Southwest. It was a perfect late fall day to hike up the creek, and we were far from the only ones hitting the trail. Patches of snow intermittently covered the trail, icy in places but nothing too bad. We examined the remains of the Falls Creek fire, studied several impressive avalanche remains, and otherwise had a nice hike.

In contrast, this is definitely my place. Not stark, steep red cliffs but rugged mountains with a whisper of snow on the tops. Gray, white, and brown cliffs with narrow ridged columns instead of flat iron-red slabs. Clouds skittering high over a narrow treed valley with baretopped mountains.

Hubby forgot the sandwiches so we only had a banana for lunch. That was okay. I forgot the big camera so no pictures.

And afterward, we did make one concession to craft and went to Joseph where I got more backing fabric for pillows. I’ll have pillows available to sell at Jingle thru Joseph, some Christmas-themed, others not. The first ones came out pretty well so I have hopes that I’ll have more nice ones.

A nice day. I probably should have worked on compiling Learning in Space but I didn’t.

Sometimes you just gotta goof off. After the past two weeks, I’ve earned this.

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Contemplating a three day weekend

This morning I commented to the husband that it felt like I had finally come through the other end of a very intense and busy time. He looked at me. “You have been going full speed for the last couple of weeks. And next week is Orycon.”

Oh yeah. Orycon, then Jingle thru Joseph for two weekends, and then…it’s December, yeehaw!

But for some reason the past few weeks really feel nuts. Well, okay. Driving trip to the Southwest. Working while traveling. Trying to get the short story done for the anthology (for which I have to start doing edits). Facing this week of work, which involved cramming twice my usual work time into four days (thinking about this, um, yeah. 24 hours worth of work in 4 days is three days worth of a full time schedule. And I was sick two of those days. So. Yeah. Guess things have been a bit intense). And then last week was getting back from the Southwestern trip, getting ready for the Harvest Sale, then doing the Harvest Sale…okay, I can see why I was feeling a bit stressed and crazy. DUH.

The brief flirtation with snow appears to be fading. Oh, there’s still bits of snow and ice around, but it’s warmed up outside. Mocha worked up a respectable sweat but part of that was looking for an excuse to be Miss Drama Queen because she hadn’t been ridden in five days, and it was nippy. Her new pasture friend is clingy but…when I call, she comes to me and brings Mocha. So I give her a cookie. The two of them seem to have a nicely mellow friendship, though it’s hard to say for how much longer that will go on. All the same, they seem to be positive buddies. Mocha called to her when I turned Mocha loose, and her friend answered. Mocha galloped halfway out and her friend galloped to meet her. They sniffed noses, walked around a bit, then settled to graze. One of the two geldings in with them decided to come join them, while the other gelding who’s been a butt to Mocha was odd one out.

Riding today was pretty decent, at least until we went off on a new direction and Miss Drama Queen decided she needed to be…well, Miss Drama Queen. Not sure what set her off but she was skittery at a lot of stuff. I ended up taking up contact and making her collect up, which I usually don’t do when road riding.

Ah well, it’s good that she’s sparky and energetic at her age. It gives me hope that we’ll be riding together for a few more years.

Then home, and making two pillows.

But I’ve lost one of my SW Native American horse earrings. I had to search and search to find that pair. Went to brush my hand across my ears while at the computer earlier…and one earring was gone, the other one partially out. I hope that means I lost it here in the house and not at the barn or on the road. Darn it. It’s annoying because it is damnably hard to find Native horse figures, and I can’t seem to hand onto them (a turquoise pawn horsehead ring disappeared, too. A sign?). I looked and looked on our Southwestern trip, and the only thing I could find were horrifically spendy turquoise pendants, which weren’t what I wanted…I wanted a nice little pair of silver earrings like I have. Had.

Sigh.

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Good intentions

So here we go again. I had good intentions when I was trying to churn out a post a week about writing. And then…well…the heat and smoke of August this year wrapped around me and I just couldn’t get to it. Of course, then what happens is that the intentions of blogging pile up, and up, and up…yeah. So here we are in early November, almost three months since I last blogged. That’s been one of my longest periods without blogging.

What got me started again was a discussion on one of my writer Facebook groups about blogging–how much, when, and where. One person commented that he blogs daily, at the end of the day, as a brief rumination as well as the cultivation of a habit. I thought about this. When I was blogging regularly, I was doing it first thing in the morning before work, after getting words down. I’d also been blogging my ski excursions. Then stuff happened. LiveJournal went weird. Jay Lake died–Jay had been one of my inspirations for regular blogging. I semi-retired from classroom teaching, we bought the place in Enterprise, and since then I’m finding that writing in the morning isn’t always a reliable thing.

So I’m going to start trying to blog more frequently, every night if I can. I figure that might be more doable than the mornings, especially now that we’re getting into winter and daylight hours are already a premium.

We’ll see what happens.

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Lots of stuff going on….

As usual, June is flying by. Between MisCon and 4th of July, it always seems like I’m flying around getting things wrapped up for the end of the school year and then jumping into summer stuff. It’s no different now that I’m working online instead of in a classroom. OTOH, I’m less tired from working online, so that’s a win.

The late spring meant we’ve been dragging on getting the garden running and getting in the wood. But at last, we got the garden finished off in early June and it is happily growing at our friend S’s place in Clatskanie. This past week in Enterprise, we did get two loads of wood hauled, plus horse show stuff…

But there’s so much to blog about and I keep putting it off because, well, who wants to spam the linkage? I’m thinking now that I need to write some things but just not publish them. The alternative is not blogging at all…and I am discovering that I really don’t like that option, either.

So yeah. Time to start writing blog posts and timing them. I will post one soon talking about the two short pieces I have available on preorder right now. I also want to post about politics, because I’m contemplating a few things. I also want to write and post something about a few things I’ve been considering about writing process that has solidified to some extent by now. And then I also want to blog about the horse.

Meanwhile, I’m putting this one up. Hopefully we’ll see a flurry of posting soon.

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Back on the planks again

Skis, that is. It’s been two years since we went skiing. The first year, we had our Fusion passes ready to go, but no snow. Last year, because of my fall with Mocha in the summer, I couldn’t get my injured foot in my ski boot and I lacked confidence in the strength of my ankle. I missed skiing not just at Timberline but at Ferguson Ridge, the little ski area in Wallowa County.

This winter was and still is epic snow. Nearly 200 inches at Timberline right now. But I still couldn’t get my feet into those damn boots. So I finally broke down and went to the chiropractor for two sessions of footwork that my massage therapist recommended. After the second session, I shared with the chiropractor that I still couldn’t get my feet into the boots.

He frowned, and had me sit down so he could examine my feet further. “It shouldn’t be a problem,” he said. “Your feet are flexing properly. Go talk to a boot fitter.”

So I called down to Portland to a boot fitter, and the boot fitter recommended exposing the boots to heat. Given that it was still winter, and the wood stove was burning, I parked the boots by the wood stove. A few hours later–et voila! I could jam my feet into the boots. I followed a further recommendation and yanked the tongues out as far as I could to see if that would also loosen things up.

Next, it became a question of when in a busy Portland schedule we could fit skiing in. By this point it was mid-March and the Timberline spring passes were on sale. But I knew from bitter experience that Spring Break at Timberline is total chaos, so…we didn’t go.

The stars finally aligned. I had started questioning if I wanted to ski again, but figured well, give it a try. I have a lot of things I’m wanting to do these days and not many of them are in Portland. Still, it seemed to be a good idea to give it a try, especially how epic this winter has been. Plus with the latest cold and wet spell, there’d been a fresh dump of snow in the Cascades.

We didn’t race up the hill like we had when cramming skiing in during time off on weekends, or like I did when skiing before work. All the same I had a brief sinking sensation in my stomach as I came down Cherryville, and had to remind myself that I wasn’t going to work, I was just going skiing and having fun.

The lot was almost full, which surprised us. It was as slick and icy as ever. Fortunately, several months of life in the snow and ice meant we were a bit more skilled at navigating the parking lot ice rink. Despite the full lot, we were able to get our passes quickly, then go back to boot up and unbag the skis. As I wrenched my snug boots on, I heard the whoosh from the wings of a parking lot raven flying low. I decided that was a good omen because I’ve always enjoyed watching the ravens play at Timberline. It was easier to walk back to the lodge in ski boots instead of my other shoes. I had some trepidation as I stepped into my bindings–woman, are you crazy?!!–but told my inner chicken to shut up and pushed off. It couldn’t be any worse than taking Mocha back out on the roads this spring after a layoff.

Lordy, I’d forgotten just how tight those Dalbello Electra boots are. And I gave myself a serious case of thigh burn overcontrolling every turn down the first slope to West Leg Road, and the relief of an easy glide to Stormin’ Norman. The second slope down to Norman was shorter and easier, and I found the whisper of a flow to my movement.

We hopped on the chair and rode to the top of Norman. It had changed since the last time we skied there, with a lot of big, big jumps. But the snow was powdery even though there were snowboard divots we had to work through to get to the really good part of the run.

I had to stop twice on the first run because my feet were still screaming about those tight boots. But I told myself to ignore it because tight is better than loose. I had a bad fall from packed out liners in soft boots so I’m paranoid about that now. My thighs were also unhappy because–again–I was overcontrolling and not skiing relaxed.

Everything clicked on that second run. The boots loosened up and I found myself able to use my feet more effectively. My arms and shoulders rotated from turn to turn as they should. After that first run, my thighs stopped aching so bad and I was able to pick up a little speed.

We decided after four runs that this was good for a first day. We both had more in us, but I knew that if something funky happened I was just tired enough to cause me problems. And after all, it was on par for what we’ve done in the past for our first days skiing. So we glided back to the lodge, and I had a wonderful glide down the bottom of the Magic Mile to the lodge.

And oh yeah, we did a selfie in front of the lodge. Because we could, and because this really was the first ski of retirement. Two years late, but we finally made it.

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Coming up on two years

Two years ago we were on the final stages of beginning our new retirement life split between two houses, and contemplating the Big Scary Move hauling the horse on the longest trailer ride she’d had in her life. While we still had things to do with both houses to reflect our changed lifestyle, including moving the son around in the Portland house, and setting things up there, we were taking the big leap and going back part-time to the place we had fallen in love with thirty-four years ago–the place where we started our post-college life, the place where we committed to each other and began our walk together through life. We knew that the transition would take time. In small places like Enterprise, you can’t force your way into the local scene. While we still had friends here, we knew that it would take time to settle in and get to know people and make connections.

What we didn’t know was if we would miss the urban life, or what shape our lives in Enterprise would take. I knew that I needed to do some sort of work, but what, I wasn’t sure. I had hopes of substituting in the local schools, but soon found that there was a lot of competition. I’d considered trying to tutor and offer classes, but early overtures didn’t quite mesh. So I settled back, focused on my writing, and adopted a “let it flow” mentality.

So far there’s been no regrets. I’ve been working online for my old school district for a year and a half now, an endeavor that started when I was called back to do special education assessment to fill in a big hole that circumstances popped up in February of 2016. Sub jobs are starting to drift my way. I may have some other things coming but haven’t signed any paperwork as yet…so….possibilities abound.

And there are more things. Today was the first day this spring where I took the laptop onto the front porch to write, finishing off the Exile’s Honor novelette that I hope to release by late May. I wrote and watched birds at the feeders we’ve finally gotten set up, and kept an eye on a storm moving across the mountains. Yesterday I took Mocha on one of the long road rides we are starting to do again this spring. We saw bald eagles, redtailed hawks, magpies, red-winged blackbirds, a blue heron, California quail, a ringnecked China pheasant rooster, and lots of deer. We went down a road new to us so she was on her toes, full of energy and lining out in a big, bold, forward walk with her head and neck level, ears pricked forward on a loose rein.

Is it the life I’d visualized and anticipated during all those years in Portland dreaming about returning? Yes…and no. It was a different place between then and now. In many ways it is much sweeter–our little house on the hill has a gorgeous view and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed studying the mountains in all their moods. There are more artists and writers here than there were before. We’re not involved in one of the small town businesses as employees. If we want to hole up and be antisocial for a few days, we can. Or if we want to get out and do things (mostly me), there are things to do. I’m starting to take up quilting, and have discovered that I can be somewhat decent at it. I’ve joined the Soroptimists, and am getting caught up in their activities locally to improve things for women and girls. I’m getting to be known as one of the local writers, and have had a couple of occasions where someone has asked me how my writing is going when out and about in the local shops. The past two Christmases I’ve participated in local craft shows, and hope to do more of it.

My asthma is happier here. I’ve adapted and enjoy the slower pace of life, which includes the possibility of running into people we know at the grocery store and stopping for a chat.

Not all is sunny and perfect, though. The son has had health problems. We fret about making it down to Clatskanie to cultivate the garden with our friend, especially in a damp and cold spring like we are having here. Sometimes the six hours between here and Portland seem like forever.

But then the sun comes out between the clouds, and we get a different glow.

We go down to Portland and get our taste of urban life, and then retreat. Right now we seem to have a decent balance, and I hope that continues. There are times when I think I should be more driven, more ambitious, and fill my days with more activity…and then I look at what I’ve actually been doing, and decide that perhaps I’m all right after all.

Summer will soon be here, with the frenetic activity that comes with it being the main money-making/food cultivation/food harvest/woodcutting season.

I think it’ll be all right.

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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:

cover

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6IN53D

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?

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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.

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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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