Monthly Archives: January 2022

Riding the old mare in deep snow

Winter is definitely here, and one way it shows is what the old mare and I go through when riding. I keep her in work year-round, weather permitting, in part because she’s arthritic and in part because she enjoys doing something besides hanging out in the pasture. It’s easier to keep an older horse in light fitness during difficult weather if they’re sound than to let them decondition, then have to bring them back into fitness when conditions improve. Been there. Done that. Barring illness or injury, I’d sooner figure out ways to keep her safely in work.

She’s always been a horse who likes to be ridden, and now that semi-retirement is her gig, she enjoys small mental challenges, light schooling, and–her absolute favorite–road riding over familiar roads where she can snoop on what people/wildlife/livestock are doing. Oh yes, she is definitely a snoopy old lady, and she notices anything new on our rounds.

Some snow years, it never gets much deeper than 8 inches. That’s just about perfect for all three gaits–a bit of work, but cushioning from the hard frozen ground, and I dare say that the old lady somewhat enjoys galloping through snow.

This winter, however, has deep snow. As in 12-18 inches in places in the pasture. The horses–all of the herd–follow trails and tracks. Some are trails that they have made and firmed down through repeated use, especially from the bigger and taller horses. Mocha’s one of the shorties in the field at 14.2 hands high (one hand=4 inches, so she’s 58 inches high). Going through this deeper snow is work for the old lady, so….we follow trails and tracks.

Here’s some perspective on snow depth:

The barn owner uses the backhoe (which delivers the 1000 pound or so bales to the herd) to make safe trails for the horses around the scattered hay. They also plow out sections for the horses to walk. Since they feed in different locations in the 30-acre field, that means Mocha and I can manage to get light walk works in by following the backhoe tracks in areas away from the herd.

We don’t move out of a walk on these trails–the footing is too uncertain. Mocha prefers to move with her head lowered, whether she has a rider or not. But we manage to wind our way in and out through the trails and tracks, including sharp turns to change direction. Mocha likes that, and starts anticipating potential track variations.

Surprisingly, it’s pretty easy to rack up some distance on these circuits. We do five loops in one direction, five in the other.

Today, we went for 3.5 miles, according to my phone. All at a careful walk. It was sunny for most of the ride, but then the freezing fog rolled in, leaving its mark on Mocha’s whiskers, chest hair, and forelock. Not sure how well it will show up in the picture, but it’s worth a try.

Besides, you all like Mocha pix, right?

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Publicity and Promotion Planning

Illustration of office

Planning promotion; picture by author

Sigh. I’m letting blog topics pile up on me again, but this one mugged me, in part because the event that kicked off the inspiration for this post just happened this morning.

I took a Publicity 101 workshop this morning with Barbara Linn Probst through Jane Friedman. Part of the motivation for taking this class is the ever-increasing need and desire to do promotion and publicity.

I learned a lot from this class, but my primary takeaway was that I really, REALLY needed to think about promoting not one book but my entire collection of work, especially in an era when I’m not certain if or when I will be doing live convention and bazaar appearances anytime soon. Both the husband and I are nervous, plus after a while, the thought of dealing with travel, etc, etc becomes tiring. I’m sure I’ll get over it as Covid finally settles down (and yes, I believe it will settle at some point) but, until then, I’m getting into my mid-sixties and have to think about situations where health and other issues might interfere with my ability to make live appearances.

Additionally, I’m also focusing on organic promotion activities rather than buying ads. Sure, people report large returns from buying ads. BUT. The outlays to get them–and the learning curve–is more than a little bit intimidating.

I also feel like I’ve not maximized my organic promotion potential. What’s in my way? Well, the lack of organization, for one. The inability to easily perform the task. The inability to flat out say that I am doing X today, Y tomorrow, and Z the day after on a regular basis.

See, I know the organic stuff works. I did a wee bit of it as part of the Martiniere Legacy promotion, and just that little bit of effort brought me more sales. However, there’s more to my backlog of work than the Martiniere Legacy. There’s the Goddess’s Honor books. Their sales have sadly fallen off since the Martiniere Legacy came on the scene. I need to make good new promotion for that series. I’m going to be rebranding and reissuing the Netwalk books starting in March. Then there’s the collection of standalone books, including the latest, Beating the Apocalypse, which is now available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. The short story reprints. The works-in-progress currently serializing on Kindle Vella and Substack.

But as part of looking up payments and fiddling around waiting for the news of the latest Kindle Vella bonuses, I spotted a listing of my works on Amazon. 40 works.

40 works.

About half of those are anthologies I’m in, and short story reprints.

All the same.

40 works, 20 of which are books.

I should be seeing more sales than I am–and the fact that I’m not is entirely on me, and my lack of promotional work.

That, more than anything else, has kicked me in the butt. Oh, the other piece is that I also plan to update the interiors for the Goddess’s Honor works, as well as the back matter. That could lead to some cover adjustments for the paperback copies, but…it’s time for me to get organized on the promotional stuff, and get a system in place.

At the moment, what I’m considering is the following:

Create comprehensive landing pages that cover the Netwalk Sequence series, the Goddess’s Honor series, the Martiniere Legacy series, the standalone books, the reprint short stories, and the serialized works-in-progress.

Make a set of images that relate to and describe each piece of those categories.

Rotate through the categories each week, with a seventh category–New Release Week, which will be the last week of every month–for 2022.

Make a schedule, and then DO IT. Get promotion to become part of a routine, so that it’s easy.

Therefore the picture above. Four pages of notes and planning, with some action items. The area pictured is my planning and handwriting desk space (my computer lives on a second desk; I need both spaces for optimal production).

I’ve been half-assing this promotional work for a while. It’s time for me to get my act together, and be productive, right? Not beat myself up trying to implement it all at once, but bite it off in small, doable chunks. Give myself several weeks or months to fully implement it.

There’s also an ulterior motive for me to write about this in a blog post–if I do this, then hopefully I’ll keep myself accountable and actually DO IT. Especially if I keep scheduling accountability reports…or at least, that’s the hope.

We shall see.

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The range of clothing choices

(Surprise! No writing rant this time, just maundering around about clothing choices.)

One of the reasons I roll my eyes at the standard downsizing advice to “discard anything you haven’t worn in the past year” is that I’ve found I switch out my fashion choices not just by season but by year. Some years, I’ll prefer a particular set of winter clothing. Other years, something else. It’s kind of annoying to be expected to switch things around and keep buying new stuff just because I don’t choose to wear the same items from year to year.

A lot of this range has to do with the way the different seasons manifest themselves here in the Pacific Northwest, as well as where I’m going and what I’m doing. Things change from year to year, as does my mood. Mind you, I’m not talking about a huge amount of clothing that I keep. I try to buy quality, for the most part, and rotate through seasonal bins, some of which cross over (fall/winter/spring, spring/summer/fall). It all depends on what kind of season we’re having.

The other piece? If I get rid of something because I’m not wearing it right now, inevitably, a few years down the road I’ll want that clothing item again, and where on earth can I find it? Nowhere.

For example. Turtlenecks in winter. A few years back, I decreed no more turtlenecks and disposed of most of mine, I’m not sure why. Then, a couple of years later, I found myself wanting to wear turtlenecks in the cool seasons again. But finding them…arrgh. I finally ran across a couple in a thrift shop and bought them. Learned that lesson.

Or unstained short-sleeved crew neck blouses in spring and summer. I got caught out on that one last summer, due to heat and the need to come up with ensembles that might work for urban exposure. Sure, I have a lot of t-shirts, but they just weren’t gonna work for this situation. Most of what I had on hand had been relegated to hiking, horse work, wood hauling, outdoor chores–and they had acquired various stains (welp, being–ahem–rather busty, The Shelf, as I call it, tends to catch food. Another source of stains, no matter how much care I take).

Some years I wear jeans all the time, winter, spring and fall.

Others, I wear skirts and dresses around the house and for non-outdoor, non-hiking, non-horse activities.

I have several pairs of leg warmers. Most of the time, they languish in the drawer during winter. This past winter, suddenly I’m wanting to wear them on a regular basis.

What I have done in my sorting is culling uncomfortable items, high-maintenance items that don’t serve a particular purpose, and items that fall into the fast fashion, absurdly stylish range. Though I have regrets in that area as well (such as disposing of some much-loved color block sweaters and t-shirts).

But getting rid of something just because I haven’t worn it in a year or so?

Guaranteed to be something I want to wear within a year.

Ah well. Now that I live a significant distance from temptation, and Covid has restricted my shopping, I’ve found that rotating clothing between seasons is enough to give me joy.

And I can comfort myself with the realization that I’m no longer being a slave to fashion.


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Another writer behavior rant–inflating credentials

All right. I really wasn’t planning to do another writer rant this soon after the last professional behavior one.

And then I saw a prime example of a behavior I really, really dislike on Twitter this morning.

A writer with “USA TODAY bestseller” in their bio showed up in someone else’s comments and started–ahem–mansplaining, combined with gaslighting. It was a political thread, nothing to do with publishing, and they started throwing off standard red flags that indicate that they’re, um, kinda stereotypic in their views about women and what women are attracted to in a man (specifically, that women are turned off by men who cry). Person got more and more defensive, accusing the women who said that said person does NOT speak for all women, and, well…

But that’s not the source of my rant, though it’s probably a good thing for said person that they weren’t engaging with romance writers, especially Romancelandia. If that person thought they were getting raked over the coals by us, then Romancelandia–especially since said person writes romance (and whose Big Book falls in the Nazi redeemed by Jewish girlfriend genre) would have really given said person a hard time.

The source of my rant is the claimed “USA TODAY bestseller” in the person’s bio.

I looked it up. Near as I can tell, the work that got that title?


Not the person’s short story in that anthology. The entire anthology. I skimmed through that person’s website, and the publisher listed? One of those packagers that claims they screen all submissions and only take a certain percentage of the best (but as near as anyone in publishing who follows these issues and these packagers can figure out, that has more to do with “how much money can you spend” than anything else).


Perhaps I’m just overly scrupulous. By this person’s lights, I could claim more critical acclaim than I currently do. I’ve been in critically acclaimed anthologies. Heck, some of my work has briefly flirted with Amazon bestseller status. But I don’t make a big deal about it. Why?

Because while all of those wonderful, marvelous placements give me joy, they are not the Big Ones. Because I know too much about what is involved in earning such titles than to stuff them into my short bios. Well, I’ve taken to trumpeting the Writers of the Future and Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off semifinalist placements in my long bios, along with the Anthology Builder Finalist, but those are all for standalone works, not anthos. One antho I was in earned an USA Book Award accolade; another was an IPPY finalist. Another was recently ranked as Best Short Story Collection of the Year by the Fantasy Hive. I’m sure there’s some that I have forgotten, but oh well.

These placements give me joy, but do I think they make me something special?

Not really. I’m a decent writer, the hybrid/self-published version of a solid midlist writer in traditional publishing. I turn out decent stories but nothing that is of the ilk that propels me out of the rank and file into greater visibility. I’ve made peace with myself about that. It’s just the way things are. I have fans who appreciate my work, and that’s great.


There tends to be a common thread amongst writers who play up and inflate their award credentials.

First of all, they tend to be amongst the aggressive and poorly-behaved writers who take offense if their pronouncements are challenged, even outside of their particular areas of expertise.

Second, they tend to–um, well–spend more time promoting themselves than actually writing.

Third, they expect–nay, frequently demand–recognition that doesn’t match their performance.

And finally, in the long run, they end up flouncing off, grumbling because we don’t acknowledge them as wonderful, marvelous, and the final authority.

One of the prima donnas of publishing, in other words.

In this case, the person deleted their Twitter account after complaining about how mean we wimmens were. But I’ve had similar encounters with women writers, predominantly on Medium. In those situations, the people involved made a big fuss about their prominence, their awards, their recognition.


A quick surf revealed that neither writer had a significant presence OFF of Medium.

Prima donnas.

They come in all varieties, for sure–and they sure aren’t pretty.

And I do my best not to be one of them–which starts by not describing myself as an “award-winning writer.”

Gimme a Hugo, a Nebula, or something of that level?

Then I’ll beat my chest about what I’ve done. Otherwise?



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Professional behavior amongst writers

A view of my office setup….

I confess to a particular perspective when it comes to contemplating professionalism in any career. Years ago, when I was majoring in Recreation and Park Management, one of our instructors gave us a stern look and firmly said, “Always act like a reasonable and prudent professional.”

She strongly stressed the reasonable and prudent aspects of the phrase, and I’ve found that this attitude works very well in all phases of any career.

I guess that’s why I get so gobsmacked by what I consider to be non-professional behavior amongst certain prima donna sorts of the writing profession–a behavior which is not limited to those who have perhaps earned the right to behave as if the world owes them fealty.

One thing I learned early on as a writer is that the writing world, especially once you establish yourself in one corner of it, is very, very small. If you’re dealing with traditional publishing, especially in these days where the Big Five are careening toward becoming a single entity, this is particularly true. Editors, other writers, and agents gossip. There’s a quiet list of people who are difficult to work with–for whatever reasons. Talent can only carry a person so far, and I do know of situations where a more work-focused writer has nabbed publicity slots made available by the failure of a more-acclaimed and less-reasonable author to make their deadlines. But even in self-publishing you run into the situation where you can earn a bad reputation by not fulfilling obligations and promises.

So meeting deadlines unless you’ve been hit with health or family issues is one aspect of being a professional writer. Doesn’t matter if those deadlines are self-imposed or external. They count.

Prudent also applies to how a writer treats other people. There are, unfortunately, a set of writers out there who are a.) extremely competitive and view writing as a competition and b.) believe that acting like an edgelord and attacking/mocking others gains them more visibility and more eyeballs. This perspective isn’t just limited to up and coming writers. We have many sad examples of award-winning, best-selling writers who behave in this manner. Or of cliques of writers who band together to mock someone’s behavior for…no real reason, except to mob someone they want to exclude.

Problem is, such behavior, especially when it is punching down on someone who isn’t as prominent, or is attacking entire subgroups of people, ends up backfiring in the long run. There’s one best-selling author who I won’t name (unnecessary,  honestly) who has done serious damage to their reputation and continues to do so. That person is sufficiently prominent that they will probably never come face-to-face with the consequences of their stance, but–they’ve lost readers and future sales.

Sniping and attacking others in a failing attempt to elevate their own visibility is a frequent tactic used by writers who view most, if not all, other writers as competitors. Or they see themselves as gatekeepers of a sort. This is a kind of behavior that can be encouraged by participation in certain types of critique groups, where tearing apart others’ work is seen as a virtue. I’ve seen it in action too many times.

I have problems with the competitive attitude toward writing, in spite of being part of several competitions and having earned a couple of semifinalist placements.

First of all, no one develops their writing skill in a vacuum. NO ONE.

Secondly, each writer has an individual voice, and your reader may not be my reader. Or your reader may have consumed everything you’ve written, and will be happy to find other writers who resonate with them.

Thirdly, I have found that a cooperative attitude opens a lot more doors than a competitive attitude. I’ve personally found more opportunities and advancement through cooperation with others.

Nothing in particular has kicked off this particular set of musings–just a number of incidents over the past year, some personal, some observed. Am I perfect? Oh hell no. But as part of my striving to be a better person and better writer, I’ve found that cooperation goes one hell of a lot further than competition in the writing world.

The thing to keep in mind is that we are a community in the long run. Someone helped us get to where we are now–and once we’ve achieved a modicum of success, it behooves us to help others.

Because you never know. That beginner you help today?

Might end up making it big, and giving you a much-needed opportunity in the future.

One never knows.

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Playing around with a character’s alternative history

Photo purchased from Depositphotos

I got mugged by a story last August. It was completely and totally innocuous–I was working on the last book of the main Martiniere Legacy series, Repairing the Legacy. After a funeral in the same cemetery where Gabe’s parents and sister are buried, I had Gabe and Ruby laying flowers on Saul, Angelica, and Louisa’s graves–then speculating about what would have happened if that plane crash hadn’t occurred when Gabe was twelve. Ruby thinks they wouldn’t have met–Gabe disagrees, and tells her why.

A casual scene, right? Nothing to get excited about, right?

Um. Well. My brain went to work on that story and, well, A Different Life–What If? is not only up to 85k words, but it’s serializing on Kindle Vella, with release first on Kindle Unlimited this spring and then wide in the summer.

Just that one change–the survival of Saul, Angelica, and Louisa–brought about some huge characterization differences. I also subtracted the indentured servitude theme that is key to the main Martiniere Legacy series–in this alternate world, indenture didn’t happen. Martiniere mind control techniques weren’t devised. Philip Martiniere never rose to power within the Martiniere Group but simmered along, succumbing to his psychopathic side and expressing it through some nasty and decadent behavior.

Gabe is broken in a very different manner in A Different Life. In the main series, Philip not only takes control of the Martiniere Group after the death of Gabe’s family when he is twelve, but Philip immediately starts beating and drugging Gabe to reduce his resistance to the Martiniere mind control programming techniques. Gabe doesn’t learn until much later in life that Philip is his biological father and Justine his half-sister. He has no significant sibling support for those six years with Philip because Justine is too young to help him.

In A Different Life, Gabe has had younger sisters all along. He is Saul and Angelica’s petted and somewhat spoiled son, albeit with high expectations, until both he and his cousin Joseph are informed of the devil’s deal surrounding their conception. Due to the feuding between them which threatened the survival of the Martiniere Group, the twin brothers Saul and Philip reluctantly agree to raise each other’s sons to the age of sixteen. The twist? Their wives bear the other brother’s son, conceived through artificial insemination. This piece is common to both the main series and A Different Life. So Saul’s son Joseph is born to Philip’s wife Renate, and Philip’s son Gabriel is born to Saul’s wife Angelica. The notion is that this will keep Saul and Philip from attempting to further harm the other–except that Philip keeps sneaking around trying to destroy Saul (therefore, the plane crash that orphans Gabe at age twelve in the main series)

In the backstory of A Different Life, Joey and Gabe learn the truth about their fathers on Joey’s sixteenth birthday (Joey is the younger of the two). Philip immediately takes custody of Gabe and institutes a program intended to break Gabe to his will. It’s pretty hideous, and there are scenes I’ve visualized that will never be written. In some ways, Gabe in A Different Life is more fragile than the main series Gabe as a result. The main series Gabe learned survival at a younger age, before his teen years, including learning to drink hard to minimize the impact of Philip’s mind control techniques on him. But sixteen-year-old Gabe in A Different Life has started to mature under the influence of the much saner Saul, and everything comes as a shock to him. He’s been raised to expect he will follow in Saul’s footsteps and take control of the Martiniere Group. Then he learns that Saul is not his father, while the uncle he has grown to despise is. Furthermore, Gabe has to endure Philip’s household for two years in order to be eligible for that role in the succession–all determined by the edicts laid down by his grandmother Donna.

(Yes. This is twisty and complicated. I kinda like writing twisty and complicated things.)

The Gabe of A Different Life is not as hardened as the main series Gabe at the same age. He hasn’t had to defend himself against mind control, and he still had the hope of escaping Philip even during that hellish two years. He still has certain illusions about the world, fairness, and equity that his main series counterpart never developed. He’s not as sexually sophisticated as the main series Gabe–well, kinda sorta, because of what he experienced in Philip’s household. When he meets Ruby, he’s coming off a significant relationship with Miranda Cathcart-Rogers–that ended when he discovered her in bed with Joey. He escapes his demons by working until he collapses from exhaustion, to the point that it concerns his family. He’s a driven man, but the concern that drives him is worry about climate change, not trying to thwart Philip Martiniere’s abuses of indentured workers like the main series Gabe.

Anyway (if people haven’t gotten bored of all of this by now and stopped reading), it’s been interesting to take one of my characters and explore the impact of a different pathway upon their development. Certain traits are similar to both men–noble goals, a strong sense of right and wrong, high energy and intelligence, a fondness for horses, and protective instincts toward those he loves. The differences in behavior, however, are fascinating. The Gabe of the main series has learned to lie effectively, including to himself. A Different Life’s Gabe doesn’t have that skill. He never needed to develop it, and is much more open with Ruby as a result. Main series Gabe is hard enough to kill raiders attacking him and Ruby on an interstate highway without a lot of reaction. A Different Life Gabe reacts viscerally to the need to order an opponent’s death.

Ultimately, while the two Gabes share a lot of defining characteristics, that one change in their backstory leads to two very divergent stories. Could I have explored this concept by not reusing the characters? Possibly.

But it’s been a very interesting and effective exercise. I don’t think I would have learned as much from writing A Different Life–What If? with different characters.

It’s given me a lot to consider about the worldbuilding process, and how particular change points in a character’s history can lead to two very different stories.

Might be kinda useful since my next big project focuses on a multiverse Weird West story.


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Goal Setting and Organization, 2022

One of the things I try to do at the beginning of the year is create a planning document (as partially pictured in the screenshot above) which outlines the stories I plan to write for the year, and then try to update that plan quarterly. As a planning document, it’s not meant to be cast in stone. Rather, it’s intended to be a road map, something to give me guidance. In the years that I’ve dedicated to self-publishing rather than traditional publishing, I’ve expanded the document to include publication dates and production times.

But it’s all rough. This is something I’ve been doing for five years or so now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that stuff happens. Life happens. Emergencies can throw the schedule out of whack, a story can prove to be more difficult, or other stories suddenly appear and shoulder the planned work out of the way. It’s a tentative plan, an attempt to help me focus on what I need to be doing. Checklists work well for me when it comes to accountability, and the full schedule (the above screenshot is just a snippet) is posted on the wall behind my computer.

However, just like the first draft of a story, this plan is a work in progress.

This year, I’ve decided that I am keeping Covid awareness in the schedule. To that end, it’s a year that I intend to spend working with half-finished stories that may or may not justify anything beyond ebook release. I’ve spend over two years working with a very intense series, The Martiniere Legacy, and I want a break from that type of intensity. Next year, I’ll be diving into the second series in the Goddess’s Honor world, the Goddess’s Vision series, and probably turning those books out in a short period of time (worldbuilding thoughts are happening idly right now, and I’m doing appropriate reading and thinking about where I want to go with the Vision books). I still need to finish the two Martiniere books I have on my schedule–A Different Life and Repairing the Legacy. That leaves one half-formed Martiniere set of stories to be turned out at some point, but they need to rest.

These other projects–most are short standalones, appropriate for a serial format, and I’m experimenting with that on both Substack and Kindle Vella. To some degree, working on them also requires that I maintain a schedule so that I am meeting my deadlines. One thing which has come out of networking with other writers on Substack and Vella has been an exposure to writers who are turning out a lot of work, and talking with them about production and writing discipline.

The other piece is that if I am going to have effective promotion and sales, I have to start scheduling work. I have to plan. I’ve done entirely too much promotion on the fly because my focus has been on writing. Well, that kinda sorta maybe works. I need to be creating the buzz and regularly talking about writing these stories. Doing this requires planning, scheduling, and looking at other parts of my life and planning and scheduling there.

I want to be turning out fabric art pieces as well as writing. I need to be able to do promotion and sales for those items.

I have to reinstate the discipline I somewhat lost during the first two years of Covid, when all I did was write about the Martinieres. Well, that was an impressive body of work–but it’s time to get to these other, someday pieces as well. To that end, I’m also getting back into blogging and daily journaling. At some point, I’ll be posting political thoughts exclusively on my political Substack, perhaps with a crosspost to Medium. I’ve mucked out my office and created a space where I can handwrite and plan–and the planner, plus a notepad for a daily to-do lists.

This isn’t new to me. I’ve done this sort of intense organizational structure before. Only then it was with a Dayrunner. During the teaching years, I used other accountability methods, including to-do lists, the early stages of the current format of publication planning, and a word count tracking sheet in Excel. I’m not going back to word count tracking–at least not yet–but I have the weekly Moleskine planner with a similar format as the Dayrunner I liked, and the to-do list.

We’ll see how long this flurry of organization works.


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Well, that was a day.

Yesterday (January 3rd), I’d planned to blog about my projected publication schedule for 2022, moving into a wee bit of a writing process blog. Yeah, I’m trying to blog daily or mostly daily, along with journaling. Part of the new world of discipline to get myself back on track and stop letting the current situation rule my moods (and moving beyond writing about the Martinieres, though there’s still Martiniere work in my schedule!).

Yeah. That was the plan.

Husband woke me at around 7:30 as he was fumbling around to find his pants. A forecast windstorm was blowing hard, and he’d heard thumps against the side of the house. Concerned that it might be the wood stove chimney, he wanted to go outside and take a look (yes, it was blowing that hard). Fortunately, it wasn’t the chimney…just loose shingles from a couple of squares that a contractor had put on the neighbor’s roof, then never finished the job. Mostly (some were pieces of shingles that had blown off the house).

I got up, brewed a pot of tea, and started doing the quick version of social media browsing. Another vow I’d taken was that I would do limited social media, AFTER I wrote out a to-do list for the day to be affixed to the side of the iMac. Part of this ambitious publication and production schedule–including time for craft work–is that I need to get stuff done, which means The List. No sooner had I started breakfast than we started worrying about the bird feeders. The wind was blowing too hard for the husband to safely climb on the ladder, so he’d brought it in through the house–the wind had blown the snow into drifts blocking the garage door. I pulled on clothing and was ready to go out with him during a lull when they blew down.

And then–the power went off.

Welp, that meant a quick call to the power company to inform them. After thirty years living in Portland, and dealing with Portland General Electric, I quickly learned that the more reports an outage gets, the sooner it gets managed. It’s not quite the same here, but all the same, reaching for the phone to make an outage report is second nature anymore.

Next, I had to save my work and shut down the iMac. I started using a power supply rather than a surge protector when I bought my first iMac in 2009, because the Portland house had frequent issues (often due to suicidal squirrels electrocuting themselves on powerlines), and it’s awfully nice to have those few minutes to save my work. Then I had to turn off the power supply so it wouldn’t keep cheeping at me. Hubby took care of the rest of the electronics/breaker stuff.

Then we took stock. The estimate for power returning was 5:30 pm–after dark. It’s a lot better to round up all the stuff needed for power outages in daylight than after dark. So it became Quest for Flashlights, pulling everything out. We do have a decent supply of flashlights because of a lot of outdoor activity. Even when you go out to the woods during the day, it’s best to be prepared with flashlights in case trouble happens. So Flashlight Check happened, making sure that we had working batteries, etc, etc, and had them stationed where appropriate. Then he brought up our big battery-powered lantern. It’s cranky, so we fiddled with it until we got it to work. I pulled out a TV tray to set between our recliners, and went downstairs to bring up my PartyLite candle holders and the supply of tealights, happily discovering that I still had another three-wick candle as well.

We discussed refrigerator/freezer issues, and decided to treat the refrigerator like a camp cooler during a hot summer weekend–that is, don’t open it very often, plan what we were going to eat. The most problematic stuff was leftover pizza, which we ended up eating for lunch and dinner. There was an uncooked frozen whole chicken still thawing and it was definitely still frozen.

The wood stove was already burning, and we put the teakettle on to keep warm water available to make tea and cocoa.

Preparation done, we settled in to read. A recorded update call pushed back the power restoration to a couple of hours later. I occasionally surfed the local travel group on Facebook and learned the cause of our outage–a big tree in town had taken down a power pole with a lot of lines on it. Meanwhile, the county and state authorities were all saying STAY HOME. The wind was running about 40 mph steadily, with occasional 80-90 mph gusts. There were people already trapped in snowdrifts, and the county and state was struggling to keep the roads plowed.

We stayed home. I finished Jane Howard’s biography of Margaret Mead (a reread), and another anthropology text–both fodder for future worldbuilding ideas. The wind died down around 1 pm, so we started digging out of the drifts. The wind managed to blow most of the snow off of the roof and drift by the garage door. It was packed pretty hard as well. We wanted to get it out because there was a forecast for more snow coming in the evening–better to dig smaller amounts more frequently than one big pile all at once.

The power didn’t come back on by 5:30 pm. Not by 7:30 pm. The battery lantern worked well for reading. I lit the candles. By 10:30, it was clear that power coming back wasn’t going to happen right away. Snow was falling outside, and there was enough reflection from it on the ground and the lights from the part of town that still had power to see reasonably well. We went to bed, leaving the hallway light on to alert us when the power came back.

It came back at 4 am. We snuggled for fifteen minutes more, waiting to ensure it wasn’t a fluke, then got up. The other piece was not overloading the grid as it powered up (hubby and I both have childhood/youth experience with older power grids in rural areas), so we staggered the plugging in of major appliances. After taking care of things, and checking the refrigerator temperature–it had remained below 40 degrees, so yay! Safe food!–I went back to bed while hubby stayed up (he is a morning person, I am NOT).

The only victim of the outage was a long-life lamp bulb. We shoveled more snow today.

This is the only writing I’ve gotten done today, but hey, I shoveled more snow, hosted the monthly Soroptimist Zoom meeting, and spent time trying to catch up with emails and other things I’d fallen behind on due to the outage.

Normal schedule resumes tomorrow. I think.

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Awards Eligibility Post

Despite the sinking hunch that this post is nothing more than an exercise in futility, I’m going to let you all know what I’ve produced in the last year that is eligible for awards. At the very least, it’s an exercise in accountability.

All are eligible for the Nebulas, Hugos, Dragons, etc, etc.

Short Stories

“My Man Left Me, My Dog Hates Me, and There Goes My Truck,” in Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day: An Anthology of Hope, edited by Shannon Page.


“Queen of the Snows,” in Once Upon A Winter: A Folk and Fairy Tale Anthology, edited by H. L. Macfarlane. Note: this collection has earned The Fantasy Hive’s endorsement as the Best Short Story Collection of the Year.



The Heritage of Michael Martiniere

“I’m a young man in an old man’s body.”–Mike Martiniere.

Clone Michael Martiniere was fated to die to keep his progenitor, Philip Martiniere, alive. Then Philip’s son Gabe rescued Mike at the age of five, whisking him off to the Double R Ranch where he learns about horses, biobots, robotics–and what it’s like to be loved by a family.

But the toxic physical, psychological, and political legacy of his progenitor continues to haunt Mike. Philip’s physical frailties cause clone effects in Mike, from arthritis and osteoporosis to cancer and heart disease. More than that, Philip has imprinted the notorious Martiniere mind control techniques on Mike, in an attempt to force Mike to submit to his will–even after Philip’s death.

Can Mike have something resembling a real life and win free of Philip’s influence? What will it take for him to banish that toxic legacy of his progenitor–and is it worth the price?

Amazon Books 2 Read

Broken Angel: The Lost Years of Gabriel Martiniere (currently still in the Self Published Science Fiction Competition)

Exiled heir. Rebel. Husband. Father.

In 2029, Gabriel Martiniere testified against the Martiniere Group’s forced imposition of mind control programming on unwilling indentured workers.

For his pains, he was forced into exile for over thirty years. Forced to divorce the love of his life.

But he’s still coming. Still bent on vengeance against the man who forced him into exile, Philip Martiniere.

Gabe will win…or die trying.

Amazon Books 2 Read

Justine Fixes Everything: Reflections on Mortality

Over the years, Justine Martiniere has become the fixer for the Martinieres. Have a problem? Go to Justine to get it remedied.

But it wasn’t always that way. First, Justine needed to escape the abuses of her father, Philip. She didn’t expect to fall in love with the man she married, Donald Atwood. But she did–and then she faced the choice between remaining married to Donald, or stopping her sociopathic, megalomaniac father.

Justine Fixes Everything is in part the unusual love story of Justine and Donald–and in part the saga of her rise to power, viewed in retrospect as she tells the history to Philip’s clone Mike, as he recovers from surgery. It’s about what she sacrificed to become powerful—and, at the same time, how that past comes to haunt the challenges she faces toward the end of her life.

Amazon Books 2 Read


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So. 2022.

Got up this morning to -14 F–not unheard of in this area, but it’s been a few years, thanks to whatever you want to call it. I’m not complaining. After dealing with the heat dome this past summer and everything else that was involved with the nasty hot, dry weather (no, I am not a hot weather fan–my body doesn’t like it). Reports are that it got down to -18 F.

New Year’s Eve was quiet, as it has been for us even before Covid hit. First, it was work-related stuff that kept us from making a big deal about New Year’s; now it’s simply that we do live in a place with snow and cold, and dealing with roads isn’t our thing. Hubby went to bed at eleven; I did at twelve-thirty, when the temperature was -10 F. It’s now eleven-thirty and we’re now at 2 F. Unlike last year the neighborhood didn’t blow up a lot of fireworks. Somebody was but not close enough to see any displays or hear more than the occasional boom. That’s a fairly new thing that’s been happening over the past 2-3 years. I blame newer residents who have come from places where certain holidays sound like war zones. Sigh.

While I’ve not written any formal resolutions, I have some general notions in mind about what I want to do for 2022. Amongst other things, I think I’ve pretty much written all I want to do with the Martinieres, at least the major novel portions. It’s been a good two-year ride, but once I finish the two books I have in progress (Repairing the Legacy, the last book of the main series, and A Different World–What If?, which is what would have happened differently if one small thing changed in the main series), I’ll be moving on. Repairing the Legacy is serializing for free on Substack (Martiniere Stories), every Friday, and A Different World–What If? is serializing on Kindle Vella. It goes to Monday-Wednesday-Friday starting on January 3rd, and will conclude in February. Then I need to leave it there for 30 days. After that, I can publish it.

I also have the edits back for the Netwalk revisions, but no covers. Not a big deal since I think I can make my own using a Depositphotos series. I know what they are, it’s just obtaining them and making the covers.

Beating the Apocalypse, a significant rewrite of an earlier published work, will be coming out in January. It’s up on Kindle Vella right now, and I’ll start by running it through Kindle Unlimited for 90 days, then moving it to wide distribution. This is something I am planning to try for future work–early drafts on Vella, then 90 days on KU, then wide. I have a multiverse Weird West story up on Vella, Bearing Witness, which will go into production for a February release. I plan to write the longer novel of that world once I wrap up the two Martiniere books.

However, the way things look, between the Netwalk Author Preferred version releases, the move of Vella books to KU and then wide, and the two Martiniere books, I should be able to hit a book a month in releases in 2022. At least for the first part of the year. We’ll see if I actually manage to pull this off.

I also want to get back into drafting short stories. One of my stories is in an anthology that earned the “Best Short Story Collection of the Year” from the Fantasy Hive, and there’s three more books planned in that series. The short story in Once Upon a Winter, “Queen of the Snows,” is from the Rust and Flame world that I’ve been poking at for some time now. I think I’m going to get more serious about Rust and Flame, because people either loved that story or were puzzled by it. These stories may kick Rust and Flame loose, especially given the seasonal themes that make up those anthologies. I want to tell that story–and since I tend to do my best worldbuilding through associated short stories–why not? Not sure if I’m getting back on the submissions hamster wheel, however. After having 50% of my stories fail in 2020 due to either falling through the cracks or from publications going dead without notice, I’m kinda “meh” about the hard core write and submit thing I used to do. There are more options now, and I might just suck it up, finish my financial info for Substack, and run them through Substack/Medium before putting them up as e-chapbooks.

But there’s other things as well. Two years of Covid have wiped out my bazaar income. Last year, I ran figures and winced at what it cost me. This year…sigh. I also do want to be doing more fabric art, since I have a sizeable cloth stash, and possibly get myself into more art shows. However, my inventory is somewhat small so I need to take the time to build it up. I don’t think I’m going to do a lot of bowl cozies unless things change drastically with Covid and I feel safe doing bazaars again. But I want to do one-of-a-kind wall hangings and stuff like that which I’ll probably list on Etsy, or another option if I can figure it out.

Overall, this is a regrouping year. Things have changed thanks to 2020, and with everything I see heading our way…haven’t even gotten into the discussions of my gloomy opinions about politics. That, plus turning sixty-four doesn’t help as far as my attitude about the future. I do see ageism, and sexism, and unfortunately I am of a demographic that youngers can dismiss or put aside easily. While I’ve done a lot of things in my life, none of them create the sort of exciting backstory that many in traditional publishing are looking for. If I were twenty years younger, I’d probably have a chance, given the stories I’m working on these days. But at my age? Sorry, I’m cynical.

Ah well. One of my goals this year is to spend more time journaling, both privately and online. We’ll see how that goes. I plan to do an award eligibility post, even though that’s just pissing into the wind at this point. Much as I’d hope otherwise, the reality is that I tend to be a perpetual semifinalist or “just missed” person, both personally and professionally.

Too much to hope for that this will change in my elder years.

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