Friday, April 7, 2017


The idea for this story, which appeared in Stars of Darkover, the first of the Darkover anthologies edited by Deborah J. Ross, wasn't really mine. Ann Sharp, my collaborator, had been threatening to write this back when MZB was still editing Darkover anthologies, but she had never quite gotten around to it. So the idea was hers. I agreed that it was a good gimmick, and we sat down to write it together. That was when we discovered that Ann's decades writing reports for her job in an engineering department gave her a very different writing style from the one I acquired in my decades of working for MZB. Ann came up with character names and a synopsis, and I did a lot of the actual writing. We had fun with it, and I think it turned out pretty well.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Drink of Deadly Wine

This is the tenth story in the Treasures of Albion series that Michael Spence and I write together, and it originally appeared in Sword and Sorceress 28. The inspiration for this story was a combination of two things: (1) Psalm 60, verse 3 "Thou hast showed thy people heavy things; * thou hast given us a drink of deadly wine"; and (2) a museum exhibit.

The exhibit was called China's Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor's Legacy, and it was on display in San Francisco in 2013. I volunteer at the Asian Art Museum, and I nearly had heart failure when I walked past a newspaper vending machine a month before the exhibit was due to open and saw a headline about a "lost" terracotta warrior. China may have thousands of them, but each one is unique, and I don't think the Chinese government would take it well if we misplaced one. I grabbed the paper and read the start of the article: "On January 23, 2013, a terracotta figure became separated from his cohorts as they were en route from China to San Francisco." At that point I relaxed, because I knew that Michael had just seen them at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where they had been until January 27, 2013. It was therefore impossible that any of them had been lost between China and San Francisco on the 23rd. It turned out that the "Lost Warrior" was a publicity campaign for the exhibit.

But the idea of a terracotta warrior (or warriors) wandering around a city did give Michael and me a plot thread for the story. It's the second of our Treasures of Albion stories to come from a museum exhibit we both saw; the first was "Daughter of Heaven."

Friday, February 24, 2017

They That Watch

As I mentioned in my last post, I am going back and filling in the answers to "where did you get the idea for this story?" that I missed during my hiatus from blog writing. "They That Watch" is the 9th story in the Treasures of Albion series that Michael Spence and I have been collaborating on since 1999. Most of them have been published in various volumes of Sword and Sorceress; this one was in Sword and Sorceress 27.

In the introduction to our Treasures story the previous year we had mentioned that Michael and his wife lived with a "canine Guardian." We looked at that phrase and said, "Hmm, now what can we do with a Guardian who is a canine?" So in this story we introduced Mika, who arrived to watch over Melisande and her unborn daughter, who is going to be born as the Guardian of the Paten, a Treasure whose previous Guardian had the misfortune to be killed in the 7th Treasure story.

Reckoning this up, I realize that it really is time for poor Melisande to have the baby--she's been pregnant since 2010. Maybe we can manage that for this year.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Trip of Goats

I originally started this blog to answer the question "where do you get your ideas?" Since the answer tends to be different for each story, I did an entry for each one I wrote. Then life interfered, and I pretty much stopped writing this blog. I'm picking it up again with my most recently published story, "A Trip of Goats," which was published December 6, 2016 in Misty Lackey's Valdemar anthology, Tempest.

The story starts with two Novices from the temple of Thenoth, Lord of the Beasts, out walking the goats. Goat walking is something I actually have some experience with, as I am an Associate of the Community of St. Mary, which raises award-winning cashmere goats (see their Facebook page: St. Mary's on-the-Hill Cashmere). At I write this, Sister Mary Elizabeth's Instagram video of what happens when you throw a Christmas tree into the goats' pen is still visible on the page. So I started writing knowing that you could walk a trip of goats and that goats love evergreens, and went on from there.

Misty wants me to do peacocks for next year, so I am starting work on my next Valdemar story, "An Ostentation of Peacocks."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures I have been looking forward to this film since I saw the first preview. It focuses on three black women working for NASA during the beginning of the Mercury program, and especially on John Glenn's first trip to space. It's ironic that the movie was released the same month John Glenn died. I just saw it, and I loved it. I highly recommend it. I'm also definitely adding the book to my To Read list.

Katherine Johnson, the woman who calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard and rechecked the calculations made by the new electronic computers before John Glenn's flight, at his request, is still alive. In November 2015, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award--one year ahead of two other prominent female mathematicians: Margaret H. Hamilton, who led the team that created the on-board flight software for NASA's Apollo command modules and lunar modules; and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, who received the medal posthumously.

It reminds me of a t-shirt one of my teachers had: "Women in Technology / Get Used To It."

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

It's Publication Day!

MENDING FATE is now out in:
paperbackKindleKobo, and Nook formats.

Apparently my subconscious was really looking forward to publishing this, because I woke up at 2:48 am, at which point I grabbed my iPad from the nightstand, connected to the CreateSpace site, and told it I approved the proof (I'm not the publisher, but I am their tech department). I didn't get back to sleep until after 4 am, which always makes me feel like a zombie when I wake up.

Fortunately the only thing on my schedule today is this afternoon's Virtual Tea Party celebrating the publication of Patrice Greenwood's A Masquerade of Muertos, the fifth book in her Wisteria Tearoom Mysteries series. I really enjoyed books 1 through 4, so I got this one first thing this morning (OK, as soon as I dragged myself out of bed). It's available in mobi and ePub from Book View Cafe.