Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cold Spell

"Cold Spell" was another milestone in my career; it was the first story I sold to somebody other than MZB. Of course, I was still selling to somebody who knew me, but I considered it progress. The story was written for Andre Norton, who was editing a shared-world anthology called MAGIC IN ITHKAR. The participating authors chose trades for their characters, and I picked candle-making because it was something I could actually do. Eirthe Candlemaker appears in some of my later stories--as well as some of Marion's, because Eirthe and Lythande (one of Marion's characters) became friends and occasionally encountered each other in the course of their respective journeys.

"Cold Spell" is available for Kindle and Nook.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tell Me A Story

"Tell Me A Story" was my first published non-Darkover story. Of course, it was inspired by living with Marion, and it was written for GREYHAVEN, an anthology of stories written by members of her extended family. Marion often said that she kept a time warp on her desk for losing important papers. She didn't really need one--when I first entered her office it was impossible to see the floor--but it was a running joke. That's what gave me the idea of writing a story about a time warp capable of swallowing her things.

"Tell Me a Story" is part of my collection MAGIC IN SUBURBIA, which is available in paperback and Kindle formats.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


It was 1981, and I was still writing Darkover short stories. Actually what happened was that Marion Zimmer Bradley was editing SWORD OF CHAOS, the second Darkover anthology. Because I lived in her household and worked as her secretary, I was helping assemble the anthology. There was a story titled "Escape" that was accepted for the anthology; but the ending of it gave me nightmares, so I wrote "Rebirth" as a sequel to it--or perhaps an antidote. I was always prone to nightmares; when I was a child I couldn't even watch The Wizard of Oz on TV without getting them.

"Rebirth" is available from Kindle.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Alton Gift

This is the short story I wrote in 1978, not to be confused with the novel of the same title, which is completely different. The story was inspired by two things: a scene in one of the Darkover novels where someone using the Alton Gift actually did kill someone; and the fact that I was living in my parents' house while they prepared for my younger sister's wedding. My mother was planning the wedding reception--followed by a major party for her friends--in our back yard, and wedding planning can be very stressful for everyone in range. There was a lot of drama and fussing, and I already had a full-time job plus a full-time course load for my Master's degree.

I wrote this for a Darkover short story contest that MZB was running, and the rule was that stories had to be submitted anonymously. I was living in Connecticut, but the company I was working for had a plant in North Carolina (oddly enough, in a town named Marion). I put postage on the envelope and sent it there to be mailed from their mail room, so Marion (the person, not the town) had no clue that I'd even entered. The story took second place in the contest, and I finally told Marion I'd written it when she came for a visit. Fortunately, there was a chair behind her, because she was so surprised she fell over. It might have been better, however, if it hadn't been a rocking chair.

"The Alton Gift" is available from Kindle. It is also in the anthology THE KEEPER'S PRICE.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Keeper's Price

I started this story shortly before I met Marion Zimmer Bradley.  I had been reading THE FORBIDDEN TOWER, and there was a brief mention of Hilary Castamir, a trainee Keeper who couldn't do the work because she got so sick every month. Given the fact that I spent three days every month in bed taking painkillers with vodka (I don't recommend this, but I truly didn't care if I died), I could easily identify with Hilary. I wrote the first draft of this story, and then Marion did a rewrite to make it more in line with her vision of her world. I later discovered two things: (1) I had endometriosis; and (2) one of Marion's friends when she was living in Texas had it too, which probably explains Hilary's illness. Marion always used to say "It's all grist for the mill." It's certainly true that the oddest things turn up in one's writing.

THE KEEPER'S PRICE (the anthology, which includes the story) is available for Kindle.