Writing again

The latest in etcetera with occasional SHOUTYCAPS


A little of everything in this last go-round.


One Last Quest M. A. Ray. I bought this short on Amazon and gobbled it down that evening, but it’s also being released as a serial on so I’ve been  re-visiting it there. Because it’s that good. If you have not yet ventured to the world of Rothganar, make plans now. (I really need to get better about listing the indie ebooks I read along with the print ones. Memory like a steel sieve, that’s what I have.)

Nature’s God Matthew Stewart.  Chewed through it. Dense, immense, packed with mind-blowing historical and philosophical material.

The Royal Sentinel L Davidson. It’s the sequel to the Redwood Rebel, which I reviewed on this blog ages ago. (obligatory link here)  Royal Sentinel being released as a serial too. Follow it on the author’s blog or on Wattpad.

The latest in fluff: Lady Claire Is All That Maya Rodale, The Trouble With Dukes & The Heir Grace Burrowes

Side note: I logged a bunch  o’ books into Goodreads. (go, organization!) I’m at 60% of last year’s total already, and the year isn’t half done.  (35 books to last year’s total of 50, for the numbers people.) Kinda highlighted for me  how bad last year truly was. And how much time I was wasting on channel-surfing the internet.  I mean, I knew, but…yeah. Doing more feels better. Yay.

TV & Movies

Moana. Loved it. LOVED IT. So many quotable lines. I didn’t even mind the songs. The song Shiny is a fabulous David Bowie homage. And Maui at one point says, “If you start singing, I’m going to throw up.”

Inferno. Based on a not-so-good Dan Brown novel. (like most Dan Brown novels, the plot pivots on a premise so flawed I cannot stomach the rest of it.)  The movie? BADDER. SO BAD.

Ben-Hur: The Remake. AKA Ben-Hur the Cliff’s Notes edition with God voiceover, Ben-Hur the Pretty People version, Ben-Hur re-imagined by committee…  It was horrible. The plot is less historically accurate, less theologically accurate, AND less true to the original book than the Charlton Heston movie, a feat I didn’t think possible.

Still watching Grand Tour with Spouseman. Episode 4 is the big winner so far. Silly, silly, fun. And Jeremy Clarkson admitted that Porsches are fantastic. So there.


Spent a half-day off on a celebratory “Woo-hoo, Spouseman is done with radiation treatment” trip to the botanic garden. Results: many pretty pictures, fresh air, exercise and actual appetite, and (later)  wipeout exhaustion. Deli overload celebration meal was also a success. I took zero food pictures, and the leftovers made for delicious lunches and dinners.


Spring means I start eating pickles with everything. I don’t know why.  I crave pickles and fresh mushrooms too, actually. Luckily Makes me glad almost any veggie can be quick-pickled (except greens. I would not recommend pickled kale. Or spinach.) ANYway. Green beans, peas, corn niblets, red peppers…all of ’em go in the fridge jar.

Scones.  I have made so many different kinds of scones lately. So. Many.  Why haven’t I made chocolate chip cherry ones yet?  That will have to happen soon. <cue music>


How I celebrate that it’s almost Real Spring: I bought my summer bulbs. Dahlias and gladiolas, mostly.  I know I could dig up glads and the dahlias in the fall and overwinter them, but…I never do. I picked up a big bag of mixed Asian lilies this year too. It’s time to bump up the color variety. They come back every year, but every year more and more of them are orange. I thought I might be mis-remembering, but no. I checked old photos. Yellows and pinks and white. Last year. ORANGE EVERYWHERE. This year I am going for a bit more variety.

And that’s a wrap.

Not tired of my words yet? You could always buy something I wrote. Check out this page to judge all my books by their covers. Or head straight to Amazon, if that’s your preference.



Writing again

New month, new doings.

Books first

You Are Not So Smart David McRaney. It’s a phenomenal primer on a ton of psychological concepts and logical fallacies that trip up everyone. (I especially like the one that makes people immediately think, “well, not everyone–I bet I’m immune,” when reading the previous sentence.)

It was a tough read, not because it was technical — far from it. It’s adapted from a blog, so the tone is easygoing, congenial, and friendly. No, it was tough because it is written in second person present. You do this. You think that.

Gawdingus, I LOATHE second person present unless it’s a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Exception, that. Otherwise, it’s a total pain to slog through.  <shudder> If it hadn’t been so damned interesting and if I wasn’t such a stubborn cuss, I would have dropped it like a hot rock after five grating chapters out of forty-eight.

I finished it, and I’m glad. The brain programming tripwires are easier to avoid after getting reminders of their existence. I would recommend it to everyone struggling with family members and friends who insist on unbelievable things.

It won’t make dealing with them any easier, but it will make their positions less bewildering. (and it does suggest coping strategies. Strategy is good.)

Craving: Why We Can’t Seem To Get Enough Omar Manejwala. I hoped this would make a good partner book to You Are Not So Smart, but alas, no. It failed to live up to my hopes in all possible ways.

This is probably an excellent book–the author is clearly knowledgeable, the topic is complex, and every chapter is packed with points worth deep examination (among them the blurry zone between desire and addiction and  which coping mechanisms work)  but it was too busy being dignified to ever be enjoyable.

Worse, like YANSS it was written in 2nd person present, and its tone flirted with condescension when it wasn’t aloof and snotty.  <flops and twitches>  Only sheer annoyance and talking back to the pages got me through it. And I didn’t come away with a single epiphany or even a gee-whiz moment. So disappoint.

Archangel’s Heart Nalini Singh. Fiction recovery book! Latest in a growing series in a contemporary alternate-reality. Angels are real, and archangels, and vampires, and they’ve all co-existed together throughout history. It’s (occasionally steamy) romance, although this one is less explicit than most others. I love the world, the characters and the unfolding history are lovely.

Yeah, that’s it on books. I was busy with other Other Things.


NCIS marathon continues. The rest of the television lineup: Victoria, Madame Secretary, Expanse (woo, it’s BACK!) Gotham, Supergirl, Supernatural, and current NCIS, which I probably won’t keep past the ed of this season unless there are big writing changes.  And Spouseman & I will be giving Riverdale a try as a together-watch as soon as we finish working through Mozart In The Jungle.

Otter Things

Coloring!  Spouseman got me The Sweary Coloring Book for Christmas, my friend Deb donated colored pencils to the cause, and I finally tackled it this weekend. I colored the cover first, and completed two interior pages. The drawings are pretty simple, so it isn’t a technically challenging exercise. It is soothing, though, and it keeps me off Facebook.

I would have colored more, but I learned the cramp way my hand muscles are out-of-shape.  WAY out of shape. Given practice I should be able to work my way up to a page per sitting.

Concert! (Do you like the exclamation points? I’m feeling emphatic for some reason.)  Instead of seeing Resident Evil The Final Chapter or whatever it’s being called–as was tentatively planned — Spouseman & I  went to watch Northwest Symphony  Orchestra play Tchaikovsky, Borodin, and Strauss. It’s our local music organization, and we started picking up season tickets a few years ago when they moved into our area.

Live classical music got much more fun once I stopped stressing about dressing for concerts and made my peace with the reality that I will nod off. It’s a problem with large shifts in psychological arousal. Make me sit still in a darkened room, and I will have to “sleep.”  Fighting the drowsiness until I lose consciousness is uncomfortable and stressful, plus when I lose (and I will lose)  I will drop into true sleep. But if I let myself just drowse off, I will come back alert and energized in less than five minutes.

Stealth snoozing. It worked. Spouseman and I had a wonderful time.

That’s all the all there is until next time.



Writing again

Some new doings.

Mostly I’m writing, but I squeezed in a bit of this and a little of that.

Da bookses

Illusion Point Jayne Castle. Reliable brain-free romance of the SF variety. I would call it paranormal since the main elements are psychic powers, but it’s a clever setting in an alternate dimension settled by near-future humanity and then marooned there. So basically it’s contemporary romance with a tidy spin on ESP and lots of fun props like mag-rez guns.

Fall of Light & Spirits That Walk In Shadow  by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Aaaaahhhhhh. Hearts and flowers. I  LOVE this woman’s writing. I’m hunting down all the books I missed over the years because she does not have huge commercial appeal, just delicious prose and quiet, emotionally rich stories that play at the margins of magical realism.

Da viewage

NCIS mini-marathon. I have done one around this time of year every year since I first discovered NCIS. (2011, maybe?) It will go on for a while. Twelve seasons takes even me a long time to go through, and I don’t binge so much as gorge .

Mozart in the Jungle Season 1. A series centered on the unique sub-culture of elite classical music? Sweet. Sign me up!  Bonus: the writers/producers are even attempting to portray the trappings of classical music performance accurately? Astonishing!

Here’s a silly thing.  I was told this show was a lot like Slings & Arrows, but I must confess that description left me with the (utterly mistaken) impression that it was about the struggles of a community orchestra somewhere in the boonies with a jungle. Nope. Couldn’t have been more wrong if I’d tried. I like Lucky for me being wrong does not detract from my enjoyment of things. I love this–even if it is about NYC (yuck face) — and I’m looking forward to working through all the seasons a little at a time.

Da other stuff

In the continuing household medical adventures category: Spouseman starts “kill every last little gleam of possible cancer cells with fire from above” radiation therapy in a couple of weeks. Once he’s doing that, they want him on a low fiber, low FODMAP (look it up) diet. Something to do with being very precise about the targeting and not wanting the innards moving around a lot. He has little tattoos now too.

Practical upshot 1: he gets to be guilt-free “nuttin but meat n taters” guy for about 10 weeks. (I exaggerate slightly. He can have oatmeal too. And applesauce, green beans and suchlike.) and 2: before it all starts we’re having fun cooking all kinds of things he won’t be able to enjoy while it’s happening. Chili. Stews. Chowders. Salads galore. Lots of garlicky, spicy  things. Plenty of savory goodness.

And I’m scheduling. Shocker. It feels unnatural, but I want to do at least 3 cons as a selling author this year. DragonCon is set. I’m going to try to hit Indiana Comicon this spring. (Last minute. Just the way I like to stress myself…) What else? We’ll see.

Writing again

Letter to a Dead Friend

We all cope with grief in our own ways. Writing letters to a dead man is one of mine.

Until the end of 2016 I spent hours on the telephone each week chatting with Dan Berli Brown about books, movies, television, games, tropes, philosophy, life the universe, and fuck knows what else. We both adored overthinking the deeper truths stories reveal about ourselves and our society. And we both loved to talk. Past tense, him being dead and all.

I miss him fiercely every single damned time I think “I need to remember to tell Dan’l about that,” and that’s too many times a day to count. So this  Other Things media post went all epistolary on me, and the next few probably will as well.


It’s been entirely too fucking long since you last called and said, “Hey, what’s up?” because you’re bored, can’t sleep or are waiting for the coffee to brew. So here’s the rundown on what I’ve been doing — because if I don’t tell you, you’ll get all pissy when you find out about it later and I say, “Oh, yeah, I knew about that.”


You’ll hate my latest movie marathon. I did all the Harry Potter movies. In order, binge-style. I watched the last one twice. I dunno. I felt like wallowing in heroism, sacrifice, and happy endings for some reason.  And then I watched the Adventures of Baron von Munchausen. Terry Gilliam. Because nothing says life like a big dose of absurdity.

I also went to the theater for the first time in forever! With friends! We did the brunch & big screen bad movie thing, and it was stupendous fun. Underworld: Blood Wars. How bad was it? It started with a longer monologue than Highlander 2. Yeah. Highlights (if I can call them that) lots of the Discount Lesser Hemsworth (Theo Gates) flexing in fight scenes and Kate Beckinsale in black latex. Lots of ridiculous action and plot holes big enough to drive planets through. It’s setting the 2017 movie quality bar very low.

What else have I been doing…watching TV of course.

Black Mirror, man. Wow. Did you tell me I should watch this? I should’ve seen it YEARS ago. Like the Twilight Zone stretched into hour-long episodes. Writing, acting, production all top notch. Brain-twisting, heart-wrenching, gut-turning. Bleak and all-too-believable.

The OA.  The soundtrack is first-class, the direction & cinematography are beautiful, and it touches on some intriguing concepts: life after death, dimensional travel, healing after trauma. Alas, it suffers from a severe case of 21st century sllllooooooows. (slower than Battlestar Galactica: Pocket Knife, I kid you not.) Plus the reveals are a mixture of hokey and “Are you fucking kidding me?”   It’s reaching for a “mystery wrapped in an enigma” feel, but the long, lingering redundant reaction shots suck the life out of it. Skip this and re-watch Stranger Things again instead.

Sherlock. Season 3. You totally missed out on this one. Started dark and deadly, bounced into epic with the middle episode, and wrapped up…well. NO SPOILERS AMIRITE?  Yes, yes, you were right all along about the other Holmes sibling. Go ahead, say “I told you so.” Smartypants.

And yeah, I’ve been reading.

One of those Regency romances.  I don’t have the title because the library keeps not sending the email receipts. It was the latest Mary Balogh. Reliable and enjoyable. No facetious comments or eye rolls, or  I will counter with,  “Star Wars novels you read even when you hate the author.” We all do odd things that make us happy. Never could understand why you did that to yourself.

Burning Page.  I was telling you about the first in this series the day before you went in for your last clinic visit. You know, the one where you ended up in the ER and then the ICU? The stories just keep getting better. Dangerous fae just the way they should be, a Sherlock Holmes analogue, a multiverse of great magic/tech mixes, and a feisty Librarian with a capital L. You would eat it up like candy. Well. Not candy. Not you. Red meat, maybe. Read meat, even. There. A bad pun for your collection.

Oh, and I’m writing again. Jack Coby and Amy Goodall are getting into trouble with a big supporting cast and some unfolding domestic strife. I wish you were still around to give me the usual snarky lines for them to say.

That’s all the trouble I’ve been getting into lately. I would ask for a new batch of effusive recommendations and pithy warn-offs, but you won’t have any, so I’ll have to muddle along.

Anyway. I’ll let you get back to whatever you were doing. Talkatchalater.