Coming Soon!

Jiang Li, Warrior Woman of Yueh is the companion novella to My Adventures As Brother Rat. Jiang Li is now available; for a signed copy, please contact me via my website Contact Me button. Price is $7.00 plus s/h of $2.20 for envelope and postage, or $4.90 for Priority Mail (6 copies will fit in a Priority Mail envelope).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Photo Essay--Not

I thought I’d try my hand at a photo essay, and what better models could I find but the cats who live in this house? So I started watching for them, trying to find them in a cute pose. I spent all day shooting the cats – she spent all day on her bed, and he spent all day in his chair. It was raining, so I didn’t feel like going out to shoot raindrops.

So, please meet Tashiko Akuma Pestini—she is the traveling cat, having moved from Oregon to Florida to Washington, and she says that’s enough. She has no desire to go on the long road trip with Kay and I next month. Enough, she says, is enough.
Tashi being terminally cute, and not about to move

And this is Julian. He, too, has made a bit of travel in his lifetime—all the way from Santa Monica to Kennewick. His ideas align with Tashiko’s, so the two of them will stay home while I’m gone to guard the house, the yard, and Aaron.
Julian being terminally cute, and equally not about to move

I tried to get a photo of Aaron, but he declined. Said I could take his picture later, but not right then. Aaron spends all day sitting at his computer, much as I do, only he watches movies and blogs. I write stories and emails. But this is his chair, as seen by me as I enter our office. He has my old computer torn apart and jerry rigged to work. Unfortunately, he moved my old monitor, to which I have taped a short article to remind me that, at least the writer in the interview, started out with about 40 rejections to every one that was accepted. It helps keep my perspective in place when I send a story out, and it comes back with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ attached.
Aaron being, well, not here at the moment.

Speaking of stories, which of course leads to writing, and reading.... I have just finished reading ANNALS OF THE FORMER WORLD by John McPhee. For those of you who aren’t familiar with McPhee, he is an essayist who writes some of the best books I’ve ever read. Annals of the Former World is a collection of 5 essays on the geologic history of the US, and parts of the rest of the world. It took him 20 years to research and write the essays. Two of my good friends who are geologists by training say that through his research, McPhee became a better geologist than a couple he names in the book—but they wouldn’t tell me those names. It is a history of our country like none I’ve ever read. One of the destinations on our ‘Grand Tour’ is Princeton to visit another friend named Kay, and to photograph McPhee’s house. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get him in the window... Of course, I’d never know it was McPhee, but....

Since I have transitioned to ‘vacation mode’ and no longer writing fiction, I can now read a bit of fiction. I picked up two Willa Cather books to take with me on the trip, and on the strong recommendation of a new friend, Art, who along with his friend, Vina, have coffee most every Thursday when I meet my lady friends for same, I am also taking WHAT HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND ABOUT? TODAY’S LEADING MINDS RETHINK EVERYTHING—edited by John Brockman. These are a series of short essays (1-3 pages) by some of today’s leading scientists that Art thought would be fun for the passenger to read aloud when we hit those areas barren of scenery. I am finding it most difficult to leave in the bag for the trip, and not start reading it now.

Currently I am reading THE WISE HEART, A GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSAL TEACHINGS OF BUDDHIST PSYCHOLOGY—by Jack Kornfield. It is typical of Kornfield’s work—well thought out, easily read, and chock full of goodness. Two books of poetry I’m reading are MARS BEING RED –by Marvin Bell and THE BUTTERFLY’S BURDEN by Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Fady Joudah. I had the honor of taking a workshop with Marvin Bell some years back. He gave me some of the best advice about writing I’ve ever received: “Give yourself permission to write a bad poem!” I am not overly familiar with Mahmoud Darwish’s work, but the book seemed to leap into my hands at the book store, so it came home with me. On the left page is the Arabic, on the right, the English translation. So far, I am enjoying the poetry very much. And for fun, I am reading TENNESSEE WILLIAMS/COLLECTED STORIES. I have read most, if not all, of his plays, but never his short stories. Used book stores and garage sales can be a treasure trove of fascinating books!

And, don’t forget, MY ADVENTURES AS BROTHER RAT will be available 1 July 2009 from . As if I’d let you forget! In the meantime, an excerpt is available from the current issue of Beyond Centauri, a print magazine available from the same URL.

Quote for the week:

“Nothing limits intelligence more than ignorance; nothing fosters ignorance more than one’s own opinions; nothing strengthens opinions more than refusing to look at reality.”
-- Sheri S. Tepper, from The Visitor

Monday, February 16, 2009



All photos on this blog page are by: Aaron M. Smith

Today is Monday, 16 February 2009 and my son, Aaron Smith, and I are catching up on much needed sleep and rest after a weekend of fun and madness. RadCon is our local Science Fiction & Fantasy convention, held every year on the third weekend of February At the Red Lion in Pasco WA. Aaron and I did our part to make it a success – along with several other folks. I’m not sure what all he did, but I stayed mostly in the Green Room, where the Professional Guests come to escape the madding crowds. If you’ve never been to a SciFi/Fantasy Convention, and there is one near you, and if you really enjoy people watching, get thee hence.

Most Cons, as they are called, have Tracks—Gaming for the gamers, Costuming for those who enjoy making and wearing costumes, Writing for those who enjoy writing and or reading. I’m usually involved in the Writing Track, and as a Pro (invited Guest) I pay my way by being on various panels that have to do with writing. This year I was both Pro and Staff. We also had combat demonstrations, using bamboo sticks, and what little bit I saw, appeared to be based on the Asian rather than European style of fighting. There were several Anime and Fan Films shown and discussed. If there is anything of interest to anyone who enjoys Science Fiction and or Fantasy, it can usually be found at a Con.

I’m not sure what all Aaron did, but I know he kept busy helping out. Fortunately he managed to find time to wander a wee bit and gather a few photos, which you see on this page. I haven't a clue who all these people are – but I do know at least one is a teacher. The biker dude collects and restores old Harley’s, if I’m recalling our conversation correctly. The cat he carries is a most life-like hand puppet he carries around, and makes do the most cat like things.

As you can tell from Aaron’s photos, we get folks from all age brackets. There are even children who attend the Con (with parents) and have their own games and projects. Alas, Aaron didn’t get any shots of them.

It was great fun meeting up with old friends, especially John Dalmas. I have his permission to link to his page, John is one of our Elder Statesmen of the Science Fiction genre, he’s 82 years old, still travels to the Cons, still writes mighty fine novels, and doesn’t understand the bit about aging gracefully – he’s having way too much fun to be all that graceful :). Check out his page, read his opinions on a variety of subjects. Better yet, go buy his books!

One of the biggest ‘hits’ in the Green Room was the Arctic Chili I made and shared. Everyone loved it—especially the Biker Dude. Several years ago, when I worked at The Boeing Company, one of my co-workers, Michael O’Mara brought it to one of our (in)famous pot lucks. He graciously shared the recipe with me, and I now share it with you. You have my permission to follow directions, or make it in a crock pot, as I did; however, if you use the crock pot, cut the liquid way down, as there is no evaporation.

Mama O’Mara’s Arctic Chili

1 Tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound chicken or turkey breast, cooked and cubed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 can white kidney beans, drained
1 can white corn, drained
12 oz. can chopped green chilies, drained
2 chicken flavored bouillon cubes OR low fat/sodium chicken broth
1.5 cups water
shredded Monterey Jack cheese (with or without jalapenos)

sauté onion, garlic and cumin in oil until onions are tender. In a 2.5 quart oven-proof dish combine all ingredients except cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, top with cheese.


And remember, MY ADVENTURES AS BROTHER RAT will be available 1 July 2009 from

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Wet Toe

As many of you know, my friend, Kay, and I like to travel, and we are getting ready for the Mother of All Road trips next month. In light of this trip, I thought I should see how gracefully I can dip the big toe of my right foot into the waters of Blogging. If this works, it will be a way for you to follow our trip as we circumnavigate the US, with trips into Canada.

Since the title of today's entry is Wet Toe, I thought it only fitting to share some photos of our last road trip, just last month, down to the Oregon Coast, where, indeed, I did get not only a wet toe, but several wet toes.

So, this is my inital foray into the blogosphere, enjoy.... Because I'm still feeling my way around
and trying to figure out how to do things, the picture of the antelope, above (I hope) was taken
on my way home, on the way to Mt. Vernon, Oregon.

The pictures below, were taken on the Oregon Coast. We stayed at The Windermere, in Bandon, OR - an old motel with upgrades, and easy access to-from the beach. If I can figure out how to get the type next to, instead of above the photos.....

The photo to the far right is, obviously, sunset, with a fishing trawler headed into view. I have NO idea how I got the squared off sun, unless it had something to do with the moisture in the air? The photo below is dawn over the Pacific, with the moon still showing.
We were at the beach in January, for 5 days and 4 nights, and could not have received better weather had we asked for it. The days were in the 60s, the ocean was so calm it appeared made of glass. Except for the few places we visited with rocky shores, the breakers crashing onto the beach seemed almost apologetic for disturbing the quiet. What fog we saw stayed way out on the horizon, and every night we were regaled with spectacular sunsets.
We went to visit our friend, Bud, at The Healing Labyrinth. As we pulled into his driveway, we noticed this little guy reading, and obeying, the Stop sign. Needless to say, we, too, stopped, and took several pictures. There were three little guys that stood around and posed for us for quite a while, not at all shy. Which is too bad, because they aren't overly bright animals, and don't realize cars are bigger than they are!

The little guy to the right is a napping String Theory, or, if you prefer, a napping Sea Dragon.

We walked the beaches every day, and each time found new 'treasures'. I found a whole sand dollar, and when I turned it over, discovered it was still alive, so took it out and placed it in the water (that's when my toes got wet) in the hopes a gull wouldn't find him first.

So, this ends my first attempt at blogging. I hope you found it of interest, and not too confusing. At least not as confusing as I did in trying to create it. The directions are actually fairly simple - I'm just more so. Simple, that is.

Stay tuned for updates on our trip, the publishing of my novel, and whatever tidbits I dredge up and think I oughta share.