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).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ubiquitious Winter Letter

Kennewick WA 99337

21 December 2009

Ubiquitous Winter Letter, 2009

Yikes! This is the last year in the first decade in the new millennium – where has time gone? For starters, in this house at least, it has gone into writing and quilting and traveling, and some photography.

I sold my first novel, My Adventures as Brother Rat, to Sam’s Dot Publishing. I’ve also sold some short stories and a couple of poems. I’ve finished two novella’s, which are at Sam’s Dot for consideration, and two novels, which are in the fine-grit polishing stage and for which I hope to find an agent. (Warning! Blatant Commercial follows: For a signed copy of Brother Rat, contact me at If you don’t care if it’s signed, order from $10.00 for the book, $4.00 s/h)

In February I bought a Subaru Forester and named her Suvie Star Car. In honor of the occasion, my friend Kay, and I realized a long held dream and did a “Drive About” of the country. Three months and 11,500 miles later we got home. The truly amazing thing is we were laughing when we left, and laughing when we got home!

To read about our adventures, and see some of the photos, please go to my blog (archives) at: Start with March. (You can read February if you want;-) Feel free to drop by the blog any time to get an idea of what’s going on in this house.

Took time out in Nov for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and started another novel, valiantly fought (and won!) a mild case of the flu, and attended Orycon, the Oregon Science Fiction Convention, where I sat on a few panels and schlepped Brother Rat. The highlight of the Con was meeting up with old friends – both writers and Scotty, a guy I used to work with at The Boeing Company in a galaxy and time far, far away from the here and now.

While in Portland I spent a few days with an old and dear friend, Martha, her son Mark, and his son, Eric. In 1960 when I babysat her kids, I taught her baby boy, Mark, how to swim. I’m happy to say, he’s all grown up now, and so is his son. (No matter how I phrase it, it comes out sounding like Martha is OLD, she isn’t. By the calendar, she’s got a few years on me, but I’ve met very few folks as young as she is! It’s just that we’ve been friends for 50 years!)

In the meantime, I’ve decided I’d rather spend a few weeks quilting than writing. This gives me a chance to catch up on some reading of fiction. Two fiction books I highly recommend: Space Magic by David D. Levine and Filter House by Nisi Shawl. Both books are collections of short stories. For memoir and humor, I don’t think you could find more entertaining stories than those found in Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs and Revenge of the Paste Eaters, both by Cheryl Peck.

All in this house are good and hope this letter finds you and yours likewise!

Hoar frost in winter

Flowers in summer

Love all year round

Happiest of Holidays and Bestest of New Years!



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Book Status:
  • No Change

Currently Reading:
  • Journal of a Trapper by Osborne Russell, Edited by Aubrey L. Haines, published by University of Nebraska Press

Truly, this is a bit of a slog. Russell was a Trapper back in the days when Joe Meek, Jim Bridger, Hugh Glass were Trappers. Unlike many of the Mountain Men he was not only literate, he kept a journal, which for the most part is interesting. However, when Haines got his editor's pen on the original manuscript, I wish he'd done just a wee bit more editing. I am currently in the middle of a 14-page long paragraph!

Haines could easily have added a bit of punctuation - at least end of sentence periods - as well as broken it into more manageable and readable paragraphs. What he did was add end notes. Gobs of end notes. Had he made them foot notes they would have become 40 times more interesting because then I could merely glance at the bottom of the page, scanned/read the footnote, and gone right back to the text. Now I have to go into the flipping and flapping of pages, as well as my rant about end notes and how I hope the idiots who invented them spend eternity having to find them!

This is a quote from the middle of the (so far) longest paragraph (14 pages) I've come across, "...We travelled over ground similar to that of the day before shaping our course more Easterly until night Novr. 1st. After travelling about 10 Mls we reached Bighorn river and stopped and commenced setting traps. The river at this place is bordereed with heavy Cottonwood timber with little or no under brush beneath. Towards night a party of Crow Indians came to us on foot armed as if going to war after smoking and eating they told us they were on their way to the Snaks to Steal horses and intended to stay all night with us and leave the next morning. They told us the village to which they belonged was nearly a days travel below on the river and that "Long hair's" village was on Wind river above the mountain but could give us no information of Mr. Fontanell or his party They were very insolent and saucy saying that we had no right in their country and intimated they could take everything from us if they wished. The next morning after eating breakfast they said if we would give them some tobacco and ammunition they would leave us so we divided our little stock with them They then persisited in having all and when we refused telling them we could not spare it one of them seized the sack which contained it while another grasped the Englishmans rifle we immediately wrenched them out of their hands and told them if they got more they should fight for it...." I have copied this directly, leaving in all the punctuation, or lack thereof, and the spellings, etc.

If you like history, and like the history of the Mountain Men, it is a wonderful book, though a bit of a struggle at times.

Projects on which I am currently working:
  • Reading the above.
  • Getting my winter cards made. I have made them for years - taking the photo, getting them printed, taping them to a card, writing a little poem/sentiment in the card, etc. This year, I'm letting Costco do it. I sent the photo, wrote the poem, and will pick up the cards tomorrow!
  • Quilting - I'm almost finished with one more quilt top, have two more tops to finish

From the Mouths of Babes:

I was outside talking to a friend, and his friend's little boy was in the back of their pick up. The boy wanted down, and Dad was busy, so I lifted him down. He's probably three? Anyhow he looked at me very seriously and said, "You look old!" I laughed and told him, "I am old!" Ah, from the mouths of babes;-)

Your old blogger:

Me, reading a short story at a function in October 2009. The plaid shawl is my family tartan, the McBrayer Tartan.

Weather outside:
Cold (42 degrees), cloudy, humid. Bone chilling cold becauses of the humidity. If it was dry, it would be perfect!

Weather inside:
Warm (72 degrees)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas is Coming -- and I'm not ready!

Book Status:
  • No change. Haven’t finished any this week, haven’t started in new ones.

What’s going on in my life:

Jackie and Aaron got the tree up and decorated, Aaron put the three lighted reindeer up in the front yard, and I got ALL of my projects finished AND mailed!

Well, almost all of them finished. Until the other day I had NO idea what photo to use for my Winter Cards, but now that I know, I’ll get them printed up and get my cards written and mailed.

Have decided to take a hiatus from writing for a few weeks and stretch a different creative muscle or two.

Projects on which I’m currently working:

  • Finishing a quilt made from a skirt my Grandfather bought me when I was a little girl. I have the middle done, now for the borders.
  • Finish the baby quilt for my girl friend who is becoming a Grandma and needs a crib quilt at her house for a small visitor.
  • Finish a Churn Dash quilt I have cut out but not sewn, in memory of my Uncle Carl
  • Start a quilt for my bed
  • Start a table runner and if I like it maybe make a bed quilt using the same pattern
  • Learn to use my new dSLR camera (see below)

The Weather Outside:

Cold (24 degrees) and snowing. Snow is predicted on and off until Tuesday, with a possible accumulation of 1 – 3 inches. On Tuesday it will warm up to 34 and rain. And then, of course, freeze.

Yesterday, we had hoar frost. Below are a couple of photos I took (begin Martyr Alert!) in the Zero Degree weather! I did it just for your enjoyment, too. (end Martyr Alert;-)

The Weather Inside:

Warm. Filled with laughter, the aroma of two coffee pots going, the sounds of happiness (except for a cat who has worked hard all day taking naps and now demands dinner!)

Hoar Frost on my Norwegian Pine:

Hoar Frost on a couple of Birch Cones:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December is here!

Books I’ve finished this month:

  • The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace, by Jack Kornfield
  • Space Magic, by David D. Levine
  • Filter House, by Nisi Shawl

Books I’m currently reading:

  • After the Ecstasy the Laundry, by Jack Kornfield
  • Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West, by Dale L. Morgan
  • Practical Taoism, Translated by Thomas Cleary
  • Journal of a Trapper, by Osborne Russell, Edited by Aubrey L. Haines
  • Fat Girls in Lawn Chairs, by Cheryl Peck

What’s going on in my life:

Orycon was great! I managed to meet up with several folks I haven’t seen in years, we just didn’t have enough time to sit and get caught up on all that’s happened in our respective lives, but we did have time to talk a bit.

Met new folks I look forward to meeting again, especially Nisi Shawl and David Levine. I bought, read, and thoroughly enjoyed two of their books. Both Filter House and Space Magic are collections of short stories, all different, all well crafted, all great reads! Buy those books, read those books--you will want to reread them several times over! Honest. Trust me.

After Orycon, I spent a few days visiting my friend, Martha. I first met Martha back in 1960, allegedly to spend the summer babysitting her three kids, Bob, Lorraine, and Mark. Bob was 4 years younger, Lorraine 6 years younger, and Mark 8 years younger than I was. I hereby admit I did very little babysitting, and not too much referring. During that first summer of our meeting, I taught Mark to swim, and we all became good friends. Hmmm, now that I think about it, Bob is still 4 years younger, Mark is still 8 years younger than I am. Unfortunately, we lost Lorraine a few years ago due to cancer. It was delightful to get to visit with Martha, Bob and his wife Shaun, and Mark and his son Eric.

I have now known Martha longer than I knew my mother! Good friends are worth their weight in stardust!

Oh, and though the Grinch lives here, I admit that, for Jackie (Aaron’s girl friend) I succumbed and bought a Christmas tree yesterday-silver with white lights. I also bought 3 reindeer for the yard that light up; one, the female (she has horns) turns her head. I told Aaron the decorating of the tree is up to them. I took care of the other decorations throughout the house. Bah! Humbug!!

Projects I’m currently working on:

  • Winter Gifts (sewing) — I have all but one finished.
  • Packaged Winter Gifts — Before I can mail them, I need to fill the empty spaces with popcorn; before I can make the popcorn I need a new hot air popper and a couple of bags of popcorn. It takes a bit longer than using the Styrofoam popcorns, but the real stuff is much more eco friendly – and the birds at the receiving end will enjoy it.
  • Jiang Li and the Fall of the Jinn (working title of the novel) — haven’t done a lick of work on the novel since I’ve been back. However, tomorrow is Monday….

The Weather Outside:

Cold (32) and dark (it’s 6.20am) with more cold on the way.