Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

My dreams are full of frightening omens and I'm very nervous about my upcoming surgery.

But for today and tomorrow, I don't have to worry yet. Tonight I'm going back to the church I left months ago for a midnight mass, then tomorrow I'll be cooking my usual Christmas feast to share with my husband Kobi and a new friend we've made in the trials of this year.

Be joyful. Life is short and we seldom live it fully. Merry Christmas.

The Linen Butterfly- PREVIEW!

The bad news is, DAW didn't want my work.
The good news is, because my usual publisher is much more accommodating, I can share this with you!

Here is my Christmas gift to everyone who has put up with my nonsense over the last year!

This preview contains the first three chapters of the novel, which should give you some idea of what to expect without spoiling anything.

I have yet to nail down a release date for this book and the final draft may differ *somewhat* from the text presented here, but this is about as revised and refined as I could get it on my own.

From the cover copy:

Meet Arthur Carrick, Duke of Upcaster. He and his retainer, Sir Balthasar, are fighting to save his dukedom from a scheming courtier, except...

...they're not. The real Arthur and Balthasar are in suspended animation in a cutting-edge immersive virtual reality lab in Seattle, Washington in the year 2036. 

Now it's sink or swim as they navigate the treacherous waters of courtly intrigue amid traitors, schemers, and the Beziards, a heretical sect winning converts among the nobility. They believe their world was created by an evil or insane god. 

One thing's for sure: The lab's owner, Ted Ducasse, is no saint. He's created a World War I simulator that has bled into the other sims. Now the lab's lead tech, Isa Chetal, fights to keep control of the project she started before someone gets killed for real. 

It's happened before.

Lies, greed, quantum computing, and medieval heresy collide under the ominous shadow of World War One in The Linen Butterfly.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Time To Make My Move

The stamps I ordered for my submission packet arrived, so it's time to get my packet ready. Work on The Linen Butterfly has officially ceased until and unless an editor tells me I need to fix something.

Brushed off my cursive for my SASE. Its been a while. Cursive is fast becoming a dead art. My cursive hand doesn't fit any one style, sort of a leaner, cleaner Spencerian script with elements of D'Nealian.

I'm going to give my cover letter one last pass, then I have to print everything and mail it the first chance I get. My baby's going off to New York!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Finishing Up

I honestly don't feel like I can possibly do much more with "The Linen Butterfly." I've refined it to the point where I'm fatiguing myself trying to find things wrong with it. But there are things I can still fix, and if I let myself I could keep fixing them indefinitely. It's time to put the project to bed and trust in my skill.
I was just thinking tonight how my goals have changed. With "Vimana" I was hoping for a big success from a small publisher. I didn't go huge but there are signs that people definitely noticed me. With "Butterfly" I'm hoping for a small success from a big publisher.
What can I expect? With "Vimana" I set out to write something on the level of what was cutting edge in the late 60s and ended up with something slightly more polished, which is good. But the bar is set much higher nowadays than it was when Dick, Disch, and Lem were ramping things up. SF is much more fiercely competitive.
I've tried to get my ideas, my prose, and my characters all in top form. I've rewritten the story so many times it bears little resemblance to the story it derived from, because I wanted a strong narrative. I worried obsessively about pacing. I went through the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb multiple times even when it was "done" and I'm only walking away from editing now because it's far better than anything I've done to date.
I think my perspective on what I can expect as a writer has changed. A small success with a big publisher suddenly seems plausible when I consider that "Vimana" did pretty well for niche fiction from an indie publisher. It's doable. But I'm intimidated beyond words.
My I Ching readings have predicted a rough ride with a lot of biting my way through, tricky situations, powerful allies whose power is a double-edged sword, and situations where my goals may be temporarily waylaid by miscommunications. One thing they didn't predict was utter failure.
I get the distinct impression that I'm about to unlock a new level, and it's going to be much harder. Great rewards bring great risks. Powerful allies can become powerful enemies. I won't fool myself; if my writing career hits critical mass here and now, this will not be easy.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

"Arcana" Anthology Now On Sale!

Check out my story "St. John's Bridge," available now in the short story anthology, "Arcana!"

Friday, October 13, 2017

Car Stories: More To Come!

To make my endless begging less annoying, I'm going to keep telling stories about cars I've had (or my family has had) throughout my life.

I'll post them every few days to keep things interesting!  Here are some stories I'll be telling:

The Chevy of Infinite Mystery (1995 Chevrolet Corsica)

The Bug-Gatti (Type 35 Bugatti replica on a '66 VW chassis)

The Buzzy Besom (2008 Longbo LB-50 Scooter)

The Titanic of the Ozarks (1977 Dodge M886 army ambulance)

Le Diamant Brut (1956 Citroen 2CV)

Dotty (1982 Datsun 210 Wagon)

The Car I Learned To Drive In (1992 Geo Metro)

Be sure to help me keep my current car on the road!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Car Stories- The Kerouac Cadillac

Since I need money to fix my car, why don't I tell you all a story about one of my favorite cars? If you like this story, please consider leaving a tip at and keep watching this space, because I've got more car stories to keep you entertained.

I think, of all the cars I've owned, the one I miss the most is a 1992 Cadillac Deville I bought on its last legs. It was white on white, and would have been a gorgeous car if not for years of neglect that left the paint peeling off in foot-wide sheets as I drove down I-40 across the Southwest. The radio never did work properly; I always kept a boombox in the passenger seat and a generous selection of home-burned CDs instead.

The car was a junkyard rescue and still had its junkyard lot number on it- a death sentence in greasepaint. Instead of going gently into that good night, she broke loose and went on a 3000 mile road trip with me.

Admittedly I thought the trip was a suicide mission. I was so desperate to get out of Little Rock I didn't care. After paying my bills downtown, I set off down I-40, playing an old 16th Century French corsair's song on my boombox:

Sont des hommes de grand courage,
Ceux qui partiront avec nous
Ils ne craindront point les coups,
Ni les naufrages,
Ni l'abordage,
Du péril seront jaloux
Tout ceux qui partiront avec nous.

The first stop was Amarillo, staying in a house overrun with cockroaches. Luckily my host for the night offered me something real nice to smoke because I couldn't have slept with those little claws tapdancing on me all night afterward.

The transmission started giving me trouble around Amarillo, but got me as far as a little Mom and Pop garage along Route 66 in Gallup before I had to stop for repairs. I stayed in a motel next door, a little one-star roach castle called the Roadrunner that hadn't been redecorated since the Eisenhower Administration.

Four days and $200 later, I was back on the road. My next stop was supposed to be Flagstaff, but my friend there warned me that if I stayed with him, I wouldn't be able to dig the car out the next morning, so I braved an Arizona blizzard with bald tires and bad brakes all the way to my mother's place in Las Vegas.

At Cajon Pass, I got stopped for doing 89 in a 70 zone (I didn't want to liquidate my brakes by riding them). The CHP officer took one look at the car and said "You drove all the way from Arkansas in that?" When I explained I was on my way to Oregon for a better life, he wished me good luck and sent me on my way with a warning. I've been told that CHP almost never lets anyone off with a warning but the look of that car and my natural earnestness was an easy way out of a speeding ticket.

From Mom's place my next stop was Fullerton, CA, staying with a now-former friend who hated Koreans and loved old Russian cartoons. He had a spotless early 70s Mercedes W116 (I think it was the 450 SEL model), an original Blue Plate car that had spent its whole life cooped up in his garage and barely had 6000 miles on it. I nearly cried when I saw it. This man's apartment was a dragon's hoard of obscure pop culture treasures that he piled up even as he discarded friends for the slightest transgression. Eventually, our friendship broke when I got tired of walking on eggshells around him. But for the duration of this trip, at least, I had a sunny place to stay between long stretches of winter driving.

I spent New Year's in Sacramento, eating In-N-Out and drinking 40-year-old whisky with a friend of my host who, it turns out, might be a distant relative.

I-5 around Lake Shasta was terrifying. I was forced, due to the terrain, the weather, and the condition of my tires and brakes, to drive 35 until I was well into Oregon.

I spent about a week in Portland, got to know the city, then went back the way I came. Apart from topping up the transmission fluid in Fullerton and forgoing the roach-infested house for a much cleaner Motel 6 in Amarillo, I went back the way I came with no surprises.

The car died about 2 weeks later. I was driving to Kroger for cat litter and was barely able to crawl back into my parking spot at home before it would move no further (much the same way my Scion died on me today). But for 18 days in late 2010-early 2011, that car was my lifeline to a new life on the West Coast and helped me make up my mind to move to Portland.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Nearly Done!

"The Linen Butterfly" is one step from complete.

I'm going to take some time to read it aloud to my husband next. This will help me iron out any last remaining bits of awkward prose and bad pacing.

Once that's done, I'm going to make any final changes, then I'm going to submit my final draft to DAW books to see if they want it.

I'm making a bold move by submitting my work to a large publisher. I've gone through it again and again trying to make it as polished as possible.

Realistically, I don't expect this to get past the submissions editor at DAW, Peter Stampfel. He's an industry gatekeeper with finicky tastes. That being said, I've done a bit of research on what he wants and I definitely have something that will stand out as a 1 in 1000 submission. The question is, will it be the "one in a few thousand" Stampfel refers to as being worth passing on to the next tier of editors?

Realistically, I have serious doubts. But the praise and support my work has received gives me hope. I'll submit it more or less exactly as I would to my usual publisher and make my cover letter honest but not self-deprecating.

I've developed a habit as a writer of shooting for the moon. I haven't made it yet, but every time I fall short I get a little more stardust on me.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

It's Half-Time!

I reached a benchmark tonight: halfway through this final pass on "The Linen Butterfly!"

Very excited about this.  The book I had given up for dead is humming with new life.  Right now, as worried as I am about the state of things, writing seems to be one of the few outlets I have to really properly express myself, and it never ceases to amaze me what I'm capable of doing when I put my mind to it.

The next little bit should go fairly quick.  It's all very polished from here.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Linen Butterfly Update

I finished two chapters tonight.  Getting into the part of the book that's much more smoothly written so work will begin speeding up.

The parts I'm working on now are basically less than a year old because I completely rewrote this bit.  In the original "Goldenlea," Sylvia lived in a camp in the woods like a Hollywood medieval outlaw.  Now she's a titled lady who lives in a decaying manor in a rotten borough in a remote province, like a real medieval outlaw.  This, of course, changes the dynamics of the story quite a lot.

The characters and subplots that were written out completely have also changed the dynamics.  This is where the story diverges sharply from the original.  The story is more focused and delivers its punches more directly.

I really think those who liked "The Goldenlea" will appreciate what I've made of it. And those who didn't like "The Goldenlea" may still like "The Linen butterfly."  I'm very proud of how it's shaping up so far.

I hope this isn't my magnum opus though.  It'd suck to be played out so soon; I'm only just getting good.  It will be the absolute best novel I can write for now but that's a temporary thing. If I can't write better in a year, then I'm slacking.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Latest Progress on "The Linen Butterfly"

This will definitely be my last editing pass on "The Linen Butterfly" before submitting the manuscript to my publisher.

I'm proud of "The Vimana Incident," but just thumbing through my personal copy today I couldn't help but feel like my work has improved by leaps and bounds since that book hit the presses.  "The Linen Butterfly" will be far and away the longest, most polished, and most complete work I've ever written.

It's the book I wanted to write back in 2003 when I started "The Goldenlea," but couldn't at the time.  14 long years as a novelist, maxing out my skills trying to write something of professional quality, are finally paying off and I'm excited for the future now.

Since I'm not on a strict deadline for this project, I'm going to take my time.  I'm going to refine every last detail I can think of and not be the least bit lazy about anything.  I proved with "Vimana" that I could knock out a 5-star book in 9 months so now there's nothing left to prove, except that I'm capable of better still.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why Do I Deserve Your Help?

To give some idea why I think I deserve to travel to the UK to do research, consider that I'm probably the most thorough biographer of William Longsword to date.

The extant biographies of him are very short and many are out of date or contain inaccurate information. Even firsthand sources on him are incredibly scant.

 Even though he was probably equal in importance to William Marshal, nobody bothered to write a biography of him back in the Middle Ages like they did with Marshal. And yet, he's a common figure in pop culture.

During my research I discovered that he is a very popular recurring figure in historical romances, from Shakespeare's "King John" to recent historical fiction novels like Chadwick's "To Defy A King." The gap between his importance in history and culture and the amount of material about him is something I plan to remedy.

I've literally doubled the length of the Britannica article simply by gleaning disparate sources but there is still a lot I don't know. Some of the firsthand sources may exist and be cataloged, but may be in Latin. I need to photograph these and attempt to translate them with the scant Latin I know. I also need to speak to archivists and historians about what they know and where to find more leads.  I also need to get photographs of places he frequented so that I don't have to pay for stock photos, which could save me tons of money.

 More than that, though, I want to get a feel for his world. Going to the places where history happened always makes it easier to write about. You can read clues in buildings and landscapes that can shed light on historical narratives.

 I'm fast on my way to writing a masterwork of biography on a medieval figure who had a significant impact on history and popular culture. But I need help to complete my work.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Bad Things (short story)

This short story was inspired by cats' tendency to pounce at things that weren't there, and by ancient beliefs that cats are able to protect people from evil spirits.  I imagined my kitten Venus chasing demons away when she pounced at shadows, and this story was the result.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Help Me Get To The UK For Research!

I want to go to the UK to visit several sites including Hereford, Shrewsbury, Wells, Salisbury and Bath as part of a research effort for several projects.

Back in 2003-2005, I lived in the UK for a short period of time, so I also intend to catch up with a few of my friends I haven't seen in years.  But the main point of this trip is research.

I am a published writer with several books out from a small print publisher.  One of my planned projects, "Wake of the White Ship," takes place in the West Country during the 12th century anarchy.  It's a spinoff of my novel "The Vimana Incident."  Another project, a biography of William Longsword, Third Earl of Salisbury, will require visiting archives and speaking with historians.

My biographical work on William Longsword has already been featured in Encyclopedia Britannica.  I rewrote their article with a great deal more material gleaned from my research, but I feel I can gather more information still. 

I would like to spend at least 3 weeks in the UK if at all possible.  I will need some money for ground transport and lodging as well.  If possible I would like to bring my husband with me since he has never been to the UK.

My novel "The Vimana Incident" can be purchased here:

My article about William Longsword can be read here:

Donate to my GoFundMe page here:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

"The Linen Butterfly" Update

The stylistic rewrite of "The Linen Butterfly" is up to chapter 3 now. The book is now down to 114,001 words. It may end up longer or shorter depending on what I decide to do with some passages toward the end that still need extensive revisions.

After this stylistic rewrite I'm going to set it aside for a week, then read through it again and see if it needs anything.

The current editing pass is ironing out awkward prose and dialogue, and fixing some issues I identified in the continuity check. The next pass will be reading it with fresh eyes to see if I need to make some tweaks to the pacing and plot, or if I missed any mistakes.

I should have my manuscript ready to review fairly quick, actually. I'll need Beta readers soon, depending on how the next few phases of work go. I remember from my continuity check that in the passages written back in 2013, some of the prose was pretty clumsy.

Still, this manuscript is less of a sow's ear than I'd thought. I'll make something of it.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

"The Linen Butterfly"- DRAFT DONE!

I finished the draft tonight. I just couldn't keep my hands off it. Word count stands at 114k words which is within my target. However I don't know what the final word count is going to be.

The next phase will probably have to start Sunday night since that'll be the tedious part, making sure this story 14 years in the making can still be made into something presentable.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

"The Linen Butterfly" Progress!

I hit a crucial benchmark with "The Linen Butterfly" tonight. I finished the first half of the story arc- rewritten from scratch from the original "Goldenlea"- and pasted in the second half.

The second half needs to be reworked for length, style, and content and then the whole book needs a good once over, but the current word count is 126k words so my goal of 110k words is absolutely on target once all of the redundant, obsolete, and unnecessary material is removed from the second half.

This includes several passages that I copied and pasted from the second half and moved into the first half to make the story flow better. Those will be removed from the second half and new material will only be added if it makes the narrative flow better.

My goal is still to have a draft ready for proofreading in one month, and to have a draft ready to submit by the end of the summer. Knock on wood, I'll have "The Linen Butterfly" out by January.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Linen Butterfly Update!

Current goal: finish "The Linen Butterfly" by late August. Three years late from my original goal but I promise it'll be the be worth it!

I'll have the first draft done by my mid-June at this rate, and revisions will be relatively fast. The biggest operation will be merging the two halves which were written with slightly different continuities.

I expect to shed about 10-20% of the total volume of the text because there are some redundant passages and some scenes that no longer work. I'm also going to trim the ending a bit, it runs long. My total word count should still be about 110k.

It will be the longest and most involved story I've ever written in part because it takes place in two different worlds. I hope you all will enjoy a medieval swashbuckler with a hefty dose of cyberpunk!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Worldbuilding: Medieval Currencies

One of the fun things about worldbuilding is figuring out sundry things like how basic exchanges are reckoned!

I thought I had it figured out in "The Goldenlea," but I think I'm revising the old system I had in those books in favor of one that has a bit more basis in history for "The Linen butterfly."

Previously in "The Goldenlea," I had a three-tiered system of coinage.  This was based on the Anglo-French model of the Livre, Sou, and Denier, and on the thought that it was mostly the same as pre-decimal UK coinage.  But that was a mistake.  In fact the Livre (Pound) was not a standard coin in its own right until much later.

In fact the Kings of France tried to standardize a Livre coin in the 13th and 14th centuries and failed because it was over- or undervalued.  The Livre, for most of the medieval period, was a unit of account for large sums but not an actual coin of the realm.  Most transactions were rendered in silver Deniers or the gold Sou, or Solidus.

I revised my Gold Sol/Silver Luna/ Copper Terra system. Instead transactions are rendered mainly in silver Terras and Gold Sola, and an additional unit of account, called a Handweight, has been added.  Of course, larger sums can be rendered in marks for accounting purposes.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Book Has Arrived!!!

My copy of the Gesta Stephani (the deeds of King Stephen) arrived in good order today. This is a rare English translation published by Oxford Medieval Texts that I will be using to write my first straight historical fiction novel, Wake of the White Ship.

Incidentally, when reading the introductory notes on the text, it noted that it for a long time the only text scholars had access to was a 1619 printing called Historiae Normannorum Scriptores Antiqui. However:
Such being the state of affairs, Duchesne's Scriptores was the inevitable basis for this new edition, and a text made from his had already been long in type, when Providence relented, and produced a manuscript.
MS. 792 in the Municipal Library of Valenciennes, from the nearby Premonstratensian abbey of Vicoigne, a noted centre of learning and a daughter-house of St. Martin of Laon, contains a collection of works relating to English history...
 (emphasis added).

I got chills when I read that because St. Martin of Laon was the abbey I had Godric at in The Vimana Incident. If I didn't know any better, I'd say this is a sign I was meant to write Wake of the White Ship. It's not quite as dramatic as being sucked into one of my own books but it's enough of a coincidence to get my attention.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Silver linings

This has been a very difficult time for me as my 19-year-old cat is now clearly and obviously dying.  He's been terminal for some time with end-stage renal disease, but he lasted months longer than the vet had told us to expect.

But while digging for my husband's birth certificate so that he could change the name on his IDs, I've come across a set of vintage color slides from the 1950s that I bought at an antique store in Las Vegas for something like $10 or $20 in 2007.

I'd assumed that the slides had been stolen or thrown away accidentally while clearing out junk papers, since I literally hadn't seen them in about five years. It turned out they were at the bottom of a drawer of Kobi's sketches, the one place I didn't think to look.

Now that I've found them again, what I have in my possession is a treasure trove of fine vintage photos. It was actually the content of these slides that prompted me to shell out more than $5 for someone's old slides.

These slides came in pressed aluminum magazines for an old Argus projector. They were from the mid 1950s, but there was not a single black and white image among them; they were all gorgeous, rich color images. They include views of Las Vegas, circa 1956. Color views of Disneyland in the same era. A local parade somewhere in California. A number of interesting cars, including hot rods, a Thunderbird parked in front of a sign advertising Frank Sinatra, and a newish-looking '53-55 Corvette, and some vacation shots of Alaska by train.

I know that first, I have to be sure this isn't going to be a copyright issue, but I'm not sure how to do that. I would assume that someone would relinquish the rights to an image if they sold the item through an antique dealer? One of the subjects in the photos is named. He's wearing novelty glasses. Another subject, on the Teacup ride at Disneyland, is identified as “sister” (the caption, charmingly, reads “Sister got sick”). The likelihood of tracking down the owners of these images is slim to none.

If I can establish a reasonable certainty that I can legally do this, I may try to license these images, either as stock photos or possibly in an art book. I'm still trying to figure out more about how to make the most of these images (both for public enjoyment and for my miniscule investment in these slides to pay the most dividends) so if you find anything before I do or know somebody that does this sort of thing, I'd love to know!

I'm excited to finally find this item that's been missing through the very worst of my lost years. I hope it's a sign of better things to come.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Short Story- Sheriff Laredo's Bees

This story is a year and a half old and I had nearly forgotten all about it!

My original description as posted on another site:

This story was inspired by events that I fear may come to pass sooner than most people think.
Consider the following elements:

1. The threat of the extinction of the common honeybee from overuse of pesticides.
2. The droughts in California, which are forcing lawmakers to choose between water for the people and water for lucrative cash crops.
3. A general attitude that pervades the culture of the United States that poverty represents a moral failure.

I see this as a perfect storm for a new breed of slavery in which those too poor to afford the spiraling cost of food and water will be pressed into involuntary service doing jobs that had previously been done by insects.

I decline to comment on whether or not Sheriff Laredo is inspired by a real figure active in law enforcement in the US today -whose name may or may not rhyme with "Ohio"- who attracts millions of admirers with his brand of so-called justice and likes to sue people for exercising their constitutional right to criticize him, but let those who are savvy see the truth for what it is.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Big Announcement!

It's been a little while since I updated, hasn't it?

I have something I'd like to share: I am now married!

Artist, illustrator, and musician Kobi LaCroix (no relation) of Dementia Radio fame is now my husband.  We've been seeing each other for about 12 years and we figured it was about time we got married.

This is probably one of the most positive developments in my life of late, and the most noteworthy.  Our wedding on New Year's Day really got 2017 off to a good start and we have high hopes for a wonderful life together.