Two Dystopian Fantasies: Forthcoming

in Bellingham Review:  ICE

  • What food, what a fool. There’s no food on the ice. Not on top, not under.

In Quarterly West:  FIRST CAUSES

  • Class begins. Fire Lizard tells us to turn on our cornea slips. “Today’s topic,” Fire Lizard says, “is First Causes.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Shine From Other Places

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is SHINE.

Self is having great fun looking at posts on this theme by other bloggers. Here are a few that she particularly liked:

  • Here’s SHINE in a Colorado Park, courtesy of Full-Time.
  • Here’s SHINE by a lake called Sans Souci, in the south of France, courtesy of Margaretha Montagu.
  • Here’s SHINE by The West Trainz troupe, setting up for a performance at the annual Montreal International Jazz Festival, courtesy of Mainline_Matter.
  • Here’s the SHINE of a fungus cap in Calderbridge, West Umbria, courtesy of Pixelesque.
  • Here’s SHINE from a Portuguese Man o’ War washed up on the Witsand beach in southern South Africa, courtesy of Notes From Africa.
  • Here’s SHINE from Raiatea, French Polynesia, courtesy of Roaming About.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Her next book after Ghost Soldiers is a biography of Jesse James by T. J. Stiles. Then, she’ll move back into fiction with Kate Walbert’s A Short History of Women. With any luck, she’ll get to Walbert’s book just in time for the elections.

She watched all three debates. This last one was potent: there was one certifiable meltdown. When a man says live, on camera, to an audience of millions, that his opponent is “a nasty woman,” you can forget everything he said earlier about respecting women. He could have said “a nasty person.” But he said: nasty woman. As if her gender made it even more nasty (And you, sir, are a nasty man!)

Someone tweeted that he thought it would be a good idea to re-name all public restrooms to read: BAD HOMBRES and NASTY WOMEN.

All those in favor, say “Aye!”

Anyhoo, Back to Ghost Soldiers. The raid to free the American POWs in Cabanatuan has a very surreal quality. First of all, the POWs do not seem impressed by the American Rangers who’ve just arrived to rescue them, and are reluctant to leave the camp. Quite a few of them have to be actually kicked in the rear end because the Rangers are on a very tight program.

After the camp is completely emptied, the leader of the raid does a last check of each and every barrack. He’s all alone. Satisfied that the Americans haven’t missed a single POW, he fires a flare into the sky, visible for miles, to signal the end of the mission.

But they do leave one man behind. A British POW who’d gone deaf, who was using a latrine, who didn’t come out until everyone — Rangers AND POWs had left. The operation had to have taken at least an hour, so — the man was constipated?

There is also an American Ranger who is shot by one of his own men (by accident), from point-blank range. And this Ranger can’t stop saying, to his last breath, “By my own men. By my own men.” The men around him try to comfort him by assuring him that he was shot by a Japanese, but he refuses to believe it and just keeps repeating, in absolute horror, “By my own men.” Until he dies.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More H2O: From Self and Others

For this week’s challenge, share a photo that features H2O: the element of water.

Lingnum Draco for The Daily Post (7 October 2016)

Below, two WordPress blogs whose shots of H2O were inspiring:

Here are self’s own shots of H2O:

The first two shots are of the Thames near Oxford.


Spring 2016: the Thames in Oxford


Riverboat on the Thames: Don’t leave Oxford without going on one of these!

Here’s a view of the Slaney Estuary in County Wexford, Ireland:


Slaney Estuary, County Wexford, Ireland: May 2016

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Interpretations, H20: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 7 October 2016

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge — H20 — is interesting. Self actually spent a good part of the day snapping pictures that she thought fit the theme, but in the end none of the pictures she took were particularly noteworthy.

Luckily, there are so many gorgeous posts from other WordPress bloggers. Here are a few:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Everlark Comments

Self began a new multi-chapter fan fic last week. (It’ll be her 9th; this is really getting out of hand but whatever).

In the last couple of chapters, readers have been more or less agreed:

  • Why does Katniss keep asking Peeta so many questions it is weird but he answers them anyway?

(It’s called: device for advancement of the plot, dah-lings!)

  • This chick has word vomit or something! (Uh-oh!)
  • Katniss has the worst foot-in-mouth tendency ever!

Self finds all these comments somewhat endearing, what the hey!

Self had no idea, none, that her Katniss she was crossing boundaries. Shows you how much she has to learn about modern-day courtship rituals.

One time, self wrote something about a boyfriend visiting his girl in her college (They were having a long-distance relationship) and he ended up spending the night in her dorm room and readers were like: What? That’s so not OKAY! (Really? Why? People did that all the time when — never mind!)

Someone else told her today: Your writing is so different than most (If you only knew, dear Everlark fan fic reader!), it’s so lyrical. My problem is: Why are your chapters so short?

(It’s called subtlety and restraint, dah-ling! Because self is quite the flash fiction writer! Oops! In fan fic, it’s not flash-fiction, it’s called a ONE-SHOT!)

Self finally decided to partner with another Everlark fan fic writer. And together, we are writing an AU to the AU that is all Everlark.

She works hard, self’s collaborator. She has written one of the 10 most-read Everlark fan fics EVER. That is according to statistics compiled by this famous xxx fan fic website. The fact that she agreed to write outtakes for self is so humbling. Not to mention, hers are triple the length of self’s. And so much more funny!

Packed with tattooed girls and bands and grunge clubs. Which of course self has no first-hand knowledge of because she is really a nun writing from a cloister on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Pray Mother Superior doesn’t find out!

Stay tuned.

The Photographs in THE WAY TO THE SPRING

Self doesn’t think any of the reviews have mentioned the photographs in The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. But they are powerful. They make you see the people behind the words and the politics.

The first one that catches her attention is Bassem Tamimi in his living room in Nabi Saleh, taken by Keven Manor: Bassem has a somewhat Peter Stormare look about him.

The picture immediately below it is pretty stunning: Ahed and Nariman Tamimi outside their home in Nabi Saleh, Summer 2012, taken by Peter van Agtmael (the captions are infinitesimally small: she can barely read them, in fact. Must get bifocals!) The same photographer took the stunning picture of a boy taking cover as soldiers fire rubber-coated bullets, somewhere near Nabi Saleh, February 2013. And a third picture by van Agtmael is so sweeping and powerful, in composition it reminds self a little of Goya: Men sit beside a fire in the ruins of Shuja’iyya.

Many of the photographs are by author Ben Ehrenreich. Of Ehrenreich’s photos, self’s favorite is one of Eid Suleiman al-Hathalin’s daughter, Lin.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Starting New Everlark: HEEEELP!

Self, what is wrong with you? At this point in 2016, the last thing you need is to start a new Everlark fan fic.

She posted it as a one-shot last weekend. Just 400 words, no biggie.

Then she got comment after comment. Which kinda got her excited.

This is her story: Peeta is a homeless man, and Katniss is an office worker, and the homeless man strikes up a very innocent conversation with Katniss. Everyone was all like: OMG that is so sweet!

Self wrote 3000 more words in one day! But all the interchanges so far take place on the street and self has no idea how to move the action to Katniss’s apartment. Where it obviously needs to go.

Readers are naturally impatient and begin offering self some helpful hints:

“Umm. Maybe it’s raining and Katniss invites Peeta to step inside?”

Or: “It’s foggy and chilly and Katniss doesn’t want Peeta to freeze to death!”

“She drops her wallet and Peeta retrieves it and Katniss’s address is on the license so he finds her building and rings the buzzer?”

Then, the backstory for why Peeta ended up homeless. More reader suggestions:

  • “Maybe he’s a war vet suffering from PTSD?”
  • “Maybe he was evicted from his apartment because he lost his job and couldn’t make the rent?”
  • “Maybe he’s a filmmaker doing a documentary on the homeless and decides to do guerrilla filmmaking?”
  • “Maybe he was a chef and the restaurant closed?”

Johanna appears in the story as a punk drummer in a rock band that plays in grunge places (fast disappearing in San Francisco but — creative license, after all!) She has a tattoo of a picnic basket on her arm and Gale, Katniss’s current boyfriend, finds that so overwhelmingly hot! Gale is all over that picnic basket tattoo! Hell, yeah!

Turns out Johanna and Peeta are related. Like, distant third cousins. Johanna doesn’t know Peeta has become one of the homeless. Peeta gets hired to model for Cinna because even though he is homeless he still has a pretty good figure. He gets paid $1000 in cash.

New dilemma: What in the heck is self going to have Peeta do with $1000 in cash?

  • Maybe he could open a bank account?
  • Maybe he could buy some new clothes?
  • Maybe he could buy Katniss some flowers?
  • Maybe he could take a few art classes?

Self will sleep on it.

Stay tuned.



More Quests

All books are quests of one kind or another. To self, they represent explorations of new experiences.


New Edition of Don Quixote, at the AWP 2016 Bookfair in Los Angeles


From the Europa booth at the 2016 AWP Los Angeles Book Fair


from self’s own copy of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans, retold by Amy Ehrlich, illustrated by Susan Jeffers

This is how the fairy tale begins:

Far, far away, in a warm and pleasant land, there once lived a king who had eleven sons and one daughter. The princes wore stars on their shirts and swords at their sides, and their sister, Elise, sat on a footstool made of glass. These children were happy from the time they woke in the morning until they went to their beds at night. They never imagined another life.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Other Quests

Liking these WordPress bloggers’ takes on this week’s Photo Challenge:  QUEST

Check them out!

Stay tuned.

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