Favorite Place 3: A Book

Self added Utopia to her reading list, just today.

She figures, any book that manages to remain in continuous print for 500 years is surely worth reading.

She took this picture in another favorite place: the Philosophy section of Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino. She’s sure Thomas More would have been tickled pink to know that a young writer named China Miéville, in the 21st century, would be introducing his book by writing about how much he influenced her.


Her reading list for spring and summer goes something like this:

  • Every Philip Pullman book written in the Dark Materials universe, starting with Volume One of his new trilogy The Book of Dust: La Belle Savauge
  • Homer’s Odyssey
  • Utopia

Yes, she is forsaking the contemporary, at least for now. Apologies about the heavy concentration on male writers. She’s on a quest to find books about islands, and she’s only just started her hunt. Women writers will appear, of course they will.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

FAVORITE PLACE: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 21 March 2018

  • This week, share an image of your happy place . . .  (Cheri Lucas Rowlands, The Daily Post, 21 March 2018)

Self’s favorite place is her imagination.

It’s a place where anything can happen: where porcupines turn into lizards, where a teenager carries a woman on his back from San Francisco to Los Angeles because the Apocalypse has happened and people need to stick together, where a taciturn sea captain is the only person who can save humanity from an invasion of creatures called Longnecks who suddenly appear in the Bering Sea.


Children’s Book: Found it in son’s room, a week ago.

Self’s stories may not sound happy, but she is most happy when she is writing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Tweaking the Reading List, Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Spent the day trying to stay warm and dry. It’s very cold here in Mendocino. A few minutes ago, rain started to come down.

Self tried to get into Empress of the East, had high hopes, but the first chapter, Abduction, isn’t really about how Roxelana, Slave-Girl-Turned-Empress-of-the-Ottoman-Empire, was abducted. Instead, it consists of page after page of speculation about the exact spot from where she was taken. Then, a few pages of how hard it was on captives. DUH. This is dull stuff.

Luckily, self brought the next book on her reading list to Mendocino. It’s The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman. Opening sentence:

Three miles up the river Thames from the center of Oxford, some distance from where the great colleges of Jordan, Gabriel, Balliol, and two dozen others contended for mastery in the boat races, out where the city was only a collection of towers and spires in the distance over the misty levels of Port Meadow, there stood the Priory of Godstow, where the gentle nuns went about their holy business; and on the opposite bank from the priory there was an inn called the Trout.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

In Progress: Fantasy

“I was on my way to the Citadel,” she said.

I performed an elaborate yawn.

#amreading GRRM’s A CLASH OF KINGS

In preparation for Game of Thrones‘ final season, airing sometime 2019, self has set herself the task of reading the books. She’s read one so far; it was in her cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig two years ago, and it was still there when she returned last year.

Writing dialogue is hard. Writing Game of Thrones fan fiction dialogue is even harder, especially when one hasn’t read the books. George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones dialogue is so on point!


Maester Luwin to Bran Stark, p. 442, A Clash of Kings:

“We look at mountains and call them eternal, and so they seem . . . but in the course of time, mountains rise and fall, rivers change their courses, stars fall from the sky, and great cities sink beneath the sea. Even gods die, we think. Everything changes.

“Perhaps magic was once a mighty force in the world, but no longer. What little remains is no more than the wisp of smoke that lingers in the air after a great fire has burned out, and even that is fading. Valyria was the last ember, and Valyria is gone. The dragons are no more, the giants are dead, the children of the forest forgotten with all their lore.

“No, my prince. Jojen Reed may have had a dream or two that he believes came true, but he does not have the greensight. No living man has that power.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



#amreading: GRRM’s A CLASH OF KINGS

Very belatedly reading the books, and doing it in very random fashion (but she has a whole year, at least, until Game of Thrones Season 8 airs)

“They tell me you are called Weasel. That will not serve. What name did your mother give you?”

She bit her lip, groping for another name. Lommy had called her Lumpyhead, Sansa used Horseface, and her father’s men once dubbed her Arya Underfoot, but she did not think any of those were the sort of name he wanted.

“Nymeria,” she said. “Only she called me Nan for short.”

A Clash of Kings, p. 694

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


#novelinprogress: Blue Water, Distant Shores

This novel is going to live and die on the strength of the voice. It doesn’t matter that it’s set in the 18th century. All self knows is that if the voice isn’t true, it will never work.

She writes things set in the distant future, and those too are voice-driven. Like her story, This Is End, where the hero’s Friends-With-Benefits, Her, tells him: He ended me. Big ended me.

Or when she wrote about the Legazpi expedition of 1571 and crammed her story full of Spanish: De las Islas Filipinas. Paganos. Esta tierra fué la primera. La primera misa.

So of course, Blue Water, Distant Shores is voice-driven. Hard to sustain for 300 pages. Took her three years. Flash is really her jam.

pp. 7 – 8:

  • By the eighteenth century, Spain is already exhibiting signs of exhaustion, its sulky mind tossing and turning, preferring already the deep, fathomless sleep of history’s graveyard to the turbulence of exploration. In the Islands, the Church suffers grievous wounds. Perhaps there is no saving it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

New Orleans Review, 2012: “Thing”

The first of self’s dystopian fantasies to be published appeared in New Orleans Review in 2012:


It’s been a week. The creature is still alive. I have been thinking a lot about it, watching it every day, seeing how it changes.

For instance, it no longer reacts when I poke it with the tip of my knife. Little dots of blood appear on the surface of its skin. Perhaps it has no nerve endings?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwritinghorror: The Rorqual

The Mother of All Alien Invasions starts with a foot race.

Setting: the Bering Sea

p. 29:

The pago paws at the hull. Black angels, are they? Wearing coats of water, coats of snow. Wings cutting the air like blades.

The man from Endurance said they’d rolled their dead down slopes. His pregnant wife, he’d filled her mouth with shards of ice and rock.



Stay tuned.



An image of the Blessed Virgin accompanied him into every battle, resting on the pommel of his saddle. The Saint was a trickster, a conjurer. At his first victory, at the walled fortress of Quesada, his men scaled the walls in the darkness, first muffling their ladders with cloth.

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