Monday, December 6, 2010


Here's a brief summary of my NaNoWriMo experience last month:

week 1: FUN! Story and characters flow out of my head.

week 2: BORING -- I want to be almost anyplace except entering the middle of my story.

week 3: DESPAIR -- Story morphs, and I hope like heck I can find my idea again in the midst of so much garbage.

week 4: PANIC -- The end is in sight, but it looks farther away than ever before, and furthermore, I haven't a clue anymore what I'm writing.

Then, as if by magic, the words flowed into my story for a total of 50,303 words. (Magic is what I love about writing!) I had enough words to win the challenge, but...

The book is not finished.

I will let it simmer, then do the necessary research, and then fill in the gaps. I'm calling the book The Amazon Henge. It's a time-travel, female Indiana Jones sort of story.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

NaNoWriMo: approaching the finish line

With less than a week left of this novel writing challenge in a month, I am almost on target with my word count at 44,000. To my surprise, I am finding the last 6,000 words to be much harder than I expected. I am out of story. I desperately need to research! My characters have changed on me, to the point that I don't know who they are anymore. My plot has taken some surprising twists, morphing into a story that I hadn't planned. I'm ready to take a breath, and let this story rest for a bit, but I still have 6,000 more words to fathom from the great unknown.

Monday, November 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo: a midway report

November is National Novel Writing Month, and in a moment of blind optimism only two days before kick-off, I decided to take the challenge. Now I have to write 50,000 words this month!

Why sign on? Because..

1. It's a way to kick one of my novel ideas out of my head (I have 9 full-blown ideas that I seriously want to write, sooner rather than later--see my July post on "Starting a Novel--part 1"). I had no idea in July that I would end up doing this.

2. It's fun. I get to tell myself a story, while each day I don't know exactly where the story is going to take me, or who's going to show up in it.

3. It's hard.

"The book is stupid," Critical Voice whines in my head.

"Shut up, just type." I don't have time to listen to CV because I have too many words to type.

Choosing a hard writerly challenge always helps me grow as a writer.

So far I have 22,000 words, not quite half-way to my goal. So, can I get all the way to 50,000 words in just 15 more days? Beats me!

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Crawlers" Is Here!

I just received my contributor's copy of Infradead, a trade paperback anthology that contains my novella "Crawlers." This anthology deals with human extinction, and here's what the cover copy says:

Does the world end with a whimper or a bang?
2012: the Maya calendar expires
2029: an asteroid takes aim at the Earth
Or . . .
Could a mistake during time travel destroy contemporary human civilization?
How would Satan tempt the last woman on Earth?
Will robots replace humans?
Have the gods played a practical joke?
Could the next step in evolution change our species?
Did someone lose a bet?
The stories in this book are about the "or."

"Crawlers" is about changing our species. The story starts with stealing wildflower seeds from an ecologically devastated Rocky Mountains and progresses through colonization of Mars, where experiments should help restore Earth's ecology. And then, things go terribly wrong...

Infradead is available from Sam's Dot Publishing for $12.00, and you can find it here:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Favorite Reading: October

China Lake, by Meg Gardiner.

A thriller about a lawyer-turned-writer in Santa Barbara, California who has to save her nephew from fanatics acting under the guise of religious extremism.

My mystery book group read this, and I loved it because it's full of action, fun, and surprises--just what a thriller should have!

I also enjoy short stories, and one that stood out for me was "Uncle Moon in Raintree Hills," by Fred Chappell, in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Sept/Oct, 2010. I loved the way this story evokes the vivid imagination of childhood along with the smells of autumn in the countryside, all rolled up with just enough creep factor.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fodder from DC

Every time I travel to the DC area I see new sights, and I gain more fodder for future stories. Here are some of the places that especially struck me on my latest trip there:

The Carlyle House in Alexandria is a good place for ghost hunters to see orbs.

The clock tower of city hall in Alexandria where justice was served in days long past by displaying the decapitated heads of criminals.

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial didn't open until 1997! Set along the Tidal Basin, it's a peaceful series of fountains and statues and some of his timeless quotes.

A blind selection of remains inside identical coffins led to a single unknown soldier for each of three wars, WWI, WWII, and Korean (there are no unknowns from Vietnam) (and... the unknown from the Revolutionary War is buried in a churchyard in Alexandria).

Robert E. Lee's home was seized by Union soldiers and eventually became the site for Arlington National Cemetery.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Writer on the Road

Washington DC is a national treasure, and not just because some of my family lives there (although that's a good reason!) I just returned from two weeks there, babysitting my 6-month-old granddaughter. I write every day, even on the road, even if it's only a paragraph, which is about all that I managed to do while baby was cutting her first tooth. Boy, did my biceps get a great workout!

Then, exciting writer news: a request for a rewrite for one of my short story submissions. It only took three days of baby catnaps to finish the changes. Thanks to the internet, the story is now approved, never mind that I was on the road.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Story Coming Soon!

Any day now, my novella "Crawlers" will appear in the anthology Infradead, to be published by Sam's Dot. You can follow its status here:

The theme of this anthology is the end of civilization, and my story explores how this might happen in connection to explorations on Mars. The Mars connection coincides with a massive burn-off in our Rocky Mountains. Here's what this might look like, from a recent hike I took in an area of pine beetle kill:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Favorite Stories This Month

Geoffrey A. Landis, "The Sultan of the Clouds," Asimov's, September 2010.

Imagine, if a handful of families own the solar system, and the ruling sultan of Venus invites you to his floating city in the clouds? Reading this novella made me feel as if I journeyed to Venus and explored its culture.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch, "Red Letter Day," Analog, September 2010.

Students receive red letters (or not) shortly before their graduation, and these letters are shatteringly important because they're from... No, I won't spoil it!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fourmile Fire

We were gardening Labor Day morning when we first smelled smoke. The fire started about 4 miles due west of our house. Because of high winds, we were soon engulfed in smoke.

The air took on an orange cast, and we watched ash rain down on our deck.

By late afternoon the smoke cleared a bit. About 3500 acres burned that first day.

Tuesday morning the smoke came back, so thick that it grounded the fleet of slurry bombers and helicopters until noon. 7100 acres and at least 63 buildings had burned.

The area of evacuation spread to a rough quadrangle shape that's about 6 miles north-south and 12 miles east-west. The boundaries are Boulder Canyon to the south, Lefthand Canyon to the north, the foothills to the east, and the Peak to Peak Highway to the west.

Tuesday afternoon a fleet of 9 water tankers was in the air again. Helicopters buzzed our house every 7 minutes, scooping water from our neighborhood lake to carry across the ridge to the fire.

This morning the fire is still 0% contained. It has crept north and east, coming about 2 miles from our house. 92 burned buildings have been counted so far.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Best Reading

In August, the book that stood out for me was the book my mystery reading club read:

Thunder Bay, by William Kent Krueger. Private Detective Cork O'Connor searches for the son of his friend Henry, an Ojibwe medicine man. His search leads him into the beautiful back country around the Minnesota-Canadian border and back into the 1920's when Henry was a young guide.

I loved this book on many levels. The sense of place is spectacularly drawn, the history is fascinating, and the love story is so tender! Maybe even more interesting were the parallel stories about being a dad.

Friday, August 27, 2010

AMAZING ALASKA! Juneau to Ketchikan

Continuing with my top choices...

The most upside-down trees: in the rainforest of Tongass

The most photographed glacier: Mendenhall, outside Juneau

The most impossible state capital to drive to: Juneau, which has no roads in or out.

The biggest catch: grabbing your float plane.

The fishiest street: salmon swim up Ketchikan's Creek Street, where bootleggers used to deliver goods by boat through trap doors under the buildings.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

AMAZING ALASKA! Glacier Bay to Skagway

Continuing with my top choices...

Superlative scenery: Glacier Bay, balmy at 57 degrees F

The hardiest souls: fish wheels count salmon for the fishermen who sustain themselves over the winter with their yearly catch.

Most majestic bird: bald eagles come to this sanctuary for the salmon fishing, too.

The best graffiti: ship captains who've docked at Skagway's wharf

The most scenic fjord: this is what glaciers leave behind when they retreat.

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

AMAZING ALASKA! Whittier to the Inside Passage

Continuing with my top choices:

The quietest sailaway

Most OMG moment: here come the icebergs!

Yikes! Can the captain really sail this ship through 1,000-year-old ice?

Most haunting sound: the thunder of calving icebergs from Hubbard Glacier.

The prettiest fog

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

AMAZING ALASKA! Mt. McKinley to Whittier

Continuing with my list of top choices...

The most watched clouds: Mt. McKinley is under there somewhere.

The best wildflowers: fields and fields of fireweed!

The most cooperative neighborhood: they share a runway in their backyards.

The most critical timing: trains and cars all use the same one-way tunnel under the mountain from Cook Inlet to Whittier.

The best delay: the ship waits for us, and we're only 2 hours late!

To be continued...

Monday, August 23, 2010

AMAZING ALASKA! Fairbanks to Denali

We recently returned from a 2-week "cruise-tour" of Alaska. We flew to Fairbanks, where we caught the train to Denali National Park, then continued south to Whittier to board the cruise ship and sail the inside passage to Vancouver. Here's my list of top choices during the first leg of our journey:

Best meal: asiago-crusted halibut and Alaska Pale Ale on a deck at the Fairbanks Princess Lodge, where we overlooked the river and watched sternwheelers plow by and float planes land and take off.

Most eager athletes: sled dogs pull a tractor during the off-season.

Most confusing directions: where the pipeline has to surface because of discontinuous permafrost.

The longest train: yes, that's the engine of our train, rounding the bend ahead, on our way into Denali National Park.

Most impressive animals: grizzlies in Denali (I know, I know, it's not moose!) This mama and her two two-year-old cubs romped about 50 yards away from our park bus, fighting over a small, 4-legged meal. Mama won.

To be continued...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Celebrating the Colorado Book Awards

I read a portion of my story from the CBA finalist anthology, Broken Links, Mended Lives to a happy hour audience at Baur's in downtown Denver. Five other finalists read from their works, too. Thanks to so many of my friends who showed up, the readings were a fun event!

We took the scenic route over Independence Pass on our way to Aspen, where the awards were presented. My anthology didn't win, but we enjoyed hearing the results and hearing the speakers, who included the mayors of Aspen and Denver. Thanks for everyone's support, and to my neighbors who joined us there!

To see a list of the 2010 winners of the Colorado Book Awards, go to this website:

Friday, July 2, 2010


I'm feeling the urge to start a new book, and I thought it'd be fun to log the process here. Right now I have no idea what book will develop from this urge, or when I'll finish the project.

The first step of the process is recognizing the need to start. It's an addiction, this need to write. This urge starts almost as a hunger pang, a sense of being incomplete. What this means today is that I will have to clear (most of) the projects from my desk. Then I'll have to sift through my ideas (currently there are 9 burning my brain), then research, then find my story. If all goes well, I should be able to start writing the first draft of this unknown book in January.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Colorado Book Award--Finalist!

My short story "Losing the Light" appears in Broken Links, Mended Lives. This anthology is a finalist for the Colorado Book Award! These awards, presented by Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book, will be announced June 25th at the Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival.

The anthology's theme is the same as its title. My story is about an intergalactic pilot who travels by transforming to light...until she's recalled from duty, to be replaced by a newer version.

In anticipation of the Colorado Book Awards, there will be a series of readings. I'm scheduled along with other popular fiction finalists on:

June 16, 2010

at 5:00 pm

at Baur's Italian Restaurant, 1512 Curtis Street, in Denver, CO

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Waiting for the New Grandbaby!

This is the post I should've posted the end of March. Instead, I got to plant tomato seeds with my two-year-old granddaughter while we awaited the birth of her little sis.

The cats only come out when the children are away.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Writing Workshop

I've just returned from another round of fabulous workshops, and people often ask me why on earth do I keep going back? Didn't I learn it the first time?

Well, not exactly. Here's what it's really all about:

1. I don't have to cook, find lost household items, or clean the litter box back home, while instead

2. I enjoy the beautiful Oregon coast and

3. get to hang out with like-minded folks and discuss devious things to do to characters while

4. light bulbs are going off in my foggy head, and I find myself in a candy store of ideas(!!) and then

5. I return home with several finished new stories, and most importantly

6. I'm fired up to tackle new projects and new ways of doing them!