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“Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science.” - Girl Genius, by Kaja & Phil Foglio

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

Perspective, it's all about perspective ...

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Happy Solstice!

I watched Hogfather last night - a tradition in my household. Back when my daughter was in high school, over winter break we'd read the book Hogfather (by Terry Pratchett) out loud to each other, doing voices for the characters. She does a fantastic Death!

This afternoon I'm going to make clam chowder. And poke at the synopsis for Rising Tide.

I may Read A Book! Haven't done that in far too long.

And that's the summary of my oh-so-glamorous life at the moment.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Change at Kat's Rambles

Hi to all my followers,

There's a tab here for The Inkwell, a story I co-wrote with someone. That someone recently requested all sections of the story under her name be removed.

As doing so would gut the story such that what remained made no sense, I opted to take The Inkwell private.

My apologies to anyone in the midst of reading it.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

NaNoWriMo is still going

My word count is just a tad north of 45K. Finishing today will be a challenge. I'll try, but no guarantees.

I'm attempting a space opera this year. I went into it with a ludicrously abysmal level of world building. Which means basically there wasn't any. This type of story requires the creation of planets and cultures and non-human sentient species and technology and ... and ... and thinking the story would happen without all those things was, in hindsight, just the kind of craziness NaNo is all about.

This story has more [bracket info needed] than anything I've ever written before. I've even given up on naming characters! [person name] [character name needed] [somebody] are far too common in this document!

I suspect my future self will have some succinct, unprintable-type words for my present self.


Cover! That's a first for me, having a cover. Over Thanksgiving dinner, my daughter, her roommate and I were discussing the story and came up with a pulp science fiction magazine type cover idea. One of those with Strong Man Holding Weapon in one hand with other arm wrapped around Woman With Arms Raised and Mouth Open to Scream and an especially Menacing Tentacle wrapping both of them.

I really liked it.

And while procrastinating thinking about the story, I googled pulp SF covers and discovered this AMAZING website where you can make your own cover! Of course, that image already in my head wasn't available. C'est la vie, n'est pas?

There then passed a mumbly mumbly amount of time. But I has cover! (Several actually, but I think this one is the best.)

So now I must finish writing the story. 

(The phrase "unrealistically sexy" is homage to Shadow Unit and its unrealistically sexy FBI agents.)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014

Yep, I'm doing it again.

They say you don't learn to write novels, you learn to write this novel. They say every novel comes to the writer in a somewhat different way.

In my limited experience, this is true.

My last novel had strong characters that were easy for me to write, but there were times I couldn't see what happened beyond the scene I was working on.

This novel I'll be starting in two days? I have a strong sense of the over-arching plot, large vistas, the big picture stuff. What I don't have is characters! This is scary for me. You can't tell a story without characters.

First drafts suck. This is another thing they say that is true. They also say a first draft is the writer telling herself a story. Subsequent drafts are the writer telling others the story. What that means is I can start with a major info dump of all these big vistas, describe the plot as I currently see it. Start with the panorama view, then zoom in.

And that's when those characters better start waving at me to tell their stories!

Got my fingers crossed and my stash of coffee.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I finished the story I mentioned in my last post. By the deadline!

The reason for that deadline: I was flying to Portland, Oregon to meet up with my on-line writing group. We were each to bring a story to share. It was our first time being all in the same place.

The visit was amazingly fun. Lots of talking. Many photos were taken. Here's just a sampling.

Cannon Beach on a glorious cloud-free day. I bought All the Earrings.

The following day: Multomah Falls

A tree near Horsetail Falls. This one could be a prompt for a story! 

In our search for lunch we crossed Bridge of the Gods to Washington state. So I've been in Washington. For maybe a half hour. The photo was taken in Oregon, looking across the Columbia River to Washington.

The next day was an inside day.  First stop was Voodoo Doughnuts. The filling on this one was raspberry. The sugar rush lasted several hours. 

We had to go to Powell's Books. This is the entrance. Enticing, isn't it? And the store delivers on that promise. So. Many. Books!

Flying into Portland, I saw Mount St Helens and friends out one side, followed by Mt Hood on the other side. I was in an aisle seat so didn't get pictures. Flying out of Portland I had a window. Here's Mt Hood.

It was a marvelous trip. We discussed so many things, including our plans (or lack thereof in my case) for NaNo in November. Maybe we can make our getting together an annual thing.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

New Inkwell Entry

I had today off from The Day Job. I planned to work on a short story that has a deadline of September 26. Instead I dithered. A lot. Reorganized my Safari bookmarks. Cleaned up the laptop desktop. Read over the stories and story fragments from two recent NaNoWriMo rebel years (2012 and 2013). Copied out the pieces that looked promising.

One of those stories was set in The Inkwell world. (See the tab at the top of this page. It's a story I wrote jointly with Dixiegirl, started during NaNo 2009). So I did a rough revision and posted it HERE.

That September 26 short story? No progress. I believe I have effectively spent my day in that well-known phenomenon: displacement activities. Well, it's not bedtime yet...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Reading Update

Here are the books I re-read since the beginning of May:

N.K. Jemisin, The Inheritance Trilogy (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, The Kingdom of Gods). Epic fantasy. Not earth Medieval Europe based, wonderfully developed characters. Naha is a favorite.

Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharing Knife Series (4 books: Beguilement, Legacy, Passage, Horizon). Fantasy/romance. Has a great depiction of riverboat culture.

Kate Elliott, Spiritwalker Trilogy (Cold Magic, Cold Fire, Cold Steel). Epic fantasy. I love Ms Elliott's worldbuilding. An example: an intelligent species based on troodons.

Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman, Good Omens. Because it's a delightfully funny apocalypse tale.

Elizabeth Bear, 2 books: Blood and Iron and Whiskey and Water. Urban fantasy. Inventive combination of classic Fairie, the Morgan/Arthur myth, mages, werewolves, and a dragon, centered in New York City. Her Morgan is my favorite Morgan ever. And Ms Bear gives the kelpie realistic horse-like behaviors when he's in human form.

Here's what I read that was new for me since the beginning of May:

C.J. Cherryh, The Morgaine Saga. A collection of three SF novels; interplanetary time travel and culture clashes.

N.K. Jemisin & Hiromi Goto, Systems Fail. A collection of short stories and essays published for WisCon38, where they were the Guests of Honor.

Ursula Vernon, Toad Words and Other Stories. Ms Vernon tells delightfully original fairy tales. She is also very good at re-imagining traditional fairy tales. If you're unfamiliar with her work, starting here would be a good choice. Then read Digger (beginning of the story)  - just sayin'.

I finished Toad Words today. I think I'm ready to tackle more new books now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I Wrote A Post for My Blog!

The day job has been claiming an increasing amount of my time since around the middle of June, leaving me tired and with few active brain cells come the weekend. Training five people at the same time with little help will do that. If they'd started at the same time, I could have trained with easy, lecture-like sessions. So their starts were staggered. A week or two apart. I mostly get to say the same stuff five times over!

Writing has been sporadic to non-existent.

I did read many books - well, that should be re-read many books. Didn't feel up to the thinking required when reading one for the first time.

I consider re-reading as writing research. When a book is well done, I just devour the story. It takes two or three tries for me to be able to pay attention to how the author managed that magic! So during the re-reads, I flagged pages that might help me with the revisions I have looming.

My novel and a short story need revising. I'm up for critique in September. Last time it was my turn I had to pass. I will not do that again.

Also, I'll start posting here more often. I have a target of once a week.

My plans haven't been working out very well recently. I still make 'em. Maybe I'm the Overly Optimistic Poster Person.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

WisCon 38 is over :(

I returned home today from this year's WisCon.  WisCon LINK

It was an amazing weekend. The Guests of Honor (GOH) and the Tiptree Award winner's speeches were beautiful, provocative and kickass. I cried and cheered along with 1000 friends.

That's how WisCon feels. Like you're there with friends. The atmosphere is welcoming, inclusive. It's easy to strike up conversations, you can wave and say "hi" to someone you saw in the audience at a panel and most likely they'll return the greeting. Con friends.

So. Pictures or it didn't happen, right? Here's the view from my hotel room, because View. It's the Wisconsin capitol building near sundown.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Summary


Only hours remain before April Camp NaNo is over. The structure is different than November NaNo.  You get assigned cabins. Like going away to camp!

You can request cabin mates, so the members of my on-line writing group as well as a British NaNo friend were all in the same cabin. There were also seven people we hadn't met before camp. We had s'mores, scimitars, and chocolate wine. Also Baileys and Guinness and cocoa. Some reached their goals and others didn't, but we had some fun conversations.

I signed up to edit for 25 hours on Rising Tide. I put in more than 27. The final battle scene is longer now and I punched up Rori's role at the end (as requested by beta reader Theresa L). Just a few more tweaks and it will be time to start on synopsis and query.


I read five of the seven volumes in Kate Elliott's Crown of Stars series. (I read the first two books in March.) Ms Elliott writes epic fantasy. Each of these books was about 600 pages long (mass market paperbacks). I enjoyed the series, but I like her Spiritwalker series better.

And that pretty much accounts for my free time for the entire month of April.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oops, I did it again

My on-line writing group just decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo in April. Spontaneously. During our meeting. We all signed up and requested each other as cabin mates. During the meeting. There were many giggles.

I'll be editing Rising Tide.

Maybe writing a new short piece as well.

It's camp.

No Pressure.

I think I'll be playing ukulele around the campfire now and then.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I helped!

Some dude on the internet was lamenting what he perceived as the sorry state of science fiction. I didn't see his rantings myself. One of the things he said was that women are destroying the genre.

Well, that went viral on Twitter. As these things do.

In short order (about a half hour), the editor of Lightspeed Magazine, John Joseph Adams, decided they would do a special issue - Women Destroy Science Fiction. A kickstarter was set up for $5000.

The idea tapped into folks' outrage. Stretch goal after stretch goal was unlocked. The project successfully funded at over $50,000! There will not only be Women Destroy SF (out in June), but also Women Destroy Fantasy and Women Destroy Horror (in October). All the stories will be written and edited by women.  And early next year there'll be Queers Destroy Science Fiction.

I'm proud I helped make this happen.

My pledge package includes every issue of Lightspeed (#1-46), 24 issues of Fantasy (my choice among the 57 issues they had - Fantasy was rolled into Lightspeed several years ago), and 24 issues of Nightmare Magazine.

I haven't done the math, and probably won't, to figure out how many short stories I now have waiting to be read.  All these, plus two anthologies I purchased about a month ago.

Reading fuels the writing.

Maybe I'll acquire afterburners!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Books Read So Far in 2014

Hi.  I'm still around, just busy.

So far this year I've managed to complete a total of five books. Five. Yeah, only five.

(1) Jonathan Strahan, ed., The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, volume seven. This is a Big Book, 624 pages in my trade paperback version. I started it last year. One thing about anthologies, they don't have the pressure of what happens next pushing you to pick them up again soon. But I finished it. Yay! Good, thought-provoking stories in here.

(2) Jo Walton, Among Others. Many wonderful things have been said about this book. They're true. This is the first book of hers I've read. I will seek out more.

When I was in junior high and high school, I always loved really thick books. Thick books meant you got to live in that story world longer. I still favor them. If you do, too, try these next three, at around 600 pages each!

(3) (4) & (5) Kate Elliott's Spiritwalker Trilogy:  Cold MagicCold Fire and Cold Steel
I read these last year, and they've been calling to me to re-read for quite some time - my subconscious, on the job. Now that I've completed them again, I noticed scenes to study for help with some of the issues in my current WIP (the novel, not the short stories so much).

I'm almost done with Catherynne M Valente's The Bread We Eat in Dreams. This is a collection of short works. There are stories in here I absolutely love, including "The Consultant," "The Wolves of Brooklyn," and "Twenty-five Facts About Santa Claus."

Not sure how much more book reading I'll be doing. I have many, many short stories to read. More about that in my next post.

Monday, February 10, 2014


At this evening's on-line writing group* meeting, we decided we like the term "dithering" better than "editing." It has a more friendly sound, and it's definitely less daunting.

It's also a good description of the process. "Should I phrase it like this or like that?" See - dithering!

*present were Laurie (, Cathy (, Terri (if she has a blog it's secret) and me.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

We Has Snow

Here's the parking lot at work this evening when I came out: 

There's at least three inches of snow on the back bumper of my car. It accumulated in roughly four hours. 

Our total is now over five feet (over 1.5 meters) for this winter. It's been a long time since we've had lots of below zero temperatures and lots of snow. When I was a kid, seemed like every winter was like this -  a few inches of snow every couple days. It's nice, really. The dirty snow keeps getting covered with fresh stuff.

Today's snow is very fluffy and sparkles in the light. 

Driving home, it was as if everything had been sprinkled with fairy dust. 

In other news, John from my library writing group and I are having a friendly competition collecting rejection slips. It started at the December meeting; he had one - his Very First! I had one, also (the first for my Orchid story, but not my first one ever.) And so the competition began. 

At the January meeting he had another one. I didn't. :-(  John ahead, 2 to 1. 

The February meeting is this coming week. Orchid got two more, for a total of three. I have refrained from emailing him. Will be patient. Will wait for meeting. 

Also, have to get that story out to the next market! That's why this competition is not only fun, but productive. To keep up we have to keep submitting. 

I love all my writing buddies.  Just saying.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Few Random Links

Because I don't have much to say, here are some other folks saying stuff:

Up first, John Scalzi with a baseball - writing metaphor:

Next, Chuck Wendig on characters:

A bit of Aussie science to offset the writing:

The marvelous follow-up by CSIRO:

And some music. I learned a bit of ukulele on the Hawaiian cruise. This piece by Amanda Palmer reminded me how fun an instrument this is.

It has a brief intro about her before she sings.

For those who don't know, Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman are married. (Segue back to writing!)

Happy Monday. Back to editing my story now...

Monday, January 6, 2014

I Do Read Books, Honest!

I try to post what I've read quarterly. Dropped that ball in 2013! There were two books posts, one in May, with all of five books, and another one in July with eight more books. Here's what I read between  early July and the end of the year.  

(13) Vonda N McIntyre, Starfarers. First book in the Starfarers Quartet. I've always loved McIntyre's fiction and this book made me finally realize why. Her SF is primarily biology based, which is far more appealing to me (a biologist) than purely techy stuff. 

(14) Vonda N McIntyre, Transition. Book two in the Starfarers Quartet. Loving this series!

(15) Vonda N McIntyre, Metaphase. Book three in the Starfarers Quartet. I haven't found a paper copy of book four (Nautilus) yet. I'm gonna have to buy the ebook from Book View Cafe. Must read all the books! 

(16) Mary Robinette Kowal, Glamour in Glass.  Continuing adventures of Jane and Vincent of Shades of Milk and Honey (see July post). I enjoyed this book more because the story line didn't feel as close to Austin.  Also really like how the author limits herself to the vocabulary of the Regency. 

(17) Mary Robinette Kowal, Without a Summer. More Jane and Vincent, and another good one. There will be more books in this series. 

(18) Amy Thomson, Storyteller. I met Ms Thomson at WisCon. This is the first book of hers I've read. It was really interesting and I haven't cried that often while reading in a long time (hit the mommy buttons hard for me). Good SF. 

(19) Ursula Vernon, Digger Omnibus. Oh, people. Read this book! A practical wombat (that's Digger), oracular slug, talking statue, Shadowchild, Ed.  Just some of the marvelous characters you'll meet here. 

(20) Terry Pratchett, Hogfather. Because I always read this book in December. It's traditional. Just checked my list and this is my only Pratchett book for the year. That is very untraditional!

Twenty books in a year is not much, but it's better than I did in 2012, when I read only fifteen. And I didn't read any from September through November because I was writing and cruising. 

It was a year for series: two short story collections by LeGuin, three books in Kowal's Glamourist Histories, the three books of Elliott's Spiritwalker Trilogy, and three of the four books in McIntyre's Starfarer's Quartet. 

I read books by seven authors new to me: Jared Diamond, Skyler White, Steven Brust, Mary Robinette Kowal, Madeline Robins, Kate Elliott, and Amy Thomson. That's a good thing. 

I still have many books in my To Be Read pile, including more authors new to me. It's going to be fun. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Winter in the Midwest

It's cold here and will be getting colder. Yes, I know it's worse in Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas, but this is where I am.

Currently it's 14 (-10), the wind's blowing at 21 mph. Wind chill is about -4 (-20). We have more than a foot of snow on the ground, judging from the snow 'hats' on the bushes.

That's the view from my open garage door, looking toward the main entrance to our building. The snow wasn't plowed today, but you can see the mound on the left there from previous plowings.