An Irish Ditty

The first part of the Europe trip I was either jet-lagged and/or sick, a state that I think came through all too well in my post about London (Walking in my Protagonist’s Shoes).h3025B033The second part of the trip I wasn’t in such bad shape. I was on the upside of the cold and, although I was heading into a sinus infection, I was a bit more coherent. That part of the trip we spent in Dublin. What’s not to like about Dublin? You go out sightseeing around town and it goes pretty much like this. Sing with me if you know it!


A church and a pub and a church and a church and a pub and a pub and a pub.

That’s not really an Irish Ditty, but it should be. (Oddly, some pubs got blurrier as the day went on.)

Christ Church Cathedral


St. Audoen's Church

St. Patrick's Cathedral




Proper Irish breakfast for the next morning.

Irish Breakfast.

I don’t have any stories set in Ireland yet, but there was plenty of inspiration to be found, including some fantastic old castles and ruins.

Trim Castle

Malahide Castle

Monastic Settlement at Glendalough

One of my favorite stops was the Trinity Library because…

Trinity Library

Books! Lots of books with lots of history woven into their dusty old pages. The best was the Book of Kells and its companions (of which I was not allowed to take pictures). This book is amazing both for the art and labor that went into its creation and for the efforts that went into keeping it safe (also, there is a great little animated movie that the book features in called The Secret of the Kells).

[youtube] We also made it out to Knowth and Newgrange, two of the largest of many burial mounds originally constructed around 3200BC and around which there is still much mystery. Getting to walk inside Newgrange was truly an opportunity to walk into history (yeah, that sounds corny, but it’s so very true).

Knowth site

Passage into large mound at Knowth


Newgrange entrance

As I was looking at these magnificent structures, a new story idea came into my head of… Oh, sorry, no spoilers. ;-)

Double Rainbow!!!

To wrap up, I wanted to share a little clip of live music from one of the pubs in Dublin because you always wrap up at a pub.


For a little more travel fun, you can visit these writer blogs answering the question: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Walking in my Protagonist's Shoes

Big Ben's Tower

As promised, I am posting some of my trip to London where my novel The Girl and the Clockwork Cat takes place. Since the setting for the novel is alternate history (steampunk Victorian London) modified for the purposes of the story many things don’t look the same as they did in my protagonist’s time and some things never looked the way they do in the novel. Still, getting a chance to walk down many of the same streets and see some of the places my protagonist would have seen was a magical experience. In spite of being jet-lagged and sick, I don't think we ever stopped walking.

Jet-lagged and sick in the Tower of London.Pretending there isn't a creepy old operating table behind me.

Walking the streets my protagonist walked in the novel also had the comforting effect of proving that none of the distances she covered were unreasonable. Since she makes her dubious living as a pickpocket, she doesn't have the means to pay for transportation much of the time. I did considerable research on the distances, but on paper, things don’t always work the same as they do in reality.

Fleet StreetStreet viewAnd more

Much of London’s history butts right up against the modern city, as you’ll see in many photos. In spite of this, you can still get a great feel for what the city looked like in Victorian times.

Tower of London across the water.A pocket of history.

Old house 1Old house 2

ParliamentTower of London

And, because I write science fiction and fantasy, I felt it only appropriate to pay homage to Douglas Adams while I was in the area.

Douglas Adams - Writer

Happy adventuring!

Writing Compromised and the Liebster Award


Ever have that experience where you’re editing a manuscript and you come across a section that’s horribly written compared to the rest. After some thought you recall that you wrote that section when you were sick with a bad cold, sinus infection, flu or whatever. You make a vow to yourself as you slog through trying to fix it that you will never ever again let yourself write while sick. Only you know, deep down inside, that when that time comes you’ll try not to work and big guilt-wielding fists inside your mind will beat you up over the work that isn’t getting done until you give in and start writing.


I’m at that point now, that sick point. In a valiant effort to mitigate damage, however, I am letting those guilt-wielding fists win in the form of a blog post because I have an easy one in the queue thanks to the fantastic Briana Vedsted who recently nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award. Thanks Briana!

The Rules

  1. Accept the award, post the picture of the Liebster Award on the top of post, say who nominated you for the award, and list their blog site (see above).
  2. List 11 random facts about me.
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers for the Liebster Award and list their blog sites.
  4. Notify the bloggers of their award.
  5. Ask the award winners 11 questions to answer when they accept their Liebster Award.
  6. Answer the questions left for me by the blogger who gave me the award.

11 Random Facts about Me

  1. I love stacking things to the point that if you put a board game in front of me I would almost rather make sculptures out of the dice and game pieces than actually play the game.
  2. I love playing board games (Arkham Horror or Dominion anyone?), almost as much as I love stacking the pieces.
  3. I also love video games. Single player RPGs mostly, though I can be talked into a good adventure game now and then.
  4. I don’t drink beer, but I have discovered a soft spot for good cider.
  5. I’m afraid of heights unless I’m in a cave.
  6. I love history, especially in the form of historical structures and artifacts. The true stories behind such things give me a world of ideas.
  7. I love to prompt conversation then sit back and listen (unless someone asks me about my writing, then I never shut up).
  8. My favorite instrument is the violin.
  9. I’m addicted to Burt’s Bees lip balm. Seriously. There are 2 by my bed, one in my truck, one in my purse, one on my desk, one by where I sit in the living room, one in my kayak emergency kit,  and a few in a drawer in the kitchen in case I run out.
  10. I’m addicted to Science Fiction television to the point of throwing a Firefly screening party and loosing considerable sleep over the occasional Doctor Who marathon.
  11. I don’t sing in the shower, but I do sing in my truck (all the time).

My traveling stereo.

My Questions from Briana

  1. What is your favorite movie? The Fifth Element maybe, or Howl’s Moving Castle, or How to Train Your Dragon. Too many great movies to choose from really.
  2. What is your favorite book? Again, too many to choose from, but I think the Last Herald Mage trilogy would be one of the top picks (yeah, I cheated and picked a trilogy).
  3. Do you like sunset or sunrise better? Sunrise. It marks the start of a new day with tons of potential.
  4. Are you a cat person, or a dog person? Cats. Nothing against dogs, but I am very much a cat person.
  5. Have you ever eaten any wild game? Yes. It has happened.
  6. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? I would be in less pain all the time I suppose (too many injuries).
  7. Do you have someone in your life that is your best friend? Who is it? I’m fortunate to have many people in my life who I would call my best friends for varying reasons. I think different people play different roles in our lives so calling only one person a best friend is really rather misleading in a way. If I had to pick, I imagine my husband and my mom would top the list.
  8. Where would you like to go on vacation? Just got back from London (where I finally got to see in person many of the places I wrote about in The Girl and The Clockwork Cat and get ideas for use in books two and three) and Dublin (where I got to see places that may show up in future books). I would like to go to Japan or Malta next.
  9. Are you happy or sad when it rains? Depends on the day. Rain can be fun or depressing or indifferent depending on my mood that day.
  10. What is your favorite food? Popcorn. That’s a dietary staple, right?
  11. Do you have a hobby? What is it? I have many hobbies including kayaking, horseback riding, caving, dancing, iaido, and so on. Too many perhaps.

A sea of popcorn.

My Nominees

My Questions to those Nominees

  1. What’s one odd quirk or habit you have?
  2. Do you have any collections and what are they?
  3. When you get free time alone, how do you like to spend it?
  4. What’s your favorite season and why?
  5. What’s your favorite instrument?
  6. Do you prefer drama or comedy and what appeals to you about that preference?
  7. Beer or wine (or something else entirely)?
  8. What makes a party good?
  9. What do you typically do on vacation?
  10. Are you a morning person or an evening person?
  11. My cat wants to know if you prefer sparkly toys or feather toys and why?


Next week I'll take you with me (virtually of course) on my adventure traveling through many of the areas of London that played prominent roles in my novel The Girl and the Clockwork Cat complete with many photos.

Happy living!

Wonderstruck Guest Post

Between my books and several articles I'm working on for an upcoming publication, I haven't had time to blog much, but today I get a free pass thanks to a guest post I did for the wonderful S. M. Hutchins at her blog Live Wonderstruck.

Each Wednesday is Wonderstruck Interview day. Hearing other people’s stories is a great way to see things from a different perspective and perhaps find something new to apply to our own lives.

Today’s interviewee is writer Nikki McCormack.

You can see my Wonderstruck Interview here.

Happy Wednesday all!


Book Review: Sex and Death in the American Novel by Sarah Martinez

SandDWhile I try to read a lot, I rarely review novels. I don't have the time, what with trying to find time to write and edit my own. I especially try not to commit to reviewing a novel when I've met and liked the author because there is always that chance that I just won't like it. I can say with complete honesty and relief that it is truly a pleasure when a book delights me enough that I can feel good about breaking that rule. Sex and Death in the American Novel by Sarah Martinez isn't my typical fare. I'm a fantasy and science fiction geek. Reading something in literary erotica was a bit of a dive off the deep end for me. I truly expected not to like it and I was very pleasantly proven wrong.

The protagonist in the novel, Vivianna, is a woman who, on the outside, seems to know who she is. She's an erotic fiction author. Her relationship with her mother and brother are convoluted, tense, loving, and relatively typical of many family relationships on the surface, with a clear bit of unsettle history around her deceased, Pulitzer Prize winning father. Viv has some good friends, a successful career, and she's confident about her body and her sexuality in ways that most of us can admire.

On a high level, the story is a romantic, sensual and erotic tale that never slips into the common pitfall of becoming crass and vulgar, but on a deeper level, this is the story of a woman who lives her life crushed in the shadow of a father who, while dead, still rules over her and her family. It's a moving and beautiful tale of one woman's struggle to overcome the destructive need to prove herself to a man who is long gone and the devastating effect that same need has wrought upon her mother and brother. This is her journey to discover that, only by accepting and loving yourself for who you are, can you truly come to accept and love the people around you.

At least that is what this tale was for me. Your mileage may vary. Regardless, Sex and Death in the American Novel is a novel I strongly recommend.

Happy reading!

One New Thing: January 2013 - Fire and Melty Things

It’s getting hot in here so… ah, nevermind. Today I want to share a fun new experience I had in January. A good friend invited me to join her for a glass blowing class at Seattle Glassblowing Studio. This was something I’d never done before and as someone who believes strongly in experiencing as much as I can, both for my writing and for my own personal growth, I was happy to accept.

Before I get too far into that, however, I want to talk a little about the surprisingly pleasant experience I had on the Seattle buses. I don’t ride the buses much (perhaps six times in 12 years) and I prefer not to drive around them. As a result, I’m a bit clueless when it comes to bus fares and I failed to consider this before stepping onto the bus with my friend who has a bus pass and therefore doesn’t have to worry about rates. As I stood in the front of the bus and dug through my purse in search of the $2.50 fare the driver gave me a pitying look and asked if I’d ridden the bus before. I gave him my sheepish smile…


and told him I rarely had a need to. He smiled and told me it was my lucky day, I should put my money away and buy myself a coffee later, which was very sweet, although I don’t drink coffee.

At the end of the day, when we got on a bus to leave, I put $3.00 in because I didn’t have any change, but I figured I was still ahead. Although, I told him not to worry about it, the driver hunted down a quarter and sent it back to me with another passenger after I’d taken a seat. Not such bad people, as long as you’re on the bus and not trying to share the road with it.


Anyway, on to the glass shop and glassblowing pictures.

Inside Seattle Glassblowing Studio.

Looking back into the workroom.

Our teacher, Travis.

Gathering glass. Very hot. Nice on a cold day.

Adding color.

Twisting the glass to swirl the color.

Blowing the glass.

Pressing to push down the bottom of the bowl.

Reheating the glass (this was done often throughout the process).

Sucking to create the inside of the bowl.

Breaking it off the stick so it can be gradually cooled in the ovens.

The finished bowl.

In use.

What similar adventures or experiences have you had that you would recommend to others?

Happy adventuring!

One New Thing: September 2012 – Blades and Dark Places

I sprint in after putting yet another coat of paint on the soon-to-be steampunk Nerf guns, my thoughts racing with all the things I need to get done before the Halloween party tomorrow. Setting up the final playlist is a critical item I can knock off the list easily enough (I believe this will be version 4.0). I rush up the stairs to my office to complete the task, sit down at the computer, and think, "It's been a while since I posted on my blog." - If I had a dollar for everytime I got distracted, I wish I had some ice cream.

For September, I finally did something that I’ve wanted to do for a while now. I attended my first Iaido seminar, the PNKF (Pacific Northwest Kendo Federation) 2012 Iaido Seminar & Tournament.

This was an amazing experience. This particular seminar was special in that there were a number of visiting instructors from Japan there to teach the sessions. I learned so much from these instructors and, as a fun bonus, got to work on my Japanese language skills as well since they were all using translators. I was even talked into participating in the team portion of the tournament on the second day. At the end of the weekend I was worn out and my head was spinning with new information. Time extremely well spent.

Since I don’t have any photos of this (beyond the lovely group photo above) I also thought I would share some pictures from our September caving trip. This wasn’t something new, but it's been a long time since I went on a good caving trip and we took someone along who was new to caving, so it’s close enough.

Now back to the playlist and the painting.

Happy adventuring!

Revisiting Talking with Spiders: The House Rules

Tis the season to be creepy and crawly so I thought it might be fun to re-post this. Happy October! See more on Know Your Meme

Arachnophobes beware. Here be spiders.

As the weather warms up and I see more and more of you eight-legged critters roaming the property, I am inclined to share the house rules with you here (although fully aware that you may not follow my blog even though you should). These rules are roughly broken up by spider type.

Jumping Spiders:

I’m sorry, but you are stinking cute as hell. Look at you with your fuzz and your oversized front legs. You look like tiny little body-builders and you have an attitude to boot. You may live wherever you please. However, if you live in the house, there are a few places off limits. Primarily, in my bed, on my bed, or above my bed. If I find you in one of these locations, I will relocate you to another place in the house or outside depending on the severity of the infraction, my mood, and the weather. (Apparently showing up on someone’s face is also not an acceptable location.)

Crab Spiders:

Again, it's about attitude. You are a small spider with enough chutzpah to face me, brandishing those long forelegs at me in defense of your chosen rhododendron leaf as if you could somehow hope to take me down. Bravo. You are fierce little creatures. How could I not like you? That said, you look best outside in the gardens and, if found in the house, will be relocated to the nearest suitable bush.

Comb-footed or Cobweb Spiders:

I don’t want to see you. I grew up in Southern Oregon where the Black Widow is common. You are shaped like the Black Widow and, even though you are not poisonous and are often of a different color, you remind me of them. One of them bit my mom when I was younger so it's personal. I will probably ignore you outside. Inside, I might relocate you outside if I am in a particularly good mood, but you might also find yourself swirling down the whirlpool of death in the toilet. Best if you stay outside.

Funnel-Web and Wolf Spiders (and most other spiders not mentioned separately):

If you choose to enter the house, you either will meet the whirlpool of death or be thrown outside. What I do with you is dependent on many factors.

1. How aggressive you are. I will match your aggression. I am not willing to be bitten by you. You have been warned.

2. Where you show up. If you drop in from above, show up on my towel as I’m trying to dry off after a shower, or appear on the couch/bed, likely you won’t live to reach the whirlpool of death.

3. Your willingness to be captured in a cup. I will do this for you as a kindness to move you outside, but if you run from me, my generosity will wane and the whirlpool of death will start calling me.

If you are really huge and living in my barn, I will ignore you so long as you don’t come within range and act aggressive. If you are living on the ceiling of my barn, I will probably stare at you nervously as I clean the stalls, but you are out of reach. I advise you to stay there or, better yet, move to someone else’s barn.

Any Spider or Arachnid Referred to as Daddy Long-Legs (including Harvestmen):

You creep me out. Why? Because you look like little walking eight-legged skeletons. The walking dead of the spider world. Harmless though you may be, I beseech you, don’t come into the house. Just looking at you gives me the shivers. The whirlpool of death hungers for your undead flesh. Stay away.

Final Warning:

Be aware that there are cats in this house. They haven’t shown any distinct proclivity for arachnid flesh, but they are drawn to things that move about in tantalizing ways. You move in tantalizing ways. Their rules trump mine.

Happy crawling!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

fall reflection

Fall arrives at the Japanese Garden in Washington Park Arboretum - photo by Dave Nakayama.

Here it is. My favorite month of the year. I feel it's only right to post a quick blog in honor of its arrival. The leaves are changing, the weather is cooling, but the rain hasn't started yet, and there are as many opportunities to dress up and have fun as you're willing to take advantage of. Halloween is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday. It's a holiday that encourages creativity and imagination with far less of the familial angst and obligation that comes with some other holidays.

Every year I line up more and more opportunities to dress up and have a blast. Just for fun, here are some photos from the last three years.

There's also a ton of fun music to entertain you through this lovely holiday. For example:


Do you celebrate Halloween? What is your favorite month or holiday of the year?

Happy October!

One New Thing: August 2012 – In the Limelight

Here it is, almost the end of September and I’m just getting to my one new thing for August. There have been books to edit and write (and read), swords to swing, dances to learn, parties to plan, friends to hang out with, and far too little time for all of it. In the face of it all, the blog has been chugging along slower than usual. What I wouldn’t give for a clone (as long as it didn’t lead to twice as many story ideas).

Outside of my work, August was dedicated in many ways to the old new things. The perpetuation of prior adventures, the nurturing of continuing friendships, and the never-ending pursuit of learning.

In spite of the rather overwhelming task of keeping up with life, there was opportunity to do something completely new and slightly out of my comfort zone (which is a good thing to push occasionally).

Michael and I were talked, rather easily I might add, into performing a dance for the Arthur Murray Summer Showcase (Michael being that darling gent theatrically rolling his eyes on my left and our instructor being the lovely enthusiastic lady on my right).

Sadly, I haven’t gotten my hands on a recording of our performance, but it was a Foxtrot routine performed to the song He’s a Tramp by Peggy Lee (we didn't use this version from Lady and the Tramp, but it's one of my personal favorite movies).


I’m not that comfortable in front of a crowd and dancing is still a relatively new activity, so this experience, stepping out in front of all of these people and performing, was a bit nerve-wracking and yet refreshing in an odd way. I like to push my boundaries toward becoming a stronger, more confident person, and this was a great way to do that. I didn’t pass out on the dance floor or die from the pressure of so many eyes looking my way. Awesome!

Now we’ve signed up to do a tango routine at Arthur Murray’s Masquerade ball in October. We’ll be dancing to The Lunatics Have Taken over the Asylum by Collide. Dancing in costume during my favorite month of the year. Oh, yes. This will be fun!


Happy adventuring!