The concept of honor comes up frequently in the Cat Among Dragon books, because the Azdhagi culture is a modified shame culture. Rada, through watching Col. Ingwe Adamski and a few others, practices a more internalized system of honor. This leads to some conflicts, including the one that caused her long facial scar. Today on Earth we are seeing a similar set of  conflicts, as the shame culture of the Middle East and Asia crashes against the internalized honor/guilt culture of the West. Why are people willing to kill over a cartoon? Because of a form of honor, tied into religion. Continue reading


Snow Day

It snows in Texas.

Last Wednesday started grey, with low, darker clouds massing to the north and west, scudding past on a westerly wind aloft. At the surface, nothing but a soft east wind that managed to find any gap between collar and hat brim and dive in. The clouds stayed north, dropping rain and a little snow, wandering toward Oklahoma. The day stayed grey, and quiet. A waiting quiet. Then the rain began. Continue reading

Revolutions and Revolutions

When we talk about revolutions, we usually think of political revolutions – French, Russian, American, possibly English. Propaganda, warfare, rebellion, those all come to mind. Or perhaps some think of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, with the development of steam power leading to mass production leading to either the rise of modern living standards and prosperity, or the ills of sweat shops and Blake’s “dark satanic mills.” But before all these came another revolution. Continue reading

The Frontiers of Roam

Barring bad life rolls, I’ll be back on the Roman frontier this summer, poking around Norium and Raetia, with a brief stop in Germania Superior to change planes. By now I have traced much of that frontier, from Panonia to Norium, Raetia, along the Limes to Colonia Agripina and Gaul. I’ve been to Britania as well, but not as far as Hadrian’s Wall. I seem to spend a great deal of time, physical and mental, on the frontiers. They are fascinating places, you see. Continue reading

Language Meanders

My name is Alma and I’m a word nerd. You see, I grew up with bits of pieces of languages tossed around the house, in addition to English. I started learning Spanish in grade school, moved, and restarted Spanish and Latin in high school. But I’d already learned some liturgical Latin, and Yiddish, and bits of this and that, and started wondering where words came from, and how languages developed. And as I got older, I discovered that you are not supposed to do that any more. Because linguistics is no longer about etymology and other fascinating stuff. Continue reading

Books of Beauty

Two books hold down the end of my desk. One is a beautiful book, the other is a breathtaking volume about beautiful books. One is based on a copy of the Vulgate illuminated for Duke Federigo di Montefeltro (1422-1482) of Urbino in 1478, with the Latin text replaced by the King James version. The other describes some of the surviving works from King Matthias Corvinus’s library, now in the National Széchény Library in Budapest. They are pure luxuries. One followed me home from the Hungarian National Museum, the other jumped into my hands at the regional Barnes and Noble. You see, I am a sucker for beautiful books.

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Soo, I was looking through the fat “fashion” magazines in the library the other day, trying to imagine myself in the spring and summer styles. Er, don’t try that at home, kids, you might get hurt. As it was I put the glossy tome back on the shelf and resumed my hunt for the elusive old-n-rare history book that the computer swore was still on the shelf. (Found it three shelves down, one over.) I’m coming to the conclusion that my entire life is out of fashion, not just my closet. Continue reading

Peaks of Grace: Update and Link

Has been uploaded and should be live at your local e-tailer sometime between now and next Friday (ahem, Kobo).


Ever wonder how Elizabeth Von Sarmas came by her stubborn, tenacious streak? It runs in the family.  150 years after the Great Fires, the Sarma Valley remains outside of the rapidly expanding Kingdom of Frankonia. But can the deSarm family and their followers keep their independence when a desperate attempt to gain a male heir opens the door to Phillip the Magnificent? From within the valley’s sheltering walls, two women will match wits with Phillip and his agents in a battle for independence that may hinge on Godown’s Grace.



The Second Ideology War: an excerpt from The Cat At Bay

I originally wrote this story several years ago in response to, well, several things, including the 7/7 attacks in London. It is being revised and will be a chapter in The Cat at Bay. I’d hesitated about including it because it may skirt close to violating British laws about defamation of religion. I’ve changed my mind.

For those who are wondering, Magda von Hohen-Drachenburg died of complications of ovarian cancer and Joschka has remarried. Rada Ni Drako, aka Rachel Na Gael, has been tasked with acting as tour guide in London on a lovely summer day . . .

Whose War Now?

Adele von Hohen-Drachenburg smiled at her companions as they surveyed the stalls at the Portobello Road market. “Admit it, Rachel, you’re having fun. You can’t fool me,” the silver-haired Austrian woman twitted her companion as the young-looking brunette grumped. Colonel Rahoul Khan’s vivacious new wife, Panpit, giggled at Commander Rachel Na Gael’s mild discomfort.

“My Lady, you know very well how little I like being in crowds,” Rachel whined, “and why.”

“Well get over it! You should know better than to wager with both the Graf and Colonel Khan over football matches. Now come along. Panpit, where do you suggest we start?” Adele asked the London native in the trio.

“I like the vintage clothing stalls, Lady Adele. I’ve found some lovely old silks there that I use in my textile art,” Mrs. Khan suggested hesitantly, still a bit overawed at the prospect of a shopping visit with the Gräfin von Hohen-Drachenburg.

“Then lead the way, Panpit! And both of you stop using my title, please. I’ve been ‘Adele’ much longer than I’ve been the Gräfin,” the cheerful noblewoman ordered, chivvying her companions towards the rows of stalls. Continue reading

When the Chinook Blows

On Saturday January 3 I woke up to find 6″ of global warming snow all over. An hour of hand labor or so later, it was no longer on the paved bits of my majestic domain. [Quit laughing, you in the back. I’m a fiction writer, remember?]  The wind had not started yet, thanks be, but off-and-on flurries continued most of the day. Come Sunday the temperature had dropped as the low pressure system sucked arctic air down the plains. The low gray clouds of the previous day disappeared, and took any remaining heat with them. It was a beautiful full moon on the snow, and colder than a well-digger’s hip pocket out in the dark and wind. And then the chinook arrived. Continue reading