No Smoking, Or Else!

This spot was not beside the road when I went to work. It was most certainly there as I left.


Thanks be that the winds were calm. Two days before, a grass fire south of a public high school almost got really, really interesting thanks to 25 MPH winds gusting to 35. We could see the smoke from Barnes and Noble, and even from Redquarters. Continue reading

Darkness Inside

This is the time of year I go back to Susan Cooper’s series The Dark is Rising, especially the second and fourth books (The Dark is Rising and The Grey King.) Greenwich is also scary, but in different ways, and I prefer Will’s adventures on his own to those with the other children.

But something about this time of year also makes me look inside. As you can guess from some scenes in my books, especially the Cat series, I have a dark streak inside me. Not only a tendency toward depression and despair, but I have a tiger inside as well. He is not a nice monster.

I learned early on that I have to keep a hold on myself, especially when the baser passions are stirred, because what lurks inside me is vengeful, cruel, and would love to lash out. I once spent an hour walking around and around until I was absolutely certain I could stay in control of that side of me. Continue reading

Turkey-Frame Soup

Because some people just can’t use the word “carcass,” apparently, one of my cookbooks has a recipe for “Turkey Frame Soup.”  You know, what is left after you carve said bird. There’s usually still meat on the bones, but unless you want to gnaw on them, it’s not worth futzing around with. Enter one large soup pot and a really good strainer. I strain out everything that will strain and keep the results as broth.

I also won serious brownie points for pre-carving the bird and taking the sorted meat, on platters, to the parties and gatherings. What other people don’t know…

Continue reading

Saturday Story: Reaping the Harvest Part Nine

Chapter 9: Five Years of Rule


“ . . . but I do not know how much to take seriously, my lady,” Lord Andre Boris Pushkin admitted.

Kiara, now called Empress Klara Alsice, fanned herself and considered the reports. “No less than a quarter, I would suspect. Your observers found no signs of actual Harrier or Turklavi warriors in the area?”

He wagged one hand, the emerald on his ring flashing in the bit of sun that penetrated the vines growing over the little pavilion in the garden. “General Pushkin says none, but General Maldovo’s scouts reported a few signs, all of them old. If the Harriers had been in the southern area near Sweet City, they seem to have left before the spring rains began.”

We’re probably hearing old stories. Yes, people saw someone, but a long while ago and kept quiet, or had no one to tell the news to. So there is no need for change in the military presence. However, that other bit of rumor . . .

“Go back. That bit about the service-slaves demanding release from their contracts. How serious is that? How many cases, and where?” Continue reading

Walking in Darkness

This is my time of year. I love going out after sundown and walking the neighborhood, or driving a few minutes to an older, historic neighborhood and walking back and forth, up and down the blocks, looking at lights and enjoying the dark spots. Times like Tuesday night, when the wind has settled and the air feels chilly but not bitter. I set a pace and go, walking and walking, covering miles without noticing. Continue reading

Put Castle Here

When you do something regularly for a while, or when your final exam grade depends on learning how to see and evaluate certain terrain and aquatic features, you develop a bit of skill. If your survival depends on reading the landscape properly, the learning curve is a lot steeper. And if you are exposed to something, even though you are not trying to learn how to read the land, after a while you start doing it. I can’t not evaluate a stream as I walk past it. And I can’t go through rolling or mountainous countryside without mentally adding strong points, choke-points, and castles. Continue reading

Just in Time for Christmas…

It’s alive!

The story, not the nutcracker. Or is it?

Rada Ni Drako won an auction lot of nutcracker-replicas. Now she’s trying to unload them at a winter fair on Opnarr. One sale in particular leads to a confrontation with a mob of angry reptiles over a starving child and a nutcracker that might have a secret…