Monthly Archives: February 2015

Rest in Peace, Mr. Spock

For people of my age, we were introduced to science fiction by the Starship Enterprise that ungrammatically headed out to do strange things and meet stranger things in our wide universe. The arrogant James T. Kirk, played straight by William Shatner who didn’t show his comedy licks for years, befriended the half human-half Vulcan Mr. Spock, played by the man I mourn today, Leonard Nimoy, with panache and elegance. It was one of the unifying elements of my first year in college that we all knew these men, and wished they had stayed a little longer.

We were rewarded in later years by full-length movies that were alternately awful but campy, or funny, or inspiring. To see our Mr. Spock reborn on the Genesis planet after we saw him sacrifice himself for the good of the many in nuclear hell was to be reborn ourselves in the wonder of the universe. Leonard Nimoy wanted to leave behind this character who was forever part of our lexicon of youth, and we didn’t let him go. He showed up on Star Trek the Next Generation as well as the movies when we resisted his departure. The fact that he was supporting a rebellion on TNG was only in keeping with the growing image of him as a man for all seasons. Few actors could have kept the difficult job of being Mr. Spock going for more than a few seasons, let alone a lifetime.

And yes, we conflated Leonard Nimoy and the character he created onscreen. It was unfair to him, for which I apologize. But his continuing advocacy for a more scientifically literate society did not fall on deaf ears. Many young fans flocked to the hard sciences because of his work, and for that we should be thankful. We should also be thankful for the many hours of enjoyment he gave and continues to give as the inimitable Mr. Spock.

Live long and prosper.

Daily Prompt: A Plot of Land

You’re given a plot of land and have the financial resources to do what you please. What’s the plan?

Very simple. The Burlington Writers Workshop, of which I am a member, has a dream of growing up to host writers who need a retreat for periods of up to three months. In the best of all possible worlds, it would be in our own building, where we also would have space for multiple workshops at the same time.

There is a wonderful company called Deltec Homes, and they make wonderful circular houses that are environmentally sound and beautiful to behold. They would build a two story building with three bedrooms and baths on the second floor, as well as a study with space for three desks in some privacy from each other. These would be for our visiting writers.

The first floor would have a kitchen, a library with a large table and chairs that could be used for meetings, an office, a casual sitting area and another largish room also equipped for meetings. The kitchen would be for the use of members but also for any visiting writers. The office would be for the man who created by sheer force of will the BWW, Peter Biello.

Deltec can also connect a building to a garage or another building. There would be two connectors to one story houses, also circular. One would be for the manager of BWW, in this case Peter (and his lovely significant other, Jody, and their dog, Drake), and the other would be for me and my four cats. After all, I am the one receiving the land.

The great benefit of this new building would be our ability to hold more than one workshop at a time. There has been more than one occasion on which a workshop conflicts with the editorial board of either our annual The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop (the 2015 edition launches April 3, and I’m in it!), or the editorial board of our online journal (plug, plug) Mud Season Review. This building would allow such conflicts and any other we might wish to develop. It also gives us the possibility of offering one to three month retreats for authors needing a quiet away time to finish some work. The only thing we would ask in return for offering this fine facility is that they lead at least one workshop, perhaps a week, for the duration of their stay.

So whoever is offering the land, please arrange for it to be in the Burlington area, hopefully with a view of the lake. If not the lake, the mountains.

Daily Prompt: Tourist Trap

What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?

I would like to go to Dominus, the parallel earth that is the site of my WIP. It is much like our earth, having been born out of the side of earth ten thousand years ago after a battle between sorcerers and sorceresses. Gaia created it to send the losers away. But Dominus has conscious species that have joined into something we could never get here, a nonaggression and nonviolence pact among its five sentient species. Now that’s something to see.

I’d tell you more but that would give away too much. My designer for the interior of the book has me scheduled for between March 31 and April 15. Then a quick proofreading job and it’s off to publication. So that’s not too long to wait, is it?

I’ve been nominated twice for the Liebster Award

Liebster-award-2Yup, that’s right. And I don’t know the etiquette, so I’m going to commingle the requirements. I was nominated by Renee Scattergood and M.J. Moores. So thanks to both of you.

Now, apparently I have to answer 11 questions from each of these ladies, and I am supposed to disclose 11 facts about myself.

Renee’s questions:

Here  are my questions for you:

How many books (on average) do you read each year?
I’m not reading as much, now that I’m writing, but I probably read about 25.

What’s your zodiac sign?


What would you consider to be your greatest achievement in life?

I represented a 30 year old man who had been institutionalized since he was 14, and had never had a lawyer fight for him. I told him his case was triable, and we tried it. He got the only Not Guilty he had ever gotten, and his social worker cried with him as the verdict was read. I was proud that I could do this for him.

If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?

British Isles, to see friends on Jersey and the Isle of Man, and on the mainland, and to visit my ancestral bailiwick, Alsop-en-le-Dales.

What do you enjoy more, watching TV, watching movies or reading? Why?

Reading. There are many more worlds for me to find in books, and they excite my imagination in a way that performers never can. Books are my friends.

Have you ever won anything? If so, what was it and how did you win it?

I once won $400 at the lottery. It was far less than I ever spent playing the darn thing. I no longer bet.

What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?

I was rear-ended twice, ten years apart, by two different men, both of whom hit me going in excess of 30 mph while I was legally stopped in traffic.

Would you want to be famous? Why or why not?

Yes and no. I value my privacy very much, and don’t want to lose it. But I would love people to know my name as the writer of good fantasy novels. It’s a double-edged sword.

Have you ever read a book that once you were done you had to read it again right away? What was it? What made it so great for you that you had to read it a second (third, fourth…) time?

When I got the last Harry Potter book, I was home by 1:30 am, and had finished the book by 7 am. I slept about four hours and then read it again. I read it the first time to find out what happened, I read it for the second time to find out why.

What is your favorite beverage?


Do you prefer hot or cold weather? Why?

You shouldn’t ask this when our temperatures have been so far below normal this year. I’ll say hot. But if you ask me in the summer I’ll say 55 degrees is about right.

M.J.’s questions:

Who or what inspires you as a writer and as a human being?

As a writer, I have been inspired by Jane Austen, Patricia McKillip, and Charles de Lint. As a human being I have been inspired by Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the current Dalai Lama.

What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?

The cats want their breakfast!

If you could change one thing in your past, what would it be and why?

I would not have married right out of college. I was too young to understand what I was getting myself into, and I didn’t marry a person who was transparent or particularly honest.

If you were a superhero, what would be your power(s) and why?

I wouldn’t be one. I like to think that I have been a regular hero in my life for some people, as people have been heroes to me. We don’t need special powers to be heroes, we need compassion, empathy and a giving nature.

What’s a moment in your past you are now able to laugh at but couldn’t at the time?

No comment.

If you could live anywhere on Earth, where would you choose and why?

Where I am, Burlington, Vermont. Because it is home.

What’s your biggest worry right now?

That people won’t like my books.

What is your best physical attribute?

I have long white hair.

What is your best characteristic?


What is your worst characteristic?


Do you remember your dreams? How does that affect you (or not)?

I have vague recollections only, like a sense of deja vu, and sometimes I clearly have related dreams a few nights in a row, and then I can almost remember them.

So, now I have to give 11 facts about myself.

I was 5’9″ when I graduated from high school.

I was 5’10” when I graduated from college.

I was 5’11” when I graduated from law school.

I was measured at 6′ when I was 30, but am only 5’11” now.

I run around the Burlington Writers Workshop in slippers I knitted myself, either my psychedelic Mary Janes or my sock monkey slippers.

I am mentor to an eight year old girl in a reading program at my local elementary school.

I have four cats, all under the age of 3.

I am allergic to penicillin.

I broke my arm a year ago slipping on ice that my landlord did not remove from the mailbox area.

I write Double Dactyl poems, and am over halfway to having enough to publish a volume of them.

Four of my poems will be published in the 2015 Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop which will be launched on April 3.

Okay, now I’m supposed to nominate 11 bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.

Here’s the deal. I only know a few, and I’m not likely to put any of them through this. Not even for an award. The buck stops here. A friend whose blog is Alfred’s Almanac started a new award this past year called the No Strings Attached Award. That’s the kind of award I like. Unfortunately, he has more than 200 followers so I can’t give him this award anyway. But there are too many strings attached to this award, and the paucity of candidates for the award is shown by the similarity in the lists of the two women who nominated me. I am not alone in being nominated twice. For all I know, I’ll wake up tomorrow with more nominations. It has got to stop.

So thank you, Renee and M.J., for the nominations. Here are my answers to your questions, and 11 silly facts about me (even if I fudged the numerous height ones).

Cold and Snow

This is Vermont. It is still winter. But honestly! The windchill tomorrow is projected to be -25 degrees at least through lunch. There is a windchill advisory that starts at midnight and runs through noon. Earlier today, when it was warmer (over 20!), we had a snow squall that went through with those big flakes that stick to your clothes and are big enough to blur your vision if one gets stuck on an eyelash. It was lovely for about half an hour, and then I noticed a change, The rate of snow did not change but the flakes slowly got smaller. Those of you in the north country know what that means. The temperature was falling.

It is now 9 degrees and has fallen 7 degrees in the last hour. They say our high tomorrow will be between -5 and 5. Our low tonight will be down to -12. These are temperatures we usually see in January. We are days from 5 weeks to the Equinox. Things have got to change. But we are told this weather pattern will continue through next week. I’ve had enough, but there’s nothing I can do about it. In four weeks, I will go on a writer’s retreat in south central Vermont. I have dreamed that there would be hints of spring by then. But the way this weather is going, we’ll still be in deepest winter by then.

But it’s only time, and by then, who knows? Maybe my book will finally be ready to go into production. Stranger things have happened.

Can We Trust Harper Lee’s New Watchman? (Can She?)

Harper Lee is incommunicado except through her lawyer. There’s something fishy in this case.

The Misfortune Of Knowing

Go Set a WatchmanAgainst the advice of my lawyer, I’m going to talk about Harper Lee’s new novel, Go Set a Watchman, which HarperCollins plans to release in July 2015 amid controversy, a word that may as well be synonymous with “Harper Lee” these days.

By “my lawyer,” I mean my husband, whose practice includes defamation cases. He was joking when he told me to avoid discussing Harper Lee. He thinks I’ve discussed her enough already on this blog. 😉

Joking aside, virtually everything we know about Lee comes from her lawyers or from the lawsuits she’s filed. In 2013, she sued her former agent, Samuel L. Pinkus, for breach of fiduciary duty (among other claims), which I wrote about inWhen Our Literary Heroes Become Victims.

Later that same year, Lee filed a questionable trademark application and then sued her hometown museum over unauthorized merchandise bearing the title of her book…

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Alert! Change of Plans

My editor contacted me yesterday to tell me that she thinks the material in my book should be spread over more than one book, to wit, three and possibly four. Who knew i was writing a series? In fact, as written it is four interconnected stories, none of which I thought warranted a full book by itself. Apparently I am too terse, and maybe a little inconsistent. I make leaps and  bounds in my imagination and don’t apparently give the reader enough info to get to the same place I land. So this may be grueling, or it may turn out to be relatively painless. As a pantser, I may only have to have my nose pointed in the right (or write?) direction and my characters will lead the way.

What this means is that I may have as many as four books published in my first year of publication. And I’ll let you in on a secret. If the first book is really three or four, then I’ve clearly got number five already started with the first 50,000 words of what I thought was the sequel to the first book. And I know the first part of the sequel will morph into a full book if my editor has anything to say about it.

Now the only scary thing is, does anybody care? Does anybody want to read my book(s)? Time alone will tell, gentle reader. I hope you will come along for the ride.