connectingexercise_bvc “Connection” is a big word in the horse-training world. Everybody gets a piece of it. The trendy “natural” trainers use it in the context of “joining up,” which basically means the horse does what the human wants. The psychologically minded talk about it in the emotional or spiritual sense. Dressage trainers usually mean a physical connection–rider’s hand or horse’s mouth to bit, horse’s back end to his front, and so on in infinite variety.

The icon here is a “connection” exercise in hand (person on ground in control) while rider sits quietly, this being the first time the horse has carried one. She’s working hard to keep her back end working in collaboration with her front, and to balance the brand-new weight in the middle, while following the ground person’s guidance. She has a lot to keep track of. Continue reading

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Story Excerpt Sunday: From Dancing With Cupid by Jennifer Stevenson

Dancing With CupidDancing With Cupid

Slacker Demons Book Three

by Jennifer Stevenson

I called the Lair on my break. Baz answered, my only roommate who’s been a sex demon longer than me. I told him about the new partner.

“Another feminist? Get her stats for the monthly report. We get paid extra for seducing those.”

“This will be snaps, yaiss,” I lilted, remembering my fresh-off-boat act and her superior smile when we were introduced.

“‘Snaps?’” Baz said incredulously.

I laid on the FOB accent. “I am loving these new jobs for certainty. Real success story. Head of firm one day, see if I am not right.”

I could picture Baz’s eyeroll. “Pick up somebody fun for a change.” Continue reading

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Influential Fantasy for Heroines

victorian illo

Okay, so I’m old, and have been reading a long time. People sometimes ask, What fantasies were you reading before . . . [Harry Potter, before Hunger Games, before whatever-is-popular now]. This discussion sometimes evolves into influence, and popular tropes.

This is especially true when people ask what fantasies do I think have been influential for today’s readers? Sometimes that influence seems obvious–Terry Brooks had clearly read Lord of the Rings before he wrote Sword of Shanarra–but not always. I believe that literature is in constant conversation with itself, and that conversation changes as we age and a new generation of readers comes up.

As that literary conversation ricochets back and forth, it’s interesting to see what patterns become an accepted part of the framework of tales—and then change. For example, after JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings first became popular in the mid sixties, during the seventies, when fantasy was on its enormous rise, it seemed that every fantasy had to feature the good guys off a vaguely European map to the west, evil guys to the east, and ugly and evil orcs versus super-pretty (pointy-eared) elves. Terry Brooks leading the pack.

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The News From 2Dits Farm: Strawberry Season

strawberriesSunblock: check. Herbal mosquito repellent: check. Water bottle, hat, and sunglasses: check. Berry boxes: check. A car horn toots in the driveway to let me know that my friend has arrived to pick me up. “Bye, sweetie. Mind the house,” I tell Gracie on my way past the chair where is she is napping. She opens one eye, curls into an even tighter ball, and goes back to sleep.

Outside the day is clear and beginning to warm up. There was rain early yesterday, but it’s been dry and breezy since, so the picking conditions couldn’t be better. The strawberries will be plump and sweet from the rain, but their surfaces should be dry and less likely to mildew and rot in the refrigerator when I get them home.

My friend and I chit-chat on the way to the pick-your-own farm where we’ve been going for several years now. It’s a chance for us to catch up, get some gorgeous berries, and linger over breakfast afterward before we head home to begin processing our harvest.

For me, this expedition to pick strawberries marks the beginning of the summer harvest season. Other folks up here in Maine have already foraged for fiddleheads for fresh eating and for preserving, and many have harvested their rhubarb–I have some in the freezer right now, waiting to be combined with these berries in jam–but I think strawberries are probably many people’s first major canning crop of the year. Continue reading

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The Creative Revolution: Part 4 of The Business of Books

Everyone is familiar with the “Industrial Revolution.” In the past 500 years there have been five official “revolutions” that have changed the way people live.

(1600–1740) Financial-agricultural revolution
(1780–1840) Industrial revolution
(1880–1920) Technical revolution (or Second Industrial Revolution)
(1940–1970) Scientific-technical revolution
(1985–2000) Information and telecommunications revolution

We’re going to propose #6 and we are in the middle of it:

(2015-????) Creative revolution
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Sarah Jones Does Science Fiction

Sarah JonesI had the good fortune to see the incredible Sarah Jones give a workshop reading of her new one-woman show Sell/Buy/Date at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco last month.

I had wanted to see her in performance for years and she lived up to my expectations. Her gift for creating – and performing – a variety of characters from many walks of life is as good as rumored.

And to make this even more fun for me, her new show is science fiction. That is, she sets it in a future world in which a professor is playing recordings – ones that include emotional responses – of people affected in some way by sex work over several decades beginning in 2016. Continue reading

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Linda Nagata’s THE RED

In non-BVC news, member Linda Nagata has a book out from Saga Press/Simon & Schuster this week. The Red is a near-future military thriller, and is the first book of The Red Trilogy.

Originally titled The Red: First Light, Linda’s novel was initially published in 2013 by her company, Mythic Island Press LLC, with the ebook edition being sold through Book View Café’s ebook store. It became the first self-published novel to be nominated for a Nebula award, and was also nominated for the John W. Campbell Memorial award, and included on the Locus Recommended Reading List. This year, it’s on Publishers Weekly’s list of Best Summer Books 2015.

The Red was withdrawn from sale last year after rights to the series were purchased by Joe Monti, editor of Simon & Schuster’s new imprint, Saga Press. But it’s available again! Saga Press has released simultaneous hardcover, paperback, and ebook editions. Audible has released an audiobook edition narrated by Kevin T. Collins.

For more on The Red, and to read an excerpt, visit the author’s website at

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I Was a Middle Aged Barn Rat, Part 3, “Bareback Pad”


I Was a Middle Aged Barn Rat, Part 3, “Bareback Pad.” This is a ten part blog series about the year I decided to pursue my lifelong interest in horses, based on an article that appeared in Equus, March 2015.

One thing that makes me different from most barn rats is that I have a fat butt. At my age it’s not so uncommon, but most people who muck stalls and throw hay for fun are skinny teenagers, and most people just learning to ride can fit into whatever saddle is available in the barn. Not me.

Riding Pepper at first was a prospect for such embarrassment I could hardly think of attempting it. With my left leg as weak as it was, the idea of mounting from the ground made me shrink away in terror. Mounting from the right was unthinkable; I was loath to admit I was deficient even to mount properly. And the saddle didn’t fit me.
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curtsyI have just finished reading Emma Thompson’s screenplay of Sense and Sensibility (which is to say, the final shooting script–Thompson wrote dozens of versions of the screenplay before it was acquired and put into production) and her diary from the shoot*.  She is uniformly witty and down to earth (her comments about zits, hangovers, and feeling like a talentless hack are not only reassuring to the rest of the world–which is to say, to me–but are funny in their own right) and endlessly appreciative of her colleagues on camera and behind the scenes.  I wish I’d been a gofer on that film.

Reading the diary, in particular, reminded me of the extent to which the production of an historical film of good intent (meaning, one that wants to get it right) relies on experts: the horse wrangler who teaches Willoughby how to drive a curricle (the sportscar of its day); the costumers and designers; the dance teachers; and Jane Gibson, “movement duenna and expert on all manners historical,” who taught bearing and manners and the reverence.  By which I mean bowing and curtseying. Continue reading

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“Adders. Why did it have to be adders?” [or] Because Max Said So

This is the post I was going to write for Max Adams’ blog, but she wouldn’t let me because she said she doesn’t do snakes.

There is irony, here, people. Irony.

Burroughs-LaDesperadaFrontCoverYou see, a few years back before the turn of the century, I was doing a new draft of my western screenplay, “Redemption” [which was an adaptation of my first published novel, La Desperada]. Max was giving me notes on it, and I said, “Ha, ha, you know, I wrote this big long epic western, and the one thing I made sure I never put in it was snakes. Rattlesnakes. Oh my God, [this was before OMG, so I actually said the words] I would have nightmares if I wrote about rattlesnakes.”

And Max said in her very soft, very authoritarian voice, “Patricia, you have to write that scene with a rattlesnake.”

Wait. What?!?

And she made me write it. And now that I’ve mentioned it, I’ll go ahead and post it  so you can see how it turned out if you’re curious.

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