The Importance of Being Ernest: A Very Short Review

by Brenda W. Clough

Ernest For those of you who have just tuned in, I went to Britain and came back. While I was there I wedged in as much theater as I possibly could. Clearly reviews must be written!

We went to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square the first day we arrived and picked up half-price tickets for The Importance of Being Ernest on impulse. It was that or The Pajama Game, and my husband is easily overdosed with musicals. This production is an oddity — a play within a play, the central one being the Oscar Wilde drama you are thinking about when you read the title. The bookending drama is a simple one, an ageing company of players restaging the classic.

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Flash Memoir: ‘Spinster’

Flashes of IlluminationNote: I’m off hiking at Point Reyes National Seashore this week, so I’ve posted one of the stories from my flash fiction collection, Flashes of Illumination. This is what I call flash memoir: a type of creative nonfiction built on things that happened to the author. I’m working on more of these.

I wrote this story ten years ago. I’m still not married, but I am in a serious relationship these days.

Spinster

by Nancy Jane Moore

I got my first cat when I was 19. My grandmother said, “Oh, dear, you’re going to be an Old Maid.”

I’ve had cats ever since. But I never did find a husband. Continue reading


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WWW Wednesday – Aug 27, 2014

WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.

My reading of late has been sporadic, fitted around beta reading and proofing.

• What are you currently reading?

After Elizabeth, by Leanda de Lisle. Basic, eminently readable history about James I of England, when the Stuarts came to the English throne. There’s so much out there about Elizabeth Tudor, and about Charles I and the Protectorate, but not all that much about James, who is a complicated figure, to say the least.

Sorcerer’s Feud, by Katharine Kerr.  This is the sequel to Sorcerer’s Luck, in which art student Maya Cantescu, who is a vampire in a way totally unlike the standard vamp, meets up with rune master Tor Thorlaksson.

Sparks fly, leading to romance, danger, magic, in a nifty mix of romantic suspense with plenty of supernatural pizazz. I have been looking forward to the sequel, which I’ve just begun.

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What’s in a Word: Emotional Atmosphere
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layout_writer_chichester_05Like all writers, I have a special relationship with words. In my case, I love them. I am fascinated by the way they work (or fail to work), the myriad ways in which they can be misunderstood, misused, even abused by people who don’t know any better or who should know better or who abuse words with malice aforethought.

I know some writers who have a love/hate relationship with words, who claim they hate using them but love having used them. I don’t get that at all, so I’ll leave it to someone else to blog about that. This blog is about the use of words to create emotional atmosphere.

As a writer of fiction, I rise or fall on how well I can use words to create an atmosphere in which my characters live and move and in which my readers exist with them during the length of a story. Words are symbols. They are signposts. They are colors. They tell the reader how to view a place, a person, a thing.

There are two parties to this, of course, the writer has to know how to use the words, but the reader has to know how to read them. This requires a shared knowledge base or shared experience or, at minimum, a shared definition and/or connotation for the words.

I’ve experienced the disconnect of using words of which a reader has no experience. Recently, I used the word “chops” to have one character describe another’s skill with something. My editor asked what the word meant. In my particular milieu, it’s usually used to describe a guitarist’s skill with his instrument, but I’ve heard it used to describe any skill, including my own ability to write (apparently) realistic dialogue. I prefer, for the record, the more colloquial “fu” as in: “You have amazing verb-fu, Ms. Bohnhoff.”

But, I digress.  Continue reading


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Meaning

August 2014Brenda Clough has been taking us along with her on her post-Worldcon journeys.  Me, I front-loaded my trip to Europe, going to a friend’s 60th birthday party in Normandy. It was a loose sort of gathering–people hung around, or walked, or ran, or wrote, or did whatever they wanted.  And there were day trips.   Continue reading


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BVC Announces Nine White Horses by Judith Tarr

Nine White Horses by Judith TarrNine White Horses

by Judith Tarr

Nine stories of horses and their people. Nine tales of magic and enchantment.

Horses of the ancient world, horses of the Middle Ages and the Arabian Nights, horses of the present and the future, even horses (and not quite horses) of a world that never was.

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The McKittypants Diaries

This year, with the varmint invasion at an all time high–from rabbits to squirrels to pack rats to mice to gophers–we put into action tentative plan to acquire a barn cat–a cat of such nature so as not to be a viable adoptable indoor pet.

We have an agility friend with connections in high places at our awesome localish (in the city) shelter, Animal Humane. Okay, very high places. She runs the thing and is also a talented animal yenta. She hooked us up with a reclusive 7-year-old named Calypso whose ability to cope with humanity deteriorated daily during her stay there…and during her transition period here. She fled upon release, disappearing into the arroyo. No one was truly surprised, but it was hard all the same.

In short order, another kitty opportunity cropped up: a fourteen-week old little guy who had made clear his hatred of being handled. We hoped that at this younger age, we could at least gain his understanding that barn = good, people = food.

So home he came, and was immediately christened Mr. McKittypants (don’t judge me). He hissed at everyone who so much as looked at him, no doubt about that. But three immediate observations changed everything about his future:

He hissed, but he recovered. And became curious.

He’s intensely food driven.

He’s intensely social.

Well, not the least bit socialized in training terms, but social.  “Where ARRRRE you? Why don’t you come and be in the BARRRRN with me? I can HEARRRRR you in the house!” Continue reading


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Worldcon Report 16: Hadrian Fangirl

by Brenda W. Clough

image Both my husband and I are going through a period of severe Roman fandom. I am writing a time travel novel and he is doing research on curse tablets. So this day was devoted to seeking Roman ruins across the north country. Luckily Hadrian’s Wall is right here near Carlisle, and here is a piece of it. I took this picture at a roadside site on the way to Birdoswald, a fort on the Wall. For many centuries the Wall was mined by the local peasantry for sheep walls and so on, but now the nation has awakened to the tourist potential, and you can walk, cycle, bus or drive the entire length of the wall from sea to shining sea.

image We also stopped at the far western end of the wall, at Bowness-on-Solway, on Solway Firth. You can stand there and see across the Firth to Scotland. It is so incredibly beautiful here. And relatively deserted — this is the Bank Holiday weekend in Britain and I should judge that about half the population of Britain is in the Lake District.


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Story Excerpt Sunday: From Ardent Forest by Nancy Jane Moore

Ardent ForestArdent Forest

by Nancy Jane Moore

The late afternoon sun caught the gold mirrored glass in one of the dozens of tall buildings that stretched to the south. In that moment it was possible to imagine a bustling downtown, one where deals were made on the upper floors and people in search of a good time overflowed the bars and restaurants at ground level.

But as the Earth continued its inexorable rotation, the illusion vanished, leaving in its wake a canyon of decaying structures. The windows catching the sun were mostly broken—in a world without enough electricity to run air conditioners, hermetically sealed buildings are no longer desirable, even if holes let in bugs. Weeds grew in every crack in walls and pavement.

A hot wind blew in from the east, bringing with it the stench of an overflowing garbage dump. Rosa slapped at a mosquito on her neck. She was sitting on the Heroes of the Alamo Memorial, watching the progress of the sun over old downtown. She ran her finger over the carved name of William Barret Travis. What makes someone a hero, she asked herself? Dying honorably, probably. Or dying in circumstances that some later storyteller could define as honorable. Surely there must be some form of heroism that didn’t require death, she thought, but hanging around and being polite to your mother’s enemies probably wasn’t it. Continue reading


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Worldcon Report 15: Lakes and Hills

by Brenda W. Clough

image Today was a day devoted to landscape. The Lake District is big on it — glorious mountains, rocky cliffs, stony screes, waterfall-fed lakes. We took a bus tour around the countryside. The great advantage of this is that one does not have to drive along one-lane roads teeming with bicyclists, hikers, and speedy local cars heading the other way.

Then, in a spirit of topping up the cup, we took a boat tour around Derwent Water, the lake here at Keswick. It turns out that a waterproof jacket is a lovesome thing. I am going to go back to the novel and modify all the descriptions.


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