Behind the Scenes at Tempel Lipizzan Farm

I’ve lived 20 minutes away from Tempel Lipizzan Farm for over 30 years, yet never managed to attend a show. I drove past the rolling pastures, caught sight of the horses munching grass, and told myself that someday soon I … Continue reading

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Mr. Pocock Rides Again (Sort of)

It’s amazing what you can find when you clean out a bookcase.

Recently my mother was doing just that, and found an old issue of Heritage, the British history magazine, from February/March 1990. Naturally she saved it for me so that I could put it in my overburdened bookshelves…and while flipping through it, I ran across an article entitled “Pocock’s Flying Carriage”. The story was wonderful, and the name was familiar. We have met a Mr. Pocock before, haven’t we…however, it seems to have been a different Mr. P.

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The Rambling Writer Returns to Greece, Part 20: A Pilgrimage to Ancient Delphi

Follow with me in the footsteps of countless pilgrims to the sacred site of Delphi, spiritual center of the ancient Greek world and home of the famous oracle.

NOTE: Since my 4-month backpacking trip around Greece too many years ago, I had been longing to return to this magical land of myth, history, and dramatic landscapes. I recently made a fabulous 3-week return trip there, to research additional settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT. My first post in the new series, on September 30, gives an overview of my rambles with my husband Thor from Athens to the islands of Rhodes, Santorini, and Naxos, and finally a pilgrimage to the ancient center of the world at Delphi.

The final destination of my return trip to Greece was the culmination of many years’ longing to spend time among the haunting ruins of temples that have drawn devotees for thousands of years. I wanted quiet moments to experience the awe-inspiring setting at the foot of Mount Parnassos, perched beneath the sheer cliffs of the Phaedriades (the “Shining Ones”) and above the sheer drop to the valley of the Pleistos River flowing to the Gulf of Corinth. So much of early and Classic Greek history and myth circles around this place of power! I needed to absorb its presence, to fill a void in my lifelong fascination with Greek culture, but also as necessary research for my novel-in-progress, which has key scenes in and around Delphi. Continue reading

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New Worlds: Buying and Selling Spouses

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

When marriage is more of an economic transaction between families than a union of two people for reasons of personal attachment, it isn’t at all surprising that money gets involved.

There’s good reason for this. Taking a new person into your household entails new expenses; conversely, the household losing that person loses the benefits of their labor. How that ledger gets balanced — who ends up being seen as needing compensation for the shift — varies depending on place and time.

The version most of you have probably heard of is the dowry: wealth given by the bride’s family to the groom or the groom’s family as part of the marriage deal. It provides endless fodder for romance novelists writing historical tales, because much like college in the United States nowadays, it was a big expense, and one families had to plan for early if they wanted to handle it right.

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Not My Revolution

jumpsuitsCory Doctorow is singing the praises of an “ungendered monogarment,” which turns out to be a jumpsuit made in sizes that fit many different body types.

The jumpsuit is the design of the Rational Dress Society, which wants to free people from the fashion industry and rules of dressing based on class and gender. As an extra political kick, they’re making them from fabric created by shredding Ivanka Trump clothes, which is amusing, though I don’t know if that says much for the quality of the fabric.

While the Rational Dress Society raises some provocative ideas, I’ve got three big objections to their jumpsuits: political, practical, and aesthetic.

To begin with, political: Jumpsuits aren’t ungendered. Jumpsuits in this style are generally male clothing in this society. (I remember my father going through a phase where he wore them.) Continue reading

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Returning to Oil: Bigger, Darker

by Brenda W. Clough

 One of the things that I am prone to (I remember now!) is green. Somehow everything I paint in oil is very, very green. I don’t even like green! Other people can paint landscapes that are not mostly green, so why can’t I? Have a look at this Matisse, for example. The actual view must have a great deal of green in it, since this is France and France is a green and fertile country. You’d never know it from the colors the artist chose! This is not a characteristic of my muse, like McCaffrey and telepathy or Keith Richards and bluesy riffs. My problem is an artistic error. I have to push past the tyranny of what I see, to paint what ought to be there.

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Did You See What I Did There?

Olympic figure skating is one of those things. I never mean to watch, and then, somehow, there I am and five hours have passed and it’s late and my head is full of salchows and axels and spangles.  There are a lot of brilliant technicians out there on the ice, and they’re riveting to watch, but the ones I love are the performers. Anent this, I was directed to Jason Brown’s 2014 performance at the US National Championships. He’s not just good–he is a brilliant performer, and more than that, his joy in the doing is both infectious and endearing. The audience is on its feet at the end of the routine, and well they should be. And his face just shines, because he had fun and made something beautiful; in the compact between audience and performer, it’s a perfect transaction.

This doesn’t work as well for writing, I think. Continue reading

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BVC Announces Beyond the Rules by Doranna Durgin

Wild Hearts Collection: Book 3 - Beyond the Rules by Doranna DurginBeyond the Rules
Wild Hearts Collection: Book 3
by Doranna Durgin



She’d never planned to see her so-called family again. But that didn’t help Hunter Agency operative Kimmer Reed when her brother showed up on her doorstep, men with guns just minutes behind. Seemed he’d gotten in over his head and had decided to give his former mob “business partners” a new target: Kimmer. Continue reading

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The Classroom of Dissatisfaction

One of the best things a writer can do to hone their craft, is read well-written fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama. We learn to emulate them, and try new techniques that we see in these works. We learn language; we learn turns of phrases.  All of this gets dumped into our “primordial ooze,” as Virginia Woolf called that fecund place from which we grow our stories. We enjoy the reading, and then start thinking about what the writers did and how they did it and we analyze words and sentence structures, paragraph and book structures. We don’t always do it consciously, but we tend to do it all the same. It’s how we are always learning our craft.

But good books don’t teach us everything. We can learn from bad books, but I like learning from books that are a mix of good and bad–which for me, leads to a vaguely dissatisfying experience that niggles and can make me put down a book without finishing because I don’t necessarily want to keep reading.

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Posted in Books and Reading, Writers on Writing, Writing life | 12 Comments

The Reluctant Traveler: from Tendonitis to Typewriters

Politics? Sexual harassment? The lovely movie I watched this morning? Dogs running circles around the yard in the cold bright light? Chronic left elbow tendonitis?

OK, I’ll talk about that for a while, and maybe we’ll get somewhere today with something. My arm pain started some time in the late 1970’s. (OK, do the math, and figure out how long I’ve been a registered nurse. A LONG time). Anyway, back then, it was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. (OK, ask me how a California-born-and-bred girl ended up in Pittsburgh? There may follow the story of a relationship gone bad.) Nurse’s aide at a Pittsburgh hospital, working my way through school. The crazy boyfriend is gone, sort of, and I am bent on earning my BSN and booking back to the coast as soon as I can walk away with my diploma.

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