What Dreams May Come (“The Second Star”, birth of a novel)

Today is my birthday. Four days ago, my new novel was “born”. This is the closest I’ve ever come to sharing a birthday with a book of mine – so let me tell you a little about this one, and how it came about.

It started, as my stories often do, with a dream. Sort of.

In the mornings, when I report on my often rich and lush and complex dreams, my husband has been heard to mutter “That’s a STORY.” In fact, some of these dreams have been kneaded, baked, made into publishable short stories – or even novels.. A number of times I’ve ‘serial dreamed’ something longer – a story that starts on one night, finds itself too long and complicated to conclude in one sitting, breaks at a convenient point, and picks up where it left off when next my sleeping brain flips that switch. At least one of these dreams actually woke me up out of a sound sleep and sent me off to a computer keyboard, bleary-eyed and only half awake and barely coherent, to type furiously because the story would not be silenced for another minute.

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The neighborhood was a quieter last night than I expected on the “observed 4th”. Tonight may be a different story. Neighbors set off the Oregon regulation fireworks, small bright things that don’t shoot up into the sky. We are in drought status here, after all.

My fireworks party was “Hamilton”. I paid Disney Plus $6.99—planning to discontinue before the next month, maybe after browsing through some of the classic animated films from my youth, if they’re offered (Fantasia, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella)—and settled down to watch the whole thing.

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The Rambling Writer Visits Thailand, part 2: Bangkok’s River Artery

From our hotel on the banks of the Chao Praya River, Thailand’s most important waterway, Thor and I go with the flow through the bustling Old Town of Bangkok.

NOTE: “And now for something completely different.” Thor and I recently made our first trip to Asia — the beautiful country of Thailand.  We were lucky to squeak through the pandemic flight closures this February of 2020 as we returned from our three-week trip. Since more travel has now become a distant prospect, we hope you’ll take a virtual vacation with us in the following weeks. (This blog series started on June 13.)

I was lucky enough to find a great price in business class for the very long flight from Vancouver, B.C., and since Thor is 6’6? it made sense. Being able to sleep in spacious, fully-reclined seating made a huge difference in reducing jet lag. The way the world is going with the pandemic, that may be the only time Thor and I experience that kind of flight, or any other, so we’re glad we got to indulge in that luxury. Landing in Bangkok hit us with the first of our culture shocks: This sprawling city of between 9.5 to 15 million people (depending on official or unofficial counts) reflects what a critic termed “uncontrolled expansion” that also applies to the previous decades’ push (since the 70s) to promote tourism without much planning. It’s an incredibly beautiful country, but also incredibly crowded. Coming from our relatively spacious Pacific Northwest, we took a deep breath and plunged in. Continue reading


New Worlds: What Makes a God

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

If any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, then any sufficiently powerful being may be indistinguishable from a god.

What is a god, anyway? This is a question that has vexed real-world theologians and other scholars, as they grapple with issues like how to translate the Japanese word kami. It’s easier in fiction, where a god is what the author says it is — and if they reveal that a so-called god is “actually” an alien or a powerful mage, then that entity instantly loses its divine status. “Word of God” (a common term for the author’s opinion) settles all questions of godhood.

Within real-world contexts, though, there are many different ideas about what qualities a god has. And whether we think about them or not, those ideas often seep into our fiction.

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Blogging The Magna Carta #15

by Phyllis Irene Radford

Something we take for granted:

35. Let there be one measure of wine throughout our whole realm; and one measure of ale; and one measure of corn, to wit, “the London quarter;” and one width of cloth (whether dyed, or russet, or “halberget” [cloth made of mixed color, worn chiefly by monks.]), to wit, two ells within the selvages; of weights also let it be as of measures.

Until the Magna Carta, each district defined their own measurements.  In London, a foot was the length of the king’s foot; an inch the length from the king’s fingertip to the first knuckle.  But King Richard I was said to stand well over six feet tall.  King John is reputed to measure barely five feet seven.  And if a child became king then grew…

Or suppose a lady needed 10 ells of cloth for a new gown.  An ell being the measurement from the tip of the fingers to the elbow.  In London she’d get adequate cloth as the merchants tended to use the king’s arm as the standard measurement.  In York she’d come up short on her new gown as the cloth was measured against someone else’s arm.  And if she ordered from Paris, she’d get an entirely different length.

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God’s Country and the making of a knife

First, an announcement.

On July 7, 2020, my novel God’s Country will be released. You’ll find it right here on Book View Café as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

If you have ever asked the question what does sex, prostitution, crooked cops, televangelists, psychopaths, an eclipse and illicit neurochemistry have in common? The answer would be my novel, God’s Country.

This is the beginning of a trend.

Welcome to Witchlandia came out in 2016. Simple Things came out December, 2019. Summer, 2020, it’s God’s Country. September, 2020, my novella The Long Frame will be released and next December comes my novel Jackie’s Boy. 2021 isn’t yet planned though I have some ideas.

So: stay tuned.

Now, on to Doing 2: The Making of a Knife. Continue reading


Time travel

I time travel quite a bit.

No, seriously, I do.

It’s cheap and you can do it whenever you want, really.

So long as you have photographs..

Sometimes, when I take stock of how many photographs I have, it’s alarming. There are albums and albums which my father put together as I was growing up. The earliest one I have in my closet, a precious thing, is the old fashioned kind with thick gray pages on which you pasted the photos, and Dad did this, small old black and white pics to begin with, of my mother pregnant with me and then my first baby pictures (yes the obligatory bare-ass one…) and then me, growing from a shapeless papoose into a chubby toddler – and then, over a series of other albums, into a long-legged pre-teen and then a rangy adolescent, and then a young woman…

At some point the albums peter out and cross over into something more chaotic, just loose photos, hundreds of them, THOUSANDS of them, from four continents, with occasional efforts being made to sort them and categorize them. Most of the time nobody wrote down anything on the back so actual times and dates and locations are sometimes probably literally known to only one viewer – me – because I was either in the shot (at an identifiable age from which I can then map the rest of the details) or, later on, I was the one behind the camera and remember taking that shot. Continue reading


Ways to Trash Your Writing Career: An Intermittent Series

There are the really obvious ways to torch your career — rudeness to editors, for instance.  And then there are the hidden trap doors.  The one I am going to reveal today is truly obscure.  It could be broadly described as meddling with the publication process. More specifically, you can enrage the publisher’s sales reps.  Kill your book dead in one easy step!

To understand how this can be a wooden stake through the heart of your career, you  have to understand how traditional book publishing works.  Continue reading