CAFE READS: EVIL GENIUS, by Patricia Rice

Bottom of image: Beautiful woman peeking past a fall of hair; above title bar, man's hand adjusting a dress shirt cuff and cufflink.

Evil Genius by Patricia Rice

Anastasia Devlin is a virtual assistant, an invisible researcher and finder-of-all-things, known to her clients as a handle and a PO Box.  She’s also the daughter of a gorgeous, dysfunctional woman of many marriages & affairs who has spent a lifetime globetrotting and possibly spying for her country.  Her mother provided her with numerous half-siblings (all the children of powerful and/or wealthy men) and a checkered past of living in palaces and mud huts around the world.

At twenty-six Ana bolted, and has been hidden from her family for four years.  She’s not a hermit, but she’s an introvert who scorns her mother’s way of dealing with the world, much less dealing with men.  Right now, living in a basement flat in Atlanta, GA and building a career and a bank account through her laptop works just fine for Ana.

Then one morning she opens her door to find her nine year old sister Elizabeth Georgiana, I.E. EG for Evil Genius (EG earned her name at five years while unmasking an addicted gambler—her mother’s current boyfriend—just before he made off with the money from Mom’s last divorce settlement.) Continue reading

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BVC Announces The River Horse Tsar by Brenda W. Clough

The River Horse Tsar by Brenda W. Clough

The River Horse Tsar
The Thrilling Victorian Adventures of the Most Dangerous Woman in Europe
by Brenda W. Clough

Hidden in the back of an artist’s canvas is a golden token that draws Marian Halcombe Camlet into a web of international intrigue.

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The Styles of the City: Bricks

It’s always cheapest to build with local materials. France is a stony country, and so many villages are built entirely out of the local stone. This makes for a local ‘look’ that’s very pretty — all the houses are of cream colored limestone, or gray granite, or whatever.

But if you have no useful stone near by? The cheapest options are always the close ones, because it’s so costly to haul building materials. And around here the favorite construction material is brick. Continue reading

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CAFE READS: SHAMAN: THE ADVENTURES OF RHYS LLEWELLYN, by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

Shaman is a reprint of several SF short pieces that first appeared in Analog Science Fiction Magazine.  They all concern the adventures of eccentric kilt-wearing anthropologist/archaeologist/xenologist Rhys Llewellyn and his assistants Yoshi Umeki and Roderick Halfax. These are not merely tales of first contact–they are also tales of how an innovative senior officer at an exploration corporation hires an anthropologist to make sure that both the corporation and the natives are dealt with fairly.

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The Rambling Writer Visits the Big Island, Hawaii, part 8: Petroglyphs!

Join Thor and me as we walk among thousands of petroglyphs carved in lava beds by native Hawaiians.

NOTE: After way too many months without travel, Thor insisted on an R&R escape to Hawaii this April. He’d been keeping on eye on the very careful Covid-19 precautions in the islands, and the testing required before flying there. And now that we’re both fully vaccinated, we took the plunge – literally, for some snorkeling in the healing sea, as well as exploring the Big Island and Kauai. After this detour (series started April 24), I promise I’ll finish up my Virtual Italy Vacation series soon!

I am a big fan of petroglyphs — they figured prominently in my Caribbean suspense novel Islands, which happens to be on half-price special this month https://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/book/islands/ — and I’ve gone out of my way to visit them whenever I’ve had a chance. During my scuba divemaster sojourns in the Caribbean, I heard suggestions that these mysterious, usually undated carvings in stone were connected to spiritual “power spots.” When I worked as divemaster in the Honduran Bay Islands, there was a large, spiral-carved glyph behind my shoreside cottage. Since the island had no roads, locals got around in dinghies, following a predictable route through the shallow corals inside the reef. Almost without fail, the motors would cough and die as the boats passed the glyph. Hmmm. But I digress…. Continue reading

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New Worlds: Come Buy, Come Buy

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

Writing this essay has earwormed me.

I own an album of period music by the group Sirinu, which includes the song “New Oysters Street Cries.” It’s a seventeenth-century round advertising oysters for sale:

New oysters!
New oysters!
New Walefleet oysters!
At a groat a peck
At a groat a peck
Each oyster worth two pence
Fetch us bread and wine that we may eat,
Let us lose no time with such good meat,
A banquet for a prince!

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Island Life: The Great Propane Race

Our back garden path, currently.

Nine percent.

I just checked the level on our propane tank, and it’s down to nine percent. Just a few days ago, when I started this essay, it was eleven percent. Eek!

Propane powers our stove (both range top and oven), and also our water heater. One of the first things we learned when we moved from a city to this rural island was how different the utilities work out here, and what a bummer it would be to run out of propane.

(And how important it is to have the septic tank pumped regularly, but that’s another essay for another day.)

Lest you think this is about to be a complaint about our negligent propane-delivery company: it is not. This is something we have done to ourselves, quite deliberately. In fact, the gas truck has come by twice in the last month or so, and we’ve sent it away.

Why would we do such a foolish thing? Well, you see, we need to have the tank moved. And the tank-moving fellow made it very clear that the tank should be as close to empty as possible. Propane is heavy, and also, you know, flammable. The less of it that gets picked up and tumbled about on its way to its new location, the better.

So. As I write this, Tank Moving Day is two days off. Nine percent should be fine. Yep. Perfectly fine.

Sure.

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Artist in Residence 26: DIY… or not

Mention anything out loud and someone will tell you there’s a Youtube video with instructions on precisely how to do it.

Which is probably great, if you already know what you’re doing.

Here I sit, with a Plumbing Problem or Three in the bathroom. You’d think that maybe the Quarantine would have been a good time to catch up on all the Youtibe videos and gird up my loins and sail in and fix it all myself. But oh dear god.Here’s teh simplest problem analysis:

  1. here’s the tools you need. This one is called [something you don’t recgonise although it LOOKS like a wrench. But IS it a wrench? or is it a specialised tool? how do I know?) Oh, and plumber’s tape. You’ll need plumber’s tape for the screwing back together of connections. Sure, I have that just lying around. So, special tool… plumbers tape… possibly a new fixture taht I need to replace the one that’s ailing… none of it is all THAT expensive individually but it adds up and then there’s the inescapable conclusion…
  2. …that I do not have the first clue what I would be about, and would probably drown the place if I tried. It all looks SO simple on the video instructions, except…
  3. …I ALSO looked at video instructions for removing my obstinate bathtub drain stopper thingy (see? I don’t even have the VOCABULARY) and in every single video it’s, do THIS, unscrew THAT, and voila, out it comes… except that mine DOESN’T. And if I can’t get THAT going with just the youtube videos for instructions, how am I supposed to have the raw courage to tackle something that might have a live water connection to it?

So. Call plumbers for quotes.

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BVC Announces Tinkerbell and the Storybook Murder by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

Tinkerbell and the Storybook Murder by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Tinkerbell and the Storybook Murder

Gina Miyoko Mysteries
by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

What happens when a celebrity author whose plots are “ripped from the headlines” gets involved in a murder investigation? Gina and the SFPD are about to find out.

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Oh, yeah. Characters.

(Picture from here.)

The 1978 Clarion Workshop Rules for Writing:

  • Use other words
  • In a different order, too
  • Oh, yeah. Characters.

A while back I talked a bit about my writing process. I left out how I create characters. Sure enough, one of my two readers asked me about it.

So, I hemmed and hawed. Turned on them ferociously. Whistled and tried to walk nonchalantly out of the room.

All because I’m not sure how I do it. Continue reading

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