Artist in Residence Quarantine Diaries Episode 13: Cat-astrophe

Friday, August 28. It begins.

This is what I wrote, on Saturday:

“One minute he was fine. The next minute he was “talking” rather more than usual. The minute after that, he was yowling in pain. And it was midnight. I stayed up all night with a cat in agony, desperately making plans to take him straight to the emergency vet then changing them when he seemed to quiet down but by morning it was clear – this cat was in trouble. I read up on the symptoms- urinary blockage. Everything I read told me cats DIE from this.

I took him to his vet first thing on Saturday morning (of course this happened on the weekend). They took one look at him and said yup, blockage, bad one, and it was just as well you brought him in when you did. They cleaned him out, the catheterised him, and because it was Saturday and they close at noon I was told to come get the cat – but he couldn’t come home, not with the catheter in, so off he went to the Emergency Animal Care clinic in town, for an overnight stay so that he can be monitored and decatheterised and all that. And they want him to “prove” to them, before they release him, that he can go on his own. So I can probably have him back on Monday morning.

I still haven’t had the bill from HIS vet but I was told that it would be AT LEAST $500-$600. The Emergency Clinic people want $1400.

Continue reading


On Becoming a Professional Amateur, #2: Language Abuse

This is the second article in my series on Becoming a Professional Amateur — by which I mean simply that if you’re going to write and you’re a lover of writing (literally an amateur), you might as well be professional about it. Today we take a look at another enemy of professionalism — the abuse of our defenseless language.

Sample sentence: To attempt any consideration of Gaudi’s life, he must be placed in his time and located in his place. To accomplish this, an overstanding of how he came to be is indispensable. 

What problems do you see in this pair of sentences? 

I see several problems:

  1.  Bloat
  2.  Word misuse
  3.  Redundancy
    Continue reading


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


Dispatch from Oregon

Tomorrow, Sunday, when this is published, things will be exactly the same. The 24-hour time span between this writing and when you read this, oh dear fan, will not make a difference.

Air quality index right now: 445 parts per million. This equals “hazardous”. Also murk, dimness, thick clouds, sun a disc of neon orange that can’t warm the September air any higher than 60 degrees under this wrack. My phone still cheerily tells me today’s high will be 79 degrees. Ha! I tell it. You lie! Not down here!

Continue reading


The Rambling Writer Rerun: Chain Lakes Hike, 2018

As the U.S. West is on fire and our mountains obscured by smoke, here’s a reminder that many wilderness hikes are still there, waiting or recovering. Here’s a favorite below Mt. Baker in NW Washington.

I plan to return soon to my weekly “virtual vacation” blog series on Thailand, though I’m still finding it difficult to spend much time at the computer after surgery. Here’s another of Thor’s, Bear dog’s, and my favorite hikes in this rerun from 2018. Some things remain the same: the terrible wildfires ravaging the West again this summer. We’ve been lucky here in the Pacific Northwest, but now more wildfires are coming near, with smoke from local and distant fires.

Join Thor, Bear dog, and me as we hike the Ptarmigan Ridge trail beneath Mt. Baker and cool off in brisk, clear mountain lakes. Continue reading


New Worlds: Lock ‘Em Up

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

When we think about punishing criminals, especially in the modern-day U.S., our thoughts often go first to prison. It’s far from the only way to impose consequences, either now or in the past, but it’s become so emblematic that any discussion of punishments feels like it ought to start there.

Continue reading


OZ IS BURNING: Authors Discuss the Anthology

Summer in the southern hemisphere is fire time.

Managed fire can be a blessing, clearing out choking undergrowth and removing pestilent rodents. Out of control fire is a different entity altogether. In the summer of 2019/2020 nearly the entire continent of Australia burned. Half a billion animals lost their lives. Hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat and agricultural land was scoured. Some of the fires were human caused. Others were the result of climate change—humanity’s greedy exploitation of resources—and decades of drought. Even after the fires are out, the land still suffers.


Thursday 3rd September, 2020. B-Cubed Press has proudly published Oz is Burning, and anthology featuring some of Australia’s most prominent speculative fiction writers.

The trade paperback and e-book are available worldwide on book retailers’ websites such as Amazon for a suggested retail price of $13.50 (paperback), $7.00 (e-book).

Authors involved are having a Facebook event on September 13, Sunday, 6 pm U.S. West Coast time.

And now let’s hear from three of the authors, all connected with Book View Café.

How did Oz is Burning come about? Continue reading


Bad Boys, Nineteenth Century Style

One of the most enduring tropes in romance fiction is the bad boy—a male romantic lead who parties hard, tirelessly carves notches in his bedposts, is devastatingly attractive, yada yada yada… It’s not my particular jam, but to each their own, right?

But bad boys aren’t only a trope among romance fiction writers and Hollywood press agents. Nor are they a strictly modern phenomenon: the nineteenth century boasts many a bad boy.

In fact, Queen Victoria definitely appreciated a good bad boy. In 1837, not long before she became queen, the seventeen-year-old began to take notice of a second cousin of hers who had come to London and could be seen at fashionable balls and the opera and out with his friends in Kensington Gardens. Continue reading


Confessions of a Ghost Writer: I Dodge a Bullet—Update

Funny story.

As I detailed in my last Confession, I dodged a wild bullet about two years ago, when a dear friend and collaborator referred a gentleman to me who had a book he wanted ghostwritten.

Long story short, a combination of unwillingness to communicate that ran to paranoid secrecy (he claimed to have written a screenplay that was made into a movie “on the big screen in Hollywood” but refused to tell me the name of the movie), insulting comments, fibbing about the script’s success with publishers, and insisting I sign a contract to write the novelization before I had any more information about the story than its title (THE GAME IS AFOOT! in my fictionalized account) caused me to decline to acquiesce to his request. Continue reading