What You Do Does

“You know what you do. You don’t know what you do does.”

I first heard that at an event with Rebecca Solnit and Joan Halifax, Roshi. Solnit said it, but she was referring to something she had learned from Halifax. The concept apparently goes back to Foucault, but the provenance doesn’t really matter. The idea does.

Those are powerful words that can keep you going in times of despair. Don’t focus on the outcome, because you can’t control it and may not live to see it. Just do what matters to you, what you think is right, what you find necessary in the here and now.

I’m thinking about this for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the political debacle in the U.S., which has exposed the weaknesses in our Constitution and in our myths. We are not the country we thought we were.

But I also saw someone refer to the “failure” of Second Wave feminism. I fundamentally disagree. Second Wave feminism was a rousing success. Continue reading



A mystery and bonbonsFebruary 11, mystery/adventure lovers, my debut mystery novel, THE ANTIQUITIES HUNTER (Pegasus Crime) releases in trade paperback. I await my author’s copies as I type.

I know it’s hard to spring for a hardback novel. I admit I only do it for a handful of writers whose work I simply cannot wait to purchase in a more (ahem) cost effective form. So if you are, like many readers, not that fond of eBooks, the trade paperback offers an enjoyable reading experience (I promise!) at a more affordable price. (But if you like eBooks, you can purchase it from all the usual online bookstores.)

I’m celebrating the book’s release all month with a special on the genesis story (“Tinkerbell on Walkabout”) from the BVC bookstore, and by telling you about my protagonist, Gina Miyoko, PI.

Booklist has said of Gina that she “sweeps across the pages like an adrenalin-fueled soul sister of Janet Evanovich’s flamboyant characters, presented in an equally biting and outrageous narrative that turns on a dime.

Publisher’s Weekly called her “A tough, sassy, and relatable investigator, Gina drives a Harley, packs a baby blue Magnum, and is trained in the martial arts. Her rich backstory and family life—her father was a San Francisco cop; her mother, a Russian émigré, plies her with oberegi and other good luck charms—adds unusual depth to a fun story. Readers will want to see a lot more of Gina.”

Well, I sure hope you will! I love this character and her quirky family. I’ve been living with them for a long time now and I’d like to keep them around and, of course, continue to share them with you. In that spirit, I’d like to share this excerpt from the book as a sort of teaser.

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Auntie Deborah Advises on Writing Craft

Auntie Deborah is back at her advice desk…

I’ve been told that as a new writer I should write what I know. How can I apply this to writing a historical novel?

Auntie Deborah: First of all, that old saw about writing (only) what you know should be consigned to the dustbin of bad literary advice. If we all followed it, all fiction would be trite and unendingly boring. We’d write about writers staring at blank screens, unable to summon the enthusiasm to describe their morning cup of coffee. All our characters would be exactly like us. There would be no science fiction, no fantasy, no romance, no mystery, no historical fiction, no sweeping love stories across two continents…

Better, write what you are passionate about.

But do your research. If your main character is disabled, talk to disabled folks and read what they have to say about ableism. If your story is set in Regency England, head for the library (or better yet, the nearest university) and delve into the history, culture, social mores, language, everything you can learn to bring your story to life.

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BVC Members on Curious Fictions

Eleven members of Book View Cafe are now publishing short story reprints and other features on Curious Fictions. Most stories at Curious Fictions can be read for free and you can follow any authors you choose.

However, Curious Fictions also gives readers two options to pay for authors’ work. You can “tip” an author for an individual story or you can subscribe to the author’s stories. Subscriptions and tips help authors boost their income and are greatly appreciated.

The BVC authors on Curious Fictions are:


A Couch for a Cat

Today we brought home a new couch from Ikea. It’s one of those pert little foldout day bed types, ridiculously easy to set up and not too heavy for a couple of geezers to haul up the stairs.

This blog is about a slippery slope, of the kind where one action snowballs into dozens that were never foreseen. Last Thursday we brought home our two new kittens—6-month-old siblings, male and female American short haired cats of slate gray, except Betty, the female, sports a tuxedo look. Well-cared for and deftly humanized by Cat Rescue and Adoption Network (CRAN) volunteers, neutered and shot, these two guys are adding territory to their realm daily.

On Wednesday we catified the husband’s studio, an upstairs room of appreciable size and easy to sequester, swept, cleaned, organized—we moved into this house last summer but the husband likes to unpack slowly. To him it’s Christmas every day. The longer he waits to open a box and sift through the contents, the more surprised and pleased he is. We scattered around all the old cushions and cat caves. We bought toys—our two former older resident cats who have passed moved all of their plastic balls and feathered fliers and catnip mice into an alternate universe over the years. We had to restock.

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The Rambling Writer Returns to Crete, part 15: Thor’s Take on the Minoans

It’s Thor’s turn to weigh in on our Greek rambles. After all, he’s been my hero driver and beloved companion on many adventures!

NOTE: Of course, Thor and I had to make another trip to Greece, as he’s fallen as much in love with the islands as I am. This time, in addition to other island-hopping, I wanted to return to Crete after 37 years. My first months-long trip was as a hippie backpacker, camping in the ruins and falling under the spell of the mysterious, vanished Minoan culture. This time, I got to introduce Thor to “glorious Kriti” and research more settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT. This new blog series started October 19, 2019, and will continue every Saturday.

Take it away, Thor!

Sara invited me to contribute a blog post, a good exercise for my brain, which is getting stiff in retirement.  My main function on these trips is driver and muscle.  Drag a big-ass suitcase up three flights of stairs?  I’m your man.  Reach that little pull chain on the ceiling fan?  I can do it.  I enjoy the ancient ruins, especially the spectacular ones like the Parthenon: Continue reading


New Worlds Theory Post: Where Do You Start?

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

It’s all well and good to take an extended tour through all the different corners of stuff your fictional world might contain. But as in the proverb about the elephant (“How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time”), you have to pick a place to start. When dealing with something potentially the size of an entire world, how do you choose those first few bites?

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Not the Way of the Fan

It occurred to me some years back that if you were a devoted fan of something – might be anything: music, science fiction, art – it could open the door to a career doing something you loved.

So if you were a huge fan of science fiction, you could become an editor or publisher or critic or collector. If you loved folk music, you could travel around collecting recordings from obscure musicians deep in the back woods. If it was painting, you could become a curator for a museum or open a gallery.

Some of this work is easier to get than others, of course, but there are also paths for amateur love – the running of conventions, for example.

It has struck me more than a few times that building a career around something you truly love is a good way to go.

But I’ve never been able to do that. Continue reading