Tales from an Organic Orchard

plum curculio damage on immature nectarine 6/09

I: The Plum Tree

The old man had said to cull. But for two years in a row she’d gotten only a single plum–both times they were out of this world divine. So all winter she dreamt of a tree full of the fruit.

Finally spring came and Mother Plum bore thousands of babies. Was he mad? Cull? Never. She wanted to see them all to divine ripeness.

“Nature has a way of taking care of its own,” the old farmer said later, shaking his head when he saw she hadn’t culled.

“Piffle,” she answered. To herself, of course.

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You Know What You Know


Everyone is an expert about something. Most people don’t even think about their areas of expertise–one guy’s an expert at making jam; another at building stone walls; the next person can drape a Victorian bodice (but doesn’t think of this as expertise because it’s just a hobby–as if people don’t lavish time, money, and intelligence on the things they do for love…I mean really).  Think about yourself: you know stuff, right?  Things that may not bring you money but fascinate you.  My husband, a recording engineer and audiophile, is a Beatles completist.  On rec.arts.music.beatles he was, for years, the Grey Eminence who could settle arguments and dispel rumors.  He loves that feeling of expertise and he loves sharing what he knows: win-win!  And there are things you know that other people aren’t likely to know: how to open that sticky drawer in the kitchen; what’s the best way to get downtown from your house; what store was there before the Gap moved in…

There are pitfalls, of course, to knowing stuff. Continue reading


Pitfalls of Writing SF & Fantasy #1

Read This First!

McIntyre’s First Law:

Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you could be wrong.

Pitfall #1: The Expository Lump,
“As You Know, George,
the Space Station’s Orbit Is Degrading Rapidly,
and We’re Running out of Air.”

Every sf story contains information that the reader must know. Getting that information across gracefully is difficult, but rewarding. Handing it to the reader in the narrative can be done carefully. Handing it to the reader in a lump of expository dialogue is generally not graceful.

Detection trick: If the phrase “As you know,” or “As you should know” would make sense in a line of dialogue, the dialogue is probably an expository lump.

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Fresh Fiction picks Faery Moon by P.R. Frost

Greetings from Fresh Fiction,

faery-moon-smFAERY MOON was chosen to be a Fresh Pick at Fresh Fiction. Your cover and a link to FAERY MOON will appear on every page of FreshFiction.com on June 19, 2009 and mailed to the subscribers of the Fresh Pick newsletter on June 19, 2009. We’ll also Twitter and post on our Facebook Fan page about our selection on June 19, 2009. Feel free to reTweet or link. If you’d like a graphic for your own site, please contact us at [email protected]

The Fresh Pick is chosen by a group of readers and is never a purchased advertisement or promotion. We’ve chosen your book because it appeals to us and we like to share our diverse tastes in reading and hope other readers will give it a try.

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It occurs to me that a great disservice is done to us all when writers (and other artists) become famous after they’ve died. We never get a chance to ask them burning questions such as Where do your ideas come from? Do you write in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings? What do you do when you’re blocked?

These are the types of things we discover when a Famous Writer is interviewed. But writers don’t get interviewed unless they’re famous, so when a writer becomes famous after they’ve died, the questions go unanswered. A hole is left where information should be. An itch goes unscratched. Another tragedy in the life of the reader.

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We Are Not Our Brains

Out of Our Heads“There is no empirical or philosophical justification for the idea that the brain alone is enough for consciousness.”

So says the philosopher – or perhaps neurophilosopher – Alva Noë in his book Out of Our Heads, which challenges the idea that our brains are just a complex computer and that everything we do will eventually be traced back to the firing of the appropriate neurons. Instead, he argues that human consciousness is the result of our interaction with the world around us.

Noë is no shrinking violet. He even challenges the Nobel-Prize-winning research of David Hubel and Torstein Wiesel on the neurophysiology of vision. Continue reading


2009 Bram Stoker Awards – Burbank, CA

For somebody who wanted to sleep in and write all weekend, I had a fantastic time at this year’s Bram Stoker Awards in Burbank. Everytime I feel like giving up my membership card in the “community,” often for very insignificant or little reason (I’m introverted and a little anti-social – betcha wouldn’t guess that!), something happens that makes me feel great about being the twisted, loopy, unconventional individual that I am.

Like . . . John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow . . .

JohnSkipp&CodyGoodfellow Who wouldn’t want to associate continuously with these guys? (Lumpy the Turd Boy, maybe?)

Another funny thing about this picture is that the bombed-out wasteland that was the Burbank Marriott has been remodeled, and that particular view is probably the only one that might make it look like they were posing in some attractive mountain area, rather than across the street from Bob Hope Airport and the brand-new Del Taco.

So, here are the results of the 2009 Bram Stoker Awards, thanks to Ian Strock, courtesy of Scott Edelman (picture below, advertising something really important). Continue reading


Horses for Writers

You rang?

This week, by popular demand (and I mean demand–everybody I asked about a possible blog subject started singing a chorus of “Horses! Horses! Horses!“), I’m beginning a new Book View Cafe tradition: the weekly horseblog.

In order to do this, I’ll need your help: your questions, comments, and general input. If you have a specific horse-related question, please ask it. If you’re working on a project that has to have horses in it, but you’re not sure how to tackle the issue–here’s the place to find out. Just generally curious? That’s great, too. I’ll be answering from a few eons’ experience of horses, with quite a bit of help from the Usual Suspects, aka my herd of highly opinionated and frequently snarky horses.

Come on in and join us! Next week we’ll tackle the basics: “Horses Are Not Dogs.” Then we’ll see where your fancy leads us.