yesterday

Benedictine Cemetery, Salzburg, Austria

Saturday friends and I did a “Write-In on the Rails” day trip to Oceanside on the MetroLink train #660. We brought our laptops and as the 660 zipped past California’s wild ravines and hillside homes overlooking the cold, gray Pacific, we each worked on our individual projects. I completed a new scene in The Foreigner and worked on the outline for The Bone Box, a horror novella I hope to start writing soon.

The plan was to catch a morning train, meet in one of the cars to work, have lunch in Oceanside and catch an early afternoon train back to our respective homes. And it almost worked out that way but for a tragedy on the tracks.

In Oceanside. we made our way to Master’s for lunch in a gaggle of umbrellas, shielding ourselves from the drippy sky. After lunch, it was back to the train for the homeward run. Shortly after we boarded and pulled out of Oceanside, a man committed suicide, stopping his car on the track in front of the oncoming, southbound train, right in front of dozens of people. Suicide is a heartbreaking act in so many ways. I’ll spare you all the details, but let me say, we spent hours and hours, the rest of the day mostly at a standstill on the track, unable to go anywhere because of the ongoing investigation of the suicide and the resulting train congestion.

During the run down, I took a moment to check my e-mail, found a message from Black Fox Literary Magazine accepting my short short story, Crossing, for publication in the Summer issue, online July 27! I’m thrilled. Crossing was so very short, I didn’t know what to do with it and left it in my files until I decided recently to give it a chance and send it out. To my surprise, it found a home.

I’ve been crazy busy and have not had time to write my next post about my Danube cruise, Vienna. It doesn’t help that I’ve misplaced my travel journal with my notes! (sigh) As soon as the dust settles, and I hope I find my travel journal, I’ll get back to it. Besides Vienna, there’s Bratislava, Slovakia’s capitol, and Budapest (the crown jewel of my trip) left to write about.

The photo is the cemetery of the Benedictine monastery in Vienna.

 

full of beans, full of zany charm

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I’m particularly fond of coffee and coffee houses. I’m always on the look out for coffee houses, especially the ones privately owned ’cause I like the stamp of personality they have, the quirkiness, the fun decorative creativity. Several weeks ago my writing  buddy Michelle and I took ourselves off to Ojai for a writing retreat. Nestled amid the oak-laden foothills of the Santa Inez Mountains, Ojai has a rustic, small town ambience, and you forget you’re in Southern California. Driving about, we discovered Full of Beans Coffee House, and its “Here we are!” coffee cup out front. On our final morning in Ojai, we spent time in the Full of Beans garden patio.IMG_0991Tucked at the rear of the coffee house is a delightful patio. Potted geraniums and cacti, shaded by large, old trees, and furnished with an eclectic, inviting selection of benches, chairs, and tables that were just fun, adding a creative liveliness to the place where you can sit comfortably with your coffee and/or pastry and read the paper, read a book, chat, or write in comfort.

If I lived in Ojai, this is where you’d find me on summer afternoons!

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basking in the september sun

Friday! Yay! Nothing like a sunny Friday in September. Love a summery September, makes up for gloomy June. Going with friends here on Saturday, plus a side trip to  La Jolla (“La Jolla” photo by bettyw) .

Work progress on the Shadow Walk rewrite/restructure, over 10,000 words out of a total of 55,000 or so. Expanded the “Migraine Visitation” scene to 2,160 words.

Have this mystery short story set in a steampunkish American West I so want to work on, but have not found the time lately. Shadow Walk is keeping me busy.

Sunday, me and my fabulous, funny cousin are going to hang out here. It’s an annual festival but I’ve not gone before. I’ll try to leave a few lobsters for other people. Maybe.

So that’s my weekend. Going to disappear in fun  like mist on a sunny day. But that’s the way of it.

A bon temps roule!

almost out of the woods

Almost out of the lupus woods, but not quite–legs won’t work right, but I’m in much better shape than three months ago–nowhere near as sick. Saturday was a busy day, despite my reluctant legs. Attended my writer’s group meeting and read the first ten pages of 2011’s NANO manuscript; good comments and Lake of the Rose is alive again. Went to an archaeological lecture at the Bowers Museum–intriguing details about mummies like thousands of years ago, before McDonald’s, one of the diseases killing ancient Egyptians was artherosclerosis. Archaeologists use these great big CAT scanners to show the disease in the mummies. Amazing.

But the highlight of Saturday for me  was Warriors, Tombs and Temples also at the Bowers Museum. Finally was able to walk the exhibit. I was a bit disappointed though–expected more stone warriors but what was on show was fabulous.

The writing plan for March:

  • New book: Regency novel, The Serene Widow. Writing Chapter 1.
  • Revise the next ten pages of Lake of the Rose.

fantabulous!

Back from the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego; had a fabulous time! Got to meet one of my favorite writers–Cecelia Holland. The panels were lively, particularly the ones moderated by Ellen Kushner and Elizabeth Bear. I loved the panel on mermaids, undines, and sirens, and took pages of notes at the panels on undersea civilizations, airships, and Lovecraft. The conversation between Connie Willis and Neil Gaiman was a kick to listen to. All in all, it was a good con–the best kind!

Met some wonderful people, made new friends! Of course I’ve come home loaded with books, books, and more books, and I gave my wallet an extra kick by bidding on a painting by Todd Lockwood and winning! Intruder now hangs in my living room.

Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s World Fantasy Award.

I could go on but I must collapse now. Levi has already given me a bite for leaving him alone for 4 days, and tomorrow I’ll be back at the day job thinking longingly of fantasy land.

Oh, before I forget, it’s the eve of Halloween! A perfect time to gift yourself or someone else with some spooky reading–Grave Shadows available at the Kindle store. Buy, read, review–and thank you so much!

sun dolly

A Pompeiian Beauty, Raffaele Giannetti

Discovered where my summer’s been hiding! Palm Springs! Fled the So Cal gloom this weekend to where summer was vacationing! It’s August and I’m still, still wearing my winter stuff, still dragging a sweater around! Palm Springs was a delight for this sun dolly. You know it’s hot when you look down a wide boulevard and see white, the sunlight is so brilliant. It was a busman’s holiday for me though ’cause I was on a photographic mission for Silk River.  I took many photos of the flinty hills, the sun-dried brush, the broad heat-soaked avenues, the ravenous white and blue sky, and miscellaneous desert flora. Have not uploaded the photos yet to the Silk River file, but will post a few here when I do.

Visited the Palm Springs Art Museum, discovered the art of Birger Sandzen,  who immigrated to Kansas from Sweden in the late nineteenth century and became known as the American Van Gogh. His early paintings are pointillistic, the daubs from the tip of the paintbrush much larger than usual, managing to blend and yet float on the canvas like rising dreams. Bold Impressionism marks his later paintings.  His use of brilliant color–pink and yellow, reds, oranges and blues–shape and delineate his skies, his canyon landscapes, the trees, rocks, and hills, giving an abstract quality to realistic subjects, the brushstrokes laid on so thickly the colors even now glow like neon.

Writing-wise, it feels like I’m not getting much done–but really I am.

secrets of the silk road

Leaving home  for my trip to the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, the morning was cool, still, and gray, but at the exhibition’s end, I stepped out into an afternoon turned sunny and warm, and the sky placid blue and fleecy.

The Secrets of the Silk Road exhibition was fascinating. One hundred fifty objects excavated from ancient burial sites along the fabled Silk Road route through western China. The Silk Road was not a single trade route but three major routes linking China with the West. Caravans carrying silk, spices, gold, silver, silk thread, brass, medicine, copper, sugar, and more traversed these routes through places  with fabulously exotic names like Astana, Turfan, Loulan in Lop Nor, Niya, the oasis kingdoms Khotan and Yotkan, Tumshuk and Tokuz Saray, Kucha, a geographical crossroads, Karashahr, Gaochang, Gansu, and Chang’an–as a fantasy writer, these place names make me swoon, reminding me that this world  has been and is a world within worlds.

The exhibition displayed objects recovered from the tombs of the Tarim Basin mummies, a Caucasian people who lived in northwestern China over 3000 years ago. More than 100 Caucasian mummies were found preserved by the desert sands. The highlight of the exhibition for me was “The Beauty of Xiaohe,” a well-preserved mummy of a young Caucasian woman.  For 3800 years, she has lain serene in her boat-shaped coffin, gazing into eternity. Thank you to tibetanaltar for the photo.

Another touching mummy was of a baby with small flat blue stones placed over his eyes; he was swaddled in red wool and buried with a baby bottle of the time, and now I can’t remember what it was made of–goatskin maybe. There were so many beautiful, intriguing and fascinating things–exquisite textiles of silk imprinted with elegant designs, horse blankets of ornately worked wool, felt hats trimmed with fur, beautifully-patterned silk clothing, gold jewelry imbedded with rubies, agates, and turquoises, a bronze cooking pot carried by nomadic people, meticulously decorated game boxes, delicately pierced eye covers, similar to sunglasses but used only  to shield the eyes of the dead, a fabulous gold mask of a man’s face rimmed with rubies, and a figurine of a lovely female dancer excavated from the tomb of a noble couple. She is made of wood, silk, clay, and paper. A fun fact about her is the archaeologists discovered that her arms were made from cancelled pawn tickets from the Tang capital of Chang’an. Old papers were often recycled as material for burial objects. Loved this exhibition!