Showing posts from November, 2006

Anthropology: Pig Herding of the Tsembaga

"Small numbers of pigs are easy to keep. They run free during the day and return home at night to receive their ration of garbage and substandard tubers, particularly sweet potatoes. Supplying the latter requires little extra work, for ths substandard tubers are taken from the ground in the course of the harvesting the daily ration for humans. Daily consumption records kept over a period of some months show that the ration of tubers received by the pigs approximates in weight that consumed by adult humans, i.e., a little less than three pounds per day per pig. "If the pig herd grows large, however, the substandard tubers incidentally obtained in the course of harvesting for human needs become insufficient, and it becomes necessary to harvest especially for pigs. "...The work involved in caring for a large pig herd can be extremely burdensome. The Tsembaga herd just prior to the pig festival of 1962-63, when it numbered 169 animals, was receiving 54 per cent of all the sw

"I'm a Short Story now, but what I really want to be is a Novel."

Some authors prefer writing short stories. Some prefer novels. I'm a novel girl myself. I tend to ramble too much for shorts (although writing flash fiction is excellent discipline for me). And besides, once I create a world sufficiently interesting that I want to spend the time of a short story there, I'm inclined to stay long enough for a novel to unfold. Unfortunately, it's difficult to convince an agent or a publisher to take a chance on a novel if the author has no previous publishing record. Thus having a few short stories published first is a good career move. This created a conundrum for me. I peeked at what other authors had done. Take Mercedes Lackey. She had a series of loosely connected stories set in her Valdemar universe. This allowed her to publish shorts in anthologies such as Sword & Sorceress. The same characters reappeared in each story, using the same world as her novels. Or how about Phillip Dick. Many of his short stories later turn up bundled toge

Excerpt from "Portrait of a Pretender"

“You were always a moody one, Othy,” said Forthia. “Even as a child. A stray child, mother called you, last born, when she thought her time for bearing past. You were born the same year Arnthom married Tulthana, and during all the years they tried and failed to conceive a babe of their own, Arnthom would pat you on the head and promise you his throne. It was a blow to you when Drajorian was born. Suddenly you went from heir apparent to being packed off to a lonely school on a distant moor.” “It was a relief to me, not a burden, to be spared the throne, Forthia,” Othmordian said. “And as for the school, that was my request as well. I wanted to study magic. And I first went when I was thirteen, three years after Drajorian’s birth.” “Yes,” Forthia said, “I know. After you tried to kill him.” Othmordian frowned. “No one told me,” she said. “I have my ways of knowing.” “So I have discovered,” he said dryly. “If you were willing to kill your nephew when he was but a toddler, how much more so

Cover Art for "Portrait of a Pretender"

Amazon does the cover design for the Shorts, but here is a hypothetical cover for "Portait of a Pretender."


I belong to a writer's discussion and critique group, the Online Writing Workshop . (Long ago, when I first joined, it was the Dell Rey Online Writing Workshop, but that's a story for another time.) I've added the link to my sidebar for your edification. To any aspiring sf/f/h writers out there--I highly recommend it. The discussion on the OWW list today concerned anti-heroes. What distinguishes an anti-hero from a villian? Is an anti-hero just a hero with a few flaws (boastfulness, bashfulness, bad acne)? Or does he do truly reprehensible things (lie, cheat, steal, kill, rape), but somehow is redeemed by other aspects of his character or actions in the plot? Because of our love affair with rebels and the glamour of rebellion, I think we often mistakenly call a hero with flaws an "anti-hero" to increase his mystique. A regular old hero sounds stuffy. What, a person who tries their best to be good all the time? Yawn. I think that comes from a mistaken impression a

Amazon Shorts Program

I applied to the Amazon Shorts program, and was pleased to receive this response from one of their editors: [Tara], fantastic story -- apologies for the length of time it took to respond, but I hope I can make it up to you by letting you know that I am thrilled to admit you to the program. So I'm in! I sent off the paperwork this morning. Whatever is the deal with Amazon Shorts? It's a fairly new program. According to SFWA, the list of authors who have given it a shot is fairly impressive.

Exciting News from Brink World

"Portrait of a Pretender," the sequel to "Drawn to the Brink," may soon be published as an Amazon Short! I'll have more news and an excerpt later...

Cognitive Science: The Last Chance

"During the World Cup soccer tournament in Japan in 2002, the match between Ireland and Germany went into several minutes of extra 'injury' time. The score was 1-0 to Germany, and Ireland's hopes of getting into the semifinals seemed to be finished. Then at the eleventh hour, Robbie Keane scored a goal. For every Irish fan who watched the match there could be no doubt: the striker had saved Ireland's World Cup hopes. The previous hour and a half of skill and luck, good or bad, of a team of trained professionals seemed as nothing compared to the single final stroke. Did Keane really save the day? The question illustrates a curious feature of human thought. In a temporal sequence of events, people zoom in on the most recent one." --Ruth M.J. Byrne, The Rational Imagination: How People Create Alternatives to Reality p. 157.

Padding the Ole' Blog or "Where I Get My Ideas"

As much as I would like to have every daily entry in my blog be an announcement of yet another publication, that ain't gonna happen. But I don't want this to be a boring blog, with no entries for months on end. That leaves padding the ole' blog with some fluff. (Ahem.) Did I say fluff? I meant insight, deep and profound insight into where I, as an author, find inspiration for my stories. I will put up bits of history, philosophy, science and so on that are quirky and throught-provoking. If it gives you an idea for a story, please feel welcome to explore it!

Dredging Lake Id

I'm dredging the lake of my subconscious for story ideas for NoNoMo (which I really shouldn't even be doing). I may fish out one of the old ideas that have been swimming around in Lake Id.

History: The Villac Vmu of Peru

"At the head of all, both here and throughout the land, stood the great High-Priest, or Villac Vmu, as he was called. He was second only to the Inca in dignity, and was usually chosen from his brothers or nearest kindred. He was appointed by the monarch, and held his office for life; and he, in turn, appointed all the subordinate stations of his own order. This order was very numerous. Those members of it who officiated in the House of the Sun, in Cuzco, were taken exclusively from the sacred race of the Incas." --Gorgeous Temples, The Conquest of Peru, p. 783

National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month and I've been trying to decide if I should sign up. I have several novels that are in the revisions stage, a far less alluring state to be in than a shiny new novel. For me finishing a novel is much more difficult than writing 50,000 words of a new one. I therefore intend to resist the pull of writing a new book. Oh no! I feel it pulling me in! Agh! Temptation too strong...can't resist... Must write new book...

Ten Word Flash Fiction

I was going to post excerpts from my story Public Eye, but when a story is so short, an "excerpt" becomes rather ridiculous, doesn't it? So as an alternative, I'll write another, even shorter flash fiction piece, just for you! This one is less than ten words! *** The sun supernovaed. "Well," said Dr. Trobinsky. "That didn't work." ***

Flash Fiction in Winged Halo

My flash sf story "Public Eye" is in Winged Halo! You can go to Winged Halo and vote on which of the stories you think is best.

Brink World

There are some cultures that believe that to take a picture of a person captures that person's soul. This was the starting point of my Drawn To The Brink story, found in WomanScapes . The premises of the magic: * Drawing something can create that thing in the real world, but... * sunset (if it was drawn during the day) or by sunrise (if it was drawn at night) the object disappears again * Drawing a real person can capture that person's soul, binding that person to the artist's will; this is forbidden * Drawing an imaginary person does not create a real person, it creates an automoton; nonetheless it's forbidden, because... *...of the temptation to create a brink a magical drawing that can "cross the brink" and remain in existance beyond sunset and sunrise * for a brink can only be made by sacrificing the soul of a real person to free it from the canvas

Excerpt from "Drawn to the Brink"

She could have drawn herself a dress of crimson silk, sewn with buckles and bells of gold and a tall moon shaped hat to match. However, Sajiana preferred the anonymity provided by her ragged, rugged, real travel clothes. She tromped through the town, whistling, past villagers dressed no better than she, ignoring and ignored. She had a string in one hand, a scrib and a slip of blank paper in the other. A close observer would have seen that the string did not dangle from her hand, but poked its’ head out this way and that, gently tugging at her fingers. These were the tugs that led her ever closer to the brink. The string suddenly jerked her quite hard toward an alley along the cheesemonger’s street. Sajiana looked up and met the eyes of a startled young man. His hair tousled about his head all unruly. His eyes were huge in his face, haunted. His lips pressed together under hungry cheeks. Strange that in all this time since he had escaped from the twixtening, he had not used his consid

Drawn to the Brink

My short story, "Drawn to the Brink" can be found in an anthology of speculative fiction, WomanScapes. It's available from The profits from this anthology go the international Red Cross. Where else can you read about kick-ass heroines and help tug-on-your-heart, big eyed, adorable Tsunami orphans at the same time? You'll acrue so much good karma buying this book, that I strongly advise you to buy a lottery ticket the same day.* WomanScapes *Author not responsible for results of lottery.

first step into the land of fog

In general, I'm a private person, but I'm going to experiment with this blog to discuss my writing projects as they progress.