I tend to write about people who stay put - who live out their lives generation after generation in the same place - who have a strong sense of being rooted, settled, content.
This is at odds with who I am in real life, and who we are as a couple. I am the daughter of a ranch hand, who drifted from place to place and job to job. We had moved seventeen times by the time I hit seventh grade. My husband is a Navy Brat. Still, he was more settled than I. They moved a few times, until his mother, who is a wise woman even at nearly a hundred and one, told her husband she was moving back to Meadville, Pennsylvania, and he could come and visit whenever his ship was in. That worked well for them over the years.
My beloved and I moved locally, as college kids will do when the dump they are living in falls apart. But as far as big moves - six times in forty-seven years. Not bad. However, settled and staid as we have become, the time has come to move. Away from the farm and the endless maintenance, away from the isolation and the endless rain. Closer to services, closer to my husband's childhood friends, closer to golf, tranquil paddling and other recreational possibilities that don't require a level of hardiness we no longer choose to practice.
We've had some snow here - a considerable amount, actually - which is unusual. Pretty stuff. Slick, though. It is going to put us in good stead for our move. Where? Meadville, Pennsylvania. Please come and see us when your ship is in!
Watch for the new Dragonhorse book, CONSCIENCE OF THE KING, which will hit the shelves on June first, just in time for a beach read. Meantime, catch up on the prequels, which are running on our website at dragonhorse.com. Ahimsa, I wish thee peace. SST ... See MoreSee Less
It is spitting snow, but pacing itself. Since it is a good time for indoor activities I thought I'd take this opportunity to remind all of you that there is a whole website devoted to the Dragonhorse books and all things Equi. There are maps and facts and figures, a history of the Dragonhorses, and information about the different races that populate the books.
There are journals from Criollo, who is Teal's son. They were done as a school project for his Education Master, and they give some fascinating insights into everyday life on Equus. There are journals from Ah'ren, who is one of the ancient beings of Mountain hold, and who will figure prominently in Ardenai's life.
There is also a whole set of recipes in there, courtesy of Ah'din, who is Ardenai's sister, Teal's wife, and the mistress of Canyon keep. They are from a series of letters that Ardenai's late wife, Ah'ree, sent to her parents. If you are even slightly clever and a bit of a linguist there are clues in there that will give you her ethnic background. I thought for fun I'd post one of her letters and one of her recipes. I hope you enjoy them. The recipes are all tested, by the way, so you can cook with confidence.
Dearest Amma, I hope all is well with you and Appa. I was concerned when I heard about the big storms you were having on the peninsula, and I wanted to let you know that we had a big one here, as well. The ones here involve a lot of lightning strikes. If they are bad enough the trains stop running, and that’s what happened a few days ago. Nothing was allowed in the air out of Falconstones, and for the first time, I slept alone in my bridal bed – Ardenai was trapped at school with his students. He was away two nights before the storm let up enough for everybody to go home. He says they have fun. They do school work, of course, but in the evening they sing and tell stories and put on plays and at bedtime he makes a big, soft nest on the floor and they all put on their night clothes and pile into it. They cook, too, and he says this is one of his favorite things to make with his students – remember, they’re five and six-year-olds. I cannot imagine trying to cook with ten five-year-olds in tow, but he manages it. He fixed this for me when he got home, and he’s right, it’s very good! I hope you like it! Give my love to Appa. Your Happily Married Daughter, Ah’ree
STUFFED SWEET PEPPERS You will need: One long, sweet red pepper for each person 1 cup brown jasmine rice 2 cups of a rich broth Two sage and apple flavored grain meat sausages ¼ cup chopped pome (apple) ¼ cup finely chopped allium (onion) ¼ cup celery chopped fine 1 cup of freshly grated Mozzarella cheese, plus more for topping. For each serving, slice the top 1/3 off a long, sweet red pepper and clean out the seeds. Sauté the rice, apple, onion and celery in a little butter until the onion is golden and the rice smells fragrant. Add the broth and cover. Simmer for 45 minutes. Chop the sausage fine and sauté it separately in a little oil or butter. When the rice has cooked and cooled just a bit, stir in the sausage and the mozzarella. Pack each pepper, sprinkle with a little extra cheese, and put the top back on. Bake, covered, in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Using a narrow pan like a loaf pan will help keep the peppers upright. This recipe will stuff about a dozen medium sized peppers, but the stuffing is excellent on its own, too. ... See MoreSee Less
Life is a learning curve, some parts steeper than others. I can't imagine how boring it would be not to be learning, but sometimes ... I wish I was learning more for pleasure and less from necessity.
Somehow, I thought the months of research and the years of writing would be the hard part of publishing, but I was wrong. I'm a good researcher and a fair writer - both those things come easily. The technical aspects of the process never cease to amaze and confound me.
We created our own publishing company - Short Horse Press, which took some doing. We worked for months getting this novel in absolutely perfect condition for publication. Again, took some doing and more than a few fights. We got some good reviews prior to release, it looked very professional as a manuscript, and yet ... there it is, lying on the dining room table with its belly up and its warts exposed.
I am currently on completely foreign ground, reading my book in print. I find something a bit wrong or some phrase I'd like to turn just a titch, and my right hand twitches toward the now absent mouse, and I realize there is no delete button. We can change things, certainly, and we are in a POD program, so we're not printing huge lots of books all at once, but we have sold quite a few, and I'm wondering who all is catching the same piddly mistakes I am. All those little apricot colored tabs are places where I want to ask Jeremy, "Whazzat?" "Whyzatt happen?" "What is it going to cost us to change THAT now?"
And at the same time, it's kind of exciting, y'know? I have been writing full length novels for 48 years. Three of them are down in our storage unit next to the horse barn, probably eaten away by mice and mold and time. Two of them are hand-written, pre-computer. And there, on my dining room table is a novel that I wrote. Maybe it doesn't look so bad after all. Ha! Ahimsa, I wish thee peace. SST ... See MoreSee Less
Questions arise, as they always do. "Are you telling us you never draw a character?" I don't think I said that. What I think I said was, I don't inflict my characters on others, nor do I appreciate having others do likewise. Do I draw characters? Yes, I do. This is a picture of Pythos, the old sea dragon who is Ardenai's personal physician. The other picture is a map of Equus. I have drawings of the characters, their houses, the countryside around them. Why? Because it helps me be consistent in my descriptions of people and places. Am I an artist? Absolutely not. Another reason why I do not sport my creations.
Too, my drawings themselves don't stay consistent. When I looked at my original map of Equus, and the one that is current, there are some amazing changes. The map grew with the story.
And ... I LOVE to draw. I'm more into maps and gardens and houses than people, but I find it relaxing. It exercises that part of my brain that makes me deal with math and proportions and logic, which helps me stay in balance as a writer. I can lose myself in drawing, just like I can lose myself in writing. I've tried losing myself in sewing, quilting, cooking ... and it doesn't work for me. I have to stay in the real world every minute or things go much awry.
What do you do that absolutely relaxes you while you use your mind? Do you sketch, do you color, do you cook or plant? What's out there for those of us who enjoy getting lost in creativity? I'd love to hear from you. In answer to last week's question - most of you prefer to draw your own characters in your mind. Some of you like just a glimpse. Some of you enjoy "the full Monte." (In a G rated sense, of course.) Wolf moon eclipse tonight - blood moon! Maybe the coyotes will be out and about to add their voices to the mood. Ahimsa, I wish thee peace. SST ... See MoreSee Less
My editor and I have a strange and wonderful relationship - given mostly to the fact that I am strange and he is wonderful. We have known each other a long time. He was one of my students long ago, and I always admired him. He was loving and giving, and having to be a little too grown-up, given that his dad was struggling with cancer. I remember Jeremy going through that awful test to see if he could donate bone marrow. I remember him baking me a gluten-free pizza back in the days before gluten-free stuff was easy to come by, or gluten intolerance was even a "thing," because he wanted me to be able to eat what everybody else was having at our end of the year Drama class bash. He has gone on to edit a couple of magazines and make his presence felt in the world of writing. Reconnecting with him was what got me past writing and stashing, to writing and publishing. His technical skills are amazing to me, and his artistic ability in using them never ceases to impress.
All this by way of saying that we do not always see eye to eye. (The picture will tell you that.) We argue - a lot sometimes. Having gotten over that uncomfortable hump where teacher becomes student and student becomes teacher, he has been tough on me and my writing. He does not hesitate to tell me where he thinks I am wrong.
One of our biggest arguments stems from his desire that there be pictures of characters. People like to see pictures of that character. No, they do not. I do not. I build that character in my mind's eye, and I find it jarring to see him or her otherwise incarnated. I like to see maps, and drawings of houses, maybe, but not the people. I can tell you for a fact that Aragorn never looked like Viggo Mortenson, and I had a heck of a time getting into the first movie for that reason (and a lot of others I won't go into.)
You guys are readers and largely an erudite lot. What is your take? Do you like to see pictures of characters, or do you like to form those pix in your own mind and have them left alone? Weigh in. This is not a contest, by the way, and no one wins or loses - I just want to know for my own edification.
Remember, GLORY DAYS is now available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the usual outlets. Ahimsa, I wish thee peace! SST ... See MoreSee Less