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Writing Ruminations

Writing is such an internal process. Why not make those private ruminations public? This is how stories take shape and grow.

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Location: Happy Valley, Oregon, United States

I've been supporting myself as a writer for many years and am watching the changes in the publishing world with fascination. For me, sharing the craft, teaching, is as creatively satisfying as the writing process itself.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Seattle Signing...Next in Cyrillic?

I had a lovely time in Seattle, signing with Louise Marley at University Books. The best thing was the weather. It was not snowing or doing freezing rain or even regular rain. So it was actually a nice drive. And I came home to some very nice fan mail, including a request to purchase reprint rights to 'Search Engine' my Analog story from last year, for 'Esli', a Russian SF magazine. I'm thrilled. That expands the 'other languages' portion of my bookshelf. I don't have any Russian reprints yet. (Polish, German, and French, so far).

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Winter News Writ in Snow

One of the things I love about snow -- when we get it -- is my chance to step into my dogs' world and read the morning news with them. Usually I watch as they criss cross the field and hedgerow, following this invisible trial, pausing to carefully consider this spot on the ground that has no meaning to me. Wishing I could ask them to translate. I track with them, so I have a conversational knowledge of Scent News, but I can't do the complex vocabulary. But this morning, ah, the newspaper was written for all of us. Now I, too, can read that coyote's hunting last night and see exactly where the resident rabbits came out from the shelter of the blackberry tangles to nibble on bark and twigs. The coyote had done her best (I think she's a she, judging by the size of her tracks and the way she and my rottie bitch cuss each other out at night. She doesn't talk to the boys that way) to find her way in to that protected bit of dinner and my dogs and I followed in her footsteps. The thorns had done their job, though, and she left disappointed. Then we found the small circular patch of scuffed snow and a bit of churned up earth. The tuft of reddish fur told more, along with the lack of coyote tracks. Redtail and fox squirrel, life for one at the expense of the other? I don't think it was an owl, the scuffed space was redtail-sized and the gnawed flakes of a fir cone on the nearby fence post filled in the rest of the story. The redtail has been hanging out here this winter and the squirrel traffic in my bird feeder has diminished accordingly.

Later on today, we'll go back in the woods and read some more news. The deer hang out there, so we'll go find their beds from last night and see what they're eating. I bet they came up to the stock tank to drink this morning -- it has a heater in it, so the water is above freezing. Usually I get to read this news second hand, watching my dogs follow that invisible writing, filling in with what hints I get from where the trails take them. Today, I get to read, too.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Good Real Tired

I'm tired. Really tired. Reality and creativity collided last night and I'm still kind of bruised. Been stuck on the current novel with the knowledge that I need something more here but it's hiding back in my hindbrain somewhere. And I had a herding lesson today, worth driving way north for. But it's VERY cold so that means...me with no central heating...that I have to get up early enough to get a good bed of coals in the woodstove so that I can bank a couple of big hawthorn snags in there to keep the temp reasonable until I get home. So I go to bed and get waked up at 3 Am by ...the answer. Think Pygmalion, polar bears with northern-lights hair, and old norse gods. Needless to say, I was annoying my dogs, scribbling notes, and half-dreaming dialogue until the pre-crack of dawn Time of Doing Warm Things arrived. So I got up and did the fire and went out to spend the day talking canine to dogs about sheep ( in the FREEZING wind I am still cold). And the tired is SO worth it, such a blend of physical and creative-brain, and winter.

But I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hard cold

Gonna be our first hard cold tonight. Hard cold? That's the cold where you have to really think about things -- if you have livestock and that kind of stuff. Put the tank heater into the old bathtub that waters the sheep and bless electricity for not having to haul buckets and buckets of water in the AM (done that, too, when a stock tank heater was too expensive to afford...as my sons will attest. Winter Chores 101). Filled up the mangers because food is heat for animals. Oh, I'm so pleased. David (my 75 year old sheep herder buddy) and I scored on some gorgeous third cutting alfalfa for 'cheap'. Nobody wants 150 lb bales. Two of us can stack 'em. We're flush with feed!

Put the little space heater set on low-low in the old trailer that is my 'root cellar'. That'll keep my squash, onions, and garlic, and other roots from freezing if it gets down to 20 as they predict. Picked all the rest of the kiwi fruit and cabbage today. Brussels sprouts are tough, so are the chinese greens, kale, collard, and chard still out in the garden. The carrots, turnips, and beets will come through okay, although better for soup than for fresh after a hard freeze. Oh well. Plenty of wood. That's the basic, isn't it? Heat and food? All those hours cutting, splitting, hauling, stacking feel so golden now. As I walk into a warm house and thaw out. (Boy they didn't feel 'golden' as I was sweating and swinging, let me tell you!)

I said a prayer for the folks out without a roof tonight...under the bridges or cooking meth up on Powell Butte. Said it to all the gods. Because it is hard to be cold. No matter why.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Deferred Rant...to music no less!

Well, I was going to rant about the new diet pills for dogs, but you know what? I think I'll let the Helsinki Complaints Chorus do it for me. I first ran into them back before Thanksgiving and have emailed this link to many people. Suddenly I am hearing references to this all over. Several other complaints choruses have been started globally. I think we need on here.

We all need to complain. For a particularly musical version, click on this link and be sure to read the subtitles....although 'It's Not Fair!' sounds much better in Finnish.



Friday, January 05, 2007

Clone Burgers Anyone?

I had to roll my eyes at the FDA's official ruling that 'cloned meat is meat'. Duh. Considering that a clone is nothing more than an identical twin. The idea that cloning an animal might provide an economically feasible meat or milk animal is kind of silly. It is much cheaper to let Bully cover Bossie out in the pasture and eat the calf or drink her milk later on. It's not even likely that the genetic attributes of a prize bull would be worth enough to pay for cloning him when you can simply save a half million straws of his semen in liquid Nitrogen. Some of those syndicated bulls have thousands of offspring on the ground as it is.

However, I do wonder if this 'clones are safe meat' ruling is going to apply to cloned tissue cultures. I could see hamburger that comes not from those worn-out-at-two-years-old dairy cows but rather from a large vat growing a thick slab of beef muscle tissue. No feed issues, no manure to contaminate the watershed, no barn to build, no flies. Just grow it, grind it up, package it, and send it off to the supermarket. Gee, you could eliminate e Coli and mad cow disease with a few quick tests. Micky D of the future? Of the near future? Of the VERY near future?