Thursday, May 31, 2018

In lieu of anything original...'s a copy of my post for today. The current book is zipping along at such speed that I hardly have time to be opinionated about anything in the news, much less write it down.


“I feel my very existence threatened,” the Sila said.

Mr. M. cast a sardonic eye on the space she claimed to occupy. “How is that new? You’re only a shadow of smokeless flame anyway.”

“I can manifest myself to mortals,” she snapped, rapidly flashing into view as a beautiful almost-human woman, a serpent with flames flickering along its scales, and a cloud of blue smoke. “And at least I’m not limited to one form. Don’t you ever get tired of slithering around as a metal snake attached to an ugly turtle head?”

“They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground, They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound,” Mr. M. quoted, loftily ignoring the insult.

“Your Kipling obsession gets old very quickly,” said the Sila.

“Illiterate djinn! That was Chesterton. And he goes on to describe much what your current master is demanding: ‘And chase the Giaours flying, night and day, not giving rest, For that which is our trouble comes again out of the West.’”

“Well, I won’t be chasing anybody if your progenitor doesn’t stop reading her reviews. The most recent one complained about her introduction of one non-human creature – that would be you. Now she’s wondering how that reader will feel when he meets a Hindu God and an Islamic Djinn.”

“The Master of Ravens was only an imitation of the god Shani,” Mr. M. corrected her.

“Details, details. I tell you, she’s on the verge of deleting me from the book!”

“Oh, don’t get your flames in a flare-up. She isn’t that fragile. If anything, she will end up even more determined to give you a major role.”

“You’re sure?”

“She isn’t that stupid, either. She knows she cannot delete me; I’ve been with her since the first book of the series. And you are safe too.”

“I am?”

“Annoying though you are, you are integral to the plot.”

The Sila’s flames flickered in sinuous, winding patterns. “So I am. I am also the most interesting character in the book, and by far the most beautiful. All the same, I wish she would not get all wobbly over the slightest little criticism.”

“So do I,” Mr. M. sighed, “but trust me, she will get over it. I fear such insecurity is in the nature of writers. In the old days it was easier to persuade them not to read their reviews.”

“It was?”

“Oh, yes. All one needed to do was point out how expensive subscriptions to Publishers’ Weekly and Kirkus Reviews were. Now writers can check their reviews on Amazon daily for free.”

“Perhaps,” the Sila suggested, “we should offer a protective service.”


“We will look at the Amazon reviews daily and send an email summary to the writer whenever there’s something new. That way we can tactfully gloss over anything that might upset her.”

“Good idea, but she’ll never buy it. You wouldn’t believe how paranoid that woman is about forking over her email address!”

“Do you have an email address?”

“Naturally. What about you?”



“Hotmail, obviously.” The flames gusted up and died down; the Sila had departed.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The best thing in life

The main character in the Applied Topology books would say it's the exhilarating experience of teleporting through the in-between. Her sidekick would take Churchill's position: "Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result."
I think I've got them both beat, though sometimes I lose the thread for a little while.
It’s been a somewhat trying couple of weeks. Hence the failure to post; I’m not a nice person when in pain, and something – probably a period of rapid changes from cool to hot to cool, with rain and sun alternating – has given my arthritis new power to overwhelm. It even interfered with writing for a few days, because suddenly it was painful to sit with the laptop in the room I’ve been using and I have had to find a different setup.
So… I’ve been feeling sorry for myself and whining nonstop, until this morning I realized that it was way past time to count my blessings.
During the worst of the pain I couldn’t concentrate enough to write, but it didn’t stop me gazing besottedly at my new, beautiful granddaughter or exchanging funny memes with her mother.
And in the four days since I found a new writing setup, I’ve crashed into A Mask of Djinn full speed and have knocked out four chapters.
That I actually like.
And there is nothing, nothing, like the high of telling a new story. How lucky is that? I’ve got this thing I do that makes me happy and that I can continue to do despite increasing physical limitations. Sometimes other people actually like it too and tell me so. (Two new Amazon reviews for A Pocketful of Stars certainly contribute their share to the present euphoria.)
So, onward and upward. (And pass the aspirin.)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Joy in the morning

I try not to embarrass the offspring by posting details of their personal lives on this blog, but today I can't contain myself. Yesterday the Organizer presented us with our first granddaughter! (Oh, all right, I suppose her husband had a little to do with it too. But she certainly did the heavy lifting.)

This pregnancy has not been without problems and complications; I feel as if I'd just let out a breath I've been holding for the last four months. I have a healthy daughter and a healthy granddaughter. The baby is currently ticked off about having been expelled from a nice warm place with all the conveniences, but I expect that won't last. And her older brother is thrilled about finally getting to see his little sister - although that may not last once they get home and he discovers that this interloper is keeping him out of Mommy's lap.

Life. On the whole, I approve of it.

And in thirteen years I plan to move into the Organizer's living room, draw up a rocking chair and watch as she discovers the joy of dealing with a teenage daughter.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A celebratory snippet

The paperback edition of A Pocketful of Stars is live and linked to the Kindle edition! And I'm celebrating by posting another snippet demonstrating that the rest of the Mathematical Mafia isn't any easier to deal with than Thalia....


“You can do teleportation.” His blue eyes pinned me like a bug in his collection. “Telekinesis.” Ingrid got the treatment. “Invisibility.” Back to Ben. “You people can be very useful to me. You’re just trying to wriggle out of it.”
“Ingrid,” I said wearily, “would you bring something over from the coffee cabinet?”
She closed her eyes and moved her lips soundlessly. There was a furious jiggling in the condiments rack; then a plastic stir stick dropped on the table in front of her.
“Thank you. Now how about a sugar packet?”
This took longer. Eventually a pinch of brown sugar fell onto the table.
“Ingrid can’t move an entire sugar packet,” I explained to Lensky. “It’s too heavy. The best she could do was to move a little sugar out of the packet.”
“Without tearing it!” The man was determined to be impressed. I soldiered on.
“If you’d like, I can go to my office and get the plastic pieces I use for set selections, and you can verify that they too aren’t very heavy.” I wasn’t eager to demonstrate the measly six to twenty-four inches that constituted my current teleportation range, so I tried to focus his attention on the accidental telekinesis that started this whole thing.
“Poker chips,” Lensky said, “and Darth Vader. And other action figurines.”
I was surprised. He flashed a tight smile. “What, you think I’m totally unobservant? Noticing things like that is in my job description. And even granting you have some limitations, you people can make yourselves useful. I want a look inside one of our suspects’ computers. A man called Raven Crowson. I don’t have enough for a warrant. But you should be able to get access by changing bits inside the computer. Little, light things moving very tiny distances. Piece of cake, right?”
What did he think we were, computer nerds? “Wrong! To do that, we’d have to have a detailed image of how a computer works.”
“You’re math majors, don’t you already know all that stuff?”
“We’re pure mathematicians,” I tried to explain. Naturally, that meant nothing to him.
“So that means what? I need to find some slightly sullied math majors? Some who’ve already lost their virginity? Or do I need to sully you… personally?” He gave me a slow once-over, obviously trying to embarrass me. I did not blush. Well, not very much.
“Clean up your act!” Ingrid snapped. “She just meant, you’d have to talk to applied mathematicians for this.”
“Actually, I don’t think that’s going low enough.” Ben joined the argument. “He might need a computer science major.”
“These days, they’ve gone all theoretical. He really needs an… engineer.” Ingrid looked as if she wanted to wash her mouth out with bleach after using the E-word.
“And there’s no way anybody in engineering could visualize abstractions well enough to do applied topology,” I finished. “So you see, it’s not possible to make this work.”
“Sure it is. I’ll get somebody who understands computer architecture and they can explain it to you, then you guys can do the voodoo part. Or are you just giving me the runaround because you actually can’t do anything at all with your so-called magic?”
“We do not,” Ingrid said icily, “call it magic. Boris.”
“And you were just arguing that we could do more than we were admitting! Can’t you even stay on the same side of your own arguments?” I’d begun a slow burn when he tried to embarrass me, and this contradiction turned up the flame. “You ignorant, intellectually challenged imbecile, can’t you even follow a simple logical argument without holding onto the rope with both hands? It’s not our job to educate a dysfunctional kindergartener.”
I had more to say along those lines, but “Boris” had tilted his chair back and was laughing. “Go on,” he urged. “How many more polysyllabic insults can you come up with?”
“For you,” I said, “I’d better stick with insults of one syllable. Try this: If you want a big bang, you don’t need us, you need a gun!”
He pushed his coat lapels back. “That, I’ve got.”
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