Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Soon to be Published in 50 Haikus


I just got an acceptance letter for a poem I submitted to 50 Haikus.  It's from my oh-so-creatively named series, "Haikus Written on the Train."  I wrote it...you'll never guess...while on a train.  I'd just returned to my beautiful Czechia for the third time, and the scenery was pulling poetry out of me right and left.  This one, "Gold," is probably the most serious of them all.  

My issue (#16) isn't published yet, but meanwhile, you can check out 50 Haikus' website:   https://50haikus.com/

Monday, June 8, 2020

Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas


Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas is one of the few books I've ever found of this rare and wonderful genre that I don't even have a name for:  a pseudo-medieval setting, an imaginative culture, royalty…and no magic!!!!  No magical creatures or time travel or vampires.  I love fantasy, but I also a good non-fantasy fantasy.  It allows great world-building without letting the characters depend on magic to save the day (or ruin the day).  To me, it's one beautiful permutation of how the child of fantasy and historical fiction would look.  

I love to read this non-fantasy fantasy genre, on the rare occasions when I find it, and I also love to write it.  The very first novel I wrote--my so-far-unpublished baby--is this genre.  One day maybe it will see the light of day.  

Anyway, enough gushing on the genre.

As for this particular novel, I really enjoyed it.  The queen was a scientist!  Awesome.  Throughout the whole novel I was wondering who our main character could trust.  Awesome.  The story wasn't very violent.  I mean, there was a mass murder by poisoning at the beginning, but the main characters tried—and often succeeded—in solving their problems without violence.  Awesome!  At the end, the queen had to decide what to do with a gray character:  show mercy and weakness or show strength and cause more bloodshed.  I find that what often happens in novels is that the problem character conveniently dies or something, so the main character doesn't have to be merciless OR weak.  Not so here.  Our MC actually made a decision.  Awesome. 

I did think some of the science and politics felt a big simplistic and easily solved.  Like, how did they manage never to fight in this kingdom?  Especially with bad leadership and unhappy people?  And what about other kingdoms who might take advantage of their defenselessness?  But these weren't big issues that affected my enjoyment.

Some readers might think it a tad slow, because there wasn't a ton of really actiony action.  But for readers like me, the pacing was perfect. 

The writing was good, the characters interesting.

I absolutely recommend it and will soon read Rhiannon Thomas' other books.

Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5



Saturday, May 30, 2020

The New Kid by Jerry Craft



In all honesty, graphic novel aren't my favorite storytelling medium, but I'm trying to expand my horizons. This graphic novel for kids was recommended, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it.  

The story and characters were interesting, the format really worked, the illustrations were great, and I really liked the glimpses of the main character's actual artwork and cartoons.  I found it quite funny in places, and quite thought-provoking in others.

Personal enjoyment:  solid 4 stars

What I imagine a real fan of this genre of graphic novels might think:  4.5 or 5 stars

Find it on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/New-Kid-Jerry-Craft/dp/0062691201

The author, Jerry Craft, does some cool Youtube videos, like blindfold drawing.  Check it out:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DluRrU1Lp6k



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Ironwood and saguaro blossoms

May is time for lovely lavender Ironwood blossoms in the Sonoran Desert.  These were taken on May 13 in the Phoenix areas.  I could hear some of the trees before I saw them, because the bees love the blossoms so much.  The saguaros were also blooming.  A lovely time of year...if it weren't also so hot.  

A close-up of the ironwood flowers

Saguaro blossoms.  Each flower blooms only for night and into the next day.  

You can see where the wash is from all the purple blossoms in a line.  
Bigger trees like ironwoods tend to follow water.  

Here's the wash.  Dry of course.  

Such a lovely, delicate color.  And so very full of bees.  
  

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Jungle Cat

Here's a pick from my recent safari.  
Pretty scary, isn't it?  Looks like she's ready to jump down and maul me.  
I'm lucky I escaped with my life.  


Except...it's still COVID-19 lockdown.  This was a safari to the yard.  And that's my Mama Kitty.  She IS actually a bit dangerous.  She's lovey-dovey if it's her idea, but if you try to pet her otherwise, you might get claws or teeth in your skin.  You certainly will get a fearsome hiss. 
 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Buzz Sting Bite by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson



I really enjoyed this.  It was well-written and fascinating, accessible to the interested layperson but also scientific enough to be a serious book. 

It was also depressing.  We need to take better care of our planet! 

I admit that—rather shallowly—my favorite parts were the juicy little tidbits about fascinating insects.  But the more weighty parts about insects' usefulness to us and their importance in the ecosystem and their sad fate were also very interesting and important. 

Very, very interesting book.  Highly recommended.

4.5 Stars!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Hiraeth Publishing and my Short Story


Hiraeth Books is going to publish my short story, "Stashed Away," in their September 2020 sci-fi anthology. The working title is "Martian Wave." I'm excited to read it.

If your quarantine reading stack is getting low, check out their other offerings: https://www.hiraethsffh.com/