Award-winning author
Unusual times, remarkable places

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

27 November 2013

99¢ sale on Hadley Rille Books' ebooks

Check out Hadley Rille Books' new Website—and new spec fic books—at All ebooks are 99¢ for the next week.

13 November 2013

The city in winter

I love cities. One of my favorite events as a child was when, near Christmas, my mother drove my sister and me into Dayton and parked at the end of the trolley line near a pink house, and we would ride to downtown Dayton to do our Christmas shopping and look at the Christmas displays in department store windows.

Steve Morgan, photographer. 
Used under a Creative Commons 
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license 
Dayton was one of a handful of cities that did not succumb to pressure from bus manufacturers in the 1950s to get rid of its streetcar system. I've lived in two of the other cities that held out as well: Philaldephia and New Orleans.

Over the years, I've lived in some great cities: Philadelphia, where I first ate Indian food and rode Amtrak; Chicago, where I first experienced cabin fever and felt as if I'd accomplished something great when spring finally arrived in late May and I had not frozen to death; Washington, D.C., with its fantastic zoo, the cherry blossoms each spring, and too many museums to visit them all in five years; and New Orleans, the city of my heart, the first and only place I ever felt completely at home.

Of cities I've visited on business (mine or my husband's), two stand out as remarkable. Beautiful, friendly Istanbul quickly became one of my favorite places. We never once had a bad meal there—or even a mediocre one. I hope someday to return and stay for a year or two.

Bordeaux took longer to enchant me; unseasonably chilly, rainy weather disrupted our month there. Still, I walked and took the tram all over. With the help of guidebooks I learned about its interesting history and discovered good museums, nifty shops, and many remnants of medieval architecture.

So I'm excited that I have been invited to contribute to a 2014 anthology called Winter in the City ... if it gets funded. Right now, editor Marty Halpern and project coordinator R.B. Wood are running a Kickstarter project to fund the anthology. Authors who've been invited to submit include Harry Turtledove, Jude-Marie Green, Ken Liu, Lezli Robin, Bradley Beaulieu, Nick Mamatas,  and Teresa Frohock.

If you'd like to help this project succeed, you can find the Kickstarter project at

Here is Halpern and Wood's vision for the anthology:

Noisy, crowded, ever in motion, the City is an unrecognized character in Urban Fantasy. Much more than just a setting, the City is the ever-present constant companion to the characters in the genre. Sometimes antagonist, sometime protagonist, the city surrounds and engulfs a good Urban Fantasy yarn. 
Winter in the City: A Collection of Urban Fantasy Tales will be a celebration of stories that take place in different cities around the world during the bleak—sometimes harsh—season of winter.

There will be an open call for submissions after the invited submissions have been received and their fates decided. So if the anthology reaches its Kickstarter funding goal, you'll have a chance to submit a story too—and the anthology will pay pro rates (≥7¢/word).

28 October 2013

Introducing Celatu, hero of ICE MAGIC, FIRE MAGIC

As I've mentioned before, Hadley Rille Books will be publishing my fantasy novel Ice Magic, Fire Magic later this fall.

As a teaser,  DelSheree Gladden will be posting a letter from the hero, Celatu, to his aunt today at

This letter is not in the novel itself, but is a bonus for interested people. It will give you an idea of what Celatu values as well as a hint of the troubles facing the land of Veridia.


23 October 2013

Interview with novelist Vasant Davé

Today my guest is Vasant Davé, whose first novel, Trade Winds to Meluhha, is set in Bronze Age Mesopotamia and India.

Welcome, Vasant! I am so glad to meet someone else who is interested in writing about the world's most ancient civilizations in a historically accurate way.

Thank you for providing me this opportunity, Shauna. I am delighted to communicate with the readers of your blog.

How did you first hear of Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq)? Of Meluhha (ancient Indus River Valley)? What attracted you to these ancient civilizations?

Shauna, I'm embarrassed to admit that I was ignorant of Indus Valley civilization till I came to India for higher education. You see, my parents had migrated from India to East Africa before World War II. I was born and schooled in Kenya, where the focus of History was on the British Empire.

For a long time, I was under the impression that Indus Valley civilization had flourished only around the archaeological sites named Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, both of which are in Pakistan. Once, while on a holiday with my family, I visited the Government Museum at Chennai. As we came out, my attention was drawn by a booklet carrying black and white photographs. Entitled Lothal, it was written by S. R. Rao, a renowned Indian archaeologist. I was amazed to learn that Lothal was an Indus Valley civilization site located in India. However, more shocking was the fact that it was in Gujarat, the state in which I had been living for almost two decades.

The booklet mentioned that during the Bronze Age, ships from Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf called at Lothal. That's what triggered my interest in these two ancient civilizations.

Why did you choose to write accurately about Mesopotamia and Meluhha, when most novelists writing about these places have just made things up?

An author's approach depends on the type of readers s/he wishes to address. Some authors have connected the Indus Valley with the occult because they target an audience similar to the readers of Harry Potter. Others have connected it with Hindu mythology. They cater to the tastes of young IT-savvy Indians who have gleaned knowledge of the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata from commercial TV rather than from their grandparents as my generation did.

I wished to address those readers who enjoyed a feeling of travelling back in time while reading fiction based on Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Since Indus Valley culture existed during the same period in history, I thought I would succeed in catering to their taste.   

Did your training as an engineer have any influence on your novel or your approach to writing it?

Yes, I was naturally attracted to the Bronze Age “engineers” who did town planning, built ports (and forts), harvested rain water, built underground drainage, and used micro-tools to manufacture jewelry.

My training also motivated me to base the narrative on archaeological evidence. Once the manuscript was ready, I requested several professionals in the field for their opinion. Dr. Shereen Ratnagar, an expert on both of the ancient cultures, agreed to read it with a clear understanding that she would comment only on the veracity and plausibility of the past situation as constructed in it. Her suggestions made it necessary to rewrite substantial portions, but they helped tremendously to make Trade Winds to Meluhha believable.

Did growing up in Kenya or living as an adult in various places in Asia influence your perspective on the ancient world?

My birthplace, Mombasa, had two ports, old and new. Wooden lateen-sailed ships called dhows anchored at the Old Port. Utilizing the monsoon winds, they travelled between East Africa and Arabia. They held special attraction to me when I was a schoolboy.

During WWII, all expatriates in British East Africa sent their families to the countries of their origin. After the War, it was very difficult to book a ticket on the only steamship that plied between India and East Africa. In her hurry to get back home, my mother boarded a lateen-sailed dhow with my two elder sisters who were just kids at the time. Somewhere in the Indian Ocean, they faced a storm, and then the wind stopped blowing for several days, thus bringing the dhow to a standstill. My mother used to narrate the harrowing experience quite vividly.

When I related that incident with the reed ships travelling between Indus Valley and Mesopotamia, my respect grew for those ancient mariners.

What was your favorite part of writing Trade Winds to Meluhha?

It was the field research, during which I visited archaeological sites and museums. As I did so, many questions popped up in my mind. When I tried to find answers, I visualized new turns and twists that could be included in the plot.

Are there certain themes or topics you're drawn to as a writer?

Yes, I am drawn to the cultural heritage of the entire South Asian region, which has many useful things to give to the world. Take, for instance, the phonetic script. Each of the languages spoken in this region is written in a script that standardizes the representation of oral sounds.

Just imagine that if English were a phonetic script, words like “schedule” would be pronounced in the same way by the English and the Americans. How simple it would have been for Microsoft to convert e-books to audio books! It was comparatively recently that the International Phonetic Alphabet, the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, and the Americanist Phonetic Notation have addressed the issue.

The ancient South Asians who developed phonetic scripts ought to have been superintelligent. Therefore, I think it worth studying the archaeological remnants of their culture to create absorbing historical fiction.  

Do you have any advice for people who are working on their first novels?

Having written just one novel, I don't consider myself eligible to advise others working on their first novels. However, I'd share with them my experience and hope that it helps.

Having a clear idea about how I wanted my novel to end saved me a lot of time and effort. Initially I outlined the storyline in just fifty words or so. Then I went building upon it for several pages till I could split the contents under several chapter headings. Thereafter, each chapter started evolving, sometimes on its own momentum.

Your readers might like my e-booklet entitled How I Wrote a Pre-Historic Novel. It can be downloaded free from  

Do you have plans for another novel?

Yes, I wish to write another novel in which the action takes place in the Indus Valley and Ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to find adequate evidence of direct links between those two cultures.

Thank you, Vasant, for your time, and best wishes on your writing endeavors.

It's my pleasure, Shauna. I'd love to receive feedback from the esteemed readers of your blog.

You can learn more about Vasant Davé and Trade Winds to Meluhha by visiting his Website at His ebook is available online for Kindle at and for Nook at Barnes and Noble. For other options, visit

Vasant is having a blog tour this week. Please consider visiting his other stops and entering his contest, which is below his blog tour schedule.

Monday, 21 October

1.   Book Review at Momma Says Read A blog providing nontraditional book reviews.

2.   Book Review by Kalyan Panja at Paper Tree, a book blog from India. Kalyan is a working professional, an amateur photographer and an ardent traveler. His love for books is such that he treasures even those he read as a kid.

Tuesday, 22 October

1.   Book Review by author Nicua Shamira at Terraverum, a book blog from Australia. Shamira has one YA fantasy published as well as a collection of short stories, and two more novels in the works. Besides reading and writing, she loves archery, horse riding, travelling, and painting.

2.   Book Review & Promo at Books, Food and Me!, a blog that is a quirky take on books and food.

Wednesday, 23 October

1.   Interview here at

2.   Book Review by author Martin Lake from France. A prolific writer of Historical and YA Fiction and short stories, Martin is the author of The Lost King series. Winner of first prize in the Kenneth Grahame Society short story competition.

Thursday, 24 October

1.   Book Review by Raka Majumdar at Illuminati, a book blog from India. Raka wears two hats: advertising professional during the day and book reviewer at night.

2.   Interview by author J.D.R. Hawkins  Hawkins is one of the few women authors on the American Civil War, and her Renegade Series has won three awards, including the 2013 John Esten Cooke Fiction Award and the 2012 B.R.A.G. Medallion.

Friday, 25 October

1.   Book Review by Kavya Srinivasan at Crazy world, Crazy mind, a blog from India.

2.   Author Interview by Ashok Kumar at Sundry Rhymes, another blog from India.

Saturday, 26 October

1.   Promo by Kristin Plausky at Second Book to the Right Besides being an avid reader of fiction of all genres, Kristin is a lab technician and a Girl Scout leader.

2.   Book Review on Kitaab, a book blog from Singapore that focuses on Asian writing in English.

3.   Author Interview by Vinny at Books are my Best Friends, a book blog from India that reviews English and Bengali books. Vinny also moderates a YA readers' group on Goodreads.

Sunday, 27 October

1.   Author Interview by Sheri at Making Connections, a blog and Goodreads group of the same name run by eight readers and bloggers who are dedicated to helping new authors. They hail from the United States, Canada, and Pakistan.

2.   Book Review by Tanya Aneja, a book lover, on Books and Amazing Facts I have Read Tanya is a grade 8 student from New Delhi, India.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

20 October 2013

Why Walgreens now hassles you when you fill prescriptions (chronic illness series)

Some of the medicines I take are controlled substances, and the Rite-Aid near my house could not reliably obtain one of them. Two years ago, the pharmacist suggested taking that prescription to a different pharmacy so I wouldn't risk running out of needed medicine. So I started filling that prescription at a Walgreens several miles farther away. Things worked out well at first.

But recently I decided to stop going there. Even though I had been a regular customer, the pharmacist and his helpers began to look at me suspiciously and tell me to come back  in a couple days to pick the prescription up if the doctor approved it.

If? Why wouldn't the doctor approve a prescription he himself wrote? Why did I have to take another half hour plus out of my writing time to go back?

Then I noticed it wasn't just me arousing Walgreens' suspicions. As I waited in line one time, they grilled an elderly lady for several minutes and then refused outright to help her. Another time, they refused to fill a veteran's pain meds after giving him the third degree. The reason? He lived in the next town over.

Then I discovered that my friend, also named Shauna, had blogged about her own experiences with Walgreens' refusing to fill her prescriptions. (Read how Walgreens treated her here.) She switched pharmacies too.

The new hassles, it turns out, are part of Walgreens' new "Good Faith Dispensing" policy. The policy requires the pharmacist to contact your doctor when you bring in an Rx for a controlled substance or certain other meds and quiz you doctor to decide whether he or she made the right decision in prescribing the medicine for you.

Psychology Today recently posted an article on the new Walgreens policy called "Backlash Against Walgreens' Painkiller Crackdown" at  

The American Medical Association's House of Delegates adopted a resolution about drug store intrusion into medical practice. (Look for resolution 218 (A-13) at

Indiana television station WTHR investigated and discovered the secret rules governing whether Walgreens will hassle you and your doctor. Their report is here.

In short, if you have chronic pain or certain other chronic conditions, Walgreens intends to give you a hard time when you fill related prescriptions.

No other chain follows such policies, so if you have trouble with Walgreens, you can go to any other chain and expect to receive polite treatment and no delays in filling your prescription.

The American Academy of Pain Management is collecting reports from patients of problems they've had filling prescriptions at Walgreens. You can file a report at

The National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association is also collecting reports from people with chronic pain conditions including fibromyalgia. You can participate at


AUTHOR INTERVIEW: I interview Vasant Davé, author of Trade Winds to Meluhha, here Wednesday 23 October 2013. Come back then to learn about him and his novel set in ancient Mesopotamia and India.

10 October 2013

Ten important functions of sleep (part of the chronic illness series)

My fantasy novel Ice Magic, Fire Magic will be coming out late this fall. Read a brief bio of one of the characters, Kassia, today at Thank you, DelSheree!

Sleep is important for everyone, but good sleep and rest are especially important for people with chronic illnesses if they want to feel the best they can. Ironically, many people with chronic illnesses have trouble sleeping well.

I'm going to be writing several posts on sleep. I'm starting today with the basics, listing some of the important functions sleep serves. 

Researchers have much to learn about sleep, but experiments have shown that sleep is essential for survival. Animals deprived of sleep long enough die. Although scientists debate the functions of sleep, they do know that the body behaves differently when asleep:
  • It releases some important hormones mostly or only when you are asleep.
  • Most muscle growth and tissue repair happen during sleep.
  • The brain may consolidate new memories.
  • The brain may discard the useless information it accumulated during the day.

Compared with sleep-deprived animals and/or people, well-rested ones:
have immune systems that work better.
heal wounds faster.
have a better working memory.
solve problems more creatively.
are less likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases.
have a lower risk of stroke.
may have a lower risk of some cancers.
may be less likely to develop osteoporosis.
may have fewer mood disorders.
have a long life expectancy on average.
look more healthy and attractive on average.
feel less hungry and so may be less likely to gain weight.
are less likely to crave junk food instead of healthy food.
feel less stressed on average.
have better judgement.
are more hopeful and friendly.
are less likely to be injured on the job.

In future blog posts, I'll cover why chronic illnesses interfere with sleeping, why the body needs both sleep and rest, prescription medications that interfere with sleep, foods and medicines that may help people fall asleep, sleep disorders, and behavioral changes that can help you sleep better.


02 October 2013

Coming soon, a contest for this month

More author interviews! In October, I'll be posting interviews with:
  • Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, who writes science fiction
  • Vasant Davé, who writes historical fiction set in the Bronze Age
In October, I'm also taking part in the "Meet the Characters Blogfest" along with many other authors. Instead of profiling authors, as is so often the case in blog events, this one profiles the authors' characters.

Throughout the month, DelSheree Gladden will be posting at her blog contributions from authors of young adult, new adult, romance, horror, and paranormal novels.

The authors will provide interviews with one or more characters in their books, biographies of characters, artwork, and other fun stuff. My own posts will feature characters from Ice Magic, Fire Magic, my forthcoming fantasy novel from Hadley Rille Books. On 10 October, there will be a biography of Kassia, one of the antagonists. I'll also be contributing a surprise post for 28 October that will feature IMFM's hero, Celatu.

The complete list of authors and dates is below.

If you scroll past the schedule of blog posts, you'll find a Rafflecopter contest that you can enter to win books. One grand prize winner will receive 40 books. Runners-up will receive books or other prizes.

Schedule of blog posts

10/2 -- Character interviews

Zadie Stonebrook (My Sister's Reaper - Dorothy Dreyer)
Tizzy Donovan (Laid Out and Candle Lit - Ann Everett)
Kristi Becker (A Plain Wish - Cyndi Lord)
Zander Roth (Wicked Hunger - DelSheree Gladden)

10/3 -- Character bios

Kristi Becker (A Plain Wish - Cyndi Lord)
Bryan Sullivan (Arcadia's Gift - Jesi Lea Ryan)
Brandon James (Love and Other Games - Aria Kane)

10/4 -- Hottest Guy Contest 

Stop by and vote for your favorite.

10/7 -- Character surprise posts from authors 
RH Ramsey
DelSheree Gladden

10/8 -- Character artwork
The Other F Word (Susan Stec)
Wicked Hunger (DelSheree Gladden) 

10/9 -- Character interviews

Kate Everett (A Slight Change of Plan - Dee Ernst)
Jean (In Polyester Pajamas - Catherine Dougherty)
Ben (Twenty-Five - Rachel Hamm)
Vanessa Roth (Wicked Hunger - DelSheree Gladden)

10/10 -- Character bios 

Kassia (Ice Magic, Fire Magic - Shauna Roberts)
Maze (The Ballerina and the Fighter - Ursula Sinclair)
Lucien (Smoke, Wings, and Stone - Marijon Braden)

10/11 -- Feistiest Girl Contest 
Stop by and vote for your favorite.

10/14 -- Character surprise posts from authors 
Kara Leigh Miller
Sharon Kleve
Linda Budzinski 

10/15 -- Character artwork

On a Wing and a Dare (Linda Ulleseit)
Invisible (DelSheree Gladden)

10/16 -- Character interviews
David Corbin and Jon Reyes (Sign of the Throne - Melissa Eskue Ousley)
Rosie (In Polyester Pajamas - Catherine Dougherty)
Ketchup (Wicked Hunger - DelSheree Gladden)

10/17 -- Character bios
Nadia (Love and Other Games - Melinda Dozier)
(Karen Rita Gastreich) 
(HL Carpenter)

10/18 -- Cutest Couple Contest 
Stop by and vote for your favorite.

10/21 -- Character surprise posts from authors 
Stephanie Wardrop
Lucy Crowe
Ana Blaze

10/22 -- Character artwork
Haunting Joy (Lena Goldfinch)
"The Destroyer Trilogy" (DelSheree Gladden)

10/23 -- Character interviews
Rachel Blackstone (The Reluctant Medium - G G Collins)
Nell (The King Series - Tawdra Kandle)
Arcadia ( Arcadia's Gift - Jesi Lea Ryan)
Olivia and Mason (Invisible - DelSheree Gladden)

10/24 -- Character bios

(Karin Rita Gastreich)
Sam and Cole (Fate War Alliance - E.M. Havens)

10/25 -- Steamiest Couple Contest 
Stop by and vote for your favorite.

10/28 -- Character surprise posts from authors 
Susan Stec
Shauna Roberts
Lisa Cresswell

10/29 -- Character artwork
My Sister's Reaper (Dorothy Dreyer)
Twin Souls (DelSheree Gladden)

10/30 -- Character interviews
Nathan Shaw (Reflection - Kim Cresswell)
Nia (In the Winds of Danger - Linda Ulleseit)
Jayden or Merch (Dark Night of the Soul - E.M. Havens)

10/31 -- Announcement of winners

a Rafflecopter giveaway

01 October 2013

Obamacare (part of my chronic illness series)

You can start signing up for Obamacare today at Despite the government shutdown, this site is active, at least for now.

If you are opposed to Obamacare for some reason, please read this blogpost by writer Kameron Hurley: Before Obamacare, and without Obamacare, something similar could happen to you or someone in your family or one of your friends.

22 September 2013

Birthday contest winners!

Congratulations to the winners of my birthday contest:

Alina Field

Kristine Nielson

Each wins an award-nominated 2012 science fiction or fantasy paper book of her choice from last week's list.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the contest and in my birthday celebration.

13 September 2013

Birthday contest

As in most years, I'm having a contest to celebrate my birthday. (Birthday number 57, if you must know.) I'm also celebrating my greatly overhauled blog and Website, now combined here on Blogspot.

To enter the contest, type your email address (disguised to fool spammers if you like) in the comment box. You're welcome to leave comments as well. (Have I left something important off from my new Website you want to point out? Please do.)

If you'd like to be on my mailing list, you can fill out the brief form in the red box in the right column or say in a comment to this post that you'd like to be on my mailing list. You will hear from me only when I publish new books and when I have book signings.

The contest ends at 11:59 pm on Saturday, 21 September. On Sunday the 22nd, my husband will draw two names from a hat. Those people will each win her or his choice of a book of fiction that was up for a major science fiction or fantasy award for 2012. Winners who are not U.S. residents will receive an ebook. You don't even have to go look them up; here is a list:

  • 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Nebula, James Tiptree Jr, Locus SF Novel, Hugo)
  • Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (Locus First Novel, World Fantasy Award)
  • Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam (James Tiptree Jr)
  • Blackout by Mira Grant (Hugo) 
  • Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey (Locus SF Novel)
  • Captain Vorpatril's Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Hugo, Locus SF Novel)
  • Crandolin by Anna Tambour (World Fantasy Award)
  • Death and Resurrection by R.A. MacAvoy (Mythopoeic)
  • Digger by Ursula Vernon (Mythopoeic)
  • Firebrand by Ankaret Wells (James Tiptree Jr)
  • Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal [Nebula (disqualified based on a date technicality); Locus Fantasy Novel]
  • Hide Me among the Graves by Tim Powers (Mythopoeic, Locus Fantasy Novel)
  • Ironskin by Tina Connolly (Nebula)
  • Jagannath: Stories by Karin Tidbeck (James Tiptree Jr)
  • Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear (James Tiptree Jr)
  • Redshirts: A novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi (Locus SF Novel, Hugo)
  • Rituals by Roz Kaveney (James Tiptree Jr)
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Locus First Novel)
  • Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce (World Fantasy Award)
  • The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross (Locus Fantasy Novel)
  • The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Nebula, Mythopoeic, James Tiptree Jr, Locus Fantasy Novel, World Fantasy Award)
  • The Games by Ted Kosmatka (Locus First Novel)
  • The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks (Locus SF Novel)
  • The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemison (Nebula, World Fantasy Award, Locus Fantasy Novel, Locus Fantasy Novel)
  • "The Weirdstone Trilogy" novels by Alan Garner (Mythopoeic)
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (Hugo, Nebula, Locus First Novel)
  • Up against It by M.J. Locke (James Tiptree Jr)
  • vN by Madeline Ashby (Locus First Novel)

 [Winner(s) of each award are boldfaced and red.] 

Good luck!

31 August 2013

Under construction

I'm redoing my blog to include the information that currently is on my Website. It will be more convenient both for you and for me to have all my information in one place.

In the meantime, though, I haven't figured out how to change the color of the sidebars and/or their text. Please excuse the temporary problems reading the sidebars and the width problems. I'll be fixing them.

Thanks for your patience.

18 June 2013

Clarion and Clarion West Write-a-Thons start Sunday

For the next six weeks, graduates and friends of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop will be raising money to support Clarion, a workshop that has produced many well-known writers, primarily in the sf/f genre. Clarion grads include two of my own Clarion teachers—Robert Crais and Kim Stanley Robinson—as well as notables such as Tobias Bucknell, Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Cory Doctorow, Gregory Frost...and on and on through the alphabet.

During the Write-a-Thon, you can support the Clarion workshop—and ensure its continued production of awesome sf/f writers—in any of several ways.

  • Sign up as a writer and collect pledges and donations in your name. The process is simple, and making public your writing-related goals for the summer is a great motivator to actually work on and complete your projects. Interested? Learn more or sign up here.
  •  Donate directly to Clarion. Go here and click on the green button.
  • Sponsor me and my summer project. My project for the Write-a-Thon is to write two short stories. To make a pledge or donation to encourage me, sign up here.
  • Sponsor writers you know or admire who are participating in the Write-a-Thon. The list of writers who have signed up is here. You can click on each person's name to find out something about them and what project they are doing during the Write-a-Thon. If you want to support several writers, Clarion has made the process simple. Start here.
  • Buy Clarion swag. Go here and here to find teeshirts, mugs, hats, and other stuff.
  • No time? No money? Spread the word through your social media: blogs, Websites, Twitter accounts, Facebook page, or whatever else you do. You can grab some cool Write-a-Thon badges here.

    Clarion's goal for this Write-a-Thon is to sign up at least 225 writers and to collect donations of at least $18,000.

    Donations go to support the workshop in general and to scholarships to help students who otherwise could not afford to attend Clarion.

    Donations are tax deductible if you itemize deductions on your U.S. federal tax form for 2013, to the extent allowed by law.

     Clarion's sister workshop, Clarion West, will be running its own Write-a-Thon at the same time, 23 June to 3 August. You can sign up as a writer, see who has already signed up, or donate directly to one or multiple writers here.

    Thank you for reading this post and for helping the Clarion workshops in any way you can.

    10 June 2013

    Winners of the Summer Banquet Blog Hop contest

    Congratulations, Sophia Rose and Cyn209! You are the two  winners of a Kindle or Nook ebook of Like Mayflies in a Stream in the Summer Banquet Blog Hop contest of last week.

    I've already sent emails to both winners. If you are a winner and didn't receive an email from me, please let me know how to contact you.


    03 June 2013

    A cruel conquerer's grand Assyrian feast, and a contest

    One of the most magnificent feasts in history celebrated the completion of the Assyrian palace in Kalhu (also called Nimrud, a city that once lay north of Baghdad) in 879 B.C.E. (before the Christian era).

    King Ashurnasirpal II (image free to use under GNU license)
    King Ashurnasirpal II wasted no time upon becoming king of Assyria (part of modern-day  Iraq) in roughly 883 B.C.E. Thirsting for war and riches, he immediately invaded north, east, and west, conquering the people there. The Syrians soon rebelled against his savage rule. His response: Burn the small children to death, and mutilate the grown men. Some had their hands and feet cut off; others lost their ears, noses, and lips.

    Content that no one would revolt again, Ashurnasirpal II took his plunder home to Assyria and celebrated by forcing thousands of slaves to build him a luxurious new capital city at Kalhu. When the palace—built from imported luxury woods, limestone, and alabaster—was completed in 879 B.C.E., he held a feast for nearly 70,000 people from several countries that lasted 10 days.

    According to Ashurnasirpal's own words,  the supplies he ordered for the banquet included:
    • 1,000 fattened head of cattle
    • 1,000 calves
    • 10,000 stable sheep
    • 15,000 lambs
    • 200 head of cattle (for offerings to the goddess Ishtar) 
    • 1,000 sihhu-sheep (for offerings to Ishtar)
    • 1,000 spring lambs
    • 500 gazelles
    • 1,000 ducks
    • 500 geese
    • 500 kurku-geese (possibly cranes)
    • 1,000 mesuku-birds (a bird of prey)
    • 1,000 qaribu-birds (possibly crows)
    • 10,000 doves
    • 10,000 sukanunu-doves (possibly turtle doves)
    • 10,000 other assorted small birds
    • 10,000 assorted fish
    • 10,000 jerboa
    • 10,000 eggs
    • 10,000 jars of beer
    • 100 containers of fine mixed beer
    • 10,000 imported skins of wine
    • 1,000 wood crates of vegetables
    • 300 containers of oil
    • 100 pistachio cones
    Unfortunately, Ashurnasirpal II failed to succumb to his high-fat, high-cholesterol, low-nutrient diet, either at his feast or later. He lived to crush his neighbors and create wall reliefs depicting these conquests for another 20 years.

    Ashurnasirpal II is remembered today for two reasons: his great feast and his great brutality.


    This blog post is part of the Summer Banquet Blog Hop, in which 31 authors of historical fiction blog about historical food in the first week of June. The following authors are taking part; click on a name  to see that person's post.

    Many of the Summer Blog Hoppers are also offering prizes, including me. To enter to win one of two Kindle or Nook versions of my historical novel Like Mayflies in a Stream, set in ancient Mesopotamia, comment below or like my Facebook author page at Winners of prizes at all blogs will be announced on 10 June 2013.

    Hop Participants
    1. Random Bits of Fascination (Maria Grace)
    2. Pillings Writing Corner (David Pilling)
    3. Anna Belfrage
    4. Debra Brown
    5. Lauren Gilbert
    6. Gillian Bagwell
    7. Julie K. Rose
    8. Donna Russo Morin
    9. Regina Jeffers
    10. Shauna Roberts
    11. Tinney S. Heath
    12. Grace Elliot
    13. Diane Scott Lewis
    14. Ginger Myrick
    15. Helen Hollick
    16. Heather Domin
    17. Margaret Skea
    18. Yves Fey
    19. JL Oakley
    20. Shannon Winslow
    21. Evangeline Holland
    22. Cora Lee
    23. Laura Purcell
    24. P. O. Dixon
    25. E.M. Powell
    26. Sharon Lathan
    27. Sally Smith O'Rourke
    28. Allison Bruning
    29. Violet Bedford
    30. Sue Millard
    31. Kim Rendfeld

    22 May 2013

    Interview with fantasy novelist Karina Fabian

    Karina Fabian’s latest publication is the novella Greater Treasures, available from Amazon. It is a story set in her DragonEye universe about Vern, a private investigator who is a dragon—a scarlet-and-black North African Faerie Wyvern, to be precise—and his sidekick, nun Sister Grace. In his newest case, Vern searches for a lost artifact and must choose between saving the world and saving his best friend.

    Karina, thank you for visiting my blog today, and congratulations on the publication of Greater Treasures.

    Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

    What was your favorite part of writing Greater Treasures?

    As usual, watching Vern get himself out of tight spots. I’m awful about putting my characters through the ringer. I also enjoyed adapting the plot from The Maltese Falcon to my Faerie world. It was an interesting challenge. Oh, and Vern’s snarks are fun to write.

    What genres do you read most? Who are your favorite authors? What writers have had the greatest influence on you?

    I usually read science fiction and fantasy, though lately, I’ve been reading biographies of the saints for a writing job I have. I have way too many favorite authors, but when it comes to the DragonEye world, I draw inspiration from Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” series, Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” novels, and Robert Asprin and Jody Lyn Nye’s “Myth, Inc.” books.

    How important have your writing friends been in your development as a writer?

    Very. They give me encouragement, bounce ideas with me, critique my work, and in the case of Greater Treasures, coached me through the self-publishing process. My books would be much poorer without them, and I would be much lonelier!

    Your Catholic faith is important in your life. How does this influence your fiction writing?

    I have a deep appreciation not only for the spirituality and morality of the Catholic faith, but also for its rich history and symbolism. It doesn’t come through in all my novels (for example, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator), but in the DragonEye world, there’s a lot of the Catholic faith in the worldbuilding. There are also other faiths, too, incidentally, but with Sister Grace being a nun and Vern a reluctant employee of the Church, it’s more apparent there.

    In Greater Treasures, Vern faces a terrible moral dilemma. Is making good ethical choices a theme in your other novels? If so, why? Are there other themes or topics you’re drawn to in your writing?

    I think all good novels have some kind of moral dilemma; otherwise the character doesn’t grow. Having said that, I don’t really choose the theme. I tell the story, and let the theme come alive (or not) on its own. I’m usually a character-driven writer, so the characters will lead me to write the big issues in their lives at the time of the story.

    What is your writing regimen? Would you recommend it to aspiring authors?

    At the moment, I don’t have a good writing regimen. It’s been a tough year (as in July 2012 to present) for me, and I’m just getting back into the groove. What I would recommend to writers is to divide your writing time so that the majority of it is spent writing, then some marketing, then some networking. You need all three to be successful. Sometimes, you might find marketing takes precedence—such as when a new book comes out—but never neglect your writing.

    What one piece of advice would you offer readers who are working on their first novels?

    Thicken your skin. You need critique to improve, so be ready to listen with an open mind to what your fellow writers or readers say about your work. Also, expect rejection and keep writing, anyway.

    What one piece of advice would you offer readers who want to try self-publishing?

    Get your book professionally edited. The biggest complaint about self-publishing is that the books are amateurish. A good editor can polish a good story, repair a faulty one, and save you the embarrassment of putting out a real stinker that might need major reworking.

    When will your next book come out, and what will it be about?

    In September, Mind Over Psyche, published by DragonMoon Books (Book 2 of the Mind Over trilogy) will be released. Deryl has finally learned to control his telepathy and has fought his way back to sanity—but no one will believe him. Desperate to escape the asylum, he teleports to another planet, accidentally taking a friend, Joshua, with him. There they meet Tasmae, the alien who had contacted him in his madness. She carries the secret of Deryl’s past, and it’s slowly driving her insane. To save her, Deryl must use his telepathy and dive into her tortured mind. Can he solve the mystery of his existence and bring Tasmae and himself back to sanity?

    Thank you, Karina, and best wishes with you new projects!

    Thank you.

    You can learn more about Karina Fabian, Greater Treasures, and Karina’s other novellas, novels, and nonfiction books by visiting her Website at and her blog at Greater Treasures is available for the Kindle at and as a paperback at