Award-winning author
Unusual times, remarkable places

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

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