Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Contemplating Failure and 2016

Chris Brecheen, who writes the blog Writing about Writing, where I guest blog, recently wrote about his year as a failure.  Life Happened, and he didn't meet his writing goals.

While Chris did at least manage to list his accomplishments, which were considerable, he forgot to seriously congratulate himself on them.  He forgot to take pride in how much farther along he is than he was, even if he did not meet the ambitious goals he set for himself last year.

I'd been thinking about this very thing, as one day not long ago I realized how very far I've come in the past year, even if I did not meet all my goals.  Yes, I'm a failure.  But I'm a success, too.

My main project is, of course,  The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Series.

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It's totally on schedule despite Life Happening.  The books are VERY well reviewed, people like them, and they ARE selling.  I'm not yet at my goals for this series, and I haven't written the seventeen other projects that are cooking in my head, but just for a minute, I had the sense to look at what I HAVE done, and be happy about it, and grateful, too.

As you think about New Year's Resolutions and setting goals for the coming year, please do recognize the positive steps you have made in the direction of any of your goals.  Even if you've made no progress at all on anything, take a minute to congratulate yourself on having made it through the year still willing to pick yourself up and give it another try.  

There is no failure until and unless you stop trying.  

Friday, December 25, 2015

Making Merry!

Whatever part of the holiday season you celebrate, make it merry!

In Japan, New Years is the big celebration, with Temple bells ringing all over Japan at midnight.  There is a national holiday that goes on for days, with feasts, visits to friends, relatives, temples and shrines.  It's a huge party.

And...they like it so much, many people do it twice, also celebrating Lunar New Year, which in 2016 will be on February 8!

Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Series
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015


I can't say it better than Margaret Atwood.  Enjoy the season of silence, of rest and replenishment.

Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Series
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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Fantasy and You

Apparently, some people don't like the Star Wars franchise because it reflects a spiritual belief system different from their own.

The biggest player I know of in fiction written for a specific belief system is "Christian Fiction," which is a real thing, and a very large market.

I'm not a Christian (Buddhist; very different thing) but I have read some fiction dubbed "Men's Fiction" which crossed over into "Christian Fiction" because the protagonists were devout Protestant-type American Christians.  

After a few chapters of butch blowing things up and chest-thumping I realized that all these Seals, Rangers and SAS fellows were calling on Jesus all the time, and praying to the Christian deity constantly.

While the conflation of patriotism with this brand of Christianity is a damned lie, I didn't mind the protagonist being a Christian and practicing his faith, because that is who he is.

I could like him as a character, understand his motivations, and follow his adventures in his universe (all boys all the time, but none of them are gay and all of them are a particular kind of Christian) because the adventure story was well plotted and well written.

We read fiction to be entertained, to escape our own worlds, to have adventures in times and places about which we can only otherwise dream.  Why shouldn't those characters have belief systems different from our own?  Are our own faiths so weak that we can't look at the world through someone else's eyes and learn about how other people see the world?

Go ahead.  Read something.  See something.  Learn something.

Give a book, and give a world.

Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Series
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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Give a Child a World

I dropped several copies of The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy off at a nearby fire station to be distributed as gifts to needy children.

I do this almost in protest because so many places are conducting "toy drives" and all they show for donations is cheap plastic crap that might amuse a child for an hour, if that.  At least one campaign is also asking specifically for sports equipment, and I laud them for that.

When I drop them off, I hear that books are wonderful and much appreciated donations.  Books are wonderful because they last.  They're wonderful because they contain entire worlds of adventure, because they spark creativity and imagination, because they foster critical thinking.  While books can be found in the public library -- at least, mine can -- to have a book of your own is like having a special, secret place to go, a world to visit, any time you want.  Children love books.

If you're thinking of donating to a "toy drive" this year, think seriously about donating books.  How about, besides The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, donating The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Little House books, the Oz books, the Alice books?  How about giving a child an alternate universe?

When you give a book, you give a world.

Hard and e-formats available at:
and all the usual outlets.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The best darned fruitcake....

I love fruitcake -- the good kind, the homemade kind, the kind that's stuffed with fruit and nuts and laced with brandy.

By request, here's the recipe for what is called a "summer fruitcake" because it isn't for a huge quantity and you can eat it right away.  This is my mother's recipe.

Grease and flour a 9" tube pan or bundt pan.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream 1.5 cups brown sugar
with 1.2 cup (1 stick) butter until fluffy.

Beat in, 1 at a time, 2 eggs.

Sift before measuring 2 cups plus 2 T cake flour (A/P works but isn't as light)
then resift with:
1 t cloves
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 t soda

Stir the sifted dry ingredients into the butter mixture, adding in three parts, alternating with 1/3 cup of drained crushed pineapple (1 cup total).

Stir in:
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup currants
1 cup candied fruit (can use commercial "fruit cake mix" or use 1/3 cup dried cherries and 2/3 cups candied orange and lemon peel, which you can make at home.)
1.5 cups pecans (blanched almonds or walnuts can be substituted.

Bake in the prepared pan for about 1 hour.

When the cake tests done, you can (and should) spike it by inserting a skewer at regular intervals and pouring about 1/4 cup of brandy over the top.  Do this while it's right out of the oven hot!

Invert on a rack.

This cake keeps well, but not as well as the kind you wrap in cheesecloth and bath in brandy every week for a couple of months (minimum -- it keeps longer) while it cures.

This is SO GOOD.  Enjoy it!  They like European-style fruitcake in Japan, where it can be purchased by the slice.

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy

Hard and e-formats available at:

and all the usual outlets.