Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cover Reveal: Sword and Sorceress 31

Here's a first peek at the cover by Dave Smeds. This volume, edited by Elisabeth Waters, includes my story, "Sage Mountain," which I describe as Buddhist sword'n'sorcery. With trolls. And a dragon. You can read a snippet here.

The anthology will be out in November 2016.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It's July in the garden!

Lacinato (dinosaur) kale
It's been a while since I've posted about the state of our garden. We have about 1/3 acre, much of which is under cultivation. Our orchard consists of 2 pear trees, 2 apple trees (one with 5 different varieties grafted on), an an enormous grapefruit tree that survives the winters in the micro-climate created by one of our beautiful old California oaks. For a number of years, we tried a vineyard (Syrah grapes, which like this climate) but neighboring redwood trees cast too much morning shade so the Brix (sugar content) was never high enough for decent wine. Last year, we dug up and gave away the last of the vines to friends with sunnier plots. The old cordons are excellent for pole beans, small climbing squashes (like Delicata), cucumbers, and the like.

My husband has become enamored of the idea of "feral gardening," so many of our plants are naturalized. Chard has sprouted in a number of places; it's happiest right now at one end of the old vineyard, where the aforementioned shade provides a cooler environment during hot summer days. Purslane, amaranth, and arugula run rampant everywhere. And we will never, ever get rid of the tomatillos we were so imprudent to plant five or six years ago. (You need two to produce fruit and the result is hundreds and hundreds of seeds.) The asparagus is migrating through the lavender, which has returned the favor by invading the asparagus patch. Along the fence separating the apple and pear trees from the alley plot, volunteer scarlet runner beans are going gangbusters. I fully expect to find lacinato kale coming up in odd corners.


In July, the asparagus is done for the year, as is the rhubarb, but we sometimes get a second season in the fall. Last year, the grapefruits ripened in the fall instead of winter, and from the softness of the fruits, this year may be the same.

This summer we planted a bunch of summer and winter squashes, as this is a vegetable family that doesn't play havoc with my husband's digestion. One zucchini was nibbled by wood rats, and Dave is hard at work trying to trap them with peanut butter. If the gods shine upon us, we will have corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Lots of pole beans, as they freeze exceptionally well. Our favorite variety is Emerite, prolific, long-seasoned, delicious.

Around the back, we have a small raspberry patch, more squashes and pole beans, some potato plants that refuse to die, gooseberries (make amazing jam), and four heat-tolerant blueberry bushes that took a while to get going but are now exuberant. Here and there, I see a few parsnips that might be harvestable after the first frost (more feral gardening -- the seeds scatter everywhere).

I keep forgetting about the herbs: an enormous catnip patch, pineapple sage, tarragon, oregano, mint. You never get rid of mint, so you might as well eat it.
Fall harvest

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Giveaway: Thunderlord dust jackets

Lovely friends, the folks at DAW just sent me some dust jackets for the hardcover edition of Thunderlord. The book won't be released until August 2, but I know some of you can hardly wait. So I have 6 of these covers, autographed. I'll give them out in order requested.

If you'd like one, email me through the "Contact Me" button with your mailing address. (And if you want it inscribed.) I'll pay postage in the Continental US, and we can negotiate overseas costs -- and if you felt moved to reimburse me, entirely up to you, you can do that through the "Donate" button.)

Enjoy the anticipation....

Saturday, June 25, 2016

[links] Zombie Genes and Other Wonders

In the midst of much craziness in the political world, here are a few treasures to remind us this is also a fascinating, awesomely beautiful place.

Hundreds of Genes Spring Back to Life in the Days After Death

The majority of these zombie genes were not random in terms of function. Each of them play an important role when an animal experiences some kind of trauma or illness. For example, some genes that were ramped up are responsible for stimulating inflammation and the immune system as well as for countering stress. Some genetic activity, like a gene that’s responsible for embryonic development, baffled the scientists. Noble suspects that this gene becomes active because the cellular environment in dead bodies must somehow resemble those found in embryos.

Importantly, several genes that promote cancer also became active. This may explain why many organ donor recipients develop cancer. This tidbit of information could help scientists develop better methods of organ preservation prior to transplantation.

Some of History's Most Beautiful Combs Were Made for Lice Removal

“Most ancient combs are double-sided and have more teeth on one side than the other,” wrote Mumcuoglu and Zias. “The user would straighten his or her hair with the side that had the fewer teeth and then whisk away lice and louse eggs with the finer and more numerous teeth on the other side of the comb.”

Is 'when we eat' as important as 'what we eat'?
Eating inconsistently may affect our internal body clock or 'circadian rhythms' which typically follow a 24-hour cycle. Many nutritionally related metabolic processes in the body follow a circadian pattern such as appetite, digestion and the metabolism of fat, cholesterol and glucose. Food intake can influence our internal clocks, particularly in organs such as the liver and intestine, whilst our central clock is also regulated by the dark/light cycle which in turn can affect food intake. Chrono-nutrition involves studying the impact of nutrition on metabolic processes and how these may be influenced by and also alter circadian patterns through nutrient intake (ir)regularity, frequency and clock time.

99m-year-old lizard trapped in amber could give clue to 'lost ecosystem'

Scientists believe the chameleon-like creature was an infant when it was trapped in a gush of sticky resin while darting through a tropical forest in what is now Myanmar. The creature’s entire body, including its eyes and colorful scales, was unusually well-preserved, Stanley said. The other reptiles trapped in the amber, including a gecko and an arctic lizard, were also largely intact.

And finally, splendor from the heavens: three bright nebulae in the constellation Sagittarius.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit - The Morning After

Dear friends in the U.K., I send you condolences and hugs. Prompted by Cliff Winnig, here is a quote from one of your many great writers:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
 "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”