Wednesday, April 26, 2017

In Troubled Times: Quaker Wisdom

No clear impressions, either from above or from without, can be received by a mind turbid with excitement and agitated by a crowd of distractions. The stillness needed for the clear shining of light within is incompatible with hurry.
~ Caroline Stephen, 1834-1909

I believe there is something in the mind, or in the heart, that shows its approbation when we do right. I give myself this advice: Do not fear truth, let it be so contrary to inclination and feeling. Never give up the search after it: and let me take courage, and try from the bottom of my heart to do that which I believe truth dictates, if it leads me to be a Quaker or not.

~ Elizabeth Fry, 1780-1845

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Anthology Special Price

Two anthologies I've participated in are on sale at a reduced price right now. Across the Spectrum, which I edited with Pati Nagle (and which celebrates Book View Cafe's 5th anniversary and includes stories by Ursula K. LeGuin, Vonda N. McIntyre, Sherwood Smith, Judith Tarr, Katharine Kerr, and Madeleine E. Robins). The Shadow Conspiracy III: Clockwork Souls (also from Book View Cafe) contains my story "Among Friends," pertaining to Quakers, the Underground Railroad, and a slave-catching automaton. They're $2.99 each.

The sale ends May 1, so grab 'em while you can! (And the others look great, too!)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Evey Brett on "Only Men Dance" in MASQUES OF DARKOVER

In the spirit of a masqued revel, here is a gala presentation of tales set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Some of these stories are humorous, others dark, some gritty, and others whimsical or romantic, but all reflect the richness and breadth of adventures to be found on Darkover.

Masques of Darkover will be released May 2, 2017 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble and Kobo. The print edition will be on sale on the release date.

While this is her first sale to a Darkover anthology, Evey Brett is no stranger to magic, especially when it comes to horses--just ask her Lipizzan mare, Carrma, who has a habit of arranging the universe to her liking. Carrma not only insisted that Evey move to southern Arizona to coddle her during her retirement, but she was also the inspiration for her books Capriole, Levade, and Passage as well as an anthology featuring supernatural horses. “None of those are based on real life,” she says. “Nope, not one.”

Deborah J. Ross: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. 

Evey Brett: Back in 2002 when I was just out of college, I got a job working retail at a now-extinct Foley's department store in a mall. There was a Waldenbooks right across from the store, so I'd often go get a book and settle down in a comfy chair somewhere in the mall to eat my lunch and read. One day I was looking for a new book and picked up The Fall of Neskaya, and I was hooked. Fortunately for me (and the bookstore) they had several of other Darkover novels as well.

DJR: What about the world drew you in?

EB: I'm a sucker for stories with telepaths and damaged characters. I'd gone through a number of Mercedes Lackey's books, so finding Darkover gave me a whole new world with a sizeable canon to explore. Having just read the back of The Fall of Neskaya, I'd still pick it up to read because it's got everything I want--telepaths, power, gifts, a tormented character with a secret he can't reveal.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

[links] Electric Sand and Other Glories

Titan is covered with dunes and plains made of sand consisting of a range of organic molecules. Méndez speculated that the moon's sand might readily become electrically charged, making its behavior significantly different from that of Earth sand.
Méndez's specialty is electrified particles. He investigates phenomena such as volcanic lightning, which is powered by electrically charged volcanic ash particles, and studies "powders in the pharmaceutical industry, which can clump together or stick to the walls of pipes because of their electric charge," he said.

Tatooine world could be habitable despite its inevitably complicated orbit, as long as the planet stays within a particular range of distances from its two host stars, researchers said.
"This means that double-star systems of the type studied here are excellent candidates to host habitable planets, despite the large variations in the amount of starlight hypothetical planets in such a system would receive," Max Popp, an associate research scholar at Princeton University in New Jersey and the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, said in a statement.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Cat Blog

Hello, I'm Shakir. After relentless campaigning, I have convinced my human to give me equal blog time. Well, not truly equal. We all know that truly equal would mean she'd never get a word in edgewise.

Here I am, relaxing on the nicely cushioned comforter my human has thoughtfully provided. As you can see, I'm of the green-eyed black-haired tribe, although I do have an elegant frosting of white hairs on my chest. I was found roaming the wilds at about 10 months of age, so I leave you to guess at my early life, but everyone at the shelter recognized what a good cat I am, and after a long time, I was invited to join the household of humans (and cats -- hiss! -- and a trainable dog -- well, all right) who understood the unique charms of black cats.

You can see from this portrait that I am a cat of Very Large Personality. (Is there any other kind?)

I look forward to receiving your adoration in future posts.

Shakir (his mark)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Leslie Roy & Margaret L. Carter on "Believing" in MASQUES OF DARKOVER

In the spirit of a masqued revel, here is a gala presentation of tales set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Some of these stories are humorous, others dark, some gritty, and others whimsical or romantic, but all reflect the richness and breadth of adventures to be found on Darkover.

Masques of Darkover will be released May 2, 2017 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble and Kobo. The print edition will be on sale on the release date.

Margaret L. Carter specializes in vampires, having been marked for life by reading Dracula at the age of twelve. Her Ph.D. dissertation even included a chapter on Dracula. Her vampire novel Dark Changeling won an Eppie Award in the horror category in 2000. Other creatures she writes about include werewolves, dragons, ghosts, and Lovecraftian entities with tentacles. In addition to her horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance fiction, she has had several nonfiction books and articles published on vampires in literature, including Different Blood: The Vampire As Alien. Recent work includes Passion In The Blood (a vampire romance), Sealing The Dark Portal (a paranormal romance with Lovecraftian elements), and “Crossing the Border” (horror erotic romance novella with Lovecraftian elements).

Les and Margaret Carter attended the College of William and Mary together as a married couple and earned their bachelors’ degrees there. Les later received an MS in Electronics Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He retired from the U.S. Navy as a Captain after thirty years of service. He and Margaret co-wrote “Carmen’s Flight,” published in one of the early Darkover anthologies. They have also collaborated on a fantasy series, beginning with Wild Sorceress, for which he’s the primary author. Les has over fifty years of experience in search and rescue as a member of the Civil Air Patrol. Les and Margaret have four children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

[personal] Milestone Birthday

I'm 70 years old today. It feels so strange to be that big a number. I have no idea what it means to be This Many Years. But it does feel like a milestone, a sea change.

It comes after a period of wrestling with my engagement with the repeated, periodic parole hearings for the man who raped and murdered my mother -- who was 70 at the time, so that's another reason this age is a huge change for me. I'll likely write about this more, but basically I have decided to not participate in any future hearings 30 years is long enough and past long to carry such a burden. It's done terrible things to my life, and I've fought so hard to regain my peace of mind, let alone my happiness. This is what my mother would want for me, and now I'm finally able to leave the nightmare behind. Turn the page, shut the door, throw the whole vile mess into the ocean.

Back to the birthday. I had a lovely early celebration last week, when younger daughter was home from medical school for spring break, and she and her wife and older daughter and beloved spouse and I all went out to a very fancy dinner. Having both my girls and my daughter-in-law and my husband all together was the best present ever.

I've been unhappy with how unproductive and unfocused I've been for the last year. The parole hearing was only partly to blame, but I have the feeling the right moment to tell the stories and do the other things that are meaningful to me is slipping away, or in danger of doing that. So my present to myself is a promise to sit down, with my journal if helpful, and figure out what's distracting me and how to structure my days. To live well, work well, love well, take excellent care of myself, fill my time with joy.

Monday, April 10, 2017

India Edghill on "The Price of Stars" in MASQUES OF DARKOVER

In the spirit of a masqued revel, here is a gala presentation of tales set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Some of these stories are humorous, others dark, some gritty, and others whimsical or romantic, but all reflect the richness and breadth of adventures to be found on Darkover.

Masques of Darkover will be released May 2, 2017 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble and Kobo. The print edition will be on sale on the release date.

A writer of historical novels (so far, mostly set in Ancient Israel) and fantasy short stories (set everywhen from India to Darkover to Imperial Russia), India Edghill's love of history has resulted in the acquisition of far too many books on far too many subjects. A former resident of the beautiful Mid-Hudson Valley, New York, India and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniels now live in the beautiful Willamette Valley in Oregon.

Deborah J. Ross: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover.  

India Edghill: Oh, heavens, that was so long ago I don't even remember.  I was in my teens and had just discovered science fiction.  Back then it was hard to find and one couldn't just pop off to the Internet to find something you wanted.  If your library didn't own the book, or you didn't spot in at a yard sale, you were out of luck.  Sometimes -- wonder of wonders! -- a science fiction book would show up in the rack of paperbacks at the drugstore, but not often.  And there weren't that many bookstores in suburbia.  Now Amazon, eBay, ABEbooks, and Indiebound have made it so easy to find not only new books, but used ones too, and Project Gutenberg makes thousands of out of print and out of copyright works available free.  The Internet also makes it easy to find a local bookstore no matter where you're going.  But back to Darkover!  Somehow, at some point, I managed to pick up a copy of -- I think it was The Bloody Sun and that did it.  I was hooked.

DJR: What about the world drew you in?

IE: Marion's storytelling, of course!  She created a world of wonders and fascinating people and spun terrific stories about them.  I found Darkover back when a science fiction novel was only about 50,000 words, and boy, could she weave a universe for you in those words.

DJR: What book would you recommend for someone new to Darkover?

IE: Well, there's always The Door Through Space…for those really into Darkovan backstory…  Okay, okay, Door isn't technically a Darkover story.  But it's my favorite, and in a sense it's the ultimate Darkover book.  For anyone who's interested in the Dry Towns, it's required reading.

DJR: What inspired your story in Masques of Darkover?

IE: Queen Elizabeth I's eye color.  Semi-seriously!  To start with, all I had was a vague idea:  "what if the most powerful laran-user ever was a girl born in the Dry Towns?"  The Dry Towns have always interested me, so the setting was a "gimme."  And since I'm totally enamored of Good Queen Bess (in fact, my first sale to Mzb's Fantasy Magazine was "Maiden Phoenix", about the young Elizabeth), I swiped her for the character.  And since no one can agree on Elizabeth's eye color -- sources from her own time describe her eyes as every color from blue to grey to hazel to black -- I blended that in as well.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Short Book Reviews: Dave Duncan Tackles Chinese Fantasy Right

I’m a long-time and unabashed Dave Duncan fan. I love his literate, compassionate, exciting fantasy novels. He always comes up with fascinating twists and insights into standard themes, and his handling of the material seems effortless. My only quibble is that much of his work is in series forms, three or four volume (or longer) tales, so if I find a book from the middle, I pretty much have to hold on to it until I complete the set. So I was delighted to find this stand-alone, set it Duncan’s inimitably original version of a magical alternate China. Such stories go through cycles of popularity. Barry Hughart published a series (Bridge of Birds, etc.) back in the 1980s and 1990s. More recently, Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings and its sequels have attracted much attention. But Duncan’s vision is all his own, and with smooth mastery of his craft, he draws the reader into his marvelous world. His characters, from a starving orphan to a reincarnated god to the scheming, ruthless mother of the imbecile emperor, are vivid and engaging. While the story lines initially share little except a common culture and time, I had no doubt that Duncan would bring them together in the end; I was not disappointed, for the plot twists and thorny decisions resolved beautifully and with Duncan’s signature gracefulness. A treat for Duncan fans and a great introduction to his work, particularly if you are looking for non-Western settings.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Shariann Lewitt on "The Wind" In MASQUES OF DARKOVER

In the spirit of a masqued revel, here is a gala presentation of tales set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Some of these stories are humorous, others dark, some gritty, and others whimsical or romantic, but all reflect the richness and breadth of adventures to be found on Darkover.

Masques of Darkover will be released May 2, 2017 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble and Kobo. The print edition will be on sale on the release date.

Shariann Lewitt has published seventeen books and over forty short stories, including “Wedding Embroidery” in Stars of Darkover and “Memory” in Gifts of Darkover. When not writing she teaches at MIT, studies flamenco dance, and is accounted reasonably accomplished at embroidery. Her expertise with birds arises in part from being the devoted servant of two parrots.

Deborah J. Ross: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. What about the world drew you in?

Shariann Lewitt: I started reading Darkover when I was very young and it grabbed me in a special way, because it showed girls and women doing active, great stuff, not just sitting around being passive.  But unlike a lot of other more feminist stories of the era, the girls and women had to struggle to get to powerful positions and often had to make sacrifices (like Keepers having to remain virgin) in order to wield power.  I could relate to these women because this felt real, this felt like the world I lived in.  I hated having to read stories where the only people who got to do anything that meant anything were male, but on the other hand, I found the worlds where full gender equality was taken for granted was just a little too unbelievable.  A little too much like the magic.  I could relate to the struggles of the women and girls on Darkover and that drew me in.  It all felt so REAL.

DJR: Tell us about your story in Masques of Darkover.

SL: I've been *dying* to tell about this! This is my Bernie Sanders story!  Really! 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

R.I.P SFF.NET has gone the way of GEnie and other beloved communities. GEnie was my introduction to online gatherings. I met people, made friends (still going strong), brainstormed anthologies (and then sold stories to them), kept an eye on friends in need (and noticed when they disappeared and dispatched local friends to check on them), engaged in gossip I wish I hadn't, engaged in kindness I'm glad I did.

Dueling Modems and then picked up when GEnie couldn't survive the 2K transition. For me, neither had the same vitality, although folks did their best. provided an email address and website, however. And we all had to find new hosts as The End neared. As much as I valued these communities, I've oozed on over to blogging, FB, Twitville, and the like.

Life moves on. Communities evolve. Friendships endure.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Short Book Reviews: Can't Get Enough of Lois McMaster Bujold

The short review: A new Bujold novella set in the world of The Curse of Chalion! (Everyone jumps up and down for joy and runs out to buy it!)

The longer review: Readers often give the novella short shrift as a literary form. It’s too long to read easily in one sitting and not long enough to make a satisfying novel-variety reading experience. It’s also hard to write. You need a single plot line that’s rich enough to sustain the length but doesn’t meander off into the subplots and so forth that give a novel its complexity.

All that is prelude to the deliciousness of a Bujold novella. To say she’s a master of her craft is an understatement, also that she has the ability to take what seems to be a simple enough proposition (in this case, tracking down a murder suspect) and imbuing it with emotional resonance. Her work rarely leaves me unmoved, and this one is no different. She manages to bring the reader into her world of five gods, shamans and sorcerers and spirit animals (as a dog lover, I adored what she did with more-dog and Great Beast dog) and ordinary folk without ever inflicting massive backstory or infodump. The richness of this world and its potential for powerful human stories never fails to amaze me. The alternative viewpoint characters (Penric, a sorcerer-divine who is host to demon Desdemona, who carries the memories of all her previous partners; Locator Oswyl, beset by his own rigid sense of honor and his limited abilities; and Inglis, a shaman now bereft of his powers, struggling to keep the ghost of his best friend from being eternally sundered from grace, at the cost of his own blood) provide both close-up emotional intimacy and a wider perspective of events. Did I say I loved the dogs. And the ghosts. And the demon. And the dogs.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Meg Mac Donald on "Upon This Rock" in MASQUES OF DARKOVER

In the spirit of a masqued revel, here is a gala presentation of tales set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Some of these stories are humorous, others dark, some gritty, and others whimsical or romantic, but all reflect the richness and breadth of adventures to be found on Darkover.

Masques of Darkover will be released May 2, 2017 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble and Kobo. The print edition will be on sale on the release date.

After a number of years away from writing, Meg set pen to page again in 2011. Delightful chaos ensued. She shares her home in Michigan with her husband, children, a Norwegian Elkhound and a clowder of cats (yes, it actually is bigger on the inside). She would like to own horses again, sell a novel (how about a series? Any takers?) and has, sadly, never been to the Moon. Meg's sold stories to two previous Darkover anthologies (when she was very young but no less silly, she says).

Deborah J. Ross: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover.
Meg Mac Donald:  I landed on Darkover as a nerdy teenager who had very little in common with other people aside from being (mostly) human.  I was introduced to the series by a new friend who, in turn, had swiped some books from her older brother.  The John Norman Gor series didn't excite us, but the Darkover books were intriguing.  I'm thinking The Bloody Sun, Planet Wreckers and Sword of Aldones (which was probably the book that grabbed us both).  My friend (still a friend these decades later) was totally geeked about them and the idea that the Darkovans did not use long range weapons.  SF with swords and "magic" that wasn't magic.  Psychic powers.  Laran.  Cool.  I don't think my friend's brother ever got his books back and suspect some of them are still in my possession.  Sorry about that.  :-[

DJR: What about the world drew you in? 
MMD: Two things come immediately to mind.  First, likeable, memorable characters that fascinated me (even if they were a bit tortured).  Lew Alton being at the top of the list.  And Regis Hastur.  Loved Regis.  I remember having such sympathy for him.  I also liked how the world-building unfolded across so many books (sprawling, anyone?), the backgrounds of characters and events, the connections between stories--albeit some of those require more than a bit of mental juggling as the stories were not written in order and clearly Marion's concept of who some of these folks really were and what the world/culture/events were all about changed over time.  I always forgave the contradictions.  Maybe I instinctively recognized that Darkover grew and changed just as the author's world did.  Looking back, it seems very organic.  I certainly relate to that as a writer.  Some of those early books are tough reads now, but what a complicated tapestry the author wove over time.  How rich and intricate.  Family sagas and culture clashes are fertile grounds for story-telling and I was the right age at the right time.

DJR: What do you see as the future of Darkover? How has its readership changed over the decades? What book would you recommend for someone new to Darkover? 

MMD: I sincerely hope that books are kept in print and made available for new generations of readers.  I also hope the anthologies continue.  I believe that would have pleased the author a great deal because sharing Darkover obviously gave her a lot of joy.  Might new novels about new (and old) characters continue to be published?  Why not?  So much to still explore... and perhaps to reexamine. 

I really don't know that there is what you would call a "typical" Darkoever fan. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Short Fantasy Book Reviews: Near Misses, But No Banana

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco.
I really wanted to like this YA described by the publisher as “Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind.” It opened with great promise, and it has many things going for it. I loved the idea of an evolving relationship between the heroine, Tea, and her brother, Fox, after she inadvertently brings him back from the dead. The author gets kudos for a non-Western setting. There are lots of details about the city, the school, the monstrous and occasionally draconic daeva, and so forth. I loved the idea of heartsglass that changes color and reveals much of who you are, although I was perpetually confused about how it worked (also the geisha “asha” and why sometimes a bone witch – necromancer is one and sometimes not). There are a number of wonderful characters like Mistress Parmina (a most un-Japanese name) and Likh, who longs do dance but who is male and so is destined to become cannon fodder for the Deathseekers) and a sense of history and tradition. Unfortunately, the development of intriguing ideas fell short. The relationship with the brother happened slowly, almost as an afterthought or something pinned on. At first I thought how cool it was to have a Japanese Hogwarts, but the culture did not ring true. Attitudes and speech patterns felt Western, and the seemingly random inclusion of elements (like cuisine) from other areas of the world created a slap-dash patchwork instead of a seamless whole. The major problem though, was that there was no clear goal or threat that built to a climax. The result was a story that felt flat and episodic. The hazing from other students had as much emotional weight as the threat of the Faceless (a generic, all-purpose enemy who seem to be evil for its own sake). The utter absence of sex, even sexual feelings, was a jarring omission. These young women are being trained as hostesses and entertainers; it is impossible that the issue of intimate favors for their patrons never comes up. Even if the younger ones are protected from forming liaisons, surely the questions must come up for the more mature asha. It’s ridiculous to thing that a YA novel must exclude all references to sex when it is so important to teens in real life. Discerning older readers may well give this one a pass.

Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean  is a YA novel of the “Twilight with Angels and Demons”
sort. Our teen orphan heroine finds herself shipped off to grandparents in Scotland where she explores scenery, makes friends, and encounters the devastatingly gorgeous angel assigned the guard her. Even though she is told in no uncertain terms of the dire consequences of human-angel love affairs, she plunges into one obsessive daydream after another, refuses to heed his warnings to leave him alone, and in general behaves like an infatuated adolescent incapable of making rational decisions. To be sure, she has personality and strengths, not the least of which are keen mental abilities and a generous heart, and the story moves along nicely, with enough twists to keep the reader engaged. Logic bobbles (like why would a handsome, rich incubus need a date-rape drug when looks and money alone would get him as much sex as he wants?) flawed an otherwise enjoyable flow of prose, and the “the war [with demons] is just beginning” epilog felt tacked-on. These shortcomings may pale in comparison to the overall enjoyability of the story, particularly for a young adult reader but a more critical reader may find them annoying.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Movie Review: Hidden Figures

My older daughter  and I went to see HIDDEN FIGURES. We could have waited and seen it on Netflix (or whatever) but wanted to contribute to its financial success, albeit belatedly.

Be still, my geeky heart. I wish I could go back and re-take every science and math course I've ever had (well, college and beyond, let's not wax eloquent over high school algebra) from a perspective of loving science and tech-stuff and understanding what it's FOR. Understanding the universe and our planet and ourselves. Building incredibly nifty things like Hubble Space Telescope and the laptop I'm typing on and the Prius I drive. Fine-tuning my mind, pushing myself to not only comprehend but creatively and fearlessly master whatever I set myself to. Anyway, the movie...

We fell in love with the film within the first minute. Maybe the first 30 seconds after the opening credits. Even though it's been some time since it opened, there was a good-sized, highly responsive audience. We all laughed and cheered (and teared up) together. Afterward (in the ladies' loo, of course) a bunch of us chatted about it -- one was a young woman about to enter college. We were all jumping up and down, cheering science, and somberly reflecting on racism then and now.

Definitely my cup of tea. Definitely worth seeking it out in a theater. As we headed for the parking lot, an elderly lady with a walker asked if we'd just seen it and told us she'd see it twice. "Is a third time too much?" she inquired. "NO!" we chorused.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Jane Bigelow on "Duvin’s Grand Tour" in MASQUES OF DARKOVER

In the spirit of a masqued revel, here is a gala presentation of tales set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Some of these stories are humorous, others dark, some gritty, and others whimsical or romantic, but all reflect the richness and breadth of adventures to be found on Darkover.

Masques of Darkover will be released May 2, 2017 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble and Kobo. The print edition will be on sale on the release date.

Jane M. H. Bigelow had her first professional publication in Free Amazons of
Darkover. Since then, she has published a fantasy novel, Talisman, as well as short stories and short nonfiction on such topics as gardening in Ancient Egypt. Her short story, "The Golden Ruse" appeared in Luxor: Gods, Grit and Glory. She is currently on a mystery set in 17th century France. Jane is a retired reference librarian, a job which encouraged her to go on being curious about everything and exposed her to a rich variety of people. She lives in Denver, CO with her husband and two spoiled cats.

Deborah J. Ross: Tell us about your story in Masques of Darkover.

Jane M. H. Bigelow: “Duvin’s Grand Tour” began with a mental video clip of a well-meaning but clueless young male visitor to Darkover walking through Thendara. He stops where he is when he sees a beautiful young woman walking gracefully through the crowds. Our visitor has been warned to be circumspect in what he says to or about women, and he’s heard the rumors that Darkovan nobility can read thoughts, so he tries really hard not to think anything offensive. He wouldn’t want to offend, anyway; he’s a nice fellow. Womanly, that’s the word he wants to describe her, womanly. She giggles.

Who is this man? What’s he doing on Darkover? And how did a P.G. Wodehouse character get so far from home? Who’s the woman? Why is she amused rather than offended?

I did give Duvin one advantage over the usual Wodehouse protagonist. Although he thinks of himself as not clever, he has a gift for languages.  I wanted him to be able to communicate with people independently, even though it soon became clear to me that he had not come to Darkover as a Terran official, and I didn’t want to use the “visitor discovers unsuspected telepathic abilities” trope for a humorous story.

This is the first story I’ve done where humor was the main focus.  All those people who warned that writing funny is seriously hard were right, but it’s also a great deal of fun. Thank you, Deborah, for encouraging me to write it.

DJR: How do you balance writing in some else’s world and being true to your own creative imagination?”

JMHB: For me, writing Darkover stories is like writing historical fiction or alternate history. There’s a framework of accepted fact, but it certainly doesn’t cover everything. It gives the writer a starting point; the stories branch out from there. For example, I recently had a story published in Luxor: Gods, Grit and Glory, an anthology of Ancient Egyptian historical fiction. Several authors chose similar time periods, but they certainly didn’t do the same story. Darkovan history is also long, and varied. There’s plenty of room for writers to wander.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Short Book Reviews: Thoughtful, Inspiring YA/MG For Everyone

Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier.

Dimple Lala is an American Indian (as in East Indian, not Native American) caught between the traditional world of her parents and the life of a normal American teenager. Her best friend, willowy blonde ultra-cool Gwyn, thinks Indian culture is exotic and cool. Dimple’s one passion is her photography, and the world as she sees it through her camera lens is described in luminescent detail. Only here can she be herself, instead of awkward and alienated. At school, she can never compete with Gwyn; at home, wishes her meddling parents would stay out of her hair. When they arrange an introduction to a “suitable boy” (suitable for an arranged marriage, that is), Dimple goes on a blind date that Gwyn had set up, with predictably disastrous consequences. As the story unfolds, spilling out into the Indian music club scene, Dimple comes into her own, fusing the best of both worlds. An array of vivid secondary character and gorgeous sensory detail mark this as a book to be savored and shared.

We Are the Goldens by 

This book is deceptively simple in tone yet rich in nuance and courageous in its approach to complex, painful issues. This book chronicles the parallel journeys of two teenaged sisters, using an interesting twist on the usual YA first-person narrative in that one sister is addressing the other: their relationship forms the core of the story as they grow from intertwined to antagonistic to individuated. The story opens with the narrator and younger sister, Nell, beginning high school and discovering that the previously close relationship with adored, perfect Layla has now developed fracture lines. While Nell develops an unrequited crush on a glamorous older boy, Layla begins acting mysteriously. She, too, has a secret – one that Nell discovers and that has the power to tear them and their whole family apart. Highly recommended for both adult and teen readers for its clear and excellent handling of relationships and sexuality.

The Cartographer's Daughter, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

This lovely middle grade story offers a wonderful twist to the usual fantasy tale featuring adolescent heroes. The protagonist’s strength is not magic or physical prowess but her understanding of how our knowledge of the landscape gives us power. The techniques of map-making are woven into the story in beautiful, evocative ways. The plot itself involves a group of friends, a journey to forbidden lands, monsters and creatures, villains and allies. Much has a familiar feel, but the use of cartography makes this book stand out. It would make a great book for a family to read together and discuss the principles of geography and their relationship to the plot.

Thursday, March 16, 2017



Three months later
I'm still vacuuming up dog fur,
Each clump a ghost of her.

Maybe this one hair
Came from the previous Shepherd,
Loyal, fierce, and strong,
Or this bit of fluff
My old tortoiseshell cat.
Gone four days later,
Content to pass on at 20 years of age
In the sure knowledge
She'd finally outlasted the damned dog.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Marella Sands on "Bone of My Bone" in MASQUES OF DARKOVER

In the spirit of a masqued revel, here is a gala presentation of tales set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Some of these stories are humorous, others dark, some gritty, and others whimsical or romantic, but all reflect the richness and breadth of adventures to be found on Darkover.

Masques of Darkover will be released May 2, 2017 and is now available for pre-order at, Barnes and Noble and Kobo. The print edition will be on sale on the release date.

Marella Sands was born in a greenhouse surrounded by smug hothouse roses, but they made her sneeze so much, she left the greenhouse for different pastures and now lives in a fairy hut by the shores of a beautiful blue lake where she is sung to sleep every night by the song of the tree frogs. Or, at least that's what it says in her bio. Her latest works are a series of novellas about a bartender who must cope with the discovery of a supernatural world just beyond our own that wants her for its own purposes. Through a Keyhole, Darkly, the first of the Tales of the Angels' Share series, was published in September 2016.

Deborah J. RossTell us about your introduction to Darkover. (Funny stories welcome.) 

Marella Sands: I don't have a funny story, sadly. I believe my introduction to Darkover was a second-hand copy of Hawkmistress, which I still have. 

DJR: What about the world drew you in?

MS: I think, at first, it was the adventure aspect (especially with Hawkmistress). I always wanted to see another book about Romilly, after she'd gotten Tower training and had married and was the king's hawkmistress. What other adventures awaited her? What happened when she went back home? As inspiring as she was as a teen character, how much more so would she had been as an adult? 

DJR: What inspired your story in Masques of Darkover

Friday, March 10, 2017

Short Book Reviews: Prose Poetry to Savor

Mary Oliver has been one of my favorite poets since I read her poem, “The Journey,” at just the right
time in my life. I was delighted to see her new collection, “Upstream,” and I was not disappointed. Surprised a bit by the prose format, but not disappointed. The trick is to read these entries as if they were in “poetical” form, that is broken down into short lines, to be read slowly and savored, not your usual essays that you can gloss over with some version of speed-reading, grabbing for the main concept and not the subtleties of language and imagery. As with “proper” poetry, the journey is the heart of the piece, and phrases that ring in the mind like sweet bells or brash sirens can be found everywhere. The poems form a loose sort of journey centered around a cabin in the woods near a pond (somewhere in New England, I suppose), through the seasons and with digressions into the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and others. I love what she has to say about them and how — especially in the cases of Emerson and Whitman — she weaves those observations into the context of the natural world that was theirs as well. Just as “The Journey” struck me in the right way at the right time, Upstream carried me along through the final illness and death of our dog. Not a big thing in the grand scheme of things, but neither is a turtle laying her eggs, a wounded gull, or building a little house by hand, or any of the other things portrayed so beautifully in Oliver’s work.


Wild Geese 

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting 
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver

Friday, February 24, 2017

In Troubled Times: Seasons and Cycles

In my work and my life, I notice that I go through times of intense activity and productivity, but that these eventually spin down. No one can maintain such a fever pitch indefinitely. When I am working “well,” I cruise along at a sustainable rate, confident that I have that extra literary “gear” when needed. The same is true for emotional intensity regarding political and other matters, in my case preparing for the upcoming parole hearing of the man who raped and murdered my mother. We step up to the plate, do what is necessary, deal with what we must, and set aside what we cannot handle (hopefully for some future time, rather than burying it indefinitely).

For every advance, there comes a rest. A rest is not a retreat, not a failure, although at times it can seem so. We can become so accustomed to putting forth our maximum effort that it becomes normal. It’s no longer a matter of setting aside other needs to make a heroic effort; those needs get put “on hold” indefinitely. We become desensitized to our own inner promptings, as well as the needs of those closest to us such as our families and partners. We can find all sorts of justifications for our continued dedication to that task or good cause. Just because we can carry the weight to the exclusion of everything else doesn’t mean that it’s healthy for us to do so. It’s important to recognize the difference between an emotionally intense sprint and a long-term, marathon effort.

Another reason why it’s often hard to let go of sprint-mode is that a return to a more balanced life and normal energy levels feels like back-sliding or going in reverse. It’s the emotional equivalent of how the room keeps spinning even when we stop and stand still. Sometimes there is indeed a dip in energy to balance out the extra energy expended during the all-out push. I have to keep reminding myself that needing “down” time is not the same thing as weakness, failure, or deterioration. Recharging my physical and emotional batteries, so to speak, is an essential part of being able to take the next step forward.

These periods of rest always last longer than I think they should. Recuperation and regeneration take time, and they also take resources. Simply ceasing activity stops the outflow, but it may take a long time for the inflow to restore balance.  I think of the earth as it passes through the seasons and how winter is a fallow time. Fallow doesn’t mean inert, though. We may not be able to see it, but there are slow, restorative changes happening in root and soil, branch and seed. 

What does it mean for me as a human being to be in a state of restoration as opposed to immobility?

What nourishes my spirit? (Music, friends, nature, meditative practices, community?)

What refreshes my body? (Good food, exercise, fresh air, massage?)

What rejuvenates my mind? (Reading, learning a new skill or musical instrument, museums, lively conversation, travel, lifelong education?) 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Day Without Immigrants

Today is the Day Without Immigrants. I wouldn't be here if my father had not been allowed to immigrate in 1922, before the quota on Jews.

What's your immigration story?

Every Evil Act...

"Every evil act tends to harden man's heart, that is, to deaden it. Every good act tends to soften it, to make it more alive. The more man's heart hardens, the less freedom does he has to change; the more is he determined already by a previous action. But there comes a point of no return, when man's heart has become so hardened and so deadened that he has lost the possibility of freedom, when he is forced to go on and on until the unavoidable end which is, in the last analysis, his own physical or spiritual destruction."

-- Erich Fromm 

This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alikelicense.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

In Troubled Times: Seeking Courage, Finding Strength

Given everything I’ve been dealing with – fear about the unfolding political scene on one hand and the recurring nightmare of an upcoming parole hearing for the man who raped and murdered my mother on the other – I have at times felt powerless. Not just powerless but unable to summon the energy to continue what seems like an endless, life-draining battle. I become prey to fear at these times, fear that I will slip back into unending waking nightmare that was my experience of PTSD. I have worked hard to claw my way back to health, and when I am overwhelmed, I forget all the lessons I have learned and the ways I have changed.

It’s said that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real (or Fuck Everything And Run). It takes courage and a dedication to clear-sighted integrity, seeing what is real both in myself and in the world, to overcome those fears.

But I’ve also heard courage is fear that has said its prayers. I don’t have to be fearless. I’m not sure that’s possible without massive self-delusion. To do what I am called to do even though I am afraid is the essence of courage.

Where do I find such courage? It’s commonplace to suppose that “doing something for someone else” or because no one else can do it is the best way to overcome fear. I’ve done my share of acting according to this belief. I find that although it is sometimes effective, it’s harsh instead of nourishing. It’s a position of desperation. I soon find myself “running on empty.” I’m the last person I take care of or even give consideration to. In fact, the very notion that taking action when afraid can be nourishing came as a startling revelation to me.

There are so many things I cannot change, the past being at the top of that list. But I do have some say in my own attitude. Instead of seeing myself as desperate and without any choices but to plunge ahead, gritting my teeth the whole way, I can see myself as resourceful. I learned to do this for others when my kids were having a hard time in their teenaged years and my therapist pointed out that they didn’t need me to inflict my own worries on them, communicating that I thought they were incapable of handling their problems; what they needed was my faith in their ability to find their own creative solutions.

So if I’m going to be creative and resourceful in facing the parole hearing and the distress rampant in my community, I need to think “outside the box.” Not attending the hearing is an option that never occurred to me in the early years. Once I let go of “I have to do this,” I see other possibilities. Some I can anticipate on a reasonable basis (another family member might attend, a representative of the D.A.’s office might – actually, does – attend; I could send a video of my statement; I could hire an attorney to attend in my place), but I must also keep in mind that my imagination doesn’t dictate what happens. Many times I thought I knew all the possible outcomes, only to discover that what actually happened was something I had no way of anticipating.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

In Troubled Times: Letting Others Shield Me

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well that I’m a dragon-slayer. I place myself squarely between my loved ones and anything that threatens them. It’s a longstanding family joke that the only time I used the physical aspect of 30+ years of Chinese martial arts was when I jumped between my preschool-aged daughter and a rampaging swan (and kicked the swan in the head). Now I’m in the position of the taken-care-of, the protected, not the protector.

This sea change came about as a result of a series of family conferences about the upcoming parole hearing. I mentioned earlier that I’ve learned to pay careful attention when people who love me express concern for my mental health. They have good reason to. At every parole hearing I’ve attended in person, I have been the family spokesperson. That meant staying focused and present, no matter what was happening. It meant putting my own needs and reactions on hold so that I could act.  The first hearing took place in San Quentin State Penitentiary. I cannot begin to tell you what a not-nice place that is, even if you know you can walk out. Yet I was so focused on my responsibility to prevent the perpetrator from hurting anyone else, I never thought twice about attending or speaking, and it took a terrible toll on my health and sanity. My family and my close friends know what a dark time I went through and how hard I worked to recover. I have learned the hard way that just because I am capable of doing something scary and hard does not mean that I have to.

The last hearing took place in 2008, and neither my sister nor I attended it. We arrived at our decisions independently but in conversation; we each supported the other’s decision, recognizing that we don’t have to do make the same choice in order to support one another. A month before the hearing, the inmate – Sean DeRutte -- sent a letter to us via Victim Witness Services. When mine arrived, I asked my husband to look at it first. When he read it, he turned sheet white and said, “Don’t read this.” On the first page was a description of the sexual assault, containing details never before divulged.

In all the years since his incarceration, De Rutte never admitted to the sexual assault. Doubtless his attorney counseled him to not mention any crime for which he was not convicted (and this was a plea bargain, so he was not convicted of rape). However, the Parole Board Commissioners had previously made it clear that until he was able to express understanding and remorse, he was never going to be released. That he chose to inflict the details of a violent sexual assault on the daughters of his victim demonstrates he has no empathy for other people’s pain.

Once I stopped shaking and made some outreach calls, I tried to telephone my sister. I was too late in reaching her, for she had already opened and read her letter, and while in a public place, the post office. She was terribly distressed by it, as any person with a shred of sensitivity can imagine. I had my husband fax the letter to the District Attorney to use during the hearing. Apparently, even more shocking details came out then, so much so that the D.A. cautioned us to not read the transcript.

Fast forward 5 years to the current hearing, I contemplated whether or not to attend, resolved not to, and decided furthermore that since I have so far been spared these additional, appalling details of the assault, it would be in my best interest to continue to shield myself and to allow people who love me to help me.

Not knowing things doesn’t come easily to me. Most of my life I’ve used knowledge as a way of gaining control over my life. I found much truth in the saying, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” So to deliberately not open a file or a letter, to not search out facts that have great emotional importance in my life, feels cowardly and counterproductive. And yet that is also what seems healthiest for me to do now. I truly do not want to know any more about what my mother suffered in the last minutes of her life. It’s easier to remember that and respect the boundaries I’ve set for myself if I have help.

This means, among other things, that not only am I not going to attend this hearing – at which time the letter and other aspects of the crime will undoubtedly be discussed – but I must guard myself carefully in the weeks to come. At the same time, I must remember that I am not alone. How does this translate into action? It means two things. First, it’s up to me to ask for help. This is both difficult and easy. Easy because it feels active, and I’ve found that taking empowering action lowers my anxiety. I’m doing something. At the same time, it’s hard to step away from the solo paladin, front-line role. I have a long-time habit of mistrusting any action that I haven’t done myself or personally observed when it comes to this area of my life. Now I must shift to relying on the judgment of others, to take their word on what is safe for me. I know they’ll make errors, but I hope these will be in the direction of protection I may not actually need and not in the other direction. If one of them misjudges the emotional pain something might cause me and as a result I don’t learn certain details of the assault or subsequent events, that is not a problem. It doesn’t endanger my safety.

For someone as information-centered as I have been, it’s a big deal to relinquish specific accuracy for the bigger picture. I am not a prosecuting attorney arguing the case, requiring that high degree of precision. I already know far more than is emotionally healthy for me. At one time, I believed that no information could be worse than what I imagined, but as I have learned more with each successive hearing, I see that is not true. Rather, the reverse. I have learned more than I ever wanted or needed to, and now it is time to close the door and say No more.

My gratitude to those loved ones who are willing to act as buffers for me is immense. I understand that the same details that might give me nightmares for years are horrific but not nearly as traumatizing for them. Nevertheless, it is sometimes a struggle to allow them to place themselves between me and the fire. I wrestle with stepping back and accepting their help. That part feels passive in the sense of not doing anything but is actually receptive. I think of how a gift enriches both the recipient and the giver, and how good it feels when I am able to help someone else. When I see that I am offering that same opportunity to my loved ones, I feel empowered rather than indebted. This isn’t charity, it’s compassion in action. And for that to happen, I have to hold open the space for others to act on my behalf.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Masques of Darkover cover reveal

Here is the cover for Masques of Darkover, to be released May 2017. The design is by Dave Smeds. I'm inordinately pleased with it!

Table of Contents

Jane Bigelow, Duvin’s Grand Tour

Rosemary Edghill, Generations 

Meg Mac Donald, Upon this Rock 

Evey Brett, Only Men Dance

Shariann Lewitt, The Wind 

Ty Nolan, Dark Comfort 

Steven Harper, Sight Unseen 

Robin Wayne Bailey, The Mountains of Light 

Marella Sands, Bone of My Bone 

Rebecca Fox, Where You’re Planted 

Leslie Roy Carter and Margaret L. Carter, Believing 

India Edghill, The Price of Stars             

Thursday, January 19, 2017

In Troubled Times Guest Post: Stephen Shumaker on Don’t Feed the Bully

In Troubled Times: Don’t Feed the Bully
By Stephen Shumaker

The last presidential election changed me, as I imagine, it changed a lot of people.

My change was wholly unexpected, and wildly out of character for me. I went from being slightly political to rabidly political. The closer the election came was like watching a car accident as it happened over a period of months. I watched it the same way I watch horror movies—with an anxious trepidation that becomes overwhelming if I let it.

Once the crash finally happened, and we got the result that everyone feared, I couldn’t stop watching this horror movie that had become American politics. Is that an exaggeration? I don’t think so. I turn on Rachel Maddow or Seth Meyers with the same nervousness that I feel when I watch American Horror Story or those cheesy movies about demonic possession. I want to be scared; I like that feeling, enjoy the thrill.

The difference is that this new thrill that I tune into could—and likely will—hurt the people that I love, in ways that I don’t know how to stop.

The thing that is attached to this new old thrill that I have when I watch these political shows, that I try to fight every day, is a sense of helplessness that is so deep it threatens to paralyze me. In a few ways, it has paralyzed me; writing hasn’t exactly been nonexistent, but it’s been so much harder. It’s so easy to get lost in the political mire of Trump said this, Trump did that. So much easier to watch the horror show unfolding across the country, with the latest “what our President-elect Tweeted” and the chaos unfolding in North Carolina and the attacks on people of color or LGBTQ running rampant because our incoming Chief approves such actions. So much easier to lose myself in the horror show than to focus on doing something.

Monday, January 16, 2017

In Troubled Times: A Personal Sanctuary

When I received a letter from the Department of Corrections, informing me of the late March parole hearing for the man who raped and murdered my mother, I felt overwhelmed. It had been as much as I could do to maintain emotional equilibrium in the face of the election and then the illness and death of our wonderful German Shepherd Dog, Tajji. I knew the next hearing was schedule for 2017, but I did not expect to begin the year in dread of that ordeal. I know what these hearings have done to me in the past and how hard I have had to work on survival and recovery. Each hearing has not only opened old wounds but created new ones as more was revealed.

Almost immediately, I started noticing worrisome changes in my mental health. In the 30 years since my mother was killed, I’ve come to know the “warning signs” quite well. I no longer ignore them as I once did. I dare not “soldier on” or bury myself in work: that way lies madness. Thank goodness, I have never been tempted to use substances, legal or not, to escape. Instead, I run to anxiety as my drug of choice. This time I decided to take action on my own behalf before I got into serious trouble.

First I enlisted allies. At the top of that list is my family, both my daughters (one at home, one across the country) and husband, and my sister, with whom I’m very close but who lives in a different part of the state. I let them know I was having a hard time and that if I was distracted or irritable (or flaming irrational), to not take it personally because that meant I needed help. No matter what’s going on, extra hugs are always helpful! So it goes without saying that I am asking for – and receiving – more physical affection. I find my whole body relaxing into a hug and I often fall asleep while cuddling with my husband, I feel so safe and loved.

I decided to tackle my broken sleep first. My daughter and I had gotten into the habit of watching videos until it was bed time. We made a pact (and shook on it) to turn off the television early, to not begin a new episode of whatever program we were streaming after 9 pm. I was delighted at her enthusiasm for meditating with me. We got out our cushions and sat on the living room floor, facing one another. The first evening, we lasted only 5 minutes, but that was enough to produce a sound night’s sleep. Since then we’ve missed a night here and there, but have been continuing the practice for progressively longer times. I don’t need an hour; 10 or 15 minutes seem enough right now. Soon we realized that one of the cats was joining us, sitting in between us or on my lap, and purring. I found the purring added to my relaxation and mental calm.

Monday, January 9, 2017

In Troubled Times: Overwhelm

Life has treated me to a bumpy ride recently. I’ve written about challenging times following the election, with all the fear, confusion, and so on. It seemed the bad news would never end when Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds died. We lost our old German Shepherd Dog after a short but difficult illness that turned all our lives inside out. Through this, I tried to practice good self care, cultivate insight and perspective, and share my journey. Mostly I was able to regain my emotional and spiritual balance, and the periods of feeling at a loss grew shorter. The grief for our dog felt natural and healthy; she had gone peacefully in the end, surrounded by love, and we all had so many happy memories of her.

And then I received a letter from the Department of Corrections with the date of the next parole hearing of the man who’d raped and murdered my mother. It’s such a horrendous thing to be reminded of at the best of times, but now, when my stability is already fragile, it’s particularly awful. I’ve written about the murder many times over the years, from my introduction letter upon joining SFWA to a recent post as part of #HoldOnToTheLight (a blog campaign encompassing posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues). I tell my story when I campaign against the death penalty. As much as I do not want to give a single thought to the murder and its aftermath right now, I’m going to have to deal with it. Whether or not I attend in person, send a letter, record a video statement, ask friends to write letters opposing his release, it’s in my mind. Like some particularly vile parasitic worm, it’s wending its way from my thoughts into my guts.

Sometimes treading water is the best you can do, and that’s enough. Running as fast as you can to just stay in place at least keeps you in place. Life flattens us and we have a good cry and then pick ourselves up. Our friends (and sometimes strangers) give us a hand up. We do the same for them. But sometimes what life piles on us is Just. Too. Much.

I didn’t get to vote on this. I didn’t ask for it. My mother was an amazing, compassionate, intelligent, radiant soul. Even if I walk away, the way her life ended will still be with me. I can’t take it out of my mind and body, let alone my spirit.

It sucks bigtime.

That’s where I am today. Despite all the self care, I’m sleeping badly. I’m irritable, at times bordering on irrational, although my family nudges me back to sanity. My muscles reflect the inner escalation of tension. Most of the time, it’s a lot of fun to be me, but not now. I’m not sure why the people who love me put up with me.

Sleep is my miner’s canary, my early-warning signal that I’m no longer treading water, I’m sinking. I don’t ever, ever want to go back to what happened to me after the first parole hearing, so I take these signals very seriously. I take it even more seriously when a dear friend and, separately, a family member express concern for me. I’ve learned to not brush off such concerns with, “I’m fine.” I’m so clearly not fine. If someone who cares about me sees something in my behavior, or hears something behind my words or in my unguarded expression, for them to say something to me is an act of pure love.

When we’re drowning, we need all the love we are offered.

I am loved, and that’s how I’m going to get through this as a sane, loving person.

In the next installment of “In Troubled Times,” I’ll share some of the ways I’m giving myself extra help. I don’t expect it to be an easy passage, but I’ve learned a lot over the years about surviving even what seems to be unsurvivable. Please come on that journey with me: it’s not one anybody should ever take alone.