Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Tannery

This tannery/leather dyeing enterprise is 400 years old. It is a family-run business in Morroco. When you ask to be shown around a little, one of the kids will lead you up long narrow steps to the rooftop, and give you a sprig of mint to hold under your nose. It doesn't help.
There is a tannery in Limori's South-End, too. It is guarded by a vicious dog. He is Sadima's very first friend.
click the picture....

Monday, July 14, 2008

fantasy writers--read this list

Excerpted from Sharyn November’s summer 2008 article for Locus magazine:

“I took a quick, informal poll of my bookseller and librarian friends and offer it as an anecdotal request: They are tired of faeries, werewolves and other shapeshifters, vampires, dragons, the Greek gods, trilogies, pirates, zombies, teen superheroes, the teenage Evil Genius, any kind of boarding school setting, “mean girls”, underground cities, (especially New York or London), the Victorians, the Male Chosen One (any genre) and retold fairy tales." Sharyn November, Locus YA issue, 2008 **see also below**

Since this list reinforced what I thought/feared must be true by now, I asked permission to post it. Sharyn said: "....please do add that all of those rules go out the window when something is wonderfully written. "

Writing me to inform me of a spelling error (ok 2 errors), she adds: "... knock-off urban fantasy and anything triggered by a tattoo."

So, writers, that's the assignment: Fresh fantasy ideas would be very welcome. Wonderful writing always is.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

sacred scars update, quick and done

Jux has survived, a homeless, familyless child in a starving city with cobblestone streets and an inept king. He has loved only one person, and she is in terrible trouble.

Sadima is running, sobbing in each breath, too terrified to even look back.

Hahp is standing before a wall of stone, shaking, knowing he must walk through it, knowing what it will do to him.
This is a ceiling from a Paris renovation of an historic building. Standing beneath it, I thought about massive wealth, the options it brings, the art that money midwives. Somiss's mother has ceilings like this, painted, with gold leaf on the rosettes.

Adding this on June 2, 2011:  Updates on the third book in progress can be found here:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

the woman through the window

This bronze is in a gallery in Paris.
I stared at it through the window, walked by twice, hoping the shop would open. When it did, they let me photograph it, and others...I have better pics from inside the shop. But it was this window-glare-muted-first-glimpse-image that sparked a book idea that is just growing in my head like strangler vine at the edge of the garden.

The artist: Dirk De Keyzer has many more wonderful bronzes.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

the trees, the trees, the trees....

Trees are everywhere in my world. Yours, too. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the Bodhi tree which shaded Buddah's enlightenment, the Christmas trees, my father's fruit orchards, my screwy Scotch-Irish family tree, the silk oaks, pindo palms, beaucarneas ,and bananas outside my door. The pine trees I grew up with in Colorado and the pine forest where Sadima is hiding. I will be with her there all day, but first...
This is a baobab tree on Oahu, in a botanical garden. Lynne Wikoff was kind enough to provide contrast in scale. It was amazing to just stand there and look up. This is a smallish Baobab. This is a big one, in Africa, their home. I have a baby baobab. My son started it from seed. It's about six inches tall in a four inch pot. Amazing.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


My friend Katie Davis has a great interview up on her blog, about her new book. Take a look!
In the interview, she mentions teachertube.
Wandering around there, I came across this slide show, basically, of statistics.
I am writing something called Free Rat. Well, I will be writing it as soon as I turn in Sacred Scars and a few other things. And it is about the future the slide show describes, the connectivity implied. I thought I was exaggerating.
Guess not.

Friday, July 04, 2008

research: Mmm...mmm, good!

I have written over forty historical novels for middle grade readers. Research is an old friend, a good friend, and I employ all its tricks and tools to enrich my fantasy novels. Two great sources:
which links thousands of small rare and used bookstores
(and a few large ones)

The University of Idaho maintains a massive, worldwide list of primary source repositories. I have used it extensively; it's remarkable.
Primary sources are diaries, old newspapers, rent receipts from the 1800's, illuminated manuscripts for the 1200s, any kind of record left behind by real people. Fascinating!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Book-building, again

Fez, Morocco: South-End, Limori
South-End is a dockside slum in Limori, the city where my novel Sacred Scars takes place. This is the second in a trilogy, and the first title (Skin Hunger) took place in the largest part of Limori, the center, with Market Square and the public wells , where most of the shops are.

Limori rises like this, from a bay. The buildings are like this, old, jumbled, brick and mud. Limori has a second, higher hill--Ferrin Hill--that is visible in from the highest parts of South-End as line of tree-covered foothills that shelter the mansions of the wealthy. And beyond that are the black cliffs at the north end of the city.

South-End is where the ships come in with all kinds of goods. Hahp's father's fleet has made a fortune.
Sadima is there now. I am so worried about her. Inside the stone cliffs, Franklin is frantic, torn, caving in on himself. In those same cliffs, 200 years later, Hahp is fighting for his sanity, his life. Gerrard's secrets are keeping them both alive.

And I must go back to work.

If you enlarge the picture, you will get a real sense South End. The piles of stuff in the foreground are heaps of sheep skins. Fez is a tannery town, the home of the worlds oldest university and a thousand other interesting things. Look closer. On the thousand-year-old brick and adobe-wash buildings--there are hundreds of satellite dishes. The King provides internet access.