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Reclaiming the Website

I think it’s time to reclaim this space as the primary location for news about Megan Lindholm and my thoughts in general.
Like many users, I’ve grown disenchanted with Facebook. I’ll still be posting there from time to time, but mostly to let people know when there is a new entry up here or at

The basic update: I’m home at the farm in the McKenna area of Washington state. I haven’t been doing a lot of writing lately; instead I’ve been getting the gardens and lawns back into shape after a very rainy May and too much travel in June. The grass is literally head high in places that are usually lawn-like.

I’ve been realizing two things about myself. I don’t travel as well as I used to. In response to that, I’ll be cutting way back on conventions and festivals. I will keep the commitments I’ve already made but I’ll be very conservative about adding anything new to my schedule.

The second thing I’m realizing is that I’m no longer as driven about my writing. In fact, I haven’t typed anything on any story for over a week now. I’m starting to wonder if I’ve retired as a writer and didn’t really notice I’d done it.

For now, there’s a lot to keep me busy around here, and I’m rethinking how to balance my life. ‘What to leave in, what to leave out’ as the song says.

I’m still writing in my head, of course. While I’m mowing the field and planting seeds, the stories unfold and I hear the dialogue. But it’s like watching something simmering on the stove, and knowing that it’s not ready to serve yet. The stories need more time before they are ready to be written, perhaps.

So for now I’ll keep tending the land and thinking the stories until I feel it’s time to sit at the keyboard and write again.

Workaday Work

I think the hardest work I do every day is the repetitive chores that every home or writer has. Sweep the floors, do the dishes. Mow a lawn. I dread the repetitive tasks that feel like I’ve accomplished nothing, for in a day or a week, it has be done all over again.
I take a lot of satisfaction in doing at least one thing each day that is a ‘finishable’ task. It’s best for me when it’s something I can view at the end of the day, or the next morning and think, “Well, that’s done.” I try to have at least one task that fits into that category every day. The sense of advancing every day is what keeps me going.
I think it’s particularly important if you have a long term goal. If you want to have a lovely garden, turn up some earth or plant a perennial. If you want to become a writer, do a bit of writing today, no matter how short. Even keeping a journal, or reading on a topic that relates to your long term goal can give me that encouragement toward a long term goal.
It’s a trick that works for me.

4:30 AM in Tacoma

“Perhaps,” she thought to herself, “This is when I’m meant to be awake. Perhaps I am being awakened because there is something important I’m meant to do in this time. Something I cannot possibly do at any other moment in my life.”

A Break from Writing

Well, actually, it wasn’t me writing today.  It was Robin Hobb. But the fingers get stiff and the elbow gets ‘mousers burn’ and I need to walk away from the keyboard for a time. So I took myself for a walk outside and the dogs came with me.  The spring rains have washed a lot more junk to the surface.  This was my find today.  I couldn’t pull it all the way out of the dirt, but I stood it up so I won’t hit it with the tractor.  I spent a good part of yesterday on the garage floor, trying to unwrap wire from the garden tractor’s blade.  This old mattress now looks like some sort of odd wire sculpture.

InstagramCapture_75bb4085-1e43-4be6-a6e3-f3d794c087d1This was my next find.  A big nest of red-headed ants in the middle of a tangle of Japanese knotweed and Himalayan blackberry that I need to clear out of the pasture.  Both of those plants are invasive species in Washington State.  I do battle constantly with the blackberries. This is my first skirmish with knotweed.

InstagramCapture_40f177a3-4674-4f1b-90b3-903805cd2689 And on across the pasture, where I found this. I don’t know how many dollars worth of little tiles these are.  The previous owners must have decided to salvage them. But whatever container they were in gave way, and I’ve no idea why they were stored out in the pasture.

Oddly pretty.

WP_20160319_005And on, following what we call the coyote trail, down to the bottom lands. The coyotes have begun to sing again at night, but I haven’t see any yet.  I hope they stay down by the river and away from my chickens.

InstagramCapture_33192eb9-0e52-4d32-8359-23ad51de2732There are some young nettles in this picture.  They make a nice spring tonic as a tea or a steamed vegetable, but they have to be picked with gloves.  I didn’t have a basket to put them in, so left them alone.

WP_20160319_007And into a part of the forest that is more or less open.  In a few more weeks, there will be flowers here.

WP_20160319_010WP_20160319_011In this part of the forest, I am a small life form and not essential to any part of it.  If I fell flat and died here, I’d be useful.  But I’m not needed here. This system functions perfectly without humanity, and that’s a thought that I find comforting.  I am a guest here and should mind my manners accordingly.

WP_20160319_012And the river reminds me that I can mark what I ‘own’ with pink surveyor’s tape. But the river will rise and the river will fall.  It will take trees and land and leave trees and land as it pleases.

WP_20160319_013A tiny announcement of spring ignores the calendar date.


The Spring day closes


Where there is water.

As Issa observed a long time ago.

And I wander on.  To where a boulder sticking out from the cliff face makes a sort of grotto. Water runs over the boulder in a random veil of drips.  Within is dark and moss and tiny plants.

WP_20160319_017It is time to follow the path back up the hill.  I can follow the gentle slope.  Or climb the cliff.

WP_20160319_019Brambles.  Loose earth. Dead branches in the way.  18 says I can make it, easy.  64 points out that if I fall, even with my cell phone, there is no one home to come pick me up.  I should take the trodden path.

WP_20160319_020But from the top, I can lean over and take this shot and say, ‘Some days, 18 still gets to win.  But probably not for too much longer.’

Time to go back to the house and the keyboard.  Time for Robin to get back to work.

Apologies to the Earth

Once, somebody loved this little piece of land.

It was a long time ago, I think. Back when it was a working farm.  Long before we lived near it.

Then for a time, it belonged to people who felt no obligation to it.  The pasture became a place to get rid of your garbage.  Some of the garbage we inherited was new and fairly easy to pick up.


Some of it was old and had sunken into the earth.  The more we picked up, the more we discovered buried under the top layer.  Cans and plastic water bottles.  Broken toys and pieces of old furniture.




We had to rent a 30 yard dumpster. That’s 30 cubic yards. We filled it twice.





Hauling away the trash cost close to one thousand dollars in dumpster rental and disposal fees.

We bought the land in September.  We spent a lot of September, October and November picking up trash and paying to have it hauled away. We filled up our recycling bins with old plastic water bottles and cans.  We took potentially useful items to donate to a second hand store. Paint and acetone and old cleaning supplies were hauled to the hazardous waste disposal site.

We cut blackberry thickets.  and we cut more blackberry thickets.  We found Japanese knotweed, a very invasive species, growing in the blackberry thickets.  We cut that down. It was dirty, hard and discouraging work. Cut and burn, for if you let the pieces fall on the ground, they sprout up again.  Machete and snipper work.  If you run over it with a tractor, you just spread it.  Cut it down, rake it up, burn it.


Then the rains came. Record rainfall  turned the meadow into a shallow lake and the paths to mud.

Now it is February and the rains continue.  But spring starts to venture into view.  And the land remembers that once someone loved it.  Someone planted daffodils along the stream edge.


Where a pile of garbage was picked up, jonquils now remember the touch of sunlight on the earth and they reach up again.


It feels like being forgiven.  And offered a second chance.




Working for wages

Once upon a time, I was not a full time writer. I was a writer, and the book it took me a year to write earned me about $4500.00 That’s not a livable income, even with an employed spouse. So I worked many another job as well.

I worked as a waitress in Seattle at a restaurant called Sambo’s Pancake House. Yes. Later, they changed the name to Seasons after a bankruptcy, I believe, but it still foundered and went out of business. I worked there in the early 80’s, a tough time in the Seattle area.

At that time, it was perfectly legal for a restaurant to pay their wait staff less than minimum wage. The assumption was that the tips we earned made up the difference, and so we were actually getting the minimum wage. The restaurant demanded that we report enough tips to show that we were getting minimum wage, and they looked aside from the fact that some of us made more than that.

I worked hard for those tips. At night, I emptied out the coffee cup I kept under the counter and took all my change home. Dollars were pretty rare and very welcome. My kids helped me roll the coins into coin holders, and we took them to Albertsons and bought our groceries with my tips. Shortly before I left Seasons, the restaurant inaugurated a new rule. Wait staff were expected to share tips with the new hostess they had hired and with the dish washer who sometimes doubled as a bus boy. It didn’t strike me as fair at the time. They were not putting up with the rude remarks nor doing all the little extra service perks that earned a good tip. Nonetheless, I shared.

Recently Washington State voted to increase the minimum wage, in increments, to $15 an hour from $9.67 an hour. Currently it has risen to $10 or $11, depending on how many employees the business has. That’s a leap upward and restaurants said they might be hard pressed to keep up with that and still keep menu prices low.

So, some restaurants have come up with a solution. They add and automatic 20% service charge to the bill. And advertise that there is no need to tip anymore.

Who gets that 20%? The restaurants. And they redistribute it so that all employees now make the new state minimum wage. Unsurprisingly, some wait staff are now taking home less money than they used to. And with it, I imagine (If I were working there, frankly) goes the incentive to do all those extra little services to earn a good tip.

I strongly favor a living wage. But it should be paid by the employers rather than by the other employees. I think this is an extremely poor way to raise the minimum wage and redistribute income so that the dishwashers are paid on a par. It feels dishonest to me. And I do wonder how the patrons will react when the option of tipping for excellent service becomes a requirement to be served at all.

New Year’s Resolutions

Are they futile? Do they just make us feel bad when we fail? I think that happens only if you approach them with the wrong attitude. The goal is improvement. Not perfection, I don’t think I’ll achieve that. But improvement.

So for 2016 I have chosen three words: Efficiency, clarity and simplicity.

I will activate these three words today.

Simplicity: I’m going to start with my kitchen cupboards. Everything out where I can see it. Outdated? Dispose of it. Never going to use that ingredient? Donate it. Someone wants a can of sardines in tomato sauce, but it’s not me or Diego cat. Put it all back in an orderly manner. That’s something I can do in one hour. And then it’s done. And I continue my regular life the rest of the day. Tomorrow, I will find another one hour chore that creates simplicity in my life and do it.

Efficiency: I will pay each of my bills as they come in. Then I will scan if needed and shred and get it out of the office. No more misplaced bills or stacks of paper. Resolve to put things away, not put things down. Plan the weeks meals, shop once. That will be reviving a lot of old habits that have fallen by the wayside. And I hope to add new ones.

Clarity: I need clarity in my ambitions and in my relationships. Gentle honesty about how much time I have to give to people. Clarity for me to know what I can accomplish in one day, in one week, in one month.

I think I can use these three words to reduce anxiety in my life, and to become a calmer and more rational person. That is my hope. And the goal is still improvement, not perfection.

Degenerate me!

My goodness, it’s dusty in here. I haven’t done a post here in a long, long time.

So. Well. I’m facing another new year with Robin Hobb hogging the keyboard and the writing time. I do hope I’ll find a bit of space for at least a few short stories and novellas in 2016. There’s a character and a setting that trapped in my brain, and neither one of us will be happy until she gets out.

In the mean time, I am dealing with the aging process. Not gracefully, I admit, but dealing with it. It’s more than looking at Christmas snapshots of my siblings and wondering how they suddenly got so old! And gray! And then checking my own silvering locks in the mirror.

It’s more than declining night vision, which is far more annoying and inconvenient than you might think. Friends in town and an invitation to dinner. Oh, sorry, can’t. Have to be home before nightfall if I’m driving. Parties at a local convention. No, no, I’m afraid that sundown is at 4:20, so I’d best be on the road by 3 PM. Or drag along someone who is willing to pick me up in the morning, stay all day and then drive me all the way home that night.

But the worst is the grinding realization that some parts of me are just wearing out. Not only my eyes. Hips and knees. Degenerative arthritis they call it, or as Dr. Attig explained it to me, ‘ordinary wear and tear on your body.’ Meaning that I’ve just worn out some of the bendy parts. Hips and knees, well, those can be replaced, though I’m thankful I’m not near that yet.

Ah but the typity finger thingys? The fingers that have been relentlessly pressing down keys for well over forty years now on a daily basis? I haven’t heard of finger joint replacements. And that, if you’ll pardon the pun, is where the rub is. It’s bad enough that I have to call Chase, the new assistant, into the office kitchens to peel the foil off the top of the coffee creamer for me. Bad enough that I have to request pill bottles that don’t have child proof caps. I can no longer grip tight enough to tug open a bag of chips. I have to use a tool to weed my garden now. And hand snippers for pruning the trees are painful to use. But the worst, the very worst, is my space bar thumbs. ‘E’ may be the most common letter in the English language, but there is a space between every two words. And my long ago training as a typist means that I reflexively still hit the space bar twice at the end of every sentence. Like that. Thud, thud.

Years ago, I tried speech to text software. It was pretty good. Great for email. But I couldn’t write with it. It wasn’t even that I tend to ‘do the voices’ if I read aloud. It is something about the wiring in my brain, I think. Story comes from my brain and out my fingers. It does not divert to my mouth. I sit and ‘um’ and ‘er’ and the software faithfully records each sound. Halting words come out of my mouth, but it’s not my story telling voice. And as I doggedly pushed on, my fingers would creep toward the keyboard. Just to fix that little mistake. Just to insert that comma. Maybe to change that word. And soon I was typing away again.

So what is the solution. Simple. I keep on typing!

Best wishes to any who may chance upon this rather strange entry as we stagger toward 2016. is still down. Or down again.

Still or again, however you wish. We are working to get the site spam proofed and up again. Until then, I’ll be posting Robin Hobb news here.

There isn’t a great deal going on right now. I’m finishing up the UK page proofs for Fool’s Quest. The US ones were finished on Monday, so I’m looking forward to finishing these ones, and then putting my full focus on the third book, Assassin’s Fate.

Office Kat and I are gearing up for a visit to France at the end of May. We will do stops in Paris as well as attending Imaginales in Epinal. This will be Kat’s first time to attend with me, and we are both very excited. She has never been to Paris!

I don’t have a lot of visits or events scheduled for the rest of 2015 as I expect Assassin’s Fate to be a very demanding tale to write.

But please do watch here or on for exciting news of importance to Spanish readers and writers of SF and fantasy. Steve Drew of Reddit/Fantasy is cooking up a wonderful event for us!

Please wish us luck on our website repairs. Until then, please find daily updates on Facebook, Twitter, and here, of course.

Not Where You Expected To Be???

Yes. Well. Right now, is bringing you here because the Robin Hobb site is down due to some sort of Spam infection. Until we can prevent the site from spewing spam in all directions, it will stay down.

Other news? Well, I just finished the copy edits for the US edition Fool’s Quest. And I hope to quickly finish the UK ones and then get back to the business of writing Book Three.

Thanks for your patience while the website is down.