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April Showers

Or in this case, a pretty violent storm for the northwest! Lots of wind and rain and falling branches. Even so, it did not develop into the all out windstorm that we were all expecting, thank goodness!
My tulips are now up in full force, and my daffodils. As I do every year, I’m wishing I planted more last fall. I lose a certain number to the squirrels each winter. Even so, the front yard looks pretty good here in Tacoma.

Down at the old house, I’ve made a serious effort to rejuvenate what was once my garden and lawn. And I’ve been rewarded with all sorts of forgotten and neglected plants making surprise appearances. Random daffodils and narcissus. A fairy rose that I thought was gone forever. And, despite some very enthusiastic pruning by the local deer population, the little plum trees look as if they will survive. There is one that is very battered as the deer used it to rub the velvet off their antlers, but it is sending up some shoots and it may yet live for another year.

So. Spring. The most forgiving season of the year.

Megan

Happy New Year!

January 8th, and I’m back and busy at my desk. 

I’m pleased to say that Robin Hobb and I have sent off the manuscript for a short story collection called The Inheritance.  It’s a collection of stories by both Lindholm and Hobb, some old, some new, some previously published and others that have never seen print.

I’m beginning the new year with a head full of short story ideas, and not enough time to write them all.  But I certainly prefer that to not having any ideas!

Best wishes to you all for a peaceful and prosperous 2010!

Megan

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

I’ve lost track of when the fruit cakes first began arriving.

But every year they faithfully came in December.   It was addressed to me, at my address, but I knew it was for my Dad. 

There was the cardboard box from the Collin Street Bakery in Texas, with the note on the outside that said it was a gift from Beverly. I always called her Aunt Beverly even though technically she was a cousin, because she was my father’s cousin. She and Francis, as she called him, were raised almost together, and the three, along with another cousin Sonny (much better name than Clarence!) were as close as siblings.

My father always told me that his cousins Beverly and Helen were as beautiful as angels. She was younger than he was, and I think he felt he was her protector.  Their houses were a few blocks apart in a town called Hollywood, California.  She was a beauty, and he was able to get part time work riding horses or doing fencing scenes in movies.  My impression was that it was a kinder, more elegant time.

In our house when I was growing up, there were books inscribed ‘from Beverly to Francis’, the sort of books that cousins gave each other once upon a time. Adventure books and story books and books of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry. All the history of an affectionate childhood could be summed up in those gift books.

Their affection followed them into old age. They lived in different states, she in her beloved California, and he in Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, and then Washington. Contact became less frequent but more important because of that.  She still sent him books, and as he grew older, I helped him see that Sees Chocolates were sent to her. In all the essential ways, they still knew one another well.

The fruit cakes are excellent, every year.  I know, some people are fruit cake impaired and do not understand the savor of glace cherries and fat raisins and pecans both whole and in pieces.  But these are excellent fruitcakes, only a shade away from the goodness of home made.

Every year since they began arriving, I’ve always had a generous slice, and often more than one.  This year was no exception.

The fruit cake came, and we opened it and shared it. Tonight the last slice was eaten. By me.

Both my father and Beverly have been dead for years now.  I imagine she arranged that yearly gift  as an automatic delivery.  She was thoughtful that way.  I suspect that my cousin Kathy continues to fund it, another thoughtful gesture.

Each year, the fruit cake arrives from Beverly, and with it the warmth of a ghost friendship, the friendship of those Californian cousins.  Once they were children, then teenagers, adults, and then elderly.  The friendship lasted and ultimately it lives on.

Merry Christmas!

Megan

The Christmas Rant

So, the Christmas Season is upon us! A time for bells ringing and lights on houses and buying gifts and renewing ties with seldom seen relatives.

Now, if you expect me to be cranky about this, you should stop reading right now. I love this season. I love the smells of evergreen and nutmeg and ginger, and the sounds of the bells and Christmas carols on the radio. I like secrets and surprises and the Advent wreath on the table and counting down the days as we open little doors on an Advent calendar.

When I was a child, Christmas was a wonderful time in our home. A time of hope and magic and extra kindness and all sorts of cookies. Days off from school in the heart of a Fairbanks winter, with dark and snow outside and light and warmth inside.

Tonight, I will mix the triple batch of dough for the gingerbread candles. We will light two candles on the Advent wreath on the table. We will drop hints as to shopping we must do, and talk about what to get Uncle Steve and what to mail to Alaska for Auntie Mo.

And it is all so very good. So I hope all of the rest of you who share my holiday are enjoying it as much as I am. And to those who have a different holiday, or even no holiday this time of year, my very best wishes also!

Megan

Harlequin Horizon, vanity press

At conventions and via email, I am often contacted by aspiring writers, young and old.  Many people know how to sit down at a keyboard and put a story together.  How that story gets from your fingers to the pages of a book or magazine is often less clear.

And that is where scam artists, unscrupulous ‘agents’ and fake publishing houses have a field day.  When aspiring writers go out on the internet to look for information on how to be published, the first listings they will get on any search will be vanity publishers such as PublishAmerica and AuthorHouse.  No matter how they present themselves, it boils down to this.  The would be author gives them money.  The book is created.  There is no distribution system in place, so the book does not get into stores.  The bright writing future does not materialize.

It pains me that a long-respected romance publishing house, Harlequin Books, is now getting into the ‘dream selling’ business.

For a very accurate and well written summary of the situation, please look here   Jackie Kessler does a great job of explaining all this.  I commend her analysis to your attention.

Romance Writers of America also addresses the situation, as does Science Fiction Writers of America.

In these hard economic times, unemployed people sometimes say to themselves, ‘Well, the silver lining is that I can finally work on the book I’ve always dreamed of writing.’   I’m sure that the number of  unsolicited submissions has increased at all the publishing houses.  But to decide to prey on those you don’t judge worthy of regular publication is, to speak plainly, shameful.

Harlequin, I expected better of you.

Megan

Megan Lindholm site has a new look

Please drop by www.meganlindholm.com to see the new, improved and totally updated website. Let us know what you think.

Robin Hobb is off to another Convention!

And so, of course, I’ll be along for the ride!

Below is a repost of the journal entry from the Robin Hobb livejournal. Just in case you didn’t see it there!

What’s Orycon?  A wonderful science fiction and fantasy convention.  It’s a gathering of readers, viewers, creators, gamers, costumers, dealers and every sort of person who might have an interest in SF or fantasy. There are panel discussions, an art show, a masquerade, an auction, dances, hall costumes, a dealers room and well, too much else to describe! 

It’s a fun time.  You should come.

Orycon this year, in Portland Oregon, will occur on the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving.  We will be at the Portland Doubletree Hotel at Lloyd Center.  If you want to come, and to stay at the hotel, you should act soon, as the hotel block closes on November 6! (After that, you might get a room, but not such a good deal on it!)  If you buy your membership for the convention on line, you will have a much shorter wait to get your badge.

I’m going to have a number of chances to meet with readers and friends old and new.

Here is my panel schedule for the convention:

Friday, Nov. 27   Noon
"I have a story idea.  Where do I start?"
David Levine, Mary Robinette Kowal, Mary Rosenblum/Mary Freeman and me.

Friday, Nov. 27 3 PM
"Alternate History Fantasy"
M.K. Hobson, Alma Alexander(!), Michael Ehart, John P. Alexander.  And me.

Friday Nov. 27 8 PM
"Proofreading, Smoofreading: Copy Editors Untie"
Deb Taber, A.M. Dellamonica, Kristin Landon.  And me again!

Saturday, Nov. 28  Noon
"Theme"  (Theme?  What’s a theme?)
Marilyn Holt, A.M. Dellamonica, Bill Johnson, Kristin Landon, Karen L Azinger.  And, uhm, yes, me.

Sunday, Nov. 29 1PM
"That’s Gotta Hurt!"   (All about why maiming and torturing characters is Good!)
Pat MacEwen, Judith R. Conly, Rhea Rose, Phoebe Kitanidis. And me, wearing a black hood with eye holes.

In addition to the panels, I hope to take over the Hospitality room for an hour or two on Saturday (time is still being decided.)  Kat and I will be there, along with Ben Dobyns, one of the forces behind the movie The Gamers (produced by Dead Gentlemen).  Ben and I will be offering food, drink, and glimpses into future books and productions.  As soon as I know a definite time, I’ll post it here!  For those of you not familiar with SF conventions, Hospitality is where fans of all sorts can congregate to nibble on free food, sip soft drinks and take a break from the mad whirl of the rest of the convention. 

So, it looks like it will be a busy convention for me, and that makes me happy.  Those are the ones where I have the most fun.

I’ll hope to see a lot of you there!
 

Robin Hobb’s schedule

But  I’m posting it here as well, as I expect to be on hand also.  :)

Over the next few months, I’m very much looking forward to getting out of my basement office and seeing daylight.  And readers!  So here is a brief listing of where you might run into me.  For book signings, please be aware the times are tentative, and may be changed when we’re a bit closer.  So please do check back here or at www.robinhobb.com for an update before you hop in your car.

October 23-25   is Steamcon!  This is the first venture of this Steam Punk convention.  It’s close to home for me, at the Marriott Hotel at Seatac. And Tim Powers is the guest of honor. I think I’ve weaseled my way onto a couple of panels on Friday. I always think that’s the best time to do panels, at the beginning of a con, because you start meeting new people right away.  I think you’ll have to take a chance on getting a membership at the door now but it’s a chance worth taking.
EDIT:  Actually, I may be taking part in a couple of the Friday panels early in the con!  I will confirm that when it is confirmed with me!

November 27-29 is Orycon, at the Doubletree at Lloyd center in Portland, Oregon.  Guest of Honor is Patricia Briggs!  I’m looking forward to coffee with old friends there, and meeting new friends.

January 15-17, 2010  is an old favorite con of mine, Rustycon!  James Blaylock is the Guest of Honor, and again we have a Steam Punk theme. Should be a good time.  Again, it’s not far from my home at the Mariott Hotel at Seatac. 

Then . . . .

January 26  EDIT:   7PM The Release of DRAGON KEEPER in the US!  The party is at Duane’s, sometimes known as University Bookstore in the Seattle University District. There will be balloons, hotdogs and clowns.  Okay, well, maybe not those things, but I’ll be there to read and sign books. Please note this has been edited to correct the time to 7PM

January 29  7PM Down to Oregon again, for a visit to Powell’s Books in Beaverton.  With their famous dancing beaver . . . okay, that’s another lie.  But I will be there, to read and sign and look for coffee with friends afterwards.  Please note this has been edited to the correct time of 7PM

January 30  2PM  Barnes and Noble on Black Lake Blvd. in Olympia Washington has invited me to come by and sign some books.

Feb. 6 Noon.  For the first time ever, I get to sign on Fort Lewis!  I’ll be at Building 528 on Pendleton Avenue.

Now, I’m also  starting a rumor that I’ll also be at Imaginales in Epinal France in 2011.  :)  It’s our tenth anniversary, so I’m looking forward to getting back to my French hometown and see all my friends again!

 

Referendum 71, Washington State

Hey. Washington voters. Can we all stop thinking about sex and talk about R-71 for a minute? And what it could mean to a lot of ‘state registered domestic partnerships’?

 

First of all, nothing in the referendum says anything about anyone having sex with anyone else. Let me repeat that. Nothing in the referendum mandates that anyone has to be having sex with anyone. So let’s put that off the table.

 

All R-71 says that if two people of the same sex want to form a domestic partnership, they can. What if we called it a life alliance? What if we are talking about two single dads (and I don’t really care who the dads are having sex with, and if you do, that’s your problem) who rent a place together and share a nanny for the kids and pool their groceries and only have one car? Would it be okay with everyone if we said, “Oh, and you can share health insurance benefits, too?” How about a single mom and her second cousin who happens to be female and their kids becoming a household? What is wrong with that? Share medical insurance, have someone else who can rush to the emergency room with the kid, take out a house loan together? 

 

No one seems to be talking much about what R-71 offers to older couples over 62. It basically says that any sort of couples over 62 can take advantage of the domestic partnership (and you can say life alliance if it makes you feel better) change. It doesn’t even say they have to be having sex!!! So if two old ducks (or drakes, or a duck and a drake) want to share an apartment and car and groceries, and make emergency medical decisions for each other and possibly share insurance benefits, they can. And they don’t even have to have sexto do it!

 

To my way of thinking, the only flaw in R-71 is that it doesn’t go far enough. Why is it limited to same sex couples who might possibly want to have sex with one another and older opposite sex couples? Think of the domestic partnership or life alliances we see every day. My brother and his kids and my sister had a domestic partnership when he was newly divorced. (No, it didn’t involve sex. Are you listening at all?) They all banded together as one household and helped each other. She was listed as the emergency contact for the school, and became a Girl Scout leader for the daughters. He fixed the plumbing and did the grocery shopping. If R-71 had been in effect for them, and they had chosen to register as a domestic partnership,  the kids would have benefited from her Boeing medical insurance. And all that emergency permission stuff and who can know what about the kids when they’re in hospital would have been a lot simpler. 

 

Do you know any grandparent who heads a household that includes a grown offspring and some grandchildren? What if  a mom and grown daughter could be seen as ‘domestic partners’? Do you know how much that would simplify life for some of those households? Grandkids suddenly covered under grandma’s insurance at work, maybe.  If Grandma croaks, the taxable estate is reduced before daughter inherits.

 

Let’s face it. The American family takes a lot of different shapes these days. Any two adults, and I do many ANY two adults, should be allowed the benefits of the domestic partnership without us assuming anything about what goes on in the bedroom. These are hard times, people. Stop worrying about who is having sex with whom, and let’s look at what the referendum actually says.  

Welcome!

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