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Musings of A Writer

Killing Things

When I was about 8, I was racing a friend up a steep hillside and stepped on a mole. It squawked, and I jumped and fled. Later I returned to find it dead. I don't recall I felt much guilt about it.  I hadn't meant to hurt it, and it was a peculiar looking creature, like a movie monster. And those got killed all the time.

 

We moved to Alaska when I was ten or so.  We moved into a neglected log house.  I helped my eldest brother George put tin roofing on, while my sister Mary helped my Dad install electric wiring.  We all helped with the horribly itchy business of putting pink fibreglas insulation in the attic.  Insulation was absolutely essential in Fairbanks.  I was the smallest one on the team, so I drew the part where it has to be tucked to the very edges of the eaves.  Nasty work, and we had no running water for a hot shower afterwards to wash off the itchy.  But it was done!

 

So we were all horrified when a later check on the attic showed that substantial quantities of the insulation was gone, stolen by the ever inventive red squirrels native to the area. 

 

A single shot Stevens .22 caliber rifle and instruction from my father.  All firearms are always loaded (so we treat them that way.) Never point a gun at anything unless you intend to kill it. (No threatening or idle plinking.)  I became a good shot and I kept squirrels cleared from our 3 acres.  And helped replace the insulation. 

 

I never shot a moose or caribou, but I've helped gut and skin and butcher many, both as a kid and in our Alaskan years of my marriage. We never shot anything that we didn't use completely to the best of our ability.  That was true for fishing, too.  You catch it, you either release it immediaely or you eat it.  No exceptions. Taking a life was never casual, but it was routine.

 

On our little farm, we raise chickens, ducks and geese.  Mostly they are for eggs, but when we get too many drakes, roosters or ganders, then we butcher.  A chopping block and hatchet, a big kettle of boiling water, and a 'laundry line' to hang the dead birds on to bleed them. It's nasty, noisy work.  Blood flies hwen you chop off a bird's head, and yes, they will run around spouting blood from their headless necks if you lose your grip on one.  I don't like it.  We try to do it no more than once a year, with the birds going into the freezer.  Give them a good life right up to the time I take it.  

 

So, I should be inured to it, right? 

 

Nope.  

 

Maybe it's the pandemic, with the death toll rising past half a million.  Maybe I'm just older and more aware of my own mortality.

 

Yesterday, my Ginger dog alerted me to a mouse nest in the feed shed.  I can't have mice in the feed shed.  I keep the feed in metal containers, so they are not attracted.  But the shed is warm and dry and sheltered from most predators.  So from time to time, mice move in.  And I can't allow that.  Hantavirus is a problem int he Pacific North West.  Humans can get it from breathing in the dust from sweeping up mouse dung.  Not to mention that mice chew and can spoil lots of things with their waste and their chewing.  

 

This one had chewed through a plastic garbage can where I keep metal stakes for marking garden rows.  I took the garbag can out of the shed, and tipped out the stakes and Ginger eliminated the mouse.  But there was a nest there, and as I was putting the stakes back into the can, two blind, naked baby mice fell out of it.  Ginger and Molly weren't interested.  There they were, squirming helplessly on the ground.  Little creatures.  No malice.  Just being mice. Filling the place in the world that only mice can fill. We are seeing a die off of species.  Creatures we were always sure could be around for our kids are trudging toward extinction.  

 

I knew I could walk away and they would die.  Eventually.  Or I could end it quickly.  

 

So I gave them a quick end.  Cleaned up the mess.  I knew it for a necessary and inevitable task. 

 

But still a regrettable one.

 

 

 

 

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Wizard of the Pigeons Pre-Order Link

Wizard of the Pigeons, with illustrations by Tommy Arnold.  You owe it to yourself to visit the website of this Hugo nominated artist..

If you would like to put in an order for Wizard of the Pigeons, here is the link to Grim Oak Press.  As noted before, in the US, this book has been out of print for many years.  Now for the first time it will be available in hardback as well as paperback.

 

A variety of editions will be offered. 

 

$9.99 Ebook (Amazon, B&N, Kobo)


$400 Lettered Edition


$125 Limited Edition (don't forget to order the slipcase too on the same receipt!)


$35 Signed Trade Hardcover (The Signed Page)


$30 Trade Hardcover (Amazon, B&N, Indiebound)

 

The limited and lettered editions will have the art in full color. The others will have the same illustrations in black and white.  The  illustrations are by Tommy Arnold. You owe it to yourself to visit the website of this Hugo nominated artist.

 

Grim Oak Press will be donating 5% of the profits to The National Veterans Foundation.  This organization offers help to veterans of any era.  

 

 

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Looking Back at Pigeons

I wrote Wizard of the Pigeons back in 1985.

 

 The genre slice that we now call Urban Fantasy was not well populated back then.  If I had to  look to its roots, I'd suggest the Batman comics.  Or maybe Doc Savage stories.  But at the time I wanted to write Wizard of the Pigeons, I didn't have a lot of touchstones for Urban Fantasy.

 

I had only recently come to Washington state. We'd moved from Alaska in a rather disastrous decision to try life in Hawaii.  I was pathetically grateful to be back in a more familiar clime, but my family was still in straitened circumstances.  With my very first advance from Ace Books, I'd made a down payment on 4 acres of choice swamp land and a run down house.  It came with free chickens and a lot of mud.  We were driving a Honda 600, which was a tiny car powered by a two cyclinder motorcycle engine.  Great on gas, but very cramped inside.  I was the proud author of three paperbacks about Ki and Vandien.  And Wizard of the Pigeons was going to be my first step into a different slide of the fantasy genre.

 

 Seattle was a new sort of city for me.  The first time I visited it, it seemed like a different sort of forest.  Lilke a rain forest, there were layers, from the tall office buildings down to the street side businesses.  And, in Seattle, down another layer, to old Underground Seattle. I really wanted to make Seattle and that atmosphere part of my story.

 

So I set out to research Seattle.  I read books.  I visited the urban parks and read their plaques and histories. I visited the Klondike Gold Rush National Park near Pioneer Square in Seattle.  While many places in the US claim to the our smallest national park, I'm willing to bet on this one.  I also went on the Underground Tour to learn more of Seattle's fascinating history and discover why Underground Seattle (which used to be regular Seattle) was built over. All of that research went into Wizard of the Pigeons

 

It's no secret that Seattle, like almost every other large city, has a serious homeless problem.  No one can visit that city now without seeing the blue tarps beside the freeway, the tents on the sidewalk, and the dismal occupation of the parks.  It's overwhelming and tragic, and complicated by the opioid addiction crisis.

 

In 1985, the problem was there, but much less apparent.  There were sleeping bags tucked up high in the shelter of the underpasses.  Back then, they weren't fenced off, and they were sheltered from wind and rain there.  And in Pioneer Square, during the day, the benches were largely occupied by mostly men, some sleeping, some intoxicated, and some just waiting out the day.  I spent a lot of time sitting on a bench there, watching and listening,  It was a differnt sort of natural environment than the animals and trees I was accustomed to, but just as complex.  I often had my younger son with me, and frequently I'd buy a bag of popcorn from a local vendor and give it to him.  Feeding the ubiquitous pigeons kept him occupied while I took notes and let the story and the characters form in my brain.

 

My husband was driving and I was in the front seat one late afternoon as we made the drive back from Seattle to McKenna.  My young son, then about 5, had been very quiet in the backseat.  We had enetered the I-5 freeway when he said in a small, excited voice.  "Hey, Mom.  Guess what?"

 

"What?"

 

"Pigeons!" he announced, and unzipped his coat.  While I had been daydreaming my book, he had been luring pigoens in close, snatching them up and stuffing them inside his coat.  And we now had four very excited pigeons fluttering about inside a very small car.

 

After several exciting miles of Fred driving at 60 miles an hour while assailed by pigeons, Giles and I were able to recapture them and stuff them back in his coat. Home, we put them in a run-down shed and gave them some chicken food.

 

The four just happened to be two females and two males.  They became the nucleus of a pigeons flock. My father in law interpreted four pigeons as pigeon enthusiasm.  He bought us more: eagle pigeons, owl pigeons, tumbler pigeons, king pigeons. All sorts of pigeons! We adapted a shed, built a fly pen, and learned more about pigeons.  A pair can lay two eggs every sixteen days.  Once those eggs hatch, they lay two more eggs, and the hatchlings help keep the new eggs warm.  Before we knew it, we had over a hundred pigeons flying in and out of that shed!

 

And when I finally began to get the story onto paper, there they were.  The unexpected, unplanned characters that shaped the plot and flavored the story.

 

 

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New US edition of Wizard of the Pigeons

Cover Image for Wizard of the Pigeons from Grim Oak Press.  Art by Tommy Arnold

 


GRIM OAK PRESS PUBLISHING NEW EDITIONS OF WIZARD OF THE PIGEONS


The 35th Anniversary Editions Will Publish December 1, 2020, To Aid Veterans 

 

SEATTLE, WA, May 22 — To celebrate the thirty-fifth anniversary of Wizard of the Pigeons by Megan Lindholm, Grim Oak Press is producing new editions of this seminal urban fantasy for a very good cause, with Hugo Award finalist Tommy Arnold supplying original illustrations.

 

Wizard of the Pigeons was first published in 1985. It tells the story of Wizard, a homeless veteran who possesses the Knowing, an enchantment he uses to help others. But magic has a price: Wizard must never have more than a dollar in his pocket, he must remain celibate, and he must feed and protect the pigeons. Breaking these rules strips him of his magic—and makes him vulnerable to a mysterious entity that hunts him for its own reasons.

 

"Megan Lindholm is one of my favorite writers," said Grim Oak Press publisher, Shawn Speakman. "When I learned rights for Wizard of the Pigeons were available, I recognized a way to reimagine it for a good cause. It is rightly lauded as a cornerstone of urban fantasy, but it is also a timeless book about our veterans who sacrifice so much, the homeless we try to avoid, and the PTSD that not only damages our vulnerable but harms society's collective good. In support of veterans, Grim Oak Press will donate 5 percent of the book's profits to the National Veterans Foundation as a way to acknowledge their sacrifices and give back."

 

The limited and lettered editions of Wizard of the Pigeons will be available for pre-order on June 1st at 10:00am PT, to publish December 1st.


The wide-release hardcover and ebook of Wizard of the Pigeons are available for pre-order now from your favorite bookstore. Signed copies of the wide-release hardcover will be available on The Signed Page on June 1st.  

 

Grim Oak Press is the award-winning science fiction and fantasy publisher devoted to producing beautiful limited and signed editions. It most recently published Age of Death by Michael J. Sullivan; Unfettered III, featuring stories from Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, Naomi Novik, Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson, Seanan McGuire, and many more; as well as the sci-fi novel Street Freaks by bestselling Shannara author, Terry Brooks.

 

Megan Lindholm lives on fourteen acres in the outskirts of McKenna, Washington, surrounded by wildlife of all types. She is a grandmother to seven youngsters of various ages. She has been a published author since she was eighteen years old, and in 2020, that was fifty years ago. While she shares a keyboard with Robin Hobb, they are definitely not the same writer!

 

# # #

If you'd like more information about Grim Oak Press or Megan Lindholm, please email Shawn Speakman at shawn@grimoakpress.com or visit GrimOakPress.com.

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Unfettered III A bit of good news for the readers

Cover Image, Unfettered III

https://grimoakpress.com/blogs/news/super-tuesday-grim-oak-super-sale

 

Time to announce something nice.  Shawn Speakman, of Grim Oak Press, is putting Unfettered III on sale for the rest of March!

 

Details on Sale here

 

As you can see, those are all the ebooks of the anthologies.  That's a lot of reading from a wide variety of authors.  If you've ever wanted to sample works by, say, Brandon Sanderson or Naomi Novik or Jim Butcher or Janny Wurtz, or even Megan Lindholm, this might be your best opportunity!

 

The sale is on until the end of March!

 

 

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Not attending Emerald City Comic Con this year.

And that makes me sad.  Django Wexler and I were going to get together for coffee.  I was looking forward to a lunch or dinner with Duane Wilkins, my most favorite of the University Bookstore employees and friend of scores of years.  It's those personal connections and times that are always my favorite part of conventions.  

 

My spouse of 49 1/2years had a surgery yesterday, and while he is recovering well, he cannot do the farm chores while I would be away for the convention.  But, as he has a very pesky Y chromosone, if I left him alone, he would try.  So I will stay here at home and keep a lid on him and nag him to do his physical therapy, and remind him not to reach with his walker, and annoy him in all the ways that long-married couples do to one another.  Good times, eh?

 

It also means Robin Hobb  won't be on any panels, or going to the parties, or giving away free books at the Del Rey Booth.  Part of that is that Random House/Del Rey has decided not to attend ECCC, due to our current outbreak of the new corona virus in Washington state.  

 

On the positive side, I get to spend more time with my dogs, chickens, and oh, yes, my spouse!

 

I will hope to see some of you next year, and maybe I will even be at a few cons as Megan Lindholm!

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Broken Bits of Stories

I suspect this is true for every writer.

 

A first paragraph narrates itself while I are weeding the beets or scrubbing the bathtub  or cleaning the catbox.  And it's very exciting and good, and as soon as possible, after washing my hands, I rush to the desk and sit down to capture it.

 

I type that great first paragraph.

 

And the words just stop.  Ping.  Done.  That's it.

 

There are so many of those saved on my computer.  Little bits of a story that never was.  So maybe I'll start using them up here.

 

Like this.

 

Whenever she got depressed, she would add 'Kill myself' as the last item on her To Do list. She knew full well she would never get down to that last item on her To Do list.  Who does?  But she suspected that if she did, she wouldn't feel like killing herself by then. So it was safe, relatively, to add it to the list and fantasize about the moment when her To Do list would be done, and she could make everything finally just stop.

 

 

Hm.  Well.  It probably wouldn't have been a very cheerful story anyway.  Or satisfying.  Because, just look at it.  The reader knows the ending already.  Either she never gets to the end of the To Do list, so she never kills herself.  Or she does get to the last item, and by then she is so cheered by having finally accomplished her To Do list that she is no longer suicidal. 

 

I think I start about 100 stories for each one that I finally finish.

 

That's writing.

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Angsty High School Poetry

Kat says I should post here more often, to create more reader engagement.

Not much to say today.  

So I've decided to begin inflicting my angsty high school poetry on you.

A glimpse of who I was in the 60's.

 

 

Fate

 

                                       "Whistle and ride," said the wind.

 

                                       What of the traveler in his black cloak?
                                       What of the gold that had once filled his poke?
                                       What of her brooch to his shoulder pinned?

 

                                       "Whistle and ride," said the wind.

 

                                       The black horse pulled up his picket stake.
                                       How much sleep would his master take?
                                       Why in his breast sat the arrow finned?

 

                                       "Whistle and ride," said the wind.

 

                                       What of the maiden who stood by her gate?
                                       She married another. Such is fate.

 

 

Copyright M Lindholm 1968

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

There's the garden you imagine.

 

Then, there's the garden you plant.

 

And finally, there is the garden that grows.

 

And yes, books.

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If You Live In the UK or France . . .

 

 

 

A recurring question from readers is, "Where can I order the Megan Lindholm books?"

The answer is not a happy one for me. The books have been out of print in the US for, well, over a score of years now.

However, if you live in the UK, the answer is a much merrier one. The books are still easily available there. My publisher in the UK is HarperCollins, and through the years, they have kept the Megan Lindholm books in print, and often refreshed them with lovely cover art by artists such as Jackie Morris and John Howe.

They can easily be seen at the HarperCollins page for Megan Lindholm And I am very pleased to say that in a short time, Wizard of the Pigeons, an urban fantasy set in the Seattle of the 1980's, will be available with a lovely cover by Jackie Morris.


US readers can, of course, still order the Megan Lindholm books from Amazon.co.uk but may find the shipping charges to be discouraging.

French readers have had access to the Megan Lindholm titles for many years. If you enjoy reading in French, whether it is your native language or one you are learning, J'ai Lu has kept many of them in print.

And again, US readers can order the Megan Lindholm books in French from amazon.fr  but do pay attention to the shipping costs.

 

I hope this has been helpful information!


Thank you for visiting here. The website is a bit quirky and still in its early stage of development, but I do hope you will return again!

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