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Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Being a parent is tough. Believe me--I've had a doozy of a day, thanks to my 9-year-old. But this father in Germany shows us all how a parent can meet a challenge with class. Wouldn't it be great if all parents were this supportive?

I think one of the best fictional depictions of parenthood is, well, Parenthood, the Steve Martin film. One of the characters in the movie says it's like being on a rollercoaster--and it is. One minute you're riding high because your kid is the spelling bee champ, the next you want to throttle her because she sent 16,000 text messages in a single month. One day she's amazing you by properly using the word "ironic" in a sentence, and the next day you're getting a phone call from the elementary school principal. One of my kids becomes an official teenager in October, and then I expect the roller coaster will only become steeper and faster. Whee?

I think it can be hard sometimes to let your kids express themselves. My older daughter came home from a sleepover last weekend wearing black lipstick and black nailpolish and wanting to dye her hair black. Now, personally it's not a look I mind--I went through a punk phase as a teen that I've never quite outgrown--but teachers and other adults can be judgmental. I'm not sure I'd want her to wear that particular ensemble to school (where she's already been warned not to write morbid stories for classroom assignments). We found a compromise--the nailpolish stays, the lipstick is gone (at least during school hours), and the hair got streaked blue.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Nice donation!

A dozen grown men are currently gathered in my kitchen, eating pizza, drinking beer, and loudly debating who gets to pretend to have which player. Ugh. I hate fantasy football season.

So I'm going to make a much cheerier post instead. Later today I will be sending Doctors Without Borders a donation of $600. This brings this year's donations to $1200, and we still have several months left. I am so excited to be able to give such a generous amount to such a worthy cause! And I couldn't do it without you, because this money comes from the royalties from my Praesidium trilogy. When you--or your friends, relatives, coworkers--buy a copy of Stasis, Flux, or Equipoise, 100% of the royalties I receive gets donated. Individually, it's not a lot. I get 33 cents from every copy of Stasis that Amazon sells for 99 cents. But it adds up very nicely, as you can see!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Guilty pleasure

I have a guilty secret--a shameful addiction.

It's not books, although I have far more of them than I have time to read and most of my shelves are double-stacked with books. But I don't feel guilty about that particular habit, nor is it a secret from anyone who knows me--especially anyone who steps foot in my house.

No, what I'm admitting to you today is that I love office supplies and school supplies.

I always have. When I was a kid my dad would bring home computer paper: the green and white striped kind with the perforations at the edges. I loved that stuff. I can still conjure the smell of it. Nowadays I can't be trusted in Staples or the back-to-school section of Target. I'm not sure what's so appealing about those pretty pens, those reams of paper, those multicolored binders and notebooks. I even love paperclips and staples. I like the way pencils rattle slightly in their cardboard box. And on the rare occasions when I manage to visit this place in San Francisco? Beware! I can spend many hours and do serious damage to my credit card.

I know at least two other people who share my addiction. They're both academics, which may explain a lot.

How do you feel about office supplies? What's your guilty pleasure?

Monday, August 20, 2012


Kids returned to school today. I had a zillion errands to run and work to do at the office, but decided to treat myself to Starbucks and Animal Magnetism on my iPad. It should have been good. I had a venti light caramel Frappuccino and the Ramones were playing over the sound sytsem.

But first the man sitting next to me was interviewing people for a job as youth pastor at his church. Interviewing them loudly, with much talk of the gospel. Then a large group of thirty-something moms--thrilled to have gotten rid of kids for the day--took up residence nearby, and they were even louder. And then the barista, who was sort of puppy-dog cute, came to clear the table next to me and decided he needed to strike up a conversation. "Did you like your drink?" (It's a frigging Frappuccino, exactly like ten zillion others I've had.) "What are you reading?" Then he actually looked over my shoulder and, well, he got an eyeful. Puppy-barista blushed, stammered something, and moved away quickly.

I kind of wish I'd been writing something really explicit instead of reading.

Friday, August 17, 2012


The new school year is being celebrated in the usual way: with hours upon hours of mind-numbing meetings, in which administrators prove that their double-talk skills have not withered over the summer, and the same faculty members make the same commentary they've been making since time immemorial. How festive! When the students show up next week we will continue revelry with bouts of panic, confusion, and whining, peppered with charming questions ("Do I really need to buy the textbook?" "Oh, you mean I was supposed to take Chem I before I took Chem II?" "I've flunked this class three times. Can I take it Independent Study this time?") and expressions of horror.

Okay, I will eventually come to terms with the fact that summer is over. But let me enjoy my last bit of denial. I think some photos might help.

Graz, Austria has the best graffiti and second-best cafe in Central Europe. To wit:

This cafe is located on a man-made island in the middle of the river that flows through Graz. There are regular tables as well as comfy stadium-type seating:
There is a play are for kids, a really cool and complicated rope structure that can keep them busy for a long time:

While the grownups relax with their glasses of Aperol spritz.

Okay. I feel better already. Ready to face the bright shiny faces and eager-to-learn minds of my students.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Miscellaneous thoughts

Yesterday my older daughter--the one whose 8th grade round-up I just survived--walked up to me and asked me what book I'm working on now. I told her I'm not writing a novel at this very minute (I just finished a textbook revision and I've been writing some short stories). She shook her head with disappointment. "Oh, Mom!" I think it's pretty cool that she not only expects me to write, but seems to actually want me to. She writes a lot too and has taken to carrying a notebook with her wherever she goes.

But oh God, 8th grade. Being around several hundred of them this morning reminded me that that age is probably the epitome of awkwardness. My daughter's handling it with more grace than I did. She's quirky and happy to be that way. She has a lot of friends and a good head on her shoulders and I only want to strangle her once or twice a week.

Here are the most recent three pictures I took:
 Last year I had Eiskaffees in Viennese cafes. Vienna is a long way from here but I made my own Eiskaffee. Yum!

 A local factory, going (literally) full steam. I like it because part of the production line is outside, which gave me something to look at when I was stopped by a train. Can you guess what's being made here?

 This was part of my research for a future novel. These don't look especially comfortable to me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fun story

Alix Bekins is having a blogwarming party. Writers are contributing daily to a progresssive romance story. My contribution was posted today.

Come have a read--it's fun, and nobody knows how it's going to turn out!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Care and Rehabilitation released today!

Dreamspinner Press released the anthology Animal Magnetism today. The book is available in print and ebook versions, and contains 15 animal-themed romance tales. One of those is mine: "Care and Rehabilitation." Here's the blurb:

History professor Ira Mayer is having trouble moving on from the past. After the sudden loss of his lover, he’s left with sad memories, a garage full of boxes, and a dog with an embarrassing name. But then the dog finds a fallen nestling, and when Ira takes the baby bird to a wildlife care specialist, he runs into a former student, hunky Caleb Phillips. Can Caleb help rehabilitate more than an orphaned bird?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Join me for a chat!

I'll be hosting a chat tomorrow (Saturday, August 11) on Dreamspinner's Facebook page. I'll be there from 11-4 Pacific time, asking questions, answering yours, and giving away a book or two. All you have to do to join is like Dreamspinner Press on Facebook. Do you have any burning questions about my books or me? I hope to chat with you there!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Favorite books

Today is National Book Lovers Day. I won't ask you what your favorite book is, because if you're like me, you have many. So I'll ask instead, what book or books have touched you most, or which have you reread many times, or which would you recommend to everyone?

I'll start. Markus Zuzak's The Book Thief is one of the very, very few books that has actually moved me to tears. I remember being in the final chapters and running off and locking myself in my bedroom, yelling first to my family that I was Not To Be Disturbed.

I love all of Neil Gaiman's works, but American Gods especially blew me away.

In the realm of nonfiction, I'd definitely recommend Eric Larson's Devil in the White City. It's about the history of Chicago, the 1893 World's Fair, and a serial killer.

Jeez, I haven't even mentioned some of my favorite authors--Allende, Twain, Garcia Marquez, Vonnegut--and I haven't touched entire genres that I love. But this is a start.

Please, share. What's on your list? (They can be fun reads or guilty pleasures too--no intellectualism requirement here!)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Computer woes lead to virtual vacation--join me!

My work computer is  over 6 years old and barely functional. It takes me two or three times as long as it should to do even simple tasks, and you can forget fancy stuff like, say reading pdf files. I talked the powers that be into ordering me a new one because--who knew??--professors nowadays need computers that work. Computer was ordered and arrived on campus in late April. Since then it's been sitting in our OIT, waiting to be set up. Gathering dust. Late last Friday I received an email informing me that they'd finally got the computer ready. Yay, right? Except they still haven't installed it or transferred the files from my old one. Today I emailed them to ask when???? And I received an email back, informing me that my work order status has been upgraded to "high." Wow--after only 3 1/2 months.

So instead of being bitter, I'm going to pretend I'm vacationing. You can pretend too. Here are some photos to help.
 This is the town of Hum, in Istria (Croatia). It claims to be the world's smallest town. It's famous for Glagolitic script. Hum is adorable, and it's over 900 years old.

 This is the view from a lovely cafe in Motovun, also in Istria. If you watch Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, he was at this cafe this year. I was there first. *g* Istria was long a part of Italy and still looks and feels pretty Italian. In the forest you see in the valley, locals truffle hunt with dogs.

 Motovun is also adorable. It looks like a tiny bit of Venice plucked from Italy and plonked onto the top of a hill. You can walk around the city wall for views like this. The house in the foreground is where Mario Andretti grew up.

 This star is from the Croatian walk of fame in Opatija (hint: in Croatian, the j is pronounced like a y). Opatijia is on the Adriatic, and it was used as a resort town for Austrian nobility during the 19th century. It's still a nice resort town, although with fewer Habsburgs nowadays.

 This is in Opatija. The umbrellas are a bargain, too--less than $4. The machine was sold out, which was unfortunate because it started pouring while we were there.

 But we could still find a covered cafe (cafes are very important to Croatian life), where we could watch this little drama. The Mercedes is illegally parked and the city bus full of people can't make the turn. You can see the bus driver stomping angrily back to his bus. A cop arrived, took pictures, and went away. Finally, maybe 10 minutes later, the car owner showed up to move his car. Nobody on the bus rioted.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Dreamspinner sale! Time to stock up on Kim Fielding titles!
 We reached 5000 likes on Facebook and therefore all of you get a 20% discount on one purchase! The purchase can be as big or small as you wish and the coupon is valid for one purchase per customer during one year: FB5000.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Coming soon

Dog days of August? Here's a heads-up on some things I have brewing soon:

  • On Aug 11 from 11-4 Pacific Time, I'll be hosting a chat on Dreamspinner Press's Facebook account. Friend DSP now and you can join in. I'll have a giveaway and I'll ask and answer questions.
  • On Aug 13, DSP's anthology Animal Magnetism is released. It contains a short story by yours truly, entitled "Care and Rehabilitation."
  • I'm participating in Alix Bekins' blog launch party. A whole slew of authors are playing, each contributing a daily addition to an ongoing story. My day is Aug 14, but you can start reading now, here.
  • On Aug 18, a bunch of DSP authors will be chatting on the Yahoo group Literary Nymphs Chat. You can join the group now to play then: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LiteraryNymphsChat/?yguid=208723791

Friday, August 3, 2012


Last year I had the amazing opportunity to live in Croatia with my older daughter for 5 months. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime chance. We lived in Zagreb and traveled as much as possible. Some of my travels helped inspire a novel that I recently submitted to a publisher.

But today I wanted to share one of my favorite cities in the world, Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic. It's located in Dalmatia, way down near the southern tip of Croatia. It has a really interesting history--as the free republic of Ragusa, it was one of the first places to recognize the USA as a country back in 1776. You can feel a strong Venetian influence there, although the locals claim that their  tower with a couple of metal guys banging a bell is older than the one in Piazza San Marco.

Dubrovnik's recent history is tragic, as the city was under seige for 7 months during the war that tore apart Yugoslavia. Civilians were killed and much of the beautiful walled city was damaged by artillery. When we were there, a local man told what it was like during the seige to have to carry water and supplies up and down the steep terrain, especially for the city's elderly inhabitants.

Fortunately, the damage was repaired, and Dubrovnik is now a vibrant place. It's full of well-fed feral cats, cafes, breathtaking views, and, sometimes, cruise ship tourists. You can walk around the top of the entire city wall. It's where parts of the second season of Game of Thrones were filmed. The food is excellent and the locals very friendly.

I took something like 200 photos during my 2 days in Dubrovnik. Here's a sampling. You can click on them to see them larger. If you want more (mwah-hah-hah) just comment and let me know.

The old city, as seen from the hill behind it. Even when you're standing there, this looks photoshopped.

 Stradun, the city's main street. Spike travels with me and often ends up in my photos.
 That's Fort Lovrijenac, as seen from the city walls.

 See those people on the rocks outside the city wall? They're actually at my favorite cafe-bar in the world, Buza. (There are actually two Buzas in Dubrovnik.) You can sit there forever with the wall on one side and the Adriatic on the other, and just watch the ships sail by.

 Ships like this one, which happened to come around the corner just as I was taking this picture.

 My daughter looks pretty happy to be there, doesn't she?

 Our apartment was halfway up this stairway. I love how green things grow in every nook and cranny.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"I'm boooored!"

In case you haven't noticed, it's August. That means temps around 100F here in the boring part of California, and it means chauffeuring children and supervising playdates and finding ways to pry the children off electronic gadgets. And it means that on a daily basis I hear the familiar whine:

"I'm boooooored!"

Lately it occurred to me that I literally can't remember the last time I was  bored. It's not only that my life keeps me pretty busy: work, writing, family, travel. Even with a schedule like that, there's downtime of a sort, like the 1400 round trip miles I recently drove (kids were plugged in to iThings the whole way), or like the hour or so spent yesterday at the audiologist with the younger kid. But I use those bits of time wisely. I nearly always have a book or Kindle on me, or in a pinch my phone with the Kindle app, so sometimes I can catch a little reading. On long car rides I often listen to audio books.

But even when I don't have access to books, I'm not bored because my mind is full of my writing. I can spend contented hours writing dialog in my head, scheming my way out of whatever plot pitfalls I've written myself into, and creating ideas for new stories. I guess wherever I am and whatever I'm doing, I have my muse to entertain me, and that's a wonderful thing, a precious gift.

Helps make up for the fact that my muse is a mean, heartless bitch who doesn't listen to a word I say.

While they're doing this, I'm sitting in the shade and thinking about a Good Bones sequel.