Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was a miracle when I first read it as a teenager–it was hard to believe that any story could be this good.
As I grew I added other authors to my personal list of heroes. Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, Joy Chant, Diana Wynne Jones, Connie Willis, Roger Zelazny, Robin Hobb, Tim Powers, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Terry Pratchett are all authors whose power to give wings to their imagination enthralled me.
I’d like to publicly thank all the above authors for many a happy hour spent admiring their words.
I hope you enjoy mine, too.
I stopped at the florist on the way to the hospital. I had to wait in line, but that was okay, because I got the last red rose. Mom and I both liked them; it was one of the few things we had in common…
The waves sparkled in the sunlight, mocking Jordan’s feeble attempts at swimming. An albatross circled overhead, remote and untouchable in the vast blue desert that was the sky…
The cave waited, as it had for thousands of years. It had sheltered many in that time. Bears taking their winter sleep, humans with bows and arrows, and now humans with guns…
Edwina was standing in line at the bank when it hit her. The men who’d made the money for all this expensive marble decor hadn’t let anything like scruples hold them back. And they didn’t have a resident brownie. It was time she lived like she deserved…
The Dragon and the Giant, from my upcoming California Trail Rose
Rose looked up from the fire into her family’s pinched faces. The Humboldt Valley was the cruelest land she’d ever seen. Constant worry–for each other, for the horses, for the cruel choices they might still have to make…
Dragon Hoard, from Dragon Hoard and Other Tales of Faerie
I shifted my tail, and several coins rattled down the enormous mound of gleaming treasure. Heaps of glimmering gold, urns overflowing with silver, precious gems in two-handled cups–all these and more filled my cave. Impressive, in a sense. It was more wealth than many countries had at their disposal. But there was so much more out there…
The Hunt Is On, from my upcoming Snow White and the Civil War
I was just standing up to stretch when I heard voices outside, and with a shock, I realized they weren’t dwarves. I grabbed all my things and ran inside, barring the door behind me. After a wild look around my kitchen, I darted to the back corner of the cave and wrapped my arms around my knees behind the bed.
“It’s no good, Captain. They’ll be here any minute.” Juan Diego tied off the line and turned to see the captain’s shoulders slump.
“I’m sorry, lads,” the captain said quietly. “I’d hoped to get us close enough to land that some of you could swim for it.”
A shudder of pleasure ran through the oak as the girl settled herself at its base. She pulled out her notebook of sheet music and unpacked her guitar. As she tuned the strings, the oak basked in the warmth of a early spring day. Mossy and gnarled…
The Proper Hospitality, from my upcoming California Trail Rose
Rose’s gaze kept drifting toward the barn as she and Jean-Pierre groomed the horses. “I just can’t believe it,” she said finally. “We have a brownie or leprechaun or something magic anyway, actually living in our hayloft.”
Diana rubbed her eyes and squinted at the monitor. Almost six million hits when she Googled grimoire! How would she ever find the right one?
Still, she checked them every moment she didn’t have to wait tables or sleep. She’d wake groggily, the imprint of a keyboard on her cheek…
It was lunchtime, and the line for the sandwich shop wound out the door. Terrence hated when it got busy like this. By the time customers made it to the counter, they were all holding onto their tempers with both hands. If he was lucky.
The woman hovered at the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. It had taken the selkie considerable work to get her there. “What do you see?” the selkie asked her softly, and her sea-green eyes met his. They were not yet filled with the wonder of the waves below…
“Ride the dragon! Only one in a hundred can keep his seat for sixty seconds. Do you have what it takes?” The dwarf’s sweeping gesture indicated the mechanical dragon behind him, currently immobile.
“We’ll set up here,” Jorrick’s father said, nodding a greeting to the dwarf.
Seymour and the Head, from Dragon Hoard and Other Tales of Faerie
Seymour thumped the scarred oak table, hard enough to make the grimoire bounce. To become a journeyman wizard, he needed a special spell, greater than the animated puppets or illusions he’d made thus far. He needed something good. Something new.
Two dragons circled in the crisp autumn sky. Cries of alarm echoed in the village streets as people grabbed their loved ones to flee.
Rodor ducked an arrow and rocketed down toward the humans bolting in panic. He loved it when they ran.
“Therese, we’ve got to keep better track of our tools today,” Tom said as we pulled up to our jobsite. It was a beautiful brick addition to the community college in Santa Rosa, about an hour north of San Francisco, traffic willing.
“We are eagles,” Shadow’s father said, his fierce eyes the color of the sun.
“And the sky is our home,” Shadow’s mother replied.
Meg tore a strip from her shift and bound it against her bleeding arm. It would likely scar, but that was the least of her worries. The bog had seemed like the safest place to run, in case they had hounds to track her. There was no telling when her gaoler…
Northern California, September 1857
I settled myself into the room at the inn uneasily. The new teams had pulled the wagons well enough, and we were on our way north to make our fortunes off the new gold strike by Redding. But something about this place dampened…
Mars pulsed in the night sky.
Vultures lingered around the battlefield, and with the coming of full dark, their human counterparts appeared.
Paddy O’Malley threw his cards down in disgust. He was busted again. He tossed off his whisky and stood, his chair scraping against the saloon’s wooden floor. “That’s me done,” he said, before staggering to the swinging doors.
Northern California, January, 1931
Spencer downshifted the old Ford truck as they took another tight corner. The mountain road to Tahoe was none too safe, especially not with all the snow and ice from the recent storm, but they should make it all right. So far, there had been no signs of the feds.
Going to the Movies, from my upcoming Patrick
I’d just shut Tony’s car door when a back-burner question suddenly demanded front-and-center attention. The last time Greta and I had been to a movie, we’d hardly watched the thing, and that was when we were just allowed to hold hands.
I spun my horse; the damned hounds had finally caught me. The horse was stolen, which would be enough by itself to draw the hangman’s noose around my neck. My eyes searched the circle of mounted men who surrounded me, looking for possible avenues of escape.
I am Mei Li. I am only a girl.
It is 1850, the year of the dog. I am fourteen, so I was born in the year of the monkey, an auspicious sign. My father says this means I bring luck to our family.
Margaret stifled a scream and rammed her shovel into the soil. It was hard, hard as the reaper himself and unyielding as death.
She jumped on the shovel and it sank a couple inches deeper. The shovelful joined the rest of the pile. She’d need it all later.
I believe there’s a genetic component to empathy. Certainly it can be learned or suppressed, but it seems there’s an inborn disposition as well. Especially when it comes to animals.
My mother and I are both overly empathetic, to the point that…
I clenched my regulator in my teeth and released the reservoir of air in the apparatus strapped to my back. The twenty-plus pounds of lead around my hips ensured that the waters of the Pacific Ocean closed rapidly over my head.
As I sunk beneath the waves, I was struck with sheer, unadulterated terror.
It’s not easy being the lone woman on a construction site.
I always enjoy seeing another gal working there. Not secretaries—most of the time, I can’t even get a key to the ladies’ job Johnny out of them. But now and again, there’s another woman getting her hands dirty, although rarely as dirty as mine.
I hope that (geography willing) you managed to view the Great American Eclipse. Originally, I’d planned on driving to Oregon for the event. I live in northern California, and we have a fishing boat berthed near Coos Bay, less than two hours from the total eclipse zone, so this…
I have always felt that real sailing belongs on the ocean blue. The tang of the salt air, the gulls wheeling overhead, the playful barks of the sea lions as they swam to investigate our nineteen foot Prindle racing catamaran—they all added a certain atmosphere to the feel of the boat skipping over the waves.
Fear comes in many flavors.
There’s the adrenaline rush, so addictive for some that they seek safe forms so they can experience it on demand. There’s the sick dread of seeing something coming and knowing there’s no way to stop it. And then there’s staring death in the face, knowing it will win.