Still Alive & Kicking

Posted: April 23rd, 2016 under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
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March and most of April were eaten up by illness, aftermath of illness, another illness, and attempting to get the rewrites done on Cold Welcome and catch up on things left undone while sick.   Including church music.   I am well again (fingers crossed) though far, far behind in physical fitness, housekeeping, and progress on the book after Cold Welcome.    Energy level is slowly coming back.  The rewrite has been delivered to Editor (April 15), and her remaining comments, if any, will be dealt with in the copy edits.

We had a very dry spell between December and March, but then the rains…small ones at first, and then heavier ones.  For the first time since spring 2007,  a floodgate has been opened in Buchanan Dam and one in Mansfield Dam.   Lake Travis finally reached “full” a month ago; Lake Buchanan reached it this past weekend.    No, the drought was not just 2011 (as some people seem to think.)   Nine years without the lakes being full even briefly…and until the rains last spring, most of that was below 50% capacity.

The land is recovering; the plants that got rain when they needed it last year and this recover the fastest.  The large trees that died, finally, between 2011 and 2015 will require many decades for replacement, and in some cases will never return–as with animals, small disjunct populations of plants can’t be replaced naturally.   We had two or three huge old black willows down in the creek woods, and between a half dozen and a dozen American elms, some quite large…and one, the biggest tree we had, cottonwood.  That’s not coming back.

But there’s water running in the creek, clear running from spring-flow, and in every pool of the grassland, insects are mating and breeding…little water beetles, damselflies, dragonflies, water striders, etc.  Bees (both honeybees and natives), flower flies, beetles, butterflies are on the flowers of the many native forbs; the native grasses are up in their different shades of green, their different heights.

I have two contracts active–one for a short story set in the Vatta universe, and the other for the sequel to Cold Welcome.   Plus the production chores for that book–dealing with copy edits, reading proofs, doing whatever little writing chores the publisher wants as publicity.   Things should lighten up next year, because then I’ll just have the editorial and production work on the sequel to do.   At that point, I’ll have done some serious thinking about how best to manage continued writing with a need for more time spent on LifeStuff (the lights of those locomotives are also getting closer)  and thus how to arrange my schedule…and Decisions will be made.  As books have “hinge points” at which the story shifts gears or directions or both…so do lives.

But in the meantime, I’m afraid I won’t be here much except in the comments section, unless drastic things happen.  (Since a friend has just lost his job, and several others’ jobs look shaky, drastic things happening seems to be a trend, so…you never know.)   The comments show up in my email, so I’ll be responding to those, but not sure about actual posts.  Though maybe.  It’s all uncertain right now.



  • Comment by Kaye M — April 23, 2016 @ 7:33 pm


    Best wishes for strength, good weather, and right decisions. We love you and care about you and your family, as well as enjoying your writing.

  • Comment by Ed Bunyan — April 25, 2016 @ 2:42 pm


    Sorry to hear about your friend who lost their job. I can relate having been given a buyout, just before Thanksgiving last year,after having worked for the company for 34 years one week and a day. It is scary and yes there are nights when I can’t sleep wondering what tomorrow will be like. But there will always be a tomorrow that holds promise and I have a wonderful wife who supports me and I am taking a shot at being my own boss. I hope your friend will have good things happen for him and that you have a great, and healthy rest of the year. I am looking forward to enjoying Cold Welcome when it comes out.

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — April 25, 2016 @ 10:34 pm


    Glad to read that you are once again healthy. Our part of the Sierra Nevada (North-central California, 5200′) is experiencing a lovely spring with water delivered in various forms (liquid and/or solid) at appropriate times. Already a good year for wildflowers and Black Morels.

    Just finished the umpteenth reread of Paladin’s Legacy. Now in Rivendel with Frodo and friends.


  • Comment by Mollie Marshall — April 26, 2016 @ 1:54 pm


    I’m so sorry to hear about your problems. As you get older, it’s increasingly difficult to bounce back after illness or setbacks. Tasks that used to be slotted in to odd moments turn into major projects, taking up a whole day’s mental or physical energy. “This too will pass” often doesn’t have the same optimistic ring that it once did. But there are still good things around, good people to be with. Life in its infinite variety and richness goes on. Best wishes.

  • Comment by Butterwaffle — April 27, 2016 @ 9:52 pm


    I am glad to hear you are doing at least a little better… and Texas, too! I enjoyed graduate school in Austin but going back to visit over the years since, it has become significantly drier and warmer. I hope the lake levels migrate back to the old normal instead of picking some new normal.

  • Comment by Naomi Gluckstein — April 28, 2016 @ 6:14 am


    I know you’re currently in the Vatta universe but oh how I wish you had time to perhaps do a few short stories again in Paks universe! I would love to know about Camwyn and Dorrin’s new life, not to mention Gird’s Cow and Arvid and his son… selfish of me, but I’ve been on my umpteenth re-read and still love the characters – Only the late great Anne McCaffrey and her characters affect me so! All the best and sorry to hear about the tree problems you have had. We are currently – to everyone’s shock, getting snow and hail storms here, just as fruit trees blossoming, grrr.

  • Comment by Sharidann — May 11, 2016 @ 2:10 am


    @ Naomi not selfish of you…

    I really liked the storyline of Arvid and his son, really moved me, as I became a father between the beginning and the end of the series.

    Got tears in my eyes each time I read the first Encounter of Arvid and his son… and the subsequent confrontation with the girdish.

  • Comment by Linda — May 12, 2016 @ 9:49 am


    I’ve been thinking about the comments about Arvid, Dorrin, Camwyn … and I too want more, even about Gird’s Cow and the Marshall General, Dorrin’s former squires, everyone. It’s funny how real they are to me, so multidimensional. I feel I know them at a level unlike my acquaintance with “real” people.

  • Comment by Richard Simpkin — May 16, 2016 @ 5:10 am


    Many of us have been seen at Waystation Huygens (Universes blog) I know, and presumably more have been visiting without comment, but for those who haven’t, Paks was there last month. Do read Marit’s comment on that post. Now there’s a new post, The Naming of People, Places, Things, primarily about the Vatta-verse, that throws some side light on Paksworld too. A possible reason for Alured becoming Vaskronin, for example.

    Linda, have you read Beclan’s story in Deeds of Honor?

  • Comment by Ginny W. — May 22, 2016 @ 7:22 pm


    I have been absent for a long time due to an avalanche of life-stuff myself. I wish you continued health-recovery, and am so glad that the water situation is good this year. Green and growing is very healing and restorative. Perhaps a little of Dorrin’s water magic seeped out into Texas.

    I too would welcome more Paksworld stories. The young Verrakai keep coming to my mind – the inheritance that they lost, and the weight of suspicion that they will encounter as they grow to adulthood – even apart from the need to learn to use their mage-gifts constructively. Somehow they seem tied up with Dorrin’s future to me.

    I would also like another glimpse of Camwyn – as an adult ruler. or Mikheli’s wife. or Jamis as a young man. or young Arvid.

    But I am also looking forward to Cold Welcome and more in the Vatta Universe. Eagerly!

  • Comment by Mike D — May 30, 2016 @ 1:29 pm


    I see that

    Cold Welcome (Vatta’s War) by Elizabeth Moon

    Can now be preordered (3 Nov. 2016)

    This is the UK paperback and Kindle edition

    Admiral Ky Vatta should return to her childhood home a war hero, but on the way her shuttle is downed by sabotage.
    Marooned in a hostile landscape it’ll take every bit of wit, skill and luck she can muster to lead her fellow survivors to safety, knowing that the mysterious enemies who destroyed the ship are on the hunt, and may have an agent in the group ready to finish the job at any moment. And was the sabotage an attempt on Ky’s own life, or someone else’s?

  • Comment by Zen — June 6, 2016 @ 10:23 am


    “I know you’re currently in the Vatta universe but oh how I wish you had time to perhaps do a few short stories again in Paks universe! I would love to know about Camwyn and Dorrin’s new life, not to mention Gird’s Cow and Arvid and his son… selfish of me, but I’ve been on my umpteenth re-read and still love the characters”

    — I’d like to add my agreement to the above comments. I just finished re-reading Crown of Renewal and the 4 books in that quintet. And before THAT, found you’d come out with the Deeds of Honor book–read that, and NOW, I’m starting to re-read Sheepfarmer’s Daughter.

    I love love LOVE the Paksworld books, having first discovered them in the downtown Chicago library when I was in HS or undergrad. I’m fairly discriminating when it comes to what I like in my sci-fi/fantasy books, and the Paks Saga is one of the closest to Tolkien-esque greatness I’ve read since Tolkien.

    In terms of character development and relatability, as well as overall storytelling and plot dynamics/pace–definitely one of my favorite–if not my number 1–series I’ve read since I first read The Hobbit at age 6.

    I LOVE YOUR WRITING, LOVE YOUR CHARACTERS, and, like so many others above, know there’s plenty more telling in the tapestry of these characters and their lives. Who wouldn’t want a friend like Paks, Dorrin, Stammel, or King Kieri or Queen Arian? These characters are well-beloved by me and so many others, and the kind of charaters that are so well-developed, they are practically “real” people to us who love your stories.

    That said, I know you have many other things going on in your life, personally and professionally that you’ve disclaimed to us through your blog, and sometimes life or some of your other story-verses will take precedence. Like everyone here, I can only wait with baited breath and impatience 🙂 and hope and pray for your to have good health, a happy life, and and be in a place where you decide to revisit and expand on Dorrin’s, Camwyn’s, Arvid’s, and Gird’s (kickass) Cow’s stories. In the words of Vulcan parting, “Live long and prosper!”

    Please do! And please, hope you decide (when you’re feeling up to it) to visit Chicago!

    Thank you!

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 13, 2016 @ 5:25 pm


    Well the healthy didn’t last long…but now I’m healthy AGAIN again. Hoping to hang onto it longer this time.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 13, 2016 @ 5:27 pm


    Oh, lots of good things, and changing the program some should help with the health. I’m finally through with the Lyme Disease medication so I shouldn’t be confined inside…and can get back to some exercise outdoors, early and late away from the worst of the sun.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 13, 2016 @ 5:29 pm


    Right now the lake levels are still up–Travis still has 4-5 feet in the flood pool, but that won’t last long as hot as it’s been this past week. That typical change from “It’s been raining FOREVER” to “Oops, here’s the dry season.”

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 13, 2016 @ 5:30 pm


    Naomi: Thank you for that–I do hope to write more Paksworld stories and I have some that I hope to get polished for another collection. Things just take longer than they used to.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 13, 2016 @ 5:33 pm


    Sharidann: Oh, my…I never thought of a reader’s life events bumping into book series quite that way. Thank you! Arvid and Young Arvid do need more of their story told.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 13, 2016 @ 5:34 pm


    Linda: Characters have to feel real to me (which also means “give the writer some trouble by arguing back”) before I can write them–and it’s a delight to hear that they feel real to readers, as well.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 13, 2016 @ 5:37 pm


    Richard and everyone: Several more posts at Waystation Huygens, including another Interlude. Many of you may have found them already.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 13, 2016 @ 5:43 pm


    Ginny W.: One of the Paksworld stories that is started…actually two…have more about Camwyn, but neither has “formed” yet. One is so far Dragon talking to Camwyn, a very artificial-feeling conversation, and the other, which I put by unfinished a year and a half ago, suggests an unexpected…um. Better leave it at that, because it’s not developed enough to go on.

    The Verrakai children aren’t talking to me at all yet; I can see various ways their lives may go, and have to hope Beclan gets some solid help from other families because he’s clearly not ready to be father/uncle at his age, no matter how he tries, without an older adult’s guidance.

    I have a finished story…finished in that I can’t at this point see how to improve it…about Arcolin’s son Jamis, and a maybe-finished story about the young Cracolnya, about whose family I now know more. That one wants to grow into a book, but I’m not sure how.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 13, 2016 @ 5:45 pm


    Zen: Thank you–your enthusiasm is infectious. All I have to do is get my schedule changed to something I can live with, and I think stories will keep coming.

  • Comment by Wickersham's Conscience — June 14, 2016 @ 10:06 am


    Wonderful to see you posting, Elizabeth. You’ve been missed.

    I found two ticks on my old dog (never off a leash) and one on me just from walking in the North End of Boise. A very urbanized area. I think I got them all off both of us before they bit. There aren’t many if any deer in the area; the biologists think the abundant Fox Squirrels may be the vector. But your experiences with Lyme Disease have me very aware of the risks.

    Like a lot of others posting here, I find the Paksworld much more compelling than Vattaverse. For whatever reason, I care about the characters in Paksworld much more; they feel more real and engaging. But I’m no wiling to try and tell the director how to conduct the orchestra. Especially when the music is already pretty darn good.

    Figure out what it is you really like to do. Re-organize your life to focus on that stuff. Bail on the rest. If the makeover involves more time writing, that would be great. But you, not your greedy readers, should make that decision.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 14, 2016 @ 12:40 pm


    Repeating the hint: if you find an embedded tick, take it off and keep an eye on the bite site. In my case, the itchy red spot I usually have takes a couple of days to go away–clearly fading at least by day two. If it enlarges and stays red, not fading, for 4-5 days, you need to see a doctor who’s familiar with tick-borne illnesses. If you have any flu-like symptoms (headache, esp. with photophobia, and even if you have migraines as well, fever, aching, general malaise) even without a rash, you need to see a doctor. Around here we have Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tick Typhus, Ehrlichiosis (Anaplasmosis), another one I can’t think of, and Alpha-gal disease (which gives you an allergy to red meat.)

    I’m leaning toward spending my declining (!!) years in Paksworld, with excursions into SF whenever the mood takes me. Despite attempts to “thicken” them, none of the SF worlds other than Lou’s, in THE SPEED OF DARK, are as fun to write in as Paksworld. Well…the Serrano-Suiza one was, in the first books, in part because they were shorter, and I was homeschooling our kid at the same time I was writing them. But…they wear out. There are readers who prefer the SF worlds, and I respect their preference too, and am glad I can have readers on both sides of the divide, but anymore, when I close my eyes…there are the mountains, the forests, the trails and trade roads, the smells and the peoples of that place.

    I think I’ll blame light pollution. My enthusiasm for space, and science fiction, began in the dark skies of Texas when I was a kid, when even in the back yard I could see the Milky Way, the pinkish glow of Mars, the crisp white light of the Moon…and when we camped at the beach, or were out in the brush country at night, all the colors of the stars within human range of vision were there. I imagined planets around them, what they might be like…and when I found science fiction, took to it instantly. But now it’s all skyglow; the ISS reveals not the glories of the universe but that every continent is outlined (and mostly filled) with artificial lights, and those lights make the familiar stars harder and harder to see. (THis may be just an excuse, of course.)

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — June 15, 2016 @ 3:50 pm


    Earlier when you were working on the Cracolnya story, you got to a sticky place and likened the book to a stubborn horse that had decided to retire to the far pasture. At that point you were waiting for the horse (book) to relent and come up onto the porch.

    Is the horse still out in the far pasture, or has it wandered a little closer to the house?

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 18, 2016 @ 10:47 am


    I just posted part of the story as it is now. You could *almost* consider it a Father’s Day sort of beginning–there’s definitely a father-son-grandfather thing going on. If you ever read “Dream’s Quarry,” set in a Horsefolk clan sometime in the not-too-distant past, you know that dun mares were regarded with great respect, and considered the incarnation of the Mare of Plenty (whose hoofprints left the occasional waterholes on the steppe, and whose rolling left larger bodies of water.) All horse-kind, they think, came from the mating of the Windsteed and the Mare of Plenty. Horsefolk clans choose one of their dun mares to be the clan “Grandmother of the Herd,” and the Horsebreeder of each clan is a woman who becomes so only after she becomes a grandmother.

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