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31 May 2014

Over that last week we had a couple of nights of howling gales. I came out the morning after the second night to find Thunder insistantly commenting on a problem. I discovered that a whole panel of his cat park trellis had been literally unwoven by the wind and much was broken. My feline friend wished it to be known that he was not happy about this! A friend arrived ten minutes later and put a temporary solution in place, now all I have to do is buy a replacement panel, find a way to get it out here, and nail it in place – and I’ll have a happier cat. Funny how many people that think a cat wants to be free to roam. Mine, introduced over the years to the cat park, have all loved the security it provides. I love it for the fact that I don’t find my cat on the doorstep one morning; savaged by a stray dog/cat, run over by a car, or shot by some idiot with an airgun. Nor do I have a cat go missing, never to be seen again while for the rest of my life I wonder what happened to a loved feline friend. Cat parks are GOOD!

happy to say that I recently signed contracts for my story, THE 13TH EWE, which sold to RESURRECTION HOUSE XIII anthology. Must be something about being a farmer. I offered them two stories that I thought just right for them – and both were sheep tales. They liked this one best, now, anyone else want a sweet little sheep story?

20 May 2014

Theme anthology, 14 stories, includes an introduction by the editors, and information on each writer. Published by Peggy Bright Books in May. Available in print or e-book. Reviewed by Steve Johnson.

This is quite simply a very nice job. Presentation is excellent, (attractive  cover by Lewis P. Morley) layout very good, and it’s a great mix of stories that exemplify the theme. The first tale, Charlotte’s Nash’s Dellinger, hooked me in from the start, a new and well-written take on the creation of cyber-people. The next story, The Blue Djinn’s Wish by Leife Shallcross was a gentle story of a djinn and a young girl granted the traditional three wishes. However what comes of that is far from traditional – and a terrific riff on an old tale. M. Darusha Wehm’s Home Sick isn’t all that far from reality, it’s a sad little story of what is not unlikely to be the lives of some of us in a decade or two – with a bitter sting in the tale.

Always falling Up by Grant Stone is back to exploring the possibilities of created people, and how the ability can be abused along with the people. Again, I found this an all-too possible future given the basic assumptions, and cogently written. Claire McKenna’s Yard is an unpleasant story, clever, believable, and spooky. I liked it. As I liked Lyn McConchie’s Fetch Me Down My Gun. A story of sacrifice and cross-species understanding that, as sometimes happens with what Lyn calls her ‘awww’ stories, brought a tear to my eye. The final story exemplifies the type of  best last story for an anthology, keep it short and funny. Dirk Flinthart’s The Eighth Day left me with a broad grin.

All in all this is a good anthology, it has that feeling of progression, as if each story flows into the next, something in which a goodly number of major anthologies fail. It isn’t enough to pick good stories, they need to blend so that as the reader advances, there isn’t the feeling that they are reading a bunch of unconnected works, but something in which many parts have made a whole. Congratulations to the editors, they’ve succeeded.

back when I was in my twenties I worked for an advertising company in Wellington’s CBD, (J. Inglis Wright.) I have fond memories of the place, great workmates, pleasant bosses, and a nice workplace. And as a side benefit we were offered extra and well-paid work doing surveys, actual door to door in those days, not phone calling or on-line as they are now. So around every second weekend I would take a day in which my husband (David Murray McConchie) drove me around the designated suburb while I trotted to a number of houses to ask questions about how much they drank, smoked, what they spent, how recently had they purchased their house, and other question of a type that nowadays, remembering, I’m mildly surprised that no one tossed me out. I found it fun, and these days when someone phones me I always do their survey if I have time (mostly) and fit the right profile, (quite often.) One of the regular surveyers asked me the other evening why I was always so happy to do this. I said that it was in memory of my own survey days, and in gratitude that – considering some of the questions I was given to ask – no one had ever been nasty about it. I feel that I can hardly be less reasonable. So I answer the phone, and reply, all the while remembering nostalgically, the fun I had doing this door to door in the 1970s.


Many many years ago a man named James K. Baxter opened a place in the heart of Wellington city called The Love Shop. It was like a charity shop, except that everything in it was free . I worked there for some time and it was then that it occurred to me that people can be very odd. That thought had struck me before, but one incident crystalized it. A friend working with me came to me and spoke softly.

I think that woman is stealing stuff.”

I blinked. Why on earth would anyone steal when everything available on the shelves and in the bins was free for the taking? Feeling that perhaps the lady (and yes, I watched her and she really was shoplifting) must not have quite grasped the ‘free’ aspect I approached her.

     “Excuse me, I just thought I should explain, everything in this place is free, you don’t have to pay.”

The woman drew herself up in outrage, snapped shut the case into which she’d been quietly shovelling items and snarled at me. “I don’t need your !@#$% charity!” and stormed out. I noticed she hadn’t returned the items she’d taken however, but it left me slightly baffled. In a place where everything on display was free and there were a number of signs saying so, why did she feel a need to shoplift? She could have openly taken everything she’d taken in secret. Was it that she hadn’t understood our policy displayed on large signs. Or was she really against taking something for nothing and felt that using her time and energy in stealing was giving back in some weird way? I never did find out since we never saw her again, but even after some forty years I wonder why she felt that it was better to ‘steal’ free items than to take them openly? People! They can be very peculiar sometimes.

Delighted to announce that the Sky Warrior Press anthology THESE VAMPIRES DON’T SPARKLE, has accepted my story, AND THUS RETURNING, I notice I’m in some good company too, with other tales by Cynthis Ward, David Lee Summers and Dave Riley. And it should be out soon too.


11 May 2014

At the con I watched a short u-tube clip, (I can’t see them on my dailup at home) It featured cats and was, if I recall correctly, entitled ‘I is has gravity.’ Actually it should have been titled I is hasn’t gravity, because it showed astronauts (or two men dressed like that) in weightlessness with two cats, and to say the cats weren’t very happy to find themselves weightless is putting it mildly. I gained the impression that as soon as they could affix themselves to the guys they were going to make the most of it with mucho claw action all the way up from ankles to head. I’m uncertain if this event had a scientific purpose, but what it did indicate is that while cats may adapt to non-gravity, they don’t do so immediately, nor will they be happy campers while they work on the adaption. It is/has occurred to me that anyone planning a trip to Mars in the near future and whose spaceship may not be under full gravity or which may experience weightlessness over some periods of time should be warned. Don’t take the cat!


Ever since I got back from Conclave 2, the National SF Convention in Auckland I have had a cat glued to me. It didn’t help that I vanished to town for most of the day, two days after I returned. Or that the next day I was also absent for several hours. Thunder seems to have decided that if he is affixed to me like velcro-kitty, then I can’t go anywhere. This is true, but it isn’t helping when I want to write. So we’ve compromised, he can be velcro when I’m not writing, when I am, the ‘working’ rule applies. He may not bother me. He seems to be happy with this and I am too. It’s impossible to write around a very large cat draped along the keyboard. And unhappily, I had to rush off to hospital in the early hours a week later again, and was gone for half a day. Thunder is now glued to me even tighter, while wearing a deeply suspicious look whenever I move. I gather I’ve really pushed boundaries with that last absense.

Hardcover published Orbit 2014.

I admit to being slightly worried how this series would go when Mercy and Adam married, (River Marked) but it hasn’t slipped a bit. This is the 8th in the Mercy Thompson series and again, it’s an excellent read and a keeper. A portion of the plot is familiar this time, Adam’s ex-wife, Christy, has turned up on the doorstep asking for help and protection. Her last boyfriend brutalized her and she has the bruises to prove it, he’s made threats that he’s coming after her, and it looks as if he is. Mercy doesn’t like Christy, who is a sneaky manipulator, but how can she say no without looking unfair and unkind? So Christy moves in – and starts moving in on Adam as well, while every move that Mercy makes, has her appearing to be mean and spiteful. It doesn’t help that Jesse, Christy’s daughter, who lives with Mercy and Adam, is torn too. She loves her mother, but doesn’t really like or trust her, whereas she does like and trust Mercy, and the worsening trouble between Mercy and Christy is both distressing and stressing Jesse. This book was a very well-written reminder that supernatural/paranormal you may be, it won’t exempt you from the realities of life, it merely adds a few new angles to things that can go wrong.

Medea, Mercy’s cat makes an appearance too, Medea always makes my day, she’s a cat that likes anyone prepared to provide a lap and stroking hands. Vampires, werewolves, and the fae. All of whom, any cat with a normal sense of self-preservation, would avoid like the plague. Not Medea, there she is, stropping against calves, hopping into laps, and you get a feeling that those she approaches like it because most cats run from them, and if you were or are a cat-lover it must be upsetting, so it’s pleasant to find that one cat at least is happy to be cuddled even if your fangs are bigger than hers. I wonder when I read about her, if like my own feline friend, she isn’t an Ocicat, because when next door’s pitbull was a puppy and wanted to be friends, Thunder wasn’t at all bothered by that. And his own attitude, that an offered lap and cuddles renders any intelligence acceptable, is very much Medea’s attitude as well.

This is another solid work from Patricia Briggs, I recommend it, and pretty much anything at all that she’s written. My only complaint is that I wish she’d write a third Hurog book, and a sequel to When Demons Walk. I loved the characters in those and would really enjoy seeing them return. But then you can’t have everything and with her books, you’re getting excellent writing, characters, and plots. I’ll settle for that any day.


yes, just had confirmation that my story, Great Aunt Edna will be in Whortleberry’s Strange Summer Fun anthology. I’ve been selling to this market now since early 2009 and have always found them a very pleasant place. Excellent editors, good bunch of writers, and the anthology presentations are always well done. No, they can’t pay much, but there are times when I’ll take that over the occasional publisher that’s rude, difficult, and expects you to work overtime to make up for their deficiencies – often while not offering much more.

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