“[James Lee Burke’s] novel, The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111 times over a period of nine years, and, upon publication by Louisiana State University Press in 1986, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.”
I don’t know if that is encouraging to other writers, or discouraging, given the magnitude of this man’s talent.
Get Wayfaring Stranger. Dave Robicheaux and his friends aren’t in this one, but I didn’t miss them at all.
It’s by far the best book he’s ever written.


I was up again at 5.30 this morning, to work on “The Dolphin House.” To understand the strangeness of this, you need to know I was a night owl for most of my life.
The manuscript is up to 85,000 words, probably its limit. Now that the horrible (for me) slog through the first draft is done, the plot and characters just about jelled, the fun part comes with the rewriting: Polishing the prose, trimming the excesses, returning to the research for gems I may have missed.
My working method is to do just enough research on a topic (here, history) to get started. Too much research is a trap, and the book never gets written. When I’m writing and know what I need to know at some point, I dip back into the sources. But in the re-write I get the pleasure of browsing through all the sources again, finding things I may have missed, and picking out the neat tidbits that I could use in the story. I’ve never understood people who claim they hate to re-write!
This may be more than you care to know about my writing method!


Useful Things Learned While Editing a First Draft:
1. “Hunt and peck” typists get worse with age and arthritis.
2. If you change the name of a town, use “Search and Replace” not memory to find usage. Not doing so leads to much confusion.
3. Decide, once and for all, on the spelling of a character’s name.
4. Unnamed “Spear-carriers” deserve respect too. They shouldn’t begin a chapter as young females and end as old men.
5. The normal progression of the seasons is not from summer back to spring.
6. An awe-inspiring phrase inspires quite a different feeling the sixth and seventh time it’s used.
7. Buildings, walls, etc, referred to in one chapter, should not disappear from the next without the action of some disaster such as a tornado or a battering ram.
8. Characters should age one year for each twelve months that pass in the story.
Easter lilies


Tonight I took part in a service for Easter week at St Luke’s, “Women of the Cross.” It was a quiet, contemplative hour in a church lit mostly by candlelight, composed of gospel passages, stories and song about the women who also played a role in the events of the passion. The melancholy sound of a solo female voice in the darkened church,“Were you there when they crucified my lord?” still echoes in my ears. The ceremony was moving and empowering in a way I didn’t expect.
Driving home, it struck me: This was, in its effect, the modern, Christian equivalent of the Greek Eleusinian Mysteries by which women celebrated their very different path through life than the one men tread, and by the completion of which they were reclaimed their power. Men were taught by the Hero’s Journey, the outward adventuring path to the achievement of great goals. The female path is darker, more inward, more deeply involved with death and loss and the growth of spirit. The Greek mysteries sought to prepare women, and empower them for their own singular struggle in life.
Woman have developed many rituals to deal with this essential need – prayer circles, female retreats, drumming circles, quilting parties – but this ceremony faces head on Christ in his aspect as Death God, and speaks of female knowledge that the way to life is through suffering, the so-called “dark night of the soul.”
The Greeks were wise enough to know that neither path is complete without the other. But for too many centuries, too many religions – including Christianity – have suppressed the experience of women who are also *there* and whose stories count.
They still do.


I have no idea where the time went! (My last post was Christmas???)

The new, interim issue of the SFWA Bulletin has arrived, containing my Ray Bradbury tribute "Of Myth and Memory." This article (which also makes reference to the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, and one of my favorite SF writers, Catherine L. Moore)  is also the first chapter in my non-fiction book from Aqueduct Press, Myths, Metaphors, and Science Fiction, which is due out any day now.

At the moment, I'm deep into a historical novel set in 1st century AD Roman-occupied Britain -- not science fictional at all (although it is an alien world and maybe mythic in parts).Working title is The Dolphin House, but that may change.