Sunday, May 15, 2022

Release Day for WIND, OCEAN, GRASS! with one more look inside

 It's release day for my new picture book!

The Kindle edition of Wind, Ocean, Grass is now available from Amazon, along with the paperback. And the paperback and hardcover editions are or soon will be available from multiple online retailers. (If it's listed as "out of stock," "backordered," or some such, it may be due to the re-approval process I described in my last post, still at that awkward phase between the original versions selling out and the new ones arriving. Or it may be just the usual order process combined with the omnipresent supply chain delays. If the vendor still lists it as on pre-order, that may have to do with what time today the distributor deigns to change that status.) 

Here, then, are two more of the illustrated spreads featuring illustrator Tomasz Mikutel's breathtaking paintings (and my words).

The following retailers are among those carrying the book.


Bookshop (hardcover only, so far)

Books-A-Million (hardcover link)

Powell's Books (both hardcover and paperback, though the book cover doesn't show in the listing)

Barnes & Noble will have it when (I'm guessing) the corrected cover is approved.

Also, your local bookstore should be able to order it. (For reasons having to do with pricing and wholesaler discounts, they may be more eager to order the paperback, but still willing to order the hardcover.) And I'd love to have you ask them, as a few such requests may induce them to carry the book regularly.

Happy reading and art enjoyment, everyone!

Saturday, May 14, 2022

More of the art from WIND, OCEAN, GRASS, and -- what I meant about collector's items

 Here are two more of the illustrated spreads (with words) from my new picture book Wind, Ocean, Grass, to be "released" tomorrow and already available in paperback from Amazon.

And there's so much more! (To be precise, forty more spreads than I've posted here so far.)

Now, about that "collector's item" hint.

After various angst-inducing episodes, I finally had the paperback and hardcover editions finished, uploaded, and approved. So I ordered some author copies . . . and didn't actually proofread the back cover for another few days, at which point I discovered to my horror that there was a typo in the text. It wasn't the sort of typo that leaps out at you, necessarily, but it was there. (I'm not identifying it, for a reason I'll get to it a minute.)

I was able to generate a new back cover pretty quickly -- quickly enough that the paperback edition could still come out on Amazon without delay. However, the hardcover edition, and the paperback edition distributed elsewhere, have a considerably longer maze to get through. In the meantime, copies with the typo have already been distributed to various retailers. Not until the corrected version makes it through the approval process will the distributor even start sending it out. I'm hoping this happens within the next couple of days, but have no guarantees. (It may, for example, be stalled over the weekend.)

So . . . if you buy the hardcover anywhere, or the paperback anywhere but Amazon, you just may be one of the lucky few to obtain the original version, typo included. Presto, a future collector's item! -- potentially, at least.

As for the typo itself: if you buy a copy (again, other than the paperback available from Amazon) before the corrected version completely replaces the original, you can entertain yourself looking for it. Call it a treasure hunt.

Tomorrow, I'll celebrate Release Day by posting more of the illustrated spreads. And once you get hold of the book itself, I promise all the cryptic bits of text you've seen here will make sense.

Friday, May 13, 2022

I Can Call a Picture Book Gorgeous Even If I'm the Author, Because I'm Not the Illustrator

 (Actually, I'm all in favor of people owning their achievements. Theoretically. In practice, I'm . . . getting better at it.)

My latest picture book, Wind, Ocean, Grass, has a release date of Sunday, May 15th, but the paperback is already available on Amazon. And it is gorgeous! Tomasz Mikutel, the illustrator, is a painter, exhibiting in galleries. He calls his style "classic and traditional" but also "loose." I call it -- or at least, the wonderful work in this book -- impressionist, or something close to it.

Here are a couple of the double-page spreads (with text included). See what I mean?

I'll post more tomorrow and on Release Day.

So what is the book about? Well, here's the description I've been using on Amazon and elsewhere.


This unique picture book has neither human nor animal characters, but instead features the wind speaking to the grass, explaining how long grasses are both like and unlike the waves of the ocean. Through lyrical prose and breathtaking impressionist-style paintings, the reader follows the wind’s journey over sea and land: the many moods of the ocean, the different seasons of the grassy field. We see glimpses of the birds that live off the bounty of the ocean, and the birds and flowers that live among the grasses.

Through this nature metaphor, the story, without becoming didactic, teaches children about seeing commonality and celebrating differences.


There are some complications about which versions will be available outside Amazon when. I'll explain next time. Hint: collector's items!

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

A snippet from upcoming-I-hope near-future novel DONATION -- featuring my favorite fictional judge

I hope, and just about believe, that after much dithering and changing course, I'll finally be publishing my near-future novel Donation this coming spring. And here's a snippet.

Donation involves the issues that arise when the federal government controls artificial womb technology. In this scene, federal judge Alexandra (Alex) Rayner examines some papers filed in a lawsuit where a woman who "donated" her embryo (now a fetus) is trying to regain her parental rights, and the Bureau of Reproductive Safety is fighting her tooth and nail.

I adore Judge Rayner. As one character says, she's what I'd like to be when I grow up -- or would be if I weren't more comfortable these days writing books.


Judge Alexandra Rayner sat back in her rocking chair, luxuriously comfortable in her long bathrobe, quilted slippers on her feet – she’d finally found slippers neither too short nor too wide! -- and contemplated the opening motions in what promised to be a most interesting case. Interesting, and in unfamiliar territory: federal judges like herself were rarely drawn into family law disputes. Only the fact that the clinics were established under the aegis of the federal government had brought this matter to her court.

There was, of course, the threshold question: should she recuse herself because of the abortion all those years ago? She thought not. She had made that choice in a very different world, a world with different options and different consequences. That history did not predispose her to take any particular view of the present controversy.

So. The plaintiff wanted the adoption process frozen. Problematic, at least if continued for long, given Alex’s inability to freeze fetal development to match.

The plaintiff also wanted an order giving her access to the incubator, so she could talk to the fetus. Meanwhile, the clinic, should Alex decline to dismiss the case immediately, wanted carte blanche for the chosen adoptive parents to do the same, pointing out that for them to do so was normally routine. (And just when had those parents been chosen? Not that it mattered for her purposes.) She would ask for affidavits from experts about the importance to and effect on the fetus of hearing voices that could eventually be familiar and familial. And what about other voices? Did the nurses, or technicians, or whatever they were called talk to the incubators? How much? Were human voices in general more important than particular voices? Did even the experts know? Well, whether or not they knew, they’d try to sound as if they did.

Hmmm . . . That would be a possible solution. Indeed, uniquely rational. If the affidavits supported the claim that human voices, or the voices of family members, played an important developmental role, then the parties — plaintiff and individual defendants — could supply the same. Separately, and taking turns.

She could wish to be a fly — a temporary and sentient fly — on the wall when these competing would-be parents had their visits. What would they want the fetus to hear? What would they be unable to keep themselves from saying? Such knowledge would be helpful indeed, if her job was to play Solomon and send the baby where it would be best nurtured and loved. But she had no such mandate, and thank God for that.

Though come to think of it, Solomon had been asked to determine, not the best mother, but the true one. Maybe not so far, after all, from her own more legalistic duty.

And this degree of woolgathering meant it was time she went to bed. But first, she would send herself a note as a reminder. If she did order access to the fetus, she had better make sure the clinic did not take advantage of the logistics to record or listen in.


Back to final(??) revisions. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Problem With Pronouns

 I have been struggling for several years to become consistent at using "they/them" pronouns for someone I love, someone I've known almost half my life. During almost all that time, I and others referred to this person with "she/her" pronouns. I don't give a damn what, if any, gender this person is. The struggle arises from other factors.

I grew up speaking English. Like many of you -- including the person in question -- I have studied another language. So I have some appreciation of the profound differences between speaking one's native tongue and speaking a language in which one is not fluent. I believe these differences explain why changing my pronoun usage has been so difficult. Caveat: I'm not a scholar in linguistics or any related science. I'm describing an experience, one which I've done my best to study from the inside. (Second caveat: the English people under thirty-ish have learned may well be more flexible in structure.)

When I speak English, the basic building blocks require no conscious thought or effort. Verb forms, the ordering of parts of speech, and other such features of the particular language I speak -- all these fall into place at what I'll call a pre-conscious level. And from what I can tell, pronouns fall into that category. In the English I learned in the mid-1950s, the English in which I'm fluent, a single known human being takes the "he" set or the "she" set of pronouns. (Unknown humans are another story. I don't know whether, at some time before my era, using "he" for all unknown individuals was automatic, but it isn't for me.)

So, the building blocks are in place. Next comes adding the substance of what I want to say. This does require conscious choices. Even more deliberate is the next layer, one of nuance. Does the word that has come to mind have the right connotation? Is it sufficiently evocative? Will it fall pleasantly on the ear?

The final step, if I'm to use "they/them" for a single known person, amounts to slapping a filter on the top of this stack of words and meaning. It's the very last step before I open my mouth. Indeed, it often comes a fraction of a second later, and what I say comes out with hitches and interruptions, last-minute saves. 

Here's the ironic and most upsetting aspect of this process: the more I care about the content of what I'm saying, the more emotional significance it has for me and for the person I'm saying it to, the harder it is to remember to add that filter. So the more it matters, the more likely I am to sabotage the communication and hurt someone I love.

I understand, at least to some extent, why pronouns matter so much to this person and others like them. (Phew! Got it right that time.) Gender is a deeply personal matter, and being referred to with the wrong pronoun -- at least, for this person and many others -- feels like an attack. They don't see the errant "she" as just a part of speech. They view it as an insistence that what they know and feel doesn't matter. And even if it happens rarely, just knowing that it could happen means that every minute in the unreliable speaker's company is an ordeal of continuous stress.

I wish this person would make their own attempt to understand. And I have a more desperate wish, even less likely to be granted: that they, and others facing the same impasse, could revisit the symbolic heft they accord pronouns. Giving pronouns such power makes no-win situations, broken relationships, and broken hearts nearly inevitable.

Friday, November 12, 2021

A wonderful passage that applies to writing stories

 I just came upon a wonderful quotation in a wonderful book -- Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan. It concerns George, an eight-year-old boy who is very ill, and who greatly cherishes C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. (It twinges a bit for me to resist putting in an Oxford comma.)

"George knows you can take the bad parts in a life, all the hard and dismal parts, and turn them into something of beauty. You can take what hurts and aches and perform magic with it so that it becomes something else, something that would never have been, except you make it so with your spells and stories and with your life."

This speaks to me as a writer, and may similarly speak to other writers, and to those wrestling with those hard and dismal parts of life.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Release Day!! for picture book WHEN IT'S WINTER

The wait is over! If you like winter, cute kids, cute dogs, and/or picture books with lovely illustrations, I hope you'll check out my newly released When It's Winter with illustrations by Barbara Dessi. I've been previewing pics and text alternately over the last few days (just scroll down), and I hope I've whetted your appetite.

Here's the cover, once again.

Here's the blurb.

"What makes winter special? This picture book celebrates the many fun activities and sensory experiences of the season. Follow a girl and her dog through the play and discoveries of a snowy day, and on toward bedtime.

"The first person narrative will encourage new readers to claim it as their own. The repetition of the phrase 'When it's winter . . .' will encourage children to chime in, and be of assistance to early readers."

And here's the Amazon link! (It may take you to the Kindle edition instead of the paperback I've told it to use, but you can get over to the paperback with one click.)

When last I checked, "Look Inside" wasn't yet functional for the Kindle ebook. If you encounter that problem, feel free to email me at, and I'll send you the first couple of illustrations. (You could also "look inside" the paperback, though it'll display single pages, i.e. half of the illustration at a time.) (Of course, you could just buy the book . . . . 🙂 )

Happy reading, all!