Home is where the dogs are

I’m back home after a long, grueling, and very fun week on the Oregon coast at the fantasy writing workshop taught by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I learned a few things, caught up with some of my author friends – and made a few new ones, and started a few new novels. 🙂

I wasn’t actually supposed to start any more novels – I have too many on my list already! But writing short stories is a slippery slope for me…it’s far too easy for an idea to grow. At this point I know myself well enough that I expected this to happen, so I’m embracing the whole thing. I really like some of the new stories, so the only negative is that I have no idea when I’ll have time to get back to them because I have so many deadlines lined up. And, of course, putting the wrong dates for the workshop on my calendar over a year ago, and discovering this less than a week before class started (ack!) means I’m now playing catch-up on a few things. I should be back on track by this time next week.

This was the last workshop I’ll go to in Oregon – starting in the fall, these classes will begin being offered in Las Vegas. I will miss the ocean and staying at the Anchor Inn, which is by far the most unusual place I’ve ever stayed at. It was funny to realize that I’ve been attending the Oregon workshops for long enough to be able to recognize changes to the Anchor, like the kayaks that used to hang upside-down from one of the hallways are no longer there, and the spot where I parked my rental car back in 2011 is now part of a walled-off courtyard. Classes in Vegas just won’t be the same. 🙂

One of the ‘short stories’ (ha!) I started is a historical fantasy set in 79 A.D. It feels like it will either end up as a long short story, or a short novella – but it’s not a novel. Or at least I’m pretty sure it’s not… I’m thinking I might jam this one in my queue after I finish my looming deadlines, since it should be a lot faster to finish than a full novel. Plus I have the rest of the story in my mind now, and I really want to write it. Here’s a snippet.

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I felt the first tremor the morning of Consualia, the first of the four August harvest festivals. My half-sister Caelia and I sat on the stone steps leading up to our father’s home, sheltered from the heat of the midday sun by the branches of a lemon tree. We’d finished our chores for the day, and were braiding flowers into garlands to adorn our two mules for the celebration that would wind through the cobblestoned streets of Pompeii that evening. The occasional bee wandered by, buzzing as it inspected our blossoms, and then moving on.

I glanced over my shoulder at the higher of the two peaks of Vesuvius, which stood maybe five or six miles from us. Its massive form rose out from the earth like the god some people believed it to be, rising to around five thousand cubits high. It looked no different than on any other day: a mountain formed of charcoal and brown rock, with one giant peak almost twice as tall as the smaller, older one beside it. Swaths of chestnut, oak, and ilex trees wrapped around its lower stretches like a bright green blanket. A tiny wisp of smoke curled up from its tip.

Everyone else believed the small puffs of smoke Vesuvius spat out from time to time to be clouds. But I had been born with fire in my veins, and I knew what the mountain really was.

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The best thing about coming home was, of course, seeing Rosie and Jasper! Jasper’s 8th birthday was on Saturday (or at least that’s the day we picked, since we really have no idea when he was actually born), so we celebrated on Sunday evening after I got home. Both dogs enjoyed their plates of vanilla ice cream. 🙂

Happy, muddy dogs.

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