First Day of Summer Writing Report

First day of summer writing report — I started an hour later than intended, and interrupted myself many times, but hey, 1400 words on a new story. The goal was 1000, and even if it took twice as long as it should’ve, we’ll call it a win. Onwards. Here’s the opening. 


Anika reached out to touch her husband’s hand, knowing she shouldn’t disturb his sleep, but needing the reassurance. Her sleep had been troubled, a roiling mass of incoherent dreams, dark figures striding across a shadowed landscape, torches blazing. Stephen made small, grumbly noise, but then his fingers curled around hers, squeezing.

“You okay?”

“Bad dreams.”

He tugged, and she shifted closer, into the shelter of his arms. “Me too,” he said. “All those torches…”

Anika took a quick, startled breath. It had been a long, long time since they’d walked in each others’ dreams. It happened so rarely once the children had arrived, and she’d assumed the gift had mostly been smothered by the daily weight of meal planning, homework supervising, doctor’s appointments and clothes sorting. Their minds were so full, between the children and their own work, there wasn’t much room left for…well, whatever the dream-walking had been. They’d never really found a good word for it.

“Mom!” Roshan at the bedroom door, sounding vaguely irritated. “Your phone keeps buzzing and buzzing.” He held it out in one hand, his eyes still fixed on the device in his other hand, undoubtedly deep into whatever game he was currently playing.

“Thanks, sweetie.” She’d decided to try keeping the phone *not* in the bedroom, hoping to sleep better, but hadn’t factored in that some callers could be persistent. “It’s Shruthi; I’d better call her back. She was on-call last night, and all the riots are bringing back bad memories. I’m sure she got a lot less sleep than we did.”

Stephen squeezed and released her, and Anika rolled out of bed, knowing he’d be deep in sleep again shortly. Time to get to work.


Roti or Love Cake?

Roti or love cake?? Hey, bakers. So at Serendib Kitchen, we’re planning on two things coming up soon:

– a baking video created as a sort of joint demonstration / interview with Pooja Makhijani (probably no audience / participants for this one)

– a bake-a-long (up to 20 participants who sign up in advance, get the recipe and ingredients prepped, then bake together in a Zoom call)

The two options I’d like to do early on are:

a) roti

b) love cake

If you have a preference for which of those we do for the bake-a-long, let me know? Thanks!

The bake-a-long will be held at 7 p.m. CST on either a weeknight / Sunday, at the request of Gin Grahame, who is in a far away time zone.  If you have a preference for a particular weeknight / Sunday, let me know that too.

This first one will be free, but later ones may morph into paid classes. First time around, you are my guinea pigs. 

Does Anyone Read Newsletters Anymore?

Folks, does anyone actually read newsletters anymore? One of the Nebula panels I attended yesterday was insistent on the need for newsletters for authors, esp. indie authors, and claimed that readers LOVED them. My own e-mail is a trash fire, and as a result, I have been very slack about setting up a monthly newsletter, but if people would actually like one from me, I can do that…

…or rather, I can probably assign one of my brilliant young part-time Serendib staffers (former interns for the SLF, but I have snagged them!) to troll through my posts for the last month, pull out the most important things, and compile a little newsletter draft, which I would then look over and tweak.

(How long should such a thing be? A single page, including pictures, seems very short to fit much in, but maybe I am overly verbose?)

I mean, maybe you’re the wrong people to ask, since you’re reading me here way too often as it is. But in case you have thoughts, would love to hear them.

World Fantasy Going Virtual

Quick note for SF/F writers. World Fantasy just e-mailed to announce that they’re cancelling and going virtual. I’m saddened that I won’t be going to Salt Lake City this fall, but I do think this was the wise decision (and taken out of their hands by the hotel cancelling.)

Having just attended the Nebulas this weekend virtually, and found it immensely useful and much more social than I’d expected, I’m delighted to note that this is happening, and that the registration cost of $125 for the virtual WFC is a very good investment for those serious about their writing career.

Usually attending WFC is much more expensive, esp. when you factor in travel costs. I’m registering now, and recommend it unto you. October 29 – November 1.

ALSO, they will surely need a lot of volunteers to pull this off well, so if you have time to volunteer, do consider it. It’s a great way to get involved and get to know people.

Create This Book

Kavi asked for a copy of Create This Book for her birthday, which was dutifully purchased for her, but I also got Kavi a copy of Wreck This Journal.

Create This Book was apparently meant to be a less destructive version of Wreck this Journal, or so Kavi told me, when I gave her this book? But I think my sweet girl could use a little help accessing her more destructive impulses (in a constructive manner). I feel like there’s probably a metaphor in there about protesting — sometimes you need to destroy in order to build better? — but I will leave its full unpacking as an exercise for the reader.

Kavi said I could share a copy of this exercise with you. The assignment was to create a non-stop line, and she said she thought about drawing a circle, but decided to draw this instead.

She showed it to Anand, and let him do it too, and he went for an oval-ish circle, and then promptly went back to his video game. I feel like this tells you something about both my children.

In the Midst of All This

In the midst of all this, books still come out, and writers tell you about them. This recently arrived at my door, and I have to admit, it’s a little bit of a thrill, still, seeing my name in that table of contents.

Twenty-five years into this writing thing, I’m clear that I’m never going to get over the fact that I turned into a person who writes books. The little ardent reader child who practically lived in the library is delighted. When I publish my 100th book (yes, I’m aiming for that, if Asimov could do it, why not me?), I’ll still be delighted.

Three Kings works as a stand-alone Wild Cards (George R.R. Martin’s superhero series) book, though you might get a bit more out of it if you read the first British book beforehand, Knaves over Queens. That introduces some of the characters. Three Kings isn’t yet available in the U.S., but can be purchased through Amazon UK, I believe?

Which seems like it sort of makes a mockery of the whole national boundaries thing, given that I think I can buy it right now for my Kindle and have it instantly downloaded, or even get it free with an Audible trial, but anything that makes a mockery of the idea of national boundaries is probably okay with me anyway…


There are a lot of Wild Cards books listed there! Fort Freak is a good starting point, with the reboot of the series, which is also where I come in. If you’re just looking for the ones I’ve contributed to, you’d want:

The Fort Freak Triad:

• Fort Freak

• Lowball

• High Stakes (I didn’t actually write for this, because I was going through cancer treatment at the time, but my characters’ story arcs complete here for the trilogy)

…then you could read:

• Low Chicago (picks up the Natya character from the Fort Freak triad, standalone book otherwise)


• Three Kings (my main character here is Alan Turing!)

and forthcoming standalone books:

• reissue of Deuces Down (featuring Retazos)

• Joker Moon (featuring The Moon Maid)

I’m going to be working on some pitches for three new WC books next. We’ll see if George likes any of them. (All of them? That’d be nice. )

Hoping for a Quiet Night

Hope everyone reading had a quiet night. I was grieved to read of a death at the North Riverside mall yesterday; I hope we can swiftly move forward towards justice without further bloodshed.

It’s the last week of school here; I woke up before Anand for a change, and decided to exert myself a bit to make a nice breakfast — waffles and sausages. The kids have done okay with remote / unschooling during the pandemic, but they’ll be relieved when it’s over, and so will we. I thought they could use a little strengthening food as we contend with the final week.

I’ve recently discovered that waffles + seeni sambol + syrup = delicious. You don’t even need butter, as there’s enough oil / ghee in the seeni sambol. It’s so good, if I had a little cafe, I’d put it on the brunch menu. Serve with fresh mangoes if you can.

Plan for today — finish reading Sorcerer to the Crown, which continues a delightful, ridiculous romp. The next book in my queue is the graphic novel, Vanni, centered on the Sri Lankan conflict, which is rather more somber; it helps to have something light to interleave between the darker pages. A little sweetness.

Exercise soon and a walk through the garden, then by 9, I hope to be settled in my writing shed for the first day of summer writing. Minimal goal of 1000 words for the day (about an hour of writing), although I’m hoping to get quite a bit more done, as I have a story overdue to my local workshop; if I can knock that out today, or at least enough of it to be worth showing them, I will. It’s a story about riots and revolution; hoping I have the heart and mind to do it justice.

Wishing you strength and sweetness for your battles today, and rejuvenating rest when you need it.

So, if You Remember

So, if you remember, I made some badly-overcooked cod. I can’t stand throwing out food, but I also hate eating bad food. I was hoping I could figure out a way to make it vaguely palatable, so I went looking, and it seemed like the uses for overcooked cod mostly fell into one of these three options:

– mashing them up with potatoes, maybe rolling in bread crumbs, and frying them into a cutlet / patty kind of thing
– chopping them up with mayo, etc. for a fish salad kind of thing
– making kedgeree

Well, kedgeree was way more attractive to me than the first two, so I was obviously going to go with that.

“According to “Larousse Gastronomique”, what we call kedgeree originated from a concoction of spiced lentils, rice, fried onions and ginger known as khichiri dating back to the 14th century and eaten across India. The early colonists developed a taste for it, as it reminded them of nursery food. Both khichiri and fish became mainstays of the Raj breakfast table and, in time, their Indian cooks integrated the two. Eggs, believed to have been introduced to the Indian kitchen repertoire by conquering Mughals centuries earlier, were later added as a garnish. When the dish travelled back to Edwardian country homes, via letters and regiments, the lentils were usually left out and flaked smoked haddock added in (the Scots take credit for this). Florence Nightingale and Queen Victoria were especially partial to kedgeree.” – 1843 Magazine

I had another problem, though — I’d made a lot of marinade for the fish, and I didn’t want to waste it. All that good onion-ginger-garlic-spiced goodness! So I wanted to turn it into a sauce. Now, remember, you had raw fish sitting in that marinade, so if you do this, be sure to bring it up to a boil for at least five minutes at some time in the process.

But what I did was start with heating oil in a pan, adding the marinade, and trying to sort of sauté it, because the raw onion-ginger-garlic was very intense. That sort of worked? Even after ten minutes or so of sautéing, it was still fairly intense. But then I added some chopped cherry tomatoes, some ketchup, some coconut milk, checked the seasonings, and simmered it all for a while, and eventually, it turned into a reasonable curry sauce.

Then it was just a matter of flaking the fish (it looks nice, doesn’t it? You can’t tell it’s rubbery by looking), adding some frozen peas, simmering that together for a bit, and then stirring in rice and hard-boiled eggs. Kedgeree!

Now, would I serve this to anybody else? No. Because the fish is still chewy and sad. But it’s in tiny shreds and at least sufficiently disguised by everything else that I’m now willing to eat it, and this rest of it is delicious, so we’re going to call this a win.