Judith Tarr's Blog

April 4, 2017

After many years, I've finally reached my limit on what I can put up with by way of terms of service. This journal is on its way to dreamwidth, where I also go by the name of dancinghorse. Once the import is complete, I will be shutting down.

The new location of my blog is here:

https://dancinghorse.dreamwidth.org/

It's been a long time since I posted, and most of my presence these days is on facebook (as Judith Tarr) and twitter (as dancinghorse), along with regular columns at Tor.com and books and a very occasional blog at bookview cafe.com. I am thinking I may wake up my blog over at dw, for entries too long for my political/professional twitter and too political for my politics-free facebook page.

This has been my online bloghome for a very long time. Coming on the heels of the demise of my sff.net web page, which also had been neglected for far too long, it feels like a fundamental upheaval, but also like a necesssary change. A refreshing of the systems. A return to the roots, but in new ways. In a new pot, as it were--like the Birthday Rose, which outgrew its pot and now lives in a new one.

I will miss my lovely page design here--Carrie Keymel's beautiful horses--but some things do pass down the streams of time. I expect I'll see many of you over at dw; the queue is long today, and we're passing around tea and cake as we wait.

See you there, I hope?
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Published on April 04, 2017 17:53 • 104 views

May 3, 2016

I'm continuing the editing and Horse Camp sale, and the Patreon page for new fiction is ongoing--many thanks to those who have joined the adventure so far.

Those who know me well know that when I break down and offer a sale, it's because I've run out of options. The past few years have been increasingly difficult, and last year was brutal. This year has been, emotionally, much less awful--and I have my writing mojo back. But in all other ways it's been worse than any year before it.

Right now I do not know how I'm going to feed the horses for the rest of the month. I have managed to scrape out enough to pay for the last load of hay (if that late check finally gets here), but once it's eaten, which it will be in about ten days, I don't know what I'm going to do. The farm will be gone by midsummer unless I find a steady source of sufficient income. I've been hustling like a hustling thing but so far with minimal results.

The market does not want either me or the horses. The horses are all old and therefore retired and unsalable, or else would require thousands of dollars' worth of training and show fees to have any sale value. No one can take them. The market is saturated with unwanted horses and the rescues are overloaded. I am over 60, hearing impaired (ergo, unable to use the phone), and with chronic fatigue syndrome which makes office or minimum-wage work difficult to impossible. And minimum wage would not support the animals, let alone me. All my income streams from backlist books, editing, writing, etc. have shrunk to a trickle or dried up. No one has booked a Camp in over a year.

I have had a few small things come through, but as with everything else, they've fallen short or failed to produce. I continue to push, and with the fiction writing regaining its old fluidity, I may manage to make something happen there. I've been urged to try an Indiegogo for a short novel, and I am closing in on that. (Indiegogo, unlike Kickstarter, offers an option that pays even if the goal is not met. The goal would be enough to cover mortgage, horses, and utilities for a month.) Since for the first time in my life I'm able to write more than one project at a time, that means I can continue to meet my obligation to backers of last November's Kickstarter for a science-fiction novel, and also write the novella (and short stories, too).

A friend suggested that I offer sponsorships for the horses. I feel weird about that, but they need to eat. What I would give in return is a little writeup about the horse being sponsored, with a digital album of pictures and a monthly update. And short fiction as it happens, if you are a reader with an interest.

Here's what the monthly "full ride" would be:

$200 Feeds and waters one horse for a month

$300 Feeds and waters the horse and contributes toward the farm (portion of mortgage and utilities)

$750 buys one load of hay, which lasts a little over three weeks

$100 buys a week's worth of grain and supplements

Email me at capriole at gmail dot com for details. Partial sponsorships are most welcome.

I welcome referrals for editing clients, bookings for horse camp, and writing gigs of various sorts including game dialogue and scripts. I do story commissions, too. Email for rates and details.

If you've read my books, there's one thing you can do that won't cost you anything: Post an honest review online, especially at Amazon. The more reviews a book gets, the likelier it is to trigger the algorithm that gets the book on recommendation and "If you liked this" lists, which means more chance of improving sales. Mentioning the books at conferences, recommending a favorite to friends, blogging about it--all these things help. I can tell when people are talking about my work; I see the spike in sales. And that's more feed money and bill money and money to pay the mortgage.

Please feel free to link and signal-boost at will. Last week's signal went everywhere and I was tremendously grateful, but the response has been in line with the rest of this year's efforts. I can only keep trying. And keep writing. And keep putting it out there.
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Published on May 03, 2016 14:23 • 171 views

April 26, 2016

Something strange has happened these past few days. First I realized that the past two years have basically blurred and mostly vanished in my mind, so that when my truck battery died, I was positive it was three years old. It was five, which is reallydamngood for a battery in Arizona. And I'd been sick for a month, so those days mostly blurred out as well, but I was able after the first week to work, which is good. And now I'm better, and that's a really good thing.

And this week my fiction brain has gone off the charts on generating new words. It hasn't done this in years and years. It's spinning out stories and space opera--shaped novel like one of those crazy Hubble galaxies with all the pieces flying off in streams that run clear off the human-perceptible spectrum.

And that is fabulous. But I must eat, and even more important the horses must eat, and writing income is s l o w. A good part of the fiction-genesis is probably fiscal panic, throwing back to when writingrealfast under contract meant payment, sometimes, a fraction faster. But there are no book contracts any more.

So! To pay the hay bill, and keep the horses in grain while the words continue to spin out of my brain, I believe it's time for various shapes and sizes of SALE. (I take personal checks within the US, and Paypal worldwide at capriole at that gmail thing.) Option 1 below is ongoing with no expiration. I'll run options 2 and 3 for a week to start, and maybe another week, we'll see.

1. I have a Patreon page. This is where the new fiction first appears, and if you've seen it before, I've revamped it and changed the rewards and perks to emphasize the fiction. Patreon is a great platform for writers and artists--we support each other, too, tossing a dollar or two or three in the pot and spreading the wealth around as much as we can.

2. I have openings for Mentoring and Editing Clients. Wide range of services from conventional editing to one-on-one classes to advice and input on the horse details in your ms. I'm offering a sale this week: 5 hours at $250, which is a $50 discount. Current mentees may participate, as always.

3. Camp Lipizzan is back! The house has been renovated since the last Camp, and all the old comforts are still here, most notably the hot and cold running Lipizzans. Summer is challenging but we're up for it if you are, and October through March are beautiful. Just for this sale, if you book at regular price, bring a friend and I'll give you $50 off the second Camp.

Questions? Leave a comment here or email me at capriole at that gmail thing. I'll be over here, writing writing writing. And oh, it's a wonderful thing.
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Published on April 26, 2016 16:14 • 59 views

November 15, 2015

We're about seven hours to closing the Kickstarter for the new space opera. If you've been wanting to come aboard, the doors are still open, but the passengers have mostly boarded and they're rolling up the ramp.

Update 13 (my lucky number) has an excerpt from the book. Backers are getting at least one bonus story, and maybe two. The backer who puts us up and over the next stretch goal gets to be a villain in the book. Come and see.
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Published on November 15, 2015 12:10 • 108 views

November 5, 2015

First, the "What's She Up To?" section:

I'm running a Kickstarter for a new space opera through November 15th--that's another ten days. It's funded, yay, which means it's a happening thing, and we're into stretch goals. That's where the real fun is. More space opera! More space whales! And Ponies in Spaaaaace!

I also have a Patreon going, which right now is covering Ro's medications. He's still on two different eye meds four times a day, and Spot is celebrating age fourteen by developing a bunch of problems. So we're doing a virtual Camp Lipizzan for patrons. This is fun, and also useful. My favorite combination.

Also, if you're doing NaNo, Writing Horses is in the official NaNo book collection, the Storybundle with all the writing books you could ask for. That's on through December 31st.

So that's been keeping me busy, along with the usual action around the farm. Gabriella colicked badly the week before last, needed the vet two days running, but good drugs and good old mineral oil through the traditional tube combined with her tough-old-lady constitution to get her back up to speed. (Do Not tell her she's an old lady. When she's not dealing with possible feed toxicity or else a virus, she looks and acts like a ten-year-old.) She's returned to her imperious chowhound self, and makes me smile every day.

When there is time around the ongoing cascade of crises, I've been observing the days of the dead and the Celtic new year by trying to get my center back. It's been a seriously jangly year. HouseMageddon is over, and there are walls and floors and paint and fixtures and beautiful new rooms that I've finally had the mind-space to appreciate. It's all so clean and fresh, and vinyl tile is ever so much easier than carpet when one has animals. And, you know, working bathroom. And no holes in the walls or floors.

But oh, what a summer it was. Living in the two guest rooms, which are lovely rooms but quite crowded with two dogs and three cats, and half a house worth of Stuff in the library. I am a claustrophobe, and three months in what felt like an episode of "Hoarders" at one end and a construction zone at the other (complete with no walls and hole-riddled temporary floor) was...bracing. Yes. Bracing.

Still. We survived. It did not kill us. Therefore, we should be stronger. And the new parts of the house are so pretty. I knew I'd have a  new master bath plus new floors in bedroom and dining room--the water leak under the hot-water heater was epic--but with one thing and another (thank you, high-end carpet and built-in cabinets that we dispensed with in favor of vinyl tile and pre-made vanity and gorgeous Epic China Cabinet), we ended up with a new dining room, new floors everywhere but the library and the guest rooms, plus repairs to the outside of the house where last year's gas-line repair tore up the skirting. AND we came in under budget. Much as I kvetched about the contractors, they did their job and they got in all the things and even added bits that I hadn't thought they could manage.

While the contractors were working through the insurance settlement, I started renovating the kitchen. That's about a third done. Walls are painted, floors repaired, and plumbing and appliances likewise. Cabinets still need painting and repairs, pantry needs new shelves, plus odds and bits. I'm on hiatus--I'm renovated out--but will get back to it in the new year. It's much fresher already, and much prettier. And the oven actually, you know, works.

I am still fighting chronic fatigue attacks, and the horses are waiting for me to get back to doing more than feed and wrangle blankets. That will come. I am determined. It may take a while, and probably be January before it all comes together, but It. Will. Happen.
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Published on November 05, 2015 12:11 • 33 views

October 24, 2015

Look! I'm doing another SPAAAAAACE Opera Kickstarter!

More space whales this time. And more pirates. And more adventures.
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Published on October 24, 2015 14:14 • 51 views

August 17, 2015

I'm posting here so everybody gets to see. We're allllllmost done with HouseMageddon, aka the Full-House Restoration, aka Four Months of Construction Hell.

Ro-Pup meanwhile continues to see his eye vet every two weeks. His eye had seemed to clear up...until the day before his supposedly final vet visit, when it blew up all over again. Somewhat over a month later, he is down to three different meds a total of six times per day (from four/eight), and has developed glaucoma, which one of the meds appears to be helping. He has his own pharmacy card at Walgreens, and the pharmacist has come to know us rather well.

This, on top of having to repair a slew of household systems and appliances in order to make the renovations happen, has strained the budget to snapping. I do not know where Wednesday's vet-visit payment is coming from, and the next two weeks are going to be interesting. And that means...SALE!

I am considering a Patreon, but since I also will have to run a Kickstarter if I'm to write the much-requested sequel to the space opera, I'm concerned about donor fatigue. Also, it makes me kind of squirmy. Though a Camp Lipizzan diary and Virtual Camp might appeal to a different demographic than the space-opera fans.

As I said, I am pondering.

Meanwhile, in honor of Ro and the Whole-House Restoration, may I offer:

1. CAMP LIPIZZAN

Book and pay at least half by 9 pm PDT on Thursday the 20th, and get $25 off 3 days/2 nights or $50 off 5 days/4 nights ($350 or $450). Camps are available in October, and from January through March. Additional dates may be possible. Just ask.

Details of Camp are here.

2. MENTORING AND EDITING SERVICES

I'll have some openings for mentoring and editing beginning in September. Normal rate is $60 per hour. For the sale, I'm offering 5 hours for $250. Open to all: new, current, and former clients.

Details of the various services are here.

3. EBOOK SPECIALS

Available by direct request only. Choose from my catalogue at Book View Cafe. Prices work like this:

$2.99 --> $2.50
$3.99 --> $3.50
$4.99 --> $4.50
$6.99 --> $6.00

Yep. That last isn't a typo.

I'll further sweeten the deal for trilogies and series, all of which retail at $4.99. Two volumes for $8.00, three for $12.00.

Remember, this is by direct request only. Please specify format when ordering (epub or Kindle).

Send requests and Paypal payments to capriole at that gmail thing.

Signal boosting appreciated, and thank you all. I hope to see some of you at Camp!
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Published on August 17, 2015 13:16 • 106 views

July 18, 2015

Still breathing. Still in HouseMageddon Hell (89% done, says Mr. Boss Contractor Man). Dog's eye still a problem dogdammit--he was perfectly fine until the day before his allegedly final vet visit, when he injured it all over again and went all the way back to square one, and we're all the way back to meds four times a day and vet every two weeks.

Am getting basically a new house. They're (vinyl) tiling all but the library and guest rooms. Kitchen, laundry room getting new subfloors as well as new (vinyl) tile. That's this week. Allegedly. If insurance coughs up the rest of the money. Master bath nearly done, I'm told. My living space gets smaller and smaller as I condense everything into the parts that will keep their carpeting. When (if)(no, WHEN!) it's done, I shall explode outward like a supernova of books, furniture, clothing, animals...

My best guess is that it will be done by Labor Day. Then Camp Lipizzan opens for the winter. Anybody who comes will find all kinds of shiny newness and Extreme Pretty (and an Epic China Cabinet that just begs for a disco ball). We're taking reservations. Email or we can talk in comments.

Meanwhile, a question for the hive mind. Patreon: threat or menace? It's been suggested I try it to help with the dog's bills, which are back to considerable, between the meds and the vet's across-the-board price increases. I'd need to figure out what people would like by way of perks, and whether it would be worthwhile to jump on a bandwagon already extensively jumped on. Then again, I support a few myself, for a tiny amount each, and they do add up--and the perks are lovely. So: would this be something I could venture into?

I'm in a sine wave of I Can't Even/I Shall Go On, as HouseMageddon and DogsEyePocalypse spin on and on and forever on. From fetal curl under the bed to Warrior One, back and forth. It's an adventure.
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Published on July 18, 2015 13:35 • 61 views

May 5, 2015

The Equipment is gone. Nice Young Men came this morning and took it out. Then they missed with the breaker box and lo, there is power to the whole house again. And it is good.

Tomorrow Nice Young Men (having tracked down the adjuster in the wilds of New Mexico) will come and install a temporary floor, so that there will be a bottom to the southeast quadrant of the world, and cats will be less likely to fall through and escape.

The silence is wonderful. Beautiful. Restful. Five days of nonstop roaring has worn us all down.

This afternoon I spent some hours ascertaining that yes, the DSL router is properly dead, and being told by Tech Support to replace it, and researching potential replacements. Ebay supplied the latest model for a nice discount, with three-year warranty and expedited shipping. I have hopes that it will arrive this week. Please god. The hotspot works well, but this would be the week in which I'm receiving and sending multiple large book and image files, and will be receiving and sending yet more. I'll have to top up the hotspot tonight or tomorrow.

So that takes care of the question of whether to kill the landline. Uh, nope.

Planned errand run deferred another day. I am plotzed. I have to educate myself about flooring right good and quick, because I want to do something other than carpet in the renewed bathroom, and I need to know what I'm asking for, also prices relative to carpet, because that's what the insurance will cover. Home Depot will be part of the errand run. I want sturdy, attractive, and above all, easily cleanable in the presence of small domestic predators. The nice people in the orange logo will answer my questions, I'm sure.

And oh, god, I forgot upload my Rawnblog for tomorrow. EEEEEK!

Off I go.
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Published on May 05, 2015 15:13 • 188 views

May 3, 2015

(Thanks for that, Joss.)

Oh, we are having so much fun here. It kills us how much fun we are having.

So the bathroom floor went squoosh, and part of the bedroom floor. So I knew there was a water leak. Then the propane tank emptied untimely. As I discovered last Monday after the company offices had closed for the day.

Tuesday the propane man came, checked all attachments, and noted that it was all shipshape and Bristol-fashion.

Except the water heater. Which was leaking propane, and which was sitting on a rather heroically rotted floor.

Heater was red-tagged and disconnected. Goodbye, hot water.

The plumber came on Wednesday, and decreed that the faulty propane valve was not fixable and the heater was a goner. This triggered a call to the reclamation company, which came and looked and went OY! And that triggered a call to the homeowners' insurance. And lo, there were adjusters, and there were inspectors, and there were oys and good god!s and yowches. But! my great fear, that none of it was covered, appeared to be assuaged. They would/will rebuild the gutted quadrant, including closet for the heater.

So Thursday the brawny young men came and started ripping. And sawing. And tearing. Bathroom, half of bedroom, most of dining room. Down to the studs.

I moved into the other end of the house. Which was its own drama. Guest toilet had overflowed last yoga day, and I had shut it off. Plumber decreed it dead. But! he was able to take the much newer unit from the gutted master bath and pop it into the guest bath. And that gave me a functional facility.

Friday the new water heater arrived--approved by the appliance insurance. Much bigger and nicer than the old one. But in order to install it to code, I had to pay a hefty chunk of nonexistent cash, because codes are stricter than they were ca. 1980, or even ca. 2000. Much.

Having had his palm crossed with promises, the plumber rigged the heater outside with an adorable vent for a hat, where it blinks to itself and provides Water Hot Such A Noble Thing while the renovations go on. I resist the urge to paint it blue and silver and call it "R2."

And the brawny young men ascertained meanwhile that my other paralyzing fear, of mold and rot (not covered), was also Not A Problem. Once the pulped flooring and soaked insulation were out and the walls and fixtures dismembered and sent flying out the window, all was clean, and the only rot was in the heater closet, where we had all seen it. Yog Bless our desert climate.

They had installed dehumidifiers on Thursday. Friday and Saturday, fans went in. And it was all contained in plastic, which at night would...breathe. Much fun while watching "When Ghosts Attack" because seriously, braindead.

Yesterday being Saturday, the last of the debris was cleared and the fans continued. And I was slowly starting to find a rhythm in it all. Sort of.

And then when I went to turn the lights on at horse-feeding time, no lights. Also no lights in the guest room. No power to most of the north half of the house, except, weirdly, for the library, where Camp workshops happen.

The other half of the house--where the one working cooler (the lines are part of the heater closet, so plumber could only hook up one) and all the major appliances were, was still suitably electrified. I ran extension cords for the couple of small things I needed (lights, tv) and decided to crawl into bed and forget it till morning.

Especially the part where the DSL modem, despite being on a surge protector in the powered half of the house, managed to fry itself. It powers up, connects, shuts off. Lather, rinse, repeat. Nothing from the help pages applies to this situation, and support does not do weekends.

Lucky for me one of my must-haves when I upped the ante to a real smartphone last year was the ability to serve as a hotspot. This morning I paid my $5 and got my month of service. So I'm OK till we get the router sorted out. I dare to hope the insurance will replace it.

This morning the nice young man came back to check the equipment. Now we are waiting for his superior to talk to the adjuster to get an electrician out to figure out why part of the house has no power. NYM checked all he could check, and was baffled. Ancient wiring is ancient. And idiosyncratic.

Meanwhile he rigged a power box for all the fans and such, which is its own triple-warded spell of protection. And I am without a clothes dryer because that's the industrial-strength outlet, but it's temporary and I don't need it for a few days.

I have not mentioned, have I, that there's a smallish hole in the kitchen floor? Where one of the brawny young men put a foot through? And another, entirely separate water leak that must be dealt with? Leak fixage is covered. Damage is not. Since I am well past Stress Max and into What The Ever-Living HELL, I am la-la-la-ing that one for the time being.

The aminals are handling it much better than I am. Some confusion, but mostly keeping chill.

I am trying to focus on the bright side. Ancient, barely functional bathroom with broken faucets and hole where the toilet installation did not go well last time around is gone. I get a new bathroom, and part of a new bedroom, and part of a new dining room. Electrical wiring will get at least inspected, and one hopes fixed. Forced renovations: just lie back and think of walk-in showers.

But oh, I am tired. So very tired.

There are pictures here; scroll down a bit:

https://www.facebook.com/dancinghorse

I've set them public so everyone can see them.
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Published on May 03, 2015 14:01 • 236 views