dear author

of the 3200-page fantasy epic I just finished rereading and quite enjoyed even while marvelling that it seems a kind of Ur-text for Diana Wynne Jones’s Tough Guide to Fantasyland and despite my frequent grumbles that you don’t need a strained “evocative” simile every. other. damned. paragraph and though I died a little with each comic-book !?,

I will pass over your struggles with transitive lay and intransitive lie. Evidence suggests you or your copyeditor were aware of the problem and you did get it correct roughly half the time.


In English the third-person personal pronouns (she, he, they…but not it, poor it), like the first person (I, we), retain case markings as the vast majority of nouns do not. If you are going to name numinous personages with pronoun phrases—She Who Must Be Obeyed, let’s say—those numinous pronouns really ought still to behave like pronouns.

That is, when in a sentence said numinous personage is the object of a verb or preposition She becomes Her, He becomes Him, They become Them. Simply substitute the pronoun alone for the entire name to see how, honestly, stupid it sounds when done wrong (i.e., how you did it): She asked He to deliver a thing to They.

No no no.

She Who Must Be Obeyed required Him Who Always Follows to convey a quest object to Them Who Stand in the Background.

And if one of your mortal characters addresses such a numinous personage directly, let’s say in prayer, for clarity’s, grace’s, and syntax’s sake third person really should become second: Oh, You Who Must Be Obeyed, hear my plea!

Also finally, although my unabridged assures me the battle was lost years ago and mutter living language mutter, I personally was for precious seconds thrown entirely out of your imagined world every time a character flaunted the rules rather than flouting them.

look here

My obscurely published 2012 story “Two Dead Men”—second written, first published of the Tales from the Kandadal’s World—has been reprinted online at Lightspeed magazine. The November issue is here, although not all the contents have gone live yet, or you may look into purchasing the entire issue or a subscription in various e-book format here.

Dear Writers,

I used to do this on Facebook but I’m not really using Facebook these days and if (when, in all frankitude) I return I expect my, uh, social strategies will have changed. So we’ll do this here and, in the future, you may use the category Dear Writers to retrieve all the lessons. That out […]

spring is here*

And with it my first published story in two years. Go. Read. (It’s free.) Then, if you missed it and if you like, there’s a bit of background on “The Garden of Sons and Husbands” here.** * Or so they say. I am not so sure. El-Niño-birthed weather patterns mean it’s been dismal in the […]

story news

I have not been talking about writing much but the fact is I’m doing it. Some. Now and again. And even finishing things…infrequently. Which is to say, so far this year three stories, two longish and one shortish. And a fourth I mean to complete before the New Year’s Eve submission deadline (get cracking, Jeffers!). […]

book news

Long ago at the beginning of time—in 1976, that is—the first piece of fiction I was ever paid money for appeared in print. If I remember correctly, that story paid for my first electric typewriter. I’d written it longhand in a prep-school spiral-bound notebook, then typed it up on a portable manual Hermès that might […]

farewell, lovely

RIP Miss Charlotte Brontë, July 2001 – November 2015. Her resting place in my sister’s rose garden, Roseburg, Oregon. Under this rose I acquired in the spring but never got into the ground—Milwaukee’s Calatrava.


Happy Revolt-Against-Your-Rightful-Monarch Day or whatever you call it. I have not had much to say these weeks, what with Misses Charlotte and Jane not venturing into the terrifying outdoor world for a while, thankfully. A little earthquake this morning, first I’ve noticed since returning to the west coast although not the first to occur: the […]

jane’s adventures

Envious, no doubt, of Miss Charlotte Brontë’s harrowing ordeal as reported in the previous post, Miss Jane Austen did her own thing last night. With my unwitting, careless, stupid aid. That is, I came in from a cigarette or something, washed a few dishes, then noticed Charlotte nosing at the deck door. Which moved. Even […]

unhappy homecoming…joyous reunion

I went away for a week. A road trip with my sister to the Monterey Peninsula of California. The occasion was the annual spring garden-party fundraiser for the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation, which maintains and preserves the house my grandfather built, where we grew up. We met up with our elder brother, who keeps […]