January 3, 2008


I am a writer. Mostly I write fantasy: wizards, dragons, enchanted swords, retold fairy tales and, er, vampires. Mostly my stories feature Women Who Do Things, as opposed to women who sit around waiting to be rescued by guys, or who aren’t in the story at all because the story is conspicuously about not sitting around. Most of my stories are so-called High Fantasy, laid in various la-la-la never-never lands, although I’ve written a few that are happening somewhere similar to this world with additional bugs/features, and I like being able to say I also write Low Fantasy. Mwa ha ha ha ha ha.

Mostly I write novels. Occasionally I write short stories, but this is dangerous territory, because more than half my novels started as short stories.

I also write this blog. I don’t know what that counts as, but by the muses and my grey hair, it counts as something.

The first seven months of this blog are over on Livejournal.

I have a Web site where I rave and gibber and tell stories about various things.

Wedding photoI’m an American, but I live in Hampshire, in the south of England . . .
. . . because I am married to the English writer Peter Dickinson. [Peter’s web site]
I live here because one of us had to move, and he’s lived in this area of Hampshire most of his life and I’m a grown-up US Navy brat. So I said, right, that’ll be me then. I’ve now lived here longer than I ever lived anywhere in America, and while I still sound as American as I did when I stepped off the plane wearing my engagement ring, this is home.

Hampshire CountrysideHampshire CountrysideHampshire Countryside

I am owned by two hellhounds, Chaos and Darkness. I brought them home in October 2006. They are adorable. Fortunately. And before anyone else helpfully points out that I created my own monsters by calling them Chaos and Darkness, they earned those names. These aren’t the names they answer to, they’re the names I use when I want to talk about them without them trying to figure out what I want. They take me for two hour walks every day come rain, shine, hail, and tornado, frequently simultaneously. I wash a lot of jeans and dog towels.


October 2006 – This is the day I brought them home. They were eight weeks old and small Visigoths in furry disguise but with the loot and rampage attitude intact. They were both frantic and fascinated by this utterly new experience of my house and garden . . . and then they wouldn’t come back indoors. Eventually having blazed trails through everything that wasn’t nailed down they climbed into my little herb-garden sink and went to sleep. Which was a little hard on the herbs. The puppies smelled very sweetly of sage and rosemary after however. But this was also when I realised I was going to have to put a fence up, yes, even in a garden that is already the size of tablecloth. More hellhounds.

Most of the things I do, write, read, walk hellhounds, garden, cook, play the piano, don’t need a lot of specialist explanation. Here are a few links for two of my less mainstream pursuits:


What is homeopathy?

If you want to try a little homeopathic first aid:

And a few practical words about experimenting responsibly:
What I feel should be emphasised is that both the nux vomica and the chamomilla worked . . . the problem is that the person went on taking (or giving) the pills. There are exceptions, but certainly for the sort of prescribing any lay person is doing, you take one or a few pills and stop. If they worked, they worked. If they haven’t worked by the time you’ve had several . . . it’s the wrong remedy. So you stop anyway, and try something else, or maybe it’s time for a professional homeopath.

And about ‘antidoting’:
This is probably getting in deeper than you need right away, but if any of you do decide to experiment you are going to run up against the concept of antidoting pretty quickly. Can a homeopathic remedy be ‘antidoted’? Yes. But it’s comparatively difficult to do, not comparatively easy. Generally speaking if you’ve found the right remedy, it’ll get through and do its job. This is particularly important to remember in a genuine emergency situation. If someone is bleeding, give them arnica, now, and never mind the clean mouth. And if you have to handle the pills with your own hands—another major taboo—to give them at all, then do that. I’ve been in this situation and I can swear to you, feelingly, that the pills still work.

One other point to make about emergencies:
Aconite is the basic standard shock-panic-fear remedy. If you’re in a situation when you need to give it, take one yourself too. Fear, and brain paralysis, are contagious.

Good place-to-start books:
Miranda Castro, The Complete Homeopathy Handbook
Dr Andrew Lockie has several basic books about homeopathy out; have a virtual look
Dana Ullman also has several out; have a look through
Although their search engine has a strange idea of ‘introductory’ books, you can click on each for more useful info. The Margaret Roy is also good.

And you can probably find anything you want to know about homeopathy somewhere here:

Change ringing

As a Hampshire ringer, I come under this jurisdiction:
Their page on what change ringing is:
This is our geek weekly:
Wikipedia of course has a view:
And the North Americans have a very nice explanation too:
You can hear some ringing here:
But most of these bands are very high fliers, both in numbers of bells and complexity of methods. Most of us will never get that far.

There are a lot of audio-videos of bell ringing out there but a lot of them don’t run. These run for me:

Never mind the fuzzy focus, this gives you an excellent quick jolt of what bell ringers actually do. This is what it looks like. Except you’re usually standing in some kind of a circle. This presumably is the front six of a bigger circle of bells.
You regular readers, please note the height of the ceiling. This is why you need to let go fast if you break a stay.
The superb quality of this ringing is . . . I can’t decide if it’s inspirational or demoralising. Both probably.

I also change ring on handbells (I do not ring tunes), with a bell in each hand:

I also have ME. I don’t much want to talk about it, but it keeps getting in the way. You can read about what it is, or anyway what they think it might be, and some of what putting up with it’s like, here:


But please remember that I am not my illness and I certainly don’t consider myself disabled. Mine is more or less under control, most of the time, and my individual sorcery for keeping it that way is a mixture of homeopathy, Bowen method massage, and a lot of vitamin and mineral supplements.

Here are links about Bowen therapy:


My FAQ is mostly already on my web site.
As is my email address
But please read the warning. I get emails every week from people who haven’t.

Whippets and poppiesI confess sheepishly that there are bits of the FAQ (and the web site) that are seriously out of date. Answers to stuff like Where do you get your ideas? are still true, but Peter and I have moved out of our big old house in the country and into three [sic] little houses in town. And our three whippets have gone to that big garden in the sky (with the heated dog bed and the permanent on-demand fresh chicken pieces) but they’re still very much alive in my mind and heart.