The End Is Always Near, Version COVID-19

I found Dan Carlin’s The End Is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses in December 2019 at the book fair at my kids’ school, and I picked it up because of the great title and also because in my speculative historical novel characters live under constant fear of “the end of time.” What an opportunity, I thought, to revisit this aspect of history and make sure my world building was realistic, so I bought the book but didn’t get to it right away.

Continue reading

Extreme Vetting and Dreams Deferred—A Chapter from My Thriller

Before the times of COVID-19, all the way back to the beginning of January 2020, I finished my new novel, an immigration thriller called Extreme Vetting. The title comes from a catchword coined by our own salesman president, and it refers to the treatment of immigrants in the United Statesundocumented and documentedunder the current administration. “Extreme vetting” describes a rough and cruel time in the lives of millions, beginning with asylum seekers at the southern border and ending with Americans whose citizenship could be revoked on technicalities. As an example, if an immigrant now leaves a blank space on a visa application, such as a middle name they don’t have or an apartment number when they live in a house, their application will be rejected.

Continue reading

“Show, Don’t Tell” Doesn’t Always Work, Especially with the Coronavirus

The other day, I wrote a post here on my website about getting ready for the coronavirus tsunami to hit. It’s much closer now but the world still resembles the one I always knew, except that today the toy store in our neighborhood is closed, as are the interior decoration boutique, the hair salon, and the kitchen store. The restaurants are only permitted delivery and takeout, but the wonderful people at the grocery store and the pharmacy are still somehow getting to work each morning so that our neighborhood doesn’t collapse under generalized panic. We’ve already embraced smaller panics: the Tylenol panic, the hand-sanitizer and the toilet paper ones, among others. But this is the way it must be for now, because every time we get too close to another human being, we create a bridge that the virus can cross, in one direction or another.

Continue reading

Here We Go. Are We Prepared?

Here in Seattle, we’re embarking on a journey that not all of us might survive. A journey with no fixed timeframe and a destination that could only be called “back to normal,” before the times of COVID-19. Ten days ago, our local officials told us to prepare for the disruption of everyday life. I thought a lot about those words. The advice was to stock up on food, medicine, and other supplies. So my husband and I went to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the hardware store and bought stuff. Not too much, as not to look ridiculous to our neighbors (though who cares today how ridiculous we looked ten days ago?), then we went by our normal routines.

Continue reading

Author Interview: Karen Hugg’s The Forgetting Flower

Karen Hugg writes literary mysteries inspired by plants, and she blogs about her passion for gardening, traveling, and books at http://www.karenhugg.com. She’s a fellow MFA graduate of Goddard College and she lives in the Seattle area, where we sometimes meet for tea and a spirited conversation about books, published or not. Karen’s latest novel is The Forgetting Flower, a thriller with a unique premise: What if a flower’s scent could erase someone’s memory? Who would grow such a plant, who would harvest its flowers, who would buy them? And for what purpose? Karen’s stories usually feature plants that affect people in strange ways, but they always explore so much more about human nature.

Continue reading

And Then There Was Racism

A few weeks ago, I got into an email back-and-forth about racism with a male acquaintance who lives in Romania—I’ll call him Alex. We were in the middle of an otherwise pleasant conversation when he quoted the following saying, “You give a Gypsy a finger, and he takes the whole hand.”

It was one of those moments when you see something and you think, should I say something?

Continue reading

My Story of Sexual Assault

This is my story of sexual assault. It happened in my fourth year of college, in Bucharest, Romania. I remember some important details about that evening but not others. Such as the exact date. It could’ve been anywhere between October 1998 and March 1999. After it happened, I didn’t think to memorize that certain date so that each year on the day I could revisit this story. Continue reading

Author Interview: James Emerson Loyd’s The Great War Won Trilogy

It’s early 1918 and the Great War has exhausted all the parties involved: from the Western Front, where resources are scarce, to the Eastern Front, where Russia has been engulfed in a bloody revolution. Having prevailed in the east, Germany could now try to crush France and Britain before the United States might intervene, or it could declare victory and leave the war to its drained enemies. This is the premise of James Emerson Loyd’s fascinating trilogy of alternate history The Great War Won. A small group of German officers led by General von Treptow risks negotiating across enemy lines with the French and the British in an attempt to influence the leadership into seeking peace in Europe. As the titles of the first and second book suggest (Who Desires Peace… and …Should Prepare for War), the conspiracy fails, paving the way for the American intervention developed in Book Three (A Power of Recognized Superiority). Yet the groundwork has been laid for a different outcome than the one we’re familiar with. Continue reading