The Fine and Elusive Art of Not-a-Carpet

Everyone knows that part of being an adult is the art of compromise. That there’s no “I” in “team.” Great things happen when we all work together. After all, they teach us that stuff in kindergarten–pick up, pick up, everybody do your share–and it’s reinforced throughout our lives. “Take one for the team” and all that.

But there’s another part of growing up that we don’t often hear about. The art of not being a rug. To me, it’s a harder lesson to learn. At work, in our friendships, no one wants to be the high-maintenance person. No one wants to be the selfish one. We can’t all agree on everything–there has to be give and take. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.

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His Faithful Squire

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Sequel to Knight Errant

Former joy-boy Rafe Ballard will miss living on the freighter Pendragon’s Dream. Under the watchful eye of Captain Eve Marcori, Marine veteran, no one beat him. He ate well, his life was rarely in danger, and—most important by far—he spent much of his days and all the glorious nights with his beloved Taro. Unfortunately, energetic Taro wants to take on the galaxy without his sister the captain standing by, and Rafe won’t …

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The Rosy Glow Imparted by Long Ago

The first time I went camping, my dad had acquired a huge tent meant to sleep a legion, and we were dragged off to spend Memorial Day weekend living in it.

I complained, whined, and muttered, and I took a stack of books a foot high.

Now, understand–I grew up on a farm. I’d slept in the backyard in a sleeping bag. I’d slept in the barn in a sleeping bag. I’d slept on horses’ backs (sans sleeping bag) and in trees (also without the sleeping bag. That’s just asking for trouble.) Any time I wanted to eat fire-cooked food, I’d pester my dad into a weinie-roast. (I was twelve. Stop laughing.) So I really didn’t see the point in this camping thing.

It was as miserable as I’d feared. It rained the whole weekend, one of those long, slow, soaking Pennsylvania rains. We were all–my dad, my brothers, my dad’s girlfriend, her kids–stuck in that huge flipping tent that really wasn’t big enough to hold us all day and night for three days.

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Multi-Tasking and Time Travel

I forgot I was blogging at Turtleduck Press today.

Part of that is the long weekend (Memorial Day here in the U.S.) and the end of the school year. Both together have thrown off my sense of time.

Part of it is how I just can’t seem to keep numbers straight in my head. One month I was absolutely certain I was to blog on the 28th and my fellow Turtleduckers had to hold me back. Nearing our fifth wedding anniversary, I argued the exact date with my husband for an hour, till I went and got our marriage certificate and found that we were both wrong.

The biggest part, though, is that my brain was elsewhere. I’m working on a final before-approvals edit of His Faithful Squire (coming August 1st; I’m so excited!), the sort-of sequel to Knight Errant, so I’ve been spending a lot of time on a luxury cruise ship in deep space far in the future. I’m also working on an excerpt from a book that took place when Taro was twelve, to post as our July free fiction offering. That book was written some fifteen years ago and the excerpt requires a lot of work and some time spent on a planet embroiled in civil war. Also, I’m writing a short story (growing into a novella, sigh) for a group challenge on Goodreads. The story is quite a stretch for me—it’s …

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Lines Are For the Restroom

I’ve always preferred to color outside the lines. No matter how awesome the box, I’m not good at staying inside it. I can’t march to anyone else’s drum. (Can’t really march at all, but anyway.) Perhaps it’s no surprise I’m awful at cramming my writing into a genre.

As a reader, I find genre highly useful. I know what I’m getting when I grab a space opera, a military SF, a cozy mystery, a Big Fat Fantasy. I want some surprises, of course, but I also want to know what I’m getting into. That what I’m picking up is the sort of book I’m going to enjoy.

That’s as a reader. As a writer…I have a serious genre-problem. I can’t help it—I like to cross lines. At the Alamo, I’d have been doomed for certain.

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Without Wings

This chapbook of poetry explores the dark side of love — what happens after the happily ever after. It is Erin Zarro’s second poetry chapbook from Turtleduck Press, following the release of Life as a Moving Target in December 2010.

Click here for a poem from the chapbook.

Buy the book from Amazon here, or the ebook for Kindle (software is free) here.

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Hey, Mister, Got a Fact?


I have a problem.

No, I mean…I have a Problem. A big problem. An I-need-a-12-step-program problem, only I wouldn’t go because I don’t want to recover. It’s fun. I like it.

You see…I want to know everything. Ever.

Oh, not gossip, or basketball scores, or how many hairs are on my arm–I want to know all the cool stuff.

All of it.

Did you know there are no rivers in the northern half of the Yucatán peninsula? The whole thing is karst! Local people access fresh water from the cenotes.

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The Spark That Lit Up a Universe

One of the (many) weird things I’ve discovered about being a writer is the way something sparks an idea in my mind and it grows in ways I could never have expected. Even the things I know will touch me don’t always have a predictable effect. Take the musical Les Miserables, for example, and the Dream’verse.

Some twenty years ago I saw a touring production of Les Mis. It blew me away. I spent the rest of the weekend in a music-filled haze, playing over and over my Original Broadway Cast Recording Double-Length Cassette that I’d begged/borrowed money to buy.

Before that fateful weekend I’d poked at writing. Like many beginners, I had story starts in many sizes and genres, begun on a surge of inspiration and abandoned when the glow faded. Maybe the ideas weren’t fully-formed, the characters flat, the spark not strong enough…who knows. All I knew was that I had a lot of failed stories that I’d cared about once, that I wanted to care about again. The last thing I needed was another false start, but Les Mis took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I had to do something with it, even if it turned to cold cinders like the others. Resistance, as the Borg will have it, was futile. I had to try. (Though Yoda and my character Eve Marcori would remind me there is no try.)

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Dreams Can Come True

I’m no pretty-handwriting-in-a-pretty-journal-while-sipping-tea writer.* I like coffee in big mugs that make a statement on the side, and I use 70-sheet, one-subject, twenty-notebooks-for-a-dollar spiral-bound notebooks. And I eat pretty stationery for breakfast. (Okay, not really.)

Christmas 2005, an acquaintance gave me a lovely journal. It had an iris on the cover, and music notes, and gold writing. It wasn’t my thing, but it was too pretty to give away. So when I felt the need to do something different, that journal was near at hand.

On 1/15/06 I wrote inside the front cover the date and the title: Dreams to Truth Journal (Yes, I felt the need to write that it was a journal.) Below that, I wrote Because I am an excellent writer and I deserve to be published.

I needed to say that, to tell myself that. I felt stagnant. Stuck. Another vacation had slipped by without my accomplishing anything I meant to do. I needed accountability. I needed to write it down. The goal was some progress recorded every day. Every single day–I felt I’d waited long enough to get my butt moving.

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Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot?


KD SargeKnight Errant is available for sale. Wow. It’s hard to believe.

Taro has been with me a long time, you see. More than…wow. More than fifteen years. He first appeared under a different name and far more bland aspect, in the book about his sister Eve Marcori, former Marine. It wasn’t until years later that he came alive.

Oh, I tried. I changed his name. I invented a background for him, more than just “Eve’s long-lost adopted little brother.” I investigated his family, and the years between Eve losing and finding him. I changed his name again. I said he was sneaky and mouthy, but I couldn’t seem to make him be either. So I followed time-honored avoidance techniques, and I moved on. He didn’t matter that much anyway. Minor character. No big. I finished the book. Over years, I edited the book. In my new novelist happy shiny glow, I sent that book off to DAW–all 249,000 words of it.

Guess what happened. It took them a week–and some of that was transit time.

I got angry. I got determined. I got to writing.

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