Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Life gets in the way. The last couple of years I have been trying really hard to finish the first chapter of my book. It always felt like things kept getting in the way. I can finally say I think I am in the home stretch. This morning I finished the final section of chapter one. Now for a little editing, and review by my editor then it is on to the synopsis. My goal is to have a decent copy for our next writers group that i missed this month. Wish me luck.

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I Have Cover Art

Cover art for Warrior Wisewoman III is here!


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Good News

I have some good news to share: my science fiction short story, “The Truth One Sees” will be published in the Warrior Wisewoman III anthology, due out in June.  I had a lot of fun with this story, which is my only work of science fiction to date.  I’m looking forward to seeing what people think of it.

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I wrote an article on parapsychology for a local newsletter and someone else (Gothic romanc writers?) picked it up for a reprint, so I thought the Genre Benders might be interested, too. Enjoy…

Parapsychological phenomena fall into two categories, Psi-gamma (cognitive) and Psi-kappa (active). Both were the subject of significant scientific scrutiny in the 1970s, but almost all parapsychology laboratories were shut down before 2000. Apparently ghosts and mediums are currently in fashion. Go figure.

Cognitive Forms

Telepathy is mind reading, the ability to tell what someone is thinking. It’s not all that difficult to fake with a working knowledge of psychology and a subject who isn’t crazy—people tend to think about the same things and body language can be highly informative.

Precognition is the prophet’s talent, knowing what is going to happen in the future. Prophetic dreams are considered forms of precognition—but memory of dreams tends to be selective. I once dreamed that Sting, the rock star, was chasing me around a convenience store, trying to kill me. It wasn’t precognitive, although it was memorable.

Clairvoyance is knowledge gained without communication. The two most interesting forms are psychometry and remote viewing. Psychometry is the ability to glean information from objects—get a piece of the kidnap victim’s clothing and a psychometrist can tell where said victim is being held.

Remote viewing is the ability to see a location without being there. I hate remote viewing, because it’s so very easy to fake by cold reading. I see a grassy area….near a parking lot next to a building…with a stream. Or a ditch. Maybe with a bridge. Yeah. Right.

Are any of these actually possible? Take telepathy, for example. All living humans have electromagnetic fields created by their brains and bodies; someone might have a particular sensitivity to those kinds of fields and be able to decipher thought patterns from particular EM field patterns, sort of like an inner EEG interpreter. But it would be overpowered by the nearest light bulb.

For the rest, you need to go into quantum mechanics and probability fields, and I can’t format for the math here. Let’s just say that sorting the quantum probabilities of a future event or a remote location would take a super-savant. And it would most likely drive him or her crazy.

The Active Forms

The active forms of psychic phenomena all fall under the category telekinesis.

Psychokinesis, the ability to move things with the mind, has been studied by many parapsychologists because results are unambiguous: the object either moved or it didn’t. However, I haven’t been able to find any record of telekinesis performed in a controlled environment. Somehow, people just can’t reproduce it in the lab, using the scientists’ equipment.

I would say psychokinesis is a lot of hooey, except for one thing: my husband.

He’s a gamer who can make dice—mostly 20-sided dice—bow to his will on a regular basis. If he needs to roll a high number, he almost never rolls something less than 15. Conversely, if he needs to roll a low number, it comes up less than 6 at least 70 percent of the time. Statistically, his results are highly improbable—yes, I’ve done the math. Probability math is a lot easier than quantum mechanics math.

I can use the same dice he does without being able to replicate his results, so it’s not the dice. He can replicate it with different dice, though. And he refuses to be scientifically tested—or to go play craps in Vegas. Sigh. If I hadn’t seen him do this with my own eyes, for years, I wouldn’t believe it.

Pyrokinesis is the ability to control fire using only the mind, which was popularized or possibly coined by Stephen King in the novel/movie Firestarter.

Other forms include psychokinetic explosions (possibly a form of pyrokinesis); thermokinesis, or temperature manipulation; magnokinesis (including computer information); aerokinesis; and mind control. There might be other subdivisions, but I haven’t found any scientific explorations of these, let alone anything more esoteric. Most of these subtypes came from comic books.

Scientifically, well, it’s theoretically possible. Matter and energy are different forms of the same stuff; that’s why e = Mc-squared. We routinely use matter to manipulate energy, every time we flip a power switch. Maglev trains use energy to manipulate matter by raising the train cars off the rail. So a human energy field might be able to affect matter—but, as with telepathy, the electromagnetic field of the nearest light bulb would flood out the human signal.

Hey, even my spooky husband has to be touching dice to make them behave strangely.

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Boise Novel Orchard

Boise Novel Orchard is sponsoring a contest! With prizes! For North-West writers and artists!
What do you need to do to win? First, you need to enter. To enter, you’ll need to write something using the theme “bridges.” Fiction and non-fiction should be between 3,000 and 5,000 words, poetry no more than 22 lines. We’re looking for black and white cover art too! There’s a $10 entry fee, with one entry per person.

What are we offering up? Winners will be published in a chapbook, due to be released in May. There’s also a cash prize. Entries are due no later than March 20, 2010.

There are more details here, on the website.

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I’m just getting back to normalcy, so I’m almost ready to start talking about it.

First rule of VP, what happens at VP stays at VP. It’s just like Vegas, but without the strippers. Or at least I didn’t see any strippers, I was working a lot. I did get to see jellyfish though. Glowing jellyfish to boot.

So first thing is the emotional issues. When I received my acceptance notice nobody was more surprised than I was. This started the roller-coaster. One moment up, the “damn I’m good” feeling, and the next down, “I’m not worthy.” Although I should say, it was more up than down. Then at the end of August I started to try and think of questions I should ask. I went over the materials online to strategize how the workshop would go, and trying to map a successful strategy. And, I’ll add here that this attempt was full of fail. Nothing came to mind. The page remained blank.

I was very glad of the flight deals I scored. It reduced my money worries by being able to fly all three of us there for the cost I expected for one of us. Then the offer of a ride from Todd not only gave me the opportunity to meet him, but also pushed down the costs to the point I wasn’t hyperventilating whenever I thought about it.

For the month before VP I tried to get enough sleep, however that didn’t work. Between issues at the day thing and the fun-fest of the night job that didn’t happen. Mix in my own apprehensiveness of making the most out of the situation and it was a brew of incomplete sleep cycles. So instead of getting to VP rested and ready, I arrived exhausted and spent.

When I’m fully rested I can go days at a time with very little sleep. While at VP I got about 5 hours of mostly blackout time a night and I downed as much caffeine as I could. There was an early morning walk I wanted to participate in, but I woke to late to go. When I arrived on the island I should have probably slept as long as I could on Sunday, but that was going to be the only day I felt I would have a chance to see the island, so I didn’t sleep in.

From then on it was work work work. I’m a slow reader (especially when I am being critical). I’m not the slowest I’ve ever encountered, but I’m not near the fastest by any measure. Neither am I the fastest writer, so the work load put me seriously behind and I would stay up until I couldn’t see straight. It was only on the last few days that I could socialize at night. That added to my stress that I was missing something important (and I probably was).

When we left I was very near the breakdown limit. That’s the point that I know that I need serious sleep time and by myself time. So I wasn’t up to my usual level of alertness on the way home.

The final emotional thing is happening now. Several of my fellow VPXIIIers (the Fightin’ 13th) have talked about what a transformative experience it was. How they’re newly remade and fired up. I’m not feeling it, at least not yet. Although the week was mostly a blur (and reviewing my notes to find a link for a fellow Fightin’ 13ther, I saw many things that I remember I was there for, but there’s a haze between me and the full memory). So maybe when I get a chance to review all my notes I’ll get the full effect. I think, though, that the experience I brought into the workshop blunted a little of the “epiphany” moment. I’ve been critiqued by professionals before (although I would have been willing to pay more for more time with Teresa), I’ve met professional writers and have studied their habits, I wasn’t the student the farthest along the writer path (if there is a path) (and we were all writers at the workshop) but I also have some success. Am I different? Yes, I think so. I have more confidence, my research is slightly more focused, and some other little things, but I don’t feel transformed. More like that extra quarter twist of the wrench on a nut you’re setting.

So for not feeling transformed I’m feeling guilty and a little confused. Did I miss something? Was I half asleep at the wrong moment? I’m still not feeling all here so is the transformative moment a comin’? WIll it happen when I process it all? Was I so blasted for lack of sleep that I missed my opportunity? Or was this a jump start for some people and what they’ve experienced I already had made it through, or see, or felt? I don’t know. The guilt comes in from spending all that money and time and maybe taking the spot of someone who could have used the workshop more. Confused from thinking I’m missing something, when I’m normally quicker on the uptake.

One thing that did happen is that I drank way too much pop. I tried to keep with tea. Most times though I only had a moment so I grabbed a pop instead. When I weighed myself I was up 9 pounds (now some of that might by the natural 2lb variance, but still). I’m now down about 4lbs from that.

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This Needs a Title

Writerly to-do list:

1. Critique five manuscripts for the RWA On the Far Side contest, official deadline October 9 (personal deadline October 1).

2. Write the distillation lecture for MITG/PFAI  inaugural online class Practical Chemistry for Writers, which starts Oct. 1.

3. Finish reading Who Dares Wins before Nov. 15 Warrior Writers Workshop w/Bob Mayer.

4. Create Yahoo/Google group for people who want updates for PFAI/MITG online classes.

5. E-mail Blane, the Partners In Crime intern, regarding chat software.

6. Talk Ken McConnell and Angie Abderhalden into doing an online chat/panel for a couple of hours one evening next spring all about non-traditional publishing. (Note: Discuss chat software with Blane *first*).

7. E-mail Aaron Patterson, who has been trying to get in touch with me.

8. Finish opening of “hot fairy tale” novella for critique group meeting on Sept. 27. Samhain anthology deadline Feb. 10.

9. Finish chapter of WIP for critique group meeting on Sept. 27.

10. Increase personal blog posts to 2x per week now that there are people actually reading it.

11. Keep telling myself, “I’m not as busy as other people are. I’m not as busy as other people are.”

What is it about September? I’m always running around like a squirrel on espresso in September.

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Blade’s Edge

Local Boise author, and all around awesome person, Valerie Robertson’s debut novel is out today in ebook format. Blade’s Edge from Samhain Publishing is ready for purchasing. I’ve got my copy, do you have yours? Actually, I think this may be my first ebook, and romance novel. Go me.


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I’m teaching Practical Chemistry for Writers as the first Murder in the Grove online class. This is a reprise of the class I taught through RWA KOD’s COFFIN program last year (with a couple of easter eggs they didn’t get). It’s also probably the last time I’ll teach this class for the foreseeable future.

Practical Chemistry will cover:
* Poison 101 – the basics
* Poison 102 – overview of alkaloids
* Meanwhile Back at the Lab – how we handled things in my lab
* Herbal Medicine that Really Works
* Suburban Terrorism – what HSA won’t tell you
* Love Potion #1 – neurochemistry of attraction, infatuation & attachment
* Soapmaking
* Distillation (making good brandy out of bad wine)

You can find more information (or sign up for the class, hint hint) at http://www.murderinthegrove.com

Feel free to forward this information wherever you think it might be useful or welcome.

Val Robertson

Blade’s Edge – on sale Sept 8, 2009 at Samhain

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Well, it’s official, my editor has resigned her position to move to a new publisher, three weeks before my debut novel’s publication date: http://quartetpress.com/

Either I’ve been deserted like a bride at the altar, or I’m developing an industry network across multiple publishers in preparation for launching a powerhouse career in the next big genre.


Either way, what happens with the next manuscript I submit is going to be interesting and I plan to enjoy the ride.

Have fun, write a lot. I know I’m going to.

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