Monday, January 6, 2014

Every Writer Must Be A Reader . . . First!

I'm not really one of those people who make resolutions when a new year begins, but I think dusting away the cobwebs of the past year or two -- or even five -- is a good discipline. Especially now. You see, I've become a "woman of a certain age." That means my future no doubt involves a shorter distance ahead from the one I've already traveled. Or at least I hope so. As much as I enjoy doing my first sit-up just following waking in the morning, I don't want to ever be some pea-drooling, aging Jabba the Hutt occupying a corner in one of my daughters' homes. We're all born to die, but just as for me it's always been more about the journey than the destination, I'm more interested in forging ahead to the next sentence/paragraph/chapter in my life's book.

See? It always comes around to that, doesn't it? Reading!

I was born to read. Actually, my mother (God rest her soul) would correct me if she read this. She used to tell me I was born to tell stories. Hence, the large easel set up for me in our kitchen in the little cottage where we lived then on my grandparents' land. I would "tell" her my dreams in slashes of green and red and blue, splashed on paper after paper with my fingers humming, busy as buzzing bees.

Then it was onto hiding under my parents' bed during the day and reading my brother's comics. Superman galore, only I had this thing for Aquaman and his long blonde locks and rock hard muscles.

Later, my family moved to a small river town in Indiana where the local library was never more than a few blocks away, no matter which house we lived in (and we played musical chairs with the rentals). The library was my not just my world. It was the W H O L E  W I D E  W O R L D!

I read. I write. I can't really explain why I am driven to do either, except to say: I can't not.

To my way of thinking, we all have six senses: see, hear, touch, smell, taste, and imagine.

A couple of years ago I discovered I had read far too few women authors, so I went about to deliberately correct that. Last year, I decided to read whatever I wanted rather than those works I should. (Since I do editing jobs on the side, and I am an easy touch to read works by young writers, I do tend to read for other than "pleasure.")

In 2013, I read 54 books. I admit I did not finish them all, but I did give each book I began an honest chance by not pitching it across the room or vomiting on it until after the first hundred pages.

I began the year inside Elizabeth Chadwick's To Defy a King and padded out with Tony Earley's short story collection Here We Are in Paradise. 'Twas a grand beginning and an amazing end. In between I savored quite a few works by authors I had never even knew of, and that's exciting! I also reread a few friends. Here are my highlights from 2013 (not in order of preference):

 1. A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
 2. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
 3. Benjamin Franklin's Bastard by Sally Cabot
 4. Z by Therese Anne Fowler
 5. Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
 6. Jim the Boy by Tony Earley (also The Blue Star)
 7. The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen (also The Boleyn Deceit)
 8. The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls
 9. The Color Master by Aimee Bender
10. Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge
11. No Regrets Coyote by John Dufresne
12. Restoration by Rose Tremain (also Merivel and Music and Silence)
13. One Day by David Nichols (also A Question of Attraction)
14. Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen
15. Shadow of the Alchemist by Jeri Westerson (in fact ALL the Crispin Guest novels!)
16. The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell
17. The Nell Sweeney Mysteries (6 books) by P.B. Ryan (this was my third time reading this series!)
18. The Widow's War, Bound, and  The Rebellion of Jane Clarke (3 books) by Sally Gunning
19. The Queen's Man by Sharon Kay Penman (in fact all four in the Justin de Quincy series!)
20. Run Wild and After Sundown by Shelly Thacker

Onto 2014!

While I await the January 28, 2014 release of Wiley Cash's This Dark Road to Mercy, I am reading both Heretics and Heroes by Thomas Cahill and Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio.

Perhaps this is the year of nonfiction and classic fiction. Who knows? That's the exciting part.

As for my writing . . .  Ultan's Library has just posted an interview with me concerning my story, "Tunes From Limbo, But I Digress," at their site. It was published in Shadows of the New Sun, a Gene Wolfe tribute anthology.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


There are some days you anticipate more than others: the first date, graduation, weddings, births, visits. And some come happily, but with a shadow attached.

Yet let's allow the good news to stretch its arms wide and own this moment of bliss. A book has been published! Its words now live,ready and anxious to be coddled and stroked and savored by some welcoming reader.

This book:

Today marks the release of Shadows of the New Sun, an anthology that honors Master Storyteller Gene Wolfe. While Wolfe himself has two stories inside the pages, sixteen other authors offer tributes in the form of dancing and marching and even floating through many of the worlds created by Gene in his numerous books.

The authors include Neil Gaiman, David Brin, Nancy Kress, Timothy Zahn, Jack Dann, Joe Haldeman, Michael Swanwick, Jody Lynn Nye, Steven Saville, David Drake, Michael Stackpole, William C. Dietz, Marc Aramini, Aaron Allston, Todd McCaffrey, Micke Resnick and Barry Malzberg, and one Judi Rohrig.


My story, "Tunes from Limbo, But I Digress" began with just the title. It came into my head several years ago, but, despite several attempts, I was never able to toss it out on the mat and tease out the story it deserved.

I didn't know it was waiting in the shadows for this very anthology.

But which Wolfe world?

My favorite Wolfe book, I've found, generally seems to be whatever I'm currently reading. (And no true Wolfe reader ever reads one just once or something might get missed or misunderstood or run and tuck itself in your pocket.) But while I hadn't just finished Home Fires, it was the very story that tugged at my title.

And the shadows moved as they often do when clouds smudge the moonlight through leafy trees.

But science fiction? Science Fiction?

And so the shadows began to spin and weave. A dash of names. Quick, catch them! Threeve.

Three Eve

Threeve: a number between three and five, but not four. But four, yes. Halves and wholes.

And the Man in the Moon, sighed The Raggedy Man,
Sullonesome, you know,
Up there by hisse’f sence creation began!

But I digress . . .

Me with Gene and Rosemary Wolfe

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Brake for Coffee!

I used to be a newspaper columnist, penning something called "Coffee Break." Appearing in the Lifestyle or Family section of the Evansville (IN) Courier (now the Courier & Press), the column covered daily life in our river city. That meant I wrote about my family: husband (a reporter for the same newspaper) and our two daughters who I tagged Teen Sweetie and Bugs. Luckily my husband and I had spaced our pair almost ten years apart which allowed me to cover two age groups in one fell swoop. 

In considering what I should do with my blog these days and stumbling across the stack of old columns and currently dealing with my empty nest, I've decided to share a few of what became "favorites" here. Maybe we'll all learn something from the past together.

(originally published August 28, 1999)

One of the blessings of having children is that they let you relive your own childhood.

I grew up in a family with two girls, and I was the oldest of the two. Maybe that's why I tend to be more understanding about the elder daughter, and why I let her torture her sister. Oh, it's not physical pummelings or anything like that, just . . .

"So what position are playing in soccer?" Teen Sweetie asked her eight-year-old sister, Bugs.


"Yeah. What position?"

"I don't know. We're just practicing so far," Bugs said. "What positions are there?"

"Well, you could be a goalie. Nah, porbably you're too little for that."

Bugs stamped her foot. "I'm not too little!"

"No, I mean you're too short," Teen Sweetie said. "It's just for your team, I figured they'd make you high goalie."

"High goalie? What's that?"

"Well, for kids as little as you are--"

"Grrr . . . "

"-- third or fourth graders, I mean, they have to have two goalies."

"They do?"

"Sure. And you'd be perfect for high goalie."

Bugs smiled proudly.

"But you have to be able to hang up there that long, that's the only thing."

The little one's smile drooped. "What do you mean?"

"Well, the high goalie hangs from the goal post and stops any balls from entering up there."

There was a long moment as Bugs thought about this one. "You mean I'd have to hang upside down?"

Teen Sweetie nodded, but kept an incredibly straight face. It made me proud and scared at the same time.

"But the ball will hit me."

"Well, sure, but you always get hit with balls in soccer."

"But it will hit my face."

"A few bruises . . . That's soccer. I got bruised a lot. Right, Mom?"

Oh, oh.

"Mom," I heard the whiny tone. Yep, Bugs repeated everything her sister had just told her, ending with the familiar and dreaded words: "Is that the truth, Mom?"

"I never played soccer when I was a kid, but your sister did. I guess she knows." I told her, using my very best straight face. (I wonder if the older one ever questions where she gets that look from.)

Bugs played her first soccer game the other night. Her team won 5-1.

She played well, and she didn't even have to hang upside down once. But she surely did stay as far midfield as she could get, and I did see her eye the goalie a couple of times.

Later, the two of them will laugh about this. Just ask my sister.

Just don't ask her about warding off mice by putting peanut butter on your your toes.

(C) 1999 Judi Rohrig

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

NaNoWriMo Contest for First Time Authors!

All that work you did last November on your novel as you participated in the annual National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) head-banger may be about to pay off.

The very talented cover artist (and writer) Ravven has pulled together a group of people willing to give of our time and talent to see your manuscript get published.

Yes, this is a contest.

Yes, this is a contest for those who completed their goal and finished their book: Winners! (Because how would you publish an unfinished book?)

Yes, this is a contest for those headed for ebook publication.

But as writers soon discover, getting to "The End" is merely the beginning. Every work needs and deserves more eyes and ears and thoughts. The best and most experienced writers understand this best. Just as every experienced author understands the impact a truly great cover can have. Covers are what draw readers to your book. Even ebooks.

But this contest merely begins with the promise of a cover by Ravven.

The goodie pack also includes beta readers, and let me assure you, beta readers, even horrible ones, are tough to come by. Sometimes Mom and Dad and Aunt Cecelia would rather not offer their honest opinion even if they are avid readers. And I haven't even gotten to the swag of proofreading and editing.

And formatting!

So here's what the contest offers to the winner:

1. Beta reading
2. Copy editing and proofing
3.A professional cover
4.A Createspace print template
5. Interior formatting
6.Facebook and Twitter graphics
7. Marketing and Public Relations advice
8. A blog tour

Guidelines for submissions, contest specifics, and those who are participating may be found here: NaNoWriMo Contest.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Sunday, December 23:

It's Christmas.
But these are not the best of times.
Children are killing children at the same time they all should be standing wide-eyed with wonder and amazement at the glittering lights. And yet as I sit here at my keyboard I am wondering where a fluffy ball of yellow fur is tonight. Is he warm? Is he hungry? Has he gathered the wild cats of our neighborhood into a feisty gang?

His name is Milo, and he's our grandcat. He's lived with us for seven years now, but somehow he managed to slip out the front door the night before last and is gone. We miss him. We've searched for him, waited for him, left out food for him. And one of his toys. Tacked up posters.

But he's only a cat, and as much as I miss him, as much as my worries about his fate niggle me, distracting me from writing/baking/wrapping gifts, I am reminded/hoping/praying he may be alive somewhere.

Twenty-six innocent people are not.

Children and teachers who were simply going about their lives this time two weeks ago are dead. Their loved ones are in a hell I cannot image. I am simply yearning for the return of my grandcat, Milo. And yet I've found myself searching for some words to console me, to give me strength, to make me not doubt the world we live in, to make me want to be strong and to be part of the solution instead apathetic/indifferent/uncaring. Scared.

It's Christmas, you see. A time of hope. Not a game of thrones where winter is coming, but, yes, a game of thrones where spring could unfold/burst/emerge. Usually I look to poetry, snaggles of words I must consider/ponder/parse carefully like algebra.

And I found this: a poem of hope/inspiration/truth, written by a ten-year-old boy for a Florida grade school competition in 2001.

I hold in my hand
All the answers to all the questions
In the world.

The secrets of science,
Cures for diseases.
Even recipes for wonderful meals.

I hold the basis for languages, codes,
And all forms of communication.

In my hand I hold poetry, novels,
The potential for awesome plays,
And the script of a blockbuster movie.
In my hand is the very key to civilization,
The instrument that has built the world.
In my hand, I hold . . . a pen.

I have lifted this poem without permission from "Heroic Teaching in Troubled Times" by Les Standiford. Standiford's message was directed to educators following 9-11. I strongly suggest clicking on the link and reading the entire piece. It's uplifting, and we need that right now. I need that right now. National tragedies. Personal tragedies. Those of us left behind have to forge ahead and yet not forget

Standiford knows this all too well. That masterfully written poem was penned by his son, Alexander, who died in 2009. So young. What additional words/thoughts/truths he may have gifted us all with.

But it's Christmas. Peace on Earth. Goodwill to men. And women. And lost cats. 

And words yet to be written.

UPDATE on December 24: When I opened the front door at the same time of the morning I usually feed Milo on weekdays, there he stood, just off the porch where we had left an opened can of tuna. Milo is home!

Merry Christmas indeed!

Monday, October 15, 2012

All-American Horror!

A week or so ago, I posted that All-American Horror was set to be released. And while both Barnes & Noble and Amazon list the date as October 31, 2012, it is possible there may be a slight delay. But it is coming, and editor Mort Castle has finally ripped the sheet off, unveiling the TOC (Table of Contents).

So . . .
Drum roll, please . . .

1. The Station by Bentley Little
2. Sonny Wilson’s Last Show and Tell by Jeff Jacobson
3. Under The Skin by Nicholas Kaufmann
4. Mr. Handlebars by Mark Powers
5. The Pumpkin Man by John Everson
6. Wasted On The Young by Cody Goodfellow
7. Big Rock Candy Mountain by Weston Ochse
8. Driving The Last Spike by Brian Hodge
9. The Albright Sextuplets by Norman Prentiss
10. How Sweet It Was by Thomas F. Monteleone
11. Steagal’s Barber Shoppe and Smoke Emporium by Jay Bonansinga
12. Still Crazy After All These Years by Judi Rohrig
13. Night Dive by F. Paul Wilson
14. High Moon by Wayne Allen Sallee
15. Honor System by Jack Ketchum
16. The Secrets of the Living by Sarah Langan
17. Live Forever! by Sam Weller
18. The Bees by Dan Chaon
19. Rhymes With Jew by Paul G. Tremblay
20. Tracks Of a Hellhound by Tina L. Jens
21. Provenance by Andy Duncan
22. Recess by Darren O. Godfrey
23. A Circle of Friends by R. B. Payne
24. Turbulence by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
25. The Tree Mumblers by Pete Mesling
26. The Dude Who Collected Lovecraft by Tim Pratt and Nick Mamatas
27. Smoke In A Bottle by Steve Rasnic Tem
28. The Engine Of Desire by Livia Llewellyn
29. Moths In Damp Grass by Tracy Knight
30. They by David Morrell

I hope you took note of #12. Honored, I am. Honored and thrilled and delighted.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Digging In for the Long, Cold Winter!

Temperatures have dipped a bit, momentarily dashing my fears of global warming, but making me tingle in anticipation of several books I've been anxious to read. So, while I may not have a fireplace to stoke, I do have a comfortable place to cuddle up with a book. And tea. And hot water. And a soft throw for my lap since Milo, the grandcat, likes his own places to curl up.

Anyway . . .

Hitting the bookstore shelves officially today is Mary Sharratt's Illuminations.

Newly canonized (May 2012) and honored as one of the Doctors of the Church (October 1012) by the Catholic Church, Hildegard von Bingen was much more than a mere 12th Century nun. She was a composer, playwright, writer, visionary, and theologian. Mary Sharratt, a fine teller of historical tales, offers her story in Illuminations.

Also high on my list is Mike Mullin's Ashen Winter, a follow-up to last year's fine, fine book, Ashfall.

Following a supervolcano at Yellowstone National Park which devastates a good part of America as well as Alex Halprin's home, Alex and his friend Darla, who finally make it to Alex's uncle's place in Ashfall, decide to go back to search for Alex's parents. I'm looking for Mullin to once again weave a tale chocked full of action and adventure.

I'll share more later. The teapot is whistling!