A Little Off Topic …


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And yet, close to most author’s hearts – yes, we do have them, even those who kill off your favorite characters.

What is the biggest thing to get in the way of writing?  Life.  That’s what.  For the last couple of months, that’s my literal story and I’m sticking to it.  The truth is, I haven’t written very much since the big arrival of my latest Volcano Lady book.  I haven’t really blogged, outlined, scribbled, promoted … nada.  You may be tempted to say “no duh,” since finishing and releasing a book is stressful; I sure did.  But there’s more to it than that.  And, the good news is that in going through my life stress, I’m looking at redefining myself as an author, a creative-type, and a worker. This blog hits on the topic of paycheck earning and how not taking the obvious road can clear other paths for creativity.  (see how I did that?  Keeping on topic!)

Like many authors today, books don’t pay the bills.  They fulfill dreams and give us enormous pleasure, but when the rent is due, we dip into our employer filled wells instead of royalties.  If this is not you – you are able to make a living as a writer – I salute you.  For myself, this seemed like a loose / loose situation.  So I made one of those decisions you always see hyped in new age magazines or by PBS Insta-shrinks.  And with much humility, I must admit that their advice to let go of money in favor of benefits is right.

I have been working as a contractor through the worst of this economic “downturn” (I laugh at that simplistic reference as I watched my paychecks and savings diminish.)  As a contractor, I was in competition for a small number of contracts, paying less than market, and often reducing one to the status of “inconvenient but necessary, easily ignored servant.”  Not every employer treats their contractors as members of the gang.  We’re “resources” focused on saving someone money.  If that is not enough to send you fleeing from the staffing recruiters (don’t get me started on that over-sold bill of goods,) the notion that you are always on the hunt for a new job is enough to make one nutty. Isn’t looking for a job one of those high stress activities, like getting a divorce or a death in the family, that is routinely credited with heart attacks or strokes?  If you’re a contractor, this cycle never ends, even after you accept an assignment.  And you can forget being creative.

Last month, I went through interview after interview, always coming in second.  They liked me, really, and I have great skills, really, but there was this one candidate with more/we already know/we have no idea what we want so we’re not hiring yet.  One interview, for a fairly lower level position, had me meeting 4 SVPs over a 4.5 hour period.  It was grueling and I still didn’t get the job.  They already had someone else in mind.

Then came The Job: meh pay, full time, tough commute, industry I know nothing about.  I put off and put off because I wanted the cash flow.  I wanted more money, like I was being tempted with by the staffing recruiters.  But here is how things really compared – if, and I mean IF, I got a contract, it was always for short terms with reasonably okay pay.  No real benefits.  This place offered low but livable pay with amazing benefits.  As long as I kept my eye on the dollar sign, I was going to be stuck in the contract-job search – contract cycle.  And I could kiss off anything resembling a paid vacation.  Who can be creative in that PTSD-inducing environment?

So, I made a hard call and took the full time job with the meh pay and great benefits.  You know what: it was the best decision.  The long commute and pay thing – I’ll learn to deal.  It isn’t that bad – it won’t kill me – I can still be a responsible adult.  Real medical insurance, paid time off, flex hours, and 401K.  Good stuff, Maynard.  But wait, like a Ginsu knife, there’s more!  No more constant job search, great co-workers who laugh a lot, a team spirit that permeates the whole place, more exercise built into the commute, paid holidays, satisfaction, and yes, a lowering of my blood pressure.  My inner “we’re gunna die in a van parked by the river – homeless and forgotten!” voices have shut up.  Hey, this place even has free Peets coffee.  How do you put a price on that?

Has my writer’s block vanished … not quite yet.  I’ve only been on the job for a week and it requires a ton of learning, but already I’m hearing myself laugh, noticing I’m sleeping deeper, and generally allowing the toxic stress to float away.  I don’t burst into tears at 5am while faced with a dead-end contract and another day of job hunting.  I’ve had some good ideas pop into my head for Book Five, so yes, I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel – and this time, it isn’t the 4:10 to Yuma.

I promise to get back to writer-topics.  In the meantime, I hope this anecdote gives you something to either work with or to ignore. Whichever serves you best.  Sometimes the obvious answer (hold out for the money) isn’t the best answer (give up the stress and get back to writing.)  Whatever you chose for yourself, be sure to factor in the priceless nature of having your creativity flourishing.

Ciao kids!

Volcano Lady #4 is here!


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It is with great pleasure and joy I get to announce that the Volcano Lady #4: The Lidenbrock Manifesto is available for order.

You can get your copy one of three ways – hardcopy from Amazon, ebook copy from Kindle (Amazon VL#4 Link)

or …

You can come visit me at Clockwork Alchemy, Memorial Day Weekend, at the DoubleTree Inn by Hilton San Jose, CA.  I will be in the author’s alley all weekend long.  I promise a great convention rate on this and the whole set of Volcano Lady books – Plus an autograph if you would like one.

Author Notes:  Whew!  That was fun.  I have to tell you that this book really struggled to get out.  As is so common for any person creating something new, I found this project wanted to be written at its own speed and in its own way.  Yet, as a writer, I can’t just let the words and characters dictate to me – there must be structure, flow, consistency, and a satisfying conclusion to the journey.  I suspect it is a wrestling match for every author and artist.  Ultimately, I fought the good fight for you and for me, and I won.

I will confess that when I got home to find two huge boxes of books BLOCKING my door, I had no time or energy for being angry (really UPS?  How again did you expect me to get in?)  I was too elated to care: my babies had arrived!  And yes, I will also confess that I still get a little weepy when I hold that first, fully ready-to-go edition in my hands.  So, I shall leave it to you, dear friend, to picture a tired 9-to-5er arriving home and climbing over two waist-high boxes in a pencil skirt (pulled up as far as I dared) and kitten heel pumps.  OK – it was funny.  And, once I got the door open, I could pull them inside, out of the way.  I ripped the first box open and … and quietly let a tear escape in honor of the privilege of being a published author.

Yes, it is all quite silly, but really … if you write, you know what I mean.  And if not, I know you will find a good equivalent in your life.  So hurrah! for the sentimental.

I hope you will enjoy this latest volume of the Volcano Lady.  Thank you so much.

Fantastic Review! SeriousReading Magazine


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The Volcano Lady, Vol. 3: The Great Earthquake Machine, received a fabulous review from the new SeriousReading Magazine.  A 95% out of 100!  Five-Star!  I can’t tell you how wonderful this feels!!

Here are the links.  Not only did they review the Great Earthquake Machine, but they did a lovely interview with me (I confess I was nervous.)





A Little Taste of 30 Days


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As promised to many of you, here is a little snipit from the upcoming anthology, Thirty Days Later.  I have been privilaged to be included in this marvelous and, frankly, fun effort.  I’ll have to tell all about the meetings over tea, the big laughs, and the joyous sense of family behind this publication.  Profits from the sales of 30 Days is intended for literacy charities, such as the San Jose Public Library.  We love to read – we love to write!

So … let me know what you think.

30 Days later coverA Linear Mystery, or

How all this Madness Got Started!

T.E. MacArthur


The Nile River, South of Cairo

November 23rd, 1893

A lost codex found, a vast treasure recovered, and death by a ghostly Minotaur. What could possibly … 

The concept had been so intriguing that Miranda Grey hadn’t heard him coming.

What a stupid mistake.

“Do you really want to kill me?” The knife he held at her throat warranted the urgent question. Slowly she set down the pages of her meticulous notes. Her hand shook a little as she settled it on top of the Old Explorer’s journal, praying he wasn’t planning to take that from her.

He gently swept his lips up her ear and kissed her temple, scratching her skin slightly with his rough facial hair. “Not if I don’t have to.” Such a proper English voice.

The desert wind cut across the water and sent a shiver through the sails of the dahabeah as she waited to see what he’d do next. The NeshmetOsiris slid quietly against the river’s flow, counting on the breath of the g ods to get it up river. It was as cold as the time of year would permit, and in the blood-colored dusk, the river was strangely empty. No one was around to see  the two foreigners seated under the boat’s canopy.

“Tell me, Nefer, have you enjoyed my gift to you?”

The knife notwithstanding, Malcolm Drummond Davies was an appealing, wild looking rake, with a slight beard defining his jaw, a linen shirt he left partially open, and thick dark hair. Were she not aware of his history, she might have mistaken him for a local aristocrat, with his dusky appearance and flashing black eyes. But, no, Davies was very English. “Yes, as a matter of fact.”

“Tell me what you’ve discovered from the old man’s cryptic ramblings and I promise we will remain the best of friends.” The knife turned slightly, pushing the blade a little more into her skin without cutting it.

“Why not,” she said with remarkable calm, satisfying her self-esteem. Would he really harm her? What might Davies  do for untold wealth? “Do you know what a ‘Perigee-syzygy is?”

“The Moon at its closest to the earth. It appears enormous in the sky. Very romantic.”

Smart boy.

“Do you know, then, what happens if you have a Perigee-syzygy  at the Winter Solstice?”

“A very long, well-lit night,” he smiled slyly.

“And a Moon that appears even larger than ever.”

Davies kept nuzzling her ear. “Obviously important or you wouldn’t mention it.”

Taking a substantial risk, Grey cautiously pushed the knife away. Turning to him, she smiled. “It so happens that there had been such an event on the equivalent of December 23rd, 1424 BC, a year after the Mycenaean invasion of Crete. And again on the Winter Solstice in 1597 – when Sir Charles disappeared, but left this journal on board his ship.”

“Any chance we have such an event coming up soon?” Davies lowered his knife, but kept a tight grasp on it. “I gather strong moonlight is essential to find the location of the treasure? And we might just discover whatever happed to old Smythe and his codex.”

“The find of the century.”

He leaned in toward her. “Then come with me to Crete, Nefer, and we’ll find it together. I know where to look;  you understand the Old Explorer’s book.”

“I do wish you wouldn’t call me Nefer.”

“But you are the Beauty of the Gods .”

“Oh nonsense. What are we really looking for, Mr. Davies?”

“The Bull of Heaven and the Heart of the Sea.” He leaned back on the pillows, grinning.


“Allow me to explain …”

Timing, as the saying goes, is everything. The Ministry Agent, whom she did not like, and two of the boat’s crew mounted the stairs in three bold steps and leveled various guns at Davies. “Get away from her!”

Grey tried not to roll her eyes.

Bloody stupid

Davies took up the knife and placed it firmly again under Grey’s chin. “Don’t block my way. The lady and I are leaving.”

“No, Mr. Davies, we’re not.” Grey slid her left hand under his and pushed it away as she turned. Regrettably, while her knee did find its way between his legs, it did not strike with enough force. It did convince him to drop his knife.

Davies shoved her backward with both hands into the on-rushing men: simple, inelegant, effective. There was no escaping down the ladder – the dahabeah’s crew was in the way. Instead, he smiled, turned on his heel, and dove headlong into the river.

“Damn it!” she shouted, rushing to the rail and searching for Davies in the water.

“Such language, Madam. Let the crocodiles have him,” the Agent snapped. “Be grateful I arrived to rescue you.”

“You arrived to interrupt me. He was about to tell me what we don’t know: where to be on the 23rd of December.”

The Agent looked down at her. “I don’t care. He would have killed you.”

“No. He needs me to provide that which he doesn’t know yet. We have the Old Explorer’s book and he has the location along with additional clues.”

Signaling the crew that all would be well, the Agent folded his arms tightly across his chest. “I’ll have to go after him.” The man was a retired Army major, too set in his ways to be of any use to Grey. She still wondered just what the Ministry was thinking when they sent him to her. “Stay put and work on that book. You’ll be safer here . I’ll take care of Davies.” He picked up the delicate, old journal and dropped it back onto the table. “Thirty days. Can you do it?”

“Finish translating a rambling Elizabethan diary written in Latin, which may be a fake, and locate what Mr. Davies suggested is somewhere on Crete, so that we can discover the ultimate treasure? In thirty days? Perhaps we can.”

We, Madam Archaeologist?” he asked, pompously.

“Indeed. I’m afraid I’ll need to call in specialized assistance. You do understand, don’t you?” She didn’t wait to hear his protest. She quickly wrote out a note on the back of one of her papers, folded it, and handed it to the Agent. “Please send that urgently to London: to the Punjabi Club.”

It read very simply: Colonel – you are needed.

Thirty Days Later is Coming!

30 Days later coverDo you like steampunk and cliffhangers? Adventure and intrigue? Dragons and Sasquatches? Then you’ll like the forthcoming anthology Thirty Days Later, Steaming Forward: 30 Adventures in Time, featuring pairs of stories by favorite steampunk authors who have appeared at the Clockwork Alchemy steampunk convention!

Thinking Ink Press is proud to announce we will publish Thirty Days Later in time for Clockwork Alchemy this Memorial Day. Edited by AJ Sikes, BJ Sikes, and Dover Whitecliff, Thirty Days Later is the sequel to the steampunk anthology Twelve Hours Later: 24 Tales of Myth and Mystery, a charity anthology to promote California literacy programs, and Thinking Ink Press is proud to donate half the royalties of Thirty Days Later to promote literacy.  Among the offerings, T.E. MacArthur takes you a wild ride from the Nile to secret Minoan passages with explorer Miranda Gray!  The question being: can she outwit her dangerous partner and the ghost of the ancient Minotaur?

Advance copies are being prepared as we speak.  This is the second anthology for our intrepid authors, some new authors, and the illustrious Harry Turtledove.


Spread the news: Thirty Days Later is coming and it can’t be stopped!

The Lidenbrock Manifesto


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Just for fun, the opening salvo to the Volcano Lady #4: The Lidenbrock Manifesto.

Enjoy – comment – percolate.

She’s dead

Defying her proper place, defying him, defying the new God.  She got what she deserved. 

The great Letticia Gantry is dead

For a brief moment, he felt sad – or was it disappointment he felt?  She had been somewhat engaging.  Acceptably attractive, despite her lack of femininity.  No.  It was her fault that she failed so miserably trying to stop him and for that, she was dead. 

He’d been the one to kill her too, though not quite the way he’d wanted.  It had taken the train wreck to do the job; he would have preferred it if his surprise, waiting down in the caverns, had done the job.  Now she was a martyr – a victim of an accident – rather than a casualty of her perverse interest in science and her stupidity in choosing to climb down into the earth.  Unfeminine. 

Her strange hold over him, including the odd sensation of lust and confusion she caused in him, was dead too.  That nonsense could distract him no more.  Not a moment more, he insisted.


A Spice-laden Autumn


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Emeryville and the San Francisco Bay at sunset. By T.E. MacArthur

Emeryville and the San Francisco Bay at sunset. By T.E. MacArthur

I love the Fall … that Spice-laden Autumn.

I am one of those delirious fools who wait all throughout August and September for the return of pumpkins, apples, and falling leaves.

As a girl, growing up in Colorado, we had the Aspen trees to tell us what time of year it was. As each of those green leaves changed to yellow and orange, every child in our neighborhood knew that three things were coming: cozy blankets, hot apple cider, and Halloween. In Colorado, when every living thing seemed to reflect the iron-rich rocks in color, and the state was living up to its name, there was a change in the air. Romantic, and rarely varied, nothing spoke of Summer after the Autumnal Equinox. The brisk morning air was colder. The rain, by which one could set their watch, had disappeared. If there was a sudden, unexpected burst of warm weather, we called it Indian Summer, and kept right on with our preparations for the coming snow.

In so many ways, that was our seasonal right of passage. We recognized the change in year and celebrated it with our daily rituals. It is something that I miss dearly.

I live in California now. We have brown as our daily color from about July onward. If it isn’t brown, it is gray with fog. We really don’t have seasons beyond Rain, Hot, Foggy, and Earthquake*. That was difficult for me to accept at first, but there are aspects of this environment that reflect the beauty of Autumn. No more than a day or so past the Equinox, I noticed that it was darker in the morning while leaving for work. The air tastes sharper and colder. The light changes dramatically. Is it only in my head – my imagination gone silly – or is it true that the world appears as though someone washed a sheer brush-stroke of pale blue over everything at Twilight? Reds and fuchsias in the sunset are more vivid than ever.

This will be my first Autumn without my fuzzy companion, Mac the cat. This year there will be no tossing fallen leaves and watching him pounce, crunching them in his paws. No sticks to drag under the leaves and across the drying lawn, giving him a chance to chase them. When it gets colder and rainier, my lap may be un-warmed. This too is part of Autumn: the understanding that this is the time when we begin to let go – that which lives will at some moment die. The trees will go bare and the fields fallow. There is a sense of rest, quiet, and peace in the seasonal ending. Autumn allows for a steady, almost compassionate decline and decay. Its pace is elegant and graceful.

Yes, I love the Fall. It is my favorite time of year. October and November are my lucky months. December and Winter are for hibernating. Autumn is about celebration of what has been. And jokes notwithstanding, I honestly do look forward to pumpkin spice sneaking into everything.

Bay Sunset by T.E. MacArthur

Bay Sunset by T.E. MacArthur


*Yes, Earthquake is a season but you must take my word for it if you don’t live out here on the Left Coast.

Steam House Con – here we come!


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Steam House Con

is an ambitious attempt to combine the best of Media fandom, Cosplay, Independent Productions, and Steampunk.  How could I resist.


I will be offering a workshop called “It’s time to stop talking about writing!”  That’s right, time to stop!  Time to DO IT!  I’ll do everything I can to encourage, motivate, and unblock writers who are on the cusp of making that idea become a book!  99% of people say they would love to be a writer.  99% of people have some idea that might become a novel.  99% of people who want to be authors never become one because all they do is discuss their ideas.  Authors put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards.  Become the real 1% – those who do the deed, make the journey, rock the world!

My workshop is on Saturday at 2pm.  I’d love to see you there.


Oh my, it’s been a while …


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What am I up to?  Well, last time I checked, 5’7″.  And it’s shrinking because I think I loose an inch or two slouching over my keyboard.  So, let me give you a quick run down on what I have in mind for the last of the year

AND to ask YOU what you’re up to that is unique and interesting.

With any luck, I’ll complete my 5,000 word contribution to the 2016 anthology: 30 Days Later.  This past year we had the theme of 12 Hours Later, and the resulting anthology is on Amazon: proceeds to go to libraries and literacy charities.  I’ve promised more of the adventures of Miranda Grey and the Colonel.  http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Hours-Later-Tales-Mystery/dp/0990345785/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1440528563&sr=1-1&keywords=twelve+hours+later

The Volcano Lady: Volume 3 – The Great Earthquake Machine was released in May this year (you DO have your copy, hmmm?)  As it ends with more than a few questions, I am happily obligated to provide those answers in The Volcano Lady: Volume 4 – The Lidenbrock Manifesto.  I’d put Volume 4 at about 3/5 complete.  Hey, spectacular sea battles take time to design.  Iceland, did I mention Iceland!  My hope is to finish by year end, and have it ready for the New Year.  Get caught up on all the volumes and special novellas via my Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/T.-E.-MacArthur/e/B00657BJ8E/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1440528712&sr=1-2-ent

Like paranormal thrillers (sans vampires, werewolves, and zombies?)  Me too: that’s why I wrote one some few years ago.  Odigan (working title) was completed, quite to my satisfaction at the time.  But … like many contemporary books, the technology and culture have changed.  I need to update, scrub, polish and polish some more.  Look for Odigan in mid to late 2016.  Let me see if I can scare you a bit.

For the moment, that’s all – and that’s quite a bit.  Please let me know what you’re up to – I love to hear from blog readers!


A memorial: Mac the Cat


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Mac MacArthur

3/15/2000 – 4/29/2015

Being a certified Crazy Cat Lady, it would a failing if I did not post a message about the passing of my sweet kitty and writing companion.Mac and Trevor Tiger2

Mac was adopted through Hopalong Animal Rescue (http://www.hopalong.org.)  How could I resist a gorgeous cat with the same name as a favorite uncle (who passed away at the age of 104, annoyed by the “young women” always trying to pick him up – the ladies were all in their late 80s.)  He came home on the Ides of March, 2001.  Since we didn’t know his actual birthday, we decided that recognizing 3/15 was appropriate for the date.  I was told when I adopted him that he was a year old.

Mac on catnip2Last February he had Melanoma in his right eye and I had to have it removed.  We called him our Odin Kitty with his one eye.  It didn’t slow him down.  In fact, my Nature Boy was all the more active and curious without it.

He was my buddy for 14 years before this last April when he began to loose weight, stop eating, and ran a fever.  Cancer.  Specifically Lymphoma in his Kidneys.  As anyone knows, Cancer and Kidney issues are common for felines, and the treatments are well established.  However, Mac’s cancer resisted treatment and he began to decline rapidly.  I brought in Heaven from Home (http://www.heavenfromhome.com) to help him pass.  It was remarkably peaceful.  My dear friend Juliana came down and in the front garden he gently slipped away.  If you can handle the moment and afford it, this is genuinely the best method.  There are plenty of reasons why this might not be possible, but if you can, it is profound.  I think after all that Mac and I lived through (earthquakes, a fire, 3 boyfriends, 3 cars, 2 layoffs … life) I could not have parted with him in any less of an intimate way.Mac and his bed

I am grieving, naturally and normally.  It really has taken me this long to write about this.  And I can tell you just how empty my home is.

Grief is not limited to species or gender or race or any other division that is inflicted on life on this planet by us.  He was a friend.  He was a companion.  He was my writing buddy.  There is no replacing him, though someday I will meet another companion and we will develop our own relationship.  I like to point out that love is not like a pie – as if someone wants a slice, the other slices must be diminished.  Our capacity to care and to love is 100% each and every time we want to give that much – as often and as many times – all at once, one at a time – it doesn’t matter.

So here’s to a writer’s best friend.  And a sad farewell.

I have been writing the story of Mac called The Resident of Lower Catswold.  You can find it in all its unedited glory here, November 2014, for your enjoyment.

Mac in repose


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