It’s Coming Back…The Aztec Eagle

Written By: catherinewells | Categorized In: Book news, Enrique, EPIC Award, Speculative Fiction | Comments: 0

Gosh, to look at how long it’s been since I posted here, you might think I’ve been, well, writing or something.  In fact, I have been editing. I have a small press interested in The Aztec Eagle, which was a finalist for an EPIC Award way back in 2011. That publisher folded, and the book became unavailable in 2012. Sigh.

Now another small press is interested, and I have been working with their editors in anticipation of publication in 2022. This time around, I have amended the story to include a character absent from the previous edition, but part of the original concept back around 2000. Xopil is a companion spirit, a non-corporeal entity existing between particles of matter–which of course knocks the book right out of SF and into cross-genre. Publishers have been slow to accept cross-genre, so I removed Xopil for the 2011 edition.

But now he’s back.  So far, at least. We are not through the editing process, and Xopil is, well, a conundrum. As a companion spirit, Xopil follows the main character, Enrique, throughout his life. Xopil relates the emotions he observes in people to colors. Enrique is a sunny amber when he’s at peace, navy blue when he confronts an adversary, and churning with olive green when he’s physically unwell.  And when Lyla comes by, whoo, there comes that purple stuff Xopil really doesn’t understand. Enrique’s problem is he’s a poor kid with a big dream and many obstacles to surmount; Xopil’s problem is he can’t do anything about it. He can’t even communicate to Enrique that he’s there, although our perceptive hero sometimes wonders about that thing he can’t quite see, there at the edge of his vision. Hence the conundrum: Xopil does not influence the action. He is simply an observer with a unique perspective.

So Xopil gets mixed reviews from beta readers. Some don’t see the point, and his colorful asides can interrupt the flow. Others find his take on things humorous and charming, a whimsical and (pun intended) colorful aside. As the author, I find him useful in conveying feelings and motivations about which Enrique is often clueless.

I’ll keep you posted as the publication process proceeds. At the moment I’m feeling a little tangerine about it, with some streaks of umber doubt and a current of stubborn charcoal running through me. I doubt I’ll ever settle in to a soothing aquamarine.


Americans don’t like to play defense

Written By: catherinewells | Categorized In: Uncategorized | Comments: 0

This is my latest insight into our response to pandemic:  Americans don’t like to play defense.

We’ve been raised on the mantra that the best defense is a good offense, so when faced with a foe, we want to attack it.  We want to send in the troops, bring out our handguns, slay the monsters.  We  don’t want to sit back in the bunker, wait out the siege, hide in our houses while the tanks roll by outside–we want to get out there and kill it.

But unless you have a degree in biochemistry, there’s not much you can do to attack this virus.  All we’ve been asked to do is play defense, and we hate that.  It’s no fun.  Wash our hands?  We’d rather dirty them digging the cursed thing out of its lair.  Wear a mask?  That’s like hiding.  We’re not afraid of any old virus, we’ll face it with our bare hands and bare faces and dare it to hurt us.  We’re Americans, we always win.

Picture this:  old Western, townfolk cowering silent in a cellar, hoping the raiders will pass by without finding them, when one idiot rushes into the street, guns blazing–and gives away the location of everyone else.  Please don’t be that guy.  Please don’t endanger everyone you meet. Wear the mask.  Wash your hands.  Stay at home if you can.  Respect those who are actually attacking the virus by falling into line and saying, “Go ahead.  We’ve got your back.”

I know you hate it.  I hate it too.  But we’ve got to play defense.


It’s here…! See July/August issue of Analog

Written By: catherinewells | Categorized In: Book news, Enrique, Short Stories, Speculative Fiction | Comments: 0

Greetings!  The July/August 2019 issue of Analog is now available online and in stores.  In fact, if you click on this link, you can actually read an excerpt of “The Quality of Mercy.”  Get a taste for it.  Yum.

Meanwhile, it looks like The Aztec Eagle is going to make it back into print later this year, with parts 1 and 2 combined into a single book  The second part (The Crystal Desert) was only up for a couple of days before the publisher shut down, withdrawing all files from the market.  Pretty sure Desert Moon Press will keep it available much longer than that.


“Native Seeds” in Lightspeed

Written By: catherinewells | Categorized In: AZ, Coconino, Short Stories, Uncategorized | Comments: 0

The issue of Lightspeed with a reprint of “Native Seeds” is now available online, for those of you who missed its premier in Analog.  The paper and ebook should be available through Amazon shortly.

Somehow I never had the opportunity in either venue to explain that this novella is a prequel to my Coconino trilogy, also available through online bookstores.  It’s set in southern and central Arizona after famine and other catastrophes have driven most of the population to colonial planets in distant solar systems.  Those who remain find themselves facing age-old questions about culture, survival, and self-determination.


“Native Seeds” is in Nov/Dec issue of Analog

Written By: catherinewells | Categorized In: AZ, Book news, Coconino, Short Stories, Speculative Fiction, Uncategorized | Comments: 0

I just peeked at the upcoming issue information, and my novella “Native Seeds” will run in the next issue of Analog. This is a foundation story for The People who appear in the Coconino trilogy. I think you’ll enjoy meeting Alfonso and his friend Chico.


TusCon, here I come!

Written By: catherinewells | Categorized In: AZ, Tucson, TusCon, Uncategorized | Comments: 0

No, I haven’t misspelled the name of my home town.  I’m referring to the best little local SFF convention–TusCon–which takes place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2014.  That’s right, Halloween!  I don’t normally dress in costume for TusCon, but I may make an exception this year.  Look for Daft Kate in her medieval garb…or Elivira, Mistress of the Dark…or…


Thank you, April!

Written By: catherinewells | Categorized In: Uncategorized | Comments: 0

Thank you, thank you, thank you to my wonderful daughter and editor, April L’Orange, for cleaning up my website.  Honey, I’ve gone through the tutorial now, and I think I can update some content on my own.


Broken faith, broken heart, and Allegiant Air

Written By: catherinewells | Categorized In: Uncategorized | Comments: 0

My dad passed away last week.  It was not unexpected; he was 97 and had been in hospice for a couple of months.  I was prepared for his passing, and when it finally came, I made reservations to fly back to North Dakota where, not only would the Clan gather, but dozens of neighbors and friends would join us to celebrate a life richly lived by one of the kindest, most humble souls any of us has ever known.  On Friday morning my husband and I drove 120 miles to a regional airport to catch a flight on a low-cost carrier, one of the few airlines that serves cities in North Dakota.

Now, I have flown this carrier before and not been pleased.  Like most low-cost airlines, they treat you like cattle and tack on extra fees until the cost savings is minimal.  But it was a direct flight from Phoenix to Fargo, three hours, no chance of lost luggage.  We arrived at the airport an hour and a quarter before the scheduled departure, and my husband went to check our flight on the status board.

It said Canceled.

He checked his email–no message of cancellation.  He checked the Allegiant website–it still said On Time.  But as we waited in line to check in, the message came back, relayed from passenger to passenger:  yes, the flight was canceled.  Why?  No one knew.  The ground crew were contractors, and they had no information except that the flight would go out the following morning at 9:00 am.  My dad’s funeral was at 10:30.

We frantically drove to the major airport, Sky Harbor, and found a Frontier flight through Denver to Fargo.  As we booked it, an email finally arrived from Allegiant saying their flight was canceled.  Then the Frontier flight was delayed and  we learned there was no chance of making our connection.  If we went to Denver, they couldn’t get us to Fargo until Sunday or Monday.  We canceled off that flight (fully refunded), but it was too late to get our bag off.

No bag, no flight, no way to make the funeral.  When I recovered from my emotional meltdown, we drove home–120 miles–packed another bag, slept in our own bed, and drove back the following morning to take the rescheduled Allegiant flight.  I reached my brother’s house at 3:00 pm,  four hours after 150 people, including friends I had not seen in years, gathered to offer their condolences and support.  By the time I got there, all but family had gone home.

Later we learned Allegiant had no pilot for the Friday flight.  They have trouble keeping pilots; I guess they don’t treat them any better than they do their customers.

So here’s the lesson from my experience:  Never trust an airline.  Though I hated their poor service and money-gouging practices, I still trusted Allegiant to get me where I needed to be.  They failed me.  I will never trust an airline again.  I most certainly will never fly Allegiant, and  I’m not alone.  If you own Allegiant stock, you might want to think about that.


“Mother Grimm” available in paperback

Written By: catherinewells | Categorized In: Uncategorized | Comments: 0

Don’t be fooled if you go to and see “Temporarily out of stock” for the paperback version of “Mother Grimm.” That just means it’s a “print-on-demand” edition, and they won’t print stock until they have an order. You will get your book promptly, rest assured.



Written By: catherinewells | Categorized In: Uncategorized | Comments: 0

Two and a half months?  I haven’t posted in two and a half months?  Egad!  I’ve been a busy girl.  We signed up last minute for a cruise up the wine coast:  San Diego to Vancouver.  Then realized we had let our passports expire.  So we did a lot of rushing around and paid extra money to get them renewed in time to go.  Yes, children, you need a passport to go into Canada.  But it was well worth the effort and expense.  We had fabulous weather every day, not a drop of rain!  Okay, so we did have gale-force winds on one of our sea days and they wouldn’t let anyone on deck, but I’m proud to say I weathered it all without any motion sickness, and all I took was a couple of ginger root capsules.  As long as I could sit at a window and look out, I was just fine.

Now summer is hard upon us with temps over 100 degrees.  It’s Tucson, baby.  I’m ready to go cruising again.