Being the Random Yarns of Emily Cotton, Merry Scrivener of Fact & Fiction Historical, Animal, & Minimal to Amuse, Inform, & Enlighten.


I’m an inveterate storyteller. My novels (currently under a pseudonym) will all be available shortly in both paper and e-format under my own name. There are five of them. Keep checking this space if you like historical fiction and my style of writing.

I love oral storytelling even more than writing and am available locally (the San Francisco Bay Area) to teach a two-part course, ‘Pirate Sails and Caravan Trails: Trade Goods to Die For’ in which I use audience members for props. If you desperately desire me to victimize teach the members of your group/school/meeting you can email me at for availability and pricing.

For the last thirty years I (along with one of my long-suffering critters) have given talks on llamas and llama packing, specializing in the history of the Inca Empire.

My passion is for the time when the world was reborn: the years from 1450 to 1600, when East and West reconnected, and a New World impacted the Old. I want to entertain, make our mutual past come alive, and give you good measure for time spent— even if it is only a humorous nugget of animal-breeder wisdom.

Truth is stranger than fiction. It’s more interesting, too, once the boring bits have been culled. I do that for my favorite era, and then stir in real stories of human passion and pathos drawn from our contacts in the developing world, where conditions are little changed from the 16th century. But in spite of the darker moments, history gives me hope, for Renaissance ideals gave birth to today’s understanding of basic human rights.

I’ve been married to Jay for nearly forever, or long enough to get two stepkids and three mutual offspring to a questionable state of maturity. The poor man has to listen to my every talk and plot in at least four versions. Jay is possessed of an extremely sensitive dull-detector, delights in poking a story fabric to see if it will develop a plot hole, and screens every male character for believability.

We met in the US Coast Guard, which Jay joined to stay out of ‘Nam and I to pay off student loans. Also for the GI bill, but babies burped all over my academic ambitions. Alas, my hard-earned government grant only produced a professional student. I have enough completed college units to stretch from Spokane to Boise if placed end-to-end, spread over too many subjects for a degree. (I did come within 3 units of a BS in Social Sciences, pre-Coast Guard, but since then research has proved that most of what I was taught is wrong.)

Everybody in my family enjoys animals: dogs, cats, birds, rodents, rabbits, goats, ferrets, donkeys, you name it, we’ve had it. (OK, that’s a little broad. We’ve never had a puma or an elephant, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t wanted one!) I fell in love with horses while working at a boarding facility in college, but since equines and kids could not both fit into our pea-pod budget, we discovered llamas.

In the 80’s llamas suddenly became llucrative. And then they weren’t. Which doesn’t affect the pleasure our special livestock give us. We’ve been involved with llamas for over a quarter-century now. Somewhere in there we added Goldendoodles to our breeding repertoire.

Animal training morphed into people-training through most of the ‘90s. Those were the years our house served as a live-in transition home for women and children. We are still trying to figure out how this happened, but think it has something to do with too many teeny bedrooms and a high tolerance for mess. Either that, or we are deranged, an equally strong possibility.

To balance the craziness at home during those busy years, we frequently packed up our kids and their llamas and took off to the wilderness. Since a gaggle of friends and llama customers usually came along, it mostly proved the maxim that a change is as good as a rest. And after a week without, a hot shower is better than either.

Llamas, ladies, dogs and kids are effective (if humbling) tutors, but by 2000 we felt sufficiently educated. Our kids flew the nest, a women’s shelter took over the transition program and Jay declared he had ‘estrogen poisoning’. So now the spare rooms are occupied by international scientists doing stints at the local research facility. As they are mostly male and fluent in geek-speak, Jay is recovering.

With this new phase, we find our concerns going further afield—to the ends of the earth. Besides our current and former guests, we have many friends involved in relief work in various corners of the globe. My husband and I share a particular passion for bringing freedom to people who are still enslaved. Our time, resources and prayers are invested in ending human trafficking, and our special emphasis is supporting aftercare centers for women and children victimized by the global sex trade.

Thank you for the privilege of entertaining you.


6 responses

  1. Go on, Emily… tell us something about yourself!

    Saturday 16 June 2012 at 8:14 am

  2. Like the chicken story doesn’t tell you enough? But now there’s plenty more! And thanks for commenting on my blog. No idea how people are finding me at this early stage.

    Saturday 16 June 2012 at 7:42 pm

  3. I suspect that pumas may not mix well with chickens!
    Just keep writing and tagging and people will find you.

    Saturday 16 June 2012 at 10:58 pm

  4. Just to let you know that I have nominated you for a ‘Very Inspiring Blogger’ Award (… come on, write some more!

    Tuesday 31 July 2012 at 1:48 pm

  5. Anonymous

    Emily, are you still doing your blog? I reread the posts here today and was practically rolling on the floor, even though I’d read them before. You are one of the most entertaining writers I have EVER read!

    Wednesday 14 May 2014 at 9:09 pm

  6. Anonymous

    In the audience for the audition… Have to say I’m once again rolling in the aisle, in stitches. YBS

    Thursday 5 June 2014 at 12:04 am

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