What? December? How?

Okay, so today I flopped the calendar page over and thought, “Gee, I just did this last week for November, didn’t I?” Obviously not. And yet, there is always something of a rush to the final months of the year, isn’t there? This year has been no exception.

First of all, I added to the chaos by signing up for a “Nearly NaNo” challenge with some of the folks I attended Taos Toolbox with two years ago. “Nearly” in that no, I didn’t want the insane 50,000 wordcount looming over me with everything else going on this month. But I do know that I normally slack off in November and December, so I wanted to push through those early writing doldrums. I decided on 20,000 words for a target, and 25,000 for a stretch goal. And, thanks to the accountability/challenge of the Google doc we kept for our daily wordcounts, I met my stretch goal! Woooo!

(To celebrate, yesterday I started work on a new short story. Ummmmm, I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work…)

With 10 days to go, the 3rd & Starlight Kickstarter is 68% funded! And did you notice that now, at the $70 EVERY HERO NEEDS ONE level, you’ll get a signed paperback copy of SIDEKICKS!, an anthology about (duh) the sidekick, edited by Sarah Hans and published by Alliteration Ink. SIDEKICKS! contains my story, “Worthy,” which is the page I’ll be signing for you. The level also includes paperback versions of 3rd & Starlight, 2nd & Starlight, and 1st & Starlight, as well as ebook versions of all three Starlight books! What a deal! But we’re not there yet, so please fund us and tell your friends! (And did you see that while not a reward yet, an audiobook for everyone who funds at $25 and above if the Kickstarter goes over the Kickstarter Goal is in the works…)

Of course, the dog didn’t idly sit by while all this was going on. No, of course not! My dog would never do that. He decided to break off a bit of his marrow bone, break that into smaller bits, and swallow them. Which resulted in his going to the emergency vet over the Veteran’s Day weekend for emergency endoscopy, where they went down his throat and pulled the bits out. Nothing like a bit of excitement while trying to focus, is there? I’m happy to report that the very next day, Dasher was running around like nothing had happened–which, for him, nothing had. He’d slept through the whole thing!

Meanwhile, the holidays are ramping up into full swing. This weekend we’re setting up our decor and lights, indoor and out. Cards have been written and are being mailed in bits and bobs, dribs and drabs, so as not to overwhelm the mail carrier all at once. Some gifts have even been purchased! Before you know it, I’ll be back here with a summary of the year that was 2017.

But not now, not yet. I have more days to go, and more writing to do. And a dog who will only get tennis balls, not marrow bones, to keep him busy.

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Looky-Look–New & Shiny & Available to Fund!

Remember awhile back when I mentioned a story of mine would be in the forthcoming anthology, 3rd & Starlight? Well, that anthology is one step closer to fruition. The Kickstarter launched today.

In order to help recoup costs in putting this marvelous beautiful book together, our editor (and have I mentioned how wonderful our editor has been with all of this? Just look at this Kickstarter–it’s all his work there, too!) put together this Kickstarter that runs from today through December 12th. I wouldn’t wait until the final days to back this, not if you’re looking at any of those lovely extra backer rewards. I’m pretty sure they’ll be going fast, since they’re so awesome. I mean, just look at them–artwork, story critiques, extra books, subscriptions. Here you have a great opportunity to not only read this lovely anthology, but to also get an extra wonderful bit of your choosing at the same time.

Yet all isn’t lost if you can’t back right away! Let’s just say that more offers may be added as time goes along… 🙂

Oh, and did you look all the way at the bottom of the Kickstarter text? Way, way down there, where it indicates that if you donate at $25 or above you just might get a free audiobook version of this, as well?!? I mean, how awesome is that!

PS — I’ll let you thank me now for refraining from commenting that the holidays are fast approaching and that this would be a fantastic gift for any reader of speculative fiction. I’m just that way. 😉

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Book Review: Jade City

I’ve never done this before, but I guess there always has to be a first. I’m placing my Goodreads review of Jade City here, just so that more people can see that I found this book WONDERFUL and IMMERSIVE, and gave it a very, very rare 5 stars!

Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)
by Fonda Lee


Just wow. I don’t often give 5 stars, but this book deserves it!

In this secondary-world epic fantasy, a certain type of jade gives human beings superpowers–but only those with training and a built-up tolerance can wear it without becoming suicidal.

The jade supply is centered on tropical island, and the whole setting has a modern south-Asian feel that sinks into your bones as you read. The author does a magnificent job of setting the scenes, of giving us the feel of each place, of making you feel like you’re there, experiencing this place. She also delves into the minds of her numerous POV characters, none of whom are alike, some of whom we don’t think of as likable. And yet, each one acts in perfectly understandable, believable ways in the situations they’re placed in, and the whole plot moves forward in an inexorable push towards clan war, though most of the characters don’t want that.

Plot twists kept changing what I thought would happen in wonderful, unanticipated ways that were utterly spot-on and true to life. Perhaps most amazing is that, while the threat of impending warfare keeps the tone grim, there is also a lightness to enough of the scenes, especially in the building of familial bridges, that keeps the book from becoming too dark and depressing overall.

If you love epic fantasy, and political wranglings for power with magic, and have been looking (often in vain) for the next book/author to love, this one is for you. The whole thing is engrossing and wonderful, and you may find yourself wanting to curl up with the book to finish it in a single sitting!

One word of caution for the more timid reader: the opening chapter for me, while immersive and wonderfully voiced, was also one of the most violent. If you’re not a fan of on-page violence, just get through that and the rest will be worth it. I promise.

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NovemberJoys

While the days get darker, and the nights get longer, this year I’m finding much to be happy about.

First of all, our new solar panels were turned on yesterday! I am overjoyed. From now on, seeing the sun shining in the clear sky will make me happy, regardless of how hot it may be. Our excess energy will backload into the grid, feeding our neighbors’ electrical needs, so let it shine, baby!

Next up: Today is Fountain Pen Day!

What, you didn’t know I’m a bit of a fountain pen freak? Well, I am. I’m not a “power user,” if there is such a thing. I’m not really a collector, even. I just have a few pens that I love to use, and I love looking at other pens–the beautiful ones, the stunning ones, the bright ones and the sleek ones. Old-fashioned or modern and new, fountain pens are beautiful.

A fountain pen is (or in my mind, should be) a work of art as much as a functional thing. If I merely wanted “functionality,” I’d use a cheap throwaway, right? But no. I want something pleasant to look at, something that feels right in my hand, and whose ink I can change to match my mood. And oh, the inks they make these days! Try looking at these. And that’s just one brand of ink at one retailer (a favorite retailer, I might add)! Check out the other brands there by clicking the “brand” on the left side. A couple favorites of mine are J. Herbin’s Stormy Gray, Pilot Iroshizuku’s Fuyu-gaki, and Diamine’s Eau de Nil. But there are so many more to try!

Thirdly, this is November, and for writers, November means NaNoWriMo–NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. I’ve never been much of a fan of this event. It’s just not my type of thing, and never really has been. I’m all for others doing NaNo, mind you; if it works for you, go for it! But I don’t do well chugging out words to meet an arbitrary word count in a long-haul kind of way. I get exhausted partway through, crash, then get depressed that I couldn’t “make my goal.” Bleah.

And yet…this year, I’m doing a modified version of NaNo, along with a group of like-minded friends. We’re calling it “Nearly NaNo,” and each of us has made his or her own private goal for the month. Since I’m already partway through a novel, my goal is another 20,000 words on this novel–not a crazy amount by any means, and utterly achievable IF I don’t slack off at the end of the month!

Cooler weather is another fine thing on this list of happy things. The AC is off, the windows are open. I’m even wearing sweaters in the morning. Sometimes long pants all day! Rotating to a new set of clothes–look! I can wear sleeves!–is such a joy. Enjoying long walks outside is even better.

Speaking of walks outside, don’t forget here in the US, on Sunday we roll back into Standard Time. Which, well, yeah. Time change is not something I’m happy about.

But so it goes. Happy November, all. Go write something with a pen today. Yes, by hand. Maybe sitting in a sunbeam at lunch. You might be surprised how much you enjoy it.

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Writer’s Desk, 10/25/17

Out the window: Clear blue skies, sunshine, and gorgeous coolness. Fall has landed with a thud on north central Florida. Last night the temps were in the low 50’s, tonight should plummet into the 40’s! That’s a far cry from the 90+ degrees of only a few days ago. And I’m soooooo glad.

On the desktop: Other than the plain green tea? A big old mess, quite honestly. Post-It notes trail off and sprawl everywhere, as I attempt to tame and structure a short story that’s had me flummoxed for over a year. I know the basic plot, and the story arc, but it’s still missing that certain spark that will lift it above “meh.” At least I found the obvious structural flaw that was killing it before, right?

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  The novel with the working title “Unspoken.” What with having been gone nearly 2 weeks (and this shortly after having started the novel), I thought I’d have a hard time diving back into the work. But honestly, I haven’t.

The first day back to writing (and yes, after traveling I took the weekend off to recuperate), I re-read the most recent 3,000 words, just to get back into the flow, and to find my protagonist’s voice and emotional state. Apparently it worked, because I wrote that next 1,000 word scene as easily as anything. And the following day, the next scene of 1800 words flew from my fingers onto the keyboard! It was a combat scene, so the action practically wrote itself, and I felt glorious, so accomplished and good!

Spousal Unit said, “Well, that’s because you stopped writing at a great point, leaving yourself an interesting place to dive into.” To which, I replied, “Well of course! Because it’s ALL interesting. I’m leaving the boring parts out of this one.”

Honestly, I’m trying really hard to conquer STRUCTURE on this novel, both on a macro and micro level. I want the final shape of the book to more than vaguely resemble the first draft, you see, because I’ve learned that nothing kills me deader than a really HUGE, HARD revision draft. (I feel tired and cranky just thinking of that!) Enervation seeps from my pours like a late August sweat at the prospect of such an edit. So, you see, I really needed to do something. Studying my craft (as usual) was the answer.

And Another Thing: How is Halloween just around the corner? If the weather cooperates, I’m going to dress up like a living scarecrow and flop on my porch swing to hand out the candy, freaking out (in a good way) all the kids that come by. So, hope and pray for good weather, okay? I’m feeling devilish! 🙂

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Catching Up is Hard to Do

I was gone for the past two weeks, up north in New Jersey where I got to visit the burgeoning autumn weather. You’d better believe that fresh, tart Winesap apples were stowed into my carry-on for the trip home. When I pulled out the sacred bag of Apple, Spousal Unit dove into one right there at the airport, while we waited for luggage to arrive on the carousel. Mmmm, the things you miss when you move…

Visiting fall was wonderful. Apples in season (I made two apple pies!), fall foliage turning lovely, cool nights that brought out blankets and closed windows (one night dipped to 38F), and recipes that matched the season–braised root veggies with chicken, mushroom risotto, currywurst. Bracing winds one day, lovely weather the rest of the time. Even though I was kept busy, I really enjoyed my time on the Shore.

But this weekend brought another kind of fun: the Gainesville Orchid Society’s Orchid Show at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens! I only joined GOS after last year’s show, and am happy to admit I’m a rank novice and total beginner at this “orchid thing.” But it’s a lot of fun, and I’m learning so much about an amazingly diverse group of plants. And the show was amazing. So many types of orchids on display, and more for sale from various vendors. I couldn’t pass up one particular plant–Bratonia Shelob ‘Tolkien.’ I mean, really, could I consider myself a fantasy writer if I didn’t buy one of those?!? Here’s a link to what it will look like should I get it to bloom. (Some report it has a slight fragrance, too–extra bonus!) Just now, mine is a tiny bit of green–healthy, but nowhere near sending up a bloom spike. Cross your fingers that this little spider orchid will grow and bloom wonderfully for me.

But it’s time to dive back into writing. I’m looking forward to it, especially since the dog seems to have gotten over his “stick to her like a burr to flannel” phase. I’m behind on where I expected to be at this time, but life happens–as it should–and I’m okay rolling with the flow. Good writing is ahead of me. I can feel it. Like fall, it’s in the air.

Now I’m off to eat a persimmon. You know what they say–whether in NJ or in Florida, eat your local seasons. Happy fall.

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Because We’re All Readers First, Right?

I love reading. If you’re reading this blog, chances are good you do, too.

So I’m excited to link to a new place to check out for your short fiction fixes. Curious Fictions is an online venture meant to help readers connect with previously published short fiction you might have missed. It’s a place to meet your next “favorite writer,” and maybe your next “favorite magazine.” At Curious Fictions, you’ll be able to sample magazine offerings, and find the writers they publish. Then you can go subscribe to those magazines you love–those you’ve previously hesitated to pay for, not knowing if you’d like them or not.

(Need some suggestions to get started? How about reading Sylvia Spruck Wrigley? Or Wendy Nikel? Or perhaps Effie Seiberg‘s story, Dinkley’s Ice Cream–I love that one!)

Curious Fictions is a work in progress. It’s new, and the person behind it is still tweaking the format, the page, the functions. New work is always arriving, and new readers–well, of course new readers are always welcome.

Some of my work is there, of course. But I encourage you to not read my stories (or, not just mine), but to try out some of the others. There are tons of great writers you haven’t read yet. Give one a try over at Curious Fictions, won’t you? And tell your friends. Writers need readers.

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More About “3rd and Starlight”

Our intrepid editor, Dr Robert B Finegold, just gave us the A-OK to continue with the goodies about the forthcoming “3rd & Starlight” anthology, and gave us links to his Facebook page with his official announcement. So, without further ado, here is my update.

Now, at long last, I can let the cat out of the bag. I can squee loudly and long–not only that gorgeous cover, but now, interior illustrations! And the example given is from my very own offering, Amma’s Wishes! I am gobsmacked. Astounded. And very, very pleased.

 

 

 

 

 

Also, the interior graphic design promises to be just as lovely. Here’s an image, and a quote direct from the boss’s mouth:

“…and what a beautiful volume it will be!

Drop caps for the start of each story, special characters for section breaks (“rocket” for science fiction and “starlight” – of course – for fantasy)… Here’s just a peek from the Introduction.

…AND (*fanfare*), each story is ILLUSTRATED by the multi-talented M. Elizabeth Ticknor! 🙂

All the preceding enhancements will be present in BOTH the ebook and the print editions. Our ebook is not treated as a poor second in the care placed in its beauty of its design. Our CInderella will truly be the belle of the ball.

And there is still more to come!”

That last line, did you catch it? Yes, there will be more  (very good) news to come. Stay tuned! I can’t wait to share it with you.

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