Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Audiobooks!

Jaydium is now available as an unabridged audiobook, narrated by Molly Elston.

Amazon.com

Audible.com




The audiobook version of Northlight will be released November 4, 2013.

Azkhantian Tales is in the works.

The Writing Life: Re-entry and Changing Gears



For the last seven weeks, I’ve been away from home, helping to take care of my best friend and her family during the end of her life. I had no idea how hard it would be, but we did well by her and her passing was peaceful, attended by great tenderness and forgiveness. I stayed on for another ten days to organize the memorial and transition for her family. 

During this entire time, one of my personal anchors was writing. I loaded up my netbook with current projects and took the folders with checklists for various Book View Café projects I was working on. In this way, I created a portable office, albeit one that lacked all the resources I had at home. For example, although I had access to the internet through my carrier’s website, I didn’t have my address book files. I learned to “work around” these limitations, focusing instead on what I could do, delegating and asking for help with things I couldn’t, and postponing other tasks. As a result, I was productive with some projects but “on hold” in others.

Now I’m back in my own office, resources at hand. I’m facing a dual challenge: coming “up to speed” and getting back into balance. What do I mean by balance? I mean reapportioning (or rather, un-deapportioning) my time and focus. Rarely have I been so aware of the many activities involved in my life as a writer. These include, to name a few, original fiction writing (drafting, revision, revision-to-editorial-request), other aspects of book production (proofreading); editing anthologies; beta-reading and editing books, often for other Book View Café members; writing blog posts like this one; keeping up with professional communications (reading and responding to email from fellow writers, fans, and editors, not to mention news of the publishing world).

Friday, October 18, 2013

GUEST BLOG: Janet Freeman on Gratitude and Stewardship

I was awed and inspired by how fully my friend lived the almost-five years between her diagnosis with Stage 4 ovarian cancer and her death last week. I am reminded that a terminal diagnosis does not mean we stop living -- it is an invitation to make every moment count, and thereby enrich not only the life of the patient but those around her. Here is author and lung cancer patient Janet Freeman-Daily on her own experience of hope, illness, and the zest of being alive.

I’m grateful to be here.  Actually, I’m grateful to be anywhere.  I’m grateful to be alive.  The fact that I’m alive is a modern-day medical miracle.

In May of 2011, after a few months of a persistent cough, I was diagnosed with pneumonia caused by advanced lung cancer.  No, I never smoked anything except a salmon.  Five months after diagnosis, despite chemo and radiation, the cancer spread outside my chest and I was given at most two years to live.  A year later, after more treatment and another recurrence, I learned my cancer had a rare mutation.  Last October, I found a clinical trial that could treat that mutation with an experimental pill, and I flew to Denver to get it.  In January, I achieved the dream of all metastatic cancer patients: No Evidence of Disease.  My cancer is no longer detectable.

I am overwhelmingly grateful for everything and everyone that has brought me to this state of grace: medical science that discovered new ways to treat my condition, insurance that paid for most of my care, family and friends who supported me, a knowledgeable online lung cancer community, and all the prayers and good wishes lifting me up throughout my cancer journey.  Thank you.  I am truly blessed.

I am not cured.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

BOOK RELEASE! Mad Science Cafe (anthology)

My latest anthology, from Book View Cafe!

From the age of steam and the heirs of Dr. Frankenstein to the asteroid belt to the halls of Miskatonic University, the writers at Book View Café have concocted a beakerful of quaint, dangerous, sexy, clueless, genius, insane scientists, their assistants (sometimes equally if not even more deranged, not to mention bizarre), friends, test subjects, and adversaries.

Table of Contents:
The Jacobean Time Machine, by Chris Dolley
Comparison of Efficacy Rates, by Marie Brennan
A Princess of Wittgenstein, by Jennifer Stevenson
Mandelbrot Moldrot, by Lois Gresh
Dog Star, by Jeffrey A. Carver
Secundus, by Brenda W. Clough
Willie, by Madeleine E. Robins
One Night in O’Shaughnessy’s Bar, by David D. Levine
Revision, by Nancy Jane Moore
Night Without Darkness, by Shannon Page & Mark J. Ferrari
The Stink of Reality, by Irene Radford
“Value For O,” by Jennifer Stevenson
The Peculiar Case of Sir Willoughby Smythe, by Judith Tarr
The Gods That Men Don’t See, by Amy Sterling Casil


You can download a sample from the BVC  bookstore, too. This anthology includes both original and reprint stories and is available as mobi and epub formats, so you can download the version that's right for your ereader. Best of all, because BVC is an author's publishing cooperative, 95% of the price goes to the authors themselves.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Book View Cafe Editor Interview

Over at Book View Cafe blog, Katharine Eliska Kimbriel interview me "with my editor hat on."


When did you become interested in editing other writers’ work as opposed to concentrating on writing?

I first started thinking about editing during the years when I’d visit Marion Zimmer Bradley on a regular basis. I helped read slush for her magazine (MZB’s Fantasy Magazine) and we’d talk. I got a “behind the scenes” look at what she looked for and why, and how she handled rejection letters. She taught me that the work of an editor isn’t mysterious, in part because her own tastes were so definite. A story could be perfectly good but not suit the anthology or magazine she was reading for, or might do both but not “catch fire” for her. I learned about “no fault” rejections (and I’ve received them myself, for example if the editor had just bought a story on the same theme by a Big Name Author) and that sometimes if an editor thought the story had merit but didn’t fulfill its promise, she could comment on its shortcomings or issue an invitation to re-submit after revision. I thought, “I can do this!” I’d had so many experiences from the Author side of the desk, I approached editing with a set of wild hopes and convictions.

Friday, October 11, 2013

ARCHVES: Murder, the Death Penalty, and Cancer

Because I'll be busy helping with my friend's memorial and other family issues, I'm reposting something from a couple of years ago. Yes, Bonnie is the friend I mention. 

Twenty-five years ago, my mother was raped and beaten to death by a teenaged neighbor on drugs. My mother was 70 years old and had been his friend since the time he was a small child. For a long time, I didn't talk much about it except in private situations. This was not to keep it a secret, but to compartmentalize my life so I could function. At first, it was too difficult and then, as the years passed, I refused to let this single incident be the defining experience of my life. Recently, however, I have felt inspired to use my own experience of survival and healing to speak out against the death penalty. I don't write this to convince you one way or another on that particular issue, but to try to illuminate how the two issues are related for me.

My mother's murder was a spectacularly brutal, headline-banner crime, but it was only part of a larger tragedy, for the perpetrator's family had suffered the murder of his older brother some years before. I knew this, but for a long time it didn't matter. My own pain and rage took center stage. But with time and much hard work in recovery, I came to the place of being able to listen to the stories of other people.

We all lose people we love. Tolstoy wrote that happy families are all alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. I would interpret that to mean that each loss, each set of relationships and circumstances is unique, but there are things we share.

What might it be like if one family member were murdered -- and another family member had killed someone? What does it feel like to watch the weeks and days pass while the execution of someone you dearly love draws ever nearer? How can we wrap our minds around loving someone and accepting that they have caused such anguish to another family? I've had a chance to talk with people in all these circumstances. It's been a humbling experience.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What I’m Reading – The Hospice Edition



When I packed to travel out of state to help care for my best friend and her family during her final weeks of life, I had no idea how long I would be away. The ereader my daughter had passed on to me provided the ideal solution of how to carry a variety of books with me. I read at night as part of my bedtime ritual and I couldn’t anticipate what I would need at the end of each day. Horror, which has never previously appealed to me, might resonate with the depth of the grief of this entire household as we let go of hope and say goodbye. Maybe not, but should I bring some just in case? What about my favorite and unabashedly unguilty pleasures – fantasy and science fiction? Something to challenge my mind and make me think? A genre I don’t usually read? Mystery? Nonfiction?

I loaded up my ereader with a stack of books from Book View Café, picking a few from authors I’ve loved and choosing others practically at random. Here’s what I’ve been reading and why.

I started with three pieces – two novellas and a novel -- by Marie Brennan. I’d never read her work before she joined Book View Café, so when I found Midnight Never Come in a bookstore (and it looked interesting), I grabbed it. It’s the first of a series called “The Onyx Court,” set London during the reign of Elizabeth I. My husband and I had gone through a phase of watching every film biography of Elizabeth I that we could find, so that was an automatic plus. Brennan created a second, faerie court, hidden belowground but interacting in secret ways for England’s benefit. Fits right in with Sir Francis Walsingham and Dr. John Dee, and other historical characters. I enjoyed the book immensely, so the first thing I read was more Brennan, a novella set in the same world although slightly later in time. Deeds of Men is a murder mystery, with characteristic Brennan twists. I was glad I’d already read Midnight Never Come because I was already in love with the main character, but this would also make a good introduction to the series. I also picked the two “Welton” pieces, a prequel novella called Welcome To Welton and then the novel Lies and Prophecy. Both reminded me a little of Pamela Dean’s excellent Tam Lin, only set at Hogwarts if Hogwarts was a college and magic was public and widely spread. What kind of curriculum would a college offer? Dorms, room mates, cafeteria food, professors, meddling parents, the whole shebang. But Brennan doesn’t leave the story there; it turns out that the reason people have magical abilities is that they’re descended from fae who mingled with humans during a time when Faerie was closer to Earth. And now the two worlds are drawing closer again, and the Seelie and UnSeelie Courts are in deadly competition for who gets to rule, whether to enslave or ally with humans. And our college kids are caught up in it all. Brennan’s easy prose and likeable characters drew me into her world, a lovely escape at the end of each day.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Friendship as living water

At last we've had some sun, after days of storm and gloomy overcast. Hospice sent a lovely volunteer to sit with my friend, so I took a break and spent the afternoon talking shop and getting my creative batteries "recharged" with a nearby fellow writer. I'm reminded how friends create a network as resilient as any spun by a spider. Friendships work because we're not all crazy -- or needy, or sick -- on the same day. Our love for one another is like water flowing through many channels, all one thing but divided, some sleepy winding rivers or placid waves on the beach, others torrential downpours or waterfalls, or glaciers. Or tsunamis.

Friday, October 4, 2013

GUEST BLOG: Katharine Kerr on Writing Long Series



Saga, Series, and Just Plain Long Books

There is nothing an author today has to guard himself more carefully against than the Saga Habit.  The least slackening of vigilance and the thing has gripped him.
            -- P.G. Wodehouse, writing in 1935

            How little things change!  I too am a victim of the Saga Habit.  Fifteen Deverry books, four Nola O’Gradys -- and I haven’t even finished the Nola series!  Now SORCERER’S LUCK, which I   a “Runemaster trilogy”.  Over the years, a number of people have asked me why I tend to write at this great length.  I’ve put some thought into the answer, and it can be boiled down one word: consequences.  Well, maybe two words: consequences and characters.  Or perhaps, consequences, characters, and the subconscious mind, above all the subconscious mind.  You see what I mean?  These things multiply by themselves.
meant to be a stand-alone, is insisting that it’s only the first volume of
            Not all series books are sagas.  Some are shaped more like beads on a string, separate episodes held together by a set of characters, who may or may not grow and change as the series continues.  Many mystery novels fall into the episode category, Sherlock Holmes, for example, or James Bond.  Other series start out as episodics, but saga creeps up on them as minor characters bring depth to a plot and demand stories of their own, for instance, in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series or Ian Rankin’s detective novels.  What determines the difference in these examples comes back to the idea of consequences.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

SHANNIVAR cover!



Here's the cover for Shannivar, the second book of The Seven-Petaled Shield.  I am so pleased with the artwork by Matt Stawicki! It's available for pre-order at the usual places, for an early December release.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Evil, the Fantastic, and Making Sense Out of Pain

After a brief hiatus, I've returned to the Great Traveling Fantasy Round Table. This month's topic, hosted by Warren Rochelle, is "Evil and the Fantastic." My entry is below, but please go read the others. And write your own!

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I don’t think it’s possible to discuss evil without talking about the literature of the fantastic. We hear people talk about “evil incarnate,” usually in reference to some person or institution that has committed particularly heinous acts, as if evil were a tangible, measurable thing that exists outside the human imagination. In real life, things are rarely that simplistic.

Certainly, history and even some current religious thought puts forth the notion of those, human or not, who are inherently evil. To this day, some people believe that snakes (or spiders or other animals) are evil (I encountered one such man in a pet store, warning his young son that the garter snake would steal his soul if he weren’t careful). Once the mentally ill (or physically ill, such as those who suffer from epilepsy) were thought to be possessed by demons. Such beliefs persist today on the fringes of mainstream Western society, although they have largely been expunged from medical and psychiatric practice. We believe that such conditions as schizophrenia and sociopathy arise from disorders of neurophysiology, even if we cannot yet pinpoint the precise etiology. Even when we do know exactly what neurotransmitters and part of the brain are involved, it is still a widespread and understandable human tendency to ascribe unexplained phenomena, whether beneficial or destructive, to supernatural agency. Even though intellectually we may understand that a mass murderer is not an incarnation of some demonic spirit, nor is he possessed by one, and even if we cannot explain why such a person is utterly lacking in empathy for other human beings, we still often use words like evil, wicked, damned, devilish, satanic, and demonic.

Humans are capable of cruelty and viciousness so extreme in degree or scope that few of us can comprehend it, let alone the motivation behind it. How can we make sense of atrocities like the Holocaust or its equivalents, historical or modern? Of the massacres in Africa, Central Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, to name but a few?