Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sneak Peek: Kathryn Jordan's FLICKERS

Katharine Kerr, writing as Kathryn Jordan, has a new book out, available from Amazon.com and the publisher.

Flickers turns its lens on California’s glamorous silent film era, as Victorian civilities are swept away by a bold new century.

Here's a delicious tantalizer for your enjoyment:

The female lead in FLICKERS, Violet Winters, is the daughter of a very rich man, a California “robber baron”, during the early years of the Twentieth Century.  She’s her father’s princess. She can have anything she wants, except Jack Sutter, the working class man she truly loves.  In 1913, her family pressures her into marrying the social-climbing Maury Rediston, and as the time for the wedding draws near, members of both families come to join the couple-to-be at Sueño, the Winters’ family estate in Southern California. Some of those family members have troubles of their own . . .

In the afternoon, Violet was sitting out in the shady part of the terrace with Gertie and Jane, gossiping while they drank lemonade. The drowsy warm sun came through the eucalyptus trees and sparkled on the crystal pitcher and glasses of the outside service, that sat on the bentwood ebony serving-cart. From her chair, Violet could see the hills, golden in the sun, and the dark gash of Barranca Grande. While Gertie told a long and pointless story about shopping in downtown San Francisco, Violet found her mind drifting to Jack and his kisses.
ASo anyway,@ Gertie finished up. AMama got the gold one, and Mrs. Hearst just loved it, so it was all right.@  She paused, glancing up. AOh, here's Maury, Vi.@
Maury walked onto the terrace with a young man strolling after him. The family resemblence was so strong that Violet recognized him as Maury's younger brother, but he was the handsomest man she had ever seen, as different from Maury as a peacock from a hawk. He had dark eyes, wide and deep-set under thick lashes, a soft, sensual mouth, almost feminine, but redeemed by a strong, chiseled jaw. His clothes were beautifully cut, a white flannel suit with a dove-gray vest and tie, and a perfect straw boater, tipped back at just the right angle on his dark hair. Gertie and Jane stared so rudely that Violet feared they=d start giggling.
AI'd like you to meet my brother,@ Maury said. AFrazier Rediston.@
AFrazier?@  The brother gave them all a sunny smile. ADon't let old Maury be his usual stiff-necked self. Call me Tip. Everybody does.@
Before Maury could retort, Tip strolled over to Violet's chair. He caught her offered hand, shook it, then leaned down and kissed her soundly on the cheek.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Robin Wayne Bailey on “Sea of Dreams” in REALMS OF DARKOVER

Realms of Darkover®, the newest Darkover anthology, will be released in May 2016. You can pre-order it at Amazon (and it will be available at other outlets soon). Here’s a contributor interview to whet your appetite!
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of Darkover encompasses many realms, from glacier-shrouded mountains to arid wastelands, from ancient kingdoms to space-faring empires. Now this all-new anthology welcomes old friends and new fans to explore these landscapes of time and place, history and imagination.


Robin Wayne Bailey is the author of numerous novels, including the Dragonkin trilogy and the Frost series, as well as Shadowdance and the Fritz Leiber-inspired Swords Against The Shadowland.  His short fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies with numerous appearances in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword And Sorceress series and Deborah J. Ross's Lace And Blade volumes. Some of his stories have been collected in two volumes, Turn Left To Tomorrow and The Fantastikon, from Yard Dog Books.  He's a former two-term president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and a founder of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.  He's the co-editor, along with Bryan Thomas Schmidt, of Little Green Men - Attack!

Deborah J. Ross: When and why did you begin writing?
Robin Wayne Bailey: It's a cliche for writer to answer this with "When I was a child," but that's pretty much true in my case. I remember writing a poem in third grade -- call it a Hiawatha pastiche, although I wouldn't learn the word "pastiche" for years -- but it impressed the teacher. She made me read it to the class, then to the principal who made me read it before a school assembly, then at a PTA. Then my parents made me read to to relatives. It got to be embarrassing but, on the other hand, I realized, "Hey, an easy road to attention!" So I kept at it with lots of stories and poems.  I started my first novel in what was once called Junior High School, writing a spy novel mostly during study halls.  About sixty pages into it, I turned my back briefly, and somebody stole my work.  In a crazy, utterly dysfunctional family of wildly talented, but self-destructive people, writing became my way of standing out.  Note, I did not say, "staying sane."

DJR: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. What about the world or its inhabitants drew you in?
RWB: Toward the end of high school, already a compulsive science fiction reader, I discovered a book called Darkover Landfall. The idea of a shipload of colonists going off-course and becoming lost to the rest of humanity and having to create their own culture wasn't exactly new to me, but Bradley's handling of it fascinated. I read four or five more Darkover novels after that, but must admit that I eventually drifted away from the series.  But that early paperback edition of Darkover Landfall, now signed by Marion, still resides in an honored spot on my bookshelves.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday Wisdom From Harriet Beecher Stowe

When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you...never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.

Wishing you fortitude for whatever you are struggling with this week.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Revision -- A Path to Better Writing or an Excuse to Never Finish?


“What's new?” I asked my friend, a young(er) writer.

“I finished my book!” she said radiating both relief and excitement.

“Finished, how? Finished, as in rough draft? Revision? Ready to send to your critique group?”

“This is like the eighth revision,” she said. “My group has seen it, in whole or part, many times.” She rolled her eyes. “I was at the point where the only thing to fix were nits, so it was clear that I needed to send it out.”

Although my friend has yet to sell a novel, she has several quite respectable short fiction sales to her credit. More than that, she has acquired an understanding of when revision is helpful and when it is detrimental. In our subsequent discussion, she pointed out that she is a “pantser” (“writing by the seat of your pants”) rather than a planner. With time, she has become better at planning out a writing project, but she still likes the spontaneity of letting the story unfold in unexpected and delightful directions. Hence the need for multiple revisions.

I was like this when I began writing. I had no idea that people outlined stories. When a fellow writer told me that she outlined each scene on a 3 x 5 card before she actually started writing the story, I didn't know what to think. I would just start writing with no idea where the story was going to take me. As a consequence, my stories were riddled with plot holes, inconsistencies, and dead ends.

I had to learn to revise as a matter of survival. I don’t mean tidying up grammar and punctuation. I mean taking apart large portions of the story, writing new text, rearranging other portions, and so forth, until the final version bore little resemblance to my rough draft. Computers have made this much easier than having to retype the whole thing!

Because I often have difficulty discerning the proper point at which to begin a story, in my early years I often had to either add one or more chapters or throw them out. Once I had to discard the first 150 pages of text. It was a good thing that I took to heart the advice to kill my darlings, or I would never have been able to do that and the story might have ended up in a trunk instead of a bookstore shelf.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Barb Caffrey On Writing Fiona n'ha Gorsali…and Her Family, in REALMS OF DARKOVER

Realms of Darkover®, the newest Darkover anthology, will be released in May 2016. You can pre-order it at Amazon (and it will be available at other outlets soon). Here’s a contributor interview to whet your appetite!
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of Darkover encompasses many realms, from glacier-shrouded mountains to arid wastelands, from ancient kingdoms to space-faring empires. Now this all-new anthology welcomes old friends and new fans to explore these landscapes of time and place, history and imagination.


When Deborah J. Ross, esteemed editor of Realms Of Darkover, asked me a few interview questions, I asked her a question in return: "Could I write my answers in conversational style instead?" She told me to go for it, thus, here I am.

I'm thrilled to talk about my character Fiona n'ha Gorsali. She's the most powerful judge Darkover has ever had, and was introduced briefly by Marion Zimmer Bradley herself in The Shattered Chain. MZB introduced Fiona as a judge on the powerful Courts of Arbitration, and gave a brief description—tall, thin, grey-haired, and well-dressed.

When I sat down to write a story for Stars Of Darkover, I decided early on that I wanted to find out more about Fiona. What had happened to put her on the Courts of Arbitration in the first place? So I wrote "At the Crossroads," that showed how Fiona was able to forge a consensus with highborn, lowborn, and Terranan included. Surely something that unusual would warrant that remarkable individual being placed on the Courts of Arbitration, Renunciate or no…and so it transpired.

Then, when Gifts Of Darkover came around, I decided to write about Fiona's parents in "A Problem of Punishment." I knew her mother's name was Gorsali, and that she was a Renunciate; I figured that Fiona's father must've been a judge before her. But who was this man, Dominic macAnndra? As he hazily introduced himself, I found a man of courage and conviction—and also a man who fell in love at first sight, during a conflict, with his eventual freemate (wife), Gorsali.

So, thus far, I'd written about Fiona as a capable, full-fledged adult, and I'd written about her parents. What was left to write about?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday Wisdom From Martha Washington

The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Marella Sands on “Impossible Things” in REALMS OF DARKOVER

Realms of Darkover®, the newest Darkover anthology, will be released in May 2016. You can pre-order it at Amazon (and it will be available at other outlets soon). Here’s a contributor interview to whet your appetite!
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of Darkover encompasses many realms, from glacier-shrouded mountains to arid wastelands, from ancient kingdoms to space-faring empires. Now this all-new anthology welcomes old friends and new fans to explore these landscapes of time and place, history and imagination.


Marella Sands says she was born in a yurt on a windswept plain in Outer Mongolia (thereby preparing her to write stories set in the Hellers), but one especially frigid winter convinced her to move somewhere she could enjoy central heating. These days, she spends her time teaching, traveling, and enjoying life with her husband and pets. She has recently become a fan of cricket and is in giddy anticipation of the next T20 World Cup, which will be held in India in 2016. Besides writing stories for Darkover anthologies, she has three books out from Word Posse, the most recent of which was Restless Bones, an anthology of dark fantasy and horror.

Deborah J. Ross: When and why did you begin writing?
Marella Sands: I was always writing things. Even when I was in trouble as a little kid, I'd write my mother notes about why I was angry and slip them under the door. Writing was always the most natural way for me to express myself.
Reading was also something I took to quite early on. My mother said she never tried to teach me to read; it was just always something I seemed driven to do.
It took me until I was 22 to realize that someone might actually pay me to write, and that the things I'd been doing during my down-time might be worth something (they weren't, actually). It took several more years and a lot of horrible manuscripts before I managed to acquire enough skill at storytelling to start selling my work.

DJR:  Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. What about the world or its
inhabitants drew you in?
MS: I think my dad had a used copy of Hawkmistress, and after he read it, I did. I loved it. From there, I read all the Darkover novels I could get my hands on, but I was always a little disappointed that the Ages of Chaos seemed to be ignored.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday Wisdom From Louisa May Alcott

I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.

Seek resilience and resourcefulness, not insulation.

Friday, March 11, 2016

ToC: The Usual Path to Publication

My essay, "The Magic Phone Call," is among many delicious, terrifying, inspiring stories of how authors managed to "break in" to publication (and no, there is no "usual" way). These have been edited by Shannon Page, and the resulting anthology will be released in early June (and is available for pre-order here.)

I'm in such great company!




Cherie Priest: How I Skidded Sideways Into Publishing
Alma Alexander: Don’t Try This at Home, or, This Can Only Work Once
Mark Teppo: Mapping Uncharted Terrain, or, How I Got Here (Though I’m Not Sure Where “Here” Is)
Laura Anne Gilman: Two Paths
Jim C. Hines: The Goblin’s Curse
Katharine Kerr: That Long Winding Road
David D. Levine: How to Sell a Novel in Only Fifteen Years
K. Tempest Bradford: It All Happened Because of Netscape Navigator
Ada Palmer: The Key to the Kingdom, or, How I Sold Too Like the Lightning
Ken Scholes: My Path to Publication, and My Other Path to Publication
Nancy Jane Moore: The Long Winding Road
Jennifer Brozek: No One True Way
Rhiannon Held: Timeline Key Points
Jo Walton: Not Deluded: How I Sold My First Novel
Chris Dolley: First Sale
Brenda Cooper: With a Little Help from a Poet
Chaz Brenchley: My First Book
Tina Connolly: Going from Short Stories to Novels in 60,000 Easy Words
Randy Henderson: My Finn Fancy Adventure in Publishing
Elizabeth Bourne: The Gypsy Curse
John A. Pitts: My Path to Publication
Mindy Klasky: April Is the Cruelest Month
Amy Sterling Casil: I Was Rejected, Then Sold the Same Story to the Same Editor!
Deborah J. Ross: The Magic Phone Call
Phyllis Irene Radford: My Road to Publishing, or, Tiptoeing Through Mine Fields
Sara Stamey: How I Became a “Real Author”

Trisha Leigh/Lyla Payne: Making It

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rosemary Edghill on “Stormcrow” in REALMS OF DARKOVER

Realms of Darkover®, the newest Darkover anthology, will be released in May 2016. You can pre-order it at Amazon (and it will be available at other outlets soon). Here’s a contributor interview to whet your appetite!
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of Darkover encompasses many realms, from glacier-shrouded mountains to arid wastelands, from ancient kingdoms to space-faring empires. Now this all-new anthology welcomes old friends and new fans to explore these landscapes of time and place, history and imagination.





Deborah J Ross: When and why did you begin writing? (And anything else you’d like to share about yourself and your life.)

Rosemary Edghill: I've always been a storyteller.  As a child (we're talking pre-K here), my favorite game was "Let Me Tell You A Story".  This never really changed.  As I got older I told myself Batman stories, and Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories, and Star Trek stories.  In my late twenties, it was Star Wars stories, and I started writing them down (in fact, my first professional SF sale was a revamped and expanded version of a story that appeared in the fanzine "Skywalker").  From then on, I wrote down my stories instead of telling them.
For me, writing is performing, a way to be actor, director, scriptwriter, and audience all in one.  If something doesn't resonate with me in my position as "audience", I know it isn't going to resonate with the reader, and it's back to the drawing board (or the rehearsal hall).  So while it's true, in one sense, that I spend most of my time alone in a small room staring into a computer screen, in another sense...I am extremely well-traveled.


DJR: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. What about the world or its inhabitants drew you in?

RE: Back in the "olden days", there weren't a lot of people in SF books.  You've probably heard some version of the phrase "Science Fiction is a literature of ideas"--well, with very few exceptions, that was all it was: great ideas presented by cardboard story-people, and you couldn't really imagine any of them being embarrassed, or worried about the state of their love life, or drunk, or...well, pretty much anything except their role in the story.
If this sounds like I'm dissing old-school SF, I'm not.  I've read a lot of the Golden Age stuff, and I still do, and right on down to the present.  Stories about ideas are just fine, and--as a matter of fact--what else is a classic murder mystery but a story of ideas?

But it certainly did mean that the Darkover novels and stories stood out like a white peacock when they arrived on the scene.  They were all about people.  And, like Anne McCaffrey's "Pern", Darkover came with a thin veneer of SF to overlay things and give them respectability, since this was long LONG before Fantasy was a "respectable" publishing category--or even a visible genre.  But my point here is: Darkover was full of PEOPLE.  And other readers must have noticed--and liked--that too, because the books spawned one of the first modern fandoms based on a book series rather than a TV series, and that, in turn, gave rise to newsletters, fanzines, and even a Darkover convention.

So what drew me (and all the rest of us) in?  Darkover was exotic, mysterious, wonderful...and at the same time, the kind of place you could imaging yourself having adventures in.  It was filled both with people you'd like to meet, and people you'd like to be, and even better, the world of Darkover was designed in such a way that it wasn't a single circumscribed setting that the story, the characters, and the readers couldn't venture beyond, but part of a great big Empire of planets, many of which became settings for the stories.  In that sense, Darkover became the gateway into a universe that was not only broad and endless, but very very human.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Shariann Lewitt on "Tainted Meat" in REALMS OF DARKOVER

Realms of Darkover®, the newest Darkover anthology, will be released in May 2016. You can pre-order it at Amazon (and it will be available at other outlets soon). Here’s a contributor interview to whet your appetite!
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of Darkover encompasses many realms, from glacier-shrouded mountains to arid wastelands, from ancient kingdoms to space-faring empires. Now this all-new anthology welcomes old friends and new fans to explore these landscapes of time and place, history and imagination.

Shariann Lewitt is the author of “Tainted Meat,” the cover story for Realms of Darkover (and that amazing owl!) She has published seventeen books and over forty short stories, including “Wedding Embroidery” in Stars of Darkover and “Memory” in Gifts of Darkover. When not writing she teaches at MIT, studies flamenco dance, and is accounted reasonably accomplished at embroidery. Her expertise with birds arises in part from being the devoted servant of two parrots.

Deborah J. Ross: When and why did you begin writing?
Shariann Lewitt: I always knew I wanted to be a writer--and an astronaut.  Only my eyes were awful (I have since had Lasik and it is wonderful!) so astronaut was out of the question. The first purchase I ever made with my own money was an SF novel, and it was all over from there.  I started reading Darkover not terribly long after.

DJR: What about Darkover or its inhabitants drew you in?
SL: Darkover really spoke to me.  It had magic and adventure and an alien world to explore, but it also had science and technology. Above all, it had women who did things, but they had to fight for their right to do so.  When I was young, stories, especially SF/Fantasy, featured either active males, or feminist utopias where the women were simply accepted. Which sounded nice, but not at all like my life. Darkover felt--real.  And gave me role models and support during difficult times.  When I reread the books as an adult, they stood up.  So many of my favorites hadn't that I worried about going back to stories and characters I remembered so fondly.  I was thrilled to discover that they were rich and nuanced in ways I hadn't been able to quite understand as a youngster, and the books were just as satisfying for different reasons.