Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Best 2013 things

The year was amazing. Hard to pick the best things, but I’ll try:

Best literary novelBeautiful Ruins, Jess Walter.

amer elsewhere



Best SFFAmerican Elsewhere, Robert Jackson Bennett

Best first word from a child: warthog

Best sight: Early December in my garden: a red rose frozen solid and perfectly unfurled.


Best book store: A Book For all Seasons in Leavenworth, WA; here I am at Indie Authors First, Small Business Saturday at the store, handselling other people’s books.

Best TV series: Foyle’s War

Best espionage: The Spies of Warsaw, Alan Furst


Best trip: San Diego for son’s wedding at the lovely Bishop School in La Jollabendict hall

Best historical: Benedict Hall, Cate Campbell

Best best-seller: Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

Best big conference: Worldcon, San Antonio

Best little conference: Write on the River, Wenatchee WA (OK, biased!)

Best book cover: My lovely A Thousand Perfect Things (OK, biased again!)9781624670954

Best unexpected nice thing: The Ingram sales rep said he Loved A Thousand Perfect Things

T.BrooksBest reading event: With Larry Brooks in Portland, SFWA Reading series



Best Interview: Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing with John Dodd and Timothy Ward




Sept, 2013 podcast interview from John Dodds and Tim Ward. My decision to write fantasy after 10 SF novels; my main character’s dilemma of love vs. ambition and what it says about women today; finding peace in the writing life. – See more at:

On incurably loving the beginnings of novels

I’m on page 147 of my new novel in progress. Those of you who’ve been following my posts may wonder why I’ve added so few pages to my previous number.

Water Lily Pond Water Irises - Monet

Water Lily Pond Water Irises – Monet

Well. The short, blithely cheerful answer is: I’ve had to recast, rewrite. It wasn’t quite working. Now I believe it is, thank goodness. But nevertheless I’m only on page 147.

Not that I mind being in the first half of the WIP. Not at all. I rather wish I had seen the issues ahead of time and not had to change the structure–but oh, it’s been a lovely time of re-connecting with my story, of finding it’s true roots. Incurably, I love the beginnings of novels. And this is the subject of today’s post: the mental state of being at the front-end of the novel.

Other authors do not love the beginning. Mary Higgins Clark has said:

“The first four months of writing a book, my mental image is scratching with my hands through granite.” Read More…

The Inner Dragon

The hardest part of the writing life isn’t about digging up a worthy story, finding time to write, polishing your prose until it shines or even, these days, publishing. That stuff is hard, sure. (And kind of fun if you’re that type.) No, I think the hardest part is the inner stuff. Motivation. Attitude. Clarity.

These inner states are, in the writing life, assailed by your own personal dragon. He loves you, honestly he does. He’s a st-george-and-the-dragonpart of you, after all. But that doesn’t mean he’s right all the time, or even at all. In any case he’s here to stay.

I don’t have too much advice here–like most authors, I slog through that stuff the best I can. No Buddha-like moments of now-I-get-it, or sage platitudes of how to Really Get It.

The best I can do is list some of the things I’ve been dealing with in last week. I assure you, none of this is new or temporary. It’s perennial. Purpose here, besides getting it off my chest, is to assure some of you who are new in the field that you’ve got company when the inner dragon breathes fire. Read More…

Mini reviews: SF, Historical, Horror

The Darwin Elevator Jason M. Hough


darwin elev

The world has one outpost free of the plague. It’s in Darwin, Australia, where a mysterious and alien-built space elevator allows humanity to keep technology alive in a devolving world. This exciting premise is fleshed out with memorable characters and a  hard-driving and edgy plot. I haven’t read much science fiction lately. This one reminds me why I love it.



bendict hall


Benedict Hall Cate Campbell

It is Seattle in the 1920’s. The Great War is over, but is it? Returning soldiers carry wounds on their bodies and in their hearts, none more so than Preston Benedict. His hatred of his sister Margot and her success as a woman doctor leads to a conspiracy that drives the book’s tense plot. The story brims with fascinating high society glimpses and a superb Downton Abbey-like cast.


amer elsewhere

American Elsewhere Robert Jackson Bennett

I’ve never read such a smart, original, nuanced horror novel! Bennett has a phenomenal mastery of suspense, dialogue and characterization. Despite the slow-build first quarter, the characters and smart writing kept me hooked. This author’s command of scenes is superb. A scary thriller with literary sensibilities. Don’t read it alone.




Introverts and the Doldrums

This post is a repeat of one in my Writing for Introverts series. (To read them all, see “Blog Categories” in the side bar.) I’m repeating this one (#3) because introversion is on my mind this week. Next week I’m going to the World Science Fiction Convention, an event designed by extroverts to terrorize introverts. So, if you’re going to that con, you won’t want to miss my dandy presentation Lone Star Con for Introverts at 6 p.m. on Friday.


In the opening installment of my series on Writing 101 for Introverts, I explained what introversion is and is not, and why we don’t need to be ashamed of being a tad more inner directed than people for whom a room full of people holding cocktails is nirvana.  Part 1. Part 2.

This installment’s on doldrums. You know, the garden variety, I-don’t-feel-like-writing this week (and in more severe cases this month and worse.) You don’t have the energy you tell yourself. You are not inspired. Oh really? I think there is often something else at work, namely, those under-the-surface emotions that sabotage our writing. Such as:

  • discouragement about how the last story sold or isn’t selling
  • resentment of the industry which is so vile and unfair plus random
  • (related to above) incredulity and jealousy of how so-in-so is selling (plus his perfect life and that he mixes beautifully at cocktail parties)
  • a shrewd analysis of how your writing sucks
  • embarrassment over the total absence of anything professional to Twitter about
  • fury and sorrow that your agent does not answer your emails
  • and so on, into the depths of (your name here)’s true psychological state

Not a Malady of Just Introverts

Fortunately we are not alone, so we don’t right here have another reason to feel inferior to extroverts. But how does the other side deal with the doldrums? Read More…