♣ I’m back. So much going on I forgot I hadn’t been updating this. But I sort of Do suspect Word Press lost my posts here; surely I didn’t forget for almost a Whole Year? See, it’s this kind of thing that makes people think they may have a terrible memory disease coming on.
But as to busy, my husband and I put our house on the market and moved to a new one. Much smaller. I used to have a yard of almost an acre. Now it’s more like one half of a closet you have to share with a roommate. The new yard does have a gorgeous bush of orange roses, or otherwise I definitely would not have moved. (Still in Wenatchee, if you wondered.) Everything is going splendidly except for my cat Winston. He’s been fighting with the cat next door (who I call Pizza Face, for the big splotches on his chin and one side of his nose.) PF has owned our yard and every yard around for years and W is getting the worst of the skirmishes. There is a big dog on the other side who glares a lot and has a woof that sounds like godzilla gargling rocks. W is surrounded by foes. I feel terribly guilty about all this. Hope they all come to terms!
My other big news: I finished my novel and sent it off to my agent. He loves it and so do I. Tentatively called Fyman’s Hope, dystopian science fiction. It’s about the last outpost left on earth, a walled city ruled by an AI called the Silver. Proud of myself for finishing it, as I did less planning with this one, and there were times when I didn’t exactly see a way forward. Which can be unnerving. But I should have more faith in the little grey cells, because they Always come through on plot, as long as I’m not spending too much time thrashing and worrying. So if you’re a writer, that’s a thing to take note of. Thrashing and worrying can send your plot scurrying away.
I’m now working up a new website. It’s been hinted that my site is a bit dated (the author is always the last to know) and badly enough that the architecture is, um, crumbling? That got my attention, so watch for some big changes this summer.
Stay calm and carry on, and so shall I.
♣ I’m excited today to be on page 140 of my work-in-progress, a science fiction novel. Seems like this summer during the great Hunkering Down, I’d have so much time to write, but! I have a huge garden and it has gotten all rambunctious on me: raspberries threatening to take over the asparagus (like Resistance Is Futile), perennials gasping for lack of water and then dying from too much, the lovely ground cover suddenly choking out the penstemons, and the roses . . . Well, you get the picture. Chaos. But as to the novel, someone was hoping it would be set in the universe of a short story of mine they loved (Castoff World, about a girl living on on a big garbage patch in the Pacific), but no, it’s a about machine intelligence, and that’s all I can say. Except that I’m struggling with the name, but I’m thinking of calling it The Renumbering, or even The Owls of Bulwerk. There are other names and I’m thinking of asking my newsletter list to vote on them. And if so inclined, here’s the link to join . . . The good thing about title advice is that one doesn’t need to know a thing about the book, because it either hooks on its own or doesn’t. And if the title is apt, well, the reader doesn’t know that until they’ve read the book.
I’m giving two live online classes this fall, one on pacing (Move Along, Folks) ad the other on good writing advice that often goes astray (Six Slippery Sins.) I’m starting to really enjoy these webinars. Maybe I’m just that desperate for the company of writers, but there’s something appealing about Not having to travel, and having fewer students, so more interaction. These are two courses for conferences, so you need to register for at least a day of the conference. Here are the descriptions and such deets as I have at this time. Speaking of conferences, I’ll be missing World Fantasy this year. I’ll actually be traveling then . . . or I hope I’ll be able to–driving to southern Cal and back.
I’ve been thinking lately about that film option I got for my Dark Talents trilogy. Well, much of Hollywood is closed down, so I Really don’t expect to hear that it will come to fruition. Super bad timing. But you can still read the books at least!
Stay calm and carry on, and I shall as well.
♣ OK, I’m giving two webinars this month. I’d so much rather do classes in person, but for now, on line it will have to be. I’ve been doing some webinars during the Great Hunkering and it’s been good to see some folks for a change, even if on Zoom. Read to the end for details. I’ve also been writing a novel, and about ready to tear out my hair on the plotting. But I believe I’ve finally wrestled it to the ground. Happy to report I’m writing real pages, consistently and making decent progress. Meanwhile my garden flourishes. I’ll be posting pictures of my roses on Facebook this month. I have taken refuge in gardening, something I’ve always loved.
The webinars: Mapping the Labyrinth: Plotting the Novel. Next Saturday, June 13, 9:30-11:30 AM. Details and registration here. Some of you may have attended this workshop at conferences when I called it The Magic of Plotting, just to be clear.
My new class is Move Along, Folks: Pacing in the Novel. Saturday, June 27, 9:30-11:30 AM. Details and registration here. These should be a bit of fun. Check them out. (A few scholarships are available compliments of The Rambo Academy of Wayward Writers) Stay calm and carry on, friends, and I shall as well!
♣ Well, the virus. Last month my husband and I needed to get home from Southern CA where we had spent a month. So we drove up to Eastern Washington at the end of March. I packed food in an ice chest and we almost got turned down by motels along the way (but thank goodness, not quite.) The roadways were strangely untraveled, even freeways except for caravans of trucks. Beautiful drive through the eastern slopes of the Sierra, though. Some motels would bring to-go breakfasts to our room, a much appreciated accommodation. It’s good to be home.
On the writing front: Me and some writer friends like Cat Rambo, K.C. Carter and Jason Brick have a story bundle give-away this week. My contribution to the bundle is Worlds Near and Far, my SF collection that came out last year. More info here. (Ends Friday April 17.) Also, I am s-l-o-w-l-y making progress on my new novel. I always knew I was a slow writer, but this past year has been ridiculous. Just Real Life making it hard to focus my attention. However, I do Love my new story! And sorry, per usual I don’t talk about WIP. A writer’s superstition I guess, because there’s no convincing reason not to share a bit!
AND: I’m doing two free webinars in next three weeks! First one is Sat April 18. Check them out here.
Stay well and carry on. I know many people are suffering, so let’s keep our compassion in high gear, is my thought.
♣ I’m thrilled to announce that my fantasy espionage trilogy, The Dark Talents novels, have been optioned for film! This has been in the works for a few months now, and at last I can let the word out. I’d been thinking how the story would suit a film or a TV series, because the books read a bit like suspense novels, even though they’ve been marketed as historical fantasy. And now this. So great news, but we’ll see if anything comes of it. A whole bunch of threads have to come together for an actual production to be viable, of course. But still, a film option for three books. Now . . . who’s going to play Kim Tavistock?
♣ Great news, Amazon has selected At the Table of Wolves for a Kindle Daily Deal on Wednesday, November 20th. The eBook will be reduced to $1.99, one day only. Hoping other retailers may match that price. At the Table of Wolves is the first book of the Dark Talents Trilogy, so this is a great chance to check out the story and get in on the adventures of Kim Tavistock.
♣ I’m accepting applications for my 3rd annual spring novel seminar. Six students, seven weeks, Wenatchee WA. I always wonder if in this neck of the woods I can find six novelists who can commit to the schedule. I wonder how I’m going to find the time for that matter! (Deadline December 30.)
♠ Watch my blog and/or newsletter for the announcement of a 99¢ sale on one of my novels in early October. (Sign up here for newsletter, if so inclined!)
♣ I’m settling down to a new novel project at last. I’ve been torn between (among) several ideas, one fantasy and several SF, and took stabs at a few pages of each, finally deciding none of them was quite right. I reworked one of my concepts, and this MAY be the one. I’ll tell more about it in the coming months. (Yeah, I’m pretty tight-lipped about works in progress, mostly because of a sense that if you tell your ideas, you don’t feel so compelled to Write them.)
♠ I’ll be in Edmonds, WA the weekend of October 5 & 6 for the Write on the Sound conference. This is about a 2.5 hour drive from Wenatchee, where I live (Eastern Washington) and it’ll be great to be back where I spent so many years of my life. I’m teaching a couple of classes . . . HOWEVER, I believe WOTS is sold out now, but check it out for next year. They were my inspiration for starting the Write on the River conference (now year-round writing organization.) Thank you WOTS!
♠ Hurrah! My collection, Worlds Near and Far is now available in eBook at most e-retailers ($2.99) and in print on Amazon ($6.99). Here’s the blurb: Close encounters with avatars, alien life, evolved space ships, and a new green world where metal bows down to the seeds of time. (And yes, there is a butterfly in one story.) I LOVE this cover!
♣ Having fun putting together my second short story collection. (See March news for first.) I’m worried that these collections are taking me away from novel-writing, but I’ve been meaning to do collections for all my previously published short stories for some time, and I figure there’ll Never be an ideal time, so by this summer was my goal to put up my short fiction in collections. Yes, I’m publishing them myself, and making sure they’re up at all e-retailers, not just amazon. (Yipes, for a steep learning curve!) BTW, if you have an interest in putting up your own work, I’ve found a dandy source of inexpensive artwork by a fellow who’ll also design the cover text. Site is GoOnWrite.com.
♣ I’ve got a new workshop! I’m excited to put together a class on some of the beginning errors I’m seeing in manuscripts that I review. (Not that I critique manuscripts very often; but I do in my seminar (see March news, below) and sometimes I offer critiques when I participate in SFF cons or mainstream conventions. Anyway, the workshop is called Seven Slippery Sins, and it will deal with writing maxims that may be helpful but also may lead us astray. (Therefore slippery!) I’ll debut this workshop at Willamette Writers in August and at Write on the Sound in Edmonds, WA in October.
♣ My science fiction short story collection is now available in paper. I got to hold my first collection in my hands this month–I am so proud of that slim volume!
♣ I’ve been quite busy this month with my writing seminar, Creating the Novel. I call it a seminar, because I limit this annual spring event (OK, this is the only the second year) to 6 students. We meet bi-weekly, and cover novels from A to Z. Or maybe skipping the vowels, so B to Z, because I’m always sure I’m missing some dreadfully important aspects and ruining writers for life. I’m sort of kidding. But students expect me to be an expert after 15 novels, and I keep thinking, are you kidding? I know someone who’s written 40 novels!
♣ I’ve been on a reading binge of Bernard Cornwall books–you know Sharpe’s Rifles, and the Saxon tales. I do love historical fiction; thus: my Dark Talents trilogy which was so much fin to write! (Although I had written one other historical fantasy, A Thousand Perfect Things.)
♣ My eBook short story collection is now published at all on-line retailers! The title is Dystopia, Seven Dark and Hopeful Tales. Offered at a special price of $2.99. This is my first collection, bringing together stories previously published in anthologies all the way back to 2003. I expect to bring it out in paperback in a few weeks. I’m excited to see some of my favorites brought together in one place!
♣ Nest of the Monarch is coming out in two months, and I’ve got a few signings and conferences planned. (This is book 3 of the trilogy.) Check them out here, but one that is still up in the air is Willamette Writers Conference. I’ll add it if confirmed. Monarch is on pre-order, BTW!
♣ I am housebound, along with my cat Winston. We’ve had a foot of snow and more on the way. This IS Eastern Washington, so we live in snow country here, but even by local standards, it’s been a prodigious snowfall. Temperatures in the teens for two weeks. The cat screams to go out, but when I open the door, he balks. Guess we’ll spend our time on the couch with blanket, computer and To Do list. Actually, it’s all pretty cozy and I’m getting tons done. As for what I’m writing now, I am on the fence between several stories that are calling me. This is a rather unusual situation for me, and it’s throwing me off my stride. Winston is impatient with this sort of angst. Must make a decision.
♠ Last month I had two or three days basking in the thrill of a starred review from Publishers Weekly for Nest of the Monarch (coming April 16). A great review is always cause for a toast, but you can’t live on reviews–and in the end, I’m not sure what lasting impression they make. So I’m over it, but nevertheless thrilled with the critical reception the Dark Talents trilogy has had.
♠ I’m publishing a collection of short stories. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s called Dystopia: Seven dark and hopeful tales. These are my favorite previously published post-apocalyptic and dystopian short stories. Sometimes an author’s short work is hard to find, so I thought it would be fun to publish it all together. Watch for it soon at your favorite online retailer.
♠ I’ll be giving a 6-week novel seminar this spring in Wenatchee WA where I live. Sometimes I wonder if I do aspiring authors a favor by encouraging them to get in this business! But who am I to say who might have a glorious career waiting in the wings? It’s also something of a relief to get out of my own head and work with other writers. And I enjoy how teaching challenges my assumptions about Story and what makes one tick.