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My great big new fantasy novel

Publishing a new book is always a cause for celebration, and especially for this one.

Queen of the Deep is a book that was seven years in the writing, and seeing it in print is quite a thrill; I believe it’s the first time that I’ve laughed with pleasure on seeing one of my books. Today I’m reflecting on the long journey it made from the first kernel of an idea to a 348 page novel.


I sat on this very couch seven winters ago and wondered where my story would take place. For me, a story usually begins with place, because of the allure I find in world building. I love stories set in an intriguing world, a wondrous, even numinous, locale. But where would I go next? Then I imagined an ocean, and a great ocean liner like the Queen Mary. Or you know, the one that sank.

I began to explore the Palazzo, a palace of a ship . . . on an alien ocean . . . with a theatrical cast of characters conjured from the mind of a child raised in Minnesota who had to play in the basement when there was too much snow. . . That would be Janet Zabrinski, later the aspiring actress Jane Gray, or possibly a SF writer who almost became an actress.


This was actually my first fantasy novel, after ten science fiction books. With Queen, I was testing the waters of fantasy, seeing where I could take an untraditional story with magic at its core. Some of you may remember me reading from this novel at cons past. Yes, I was testing it out! I listened to feedback, and I kept shaping the story. Months became years as I turned my attention to other projects, always circling back to Queen with fresh insights. When I finally finished the story, I looked around to find that the publishing world was undergoing a profound change.

Indie publishing looked like it had a place in the changing ecology of publishing. Traditional publishing was still a force of nature–but other life forms clearly existed and were thriving. Certainly the economics of indie publishing were intriguing to me. But would readers find my new novel if I put it out there myself? I decided to experiment with this novel. But how do you even begin?

Heroics and Helpers

You begin by vowing to learn how indie publishing works. You tiptoe into the new landscape and see what others are doing. You keep your eyes wide open, knowing that nobody knows where this new wild west of publishing will end up. No guarantees. But then, were there ever?

Despite all the talk about eBooks, e-retailing and book discovery, I was a rank beginner. No longer, I must say! But I did rely on fellow authors for outright favors and pointing the way. They recommended stuff, critiqued covers, proofread, and answered endless questions about things like keywords, pricing, ISBNs and marketing. Thank you, Trish McCallan! And Sharon Shinn, David Marusek, Amy Atwell, Terry Persun, Jim Thomsen, Leeann Smith, Elaine DeCostanzo, and Mike Resnick. And Frauke Spaneth, for my gorgeous cover. Thanks for believing in me and helping this book go out on its journey into the world!


So, today I’m celebrating. The book is available in trade paper and, for a limited time, an exclusive Kindle edition. Raise a toast! To um. . . well, how about to Jane Gray, who started out as make-believe and became real in fiction, and who learned about love, perseverance and the stars?

For more details, including story description, please click here.

Best to you all. And happy reading, whatever the books may be!


PS: the Write on the River Conference in Wenatchee on May 15, 16 and 17 will have several sessions on indie publishing. Watch for the line up here. Registration opens January 20 for members, February 1 for nonmembers. Agent Editor appointments available!


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