I’m finally getting around to updating my sites and schedules to prep for the release of QUESTLAND on June 22, a novel about a high-tech LARP gone horribly horribly wrong and the literature professor who has to save everyone!

On June 28, 6 pm MT, Old Firehouse Books is hosting an online chat with me and Marjorie Liu, who also has a book coming out, her collection THE TANGLEROOT PALACE.

I’ve working on scheduling other events and even planning some in-person shindigs. Fingers crossed. Check the “Conventions & Signings” link for the latest info!

baby steps

May 7, 2021

This week, I’m reminding myself that 15 minutes of yoga is better than no yoga at all. (Also trying to decide when I’ll feel comfortable going back to the studio I used to go to. Maybe not quite yet, though outdoor yoga should be starting up soon and that might be really nice.)

And 10 minutes of cleaning is better than no cleaning.

And so on.

Have a happy weekend y’all. I figured out my plan for tomorrow’s birding Big Day and I’m excited. Will report back next week.

spring!

May 3, 2021

It’s t-shirt weather today, and I’m LOVING it. This is doing a lot to improve my mood. Mind you, this is Colorado and we’re due for another bout of chilly rain and weather next week. But contrast is good for the soul, I suppose.

Another thing I love about this time of year is watching bird migration. The ospreys are back, reclaiming their nests and laying eggs. All winter, the local ponds hosted big flocks of mergansers and goldeneyes. As of last week, the mergansers are gone, but western grebes and teals have arrived to replace them. The wrens and warblers and orioles should be back soon, as well.

Next week is the Global Big Day, when birders all over the world go out to ID and count birds. I’m looking forward to it, though I haven’t quite figured out my plan yet. I’m going to stay local, but at the same time try to see some old favorite spots in a new light.

state of the week

April 29, 2021

I’m having One of Those Weeks. I got to a point where too many people asked for too many things and I just started crying.

But here’s some insight I’ve taken from this week. This is going to sound goofy, but sometimes I think, “What would a Jedi do? Can I draw on a well of calm in order to move through this with Jedi levels of power and grace?”

The answer is: A real Jedi would have a protocol droid to deal with all this bureaucratic housekeeping bullshit. That’s where that well of calm comes from. I need a protocol droid.

Anyway, things feel like they’re getting back to normal because instead of this feeling like the 400th day of March 2020, we’re all back to, “Holy crap it’s almost May, how did that sneak up on me?”

In the interest of getting more data points out there, I had a pretty noticeable reaction to the J&J vaccine last week. It started about 4-5 hours after getting the shot, like a pretty sudden onset of flu symptoms. You know how on day 5 of being sick, you start to feel better but you’re still all wrung out and your whole body feels like it’s been beaten up and you have no energy? That’s what I had. Lasted for maybe a day and a half, then I was fine. No pain or soreness at the injection site. Anecdotally, I’m hearing about a huge range of reactions, from “nothing at all” to “in bed for three days.” I landed in the middle. An odd and interesting experience. It was weirdly kind of nice to have a reason to just go to bed and not worry about things for a little while.

Meanwhile, it’s been a pretty good week. Spring has sprung, my crocus came up late but they did come up, and we’re due for another spring snow which will be fun.

And I’m working on stuff. I’ve got a whole bunch of new thoughts about the War of 1812, how it seems to have been mostly organized by really incompetent people and it might have gone very differently if that had not been the case. This reading has me thinking about the Star Trek vs. the Expanse models of space battles.

Also, I made chicken pineapple curry last night and it was REALLY GOOD.

The Book of the Kraken

April 6, 2021

So after all my bitching about vaccine envy, I got my shot today. J&J, one and done. Now to find my zen space. Whew.

To make the day even more exciting, my newest short story has gone live at Uncanny Magazine. “The Book of the Kraken” is about the War of 1812 but with a giant squid. Because why not? I hope you enjoy it!

In the category of “where do you get your ideas,” this one has a very specific answer, which is this picture:

Clearly, I needed to write a story about a girl and her squid. It took me a few years to pull it together (my niece is currently twice the age she is here), but I did it.

next research topic…

March 19, 2021

Working on a new thing. I say that a lot, don’t I…

(Image is a book cover: 1812: The Navy’s War, by George C. Daughan)

My library is still closed but has curbside pickup, which is lovely, except that I can’t browse, boo. But I can pick up my books and then pickup my curbside BBQ dinner the next block over and nice food plus new reading makes for a very nice evening indeed.

 

writing retreat recap

March 10, 2021

Time for the report.

From Wednesday to Sunday, I wrote about 15,800 words. A reminder, my usual daily word count is about 1000. So, I did triple what I normally do, got a big chunk of a new novel started, and it felt really good.

Then I wrote zero words on the project on Monday and Tuesday. I just flamed out. That didn’t feel so good.

And this has always seemed to me to be the problem with binge writing, that it’s possible to rack up amazing word counts in a short amount of time, but it’s ultimately unsustainable. In fact, even over the course of those few days, my word count decreased from day to day. It’s just tiring.

I did learn some things about shaking up my schedule and what it takes to write 5000 words in a day — lots of planning, a detailed outline, and breaks. I got those words counts in 3-4 two hour sessions spread across the day, not all at once. I also didn’t watch any TV (except for the last episode of WandaVision) or do any crafting, and I kept Facebook off.

So rather than try to maintain that pace, I might pick a day, once a week or so, to clear the schedule and write. It might be a good way to launch a new project or wrap one up. It’s something I do already — write an entire short story draft in one sitting, or get through a big climactic set of scenes in a novel all at one. But that’s almost always by accident rather than intention. It might be worthwhile attempting big writing sessions by intention.

So yeah, still learning, still trying new things. Keep on keeping on.

 

working working…

March 5, 2021

I’m trying something a little different this weekend. I signed up for a virtual writing retreat. At first, I was just going to take part in the social aspects. But I’ve got a couple of new things I’m working on, and this suddenly seemed like an opportunity: how much word count can I actually accomplish over the five days of the retreat?

Just because I’m not going somewhere different doesn’t mean I can’t shake up my routine. I’m usually not a fan of binge-writing. My slow and steady 500-1000 words a day gets me where I want to go. But what if… what if I just tried something different?

Especially right now, at the one year anniversary of the pandemic turning everything upside down. I’ve been out of sorts and cranky, and I’m not alone. Why not distract myself? Just to see what happens. So this weekend? I am writing. A lot. We’ll see what I can do.

Wish me luck.

 

Another March

March 1, 2021

It’s March. Not quite sure how that happened. There’s this pervasive sense, here in the U.S., that March 2020 never really ended. A hyperawareness that it’s exactly this time last year when everything started unraveling. Even with positive signs like vaccines being available and actually being able to contemplate unpeeling out of this, it still feels like we’re at sea and it’s still tough finding sure footing.

(Confession: Despite the continuing difficulties of it all, I feel genuine glee that even serious news outlets refer to “the Before Times.” The lasting impact of science fiction, y’all.)

I don’t have much insight beyond stating facts. It’s hard to tell what’s me hitting the pandemic wall, and what’s my usual February winter wall. Both together can’t be good, right? I’m just here waiting for spring, waiting for my turn in the vaccine queue, waiting to see what my beta reader says about the experimental novel chapters I just sent him, waiting…

Meanwhile, I saw a golden eagle on my bird walk this morning and that was nice.