books everywhere

November 20, 2019

I’ve got a bunch of books on my coffee table at any given moment. Just stuff I’m going over and want to have on hand. Or stuff I want to go over, or keep meaning to look at, and so on. This is also a pretty good snapshot of what’s happening in my brain most of the time. Which is why I’m usually distracted by five or ten or twenty different things. I don’t really mind so much. I usually manage to get stuff done, and I’m never bored.

Here’s what’s currently on my coffee table:

Marvelocity, Alex Ross. My favorite comic artist’s retrospective of his work with Marvel heroes, plus talk about his journey as an artist.

The Company They Keep, Diana Pavlac Glyer.  An academic examination of collaboration between the various members of the Inklings.

Jane Austen In Style, Susan Watkins. Survey of the fashion, culture, and manners of the English Regency period. (Yes, I want to write more Regency werewolf stories.)

Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook, Ian Brodie. For possible New Zealand trip.

Respect the Spindle, Abby Franquemont. Because I’m trying to actually learn more about spinning rather than just doing it.

Handspindles, Bette Hochberg. Ditto.

The Book of Kells. The guidebook from the Trinity Library exhibit, just because.

Celtic Heritage, Alwyn Rees and Brinley Rees. Still in absorbing mode from various early Ireland research.

Early Celtic Art in Ireland, Eammon P. Kelly. Ditto.

This will probably all change in a couple of months.



A little context

November 15, 2019

Now that Badlands Witch is out…  That’s the reason I took that sudden quick research roadtrip to South Dakota last June. And another post here. I really like travel, I like research, and South Dakota is a day’s drive away, so I just did it.  A bunch of what I saw ended up in the story, so it was really worthwhile. Even getting the tedious drive into the story made the trip worth it.

I did the research trip to Donner Pass for Dark Divide back in 2015, which tells you just how long I was working on that story.

And I seem to be systematically sending Cormac and Amelia around to various National Forests for their adventures. Maybe for the next one I should check my list of where I want to travel and make sure to set the story there…

Here is Deadwood, from the vantage of the Mt. Moriah Cemetery.

writing novellas

November 7, 2019

Have I talked yet about writing novellas, and how novellas have suddenly become a really big deal for me?  In 2019 – 2020, I’ll have published (just a sec, let me count) six new novellas. Prior to 2019, I think the number of novellas I published, in total, was three. (If you count Refuge of Dragons as a novella — it’s at about 41,000 words, which is technically novel length, but it feels like a novella to me.)

So what happened? Why am I suddenly writing a ton of novellas when I didn’t before?

Part of it is market forces. When I first started writing and submitting stories, I really only knew of three major markets that published novellas — the digest-sized SF&F magazines. And they generally printed one each month, and you’d be competing with folks like Connie Willis for those slots. So I just didn’t write novellas at all. Four to six thousand word short stories seemed to be my sweet spot and plenty of markets would publish those, so in a pure numbers game it made sense to focus on that.

A lot’s changed since then. E-books have made novellas viable on both the traditional and self-pub fronts. I look at what Martha Wells did with the Murderbot Diaries, what Lois McMaster Bujold is doing with the Penric and Desdemona stories — building a big following with these nuggets of stories put out on a regular basis — and I think that’s great. Audio has also become a huge market for novellas.

The other part of it is creative frustration. I’ve talked about the Year of Stalled Projects, when I worked on a bunch of stuff that I had to move to the back burner for various reasons. 2018 was also a bit of a creative stall-out for me. One of the things I did at the end of 2018 was go back to that list of stalled projects from 2015 — and realize that maybe some of the projects I had thought were novels were actually novellas. One of those 3/4 finished novels? I streamlined it and got Dark Divide.  “Gremlin,” which appeared in Asimov’s SF earlier this year, was an idea from my novel file that I decided might be better served as a novella.  The Ghosts of Sherwood (due out next spring) was also an idea I had tucked away for years and years until I decided if I couldn’t get a novel out of it, maybe I could try a novella. And it worked.

I don’t have a novel out in 2019, and it’s looking like I might not have one out in 2020 (but there’s one finished and in the hopper, so we’ll see).  But novellas have saved me. They’re faster to write than novels, but they still offer the satisfaction of big stories with multiple threads. It’s kind of the best of both worlds:  instant gratification and meaty storytelling.  I may be taking a break on the novel front, but I’m still working and still getting my stories out there, which feels great.

Here’s the list:

Gremlin (Asimov’s SF)

Dark Divide

Badlands Witch (due out next week!)

El Conquistador tel Tiempo (Part of The Immortal Conquistador, due out next spring)

The Ghosts of Sherwood

The Heirs of Locksley


old stories made new

October 30, 2019

A couple of stories for you! One of the great things the internet has done is made it possible to keep older stories alive. In pre-internet days, you’d publish a story in a magazine and it would often just vanish. Magazines tended to be kind of ephemeral, and it was next to impossible to find old stories, or find ways to get them to new readers.

Well, that’s totally changed. For example:

My latest story on Curious Fictions is “The Art of Fly Fishing in Low Gravity.” This only ever appeared in the 2014 FenCon Program Book. Now, everyone can read it. If you feel like subscribing to my page or dropping coffee money in the tip jar, it’s much appreciated!

Drabblecast has done a full cast recording — with appropriate music! — of my story “1977,” which first appeared in the fundraising anthology Ravens in the Library. And now it’s out in the world, in a new form, for everyone. I confess, I really like this one — it’s all about disco and time travel, and it’s just so goofy and I can just picture it all so clearly.



autumn into winter

October 24, 2019

Here on the Colorado Front Range we had a hard freeze before the leaves really got a chance to change color. They just shriveled up and fell, like that. Total bummer. Last night we had our second snow of the season, and there’s one week left in October, which means if I’m going to knit holiday presents I really ought to get started. This year dragged so slowly, until right about now, when it seems to be on a hard burn for the end.

I’ve been badly oversleeping. I need Daylight Savings to end so the sun will hit my window earlier and I’ll actually haul myself out of bed. This is part of why I can never have a real job ever again.

I’m wrapping up a big rewrite of a novel I’ve been working on off and on for years. It’s under contract, this one will actually get a release date. I’m holding off on saying the title because we’re still working on that.

I’m already thinking about what I’m working on next, and then what I’m working on after that, which is probably more than my brain can really handle and I ought to just take a nap…. Argh, this time of year….


bestseller buddies

October 18, 2019

I’m one of those people who’s often bemused by the very specific categories Amazon uses to generate bestseller lists. It’s a nice little egoboo for a writer, but does it mean anything? I don’t know.

But it does occasionally lead to something that makes me smile, like seeing my book right next to my friend’s book on the same list:  in this case, a new James S.A. Corey novella coming out soon.

Half the rest of that list is bear shapeshifter romance. Apparently that’s a thing?


and now I’m sick…

October 7, 2019

I have a cold. I’m not surprised, between a summer full of grief, and of things breaking down, I feel like I’d been holding it off by sheer will power until now. And the timing is pretty good — I’m briefly between trips and things. So, time for All the Tea and taking lots of naps.

While still trying to work a bit because of this deadline.

Meanwhile, here’s your reminder that MileHi Con is coming up in just under two weeks, and I will be there!