music for Bannerless

June 28, 2017

I’ve talked about this before, that while the Kitty novels all have comprehensive playlists, most of my other books just have one inspirational or unifying theme song.  This is also true of Bannerless.  It’s a song that popped up on one of my Pandora playlists, and every time it did, particularly while I was writing the book, it struck into my heart.  It was so evocative and haunting, and seemed to capture exactly the tone I wanted with the novel.  By the time I was wrapping up the final revisions, I had purchased the entire album it came from and set it on repeat. But this song, the first track on the album, remained The One. If this ever becomes a TV show, I imagine this in the opening credits.

Dead Can Dance’s “The Arrival and the Reunion,” from the album Aion.

Bannerless is due out July 11.



June 21, 2017

My review of “Colossal” is live at Lightspeed! To recap: I really liked this story about a woman who is also a monster trying to do the right thing.

This week, along with wrapping up the next draft of the sequel to Bannerless (it’s finally coming together…), I’m prepping for the Locus Awards Weekend, where I’ll be taking part in all the usual festivities (including seeing if “That Game We Played During the War” wins the award for short story!), but also teaching half of the writers workshop, along with Connie Willis.

I’m planning on teaching about voice, which it’s said can’t actually be taught, so this is something of an experiment. We’ll see how that goes!  Here are a few of the books I’m drawing on for examples. (I won’t use all of these, but I wanted to have a selection to pick and choose from.)

I’m revising the sequel to Bannerless. (Bannerless, due out in less than a month! Read the first chapter here!)

This is the second major revision. The first was after completing the messy first draft, to make sure everything hangs together, that the plot works like it should, to implement all those changes I realized I needed to make only after I finished the whole thing. This second revision is in response to comments from my first reader, in this case my agent. His comments were good, and zeroed in on the biggest issue, which was basically a matter of intensity:  the overall structure of the novel is fine, but it needs more.  More plot, more connections, more implications, bigger stakes.  It’s a simple comment, but kind of huge from a revision standpoint.

This sort of feedback is pretty typical for me and my writing. I need multiple drafts, because I spend that first draft getting down the structure, but then I tend not to fill it with enough stuff to make the book really pop. And I usually need a first reader to point that out to me. So, it’s on to the next big draft.

This revision is going slowly, slower than I like. It feels different from previous revisions. Usually, I feel like I’m moving scenes around, messing with cause and effect, picking a few big story beats to work on. Big picture stuff. This one, I’m just about rewriting the whole thing. I’m going through it chapter by chapter, re-writing entire conversations, putting in whole other levels of meanings. Two characters are now twin sisters, when they weren’t before. That one character with the ax now has a personality just aggressive enough to suggest he’d use that ax on someone. That mysterious lurker is lurking a whole lot more.

I’m not moving scenes around. My original story structure is solid. But holy cats I’m shoving a lot more story into it. At least I hope I am. I want the finished book to feel more intense and ominous. The next stage, it goes to the editor, and we’ll see what he says about it.

I still don’t have a title on this one that everyone likes. Argh.


June 7, 2017

Another busy week.

Redshift has done a radio show style dramatization of my story “Crazy Rhythm,” about the convergence of World War I and silent movies.

June’s Lightspeed has my long review of Colossal! You can buy the issue now, or it goes live in a couple of weeks!

Behind the Mask, an anthology of superhero stories, reprints my story “Origin Story,” about a woman who recognizes a supervillain bank robber as her long-ago high school boyfriend.

Argh, so many things!

Sunday was author Ed Bryant’s memorial service. Ed was an institution in the Denver area, a huge supporter of all things science fiction and horror, a founder of writer workshops — He was everywhere, and the word everyone keeps using is ubiquitous. The memorial was full of people telling the same stories about his presence at conventions, his work as a writer and reviewer, and his support for new writers. He was a great cheerleader for my work, and I’ll never forget that. MileHi Con is going to be very strange without him.


Wonder Woman day!

June 2, 2017

I’ve been discombobulated all week, so I ducked out this morning to take a walk at a nearby pond — and logged twenty bird species! Including a new-to-me osprey nest that I hadn’t seen before! And like six great blue herons having big dinosaur fighting matches for some reason! Seriously, those guys were all over the place.

So I’m feeling much better now.

Now I just need to get some work done before heading out to Wonder Woman tonight.  I’m thinking part of my bad mood this week is anticipation. Wanting so much for this movie to be good but not really sure what I’m in for. When people like me who grew up on the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman say we’ve been waiting for this movie for 40 years, we’re not kidding. I’m trying not to get so emotional, but it’s hard. Argh.

Oh hey, here’s the Boulder Fairgrounds osprey nest. Three chicks, doing great!  Woohoo!


misc. and sundry

May 8, 2017

So last week turned into “I finished a draft of the book so therefore I must do all the things I’d been putting off while I was focused on finishing the book.” It did not go well and I got a little stressed out. But after a mini-break on Saturday and an hour in the hot tub, I did All the Things on Sunday.  Which felt great right up until I tried getting through my sewing pile, and the serger stopped cooperating, and it was 10 pm and I realized I couldn’t figure it out right then and it was time to collapse and read a book. (Bernard Cornwall’s The Last Kingdom, since I like the show so much. The book is EVEN BETTER.)

Today. I’ll finish the sewing today.

And then I’ve been thinking about Legion, most of which I’ve seen twice at this point, and Mr. Robot, and how similar their storytelling techniques are, postmodern and surreal. But they both also have main characters with pretty profound mental illnesses. But the shows aren’t about their illnesses. They’re about all these other things, with characters who happen to have mental illnesses.  I love that.

Okay. Gotta knock some things off the to do list. It never ends. And that’s okay.


it’s a draft!

May 1, 2017

It’s a draft! The rough draft of Bannerless #2 is off to a first reader. I’m already making notes for the next revision, so it’s not technically finished yet. But it’s a coherent entity now, which is a big step.

This is one where I changed a bunch of names after I had finished writing. And it’s weird, because I think I knew the whole time the names weren’t working, but I didn’t want to take the time to think of new ones. Once it was finished, I could. So I changed them. (Thank goodness for search and replace.)

Like Bannerless, this is a murder mystery. Initially, I named the murder victim Hope. This led to a book full of phrases like “Hope is dead.” “Who killed Hope?” “What happened to Hope?” “Hope is gone.” And so on. I’m sure it has nothing to do with recent current events. At any rate, that name absolutely had to change.