state of the desk

September 29, 2020

One thing that’s happened over the summer is I’ve become a lot more relaxed about the blog. Sometimes I post, sometimes I don’t, and that’s okay.

I took a Sanity Roadtrip last week, and went camping in Mesa Verde National Park. Socially distant wilderness. Tore up my foot on a long-ass hike. It was great. Pics later once I’ve had a chance to go through them (of the park, not my injured foot). I wanted to clear my head a bit, and I think it worked. It was summer when I left and full autumn when I returned, which was strange and lovely and a bit exhilarating. Time to move forward, right? Lifer bird counted:  rock wren.

You may remember back in August I did a big organizational clearing of my desk, gathered up all the rough drafts I had accumulated, and worked out a plan to get things out the door. I think losing Lily did something to my brain space and switched on a manic phase. I just had to do something, you know? I’m not questioning it, I’m just trying to go with it.

Here’s the update: The five rough drafts became six rough drafts. The two short stories are revised and out the door — one of them sold the same day I submitted it, which sure felt great. The screenplay is rewritten. It needs more work so I’ve set it aside again, but it’s in better shape than it was. I’m now working on the novel — I’ve got all the notes, have a bunch of ideas, and now I’m reading through the manuscript. Next step will be the rewrite. Then I’ll revise the sixth story, because it’s due in November.

Making a plan to get all this done has made a big difference. I may not be moving fast right now but I’m moving.


link roundup

August 31, 2020

Lots to share this morning:

“Dirt and Destiny: A Regency Tale.” I posted this to Curious Fiction — never before published! I wrote this a long time ago and read it out loud at a couple of events, but it’s never seen print. Until now! What happens when you cross Jane Austen with Robert E. Howard? And why has no one asked this question before? If you feel like contributing to my Irish whiskey fund, please consider adding to the tip jar!

“The Hunstman and the Beast.” My genderflipped retelling of Beauty and the Beast is reprinted at Lightspeed Magazine.

Also at Lightspeed this month is my long review of the Amazon TV series “Upload,” which I liked a whole lot.

Over at I write a bit about my current pile of reading.

You have four days left to get in on the Kickstarter for Uncanny Magazine Year Seven — which will include a story by me!

And… Wild Cards XI: Dealer’s Choice is back in print after thirty years, with a new cover. I love these Michael Komarck covers so much…

trying something new

August 26, 2020

Trying something new on my revising/rewriting process. I just read Screenwriting is Rewriting by Jack Epps, Jr. and it gave me a ton to think about. Not just for the screenplay I’m working on, but for the novel I need to revise — I think a lot of the lessons about character and story are applicable. Highly recommend the read, especially for people with finished rough drafts that they know aren’t quite right but they’re feeling stuck on. This step is all about digging out the heart of the story and making it clear for your audience/reader. If you’ve been getting “this is nicely written but just didn’t grab me” kinds of rejections, this might be useful as well.

I’ve never used index cards or sticky notes in my process before. I brainstorm and make outlines — multiple outlines, usually. And those are effective (21 published novels, clearly I’m doing okay on this whole gig…) But I’m curious what happens if I try something different, if I can use this method — making notes in a way that can be easily rearranged and visualized — to clarify my story.

So, lets crack open some index cards and go mining for insights.


state of the desk

August 17, 2020

This is what 5 rough drafts look like. A novel, a novella, a screenplay, and two short stories. I’m hoping to add another short story to the pile by next week.

I really need to do some revising. So much easier right now to just pile on the fresh word count. But I gotta get some of this stuff out the door…

new author pic!

August 12, 2020

My next novel, QUESTLAND, will be out June 2021. We’ll be doing a big cover reveal at some point soon, and it’s a gorgeous cover. I’m excited. I decided I wanted a new author picture to go with the new cover and new book. We did the shoot responsibly, outdoors and appropriately distanced.

I’m pleased with the result.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here! Let’s see what we’ve got:

The August issue of Lightspeed includes my review of the Amazon Prime show Upload.  And also a reprint of my gender-flipped fairy tale retelling, “The Huntsman and the Beast.”  My pieces go live later in the month, or you can buy the whole issue right now.

I had a conversation with the Writers Drinking Coffee podcast.

And here’s a written interview with the Los Angeles Public Library.

Virtual Worldcon went well, I think. Technical glitches were to be expected, and I think I should probably get myself a new webcam. But each of my panels had 100+ virtual attendees, which seems huge to me! The convention also had a Discord channel, where people could go after each panel to chat, and where we could pop in on virtual bars and consuites. I got to video chat with some of the folks I’d normally see at a convention, and that was really nice. I came out of it with the same to-be-read list I usually leave a convention with.

An online convention is better than no convention at all, and the current video chat and webinar technology makes it all surprisingly doable. Which is good, because I have two more virtual conventions this year — MileHi Con and Capclave have both moved online.

Maybe I’ll “see” you there!



I’m being really good and drinking tea during programming, rather than the Old Fashioned I was thinking about. No booze until after I finish programming. I don’t normally have to make these decisions when I’m at a convention and don’t have the kitchen literally ten feet away.

I’m enjoying Worldcon so far, even though I’ve only dipped my toes in. But it’s also a bit strange. Conventions are usually literally a different world — I’ve traveled, I’m in a hotel, I’m in a strange place, it’s an adventure!

At Virtual Worldcon, I have to remember to take the trash out because it’s trash night and make sure I walk the dog before my programming item starts and maybe no one will notice if I’m eating a cheese snack off camera. And while I’m not going No Pants, I’m definitely not wearing my usual convention polish.

Not good or bad, just an observation.

One thing that I’m not sure I mentioned:  I entered the masquerade. We all know I love costuming, but I’ve never entered a Worldcon masquerade because, well… no time. Transporting costumes takes more energy than I usually have, and managing a masquerade on top of my other programming is a bit much.

Well, this year it’s all via video. No transporting costumes required. I submitted the material last week, and I can do all my regular programming without worrying about showing up all dolled up in person. The masquerade is tonight, AND I’M VERY EXCITED. I might have to sneak an Old Fashioned in for this one.



I’m busy this week getting ready for Worldcon, and also for the release of The Heirs of Locksley next week, and also doing the “OMG it’s the last week of July I need to do all the things I said I was going to get done by the end of the month” thing. You think I’d learn.

I actually had a Worldcon dream last night. We were all there in person, but we were also doing everything virtually, so, like, we were sitting around a table but we all had our computers and were talking to each other via Zoom? Yeah, so that’s where I’m at.

If you have a membership to the convention and want to know where to (virtually) find me, my schedule is posted here. I somehow ended up on both Star Wars and MCU fan panels which is fabulous. No complaints here.

Okay, let’s do this!


Virtual Worldcon!

July 17, 2020

I’m going to be participating in this year’s virtual Worldcon:  CoNZealand. I’m still incredibly sad I won’t be going to New Zealand this year. I had just made all my reservations when the lockdown hit. Argh. Wear your masks so we can maybe get this under control so I can maybe make the trip next year, just for fun.

In the meantime:  NO PANTS WORLDCON. We’ll all be online. Are we wearing pants? WHO KNOWS.

I’ve just gotten my schedule — I’m on a number of panels, and I have a reading and kaffeeklatsch as well. Yes, you have to have a Worldcon membership to take part. The con starts in two weeks.

But I’m posting about it this week because I’m part of pre-convention programming, a kind of dry-run to practice how it’s all going to work. Today, in fact (tomorrow New Zealand time… gah, this is going to get weird), I’m on a Wild Cards panel:  Wild Cards as Alternate History. Let’s do this thing!


Happy July, everybody! Year’s halfway over! Brace for incoming second half of 2020!

A couple of things to tell you about:

A new series of anthologies:  THE DYSTOPIAN TRIPTYCH is now available! Three anthologies, with each author writing three different stories. The first, the slide into dystopia. The second, in the middle of dystopia. The third, the crawl out of dystopia. It’s a cool idea and a challenging writing project.

My trio of stories are collectively titled “We Take Care of Everything.” And I think they’re good. I think they’re horrifying. . . because they are barely, barely science fiction at all. I’m really excited to hear what people think of them.

(I swear to you, when we planned these anthologies out over a year ago we had no idea the current events situation would be so…. *waves arms wildly*. Timing is a hell of a thing.)

And next thing to tell you about:

The ebook of Kitty and The Midnight Hour is on sale right now! And it’s doing really well! So well, in fact, that on June 30, it made it to the top of one of Amazon’s Bestseller lists:  #1 in “American Horror.” This is 15 years after the novel’s original release. This makes me chortle. As we say in the bookselling business. . . this one’s got legs!