Writing again

Friday: Dragon Con 2023

We slept in after the long drive yesterday, but we’re awake, breakfasted & ready to scout the vendor hall. (masks, maps, and lists!) Then…panels to attend.

(why am I writing about my schedule before it even happens? I dunno. I’m excited & wanted to share, I guess?)

Enjoy these pics of the moon from yesterday, on departure, and from our hotel room, which as wifi thanks to the hotspot I checked out from the library. (Yay library!) And my Very Official Badge.

More pictures to follow later. And more about the drive. But now? CROWD TIME!

Rough Passages

When getting older means gaining superpowers, life gets complicated for everyone.

Heroic grandmothers, courageous Marines, and extraordinary teens: welcome to a reality where every midlife crisis might become a national emergency.

Rough Passages is a contemporary fantasy novel told in eight short stories about five people forever changed by the powers that disrupt their lives.

In bookstores & libraries now.

Amazon (ebook & print) (print)

a selection of non-Amazon ebook vendors

More info here on my website

Writing again

Ghosts of Stories Past & Future

cross-posted from my Patreon because the topic is both creative content-related AND general life stuff

The “too much detail, get to the point” headline: I have a lot more publication credits than I realized I did, and I think I should do something with those stories.

The Whole Story: (mostly)I visited a good friend this weekend, chore-hanging while a brisket cooked. (I also helped with the slicing & general logistics of said cooking.) General fun was had, tasty fried matzoh was snacked upon, and there was wide-ranging conversation, as is typical of our hangouts.

(Small digression about friend. She’s a book blogger*, a big SFF fan & supporter of indie authors, a library advocate — there are lots of reasons we are friends, a shared love of chore-hanging being among them. We met at a convention, we later found out we’re both living in the same area, and, you know, friendships develop.)

ANYWAY. At some point in our chatting about books & libraries & catalogues, the The Internet Speculative Fiction Database came up. I think because I mentioned learning from ISFDB that I had a name-twin who’d published an award-nominated SFF story in Australia in the 80’s. (this is all I know of her, other than a picture from a con program that came up on an image search years ago.)ISFDB is a labor of love, built & operated by dedicated volunteers since at least 1995…or maybe earlier.

It’s a delightfully geeky site. A HUGE milestones on my journey to feeling like a Real Author ™ was the moment a reader at a convention told me he was buying my books to make sure they got into ISFDB.

It’s also a handy place to find info about short stories from out of print anthologies. That’s how I confirmed the title of a story I hate-loved long ago whose title I immediately forgot, about the world ending because no one cares enough to stop it. (“And Us Too, I Guess,” George Alec Effinger)

In any case, while I had the site up, of course I also looked up my own entry, mainly curious to see if Sharp Edge of Yesterday had been added yet. It is there! All shiny with a live link and everything.

But wait! There’s MORE!

My ISFDB entry also has a long list of short fictions I’d forgotten I wrote, much less ones that were submitted for publication, accepted and published.

Happy surprise!

I did recognize the one paid story: Up On the Roof won prize money in a contest. And I remembered the fluffy solstice-themed entry I wrote for a charity anthology. But the others? None of the titles rang a single memory bell.

Now, once I opened up the webzine links and read a few paragraphs, I could say, “Oh. Right. This totally reads like me.” And when I searched on my computer, the dated files are all in my writing backups, buried a few folders deep.

Just goes to show, memory is a weird thing.

These stories were all published shortly before Spouseman’s cancer diagnosis & my subsequent shift to a relentlessly outward focus. I knew I’d dropped a lot of creative balls during that shift– but until this incident I hadn’t recognized realize how thoroughly I’d dropped some of them, to the point where I forgot I ever had them.

I’m really grateful that ISFDB exists, and that I checked my record.

Did I immediately look up those old stories and reread bits of them aloud to friend? Yes, I did, because much to my relief & surprise, they are actually pretty darned good stories.

Friend promptly suggested I gather together all these newly-rediscovered works and all my newer shorts and publish them as a story collection anthology.

She is very persuasive. And I won’t have a new novel ready to publish for at least another year. So, I’m gonna do it. Story collection will happen.

I’m also going to add roast brisket to my “things to cook when I want a nice, warm, savory-smelling house in the cold, cold winter,” because it’s super easy and absolutely delicious.

It was a successful weekend, is what I’m saying. And now y’all know I will have a book next year after all.

Bonus Pippin pic, why not? 

Writing again

You know it’s hot when…

So, I’ve come up with a personal spin on the old, “It’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk” saying.

It’s hot enough to peel the labels off plastic snack containers.

Here’s the context.

It starts with me being a cheapskate who likes to repurpose empty snack food containers as kitchen storage. Big barrels of cheese balls, rectangular canisters for peanut-butter pretzel nuggets, cylinders full of Jelly Bellies & salted caramels — I like them all.

(random side note: the PB pretzel containers are 2x the size of the caramel cylinders but use the exact same lid!)

Anyway. Once emptied of their original snacks, some containers are perfect for containing other snacks — all the ones that come in unseal-able bags or flimsy boxes. Things like, oh, breakfast cereal, other pretzels, crackers, potato chips, veggie straws, pistachios. They’re also excellent for smaller quantity baking supplies.

Basically, they’re just as clear, and durable, and conveniently-sized as fancy Container store canisters, but they don’t cost an arm & a leg. Heck, they free. What’s not to love?

In a word, the labels. I don’t want to put food in things with worn, half-peeled, wrinkly old wrong labels. Ick. But label removal is a tedious, time-consuming chore involving Goo-gone & much swearing. Or olive oil, even MORE time, similar amounts of cursing, and lots of things falling on the floor. In fact, the better the container is, the more of a PITA the label is to remove. It’s almost like the makers don’t want them repurposed.

But I digress.

Herkes House regularly ends up with a new empties, but I tend to procrastinate the de-labeling part, so I always have a bunch lying around waiting for me work up the energy to deal with them.

Now here’s a fun fact about glue: the adhesive used for many food packaging labels softens to the clean-removal point at roughly 110 ºF.

It’s hot here this week. Officially we got to 99ºF today, with a heat index of 114F. At lunch time, I got the bright idea of putting all my empty snack containers outside on the patio for an hour while I ate (indoors, in the cool) And then I went back out and easily peeled off all the labels in less than five minutes.

I’m pleased to have a batch of clean containers, but damn, that is scary hot, for real. Hot enough to melt glue is H O T.

The Sharp Edge of Yesterday

A mother on the run from her criminal past can’t escape the dangerous superpower developing inside her own body.

Grace Reed just wants to be left alone with her daughters, her small business and her quiet suburban life.

Fate has something bigger planned for all of them.

A contemporary fantasy novel about coming of age in middle age, The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday is in bookstores & libraries now.

Amazon (ebook & print) (print)

a selection of non-Amazon ebook vendors

More info here on my website

Writing again

Last week, a scattershot summary.

I’m not even going to try to organize my thoughts. It was a pinball week of bouncing from one activity to the next, and I just want to get everything noted in one place before I forget even more than I probably already have.

There was laundry (5 loads) and pantry-restock shopping. There were the usual workshifts, and a fanTAStically fun day catching up with one of my artist-friends. I baked shortbreads (my new favorite recipe) and prepped lotsa vegetables for freezing.

The weather was one long fall-preview, with most days still summer-hot but the nights get cold so I would wear wear fleecy warm hoodies & sleep under a fluffy quilt with the windows open. And there was rain. Which is good, because August is meant to be rainy, and the garden loves a good soaking.

Speaking of the garden…it’s still going strong. The Roma tomatoes did not get the memo about determinate meaning “stop growing more tomatoes after the big crop is done.” Looks like they’ll keep producing for at least another month. Very glad I only got two plants.

The peppers are fighting their way to the sun around the tomato plants. Not at all sure half of them are the varieties their labels indicated, one jalapeño is growing suspiciously upright, small, fruits that are hella spicy, and the green chilis are H U G E & mild, more like italian roasting pepers, but…they’re all tasty, so, serendipity wins.

And the pumpkin variety I planted this year is up to 7 full-sized pumpkins. SEVEN. That’s six more than I’ve ever gotten. I think this is the first time they’ve had enough pollinators around to support a decent harvest. Three are already orange so I have no doubt they’ll all be ripe before frost.

The best day of the week was once again a day spent out on the patio catching up with a friend. Last week I hung out with talented textile wizard & quilting expert Cheryl, this week it was fellow indie author & majorly talented graphic artist Dex Greenbright.

Our ADHD chat bounced from current projects & recent events through art, pets, history, annoying real estate problems, air conditioning failures, & bird identification. AND now I have a commission slot reserved for doing Rollover series-related art cards or the fall conventions. V excite. Collaborating w/fellow creatives is THE BEST.

Yes, there will be fun Rollover series tie-in cards. Like playing cards, but not practical. There will be symbols/logos for all the major power series, plus either numeric cards or counters for power rankings. The idea is, people can pick a card to see if they have the R-factor, and if they do, they have to draw a rollover card & rating counter. Still working on the how of it all, but it’s gonna happen.

The only problem with being outside this year is that every time I catch a whiff of smoke from a backyard firepit, I worry about all the folk I know dealing w/wildfires right now. And the ones who aren’t on fire are roasting hot or flooding….or both. Anyway. That’s my one big downer thought for this post.

In other news that will shock no one, I’ve had the TV on a lot for background whenever I’ve been indoors. So. Lotsa things got watched.

In the plus column: Lincoln Lawyer. Solid not-too-lawyerish lawyer show. My one complaint is that the lead actor looks and sounds almost exactly like how I imagine Justin Wyatt, only (alas) the actor is about 6″ too tall.

Also entirely watchable: the movie Heart of Stone. A basic action flick. I suspect it would’ve been annoyingly clihe if I’d been concentrating on it instead of glacning up a lot while doing other things. Techthriller with broadly sketched characters & a lot of pretty people driving things fast.

I started a rewatch of Deep Blue Sea, because I couldn’t remember if it was good-bad or bad-bad. Spoiler alert, it was SO bad I fast-forwarded through most of it just to see if I guessed right about who lived & died. (Nope. Guessed wrong.) Why was it bad? I think it was pitched as Rise of Planet Of The Apes meets Jaws, but done like a techno-thriller, and so it was doomed because that’s like making a mustard and broccoli sandwich with . Not only was the concept stupid and the writing stilted, but the sound quality was shit, the soundtrack was an ill-suited Big Drama Action score, and the visuals were not even B-movie grade.

I needed a complete change of pace after that, and Wellington Paranormal came through for me. It’s a Kiwi mockumentary about buddy cops investigate spooky things. Unserious, absurdly silly special effects, but well written & acted and funny as hell.

Other random observations & opinions

The business strategy of “move fast and break things” so beloved of “tech innnovators” is seriously a cartoon villain’s motto. The list of reasons it’s just a horror show of an idea is so long it deserves it’s own post, but simply thinking about it makes me to annoyed to write more about it.

Rather than ask why more people do not regularly check the National Hurricane Center website during hurricane season, follow the Inciweb fire map during wildfire season, and the USGS Earthquake site just, oh, in general, Imma do a post of links later this week. I’ll drop the rainfall tracker and the best weather radar for storms, too. Because why not?

And a thing I’ve been wondering: do most people really not make have rudimentary disaster discussions & plans for their households? And have no idea what their risks are for various disasters? Yeah, that’s another post right there, too.

So that’s it until later.

Here be the usual wrap-up note w/links to some of my writing.

Book 1
Broken heroes team up in self-defense & end up fighting for justice
Book 2
Accidental kidnappings, global conspiracies,
and tea breaks.
Companion duology:
Chosen family shenanigans, knitting, & kittens.