Books In Progress, And Other Happenings

Thing the First:

Rough Passages WILL be releasing as a collection this year. Hopefully at the end of October because I’d like to have copies for WindyCon (which I will once again be attending as a helper at the Games Plus table with a little display of my own books.)

First new book release in over two years means promoting said book on social media & elsewhere. It means begging for review readers. I means shouting this book’s praises to the rafters and the sky. It means asking brave, loyal, amazing fans, to go that step beyond reading it yourselves to sharing  it with more friends, co-workers, acquaintances, total strangers, and mortal enemies. It will mean talking to people. 

And that’s hard. I am not a Peppy Person. I don’t rally troops. Cheerful, pushy perkiness gives me hives.  I’ll ask nicely and often for support and sing my book’s praises with honest, passionate enthusiasm–but I know myself well enough to admit I’ll get crabby after banging my head against the apathy wall once too often.

Why mention that downer? Full disclosure. I do not paint smiley faces around slashes in my heart to make the pain look prettier.  I might cut off at the knees anyone who suggests I should minimize my troubles and “look at the bright side” instead. It isn’t a healthy coping strategy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Mute or disassociate as needed.

So I beg you, bear with me as I stumble through the trials of a New Release Phase in my own uncomfortable way, coping with sarcasm, bitter humor, and occasional flailing.

Thing the Second (a cheerier thing, I promise)

I’ve been keeping this one under my hat for almost a year.  I’m helping a friend publish some books she wrote for her grandchildren.  It’s taken 10 months of false starts and setbacks, but I finally feel confident enough about the project’s success to share a little bit about it.  <cue confetti & balloon drop>

The books range from simple 8-10 page picture books on topics like counting and animals to a couple of  delightful tales written at about the first-grade reading level.  They’re heartwarming and adorable, and –importantly–  beautifully written.

The sticky part was that the books were hand-written in journals or constructed with photocopies & stickers.  Cleaning digitizing the content alone  is no small challenge.  I gave formatting at try . (Mistake. Big mistake. HUGE.)  A artist friend with graphic design experience offered to help but got sidesiped by technology issues and job demands.

Serendipity stuck at Dragon Con. I met a wonderful book designer, we hit it off, and now she’s digitizing and polishing up Grandma Mitzie’s awesome words and illustrations to the shine needed for print publication. They’re going to be real books soon, available to the whole world for parents to buy & read and for kids to hold and enjoy.

Thing the Third

I aim to finish Heartwood by the end of October. Why set myself a dreaded deadline? Well, for one thing, I always set myself deadlines. I just ignore them when they fly by. For another thing –biggish news!

I have an outline for a new novel I plan to write during NaoNoWriMo this year.  Sort of. I don’t do word counts, so I can’t really NaNo. But I also don’t usually do outlining, so why not double-down on the wackiness? I’m tripling it, really, since I’m working with a writing partner on this project–a partner who gets final say on the story’s eventual shape. It’s not at all my usual “chip at the ideas until strands of story emerge and then weave them together” approach.

I figure why not tackle the new fresh thing in a new, fresh way? Yup, I’m stretching artistically.  New challenges. Excitement. Good times.

No, I haven’t been replaced with a pod person, I swear. I’ve wanted to do NaNo since its very first year.  Business travel and the demands of the retail cycle in general made it nigh-impossible the first few years, and after that NaNo started to feel like a big commercial enterprise defined by social interaction and burdened with an ever-increasing focus on metrics and reporting.  Metrics and reporting are not fun, socializing is hard work, and I have nothing to prove. Zero appeal.

Doing it my own way, writing with a simple end-of-month completion goal in the privacy of my own writing cave–that’ll be my kind of fun.

Now you’re up to speed on everything that’s going on in my authoring world.

 


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers, or you can take free peeks at them on this page here. 

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! Here be direct links to the published stories that have escaped the confines of Amazon. 

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn

New Doings

What’s going on with me? I’m SO glad you asked. It has been a while since I did one of these. (Before DragonCon, I think?) Busy month. Why a gargoyle for the pic? WHY NOT?

Books. I read books that weren’t historical romances! Books I enjoyed!  Contemporary Fantasy! Steampunk! Exclamation points! I have high fantasy and space opera on my TBR list, but don’t get too excited. It may not get reviewed for months. Okay, here goes;

Convergent Lines. Michelle Cori. Its tagline is A Tale of Gothic Horror, and it definitely has a great gothic feel, but  horror makes me think blood & jump-scares. This has a fantastical moodiness, with fae, humans, witchcraft,  loads of intricate world-building and history…and so much more. The narrative jumps between the protagonist’s past and present by chapters leading to a major plot development, and it has that “drop you in and let you roll along”  approach I adore. (but it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.) Not sure if there’s an ebook version of this, so buy the paperback or make your library get it. The cover and the interior decorations are mind-blowingly pretty.

A Desperate Plan (Tales of the Automazombs) Toni Johnson et. al. Steampunk. Zombies. Need I say more? I really don’t. It’s a fun collection of shorter and longer stories that each stand alone but advance a larger plot. Some fine storytelling in a variety of styles. Great hints of reveals to come, but no sense of anything being left unfinished.  Ebook and regular book.

A lot of romance got consumed in the last month too, but nothing I would recommend. I must say I seriously wonder if authors who consider “purely masculine scent” to be attractive have ever actually smelled a live man. I’m someone who can find the scent of a sweaty guy appealing, but “masculine scent” still makes me think, “Ew.” Ya know, I think I’ll be moving on now.

Television: Daily Show & Samantha Bee over suppers, and the occasional sportsball game while I peel apples. That’s it.  A bunch of shows got boring or cancelled, others haven’t started. Zero interest in The Orville, not paying to watch commercials with ST:Discovery,  have to wait for DVD on Game of Thrones. I record Law & Order reruns because I know half of them by heart and specifically watch them so I can tune them out.

Movies: Finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Underwhelmed.  I mean, I enjoyed it, I can say, “okay, fun movie,”  but the whole Hollywood knee-jerk sequel philosophy of “take everything that was cool in the first one and evolve it” does not now and never has worked for me.  Plus I loathed the writing for Drax. Sure, expand our understanding of the character, but literal-minded to clueless is not a personality progression. Neither is there a line from single-minded to impulsively stupid. And Gamora was pretty much sidelined except for the OMG-SIBLING-HATRED thing. And then there’s the whole “why can’t heroes have two normal, living parents?” question…

…so, maybe I mostly didn’t like it. I  dunno. Nothing I’ve mentioned will stop me from watching it again a few times.

I watched Wonder Woman again to make sure the DVD worked. Yeah. That’s why.

The latest in re-viewing: disaster flicks.  2012, Day After Tomorrow, Dante’s Peak and San Andreas. Just because. Figured out another reason I love San Andreas: the male teen lead listens to the female teen lead who knows what she’s talking about. Multiple times.

In other news, autumn is apple time, which means day trips into the Wisconsin not-so-wilds in search of all the scrumptious yummies. I’ve already socked away the first of the year’s cider & saucein the big freezer, and the first fruits & cheeses of the season have made into tasty treats. The garden is an exuberant mess of drooping grasses and drying flowers, except for the asters, goldenrod & Joe Pye weed, which are in full glorious bloom.

That’s all for this report. Next post: all about the writing and authoring.

Edited to add a full-length pic of Grawlix the Gargoyle:

IMG_2612


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers, or you can take free peeks at them on this page here. 

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! Here be direct links to the published stories that have escaped the confines of Amazon. 

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn

I made some things.

So today I decided to bake a bunch of things and cook other things that would make the kitchen steamy. OF COURSE I DID. The high today was 93 degrees, about 20 degrees above normal for late September, and the humidity was through the roof.  Baking and boiling things were an act of defiance.

(I also wrote a few hundred words the yesterday, read a couple of books,  dove deep in a bunch of other projects, and tackled the overgrown  garden before it produced triffids, but that’s another post. Whew. Just writing all that was tiring. No wonder I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck….)

ANYway.

I’ve been feeling the baking itch for a couple of weeks but had to wait until flour went on sale. Why, yes, I AM that much of a cheapskate, thanks for noticing. Spouseman was happily estivating in the basement with the air conditioning at Arctic Circle levels, so I pulled out the supplies and went to work.

The first batch of dough didn’t rise well, a common issue when I use fresh honey, old yeast and not enough of it, and impatiently mix all the ingredients up together instead of following the proper fussy rituals of Yeast Placation. No worries!  I whipped up a second batch of yogurt-boosted basic rolls and turned the honey dough into honey-cinnamon bread after it basked outdoors in the heat for a couple of hours.

I haven’t worried about bread “not coming out right” since the day I forgot to add yeast to the bread machine I used at the time… and the gaming group wolfed down the whole (flat, dense, chewy) loaf  before it even had a chance to cool.  If it bakes, it eats.

The apple sauce cooked down entirely without drama. I had a few too amny apples to safely boil down without boiling over, so I sliced ’em up, coated ’em in sweet batter and tossed them in to bake with the bread.

Total for the day: 3/4 of a gallon of applesauce. 8 pseudo-sourdough rolls. 1 loaf honey cinnamon bread. And a whole pan of apple pudding.

Here’s the official photo:IMG_2445

This will be breakfasts and desserts for a few days easy. For tonight  I’ll toss some romaine withdressing to go with the rolls, slice up some tasty Wisconsin cheese, pour myself a nice heffeweissen, and call it a day.

Telling stories again

I saw some articles on two topics recently that made me stop and say, “Hm.”

Topic 1, how the United States military is drawing from an ever-smaller pool of soldier families and geographic regions, so there’s a growing disconnect in the public view of what the military is and does and what it ACTUALLY is and does–because fewer people in general come into contact with serving military members. (And the articles discussed that can feed prejudice and dehumanization and a wide array of other dangerous issues…)

2, how the concept of evil and what evil groups have done in the past has become so abstract, so disconnected from the daily experience and the personal narratives of whole  social groups. This feeds the human tendency to create false equivalencies between groups exhibiting similar behaviors (Nazis vs anti-Fascists, for example.) Supporting false equivalencies is also Not Good.

Basically, both topics boil down to the problem of “people losing a sense of the importance of things.” Awkward phrasing, but there it is. It’s an awkward situation when things past and the distant become deniable because they don’t feel real.

I don’t know how to be that detached from the world.

I suckled history at my mother’s breast. Well, I would’ve done, if she’d breastfed me, but women didn’t much in the era when I was born. She was a history teacher, though, and an english teacher, and my father was an avid consumer of history and narratives himself, and loved to share every new discovery, yes even with his babies. History was never a school subject for any of us Morris kids. It was all around us, everywhere we went, and it connected everyone we knew.

Visiting ANY destination meant collecting fascinating tales of the local heroes, villains, any gruesome disasters, and other trivia.  Meeting people resulted in stories about their backgrounds and how they came to be where we were. Learning to sing Waltzing Matilda so we could serenade the new neighbors from Down Under came with stories of Australia’s culture and founding, so we knew why there were swagmen as well as what a billabong was…just to name one of many, many such memories.  And dinner conversation could turn to any old topic that struck Dad’s fancy, from apocryphal tales of obscure British monarchs to Russian folk stories that offered insight into political decisions we were seeing on the nightly news. (Because yes, we watched TV over dinner. As a family.)

I thought all families were like this until I started visiting friends’ homes for meals in fifth & sixth grade. Not so much, it turns out. Nope. Kids were seen & not heard most places, or else we were sent to eat and socialize without supervision.

Teaching moments, that’s what some people call the sharing of knowledge and life experiences as they relate to past and present. I call it conversation. Seriously, I don’t know any other way to relate to people.

I think all of us need to look closer at wherever we happen to be, ask when and what, where and who, and then share those tales for their own sake. Histories. HERstories. OURstories. This casual tale telling keeps fresh the easily-dropped point that people are people.  Relating then to now through narratives brings together past and present, distant and near, them and us, so we understand better how all these things are connected.

And most importantly, it reinforces the reality that what we do now is how history happens. Or so it seems to me at the moment.

Okay, I’m done. Until next time.

 

Here is my interview with K. M. Herkes

reblogged on Dawnrigger.com

Long story slightly shorter, this generous blogger sends out comprehensive, thoughtful lists of q’s to authors. I completed most of my interview two years ago, right before a lot of things fell apart. But I never sent it. Because of falling-apart things.

So, finally, here’s the lovely interview we did.

authorsinterviews

Name

Karen Morris Herkes  I write as K. M. Herkes mostly because it fits on the book covers better. Mostly.

Age

Old enough to vote, not old enough to retire

Where are you from:

I was born in Illinois, spent my formative years in Southern California, and wandered Indiana for a couple of decades before moving back to Not-In-Chicago Illinois.

A little about your self i.e. your education Family life etc.

I’m a salesman’s daughter and teacher’s child. Two siblings, one older, one younger. I was the first child to drive a car and the last to buy a house. Married to a superhero who puts up with all my distractions and distracts me in all the best ways. Mother only to furbabies, and we’re currently a one-cat family.

I literally teethed on science fiction & fantasy; my dad’s copy of Cities in Flight has incriminating incisor marks in the…

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