HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!

Today is the one-year release anniversary for Rough Passages.  Never has a book been more aptly named, for oh, so many reasons. Read on to get the details.

3 years ago today: I was struggling with a novel I eventually set aside, building my author website, & coping with various health troubles. Barely treading water, creatively.

2 years ago today: I was struggling with Spouseman’s major health troubles, working on a frustrating short story, and coping with the aftermath of painful dental surgery. Ugh.

1 year ago today: still mostly struggling, and I let down a lot of people, but support from friends, fellow authors, & readers kept me going. Rough Passages happened because of that support. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

I went on to finish the story-that-turned-into-a-Rough-Passages follow-up novel, and THIS year? This year, that follow-up is in revisions, I’ve completed 2 new short stories, and I’m 3/4 done with a novel draft in a different, brand-new series.

It’s a happy day indeed.

Here’s my pretty baby:

Rough Passages-Digital 1600Cover
Super-powered grandmas, doomed teens, and monster Marines.

A buy link in case you want one: get Rough Passages here

Inside my head

  • I heard an owl the night before last, and again last night. I was indoors. The owl (need I say?) was not. The call was clearly audible for several minutes. Creepy as hell, also pretty cool. It was a Great Horned Owl, for those wondering. Yes, I looked up the call online. I resisted the urge to play back the recording outside to see if the owl would answer.
  • I’m having more trouble than usual with mistaking words for other words containing the same/similar letters. With fantasy names and geography (Nirmana versus Rimarn, to make up an example) this is merely distracting.  With regular words in non-fiction reading, the results can bring reading progress to a screeching halt as  my brain tries to process what the word “pickle” is doing in an article about city planning. (not making that one up.) Brains are weird.
  • The latest in random searches:
    • blackberry plant genus
    • plot of Pericles
    • historical men’s sock styles
  • Dream geography: I visited the beach town for the first time in a while. There’s an old-fashioned park by the door motel, and a beach hidden behind huge dunes, with huge breakers and a permanent monstrous storm about to hit, and lots of little shops always boarding up their windows. This time there I got to pet lots of cats.
  • ::deep breath:: Did a second pass on reading the editorial letter and browsing line edits, still thinking through possible changes. I feel like a kitten rolling in a large ball of string. Happy, excited…and more than a little daunted by the task of untangling it all. I can do it.  The question is, can I do it in time to release in February? Here’s hoping.
  • Must-share site of the moment –>Gods In Color  This site is packed with amazing info about historical research into Greek & Roman sculpture. Discovered it in a New Yorker article, “The Myth of Whiteness In Classical Sculpture. SO COOL.
  •  Random cat pic:

    img_8225
    Scooter is still spending his days in this spot.
  • I watch Law & Order reruns as a kind of brain-free decompression It lets me keep police/legal fiction tropes and themes readily available for writing my cozy mystery while resting the wording part of my mind. It ran so long it’s a fascinating snapshot of American social development through pop culture. It’s  freaky and painful to see the evolution of so many harmful crime myths  over that twenty-year run.
  •  Speaking of pop culture…media update!
    • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. My only regret: I have to wait AGES for the next one to come out.  First-person present tense. Two things I do not usually enjoy, but which worked beautifully for the protagonist and the world.
    • At last I have finished the Inheritance trilogy by N. K. Jemisin. I started it ages ago, but had to set it aside until I could embrace new characters in the second book.  I was ready, and I gobbled down the remaining two books super-fast.
    •  Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire because I knew it would be delicious and crunchy and satisfying, and it was.
  • Miracle Water infomercials disturb me on so many, many levels. From its usurpation and warping of Christian faith into commercial product (far from a new thing, always horrific in every incarnation) to its reliance on magical thinking, survivorship bias and other logical fallacies, they are sad and scary.

That’s all the all there is for now.

I promised a scenelet. Here it be.

A while back I asked if anyone wanted a sneak peek at Ghost Town, my new work in progress. Y’all said, “Yes,” so I of course did nothing for ages. Until now.

TL;DR version of context: She’s new on the job. He’s been dead over a century.  Together they solve crimes.

The longer spiel: Deena Davis fled her wee Illinois hometown as soon as she was old enough to enlist in the Army.  Now she’s back in Gridley as the newly-appointed police chief, just in time to catch Gridley’s first murder case in decades.

Her great-great-grandfather Fletcher was Gridley’s mayor during his lifetime. Since his death he’s been the mayor of the town’s ghostly population. He was a big fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and he has the ability to make himself seen by his descendants.

He is keen to help Deena solve this murder whether she wants it or not.

Also, Deena owns a retired military working dog named Bazel. (Because I wanted to write a dog, that’s why.) That’s why there’s a pic of a Malinois at the top of this post.

     Fletcher caught up to Deena while she was on her way to talk with the county clerk’s digital specialists. One minute she was checking the road behind her before changing lanes, the next, her rear view was blocked by the ghost’s smiling, whiskery face.

“Hello, granddaughter!”

Deena’s startled flinch nearly put them in the ditch before trained reflexes kicked in. The car rocked on its wheels, and gravel crunched under the right front tire, but she settled the swerve.

“Not funny!” she snapped as she regained control. “Don’t ever pop up like that when I’m driving, not ever.”

“When you’re—oh.” Fletcher took note of the scenery flashing by, and his face fell. “I didn’t think to check the physical plane ‘afore visiting. I’m right sorry, Deena. ”

His contrite expression looked sincere, but the man had been a politician. Deena wouldn’t trust him as far as she could throw him. “You’d better be sorry. This partnership will come to an abrupt and nasty end if I slam head-on into a semi.”

Bazel nosed irritably at the mayor, who was occupying much of the same space in the back seat as he was. Fletcher ignored the dog’s intrusion, his expression thoughtful in a dangerously familiar way. Deena had seen that look on her father’s face more than once when he got to yearning for grandkids.

She shouldn’t have mentioned dying. At least the ghost couldn’t set her up on blind dates. He could nag, though. Better cut that off before it starts. “And don’t even think about telling me I should settle down and start popping out kids.”

The ghost stroked his mustache and slid to the other seat to get away from the dog. “No idea what you’re on about,” he said cheerfully. “Ain’tcha going to ask why I’m here? Lemme tell you. I made inquiries last night, and I have news.”

“That’s grand,” Deena said with maximum insincerity. Just as she’d suspected, the mayor was going to hover over her and get in the way. The tires squeaked as she turned hard into the office parking lot. She found the building number and pulled into a spot nearby. “I have to interview a digitizing specialist. Learn anything relevant to that?”

“I don’t reckon so. Not even sure what that is.”

“Then wait here—or if you won’t do that, at least stay out of my sight and keep your mouth shut so I don’t look like a lunatic.”

“Hold on one goldarned second.” Fletcher did his instant-move thing to appear at Deena’s shoulder as she opened the rear door to retrieve Bazel. “Is that any way to talk to your partner? Listen here—”

“No, you listen.” Deena unlatched Bazel and looked down at the dog to avoid the talking to thin air issue. “I can’t drop everything any time you decide to show up. Maybe you have all the time in the world, but I don’t, and there is no box for ‘ghost evidence’ on the reports I have to file. This comes first.”

She looked up at the end. Fletcher met her angry gaze for long seconds. “You don’t have to be so hurtful,” he finally said.

She had been harsh. Much too harsh. She let out tension in a heavy sigh and rubbed her aching neck. Sun beat down on the pavement, and reflected heat rose up through her boots. Her ancestor looked cool and collected. Must be nice to not melt in the heat. “I’m sorry, Fletcher. You scared the daylights out of me. That gets my temper up. No disrespect. I do want to hear you out. Just—not now. Please.”

“Well, all righty. That’s a pretty explanation, and I might have a temper myself.” The ghost mayor regarded her Ford Interceptor with a thoughtful frown. “These carriages keep getting bigger and more complicated. How’s about you take me for a drive around town in it? I can give you all the news and show you the sights, and you can show me how fast it goes.”

“That’s—not a bad idea.” Nobody looked twice at drivers talking to themselves. Deena gave Bazel a quick ear scratch and straightened to see a figure at the office window duck out of view. Looked like her witness was getting nervous. “We’ll do that soon. Now go poof or whatever it is you do and let me get to work.”

“Poof?” Fletcher said. “Poof?”

She gestured extravagantly with both hands like a magician. “Poof!”

He was still sputtering when he disappeared, but he was smiling too.

Book needs blurb. Author needs hug.

Writing cover copy is a particular set of writing skills, but skills can be learned, right?   Practice makes perfect. No pressure. These are just the words that make or break a reader’s first impression of my book. IT’S FINE, REALLY.

<sobs>

Here’s my first stab at a blurb for The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday, the next novel in my Rough Passages supers series. Thoughts, anyone?

Grace Trapani is fighting for her life. The Department of Public Safety wants her behind bars, her estranged husband wants to control her body and soul, and the power in her blood makes her a threat to her own family.

She left behind everything she knows to protect her daughters, but she can’t hide from the destructive forces growing inside her. Only a dedicated group of rebels within the Department can help her escape imprisonment and death.

I know it needs something. Salt? Garlic? A swift, sharp kick? Anyway.

Also, Grace’s last name is currently up for revision. It might end up being Horn or Reed, or maybe Keiffer?  NAMES ARE HARD TOO. Ideas welcome.

To end on a less-whiny note, pretty pictures! The top image is the full-wrap cover painting. Below is a detail on the front cover. It’s coming out pale on my monitor, not sure why. It’s gorgeous, really.

I LOVE THIS COVER THOSEoY Postcard

Inside My Head 30.9.2018

  • This week’s annoying lesson in medical stuff: elbow splints are all one size fits none. (I need night braces that keep me from tucking in my arms and making my sore elbows worse.) Never fear, crafting supplies & Amazon to the rescue! The DIY-adapted splints are already helping, and I now have stabilizing exercises to do too.

 

  • Nothing attracts a cat more than dirty laundry…except clean laundry.

 

  • Another component in my love of autumn: it’s the trickster season. Not only Halloween, but fall in general. Expected a nice day when you left for work on a sunny, sticky hot morning? HAHAHANOPE. Big, muscular clouds roll in like linebackers, and it’s hot cider weather by dinner hour. (YAY, CIDER!) Days of gloom and wet chill resign you to winter’s arrival, and then HAHAHA you wake to endless deep blue skies, trees dressed in party clothes, and air as warm and soft as a towel fresh from the dryer. I love me the antics of the trickster gods, so of course I adore fall.

 

  • I just realized I compulsively check the news every few hours to find out what fresh hellspawn has been hatched by my own government. In one of my writing worlds I’ve been looking forward in time toward a post-chaos future for 30 years now, and that makes reality a very weird place to be living in today.

 

  • What’s up with ridiculous corporate name changes? I haven’t seen this many questionable “re-branding” ideas since the heyday of the early 90’s. Weight Watchers, Papa John’s,  Dunkin Donuts…I swear, it seems like decisionmakers are being pranked bigtime by their marketing teams.

 

  • The latest in fun internet searches:
    • potato chip packaging
    • thermoplastic shaping elbow armor cosplay
    • lyrics purple people eater
    • octopus seal kayak video
    • marching band helmets
    • rank US cities metro population

 

  • An phrase I saw keeps popping into my brain: “TOXIC POSITIVITY.
    Yes, it’s toxic. It’s a villain’s most effective tool. Dolores Umbridge was all about positivity. ANYway. Turns out, “positive attitude” management is worse than ineffective. It damages morale (oh, the irony) stifles creativity & leads to rebellion and/or employee flight. Cites? Nope. This is my personal blog. The internet is right there. Search for yourself.

 

  • Because I was back on campus for an alumni event this weekends, I was thinking recently of all the creepy times in college when people told me in hushed, sentimental tones, “Your years here are the best in your life, and the memories will stay with you forever. Don’t waste a single minute.” I know it was meant as encouragement, but it always felt more like an threat. The idea of life being all downhill after college still appalls me. It hasn’t been true, either.  They were formative years, certainly, and I do remember them well, but  rosy nostalgia just isn’t my gig. And the most important year in my life is always next year.

 

  • It must be fall. I’m moving furniture. Carefully, because elbows, but I’m moving it. I didn’t move anything around last year, so this year the living room and my writing den are getting rearranged.  Maybe this year will be the one when I finally buy plant lights and a stand for my herbs & things. No promises.

 

  • This weekend marked a major life shift. When people ask what I do, I said, “I’m an author. I write science fiction and fantasy.” So, there’s that to celebrate. I even had a card in my wallet. Small steps, but BIG small steps, ya know?  I didn’t make much progress on the WIP while I was away, but I did keep my hand in, and I’m not going to kick myself for taking a rest day today. I needed the decompression after four days of Major Social time. I wish that wasn’t true, but it is. So I’m dealing.

 

  • And that’s a wrap.

 

I learned a new Kindle thing.

I am soooooooo late to the party with this one, but I’m happy about learning it, so I’m sharing my joy. Let’s start with the basics. Do you:

  • own a Kindle?
  • Use Amazon Prime?
  • Enjoy books published by independent and/or small press authors?
  • Like to support indie authors but don’t have a big entertainment budget?

DID YOU KNOW: if you answered yes to all those questions,  there’s a program that’s perfect for you? It’s called the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL).

You can download 1 free read per month straight to your Kindle, for free, AND the author gets a per-page-read payment. That’s right. You pick from a ton of great Kindle books (like, say, one of MY titles) read it for free on your Kindle, AND the author gets money.

Everyone wins, right? You can support an author you like every month with it just by reading a book. Seems too good to be true, but IT IS TRUE!

The main catch seems to be that the title has to also be in Kindle Unlimited, but hey, there are a LOT of those. Including my sorta-romances and the big single-edition version of the Stories of the Restoration. Just saying.

Do you want to know how it works?  I did, so I hunted down details.  There’s an official how-to video on this Amazon page How to Borrow a Kindle Book through KOLL. That was enough to get me started. I brought up the Kindle store on my Kindle, looked up a book by title & author, and one touch later, it was downloading. Yay, reading!

Want to know more? Here’s a site with more information and a nice comparison of  this KOLL program and Kindle Unlimited: Some useful details about KOLL.  It’s a little out of date–there’s now Prime Borrowing to complicate matters, for one thing–but it has a bunch of basics.

Listing my life again

What have I been doing? Writing, mostly. Now that the butterfly season & convention season are over, I’m back on a regular schedule. I’m chewing through my latest project faster than I expected ( I’m still gonna miss my self-imposed deadline, tho. Oh, well.)

And I do take time off to do Other Things. Here be the most recent Doings:

BOOKS.

Long list this time around. For some reason I read faster when I’m writing more. Restricted access to social media also helps.

  • Stars Are Legion, Kameron Hurley Space Opera. Organic ships & kickass protagonist.
  • Rights Of Use, Shannon Eichorn Space Opera. Aliens. Awesomeness.
  • Freelance Familiars, Daniel Potter Fantasy. Sorta portal, urban-feeling, all fun. CATS.
  • Eden’s Outcast, Kuta Marler. Urban Fantasy. Fun world & fabulous characters.
  • Fated Sky, Mary Robinette Kowal. Science-fiction. Full of humanity. MADE ME CRY.
  • Poppy War,  R. F Kuang Fantasy. Epic world-building, phenomenal mythology.
  • Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik  Fantasy with fairy tale roots. Deep & delicious.
  • Fluency,  Jennifer Foehner Wells Space Opera. Linguistics. <swoon!>
  • Sere From the Green, Lauren Jankowski: Urban fantasy. Werewolves. Wonderful richness.

I enjoyed every last one of these books immensely,  in totally different ways, and I am working through reviewing them on Amazon & Goodreads. (Amazon gets squirrely and starts refusing to post reviews when I do more than 3 at a time. I should have the last few done later this week.)

VIEWING ETC

I’ve re-watched a buncha movies: Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War I, Lilo&Stitch, Spiderman: Homecoming, Moana… I think I’m in the mood for brain fluff.

That’s about it. I haven’t been watching much TV. Most of the series I’ve been following are between seasons, jumped a whole school of sharks, or have been cancelled. (Law & Order reruns do not count. They’re background noise to fall asleep watching.)

I’ll be asking for viewing recommendations in a month or so. Hibernation season is coming.

There’s new music in my life for the first time in forever. I have a new writing-time soundtrack: Hamilton. I didn’t expect to like it. I am not a big Broadway fan because the voices & songs all sound alike to me. This one? THIS ONE IS DIFFERENT. And excellent. And fabulous.

Kitchen & Garden

September is my favorite month in the garden. I have tomatoes in the freezer to turn into sauce soon, and lots of super-hot little peppers. As soon as we get a cool, damp day, I’ll start transplanting the super-tall mystery plants (some kind of prairie sunflower)  into the back of the garden and hack off the seed pods of my ever-enthusiastic senna plants.

Baking season is nearly upon us.  I am stocking up on essentials as they go on sale. The big excitement is that I get to indulge in guilt-free baking all through October. My department will be sharing space with two others next month while renovations happen, so I will have three times the usual audience. (The guilt comes from being I’m told over and over, “I shouldn’t be eating these,” / “Oh, no, I’m going to gain so much weight,” / “Oh. You baked again?” Yeah.)

So, anyway, new people to feed, yay!

And autumn is also apple season. Spouseman & I are car-pooling with some friends to take our first orchard trek of the year tomorrow. Cheese, fruit & goodies, here we come.

Yes, the pictures I tack onto my posts are sometimes reruns and mostly random. I love grouchy cats, I will not lie.