Today’s Passing Thought

A little poem about writing for a gray, cold December evening

I am resolved. I WILL make WIP progress today.
Despite the cat’s best efforts to drive me up a wall by howling at high volume any time I begin to concentrate.
Despite body aches & toothache & headache.
Even tho’ it’s night now & I spent the whole day playing with other things.
Gonna write.
Gonna.
Write.

After dinner.
I promise.

Hold me to it, people. Ask for evidence. Demand snippets. Whatever.

Accountability is a real motivator.

Okay. Well. Y’know, carry on.

Doing Author Things

I know you’re all dying to know my plans for the year. Here this the summary:  I’m going to attend a bunch of conventions! Mostly in the Midwest, but a few further afield.

The spring schedule got full quickly:

  • CapriCon 38 Wheeling IL February 15-18. Attending as an author. Panels & reading confirmed.
  • Deep Dish Science Fiction Reading: Thursday March 1 at Volumes BookCafe. I’m penciled in, I’ll share more details as soon I get them.
  • ConCoction Cleveland OH March 9-11 Attending as an author. Panels & reading confirmed.
  • C2E2 Chicago IL April 6-8. I’ll be there Friday & Sunday, possibly part of Saturday as well. Doing what? not sure yet. My pro application is being processed. If that doesn’t get accepted, I’ll still go, just as a fan.
  • Nebula Awards Conference Pittsburgh PA May 17-20. No, I’m still not a member of SFWA. This one’s all about learning & professional development. And the Nebula  Awards ceremony of course.

I wanted to do MiniCon and/or WisCon too…but neither of those is in the scheduling cards this year. Family first, finances second, timing third. I can’t make it work.

At some point in the next week I must decide WHAT AM I GOING TO READ AT THESE READINGS?  I need multiple 5-7 min excerpts from either published works or works-in-progress. At 130 words per minute, that’s about 900-1000 words each.  Suggestions welcomed. First chapters are the default, but from panels & classes I’ve taken, I  would be better off pulling other scenes I can voice better.

Why do I have to decide so soon? So I can practice. Not because I’m nervous, no.  I am the weird introvert who is infinitely more comfortable standing up in front of groups than talking face-to-face. I have to practice because once upon a time I did competitive public speaking, and I was drilled to never EVER stand up unprepared. Dramatic Interpretation (Duo) and Original Oratory both required me to memorize 5-8 minutes worth of words. Reading should be a comparative cakewalk once I work through the material a few times.

ANYway. More author stuff. After my packed spring comes summer.

I’m aiming to attend GenCon in Indianapolis IN  August 2-5 as a pro or a vendor, and I WILL be back at DragonCon in Atlanta GA again this year. That’s August 29-September 4. I’ll be working in the Armory for certain and hopefully doing panels and selling books too.

I could possibly fit in one more summer convention. Not sure what, where or when. Or if, frankly.  Budgetary concerns come into play. And time. And brainspace.

There are family visit plans in the squishy-maybe stages, I’m still ambivalent about aiming for some fall conventions. Might or might not do WindyCon again.  I’m open to other ideas. (although as you all know, I am all about asking for suggestions and then ignoring them) plus I am dying to get out to NY to visit the fabulous Camp Little Notch someday and autumn might be a beautiful time for that…

I dunno. That’s a long way off. I have February through April planned. That’s a big step for me. One scary leap at a time.

In other author things:

My cozy-mystery-with-family-ghost manuscript is moving along well, working title Ghost Town. (don’t get attached to it. That will NOT be its final title, just like “Carl Finally Gets Some Action” became Turning The Work) It’s well behind schedule but progress is steady in its tortoise-like way.

Heartwood is in revision and shaping up nicely. Also behind schedule, but I would rather be late & good than early but unpolished.

And that is that.

Midsummer Check-in

Reading

All the Single Ladies. I wanted to like this, I truly did. Alas, it rubbed me the wrong way from Chapter 1 all the way through to the conclusion. It read like it started out being one book, and turned into a different one mid-development. The narrative rolled through a pinball machine of feminism-adjacent topics without focus. “Let’s kinda talk about women’s rights in a “then & now” way, but also a little here versus there, and oh, look, SQUIRREL.”

Also, despite nods to racial diversity, economic classism and intersectionality, the window dressing didn’t ring true for me. The author makes loads of sweeping sociological generalizations based on stories from a limited sample of her friends,  studies about people like them, and also some stories about people the editor evidently insisted on including for comparison.

Yes, I’m being mean and cynical. My blog, my interpretation. Did I mention how much I wanted to love this book? Betrayal makes me bitter. This should have been a PHENOMENAL read, but instead I walked away with this impression:

“Golly-gee-whiz, single [white upper-class, educated East Coast urban] women sure have faced a lot of obstacles throughout history and up to the present day! We’ve come a long way, baby, and marriage is a bummer for lots of women now. Go, independence!”

Um. Okay?

The text is packed with statistics, summaries of statistics, thumbnail historical sketches, and anecdotes. Despite the less-than-coherent development, it’s an excellent primer on feminism & politics for someone who knows absolutely nothing of women’s contributions to history or American society. Since I do know those things from other better sources (go ahead, ask me for a list)  I know important things were glossed over, and fast lost patience with the less-than mind-blowing message.

The heavy sprinkling of sub-conclusions like “Getting married messes up important supportive women’s friendships!” and “Male partners/societial pressures force women to make choices against their own best interests as individuals and professionals!” got on my last nerve.  <deep breath> SO DISAPPOINT.

Disclaimer: I have been married more than 30 years. Women’s legal rights were still fresh enough that I had to fight for a credit card and a bank account with only my name on them. I partnered a man who understood why I kept those accounts, bought a car, and paid all utilities in my name only.  Spouseman groks the struggle, and we support each other as equals.

My experience isn’t the norm for my generation, but neither am I a unicorn. The reasons more women are staying single are a lot more varied than this book admits, and most of those reasons are deeply rooted in old system failures rather than fresh new attitudes.

ANYWAY. Grr. Onward.

Empire of Shadows. Much more my thing. History of Yellowstone region written in that chatty, “I’ll spin the yarn in the narrative and stick the scholarly citations at he end” style I love so much.

I finished my All The Grace Burrowes Novels In Print project (she’s a delight, go read her, historical romance fans) and embarked on an Julia Quinn re-read.

Silverthorn. The next Jacey Bedford fantasy. I liked it. The developments are develop-y, the characters and dialogue are fun, and the world-building is neato-keen. Nuff said.

Watching:

  • Killjoys Season 2.
  • Dark Matter Season 2.
  • Finally watched all of Expanse Season 2.
  • I caught up to Daily Show, Samantha Bee & John Oliver (on Youtube) now & then.

STILL HAVEN’T SEEN GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2. <many sniffles of self pity>

Spiderman: Homecoming. AKA Spiderman guest-starring Tony Stark & Happy Hogan. I loved it despite major doubts about yet another reboot. Best part? So many dialogue zingers, so many non-whitebread non-cliche characters. The plot was grounded in wonderfully-real teen problems too. Usually Peter Parker gets the Hollywood “sure, he’s a kid, but he’s super-smart, so of course he would behave logically and be taken seriously,” treatment, and I can assure you from personal experience that is not how it works. Best news of all: NOT ANOTHER ORIGIN STORY! WOOOOO!

Other Things:

I have tomatoes, basil, and cucumbers growing happily in my sorta-garden. Teeny cucumbers are popping up behind the blooms, and green tomatoes lurk inside the tomato cage.  The peppers are struggling along this year. The sage as taken over its bed, but the butter lettuce is fighting back. (Lettuce is adorable when it grows tall and bolts up pretty little flowers. Ditto radish plants. That’s a thing I learned this year.)

Mulch has been laid down, and more weed death has been sprayed. Call me Godzilla, stomper of weeds. Transplanting of wayward perennials will occur soon.

I have baked in the new oven, and it works. Blueberries are ripe, and I have socked away sour baking cherries this year too. Scones will definitely keep happening.

That’s all the news outside writing-world. In writing land…I’m getting there. I’m achieving a regular working schedule for the first time in months, and the progress is there on the pages of Heartwood. To ensure the regular butt-in-seat part, I am posting one of my older novels up to Wattpad (link: https://www.wattpad.com/story/110555072-downrigger) as a serial, two to three chapters a week.

That’s all from this neck of the woods for now. Ta until later.


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

Summer Reading Adventure on Wattpad!

Update 9/12/2017 This book is COMPLETE. You can read the whole story from beginning to The End without interruption if you like. Enjoy!


I am posting a serial novel on the Wattpad website this summer. The book title is Downrigger, it’s a cyberpunky, dystopian-ish science-fiction thriller, and you can read it for free as I post and polish it chapter by chapter. More details on that at the bottom of this post, quick link right here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/110555072-downrigger

Why am I doing a Wattpad book? That’s a story by itself and the reason for this post.

It starts with the quotation Art is never finished, only abandoned. That pithy remark is attributed to everyone from Leonardo Da Vinci and Picasso to W. H. Auden. I can’t source it definitively, but I do like it.  In this case this book that will never be finished, but it’s done enough to share.

Downrigger has been around long enough to legally buy and drink alcohol. Heck, it’s old enough that it wouldn’t get charged an exorbitant premium for auto insurance.  It’s been revised and re-written and updated, and it’s more than ready to meet readers.

Why offer it on Wattpad? Why not sell it?  Welp, to be blunt it’s a worthy and wonderful read, but it isn’t the right shape, size, or type of book I can sell.

Sure, I could make it commercially viable. I could force its adorable, sprawly epic mass through a formal editing and proofing process and turn out a heck of a thrilling novel…or two…or most likely three…but that would take a lot of time and creative energy I want need to devote to newer, shinier projects that excite me more. Not to mention money. Editing etc would cost money, and money is a thing.

Why not let it sit in a drawer until the time is right? Because if it stays on my hard drive, it will tug at my attention and demand I play with it, and I cannot afford that distraction. (see above, re: newer, exciting projects)

Also, I think now is the time.  Wattpad is a good open forum for free reading (you do NOT need to be a member to read as long as you bookmark the link to the book. Here’s that link again:  https://www.wattpad.com/story/110555072-downrigger


Book blurb & cover:

A soldier without a memory.  A secret government project pushing the frontiers of neurology and psychiatry. A nation rebuilding from the ashes of revolution, still torn by social and political strife, in a future where the boundaries between technology and society are blurring.

Doug Berman is a murderer, or so everyone tells him. He paid for his crime by forfeiting his past and starting over. Now he’s a file clerk for an isolated scientific community dedicated to psychiatric research and treatment, and he makes installments on his debt to society one dull, drudgery-filled day at a time.

When he’s offered the chance to play tour guide to the community’s newest group of clients and volunteer test subjects, he jumps at the chance for a little extra pay and a big break in routine.
But within seconds of meeting his first volunteer he suspects he’s made the second biggest mistake of his life.

Michael “Hook” Martinez doesn’t know his own full name, where he is, or how he got there, but he’s certain of one thing: his enemies want him to fail in his mission. Now, if only he can figure out what that mission is before someone gets killed…

This story takes place shortly after the Restoration of the United States, after the fiery violence of the Revision Years died down but before the chip rot plagues began.

downrigger6.png

 

Happy summer reading, all.


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

A little bit of Prodigals

Here’s a bit of my other beloved work in progress,  which I do feed and water and pet occasionally so it doesn’t feel neglected. I will begin taking it for walks and polishing its rough scales as soon as I complete Grace’s adventures.



WHEN YOSHI CHECKED INTO the infirmary to begin his week’s swing shift, Keene was busy reading instructions for repairing a diagnostic unit. He cleared his throat to draw her attention off the screen. “Hey, boss, what’s up first tonight? I see Jean’s on dinner detail. Want me to stop her from finding a new way to ruin vegetables?”

“I would, if I was a merciful woman.” Keene glanced up and tugged on a wayward sprig of hair. “But I’m not. Let her destroy supper on her own.”

Jean, the newest member of the Support team, felt anything other than medical support was beneath her dignity. She was not adapting well to the idea that her job included cooking, cleaning, equipment maintenance, and supply chain logistics. Yoshi said, “It’s turning into a joke, you know. There’s a pool on what she’ll manage to burn next.”

“That figures.” Keene snorted. “She thinks I’ll reassign her if I get too many complaints.”

Yoshi knew his boss better than that. If Jean didn’t get her ass in gear soon, Keene would assign her twelve-hour shifts cooking every meal alone until she shaped up or quit. “If I’m not helping her, where do you want me?”

“Carl’s quarters. Wanda called down after his morning wash and wax to warn me he barely made it back under his own power. I don’t want him passing out on the stairs. Do a house call for me.”



In case anyone is wondering…

…it’s time to officially admit Prodigals will be delayed until spring. I could say, “I’ll aim at late winter” and live in denial a few months more, but meh. Honesty is the better part of valor.  I want Prodigals to be as good as it can be, it needs significant revision–and I need to finish Heartwood.

Alas, I cannot take the wide, well-traveled obvious path and revise one while writing the other. Filed under “epiphanies of the last 18 months” is this gem: I cannot world-switch. I can juggle multiple casts, and plots in one environment, but add a second whole world, and I drop pieces everywhere. Forward progress crashed to a halt in both projects unless I concentrated on one or the other.

I am an efficient task-switcher, but only within a single headspace. I made the decision/mistake to dive into Heartwood while waiting for PRodigals beta reads, and now there’s no turning back. Right now, Heartwood fills my imagination. (Well, Heartwood, the first full novel in that world, the short story that’s percolating…) I’m dreaming in that reality now, and I’ll stick with it until the current tale is done.

Enough navel-gazing.

Windycon 43 Day 2

What a fun day. What an EXHAUSTING day.

Guess who has two thumbs and has her books listed int the Internet Speculative Fiction Database? Me. (And a whole lot of other people, yes, including my Australian namesake Karen Herkes who is also an SF writer and published long before I did, which is one of many reasons I went with K. M.)

But anyway. One of my sales today was to a fine, upstanding, tech-talented gentleman who entered my offerings into that excellent listing  literary works. (for those interested, the site is  www.isfdb.org)

And that wasn’t my only sale, so yay. YAY I SAY. Another set of books went to someone who buys books for a review site & Facebook page. WHEE!  I’ll post the site name and links tomorrow, I promised I would spread word of their existence but left my memory somewhere and the data in the dealer booth. Oops.

But yeah, sales. More importantly I have given out most of my old bookmarks and postcards, so I can design new and better ones soon. Ditto for business cards. Woop-woop dance time. And there were other doings, too.

I received an invite to join some new-made friends for dinner during the 2 hour hiatus between end of daily programming and start of room parties. Alas there were missed connections, and so I hung out in the lobby to watch the con go by while waiting for parties to begin. That was probably healthier for me overall anyhow. Because I was determined to attend parties and needed that critical decompression downtime.

I know, I know. Parties? PARTIES?!  ME!  Yes. They are terrifying, but…but. Convention=Soul-stretching. Also, Important Professional Development. So I gave it a try.

And I survived.

The first one was low key, before most of the Real Parties ™  began. It was a Writers & Donuts gathering thrown by the Illinois Science Fiction in Chicago organization. (aka ISFIC, aka the organization behind WindyCon. Which has a tremendously long and storied history, which I read while hanging in the lobby today.)  Since I’m a writer in lllinois, near Chicago, and I write science fiction,  it felt like I really should attend that.

Plus they served baked goods. I’m a sucker for baked goods.

V. proud of myself, I managed semi-normal interaction as opposed to freaked-out mouse behavior. I talked again to several kind folk I’d met earlier at readings,  in the dealer room, and around, and I met even more fine souls at the party.  Enjoyable and informative talk was exchanged about first cons, the trials of finding  beta readers, the fringe benefits of working as a professional translator in Spain for more than ten years (like WorldCons in Europe being much less of a travel hassle) the joy and agony of plotting, and many other things.

Business cards were collected, plus names and contact emails for the group were recorded by the party host, and it was all good.  Hm. I seem to be regressing into passive tense. Ah, well. Distancing. It’s useful for de-stressing.

ANYhow.

Second, over the course of the day I received official invitation to the Manticoran Royal Navy party not once, not twice, but three times. I am a big Honorverse fan,  so I was intrigued and made my way there. There was more chatting, more enjoyable re-meeting, story exchanging, and (on my part) admiring of the RMN costumes, ship flags and assorted decorating. I even participated in a Pod-Rolling session. That’s where a whole group launches “missile pods,” aka  beautifully constructed specialty shots–non-alcoholic for my part–down their throats in coordinated maneuver just like in a space battle. Only tastier. Sounds weird, confusing, and/or unfun? Maybe you had to be there.  I had  fun. It’s an interesting fan organization. (They do charity things, among other activities.)

By then it was 10 PM, and I’d had about enough of ALL THE PEOPLE plus I need to be back on the job at 10:30 AM Sunday. On the way home I stopped off at a local pizza & beer joint to say hello to a gathering of my Borders Family, because seeing them is always a stress-reliever, and because everyone including me needed some post-election consolation hugs.

Am now safely home again, home again, giggity-gig. WHEW.

Tomorrow is a shorter day. I’m hoping to take in the Dead Dog filk session after the closing ceremony, but timing depends on how long it takes to do load out.

I’ll report on the Final Outcome tomorrow.

Oorah! Stars for Powerhouse

Every review I get is like a stimulating  author-energy drink.  Reviews  from people who liked the stories come with an added shot of happiness I will never overdose on. Add sprinkles of honesty about what didn’t work  on top, and I get all giddy.  Giddy, I say.

Check out this happy-making review for Powerhouse from S. L. Perrine on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/review/R1N9CKDW41IKHD

It has 4 stars on Amazon to appease the  <mumble-mumble-expletives-deleted> social-engineering review requirements. (if you’ve missed my many earlier rants, Amazon’s wording encourages people click 4 or 2 stars because their visibility weighting algorithms hate a middle vote.

If you prefer to avoid the site named for a South American river, you can see the same review on Goodreads with its 3 proud “I liked it” stars on full display:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1453402027? 

FYI: that review shows Powerhouse’s first cover. Here’s the current one:

Powerhouse web

Final note: reviewers  and writers both benefit from reader upvotes on reviews. Please give Ms. Perrine’s review an encouraging “yes this was useful/I liked this review” button-click if you can. The more useful a reviewer’s words are, the more their opinions will affect a book’s visibility to future readers.