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Archive for January, 2010

Free books from talented friends

If you love Halo, and who doesn’t, you need to rush over to Eric’s blog and sign up for a free copy contest he’s running.

Also Lisa Mantchev (and a surprise guest) has a contest over at her place

Who says you can’t get anything awesome for free.

Better hurry, timing is limited

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Writing in the short form

Now that I’m worming my way out of the post-novel ennui, I’m back on a short story project. When I’m writing a novel, I can’t read anyone elses work. That’s something I’d like to fix, but for now, the world I’m writing in has to have precedence over anyone elses world.

So, when I finished book two in the Black Blade series, I read a couple of books, and turned my brain away from the world of novels and have begun thinking of shorts again. I’m hoping to knock out a couple before the first readers get back to me on the second book.

I have really needed the break between books, mainly do to the significant work load of my day jobbe, but now I’m craving words again. I’m dreaming story and want to purge some of this abundance into a viable form.

It took me ten years to really understand the short story and the novella. The fact it was a problem to have multiple POV characters and two or more plot threads in an 8K short, finally convinced me my strength lay in the long form. When I started writing novels, it was like someone had removed the plow I’d been pulling and allowed me to run free.

The act of writing a novel has been like breathing free for the first time. I love it. But now that I’ve written a few, I’m thinking about the short form again. I write fast, and if I know the story, I can knock out a short in a few hours. And they are typically good. Enough so that I’ve been able to join SFWA on my short story sales. So I delve back into that world, study the lean aspect of a form that vexes me as often as not.

It’s like when I did the poetry workshops in college. Short is hard. I envy those who are good poets. The expression of immense emotion and story in so few words is breathtaking.

My poet friends can’t understand the immense space allowed by a short story. It’s all perspective.

Soon, I’ll slip another little thing into the world and see how she does. But first I have to flesh out the wings and see how well she’ll fly

Back to the words for me.

Peace

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The ball starts rolling. Mention of Black Blade Blues.

It’s strange when your friends email you links that involve you.

Last night my friend Keffy brought to my attention that John Scalzi mentioned my novel.

Then my friend Jay Lake pointed out this other blogger mentioning Black Blade Blues.

NOTE: um, okay. Had to go back and edit this post. While I know how awesome John Scalzi is from his blog, and from his ultimately cool friends like Mary Robinette Kowal. I didn’t know the second blogger.

He is Andrew Wheeler, a long time wheel in the publishing industry, including a stint as the editor of the Science Fiction Book Club. Not only does he comment, but he tracks down a copy of the cover art on his blog, that even Amazon hasn’t been able to do yet. I’m pretty amazed.

It’s strange for me, this self-promotion thing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m quite pleased that anyone is even considering reading the novel. But to see that title listed out there makes me a little light-headed.

It’s all very exciting. Fourteen weeks until publication of Black Blade Blues. I keep thinking about what it will be like to hold that book in my hand. To stand in a Barnes & Noble, Borders, or fine Indie bookstore and see a carbon based artifact on the shelf with my name on it, and a story that cooked in my own head available for the whole world.

Wonders never cease.

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Harbinger by Jack Skillingstead

harbingerRead Harbinger last week. Needed a few days to think about it. It’s a powerful book, honestly. Lot of metaphysical concepts working around in my brain after the ride.

I’d heard Jack read the opening of the book at his signing at UW Bookstore a while back, and as I read the opening chapters, I could hear his calm, cool cadence in my head. Not everyone will have that particular experience, but it was very cool.

I found a lot to like in this book. The concepts of time and how it affects us is very interesting and I think Jack tackled it well.

There are moments where I dislike the main character, but that’s part of the ride. The writing is excellent, and the character changes in ways that he doesn’t always recognize, and that I recognized all too well.

As a person, I find Jack quiet with a strong undercurrent of wit and humor. All that comes through in this book. If you are a fan of his short work, you’ll be pleased with this volume.

I’d recommend you head over to Fairwood Press and order a copy. Or, visit Jack’s website to learn more.

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Healthy Habits

We had our last Healthy Habits class tonight at the YMCA. It is a great class. One of the things I found over the ten months is how poorly I planned certained parts of my life. If you asked me about writing, I’m considerably more organized, and day jobbe is off the charts. But when it comes to diet, exercise, etc. I’m floundering around.

This class helped me understand the power of short-term goals. The skills needed to address very basic aspects of my personality and the need to handle things straight-forward, instead of passively aggressive.

And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not where I want to be with my writing, but it’s light years ahead of my diet and exercise. But it’s all changing.

Getting to the gym 2-3 times a week is doable. A year ago my answer was I didn’t have the time. But I’ve managed to write a novel, start going to the gym, work on my tae kwon do, and still have time for family and friends.

It’s all a matter of perspective. One of the nicest points in the class when Donna, a real spit-fire of a woman, told me she was going to kick my ass if I didn’t get better. She meant it, too. It was very sweet and delivered from a place of compassion, but not something I expected to hear from this retired woman.

Everyone in the class struggles with different aspects of the same things I’m dealing with, and it’s been good to be there for them, encourage them, and be encouraged by them.

We are going to sign up and take the class again. I just now feel like I understand what I was supposed to really be doing the last ten months. Now it’s time to implement what I’ve learned.

Thanks everyone for the encouragement. Especially thanks to Kathy, Anne, Glad, Pam, Donna, Lois, Joe, Mary and all the visiting guests.

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Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Just finished reading Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Cherie is a local Seattle writer I’ve run into a couple of times in recent years. Everyone has spoken very highly of her.

Turned the last page on this book and held it against my chest with a contented sigh. I’ve been burned a time or two by books that ended up not being worth my time by the end. I’m happy to report, Cherie held my attention, and kept me entertained page after page after page. And isn’t that exactly the point. The time I spent in her world totally overwhelmed any conflicting priorities. Everything else disappeared as I followed this rollicking adventure story. Well done!

Reminds me I don’t read enough. Ever since I sold my novel, the amount of reading I’ve done for pleasure has measurable declined. That’s something I need to fix. Luckily, it hasn’t slowed the purchase of said books, so I have a wide variety to choose from. Not sure what’s next, but there are several juicy choices.

I loved Boneshaker from the moment I saw the cover. The blurbs were blurby, as expected, but the story lived up to the commentary.

The world building and setting are well done. I like when an author is not afraid to mix history around a bit, change things for their own needs, as long as it fits in general.

This is my first read of Cherie’s and she earned every second of my time I invested. I wish her much success with this book, and the myriad of other projects she seems to have on the fires.

Congratulations. Thanks for the ride. I just wish I knew if there was a sequel pending.

Please go buy this book. You won’t be sorry.

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Uruz

The wild ox; strength and power.

Ansuz

Creativity; words, music, and art.

Othala

The troll cross; wealth and prosperity.

Sowilo

The sun; energy, honor, guidance.

Fehu

Personally earned or lucky wealth and prosperity.

Jera

The harvest; patience and promise.

Raidho

The chariot; journey and travel.

Note: This is not the real book cover.