Archive for May, 2018

The Most Important Part

May 30, 2018

Completion and Inspiration

This has been a great week for feeling good about myself as a writer.

My short story “A Familiar’s Predicament” has been accepted for publication in the next Sword and Sorceress anthology.  This was a cold submission to a very limited market, so the acceptance felt very good.  I’ll let you know when it comes out.

Speaking of things coming out, my short story “A Green Moon Problem” is now live at Lightspeed Magazine.  You can read it on-line or download it.  There’s even an audio version, which I admit to thinking is pretty neat.  The “Author Spotlight” interview is worth reading, since it delves into the details of how the story came to be.  However, for this reason, it contains a number of spoilers.  Consider yourself warned and read the story first!

Later on release day, I had a foreign magazine request permission to translate “A Green Moon Problem.”  That was a nice pat on the head!

As you may recall, earlier this month my short story “Unexpected Flowers” came out in the May/June edition of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.  Last week, when reviewing that particular issue of the magazine, Adam Troy Castro praised “Unexpected Flowers” in these words: “There’s the short story, ‘Unexpected Flowers’ by Jane Lindskold, unquestionably one of the great short stories of this or any other year.”

Big smile!

I also did a lot of writing.  Wolf’s Search is now nicely taking shape.  I still have a lot to write and, even after the rough draft is completed, I’ll be spending time polishing.  However, Blind Seer has stopped growling at me.  In general, I’m feeling good about the shape of the evolving narrative.

I also started fleshing out the details of another short story…

So, which is the most important of these?  While the praise for “Unexpected Flowers” was terrific, and the really positive reactions to “A Green Moon Problem” were great, and having “A Familiar’s Predicament” accepted for publication made me glow, the best part was the writing.

Why?  Because writing is something I can influence.  Next week I won’t have a new story out.  Or someone might decide they absolutely hate “Unexpected Flowers” or “A Green Moon Problem.”  Getting another acceptance isn’t really likely, although I do have another story or two out there being looked at, so it’s not impossible.  (So’s a rejection!)

But writing is something I can do that relies on me.  I’m my sole audience, my biggest critic.  I haven’t started keeping track of my daily work count because, to this point, I’ve been going back and forth, fleshing scenes out, cutting extraneous detail, writing myself notes, and things like that.  Sometimes a hard day’s work has ended up with a negative regarding words written.  But as long as the story gets better, I go to bed feeling good.

This is not saying that last week’s reminders that there are people out there I’ve never met who think my stories are worth reading don’t make sitting down to write day after day feel a little less futile.  Writing is a very solitary job.  Positive feedback, when it comes, feels good.

Now, off to do more writing!

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FF: Some Thought-Provoking Reads

May 25, 2018

Hollyhock Toad Borrowed My Kindle

I’ve been writing a lot this week, but I’ve still found time to read.  How about you?

For those of you just discovering this part of my blog, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.

The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

What are you reading?

Recently Completed:

Out of the Deep I Cry by Julie Spencer Fleming.  Audiobook.  This author is showing a not unappealing tendency to intertwine close looks at social issues with her mysteries.  The historical sections in this one leave me with no doubt that I’m glad I was born when I was – especially for medicine.

The Sacerdotal Owl and Three Other Long Tales by Michael Bishop.  A forthcoming collection of three novellas.  Very much enjoyed.  The problem is writing a blurb when I want to write an academic paper.

One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters.  Audiobook.  Second book in her Brother Cadfael series.  An old favorite.

In Progress:

Leonardo daVinci by Walter IsaacsonI’ve been wanting to read this since we went to the daVinci exhibit a month or so ago.  Just starting.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss.  Enjoyable, although I admit to wishing that she hadn’t felt a need to include Sherlock Holmes.  But that’s my private bugbear and not a reflection on the author.

Also:

Almost done with the latest Smithsonian.

Toads, Gardens, and Stuff

May 23, 2018

Look Carefully. He’s There!

Today’s picture shows one of the residents of our yard.  This little toad (here shown in his hole) has chosen to make his residence under one of the hollyhocks in the bed against our east wall.

I’m very impressed…

Why?  Because this bed is about twelve inches off the ground.  This toad stands maybe two inches tall – if he’s not lounging flat, which happens to be his preferred posture.  So, if he were a human who stood six feet tall, that would mean he would be capable of jumping thirty-six feet in a single jump.  Talk about superhero moves!

Yep!  It’s now late spring, moving rapidly into summer, and, once again, my yard is providing me with a great deal of amusement.  If I were naming the seasons, I think I’d call this one “Potential,” because everything is fresh and green, we’re putting in new plants and seeds, as well as experimenting to see if we can make what failed last year succeed this time around

Last summer was particularly hot and dry – even for New Mexico where months go by with no rain at all.  So, why do I garden?  Isn’t that wasteful?  Shouldn’t I be more ecologically sensitive?

Well, I suppose from one perspective what I do could be seen as wasteful.  It’s easy to buy vegetables cheaply in the store.  Of course, they don’t taste as good, and they aren’t as good for you, but it’s possible.  So responsible gardening provides us with better tasting, healthier food.

Jim and I are very responsible.  When it rains, we collect water.  When it doesn’t rain, we water using soaker hoses, which saturate the ground while losing less water to evaporation.  We have designated specific high use areas – all of which are either raised beds or sculpted in one way or another to preserve water.  Borders around plants and mulch are two of our most frequently used tactics.

The majority of our yard relies on low water use plants.  We even – brace yourself, especially those of you “back East” to whom weeds are anathema and a green velvet yard is the goal of many – let weeds grow.  Of course, we don’t think of them as weeds.  We think of them as native plants.

Growing native plants has several additional advantages.  They are usually adapted to low rainfall.  They provide food and shelter for birds and small animals.  (We often leave native plants to go to seed for this reason.)  They hold down the loose soil, preventing erosion from wind and rain.

True, many of New Mexico’s native plants have stickers and thorns, but we choose what plants to pull, what to leave.  After over twenty years tending this one small ecosystem, we have a lot fewer plants with stickers, a lot more with flowers and nutritious seeds.

As a result, I can pause in my writing to watch finches busily harvesting spectacle pod seeds, or robins tugging up tufts of dry grass with which to line their nests.

We also provide water – although not a lot.  We have a tiny pond and a bird bath.  However, these are enough to attract a wide variety of birds and insects, including bees.  A little later in the summer, we’ll have dragonflies and butterflies.

The fact is, human land use has removed the sagebrush, wild grasses, and the like that formerly helped keep the ecosystem able to support itself even during dry years.  So while in one way we’re still being very human, in another, we’re being ecologically sensitive, providing food, water, shelter, nesting areas – and even damp places where toads can dig their holes.

I’m off to write now but, when I need to stop and ponder the next twist of the plot, I’ll wander outside, pull a few weeds, maybe plant a few more seeds.  Thus an additional benefit of gardening is that it makes me a more productive writer – a win-win situation all around!

FF: Past and Future Publications

May 18, 2018

Ziggy Contemplates With Starlight At Her Side

I’ve been meaning to remind you that The Long Sunset by Jack McDevitt, which I was privileged to read in advance of its official release, is now out.  It’s a Priscilla Hutchinson’s novel and involves aliens past and present.  A griping read, that gets pretty tense at times.

For those of you just discovering this part of my blog, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.

The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

What are you reading?

Recently Completed:

A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle.  Worth the re-read.

In Progress:

Out of the Deep I Cry by Julie Spencer Fleming.  Audiobook.  This one is turning into one of my favorite sort of mysteries – looking into a long past unsolved mystery, in this case combined with a current incident.

The Sacerdotal Owl and Three Other Long Tales by Michael Bishop.  A not-yet released collection of three novellas.  I’ve finished two, am into the third, and am greatly enjoying.  As a nice tie-in, the one I’m reading now “To the Land of Snows” first appeared in an anthology edited by Jack McDevitt entitled Going Interstellar.

Also:

I was almost caught up with magazines, then new ones started coming in!

As You Wish

May 16, 2018

A Couple Newer Offerings!

This week was filled with all sorts of cool things.  I’m going to share a couple of them.  Then I’m going to answer a request I’ve had from a bunch of people.  So, read on!

To my great pleasure and astonishment, my novel Asphodel received a terrific review from Publisher’s Weekly.   Why astonishment?  Because it’s never easy to have a book reviewed by PW and it’s even tougher when the book doesn’t have the backing of a major publishing house.  So, I’m very excited and because I’m excited, I’m going to share the review.

If you don’t like spoilers, read the first two lines, then the last line.  However, the spoilers aren’t the bad sort that give away resolutions, and one of my delights in this review is that the reviewer clearly “got” the book.

Okay…  Without further delay:

“Longtime fantasist Lindskold’s beguiling puzzle throws an inventive, amnesiac heroine into a magical world with undercurrents of forgotten trauma. An unnamed narrator awakens in a tower without any sense of her identity. Seven windows looking out on a distinct landscapes provide her only entertainment. She crafts companions by tying a pillow into the shape of a rabbit and drawing a sensible, living paper doll named Muriel. With these two friends, she projects herself in disguise into the scenes outside the tower. The trio stops thieves in an urban setting, hunts for a unicorn, rides giant seahorses, and engages in a dangerous battle with nightmarish, winged cherub heads. The narrator’s lack of hunger, thirst, and fatigue allows for endless exploration and the slow discovery of the rules of her powers. The companions’ excursions increase in daring until a visit to an Egypt full of gods and magic sparks the narrator’s desire to recollect her own identity. Searching for her past, however, exposes the bleak truth of her existence in the tower. This curious blend of fanciful vignettes, real danger, and existential mystery wends a twisting, pleasurable way through the powers of imagination.” (Publisher’s Weekly)

If you’re interested in purchasing Asphodel, you can find a full list of links (as well as some other cool stuff related to the novel) here.

On the writing front, I’m now back into Wolf’s Search, the forthcoming seventh Firekeeper novel.  Folks have asked me when it will be released and, for now, my answer is “When it’s ready.”  That said, for a variety of reasons – including the excitement about this book and wanting to get new material in your hands sooner, rather than later – I’m likely to make this book shorter than the previous books in the series.

I also have a couple of short projects I really want to work on before the shine fades off the ideas.  So there’s likely to be a lot of new Jane Lindskold fiction appearing here and there.  Running with the wolves seems to have been good for all aspects of my creative life.

And now for the request…  Several people mentioned having trouble finding the new Firekeeper ebooks, so (with the help of my pack member, Julie Bartel) I searched out links for you and am going to include them sorted by title.  All except the Amazon link will take you to where you can purchase an epub file.  Kindle, of course, requires a mobi file, so that’s what Amazon sells.

Ready?

Through  Wolf’s Eyes: Amazon/Kindle ; Barnes and Noble/Nook ; Kobo ; iTunes ; Google Play

Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart: Amazon/Kindle ; Barnes and Noble/Nook ; Kobo ; iTunes ; Google Play

The Dragon of Despair: Amazon/Kindle ; Barnes and Noble/Nook ; Kobo ; iTunes ; Google Play

Wolf Captured: Amazon/Kindle ; Barnes and Noble/Nook ; Kobo ; iTunes ; Google Play

Wolf Hunting:Amazon/Kindle ; Barnes and Noble/Nook ; Kobo ; iTunes ; Google Play

Wolf’s Blood: Amazon/Kindle ; Barnes and Noble/Nook ; Kobo ; iTunes ; Google Play

So, there you are.  I hope that you will consider purchasing these e-books and/or encouraging your friends to do so.  Please remember that pirated works cost you quite a lot, at least if you enjoy an author’s work.  Why?  Because authors who cannot earn some or part of their living through their work end up unable to write because they’re busy teaching or selling real estate or whatever it takes to keep home and hearth together.

Also consider posting reviews to the various e-bookseller sites.  This encourages the bookseller to promote the work, which in turn brings new readers to the series, which in turn hopefully makes it possible for the author to earn a living.

Now I’m off to see what Blind Seer and Firekeeper have gotten themselves up to…  Good reading to you all!

Wrinkles and Doors

May 11, 2018

Cats Know All About Tessering!

Now that the new Firekeeper e-books are uploaded, writing is filling my time, but I hope to have a bit more time to read as well.

For those of you just discovering this part of my blog, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.

The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

What are you reading?

Recently Completed:

A Fountain Filled With Blood by Julie Spencer Fleming.  Audiobook.  So far I’m liking this series enough to keep going.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.  This childhood favorite held up well.  No.  I haven’t seen the movie.  I don’t tend to see movies based on books I’ve liked.  My quirk!

In Progress:

A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle.  I remember how confusing I found parts of the final chapter.  I wonder how it will re-read.

Out of the Deep I Cry by Julie Spencer Fleming.  Audiobook.  Just started.

Also:

Catching up on magazines.   Making good progress!

New Firekeeper E-Book Editions!

May 9, 2018

New Design!

One of the projects I’ve been working on over these past many months is putting together new editions of the Firekeeper e-books.  Through Wolf’s Eyes; Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart; The Dragon of Despair; Wolf Captured; Wolf Hunting, and Wolf’s Blood are all now available in new editions for both mobi and epub formats from Amazon/Kindle; Nook; Kobo; i-Tunes, and GooglePlay.

The cover art is based on the classic paintings by Julie Bell, and feature stylish, updated cover design.  The interior design is also updated, including classy new chapter headings.

Each volume contains a short essay providing a peek at my behind-the-scenes choices as I wrote the Firekeeper Saga.   Otherwise, changes to the text have been restricted to the most minor.

At this point, I don’t plan to produce new print editions, but most of the novels remain available in hardcover through my website bookstore.

An advantage of putting these new e-book editions together was that the task provided me with an opportunity to re-saturate myself in the Firekeeper universe, because I went over each book many times.   It was a lot of fun to see how much Firekeeper and her associates changed in the course of the series.  What I liked most of all was how those changes made them truer to themselves, rather than strangers to the people I started falling in love with in Through Wolf’s Eyes.

My re-immersion in the Firekeeper universe has, in turn, made me very eager to return to writing Wolf’s Search – the forthcoming seventh Firekeeper novel.   I’ll talk more about that novel when I’m closer to being done, since I’ve never been very comfortable talking about a work in process.  All I’ll say at this point is that Wolf’s Search takes place within a year of the events in Wolf’s Blood, and that Firekeeper and Blind Seer are two of the main characters.  Anything else is between me and the muse.

Finally, for those of you who have been asking for new e-book editions of my other Tor novels, be assured that these will be forthcoming.  However, I need a break from being in editorial mode.  As I’ve noted elsewhere, it can really get in the way of writing.

FF: Vision Challenge!

May 4, 2018

Persphone Snags My Mag

This week I’ve been immersed in proofreading, so I haven’t had the vision to spare for as much reading.

For those of you just discovering this part of my blog, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.

The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

What are you reading?

Recently Completed:

Beneath a Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire.  Audiobook.  Good, although setting dominates characterization and plot.

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burns.  Middle grade novel.  Enjoyable, although Aventurine is very ornery!  Don’t expect a “sweet” read.

In Progress:

A Fountain Filled With Blood by Julie Spencer Fleming.  Audiobook.  This book may include an amateur detective, but it is definitely not what I’d call “cozy.”  Maybe someone needs to coin a new term?

Also:

Catching up on magazines.

Visiting the Wild Spirit Pack

May 2, 2018

Welcoming Wolf

A while back, our friend Melissa Jackson suggested that we plan a road trip out to Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in Ramah, New Mexico.  Jim and I had been out a couple times before, but we hadn’t visited for several years, so we were eager to go.  But one thing led to another, and we never quite got around to making plans.

However, as I started working on the newest Firekeeper novel (working title, Wolf’s Search), the urge to see some wolves up close and personal became very strong.  I spoke with Melissa and we firmed up plans.   Last weekend – in company with Rowan Derrick and Cale Mims – we made the two-plus-hour  drive out from Albuquerque.  (For those of you who might want to visit from out-of-town, estimate a drive of two and a half hours from the Albuquerque Airport.)

Wild Spirit has a spiffy new website that explains its mission in detail, but it can be summed up by their slogan: Wild Animals Are Not Pets.  This is a message I’ve tried to share via essays prominently displayed on my website.  I’m fully aware that lots of us – me included – would love to have the sort of relationship Firekeeper and Blind Seer share, but I’m also very aware that what I’m writing is Fantasy fiction, and that such relationships are more likely to end up in tragedy – and often with the wolf or wolf-dog dead.

That’s what makes going to Wild Spirit so special.  The wild canines there are not expected to perform for humans.  Even those on the tour trail have places where they can retreat if they don’t feel like company.

Jessica’s Pal Flicker

The basic tour is very affordable and includes a slow ramble with a knowledgeable guide.  On this trip, our guide was a relatively new volunteer named Jessica.  Jessica had only been at Wild Spirit for a month and a half, but she knew every one of the many wild canines on the tour trail by name, as well as some tidbit of personal history.  It was evident that the wild canines knew her, too, and considered her a friend.  Several came over to say “hello” with no other incentive than a chance to greet Jessica.

All the pictures featured here were taken by my husband, Jim.  He has a nifty new telephoto lens that enabled him to focus past the chain link fence, so you’re actually seeing the wolves without the impediment of the barrier.

Although every enclosure was a delight, there were a couple encounters that will stick with me for a long time.  One was when we stopped to see wolf hybrid, Koda.  Koda is a magnificent creature whose great size actually comes from his dog heritage, not his wolf.  He was up close to the fence (which is why Jim couldn’t eliminate it from the photo) and seemed to be posing.  At one point, he did something incredibly cute that caused all the humans in the group to coo “aww…”  Immediately, he snarled.  Apparently, Koda doesn’t like “baby talk” one bit.

Koda: Don’t Babytalk Me!

Another encounter was more personal.  Any of you who have gone to my website have seen the picture of me with a very large wolf puppy named Dakota in my lap.  I’ve retained a fondness for Dakota all these years.  In fact, I’ve been one of his sponsors for most of his life.  I didn’t expect Dakota to remember me, but I did hope we could see him, since I hadn’t for a good many years.  As Jessica brought us to the enclosure where Dakota lives with two of his childhood buddies, she said, “This is where Dakota lives.  He doesn’t usually come down when I do a tour but…”

She trailed off because Dakota was making a beeline for the fence, his nostrils flared, intently sniffing.  Maybe I’m just indulging in a sentimental moment, but it seemed to me that he remembered me and Jim perfectly well, and was coming over to say “Hi.”  Yeah.  Melt…

(I don’t have a picture of Dakota here because he was so close to the fence and so active, we couldn’t get a really good shot, but you can see him on the Wild Spirit website.  He’s grown up to be a very good-looking fellow.)

At the end of the tour, as we were viewing the Nola Pack – a group of very wolf-like dogs, Wild Spirit’s director, Leyton Cougar, came wandering out with a tub of a new, very green, health food he’d been making up for some of their residents.  He offered me and Jim a taste, and we took the dare.  It was actually quite good – like dense scrambled eggs with a dandelion tang.

After our trail tour, we had arranged to have an “extra” – a private educational lecture.  This was conducted by the Assistant Director, Crystal Castellanos, and her husband, Research and Development director, Ramon Castellanos.  Crystal and Ramon told us they had a new presentation on the Canine Continuum they’d like to try, and asked if we would be their first audience.  Needless to say, we were thrilled.

Me and Leia at the Educational Talk

The focus of this talk was about the connections between different types of wild canines.  We began with three of the resident New Guinea Singing Dogs, moved to the wolf/ wolf-dog, then moved to the dingo.  For each part of the presentation, Crystal brought out a leashed representative.  The educational encounters are “hands off” with the caveat that if the canines are interested in looking at the humans, and the humans welcome the chance connection, then this may happen.

We five humans sat in a row on the bottom of the bleachers, ears, eyes, and hearts open.  We were very lucky and had a chance to get closer to our canine hosts than we had dared hope.  The most out-going was Leia, the wolf-dog, who at two is still young enough that she is inclined to trust.  Ramon and Crystal’s talk was very informative – even for me, who is something of a wild canine junky – which is a high recommendation, indeed.  I’d happily listen to the same talk again, just to soak in more.

As you probably can tell, we had a wonderful time.  Many thanks to Josh who helped me with reservations; to Tina in the gift shop, who helped us in many ways; as well as to Jessica, Leyton, Crystal, and Ramon.  We’ll definitely be coming back, and we hope to encourage many of those who are reading this to visit as well.

Come and See Us!