Archive for September, 2018

FF: Powering Through

September 28, 2018

Insouciant Ogapoge

A couple new titles this week.  I’ve wanted to read the book on the Wright Brothers ever since I heard David McCullough talk about it in 2015 when we were both guests at the National Book Festival.  Now the time has come…

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.

Recently Completed:

Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey.  Audiobook.  Not my favorite in the series, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some excellent moments!

Alternate Routes by Tim Powers.  Hits several of Power’s themes but in new and different ways.  Fully realized story but with room for a sequel.

In Progress:

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.  Audiobook.  Non-fiction.  Just starting.

Medusa’s Web by Tim Powers.  I’ve just learned there’s a sub-genre called “Philadelphia Gothic.  So far, this is shaping into what seems to be California Gothic.  Very good so far.  Somehow I missed this when it was first released in 2015.  A great surprise since Tim Powers is on my very short list of “must read” novelists.

And Another Thing…  by Eoin Colfer.  Set in the universe of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”  So far, mostly harmless.

Also:

Having deciphered how to do basic kumihimo with beads, I’m dipping into a couple issues of Beadwork magazine, just because.

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Tactile Sparkle, Mental Spark

September 26, 2018

Kumihimo: Cords and Beaded Work in Progress

So…  This past week I re-immersed myself in writing on the new Firekeeper story.  I’d taken some time away from prose to double-check details and suchlike, but last week I dove back into writing.  The story is developing nicely, although I still am doing a lot of meditating, both pen in hand and while most of my brain is busy doing other things.

As part of that meditation, I’m teaching myself a new craft technique.  It’s an expansion of Japanese kumihimo – a sort of fancy way of braiding cords.  I’ve done sixteen strand round cords before, but this variation involves adding beads.  Beading – as many of you know – has been a weakness of mine since my mom taught me to sew beads and sequins on felt when I was quite young.

During my college years (in which I’ll include grad school), I taught myself both loom weaving and brick stitch.  Somewhere along the line, I learned how to do counted cross stitch with beads.  I have fond memories of sitting on the sofa while Roger Zelazny read to me and I made little counted cross stitch beaded thingies, including some silver roses.  These eventually became either gifts or Christmas ornaments.  It’s funny, but while I never really got into embroidery, add beads and I became addicted.

Beaded Dolls: Storm and Rainbow

I moved from counted cross stitch to peyote stitch (both odd and even count).  Later, I taught myself how to sew beads onto figures.   Jim set two of my figures in a lovely mirrored shadowbox so it’s possible to see them in the round.  I also beaded the toes of a pair of moccasins…  Beading on leather is tough!

Peyote Stitch Bracelets

I’ve also done a variety of stringing projects, although I will admit that working with crimp beads (which you need to do to attach most findings to wire) continues to be something I find really difficult.   One of the reasons I enjoy working in polymer clay is that I can make my own beads…

Now I’m off to write down some of what I’ve been thinking about.  Then maybe I’ll pick up the kumihimo disk and add a few beads onto the cord while my backbrain adds elements to the story.

FF: Shifting Priorities

September 21, 2018

Ogapoge Considers Alternate Routes

We’re definitely shifting to autumn, here.  Since no one is advertising “Autumn Reads,” I guess I need to figure out what works on my own.

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.

Do you have any reads that go well with pumpkin spice?

Recently Completed:

The Bone Reader by Mab Morris.  A murder mystery combined with court intrigue, featuring a fortune teller who doesn’t believe her own prophesies.  I enjoyed but, honest assessment, the writing is not as strong as in the other books by this author I’ve read.  Still, I’d give it a thumbs up for people who like this type of story.

In Progress:

Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey.  Audiobook.  I’ll be honest.  I miss the elements of alien intelligences and artifacts.  That’s part of what made this series special to me.  If I want to read about war and the moral and ethical elements that arise, I’ll read history.  Not bad.  Just not the stretch of the mind that I read SF for.  However, I’m  not done and don’t plan to quit.

Alternate Routes by Tim Powers.  Baen Books edition of a novel that apparently had a small press release first from Charnel House.  Three cheers to Baen for making this more widely available.  I’m just getting into it and it has the usual Powers weirdness.

Also:

I’ve been deciphering the instructions for a new craft project that was one of my recent birthday gifts.  Feels as if it’s exercising my brain in all the right ways to make me a better writer.  Weird how that works!

Emotional Continuity

September 19, 2018

Elephants Remember

News Flash! Editor Deborah J. Ross interviewed me about writing, my story in the forthcoming issue of Sword and Sorceress and other things.

In it, I touch on how negative influences have had a strong impact on my writing.  Here’s an example.

Last week, I took a week off writing to immerse myself in various aspects of the Firekeeper universe before moving into the next part of the story.  One of the complications about writing the seventh novel in a series is how easily it is to gloss over small details.  Add to this that I haven’t written a Firekeeper novel in over a decade and the complexity grows.

By coincidence, my pleasure reading included a series I am enjoying very much – especially for the evolving relationships of the central suite of characters.  I’m not going to go into details, but something I read made me think about an often neglected element of continuity – emotional continuity.

When something traumatic happens to a character, something that is key to a great deal of the action of that particular book, and then in the next book, something similar (but not identical) happens, I expect the characters to comment, to remember.  When they don’t, my sense that the characters are “real” suffers.

I’m not saying that the author must provide  a full recap of past events, not at all.  However, real people remember what happened to them and those memories influence how they act in the future.  Indeed, one could argue that our core self consists of an accumulated suite of experiences.  Whenever something new happens, we seek to understand it by relating it to what we have experienced before.  When something recurs, the most common reaction is “Here we go again!”   Even new experiences are often understood by how they relate to past ones: “I’ve had milk chocolate with fruit and nuts, but never with chile pepper flakes!”

The importance of emotional or experiencial continuity is one reason that senility is such a horrible thing,  not only for the sufferers, but for those who love them.  The person you once knew is vanishing, in part because he or she cannot make those little connections to past events that are the heart of identity.   PTSD is another side of emotional continuity.  In this case, rather than remembering too little, the person is subjected to remembering too much – even to having traumatic experiences “flashback,” contaminating what in reality is a pristine or unconnected situation.

When I’m writing stories featuring continuing characters, what’s most important to me is to establish the sense that the characters have emotional continuity.  To me that’s more important than dates or order of events.  After all, humans do forget such details.  We’ve all had those discussions as to whether it was two or three summers ago that Uncle Joe got that horrible sunburn.  The sequence of events is less important than what those events did to us, and how our future actions are influenced by them.

Another element that goes into writing believable emotional continuity is making sure everyone doesn’t react the same way.  Let’s go back to Uncle Joe’s sunburn.  Uncle Joe is going to remember the pain, and maybe how dumb he felt for forgetting to renew his sunblock or for falling asleep out on the beach.  Aunt Reba is going to remember not only her concern for Uncle Joe, but the fact that their long-planned anniversary outing ended up cancelled.  Cousin Buck is going to remember how annoyed he was because Dad getting sick meant he had to call off the date he had with the pretty lifeguard.  And so on…

When I read a book in a series where the characters seem to remember events perfectly well, but not react to current events in light of past experiences (especially when those experiences were traumatic), my sense that they are real begins to ebb.  When they start reacting in light of events from decades before, but seem to forget what traumatized them two years ago, then I feel the fingers of a plot-driven author stirring the pot, rather than feeling the characters actually exist.

Does this ruin the read for me?  Not necessarily, but it definitely makes me acutely aware of how I don’t want to do that to my characters – or to my readers.  In thinking about what bothers me as a reader, I strive to become a stronger writer.

Now…  Off to write!

FF: In the Midst

September 14, 2018

Give A Cat A Bone (Reader)

This week I’m in a more normal pattern.  I’ve also been reading magazine stories here and there.

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.

Recently Completed:

Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey.  Audiobook.  I ended up being really interested in this one.  I’m learning that the opening chapters – which tend to be very gloom and doom – could chase me away if I didn’t already like the series.  I realize that goes back to the very first novel in the series, Leviathan Wakes.

In Progress:

Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey.  Audiobook.  Once again, things are pretty gloomy and stressful and everyone is cranky…

The Bone Reader by Mab Morris.  A murder mystery combined with court intrigue, featuring a fortune teller who doesn’t believe her own prophesies.  So far, so good.

Also:

Still doing continuity reading from the latter Firekeeper novels as I move into a new plot arc.

Absurd, Hopefully Not Impossible

September 12, 2018

The Front Page of My Bullet Journal

Last week, after I announced the publication of a new e-book edition of Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls, a fan e-mailed me and politely asked for an update on the forthcoming Firekeeper novel.  Her e-mail expressed concern that the fact that I was doing other projects meant that I’d lost interest in or was stuck on the Firekeeper novel.

I’m here to reassure you that this is not the case.  It’s actually the opposite.  Simply put, the project has grown beyond my earlier expectations.

Initially, my intention was to write a short Firekeeper novel.  Well, I both am and am not doing that.  The story turned out to be a lot more complicated than I anticipated.  Is anyone other than me surprised about this?  So definitely more Firekeeper is on the way.  Stay tuned for details as I have them.

In the meantime, please try some of my other works.  My newest is the somewhat surreal Fantasy, Asphodel.  I’ve also produced new e-book editions of all six of the original Firekeeper novels, as well as my older novels When the Gods Are Silent, Smoke and Mirrors, Changer, and Changer’s Daughter.  Some of these are also available in print via my website bookstore.

Prefer short fiction?  My collection Curiosities is available in both print and e-book.  Looking for advice on writing?  Try my Wanderings on Writing.

As you can see, “Jane Lindskold” is more than a one-flavor author.  I hope that no matter what your favorite of my flavors is, you’ll try another.  You might be surprised by how much you like it.

So, although I’m laughing at the absurdity that my “simple” project has turned out to be a lot more complex, I’m also here to reassure you that it’s not impossible – just that the timetable has changed a smidge.

PS — The Absurd Tiger is by Rhari, whose Sandshadow portrait I featured a couple FF ago.

 

FF: Finishing Line

September 7, 2018

Kwahe’e Really Wants a Bowl of the Matzo Ball Soup

Once again, I’m finishing up my current print read as I’m writing this.  I haven’t decided what I’ll be reading next.  I’m considering a few magazines that I picked up at recent conventions.

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.

Recently Completed:

Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grill by Steven Brust.  I read this one soon after its initial release, but all I remembered was the basic premise.  It’s been on my mind since a FF reader mentioned he’d read it a while back.  A good story, darker and more complex than the cheerful cover would make you imagine.

In Progress:

Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey.  Audiobook.  This is turning into a “breaking things to pieces” story, which is not usually my thing.  Let’s see how I feel about it by the end.

Also:

Pulling continuity details from various Firekeeper novels as I prepare to move into part two of the book I’m writing!

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls: New E-book Now Available!

September 5, 2018

New Cover: Art By Patrick Arrasmith

If you’re on my mailing list, you may have already heard about this, but never fear: This Wednesday Wanderings contains fresh material!

I’ve just completed a fresh e-book edition of my first published novel, Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls.  The cover art is by Patrick Arrasmith.  I loved his stark black and white cover for the Tor/Orb edition, but I must admit, I love this color version even more.

The new edition includes the essay, “Pride of Place.”  This essay includes details never before revealed about the writing of Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls.

The new ebook is available for purchase as a mobi file for Kindle.  You can also get it as an epub file at Nook, Kobo, i-Tunes, and Google Play.  Still prefer print books?  I have copies of the Tor trade paperback available for sale at my website bookstore.  If you order a trade paperback and want to read the new essay, let me know and I’ll print you a copy and send it with the novel at no additional cost.

Here’s the cover blurb:

Sarah talks to her rubber dragon.  She also talks to walls, paintings, and other inanimate objects.  She has incredible difficulty talking to humans.  That makes her crazy, right?

What most people don’t bother to discover is that when Sarah talks to inanimate objects, they answer.

Tossed out onto the streets from the mental institution where she has lived most of her adult life, Sarah is adopted by Abalone, a hacker whose home is the weird and wild industrial Jungle ruled over by Head Wolf.  But Sarah’s idyll with her new Pack can’t last.  Someone is searching for her – and not even the Pack can protect her from those who know her secret and plan to use her gift for their own dark ends.

Of all my novels, Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls seems to appeal to the largest crossover audience drawn from my readers – no matter whether you first encountered my work through the Firekeeper Saga or through the athanor books or perhaps through my collaborations with Roger Zelazny or David Weber.

Here are snippets from a couple of reviews from when the book was first released over twenty years ago:

“…a quest which grows increasingly dark, sophisticated, and intellectually challenging even as it reveals deep roots in the mysteries of family and identity.  …Even hardbitten SF fans with an allergy to dragons and magics of all sorts should set doubt aside long enough to give this excellent book a try.  It’s a strikingly original work from a worthy new heir to Mary Shelley.”  Locus

“Lindskold has invented a remarkably original science-fiction idea – a literal version of the philosophy of animism… a well told novel possessing depth of characterization, textured language, a captivating setting and themes vital to contemporary society.”  Telluride Times-Journal

Tantalized?  Nostalgic?   I hope that whether Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls is already an old favorite or is a book you have yet to discover, you’ll think about giving it a read or, at the very least, sharing the news

Thanks!