Archive for August, 2020

FF: Taking It Easy?

August 28, 2020

“Hold Still, Mei-Ling! You Will Get Your Picture Taken!”

I was going to take time off last week to celebrate completing  a draft of SK4.  But a short story galloped into my imagination so instead I ended up writing right through the weekend.  Anyone want to place bets as to whether I figure out how to unwind this coming week?

Remember to join us for free at Virtual Bubonicon this Saturday.  Convention website is here.  Information on the panel I’m on is in this week’s WW.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, 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:

Maddigan’s Fantasia by Margaret Mahy.  Excellent.  Post-apocalyptic magical realism with both science and magic, and a protagonist who, while annoying at times, is worth rooting for.

DreamForge Magazine, issue six.  I very much enjoyed.

In Progress:

Dark Whisper by Bruce Coville.  Third book in the Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  I’m almost done, but writing cut into my listening time.

Expecting Someone Taller by Tom Holt.  A re-read, impulse chosen because I felt like smart humor.  This book contains the single funniest and yet oddly sensible summary of Wagner’s Ring Cycle ever.

Also:

Archeology Magazine, finishing one in time for the next to show up!

Virtual Bubonicon and a Couple of FAQ

August 26, 2020

Prickly But Lovely!

I really thought that once I finished SK4 and turned the manuscript over to David Weber (which I did last Wednesday afternoon), I’d be taking a break.  Instead, a short story idea leapt out from the underbrush and insisted on being written.  I’m still working on that now, so today’s WW will feature a couple of updates.

Bubonicon is going virtual this year, and I’m on one of the live panels.  The topic is “Creating Worlds: Fun With Flora & Fauna.”

Here’s the description:  “Okay, you’ve created your alien world. How difficult is it to fill with believable flora and fauna? Is it necessary for most or all of the fauna to be predators? Do all the plants need teeth, poison, or strangling vines? Yes, heroes need problems to overcome, but do we fill our worlds with flora and fauna for the purposes of entertaining the reader or to make everything more believable? “

We’re on at 6:00 pm, Saturday, August 25th.   Attendance is free.  For more information check out their website.

Ever since Wolf’s Search came out, and even more since Wolf’s Soul came out, I’ve been repeatedly asked a couple of the same questions.   (If you haven’t heard about Wolf’s Search and Wolf’s Soul, the two new Firekeeper novels, there is a lot of information on my newly updated website: www.janelindskold.com.)

Q: I want a hard cover.  Where can I get one? 

A: For now, you can’t.  If you prefer print to e-books, you do have the option of purchasing trade paperbacks via Amazon.com.

However, if there is sufficient interest in hard cover editions, I’ve spoken with a small press publisher who has agreed to work with me. One option would be an omnibus volume featuring both novels.  Another would be separate volumes, with maybe the option of a slipcase.  One thing.  Since I would be working with a small press, these would not be cheap.  They would be pretty, though…

Q: Are the Firekeeper books available as audiobooks?

A: No, they are not, nor do I intend to do them as such myself, even though I have been assured I am an excellent reader.  If you are interested in audiobooks of the Firekeeper Saga, the best way to get them is to approach the audiobook publisher of your choice and express your interest.

Firekeeper pack member Michelle Marks recently did this.  She made an appeal to other Firekeeper fans in a Comment on my Facebook page.  I’m taking the liberty of sharing her post here:

“Hi all. If any of you wish to lend your voice to mine and request the Firekeeper series on Audible, you can e-mail the request to content-requests@audible.com. I would love to share this series with those in my family who prefer Audiobooks. I e-mailed them today and they have sent an initial response but the more requests we have, the more likely it will be to happen. Thanks for your time!” 

Remember, publishers rarely listen to authors (because it is assumed we love our books), but they will listen to readers (who it is assumed will spend money on a product).  Speak out!  If I’m approached by an audiobook company who offers to pay me for the rights to make audiobooks, I’ll definitely be receptive.  (I’m an audiobook fan myself.)

On that note, I’m going to go finish writing my story.  Since it’s a space western, today’s photo is of the magnificent prickly pear in our side yard!  Tune in next week for some chat about the craft of writing!

FF: Masks and Whispers

August 21, 2020

Roary: Five Months Old and Growing

Yes!  I did it.  I’ve handed SK4 over to David Weber, and as a reward gave myself more time to read.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, 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:

The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick.  First book in the forthcoming Rook and Rose Trilogy.  Due for release in January 2021.  Rich in intrigue, characters, and setting, this was what epic fantasy should be but rarely is.  (M.A. Carrick is a joint pen name for Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms, both previously published authors.)

In Progress:

Dark Whisper by Bruce Coville.  Third book in the Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  As with any good series, solving one set of problems created new ones.

DreamForge Magazine, issue six.  My copy arrived and I’ve been reading it before bed.

Maddigan’s Fantasia by Margaret Mahy.  Time travel meets post-apocalyptic with a brush of magic.  I had to put this on side a bit back, and now I’m happily with it again.

Also:

I’m doing some research for several projects, including finally getting back to running my RPG and a possible short story.

Churning About

August 19, 2020

Sunflowers and Wind Chime

This week I’m completely distracted, but it’s a good sort of good distraction: I’m nearly done with the—yes, still untitled, but that gives you something to look forward to, right?—manuscript of SK4, the fourth novel in the Star Kingdom series that I’m writing with David Weber.

Jim has finished his read-through, and I’m engaged in correcting typos.  I’m also making up a list of possible titles to include in my cover letter.  I’ve finished creating five different support files.

If you’ve ever seen a pool into which a waterfall is crashing, imagine me as the pool.  The water has finished falling, but there’s a lot of churning about before the water will begin to flow toward its next point.

So, on that note, I’ll leave you to enjoy the pretty flowers!

Blanket Flower in Bloom

FF: Plants and Unicorns

August 14, 2020

Mei-Ling Reads!

Being a gardener, I started by reading the portion of Wild Plants of the Pueblo Province in the section about specific types of plants.  I skipped trees.  This week, I went back and started from the beginning and finished off with the trees.  Side bonus: I learned something about the various ways hides can be tanned.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, 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:

Song of the Wanderer by Bruce Coville.  Second book in the Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  An actual song is key to this story and Full Cast Audio’s cast included several people who could sing, so this was an audiobook that was more than simply narrated.  If you listen to it, make sure you go to the end, because the entire song is performed there.

A Place at Mother Earth’s Table: Edible Wild Plants of the Rio Grande Region by Lisa W. Huckell. This slim book—probably technically a booklet—was so well written that I read all of it and in the process identified one of the plants in our yard as “Green Thread” aka “Indian Tea” or “Navajo Tea.”  We’d just been calling it “that pretty plant w/the yellow pom-poms.”  I now have some drying to try.  And the bibliography led me to read…

Wild Plants of the Pueblo Province: Exploring Ancient and Enduring Uses by William W. Dunmire and Gail D. Tierney.  Centered around four parks in New Mexico, this books looks at various plants and how they were used by a wide variety of indigenous peoples.  Since one of the parks—Petroglyph National Monument—is very close to my house, I also ended up identifying several more of the plants in our yard, including scorpion weed, which is a far easier name to use than “that annoying plant that, although it has pretty purple flowers in the spring, gets all prickly and, worse, sticky, so let’s pull it.”  I started with the chapter on types of plants, but found the book so well-written, I’m reading the whole thing.

In Progress:

Dark Whisper by Bruce Coville.  Third book in the Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  As with any good series, solving one set of problems created new ones.

DreamForge Magazine, issue six.  My copy arrived and is part of my relaxation reading.

Also:

Jim is reading my manuscript of SK4 (fourth book in the Star Kingdom series I am collaborating on with David Weber).

Unexpected Smile

August 12, 2020

Roary Admires the Cover of Wolf’s Search

Last week ended with an unexpected bit of good news.

The cover for Wolf’s Search (seventh book in my Firekeeper Saga) was one of the works included in the long list for the Chelsea Award in the Best E-book or Paperback Cover category.  Wolf’s Search is in very fine company as you can see here.

The credit for this achievement goes not to me, other than in that I had the very good sense to select a lovely piece of art, but to artist Julie Bell, who gave me permission to use her “Andre” for the cover art.  If you’re interested in owning a print of the piece, it’s available at her on-line shop.

Further credit goes to Linda Caldwell, who did the cover design, including the titles, format, and otherwise adapting Julie Bell’s art to the needs of my novel.

What else?  SK4 (the fourth book in the Star Kingdom/Stephanie Harrington series I’m collaborating on with David Weber) is now in Jim’s hands, and I’m using my “free” time to do a bunch of things to prepare for the next book.

Although these books are set in the Honorverse, they’re prequels set some 400  years in the past.  This means that, while much of the world building  must be done from scratch, it also must be careful not to violate anything in the future.  Another challenge is that this series features treecats in a more central role, which means developing an alien culture and its first contact with humans—while, once again, not violating anything that happens later.

So my current task is gathering together the results of numerous scattered conversations with David Weber, then creating reference documents.

I’m also working with my friend Jane Noel (art director of DreamForge magazine) on updating my website.  She’s doing all the pretty stuff, and I’m writing text.

Anyhow, I’d better get back to it.  Catch you later!

FF: Sidetracked!

August 7, 2020

DreamForge Among the Identified Mystery Plant

While looking for a completely different gardening book, this week I got sidetracked.  But, happily, most of the time my reading isn’t homework, so I can switch as I wish.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, 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:

Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville.  First book in the four volume Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  I enjoyed enough that I’m now on to Book Two.

A Place at Mother Earth’s Table: Edible Wild Plants of the Rio Grande Region by Lisa W. Huckell. This slim book—probably technically a booklet—was so well written that I read all of it and in the process identified one of the plants in our yard as “Green Thread” aka “Indian Tea” or “Navajo Tea.”  We’d just been calling it “that pretty plant w/the yellow pom-poms.”  I now have some drying to try.  And the bibliography led me to read…

In Progress:

Wild Plants of the Pueblo Province: Exploring Ancient and Enduring Uses by William W. Dunmire and Gail D. Tierney.  Centered around four parks in New Mexico, this books looks at various plants and how they were used by a wide variety of indigenous peoples.  Since one of the parks—Petroglyph National Monument—is very close to my house, I also ended up identifying several more of the plants in our yard, including scorpion weed, which is a far easier name to use than “that annoying plant that, although it has pretty purple flowers in the spring, gets all prickly and, worse, sticky, so let’s pull it.”  I started with the chapter on types of plants, but found the book so well-written, I’m reading the whole thing.

Song of the Wanderer by Bruce Coville.  Second book in the Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  So far, I’m enjoying.

DreamForge Magazine, issue six.  My copy arrived and is part of my relaxation reading.

Also:

I’ve finished my read-through of SK4, and am now doing lots of line edits.  I hope to finish and give Jim his copy later today.

Little Sparkles

August 5, 2020

Kumihimo bracelets, lanyards, and key-chains

A lot going on here…  I’m now immersed in getting a copy of SK4 (the yet untitled fourth book in the Star Kingdom series I’m writing in collaboration with David Weber) into Jim’s hands.  My website is undergoing some revision, so it’s going to look a bit weird for a few weeks.  Also, I appreciate how many of you have signed up for my mailing list.  I will be doing a drawing for a giveaway before the end of summer (I hope), and mailing list people will get their own special “thank you” at that time.

Lately, when I’m not being a writer, a small business owner, or cat wrangler, I’m definitely spending a lot of time on my garden.  Monday night, it got bombarded by hail, but most of the plants have survived.  Yay!

Another favorite hobby activity is beadwork.  A couple of years ago, courtesy of a birthday gift from my sister, Ann, I became devoted (Jim would probably say “addicted”) to doing kumihimo with beads.  I mentioned my new interest at the time, but I thought I’d share where that has taken me nearly two years later.

The photo shows a limited assortment of the pieces I’ve created: limited, because I’ve given quite a few bracelets and several keychains as gifts.  Recently, I graduated to making longer pieces.  Ironically, I’d intended to use these as badge lanyards for future conventions but, now that everything has gone virtual, I guess I’m making them so I’ll be ready when there are conventions again!

I will admit, as much as I enjoy the bracelets, there’s something very satisfying about making a thirty inch or so rope.  These involve approximately 1,800 beads per finished piece, each of which is braided in individually.

Unlike my writing, which takes many months before anyone other than me gets to see the finished project, or a gardening project, which also takes a long time to develop, kumihimo gives me something to look at and enjoy within a few hours (although the complete project takes longer, depending on length and complexity).

There’s probably something profound there about creative contrasts, but I haven’t figured it out.  What I do know is that I really enjoy my little sparkles!

Tuesday “Tah-Dah”!

August 4, 2020

Roary: Officially Ours

We have been informed that Roary the kitten, who came to us as a seven week-old medical foster from the City of Albuquerque’s shelter, is now officially ours!

He’s about 19 weeks old now.  When he came to live with us, he was recovering from a gloved left hind leg.  When the time came for him to be neutered, he turned out to have a cryptic testicle.  This meant that what should have been a very routine surgery turned out to be a bit more complex and include ten days of isolation post-surgery.  If you’ve ever tried to keep a four month old kitten from jumping, leaping, and racing…

Let’s just say, we did our best.  And our best seems to have been enough.

Welcome, Roary!