Archive for April, 2022

FF: Lots of Short

April 29, 2022
Persephone Falls, Too

I’m finishing off my reading for the Nebulas, which means I’m reading a lot of shorter work now.  Even if I like a piece, it must pass the final hurdle of needing to be Science Fiction or Fantasy to get my vote.  If setting details could be filed off, and the same tale told as mainstream, even if it’s good, it won’t get my vote.

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.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger.  So far quite promising, but I’m only a few segments in.

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire. Audiobook. Ghost story, with some interesting twists on what a ghost is.

In Progress:

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chamber.  Audiobook.

Also:

Time travel via back issues of Vogue.  I keep old issues so I can tear out interesting pictures when time permits.  As I scavenge, I find myself back in 2019, when no one had heard of pandemics.  A bit creepy, to be honest.

Kids Are Alright, But…

April 27, 2022

New Books, New Podcasts

Several weeks ago, David Butler and I discussed Aurora Borealis Bridge, as well as wandering into a bunch of other topics, for Baen Free Radio.  The chat is now available on video or audio only.

Since Aurora Borealis Bridge is the second book in the Over Where series, there will be spoilers.  You might enjoy starting with our chat about Library of the Sapphire Wind which is also available on video or audio only.

The other day, a long-time friend commented that the Over Where books are not the only ones I’ve written where the protagonist is not a younger person.  Mira, the main character in Child of a Rainless Year, is in her early fifties.  What many readers, looking at the silver-haired me of these days, might not realize is that when I wrote Mira, I was actually in my early-forties.  I used my husband, Jim (who is ten years older than me), as a touchpoint for getting right what she would have had available to her as a kid.

My original plan for the “Breaking the Wall” books (Thirteen Orphans, Nine Gates, Five Odd Honors) was to have some of the older Orphans be the point of view characters.  Brenda Morris became a point of view character at the request of Tor’s Tom Doherty, who said he felt the Firekeeper readers expected me to be writing about a younger character.

In reality, writing about characters older than me was more common than not early in my writing career.  Older people can be much more interesting to write about.  They’ve had life experiences that go beyond first kiss or getting a date to the prom or first jobs or dealing with annoying parents and/or teachers…  Well, you get the point.

This is not to say that I don’t like writing about younger people.  I taught college English for a good number of years, and there’s nothing like reading freshman essays to give you a realistic appreciation of the mindset of people in their late teens and early twenties.  What I love the most is that on some topics, they can be as sophisticated as people much older than they are, while in others they are enchantingly naïve. 

For this reason, I resolved that the Over Where books would have competent characters in all age ranges, and that if someone made mistakes, it would not be because they were a “behind the times” senior or a “dumb kid.”  It would be because they were people, and people, no matter the age, level of education, or amount of life experience, are perfectly capable of making mistakes.

On that note, I’m going to wander on back to my writing, and see what my characters are getting up to now.

Journeys in Print

April 22, 2022
Mei Ling Stalks the White Hart

I’ve been really busy, as I get back into my writing, but I’m still finding time to read.  I seem to have been reading a lot of stories in which journeys, not necessarily quests, are a theme.

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.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.  Audiobook.  Non-military space opera setting.  Good aliens.  Structure is more like interlocking short stories than a novel, but very good. 

The White Hart by Nancy Springer.  Celtic flavor fantasy in which love in its many forms, rather than merely romance is a driving force.  Lovely prose.

In Progress:

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger.  So far quite promising, but I’m only a few segments in.

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire. Audiobook. Just started.

Also:

“A Psalm for the Wild-Built” by Becky Chambers.  Novella.  Richly descriptive, with focus on conflicts within the self, rather than without.  Sort of a non-dystopian “Canticle for Leibowitz” meets some of Clifford Simak’s more pastoral work.  Definitely, SF for more reasons than setting.

Child of a Rainless Year

April 20, 2022
Original Cover, New Cover

As I promised last week, I’m going to wander on about the latest novel in my backlist to have a new e-book release, this one with cover design by Jane Noel.

Oh! By the way, the new e-book release contains new content in the form of a short essay about some of the impulses behind the novel my longtime pen pal, Paul Dellinger, has called “a love letter to your adopted home state.”

Child of a Rainless Year was initially released in 2005 from Tor.  Since these WW didn’t exist then, I feel I must tell you a bit more about the novel.

Here’s the new cover copy…

Personal History Shrouded in Mystery

Even before her mother vanished, Mira was beginning to realize that her upbringing was far different from that of the children around her.  She has no idea who her father was.  Her mother, Colette, was a distantly elegant figure, more interested in keeping Mira isolated than in being part of her upbringing.

Then, when Mira was nine, Colette vanished without a trace. Mira was adopted by loving foster parents, and let herself forget the mother she had hardly known.

That changes when Mira comes into her inheritance.  She learns that not only does she still own the peculiar house in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where she had lived as a child, but that the question of what happened to Colette still haunts her.

Seeking closure, Mira returns to Phineas House, but the more she learns, the more she realizes that Colette was not what she seemed, and that their family is intertwined with mystical secrets that have influenced not only Mira’s own life, but the history of the city they have warped by their very presence.

At the time of its release, Child of a Rainless Year received numerous glowing reviews.  Here’s the starred review from Booklist:

“Lindskold conjures the atmosphere of nontourist New Mexico, beautifully evoking Las Vegas’ long, turbulent history while spinning a fantastic yarn about Mira’s odd inheritance. Neither an explosive story nor an edge-of-the-seat-thriller, the novel’s strength lies in the unfolding of Mira’s character.” 

Alan Robson reminded me this past week that he’d also given it a glowing review.  Here’s an excerpt of his June 2005 review.

“There are some very special books in the world; books that take you away from yourself and transport you to another place from which you do not want to return. When you read one of these special books, you start to resent the intrusions of reality. It begins to seem pale and thin by comparison. Mundane things like eating and sleeping just get in the way of the transcendental experience of reading that special book and you can’t wait to return to it.

Child of a Rainless Year by Jane Lindskold is one of these very special books.”

Alan caught something about the novel that many people missed, so I’m going to take the liberty of quoting a bit more:

“This is a fantasy novel and fantastic things are happening right from the very first page, though that does not become clear until much later on in the story. We are introduced so seductively to the world behind the world that we simply don’t notice until suddenly it is all around us and even the most bizarre circumstances seem so natural that we simply accept them as a matter of course.

“One of the things that makes this book such an absorbing read is its astonishing sense of place and character. The tiny town of Las Vegas (yes – it really exists) is drawn in all its brown and dusty glory. You can taste the grit as you breathe. And all the characters in the book, even the spear-carriers, step alive from the page and demand their moment of glory. Mira in particular is so real and so vivid that she becomes extremely easy to identify with. Her problems quickly become your problems, and you want them to be solved just as much as she does. The pages almost turn themselves. It becomes vital that you find out what happens next, and nothing must be allowed to get in the way of that.

Child of a Rainless Year is the most perfect piece of storytelling that I’ve ever read.”

For those of you who don’t like e-books, I also have the original hardcover available in my website bookshop.  As always, signing ad personalization are free!

Now, off to write something new!

FF: Still Looking

April 15, 2022
Roary Contemplates Meat Loaf

I finished the two books I was reading late this week, and I’m still looking for the next one.  Maybe I’ll catch up on short fiction and my heap of magazines.

As I mentioned in the WW this week, I’m talking via Zoom to Parsec, the Pittsburgh area SF/F club on Saturday the 16th.  If you’re interested, here’s a link where you can register.  The event is, as far as I know, free and open to non-club members.

As I also mentioned, we drove out to Phoenix for a funeral last weekend, so my usual reading was interrupted.  We did listen to part of an excellent audiobook of The Fellowship of the Rings on the road, getting up to where they’re about to enter Moria.  The plan is to resume next trip.

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.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. 

Meatloaf: To Hell and Back by the eponymous performer and David Dalton.  Ultimately, I found this a sad book.  More “to hell” than “back.”

In Progress:

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.  Audiobook.  Plot light, so far, but lively, quirky characters more than make up for it.  Well-done aliens always a plus for me.  Non-military space opera setting.

Also:

Smithsonian, the latest issue.  Finished and found some very interesting articles. 

New Releases! Rocky Insights!

April 13, 2022
Two New Releases!

Several bits of news, then my insight from the past week.  (There’s also an extra photo!)

As you probably guessed from the image above, I have Book Release News!

Aurora Borealis Bridge, sequel to Library of the Sapphire Wind, is now officially released as both an e-book and a trade paperback.

My friend, award-winning reviewer, Alan Robson, who has permission to not like the same sorts of books as me or even my books (or else we could never have written a column together for seven years), had this to say about the series:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I even stayed up past my bedtime just so I could finish the first book!  It’s an amazingly complex story, quite different from what I expected at the start…. I think it’s very clever, very witty, often funny and really rather subversive in the way in which it turns so many cliches on their heads. Well done, very well done.”

I’ve been writing about the two Over Where books on and off for a while now.  If you’d like to know more, you can read about Library of the Sapphire Wind here.

As for Aurora Borealis Bridge, here’s a longer version of the cover copy that doesn’t have too many spoilers!

Can It Get Any Stranger?

Absolutely!

When Peg, Meg, and Teg were first summoned Over Where, vast and varied life experience (along with wide reading choices) helped them to adjust to a world where they were the only humans, magic was real, ships could fly, and reincarnation was a confirmed fact.

In the company of the “inquisitors,” Xerak, Grunwold, and Vereez, the three newly appointed mentors rediscovered the Library of the Sapphire Wind, and, within it, revelations that transformed the young people’s pasts into a vast tangle of lies and half-truths.

But there are still questions to be answered.  Before they are done, Meg the retired librarian, Teg the archeologist turned mage, and the multi-talented, ever surprising Peg will deal with kidnappings, betrayal, arcane artifacts, romantic intrigues, and the inescapable reality that past lives cast long shadows.

Together, the three mentors and their young allies will uncover the startling truth about what lies on the other side of the Aurora Borealis Bridge—a truth that holds the secret of Over Where, and that will change all their lives forever.

As for the other image there with Aurora Borealis Bridge, I’m happy to announce that at long last, there is a new e-book edition of my novel Child of a Rainless Year available at several popular e-tailers.  Since this WW has wandered on almost long enough, I’ll stop here and save talking about this novel for next week’s WW.

If you can’t wait or have any questions about any of my books, I’m doing a Zoom chat with Parsec, the Pittsburgh area SF/F club this coming Saturday, April 16, at 1:00 pm EST.  Here’s a link where you can sign up: Parsec meeting.   

Oh, and the insight?  It’s related to the picture below.

On Monday, Jim and I came back from Arizona, where we went for my aunt’s funeral.  This photo was taken at one of the rest stops along the way home from Tucson.  I guess it’s proof that no matter how sad the occasion, no matter how tough the road, you can find beauty along the way.

Beauty Along the Way

FF: The Weight of Expectations

April 8, 2022
Mei-Ling Has Her Suspicions

One thing a lot of my reading this week seemed to be dealing with was the theme of expectations, whether those of a cop who has his mind made up in advance, or those of the “fat kid” or the overlooked “little sister,” it’s been good to think about.

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.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls by Charles De Lint.  ARC.  Quite enjoyed.  I’ll let you know when it’s released!

Thornwood by Leah Cypess.  Sleeping Beauty retold, this time (it seems retelling Sleeping Beauty is becoming an industry) from the point of view of her constantly overlooked sibling, Briony.  Although the plot is creative, what really makes this book “work” is the subtle handling of the theme of how expectations shape our relationships with family, events, even ourselves. 

In Progress:

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins.  Multiple intertwined plots.  So far, my favorite is the perfume shop in New Orleans.

Meatloaf: To Hell and Back by the eponymous performer and David Dalton.  Short and anecdotal, like a bowl of peanuts, it’s hard not to read just one more.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.  Audiobook.  Plot light, so far, but lively, quirky characters more than make up for it.  Well-done aliens always a plus for me.  Non-military space opera setting.

Also:

Smithsonian, the latest issue. 

Live Studio Audience

April 6, 2022
Me Reading at ASFS

When I was a kid, television shows routinely had laugh tracks, a holdover, I guess, from the days when there were live studio audiences.  Being the sort of person who likes to lose herself in a show or story, I always found these disconcerting.  I mean, this was supposed to be a “real” situation, not a stage show, so who was laughing, and why didn’t the characters react?

Last week, I gave my first live reading since 2019, for the Albuquerque Science Fiction Society.   Since I’d read from the opening of Library of the Sapphire Wind for several virtual cons, including last year’s Bubonicon, I decided to read from a later section: the stealing of Slicewind.

Suddenly, I have a whole new appreciation for that live audience experience.  I’ve done a lot of live readings in my life, going back to when I taught college English, and even before that to when I read to younger siblings or kids I was babysitting.

Readings via Zoom were my first experience with reading to an audience I couldn’t hear.  It was, to say the least, disconcerting, because I couldn’t tell if they were “with” me or not.

Getting a feel for audience reaction doesn’t just involve the obvious things, like someone laughing at what I hoped would be a funny line.  It’s something more.  Even a reading of a serious passage gets a reaction from the audience, even if—maybe especially if—no one makes a sound.

I recently read a mystery novel titled The Broken Vase that featured a violinist “losing” his audience.  The author, Rex Stout, captured how little things—shuffling feet, turning of pages in a program book, restless motion—indicated that the audience (which politely kept its silence, as would be expected for such a performance at that date) was confused and underwhelmed.  These days, I suppose, we’d add peering into the omnipresent phone.

My pleasure at reading for ASFS gave me a whole new appreciation for the readers of audiobooks.  Many of these are actors, and would be accustomed to some interaction with an audience.  Sitting in a soundproofed studio must be as disconcerting for them as reading to a muted Zoom group was for me.

So, let’s hear it for the live studio audience!

FF: Author’s Copies Arrive!

April 1, 2022
Coco Contemplates the Aurora Borealis Bridge

I wasn’t April Fooling you when I said that the official release date for Aurora Borealis Bridge, print edition, had been set back to April 12th, due to problems at the printer.  (The e-book version should be available as of April 5th.)  However, my author’s copies arrived this week, so it’s possible some brick-and-mortar stores may have their copies sooner.

And, for those of you in New Mexico, remember, I’m presenting tonight at the ASFS meeting.  I invite questions, will be reading from Library of the Sapphire Wind, and I even have a few nifty things to give away. 

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.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark.  Audiobook.  Enjoyed.  A good plot, a rich setting, characters I was absolutely rooting for all the way.

The Broken Vase by Rex Stout.  A non-Nero Wolfe mystery.  Despite one element I absolutely could not believe, I enjoyed this.

DreamForge Anvil, issue 7.  A variety of looks at the question of what is the meaning of a life.

In Progress:

Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls by Charles De Lint.  ARC.  So far, very hard to put down.

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins.  Recommended by a friend.  Halfway.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.  Audiobook.  Just started.

Also:

American Archeology Magazine, an earlier issue I somehow missed finishing.