Archive for June, 2022

FF: Wonders All Around

June 30, 2022
Mei-Ling Seeks the Invisible World

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:

DreamForge Anvil, issue 8.  Enjoyed most of the stories.

In Progress:

The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett.  Audiobook.  I find Arthur a bit annoying in his complacent privilege and technophobia, but I realize the latter other is something some of my friends would say I share, as I do prefer print to electronic books!  However, I use tech quite a lot for research, which Arthur is unbelievably clueless about for a modern college professor.

Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia A. McKillip.  Short story collection.  Lovely prose, but many of the stories seem like part one of a novel.  My favorite so far is “Knight of the Well,” which seemed like a complete tale.

The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill (illustrated by her as well).  My “before bed” book right now.

The Animal World of the Pharaohs by Patrick F. Houlihan.  This 1996 study is enjoyable and engrossing.  Over half-way, enjoying, although it’s such a big tome I can’t read it before bed, which is slowing me down.

Also:

The latest issue of Archeology.

Cooler, Wetter, Writing More

June 29, 2022
Caged Catnip

I’m happy to report that the cool, wet weather continued all through last week and, maybe because I felt as if we were having a party, my writing went very well.

What am I writing?  Well, since I really like the Over Where setting of my books Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge, I started another book with those characters.

Since I don’t want to provide spoilers, all I’ll say is that I’m having a really good time with it. 

I think we’re going to have our first squash and eggplant, if not this week, then soon to come.  We’re already picking radishes, arugula, and Swiss chard to embellish our salads.

However, as far as our guinea pigs are concerned, the most important development is that we have fresh grass to pick for them.

The cats are keeping an eye on the baby catnip plant, which resides in a cage so the local outdoor felines can’t love it to death.

On that note, time to climb aboard Slicewind and sail in pursuit of…  Well, I’ll just need to see.

Later!

FF: Bouncing Around

June 24, 2022
Mei-Ling Thinks This Book Is Tasty

This week, my reading is bouncing around among fiction and non-fiction, old stuff and new.

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. 

My audio this week is a reader recommendation.

Completed:

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch.  Yes.  Worked well, despite my having had spoilers from having read later works in the series.

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  The light tone hides a discussion of many serious issues.

The Hand in the Glove by Rex Stout.  Theodolinda “Dol” Bonner is the detective Nero Wolfe calls on when he needs a reliable female detective.  This novel looks at her first major case.  However, Rex Stout’s third person narratives are less lively than his first person, and in this one point of view jumps around.  I can’t help but wonder how this same plot would have worked as a Nero Wolfe.  Still, for a book first published in 1937, the female who runs her own detective business is a pretty radical concept!

In Progress:

DreamForge Anvil, issue 8.  Just starting.

The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett.  Audiobook.  Just starting.

The Animal World of the Pharaohs by Patrick F. Houlihan.  This 1996 study is enjoyable, even if it falls a little too often into the “votive figure” or “probably religious significance” school of archeology.  Makes me wonder what the Funko Pop figures will be seen as by future archeologists.  (‘ve enjoyed the comments on the significance of Funko Pop figures.  I can take the idea that they just might be clan totems.)

Also:

Bouncing around between several magazines, and some research reading.

Dancing in the Rain

June 22, 2022
Lilies in the Rain

This week, the big news is we finally, finally, finally got RAIN!  It started on Friday, and has continued for several days, bringing along with the moisture lower temperatures, and, even better, for wildfire beleaguered New Mexico, a reduction in fire risk.

When Friday evening brought us the first of several possible storms, I headed out while it was still raining to start moving water out of the 32-gallon trash barrels under our downspouts to additional containers.  Yes.  It was dark. Yes.  It was wet.  But this was a cause for celebration.

Several subsequent storms have definitely brough rainfall at our house to up over an…  inch.  Yes.  You read that right.  Over one inch.  Not yet to even one and a quarter, although we have hope.

For all of you who are in flood zones or places that get a lot of rain, more than an inch of rain in one series of storms is a big deal for our area.  My part of New Mexico is classified as “high altitude grassland” because we “average” 7.5 inches of rain in a year.

That half of an inch is what keeps us from being classified as desert.  Lately we haven’t been getting it.  Jim and I have most of our yard mulched and landscaped with native plants, but even those have been suffering.   I’d been worried we were going to lose a couple of trees because we couldn’t give them enough water to help them deal with temperatures over a hundred, high winds, and no rain.

There are lots of songs that associate “rainy days,” and sad times, but let me tell you, that isn’t the case in New Mexico, especially in this year of record fires. 

Saturday night, we joined some very kind friends for a ballgame at our local minor league park.  The game was rain delayed, but I didn’t see a single sour face from the ticket takers getting drizzled on, to the littlest kid.  Instead, there was a definite party atmosphere.

So, with a feeling of celebration, I’m off to do my writing. 

FF: Out of Order

June 17, 2022
Regal Persephone

This week’s reading is rather scattered, but enjoyable nonetheless.

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:

Solstice Wood by Patrician A. McKillip.  Contemporary fantasy, but with a tie to her non-contemporary novel Winter Rose.  I can see a re-read of that coming up when I can lay hands on a copy of Winter Rose.

False Value by Ben Aaronovitch.  Audiobook.  Peter Grant undercover…  as Peter Grant, which is an interesting conceit the author makes work. 

In Progress:

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch.  Yes.  I’m reading the series out of order.

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  The light tone hides a thoughtful concept.

The Animal World of the Pharaohs by Patrick F. Houlihan.  This 1996 study is enjoyable, even if it falls a little too often into the “votive figure” or “probably religious significance” school of archeology.  Makes me wonder what the Funko Pop figures will be seen as by future archeologists.

Also:

Various new magazines arrived.  In reading the latest Archeology, I was amused that the letter column showed that I wasn’t the only one annoyed at rather casually reached conclusions in some of the articles in the previous issue.

Pretties and Interviews

June 15, 2022
Pretties for You

Last week saw the release of A New Clan, the fourth Star Kingdom/Stephanie Harrington novel, written by me and David Weber.  I’ve been asked a few times if I’ll be doing any book events, since I’ve had three books out in the last six months.

(The other two are Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge, two books in my new “Over Where” series.)

I’m happy to report that I will have a couple of book events out here in the wild west.  On July 17, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. I’ll be at  Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ.

August 20, 2022 at Noon will see me in Dallas, Texas, at Half Price Books (5803 E. NW Highway Dallas, TX 75321). 

August 26-28, 2022 will see me at Bubonicon in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In addition to the books, there will be some nifty swag, including bookmarks, postcards, and buttons.

If you’re interested in hearing me talk about these new projects, I’ve done a few interviews.  The most recent is with Paul Semel, and you can read it here.  I’ve also done a few with the Baen Free Radio Hour.  Weber and I did a really long one, that should be posted any day now, although quite possibly in installments.

In person, I’m happy to sign books not specifically related to the event.  However, you might want to check with the bookstore in advance, as different stores have different policies related to bringing in material.

If you can’t make any of these events, feel free to post questions to the Comments.  There’s also Contact information on my website: www.janelindskold.com.  I do my best to answer promptly, but I’m sure you know what gets priority…

Yep.  That’s it.  Writing the next story! 

FF: Storm Breaks

June 10, 2022
Roary Plays Kaiju

Last week, I mentioned I was doing a lot of brainstorming.  This week, I’ve been turning that into prose.  Also, with the release of A New Clan, known to longtime readers of my WW and FF as SK4, the latest Star Kingdom / Stephanie Harrington novel, I’ve had lots of little jobs to do.

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 October Man by Ben Aaronovitch.  Audiobook.  Novella.  Listed as book 7.5 in the series, it’s a standalone set in Germany.

Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi.  The opening few pages are a downer for those of us who remember early 2020 all too well, but don’t worry, Jamie Gray won’t be dumped on the street in the midst of a building pandemic.

In Progress:

Solstice Wood by Patrician A. McKillip.  Contemporary fantasy, but with a tie to her novel not-contemporary novel Winter Rose.  I can see a re-read of that coming up when I can lay hands on a copy of Winter Rose.

False Value by Ben Aaronovitch.  Audiobook.  Peter Grant undercover… as Peter Grant.

Also:

Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon), which I read as an advanced copy, is now out. Jim and I both very much enjoyed this tale of a young woman who goes after a prince who believes that abusing his wives is completely within his range of rights. Although marketed as a “dark fairytale,” it has a lot of Kingfisher’s weird and wonderful sense of humor as well.

Speaking of storms…  We’re having a very dry spring.  If any of you have surplus rain you can send, our garden would be grateful.

The Illusion of Productivity

June 8, 2022
Dandy Poses with Productivity

A week or so ago, a writer friend of mine said something about my having three books out in the last six months. 

“You’re so productive!  How can I ever live up to that?”

Since yesterday marked the release of A New Clan, my newest release, written in collaboration with David Weber, and the fourth novel in the Star Kingdom/Stephanie Harrington Honorverse series, I thought I’d pull back the curtain and show you just how it works that I have three books out in six months.

Our tale starts in 2017 when, on a wander through Albuquerque’s Old Town with Jim, we stop in an art gallery.  I ask the proprietor, who also happens to be one of the featured artists, about the stories behind some of her paintings, which feature ravens and hawks wearing various bits of gear.  I am astonished to learn she has no story.

I start wondering what story I might write.  Later, this merges with my desire to write a portal fantasy in which the protagonists will be older women, rather than people usually something younger than sixteen. 

In April 2017, I start writing this story.  Its title is Library of the Sapphire Wind.  By early October of 2017, I have 150,000 words.   Then I need to put it on side because I have other work to do.

Some of that involves getting my indie pub novel Asphodel on various sites for sale.

Some of it involves doing new e-book editions of the first six Firekeeper Saga.

Some of it involves writing Wolf’s Search and Wolf’s Soul, the new Firekeeper Saga novels.  These will keep me busy in various aspects until early 2020.

Some of it involves various short fiction writing projects.

In July of 2018, at Congregate in North Carolina, David Weber tells me that Baen Books is interested in new books in our Star Kingdom series. 

I tell him “great,” and get back to work on other projects.  Oh, and that October Jim will have his first knee replacement surgery.  He won’t be able to drive for at least six weeks, so all errands are on me. But I keep working…

Some of what I do is get backlist editions of Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls, out.  Later on, I’ll also do backlist editions of all the “Breaking the Wall” novels, and both “Artemis Awakening” novels.

In July of 2019, Weber and I finally start working out the Star Kingdom novel mentioned a year earlier.  In September, we sign a contract for three new books.  Brainstorming and such happens, and in January of 2020, I start serious writing on what we call SK4, right up until it becomes A New Clan.

In August of 2020, I send SK4 to Weber.  That’s when I finally get back to…  Do you even remember it? My project from back in 2017, Library of the Sapphire Wind.  By the time I have finished reviewing it, expanding it, and such, the novel will have grown to the point that it needs to be two books: Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge.

Oh, and Jim is hospitalized with a cryptic infection in July 2020, and has another knee replacement surgery in September 2020.  And there’s this pandemic going on…

In March of 2021, I send Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge to Toni at Baen.  She accepts them in April of 2021.  Pretty much all my writer life for the rest of 2021 and into 2022 is spent working on these books, then on the final version of what is now being called A New Clan.

So, is it three books in six months?  Sure, as publication dates go, absolutely.  However, as my working life goes, it’s more like five books (remember Wolf’s Search and Wolf’s Soul), as well as some backlist stuff in five years, and a fair amount of short fiction.

Why did I go into all of this?  Because too often writers or artists or whatever get intimidated by other people’s perceived productivity.  Yes.  I work hard.  I work steadily.  But I don’t work sloppily fast or in a fashion that’s ridiculously productive.

Moreover, it’s highly unlikely I’ll have a book published in 2023, or if I do, it will be late in the year.  But I’ll be writing, and I’ll be working, because it’s the day-by-day writing, not the publications, that is the real life of a writer.

FF: While Brainstorming

June 3, 2022
Roary is Awake and Mildly Indignant

This last week, I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming as I move into the second part of my current work in progress.  This also means I tend to read a lot, because it shuts up my forebrain while my hindbrain works.

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:

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Spies, intrigue, and hints of romance in this sideline novel in her popular Barrayar setting/Vorkosigan saga.

By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie.  Re-read.  Tuppence and Tommy.

Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch.  Finally, a resolution to the Faceless Man, but not maybe what most will expect.

In Progress:

The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch.  Audiobook.  Novella.  Listed as book 7.5 in the series, it’s a standalone set in Germany.

Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi.  The opening few pages are a downer for those of us who remember early 2020 all too well, but don’t worry, Jamie Gray won’t be dumped on the street in the midst of a building pandemic.

Also:

A variety of magazine articles, including American Craft, passed along to me by a friend.  I also went through about two years of Jim’s old photography magazines, because I enjoy journeys into alien worlds.

Bunny, Treecats, and More

June 1, 2022
Mei-Ling Dives into a Good Book

Let’s start with the saga of the bunny, and move to news about treecats and then a little more fun.

Last week, I told you about how a tiny bunny had gotten into our yard and was eating our seedlings, specializing on beans, but not hesitating to eat Swiss chard and sample eggplant (plants) as well.

Jim worked hard getting to critical areas of our garden beds fenced off.  Wednesday (after I had posted the WW), Jim’s hard work paid off in a really weird way.

The baby bunny was back in the garden bed, but had trapped itself.  Our guess is that it used the higher ground outside of the fence to jump over the fence, then couldn’t get out.  Jim had the bright idea of using one of our cat carriers to trap it, and between us we managed.  The bunny was small enough to fit in my hand, and very, very soft.

Jim then carried the little bunny off to a park/empty lot near of us that has a fair amount of cover.  I waited to post until today, while we waited to see if it had siblings, but we seem to be bunny free.  The fences, however, will stay in place until the seedlings are large enough that an opportune nibble will not kill the plant.

(We didn’t get any photos of the bunny this time.  The little critter was pretty scared, and we wanted to get it moved before it panicked itself to death.)

There are no treecats in our yard (at least that we’ve seen), but June 7 is the official release date of A New Clan, formerly known to dedicated readers of these WW as “SK4.”  It is the fourth “Star Kingdom/ Stephanie Harrington” book, written by me and David Weber in collaboration.  It picks up right after Treecat Wars.

If you’re interested in a sample, here’s a link to an advertisement that, in turn, will provide a link to a sample.

As for the “and more,” I’ve been doing a lot of interviews.  When Aurora Borealis Bridge came out, I had a request from Shepherd.com to do one about unusual portal fantasies.  I quite enjoyed myself, and found some good examples both past and more current.

In the background, as I type this, I hear Jim clicking away, trying to get some photos of the quail family (mom, dad, a dozen striped chicks) who are currently residing in in the big Russian sage in our front yard.  Keep your fingers crossed.  Maybe they’ll hold still long enough for us to share a picture or two!