Archive for March, 2023

FF: Genre and Community

March 24, 2023
Persphone and a Tasty Book

On March 28th, I’ll be on a panel being hosted by my alma mater, Fordham University.  The topic is Science Fiction and Fantasy: Genre and Community.  The gimmick is that all of the panelists are associated with Fordham.  The panel is free, but you do need to get a “ticket” to attend.  I’ll put a link at the bottom of this post.

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:

Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Very good.

Digger by Ursula Vernon.  A massive graphic novel.  Will make you laugh and cry and think.

Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon).  Still excellent.  

In Progress:

Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Not focused on Miles, which is a nice change, although I do like Miles.

Lots of reading toward the Nebula awards.

Also:

Smithsonian.  Some very good articles in this issue. 

And here’s the promised link:

https://www.universe.com/events/science-fiction-and-fantasy-genre-and-community-tickets-PW4RC5

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Snack-Sized

March 22, 2023
Regular and Snack-Sized!

When I mentioned to someone that Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge were out/coming out soon in mass market paperback, she looked puzzled.

“I thought the originals were paperbacks?”

“Those were the bigger paperbacks: trade paperbacks.”

“Oh!  The snack-sized,” she replied, revelation dawning.  After we both finished laughing, she went on to say apologetically, “I’m sorry.  I haven’t read those yet.  I’m not really into kids’ books.”

“They aren’t kids’ books,” I said.  “I mean, there’s no graphic violence.  Except for one scene in Aurora Borealis Bridge, anything sexual is more implied than shown.  But I wouldn’t say they’re kids’ books.  The material is a lot more than ‘coming of age,’ themes, unless you consider the fact that three of my characters are learning that being over fifty doesn’t mean life is over.”

“But colors on the covers,” she protested, “and the animal people.  That’s what made me think they were for kids.”

I swallow a really, really deep sigh, because I like this person.  “The coloring on the covers is because that’s the color of the aurora borealis.  Now, I realize that­—unless they’re presented as aliens, like the Kzin—a lot of people do demote anything with animals or animal people, but…”

“I wasn’t demoting!”

“Assuming?  Whatever.  I’d hoped that given how I handled wolves and intelligent animals in the Firekeeper Saga, I’d gotten beyond this assumption.  It’s weird.  There’s a long mythic history of animal people that is definitely not for kids.  Would you say fauns and satyrs are for kids?”

“With all the sexual stuff?  No!  My aunt has a cup she bought in Greece with a satyr… “The description that followed was definitely not G.  Or P.G.  I’m not sure about R.  Might not have been R, either.

“Okay.  How about Anubis or Thoth or Bastet?

“The Egyptian gods? No…”

“Or various representations of Coyote or Raven?”

“I get your point…”

“Then I’ll stop lecturing.  Promise.  But there are a lot more examples.  And, teaser time…  This actually has something to do with the story.”

“And I’ll give the books a try…”

So, there you have it…  Library of the Sapphire Wind, Aurora Borealis Bridge, soon to be followed by House of Rough Diamonds.  Available in trade paperback, e-book, and soon the “snack-sized” version at the book seller of your choice!

FF: What?

March 17, 2023
Dandy and Digger

This week I’m mostly continuing material from last week, and greatly enjoying.  Digger is even better than the last time I read it.  Just to quote one small bit: “The Shadowchild just… follows me around.  And asks me ethical questions.  Hard ethical questions.”  Funny and absolutely true all at once.

When I think about it, ethics is an underlying theme in all of this week’s reading.

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:

“High Times in the Low Parliament” by Kelly Robson.

In Progress:

 Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook. 

Digger by Ursula Vernon.  A massive graphic novel.  Will make you laugh and cry and think. 

Also:

Finished, the latest Archeology magazine, moving on to Smithsonian

And more Nebula nominated works.

The Reality

March 15, 2023
Mei-Ling Multitasks

This week began with my turning in the short story that has been obsessing me for the last several weeks.  The title is “The Owl’s Cry,” and I’ll let you know if it is accepted, as well as where you may be able to find it.

With Bei and Fu and the fate of the five aunties no longer crowding my brain, I’ll be sliding back into the further adventures of Stephanie Harrington and associates in the yet-untitled fifth Star Kingdom novel, which I’m writing in collaboration with David Weber.  A New Clan (aka SK4 for those of you who have been reading these Wanderings since that book didn’t have a title either) is now available in a wide variety of formats, including hard cover, ebook, audiobook, and pretty soon now, mass market paperback.

Of course, somewhere in there, my writing on SK5 is likely to be interrupted as the next Over Where novel, House of Rough Diamonds, goes into production.

What?  Don’t know about Over Where?  It begins with Library of the Sapphire Wind and continues in Aurora Borealis Bridge, available in trade paperback, ebook, and, soon, mass market paperback.  We’re hoping for an audiobook, too.  Nag your favorite audiobook producers so they know you want it!  House of Rough Diamonds carries on the story.

Anyhow, that is the reality of being a professional writer, rather than a happy hobbyist.  You have numerous projects—all of which you’re likely very attached to in one way or another—competing with each other for your time, each with its own deadline.

So, off to see what Stephanie wants to get up to next.  Later!

FF: Once Again

March 10, 2023
Persephone on the Dark Divide

It’s Nebula award season, and once again, I’m reading some nominated works.  First on my list is “High Times in the Low Parliament” by Kelly Robson.

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 Twice-Drowned Saint by C.S.E. Cooney.  Vivid setting, interesting characters, and some fine plot twists.  I scored an ARC of this, but I’m happy to announce you can get it as a new release.

The Dark Divide by Carrie Vaughan.  Novelette.

In Progress:

 Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Just started.

Digger by Ursula Vernon.  A massive graphic novel.  Just starting a re-read.

Also:

The latest Archeology magazine.  Almost done.

Recharging

March 8, 2023
Kumihimo Beaded Necklace

Last week, when I was reading Illuminations by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon), I came across a couple of lines that really spoke to me.  Rosa has just asked her uncle how an artist can replenish the “heart” that has gone into a drawing.

“You must feed your heart,” said Uncle Alfonso.  “With beautiful things and places you have never seen and books that bring you joy.  Then your heart will grow back and you can paint again.”

(Side note: While the book is ostensibly a middle-grade Fantasy/Horror novel, it actually has a lot to say about the various trials and tribulations of being a professional artist.)

While my art isn’t painting, I absolutely understood this.  Since I’ve been pretty worn out lately, it was a good reminder that I need to take time to recharge or I won’t be able to write, no matter how the deadlines loom.  Oh, I could put words on paper, but they would not be the right words or the best words.

In this day and age where social media, in particular, often treats writing or drawing or any other form of art as a sort of race—How many words did you write this week?  How many stories did you sell?  Did you make your deadline?—it is easy to forget the joy, the heart, and all the rest.

How do I recharge my creative energy?  For one, I read, as those of you who follow my Friday Fragments know.  I do various crafts.  My current “go to” is kumihimo with beads, but I’ve been feeling a desire to pull out my polymer clay.  I garden.  I play role-playing games, which for me are a great reminder that storytelling is fun.

Although I don’t really feel like going on a trip, I’ve resolved that as the weather improves, I’m definitely going to take time away from my desk to go to the Botanical Gardens and watch Spring unfold.  Time “wasted” won’t be wasted at all, because I’ll write better, and feed my heart from which all the good stories come.

It beats the alternative which Rosa’s grandma describes very well.  “…you will lie around and mope and pick at your food for days until your family is sick to death of it.”

How do you recharge after a hard week? 

Tons of Research

March 3, 2023
Roary Illuminates

This week most of my reading time went to research for a short story I’m writing.  I enjoyed doing the research, actually, but it is why my list hasn’t changed much.

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:

Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon).  Re-read before bed because the Cooney can be just a little too vivid for peaceful dreams.

In Progress:

European Travel for Monstrous Gentlewomen by Theodora Goss.  Audiobook.  Excellent reader.

The Twice-Drowned Saint by C.S.E. Cooney.  Vivid setting, interesting characters, and some fine plot twists.  I scored an ARC of this, but I’m happy to announce you can get it as a new release.

Illuminations by T. Kingfisher. One of her “middle grade” books, but the monster is creepy as all get out, so definitely a shade of horror.

Also:

The latest Archeology magazine.  Now reading about re-analysis of a burial of a neolithic shaman.

Still Inside Out

March 1, 2023
Persephone Tanked

My life is still rather like a cat in the guinea pig tank: more than a little crazy.

However, it’s not bad.  Jim’s shoulder is healing nicely, and he should move to out-patient PT this week.

I’ve found time to write, splitting my efforts between a short story with an upcoming deadline and the next of the Star Kingdom novels with David Weber.

I even saw a coyote out for his constitutional when I was coming home with the groceries. 

Now, off to do a bit of research, then back to writing.