Archive for the ‘Arts and Crafts’ Category

Creative Coolness

September 11, 2019

Creativity Takes Many Forms

This past week was special because it brought two of my favorite opportunities to immerse myself in cool creativity: the New Mexico State Fair and the third issue of DreamForge magazine.

DreamForge readers, no worries.  I’m not going to provide any spoilers, but I am going to remind readers that this issue contains the first ever Firekeeper short story.  It’s called “A Question of Truth,” and is set shortly before the events in the newly-released Firekeeper novel, Wolf’s Search.

As with all DreamForge stories, “A Question of Truth” is non-dystopian.  As with all Firekeeper stories, the perspective is Firekeeper’s own.  What a wolf thinks is right or wrong can differ greatly from what a human would.  Moreover, Firekeeper and Blind Seer are very unusual wolves.  Part of my joy in returning to writing about them is considering how they’ve changed while keeping their own strong assurance of who they are.

DreamForge is available only by subscription, but you get a lot for that subscription, including  the option to sign up for a free digital subscription to Space and Time magazine.  Details are available at the DreamForge website.

I know that for a lot of people the words “State Fair” conjure up crowds, carnival rides, and overpriced junk food.  For me, the State Fair is closer to the harvest festivals of old.  I rarely make it onto the midway at all and, if I do, it’s to look at the carousel.  While I’ve been known to try some of the food weirdness (a deep-fried Snickers bar, for example), I’m more likely to be indulging in a cup of coffee and a slice of homemade pie at the Asbury Café, a long-time tradition run by a local United Methodist Church.   This year I had blueberry-rhubarb.

When I go to the Fair, I’m there to look at animals, plants, and art, in no particular order.  If I was absolutely forced to choose a favorite building, it would be the hobby building.  This is where you can find arts and crafts ranging from woodworking to needlepoint to rock collecting to photography to baking and canning to quilting and sewing to doll collecting to Lego constructions to leather work to stained glass to beading…  Well you get the idea.  These are all on display under one roof.  Often there is someone there to tell you all about their particular favorite or to give a demonstration.

Wait!  Maybe my favorite thing is the rabbit and poultry show.  The bunnies and chickens have a new building this year.  We walked all over until we found it.  (For some bizarre reason, there were no signs telling visitors where to go!)  It’s down at the western end of the dairy barn, inside the barn, in case you’re wondering…

Then there’s Sheep to Shawl, where you can watch a sheep being sheared, see demonstrations on how the wool is cleaned, carded, spun, dyed, and then transformed by a wide variety of techniques including knitting, weaving, crochet, and felting into everything from hats and gloves to toys and, of course, the promised shawls.

Then there are the art shows…  Not one or two, but at least five, if you count the school art, which I absolutely do!

I could keep listing, but lists don’t really capture how wonderful it is to be on the fairgrounds, surrounded by creativity in its many and varied forms.  I come away every time impressed and awed and just generally happy.

We’re going back on Thursday to see what we couldn’t manage on our first trip.  I can hardly wait!

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Bopping From Topic To Topic

August 7, 2019

Goliath

This week’s Wandering is going dedicated to chaos.  First a public service announcement, then we’ll hop on the carousel and spin off to where Jane Gets Her Plots.  Warning…  To be permitted on this ride, you need to be able to handle illogical logic!

A recent piece of fan mail lifted my spirits by saying this about Wolf’s Search: “It’s been a long time since I read a Firekeeper book. In fact, I was fascinated at how you worked in things so I didn’t feel I was in too strange a world.”  Big grin!  I guess I achieved my nearly impossible goal of writing the seventh book in a series that doesn’t require a year of re-reading the six prior volumes before a reader can enjoy the new tale!

I’d like to thank those of you who have shared your enthusiasm for Wolf’s Search with me on Facebook, Twitter, and via e-mail.  Special thanks to those who have taken the time to share their thoughts on Amazon or other bookseller sites.  To a reader, my enthusiasm for my books is potentially suspect, so yours is very important!

Now for that carousel ride…

Late last week, I asked for suggestions as to what I might wander on about this week.  Nan Silvernail asked me to talk about carousels.  Later, Jack McDevitt said he’d like to hear something about how I come up with plots.  Today I’m going to do both…

Some of you might be wondering “Why did she ask about carousels?  I could see wolves or gardens or even guinea pigs, but carousels?”

Well, although I don’t think I’ve ever written a story that features a carousel in a major role, I’ve been a huge fan of carousels, quite possibly since I was pre-verbal.  I grew up in Washington, D.C., and was lucky enough to have parents who thought that taking the kids to the Smithsonian was a good thing to do.  On the Mall was an antique carousel.  Although we rarely got to ride it, we were allowed to stand and watch as it went around and around.

My enthusiasm for carousels was further fed by the collection of figures in what was then called something like the Museum of History and Technology.  For that reason, this was my second favorite of the Smithsonian museums.  (My first favorite was Natural History.)

When I went to Fordham University in New York for college, I had a chance to meet a whole new slew of carousels.  A perfect weekend jaunt was to go to Manhattan to the Complete Strategist gaming store, then for a ride on the carousel in Central Park.  One time I even went to an auction of a carousel collection.  They were impossibly expensive, but it was a once in a lifetime chance to see those figures.  I still have the catalog.

When I was in grad school, I purchased a fiberglass “carousel horse” on Canal Street.  The quotes are because this figure was never meant to be on a working carousel, but to be used as a store display piece.  Originally, my horse was just grey fiberglass but, after I moved to Virginia, I painted it with house paint.  Goliath—yes, named for the horse in the movie Ladyhawke—has been with me since.  In my yard, surrounded by Datura and Russian sage, resides Jerome Girard Giraffe.  He’s aluminum, and probably came off a decommissioned Mexican carousel.

Jerome Gerard Giraffe Among the Datura

Perhaps it’s not surprising that someone who loves carousels, which go round and round and up and down all at once, does not write in a linear fashion.  This definitely applies to how I come up with plots.  Basically, I don’t, at least not in advance.  Instead, I come up with a problem or several problems, then set out to find out how my characters will deal with them.  I don’t know the end of a story until shortly before I write it.  If I did, I’d get seriously bored and probably never finish it.

Character point of view is very important to how a story unfolds for me.  Firekeeper will see events one way, Laria or Ranz another.  None of these points of view are necessarily wrong.  I really enjoy immersing myself in different people, their values, priorities, and even shortcomings.

Organization comes both as I write and after.  As I am writing, I keep what I call a reverse outline that helps me keep track of the flow of time, and makes sure I don’t leave any point-of-view character out of the action for too long.  After I’m done writing a rough draft, I clean up stray bits that didn’t go anywhere and tighten my prose.

About the closest I come to outlining is to pull out crayons or colored pens and do freewriting exercises.  For these, I scrawl random elements from the novel on a blank sheet of paper, then draw lines between them, just to see if there are any links I’ve forgotten or overlooked.

Sometimes I have a revelation.  Other times the end result is just pretty, but at least I’ve had an excuse to play with my crayons.

Maybe I’d work differently if I wrote mysteries like Jack McDevitt’s Alex and Chase novels (I’m really enjoying Octavia Gone), and I needed to know the solution before my characters do.  However, working up an outline, even a very detailed proposal, doesn’t stimulate my creativity. It stops it.

This reminds me that I need to update the reverse outline for Wolf’s Soul, then maybe pull out those crayons and a stack of scrap paper and explore what’s going to happen when…  No.  I’m not teasing!  I really don’t know how the story is going to work out, and I’m very eager to learn.

Forthcoming Firekeeper! Catnip Socks!

May 1, 2019

Persephone Demos Catnip Socks

This week I finalized a deal for the very first short story ever featuring Firekeeper and Blind Seer to appear in DreamForge Magazine! “A Question of Truth” will be in issue three, which is scheduled for late August 2019.

“A Question of Truth” is set after Wolf’s Blood, but before the forthcoming novels Wolf’s Search and Wolf’s Soul.  It was inspired by my awareness that a certain event in Wolf’s Soul had a complete story that preceded it.  However, if I were to tell that story in the novel, it wouldn’t fit into the flow.  Since I needed to work those details out, I decided to do it in the form of a short story.

The opening sentence reads as follows: “Prompting from an insane jaguar is probably not the best reason to investigate a dark, dank hole in a hillside, but Firekeeper and Blind Seer had long ago learned not to ignore Truth.”  For the rest, you’ll need to read the story in DreamForge.  It will not be featured elsewhere for the foreseeable future.

You can subscribe to DreamForge here.  Both print and digital versions of the magazine are available.  We’re negotiating with Hugo award-winning artist Elizabeth Leggett to do the illustration.  (In case you didn’t know, DreamForge is lushly illustrated.)

To anticipate a likely question: “When is Wolf’s Search coming out?”  At this point, we’re still on schedule for August 2019.  I’d love to have the novel available for Bubonicon.  I’ll keep you posted as we get closer.  If you don’t want to miss updates, sign up for my mailing list, which you can do on the homepage of my website.  If I can manage to do something other than writing and pre-publication production, I might even have some sort of contest or giveaway to celebrate.

If you’d like to know more about how I’m handling this project, you might want to look at my Wandering from a couple month’s back, “Wolf’s Search (And Other Projects) Update,” here.

Now Persephone, one of my cats, says I’m being too serious this week.  She suggests that if I’m going to tell you about things I’m doing, I should tell you something really, really important like How To Make Catnip Socks.

Many years ago, my cats informed me that catnip mice were simply too small.  Although cats like toys they can bat around, cats really appreciate toys they can wrestle, kick, lie on, and use as pillows.

Here’s how to make a Catnip Sock.  Cut a large quantity of fresh catnip.  Stuff into a spare sock, stems and all.  (Tube socks work really well.)  Tie a knot on at the open end.  Present to cat.

 As the catnip dries, the sock won’t be as tightly stuffed, but you can untie and add more.  Even if you don’t, the cat will continue to enjoy.  I’ve seen my cats happily napping on nearly flat catnip socks in the dead of winter when the catnip has lost its first pungency.

Side note: Catnip is a plant in the mint family and is very easy to grow.  In most climates, the difficulty is keeping it from spreading.  Cut it frequently to keep it from going to seed.  Both the plant and your cats will appreciate this.  Catmint may be substituted or used to augment catnip, but it is less pungent.

On that cheerful note, I’m off to write.  I’m into the final section of Wolf’s Soul, and am pretty jazzed about how events are shaping up!

What You And I Want

March 27, 2019

This Will Make Sense

Monday I woke up with no idea what to wander on about for this week.  I did know what I wanted to be doing.  Last Friday I left Firekeeper and her associates in the middle of a very complicated situation.  As much as I wanted to keep writing into Friday evening, I’d wrenched my shoulder (either throwing atlatl darts or carrying buckets of water), and I had to get away from the keyboard.

So Monday (which is when I often draft the Wednesday Wanderings) came around, and I didn’t have any idea what to natter on about.  I really didn’t think you’d want to know that Jim and I drew plans for where to plant what in our garden, which is very complicated because this year we’re not only trying some new things, we’re rotating crops.

Or that I had a lot of fun coloring with special gel pencils a picture that had been printed on black paper.

Or that my RPG went well this past week, despite the fact that my players seem to be rolling a record number of fumbles.  (Jim is in the lead.  He’s being a very good sport about this.)

And I didn’t really want to spend a lot of energy trying to justify why these things should interest you, just because they really interest me.

Then it occurred to me that what most of you and I have in common is my writing, and that you’d probably like it if I didn’t put off getting back to that very complicated scene because I was trying to write a clever (or at least not hugely boring) essay.

So, I will leave you here and go and do what I want to do…  And I hope that it’s what you want me to do as well.

As always, I welcome suggestions as to topics for the Wednesday Wanderings.  Please feel free to make a suggestion in the Comments wherever you’re reading this or, if you’re shy, you can e-mail me at jane2@janelindskold.com.

Now, off to continue dealing with complications and consequences!  Woo-hoo!

Here Be (Another) Dragon

March 13, 2019

Lurking On My Floor

I found another dragon.  This one is on the same floor tile as the one featured back in August.

(Wondering why I started drawing on my floor? Here you are…)

Last week was intensely stressful, so I didn’t get nearly as much writing done as I would have liked.  Even a story I thought I knew where it was going refused to take shape beyond the first few pages   This means that, rather than taking the weekend “off,” which I do so I can recharge my creative juices, I spent much of the weekend puzzling and puzzling.

By Sunday afternoon, the writing front, at least, was looking better.  (So was the plumbing.  And maybe the bit with the screwed up prescription.)  I haven’t finished writing the piece, so I can’t say for sure.  To celebrate the joys of the amorphous becoming solid, I sat down on the floor and traced out the dragon pictured above.

He’s a bit more fierce than I thought he would be, but I Iike how different he turned out from the sibling with whom he shares not only a tile, but even some of the same grooves.

Now…  Off to see if the  story will be as cooperative!

Shadow Dragon

The Pleasure of Process

October 3, 2018

Go For It!

This past weekend, I finished my first kumihimo beaded bracelet and started a new one.

You can see the finished bracelet in the picture above.  What you can’t see is how close that bracelet came to never existing.  When I wrote about beading last week, that beaded piece was about three inches long (the finished coil is seven inches) and I knew it had flaws.  By the time I was done, there were a few more errors.  And the bracelet was too long because an unclear element in the instructions led me to use too many beads.  I have fairly small wrists, so after I attached the findings (fasteners), the bracelet slide right over my hand.

So I thought “Why not just cut it up, salvage the parts, and start over?  You’ve learned a lot about doing kumihimo from this.  Now you can make one that’s the right length has fewer errors.”

And another part of me said, “This is the first time you’ve done one of these.  It’s not as if you plan to sell it or enter it in a competition.  No one but you is probably ever going to notice the errors.  As for the length, you can work with that.  Get rid of the findings that came with the kit, and see if you have any smaller ones.”

That’s what I did.  One advantage of having done beading for so many years is I have an extensive kit of findings.  I also know what options are available.  The faster I eventually used was a magnetic clasp scavenged from a different bracelet that I’d meant to repair for years.  That bracelet was a little snug (which is why it had broken), so I put a new set of findings on it.

Tah-dah!  Now, not only do I have my very first kumihimo project to wear and enjoy – flaws and all – I finally fixed the other bracelet.

While I was sorting  through my kit, I found myself thinking about how easy it is when focusing on what you hope to achieve to forget the pleasure of the process.  Another project I’m involved with right now is a brand new SF/F magazine called DreamForge.  Will it be a success?  I certainly hope so.  I certainly believe it should be.  However, whatever the future brings, nothing will ever take away the pleasure that Scot and Jane Noel, me, art director Mike Zingarelli, and a few others have had in the process.

Please take a moment to look at DreamForge’s first Table of Contents.  When Scot writes about each of the pieces he selected, you can hear how thrilled he is.

My Jim makes arrowheads.  (Yep.  That’s one of his in the picture.)  His favorite material is obsidian, which is fragile, fussy, and often has hidden flaws.  But even when an arrowhead doesn’t come out just as he wanted, he keeps making new ones, not because he’s trying for perfection, but because he enjoys the process.

When following my friend Tori Hansen on Twitter, I learned about something called “Inktober,” which is basically a hashtag that encourages artists to draw one picture a day.  I’ve very much enjoyed looking at various people’s offerings.  To me, the focus of Inktober is on process, not perfection.  Draw a picture.  Post it.  Leave it.  Go do another.  This is the opposite – at least to me – of events like NaNoWriMo, which focus so hard on the end goal (write 50,000 words in a month) that the pleasure of the process is lost.  Writing becomes a race, not an art, not a craft.

My writing this last week went out of control.  I wrote over twice my self-assigned length.  Immersed in the process, I had a wonderful time.  Will I write that much again this week?  Probably not, but I’m starting this week with a strong reminder to myself that even with the writing that is my job, I can take pleasure in the process.

Oh…  The new bracelet I’m working on?  It’s an experiment in which I’m deliberately using slightly off-sized beads in different shades of blue in attempt to get both visual and tactile texture.  So far, so good, and if it doesn’t work out, so what?  I will have enjoyed giving it a try.

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.

Very Much a Fox

February 7, 2018

“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”  This saying is credited to Archiliochus, a Greek who was born sometime around 714 B.C.  The one “big thing” a hedgehog knows is, of course, how to roll into a ball, prickly side out, and thereby keep itself from getting eaten.  This is certainly a very big thing indeed.

Wild Horse!

I, however, am definitely a fox.  That’s why today’s WW is illustrated with a photo of one of my recent craft projects – one that, superficially, has nothing to do with my life as a writer.

Not all writers are foxes.  Some are very happy being hedgehogs.   Particular themes or settings or character types call to them, begging to be re-examined.

I remember one novelist I first encountered through her fictional re-telling of a certain fairy tale.  I was devoted to this book.  Later, she got a lot of buzz for a new novel.  As I read it, I came up short.  The setting was different.  So were the characters.  But it was that same fairy tale all over again.  When, later still, I was given a copy of her then newest novel.  I discovered that, for all the change in setting and time period, for all ostensible difference in plot, it was the same fairy tale all over again.  I found myself wondering what called to her so strongly about that particular story.

As a reader – especially in my younger years – I often became attached to one particular novel or series by a particular author.  When I was very young, I wouldn’t even try something else by that writer.  A good example of this is Kipling.  I first became aware of him through the Mowgli stories.  When I later learned these were part of the larger tapestry of the “Jungle Books,” I read those tales with suspicion.  They couldn’t possibly be as good as Mowgli.  I didn’t read Kim, a novel I now love dearly, for years and years because of some vestigial loyalty to my first love.

I think the tendency to choose one thing over all others comes out of our society’s constant desire to rank and rate things.  I’ve been part of heated discussions where I’ve been asked to defend my preference for Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan stories rather than his John Carter of Mars.   It’s as if a reader’s preferences are a sort of psychology test.  These days, this is constantly reinforced by seller sites that tell you, “If you liked THIS, then you’ll like THAT.”

I’m a dark chocolate person, a coffee drinker, a reader of SF/F.  Does this mean I never eat milk chocolate, drink tea, read biographies?  Hardly!

Happily, I got over a desire to make an author be one thing and one thing only.  It happened gradually, helped by the fact that I often read according to recommendations given by friends, rather than author name.  Nonetheless, I remember a seminal moment.  I was in the library, looking for something that I hadn’t read by Patricia McKillip.  I’d “met” her work through the Riddlemaster of Hed and its sequels.  I’d gone on to enjoy her standalone fantasy novels.  But when I pulled a McKillip novel called Fool’s Run off the shelf and I saw it was SF, I started to put it back.  McKillip and SF?  Then I thought.  But it’s McKillip.  And I read it, and it is now among my favorite of her works.

I think readers are often shaped to view who and what a writer is by the first piece we read by that writer.  For example, the first book I read by Maggie Stiefvater was The Scorpio Races.  I followed this with her different but similar “Raven Cycle.”  When I realized that her new novel, All the Crooked Saints, was going off in a completely different direction, I hesitated.  Then I gave it a try.  It turned out to be worth the read.

But for all that I had tunnel vision as a young reader, as a writer, I’ve never wanted to write the same thing or even the same way.  Indeed, a desire to write different ways, about different sorts of people, using different styles, was one of the bonds between me and the late Roger Zelazny.  In an essay about the impact of the works of Henry Kuttner on him as a boy, Roger said: “Even then, I wanted to write, and I decided that it would be something of a virtue to possess that sort of versatility.”

Here, Roger was talking about style, but the same applied to his content.  He wrote far future SF, near future SF, high Fantasy, swashbuckling sword and sorcery, stories that could make you weep, stories that could make you laugh aloud.  Definitely a fox.

And thank goodness that fox never got shut in a box.  Late in life, Roger wrote a novel called A Night in the Lonesome October.  If he’d been restricted to Amber or to the short stories that garnered him most of his awards, we would have missed a novel that every year – over twenty years after his death – I still get notes from people who need to tell me that that it’s October and they’re reading it again.

Making a fox be a hedgehog only makes for a very bad hedgehog.

And I am definitely a fox.  I write fantasy about wolves but I write other things, too.  Even far future SF.  Even questing Fantasy.  Even contemporary tales of gods among us.  And sometimes I stop and paint myself a horse, then adorn it with shining gemstones.

Inspiration and Calendars

January 3, 2018

On New Year’s Day, I ritually opened my two wall calendars for 2018.  The one that’s going in the kitchen where I’ll see it every day and where it will serve as command central for Jim and my life over the next year is the annual Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo Fantasy calendar.

This Year’s Selection

I chose this one for several reasons.  One is that Julie Bell is the cover artist for the Firekeeper novels, and much of this year is going to be centered around the Firekeeper Saga.  As many of you already know, I’m in the process of writing Wolf’s Search, the seventh Firekeeper novel.  I’m also preparing the first six novels for an updated e-book release.

Julie Bell very kindly offered me a deal that will enable me to use her artwork for both the e-books and for Wolf’s Search, so having her art where I can see it every day will remind me that unexpected good things can happen.

I’ve also had a liking for Boris Vallejo’s art since those days of yore when a bonus for membership in the Science Fiction book club included bookplates featuring “Golden Wings,” his wonderful painting of a warrior woman riding a winged horse.  I’m certain that looking at his and Julie’s artwork daily will remind me of that younger, dreamier, more optimistic me.  I’m going to need that this year.

My office calendar is completely different.  It features brightly-colored mosaic cartoons, mostly of owls, although several other forest animals are included.  Some pages incorporate brief inspirational sayings like “It Takes Courage to Fly” or “Have Patience and the Storm Will Pass.”  Since in 2018 I’m definitely flying in different skies – starting with the self-publication of my novel Asphodel either in late January or early February – I’ll appreciate the reminders that I’m not the only person who needs encouragement.

After all, sayings like these wouldn’t end up printed on calendars if the need was unique, right?

A bonus to my office calendar is that the mosaic approach is something I want to try in several of my own art/craft projects, so seeing these images every day will remind me of something I’m looking forward to pursuing further.

Last year’s experiment with using a bullet journal went very well, and I’ll be continuing using one this year.  One thing I learned is how important it is to date entries. I did some of this last year, but I’ll be doing even more in 2018.

For example, I was very down on myself for the lack of progress I was making in getting Asphodel out.  Then I went back to the page dedicated to that book in the journal and realized that at this time last year I hadn’t even finished my revisions, nor had I begun the final proofing, which included several months reading the manuscript aloud to a group of friends.  Suddenly, rather than feeling as if I’d been slacking, I realized how much I had achieved in a relatively short span of time.

When you work for yourself, it’s really easy to lose perspective.

Now it’s time for me to go write fiction…  Catch you later!

Have Yourselves a Merry…

December 20, 2017

Right now I have a bunch of projects going.  If you’re a regular reader of these Wanderings, you can skip the next three paragraphs.

Wolf Cookie In Its Native Habitat

The most time-sensitive project is finishing off production for my novel, Asphodel, which I’m hoping to release in January.  I chose to self-publish Asphodel because it’s a bit odd and finding the right publisher might have taken years.  Sooner rather than later or maybe never seemed the right way to go.

I’m also working on putting together new e-books for “The Firekeeper Saga.”  Last April, Tor Books courteously reverted to me the rights to most of my works with them.  Since readers had complained that the Tor-produced e-books suffered from a lack of proofing, I’m putting out new editions.  The cover art will still be by Julie Bell, but with different design elements.  As a bonus, each book will include an original afterward about some aspect of the series.

Side by side with the above, I’m also writing a new Firekeeper novel: Wolf’s Search.  I’ve been handwriting a bit every day.  Pretty soon I’ll have the first story arc done.  Then I’ll type that up, which will give me a chance to review, while meditating on details of the second part.

So how do I keep from crumpling up and becoming overwhelmed, especially now that I have holiday preparations taking over all my remaining available time?

What I’ve realized recently is that I need to remember the fun part.  I really love writing.  Not just “having written,” but seeing a story evolve, getting surprised by a twist in the plot.  When I started doing self-publishing, I’ll admit, I wasn’t crazy about it.  Now I’m growing to enjoy having some influence on both internal and cover design.  I’m very excited by Asphodel and can’t wait to share it with you all.

As for the holidays…  I really like the frills and flourishes of this time of year.  Jim and I don’t have any kids.  This year we won’t have any holiday visitors.  But nonetheless we’ve been decorating.  We’ve even added a couple of new wreaths, one of which hangs on my office door where I can see it as I work, the other of which is on our bedroom door.

Although it’s a lot of extra work, I honestly enjoy sending out Christmas cards.  It’s a way of touching base with people I care about, as well as reminding myself how lucky I am to have so many interesting people in my life – some of whom have remained part of it for decades.

I really enjoy baking holiday cookies.  This year I’ve had to trim back on the more time-consuming cookies, but I’m going to do those as New Year’s cookies.  Meantime, last Sunday, Jim and I settled in and did the most complicated cookies of the lot: the frosted sugar cookies.  Ours never quite look like the usual…  I’m contemplating doing more sometime in the new year because I didn’t make nearly enough cats.  Or guinea pigs.  Or the fox…

As I’ve mused over this, I’ve realized that there’s an aspect of American culture that validates complaining.  A person who is happy is somehow lesser.  To get respect, you need to complain about how overworked you are, how tense, miserable, underappreciated, and all the rest.

Sure, not everything went as I might have hoped this past year, but disappointments aren’t what define me unless I choose to let them do so.  Meantime, I have wolves roaming in Christmas cookies forest!

Merry, merry, merry to you all!