Archive for the ‘My Stories’ Category

Once Again, I Was Reminded

June 24, 2020

Supported By Portulaca

Once again, this past week, I was reminded that the best way for me to write is to set the bar very low and see what happens.   On Friday, smoke from fires in Arizona were making me very headachy.  That, combined with having to make numerous phone calls and other distractions, meant that by the time I was able to settle into writing, I thought I was too tired to get anything done.

Nonetheless, I kept a promise made to myself  long ago to try to write at least twelve sentences every work day.  Within an hour and a half, I had written an astonishing ten pages on SK4.

How I came up with twelve sentences as my personal “low bar,” was something I evolved back when I had had a fulltime job as a college English professor.  Something  Roger Zelazny said about his own work habits got me thinking and…   Well, I’ve wandered on about this before, so rather than repeating myself, I’ll just suggest you look here.

I don’t typically write ten pages a day, so I was completely astonished.  I was also reminded that being upset with myself because I don’t think I can make a “good day’s work” is the best way to keep myself from getting anything done at all.

On that note, after a public service announcement, I’ll be off to write some more.

It’s been a while since I reminded you and, knowing that many people don’t read these posts every week, I’d like to note that Wolf’s Soul, the eighth book in the Firekeeper Saga, is now available.  Wolf’s Soul winds up the story begun in last July’s Wolf Search.  I’ve been getting e-mails and messages from readers, as they finish reading the book.  I appreciate the overwhelming enthusiasm readers are showing for the direction in which Firekeeper and Blind Seer (with me as scribe) took their story.

If you are so inclined, we’d all appreciate spoiler-free reader reviews on the bookseller’s website of your choice.  Word of mouth is the best publicity a book can ask for.  In these days of isolation, word-of-electron is even more important.

Now…  Off to write!

Romping and Roaring

May 20, 2020

Roary 3

As those of you who have read the Acknowledgements to my new release, Wolf’s Soul (Firekeeper Saga 8, for more details go here), you know that a few months ago, my much, much beloved cat Keladry died without warning, probably from a stroke or aneurysm.

Kel had self-appointed herself my assistant, so her loss left a particularly big hole.  I still expect her to come running when she hears my computer go on or to be able to reach over and pat her when I pause to consider what next.

But, if there’s anything I’ve learned from the losses in my life, it’s that choosing not to love as a protection against the pain of loss is a soul-destructive course of action.

And so, meet Roary.

After we lost Kel at the end of February, we wanted to get a new feline as soon as possible. Kwahe’e (who is now over eighteen and increasingly fragile) has always liked newcomers, but we weren’t sure how either Persephone or Mei-Ling would react.   Persephone is sweet but can be aggressive, while Mei-Ling is very shy.  Right now, Kwahe’e provides the balance between them.

Kwahe’e: Roary’s Calming Influence

However, there simply weren’t kittens available at the shelter until recently.  At the end of April, the shelter started posting kittens to the website (the site provides individual listings for adoptable animals).  However, with the Covid-19 shutdown, the shelter is closed except by appointment.  Therefore, once the site started showing more than an occasional kitten, I made us an appointment.  The closest date I could get was a week out and…

Yep, you got it, by that date (which was a week ago) there were no kittens listed at the shelter.

That Wednesday morning, I had a phone call checking if we were still coming in.  I explained that we were specifically looking for a kitten, and asked if they had any who weren’t listed on the site.  The lady (Cassie) said, no, the only available kitten was at the other shelter and appointments couldn’t be switched.

Very reasonably, Cassie tried to interest me in several young adults. I explained why we needed a kitten, explaining that we’d adopted Mei-Ling from the shelter last August as an excruciatingly shy kitten and, although we’d done a lot to help her be brave, we felt she’d be intimidated by someone bigger than her.

Roary and Mei-Ling

I asked, “Do you have any kittens who aren’t ready for adoption, but who we could reserve?”  Cassie replied, “We’re not doing reservations, but I could talk to our foster-care coordinator and explain your need.”  About twenty minutes later, I heard from a very enthusiastic lady named Carolyn.

Apparently, a kitten who had been brought into the shelter as an injured stray–something had attacked him and sliced through the leg muscles on his left leg so that they literally peeled off the bone (this is called “gloving”)–was now recovered from surgery.  He was doing well, but needed to go to a foster home while he finished healing.  The city shelter has a “foster-to-adopt” program, as long as the household does not exceed the limit for number of cats.  We don’t.

I gave Carolyn my references, including our vet clinic, who we’ve been using for over twenty years, through some remarkable pet adventures.  Then I got off the phone and bounced off the walls in excitement until Jim got home from running errands.

I valiantly withheld my news until Jim had a chance to wash his hands and mask, although I’ll admit, this was a struggle.  As I expected, Jim was as thrilled as I was, so I phoned Carolyn back asked when we could come get our new foster.  She said, “Come any time,” and we were out the door with Jim’s mask still slightly damp.

Our new foster was seven weeks old, white with random black spots.  The shelter had called him “ItsyBitsy,” but we’re going to call him Rorschach, Rory (or as Jim wants to spell it “Roary” because he can be very loud) since his blots form different pictures when he moves or bends.

Roary spends his unsupervised time in our spare guinea pig hutch to keep him from climbing and jumping, but he’s very playful and active.  He still has a little trouble with the left leg, but he’s certainly doing his P.T. to rebuild the damaged connections. If you look at the first photo, you can see the healing incision.  It’s pretty impressive.

Roary and Persephone

Best of all, unlike when we brought Mei-Ling home and Persephone completely panicked, our excitable girl seems to really like her new “little brother.”  We guess that this is because kittens are no longer a new concept.  She hisses at him a little, but isn’t terrified or hostile—more like “Keep your distance, squirt.”

 Mei-Ling is also interested in Roary.  Rather than going to hide, she loves to watch him and even lets him play within a few inches of her, as long as she doesn’t get pounced.  Apparently, her great fear is unfamiliar humans, which makes me think she must have had some bad experiences before she ended up in the shelter.

So, we’re optimistic.

Look forward to more pictures of Roary.  My guess is that he’s going to be a really big cat, because in just a week he’s visibly grown.

No matter how big he gets, Roary will never fill the hole that Kel left, but that’s not how love works.  You never stop loving those you’ve lost.  You don’t try to replace them.  You just open up to new love, new experiences, new challenges.

An Open Letter to My Gamers

May 13, 2020

My Current Game Noteboook and the Proof

Months and months ago, when I wrote the Acknowledgements to Wolf’s Soul, the sequel to last July’s Wolf’s Search, which finally went live last week—you can read more about it here—I knew exactly what I was going to do when I got the first proof copy.

I was going to hand it to one of my current gaming group (maybe we’d roll dice to see who) and ask that person to read the first several paragraphs of the Acknowledgments aloud.

But, by the time the proof came out, the Covid-19 shutdown had begun and we were no longer meeting.  I hoped that by the time the book was available for purchase, we’d be meeting in person again, but that hasn’t happened.

So, I’m going to share this will them and with all of you.  Ready?

First of all, there’s a very special group I want to thank. Without them, Wolf’s Soul would have taken a lot longer to be finished.  These are the members of my current gaming group: Rowan Derrick, Melissa Jackson, Cale Mims, Dominique Price, and my husband, Jim Moore.

There was a point when, overwhelmed by too many projects unexpectedly coming to a head at one time, I realized I was burning out.  Something had to go. Reluctantly, I realized that I was going to need to give up running our weekly game.  I was crushed, because gaming may be the single activity that helps me recharge my creativity.

What can I say?  I’m a storyteller.  Gaming reminds me that stories are fun, not just my job.

My gamers are all seriously busy people, with high-end, stressful jobs.  I figured they’d be glad for an excuse to reclaim their Sunday evenings.  Instead, they insisted we keep meeting.  Rowan, despite having just started a new job, took over as gamemaster.  I stepped to the sidelines as one of the players.  As I started working through the backlog that was weighing me down, burnout ebbed and writing Wolf’s Soul became fun again, rather than a chore.

There’s a sequel to this…

As I said, when the Covid-19 shutdown hit, we all agreed to minimize vectors and stop meeting in person.  Jim and I knew that while, for us, the shutdown meant becoming more or less hermits, our gamers were going to all be working from home and/or the office, so their stress level and exhaustion levels would not be at all reduced.  In fact, we were resigned to the fact that, after many years, this might be the end of this particular group…  Life does that sort of thing.

Then, one day, Dominique e-mailed: “Okay! We miss you guys! Do you want to try roleplaying over Zoom?”

And so we started up over Zoom.  As the week before our first Zoom game, I kept finding myself thinking “We’re gaming this weekend.  I wonder what I should bake?” only to come up short and realize that, while we might be gaming, we wouldn’t be having our usual snack potluck.  I still feel funny when the coffee finishes brewing and I can’t share or put on water for tea for the non-coffee drinkers.

But gaming again has been fun.

It’s probably a coincidence but, soon after we started gaming again, my imagination relaxed and my writing on my current project, the first of the new Star Kingdom novels I’m collaborating on with David Weber, really picked up.

So, thank you, Cale, Dominique, Melissa, and Rowan—and, of course, Jim.

Wherever the future takes us, I’ll remember our games with special fondness forever more!

Wolf’s Soul Live On All Sites!!

May 9, 2020

Wolf’s Soul Runs Through the Amazon!

Wolf’s Soul, the eighth book in the Firekeeper Saga, is finally live on Amazon.  The pages for the two versions may not yet been merged on all sites, here are links to the Kindle (mobi) e-book and the trade paperback.

Wolf’s Soul is also available as an e-book from Barnes and Noble, Google Play, i-Tunes, and Kobo.

The cover art is based on Julie Bell’s wonderful piece, “Three Hungry Wolves,” which you can acquire as a print from her website.

Wolf’s Soul  is a close-upon-the-heels sequel to last July’s Wolf’s Search and, as such, requires familiarity with the events in Wolf’s Search to be best enjoyed.

That said, Wolf’s Search can be delved into without a review of—or even great familiarity with—the previous six books in the Firekeeper Saga.  If you haven’t yet read Wolf’s Search, you can learn a little about it here.

If you’d like more information about Wolf’s Soul, here’s a link to this week’s WW where I provided a few more details.

Wolf’s Soul Lives!

May 6, 2020

Wolf’s Soul!

Wolf’s Soul, the eighth book in the Firekeeper Saga, is now available from the following on-line booksellers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, i-Tunes, and Kobo.  For those of you who prefer physical books, Wolf’s Soul is available as a trade paperback from Amazon.  The cover art is based on Julie Bell’s wonderful piece, “Three Hungry Wolves,” which you can acquire as a print from her website.

Wolf’s Soul  is a close-upon-the-heels sequel to last July’s Wolf’s Search and, as such, requires familiarity with the events in Wolf’s Search to be best enjoyed.

That said, Wolf’s Search can be delved into without a review of—or even great familiarity with—the previous six books in the Firekeeper Saga.  If you haven’t yet read Wolf’s Search, you can learn a little about it here.

If you don’t want spoilers for Wolf’s Search, skip the italicized portion.   Otherwise, read on for the cover blurb to Wolf’s Soul:

Firekeeper has always believed that her heart is a wolf’s heart.

Now the time has come for her to prove it.

Blind Seer’s search for a teacher of the magical arts brought him and Firekeeper to Rhinadei, a land rich in magical lore, but intolerant of those who would rebel against its core precepts.  Now, eager to aid Wythcombe, his new teacher, Blind Seer agrees to lend his keen senses to the hunt for Kabot—Wythcombe’s childhood rival and leader of a band of fanatical blood mages.

In this hunt, Firekeeper runs as ever at Blind Seer’s side.  Rounding out their pack are Laria and Ranz, two young humans with potent magical gifts of their own; Farborn, a yarimaimalom falcon; Wythcombe himself, and the ever enigmatic Meddler.

Yet, despite the versatility of this pack, Kabot’s blood mages miraculously elude them, leaving behind the tantalizing scent of more power than they should possess.  Suspicion builds that Kabot has acquired a new ally: an ally who may be one of their own pack turned traitor.

To anticipate a frequently asked question: Yes.  I will eventually be selling copies (signed and personalized, if you wish) of the physical book  through my website bookshop.  As soon as I have my copies and have set up the order form, I’ll let you know.   In the meantime, you can check my bookshop for copies of other of my works, many of which are available as first edition hard covers.

Wolf’s Search and Wolf’s Soul will be the final Firekeeper Saga books for some time to come, so there’s no reason to wait.  Join Firekeeper and Blind Seer, as they encounter lands familiar and unfamiliar, hot on the trail of that which may make their oldest dream come true.

FF: Peeking Out

April 24, 2020

Mei-Ling Peeks

This week I’ve been writing more, reading less, but I’m still immersed in story, from which vantage I peek out at the 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.

Recently Completed:

Tied Up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Once again Alleyne’s name is pronounced “Al-ay-n”) throughout.  It’s pronounced “Allen.”   Oddly enough, Marsh doesn’t mentions how his name is pronounced in some books, but in some she does.   If I was wearing my English prof hat, I’d be tempted to read the series in order and see if there is a pattern.

But I think I’ll write about the denizens of the planet Sphinx instead.

DreamForge, Issue Five.  Coincidentally, many of the stories deal with parallel worlds, but it works.

In Progress:

Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Largely from the POV of Alleyne’s now-grown son.

David Bowie: The Oral History compiled by Dylan Jones.  The big question of whether Let’s Dance was selling out or not.  Sometimes Bowie is taken way to seriously.  This is the man whose first major single was “The Laughing Gnome.”

Also:

Archeology magazine.

Thyme For Irony

April 22, 2020

Pink Chintz Thyme

I’ve had a twist in my stay-at-home, work-from-home, whatever you want to call it, lifestyle.  Before I tell you about that, an update.

The cover for Wolf’s Soul,  the sequel to Wolf’s Search, is still not right, so I’ve ordered Proof Three.  So I don’t bore the folks who tuned in last week, here’s a link to a mysterious masked writer and a copy of Proof One.

I’m thinking about using the proofs as one-of-a-kind giveaways.  Does that sound interesting?

(If you’re really eager, sign up for my mailing list, because at least one giveaway is going to be exclusively offered there.  There’s a link on my website.)

So, now for the twist….

I’ve been very careful about self-isolation because I have allergy-related asthma.  For five days of the week, not much changed.  My office is in my home.  I work for myself.  Jim is retired and took over most of the errands about a year ago.

Weekends changed, absolutely.  That’s when Jim and I would go out, see friends, host our gaming group.  Going anywhere or having guests ended for me over a month ago.

This year, maybe because of our wet (for us) winter, allergens are at a high level.  So despite my being careful, my asthma ramped up.  About two weeks ago, I had to add a medication that has taken about half my voice.  The half that remains sounds as if I’ve swallowed a rusty scrubbing pad.

Okay.  Maybe not that bad.  Well, not all the time.  However, if I talk for more than a few sentences, my throat gets tight.  So here I am, now properly self-isolated because I can’t even take a phone call without scaring the person on the other end.

But I’ll manage.

Two more weeks to go on the meds (which are helping a lot) and I should be back to what passes for normal.  Meantime, our gaming group is now experimenting with meeting on-line via Zoom.  When we did, I kept the hot drinks on tap and managed all right but, later, my throat called me a few choice names.

So there you have it.

Oh, the picture?  That’s pink chintz creeping thyme.  To me creeping thyme is a great plant to illustrate irony because—ironically—it doesn’t much mind being stepped on.

Or maybe I should think of it as a thyme of fortitude.  Yeah, I like that!

Okay, I’m off to romp with the treecats.  The yet untitled Star Kingdom novel 4 (in collaboration with David Weber) is taking shape and I want to see what happens next.  Later!

Proof of Wolf’s Soul

April 15, 2020

Who Is That Masked Writer?

I’ve discovered a great additional advantage to masks…  Read on to find out what.

But first, the first proof copy of Wolf’s Soul arrived last week.  This is the immediate sequel to last July’s Wolf’s Search.  The cover art is adapted from “Three Hungry Wolves” by Julie Bell.  You can read the cover blurb here.

Mostly, I was happy with how the book came out.  However, because of issues with how the cover was aligned, we’re taking it back to press.  Therefore, it will be a few more weeks before the novel is ready for official release.  Then you’ll be able to get it as an e-book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Kobo, i-tunes, and GooglePlay.  The trade paperback will be available from Amazon.

Stay tuned for further updates.  If you don’t want to risk missing any, you can sign up for my mailing list at my website: www.janelindskold.com.

As to masks…  As many of you know, I’m rather camera shy.  Featured in the picture is my new mask, made by the talented Samantha Thompson.  It’s one of those that have an interior pocket into which an additional filter can be inserted.

I happened to be trying mine out when Jim asked me if I was ready to take the picture of the proof.  I decided to show off my new mask at the same time and discovered the bonus: I was no longer worried about the camera!

Funny…

Anyhow, I hope this finds all of you well, staying safe, protecting your packs.

Veering Off Target

March 25, 2020

Aftermath

Saturday afternoon Jim and I were out in the yard throwing atlatl darts, as one does on a lovely spring afternoon.  One of my shots hit the edge of the stacked hay bales we use as targets, veered right, went through a cedar tree and then through both sides of a five-gallon bucket we had set to catch rainwater under a gutter.

The bucket slowed the dart—yep, despite the darn things being taller than I am, the proper term for them is “dart”—thus preserving the thirty-two gallon trash can filled with water that was there.

So, good luck?  Bad luck? Raw chance?

How you choose to see it is up to you.  Or who you are, I suppose.  The bucket would say “bad luck.”  The trash can “good luck.”  The dart “raw chance.”

All I know is that I need to get another bucket…

Dealing with what I can is how I tend to function.  On that note, I’ve had a lot of queries as to how Jim and I are doing in these days of social isolation and such.

I’m happy to report that very little has changed.  I already work from home.  Jim is now retired, so not only doesn’t he need to go into work, he’s available to run what limited errands we need run.  This keeps asthmatic me one step away from random infection.

Certain things are slowing down.  Wolf’s Soul is to the stage where I need to review a print proof.  Since I use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, needless to say, there’s a slowdown.  I’ll get the proof when I get it.  The e-book is pretty much completed, but I’m holding it so I can release both books at the same time.  This also enables me to make sure any errors I catch in the print version can be fixed, if necessary, in the e-book as well.

With the new e-book versions of the three “Breaking the Wall” novels out, and Wolf’s Soul as far along as I can take it for now, I’m moving my creative energies over to working on the yet untitled fourth novel in the “Star Kingdom” series I’ve been doing with David Weber.  I’ve been working on SK4 through all the rest, but much of that work has been in the form of research rather than actual prose.  My hope is to get prose written this week.

I may be writing longhand for a bit, because that’s often a good way to convince my brain to go sideways into a new universe and set of characters.  We’ll see.

I wish for you what I wish for myself: May you turn bad luck into good luck, and embrace what chance hands you.

Dynamic Dreaming

February 26, 2020

Four Issues Holding a Wide Variety of Hopes and Dreams

Like Gaheris Morris in my “Breaking the Wall” books, I have a secret life.  I’m not a member of a secret occult cabal (or if I am, I’m not quite ready to admit it), but I am part of something nearly as incredible: I’m the official Senior Advisor and Creative Consultant for DreamForge, a full-color, fully-illustrated magazine dedicated to just about every sort of SF/F fiction there is with one exception: No Unredeemable Dystopia.

How I came to my secret identity is a complicated story.  The short version is that when friends decide they’re going to do something impossible, incredible, and insane—but really, really cool—I think you have two choices.  You can stand aside and later regret not helping out.  Or you can leap up on that runaway stagecoach and do everything in your power to help keep it on the road.

I’m not rich enough to fully fund the magazine, so I did the next best thing.  I offered to do what I could to help out.  Part of that was helping them find quality writers and artists.  Part was contributing stories.  Part was offering a Kickstarter incentive. Part was simply giving Scot and Jane Noel, the creative team behind DreamForge, someone to run ideas by.

Working with DreamForge has been terrific and uplifting.  Now DreamForge is moving into its second year.  Once again, we’re doing a Kickstarter.  My incentive went before I could even mention it on a WW, as did that of Hugo Award-winning artist Elizabeth Leggett, but there are some very cool ones left.  DreamForge’s Kickstarter ends on March 7, and I want to encourage you to go take a look.

Now…  Here’s something for those of you who didn’t run away at the sniff of a Kickstarter…

If you wanted to read my Firekeeper short story, “A Question of Truth,” which appeared in DreamForge Issue Three, here’s a link.  If you like it, why not wander over to the Kickstarter and join into supporting the magazine?  Some of the incentives are embarrassingly reasonable.

Will you find any Jane Lindskold stories in the forthcoming issues of DreamForge?  In fact, you will.  My story “The Problem With Magic Rings” is scheduled for Issue 6.  It’s a sword and sorcery romp featuring the same unlikely band of heroes as in my short story, “A Familiar’s Predicament,” which appeared in Sword and Sorceress 33.

I’m going to stop here and hope you’ll at least go take a look at the Kickstarter for DreamForge year two.  The magazine is lovely, full-color, gorgeous, and, best of all, full of stories that fight against the darkness.