Archive for the ‘My Stories’ Category

FF: Come By It Honestly

January 20, 2023
Persephone Dreams Hexapuma Dreams

This week I finished reading the mass market proofs of A New Clan (written by me in collaboration with David Weber). The mass market edition will be out in May, right alongside my solo Aurora Borealis Bridge, also in mass market.

My reward for a job well done?  I’ve pulled in the manga of Saiyuki Reload, the Burial Arc from out outdoor library, because I want to compare and contrast who the story was handled in the print (manga) form, in comparison to the anime, which I just watched.  Apparently, I come by my English Professor tendencies naturally, since I’m doing this for fun.

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 New Clan by Jane Lindskold and David Weber.  Page proofs for mass market edition. This book was released in June 2022, and is currently available in hard cover, e-book, and audiobook formats

In Progress:

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss.  Audiobook.  A book oddly lacking in suspense because the characters keep breaking the fourth wall, so weak on plot, but strong on characterization. 

From Sawdust to Stardust: the Biography of DeForest Kelly, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux.  I’ve hit the post-Star Trek years.  Interesting.

Also:

Reading the latest Smithsonian.  Almost done.  Some excellent, well-balanced articles in this one.

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Triskadekaphobic Beware

January 18, 2023
Coco Contemplates

Why?  This week marks the thirteenth anniversary of these Wednesday Wanderings.

Once again, despite deadlines, deaths, doom, and destruction, I haven’t missed a week.

This year, I’ve been happy to announce the release of three new books: Library of the Sapphire Wind, Aurora Borealis Bridge, and A New Clan (with David Weber).  I’ve also let you know as my backlist releases expanded, most recently with cult favorite, Child of a Rainless Year.  I’ve alerted you to on-line interviews, and where I’ll be showing up in person.

You’ve been among the first to know about upcoming releases, such as the third “Over Where” novel, House of Rough Diamonds, which is scheduled for October of 2023.

And you get to hear about what I’m working on as well.  This week, I’m still immersed in the page proofs for the mass market edition of A New Clan, as well as writing on SK5.

But I’ve also shared my garden with you, including experiments with growing tomatoes in increasingly hot summers.  And my various craft projects.  And sometimes just plain odd things (like the word “triskadekaphobia”).

My non-human co-residents, both ostensibly domesticated (cats, guinea pigs, fish) and ostensibly wild (lots of birds, the occasional rabbit, lots of lizards) have made repeated appearances.  If you want a weekly hit of animal cuteness along with an update about whatever I’ve reading, check out the Friday Fragments.

Oh, and I do talk about writing, especially when some new element occurs to me or someone presents me with a really neat question.  Some past bits on writing are included in my book Wanderings on Writing, which is definitely not a “how to” book, but more in the way of a bunch of short essays talking about various aspects of writing as an art, a craft, and a lifestyle.

This year, I hope to continue along that course… I welcome questions, either on individual posts or about topics you might enjoy hearing me wander on about.  I can’t promise I’ll be able to answer all of them, but I can promise to try.

Now, a little about how Stephanie and Karl made it back to Sphinx, then off to work on those proofs!

Proofs Not Pudding

January 13, 2023
Mei-Ling and Friends

This week part of my reading time has gone into reading the mass market proofs of A New Clan (written by me in collaboration with David Weber). This book was released in June 2022, and is currently available in hard cover, e-book, and audiobook formats. The mass market edition will be out in May, right alongside my solo Aurora Borealis Bridge.

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:

Scales of Justice by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  I think with this one I have exhausted our library’s collection of Ngaio Marsh as audiobook.

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Almost done.  Even better than I remembered it being.

Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher.  Re-read.  Still quite good.

In Progress:

A New Clan by Jane Lindskold and David Weber.  Page proofs for mass market edition

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss.  Audiobook.  I read this when it was first released and on the Nebula ballot.  When I learned there were now sequels, I didn’t remember this well enough to try them without a re-read.

From Sawdust to Stardust: the Biography of DeForest Kelly, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux.  I’m still in the early stages.  At least one chapter seems to be more about Carolyn Kelly (his wife) than DeForest, which is a bit odd.

Also:

Reading the latest Smithsonian

FF: Into a Story

January 6, 2023
Dandy Dreams

The other day, someone posted the question “What makes you feel better when you are in a bad mood?”  My answer came easily and immediately: I dive into a story.  Not necessarily the one I’m writing (although sometime that), but definitely a story.  Often, it’s a re-read, but it also can be a new book by an author who I trust.  And “story” definitely extends to visual media as well.

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:

Aurora Borealis Bridge by Jane Lindskold.  Mass market paperback proofs.  I gave this some of my usual “fun reading” time for a variety of reasons, including, honestly, that I’m enjoying it.

DreamForge Anvil, issue ten.  Perfect for before bed, since the stories, while often complex, are strongly character driven.

In Progress:

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Almost done.  Even better than I remembered it being.

Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher.  It was there when I needed a re-read.

From Sawdust to Stardust: the Biography of DeForest Kelly, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux.  Recommended by a reader on Charles De Lint’s blog.

Also:

I finished Archeology!  Now the next issue will probably arrive.  Just finished Bioscape, the short magazine from our BioPark (zoo, botanical gardens, and aquarium), and am reading AAA trying to convince me that I want to go on a cruise.

Finally, the Shire has been scourged and Frodo has set sail, and Return of the King completed.  I have some fairly serious thoughts about how what Jackson chose to leave out of his movies (which I did enjoy) completely change Tolkien’s underlying tale.  I could share them in a WW if anyone so desires.

Resolution?

January 4, 2023
Mei-Ling Resolves

Recently, I’ve been repeatedly asked what I’m working on, and if I have any resolutions for 2023…  Here’s something like an answer.

I’ve just finished reviewing the page proofs for the mass market paperback of Aurora Borealis Bridge, the sequel to Library of the Sapphire Wind.  Both will be out in this new format in the first half of 2023.  However, you don’t need to wait.  Copies of the original trade paperback are still available, as is the ebook.

With this job done, I’ll be returning to writing the yet-untitled (longtime readers of these Wanderings will recognize a trend) next book in the Star Kingdom series, SK5, which I’m writing with David Weber.  Our most recent release, A New Clan, came out in June of 2022.

If I have a New Year’s resolution (which I don’t), it’s to get SK5 rolling before the end of January.  That’s when my husband, Jim, is scheduled to have shoulder replacement surgery.  Based on our past experiences (he’s had both knees replaced; field archeology is not kind to the body), Jim will be an excellent patient, and will work hard on his PT, but while he’s doing that, a lot of the jobs he handles around here will fall to me.

I’ve learned that if I have a book up and moving, so that the characters are “talking” to me, I find it much easier to keep writing when there’s an interruption.  I’ve written a bit, but not enough to feel I have built up momentum to carry me though.

There will be other jobs clamoring for my attention, too.  There will be editor’s notes for House of Rough Diamonds, the sequel to Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge.   I’ll be talking more about this as we get closer to its October 2023 release.

Then there will be page proofs for when A New Clan goes into mass market.  (It is currently available as a hardcover, e-book, and audiobook.)

Y’know, the New Year is just a few days old, and I’m already behind! 

FF: Getting Back

December 30, 2022
Coco Is Shorter Than Even a Goblin

Jim and I went to Arizona for the Christmas weekend.  On the road, we listened to an audiobook of Return of the King, starting where we left off this summer, as the Riders were heading for Minas Tirith.  We’re nearly to the end, and the Shire is being scourged.   If we get a little more time on the road, we’ll finish it.

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:

When in Rome by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Over time, Ngaio Marsh gently expanded his protagonist’s beat from homicide to uncovering espionage (especially during stories set in WWII), and later to investigating the narcotic trade.

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher.   I needed both to laugh and to be absorbed in the plot.  T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) is one of the rare writers who can do both for me.

Nine Goblins by T. Kingfisher.  Novella.  My only “complaint” about this is that it could have been longer. 

In Progress:

Aurora Borealis Bridge by Jane Lindskold.  Mass market paperback proofs.  I’m giving this some of my usual “fun reading” time for a variety of reasons, including, honestly, that I’m enjoying it.

DreamForge Anvil, issue ten.  Perfect for before bed, since the stories, while often complex, are strongly character driven.

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  I read this one a long time ago, long enough that all I remember is enjoying.  Bujold is an excellent example of an SF writer who starts with an idea, and then examines the idea with an emphasis on its implications for three-dimensional characters.

Also:

The latest issue of Archeology, and assorted short articles.

FF: Hands-Free Reading

December 16, 2022
Mei-Ling Listens

My hands are very busy right now, so most of my absorbing of stories has been via audio.  Oh, and that reminds me!  A New Clan, the fourth Star Kingdom novel, in the series I’ve been writing with David Weber, is now available as an audiobook from Audible.

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:

Into the Vortex by Charles E. Gannon.  ARC.  Sequel to This Broken World.  Not a standalone, although the opening does provide reminders for those who have read the first book.  This book has more of an SF feel than did the previous installment. 

Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Set late in the series, with most of the book focusing on Rick Alleyne, son of Troy and Roderick, a would-be young writer.

In Progress:

Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Village mystery with an acknowledged nod to Agatha Christie.  Putting on a play as a fundraiser to buy a piano for a village community center becomes the setting for high drama and murder.

Also:

A variety of short fiction.

And the latest issue of Archeology.

Storytelling Tradition

November 23, 2022
Storytelling

“When you’re writing, do you ever feel that you’re participating in a long storytelling tradition?”

This very interesting question came last week from one of the frequent commenters on my WW.  My reaction was “Yes, and then again, No,” and so I decided to answer here.

So, here’s the “Yes.”  Yes, of course I do.  Remember, I have a PhD in English Literature (specializations in Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern).  I cannot be unaware of the massive numbers of works that have come before my own.

Even within my own chosen area (SF/F), I am aware of trends, tropes, and traditions.  Long before I started writing professionally, I read backwards to older works, as well as liberally sampling newer works.  Sometimes I’m startled to see a reviewer talking about a work being “fresh and new,” when I can place it squarely within an established tradition.  This doesn’t mean I lose respect for the author, but I usually lose some for the reviewer.

Here’s an example.  I really enjoyed T.J. Klune’s House in the Cerulean Sea, even though I could call just about every plot point in advance.  This didn’t matter, because the characters were lively, and I honestly cared about what happened to each and every one of them.  So, well-written, yes.  Fresh and new?  Not really.

“No” comes in when I actually start writing.  Then the dynamic is between me and my story.  I’ll admit—and accept that some of you will want to argue with me—that I’m rather disturbed by the number of new releases, many from quite well-established authors, that rely heavily upon a previous work, sometimes print, sometimes film.

To me that’s less inspiration than taking the easy route, especially when the new work is then marketed with a strong reference to the root work.  I’m much less likely to pick up the work if it’s presented that way.  And, yes, I feel that way about fairytale retellings, as well.  They need to bring something fresh to the original tale, not just change the time period or gender swap or some other gimmick.

So how do I balance the “yes” of my awareness of trends, tropes, and traditions, and my desire to tell a tale that’s all my own?

When I was writing the Firekeeper Saga (first book, Though Wolf’s Eyes), I was perfectly aware that I was a latecomer to the “feral child raised by wolves” tradition.  In fact, Kipling’s The Jungle Books have been favorites of mine since I was a child.  However, I felt I had my own tale to tell, chose plotlines that would not echo any of the Mowgli tales, and immersed myself in a world of my own creating.  Firekeeper is her own person, not a gender swapped Mowgli.

My most recently published novels, Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge, definitely are within the tradition of portal fantasy—the type of story where people from our world end up somewhere else, usually because their help is needed.  Moreover, my novels were written because of my frustration with the fact that in many of those works, the people going through the portal are quite young, often not even out of their tweens.  It has always seemed unfair to me that the fate of a culture, a kingdom, even an entire world rests on the narrow shoulders of a kid.

Yes.  There are portal fantasies (as well as a sub-section of time travel fiction) where the ones going through the portal are adults.  However, these are often a sub-set of military fiction, where the knowledge and skills of those stepping elsewhere will be used for war.  I wanted to do something different, more whimsical, but with lots of heart, but not sentimentality.

Once I started writing, I let my characters reference works of Fantasy and Science Fiction, but I made certain the world they were entering was not a copy of any previously written work or even of any culture on this Earth, past or present. 

So, back to the original question, and why I’d answer both yes and no.  Yes, I am very aware of my works being part of a tradition going all the way back to the days when storytellers told tales to eager listeners who knew story fed some mysterious part of themselves that they could hardly name.  But, no, I’m not going to ever be one of those authors who will take advantage of someone else’s work entering public domain to pounce on it, wrestle it into my vision, and ride it to my own benefit.

Inspiration is one thing.  Derivativeness is another.

Next question?

FF: Is It Okay?

November 18, 2022
Preparing for Reincarnation

I’m still reading the mass market proofs of my own novel Library of the Sapphire Wind, which was released as a trade paperback and e-book back in February of this year.  Is it okay to like reading one’s own novel?

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:

Died in the Wool by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Another Alleyne mystery set in New Zealand.

In Progress:

River Kings: A New History of the Vikings from Scandinavia to the Silk Roads by Cat Jarman.  Non-fiction.  Curiosity about how a carnelian bead got from (possibly) India to a Viking grave in England sets an archeologist speculating.  Very readable, but right now mostly reading just before bed.

Tied up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Marsh kept from going stale by having more quirky characters and situations.  In this one, a self-made rich man gets around the servant problem by giving positions to murders who he firmly believes are not likely to opt again for murder.

Also:

Finished the most recent Archeology magazine.

P.S. The Zoom chat I’ve offered through the Tamson House auction still has a fairly low bid.  I’ll chat with you and up to five friends about any aspect of writing, writing life, my works, whatever for a whole hour!  Jim and guinea pigs will cameo upon request.

FF: Oopsy!

November 11, 2022
Roary Says…

…the “Queen of Winter” wrap (knitted from undyed alpaca and silk yarn) being offered at the Tamson House auction is a steal.  Ships free within the U.S.  Really, a steal, I just priced a mass-produced knitted wrap on line. 

As for the oopsy, I accidentally credited two of the audiobooks I listened to recently to Margery Allingham, when I should have credited them to Ngaio Marsh.  I blame this on not actually looking at the print page, and the weird coincidence that Marsh’s detective protagonist is “Alleyne,” pronounced “Allen,” which became “Allingham” in my very allergy plagued brain.  You can read my mea culpa corrections at the end 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:

Drink Down the Moon by Charles de Lint.  Standalone sequel to Jack the Giant Killer.  Mostly new cast of characters.

A Wreath for Rivera by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Ambition doesn’t need to be for power and wealth.  Sometimes it’s all about playing the drums.

Colour Scheme by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Marsh was a New Zealander, and WWII gave her a reason to break from the pack and set her novel in her homeland.  Today, when the mystery field often seems to put “oddities” over plot and character, it’s hard to believe what a bold step that was for both her and her publisher.

In Progress:

Died in the Wool by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Another Alleyne mystery set in New Zealand.

River Kings: A New History of the Vikings from Scandinavia to the Silk Roads by Cat Jarman.  Non-fiction.  Curiosity about how a carnelian bead got from (possibly) India to a Viking grave in England sets an archeologist speculating.  Very readable.

Also:

Murder at the Bar and Artists in Crime are both by Ngaio Marsh. 

And I’m also reading the mass market proofs of my own novel Library of the Sapphire Wind, which was released as a trade paperback and e-book back in February of this year.

Oh, yes, I did start writing that short story…