Archive for the ‘My Stories’ Category

Pretties and Interviews

June 15, 2022
Pretties for You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Illusion of Productivity

June 8, 2022
Dandy Poses with Productivity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of it involves various short fiction writing projects.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bunny, Treecats, and More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Least Favorite Job

May 18, 2022
Words Into Terrain

Last week, I promised to reveal what is one of my least favorite jobs as a writer.  It’s making maps.

You’d think that as a long-time gamer, I’d have mapping down to a science.  I mean, I’ve been gaming since I was not quite eighteen, and have been running games for almost as long.  But, nope.  It doesn’t work that way.  Lately, when our games need more detail, gamer Rowan (also cover artist for Asphodel) takes my rough drawing and starts gridding.  She’s amazing that way.

I have no trouble envisioning the terrain in which my stories are set.  I just don’t seem to be able to draw it.  For many stories, I don’t need a map.  Maybe I can access real maps of the locations involved, as I did for Child of a Rainless Year or Thirteen Orphans and the other “Breaking the Wall” novels.  Or maybe the focus is tight enough or on something other than moving through a landscape, so I don’t need a map.

Or maybe I can get away with a very general map, noting where locations are in relation to other locations.  That’s what I did with the early Firekeeper novels, although later I needed more detailed maps.

So, what do I do when I need a detailed map?  I turn to my husband, Jim.  As many of you already know, Jim’s an archeologist, and making maps is a part of his professional tool kit.  The maps he draws are very detailed, and even include elevations, which is definitely useful when the challenge of crossing a bit of terrain is part of the story.

When Jim needs to help me out, I start by giving him a verbal portrait of the landscape, including the rationale behind various terrain features.  This narration is often accompanied by a rough map by me, drawn not with images, but with words.  Jim then translates this into a sketch, which, in turn, often reveals to me additional ramifications of the terrain.

Sometimes these ramifications even become plot points.

We’re still roughing out the current map, but you can get a glimpse of Jim’s work, as well as the very little he has to work from, in the accompanying photo.

Now, off to do what I like doing far more than I like cartography.  Writing!

Gardener: ’Tain’t Whatcha Think

May 11, 2022
Chocolate Flowers

Monday morning, as I was out in our yard, preparing various containers for seeds while on stand-by in case Jim needed help as he set up our swamp cooler, I found myself thinking about the term “gardener,” as applied to writers.

As you may know, in this context, “gardener” is used as a synonym for what I prefer to call an “intuitive plotter,” but is often referred to by the inelegant term “pantser,” which in turn is short for “seat of the pants plotter,” (a term that in my opinion is only slightly better).

Whatever you call it, a gardener is a writer who does not outline in advance of writing, and may not seem to plan much in advance at all.

So, it was when I worked out my novels, Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge, which have been praised by award-winning reviewer Alan Robson, who noted that the story elements “have very significant roles to play in advancing the plot, and every time the plot advances the story exposes another intricate layer and we learn more and more about the way that the world of Over Where works. I’m astonished that Jane Lindskold managed to hold a structure as complicated as this one in her head while she was writing it, and I’m impressed at the skilful way in which the twists and turns reveal themselves so gradually and yet so inexorably.”  (Phoenixzine, May 2022)

By contrast, when I worked with David Weber on the forthcoming A New Clan, my natural tendency to not plan in advance had to be moderated by the need to work with another author.  In turn, Weber moderated his own desire to brainstorm in exhaustive detail to accommodate the fact that if I have it all figured out in advance, I feel the story is told, and am less enthusiastic.

Well, as I knelt there in my yard, stirring up dry soil, adding additional potting soil, soaking the planting medium in stages to make sure it was uniformly damp, and only then adding in the seeds—these spaced according to their specific needs, and those needs dictated by where that particular planter was going to be placed—I found myself thinking for the hundredth time how inappropriate the term “gardener” is for an intuitive plotter.

I wandered on at greater length about this subject here, so I’ll point you that way, and summarize.  (The first part of this other post is about our garden that particular year, but I suggest you read it, especially if you don’t garden yourself.)

Just as a gardener does not plant without acquiring a lot of advanced knowledge, so an intuitive plotter does not get ideas from some abstract ether.  A lot of work goes into preparing the “soil,” to learning about what the seeds need, to learning about the environment in which the plant or the story will grow.

A great example are the chocolate flowers featured in the photo above.  Jim and I like flowers, but we also like to work within the needs of our environment, which is hot, dry, and fairly brutal.  Chocolate flowers thrive in poor soil, without need for additional watering once they are established.  A bonus is that local birds love the seeds, so we not only get to watch the birds, they help spread the plants in our yard.

(The name “chocolate flower” comes from the scent of the flowers, which is not unlike bittersweet chocolate.)

So, for all you folks who think you can just zen your way into a story, without any foundation at all, remember, the planning goes in, whether before, after, or along the way, but one way or another, you’re going to need to do the work.

Speaking of which, I’m off to pull out scrap paper and work on one of my least favorite jobs…  Maybe I’ll talk about what that is next time.

Kids Are Alright, But…

April 27, 2022

New Books, New Podcasts

Several weeks ago, David Butler and I discussed Aurora Borealis Bridge, as well as wandering into a bunch of other topics, for Baen Free Radio.  The chat is now available on video or audio only.

Since Aurora Borealis Bridge is the second book in the Over Where series, there will be spoilers.  You might enjoy starting with our chat about Library of the Sapphire Wind which is also available on video or audio only.

The other day, a long-time friend commented that the Over Where books are not the only ones I’ve written where the protagonist is not a younger person.  Mira, the main character in Child of a Rainless Year, is in her early fifties.  What many readers, looking at the silver-haired me of these days, might not realize is that when I wrote Mira, I was actually in my early-forties.  I used my husband, Jim (who is ten years older than me), as a touchpoint for getting right what she would have had available to her as a kid.

My original plan for the “Breaking the Wall” books (Thirteen Orphans, Nine Gates, Five Odd Honors) was to have some of the older Orphans be the point of view characters.  Brenda Morris became a point of view character at the request of Tor’s Tom Doherty, who said he felt the Firekeeper readers expected me to be writing about a younger character.

In reality, writing about characters older than me was more common than not early in my writing career.  Older people can be much more interesting to write about.  They’ve had life experiences that go beyond first kiss or getting a date to the prom or first jobs or dealing with annoying parents and/or teachers…  Well, you get the point.

This is not to say that I don’t like writing about younger people.  I taught college English for a good number of years, and there’s nothing like reading freshman essays to give you a realistic appreciation of the mindset of people in their late teens and early twenties.  What I love the most is that on some topics, they can be as sophisticated as people much older than they are, while in others they are enchantingly naïve. 

For this reason, I resolved that the Over Where books would have competent characters in all age ranges, and that if someone made mistakes, it would not be because they were a “behind the times” senior or a “dumb kid.”  It would be because they were people, and people, no matter the age, level of education, or amount of life experience, are perfectly capable of making mistakes.

On that note, I’m going to wander on back to my writing, and see what my characters are getting up to now.

Child of a Rainless Year

April 20, 2022
Original Cover, New Cover

As I promised last week, I’m going to wander on about the latest novel in my backlist to have a new e-book release, this one with cover design by Jane Noel.

Oh! By the way, the new e-book release contains new content in the form of a short essay about some of the impulses behind the novel my longtime pen pal, Paul Dellinger, has called “a love letter to your adopted home state.”

Child of a Rainless Year was initially released in 2005 from Tor.  Since these WW didn’t exist then, I feel I must tell you a bit more about the novel.

Here’s the new cover copy…

Personal History Shrouded in Mystery

Even before her mother vanished, Mira was beginning to realize that her upbringing was far different from that of the children around her.  She has no idea who her father was.  Her mother, Colette, was a distantly elegant figure, more interested in keeping Mira isolated than in being part of her upbringing.

Then, when Mira was nine, Colette vanished without a trace. Mira was adopted by loving foster parents, and let herself forget the mother she had hardly known.

That changes when Mira comes into her inheritance.  She learns that not only does she still own the peculiar house in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where she had lived as a child, but that the question of what happened to Colette still haunts her.

Seeking closure, Mira returns to Phineas House, but the more she learns, the more she realizes that Colette was not what she seemed, and that their family is intertwined with mystical secrets that have influenced not only Mira’s own life, but the history of the city they have warped by their very presence.

At the time of its release, Child of a Rainless Year received numerous glowing reviews.  Here’s the starred review from Booklist:

“Lindskold conjures the atmosphere of nontourist New Mexico, beautifully evoking Las Vegas’ long, turbulent history while spinning a fantastic yarn about Mira’s odd inheritance. Neither an explosive story nor an edge-of-the-seat-thriller, the novel’s strength lies in the unfolding of Mira’s character.” 

Alan Robson reminded me this past week that he’d also given it a glowing review.  Here’s an excerpt of his June 2005 review.

“There are some very special books in the world; books that take you away from yourself and transport you to another place from which you do not want to return. When you read one of these special books, you start to resent the intrusions of reality. It begins to seem pale and thin by comparison. Mundane things like eating and sleeping just get in the way of the transcendental experience of reading that special book and you can’t wait to return to it.

Child of a Rainless Year by Jane Lindskold is one of these very special books.”

Alan caught something about the novel that many people missed, so I’m going to take the liberty of quoting a bit more:

“This is a fantasy novel and fantastic things are happening right from the very first page, though that does not become clear until much later on in the story. We are introduced so seductively to the world behind the world that we simply don’t notice until suddenly it is all around us and even the most bizarre circumstances seem so natural that we simply accept them as a matter of course.

“One of the things that makes this book such an absorbing read is its astonishing sense of place and character. The tiny town of Las Vegas (yes – it really exists) is drawn in all its brown and dusty glory. You can taste the grit as you breathe. And all the characters in the book, even the spear-carriers, step alive from the page and demand their moment of glory. Mira in particular is so real and so vivid that she becomes extremely easy to identify with. Her problems quickly become your problems, and you want them to be solved just as much as she does. The pages almost turn themselves. It becomes vital that you find out what happens next, and nothing must be allowed to get in the way of that.

Child of a Rainless Year is the most perfect piece of storytelling that I’ve ever read.”

For those of you who don’t like e-books, I also have the original hardcover available in my website bookshop.  As always, signing ad personalization are free!

Now, off to write something new!

New Releases! Rocky Insights!

April 13, 2022
Two New Releases!

Several bits of news, then my insight from the past week.  (There’s also an extra photo!)

As you probably guessed from the image above, I have Book Release News!

Aurora Borealis Bridge, sequel to Library of the Sapphire Wind, is now officially released as both an e-book and a trade paperback.

My friend, award-winning reviewer, Alan Robson, who has permission to not like the same sorts of books as me or even my books (or else we could never have written a column together for seven years), had this to say about the series:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I even stayed up past my bedtime just so I could finish the first book!  It’s an amazingly complex story, quite different from what I expected at the start…. I think it’s very clever, very witty, often funny and really rather subversive in the way in which it turns so many cliches on their heads. Well done, very well done.”

I’ve been writing about the two Over Where books on and off for a while now.  If you’d like to know more, you can read about Library of the Sapphire Wind here.

As for Aurora Borealis Bridge, here’s a longer version of the cover copy that doesn’t have too many spoilers!

Can It Get Any Stranger?

Absolutely!

When Peg, Meg, and Teg were first summoned Over Where, vast and varied life experience (along with wide reading choices) helped them to adjust to a world where they were the only humans, magic was real, ships could fly, and reincarnation was a confirmed fact.

In the company of the “inquisitors,” Xerak, Grunwold, and Vereez, the three newly appointed mentors rediscovered the Library of the Sapphire Wind, and, within it, revelations that transformed the young people’s pasts into a vast tangle of lies and half-truths.

But there are still questions to be answered.  Before they are done, Meg the retired librarian, Teg the archeologist turned mage, and the multi-talented, ever surprising Peg will deal with kidnappings, betrayal, arcane artifacts, romantic intrigues, and the inescapable reality that past lives cast long shadows.

Together, the three mentors and their young allies will uncover the startling truth about what lies on the other side of the Aurora Borealis Bridge—a truth that holds the secret of Over Where, and that will change all their lives forever.

As for the other image there with Aurora Borealis Bridge, I’m happy to announce that at long last, there is a new e-book edition of my novel Child of a Rainless Year available at several popular e-tailers.  Since this WW has wandered on almost long enough, I’ll stop here and save talking about this novel for next week’s WW.

If you can’t wait or have any questions about any of my books, I’m doing a Zoom chat with Parsec, the Pittsburgh area SF/F club this coming Saturday, April 16, at 1:00 pm EST.  Here’s a link where you can sign up: Parsec meeting.   

Oh, and the insight?  It’s related to the picture below.

On Monday, Jim and I came back from Arizona, where we went for my aunt’s funeral.  This photo was taken at one of the rest stops along the way home from Tucson.  I guess it’s proof that no matter how sad the occasion, no matter how tough the road, you can find beauty along the way.

Beauty Along the Way

FF: Author’s Copies Arrive!

April 1, 2022
Coco Contemplates the Aurora Borealis Bridge

I wasn’t April Fooling you when I said that the official release date for Aurora Borealis Bridge, print edition, had been set back to April 12th, due to problems at the printer.  (The e-book version should be available as of April 5th.)  However, my author’s copies arrived this week, so it’s possible some brick-and-mortar stores may have their copies sooner.

And, for those of you in New Mexico, remember, I’m presenting tonight at the ASFS meeting.  I invite questions, will be reading from Library of the Sapphire Wind, and I even have a few nifty things to give away. 

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:

Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark.  Audiobook.  Enjoyed.  A good plot, a rich setting, characters I was absolutely rooting for all the way.

The Broken Vase by Rex Stout.  A non-Nero Wolfe mystery.  Despite one element I absolutely could not believe, I enjoyed this.

DreamForge Anvil, issue 7.  A variety of looks at the question of what is the meaning of a life.

In Progress:

Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls by Charles De Lint.  ARC.  So far, very hard to put down.

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins.  Recommended by a friend.  Halfway.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.  Audiobook.  Just started.

Also:

American Archeology Magazine, an earlier issue I somehow missed finishing.

I Still Have Questions

March 30, 2022
Our Yard Last Wednesday

But at least I have some answers… 

First, though a few public service announcements.

This Friday, April 1 (no fooling), I will be speaking at the meeting of the Albuquerque SF Society.  According to their official announcement:

“Jane Lindskold will talk to us about the three novels she has out from Baen Books this year – Library of the Sapphire Wind: Over Where Book 1 in February, Aurora Borealis Bridge: Over Where 2 in April, and A New Clan (Star Kingdom book) co-written with David Weber, in June.  She will definitely answer questions from attendees, and might even read a passage from the first Over Where novel.”

The meeting will begin at 7:30 pm (doors open at 7:15 pm) at St Andrew Presbyterian Church, 5301 Ponderosa Ave NE (between San Mateo & San Pedro, south of Montgomery – near Erna Ferguson Library).  See their website under Meetings for further information.

I will have a few nifty little things to give away… And if everyone has already read Library of the Sapphire Wind, I will read from Aurora Borealis Bridge.  And, of course, I’ll be very happy to sign your copies of the new books.  Or even older ones.  I’ll bring my colored pens.

In further news, my website, JaneLindskold.com, has recently had some shiny new additions.  Among these was updating PayPal for the site’s bookshop.  If you’ve had difficulty ordering, you might want to try again.

In a Wednesday Wanderings a few weeks ago, I mentioned various things I was musing about.  One of these was when would the flickers vanish and the quail reappear.

 I am happy to announce that last Sunday we saw the first quail, and the flickers are still around, so evidently, they overlap.  We have also heard our first toads of the season.  Our neighbor’s apricot trees are in full bloom.  I guess it’s officially Spring.

As to another of those musings, I’ve decided that rather than having “gotten used to” fifty-degree temperatures shifts, I’ve simply come to rely on New Mexico’s weird weather as a source of amusement.  This last week was particularly good: Wednesday we had about four inches of snow; by Sunday, the temperature hit 87 F.

I haven’t gotten around to baking using rose water as an ingredient.  I’ll let you know if I do!

Our Yard on Sunday