WorldCon 75

Back in August, I went to my first WorldCon, WC 75. I traveled with my mom and my sister. We went to Amsterdam and Stockholm before taking an overnight cruise to Helsinki and WorldCon. It was a fantastic trip.

WorldCon has a YouTube channel here with videos of some of the panels. Some of the ones I attended:

Romance and the Female Gaze

We are the Crystal Gems

Food Lies (this was particularly fun)

But some of the panels I went to appear not to have been recorded. Mary Robinette Kowal’s Short Story Writing for Novelists was a fantastic lecture. Here are a couple of resources that seem to cover the ground that Mary talked about at WorldCon:

Writing Excuses 12.32: Structuring a Short Piece

JoCo Cruise Short Story Structure

I found this lecture so incredibly useful for thinking about what to put in and what to leave out of a short story, and what order to put the pieces in. The Writing Excuses show notes also have a very helpful infographic to help visualize the information Mary covers in the lectures.

What I can’t find is something to cover the same ground as the incredibly informative Self-Publishing panel that I went to. It was great. My mom and sister are not involved in publishing whatsoever and have no plans to ever self-publish anything, and yet they still found it interesting. (So, kudos to the guests and moderators for making it compelling even to some folks with no skin in the game!) Luckily, I took pretty detailed notes, so sometime soon when I have the time, I’ll type those up and post them here.

 

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Peavine Falls

Over Labor Day weekend, my family and I went to Oak Mountain State Park, which is a beautiful park only about a half hour away from us. It’s got canoeing and horseback riding and swimming and probably a bunch of other stuff I don’t know about, as it had been decades since I went out there. But there’s a waterfall I remembered hiking to, and we wanted to take the kids out there to experience it for themselves. I look a jillion pictures. A select few are below the cut.

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Sorrow’s Son Release Day and Strangehold sale!

It’s here! Sorrow’s Son is live on Amazon. I’m really excited for the book to be live and hope you enjoy it if you check it out. It’s a little longer than book one; Strangehold was about 45,000 words, and Sorrow’s Son clocks in at 55,000. There’s a new POV character, Javier, who was orphaned during the Savannah flu and is looking for other spellcasters. He finds Morgan, Rowan, and the twins, and the plot thickens from there.

Javier was actually the first character I wrote in the Crossroads of Worlds setting, back before I really had Morgan and her family figured out. Back then, my working title was Desiderium, which is an old word meaning “a feeling of grief for something lost.” My initial conception was of a spellcaster who wasn’t even sure if there were any other magicians left in the world but was looking for them anyway, left in his own private desolation because his whole world was gone and the nonmagical world hardly even noticed. I also wanted to write a character who had suffered and lost a lot, but was still essentially kind. I hope I’ve succeeded.

Of course, the characters, setting, and complications evolved as I wrote, so it’s not quite so elegiac and mournful as all that, and there are significantly more hellhounds than in my first draft.

Free book! 

And to celebrate Sorrow’s Son being finished and out there in the world, Strangehold is free through Tuesday. If you’ve been thinking about checking it out, now is a great time!

 

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Sorrow’s Son release date: Sept. 15

Quick post to note that Sorrow’s Son is coming out Sept. 15th, and is available for preorder here. Whew! Very excited to have the release date set. You can read more about the book and read an excerpt here.

Also, beginning Sept. 8th, I’ll have a Goodreads giveaway for Strangehold, followed a few later with one for Sorrow’s Son, signed paper copies for both. I’ll link to those when they go live.

Right now, I’m in edits for “Fire on the Hill”, a 15,000ish word story about Morgan and Matthew in the 1990s, well before the events of Strangehold. It should go out exclusively to newsletter subscribers by the end of the month.

After that, I’ll be getting back into the first draft of book three, Queen of Storms. If the writing goes according to schedule, it should see release by the end of the year.

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Pinterest boards for Crossroads of Worlds

As I’m closing in on the edits for Sorrow’s Son (so close!), I was looking at some of the reference pictures I pinned for the books. Sometimes looking for reference images can be sweet, sweet procrastination, but sometimes those images are really useful for getting a solid visual on something (or someone) to describe it.

Below the cut are my boards for Strangehold, Sorrow’s Son, and book 3, Queen of Storms. Obviously there are some hints about what future books might hold. (Lots of dresses in the fae court in QoS, for example!)

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Scenes from the Eclipse

The daystar remained terribly unphotogenic while being eaten–it more or less looked normal on camera the whole time. We got to about 96% of totality, and it was amazing through eclipse glasses and terribly boring on camera.

 

Even when I took its picture through my eclipse glasses.

 

The dog was unperturbed by it all.

 

The shadows were pretty amazing though.

 

Even through a colander.

 

The strangest thing to me was the quality of the light. It looked wrong coming from overhead but being so dim–perhaps how the peak of noon at summer would be from a more distant planet, or one orbiting an older star. I enjoyed it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Strangehold is now available!

It’s here! Strangehold is now available for purchase here as an ebook or in print. Whew! I am both excited and nervous for other people to read it.

I cut my urban fantasy teeth on Emma Bull and Mercedes Lackey, among others, back in the eighties and nineties. I have always loved the interaction between humanity and Faerie, the contrast of the contemporary world with the fantasy one, mortal humans and the immortal–or nearly so–fae. I’ve also always loved stories that cross worlds, so I wrote in several of them.

Coming in August is a prequel novelette for newsletter subscribers, that sees Morgan and a fellow student travel to 1990s Edinburgh to participate in the Beltane festivities. Shortly after that, book two of the Crossroads of Worlds, Sorrow’s Son, will be released. Whew!

 

 

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The Neo Alphasmart, Two Weeks In

I do love my bunny mug.  A few weeks back  I ordered a Neo Alphasmart based solely on reading Ann Aguirre’s twitter about a month back when she was talking about it. She praised her Alphasmart for a few things: its non-connectivity, its battery life, and its single function. I’ve now been using it for about two weeks. Reader, I’m about to praise it for much the same things.

Design-wise, it looks a bit like a giant calculator and a typewriter had a baby. It’s smaller than a laptop and very light. I’m a big fan of its portability. It’s just so easy to take it into the backyard, or to the couch at night. It doesn’t get hot so I can hold it on my lap if there’s no convenient table nearby.

You can only see about four lines of text as you type, which for those of you who are tempted to endlessly edit as you write (and want to stop yourself at the first draft stage) might be a really good thing.  I do find it occasionally frustrating when I can’t easily check against something I decided a few pages back, but in that case I just leave myself a note in brackets to check it later, which is my usual way of leaving future me notes for later at the first draft stage. (I generally find them as I go in edits, but I also search on them to make sure I didn’t miss any.)

Another downside–if you want to count the minimal text as a downside–is that the keyboard is a little different from my laptop keyboard. My fingers haven’t quite adjusted to the difference, and I make many more typos. Also, I usually compose in Word, which corrects a lot of common typos. I really had no idea how many “teh”s and “adn”s I type on the regular, since generally they get fixed as I go. On the Alphasmart, they remain, taunting me.

But on the whole, it’s light and has an incredible battery life (on, I believe, a pair of AAs), doesn’t light my legs on fire if I want to balance it there, and perhaps most importantly, all you can really do on it is type. I do sometimes have a problem with checking twitter, or following links and then obsessively closing out my tabs during what is supposed to be writing time. This eliminates that distraction. And then when you’re done, you plug it into your computer and watch the letters scroll across the screen, magically typing themselves. It’s great.

All in all, I’m quite happy with my purchase. I’m writing a short story on it right now, and it’s great to be able to take it outside. (I haven’t taken it to a coffeeshop yet, but I’m going to, as well as take it on some road trips later in the summer and maybe get some writing done in the car.) The Neo Alphasmart is n longer being made, but there seem to be plenty available on eBay and Amazon. If you ever have an issue with computer-related distraction or just want a portable, non-heating option for writing on the go, I’d recommend it.

(Added bonus: My dog is very happy with the additional outside time. Here he is looking up through the table, wondering if the Alphasmart is going to manifest a treat. Sadly, that is not one of its capabilities.)

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Goodreads Giveaway for Strangehold!

 

What it says on the tin!

There are four paperback advance reader copies to give away, if paper books float your boat.

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Recipe Roundup

I’ve been on a mission to eat more vegetables, and I’m collecting some of the most successful recipes here for future reference and in case anyone else might enjoy them. We are a pretty foodie family–all four of us like to cook (even if the kids don’t always actually eat what they help us cook.)

Pictured above is the Greek Goddess bowl, right before I stirred it up and made it look less pretty. No cooking involved, just chopping. This was delicious and fresh, with a lemon dressing and mint and oregano picked from the back yard. Definitely going to make it again.

Asparagus soup. I have made this several times. It’s so good.

mmmmmm carrots

spiralized carrots

I got a vegetable spiralizer–this one, to be precise–so we could make veggie noodles. This has been a great success. Some of my favorites:

Mediterranean Bean Salad. Lemon dressing on black beans and chickpeas on a bed of cucumber spirals. Delicious.

Herby Cucumber Salad– Yogurt and dill cucumber salad. We leave out the mustard.

Parsnip noodles with sausage and Brussels sprouts. This was so delicious as is, but a little dry, so the second time I made it, I used half parsnip and half zucchini noodles, and added halved grape tomatoes and a splash of apple cider vinegar.

Zucchini noodles with tomatoes and pesto. Simple and good.

On the list to try:

Sweet potato and Brussels sprouts.

Parsnips and miso.

zucchini!

 

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