Various Updates and Announcements

Wow. I am busy and loving it.

Pretty new editions of The Marann and Daughters of Suralia are now available. They are simple and clean, and they are copy-edited to within an inch of my life. The interior is printed in an attractive font and mildly stylish chapter titles. And, I promise you, the covers are not not not blurry. These editions look very nice.

But just wait until you see what I’m going to do with the next series. Mwah.

The Fall has various things going on. Advanced Reader Copies have gone to the publicist, who will be sending them out for reviews Real Soon Now ™. We are working with an artist to produce the cover, and it looks like I will get a signed #1 print of it. That’s very exciting!

Farryn’s War has turned into the first book of a new series. It’s a combination of SF noir, space opera, and romantic suspense, and it’s been one heck of a lot of fun to write. It’s enough of a departure from the atmosphere of Tales of Tolari Space, I think, to warrant its own series. I’ll announce the name of the series when I get closer to release. Right now, I am perhaps a few thousand words away from finishing the first draft. There will be nothing like the delay with this book that there was with The Fall.

How has the first week of 2015 been for you?

A New Year, A New Beginning

First things first:

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!!!

May all your hopes for the new year come true!

Well, and I am excited to be back to self-publishing again. This has the following consequences:

The original self-published editions of my books are live again on Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. On Amazon, the ebook versions should update to the shiny new third editions in… about four weeks, according the email I received from KDP Support. I apologize for the inconvenience, but the 500 pound gorilla does what the 500 pound gorilla does. I did everything I could.

On Smashwords, the third editions are available now.

On B&N… I have to confess I’m not entirely sure. The current free sample is taken from the third edition. If you’ve already bought the original, I’m unclear if/when it updates on your Nook. If someone wants to enlighten me, I wouldn’t turn it down.

Print editions are in the works, and galley proofs should arrive tomorrow! Assuming no typos and assuming the formatting looks good, they should become available in the CreateSpace store shortly, and then it will link up with the ebook editions on Amazon… perhaps a week or so after I approve the proofs. Stay tuned.

What will you see in the third editions that you didn’t see in the original? I’m so glad you asked! They are pretty much cleaned-up, copy-edited versions of the second editions. Occasionally, as I read through them, I noticed an awkward sentence here and there and smoothed them out. That sort of thing. If you bought the first edition, this is what you’ll see:

1) The Marann is revised and slightly expanded, with new scenes that develop the world and the romance a little more thoroughly.

A revised and expanded version of the original first chapter of The Marann, which was cut in the second edition (the editor put a note on chapter two that said, Your story starts here), is now in an appendix in the back of the book. I plan to make the same revised first chapter, perhaps with the original original as well, available as a standalone for free on Smashwords, for those who bought the second edition, so they aren’t left out.

2) Daughters of Suralia is more than 21,000 words longer. The book now has an overarching plot, more political development, and a new ending.

Hopefully, those will be the last revisions of my first two books.

Moving on to current projects: Exciting news! I’m querying an artist for cover art for The Fall!

I’m also working with a publicist now, and we’re still deciding on a release date, but it should be… something like *mumble* mid-February or beginning March *mumble* but that’s not firm, mind you.

While I continue to polish up The Fall, I’m writing the conclusion of its sequel, Farryn’s War. This has developed into quite a story on its own, and it’s begging me to branch out with another series — so I will! There’s still more planetary romance to come in the Tales of Tolari Space, but they will dovetail with stories in a new series that has less romance and more space opera.

Does that mean Tolari Space is now officially a Universe? I hope so!

Dreaming the Dreams of the Just

…or something.

Insomnia occasionally plagues me. Last night I lay awake until oh-dark-thirty, when my brother-in-law the lieutenant colonel says he gets up, and when I finally fell asleep, I dreamed about… Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. (If you have never read any of their books, you are in for a treat. Run, do not walk, to the nearest ebook seller of your choice and pick up Agent of Change and Fledgling. They’re free. Go ahead, I’ll be here when you get back. All done? Good! On then!)

The door to the Lee & Miller abode, which I know only from pictures they have posted, was open, so I walked in. My main interest, it seemed, was to see what hardware they use to write. Sharon’s computer, in my dream, possessed an ergonomic keyboard made of futuristic-looking plastic and (I somehow knew) light-weight titanium. Very cool.

Steve’s could only be described as Steampunk. That one held my attention, in the dream. It was a square of something that looked like brass, with 10 levers placed 5 and 5 on two adjoining edges, sticking out like inverted ant legs, arranged to fit the human hand. I knew, upon looking at them, that Steve had only to place his fingers and thumbs on the levers, and it would transmit whatever was in his mind to the paper.

In walked Sharon, as if it was perfectly normal to find me in her house, ogling her husband’s keyboard. I greeted her and explained why I was there, and she allowed as how many people found Steve’s keyboard fascinating.

Then, more’s the pity, I woke up.

Back to the Future

And so, home from PhilCon 2014. After a night’s sleep and a shower, I am back at the keyboard and back in Tolari space.

The con was wonderful, and kudos to the PhilCon concomm. A great time was had by most, as far as I could tell. (Of course it had its blips. Every con does.) I arrived already signed up for 2 panels and! A reading! and ended up on 5 panels total. Jon McGoran was my partner in crime for the reading (his horror is seriously creepy and seriously funny), and there were actually TWO people present who weren’t related to the readers by blood or marriage.

Don’t laugh. That was progress!

I read from the beginning of The Fall until my time was up.

The most fun I had, I think, was telling a physicist who asked me with genuine puzzlement how I as a non-scientist can write science fiction, that I don’t need to understand how an internal combustion engine works in order to drive a car. I mean, I’ve had that line waiting for a suitable opportunity to use for forever. So, neither do my characters need to know how a Kline-Thompson-Nishida engine works to take an interstellar voyage on a ship equipped with one. I just need to be careful not to hold forth on how the thing works. Therefore, I’m unlikely to write a story from the chief engineer’s point of view. (Apologies to those for whom this comes as a disappointment!)

Although, it occurs to me to note that while I’m not a trained scientist, I am science-aware enough to know when I’m breaking the laws of physics. Which you can get away with as long as you’re consistent about it and don’t go too far into the ridiculous.

But okay, if that’s my idea of fun, perhaps I need to get out a bit more. So! Let’s just say the con was fun.

Back to the future, I sit poised on the brink of writing the thrilling climax of Farryn’s War. And ‘sit’ is the operative term. Having set everything up and gotten my characters where they need to be, I’m sitting on the edge, dangling my heels, wondering why in the wide world of sports I’m hesitating.

Just gotta dive in, I guess. <takes a deep breath> See you later!

I’m Not Used To My Hair

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There’s a non-trivial chance that my Tolari have ridiculously long hair because I’ve been letting my own hair grow for the last… oh… third of my life, or something like that. Most folks didn’t realize just how long it was because I seldom went out without twisting it up into a clip. But it was long. Very long. Until last year, it was very very long — halfway down my thighs — but my neck had begun to really hurt, and I had it cut to just about level with the bottom of my shoulder blades.

Since my hair grows rather quickly, it was already down past my waist last week when I marched into a beauty school in West Mifflin and asked them to induct me into the League of Middle-Aged Women With Short Hair.

At first, they didn’t seem to believe me. Then they got excited, and even used someone’s cellphone camera to video the process of chopping off my long ponytail.

Boy, does my neck feel better. But the habits of years are hard to break, and I still try to flip it out of the way while engaged in any number of mundane activities, from brushing my teeth to rolling over in bed.

Curiously enough, I finally caved into the pressure (from those aware of just how much pain I was putting up with for the sake of my hair) while getting ready to write about Tolari outcastes in Farryn’s War. And that’s all I can say, because <alexkingston>spoilers!</alexkingston>, but I think that thinking deeply about the outcastes and their short hair helped me say good-bye to my beautiful long tresses.

The ponytail is going to Locks of Love. Which donation, by the way, I recommend to anyone deciding to go from Very Long to Very Short.

How short is it? This short:

eBook vs Paper: The Great Debate

I have a friend who travels a lot on business. When I asked her if she wanted me to send ebook versions of my novels, she responded with a loving and detailed description of her process for choosing what to read on a plane. It involves walking into the used bookstore in her local airport, mulling over the used book bin, the smell, the feel of the paper… I think it’s a religious experience for her.

Others of my friends cite similar reasons for eschewing ebooks: they love the tactile and olfactory experience associated with paper.

Me, I prefer ebooks. Specifically, on the ereader apps on my smartphone.

Why? Well, first off, I have arthritis in my hands. The average weight of a hardback book is almost 2 pounds, and that of a paperback just over 1 pound. My smartphone weighs less than 5 ounces. It’s painful to hold a hardback open, uncomfortable to hold a paperback, but completely painless to hold my phone. It’s a no-brainer which I’ll choose, given the choice.

Second, they’re cheaper, so I can buy more of them.

Third, they don’t weigh anything, so I can carry around hundreds of them and decide on the spur of the moment what I want to read on the plane.

But — there’s always a but — there’s also the fact that I simply don’t care what medium the words come to me in, as long as I get to read them. I forget where I am (unless pain keeps bringing me back — see point the first above), I forget who I am, and anything you say to me while I’m reading a novel can and will be immediately forgotten, even if my lips carry on some kind of conversation with you (which I also won’t remember). If my eyes don’t leave the page, it doesn’t make it into long-term memory.

So I read a statement a little while ago to the effect that sometimes it’s just cozier to curl up with a print book. Elsewhere, I’ve read numerous sanctimonious pontifications on the superiority of print for the Quintessential Reading Experience. And that saddened me, because Hello. Arthritis. Am I missing out on something?

I thought back to the days before I developed arthritis, when there were no ebooks, and I’d curl up somewhere with the remains of a dead tree. And I remembered that I really didn’t care then, either, what the paper smelled like or how it felt in my hands. Today, I curl up with the processed remains of dead dinosaurs wrapped around a framework of light metal, and I don’t miss books made of paper. I especially don’t miss the stabbing pain of my arthritis getting inflamed by the weight of them.

If you ask me (and I know you didn’t), I don’t think the debate really has anything to do with the medium on which the words are printed. What it actually has to do with, I’ll leave you to decide, gentle reader.

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we shall hold print books to be superior.
On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, we shall hold ebooks to be superior.
And on Sunday, we shall simply rest.

Happy Sunday!

Landing

So! Phoenix!

It’s actually my husband’s doing that we’re here; he’s on a commission, and it’s meeting. I tagged along for the ride.

Well, strictly speaking, I tagged along because The Husband got that “can I have a puppy?” look on his face when he asked, “Do you want to see Phoenix? Huh? Huh?” and I have a really hard time denying him anything when he gets that look. He loves this place, and if it weren’t for the fact that we’d be thousands of miles away from our children, he wouldn’t hesitate to move us here.

Truth to tell, I wouldn’t mind it either, but for the far-away-from-family part. It’s warm. Really warm. I grew up in temperate southern California and I have, for the past several years, been longing to get away from the cold winters of the northeast. I much prefer desert summers to snowy winters.

Anyway, here we are. The Husband has gone off to a morning of meetings, and I plan to decompress from the stress of travel, and write.

What are YOU doing this morning?

Situation Normal

My stress test results were “normal.” I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but my doctor seems happy.

And so begins the hunt to find out what’s causing my chest pain.

While I didn’t have a full-on treadmill stress test, the doctor at the hospital multi-test area took one look at me and asked, “Can you walk at all?” When I said, “Yes,” he ordered, “Get on the treadmill.”

That probably made the test less unpleasant, really, but four minutes at 1 mph crippled me, and five days later, I still can’t put all my weight on Stupid Hip. This would seem to indicate that it’s deteriorated more than I thought, and it prompted The Husband to go into Neanderthal mode: “Me take woman to see orthopedist NOW!”

So yeah, now I have an appointment with my surgeon, a small woman with a big ego who has a history of climbing onto the exam table with me to wrench my leg around. “Does this hurt?” Aaaaaah!

More fun in the offing.

Meanwhile, I write. The Fall hasn’t come back to me from the editor yet, so I’m working on Farryn’s War, chipping away at the difficult bit in the middle.

What are you working on?

And Now We Wait

I am freshly back from the hospital and that adenosine stress test. I did not experience any chest pain during the test, which is A Very Good Sign. We (the husband and I) are quite happy about this.

We are less happy about the raging headache left by drug they used to dilate my coronary arteries, but oh well.

My doctor will let me know the full results of the test in a few days. Stay tuned!

Morning

See any morning people around here?

Yeah, neither do I.

For the record, I am a night owl. I do my best writing at about 1 am. My doctor scheduled that adenosine stress test for 8 am. You may laugh, but I’ve had to spend this week walking my schedule back so I don’t show up at the hospital more zombie than human.

Please excuse me while I go refill my coffee.

sigh

That’s better. Where was I?

While I wait on the edits for The Fall, I’m working on the next book, Farryn’s War (you’ll find out who Farryn is at the end of The Fall). As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a sharp departure from anything I’ve ever written. We head out into human space, and it’s not milk and cookies. It’s part space opera, part SF noir, part romantic suspense. If, when you read it, you want to kill one of the characters, just remember you’re not the only one. I have a love-hate relationship with that character.

At some point, I also have to finish Stranded, which is barely started. Also a departure from my usual — I’m beginning to wonder if I even have a usual — this one will be a YA set on Tolar. It should be a lot of fun.

And, if I’m not mistaken, Zombiefied II and III, both anthologies of *drum roll* zombie stories, will be released close to Halloween. I have a story in one of them! It’s a different sort of zombie story.

So. How’s your morning?