Tag Archives: Jay Lake

A New Tale of the Rose Knights, and More from Ygerna for #WIPpet Wednesday

Today, Daily Science Fiction posted the next installment in the Rose Knights series I wrote with Jay Lake, “Harlekin.” Here’s the real Harlekin rose that inspired the tale:

Harlekin rose
Harlekin rose by T. Kiya on Wikimedia Commons

Quite a beaut, eh? 🙂

My progress in terms of editing and new words continues to be nice and steady. Last week, I managed to get 4700 new words written, and 39 pages revised. I’m quite happy with that.

I’m slowing down on the marketing front, though. I didn’t get any more short stories submitted to traditional markets, nor did I get much done in terms of promo organizing. Oh, well. I’m sure I will notice it in sales at the end of the month, but I think right now it’s more important to get more books out. My experience of recent months tells me that having at least one serious promo a month is the best way I’ve found to maintain fairly regular sales and keep my books from dropping into obscurity.

Since it is Wednesday, it is also time to share a snippet from a Work In Progress, otherwise known as a WIPpet. My math today is 3 x 2 for the date = 6 short paragraphs.

TRIGGER WARNING! I’m not including the “bad stuff,” but it’s implied in the scene below. So stop now if you don’t want to read that kind of thing.

We last left Ygerna in imminent danger, even though she didn’t know it. From your comments, I’m pretty sure many of you did. For any number or reasons, I do no want to post the scene in which Uthyr forces her, so today we are going to skip ahead to where she is found.

Ygerna must have passed out on the damp floor of the cave. The next thing she knew, concerned voices were whispering above her, rousing her back to her misery.
“Does she still breathe?”
“She must. I would not have felt her pain otherwise.”
“I have heard of those who communicate with the dead.”
“The dead feel no pain.”
She heard the flickering of a burning torch, and beyond her closed eyelids, she sensed increased light. She pressed her eyes closed and rolled her body tight into a fetal position she never wanted to leave again.

Emily Witt is our host for the snippet sharing session, in which we post an excerpt from a WIP on our blog, something that relates to the date in some way. If you want to play too, add your link to the Linky.

A Golden Unicorn, an update, and Ygerna for #WIPpet Wednesday

First off, I want to point you in the direction of the most recent story in The Tales of the Rose Knights that was published on Daily Science Fiction today, “Golden Unicorn.”

All of the Rose Knights of these stories I wrote with Jay Lake are named after real roses. Here the Golden Unicorn of this week’s title:

Golden Unicorn rose
Golden Unicorn

Speaking of Jay, I finally got another story I wrote with him revised and submitted to F&SF this weekend. I have such a ridiculously huge backlog of short stories at the moment that I’ve decided to try and get at least one story submitted a week until my database is no longer full of “ready to send” entries. :/

That will involve more time spent on revisions, however, and it’s reflected in my numbers for last week. My new words for the week were way down, only 3600, but I also edited / revised 28 pages (some more work some less, so hard to distinguish). I haven’t yet worked out how much pages edited are “worth” in terms of new words, but I figure I have to start counting them or else I won’t get around to finishing all the projects I have on my hard drive. If I only measure success in new words, then I’ll never finish anything.

I also spent a fair amount of time on marketing, setting up ads for a sale next week, and applying for another BookBub ad. Wish me luck!

Since it’s Wednesday, I also have another excerpt for you. Once again from Ygerna, even though I am mostly working on revising Dragon Touched and various short stories. But if you follow this blog, Ygerna provides the most continuity, and it’s still a WIP, so I think we’ll stick with it for a while. 🙂 10 sentences today, adding up all the digits for 2/17. This snippet comes just after Ygerna leaves the wedding banquet, disappointed with the behavior of her betrothed, Gurles (the excerpt I gave you last week):

Ygerna made her way from the upper hall where the festivities were being held to the nearly flat top of the promontory. Patches of mist and fog twisted and swirled around her, coming and going with the wind from the sea. Despite the buildings that dotted the near-island, gusts always seemed to find a way to whip her cape around and tug strands of red hair from her braid. She pulled them back from her forehead and walked to the edge of the cliff to gaze out at the ocean, the sea that was named for their enemies, the Erainn. The pirates who had killed their older brother and changed all their lives.
The position of the sun was barely visible through the fog, but a hint of brightness a handspan above the horizon indicated that it was evening. Late enough that her parents would not scold too much if she didn’t return to the banquet and sought out her bedchamber in the lower hall instead.
She turned, intending to seek out her room — to see Uthyr not far away, watching her. Once again, that pleasant nervousness overcame her at the sight of his charming smile.
“You left the banquet early,” he said.

Emily Witt is our host for the snippet sharing session, in which we post an excerpt from a WIP on our blog, something that relates to the date in some way. If you want to play too, add your link to the Linky.

Flash fiction “Osiana” published on DSF

Last year, I got back to submitting some short stories I wrote with the late Jay Lake. The first in a series of flash fiction pieces which will be appearing in Daily Science Fiction came out today, “Osiana.”

The characters of the stories in “The Tales of the Rose Knights” are all named after roses. Here is the real Osiana:

Osiana Rose
Osiana Rose, M. Israel

Hope you enjoy this story and those to follow!

You win some, you lose some: 3rd quarter writing goals wrap-up

My main goal for this quarter was to get back into better habits regarding the writing. I’ve been semi-successful in that respect. Part of what has helped is my new goal to write at least 100 words a day, even if it’s late and I just finished the day’s translation. Because sometimes, if I start getting into it, 100 turns into 200 or 300 or more. I’m not quite up to the 2500 words a week regularly that I wanted to achieve at the beginning of this round, but last week it was 1900, and the week before 2700, so I seem to be learning how to balance the writing and the translation better.

Last week, however, I realized that I will have to up my translation output. Not only did I lose a few days here and there due to all the visits from the States this summer, the fact that German tends to be longer than English means that as I progress through the document, my goal gets farther and farther away. In the original English, the file I’m translating is 249 pages. The German file is now 273 and growing. When figuring out how many pages I had to do a day in order to finish by the end of October, I forgot to take that into consideration. I now have to adjust accordingly — which will mean less time for writing. :/

Specific goals and how I did:

Writing:

– Write an average of 2500 words a week.

Did so-so on this one. My average weekly word count for the quarter was 2200.

– Finish Shards of Glass

Nope. But if it were as long as I originally projected, I would be done by now. Right now, it’s coming in at 33,600 words. I was shooting for 25,000, and didn’t think it would get beyond 30,000. Wrong.

– Write 3 new short stories

Nope. Zilch, nada, nothing. Too busy with the translation.

– Revise “Pool of Souls” and send it out

Nope.

Writing business:

– 500 words a day of translation

I’m going to count this one a win, even though I am behind on the project. But given all the challenges I had this quarter, I think I deserve to count it as a success. I mostly kept up, after all. 🙂

– Schedule ongoing promotions for my books

DONE! This is probably one of my biggest successes for the quarter. And the sales of my books are picking up dramatically as a result.

– Publish Almost All the Way Home From the Stars to Createspace

DONE! My collection with Jay Lake is now also available in hard copy. 🙂

– Publish Oregon Elsewise to Createspace

DONE! Another big project off my to-do list. 🙂

Oregon Elsewise

– Submit 5 short stories to traditional markets

Nope. Must get back into the habit of submitting short fiction regularly again. I bombed out on all the rest of my to-do list as well (List books with Babelcube & Noisetrade; Publish “Starting Out as an Indie Author” as ebook; Publish “The Shadow Artist” as ebook; Put together collection of my writing articles with Jay Lake; Put together collection of fantasy stories with Jay).

Well, there’s always the next round. 🙂

Book covers and an enchanted hero for #WIPpet Wednesday

I missed last week again, sorry. I was finalizing the paperback version of my latest collection of short stories, Oregon Elsewise, containing previously published works set in the state where I grew up — and that in many ways still feels like home. While I was at it, I decided to also finally put together the new paperback version of Almost All the Way Home From the Stars, the collection of published science fiction stories I wrote with Jay Lake. The original paperback version was done by Draft2Digital, and I was never completely happy with it, so doing it myself has long been on my to-do list. At the same time, I tweaked the cover a bit, trying to make the font stand out more. Here’s what I have now:

Collection with Jay Lake, new cover

For the sake of comparison, here’s the old:

I was noticing that in thumbnail, the font on the old version was looking unfinished somehow, so I decided to mess with it. Happy to hear any feedback you might have!

With all the work on formatting interiors and creating / messing with covers, I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done in the last week or so. Last week, I managed 1600 new words on Shards of Glass. I also did some editing, and cut 2000 words from the manuscript — which means I ended up with a weekly total of -400 words! 🙂

For Wippet Wednesday, we will back up and return to the previous book, Facets of Glass, which is also still in draft mode, so I’m not cheating. I’m just waiting to finish this last book before I go back and start on the edits of the second.

Two weeks ago, we left Gaetano talking with the unconscious Minerva while her sister watches in amazement. This excerpts picks up exactly where that one left off. Today I am giving you 12 sentences for the day of the month, plus 1 to finish the paragraph:

“Who are you speaking to?” Anastasia asked.
“Your sister. She asked me if I am the one who enchanted her. But I have no magic.” Nor did the dowager princess. But she had access to a bevy of witches and alchemists to turn lead into gold and beautiful young women into living corpses.
“Do you have any idea who might have done this to my sister?” Anastasia asked.
“No,” he lied. He still had to stay on the good side of the dowager princess. And he couldn’t trust Anastasia to keep his suspicions to herself.
Anastasia clapped her hands to her cheeks. “Enchanted! Perhaps I can find a witch to lift the spell.”

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

“Tales of the Rose Knights” with Jay Lake sold to Daily Science Fiction

Good news on the submission front! A story series that I wrote with Jay Lake has sold to Daily Science Fiction. It comprises 11 stories, most of them flash (1000 words or less). 2 of the stories are a little over.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I was revising some collaborations with Jay before he died, but after his death I had to take a break. A few months ago, I was at the point where I could tackle our mutual projects again. Originally I had thought to publish these connected stories as an ebook, but short story collections tend to sell maybe a copy a month and garner reviews along the lines of “these are too short!”

So I decided to give it a shot through the traditional submission route first before putting together an ebook. 🙂

The conceit of the Rose Knights is that all of them are named after actual roses, and the colors of the roses play a role in the factions fighting against each other in the world of Hy Rugosa. One of the titular roses in the series is Eden Rose. Here an image from my garden:

Eden Rose

Villa Diodati 14 (and 13 too … )

VD14

A little over a week before we flew to the States to visit relatives, I got back from the most recent incarnation of the Villa Diodati workshop. VD14 was once again in southern Spain, but probably for the last time, since we are losing our venue, unfortunately. Ah well. We will find other cool places to meet, I am sure.

This workshop was one of the biggest we’ve had, with ten participants.

Group shot VD14
Front row: Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, Ruth Nestvold, Grayson Morris, Christian Walter, Jeremy Sim
Back row: Frances Silversmith, Bo Balder, Floris Kleinje, Jeff Spock, Stephen Gaskell

It was also one of the most reading intensive. We put a cap on submissions for critique at 10,000 words, and usually most participants play by the rules. This time, four out of ten submitted works that exceeded the 10,000 word limit, which meant a lot more reading and critiquing than usual. I think in future I will have to exert my dictatorial powers more effectively, and create truncated versions of the works submitted for critique that conform to the rules. 🙂

Critique session
Critique session

Despite all the reading and critiquing, we still had time for other exercises and discussions. Among other things, we had a long talk on marketing. I was encouraged to submit a novella I wrote with Jay Lake (and was revising when he died) to Analog, which is where it is now. I also got some ideas from the group mind as to where “Pool of Souls” would fit, the short story I brought to the workshop. Unfortunately, that is not yet out, since I haven’t had time to address the critiques I got at VD14.

We also did a wonderful brainstorming session around the pool, where a number of us tossed out ideas we had for input from the group mind, or described stories that were flailing and might need some outside input. Sylvia and I got some great ideas on where to go with a collaboration we’ve written.


Brainstorming around the pool

We even got a chance to play the Surreal Oracle game again!

And of course we ate, and ate well, like we always do at Villa Diodati workshops. 🙂

Eating well
Eating well

VD13

The autumn 2014 workshop took place in Picardy, France. When I got home, we had a bit of a family medical emergency, which was why I never got around to posting a report. I figured the report for VD14 would be a good opportunity to make up for that. 🙂

The fall workshop in France was much smaller than VD14, with only six attendants. Here in the group shot you see only five of us, since Sylvia Spruck Wrigley wasn’t feeling well when we took the pictures. At least her crocheted Cthulhu made it in (next to my knee):

Group shot VD13
Ruth Nestvold, Aliette de Bodard, Jeff Sock, Nancy Fulda, Grayson Morris

We did many of the same awesome things we usually do besides critiquing, such as brainstorming and market discussions. Jeff also gave a talk on creativity.

During the brainstorming, I got some excellent ideas on how to continue with the Glassmakers trilogy. Not only that, since Sylvia was crocheting her amazing Cthulhus while we did critiques, she promised me and Nancy our own personal monsters if we could finish the novels we were working on by the end of January.

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7598/16858900837_464e6e6aba.jpg
Critiquing and Cthulhu-making

Since things got very complicated at home for a while after I got back, it was an incredible incentive for me to return to writing and finish the first draft of Facets of Glass by January 31. Nancy finished her novel as well. After all, who doesn’t want their own cuddly monster?

I think we really should consider adding incentives for each other to our regular agenda of activities. An outside deadline can be an incredible motivator.

The Hijacked Hugo Awards, 2015: New Tales of Beset Manhood

Ignore the dinosaurs

Well, that at least was what I intended to do when I first found out what was behind the exceedingly odd list of Hugo nominations this year. What, no Asimov’s? No F&SF, Strange Horizons, Interzone, or any of the other big names besides Analog? And who in the blue blazes is this John C. Wright person, who has THREE nominations in the novella category, as well as one each in short story and novelette? I cannot think of a single heavy-hitter in SFF in my lifetime who has dominated the ballot that way. And how in the world is some unknown publisher by the name of Castalia House so prominent among the nominations? And PATRIARCHY HOUSE? Where in the world are we now? How can this possibly be the specfic world I know and love?

I haven’t been very active in the SFF community for a number of years, although it is still what I read and write. But aside from the Villa Diodati workshop for writers of specfic in Europe, which I founded almost a decade ago, I don’t often go to the places where writers in my genre hang out anymore, aside from a few intimate spots on the Internet. Before all this crap hit the fan, I hadn’t even heard of the poor Sad Puppies (not not to mention their more rabid counterparts, the Rabid Puppies), who feel so irked and threatened by ethnic diversity and literary SF that they started a campaign to free “their” genre from the yoke of what they call “SJWs” (Social Justice Warriors, a term I also only learned today) and lead it back into the “Golden Age” of SF.

The problem is, it’s my genre too. And I never liked the “Golden Age” of SF. In high school, I cut my teeth on The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, still two of my favorite books. Those books are all full of politics and gender issues and sexual diversity. The freedom to make up worlds like that was what I always loved about speculative fiction.

This new big uprising of the dinosaurs hit me out of the blue. And I tried to ignore it, I really did. But then I realized I had to add my 2c just so I could get all this crap out of my brain and get back to important stuff like writing and translating and preparing for the next trip.

Here a quote from the discussion thread over on the Passive Guy blog from “Kudzu Bob”, a supporter of the poor Sock, er Sad Puppies:

As for the SJWs, they think that racial, religious, and sexual diversity is a supreme good that somehow magically increases the sum total of human happiness, but is this really the case? As sci-fi fandom has grown more and more heterogeneous in nature, it also has become more and more divided against itself, at least to judge by recent developments. And if diversity makes people more miserable rather then less, then the SJWs are doomed to failure, no matter how noble their intentions.

Um, no. I don’t have any noble intentions. I don’t vote for what I think is best for world peace, I vote for what I like. Certain tropes bore me and make it impossible for me to read to the end — while for some readers it will be precisely those tropes that will make them clap their hands enthusiastically. There should be room for both of us, for all of us. I like diversity. I realize that there are many people out there who do not, but that does not mean they are liberating me from some onerous chore when they impose their uniformity on me. I don’t feel any misery in the online and face2face SF community I have, despite our national, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, and religious diversity. We get along just fine, thank you, despite our differences. Sometimes we even learn from each other.

I also like “literary” SF. I admit, I have a PhD in English Literature, (luckily the eggs that will now be thrown at me are only virtual) but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be entertained. For me, SF with a literary sensibility gives me the best of all worlds: great plots with beautiful language exploring meaningful themes. Not tough guys stomping out monsters or conquering new planets. Of course there is a place for that for people who want to read it, but how in the world did it become something that involved some poor sad sock puppies hijacking the Hugo ballot?

This all reminds me of a little kerfuffle in the SFF community 10 years ago which inspired an article I wrote with Jay Lake for IROSF, which is still online, although the zine has folded, “Tough Times for Beset Manhood: Or, Where Has Good Old Golden Age SF Gone?” The Sad Puppies movement is definitely (among others) a male thing. While the poor deprived male puppies put a handful of token women on their slate, the list is predominantly male authors. With the exception of one woman writer (whom I know and like), I can’t find a single woman who supports these poor puppies.

This is much bigger than the few flame wars on various discussion forums that inspired me and Jay 10 years ago, however. It has deprived a number of writers whose names were not on the sock puppies list of a chance to be nominated for a major award.

I feel like a sad puppy today too.


Clay Hackett (Flickr, Creative Commons)

A bunch of people who have said much more meaningful stuff than me on the issue:

Matthew David Surridge

Charlie Jane Anders

Chuck Wendig

John Scalzi

“More precious than gold” : an update and an excerpt

We may already be two weeks into the New Year, but this “Invocation for Beginnings” just showed up on a list I’m on, and I had to share it:

Since I’ve gotten over the head cold, the year has been pretty productive for me. Here’s hoping I can keep up the momentum! Some of the things I’ve gotten done since my last update:

Yseult, Part IV – made the cover, formatted the text, and published the final installment of Yseult, Part IV

– published a new installment of my “Starting out as an indie author” series, “Why “write the next book” isn’t enough; Or: What to do if your books aren’t selling” — a long one, coming in at 2,000 words to add to my future how-to book. 🙂

– edited Recontact, the novella I wrote with Jay Lake, and submitted it to a traditional market

– organized upcoming promotions for 2 of my books

– wrote another 1800 words of fiction

That puts me a bit behind on my weekly word count goals, but given the fact that I got some important stuff off my to-do list, I can deal with being 200 words behind. 🙂

On to WIPpet Wednesday! I have come to the conclusion that I no longer care about spoilers. I figure, most of the people who read my snippets will probably have forgotten them when and if they read the books anyway. So I am just going to continue to move forward with Facets of Glass and not worry about giving away anything from the first book. So if you haven’t read Island of Glass, want to, and don’t want to know too many details from the second book, I suggest skipping my WIPpets as long as I’m still posting from book 2. *g* Math today: I’m giving you 15 sentence for the new year, plus 1 to finish the scene:

Gaetano often wondered why people still used the phrase “more precious than gold” when alchemists could now produce gold at will — as long as they had lead, that is, or whatever other base metals they needed. He wasn’t an expert, not having any alchemists in the family, nor any access to them, since the royal families of Venice controlled all magic in the empire.
He turned the apple in his hands, slowly beginning to appreciate the artistry of it. It was mostly red, but on one side, the color faded to green in much the same way as a real apple. And when he discovered the elaborately designed wormhole, he laughed out loud.
“Be careful with it!” the dowager princess admonished, her voice suddenly sharp.
At her words, he instinctively lowered the apple, looking to her for instruction.
“Here is the box,” she said shortly, her expression no longer warm. And to his surprise, he discovered wrinkles in her aristocratically beautiful face that he hadn’t noticed before.
Only he was standing above her now.
She seemed to notice the discrepancy at the same time he did and rose, taking the glass apple from his hands and placing it in the gift box. After closing it, she handed it back to him. “I want you to give this into the hands of Minerva of Murano and no one else. And do not wear your red and gold House Foscari uniform. My majordomo will find you something neutral.”
He nodded. “As you will, Your Grace.”
“Thank you, Gaetano,” she said, smiling again. But this time, he noticed that it did not seem to reach her eyes, and he found himself wondering why he’d felt so attracted to her when he first entered her audience chamber.

Please feel free to let me know if you stumble anywhere in the passage or there is anything else you think might improve by being changed!

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Almost All the Way Home From the Stars #6 in Australia

In the middle of all the turmoil, I got a little consolation prize today:

That’s right, Almost All the Way Home From the Stars is #6 in Free Kindle Books in Australia. This is not a genre list, it’s free books overall. This is what it looks like at the time of this writing:

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Dystopian

I don’t generally sell much in Australia, so this is great news. With any luck, it will result in one of my books being more visible there for a while. I’ve had a couple of sales of my other books in Australia this week too. Since Amazon opened its AU store, I’ve sold a *total* of 5 books down under, so I can really use a little visibility. Cross your fingers for me. 🙂