25 April, 2022

Watch this space

 In anticipation of events on the Bird Site, I will be (finally) getting a newsletter going, and attempt (valiantly) to be more regular about blog updates. LOOK! There on the right! You can sign up! 

I promise to produce actual useful content when I am not staring down a day of student conferences, editor revisions on Windscar, and galleys for the reissue of Enemy and Outlaw.

In the meantime, proof of concept: here I am, with Nous, having ventured out to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire for the first time in two years. 

two people in Renaissance festival garb smirking at the camera



30 March, 2022

And so it is finished

Five weeks of Inconceivable MKAL, in pictures. Finished on time and on schedule, and just in time, because I'm expecting editorial notes on Windscar Very Soon Now(tm). I will be fabulously dressed while I edit, once The Patchwork Terror finishes his promenade.


A triangle of knitting in four colors and four patternsA 15' wide strip knitting in four colors and four patterns A 15' wide strip knitting in four colors and four patterns


a close-up of several stitch patterns
a black and white cat walks along a large, long knit wrap stretched across a floor






16 March, 2022

Introducing... NIGHTWATCH OVER WINDSCAR

 Coming October 2022, NIGHTWATCH OVER WINDSCAR

Please join me in admiring this cover: 

a book cover showing tangled machinery limned in blue, with red seeping through the cracks like blood. Titled Nightwatch over Windscar.


...in which Iari, Gaer, and Corso investigate mysterious ruins in Windscar province. They're looking for answers. They find some. And more questions. 

And monsters, hiding in the dark.

Preorders are available from all the usual places! 



16 February, 2022

Inconceivable!

I am a knitter, but I am a self-taught solitary who has never participated in a stitch-n-bitch or any other social knitting. I am a member of ravelry.com because that's where you find all the cool patterns, but I haven't updated a project there since The Early Days of Knitting(tm), when it was still a miracle to me that two sticks and some string could make things that were useful and beautiful, and also when I had more time to update my projects pages.

ANYWAY. I am an asocial knitter. I knew that there were things called Knit-Alongs, KALs, which sounded a lot like socializing to me, and also knitting on a schedule and usually not a project I was all that interested in. I mean, how many shawls do I need, really? I'm more of a sock and sweater girl, with a side of cowls and rugs for the handspun stuff. And then there's the subset of KAL, the mystery KAL (MKAL), in which the pattern is bought, sight unseen, and doled out with clues over the course of weeks.

I hadn't exactly sworn that I wouldn't do such a thing, but I reckoned it highly unlikely. 

And then one day, while prowling Ravelry's pattern library for something--I spotted As You Wish: An Inconceivable MKAL. My mind leapt immediately--because I am a GenX child of the 80s--to The Princess Bride. Surely, I thought, this cannot be a MKAL themed on the Princess Bride! Why, that would be... 

four hanks of yarn, top to bottom: bright teal, cerulean blue, light grey multi-color speckles, and a deep, vibrant violet
No, not "inconceivable," but so irresistibly cool a notion that I clicked on the link, and then the next thing you know, I'm looking at (and pricing, yikes) yarn and harrassing Nous for opinions about various colorways. I posted on Facebook (a semi-serious "talk me out of this idea, it's kinda A Lot, right?"), which garnered a lot more enthusiasm than I had been expecting from both knitters and non-knitters. I even took the mad step of joining the project message boards (though I want it known I have not actually posted a voidspit thing yet). 

To the surprise of no one, I bought the pattern and got a kit from Frabjous Fibers and Wonderland Yarns.  The name of the colorway is "Battle of Wits," which I chose partly for the the purple and the speckled hank and partly for the name. The first clue drops Feb. 22, and I hope by then to have cleared at least one of my outstanding projects off the needles, because I'm gonna be on a schedule, people. 

Expect to see updates. 


30 December, 2021

Good DAY to you, 2021. I said--GOOD DAY!

Right, so--the year began with an insurrection and it's ending with Omicron, but in between there was a lot of writing--and teaching; I have a day job, and will for the foreseeable future--but I'm here to talk about the writing. I don't usually; there are writers out there who do, and do it well, and I usually figure I don't have too much to say that they haven't already. Also, the day job is teaching writing, so I do a lot of talking about the writing process, just not my own. But really, truth: I think "I can write about writing here on this blog, or I can, you know, go write." And I usually go write. 

Not that this blog isn't writing, but--oh, you know what I mean.

Anyway. My writing. My fiction. And 2021. 

I had a book come out: NIGHTWATCH ON THE HINTERLANDS, in October. It's a good book. I enjoyed the hell out of writing it. It's related to the RORY THORNE books--same multiverse, same arithmancy--but a different cast and a very different tone. 

Anyway. 2020 was a hard year for most of us, publishing and publishers included, and though NIGHTWATCH made its pub date on time, there were some bumps along the road. 

While we navigated those bumps, I drafted a set of proposals and accompanying sample chapters for what I thought would be the next set of books I'd be writing. Then the bumps became pits and mountains. The two books meant to follow NIGHTWATCH became one proposed sequel, and the third book was abandoned. (Not because it sucks or it got rejected--it never got submitted--but because I don't really want to write it anymore. I have other ideas that are more interesting.)

And here's where I start talking process

I don't outline. I don't plot. I get a couple characters with distinct personalities, I present them with a problem, a situation, and I set them loose to solve it. I have ideas, but no set path forward, no sequence of events that must happen. This is how I run my D&D campaigns, and this is how I write my novels. Character-directed. If I get stuck--I have this brain full of plot devices up there, so many tools in the box--and one of those will work. A misdirection. An explosion! Something unexpected. Whatever. 

Now, NIGHTWATCH is already a little unusual; I actually had a plot in mind. It's a murder mystery, see, among other things. The basic structure was already there, even if the details weren't. I even had signpost events along the way--this encounter, this discovery--because in a murder mystery, you need those.

So. 2021. With the sequel to NIGHTWATCH (let's call it WINDSCAR), I started with not one, but two synopses already written. Book two was meant to be more SF-horror, claustrophobic and harrowing. Book three was going to be the more epic battley one. And I had to condense  these into one synopsis, which I did. Which looked good, it made sense, and the publisher bought it. Huzzah! 

Now I just had to write it. And here is where I got cocky: this time, I had a synopsis before the zero draft. I had a map. A plan. I thought it would be easy. Write what's in the synopsis. It's right fucking there

So I did. I had a brutal drafting schedule. I had to write this whole book over the summer, June-September, because I wanted the zero draft done before fall quarter started so I could revise before sending the first real draft to Lisa. 

Fortunately no one had any travel plans this summer, and I am a natural workaholic. (It's my coping mechanism--when the world is a hot mess of shit and trashfires, and I can control almost none of it--I control what I can, and that's work. Anyway.)

I drafted. And drafted. And it was like breaking bones, that drafting, but I hit the marks on the synopsis and I even finished the zero draft of WINDSCAR early, beginning of August. I took a week off, but I already knew it was a hot mess. It felt forced, it felt contrived, it was too compressed and the pacing was crap--

Then I figured out why.

First, the synopsis that had looked good on paper was too much for any one book, unless I wanted to write 250K, which I did not. Which I could not, if I wanted to hit the deadlines. (It's due to my editor March 1, pub date October. It's already tight.)

Second, and more importantly: I'd been hitting my synopsis marks, but I hadn't given the characters any reasons to hit those marks with me. Their motivation was underdetermined, and even more underwritten. I typically draft as if I am experiencing the action along with the characters--what does X think? How is she feeling? What makes sense for her to do now? I think she should go--nope, no, she wants to go here instead  For WINDSCAR, I wrote more like I was a director. Go here! Go there! Do a thing! Feel this way! And it wasn't working. 

So there, now at mid-August, I was looking at 120K and throwing about 50, 60, maybe 70K away and rewriting the back half to two-thirds, and the summer was more than halfway over.

So...I did. I revised. I rewrote. Partway through that, my word processor crashed. As in stopped working. As in erase and reinstall. I decided I could lose a day (or more, if the reinstall failed for some reason) or I could just... use a different word processor, the one built into my OS. So I did that, and I kept to my schedule.

I finished draft 0.2 in September, just before school began. Essentially I NANOWRIMO'ed twice. The second draft was better, I could feel that, but it was also not quite done. 

But I was. 

I revised one more time, so that Lisa didn't have to look at my frankensteined horror of a draft. There was no time for my beta reader, so I sent it to Lisa in November, knowing it was missing an actual end, but also knowing I needed confirmation that the story held together enough to warrant an ending. And also knowing I needed a goddamned break from the thing, because at that point I was calling it That Fucking Book. 

I reinstalled the word processor. It went fine. I taught my classes. I baked, I knit, I cooked. I gamed--finished a long-running campaign I'd been DMing, made a new character for one that's starting in 2022. 

Lisa got WINDSCAR back to me in December, well ahead of our original schedule--which is great! Because I have about 15K more to write (she guesses 20K. I am in firm denial). I have spent the holiday break writing like it's summer all over again, although at least this time, I really am revising. And I would always, always rather revise than draft. 

So I guess the point of all this is... I don't write well to synopses. I am not likely to be a plotter. I suppose there could be a book someday where I am a plotter, but it's not my preferred headspace. 

I learned that I can write fucking fast when I have to. And when I am not trying to hit marks on a synopsis, I can write pretty well at that speed. I always underwrite, so the speed of production does not appear to affect that at all. I also learned that I hate to write that fast. It's not a long-term sustainable pace, even when there isn't a day job tugging my sleeve and demanding attention.

So I will start 2022 actually finishing WINDSCAR, writing that ending, and hopefully getting Lisa's eyes on it one more time before it's due. And after that...after that, I have nothing under contract to anyone. 

And I have an idea. I even have notes on how it starts. We'll see where it goes.

12 November, 2021

NIGHTWATCH-related links, plus jack o' lanterns

 Y'all, it is already in the 90s here this AM, in mid-November, which is not old-normal but may be new-normal and anyway, it's hot, which does not segue naturally into hey here are some interviews I did about NIGHTWATCH ON THE HINTERLANDS, but we post with the segues we have, not the segues we want. 

An Interview with Nerd Daily

An Interview with Paul Semel

I have turned in the NIGHTWATCH sequel (heretofore referred to as WINDSCAR) to my long-suffering agent, who will probably tell me it needs an ending because it kinda just stops, and...well, that is fair. But it just stops at 115K, so there can't be too much more. I hope. 

And I hope even more that November remembers it's the month of rain and chill, or at least grey skies. If this nonsense continues, I'm gonna start looking for sandworms.

And because I missed Halloween (well, I didn't miss it, but I missed posting), here are the Eason Collective jack o'lanterns of 2021. I am not sure why it took us so long to go full D&D, but I, for one, am not turning back. The beholder is Nous's creation. He does one seriously artistic thing every year, and it is his jack o'lantern. I favor simple shapes, but I am a sucker for dragons, so... dragon. Red, of course. 

Beholder jackolantern

dragon head jackolantern

19 October, 2021

Nightwatch on the Hinterlands is here!

Nightwatch on the Hinterlands is loose in the world.  You can acquire it in all the usual places, and you should, because Tinycat said so. Do you want to argue with Tinycat? 

(Spoiler: you do not. She is more obstinate than either of the kaiju boy-cats. She will wear you down.) 

=

As many times as this happens--and this is #6--a book release day is a rush. So much goes into producing a novel--I wrote it, yeah, but my amazing agent, Lisa Rodgers, and the incredible team at DAW, are the ones who make sure the story is dressed polished and ready to go outside. So thanks to all of them for getting the story to you. 

I had fun writing this one (which is not always the case), and I hope you enjoy reading it, too.