Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Solarpunk Story Sale!

I announced this last week on Facebook, but now it's time (at long last!) to share my news with the whole Internet. I've sold another short story to an anthology. The story is called "A Shawl for Janice," and it will appear in the solarpunk Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters anthology. (If you're not familiar with the solarpunk genre, it's an optimistic take on the future, with the premise that we will avert (or simply survive) climate change through community, renewable energy, and technology. My particular short story is set during a Christmas bird count. The anthology will be published on January 7th, 2020. I'll share more updates as they become available. The next one will probably be in October. In the meantime, here's the publisher's announcement and the Table of Contents.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Semi-Annual Reading Update 2019

Normally I report on my reading progress twice a year, at the beginning of July and January. I didn't want to include it with the IWSG post, so I postponed it a week. I'm actually writing this post on Sunday, July 7th (Ringo's birthday), so the numbers may change slightly by the time this post goes live.

So far, I've read 76 books in 2019, which means I'm on track to make my goal of 150 books. (If Goodreads lists it as a separate book, I include it, from short stories to three-book bundles.) Here's the breakdown by genre:

Fantasy: 34
Science Fiction: 18
Non-Fiction: 11
Other (mostly mysteries and historical novels): 13

Some of the percentages are slightly skewed from my normal pattern. About 20-25% of the books I read each year are non-fiction, but I'm only at 14% this time. The other category is higher than it normally is. We'll see if they balance out by the end of the year.

Here are some of the standout books for me:

Code Girls
How Long 'til Black Future Month?
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The Girls Who Went Away
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Storm of Locusts
Here and Now and Then

Feel free to share some of your favorite reads in the comments.

I haven't done much to promote the blog lately or even respond to comments. That's not going to change this week, since my family and I will be on vacation. Hopefully after I get back and finish some other projects, I can do more to promote this blog and my books. See you then!

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

IWSG: Getting Personal with My Characters

It's hard to believe 2019 is halfway over, isn't it? Normally I post in early July about the books I've read so far for the year, but I'll wait until next week for that discussion. I should have some other writing news later this month. For now, it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. You can learn more about the group on their website and Facebook page.

Our hosts this month are Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre, Jennifer Lane, M.J. Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen at the Cynical Sailor.

This month, we've been asked the following question: What personal traits have you written into your characters?

I believe that I put a bit of myself into all of my characters, but I admit some characters feel more like me than others. Joanna from Lyon's Legacy shares my love of science and sense of humor. Gwen from the Season Avatars series (in particular, Scattered Seasons) is also a rather practical and intelligent woman.

Which of your characters is most like you, and in what ways? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Authors to Support

For the last week of Pride Month, here are a few LGBTQIA authors to support. I know some of them; others I've met at conventions. Many of these were mentioned a few years ago in my SF Authors A-Z series. To keep this short, I'm just going to post Amazon links. (Sorry, Alex; I know you like Apple! I'm not sure if some of the indie authors have wide distribution.)

Aviva Rothschild--the author of two Beatle fanfiction novels: With Strings Attached and The Keys Stand Alone.

Lauren Jankowski--author of The Shape Shifter Chronicles.

Mary Anne Mohanraj--Her work ranges from science fiction to erotica to short story collections. She also ran a Kickstarter for a Sri Lankan recipe book, but that's not yet published.

Catherine Lundoff--I'm still waiting for a sequel to her book Silver Moon, but she also has three short story collections available.

April Daniels--I enjoyed her duology about a transgender teen superheroine.

Ellen Kushner--Best known for her stories of Riverside.

Delia Sherman--Ellen's wife and author of Through a Brazen Mirror and several other books.

Nicola Griffith and Kelly Eskridge are another married pair of authors.

Lyda Morehouse writes award-winning science fiction.

I haven't read Laurie J. Mark's Elemental Logic series, but I hear it's very good.

I'm sure there are many more authors I could list, but I have to end my post here. Are there more LBGTQIA authors you would recommend? If so, please share in the comments.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

LBGTQIA Characters in My Writing

As an author, I believe a diverse group of characters, if written with empathy and knowledge, can enrich a story. Diverse characters bring different perspectives, goals, and values to the story, leading to conflict and/or collaboration. That said, it's important when writing someone who's different from you to treat them as a three-dimensional human being, not a stereotype or a trope to serve the main characters. Writing the Other is a lifelong project. I've learned a lot about creating characters with a different gender or sexual orientation than mine.

In both of my main series (Catalyst Chronicles and The Season Avatars) there are secondary characters whom I originally envisioned as straight (even giving them partners) but later revealed to me that they have crushes on the same-sex main character. (I don't want to name them in case of spoilers, but one character has lesbian moms and the other a gay son. Refer to Twinned Universes and Chaos Season.) I have a couple of different ways to give the bisexual characters a Happily Ever After; I just have to get the stories written.

The religion of Challen in The Season Avatars gives me plenty of opportunities to explore gender. The people of Challen reincarnate after each life, and they often switch genders between lives. (The exception is the Fall Avatar, who is always female.) Most Challens don't remember their past lives, but they have a slightly higher chance of not being heterosexual or cisgender than people from other countries in their world. Fortunately, the Four Gods and Goddesses of Challen provide a socially acceptable alternative to traditional marriage. People who don't want to marry someone of the opposite sex and raise a family can pledge themselves to either the God of Summer or the Goddess of Fall. (My short story "Rob's Choice" is about a pledging.) These people are commonly known as Summersmen or Fallswomen. Some of them may devote themselves to a business or creative calling, but many of them become layservants for the Four. They may be healers, archivists, assistants to the Season Avatars, or other types of respectable roles. I expect to include more of these characters in the still-unnamed spinoff series.

I have future stories planned that include genderfluid and transgender characters. These types of characters require more research on my part to portray them accurately and compassionately, even though they're not in our world.

I plan to finish off Pride Month by highlighting some LBGTQIA authors I know. Come back next week for some good recommendations!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Pride Month Reading

 With this being LGBTQIA Pride Month, I thought it would be a good time to discuss some of the books I've read that feature gay, lesbian, or other nonheteronormative characters. I'll also talk about my own characters in other posts this month.

The first book I read that featured a lesbian character was Gail Baudino's Gossamer Axe, which is about a harper's quest to free her lover from the fairy realm with her music. It was originally published in 1990 (which seems very long ago now, doesn't it?), and it made quite a sympathetic impression on me at the time. I still have my paperback, though I haven't reread it.

Another series I read long ago that includes gay/lesbian characters is the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey, particularly the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy (Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, and Magic's Price.) The characters in these books are a bit stereotypical and ultimately suffer tragic fates. I haven't reread these in a long time, but they would probably feel more dated to me than Gossamer Axe.

There's no way I can list all the other books I've read that include gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender characters. There are some that emphasize romance/sex, while some of the more recent books I've read (such as The Raven Tower and Famous Men Who Never Lived) treat being transgender or lesbian as an almost ordinary way to describe a character. Gail Carriger's books feature a diverse cast. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner also deserves mention, as does Dreadnought and Sovereign

Do you have any favorite books featuring gay/lesbian/bi/transgender/other characters? How do you feel their sexual orientation is handled? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

IWSG: My Favorite Genre

This is my son's last day of school, so in some ways it's the unofficial start of summer for us. Just as the first Wednesday of June is the last day of school, it's also one of the days for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. You can learn more about them on their website, Facebook page, or Twitter. June's co-hosts are Diane Burton, Kim Lajevardi, Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster, Jennifer Hawes, and Madeline Mora-Summonte.

Our question for June is simple and straightforward: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

I analyze the books I've read twice a year, and each time I've done so, fantasy has always come out on top. (After that, it's usually science fiction, mystery, classic literature, and perhaps a couple of mainstream fiction books.) It's probably no surprise that fantasy is also my favorite genre to write. It's flexible; I've used it in many different settings, such as Shakespeare plays, Greek myths, modern-day Madison, and a made-up world similar to Victorian England. It allows me to make up my own worlds and run them the way I want. And, of course, magic is simply fun, and it can inspire wonder in a way most other genres can't.

What's your favorite genre to write? Feel free to share in the comments, or if you're also discussing this question for the IWSG, you can also post a link to your blog.

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