Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Song for Spring

C2E2 is this weekend. I'm preparing a bunch of last-minute projects for the event, along with working on Dryads to Discover, working, taking care of family--my usual super-busy load. Rather than write a less-than-inspired post, I thought I'd share some music for the spring equinox, which is today:



What are your favorite spring-themed songs? Feel free to share them in the comments.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Two Fictional Beatles Books

As a Beatles fan, I always enjoy finding new books about them. And if these books are written or edited by my friends, I have to help them get by, right?

Randee Dawn, a writer friend from Broad Universe, is co-editing an anthology of alternate Beatles stories. It's called Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles. They're currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund it (see the link). The project is about two-thirds funded, with about two weeks left. Authors currently signed on to the anthology include Spider Robinson, David Gerrold, Cat Rambo, Gail Z. Martin, Jody Lynn Nye, and many more. If the project meets certain stretch goals, the editors will open up a few slots for submissions. I used to write Beatles fanfic, so it would be nice to get back to where I once belonged....

Actually, my Beatles fanfiction used to be on the e-zine Rooftop Sessions, which was run by my Beatles friend Susan Ryan. Unfortunately, I don't think the site is live any more, though you can learn more about it here and even access back issues. (You might even find very early versions of Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes, along with other stories of mine, through the Wayback Machine.) Susan's husband, Jim Ryan, was another contributor, and he recently collected some of his alternate Beatles stories in Alt Together Now: The Rooftop Sessions Fiction of James Ryan. It's been a long times since I've read them, but they include references to Live Aid, The Twilight Zone, Lord of the Rings, and Doctor Who. Sounds like a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Please support both books if you can. In the meantime, I need to see if I can find my old fanfics. It would be interesting to see if they're worth republishing. Hello Goodbye for now...

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

IWSG: Heroes and Villians

It's time for the monthly post for the Inscecure Writer's Support Group. You can learn more about them on their website, Facebook, or Twitter feed.

Our hosts for March are Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard.

Our question for the month is Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or villain (antagonist)? And why?

 All of my stories are written from the protagonist's perspective, though occasionally I'll include the antagonist's perspective. As a reader, I assume the first perspective I'm exposed to in a story is the protagonist's, so that's part of the reason why I use it more. Stories are typically meant to be a hero or heroine's journey, so it's helpful to follow their perspective to understand how the events in the story change them and help them develop. Antagonists generally don't develop at the same rate or fail to change; however, there are stories where the line between hero and villain can be quite thin. (Some stories make an antagonist from another story the hero, so you see actions from his/her perspective.) Another reason for not writing so much from the villain's perspective is to keep some of his/her actions secret so as not to spoil a twist. Sometimes I do want to show some of a villain's plans, but their scenes are far fewer and less extensive than the hero/ine's.

Whose perspective do you like to write from? Is there a perspective you prefer to read? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Short Story Sale--Specimen 1842

I've been sitting on this news for a couple of weeks, but now that the contract has been signed, I can officially make an announcement. I've sold another short story, this one to the Hidden Histories anthology to be published by Third Flatiron Publishing in April. My story is called "Specimen 1842," and it's about a genetics postdoc who finds some anomalies in an ancient specimen. More details will come as the time draws closer to the publication date.

The exciting thing about this sale is that this market pays at the current U.S./SFWA professional rate (which goes up from six cents/word to eight cents/word later this year), so this is my first professional sale. Hopefully there will be more in the future!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Science Fiction Past and Present

I'm currently reading an omnibus edition of Samuel R. Delany's work. He's one of the authors I always intended to read, so when this collection became available at a bargain price, I bought it. This particular edition includes the novels Babel-17, Nova, and Stars in My Pocket Like a Grain of Sand. I've already finished the first book and am in the middle of the second. It's slower going than normal because I'm not used to reading science fiction from the late 1960s. (I have read some of Andre Norton's work, though not recently. I did reread some of Anne McCaffery's Dragonriders of Pern books a couple of months ago. Although gender relations in those works seem dated now, I found her work easier to read.)

The impression I'm getting from what I've read so far from Delany's work is that the science fiction of the 1960s was more focused on adventure and plot than character development. The focus is more on exploring an idea (at least in Babel-17) than on making the work a united story. (Perhaps this is due to each section of Babel-17 being written in a different style. The reader has to adapt to each new section; perhaps I'm just a lazy reader in wanting the writing to be transparent and not get between me and the story.) The main character, a poet named Rydra Wong, felt a bit Mary-Sueish to me with her abilities and the way so many of the male characters were interested in her. Some aspects of the world-building didn't age well; I can't imagine any teenagers (or even kids) these days who would carry marbles with them.

I'll continue to work my way through Delany; hopefully I'll get more out of it as I become more accustomed to his style. It's useful to get out of your comfort zone occasionally and expose yourself to different styles of writing.

If you've read older classic science fiction, were there stories you struggled with? Is Delany's work typical of his era? Which works do you think held up well? Please let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Help Me Free Scattered Seasons!

I'm trying a new marketing approach with my Season Avatars series. For a long time, the prequel Seasons' Beginnings has been perma-free, and the rest of the books have been priced at $2.99. I'm going to reduce the price of Scattered Seasons to free, at least temporarily. Since Scattered Seasons is more closely linked to the rest of the books than the prequel, I hope that by getting more people to read it, they'll continue with the rest of the series. While it's a straightforward process to set a book price to free on Draft2Digital, Amazon has yet to price-match. I reported the lower price twice already, but I'd appreciate it if more people could help out. If you haven't reported a lower price to Amazon before, here are the steps:

1. Go to the Scattered Seasons page on Amazon.
2. Scroll down past the Product Details until you see "Would you like to tell us about a lower price?"
3. Click the hyperlink and select "Website."
4. Paste in the address of the Scattered Seasons page on another store. It can be Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple.
5. Enter 0.00 for price and shipping. You don't have to change the date.
6.  Click the "Submit feedback" button and close the pop-up window.

Thanks for your help, and please feel free to download a copy if you don't have it already.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

IWSG: Creative Callings

January's finally over, so that means we're one month closer to spring. I wouldn't mind fast-forwarding to March, but unfortunately that's not possible. At least we have the Insecure Writer's Support Group to keep us going during the rough weather. To learn more about the IWSG, check out their website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

This month's co-hosts are Raimey Gallant, Natalie Aguirre, CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace. For February, we've been asked the following question: Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

 If you've been following my blog for a while, you know one of my other creative outlets is crochet. I focus on amigurumi, figures of characters and animals. Most of the amigurumi I make is from other people's patterns of Star Wars characters, but I'm slowly branching out into other geeky characters and working on my own designs. Here are a few photos of my work. The top one mostly features Star Wars characters; the bottom one displays variations on a porg pattern.

Since getting into Star Wars costuming in 2015, I've also learned to sew. I still consider myself a beginner, but I've made Jawa costumes, lanyards, and a skirt (pictured below). Eventually I want to make my own Jedi robes, but I'm not sure if I want to make General Leia's blue dress from the end of The Force Awakens or have someone else make it for me.

I'm not sure if I should count Star Wars costuming separately from sewing. There's more to costuming than sewing; some people do leatherwork, assemble armor, or paint/embroider as well. Trooping (wearing the costume in public at scheduled events) might also be considered a separate creative endeavor, since it's acting. When I wear my Jawa costume, I try to avoid speaking English and use Jawaese words instead. I also goof around much more than I do as myself or as an Imperial Officer. To save space, I'm not going to post any Jawa pictures in this post, but you can find them in the archives.

Finally, cooking and baking are also creative outlets for me. Most of the time, I follow recipes, but I occasionally tweak them to suit my own taste or use ingredients I have on hand.

Juggling all these creative endeavors takes a lot of time, but it's good to be able to switch between them. It's quite fulfilling to sell an amigurumi to someone or wear something I made myself.

Do you have any creative hobbies? If so, feel free to share them in the comments.



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Alex Ulbrich, In Memoriam

My father passed away very early Tuesday morning. He was eighty-two. He's fourth from the left in this picture, which was taken about six years ago.

I will be taking the rest of January off from blogging. Although I was supposed to sell books at the Elgin Literary Festival next week, I cancelled that appearance, since my father's memorial service will be that day.

Take care, and I'll see you in February.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Short Story "Rob's Choice" Now Available!

I may have finished the Season Avatars series, but that doesn't mean I'm done with the characters or Challen. I've long planned to write a spin-off series set a generation after the Season Avatars series, mixing old characters and new, putting my own twist on a Victorian country moving into a modern age. I'm not quite ready to write that series yet--I'm still not sure what the series title should be, for one thing--but I'm starting to explore it with some short stories set in the interim.

"Rob's Choice" is the story of Robert, Jenna's son. I plan for him to be one of the protagonists of the first spinoff book, and this story sets up his situation. Maria Zannini of Book Cover Diva did a great job with the cover. Here's the blurb:

All his life, Rob has wanted to dedicate himself to the God of Summer. But when he tries to do so, he discovers the Four Gods and Goddesses of Challen have different plans for him. How can he serve Them and his own wishes at the same time? And what does his strange vision have to do with the barren country of Selath?

Although this story is meant to be a stand-alone, it does contain some spoilers for Summon the Seasons. Naturally, I recommend reading the other books in the Season Avatars series first. I currently have it listed as book 5.5 (6 on Amazon) in the series.

This short story is available for $0.99 at the major ebook retailers. You can access your favorite store through this universal book link.




Wednesday, January 02, 2019

IWSG: Questions and 2018 Reading Summary

Happy 2019! I wish you all the best in the coming year.

We're starting off the new year with The Insecure Writer's Support Group. You can learn more about this group on their website, Facebook, and Twitter. Our co-hosts this month are Patricia Lynne, Lisa Blue-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue.

Our question this month is about questions: What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

I don't get a lot of questions about my writing, but I always enjoy it when someone genuinely wants to know what I'm working on and is interested in the plot or character. On the other hand, it's annoying when someone asks me if I'm published in the sense of being traditionally published or having my books on display at Barnes and Noble. It can be complicated to explain why I chose (and continue to choose) to publish my novels myself.

I normally summarize the previous year's reading in my first post of the year. I managed to achieve my goal of 150 books. (Goodreads says I read 151, though I must have missed one in my genre count.) Here's the breakdown by genre:

Fantasy: 72
Science Fiction: 21
Other Fiction: 15
Non-Fiction: 42 (includes six books on writing, but doesn't include my Audible lecture series on writing great fiction)

According to Goodreads, I read over 41,000 pages. The shortest work was "The Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway at four pages; the longest was 1,182 pages for The Tale of Genji. (The average length was a more manageable 272 pages.) Some of the books I'd recommend include A Clash of Eagles, Eagle in Exile, and Witchmark.

Have any questions of your own or thoughts on your reading of 2018? Feel free to share them in the comments.

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