Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Catalyst Chronicles Series

 After discussing all the projects I had in various stages of writing, revising, or submitting, I couldn't help thinking of one project that's been on the back burner for a long time: the science fiction Catalyst Chronicles series. Currently published are the novella Lyon's Legacy, a short story called "The Mommy Clone," the novel Twinned Universes, and a pair of short stories published under the title "Seasonal Stories from the Sagan.

I had planned to write another short story set after Twinned Universes. This short story is tentatively titled "The Unnumbered World" and would focus on a secondary character adapting to events. Coming after that story would be a novel I tentatively call Catalyst in the Crucible, which would be set a few years after "The Unnumbered World" and be a followup to Twinned Universes. 

Although I have partial drafts of both stories, I've been stuck on how to complete them (or how to get through the middle to reach the end). Also, although Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes involved time travel, Catalyst in the Crucible won't. A traditional publisher would have a fit if I switched subgenres in the middle of a series, and I'm not sure how marketing this series myself would work. I'd have to hope my readers like the characters as much as I do.

It would be a shame to abandon the Catalyst Chronicles characters completely, but it is difficult juggling multiple projects. Fortunately, I finished the rough draft of a short story last week, and I have to submit to a contest by April 12th. Once that's done, I want to focus on my Season Avatars short story collection and my new cozy mystery series for a while. However, if I get stuck on them, it might be time to revisit some older projects. Ultimately, I need to focus on spending more time on my current and past project before chasing new ones.

Do you have stories that you don't want to trunk but you don't know how to finish? Feel free to discuss them in the comments.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Project Updates

It's been a while since I discussed the projects I'm working on, so I thought I'd give a brief status update on them today. At the very least, it'll make me more accountable to myself. So here's a list of my various writing projects in no particular order:

Cli-Fi (Climate Fiction) Story: I mentioned previously that I'm working on a story for a cli-fi contest. The title is currently "The Trees of Carson Tower," but I may change it. I'm still working on the first draft, as I took a wrong turn with the plot and got stuck. I think I've figured out how to proceed and hope I can finish the draft by the end of the week--or month, at latest. The deadline for submitting the story is April 12th. If I don't make that deadline, or if the story is rejected, I may save it for a cli-fi collection of my own. This story is my top priority at the moment.

Jenna's Journey: This story is intended for a short story collection that will be set after Summon The Seasons and act as a bridge between my Season Avatars series and a spin-off series. This particular story will follow Jenna as she travels to the heart of the Fip Empire. The Season Avatars normally don't leave their country, so there will be plenty of opportunities for world-building and character development, as well as foreshadowing the short story Rob's Choice. I'm still partway through the first draft. This is the story I work on when I'm stuck with my other projects.

Murder at Magic Lake: I finally managed to finish the second draft; revising this story took longer than writing it, which isn't surprising since cozy mysteries are a new genre for me. I'm going to read through it again and decide if I'm ready for beta readers. I can draft a blurb when I pitch this story on a Facebook group for cozy mystery readers and writers. This story is my second priority.

Restaurants and Revenge: This is the second book in my cozy mystery series. I'm around halfway through the first draft, but I've already had to go back and revise it as I get new ideas. This story has been put on hold for a while, but once I finish the cli-fi story, I plan to return to it.

Silents for Swans: This is a pandemic version of a fairy tale I wrote last summer. I've submitted it to three different markets without success. There's a potential market for this story, but the submission period won't open until November. I'm holding the story for now, but if I find a market that sounds like a good fit before November, I'll send it there.

Thoth's Wager: This is a short story written for a themed anthology, but it was rejected. I revised it, but I need to send it to different markets. The subgenre is godpunk, so I need to find a place that's looking for that genre.

What are you working on? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Mid-Month Mysteries: Irish Cozies

Whether or not you're Irish (I used to think I was, but DNA tests show I'm not), March is a good month to focus on mysteries set in Ireland. I've found two sites that already have lists of Irish cozies (check here and here), so today I'll discuss two Irish series that I've personally read.

Alexia Gordon has created a compelling character in Gethsemane Brown, an African-American classical musician who get stranded in an Irish village. Fortunately, she's asked to house-sit a cottage, and she soon develops a friendship with the ghost of the former owner. Gethsemane is a strong-minded woman who's more than a match for the most complicated mystery. The first book in this series, Murder in G Major, won several awards. There are five total books in this series, with the last one, Execution in E, being published last year. Hopefully we'll get another book in this series soon.

The Vampire Book Club also features an American woman, Quinn Calahan, living in a cozy Irish village. This series by best-selling author Nancy Warren has ties to her Vampire Knitting Club series (characters from the latter series appeared in the first book of the former.) Quinn is a middle-aged witch who's been banished to Ireland for misusing her magic. I enjoy her interactions with the local witches, but I can't provide too many details for fear of spoilers. There are currently three books in this series, and I'm looking forward to more.

What's your favorite book set in Ireland? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Seasons and Reading/Writing

After a long, wintry, February, we're finally getting a stretch of decent weather in the Chicago suburbs. It's uplifting to be able to go for a walk in the neighborhood. Of course, by the time this blog post goes live, we'll return to more seasonable weather. Still, the equinox is coming soon, and by the end of April or early May we'll have true spring. 

I've never been much of an outdoors person, but when the weather is nice, I do enjoy spending more time outside. The tradeoff is I spend less time reading and writing. (I usually start off my annual reading challenge several books ahead, only to fall behind in summer and catch up in the fall and winter.) Here are a few things I try to do to keep indoor and outdoor activities in balance:

1. Go out early. During the summer, I get my exercise by walking in a nearby park. I usually go shortly after I get up. There are fewer people around, so it's easier to enjoy nature. It's also not hot, and I don't have to worry about sun exposure. (When the weather is bad, I normally exercise on a treadmill and read.)

2. Sit outside with a book. 

3. If we're traveling somewhere, my husband normally does most of the driving, so I use the time to read, crochet, or even write.

Are you feeling spring fever too? Do you feel that you do less reading or writing during the warm months? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

IWSG: Reading Genres

Welcome to March! Let's hope this month isn't quite as mad as last year. The first post of the month is always for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Learn more about them on their website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

Our hosts this month are Sarah--The Faux Fountain Pen, Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Victoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose.

Here's our question for this month: Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

 The main genres I write are fantasy, cozy mystery, and science fiction. Those are also the genres I prefer to read. Occasionally I'll venture out of those genres into classics, an historical novel, or a popular contemporary work. About twenty to twenty-five percent of my reading is nonfiction; I tend to read science, history, research topics for writing (for example, I'm currently reading Rewilding North America for a climate-fiction short story I'm working on), or anything I want to learn more about. I read more widely when I was younger, but these days I'm more focused on the genres I enjoy. As for what draws me to these genres, I would say that science fiction and fantasy help me escape my everyday life. I still crave stories that evoke a sense of wonder, but the older and more experienced/cynical one gets, the harder it is to find wonder. Cozy mysteries not only offer a way to right a wrong and find justice, but, as the name implies, they can offer a cozy atmosphere and possibly an ensemble of characters that feel like friends.

What types of books do you like to read, and why? Feel free to share in the comments.

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