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Wishing everyone a happy Halloween! Nov. 1st, 2014 @ 01:28 am
To celebrate witches and pumpkins and the cracked-open door between the living and the dead, I would like to offer you my Halloween short story, "Misty and the Magic Pumpkin Knife" free through Nov. 3:

Misty Mankin hated Halloween. She hated ghosts and princesses and black and orange. Especially orange. She hated frozen pumpkin pie, the most common kind in Rolynka, Alaska. She hated witches and masks and what qualified as seasonal office parties near the Arctic Circle. She hated all the interruptions of her evening accompanied by screaming and giggling and variations from innocent to profane on the three words "trick or treat."
She particularly hated the pumpkin knife — and the fact that it contained the ghost of her mother...

Halloween story

If you don't have a copy yet, do please be my guest and grab one!

When I first came to Germany, many decades ago, there was no such thing as Halloween. All Hallows, the first of November, is a religious holiday here, and those with regular jobs get the day off. But the evening before All Hallows, the night when the door between the worlds of the living and the dead is open a bit wider than usual -- that seems to have it's roots in the Irish Celtic festival of Samhain. Immigrants brought Halloween to the US, where it eventually became the second biggest money-making holiday after Christmas.

Here in Germany, though, there isn't much left of the Celts who once dominated most of northern Europe. Halloween is an import on the part of clever marketing folks who wanted to sell costumes left over from Fasching -- otherwise known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. That is still the big dress up and get crazy party here in Germany, at least for adults. But in the last decade or so, Halloween has become a big event for the younger ones.

Halloween in Germany
My favorite witches

Island of Glass now available on Amazon! Oct. 28th, 2014 @ 07:15 pm
I'm happy to announce the publication of my YA novella, Island of Glass! Until the middle of November, it is still available for the introductory price of only 99c, after which it will go up to $2.99.

Island of Glass

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.

When Chiara's uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge's Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything — and everyone — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.

Set in an alternate historical Venice with alchemists, witches and magic, the story uses familiar motifs from the beloved fairy tale "Cinderella" to tell a tale with a very different message.

Available on Amazon.

Island of Glass almost ready to publish: map and description Jun. 11th, 2014 @ 04:24 pm
I have once again switched from creative, "new words" mode to editing and formatting mode. But I think once I have Island of Glass published, my brain will be out of mourning enough that I can I can get back to creating new words on a fairly regular basis. On Saturday, I woke up dreaming about the story I want to write in the Villa Diodati shared world that I mentioned here. That inspired me to call up the file, and I added nearly 500 words to my tale.

Other than that, this week I've been beta reading and putting together the glossary, author notes and other back matter for Island of Glass. All of that did actually add up to 2200 new words -- just not fiction. Still, together that gives me 2700 words for the week, much better than I expected.

I also made a map for Island of Glass. As a basis, I used Ignazio Danti's 16th century map, pretty close to the era in which my story is set:

Venice map for Island of Glass</a>

I also write a description for the book. I'd love feedback on this as well:

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.

When Chiara's uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge's Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the ruling prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything — and everyone — she knows and loves to save her dream.

So, what do you all think?

Reblogged from here.
Current Mood: busybusy

RIP Jay Lake Jun. 2nd, 2014 @ 01:03 pm
For some reason, I never quite believed that this moment would come, that I would be writing this farewell. Jay was such a big guy, with a big heart and a big laugh and energy to burn. I couldn't believe that cancer would win out over all that, kept hoping against hope that Jay's huge spirit would triumph. No such luck. Jay was crazy, extravagant, generous, a force of nature. When he entered a room, he took it over; it was his, he commanded it, and whether you liked him or not, you sure as h*ll noticed him. He was as garish and loud as the signature Hawaiian shirts he wore.

Jae Brim, Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold

But he was a lot more than that. He was a writer who was in love with words. None of that nonsense about the words disappearing, unobtrusive, behind plot and character, just being a vehicle for the story! Words should be flashy and beautiful, they should show off and strut their stuff and make sure readers noticed that they were the true stars of the show. That's why, around the time I met Jay in 2001, he created the The Whirling Dingleberry Award — a motorized trophy for "wretched excess in stylistic elegance" for the Wordos writing workshop in my home town of Eugene, Oregon. Perhaps that's also one of the reasons we eventually started collaborating. I'm not as baroque a writer as Jay was, but I do love to just play with words for words sake on occasion. We certainly had that in common.

If memory serves, I first met Jay when I crashed a Wordos workshop in around 2001 to surprise my Clarion West classmate Eric Witchey. For sure, Jay, Eric and I kept showing up in the same crowd at World Horror Con 2001 in Seattle, and I recall a very bizarre round robin story-telling session. But where I really started to get to know him better was at a Strange Horizons workshop on the Oregon coast in 2002. (This was before he grew his hair long and started wearing his now-famous Hawaiian shirts.)

Strange Horizons Workshop 2002

Back then, I was going to cons in the US once or twice a year, and Jay and I tended to hang out when we were both in the same place at the same time.

Jay Lake, Ruth Nestvold, Jim Minz

Jay Lake, Ruth Nestvold

Jay Lake, Ruth Nestvold

I find it hard to believe that I will never see Jay again, that we will never get back to collaborating again, that he will never again waltz into a room and make it crazier, happier and brighter.

I miss you, buddy.

Here's the way I want to remember Jay -- laughing:

Jay Lake, Ruth Nestvold

I may not believe in that kind of stuff (and neither did Jay), but part of me really hopes his spirit is out there somewhere, noticing how many lives he touched. But if not, his spirit is still out there in the lovely stories and novels he left for the world.

Some more goodbyes from others here:

Charlie Jane Anders

Elizabeth Bear

Cory Doctorow

John Scalzi


Greg van Eekhout

Related posts:

Saying goodbye with a laugh: The Jay Lake Wake

An excerpt from Recontact with Jay Lake and the first attempt at a cover

Almost All the Way Home From the Stars

Reblogged from here.
Current Mood: crushedcrushed

Big translation project done! Apr. 27th, 2014 @ 09:52 pm
I finished the Big Translation Project today, woo hoo! Of course, it once again took longer than I expected: not only had I forgotten about the Acknowledgments and the Historical Note, I underestimated how much research I would have to do for the history, to find out what the common German terms were for various events, battles, and historical figures. It was fun, though, and I learned a lot I hadn't known before. Take the Massacre of Verden, for example -- fascinating stuff!

The translated book isn't FINISHED finished yet -- my husband still has to read through it for me. On this project, I was translating into German, and it's a lot tougher that way around than into your native language, believe me. (I'll post more about the project when we're closer to actually publishing it.)

But even just finishing the translation of the novel proper took a big load off. For the first time in months, I found myself daydreaming about scenes in A Wasted Land. I can hardly tell you how happy that makes me. Rather than mulling about the translation, my own story worlds are starting to repopulate my mind. :)

My only real creative writing progress this week was jotting down the ideas for those scenes, as well as writing in my notebook (paper), planning which writing projects to tackle next, now that I have a bit more time and a few more brain cells again. Obviously, I have to get back to A Wasted Land, since it has started bugging me. On the writing business front, I also need to finally get Island of Glass published -- and after Recontact has gone through the Villa Diodati workshop, that as well.

Those will be my main emphasis in coming weeks. Once I've had a bit more time to contemplate and organize, I will get more specific about upcoming writing and business goals. But for now -- relief!

Hope everyone had a great week. :)
Other entries
» An excerpt from an upcoming ebook with Jay Lake, and progress on this and that
Since last week, most of my progress has been on the translation. I have no new words to report, but I did get "An Airship for Elise" finished in time to submit to "Women Destroy Science Fiction" and I'm very happy about that. I also had the girls a couple of times in the last few days, and that eats into writing time a lot. But it's too fun to miss. Lately, Mira has been getting into learning how to write letters. Here's a work we produced together yesterday:

I wrote the "Oma" on the top line in the middle, and the "Mama" on the bottom line, the rest is our newly minted four-year-old. (Don't ask me what the third letter on the middle line is -- sometimes she just makes them up.)

Anyway, on to my own progress rather than that of my granddaughter. After "An Airship for Elise" was finished and sent off, I returned to the project I mentioned a while back with my writing buddy Jay Lake, who has terminal cancer. No one knows how much more time there will be to finish it so that he'll get a chance to see it published. So I hope my readers who want more of A Wasted Land will forgive me for not returning to that project just yet.

The book I'm putting together now consists of a short story and a novella that Jay and I wrote several years ago, both about first contact gone horrendously wrong. Together, they come to about 30,000 words, a good length for an ebook, I think. Several generations have passed between the two, but thematically they are both concerned with almost the same thing, first contact and second contact on one planet, and what it did to that planet's culture, so I think it will work. I'm considering calling the whole "Recontact" but I'm open to suggestions.

No intricate math today; I'm just giving you 19 sentences for the 19th of the month from the beginning of the story:

Sharan plunged through the woods with the blind panic of the murderously pursued. The trees on this world were both more brittle and spongier than she was used to, and she left a clear trail of bent branches and shattered twigs.
If Arnoldson took up the hunt, it wouldn't matter. He could track her with everything from sniffers to orbital reconnaissance. The bastard had all the power of the starship Hesperides and her bird-mad AI at his disposal.
Right now it was the locals here on the planet of Bonificium with their bronze-bladed spears and square shields who wanted her blood. She'd be just as dead from their sticks and stones as she would be from an orbital burn, but at least she had a better chance of escaping them.
She crested a low rise at a dead run only to lose her footing. The ground slipped away from her like a steep bank on a winter lake back home, and she was down. Mud? It was the dry season. Sharan grabbed for traction only to have a sandaled foot slam down painfully on her fingers.
A woman with deep brown eyes and miserably ragged hair stood over her, wielding a long crude knife. Sharan's captor laid a finger across her lips and faded backward into the leaves and shadows at the side of the trail.
The others were too damned close behind. She could hear the men shouting as they ran. Sharan scrabbled again for purchase in the muddy trough where she'd fallen, only to smack herself hard behind the ear on a rock.
There was nothing for it but to lay tight and cover her head with her hands.

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. :)

Reblogged from here.
» Announcing a new book, Chameleon in a Mirror
I finally managed to get another book published! I uploaded Chameleon in a Mirror to KDP on the weekend, and now it's live!

I want to thank all my beta readers and critique partners over the years for all their help. Feedback is so essential! I may not always take the advice I get, but I do address problems -- I might resolve them in a different way than is suggested in the critiques, though. :)

I also have a question for you all. The only "time travel" category on Amazon that I could find is in the romance genre. CIAM has a strong romance subplot, but it's not HEA, which romance readers expect. On the other hand, The Time Traveler's Wife is also listed in the same category, and that's not HEA either. Do you guys think it's a mistake for me to list it under romance? I'm a little afraid I will end up with negative reviews for not making Billie give up everything she's ever known for the sake of a married man. What do you guys think?

For now, the book is only available on Amazon. I'm still considering entering it in KDP Select for a while and trying a Countdown Deal with it to get more exposure before I publish it elsewhere. (But not free. I don't believe in free anymore, with the exception of permafree.) My sales on other platforms are pretty pathetic, though, so I wouldn't be giving much up, if anything. Amazon is where I make most of my money. If you are an ereader owner, where to you buy your ebooks?

Also, if anyone would like a review copy, please let me know!

This is like a stone off my chest, I have to admit. The book may sell squat, but it's a big item I can cross off my to-do list, and it makes me feel so much better. :)

Reblogged from here.
» Looking for feedback for the new cover for Facets of Glass
I have a new design from Littera Designs for the second book in the Glassmakers Trilogy, based on feedback I got here on my blog and elsewhere:

This is a for a series of YA novellas set in an alternate Baroque period with magic. Facets of Glass takes place in Prague and other settings in Bohemia (mostly equivalent with present-day Czech Republic).

So what do you guys think? If you haven't seen the original designs, they're here.
» Looking for feedback on a new YA historical fantasy cover, Facets of Glass
Yesterday, I got the initial cover designs for the second book of the Glassmakers trilogy back from my cover artist, the lovely and talented Rachel Cole of Littera Designs. For the first book in the series, I bought a beautiful pre-made cover:


Since I want the other books to have the same look and design, I recently hired Rachel to do covers for Facets of Glass and Shards of Glass, even though they are still only in the brainstorming phase. Here are her drafts for the second novella in the trilogy:

Just a little bit of background: the novellas are YA historical fantasy set in an alternate baroque era with magic, revolving around the fate of the Italian glassmaker Chiara. The first book is set in Murano, Venice and Lido, and the second book in Bohemia and its capital, Prague.

So without revealing anything about my own preferences, I want to ask my wonderful readers what they think. :)

Reblogged from here.
» Trying out the Pomodoro Technique, and an excerpt from Island of Glass
Today I've been applying the Pomodoro technique for the first time to try and become more disciplined about the tasks on my to-do list, and I'm quite pleased with the results so far. Once I've been working with it longer, I will write a post on it in more detail, assuming it continues to work for me. :)

Most of what I've been doing today, however, has been the Big Translation Project. I don't have much in the way of new material for A Wasted Land, although I've spent a lot of time on it in the last few days. But that was whipping the prologue and first chapter into shape for the next Villa Diodati workshop, coming up on October 18. (While writing this post, I just noticed that we are now mentioned in Wikipedia -- how cool is that? *g*) This will be the first workshop in over a year. I am the ostensible workshop dictator, but recently I've been putting all my energy into my "indie career" (whatever that is), and I've gotten very lax about my dictator duties, meaning nothing happened for a long time. But earlier this year I appointed a Vice Dictator, and now we finally have another workshop scheduled. It will be fun to babble, er exchange critiques with a bunch of crazy writers again!

Anyway, since I don't have any new scenes to offer for WIPpet Wednesday, I decided to offer the first 9 sentences (for Oct. 9) of Island of Glass -- also a WIP, after all, if a lot farther along than A Wasted Land:

Chiara wiped her hands on her apron and lifted the goblet up to the light, inspecting her work critically. The fluted glass flared out like a lily beginning to bloom, and as hard as she tried, she could find no discoloring or bubbles. She breathed a sigh of relief; a nearly perfect piece. It would command a high price among the nobles of Venice and beyond.

The work of the Murano glassmakers was in great demand throughout the world. Their craftsmanship was the basis of their riches -- and their curse. Out of fear they might reveal trade secrets, the laws of La Serenissima decreed that members of the glassmaking families of Murano were never to leave the islands of their lagoon. Murano glass was more precious than gold, after all. Anyone who knew the recipe of the alchemists could make gold, but only the artisans of Murano could make glass so fine, one could nearly touch one's fingers together on either side; cristallo without an imperfection or blemish, clear as the sky, with a sparkle to rival that of diamonds.

For WIPpet Wednesday, those who want to participate post an excerpt from a current WIP that somehow relates to the date. The rest of the snippets can be found here. Thanks to K. L. Schwengel for creating the meme!
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