Thursday, July 14, 2016

MENDING FATE, the sequel to my first novel, CHANGING FATE, is finally being published on August 9, 2016. At the moment it is available for pre-order for Kindle and Kobo, but it will also be out in trade paperback and Nook formats. I have been working on this for years, and I am very happy to have it finished.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The MZB Literary Works Trust has starting publishing eBooks on Kobo (I attended their presentation at the RWA Conference in NYC last summer).

The most recent book is the anthology I edited last year: Sword and Sorceress 30.

I will start reading for Sword and Sorceress 31 as soon as tax season and my volunteer work for AARP Tax-Aide ends.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What I've been up to lately

It's been over a year since my last post, so I decided to do a short update:

I am currently preparing for National Novel Writing Month (November) and also for a trip to upstate New York for the World Fantasy Convention. I'm leaving in eight days, and I must remember to publish the paperback version of Sword and Sorceress 30 really early next Monday morning. I am thankful that the Kindle and Nook editions are available for pre-order, so that they will be published without any further effort on my part.

Michael Spence and I have our story "Dark Speech" in Sword and Sorceress 30; it's the eleventh in our "Treasures of Albion" series. December brings Mercedes Lackey's next Valdemar anthology, Crucible, which has my story "A Bellowing of Bullfinches." My work always seems to get published just in time for Christmas.

I don't have any conventions scheduled after World Fantasy Con. Given that the last year and a half has contained a trip to London, two trips to Salt Lake City, and three trips to New York, I think I'll be just as glad to stay home for a while. I'm a horrible traveler anyway.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Many Books

"The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh."
Ecclesiastes 12:11-12

 It turns out that even the Bible has something to say about publishing, though I'm not certain I agree that "much study is a weariness"--it's got to be easier than farming, herding, spinning, weaving, and most other tasks in an agrarian society. On the other hand, there's getting enough shelf space for all of your books, not to mention the work involved in taking them all down and dusting them occasionally.

It is certainly true, however, that "of making many books there is no end." That's why I'm going to stop writing blog entries for a while so I can spend more time writing fiction. I've just turned in one story, and I've got a few more I really want to write.

See you whenever,

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cliff-hanger Endings

When I finish a book I like to feel that the story is complete, or at least that the protagonist is done with this particular adventure.

I finished The Lost, by Sarah Beth Durst yesterday. The last words in the book, unfortunately, are followed immediately by:
* * * * *
Find out what Lauren discovers in
by Sarah Beth Durst
Coming soon!
Can't you give me at least the rest of the page to enjoy the ending of this book?

Then there is Blackveil (Book 4 of Green Rider), which ends with the heroine shut up alive and conscious inside a stone sarcophagus. This strikes me as an awkward place to end a book (she would have been better off hanging from a cliff). Three years later we finally get the next book, Mirror Sight, in which she is released from the sarcophagus.

I am also currently reading Susan Mallery's latest Fool's Gold book, Until We Touch. This is book 15 in the series and is a sequel to Before We Kiss, which even had the first couple of pages of this at the end as a teaser. But the Fool's Gold books, as well as Nalini Singh's Psy/Changling novels (I just got Shield of Winter, read it twice in the first week after I bought it, and am already looking forward to the next book), have given the characters a satisfactory ending, and the next book will focus on different characters in the same town or world. While both series certainly have a long-term story arc (Shield of Winter is book 13), what I want to know is what is going to happen next to the society.

In The Lost and Blackveil, the reader needs to know what happens next to the character. If the readers care about the character--and if they finished the book, they probably do--it's a bit tough to wait for years for her to get out of the trouble she's in. That's why I hate cliff-hanger endings.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Standards of Proof

In Heinlein's novel Stranger in a Strange Land, one of the characters, a Fair Witness, is asked what color a nearby house is painted. She replies, "It's white on this side," which is all she's willing to say, because she can't see the other sides. I believe this is the most extreme standard of proof I have ever encountered. There are different standards of proof for different things; the criminal "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard is stricter than the one for civil cases. There is yet another standard for genealogy, the Genealogical Proof Standard.

I remember learning to write a term paper in school: being required to keep a bibliography on 5 x 8 index cards; learning to cite my references, and learning the difference between primary and secondary sources. A secondary source in genealogy is often a book called something like The Upham Genealogy, or, to be accurate: Upham genealogy; the descendants of John Upham, of Massachusetts, who came from England in 1635, and lived in Weymouth and Malden. This book was published  in 1892, so it's not as if the author had first-hand knowledge of exactly what happened in Massachusetts in 1635.

Primary sources are things that were created for purposes other than genealogy: vital records (birth, marriage, death), census records, church records such as baptisms, cemetery records, and so forth. While these are certainly more reliable than genealogies that trace your ancestry to some illustrious historical person on the basis of a similar surname, they may not be entirely accurate either.

Using last week's example, Jesus would have been listed on the Roman census as the son of Joseph. I don't think anyone wanted to tell a Roman official that the baby was the son of God--or to answer the next obvious question (for a Roman): "which god?" But it does illustrate the weakness of a census: the data is only as good as what the person supplying it provides. During the 1960 census the enumerator did our street on a day when one of the families wasn't home. The man was desperate enough to question a group of us who were playing in the street. We played with the family's daughter, so we did know what the inside of the house looked like, but I don't remember what we said for occupation of head of household. When the census comes out in 2022, I'll have to look and see, but I bet we got it wrong. He was, among other things, one of the two inventors listed on a patent for "Method for improving the in-vivo strength of polyglycolic acid." I'm not sure I understand that now, and I certainly didn't when I was seven. All I could say then was what I knew, which was limited by what I could understand.

"What is truth?" was a good question 2000 years ago, and it's still a good one today.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Editing, Genealogy, and Bible Study

...or my work, my hobby, and my religion.

I have just received the last author contract for Sword and Sorceress 29. This year the postal service managed to lose two of them, so it took longer than usual. The next steps are to gather the author bios, decide what order to put the stories in, write all the introductions, assemble the book, and proofread, proofread, and proofread.

In my spare time, of which I have very little, I do genealogy, which is probably one of the world's most fascinating hobbies. I didn't know until recently that one of my Swedish great-great-grandmothers bore six illegitimate children, and I'm betting that my grandmother never knew that either. If you want to find out everything about your family that your family didn't want you to know, take up genealogy.

Editing and genealogy, however, are an unsettling foundation for reading the beginning of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Chapter 1 begins with something labelled "the genealogy of Jesus Christ." It starts with Abraham and ends with "Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born." Matthew spends the remainder of the chapter making it very clear that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus (he was married to Mary when Jesus was born, so he was presumably his legal father). In genealogy, this is called a non-paternal event. This does not necessarily imply illegitimacy; adoption is another example of a non-paternal event, as is marrying a widow and raising her children from the earlier marriage as your own.

Editing is changing the way that I read; I find that I notice typos, missing punctuation, and errors in grammar much more than I used to. My eyes used to skip right over what was on the page and just pick up the meaning, but I'm starting to fear those days are gone.

As I re-read Matthew, I just hope that God arranged for Jesus to look like Joseph. If he actually resembled the paintings that show him as blond, blue-eyed, fair-skinned, or all of the above, Mary would have had to make explanations to more than just her husband.