≡ Menu

All the Things

keys

Writing, as we have said, is both the best and the worst at the same time; it is, perhaps, the Schrodinger’s cat of the arts. You can slog away for a long, long time, and see no results. You can think oh my god this is the actual worst I’m doing all this work and it is not paying off in any way and this wasteland is never going to end. But then! You find yourself handling multiple releases and schedules and Kickstarters and you realize oh, look I did do all this work and now it’s about to be vomited into the world where it can be ignored hooray!

Wait.

Maybe not that last part. Here’s what’s on tap!

800px-krakenThe Kraken Sea

The Kraken Sea is coming from Apex Book Company this June (the 21st). The Kraken Sea tells the story of a strange boy named Jackson, who takes an orphan train across the country and into an entirely new life. This is a story set in my traveling circus world, yes! Hooray!

Right now, you can:

Stay tuned for more tentacletastic goodies — including a Goodreads giveaway coming in May.

If you are a reviewer and would like a review copy, please let me know!

I also have a new circus short story coming out this May or June. “Cloud Dweller” will be in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

No Shit There I Was

noshitNo Shit There I Was is a new anthology of improbable fiction from editor Rachael Acks and Alliteration Ink. We are currently fundraising through Kickstarter, and would love it if you can contribute.

My story, “Blush Response,” will appear alongside fellow authors Matt Dovey and Stewart Baker, William Ledbetter, James Beamon, Rachael K Jones, Wren Wallis, Heather Morris, Tyler Hayes, Darcie Little Badger, Jo Robson, Premee Mohamed, R. K. Duncan, Sarah Tchernev, Linda Tyler, Anne M. Gibson, Andrew Barton, Sunil Patel, David Jón Fuller, William Wood, Devyani Borade, Adrian Simmons, Frances Rowat, Lou J Berger, and Alanna McFall.

There are so many great rewards with this one. My personal crit on a story is already taken, but you can still grab story critiques and books and ebooks and tuckerizations, and more. I hope you will come by!

Folley & Mallory

300-honey_fullThe Honey Mummy is the newest release — and book three for those counting.You can grab your copy from Amazon, in paper or digital; it’s also part of Kindle Unlimited if you’d rather! (It’s also a matchbook — if you buy the print, you get the ebook free!)

If you’re into Pinterest, you can also come check the pinboard for the book!

So when’s book four?! The Clockwork Tomb will appear this October, and sees our intrepid adventurers exploring a tomb at long last! But it’s like no tomb they’ve ever seen, filled with peril and skeletons, and…was that a sphinx in the shadows up there? Riddles and more await!

And, I think you’re caught up.

Unless you’d like me to talk about the Minecraft 1.9 update. I could do that, but in short: it’s swell.

{ 1 comment }

Going Away

octomoon

who made this, it’s brilliant

This past month (or forty days, who’s counting), I’ve been away. I took a break from bullshit and annoyances, which meant going quiet in a couple realms where I usually participate, reading less on social media, and doing something altogether new in regard to the book of face.

Sometimes, I once wrote to a dear friend, you have to go away so you can come back.

Sometimes, you have to shut out the things the people who are annoying you, so you can listen to yourself, and remember what it was to trust that internal voice.

Sometimes, you have to change from a moon into an octopus.

I think I’m at the midway point of that process — not quite a moon, not quite an octopus, but I have these emerging tentacles and arms and they are beautiful and fascinating and I can’t wait to see what they do.

This break involved stepping back from a long-time friend, to figure out where I stood with that relationship now — twenty-six years on. I mean, doing the math was staggering enough. That’s a long time to know someone, to allow them into your life and all its mess. It’s not easy to walk away from something like that. But sometimes, you have to go away.

This break involved stopping the cycle of “likes” on Facebook, and instead posting comments, in order to see how that changed my feed — and it did. It pulled up posts from friends I hadn’t heard from in a while, and it was great to see what they were up to. I also broke off with a lot of people there, and stopped saying yes to friend requests from people I’ve never interacted with before — sure, we have mutual friends, but that doesn’t really tell me anything else, does it?

This break involved stepping back from a writing project that has its hooks in me, to figure out where I stood with the ideas and characters now. This is a project that will not quite let me go, and yet I have not moved forward with it. It’s time to shut the fuck up and either write this project or let it go, and move on to the next thing.

This break involved stepping back from my long-time writing group, a place where I no longer seem to fit as well as I once did. I’ve been there a long time, too — but can still remember how nervous I was when it came to time to apply. Did I have the chops? I did and still do, but my voice feels irrelevant there most days — I no longer feel like “fellow writer,” but rather “editor they want to sell to,” which changes the dynamic.

Not quite an octopus, not quite a moon.

This break was good and I’m ready to shut the fuck up and get on with things. I need to write a letter, and I need to write a book, and I have hopes that, despite this week’s twenty-four inches of snow (!), it’s going to be a beautiful spring.

I had to go away so that I could come back.

{ 0 comments }

Stargazer

stargazer

When I was a Girl Scout Brownie (I still have my beret and dress and vest, with all my patches and pins and accomplishments), we spent what felt like forever but was probably only a long weekend at a local mountain camp. I wish I remembered more clearly where.

I hated most of the activities, because the summer mountains were buggy and I wasn’t terribly enamored with the rest of my group and, you know, I was generally a cranky young lady who didn’t want to be in the sunshine, thanks.

But lo, one evening we got to ride horses, and got to ride them up this gently sloping trail to the top of a mountain, where, oh good gracious, telescopes had been set up. I thought they were having us on. Were we really going to get to hang out after dark and look at the sky? Oh yes. The cranky young lady who didn’t want to be in the sunshine exhaled and looked up.

It was the first time I saw Saturn.

divider

In high school, I took a class called Wilderness Survival, and it’s precisely what it sounds like. We learned about surviving the wilderness, this class being capped off by a long weekend actually spent…oh hey, surviving the wilderness.

We went into the very snowy Rocky Mountains with our instructor, our backpacks, and our cross country skis. We had to sky into the back-country, to reach our tiny camp. We spent a lot of time skiing, in fact, and there was one flat trail that was safe enough to take at night.

One night, I went out with two classmates, and in the middle of the trail, we simply stopped skiing and threw ourselves to the snowy ground. We looked up. We saw forever, I’m pretty sure. That far from city lights, forever goes on a very long way.

divider

It’s always been the stars for me and when I realized I wasn’t going to be an astronaut (this brain just never got the hang of the math — and let’s not linger on how I got a little queasy on the Star Trek Experience rides in Vegas, uh…), writing about the stars was second best. And now?

This summer, I’m going to the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop, which is an amazing workshop given to writers and editors to increase science literacy. I’m going to learn a lot of things, and look through big telescopes, and ahhhhhhh.

ASTRONOMY CAMP.

I might burst with joy.

{ 1 comment }

The Honey Mummy Goodreads Giveaway

What’s better than a new book? How about a new book that’s free!

honey_promo

Apokrupha is giving away three trade paperback copies of The Honey Mummy to US readers. (I know, international reading peeps, that is lousy for you.)

How do you enter?

All you have to do is click right here!

The giveaway will be open until March 17th. When it closes, Goodreads will send me the names of the winners and I’ll let everyone know who gets the books!

Easy, peasy, mummy times!

 

{ 0 comments }

The Honey Mummy, Release Day

honey_promo

by Ravven

Callooh! Callay! It’s The Honey Mummy release day!

If you preordered the ebook, it should be in your device whispering “open, open, open!” Isn’t the future amazing?

If you waited for the paper version, scamper over to Amazon and get yourself a copy! (As of this post, waiting for mothership Amazon to update, c’mon mothership…) Aren’t paper books gorgeous? My thanks to Jacob Haddon and Ravven for making this one so impossibly pretty.

And if you haven’t started the adventures yet (this is adventure number three), it’s never too late to start.

jackal_trio

The working title of this book was Moon & Meteor. I knew I wanted to work with meteorites, and stars, and space (the final frontier, or is it?) and then in the course of my research discovered there was a lunar eclipse on December 22, 1889. Given that The Glass Falcon ended in November 1889, the gears in my brain did turn.

In the third Folley & Mallory adventure, I wanted a few specific things to happen: Eleanor had to be tempted by rings (zut alors!), Virgil had to be kidnapped (mon Dieu!), and we had to explore the tension between Cleo and Auberon (mais bien sûr). Why was Auberon so surprised and fussy when he crossed paths with Cleo in Rings of Anubis? I knew why. Now you get to know why, too!

I also knew Anubis would return, wearing the rings Eleanor reclaimed for him in RoA. What would he think about Eleanor encountering another set of rings? What would she think? She believed her journey was over — she had solved the riddle of her mother’s disappearance, hadn’t she? — and she’s mistaken, in more than one way.

I wanted to deepen friendships and increase the stakes — even if our beloved adventurers weren’t entirely aware they were increasing… Dun, dun, dun!

jackal_trio

Last week, Fran Wilde had me over to Book Bites, where I talked a little about honey, and share a recipe that might surprise you, because it’s savory and not sweet!

Add the book to your Goodreads lists — and take note: March 3-17, you can sign up for The Honey Mummy giveaway. We’re giving away three trade paperback copies of the book to US readers!

Dean E. S. Richard has some kind words about the book on Nerds of a Feather.

And all the cool kids are doing playlists, right, so here’s The Honey Mummy playlist, songs that kept me going over the course of the manuscript! Who doesn’t love a little Cat Power, really.

 

{ 0 comments }

In Praise of Friendships

girls

One of the best aspects of the Folley & Mallory books is friendship. While there are absolutely romances in these books, there are also friendships, which can be no less complicated than romantic love. Virgil and Auberon are partners in their work, and have slowly become friends, after the loss of Virgil’s prior partner, Joel. Over the course of the books, those two are more like brothers; they sure do give each other hell.

Eleanor Folley and Cleo Barclay also come to be friends, which seems more rare to me — we don’t often see ladies as straight-up friends, because so often women, when placed together, cannot be side by side, but must be in competition with one another, be it over a job, a man, or a bridal bouquet. I didn’t want Eleanor and Cleo to be that way; I wanted each to be confident in themselves and share that confidence with a solid friend, someone they could count on when the going got tough — which it did right off for Eleanor. (And heck, when confidence dips in one, have the other come in to support.)

In Rings of Anubis, Cleo is one of the agents who has kept the mummy known as The Lady safe all these years, so she’s the one Eleanor must deal with if Eleanor wants access to The Lady, which Eleanor very much does. Eleanor respects Cleo’s work, just as Cleo respects what Eleanor believes about the mummy; Cleo is just as fascinated by the ancient body and eager to finally have the opportunity, albeit covert, to explore it and determine exactly what’s going on with it.

In The Honey Mummy, we see that the friendship of Eleanor and Cleo has deepened; with Eleanor stationed in Paris and Cleo in Cairo, they share a correspondence, which leads to Eleanor gifting Cleo with something special when they are once again reunited. The Honey Mummy turns the tables on Cleo Barclay — as she helped Eleanor with a personal matter in RoA, now Eleanor helps her with something equally personal. Cleo is asked to open her private life the way Eleanor was, which in turn leads to Eleanor revealing something new and dangerous to Cleo.

I greatly enjoy writing this friendship. While Cleo and Eleanor do talk about the gentlemen in their lives, they have a relationship that reaches beyond them, that exists outside of them. It is a friendship rooted in respect, trust, and science.

When I think of these two ladies, I think of other great friendships between women: Kate and Lanie (Castle), Anne and Diana (Anne of Green Gables), Mary and Rhoda (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Lucy and Ethel (I Love Lucy), CeeCee and Bertie (Beaches, shut up), the Golden Girls (!), Thelma and Louise, Celie and Sofia (The Color Purple), Lorelai and Sookie and Rory and Lane (Gilmore Girls), Ruth and Idgie (Fried Green Tomatoes), Enid and Rebecca (Ghost World), Claire and Geillis (Outlander), Harley and Poison Ivy (but are they dating?!), Hermione and Harry (what), Phryne and Mac, Little Women Little Women Little Women, and…I could probably be here all day.

What are some of your favorites?

{ 2 comments }

My Genre

solo-eleanor-banner

The more I write and the more I read, the more it seems I gravitate toward the genre of Historical Ladies Kicking Butt.

Eleanor Folley, whose third adventure arrives next week, certainly fits into that category. The loss of her mother as a child spurred her toward a life that ended up mirroring her mother’s in many ways — and yet, not, for where her mother seemingly stumbled, Eleanor succeeded. As an operative for the mysterious Mistral agency, Eleanor explores (and sometimes transcends) history itself.

So where the heck did Eleanor come from? What inspired me as I built the series? Here are a few historical ladies I dearly love from television:

miss-fisher-s-murder-mysteries

Essie Davis as the Honorable Phryne Fisher, Lady Detective

1920’s Australia: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries had three seasons on television, and rumor is there will be a movie. Miss Fisher also has a much more extensive book life (written by Kerry Greenwood), which I’ve only just begun to explore. Miss Fisher is outspoken and rarely timid (though she rather doesn’t like spiders). She’s an independent lady who knows marriage is not for her, but birth control and lovers are; she has a rocky relationship with her parents, and a super friendship with Elizabeth MacMillian (who is also fabulous in her own right, a doctor and a lesbian!). And good gracious, those clothes!

peggycarter

Hayley Atwell as Margaret “Peggy” Carter, Lady Badass

1940’s America: Peggy Carter is why I got into The Avengers at all. I heard talk about an Agent Carter series — and given it contained a) a leading heroine and b) historical time frame, I figured I’d better start with the Captain America movies so I’d know who she was. I really didn’t expect to fall in love. Peggy isn’t a waif and she’s not a secretary; she’s more than competent at her job, often showing the men up and surprising them in the process. She has friendships with women — and I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss her growing friendship with Ana Jarvis (played by Lotte Verbeek from Outlander — I literally squealed when I saw it was her), who teaches Peggy how to store a gun in her garter!

vanessaives

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, Lady Scorpion

19th century London: As I watched the first few episodes of Penny Dreadful, I was shocked that no one (not a one!) had told me there was an awesomely historical lady investigating a dead body that appeared to have an Egyptian vampire inside of it. WHAT. Vanessa Ives is…splendid. Another no nonsense lady who takes absolutely no shit, even from the devil himself. Another lady who has a strong friendship with another woman — a lengthy correspondence with her dear childhood friend, Mina; not to mention the mentorship she had with the Cut Wife! Vanessa has something very literal inside of her, and her struggle is a joy to watch.

claireb5829ac45121f1398549cb97d0b875bc

Caitronia Balfe as Claire Randall Fraser, Lady Time Traveler

18th century Scotland: I first met Claire in the Outlander books; I was nervous when it was announced Outlander was to be a TV series, because oh beloved books. But it’s been wonderful seeing that world brought to life. Balfe’s Claire is as I picture her on the page; she’s out of her element and yet not. Claire’s story starts in 1940s England, at the end of the war, and whisks her across time, to Scotland of 1743. Claire often knows too much for her own good and it gets her in a sound amount of trouble. Who doesn’t love a troublemaker, anyhow? Claire has a wonderful friendship with Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek! Squee!) and later, Jenny Fraser. Both are drawn with care and consideration and I appreciate both.

Historical ladies kicking butt!

You will have no doubt noticed, as I did in making this list, that it’s awfully white! While I’ve limited myself to television, if you have recommendations for more diverse historical heroines and settings, be they on TV or in books, please leave a comment!

{ 0 comments }

The Lenten Quiet

lizzy

Lizzy, 1915

Lent is the span of days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, during which Christians are encouraged to fast and give up luxuries as a form of penitence. I would not describe myself as religious (two roads diverged in a gloomy wood, the mark of it still clear on my body), but Lent does usually cause me to pause and consider what I’m doing with myself. This year, I decided to give up bullshit.

This has included stepping away from my writing group, which has made me anxious and calm by turns. (The stepping away has made me, though I will allow the group itself has as well, heh.)

There are aspects I miss — the ritual of it for one. I’m very accustomed to beginning my day with the group, reading through posts and market news and challenges and who sold what and etc.When I automatically moved to click the group link a week ago, I had to stop myself. I had to sit and remember. And I had to consider what to do with that time, if I wasn’t going to be participating in group.

This week, that time has been filled with reading short stories I probably wouldn’t have otherwise made time for. That’s a lesson right there! Stories read for no purpose other than enjoyment. Something I rarely have time for, given how much I read for Shimmer.

I had three story contracts to read and sign on Monday (that never happens, until it does), and I missed being able to crow about them in the group. That strikes me as ridiculous as I type it. Especially since I think many in the group tend to file me under “editor” and not “writer.” That can be a tricky balance, let me tell you. Creative mind vs. critical mind, yes, but also how people you see as your peers view you. A lot of people don’t want to hear about my writing; they want to know how to break into Shimmer. Which makes me wish for a group that was made of both writers and editors — people who deal with both disciplines and want to thrive.

I hope this time gives me space to evaluate what I’m getting from the group and what I’m giving the group in return. Maybe it’s another diverging road in the wood.

{ 0 comments }

Fallout 4

side-eye

Fallout 4 was my first in-depth experience with a game from Bethesda. (I dabbled with Skyrim and still have it, but never got far enough to feel I could say I’d actually played a game from them.) Fallout 4 was an amazing — and often frustrating — journey.

There will be spoilers for the main story of Fallout 4 from here on in — so if that matters to you, abandon ship!

For the rest of us, let’s talk.

The player is presented with the choice of playing male or female and there are loads of customizations for your character. You can even change yourself over the course of the game, by visiting hair salons and various doctors — you can even get tattoos! But what I liked best was the main story presented.

You live in an idyllic Boston, or so it seems, but then you’re being asked to invest in a fallout shelter, because well, you never know. Of course the worst comes to pass, nuclear devastation, and you along with your family, run for the safety of the shelter. Only to be…frozen? (That reminds me, I need to see if I can unlock the ice gun yet!)

Sometime later, you wake to find people breaking into the pod that hold your spouse and child. And you are helpless to do anything as they are… Taken? Killed? You aren’t exactly sure until you are able to bust out.

Fighting your way out of the vault, you discover the world forever changed. Everything you knew is gone — it’s two hundred years later and you, well you’re a relic.

pretty

You encounter many people and creatures on your journey, and are given the opportunity to travel with some of them. I traveled with Dogmeat until I discovered Codsworth was one heck of a murderbot and even better as a second in combat. Later, I’d travel with Danse, a pairing that led to a romance — the first time I played a romance in a game!

It was amusing and often delightful — he’d complain about me hoarding bullets and snack cakes, and then praise me in battle, and say I’d shown him what being happy was all about. Of course, you’re still a little preoccupied with learning what happened to the world. You might not care much about the factions who’re fighting each other, you want to know what happened to your kid.

cakes

If you’re a parent, it may well be a punch in the gut — it’s a good emotional hook that carries through to the end. You discover your son has grown up to lead the Institute, a company that claims it’s doing good for the Commonwealth. But are they? That’s a decision you get to make. One of the most emotional parts of the story was walking into the Institute, to see what had become of the child you saw carted away. Will you allow the Institute to continue their work or will you decide they need destroying?

My choice in that was complicated by who I’d gotten into a romance with, and which faction I ended up falling into. Which only made the story better, because it was constantly changing, and asking me as a player to really think about the choices I made. Those choices led to others, which lead to revelations that, I’m not going to lie, got me choked up! Good job, Bethesda.

As with any game, it’s got its quirks and technical challenges. This game likes to make my computer scream, because it eats all the resources! But beyond those, I had trouble with the interfaces and the dialogue prompts; often, the prompt had little to do with what was actually said, and I’d find myself down a path I didn’t want. But, that’s also life.

(Also a note for anyone else who is as doofy as me: you can scroll your perk screen. I had no idea until very late in the game, so wasn’t leveling things I should! At the bottom of that screen though…it scrolls. I felt so stupid!)

RADIO

One of the best side quests I set for myself was locating the DJ who kept me sane in the early days — I was thrilled to discover he actually exists!

I’ve finished the main storyline with the Institute, but there is still loads to do. I’m learning how to build better settlements and connect them with traders. I’ve also outfitted my loveshack with disco balls, kitten posters, and all the Giddyup Buttercups I’ve come across so far. I have safes to crack, and weapons to liberate, and I keep trying to shush Preston, but no luck yet. He’s still jabbering about settlements, ghouls, and raiders. Hush, Preston. I’ve got snack cakes to find!

I also need to praise the main theme, because it’s a stunning piece of music. And don’t let’s forget Uranium Fever!

the-end

And oh my gosh, ten amazing things to do in Fallout 4!

My favorite monster? I love Deathclaws, but oh my gosh, the Mirelurk Queen! Ahhhh! She was probably my biggest challenge and taught me a lot!

My favorite weapon? Righteous Authority. With a few mods… I also love grenades. Who knew!

And those Fancy Lad Snack Cakes.

And there’s wine!

Scroll your perks!

Venture beyond the map’s southern border!

Goodnight!

Pie! I will have you...

Pie! I will have you…

{ 0 comments }

What I Know

Photo by Felicia Cano on Flickr

Athena – by Felicia Cano on Flickr

Recently, I wished I knew what I was doing. Writing, mostly, I decided, but there are some things I know. Here we go:

1. Showing up is only half the deal.

You want to be a published writer? Showing up is huge, but it’s only half the battle. Doing the work is the other half. You can sit in all the coffee shops you like, with your cute laptop and your foamy milkycoffeedelicious drinks, but if you’re not doing the work, you’re not reaching the end.

If you want to be a published writer, you write the scene.

You write the scene that comes after that.

You write the next scene.

Write the next one.

You repeat until you can type THE END.

This is called doing the work.

2. Worry about what you can control and only that.

This is story about control
My control
Control of what I say

Control of what I do
-Miss Jackson

Writers tend to worry about things they can’t control. What will people think about my work? What happens if no one reads my work? What if I get a bad review?

Absolutely none of these are the end of the world. (Oh, it feels like it, but it’s not.)

Chances are, you will get a bad review.

Chances are, someone will dislike your work.

(Both of those means someone read your work. Breathe!)

Will I end up on a ballot? Will I get a shiny rocket?!

Here’s what you can control:

  • What you write.
  • What you finish.
  • What you send into the world for publishers to consider.

Have you done the work? Have you typed THE END?

You control how you work.

Return to point one. Showing up is only half the deal.

3. Shut up and write.

Truth: real life happens to everyone.

Truth: your years of work will be overlooked.

Truth: no one will value your writing space or time the way you should.

If publishing matters to you, shut up and write the scene.

Then, write the next one.

Write the next one.

Write the scenes until you can write THE END.

Writing is not magic — though it can feel that way when it’s going well. Writing for publication is like any other job. It consists of hard work. Of putting words down, of stacking up pages, until you have all the pages that story contains.

[queue the sports metaphors]

You can talk a good game, but no one goes out onto the field and just stands there — do they? You have to pick the ball up.

You have to move the down markers.

You have to do the work.

Some stories work.

Some stories don’t.

You won’t know which you have until you stack those pages and reach THE END.

Write the scene.

Then?

Write the next one.

{ 0 comments }