hedda62: (time travel)
This is entered in the Washington Post Peeps diorama contest this year. Hamilpeep, hee.

My flist has been very quiet and I know I'm part of that, but just wanted to say hi. I have been busy and will be getting busier soon, but still in winter mode and watching a lot of TV, including (since I checked in here last) "The Man in the High Castle," "Jessica Jones," and (in addictive quantities of late) "Scandal." (Which nearly made the subject line here "I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love.")

I am writing! Just very very slowly. I think the problem is that this book is so far lacking an emotional through-line that pushes me where I'm going despite plot obstacles. But I am thinking out the plot, and unlike with previous books I suspect the goals won't become evident until more of the structure emerges, so until then it's just a slog.

I am distracting myself with the Pinterest board for Time Goes By, which is much weirder and more complicated (and larger) than the ones I did for the previous two books. I am really enjoying this novel-as-patchwork concept - although I realized far too late that I should have done it backwards so the beginning would be at the top (maybe I'll manage that with Not Time's Fool), and it's still frustrating that you can't move pins. If I come up with images later that fit in the middle of the book, I guess they'll just have to go at the top, but it disturbs my sense of order.

Hope you're all well!
hedda62: Waterfall, with the words "water metaphors" (water metaphors)

This is the official announcement that my new book, Not Time's Fool, #4 in the Waters of Time series, is now available - I'll link you to the author blog for the details.

hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
I don't know if it's a New Year's resolution exactly, but I am trying to see the beauty in things more, so here we go.

Serious bummer of a week, with David Bowie going and now Alan Rickman - the latter more difficult for me because I actually met him for, you know, a minute once, and because Snape and all that - but it is great to know that they left so much beautiful work behind that we can enjoy. Still, waah.

Finally listened to the "Hamilton" soundtrack on Sunday (a day before Alexander Hamilton's birthday, which I know about because J. went to Hamilton College and we have a calendar from there which of course lists it, though I'm sure it was all over Tumblr too), and (of course) it was just as wonderful as everyone said, clever and wordsmithy and heartfelt and tuneful, and I'll be returning to it many times.

Had a grand jury session yesterday which finally after all these months brought out the "Oh my God why can I not tell anyone about this?" response, when an otherwise slightly interesting but repetitive investigation suddenly turned into film-worthy drama, oh it was fantastic and made me happy about people and their beautiful crazy instincts.

I posted my old Aubrey-Maturin crossover fic on my author website for Twelfth Night, and then inevitably started rereading The Far Side of the World, which is one of my favorites and O'Brian at top form, full of glorious words put together beautifully. Here is a bit where Stephen is in Brazil with a new Peruvian friend (the scene where he's first introduced to coca leaves):

In the event Lopez needed no hints. He spoke Spanish only with difficulty, and seeing that both his guests were fluent, even enormously fluent, in that language and that they agreed very well, he excused himself on the grounds of early work to be done and bade them good night, leaving them on a broad veranda with a number of domesticated creatures on it, marmosets of three different kinds, an old bald toucan, a row of sleepy parrots, something hairy in the background that might have been a sloth or an anteater or even a doormat but that it farted from time to time, looking round censoriously on each occasion, and a strikingly elegant small blue heron that walked in and out. Two bottles of white port stood between them, two hammocks hung behind, and Lopez returned for a moment to beg them to use the mosquito-netting. 'Not that we have mosquitos in Penedo, gentlemen,' he said, 'but it must be confessed that at the change of the moon the vampires do grow a little importunate.'

They did not annoy his guests however, since the vampire really needs a sleeping prey and these two (though eyed wistfully from the rafters) never went to bed. They sat talking all night, watching the sliver of the new moon go down and the procession of great glowing stars pass across the sky: bats of a more amiable kind, two feet across, showed briefly against their light, and in the river only a few yards below could be seen the star-twinkling wake of turtles and the occasional alligator: the lion-maned marmoset in Stephen's lap snored very gently, sleeping on and on despite the continual flow of talk.

Just to show that it is not all blue-water sailing in these books, glorious as that is as well. As an aside, which I may need to expand upon at some point, I am always bemused by the people who tell me that they tried O'Brian and couldn't manage him because of not understanding all the sailing terms - which, a) I still can't follow all of it despite multiple rereadings, b) neither can Stephen, c) why the heck do you have to understand every word of fiction that you read, instead of letting it wash over you in a beautiful haze? But this is perhaps one of those substantial personality differences that I will never get, even if I substitute me reading nonfiction and try to work from there.

Anyway, and finally. Not to locate myself in the next paragraph from Patrick O'Brian, but I am working on getting Not Time's Fool out (I need to force myself to do formatting and cover work this afternoon) and I did put up the teaser chapters if you are the sort of person who reads them. I am fascinated to see what people will think of this book - I am very pleased with it, in the end, but it is deeply weird in places (like when most of the characters sit down in the middle to start telling fairy tales) and all the book-long and series-long and otherwise-partial arcs tangling together make the structure a bit wonky, not to mention the chapter that covers seven months. But there are bits that I think beautiful. Hope some of you will too.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
For a bunch of reasons I don't want to say much about 2015, and also I have to make a feta-tapenade tarte soleil, so this part of the post is short. (The whole thing will be short; I am not claiming in-depth analysis in the latter part.) Actually, baking something semi-complex that may not turn out is a good symbolic end to the year, and certainly good food has been a lifeline for me, one which I intend to continue hanging on to as 2016 begins. Gardening was perhaps not so satisfying, but I'm hoping to make progress in some new projects, and either the weather will be better (it could hardly have been worse) or I will continue to get used to the new abnormal.

A few things worth mentioning that I really enjoyed this year: I got to see Vienna Teng in concert, I helped my sister get our family's WWII letters up on the internet (if you're interested, it starts here with an introduction my grandfather wrote well after the fact), and I took myself on a road trip through the Midwest and finally got to spend time with [livejournal.com profile] penwiper26 in person. And there's also been the federal grand jury service, which has at least been moderately interesting and has another year to run.

My creative energy, at least writing-wise, was really low this year, and I've made very little progress on The Seed Time (book five), but I did manage to do some good-quality editing on Not Time's Fool, and come hell or high water, which is not a trivial phrase these days, I will get it published by the end of January. I have, however, come round to feeling essentially non-fannish (though I am still enjoying watching and reading lots of things), and have no desire to write fic. For the moment I'm still getting those kudos emails every day, which is nice (new people turning up in the fandoms I wrote in), but I expect that to diminish this year unless something happens. Which it may. Who knows.

Which, ha. The one bit of fannish impulse I have at the moment seems, unexpectedly considering that two years ago I was going to drop it altogether, to be toward Doctor Who - at least, I am spending some of my downtime watching old episodes, and I enjoyed most of this season and the Christmas special. Come at me with your nitpicks and continuity slips, but I thought the latter was fun and charming and sweet, which is a pleasant change of pace, and I have done the fannish thing and looked at River's timeline charts and thought about doing a marathon in chronological order (if such a thing is possible and if I had the time - maybe as a prize after getting the book out). I guess people complain that her timeline is too complicated, but I like that kind of thing (and have written one that's as hard to figure out if not quite as romantically bittersweet). But since I did manage to watch the Library episodes again I started thinking about character arcs and what it means to finish them, or at least "finish" as opposed to leaving them hanging out there unexplained and/or uncompleted. I mean, what if we'd never gone back to River after "Silence in the Library"? Would it have been a worse story, if we'd never known who the hell she was? Yes and no? I suppose, considering that the Doctor's story went on, he had to run into her at some point, so perhaps it's not a fair example, and I know that the whole Steven Moffat Loves Puzzle Women thing is mixed up in this, but on the one hand I am satisfied to feel some closure to the circle and in another way I feel it's Just. Too. Much.

I remember when I wrote the Vorkosigan story "Single Combat," which was a prompt fill and meant to be a one-off, and got a lot of comments about when was I going on with the story - which I did end up doing, but for a while was determined not to, because I thought the open-ended ending was a perfectly good one. I think the urge to go on and finish things, to fill in the gaps, is a fannish urge and a genre-related one - and maybe it's that I have been reading a fair amount of "literary fiction" this year (Jane Smiley's trilogy about the Langdon family is really good, by the way), but I'm getting more dissatisfied with the need to Just Go On (reference not unintentional). Not that I'm going to leave the Waters of Time books hanging without tying a few things up neatly, whether Five or Six is the last one, but (and this goes back to the quote from Ancillary Mercy in my last post) I feel the need to acknowledge that things are not neat and tidy either in real life or fiction, and someday I'd like to write a book that just ends, dammit, and doesn't care where.

Happy New Year, all!
hedda62: (time travel)

1) This video is the best thing ever.

2) Blog posts chez moi: the long one about race in my books, and the TAF outtake with Bernard as Sam Gamgee.

3) I'm doing some of the transcription on the Bulletin (see last post) now that my sister's done enough scanning for there to be work for two. The original text is typed on onionskin and sometimes a bit fuzzy; it comes through well enough in the PDFs that it can be copied into Word without excessive error, but there's still plenty to be fixed as one goes through. My favorite so far: COlllllUilications Officer.

My grandfather was a halfway decent writer. Here's an excerpt from what I transcribed yesterday:

I envy you these long September days. I will always associate this time of year with going back to school, end of summer, smell of new football jerseys, yellow leaves, goldenrod in the hedgerows, warm McIntosh apples, overripe, under the trees, and dusty country roads. It is the time of new departures, not fresh and intoxicated like Spring, but rather a change from old to new things, with the challenge of new problems, and the faint nostalgia of old ways changing. A quiet, thoughtful time of the year. This year, of all years, I would love to be home with you, but it looks more and more as if it were not going to be so.

4) I just want to note how grateful I am for the wonderful thing that is "Orphan Black." *shakes head endlessly over Tatiana Maslany*

5) Not so thrilled with "Hannibal" this season - art for artiness's sake just doesn't grab me. May just give up and not wait for there to be plot.

6) But we are finally watching "Leverage"! It is so fun, in a nostalgic summer-bingeing sort of way. Though we can't really binge, but occasionally there's been more than one episode at a time.

7) Also have watched (see 2 above) "The Book of Negroes," which I really liked. It made me want to say something about the power of - not cliches, but reiteration of the things everyone's heard before but that really need to be said, like the (slightly contrived but still good) scene where Aminata ends up in the same room as George Washington and asks him outright how he can believe in liberty and still own slaves. I had the same feeling on the day I wrote the post, hearing Anne Frank's words for the umpteenth time and still getting emotional over them. But most of the series is far from mere reiteration - it may not be a unique story but it's told with the cadence of a storyteller, grippingly. (Sort of research-relevant for me, or enough that I could get away with saying so.)

That's all for now. It's stinking hot here - we were almost the hottest place in the country yesterday, and I was outside all morning, yay.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
I tried to post here earlier and somehow my delete key got stuck while making a correction and erased everything I'd written. Hoping a visit to the Apple store is not in my future.

Anyway, I think I'll stick to two topics for now and then post again about media consumption (maybe tomorrow after the new POI ep). It's raining off and on; usually I'd be at the demo garden now, but the workday is canceled and I'll go later to take care of necessary tasks.

First, the Ebooks Tree thing. They grabbed five works of mine off AO3 (four totally random fics and "The Opposite of an Epitaph") and also the free 15% samples of Time Goes By and (again) "The Opposite of an Epitaph" from Smashwords. I downloaded the TGB out of momentary panic (you can download files without signing up with the site, and yes I did run a virus check afterwards), and it's chapters 1-5 with a link to my Smashwords page and an exhortation to support the author, which if it wasn't unauthorized and the third book in the series I'd just laugh at and consider free advertising. Can't say for sure that everyone who's had original work nabbed is in the same situation, but I'd check before getting hysterical. In any case, I suppose I will get around to sending the DMCA takedown notice, but I'm busy this week and not inclined to add another to-do list item until I see how it all shakes out. Site might be gone in a few days, after all. And it's very much a "principle of the thing" feeling for me, not a sense that it's likely anyone's being made vulnerable (I assume gathering info is the intent) by downloading my stuff among all the thousands of possibilities. *yawn*

Second, just wanted to relate a couple of book sales stories from the last couple of weeks, with a This Is How It Works In The Real World theme, I guess. Did a talk (on edible landscaping) to a garden club last week, and though I don't come out and advertise I ended up handing out lots of business cards; the hostess of the meeting said she'd already bought Time for Tea on the strength of my sig file in the organizational emails; the club president amused me greatly by saying that they'd had [well-known person in local gardening world] for a talk last year, who had written a mystery novel along with her gardening books, and it wasn't very good, badly needing editing, and she hoped mine were better, and was glad that I had those free samples up so she could check. I suspect I made a sale there, though, and probably a few others (I also managed to plug Naomi Novik in the post-talk dessert chat). (Also, for someone who is not sure she ever wants to read more Outlander books, I market well to those fans by being vaguely enthusiastic. I think I should probably watch the TV series at least.)

And yesterday, I ended up giving another Master Gardener (met that day in person for the first time) a ride home, and she (another email recipient) had already been to my website, quizzed me for a while about the possibilities of self-publishing for a relative who writes poetry in Spanish, and sent me a thank-you email afterwards saying she was going to buy my books.

This process continues to compare interestingly to the fandom world parallel, where... I guess there is more sense of investment and fear of commitment, or something? (Or just "not gonna buy it if there's no explicit gay sex," but I can't do anything about that. I mean, we might get a little Rinaldo/Pasha in the new book.) Gardening is a fandom, too, of course, but it doesn't work on the same rules and I'm not writing about gardening, except for the occasional tulip and bouquets of metaphor. And I do see these folks on a regular basis, some of them, though I always let them introduce the subject of whether they liked what they've read.

Anyway, sig files = reasonably successful marketing.
hedda62: cover of Time for Tea (time for tea)
Well, hurray! I can now announce that fic for the Waters of Time series exists. [livejournal.com profile] headrush100 has written Times Change (link is to her fic journal where there is also a link to AO3), PG-13 gen, summary: An inexperienced jumper gets more than she bargained for when she lands on a ship of the line during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. I haven't read it, but I'm sure it's good as Headrush is an excellent writer with a nice ear for voices and Research Skillz.

And also yay, I don't feel weird about this. I mean, you all know I'm fic-positive (it would be really hypocritical of me not to be) but there's still that moment of knowing someone's taken your characters and universe and done things with them, and it passed without a qualm and with a good deal of joy.

In other news, I am skipping Jazzercise today, which is a rare occasion these days since I've been participating in their 30-classes-in-35-days challenge - which has stretched to several days more because of snow closures, so I have to take 7 more classes in 10 days, which is quite doable at this rate. Today I'm just a bit sore, excessively earwormed with Taylor Swift et al., still tired from Friday's drive to Allentown and back (directly followed by an evening at the concert hall, the Folger Consort and friends doing music related to The Merchant of Venice with several actors including Derek Jacobi and Samantha Bond doing readings from the play; it was lovely but I was a little too zonked to appreciate it fully), and it's snowing so class might have been canceled anyway, I haven't checked yet. I have been for a walk, and now I'm going to stretch and read more of Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America and have hurray-P-is-briefly-home brunch.

I have been sniffly, fatigued, and a bit depressed lately, so it's good to have a day with nice things in it. Hopefully I can get back into posting (here and elsewhere) as March slams into spring gear.
hedda62: cover of Time for Tea (time for tea)
Big honking post on the author blog (as requested by [twitter.com profile] sea_otter3) on how I construct plots, or rather books, as I can't really regard them as separate things. Which for once I will reproduce here under the cut. No spoilers. Also, along the way, I tracked down in my beta group listserv the post where I counted up the characters (named, speaking, or otherwise influential) in Time Goes By. There are 70 of them, ha ha! Not shy with the character-creating, me. Oy vey.

with analogies involving space debris, clay sculpture, and of course plants; plus an exercise program )
hedda62: Harold Finch, half in shadow, text: Oh, Mr. Finch (finch)
1) Got Younger Son delivered to Allentown and his stuff into the off-campus house he'll be in this semester. A whirlwind of Target and Thai food and frigid temperatures and hotel with paper-thin walls and music all the way up and back.

2) Writing is occurring! I have more than a page of Book Five done and am settling into a new character's head (Rinaldo, if you're interested. So not a new character, I mean, but a new headspace). Making notes and having thoughts about where I'm going with the book. (Cryptic words about rivers and traitors, ha ha.)

3) And doing research. Finally finished reading the section of A People's History of the American Revolution on African Americans, made note of a bunch of sources I can find at U.Md., got a JSTOR account (I had been under the impression that you needed an academic affiliation for this, but no) and shelved a journal article on enslaved people in Virginia being recruited by the British and so forth. I think this will figure in the book; not sure yet, but it's a place to start. (Well, André on the Hudson is a place to start, but it's all going to be thematically tied together, I swear.)

4) Got a couple of really nice bits of fan mail. :)

5) Kind of but not looking forward to POI tonight. Well yeah I am, but glutton for punishment, oh ow show. Have spent too much time on Tumblr this week wallowing in it all. Just reblogged a gifset of various character-killing explosions over the course of the show (tagged it "an inherent cultural passion for things that go boom") just because it was SO PERFECTLY TYPICAL. They do tend to repeat themselves thematically (and explosively) when it comes to killing people off, but it still manages to be freshly painful each time. Still need to write that essay.

6) Also, as counterpoint, still enjoying Miss Fisher a lot; nearly done with the second season I think, well past the Phryne/Jack temporary estrangement and up to the adorable Dot/Hugh stuff. A show with just enough pleasant tension but no real trauma is really just fine with me thanks.
hedda62: Ben Linus, well-bruised (bruised ben)
I thought it might be good to do a year-end roundup regarding writing, now that nearly all the holiday fuss is done with (including finally getting Younger Son and his girlfriend home yesterday, a full day later than they were supposed to arrive, how dare there be snow in Frankfurt in December).

So, let's divide this up:

Fanfic. I've enjoyed doing the fanfic end-of-year memes for the last several years, but it would be stupid to do one for this year, since I posted a total of three fics (two Person of Interest, one Lost) all in January. It's not even possible to call this a cyclical writing drought, because really 2011-2013 was a new explosion of fic-writing for me, due to not being caught up in writing books, and this year I wasn't even writing a book, so I don't know what's going on exactly, but I hope 2015 will bring more writing of both sorts (well, I must get the book written, but perhaps there will be leftover energy for fic). I had new fandoms this year, and continued interest in previous ones, but just no inspiration for putting down words about them. It may be that I have a hard time switching between writing mode and editing/publishing mode, and clearly I was in the throes of the latter all year. So we'll see.

Thanks to new people coming into fandoms, though, I still get a kudos email nearly every day, and occasional comments, which is nice. Mostly POI (despite canon-outdatedness), with some Vorkosiverse flurries, and rare but appreciated hits on the others. So at least I have stats to report. under the cut because stats )

Yet again I did not participate in Yuletide (even in good fic-writing years the final months are not productive for me) and was smart enough not to take on any other exchanges or challenges; it just would have meant failure. I also failed at fulfilling previous commitments, but someday, [personal profile] philomytha, I really am going to finish that Alys/Simon-at-the-Orb story still lingering on my hard drive. I do think about it occasionally, I promise! - but nothing inspiring jumps out at me.

I'm not reading as much fanfic, either; the two seem to go together.

Waters of Time Series. I just got through my first year as a self-published author, and I have learned a lot. Particularly about formatting, it seems. I just did the painful thing and trashed (well, recycled, since I am environmentally sensitive and all) the various misprinted/typo-filled hard copies that I stupidly paid money to have printed and shipped to me (authors don't pay for content but do have to pay CreateSpace's costs), and I still regularly have little panic attacks over people reading inferior editions. Turns out I am weirdly sensitive to this: hopefully much more so than my readers. But I think I know most of the necessary Word tricks now (in time to forget them before next November when Not Time's Fool comes out) and I have learned a whole new skill in cover creation, moderately well.

I'm also on my way to learning the sort of patience and tolerance that publication of original fiction should teach, particularly as opposed to fanfic, which (not always but often) has the goal of providing speedy gratification to both readers and writers. I had a comment recently on "Children of an Idle Brain" that irked me in a particular way illustrative of my feelings about fannish entitlement; it wasn't all that different from other comments I've received, but the way the commenter said (nagged, perhaps) "I don't like to see Root and Shaw together in any way" just made me want to yell back "Well, did I ask your permission?" (Of course I didn't yell; I was very polite and thanked them for telling me that there were some nuggets to be admired in all the crazy dream-writing and ill-advised proto-shipping.) Aside from the occasional gift story, I don't write fic to other people's specifications but to please myself, though of course I appreciate that others enjoy the results. But the culture seems to assume otherwise; the number of people who have essentially told me that all my stories should be "The Rest Is Silence" is… well, irritating.

Anyway, writing for money is a bit of a different game, but I basically have the same philosophy: I write what pleases me, though with the goal of pleasing others too, and I try to accept that some readers won't like what I write. Though it's nice when the majority do, as appears to be the case so far. Reviews are great, by the way, whether they are positive or negative; those inclined to say positive things are of course particularly urged to get them down in writing, just saying.

So, I have made what's probably a reasonable though not staggering number of sales for the first year and three books; most of the people I've heard from who read the first book have kept going through the second and at least intend to read the third, though I haven't heard back yet from anyone who's finished it (it is, indeed, very long). Aside from the panic attacks, I'm finding that I enjoy knowing my words and characters are out there and making an impact on readers. I've fielded compliments (and a few critiques) and I'm enjoying writing things on the author blog (and know a few people are reading them). Keeping the marketing bandwagon moving is far more tiring than any aspect of actual writing, and I'm not very good at it yet, but I think this is pretty much still the word-of-mouth stage anyway. I don't actually know everyone who's reading my books, which is kind of cool, even if many of those I don't know are friends of my mother.

I'm still disappointed in the apparent lack of response/sales among the fannish community - many of you who are long-term friends have bought and read, thank you! but it's very hard to spread the word through Tumblr or AO3 or even DW/LJ, and I think the aforementioned fanfic entitlement/gratification culture does not bode well for sales even if I can make the [personal profile] hedda62/Erica H. Smith connection in people's minds. Why, after all, should you pay for (long) books about characters you don't know when you can go read stories for free about characters you do know, by the same author or not? I may yet be surprised by procrastinators or a slow spread of awareness, but in the meanwhile there are the Real Life Friends who are unexpectedly kind and enthusiastic and surprisingly don't mind all the trauma I inflict on George and Olivia and cohorts, although the literal cat-bashing was not well received.

My current to-do list is heavy on the GET STARTED WRITING BOOK FIVE DAMMIT elements, so expect some updates in that regard soon. And who knows, maybe some more fanfic someday as well.

Happy New Year!
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Cross-post from blog (after deleting the panicked part of my last entry here):

It seems that I cannot put out a book without having some sort of formatting crisis. I really do learn from my mistakes, but somehow new curve balls are always thrown and I haven’t learned to hit them yet, or some other less sports-related metaphor. Anyway:

1) The print version of Time Goes By slipped by my screening with poorly-arranged margins, and ended up with no page numbers and a thin slice of text cut off the bottom of some pages. It is still readable – no words are missing – but the issues may be distracting. I just discovered the problem, and have uploaded a new and hopefully fixed version, so the book is currently unavailable until the review process is complete (a few days, if all goes well).

If you have purchased this less-than-perfect edition and want a replacement, contact me and I will send you one. I need to order them, so it’ll take a couple of weeks.

2) The ebook version is fine, but a minor and invisible formatting error made the EPUB version fail an automated check, which has delayed the distribution to retailers such as iTunes, Nook and Kobo. I am pretty sure I’ve fixed the problem, but am still waiting on Smashwords to confirm this. All ebook formats are available for download directly from Smashwords, if you want to go that way rather than buying from a retailer. The distribution will take a few days to a week once the new file passes inspection.

3) I’ll leave the ebook discount for Time for Tea and Time and Fevers in place through December.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Oh, Sleepy Hollow, NO. You did NOT do that. Please be the kind of show that doesn't. *writes furious fix-it fic in head*

And, to continue the previous Katrina thoughts - I read somewhere on Tumblr bits of an interview someone did with some showrunner (sorry, cannot cite. "I read it on Tumblr somewhere": death to modern scholarship) where among other things (one of them being that they consider Katrina to be a "strong woman") it was stated that K. is having difficulties getting her magic in line after all that time in purgatory - and, okay, that would be cool. I would go for that. Except that all that's coming across is that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and she shows no real reaction in either case. Or rather, she shows a reaction to the result of the success or failure, but not to the success or failure itself, which a craftsperson should do; there should be a little smirk of triumph or anger when what should happen doesn't. It's bad writing as much as bad acting. She could be a reluctant witch - that would be interesting - and a witch of necessity only, or she can be totally getting off on it, but in any case she needs to desire competence. And to regret failure, not just because it kills people but because it makes her look bad.

On another subject entirely, I think I've fixed the epub file problem - still waiting for Smashwords to review the files (apparently they are still on holiday schedule) but I auto-vetted the file and it passed, so I'm pretty confident (and you will hear wailing and gnashing of teeth if it still fails for some reason). [personal profile] mmegaera said it might be in the headers or footers, and it was - phantom page numbers in the footer, which I never put in there, but Word in its infinite wisdom decided should be present. Don't know why in this book and not any of the others, but there you are.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
1) I put together a FAQ for my books, mostly spurred by having to make that "check the box or not?" decision again for "adult content." I did not check the box. Here's the relevant portion of the FAQ:

situationally-appropriate )

I think this is all reasonable, but there's bound to be someone out there who gets huffy. Difficult sometimes to remember that not all the world reads E-rated fanfic on a regular basis and thinks my writing is tame. :)

2) I am having trouble being quite as enthused about season two of Sleepy Hollow as I was about season one, and I'm afraid it has to do with Katrina. It's very hard to express dislike for her without being one of those "gets in the way of my ship!" people, and while I do kind of ship Ichabod/Abbie, I would love Katrina to be a great character instead of the inconsistently written and acted mess that she is. She could be both the love of Ichabod's life and a person causing him great consternation; she could be both badass and ladylike; she could be smart as hell and still confused by her confusing circumstances; she could be motherly and passionate and jealous, and conflicted about those feelings. There's plenty of room for fascinating development along all those axes of character, but instead she's tossed arbitrarily from one side to another, never gets to be fully competent at anything, never gets to be as funny as the other characters, is often a victim and more frequently stupid, has marvelously unclear motivations, and keeps wearing an outfit you'd think she would toss in the trash immediately. And she's been the focus of a lot of episodes this season, so all this is unfortunately front and center.

Also, not nearly enough Frank Irving is happening, but we knew that.

3) Bad POI fan here: dozed off here and there during last night's episode and missed both Bear's swimming and the bit about the circle (which I know about from browsing Tumblr), so I will have to watch it again. It's not the show; it's me and my previous night's insomnia. But I did wake up for the ending and look forward to mayhem ensuing next week. And I didn't snore as much as Fusco.
hedda62: Waterfall, with the words "water metaphors" (water metaphors)
Volume Three of the Waters of Time series, Time Goes By, is now available for purchase! See this post for links, and (since I mentioned it here before) this post for the cover images.

Whew. I would collapse but I have to make dinner. But I'm excited to have this one out there, and interested to find out what you all think of it - though I will have to wait a little while, since it's 621 pages long and might take some time to read. But yay! Done, and hopefully with no horrible formatting accidents this time!
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
1) I almost have a cover! I need to work on balancing the color (or lack thereof; it's all sepia-ish) but I think I should be done today, and then very little is stopping me from getting the book together and uploaded. This time around I'm pretty sure I'll have a different cover for the ebooks than the paperback, because the print cover uses a wraparound background image with another image covering most of it on the front cover, and not enough of the background shows there to be comprehensible alone. So much as I hate to lose the planes-that-look-like-birds, I think the ebooks will just have the broken violin. Will post on the blog when it's done. (I am still not sufficiently talented with image software (using GIMP now) to make it what I want, but IT IS GOOD ENOUGH SO THERE.)

2) TV catch-up: a) Need to stop dozing off during POI, but that's my fault not the show's; I especially loved Root's turn as French Mary Poppins; b) speaking of which, Doctor Who had some spot-on moments during the season finale, and I have decided that it's not worth dwelling on the places I didn't think they quite made their points, because the misses were fairly close (by the way, has anyone written the story where spoiler )?); Castle, WTF? though I suppose you get the "it was only a dream" pass.

3) We will be getting the polar-vortex-whatever during the day today, though at nothing like the power the center of the country has been experiencing. Our local weather gurus have predicted some "mood flakes" tonight, another term for "conversational snow." I have been a little too occupied with cover-building and the like to do as much outdoors as I should have been doing; maybe I'll manage to go pull out the pepper plants today at least.

4) Music recs. First, my son and a friend, together known as Red Wheelbarrow, have a little album out which you can listen to (and pay what you want to download) here, if you should wish to. As Patrick says, it's a bit rough around the edges, but hey, the price is right, and new artists should be supported, and I think they do a splendid job: Helen has a lovely voice and Patrick plays multiple instruments well and I am not prejudiced at all. Album is original music; you can listen to their covers here.

Second, on a more experienced and professional level, a friend sent me the latest of Zoe Mulford's CDs, "Coyote Wings," and I am now interested in getting her others. Excellent songs, very personal and yet universal, great lyrics and themes and thoughtfulness. And, as I figured out soon after glancing at the liner notes, she is the sister of one of Patrick's directors/teachers/now-colleagues at the theatre camp he attended for many years and now works at in summer, and in fact one of the songs, "Acrobats," which you can listen to at the "music" link on her site, was written to celebrate her brother's wedding (to another employee of the same camp as well as of the commedia troupe they both belong to which I think I have referred to here before). So that is cool.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Announcements! (cross-posted from blog)

1) I have cut the price of e-books of Time for Tea and Time and Fevers on Smashwords and Amazon Kindle to $2.99 each for the month of November. So, starting tomorrow and until November 30, get the discounted gift of a good read for your friends or yourself - and get ready to buy Time Goes By when it arrives!

2) Speaking of which, teaser chapters for the new book are up here. If you've been waiting to find out what happens next, this is your chance!

(Also, after much agony and help from [livejournal.com profile] penwiper26, I finished the blurb, which as of now goes like this:

Kidnapping, intrigue, technological crises and innovations, personal skirmishes: life has never been so complicated for the employees of Constantine and Associates. George Merrill undertakes a desperate quest through time to find his beloved Olivia Lake, while his colleagues follow their own paths toward the same goal. Andy Bishop explores the pitfalls and pinnacles of the political landscape, Beatrice Rivas makes the longest journey of her life, and as the action shifts from Moscow to Dunkirk, from Washington to Paris to Casablanca, Olivia—stranded amid bombs and bloodshed—fights her own battles. But something—or someone—is drawing the time-traveling comrades together again, through turmoil and danger set against the tumult of the Second World War.

There may be further tweaking, but I guess that says it more or less. Ergh.)
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
1) Post up on visiting places you write about (the why and the maybe why not) at the author blog. With reference to Venice, because.

(Incidentally, I am gathering that as with Twitter, so with Wordpress there is a method whereby bloggers like, follow, and/or post empty comments with the intent of getting you to follow them back; see comment about my interesting post on travel writing which is not what I wrote about but is what the commenter does. Sorry, I have you all sussed out now and I'm not going there. So to speak.)

2) Things I need to do in the next few days: upload teaser chapters for Time Goes By; decide on a not-stupid About the Author blurb for that book, and also whether I should have a dedication; start formatting the print version; do a temporary price cut for TFT and TAF ebooks (month of November, buy 'em now); send out email announcements as well as posting on the blog; get ready to agonize over cover design. Plus other things in other spheres of my life.

ETA: Also have to come up with a blurb for TGB a little more extensive than the placeholder ("Adventures extending over five centuries, three separate continents, and one world-convulsing war"). OMG how.

3) Am attempting to catch up on TV missed while away. Caught up on Person of Interest, which continues to be fantastic this season (all of you who gave up last season, you should come back!); on Castle, which is still entertaining if stretching it a bit with the amnesia plot oh please; on Sleepy Hollow, which is just absurd but completely lovable and doing interesting things with interpersonal relationships; on Doctor Who, which… I just don't know, really. Others to follow.

4) I read, over the course of the trip, several books but two in particular that I'd really like to review together if that were possible anywhere, just because they resonated as if unrelated objects struck and vibrating in close harmony. One is Jo Walton's My Real Children, which I loved as a transformation of the mundane extraordinariness of life into the fantastical (old woman with dementia in nursing home reflects on two entirely separate lives she remembers having lived in two versions of the 20th and early 21st centuries (neither of them ours)), and the other is a memoir by my second cousin Ann Hedreen about her life and that of her mother who died in her 70s of early-onset Alzheimer's, called Her Beautiful Brain. The resonance is close in the description of confusion and forgetting and disintegration, the life choices faced by women, the poignancy of loss and ordinary living, the portrait of a period of time; the format is different, of course, but I think Walton's book has a lot of elements of memoir (there's a lot more of "and then this thing happened, and then the other thing" than I thought I could put up with in what has to be categorized as speculative fiction) and it certainly reads as a real person's story, or stories. (But it's a different sort of person who chooses to write about their own life rather than those of invented characters. I didn't know Ann very well before reading her book; now I almost feel I know her too well. Memoir is not a choice I'd make for myself, even if my life was interesting enough to merit one.) Also, I had no idea before I started Walton's book that it had so much to do with Italy, so that was fun.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
New post up at my author page - Something Alarmingly Plausible, No Doubt: Writing the Past - about how I approach my version of historical fiction. I'm just going to do one more "update" post, tomorrow or the day after, and then leave the blog alone until I get back from Italy.

And OH WOW fantastic episode of POI last night, perfectly grim and poignant and intimate and funny and laying the foundation for who knows what. I loved it all, and all of them in it, but number one was Fusco's glee-face. Friendly acts of revenge: better than falafel.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Miscellany: writing, cats, TV, etc.

1) I wrote the first sentence in Book Five last night:

The muffled oars whispered secrets to the river as the boat slipped downstream, returning Major John André to the safety of the Vulture.

Which should alert those familiar with the incident that something weird is going on, but never fear, I will explain what and why and how very quickly. I haven't written any more yet, but perhaps I'll get time to do that today; I do know how it goes on. For a little while, at least. And am very glad to get started, and impressed that I've written something considering my mental state a couple of weeks ago.

Also got a laugh when I reviewed the history and saw what the name of the sloop was. Birds, I tell you: following me around.

(The next line in the "How to Suppress Women's Writing" litany goes: She wrote it, and then she wouldn't shut up about it. Sorry not sorry.)

2) Cats! I said I'd write about cats, and I haven't done an update in ages. We still have Lancelot and Hotspurr, and they are well. Hotspurr is now an indoor-outdoor cat - I swore this wasn't going to happen, after losing the last cat (plus others, previously) to outdoor threats, but he had other ideas, and as soon as spring arrived he began scratching and whining constantly (I mean, for hours at a time) and shooting out the door whenever we opened it, and we eventually gave in. (Tried the leash thing first - nope, not going for it.) He's five years old, so he had fully-developed habits before we adopted him, and clearly no one ever denied him anything, including access to the outdoors. He's also refused to wear a collar (he lost six of them outdoors before we stopped putting them on) but he does have a chip at least. And he's smart about what's out there, though I'm reconciled to the possibility that some of it will eventually kill him. He'd just be miserable inside all the time; some cats just are The Cat Who Walks By Himself, and that's how it is. He's done two all-nighters out so far, and been caught out in several thunderstorms, though he tends to curl up on a chair and sleep the whole next day.

Lancelot is still an indoor kitty, because I don't trust him to avoid danger outside, and because the only reason he seems to want to go out is because Hotspurr's there. They bonded nicely in the winter, but while Hotspurr is fond of Lancelot, Lancelot loves Hotspurr, and now he spends days waiting by doors and windows for his friend to come back. We are seriously thinking of getting a third cat, if we can find one guaranteed to prefer the indoors.

3) I'm kind of liking the break from TV in the summer (though the POI preview clip from ComicCon looked awesome), which we are filling desultorily with episodes of "Borgen" - it's a Danish political drama about a female prime minister in a coalition government, and it's intriguing and fun and poignant in a way that's more "West Wing" than "House of Cards" (or "Yes, Minister"), and blends the political and the personal in a balanced way. We're about halfway through the second season. In Danish with subtitles - which means I can't watch it if I'm sleepy, because my eyes will close and I'll have no idea what's going on, but it's been interesting. Neither of us speaks Danish, but I know a little German and J. used to be fluent, so some of the roots are familiar and occasionally we'll pick up a word here and there. We concluded pretty quickly that a lot of sounds get seriously elided, because when there's something you know they should be saying (because it's in the subtitle and not likely to be a mistranslation) you still don't hear it. And then occasionally there will be phrases in English - there are whole scenes in English, I mean, when they're talking to people from other countries, but also just little bits of jargon or idiom that apparently have been adopted into Danish parlance, which is kind of weirdly endearing and startling. Only available here on DVD - which, wow, when was the last time we watched one of those?

4) Subject line is one of my favorite bits of Vienna Teng, from "In Another Life":

In another life
I was married at thirteen
You were killed at twenty-one
On a minor battlefield

which I just think is genius in the "adding insult to injury" way. Minor battlefield, ha. It's the sort of thing Rinaldo would like, and since that's his POV up there in the first line of Book Five (which still has no title) I am particularly inclined to attach to it. (Last book used all female POVs; this one will be all male, which makes it the first book without Olivia's interior perspective, though possibly I'll give her the epilogue.)

5) I've been having shoulder panics. When you've had two frozen shoulders, any lasting pain or stiffness in those joints leads to worry (which probably doesn't help in terms of loosening up) about the possibility of losing most of your range of motion, plus any ability to exercise (because of extreme pain on jarring), for a year or so. I am just back in the swing of things where exercise is concerned, after the frustration of the knee problem, and having that go away again would be devastating. But I'm hoping it's just the temporary result of doing too-speedy hand-weight lifts in Jazzercise. Lots of stretching is in order.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
A few random remarks post-romance rant (okay, it wasn't really a rant, but I wish alliteration), things best said in this forum if only for my own sake, and hopefully somewhat more relaxed, good-natured, and self-deprecating. (Although the last makes me contemplate again the expectations placed on female writers, that we will speak (seldom and in modest tones) of our little scribblings that no one needs to take seriously. I wish that the ability to contradictorily take things seriously and not seriously at the same time was more widespread, but until that miracle occurs I'm gonna self-promote like hell.)

1. One thing that irritates me about the offhand critique of romance, especially when it's expressed (as it often is) in the form "You are free to write whatever satisfies you, but I don't read that stuff," is whatever amount of love story may be present in a work (when written by a woman, at least of the sort not reviewed by major newspapers) is assumed to always be a form of wish-fulfillment, self-indulgence, and pandering to the (female) masses; there's nothing wrong with any of that in moderation, of course, and I certainly find writing romantic storylines fun. (Where it comes to wish-fulfillment, I'd say that the ability to memorize large amounts of poetry and learn languages with chemical assistance is far and away the most-longed-for gift of which I have written.) But even if that's one's intent, doing the job well is hard work, and being dismissed with a pat on the head is condescending to say the least, and makes one's teeth ache with grinding, even when it's well-meant.

2. I did think of claiming in the course of that post that my books are romances in the older sense (the medieval and allegorical, possibly, but at least the more heroic and marvelous and less snuggly), but left it out because I was talking about modern publishing categories and because it would sound pretentious (and insufficiently researched). I really do need to read Sidney's Arcadia all the way through at some point.

3. However, it did make me think again of the somewhat-accidental linking of each of the books (with the possible exception of Time Goes By) to a form of literature, and led to the head-smacking moment of realization that people think of Time for Tea as a romance novel because it's wrapped around 18th-century romance in form and substance - making fun of it, quite often, but also using its modes and its language. I think I am okay with this.

4. Along similar lines, I had a critique of Time and Fevers recently that talked about faults in structure (conflating style and construction, I think, and probably affected by a temperament averse to both the mode of romance and multi-book arcs, but never mind), and after wrestling with that awhile, I've decided that, yes, some of the faults exist, partly because of that much-regretted alternate-chapter-POV choice and partly because the literary-linking as described above wasn't thought out enough. cut because spoilers )

5. And, to pursue this further, I had a think about Not Time's Fool (Book Four), and since the literature-link there is fairy tales, I pushed a little harder on the one arc that still doesn't work quite right, and reshaped it from the "happily-ever-after-but-then-what" concept into an echo of the transformation-type tale that I use in another arc, and I believe that editing with that in mind is going to help, both with the story as it stands and with the weirdly-floating section in the (again) long denouement that leads into Book Five's arc. Well, one of the weirdly-floating sections. I have well over a year, and plenty of writing time on Book Five (*knocks on wood*), to pull it into a shape that makes sense.

6. Which leads me to consider what Book Five, with its conspiracy theories and historically-linked politics and tests of loyalty and male POV characters, needs in terms of a literature-link, and it could quite possibly be medieval romance, but I won't know till I get started.

7. I am going to have to write more at some point about how the structure of the more-than-book-length arcs works for me, and why I like the technique of (so to speak) pulling the camera back gradually as the action moves along, but that'll make more sense after Time Goes By.

Oy vey. Next post will be about cats or zucchini recipes or television shows, I promise.

June 2016

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