Summer Fishtrap 2018

I’m sitting on my porch in the summer warmth, working on my writing outside until the sunlight and warmth makes it uncomfortable to be outside any longer. Not that much writing has been going on until now, because I’ve been digesting and organizing my notes from this summer’s Fishtrap Gathering of Writers.

Fishtrap is just that kind of writer’s conference. The organization’s overarching theme is “promoting clear thinking and good writing in and about the West.” To that end there are workshops—the good writing portion—and then keynotes and addresses and afternoon discussions—the promoting clear thinking portion. It’s not a Fishtrap without both elements—and this year, the two portions came together quite smoothly—even for, or perhaps, this year, especially for, a science fiction and fantasy writer.

This year’s theme was “Living Upstream,” and the particular workshop I chose was “Write for Change, Live Upstream,” taught by Laura Pritchett. The “Living Upstream” theme ended up focusing not only on environmental issues but the intersection of environmental issues and social justice. The thematic portion flowed into daily discussions with other attendees simply because of issues they were struggling with in the themes they chose to write about—whether it was the current cli-fi apocalypse I’m rewriting to other writers’ subjects, including novels about white supremacists and racism in Oregon.

Not that the whole thing was full of doom, gloom, and despair. If anything, the focus was on empowerment, whether we heard about Tim Z. Hernandez’s search for the names of 28 Mexican deportees killed in a plane crash in 1948 while being sent back to Mexico in All They Will Call You, to Kathleen Dean Moore, Kim Stafford, and Gary Ferguson exhorting writers to think about the interdependence of systems, how we celebrate a dying world, realizing the connection between environmental degradation and social injustice, the blindness of privilege and how to repair it, and accepting our role as word warriors.

Speaking of word warriors, let me tell you about Tim Z. Hernandez, because if you’ve not read him yet, you should be. He initially resisted the lure of All They Will Call You, because he had already written about the 40s and didn’t want to be known as someone who only writes about that period. But as time passed, he realized that he was the one to do the work, to find those names so they could be placed on the mass grave for the deportees (while the white people killed were found and bodies sent to their homes). He tried to talk to the families, but only found three (or was it four?) by publication, then a few more to bring the total to seven. At the end of his kick-ass presentation, he brought us all to tears by reading the names of the deportees killed in the crash and having the audience repeat “Presente” for each name. I bought the book and devoured it, and I tell you, you need to read it. Even though it is set in the 1948s, his account of how some of those people killed in the crash made the decision to come to the US for bracero work is heart-rending—and still relevant today. The search for the names, the histories of those who died—it’s all that and more.

I’m still processing what I learned and discussed there. I left the workshop with poems, essays, and story ideas—and a deeper understanding of what I need to do with Beating the Apocalypse. Sometimes we need to look beyond genre to focus on that clear thinking and good writing…and this year was one of those moments when it all came together.

Even for this speculative fiction writer.

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On names and Klone’s Stronghold

Back when I was in junior high, I discovered that someone else shared my first and last name (but thankfully not the middle name). Since the other Joyce had a propensity for getting into trouble, I started using my middle name at school and other kid activities. But it wasn’t just a simple use of my middle name, Marie–I used variants of my name such as J. Marie, Marie J., Marie Mary, and so on.

That pretty much continued from 7th through 12th grades. Then the other Joyce and I took different routes, with only occasional confusion between us (there was yet another Joyce, an insurance saleswoman), such as the time the other Joyce had a baby with an ex-brother-in-law, and people got confused because they thought it was me.

So I tend to be a bit blase about people using multiple names for themselves. That hasn’t caught up with me until Klone’s Stronghold. Reeni and her uncle Jayanesh exhibit the same casualness about Reeni’s real name, which is Marie Irene. But it gets flipped around by Jayanesh and Reeni herself. I thought about correcting it when working on the final draft, but decided to let it stand because I wanted the usage to make a statement about Reeni’s confused identity. From Jayanesh, it shows his contempt for what Reeni truly is. From Reeni, it reflects her own confusion about her identity. It also gives me an opening to explore just why Reeni flips her name around in the next book–I could have put it into Stronghold but it just didn’t fit.

However, when I start work on Book Two next year, I intend to work with this concept of identity a bit more.

I promise.

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New book day! KLONE’S STRONGHOLD

Well, release day was actually YESTERDAY…but I wasn’t feeling well, and I’ve learned that doing promo work while not feeling well is not always the best thing to do.

Anyway, it’s out! My first foray into long-form contemporary fiction, Klone’s Stronghold, is now available online!

In a world of supernatural beings, not knowing what you are is dangerous.
 
After Reeni Dutta’s ex-husband Karl attacks her at a music festival, she finds a refuge teaching cryptid construct children at Klone’s Stronghold in northeastern Oregon’s isolated Bucket Mountains. But things are not as they seem at the Stronghold, from the older proprietors of a nearby store and the Stronghold’s leader Alexander Reed Klone, to Reeni herself. She discovers it’s not just Karl who seeks to control who and what she is, but forces from her past that threaten her present. Can she learn the truth about herself and do what is needed in time to defend the Stronghold?
 
Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and other places.
Books2Read link (takes you to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iBooks) https://www.books2read.com/u/m2vZDG

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Working on the trails

Last Saturday I got to ride a mule as part of ongoing volunteer work to open up local trails in the Wallowas and Hells Canyon. Alas, I don’t have pictures, except in my mind.

I’ve been wanting to ride a mule for some time now, so when one team leader said he had an opening for a mule rider, I jumped for it. The mule in question was Bat, female, a half-Belgian sorrel mule from a Belgian draft mare and a standard jack, trained to drive, pack, and ride. She stands about 15.2 hands high (that is, 15 hands, two inches), probably weighs about 1300-1500 lbs, has big bones, and is an older mule.

We went up the Wing Ridge stock driveway which is on the east side of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The trail is not meant for most hiker use–it goes straight up a steep ridge with only a few switchbacks. As it were, we stopped frequently to let our party of three mules (two ridden, one packing, all mature older equines) and one horse (three-year-old gelding, big and stout, working on getting wet saddle blankets and experience) catch their breath. And trim a few annoying branches here and there as well. During one stop, a mated pair of ruby-crowned kinglets landed in the lodgepole thicket just a foot away from me, so close that I could have touched them had I wanted to. The female had some sort of fluff in her beak and the male’s ruby crown was flared out in mating display. It took me a moment to identify them because I’d only seen them in winter coat before, not spring and summer. They didn’t seem to be bothered by a rider so close to them.

The area burned in a hot fire thirty years ago, so it is full of skeletal, whited snags and young lodgepole and Ponderosa regrowth. In one place, the wind blowing through the snags moaned and howled in a convincing imitation of wolf calls–something the team leader pointed out with a chuckle, because while there are wolves in the area, it was clear from the equine calmness that what we were hearing was trees and not wolves.

Bat and I had the brief discussions that come along with experienced equine used to carrying riders of all skill levels, that is to say, she threw some brief tests at me and I let her know that while I deferred to her judgement on some things, it wasn’t all going to be her way. She wasn’t happy about the young horse coming close to her hind end and pulled faces at him, tossing her head at him with pinned ears as a warning. Except for the bigger head and longer ears, Bat’s expression was darned near identical to Mocha’s in a similar situation. There’s something both comic and yet more threatening when that facial expression comes from a longears, though. Mules seem to have more expressive and comic faces, but those big pinned ears are a definite threat–until they flop. Going downhill, she also kicked at him several times, popping up her hind end for a double-barrel warning.

But she was also calm and sturdy, and definitely sure-footed. More sure-footed than Mocha? That’s not the difference. What really shows up as the big difference between Mocha and a mule or the stouter horses preferred here is durability and stability. Mocha is much smaller than Bat at 14.2 hands high and about 1000-1100 lbs at her heaviest. Her feet are tiny in comparison and she lacks the support of a sturdy, solid frame of a standard-sized mule like Bat or even the typical frame of the stout phenotype of horses preferred in these canyons. She’s not bred to work this country, and even though she’s catty-footed and strong, she would break down a lot sooner than Bat. Not her fault. Bat’s extra bone and sturdiness makes her more stable when going downhill and rider balance is not going to throw her off too much. Mocha needs a more experienced rider who can keep their balance because she’s so light in comparison. Seriously. I’ve ridden Mocha down similar steep slopes and I could tell that I needed to work much less with Bat where I would have either dismounted or aggressively maintained my balance with Mocha. Bat has the body to compensate for a bad step in those conditions. Mocha doesn’t. There were moments when I really noticed that difference with Bat.

So that was interesting.

That wasn’t all I learned from this work trip. The team leader is an experienced packer and the son of an experienced packer. He used the Decker packsaddle with clip-on canvas bags (carrying hard hats, clippers, axes, backpack, and pulaski), then dropped ropes on each side to secure the loads and tie a four-foot crosscut saw on top. I had lots of questions about packing and watched, wishing I’d had a camera to take even more pictures.

And I got to use the crosscut saw! First time for that. We had to leave the stock after about two miles and continue on foot for about another three-quarters of a mile due to snowbanks with uneven consistency. For the most part, humans could walk across the top of the occasional snowbank without sinking in, but there still was the occasional postholing moment. Not at all safe for stock, even led instead of ridden. The young horse Had A Moment in one snowbank but all came out well. Our goal was to eyeball one nasty fallen log just before the wilderness boundary and decide whether hand tools would be sufficient, or if a chainsaw was needed (okay because it was outside of the wilderness). The verdict was that the chainsaw was needed, especially since there were several other tough logs that would be best done by chainsaw before we got to that one problematic log.

We ended up cutting 7-8 big logs. The most challenging one was about 12 inches in diameter and had fallen across the trail to hang up in trees on the other side, at about 8 feet high. When we passed on doing the other log by hand we decided to do this one instead.

Then we headed downhill to a waiting barbecue. The mules and horse got their own version of the barbecue by getting to hand graze for a little bit before the humans went off for burgers and beer.

Dang, that was fun.

 

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Writing processes–the year of finishing book projects

You know, for the most part I’m a plotter sort of writer. Except when I’m not, especially when I’m dedicating time to attacking those unfinished fragments on my hard drive. Quilters talk about UFOs (unfinished objects); well, I have bits and pieces of books. Unfinished Book Projects. UBPs.

The last two rough drafts I’ve finished, Klone’s Stronghold and Bearing Witness, are both significant deviations from the process I’ve been using for novel writing over the past two years because they’re UBPs. I’ve got the plotting process down to a version that works for me when I build a book from scratch.

But.

Stronghold and Witness are different because they’re UBPs. The previous books I wrote using my favorite plot matrix system were part of my two series’, Goddess’s Honor and Netwalk Sequence. Creating my plot matrix was part of the worldbuilding/character development process. However, both Stronghold and Witness started out as long short stories that became short novels, with Stronghold coming in at 60k words and Witness at a respectable novella length, 21k.

I often don’t rigorously plot my short stories. When I do that, either the story goes dead on me, or it decides to mutate into a first chapter. It’s just the way I am when I create. Give me half a chance and I’ll start trying to thread in more and more complexities and…yeah. Doesn’t work well for short stories.

With these two works, one novella, one short novel, I’m still figuring out the process when I pick up a UBP from several years back–and that means anticipating a lot more rewrite action. With both works, plot elements started warping both stories from what I originally intended. As a result, I have to go back and insert breadcrumbs to support the later plot developments. Arrgh. Yes, I am a very good rewrite writer–probably better at rewrites than rough drafts–but in this sort of situation, rewrites mean lots of organization in order to pull it all together. The more rigorously plotted and planned novels don’t require significant rewrite worldbuilding. What I’m facing right now is…a lot of revision.

Both books will come out longer, but not by too much. I’m guesstimating an additional 20k for Stronghold and 10k for Witness, max. In part that’s because there will be edits and deletions and so on to balance a certain amount of the rewrite.

Ah well, it’s part of the ongoing writer development. After all, both of these books are UBPs, the first of a number of projects I’ve got lined up. Now that I’ve finished the Netwalk Sequence and am two-thirds of the way through Goddess’s Honor, it’s time for me to attack some of the UBPs I have on hand. So it’s time to figure out a new planning process, just because I want to get these UBPs out into the world.

But arrgh. The degree of rewrite I’m facing on Stronghold is daunting. On the other hand, when I’m done, the story might could just launch another series. We’ll see what comes of it–and the same is true of Witness.

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Sense of place in the Goddess’s Honor series

I’ve been wanting to write this blog for a while, but every time I sit down to write about this subject my thinking points go careening off into the glaciated (well, these days not-so-glaciated) peaks of the Wallowas and I decide that maybe it’s a better use of my time to go ride the horse and then sew a quilt or work on a book. So I do that instead of writing the blog.

Then, later, as I’m drowsing off, the points come galloping back, demanding my attention. Granted, the sense of place in writing isn’t the only blog topic that wakes me up when I’m trying to drop off into sleep (or mugs me in the middle of a road ride), but sense of place in writing the topic I grabbed on today.

My recent visit to Portland slammed home hard that awareness of how I use sense of place when we went skiing. These days I don’t get up on the Mountain much, except to visit with my friend Phyllis or the occasional ski trip during the spring ski season. We’ve been holding out for the much less expensive spring ski passes the last couple of years, the ones that pay for themselves after two visits. Some years we go over Hood at least once during the summer to go back to Enterprise, or visit people in Bend before going to Enterprise, but last year wasn’t one of those times. So when we drove up the Mountain and we got into the big cedars near Tollgate Campground, I immediately had the flash of “This is Medvara” when I drove through that grove of old cedars around the rocky point protruding into the Zigzag River. Ever since I started working in the Goddess’s Honor world, that little section on Mount Hood has always been in the back of my mind when writing the Medvara sequences in the Goddess’s Honor books, just like the big Ponderosa pine forests bordering the great grassy ridgetop flats and deep river canyons of Wallowa country inspire the Keldara and Clenda settings.

That cedar grove has always meant Medvara, even when the nation had a different name. Alicira had a major confrontation with her nemesis Zauril there, nothing that’s been put into the books (yet). Further down the river is where Rekaré kills her father Zauril and becomes Medvara’s new Leader. Even though the grove had no influence or appearance in the new Goddess’s Honor book, Challenges of Honor, it’s still an influence.

Of course no one real-world inspiration of a fantasy world setting maps 100% on that fantasy world. Even authors working in realistic fiction with real-life settings will fudge small details of a location to make the story work, though less so than someone working in fantastic fiction. I’m no exception to that rule, though my sense of place can be a bit bizarre and weird when I’m putting together a story. While most of the settings in the first part of Pledges of Honor are drawn first from Northeastern Oregon/Southeastern Washington Wallowa/Palouse country, there’s one section with a hot spring that comes from a real-life hot spring visit in Southern Oregon many years ago, in similar rugged country. And the Dry Line is more than visible when you drive westward on Interstate 84 toward Portland, as you enter The Dalles.

The mosaic of place in the new Goddess’s Honor book, Challenges of Honor, is much more fragmented. While Challenges has some scenes in Keldara and Clenda, most of the action takes place in Medvara and then in the southern reaches of the Saubral lands between Medvara and Keldara. But most of the story takes place in Medvare-the-city, a location shaped not so much by places I’ve been as much as pictures. The Leader’s House in Medvara is a rambling edifice made of wood, with several wings and courtyards that probably owe something to McMenamin’s Edgefield Manor as much as anything else, perhaps with a nod to another McMenamin’s property, the Kennedy School. It has gardens (hello, Rose Test Garden and the Ladd’s Addition rose garden) and shrines as well as a Great Hall. Because it’s on the confluence of the Saktrin and Chellana Rivers, and Challenges is a summer book, it is hot, muggy, and smoky from forest fires (and I should have emphasized that element more but alas, I just don’t write summer settings well).

Then events take another swing, and we end up in a horseback pursuit through the sagebrush desert, culminating in a battle fought in a small river meadow at the bottom of a steep canyon. I recently made a trip down to the area that inspired that setting, and got several pictures of some of the settings as they would look in the spring. That said, I also found more settings that will be playing roles in future writings–not just in Goddess’s Honor but in my Oregon Country and other weird/alt-history Western fantasies.

I’ve tried to find an appropriate label for what I’m wanting to do with this world, because it’s definitely not classic faux-European setting. Ruling structures are one thing that I don’t want to play around with too much simply because those changes don’t fit the story I’m wanting to write. The settings, however, are flexible and fascinate me. I’ve been collecting settings and site impressions for years. They may not always come across in my writing, but I can travel somewhere that’s inspired a story and had that sudden sense of place–this is Medvara–flash across my awareness like driving through that grove the other day did.

Of all my works, I’d have to say that Goddess’s Honor is the one most driven by place impressions, with the Netwalk series running a close second (at least the early books). We’ll see what the books to come bring to the table.

I don’t know. What do you think?

Apologies for the shameless shilling below, but I’ve got more work coming out soon and book babies need pretty new covers!

Like my work and want to buy me a coffee? Ko-Fi link here: http://ko-fi.com/joycereynoldsward

New Releases Currently Available:

Fantasy:

Challenges of Honor: Change is coming eleven years after the events that transformed Katerin Healer into Katerin ea Miteal and catapulted Rekaré ea Miteal to the Leadership of Medvara. Katerin’s daughter Witmara grows stronger in magic while studying under Alicira, Katerin’s cousin and Rekaré’s mother. Rekaré struggles with her mixed feelings toward her leadership and her daughter Melarae. When a challenge to Rekaré arises from a recent Daran Empire exile, Chiral, as Alicira’s health fails, Katerin must choose between remaining obscure, or fully claim her role as a Miteal. The Seven Crowned Gods have their own agenda. What are the consequences of thwarting Chiral’s schemes, and why are the Gods meddling now? Katerin and Rekaré are faced with many challenging choices but not all are honorable—or wise.

Books to Read Universal Link: https://www.books2read.com/u/3L9PN7

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BYZZMSQ

Science Fiction:

Netwalk’s Children: NEW EDITION WITH NEW COVER! The mysterious war machine device known as the Gizmo is getting restless and trying to use Melanie’s daughter Bess and her nephew Richard as a means of escape from its confinement. Meanwhile, problems arise with potential rogue Netwalkers tied not just to Melanie’s past but to her parents and the original capture of the Gizmo. Can Melanie work with her estranged Netwalker grandmother Sarah as well as Bess to stop the Gizmo and deal with past shadows that threaten to dominate Bess’s future?

Books to Read Universal Link: https://www.books2read.com/u/b5nw63

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017UZE03A

Learning in Space: Bess and Alex: Bess Fielding and Alex Jeffreys are committed to a future in space with Bess’s family company, Do It Right. But that future comes with a steep learning curve in a place where the simplest mistake can be deadly…and not all those mistakes are naturally caused. Being a leader in new space technologies doesn’t stop sabotage from happening, however. As one of the leading production companies in space, Do It Right can be a target for the disgruntled and the ambitious. Nonetheless, Bess and Alex learn more about space and each other, until…good times come to an end….

Books to Read Universal Link: https://www.books2read.com/u/38gYVL

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077HDTPHP

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Well that was a week

An exhausting, at times exciting, but still tiring week. Husband had some eye appointments in Portland that bracketed the weekend, but there was enough stuff up in the air that I only could really plan one get-together with someone I’ve missed except for tiny grabs for the last few trips. It was probably a good thing I didn’t overplan the Portland time, as I ended up down flat sick from an allergic reaction to all the damn pollen. The same thing happened last year, and I had a less extreme reaction in March, so….yeah. I suspect this means that this is now a thing. On the other hand, I found a cromolyn sodium nasal spray and that’s really helping with things, much better than its steroidal cousin and much less harsh. So I now need to find someplace other than the Kaiser Pharmacy to buy it OTC.

We did spend two days skiing. The first day was lovely in spite of the stormy weather, and the second day was full of the heavy deep powder the Cascades is known for. Three runs and not only was my back done in but my knee was complaining. So we stopped. We’d considered skiing on our way home yesterday, but I was so tired and hurting that I determined it wasn’t a good idea. All the same, everything works really well on the slopes again. I’ve got my control back and I’m not struggling like I was so much of the time last year. I’m now thinking that everything I’m doing to address the lower back pain is paying off in this respect. Yay!

Then we spent two days hunting razor clams. OMG. Both days were hard clamming days. Lots of false shows to fake us out, which meant a LOT of digging. The first day wasn’t too bad as we were four clams shy of a full limit. The lot were amongst the biggest clams we’ve ever dug, though, consistently large. I found a medium-sized cockle on the beach, still alive, and claimed it. That day was also good for finding hermit crabs, a live snail, and sandpipers. At one point I stood still as the sandpipers scurried around me, several coming within five feet of me. Sweet.

It was also a lovely day for April on the Oregon Coast. Very light wind, sunny, and relatively warm. A good day to be down on the beach, but after the hard work clamming none of us felt like following up with fishing like we had planned.

The second day was tougher. We never did get any good clam shows, and ended up with just one limit between the three of us. It was another gorgeous warm day on the beach, though. Not as much bird action, nor did I find any crabs. My back ached so bad that I went back to the truck and brainstormed the latest rough draft work, including a quick sketch on a short story idea.

 

Then we packed up, went back to Portland, and headed back to Enterprise yesterday. Three short story ideas mugged me on the way back. I’m not sure why that part of my brain is waking up again–perhaps being finished with Netwalk, and two-thirds of the way through Goddess’s Honor is a factor? Dunno, but I’m not going to ignore it. I sketched the three stories out last night. They’re all tied to some other stories I’ve been working on, contemporary fantasy or Western fantasy.

And now for the first time in a week I’m not having to wake up and rush around to go somewhere. Later on today I’m going to introduce Miss Mocha to the wonderful world of saddlebags. But spring is erupting in Wallowa County and I’m itching to get on the front porch for a porch writing session. Ah. Lovely.

 

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Back on the planks again

So here I am at 60 years old and I’m still skiing. Of course, it wasn’t until I reached 60 that I had the experience of galloping a horse through snow…and let’s just say that I was going faster on Miss Mocha (her idea!) than I usually ski (well, except for going down the Magic Mile but the Mile is its own thing). I thought oldsters were supposed to slow down, but…maybe it’s time to scheme on a way to rig up a means to do skijoring with Mocha without a rider. PVC pipe and surcingle, I think…and lots of ground practice during the dry season.

Anyway.

Yesterday hubby and I finally took advantage of the sweet late-season skiing and went up to Timberline. Unlike last year, I could visualize my moves when watching ski movie clips. I felt stronger and had this suspicion that it was going to work out just fine….

….which it did.

It was a stormy day, with temperatures running right about freezing. The snow was a crisp mix of snow and ice, not that nasty can’t-get-a-grip ice but just enough to give the footing a crunch. It was wintry-mixing all the way through to our last run, where things changed from tolerable to full-scale misery with sharp icy drops cutting into the face and coating the glasses.

Glasses. Sigh. I cannot wear goggles with my current lenses. The lovely (NOT) opticians at Kaiser decided that despite my requests and the optometrist’s specific instructions to lower the bifocal line that we were both full of it and jammed the line into the usual spot (no, I do not wear progressives, progressives are NOT an option for me, they do not work so don’t waste your time advising me to try them out!!). As a result, I can’t wear any goggles because according to the opticians, I wear my glasses too low on my nose so that when I DO wear my goggles the lovely fucking bifocal line is halfway through my line of sight and I can’t see a damn thing clearly for my complete lower field of vision. Which is NOT acceptable for ski life and depth perception in an already-sketchy situation.

Oh well. Maybe I need yet another pair of glasses that are just single-vision distance glasses. Grrr.

On the other hand, my feet worked very nicely. I have spent the last year working a combination of massage/chiropractic/foot and back massagers/acupuncture to try to get my feet back in shape and minimize my lower back pain issues. Yesterday proved that I’m on the right path. My stiff Dalbellos went on my feet securely and while I had the usual “ouch ouch ouch” while starting up, I worked through them and was able to control what my feet were doing…which meant I could control my skis, and my hips, and yes. Lovely, lovely glides and turns. No fighting and struggling.

It also helped that I took the skis in for a professional tune. They desperately needed edging. My wax skills are pretty decent for the level of skiing we do, but edging…um…not ready to go there.

We made five runs on Stormin’ Norman. Between skiing out there and the runs, that was close to about five miles skied. Five runs that were gorgeous, wonderful, and…yeah.

A lovely late beginning to the ski year. Going back up tomorrow, and then maybe Friday on our way back to Enterprise, depending on how sore my back is after two days of clam digging and surf fishing. Yay.

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Happy Book Day, CHALLENGES OF HONOR!

And it’s here! Challenges of Honor is now available!  Here’s the details:

What challenges from the Gods are honorable…and right…to accept?

Change is coming eleven years after the events that transformed Katerin Healer into Katerin ea Miteal and catapulted Rekaré ea Miteal to the Leadership of Medvara. Katerin’s daughter Witmara grows stronger in magic while studying under Alicira, Katerin’s cousin and Rekaré’s mother. Rekaré struggles with her mixed feelings toward her leadership and her daughter Melarae. When a challenge to Rekaré arises from a recent Daran Empire exile, Chiral, as Alicira’s health fails, Katerin must choose between remaining obscure, or fully claim her role as a Miteal. The Seven Crowned Gods have their own agenda. What are the consequences of thwarting Chiral’s schemes, and why are the Gods meddling now? Katerin and Rekaré are faced with many challenging choices but not all are honorable—or wise.

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BYZZMSQ

Also on Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and others (Books2Read Universal link here): https://draft2digital.com/book/320484

I started the Goddess’s Honor series after reading one too many fantasy novels set in a quasi-medieval European setting with yet again too many men and not enough strong women in leadership roles. I also wanted to examine what happens in a world driven by magic when the Gods overseeing it go to war against each other. At what point do the humans affected by the divine war step in and say “enough!”? Additionally, I wanted to write fantasy based in places I live and love, not partially visualized generic settings from a part of the world that my family hasn’t lived in for over two hundred years. Goddess’s Honor is loosely set in the Columbia Plateau and Willamette Valley environs with the Great River Chellana running through the lands of Keldara, Clenda, and Medvara. Magic comes from the land and manifests not just through human spells but in special breeds of horses, sheep, and plant species.

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Lagging and accountability

I’m getting really annoyed with myself. For some reason I keep struggling with getting stuff done, especially with my ambitious marketing and writing plans. Things just seem to take longer and…well, it’s all probably just my ADHD getting in my way. I hadn’t thought about that aspect until I read a friend’s comment and lists of projects in motion and her surmise that maybe she was being a bit ADHD about it all, and then I went…oh. Yeah. Maybe that’s the reason. But still….

Some of this is also due to changes in online culture. Ten years ago, I was following a lot more blogs with writer metrics. Jay Lake, Elizabeth Bear, and others. The continual discussion of writing metrics and writing goals really helped keep me focused. Now…well, it’s all on Facebook, and for some reason I just don’t find what I read there to be inspirational. Perhaps not having a regular daily job is also a factor. I just don’t know.

Blogging is one area which is really suffering. I have a list of ambitious blog projects that I want to do, commentary about writing and the intersection of writing and politics. Maybe I need to post a monthly or weekly accounting of active projects, what progress I’m making, and so on. Not the daily word count metric–though I may resort to that at some point just to jump-start everything.

It may also be the mood of the current era. On the other hand, I blogged regularly throughout the Bush era, so maybe I just need to take myself in hand and do some accountability measures. Okay. So perhaps I’ll do that right now. What I’m trying to do right now is clear the deck of half-finished projects so that I don’t have them hanging over my head.

Planned Book Releases for 2018 and current progress

Challenges of Honor–due for release this month, needs formatting for ebooks and hard copy, blurb and MS size to cover designer, promotion plans needed. Planning to do some work on it today. Epic fantasy.

Klone’s Stronghold–in rough draft, about 58k words, needs to be FINISHED this week to stay on schedule. Purchase cover, write blurb, prepare promotion plan, anticipated June 2018 release. Contemporary fantasy.

Bearing Witness–in rough draft, about 30k words, needs to be finished in May but is a short novel. Purchase cover, write blurb, prepare promotion plan, anticipated July 2018 release. Western fantasy/Weird West.

Seeking Shelter expansion and revision–Revise and expand book that I’ve gotten the rights back from the publisher. Notes made for revision, about 30k new words needed. Purchase cover, prepare promotion plan, anticipated August 2018 release. Apocalyptic/cli-fi sf.

Federation Cowboy–in rough draft, about 20k words. Purchase cover, write blurb, prepare promotion plan, anticipated October 2018 release. Space opera with futuristic cowboys and sentient nonhuman beings uniting to defeat the Plasmid invasion.

Ski Days–Compilation of ski blog posts. Need to edit and write introductory material. Cover, blurb, promotion plan. Anticipated November 2018 release. Memoir.

 

Sounds ambitious but these projects have been on the table for a while. It’s time to get them cleared out so I can focus on THESE projects:

Oregon Country–What if John McLoughlin, fur trappers, Native Americans, and non-missionary whites banded together to form Oregon as its own anti-slavery country in the pre-Civil War era? With magic and unicorns, somewhat of a wish fulfillment about what should have happened in the Pacific Northwest. One of my rare male protagonists. Weird West.

Choices of Honor–Last book in the primary Goddess’s Honor trilogy. Epic fantasy.

Becoming Solo–Sewing, witchcraft, and coming of age. Urban fantasy.

Rust and Flame–Secret supernatural warfare that has been happening in and around humans for years, warring groups brought together by an outside threat that endangers supernaturals and humans alike. Urban fantasy.

Alice Mary/Coyote–A virus turns some children into superheroes, which is not widely accepted by society at large. Some short stories already published in this world. Urban fantasy.

Star Shepherds–Far future extension of Netwalk Sequence world. Humans partnered with alien entities to battle a mutual threat.

All this can change depending upon what happens with sales…..or if I get hijacked by a really good new idea.

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