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Month: February 2014

The Way of the Walnut

Posted in A Writer's Desk

Our busy concert performer
Our busy concert performer

Many writers like to speak at length about the music playlist they use when they write, different tunes for different moods, and so forth. I thought I should tell you about mine.

As I've mentioned before, we live in a log cabin (with an addition) that was built in 1812 out of big heavy squared-off logs. The bottom floor is stone, built into a bank. This was our hunting cabin/vacation home, but now it's fulltime.

There's a big room upstairs with paneling on the inside instead of bare logs, and one stretch of that, where a doorway was cut through the logs to give access to the addition, has something that lives within the walls, between the paneling and the logs. Well, actually, lots of things live within the walls, if you count the black snakes that come in to check out the mouse population. We don't bother them, and they don't bother us.

Anyway, we think this particular pest is a red squirrel (though we've never seen it). It has a walnut — plenty of black walnut trees around the farm. walnut-sketch1-200It's very fond of this walnut. It rolls the walnut all around this one stretch of wall, driving 3 cats, 2 dogs, and 2 humans absolutely nuts (so to speak). Then it gnaws on it. Loudly. At all hours. Where it's nice and warm, out of the snow.

So instead of iTunes, think of me with this constant, subliminal, walnut-rolling-around-inside-wall noise whenever I write. This has been going on for way more than one rodent's lifetime, so it must be passed from mother to daughter, down through the generations.

I just glanced outside and saw three separate black walnuts placed along the 2nd floor porch's banister rails. This is clearly a cache that the squirrel has forgotten about. For now. If it collects a few more, it can release an album.

Sigil for Torch & Scroll

Posted in Artwork, and Structures of Earth

Torch and Scroll Sigil
My first series, The Hounds of Annwn, uses a sigil that represents Antler Sigilthe entire series: the red deer antlers of Cernunnos. You see it inside the books, on the title pages and at the end, as a sort of frame for the stories.

Now Jake Bullock, my cover artist, has come up with a sigil representing the dying wizard guild for my new series, The Affinities of Magic. Each guild has a specialty and an emblem.

The guild that specializes in overall research, sort of the R&D arm of the guilds, is in terrible shape and has almost died out. Its once-proud symbol, Torch & Scroll, bears the nickname Ashes & Dust. The guild hall itself has been shut down and the few folk left are huddled in the servants' quarters.

But there are some who are determined to raise this guild from the dust and ashes and to revolutionize the understanding and practice of magic. Stay tuned for their stories…

You can see more of Jake's work here.

Submitting stories to magazines

Posted in Science Fiction, and Second Sight

Second Sight - Full Front Cover - WidgetI recently finished a science fiction short story that I haven't told you all about because, for the first time, I'm submitting it to magazines and online periodicals to see if someone would like to buy it. If I'm successful you'll hear all about it. If no one has a place for it at this time, Perkunas Press will publish it. You can find out more about it here.

Either way, it will take several months. In general you can only submit to one venue at a time, so it can take many weeks or months before you reach a venue that wants it. Then they will not publish it right away, and when they do they will want exclusivity for it for a few months. If I am not successful with the submission, Perkunas Press will publish the story in the usual way and I'll announce it here, otherwise I'll let people know where they can buy it, and then Perkunas Press will publish it after the exclusivity period runs out.

I'll be doing more of this over time, especially for short stories that are either not part of a series or that can stand alone. It's a new experience for me. Short stories don't sell in great quantity, but if a magazine buys one, that changes the financial result dramatically. It's also just about the only way that an author-publisher can be part of the consideration for the genre and category awards that are such a major part of fantasy and science fiction. Finding out exactly what the magazine editors want will be a learning exercise all by itself.

Final edits for Bound into the Blood

Posted in Bound into the Blood, and The Hounds of Annwn

Bound into the Blood - Full Front Cover - WidgetI finished the first draft of Bound into the Blood, book 4 of The Hounds of Annwn, a couple of weeks ago and set it aside to ripen. It always helps to wait a couple of weeks before doing the editing — gives you a chance to approach it more like a fresh reader.

Since I write near-final first drafts, with all the loose ends tied up, the editing process is more of a copyedit and proofread set of activities which proceed in a certain order.

First I run the manuscript through Autocrit, scene by scene. This helps me identify repeated words, in particular, and cliches. It's depressing how often when writing that you come up with just the perfect word and then, one paragraph (or even one sentence) later, you decide to use it again. Must have something to do with it being fresh within your mind. A mechanical editor tool like Autocrit is invaluable for reducing this problem — it sees things the human mind ignores (“the the” is always a favorite).

I fix any loose ends that might remain (I make notes of them in each scene as I write). Then I format the book for ebook and print BEFORE I proofread it. It's much easier to proofread something if it looks different — bigger font, different wraparound locations, whatever it takes. I read through it relatively quickly, for feel (and typos), then I go back and read through it slowly for typos. I typically find 30-50 errors at this point, so one more read-through is always a good idea.

I toss a version round about this time to my husband, but I'm usually done before he finishes reading. Still, I incorporate his finds, too.

I expect the book will be up for sale in about two weeks (or sooner). I'll announce availability as soon as it's up — first to my newsletter subscribers, and then here on the blog.