Friday, July 29, 2016

Where I am now

First, the physical. As in where I am literally. That would be in Canada. In Mt. Tremblant to be precise. We've traveled up here for a few days so my husband can drive like a maniac on the racetrack while I enjoy the solitude and a rented house with wifi. And, of course, the croissants.

Original cover art, copyright 2016 Chris Howard

Next, an update as to the state of my publishing life. 3 years ago, I co-edited a passion project - an anthology of SF&F stories written by fellow graduates of Jeff Carver and Craig Shaw Gardner's Ultimate Science Fiction Writing Workshop. Pen-Ultimate was a wonderful collection to work on and we chose a workshop model to produce it and decided to donate the proceeds to the SFWA emergency medical fund.

About a year after it was published, we decided to produce a follow up. Pen-Ultimate II took longer than I had anticipated, partly because of some chaotic and stressful personal life events during its development, partly because I was so busy with my personal writing. But, at long last, my co-editor (Talib S. Hussain) was able to keep me on track and we completed the manuscript.

Pen-Ultimate II contains stories by 12 authors, spanning the gamut from fantasy to science fiction to the just plain weird and as with the prior volume, all proceeds will be donated to the SFWA emergency medical fund.

You can purchase it in any of these venues (BN, iBooks, and print forthcoming):
Google Play

The novels of Halcyone Space

And finally, an update on my own writing. Just about 2 months ago, DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE was released. Not only has it been selling well, sales of all three books in the series have been selling consistently as well - enough so that this latest book has earned back its production expenses in about 6 weeks and enough so that all three books have remained on the top 10 best sellers on one of Amazon's sub-categories of SF books.

As of this week, it's time to get some serious writing done on the as yet unnamed book 4 in the Halcyone Space series.

It is actually fitting that I am here in Mt. Tremblant, starting a new project. It was here, in 2004, where I started my first novel - also while on family holiday. While that one is (and will remain!) safely 'trunked', there is something comforting about the cycle of my writing life. Nearly all my novels have started in the summer. Last year, DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE came into being on the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont at a dear friend's summer home.

As I type this, a cup of coffee is cooling next to my laptop. The house is silent. I have nothing to distract me. The last time I sat down to draft words on a shiny, new project was quite some months ago. I have been in editing and production mode for what feels like a long while. I feel 'out of writing shape.' My mind is far too cluttered.

Even as I crave the focus of new words and new story, I fear I have forgotten how to begin. I have to remind myself that this, too, is familiar. And I am not starting with nothing. The characters of Halcyone Space are old friends. Old friends who have been patiently (and not so patiently) waiting for me to return.



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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

There will be a test later. . .

Time to get to work!

So on June 1, 2016, DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE, Halcyone Space book 3 was released into the world. I am so grateful for the early readers who have bought it and loved it. It's also been exciting to see a new group of readers joining the world of Halcyone Space, starting with book 1.

For much of the past 6 weeks, I've been appearing here and there, hither and yon, on the blogs of writers and colleagues. Here is a complete list of all of my gracious hosts and the posts I wrote for their online homes.

And yes, there will be a test.

Rather, a scavenger hunt of sorts.

With prizes.

Stay tuned!




















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Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Back to the Garden: Introversion and the Writer

Circa 2005: Dog and child, reading

There are two phases in the process of creation. And I'm not talking about terror and despair.

(Though those are definitely phases any creator will recognize all too well.)

No, I'm talking about the introvert phase and the extrovert phase of the creative process.

Is it any wonder that creating — and writing in my case — calls to the introverted? During the drafting process, I get to withdraw into a world of my own creation. Where the rules make sense. When I was a child, I spent much of my waking life immersed in the universe of one story or another. When you become the author of that story, it is so much sweeter than that. And while I still function in the external world, its demands are somehow less strident, less intrusive because of the internal world — a beautiful secret garden that belongs to me and me alone. 

That incredible nurturing phase can't last forever. Not if you want your work to be enjoyed by others. And so the introverted creator must open the gates to her secret garden and let strangers in. Some will carefully walk the winding path she has laid out among the flowers. Others will trample their way across it. That is what the extrovert phase feels like. The part of the process when the work becomes public. And not only do you need to let strangers in, you need to seek them out and convince them to enter. For the career introvert, this is extremely difficult and draining.

I hadn't thought about it in that way until this morning, when I woke up soaked in sweat and in full-on anxiety mode. It's been a little over a month since the release of DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE  and for most of the past 3 months, I've been focused on the launch. And while I'm not someone who is very comfortable with self-promotion, I've been able to complete a 6 week long blog tour and in the process write nearly 20,000 words of unique posts and interview answers.

What I haven't done is focus on any fiction. 

I was managing to stay (mostly) focused and stay (mostly) positive—despite the fact that publication is the extrovert phase of the creative process and I am most decidedly an introvert—until my dog became ill. Even then, I created a new routine, fitting in her meds and cooking meals for her around writing blogposts and boosting the signal about them on social media.

And then the cancer got the better of her and she couldn't breathe, despite the meds, despite the care. On Friday evening, we made the wrenching choice to take her to the vet to be euthanized. It was then I crashed. Hard.

All weekend, I drifted, both physically and emotionally. My reservoir of spoons is depleted. And tomorrow I will start 3 1/2 days of extreme extroversion during my participation at Readercon.

What I really want to do is barricade myself into a new garden until the world makes sense to me again. I feel the pull of needing to write something new and something that belongs (for now) to me, alone. That won't happen this week and maybe not in the next few weeks, but it will happen.

For now, I will hold to the hope and knowledge that the garden is waiting for me.



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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Where to find me: Readercon Edition

This coming weekend, I'll be attending Readercon, one of the Boston area's annual SF&F cons. What sets Readercon apart is its focus on the literary aspects of speculative fiction and its highly thoughtful panels.

I am pleased to be on program again this year, participating in a variety of interesting discussions. If you're in the Boston area and have a love of speculative fiction, I highly recommend it.

Here are the panels/schedule items I'll be taking part in across the weekend:

Thursday July 07  

9:00 PM   
Futurism's Blind Spot. LJ Cohen, F. Brett Cox (leader), Robert Killheffer, J.M. Sidorova, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry.
SF likes to think of itself as a predictive literature, but it frequently fixates on technological change, fitting it into an existing or familiar social structure. SF tends to miss sociological change like more women in the workplace, queerness becoming public and accepted, or the increase in single parent families. In fact, hints in these directions are often considered dystopian. Why does SF focus on tech and superficial change more than deep sociological change? Is it harder to see how people and societies change than how gadgets do?

Friday July 08  

1:00 PM   
Why Women Become Protagonists . Gwenda Bond, LJ Cohen, Rosemary Kirstein, Hillary Monahan, Navah Wolfe.
In a 2015 essay about portrayals of female protagonists in crime fiction, Sara Paretsky writes, "Detectives like V.I. came to life in a time of bravado, when my peers and I... wrote out of a kind of cockiness: we're doing a job because we want it, we like the work, no one can stop us. Today, the female hero often has been brutally assaulted... or suffered some other form of serious trauma. It's as if the only acceptable reason for a woman to embrace the investigative life is to recover from damage, or get revenge for it—not because she takes pleasure in the work, and comes to it as a free spirit." Let's explore the reasons that female protagonists decide to protag, and discuss the many ways to motivate them other than assault and trauma.

8:00 PM 
Reading: Lisa Cohen. LJ Cohen. Lisa Cohen reads an excerpt from Dreadnought and Shuttle, Halcyone Space book 3. 

Saturday July 09 

12:00 PM  
Red Planet Rover, Red Planet Rover, Will Humans Come Over?  LJ Cohen, Jeff Hecht, Jim Kelly, Sioban Krzywicki (leader), Ian Randal Strock.
With talk of private space flight and one-way trips to Mars, is any of it really likely? Is it achievable in the near future? Is there any real demand and is it possible to ensure it isn't only for the fantastically wealthy? What would it take to make Mars a round trip, even if it is a very, very long layover? We're discovering that the void of space is far more hostile to humans than we'd thought; can problems like radiation, weghtlessness, and boredom be solved for the near future?

2:00 PM   
Autographs. LJ Cohen, Matt Kressel.   

Sunday July 10  

10:00 AM   
Which Book Would You Save?. LJ Cohen, James Morrow, Kate Nepveu (leader), Tom Purdom, Eric Schaller. 
 In Ray Bradbury's introduction to the authorized adaptation graphic novel of Fahrenheit 451 he says, "Finally, may I suggest that anyone reading this introduction should take the time to name the one book that he or she would most want to memorize and protect from any censors or 'firemen.' And not only name the book, but give the reasons why they would wish to memorize it and why it would be a valuable asset to be recited and remembered in the future. I think this would make for a lively session when my readers meet and tell the books they named and memorized, and why." Our panelists will respond to this prompt and tell us what texts have been so influential/inspiring (inside and outside genre) that they would go to extensive lengths to subvert a world of censorship.

You can also often find me at the Broad Universe table in the dealer's room, where my novels will be for sale.


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