Saturday, June 30, 2018

"Soul Medley" purchased by ASM!

Squeak!  Andromeda Spaceways Magazine has just accepted my story "Soul Medley" for publication roundabouts September!  This has been a goal market for a while, so I'm a little verklempt.

This story is filled with references to Irish music and its famous traditional composer, Turlough O'Carolan.  It's also one of the few tales I've written that incorporates a harper as a main character.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

"Before Their Time" forthcoming!

I just sold my fantasy short story "Before Their Time" to Outposts of Beyond! This is the first (... by writing order, at least ...) story about time traveling mage Ishene and her bodyguard Kemel.
Expected publication in April of 2019.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Song Styles

On my Scylla and Charybdis soundtrack / playlist, I have a few songs that don't relate to specific characters, relationships or moments in the story.  This is one of those, perhaps not accurate in any particular detail, but emotionally relevant:

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wednesday Wanderings

A few weeks ago, I participated in a "post 10 books that impacted your life" activity.  Among the novels and fairytale / mythology compilations (D'aulaires' Book of Greek Myths was my childhood), I posted two nonfiction books.  One was Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess, which was my first real baking book:  luxurious, accessible, described with Nigella's inimitable sense of humor and flavorful flare.

The other?  GURPS:  Basic Set (Third Edition).

GURPS stands for Generic Universal RolePlaying System, and it was the first RPG that I really latched onto.  The advantage of GURPS was that it allowed for storylines in a wide variety of genres and even allowed those to cross over.  Some of the terminology sticks with me, too:  one of the balance factors used to, for instance, allow a Roman legionnaire and space pirate to interact was the concept of tech level.  Tech level was an umbrella description for the technological/scientific advancement of a particular world (historical area / region / planet / etc).  Characters from settings with a lower tech level got extra points to compensate for their handicap.

My memory of timelines is a little fuzzy, so I can't swear the small collection of old D&D books I purchased didn't pre-date GURPS, but it was definitely the first system that I took out into the world.  I created characters across a wide variety of imaginary realms.  I created weeks-long adventures and campaigns for friends, who soon discovered I had no poker face whatsoever and would make predictions about what was going to happen next and then watch my expression.  Not fair, y'all.

I remember very clearly during the early phases of one adventure that I got a long email from one of my players explaining why she thought one of the NPCs (non-player characters - in other words, one of the cast I controlled) could not be trusted.  I was so stoked by the amount of thought she put into it.  It was one of my best moments as a GM (GameMaster).  Heck, it was one of my best moments as a writer, which probably doesn't say much for my writing career ...

In any event, my stint with GURPS launched me into years of online roleplaying games, where I made friends, honed my writing craft in a social venue, and goofed off.  I would occasionally generate writing characters with GURPS, but I eventually moved away from it because the system was *too* flexible and too close to narrative.  I preferred to use the artificial strictures of RPG character generation to suggest possibilities and/or force me to think about things in a different way.

Another aspect of GURPS that has come in handy as a writer is their sourcebooks are very well researched (where relevant) and nicely thought out.  I've been known to use the guidelines in GURPS:  Religion for the mythos of a new world.  GURPS:  Faerie, with its broad overview of common fairy legends and attributes, provided me a great jumping off point for research.  ... and just for fun, GURPS:  Grimoire introduces one to sorcery such as the "Guns To Butter" and "Transfer Pregnancy" spells ...

I'd never suggest the sourcebooks as a substitute for research, but they offer a solid starting point, and more than that:  they're geared for those trying to tell stories with the elements they feature.  Shameless plug over.

I've done one more fun thing with the system more recently.  I took the master skill list and, using a random number generator, selected four or five to give to character(s).  Explaining this bizarre assortment, and my trying to figure out a plot that would utilize each skill, led to the story Waterways.  In Waterways, immersion in the sacred waters puts a person in touch with ancestors and allows them to access past skills ... only with the city under occupation, things haven't gone quite as intended.

Waterways was fun to write, but I don't think I'm done with this concept.  We'll see where it leads in the future.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Jennifer Lee Rossman's Anachronism!

Today, I'm hosting - somewhat belatedly! - a fellow Grimbold Books / Kristell Ink author and her shiny novella.  Take it away, Jennifer:


Hello! My name is Jennifer Lee Rossman, and  I'm celebrating the release of my first novella, ANACHRONISM, available from Kristell Ink, an imprint of Grimbold Books!

It's the same old story: Time traveler meets girl, time traveler tells girl she's the future president, time traveler and girl go on a road trip to prevent a war...

Petra Vincent is at the end of her rope - or rather, the edge of a bridge. Her world is falling apart around her and she sees no way out of the meaningless existence the future has in store. But when
stranded time traveler Moses Morgan tells her that she will one day lead the country out of the rubble of a nuclear civil war as President of the United States, she's intrigued - and when another time traveler starts trying to preemptively assassinate her, she realizes Moses might be telling the truth...

Anachronism is a time-traveling, adventure-filled novella with a whole bagful of danger, twists, and snarky banter.

Jennifer Lee Rossman is a science fiction geek from Oneonta, New York. When she isn't writing, she cross stitches, watches Doctor Who, and threatens to run over people with her wheelchair.

Her work has been featured in several anthologies and her novel, Jack Jetstark's Intergalactic Freakshow, will be published by World Weaver Press in 2019. You can find her blog at and Twitter at

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads, granddads, step-dads, foster dads, adoptive dads, going-to-be-a-dads, pet dads (even the ones who claim they're just putting up with the dog) and other paternal units I may have forgotten!

May you have an amazing day filled with whatever good things you wish.

Since it's Sunday, the day of my scheduled song post, I wanted to post one about dads, and at first I came up empty.  Then I remembered this:

I'll Go Too - Carrie Newcomer

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Song Styles

On my playlist for Scylla and Charybdis is this song, which for me is a touchstone for the backstory between Anaea and Orithia.  It addresses Anaea's introvert nature, that need to just be by herself, even when it costs:

Free - Sarah Brightman

(As an aside, Googling "Free Sarah Brightman" made me giggle.  I don't know where she'd be restrained or why, but I am up for it.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Wednesday Wanderings

Between work, wine class, and the wearing of seasonal allergies, I haven't felt as if I've gotten much done on the writing, but I've actually made a good amount of progress on my projects.

In my final editing pass for Journal of the Dead, one of my main goals was adding a series of scenes, expanding on the characters outside the context of the investigation.  I went back and forth on one scene in particular.  It's a conversation that Iluenn has with Suitha, the wife of one of the victim's political rivals (and a suspect herself).  It touches upon Iluenn's romantic relationship and raises a lot of questions about its - and her - future.  In the manuscript as it stood, the dialogue occurs off stage.

And did I really need to include it?  Iluenn talks about it to the narrator, Vil, which means the reader sees its impact; and Vil is on the run at this point in time, which makes setting her up to eavesdrop logistically eavesdrop.  Also, pure laziness:  it was going to be a difficult scene to write.

But finally, I decided that on balance, I needed the scene.  It was engrossing to write.  It almost made me late to work one morning.  And in the end, I think it was well worth the writing.  It gives the reader a much better understanding of Suitha.  Hopefully, it both makes her more sympathetic and more suspicious at the same time.

I also started writing "Reputation Precedes," the short story whose brainstorming process I shared on this blog a few weeks ago, and have been editing "She Loves Me Not," a humorous take on the fairytale The Flower Queen's Daughter.  The story does a lot of lampshading and stream of consciousness humor, which takes a lot of verbiage.  My primary goal in editing right now is to whittle it below ten thousand words.

Finally, I'm closing in on the end of Surgeburnt.  I just finished writing the final flashback scene.  The whole novel has been written in two timelines:  the present, and the events that led up to the novel's first lines.  The latter is out of order, though (to save my sanity and the reader's) smaller arcs within the storyline are shown in sequence.  The novel begins with the narrator having sold out her friends to save their lives, and until now - this last past-scene - the reader doesn't know exactly what happened.

And now?

You'll have to read it.  Some day!

GoodReads Review: The Woman Who Heard Color - Kelly Jones

The Woman Who Heard ColorThe Woman Who Heard Color by Kelly Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(This isn't an SF/F book, but I thought it would be of interest to genre readers, too.)

When art detective Lauren O'Farrell enters the home of Isabella Fletcher, she hopes to tease out information about her mother's activities as an art dealer in Nazi Germany, but she finds herself drawn into a much deeper story.

The novel is primarily from the point of view of Hanna, but includes chapters from Lauren's point of view as Isabella tells the story as she knows it ... and early on, the reader sees hints that are parts of the story, sometimes huge parts, that Isabella never learned. This becomes important as the novel develops.

And Hanna has an unusual attribute: she hears colors (and also sees sounds - as someone who has been studying synesthesia, it's worth noting that bi-directional versions are *very* rare). This helps to foster her lifelong love of art, something which carries her deep into the web of Hitler's attempts to cleanse the art world.

It's a disturbing, often intense journey with some great personal moments, snapshots of Hanna's life. But because it is a life story, much of the tale is summarized, and some of the events that were glossed over, I thought lessened the impact - including huge ones like the birth of a child. Her husband's proposal is even told in flashback. Obviously, there's no way the story could include everything, or the book would be twice as long (as it's already pretty hefty). But I don't really agree with all of Jones' choices for tradeoffs.

Another disappointment is for a book about art, from the point of view of someone with unusual perceptions, the text is very prosaic. I expected the prose itself to be more artistic. It's solid, but with few flourishes. The style doesn't match the subject matter.

That said, I thought it was an enjoyable read. The character of Lauren isn't particularly complex, but she's interesting enough to sympathize with. The novel has a strong arc rife with conflicts, and the conclusion is satisfying. Recommended.

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Song Styles

So I think we all have songs that have personal meaning:  associated with particular moments in our lives, pep talks, and if you're a writer, associated with characters - that's what this weekly post is usually about, in fact.

I do have a number of songs I consider inspirational, a shot in the arm when I'm running low ... but I also do have one song for the opposite, that tells me to slow down and chill out.  It's the first two minutes of this:

Dancing Through Life - Wicked Soundtrack