sartorias: (Default)
Today is release day for REBEL, the third in [personal profile] rachelmanija's and my dystopian YA series, The Change.

The first draft was actually done in 2015, but Rachel got quite ill, and only recently has begun to recover, and so we're back in the saddle. We're hoping to get TRAITOR (which is pretty much writing itself) out this year, too, fingers crossed.

In the meantime, here is this one, which has plenty of action bits, but is really a character book. There are actually several 'rebels' and not all of them are obvious. We also get outside of Las Anclas, which was such fun for us to invent.

As always, I encourage anyone interested in buying it to consider Book View Cafe first, as it's far the better deal for us, but here are the links to the main biggies. It's also at Kobo and iTunes.

Book View Cafe | Kindle | Nook | trade paperback
sartorias: (handwritten books)
Con or Bust offer:

At last, book three of The Change is coming out in mid-May. We will be sending a personalized copy to the winner of the auction.

view and comment on the post there.

SmithSher_Brown_Rebel_133x200_Final

Welcome back to Las Anclas, a frontier town in the post-apocalyptic Wild West. In this perilous landscape, a schoolboy can create earthquakes, poisonous cloud vipers flock in the desert skies, and the beaches are stalked by giant mind-controlling lobsters.

The tyrant king Voske has been defeated, but all is not peaceful in Las Anclas. Ross’s past comes back to haunt him, Jennie struggles with her new career, Mia faces her fears, Felicite resorts to desperate measures to keep her secrets, Kerry wonders if Las Anclas has really seen the last of her father, and shy Becky Callahan may hold the key to a dangerous mystery.

In Rebel, long-held secrets of past and present are revealed, family ties can strangle as well as sustain, and the greatest peril threatening Las Anclas comes from inside its walls.
sartorias: (handwritten books)
Sharing this! If anyone wants to respond, either here or there. (spoilery post on previous rock.)

Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija at AMA (Ask Me Anything) about the Change series! (Non-spoilery post)
In honor of the upcoming release of Rebel (Book 3).

Ask me anything about the series, the characters, the world, etc. Sherwood will be popping in too!

This post allows spoilers for Stranger but not Hostage. There is a spoilery post which allows spoilers for both books that are out now.

Ask questions here in this post!

Crossposted to http://rachelmanija.dreamwidth.org/1289231.html. Comment here or there.
sartorias: (handwritten books)
Sharing this! If anyone wants to respond, either here or there. (non spoilery post coming next.)

Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija at AMA (Ask Me Anything) about the Change series! (Spoilery post)
In honor of the upcoming release of Rebel (Book 3).

Ask me anything about the series, the characters, the world, etc. Sherwood will be popping in too!

This post allows spoilers for both Stranger and Hostage.

Crossposted to http://rachelmanija.dreamwidth.org/1289627.html. Comment here or there.
sartorias: (handwritten books)
For Audible members only (which I'm not, therefore I can't access it), I'm told that Crown Duel is part of their two for one sale, through tomorrow. I also haven't had time to listen to the audio book yet, so I don't know how it sounds. But I figured, a deal is a deal!

My own "Two" in Two for One is that today's post is about Viable Paradise, but also about workshopping in general.
sartorias: (handwritten books)
Feel free to pass right on by, since this post is not me looking out at the world so much as me looking at my desk. Specifically having finished a 225 k book, wrapping a series, and setting up the next. This is the last of the ones that has scenes written fifty years ago. Incorporating those into new material has been such a learning experience.

There's also the emotional drain after going some really, really dark places. I wonder if I was able to finish because of profound depression after the disaster of the stolen, manipulated election (in which enough people found reason to vote for Donald Trump, something I cannot understand. I do understand conservatives wanting to put a halt on what they consider too much change too fast, though I don't agree when it comes to certain social freedoms, but I can't understand anyone believing a word out of the mouth of that man, and not seeing that he's a narcissistic liar, a spoiled, petulant emotional sixteen year old who, give power, will be very dangerous. To us, ordinary citizens. Not to the rich, or his kleptocrat allies).

But this entire series is about the struggle against the dark side of human nature, so, well, there it is. Now, of course, to find out if I did what I set out to do, or committed boring, confusing hogwash. Force aside, art, like leadership, lies in the minds of willing participants.

The thing I realized this morning while lying in bed listening to sweet rain outside the open windows, is that this kind of emotional drain is addictive, unlike the emotional drain of disasters and pain. It's always been that way, clear back when I drew out stories in comic book form. The only high that gets higher is when a story writes itself. But those can't be commanded--if they arise at all, they spring fully formed from the murk, a miracle. Learning how to pull stuff out of the murk and shape it, like learning how to revise, is a different kind of high, one I've only been sort of kind of getting a hold on these past twenty years. Peril and pitfall of being visually oriented, maybe. Maybe.

So! On to the next, of which huge chunks exist. I might try piecing it out on Scrivener--I really want to learn to make it work for me. But it's been such a struggle. I want my tools to be instantly usable, and I've been batting at this one off and on for a couple of years.
sartorias: (drawing the drawing the drawing)
Feel free to skip since I'm going to talk about myself, rather than things I see in the world.

First, in my slow indie publishing trickle, Lhind the Spy has a print form, a very pretty one, thanks to some fellow BVC volunteer laborers.

For those to whom I said "end of the year" for the publication of Rebel, third of the Change series, that is being pushed back a bit while my writing partner struggles with severe health challenges that the medical community either is puzzled by, mis-diagnoses, or consistently and depressingly dismisses with a "go see a psychologist." Though my partner is already a therapist. Too many women, I find, get that easy dismissal when their physical problem doesn't immediately tick any boxes.

But the book is written, it just needs her pass before we go to copyedit and trundle it through the production end. (That actually ought to go fast if she can get enough somewhat pain free days in which to work--we have a cover, and I have two good copyedit and proof volunteers standing by, with whom I've traded work.)

Everything else has slowed as I dealt with bouts of depression, some of which has been triggered by November's disaster, and some by sharp awareness of various inadequacies; it's hard to say "I'll improve when I grow up" when one is in her mid-sixties. Ongoing projects have stagnated or been slow at the typing end, but I've been doing necessary stuff at the tectonic level, one might say.

I see myself as a perfect example of the career one should never have, as I've made every stupid mistake it's possible to make, added to the fact that I couldn't fight my own brain, that is, get past the intensity of visual image to see what I was actually writing, until I was way past fifty. So I expect by the time I get to be any good (assuming pub dates even happen to small fry like me) I'll be too old, or dead.

But until then, writing is still my greatest joy, seconded by my close family, reading*, music, good food, the fascinating world. So there it is, another year, and little to show for it, but a year fully lived anyway, with all its jets of happiness, sharp griefs, shared laughter, wonder, yes, and anger.

*for the first time ever, I'm going to add in television. TV for me is usually something I do when on the exercise bike, or when my eyes are too tired for reading, but Nirvana in Fire was too monumental an experience to be categorized with the usual sense of mild entertainment.
sartorias: (Exordium)
You know, I'm pushing 65, but old habits die hard. I am allowed to talk about MY stuff on MY live journal. If nobody wants to read it, they click away. Sheesh, self.

So Exordium is rewritten as ebooks, and now all five are out as audio books.

I've also been reading. Kris Smith's Jani Killian series is being reissued by Book View Cafe. Love it. Also read Jacey Bedford's Crossways and loved that, too. These both have tightly plotted, roller coaster emotions and stakes with all the elements of space opera that I love. Plus interesting women!

More anon about my reading of space opera--got lots queued up on the iPad.
sartorias: (desk)
Because Jane Austen herself, according to her family, used to speculate on the future of her characters, I figure she might have liked fan fiction.

At any rate, I had such fun writing these. For Book View Cafe I bundled them together for $2.95--they won't be on sale as a bundle anywhere else--here are:


In “The Poignant Sting,” a line from Emma inspired a novelette, with the touch of magic that the line seems to hint at.

Mansfield Park inspired two alternate sequels and an alternate ending (which is not here), both involving characters from other books, one at sea during the war, the other domestic and quiet.

And finally, a fantasia about Miss Austen herself, supposing she had been able to travel to Eastern Europe, where she met Dracula. You know whose wit is going to prevail
sartorias: (desk)
Fair Winds and Homeward Sail is a very short novel that I wrote for fun. It takes Soppy Croft from Jane Austen's Persuasion and gives her a back story, and also addresses one of my misgivings about the book. (The other one, a major logic flaw, I feel Austen would have fixed if she hadn't died before she could polish this one.) Kindle

I did several Austen things for practice and for relaxation (like, stroke recovery) and those will be bundled up next week.

I also finally was able to get a print edition of |A Stranger to Command in trade, for those half-a-dozen faithful people who kept asking. It turned out really pretty, too.

I arrived in Denver five hours ago, so will begin with a sizable sleep deficit, but I am here! And there was cool weather, and clouds! Commencing soon much writing talk. Train journey enjoyable as always. People met and talked to equally enjoyable, including a group of people who travel around to go on roller coasters.
sartorias: (desk)
SherSmith-commando-bats 200 x 300


Book View Cafe | Kindle

In this novelette, Hera is angry with Zeus and the rest of the male gods. She takes their powers, and comes to Earth, handing them out to random old women, saying that the weakest have the most wisdom, and further warns them to prove her right! I had such fun writing it.
sartorias: (desk)
SherSmith-Sasharia-133x200
Book release day. This is a rerelease, actually, with two books back together* as I originally intended. And a polish, because my prose can always use a polish.

This one has an odd history in that the first half of the story (not the first half of the novel) occurred to me in the early seventies, when I was working the Mythopoeic Society booth at the Renaissance Pleasure Fair, then in Malibu. I looked into the dusky light of a grove, and saw a guy wearing fantasy period garb with an air, and thought, what if he really was a prince, and no one believed it? Maybe not handsome, because his hair is too fuzzy and his nose too big, but with a genuine smile and an air of good nature?
Read more... )
sartorias: (desk)
Catching up in the sweltering heat, with a house full of people. But the house guests are from Arizona and Utah respectively, so it's not like they have any better weather at home. (Though they probably have air conditioning, which we can't afford to run.)

Anyway, the last volume of Exordium is out.

This particular book journey began in 1977, first as a film project. Which nearly sold, but got lost in the fallout of the big strike of 1980.

So we went to books. The first edition was written on Selectric, and over the years went through various rapidly changing computer iterations, both us getting married, Dave's divorce and his subsequent finding Deborah, his wonderful wife, my having two kids, our careers changing. Many house moves, Dave from next door in our Hollywood apartment complex to ten miles away, to fifty, to 300 miles away. Family deaths.

We rewrote it as retired people, with a whole lot more experience under our belts, and more time for consideration. The tech Dave predicted still holds, though we finessed how certain bits are used (time proving once again that tech does not instantly, or simply, change how we live, which is why many historical novelists get retrofitting wrong). The social and cultural interactions that I had invented have in many respects come to pass, though there were eyebrow twitching artifacts.

So now that's done.

But there's more! At Book View Cafe various writers have been offering writing hacks. Mine is up today--the easy way to map your world, plus instantly figured out time zones!

And finally, a couple of what I thought were really good writing posts. Here, from someone I knew when he was small--at four, he entertained me hugely by telling me the entire story of Lord of the Rings, and now he is a paterfamilias, and wise enough to be aware of his own happiness.

Finally, over at Harry Connolly's LiveJournal David B. Coe reflects about writing as two books come out. I really like his writing--he does complex characters. I haven't caught up with the Thieftaker series only because of So Many Books syndrome, but that means one of these days I'll get to fall on them in one F. S.
sartorias: (desk)
The fourth Exordium book is out, with the fifth coming out next month.

The entire thing has been rewritten, shifted to omniscient POV, which streamlined a great deal of a massive story with a huge cast. We'd had a great deal of trouble with the enforced time jerkiness of distant third, which was de rigueur back in the eighties and nineties.

Since that time we've both learned a lot about writing, and there has been a lot more understood about the science and the tech. Dave did some twiddling on one battle, otherwise that aspect was still pretty tight, only the prose needed corresponding tightening.

Mostly, it was tremendous fun to be back in that world!

Book View Cafe | Kindle
sartorias: (desk)
The novel before this one, Lhind the Thief, was written over a period of about thirty years, a good deal of it in hospital waiting rooms. It was my escapist story, a kitchen sink fantasy that I turned to when things were really dire in realityland. I set it aside yet again 1990 when 60 k words was the expected limit but it didn’t feel done. A couple decades later another bad patch happened, out it came and this time I finished it.

Of the readers who liked it, many indicated they expected a sequel. Oh! I can do that . . . I think. At my time of life, forty year projects are not optimal! Early last year I was driving across the desert with [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija, my co-writer on the Change Series, and with her help brainstormed a plot.

When I actually wrote it, that plot turned out to be half of the story, the fluff mixing with other stuff, like identity, power, the problem of pain, the question of family, added to all the chases and magic and castles and side worlds and mythical creatures.

So, in short, I think of this second one as Fluff with Stuff.

This is a Book View Cafe release, and as always I'd prefer interested readers get it there, but if that isn't an option, it's also up on Kindle and Nook.

Smith-LhindtheSpy-133x200
sartorias: (desk)
A couple weeks back, I had a post about space opera, which has been on my mind not only while I finished reading Judith Tarr's Forgotten Suns, but also because Dave Trowbridge and I are back on track with rewriting Exordium for ebook. (Book View Cafe |Kindle)

The rewrite has been interesting. Of course I wanted to clean up the prose (I have learned a lot in twenty years, though yes, I still have a long way to go) but there were also aspects we wanted to bring up-to-date. And never is it more obvious that fiction is very much about our time, whenever it is set, than in looking at futuristic science fiction.

Thanks to Dave, our tech is actually really strong. He was one of the first to figure out what FTL strategy and tactics would actually be like, something that sparked fans among Navy and other types in Washington DC, like Chris Weuve. Dave also invented the boswell, which is pretty much what the Apple wrist watch is going to be in about five years. This was before cell phones were anything but a gleam in tech-geeks' eyes.

But here is where writing for your time edges in. If you read as much history as I do, you won't be surprised about how long it takes to bring Hot New Tech to actual tactical advantage, in terms of warfare, and in terms of social adaptation, how long before the Not New Thing changes from a peculiarity of the rich and the wild to everyday. That progress usually parallels cost coming down, but not always. Making a new thing part of one's everyday life is an interesting process, and doesn't progress at the same pace from person to person, house to house, region to region, country to country.

Anyway, in rereading Exordium preparatory to rewriting it, it occurred to us that though our characters had boswells, they actually weren't using them in times of emergency: they were going to the nearest public computer console a bit like we went to the nearest phone booth back in the eighties. Oops. So when the action required it, we had to invent reasons why the characters couldn't boz each other. Security blackouts are convenient that way.

Another aspect in which we were ahead of the time was socially. Both of us had been bothered by one single black character in Star Wars 2 (Star Wars 1, much as we adored it, and went back to watch it a kajillion times in 1977, was Rilly Rilly White), Lando Calrissian. In our future, white skin was socially repellent: people gennated for melanin production for health as well as social reasons.

And because we were a female and male team, it had been my goal from the time we pitched the TV series to HBO and NBC in 1980 (right before The Big Strike, which is why you never saw it on TV) to get female starship captains and pirates and everything else in there, not just men in action, women standing around as targets, fridgesicles, or ladyprizes. That included looking at the institution of marriage in the far future, and relationships, given universal health care and birth control, which we figures would lead to a polysexual attitude in most, but not all. In rereading, I could still see traces of unexamined assumptions which we have worked with without changing the story materially.

Another aspect was cuss words and pejoratives. We'd made up our own cuss words because at that time TV Standards and Practices were strict. Besides, I figured, if there really was sexual equality in the future then pejoratives would not be female specific. We kept the made up words when we went to book, though we knew such things are problematical. We've finessed them even more in the rewrite, but they are still there.

It's been a fun process--we're readying the fourth book now, and Dave is tackling the fifth before passing it back to me. They will release this summer.
sartorias: (desk)
During my twenties, I wrote three romantic fantasies, all three meant to be total escapism, with all the 'fixin's, as in those days I was working non-stop for a pittance, moved every year (and lost my home the same week my car was stolen and trashed), and so on. One of those novels was Crown Duel, began when I was twenty; the next one was The Trouble With Kings, in which I played around with tropes a little. By that time (I was in my mid-twenties) I'd read enough about perfect raven-haired beauties with jewel-colored eyes and so I thought I'd try writing about an ordinary heroine who sets about trying to gain agency. Still a princess, as this was romantic fantasy, and let's face it, we don't read romantic fantasy to explore the grim realities of our economic and geopolitical non-agency. Then I'd throw all the tropes of romantic fantasy at her. Abduction? She'd get abducted twice. No, three times! And so forth.

Decades pass and I type it into the computer, and it was published by Samhain, where it's ticked along until I asked for my rights back recently. I like Samhain, but I don't think my stuff is for their readers, whose tastes seem to range more along the erotica axis; I tend to prefer to read, and write, lots of subsidiary characters and worldbuilding, and also, though there is plenty of UST, what sex there is takes place offstage.

Anyway, it's been polished up, reflecting what I've learned in the last few years, got a new cover, and here it is from Book View Cafe (Kindle if you prefer the one-click ease. It's also over at B&N.) The third one, wherein I posited a six food tall heroine with a heavy background in martial arts, comes back to me this summer.

Okay, egoboo aside, also being released today is a crackling good thriller, Sara Stamey's The Ariadne Connection. Set in a near future, the blurb says "at the crossroads of science and myth" it posits a horrible plague, a threatening geomagnetic reversal, and pits ex-soldier burnout Peter Mitchell against a whole host of baddies, from seriously deranged cultists to coldly calculating pharmaceutical magnates as he rescues scientist Ariadne Demokatis. Then labors to get her to a certain Greek island, after she discovers that somehow she is healing plague victims by no more than a touch.

Throw in a driven, kinky, crazy journalist named Leeza, and the tension torques to a sweating-bullets pace. Terrific characterization, hard science mixed with a hint of the numinous, with enough horror to jack the adrenaline to the max--wow. I could NOT put this book down.

(Here it is in paperback)

Podcast

Mar. 3rd, 2015 01:45 pm
sartorias: (desk)
[livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija and I did a podcast for the Outer Alliance with Julia Rios, link here.

If anyone listens to it and wants to chat about it, here's the place!
sartorias: (duel to the pie!)
In a new column about books and food I talk about recipes, and how they are integral to storytelling.

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