Scheduled to Publish on May 20

April 17th, 2014
The Red: Trials - title graphic


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Now Online! “Codename Delphi”

April 15th, 2014

Lightspeed #47 April 2014My newest Lightspeed Magazine story, “Codename Delphi,” is now available to read online. Find it here. And if you feel inclined, please help spread the word!

“Codename Delphi” is illustrated by Hugo-award winning artist Galen Dara. And for those of you who enjoy podcasts, there is also an audio version.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, “Codename Delphi” is set in the story world of my novel, The Red: First Light — though it takes a look at things from a different perspective — that of the handler, instead of the soldier in the field.

Please check it out, and let me know what you think.

Global Selfie?!

April 17th, 2014

This sounds kind of fun and interesting. NASA is asking everyone, everywhere, to participate in #GlobalSelfie with NASA on Earth Day.

They’d like people to take a selfie, with friends or by yourself. Here’s the gist: “Tell us where you are in a sign, words written in the sand, spelled out with rocks — or by using the printable signs we’ve created.”

* Ahem *

/commence lecture mode/
As someone who has worked over the years as a volunteer at Haleakala National Park, and who has long been married to the former (now retired) chief of resource management at Haleakala, PLEASE DO NOT SPELL OUT YOUR LOCATION WITH ROCKS. And unless you are on a beach, don’t write in the sand either. Messages written in rocks are graffiti. In a natural environment, they are vandalism. And while it may seem harmless to scratch your name in a cinder field, I have seen marks linger in cinder fields for literal years.
/terminate lecture mode/

(Other than that, I think this is a cool project.)

So what are the photos for? The photos “will be used to create a mosaic image of Earth — a new “Blue Marble” built bit by bit with your photos.” That sounds like a fun, inclusive project, reminiscent of the day-in-the-life projects that used to be popular — only BIGGER.

Stop by NASA’s website for more information and to print out NASA’s predesigned sign.

Some Insight on the Editorial Process

April 12th, 2014

(For those of you who are writers, I’d thought I’d talk a little about the editorial process behind my newest books.)

The process I use to get a novel ready for publication is the same now as when I was traditionally published. I write the entire manuscript with no outside input. When I have a solid draft, I send it to one or more beta readers and then process their comments. This step can be repeated, though I usually don’t, in large part because experienced beta readers are always in short supply. So once I’ve worked through beta-reader comments, the manuscript is ready to be seen by a professional editor.

What does an editor do? It depends what you hire her for and how much detail work you’re after (or you need). The more experience you’ve had with writing, the less supervision you’re likely to need. I’ve written quite a few novels at this point, so I get an overall edit that looks mostly at structure and internal logic.

Judith Tarr served as editor for both The Red: First Light and The Red: Trials. What Judy provides is a letter giving a general assessment of the novel, covering both its strengths and its weaknesses, and then the nitty gritty of specific comments, using Word’s comment feature to annotate the manuscript from beginning to end.

For First Light there were over 700 editorial comments. Trials had only half that—either because Judy despaired or else she really did feel that Trials was initially better written. ;-)
Read the rest of this entry »

Book Rave: The Golem and The Jinni

April 7th, 2014

My novel The Red: First Light was short listed for this year’s Nebula award, along with seven other works, some of which I’ve read or intend to read. But I blush to admit I was unaware of Helene Wecker’s fantasy novel The Golem and The Jinni until it appeared on the list.

I don’t think the title is particularly enthralling, but it does tell you exactly what constitutes the story’s essential core: by strange chance an artificial woman made of clay – the golem – and a spirit creature founded in fire – the jinni – arrive in 19th century New York City and ultimately find that their paths intertwine. Read the rest of this entry »

The Red: Trials / Copyediting Primer

April 4th, 2014


Or … I am done pending feedback from my copyeditor, Chaz Brenchley.

What does a copyeditor do?
A good copyeditor will read through the manuscript, attending to the nitty-gritty details of grammar, spelling, capitalization, and consistency of story elements.

Some examples:

* look for typos, missing words, missing punctuation, misspelled words

* look for incorrect punctuation

* make sure there is consistency in the way words are spelled and capitalized. For example, I always use “nightvision” instead of “night vision.” And where abbreviations and acronyms are used, I tend to skip the periods, so “US Army” or “Washington DC.”

* make sure that characters’ names and physical attributes are consistent throughout (except of course where those physical attributes change).

* make sure characters are where they are supposed to be and have not magically transported elsewhere.

Copyediting is a tough, demanding job. Part of the skill set is to know when an author has deliberately and effectively violated the rules of grammar. For example, I might use a comma splice on occasion to rush the action forward. Is it an effective use? The copyeditor might have an opinion on that.
Read the rest of this entry »

New Story: “Codename: Delphi”

April 2nd, 2014

Lightspeed #47 April 2014Just out in the April edition of Lightspeed is my newest story “Codename: Delphi.”

This one is set in the story world of my novel, The Red: First Light — though it takes a look at things from a different perspective — that of the handler, instead of the soldier in the field.

As a novelist who is constantly battling to keep word counts reasonable, this story is a triumph for me because it really is a SHORT story — it’s only 4,100 words — even though there is a lot going on.

Right now, if you’re not a subscriber to Lightspeed Magazine, you’ll need to purchase a copy of the April issue to read “Codename: Delphi.” I hope you’ll consider doing so. It really helps to support a lively short fiction market.

The story will be published online later this month.

Please let me know what you think!

Update: The Red: Trials

March 31st, 2014

I’m almost done.

As reported in my last post, I’ve been working through the comments provided by my editor, Judith Tarr. I haven’t instituted all of them, but I’ve carefully considered them all, and have addressed a large majority. I’ll write more on the editing process later — like after I do my taxes! In the US, taxes are due on April 15, so I really need to get on that!

But for The Red: Trials there are two more steps left in the revision process. Today I printed out a fresh copy of the manuscript. I’ll be doing a quick read-through of that, looking for any inconsistencies or awkward word choices that may have been introduced in the latest revision. Reading a printed manuscript is different from reading on a computer screen. It’s easy to get used to the words on the screen — the brain makes assumptions about what is there — so shifting the format by reading a printed version gives a fresher perspective, and problems that were invisible before are suddenly revealed. That’s the theory, anyway. Hopefully, this won’t take more than two to three days.

Whatever changes I make on the printed manuscript will need to be entered in the Word document. After that, comes the last step: the manuscript goes off to Chaz Brenchley for a copyedit. Chaz copyedited The Red: First Light, and I’m very happy that he’s agreed to do Trials as well. If you’re not familiar with Chaz, check out my “Book Rave” post on his novel Dispossession — and he has a lot more fiction to offer.

Once I get the copyedited manuscript back from Chaz, I’ll need to enter the corrections, and then The Red: Trials will be officially DONE. It’s taken a bit longer than I’d originally hoped, but if all goes well, it will launch on May 20.

If you haven’t already, please sign up for my very occasional newsletter. It’s the most reliable way to learn when I’ve got a new book or story out.

The Book and the Break

March 19th, 2014

As mentioned here before, almost two weeks ago I managed, with grace and style (not!), to fracture my jaw. The oral surgeon thought it minor enough that we could proceed with “no treatment” other than a liquid diet. But on a followup visit, he decided the teeth were not realigning on their own — so now I have a mouthful of metal. This isn’t quite a wired jaw. It’s called “elastics” because rubber bands are used to link the upper and lower teeth, instead of wire, and I get to take the elastics off a few times a day to eat drink and brush my teeth.

The whole incident is quite unpleasant as you can imagine. I’m not in pain right now, but the pressure on the jaw is uncomfortable, and talking while the rubber bands are in place is really hard. So far I’ve lost around six pounds, which in other circumstances might be a good thing, but I’m now under 120-pounds for the first time since some long-ago college finals week. I really don’t want to keep losing at that rate for another month, so I need to deal better with diet.

But on to the important part: How does this affect the release of The Red: Trials?

The manuscript was still with my editor, Judith Tarr, when this first happened. She sent her editorial letter and comments last Friday, and gave the novel a nice thumb’s up: “My biggest problem was finding myself reading breathlessly, in pure reader mode, racing from scene to scene, in classic ‘can’t put down’ fashion, when I needed to slow down and put on my editor hat.”

As with First Light, her editing is insightful and thorough, so there is work to be done, but mostly in clarifying and drawing out details — there won’t be any major remodeling. I’ve made a solid start on the revision and hope to get back to it today. The goal is for the novel to be released in late May, and I’m still hoping to accomplish that.

I should have cover art to share with you soon. In the meantime, once again, if you’ve read and enjoyed The Red: First Light, please consider writing a brief reader review at Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble. There’s no need to say much — a line or two is fine — but reader reviews really do help with visibility. Thank you!

The World SF Tour

March 17th, 2014

The World SF TourLast year I had the privilege of being a guest on The Skiffy and Fanty Show, a weekly fan podcast run by Shaun Duke and Jen Zink, “two science fiction and fantasy nuts.” :-) The show covers anything and everything related to the science fiction and fantasy genres. In my case, we talked about The Red: First Light. You can find the podcast here.

This year, “We’re All About World SF in 2014″ is the theme.

What does this mean?

One of the things we care a great deal about on this show is diversity in SF/F… The World SF Tour will consist of discussions about World SF, the SF/F literary traditions in non-U.S. spaces, and related topics, along with interviews with SF/F authors from as many places as we can fit on a single season of the show. So far, we know we’re going to talk to South African, Japanese, Irish, Canadian, and Israeli authors, critics, translators, and publishers. That list of countries will get much longer (we’re working on authors and fans from the Middle East, Central and South America, other parts of the African continent, the Caribbean, and so much more)!

The Skiffy and Fanty Show had a heavy presence at last September’s Worldcon, hosting live walkby-and-chat sessions, recording interviews, and so on. They’d like to have a presence at this year’s Worldcon too, but that means traveling across the Atlantic — so they’re seeking some fundraising help. If you’re interested in helping out, visit their fundraising page at GoFundMe.

Click here to read more about The World SF Tour.