april reading roundup

It’s been a long time since I did one of these! It’s been hard making time to read in between all my other busy-ness but I did start on a number of books.

Early on this month, I decided to put on my reading list classics that, for some reason or other, had passed me by (I’m sure we all have those!). Don Quixote is one, as are things like Herodotus’ The Histories and Plutarch’s Lives, and pretty much the majority of the American classics that most Americans read in high school (The Great Gatsby, The Red Badge of Courage, Moby Dick, to name a few).

It’s been a long time since my formal education, so I thought I’d get into a “study literature” mood with some reference books. The two I read bits and pieces of were The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer and How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren. I’ve decided that my high schoolers should definitely read the latter before they go off to college.

The Well-Educated Mind

I was also in the mood for science fiction short stories, so I got a Larry Niven collection and an anthology out of the library.

The anthology is Old Venus, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozoir. The premise instantly attracted me: all these stories are set in the Venus of science fictional imaginings–a world of lush tropical jungles and huge oceans–before science revealed it to be the hellish place we known of today. All the stories showed a high level of skill and detailed envy-inducing worldbuilding, so which ones grabbed me and which ones didn’t came down to a  matter of taste. My particular favorites were Matthew Hughes’ “Greeves and the Evening Star” and Ian McDonald’s “Botanica Venerica: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathagan”, both of which feature upper-class aristocrats (one English, the other Irish). I’m not sure what that says about me!

Old Venus

Since I published Ironhand, and have other projects in various stages of completion on my plate, I re-read Discoverability by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. This book started life as a series of blog posts that you can still read for free on Rusch’s website. I love Rusch’s approach to writing-as-business. My big takeaways from the book this reading were the WIBBOW test (Would I Be Better Off Writing? In most cases, yes), the necessity of having several books for sale before launching a massive marketing campaign (working on that), and of seeing ones’ books as individual assets and treating them as such.

Discoverability

What about you? Have you read anything good recently?

Happy Anniversary, Shattered!

Three years ago, I dipped a toe into the self-publishing waters with Shattered, a collection of three fractured fairy tales.

Shattered: Broken Fairy Tales

Since that time, Shattered has become what I fondly refer to as “my little book that could”. It’s sold the most copies, was the first to recoup the small monetary cost I put into it, and still finds its way into new markets.

Shattered was followed up by another broken fairy tale, Wired, about a cybernetic Rapunzel in a post-apocalyptic setting.

Wired cover

Over a year ago, I published another fairy tale collection, Entangled. I didn’t plan this, but all three retellings ended up exploring some variation on the theme of mothers and daughters.

I was in the midst of a burnout, so poor Entangled slipped through the cracks and got no marketing push. I think I even failed to announce its release on this blog. It didn’t have its own page on my site until a week or so ago.

It does now, complete with excerpts from all three stories.

Entangled: Broken Fairy Tales

Many, many thanks to Robin Cornett, who designed all three covers and came up with the titles for Shattered and Entangled (including the “broken fairy tales” subtitle).

So, what’s next for the broken fairy tales anthologies? I wanted to write retellings with stronger scifi elements, and happily my muse handed me three more ideas. (She’s used to working in threes when it comes to fairy tales.) I’m especially excited by the one featuring space mercenaries.

I have other projects on my plate, but I’m hoping to squeeze these in around them.

In the meantime, Happy Anniversary, Shattered!

scattered

No, that is not the title of the next broken fairy tale anthology, though after Shattered, Wired, and Entangled, such a name would not be a surprise.

Rather, it’s an apt description of my state of mind.

I’m trying to wear a bunch of hats all at once. I’m mom, homeschooler, gardener, housekeeper, writer, publisher, with another handful of part-time jobs thrown in the mix. At any give time, I have a bunch of unconnected thoughts in my head. I can go, for instance, from considering which low-maintenance perennials to plant in a barren shady strip along the side of the house to plotting out a short story set in space to lesson planning in the space of ten minutes.

Yes, it’s disorganized and messy inside my mind, and things have frequently slipped through the cracks. No wonder I feel like I’m constantly jogging in place–or being pulled in different directions by a bunch of strong, feral cats (uh, that analogy didn’t work so well, but indulge me).

I’m working on imposing more order in my life, something which is long overdue! It’s an ongoing process, I’ve found. Everything slips into chaos if one isn’t actively maintaining it (*looks at state of the house*).

Spring is a great time for a renewal, though. I’ve made some small changes to my routines that are already helping, and I have the energy and enthusiasm to see them through.

What about you? For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere (can’t forget that my Australian friends have different seasonal rhythms), what has spring brought you?

Ironhand is out

Quick post to let you all know that Ironhand is out at the usual places:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

As my husband pointed out yesterday, I’ve finally written and published a sequel! It’s a weird quirk for a fantasy writer to have, but barring a few shorts featuring one character, all the rest of my stories have stubbornly stood alone. I had not intended to write a sequel to Mourning Cloakbut Kato and Flutter insisted that their story was not yet done.

If you haven’t read Mourning Cloak yet, and want to, here’s a 50%-off coupon code to use at SmashwordsMM83Z (expires May 13th)

Check out an excerpt from Ironhand below the cut:

[Read more…]

Ironhand: Cover & Blurb

Ironhand is coming soon! (I have the ebook files all ready to upload, something I will do this weekend.) In the meantime, I’m thrilled to share the awesome cover Ravven did (isn’t it gorgeous?):

ironhand_promo

It’s not over yet.

Kato Vorsok closed the Gates and sealed in the enemies of all mankind. Now he’s stranded in the desert with a ragtag army of supernatural creatures far from home. Keeping order and finding provisions are the extent of his problems.

Or so he thinks.

Because something got out.

Deep in the salt, an ancient demon from a mythic past stirs. Once, angels walked the world and battled such monsters, but they’ve been gone a long time.

Now there’s only Kato, a reluctant hero with no illusions about himself, and Flutter, a woman-turned-demon who’s falling apart.

They won the battle, but will they lose the war—and the whole world with it?

Ironhand is a fantasy novella.