Nov 17

Goodbye, Hello…Paksenarrion Editions Switching Around

Posted: under Deed of Paksenarrion, Editions, the writing life.
Tags: ,  November 17th, 2017

I found out only this afternoon that the omnibus edition of THE DEED OF PAKSENARRION is out of stock, and being retired (after 25 very successful years in print!!)  so that the debut of the 30th anniversary of  edition of Sheepfarmer’s Daughter (to be followed at intervals by Divided Allegiance and Oath of Gold) can step onto the stage without the venerable edition sniping any sales.   It’s unfortunate (in my eyes) that the stock ran out right before the holidays, when (as all authors hope) Christmas stockings are filled with our books (OK, my books are what I’m hoping people get as gifts…<G>)   There are still a few copies at Amazon, and may be a few at some stores.   If you hurry.  But it’s not going to be reprinted.   At least, not until the 30th anniversary books have had their run.   I may have a box or two in the storage unit, and will look, but it’s not going to be hundreds of books.  Right now, with Thanksgiving coming on, I don’t have time to look for them.

So what will be coming in the 30th Anniversary editions?  Well, for one thing I wrote an essay for each book, which you’ll have to read to find out what it says.   Trade paperback size, new covers, all that.  And the omnibus is still available as an e-book, just not as an in-the-hand monster.  Guess I should get busy and see if I can finish the BIG map and get it ready to print out as a poster.  Someone might want to buy one, maybe?   (The irony would be if, after I finished that map, painted it, and printed it up all prettified…I found the long-lost original map and they didn’t look anything at all alike.  But as in real life, what one map-maker maketh, another map-maker re-maketh, only…differently.

 

 

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Nov 12

Recognition

Posted: under Craft, the writing life.
Tags: ,  November 12th, 2017

When I was in that stage of adolescence when you may (if not in angsty despair) daydream longingly about being famous someday so people will admire you and you’ll have tons of friends and all the people who think are being nasty to you now will be stricken with either remorse or envy (or maybe both)….yeah, I did that.   Never mind that I wasn’t about to DO anything to prepare for such a situation (like, maybe, consider how to deal with it if it happened, or pick some likely scenario for achieving said “fame”) but I was sure that *someday* my light would shine and all those people (like her, and her, and him, and them…) would realize they’d missed their chance to get in on the ground floor.

Another thing is that when you are in that stage of adolescence, filled with awareness of your own pain and looking for a place to dump it, you don’t realize that the people you’re daydreaming about playing “if they could see me now” with are also playing the same set of fantasy games using you as one of the people they want to impress someday.   “She thinks she’s so smart, well, *I* will have my doctorate!”  or “He thinks he’s so great because his daddy has a car agency–I will have a whole corporation and sit at the top of the tower with windows bigger than anybody’s.”   In a few years you realize that everyone is the protagonist of their own story, and you’re not as wildly different as you thought (and maybe they thought too) and the intensity of the desire for fame as fame erodes (or doesn’t) as you reach adulthood and Real Life (tm.)

By the time I had written some books and gotten published, I was over that.  I thought.  It had been years–decades–since I expected any recognition for anything I did.  I was a middling alto in a good alto section–strong, reliable, but not exceptional in any way.  I was a decent graduate student but not a standout.  Then we moved here, and I joined the local EMS and became, by stages, an EMT-paramedic, and I was good at it, but again, not the best.  I knew the odds in publishing long before I had publishing credits; I looked at my skills and thought I was good enough to get published, but no longer expected the daydream of world acclaim, great reviews, major prizes like the writers we studied in English class,  that I’d clung to in junior high and part of high school.   I was a plodder, a workhorse, someone who could get the job done, but without the glam and glitter that takes someone from “Oh, yeah, I remember her/him…they wrote books or something didn’t they?  Or was it they invented something?”

Like most writers, I passed some other writers who had less success, as measured by reviews, the advances on contracts, and so on, and was passed by other writers who had more.   Like most writers, I faced the green-eyed monster of WriterEnvy, who points out that so-and-so who just got a seven figure contract or a movie deal or whatever is really no better at the *craft* of writing than you are, and wants to make you dislike/hate/waste time muttering about that person instead of just doing your own work and making it better as you can.

But then I discovered the thing that no one told me about, but that’s shriveled that green-eyed monster all the way to dust.  The recognition that’s not fame, not glitzy or glamorous or involved with headlines or interviews on TV or movie deals…a different kind, that feeds the writer’s soul and instead of inflating the ego, inflates gratitude.   And that’s the recognition that comes from someone who has no intent to flatter, but just wants to tell you how your work affected them, how it made a bad day, or experience, or situation better…how they held onto that story or book, coming to it again and again for refreshment, for courage, for inspiration.  And there is nothing–no amount of money, no prize–that will both build up and bring down a writer like that.  It’s the ultimate proof that you got it right that time.  It makes the days in front of the keyboard (or however you write), the aching back, the sore butt, the stiff neck, the burning eyes, all worth it because someone, somewhere found a hand that pulled them out of a sucking mudhole of despair.

Some books pulled me through hard times.  Some passages in those books still echo inside.  They weren’t all great books.  They weren’t all good all the way through.  But from them I got nourishment, strength, that I needed right then and wasn’t getting anywhere else.  And no, I didn’t write those authors because I was too timid.  I didn’t want to bother them.  (I’m sorry, I think to their memories…I’d been taught not to bother people. and figured I’d be a bother to you, too.)

So here’s the thing, if you’re an early -career writer, or someone who hasn’t started submitting yet and wonders if it’s worthwhile to write if you don’t find recognition from reviewers, critics, juries for the big prizes, and your publishers in the form of very large checks with many zeros.  That’s not all the reward there is.  That’s not even the best, not even the BIG checks and the fame that means total strangers recognize your face as you walk through an airport.   There’s still recognition you may treasure when someone tells you (in person, or email, or snail-mail) that something you wrote pulled them through a hard time.  It may be a minor part of your book–one incident, one phrase even–or it may be a character, or a setting.  You cannot know when you’re writing what will be the handhold someone needs.   It’s scary to start off on the long journey of writing not knowing if you’re going to save a life (as we did not know, opening the door for the ambulance to come out, if we would save a life that time or not.)   It seems, I’m sure, such a tiny little hope to balance the amount of work you’ve come to realize is needed.

But it’s there.  And it’s a treasure that doesn’t fade like the review, or the critic’s assessment, or vanish into bread and electricity and taxes like the amount on a check.   It’s the true gold, imperishable, and once you’ve had one…you know it’s worth it.   Oh, you may still be seduced by other measures of success, if you can get them, but if you get another…and another…of those golden nuggets, you’ll begin to realize how valuable they are, compared to the rest.   Years later, when your income drops again (and writers’ incomes go up and down like badly played yo-yos)  and your editor and your agent are sighing when they talk to you and far less interested than they used to be (if that happens)…that golden recognition will still be there.  Your work helped someone you didn’t know. That’s on your celestial resume.

(crossposted to Universes)

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Jul 07

Rewrite Is Done!

Posted: under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: ,  July 7th, 2017

And that means I have more time for other things, many of which (including my posts here) have languished in the intense two-plus months of getting it done.

When I’ve recovered a bit, I’ll be going back to a more frequent posting schedule on all the blogs.   The next publishing thing (without a deadline, though) will be the second collection of Paksworld stories.   I need my head clearer to do the final editing on that, without bleed-over from science fiction & Vatta stuff.  I don’t know quite how long it will take; I may not get to it until after DragonCon.  Right now I’m working on health issues and all the stuff that didn’t get done that needs to get done (like washing and packing stuff to be given away.  I don’t have a daughter, and our son is now willing to say what he doesn’t care about inheriting.   So some of the china my mother had stays (because I still use it,) and some will find a new home.  Books and toys our son had–that he’s willing to part with–will go.  Clothes I don’t want anymore–some have already gone, but more will.   Papers need sorting.  And so on.   It will be a long process, because right now I can’t work on anything very long at a time.  But that will change.

I’m now back to riding the bike for exercise, making bread for better nutrition (if you’re going to eat bread, making it yourself means you know *exactly* what went into it), growing herbs (and will re-start the vegetable garden) again for better eating, and when I get the energy will start knitting again (it’s been more than a year.)  The priority is health, right now, including mental health (so having time to spend with friends, and time to spend outside with plants and animals, and time for enough sleep is part of it.)   I write better when I’m not exhausted, stressed, short of sleep, etc.

So–I hope within the year to have the next Paksworld fiction collection out, and maybe a collection on the science fiction side as well.    When I’ve reached whatever level of health & energy is possible,  then I can start a regular writing schedule and find out how much I can do without losing ground health-wise.  Until then,  I won’t be pushing myself to start another novel.

Thank you all for your support, and I will be posting more about ideas, about the writing process, and about Paksworld in particular.   I will be at DragonCon this year,  God willin’ and the crick don’t rise, or my widely-expressed opinions about our current political situation don’t land me on a no-fly list.  If you’ll be there, look me up.  I signed up to be one of the mentors in the writing track this year, so someone will be getting a one-on-one discussion about their work.  I don’t know the schedule at all, or how that program is set up.

 

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Mar 23

A New Old Thing

Posted: under Good News, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  March 23rd, 2017

As those of you with tattered old mass-market paperbacks with the woman on the black horse on the cover know,   Sheepfarmer’s Daughter came out in 1988, as did Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold came out in 1989.   To celebrate 30 years in print, Baen Books is going to put out an Annversary Edition of them next year, and asked if I would write an introduction to each volume.  Of course I said yes, and I’ve roughed out the first one and sent it on to Toni Weisskopf at Baen.

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Mar 09

Done (at least for now)

Posted: under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  March 9th, 2017

So INTO THE FIRE reached its appointed end yesterday–today has been filled with other chores–and now I’m going to comb the burs out of its mane, curry the mud-clumps off its back and belly where it rolled and wallowed, and present it to Editor with (I hope) nothing much for her to do but work her magic with the clippers to make it still prettier.

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Jan 23

Progress, Lurching Ahead

Posted: under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: ,  January 23rd, 2017

That was actually me at the Austin Women’s March, the lurching ahead thing.  I had a cane with four little cushioned feet.  And needed it.  I am not as spry, had been sick earlier in the week (er…wasn’t OVER being sick, either!)  and instead of being in the 70s and partly cloudy, the sun came out full on just before the march started, and it shot up to about 90-something.  It was a great march; I didn’t make it the whole way, but I made some of it, enough to know I’d put out all the effort I had.

But INTO THE FIRE is now over 125,000 words.   Progress forward has slowed because I’m rearranging.  In my “process” (a word that suggests far more rationality in the choice of what to do and where to go next than I actually achieve!)  whenever I get stuck I start a different scene that’s been perking along but doesn’t necessarily belong right there, where I was when I started writing it.  It used to be that I wrote in chapters, all wandering around from maybe 4500 to 6000 words…short-story length, though they were clearly not stories in themselves.   Awhile back (not sure when) I started trying to form longer strings.  It’s not as smooth in some ways, but in others the lack of chapter markings along the way allows things to be the length they need.  What’s much harder is finding  things.   It’s much easier to remember that the chapter where the rhinoceros charges a beehive and ends up with sticky honey on his horn, and then rubs his horn in the gravel and it’s not ordinary gravel but jewels and now he’s got a jeweled horn…is chapter ‘low twenties’ if not the exact number, than to remember that it’s page 437 in a manuscript with no internal markers.

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Nov 04

Up From the Depths…

Posted: under Cold Welcome, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  November 4th, 2016

Bubbles rise to the surface of the murky water…the water-lily pads bob up and down…somewhere something is moving, but nobody can quite see what it is…until a large blob, crowned with two water lily pads and a glob of slime that drips down a face obscured by a wetsuit hood, rises to the surface.

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Sep 19

So It Goes

Posted: under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: ,  September 19th, 2016

Right…I’m back over here briefly.   The new new book is now over 60,000 words, but there’s an interruption right now because page proofs arrived today and need to be worked on promptly.  And I have a Vatta short story to make jell for an anthology with a closer deadline than the book.  As often with short stories, it doesn’t want to jell.  It wants to either grow to a novel or shrink to an anecdote.  Neither is acceptable.

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Aug 04

Cold Welcome Cover

Posted: under artwork, Cold Welcome, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  August 4th, 2016

Cold-Welcome-coverComing in March 2017 Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul 26

Who Knew…

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags:  July 26th, 2016

…that visa problems might still exist in the far future worlds science fiction writers write about?  Surely future political entities will have better solutions than we have…won’t they?   (Plot Daemon says “Bwah-ha-hah-hah-hah-haaaaa….”)   And rules about who is really a citizen…and problems with missing paperwork…and what happens if you’re deported from your own planet and you haven’t ever done anything wrong there?

NewBook progresses,  still generating plot and complications in a healthy way.

Addendum July 26 Comment posted by Elizabeth:

Lordy, lordy, this is being fun. No, the characters aren’t having fun. There’s frustration on all sides. Officialdom is annoyed with people who don’t tick all the boxes, fill in all the blanks, sign on dotted lines, get things notarized, and then stand patiently in line for hours… (yes, I was caught in a bureaucratic paper-pushers’ delight a couple of weeks ago, and got to watch other people have a worse time than I did. Then watch a nearby city’s evening news report on the “new mega-center” that the online stuff kept directing me to because it was “faster.” It wasn’t faster; it was jammed and people who weren’t there at 5 am weren’t going to get whatever it was they needed done. Thank you SO much, Texas legislature.) Anyway.

For the writer, the chance to make use of such experiences is one of the things that makes them bearable. The other thing is knitting. Knitting is perfect when you have to wait…and wait…and wait…and wait.

People who say they aren’t patient enough to knit sit or stand in line jittering and fussing, and miserable, while I am adding rows to a sock. It becomes a game. How many stitches or rows can I do before the line moves again? How many while waiting for my number to be called? And it amuses others who are waiting, at least some of them. At least one person in any room is either a knitter, or a relative of someone who knits/knitted or crochets/crocheted. Someone will ask what it is, or if the yarn is wool or cotton, or comment on the colors. And often we can get a lively discussion going that’s not about how slow the line is.

Post & Comment mirrored from Universes blog

31,000 words now

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