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And Now, For the Next Step...

Thank you for buying Breath of Stone!  I hope you’re enjoying it.  If you’re so inclined to leave a review at the point of purchase, Goodreads, or both, I’d much appreciate it.

The next in the series is solidly underway.  There’s some plotting left to do, and a couple nifty ideas popped up to bump up my excitement level, too.  One cool aspect is the inclusion of a character created by a Patreon backer who looks to become a key viewpoint character.  I do feel as if I have a lovely running start at this one.

I’m also poking at a shorter work that is both loosely related and completely different.  We’ll see how it comes along.

For anything other than the basics of writing fiction, writing for clients, and Auntie-ing for my nephews, the month of July is all but gone.  Sure, I can catch the occasional meal with a friend, but I’m not seeing much time beyond that.  Lots of family events–moving, wedding, kid events, and so forth–shall eat the days before I know it.

#SFWApro

Lively Miscellany

Topic the First:

4th Street was a great experience this year--a great and glorious disproving of my usual silly pre-con anxiety of "This time no one will acknowledge my existence." For me, the most wonderful parts are between and/or triggered by the scheduled events. It's the conversations about why some authors successfully cross genre lines, examining creeping biases, opening publishing opportunities, determining themes, working with and as a beta reader, and and and... Truly, I LOVE those free-ranging conversations. I love even more that I can share them with folks who equally love them.

Part of me would be just fine with a con that had a mere three conversation-launching panels a day, and that's the fault of fascinating people who are willing to share their thoughts and experience outside the panels.

As always, there is never enough time to talk at length with every person I'd like to. That's the downside to knowing a small handful of really cool people; they keep introducing you to other cool people! And though I did make an effort to be more deliberate in spending time with a variety of folks this year, I missed a couple folks I deeply wanted to chat with. (I'm looking at you, John Wiswell!) Alas, I think this is an unfixable thing for me, for even if the con were a day or two longer, I tend to hit the Wall of Introvert Overload at around 72 hours. I simply lose the ability to be intelligently sociable with more than one person at a time at that point.

Topic the Second:

Sirens Conference! My afternoon class proposal was accepted!

I'll be presenting The Movement You Don't See. The (still unofficial) description is:

Fight scenes require more than cool choreography, but not everyone has years to invest in fight-training before writing their epic adventure! Here's your chance to learn lesser-known physical details of fighting through the practices of kata--the martial arts training tool of choreographed techniques.

In this movement-filled workshop, you'll discover the internal landscape of a fighter--the grounding, power generation, body awareness, and exertion your fighting characters experience in action. Whether writing a training montage, or an experienced fighter's battle, having the "insider" experience will add depth and realism.

Physical activity is included, but not required. Observers and listeners are welcome.


Yes, it's exciting to present at Sirens, but it's also exciting to share why kata is such an effective training tool for mind-body awareness and self-defense. (Check out The Purpose of Kata for a preview on that.) It's the little things that matter, and I'm so looking forward to passing a few of those things along. How a pelvic tilt affects the strength of a block, how the angle of the back foot affects the strength of a strike, how the lift of the shoulder affects stamina... All these things and more.

Honestly, I wish I could get a two-hour block of time. :)

Topic the Third:

I'm in the process of putting reader feedback together with writerly goals to determine my upcoming project schedule. For me, determining a schedule that is both satisfying and realistic (and it's the latter I fail at, alas) required breaking down the projects by wordcount. The process revealed I've an estimated 1,135,000 words to write if I want to complete everything on my list.

This is exciting and comforting! Truly, I could fail to generate a new idea for about three years before running out of material. I'm set for the near future. :)

Topic the Last:

That hip dysplasia thing.

Remember when I fell down the stairs a couple months ago? Yeah. Well, I just assumed it happened because my left knee and ankle have always been weaker and more prone to injury. Come to find out that is true... but the reason it's true matters. When the left hip suffers from inflammation, it puts pressure on the nerve running down the front of my thigh, and the nerve doesn't then function properly, which causes the left leg to collapse. It's like trying to do push-ups with one arm having "fallen asleep."

The fact the nerve pressure isn't causing pain is actually a bad thing, in my opinion. If I felt pain, I'd know to take it easy. Instead, my "warning" that something is wrong usually comes in the form of the leg collapsing. That fall down the stairs isn't the first time it has happened, but it was the first in a series. Even now, as I'm sitting in a restaurant to write this, the front of my left thigh is getting that "falling asleep" sensation because I've sat in one position too long.

But here is the COOL thing. mrissa introduced me to a physician who also has a martial arts background, and who understood in a heartbeat my internal crumbling over this whole thing.* I'm still not at all ready to roll into surgery (not only for personal reasons, but financial and logistical ones), but her quiet words and empathy carefully tunneled through a wall others have beaten upon for quite some time.

She's one of those folks I wish I would have had more and more and more time with, truly. Medical stuff aside, she's a cool person.

So there's the lesson I can pass along today: One way to get someone to do something they don't want to do is to understand fully and deeply why they don't want to do it, and share that understanding without judgment.


There is no Topic the Fourth. I'll see what I can come with another time. :)




*Yes, I hid out to cry after our conversation. Truly, if you ever want to see my cry, don't try to insult or hurt me. Be nice and kind and empathetic. Does the trick every time.

Breath of Stone is Here!!

Breath of Stone, the second novel of Desert Rising, is available now!

Bone returns to silt and sand,
Blood to salt and water,
Breath to wind and stone,
Soul to sun and storm.
The desert consumes us all.


Read more...Collapse )

The Snarky Partner

It is easy — terribly easy —to shake a man’s faith in himself.

To take advantage of that to break a man’s spirit is the devil’s work.

–George Bernard Shaw

Train or talk about martial arts and self-defense long enough, and someone will invariably want to test you.  It’s usually annoying or amusing to varying degrees, depending on the person’s attitude, but it can sometimes be frightening.

I’ll talk about that frightening aspect next month.  This time, I want to talk about a specific sort of challenge most often laid down before the new student whose combination of budding knowledge and excited inexperience makes them vulnerable to emotional undermining.

It happens early on in training, usually in the first month or two.  A student who has been doing well walks into class with a little less confidence.    A little less enthusiasm.  Why?

“Sensei, my boyfriend wanted to see me do that wrist escape we learned last week, and it didn’t work!”

This sensei hates when this happens.  The disappointment and self-doubt in a student is painful to see, and even more painful for the student to feel.  All the student’s excitement over learning something new—the poise of gained confidence in one’s ability—broken down in a few minutes by someone who professes to care.

I hate it.  I hate with vim and passion.

It isn’t always a boyfriend.  It might be a husband, father, mother, sibling, or school classmate.  But no matter the role, the person sees themselves holding the same position: a superior whose station must be reinforced, and whose station is threatened by the student’s sense of consent-based self-determination.

Oh, sure, some of those folks will claim the most-est and best-est of intentions.


  • “I don’t want you to have a false sense of security.”

  • “You need to know you can’t always win.”

  • “I just want to be realistic.”

And sometimes the comments are more direct and honest.


  • “I told you that karate stuff wouldn’t work.”

  • “Don’t start thinking you’re all that special.”

  • “You’re pretty stupid, thinking you can beat me.”

But no matter the spoken reason, the underlying motivation is almost always the same:


  • “To prove myself stronger and smarter, I must prove you are weak, incapable, and less worthy.”

Yes, I hate it.

*****

Teaching self-defense as a years-long curriculum accessible to students of diverse ages and abilities requires deliberation and forethought on a different scale than a weekend empowerment workshop.  (Not better or lesser, mind you.  Just different.)  So one of the first things I teach students under the “self-defense” topic is a collection of basic hold escapes—what to do if someone grabs your wrist, elbow, shoulder, or shirt front.

The simple techniques teach a skill, certainly, but also the rules and expectations of working with a partner.  Students also learn the principles of leverage and torque, grounding and balance, general body awareness, and the connection between the decision to take action and the resulting consequences.

Hold escapes are a very big deal.

I and my more senior students are always the students’ first partners.  Once the basic maneuvers of a escape are taught sans contact, we start grabbing students. We start off with the tight grip and quick release meant to build competence and confidence.  The better the students’ technique, the more difficult we make it to escape, and we adjust it for each student.  The goal is to encourage, and require, progressive improvement.

We set and enforce standards, and most importantly, tell students to not only respect their boundaries, but to enforce their boundaries with calm skill.

It’s called “teaching.”

Then comes the moment the student, excited and confident, goes home to a person who isn’t all that excited, let alone passing supportive of the student’s martial arts training.  That person listens to the student talk about the cool wrist escape she learned just an hour or so ago.  And that person sees the opportunity to prove their own superior strength.

So that person offers to be a “partner,” and grabs the student’s wrist with as much force as possible (and usually with a grip or angle the particular wrist escape isn’t designed to counter).  The student struggles.  The student, who has known the technique for all of a couple hours, and practiced the technique a couple dozen times at the most, fails to break the full-power, all-strength hold of their supposedly supportive partner.

That “partner” happily reinforces the student’s sense of failure and weakness.

The student feels like a failure.

The other person feels fantastic, having confirmed their superiority.

I.  Hate. This.

Truly, the person who feels the need to subjugate a person they supposedly love and care for is, in my eyes, the weak and frightened one.  It’s the person who’d mock a teenager for learning the difference between the gas and brake pedal before speeding onto an ice-covered highway.  It’s the person who thinks it’s funny to drop someone into a warzone before they’ve learned how to load a rifle.  It’s the jerk who believes proof of strength lies in how well they can beat up someone in handcuffs.

It’s punching down.

It’s weakness.

It’s pathetic.

So… after a year or so of teaching, and seeing this drama play out over and over, I made a couple alterations to the lessons.

Yes, I still teach hold escapes.  Yes, I teach them with the same limitations.

Then I tell the students the truth:  “Someone is going to test you.  Someone will want to see if you can really, truly, escape.  And someone will want to prove you can’t do anything at all.  If you try the hold escape, and it doesn’t work, it isn’t because you failed.  It’s because the person holding you thinks they have to beat you.  And that person thinks your fear of hurting them is greater than your fear of being hurt by them.”

Really, that’s the truth of it.  I’ve seen it in the smirks and eyerolls these “supportive” partners give when the student explains to me the hold escape didn’t work.

The Snarky Partner depends on your passivity.  She wants you to hesitate.  He wants you to be afraid of trying.  She wants you to let a loud-mouthed person prove his superiority. He wants to demonstrate his strength is really oh-wow cool.  She wants to make certain you doubt your strength and courage.  He wants to demonstrate how unworthy and incapable you are of determining consent.  The Snarky Partner wants, above all else, to undermine a person’s confidence in self-direction, self-defense, self-determination.

And it doesn’t matter if the Snarky Partner doesn’t actually, deep-down wish you harm.  Because all those things the Snarky Partner wants to prove are the same the attacker wants you to believe: you’re weak, you’re unsure, you’re not worth your own fight.

*****

It isn’t unusual for the Snarky Partner to be the one who accompanies the student to the dojo.  In my experience, the Snarky Partner sometimes goes to great lengths to ensure they’re in attendance because they want to watch the class—to see what the students are taught, how the students are taught, and to find out “tricks” that can be used to encourage a student’s failure.

Whenever possible, I hold my Snarky Partner speech right in front of the watching family and friends.  (Once, I even took the empty center seat in the front row of the observation area because one parent had, week after week, demonstrated his inability to understand by yanking his small son around and laughing at him.) I’ll talk specifically and thoroughly about the Snarky Partner, how to counter that person, and—most importantly—how to either dismiss them as irrelevant or use them as a self-teaching opportunity.

That’s usually enough to end the home-based Snarkers.

But out in real life, where it’s possible you’ll encounter a person who needs to bolster their own ego at another’s expense, chit-chats from Sensei don’t much work.

If my students are children, I must tread a bit carefully for numerous reasons.   They might have abusive parents I haven’t yet sussed out (and I’ve sussed out more than a handful, my darlings), so I must keep in mind the consequences a child might face if they resist a parent.  They might face a challenge at school, where defending one’s self against physical attacks is considered horrifyingly dangerous and grounds for suspension or expulsion.  They might lack the support of a backbone-empowered adult (like the father who let his son be beaten up, day after day and year after year, because he was afraid they’d be sued if his son fought back).

So I tell them this:  “Karate is something to be proud of, but not something to brag about.  If you tell people you know karate, some bad person will try to prove you don’t.  It’s better if you keep your knowledge here, at the dojo, and don’t try to show off to others.  But if you are ever afraid, and if you ever have questions, you come talk to me, and I promise to keep what you tell me safe.  And if you have to use your karate to really, truly defend yourself, I will back you up.  Just remember that the longer you’re here, the more you’ll learn, and every person who is a sensei wants to help you because we were all white belts, too.”

If my students are all adults, I tell them something with a bit more… oomph.

I tell them about Snarky Partners and their usual motives.  As you might guess, I almost always have at least one adult student who’d like to explain why a Snarky Partner doesn’t really mean to be snarky.

“Could they see you were upset?” I ask.

“Well, yes.  But it was just a joke!”

“Were you laughing?”

“Well… no…”

“Then smack ’em upside the head to make them stop!”

There is often some awkward laughter at this point—mostly over the idea of inflicting a small amount of physical discomfort on someone.

So I add this: “The Snarky Partner is hurting you and shaming you.  There is nothing morally wrong with making them stop.  And if that person thinks it’s all right when they hurt you, and not all right when you stop them, you need to think about what that means to you and your children.”

Yes, I do indeed say that—flat out, without mumble-speak censoring.

Because it is true.   Because I hate seeing folks who ought to be supported and encouraged have to instead explain away the overbearing snickering of someone who is being mean.

Some Snarky Partners really don’t understand what they’re doing to their partner/child/spouse.  They do indeed think dragging a weaker person around is just plain funny.  And a subset of these folks take well to being told and will change their behavior.  I’ve even had a boyfriend approach me to ask the best way to help!

Those are the easy ones.  The tough cases require a bit more of a direct approach.  So I go on to explain one of the foundational concepts of successful self-defense: you don’t have to make an attacker let go.  You can instead motivate them to let go.

Ram the heel of your hand—the hand they’re not holding—right between their eyebrows or under their chin.  Or grind your knuckles into the back of the hand holding you.  Or set your foot on the side of their knee and say you’ll kick if they don’t let go.  Or just give them an open hand slap across the mouth.   Yank on an ear.  Poke them in the armpit.  Spit.

No, the Snarky Partner will not be expecting any of those things.

They might try to tell you that as a way of excusing the fact they let go, to make you feel bad for making them stop their bad behavior.  They might even fall back on, “That’s not fair!”

Which…  Oh, ye gads.

Really, my darlings, I cannot even force myself to write about that piece of ridiculousness.

Y’see, self-defense isn’t about being stronger and tougher than an attacker, or even working some clever technique against an attacker.  It’s about doing what the attacker doesn’t expect and gaining the few precious seconds you need to escape.  But most importantly, it’s knowing—deep down and without a doubt—that you are worth defending.  That you’re worth your own defending, and you don’t need someone else to defend you in order to understand your own value.

The Snarky Partner doesn’t like that much.

They can go on not liking it for as long as they wish.

You don’t have to go on with them.



This article originally appeared for patrons only at Patreon.  Because they’re wonderful patrons, they support making the articles on self-defense and fight scenes available to everyone within a month of the original posting.  So if you find it valuable and helpful, thank the patrons, and consider becoming one yourself!

#SFWApro

Clawing My Way Out Of Bed

So the last couple weeks have been spent enacting the latest chapter of, "What Happens When Your Immune System Meets New Germs, Colorado Transplant Edition." I couldn't work at all for a week. I still have to monitor my screen time because of my eyes. Blargh.

This has not been a good year for me, healthwise. Or I suppose one could say it's been a great year, if the goal is to harden up the immune system. I guess we'll see how the second year in Colorado goes.

But there is good news!

I do believe I can meet the goal of launching Breath of Stone before 4th Street. There'll be far, far less pre-publication stuff than I wanted, but I'm more than willing to roll with that. The book itself is ready for readers, and that's what counts most!

Once Breath of Stone is in your hands, I'll be putting together the upcoming publication path. On a day to day basis, my schedule is unpredictable, but the overall time for writing is greater than at any time I lived in Indiana. That translates into more books! This is a good thing!

Thanks to a very generous patron, one of my two old and wounded cars will be repaired shortly after I return from 4th Street. That's more than a month ahead of what I'd be able to do otherwise, and the support and generosity is a most wonderful thing.

The next step will be to find a couple days for camping. 4th Street is its own celebration and retreat, but the need for solitude and silence is deep enough to make my teeth ache.

Have I mentioned here I'll be teaching karate, stage combat, and Shakespeare this autumn? I'll be working with a private arts enrichment youth organization, and I just couldn't be happier about that.

And, just in case I haven't mentioned it before, my son is awesome. How awesome? Well, I had to interrupt a conversation about his awesomeness when he came home early to bring me pepperoni and bacon pizza. That's how awesome.

That Place Between Payments

As you might or might not know, my darling wonderful and faithful Hyundai has needed some work for awhile now. I garaged it about two months ago, knowing I'd have fix-it funds by the end of July, and began driving the Jeep. No biggie.

Last weekend, my sis and I traded cars so she could take her boys camping. No biggie. I picked up the Jeep and, as is my driving habit unless it's damned cold or pouring rain, rolled down the windows. Thus I heard a not-really-great grinding noise when applying the brakes. Not much of a biggie, really. My father and I can change out break pads fairly easily.

So Monday we popped off the wheel, and discovered a nice handful of broken-up metal rattling around in there.

That's a biggie beyond my and my father's ability.

And thus the crisis of yesterday: Do I cancel 4th Street and put those funds toward fixing the secondary car, or do I attend 4th Street and just... deal without a car the best I can for a few weeks?

Y'see, even though the work out here has been better, I've been playing catch-up, and am still working to regain the financial buffer that was eaten by moving from Indiana to Colorado. I have the money for 4th Street OR the vehicle repair. Not both. And that's crummy right now.

I don't want anyone to think I'm unable to make ends meet on the important stuff. This isn't that sort of crisis. It just... sucks. It means no camping, no dashing out to meet someone, extensive coordination to continue helping watch my sister's kids (made more complicated by the fact she lives on the Air Force Base), and much pre-planning to confirm client meetings.

And it shuts down almost completely the ability to find quiet and solitude. Truly, that's the part making the choice tough. Until the end of July, I won't have adequate funds. Until the end of July, I won't have an independent living space. (We're remodeling, so...). Until the end of July, please forgive me if I whine and gnash my teeth. Taking a short evening drive has been keeping me quite sane. We'll find out this week if my hips can hold up long enough to replace the drive with an adequate walk.

And in the midst of all that, some people made my all weepy-eyed with offers to help. Honestly, my first impulse is to shoo that away out of... pride? Habit? Ego? All of those things? But I'm also coming to understand for myself what I've so often told others, and choosing to not push away.

So. *deep breath*

  • I do have a Patreon! One dollar gets you in the door, and more dollars gets you more. :) We're aaaaaalmost halfway to the goal of adding a monthly video. Check out the reward levels, and do check out the milestones. If you're in the mood to support, I'd be grateful to have you aboard. And if you're looking to be helpful, that's a speedy and direct way.


  • If you're already a patron, or cannot/don't wish to be one, your help spreading the word is extremely helpful.


  • As always, buying the available books--for yourself or someone else--is a gift that gives twice: once when you purchase, and once when your purchase bumps the novel's visibility for other potential buyers. Leaving a review on the book-buying site, or even a rating at Goodreads, also helps!


  • Breath of Stone's release is looming near, and on its heels is the silly little cookbook, so you'll have a chance to pick up something new as well!


  • And if you're attending 4th Street, please say hello to me. :-)







WHEW!

Five days ago, I mentioned to Facebook friends that I had a book release, two self-defense articles, and a website content project (for another client, not for me) all coming in the next month, and would be topping it off by heading to 4th Street Fantasy Convention.

This meant I didn't take time to read through and respond to any SFWA message board info, nor jump in to prod and/or propose and/or complete myself any SFWA committee business. Instead, I knuckled down on work that puts money in my pocket--necessary, since I've no pockets but my own from which to fund this life of mine--and did life-things like shared dinner with my son, attended my nephews' community theater performance, and scouted the local farmer's market.

And you know what?

I feel guilty today, because I didn't dive into conversations for less than a week.

There is something wrong with that.

I've written often about the importance of prioritizing one's life work, and about how my choice to self-publish is one way I support my priorities. I write on it and speak on it because I do things like... like feel guilty for not doing volunteer work in addition to everything else. I write on it, and speak on it, because I need the reminders myself.

Really, I know it's silly of me. I know, realistically, that anyone who wants to bitch about a few days' absence isn't worth my time. Not that anyone IS bitching, mind you. For heaven's sake, no one has any reason to NOTICE my absence, let alone give any time COMPLAINING about it!

So... it's my internal voice doing all the bitching. The voice that shouldn't be worth my time! The voice that tells me, always, I ought to be doing more, helping more, achieving more, connecting more, sharing more. It's a nasty, nasty internal voice, and I do wish I knew where it came from. I didn't come from a family that invested huge amounts of time and energy as volunteers. I was the family member always trying to get everyone else to show up at the soup kitchen, or sell things door-to-door for a cause, or .

Nope, this one can't be blamed on family dynamics or life's challenges. This is a quirk, an oddity, a damaging trait that's all mine. And it's damned annoying, knowing it's there, and knowing each time the self-talk I need to do to counter it, and knowing it'll pop back up regardless.

And you know what? Now I'm worried about posting this, because I took the time to write it rather than read through the discussions I missed.

Just A Little Preparation

Every now and then, for reasons I can't always suss out, folks in my social sphere bring up disaster preparedness independently of each other. This time, it seems it's come about as part of general insecurities and concerns triggered by election talk... which we ARE NOT going to discuss in specifics here, please, darlings! Suffice it to say I've had three conversations with politically diverse folks who share some of the same anxieties.

But there's one conversation in particular that struck me as needing to be addressed, so here ya go:

For at least two years, this friend of mine has been mentioning her desire to start storing extra food. For two years, she hasn't started. And she hasn't started because, once she starts looking up "food storage" on the internet, she gets overwhelmed with talk about grinding her own healthy grains, storing a gazillion gallons of water, how to sprout seeds at any time of year, making jerky in her oven, dehydrating a year's harvest, constructing a canned-goods rotation system, making her own all-natural herbal tinctures, stockpiling veterinary antibiotics... You get the idea.

She hasn't started because anything she could think of as a starting place seemed inadequate. Almost useless, even.

I took a little Google-toodle around and... Yes, the overwhelm is strong on this topic. My favorite was the three-month list that included adequate supplies for one person to bake bread.

Sorry--my family ain't getting freshly baked bread in an emergency. We can do just fine without bread in a short-term emergency, and if it's a long-term crisis, I just don't see myself expending all that energy--and cooking fuel--to bake bread. YMMV.

Besides, most folks who want to store food don't know how to bake bread anyway.

So here's the list I gave my friend as a starting place:
5 lbs quick cooking oats
2 lbs sugar
10 lbs white rice (Yes, brown rice is nutrient-rich. It also takes a long time to cook.)
5 lbs. dried fruit
12 cans of beans (chili, baked, plain, etc.)
24 cans of fruit
24 cans of veggies
12 cans of meat (chicken, tuna, beef, etc.)
12 cans of soup/stew/ravioli type stuff
1 big bottle of olive oil
1 big jar of peanut butter
1 big bag hard candy and/or mini-chocolates
1 big container of Tang or Tang-ish drink mix
1-2 big box(es) of crackers
Assorted teas and/or instant coffee
Powdered milk
Multivitamin/calcium
20 gallons of water

If she had a pet, I'd add a month's worth of pet food and water, too.

It'll last one person about one month, or four people about a week.

A quick-n-dirty off-the-top-of-my-head calculation puts the cost at between $200 and $250, depending on brands and price differences--way too much for her to purchase all at once. So we broke the list down into eight segments, and prioritized the items according to her needs. We added a little Sterno cookstove and fuel, too.

Questions she asked:
What the heck am I going to do with two whole pounds of sugar?
Sweeten your tea/coffee and oatmeal. Mix it with some of the oats and peanut butter (heck, nutella, if you'd rather) for quick and filling no-bake "cookies." You probably won't use all the sugar, but sugar is cheap.

But those canned meal things are full of fat and salt!
And food. They are full of food.

What's all that candy for?
When you're stressed, and when the kids are cranky, treats are good. Very, very good.

That's a lot of water!
Water is cheap, and water is priceless. Twenty gallons gives you a bit less than a gallon a day--well within average use, but not ideal. That's why you'll drink the juice from your canned fruits and use the liquid from canned veggies to supplement cooking rice. Water is also a pain in the rear to store, especially with limited space, so we do what we can.

***

My friend was thinking of food storage from the perspective of a more natural disaster--a bad snow storm that made roads impassible for days, floods or wildfires that limit supermarket restocking, that sort of thing.

To that, I'll add the reason food storage is important to me: inflation and income insecurity. Not too many years ago, my food storage sometimes became my grocery store. What we ate that week came from what was stored under my bed. Sure, these days I can put a little cash aside, but what $20 will buy today is more than it'll buy after six months of economic hardship. Storing the food makes more sense to me than storing the cash.

So there it is: a quick starting place that has nothing to do with suddenly living off the grid after a solar flare destroys the grid, causing global collapse that results in a landscape of crumbling infrastructure run by gun-toting looters riding mutant bison past zombie herds. It has everything to do with making sure you're not hungry on the third day of a fixable power outage, and mega-everything to do with ensuring emergency response personnel can focus on those who can't prepare for disasters.

And, yeah, it's knowing you can still feed your kids if the next paycheck suddenly vaporizes.

Over the last couple days, I've mentioned here and there I'm in the process of evaluating career options, and a subset of that evaluation is choosing the fiction projects that'll come up once Breath of Stone is launched in the coming month(ish).


The overall career stuff is... complicated. A matter of deciding priorities, time expenditures, current needs, future plans, and professional satisfaction. Some things are working wonderfully, but I'm not certain I want to keep working them. Other things are more risky and will require time investment, but I'm drawn to them nonetheless. We shall see. :-)


Anyway! It was suggested I share my Next Project Dilemma to see what y'all might want to see next. So! *drumroll* Here are the fiction projects on the horizon!


Books Three and Four of Desert Rising: These are the SheyKhala novels, picking up after Breath of Stone. These are long books—at least 125K words each. They take awhile. That said, Book Three is completely plotted and partially written. Book Four is partially plotted.


Tomorrow's Bones: Continuing the story of Sword and Chant. Chant was written as a stand-alone, but was always the opening to something more. This is a story that nags me often, but has a much smaller audience (at least at this time).


The Slaughterer: Something completely different! A stand-alone about a bounty-hunter pulled into his family's decision to run a kind of Underground Railroad for magic workers.


Suffragette Story: This one dropped into my brain, almost fully formed, during last year's Sirens Conference. It's alternate/secret history of the fight to gain women the right to vote, complete with magic and martial arts.


The new series I still struggle to describe: If I had to describe it, I'd say it's paranormal rural, but sometimes urban, contemporary fantasy. There are ghosts and small towns and historical sites and some city settings and sentient elements being manipulated as weapons. Each book is shorter than my usual tome, and I'd likely complete three of them before even publishing the first.


So... There are considerations that must be taken into account. Current faithful readers, market sizes, audience potential, variable time to be invested on each project...


But I'd love to hear what you think! The reader's perspective, the writer's perspective, your perspective.


Help me out here, my darlings! Talk about preferences as a reader, scheduling experience as a writer, knowledge, gut feelings, EVERYTHING.

Crossposted at Blair MacGregor Books.  Comment here or there.



Mundane Miscellany and Bits

If I haven’t made huge mistakes in the trauma/recovery area, I’m thinking I can wrap up revisions on Breath of Stone by the end of the weekend. I’d like to say sooner, but I’ve perhaps a couple hours a day for it through the next seven days. (When I sell more books, I’ll get to do fewer non-fiction projects…)  Then I must draft cover copy, and that’s just… SIGH.

I’ll be posting a couple chapters for patrons over at Patreon, along with this month’s article on injuries and trauma and healing.

There is a second Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off underway! I’m thinking of putting Sword and Chant in the mix. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of novel. Even some of the most complimentary reviews mention it’s difficult to define. And it’s written in omni viewpoint.  More than ever, the response will depend on the reviewer randomly assigned the odd thing.

I’ve found new places I want to camp!  Pawnee Grasslands, Toadstool Geologic Park, Paint Mines, Palo Duro, Bisti Badlands….  And of course these longings are strongest when over a foot and a half of snow sits outside my door.

Have you see the schedule for the Nebulas?  There is cool, cool stuff happening there, and the cost of the conference itself is, in my opinion, darn good.  Alas, the Chicago location is far too expensive for me.  Maybe next time.

I’ll still be taping my own NOTx talk on the most important aspect of self-publishing!  I was trying to set up a small audience, but I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon, alas, so it’ll likely just be me talking to you.

Lastly, the ankle is improving more quickly than I would have anticipated.  Just walking, there is nothing but a lingering tightness.  Going upstairs is quite workable.  Going downstairs happens slowly and stiffly, one stair at a time.  Side to side motion isn’t all that fun, and rotation doesn’t feel very good at all.  But progress!  It’s healing!


And if you haven't yet picked up your latest StoryBundle, please amble on over and do so. Our charity this time is Girls Write Now--a fantastic group dedicated to mentoring girls and improving their writing skills for success in all life endeavors. You'll also find in the bundle ten great reads from ten fantastic indie writers whose creativity, style, and craft is exceptional!



And now, back to work!

#SFWApro

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