Book Launch: Either Side of the Strand (Pelted Universe)

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Amazon | Apple | B&N | Kobo

Alysha Forrest and the crew of the Stardancer arrive in their first full-length adventure!

When a routine mapping expedition uncovers what looks like ruins on the planet Theth-129, the crew of the Stardancer is thrilled to have something more exciting to do than catalogue worlds only a terraformer could love. Their trip to the world’s surface confirms their wildest hopes: their ruins really were made by natives, a find of incredible significance. But there’s more to this world than an obelisk, a set of painted caves, and a mysterious shoreline. When the sea claims one of the ‘Dancer’s senior officers, their investigation reveals that the lost civilization might not be quite so lost after all.

Alysha Forrest and the crew of the Stardancer have no idea that their way of life is on trial. The fate of an entire world is resting on the outcome….

What can I say about Strand? It’s a homage to the first Star Trek’s pattern of high-minded, optimistic adventures in space, with a touch of camp… Alysha even goes around bare-chested for a while, like Captain Kirk with his eternally ripped shirts. It has moments of humor and grief, a quick-moving plot, and makes a great introduction to characters I plan to develop throughout the series. Several people have asked if they need to read any of the previous Alysha Forrest stories to get this one: the answer to that is definitely no! In fact, because at the time of writing I thought Alysha’s Fall would be long out of print, I did with Strand what I did with Transcend and the events of Wingless, summarizing Alysha’s background in the narrative. So whether you’ve read the first few stories or not (or if you even want to—Alysha’s Fall is full of triggery material), you can pick up Strand and enjoy it. (If you do want to go back and read it all, you can either start with Alysha’s Fall if you’re fine with high-trigger stories, or you can start with “Second,” which is a fan favorite.)

Oh, yes, fair warning to my military SF buffs: Fleet is not a real military. Please don’t expect them to be acting like the Navy. (This becomes an important plot point… later! Stay tuned for upcoming adventures!)

So the book’s got aliens. It’s got an all-female cast. (Literally. I think the only male speaking parts are extras, and two of the three are aliens.) It’s got spaceships and first contact and a mystery and mouthy Harat-Shar. It’s in the Pelted universe, so if you’ve run out of Vasiht’h or Reese or Lisinthir, here’s your ticket back in. And it’s got a whale-sized backmatter section, not just with information about the Alliance and Fleet, but with author sketches as well! Go forth and enjoy! And as always, if you like it, tell your friends, leave a review, and pass it on… and thank you! Word of mouth is gold!

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“I am the Calligrapher, and I serve Civilization.”

Given recent events, I thought it would be a good time to put a book on society, community, and the tending of culture on sale. For the next two weeks, you can get The Aphorisms of Kherishdar e-book for $2.99 at all retailers. This book is a collection of 25 “wisdom tales” told from the viewpoint of aliens, and is intended as a meditation on the virtues of civilization.

From reviews:
“…It’s hard, sometimes, to peer into the alien societies that we have around us in real life–all sorts of historical and political baggage gets in the way. This book lets you stretch your intellect in that direction without the risk of those land mines.”

“…A book to read when you need a balm for the soul.”

“…This book…what can I say about this book? I can say that I constantly re-read it and love it to the point where I have a word doc of quotes from it I think on when times are rough.”

“…You can read this lyrical book all at once, and immerse yourself in this complex and clearly-imagined alien society. Other people may prefer to read each story separately as a meditation, once a day or week, or when you need inspiration. This book is a gentle, enchanting read, with beautiful illustrations, also by the author. For me, reading these Aphorisms was a pleasant change of pace from the action-packed fantasy I usually read.”

If you buy the e-book on Amazon, you can get the amazing narration by Daniel Dorse for an additional $1.99. Since Dorse is the man who convinced me that audiobooks could be a work of art, I cannot recommend enough picking up the audiobook edition if you enjoy the format.

Anyway. Check it out, if you need a rest from strife.

Amazon
B&N
Kobo
iTunes

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New Cover for Rosary! And Sale!

Here’s the before-and-after shot:

newoldcoversThe e-book cover is already available, and the new print edition is on its way. To celebrate, I’ve put the e-book on sale at all retailers! Until the end of March, Rosary will be available for $2.99 at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Apple. I hope the new cover will revitalize its sales! Because I’d love to get around to writing the sequel. :)

Oh, wait’s it about? It’s a dreadfully earnest urban fantasy about an angel, a demon, a priest, and a couple of high school kids trying to prevent the Apocalypse. It is full of my trademark platonic relationships (most very touchy-feely). Plus it has awesome horses, and a grackle. I admit I love the grackle best of all.

Pick it up if you need a story about love, redemption, and sweetness! And tell your friends if you enjoy it. :)

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Another Trilogy in the Bag!

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Started January 8th, and finished today! The final book of Morgan’s trilogy is done!

*pause*

*exhale*

At least the draft is. The editing stage is going to take longer than average because I’ll be doing all three books of this trilogy at once. (That’s roughly 1100 pages’ worth of stuff, mind.) My goal, then, hazily, is to let the story lie for a few weeks while I think about anything else, and then start that work… once I’m pleased with how it’s looking, I’ll be asking for first readers (probably sometime in late April/early May). The plan is still to self-publish; I am considering using Kindle Scout for Book 1, but if that doesn’t fly I’ll have the book back within a month, and I’ll still be able to make my early summer release date. We’ll see how that goes.

From a goals perspective, my only fiction goal for this year was to release this trilogy, because between this and Thief of Songs I’ll have put out four new novels this year. As a reward for accomplishing that, I’ve told myself I can do whatever I want with the remainder of 2015. I can faff around in existing universes, run serials for pennies, whatever floats my boat. What I’m thinking will float my boat is to write some fun things in my existing universes, like another book for the Eldritch, and possibly Book 2 of Amet and Dancer’s story (in which they have their First Real Fight—oh noez!). But I’m not going to look seriously at any of that until the Blood Ladders trilogy is off at retailers.

I am cautiously stunned/pleased to be done, or at least so close to done, because you never stop messing with a book until it’s up for sale. This trilogy was hard for me and stretched me in many ways! I will probably need a few weeks to decompress. I am looking forward to them.

So… yes! Happiness! I r done! It is now time to faceplant into some celebratory chocolate! *goes off to do this*

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Patreon Gifts!

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I’ve started work on the Pelted coloring book, and have decided advance looks at it would make a nice gift for Patreon patrons. For the foreseeable future, as I finish pages I’ll be making them available for download to everyone who’s donated over a dollar. To be clear: if you are not one of my Patreon folks, you will still eventually have access to this when I publish the coloring book! The gift part is being able to have access early, and as individual downloads, to re-print as you please.

The first page is for the Seersa! I hope you all enjoy it as much as I enjoyed drawing that doll! And if you’re not into coloring, I hope you enjoy the biographical data on the side there.

I’ve also uploaded Hour 6 of the Shell audiobook, so pick up the MP3 if you missed last night’s livestream!

***

In terms of experimentation, I have discovered, perhaps unsurprisingly, that when I make content exclusively available to Patreon, I get more people signing up for Patreon. While it’s not my intention to put everything I do behind a paywall (for instance, the serials will still be free for everyone to read), I am going to keep finding little gifts to give my Patreon patrons when I can because the money is so welcome. My goal is to strike a balance between giving things away (because we’ve all been in that position where our desire for art outstrips our budget) and feeding everyone over here. So far, hopefully so good!

And as always, thank you all for your support! I appreciate it. ❤

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Instructions for Joining the Livestream!

Start Time: 9 PM EST! Until 10:30-ish PM.
I’ll probably start the camera around 8:30 for the pre-show! Broadcast of the audio starts at 9!

URL: http://www.livestream.com/mcah

What do I do? Go to that URL, open the chat window, choose a name for yourself and say hi! If you have a Flash/script blocker you will need to unblock the page to see the stream.

Activity of the Night: Listening to The Worth of a Shell audiobook! And I’ll be drawing for the Pelted coloring book! (Subscribers to the Patreon will start getting monthly single sheets to download to color.)

Hope to see some of you there!

Meanwhile, as requested, a Paypal button for single tips, to help pay the narrator:

And a link to my Patreon.

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Pet Names

First some quick news: a reminder that this Sunday is our podcast night (9 PM EST!); I’m also doing a SFWA podcast Friday before lunch for indies/small press folks thinking about joining. Link to that later this week. Morgan 3 is at 77K words, and I suspect we are about 25K from the ending… I am anticipating that being done by the first week of April. Finally, I’m hoping to collect another couple of reviews on Thief of Songs, since 20 is the minimum for some of the promotion sites I use. If you liked the book, consider leaving a quick note on Amazon! Thank you!

Now, on to the day’s question, which is prompted by my list of things to fix in the Blood Ladders trilogy once I finish it. Do you have separate pet/love names for people you care about?

I ask this because it seems completely natural for me to have a note on my list that says ‘make sure Morgan calls each person he cares about by the same distinct name.’ So if Ivy’s going to be ‘my dear’, then Amhric won’t be, and if I want him to be ‘my dear’ than Ivy should be ‘beloved’ or what-have-you. This is probably a result of my upbringing. Not only did my entire family have pet names for each other, they were contextual (probably thanks to Spanish being so fond of diminutives). My mother had different pet names for both me and my sister. My father’s were different for me from my mother’s. Mine for my sister was different than my mother’s for her. I could tell from a single name who was talking, who they were addressing, and how serious the situation was. (There’s a reason there’s so much naming protocol in all my alien cultures.)

Now, I think this is totally normal. Once someone becomes a figure of importance in my heart, they get their own distinct name. Sometimes they get several, if they serve multiple roles in my life (the way my spouse is both my husband and the father of my child), or if I need multiple “registers” for speaking to them, the way I switch out pet names for my child based on how serious our conversation is.

But I’ve met people who use the same pet name for everyone they care about. One particular friend called all her loved ones ‘baby’ or ‘babe’, from her children to her spouse to her best friends. This seemed crazy to me, but it has the virtue, I guess, of simplicity…! But she’s not the only person I know like this. I know the way I do things has a lot of pitfalls. Calling people by pet names they don’t like or feel you  haven’t earned is insulting; learning that someone is using the same pet name for you they use for other people is disheartening (and may give the impression that you don’t care enough about them to give them a unique monicker). It also removes obscurity: if I call you by something when I’m pleased with you and something when I’m being grumpy or serious, then you’ll know my mood by how I call you. That sort of thing. But I feel like at least if I was in a room full of my loved ones and I called out a name, I’d only get one person’s attention, not all of them!

So what’s your naming culture? What did you grow up with? How do you name your loved ones, and is it to closer to one-name-for-everyone or a-billion-names-for-each-person?

Here’s a bonus: one of my pet names growing up, from my mother, was ‘pupusi.’ I reminded her of that today and asked where it came from, and we laughed because she wasn’t sure she remembered. But we both figure it came from ‘pupa’ (with a Spanish diminutive added on for cuteness) because of my transformation from baby into child, and how miraculous it was to her.

Anyway, talk to me! :)

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The Peking Acrobats

Followers of my twitter might remember late last year me dithering about whether to buy expensive event tickets or save that money for a new print edition. In the end, I said ‘Oh, I’d rather take Daughter to see this’ and hit ‘buy.’ The tickets came in the mail a week later and I pinned them to my corkboard in anticipation of the date, which was several months off.

Well, that day was yesterday, and the show was the Peking Acrobats, and it was worth every penny I paid for it.

I have literally never been in a hall where you could hear everyone gasp at the same time, and in such numbers that it sounded like the quickness of a tide hitting shore. And laugh, too! Lots of funny sketches to go with the awe-inspiring and (frankly!) terrifying ones. And all of it was redonkulously unbelievably unpossible. You had to resort to internetisms to express just how insane most of the acts were. “I can’t even!” I said to Spouse on the way home. And I couldn’t!

So a man climbs up on nine chairs balanced on four wine bottles on a pedestal and then does a handstand, with no net or safety equipment. WHAT

Or a contortionist bends over backwards and cups her own face with her feet. WHAT

Or the men in lion costumes dancing on little raised sets barely the width of the balls of their feet–two men, one costume, so to do the little ‘lion is scratching his head while standing on these things’ poses, two people had to balance together and not shove each other off… WHAT

Women dancing while throwing detached yoyos at one another, catching them, slinging them under their feet and behind their backs and then spinning in circles over and over while continuously tossing themselves and catching the yoyos. WHAT

Just… WHAT

There were live musicians too, on traditional Chinese instruments… plus drums, and one of the drum routines involved four girls with tiny drums and they were dancing as much as drumming, twirling the sticks and swinging their long ponytails around and having the grandest time, so we did too.

And they did all this for an hour and a half and it was never old and never repeated itself and every moment of it was stunning.

If they come through your town and you get a chance, you absolutely should go see them. But buy tickets immediately, because they sell out insanely fast!

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I’ve Been Thinking–

Sword of the Alliance Splash
(“A dangerous pastime–” “I know.”)

I’ve been casting around for a new serial for a while, because I miss doing one… but the book I’m working on now is seriously eating me, and I know better than to think I can sustain two new things at once. Morgan’s gotta come first or Morgan won’t get done, and at this point I’m so close to done that it would be stupid to sabotage my own progress.

But it occurred to me today, (see: “dangerous pastime”) that for a while now I’ve really wanted to fix up the first Alysha novel. This book is already written, but while the plot is good, everything else needs overhauling. I wrote it back in 1999, and while there are things from 1999 that I can leave well enough alone, this wouldn’t be one of them, and this is the reason I haven’t published Sword of the Alliance yet.

Since this story already has a plot that hangs together, preparing it would mostly involve looking at that chapter’s scenes and rewriting them with my current skill levels. This does not seem like very strenuous work to me. I could see doing it while doing other things. And more importantly, after I’m done with Morgan I want to write something else in the Pelted universe–either Sediryl’s story or Dreamhealers 3–so the new work I’d be doing would be in the same headspace as the serial. That’s much easier on me. It creates synergies. I like synergies!

So I am turning this idea over, seeing how I feel about it. Tentatively, I like it!

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Not in Need of Rescue 2

I feel like I’m not drawing enough, and I miss drawing, so yesterday I started going through my sketchbooks with a vague notion that I’d start a sequel to Not In Need of Rescue. (Why not, right? Things that come in sets!)

As usual, I want this to be a mix of work I’ve already done and new work. So stuff like this from older sketchbooks:

Stillness and Mot--oooh Shiny!
As well as new things. I did this engineer last night (I mentally titled this one “Proof of Concept”):

engineer

And several people asked for centaurs, so I thought I’d do this zaftig draft horse edition, having a comfortable cose with a fairy friend. They are passing the Bechdel test, you just can’t hear them.

A Comfortable Cose

So I’m still in the “noodling stage,” but I think I might start moving into the “working” stage soon. Doing coloring book pages is relaxing for me; it’s a way to drag myself off the computer and switch my brain off the “constantly stimulated” mode and into the “pay attention quietly to one thing at a time” mode, which makes me feel less shattered.

While talking with Rowyn, I also came up with the brilliant notion that the Pelted coloring book pages would make a good gift for Patreon folks. Everyone will eventually get all the pages bound up in a coloring book, but I think I will do one or two pages a month and give them to Patreon folks as a download so they can get advance coloring time.

So, if you have things you’d like to see in Not in Need of Rescue 2, now’s the time to suggest them!

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