Tag Archives: e.c. ambrose

Vectors: Writing Time

This week we address one of those constant conundrums for writers. “How do you find time to write and keep up with all your other activities?”

J. Kathleen CheneyJ. Kathleen Cheney

This is a thorny question. I’m both a very slow writer and not as good at time management as I should be.

I’m currently a homemaker with no social life. Despite that, I still struggle at times. While you might not think that being a homemaker is a real job, it is. And worse, if you set that job aside to write at home, the evidence of your choice is all around you all the time. Floors don’t get cleaned, dishes don’t get washed, dogs don’t get walked…and you can see that lack. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “I’ll just take a few minutes off writing to vacuum the living room; it really needs to be done. I’ll just take a few minutes to clean out the fridge…paint the baseboards…trim the hedges…go buy some groceries.” It’s easy to lose all your writing time that way.

So that’s one of the things I’m working on this year. Trying to get my home demands under control and still set aside time to write. I’m also planning to stay off the internet more. (That’s one reason that I sometimes work at the bagel shop…no internet there, and no chores to be done.) I’m hoping that I’ll manage to write a bit more this year….or at least a bit more efficiently!

E.C. AmbroseE. C. Ambrose

Here’s the most valuable thing I know about time: nobody’s ever going to give you more of it. You don’t “make” time, you take it–from something else. Many writers take it from sleep, by getting up an hour earlier before the kids or the day job. It’s definitely a juggling act if you’ve got all that going on. So the question is, where will you be able to take the time you need? Best thing I ever did for my writing time was not getting cable installed. With a house in a tricky location for broadcast tv, I basically couldn’t watch television for years. Now, I don’t even miss it. But I know writers who are addicted to some show, or who think they’ll just sit and chill for a little while before they write, and don’t get up for three hours. . .

Take it from a hobby or another outside pursuit. Take it from your lunchbreak or downtime at work by bringing your file along (if you’re allowed to do this at work). Take it from your commute by riding the train and writing at the same time, or by listening to research material and relevant lectures as audiobooks. Take it from dinner preparation by ordering meals for delivery a couple of times a week, or delegating that task to other adults or responsible kids. Do a workout at home instead of driving to the gym, and use the extra minutes. Shave a few minutes off of various parts of your day and you can accumulate whole hours sometimes!

The bottom line is, take it whenever you bloody well can. If you can swipe fifteen minutes, write for fifteen minutes. Maybe you don’t get into the flow–but then again, maybe you retrain your recalcitrant imagination to flow when *you* say so. You only get 24 hours a day no matter what, and you don’t know how many days you’ll have. Some of those hours are claimed by other responsibilities, sure. But many of them are still up to you. Become aware when you are making a choice to do something when you could be using that time to write. You may not always choose to write–but you need to know that you *are* making a choice, and you could be making a different one.

//rant over//

Steve BeinSteve Bein

I’ll start by saying something that won’t make me popular with a lot of writers: it’s really not that hard to make room for writing.

I’ll defend that claim in more detail elsewhere, but the short of it is this: as extracurricular activities go, writing isn’t needy. It’s cheap. It’s low tech. You don’t need teammates or exotic equipment or rehearsal space. I find it much harder to carve out time for jiujitsu than writing.

One thing is certain: you’re not going to find time for writing. As E.C. Ambrose just pointed out, you’re not going to make time for it either. There is no time to be found or made anywhere. There are time thieves—hordes of them—but it turns out they never steal time from you. You hand it over.

Children are notoriously greedy time thieves, and the wise writer would do well to steer clear of them. Ditto for employers, friends, family, worldly possessions, and bodily needs. The ideal writing space is the noumenal realm of the disembodied mind.

Unfortunately, the commute to there is a motherfucker.

So barring out-of-body experiences, all you can do is avoid known time thief hideouts. In my own case, it really helps that I don’t like being advertised to. That made me divorce my television. All of a sudden I had loads of time.

It also helps to make to-do lists and stick to them. And to have a job that leaves you feeling energized instead of exhausted. And to dislike shopping. And to not care about the Olympics. And to be a lousy cook, so you only eat simple things, so you don’t waste time in the kitchen. And to be a Cubs fan, so you’re completely inured to disappointment, so you’ll never waste time moping when you collect your latest rejection letter.

See? Easy.

M.K. HutchinsMK Hutchins

Setting goals is huge for me. I’ve always responded well to these.

I have a standing goal of at least one new book a year, which I’ve kept for the past five years. This year I think I’ll hit two. Right now, my daily wordcount goal is only a hundred words a day. Even when I’m tired or exhausted or sick, a hundred words sounds so easy, of course I can do that!

And then I sit down and write every day. For me, I think those first few sentence on the blank page are often the hardest. I never end anywhere near a hundred words. Five hundred, a thousand, three thousand…

And if there’s a day where life stuff intervenes and I only write 100 words, that’s fine. The rest of my life is important, too. One hundred words isn’t a lot, but I consider practicing the fine art of just sitting down and writing to be invaluable. For me, practicing has made this easier, and I can often make the most of the sporadic bits of time I do have instead of wishing and waiting for the perfect, quiet afternoon.

Beth Cato

Beth CatoWriting is my day job. I’m not one of those people who can write in a place like Starbucks; the idea of writing while surrounded by people simply appalls me. Therefore, I need to write at home, even though there are abundant distractions there. The internet is evil–the little beeps of Twitter alerts (I really need to shut that sound off), new email notifications, the number alerts on Facebook, refreshing Codex forums… yeah. I’m distracted easily by the “OOH, SHINY” aspects of the internet. Don’t even get me started on that rabbit hole known as Pinterest.

It helps me a lot to have goals: monthly, weekly, daily. I write down what I do. I also try to establish the internet to be a little brain break for me if I reach a certain stage, like finishing a scene, a chapter, making a certain word count. On weekdays, my day is built around my son’s school schedule. I know I need to get as much done as possible before I fetch him, because after that the evening is a blur of supervising his homework, making supper, finding out how my husband’s day was, etc. The morning and early afternoon are my time.

It takes a lot of discipline, and some days are sure harder than others. If I don’t make my goals by evening, well, I have to hold myself accountable. My husband has season tickets for the Phoenix Coyotes. He loves for me to go along to games. There have been many days recently where I’ve had to tell him, “Sorry. I have things to do.” I’ve had to say no to other invitations, too. I try to schedule medical appointments and house maintenance for times when I don’t expect a terrible work load (not that it always works out as I plan, since HarperCollins operates on a whole different schedule). I love using my crock pot for meals because it saves a lot of time and creates many leftovers. I’ve been waking up before dawn so I can exercise and get an early start on the day.

Sometimes I feel guilty or selfish because of how much time I need at the computer. It’s a tough balance with the wife/mother/daughter/friend roles, but it must be done. Writers gotta write.

Vectors: Favorite Aliens

This week the novelociraptors go scifi and explore the question, “What is your favorite alien race?”

Beth Cato

I first saw this question and thought, “Hey, this is easy.” Then I realized. “Uh, no it’s not.” There are so many aliens out there to choose from, and the stand-outs for me are in movies more so than books. I was raised on Star Wars–the words “Da Wars” were literally the second and third words I spoke as a baby–and always loved Admiral Ackbar and the Hammerhead in the Cantina and the Jawas.

FlightoftheNavigatorBut to pick a favorite, I’m going to go with something somewhat more obscure. There’s this ’80s movie Flight of the Navigator. I won’t spoil the whole thing if you’ve never seen it, but it has time travel, family drama, and a sentient spaceship. The ship is very formal at first but in the course of the movie it becomes humanized by exposure to an Earth kid. They end up with this very endearing relationship that’s largely based on respect. It’s deep stuff. The movie has actually aged pretty well, too.

As far as aliens go, I could also be all nostalgic for The Last Starfighter, though that hasn’t aged well at all. But I still love it. “I’ve always wanted to fight a desperate battle against incredible odds…”

Fran Wilde

I’m inclined to think of Mrs Whatsit and her friends from A Wrinkle in TimeA_Fire_Upon_the_Deep.bookcover as aliens or angels or a bit of both sometimes. They are wonderful.

Most of my favorite aliens are found in Vernor Vinge’s worlds: the Tines, the Skoderiders, and the Spiders, from A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. I don’t want to spoil someone’s own first encounters, so I’m only going to speak in generalities. In part, what entrances me is that each group is so beautifully conveyed on the page. I’m caught up in their communities, their means of connection and their politics, which are so very different from ours. With that, each group’s methods of communicating with the humans who are aliens on their worlds is fascinating. I love that there are as many “good” and “evil” “aliens” in Vinge as there are “good” and “evil” “humans”.

Michael R. Underwood

Favorite alien race? Do I have to choose just one? How can I pick the trifurcated Minbari over the grandiose conniving Centauri? Do I pick the symbiotic oankali of Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood over the endlessly creepy Xenomorphs of the Alien franchise?

There’s an endless supply of answers, so I’m going to focus on a weird species from one of my favorite Science Fiction stories of the last decade: the Mass Effect Trilogy.

Mass Effect has plenty of interesting races. The Krogan are an interesting tragic twist on the uplifted race of warriors, providing both Urdnot Wrex and Grunt, some of the most memorable characters of the series. The Asari were at times a bit too male sexual fantasy-ish for my taste, though I liked the SFinal work the series did with them being mono-gendered and enthusiastically exogamous in their partnering.

But the race I really want to talk about, due to their delightful weirdness, is the Elcor. Slow, methodical, and mighty, the Elcor evolved on a high-gravity planet, and communicate largely through scent, microexpressions, and subvocalized infrasound. This means that when they started communicating with other races, races that lacked their physiology were left taking Elcor speech as entirely flat, without affect.

Elcor ImageIn response, all of the Elcor you meet throughout the series have adopted a speech pattern that I found very interesting as a player and as an SF fan. They preface every line of dialogue with an emotive statement to provide context, in lieu of tone.

Example:
When an obstinate human threatens an Elcor bouncer, the Elcor says “With barely constrained menace: Try it.”

The kind of rich worldbuilding and thoughtful design that lead to the Elcor’s speech patterns help make them one of my favorite races in SF.

Steve Bein

So many choices! And so many favorites over the years!

At age four I’d have said wookiees. Nothing could have made me happier than having Chewbacca over for dinner. (Come to think of it, that might still be true.)

At age eleven I’d have said the Decepticons. They deserved to win.

At age thirteen I’d have said the aliens from Aliens. But only for a year. The next summer I would change my mind to the predator from Predator. Today it’s hard to decide. They’re both totally badass.

At twenty I’d have said the Vorlons from Babylon 5. That show is tied with Firefly for Least Appreciated Really Awesome Show, and the Vorlons were at the heart of what made it cool. You almost never get to see them. You only see the encounter suits they contain themselves in, because if you were to look at them directly, you’d think you were beholding a god. Oh, and their spaceships aren’t even spaceships; they’re living creatures, symbiotes to the Vorlons themselves. Wicked cool.
Chewbacca: property of Twentieth Century Fox/Lucasfilm
And today? I look back at this list and I see all my favorites are from TV and cinema, not from books. That’s a little disappointing. Then I start thinking about my favorite sci-fi books and I realize there are hardly any aliens in them. There are alien minds—Wintermute in Neuromancer, the Guild Navigators in Dune—but not many real live according-to-Hoyle extraterrestrials.

Hm.

Honestly, I didn’t know that about myself before I sat down to write this. Now I wonder what to make of it. Maybe it’s the philosopher in me: I seem to be more interested in unfamiliar thinking than unfamiliar anatomy.

Maybe. I’d still invite Chewbacca over for dinner.

Tina Connolly

Image from AmazonI don’t have much to add, but I wanted to throw in a vote for the little guys on the Mushroom Planet. I loved those books! I should try reading them to my currently space-obsessed preschooler after we finish Dr. Dolittle in the Moon. See how they hold up. … OMG, I just opened the first page of The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet and the hero is reading Dr. Dolittle in the Moon. Great minds think alike, I guess!

Tex Thompson

Well, I’m one of those who was raised on a steady diet of Star Trek. I loved it. I did time for it (if you count detention in the 4th grade for reading during class time as incarceration, I mean). And one of the things you could count on in any Trek iteration was that there would always be an alien or two on the crew. There’s Mr. Spock, and his Vulcan issues. There’s Mr. Worf, and his Klingon issues. How charming!

Then came Deep Space Nine, and it blew. my. mind. I LOVED the Ferengi – at first just for the sake of having actual humor to break up all the war-scarred grit and gravity. What funny, ugly, greedy little people they were!Ferengi: image property of Star Trek and Paramount

But looking back on it, DS9 did something really remarkable with the Ferengi. I can’t think of any other Trek race that began as comic relief (and earlier, clownish villains-of-the-week) and then developed into a fully-realized, three-dimensional culture. And I think a huge part of that was having not one token Ferengi, but a whole family of fully-realized, three-dimensional Ferengi characters, whose struggles are affected by but not limited to the expectations of their society. There’s Quark, trying to reconcile his conscience with his ledger. There’s Rom, striving to be a good single father and something more than a bar-flunky. There’s Nog, shocking his family and risking everything to join Starfleet, and Moogie, with her scandalous, horrific desire to wear clothing, and Zek, whose shrewd leadership is increasingly hampered by his own advancing age.

In short, there is a terrific example of how we can leave behind the “These are the _____ and they’re basically all _____” model for crafting alien cultures – and still hold on to a good sense of humor.

E.C. Ambrose

LostSteerswomanMine would have to be the radially symmetric 4-limbed creatures in Rosemary Kirstein’s Steerswoman’s Road series. Yeah, I know, I’ve talked about these books before, but the aliens are definitely one reason to read. They play a huge role in my favorite book of the series so far, The Lost Steersman, in which our heroine follows a friend’s map to the end of the known world and interacts with these creatures that had been entering and terrorizing small villages.

She performs an intriguing dissection, then works on entering their society, finding out that they have three different modes of communication, all of them quite striking. Don’t want to spoil it (because I want lots more people to read them!!) I think the creatures are simply called “demons,” from the perspective of the humans. These aliens are *really* alien and fascinating.

M.K. Hutchins

Favorite stories with aliens include Ender’s Game, “Buy Jupiter” by Asimov, and, more recently, “Neighbors” by Rob Butler. But I love those for reasons other than the aliens in them.
DS(9 logo from Wikipedia
I grew up on Star Trek — literally, my earliest memory is Klingons swinging bat’leths at each other. And Klingons are awesome. But my favorite are those big-eared Ferengi. Star Trek first used them as a stereotyped shorthand for hypocrites, liars, and swindlers, but in DS9, they got to speak for themselves as protagonists and heroes.

And they made unique, fascinating heroes. Quark showed his dedication to business contracts by hiring someone to assassinate himself because he’d erroneously sold his own vacuum desiccated remains. Nog and his bartering skills navigated the Great Material Continuum to get the USS Defiant the graviton stabilizer it needed — while helping a bunch of other people get stuff they wanted in the process. Who else in Star Fleet thinks like that? And let’s not forget an all-Ferengi team facing down the militant Jem’Hadar. Yeah. That’s good stuff. Instead of a caricature of greed, DS9 gave us a bunch of individuals navigating their Ferengi culture in different ways. Sweet.

Maybe I also loved them because for the first time, Star Trek had children present whose relationships with each other mattered. Watching Jake and Nog grow up together, while I was growing up myself, was pretty cool.

J. Kathleen Cheney
Sime-Gen
I’ve had to give this quite a bit of thought. It seems to me that my favorite aliens are…humans. Well, at least sort of human.

I loved the Sime-Gen Universe created by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, where one subspecies of human was dependent on the other. While both sides of that coin are human, they’ve diverged along the path somewhere from the humanity we know. (The Sime have tentacles on their forearms to suck out the Gens’ life energy.) The Liaden Universe of Steve Miller and Sharon Lee is another of my favorites. The Liaden are another subspecies of human who had long ago left Earth (maybe) behind to settle a planet called Liad, and didn’t look back.

Serpent’s Reach is, without doubt, my favorite novel by C. J Cherryh, and in it, there are three tiers of ‘human’…the aristocratic Kontrin, the normal Betas, and the cloned Azi who are essentially slaves. Although technically the Azi are human, they are programmed to serve. And while the backbone of the story is a political hotbed, the most interesting part to me was watching one of the Azi break his conditioning and step out into the greater world, realizing as he did so that he’d cut himself off himself from everything he’d ever known. (And the majat? Gotta love giant ants.)

Vectors: Left Wanting More, Part 1

Has there ever been a time when you wanted more from an author or a series, but for some reason, that next book never materialized? Here’s what some of our authors (and a guest or two) have to say about the topic:

 

Martha Wells

Our guest today, Martha Wells is the author of a number of fantasy novels, short stories, and non-fiction articles. Her books include The Cloud Roads, The Wizard Hunters, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer. The Siren Depths was published in December 2012 by Night Shade Books, and is the third in the Books of the Raksura series. Her most recent YA fantasy, Emilie and the Sky World, will be out in March 2014.

c2431Janet Kagan published three books, Mirabile (1991), Uhura’s Song (1985), and Hellspark (1988). Mirabile is a collection of stories about a lost colony on an alien world, with a genetic database that was damaged in transit, and a special biology and genetics team must stop outbreaks of bizarre and dangerous creatures caused by errors in the terraforming. Uhura’s Song is a Star Trek novel of first contact. Hellspark is about a woman sent to solve a murder mystery among a group of people with wildly different cultural backgrounds. These were some of my favorite books in college, and I read Uhura’s Song until it fell apart and I desperately searched for the sequel to Mirabile, not understanding that it would never appear. All three books are about understanding and communication, exploring differences and finding common ground, and living with our environment, and the characters are engaging and intriguing and fun. I wish she had written twenty or thirty more books, and even that might not have been enough.

Carol Severance published Demon Drums (1992), Storm Caller, and Sorcerous Sea (1993), a fantasy trilogy set in a world based on the Pacific Islands, following a priestess who is trying to sever her connection with an ancestral shark god. Even back in the early 90s, I was looking for fantasy that didn’t have a European-like setting, and I loved these books. The magic and the gods are both benign and frightening, and the books had an awesome female main character. Severance did one other SF novel and some short stories, but I would have loved to see more fantasy by her.

E.C. Ambrose

9780345461056_p0_v1_s260x420Rosemary Kirstein is one of my favorite elusive authors. She writes an amazing series called The Steerswoman’s Road, about an organization of women who are mapping their world and gathering all the information they can about it. This series reads like fantasy, with a basically medieval level of technology, but it has a secret. . . As the first book progresses, the protagonist has found another fragment of a strange blue crystal and is trying to work out where they might have come from. Using the dispersal pattern of the pieces and a bit of math by the fireside, she determines that the fragments might all have been from the same object. . .if it were possible for it to have been thrown by a giant several miles tall, or perhaps, fallen from the stars. And, in fact, one of the stars has recently vanished.

I love the characters and the concepts in Kirstein’s world, I love the way the reader, who is familiar with science fiction, can make some guesses about the truth–and yet without feeling like the characters are fools for not noticing right away. Each book has lead to more discoveries, to wizards and magic and greater character depth. yeah, it’s good stuff. Rosemary, the author, often comes to my local cons, and has even read excerpts from book 5, which she swears she’s working on, but she’s also a computer geek and a bit of a workaholic in that sphere. I keep hoping this next one will be the con where she announces the release date. Then I have to wait a little longer.

Lawrence M. Schoen

JCKFSHDWSF0000This is a brutal question, but I’m going to break into two parts. I’d have liked more of Burroughs’s planetary adventure novels; I’d trade ten later Tarzan novels for another visit to Amtor or Barsoom, and twenty of them for a sequel to Beyond the Farthest Star. I want an Alfred Bester novel that takes on the SF trope of Time Travel the way he brilliantly defined the genre’s take on Telepathy and Teleportation and Immortality in his other works. I’d like to discover a manuscript in a trunk in New Mexico with a sequel to Zelazny’s Jack of Shadows and find out if Morningstar reached Jack in time, and what happened after. I desperately wish my friend Jay had more time, and could give us the third volume from his City Imperishable trilogy.

Those are the books I don’t imagine getting, but there are others that I might. I want to read Walter Jon Williams’s third book in his Metropolitan series, if only a major publisher will come along and pay him to write it. I want to begin reading a long series of books about the next generation of Vorkosigans. I want another book form China Mieville like Perdido Street Station that pummeled me with its sheer brilliance and creativity, or Embassytown that felt like he was writing directly to me. And I’m sure I’m not alone wishing that Ursula Le Guin would take us back to the world of The Left Hand of Darkness, because surely we need it here in this 21st century we’re living in.

Beth Cato

5The first author that comes to mind is Harper Lee. Back in my teens when I was thoroughly entrenched in the fantasy genre, I read To Kill a Mockingbird and was just blown away by the artistry of it. I know there are a lot of people who wonder what else Lee has written that just hasn’t been seen by the outside world. As an introvert, I respect her privacy and secrecy; as a reader, I want to shake her until the stories fall out.

Again, I return to my teenage years when my big obsession was Dragonlance. The original authors of the first two trilogies, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, also created a completely non-D&D trilogy called Rose of the Prophet. They were epic fantasy with a strong Arabic mythological influence. I loved the heck out of those books. I remember reading (or re-reading) them when I was 13 and my family was on a big cross-country road trip. I couldn’t sleep in a motel one night, so I went into the bathroom so I could have the light on to keep reading. I think I re-read them about once a year for over a decade. Even when I largely stopped reading fantasy, I still read that trilogy.

Weis and Hickman are very prolific authors but I have always yearned for them to return to that world.

Fran Wilde

images (1)
My world is better because these writers passed through it, though I knew most of them only on the page. I wish they were still present, still telling.

– Octavia Butler
– Kage Baker
– Iain M. Banks
– Poets Lynda Hull, Larry Levis, Seamus Heaney

2014 Goals

This week’s question: What are your writing goals for 2014?

Michael R. Underwood:

Michael R. UnderwoodA couple years back, I started dividing yearly goals into goals and ambitions. Goals are things I mostly have control over, and ambitions are things I mostly don’t have control over. This lets me separate things out and focus on my priorities while still daydreaming about shiny things.

Goals:
Finish proofs for Attack the Geek, all revisions for Shield and Crocus, and for The Younger Gods on-time for publication.
Write The Younger Gods #2 and submit on-time.
Execute strong blog tour/promotional rounds for all three of my 2014 releases.
Host several more Dangerous Voices Variety Hour events.
Start planning my wedding (!).
And other non-writing goals (personal, work, etc.)

Summary – 2014 is going to be a big year for me – I’ve got a novella and two novels scheduled to release in 2014, across three different series. That also means I’ll be doing three major rounds of publicity/blog touring, which will demand a lot of time. And along the way, I also have to write another novel – which will be my fifth written to contract.

Ambitions:
Level up the status and success of the Ree Reyes series through Attack the Geek to the point of seeing a physical edition scheduled for wide release.
Make waves with Shield and Crocus and/or The Younger Gods – sales, critical success, the whole nine yards.
Get a major trade review for one of my works.
See one of my books on a major ‘Best of 2014 list’ or awards shortlist.
Conquer the world alongside my Novelocity colleagues.

Summary – With three releases, there are more chances for reviews, more chances for one of the books to strike a louder chord with readers. The Ree Reyes books are contracted such that Pocket has print rights, and can use them when they like. So the better the books sell in ebook, the higher the chances we’ll see some sort of print edition (most likely would be an omnibus, but that’s all up to the folks at Pocket).

E. C. Ambrose:

My goal is to create a whole new world for fiction, and draft the first book set there.  Right now, I’m starting the research, so I’ll be ahead of the game, but my concept is based in China, a huge place with a deep, rich history.  The research is fascinating, of course, so it’s a struggle to stay on target with the information I need, rather than pursue every curiosity that turns up.

On the other hand, the curiosities are often a great source of character and plot ideas. My first pass on research is to gain a general understanding of my topic area, to know where I want to zero in, then I’ll do more specific research on those areas, and that’s when the story and character ideas start sparking.  I intend to have a proposal packet ready by the end of March.E. C. Ambrose

I also need to be prepared for the launch of the second book in The Dark Apostle series, Elisha Magus, which comes out July 1.  My hope is to write a short story about Martin, a favorite character for many readers, to have out in the meantime.  I also have a draft of a novella about the earlier lives of Duke Randall and his wife Allyson.  It’s a bit of a mind-bender to go back and forth from China to medieval England, but I’m working it out!

Beth Cato:

Beth CatoI really like Mike’s idea to establish ambitions. That’s an awesome way to aim for things we can’t directly control. I am definitely borrowing that idea.

This coming year is really weird. This is my first time writing under contract. I’m used to doing my own deadlines, but now I have Big Awesome Holy Cow I Have a Book Deal deadlines. Therefore, my first priority is to write and revise my sequel to The Clockwork Dagger and turn that in by June 1st. Beyond that, it’s about building up for the book launch in September while trying not to flail about like Kermit the Frog. At least, not in public.

I also write short stories and poetry. I’m part of a supportive site called Write 1 Sub 1, and I do the monthly option where I try to send out at least one new work a month. The book stuff will have highest priority, but I do hope to keep smaller projects in circulation because I try to do All the Things.

Oh, and conventions. I do hope to attend a few this year. Right now I have my eye on LepreCon and Phoenix Comicon locally, and to go to World Fantasy Con in November.

Tina Connolly:

I have big plans for 2014, and they involve SLEEP. No, really. 2013 was a bit crazy, as I had a 2 year old, and a new baby, and I drafted a whole new book (the third in the Ironskin trilogy.) By contrast, 2014 mostly revolves around revisions – I’ll have edits to do for Tor on Ironskin 3 and on my next book from Tor Teen, Seriously Wicked. And then, that new baby. tina_connolly-300x450

So what I’m really determined to do is find some time to get the cobwebs out of my brain. Or maybe put them in my brain. Get some sleep, and get some walks, and get into a place where I can start planning out what I’m going to write next. It’s a wonderful thing to be working on a series, and I’ve really enjoyed working on the three Ironskin books. But now, coming up for air several years later (and with two small children underfoot), I’m going to have really work hard at resting. (As oxymoronic as that is.)

So. My resolution is to carve out enough space to just relax and do . . . not nothing, but sort of a focused nothing. Some time to just brainstorm a bunch of ideas, some awesome and some atrocious, so I can find something wonderful I want to do next.

I’m looking forward to this.

Introductions

Hello! I’m Michael R. Underwood, but everywhere that isn’t my byline, I go by Mike. I’m the author of several series:

1) The Ree Reyes urban fantasies (GEEKOMANCY, CELEBROMANCY, and the forthcoming ATTACK THE GEEK), about a geeky barista whose love of SF/F powers its own magic system, allowing her to geek out in order to fight evil.Geekomancy

2) The Younger Gods, an urban fantasy series about the one moral member of a family of demon worshipers who has to stop his sister from raising one of the younger gods and kicking off the apocalypse. Both the Ree Reyes and Younger Gods series are published by Pocket Star.

3) Also in 2014, I’ll be launching an epic fantasy with 47North, titled SHIELD AND CROCUS, where an aging revolutionary strikes a bargain with his oldest and most treacherous foe to turn the tide against the tyrants that control his city.

When I’m not writing, I’m the North American Sales & Marketing Manager at Angry Robot Books, including the teen imprint Strange Chemistry and crime imprint Exhibit A. Working in publishing as my day job has given me a lot of insights into the business, and means that I basically eat, sleep, and breathe genre publishing. I’m also a co-host/contributor at SkiffyandFanty.com.

I live in Baltimore with my girlfriend and our growing menagerie of stuffed animals and action figures. In my rapidly-diminishing free time, I bake homemade pizzas and study historical martial arts (especially the Iberian style of La Verdadera Destreza). You can find me at michaelrunderwood.com and on Twitter @MikeRUnderwood.

Hi! I’m Beth Cato. My debut novel is a steampunk fantasy featuring a goody-two-shoes healer, airships, espionage, and a world tree that most definitely plays favorites. CLOCKWORK DAGGER is due out in September 2014, with the sequel a year later. My publisher is HarperCollins Voyager.Beth Cato

I’ve had short stories published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, InterGalactic Medicine Show, Nature, and various other places. I also write poetry and am a regular in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, with stories in twelve so far.

I write from a lair in the Sonoran Desert outside of Phoenix, Arizona, where I plot the apocalypse as I bake gazillions of cookies. I share the house with a hockey-loving husband, number-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham. I’m originally from Hanford, California. My website is bethcato.com and I can also be found on Twitter as @BethCato.

Tina Connolly here! I’m a writer and face painter in the beautifully rainy city of Portland, Oregon. I have a husband, cat, and two small kids, and we all live in a lovely old house on a hill that came with a dragon in the Ironskinbasement and blackberry bushes in the attic. (Also: no heat. We’re still working on that . . .)

My first fantasy novel, IRONSKIN (Tor, 2012) was nominated for a Nebula, and the sequel COPPERHEAD came out in October 2013. The final book in the trilogy is due October 2014, and after that comes an unrelated YA from Tor Teen called SERIOUSLY WICKED (about a girl who lives with an ~ ahem ~ seriously wicked witch.) (Find out more about all those at tinaconnolly.com)

My short stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I frequently narrate stories for Podcastle and BCS, as well as run the Parsec-winning flash podcast Toasted Cake. Sometimes I have time to sleep.

Hello, this is J. Kathleen Cheney.  My debut novel THE GOLDEN CITY came out in November of 2013, and is a tale of a sereia and her quest to stop a murderer in an alternate 1902 Portugal.  The sequel, THE SEAT OF MAGIC, will be out July 1, 2014.The Golden City

My husband and I currently live in Oklahoma, but we’re actually both Texans.  We live in a comfy home in the middle of the state with two Airedale Terriers who are our fluffy masters.  Occasionally, they let me do some gardening and a bit of writing.

My work has popped up before in several magazines and anthologies, among them Fantasy Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Jim Baen’s Universe.  My novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Finalist.  Links to all my work can be found on my webpage at www.jkathleencheney.com

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As E. C. Ambrose, I’m the author of the Dark Apostle series from DAW books, a dark historical fantasy series about medieval surgery.  (Yeah, I know, “dark” and “medieval surgery” is kind of redundant, but I want to Elisha Barbermake sure you know what you’re getting into.)  The series started with ELISHA BARBER (7/13) and continues in July of 2014 with ELISHA MAGUS.

My short fiction has won the Tenebris Press Flash Fiction contest 2012 and is forthcoming in Fireside.  You may also have seen my non-fiction pieces “The Romance of Ruins” and “Spoiler Alert!” in Clarkesworld magazine.  I blog about the intersections between history and fantasy at ecambrose.wordpress.com and I can be found on facebook.com/thedarkapostle and on twitter @ecambrose  but the real home of all things Dark Apostle is www.thedarkapostle.com

When I’m not writing, reading grim and gory history books, or visiting strange museums, I work as an adventure guide, taking teens into the White Mountains of New Hampshire for hiking, rock climbing, kayaking and campfire stories.  All of them have come home alive. . . so far.

I’m M.K. Hutchins. My debut novel, DRIFT, is a YA epic fantasy featuring a floating island surrounded by a monster-infested, watery hell. My short fiction’s been published in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and a half-dozen other places.MK Hutchins

I studied archaeology in college, where I compiled histories from Maya glyphs, excavated in Belize, and worked as a faunal analyst. I’m a long-time Idahoan, now residing in Salt Lake City, Utah with my husband and our three little boys. My website’s www.mkhutchins.com and I’m on Twitter as @mkhutchins.

I’m Lawrence M. Schoen, and I wear a lot of vocational hats. In addition to being an author, I’m also a psychologist, a small press publisher, a klingonist, and a hypnotist. I’ve had the pleasure of being nominated for the Campbell, Hugo, and Nebula awards. I’ve had two novels and two short story collections published by Hadley Rille Books, Three of the four are light and humorous SF about my space-faring hypnotist, the Amazing Lawrence SchoenConroy, and his über-cute, alien companion animal, a buffalito named Reggie who can eat anything and farts oxygen.

After a career of more than twenty years, I’m well on my way to being an overnight success. In the summer of 2013 I sold a book proposal to Tor, and then used that sale to secure an incredible agent. The book — currently titled BARSK: THE ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD  — should come out in either late 2014 or early 2015. I expect it will change my life (and when you read it, maybe it will change yours).

Samples of my fiction, random thoughts, appearance schedules, and my weekly blog feature where visiting authors reveal their most memorable meals, can be found at http://www.lawrencemschoen.com

Hi, Fran Wilde here!  My fantasy novel, BONE ARROW, debuts from Tor in 2015. In it, you’ll find towers, manmade wings, secrets, dangers, and fierce young women and men who live their lives above the clouds. I can’t wait to share it with you.fran_photo

My science fiction and fantasy stories appear in Asimov’s, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Nature Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, and the Impossible Futures anthology. For fun, I interview authors about the intersection of food and fiction with a column called Cooking the Books.

In previous lives, I learned how to tie a bunch of sailing knots, set gemstones, and program digital minions. I’ve also taught writing and digital media at two colleges, a high school for the creative arts, and a long-distance program for young writers.

My website is http://franwilde.net, I’m on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.

I’m Steve Bein, creator of the Fated Blades. These books span some seven hundred years of Japanese history, all crystallized in the modern day in the story of Mariko Oshiro

Year of the DemonMariko is the only woman to make the rank of detective and sergeant in Tokyo’s most elite police unit. That makes her life pretty tough, as misogyny and tradition conspire against her at every turn—and that’s before her fate gets tied up with the deadliest swords ever forged. Mariko’s story is punctuated by historical interludes, where the same swords alter the course of destiny for a long line of warriors, from WWII officers all the way back to the days of the samurai.

The first in the series, DAUGHTER OF THE SWORD, came out in 2011, followed by YEAR OF THE DEMON last month. A companion novella, ONLY A SHADOW, is available for your e-reader, and the third book in the series, DISCIPLE OF THE WIND, is due out in October 2014. All three are published by Roc, Penguin’s fantasy imprint.

I also write short stories, which have appeared in Asimov’s, Interzone, Writers of the Future, and in international translation. In my alter ego as a philosophy professor, I also write academic books and articles, and have translated some seminal works in Japanese Buddhism. When I’m not writing I’m usually training in the dojo or out having fun with my dogs.

Please stop by and like me at Facebook! You can also visit my website to find links, downloads, and news about upcoming appearances and events.

Hi all!  Tex Thompson here – “rural fantasy” writer, comma placement specialist, and corn-fed genius. 

Kidding about that last part.  It’s a hell of a thing, actually: despite being a total publishing rookie, I somehow managed to persuade the good people at Solaris that what the world REALLY needs is an epic fantasy Western series: you know, a little bit Firefly, a little bit Dark Tower, with cowboys and natives and fishmen and one truly bad-ass science nun.   One Night in Sixes

It’s a setting based loosely off of the American Southwest, in a world that runs on ‘culture magic’.  And although the big brutal clash of the industrialized east and the indigenous west has ended (for now) in a stalemate, all that blood and violence has seeped into the land itself, leaving behind a kind of mystical radiation poisoning that’s warping the people and creatures who live in it.  No need for Dark Lords or Chosen Ones here: as it turns out, all it takes is a couple of hopelessly ignorant cowboys, thirteen yearling horses, and one horrible accident to drag the surrendered border town of Sixes back to the brink of a past that seems hell-bent on repeating itself.

Needless to say, the rest of my life isn’t nearly that exciting.  I live in Dallas with my hetero life-mate and a refurbished cat named Peaches, and am currently serving as the editor for the DFW Writers Conference.  Please look me up there or at www.thetexfiles.com – and get ready for ONE NIGHT IN SIXES, coming July 2014 from Solaris Books!