Happy New Year 2018!

It’s hard to say “2018” out loud—mainly because I’m shivering in the cold! This picture of a frozen Niagara Falls illustrates exactly how it feels here in New England.

Aaron Lynett/The Canadian Press via The Associated Press via Boston Globe

Here’s wishing everyone a much happier year than 2017!  And may an inexplicable attack of sanity and reason sweep the halls of Washington, D.C., and bring us much-needed relief!

Happy New Year, everyone!

 

End of Year Sale at Smashwords!


In honor of all those people who got new electronics under the tree for Christmas, etc., Smashwords is sponsoring a big End of the Year ebook sale—now through New Years! Thousands of books by indie and hybrid authors will be 25%, 50%, 75%, or even 100% off. These discounts will apply only in the Smashwords store: Smashwords.com.

I’m listing several of mine with coupons for 50% off. If you use these links, that helps me out a little. You should see the coupon codes when you click.

Dragons in the StarsReality and Other Fictions • Going Alien

The Infinity Link • From a Changeling Star

One week only!  Click and shop till you pop! Fill that new tablet or phone with books, books, books!

 

Christmas Greetings!

We slid right into the last couple of days before Christmas, with everything coated with ice yesterday morning. I spent most of the day scraping ice, doing last-minute shopping, and cooking up Fantasy Beef Stew* in preparation for Christmas dinner. (Today I’ll be cooking Spacetime Chicken Stew.**) This is so we can have a fine feast, but not spend all day Christmas cooking.

I probably won’t be online much until after Christmas (when we’ll be hosting my brother and his wife and two dogs, our daughters and their boyfriends, and a few other good friends in the bargain). So say I’ll Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone now! Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!

I thought of writing a rhetorical piece about “How did celebrating the birth of Jesus turn into such a frantic race to get everything done?”—not that that applies to us personally, no!—but I decided instead to take a dog’s eye view of the day. Here’s Captain Jack checking out the beautiful, icy pine tree.

*Named in homage to Diana Wynne Jones’s take on hearty stew in fantasy worlds, in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel.

**Named in homage to Fantasy Beef Stew.

Proof

In case you wondered if I was doing any actual writing down here on my writing retreat, here’s your proof. Here’s a sneak preview of Chapter 68-ish of The Reefs of Time! I’ve been wrestling with this chapter for a while now, trying to make this bit of the story, especially the character interactions, come out right. Writing about people is hard! Especially when the people are aliens.

I’m working here in Scrivener. The text in red is notes to myself. The text in blue is first draft material that is probably on its way to the cutting room floor, but still might have bits I want to keep. The text in black is the real thing, but that doesn’t mean it won’t also wind up on the cutting room floor.

I wish I could say that all the thorny parts of the writing are falling away in the face of the natural beauty here on the Cape. But alas, it’s fighting back. Evil is never vanquished for long.

Okay, back into the fray!

 

Retreat!! (To Write Again Another Day)

It’s been too long since I’ve gotten away for a writing retreat, but that’s where I am now! I’ve returned to my favorite locale on Cape Cod for the purpose, where the seafood, the local beer, the ocean, and the salt marshes all come together to create a great environment for unwinding and thinking. I’m holed up at a lovely Airbnb spot (hosted by a writer!), in a house dating back to the 1700’s. My directions for getting here involved looking for a green dragon out front. I was peering in the dark for a bronze or wooden sign. This is what brought me in:

I wasn’t expecting snow, though we’re in a cold snap right now. But I saw this outside the window this morning:

And this when I went down to the beach after brunch:

And the marina, where the police, Coast Guard, and fishing boats are the only vessels still in the water:

In the past, I’ve usually biked or roller-bladed along the Cape Cod Canal, starting near here. This time… uhhh, no.

An Omnibus for the Omnivore!

The Chaos Chronicles Books 1-3 by Jeffrey A. Carver

This is only going to run for a couple of days, so look sharp! As Bookbub readers already know, I’ve marked down The Chaos Chronicles, Books 1-3, to the ridiculously low price of $1.99 in all major ebook stores! That’s three full novels in collector-quality DRM-free ebook binding for less than the price of a decent chocolate bar!

Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractors, and The Infinite Sea, all in one volume. It would make a terrific Christmas, Hanukah, or Solstice present for that e-reading loved one!

(This omni edition is regularly $8.99, which is already a supersaver price for what we all hope will soon come to the screen as an HBO miniseries! Or maybe SyFy.com! Or Netflix Original! Or Amazon Prime! Or one of those, for goodness’ sake. Come on, all you producers hungry for new material. What are you waiting for? Make an offer!)

This really will end soon, so don’t wait. And please, if you like it, consider posting an unbiased review at Amazon, or Goodreads, or any of the other stores! You have no idea how important those reviews can be. Thanks in advance!

Call this my White Sunday sale. (Get it: White? Snow? Clever, no?)

Update: I’m happy to say that this sale is going very well! Thanks to everyone who bought a copy or passed on the word!

First Snowfall!

Happy Advent, everyone—or whatever holiday you prefer. We received a very pretty 7 inches of snow today, leaving lovely mounds in the branches of our evergreen out front, all lit up for Christmas.

Driving home this evening, I watched as a taxi ahead of me spun in a graceful 270 degree circle (on a street that fortunately was mostly empty). As he straightened out and drove on, I imagined he was driving a bit more cautiously. I wonder if this was his first time driving in snow. You learn fast!

Progress on The Reefs of Time, and More Thoughts on the Pain and Joy of Rewriting

With my completion of a challenging rewrite of Chapter 65, “To the Death,” I have updated my progress bar on the rewrite of The Reefs of Time. I am now 91% of the way to completion. Let’s hear it! Thank you; you’re a wonderful audience! I’m a little startled, though, to see that the total length of the book, in double-spaced manuscript pages, has grown to 1299! Yow. That’s one big stack of paper!

This is what happens, sometimes, when I am rewriting, and cutting and trimming, and trying to make it all tighter, leaner, and clearer. Because sometimes rewriting for clarity means you need to add detail and texture, or even new scenes—not because you want to compete with Stephen King or George Martin for length, but because sometimes that’s what the story needs to make the action clearer, the motivations more palpable, the inner logic sounder, or the emotions more powerful.

It’s unnerving, because all this time I’ve been rewriting (years!) I’ve been aiming to make the book leaner and tighter (tight buns and abs!) and thus—I was hoping—shorter. And in fact, I’ve cut a lot from these pages. Lots and lots–zzzzzt, gone! Despite those cuts, the book has grown from 968 manuscript pages in the first draft, to 1299 pages in the second, or from roughly 223,000 words to 262,000 words.

By comparison, Sunborn is 144,000 words. The Infinity Link is 180,000 words. Eternity’s End is 224,000 words. Those were all pretty big books. So I guess this one is honking big.

So, what, am I failing at my job? No, I hope not. Because you know what, I’m starting to think this might be a really good book. Perhaps you’re not supposed to say that about your own book. But if at some point, you don’t start to feel that kind of burn, you may be in the wrong profession—or at the very least, you’re not having enough fun. I wasn’t so sure what I had when I finished the first draft, because I was aware of many, many thorny issues marked “Fix this in rewrite.” Usually when I add that notation, it means I have no friggin’ idea how to fix it, whatever “it” is. It just means I know there’s a problem.

And the solutions come slowly, and sometimes involve days of circling the delinquent chapter, trying to find the pivot point that will make the plot work, or the character spring to life. Often it involves asking What is this chapter here for? What happens that makes it important? This can be a troubling time in the life of any chapter’s rewrite. Because sometimes it seems to call into question the entire book. If this chapter doesn’t make sense, none of it makes sense, and I’ve just wasted ten years of work.

But slowly or not, the solutions do come if you just keep at it. And as I’ve ironed out one problem after another, after another, and another, I’ve found myself developing an attitude about this book. A remarkably positive attitude!

I’m feeling it particularly after finishing this chapter, currently numbered 65—in which, by the way, someone we care about dies. My problems in rewriting it weren’t about the death itself, but about the events leading up to the death. They just didn’t make sense, even to me. I’ll reveal here that parts of this book get pretty cosmic and space-time reality-stretchy—a favorite theme of mine—and this chapter is one of the most like that. It’s a kind of narrative I really enjoy when it’s well done, and groan miserably over when it’s not. A couple of weeks ago, I was doing a lot of groaning. But then, bit by bit (or Bird by Bird, for you Anne Lamott readers), I found my way through it. I think I sorted out why it wasn’t working and reshaped it so that now it does. And I think it carries a pretty good punch, or at least it does for me. I guess I’ll know more when my writing group has looked at it.

It occurs to me as I write this that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has just kicked into gear. Go, all you writing-heads, write those stories! And if it doesn’t feel like it’s coming out right the first time, just remember, rewriting is most of the fun! That’s where the gold starts shining through.

 

 

America Too?

posted in: BookBub, specials | 0

I’ve got a Bookbub special running today on Panglorfor a few days, one buck only!—but for this reason and that and another, the ad is only running in the international market. If you’re a U.S. subscriber to Bookbub, you won’t see it. But that doesn’t mean you don’t get the deal, too! Why should I leave out my biggest audience? So for my fellow Americans, it’s an unadvertised special! Yee-haw!

Get it now. One buck minus one penny! That’s just $.99 to get a headlong running start into the Star Rigger Universe! Come visit a world that’s even crazier than ours.

And prove to the world you don’t need a Bookbub ad to know a deal when you see one.

https://www.starrigger.net/books/rigger/panglor/

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