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Weekend

We had a rainy weekend for a rainy week, leading into more rain. So no, I didn't mow the lawn.

My daughter DesignGirl went to sleep over a friend's house, so my wife and I had our wedding anniversary on Saturday night. We went to Mannequen Pis, the nearby Belgian place. For an appetizer, we had their wild boar sausage on sauerkraut (FUCK A TRUCK! That shit rules!) and then the Amish chicken for dinner (which was merely extremely good). I'd love this Belgian place even more if most of the cuisine didn't contain milk or cheese. (Damn Western cuisine.)

My wife and I had fun making stuff up. The conversation turned towards film-noir wedding planning. "Weddings, they're a dirty business." That also got me thinking about mafia weddings, both being the wedding planner for the mafia, and being a wedding planner while the mafia holds the wedding business. ("You should see the margins!"). I don't know if I'll ever write that out, but the scenarios for it looked gut-bustingly fun.

Then lame us finally watched the Dr. Who Christmas special for this year. So yay, we're finally caught up on that series.

On Sunday morning, we tried a different place for dim sum. I wasn't thrilled with Hollywood East. The dim sum was adequate, and they had quite the variety of dumplings, but I prefer other places more, which may not have more dumplings but do have a larger variety. Also, I didn't see anyone Chinese eating there.

I worked on the cover for Swan Song. I posted it up to Kboards and took in the criticism/advice. I'll sit on that for a few days, then post the final cover soon.

I'm getting ready for the anniversary picnic. We'll be having sandwiches with artisinal bread (with me being the artisan). I've also made a mini pineapple sheet cake, which makes it sort of a pineapple sheet pie, or maybe a crusty tart. Who knows? I'll also need a little bit of fruit. If the thunderstorms hold off, we'll be set.

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Swan Song Omnibus

I'm working on the cover for the Swan Song omnibus. This is what I have so far.

Iteration 1
Swan Song-small.jpg

Iteration 2
Swan Song-300px.jpg

Iteration 3
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Iteration 4
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Bring Your Child to Work

Yesterday was Bring Your Child to Work Day. I brought DesignGirl in, and we did our usual level of goofing off. Yeah, it was a vacation day for both of us. This time, I had some work to do, and I did take some time to show her some "how they work" videos for CT and MR. We deployed a computer, played some video games, got cotton candy and ice cream, and visited the server room. For school, DesignGirl needed to write a few paragraphs, which she did quite competently.

When we went home early, it was cat-and-nap time.

Thinking of sleep, my restless sleep over the last few weeks has been settling down. Now that people are out of the house, my sleep is going deeper again. Yay. I've been missing that sleep.

The Stepford Wives (1972)

The Stepford Wives (1972) is a horror-thriller by Ira Levin with some SF elements. As the SF elements aren't clear in the story, the tales doesn't read like SF at all.

The book itself is short and to the point, building itself just like a suspense or horror tale from late night radio. This story could easily be a radio script. With the tale's simple language and minimal description, the story weathers its age far better than expected despite its period 70's foundation. The first quarter develops the setting, the second quarter develops the fear, the third the anxiety, and the fourth the panic.

For its slim size, this little volume sure packs a wollop, much like a bigger or longer book. If it had been written in a more literary style, it would have proven just as large. As its writing is so tight, you can't skim through the book.

The horror of this story isn't in what happens, but in the whole premeditated scale of it all. As in all the best horror stories, humans make the scariest monsters of all.

Visitors

The in-laws are with us again starting on Friday. So while they're camped in my office, I'm doing my best to work around the situation. I launched my new book off my laptop, having pre-loaded the cover onto Amazon.

Being the 4th book in a poorly moving series, the last book went up to no acclaim. My current plan is to insert the compilation into Kindle Unlimited, then advertise the heck out of that. I'll take the separate books and sell them wide.

This weekend's loaf of bread came out very well. I'm finally getting kneading down. You'd think it was easy, and it is, but the little details keep mattering. This weekend's loaf baked with a great top and a beautiful sound when I patted it. She was a real looker.

A big chunk of Saturday was sucked down by taking my daughter to a birthday party.

On Sunday church had a game night, so no much happened on Sunday besides church and game night.

The in-laws will be around until Wednesday or so, and then I'll have my office back again.

Meanwhile, I've been sleeping badly. I think that some of it is my arm healing up, some of it is publication angst combined with Kboards induced publication angst, and some of it was having my brain too spun up over the last few weeks. I'll be very happy when I settle out of this. This angst is a reason that I don't like the marketing part of indie publishing. As of now, I've spent $100 this year on covers while I grossed only $90 last year. Meanwhile, more sales have not been forthcoming. Hopefully this time around, advertising will actually work to get me sales. In the meantime, I wake too oddly, damn it.

The Lathe of Heaven (1971)

The Lathe of Heaven (1971) by Ursula LeGuin is the science-fiction novel that you never asked for. Lean and tight, this short novel packs a heavy punch. A man finds that his dreams literally change the world.

Like many 70's science fiction novels, the premise itself is pure fantasy. There's no way for someone's dream to change the world retroactively, yet these dreams do. However, these dreams can't change the rules of the universe, they can only change the course of events. Once the changes have happened, what remains fits well within science fiction.

This book is essentially a time travel novel without time travel. It contains all the tropes of that sub-genre: messing with time brings with it vast moral implications, and the results of messing with time are quite unpredictable, and worse, come at a higher cost than you'd expect.

If there's any message to be found here, it's that you can fix the world because you can't fix humanity.

I found the overall level of writing quite engaging, with appropriate descriptions that created the setting without overburdening me with detail, conversations that stayed well inside the narrative, and a tight use of all the major characters. Overall, I'd describe the work as minimalistic, using just enough narrative to get the story across. By the time that you reach the end, even though the book is short, you're emotionally ready for the end. The novel has done its job.

The Phoenix and The Swan (Swan Song #4)

Astrea 4 Cover 2.jpgI am pleased to announce The Phoenix and The Swan, the conclusion of the Swan Song series.

This is the last stand of Targa Tik. She who lived by the sword will die by it. Exiled from Astrea, Targa seeks to atone for her former life by bringing good into this world. By fair means or foul, she vows to find the Silver Lord, a powerful god that championed the common man. Yet even as Targa seeks to leave her past, the curse of her sword weighs upon her, pointing her to one last, unwinnable battle.

Set in the Endhaven universe, The Phoenix and The Swan concludes the Swan Song series, a wuxia inspired sword and sorcery fantasy, featuring fast pacing, deadly politics, and personal betrayals.

I had a blast writing this and I hope that you have a blast reading it.

Restoree

Restoree (1967) by Anne McCaffrey is a science-fiction romance that's well worth overlooking in Anne's corpus. However, anyone interested in Pern would do well do read it, for in this unengaging work lies the seeds to Pern.

The plot revolves around Sara, who was kidnapped from Earth, only to come to her senses on an alien planet caring for a patient in a mental asylum. This man turns out to be the future man for Sara, more important to the future of this planet than she knows.

This book is a period romance. The heroine is firmly wedged into her mid-20th century socially appropriate roles as caregiver and woman. Early on she has the agency that she needs to propel the story along, but after a while, becomes bound by her genre's limitations. She can be an alpha social beast, but never the interplanetary hero.

As writing goes, the characters come across as bland. Some have their own agendas, but most of them are just sorta there. You don't really cheer anyone on, not build favorites. Objectively, the cast is entirely forgettable for there's no reason to remember any of them.

Where this novel connects with Pern is in its DNA. Our alpha male is the warlord of his planet, but he's been sidelined. Now he has to regain his command of the planet's fleets to stop an outer-space aliens species so bad that humans have taken to living in caves to escape them. There's an incompetent warlord in the way, of course. Although the planet has some high-tech to it, they're really a low-tech society that's using the alien's own tech to defend themselves. Other familiar features include the Warlord's half-brother, a looser definition of marriage, tunics (Anne always in this writing period), sailing, and council meetings.

Think of this as Pern 0.1. Think of this as Pern done wrong, but necessary in the evolution. It's there that Anne did everything wrong, but found a few things that she had done right, recycling them into those stories that became Dragonflight.

The novel is full of other period references as well. Tapes, screens, and circuits dot the book's vocabulary, emphasizing just how pedestrian Anne's view of the future worked. Not only is this a book brought out in 1967, it would have been written several years before, and if you include shopping the novel, several years before that, so a writing date of 1963 would be a fair guess.

In some ways, I found this novel entertaining despite its flaws. It isn't without merit. The book doesn't get bogged down by its own pacing, the romance moves along at an engaging clip, and there's some fun ideas at work. Being a slim volume, you should be done fairly quickly even with the pains it causes.

Weekend

For Friday dinner, we headed off to Urban BBQ for some BBQ goodness. This time around, I ordered a flour tortilla, which turned out to be a bad idea. It had milk products in it to condition it. Argh. I wound up with a vicious headache on Monday.

On Saturday, a neighbor was taking down a tree, so I picked up some wood. That stuff turned out to be brutally hard to split. On Sunday, while shuttling DesignGirl about, I picked up a splitting maul (4 lb) and a mini-sledge (also 4 lb). Barely any dice. That maul would only get stuckity-stuck in the wood, having no pretences of getting through. I eventually split one section, but the other section resisted me. Having other people split my wood is looking better all the time.

We had a smaller church pot luck over our house on Sunday. All went well. Walter left us a chair, which is what he does. This one was a folder chair from the 20's or 30's, by my guess. It's really nice. I wish that I had more folding chairs like this.

We're having visitors this week. Ken is down visiting from Connecticut for a few days. Later in the week, Jenny's mom and Ed come down. That'll put a bit of a kabosh on book launching, because they'll be camped where my desktop is, so I'm getting through some cover work early so that I can launch from my laptop.

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Current Covers

My current crop of covers.

Astrea 1 Cover 5.jpg
Astrea 2 Cover 3.jpg
Astrea 3 Cover 3.jpg
Astrea 4 Cover 2.jpg
Dwarf Shamaness 1 - Version 9.jpg
Dwarf Shamaness 2 - V7.jpg
Dwarf Shamaness 3 - V8.jpg
Dwarf Shamaness Trilogy v1.jpg

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