Saturday, January 13, 2024

I'm blameable like beer

Been sick the last 5 weeks, so not much happening on the writing front. House renovation from the dishwasher's fill valve failing full on proceeds slowly. I have no words lately. Lots of steroids and antibiotics, but no fiction. On the other hand, this doesn't stop me from being an influence on my friends, whether for good or for ill. 

CV Walter and Cedar Sanderson are in a little text chat with me, useful for hashing out who's going to the farmer's market and would they pick up the CSA box, or discussing cover art, or stories we like that are not in genres the gents would enjoy, or hey, Aldi has this back in stock, or getting feedback on the latest chapter of a WIP, or there's a great sale on breakfast sausage at Red Barn Butchers...

And someone, who shall remain nameless, was bemoaning the fact that they wanted to get more writing done. (Three someones out of three on the chat, really.) But one of them allowed as how they really missed doing Flash Fiction Friday, where they'd come up with a prompt, and then everyone had to write a thousand word story by the end of the... I think it was the end of the weekend. It's been a couple years.

(I failed to follow the directions, and worked at least one prompt into a chapter of the novel in progress, while they wrote flash fiction. "Cole's cooking cornbread." If you find that line, now you know...)

So, why not restart it? Because her Fridays are now booked solid to overbooked... and she doesn't want to do something as small as flash fiction, this time, she wants to do short stories. which would take even more time out of her weekend that she doesn't have to give. 

Me, being me, saw this as no impediment. If Fridays are booked, just move it! If the deadline of 3 days is too short, make it a week! Adapt, improvise, overcome!

So about the time I was making a joke about tentacles (The current WIP includes satire of certain subgenres. It has a Kraken who is disappointed that he has two humans, but they're not a mated pair. Ryleh keeps trying to give his humans well-meant but wildly species-inappropriate mating advice.), I also replied, "So, make it Taco Tuesday!"

Somehow, these two things ran together in my friends' minds (I don't pry), and the running gag of Taco Tuesday With Tentacles was born, grew legs (or tentacles?) and took off running.

Next thing I know, they've both written a story by the deadline for the first week. And they both blamed me! One in the foreword, one in the afterword. I mean, once I took the obvious cheap shot about getting getting it in front and behind at the same time by two  romance authors... all I could do was laugh, and agree that I'm very blameable. 

You know, like beer: a beverage exists to be regretted, and blamed the next day for all that you accomplished, and the manner and style in which it was done.

Cedar is building her romance pen-name, with a sweet romance of a chance encounter on a desert planet under deadly circumstances... (What? I didn't suggest it! She still blamed me...) with Djinn (Available on Amazon at: )

CV Walter did a short story that's "the start of the happily ever after you knew would come" set after one of her romances, Pursued by the Alien Pilot, and has it available in her substack, here:

The story itself is sweet, and the book it's following isn't that steamy. The series has plenty of spice, though! If that sounds like fun to you, this is the specific book to read first before the taco tuesday story:

I have no idea what those two will do by next Tuesday. One's off at a convention, and the other just helped me pack my entire pantry, and demolish the OSB-and-bent-screws shelving the prior owner left us. Maybe they'll be too tired and busy. Or maybe exhaustion and sleep deprivation will mean this time, round, Taco Tuesday (With Tentacles) might actually have tacos. Or tentacles.

I don't judge. I feed them and make amusing suggestions, or advice that seemed like a good idea at the time...

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Looking for something else to read?

There's no way I can write fast enough for my readers, so I want to recommend a series I ran into while looking for anything else that might be in the same odd niche as Combined Operations. It's just as tactical, and just as much tangled into the personal and the realpolitik, though despite what you'd expect from the covers, there's almost no romance in it. In fact, it's best if you just ignore the covers, and enjoy the stories. (Seriously. Ignore the covers. I hope he sells enough to fund new covers!)

Thomas Doscher's The Vixen War Bride series is set well after the galactic battles, the human colonies wiped from the face of their planet, and the fleets of starships fighting an alien menace. Instead, this is a human-scale military series, about the war for hearts and minds both of Captain Ben Gibson's human Rangers, left high and dry with orders to occupy a rural backwater in the conquered enemy's homeworld because they have nowhere else to go...

And the vulpine enemy, whose culture they never knew. Armed with only their weapons, their ability to adapt, improvise, and overcome, and an interpreter who's grasp on the local language is at best on a three year old's level, Gibson is setting out to make the best of a bad situation.

He isn't the only one. The local priestess has decided that in order to save her people from the vengeance of the conquerors, she need to be the token sacrifice. Armed with courage and inspiration, she demands he marry her, and succeeds... Only to realize that now she has to figure out how to tell him what he's done. 

Cross-cultural communications and the nature of people at their best, and their worst, are handled with a deft touch and light humor in this series, with both viewpoints shown so the reader can delight in the attempts at two very different people with limited communication to forge a path toward true peace.

You'll also enjoy the hijinks of bored enlisted, and the tense moments of dealing with the problems of repatriating guerillas, as well as the many small incidents, day after day, full of  unfounded assumptions, revelations, laughter, and tears as they work together and at cross-purposes to establish trust... despite the latest dictates from the far-away army headquarters, and the deep-seated prejudices on both sides.

A surprisingly heart-warming set of military scifi tales; highly recommended.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Introvert's Paradise

I found introvert paradise! 

Okay, besides used bookstores with miles of shelf space and a coffee shop attached.

And besides the ridgeline of a subarctic mountain chain, above the treeline and the mosquitoes, with a break in the weather so the sun is pouring down and you can see 150 miles in almost every direction, from the mountains near and far to the sun sparkling off the sea, with only the faintest hint of civilization.

And besides a scratch strip up near the glaciers, where summer has already faded to fall and the air is full of the scent of fireweed blooming, along with the airplane's hot oil and exhaust, and the ting of an engine cooling off chimes in with the birds to accent the sound of the wind, and other than the tundra tire tracks at your feet, there's no evidence that man was ever here.

Now that I'm in Texas, I have to work harder, and lower my standards to find my paradise where I can.
It can be done! 

This morning, for reasons, I was later to the pool than normal... and found I was the only one there

It's a adults-only, use-at-own-risk pool, so there wasn't even a lifeguard breathing my air. 


Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Something New to Read - Dust of the Ocean

So, I wrote another book, "Dust Of The Ocean"

It was a homage to Andre Norton, and to Michael Whelan's art, especially the subterranean and Passages series. I intended it to be horror, but none of my characters cooperated.

Which... is awfully like Andre Norton's stories, to be honest. 

What's it about?

In the ruins of an ancient alien city, a half-alien slave's act of mercy will change the course of a cold war.

When Mika saves Arkady, a wounded enemy soldier, he offers her a path to freedom. All it will take is finding a hidden artifact that may alter the course of an interstellar conflict…

But the path there will plunge their team into the depths of inhuman nightmares, battling ancient bioweapons and outwitting her former owners. It's going to take everything they have just to survive, much less escape with their prize!

It's much longer than my usual, at over 100,000 words. It is a stand-alone novel, but is set in the same universe as "Shattered Under Midnight"... 

And for those of you who've seen the anthology of incompetent evil, "Your Honor, I Can Explain" by Raconteur press, yes, Deputy Director Spurgle makes an appearance in this, too.   

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Strange New Smells and Strange Old Males

So, I have started swimming again, and learned to wear a skirt to the pool. (It's far easier to get dressed with damp skin compared to pulling on pants.)

Unfortunately, Ashbutt McDieselthroat loves my recycled-sari skirts. He's fascinated by them in a way that no other clothing attracts cat. least he's stopped trying to pull them off me? 

However, when I come home from the pool, something about the scent on my feet, flip-flops, and the skirt hem where it's touched the locker room floor is utterly entrancing to this cat.

This makes life interesting when I'm trying to make coffee and breakfast.

After the third time I had to gently shove him out of the way with my foot because he got so wrapped up in smelling the cloth he forgot to watch out for me trying to move around the kitchen...

I grumbled to my husband, "Love, there's a strange male sniffing around my skirts!"

My love just grinned, and sipped his cuppa. "I'm not worried. He's too hairy for you." 

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Artists like challenges, right?

So, my cover artist and I went to the range recently. On the way back, we found the time to tackle things even more difficult than shot placement and proper grip: cover art. She'd sent a mockup of what would be a great cover for someone else's book, and I had to think for a few days about why I didn't like it before I had an answer. 

Me: "The problem with the cover is that it clearly conveys military scifi, but this book isn't modern MilSF; it's an homage to Andre Norton, Leigh Brackett, Lovecraft and Jack Vance and Scientifiction. Back before the genres were near as split as they are today, and you could have psychic powers and fantastic alien ruins of unknown races and remnants of the eldritch... If modern readers pick it up expecting a MilSF full of modern tropes, they're going to be unhappy. But how do we signal a pulpy retro Astounding and Weird Tales vibe?"

My cover artist: "Challenge. Accepted."

Friday, April 21, 2023

My friends are helpful

Me: "Hey, Alma. I flop over and be dead at you now. After 7 years since this story first bit me, on the fifth? sixth? try... You remember how I started this sucker from when it wouldn't leave me alone while I was trying to finish another book? That was back in November 2021, and I've been trying to finish it since? Is finally done!"

Alma: "Congratulations!"

Me: "The next time I pull out an old unfinished story and tell you I'm going to salvage it and finish it, shoot me." 

Alma: "Nerf or water?"

Me: "Taser."

Alma: "OK!"