The Year That Time Changed

Jackson, dramatically posing at sunset.

I had a funny thought this morning, as I decided what clothes to put on. Not that this should be any kind of decision worth the mental energy. When I’m at home writing, which is most of the time, I wear pretty much the same thing every day with minor variations. Today I decided to wear a white tshirt with a lion’s face picked out in rhinestones. It’s a fun summer shirt and I always get a bit of shiny feeling wearing it. I’m also a stickler for putting away white clothing after labor day. (Don’t @ me on this. I like rituals that define seasons and special holidays.) So, it felt like a treat to put it on today, along with some shorts, and I thought “Wow, it seems like I’ve been waiting for summer to get here and now it’s almost over.”

Neither of which is true, so I don’t know where that thought came from.

Weird.

Time has always been a weird thing for me, how it changes speed depending on what I’m doing. The COVID-19 pandemic has really changed the flow of time in odd ways. At first, during lockdown, things felt like they slowed to a crawl, even though my daily life wasn’t much different. When my folks visited for two weeks, that time flew by – we were having fun! – and now it’s slowed again.

I alternate in my mindset, too. One day I’m missing travel – the beach! – and the next I’m rubbing my hands with glee over the unbroken months ahead in which to write All The Things. I mourn the fun events that got canceled, and all the suffering the pandemic has brought, but I’ve also watched spring emerge with a close attention I’ve never been home enough to pay attention to before. I think that’s why it’s felt like summer arrived so slowly, day by day unfolding. My first morning glory bloomed today – which is early, as they often don’t bloom until the end of August – so I’m looking forward to months more of gorgeous blossoms.

I’m hopeful, for the vaccine we’ll likely have by December, for a change in the political climate, for so many things.

When we look back on 2020, I wonder how long it will seem.

A Story about the Audio Book of THE FIERY CROWN

The audio book of THE FIERY CROWN is now available! Narrated by the fantastic Gabrielle Baker, I’m super excited to listen to it!

Some of you might note that this is a different audio book narrator than the one who did THE ORCHID THRONE. One of the many consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many audio book narrators couldn’t do their jobs. Unless they had home studios, they were out of luck. I don’t know if that’s what happened with my previous narrator, but when Editor Jennie contacted me and said the Tantor team had let her know the narrator for book 1 was unavailable for book 2, I wasn’t surprised. I also wasn’t too broken up about it, as the previous narrator – while having a wonderfully rich voice – hadn’t handled the two different first person points of view (POV) as well as I’d hoped. The books present a real challenge that way, in that the chapters in the POV of Con, the male protagonist needed to be narrated in a deeper, growlier voice, along with his spoken dialogue.

I greatly appreciated that Jennie and Tantor asked if I had narrators to suggest, because I immediately suggested Gabrielle. I’d listened to her narrate Tanith Lee’s THE SILVER METAL LOVER, one of my all-time favorites, and thought she did a bang up job. She also did the audio book narration for bestie Grace Draven’s RADIANCE and EIDOLON, so I knew Gabrielle was great to work with. Finally, I knew Gabrielle had a home studio! Tantor checked with her, and – to our mutual delight – she was available! (I learned later that Tantor really shifted stuff around to make this happen, for which I’m so grateful.)

So, I’ve downloaded my own copy and anticipate many delightful hours listening to the book! I’ve received developmental edits for THE PROMISED QUEEN, so I’ll be finishing my listen of THE ORCHID THRONE and THE FIERY CROWN to prep for that final revision. And yes, I actually shelled out to buy the Audible versions of my own books. I get author copies of them, but on CD, which means I can’t listen on my phone. At least I can deduct that!

I also have finished copies of the paperback of THE FIERY CROWN !  You can order a signed copy through my website store for $5 and I’ll mail it to you. (Sorry, US only on that deal.) Be sure to note if you want it personalized.

On Shutting My Mouth for a Day

Yesterday, June 2, 2020, many of us observed Blackout Tuesday to show respect for the Black Lives Matter protests. This followed on a weekend of protests, particularly in the US, over police brutality and the resultant deaths of black people in police custody. The peaceful protests were deliberated escalated by white nationalist groups hoping for violence, and culminated on Monday afternoon with Trump ordering tear gas and bullets to disperse a peaceful crowd demonstrating in front of the White House so he could appear to part the crowd like Moses and pose in front of a church with a Bible.

I was supposed to have a book event at Mysterious Galaxy on Monday evening – one already moved from an in-store event due to the COVID-19 pandemic to an online party via Zoom – and I’d been wondering about how I could pull off a fun and engaging event when the store coordinator reached out to me via Facebook. We agreed that it wouldn’t be right to have a book celebration under those circumstances, so we put out a statement to that effect. And we rescheduled for Thursday, June 11. I hope you’ll all still attend!

It was easy to reschedule. I was happy to step back on talking up my book for the evening as we wrestled more important matters. And I felt strong emotions the following morning when I changed my social media profiles, banners and top posts to black squares. I didn’t post a podcast interview I had planned. I also took down all of the ads I could think of. That was me, shutting up for a while.

And no, I didn’t use any hashtags, or even any words, because I was shutting up for a while.

A few hours into the blackout day, people began sending around cautions that the blackout posts were flooding the hashtags needed to convey information, and many people hastily pulled those off. Much later in the day, an author friend tagged me on Facebook telling me I shouldn’t be doing it at all because the world needed my voice (and those of the other people she tagged). I explained that’s why I hadn’t used the hashtags. I refrained from saying that the world could do without white voices for 24 hours.

That was the point: to step back, shut up, and allow black voices to be heard.

That’s why I didn’t use any hashtags to begin with, because I didn’t need to make this about me. I saw so many white authors using this crisis to elevate their brand and visibility. Seriously? Can’t we just STOP for 24 hours?

Anyway, I’m clearly back to yammering about Me and My Book. But I also hope to be aware of allowing others to speak. Right now, listening and letting others speak is the best thing we can do.