Exciting New Project!

I shared this video in various places, but I wanted to share it here, too, because it amuses me so much. Jackson had been snoozing in the shade and apparently decided a warm-up was called for. I looked up from my screen and he was lolling out there, soaking up the sun on his belly, king of his little universe.

That cat just cracks me up.

I’m popping in here today to let you all know about an Exciting New Project! (Hence the title. *cough*) The fantastic Thea Harrison has asked me, Grace Draven, and Elizabeth Hunter to participate in an anthology for the midwinter holidays!!!! It’s going to be called AMID THE WINTER’S SNOW. <- I love this title. Don’t you love this title? It’s very Enya to me.

We’ll each contribute a novella from our fantasy worlds, the story taking place around some sort of midwinter festival. Release date: December 12, 2017. We should have it up for preorder about a month before that. We’re working on a cover now, so stay tuned for that!

I’m also going to have some exciting news soon on a whole new series, but I can’t spill yet. Woo hoo!


Getting that Word Count While Traveling – How Do You Do It?

I’m delighted to announce that THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE is up for preorder!! A few others will be coming soon, but – as with many things – Amazon is fast and efficient, making us both love and loathe them. Smashwords wants me to promise to upload the final doc ten days before release and I … just can’t. Ten days is forever in my world, regrettable as that may be. But, hey! The book is coming along really well, and I’m tentatively thrilled with it.

~knocks on wood~

~tosses salt over shoulder~

~pets black cat and gives it extra treats~

Want to see a little snippet? Okay! But you have to click over to the SFF Seven, where our topic this week at the SFF Seven is Writing On The Road: How to stay on task while traveling. See what I did there? Tasty, tasty click bait! 😀

What’s the Ideal Amount of Time to Take Between Writing Novels?

These signs always amuse me so much. Although, in New Mexico, the lakes are often somewhat hidden from view, and one can come upon them precipitously, from flat mesa to deep canyon filled with water. Still… the warning signs make me smile.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is the Novelist’s Refractory Period: How you handle that time between “just finished the novel” and when you “have” to start the next. Come on over for my take. 

Establishing Sustainable Writing Habits – and Being Happy, Too

This is a quintessentially Santa Fe photo to me. I took it at Radius Books, where my lovely author friend Megan Mulry works. I stopped by on a hot June afternoon to pick up some books from her, and this dog-in-residence was enjoying the cool stairway. Or being part of an art installation. In Santa Fe, even the dogs have a keen appreciation for aesthetics.

My life is pretty wonderful these days. I live in a beautiful place, I have lovely friends, and I’m actually pulling off this writing full-time gig. David and I are both working hard, but we’re making progress. Every once in a while, I kind of catch my breath and realize that I’m truly making my living as a writer. After twenty-five years of putting the effort toward that goal – and *not* getting there – it still feels unreal. 

So, I’m counting my blessings and my lucky stars. 

I’m also still learning how this works. I don’t think I’ve posted recently on word count goals and sustainability. For a while there, when I went to writing full time, I tried for 5,000 words/day. And I can do it. I have the time. I can write that much in a day, and I can sustain that output for a week or two, working five days/week. Which is great for getting 50K in a couple of weeks. 


And I set that out as a big, bold BUT – my overall productivity for 2016 went down, despite this elevated goal. I sat down with my spreadsheets (FTW!) to figure out why. It turns out those 25K weeks come with a high price for me. I would follow those with rebound weeks where I got very little done. I’d work and work… and come up dry. I’d drained the well. 

This makes no sense to me, as it feels like there shouldn’t be an energetic limit on creativity. I tried all sorts of methods to find a way to sustain the higher daily wordcounts. 

Nope. I always paid the price in lower productivity. Even when I *thought* I was doing fine, my wordcount majory dropped. The numbers don’t lie.

So, in 2017, I resolved to keep my wordcount goals to about 3K/day, five days a week. Not only does this feel relatively easy, I can sustain it, week after week. I no longer get those unproductive rebound weeks. The upshot is, though I’m getting 10K less per week, I’m on track to beat my 2016 wordcount by a significant margin.

This also means that I typically finish early in the day – usually by 1 or 2, since I’m a morning writer – and I sometimes feel at loose ends. After so many years of managing two careers, it feels weird to have free time and not use it to work. So, I’m doing things to fix up the house. I’m gardening, reading more, seeing friends. 

And I’m contemplating the value of a creative hobby that isn’t about income.

When I was a new writer and taking every class I could, the US Poet Laureate at the time, Ted Kooser, came to the university to give a week-long class. I’m not really a poet and poetry has never been my focus, but I took every opportunity that knocked.

He was just terrific and I learned a great deal from him. But what sticks out in my mind has nothing to do with the craft of writing. What I’ve always remembered about him is that he also painted – beautifully – but had a hard and fast rule that he wouldn’t sell his paintings. He only gave them away. People sometimes argued with him about this. Why not sell this art, too? And he explained that he wanted that one thing to not be about earning money.

That came back to me recently during a conversation with Anne Calhoun. She made a quilt for her sister’s wedding and commented on how fun it was to simply Make a Thing that was unconnected to money. I replied – with some envy – that I used to quilt all the time, and loved it, but gave that up because I needed to spend that time and energy on writing.

And I now understand what Ted Kooser meant. There’s a value to creating something without thinking about paying bills with it. It’s restful in a way. Refilling that well. 

I might take up quilting again. 

A few extra things. I met a debut author Genevieve LaViolette and she wrote a charming blog post about it. Features lovely comments about me, so I had to share.

Also, I mentioned Sunday about my PRISM finals – that list is up here. Congrats to all!

Book Trailers and Animated Ads – Do They Work?

Lonen’s War is on sale for .99₵! If you haven’t read it – or if you’ve been bugging your friends to give it a try 😉 – this is the perfect time to grab a copy.

I’m doing this in part to celebrate my good news: THE PAGES OF THE MIND and THE EDGE OF THE BLADE are both finalists in the fantasy category of the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal (FFP) PRISM Award! It’s always a thrill to be a finalist, but with two books in there, I have my fingers crossed that maybe I’ll get one of these:

Only with, yanno, MY name and book on it! A girl can dream.

Marketing: Book Trailers, Vine Vids, and Gifs: Can/Would/Could Animated Ads Work For You? I’m also asking readers if these kinds of things work for them. Come on over to the SFF Seven for more. 

Wonderful Women

I was trying to get the moon in the clouds last night, but this ended up looking like an avenging angel swooping in over the Santa Fe Railyard.

Even better!

Particularly as we were sitting outside, having some lovely prosecco, after watching WONDER WOMAN. Speaking of avenging angels.

So, yes, I am joining the hoards who are totally in love with this movie. Even though I made a point of seeing this in the theater – which I rarely do, as I stream most movies at home – I still didn’t expect to be so thrilled with it.

The Amazons were incredible! My fantastic (Campbell-award nominated!) writer friend, Kelly Robson, pointed out that there are only women in the movie for a long time. I hadn’t even noticed, but I reveled in the skill, power, wisdom, and athleticism of the Amazons. The armor! Those muscular thighs! The sparring and battling!

It made me realize how starved I was to see heroines like this. They were never once silly or clumsy or apologetic. When they died battling the Germans, they died heroically. And when they kicked ass, they did it mightily!

Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is everything I could want in a heroine. She is courageous, firm in her convictions, a mighty warrior, and full of compassion. The moment she kneels behind her shield fending off a hail of machine-gun fire gave me chills. As if all the horrible events of the recent  months could be dashed away as easily, if only we keep to our resolve. Wonder Woman never once falters. She battles on with strength, agility, and integrity.

Her relationship with Steve Trevor was pitch perfect. And not only because it’s exactly the kind of relationship I like my fantasy heroines to have! They enjoyed each other’s humor, their friendship deepening beyond the obvious physical attraction. They complemented each other’s skills and the movie absolutely allowed him to play supporting role to her heroism. He loved her in all her brilliance and power – never once detracting or mansplaining. 

If I ever get to have my Twelve Kingdoms and Uncharted Realms books made into movies, I would love, love, love for Patty Jenkins to direct. The woman totally gets it. It’s good to have things to wish for and that’s top of my list now. 

A girl can dream! She can also kick serious ass and still have love and compassion. 

Watch What You Feed that Ego

For those who don’t follow me on Instagram or Twitter, this is our agave flower spike. It’s fixing to bloom any day now. Really spectacular!

Some of my friends find this monster spike unsettling and alien. More than one has compared it to the flesh-eating, massively growing plant in Little Shop of Horrors.


I can see their (okay, pretty melodramatic) point. But there was something about that manipulative plant, whose hunger for human flesh could never be sated, that sticks in our heads and still gives us the creeps. 

We could say it’s that atavistic and animal instinct to avoid the predator. I’d go a step further and say that stories of this type warn us of another great peril of being human: the overweening ego. That’s our topic this week, asking each other “How Do You Keep It Humble?” aka “Great Cautionary Tales: the Enormous Ego Edition.” Come on over to the SFF Seven for my tips on how NOT to have this happen to you.