Cover Reveal

Since my cover for Book 3, The Shores of Spain, has gone live over at B&N, I’m now free to show off the magnificent cover that Roc did for it!


Once again they had the same crew doing the cover, with the design done by Katie Anderson and the photography by Juliana Kolesova. In addition, I was so happy that they were able to get the same model for Oriana, as I think she’s absolutely wonderful!

And I think they did a very good job of tying the three novels together, as the covers will look great on the shelf:


It’s rare that an author gets their dream covers on their very first series, but these have been eveything I could have dreamed, and I truly appreciate everything that my editor Danielle and the art department at Ace/Roc has done!




Surfeit of Choices…

When you’re writing for a publisher, you live under a series of deadlines. Back when I was publishing short fiction, I didn’t really understand this. I remember seeing Short Fiction Writers get their book contract, and then their short fiction involvement just faded away.

On the other side of the fence now, I -really- understand that. When I’m working toward a book deadline, I’m plowing hours daily into that one book. Any time I take away from it makes me feel guilty. I should be writing! I should be researching!

Overwork (1)(photo from Forbes Blog)

Now, every writer knows that you can’t spend all your time on the WIP. You have to plan not to, in fact. Because there are two big things that will eat away at that time, things that you MUST do: edits and promotion.

Usually while you are working on Book X, you will get edit requests from your editor for Book (X – 1). So you set aside X and mentally turn back the clock to Book (X-1), and dive into getting that done so you can get back to X. Sometimes this takes a week. Sometimes it takes a month. Sometimes longer.

So if you have 9 months to write Book X, plan on losing a month or so to edits.

And then there’s the debut of Book (X-2). Yep, that book will be coming out at some point, and you’ll be spending days writing blog posts and interviews and setting up signings and going to cons…..that eats up a surprising amount of time.

That drops the time to write Book X even lower. Plan on losing at least a week or two to promotion.


And suddenly we have no time to write our short fiction, we’re scrambling to get our books done, and that eats up all our time and brains.

But then comes the day that you’re ready to turn in Book X.

I’m there now, more or less. I’m doing one final read-through before the turn in date, but I think it’s pretty much ready to meet the editor.  And once it meets the editor, I’ll be out of contract for a bit.

And that gives me the choice to do whatever I want, writing wise, which I haven’t done since I first went under contract for Book 1.

It’s kinda weird.

And scary.


But I’m not really free to do just anything. I still have responsiblities:

One of the tasks a writer has at this time (while waiting on edits for Book X to appear) is to prepare proposals for new books.  When my agent first asked me for a proposal, I had to ask her, “What’s in a proposal?” (I was clueless.)

Turns out a Proposal is a longer and more involved version of what a writer sends for a query.  What my agent wanted was a few-page synopsis of the book, plus sample pages (I sent 50 or so).

So at this time I get to dive back into Proposals for Books I Haven’t Sold, and I’ll hope and pray that my publisher will snap up one of those suggested novels.


(But in my other spare time, when I’m not setting up promotion for Book X-1 , I may even write a short story or two!)





In no particular order…

Well, I’ve turned the penultimate draft of Dreaming Death in to my agent. (You can take ‘penultimate’ with a grain of salt. Yes, I’d like to do another pass before turning it in to my editor at the end of the month, but there will probably be several layers of edits -after- I turn it in as well.)

For anyone who’s keeping track of my career, this is a highly revised version of the second book I finished. The Golden City? That’s my 7th novel. Just because you write novels in an order, they may not be published that way, often for good reason.

So here’s my novel line-up:

1) The King’s Daughter
Not published because it needs serious work. It’s not trunked. It just needs serious work one day…when I have lots of spare time.

2) Dreaming Death
Revised, and about to be turned in, will publish sometime in 2016, I suspect.

3) The White Queen
Sequel to TKD, which needs less work than TKD, but can’t be published without TKD, so….

4) The Devil in the Details
Set in the same world as TKD and TWQ, it takes place about 50 years later, and I hope it will be the first in a series of 6 novels published as stand-alone but related books. (It’s essentially about the love lives of 6 siblings, and this one is the first)

5) The Sins of the Fathers
The sequel to Dreaming Death, but not completed because I got sidetracked to work on something else….

6) The Seat of Magic
Published July of 2014

7) The Golden City
Published November of 2013

8) The Shores of Spain
(Coming out July 2015)

So yes, The Golden City was the 7th novel I started, but was published first. This happens.

If you’re a writer and you’re not having any luck with novel #1, this should serve as a cautionary tale…or an example. Just keep plugging away.


Turkey time….probably not in the way you think.

Our neighbor has purchased turkeys again. I’m afraid he thinks they should be free range, so they’ve joined his guinea fowl in wandering our neighborhood, settling on our roof, and generally driving our dogs nuts.

To get a look at them–because they could evidently hear the turkeys while we were gone to yoga–the dogs broke the blinds in the front dining room. ::sighs::

Now, we love our dogs, and we don’t think there’s any rule preventing our neighbor from using our neighborhood as a giant turkey run*, but the broken blinds are a bit of a pain.

(We’ve decided that as long as we have our dogs, there’s no point in fixing the blinds. But we’ll have to pay eventually).


*If the turkey-owner lived in the neighborhood, we could prevent him as part of the HOA, but since he lives on an estate -next to- our neighborhood, we have no power over him.


I recently watched the PBS special called Hitmakers. It’s an hour focused on the music industry and how it’s changed over the decades, particularly in reference to who controls the industry’s hits…

Chicago record store
(Do you know what those are?)

I find this very interesting because in a lot of ways, it’s the same as the book industry. Or at least, it used to be. There were people who specialised in going out and finding the musicians who had ‘it’. Records were made, and radio stations were told to play the same songs on and on until they became hits…or failed.

Things changed, though, with the advent of the internet. Radio stations have lost the control over what people hear, and thus what becomes a hit. Now it’s about YouTube and various streaming services. The listeners now chose what’s successful.

I see some parallels in the book industry.

1.) The YouTube thing is a bit like self-publishing in that anyone can make a music video now and slap it up there. Some are excellent. Some are not. Some go viral, but the majority accrue a few hundred views and then fade away. Self-publishing (which I’ve done) can be like that…and it’s difficult to pick which book will go viral and which will never be purchased. No gatekeepers other than the final listener.

(In the special, they talk to Melissa Etheridge who is releasing her new album not under a record label, but by herself to get a larger cut of the profit. Sound familiar?)

2.) They also talked about streaming, in that makers are paid very little for things that are streamed. The majority of music makers (not the big ones, of course) don’t make their money with their creations any longer. Instead, the artist they interviewed said that to make ends meet (she wasn’t talking about getting rich, but about being able to pay her musicians at the end of the night) they have to tour and sell t-shirts and other things.

That was a bit worrisome to me because if the writing industry continues along the path that the music industry has…what exactly would we sell? I can’t imagine touring would ever turn a profit for a writer unless they were Richard Castle popular. So do we sell t-shirts? Patches and stickers?

3.) One of important points that the special made was that the gatekeepers who picked out the hitmakers didn’t always get it right. There were a lot of one-hit wonders out there. Or no-hit wonders.

But for every big hit, the special said, the profit covered the losses on 9 groups that didn’t hit it big, allowing the music companies to try out new artists and take some time to build their careers.

I think that the traditional publishers are still doing this, picking up writers like me and giving us a chance because they have other writers who are bringing in enough money to cover those of us who aren’t a big deal. I really appreciate that, but fear the day that the industry–like the record industry–decides it can’t afford that any longer.

It will be both interesting and scary to watch over the next decade to see how far down this path the publishers follow the music industry…


Office Space, Part Deux

(I am a terrible photographer, because none of these pictures do the artwork justice!)

Last week I finally got off my butt and got frames (or better frames) for some of my office art.
This first one is a print by Kiri-Moth which really deserves a better frame (and a custom matte). It’s my favorite, and it’s strange that I took so long to get a frame on it, but it’s hung on one of my bulletin boards with story pics on it for a few years now….because it perfectly captures the main character of Devil in the Details, Kirien Sevireiya. Seriously…the train, the suitcase…it even has her pocket watch that she constantly forgets to wind.* Next time I sell something, I am definitely getting this one properly framed!

(I SO want to publish this book. SO VERY MUCH. This is the one series where I don’t want to change anything…and that’s saying a lot for me.)

Because it’s in the corner behind my desk, I can’t get a good shot of this triptych, but it’s a collection of illustrations done, again by Kiri-Moth, based on Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, one of my favorite childhood books. And I cannot seem to get the frame to hang straight!


I liked the pop of red in this work (again, by Kiri-Moth) which goes well with the red and black on my desk.


I really fell in love with the charm of Alice Tam’s “Birds in Hats” while in London and purchased several of her cards. I’ve actually got a fourth one framed, on the other side of the room.

And I finally reframed this piece by Tabitha Jensen (blogger at Not Yet Read).

I’m kinda bland, because -everything- in here is framed in black, but it’s the ‘office theme’. Yes, I have a theme.

*If you want to see the old bulletin board, it’s in this post, here.

And I have a first draft of Dreaming Death. It’s a bad first draft, but I’m sending it to my first reader (Matt Cheney, of course), and we’ll clean it up a bit before dumping it on agent and editor.



I’m one of those weird people who really doesn’t get Halloween. At least, not Halloween the way it’s generally observed: costumes, parties, and randomly visiting strangers’ houses.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just not my kind of holiday.

I think the main problem is that I don’t ‘get’ the costuming aspect.

This week on Blackish (TV show), the father said something like “it’s the one day you don’t have to be you.”  That really struck me. Why would I not want to be me?  Why would I want to be a pirate? Why would I want to be a unicorn?  This has always been the greatest mystery of costuming for me.

But I also tend to think my costume should be perfect, and therefore, no costume is ever going to be good enough. I recall thinking in HS that my best friend who was in SCA should actually weave the fabric and hand-sew her costumes, because people in the middle ages wouldn’t be able to visit JoAnne Fabrics to purchase fabric…nor would they have a Singer at home.  (I even illustrated a couple of their newsletters for her, but didn’t go to meetings, because I felt weird about it. Go figure.)*

Yeah, my brain works that way. I’m worse than Sheldon.

On the other hand, I love seeing other people’s costumes. Some of you guys are really amazing. (Some people don’t make the same effort, though.) Keep at it, because I’m really impressed. (I also know how difficult it is to sew some of those things, so I am doubly impressed by some of those home-made costumes.)


But the other aspect of Halloween that baffles me is that it’s a party holiday. I don’t enjoy parties. Never have. (This is why you’ll rarely see me at a party at a con.) So the holiday doesn’t resonate with me in either way.

That’s OK. We’re not all required to like the same things.



You guys all have fun. Be polite to each other. Don’t scare any little kids, smash other people’s pumpkins, or egg anyone’s house. Be good.




*FWIW, I’ve also never thought time-travel would be a good idea. At least, not more than a year or two.