Nov 8 2017

The Return of the Return of

Rosemary

My pal Geary Gravel is continuing the re-release of his early novels, so you can keep catching up on what you’ve missed of his ourvre so far.

The latest title to return is Return of the Breakneck Boys, Book 2 of the Fading Worlds series.  The tale picks up where A Key for the Nonesuch left off, with our  protagonist, unheroic normal-guy  Howard Bell (previously dropped willy-nilly into the middle of deadly alien war-games), now the leader of his very own battle-gang, and planning an insurrection against the mysterious organizers of the forced wars.  And in pursuit of that end, Howard and his warrior-woman partner Alaya must leave the Burroughs-esque enviroments of the Fading Worlds wars, and head to —

Um. Earth.

The Fading Worlds series is a lot of fun, and a good turnaround of genre tropes about mighty Earthmen battling foes on barbaric alien worlds.  Things are not quite what they seem, and Geary handles it all with wit and grace. And  I really do enjoy Howard Bell as a character — I always sort of envision him played by Tom Hanks.

Return of the Breakneck Boys: Book Two of the Fading Worlds by [Gravel, Geary]

Cover by illustrator Cortney Skinner, who has known Geary for nearly as long as they’ve both been alive.

In other news not about me…

The World Fantasy Awards were announced last week.

Check out the newly redesigned award!

The winners were:

Novel: The Sudden Appearance of Hope, Claire North (Redhook; Orbit UK)

Long fiction: The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)

Short Fiction: Das Steingeschöpf,” G.V. Anderson (Strange Horizons 12/12/16)

Anthology:  Dreaming in the Dark, Jack Dann, ed. (PS Australia)

Collection: A Natural History of Hell, Jeffrey Ford (Small Beer)

For the full list, pop over to Tor.com (an excellent source for SF/F news, info and free reads).  Or go right to the World Fantasy Convention website.

(I’ll get to the post about my local library next — but I wanted to get the news out about Geary’s book ASAP.  To allow you that much more time before Christmas to buy it.  You’re welcome.)


Nov 1 2017

I am now the proud possessor of:

Rosemary

— a coffee-stained copy of Mary Oliver’s Upstream.

 

Oh, and a cool tote from the Wallingford Library.

The library itself is now the proud possessor of a check from me for a brand-new copy of Mary Oliver’s Upstream. And a tote.

Yep.  There was a book, a cup of coffee, a slightly rickety table in the woods, and my elbow.  All four met in unfortunate circumstance.  I have to blame the elbow; there’s just no other explanation.

I bought the tote because I felt that the library was not charging me enough for replacing the book.  I wanted to give them more money, to assuage my vast guilt.

On the upside, I now own the book. Plus: hey, tote!

In other news:

Now that the third floor is nearly as deserted in the day as it is at night, I’ve taken to pacing the hall as I think.  Last night, as I paced past the conference room, I once again admired their gigantic dry-erase whiteboard.  And by “admired” I mean “seethed with envy over.”

In my own office, I’ve tacked up huge  sheets of dry-erase-style contact paper, to allow me to scrawl deep thoughts and work through twisty structural problems in multiple colors.  At least, in theory that’s why it’s there.  But alas, the contact paper does not work as well as an actual whiteboard.   While it’s true that I can write on it, and erase it,  I can only dry-erase in a 10-second window.  After that, I have to spray on an ammonia-based solvent and use a sponge.  This puts a crimp in one’s spontaneity.

And as I grumbled to myself, pacing back toward my office, it suddenly hit me:

I work at night.  There’s nobody here!

So, I made a big pot of tea, grabbed my laptop and my dry-erase markers and:

 

As long as I erase before I leave, I’m cool.

The billboard company never technically had exclusive use of the conference room. But it was next to their offices, and they were often gathered in it.  So, I simply got it in my head that I don’t use the conference room.  Plus, there’s a whole fishbowl aspect to it, with one glass wall, and its location among all the offices of the sales force.

But now, they are gone.  It’s just Dave and me.  And that one programmer dude who’s never around.

Plus — I work at night.  Mostly.

Strategically blurred to prevent spoilers.

That was the night of the crazy rain and wind.   There’s something particularly lovely about drinking strong tea after midnight, rain and wind banging on the windows, dreaming up crazy solutions to near-intractable problems, while scrawling wildly on 6 by 4 whiteboard.

Of course, lest I take myself too seriously, there was this guy:

Left over from one of their charity promotions… I do hope they find him a good home.

Hope you enjoyed your Hallowe’en! I did — although I never did make it to the town’s justifiably famous Trail of Terror.  I’ve always wanted to try it just once… too late now.

 

Next up: More about the local library, about which not enough good things can be said.


Oct 14 2017

October is crunch time

Rosemary

I’ve been mostly offline, trying to hit Book 5 as hard as possible for the month of October… Thus, mostly radio silence.

If you sent me an email and have had no reply, I’ll probably be catching up on Wednesday October 18th.

Here’s some quickie random news:

Amazon.ca (that’s Canada for those of you who don’t know your URL extensions) now has  the paperback of The Steerswoman at a newly non-exorbitant price.  Excellent!

My plan is to release the  paperback versions of the rest of the series around December 1.   Why no sooner?  Because there’s a lot of front-work and grunt-work involved in redesigning the covers to look good on a physical book, to sort out the map files, to set up the appearance of the insides of the books —  and to proofread, proofread, proofread.  I figure that a couple of weeks at the end of November should cover it.

Today my pal and fellow member of the Fabulous Genrettes, Laurie J. Marks, is hanging with me at my office, working on her next book as I’m working on mine.  I’ve got the desk, she’s got the rocking chair, and we’re both typing away.

Of course, we can’t actually see each others’ screens.   For all either of us knows, the other might be doing online crosswords, posting political screeds on Facebook, or composing limericks.

Or writing blog posts.

Oh, right: that would be me.

Shake-up at the billboard company that shares this floor of the building with me:  I came in on Wednesday, only to find the doors to their offices open, and the desks cleared of all computers and personal possessions!  They are gone — except for the actual owner of the company, who will be hanging on through the transition to the new owners.   Apparently the company was so successful that they became a target for takeover, which speaks well of the current guy’s  business skills.  He’s assured me that all the employees have found other work (some with the new company), and have landed on their feet.  Plus, he now has pots of money.

Upside for me: I no longer have to listen to Bob the Salesman’s conversations on the other side of our shared and very thin wall.  Seriously, that wall is so thin that words spoken in a normal tone of voice sound pretty much as if the other person was actually in the same room with you.

Former home of Bob the Salesman.

When I first took an office in this building, fully half the third floor was completely empty… which got me some lovely solitude!  And then, as the billboard business started doing so very well, they began hiring more salespeople.  And putting them in the other offices, one by one.  Eventually I was surrounded by the sales force.  They started having impromptu meetings in the hallway.

Fortunately, I mostly work in the evening and on weekends, by preference —  but there was a 3-hour overlap with the sales force, during the week.

And now: it’s very, very quiet.  So quiet.

Also: Our town seems to have acquired a few of those little free library boxes.

This one’s right outside the dog park.

I think these are a great idea!  And I’ll be adding a few books — naturally including my own, but also others that I’d like to share.

Later: Just got back from a bit of a walk with Laurie, down to the river and back again.  We’ve both been tearing our hair out on our respective projects, and needed some fresh air and a break.  We strolled down to the river and back again.

 

interesting patterns in the flow over the dam

Turns out it was exactly what was needed.

cat-tails

Then back to the office, and back to the grindstone.

This little guy was also hard at work. Can you spot him?


Sep 24 2017

Keeping up

Rosemary

Given that I don’t post here on my blog in any kind of a formalized schedule, how can you make sure you never miss a post?

Because, every now and then someone out in the offline world will mention to me that… well, that they sort of check on my blog every now and again to see if I’ve posted lately.  Whenever they happen to think of it… if they do happen to think of it.

To which my general reaction tends to be something along the lines of: “Dude! Why make it hard on yourself?”

It’s pretty easy to be automatically informed when there’s a new post here.  Several ways to do it, in fact, some more nerdly than others.

Simplest way?  Are you on Facebook?  I am, and whenever I write a post here, I immediately write a post on Facebook that has a link right back here.  Actually, that’s pretty much the only stuff I post on Facebook.  Just  a link to my latest blog post.   Look for “Rosemary Kirstein — writer.”  It’s  a “page”,  not a personal account, so it’s open to all, and if you hit “like” or “follow,” any new entries of mine will show up on your regular Facebook feed.  Then, just click the link to get here.  Easy!

(I do have another account, a personal one  that’s just for family and pals.  I have to do that, out of courtesy to my family and pals.  Otherwise, all their baby pictures, political griping, and complaints about their cousin’s alcohol intake might be promulgated out to total strangers every time I hit a “like” or “angry” button.  And that would be unkind.)

Next easiest?  Twitter.  When I post a new blog post, I tweet a link.  (And some sort of accompanying wisecrack.  Because it’s Twitter.  That’s what you do.)  I am @rkirstein.  I rarely tweet, other than the blog link — but I do retweet, so if it’s interesting to you to see what’s caught my eye, there’s that.    And by the way, if you scroll down on this very page, you can see a little widget in the second column that will show you, right here, whatever I’ve tweeted or retweeted recently.

Nerdier choice: A news aggregator. I use Feedly myself, to track the blogs that I like.  You can use it online in your browser, or download an app for your phone or tablet.  It’s free — and there are others that do the job just as well. 

There are other ways, as well, including “live” bookmarks in Firefox (and similar in whatever browser you’re using), well known to the more techno-nerdy among you, I’m sure.

So, there you go.

In other news: Progress made on Book 5.  Yes.  I don’t want to jinx it, but I seem to have successfully excised the loads o’ crap that intrenched themselves into the previous iterations.  The story is making sense.

Feeling very good about this right now.

 

Fresh air helps.

 

(PS: If you read my blog on your computer, and not a tablet or smartphone, remember to hover your mouse over any photograph; very often, there’s an extra message hidden in the “tool tips” hovertext.)


Sep 15 2017

Cassini

Rosemary

Just so’s you know…

 

Cassini’s last orbit is happening today, when it will dive into Saturn’s atmosphere (to become a shooting star for any locals who might be on hand).

It’s going to keep its cameras going for as long as possible.

NASA TV has “live” coverage starting at 7AM  EDT.  “Live” meaning as it comes in.  Not as it actually happens, seeing that the time-lag for radio signals from Saturn is currently about 83 minutes.  But “live” as in: you can’t get the news any faster than this.

Here’s the timeline:

https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/grand-finale/cassini-end-of-mission-timeline/

And here’s an especially glorious collection of 100 Cassini images, selected by the New York Times.

Our faithful robot pals… out there exploring for us.

 

Next best thing to being there.

northpole-PIA17175.jpg


Sep 14 2017

Yo, Canada. Also: I read poetry.

Rosemary

I’ve been having a bit of back-and-forth with Createspace and Amazon.ca, occasioned by my astonishment at finding that the Canadian price of the paperback of The Steerswoman on Amazon.ca was more than twice the price on Amazon.com!  Even allowing for the exchange rate!

As it turns out, the issue was that Amazon.ca is not yet itself selling the book — it’s just listing it for sale through Amazon.ca, but by third parties.   Other booksellers, that is; and these guys are buying it from sources in the US, importing it, and passing on all that extra cost to you, the purchaser.

But don’t worry; within a few days, Amazon.ca will itself be selling the book, and its price should drop to some reasonable amount.  I’ll be keeping my eye on it, and I’ll post a note here in my blog, when I see it happening.

In other news, still doing the hair-tearing part of writing…

In other other news: I’m reading Mary Oliver‘s collection of essays, Upstream.  I do not understand how this writer escaped my notice until so recently — she’s certainly been around long enough for me to have come across her.  And yet, somehow, I didn’t.

 

From the title essay:

“In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.”

I stumble across things, writers that I wish I’d known about years ago…

From “Sleeping in the Forest”:

“All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.”

 

The more I read of her, the more I find this sort of clarity of perception as being — how shall I say it?  Very steerswomanly.  To be that aware, and that observative, and that curious and questing.

From “Worm Moon”:

“In March the earth remembers its own name
Everywhere, the plates of snow are cracking.
The rivers begin to sing. In the sky
the winter stars are sliding away; new stars
appear as, later, small blades of grain
will shine in the dark fields.

And the name of every place
is joyful.”

It was Terri Windling who directed me toward Mary Oliver, through her blog, “Myth and Moor.”  Terri’s blog is, by the way,  a wonderful resource for thoughts about art, and creativity.   I’ve got it on my blog feed, so that I never miss a post.

My exploration of Mary Oliver’s writing has just begun, and I’m taking it slowly — you need to read poetry slowly.   We’ll see what comes up as I read more…

 


Sep 4 2017

News about people who are not me

Rosemary

Geary Gravel’s Fading Worlds books are coming back into print, starting with A Key for the Nonesuch.

Aside from being a pal, Geary is a writer whose work I really enjoy (these two facts are possibly not unrelated).  His Fading Worlds books answer the question: What if a regular, normal person was dropped into an Edgar Rice Burroughs-ish adventure?

Well.  Howard Bell does rise to the occasion.

And I happen to know for a fact that the second book, Return of the Breakneck Boys, is also in the pipeline for republication Real Soon Now.  And that subsequent volumes of the series are in the works.  (True fact.  I have had the pleasure of reading bits of them.)

Why there’s the famous author right now, chuckling in a worldly-wise manner over his aperitif.

Looks like at the moment only the paperback version is out, but I know that an ebook is soon to come.

Which I shall instantly snatch up.

ETA: Here’s the paperback version on Amazon.com.

(Inexplicably, the paperback and Kindle versions aren’t linked to each other… if you go to one and click on “see all formats” it does not show you the other format!  But it does exist in both formats. )


Sep 4 2017

Why do I always leave blogging until the end of my work day?

Rosemary

You’d think I’d learn.

I sat down to blog, and then realized that my website needed some updating in the sidebar sections (specifically, links to the new paperback version of The Steerswoman).

And then a few other tweaks…

And then some fixes…

And now: time’s up! Must go home and actually sleep.

Here are some quick pics from the eclipse trip:

A very nice family hanging out right next to us in Bicentennial Park in Maryville, Tennessee

 

Panorama — click to embiggen.

No photos of totality, as I was too busy lookin’!  (It’s the one time it’s safe to look.)

Indian Echo Cavern in Harrisburg PA

 


Aug 28 2017

Now also available on Amazon!

Rosemary

The paperback version of The Steerswoman is now available on Amazon. 

It’s been available at CreateSpace’s own online store for a week or so  — but Amazon’s always been my best sales channel, so I’m hoping for a decent number of sales.

Some people still aren’t into ebooks, generally, bless ’em.  And why should they be denied access to Rowan’s world?  I do have plans to do the rest of the series as trade paperbacks, as well, and I’m currently aiming at December, as I have Many Things needing my attention at the moment.

I’m really pleased with the look and feel of the book.   This is fun.

 

In other news: back from the mighty eclipse trip, which involved two days driving there, two days driving back; two nights in motels; two nights visiting pals; four nights in Smoky Mountain National Park; days and days of driving to identify good eclipse-watching spots; and one day of sheer luck in hitting an unexpected excellent viewing spot.  More on that soon.

Shadow of a tree during the eclipse, where each gap between the leaves acts as a little pinhole projector.  Click to embiggen!

 


Aug 21 2017

Where I am

Rosemary

Eclipse on the way!

Maryville Tennessee.