Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Back in Canada

The husband, the dog, and I returned safely to the cold north a few days ago. To celebrate we bought the dog snow boots because the below zero (Fahrenheit - WAY below zero celsius) temperatures have been making it difficult for her to stay outside long enough to pee. With boots on, she can now handle a good long romp in the snow (as long as they stay on).

Evidence here:

I never thought I would have to buy my dog boots, as she is very much designed for winter, but it turns out there is winter and there's WINTER. The Starks were right.

The winter solstice holidays have been fun, we got to see loads of family stateside and now we're catching up on holiday time with the Canadian side of the friends and family. So that's all happy and good.

But I wouldn't want you to think that I didn't get any work done over the holidays! After getting Blade's Edge back from my copy editor and dealing with changes and suggestions, I went into a formatting frenzy.

And... I wound up compromising on the whole formatting thing. I did all the formatting myself. However, I have "shipped" the finished formatted document off to a professional formatter to be checked for formatting errors and inconsistencies and to make sure that everything meets industry standards. Said formatter will not correct anything herself, but rather will send me a list of things that need to be corrected and I will fix them. This is all done for a very small fraction of the cost of what it would take to pay a professional formatter to do a custom job (and also quite a bit less than it would cost to have someone else mush it into a template). As a bonus, I learn from my mistakes and am better prepared to do this again next time. :-D

I'm getting so excited about getting Blade's Edge in print. Just a reminder for those that live in or near Winnipeg: January 23rd is the launch party at McNally's. All are welcome.

Well, I think I'm going to call a close to my working day and spend some time with the husband and dog. Wishing everyone a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Blade's Edge Update and Happy Holidays

Well folks, Blade's Edge is cruising along. The copyediting is done (save for a final read over after the formatting is in place). The formatting is almost done. Down to small tweaks. So EXCITING!

For those who have been wondering, I managed to meet back up with the husband on the 12th and after a few days of hanging with Arizona peeps we headed east to meet up with my family for a holiday gathering.

Said holiday gathering is still underway, so I will keep this short so that I can go spend time with family. I've already missed out on a bit of the hang in order to get a kickstarter update published and to address some work related e-mails. Luckily, there have been some quiet moments over the past few days to enable to me to address copyediting changes and to get the formatting well underway.

We're so close to being done I can taste it...

The funny thing is, once the book is "done" and all ready to print there is still a ton of work to be accomplished. But I really can't wait to get this book printed and into people's hands. The launch party is going to be a lot of fun as well.

Alright. I've ignored my family for about an hour and half so far this morning. Time to go be social.

Hope everyone reading this is enjoying a wonderful holiday season.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fake it til you make it...

Well, the fun thing about having sent off Blade's Edge to my copy editor, is that this week I have been working on things that have little to do with writing or editing, and everything to do with graphic design and formatting.

Have I mentioned before that I am NOT a graphic designer?

That doesn't seem to stop me from pretending to be one. This formatting thing is... well picky. It's a lot of small corrections. It's a lot of spending time tweaking tiny details and then hoping that they turn out how you think they will.

I know a couple of independent authors who are actually quite successful, but who still format their books themselves. I'm hoping that I can channel some of their talent. Really, I think in this particular matter, as long as one keeps things relatively simple, it's just a question of having the patience to make all the changes and then check them.

In addition to formatting, I am now working on making the bookmarks, t-shirts, and posters for all of the kickstarter backers. Of course, I'm using Juan Carlos' amazing artwork so all I really have to do is decide how to display it. To be honest, the most difficult one is going to be the bookmarks because I can only use a small segment of the artwork.

In other news, I'm gearing up to see my family next week and to see my husband tomorrow! I haven't seen my hubby in five weeks, so I'm very much looking forward to our reunion!

Here is a picture that I took a few days ago of Sedona looking beautiful. Just because.

Now I'm back to playing graphic designer.

PS. This is my 100th post on this particular blog... Not sure how to go about celebrating that, but I thought it warranted a mention. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Here in the US it is once more the day of eating to excess, getting dopey off tryptophan, hanging out with family, and being thankful for stuff. I skipped the first three this year, but here's my shot at the fourth.

In a year in which I have moved countries (again), changed careers, and run a successful crowdfunding campaign, I have a huge amount to be thankful for. I could list achievements, I could list obstacles overcome, I could list the various comforts I'm lucky enough to enjoy, I could list many things.

But all of the things that I'm truly grateful for come down to people. I'm grateful for the people in my life. And not just the people who are always loving and kind. Don't get me wrong, I am SOOO grateful for my friends and family, for everyone who has supported me in some way over the past year (of whom there are many); people who have administered hugs when needed, people who have had faith in my ability to accomplish my goals, people who haven't told me my dreams are crazy, or discouraged me from trying new things.

Yet, I'm also grateful for the people who have challenged me. I'm grateful for the people who have disagreed with me. I'm grateful for the people who have told me I'm wrong, or that I shouldn't do something, or that I am - in fact- crazy. I'm grateful for these people whether they were right or wrong. I'm grateful because challenges teach us so much about ourselves, whether they challenge us to prove others wrong, or challenge us to accept that we are wrong ourselves.

I'm grateful for the strangers who have reached out to support my writing. I can't tell you how much it means to me that people I've never met before or had any contact with are willing to read my stories, enjoy them, pass them on, tell others about them, or write me a note to let me know that they were in some way moved by my writing.

I'm grateful for the strangers who have dismissed or belittled my writing, because they have helped me grow a thicker skin and reminded me not to take myself too seriously.

I am grateful for everyone who has smiled at me as I pass them on the street. I'm grateful for everyone who has held a door for me, picked up something I've dropped, or nodded in greeting when I've said hello.

I'm especially grateful for my husband; for being my support, my cheerleader, my coach and my teammate. I'm grateful that he makes me want to be the best possible version of myself.

I've already mentioned my family and friends, but I will mention them again, because they have been so supportive of me and I have been distant in many ways this year, but not due to lack of love.

I'm grateful for my dog, who makes everything better, even when I've lost my ability to believe in myself or other humans.

I'm grateful for everything. I'm grateful for life. I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to tell people how damned grateful I am.

Here's Artemis being grateful for dog beds and mirrors.

I'm thankful for so much on a day that's set aside for giving thanks (and every day). As you can tell from that list, I am most thankful for people (and dogs) so I would like to leave everyone with the following thought:

Today is an excellent day to reach out to the people you wouldn't normally reach out to. The people that you care about, but who maybe don't get to hear it that often. The people that might be alone today. The people who you love, but you assume someone else is telling them they are loved today. Reach out to them today and tell them you're thankful for them. 

It's a message that everyone needs to hear, but most of us don't hear it enough. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Back at it! (Bonus: Final cover art)

Hey folks, just a quick blog update today featuring bullet points of exciting things and a picture of my workspace for the day (ok... and a bonus at the end).

  • I'm back at work after two weeks of working for my old job leading students on a climbing and leadership field trip
  • I managed to finish up writing (with a lot of help from others) a back cover blurb and some teaser text for the book cover 
  • The above was much more difficult than anticipated, but I think the end results are solid
  • I have proofs for the final cover and it's amazing. When I have the final final cover (yep that's two finals) I will share it with you here (although my Kickstarter backers get the first look as part of their insider rewards)
  • I am going to spend the entire rest of today working on Blade's Edge revisions
  • The only two parts remaining after I finish applying my beta readers feedback (this is the part that got super delayed because of this trip) are my copy editor applying her revision and the formatters making everything beautiful
  • Once I finish these revisions the book will be largely out of my hands and I can't wait for that to be true
  • The cover is so nice that I find it intimidating to have to make the insides good enough to be worthy of the cover...
  • I am in Arizona right now and the weather is perfect
  • I miss my husband who is still in Winnipeg (where you would have to have a very different definition of perfect in order to describe the weather that way)
  • I'm feeling overwhelmed and beginning to worry that I don't actually have time to actually celebrate any of the holidays coming up (but I'm hopeful that that feeling is wrong)
  • Life is pretty damned awesome in spite of, and because of, everything I've just listed
  • Along those lines, here's my workspace today:
Photo taken with my laptop

So, yay for bullet points when paragraphs just take too much energy! I'm skimping on the blog so that I can actually focus on this book. I can't wait to show you guys the cover. I think you're going to love it. 

Because I feel bad about not having shown you any of the final cover art yet, here is the cover art without the design. (Now that my kickstarter backers have had it for a week I don't feel guilty for showing you.) The design is almost finished and I will show that to you in the not too distant future.

And on that note, I leave you. I hope everyone is enjoying the last few bits of fall or, in many places, an early and unforgiving winter (and for my friends in the southern hemisphere SPRING!). 

I'm hoping the enjoyment for winter will come from an appreciation of snow and many warm delicious beverages. :-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In which I briefly return from the wilderness, only to disappear once more...

Well, hey there folks. I'm actually still on my two week excursion with students, but I am back in the land of the interwebs for the final few days and currently have a moment to say hello (and am distracting myself from attempting to come up with a back cover blurb for Blade's Edge).

I just spent a week teaching students to climb in Cochise Stronghold and am now in Patagonia, AZ at a leadership/experiential education center with the same students. We're here until Friday and then as of Saturday the students will officially be on vacation and I'll officially be back to work. This has been a lovely and much needed two weeks of "vacation."

It's been wonderful and strange to be thrown back into VVS life for two weeks. In many ways it feels like I never left. It seems like I was just late returning this year and somehow missed the first trimester, but everyone was surprisingly ok with that. There are a number of new faces at VVS this year, but a high enough concentration of old ones that it feels like home still. Being on campus just before field trips started, when faculty were madly grading and prepping for field trips made me feel strangely guilty. I'm used to being part of that crazy mad scramble to get everything done in time to leave. This year all I had to do was prepare for a field trip. For two days I had this horrible feeling that I was forgetting to do something, that I had to be somewhere, or that I was shirking some obligation. I wasn't. I told myself I wasn't. That didn't keep the guilty feeling at bay. Oh behavioral training...

Now that we're on this trip instead of kicking around VVS campus the guilty feeling has dissolved and instead I feel at home in a role that I've played often over the past few years. It's fun to be back with students, some of whom I've known a long time and some of whom I'd never met until this trip. In addition, my co-leader is hilarious, laid back, and very easy to work with. So all is well on that front.

On the noveling front, I've been working on the edits for Blade's Edge when I have time, and also sneaking in bits and pieces of a new novel for NaNoWriMo. Blade's Edge edits definitely take priority right now, but November is always the month when I make the biggest chunk of progress on my newest work. This is important to me because a. as this is my eighth year participating it feels like an important tradition, but also b. because I feel that it's important to have a new work to focus some of my creativity on in order to have a place to put to use everything I've learned from my last project.

I have a large backlog of novels that need to be taken all the way through revision, especially Gwendamned, which is the novel that I tried to finish revising before I took Blade's Edge through revision. I still have 25% of that novel left to revise once I get Blade's Edge out the door and then, once I'm done with that, I have a stack of first drafts that need to go through revision as well.

My hope is that the next twelve months will be a chance to take a number of full length works all the way through to publication. Of course, that depends on a lot of factors, including whether or not I will choose to submit any of those books to the traditional publication process. That's probably it's own blog post of the future, but I'm no longer sure that traditional publication holds much allure for me. Of course, I shall reserve true judgement on that front until I've actually gone all the way through the independent publication process. I'm definitely not there yet, though it feels desperately close. We'll see what I have to say in January after the official launch. (And even then there will be parts of the process remaining that I won't have experienced yet.)

I do have the final artwork for the cover as well, but right now I'm only sharing it with my kickstarter backers. I'm thinking about waiting to share it here until it has its cover design. I will say that I think it's awesome.

Here are two pictures to keep you entertained in the meantime:

Demonstrating the warm climate that I'm currently enjoying, I present a lizard hanging out in the middle of November. Thank you, southern Arizona.

And to demonstrate the winter that I will be returning to at the end of my US adventures, here is the new (to me) parka that I bought in Winnipeg just before I started my trip south. I have apparently already missed the first snow of the year. :-(

That's all I've got for now. Time to get back to editing and writing. Hope this finds everyone well. Happy onset of winter! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Oh revision you tricky b$@!h...

And yes, I mean that as in revision is like a cunning canine adversary (like a female fox, the most cunning and intelligent of all foxes).

There are a lot of pitfalls for writers when it comes to revising your work. So many traps to fall into, or be led into by a red and white tailed huntress... It's easy for a writer to finish a first, second, or third draft of something and think, "Yeah, I nailed it. Everyone will love it," and then balk when it turns out people don't. It's easy for a writer to pour their heart and soul into a revision because they know that the last draft just wasn't good enough, and get to the end and feel like the amount of work and love they put into it will be obvious to everyone who reads it... and then find out that it wasn't. It's easy to feel justified in ignoring other people's critiques because they simply "don't understand your work." And it's also easy to let someone else's words break you, convince you that you're so far from the mark you'll never get there, and maybe you should consider giving up.

I like to think I don't fall into any of these traps frequently, especially not any more. I've developed a pretty thick skin over the years receiving rejections of short stories, critiques on longer works, etc. and I've also come to really value other people's input on what could make my writing better. But we're all susceptible to these traps no matter how far we think we've come since we started. Never is that clearer than when you are at the stage of your process that necessitates feedback from others.

Objectivity, though difficult to maintain, is of prime importance. Conflictingly, so is trusting your gut. It can be hard to do both at once.

Other people's input can be paramount in holding yourself accountable as a writer; making sure that you're producing something worthy of an audience, making sure that someone other than you can follow the thread of your story, fall in love with your characters, see the world that you're trying to build. You need people to test that and make sure that you're doing your job.

On the other hand, no one else knows your intent the way that you do. No one else knows exactly what you're trying to say and how you best need to say it in order to express yourself as you intended. Every reader who picks up your work will take something different away from it and you cannot possibly account for everyone's tastes and interpretations. Also, *gasp* not everyone who reads your work will like it. You cannot please everyone. Truly you can't. Not everyone agrees about what makes a good book (not even Shakespeare, Hemingway, Austen or Woolf are universally liked) and if you worry about everyone liking your book you're in for a life full of non-stop worry.

Yet, while trusting your gut when it comes to your work can tempt you into thinking that whatever you've put on paper should be good enough for "the people who truly appreciate you" (whoever they are) and everyone else can eat shit. Heeding the critiques of others can cripple you from ever having the confidence to hold a pen in your hand and decide that it's worth your time to put it to a piece of paper.

You need balance. Any story ever written (yes, including all the ones currently in print) could be improved upon. The changes you can make to a piece of work are infinite, (as are the changes someone else could make) and if you ever reach "perfection" in a particular turn of phrase or scene it is sure to be a fleeting thing. If nothing else, time and perception will turn it into something less than perfect; all you have to do is wait. So, to refuse to publish anything until it's "perfect" is to never publish anything at all.

Conversely, to simply put words on paper (or screen) and deem them "good enough" without ever attempting to improve yourself or your craft is to give up on yourself as an artist. Anyone can put fifty or one hundred thousand words down on paper, but pushing yourself to make those words matter, to make them beautiful to yourself and hopefully some others, requires art. You can always improve and you should always strive to.

When, then, do you say "enough?" If a work can always be made better and you should do your best to improve yourself, how do you ever declare anything "finished?"

I imagine the answer to that is different for everyone. For me it comes from knowing that something is as good as I can make it with the time I've allowed myself. Because when it comes right down to it, I could spend years and years fixing every first draft I've ever written and never release a single book. But, I'd rather get things to the point where I'm proud to have my name on them, release them into the world, and then learn from my mistakes and incorporate that learning into my next project.

If I were only ever planning to publish a single novel I might feel differently. If I were shooting for the "Great American Novel," or seriously hoping that my first full length publication were going to win me some awards, I might delay further. Does it seem wrong to say that? Are you wondering why I would publish anything that wasn't the absolute best possible version of it that I could make?

Did you read the part where I said you could perfect things indefinitely?


I want all my work to be good. I don't publish anything (or submit things for publication) if I'm not proud of them. But, what makes me proud in my writing today is different than what it was ten years ago, than what it was even a year ago, and even than it was last week. So the longer I delay the more apt I am to delay further. Deadlines help me move on. I have a LOT of stories in my head. I also have a bunch on paper already that are awaiting revision. I don't have infinite time to revise. At a certain point I have to simply look at the work and say: would I be happy if I spent money on this and then read it? If the answer is yes, it's probably time to move on.

I write for me. I write because I love writing and because I would go insane if I couldn't write. I write because I have no choice but to write.

I revise for me and for others. I revise because I like challenging myself to do better, because I like to see what ways the story could improve and to mess with all the variables and see what I come up with. I revise to make sure that other people see what I see, hear what I hear, live in an imaginary world of my conjuring and then make it their own.

I publish for others. Making things pretty enough to publish is simply an act that enables people to enjoy my stories in the simplest form possible, pages in hand. Of course I hope that the act of publishing will gain me more readers, but it is all about the readers. Gaining them, keeping them, giving them something to come back for.

Balance, balance, balance. Walking on a slackline over a canyon and trying not to slip.

Here is a picture of how beautiful the sky was yesterday just after sunset. Hope everyone is well on this lovely fall evening.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I don't know where to start...

Ack! It's been a crazy week. Well, ok, I say that a lot, and I mean it a lot. You guys can judge for yourself if it was actually crazy or not.

So, last week (not the one that today is still technically a part of, but the one before that) I got a plea for help from my old job. Due to one of the faculty being injured, they needed me to help lead one of their trips in November (if you've been reading this blog consistently you've probably noticed my tendency to disappear for most of November and then come back and post amazing pictures of the Grand Canyon). So yeah, I'm doing that again, only this year I won't be leading students in the Grand Canyon, I'll be taking kids climbing in southern Arizona. Awesome. However, it is also unfortunate.

First and foremost it's unfortunate because one of my good friends is injured and unable to go on his trip and that's why I'm going down to help out. That is seriously sucky, and everyone should send him healing thoughts. Second of all, it's unfortunate because I am in the middle of trying to get a book ready for publication by mid-December and disappearing from work for two weeks isn't exactly conducive to that. Third of all, it's unfortunate because it means I'm adding two and a half weeks to the amount of time I don't get to see my husband (I was originally headed south to see family and friends for the run from Thanksgiving to solstice/Christmas, but I was going to be leaving much later).

All of those unfortunate things aside though, I am very excited to be headed to Arizona again, and I am excited to be leading a climbing trip and getting to enjoy the southwest for a while. So that's all to the good.

I just have to figure out how to manage this whole book thing.

Oh, and then there's NaNoWriMo.

And now you're saying, "Surely, Virginia, you're not doing NaNoWriMo this year... That would just be silly."

To which I reply, "When has being silly stopped me from doing ANYTHING?"

Ha! Stumped you there, didn't I?

Yeah. I'm doing NaNoWriMo, though getting Blade's Edge published takes top priority, but technically, that's mostly managing/coordinating a bunch of other people's work rather than doing a ton of it myself. So, I am hopeful... We shall see. Right now I should be typing away on my NaNo project for this year. I will get to that shortly, but I have been neglectful of the blog this week. So I thought I'd give you guys an update. I had hoped to post a video, but I haven't managed to record one yet this week. Ah well...

I'm going to get back to that whole finish creating front matter/back matter, getting promotional materials together, washing all my climbing clothes, going to the climbing gym 'cause I'm out of shape, writing a new novel for NaNoWriMo, freaking out because none of my beta readers have gotten me feedback yet, and I still need to walk the dog- thing. Heh. Here's a picture of the Grand Canyon from previous adventures there to help calm everyone (me) down. Everything will be fine.

Taken with my phone the day before we entered the canyon last year. Smokey because of a controlled burn taking place on the rim.

And this is a reminder of all the awesomeness I'm going back to visit. Artemis is excited to return to the desert too!

Monday, October 27, 2014

In which I return to a normal life...

...or as normal a life as mine ever is.

That's right. The rumors are true: I've finished the final major revision of Blade's Edge.



I might be a little bit excited about that.

This whole thing has been a crazy ride. Of course, it's not actually over. Right now the manuscript is in the hands of my awesome beta-readers - people who have volunteered their time to read the book before it's pretty and tell me all the things that I failed to do properly.

Like "Gee, Virginia it sure is nifty that your characters can all do ____ is a shame you never explain how that works."

Or, "Gosh, I really enjoyed __insert character name here__ too bad you forgot about him entirely at the end of the book."

In truth, this final revision was about fixing all of those types of problems (along with a bunch of other changes) so hopefully none of that happens, but that's the kind of thing they're looking for among other things. Big picture issues. So right now I'm enjoying some blissful time away from the manuscript while it rests in their hands. I'll get it back on November 1st and get it to my copyeditor by the 5th after taking care of whatever my beta readers find that needs fixing.

So, of course I spent the whole day getting nothing productive done aside from a few work related e-mails. I would feel guilty, but, until yesterday I hadn't taken a full day off since September 8th (no not even on weekends) so I'm going to go ahead and allow it.

You guys know how much I like stats, so here are some stats for the Blade's Edge final revision:

# of words at the end of draft 2 (the one available on Jukepop) = 99,531

# of words at the start of draft 3 = 80,347

# of words at the end of draft 3 (final draft) = 105,443

# of days spent on draft 3 = 27

# of hours spent on draft 3 = at least 270 but possibly quite a few more...

Amount of joy at being done with the final major revision of Blade's Edge = immeasurable

Yeah. It's a bad mastercard commercial. I went there.

Anyway, it doesn't really feel real, this whole being done with the final major revision of a novel business. I keep saying "major revision" because there is still work to be done on the manuscript. It will require fixes when it comes back from my beta readers. It will require fixes when my copy editor and I go through it. It will probably require some teeny tiny fixes even after that. The goal is for it to need as few fixes as possible by the time it goes to print... here's hoping.

To celebrate yesterday my husband and I hung out a bunch, made some food, spent time with friends, and Artemis and I went for a glorious fall walk in the woods. So here's a picture of that. I'm going to go read or something... maybe even go the climbing gym. BECAUSE I CAN.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In which I-- OMG SKETCHES!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, I received the first round of sketches for the Blade's Edge cover today and I have to say, I wish had thousands of dollars lying around so that I could get all three of them made into covers, and posters, and other things that are large and can hang on walls for all the world to see because... HOLY CRAP THEY'RE AMAZING!

I didn't get much work done today because I was too excited about the mere prospect of the sketches arriving, and then, once they arrived, I was too excited about the images themselves and then too distraught over having to choose between them, to do anything.

So yeah today was a wash for revision, but, since I worked ALL WEEKEND, I'm going to let that slide. I have made a ton of progress and am starting to feel more confident that I might still make my own self imposed deadline. We shall see. I plan to get lots done tomorrow.

In other news: I did go for a run today, in addition to taking the dog for an extra long walk, so I feel reasonably accomplished in the "go play outside" aspect of my life.

Well, I'm going to go ahead and call it a night, all of the excitement of the day has worn me out and now that I've finally come to a decision of sorts about sketches I feel I can get some rest. For those who are dying to see them, I will post them if I can, but I forgot to ask the artist if it's ok for me to share them with the interwebs. In the meantime, did I post this picture of Artemis frolicking yet? She's a big fan of Fall.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Still trapped underneath my revision, just checking in...

Well folks, I just thought I'd post a quick update to let people know that I haven't actually suffocated beneath hundreds of pages of manuscript. It feels like that at times, but only figuratively.

Here's a quick update:

I finished all the prep work for the revision on Tuesday night at around 9:30pm. It took longer than I had hoped but I am very excited about the revision plan. This book is going to be so much better when I'm done with it that I'm starting to get embarrassed about the existence of the second draft on the internet. Oh well, what's done is done.

Yesterday I started the overwhelming endeavor of actually rewriting the novel. I have ten days to do it (well only nine now) in order to make all of my deadlines. Holy cow this is going to be intense. So many things are changing. If you've read the Jukepop serial you'll probably be surprised at just how different the two drafts are. It's little things like the name of the world and the different types of people in it, and much bigger things too (like the disappearance of most of part one and part two). Still, I got a lot done yesterday and will get more done today and every day until the 24th of this month. I will take it one page at a time, but I predict that there will be a number of 12 to 16 hour days in my future. That's ok. When all is said and done this book will rock, and I can relax a bit in November... Maybe.

I should be getting sketches for the cover art on the 20th. That makes me incredibly happy and a bit giddy. I really can't wait to see what Juan Carlos has come up with for this cover. I'll get more than one sketch and then choose a direction from there. It's honestly one of the most exciting parts of this whole process, to see what a visual artist does with your words... Squeeeeee!

And one other thing that makes me wan't to do a crazy happy dance: I will officially be having a book launch for Blade's Edge at McNally Robinson's on Friday January 23rd at 7pm in the Atrium. Mark your calendars. :-) More details coming soon.

Ok. I desperately need to get back to that whole revision thing. Days are going to be way longer than 16 hours if I spend them on things that aren't this revision. Here's a picture of Artemis enjoying a lovely fall walk yesterday:

(Walks count as revision time because a. I solve all of life's -and, more importantly, fiction's- problems while walking and b. exercise for me and the dog are always on the approved activities list.)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

In which I celebrate briefly and then disappear for a little while...

Wow, I can't believe I failed to do this yesterday. It's a solid example of how crazy Kickstarter has made everything.

Yesterday, at 10:53am local time (that's Winnipeg for anyone wondering) funding closed on my Kickstarter. With 92 backers we raised $4811 in 30 days! I'm still in shock, and apparently was too out of it yesterday to realize that I hadn't put any kind of celebratory announcement here on the blog.

So first of all, if you haven't had a chance to watch the Shameless Dance of Joy yet, you should do that. My dancing is awful, and silly, and totally made up on the spot, but it is full of joy and does a pretty good job of demonstrating how I feel about having the Kickstarter succeed.

So here's that:

And here's the video update from my Kickstarter updates page yesterday thanking everyone and including some other business:

And here's a picture of Artemis and I celebrating today by enjoying a nice walk in the woods:

I also celebrated last night by going to a reading at a bookstore and meeting some other Manitoba authors. That was fun. 

Even better, only a few hours after the Kickstarter closing out I went to a local bookstore called McNally Robinson (it's huge like Barnes and Noble, but is only a three branch chain - Winnipeg, Saskatoon and... New York City) to talk to their Events Coordinator. They're super supportive of local authors, independent and traditionally published alike, and I will be having a book launch event there in January. So keep your eye out for more details about that. 

And now, I am going to run away from internet for a week or two, because I need to get serious about this revision timeline I've set myself. Just to give you an idea of why this requires giving up the interwebs (and all other distractions) here's the schedule for publication:

Oct. 24th final revision done send to beta-readers
Oct. 29th receive beta-reader feedback
Nov. 1st - 3rd send final draft with beta-reader feedback incorporated to copy editor
Nov. 27th get final draft back from copy editor
Dec. 3rd finish formatting manuscript
Dec. 5th order proof copy of Blade's Edge
Dec. 10th approve proof copy
Dec. 15th order copies of the book to send to Kickstarter backers
Dec. 16th start working like mad to fulfill all the Kickstarter backer rewards 

Yeah, so that's the bare bones of the timeline, and only includes my end of things, not the cover art and design etc. But that's going to have to be all the details I give you for now, because I desperately need to get to work on this revision thing. And also on Kickstarter backer surveys....

So much to do! One step at a time. Deep breaths. 

See you all on the flip side! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shameless Dance of Joy!

Which was brought on by crossing the 100% mark for Kickstarter funding today. Check it out:

There's still time to meet our stretch goals if you're interested in ordering a copy of Blade's Edge (we have 17 hours left before funding closes and we're currently $1 shy of our first stretch goal):

I'm more thrilled than I can express easily right now. Too much gratitude to channel into words at the moment. Also, I need to go take the dog for a walk. Sending super positive thoughts at everyone else in the world. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Ins and Outs of Revision...

So, I promised a post about the details of the revision process for Blade's Edge and I won't fail you! Here's a video that I posted to my latest Kickstarter update that covers it in detail:

**WARNING** The following video is over 8 minutes long and is ENTIRELY about revision (ok the first 45 seconds or so talk about why I'm wearing a hat- but other than that...)! If you don't want to know a lot of details about the revision process for Blade's Edge - do NOT watch this video. You have been warned.

Speaking of the Kickstarter there are only 37 hours left to reach full funding. There are only $121 left to fully fund! If you've been toying with the idea of contributing now would be a great time, and no contribution is too low! (Seriously, if six people pre-order the book - and one person throws in a extra dollar- we're at the one hundred percent mark!)

That's all the updating/blogging I have time for today. So enjoy eight minutes of me rambling on about revision (or don't - I won't hold it against you). I'm off to bed!

In which revision eats my blog post...

Well, I'd apologize for not having more of an update today, but it's for a very good cause: I spent the time that I would have spent blogging on the prep work for the final revision of Blade's Edge. Between Saturday night during down time at my volunteer gig, and Sunday during the times that I wasn't writing college recommendations or feeding myself, and this morning when I wasn't busy drumming up Kickstarter backers or carefully preparing the information my cover artist needs to get to work on his sketches, I worked on prep for the final revision, and I'm now over a quarter of the way done with the prep work! Considering that was probably a total of 9 hours worth of work so far, that's a pretty good indicator that prep shouldn't take more than a week! Yay!

I have a nice big video to share with you guys about the revision process, but it's a bit long and I am on borrowed wifi at the mall, which isn't exactly speedy. So expect that as soon as my home wifi is restored... Not sure when that will be.

In Kickstarter news: We are 96% funded!!!!!! (Ok we're shy of 96% by a dollar, but I'm going to go ahead and count it)! Since Kickstarter has begun counting down the amount of time we have left in hours instead of days (were down to 42 hours for anyone wondering) it seems like great timing!

This morning the kickstarter haiku was:

Coffee fuels writing 
money produces my book 
forty eight hours left! 

For those unaware I've been writing at least one kickstarter haiku per day and posting it to twitter/facebook.

I think there was a time when I said I would post three Haiku a day til the end of the project. Then upon further reflection that seemed like it would be spammy. Now that we're down to counting time til the end of the campaign in hours I think I might reconsider my stance on that. If you see extra haiku in the next 42 hours... consider yourself warned.

On that note: does anyone else want to write some haiku for the project? Post them here for all of us to see! Or include @gwendamned in the tweet, or tag Virginia McClain in the facebook post. It would be fun to see what other people come up with. My haiku are pretty terrible and I would be happy to borrow someone else's. ;-)

Alright, I'm going to get back to revision work. Sorry this post is short. More soon!

Tatsu approves of Kickstarter Haiku!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Revisions, Kickstarter and Jukepop

Oh blog readers... I really really want to create some awesome original content for you this week, but my soul is being given over to the Kickstarter for the time being. So here is a link to the 9th update which includes a video of yours truly, some stats (we saw an over 25% jump from yesterday!) and some of the haiku that I've been writing for promotion.

Kickstarter update #9

Soon, very soon,  I will have awesomeness to tell you about my revision process.

In the meantime, you should also know that I finished the whole entire second revision (ie. the Jukepop Serial version) of Blade's Edge on Monday of last week. Here's the link to that video as well.

For now I am off to eat the lunch that I keep putting off, have a shower, and get ready to bike through the cold, rainy, wind to get to a volunteer gig I have tonight.

Here's a what the "office" looked like last week. Looking a lot drabber today. :-(

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo Support Squad

Today's post is a guest post over at the NaNoWriMo Support Squad. I talk about what it's like to participate in National Novel Writing Month, and the various outcomes that can be achieved. Mildly humorous, somewhat long winded... Check it out! :-)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Odds and Ends...

I suppose last week wasn't a great week to disappear from my blog, but I got buried under new chapters for Blade's Edge and trying to get the Kickstarter campaign to keep trucking.

Speaking of which, the Kickstarter is at 53% funded and only has 8 days to go. If we can get a couple more surges like we had at the beginning it should still be doable, but I really need your help! Please consider spreading the word on social media, in person to people who might enjoy the book, and anywhere else you can think of. (Here's the short link to help you spread the word: http://kck.st/1xyBEAC; here's a tweet all composed for you to use if twitter is your thing -or you could modify it for use on facebook etc.- "Female badasses overthrowing patriarchal asshattery + #indienovel. Supporting http://kck.st/1xyBEAC = officially sticking it to the man."

And, if you think you might enjoy the book yourself, please check it out here:

Also, Blade's Edge the webserial is still going strong at Jukepop Serials and has over 330 +votes for September so far putting it at #9 for the month. And it's up to #60 for all time rankings with 882 +votes. That's pretty exciting. A lot of new chapters have gone up over the past week, (chapter 42 went up last night) and the last two chapters will go up today and tomorrow, so if you haven't had a chance to catch up lately now would be an excellent time. The voting for September closes tomorrow night so now is a great time to read and plus vote and help keep Blade's Edge in the top 10!

Ok, so that's Blade's Edge for now.

There are two blog posts that I've had floating around in my head for a while and I can't decide which one to write about, or whether I should save them for later.

One is about why it's important to support independent authors, and the other is about the gripe that people have with YA.  For those not familiar with book category abbreviations YA stands for young adult. They both feel important to me at the moment because a. I'm an indie author and b. Blade's Edge is technically YA.

I say technically because I never wrote Blade's Edge intentionally as a YA novel. It never occurred to me that my target audience would be teenagers, and I'm not sure that it is. In fact, I didn't even realize it was YA until I was clicking the little boxes on Jukepop to categorize it and my husband looked over my shoulder and said, "You should check YA. Aren't the main characters under 18? Doesn't that make it YA?"

Does it?

To be honest, I'm not sure what makes a novel YA. Yeah, Taka and Mishi are both under 18 for the duration of the book, so I guess that makes it YA, but at no time have I decided to write the story differently than I would any other story. Are there people who won't read it because it's YA? Are there people who seek it out because it's YA? Are there special rules to the YA category that I don't know about and am constantly breaking?

I don't know the answer to any of those questions, except the first one. Yes. There are definitely people who will avoid reading the story because I ticked the box that says YA. Which bums me out a bit, to be honest, because I don't even know what YA means. There has been a lot of hype on the internet lately about YA as a category and why it's good/bad/indifferent. Here's an excellent blog post that clarifies what I'm talking about if you haven't had a chance to read any of this. (I hadn't been in on what was happening until late last week.)

Ultimately, the question I keep asking myself is this: if all that YA actually stands for is a target age group then why are we even talking about it? My guess is that many people think it means quite a bit more than that. In my case, it's not even a target age group, it just happens to be the age group of my main characters, and on the thought that teenagers might enjoy reading about characters their own age, I checked the YA box.

But Mishi and Taka are far from typical teenagers, so I don't even know if they're relatable as such.

I guess I kind of went ahead with the YA topic, didn't I?

Well, later this week perhaps I will tackle the supporting of indie authors (and artists in general) and in the meantime I leave you with this:

Fall is here and it's rather pretty.

Also, be advised that on Wednesday I will be guest blogging on the NaNoWriMo Support Squad. I will post the link here when it happens. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Where the Wild Things Are...

Yarrr! Felicitations on a minorly belated day o' talkin' like a pirate. Avast yer landlubbin' speak and join the ranks o' those o' us who talk like we're direct off a plastic ship in a Disney sea.

Ahem. The 19th was international talk like a pirate day, and even though it's after midnight I felt the need to mention it here. *Hangs head for moment of solemn piratey thought*

Moving on.

First off, only 18 days left to preorder a copy of Blade's Edge via my Kickstarter campaign! (Consequently making the publishing of the book possible!)

For those curious about stats (you know how much I love the numbers):

36 = the number of backers as of right now
1810 = the number of dollars raised so far
12 = the number of people I've never met before who have ordered a copy of the book (yay!)
3 = the number of short stories that have been commissioned through the project so far (so excited)
7 = the number of short stories left for people who want them!
19 = the number of early bird specials left to order to book
40 = the percent of total funding so far
18 = the number of days until the campaign ends :-(
2690 = the number of dollars left to raise in order to fund successfully
108 = the number of trade paperback copies that must sell in order to fund on copies of the book alone

Ever onward!!

In other news related to Blade's Edge, the serial itself is having a banner month over on Jukepop. Back on September 1st it was ranked #80 overall on the site and now it's ranked #66! Where Blade's Edge closed out last month with 147 +votes, it already has 188 +votes and we're only two thirds of the way through the month. Right now it's ranked #8 for the month of September. So cool!

Chapter 39 just went up a few hours ago, so be sure to check that out too!

In addition, there are only four chapters remaining in the story (possibly five if one of the chapters winds up splitting, but no more than that). Which means the serial (and consequently the second draft) is almost done! YAY!!

The third draft is going to be awesome, I can't wait to get started.

So, now we reach the bit that caused the title of this post. I did a silly thing the other day, I went where the trolls live and I made some noise...

It's been a long time since I have posted to a forum that was full of people who spend all of their time on the internet waiting to pounce on things other people say. A very, very long time.

An interesting thing about this Kickstarter campaign is reaching into the depths of my internet background and posting wherever I think it might generate even one single backer. For the most part, this has been a pleasant experience. Honestly, there aren't a lot of places on the web that I used to frequent but don't anymore, so mostly it has been a question of posting in communities in which I'm active and where people tend to play nice.

But Blade's Edge is a novel inspired by feudal Japan and I was in Japan when I wrote it, so I thought, "What the heck, I'll log back into some of the forums I used to check when I was going through the whole crazy process of getting to Japan and living there."

I had forgotten just how much time the people in those forums seem to have on their hands.

I knew my post would be lambasted the moment I left it. I even included the following in my original post just to show that I knew what was coming:  "Thanks! Post all questions, comments, hate mail, and trolling in the comments and I'll be sure to answer. "

And I did know what was coming, I just forgot how incredibly ridiculous it would be. The thread exploded in moments. People brought their trolling A-Game. Here are some screen shots of highlights:

First of all, here's my original post: (if you're having trouble reading you can click the pictures to make them larger)

So now let's look at some of the top responses. It's difficult to choose but I'll try to narrow it down.

Though, to be fair that was just a warning

Honestly, that was almost polite.

I'm sure that's a fairly accurate stastic

I like to think that one was in the spirit of sympathy

And of course no trollapalooza is complete without a Game of Thrones reference

There are lots more and plenty of them are funny, but this post is already huge and I think you get the idea. Plus most of the highlights I've left out so far involve lots of cursing. 

When you remind yourself that they do this to EVERYONE (yes, even and especially each other) it makes it a lot easier to simply laugh and move on. Really, you have to keep in mind that they would do this Stephen King if he showed up and said he was promoting a new book and wanted to give them each a signed copy.

I managed (barely) not to reply to any of the trolls and only focus on the ONE SINGLE PERSON replying in any legitimate way to my post. Granted, he wasn't trying to be nice, but he was asking legitimate questions and having a conversation. After a good hour of me and him exchanging questions and answers, and me not replying to a single troll, they all crawled back under their bridges and went back to sleep, or moved on to the next unwitting traveler.

Sigh... It might have been a lost cause in terms of generating any backers, but it did remind me of what a strange place the internet can be. Which I thought you all might appreciate.

I recommend it to all prospective authors though. It's excellent practice for thickening the skin towards negative reviews and the like.

Oh interwebs, you are a funny, funny place.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

This Whole Kickstarter Thing...

...is kind of surreal.

**Advisory: what follows is a detailed analysis of first: my more complicated reactions to the whole process of running a kickstarter campaign thus far and second: the math that my brain keeps running through against my will. If you want the quick take away it's this: life is awesome and I can barely believe how fortunate I am. Read on for wayyyyy more details about the ins and outs.**

This experience, one week in, is all over the place.

First of all there's the gratitude. Holy crap. People I know and love (who have already supported me in so many ways) are supporting me again monetarily to make a reality of a lifelong dream? People I've never met pre-ordering copies of the book to do the same? I'm overwhelmed with a feeling of fortune and thankfulness. The fact that we're at 30% funding at the end of week one amazes and humbles me.

Then there's the shame of feeling like I'm asking for money. It's tempered by the fact that the money is actually in exchange for goods and services, but only somewhat.  Part of me cringes, wondering how many people are just backing to be supportive and how many actually want to read the book. All of me is grateful for the support either way. This is, after all, an excellent example of how to support your author friends even if you don't read their genre. Still, this kind of asking is uncomfortable at best.

Then there's the worrying about whether I'm posting too many updates about this kickstarter on social media, or not enough. The fine line between maximizing visibility with people who might actually want to back it, but haven't seen it yet, and spamming the people who aren't interested or have already helped. Yargh...

Then there's the euphoria of watching the first two days of funding skyrocket! And the slow drop to reality (or a slightly more comfortable euphoria) of watching the funding plateau with very small rises.

Then there's the constant numbers game playing in my head. In the first two days we reached 24% funding. If that rate had continued for the entire kickstarter we would reach $16,200 by the end of the 30 day campaign. More realistically, here at the end of week one we are 30% funded. That rate carried out over four weeks takes us to 120% funding or $5,400. Then the pessimistic numbers... If you don't count those first two days, the last five days showed only a 6% increase in funding, and if you take that over the rest of the project you get: $2,610 (and that includes what's already raised).

I hate thinking about it in these terms when I'd rather just think of it in terms of the amazing support I've already gotten, but unfortunately Kickstarter is an all or nothing affair and so my brain can't help but contemplate the chances of failing to reach the $4,500 set goal. (In case you're worried, if I don't meet my goal your money is simply refunded back to you, and it all happens automatically.)

I try not freak out worrying that without another surge of backing the project won't make it to the fully funded mark.

Instead of focusing on those numbers I stick to doing a happy dance every time someone backs the project or likes a post about the kickstarter or +votes Blade's Edge on Jukepop.

And there's a happy benefit or possibly just a coincidence of this project... Blade's Edge has gained a few readers on Jukepop, and some of its previous readers have decided to catch up and plus vote again, so it has been getting a LOT of plus votes this month. It already has as many as it closed the month out with in August, and it is currently riding at #7 for September and #71 overall. That is SO awesome! It is the highest Blade's Edge has ever gotten at the middle of the month, and its held there for a couple of days so far. So, that's really exciting.

It's also really exciting to be getting so close to the end of this draft of Blade's Edge. It's only a few chapters away and will be all wrapped up by the end of September. October will then be dedicated entirely to a full length revision that leads to a proto-final draft (true final draft of course requiring beta readers, copyediting etc.). November will be copyediting and formatting and then we should be ready to print by mid-December.  All of that is extremely exciting.

In summary, the kickstarter is off to a great start, but still has a long way to go. We've raised $1,350 so far but that leaves $3,150 to go. Here's more of the math I find myself doing at random: to fully fund what's left of the kickstarter with just the $25 copy of the book (including the remaining 20 early bird specials that are only $20) I need 130 more people to back the project.

That doesn't seem like an unreasonable number, and with the percentage of people pledging at higher levels so far it may be take way fewer people than that. The whole thing is a guessing game and from everything I've read on various forums, in various articles, and from other people who have done this themselves, it's entirely unpredictable. Remember how I said it feels like I'm in a giant social experiment? Well it's seems quite likely that I am actually in a giant social experiment. Only it's early stages yet and there are many hypotheses as to how it could go.

Crowdfunding is certainly an interesting phenomenon and I am learning TONS through this whole process.

So... I've got more Blade's Edge chapters to write, a kickstarter backer update to get ready, and some of my regular life to lead as well. I should probably say hi to my husband while I'm away from the laptop.

Again, important takeaway? I cannot express easily how fortunate I feel with all of this, and my life in general. I am so very, very, lucky, no matter how this Kickstarter thing turns out. So, hugs all around. And I hope everyone had a great weekend! My mom visited over the weekend and I have some awesome tidbits to share on this site over the next few posts thanks to that. For now, I leave you with this meme I created a few days ago with Artemis' help.

(If this makes no sense to you at all, google 'doge meme' and be mildly amused.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Interviews with Indie Authors: Hugh Howey

Well, folks. Today is the day. It's been difficult to keep this interview to myself since last week, because it is very entertaining and I have high hopes that you all will enjoy it thoroughly. I would have posted it sooner, but I was desperately getting my Kickstarter campaign for Blade's Edge together as the launch was Monday. But, now that we're up and running with that, it's time to share this little piece of awesome with the rest of the world.

For those who are unfamiliar with Hugh Howey here's a bit of background: Hugh Howey is a very well known author. He is best known for his Silo Saga and for being one of the most successful independent authors in existence. For those of us who are wading into the self publishing waters he's not only the poster child we all wish to be like, he's also an excellent resource for information on how it's done and how publishing is changing. Here's some info from his about the author page
My first stories detail the life of a character that I’ve been mulling over for quite some time. Her name is Molly Fyde, and she draws inspiration from the awesome women in my life. 
My Wool series became a sudden success in the Fall of 2011. Originally just a novelette, the demand from Amazon reviewers sent me scurrying to write more tales in this subterranean world. The resulting Omnibus has spent considerable time in the Amazon top 100, has been a #1 Bestseller in Science Fiction on Amazon, and was optioned by Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian for a potential feature film. The story of its success has been mentioned in Entertainment Weekly, Variety, and Deadline Hollywood among many others. Random House is publishing the hardback version in the UK in January of 2013. 
When I’m not writing, I like to go for hikes with my family, take a stroll on the beach, and keep up with my reading. I currently live in Jupiter, Florida with my wife Amber and our dog Bella.

Here's what he looks like: 

And here's what I think of his work (please note that Mr. Howey's body of work is much greater than just the Silo Saga, I just haven't read it all yet): The Silo Saga may be one of my all time favorite series. I found the plots engaging, creative and intelligent. I found the characters vivid and compelling. I found the ending satisfying and appropriate. The whole thing was well done from start to finish. A summary? Inside is safe, it's organized, everyone has their place, everyone has enough. Outside? Outside is where you are sent for the worst possible crimes. Crimes that tear up the community and leave holes. Crimes like wanting to go outside. 

Unfortunately, it's one of those books with a plot so compelling and complex that it's difficult to explain and avoid spoilers and I do NOT want to spoil these books for anyone. So, go get them! Read them! And then come back and read this interview. For those who don't have the time or inclination to follow such sound advice, I will include <@> to mark all spoilers at the front of a question whose answer might contain one -or even just a tiny hint of one. 

Finally, before we start the interview I want to mention that Hugh Howey has some really great advice for aspiring and established indie authors alike. His articles tend to be humorous as well as informative. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Discoverability and Donald Rumsfeld (this one contains one of my all time favorite writing quotes: "Don’t be miserable. Be happy. And nice. And work hard. And get discovered. How, exactly? I have no fucking clue.")

And here's a link to his analytics on indie and traditional publishing sales: authorearnings.com

I mention all of these because many of you may be tuning in to this interview in hopes of getting some self publishing gems out of it. I tried to limit my questions to things that aren't covered in those articles so there may not be as many of those here as you wanted, but it's well worth your time to read Mr. Howey's posts.

Alright. Without further ado, (because that was quite enough wasn't it?) I give you: An interview with Hugh Howey (standard warning about me asking silly questions and getting silly answers applies):

1. I've read that you spent some of your early days swashing a buckle or two. I was surprised to find that we have this in common. What's your favorite anecdote form the sea?

Man, it's hard to pick just one. The craziest thing that ever happened to me was the time I left Cuba heading for Panama, and we hit really rough seas. I told my first mate that we'd be screwed if we lost our sat phone, watermaker, genset, and main engine. And then over the next twenty-four hours, we lost them in that exact order. I still suspect he sabotaged them just to mess with my head. We ended up on a small island in the middle of nowhere, a little spit of paradise, where we spent the happiest two months of my life. So it all worked out.

2. If you could send one non-human animal on a mission to mars which would it be and why?

My dog, Bella. I'd be so proud of her!

Ok, getting into the Silo Saga: (if any of the answers to these questions reveal spoilers I will be sure to mark them clearly)

3a. The story feels very character driven, which is something I really enjoy, and you write very vivid, believable characters. By the end of the books it feels like everyone is real and we know them all quite well. How do you accomplish that? (In a nutshell, cause you know, that's not a huge question or anything. ;-P)

I think it helps to be crazy. I had an imaginary friend when I was very young. I've always been good at hearing different voices chat back and forth in my head. You either get locked up for this, or you make a fortune as an author. I lucked out.

3b. Are any of your characters for Silo based on particular people?

Not really. My characters are mash-ups of all the people I've encountered in real life and in fiction (both in print and in other forms of media, like TV and film). Honestly, they appear out of nowhere, fully-formed, like strangers emerging from a crowd. I instantly know their background, their fears, their dreams, what their family is like, all of that.

<@> 4. Of all the characters in the books Thurman is perhaps the most enigmatic. We never get to read from his point of view. Why is that? Was it a conscious choice or just the way the story developed?

It was very conscious. Thurman is the engine behind so much of what befalls humanity. I didn't want to define him too strongly, because I hope readers will see the potential of him everywhere. He's scarier in his potential than he is in his reality. There are so many Thurman's out there, especially in politics.

<@> 5. In the Silo books we start with a very small world view, and as the stories continue that view gets wider and wider. Did you do your world building in reverse? Did it happen that way because it started as a self contained novella or was the world already there in your head and we just got to see more of it as the story continued?

The latter. I have to know more about my world than what I reveal. I heard Jim Butcher refer to this last weekend as world-building like an "iceberg." The reader only sees the very tip. You have to know all that lies beneath. Even if you never show it.

6. Machinery comes to life in your stories and a number of characters have a very important and believable relationship with machines. Why is this? Does it come from personal experience or is it solely an experiment in imagination?

Definitely from personal experience. I grew up around a lot of machinery. My father was a farmer. Later, I got into computers and repaired them for a living. I still build my own. When I started working on yachts, I was responsible for keeping everything up and running. So it's a big part of my life and always has been.

7. If Jules could come join us right now in... let's say New York City... what things would she find the most hopeful, and what things would she find the most horrifying?

She would LOVE elevators. And I think Times Square would terrify her. All those bulbs that need replacing, and all those screens not to trust.

Ok. Back to you, and to independent authors...

8. If you could give a single-sentence piece of advice to every author who is considering self publishing what would you tell them?

There's no reason not to; the stigma is rapidly vanishing; self-publishing will not harm your career, it'll only help launch it—and all things are possible with semi-colons and em-dashes.

9. Let's fast forward 10 years into the future, where do you imagine the publishing industry? (Emphasis on imagine.)

I imagine it on the west coast rather than the east coast. This is almost already true. Technology companies will be our primary publishers: Google, Apple, and Amazon. New York will be down to three major publishers. Barnes & Noble will be out of business, but some other chain will take their place and feature print-on-demand machines and smaller footprints. Book reading overall will be in decline, as more people spend their hours reading on the web. And libraries will be places for writing as much as reading, as they embrace self-publishing and become joints for writing groups, author discussions, and book launches.

10. As a person who cannot honestly identify a place that is home, I find it to be an interesting question to ask others. Do you have a place that is home? If so, where is it and what makes it home?

The sea is home for me. I feel lost everywhere except when I'm on a beach or on the deck of a ship.

11. What's your favorite writing space and why?

My favorite writing space was the conference room in my old bookstore. With the lights off, it was pitch-black in there. I did my best writing in that spot.

12. What is your least favorite form of social media and why? (Please don't say blogs... please don't say blogs... please don't say--)

Facebook. It's the one that sucks up most of my time. I am addicted to checking it, and it's been great for keeping up with friends, family, and fans. But I wish it would come on for an hour every day and then switch back off.

13. If it were legal to own a liger how many ligers would you own?


14. Should one go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line? Why/why not?

Absolutely. But only if you've developed a resistance to iocane. Which I have.

15. Please use the word inconceivable in a sentence.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

16. What book that you've read do you wish you'd written and why?

BATTLEFIELD EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard. The book is pure genius. And if I'd written it, I never would have let that movie get made.

17. What is one fact that no one knows about you? (Or almost no one anyway, we don't need the GPS coordinates of all the bodies you dumped in the Caribbean.)

I'm a crack pool player. I can clear a rack in 8-ball. That's something that doesn't come up much.

18. Who is your favorite visual artist and why?

MC Escher. My mom was a math teacher, and I became both a math geek and a fine artist in high school. Escher was the perfect blend of both.

19. What fuels your writing?

My curiosity and my thirst for knowledge. I read a ton. I read the paper every day, and I consume books like they're chocolate chip cookies and I'm the Cookie Monster. I have so much coming in that I have to have an outlet to release it all.

20. Please complete following analogy: Self Publishing is to Traditional Publishing as __________ is to _____________ . (Can you tell that I used to teach SAT prep classes?)

Expedia is to Travel Agencies.

21. You seem to have a number of new projects on the go, what are you most excited about and why?

Right now it's my children's picture book. Oh my goodness, it looks so amazing. I can't believe how this thing came together. It comes out on November 18th. It's called MISTY: THE PROUD CLOUD. And I just love it.

22. You have provided some incredibly helpful insight into publishing statistics through amazon and other websites. These analytics have been very influential in a number of authors' decisions to self publish (including my own). What made you decide to pursue this information?

I wrestled with the decision whether or not to self-publish. I had a publisher at the time, and the first book with them was going very well, but I saw the future trending a certain way, and I made the leap. It was a blind leap. The more I can help paint a picture of what's over here, the more I can possibly help people feel secure with their decision, whichever way they go.

23. Who is your favorite character from Firefly? Why?

What's "Firefly?" Is that a book?

(I'm not sure if Mr. Howey is mocking me, or really isn't familiar with the amazingness that is the show Firefly -created by Joss Whedon, but after his excellent answers to all the Princess Bride related questions I'm willing to forgive him either way.)

24. The ending to the Silo Saga is one of the best endings I've ever encountered. It's rare that I find an ending so... balanced. I don't want to give anything about that ending away, or even talk about the Silo ending specifically, but I'd like to raise the question in general: How specially do you tend to your endings and what are your all time favorite endings in works that aren't your own? (That might have been two questions disguised as one... oops.)

I have to know the ending before I write very much in a story. I need a destination, one that makes sense and is satisfying. So I really start there, and then I go back and play with how the world and those characters ended up there. To me, one of the best endings in any novel was ENDER'S GAME. Just so many twists and turns in the last fifty pages, all of which were consistent and made perfect sense.

25. And finally, and most importantly, do you celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th) and how will you be celebrating it this year? (Because obviously, if you didn't know about it before, you do now, and therefore have no reason not to.)


Well, I can't argue with that. 

So, there you have it folks. I don't know about you but I found that highly enjoyable, I'm kicking myself for not having arranged for an in person interview because I have a feeling the follow up questions, and more importantly their answers, would have been amazing. Alas, this is a blog, and blog interviews is what we do here. 

I don't know about you, but I'm going to go buy some more of Hugh Howey's work because anyone who thinks they can handle six ligers as pets must be crazy enough to write well. And yes, that's a prerequisite. 

**Special thanks to Aurora Wilson-McClain for helping me hone my questions regarding the Silo Saga**