New Stories About Old Friends: for those who don't know, I continue to write short stories and novelettes about the characters of my old Del Rey fantasy serieses. These are available on Smashwords (smashwords.com) and on Amazon Kindle Direct. Most are $4.99. Smashwords supports all the major platforms (epub, kobo, mobi, pdf, etc), and I believe markets to sites for Nook, ePub, etc. Kindle Direct is - well, for Kindle.
So far, there are 5 Antryg and Joanna novelettes, 3 tales about Sun Wolf and Starhawk, 4 stories about Benjamin January (actually, two of these are about what Rose does while Ben is out of town), 2 each concerning John and Jenny in the Winterlands, and the gang at the Keep of Dare. Also available are the 4 stories that I wrote, over the years, for Sherlock Holmes anthologies, two of which are fantasy and two of which are "straight" Holmes stories: two are narrated by Watson, two by Mrs. Watson. Lastly, there is the vampire-on-the-Titanic novelette, "Sunrise on Running Water," in which Don Simon Ysidro from my vampire series has a very brief cameo (he has FAR too much sense to be on the Titanic himself).
I used to sell these stories on my personal website - I no longer do.
But, I will continue to write new stories about old friends, and post them on Smashwords and Kindle Direct (and announce them on LJ and FB... Twitter just makes me crazy).
Whew! I am pretty much all moved in to my new place. When I moved to my house by LAX 30+ years ago, I had friends all over LA, and those friends who lived in the San Fernando Valley, I could reach - on a good day - in 20 minutes. Over the years the situation has changed. All my dearest friends now live in the Valley, and it was taking 45-60 minutes to reach them. (When I first went to work at Pierce College I could get there in 30 minutes. Now... not so much.) And, the old house was literally falling apart. It needed to be re-piped, re-wired, needed kitchen and bathroom remodels if I was going to continue to live there. But every house on the street for the past five years, when they've sold, were simply torn down and replaced with these immense McMansions. I couldn't see pumping $100,000 that I didn't have into something that was just going to be torn down. So, in May I sold my house (to an Investment Company, as a tear-down), and bought a slightly smaller, slightly newer one in the Valley that DIDN'T need to be re-piped or re-wired and already HAD a new, lovely, remodeled FRAKKING IMMENSE kitchen. Yes, it's hot as hell's hinges, but the house has an A/C plant the size of an apartment building. I donated literally a ton of books to the California prison library system, got rid of about half my Stuff (filling 4 construction-sized dumpsters in the process and about 6 pickup-truck-loads of stuff for the Goodwill), and the garage here is STILL packed to the ceiling with books, mostly publisher copies of my stuff and George's stuff. So it's been a very stressful and tiring spring. (I also injured myself in the moving process, so I had to work around that). I'll be very glad when every day doesn't involve something being inspected, installed, or repaired. We're coming to the end of that cycle, I hope, this week. That's the explanation of why I've been even more dilatory than usual about posting. I'm happy with the new place. The old house can regenerate and go on to someone new. I'm already behind on the next book, but am able now to start work again. I will keep you all posted. Thank you for your patience.
Celebrated the completion of the heavy-work second draft of the January book by going to the Huntington Library with a friend this morning - long walk through the Rose Garden (everything snipped off short for the winter), the Japanese Garden (koi the size of submarines gliding through the ponds), the gorgeous Chinese Garden, and the cactus garden (plants which not only obviously come from another planet, but which I've SEEN assaulting Lady Scientists in '50s s-f films). Tea in the English Tea-Room.
And the acquisition of a new cat, a "dilute" Siamese named Yuki who looks like a sepia ink-wash sketch with Paul-Newman-blue eyes. We'll see how this works out with the other three; fingers crossed. Since the received widsom is to leave him in isolation from the other cats and introduce them slowly, I'm in for a night of listening to him crying in his prison in the upstairs bathroom (with a plushy little bed, dishes of dinner, infinite quantities of toilet paper to amuse him, and a little heating-pad because it gets frakkin' cold up there).
I'll give the manuscript a day or to to cool down before I go back to it. LOTS of work yet to do.
Cold Bayou scored a VERY nice review by the Historical Novel Society. https://historicalnovelsociety.org/…/cold-bayou-a-benjamin…/ And yes, the observation that it's maybe a tad too intricate - and the family relationships are a bit too tangled to easily follow - is entirely justified... though in fact a) I've never met anybody whose family connections WEREN'T intricately tangled and b) that's actually part of the point. That in Creole families, relationships WERE tangled, and familly get-togethers were complicated even when they DIDN'T involve murder and property-claims. But the fellow is in fact right, and I'll have to watch out for that in future work. (Too much Dickens...)
Classes start a week from today. Last semester - and hopefully for the forseeable future - only one class: this semester (and next Fall) it's History 2, Protestant Reformation to the Present, mostly in Europe and America. I'm all set up to go.
And, Feb 15-17, I'll be at the Gallifrey One Dr. Who convention at the LAX Marriott. I'm on a couple of panels, and will be showing (and selling prints of) art in the Art Show. (I occasionally think of marketing it on-line, but have no desire to get a cease-and-desist letter from the legal department of the BBC).
I am ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIED that it has been a year since I have posted. I am so sorry. It has been a difficult year.
Since my illness in 2015-2017 I find I tire a lot more quickly - I've cut down to teaching one class per semester, but other things in my life have prevented this from buying me any more time to actually work. Please believe that I'm doing the best I can, and that I prioritize writing over coming onto LiveJournal. (And because of other events I've become a little paranoid about what I post on FaceBook as well).
The situation doesn't seem to have changed much since my last post: it is still raining like a car-wash here, and I'm still struggling to finish up the rough draft of a book (Ben January # 18 - working title, Lady of Perdition) before I have to be back in the classroom two weeks from last Monday. With luck I'll bring it in for a landing within the next week. Second draft will be easier - and that's the fun draft - and I'll be able to polish in between teaching. The book I was working on last year at this time - Prisoner of Midnight - should be out soon; I'll have more news about that when it appears.
I continue to paint - which I have found helps my writing. I continue to practice martial arts (sword and bo). One weekend per month I go out and stay with my Mom, so my brother (who lives with her) can have a break. With my old cat Rocky's passing (she was 21) the others have become more clingy, though I think it's just competition for lap-time. I continue to write for the Further Adventures, and I thank those of you who've been following these.
Thank you all for your patience. I will try to do better.
Yesterday and the night before it rained like a car-wash. Very nice for a writer who gets to stay indoors, at least until classes start up again.
I'm at the point in First Draft (of the next vampire book) where I have to sit down and organize my Guest Cast, which means finding names for even fairly minor characters so I won't get hung up when I need them. This is always fun, because I'm also figuring out who the villain is, who are the red herrings, what's the name of the villain's wife's maid (or, is the villain actually the WIFE, and in which case how much does her poor spouse know about what's going on?) This is AFTER I've figured out the big technical things like, COULD an ocean liner be attacked by German submarines a day or two from landing in New York? (Yes, after March of 1917).
I have a book called, Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary, (I think I've mentioned this before) which contains all sorts of obsolete and archaic words, like pantarbe (a mythical stone which supposedly attracts gold magnetically) and forslack (to hinder by laziness). A lot of these sound like names. Thus, the maidservant gets called Miss Malkin (a dish-mop) and Don Simon's rather thick-headed henchman is Captain Palfrey (a mild-mannered riding-horse). I have a book of seventeenth-and-eighteenth-century French slang which I can use for the same purpose. There is also, of course, People's Names, by Ingraham - names of every ethnicity and culture including Native American and Tibetan, with sections on ancient Babylon and Classical Greece and Rome. (The Rome section is a doozy!).
Georgette Heyer used to name characters after towns and villages in England, which I've done also. A World Atlas is a fount of possibilities.
Lately I've also used a wonderful website called Fantasy Name Generators, which spews forth TONS of likely-sounding names: Cajun, Ibo, Tahitian, Phoenician... suggested tavern-names and place-names... Some of these I'll use as they appear, others I'll tinker with for something that sounds right.
I start back teaching Feb. 5, so I'm getting as far forward as I can. First Draft is always a bitch.
I love those parties when, an hour after the guests have HELPED ME WASH UP before departure, the house looks as if nothing whatsoever has happened there. A beautiful Christmas Day with my family, concluded by quietly watching TV with the cat on my lap.
This morning I celebrated the true beginning of my Rest Period (prepping for Christmas luncheon, above, made the preceding week not count) by clearing mass quantities of accumulated shit out of my study - "rest" in my case meaning, "get as much done on the rough draft of the next vampire book as you possibly can before teaching starts again." The cats are freaked and grieved, since a) cats hate change and b) some of those junk-piles had become favored napping-places. I have regretfully come to the conclusion that the Really Big CHair will have to be cut up with a chainsaw and carried out of the room in pieces (as my friend Hazel had to do with George's desk). Unearthed piles of old photographs, and a staggering quantity of very old store credit cards which will have to be chopped up into little pieces in spite of the fact that most of the places they're for don't exist anymore - does ANYBODY have a Spiegel's card at this late date?
Five weeks off - to get started on the next vampire book, to paint pictures, to spend time with my friends. To rest. Turned in grades today, spent the rest of the day doing "prep" cleaning in the study (digging out material of the last two books; unearthing tons of old photos); setting up for the Family Christmas Monday.
It's chilly here so the cats are overwhelmingly affectionate.