2017 – A Year in Review

This has been quite a year for me. For all of my followers, I hope you have enjoyed reading my posts, and have gotten some useful and insightful tidbits from this blog. And I hope you continue to read, because in 2018 I plan to delve deeper into all things writerly, both for myself and to share with my fans and followers.

2017 has been a busy year for me, full of learning experiences, dreams being realized, and unexpected blessings. Here’s a quick rundown of my year:

  • In the spring, I left the only home I’d ever known (central Virginia) and moved across the country to the inland northwest (north Idaho). I had no job or place to live lined up, but my sister and her family had moved out there the year before, and I was ready for a change. So I packed up my cat and my books in a U-Haul (don’t panic – the cat rode in the car, not the trailer) and drove across the country.
  • Just a few short months later, I’m living in a little cottage built in 1929, surrounded by fruit trees and mountain views. My town has one traffic light, no McDonald’s, and no movie theater. Most of my neighbors have chickens, and it’s not uncommon to see someone riding a horse through downtown. It’s a border town, so I see as many Montana and British Columbia license plates as I do Idaho plates. My town does have a library and a used book store, though, so there’s that.
  • I’ve met so many new writers this year, both in real life and online. There’s a pretty vibrant writing/artistic community in my area. And Twitter is a wonderful platform for connecting with writers from all over.
  • I published three books this year. They’re all short (a novella and two short stories), but hey, it still makes me an officially published author.
  • I’ve been delving into dieselpunk this year, and learning more and more about all the different nuances of this “punk” sub-genre of science fiction or historical fantasy. I’m learning that there’s a niche for every interest, and a market (even if it’s a small one) for every niche. If you’re not sure who your target audience is for your books, or what to call the kind of books that you’re writing, then keep searching and keep reaching out. You’ll find your people.
  • I had a white Christmas for the first time in forever. I think I experienced a white Christmas perhaps twice my whole life in Virginia. I’m a big lover of snow, and an even bigger lover of Christmas and all things holiday, so having two feet of white powder on Christmas was pretty much a dream come true.

I hope every one of you had some good experiences in 2017. Whether 2017 was your best year or not, find something to be thankful, something you can learn from, and set your goals and dreams for the upcoming year.

Onward to 2018!

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Magic versus Technology: Setting the Rules for Your Fictional World

Today the terms “fantasy” and “science fiction” are becoming broad, catch-all terms that encompass a wide range of sub-genres. Most people don’t just write fantasy, they write urban paranormal romance or YA epic fantasy. The same with science fiction: there’s everything from space fantasy to steampunk to retro-futurism. This is a good thing, because the person who likes fairytale retellings with a dark urban flair may not be a fan of epic high fantasy. There’s room for all of the sci-fi, fantasy, and speculative sub-genres, and all their mash-ups and cross-overs, too.

But even with all of the genre-crossing, I believe it’s still important to define whether your world is magic-based or technology-based.

This does not mean that anything with magic is automatically fantasy, nor does it mean that anything with technology more advanced than the steam engine is science-fiction. I believe the distinction lies is how the world of the story is governed. More to the point, it’s how you as the writer establish the rules of your world. A magic-based versus technology-based world has more to do with the culture of the characters and how they interact with world around them, and less to do with whether the characters wave magic wands or fly around in space ships. Continue reading

Retrofuturism, Historical Fantasy, and Dieselpunk Tech

 As you may know, I’m currently writing a historical fantasy series. It’s set in the 1920s, and the title character Mrs. Jones has assorted adventures; magic, a touch of the paranormal, and a lot of “futuristic” retro-technology are key elements in her world.

I wrote a post last year giving some tips on how to write convincing technobabble for science fiction stories. This blog post is in a similar vein – but it’s for writing “historical technobabble.”

“Retro-futurism” is technology or other sci-fi elements that might have existed in the past, but didn’t. And so, to offer some tips on how to write retro-futurism or historical sci-fi, I’m sending you over to a guest post I wrote on The Old Shelter blog.

Read on to find out all about Retrofuturism and Dieselpunk: How they Work in a 1920s Setting!

Why I’m Writing Short Stories Instead of Novels

I’ve always considered myself a novelist. I love long involved stories, the more epic the better. As a kid I loved The Chronicles of Narnia, then I read The Lord of the Rings and others (The Silmarillion, etc.) I love a thick novel with a thick plot (like The Historian), and my favorite TV show is the sprawling sci-fi epic Babylon 5.

And so, I began writing what I loved reading. In middle school I had an epic fantasy series that I wrote on for several years (I’d planned to make it a seven book series, and wrote first drafts of about two and a half books). When I first started this blog a few years ago, I was working on an epic fantasy trilogy inspired by the folktales of Finland.

While I have not given up on either fantasy series, both have been temporarily shelved and I’ve started writing short fiction. Because of my love of long epic stories, I never thought of myself as a short story writer. Continue reading

Another Roaring 20s Dieselpunk Adventure!

A few months ago I released a short story to launch my new ongoing dieselpunk series. You can find that first story, Mrs. Jones and the Midas Train, on Amazon and Smashwords.

And now it’s time to announce the second story in the series, Mrs. Jones and the Watchmaker’s Ghost! If you haven’t read the first one, you can still read this new one first. The stories in the Mrs. Jones series are all stand-alone shorts. So what are you waiting for?

Mrs. Jones, ghost hunter.

A dead man comes to the door, asking for help. He was murdered with a magic spell, and fears that his murderer will kill again. Cornelia Jones goes in search of the killer and his magic, and finds herself dealing with a madman who cannot die. Can she dispatch the ghosts before she becomes one herself?

 

 

Available on Amazon

New Dieselpunk Story!

After several (mostly self-imposed) delays, my first dieselpunk short story is now available! You can find it here!

This story launches a new series of short stories, starring the enigmatic Roaring 20s heroine Cornelia Jones. If you like historical fiction, historical fantasy, pulp adventure, or even steampunk, then I think you’ll like the adventures of Mrs. Jones!