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Conventions and shows in 2015

I’m actually attending enough shows this year that it’s worth making a post about! Here’s where I will be in 2015:

Sept. 26 & 27, 11am-8pm
Egan Convention Center, Anchorage, AK

UWA Women’s Bazaar
Nov. 7 & 8, 10am-4pm
Pioneer Park Centennial Center for the Arts, Fairbanks, AK

At the UWA show I will be sharing a table with Ellen Million of Ellen Million Graphics.

If Pop-Con is happening again this year (comics & pop culture convention at UAF) I will definitely be there unless it conflicts with something else! I believe it was around Nov. 15-16 in 2014.

Nothing is scheduled yet in 2016. Now that Kismet is updating regularly again, I’d like to start doing a show or two a year outside Alaska, but that’s obviously contingent upon being able to make travel plans.

Dragon space librarian

This is for Chuck Wendig’s character creation flashfic challenge. Anyone can participate — rules are at the link. Post your description of a character, link to it at Chuck’s blog, and next week people will pick from the communal character pool and play with them!

Key: the dragon space librarian

Key is a dragon who hoards knowledge. She [or perhaps he, or it, or they] dwells in a hollowed-out asteroid, networked with tunnels — spacious, well-lit, and warm, with lamplit reading nooks every so often — that are filled with books. Key has a copy of every physical book, from Earth and a thousand other worlds, that she can get her claws on. But there is more than that: the station houses a computer at its heart that has what Key claims is a repository of all knowledge from the entire span of recorded history.

This is clearly an exaggeration.

Still, if you are looking for a piece of information that can be found nowhere else in the galaxy, Key’s Library is the best place to go — making it a mecca for the desperate, the lost, the seekers of knowledge … and of course a certain number of bounty hunters and their ilk. You will be welcomed, and fed, and given access to the library for as long as you like.

Key loves talking to visitors.

But in order to leave, you must give her a book she doesn’t already have, or a piece of information that is not in the computer. If not, well …

(Whether the outcome of not being able to do this is “… and then she eats them” or “… and then they stay as part of her staff of space librarians and help a space dragon curate an asteroid full of books” is left up to the individual writer.)

This week’s creative updates

I have a new book out as Lauren Esker, Handcuffed to the Bear. It’s been added to my books page. (Hopefully Amazon will have the “Look Inside!” working soon. At least it’s not just me; it looks like things are laggier than usual right now.) It’s tropey F/M romance, this time on the general theme of “handcuffed together and hunted in the wilderness”. With extra bonus ensemble action.

I’m planning to put together a print version of the first 68 pages of Sun-Cutter for Senshi-Con in September. I worked on the cover today – process photos are posted at the Kismetcity tumblr and also on my Patreon.

SOMEONE WHO SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS challenged me to write a submission for this anthology (the werefolk one, not the alien artifacts one, though both sound fascinating). SOMEONE ELSE WHO SHALL ALSO REMAIN NAMELESS pointed me toward this one.  (I have the worst friends. And by worst I mean best.) I’m somewhat snowed under, but hoping to manage a submission to at least one of these!

And speaking of things I don’t have time to write, I think this week’s flashfic challenge at Chuck Wendig’s blog sounds marvelous — this week, create a character and sketch them out in 250 words or less. Next week, all these characters will be up for grabs for people to write about. This kind of collaborative fiction-writing totally sounds like my jam. In fact, I might work on something for that tonight …

Introducing Lauren Esker


I have a new alias! I will be writing het (F/M) romance as Lauren Esker.

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing – Can the big bad wolf and a sheep shifter have a happy ending? Curvy farm girl Julie Capshaw was always warned away from the wolf shifters next door, but Damon Wolfe is the motorcycle-riding, smoking hot alpha wolf of her dreams.

Lauren’s books will be mostly paranormal romance and romantic suspense.

Evening walk

This evening we hiked up our hill in a direction we’d never been before to investigate a large and suspiciously square clearing that Orion found on Google Earth (we’ve lived here 11 years and we’re still finding new things!). We did eventually find it, though it’s so overgrown that it was very difficult to determine its age or, most of all, WHY someone cleared a bunch of trees in a large square block in the middle of nowhere, with no apparent roads going to it. Thwarted homesteader perhaps? Lost pioneers? We found some stumps that we were pretty sure were cut with an axe; if so, this area was cleared a century ago! Fairbanks’s dry climate and slow-growing trees are excellent at preserving old wood. There is, however, no sign of occupation: collapsing cabins, old vehicles, etc.

We decided, eventually, that this was probably a woodcutting area for the early-1900s gold-mining operation in the valley. In an area that’s mostly scraggly swamp spruce, this particular small ridge seems to support large birch trees, many of which are now growing in clusters as if growing up from old birch stumps. Our theory is that the turn-of-the-century miners would climb the hill to cut wood (with hand tools!) and then skid the logs down the hill to the valley where they used them for firewood or construction.

SDC15588 Most of the walk up to the clearing is through black spruce forest with a dense carpet of moss underneath. We came upon this fungus-encrusted fallen spruce log and I thought it was neat enough to take a picture of it.

SDC15591 As we wandered around the clearing, we found ourselves conducting tree-stump CSI. This looks like old axe marks to us.

More photos under the cut.

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Healer’s Daughter [Absolute Write March blog chain]

This month’s theme for the Absolute Write blog chain is “St. Patrick’s Day and/or anything Irish”. Archaeology buff that I am, I decided to go into the distant past.

The Céide Fields are an archaeological site in the north part of County Mayo. Under the huge Glenmoy blanket bog, beneath a layer of 2.5-4 meters of peat, lies an extensive network of drystone field walls, built by Neolithic farmers some 5-6000 years ago. Because the British Isles area has been so intensively settled over the years, this is the earliest (only?) site of this nature, an intact snapshot of a Neolithic settlement from before the Bronze Age. This was long before the Celts; we don’t know who these people were or what their language might have sounded like (though it’s likely that at least some of some of the people who live in the area today are their descendants). It’s right up there with Orkney as far as a cool archaeological site I would love to see someday, particularly since the bog is located at the top of a very striking cliff.

Poking about online, researching the likely lifestyle of the Neolithic Céide Fields inhabitants, I came across another gloriously weird thing from that same stretch of cliffy coastland: Dún Briste, a sea stack that used to be connected to the mainland until the 14th century.


Check out this thing. (Click for bigger.)

The best part is that people used to live out there, on this narrow and wild strip of cliffland. The Internet claims that, after the collapse of the connection to the mainland, they had to be rescued with “ship ropes” (this is completely unsourced and vaguely suspect, since the Internet also claims that no one was even sure whether people lived there or when the island was separated from the mainland until archaeologists took a helicopter to it in the 1980s). Regardless of the veracity of the details, though, people did live on it, and quite possibly might have done so in Neolithic times as well.

So that’s the setting of the following: the Céide Fields area in the 4th millennium BC, in its original semi-wild state, with Neolithic farmers clearing away the forests at the cliff top to graze their cattle and farm their wheat and barley there.


The Healer’s Daughter and the Hermit

The old man had lived on the headland since Gull could remember.

She’d never thought to ask why. He was simply there, a part of the landscape. Gull and her brothers used to try to sneak a look at him while they were supposed to be gathering hickory nuts or hunting rabbits around the drystone walls that bounded the fields. Sometimes they would take handfuls of raspberries from the bushes draped over the wall around his cow pasture, or play at being cattle thieves. The old hermit called them nasty names and threw stones to drive them off.

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What I’m Writing: Chicago Steampunk

You know, at the end of last year, I remember thinking: I’m going to use this blog more. In the new year, I’m going to write more, hermit less, and simply DO more.

The “write more” part is working out decently. I’ve been attempting to write 10K per week, and while I haven’t hit the goal every week, I think I’m starting to establish a decent writing schedule for myself. It remains to be seen how this will work out in the future, since I’ve only been reliable about it since the start of February, but one of my Things To Do in 2015 is to take my writing much more seriously, and that I’ve been doing.

As for the other part, though …. HAHAHAHA. 2015 might as well be called the Year of the Hermit. It’s terrible. And it’s not just online: I haven’t been talking on the phone. I haven’t been seeing people. I’ve been doing a bit on Twitter and Livejournal, but for the most part I’ve simply withdrawn into my shell and I seem to be waiting for spring to come along and hatch me.

(This time of year is always the hardest to get through. By the end of February, we have about 5 months of winter down and another 1-2 months to go. This is the part of the marathon when you’re just slogging up the last hill toward the finish line, going slower and slower …)

I have been writing, though! Over the last three years I’ve written five novels. One of them, Held For Ransom, a contemporary romance with no spec-fic elements, came out last year from Dreamspinner Press. All the others — two urban fantasy, two alternate-history steampunk — are presently in various stages of revision.

I have an almost obsessive fear about not talking about my projects while I’m working on them. It’s mostly because my projects have a tendency to twist around on me. Characters change, plots change; fantasy becomes science fiction; two projects merge into one, or divide into two; things move constantly on and off the front burner. I worry that discussing a project while I’m still developing it will petrify it at an early level of development, freezing characters and plots in their early stages without leaving myself the mental flexibility to keep developing as I move forward. Or what if I get readers interested in something and then disappoint them when I drop it and move on to something else? Or what if talking about it sucks out some vital energy from the creation process and makes me lose interest? It doesn’t help that nearly everything I’ve talked about extensively online actually did get dropped; I’ve gotten better at recognizing viable projects now that I’ve written more, but I still struggle with a mayfly attention span and a tendency to flit from one project to another, working on one until it loses its shiny and then bouncing to the next bright thing. I’m working hard on combating that tendency — trying to approach writing as a career path rather than a series of new toys, while not losing the sense of play — but I am only beginning to understand how my own creative process works. What does make me interested in something? What makes me lose interest? I truly don’t know, and because it sometimes feels like trying to paddle a leaky dinghy, I don’t want to risk doing anything I’m afraid might overbalance it and send all my good ideas spilling over the side. Okay, that metaphor got away from me a bit … but the big problem is that I still don’t understand what makes shiny ideas turn to coal in my hands, and while I’m still cultivating my own creative efforts, I’m nervous about causing problems for myself by discussing them too much.

But I’ve also realized, from reading authors’ blogs, that I really love reading authors talking about the projects they’re working on, and it does whet my appetite for their next thing to hear them ramble about the construction process. And I figure that once I’ve got the rough drafts down, even if I’m still revising it, then I’m probably not going to up and change the thing completely, am I?

Okay, so: as mentioned earlier, I have two main projects right now. The urban fantasy I’ll discuss at a later date (baby steps, baby steps!). The steampunk novels are based off a story I wrote a couple of years ago, for the Layla M. Wier alias, that was published in Dreamspinner Press’s Steamed Up steampunk romance anthology. Called “Untouchable”, it was set in 1930 and was a pastiche of The Untouchables and other ’30s noir, about two Prohibition agents, one of whom had a clockwork heart. More dieselpunk than steampunk, really, though I’m going to persist in calling it steampunk until someone makes me stop. I had enough fun with it that I thought I’d like to write more about the characters, Agents Rawson and Aldis. I also had been wanting to try my hand at writing a murder mystery, since I like reading them.

And that’s actually what I spent most of last year doing. I didn’t write a lot last year, but I did go through what amounted to a self-inflicted beginner-to-intermediate class in writing murder mysteries. By the end of it, I had two murder mysteries in rough draft, and I think I’m starting to get a general idea of how to write them. (On top of that, I have general ideas for a few more in the series, as well as another murder mystery/suspense series I’ve been wanting to write, completely unrelated to this one, set in Gold Rush-era Fairbanks. I think I can keep going for some time …) And, okay, I realize that I’ve spent 90% of this post talking about anything other than the project I’m supposedly writing the post about, but, hey, baby steps, right …? Now that I’ve introduced the Steampunk Chicago project, I’m going to try to stop hermiting quite so much and discuss the revision process as I work through it.

*crosses fingers that I haven’t just jinxed myself …*

Singing Each to Each [Absolute Write February Blog Chain]

I joined the February blog chain at the Absolute Write forums: 1000 words or less for a monthly prompt, which this month is “Valentine’s Day”. Stuck for ideas, I asked a friend. Katherine suggested hipster mermaids. Therefore I blame her for this.

Mermaid wtf (Your guess is as good as mine what the hell is going on in the picture at left; from Wikipedia’s mermaid entry.)


Singing Each to Each

Gray clouds scudded across the harbor, driven before harsh winds whipping the sea to a churning froth. Along the boardwalk, most of the shops were closed. On a nice day the seawall would be dotted with young couples enjoying the view, but on a bitter February day like this, only the most hardy ventured into the stinging spray.

One vendor had obstinately stayed open all day, his souvenir booth decked with teddy bears, pink balloons and boxes of chocolate, but now even he had decided to pack it in. He was wrestling with a bunch of balloons — the wind kept trying to snatch them away — when a young woman bundled in a slicker came down the boardwalk. She had heavy skirts and walked a bit oddly as the wind kept trying to pull her sideways.

“Sir, sir!” she cried. “Are you the seller of Valentines?”

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