Different times

(Above photo: I made a new friend. Literally. I think I’ll call him Wilson.)

Well, this isn’t where any of us thought we’d be even a week ago, let alone a month ago.

But we keep on going. I now have my weekly short story mailing list underway – a free story every Tuesday. If you’d like a little piece of escape delivered to your inbox once a week, sign up here!

As for the rest of it … I keep thinking, if there’s one thing I wish I could take forward with me from all of this, it’s a renewed awareness of scarcity, and habits for dealing with it. We already lived frugally, I thought, but now I find myself using a dish towel to mop up spills rather than paper towels, and rewashing plastic bags to use again. We’ve started a compost bucket, something I’ve intended for ages but somehow never got around to. I’m thinking about stepping up my gardening plans, not necessarily to grow more food, but to make my garden more self-sufficient and sustainable and environmentally friendly.

… oh no wait, there are two things. The other thing all this has brought home to me, in a very visceral way, is how interconnected everyone is.

I already knew that, intellectually; I think most people do. But there have been so many examples, through all of this, of people stepping up to help each other. And it’s one thing to know on a purely technical level how much we rely on the people who sell us our groceries and clean our buildings and drive our delivery trucks. But in this new world, they are the front-line first responders, putting their lives on the line every day to make sure we get the things we need to be healthy and safe and comfortable.

And also, facing the possibility of being socially isolated makes you realize how many small, friendly interactions you have with people every day.

It’s a strange, scary time. Take it easy on yourself, and take care of each other.

Tuesday stories are a go!

My mailing list is up and running with new stories every Tuesday!

This week’s story is “Hetsie’s Wonders,” a Weird West story that appeared in the now-defunct SF magazine Crossed Genres in 2009. If you’re not on the list, you can click the image or download it from this link:


Next week’s story will be a flash fiction about an accidental kitten acquisition, short enough to paste into an email for easy online reading. Join the mailing list and don’t miss any!

Lots of news!

There’s a whole lot going on around here! First of all, my new mailing list is up and running, and I will be sending out a free story every week starting in March. I have a large number of stories that I’ve written over the last decade and a half, ranging from novella-length to short freewrites: some published and out of print, most unpublished, in many different genres and styles. If you sign up for the mailing list, you’ll get a brand new story in your inbox every Tuesday.

And you get a free story just for signing up! In “Gilt & Glamour”, an urban fantasy adventure, two monster hunters get more than they bargained for with a flirty pooka. It was originally published in It Happened at the Ball in 2018.

Sign up here! https://www.subscribepage.com/laylaslist

I’m also currently running a mailing list promotion at BookFunnel, and giving away a free novella-length book, Finder’s Keeper, not available anywhere else. You can get that by clicking on this link – there are a bunch of other free books as well. Mine is about halfway down the page. Selecting a book will take you to the page to download it.

But wait! There’s more!

I have some books coming out soon! I’ll talk more about these when it’s closer to release time, but I have two books currently up for preorder on Amazon.

The Girl Who Loved Mountains (releases March 31, 2020; $0.99) is a standalone fantasy novella in which a folklorist who collects other people’s myths finds herself endangered by an old god’s magic, like her mother before her.

Rogue Myths (Gatekeeper #1; releases July 1, 2002; $2.99) is a revised version of the book that was originally released as Wayward Myths in 2018 (now out of print). Books 2 and 3 will be released in August and September.

And finally …

I will be at Alaska Comicon this weekend, Saturday & Sunday, February 22-23 at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, AK. I’m in space #408 next to Ellen Million Graphics. I will have Kismet print books and copies of my Lauren Esker and Zoe Chant books as well. Come see me!

A cold and wild world

Winter is the deep freeze, and it’s been around -30F since before Christmas with few breaks, dipping as low as -60 or colder in parts of Interior Alaska (the cold bit — the coasts are typically much warmer). But that’s what it does here, and in a way it’s a relief, with the warming Arctic and all that goes along with it, to have a halfway normal winter for a change.

I’ve just done a much-needed site update, cleaning out old links and making sure the Books, Short Stories, and Shows pages are up to date. (Aside from Alaska Comicon, where I’ve already reserved a table, the shows later in the year are still very much TBD, but these are the ones I’ve done in the past.) I also did a big update on my Lauren Esker website.

I really haven’t had much that’s new lately, aside from writing under the Lauren Esker and Zoe Chant pen names and Sun-Cutter‘s ongoing progress, but there are big plans afoot for 2020. I’m planning to reboot the Gatekeeper series (currently writing the last book in the trilogy) and I have another series as well, a historical series of steampunk murder mysteries set in the 1930s. I’ll have more information on both of those and a publishing schedule for the year to come soon.

Meanwhile, enjoy another glimpse of our frozen world.

Time of plenty

Our summers here in the north country are short, but what they lack in length they make up for in fullness of experience. Here in late July, the harvest bounty of both wild foods and gardens is starting to ripen. We are having an amazing raspberry year — a wealth of lush, sweet berries free for the picking all around the yard. I’ve been gathering handfuls as I work in the garden.

Wild raspberries in the edge of the yard. The bushes are so loaded it’s hard to believe they grew all by themselves; I didn’t have to do a thing!

We’ve had a few projects going on this summer. Our bridge over the creek self-destructed in the ice last winter. This was the second bridge we’ve lost, the first having been taken out in a flood a few years ago, so Orion decided to build a better, stronger, HIGHER bridge this time, one that hopefully is far enough above the creek to avoid the ice and the flooding.

New bridge – better than the old bridge! We hope!

We have had glorious wildflowers this summer, and currently the fireweed is in full bloom all around the yard and along the highway – you can see some of it in the bridge picture above.. There’s an interesting patch of white fireweed (or rather, pale pink) along the highway near our driveway turnoff that’s been there for the last few years. I keep intending to collect some seeds and see if I can get it to grow in the yard.

It’s really striking, a little splash of paler color among the vivid magenta of the normal fireweed.

We also have a lot of multi-branched fireweed growing around the yard, like this complete over-achiever next to the deck.

multi-branched fireweed
That’s just one fireweed plant! Also, I can’t help feeling the deck itself is not really adding to the aesthetics of that photo. It could use a bit of maintenance.

I’m also putting in a new flowerbed at the edge of the woods …

Not much to see yet, but it’ll be more beautiful when the flowers are planted … I hope!

September at Icefall Studio

Fall has befallen, and we’re just past the height of peak colors. It’s a rather monochrome sort of autumn that we have here, but I love how bright the gold trees make the whole world feel.

As Lauren Esker, I have a story this month in Two Mates for the Dragon, a benefit anthology for OutRight International, a nonprofit that works to protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people across the world. All profits will be donated to them in perpetuity.

I’m one of six authors who wrote a story for the anthology. All stories are M/M/F bisexual poly romance involving humans and (shapeshifting) dragons. My story, “Heart of Stone”, is blurbed thusly:

Tess’s dragonslayer husband David is dying, and her only hope is to seek help from David’s ex-boyfriend, a dragon who runs a hot springs resort.

(Note: This anthology contains sexually explicit material.)

We’re starting to get into the time of year when I’m thinking ahead to winter holiday bazaar season and starting ornament painting, but I … kinda haven’t gotten started on that yet, so no progress to share yet.

Some new stuff on Facebook, though! Namely, two new groups:

Lauren’s Fireside Book Chat, for my Lauren Esker romance books (and general booktalk, mostly romance related)

Layla Lawlor’s Books and Art, for my realname projects.

Feel free to join if either of those sounds relevant to you! But don’t feel obligated to follow me in projects that are not of interest.

And finally, a few interesting links found in various places:

The Akrasia Effect: Why We Don’t Follow Through on What We Set Out to Do and What to Do About It and relatedly, The Marshmallow Experiment. Two very interesting posts on procrastination and delayed gratification.

“Let’s Talk About Genre” – a really fascinating interview with Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro.

I think that there’s a huge difference between, for example, a novel with spies in it and a spy novel; or a novel with cowboys in it and a cowboy novel. I have a mad theory that I started evolving when I read a book called Hard Core by Linda Williams, a film professor in California. It was one of the first books analysing hardcore pornography as a film genre.

She said that in order to make sense of it, you need to think of musicals, because the plot in a musical exists to stop all of the songs from happening at once, and to get you from song to song. You need the song where the heroine pines for what she does not have, you need the songs where the whole chorus is doing something rousing and upbeat, and you need the song when the lovers get together and, after all the vicissitudes, triumph.

I thought, “That’s actually a way to view all literary genres,” because there are things that people who like a genre are looking for in their fiction: the things that titillate, the things that satisfy. If it was a cowboy novel, we’d need the fight in the saloon; we’d need the bad guy to come riding into town and the good guy to be waiting for him. A novel that happens to be set in the Old West doesn’t actually need to deliver any of those things – though it would leave readers of genre cowboy fiction feeling peculiarly disappointed, because they have not got the moments of specific satisfaction.

Really good stuff.

And finally, How to have a Smartphone with No Data Plan and Still Do All The Things. Not just applicable if you have no data at all, but also to maximizing your data by using available wifi where possible.

June and July at Icefall Studio

June highlights included a driving trip to Whitehorse and Dawson City for our solstice anniversary. We saw a number of bears and other wildlife along the way:

I also released a scifi romance, Metal Wolf, under my Lauren Esker pen name.

In July, I’m taking a painting class at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, have restarted weekly Kismet updates, and plan to release an urban fantasy novel on my birthday, July 26.

The tale the fox tracks told

We are just past the equinox, it’s staying light ’til 8 or 9 (a small harbinger of the all-night light we’ll start getting in about a month) and there were fox tracks all over the gravel pit today, including some that told the story of a curious little fox that wanted to see the world from higher up!

This was the first thing out of the ordinary that I happened to notice (beyond the fox tracks in general). You can see some tracks up top of this old flatbed in our gravel pit and the mark in the snow where it jumped off.

Continue reading “The tale the fox tracks told”

March is the cruelest month

Especially this year. Throughout February it snew and snew, and then snew some more, and now … look at it out there. ;__; I mean, it’s beautiful, BUT. This is the time of year when it feels as if winter will never end. (This picture is from a couple of days ago, when it was sunny. Today it was snowing again. AARGH.)

It doesn’t help that I was sick for half of February, so I’m behind on everything.

But I’m digging myself out from under a to-do pile. I’ve finally got the website redesigned for a newer, cleaner, more mobile-responsive look. There’s now a proper blog again (I want to start posting some free fiction here), the Short Stories page has been restored after being eliminated in the last redesign, the Start Here page has been updated with all my current projects, and the Books page has been updated with a bunch of new stuff. I’ve added a page for 2018 shows (such as they are).

And the snow will melt, and spring will come! It’s just going to be a month or so before we see any proper progress on that …