Book Signing and Talk

On Wednesday, March 2, at 7:00 pm, I will be doing my first-ever book signing and presentation at the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library in Hamilton, MA. Any of my blog readers who are in that area, I would love to see you there! The topic of my presentation is “The Epic in the Everyday,” and I will be discussing the importance of Story in human lives, and why I love speculative fiction specifically. I’ll have books for sale, and will, of course, be signing them. Do come if you can!

If you can’t make it, I will likely be posting the substance of the talk here on this blog at some point soon, and I am always happy to mail any of my readers autographed bookplates free of charge. And if you can’t make this one but you think you’d like to have me do a signing and/or talk at your local library or bookstore, get in touch with me and we’ll see what we can arrange! I’d love to come to you, if you can’t come to me.

CHECKMATE!

My good friend A. M. Offenwanger published her third book yesterday! I got to beta read it, and loved it even in its “raw” form; I have a bit of a cold today so I spent all morning curled up on the couch under a blanket reading the published version, and I loved it even more. If you enjoy light fantasy, with close-knit families and warm friendships, where the villains don’t have glowing red eyes and black cloaks and are all the more nasty for their everyday qualities, where a hero doesn’t need a magical sword, just a big heart and courage to do the right thing no matter how big or small … if you enjoy all of that, check out Checkmate and the rest of the Septimus Series!

amo vitam

Aaaaaand – HERE IT IS!! Please welcome:

CHECKMATE!!

Toddle on over to the page, where you can choose from a profusion of links from which to get your very own e- or p-(paper)copy of the newest instalment of the Septimus Series.

Here’s what you’ll find under the snazzy cover:

Rhitha’s life is miserable – but then she meets Bina.

Rhitha’s sister has been bullying her all her life, for no reason that Rhitha can see. But when they move to Ruph, there is a new friend in Rhitha’s life: with the help of Bina and her unique powers Rhitha begins to see that there might be more going on in her family than meets the eye. There is a secret nobody suspected…
Things come to a head between Rhitha and her sister in a clash that draws in everyone around them. Are the peculiar forces at play in…

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Taking the Time

I’ve been reading through Louise DeSalvo’s The Art of Slow Writing, and while some of it strikes me as more than a little pretentious (what can I say, I come from good, practical, farmer stock), I do very much appreciate the reminder to be mindful, to be aware, to not be so overly focused on the result that one misses the beauty of the here and now.

With all that in mind, when we went out for a family walk yesterday afternoon, enjoying the late February sunshine even amid the biting wind, I took my big camera instead of just my phone, and enjoyed taking pictures for the sake of the photography, rather than in order to post them on Instagram (don’t get me wrong, I snapped one or two with my phone camera as well, and posted THOSE on Instagram, because Instagram is my happy place). And while they might not be the finest photos in all of creation, they made me satisfied. I’m glad I took the time to see things from a different angle, and take the photos even if it meant I didn’t get the instant rush of posting them online at once.

It’s the same feeling I get when I write anything by hand, especially something in my journal, using cursive. It takes more time, it won’t be seen by anyone else, there’s no practical value in it – and yet there is something about it that satisfies.

I have tendencies toward dawdling (those did not come from my practical farming forebears), so it is important for me to not get lost in my daydreams and never accomplish anything. On the other hand, it is also tremendously important to not be so wrapped up in the end goal and “getting things done” that I forget to savor the slower things in life, the things that aren’t necessarily tangible or goal-oriented. A tricky balancing act, and one I know I’ve blogged about before, but one of which I always need reminding, and at which I will always need to keep practicing.

A Change in the Wind …

Literally (it has suddenly remembered it’s winter here in New England, and along with the delightful snow we are enduring some not-as-delightful bitter cold. Not to worry, though, it’s supposed to pop back up to the mid-40s on Tuesday), and metaphorically as well.

I hesitate to talk too much about changes to my writing plans, simply because if I talk about them and then change my mind again, people will get confused. These changes, however, I’ve been mulling over for quite some time, so I think it is safe to reveal at least one of them to you all.

Here it is: I’ve been referring to the magical detective stories – Magic Most Deadly, the upcoming Magic in Disguise [working title], and any future books to come – as the “Intelligent Magic” series. It seemed a clever name when I thought of it, tying in Len’s Intelligence work to the magical aspect.

Except … I think now it was a little too clever. So I thought, well, I’ll have Maia say something specifically about it, or Aunt Amelia make a nasty crack about the need for intelligent magic instead of magical intelligence … but it didn’t work. It just never fit.

So, I have scrapped the “Intelligent Magic,” and have gone to what I should have done in the first place: Whitney & Davies. After all, Dorothy L Sayers’ detective novels are simply known as the Lord Peter Wimsey series; Agatha Christie’s works are divided into the Poirot novels, the Miss Marple books, and the Tommy & Tuppence series; we have the Cadfael series, the Inspector Alleyn series, the Mrs. Pollifax series … etc. Naming a cozy mystery (with magic) series after your main protagonists is not only common sense, it is continuing the tradition established by the greats.

So, Magic Most Deadly is now Book 1 in the Whitney & Davies series … and if I ever get through these revisions, we should get Book 2 before too much longer!

And on that note, I should really get back to revising … making some significant changes there, too, but I’m not ready to talk about them until I know for certain they will stick. Au revoir, friends!

Greetings and Salutations

Hello! I am here! Did you think I had dropped off the face of the earth? Or the blogging-earth, anyway? (Is that even a thing? Is that like Middle-earth? … sorry, I just finished re-reading the LOTR trilogy, so my mind is a little full of elves, dwarves, Rangers, hobbits, orcs, and Ents.)

I learned something about myself this past year, which is that I am really not a great blog-writer. Non-fiction tends to not be my niche anyway, and blogging, where you have to combine wit and wisdom in a short, snappy post which both enlightens and entertains … I can work at it, or I can accept that it’s not really my preferred area of writing, and spend more time on fiction, which IS.

But I don’t want to never blog, either – much as I enjoy interacting with people on FB and Twitter, blogging is its own unique community which I don’t want to entirely lose – so my hope is to still pop into this ol’ blog once in a while and touch base with you all.

So, once again, hello! How are all of you? We have started the third of Carl’s spring semesters here at grad school (we find ourselves measuring all our time by his school right now), which means it is our second-to-last, and wow. I realized yesterday that this summer will be our last full summer on the North Shore, which is an even bigger WOW. We are keeping busy with homeschool (love our Classical Conversations homeschool co-op we joined this past fall!), ballet and gymnastics (for the kids), trying to stay healthy (Carl and me), being friend- and community-minded (all of us), and for me, of course, writing.

Honestly, I haven’t done much writing since publishing From the Shadows in December. This is not so much of a slump as it just happened – I published the book, we jumped right into Christmas happenings, then we traveled to visit family, then we came back just in time to get back into CC, ballet, and gymnastics, and then Carl’s semester started. It’s been BUSY. But I’m starting to ease back into things, and am working on Magic Most Deadly’s sequel right now. I recently read a poorly-constructed detective novel with a friend, and breaking down the faults in that made me realize I was committing many of those in this book, so that was good (to realize this before I presented it to the world), and has created a lot more work for me. Which is fine! There’s no point in even starting a book if you aren’t willing to work with everything you’ve got to make it as good as you can.

In other exciting news – well, exciting for me – I’ll be making my first “author appearance” in one month. On March 2nd, at 7:00 pm, I’ll be giving a talk at the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library in Hamilton, MA, on the importance of stories and speculative fiction, and doing a reading from From the Shadows, followed by a Q&A session. It should be fun! I’m looking forward to it (and am also wicked nervous). If you happen to be in the area that evening, you should come check it out!

Meanwhile, it is February 1 and feels like May 1 outside, so I think I shall wrap up this update and make sure all our windows are open. Happy February, friends!