Friday Desk Report – September 29, 2017

*looks around, swipes a finger across the desk*

Wow, pretty dusty in here. Looks like I’ve been away for the whole summer!

Well, yes, I was. Not away from home (much), but away from my digital home. and from my office, too. That was messy enough to take two days to clean up, but that’s done, so I’d better clean up here, too. And I actually do have stuff to report, because I was back at my desk much more this week.

First up: Over the summer, I turned in the manuscript for Nearspace #3, Beyond the Sentinel Stars. It’s been through edits and although I don’t have a definite release date to share with you yet, it’s coming! For those who love Luta and her crew, I think you’ll really enjoy this installment of their adventures.

Next up: pre-orders are now open for the Gumshoes Bundle from BundleRabbit. If you’re a mystery lover, you won’t want to miss out on this one! It includes my urban fantasy/mystery The Murder Prophet, as well as a host of other great titles.

More news: Where Evil Dwells is out! This anthology of Nova Scotia horror includes my story, “The Girl in the Stones,” and some other writers you’ll probably recognize. Available in stores and at all the usual online locations.

One more thing for today: I’ll be at CaperCon 2017 as a guest, and I have a great lineup of panels and workshops! I’ll post details about them all here next week. CaperCon runs October 20-22 and takes place at Centre 200 in Sydney this year, so plan to come by and visit! It’s set to be bigger and better than ever!

Friday Desk Report 2-17-2017

The return of the Friday Desk Report! And look at that fabulously almost-symmetrical date.

So, there hasn’t been a Friday Desk Report for a while, mainly because for the past couple of months they all would have read something like, “Tried to work on the novel edits this week in between bouts of feeling utterly depressed with the world. Drowned my sorrows in Guild Wars 2. Also, winter.” I mean, how many times would you want to read that?

But here’s the good news: there’s actually news. I turned in the novel manuscript! I turned in the short story! I edited and submitted another story! So things have really picked up again around the old desk. With luck, it will continue. I have a few new projects pestering me for some attention, and some older ones lined up in the “go back to” queue. Time to open up my year-out project planning spreadsheet and fill in some things for the next few months.

I’ve also been asked to give a WFNS workshop this spring, which is exciting. We’re calling it “Exploring Speculative Fiction,” and I’m looking forward to spending a day talking genre with folks writing and hoping to write specfic stories. So over the next few weeks some of my desk time will be spent putting the workshop together.

I’ve also been busy Saving The World Through Knitting. Well, okay, not *quite* saving the world. But making a small difference. So far I’ve knit ten hats from my yarn stash, which will be sent to an organization that distributes such items to refugees in need. I’m finding it a very useful strategy in coping with stress, distress, and the darkness demons of the winter months. (In the course of this project I’ve also become addicted attached to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I expect I’ll be writing some new mysteries this year…)

NaNoRetro: 2003

My NaNoWriMo Retrospective continues with a look back at 2003. I came, I wrote, I bought the t-shirt. And I wrote “THE END.”

nanoretro2003This was my second year of NaNoWriMo, and the year I wrote the first draft of One’s Aspect to the Sun. I learned a lot about novel-writing that year, including the fact that sometimes characters you intend to kill off in the second chapter just keep hanging around until you realize they’re not ready to die after all. I also found out how fulfilling it is to reach some semblance of an ending and type those two wonderful words.

I wasn’t certain if this was the year I became a Municipal Liaison, but I’ve just gone and checked my email (yes, I’m an email hoarder, I confess), and this was the year I started. So I’m glad to have that figured out, because I’m never sure when filling out the ML form each year. It didn’t occur to me before this to just go and check those old emails, for which I really have no excuse. As I recall, we were a pretty small group that year, and far-flung across the Island, as we still are, although there are definitely more of us participating now. I remember mailing out pins and possibly stickers to a few participants.

Anyway, this is a big year in the retrospective, because the draft I wrote this year became my first published novel (from Tyche Books) in…wait for it…2013. In November, even! Yes, ten whole years after I wrote that first draft. Now, I wasn’t working on it constantly during those ten years (I wrote a lot of other stuff in there, too), but I did write several drafts. I submitted it to the Atlantic Writing Competition (now Nova Writes) and took second place (which one of the organizers assured me meant that the novel was “publishable”), and rewrote it using the feedback I received from the judges. After a couple more rewrites and submissions, it found its home at Tyche. The beautiful cover art is by the talented Ashley Walters. The book was named “Speculative Fiction Book of the Year” by the Book Publishers of Alberta.

Here’s the blurb, which remained pretty much the same from the time I first wrote it in 2003 until the book came out:

When Luta Paixon, captain of the merchant trader Tane Ikai, looked in the mirror, she saw a woman in her thirties–even though she was actually eighty-two. Luta’s only explanation might lie with the mother who had disappeared over sixty years ago. But even if her mother were still alive, it would be no small task to track her down in the vast, wormhole-ridden expanse of Nearspace. With the ruthless PrimeCorp bent on obtaining Luta’s DNA at any cost, her ninety-year-old husband asking for one last favor, and her estranged daughter locking horns with her at every turn, Luta’s search for answers will take her to the farthest reaches of space–and deep inside her own heart.

Looking back at my spreadsheet from this year, I see that I finished November with a word count of 50,715. On the second day, my note says, “A little worried that I don’t know where I’m going,” but by the end of the first week I seem to have settled into a groove and flown straight on till morning. I actually finished on the 27th, averaging 1878 words per day.

Which year will we visit next? Stay tuned!

Recipe: Nearspace “Solanto” Cookies

Cerevare crop

This is Cerevare, but you knew that, right?

If you’ve read Dark Beneath the Moon, you might have noticed references to solanto cookies made by the Lobor historian, Cerevare Brindlepaw, when she’s on the Tane Ikai. They’re described as “…crunchy…brown-sugar-sweet…filled with roga-nut spice from Renata and drizzled with a sweet glaze.”

Sound delectable? Yes, I thought so, too, when I dreamed them up.

(Funny story as an aside: I was invited to attend a book club meeting one time, when they discussed the first Nearspace book, One’s Aspect to the Sun. The only real complaint they had with the book was that there wasn’t enough food in it, because their custom is to make food from whatever book they’re discussing and bring it to that meeting. Ever since, I make sure there’s food in my books. You have to listen to your readers.)

IMG_5025

So back to the cookies. The idea of figuring out the recipe has been simmering (pun intended) in the back of my mind for a while, but recently I felt ready to try it out. Now, unfortunately, I don’t have access to roga-nut spice from the planet Renata, and I suspect you don’t, either. However, the recipe below uses a reasonable facsimile, and these are just about how I imagined Cerevare’s cookies.

(They also appear in the draft of the newest Nearspace book, still under construction. Apparently Cerevare taught Rei how to make them, when I wasn’t looking.)

If you’re feeling like a literary treat today, give them a try! The recipe makes about 18 cookies and should double up just fine if you want a bigger batch.

Cerevare’s Solanto Cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 c. margarine (I like an olive oil type, but any will do.)
1 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/4 c. chopped pecans (you could also use walnuts, or leave out the nuts altogether)
Optional glaze: A few tbsp. icing sugar and a bit of milk

IMG_5019

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream margarine and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla–don’t over-beat, just combine it all. In a smaller bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to sugar mixture all at once and mix just until everything is incorporated. Dough will be on the soft, wet side. Stir in the nuts.

Shape into balls and place on a cookie sheet. I used a 1-1/2 tbsp. ejecting scoop for this and it made them the perfect size. The cookies will spread out and flatten as they bake so leave lots of room between them on the cookie sheet.

These actually turned out to be a little close. If you don't want them to spread together, space them more than this!

These actually turned out to be a little close. If you don’t want them to spread together, space them more than this!

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges have started to look a bit crisp and wrinkly, but center is still soft. They should be a nice golden brown with darker edges. Take them out of the oven and leave them on the cookie sheet for a minute or so, then remove carefully (they’ll still be somewhat soft) to a cooling rack.

They’re delicious with or without the glaze, but Cerevare does glaze them in the book. So if you’re inclined, mix up your icing sugar and milk (a slightly thicker glaze stays on the cookies better) and drizzle it on once the cookies have cooled a bit. (See above picture).

Serve them up with your favorite caff, chai, tea, or other hot drink, whether it be earthly or interstellar.

IMG_5022Let me know if you try them, and how they turn out!

Friday Desk Report – Feb. 26/16

stack-of-books-images-k4233733Another week when I was not at my desk very much–it was school book fair week here, so I spent a fair bit of time organizing and manning that. We had a good week and will be putting a lot of new books into the library as a result. The other payoff is seeing the students get so excited about books. Not to mention dropping a certain amount of my own money there…but we won’t talk about that.

When I was at my desk, I was getting files ready for a bundle that will drop next month–it includes a new story from what I like to think of as “the Nearspace files.” That is, it’s set in the Nearspace universe, but prior to the novels. So it gives a little glimpse into the history of Nearspace, while telling a story that stands in its own. You might already have found the other Nearspace stories I have here on the site, but this novella is something new. I’ll post all the details here when the bundle is ready to go, but I’ll just say that my story will be in some exciting company! Oh, all right–I’ll give you a sneak peek at the cover, as well:

RamseyWaitingToFlyCover

…do you like it? Probably in next Friday’s report (or sooner!) I’ll tell you what the story’s about.

So between editing the story, tweaking the cover, setting up the ebook formats, and miscellaneous other related tasks…that was the week. Add in meetings on three of the five weeknights, and it’s no wonder this isn’t a long report!

I do have one other piece of news, though, and it’s that One’s Aspect to the Sun will be part of a new Space Opera box set, also coming in March. Again, I’ll post all details and links as I have them. This is going to be a great deal, so you won’t want to miss out on it!

And I think that’s the report.

 

Friday Desk Report – Oct. 16/15

old deskWhat? How can it be Friday again already?

Well, let’s see what I have for the desk report this week. I cooked and ate a lot of food over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and hung out with my family.

I did quite a bit more work on my Nearspace bible in preparation to begin the new novel, and I wrote almost two thousand words of new story notes. While doing some research reading I had a HUGE epiphany about how a lot of things fall into place in this novel, and honestly, when that happens, that’s enough of an accomplishment to make you feel good about the whole week! My brain is now telling me I’m ready to start writing, but I know that’s not true yet. It’s just that my brain gets overexcited about these things sometimes. Calm down. Not long now.

I got a short story rejection and sent out a new submission for that story the same day. Which reminded me of one of my favorite essays from back in the day when Speculations was still a print publication. It was “How Many Times Do You Have To Be Told No?” by James Van Pelt and it made a big impression on me as a new-ish writer (I still have a copy of that issue, so I went and re-read it for fun. It’s just as relevant today as it ever was). The tagline for the article was The sun sets on no rejected manuscript in my house and I have tried hard over the years to make that my creed for submitting stories.

I tweaked my NaNoWriMo guest blog post for Liana Brooks and saw it go live here on Thursday. And I read the page proofs for my story in the upcoming 2016 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide from Dreaming Robot Press. I’m really excited to read all of the stories in this anthology.

And I discovered two new very nice reviews for One’s Aspect to the Sun over on amazon.

Today I’m talking to some elementary school kids about “being a writer” for a career day project, so I did some prep work for that as well. I’m hoping they’ll have some questions to ask me, too!

Some things I looked up on the Internet this week (not necessarily to do with writing):

I’d call that a good week.

Friday Desk Report – Oct. 9/15

my-tools-1239864-639x426So I had this idea to write a sort of weekly roundup/review post, and call it the Friday Desk Report. I envision it as sort of a brief review of the week’s projects, word metrics, links, and anything else notable that happened during the week. As much for myself as for anyone else, I suppose, but it could turn out to be interesting.

Will I be able to keep it up? Only the future will tell. Traditionally, I’m not so good with consistency, but it’s possible I’m improving with age. Come on, it’s possible.

So, what do I have to report? This week I did the most sustained new writing I’ve done since my mom passed away at the end of August. Still not a lot of new words, but it felt good to work like that again. I worked on a short story I’m writing about giant monsters who have laid waste to much of the continent and now threaten my protagonist’s small Nova Scotia farm.

I also worked on a book trailer for The Seventh Crow, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I’m waiting on a couple of images I need to replace some placeholders, and then I’ll be uploading it to share. Should be available sometime next week.

I wrote a book review I’d promised, and drafted a guest blog post I have to turn in by the 15th, so I’m well ahead on that. I also put together a new outline template for Scrivener and began using it to work on The Chaos Assassin, and this morning I sent out a short story submission.

I read far too much on Facebook about the upcoming federal election and decided I need to stop worrying about it and being disappointed in people. It’s far too negative. All I can do now is cast my own vote and encourage others to do so, and hope, hope, hope for better things to come.

NearspaceBibleToday I’m working on my Nearspace series bible, in preparation for NaNoWriMo and the novel I’m planning to work on in November. I already had such a thing but it was NOT well-organized or complete. I found this video from Kami Garcia to be quite inspiring in this regard and look how well it’s coming along!

In other Nearspace news, I also put up another free Nearspace story on this site today, which you can find here. It’s a peek into Nearspace and the first contact story between humans and Lobors, before wormhole travel was possible.

Some cool things from the internet this week:

Okay, I’m impressed. That’s a pretty good report! So back to today’s project…

 

Cover Reveal: Dark Beneath the Moon

I’m thrilled today to reveal the cover for Dark Beneath the Moon, coming in September from Tyche Books. This book is a sequel to One’s Aspect to the Sun, and you’ll find many of the same characters returning to the story. The art is once again by Ashley Walters, who did an amazing job again this time around.

Oh,  you actually want to SEE it? Here you go:

DarkBeneat_front

Ohmigosh, isn’t it amazing? If you’ve read One’s Aspect to the Sun or the free Nearspace story on this site, you’ve heard mention of a wolf-like alien race called “Lobors.” Yes, that’s one of them on the cover with Luta, and she’s pretty important in this story.

What’s the book about? Here’s a glimpse:

Luta Paixon has plenty of trouble on the Tane Ikai, with relationships in flux and the sticky problem of two captains on one ship. But when an alien artifact, the remnant of a long-ago war, shows up on the other side of a newly-discovered wormhole, the crew also find themselves pressed into the service of the Nearspace Protectorate. The Tane Ikai‘s task: covertly deliver an alien historian to the site to decipher its meaning–and possible threat.

 

Jahelia Sord is a woman with a grudge against the world, and against Luta Paixon and her family in particular. She has her own secrets to guard, and an alliance with the notorious PrimeCorp–one she’ll keep only as long as it suits her own hunt for vengeance.

 

When a mysterious attack leaves them stranded in an uncharted new system, Luta, her crew, and Jahelia must try to put their differences aside and decide who to trust, while they uncover a shocking truth about the Chron war and what their old enemies are so afraid of…

 

Dark Beneath the Moon is set to launch this September at CaperCon. I know I’m excited! :)

A Contest for World Book & Copyright Day

wbd-web-467x300-enApril 23rd each year marks UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright day. As it’s described on their website, “This is a day to celebrate books as the embodiment of human creativity and the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding and tolerance…our goal is clear – to encourage authors and artists and to ensure that more women and men benefit from literacy and accessible formats, because books are our most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building.” So, in the spirit of the day, I thought I’d run a little contest here on the blog.

What you can win: One ebook copy each of One’s Aspect to the Sun and To Unimagined Shores.

How to enter: There are several ways to enter the contest, and you can have multiple entries in my Lucky Basket. Here it is:

luckybasket

Doesn’t it look lucky?

Here’s how to get your entries added:

> Leave a comment below. Just say hi! = 1 entry

> Leave a comment below; say hi and tell me your favorite speculative fiction book or author = 2 entries

> Tweet or retweet about the contest = 1 entry. I’ll even write the tweet for you. Just copy and paste:

Enter @sdramsey ‘s #BookDay contest  by April 23rd for a chance to win free SF/F ebooks (http://tinyurl.com/qgp9hfm) #books #reading #scifi

> Share the contest in any other way; post it to your blog, mention it on Facebook, +1 it on Google, write it on your forearm with magic marker. The comments and tweets I’ll see, but you’ll have to email or message me to tell me about anything else you do. Each share = 1 entry

Rules: You may enter from anywhere in the world. Entries will be hand-written by me on actual pieces of paper and dropped in the Lucky Basket. One winner will be drawn from the entries received by midnight AST on April 23, 2014. Ebooks will be available in the following formats: .epub, .mobi (for Kindle), and .pdf. Winner will have to provide me with a working email address for delivery of their ebooks. Winner agrees to let me post their name or screen/online name so everyone knows that someone actually did win. The decision of the contest administrator (me) is final. I will do my best to record all eligible entries, but will not be responsible for missed, missing, or misplaced entries.

Ready to enter? Go!
 

OATTS cover-sm TUS-front-cover-sm