2017 in Review: Publications!

So, this post will be a little more upbeat than yesterday’s treadmill desk lament. I published things in 2017! And strangely, I realize, they mostly come in twos.

Two short stories in anthologies: I had stories in Where Evil Dwells: The Nova Scotia Anthology of Horror (“The Girl in the Stones”), and the 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide (“Station Run”). Two very different anthologies and very different stories! “The Girl in the Stones” is set in Cape Breton, when a couple moves into a house that comes with a strange pile of stones in the yard, menacing dreams, and a frightening history. “Station Run” finds a young girl on a space station discovering that her programming skills have unearthed a secret that will rock the world of the station and those who live there.

Two self-published novelettes, “Waiting to Fly” (set in the Nearspace universe), and “The Goddess Problem” (an Olympia Investigations story). “Waiting to Fly” is set in the early days of Nearspace colonization, when getting to a space station was only the first step, and getting off it again might not be easy-especially if you’re a young woman on your own. “The Goddess Problem” finds our favourite supernaturally-attuned detective, Acacia Sheridan, employed by a Greek goddess on a missing-persons case.

Two books: a new collection of short stories, The Cache and Other Stories, and the third book in the Nearspace series, Beyond the Sentinel Stars. The story collection includes stories published since my last collection in 2011, as well as a couple of bonus stories you won’t find anywhere else. And Beyond the Sentinel Stars finds Luta and her brother Lanar embroiled in a desperate attempt to prevent another Chron war from ravaging Nearspace.

On the editorial side, 2017 saw the publication by Third Person Press of Rise of the Mudmen by James FW Thompson. I’m very pleased to have been involved in the publication of this first novel. The story follows a group of young survivors through a zombie apocalypse in an alternate 1980’s timeline in Cape Breton.

Friday Desk Report – February 5, 2016

perlerbeadtypewriterIt’s been a while since the last Friday Desk Report–mainly because I haven’t been able to be at my desk, so there’s been little to report. However, between medication, time, and the stellar efforts of my wonderful physiotherapist, I’ve been inching my way back. I’m picking up the threads of the novel draft again, and making some progress on a new short story. The novel is certainly the more challenging of the two, since one might visualize it as something like this:


instead of something more like this:


but that is what editing is for, right?

Actually, those two pictures make a pretty good summation of the state of life in general and what I’m trying to get back to. All with time, I guess.

I’ve also just joined up for Kobo Writing Life and put The Murder Prophet there. It was available on Kobo before, through Smashwords distribution, but I wanted to explore the opportunities that Writing Life might provide. I’ve heard other authors talk about good experiences with it. I’m not sure of all the ins and outs of it just yet, but I’m sure I’ll learn as I go. I have a few short stories published since To Unimagined Shores came out, so I’m thinking about maybe putting together a small short story pack. Just a notion I’m noodling, so we’ll have to see where it goes.

On the Third Person Press side of things, we’re looking at two manuscripts right now, so although it’s seemed quiet on that front, things are happening behind the scenes. More on that as things develop.

So it’s been a slow and rather painful December and January, but as the daylight hours begin to grow a bit longer, a few minutes at a time, so do things begin to get back to “normal” at the desk. What will it look like by the time spring is actually here? Time will tell.

Away from the desk, I’m doing a sketch-a-day challenge this year to work on my drawing skills. I always say I’m better at colouring than drawing–my forays into coloured pencil art  attest to that–but this year I’d like to get a little better with the sketching. I am calling it sketch-a-day, but am allowing myself some leeway on that. Some days I might just do some colouring or other art, and if I miss a day, I’m allowed to make it up later. Right now I think I’m two drawings behind, but I’ll catch up on those on the weekend. Sometimes the hardest part of the undertaking is deciding what I feel like drawing.

Things I drew (or attempted to draw) this week:

  • flowers from photos on Instagram
  • a lamp in my living room
  • sketch plans for a clockwork rocket
  • a tree in a winter field

Loom image by Ladyheart at morguefile.com


*puts on Third Person Press hat*

flashpointWe’ll be launching our fourth volume in the Speculative Elements series this Friday: Flashpoint. As with the earlier volumes in the series, all the stories in Flashpoint involve something thematically related to the title, whether literally or figuratively. Sometimes both.

We have fifteen stories in this anthology, each one unique in its own right. It’s always interesting in these anthologies to see how very many different ways there are to interpret the theme we set before our authors. As combined editors/contributors, there’s an extra layer of interest as we each work within the theme on our own stories, as well.

The stories in Flashpoint cover the speculative spectrum, from fantasy to science fiction, horror to paranormal, light and funny to dark and serious. We always try to offer a mix of styles, subjects, and ideas in these volumes, and I think (if I do say so myself) that this one does an admirable job again.

If you can’t join us for the launch, watch for Flashpoint in print and ebook formats online at all the usual suspects.

If you supported our Indiegogo campaign for the book, watch for your perks to arrive soon!

Over the Shoulder and Down the Road

the-road-to-your-destiny-by-stealth37-nice-wallpaper-1600x1200In other words, looking back and looking ahead. :)

2013 was a great writing year for me. I started the year by completing revisions on One’s Aspect to the Sun, which then came out from Tyche Books in November. So far it’s been getting wonderful reviews and readers really seem to be enjoying it, which makes me very happy. That was my big news and my big accomplishment, but there were other writing accomplishments, too.

My story, “ePrayer,” came out in Third Person Press’ newest anthology, Grey Area, which also added another notch to my editorial belt. Grey Area was partially funded through our Indiegogo campaign, which was quite an experience in itself–time consuming and sometimes frustrating, but ultimately satisfying. Also with Third Person Press, we read submissions and made final decisions for our next anthology, Flashpoint, so we’ll be moving on to line edits for those stories soon.

I finished a short story for submission to another anthology, and that story became the jumping-off point for my NaNoWriMo effort. NNWM was a win, and although that story is far from finished, I’m pleased with it and will continue to work on it.

I also put two other novels into submission, in March. I’m still waiting to hear on those, and, to tell the truth, I’m getting impatient. Having been through the experience of waiting a long time for a publisher and eventually pulling the manuscript, I’ve vowed not to do that again. That’s a blog post all by itself, though, so I’ll talk more about that another day.

I worked on yet another novel manuscript, which is very close to being finished. I had planned a “novel swap” with a writer friend, but it didn’t come to be. I just couldn’t seem to finish the last few chapters in a way that satisfied me. With luck, he’ll still be willing and we’ll get to that this year, once I wrangle those chapters into shape.

I did preliminary revision work on two other unfinished novel manuscripts, and did some background work on Nearspace, the setting for One’s Aspect to the Sun. Yes, there are more stories to be told in that universe. No, I don’t have any details to share with you yet.

All of which is wonderful but…I could do more.

Once upon a time, I used to start more stories than I finished. Over time, I learned that this was, at least in part, due to starting to write too soon. I’d get an idea and start writing before I had let it “simmer” long enough in my brain. I don’t get along well with outlines, but I’ve learned that I do need to be able to see the structure of the story in my head before I start writing that first scene. That scene usually comes to me full-blown, so it’s very, very tempting to just “get it down” quickly. But as I said, I learned not to give in to that temptation, and finished more stories.

However, I find myself in the position of having a lot of unfinished manuscripts on my hard drive again. I’m not sure what the problem is now; partly trying to juggle too many projects, partly spending too much time on “writerly” things that are not actually writing, partly my propensity to procrastinate. (There, I’ve admitted it!) This time they are mostly novels, as opposed to short stories, thanks to NaNoWriMo, but still…they need to be finished. I came close to finishing that one I mentioned earlier, but didn’t quite make it.

Last year I set just one goal for myself for 2013; I would publish a novel. I’ve decided to make 2014 the Year of Finishing. I’m not saying I won’t start anything new this year, of course, but I really like many of these stories that are languishing only partially complete. I want to go back to them, finish writing them, and make them shine.

I also hope to blog more consistently this year. Last night at our New Year’s celebrations I threw two hopes into the resolution box: more consistency and less procrastinating in my writing life overall. With some luck and determination, they should combine to produce more finished manuscripts in the months to come. Stay tuned and we’ll see what happens from here.

Photo credit: Stealth37

Third Person Press and Grey Area

Grey Area_smThe small press in which I’m a partner, Third Person Press, launched its first Indiegogo fundraising campaign yesterday. It’s been a busy few weeks getting everything set, and a busy few months in the larger planning stages. It’s quite amazing just how much time you can spend thinking about and planning your perks, changing your mind, tweaking, adding, subtracting and rearranging,  to say nothing of creating prototypes and mockups of rewards, writing website copy, and writing emails.

Then the campaign launches, and the real work begins!

Our project for this campaign is Grey Area: 13 Ghost Stories. It’s a collection of ghost stories (obviously), all by authors from Cape Breton or with a substantial connection to Cape Breton. Of course, one doesn’ t have to be from here to appreciate the stories; most of them are not even set here geographically. There’s a wide mix of tales, from scary to spooky to funny. And everyone loves a good ghost story, right?

So, you might be wondering, if the stories have little, if anything, to actually do with Cape Breton, why do we make a point of noting the connection of the authors?

Partly it’s because of our mandate at Third Person Press: we strive to provide a voice and venue for regional fiction and authors in the speculative fiction genres. You may not know it, but there’s a bit of a stereotype that Cape Breton authors (indeed, maybe even Atlantic Canadian authors) all write about farming and fishing and coal mining, with a little bit of historical fiction thrown in for good measure. And while there’s not a thing wrong with those stories, they’re certainly not representative of the whole of our regional fiction!

If you’re familiar with our other titles, you’ll know that we like a broad range of types of stories, and Grey Area is no different. We think they’ll have wide appeal, so if you’re even slightly interested, please check out the campaign and consider supporting us and this project.

Third Person Press E-Sampler

Third Person Press has a little summer reading treat–or teaser–for you. We’ve put together three stories, one each from Undercurrents, Airborne, and the newly-released Unearthed, in a free sampler ebook.

The stories included are: “Winter Bewitched” by Sherry D. Ramsey, “Mind Drifter” by Julie A. Serroul, and “Mud Pies” by Nancy S.M. Waldman. The e-sampler is available in .epub and .mobi formats directly from the Third Person Press website, and in many formats from Smashwords.

If you haven’t read our anthologies and would like a taste of the stories to see if you’d like them, now is the time to take some for a test-drive!

Dusting Things Off

Well. It’s been a while since my last post, which usually means it must be either early spring, or possibly early fall. I know that because January and February are difficult months for me to stay focused and productive, as are the summer months, although for very different reasons. However, the drip, drip of melting snow outside my office window tells me that this time, it’s spring.

While I’ve been busy not-writing, (albeit doing a lot of other writer-ish things) over the past couple of months, I’ve been considering the problem of how I spend my time. And realizing that I really need to downsize 1) the amount of time I spend on writing-related-but-not-writing endeavours, and 2) the amount of time I spend on things that *seem* important but probably aren’t. I’ve known for some time that this is a problem, but it was highlighted for me recently when I read an article on categorizing activities into quadrants of necessity, distraction, waste, and extraordinary results. I plan on taking a hard look at where my time fits into these quadrants and ways to put more into the fourth one.

Spring is a good time for re-thinking and renewing.

Work is moving swiftly now on the newest anthology from Third Person Press, Unearthed: we have cover images in place, most stories are out to contributors for final review, and we’re ready to start typesetting. We’re hoping for a release date sometime in May, so stay tuned. It’s our biggest crop of stories so far, and we’re excited about it.

Off to make the perfect Evernote to-do list!

Photo credit: johnnyberg

News Roundup

I’m pleased to announce one winner in my book giveaway: Chuck Heintzelman! Chuck correctly identified the provenance of my collection’s title, To Unimagined Shores, as a line from the poem “The Twilight of Earth” by George William (“A. E.”) Russell:

THE WONDER of the world is o’er:
The magic from the sea is gone:
There is no unimagined shore,
No islet yet to venture on.

Chuck’s copy is winging its way to him now!

In other news, all of our Third Person Press titles, including To Unimagined Shores, are on sale from now until Christmas Day for just 99 cents each! This is a great chance to fill your ereader (or someone else’s) with short speculative fiction to keep them reading into the new year. Click over to the order page at Third Person Press and grab your copies!

And finally, I’ll return to my Tales of Tales posts tomorrow, with a look at another story from the collection.

Tales of Tales ~ Part 4: Signs & Portents

So far I’ve been talking about some of the fantasy stories in the collection, so today I thought I’d move over to one of the science fiction stories.

“Signs & Portents” first appeared in Oceans of the Mind, which was a professionally-paying, .pdf-format magazine that published quarterly issues from 2001 to 2006. They were one of the first, as far as I know, to really make a strong attempt at an entirely electronic-based publishing format, and they published some great stories from wonderful writers around the world.

As writers, we’re often asked where we get our ideas. I don’t always have an answer for a particular story, but I do remember this one. Have you ever had the experience of glancing at a note or sign, and reading something quite different than what is actually there? Then you look again and realize that what you thought you saw wasn’t right. Well, there was a period when that seemed to be happening to me a lot.

At about the same time, there was a story going around about a fellow in the nearest city to where I live, who appeared regularly on a street corner, bearing a sign protesting this or that. I don’t know that I ever saw him myself, but an image of him had built itself up in my mind.

So, somewhere in my brain, these two ideas collided (hey, just like in a particle accelerator, which figures largely in the story), and “Signs & Portents” was born. This is the way a lot of my stories seem to happen—two unrelated ideas that meet, shake hands, and decide that they would work well together.

The Sign Man in “Signs & Portents” was one of my favorite characters to write, although he’s not the narrator nor the main character of the story. But I enjoyed figuring out who he was and what he was doing on that street corner, and why his signs were so—well, if I say too much I’ll give things away.

Three days later, my head still bandaged, I walked toward the Sign Man’s corner. He was quiet today. The army fatigues were gone, replaced by a wrinkled blue plaid jacket and paint-speckled olive polyester pants. The ever-present placard read “SPACE SHUTTLES—AS IF!”.

I walked right up to him and just stood for a minute. He fixed me with a placid stare. His eyes weren’t mad at all today. They were quiescent spheres of polished granite.

“How did you know?” I said finally.

“Spare some change?” he asked.

“How did you do it?”

“The space shuttles aren’t real, you know,” he confided. “It’s all just entertainment. Hollywood jerking us.”

“Your sign,” I said. “I saw something on it the other day. A warning, maybe.”

“I’ll sell you the sign,” he offered, tapping today’s placard, “for a dollar.”

I steadied my voice. “No, not this sign. Another sign. A few days ago. It said, ‘Near miss on 24’. I was nearly killed on route 24 on my way home.”

If you missed the earlier blog post, I’m currently running a contest to win a copy of To Unimagined Shores. Click the link to get all the details, and take a moment to enter. Or if you can’t wait, you can buy a print or ebook copy (in multiple formats) from thirdpersonpress.com, amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.

Tales of Tales ~ Part 2

Today I’ve picked another story out of the table of contents for To Unimagined Shores to talk about a little.

“Little Things” is my first-ever published story. It appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s FANTASY magazine in 1997. It’s also the first story I wrote about what turned out to be a series character, a young mage’s apprentice named Albettra. The funny thing about this sale is that I vividly remember getting a postcard in the mail simply telling me that this story was “on hold” at MZBFM. At that time I wasn’t even sure what that meant, but I knew it wasn’t a rejection, so I was ecstatic! I don’t actually remember getting the acceptance letter. The brain is a funny thing.

This was also the first story I’d submitted anywhere. Its sale made me think that this whole getting-published thing was not going to be so difficult after all. Ah, the golden optimism of the beginning writer!

“That ill-begotten son of a cantankerous sow has gone too far this time!” he bellowed, stalking the room with beard aquiver. “The man is a mountebank! A copper coin would be too much to pay for one of his spells! A lying charlatan, that’s what he is, and he dares to spread rumors about me!”

“Zipnax?” I hazarded the name in a small voice.

“Of course, Zipnax! Bah! The name makes my tongue shrivel to say it!” Nissio was flailing his arms wildly now, his robe fluttering madly and his beard flying in every direction.

I was cautiously working my way around to the other side of my worktable. I had never seen the old fellow so angry and I knew I’d feel a lot safer with something solid between us. When his erratic pacing took him near a wall he’d take an angry swing at it with a wizened fist. There couldn’t be much physical strength left in the man, but it didn’t take much to set the walls of the rattletrap cottage swaying. Dust was floating lazily down from the ceiling again and I stifled a sneeze.

“To accuse me of stealing!” the old mage was ranting now. “Imagine me, stealing one of his pitiful ideas!”

Bam! His fist hit a wall.*

The origins of Albettra herself and the idea for this story escape me now, they’re so far back in the mists of time. I do like Albettra, though, and I like the way she keeps turning up in my brain with a story idea in tow. She’s sometimes unsure of herself but feisty when she needs to be, and determined to win out in the end. I suppose, if I get all psychological about it, she’s a bit of a reflection of myself as a writer.

There are four Albettra stories in To Unimagined Shores. I’d like to know what you think of her as a character, if you happen to read them. You can do that in the comments section of this blog, on my Author Central page at amazon.com, or over at Goodreads.

If you missed the earlier blog post, I’m currently running a contest to win a copy of To Unimagined Shores. Click the link to get all the details, and take a moment to enter. Or if you can’t wait, you can buy a print or ebook copy (in multiple formats) from thirdpersonpress.com, amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.

*My more astute writerly colleagues will notice a fair bit of passive voice in this excerpt…probably in the whole story. It’s interesting to note that at the time this story was written/published, it was not considered such a stylistic anathema. It’s an example of the ongoing evolution of writing style that I find fascinating. Anyway, it didn’t feel right to me to re-edit previously published stories for this collection, so I left things like this alone.