Story Excerpt Sunday: from Immortal, by Pati Nagle


by Pati Nagle

Barb came out from the front desk and started going to each of the patrons, quietly informing them that the facility was about to close. I glanced at my watch, which read 4:55. Caeran seemed not to have noticed, but when Barb came over to us he sat back. He’d gotten about halfway through the book.

“We’ll be closing in a few minutes,” Barb said.

Caeran nodded, made a note of the page number, then closed the book and handed it to her. “Thank you.”

She smiled and headed for the guy with the maps. I pulled off my gloves.

“Did you get what you needed?” I asked softly.

A slight frown creased his brow. “Perhaps.” Continue reading

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Fiction in History, History in Fiction

harriette wilson
Back in the 1970s, when dinosaurs roamed the flat earth before the internet, I used to listen to one of my favorite ballads, “Roads to Moscow” by Al Stewart  and wonder what the story was. I knew the history behind it, but I wanted the story behind the history.

I looked it up when the song finally was digitalized, to discover the songwriter saying that he had read some forty books in order to write this ballad. I thought it then, and think it now, remarkable how an eight-minute ballad summed up the experience of uncounted Russian soldiers, many of whom trudged back and vanished, though apparently the song is actually a salute to Solzhenitsyn.

Continue reading

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The News From 2Dits Farm: The Downstairs Boarder

Gracie is sitting on the floor of the great room, nose almost to the pine boards, intently focused on whatever is going on down there.

photo credit: Ryan Hodnett @

“Has she had the babies?” I ask quietly, creeping down the stairs into the room. Then, from a few feet away, I hear what has caught my cat’s rapt attention: little mewlings are coming from under the floorboards.

My downstairs boarder is a mama again.

I should explain that when I added the great room onto the house, I had it built on piers rather than on a foundation, which means there’s a crawlspace under the room which is (theoretically) closed off with plywood-and-trellis panels. Evidently, it’s a four-star accommodation for a skunk doe who is looking to snuggle down for the winter and deliver her kits in an easily defensible place. It has the added advantage of being warmed a little by the heating vent into the room above. She’s got the equivalent of radiant heat in the ceiling. Canny lass.

I used to try to seal up the space down there, nailing hardware cloth to the bottom of the plywood panels, bending it outward along the ground and putting rocks on top to hold it, but no wire mesh is going to last long against a skunks’s persistent digging. Eventually I gave up and just accepted that these fur-folks are part of the farm, and if you want to get technical about it, I’m in their space just as much as the other way around, so, as long as everybody minds her own business, we can all live together peacefully. There has been only one notable Olfactory Incident under the floor. I’m not sure whether I had a deviated septum before that, but I do now. Normally, however, spraying isn’t a problem, and, as skunks are rodent killers, I figure Mrs. S. earns her keep.

Besides, the babies are adorable. Continue reading

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The Advantages of Group Readings

Elwin CotmanI really love it when SF/F conventions set up group readings rather than scheduling individuals in slots by themselves. Not only is this an advantage to the writer – imagine going to a con where you’re not well known and having no one show up for your reading – but it’s also an advantage to the audience.

Case in point: At FogCon, I attended a reading on Saturday evening because friends of mine were on the program. (I try to go readings by my friends whenever I can.) At the end of it, I bought a book by the one author on the program I didn’t know: Elwin Cotman. The book was his recent collection, Hard Times Blues, and I bought it because his reading blew me away.

It’s a fantastic book – in both senses of the word fantastic. Cotman combines modern life with fantastical speculation and gives us a new slant on reality. Continue reading

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Some Insight on the Editorial Process

THE RED became the first self-published novel nominated for the Nebula award. It will be re-published by Simon & Schuster’s Saga Press in June 2015.

(This post was originally published in April 2014 at the author’s personal blog

For those of you who are writers, I’d thought I’d talk a little about the editorial process behind my newest books.

The process I use to get a novel ready for publication is the same now as when I was traditionally published. I write the entire manuscript with no outside input. When I have a solid draft, I send it to one or more beta readers and then process their comments. This step can be repeated, though I usually don’t, in large part because experienced beta readers are always in short supply. So once I’ve worked through beta-reader comments, the manuscript is ready to be seen by a professional editor.

What does an editor do? It depends what you hire her for and how much detail work you’re after (or you need). The more experience you’ve had with writing, the less supervision you’re likely to need. I’ve written quite a few novels at this point, so I get an overall edit that looks mostly at structure and internal logic.

Judith Tarr served as editor for both The Red: First Light and The Trials. What Judy provides is a letter giving a general assessment of the novel, covering both its strengths and its weaknesses, and then the nitty gritty of specific comments, using Word’s comment feature to annotate the manuscript from beginning to end.

For The Red there were over 700 editorial comments. The Trials had only half that—either because Judy despaired or else she really did feel that The Trials was initially better written. ;-) Continue reading

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Going It Alone

There are all sorts of resources available for writers who want them: workshops, classes, beta readers, bars, books, peers, and people who just love to have you bounce ideas off them. They all have their virtues. Yet for some of us, it’s very hard to show what you’re working on to another person until you’re done and ready to send it off to be accepted, rejected, edited, published…  Yes, I’m one of those people.

Not entirely. I discovered early-ish in my writing career, when I was making the leap from Regency romances to Science Fiction, that a writing workshop could be a really, really, really useful thing. I have been part of a number of them over the years. I went to the Clarion Writers Workshop when it was still in East Lansing, Michigan, and it was a life-changing experience.  But when it comes to the other stuff it’s harder–it’s really hard–for me to let go and accept another person into my process. When I talk to writers who make full use of all those resources, I start to feel a little defensive. What’s wrong with me that I don’t have beta readers? There are a number of people who have offered and would, I’m sure, have a terrific effect on the work. and yet I have this weird reluctance, almost a skin-crawling aversion to the idea.

What’s up with that? Continue reading

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BVC Announces Of Myst and Folly by Leah Cutter

Of Myst and FollyA post-apocalyptic fairy tale.

Bombs destroyed all the major cities of the world almost two centuries ago.

The bombs opened rifts. Magic and myst flowed into the world.

Electronic devices no longer work. Only simple mechanical devices. Man learned to farm again, in curving rows that myst can’t gather in.

For decades, the myst has gained strength slowly. Destroyed people, fields, villages a little at a time. Because the myst is scattered, unfocused.

When the myst finds its champion, will man survive?

Continue reading

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Tracking Dog Wreckcellent

0711.connery.teeter.LJIt can be hard to work with genius.

Take Connery Beagle. He’s honest and hardworking and loves to sing his song of self, and did I mention honest? By which I mean internally as well as externally. He’s not so tangled in his inner thoughts that he gets in his own way.

But Dart’s an unusual boy. He vibrates with atomic intensity, he’s brilliant, and he desperately wants to be good and right. But he’s so emotional—and so completely devoid of impulse control—that he constantly gets in his own way. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Alma Alexander

alma_alexander2Alma Alexander

Interviewed by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel


Alma Alexander has the resume to be a storyteller. She was born on the banks of the blue Danube in a country whose name is but a memory. She left that home at ten, and lived in five countries on four continents before setting up shop in cyberspace.

When asked about her life, all she will say is that she was born six years before men walked on the moon, and is married to a man who wooed her in cyberspace and lured her to America. Alexander confesses only to being owned by a pair of cats, and being both a Cancer and a Water Rabbit.

But if you want to know about her stories, ah, that’s something else entirely. She can talk all day about storytelling, and about these children of her heart. From the shores of Syai, an Asian culture that she will convince you exists somewhere, through werewolves that will stun you and leave you open-mouthed, she has traveled to more than one far country of her own making. Nearly a score of novels and volumes of short stories attest to her joy in “dreaming for a living.” Continue reading

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State of the Farm


(Picture from here.)

It has been a long winter.

As I sit in this diner writing this I’m looking out at more snow falling. Enough already! We’ve broken the all time winter snow record. When will you Gods of Winter be satisfied with our misery? Must we sacrifice our children to appease you?

Hm. Ben’s been seventeen a lot lately…

<Deep breath>

Okay. Winter on the farm. Gotcha. Continue reading

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