Monday, August 31, 2015

The Reading Addict Showcases In Heaven's Shadow

I have an article up today at The Reading Addict as part of my ongoing blog tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. Like so many readers, I want a book to take me away to new places, to experience adventures with people I don't know but would like to. I love immersing myself in new worlds, new places, and new cultures.

In "Writer, Take Me Away!" I talk about how this applies to my own writing, and particularly In Heaven's Shadow, my Civil War ghost story/fantasy that blends my love of history with my love of fantasy and—almost!—meets my original goal for my writing career. I fully intended to get a history degree and then happily settle into writing historical fiction for the rest of my life. Really.

Somehow, that didn't happen! But I enjoy the heck out of what I write, and I hope you all do too. 

If you comment on the article you could win a $15 Amazon gift certificate. Hop on in and leave your thoughts!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Saving the irreplaceable

Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to the news by now knows that my native state is burning. We have over 500,000 acres on fire in Washington alone and a million in the northwest, not to mention Canada, California, and Montana. The smoke has not cleared at all this week and is likely to get worse when the dust kicks up tomorrow as predicted. My pastures are cooked, the woods around my house are tinder, and I live in daily dread of a flicked cigarette taking everything I own.

So, my camper is still on the truck, currently hooked to my horse trailer, and I have uploaded the irreplaceable things as well as the legal documents required to re-establish identity and satisfy various government agencies, etc. That includes photo albums, because, yes, it is ever so difficult to replace 100-year-old pictures of dead people.

My parents as happy young newlyweds
In the general roundup of family mementos, I rediscovered my mother's diaries. She kept them faithfully, every day, for the first ten years my parents were married, then abruptly abandoned them one day a couple of months after her mother died and never made another entry. They are filled with the minutiae of a young housewife's everyday life in the 1950s, compounded by the difficulties of just starting out with no money, building their own house (literally, Dad built it with his own hands), cranky well pumps, crankier clunker cars quitting and getting stuck in our long, unimproved driveway at home, and a million daily difficulties. Chasing calves figures highly. She mentions many times that they slept in on weekends "as late as the kids would let us." Mea culpa!

What strikes me most, though, is how close and supportive my parents' combined families were. There are a million mentions of Dad's mother coming out from town to clean and help with us kids over the years, of her father and mine working together to fix machinery, harvest peas and wheat, doctor calves, and generally pitch in when needed at both places. This was especially apparent in the weeks following the birth of us four kids, when the various grandparents were very much in evidence helping out by babysitting my older siblings, cleaning, cooking, etc. Plus, the close-knit community of friends and neighbors is very much in evidence, ready to help out and be helped in turn. How I wish our modern communities were that connected.

It is odd to know that your mother did her usual chores on the day you were born, sauntered leisurely to the hospital at 10 p.m. and delivered at 11:40, interesting to be rated "a very good baby", and to know that though named Susan after a large host of relatives on both sides, I was Sue to my mother from day one. And I am humbled that not once in all those tough years did she complain. Only once does pain come through, in the truncated entries after her mother's death, and in one quiet "Didn't DO (underlined) anything" on a particular day a month into the grieving process. In a life filled with a busy round of caring for kids, helping my dad on the farm, ferrying kids to school, stopping in for coffee with neighbors on the way home, ironing, vacuuming, canning, weeding the vegetable garden, washing clothes, tending house, etc.--this was a cry from the heart, a mark of depression so profound she could not bestir herself to get anything done and felt guilty enough about it to mark it in her diary. The next day she persevered, carrying on because all that stuff still needed to get done no matter how she felt.

I have always adored and admired my parents and I wish they were still here to tell them so. Mom, I miss you, and admire you even more now. You weren't just a housewife. You were the rock of our family's existence, and nothing ever broke you. Yours was, all in all, a life well lived. Thank you.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sasquan fun

Wow. I just want to give a big shout-out to all the fans who turned up for the very last panel on the very last day of Sasquan and made it so much fun. The panelists all thought we would end up talking to ourselves; instead, the room was almost full, the audience was wide-awake and lively, and asked a ton of great questions. That was awesome! Guys, let's do that again someday.

To all who were there: I promise a new Horses in Fiction post in the very near future. If you have questions or a particular subject you would like covered, please post it in the comments. Until then, thanks for coming and I hope you had as much fun as I did.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cover reveal! The Heart of God

Aaaaand (drumroll), Peter Benchley has released the cover for the third book in my Fate's Arrow series, "The Heart of God." He chose to illustrate a scene in the book where the hero, Alarion Aravon, finds himself in over his head with a girl. You see, Alarion is a bit shy around the opposite sex, and has never yet nerved himself to notice an orvi, one of the courtesans of the Sevakandi court. So when it comes times to help his brother, King Traven, choose a queen, Alarion happily throws candidates at him, feeling himself safe from having to do anything but dance with them.


The candidates feel a bit differently. Two of them are enamored with him, and one of them is not at all shy about advancing her case. He is angry and embarrassed (because, let's face it, he really doesn't know what to do about her), and Elenya just isn't interested in taking no for an answer.

I loved writing this book partly because Alarion is so clueless about women. It's a bit of a Shakespearean farce, actually, with everyone at cross purposes and misreading everyone else. I deliberately use a lot of POVs (points of view), sometimes even in the same scene, because I wanted the reader to be clued in to whatever the various characters are thinking about each other even as the characters themselves remain baffled.

The warfare in this book is far from the battlefield and ever so polite, though not without bloodshed. Here is no polite negotiation between Great Houses to throw two young people who've never met into a political alliance of convenience. In Sevakand, the King chooses his own bride from available candidates and the women are free to refuse. The consequences of a wrong choice are grim for all concerned, hence the invitation to Yarom for all parties to get to know each other. A bit like "The Bachelor," I suppose. With knives.

Will Alarion finally lose his virginity? Will the object of his affection remain within his reach, or end up his brother's queen? Will scheming Elenya get her hooks into the King--or Alarion? And what is Fate's intention in bringing three so very different women together to battle for the queen's crown?

Enter to win a copy of "The Heart of God" by leaving a comment with your take regarding the cover. The book will be available later this month. Watch for the official release!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Catching up and Worldcon schedule

Holy cats, could the last two weeks have been any more of a whirlwind? Why is getting ready to go on vacation so stressful? Answer: another question. How can a camper that has been quietly parked for a year need $1300 worth of repair? Aaack. I opened the door to put something inside, slammed the door...and the entire right-side window shattered into a jillion little pieces. And that was before I even put it on the truck. Groan.

Plus, the two roof vents that I knew were cracked and needed replacing turned into all of the vents having developed cracks around the base (and in their little plastic roofs), so all of the covers got replaced and the roof sealed. Thank goodness I keep it tarped all the time or it probably would have been worse. Then, of course, the propane tank turned out to be out of date (and the wrong type) which means I couldn't have gotten it refilled if I had tried, which meant a whole new tank, and... is camping really worth this?

Oh, yes. I joined my brother and sister and their spouses and a couple of their kids and helped pack in materials for the Forest Service in the Idaho panhandle. The Backcountry Horsemen of Washington and Idaho have partnered up to pack bridge timbers and decking and other stuff in where mechanized vehicles can't go or aren't allowed. The Northwest Youth Corps is rebuilding the trails, and doing a fine job, too. This particular trail happened to lead through old-growth cedar groves that have never been logged, so it was like riding through the forest primeval. Just wonderful. Exactly what the doctor ordered!

That is not me, obviously, as I was on the third horse back taking the picture. It was nice to just ride along and play photographer!

I have a bit of lull to catch my breath this week, though I am preparing for a rather intense blog tour that begins next Monday at Unabridged Andra's. Be sure to comment at any of the blog stops listed here to win a $15 Amazon gift certificate.

Then, eek! It's Worldcon already, being hosted right here in my home town of Spokane. That begins next Wednesday the 19th. Here is my schedule:

Thursday August 20, 12:00-12:30
Room 301, Convention Center

I'll be reading from one of my books, most likely "The Heart of God," Book 3 of the Fate's Arrow series.

Friday August 21, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Room 300C, Convention Center

Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading. Twenty writers will read for five minutes each, a marvelous cornucopia of fantasy, SF, alternate history, erotica, and everything in between.

Saturday, August 22, 11:00-11:45Exhibit Hall B, Convention Center
Autograph session. Come and get your books signed!

Sunday, August 23, 12:00-12:45

SpoCon Presents: Sex of the Future
"A tongue-in-cheek, no holds barred, innocent exploration of the crazy things modern (or ancient) heroes have had sex with and speculation on what happens next."

Sunday, August 23, 14:00-14:45
Spokane Falls Suite A/B, Doubletree Hotel

The Road Goes Ever On...Realistic Journeying Before (or After) Motor Travel
How do pre- (or post-) auto travelers manage to cross continents without combustion engines? Do you carry food or hunt it? What about moving small groups or whole armies? How do fantasy quests compare to post-apocalyptic wanderings or to warfare on foot?

And there you go! I do hope to see some of you at Sasquan. If you can't come to the convention, I'll keep you posted as to the blog tour and hope to chat then.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fun with Unicorns (and Karina Fabian)

My guest today is Karina Fabian, whose books are always a good romp through some interesting places. But I'll let her tell you herself:

I’d like to thank Sue for hosting me on the Mind Over All tour. The books follow the adventures of Deryl, a human whose psychic abilities drive him insane. Not only is he dealing with the unwanted thoughts of others, but two aliens on opposite sides of a war are trying to use him to help them defeat the other. He fights his way back to sanity, pushes off their influence and travels to their worlds to begin peace and eventually save both worlds form destruction. If you’re interested in learning more, please check out the Mind Over trilogy page on my website.

As with any fantasy world, there are fantastical creatures in it. Since Sue is an accomplished horsewoman, and I’m sure folks here are interested in equines, I thought I’d share a little about the unicorns of Kanaan. Unicorns are a fun standard, but I didn’t want to do the usual pristine white horse with the flowing mane and the graceful spiral horn. Since they were supposed to be warriors in their own right, I decided to toughen them up. And I wanted them to fly, but wings were too clichĂ©. So, I switched things up a bit. Here’s a description from Mind Over All, where Sachiko, a human, sees one for the first time. Joshua, her fiancĂ©, has been to Kanaan before and made good friends with several unicorns.
“I do well enough if the horse is gentle,” Sachiko said when Josh just shrugged.
“They’re not exactly horses,” Deryl replied as he psychically called to the beasts waiting at the edge of the nearby woods.
While roughly horse-like in form and face, the riding beasts had heavy, thick shoulders and necks, and their broad foreheads bore a rhinoceros-like horn.  Their equine legs had folds of skin that attached to the sides.  There were three, and when they approached Deryl, they bowed politely in his direction.
Sachiko dropped her stethoscope.
Deryl snickered.  For a long time, he’d imagined her reaction when he could finally bring her to Kanaan, but of course, he’d planned on better circumstances.  Any circumstances would have been better than this, but with Tasmae asleep where Kanaan could not reach her, and Hope safe, he let his amusement at her reaction lighten his mood.  “Don’t worry.  They’re gentle.”
Joshua snorted.  On his first ride, the unicorn had jumped off a cliff with no warning.
“What…are they?” Sachiko asked.
“Joshua calls them ‘unicorns,’” Deryl teased, but Joshua was wiping Sachiko’s stethoscope with the corner of his shirt to put it away and didn’t bother to reply.
One of the unicorns bumped Joshua on the shoulder, nearly knocking him forward.
“Hey!” Joshua protested, but then did a double take.  “Glory?”
The unicorn tossed her head in a nod and blew on his dreadknots.  Joshua laughed and jumped to his feet to give the unicorn a hug.  “I know.  I grew out my hair.  Like them, baby?  How are you?  Have you been good, have you?” He crooned and snuggled against the unicorn as it continued to examine his hair. 
Joshua’s sweet talking apparently soothed Sachiko’s apprehensions.  In a few minutes, they had their packs on their backs.  The largest of the unicorns, a lovely bay with white stockings to match the white fuzz on his horn, kneeled in front of Deryl.  He mounted…
Here’s the scene from Mind Over Psyche, the second book in the trilogy, where Glory jumped off a cliff with Joshua. This was less than an hour after he and Deryl had arrived, unplanned and unwelcomed, on Kanaan, so to say she took him by surprise is an understatement.

They cleared the grove and paused at the edge of a cliff.  Joshua’s hand lowered slowly as he gaped at the magnificent view.  He whistled.
A gorge cut through the plateau, but he didn’t think any river had carved it.  For one thing, he saw no river or stream, despite the lush vegetation.  The cliff walls themselves were craggy and bare, and he spied shadows that made him suspect caves.  To his left, the canyon curved sharply; to his right, it opened about a mile away, the cliffs curling away without losing their height.  Were they on some gigantic mesa?  He turned his body slightly and leaned back, trying to look past the soldiers around him to follow the edge of the land.
He felt his unicorn bunch her muscles, and reflexively grabbed her mane as the animal threw herself over the cliff.
Joshua screamed.
His shout of terror turned to a cry of surprise, then a great whoop of delight as the unicorn shifted her shoulders and in an un-equine feat of double-jointedness, spread her legs sideways from her body.  The folds of flesh attached to her legs and side unfurled into great gliding wings.  She banked and soared into the canyon, landing just before it curved to the right.  Two of the warriors, then Tasmae, landed beside him.
“That was way cool,” he gasped, then said to Tasmae, “but how about some warning next time?”
She glared at him before retaking the lead.
You can read more about Glory – and Joshua, Sachiko and of course, Deryl – in the Mind Over trilogy.

About Karina:

By day, Karina is a mild-mannered reviewer of business software and services for After hours, she’s a psychic intent on saving the world; a snarky dragon who thinks he saves the world all-too regularly, a zombie exterminator who just wants her world clear of undead vermin, and nuns whose callings have taken them off our world. Needless to say, her imagination is vast, her stories legion, and her brain crowded. When she’s not converting her wild tales to stories, she’s enjoying time with her husband, Rob, their four kids, and their two dogs.  

Find Karina at:

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Thank you, Karina, for sharing you work with us today. Who wouldn't want a flying unicorn?