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June 2012




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Jun. 29th, 2012

The endless road from 115K to 120K

I had the bright idea of reworking the first chapters of High Maga at the same time as I am writing the last chapters.  As a result, I'm shaving words off the front end while adding words to the back end, which has left the word count hovering around 117K for a few weeks now.  Despite the stagnant word count, I am closer to being finished, and I am really happy with how this novel is shaping up. 

Things have been soooooo busy, in a good way, but busy-ness and lack of regular internet access has kept me away from LJ. 

I'm in Costa Rica right now, participating in the Native American and Pacific Islander Research Experience (NAPIRE) program, at Las Cruces Biological Station.  This is an amazing site in the mountains of southern Costa Rica, near the Panamanian border.  I'm with a great group of people, students & fellow research mentors, as well as the program coordinatos & TAs.  The station is very comfortable, the forest accessible & beautiful.  Earlier this week, we also spent two nights at La Amistad Biosphere Reserve, which was just magnificent.  If you'd like to read more about La Amistad, including the legend of the duendes and some fun pictures of the forest, please visit my blog for Eolyn.

I haven't been around to remind people to stop by Heroines of Fantasy, so I'm going to do that now, too.  We have a great post this week from author Sharon Shinn, where she introduces us to several of the awesome women featured as protagonists in her novels. 

That's my news for the moment.  I'll try to be more consistent with my posts in coming weeks, but no guarantees.  I hope everyone is having a good summer.  Pura Vida.

Jun. 15th, 2012

Women and Science

I met this morning with Avila professor & colleague Carol Coburn to discuss the interdisciplinary course we will teach this fall, Women and Science.  This is the third time I've taught this course -- it's offered every even-numbered year in the fall -- and I am so excited to be doing it again.  In addition to talking about women's contributions to science, and barriers to women's participation in science, we will be taking an in-depth look at the lives and works of Hypatia of Alexandria, Rosalind Franklin and Barbara McClintock, among others.  Carol is new to the course, but not to the subject, and I think she's going to be a great teaching partner.

But, before we start the fall semester, I've got a few other things going on this summer.  Monday I am off to Costa Rica for a six-week stint doing field research at Las Cruces Biological Station.  To find out more about my plans -- and join the adventure -- read Back to the South Woods on my blog for Eolyn. 

Tomorrow (Saturday, June 16), I'll be in Emporia, KS, along with Hadley Rille editor Eric T. Reynolds & author Mary C. Chambers for the Sixth Annual Author Extravaganza.  This is a celebration of Kansas authors; 50 of us will be there, representing many different genres and approaches to story telling.  Books will be available for purchase and signing.  It's going to be a fun event, so if you happen to be in the area, do stop by.

Terri-Lynne DeFino is up this week on Heroines of Fantasy, and she's encouraging all of us to do something for ourselves.  Visit HoF to share your plans --  we'd love to hear them!

Next week on Heroines of Fantasy, it's my turn to post.  I've put together a fun list of non-fantasy titles that have inspired my work in fantasy fiction.  The post won't go live until Monday, June 18, but I'm telling you now because internet access might be sporadic, at best, in the days to come.  So I hope you will remember to join us on HoF (again!), and please accept my apologies ahead of time, if I'm a little slow at responding to your comments.

Wishing everyone a great weekend.

Pura Vida.

Jun. 7th, 2012

The True Adventures of Charley Darwin

Every once in a great while, I post a book review on Amazon/Goodreads.  It never occurred to me until today, that I could also crosspost reviews here.  So this is what I'm doing today: posting a review of the wonderful novel The True Adventures of Charley Darwin, by Carolyn Meyer, which I just finished last night.

But before we dig into the review, a couple news tidbits:

Author Kim Vandervort is up this week on Heroines of Fantasy with a great post on Summer Reading.  Stop by to see her recommendations, and share yours.

On my blog for EolynI'm offering a virtual tour of the Arkansas Ozarks, where we spent the last week trapsing through beautiful forests in search of pumas, dragons and other mystical creatures.  (You'll have to visit the blog to know what we found...) I'll also give you a sneak preview of one of the most important characters for the sequel to Eolyn, the lovely and courageous Adiana.  All this and more in my recent post Music in the Forest.

All in all, I've had a great start to the summer.  The Hadley Rille Fest during ConQuesT in Kansas City was just wonderful; lots of great authors & awesome story telling.  I really hope the HRB crew will all come back to KCMO for ConQuesT again next year.  After that, as I mentioned, I went to the Ozarks with my husband and a very good friend of ours.  And now I'm preparing for a new adventure in Costa Rica -- stay tuned for more news on that.

Pura Vida.

Now here's my review:

The True Adventures of Charley Darwin, by Carolyn Meyer

This wonderful YA historical novel relates the story of young Charles Darwin in a way that allows every reader to experience his journey of discovery.  We meet Charley as a boy who prefers to hunt newts in the quarry rather than study Latin and Greek in the classroom; we sympathize with his plight as a youth under immense pressure to pursue careers in which he has no interest; and we experience the excitement of destiny realized when the young man embarks on a perilous journey that will forever transform the way he (and the rest of the world) understands the origin and complexity of life.

Written in the voice of Charley Darwin, the text is accessible and thoroughly engaging for all readers who are young, and young at heart.  The story focuses on Charley as a person – his relationships with friends, family and cousins, his struggles with questions of career and marriage.  We see his curiosity, enthusiasm, courage and uncertainty, his humility and pride, his capacity for compassion and dedication to his work.  The romances with Fanny Owen and Emma Wedgewood are thoroughly charming in their awkwardness, heartache, and (in the case of one, at least) fulfillment. 

In her interpretation of the character of Charley Darwin, Meyer takes the myth out of the personae, and turns this sometimes controversial historical figure into an engaging young man we might have all admired and befriended, had we had the opportunity to know him personally.

Though Darwin’s coming of age takes center stage, the thread of science is constant throughout, allowing young readers a basic introduction to the foundations and logic of evolutionary theory as originally conceived by this brilliant natural historian. We see, step by small step, how Charley Darwin’s keen eye for natural history led him from a very early age toward the inevitable development of the theory that would revolutionize science and inaugurate a new era of biological inquiry.

Most of all, True Adventures is a great read.  I would recommend it without reservation for anyone interested in adventure, history, biology, evolution, exploration, and the ever-appealing theme of coming-of-age.

May. 18th, 2012

The Joy of Rewriting

I've heard authors complain about rewrites on occasion, but for me, the rewrite is one of the best parts of crafting a novel -- akin to opening up a coloring book, and filling all those white spaces with color.  The story inevitably becomes deeper and richer on the second pass; I have a clearer handle on the motivations of my characters, especially the minor ones; and all in all it's easier to see what's important and what's not, what to keep and what to drop.  The excitement I feel during a rewrite is even more heady that that initial inspiration that gets a novel started, because not only does it hit home just how much fun the story I'm writing really is, but even better, I'm almost done!

At the moment, I am simultaneously writing the final chapters of High Maga, while beginning the rewrites of the opening chapters.  It's a great experience.  An author friend of mine once told me that he knows how all his characters die -- whether they are slated to die in the novel at hand or not -- and that this adds dimension to his understanding of them.  I am not gifted with that level of foresight for all my characters, but once a novel is finished, or approaching finished, and the fates of the characters at hand are determined, I do find that it brings their personalities forward in a much more vivid fashion when I rewrite those earlier scenes. 

Last week I was at Virginia Beach with nine other women authors.  It was an amazing experience, and really jumpstarted my summer of writing.  On my blog for Eolyn, I write about VAB and more generally about how storytelling builds community.  Please stop by for a read when you have a chance.

On Heroines of Fantasy, Terri-Lynne DeFino is up with a post about Homecomings and Good-byes.  She's inspired some fun discussion, and I hope you will join us there if you haven't already.

Next week is going to be very exciting.  Kansas City's own ConQuest is Memorial Day Weekend, and several Hadley Rille Books authors are coming into town for the event.  As part of the festivities, Prospero's Bookstore will be hosting a meet-the-author event, High Adventure with Hadley Rille Books, on Thursday, May 24 at 6pm.  This is a great opportunity to meet some awesome authors of science fiction and fantasy; there will be readings, discussions and books available for purchase and signing. 

Then, at ConQuest itself, Hadley Rille will be launching Terri-Lynne DeFino's awesome new novel A Time Never Lived

As if all this weren't enough, we have a guest coming next week from Costa Rica, a very old friend of mine, Jose Rogelio.  We've been looking at options in the Arkansas Ozarks to take him sightseeing.  I've never been to that part of the country, though it is so close, and I am really looking forward to seeing it. 

I think that covers the news for the moment.  I'm done with grades & most meetings, but still have my year-end reports to finish up for spring semester.  It's hard to focus on that now, though, since I am just so very excited about my rewrite...

Wishing everyone a great weekend!

May. 2nd, 2012

Happy Birthday, Eolyn!

This is going to be one of those brief posts where I send you off in other directions.

May is Eolyn's birthday month, and Hadley Rille Books is celebrating with a variety of activities, including giveaways and special offers.  To see the full list of events, please visit my blog for Eolyn

While we're on the topic of birthday events, I should mention that the Goodreads Giveaway for Eolyn is coming up fast, on May 7.  If you haven't registered to win yet, please take a moment to visit the Eolyn Giveaway and sign up now.  You never know when you might get lucky!

On Heroines of Fantasy this week, our guest blogger is Mark Nelson, author of the soon-to-be-released Poets of Pevana.  Mark has written a great post questioning the use of the never-ending-series in the genre of fantasy.  He's sparked some nice discussion, which I hope you will be a part of.  Please visit his post, When is Enough, Enough?

This is the last week of classes at Avila.   Aaaaaaaagh!    That's all I have to say about that.

On Saturday, I travel to Virginia Beach for a week-long writing retreat with nine other women authors.  This might very well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it was offered to me most generously by my sister at Hadley Rille, Terri-Lynne DeFino.  I am very much looking forward to it, and hope to make some significant progress toward my goal of finishing High Maga this summer. 

I know a lot of you, like me, are on an academic schedule, so I hope things aren't too crazy for you right now.  I'll be back next week with more time and more to write.

In the meantime, please stop by Eolyn's Birthday Party and find out how you can join the fun.

Apr. 24th, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

I know it's a little late, but my Earth Day celebration is lasting the whole week.  (A little trick I learned in Costa Rica; birthdays last a week, major holidays a month, the family party a life time, and so on...)

On facebook I've been posting, day-by-day, links to the reflections I wrote last May as part of the Andrews Forest Writers Residency.  For any one who'd like to revisit all or part of that tour, here are the links all in one basket:

Born of Fire -- What the Douglas fir, Dragons and flying magas have in common

Old Growth Forest -- To what extent has wilderness given us our language?

Shades of Black -- Death and renewal in Andrews Forest

Lookout Creek -- Waterways as a place where different worlds meet

Legends in the Making -- Why every epic fantasy author needs a forest

The World I Want to Live In -- Who the true losers are when we raze old growth forest

Animating the Forest -- Why biologists cannot anthropomorphize, but writers must

The Landscape of my Imagination -- Is the deforestation of our world reflected in the deforestation of our writing?

I suggest taking them one day at a time, or picking and choosing whatever piques your interest.  In either case, enjoy!

In other news, Hadley Rille Books is sponsoring a Goodreads Giveaway for EOLYN, part of the celebration for the anniversary of the novel's release, coming up in May.  Members of Goodreads can register to win a free signed copy. If you aren't a member, you can sign up -- it's free, easy and fun.  The drawing is on May 7.

Also, EOLYN now has a CafePress store!  Eolyn t-shirts, totes, mugs and more are available, all featuring original cover art by Jesse Smolover.  There are a lot of fun items, and what can I say?  Jesse's art looks great on a t-shirt!  Have a look at the store and see if there's something you like.  If there's an item you don't see in the store, but would like to have a chance to purchase, let me know & I will have it added.

Those are the updates for this week.  More news next.  Now please, if you haven't already, go plant a tree!

Apr. 20th, 2012

The Final Stretch

We're heading into the last 2 weeks of classes --  a very busy time, so I may not be posting much for a little while. 

It's already been a week since Down to Earth 2012, Hadley Rille Books' meet-the-author event and Earth Day celebration.  We had a great afternoon with a small but enthusiastic audience.  Readings were followed by a very interesting discussion about environment and environmental issues in the context of fantasy.  If you'd like to see photos, visit my album for Down to Earth 2012 on Facebook.

May is going to be a big month at Hadley Rille.  We are setting up several activities to celebrate Eolyn's birthday, including a Goodreads Giveaway.  Members of Goodreads can register to win a free signed copy.  (If you aren't a member, consider signing up -- it's easy, free and fun.)  The drawing is at midnight on May 7.

Coupled with the giveaway, I'm organizing a Goodreads Q&A forum starting May 15.  I'll be talking about this more further down the line, but just wanted to put it on your radar.

At the end of May, we have Kansas City's own ConQuest.  About 10 HRB authors will be in attendance, including Terri-Lynne DeFino, who will be launching her wonderful new novel, A Time Never Lived.  There will be a meet-the-author event at Prospero's Books on the eve of ConQuest, followed by lots of fun activities at the conference itself.  As the details firm up, I'll be posting them here.

High Maga slipped over 110K last week.  I've been contemplating 'measures of progress' a little since then, and thinking again about how I don't really like word counts all that much, just because there's so much more involved in writing than adding a certain number of words.  And in truth, often times as I edit and clean up, the word count goes down, which I tend to see as a good thing.  And what about the process of switching out the old words -- the bad ways of saying things -- for new words & better ways of saying things?  Word count remains more or less constant when we do this, and yet it is a very important component of progress toward the finished novel. 

Anyway.  All this to say, 110K is nothing to sneeze at, but that number will probably remain unchanged now for a couple weeks, because I have many details to mull over -- another important task of 'writing' that doesn't increase the word count -- before launching into the next set of chapters. 

We're still looking at 130K to finish out the novel.  And I'm still projecting it'll be done sometime during the summer months.

Signing off for a little while now.  Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Apr. 11th, 2012

Spring Fever

I feel it in my blood, and see it in my students' faces.  The season of wanting-to-be-anywhere-but-in-this-classroom has arrived.

Updates for this week:

Please please stop by and read my post 'Eternal Forest' on Heroines of FantasyIt's important; a topic I want everyone to be thinking about with Earth Day around the corner.

Friday April 13th is Down to Earth 2012, Hadley Rille Books' meet-the-author extravaganza at the Jayhawk Ink bookstore in Lawrence, KS.  Science fiction and fantasy authors James Gunn, Christopher McKitterick, M.C Chambers, and I will be there, along with founder and editor of Hadley Rille Books, Eric T. Reynolds.  Readings start at 4pm, followed by signings until 5:30pm.   Hope to see you there!

Next week, I'll be starting Eolyn's birthday bash, leading up to the first year anniversary of her release on May 7.  Stay tuned for more details. 

That's enough time on the internet.  I'm going back out in the sun, now.  And you should, too.

Mar. 29th, 2012

Down to Earth

This summer I'll be participating in the Native American and Pacific Islander Research Experience (NAPIRE) Program, run by the Organization for Tropical Studies at Las Cruces Biological Station, near San Vito, Costa Rica.  The last time I participated in NAPIRE was in the summer of 2010, and I'm very excited to be returning this year. 

NAPIRE gives undergraduate students who are Native Americans and Pacific Islanders the opportunity to conduct ecological research at one of the premier field stations in the Neotropics.  It is a FUN program, a lot of hard work, but you spend six weeks in a beautiful premontane forest (see my office at Las Cruces, pictured on the left), enjoying the most comfortable accomodations and the best food I have ever experienced in the field, and meeting a lot of great people from diverse backgrounds.   

I just met my students via email last week:  Aliah Irvine from the University of Hawaii, and Steven Pillman from the University of Guam.  Aliah and Steven will probably be working on some aspect of the ecology of Piper ant-plants, a group of plants in the peppercorn family that participate in a symbiotic mutualism with ants.  We'll be discussing details by email in the weeks to come, and will have about 5 to 6 weeks to complete their field projects once we arrive in Costa Rica. 

I am very excited.  (Except when I think about filling out the application for our research permits.  Then I just groan.  But that won't be too bad.  After all, what paperwork doesn't kill you makes you stronger...  I just have to get on it.  Like, yesterday.  Or last week.)

Coming up much sooner than NAPIRE is Down to Earth 2012, an Earth Day celebration and signing event hosted by Hadley Rille Books and Jayhawk Ink at the University of Kansas on April 13.  Several area HRB authors will be there, including science fiction icon James Gunn, the Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, Christopher McKitterick, M.C. Chambers, and myself.  Master of Ceremonies will, of course, be Eric T. Reynolds, founder and editor of Hadley Rille Books.  The event will feature the launch of Aftermaths, an anthology of short stories set in possible futures unleashed by climate change.  But all of our novels and anthologies will be available for purchase and signing -- including Eolyn-- and we will be doing short readings as well. 

If you are in the Lawrence area on April 13, please stop by to say hi.  If you have friends in the area who are into science fiction and fantasy, please let them know about this event, as I'm sure they will enjoy it.  We'll be at the University of Kansas Bookstore in the Kansas Union from 4:00-5:30pm. 

Heroines of Fantasy this week is hosting author Sandra McDonald, who followed up on Kim's latest post with her own take on costuming for women warriors.  Please stop by to read and comment on her thought-provoking post, Sensible Clothing for Heroines

Those are my updates for the moment.  I hope everyone is having a good week. 

Mar. 22nd, 2012


I've been listening a lot lately to this song, composed by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelmen for the movie The Last of the Mohicans. In part because I like the music, but also it's my opinion that the climactic sequence set to 'Promontory' is perhaps one of the best I've ever seen in film. I mean, it has everything.  By the time we get to this point in the film, we are thoroughly engaged in the fate of the characters.  Within a few action-packed minutes, we are fed some of the best elements of story-telling:  ultimate sacrifice, narrow escapes, bitter acts of mercy, courage and valor, tragic loss, more tragic loss, the triumph of true love, but at great cost.  It's a sequence like no other, and I like to reflect on it now, as I approach the crafting of my own climax for High Maga, in the hopes of absorbing some of that genius, having a bit of it flow into the final chapters of my new novel.

I had a great time last weekend hanging out with Terri-Lynne DeFino and Lawrence M. Schoen at Lunacon.  We gave some fun panels and met interesting folks.  I'm very glad I went, though the con was much more focused on gaming than I anticipated.  Now I'm contemplating WorldCon in Chicago -- to go or not to go?  I think I will go.  There just never seems to be quite enough money to feel comfortable committing to another con.

This has been a good week for Eolyn on Amazon.  Two new customer reviews have popped up in the last few days, both five stars.  Here's what those readers have to say:

"I have a hard time finding books that I like, but this one is fabulous.  I couldn't put it down." 

"I loved this book...it was wonderful...delightful...exciting...I couldn't put it down and was surprised with the unpredictable ending. I can only hope that that there is continuation of the Eolyn saga! PLEASE GIVE US MORE!"

That was a nice boost to my week, and good incentive to keep writing.  :)

Kim Vandervort is up on Heroines of Fantasy this week, and has written a really fun post on short skirts and big swords.  Please stop by to read her thoughts and share yours.  (I admit, I haven't been to HoF since Monday, and am feeling guilty about that, but I will try to get back to it today...)

On my blog for Eolyn, I talk a little about the origin of Eolyn's name, and also list some of the exciting events and signings that are just around the corner, including Hadley Rille Books' Earth Day extravaganza, Down to Earth 2012, a meet-the-author event featuring various works of science fiction and fantasy, including HRB's new anthology, Aftermaths. 

I have to wrap up now; on my way to the dentist to have a crown put in.  Oh, joy. 

Have a good rest of the week and a great weekend.

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