New Book: Robot Daughter

Holy crap! Yes! Okay, super excited to announce…I’m self-publishing a book for the first time. As in, it will be available for sale and there will be pages with words and numbers and a cover on the front.

A cover!

Robot Daughter and Other Stories, cover art

Robot Daughter and Other Stories

What if you could have the body of your dreams? What if you ended up with the body of someone else’s dreams? What if you had to walk away from everything you knew just to make it to tomorrow?

In ROBOT DAUGHTER, seven people find ways to make it to that tomorrow in a world where high-tech avatars offer an alternative to human bodies, but there is always a price to pay.

ROBOT DAUGHTER is a One Afternoon Adventure, running about 3500 words, and consists of flash fiction stories from a single world.

I am embarrassingly excited about this. It is tentatively scheduled to come out the middle of September, but there is still so much work to do before then, all of it things I’ve never done before. So, uh, I might be overly ambitious with that release date. On the other hand! I might get done sooner than I expect. Look, I can hope, right?

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Teamwork: Librarian

Yes, okay, this is going to be a thing now. Teamwork Tuesdays! Because I am a geek and I like playing this game.

So, there is once again a reason for choosing this position to fill. I’m currently going through my grandmother’s belongings after her death (nope, don’t want to talk about it, thanks) with my family and sorting out who is taking what. This is the last thing I really needed to be doing because I’m going to be moving (eventually, yes, I’ll talk about it, not now) and did not need more stuff. So full of things is my house. God. Things.

And the thing is, it’s not like I didn’t have a friggin’ ton and a half of books. I should not be volunteering to take more. But but but. Look at this thing–!

family Bible cover

Cover

Bible title page

title page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Please click for larger images.)

It’s a family Bible from 1882 and it is the most amazing thing. It is full of these pen and ink illustrations. It has what might be the finest old book smell ever. The cover, if you can’t tell from the photos, is tooled leather and gold leaf. It is also showing its age very badly. The front cover and first few pages are loose and, as you can see, the spine is falling apart.

family Bible damaged spine

Spine

illustration of Babel

illustration — the Tower of Babel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I need a librarian and a book restorer and maybe a miracle worker. And I know just who can do all that: my librarian teammate is the angel Aziraphale, from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. I mean, yes, Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, excellent, but I need more than just a research partner, even if his collection is lovely. I need Aziraphale around to brush a finger over even the most hopeless of old books and make them tighten up their bindings like a lady cinching up her corset laces.

Aziraphale would be particularly delighted with this volume, I think because–just, look, this is awesome.

comparative chronologies

comparative biblical chronologies, including Ussher

It has this timeline of Jesus’ lineage, with Adam and the world beginning in 4004 B.C. Just like the opening pages of Good Omens, though it doesn’t mention it being October 21 at 9:00 AM. This is just the best thing ever. This is a real thing in the world. 4004 B.C., the world was created, oh, man, I can’t even.

 

 

 

Please, Aziraphale, you gotta help me out here. Do a part-time witch and charming sort of heathen a favor and fix this up for me.

timeline of Jesus

timeline of Jesus, starting with Adam

world begins in 4004 B.C.

close-up of the 4004 B.C. starting date for the world

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Teamwork: Squashing Enemies

(No real spoilers ahead, but some vague discussion of content, if that’s something you’re concerned about.)

I saw Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters today. I enjoy a good-bad action movie, especially a fantasy-themed one. I found this one to be a little too fast and heavy on the violence–I dislike it when it starts to verge into brutality, rather than fisticuffs. Also, the big battle scene seemed like a gallery of nonconforming female bodies and the fun ways to kill them, which, you know, doesn’t fill me with joy. But it was a fun kind of stupid, for the most part.

It also got me thinking about teamwork–my personal fantasy football-type team of tropes and character types and which fictional characters I would most like to have filling the spots. So. Squashing your enemies. The troll in H&G is swell and it is pretty damn satisfying to watch him pulp some unpleasant fellows. I’m all for fighting my own battles, but sometimes you need an ally who can just stomp the other side flat.

For my enemy-squashing teammate, I would have to go with the Hulk, as he appears in The Avengers. Indestructible, excellent at squashing things, and loyal to teammates such that I’m not likely to get squashed as well. (This is why Godzilla would be a poor choice–full points for squashiness, negative about a million for damage from friendly fire.) I’d keep a second choice open for Fezzik from The Princess Bride, because he is a complete delight, but he’s not invulnerable and I would worry.

Any other suggestions?

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Elders of Fiction: A Love Letter from #BookFest

Dear Elders of Fiction,

I hope you don’t mind me calling you that. It’s just that I’m still a baby, really, and you have been writing for a long time. I just wanted to say how much I like listening to you. Every year, I go to the LA Times Festival of Books and I listen. I listen to you talk about feminism and board games and switching mediums and raising children. I listen to two-person interviews and four person panels. I listen because there is so much I don’t know yet, so much I want to have for myself.

Yesterday, I listened to Margaret Atwood and Orson Scott Card and a panel of science writers that included K.C. Cole (okay, so that should read “Elders of Fiction and Nonfiction,” but let’s not get too prosaic here). The thing I took away from this year is the idea that we make up our lives as we go along. I listened to all of you and I heard you writing lives of joy. You are, if you don’t mind me saying so, kind of geeky people. I am too. You talk about ideas with such affection and excitement and baffled joy. Look, there are so many neat things in the world, isn’t that swell? I think so too.

I’ve been having a hard time lately. I needed someone to tell me that I can write a better life for myself. I needed someone to tell me that the real world is really a fiction we make up. I needed someone to tell me to break the rules and do what I want. Maybe none of you really said any of those things. Maybe the themes you thought you were talking about are not the themes I heard. I needed to hear them, though, and there you were. Full of joy. Undeterred. Cranky and geeky and in love with your work and your world.

I am making a place for myself in the world of fiction. It starts at your feet, listening to stories. I love to listen to you. I love what I hear. Thank you.

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Andrew, 1997-2012

(Once again, it has taken me several weeks to get to a head space where I can write this. This isn’t exactly the “Happy holidays and good luck in the new year” post I would have chosen, but life just loves to be a kick in the teeth.)

Andrew was a cockatiel, brightly colored and noisy. He was the first pet I went out and obtained for myself. He was also the only pet I ever bought. I was 11 and, at that point, the way my family obtained animals was either to buy them or to have them show up on our doorstep.

I wanted a cockatiel because my friend had one and, after pet sitting while her family went on vacation, I thought they seemed like swell pets. I spent weeks getting books on parrots from the library, making sure I was choosing the right pet for me and would know how to take care of one. This was how I would prove to my parents that I was responsible enough to deserve a new pet.

Research only goes so far. Living is the real test. I figured out, not long into my life with Andrew, that I am not, in fact, a bird person. I was as ill-suited to birds as I was naturally at ease with dogs. But a pet is forever and I would make the best of it. “The best” turned out to be as complicated as ever.

Andrew hated most people. He also hated sheets, towels, jackets, any large expanse of fabric. He hated loud noises and sudden movements and my father. He expressed his displeasure with screaming. Incessant, ear-splitting screaming. The hatred was often mutual.

He loved me, though. He loved corn chips and the first English version of the Pokemon theme song, with which he could sing along, and stealing my earrings while I wore them. He loved me and we made it work.

I keep hearing him. I’ve said it before: grief lurks in routine. He had a noise he would make throughout the day, like a bat’s chirp, like a vocal “?,” pinging the world around him. And I just keep hearing that sound and waiting for him either to bellow or to sing, depending on what the world answers back. I keep wanting to answer too, but he’s not here. A song has gone out of my world.

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NaNoWriMo, once more with feeling

It’s that time of year again. I will once again be participating in National Novel Writing MonthNaNoWriMo Participant badge. I had seriously planned on last year being my last NaNo, at least for a while. It can be inconvenient, as someone who writes (er, sort of) full-time, to juggle my schedule and planning around to leave November free to write another (no, god, another?) new long project. Also, my track record of actually revising my NaNovels into something usable is dismal. Like, make me fall asleep crying in despair, dismal.

On the other hand, I am

a) not doing anything better with my time except making a whole host of little plush jellyfish keychains (I’m thinking of selling them. Thoughts? Warnings? Suggestions for voluntary admission to psychiatric wards? All are welcome and probably needed.)

and b) still very much in love with the hectic enthusiasm of NaNoWriMo.

So I’m doing it again. Last year, when I did two novellas, I did have a better time of actually finishing the plots of the damned things. Hell, I’ve even been editing one. This time, I’m going for 60k of one short novel. Yes, it’s part of a series, or will be, because I haven’t been taken over by pod people yet. I’m still me, therefore, series. It might qualify as young adult, but that’s a bit of genre quibbling that I’m not going to worry about right now. I have multiple places I could put it and that’s good enough for me. Also, I’m back on fantasy because sometimes, what I really need are giant spiders and god-powered horseless carriages.

The novel currently has the unglamorous working title Gods & Butlers: Friends Divided: When a hard-luck teen runs away to become house god, the best friend trying to bring her home ends up with the wrong family and must bridge a feud to reach her.

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Victor, 1983-2012

This is a couple weeks after the fact. I sort of feel hollow, a little blank, whenever I think about it. I’m not sad, not exactly. I am grieving, which it turns out isn’t always the same thing.

Victor died because he was old and sick and, at last, just too tired to go on. He lived with Cushing’s Syndrome and foundered hooves that looked like they had been formed from slowly cooling waves of lava, rippled and misshapen. He lived that way for years because he was too ornery to die. So we kept him going, with supplements and special feed and not pain medication because his kidneys tried to fail. In the last couple years, he even improved, hooves growing true again and eating with gusto. Horrid looking, but not going anywhere. There was absolutely no reason why he should have stayed alive as long as he did, but he just kept hanging in there. Until he didn’t.

He was born here, three years before I was, and he, like most of our horses, would have gone to the track to try his luck there. Except my mother started training him and saw how he could jump and claimed him for her own. He was spectacularly talented and revoltingly intelligent. The stories about him primarily center around smart-ass trainers, giving lessons to my mother, trying to get Victor in trouble–higher jumps, more complicated lines. No human ever outsmarted him. His partnership with her was like what you see in fiction–two people (detectives, twins, things that come in pairs or not at all) so totally in tune with each other, it’s like they’re one mind.

He was not the first horse I sat on, but he was the first horse I learned to ride, flopping around on a saddle with Victor on a lunge line. Horses are one of those rare animals that you can spend all of your adult life with. Twenty-nine years for my mother. All of my life. There was never a day when he wasn’t there.

Now I can’t figure out how to mourn for him because I just don’t recognize life without him. Routine is where grief waits: the hundred moments in a day when you think of someone and remember. You remember they won’t be where you look for them, they won’t need you to take care of them, they won’t happen this day or any other.

If there is such a thing as a good death, Victor’s was one. He died because it was time, because all things do, eventually. After losing so many young horses in the past few years to sudden, horrific illnesses, I thought, let there just be one who is old and done. That will be easier.

It isn’t.

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