Garnets to Opals, Necklace of Gems

What, then should a collection of gemmed necklaces be? A pirate’s treasure, of course.

cover of Necklace of Gems short story collection

Dig among within the treasure chest for the prettiest gems…

Another milestone! I’ve published my first dead tree book of fiction. This is a collection of my short fiction from 2015. I finished five collections, and themed each collection on gems for the cover art: garnet, amber, lapis, citrine, and opal. Don’t we all like something that’s shiny or sparkly? I always wanted to make the entire year available as one collection. A handful of stories at a time was not enough when I was having book binges before I wrote. I had a couple of requests for paperback editions of the earlier collections, but they’re much too short to be worth the physical copy overhead. This time you have the choice of ebook or paperback.

This paperback and ebook editions include all the stories in the five necklace collections, plus two extras. One was part of an invitational Advent project, and the other was specifically written to be a bonus for the 2015 collection. That makes thirty-seven tales of fantasy and science fiction in the Necklace of Gems collection. All are short, but some are part of a larger story, like the SF Curiosity Station.

And now it’s time to pick a new theme for my fiction collections for 2016, so I’ll try to make a good one…

And if you want to give my fic a try or don’t want to wait for the next omnibus, the smaller collections should do:

Earlier Collections:

Necklace of  Opals collection

Necklace of opals…

Necklace of Citrine collection cover

Necklace of Citrine

Necklaced of Lapis SF/F short stories

Necklace of Lapis

Necklace of Amber short story collection

Necklace of Amber

Necklace of Garnet short story collection

Necklace of Garnet

It’s Coming!

We’re in the final stages before releasing this as a paperback and as a Kindle!

Cover preview

Cover preview

I’m starting to get back in the groove as my pneumonia inconveniences and meds time out. And with that, comes my omnibus of 2015 short fiction! I’m also working on my novel revision, but I want to get last year’s collection finished first!

Belated Year in Review

Well, that was 2015.  With three cases of flu/pneumonia, I’m only getting up to speed again here in February. 2015 had some new writing achievements: I published several flash/short collections. I submitted for several publications, and I participated in an indie invitational collection. The collections haven’t sold all that much, but discussion seems to point to ten or twenty items for sale before it begins to snowball.  So for that I need to do a LOT more short fiction.
Read the Writing State of the Union

Something’s Catching…

Been quiet for the last few weeks as I went from close relative with 2 weeks of flu, folowed by my own case of pneumonia that landed me in the hospital. Still on O2, but life is finally clearing out of the dreck in my head and lungs.

I’m finally able to start to assemble all my shorts from 2015 into an omnibus for electronic and paper publication.  The most annoying thing this time is trying to find a necklace image that includes multiple bead materials.  I’d liked necklace of stars, but the necklace constellation just isn’t detailed enough.  I’m also working on revision of my nano after that. I think I’ll need to block some short fiction as the revision analysis is sloow and no fun at this point….

Year of gems

Last year is over, and we just finished the local tradition dish out of the crockpot. We’ve got flu in the house and a problematic puppy, but it’s quiet enough to review 2015.

For the second year, RealLife has been more challenging than usual due to family upheavals, stubborn puppy, and required home repairs (like a screen door latch/handle that came apart in the middle of the night after the ball fell)

old metal gears

Crane Gears by Kevin Utting, attributed under Creative Commons 2.0

However, I’ve finally gotten myself in gear and put together five flash collections and I submitted a few pieces to other venues.  The sales I’ve had for these mostly flash collections have been very sparse, but I know that’s because I’m an unknown. I finished another NaNo by the skin of my teeth and started taking a long-term revision class. The class was necessary because I was getting this terrible block and frightened by the mass of work to take my two finished NaNo drafts and try to make them publishable.

On the other hand, the NaNo and foolowing revision us threatening to swallow up all my creative energy. Even with the systemic method I’m trying out, it doesn’t satisfy my muse at all. Because of the RL issues, over which I have no control, I have to snatch writing or class time in fifteen minute periods. I can do that daily, but I miss last winter and earlier when I could easily fir in three hours a day, and more when I was on a push. My muse is getting antsy as I clowly analyze the NaNo draft. I want to write some shorts and do more collections even if it slows the revision work even more.

I need to do some short stuff.

So I think my goals for 2016 are shifting a little away from short fiction. I’m going to try to do a collection every other month. I’m planning to collect an omnibus with an extra story or two. And my third goal for the year is to finish the revision class by the end of summer. (I’d also like to finish a fanfic that kind of stopped when I started doing the collections… I owe my readers a conclusion)

What tweaks have you made for your life-plans?

We Need Other Kinds of Heroes

A Harder Heroism

Somewhere in the last half-century, hero became a dirty word in popular culture. People enjoy hearing about the failings of those marked as heroes, whether dirty secrets or opinions that don’t abide by the current standard or memes Maybe even worse, heroes are looked at in some kind of contempt. And the word is further cheapened by being used for anyone famous or sucessful as if wealth is a measure of value or worth. We say that riches aren’t the most important thing, but act like getting rich is a virtue.

What you do with it is the virtue. And I’m not talking about the vanity charities started by actors, politicians, or athletes. Those are PR, something the make them look better or get a tax benefit. Does the famous sponsor stay involved in a real way? Do they put any time in the trenches for that cause? And does this vanity charity actually accomplish anything useful? I have seem many foundations and charities falter when the sponsor moves on to other things. Charity watchdog organizations, like Charity Navigator are both useful and disheartening, as the money and resources that people give in good faith get wasted.

Heroes do the right things, the hard things, without the cameras. Encouraging others to support a cause or charity, makes you a good example and someone to be admired. But a hero does something when it can and does cost them. Playing a helicopter pilot hero in a movie doesn’t make you a hero, flying an injured hiker out of the wilderness and unstable conditions does. Firewomen, policemen, and soldiers routinely risk injury and death to help others. And they will go back the next day to do it over again. It is the risk and cost of their actions than changes that helicopter flight from stuntwork to heroism.

Now heroism isn’t all about the burning building or knocking back an assassin, the more subtle kinds of heroism require a moral fortitude to face down people who don’t want to do the right thing, or who use their position or majority to force their beliefs on others. The hero may lose the battle to make a camp for kids or land a faltering plane safely but they don’t roll over. (The hard thing sometimes is in choosing the right thing. Bullying and abuse is easy to oppose, but free speech and anti-censorship is not as easy to support when a speaker is a mean jackass.)

People have been saying that freedom isn’t free, but costs cuts both ways. If you want freedom from offense by people who have different beliefs, you must grant the same to others for your beliefs. ‘Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’ Disagreement on political and social issues is rarely evil and it’s petty childishness to demonize your opponents over opinions.  Too many have no empathy or the ability to walk in another’s shoes. Are people that self-centered or getting off on leading the howling mobs? Great leaders and heroes do more than destroy by feeding the riot’s flames, they make the compromises where everyone feels it’s an improvement. Grinding those who disagree with you into paste by riots or social media pile-ons, isn’t peace, it’s abusive.

I think that may be why we are foundering lately, we don’t have enough heroes who compromise and defuse the situations, we get leaders who want it to burn.

Take the Leap?

antique cast iron school bell outdoors in lemon grove

Cast iron bell in a lemon grove, Creative Commons 2.0

With the multitasking chaos and expense of the holidays, it can be especially frustrating when an opportunity appears, a limited time opportunity.  It would require not just shorting my family’s holiday a bit, but also increasing my debt compared to my income, when money is already very tight.  Oh, it’s the kind of expense that might pay off in a year or so (more than lottery tickets, for sure) but it’s no guarantee. So I want to do it, but I would have to borrow the money without being able to repay it in the forseeable future, and that just makes me nervous and unhappy about it. I know intellectually that this isn’t the end of the world either way, but it’s so precisely balanced between good opportunity and increased debt for all involved that I can’t help but resent the timing. The amount may not seem like much to most people but it is for me and I say no almost by reflex for numbers that big. As much as I want to write, this is far, far more than my income warrants.

I don’t want to be one of those writers who blows money they can’t afford on pie in the sky. Vanity press and small press meltdowns have been very instructional, with how even careful writers cab get in over their heads when there’s marketing and their hard-earned money involved. This could be helpful, but will it be that ten times more helpful than a good writing book?  Or as helpful as ten books’ cumulative help? Writing always comes down to putting pen to paper and the vast majority of great stories were done before writing software, before marketing plans, before online group editing muddied the waters with conflicting advice.  Tick, tick, tick… time is running out.

And it smells like that batch of chocolate chip is just about baked.