annathepiper: (Music All Around You)

(This post is a little overdue, as all of this went down a couple of weekends ago, and I didn’t really have the chance to sit down and write this out in full until now! Plus, there was a session to go to as well as questionable mammogram results that, thank all the universe’s powers, turned out to not be a problem after all. So let’s return to this post in progress and get this written up, shall we?)

Y’all may remember that last year in February, I had the distinct pleasure of getting to attend a workshop in Qualicum Beach, at which André Brunet spent a glorious weekend teaching a bunch of us how to play several tunes. Well, we all had such fun doing that last year that our hosts, the Beatons–not to mention André himself–decided we had to do it again.

And when I learned from Joyce Beaton that this was happening, I leapt RIGHT ALL OVER THAT. Because last year’s workshop was a huge influence on my decision to start taking official fiddle lessons! Plus it’s just such great glorious fun to hang out with a house full of musicians for a weekend, learning things and jamming.

Better yet: this year I brought Dara. 😀 Not to mention a whole pile of instruments.

All! The! Instruments!

All! The! Instruments!

(For those keeping score, the instruments in this picture are the General, my guitar; my as of yet unnamed fiddle; Silver, my flute with keys; my carbon fiber and blackwood whistles; and my quartet of carbon fiber flutes, the little D, the G, the A, and the big D.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Beckett and Book)

I owe Elizabeth Harmon a big ol’ public apology–because I had her booked on Boosting the Signal LAST WEEK, not THIS WEEK, and I completely flipped her date with Ruth Casie. So I missed the window to tell you all about the giveaway Elizabeth was running for her latest novella release! AUGH! Sorry Elizabeth! Also apologies to Ruth, since I posted her too early as well.

BUT ANYWAY. Elizabeth has been here before, with Turning It On and Getting It Back. Her latest release is in this same series: the novella Heating It Up.

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Heating It Up

Heating It Up

From Elizabeth:

It’s great to be back on Boosting The Signal, to talk about Heating It Up: A Red Hot Russians Novella, the newest release in my Red Hot Russians series.

Heating It Up began with its setting, Amity Bay, a soon to be shuttered research station in Antarctica. I’ve always found the icy continent fascinating, but I’d never read a romance set there. I wanted to contrast the harsh, isolated surroundings, with the cozy warmth of a small town romance, and also add an off-beat vibe, similar to one of my favorite 1990s TV series, Northern Exposure.

Heating It Up’s Red Hot Russian hero is rugged Alexei Zaikov, Amity Bay’s station manager. Heroine Nora Bradford is a sophisticated American fish out of water who wants to spend the long dark Antarctic winter alone and grieve the devastating losses of her fiance, and career.

But Nora has a secret, one that could devastate Alexei and doom their romance. Read on, as Nora tells her story.

Everyone has that little thing that makes them crazy. For my mother, it was swearing. All I had to do to set her off was drop the f-word into a conversation. Not that went looking for ways to antagonize her. I’ve always been a peaceful person. Miss Go Along to Get Along, who rarely make waves.

Except for that once time when I did. But more about that later.

My name is Nora Bradford and I’m 26. Most people would consider that young, but not me. The last two years have felt like ten. That’s what happens when you have a perfect, beautiful life all planned out, and then one day, everything changes.

That one day was a Friday, and I was at work, at the San Francisco offices of Quinn & Associates, one of the worlds’ top firms specializing in sustainable architecture. After finishing my master’s in architecture at Stanford, I was an associate working on a plum project. I was engaged to Blake, the love of my life, who’d gone down to Belize with friends for a weekend diving trip. Life was perfect until that phone call, telling me Blake had drowned.

Just like that, my perfect, beautiful life was gone.

All that was left was my work, designing a sustainable luxury guesthouse to replace an obsolete Antarctic research station. Blake had been especially excited about this project and pouring everything I had into Glacier Ridge Lodge was a way to hold onto him. My boss Herbert Quinn, raved about my work, and told me that when the project was finished, he’d promote me to partner.

Near the end of construction, our firm traveled down to Antarctica. The beautiful building was everything I’d imagined. Antarctica, utterly breathtaking. There was even a hunky, rugged station manager, who asked me out. And though I still couldn’t picture myself with anyone besides Blake, there was something about Alexei Zaikov that drew me.

But I kept my distance. After all, I was the lead designer on the building that was going to put him, and everyone else living at the broken-down Amity Bay station, out of work. Not a good foundation for a relationship.

And within my firm, I had a growing sense something wasn’t right. My colleague Mark Jenkins, whose contributions to the project had been minimal, suddenly became the go-to guy, while I was relegated to making coffee. I’d also become too emotionally attached to the lodge, which had become my memorial for Blake and the beautiful life we would have shared. But no matter how much you want to hang onto the past, it’s gone.

Which brings me back to that thing which sets me off everytime, and any woman working in a male-dominated field knows exactly what I mean: mansplaining.

Three nights before we were to leave Antarctica, Herbert announced that Quinn & Associates’ newest partner was Mark Jenkins, not me. When I confronted Herbert, he told me that because I was young and lacked “professional authority,” it was somehow okay to take what he’d promised me, and give it to someone else who’d done less, but deserved it more, thanks to his all-important “professional authority.”

Profound grief and too much New Zealand Shiraz can really mess with your judgement. Herbert’s mansplain triggered an ugly tirade that would have horrified my poor mother. He survived it, but my career didn’t. Unemployed and alone, there was only one place I wanted to be. It took some devious finagling, but I found a way to stay behind at the now-deserted Glacier Ridge Lodge, the only place where life still makes sense.

Spending the winter alone in Antarctica…what could possibly go wrong?

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Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Castle and Beckett and Book)

It’s been a while since I had a Boosting the Signal post to share with y’all! But my Here Be Magic compatriot Ruth A. Casie approached me about sending me a piece, and my door’s always open for my HBM crowd. Ruth’s been here before, y’all may recall, with The Guardian’s Witch. Now she’s back with another historical romance in the same series, and another character interview! And I’ll say about this one what I did about the previous: I do rather like that cover! Also, I do really rather like the NPR-ish flavor of this piece. Check it out.

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The Highlander's English Woman

The Highlander’s English Woman

The Inside Scoop
Interview with Lord Bryce Mitchell

Welcome to The Inside Scoop, Radio Transcripts of Guest Interviews. My name is Justin Case, host and executive producer of The Inside Scoop, where we interview the characters in the stories created by author Ruth A. Casie.

This was the fourth interview of characters in The Stelton Legacy series and took place in front of a live audience. I ask everyone to sit back and imagine sitting in a comfortable chair and talking with my guests. I hope my interview is informative and thought provoking and that you enjoy reading them as much as I had conducting them.

If these interviews spur questions of your own, contact me via Ms. Casie at Ruth@RuthACasie.com. She and I will work together to get you answers.

Previously Recorded

Justin Case: Thank you for joining me today at The Inside Scoop. I’m your host and moderator, Justin Case. We’re about to interview Lord Bryce Mitchell of Ravencroft, the neighboring estate to the Reynolds family of Glen Kirk Castle. To clarify, both domains are on the English side of the Scottish border. Through Lord Bryce’s service to the king, he is also a close friend of Lord Alex Stelton, the guardian of Glen Kirk Castle.

Lord Bryce makes appearances in The Guardian’s Witch, The Maxwell Ghost and The Highlander’s English Woman. You can see he’s an integral part of the Stelton Legacy story. Ah, I see him approaching now.

You can’t miss the man, always dressed in black, holding his signature black leather gloves. He has a shot of black hair and a well-trimmed beard. He walks with a commanding air that I suspect has served him well in court. He certainly looks the part of the black knight. Intimidation has served him well. He’s been battled trained through his youth alongside his neighbor and close friend, Richard Reynolds and cheered on by Richard’s sister, Laura.

(Sound of footsteps approaching)

Justin Case: Good afternoon, my Lord. I’m so glad you could join us today.

Lord Bryce: Case. (A slight nod of acceptance as he sits) Many thanks for the invitation. (He looks at the tankard by his chair)

Justin Case: I secured it from Glen Kirk Castle. (He motions toward the tankard) I understand it’s your favorite brew.

Lord Bryce: (A smile breaks his set expression) Glen Kirk is renowned for its fine ale. It’s even prized by the king.

Justin Case: I understand the Mitchell and Reynolds families have been neighbors for quite some time.

Lord Bryce: My family has held Ravencroft and the Reynolds have held Glen Kirk Castle for centuries.

Justin Case: (Flipping through notes) My sources tell me you have been fond of Lady Laura Reynolds for some time.

Lord Bryce: (His steely eyes take on a dangerous glint. Justin Case mops his brow.) It was a political strategy, I assure you. It’s the thirteenth century. Combining our houses would have ensured the safety and longevity of the castle, besides I’m sure it would please the king to have an Englishman hold the castle and not a Scottish sympathizer.

Justin Case: I understand Laura was called away to Scotland before her parents discussed your proposal with her.

Lord Bryce: Laura went with the Scottish bastard Jamie Maxwell Collins to Caerlaverock Castle to visit with her distant relations. Lord Maxwell saw an opportunity to secure Glen Kirk Castle for his family. If his nephew Jamie married Laura it would further tighten the Maxwell stronghold on both sides of the border.

Justin Case: You grew up and trained with Jamie. He was fostered to the Lord at Glen Kirk. He was—

Lord Bryce: (Bending menacingly forward toward Justin Case) I wouldn’t go there if I were you. Jamie was a filthy Scot who didn’t deserve the air he breathed.

Justin Case: I understand m’lord. That doesn’t change the fact that he married Lady Laura and that their marriage was sanctioned by the King of England himself. Not an easy thing for a Scot in the thirteenth century.

Lord Bryce: Not marrying into the family was a relief. You know the women are all witches—every last one of them. (Bryce glares at Justin Case) And you know what they do to witches.

Justin Case: Lord Bryce, surely you don’t mean—

Lord Bryce: I certainly do. As well as everyone who harbors and supports them no matter who they are or what position they hold. Do you support the arcane arts? (Bryce rhythmically slaps his gloves against his thigh)

Justin Case: I mean no disrespect, m’lord. But the healing arts which the Reynolds’ women are known for is not witchcraft.

Lord Bryce: (Stands up) You think that’s all they do? You have a lot to learn. Read the stories. It is all there, and then you tell me they’re not witches.

Justin Case: (Stands up) I will read the stories, sir. And we will meet again to discuss them. Thank you for your time.

(Retreating footsteps are heard as Lord Bryce leaves the studio)

Justin Case: (Turning toward the audience) Thank you for joining me today. I hope you enjoyed learning about Lord Bryce Mitchell and the part he plays in The Stelton Legacy.

Before you leave, I’d like to acknowledge our station and staff at WRAC for their commitment and fortitude to see this project to fruition. Many technologies had to be developed to make this happen and credit must be given where credit is deserved.

General Manager — Norma Leigh Lucid
Studio Manager — Helen Back
Maintenance Supervisors — Earl E. Bird and Ella Vada
Musical Supervisor — Kerry Oki
Electrical Engineers — Flint Sparks and Les Volt
Sound Crew — Mike Rafone and Constance Hum
Traffic Manager — Joy Rider
Legal Advisor — Sara Bellum
Researchers — Paige Turner and Rita Booke
Commissary Director — Jasmine Rice
Security Directors — Barry Cade and Anna Conda
Funded by donors Hy Price and his wonderful wife Lois Price

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Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Do the Job)

This past Monday I had my annual mammogram.

This afternoon, Dara alerted me that Evergreen had left me a message on our home answering machine asking me to call them. This is not normal procedure when a mammogram goes well. I got through to them after a couple of tries, and was informed by their staffer that their radiologists want me to come in for an ultrasound of my left side.

Doublechecking my January 2013 posts, I am reminded that this is not the first time I’ve had a questionable mammogram. In 2013, they told me they saw teeny calcifications on the left side, and after they did a biopsy, they told me it was fine.

I am nervous now, four years later, to be informed that they want an ultrasound of that same side. So now I am scheduled to go back in for an ultrasound, on Wednesday of next week, and I get to be nervous about this until then.

I will now be doggedly focusing on trying to be the least amount of nervous I can manage, because goddammit, cancer, I do not have time for your shit. I have writing to do. I have tunes to learn. And I have a fiddle to learn how to play better.

Especially because goddammit I am going to Quebec this summer, for Camp Violon Trad, as I’ve been wanting to do for ages now. Dara and I are beginning a plan for her to meet up with me after the camp is done, for Memoire et Racines, which I’ve been wanting to go back to ever since the brief and awesome time we had there in 2012. We’re discussing the possibility of meeting up with Vicka there, even.

And I have a lot riding on this, you guys. Because not only is Violon Trad run by two of my favorite Quebec musicians–André Brunet and Éric Beaudry, along with their colleague Stéphanie Lépine–this is going to be the 10th anniversary of the camp, which is sure to make it extra epic this year.

Pretty much guaranteeing that it will be epic: ALL FOUR MEMBERS OF LE VENT DU NORD WILL BE GUEST TEACHERS.

Which means, Internets, that I’m going to be at a music camp that will contain André Brunet (from whom I have already had the pleasure of a couple of excellent workshops, now), Éric Beaudry (because BOY HOWDY do I want to spend multiple days learning guitar from this man, YES PLEASE), AND Olivier Demers (who, as y’all may recall, I dubbed the Best Fiddle Player Ever).

I am not remotely ready to tackle playing the fiddle in a full-bore week-long camp like Violon Trad–I’ll be going for the guitar classes, mostly. But I will also be bringing at least some flutes. And now that I actually do own the fiddle I’ve been renting (I bought it because woo! promotion and bonus!), along with a bow that doesn’t suck, I will ALSO be taking that fiddle to try to at least learn SOMETHING.

Because why yes an opportunity to learn tunes from Olivier Demers will make up for how I haven’t seen Le Vent perform in over a year, and I haven’t seen them perform with Olivier for over two years.

I AM DOING THIS AND NO OTHER OUTCOME IS ACCEPTABLE.

Han says NO.

Han says NO.

TAKE THAT, questionable mammogram results. >:|

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Buh?)

The big story in Seattle yesterday was the rollover of a butane tanker, which hit four cars and caused a 7-hour shutdown of I-5. Area natives and long-time residents know: if I-5 gets shut down, traffic around here is completely fucked. And that’s exactly what happened. The Washington State DOT started warning mid-afternoon that drivers should avoid downtown Seattle if at all possible, which of course meant that all the drivers who couldn’t get on the highway were clogging up the side streets.

And a lot of folks were stuck on the highway for multiple hours, too. Long enough that an enterprising taco truck opened for business, which I think is my favorite part of the entire story. ;D

Complicating the matter was that we also got hit with some freakish weather: a brief snowstorm that rolled in just after 3pm. We’re talking thundersnow here, people. There’s even video (see the link) of lightning striking the Space Needle.

Remembering my epic saga of the Worst Commute Ever, which I VERY MUCH DID NOT WANT TO DO AGAIN, I bailed on work around a quarter after 3 and headed home. I hung out at the bus stop at Elliott and Western for about five or ten minutes, thinking that I’d catch a bus to the bus tunnels–and see then whether I should a) try to catch one of my usual busses, a 522 or a 312, or b) get on the light rail to get to the U-district instead.

When I got to the bus stop was about when the thundersnow hit. And while I was waiting, chatting with a couple other folks, we all were VERY startled by thunder and lightning interspersed with the increasingly vigorous mix of snow and ice pellets coming down. Icy slush started building up very quickly on the road.

Thundersnow Slush

Thundersnow Slush

My phone’s OneBusAway app claimed that the next busses were due in a couple of minutes. The app was mistaken. Elliott very quickly turned into a parking long, with a long line of vehicles in the southbound lanes stretching well past Big Fish and the buildings beyond. It became very obvious very quickly that busses were NOT going to reach us in a timely fashion.

So while I wasn’t exactly happy about walking in these conditions, I punted to plan B: hoofing it to the bus tunnels. (I had flirted with the idea of catching a 32 to the U district instead, but given the condition the roads were in, that seemed ill-advised. Also much slower, given that the 32 takes a meandering path through Fremont before it finally reaches the U-district.) Fortunately I had on my Yaktrax, so walking wasn’t really a problem. And I had on my scarf to protect my face, and a heat pack in my pocket. I had my work laptop in the backpack, which meant a heavier than usual load to carry, but eh, could have been worse.

On my way up Denny I passed a #2 bus which was having a very hard time with the slush, and which got stuck for multiple minutes as I watched it. It wasn’t the only bus I saw without snow chains, either. All along 3rd, I saw a long line of busses trying to head north–very slowly. Lots of cars on that street and all the intersecting ones, too. I was frankly stunned that nobody actually ran into anybody else, given how slushy the roads were.

I made it to the bus tunnels just in time to miss an outbound train. (Also, walking through the bus tunnels while wearing Yaktrax? Kinda hard. But I didn’t really want to take them off, given that I wasn’t sure what kind of conditions I’d find on the way home.)

The next train was very crowded, and the driver even told folks trying to get on that he had two more trains queued up behind him. But by then I was already on board and wasn’t about to go anywhere. And really, once I made it onto the train, I was fine. Downtown->U-district by light rail is very fast, only two stops. And once I got off at the U-district station, I found that the thundersnow had not impacted the roads there at all. I walked over to Campus Parkway, and got to the bus stop there pretty much exactly as a 372 was pulling up. SCORE.

I pinged Dara to ask her to pick me up at the bottom of our hill, since our neighborhood roads were also clear, and walking with Yaktrax on and a heavier than usual backpack was tiring and I didn’t want to go up our hill. And the 372 zipped along at a nice steady typical pace, so all in all, it only took me a little longer than usual to get home. I was home well before 6pm.

Other folks–not so much. When I got into work this morning, several coworkers were commiserating on our Slack channels about how long it took them to get home. A couple folks said it took them over four hours. And given that I-5 was closed until around 7pm, Metro and Sound Transit were still absolutely impacted–I saw a tweet that indicated a bunch of busses that normally traveled along I-5 were running over 90 minutes late. So yeah, if I’d had to take the usual 522 or 312, my commute home would have taken a lot longer.

The moral of this story: ALL HAIL LIGHT RAIL.

Any Seattle-area locals want to chime in on how well the commute did or did not treat you?

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Starbuck)

Just a few minutes after Bleeding Cool originally broke the story yesterday, I saw it showing up on my Twitter feed that Richard Hatch had passed away. And for me, it was an immediate punch to the gut.

I’ve posted a lot about my Star Wars fandom, and in particular about my long-abiding love of Han Solo. I have not, however, posted nearly as much about my affection for the original Battlestar Galactica–or how in particular, Apollo as played by Richard Hatch totally was duking it out with Han as to who I was fangirling over harder, back in the early 80’s when I was a tiny young tween.

But it’s true. I like to put into my author bio that I was writing fanfic before I even knew the word. Some of that fanfic was Raiders of the Lost Ark fic–but some of it was Battlestar Galactica. Thinly veiled BSG fic, as I was trying to make up a setting with my own names, but it was totally BSG with the serial numbers scraped off. I no longer retain a copy of that fic, but to this day I have a very clear memory of writing about my own versions of Starbuck and Apollo.

Especially Apollo. Because while Starbuck was the flamboyant one, I always found Apollo more appealing. He was the one who had more of his shit together–or his felgercarb, as the case may be. I was at the exact right age for the romantic angst of his losing his first love interest Serena, and later getting close to Sheba, to send me into flurries of teenaged swooning. Dark-haired soulful brooding romantic pilot hero? Hell yeah, said teenage me, sign me up.

Let us also talk about how my affection for Apollo also led me, in those days, to watch Richard Hatch in the movie Deadman’s Curve, a made-for-TV movie about the history of the singing duo Jan and Dean. It has been ages since I saw that film, but I have a lingering memory of the impact of watching Hatch, as Jan Berry, portraying the man’s struggle to recover from a horrifically debilitating accident.

Later on, though, Hatch came back around to impact my affection for the reboot Battlestar. I’ve written a lot about that in the past, and to be sure, Hatch’s turn as Tom Zarek was amazing. But a great deal can be said as well for how his Apollo influenced Jamie Bamber’s in the reboot–and, in fact, Tor.com has an excellent post up today about that very thing, calling Apollo the moral compass of Battlestar Galactica. Teenage me really only understood that Apollo was dreamy. Grownup me very, very much appreciates Hatch’s pivotal role, so excellently described in that Tor.com post.

The Mary Sue has a lovely tribute post up as well.

I’ve been having the strains of the Battlestar theme echoing in my head off and on ever since the news broke. And really, the entire opening credits.

Not to mention the excellent “Colonial Anthem” version of that theme, from the reboot. I can think of no better tribute music for Captain Apollo’s passing.

Viper squadrons, form up. Present arms. Fire in salute.

RIP, Captain.

So say we all.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Book Geek)
Catalyst

Catalyst

A bit delayed on this, but it’s taken a while to get enough titles queued up as acquisitions to actually make it worth doing a post! I’ve been focusing lately on reading the books I actually own versus buying a whole lot of new ones–and as a result, I’ve actually built up a sizable credit balance on Barnes and Noble’s website. Which is kinda funny, given that I’ve stopped using them as my major source of ebooks!

But ANYWAY, here’s some recent titles I’ve picked up.

Acquired in print:

  • Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, by James Luceno. This is exactly what it says on the tin. More specifically, it’s the prequel story to the events of the movie Rogue One, getting into the backstory of the Erso family, and how Galen became involved in building the Death Star. I felt this sounded like fun, and to my pleasure, Dara gave me a hardback copy for my birthday.

Acquired in digital from B&N.com:

  • Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor. SF. Grabbed this because it’s the sequel to Binti, which I enjoyed quite a bit.
  • Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan McGuire. Grabbed on general “because it’s Seanan McGuire, duh” grounds, but also because a) I’ve been enjoying reading novellas lately, and b) I liked the base concept of this, a ghost who’s working on a suicide hotline.
  • Passing Strange, by Ellen Klages. Another Tor.com novella (see previous commentary re: enjoying these lately), which I have grabbed because why yes, a story about queer women in San Francisco in 1940 has my attention.
  • The City, Not Long After, by Pat Murphy. SF. Got this on the strength of James Nicoll’s review of it. It sounds like a surprisingly pacifistic post-apocalyptic scenario, and given the times we live in, that feels strangely reassuring. This’ll be the second thing of Murphy’s I’ll have read and while I was ambivalent about her Hobbit pastiche, I liked it well enough that I’m willing to try another book of hers.

This’ll make five so far for the year.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Alan YES!)

YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS.

Dara and I are deep in working with artist Nicole Cardiff on the cover for the forthcoming Warder Soul. And as of tonight, I am delighted to report that BEHOLD! We have a color rough!

This is going to be developed as Nicole adds a lot more depth and nuance to the coloration. But this is now a real good rough idea of what y’all can expect on the cover of this book. Book’s not remotely close to done yet, but having a cover being developed in conjunction with the actual story is exciting, y’all!

And now I give you Christopher MacSimidh!

Warder Soul Cover Rough

Warder Soul Cover Rough

I may not be the only fantasy novelist in the world with a bouzouki player in an urban fantasy series, but I think I can now make a solid case for being the first one with a bouzouki player on a cover. 😀

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Aubrey Orly?)

It was my turn to post up on Here Be Magic again today, and it was only a couple of days ago that I realized this meant I’d be posting on Inauguration Day. Given how the election had kicked my creativity in the teeth and how I’d run out of reasons (at least for the time being) to post about Star Wars, I was genuinely stumped as to what the hell I could actually post about.

But then I realized that I had legitimate things I could say about the necessity of listening to your muse, even if your muse is telling you you need to chuck 20,000 words into the bin and start over. I had to do this with Warder Soul, and I’m pleased to say that so far, I feel a lot better about the results.

Go check out the Here Be Magic post for what I had to say about the benefits of listening to your muse.

And here. For NO PARTICULAR REASON OR ANYTHING TODAY, I felt compelled to share with you all this new version of the first scene in Chapter 1 of Warder Soul. In which my young heroine of color is going to the wedding of her two gay housemates. There are fairies. The fairies are demanding cake. I feel like we could all use a bit of consolatory cake today. (Also vodka, but that’s going to have to wait till I get home from the day job.)

There’s a brief excerpt of the scene in the Here Be Magic post, but if you want to just read all 2,000 or so words, I’ve put up a PDF here. This is a direct export from Scrivener (which, OH HEY, does indeed export nicely to PDF)!

Also: I have officially decided that this story will in fact remain titled Warder Soul, while the story previously known as Queen of Souls is going to be renamed Queen of Ghosts, just so that I don’t have the titles sounding too much like one another. I wanted to keep the Persephone story Queen of (Something), and am a bit chagrined that it took me this long to think of a one-syllable word that could still fit the tenor of the tale. The relevant pages on my site will be updated to reflect this title change shortly.

Also #2: I am very pleased to note as well that I have secured a new cover artist for Warder Soul, since my previous artist, the excellent Kiri Moth, is no longer available. The new artist is Nicole Cardiff and you can see her stuff here. She’s got a sketch in progress already and I hope to be sharing some glimpses with you soon of what Warder Soul‘s cover will look like!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Great Amurkian Novel 2)

For those of you who didn’t see this on my social networks today, I was very pleased to announce that I’d been invited to send in a post for the Nanowrimo blog, now that they’re doing a series of posts on the general theme of “Now what?” for folks coming out of doing Nanowrimo this past November.

My post went up today and can be found here! (The Nano blog is hosted on Tumblr, so if you’re a user there and you feel so inclined, reblog it, won’t you? Thank you!) If you’re coming to my blog from that post or from places it got shared today, hiya and welcome!

This post, though, is in response to a question that I got asked on Twitter:

This, I felt, is an excellent question. So here’s a post about that.

First, at least in my experience, there are a few different variations of “sick of your novel” that might happen. So I’m going to talk about each, and what I’ve been able to do about them.

Oh god oh god I have been trying to pull words out of my brain for this thing for MONTHS NOW and they’re just not working and AUGH.

If I’ve been pounding my head against a work in progress for what seems like forever, and it feels like the words just don’t want to flow, this is usually a warning sign that something about what I’m doing isn’t actually right for the story. What I have to do for this is take a step back, see if I can figure out what is not working, and come at it from a new angle.

This is in fact something I’m wrestling with on my current work in progress, Warder Soul. I got about 20,000 words in on it, but with this lingering sense of discontent with what I was doing. But after talking it out some with my wife (who, while not a writer, is an EXCELLENT refiner of my ideas), I decided to try the beginning again with a new strategy.

I am unbelievably stressed out right now and the sheer thought of looking at my word processor is making me want to pitch my computer out the window.

There are times, though, that the failure to produce words isn’t necessarily the fault of the story. If I’m too stressed out by external causes, this can kick my creative productivity in the teeth and make pulling words out of my brain about as fun as pulling teeth out of my mouth.

I’ve got a stupidly complicated medical history for somebody my age, and as a result of this, I’ve had long stretches in the last 12 years in which it was impossible for me to get any creative work done due to having to recover from assorted medical things.

Similarly, I have come to learn that if I’m stressing out about other sorts of things (like oh, say, the election that just happened), this can also kick my productivity in the face.

What I have learned to do about this: give myself permission to not write. Which might seem counterintuitive to the whole “but I’m stressing the fuck out about not writing to begin with” thing, sure. But the thing is, for me, a certain level of pressure to get a novel done can be useful. Too much pressure, on the other hand, is setting myself up for creative burnout. I have had to learn to tell myself that it’s okay if I need to take a creative break. Even if it’s a long one.

In times where it would stress me out almost as much to not actually be writing, I compromise with myself and set a stupidly low daily word count goal. Say, two hundred words. Something tiny like that which doesn’t seem nearly as intimidating as, say, five hundred or a thousand. And if I can achieve a much smaller goal like that, sometimes the sense of satisfaction I get from it is enough to make me want to keep going.

But again, it’s also important to tell myself that if all I have in me for a day is two hundred words, it’s okay if I stop.

I have been revising this novel SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME AND I CANNOT STAND TO EDIT YET ANOTHER WORD.

Any writer who’s gotten past the first draft knows this pain, boy howdy let me tell you. Editing can be deeply satisfying for me sometimes–digging into a scene or a chapter, and finding little nuances I can change about it to improve it. On the other hand, if I go six or seven drafts (and I HAVE), this can get really tiresome really fast. Particularly given that I do also have a full time day job, and I often just don’t have enough brain left over after a full day at work to come home and beat a chapter’s worth of edits into submission. (This, by the way, would be why I haven’t been able to finally edit Queen of Souls yet.)

And sometimes, if I go long enough editing a given book, I just start missing actually creating brand new words.

Which is exactly why I have multiple works in progress. If I get sick of editing something, I can go throw words at something else for a while. Which does help.

Non-writing-related breaks also help. For me, that’s usually a) getting on the treadmill, b) picking up an instrument and practicing tunes, or c) playing games.

I’m doing Nanowrimo as fast as I POSSIBLY CAN and oh god oh god I can’t stand the thought of one more day of this AUGH.

Nanowrimo demands you write at least 1,667 words every day of the month to hit that 50,000 word goal. And y’know what? That’s frickin’ hard for a lot of writers, even people who have been writing for years. It’s okay if you start feeling burned out by the pace.

When I’m trying to do Nano, it helps immensely to remind myself that while hitting that 50,000 word goal is fun and all, at the end of the day (or the month, as it were), the actual end goal is to write a novel. And even if I don’t manage to do the 50,000 words in November, if I keep going and eventually wind up with a book, I still win.

And part of what I learned from my very first Nanowrimo is that, in fact, I usually can’t manage a Nano-level daily word count. My much more standard goal is 500 words a day.

If you try Nanowrimo and find that that daily word count is too much for you, it is entirely okay if you pull back to a pace that better fits your creative speed. Every single writer has different capacities. Every single writer has different ways they’ll need to do things. Find the pace that works for you.

How about the rest of you?

Those are the major ways I’ve found to date that I can get sick of a work in progress, so now I’ll turn it over to my fellow writers and Nanowrimo regulars out there: how have you found yourself getting sick of works in progress? What do you do about it when it happens? Tell me about it in the comments!

Editing to add: The writer who sent me that tweet above now has a post up about this! Check it out!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Final Test)

Dara has been on a big kick with the turn of the year to get rid of a lot of things we don’t need anymore, and this has rolled over onto me a bit to make the first week of 2017 one of solving a bunch of small problems.

Problem #1: Backups weren’t working correctly on our servers.

How this was solved: Discovering that rdiff-backup wasn’t going to create a directory for me in the backup location if that directory didn’t already exist, unless I gave it a –create-full-path argument. Also discovering that scripts in cron.daily, cron.weekly, and cron.monthly should not actually be in cron format, unlike anything you put in cron.d. Once I figured out both of these things, I was finally able to get backups working properly.

Problem #2: My older laptop got unacceptably warm after a few minutes of use, particularly when booted into Windows 10.

How this was solved: Taking Winnowill apart, which let Dara not only give the inside a good cleaning, but ALSO let her discover that the goop that’s normally supposed to provide some insulation conductivity between the CPUs and the heat sink had dried out. A lot of it had in fact crumbled away. So she ordered some new goop and put new layers of that on the CPUs, and then we put the machine back together.

This made the machine much happier when booting into Windows 10 and actually trying to do things in that OS.

Meanwhile we’re also updating the hard drive from its current 500GB one to a 1T, and going from a Western Digital Blue to a Western Digital Black. Which, Dara tells me, should mean an increase in hard drive performance and hopefully another reduction in the likelihood of it overheating.

In general this should also hopefully increase the lifespan of this machine. Given that I got it way back in 2007, and this box is still chugging along, that’s still a pretty impressive lifespan for a laptop. I was thinking of selling it, but Dara says she’d like to keep the box around just for the sake of having an older and still functional Mac. Eventually it might become our new Time Machine server if Elda gives up the ghost.

All of this did at least also give me a chance to take a picture of what the inside of Winnowill looks like!

Winnie's CPUs

Winnie’s CPUs

Problem #3: The cushion on the left ear of my Bluetooth headphones split a seam.

Apparently this is a thing with Jabra move headphones? A couple weeks ago I noticed that there was a split seam on this ear cushion, and when I googled for it, I found quite a few other users complaining about the same thing. This has happened often enough that Jabra sells replacement cushions, and the replacements are supposedly sewn and not glued. I ordered a pair of the replacements and got the new one for the left ear on there okay with Dara’s help. Keeping the cushion for the right side in reserve on the assumption that this will eventually happen on that side, too.

There are other things I’m in the middle of doing that are more domestic–replacing old bras and old jeans–and Dara and I will also be looking into replacing our mattress. But the techie problems are more interesting, so the post is about those!

Any problems y’all have solved so far with the new year?

Editing to add: By “goop” on the CPU I actually meant, of course, conductivity rather than insulation. Oops! Many thanks to userinfoalinsa for pointing that out.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Default)
So there's been a big uptick in people bailing on LJ in the last couple of weeks, partly because of the physical move of servers to Russia, but also because of the news of HTTPS being disabled on the LJ site. I have not bailed completely on LJ yet, although both [personal profile] solarbird and I are in the middle of archiving old posts. And both Dara and I have at least some reason to maintain a public presence on LJ: i.e., pointers off to angelahighland.com and crimeandtheforcesofevil.com. As all the indie artists and authors out there know, any little bit of way to get people to find your stuff is kinda necessary.

But that said, hi folks coming over from LJ and subscribing to me here. I'm granting access and subscribing back on some of you folks, though I don't recognize some of the IDs I see cropping up in my inbox. Consider this post an invitation to say hi and tell me about yourselves if I don't know you already!

(This is a Dreamwidth-specific post and will not be crossposted.)
annathepiper: (Buh?)

I saw news breaking this week, first on The Digital Reader, and then by both Smart Bitches Trashy Books and Dear Author. Both of these sites have mentioned how Romance Writers of America is deeply unamused by the entire affair.

In short: All Romance Ebooks is closing, and there has been a firestorm of bad reaction about this, because of their attempt to offer impacted authors ten cents on the dollar for outstanding royalties owed. Since I’m not a romance author, and since what romance titles I’ve purchased for my own reading have been through either Kobo or B&N, I don’t have an immediate horse in this race. But I wanted to relay the news in case anyone who reads me hasn’t seen it already–and in case any of you are actually customers of the site. If you are a customer of the site you should see about backing up your library from them RIGHT NOW.

And for any authors who read me and who have had titles there, and who will have your income impacted by this: my profoundest sympathies. It all sounds generally horrible and deeply disappointing.

If you want more data, check out the links at the top of the post.

Editing to add: Writer Beware now has a post up about the matter, including discussion of how there were no particular classic warning signs about this implosion and how nobody knew anything was apparently wrong before this week.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Buh?)

I’m seeing a lot of posts on my reading lists on both Dreamwidth and LJ talking about how apparently, LJ’s conducted a quiet move of remaining US-based servers into Russia.

Note this post by DW user mdlbear, and this one by DW user feuervogel.

I am in the middle of conducting an import of all my LJ entries over to my Dreamwidth account, and I will be deleting a lot of my old LJ content. I am seriously considering whether it’s now time to delete my LJ account.

At minimum I will no longer be posting locked content of any kind to Livejournal, though I will continue to mirror posts there from angelahighland.com, for the time being. If I change my mind, I will be posting again to let folks know.

LJ friends, if you’re not already on DW and you want to add me to your DW reading list, I’m annathepiper in both places, so feel free to add me to your DW filters if you want.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Musical Jack)

(Doing this as a blog post instead of a post to Facebook, since this is really too long for a status update.)

Okay, so my monthly-or-so lessons with Lisa Ornstein have been going swimmingly. Yesterday I had another lesson with her, and we started talking about how to do string transitions so that I could start to do simple arpeggios and if I’m feeling really ambitious, really simple tunes.

The arpeggio drill has been good, letting me practice walking from the tonic, to the third, to the fifth, and then up to the octave, and then back down again. So yay!

We’ve also been talking about four types of string transitions:

  • Open string to open string
  • Finger on a string to open string
  • Open string to finger on a string
  • Finger to finger

And, Lisa’s advised me that when I’m doing scales in particular, and I’m coming down from an open string (the fifth) back down to the fourth on the string below, that’s an open-to-finger transition. And she’s got me doing a “stop, drop, and roll” thing that’s seeming to click well with my brain to try to make the scale as smooth as possible. I’ve just tried it today, and it’s gotten me the smoothest scales I’ve managed to play yet.

Then I tried to get a bit ambitious, and this is where the question for string players who follow me comes in.

I’ve been toying with “Frere Jacque” since it’s a real simple little children’s tune, and I figured playing with something like that to start with would be within my capabilities. So we did a bit of that in yesterday’s lesson, applying to it the same techniques I’ve done in workshops learning session tunes: i.e., breaking it down into pieces and thinking about how to play each piece.

I also asked Lisa when I should be changing bow directions, and she told me, I should change direction when I change notes. (IMPORTANT NOTE: I already know just from observing fiddle players in session that there are plenty of times when this is not in fact the case, and just from screwing around on my own instrument, I discovered that oh okay playing a bunch of notes on a single stroke is apparently how you do slurs? But for purposes of this question, I’m assuming I need to keep it simple for my newbie self and stick to “change directions when I change notes.”)

Given this, and given breaking “Frere Jacque” down into its constituent pieces, it seems to me like the bowing pattern gets a little weird and I’m not entirely sure how to handle it. The pieces look like this:

1st piece: Fre-re Jac-que, Fre-re Jac-que (Down-up down-up, down-up down-up)
2nd piece: Dor-mez vous? Dor-mez vous? (Down-up-down, down-up-down)
3rd piece: Son-nez les ma-ti-nes, Son-nez les ma-ti-nes (Down-up-down-up-down-up, down-up-down-up-down-up)
4th piece: Ding-dong-ding, ding-dong-ding (Down-up-down, down-up-down)

So it’s the 2nd and the 4th pieces that are confusing me a bit, because those are tuples, not doubles. And I can’t do two down strokes in a row, right? So should I go down-up-down, up-down-up? That would seem like the right thing to do, but I am not a hundred percent sure.

Any string players want to advise me?

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: Han Says NO (Han Says NO)

I just saw the news breaking: Carrie Fisher has passed away at the age of 60, following a recent medical emergency.

Goddammit 2016. :~(

I was afraid we’d see this, when the news originally broke about her medical emergency a few days ago. I’d been at least a little hopeful given that we then saw news that she’d been stabilized… but apparently, this shitstorm of a year just had to get in another punch and take General Organa from us.

Much has been said on the various blogs I follow about Fisher’s openness talking about her past addiction issues, as well as her capabilities as a script doctor in Hollywood, something she hasn’t gotten nearly as much credit for as she should have. But for me, of course, she will forever be Leia Organa, princess and rebel and general. Given how important Star Wars has been to me as an SF/F fan–particularly with my history of playing Han on Star Wars MUSH, which of course meant that I roleplayed with multiple people playing Leia, so yeah, the character is real important to me–it’s safe to say that she’s one of the most iconic characters of my childhood. And arguably the most important female character I encountered early on, in my initial exposure to SF/F.

Star Wars was the first movie I can consciously remember seeing in a theater. I’ve written before about the visceral memory I have of seeing that opening shot of the Star Destroyer rolling up the screen. But I also have very early memories of me and my brothers having Star Wars action figures, and my always being a little jealous and protective of the Leia figure.

And of course when Empire came out, I had gotten old enough to start crushing on Harrison Ford. Part and parcel of this, of course, was how vital Leia was as a part of that–because sure, Han was totally swoonable and all, but Leia’s part of all their wonderful scenes in Empire are just as critical to me as Han’s.

Han: C’mon, admit, sometimes you think I’m all right.
Leia: Maybe. Occasionally. When you’re not acting like a scoundrel.
Han: Scoundrel? Scoundrel? I like the sound of that.
Leia: I happen to like nice men.
Han: I’m a nice man.
Leia: No you’re not–
*SMOOCH*

Not that I’ve memorized that scene or anything. :~}

But oh god yes her lines in Star Wars, too.

“You came in that? You’re braver than I thought.”

“Will someone get this walking carpet OUT OF MY WAY?”

Fuck. Fuck this fucking year.

I think I gotta rewatch A New Hope and Empire now. I was kinda going to do that anyway after seeing Rogue One… but now, yeah.

To all my fellow Star Wars fans, many hugs.

To Carrie Fisher’s family and loved ones and all her fans, deepest condolences.

I choose to believe that General Organa has damn well gone to become one with the Force. As she damn well should, y’know, being Force sensitive and all.

Han and Leia

Han and Leia

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: Blow This Thing (Blow This Thing)
Rogue One

Rogue One

I now get to say this twice in a row: that? That was a goddamned Star Wars movie.

Dara and I went to go see this thing in 3D IMAX today, and when the credits rolled, we took off our glasses and looked at each other. We’d both been crying. And we nodded knowingly to one another as we realized that, and came out of the theater talking about how we both had ALL THE FEELS.

Because yeah, even more than The Force Awakens (which, let me remind you, I quite adored), this movie grabbed hold of everything I loved from A New Hope and brought it roaring back to life.

Open the shield for transmission because I am about to broadcast SPOILERS.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Thinking)

My colleagues over in NIWA are having a discussion about trigger warnings on our Facebook group tonight. I’ve added a little bit to that discussion at the level I thought appropriate, and would now like to come over here into my own space to go into a bit more detail about my stance on the idea in general.

I have seen a lot of sturm and drang about what trigger warnings actually are and what purpose they serve. There are a lot of folks out there who have negative opinions about them, but I don’t want to get into that; I already got into that in 2015, and do not need to do so again. The point of this post is to just talk about what I believe trigger warnings to be and what purpose I find them to serve.

There are two ways I can talk about this: as a reader, and as a writer.

As a reader, there are certain things that cause me to actually appreciate a thoughtfully worded trigger warning. For example, anything warning about sexual violence as a plot point. Due to my own history and that of more than one of my loved ones, the vast majority of the time, I’m really not going to want to engage with any story that involves sexual violence.

I would be overstating the matter to claim that such a story would trigger me; it probably wouldn’t, not in the way that I understand that word to be used when people talk about being triggered by things. But at the same time, I want to know before I actually start to engage with a story if there’s going to be rape involved or any other kind of sexual abuse–because if there are other aspects to that story that might counterbalance that and make me want to engage with it anyway, I want to be able to factor that in when I’m making my decision about whether to read or view that story.

Here’s a specific example. While I’m a big Marvel fangirl and have happily watched all the various Marvel movies, both seasons of Daredevil, and some of Luke Cage, I have specifically avoided watching Jessica Jones on the general grounds that I know that story’s about a woman dealing with having been sexually abused. And while I rationally understand that it’s a very powerful story and that in fact David Tennant by all reports does a brilliant job of portraying the bad guy, I also know that I would really not enjoy being a viewer of that story.

Again, it would be overstating the matter to say that it would actively trigger me, and I don’t want to disrespect the term by claiming it would. But I also will not dismiss my own less potent reactions. I know I wouldn’t want to engage with that specific story, so I won’t.

Also, let me emphasize that if I know a story has sexual violence in it beforehand, this doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not going to engage with that story at all. What it does mean is that I’ll probably go to greater lengths to find out whether it has other aspects to it that might counterbalance my distaste for that kind of plot and make me want to take that story in anyway. In the case of Jessica Jones, I read several reviews and recaps of episodes just to see whether the plot sounded like something I could deal with anyway, and to get a sense of what the fandom felt about the material over all.

With a book, I’d do much the same. If I’m looking up a book on Goodreads and I see a mention in the reviews on it that there’s sexual violence in the story, if there are other things about that book I may want to engage with anyway, I’ll take greater care before deciding whether I want to buy it. I might check it out from the library instead. And I’d go over the reviews for it in more detail, just to see what people have to say about it.

In short, a thoughtfully written trigger warning about sexual violence in a story is something I feel would let me make an informed decision about whether I want to deal with a particular story. And the key phrase here is “informed decision”.

I also don’t feel as though a trigger warning about some other thing (e.g., graphic non-sexual violence, e.g. a car crash, or whatever) would annoy me. The presence of a trigger warning on a story in general is not going to make me specifically not want to read it. It’d be a neutral piece of information for me, one that would not be immediately relevant to my own decision about whether to engage with a story. But I am totally fine with it being there for someone else to make that same informed decision.

Now let me talk about this as a writer.

To date, I haven’t written anything that I feel really warrants a trigger warning. As you might guess from the first part of this post, it’s extremely unlikely that I’ll ever write sexual violence into one of my plots. I’m not saying I never will, if a story presented itself that legitimately required it, but the bar for that story to clear would be very, very high. (In fact, as a younger writer, I actually tried working a rape plot into a draft of one of my earliest novels. It… did not work. And that’s a decision I do not feel I would make lightly now that I’m an older and more experienced writer.)

If I were to write something that would warrant it, though, I’d be thinking about how to present a trigger warning in a thoughtful way. I don’t feel like I’d make it hugely complicated or blatant–just a little note at the beginning of a story, to alert potential readers that “hey, this story has potentially sensitive items X, Y, and Z in it”. I also don’t feel like it’d be appropriate to go into too much detail, because spoilers are not a thing I want to throw out willy-nilly, but I could see myself inviting readers who do in fact need to know more to contact me directly.

Because really, at the end of the day, it’s all about that aforementioned informed decision. It might cost me a reader, who might say “well shit, I guess that story isn’t for me”. But on the other hand, it might also gain me a reader, who might say “oh dear, well, this one bit of the story sounds like it’ll be a problem, but I like these other bits so I want to read it anyway, and by the way, Anna, thank you for actually warning me in advance”.

‘Cause really, sticking a trigger warning on a story is going to cost me at most a few sentences worth of effort. Which, if you’re a writer writing a 100,000 word novel, really isn’t that much effort at all.

And if it happens to make a potential reader’s life a little easier, I certainly can’t see the harm in that.

Given the world we live in, I think we need all the little gestures of compassion we can get.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Good Book)

Finally, another post in the Bilingual Lord of the Rings Reread series! This post provides my commentary on the French edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, and specifically on Chapter 1.

As I get into the bilingual commentary on these chapters, I’m going to be following a similar format to what I’m doing in the Harry Potter Reread posts. So I’ll be borrowing many of the same headers I’m using on that series!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Book Geek)

I currently have the following things available for direct purchase from me!

Faerie Blood

I have six total print copies of Faerie Blood left in my main stock.

Additionally, I have one extra copy that has a slightly different coloration on the cover, since it’s one of the earliest copies printed and we were still experimenting with the color tones. So it’s a bit paler than the usual copies. Still looks good though so I include this as available at the same price as the usual copies.

Bone Walker

I have 10 total print copies of Bone Walker available.

Additionally, I have two extra copies that have wildly miscolored covers. These were bad copies that came out during the original print run, and Third Place Press just let me keep them. These are available at a significant discount, since they do look very weird. These copies are otherwise fine, though!

I have another copy that has faded a bit on the spine, since it was sitting on the shelf and got some sun on it. So I consider this a cover problem as well, and will make this available at the same discount.

Lastly, I have two damaged copies of Bone Walker. These ones were originally intended for Kickstarter backers, but came back to me damaged in the post. Their covers were damaged, and since they were backer copies, they are signed made out to those backers. These are also available at a steep discount.

Faerie Blood Ebook Bundle CDs

These are the limited run of CDs I burned with an ebook bundle of Faerie Blood in various formats on them. This disc includes both the Drollerie Press edition of the book as well as the current edition. As a bonus, it also includes the short story “The Blood of the Land”.

I actually sold a copy of these at Orycon, go me! I now have eight of these left, and will not be making new ones with this specific set of files.

All of these items are purchasable via my Square store. Additionally, the print copies are available via the Bandcamp merch pages Dara set up for me, which you can find here.

The next convention I will likely have items available will be Conflikt in January, and after that, Norwescon. But if people buy from me before either of these, I’ll be in a position to do fresh print runs of both books.

Questions? Let me know!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

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