Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A Revolution of Rubies

Just uploaded the ebook, and if Amazon stays true to form it'll be live within a day. When that happens, I'll put up a snippet from the first chapter.
This is the sixth and (for the moment) last book in the Applied Topology series that began with A Pocketful of Stars. I failed to specify that when uploading, so I'll have to fix it at some point. Right now Amazon won't let me edit the submission, maybe because it's officially "in review," maybe because they don't let you change details on Wednesdays in January; who knows? I've spent enough time waltzing with the 800-pound gorilla for now, I'm going to do something comparatively easy and relaxing like writing the next chapter of the third Dragon Speech series and I'll poke at Amazon again later.

I had the usual fun with chapter headings:

1. The Shaimak Rubies
2. Best quality Russian vodka
3. Black bags and big dogs
4. Cuisse de nymphe émue
5. Meadow is shocked out of her sandals
6. Catch me if you can
7. Mata Hari had nothing to do with it
8. The same zip code as a poker game
9. Getting to first base in Barcelona
10. Pomegranate seeds
11. A dialect with its own army and navy
12. Varieties of sudden death
13. A civil war waiting to happen
14. Excuses for the devil
15. When in doubt, throw something
16. The Lake Shaimak Threat
17. Hostages
18. Playing tag with the mountains
19. A broken city
20. The continuous perception of reality
21. All the help he could get
22. I dislike hurting women
23. The Bronx is up
24. The dragon of the lake
25. A divided khngl

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Definitely a debt to someone


This isn't about writing or fiber art; I'm just venting my mild irritation with a blog post I read elsewhere, about someone's fury at having been told by a commencement speaker that they owed "a debt to society." Maybe it's true for this generation, and even the previous generation, that they did it all themselves; I'm old, I haven't lived their experience. But speaking for myself:

My father served during WWII. So had all the men I met who were his contemporaries. Every. Single. One. Including the one who lost a hand, and the one who ended up in a psychiatric hospital.

The public schools I attended varied in quality, but at least they taught long division in third grade. (They don’t now. It was fifth or sixth grade when our kids went to school, and I suspect by now they just say, “Oh, use your calculator.”)

I went to the University of Texas at a time when you could get a first-class education there (though you could also avoid it if that was your choice), any graduate of a Texas high school could attend, and tuition for in-state students was $100, which even people who were working their way through college could manage without getting a bank loan.

I feel I owe a lot to the previous generation, who defended our country and this system; and since I can't pay it back, it was my responsibility to pay it forward. It's still my responsibility, and will be until the day I die. Maybe that’s not the same thing as “a debt to society,” but it feels like it. I can certainly understand the adverse reactions from people who feel they’ve been screwed by society (with outlandish tuition fees, going or sending their children to worthless public schools, etc.) but I don’t, personally, share their sentiments.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

My Kindle is an enabler

So this morning, in the place where it usually shows me a carousel of book thumbnails just too small to read, my Kindle displayed the "encouraging" message:

"You read 31 days last month.
That's one more day than the previous month.
Keep it up!"

Sad to say, I don't think there's any way I can score 32 reading days in January. Although if I do find some way to open a slit in the calendar and jump through into a magic land of unlimited days to lounge around with my nose in a book, y'all will be the first to know!

And to think that the Kindle doesn't even know about all the dead-tree books on and beside my bed: Yoruba Kingship, Takedown Twenty, Wolf Boys and A Needle in the Right Hand of God. (Because by bedtime my eyes are tired of looking at screens.)

At least, I hope it doesn't know about them. I will get seriously creeped out if I pick up the Kindle later this month and it cheerily congratulates me on finishing Yoruba Kingship. But then, that particular book is written in academic-ese and published in relatively small print, so my chances of finishing it are not 100%.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Endings and Beginnings


Old year, new year? No... old series, new series. A Revolution of Rubies is now in the publication pipeline. It may not be the last book ever in the Applied Topology series, but for now it's the sixth and last, after which I'm going to publish a Regency fantasy and then start a new series that's kind of a spin-off from the previous one. I've been trying to think of something different to put at the end of this book, since I don't have a teaser chapter for "next in series" this time.


I’ve noticed that a lot of books now have a list of Book Group Questions at the end. I can see the benefit from the publisher’s point of view – getting a book picked up by a discussion group has to be great for sales – but most of the questions seem to be written by literary types who are all about symbolism and subtext and not at all interested in storytelling and having fun. So I had a crack at creating my own BGQ’s for A Revolution of Rubies. And concluded that I’m no good at this; most of these questions are only fun before you’ve read the book. Oh, well. I put the opening of the Regency Fantasy,Salt Magic, at the end of the book, after all. But I hate to just throw the questions away, so here they are:

1. Thalia and the rest of the Center for Applied Topology have been sent to Europe to ingratiate themselves in diplomatic circles so that they can help bug the homes and offices of the diplomats. What could possibly go wrong with turning a bunch of topologists loose among diplomats? What couldn’t go wrong?

2. Would you steal a woman’s borrowed rubies in order to get access to her niece’s paranormal abilities? Wouldn’t you even wonder about the wisdom of provoking someone who can become invisible and walk through walls?

3. If a foreign agent and a woman with serious skills in card manipulation walk into Casino Barcelona, who’s going to have to borrow cab fare home?

4. Lensky flatly forbids Thalia to try using her paranormal abilities in certain contexts. More than once. Whatever could have given him the illusion this would work? Will the handcuffs do it?

5. A Revolution of Rubies takes place in Paris, Barcelona, and the imaginary Central Asian country of Taklanistan. Talk about these places from Thalia’s point of view, with particular attention to the various forms of chocolate-enhanced snacks available in each one.
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