Medieval Peasants R US

I live on a small horse farm. We have a hundred year old Amish built barn, which is put together with wooden pegs instead of nails. The house has walls that are more than a foot thick. There is a general sense of the quaint and rustic, which will come in handy if I ever choose to write a swords-and-horses fantasy.

This winter it’s become a little too realistic.

With the polar vortex in January, all our barn and field pipes froze, and we commenced carting water to our animals by hand twice a day. We made jokes about Medieval Peasant Industries, Inc. These were funny for the first week. Last week, we got more than two feet of snow…and the house pipes went out, too. We have extended our peasantry to carting water to our house, and boiling it on the stove when I want to wash my hair or do the dishes.

The other thing I learned this winter is that while our chickens are cute and friendly and I love their eggs, they are slightly less intelligent than a bag of blunted hammers. They free-range on the farm, but when it snows, they can’t find their way back to the coop. Looks different, I guess.

On the day of our first snow, the chickens got lost. I went to the coop at dusk and it was empty. A long search turned them up at the very top of the hill, roosting on a fence. Here commenced another form of rural exercise, which I call ChickenFit: catch a chicken, carry it down an icy snow-covered mountain to the coop, stuff it in, climb back to the top of the mountain. Perform sixteen  repetitions, or stop when you collapse of exhaustion. I wonder if I could charge people to participate in our organic all-natural exercise regime. We could make a fortune!

I have now decided any swords-and-horses fantasy novels I write will have to include magical never-fail plumbing. And chickens with homing navigation.

I sold a book!

I’m delighted that Samhain Publishing will publish TALENT TO BURN, an urban fantasy novel with strong romantic elements, in June 2014.

As a child, Cat Wilson could not read minds, see the future, or start fires like the other Talented kids inside the shadowy Grey Institute. Tired of being an experimental guinea pig, she ran away, leaving behind her beloved brother Eric, and she’s kept running ever since.

Jamie Murphy is a charming former conman and professional gambler with a Talent for finding people. He brings bad news for Cat – her brother has finally broken away
from the Institute but he’s lost control of his firestarting Talent and killed five people. Jamie works with a group of outcast and misfit Talents who want to help Eric, but first they have to find him, before the cops or the Grey Institute…and before he kills again.

I’m excited that this book will be published, and so happy to be working with the nice people over at Samhain!

Baltimore Book Festival

This weekend I’ll once again be at the Maryland Romance Writers Stage at the Baltimore Book Festival! If you’re in the area and feel inclined to come by, I’d be delighted to see you.

2013 BBFfinalArtOn Saturday at 5pm my agent Lyndsay Hemphill is taking part in a panel called No Holds Barred with Agents and Editors. You can bring the first page of your manuscript and Lyndsay and the other panelists will offer feedback on it!

On Sunday at 1pm I am on a panel called The Part Time Writer, where we’ll discuss the challenges of writing around a full time job or family.

The Book Festival is free and great fun – take a look at the full schedule for the Maryland Romance Writers stage. We hope you’ll join us!

Welcome to the blog!

I finally set up this blog, which will be devoted to my writing pursuits. I plan on blogging about the following topics:

  • This writing life: what I’m working on, news, and craft tips.
  • Research: what I learn in the course of researching my books. Right now this is a combination of Norse mythology and how private detectives work.
  • Creature feature: I like reading up on different monsters and myths, because it gives me ideas. I’ll share what I learn.
  • Books I love: I’ll review or otherwise feature books I love from favorite authors, friends, critique partners, and chapter mates (there’s a lot of overlap in that list!).
  • Random: I’m pretty sure other topics will sneak in from time to time.

Thanks for joining me – take time to look around!

Starting to write

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember.

When I was four I wrote a “graphic novel”: a story that took up an entire notebook, but the story was told largely in pictures. It was the story of Vater the Villain, a wicked spy, and his rather unfortunately named Cousin.

At five I decided my handwriting was too babyish, and taught myself to type on my big sister’s manual typewriter. I wrote a story about Mr Brontosaurus, Mrs Brontosaurus, and their enemy T-Rex.

I scribbled stories under my folder all through school. I wrote to Anne McCaffrey to ask for advice when I was about eleven, and she wrote back. It made my year. I still have that letter somewhere, in the envelope magically postmarked Ireland. I was convinced that one day I would be a novelist. I sold my first story when I was fourteen, and it appeared in a national magazine.

These days, I’m writing novels, and hoping one day to see them in print.

What’s your writing story?