Tag Archives: writing life

From the Road . . .

I have arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia for MarsCon 25, which begins tomorrow. I was literary Guest of Honor at MarsCon back in 2013, or maybe it was 2012. Whichever it was, I had a great time here, and when the folks who run the convention decided to invite back some of their former GoHs for this silver anniversary con, I was delighted to accept. Some of my favorite people will be here this weekend, and I’m looking forward to catching up with them, as well as meeting some new folks.

I spent the day driving from Richmond to the Virginia Beach-Hampton Roads-Newport News-Norfolk area, where I stopped in at several bookstores to sign stock. This after a wonderful signing last night with Bishop O’Connell at the fabulous Fountain Bookstore in downtown Richmond. The stock signings I did today went well — every store I visited had multiple copies of Spell Blind as well as copies of my Thieftaker books. And all the staff workers I met were friendly and professional.

The drive east from Richmond was beautiful. This entire area was hit by an ice storm yesterday, and this morning, with the sun struggling to break through a blanket of high clouds, the trees lining the highway were still glazed, so that their branches seemed to glow in the silver light. Gorgeous. Later, nearer to the ocean, I saw a Bald Eagle circling over the road, and then a Peregrine Falcon diving for pigeons just outside of Norfolk.

A good day, and, I’m sure, the prelude to a great weekend.

A Very Special Interview

Today on the unofficial Winter 2014-15 Spell Blind Blog Tour I have a very special post up at the website of Lucienne Diver, writer, agent, friend. The post is an interview with Namid’skemu, a character from Spell Blind and the other volumes of The Case Files of Justis Fearsson.

Namid, as he is known, is a runemyste, the spirit of a Zuni shaman and weremyste who was sacrificed centuries ago by the runeclave and imbued after his death with enormous magical powers. He is now a guardian of magic in our world and he is Justis “Jay” Fearsson’s mentor in all matters relating to spellcraft.

He is not the most effusive of beings and getting him to sit down for an interview was not easy at all. So I hope you enjoy this. You can find the interview here.

Upcoming Signings!!

So I’m about to begin a small signing tour, and I’m hoping to run into some of you along the way.

My first stop will be this coming Wednesday night, January 14, at 6:30 pm. I’ll be appearing with Bishop O’Connell at Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia, which happens to be one of my favorite bookstores in the world. Here are details on the event. Apparently, Bishop and I will be making your fantasies come true. As the announcement says, come restrictions may apply . . .

I will spend the weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia as a returning Writer Guest of Honor at MarsCon. It should be a great convention.

On Tuesday, January 20, I’ll be signing from 4:00-6:00 at the Books-A-Million in Gastonia, North Carolina. The folks at the Gastonia BAM have always been incredibly supportive of my work, and I look forward to spending some time with them again.

On Wednesday, January 21, from 5:30-8:00, my wonderful friend Faith Hunter and I will be signing at the BooKnack in Rock Hill, South Carolina. This is another of my favorite bookstores, and when Faith and I get together for an event it is always a hoot.

Finally, on Friday, January 30, from noon to 2:00, I will be signing books at the University of the South Bookstore in Sewanee, Tennessee. This is my home town bookstore, and my signings here are always well-attended and lots of fun.

I hope that you’ll stop by one or more of these events. I’ll be signing copies of Spell Blind, as well as books from my Thieftaker Chronicles. Something for everyone!! See you soon.

My Weekend in NYC

I have just returned from what was a truly glorious weekend in New York City, where I attended the annual conference of the American Historical Association. Now, as a veteran of AHA conventions and someone who attended many of the conferences as a frightened graduate student interviewing for jobs and presenting papers in an attempt to make myself look more attractive to potential employers, I know that “glorious” and “AHA” don’t often appear together in a single sentence. But this weekend was very special for me.

I was at the convention to speak on a panel about writing fiction as a trained historian no longer working in academia. Our panel, which was chaired by agent Jennifer Goloboy and included Andrea Roberston Cremer, Laura Croghan Kamoie, and me, was tremendous fun. We had a large, engaged audience, and our discussion touched on matters of craft and business, as well as on ways in which we all use our history backgrounds to enhance our writing.  (I talked about the Thieftaker Chronicles, which I write as D. B. Jackson, and which are set in pre-Revolutionary Boston.) I also sat in on a career fair, where I spoke with graduate students and employed academics alike about ways in which they might incorporate creative writing into their careers.

Long ago, when I made the jump from academia to writing fantasy, I had no interest in maintaining close ties to the academy. I didn’t enjoy scholarly writing and I don’t believe I was especially good at it. I know that I was not yet mature enough to be an effective teacher, and I believe my lack of passion for history crept into my pedagogy. (I am a much, much better teacher of writing than I ever was a teacher of history.) I left the academy with an excellent academic job offer in hand, and I did it to pursue my true passion, a profession I love. It was the right choice and I have never had any regrets. And yet there was a part of me that felt as though I had “failed” at history.

So there was something redemptive about this weekend. It took going back to the AHA as a professional writer to make me realize that I hadn’t failed after all. I left on my own terms and as much as I enjoyed the weekend, I realized more forcefully than ever that my life would not be as rich as it is had I stayed in academia. More, the weekend affirmed for me something that I’ve come to realize as I’ve written the Thieftaker books. I still love history. I don’t want to be a historian, but I still enjoy the discipline, and in blending my interest in it with my passion for writing fantasy, I have, at long last, found a bridge between the two professional worlds in which I’ve lived. I suppose that was part of what this weekend was about for me: realizing that I can still call myself a historian even as I continue to be a writer of speculative fiction. It was a deeply satisfying experience.

Of course, the best part of the weekend was catching up with a couple of my closest friends from graduate school, and then spending a memorable evening with my two closest friends from college and their families. I also caught up with some cousins I hadn’t seen in years. Fellowship, love, laughter, and an exploration of history on so many levels — intellectual, personal, familial.

So, yeah. A glorious weekend at the AHA convention. Who would have thunk it?

Release Day for SPELL BLIND!!

Today is release day for Spell Blind, the first book in my new contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books, the Case Files of Justis Fearsson. This release has been a long time in coming, and I really could not be happier to see the book in print.

To mark the occasion, I have a post up at Magical Words called “Release Day and Defining Success.” It’s about taking satisfaction in our writing achievements while also remaining ambitious and pursuing ever-greater goals. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you will go out, buy a copy of Spell Blind, and enjoy that, too.  Thanks!

SPELL BLIND Teaser #6!!

200SpellBlindSpell Blind, Book I in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, my new contemporary urban fantasy series from Baen, will be released tomorrow in hardcover! I’m very excited, and I hope you are, too. Here, for your enjoyment and enticement, is the last in my series of teasers from the book. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you.

I made my way to the Z-ster, Antoine’s laughter still ringing in my
ears. I had been preparing myself all day, planning what I’d do if I felt
the Blind Angel Killer’s power again. But like an idiot, I allowed the
kid to throw me off balance.

And so, when the red sorcerer suddenly had me in his sights again,
I was utterly unprepared. I tried to ward myself, knowing as I did that anything I came up with he could defeat, knowing as well what he was trying to do with these teasing encounters. But I made the effort anyway.

The feeling was much more vivid this time. I knew he was close.
Too close. I turned a quick circle, but I also knew that I wouldn’t be
able to find him. The hairs on my neck and arms stood on end and
my skin grew cold, as if I was in shadow and the rest of the city was in brilliant sunlight. If he had wanted to kill me in that moment, he could have, though I would have put up a fight.

But he was toying with me. For a split second, I thought I could
hear laughter. Not ’Toine’s, though I heard that, too. This was deeper,
more menacing, more elusive. I turned again, trying to pinpoint where it was coming from. But it was everywhere. Around me, above me, below me. It was in my freaking head.

You’re mine now, I thought I heard someone say.

And then it was gone. The laughter ceased, the sun shone on my
face and arms, a warm wind touched my skin.

Three times. Once outside of Robby Sommer’s place, once outside
of Robo’s in Tempe, and now here, in front of Antoine Mirdoux’s
house. Was there a connection there, something linking the three of
them to one another and to this sorcerer with the blood-red magic? Or was it mere chance, the random choices of this bastard who was
hunting me?

I should have been concentrating on those questions, trying to
figure out what Robby, Robo’s, and Antoine had in common with the
Blind Angel victims.

But all I could think was that he’d done this to me three times now.
He’d touched my mind with his magic; he’d tested my defenses and
seen how I would respond to an attack, how I would ward myself.
Three times.

There’s power in numbers. He knew me now. I was his. And the
next time, if he chose to attack, there would be precious little I could
do about it.

SPELL BLIND Teaser #5!!

200SpellBlindSpell Blind, the first novel in my new series from Baen Books, The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, will be released the day after tomorrow. And in the meantime, here, for your enjoyment, is another teaser.

By the time I headed for the Z-ster, night had fallen and the moon
was up. It was well past a quarter full and bone white in a velvet sky.
And though we were still several days away from the full, I could
already feel it tugging at my mind, bending my thoughts, making me
shiver in spite of the warm air.

Describing the phasings to someone who wasn’t a weremyste was
like trying to describe color to someone who had been born blind.
Words weren’t adequate. The closest I’d heard anyone come to
getting it right was something my dad told me not long after my
mom died. We weren’t getting along at the time, and his grip on
reality, which had already become tenuous before Mom’s death, was
slipping fast. But what he told me then in anger still rang true to this
day.

“It’s like somebody reaches a hand into your stinkin’ brain,” he
said, “and swirls it around, making a mess of everything. The thoughts are still there—your sense of who you are and how the people around you fit into your life—but they’re scrambled. There’s no order, no time or space or story line. The boundaries disappear. Love and hate, rage and joy, fear and comfort—you can’t tell anymore where one ends and the next begins. And the worst part is, you know it’s happened—you know that it all made sense a short while before, and that now it’s gone. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”

That was how it felt to me every time. You’d think after a couple
of hundred phasings—three days a month for half a lifetime—I’d get
used to it, or find some way to fight my way through. But each one
feels like the first. I’ve tried to brace myself, waiting for moonrise the
way I would a shot at a doctor’s office. It doesn’t do a damn bit of
good. As soon as the full moon appears on the horizon, I feel those
boundaries my dad talked about being sucked out of my mind.

That was the tug I felt now, with the moon shining down on me.
It wouldn’t happen until the end of the week, but already it was
reaching for me, testing my defenses and finding them as weak as
ever.

SPELL BLIND Teaser #4!!

200SpellBlindAnother day, another Spell Blind teaser. Spell Blind is the first book in my new series from Baen Books, The Case Files of Justis Fearsson. It comes out on January 6, just a few days from now! Enjoy this newest installment.

I hobbled into the alley, glancing down at my bloodied leg and
swearing loudly. Robby backed away from me until he bumped into
the scalloped steel door of an old garage. He pulled something from
his pocket and fumbled with it.

“Stay away from me!” he said, waving his hand at me. It took me
a moment to realize that he was holding a small knife.
I stopped and considered drawing my Glock, which was still in my
shoulder holster. I’m licensed to own it and Arizona law allows private citizens to carry a concealed weapon. And though I hadn’t been on the job in some time, I still felt more comfortable with a weapon at the ready. In this case though, I figured I’d learn more from Robby if I got him calmed down.

“Put the knife away, Robby. You don’t want to get hurt.”

“I said stay away!”

I started walking toward him again. “You really are an idiot, aren’t
you?”

In a way I hoped he would try to cut me. My leg was aching and I
was itching for an excuse to kick the crap out of him.

“I’m smarter than you think. I know that you guys want to nail me
for dealing, especially now that Claudia’s dead.” His eyes were darting from side to side, searching for any way out of the alley. He might well have been desperate enough to attack me.

“Who do you think you’re talking to? I’m not trying to pin
anything on anyone.”

“Bullshit, cop!”

“I’m no cop.” He started to argue, but I raised a finger to silence
him. “I was when I busted you, but I was kicked off the force a while
back.”

“Yeah, right. What for?”

I wasn’t about to tell him that. “I beat a perp to death.”

His eyes widened.

“Put the knife away, Robby. I just want to talk. I’m a PI now. A
private investigator,” I added, seeing his puzzled expression. “I’m
doing a little work for the Deegans, trying to figure out what happened to their daughter.”

Fear and uncertainty chased each other across his features.

“The cops are after me, though, right?”

“I honestly couldn’t tell you. They know you didn’t kill her. But
they also know that you deal, and that Claudia had drugs with her
when she died. Lots of the Blind Angel victims did,” I added, eyeing
him as I spoke the words.

Robby seemed to sag. The hand holding the knife fell to his side.
“Shit,” he muttered, eyes on the ground. I’m not sure that he heard
my last remark. “I didn’t do anything.”

“No? What about Jessie Tyler?”

His gaze snapped back to mine. “That was you today.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Throw another spell at me and I’ll break your
neck.”

A New Year’s Post at Magical Words

I have a post up today at Magical Words — another in what I am calling the Unofficial Winter 2014-15 Spell Blind Blog Tour.  The post is called “Taking Stock and Taking Risks,” and it is about the closing of this year and some of my goals for 2015. You can find the post here. I hope you enjoy it, and I wish you all a wonderful New Year.