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1. Appearing tonight at Coyote Con!

Just dropping a note to say that I’m participating in Coyote Con this month. Coyote Con is a month-long digital spec-fic author’s convention running throughout May. Tonight, I’ll be speaking on the Character Creation: Non-Humans panel from 9-10 pm EST. I’ll also be speaking on the GLBTQ Fiction Writing panel on May 22nd at 7 pm EST. There are a bunch of really cool panels, and I suggest checking out what’s there. Where else can you participate in a month-long Con for free, without having to leave the comforts of your own home? *g* Huzzah to Deena Fisher of Drollerie Press and author Joely Sue Burkhart for putting this together!

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2. Worst. Blogger. Ever.

*cough* So that whole regular updates thing kinda failed spectacularly… Let me just say (as I break in between Latin homework and cleaning the house, ah the glamorous life of a PhD student) that I am working on Heart’s Peace, and it should be out this winter, and that I’m taking a little while off the Con circuit as I figure out A: when the local upstate NY cons are and B: how this whole graduate school thing is going to work out.

Until then, the Muppets singing Bohemian Rhapsody.

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3. New Year, New Resolutions

So I went to Horse Camp this winter break (more on that later), recentered myself as a writer, a rider and a PhD student, and decided to do the ’school’ thing for a while. I’m going to write, and I’m going to get Heart’s Peace out by December (otherwise Aidan’ll be chattering in my head for the next four years), but most of my attention will go toward that Dissertation Thing and my comps and Becoming a Member of Academia.

That doesn’t mean I can’t have some fun though.

So I’m signing up for the POC Reading Challenge, where I’m going to try to read 7-9 books by/about People of Color this year (Level III).

I don’t have a book list yet, but I will post what books I read when I do get one. :)

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4. Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum

Hope and joy of the season to you, and may the light shine in the darkness. Happy holidays!

My favorite Christmas castle. :)

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5. And more interview!

The lovely Julia at Outer Alliance took time to post an interview with me as this week’s Spotlight. Check it out! Thanks, Julia, for the great questions!

1 Comments on And more interview!, last added: 11/2/2009
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6. Heart’s Price is up!

They kidnapped Mikael. They kidnapped his family and killed his parents. Now, they may succeed in ending Soren’s very world. It’s time to stop them.

Soren’s life changed the moment his cousin Katjin brought home a renegade heart-sense.  Forced to act as guardian over the wayward pair, Soren created his own mess when he bound Katjin and Mikael in a ritual so old people had forgotten its consequences: a bond between two people so strong that it kept them physically together. Soren’s world has turned upside down, from the kidnapping and valiant rescue of his family, to his exile from the plains he grew up in. Now Soren’s going to turn the tables on the very Empire that has been hunting him for over a year.

Partnered with Aidan, the Shahi firepower, and Aya, lost twin of an Empire ‘path, Soren finally has to put the great plan to topple the Empire’s hold on the Clanfolk in motion. Even with the support of his renegade uncle, Soren begins to doubt his ideas with every step. His need to save lives combines with the inner struggle that Aidan, Soren’s closest friend and ally, seems to be going through, and all Soren can do is keep his act together, damn the consequences. Soren’s learning that everything, from victory to love, has its price.

Now available from Prizm here.

And yes, Gayle, Aidan gets his cataclysmic volcano.

3 Comments on Heart’s Price is up!, last added: 10/22/2009
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7. National Coming Out Day: A Day in the Life of Katjin Redwind

From Heart Sense:

Meke smiled, a calculating smile. “We can even bring him to the Gathering, introduce him to a few boys his own age–nice boys he’s not related to.”

Katjin almost choked at that. He could just see that happening too; Meke would drag him to every yer within a day’s ride if it meant she could introduce him to some nice boy he could settle down with. And probably would this summer, if he knew his Meke. He groaned. The fellas might be nice to look at, but there was still a bit of awkwardness to it. My meke thinks you’d make a great partner for me. Can you make fry bread? It was hard enough to make conversation with the boys in town, much less the boys of the Horse Clans. At least she’d given up on him settling down with some girl, especially after she found him and one of her best friend’s grandsons skinnydipping at the summer camp three years ago…

Kat shivered, wrapped in the large blanket Meke had thoughtfully put around him as she herded him and Niko Three Rivers back to the Gathering. Niko, a whole year older than Kat, hadn’t so much as looked at him last year, when Katjin was just eleven. Now that Kat was twelve, though, he’d seen Niko shooting plenty of appreciative looks Kat’s way. Some fellas did — not as many as cozied up to Katjin’s cousin Soren, all sixteen years of swaggering and prowess and bully, but still, there were a few.

“It’s because of your eyes,” Niko said in a rush. Niko, word had it, was promised to a girl from the Blue Lightning clan. Still, promises were just promises when you were twelve and thirteen, and it wasn’t like they’d done anything. There’d been a kiss, and that was nice, even if Niko’s nose did poke Katjin in the eye.

“What about ‘em?” Katjin muttered, watching Meke’s back. He knew she could hear. She had ears like a thought-sense, and was almost as dangerous.

“Pretty green. Not brown as mud like everyone else’s.” Niko’s face focused on the grass, but Katjin could see the blush staining his tanned skin bright red.

Kat felt his own face flush. “Really?” His voice squeaked. He hated that. Soren always made fun of him for it.

Niko shot him a shy smile. “Really.”

Kat thought he heard Meke snort, but he couldn’t be sure, since they’d reached Three Rivers’ yer. “Here you are, Master Niko,” she said gravely. “Tell your ama that, if she’d like to talk to me, she may.”

It was Niko’s turn to squeak as he ran to the yer, blanket flapping behind him.

“You’re not gonna tell Apa, are you?” Katjin asked, a little afraid. He knew Niko was probably in for it — not ’cause Kat was a fella, but because he wasn’t the girl that Niko was promised to.

Meke chuckled, gathering Katjin close, wet blanket and robe and all. “That I caught you sneaking off with a boy, when you’re far too young for it?” She gave him a stern look. “You bet I am, young man. That you have fine taste in choosing a son of the Three Rivers clan? Perhaps. That he’s already promised elsewhere?” There was the scolding he’d expected. “You’re still young, but you know that’s nothing to be taken lightly, Katjin.”

Kat nodded. “We just meant it in fun.”

Meke smiled at him. “I know, love. But you’re too young for a broken heart, and that’s the last thing I want for you now, be it a boy or a girl who breaks it.” Most clans didn’t care who you partnered with, so long as the family approved. Redwind clan had been none too pleased when Apa brought home Katjin’s ama, outClan and daughter of the Lowlands to boot. As long as the boy was Clanfolk, Katjin figured that his family wouldn’t care. Still, it was nice to know that for sure now.

“I won’t let anyone break my heart, I promise,” Katjin swore, x-ing over his heart. He looked up at Meke again through his eyelashes. “You really don’t care if I bring home a fella, stead of a girl?”

Meke smiled, leaning down to kiss his forehead. “Little Kat, you could bring home a ‘path, for all we care. As long as he’s someone who loves you, and you love him, that’s all that matters.”

Little did she know, three years later…

1 Comments on National Coming Out Day: A Day in the Life of Katjin Redwind, last added: 10/12/2009
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8. Cover Art for Heart’s Price

Complete with picture of Nisha, Soren’s horse. Yes, I do love my cover artist. She is just slightly kind of awesome.

Stay tuned for Heart’s Price, soon!

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9. Heart’s Price galley proofs are here!

Slight delay in Heart’s Price, but it should be out soon, since I’m holding precious galleys in my hand as we speak. The cover art looks very pretty — have I mentioned that I love my cover artist? Pluto seriously rocks.

Plotting on Heart’s Peace continues…

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10. Taking Pride with the Outer Alliance

As a member of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.

Today is Pride Day, and I’m proud to be an ally and advocate for GLBT rights, in spec fiction and in writing spec fiction. I celebrate diversity in the many worlds that we inhabit, both in our heads and in real life. And here’s hoping for a day when, in that bright future, we’re all equal in gender and all that relates to it.

And here’s a snippet from Heart’s Price, book three of the YA Fantasy GLBT “Heart” trilogy (soon to be a quartet!). Heart’s Price comes out on September 15th from Prizm Books:

The kisses — he wasn’t sure what to do about the kisses. It was sweet, aye, and it was comforting, and Soren liked it. He wasn’t sure what Aidan actually meant by it, though. They were friends — really good friends, brothers in arms, almost — but there’d never really been talk of more than that. Soren’s sisters and cousins and occasionally Katjin had teased Soren about Aidan being his mate, but beyond that? He’d fancied a girl or two, and thought himself desperately in love with a fella from the Salt River clan four summers back, when he was a little younger than Shria, but beyond that… He hadn’t had the time to think of mates and partnership and setting up a yer with someone. His goal had always been the cavalry, and after that, retiring with horses and fat babies and peace on his family’s migration route.

But Aidan knew him, had been with him for the past year and walked every step beside him. Starless hells, Nisha even liked him. And his horse didn’t like just anybody, case in point that Salt River boy that Nisha almost kicked in the head after he tried something with Soren that Soren didn’t exactly appreciate.

So he clung to hands and arms, and tried to take comfort, and tried not to think — or feel — to much about it. Apa always said that attachment in times of war could never be permanent, that everyone fell in love when danger appeared.

1 Comments on Taking Pride with the Outer Alliance, last added: 9/28/2009
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11. Media appearances *cough* Or whatever you want to call them

I forgot! I was interviewed by Rainbow Reviews. Check it out here! Rainbow Reviews is a great GLBT fiction review website. They’ve given both Heart Sense and Song great reviews, as well as a plethora of other multi-genre GLBT books, from YA historicals to adult romanticals. ;)

Also, there’s a new LGBT advocacy/education SF/F group called The Outer Alliance. They’re on Facebook, and they also have a blog. Check it out!

Plus, I’m on Facebook! Feel free to friend me. I promise I’ll actually try to update and stuff. Unlike here. *coughs*

Thus ends KLR’s media update.

1 Comments on Media appearances *cough* Or whatever you want to call them, last added: 8/26/2009
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12. Milestones

Heart’s Price, now clocking in at 63k words, is back in the hands of Ye Olde Editore. Hopefully this was the last round of edits, though I still feel like the last battle scene is weak. For Heart’s Peace, I’m just not going to do any more battle scenes. I can do touchy-feely character-driven stuff. Action, not so much.

School starts in a week! Hello, future PhD! I’m looking forward to getting back into the research angle of things, and I have a feeling that there might be an Arthurian book in me somewhere, by the time I’m done. Well, I have always wanted to rewrite Arthur from my POV…

Currently homeless and keyless (lost them somewhere last week, potentially the dog-in-law ate them) and pointless, but all that will resume in September. Heart’s Price out! Classes start! I’ll keep you posted!

Also picked up Gone and Hero, so it’ll be nice to read some fluff reading before I fall into the pit of Medieval Colonialism.

Hee. Medieval Colonialism. Wonder what Soren would think of that…

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13. Getting back into the rhythm

Life is full of upheavals and never goes according to plan. If it did, we wouldn’t be able to write novels. No one wants to read about someone’s daily routine. They want to read about what happens when that daily routine deviates.

Which is why normal, every day life makes for a really bad story.

My life, right now, is coming back out of novelization and back into day-to-day diary-style. We’re almost moved, school has almost started, and it won’t be long til I find the rhythm. It’s the same with writing. Edits on Heart’s Price are in, and I’m anxiously awaiting Round Two (now with more action and a completely rewritten beginning!). I’m considering Heart’s Peace (book four), because I think Aidan really wants to talk about volcanoes and moa and how certain people adapt to living in a certain place. Again, upheaval and break from the routine. I’m pondering another, completely different story vaguely based off my time at Girl Scout Camp. Also having to do with horses, because I just really like horses.

So, yeah. Rhythm. Finding the thread of the story again, or dropping that thread until something interesting happens. I’ll keep you posted. :)

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14. Someday I’ll actually make a real update

Edits due in three days. *hates edits. HATES* Moving in four days. *hates moving. HATES* How do we kill time/procrastinate? By googling ourselves!

I found a review. A nice review. :) And I completely agree that Heart Sense does lag a bit in the middle…

Anyway, thank you, Kris, for the nice review, and I hope you like Heart Song. And Heart’s Price, once I finish beating Soren over the head…

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15. The gift of reading

I have a wee new nieceling, part of my New Zealand family. She’s just days old and tiny-tiny, and I happily started a library for her. Granted, it consists of three Sandra Boynton board books and Wearing the Poppy by my good friend AJ Toledo, but still, my little kiwi tamahine has her very own books and her very own stuffed sheep bookends. In a few years, I’ll send her a couple more books to add to that collection, so that the stuffed sheep bookends can grow farther and farther apart.

I love giving books as gifts. Yeah, giftcards to B&N or Borders or Amazon are a lot easier, and sometimes better appreciated, but there’s something about sharing a book that you love, or introducing a friend to one of your favorite characters. I forcefed books to some of my friends in high school, and they forgave me for it eventually. I also forcefed them some of my own craptastic writing from that time, much to my regret. I played a couple letter games in my time, spending two years writing letters back and forth to my in-game sister as we replayed the Civil War through the eyes of two girls, one in Nebraska and one in Pennsylvania. We built family trees and married and had children and lived this entire life, before we went and killed ourselves off, because we were tired of it all. We fought, we made up, we didn’t talk to each other for weeks, but we still wrote those letters faithfully and delivered them, twice a week, at lunch or between classes as we passed in the hallway.

I guess that, to me, writing’s a gift. Storytelling is a gift that you pawn off on someone else, introducing them to a new person, a new idea, a new place in time. You hope they like it, that it inspires them somehow. You hope they take something away from it. Writing, and books, may be the only gift actually meant for regifting. The gift that actually gains more on return, because the ideas and worlds and characters grow with each retelling, acquiring more depth and meaning with each new visit.

So, this summer, go out and meet some old friends, or make some new ones. Introduce some people. Go out and explore the world and see what you find. Then tell me about it, since I’m always happy to learn about something or someone new.

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16. Old friends

There’s something about meeting a childhood author, one of those people that you grew up with and loved and cherished the worlds and characters they created. Someone who indelibly influenced you and the person you’ve become. I was surprised by the rush of emotion I felt meeting Valerie Tripp, author of the Mollly books for the American Girls collection. When I sat down in front of her and babbled off who I was and how old my Molly doll was (egad, twenty-two years?), she patted my hand and said, “Well, now, we’re old friends then, aren’t we?”

I almost cried. In fact, there may have been some minor tear-age.

Last night, it wasn’t as bad with Tamora Pierce at her signing at Vroman’s, but it was close. The voice wavered, there was a bit of stumbling and tongue-tiedness. Not from being star-struck, but from trying to express a lifetime of gratitude for Alanna and her shortness and her red-haired stubbornness. For Tris, and the fact that Tris is me (seriously). And for the fact that she created worlds for little girls waving swords when there weren’t a lot. It was wonderful to come to the signing as an adult who had grown into myself with these strong women, and to meet this wonderfully funny and snarky author who is a rather amazing and funny woman at heart. She’s not a superhero, and she’s not a god in any way, but she, too, is an old friend.

I’m lucky to grow up with the books I did, to have the role models and the heroes and heroines. I forget how much they made me who I am and what I read and write. If it hadn’t been for a unicorn once called Amalthea, or a Lady Knight or two, I’m not sure who I would’ve become.

But I’m glad I am who I am. And I’m glad I get to tell some of these people how much they meant to me, both as a child and as an adult.

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17. Entitlement, or, how to be a good reader

I love Neil Gaiman. I saw him at BEA last year and adored from afar. I love him. I love his cooky creative bent and his dark, comedic stories. I have an undying love for his poem, Instructions. And now, I love him because he reminds me how to be a reader, and how to not bitch about what authors are doing:

Entitlement Issues…

This:

“Some writers need a while to charge their batteries, and then write their books very rapidly. Some writers write a page or so every day, rain or shine. Some writers run out of steam, and need to do whatever it is they happen to do until they’re ready to write again. Sometimes writers haven’t quite got the next book in a series ready in their heads, but they have something else all ready instead, so they write the thing that’s ready to go, prompting cries of outrage from people who want to know why the author could possibly write Book X while the fans were waiting for Book Y.”

And this:

“[The author] is not your bitch.”

I like what he says about authors needing a recharge, needing to stop and explore life. I know each of the Heart novels burns me out successively, until I can’t write again for another three months or so. I know edits on HP are going to burn me out, because it is, in essence, writing a new book. I hope that my three readers will understand that. ;) I also hope that I’ll be more patient for that third Damar book I’ve been waiting for since I was eleven, and Wizards of Mars, and that book about Tris at Lightbridge, trying to be a ‘normal’ mage. I will wait, because it’s the author’s gift to me, not the other way around. I don’t need the book to be written. I would like it, but I’ll wait, because I have no hold on the author. I barely have a hold on KL Richardsson, as it is.

So, go forth, read a good book, reread that good book, and remember why you love it. And hope, in your secret heart of hearts that the author rights another Damar book soon, because I’ll whine quietly to my friends if it doesn’t happen.

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18. Editing til the brains leak out of my head

Heart’s Price is officially in edits. And my editor broke the book and wants me to put the pieces back together again, effectively doubling the book length. This book is the one I struggled most with, so I think he is right on a lot of counts. I don’t know if I have another 45-50k in the story, but we’ll see! Soren will be happy, since he wants more spotlight anyway. And Aidan will be happy, since he wants more volcano. My poor brain, though, may break before we head back to New Zealand in mid-June. Then prepping for the big move in mid-July. *sigh*

In any case, I look forward to a stronger, better-written book with more action, less exposition, and hopefully a cohesive plan to actually take down the damned Empire.

That’s not a spoiler, btw. It was inevitable, especially after the bastard Empire did that thing to the people with the stuff.

:)

1 Comments on Editing til the brains leak out of my head, last added: 5/12/2009
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19. The magic exists

I used to collect quotes. That was my hobby. Every holiday, I’d hand out the latest edition of KL’s Favorite Quotations to my friends, carefully printed out on my dodgy old printer. Sometimes I had themes. Sometimes it was just random quotes I loved. Once, it was even my favorite book dedications, like Lloyd Alexander’s inside The High King: “For the boys who might’ve been Taran and the girls who will always be Eilonwy.” I didn’t even have to check my battered copy of the book; I knew it off by heart.

Or Stephen King’s from It (paraphrased, because I gave away my copy because Pennywise on the cover scared the crud out of me): Fiction is the truth inside the lie, and the truth of this fiction is simple enough: the magic exists.

I’ve been thinking a lot as I procrastinate on Heart’s Price write, about the books that still touch my heart and send shivers down my spine, and the kinds of books I want to write. I want to write books that evoke that same kind of magic, that somehow reverberate within someone’s soul somewhere. It doesn’t have to be the plot or the characters. It can be something as simple as my world. I want to write stories that make someone, somewhere, squee internally. Case in point:

This is the MetLife building, formerly known as the Pan-Am building, rising up behind Grand Central Station. A lifetime ago, two young wizards were looking for the Grand Central world-gate and had discovered that it had moved… sideways and up. Yeah, it takes a fangurly book-dork like myself to realize this is the very scene that Nita and Kit saw in So You Want to Be a Wizard, but still. It touched me. It was a moment that was magic, because that place and that moment in time finally existed for me in a concrete way, nearly seventeen years after I’d first read the book.

I want my readers to feel that chill run down their spine at some turn of phrase, at some image or concept or person or plot device that they know is real. That, in their heart of hearts, they recognize. I recognized this place the same way I recognized a certain land deed in the National Archives for a plot of land by the shores of Silver Lake, or the way I knew the pillar in St. Magnus’ cathedral as the place where Magnus’ skull was buried, dent from the frying pan and all, just as the Orkneyinga Saga says it was.

It doesn’t matter if you write fiction or nonfiction, genre or literature. What matters is that you write the truth, and you write what you believe. And if you touch someone who has read your book, and they recognize what you wrote as truth… And they know, as you know…

Then you’re a real writer.

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20. Aidan likes volcanoes

I’m not really sure why, but Aidan apparently likes volcanoes. I blame it on Gayle, whose only request for Book 3 was a cataclysmic volcano. No, that’s not a spoiler. I don’t take out the Empire by means of cataclysmic volcano. Though it would’ve been a lot less complicated…

Heart’s Price is in final edits before I submit it to Prizm. It’s slated for a Fall release. According to one of my beloved betas, I need to write Book 4. Aidan needs his own book. So, yeah. My trilogy might become a quartet. Just to let you know.

Heart Song is currently on the front page of Fictionwise! The Bree half of romance author Moira Rogers pointed that out to me. She also mentions me in an interview she and the Donna half of Moira Rogers did. Yes, she and I did get tattooed together. Ask me about it sometime. ;)

And a snippet of Heart’s Price:

“You use signal fires, aye?” Aidan asked as they rode along. Well, Soren rode. Aidan clung to the back of his horse, face paler than usual and looking vaguely sick. For someone who spent most of his life living a hundred lengths up in the branches of a tree, Aidan couldn’t ride to save his life. He could, though, blow up whatever was threatening him in order to give him enough time to run away. That counted favorably in Soren’s mind.

“Too dangerous on grasslands,” Soren pointed out, waving at the high summer grasses, bleached gold by the sun. “One spark, and the whole plains could go up in smoke.” That’s why fires were always well-contained within a ring of stones, and brush was cleared from the firepit for a good ten lengths around. “Even though we rotate our campsites each season, we always light our fires in the same way at each place we camp.” Larger yer, like the ones in Soren’s camp that held an entire immediate family, had their own small iron fire-pits. Smoke from the firepit curled up and out through the wooden lattice crown in the peaked yer roof, heating both the yer and the food at the same time. Someone always had to watch the fire, though, for fear that a knocked-over firepit could take out an entire camp. The tiny conical yer that he and Aidan shared had no such shangrak — crown — so they built their fire outside, in the same place the main fire would have been in a larger camp, built both for any excess cooking that needed to be done, and as a protection against the wolves that tended to prowl the grasslands.

Aidan considered this. “If you watch, aye? Make sure the fire doesn’t burn too far? You could signal faster.” There was a sour look on his face. Soren didn’t need to be a heart-sense like Mikael to read Aidan’s annoyance.

“Or we could just kidnap a bunch of Shahi mages and make them send signal flares for us,” Soren countered with a grin. “Keep riding, demon. We want to make camp by dusk.”

Aidan scowled, muttering something in Shahi about staying home with his father. Tai, Aidan’s apa, had trained Katjin and Mikael last summer, trying to help them deal with the physical limitations of their blood bond. It was true that they’d gotten better, to the point that they didn’t need to be in physical contact all the time. The bond seemed satisfied as long as they were within a few strides of each other. They’d also discovered some explosive effects to their combined ‘pathic powers, especially when one of the two was in some kind of a snit. That was one other reason why Soren didn’t exactly miss the randy pair; all he needed was to get involved in their lovers’ spats and hormonal surges.

Soren tried to hide his grin. “Maybe Tai’ll be at the gathering. Then you can go back over the mountains to your forest and grow moss all over yourself again.”

Face as red as his hair now, Aidan just glared at Soren. “Could also light you on fire, aye? See how fast you and your grasslands burn?”

Shahi temper was nothing to mess with. Though they’d refined control to an art form over the years, especially when it came to their magics and whatever other demonic things they did, Soren still found them to be an arrogant, obnoxious, and occasionally moody race as a whole. Then again, if he’d been the Empire’s ‘demon-spawn’ enemy and butt of generations of slander, he might feel the same way.

Maybe Clanfolk had a shorter memory, or just didn’t hold a grudge as long.

“We’re almost there,” Soren tried to soothe. He couldn’t project those calming thoughts the way Mik could, but then again, he didn’t really want to share in Katjin’s bonded’s rogue ‘pathy either. Though Mik and Katjin had gained some control over Mik’s heart-sensing, they still had a long way to go before they could be let loose in full company again. It would be interesting to see how they dealt with a Gathering, and the hundreds of Clan families who would be there.

“To a hirhai, or just a hirh, like last night?” Aidan asked, referring to the villages that Shahi lived in, compared to the singular hut that a family might share.

He hated to admit how much he missed the bustled and buzz of Clan life, of how empty the yer seemed at night with just Aidan and himself to fill it. As annoying as Aidan’s snoring was, it wasn’t the cacophony he was used to in the home tent, between his brothers and sisters and parents and whatever fosterlings or other random family members were cramped into the small space. Their tiny yer, with just the two of them in it, seemed spacious, but still incredibly lonely. He missed the hum of his ama’s spinning wheel, the clack of the loom, the restless sounds of a herd of horses surrounding the camp. He missed the mutters and whispers and the constant smell of food cooking over the fire-pit. The world seemed so much bigger when he wasn’t surrounded by the chaos of camp life. Aidan was nearly quaking in his boots, but the thought of it almost brought Soren to tears.

This time, Soren didn’t bother disguising his grin. “An entire city of yer, Aidan. Just make sure you keep your hat on for a while.”

Aidan touched the peaked hat that covered his tightly-braided red hair. Soren had been amazed at the complexity of the braid, starting at Aidan’s right temple and winding its way over Aidan’s forehead and finally spiraling into a short tail at the crown of Aidan’s head. Clanfolk’s two tails were complicated enough for Soren. All Aidan did was grin back at Soren, probably remembering the first time Soren had watched Aidan’s nimble fingers weave that complicated braid. “Aye.”

***

Soren had mixed feelings as they rode toward the Gathering. Since summer camps were always in the highest parts of the Clan lands, Uncle Nolan had figured it was the safest place to meet again. The spot, though, wasn’t quite like any other bit of the grasslands. He’d tried to explain it to Aidan, but he wasn’t sure how much of the explanation sunk in.

“So there was a fire mountain, aye?” Aidan said, making a conical shape with his hands, his fingers fluttering to mimic the spew of lava.

“A volcano, aye,” Soren said. “A huge volcano–a cataclysmic volcano–and it erupted generations ago, and all that remains is a giant lake.” There were songs that were sung about that eruption, about how the land had exploded into a ball of fire and ash and mud, leaving a hollow that had gradually filled with water and became the lake. This had been before the Empire sailed north from their own lands, before even the Lowlanders arrived.

Aidan remained skeptical. “A fire mountain exploded into a lake?” He shook his head. “Our mountains were fire mountains, but they peak.” His hands met together in that mountain shape again.

“Well, our fire mountain blew a giant whole in the ground, and that’s where the Gathering is,” was all Soren could say.

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21. Heart’s Price is done

Done, submitted, dear god am I tired.

Writing playlist, for those who cared:

    Coldplay - Fix You
    Les Miserables - Original London Cast, especially “One Day More”
    Once soundtrack
    The Watchmen soundtrack, especially “The Sound of Silence”
    Steve Perry - Running Alone

And now I’m going to take a break for a little while, before I contemplate book 4, tentatively called Heart’s Peace.

Oh, Soren. I’m so sorry.

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22. Book Three is official: Heart’s Price will come out in fall

Yup, so Heart’s Price has been accepted, and will come out this fall. Edits are forthcoming. I love edits. Except I’ve figured out a few places where I need to add a scene to make relationships seem a little more credible, and then there’s the matter of a certain brother that I have to clear up…

I think, the next time that I write a trilogy or more than a stand-alone, I’ll try to discover as much as possible about my world beforehand. Because now I’m wondering if the Clanfolk keep dogs, or if they just keep watch at night over the herds, or if it’s just the Highlandfolk who keep dogs, since the Highlandfolk keep sheep, and… Is spontaneous world-building a good thing, or am I fixating too much on the details again? Bad OCD!

In other news, I’ve been reading. A lot. Which means I should probably post some book reviews/notices at some point. Maybe snippets from Heart’s Price. And get to work on Heart’s Peace. That will make Aidan happy.

Of course, I fly south to New Zealand again in three months for a brief visit to find moarevisit the country, so I’m happy right now too. :)

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23. Argh! Comments!

So I’m still figuring out this whole blog thing. And I keep deleting all the comments. It’s no offense, I’m just a dumb-arse. So, Cat from ConDor Con, that’s awesome that you draw fanart! If you’re still reading this blog, I’m glad you enjoyed the books, and I’m trying to find your email address to email you about it.

*sigh* I hate technology sometimes.

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24. Operation TBD

Tomorrow is Operation Teen Book Drop, in celebration of Support Teen Literature Day. I’m donating two copies of my books (one of each) to the West Hollywood Library.

Operation Teen Book Drop

If you have a book you love, or if you’re a YA author and you want to promote reading among teens, drop your book (or a book) in a public place tomorrow, April 16th. The Operation TBD website above has cool bookplates that you can print and stick in the books. You can drop books in parks, teen centers, libraries or any public place where people might pick it up. Or, keep your eyes peeled for books that you might be able to pick up!

No matter what your reading tastes, keep on rocking the book world!

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25. Growing up, growing out of

I’m moving cross-country in July in pursuit of higher education, a.k.a. I’ll spend the next four years in school to earn yet another Useless Degree in English. That being neither here nor there, I’m slowly but surely packing books and culling those that are not making the cross-country trek via relocube. At current count, I have something like 35 boxes of books, and that includes several shelves worth of Old and Middle English texts and all of my Arthurian lit. Have I mentioned that my true love is Arthurian lit? The majority of those books, though, are fiction and the majority of fiction are YA and kids books. Why? Many of them are old friends, and it’s hard to break that habit. Except when you’re moving across country and you realize that you’re really just not as close to those old friends as you were.

As a kid, I read indiscriminately. There was the one half of my brain that devoured every sf/fantasy novel I could get a hold of, starting with the big world-builders and working my way through. Tolkien, Bradley, McCaffrey, L’Engle, LeGuin, Norton (Andre, not the Lit anthologies), Beagle: these were the grand masters of my childhood, followed by the more recent ‘upstarts’ in terms of Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip, Pamela Dean, Diane Duane, Tamora Pierce, Patricia C Wrede, Sherwood Smith… Jr. and High school were about swallowing whole new worlds as fast as I could find them. I examined world-building from every angle and accessed every detail, adding each to my repertoire to await the day that I built my own world. Add to that a mix of LM Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott and Francis Hodgeson Burnett, and you have a really stodgy, clunky bit of writing that I did as a kid. Thank god I outgrew that — to an extent.

But mixed with those ‘classics’ per se were the trashier, less ‘highfalutin’ and highbrow “There’s a Boy in the Girls Bathroom” style books. Tween melodrama, ghost stories, one last sob stories and romance — I read every single one. I read my way through Naylor’s Alice books and collected Babysitter’s Club like they were going out of style. And I’ve finally realized that I can’t justify the shelf space for all these books anymore. They’re just as valid old friends as Montgomery and McCaffrey and McKinley, but we’re not kindred spirits anymore. We might talk once every year or so, but we don’t friend each other on Facebook. And we certainly don’t email or call.

So I culled. I culled books out of print for forty years, half of Scholastic’s Young Readers line and anything that I hadn’t picked up in five years or more. I culled stacks that the niecelings (the oldest is nine) are still too young for, and would they even want to read them, being books of the eighties and themselves children of the 21st century? I’ll donate them to my local library, to my local school teacher friends, in hopes of inspiring another kid the way I was inspired and temporarily swept away. It’s hard, sometimes, admitting that you’ve grown out of something.

I think that’s why I prefer the current trend of YA novels, which seem so much smarter and edgier and more straddling that strange place between childhood and adulthood that teens seem to reside in. I literally made the jump from Babysitters Club to Stephen King in one summer, so my reading habits were skewed (if that’s the right word) for years. I can read YA and kids books and not feel like my intelligence is being insulted, still caught up in the emotional whirlwind that seems true to what I remember from that time fifteen years ago.

I kept the books that are old friends, the ones whose meaning seems to deepen with each year. I still cheer on the Young Wizards and fight the good fight in Tortall and wonder if we’ll ever see more of Damar. I still have a house in each world, revisiting it once a season and learning a little something new with each reading (OMG, Luthe and Aerin had sex? Holy crud!).

The point? I don’t know. That books are like people, that some are passing acquaintances who are fun and some are part of your heart that touch your lives forever. That you can find bits of their worlds in mine, and that the story goes ever on and on, out from the book where it began.

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