MeiLin's blog

Reinhabiting the world

Crazy Random Happenstance

This is long.

I haven't gotten much writing done these past few days. Some, but not much.

For years after I got sick, our yard went to hell, and I tell you: In Oregon, hell is covered in blackberries. The blackberry vines were up to my neck. The dog couldn't go down the back steps. It was that bad.

We finally scraped enough money together to hire a landscaper, who wasn't able to do much more with the little we had but clear out the blackberries and other weeds, and lay down the bones of our future garden. Gravel paths. Beds where future shrubs will go. A gravel patio next to the concrete patio, with two raised beds for vegetables, and a fire pit.

For eight years I haven't been able to use our yard. Now, in fine weather and foul, I find myself walking through the yard, patrolling for those damn blackberries and thistles. Even after their ruthless extermination, they're determined to come back, and I am determined to stop them. The only way to do so is to wait until they stick their tender, tentative heads up through the mulch or gravel, and cut them to the ground. Over and over and over. Eventually, they give up and die, or go somewhere less hostile.

When that is done, I find myself sitting on the back deck under my new patio umbrella, drinking coffee. Sometimes I read. I am so very behind on my reading. I haven't read--really read--in years. I haven't let myself. Reading fiction was frivolous. I felt guilty for doing it. I had things to do, like kids, and staying alive.

I have a lot of young writers in my orbit, not unusual in homeschool circles and not unusual when both my daughters are writers of one kind or another. "For every word you write, you must read ten," I'd opine, parroting better writers than I am--Steven Barnes just for starters.

But was I reading ten-for-one? No. I had spent my youth walking into walls with my nose in a book. Wasn't that enough? Hadn't I stored up nearly forty years' worth of words before I stopped letting myself read?

No.

Reading is my job. It's a huge part of my job. It's a part I was confusing with laziness. Reading, for fiction writers, is not laziness. It's essential.

Consequently, I am gorging on words like a starving woman. I am sitting on my deck in soft Oregon sunlight, sometimes filtered by the patio umbrella, sometimes by clouds, and I am reading. I spent this afternoon reading a Roger Zelazny novella. I spent the days before that reading Tanith Lee's The Silver Metal Lover (wonderful, and very close to my own work), Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind (the longest prologue I've ever read, not that I minded too much), several anthologies including the next one I'm in (Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel, which you can pre-order now--it's coming out Thursday!).

I read N.K. Jemisen's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I finally finished Anansi Boys. I have a bunch of books by friends on my Kindle to go through. I renewed my subscription to Fiction River and Clarkesworld, and I'm going to subscribe to Lightspeed. I'm reading Trollope, who I adore, along with a group of other Trollopians; right now we're reading He Knew He Was Right. I may even take YET ANOTHER run at that goddamned Cryptonomicon; I have been trying to read that book for years now.

Today, as I sat in the perfect warmth on the deck, I had the Zelazny novella ("Eye of Cat") in my hands. I'd spent my therapy appointment yesterday talking about why the hell I wasn't writing more than a couple hundred words a day (yesterday I actually deleted words); I didn't know, except I currently have a strange, dreamlike sense of the present that I'm loathe to leave.

Last week was my eighth "rebirthday," the anniversary of my death and revival. Usually flashbacks and PTSD accompany the day, but not this year; this year I didn't even realize it was the day until it had passed. For the last few years, struggling with the PTSD, a supplement it turned out was slowly poisoning me, several illnesses and a surgery, the world of the body was out of my reach. I didn't go outside--couldn't. I didn't do much of anything but write, and suffer, until there was nothing left but illness. I am better now, but I am also empty.

It dawned on me that in spending my days reading outside, soaking in warmth and peace in my new garden, I am not just filling myself back up. I am learning how to be in a body. I've never been good at being in a body. When I was a girl, struggling with my weight and all the soul-crushing judgment that comes of being a prone-to-fatness woman in a misogynistic culture, I used to fantasize about being disembodied--just a floating consciousness.

What a sad wish, don't you think? I have had and will have again literal eons to be part of the disembodied whole. Though droplets of my soul may go on to be a part of many other things, this is the only time I'll be me. Being me, means being in this body.

So that's what I'm doing. I'm back to learning to be in this body. I'm back to learning my craft through the work of others who are better at it than I am. And that will have me back at the keyboard, sooner than we all think, because I am letting myself do these things.

I have to.

"Lovers and Beloveds": Free Just About Everywhere!

Site News

I'm celebrating being at the halfway mark on book three in An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom!

Lovers and Beloveds is FREE for a while at Amazon, Kobo and Google Play. If you've ever wanted to read it without clicking through all the chapters here, or if you've ever wanted a friend to read it, now's the time.

UPDATE:

LaB is now free at even more bookstores! Here's the full list:

Direct: four most popular formats in one purchase
Amazon: US ~ UK ~ CA ~ AU
Kobo Books
Google Play
iTunes: UK ~ US ~ all regional iTune stores (search for ISBN 9780981307190)
Smashwords

Happy 6th Anniversary!!!

Celebrations

I think I miss this every year--MeiLinMiranda.com turned five years old on February 28th, if you can believe it. I can't! Some of you have been with me the entire time, some of you have just recently stumbled in. I love you all. Smiling

CORRECTED: I counted wrong because reasons. We are SIX, not five! Smiling

Two it is

The response here, on FB and from the newsletter has been overwhelming. It's motivating, that's for sure! The consensus is 100% for two books.

Book three news: It may be twins!

I'm back at work on An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom after a difficult 2013. Hard at work, actually--the writing is coming much more easily, to the point that I now face something of a dilemma. I think I know what I'm going to do, but I'd like to talk with you about it.

Radio Silence

I figured out recently why book three has fought me so hard, and why I've kept radio silence on some critical issues: I'm depressed, a lot more than I thought, and for some time now. If I haven't answered something you've asked me, that's why. Not an excuse but an explanation. I'm trying to clear things up and get straight.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA HAT WEAR YOU

We are having what is for Portland bitterly cold weather! It got down to 12F last night. This is a problem for me; my heart condition is such that breathing cold air can bring on angina. Happened on Friday.

So I broke out the bunny hat! This is me (on the left)and my fellow bunny-wearing friend Ima. We are the Bunny Hat Gang. Hand over the chai and no one gets hurt!

Wherever you are, I hope you're warm!

When in Doubt, Read

Story Behind the Story

I've been having a lot of trouble writing this year--a lot, especially the third History book. I've cranked out some short stories and edited The Machine God, but otherwise it's been dismal. I had some reason; of the last eleven months, I spent three flat on my back, sick abed. It took the wind out of my sails, and my self-confidence with it.

When in doubt, read.

I was at the Goodwill yesterday and went through the books. This particular Goodwill is well-stocked. I got a bagful of books for less than the cost of two mainstream publishers' ebooks. Used does not support the authors, which makes me sad, but right now it's the best I can do.

This is what I came home with, all things I've never read:

Get inside my mind :)

Story Behind the Story

I'm in the hot seat at Eden Baylee's blog in her regular "Get Inside the Mind of" series:

What quality do you most admire in men and women?
In both it’s the same: empathy. So many people have trouble recognizing the struggles and suffering of others.

What is your greatest regret?

Today's BPAL: A World Where There Are Octobers

BPAL

Continuing my quickie reviews of the latest BPAL series, here's A World Where There Are Octobers, which I didn't receive until November, but oh well. It's based on a quotation from Anne of Green Gables:

Today's BPAL: 13 (September 13, 2013)

BPAL

For those of you unfamiliar with my BPAL reviews, every Friday the 13th the company puts out a new limited edition scent, available just for that day and no more. I bought a decant rather than a whole bottle.

Generally speaking, I like the 13 series; it's usually based on a chocolate note of some kind. I don't always get a decant of the series, though, since I have a lot of them already, more than I can use in a lifetime for sure. This one has allspice and nutmeg, though, and boy I love spices. (My desert-island BPAL is Mama-ji, which is spice spice spice Neil Gaiman and spice.) Here's the description for this one:

Today's BPAL: Theme in Yellow (Halloween '13)

BPAL

I finally got my envelope full of decants from the latest BPAL limited,edition collections: a bunch of "Weenies" and some of the Lilith collection they do every year to celebrate the birthday of their daughter. There are some real winners in here, stuff that I may watch for partials of, for when I have monies, which I don't. Smiling

Today I tried Theme in Yellow, based on a Carl Sandberg poem and described thusly:

Ghost songs and love to the harvest moon: fresh pumpkins warmed by candlelight and aglow with Halloween joy.

In the bottle: very foody, but not overly sweet. Unlike many BPAL pumpkins, this isn't cloying--it's not "buttery," which is often the description used for their pumpkins. This is very much raw pumpkin--it smells exactly like a scraped-out jack o'lantern.

Wet: still that raw yellow pumpkin flesh smell, now joined with candle wax and a little smoke. Beth never fails to amaze; she almost always hits the olfactory mark, and she does so here. This is a fresh jack o'lantern.

Dry: this has more staying power than pumpkin fragrances usually have, but still fades. Several hours later I'm getting more of a beeswax/amber, faint but still there.

Verdict: love! On the partial list.

Sneak Peak at Book 3 Draft for Newsletter Subscribers!

Story Behind the Story

Tomorrow I'm sending a chunk of book three to my newsletter--if you're not a subscriber, subscribe now or you'll miss it. The piece I'm sending out is the beginning of chapter one; it's a draft, mind, so I hope you cut me a little slack. Smiling

Patrons have already seen it. Actually, patrons have seen the prologue, too, which I can't send out via newsletter since it's a little NSFW. This is IHGK. People have sex in it. That's what makes it the "intimate history" and not just the "history." Patrons will also get the next bit of chapter one tomorrow.

Whee! I love showing you guys bits of book, even if the writing isn't polished. That's what we've always done, no? Smiling

The Machine God on sale today and tomorrow at Amazon


The Machine God, my steampunk fantasy novel in the Drifting Isle Chronicles collaborative series, is on sale today and tomorrow at Amazon for 99 cents! So if you've been thinking about it, now's the time; a full-length book for a buck is an offer that's hard to refuse.

First chunk of draft book 3 ch 1 posted

Story Behind the Story

I'm trying to post the rough--and I do mean rough--draft pieces of book three every Friday for subscribers. Today is the first chunk of chapter one; if you missed it, the prologue was posted last week.

Also: I'M AT ORYCON! Wheeee! I'm heading into my first panel.

Book 3 draft serialized for patrons, plus: I'm not @amandapalmer

Site News

I've started posting draft writing in book three of IHGK, something many if not most of you have been waiting for. It's only for patrons, though I'm going to give newsletter subscribers little tastes along the way. Remember this is "alpha" writing. You will note typos, editing artifacts and inconsistencies; I'm not going back and revising earlier bits if the plot changes or I foreshadow stuff. But it's an insight into the making of the sausage. Smiling

Sad announcement: As it turns out, I'm not Amanda Palmer after all, which is okay because I suck at the ukulele, I look terrible in lingerie as outerwear, and as much as I like him, waking up next to Neil Gaiman doesn't appeal as much as waking up next to Velvet Ackbar. Smiling The free model isn't working for me any more and hasn't for some time. I can't keep up the pace and deliver quality that satisfies me, and even when I do the return on my time investment isn't there. With the advent of ereaders, the age of the reader-supported webserial, except for those serialists long-established, is past. Serials themselves can make it in ebook, but not free on the web, at least for me it seems.

I will not be serializing the third book, nor the next book in the Drifting Isle Chronicles. I was even going to pull book two of IHGK and book one of DIC, but on consideration I will leave those books currently up for all to read. As I find time to write more Scryer's Gulch that will also remain free.

This decision makes me extremely sad. It's been my business model since I started this site in 2008. It worked then--I made half our household income thanks to my wonderful readers. But now I make almost nothing off anything but advertising here. No one donates, I hear more and more that people don't want to pay when they don't have to--they devalue my work. So I've reluctantly made this decision. My books will always be Creative Commons and DRM-free, though. That will never change, nor will my love for those of you who've been with me since the beginning and those who've just joined us on this exploration of the Greater Kingdom and the Drifting Isle.

Ok I'm getting teary now...

Actual final new cover of Gratification Engine, really

I had to scrap the last two attempts on the Gratification Engine cover; the lady was just showing too much skin, and even though the painting was a freakin' Renoir, it wouldn't have passed Amazon or iTunes muster. There was a tiny bit of possibly-nipple showing. The shame! I am disappoint; she looked so much like Anda.

Anyway, here's what I finally came up with. It's a Boucher, which is about a hundred years earlier than the time period I based the History on, but it's a lovely painting--a favorite of mine, of a mistress of Louis XV of France. (I like Boucher a lot anyway.) The whole picture displays her very sweet bottom, so we only see her from the waist up. It also fits the cover better. Behold:



She doesn't look as much like Anda, but the general effect fits the story. And it goes nicely with the cover for Fairy Tales Vol 1. Smiling

Speaking of the Gratification Engine: its protagonist, Scholar Jep Burrman, appears in the opening segment of book three. He may possibly figure later. I'm still working that out.

Book three is far enough along that I'm going to start posting raw chunks in the patron area, starting tomorrow.

Allegories of the Tarot goes live today!

(Hey, you guys: We writers got this awesome page about the new book and I'm just gonna give it to you as-is--I can't improve upon it!--MLM)

*

Allegories of the Tarot Badass Marketing Blog Tour

Get the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology in on Amazon (non-US: search on ASIN B00G6S9EYI), Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords.
Add the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology to your Goodreads to-read shelf!

Swing by the Allegories of the Tarot Facebook page and enter the release-day giveaway of a custom Tarot box--complete with Tarot deck!

Who hasn't been fascinated by the mysterious Tarot, writer and reader alike? For centuries, fortune-telling by the Tarot has caught many an imagination, but nothing like what will be presented here.

22 cards... each an individual splinter of the human psyche.

22 writers... honing each splinter into a story of triumph and decay, arrogance and humility.

Stories of the brightest lights and the darkest corners of the weirdest minds.

22 cross-genre worlds.

22 portals into the Universal.

Only one way to get there.

Come with us. Cross the portals. The Universal awaits.

Allegories of the Tarot

About the book

Once upon a time, there was an editor with a fascination for the Tarot.†She was struck one day by a crazy idea. "Hey," she said. "What if twenty-two writers each wrote a story about the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana of the Tarot and were fashioned into an anthology?"

The idea would not leave her alone.

And thus, the Allegories of the Tarot was born.

Crowdfunded by a campaign on Indiegogo with the help and support of an amazing group of writers, twenty-two stories were crafted around the mysteries of the Tarot. The group includes a Pushcart Prize nominee, a Pulp Ark nominee, a former Bigfoot researcher, a journalist, an award-winning YA author, and a Rhysling Award winner. Professional writers, new talent, and a range of genres boggling the mind:†Horror, Speculative Fiction, Bizarro Fiction, Erotica, Mystery, Humor, Paranormal, Epic Fantasy, Literary, Romance, and Historical Fantasy.

What has emerged is an outstanding collection of fiction, unique and mysterious. Stories that will make you cry, make you laugh, and make you think. Stories that make you feel the touch of the Universe.

Dare to step through the portal to shadowy realms and emotional journeys.

Early readers have fallen in love with the†Allegories of the Tarot

"Allegories of the Tarot Anthology is a magical book. Magic that will keep you turning the pages. There are muses, demons, †psychics,†evil,and more! I shivered, I laughed and I even cried. Magic, I tell you. Magic." -Julie Affleck

"Reviewing an anthology is slightly more difficult than discussing a book or comic because the tone varies from author to author. However, Allegories somehow flowed together as a well-matched whole. The project ended up feeling like several beads strung together to form a beautiful necklace that were more amazing for being paired together." -Jodi Scaife

"All twenty-two stories in this volume are, in a word,†superb. I found myself scouring the Internet as I read it; every story made me want to go find more work by its author.†The ultimate compliment I can give†Allegories†is to say that when I finished it, I thought how I envy those who havenít read it yet." -Lisa Millraney

Get the book!

Allegories of the Tarot is available in e-book and paperback format on Amazon(non-US: search on ASIN B00G6S9EYI), Barnes & Noble, Kobo and in multiple formats on Smashwords..

Don't forget to add†Allegories of the Tarotto your to-read shelf on Goodreads.

Connect with the†Allegories of the Tarot†Anthology on its†website,†Facebook, and†Twitter.

New cover for "Gratification Engine" (Updated)

Story Behind the Story

I'm working on bringing some of the covers I've done myself up to snuff. I've already redone "Accounts," and now I'm doing "The Gratification Engine."

I really like the way the Fairy Tales cover turned out, so I decided to go that route. I found a Renoir nude that reminded me a lot of Anda--a LOT. She's a little prettier than Anda, but the general lines are there. No naughty bits are on it, but there's a great deal of skin, so I'm marking this as NSFW; if you're reading at LJ or Goodreads, click through:

Buy the paperback, get the ebook free on Amazon!

Story Behind the Story

Starting today, if you buy my paperbacks at Amazon--Machine God, Lovers and Beloveds and Son in Sorrow--you get the ebook free via the Matchbook program. I'm planning on implementing that here as well--automatic download of the ebook with the paperback--but I don't have time right this minute. If you have already bought a paperback from me, drop me a line via the contact form and I'll get you the ebook.

Join my newsletter to get an exclusive preview of my upcoming short story, "Vista Bridge"

Story Behind the Story

Hey, folks! I have a book dropping on Halloween! Well, part of a book. Smiling Annetta "the Eddita" Ribken, my longtime editor, has included me in a tarot-themed anthology called, naturally, Allegories of the Tarot--twenty-two stories by twenty-two writers, each on the theme of a tarot major arcana card.

My card is the Wheel of Fortune, and my story's called "Vista Bridge." It's never appeared before, anywhere (and won't appear anywhere else for at least a year). I'll be previewing it exclusively to the newsletter people this Thursday (and the patrons in about five minutes--they'll get a little longer preview), and I want you to have a chance to catch it. Sign up here. To sweeten the deal, you also get a free, exclusive mini-ebook when you sign up!

In which I am interviewed

Story Behind the Story

Jodi Scaife has an interview with me up on her site. An excerpt:

Jodi: I’m most familiar with your Tremontine series and know that it began with Emmae and Warin’s story. What were your influences for the world building in the books?

MeiLin: The main one is a dear friend named Manoki, who’s a sociologist. I wrote a very rough version of Warin and Emmae’s story as a simple naughty fairy tale, and she BOMBARDED me with questions about their world. To my amazement, I knew the answers. She’s one of my beta readers to this day and still bombards me with questions. (I dedicated The Machine God to her.) Tremont is part Victorian England and part Imperial Rome. When I’m world building, I start there.

Thanks, Jodi!

New cover for "Accounts"

Story Behind the Story

I'm spiffing things up. I went back to the original covers for Lovers and Beloveds and Son in Sorrow, since the new ones didn't seem to be helping.

I've also learned a few things about cover design in the last few months; I do my own covers for most short stories and novellas I release, the exceptions being The Mage's Toy and The Amber Cross, which were both premades.

So now I'm dinking around with the cover for "Accounts." I don't have time to dink around with any others; this is my only experiment for now. Here 'tis; click to embiggen:

I like it better, but I'm not sure it's exactly there yet...

For Patrons: Allis Obby's account

Story Behind the Story

I'm working on a new cover for Accounts, and as part of it I mocked up a page from Maleen Polls' ledger. The full page is only available to patrons. It tells some rather harrowing stories...

Four Tremontine fairy tales for four royal children...

Site News

Fairy Tales from the Greater Kingdom Vol. 1 is live! I've put together a little collection of four fairy tales, one for each of the children (but little Anneya--she doesn't know any fairy tales yet). Three of these may be familiar to a few readers, but one is brand new:

For Ellika: "Little Snowflake," the tale of a queen and her bear
For Temmin: "The Fisherman's Teeth," a classic Kellish ghost story
For Mattie: "Winter's Girl," the story of a sassy girl who says she doesn't believe in the spirit world...

...and a brand new one none of you have read:
For Sedra: "The Clever Boy," about a youth who thinks he's smarter than the Gods--you may think you know who the boy is, but remember: this is a fairy tale!

Right now, Fairy Tales from the Greater Kingdom Vol. 1 is only available in my store, but if you'd rather buy from Amazon, Kobo, B&N or another etailer, it should be live within 48 hours. Just search for my name. Wherever you find it, it's only 99 cents! If you're a patron>, it's free from my site; just use the coupon code FTV1-PATRON.

Cover reveal for "Fairy Tales from the Greater Kingdom Vol. 1"

Site News

I have a little collection of Tremontine fairy tales coming out this week! It's four short stories, some of which have appeared here: "The Fisherman's Teeth," "Winter's Girl," "Little Snowflake"...and a new one, "The Clever Boy." Here's the cover, I just finished it:

I'm happy with the way it turned out. I'm releasing this tomorrow--99 cents here and at all fine ebook retailers near you. Smiling

New fairy tale collection on the way!

Story Behind the Story

In the coming week or so, I'll be putting out a collection of four Tremontine fairy tales. Some of you will have read three of them--"The Fisherman's Teeth," "Little Snowflake" and "Winter's Girl"--but the fourth story is brand new. It's called "The Clever Traveler Boy," and some of you may recognize the hero. It's a fairy tale, though, so don't take it at face value! Laughing out loud

Here's a little taste of it:

There once was a boy, a Traveler, though they didn't bear that name back then. He was red-haired but handsome, and played the harp so well it charmed the birds from the air and the girls to his bed. Everyone thought this boy exceedingly clever, but no one thought more highly of his cleverness than the boy himself.

One day as he walked along the road, he found a book lying in a ditch. The mud all around was mounded up, as if the book had fallen into it from a great height, but the book itself shone like the sun. The clever boy picked it up; in spite of the muck, it was clean as anything and encrusted with gold and jewels. "Well," said he, "here's a pretty thing I can sell." He opened it to the first page. "Oh," said he, "here's a pretty thing I can keep for myself," for it was the book of Pagg, filled with every Law both known and unknown. "With this book I can make and unmake everything in the world."

This was in the days when the Gods walked the earth more freely than they do now. Everyone knew to show respect should they meet a God, but the boy thought he was as clever as They were. So when he saw Pagg Himself come running up, he only whistled a little tune and didn't even bow his head. "Give Me My book!" Pagg said.

"Your book? I found it lying in the road," said the clever boy.

"I dropped it from the heavens. Give it back, or I will make it so you've never been born!"

"Not so fast," said the boy. "To do that, You need this book. Who's to say I can't unmake You with it?"

Fairy Tales from the Greater Kingdom Vol 1 will be 99 cents here and at all major retailers and will be free to all premium members. Meanwhile, if you haven't signed up for my newsletter, you're missing out on a free mini-ebook you can't get anywhere else, full of episodes of "Ask a Tremontine." It doesn't come very often--no more than every other week usually--and has news of book releases and samples I won't be sharing here. Hey, incentives, my dears! Smiling

Happy birthday, Je Voudrais Cake!!

Celebrations

It's Jim's birthday! Cake all around!

Me at the Vancouver Community Library


I spent a lovely afternoon yesterday at the Vancouver Community Library as part of a panel on self-publishing. From left to right up there: organizer and general mensch Erik Wecks; yrs trly; James T. Wood; local indie superstar Ernie Lindsey; and Ryan Bethurum (sorry, Ryan, I couldn't find your site). We talked about our work, the process of self-publishing and its impact on not just the publishing world but our own lives in particular.

Thanks to Erik for organizing it and inviting me, and to the Library's Amy Scott for hosting us. If you're in Vancouver (the American one), all three of my novels will be added to the library catalog soon!

That makes two library systems that I'm aware of where my books can be found. The Multnomah County Library has six copies each of Lovers and Beloveds and Son in Sorrow, and has an order in for copies of The Machine God. If you'd like to see my books in your library, drop me a line and I'll help you get the information you need.

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An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom, The Drifting Isle Chronicles and Scryer's Gulch by Lynn Siprelle writing as MeiLin Miranda are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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