MeiLin's blog

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

  • Posted on: 17 November 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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:

A fortune's wheel of thirteen lucky and unlucky herbs, spun around a rich, dark core of pure cacao: allspice berries, cascara sagrada, ladybug beans, cinnamon, catnip, sweet clove, cumin, huckleberry leaves and fruit, master root, copal negro, sarsaparilla, nutmeg, and green rice.

In the decant: a definite raw cacao rather than a chocolate or cocoa. Something dusty green underneath.

Wet: Warmer than in the decant. Still overwhelmingly cacao, but with a light dusting of the spices, especially the allspice. As it develops, the allspice begins to overtake the cacao (chocolates almost always fade quickly) and the clove peeks out. There's still that dusty green. I suspect the green rice and cumin. I have no idea what ladybug beans smell like.

Dry: A few hours later and my skin has eaten this almost entirely. Just before it disappeared it was faint allspice with a little clove and dust; somehow it combined to remind me of amber, but lately my skin's been turning everything to amber. Damn hormones.

Verdict: Eh. Not bad, but not one I'll be reaching for much.

Back to the Halloweenies '13 and Liliths '13 as I try them. For the BPAL-fluent I got the following in this batch: 13; Theme in Yellow; Goblin Market; Dorian in the Pumpkin Patch; A World Where There Are Octobers; Alice in the Pumpkin Patch; Lilith's Bubblegum and Roses; Lilith's Feel Good Flowers; Tarantula Fascinator; Autumn Fancies; Capax Infiniti; Little Pythia; and Tris Tarwater lent me her decant of Dark Pumpkin Mead to review.

This sounds like I ordered a ton of perfume; these are actually two separate series, and the decanter sent them all at once to save me shipping, and these are all tiny 1 ml samples.

Any requests for tomorrow?

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

  • Posted on: 16 November 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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. Smile

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!

  • Posted on: 14 November 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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. Smile

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? Smile

A Q&A with Anne Chaconas of "Allegories of the Tarot" and a Giveaway!

  • Posted on: 13 November 2013
  • By: MeiLin

Allegories of the Tarot Badass Marketing Blog Tour

Get to know Anne Chaconas, one of the 22 contributors to the recently-released Allegories of the Tarot†Anthology (which is already trailblazing its way up the fantasy anthology charts on Amazon!). Anne wrote her tale, Reply All, based on the Temperance card. You can read an excerpt of her story below.

Get the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, and everywhere else e-books are sold. Add the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology to your Goodreads to-read shelf!

About Anne

anneAnne Chaconas was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and made it her mission from around the time she was three years old to move to the United States (where, she told anyone who would listen, all the music was in English, which automatically meant life was better--flawless toddler logic, people). She fulfilled her mission at eighteen when she moved to Connecticut to attend a small private university in New Haven. There she bounced from major to major, finally landing on Literature (and guaranteeing herself absolutely no job prospects upon graduation but absolutely exceptional cocktail party conversational skills).

After realizing people down South were much nicer (and the food was much more fried), she moved there in 2007. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, two kids, four cats, two dogs, and entirely too many books. She is a work-at-home mom, and spends her days making things in the Crock-Pot, changing shockingly awful diapers, getting sunburned at the park, and working on her prose and for her marketing clients during those 45 minutes when the kids' naps overlap and those fleeting hours after they go to bed.

Anne writes many things, but has found her true love in humorous non-fiction and parenting essays. She is currently working on two books, Embrace Your Weird (a how-to guide on how to be happy from someone not academically qualified to write such a guide) and A Stork Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (a collection of essays, limericks, and assorted musings on pregnancy,†childbirth, parenthood, and other unnatural acts).

She also swears. A lot.

You can stalk her online at

Just a few questions...

What intrigues you about this particular Tarot card? The sheer power of it, and everything it represents. Temperance stands between worlds, the buffer between death and the Devil, the potential decider of fate. At the same time, it embodies calm, peace, and acceptance--a willingness to share control, see both sides of the equation. Temperance is everything, while at the same time being nothing, and it has the ability to determine endings as well as beginnings. It is a complex, complicated card, where nothing is quite as it seems--and it suits me perfectly.

Why did you decide to get roped into this project? I like a challenge. And I LURVE Netta.

Have you ever had dealings with the Tarot before? Only in passing. I've never had my cards read, and I possess only a slim familiarity with the practice. Anyone want to take a pass at freaking me out with the metaphysical?

What other projects do you have planned? TOO MANY. I've had a literary/women's fiction novel called Salve Reginain the works for literally YEARS, and I have a number of non-fiction projects in the works--Embrace Your Weird and A Stork Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next--that deal with humor, finding the happy in everyday life, and loving your inner freak. I am also getting ready to pen a collaborative dark humor mystery series with another dear author friend. AND I also run a book review blog (Indie Author Book Reviews) and a parenting blog (Momma Dearest), as well as blogging on my own author platform. It's just too much. TOO TOO MUCH.

How did you decide what to write about? The first thing that came to me was the title. "Reply All." I really liked it, so I knew I had to do something with it. I've worked in enough offices to see the disastrous effects of a poorly-timed "reply-all." The fact that Temperance stands between Death and the Devil really kept coming back to me, too. And, because I am thoroughly unable to take anything seriously and like to insert the raunch in whenever I can, I found myself drawing upon my years as a stock broker's assistant and how I was basically the buffer between him and anything that came his way. And how he was basically a devil-like asshole. And how that basically made me Temperance, standing guard between the Devil and anything that came his way. So, really, this is fully autobiographical. AND DEEP.

How literal did you want to get with your card? I knew, and continue to know, nothing about the Tarot--or at least very little. So I did what any tech-savvy person would do--I went on Wikipedia and also googled the card. And then I went on and found the definition of temperance--"habitual moderation in the indulgence of a natural appetite or passion." And, as any good humorist knows, the best way to get a laugh is to go the complete opposite way of a perceived outcome. So I fed all this information to the little muse in my head, and she screamed out "SEX! WEEE!" And off we went.

That didn't really answer the question, did it? But my answer did include the word "SEX," so bonus points for me!

Is your story a part of something you've written about previously? Not unless you count my own reply-all messes (of which, thankfully, there aren't many).

Would you like to have written about any other card? Which card? Why? Annetta picked out my card for me. I asked her to. I did that because the card I really wanted, The Hierophant, was already taken. And the only reason I wanted it was because I thought the name was really cool (seriously, I know nothing about the Tarot). And thank god for that, because can you imagine the horrible, blasphemous shit I woulda done to a POPE? The Universe worked to save my everlasting soul on this one.

If you could have the power to divine the future, would you or would you not and why? I'm that person who always vacillates when asked questions like this. I'm a planner, you see. I like to know what's coming. But what if it's bad shit? Because I'm also a moper, you see. I like to brood and stew on the bad shit. I do things like have fights with those who have wronged me, in my head, while washing dishes. So perhaps it is better if I can't divine the future. Now, if I had the power to divine AND change, that would be another matter altogether. MMMM DELICIOUS OMNIPOTENCE.

An excerpt from Reply All

Date: Friday 13 June, 9:45am
From: Williams, Temperance
To: Arcana Enterprises <Distribution List>
Subject: Leaving early today

Please be advised that Mr. Mammon is leaving at noon today to attend a tennis tournament, and will be unavailable until Monday. All urgent matters should be brought to his attention no later than 11am.

Thank you,
Temperance Williams
Executive Assistant to Stan Mammon, VP - Arcana Enterprises


Date: Friday 13 June, 9:47am
From: Kaiser, Victoria
To: Mammon, Stanley
Subject: RE: Leaving early today

Oh, is that what weíre calling it now? A "tennis tournament?"


Date: Friday 13 June, 9:50am
From: Mammon, Stanley
To: Kaiser, Victoria
Subject: RE: Leaving early today

If you want, I can ask Temperance to send out an email clarifying my weekend activities. What would you like me to have her say?


Date: Friday 13 June, 9:51am
From: Kaiser, Victoria
To: Mammon, Stanley
Subject: RE: Leaving early today

Have her say youíll be riding me roughly in the back of an El Dorado.

Read the rest of Reply All in the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology!

About Allegories of the Tarot

Allegories of the TarotOnce 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.

Get the book!

Allegories of the Tarot†is available in e-book and paperback format on Amazon, Kobo, and in multiple e-book 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.

...and now the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

  • Posted on: 2 November 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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. Smile

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. Smile 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

  • Posted on: 31 October 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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. Smile

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!

  • Posted on: 31 October 2013
  • By: MeiLin

(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)

  • Posted on: 29 October 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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:

Spoiler: Highlight to view

What do you think?


Over at KBoards there was some concern about this, so I made an alternate version innocent enough not to require a spoiler tag:


Buy the paperback, get the ebook free on Amazon!

  • Posted on: 29 October 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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"

  • Posted on: 28 October 2013
  • By: MeiLin

Hey, folks! I have a book dropping on Halloween! Well, part of a book. Smile 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

  • Posted on: 20 October 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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"

  • Posted on: 15 October 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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...

Four Tremontine fairy tales for four royal children...

  • Posted on: 10 October 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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"

  • Posted on: 10 October 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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. Smile

New fairy tale collection on the way!

  • Posted on: 5 October 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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! Biggrin

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! Smile

Me at the Vancouver Community Library

  • Posted on: 29 September 2013
  • By: MeiLin

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.

An exclusive free ebook--just sign up for my newsletter!

  • Posted on: 27 September 2013
  • By: MeiLin

I kind of buried the lede in my "what I'm up to" post, so I thought I'd better unbury it. Smile

New subscribers to my email list now receive a little gift: a compilation of my answers to "Ask a Tremontine," a forum available only to patrons. Patrons have asked me questions about the world of the Intimate History, and I've answered them. This ebook comes in PDF, ePub and mobi formats, and you can't get it anywhere else--you can't even buy it. All you have to do is enter your email address and you'll get a copy:

Join my newsletter list and get a free ebook!

For those of you who've already received and read the mini "Ask a Tremontine" gift collection (all current subscribers got a link last night to it), can you take a moment to answer a short but important survey? I'd really appreciate it, it helps me make a lot of decisions as to where to put my resources.

Is it too soon? I don't think so.

  • Posted on: 26 September 2013
  • By: MeiLin

All this pumpkin. Pumpkin this, pumpkin that. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice candles, tea, wet naps, forsooth! BPAL does a whole patch-worth of pumpkin fragrances every year right around this time. (I didn't get any this year, I have more of them I can use from previous years.)

So is it time to break out my favorite pumpkin? I think so:

Apparently I rolled a save against the autumn rain doldrums, because it's gorgeous outside today, to boot.

Oh yes, and that IS a Wil Wheaton "How We Roll" shirt, thanks. Smile

An update on me, and what I'm working on

  • Posted on: 24 September 2013
  • By: MeiLin

Hello, my dears. I am sad not talking to you, so I'm going to talk to you. Smile

So! This year has been kinda sucky. I've spent a good three months of it flat on my back, and not in the fun way. First I had pneumonia, then I had labyrinthitis as a result. It's an infection of the inner ear, makes you dizzy as hell. I still have it, a little. When I first lie down and when I first get up, the room spins like I'm on the Tilt-a-Whirl. It's kinda like being drunk for free. Oh, and pneumonia is horrible. I've never had it before and I hope I never have it again. I'm getting close to the age where I'll have to get vaccinated for it in the fall. Not quite there yet. Velvet Ackbar has gotten it the last two (three?) years in a row--he's definitely getting the shot.

(Related: Do you get a flu shot? I've just started getting it in the last couple years.)

And then there was the capper: heart surgery.

Some of you know my various adventures. I won't go into a whole lot of detail. Suffice it to say I have a rare, probably genetic condition called Prinzmetal's angina that makes my heart go beserk now and again, especially on a particular blood pressure medication that everyone else in the known universe can take without side effects, so medical people often don't believe me and give it to me anyway. That's how I ended up in 2006 in the CICU for three weeks with uncontrollable angina. It stopped when my heart stopped. And that's why I have this internal cardiodefibrillator (ICD) box implanted above my left breast. If my heart stops again, zzap, it'll bring me back.

Except not long after it was implanted, like three months after, one of the wires leading from it to my heart was recalled. Eh, we'll leave it in, they said, the risk of it fracturing is less than the risk of more heart surgery.

Flash forward to 2013. The battery on the ICD is dying. They have to go in and replace it, and while they're at it, they decide to dig out the defective lead and replace it, too. Seven years has increased the risk of it breaking and delivering repeated, unnecessary shocks to my heart. Day surgery became three days in the hospital.

But now I'm out and mostly recovered, all new wiring, all new ICD. I have to go through the ICD replacement in seven or eight years, but I'll think about it then.

So that's why I haven't gotten much writing done this year! I'm working now, though. What on?

I've written two short stories that my editor Annetta Ribken tells me are very good. One of them is at a major SFF publication, where they are peering at it and poking at it and seeing if they want to buy it. It's made it past the first hurdle. That's raised the chances they'll buy it from less than 10% to about 50-50. If they do, you'll hear about it and how to read it.

The other story? Annetta bought it herself. Smile It's called "Vista Bridge" and it will be appearing as part of the Allegories of the Tarot anthology as the Wheel of Fortune card. More on that story later.

I'm working on an erotic romance that I'll be putting out under my Aria Afton pen name. I'm moving any erotica writing I do onto that name, in fact, I wish I could take "The Mage's Toy" and "The Amber Cross" and put them under that name, but too late.

I have a new episode of "Scryer's Gulch" written but don't want to release it until I have at least one other to release as well.

During the Kickstarter for Son in Sorrow I promised a short story collection based on a set of stories I wrote a long time ago about Temmin and Jenks when Tem was little. I've been working on the main--and possibly only, it's coming out long--story, "Standfast," for some time now and may be seeing daylight. That will be going out free to Kickstarters and I'll make it available to the rest of all y'all somehow, either for purchase or as a gift for signing up for my mailing list, which you should do, because things are about to get interesting over there.

I have the next Drifting Isle book outlined and will be working on it for NaNoWriMo. It's called Songbird, and it's about Johanna Diederich and Simon Ritter, characters mentioned in The Machine God.

Aaaaand, yes, I'm working on book three, working title Queens. It's being an absolute booger, seriously, I've rarely been this stymied. But I will wrestle it to the ground! It or me, and it ain't gonna be me!

What have you guys been up to? SmileWhich of these projects are you most excited about seeing? I really want to know!

Machine God paperbacks on Amazon and on the way for Kickstarters!

  • Posted on: 4 September 2013
  • By: MeiLin

I've ordered paperbacks for Kickstarter backers with a few extras for direct sales. They should be here midmonth, which means I'm on schedule for end of month fulfillment and I'll have a few autographed to sell for Christmas and at Orycon. Huzzay!

I'll be working on my second Drifting Isle book, Songbird, during NaNoWriMo and will Kickstart it probably some time in early 2014. Songbird will feature Johanna Diederich and Simon Ritter, who are mentioned several times in The Machine God. They were originally the creations of Coral Moore, who had to drop out of the Drifting Isle project, and she's graciously allowed me to have my way with them. mwahahaha etc. Adewole may make an appearance, in fact, I expect it--which means so will Ofira. Smile

Yes, I am working on book three of the History, but it's being a butt.

While it's sitting in a corner thinking about what it's done (I take it out now and again, never worry), I've been writing some short stories that have nothing to do with any of this. I may have some news to announce on that front soonish. Smile

I'm home

  • Posted on: 21 July 2013
  • By: MeiLin

#rewire2013 was a success, though I ended up staying a second night for pain management. I'm home now and Velvet Ackbar is taking care of me along with a bunch of wonderful friends. I'm very tired and won't be doing much for the next week at least but sleeping and hanging out. Thanks for all the good wishes people have sent. Smile

In Which I Am Rewired

  • Posted on: 15 July 2013
  • By: MeiLin

Today is the last installment of Son in Sorrow. When a book ends serialization, it always brings me down--especially when the next book isn't ready. Book two wasn't ready when book one ended, and book three isn't near ready now. If you haven't looked at The Machine God yet, please do. It will be running from now through the end of the year, I think; I haven't finished putting it all in the scheduler. It updates every Wednesday.

One of the reasons book three isn't ready: I'm going in for heart surgery this Friday, a procedure I've been dreading the better part of a year. It's minor as heart surgery goes. They're not opening my chest, for instance. But they are mucking about with it, and given my history I'm rather more than nervous. I've had a hard time concentrating; finishing up Machine God, for instance, was a real effort.

But in one real way, this surgery will be the end of the troubles that began in 2006. When they first put this device in my chest--an "internal cardio-defibrillator" or ICD--we thought that was the end. If my heart ever stopped again, the ICD would restart it.Then, not three months after they installed it, the maker recalled the wire attaching it to my heart. It fractured more easily than other ICD wires, meaning it might break and thus deliver unnecessary shocks to my heart until the battery wore down. One person I've talked to was shocked upwards of 30 times in one of those incidents. Each time it's like a horse kicking you in the chest. Imagine getting kicked 30 times in a row. For seven years, I've had that hanging over my head.

This Friday, I'll go into the hospital and they'll replace my old ICD; its battery is almost dead. At the same time, they'll be replacing the defective wire. They're gonna use a laser to dig out the old wire and put the new one in. Then I'll spend the night in CICU and go home the next day if all goes well. I'll be without my left arm for a couple of weeks and not be allowed to lift anything heavier than a couple of pounds for a few months.

When it's over, I think--I know--I'll be able to concentrate. And I hope to finish book three in record time.

Think good thoughts for me on Friday. If you want to follow the surgery's progress, follow the hashtag #rewire2013 on twitter.

Why I'm Finally Leaving CreateSpace for LSI

  • Posted on: 30 June 2013
  • By: MeiLin

I have been trying to get The Machine God printed since April. I have a book signing Friday. I guess I won't be signing (or selling) my latest because CreateSpace can't manage to print a simple graphic.

The wordmark--the book's title as it appears on the first page of the book--is a 400 dpi graphic. It's the same kind of graphic I've had in all three of my last CS books, nothing unusual about it. They can't seem to print it without pixelating it or feathering the edges, and they can't coherently tell me why. I've gotten conflicting reasons, conflicting reports as to which graphics--it's been one giant cluster-badword the whole three months I've been trying to resolve things. I have a book designer. We are not amateurs.

I gave up and submitted the file with a font title page in place of the graphic, but it looks amateurish and it's not what I want. I can't get the books in time for the signing anyway, even if I pay ten times normal shipping for overnight (and eat my profit margin completely). The last straw was when I tried to give feedback and got a canned response reminding me to make sure my graphics were at least 300 dpi.

Every single time I've done a book with CS, it's something. Can't find my ISBN, messed up my cover, always something. Their front end people are great, but their back end can't find its back end with both hands. This time I encountered such incompetence that I'm moving my books to LSI. I'm just fed up.

GearCon, July 5-7, Portland, OR--I'll be there!

  • Posted on: 30 June 2013
  • By: MeiLin

I will be paneling at GearCon, Portland's own steampunk convention, this coming weekend, July 5-7, 2013. Here's my schedule; the name after the time is that of the room at the Doubletree Lloyd Center:

Friday 3PM – Morrison: Pinterest for Creatives
Friday 5PM – Morrison: Book Reading, Signing and Author Chat
Friday 7PM – Hawthorne: Westward Ho! Independent Publishing & Crowd Funding
Saturday 6PM - Morrison: Steampunking American Literature
Saturday 7PM – Sellwood: Stranger than Fiction
Sunday 11AM - Multnomah & Holladay: Mega Writer's Panel

Note the Friday reading and book signing; I'll have a few books for sale. It should be a lot of fun--they're sure keeping me busy!

Things I Have Learned About Writing of Late

  • Posted on: 6 June 2013
  • By: MeiLin

I've been tinkering with Rachel Aaron's 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love, a brilliant, short, CHEAP read that's done a lot for me. Per her suggestion, I'm tracking my work, looking for my most productive days and what the commonalities are.

So far, no 10k days, but I'm a lot more productive. In no particular order:

1. I work better in silence
This SHOCKS me. I always assumed I did better to music. Untrue.

2. I work well pretty much anywhere
When I don't have my mojo workin', I do better at home just slogging through it. But when I'm on, I can tear through the word counts anywhere.

3. Mid-mornings are best
I have low spells in late afternoon. Like now. zzzzz

4. I can have Internet access as long as I don't let it interrupt my flow. Turning the sound off so I don't hear notifications means I don't get interrupted but I can still access the web if I need to for research. Yeah, yeah, put in a placeholder and fill it in later, but when I'm writing I need the info or I just can't continue. It niggles. It's more distracting to leave it. I'm quick and I'm focused on the web when I'm writing, not plotting. Plotting, I get distracted. Speaking of which:

5. I do best when I outline
I totally pantsed the serial the History used to be. I wrote myself into so many dead ends I had to take it down and start over. Right now I'm going through parts of what was book two for Macca's story, and holy mother of the gods. Wow. I can't believe I ever posted that. I no longer refer to the original serial as the Crappy First Draft, because as Gudy once pointed out, it's insulting to the people who loved it. (And people who loved it, thank you so much for loving it.) But I'm so, so much better at writing now, like whoa.

Following Rachel's advice I not only outline--I'm working on meta-outlining the entire remaining series even as I work on book 3--I'm outlining scenes before I write them. Rachel says, spend five minutes writing out what needs to happen in the scene, in longhand in a notebook, then write the scene. Yoiks! It works.

The whole thing is reminiscent of Michael Moorecock's How to Write a Novel in Three Days, except a little more detailed. Smile

6. Scrivener is genius
All these years in and I'm STILL discovering the brilliance of this software. If you are a writer, try it. If you thought it was too steep a learning curve, start with just using it as a plain word processor and build up. That's how I learned it.

Rachel has some really good advice on plotting, too. Seriously, it's 99 cents. Money well spent at five times the price.

That's what I've learned the last month. More shall be revealed!

Line, Line, Everywhere a Line

  • Posted on: 3 June 2013
  • By: MeiLin

Chokin' up the scenery, breakin' my mind...

I'd give a no-prize to anyone who knows the reference, but if you do, here's what it really means: YOU'RE OLD. Like me. You're welcome.

OK. So what am I talking about?

I've been working the last two weeks on plotting not just History book three but the entire rest of the series. I'm working on timelines, outlines, all kindsa lines. Smile Over the years I've been working on this series, on writing fiction, I've been moving further and further from what writers call "pantsing"--writing by the seat of one's pants--and "plotting"--working with outlines etc. There's no One True Way, but I tell you, outlining, for me, with this enormous sprawling story and complicated world, is increasingly necessary.

What I've got so far is a set of seven books about Temmin, one about Sedra and Mattie, and one about Ellika that may be a novella. That's SO FAR. They might combine, collapse, expand, disappear. But I know more right now about where we're all going than I did two weeks ago (including a firm end), and I'll know more about the story in two weeks than I do now.

The next book under active development is the one about Mattie and Sedra (not together, but about their plotlines). It may become part one of a two-part book, the other half being the next part of Temmin's story; we'll see how long the Mattie-and-Sedra part is.

In the DIC series, I have almost an entire outline of Songbird, an action-adventure set on both Inselmond and in Eisenstadt about the singer Johanna Diedrich and the composer Simon Ritter, who figure in all three of the current DIC books. I'll be working on that in the interstices of the History; the DIC books are WAY easier to write.

So that's what's going on right now!


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