Discouragement

It’s been a while since I’ve written.

We got a new tire for my car. Or rather, we got 5 new tires for my car and one of them turned out to work. The first time Mr Katje went to the scrap yard he got a deal on 4 tires for 200 bucks off a 2000 Dodge Caravan — ie, my exact car.

They didn’t fit.

I don’t fucking know WHY, they just didn’t fit. They should have. SAME CAR. That night included Mr Katje lying on the ground looking at this tire he couldn’t get onto my car and saying “Happy birthday, Dear, I got you the wrong tires.”

(Yes, tires were my bday gift. I turned 31 and I got a working car. #blessed)

So he went back and was able to return them (a VERY WELCOME SURPRISE) and got a different one which definitely DID fit. So my car got all fixed up in time for me to drive up to Sechelt.

So mom and I went to the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, or FOTWA, or #SecheltWritersFest, or SCFWA, from August 17-20. We were in the tent selling books with other local indie authors.

We had a great time; I sold 2 books. Pretty good considering the overlap between SFF readers and people who go to festivals like that one is pretty slim.

Then we got back to our respective homes and Mr Katje and I went and watched the eclipse the next day, which was fucking underwhelming. I thought 86% totality was going to be pretty good but it was just disappointing. Didn’t help we couldn’t get any eclipse glasses so we had to look through pinhole boxes we’d made that morning.

When we’re 80 we’ll just look right at it because either medical technology will have progressed to the point where it doesn’t matter and we can just get new eyes, or we’ll be so close to the grave we won’t give a fuck.

Continue reading Discouragement

The Fear of Long Books

This is something I’ve noticed lately in my time spent in various author places online. There is an almost pathological fear of long books.

I see post after post from people worrying about their word count, that their book is “too long.” I see post after post of people saying “Keep your book short because all long books are unedited pieces of crap and you don’t want to bore your reader!” (Paraphrased.) Many of these posts I see are referring to books in my genre — SFF.

The word counts I’m seeing this about? 150K. 130K. 100K.

*looks at 250K first novel that was extensively edited and also pretty well-received*

It’s really weird to claim that all long books are “unedited”. It’s like there’s this assumption that you can’t POSSIBLY need that many words to tell a story; that if it’s that long, it means you couldn’t cut what was unnecessary.

Sure, there ARE longer works that haven’t been cut down as much as they should have (though to be honest, this usually happens a bit into a trad-pubbed series, when no one dares tell a popular author “No” anymore — see: George Lucas & the prequels). I’m not saying that it never happens; I just think it’s weird to assume it’s ALL that ever happens.

Continue reading The Fear of Long Books

life updates

oh hey, i remembered this thing exists.

ok, so, long and short of it — i’ve been up all night and i can’t see straight at this point. yesterday i got informed we have another flood. for those of you keeping score at home, this is flood number 3 in our time here. the first was the weekend before our wedding, the second was last november (so only a few months ago), and the third was yesterday.

the good news is this flood seems to be the least severe of the three, so they’re getting better? i guess?

regardless it meant i spent yesterday dealing with flood stuff instead of WORKING AS I WAS SUPPOSED TO so i have now been up all night getting work done that needed to be done for today.

anyway i’m too tired to deal with proper capitalization right now. or maybe ever. also, if you see any extra t’s in my post it’s because that key is coming up on my keyboard and i have to periodically SQUISH ITS TINY HEAD.

so sunday was my very first author takeover! how exciting is that! if you missed it, that’s ok, i’m sure to do another one at some point. and if you really wanted in on the giveaways, no worries, i’ll do more of those too. (hey, if you really want to know about future book giveaways, become a member of Loony Nation! so important i capitalized it.)

anyway the takeover was a lot of fun and i had a lot of engagement on my posts, so that was very nice. made me feel like i was not completely failing at it, which my brain convinced me i was going to do in the lead up to it. because my brain hates me and wants me to suffer.

but it was a good event so my brain was wrong this time and haha, i bite my thumb at it. which is a very awkward position to get into.

so because of the flood i have now taken down my xmas trees and am in the process of putting away xmas stuff, which i suppose should make me feel like i have my life together but it really doesn’t. also, we found a box of books we didn’t know we owned and for a while i was very confused as to if they were even ours. it was a weird fucking combo of fantasy books (most of which were likely Mr Katje’s) and stuff like The Poisonwood Bible or a book on companion planting or stuff from Oprah’s book club. also The Hunger Games, and Fifty Shades 1 and 2.

i mean those last 2 also make sense because of my fifty shades of drinking video log that is on indefinite hiatus because of computer issues, mea culpa mea culpa, except that those copies were clean and not filled with notes in the marigins to the tune of FUCKING KILL ME ALREADY THIS BOOK IS CANCER, as does the hunger games because i actually like that series, but with the rest of the stuff thrown in it was such a fucking weird mess i was very doubtful they were ours, but MORE doubtful they belonged to the landlords.

when mr katje got home we figured it out; it was a box of stuff from his room that his mom had added a bunch of books she wanted to get rid of to. at least we think that’s the case. so now i have a stack of random books on our freezer that i need to find a place to put away. could be worse!

book writing and stuff

ok so one thing i really wanna say before my eyes completely crap out on me and i need to stumble into bed to put my monstrous machine over my face so i can not die in my sleep is that i am finally getting back to writing. it’s been like, a year and a half, and in that time i have not felt excited about my writing at all.

sometimes writers’ block is really depression.

but i’m finally excited again! i’ve been doing a lot of worldbuilding writing and plotting out of from the ashes, which is the sequel to stranger skies and book 2 in the borderlands saga overall. i am so excited to get back into this story, so thrilled to work on this series again. and that’s an amazing feeling when you’ve been spending a year and a half feeling like you’ll never be able to write again. i’ve even plotted out the book after from the ashes as well! (currently titled the moonrunner. except capitalized. don’t judge my laziness right now. writing is hard.)

i have some specific goals with this series which i’m not going to get into here/now, because it’s too soon, and anyway, newsletter subscribers hear it first. but i am going to be sharing my writing progress updates publically on facebook and google plus, so if you’re on those social media networks and you want to read about my getting words on the page, you should follow me! you should also subscribe to my newsletter, hint hint. i promise i won’t zerg rush your inbox.

i will also be posting writing update compilations here, ie, grabbing a week’s worth of fb/g+ posts and putting them in one post here, because some of the posts might be super small and i don’t want to make several small blog posts.

but yes, i’m going to be starting real work on From the Ashes again really soon and I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT IT YIPPEEEE.

ok 2 more updates and then bed

BELLICA IS FREE ON KINDLE. this took me like a year of work and one or two ritual sacrifices but it finally happened and kindle price-matched bellica to free. huzzah! so if you have friends who haven’t picked it up yet, or if you haven’t for some weird reason, go forth and download from the mighty Zon. (it’s also now available through Pronoun, which pushes books to big distributors a bit like Smashwords except i kind of like it more. sorry smashwords. i will still use you for the other distributors that pronoun doesn’t cover though!)

–expect to see a few posts go up here in the near future that were originally published on my medium account. i’m still going to be publishing stuff to medium, just also publishing it here when i do, and i hadn’t yet done that with the posts that are currently up.

 

ok i’m off to sleep

later fellow loons

-katje

My Dysfunctional Relationship with Library Books

I adore libraries. I love them so much. They are my happy place, and I have a not-so-secret but currently-impractical-as-fuck desire to be a librarian. (Impractical because, um, yeah, don’t have money to go back to school for a COMPLETELY NEW SET OF SKILLS.)

I love to go to the library and browse books. The shelves are full of possibility for me, even when the SFF section is severely lacking (as it often is, where I’ve lived — why would we have book ONE in a series anywhere in our system? MADNESS — here, have books #6-9, they’re much better. I jest, only partly). The library is about so much more than the tried and true SFF for me — it’s about exploration, finding something new.

Several somethings new.

Every time I go to the library for one book I invariably come home with a bag that is BULGING with them. My library book bag is a good size; it’s canvas, from the Questionable Content store on Topataco. It carries a good number of books — it carries the amount of books I will actually read in the time I have them out. Yet I always overfill it, sometimes carrying books in my arms, too.

At some point in my life, my reading skill went down. I used to be a fast reader with high comprehension. I am now a slow reader, with high comprehension only if I have enough energy — which is often not the case. I like to blame university for this change — you can often hear me lamenting that I used to be an avid reader before 10 years of academia broke me. That’s partially true; it took me a while to be emotionally ready to be a reader again.

I am emotionally ready now, and still my brain won’t cooperate.

Continue reading My Dysfunctional Relationship with Library Books

Worst. Birthday Gift. Ever.

The title is better if you imagine it being read in Comic Book Guy’s voice.

Long and short of my trip to the cast clinic is yes, I have a broken femur, there is apparently no tendon or ligament damage, and no, I cannot have a plaster cast, because my leg is shaped weird.

Yes, you read that right: I have a weird leg. The plaster cast will not stay on it properly, just as the immobilizer of doom does not stay on it properly — but, the doctor says, the immobilizer will likely be more comfortable, and I can take it off from time to time. There’s also a chance my leg could swell again, which would be very uncomfortable in plaster, apparently.

I have to stay off my leg for 6 weeks. I cannot put any weight on it. I can rest my foot on the floor if I’m sitting, but beyond that? Nope. Nope nope nope.

But anyway, besides all that — let’s focus on what’s really important. I have weird legs, guys. WEIRD LEGS. I can’t even argue with the doctor on this one because he’s right. I’m a freak of nature.

legs

See? This is right after it happened, too, so you can see the amount of swelling in the left leg. But that bend inwards at the knee? It’s super pronounced. When standing straight the edges of my feet almost line up with my hips, and the knees bend inwards to touch each other. And the kneecap is super high up. I know, because I saw it on my CT scan. IT WAS WEIRD.

Also there’s the fact that my legs are sort of shaped like cones, with the tiny end pointing down.

WEIRD LEGS, GUISE. ::does spooky arms::

After the cast clinic we headed home, and this is the conversation we had in the car (this was after my crying breakdown in the hospital).

Me: So this is the worst birthday gift I’ve ever gotten myself.

Mr. Katje: That’s what you get for getting it so early! And now you can’t even take it back.

Me: Nope, I’m stuck with it. Buyer’s remorse or what.

Anyway. I am immobilized for six weeks. In 2 weeks I have to see the doctor again so he can see how the leg is doing. But basically, no nothing for Katje until the end of August.

I have some projects to keep me busy while I’m stuck without a working leg. A big one is writing. I’m trying to get my word count up this month. (I’m participating in Get Your Words Out and I’ve pledged to write 150,000 words this year. So far I’m at just over 80,000.)

Things I'm working on today: writing....
Text from a short story I’m working on.

Another big one is editing and publishing — related to the first, of course, but I’m not always editing or publishing my own works, so it deserves a separate category. Right now I’m proofing Broken Sleep by Kaimana Wolff, and editing/revising The Jade Star of Athering, sequel to Bellica.

I’m also trying to get caught up on my reading. I read very slowly, but with not much else to do I might read more than one book this month. One can hope, anyway.

And finally, I’m powering through Stargate SG-1. I adore this show. I am on season 7, please no spoilers in the comments. (I realize it’s 17 years old but I’ve been able to keep myself relatively spoiler free.)

...and Stargate SG-1. (that shld rly say dreamboat tbh. Mmmmm, Teal'c.)

Mmmm, Teal’c.

Anyway, this is my summer. All this, and no showering (at least until I get the shower chair from Oma’s old place). Don’t visit. Your nose will never forgive you.

If you do want to brighten my summer up, however, you can nominate my book, Stranger Skies, for the awards for which it’s eligible! (Assuming you’ve read it. If you haven’t read it, most of the Advance Reading Copy is available to read here. All of the chapters will be released by October 5th.) Details in this post at my Livejournal. The deadline for one of the awards is July 15th, but the others have more time.

Now that would be the best. birthday gift. ever.

-Katje

May Reads

I actually got back on the reading wagon last month and knocked some books off both my Currently Reading and To Be Read lists. I’m proud of myself.

Instead of doing separate blog posts for each review, I’m just linking to my reviews on Goodreads with an excerpt. (Or, if they’re incredibly short reviews, posting the whole thing here.)

First, the digital books! Not necessarily in order of reading.

BrokenSleepebookcoverfinal400x

Broken Sleep by Kaimana Wolff

4 out of 5 stars

I may be coming from a biased place because my mom is the author and I’m the publisher…but I don’t think that should count against my review. We’re all biased in some form; one of the first lessons of Journalism class was there was no such thing as objectivity. My relation to the author makes me no more biased than the fact that I went through a lot of the events in the book.

A harrowing exposé of abuse…hard to read, as someone who’s lived through it. But a necessary book — if you’ve ever wondered why a victim of abuse stays with their abuser, this book might shed some light on that for you.

My review at GoodReads.

WritePublishRepeatcoverWrite. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant with David Wright.

4 out of 5 stars

Non-fiction I read as part of my ongoing efforts to improve myself as a writer and my author career. 90% of the book I’m on board with, but they lost me near the end.

These guys know their stuff when it comes to writing and marketing, but they should stay away from topics they know nothing about. Dieting and weight loss are billion dollar industries that have nothing to do with individual health, worth, or work ethic.

At this point I won’t be picking up their fiction, though I planned on it, because I don’t know what kind of fatphobic ideas might lurk within. I’ll continue to read their non-fiction because I think they do know what they’re talking about when it comes to an indie author career — and I do think this book is an essential read if you’re an indie author and you don’t really know what the hell you’re doing — but in the end, their ignorance and perpetuation of fatphobic stereotypes has cost them a cross-pollinated (non-fiction to fiction) reader.

My review at GoodReads.

And now, the paperback/hardcover books!

May reads.

Medicine River, by Thomas King

3 out of 5 stars.

I picked it up because I love Thomas King. It’s not my favourite of his work, but I didn’t hate it.

Bottom line: if you’re used to Western (white dude!) literature as the dominant narrative, then you need to erase your expectations when picking up this book. It does not follow the dominant cultural narrative we have around literature: it deliberately bites its thumb at those expectations. It’s different, and that’s not always bad.

My review on Goodreads.

Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom

4 out of 5 stars.

I went into this with the full knowledge that I would likely cry at the end. It’s a very quick read, but that doesn’t lessen the extent to which it tugs on one’s feels.

Well, I cried.

Can’t say much other than: beautiful book, quite touching, do recommend it.

Bloodchild and Other Stories, by Octavia E. Butler

4 out of 5 stars.

A collection of short stories with afterwords by the author, as well as 2 non-fiction essays at the end.

I really liked Speech Sounds. It’s a post apocalyptic story with a bit of hope at the end — basically my favourite type of story. And it’s sad, too. I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s good, and I recommend it. Possibly the best story in the book.

My review on Goodreads.

Hopefully I’ll do a similar post for June. I’m trying to actually read the myriad books in my collection instead of just smelling them to get my daily fix of book-scent.

-Katje

The Great Bookening 2014 (or Katje finally unpacks and puts away ALL THE BOOKS)

Almost all of them. I’ve yet to really unpack Mr. Katje’s books (I did 2 boxes; that’s all), but I’ve done all of my books, which was 30+ boxes so it’s kind of a big deal.

Look, pictures!

The Great Bookening '14: non-fiction and unread fiction.

Non-fiction and unread fiction. Most of the non-fiction is of the sort that will help my writing along (history, culture, books on writing craft, grammar, books of names), but there’s also a lot of theatre and film books on these cases. Also, writing notebooks and proofs. You may notice the cases are overflowing. This is true of most of the bookcases in the house, because I had to sacrifice one when we needed a TV stand.

The Great Bookening '14: God-bothering books.

God-bothering books, as mom calls them. Lots of books on Buddhism, esoteric stuff, spirituality…etc. This is also my meditation corner, hence the Thangka on the back of the door and the little altar/shrine areas.

The Great Bookening '14: read fiction

Read fiction. Double-stacked. Triple-stacked even. (For scale: all these books used to take up five shelves on another bookcase.)

The Great Bookening '14: misc

Misc. mish-mash! This was one of the first cases I filled up and I was in such a “FUCK ALL THESE BOXES” mood that I just jammed whatever the hell up there. Journals at the top, some language books, comics and children’s books, First Nations studies, history, science…the list goes on.

The Great Bookening '14: cooking, crafting, fiction

And the cooking, crafting, herbalism, knitting/crocheting, and Mr. Katje’s books shelves. Not totally full yet — will be when I unpack some more of Mr. Katje’s books.

So I have managed to unpack and put away all my books, and am making a dent in Mr. Katje’s books. It is likely we will have to get another bookcase for the rest of his books.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sleep for forever. Or eat a lot of food and watch NCIS, season 7. (Mr. Katje has gotten me hooked on the show and I expect I will soon catch up to current episodes.)

-Katje

2013 James Tiptree Award Winner and Honor List Announced

Recently the honor list and winner of the 2013 James Tiptree Award were announced. I’m not sure when exactly this happened; I was too preoccupied with moving since late January and surgery + recovery this week to continue with my obsessive refreshing of the Tiptree website (some of you may remember my book was nominated).

I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to N.A. Sulway, author of Rupetta, winner of the 2013 Tiptree Award.

I’d also like to extend congratulations to the members of the honor list: Eleanor Arnason, Aliette de Bodard, Nicola Griffith, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Ann Leckie, Bennett Madison, Sarah McCarry, Janelle Monae, Helene Wecker, and S.M. Wheeler.

I didn’t expect Bellica to win the Tiptree, but I did entertain some hopes of being short-listed. I would be lying if I said my pride weren’t a little bit stung right now.

But I can see the logic. Bellica was my first novel and it was incredibly long. It’s not terribly revolutionary. It’s good, but perhaps it’s not award or short list material. (And who knows — Canada Post says the copies of the book arrived on time, but perhaps they didn’t. That would suck, but it would also be my fault for not getting the books out earlier.)

Bottom line: I’m okay with Bellica not winning or making the list. I think my other books will have a better chance at being listed for awards, even if I never win any (with which I am also okay). I have a lot of faith in my latest book, Stranger Skies, and the rest of the series that will follow.

Though my pride is stung — I am a Leo, after all — I do not harbour any bitterness or resentment towards the judges or the winners. The authors on that list worked hard for this achievement and they deserve it. I wish them well, and I will add their works to my To Be Read list.

I encourage you to do the same.

-Katje

PS: for the record, Stranger Skies is eligible for the 2014 Tiptree. If you feel it should be nominated, you can do so here: 2014 Tiptree Nomination Form.

Please do not nominate it unless you truly feel it deserves to be considered. (This requires that you have read it.)

Book Launch for Stranger Skies this Saturday in Powell River

StrangerSkiesebookcoverPress

Stranger Skies

Queer Pagan Fiction with a YA Bent

“The scent of death and fear hit her then — she’d found her first Minae wolf….”

A goddess’ fall from grace leaves her on an alien world, bereft of her followers, trapped in a mortal body. Should she strive to regain her godhood or accept her mortality and find love?

Silva, Queen of Wolves, Lady of the True Woods, seeks her only friend Etan, who, along with other deities of the Council of Divinity, has gone missing for reasons unknown. Her search traps her on a world where the wolves have lost faith in her; she becomes a mortal woman whose remaining powers could brand her as a witch.

Through the chaos of war and the turmoil in her own heart, Silva can’t escape a persistent feeling: her fall was not an accident.

~~

Just a brief heads up before I go collapse into a codeine-induced coma:

I am having a book launch for my latest novel, Stranger Skies, this Saturday the 22nd at 4 p.m. It will be held at the café “A Step Above” on the second floor of Quality Foods on Joyce Avenue.

From the event page:

It’s finally happening! Stranger Skies is having a book launch this Saturday in Powell River!

Stranger Skies
First Novel in The Borderlands Saga

“Any reader who loves wolves, woods and wonderful characters will devour Stranger Skies.”
— K. Wolff, La Chiripa

Have your copy of the first volume in this magnificent new science-fiction/fantasy saga signed by Katje van Loon, author of Bellica.

Located at the cafe above Quality Foods in Powell River — “A Step Above”. Go to the end of the cash registers, past the frozen foods section, and take the elevator or stairs up!

Hosted by The Pearl Review, Powell River’s book-lover’s collective.

Cover art by Autumn Skye ART.

You can RSVP at the Facebook event page here.

(Let me know if it doesn’t work; FB continues to mystify me. The event is set to public but who knows.)

If you’re in Powell River this weekend I hope to see you at the launch!

If you don’t live in Powell River, I will be having other book launches for Stranger Skies in the coming months both on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland. It’s an informal book tour — informal, because we’re not planning the entire thing out beforehand and are just doing it as and when and where we can.

However, there will be more notice than a few days’ worth for other towns. We meant to get the word out earlier for this one, but moving + travel + surgery + recovery has kind of eaten our lives.

Speaking of recovery…I’m going to go do more of that, in bed, for several hours. Sleepy time! Codeine is kickin’ in with a vengeance.

Hope to see you on Saturday!

-Katje

Reading more women authors

This is not actually something I need help with, in the most general of terms. I tend to read women authors by default, and often have to work to seek out male authors.

I consider myself lucky — in this one, small way, my brain has escaped patriarchal programming.

Well, perhaps. I think I still read a disproportionate amount of cisgender, white, able-bodied, women authors, and I often only read the speculative fiction/SFF genres. My defaulting to women authors still does not yield much diversity in what I read.

So I am taking a page from Lilit Marcus’ book, here in 2014, and actively seeking out more women authors — but more specifically, queer and trans* women (including genderqueer folk who are socially classed as women/assumed to be women), women of colour, indigenous women, mixed race women, and women with disabilities. Also, I’m going to attempt to branch away from SFF and read other genres.

I won’t be reading women exclusively — as I said, I already default to reading women authors, so I actually have to actively seek out male authors most of the time. However, if I read a book by a man, I will then read 2 by women.

And I’m not sure how many books I’ll get read. I don’t do much reading these days; I think university killed my joy in it. But I will try; I will work very hard to read several books this year, and to seek out different types of books by more queer, trans*, indigenous, mixed race, WOC, and disabled [women] authors.

Are you participating in #readwomen2014?

(Worth noting: the hashtag was created by Joanna Walsh, and most of the credit for the idea is given to her — but Lilit Marcus deserves credit for the idea, and I’m giving her her due.)

And if you have any recommendations for books by queer, trans*, indigenous, mixed race, disabled, and/or women of colour authors that are not SFF, please let me know in the comments!