Writing

Capture the Sun Page Proofs

My inbox held a fun little surprise this morning: the first pass pages for Capture the Sun! This is when my little story starts to really look like a book, because it’s the formatted version that will go to print. For example, here is the title page:

Capture the Sun's title page, with the title text in an outline of a burning sun.
Click to embiggen

Isn’t it pretty?? 😍 It isn’t final final, so it could still change, etc, etc, but it usually doesn’t.

The text also is pretty much done at this point, and I’m limited in the number of changes I can make. But this is my last chance to catch any remaining typos or errors, so I’ll be reading the book straight through one more time. Good thing I adore Lexi and Nilo. :)

It’s funny how brains work (or my brain, at least). Because I read every book I write as a book about four times—before sending in the rough draft, after edits, after copyedits, and during page proofs—and that doesn’t even count all the time I spend writing and editing, and I still forget characters and plot. If I went back and read Polaris right now, it would probably be like reading a whole new book.

It’s the same with books other people have written. I’ve literally read the same book twice (not on purpose!) and only had the occasional thought of, huh, this seems kind of familiar, I wonder what other book I’ve read like this? I look in Goodreads, and lo and behold, it was this exact book.

But I guess it means everything is always shiny and new, so it’s not all downsides. 😂

If you want to hear me talk more about writing and my process, I did an interview with Cosmic Circus and they put it up as a podcast, but you can also just listen in the browser. I did this interview back in October, I think, and I’m pretty sure I was in editing hell, so fair warning: I ramble. But hopefully it’s an enjoyable ramble. :)

Back to Work

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s 2023 already, and I look forward to writing 2022 for the next six months or so until I get used to it. In reality, it still kind of feels like 2020 part four because my sense of time was warped during the early pandemic and never really recovered.

I hope you all had a lovely holiday! Mr. M and I went back to our hometown for a week, just in time for the temperature to plummet to -11°F (with a -30° wind chill), so we spent a lot of time indoors—LEGO and boardgames FTW! After nearly twenty years in central TX, I’m not used to the cold. In fact, it’s going to be 75°F today, which is perfect “winter” weather as far as I’m concerned. :)

But now I’m back to work, trying to find the bottom of my inbox and remember how to write.

One of those is going better than the other; I’ll leave it up to you to guess which is which, lol.

The fantasy romance is about 22k words, and the Starlight’s Shadow short story is a little over 5k. I should probably knock the short story out first, because I don’t do well with two projects at once, but I’ve been more drawn to fantasy lately, so we’ll see.

Capture the Sun is nearly done from my side, I just have galley proofs left to do at some point, probably soon-ish. It always both a relief and a little scary to be out of contract: I made it to the end of another trilogy! 🎉 What if I never have another good idea? 😱

Running out of ideas is an irrational fear, since I constantly have more ideas than I possibly have time to work on, but brains don’t always run on rationality—at least, mine doesn’t. But pitching an idea to a publisher who can (and does!) say no is always a little nerve-racking.

Good thing that’s a problem for future me. Present me just has to remember where I was in one of these stories and then make some words happen. Wish me luck!

Capture the Sun Chapter One!

An intergalactic thief must join forces with the charming teleporter who stole her last job—and may now be her only hope for saving her former crew.

Preorder Now!
Out June 20, 2023

I turned in my copyedits yesterday, which means that if you mosey over to the Capture the Sun book page, you’ll find a freshly copyedited first chapter. Happy reading!

Every time I read this book, I’m struck anew by how much I love it, especially since writing it was a bit of an endurance test. But I think it turned out great, and I hope you do, too! If you’d like to ensure your copy arrives in a timely fashion, here are some handy preorder links: 😉

Preorder now!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo | IndieBound

Signed book preorders will be happening, but probably not until sometime in the new year. I’ll post the link when I have it.

Now I’m probably going to work on my fantasy romance for a bit because the short story started giving me trouble, and I need a change of pace. Plus I’ve been itching to write it, so that’s always a good sign.

Speaking of fantasy romance, I read The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy in two days this week and adored it. Two bitter enemies end up anonymous pen-pals thanks to magical mail, and they find they have more in common than they thought. I never expected to cheer this hard for a main character who was an undertaker, and yet, it was a delight. Plus, it’s on sale for $2.99 right now! As always, try a sample first to see if it’ll work for you. :)

Copyedits and ChatGPT AI Stories

Copyedits for Capture the Sun landed last week, as expected, and I spent Thursday and Friday doing the first pass. This is the stage where the copy editor checks for repetitive words and continuity errors, or, in my case, deletes about one million extraneous uses of “that.” You might think I’m joking, but here is a tiny sample of the track changes review pane in Word:

A screenshot of Word's review pane showing five cases where "Copy Editor deleted 'that'" and one case where I put it back.
🙈🙈🙈

If you look carefully, you’ll see I put one back because the sentence sounded better with it. But I let most of them go, lol.

Today and tomorrow I need to do once last full read-through of the book, looking for any lingering errors, then it’s off to be made into ARCs (digital only this time, sadly), and then real books!

In other news, you may have heard about the waves that ChatGPT AI is making with its ability to mimic natural language. Mr. M has an OpenAI account, and he let me log in and play with it.

My first request, naturally, was to ask it to tell me a story. It had to think for a while, which means it’s more like a real writer than is probably comfortable, but this is the story it created, based on the prompt “Write me a story about a princess who rescues herself.”

Once upon a time, in a far-off kingdom, there was a beautiful princess named Aurora. Aurora lived in a castle high atop a mountain, surrounded by a deep, dark forest.

Despite her royal upbringing, Aurora was a strong and independent young woman. She was determined to prove to herself and to others that she did not need to be rescued by a handsome prince.

One day, Aurora decided to venture into the forest on her own. She had heard rumors of a fierce dragon that lived deep within the forest, and she was determined to confront it.

Aurora traveled for days, braving the dangers of the forest and facing many challenges along the way. She used her wits and her courage to overcome obstacles, and she never once thought of turning back.

Finally, Aurora reached the dragon’s lair. The dragon was enormous, with sharp teeth and fiery breath. But Aurora was not afraid. She stood her ground and faced the dragon head on.

The dragon and Aurora fought fiercely, but in the end, Aurora emerged victorious. She had rescued herself from the dragon, and she returned to the castle as a hero.

From that day on, Aurora was known throughout the kingdom as the princess who had saved herself. She became an inspiration to others, and she continued to use her strength and determination to overcome any challenges that came her way.

Not bad at all! It reads like a fairytale, and while it’s pretty generic, it is a story, with all the required parts. But what if I asked to “make it a science fiction story”? Behold!

Once upon a time, in a distant galaxy, there was a beautiful princess named Aurora. Aurora lived on a planet called Solaria, which was ruled by her father, the wise and just King Orion.

Despite her royal upbringing, Aurora was a curious and adventurous young woman. She was fascinated by the mysteries of the universe, and she spent hours in the castle’s observatory, studying the stars.

One day, Aurora received a distress signal from a distant planet. The inhabitants of the planet were in danger, and they needed her help. Aurora knew that she had to act quickly, but she also knew that she couldn’t do it alone.

She gathered a team of the bravest and most skilled space pilots in the galaxy, and together, they set off on a mission to save the planet. The journey was long and treacherous, but Aurora and her team never wavered in their determination to help those in need.

When they finally reached the planet, they were faced with a fearsome alien race that threatened to destroy everything in its path. But Aurora was undaunted. She used her knowledge of science and technology to devise a plan to defeat the aliens, and she led her team into battle.

In the end, Aurora and her team emerged victorious. The planet was saved, and Aurora returned to Solaria as a hero. From that day on, she was known throughout the galaxy as the princess who had rescued herself and others. She continued to use her knowledge and bravery to protect the people of Solaria and beyond.

Yep, that’s science fiction. Still a little on the generic side, but it could be refined if I wanted to take the time. Instead, I asked it to “make the story a poem.”

Princess Aurora, brave and bold
In a far-off kingdom, she did hold
A royal upbringing, yet strong and free
She proved that she did not need rescuing

One day, she ventured into the forest deep
To face the dragon and its fiery keep
She braved the dangers and never looked back
With courage and determination, she did attack

The dragon and Aurora did fiercely fight
But in the end, Aurora emerged victorious and right
She had saved herself and returned a hero
Throughout the kingdom, her tale did grow

Princess Aurora, brave and true
A shining example, for all to view
She showed the world what one can do
With strength and courage, she came through

Well, it’s certainly poem-like. 😂 And it went back to the original story rather than the sci-fi version of it, which is kind of interesting.

I don’t think we’re to the point where I’m going to be out of a job any time soon, mostly because there are a lot of unanswered questions about copyright and infringement based on how they train the AI.

The same kind of questions are being asked about generated art, too. The line between inspiration and infringement is fairly clear right now, but AI models trained on copyrighted material fall into a weird gray area in the middle that is probably going to be the genesis of a multitude of lawsuits.

And I think unscrupulous people who don’t care about those questions could start using these AI chatbots to churn out books in the not-so-distant future. They might not be good books, but the framework is there to be improved on.

And technology marches ever onward, so it won’t be long before they actually are good books. Maybe in the future, writers who write books “the old-fashioned way” will be hailed as antiquated, or more kindly, boutique or artisanal.

Hmm… I bet I could write a story about that…

Hunt the Stars is a Goodreads Choice Finalist!

HUNT THE STARS is a Goodreads Choice  2022 nominee for Best Science Fiction!

Thank you so much to everyone who voted in the first round! As far as I remember (which, admittedly, isn’t far), this is the first time I’ve had a book listed at all, and to be in the final round with SF titans like Muir, Scalzi, Corey, and the others is truly an honor.

If you feel like voting for Hunt the Stars, you can do that over on Goodreads site from now until Dec 4. If you voted last time (thank you!) you can vote again because this is a new round.

My chances of winning are approximately zero, but extra publicity is always welcome, and maybe a new reader or two will find my books while going to vote for someone else. 😂

In other news, the weather here is doing its typical Texas thing. Yesterday was 82°F and completely lovely. We opened all of the windows in what is probably the last hurrah before we have to shut everything up for cedar allergy season, because cedar pollen is already starting to show up on the allergy reports. Bleh.

Then the temperature dropped into the thirties overnight and the high is in the fifties today. Plus the wind howled ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Go home, weather, you’re drunk.

Actually, come back with yesterday’s weather. After a scorching summer and a cool/gray last couple of weeks, yesterday was perfect.

But today is a good day for soup, and I have a bunch of extra potatoes from Thanksgiving, so potato soup it is! Mmm, soup. And even better, it’s not Thanksgiving leftovers. I’m Thanksgiving’ed out.

Until next year. 😂