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Writing goals for the next 3 months, September - November

Summer is ending and autumn is almost here. The kids are going back to school. I put Cassius on his school bus today at 9 AM. Next week, Theia starts going to preschool 5 mornings a week. This means I get time to write and do writingy stuff! Today is a misc writing stuff day, so I'm tracking big goals and updating my writing to-do list.

Doing the math! Theoretically, if I get myself ready for the day before the kids are out the door (not something I've always succeeded at!), I'll have about 3 1/2 hours to myself every morning to work on writing, plus whatever I can scrape together at other times. Theia's been really uncooperative about staying quietly in her room during afternoon quiet time and bedtime recently, so that time is not as useful as it used to be. Phil usually gives me a couple of hours one evening during the week and also one weekend day.

3.5 morning hours * (5 writing days - 1 misc writing stuff day) + 1 afternoon/evening hour * 6 + 3 bonus weeknight hours + 4 weekend hours - 5 hours weekly of cleaning/bills/paperwork during regular writing time
3.5*(5-1)+1*6+3+4-5 = 22 hours/week to write, max

22 hours seems really high! It's something to shoot for, though. I don't think I'm going to get that much, given my other housework/parenting/social commitments. My estimate of only 5 hours of writing time weekly sacrificed to bills and paperwork and cleaning is probably low. I'm also not very productive in the first hour of a block of writing time.

I am really looking forward to finding out what my writing rate is when both kids are in school, at least in the mornings.

Project 1: Space Marine Midwife anthology short story, "Mother of Nobody" ("Mother of No Child" "Mother of None" "Mother of No-One"). Figure this will probably eat a month of regular writing time, between plotting, writing, critting, and revising.
CURRENT STATUS: I have some ideas.
ETA DUE: Submission period is maybe "late autumn." Hey, I need to get started on this one!

Project 2: Scorpion Dance. My main novel project.
CURRENT STATUS: 70,719 / 100,000 written.
ETA GOAL: Complete draft by 2018, which means 10,000 words in three-quarters of the months remaining. Oh! That's a lot, given everything else I'm doing (yet not much, considering that a full day of writing should net me about 2,000 words--if I ever got a full day of writing) and the various complications of life.

Project 2: The Unkindness of Ravens short-cut. Finish cutting novella down to under 25,000 words. Start sending it on the submission rounds for places that pay enough to make it worth it (i.e. no $100 advance or royalty-only small presses).
CURRENT STATUS: Over halfway done.
ETA: I expect to finish that project this week (by 9/1/2017).

Project 2b: Draw up project timeline, budget, and task list for self-pubbing novella, to be executed either after exclusive period from publication or after exhausting the limited well-paying options for novellas (up to 9 months). Remember to include sequels.
CURRENT STATUS: Not started.
ETA: Tentative, 9 months of collecting rejections would put it DUE BY 6/1/2018.

Project 3: Destroy revisions backlog, starting with "You May Also Like Gas Masks." Current rate for redmarking = 3-4 pgs/week. Then I'll need to make the marked changes (time = ???) and do a final read-aloud draft (1 day). Says something that I don't even know about how much time this process takes me.
CURRENT STATUS: Ongoing project. 13/23 pages redmarked for "You May..."
ETA: About 5 weeks from now to finish the redmarking, estimate 10/5/2017 to finish redmarking.

Project 4: Dragon Succubus, the fluffy side-project novel. The whole point of this project is that it is the thing I'm working on when I don't have anything else to do or when I have only a smidge of time and so I can't work on anything too complicated.
CURRENT STATUS: 56,246 / 80,000 words
ETA: I've been fiddling with it on and off since November 2015, sooooo maybe draft ETA 10/31/2018??

In the next couple of months, I'm also teaching a class at the Loft. I've run it before, so I don't need to come up with the lesson plans, but I need to make a couple of tweaks, do publicity, etc.

I want to get the pseudonym's stuff in the pipeline, but I think that'll have to wait.

And I've been thinking of poking at Circus of Brass and Bone, updating the layout to reflect the episodic nature of it, adding reviews to backmatter and interior, maybe trying some ads and seeing if that boosts sales, trying a bookbub or putting it in Kindle Unlimited. But those things take time and/or money, so. Not putting it on the official goals for the next 3 months, 'cause I have enough things there for now!
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As part of Smashwords' July Summer Sale, A Circus of Brass and Bone will be 75% off through July 12, 2016, and then 25% off through the end of July. This deal is available through Smashwords only. They offer many formats including epub and mobi (for Kindles). (You must USE THE CODE below the buy button to get the discount.)
That means that RIGHT NOW, A Circus of Brass and Bone is available for the low, low price of ONE DOLLAR.

About

It's the end of civilization, but the show must go on. When a traveling circus returns to Boston after a tour in British India, they discover that an aetheric calamity has sent a wave of death rolling across post-Civil War America, killing a third of the population and rendering basic technology dangerously unstable. In such desperate time, what use is a circus?

Reviews

"Read if: You would love to read about circus freaks, espionage, war elephant golems, intrepid female ship captains, monkeys finding true love, and the authentic smells of large cities."

- Heidi Waterhouse, Goodreads

"...the world has a texture and a past that appeals even as it appalls ... The characters have a lot of bad stuff happening to them, but they retain both agency and their moral sense. The darker scenes never devolve into hopelessness or pointless gore."
- Marissa Lingen, Novel Gazing Redux

A Circus of Brass and Bone

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)

Hugo nominations close on March 31. To nominate, you have to be an attending or supporting member of Sasquan (Worldcon 73), MidAmeriCon II (Worldcon 74), or Worldcon 75. You have one week!

I do have a couple of eligible stories from last year. If you read them and enjoy one of them enough to nominate, please do so! (I like you too, but please don't nominate based only because of any personal liking.)

Best Short Story
"And Other Definitions of Family" is a light, humorous SF story about a xeno-anthropologist who takes a very intimate approach to field research. Read it for free here: http://www.unlikely-story.com/stories/and-other-definitions-of-family-by-abra-staffin-wiebe/

Best Novel
A Circus of Brass and Bone, which I published writing as Abra SW, is a post-apocalyptic steampunk serial novel about a circus traveling through the collapse of Reconstruction Era America. The Vita.mn review says, "It's a dark, supernatural and altogether bizarre examination of the human condition and it remains true to form for a post-apocalyptic novel: It's also a class commentary that asks how we'd adapt to a world in which society, with all its benefits and ills, suddenly and violently imploded." It's no longer available to read for free, but you can read a good-sized sample at Amazon or Google Play Books before buying.

Best Novelette
"A Stranger Comes to Town" is a post-apocalyptic steampunk Western. It's a stand-alone installment from A Circus of Brass and Bone. You can read it for free at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, or Google Play Books, and it's $.99 on Amazon (because that's the cheapest they'd let me make it). It reached the top 100 for its category on Amazon.

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Gender balancing characters is tricky. Apocalypses can help!

I talk about writing A Circus of Brass and Bone over on Catherine Lundoff's blog: http://catherineldf.livejournal.com/378731.html
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Abra SW will be performing an excerpt from A Circus of Brass and Bone, a post-apocalyptic steampunk novel, followed by a brief discussion of the writing process.

Friday, July 3rd, 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
DoubleTree 2201

Add to your CONvergence schedule: schedule.convergence-con.org/event/377c0960ae40814c795d3a7128931664

Donuts will be available first-come, first-served.

About the Book

If you'd like to travel with a steampunk circus through post-apocalyptic wilderness and disintegrating cities, you might enjoy reading A Circus of Brass and Bone. People come together ... or die.

Reviews

"Read if: You would love to read about circus freaks, espionage, war elephant golems, intrepid female ship captains, monkeys finding true love, and the authentic smells of large cities."
- Heidi Waterhouse, Goodreads

"the world has a texture and a past that appeals even as it appalls ... The characters have a lot of bad stuff happening to them, but they retain both agency and their moral sense. The darker scenes never devolve into hopelessness or pointless gore."
- Marissa Lingen, Novel Gazing Redux

"'Circus' is a steampunk fantasy piece told in a period voice. It has a thick Dickensian accent and the affectations of Christie, Shelley and Austen. It's sparking conversations you'd expect at a dinner party where Katherine Dunn, Cormac McCarthy and Kurt Vonnegut had a little too much wine. It's imaginative modern literature."
- Rob Callahan, “'A Circus of Brass and Bone' a sea change for indie authorship,” Vita.mn
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Enjoy an A Circus of Brass and Bone reading at the CONvergence convention in Minneapolis!

11 a.m. on July 5, 2015

There will be donuts!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Over at Mary Robinette Kowal's My Favorite Bit, I talk about how I came up with bone aether and some of the awesome and horrible things I do with it in A Circus of Brass and Bone. So much fun!

http://maryrobinettekowal.com/journal/favorite-bit-abra-sw-talks-circus-brass-bone/
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)

Fifteen minutes to describe what's been going on in my life since my last journal entry of 11/9/2014, more than three months ago.


Is too much. I will sum up.


Phil had his first work trip to California of the year, so I had a week of single-parenting it. Mostly everything went okay. On the last day of his trip, I even managed to wrangle two small children onto the bus to the Midtown Global Market DMV to renew my instructional driver's permit! It was an epic trip. First the DMV (and I highly, highly recommend this location--5 PM on a Friday afternoon and the wait was only about 10 minutes!). Then we watched adorable kids doing traditional Chinese dancing, including the Lion Dance, to celebrate the Chinese New Year in MGM's main area. Cassius got to "feed the lion" by holding out a red envelope with a dollar in it. He liked this idea a lot. Holy Land for a dinner that was only a moderate success, since I ordered poorly and spent too much for food that the kids didn't eat (the leftovers were delicious, though, and Holy Land's fries have officially replaced those of McDonald's in my affections, something I thought would never happen). After a half-hour in the extremely popular play area, I hauled the kids out under protest. We swung by Chicago-Lake Liquor (since I had a valid ID again) and back to the bus stop, where there were a variety of future Jerry Springer contestants waiting for the bus. Fortunately it was all talk and I didn't have to explain anything to Phil about why our offspring were traumatized.


I finished the-story-that-took-forever-to-finish! I got through all the finicky changes and details and whatnot for A Circus of Brass and Bone. So pleased that I got that wrapped. There are still three tiny typos that I have to wait for a long enough sales lull to fix. I'm not sure if it'll pick up any momentum beyond the initial friends-and-family sales, but I don't have a marketing budget to throw at it, so I'll just have to wait and see. I'm taking one day every week to work on PR stuff. It is like pulling teeth to get reviews, though, even (especially!) customer reviews on Amazon etc. Gah. The marketing hat is uncomfortable on my head, but I'm doing my due diligence. I owe it to the story. I feel like there are a lot of people who would get something good out of the story, but who will never even know it exists. Sadface.


Um. My journaling time is up, but other stuff happened too! Working on getting Cassius into preschool, working on getting Cassius potty-trained (related), readjusting to having any free time, horrified by the state of my house, intimidated by the state of my short story editing backlog, looking forward to the next project but wanting a clearer deck before I start it but also wanting to get to it before I lose my enthusiasm, and a whole bunch of developmental advances by Theia, who is now getting the hang of walking and talking and acting almost like a toddler instead of a baby! Sniff.

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
A Circus of Brass and Bone's special book blog event starts now at Coffee Time Romance! Enter the giveaway to WIN a steampunk accessory!

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
A Circus of Brass and Bone has launched! It's now available for purchase in trade paperback (on Amazon) and in ebook format at major online retailers.

If you would enjoy escaping into a post-apocalyptic steampunk novel about a circus traveling through the collapse of civilization, you can find the purchase links below.


brass_and_bone_cover_sm200
A Circus of Brass and Bone

It's the end of civilization, but the show must go on.

The Loyale Traveling Circus and Menagerie is in turmoil. During their ocean voyage from British India to Boston, someone murdered their ringmaster. The killer must be one of their own. Unfortunately, that is the least of their problems.

While they were at sea, an aetheric calamity sent a wave of death rolling across the world. In post-Civil War America, a third of the population died outright, and many of the survivors suffer strange nervous symptoms that are steadily increasing in severity. Basic technology is also rendered dangerously unstable by the disaster. The circus members find themselves traveling through the collapse of civilization. In such desperate times, what use is a circus?

If they can defend themselves against the starving populace, if they can outwit and outperform the political factions that have seized power, if they can fight off the ravening monstrosities born of the aether storm ... they just might find the answer.

Amazon | Google Play | Smashwords | B&N | Apple | and many others

Trade paperback: $13.99, Ebook: $3.99


If you're still undecided, try reading the free novelette, A Stranger Comes to Town: A Circus of Brass and Bone Adventure! (Also included in A Circus of Brass and Bone.)

stranger sm 200


A Stranger Comes to Town

An aetheric chain-reaction sends a wave of death rolling around the world, warping living beings and aether-based technology alike. In one afternoon, trains go from being the power that pushed civilization out to the frontier, to being very expensive sheds of scrap metal, filled with rotting produce and dying cattle. Cities go hungry.

The farmers are in hardly better shape than their former customers in the city. Some trees bear withered fruit, while gobbets of exploded fruit flesh drape the limbs of others. One wheat stalk might be strong and firm, but its neighbor disintegrates to dust at a touch. Harvesting crops takes more work, but yields less food. People try not to starve, using a variety of tactics.

The Loyale traveling circus survives the aether storm mostly unscathed and decides to continue touring despite the difficulties. When the circus comes to Seppanen Town, all seems well until a ragged fugitive plunges into their camp and begs for sanctuary.

Smashwords | Google Play | B&N | and many others

(Currently $.99 on Amazon, will be free once price-matching catches up.)


And don't forget--there's nothing wrong with hoarding books!

hoardnotext



#SFWApro
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Only 2 days left until A Circus of Brass and Bone's launch date! I have freebies for you.
The Goodreads Giveaway runs through January 15th. Go sign up for your chance to win a free copy!


https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/121253-a-circus-of-brass-and-bone

A Stranger Comes to Town: A Circus of Brass and Bone Adventure is now available as a free novelette! (This interlude is also part of A Circus of Brass and Bone.)



You can download your copy at:
Google Play (epub and PDF), or

Smashwords (many formats, including for the Kindle)
(A Stranger Comes to Town is also available on Amazon, but it won't be free until Amazon's price-matching catches up!)
Happy reading,

Abra SW
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
I am neck-deep in book release business! It's exciting and scary at the same time. A Circus of Brass and Bone is being released January 15th. The trade paperback is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and ebook versions are available at all major retailers.

And yeah, I could use your help. I'm sending copies out for review, and I have some freebie promotions going. But ANY good ideas are welcome! If you've got suggestions for reviewers or other good marketing ideas, let me know! I don't have a huge publicitiy engine, so I'm practically invisible to most people.




If you want to help A Circus of Brass and Bone along its path, there are three things you can do:
1. Pre-order! Pre-orders are great for readers because they let you order books on your schedule, instead of waiting for a specific release date. Pre-orders are great for authors because they mean that all the orders go in on the same day, boosting the book's sales rank and making it a lot more visible to other potential readers. Look below for pre-order links!
2. Review! Books live and die by the reviews that readers post. 'Nuff said.
3. Tell a friend! This is a small project. It doesn't have a huge publicity engine pushing it. If you don't tell your friends, they'll probably never hear of it. And that would be a shame, because how else can they admire your excellent taste?
Again, thank you. I couldn't have done it without the support of readers (and listeners!) like you. And Happy New Year!

Abra SW

Pre-Order Links

Trade paperback:
http://www.amazon.com/Circus-Brass-Bone-Abra-SW/dp/0986377503

Kindle:
www.amazon.com/Circus-Brass-Bone-Abra-SW-ebook/dp/B00RKPKB4S

Apple iBook:
https://www.apple.com/ibooks/

Nook:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-circus-of-brass-and-bone-abra-sw/1120984725

Also at:

Google Play Books (epub, PDF):
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Abra_SW_A_Circus_of_Brass_and_Bone?id=TVUFBgAAQBAJ

Kobo (epub):
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/a-circus-of-brass-and-bone


And you can find it on Goodreads here (with a FREE giveaway!): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24161438-a-circus-of-brass-and-bone
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Help! I need help deciding between back cover copy blurbs for A Circus of Brass and Bone. You don't need to know anything about the story--it may be even better if you don't! There are three versions:
1. The circus in general
2. Lacey the equestrienne
3. Ginger the clown

Which one would be most likely to make you pick up this book? Thank you!

It's the end of civilization, but the show must go on.

THE CIRCUS

An aetheric calamity sends a wave of death rolling across the world. In post-Civil War America, a third of the population dies outright, and many of the survivors suffer strange nervous symptoms that are steadily increasing in severity. Their difficulties don't end there. Industrial machinery, military armament, telegraph communications, steam-powered ships and trains, electric lighting, and even the plumbing relies on aether catalysts. Basic technology is rendered dangerously unstable by the disaster. Society begins to spin out of control.

Even before the Loyale Traveling Circus and Menagerie docks in Boston, they are in turmoil. While at sea, someone murdered the ringmaster, and the killer must be one of their own. Unfortunately, that is the least of their problems. The circus members find themselves traveling through the collapse of civilization. In such desperate times, what use is a circus?

If they can defend themselves against the starving populace, if they can outwit and outperform the political factions that have seized power, if they can fight off the ravening monstrosities born of the aether storm . . . they just might find the answer.

LACEY

Before an aetheric calamity sends a wave of death rolling across the world, Lacy Miller's largest concern was whether or not her equestrian act drew a big enough crowd to ensure that she'd keep her place with the Loyale Traveling Circus and Menagerie. Then everything changes.

In post-Civil War America, a third of the population dies outright, and many of the survivors suffer strange nervous symptoms that are steadily increasing in severity. The survivors' difficulties don't end there. Industrial machinery, military armament, telegraph communications, steam-powered ships and trains, electric lighting, and even the plumbing relies on aether catalysts. Basic technology is rendered dangerously unstable by the disaster. Society begins to spin out of control.

Even before the circus docks in Boston, they are in turmoil. While at sea, someone murdered the ringmaster, leaving them without a leader. The killer must be one of their own. Unfortunately, that is the least of Lacey's problems as she has to take on responsibilities that she never expected. Lacey and the other circus members find themselves traveling through the collapse of civilization. In such desperate times, what use is a circus?

If they can defend themselves against the starving populace, if they can outwit and outperform the political factions that have seized power, if they can fight off the ravening monstrosities born of the aether storm . . . they just might find the answer.

GINGER

Before an aetheric calamity sends a wave of death rolling across the world, Ginger used his wits mostly to make audiences laugh. Then everything changes.

In post-Civil War America, a third of the population dies outright, and many of the survivors suffer strange nervous symptoms that are steadily increasing in severity. The survivors' difficulties don't end there. Industrial machinery, military armament, telegraph communications, steam-powered ships and trains, electric lighting, and even the plumbing relies on aether catalysts. Basic technology is rendered dangerously unstable by the disaster. Society begins to spin out of control.

Even before the Loyale Traveling Circus and Menagerie docks in Boston, they are in turmoil. While at sea, someone murdered the ringmaster, leaving them without a leader. The killer must be one of their own. Unfortunately, that is the least of Ginger's problems. Living by his wits has never been more difficult than when he finds himself traveling through the collapse of civilization. In such desperate times, what use is a circus?

If the circus can defend themselves against the starving populace, if they can outwit and outperform the political factions that have seized power, if they can fight off the ravening monstrosities born of the aether storm . . . they just might find the answer.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)


It's the grand finale of The Circus of Brass and Bone!



Episode 22

The Final Reckoning



Ginger, the Whitefaced Clown
Port Rumsey, New York

"Don't die, sweetheart," Commissioner Guirard begged. "Please. I'll do anything."

Mrs. Guirard tried to smile, but pain pulled her lips so tight that it was almost a grimace. "Nothing you can do," she gasped. "Not even you. Nothing anybody can do. Sorry."

"There must be something. I can't lose you. Tell me! What should I do?"

The answer revealed itself to Ginger in a flash so bright that he might have been struck by lightning.

Read more.

Note on Availability

Ebook and print editions (including story extras and a bonus novelette!) will be available to purchase before Christmas. As part of the preparations, I will be taking down the online version. Note title change: this will be published as A Circus of Brass and Bone.

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope those of my readers from the U.S. of A. had a good one, filled with family, friends, and food, in whichever order you prefer.





Episode 21

The Killing Ground

Ginger, the Whitefaced Clown

Port Rumsey, New York

Because he was already looking in that direction, Ginger noticed clown-in-training (and probationary ringmaster) Christopher Knall peer around the corner of the fat lady's tent. The tent used to belong to the fat lady and the skeleton man, but now--. Ginger cut off that line of thought.


A moment after Christopher pulled his head back, a beak poked around the edge of the tent.

Ginger grinned so widely that his cheeks hurt from the unaccustomed strain. Training Christopher had been a good use of his time after all. The young man had seized on the same idea that had crossed Ginger's mind earlier, but he had been in the right place to execute it.

One . . . two . . . three . . . four ostriches stampeded away from the circus tents, their feet thudding against the ground, their plumes bouncing, hissing like a sack full of angry cats. As a distraction, it worked. Commissioner Guirard froze mid-signal. The policemen fell silent, their attention arrested. The seamen's weapons sagged along with their jaws. The Sasse family halted their approach and the storklike guard paused in his attempts to arrest them. Everyone stared, from the most battle-scarred sailor right down to Miss Anderson, the Sasse family's sickly cousin. The spectacle seized her attention so firmly that she ignored everything else, including the shining trail of saliva that dribbled down her chin.

Even Lacey lost her focus for a moment, gawking at the ostrich stampede and letting her hand drop slightly. In that moment, Ginger moved.

Read more.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)



Episode 20

Hostages to Fortune

Isaac, the Animal Handler
Port Rumsey, New York City


"We need Ginger. Right. Right!" Given an order, Isaac's mind began to work. To get to Ginger in time, he needed a fast horse.


He ducked out of the doctor's tent, took a deep breath of fresh air, and walked briskly toward where Lacey kept her horses corralled. He wanted to run, but there were policemen everywhere. More emerged every minute. Years of being a disreputable outsider in every small town the circus passed through had taught Isaac that policemen were like big cats: either running or freezing in place would provoke an attack. The best plan was to keep moving normally.


As he passed one pair of patrolmen, he overheard, "Find the commissioner's wife and get her out of here."


Make that two fast horses he needed, Isaac thought. Ginger and Mrs. Guirard both needed to be here to keep things from going bad, if it wasn't already too late.

Read more

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)


Ginger the Whitefaced Clown
The Sasse Family Zoo, Manhattan


Massive jaws clamped shut around the flailing body. The victim's blood spurted, staining rows of serrated teeth. One gulp and only shreds of silver skin remained.

Mrs. Guirard applauded. "Oh, fabulous! Do it again!"

At the sound of her voice, the alligator jackknifed around to face them. Mrs. Guirard squeaked and seized Papa Sasse's arm.

Papa Sasse grinned. "There, there, little lady." He pulled another flopping fish out of his bucket and tossed it into the alligator pit, with gratifyingly gory results.

So far, the tour of the zoo was a rousing success. Every animal had displayed itself to advantage. Mrs. Guirard had been appropriately charmed, awed, impressed, and shocked. She clutched a lovely fan made from peacock feathers, which Papa Sasse had given her as a souvenir. To his own surprise, Ginger found himself genuinely enjoying the visit. It took effort to keep his mind on the business at hand.

Read more at http://www.circusofbrassandbone.com.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)




The Price of Chocolate

Ginger, the Whitefaced Clown

New York City


The first gray light of winter's dawn crept through the streets as Ginger walked into the city. It would take him about an hour to reach Hardy's Candy Confections, the candy shop favored by Commissioner Guirard's wife. While he walked, the city came alive around him. Yawning special patrolmen headed home after the night shift, transforming from curfew-enforcing bogeymen into ordinary tired men. Candlelight flickered briefly in the windows of reclaimed houses as their new inhabitants prepared for the day. A scattering of storekeepers opened their doors, lit their lanterns, swept their stoops, and generally faced the new day with a desperate kind of optimism.


When Ginger reached Glorious Green Grocery, a long line snaked away from it even though the grocer hadn't opened yet. Deborah Rowan was among the sleepy-eyed men and women who waited with ration cards in hand.


Ginger stopped and tapped her shoulder. "Deb."


She jumped, surprise widening her eyes and bringing her fully alert. "You!" she said. "The man from the circus!"


He took it as a compliment that his erstwhile guide to the city couldn't remember his name. "Yes. How long will this," he jerked his chin at the line, "take?"


"Grocer opens in less than an hour. I'll be done in two, back hauling stone at the bridge in three. Why? Did you get a ration card? If you're planning on getting food, you won't find a better time for it. Lines are worse later in the day."


"I'm not trying to steal a place in line," Ginger assured her, "just passing by. I saw you and wondered if you'd deliver a message for me. You can buy groceries first; the message will wait two hours, though not much longer."


Read more . . .
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)


Happy Halloween! After an unplanned hiatus, The Circus of Brass and Bone is back! It took longer than I thought it would, and a whole lot has happened in the meantime: two deaths among our family and close friends; the birth of our youngest child; two family health crises; and a state-mandated home renovation. When I returned to writing The Circus of Brass and Bone, I thought I would finish writing the whole story before resuming the serialization. So I wrote. And wrote. And kept writing. And eventually I discovered that I had written past the natural ending point and was halfway into the sequel before I realized it. The print and ebook editions will include a bonus novelette from this story overflow. Print and ebook editions, you ask? Why yes! The current plan is to have them available for purchase by Christmas.

The next episode will be posted on Monday, November 10th, and new episodes will follow weekly on Monday until we reach the end. I hope you enjoy your Halloween treat!

Episode 17
A Small Favor


Ginger, the Whitefaced Clown
Port Rumsey


"I was hoping you could do something for me. For the commissioner, really." Ginger guided Mr. Akrill, the commissioner's assistant, away from the ticket line.

Mr. Akrill frowned. "For the commissioner?"

"Exactly. But he mustn't know about it."

Mr. Akrill pulled back. "Hold up there. I won't do anything that might--"

(Continue reading at The Circus of Brass and Bone.)



cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Writing Goals for the Next 3 Months (started writing this 8/31/2014, came back over a month later to actually do it . . . le sigh.)

So it seems that planning on writing goals every 3 months means that they'll actually get done about every 4 (or even more) months, going by my current sample size of two. But I'm still setting my reminders for every 3 months. If I changed my reminders to every 4 months, I expect I'd start actually getting this done every 5. Heh. I s'pose I could change reminders to every 2 months, but what if I started actually doing it on schedule? Every 2 months is too often.

Touching base with my yearly writing goals:

Um, I appear not to have made any. Not surprising, considering that I had a one-month-old baby at the time. Should be easy, since these three months will cover that, right? Right? Buehler?

So. What would my yearly writing goal be? Aha! To finish serializing Circus of Brass and Bone, publish it, clear away the backlog of to-edit manuscripts, and get started on finishing the Tree of Life (horrible and unrepresentative working title, must fix) science fiction novel that I'm--some--into. ::scurries away to check:: Wait, I'm only 21,000 words into it? That's like it's just a novella. I could write--something else! Or that. Hrm. So the goal there would be to decide what novel to write next, and to outline/re-outline it. And let's say to write a couple of new short stories in there in between, because it's good to have new short stories. Oh, and to finish transcribing and finishing the various things from my various notebooks! Yeah, that too.

In conclusion, my goal for the next three months/rest of the year is

. . . finish Circus of Brass and Bone.

Whenever I'm asked/inspired/invited to do something, I need to check it against that. Yeah. And at this point, given the Halloween relaunch date and my desire to do an every-week podcast to finish this up by Christmas, that means I need to

. . . only spend writing time working on Circus of Brass and Bone.

Not writing three-month goal statements. Not doing markets. Not doing critiques. Probably not attending general attendance writing meetings. Not doing the weekly diary entry. Not researching preschools. Not paying bills.

Nope. Those things that can be, need to be done during the children's waking hours. Those things that can't be, are probably going to have to wait until 2015.

. . . I'm going to have to figure out other ways shoehorn computer time into the children's waking hours. That's not easy. Maybe not even possible. Hrm.


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Nope, nothing to be scared of here.

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