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I’ll admit when I saw this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, I didn’t know what I was going to write. My exact words to Margaret were, “poem in third grade, short story in fifth, first attempt at novel in seventh, fanfic in twelfth, next attempt at novel after college…” I didn’t know where to start.

Then it occurred to me that this is my origin story. I’ve always been writing, and it’s something I’ve cycled back to again and again, in different forms, no matter what had pushed me away. Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Back in January, I talked about my approach for this year. Basically, I wanted to keep up with my serials, focus on longer fiction, and try to tackle one major project per quarter.

I did keep up the serials (with the exception of this past month for the newsletter serial), and I released both Corn Maze Murders and Bodyguard of Lies. I made good progress on Bodyguard‘s sequel, but it won’t be ready to go for a while yet. Quarterly projects? Not so much. In fact, I didn’t get to writing any of the four that I originally thought would be this year’s projects.

I submitted a couple of short stories I hadn’t expected to, including one I wrote specifically for an anthology. Still didn’t focus on the short fiction, but I decided it has its place.

So my plan for the year didn’t work out terribly well. However, I’m still pleased with what I got done, and I’m hoping next year will build on things I started this year.

Today’s post was inspired by the topic “Conclusions” — December’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour â€” an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret, D. M. Bonanno, and Margaret McGaffey Fisk.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!


Subscribe to my newsletter now — receive updates twice a month, including a newsletter-only serial and recipes:


Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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I used to flatter myself that I read widely, but as I’ve come more and more to realize just how very many books are out there, I’ve realized it’s just not so. I read scattered bits of different genres or subgenres, but that’s not the same at all as reading widely.

So what do I read?

The occasional cozy, some MG and YA (only if there’s a speculative element), a handful of comics (but not usually the graphic novels that are memoirs or realistic fiction), some classics, some memoirs or diaries (Captain Cook, frex), and mostly science fiction and fantasy — urban fantasy, epic fantasy, portal fantasy, space operas, a bit of steampunk. I don’t care much for mundane SF, and I only read near-future SF in short fiction.

And what do I write?

The occasional cozy, some MG (currently one each in the perpetually writing and the perpetually editing phases), some urban fantasy, some science fiction, epic fantasy (planning stages), space opera (ditto), alternate history (more in the “think this would be cool phase”), a bit of steampunk…

It’s what I know, it’s what I love, and I haven’t had anything take off to the extent I should devote myself exclusively to it. So I’ll just keep writing and keep trying.

Today’s post was inspired by the topic “What’s your favorite genre to read, and do you write it?” — September’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour â€” an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret, D. M. Bonanno, and Margaret McGaffey Fisk.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!


Subscribe to my newsletter now — receive updates twice a month, including a newsletter-only serial and recipes:


Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Back in January, I talked about how I was planning out my year — one major goal per quarter, keep up my serials, get Corn Maze up for sale, and make progress on the 50 States mystery series.

Yeah . . .

I’m still finalizing Corn Maze edits, I’ve set aside 50 States for now, and I finished nothing new in the second quarter. I have kept up on the serials, though, and I’ve tried to be better about blogging.

New project I’m pitching, though, involves a comic book miniseries. I didn’t get the pitch sent in by the end of June, but the publisher is supposed to reopen to pitches in September, so we’ll see how that goes.

I’ve also been looking at older work, novel manuscripts that I set aside because I didn’t yet have the skills to fix them, to make them the best they could be. At this point, that’s probably going to entail writing them over from scratch, rather than patching up sentences and paragraphs here and there, which on the one hand is a little depressing (more time and work involved) but on the other is a testament to my growth as a writer because I don’t think a simple edit is good enough.

Goal for the rest of the year is still to complete two more projects. Let’s see how that goes.

Today’s post was inspired by the topic “Midyear check-in” — July’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret, D. M. Bonanno, and Margaret McGaffey Fisk.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!


Subscribe to my newsletter now — receive updates twice a month, including a newsletter-only serial and recipes:


Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Preface: I completely forgot to post my thoughts for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour this week. Fortunately, I’m only a few days behind. Can we all pretend I posted this on Tuesday when it was due? No? Ah, well.

So this month’s post is all about planned summer reading or rereading — what’s in the TBR pile, what am I reading, that sort of thing. I do try to talk about my recent reads in my newsletter, but one thing I have discovered is that if I talk about what I’m in the middle of reading, or (sometimes) what I’m planning on reading, that can take the fire and interest out of my reading, and I don’t wind up finishing the book. We’ll see if that happens this time.

A couple of rereads on my summer agenda: Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (first book in the Wheel of Time series), audiobook read by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer; and Riddle-Master by Patricia McKillip (entire trilogy: The Riddle-Master of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, and Harpist in the Wind). The audiobook is for vacation driving; no one else in the family has read any of the books, and epic fantasy is a solid choice for everyone. The other is a long-standing favorite of mine, more of a comfort read than anything.

Also on the audio end of things, except not really: I grabbed both Ivanhoe and the Man in the Iron Mask for me to read aloud to the family. Not light reading perhaps, but good adventure stories.

I picked up the epic fantasy book bundle from StoryBundle, with lots of interesting looking books in it, so there’s that, too. And I have some urban fantasy reads sitting in my Kindle app, including some shorter work from Kevin Hearne in the Iron Druid series. The only real questions for me are what order I’m going to read things in, and how much will remain untouched at the end of the summer.

Oh, and I have a couple of samples I’ve picked up, too, to decide whether to read the full books. I’ll probably talk about them after I read them and make decisions.

What’s in your TBR (to-be-read) pile?


Today’s post was inspired by the topic “Beach Reads” — June’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret, D. M. Bonanno, and Margaret McGaffey Fisk.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!


Subscribe to my newsletter now — receive updates twice a month, including a newsletter-only serial and recipes:


Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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I don’t remember when I first discovered the work of Terry Pratchett. I’m fairly certain that it was Rincewind I found first; I remember laughing when reading Sourcery — eighth son of an eighth son indeed! And the Luggage! And the Librarian! It didn’t take me too long to find the Witches, but Captain Carrot and the Watch of Ankh-Morpork were later in my reading.

I devoured every Pratchett I came across, and I eagerly anticipated running into old favorites among the characters, especially Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, who could turn up almost anywhere (although not in Ptah). I loved Going Postal, but somehow, Making Money didn’t grab me quite as much. I think, as I got older, the bitter truths that he was satirizing had become too real for me, and I found it harder to laugh at some of the things he depicted.

However, his work for younger readers? Tiffany Aching is amazing! There’s a lot of honesty there, too, and it’s hard, but sweet as well. I can’t wait for my daughter to be old enough to hand those to.

Naturally, I was heartbroken when he died, although we’d all known it was coming.

This weekend, I’ve been reading some of his earliest work — Dragons at Crumbling Castle and Other Tales, which is stories he sold to newspapers when he was in his teens. The writing, the voice — unmistakably his, as is the whimsy (the Friday Knight?). It’s a delightful collection, released last year, and if you have fond memories of reading Pratchett’s work, if you long for something new, pick it up. It’s a lot of fun, and it shows that although he honed his writing over the years, his core was always there.
Dragons at Crumbling Castle by Terry Pratchett


Today’s post was inspired by the topic “In Memoriam” — May’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret and D. M. Bonanno.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!


Subscribe to my newsletter now — receive updates twice a month, including a newsletter-only serial and recipes:


Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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I talk about books everywhere — here on my blog, in my newsletter, on writers’ forums, on Facebook, on GoodReads — and I see them mentioned in a lot of places as well. I see covers posted by friends on Facebook, I see what’s coming soon via NetGalley e-mails, and I see reviews on GoodReads.

Where I hear the most chatter, however, is often Twitter. I follow a lot of writers, so I hear about what they’re working on and what they’ve got coming out, of course, but I also see a lot of “I just finished X’s latest book, and I’m still crying” or “I couldn’t put this down” or “Although I liked this, it had some problems,” as well as links to more in-depth reviews.

It’s not a readers’ community in the sense of people gathered just to talk about what they’re reading, but it’s a good snapshot of what’s out there at any given time.

Have you ever used Twitter or other social media to find a good book to read or to share it with others? How’d that go for you?

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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I’m sitting here at the computer with the entire family home again for a snow day, typing in edits, and I’m trying to think about dream writing retreats.

Would I want something cold and snowy like it is right now, so I’m not even vaguely tempted to go outside for a walk instead of sitting down and writing? Or a mild, sunny day with low humidity, where I can sit outside in a fresh breeze, jotting words in my notebook and staring off into the distance as I work out the next snippet of dialogue?

Something quiet, with few distractions. I can — and do — work with others in the house, even with electronics and movies and music (often multiple sources) in the background. I write with interruptions from the mailman who has a package for me, from the dog who needs to go out (or come back in), from the birds at the bird feeder who are just begging to have their pictures taken. I write longhand, I write in Word, and I write in Scrivener.

But I get more done if I don’t have those distractions. It’s one of many reasons I do occasionally like to stay up and write late at night. I even check out fewer online distractions at night.

On the other hand, I also like to chat (online usually) and even do word wars when I’m writing. So pure isolation isn’t going to do it for me.

My ideal? Would probably be to be able to spend a week or two being night-owl me, napping during the day, with someone else online at the same time for at least part of the time to help me get over the inertia that slows me at the beginning of a project. Maybe I’ll even try that at some point in April or May, while the kids are still in school (because once they’re home for the summer, napping during the day isn’t going to be an option).

I’m grateful that I can work without ideal conditions. I’m grateful that I can even consider testing this to see if what I think is ideal actually will work for me. And I’m grateful that I have a family that can hang out at home that still lets me get stuff done.

Oh, and I’m grateful that we’re all at home safe and sound, rather than being out on those oh-so-slippery roads today! We got snow last night, followed by freezing rain in the wee hours, and then slush falling on top of that this morning. (Yes, actual slush — it wasn’t really rain, and it wasn’t really snow, but it had the consistency of a Slurpee/Icee/whatever your flavored ice drink preference is.)

Have you thought about your best conditions for work?


Today’s post was inspired by the topic “dream writing retreat” — February’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret and D. M. Bonanno.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!


Subscribe to my newsletter now — receive updates twice a month, including a newsletter-only serial and recipes:


Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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So what am I doing — or planning to do — with my writing in 2015?

I have specific goals, some of which I’ve talked about in my newsletter: still need to get Corn Maze Murders up for sale, and I’ve started the new 50 States series. I’m continuing my serials, both the one in my blog and the one in my newsletter. I’m not really planning on much short fiction for the year — some drabbles for SpeckLit, but not a lot else.

Instead, I want to focus on just getting a few things done, and maybe setting up for future work, doing research and the like.

Inspired by M.C.A. Hogarth, I’m basically focusing on one major writing goal per quarter, with perhaps smaller goals on a monthly basis. I was really amused this morning to discover a post on Fast Company about how 90-day goals were better than annual ones, which just reinforced this plan.

Hence, I have a lovely board (whiteboard-style posterboard, so I can make changes as necessary):

planning calendar

Whiteboard for the year

So far, I’ve got quarterly goals, a few things up under “Year” for things to think about and consider, and only a couple items on specific months, such as the release date for The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (which has my story “Blood and Gold” in it) and the expected end date for Bodyguard of Lies (followed by its publication as an e-book and POD). Right now, it’s looking reasonable. Let’s hope I have the sense to keep it that way.

Not on the board are things like my daily sketching, and my freelance work isn’t on it at all. This is just my writing board.

How are you planning out your new year?


Today’s post was inspired by the topic “New Beginnings” — January’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret and D. M. Bonanno.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!


Subscribe to my newsletter now — receive updates twice a month, including a newsletter-only serial and recipes:


Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Looking at what I’ve done this year. There have been some very slow months, but overall, it’s gone quite well.

  • I’ve written more than 120,000 words to date (which would be enough for two full cozy mysteries or one nice-sized fantasy or science-fiction novel if I hadn’t done so many short projects and flitted around from flower to flower).
  • I have three current serials running: one on my blog on Tuesdays, one monthly in the newsletter, and one (illustrated) in my daughter’s lunch notes.
  • I’ve read a ton of books (and realized yet again that I will never read everything I want to). I’m currently reading a few nonfiction works, but I’m still working on the piles of MG and YA titles as well.
  • I did volunteer work at the school store for the boy during the first part of the year, formatting the SFWA Forum, and reading for the Norton Award jury.
  • I picked up one steady copyediting gig and received other freelance work from both old and new clients.
  • I joined some new social media networks and launched my newsletter (subscribe below if you haven’t already!).

On the flip side,

  • I haven’t been exercising much, my ankle is in almost constant pain, and my muscles get cramps more easily than they used to. (Why yes, these are all inter-related.)
  • So much to read!
  • And, as always, still trying to figure out the best time balance to get enough paying work done and write as much as I want, while still spending time with family and doing my crafts and my reading and . . .

Today’s post was inspired by the topic “Conclusions” — December’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret and D. M. Bonanno.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!


Subscribe to my newsletter now — receive updates twice a month, including a newsletter-only serial and recipes:


Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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This summer, we’ve gotten back into RPGs. Specifically, we’ve been playing 4th edition D&D with friends. My husband’s the DM (dungeon master, for those who may not be conversant with the lingo), our son’s playing a wizard, we’ve got a dwarven battle cleric and a halfling ranger, and I’m playing a paladin to round out the party.

Yesterday, we wandered into a room that had a trapped demon — which some wererats let loose. My paladin immediately moved to stand in front of the demon (and miss spectacularly with her radiant smite). When it was the demon’s turn, it attacked my paladin, as I said, “Because she volunteered.”

And that’s the kind of character I created — the strong arm who stands at the front of the fray in the path of evil to protect others. (At first level, this also meant that the cleric spent a lot of time healing my paladin who had fallen unconscious and was dying from one to three times per encounter.) The character who sees a problem and goes to face it, whether it’s rescuing innocents, talking diplomatically to the local council, or fighting the monsters. Sometimes, her actions aren’t effective, or even sensible (don’t ask why she buried her greataxe in a gilded throne), but she’s in there trying.

She also relies on the other party members — not just the cleric, but the ranger (deadly with her daggers and clever in her acrobatics) and the wizard (whose flaming sphere has saved the party more than once). If she tried to do anything on her own, she’d be just another dead and forgotten would-be hero.

I’m not always as good about making active characters when I write — they may dither over choices or examine every side of a situation or change their minds. But my paladin? She’s a protagonist to be proud of.


Today’s post was inspired by the topic “Protagonists” — August’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret and D. M. Bonanno.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!


Subscribe to my newsletter now — receive updates twice a month, including a newsletter-only serial and recipes:


Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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I didn’t post goals back in January. This doesn’t mean I didn’t have ideas of what I wanted to accomplish — mostly writing, reading, and getting more consistent work. The details don’t matter much.

So how’ve I done?
Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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I hope I’m a better writer than I was ten years ago. I’ve worked at it, and along the way, I’ve had a few sales — which told me I was doing something right, even if it wasn’t consistent. So how do I work at it?

I read — fiction, to see what’s out there, to absorb story patterns, to see how other people have managed to deal with trick situations; nonfiction, to research, to find new ideas, to stretch my brain; and writing books, to try to absorb lessons specifically about how to do things.

And I write. Sometimes, I write in a binge. Others, I might manage a few hundred words a day for months. Sometimes, the count goes up. Sometimes it goes down.

As far as I know, those are the keys to being a writer: read and write.


Today’s post was inspired by the topic “Improving Craft” — June’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret and D. M. Bonanno.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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I post a lot about time, productivity, and balance. I’ve even opined before that it’s really more a question of juggling than of balance. Why do I talk about it so much? Because, like most people, I have multiple facets of my life, and I want to have time for everything. (Well, almost everything. For the most part, I don’t care about having time for housework.) That means writing, working, and family. Oh, and crafts, cooking, volunteering, and exercise. And…

You see the problem. Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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About ten years ago, I read every author’s blog I could find. I wanted to absorb everything I could about the business, about agent quests, about how others coped with disappointments, about the craft — pretty much, I wanted to learn everything about everything.

Over time, I’ve changed my blog-reading habits. I read more widely, and where I do read writers, it may not be for industry-specific advice so much as their perspective on the world.

Jamie Todd Rubin — This is my new go-to blog for everything. In addition to being a science-fiction writer, he’s also an Evernote Paperless Lifestyle Ambassador, holds a full-time job, and spends time with his family. His writing metric posts have encouraged me to work at writing every day, even if it’s just a little, even though I’ve been telling myself for years that I’m a binge writer. It’s probably going to take at least a year of trying this method of working to see how effective it is for me.

His focus on productivity has helped me learn more about how to use Evernote, as well as such services as Pocket (so I can read things later) and Buffer (so I can set up Tweets and Facebook posts for specific times).

Kristine Kathryn Rusch — Honestly, although I skim all of her blog posts, the ones that get my attention every week are the Business Rusch posts on Thursdays. She’s talked about everything from negotiating tactics to dealbreakers in contracts to literary estates to (her latest topic) discoverability.

Other blogs or newsletters? Tons — there’s Aeon for long reads, the Buffer blog with hints on productivity and social media, Co.Create with lots of information about creativity, Brain Pickings for more in-depth digging into books, Barking Up The Wrong Tree (which digs into how to make you better at life), and more. There are science-specific blogs, like Neuron Culture and Genotopia; writing blogs, like http://www.stevenpressfield.com; blogs of writers I know (you all know who you are!); blogs by big name writers who have no clue who I am and who talk about lots of different things (like John Scalzi and Chuck Wendig); blogs at the intersection of writing and law (namely Writer-in-Law and Passive Voice); at least one blog on language (Separated by a Common Language, on BrE/AmE differences); and more.

So what can we tell from my list of blogs?

  1. I like reading a lot of stuff. Okay, we probably knew that already.
  2. I still care about both the business and craft of writing, but I don’t have as much time to devote to reading about it (or possibly as much need, although that’s harder to say).
  3. I like reading blogs by entertaining people who talk about more than one thing.
  4. I want input on how to be both more productive and more creative.
  5. I have varied interests.

What about you? Do you have a favorite blog I should add to my list to check out?


Today’s post was inspired by the topic “Share 3 blogs you read regularly and why” — April’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret and D. M. Bonanno.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Rocky start this year with the Merry-Go-Round Tour. I missed the first couple of months completely, and I’m a day late with this one. Such is life.

Today, I’m supposed to talk about what, in marketing speak, would be my USP: unique selling point (or unique selling proposition). Yeah, I hate marketing speak.

Now, obviously, no two stories (barring plagiarism) are identical, so it stands to reason that by definition my stories are unique. On the other hand, everything fits into a genre and has relationships with other things in that genre. My cozy mysteries take place in a small town, the murders are solved by an amateur rather than the chief of police, and the cast of characters is full of quirks. My science fiction has spaceflight or aliens (or both); my fantasy uses magic and beings that don’t exist in our world.

So what would make someone who doesn’t know me pick up one of my stories rather than somebody else’s? What is it that I bring to the table? Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Let me start off with the caveat that, in general, I’m lousy at picking a favorite thing. (Daffodils being a notable exception.) I am much better at saying when I’ve enjoyed things. This is my current list of things that have caught my eye this year:

Novelette: The absolutely delightful “Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters” by Henry Lien in December’s Asimov’s.

YA: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, second book in her Raven Cycle; The Woken Gods by Glenda Bond; and David Bridger’s Flight of Thieves.

SF: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.

Anthologies: Manifesto UF, Oz Reimagined, Mad Science Café, Futuredaze, Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination (Yes, lots of choices here.)

Graphic novel series I’ve caught up on: Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi.

New graphic novel: Sandman: Overture.

Serials: Indexing by Seanan McGuire and Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib by David J. Schwartz. There was also Scalzi’s Human Division, which I enjoyed until the ending that resolved none of the mysteries that had been raised.

Christian romance: Raspberries and Vinegar by Valerie Comer.

Christian fantasy: Greater Treasures: A DragonEye Novella by Karina Fabian.

Regency romance: Beneath the Mask by Margaret McGaffey Fisk.

I’ve read and reread a lot this year, from graphic novels to urban fantasy to middle-grade books to nonfiction. Some books I started but didn’t finish, simply because of time constraints. Some of the books I really enjoyed weren’t new this year, like The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin or most of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

I could do a whole other post on books I’ve been looking forward to but haven’t managed to read yet, like Kay Kenyon’s A Thousand Perfect Things, Prince of Lies by Anne Lyle, Twinmaker by Sean Williams, and books two and three of Emma Newman’s Split Worlds.

If you’d like to see the ones I’ve recorded as finished, you can see them on Goodreads.

There are also, of course, books I’ve proofread, indexed, or copyedited this year as paying work. One there that I think you should look out for is Alex F. Fayle’s The Other Half.

What have you been reading lately that you think I should check out? Any favorites I’ve forgotten?


Today’s post was inspired by the topic “2013 favorites” — December’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret and D. M. Bonnano.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

eimarra: (Default)

Back in January, I talked about my grandiose plans for the year. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well.

I didn’t finish the fantasy novel yet, although I did submit it to Viable Paradise.

I’m still working on fine-tuning the next cozy mystery, and I haven’t started the other series I mentioned I was thinking about.

I haven’t written the other middle grade novels nor the Dreampunk series novellas.

In fact, the only things on the list I’ve managed were the application to Viable Paradise and getting The Christmas Tree Farm Murders into paper (but not audio).

Yet for all that, I feel I’ve made progress this year. I’ve isolated things to work on improving, I’ve tweaked my work flow, and I think I’m finally getting a handle on how much I can reasonably expect myself to get done in a given time frame (the fact that it will never be as much as I want is depressing but must be accepted).

I’m going to see how some of what I’ve learned shakes out over the next two or three months before I set solid goals for 2014. I think the one thing I’m sure of is hat hey won’t be as far-reaching as this year’s were.

How about you? At the 5/6 mark of the year, what are you still aiming to get done in the next couple of months?


Today’s post was inspired by the topic “2013 project review” — November’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret and D. M. Bonanno.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

On research

Sep. 2nd, 2013 04:23 pm
eimarra: (Default)

Let’s start off by admitting that I don’t have a routine for learning about things. I am a magpie, chasing the latest shiny thought, a bee that goes flower to flower to flower. I love learning new things (but not why I shouldn’t take a shower when my husband’s brewing beer — he uses water-cooling on the wort, which, as one should have expected, affects shower temperature in both directions as he turns it on and off), but I’m unpredictable in what sets me off.

I might wonder about the difference between salt mines and salt reclaimed from sea water, about the history of the salt trade, and how current medical ideas have changed its presence on our tables. (Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky is a good place to start for that series if questions.) Or I might decide I need to know more about the history of tea and check out all the books the library has on the topic, and read until my curiosity is sated.

I might decide to set a story in a particular type of factory — one I’ve never been in, of course. So I google images of that type of factory, looking for floorplans, labels for the specific parts, dimensions if I can get them. When I discover a cool part of the factory on a schematic, I then google for more information on how it works, doing my best to find details to bring it to life for others who haven’t been there — and to avoid being called out by those who have.

I wanted to write a story with a solar sail; I started at the NASA site, but also visited Wikipedia, the European Space Agency’s site, and read some news articles. The story’s still not done. I got sidetracked.

And that, sadly, is the drawback to being a magpie. If I only need a bit of information and can get it and move on to the writing, it works well. Otherwise, I run the risk of distraction and losing bits to my subconscious, where they languish, waiting or me to draw them out and use them.

Which means my method works well for two things: specific bits of information I want right now (which makes me a good person to ask if you need something looked up; my Google-fu is strong), and large, general background for flavor.

What kind of information have you found yourself looking for recently?


Today’s post was inspired by the topic “Research routines”– September’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret and D. M. Bonanno.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

Motivation?

Aug. 2nd, 2013 10:35 pm
eimarra: (Default)

There are two sources of motivation: external and internal. I love me some external rewards — sales, nice words, the comments I still get occasionally about people recommending my story “Matchmaker” to family as an excellent example of SF with a Jewish basis. Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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