ch-ch-ch-changes – dubstep version

My July post for Steyer Associates plays on the David Bowie song — so if I’m going to risk an DMCA takedown, I might as well double-up and use the same headlines.

“every time i thought i’d got it made”

My Managing Up tips for TechComms professionals this month tackles the challenges of organizational and technology changes:

For those of us who’ve been around for a while, we turn over every rock labeled “new,” wondering: “Have I seen one like this before?”

Check the post for my best ideas on how to cope when management shakes the dice at your workplace.

“you’ve left us up to our necks in it”

Nine Volt Heart - A Rain City Comedy of MannersTwo “Rain City Comedy of Manners” books:

Artemis in the Desert

Nine Volt Heart

The Grrrl of Limberlost .


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Artemis in the Desert

Artemis in the Desert - A Rain City Comedy of MannersNew motorcycle fiction, now live from your favorite book vendors.
And thanks again to Lisa Tilton for great cover art, and for indulging my whimsy on the back cover of the print book.

In the Notes and Acknowledgments at the back of Artemis in the Desert, I include this disclaimer:

The highways and most towns in Artemis in the Desert are real. Once upon a time, real people on real motorcycles followed this route and endured extraordinary, unseasonal weather and bad coffee. However, those real people were practical and suffered no similar degree of human angst in their travels. The characters and activities in this story are wholly fictional and do not represent real events or real people, living or dead.

A long time ago, I did indeed ride the same highways and experienced the same weather as described in this new Rain City story. When I returned home, I transcribed details about the journey: distances, bad coffee, hail, and highlights from Stephen R. Whitney’s Field Guide to the Grand Canyon. A year later, I revisited the Four Corners during a month’s journey camping in the desert. The experience on that adventure amplified a story that I’d begun to imagine while freezing and pounded by hail while riding a BMW R100RT (the true Spandau ballet).

While on that first interminably wet journey, I read Jane Austen’s Persuasion for the first time. (I was late to Austen and Regency fiction in general.) With fork lightning circling the empty desert highways we rode, I imagined a story of two individuals from opposite worlds who are forced to meet again a decade later. These characters have revisited my imagination repeatedly since that journey.

Artemis in the Desert springs from the weather events of that original journey, and revisits the conceit that Jane Austen introduced: how can two people who were once intimate overcome all the misunderstandings and cultural barriers that once separated them?
… while drowning in unseasonal rains on back-country highways?

Artemis in the Desert


That Was the Week That Was #1

You Can Be an Artist!While I gather disparate info for my writing and personal life, the details don’t lead quickly to coherent sets of stories. So I’m going to try collecting and reporting bits in a Weekly Reader format, with Departments.

Reading with the Greatest Impact

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“Comedy of Manners”? Context on Wensend blog

Wendy of Wensend blog invited me to write a guest post, after she read and reviewed The Grrrl of Limberlost. My guest post explains how “Comedy of Manners” (the Rain City series tagline) applies for the characters in The Grrrl. You can read that post on Wendy’s blog.

The Grrrl of Limberlost

The Grrrl of Limberlost is told from multiple viewpoints: A security programmer following a major malware problem, an injured PTSD guy protecting his family from vengeful gangsters, and a porn-farm IT admin with a whacked world view.

Let me further tweak your interest in The Grrrl of Limberlost. Although you can browse the first 10% on Amazon, here’s the first chapter, introducing Samsara Byron—the security programmer and riot-grrrl with personal and professional problems.

1. Sam Refactors Reality, sans Caffeine

Christmas eve morn, as I traversed the ice sheet cascading down Madrona Drive, a dark-eyed junco flittered up from my blind spot and bashed itself against my car window.

I accelerated, unable to help the poor creature as its heart pounded four hundred panicked beats in the minute it would take to die. Yet I could have prevented a pointless death, if only I’d seen what was coming. Continue reading

Launching The Grrrl of Limberlost

Major thanks to early reviewers at Amazon and Goodreads!
Book details on Jugum Press site.
The Grrrl of Limberlost  GRRRL is available from all your favorite vendors.
If you can’t find it at your local bookstore, ask them to order via Ingram:  ISBN: 978-1-939423-18-4

KINDLE:  Lending enabled; Matchbook with print edition
EPUB: Nook — Kobo — Sony & more on Smashwords
PRINT: U.S. Amazon — non-U.S. Amazon — Powell’s — Barnes & Noble — CreateSpace — Find other bookstores

I promised a comparative study of Lisa Tilton’s cover development, similar to the discussion of Nine Volt Heart cover. The final cover for GRRRL still gives me chills … so here’s a tour of the choices. Continue reading

A Series of Unfortunate Coincidences

I’m finishing proofs and approving cover art and copy for two books in the new Rain City Comedy of Manners series (coming soon from Jugum Press).

These books keep running into a series of real-world coincidences. Some examples:

The first backstory I planned for the cyberthriller The Grrrl of Limberlost seemed unique and evocative. I was 20% into the text when my office neighbor in Building 27 sat in my visitor chair distressed, and told a horrifying story of what was happening to his family.

Which was a 1:1 fit against my story premise.
So, I had to abandon that backstory. Distressed, I abandoned that manuscript for a while. It took me till last fall to return to this story, reset the backstory, and finish the book.

Another example: my clever name for a documentary described on the first page of The Grrrl of Limberlost was “My Life as a Chechnyan Dog.” I was nearly ready one Monday morning to hand the Limberlost manuscript to my copy editor Liz, when the news cycle about the Boston Marathon bombing began. Since my daughter works near the blast zone, I was distracted for several days, like the rest of the U.S.

When I came back to prep the copy handoff, I realized “Chechnya” had to go since it resonated inappropriately. An hour spent in an online atlas led to a substitution: “My Life as a Chisinau Dog.”

I’m crossing my fingers that Chisinau doesn’t figure in a controversy or catastrophe by the time The Grrrl from Limberlost is published.

Two days ago I was writing jacket copy for the second book, Nine Volt Heart. The original premise for the story was: could Bruce Springsteen ever have a love affair without asking his beloved to sign an NDA after he appeared on the cover of Time magazine?

So I started my jacket hook from that premise, dropping Bruce’s name. Also, who reads Time magazine anymore? So I substituted Rolling Stone, and pondered how close I could trespass on the song by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show.

By the time I paused my work to read that day’s fresh online news, the cover of Rolling Stone had wandered into Chechnya territory—creating irrelevant reverberations for Limberlost by reprinting the insipid face of the Marathon bomber.

I can’t substitute Spin or No Depression—not enough readers would recognize those names to create resonance. CREEM and Crawdaddy died, and three-quarters of the people alive today never heard of them. Billboard isn’t relevant for what I want to capture. Only Rolling Stone works—which is why the Jakar picture spawned controversy.

So, Rolling Stone stays in the Nine Volt hook:

Can you find true love without a non-disclosure agreement after your picture is on the cover of Rolling Stone?

See the current Rain City Comedy of Manners series blurbs to read the blurbs. Crossing my fingers again in hopes that I’ve removed unfortunate coincidences from the books’ text and blurbs.

Or maybe in an SEO world, coincidence is good fortune.
— Annie Pearson