A Truant Disposition

"I must be idle."

Countdown to Book Launch!

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Mar• 01•16

If Wishes Were Spaceships by Ainy Rainwater

It’s March!! You may think that it means that spring is just around the corner, or you may be looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day, or March Madness. Well, you’ve got something else to look forward to: If Wishes Were Spaceships will be released March 29th! It’s available for pre-order from most stores. It’s a standalone novel, but I’m already hard at work on a sequel to it because I just enjoyed writing this “stranded on a planet” story so much.

If Wishes Were Spaceships Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

If Wishes Were Spaceships
Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

…And didn’t Donna Harriman Murillo do an amazing job with the cover art? Well, okay, most of you haven’t read the book yet (waving “hi” to beta readers), but she really captured Jazlyn perfectly! I don’t blog copiously here, but you’ll be seeing a lot more posts from me this month about the characters and story, and my thoughts on writing it. I’ve also got at least one live online interview lined up, though that won’t be for a few months, so stayed tuned for more science fiction adventures, and happy author blogging!

Here are some of the stores that have the book available for pre-order. More coming all the time until book launch March 29th! 🙂 Amazon USAppleKoboSmashwords.

Her Voice, Everywhere

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Feb• 12•16

It’s been a while since I dropped a little story here. Here’s something for Valentine’s Day. It was inspired by an article I read a few years ago, about the widow of the actor who gave the “Mind the Gap” announcement on the London Tube stations, or used to. It’s a sweet story with a happy ending. But I got to wondering as our world is increasingly filled with voices for everything, what if you got your heart broken and then had to hear their voice daily? That’s a different story. That’s “Her Voice, Everywhere”.

Her voice was everywhere. Telling him provocatively that there were special deals in lingerie, reminding him that preferred shoppers were eligible for discounts on some items, singing out the names of the cross streets as he made his way home through traffic. Telling him he had reached his destination, or if he rode the bus, that this was his stop. Her stop. Their stop. Before she stopped.

Someone should’ve been able to fix this. He had never quite been able to let go of that idea. If she had had some illness they would’ve been able to make her well. If she had been a machine they would’ve been able to repair her. But so far no amount of progress, technology or therapy had been able to find a way to change a human being’s mind about affairs of the heart. They had talked to several people, or at least he had. But she had said that counselors could only help a relationship if a relationship existed. And it didn’t. Not really. Not any more. That much he admitted to himself. He had reached the point of almost accepting that she was gone, gone on to a life without him, but couldn’t as his friends said, “move on” when she was still following him everywhere like some creepy psycho stalker. That’s what it felt like every time he heard her voice, prompting him to buy something, to make a right turn, to change his socks and his life, to upgrade his home system, to do something. She hadn’t nagged when she was there. They had thought it funny then, that one time when her recorded had voice echoed her real voice. He had bought the socks. He was still wearing them.

It was aggravating the way those socks lasted. When nothing else had. Every time he put those socks into the wash or took them out of the dryer he silently willed them to be shredded or one lost so that he could throw them out. He stared at them so hard when he put them on that he wondered that his gaze hadn’t burned holes in the toes. “You need new socks,” she had said prettily. “A new you begins with your feet.” Echo. Echo. Echo. It stuck in his head. A new life had certainly begun with her feet: she’d walked right out of his life and into another life.

“Fresh juicy oranges,” she said succulently at the supermarket. The produce section was one of her specialties. He had taken to ducking out of produce so quickly that he feared he would come down with some dreadful archaic disease like scurvy, from the lack of vitamins. A smooth robust male voice prompted him to take vitamins. He took them. They didn’t help. Vitamins are no help at all for heartbreak and haunting. Not that he wished her dead. No, he wished her silent. She was a noisy ghost in his life.

He started wearing ear plugs. When that proved less effective than he hoped, he opted for music. Loud. With any luck he’d become deaf, he figured. Conversation became impossible. His friends began to give up on him. He stopped talking to strangers. The genial man who chatted briefly and amiably with everyone was now a lone shopper, a lone pedestrian, alone.

Until that day when he found a woman slumped against a shelf of vitamins crying uncontrollably. He unplugged his earbuds and helped her gently out of the store as she, hiccuping and gasping through her tears, recounted to him his own story. They would, he told her, find a store where his ex cajoled people into buying vitamins. And maybe in return she could do a little produce shopping for him. He was getting awfully tired of loud music and pre-packaged food. So off they went, picking up everything they had missed, chatting so happily that they never again heard their exes voices.

Preorder If Wishes Were Spaceships!

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Jan• 27•16

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March 29, 2016…If Wishes Were Spaceships by Ainy Rainwater

My upcoming novel, If Wishes Were Spaceships — which will be released March 29th — is now available for pre-order for $4.99, from most ebookstores! A few bookstores are lagging behind listing it, but it will be available from all the stores listed below — and you can preorder it from most of them right now! What are you waiting for? 🙂

Amazon Kindle (US), Amazon Kindle (UK), Amazon Kindle (DE), Amazon Kindle (FR), Amazon Kindle (IT), Amazon Kindle (ES) Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, Smashwords

If Wishes Were Spaceships Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

If Wishes Were Spaceships
Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

When Jazlyn is forced to make an emergency landing on a quarantine planet, the worst she expects to find are a bunch of irate scientists complaining because she messed up the pristine conditions of some experiment. But the buildings look like works of art and the inhabitants are a wealthy scion of a galactic dynasty and an anxious techie. While the compound has all the comforts of home, it has none of the basic hospitality she expects. Cut off from all communication, surrounded by a thicket of dangerous carnivorous plants, Jazlyn must find a way to repair her ship — if possible — or hope that her friends find her distress beacon before Sterneworth, the planet’s resident tyrant, does something drastic. Can she trust Blaine, the techie who is completely under Sterneworth’s thumb, and who desperately wants off the planet by any means? Jazlyn has never been one to knuckle under or buckle under pressure. Nor is finesse is one of her skills. She will tackle the problems — the ship repair, the bizarre plants, and the duplicitous inhabitants of the planet — head on. Has the sassy spacer who’s used to getting her way met her match in the power and might of the Sterneworth dynasty? Everyone on the planet has a secret agenda. She has a ship to repair…

New Year, New Resources for Writers (and Everyone)

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Dec• 28•15

I’ve recently discovered and started to use a couple of nice online resources, which I’m pleased with. They’ll come in handy in the New Year, both for writing and for handling pesky New Year’s Resolutions. Both have organizational tools, and a creative flair to them which I like — and I think others might like them too. (If you follow my microblog you may have already seen some of this.)

LitLift is an online writing resource which has tools to help with brainstorming your novel, structuring it, organizing your notes and writing it. You can develop — and write — the whole thing right there online. You can add chapters, scenes, characters, settings…it will help you track where something is, if there’s some detail that you need to track through the book. I wish now I’d known about it before I started brainstorming my most recent manuscript. The Writing Guide and Plotline features are pretty good. The character development has a list of traits and background that you can fill in. Or…you can use their random character generator which is a nifty tool for sparking the imagination: you can select it to generate a number of boy/girl names, and also a general description of what type of person they are, likes and dislikes, traits. The descriptions are so evocative that stories sort of leap out from them. The location generator can either give you totally fictional names or actual place names. Fun! The title generator is a bit generic, but there’s also a random word generator which could be useful in writing prompt type challenges.

All in all, it looks like an excellent way to organize a novel from the first stages on through rewrites. You can create scenes or characters which aren’t attached to any project, but can be later attached to work in progress.  You can add/remove scenes, characters, settings, and items to any project. You can also export your work as txt, rtf, or epub. I’m using it to play around with some ideas just to see how it works. All material you create on Litlift is private unless you add something to the Library which will make your story/chapters/book available to others on Litlift for review and comments, or you can make it completely public (though only Litlift members can comment). If you wanted to play around with serialization, this might be a good way to do it without muddling up your blog with an assortment of posts and chapters. This would be a really excellent resource for people prepping for NaNoWriMo. Next time I do NaNo, this is what I’m using for NaNo prep!

I just recently also discovered Habitica. I’d seen mention of it somewhere, but since I’m not a gamer I didn’t pay any attention. But this is in many ways not quite a game because it’s a productivity tool that makes developing good habits (and getting rid of bad ones) fun, as well as motivating you in silly ways to work your way down your ever-growing To Do list. I’d noticed on some writing sites that getting badges for goals or streaks were insanely gratifying, and Habitica has all kinds of little cheesy icons that pop up as well as graphs and color-changing lists (Habits, Dailies, To Do). Their FAQ and Overview For New Users is great for getting started and the Habitica Wiki has been a excellent resource for getting me oriented — without sucking away huge amounts of time.

Even though I’m on a writing break in December, I’ve set up a small list of things to do Daily, Habits to do often, and moved my To Do list into it. I’ve gotten a stunning amount done, without feeling like I’m doing anything much and I’m just waaaaay too pleased about my tasks. LOL (BTW, they have just released a new app which is very nice, with more advanced features to be added soon.) I know right before Christmas is not a good time to start new things like this, but there’s a option to set certain Dailies to begin at a point in the future. My writing-related Dailies go into effect in January. You can also set certain “Dailies” to be done, not daily but on certain days of the week. Which is helpful for things you want to do weekly. You can even set your dailies to not be in effect on weekends. Or you can “rest in the tavern” which means that your “character” in the “game” is inactive, neither gaining nor losing points until you “check out of the inn”.

Click on over to Habitica, and look over the info links above. Then set up a couple of small things as Habits, add something simple like “load/unload/run dishwasher” for a Daily, or “stretch”, or if you’re a writer, set a small word count goal, just to start, just to get the feel of how Habitica works. Add more stuff after you get oriented, maybe after Christmas is over. There are Challenges set up by Habitica members which you can join (I joined the Read A Christmas Carol challenge, and Writer’s Health challenge) which will get you points. Some are open ended, some have a set end time. There are also Quests and Parties, which you can join (I haven’t yet). You’ll get random drops of eggs, hatching potions, and food for your pets/mounts. I’m acquiring rewards and leveling up at a good rate, so I’m working on becoming a Beastmaster (or something like that). Even if you’re not into gaming at all (like me) the little popups telling me I’m advancing with each click, the line graphs, and the tiny icon rewards are very gratifying and motivating. There are Guilds you can join so you can find like-minded people who share some of your same goals and interests, so there’s some very nice peer support too. So far, everyone has been very nice and helpful. Since this is a “game” that aims toward self-improvement, helping people better their lives and reach their personal goals, it isn’t too surprising that it’s such a supportive environment. And it absolutely is the most fun you’ll ever have implementing New Year’s Resolutions! 🙂

Post-NaNoWriMo Summary 2015

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Nov• 23•15

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-SquareThis was my fourth year to do NaNoWriMo, and though every year is different, this year was more different than others. I completed the rough draft in 20 days (though fast, not unusual for me), but writing it was unusually difficult. I’m not sure I can accurately evaluate how good the draft is right now and how much rewriting it will need. In Bracing For Impact I outlined the stresses I would be facing this month. Instead I was impacted by something unanticipated. The biopsy results for the elderly family member were negative, but by then she had been hospitalized via the emergency room for an unrelated illness. She was admitted on Nov 1 and didn’t get back home until last Tuesday. It was a good thing that I try to write as early in the morning as possible because that evening and into the wee hours of the morning I was sitting in the emergency room. (And wrote my Day 2 scene the next morning while severely sleep-deprived. I was mildly surprised to discover upon rereading it that it was coherent, albeit strangely out of order, as if I didn’t realize I was only on day 2 of the book.) I hadn’t firmly committed to NaNo at that point, but I had planned to start anyway and make a decision after we got the biopsy results. I dithered for a few more days than decided to Do It Anyway.

I probably shouldn’t have done NaNo this year. The upside is that I’ve got a rough draft of a sequel to the book that’s coming out in March, If Wishes Were Spaceships, but writing it was difficult, I didn’t enjoy it, and I’m not sure how good it is. I had difficulty concentrating and difficulty with focus, and I know I made some continuity errors, and veered off-track a little bit at times despite the sketchy plot point outline that should’ve kept me on track. I felt tired all the time…and despite having had a weekend to recover I still feel tired. The friend who was in hospice passed away yesterday morning. This is the second friend I’ve lost to cancer in the past few months. I’ve got holes in my life and an ache in my heart.

There was one good thing this month. One very small good thing. I knitted my first socks while doing NaNo (I’ve knitted lots of sweaters but hadn’t done socks). This was a very relaxing side activity and I think it helped substantially with keeping stress levels manageable, and allowing me time to “zone out” and think about the book. Writers need “down time” not just for the actual writing, but for thinking about story. This is especially true when drafting something at the rapid rate and word count of NaNoWriMo. I posted pics of my progress on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so some of you who follow me elsewhere probably already know that I did the socks. What you don’t know is that I knitted the swatch for the socks while sitting in the emergency room, standing in the hallway, listening to screams of pain and catching snippets of conversations between emergency room staff about various patients, which were mostly about very terrible things usually involving a lot of blood, or a procedure that did not go well. Knit, purl, knit 3, purl, knit, knit, knit… I started the actual sock on the 4th and finished it in 12 days. I did the second sock in 5 days, finishing it at nearly midnight Friday, the day I finished NaNoWriMo. In between Sock 1 and Sock 2, I joined Ravelry, so if you’re a knitter, you can beFriend me there!

I’m going to take some time off from writing (and rewriting). I’ll start back to work on the manuscript (and other works in progress) in January. I’ll probably be online sporadically for the rest of the year, then online a lot doing promotion for the book early next year. I appreciate all your support. I really do!

Do It Anyway

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Nov• 04•15
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Do It Anyway

This is a rare cross-post from my Mighty Microblog. If you want to follow my progress this month, or get words of encouragement for your own writing project, you can follow me there.

So, there’s a lot of bad stuff going on. And I posted here about why I might not be able to NaNoWriMo because of stuff. Some things are better and some things are worse, but screw it, I’m just gonna do it anyway.

I started the draft on November 1, with my usual word count goals. It’s been hard to get my head in the book with all the other stuff going on (more unexpected stuff has hit the fan), and I can’t say I’m writing well, but hey, NaNo is all about doing a rough draft.

I’m going to get it done. I’ve exceeded my 2K/day word count goals every day. I realized yesterday that I was committed to writing this book. I set the novel up on the NaNo site today and entered my word count after I finished writing this morning.

Day 4 Total:  8745

Last night, hours after I’d finished writing, I had an epiphany; I had totally misunderstood one of the character’s function in the plot. It won’t change what the character says and does, but it will change the way I write it.  And that’s also when I realized that I was totally doing NaNoWriMo. I was 6,660 words into the draft, lightbulbs were going on in my head, and it’s not a good time to be drafting a new novel, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

Bracing For Impact

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Oct• 27•15

I’ve made mention a number of places online that I don’t know if I can do NaNoWriMo this year, and will probably not make a final decision until after Nov 1st. This has been generally misunderstood. I’m a NaNo veteran. I’ve won it in 3 weeks every time. The word count is no problem. When I say “I don’t know if I can do it this year” I’m not expressing a lack of confidence, or doubt in my ability to write a 50K word draft in 30 days. I have absolutely no doubt about that whatsoever…under normal circumstances. This November, however, is shaping up to be –potentially —an unusually difficult time.

I don’t usually write about personal or family things here, but *stuff* does impact the time, as well as physical and mental energy, that go into writing books. Readers who embrace a book as a good escape when life is chaotic and stressful don’t usually stop and think that the kinds of things that are happening in their lives (or the lives of their friends) are the same sort of things that impact an author’s life, also. But upheaval and stress don’t just impact the author’s life in the usual way such things do; it also impacts their ability to write books. Writing takes a lot of energy, time, and focus. You’ve probably noticed that all three of those things tend to go away when some very bad shit hits the fan.

An elderly family member is about to undergo a biopsy to determine if her cancer has come back. This is in addition to another, completely separate, ongoing medical problem which may require her to have surgery. We won’t have her biopsy results until the first week of November. Also, an old friend of mine is in hospice and doesn’t have much time left. This is the second friend I’ve known most of my life who has gone into hospice within the past few months. The other one is already gone. It’s breaking my heart. I have hardly processed grief from the first loss.

For those reasons I haven’t decided whether to do NaNoWriMo this year. Sometimes I feel like I can do it, even with all the stresses, pressures, and uncertainty, but sometimes I feel like there’s no way I’ll be able to handle everything that could potentially hit in November and still do a 50K word draft. I honestly don’t know if I can draft a novel this November. The amount of stress right now is manageable. But, as you see from the preceding paragraph, it could potentially go through the roof in the month of November.

I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo prep and planning the novel because I’m not yet stressed out of my mind. And brainstorming the book, doing research, and working on organizing my ideas, is a great distraction (so far). I’m postponing making a definite decision and if I do NaNoWriMo I will likely wait until sometime in November to set up the novel on the NaNoWriMo site and update word count. I’m planning to begin writing the novel on November 1st, but I’m not sure how much I can get done before things go “boom”.

The smart thing to do would probably be to sit out NaNo this year and continue rewrites and work on the other series. This shouldn’t be a hard decision to make. But this book is one that I feel like I need to write soon, while the idea is still fresh in my mind, and the impetus for the book is there. If I don’t write this book this fall, I probably won’t write it at all since I’ve got other books I’m working on.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the decades that I’ve been writing books it’s that there’s never a good time to write a book. If you wait for that perfect time in your life to sit down and write a novel, it’ll never happen. I wrote my first book left-handed — in longhand! — because my right hand was too badly injured to write. I had to have surgery on it and then go through rehab. I started that book in pain, with a left-handed scrawl. I remember that because it was the first book, but I’ve lost track of all the “not a good time to write a book” things that have happened over the years while I was writing books. So, I’m just going to keep going until I can’t keep going.

I appreciate the support of my fans and friends. You all are the best! And remember, whether or not I draft a new book in November, I’ve still got a new book coming out in March! 🙂 Follow my Mighty Microblog for short eclectic posts and updates during NaNo, if I do it this year.

Cover Art: If Wishes Were Spaceships!

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Oct• 08•15

Squeeeee! Cover art for my upcoming book If Wishes Were Spaceships! Release date will be set soon. We’re looking at an early spring release. I’m hoping to line up a blog tour for the release, so if you think this little sci-fi adventure novel would be a good fit for your blog, let me know! Donna Murillo did an excellent job with the design based upon my input; she was both thoughtful and intuitive. She really captured Jazlyn’s face!

If Wishes Were Spaceships Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

If Wishes Were Spaceships
Cover design by Donna Harriman Murillo

How I Spent My Summer

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Sep• 14•15

It was a busy summer and I’m moving into an unusually busy fall. So grab hold of something while I run you through the wild ride of everything I’ve been working on — and some interesting personal side projects!

The science fiction novel went through beta readers, revisions, proofreading and a title change! The current title (and I think this will be the final title since we’re getting close to publication) is If Wishes Were Spaceships. Last week I worked on concept cover art, which will soon go to a cover artist. I don’t have a publication date yet, but will post here as soon as it’s nailed down. Stay tuned!

I’m also still working on revisions for Hotel Reverie, the first novel in the chick lit-fantasy series I’m working on. I’d like to have this revision done before the end of the year, but I’m not yet sure if that’s feasible. I’m almost to the halfway point of the rewrite. I would’ve been done if I hadn’t gotten sidetracked by revisions to the science fiction novel. Going back and forth between projects means that forward progress is sometimes slower than you’d expect, but on the other hand, because I devote a good chunk of time (weeks or months) to each project, I can get a bit of distance from the project that’s been set aside, then come back to it with fresh eyes. This may not make sense to readers who are waiting for a book, but my fellow authors reading this will know exactly what I mean! The first four chapters of Hotel Reverie also went out to a handful of readers this summer. The comments I got back were not only helpful, but made me very happy. I’m itching to get back to work on this book!

Besides the miscelleanous blog posts in the usual places (The Mighty Microblog, The Usual Suspects group food blog), I joined Instagram (as if I need another social network to neglect while I’m writing). 😉 Follow me there! 🙂

Yellow rain lily. #dayhike #laborday #wildflowers

A post shared by Ainy Rainwater (@ainyrainwater) on

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Happy foster dog! Now happy in his new home!

On a more personal note, I fostered a dog for a local rescue group for three months. He was just skin and bones when I got him, had some serious health issues that needed addressing, and was about half-wild. Once I got past the trust issue, training was easy. He’s now healthy and happy in his forever home. 🙂

I kind of love this color-shifted photo I did. It captures the energy of a healthy happy dog, and the bright future! (Please respect my copyright and don’t copy or this image without my permission. Link to this post, please. As an author I need the extra exposure of every link back here.)

We just passed the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I hadn’t intended to post about it, but changed my mind last week and wrote a short piece, The Post Katrina Epoch, on my Gymshoes Music blog. As you may know (assuming you’ve been following me for a while now) I do music, too, and that particular hurricane season hit me hard emotionally and resulted in a little EP of music, A Tropical Depression, a bit different from my usual Gymshoes music. I got my friend Buzz to sing on some of the tracks and proceeds go to the Red Cross, who are first responders on the scene of so many tragedies. Besides the recent blog post, you can read more about my thoughts on Katrina in the liner notes to the album.

Okay, so you’re all caught up now, right? Good for you! Now if I can just get all caught up on projects we’ll all be in good shape. I still need to do acknowledgements and a short afterword on If Wishes Were Spaceships, two to three short paragraphs, total. I haven’t decided whether I’ll post the rough concept cover art here, or just wait until I get the actual cover art. So the next thing you’ll see here may be cover art, or cover art and publication date.

I’m considering whether or not to do NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve got an idea for a short novel, a sequel to If Wishes Were Spaceships, but haven’t fully brainstormed it to see if it will fly. Doing it would knock back completion of Hotel Reverie, but on the other hand if I don’t knock out a rough draft of a sequel this year I could see it being postponed indefinitely as other things are finished and get into the publication pipeline. So you may get a blog post this fall about a sequel to If Wishes Were Spaceships. 

If I’m not posting here, always assume that I’m working on various novels, getting them drafted, rewritten, finished, and published. Because that’s what I’m doing. 🙂

A Rainy Afternoon Reading

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - May• 19•15
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This is the best way to spend a rainy afternoon, or rather THIS rainy afternoon. Other afternoons, read the books!

It was a dark and stormy night…no, wait, make that afternoon. As some of you may know, the entire Greater Houston area has gotten a surfeit of rain this spring, and the storm gods did not take a day off Sunday when Mary Robinette Kowal and Marie Brennan were in town to do a reading at Murder By The Book. Somewhat miraculously, it slackened up in time for their arrival, in costume, so we did not find out Victorian and Regency ladies looked like sopping wet.

This is the second time (that I know of) that they have done a book tour together for their respective series. (See last year’s post.) Some things were the same, so I’m skipping the dragon skulls this time.) This spring Mary Robinette Kowal finished up the five book Glamourist Histories series. She calls it “Jane Austen with magic”, but that really sells it waaaaay short. It’s not just romance and family troubles, though Jane and Vincent are at the center of the books, and Vincent’s family is particularly troublesome. The books have a lot of things that Austen didn’t write about, such as audiences with “Prinny”, the Napoleonic War, piracy, a grand tour of Europe, and the final book is set on property belonging to Vincent’s family in the West Indies, which introduces several sets of problems for the protagonists, including slavery. The series is, simply, good historical fiction. She researched things well, only fudged a few things when she had to (she’s more inclined to change her book to fit history, than to ignore history when it’s inconvenient to the book). You’d know this if you’ve read her blog over the years, or attended the book tour readings. (Kowal’s website.) There was a generous Q & A session after the reading. (Shhhhhhh…..we were privileged to be let in on a secret and sworn not to tell. For now, just cross your fingers and wish for what I’m wishing for.)

With the Glamourist Histories wrapped up, she has already turned in the manuscript for her next book, Ghost Talkers, which is set during WWI. The ghosts of recently killed soldiers can report in on the situation on the battlefield, providing a unique take on real time intell on the progress of the battle. It’s an interesting concept and the way she read it was very moving at times. (She also did some very good accents.) As she read a riveting passage from this the storm provided sound effects: “the sound of the gun going off was deafening” was instantly followed by the crack of thunder!

She followed the reading with a shadow puppet show which was popular in the 1700s. (She’s also a professional puppeteer and was recently called in to Sesame Street to be Oscar’s right hand, and yes, when she arrived, she did, after some hemming and hawing, have to ask “can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street!”) The shadow puppet show was an abbreviated version, and charming fun. The storm also provided sound effects for that as well!

After the shadow puppet show Marie Brennan read from the next volume in her Memoirs of Lady Trent series. (Her website.) Her books follow the adventures of Dame Isabella from her youthful interest in dragons in a time period which is basically the Victorian era with dragons. (I found it interested that the sounds of the storm quieted when she read, as if the rain gods were overawed by dragons!) She, too, did a lot of research on her time period, but she departs further from it because she realized that if she just went all-out fantasy and set the escapades (and really, at times, Isabella’s actions can best be characterized as “escapades”) in imaginary countries she had more leeway. There are echoes of the real world Victorian era but she has a lot of fun with her variations on it.  In her world, there are dragons of all sorts and species, but being a Lady naturalist is not looked on as quite respectable. Wearing trousers is frowned upon, gallavanting around the world, with men, and sleeping in tents is frowned upon. But Isabella was a headstrong girl and as a full-grown woman, she is even better at digging in her heels and getting what she wants. What she wants is to know everything there is to know about dragons. What she wants is preserve fragile dragon bones and stop the slaughter of dragons for their bones. What she’s doing in the next book — which we got a taste of at the reading — is working with the military on a dragon breeding program. The idea is that wild dragons wouldn’t have to be slaughtered if they could just breed their own dragons, kill them, and preserve their bones. This does not sit well with Isabella. Nor does the contract in general and the secrecy behind it. As a scientist she wants to publish her findings. She gets a grudging agreement that she can with anything not related to breeding and it has to be vetted by the military first. On this note the reading ended. Having read all the books up to this point and knowing Lady Trent’s strong views and dispositions, I think it’s safe to say that this book, like the others, will have lots of discoveries about the secrets of dragon life, but also perhaps, more than the requisite amount of fireworks. 😉 There was a hint that she might meet up with the young man she became fond of in the previous book; she will be in his country and no doubt she will keeping an ear to the ground in case she can get word of the archaeologist. Three years have passed since the events in the most recent book, The Voyage of the Basilisk. This series, like the Glamourist Histories, is also a five book series. Three of the books have come out. The fourth comes out next year. In the Q & A Marie Brennan said that the final book will have Lady Trent’s most famous discovery, what she became known for, the apex of her career as a naturalist. So…with a full life still ahead of her and being an energetic sort, it’s possible that we may still get a short story or two about Lady Trent, either in her later years, or things that happen between the books.

After her reading, Marie Brennan passed around some “artifacts”, including dragon teeth, skulls, claws, etc, (which you can see in the post I wrote last year). This year she included a dragon egg and a firestone (which she said she was surprised to find at a reasonable price at Michaels. Who knew?) 🙂

Afterward there was a very long Q & A session in which they answered questions about their series, research, puppetry (Mary is in the process of rebuilding a polar bear while on the book tour), and costumes. It was a delightful afternoon, well-spent for those who braved the rain and flood warnings to come out to the bookstore. Really, no better way to spend an afternoon — or at least that afternoon…any other afternoon would be best spent reading their books! The first book in Mary Robinette Kowal’s series is Shades of Milk and Honey. It’s a five books series and the fifth book just came out, so if you’re someone who likes to wait and read a complete series, dig in! 🙂 The first book in Marie Brennan’s series is The Natural History of Dragons. It’s also a five book series; the most recent book is the third book. The penultimate book in the series will come out next year.

For even more pics than the ones below and more about the authors and series, see the post I wrote about the reading last year.