Next on the Agenda

Just wanted to drop a note to let you know I’m not resting on my laurels (they’re actually kind of scratchy) now that I’ve finally got Talyn’s story finished and up for preorder.

I’m currently working on the story of Rahmsin Singh and Chandra Ramasamy, the third in the Ganymede Survivors Romances. I’m calling it Kindness of Strangers as a working title.

With a little luck, it will be ready for prime time in September, but every time I’ve given myself a deadline, something happened to completely throw it out the window–so don’t quote me on that.

Back to work….

Coming back from a Major Episode of Life

Life happens. And sometimes a lot of it happens at once.

But first, the important things. I have covers to show you! Blade’s Edge and its sequel The Unique Solution, by the incredibly talented Kanaxa:

 

Okay, back to my major episode of Life. The winter of 2016-2017 was the most severe my town has seen in a long time — in a place where six inches of snow that melts in three days is a lot, we had three feet of snow on the ground for a couple of months.

We lost commercial buildings to roof collapse, including the only grocery store in Oregon-Idaho border town Weiser, Idaho (where my father grew up).

In my own neighborhood, carports and garden sheds succumbed to the snow load, and one of the carports was ours. It collapsed on top of my car, our freezer, the air conditioner, and other stuff we had stored there. Plus the spot where my husband leaves out food for the neighborhood cats. It was an amazing mess.

We got the worst of it cleaned up, repaired and replaced by the end of April, but we’re just now getting the AC motor replaced, and I still have to get the paint on my hood fixed.

We also had the backyard re-landscaped by professionals, because we couldn’t get back there for several months and things went to heck. Also because Spooky Man had wanted to redo it for a decade, and we’re in no shape for that kind of work.

During this time I was also actively looking for a day job, and I found one in a call center where I stayed for four months before I landed a “perfect job” managing localization for commercial printer software.

But enough about Life. I have something important to tell you: I finished the sequel to Blade’s Edge.

Let’s pause and allow that to sink in for a moment, because there have been years when I wasn’t sure I would ever get to The End. I finished it. Happy sigh.

It’s called The Unique Solution, and it’s the redemption of the evil twin, Talyn Penthes. She wasn’t an easy villain to redeem, and this book took nine years from start to finish. Nine. Years. That character fought me every step of the way, but I finally got her story out of my brain.

The second edition (or the Wylde Hare Press edition) of Blade’s Edge will be for sale in ebook as soon as I can get it uploaded to all the retailers. The Unique Solution will be available for pre-order by the end of the week.

Look for paperback versions in a month or so.

Audiobooks are on a longer time horizon. Maybe next year, because there’s a significant learning curve.

 

 

Change in the Air

The evil day job and I have parted company (and it wasn’t evil at all, I quite liked that job) and I’m looking for work in western Oregon and Washington. The reasons are varied and, well, personal. My point is that there is likely an interstate move in my future, after fourteen years in the same house.

So I’m working on that, and I’m editing The Unique Solution (the long-awaited sequel to Blade’s Edge; that heroine has been a pill–a pill, I say) and working on the third novella in the Strike Force series, “Kindness of Strangers.”

Kindness will set up the second trilogy of Strike Force stories, what happens with the ‘ghosts’ — those strikers whose bodies didn’t survive the friendly fire incident: Captain Dressler, Whisper, and Grimtoo and LC. Here’s a hint: they find that special someone.

It also starts the process of connecting the Strike Force Stories to the Human Diaspora universe, which actually was a bit of a surprise. Apparently my subconscious likes connecting storylines. Speaking of the Human Diaspora series, Tetsuo and Akiko’s story is next on my to-do list.

In non-writing, non-day job news, all the furbabies are happy and healthy, and Spooky Man has a new project cat, a completely gray intact male shorthair known as Shadow. As soon as he’s domesticated enough, we’ll get him fixed. He’s still too shy for me to get a decent photo, so stay tuned.

 

The Ocasek Opportunity is Published

Third in the series that started with The Valmont Contingency, The Ocasek Opportunity is the story of Tasha Ocasek’s little brother, Stephan. How he picked up the pieces after his father’s murder and what he did to keep beans on the table and a roof over his–and his younger sister’s–heads.

It was all going according to his plan, until….

Here’s the back cover copy:

Where do you hide in space?

On the courier ship ferrying The Hero of Ararat, the Dragonkiller and their daughter, Ekaterina ‘Kat’ Avondale, from the Saurian homeworld back to human space, newly promoted third-shift commander Stephan Ocasek has found a sneaky ion trail. They are being followed. No, not followed, hunted.

Not by Saurians, since they’re flying an honor escort. Not by humans, because the engine signature is all wrong. When they detect a comm signal that Kat recognizes from Saurian history, they know the Ancient Horror—the species that nearly ended Saurian history a couple of millennia ago—has returned, and it knows where they’re going.

The Saurians sent a suicide ship into a black hole to stop it last time. This time, all they have is Stephan’s reflexes together with Ekaterina’s calculations to save two of the three known sentient species in the galaxy. And even if their plan works, they might not survive long enough for him to finish teaching her how to be human.

And here’s the cover:

ocasekcover-kobo_600x900

Wanna read it?  Here are the Buy links — if you don’t see the format you want, email me at valmroberts@gmail.com or leave a comment.

At Amazon (Kindle)
At Barnes & Noble (Nook)
At Kobo
At iBooks

 

Update — No, I have not entirely abandoned my website

After recovering from the breast cancer reconstruction that refused to cooperate (no, I will not go into details as I don’t want to freak out anyone; let’s just say I burned off some bad karma), I dove into The Ocasek Opportunity, the story of Tasha’s little brother and how he saved two civilizations from the boogeyman aliens.

Currently, it’s resting before I start editing the first draft into a book.

Now I’m fighting with Kindness of Strangers, the Ganymede Survivors story of Colonel Singh and the elusive Chandra Ramasamy.

And I’ve got one more editing pass on The Unique Solution–the redemption of the evil twin from Blade’s Edge–before I can get it published.

I’ve written more in the last year than in the previous several, just none of it on my website/blog. So now you know.

Thanks,
Val

The Importance of Syntax

Way back in the nineteen-mumbles, I took a programming class. I was in the very last class at my university that started Fortran programming on punch cards. Yes, punch cards. You can buy them on Etsy as antiques. The professor thought we should know how bad his generation had it so we would appreciate dumb terminals (insert eye-roll here).

At any rate, the mini-mainframe system was so amazingly primitive that your program output might be a single sheet of paper (with tractor-feed margins still attached, of course) that bore the message “Syntax Error”. Which meant you had screwed up in punching one or more of your cards and the resulting code would not compile correctly, let alone run and give you the results you had to turn in for a grade.

It’s an excellent catch-all message that can be used to describe so many grammatical errors in English:
“Try and do it” = syntax error
“Graduated college” = syntax error
“Happened on accident” = syntax error
“Your so right” = syntax error
“I could care less” = syntax error

Luckily, English is extremely redundant and the human brain is highly resilient (unlike computers). We can interpret statements full of syntax errors, although a personal opinion of the speaker/writer’s intelligence might be revised down in the process. Unless English is not his or her first language, of course; syntax can be tricky to port between different grammatical systems.

For example, French uses postpositions, positional-descriptive words that are placed after a noun phrase, as well as prepositions. When French is transliterated to English, you sometimes get sentences that sound like Yoda came up with them — full of syntax errors…in English.

Genre fiction publishers are reluctant to include semicolons in books, because they believe (or so my editors have said) readers can’t understand them. Not fair, really, to either readers or the semicolon, but there it is. The result, if the writer is using the punctuation correctly, is unnecessarily choppy prose or (shudder) comma splices without appropriate conjunctions. In other words, syntax errors.

Many syntax errors are so common they’ve become idiom (a nice way of saying everybody does it so grammarians have given up), which is why idiom is almost untranslatable — it didn’t actually make sense in the first place, so moving it into a different language is tricky at best.

Study your syntax, be aware when you’re using idiom. Control it; use it for effect and not just because it’s the first thing that comes to mind. Just because everyone is doing it does not make it right, or good, or readable twenty years from now when idiom and syntax have moved on.

If you do that, you’re less likely to include the word “hassle” (origin in the late 19th century, rarely used before 1950) six times in a Regency romance novel.

Back to the word mine….

Val

So, Breast Cancer Came Back

Ductile carcinoma in situ calcifications turned up on a mammogram in February, looking like someone got dust on the negative. Only it was a digital picture. Sigh.

One closeup mammogram, one needle biopsy and three doctor appointments later, the left tata became medical waste. It had thought about killing me twice, so it had to go. And on April 8, it went.

Luckily, it was just starting to think about it (ductile carcinoma is sometimes called Stage 0 cancer, because the body is walling it off with calcium so it hasn’t started to spread yet), which means no chemo. Since chemo is nasty no matter how you look at it, this is A Good Thing.

Right now I’m an Amazon who isn’t good with a bow, and my pendant watch keeps hanging funny, so I’m starting reconstruction on August 18. They’re going to sneak a little muscle from my left shoulder blade area, along with some skin, and put in a tissue expander, which is like an adjustable breast implant. The muscle is to help hold it in place.

The tissue expander starts out kind of flat and they add fluid once a week until you get the size you want — in my case, to match the other side. Then they take it out and put in the permanent implant. And I go buy a t-shirt that says, “One of them’s fake, because the real one was thinking about killing me.”

It’s nice, living in the future. Cancer is annoying and expensive, but it’s nowhere near a death sentence anymore. Also, after the initial wave of terror passes, it’s boring. As a result, this is probably the last you’ll hear about it from me, unless I’m complaining about surgical drains.

So do your exams and get your mammos done. It’s a lot cheaper and less awful if you catch things early. 🙂

Val

Quick update – still alive here, just busy writing

Just wanted to put up a quick note to mention that I’m still alive (although temporarily short a breast that was thinking about killing me again—I’ll tell you about it later).

I’m deep into the middle of the story of Tasha Ocasek’s half-brother Stephan, who—ten years after The Valmont Contingency—is busy saving the universe from an Ancient Horror (yes, that’s their official name) while trying not to fall for the intriguing Ekaterina Avondale. And failing, at least in the not-falling-for Kat department.

Kat was raised in a society of dragons. In this particular instance, “dragon” is the slang term for an alien species formally known as Saurians because they come from a parallel line of evolution where the “dinosaurs” became sentient rather than extinct. So they are part velociraptoroid, part parrotoid, and, like T-Rex, the girls are bigger and stronger than the boys.

So Kat scares the bejeebers out of most men, but Stephan is a little different from most men. His big problem is that she’s the result of a union between to major cartel families, and after the way his father died, he’s extremely allergic to cartel families.

It’s going to take both of them to destroy the group-mind insectoidal colony ship that uses carbon-based life forms to incubate its eggs and larvae. I know, right? It creeps me right out, so Stephan and Kat had better get it together and destroy these things for good, and they only have another 30,000-40,000 words to do it.

For anyone waiting impatiently for Talyn’s story, I’ll be doing the final edit on it just as soon as I get this first draft finished. My goal is to get it published by the end of the summer.

Back to the story now,
Val

Getting Lucky is For Sale

This is just a quick note to let anyone interested know that Getting Lucky, the second novella in the Ganymede incident super-novel, is out in ebook, available at your favorite store:  Amazon, Nook (right now the author is listed as Valerie Robertson; I’ve fixed it once), Kobo, and iBooks.

Kanaxa’s rocking cover now has a story to go with it.

GettingLucky_Web

Back to editing Unique…which doesn’t yet have a cover.

Braggin’ on a Friend or Two

Just as an FYI, my writing buddy Sharon Joss ( @JossWrites ) won the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future competition.

Sharon writes delightful stories; her first novel, Destiny Blues, has magic, fate and a touch of horror (although I’ve also laughed out loud while reading her stuff). The L. Ron Hubbard win is a well-deserved honor and I’m so happy for her.

And she has a substantial backlist, so you won’t run out of her work much too soon. I’m just sayin’.

Another buddy, Ken McConnell ( @KenMcConnell ), is giving away — yes, for FREE — the first novel of his Star Saga series. You can get it from Kobo as an epub or from his website in a format of your choice.

A note about Ken: He makes the spaceship models, then photographs them, and then has his graphic artist (who happens to be his brother) make his book covers from the photos. That’s the kind of work he puts into his novels.

Thanks,
Val

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