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Well, By Sword and Star has now been available for just over a month. Unfortunately, sales so far have been slower than I hoped for (yeah, I know this is the sort of thing that authors probably aren't supposed to mention in their blogs), but I'll be putting an ad up on FurAffinity soon, which tend to get a good amount of traffic according to the stats, and the first four chapters of the book are now in audio form via the Anthro Dreams podcast, so my publisher and I are hoping that'll snag it a little more attention from its target audience. On the brighter side, I did also finally get my first reader review on Amazon (which was also cross-posted to Goodreads), and -- besides, of course, being pleased that it was positive -- I know that'll help potential readers decide if it's something worth picking up.

In non-book-related writing news, I did recently get a short story acceptance from the UK-based horror magazine Black Static, which will publish my story "Horseman" in their next issue if everything works out. (I believe this will have the distinction of being my first short story sale in foreign currency.) "Horseman" was originally accepted to an anthology that folded, so it's good to have a home for it again -- especially one that Ellen Datlow apparently once called "the most consistently excellent horror magazine published." This is particularly interesting considering that I've never really thought of myself as a horror writer, as much as I often enjoy reading the genre -- but in the end, I'll let the readers decide if the story qualifies as horror, dark fantasy, whatever. *shrug*

I'm also working on a rewrite of another short story for a pro-level market, one I'm really really really keeping my fingers crossed about, but we'll see.

At this point, my writing time seems to mostly be about trying to find some kind of balance -- between time spent promoting By Sword and Star and time spent writing, deciding which project (out of several) to work on next, and figuring out how much I should concentrate on promoting By Sword and Star to the furry fandom (which is, after all, the audience I was writing it for, from the very first draft), and how much I dare to strike out and try to promote it elsewhere, even at the risk of people not getting the whole talking-animal-people thing and/or ripping the thing to shreds. It's been stressful at times lately, but I'm hoping it'll all pay off in the end, in one way or another.

I did have one fun experience last Friday, that I'll close with... I was browsing in Barnes & Noble and found myself in front of the science fiction/fantasy anthology section -- and there on the shelf was a copy of Bewere the Night, with my story "Swear Not By the Moon" inside. So far, that's only the second time my work has been published in something that you could actually walk into a bookstore and pick up, so it was kind of nice to stand there in B&N and open the book up to page 302 and see the story that I remembered scribbling down in a notebook a couple years ago. :) If the brick-and-mortar bookstores survive, maybe one of these days I'll still get to have that experience with a book of my own instead of just a short story in an anthology.

In the meantime, though, I have a rewrite to get to...
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It's official! My anthropomorphic fantasy novel By Sword and Star is now available from Anthro Dreams. More info and ordering links:

http://www.anthrodreams.com/wordpress/2012/03/20/by-sword-and-star/



Many, many thanks to my editor Will Sanborn, book designer Jessie Tracer, and cover artist Sara Miles for all their hard work in getting this published.

The first four chapters can be read on my website.

And if you're on Goodreads, so is the book. :) I'm planning on doing two giveaways of free signed copies via Goodreads, so keep an eye out for those in the coming weeks.

I'll have a lot more introspective stuff to say about all of this later on over the next couple days, but for the moment I'm still running around the Internet making announcements. :) (Retweets, reposts, suggestions of possible review venues, and general signal boosting are all very much appreciated, since I have a rather limited marketing budget.)
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Or, "what I did over the rest of the summer." :)

July and August wound up being pretty busy for me. I moved from part-time work to full-time at the end of June, and that took a bit of adjustment to get my rhythm back as far as reshuffling my free time for writing.

In August, I got a chance to see a short story of mine adapted into graphic novel format. "The Wishing Tree" is the story of a raccoon who plays a trick on two hunting hounds--and winds up getting a surprise himself--and it was first published in the summer 2008 issue of New Fables. Earlier this year, artist Jennifer Fromm ("Nimrais") put out a call for possible stories to adapt for her final project for college (a short graphic novel), and I was honored when she chose "The Wishing Tree." It was only printed in a limited hardcover run, but you can see a few sample pages from it on her sketch blog. (You can also find her website here, though I can't see it because Norton keeps blocking it as a malicious website. Not sure what's up with that, but she also sells prints of her artwork here.)

Camp NaNoWriMo kept me busy during August, as I cranked out 50K words in 26 days on a novel called The Second Life of Bartholomew T. Lion, a story taking place in a world populated entirely by cast-off toys. The draft isn't quite complete yet, since I'm letting it sit for a while as I figure out what's supposed to happen. (The draft I wound up with was much rougher than I'm used to, but there was a nice freedom in that.) Bartholomew is going to take a lot of rewriting and refining before I even get to the beta-reading stage, but I'm excited about its potential. It feels like the sort of story that only I could write, and that makes it a lot of fun, even knowing all the work that's still to come.

September brings an announcement I've waited several months to make: my first novel, By Sword and Star, is slated for release late this year by Anthropomorphic Dreams Publishing. It's a medieval fantasy with a bit of a twist, in that all the characters are anthropomorphic animals--the main character, Tiran, is a bipedal unicorn. (Think Redwall, but written with more of an adult audience in mind.)

The blurb:

Prince Tiran of Silverglen may be heir to the throne of all Asteria, but he's always felt more at home among the villagers, no matter how many lectures he gets from his father. But when the elk-lord Roden slaughters the royal family and claims the throne, only Tiran is left to avenge their deaths and take his place as the rightful king. His journey will lead him from the shadowed heart of his forest home into the treetops with the squirrel-clan of the Drays, across the western plains, and among the mysterious and deadly wolves of the Northern Reach. With his allies' help, Tiran must become the king his people need him to be--or risk fulfilling an ancient prophecy that will spell the end of Asteria itself.


Anthro Dreams is noted for their furry fiction podcast and also for the Different Worlds, Different Skins anthologies. They've published/reprinted a number of my short stories in one format or another, and I'm pleased to have them putting out my first novel-length work. At this point, it's still too early for an exact release date, but we're hoping for November or December. Watch this space for updates.

And in other news, I have tickets to see Stephen King accept the Mason Award next Friday night, as part of this year's Fall for the Book festival. Better yet, I wound up getting one of the randomly awarded "golden tickets" for his book signing, so I'm pretty excited about that. :D

Next month, I'll start planning for NaNoWriMo in November. I'd like to get another book's first draft knocked out before I close out the year and go back to short stories/novellas for a while. I'm also planning to get another Smashwords release out in the next several months, but we'll see how it goes. There's always something to work on, at least. I never have to worry about running out of ideas. :)
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The table of contents for Bewere the Night has been posted. Some intimidating company there... >o_o<

http://squirrel-monkey.livejournal.com/167152.html

(There's also a link in that entry to pre-order the book at Amazon.)
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Spent part of the afternoon working on edits for an accepted short story. I often doubt that I really have the kind of attention span and discipline a novelist needs. I love having a few sentences and scenes to rework, and being able to rewrite a single awkward sentence ten times to get it right. The thought of doing this on a novel-sized scale, though... *shudder* Not my idea of fun, though I know it'll have to be done.

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Renee Carter Hall

September 2012

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