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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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Things have been busy lately, and updating the blog tends to get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list, but here are a few quick notes:

I've added another Anthro Dreams podcast to my website's audio page. "Sweet Nothings" is a bit of slice-of-life furry flash fiction originally written in response to the writing prompt "the ice cream shop." (While you're there, you can also check out the holiday-themed fantasy piece "An Older World," which I completely forgot to announce here when it first came out.)

Publication of By Sword and Star is moving along steadily; we're waiting for print proofs now, and the first chapters of the novel will also appear in the Anthro Dreams podcast as a teaser. Unless there are any unforeseeable snags, it looks like it'll be available next month. (I'm planning on taking pre-orders for signed copies starting soon; watch this space.)

The Odyssey online class I took this past month has wrapped up. It felt like it went by pretty fast, so it's kind of hard to evaluate how much I learned from it when I'm still absorbing some of the info. (I was, of course, reminded that I still hate critique, much as I recognize it as a necessary evil... but somehow I expect that's always going to be the case.) *shrug* At any rate, I can get focused now on coming up with a workable writing routine again and getting some momentum back that I lost over the last few months.

Finally, have a fun video. Bert knows what it's like to live with a writer... XD


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Sometimes the best writing advice shows up in unexpected places. In this case: Don't write something just because you think everybody will like it, or you'll wind up with a big mess that even you don't understand.

"Arthur Writes a Story"

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I wound up with a bit of unexpected writing time this morning. I work from home, and it turned out there was a scheduled power outage for a couple hours, so instead of working then, I spent the time listening to my iPod and writing (then rewriting) a bit of flash as a prompt response. It was actually the first time I've written anything new in... well, we'll just say "several days" and leave it at that. (It was a possibly melodramatic fantasy piece, but the product wasn't the point.)

I was reminded today of something I felt about a month or so ago, after I saw Toy Story 3. I absolutely loved it--I continue to admire Pixar's superb characters and story skills--and on the drive home, I found myself thinking about how much those characters meant to me, and how wonderful it was that there was a point where characters, rather like the Velveteen Rabbit, could become Real. And I felt a kind of gratitude I hadn't felt before--that I can do this, in my own small way, myself. That I'm part of this tribe of storytellers, that I have this gift to be somewhere other, and to bring something back to share. My ambition, my perfectionism, my insecurities--all of these can feel like a curse sometimes, but the writing... the writing is always a gift.

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Renee Carter Hall

September 2012

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