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Blade’s Edge

Local Boise author, and all around awesome person, Valerie Robertson’s debut novel is out today in ebook format. Blade’s Edge from Samhain Publishing is ready for purchasing. I’ve got my copy, do you have yours? Actually, I think this may be my first ebook, and romance novel. Go me.



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I’m teaching Practical Chemistry for Writers as the first Murder in the Grove online class. This is a reprise of the class I taught through RWA KOD’s COFFIN program last year (with a couple of easter eggs they didn’t get). It’s also probably the last time I’ll teach this class for the foreseeable future.

Practical Chemistry will cover:
* Poison 101 – the basics
* Poison 102 – overview of alkaloids
* Meanwhile Back at the Lab – how we handled things in my lab
* Herbal Medicine that Really Works
* Suburban Terrorism – what HSA won’t tell you
* Love Potion #1 – neurochemistry of attraction, infatuation & attachment
* Soapmaking
* Distillation (making good brandy out of bad wine)

You can find more information (or sign up for the class, hint hint) at http://www.murderinthegrove.com

Feel free to forward this information wherever you think it might be useful or welcome.

Val Robertson

Blade’s Edge – on sale Sept 8, 2009 at Samhain

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Well, it’s official, my editor has resigned her position to move to a new publisher, three weeks before my debut novel’s publication date: http://quartetpress.com/

Either I’ve been deserted like a bride at the altar, or I’m developing an industry network across multiple publishers in preparation for launching a powerhouse career in the next big genre.


Either way, what happens with the next manuscript I submit is going to be interesting and I plan to enjoy the ride.

Have fun, write a lot. I know I’m going to.

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Okay, well let’s start with a meta lesson I learned in college. It’s not to late to change your mind and switch directions. And if you do, there is a price to be paid.

My first major in college was Computer Programing, Math Option (that’s the hard one). I was pretty good at both (programming and math). Hell, I won a full ride Air Force scholarship for it. I was admitted to the Honors Program and choose an eclectic alternative general studies program including a minor in Creative Writing. Then came my sophomore year and my life decided it was going to go to shit. By the start of my Junior year I was out of the Air Force and had switched majors to Graphic Design.

It would take me another four years to finish my degree program. I would be working four jobs and taking our loans to repay my scholarship and afford to live at school (and afford school). I would get permit slips from my professors to work in the art building overnight (to do my coursework as my apartment wasn’t large enough and I couldn’t afford a table of my own). After a decisive event (which will be the subject of another post) I got the fire in my belly and while I didn’t graduate with honors (the fallout from the self destructive cycle of my sophomore and junior years) I ended up in the last two years being on the Dean’s List at the very least (and in a good way). I made President’s List three times.

I didn’t take art classes in High School. I had never done much more than cartoons and simple sketches before this. But with hard work and applying myself I excelled in design. It did help that I had interest in the field and a slight aptitude for information architecture. One of the first things I would learn with a new programing language was the output functions (this was in the time before GIU computing) and I would format and label my output.

I changed my life. I paid the price for that change and I worked hard for the change. But I did switch majors and I’ve had a somewhat successful career so far. So it is possible to do new things and be successful at it.

The other lesson of this was that I wasn’t very successful at first. Eventually with that hard work, acceptance of critique, progression of skills, and continuing to learn (heck, I’ve been a professional visual communications designer for nearly twenty years and I’m still learning new things), I became good at what I choose to do. I can do the same with writing fiction. So can you.

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Writerly Linkee-poo

Really, I had a fabulous weekend at Confluence. There was awesome to be had by the pickup-truck load. Good friends, good meets, good revelations (some of which I can’t talk about, sworn to secrecy in fact), and plenty of “keep your mouth shut while the adults talk about business” moments. All good stuff.

And driving back home I felt the energy tilting me toward my interior windmills. The wind blew at my back, the road rose up to meet me, and the sunshine smiled gently on my face. And then I got home and got hit with two major council things (Stop! I will not bitch, I will not bitch…).

So first up is Six tricks for writing when you don’t feel like it (mmm, all universal laughing at me goodness). Grokked from Matt Stagg.

Matt also points us to essay by Mark Chadbourn on finding the real-world roots of fantasy (set up by Jeff VanderMeer).

A NY Times article on William T. Vollman which makes writing sound almost fun again. He’s the “run around, gather all the info you can while making inroads into communities and then spill it all out for a literary romp” kind of writer. Although a 1500 page book doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, I wish I had his mad research skills. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

S. Andrew Swann talks a little about writing “Once more, but with feeling.”

Steven Brust is writing a hilarious series of buddhist knock offs on his blog. Seriously funny stuff there about “Billy-Bob Gautama. Like these gems, “Life is like a flea on a coon hound. Well, really, it ain’t much like that at all” and “Before Enlightenment: change the oil and rotate the tires. After Enlightenment: change the oil and rotate the tires.”

Speaking of “cut wood, carry water,” Rick is back to his old tricks with dragons.

And finally, because time is pressing, Jennifer Jackson is back to her letters from the query wars. Some good stuff for us wannabee published authors.

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In one of the latest posts on writing advice I had a link showing what to put in and what to leave out to make a successful picture. As I said, this was helpful with creation of scene in a story (prior experience coming in). Now, Jay Lake (man, I’ve been grooving on his Link Salad lately) had a link to this methodology for creating new ideas. This wasn’t a technique I learned in school, but I learned it from other professionals. On my own I think I’ve used is only a few times, but when you’re stuck this is a good way to brainstorm and concept into reality.

While this methodology works well to create visual impressions, it also can translate to full plots or even scene building. It’s a way to cut the dross from the cycle and get to what is needed. And since it’s word based, you have some good ones to include in the writing.

Also, a reader on my other blog suggests that I do some more posts about how my previous training in graphic design has translated over into writing. I think that’s a good idea. So (he said tempting the fates) I’ll try and get some of those thoughts posted soon. And they might work pretty well over here.

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Hello? Anyone? Okay, I’ll post something. I have a cover for my debut novel, Blade’s Edge. Look–

Blade's Edge Cover Art

Blade's Edge Cover Art

This almost makes up for the skin cancer surgery last week. Happy sigh.


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