Frequently Asked Questions

What’s Ahead

What am I working on now (Spring 2022)?

To Each This World I’ve turned in the revised manuscript for my new standalone SF to DAW Books and it’s presently going through copyedit and design into pages. Those will come back to me so I can go over any copyedit changes and to have my last shot at fixing small things. (I just received some additional cool satellite details to slip in–whoo!) I’m also preparing for interviews and events. (And giveaways!) Each will be released November 1st, 2022, in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook editions.

Night’s Edge Yes, I’m back to fantasy for the first time in years!! I’m busy researching the existing material, set to write three more novels of dragons, house toads, and Jenn Nalynn, to be published by DAW Books starting in 2023. First up is a treat for you this year. I’m writing a special new story called “A Pearl from the Dark” about what happened to Roche, the troubled young man Jenn wished to always tell the truth and now must, who left Marrowdell at the end of A Turn of Light. This story will be in my new collection, Imaginings.

Imaginings! To celebrate my first quarter century as a published fiction author (with DAW!), Roger and I have made a collection of some of my short fiction. I’ve added notes to each story and there’ll be the all-new Night’s Edge tale, “A Pearl from the Dark” for you to enjoy. Imaginings will come out August 24, 2022 in hardcover, trade paper, ebook, and audiobook.

Any chance of more…?

Esen! Absolutely. I’ve always more of her to write, though right now I can’t tell you when. If you’ve read Spectrum you’ll know I opened up a new alien biology problem for our dear little Blob to solve. One involving Evan Gooseberry, who has yet to learn Esen’s true nature…Stay tuned!

Tales from Plexis Yes, I fully intend to do a second anthology where I invite your stories and we have a great time. I’ve a new Sira and Morgan tale coming out in Noir from ZNB, called “The Jade Jar of Slotch” that gives a hint of my planned theme. While it won’t be soon, watch for announcements.

Mac and…I know you have favourites, such as Mac, and I love them too. At the moment, I’ve no plans to revisit them. That said…I may be tucking notes in a folder. As one does.

Anthologies I don’t have one in the works right now but I have my author list handy. If you’d like an invitation to my next, email me your name and tell me if you prefer science fiction or fantasy.


More General Questions

How can I get signed copies of your books?

If you subscribe to my newsletter–or follow me on social media–you’ll see when I do bookplates or bookmarks to sign and mail out to readers worldwide. I try to do that once a year if possible. As for books, the best way is to attend one of my in-person events (I hope to get back to those this fall). Check my Events page for one near you.
Whenever I’m at Bakka-Phoenix Books in Toronto Ontario I sign stock for them. They offer a wonderful mail order service, world-wide. You can ask for me to personalize a copy for you, next time I’m in the store. That applies to most of the independent stores I visit.

Where do you get your ideas?

They come from everywhere and everything. The “what if” questions in my science fiction start with science ideas I’m curious about. Sometimes I’ll put two together. For example, I’d read about a lab experiment gone awry because a door was left open, dropping the temperature. I combined that with an article about nanotech using DNA for girders to come up with my short story “Bubbles and Boxes.” I find for fantasy, it’s more about how I want to feel or experience.
Occasionally something that bothers me drives a story. A panel on artificial intelligence where my fellow panelists were “won’t it be grand” without any ethical considerations is responsible for “Left Foot on a Blind Man.” The idea of fate (I’m not a fan) produced “Ascent.”
For novels? The Gossamer Mage started as magic system involving pens and grew from there into my notion of what magic might think of its users. I’m not overly fond of magic as a tool. I like it to have opinions. Be less tech, more passion. Wilder. That said, Species Imperative came about because I wanted to explore how very messy biological drives might impact one of those multi-species futures we all love. Which led me to migration, which meant a salmon researcher, and thus was born Mac.
Esen is my repository for all the wonderful strange and amazing things about living things on this world. I hardly make up a thing. The only problem is that I tend to exclaim “That’s IT!” while reading or watching or out in nature when you’re supposed to be peaceful.
For Night’s Edge, the research is all about the world, the “real” one of the characters. I didn’t know very much about life on farms or mills in the early 18th century. Now I do. Sometimes it’s a wee detail that gives you more than you think. I bought a little purse at a yard sale that wound up on the cover and in the story of A Play of Shadow.
My latest deep delve for facts involved the specifics of desert truck travel. You’ll find the result in To Each This World.
I pay attention. I adore learning new things, about anything. I collect bits and pieces of information never knowing if I’ll use them–but I might. Right now, I’m into trains and tidal pools. Not literally, though that’d be fun as well.
Where do I get my ideas? I think it’s better to ask where don’t I?

You opened your Trade Pact setting to writers for Tales from Plexis. Does this mean I can set my own stories there now?

No, sorry. The writers in that anthology signed contracts that stated exactly how, where, and when they had permission to use my stuff. If I do another, everyone will get that information and be welcome to submit a story–and yes, sign a contract if I buy it.
In any other situation, while I’ve no problem at all with fanfic (fan fiction), please don’t show me. I’ve my own ideas, thank you, and mustn’t muddle them. And please don’t publish yours in any way that infringes my copyright. This is my living, after all. I’m sure you understand.
I am overjoyed to see fan art, by the way. And costumes! Such an incredible compliment and super fun when people show me those.

Can you find a publisher, agent, or editor for my work?

Only you can do that. However, like most published authors, I owe my career to those who helped me, so I do try to help in turn. I’m happy to offer what guidance I can. As part of that, I host a group called “Writerly Stuff” on Facebook and you’re welcome to give it a try. We answer questions for one another and share tips. Anything goes.
My best advice? Be proud of your passion for writing. It’s amazing! Embrace it. Believe in yourself. You’ll find a way. And there are many ready to help you. We all need more stories!

Will you read and critique my work?

You are welcome to ask me but be aware the realities of my writing schedule (and reading pile) mean I rarely have time. If you attend one of my workshops, listed on my Events page, that’s a great way for us to meet and for you to find potential readers. My “Writerly Stuff” group is another place where you might find a critical eye and I highly recommend attending conventions. If you’ll be at one where I’ll be, please let me know. I’d love to meet you and chat.

What’s writing like for you?

I’m a morning person, as is Roger, so we’re up at dawn. Walks and yoga every day—I write more effectively and longer if I’ve been active first. I’ve an office full of books with a sit/stand desk and write standing most of the time. I think with pen, pencil and paper; I write by typing into my computer.
Unless close to the ending of a story—when nothing else matters and Roger must haul me away to eat–I usually write for 4-6 hours/day, taking short breaks whenever the words slow to garden or move around. The rest of my workday will be non-writing stuff like meetings, email, social media.
My perfect week? It’s evolved over time. I’ve been a full-time author, working from home, since 1985, and started off writing when our kids didn’t need me. Translation: I didn’t sleep much. Now I keep regular office hours, Monday to Fridays, as much as possible. We have a Friday night party (our reminder it’s time to stop working and be social), then off goes the computer for the weekend. Doesn’t mean I won’t think about a story, but that’s why I’ve a pencil and paper by the bed to catch those ideas.
What else? I’m a linear writer. If I skip over a dull bit (oh look, a meeting) it bothers me until I go back and fill it in properly. I don’t outline unless I must. Some plots are more technically demanding than others, especially when writing within a series, so outlines help there. Outlining also works well for me with short stories, not that I always do it. Whatever works. I like brainstorming ideas or plot problems on really big sheets of paper with arrows and dramatic exclamation marks. Post-it notes!
Worldbuilding? It’s fun and I love researching new things–but I’ll hit a point where I’m done and madly impatient to get the story going. I resist that, a little, because I know I’ll grumble when I have to stop mid-writing to make up names etc. Always happens, of course, but at least I try.
I started my professional writing career with science textbooks (biology, chemistry, physics), became a full-time developmental editor, then for ten years had a publishing company (Czerneda Publishing Inc.) that did non-fiction projects. The process gave me a great respect for the team effort needed to get the best possible book to its audience, as well as for deadlines. My stories? Written for fun when I’d a moment. When I sold Beholder’s Eye to Sheila Gilbert of DAW Books in 1997, my second novel, I consulted with my family and we made the decision I should write for fun all the time. And I have ever since.

Roger?

My best friend, partner in all things, and spousal unit since 1976. (Also the provider of my cool last name.) We met at the University of Waterloo, became lab partners, became more, and the rest is my life. Roger’s been an environmental chemist, a professional photographer and graphic designer, run a computer company, worked in government and private industry, and continues to be a full-time artist and computer whiz. (Yes, he could build a shopping mall with gum and Swiss army knife, and has renovated all our living spaces.) I’m delighted his wonderful work is featured on several of my covers and he’s responsible for this website, as well as my earlier ones.
It is absolutely true I wouldn’t be the writer I am without him. In every sense. On learning I wrote stories, Roger bought me a typewriter and later a computer so I could finish A Thousand Words for Stranger. He insisted I send it out. Cared for everything and everyone so I could attend conventions (and began coming because we’re both huge fans, especially of Star Trek). Together we celebrate every triumph and stand by one another through tough times. Never has he doubted what I could do, so I never have, and that’s a gift beyond any price.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I garden. Vegetables, yes, but my special passion is wilding our yard, especially since we’ve moved into a small town. Our yard is getting more wildlife-friendly by the year and I love that. Watch for my #wildingtheyard tag wherever you find me on social media.
Every so often I launch a rocket. Each day I watch the life around me and learn new things. I’ve an insatiable curiosity about pretty much everything.
I also love people. Granted, hard to indulge in that recently, but we’re looking forward to visiting family and friends, and entertaining at our home. And to conventions! Bookstores! I’ve missed those very much. Hope to see you there soon.


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