NaNoWriMo is over… now what?

NaNoWriMo 2020 Winner's badge featuring a castle on a purple background surrounded by confetti
A winner is you!

National Novel Writing Month is once again behind us, and what a November it was. 2020 has been a year of pandemic, quarantine, politics, stress, and a host of other complications and catastrophes on top of the usual stuff. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who even attempted NaNo this year deserves to celebrate. And to those who succeeded in making the 50,000-word goal: if you can do it now, this year, of all years, you can do it anytime! I hope you feel heartened and emboldened and proud, even if you’re also emotionally hung over and empty and deflated.

If you’re feeling a little adrift, or full of energy without a sense of how to use it, here are some thoughts on what you can do next. All of them are optional, so please consider what is best for you and what aligns with your own goals and life circumstances.

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Prime Deceptions book birthday

The book Prime Deceptions by Valerie Valdes next to the Victorion Transformers model
Victorion matches my book!!

Today is the day! Prime Deceptions is here at last!

I wrote this book mostly hunched over my laptop at SpecialTea Lounge and Panera Bread in Miami, drinking pots of tea or mugs of coffee and eating egg and cheese croissants and cookies. I had quit my day job and thrown myself fully into Writer Life, doing promo for Chilling Effect while trying to make my daily word goal.

It was a beautiful and stressful time and I’ll always look back on it fondly, even though I had plenty of intense anxiety. Would I make my deadline? Would I be able to write a book as good as the first one? Would anyone buy either of my books?!

And now here I am, in a whole other state, on the other side of two book birthdays, with a third book in progress and secret new projects also coming together quietly where no one but a few friends can see them. It’s pretty surreal, I have to say. But it’s also the proverbial dream come true, for a dream I’ve had since I was a kid, one that waxed and waned over time but never went away.

If you feel so inclined, please do come and celebrate tonight with me and Karen Osborne, whose book Architects of Memory also comes out today! You can find more details in this post, along with the signup link. We have a great list of authors joining us, so it should be extremely fun.

I am so, so grateful every day that I can do this thing I love, and I couldn’t do it without everyone who supports me. Thank you, friends, more than I can possibly say. And now, back to work!

Space Moms Launch!

Space Moms Launch: A Literary House Party

Prime Deceptions comes out next week! OMG! Exclamation points!!!

As with Chilling Effect, it’s surreal how the release starts out so incredibly far away, and then suddenly is looming. It’s like a mountain range you knew was ahead of you somewhere on the other side of a huge, flat plain, but you couldn’t see it, and then one day you could, and then suddenly you were right in front of it and getting ready to climb.

But enough analogies! On to the celebration!

Karen Osborne also has a book coming out next week, Architects of Memory, and as we are both moms writing space books, we decided to have a dual book release party. The full details and schedule are still being worked out, but our guest list is already extremely awesome, and you’re all invited to come enjoy the festivities with us.

Head on over to Karen’s website for more information, as well as the link to register for the event. Hope to see you all there!

Columbus NASFiC this weekend

Columbus NASFiC logo, featuring a robot staring at a dragon on a rocket with colorful planets in the background
Robots and dragons and rockets, oh my!

I’m happy to share that I’ll be at Columbus NASFiC this weekend–virtually, of course, as many things are in the Time of La Rona. I’m on two panels, one of which I’ll be moderating, and I have a reading on Sunday afternoon. Check out the NASFiC website to see the full schedule, which is amazing, and best of all: it’s free!

My schedule:

  • Friday, August 21st at 8:00pm EDT: BIPOC Round Table
  • Saturday, August 22nd at 12:00pm EDT: The Ever-Expanding Universe of Space Operas
  • Sunday, August 23rd at 1:00pm EDT: Reading

Hope to see you there!

Events? Events!

More of a knife than a sword…

A quick update for those who don’t doomscroll on social media! I have two events today and one later this week, for your viewing or listening pleasure.

First, at 10am ET, you can watch me chat with R.A. Salvatore for ReedPop Metaverse. We talk about the final book in the Drizzt trilogy, Relentless (Legend of Drizzt: Generations #3), as well as his other work, D&D, fantasy, family and writing.

Second, tonight at 7pm ET we have another edition of the ongoing Blades in the Dark campaign, The Case of the Cindered Seal, which streams monthly on Twitch. Check out the latest episode, or catch up from the beginning.

Finally, on August 20th at 7pm ET, I’ll be at a virtual event with authors Pat McKee and Angie Gallion, hosted by the Newnan Carnegie Library. We’ll chat about ourselves and our latest books, so come check it out!

That’s all for now, friends. Stay safe and take care.

Here comes a new challenger

Logo for ConZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention
New Zealand just got much closer!

Life comes at you fast sometimes, and in this case, “life” means ConZealand, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, aka WorldCon. I’m happy to be a last-minute addition to their programming; this means you can watch me have entertaining opinions and read from Prime Deceptions live from the comfort of your home.

I’m also doing a kaffeeklatsch, so you and nine of your closest allies can ask me questions about extremely important topics, like which Renegade interrupts are morally acceptable for Paragons to take, or who are the most entertaining party members to bring to the Winter Palace. Or you could ask me about MY books, I guess!

Behold, my schedule:


  • Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at 8:00pm EDT: Reading
  • Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 8:00pm EDT: Kaffeklatsch
  • Friday, July 31, 2020 at 11:00pm EDT: Not Your Parents’ Space Opera
  • Saturday, August 1, 2020 at 8:00pm EDT: In Space No One Can See You Hide the Evidence: Crimes in Space

If you’ll be at ConZealand, stop on by and say hi! If not, you can still say hi to me on Twitter, and maybe ask me that Winter Palace question.

Stay safe, amigos!

Summertime scoops

Tools of the trade.

Sumer is icumen in, as the song goes, at least in the northern hemisphere. Every day is hotter than the last, the world is on fire, but the cicadas are still rattling away in the trees and bushes outside.

As a break from all the bad news everywhere, I have a few items of good personal news. First, I’ve sold two more books to Harper Voyager! Eva and the crew of La Sirena Negra get to have a third book, coming in 2022, in what I hope will be a very fun and satisfying end to their story–maybe with room for future shenanigans? The other book, for now, shall remain super secret, but it’s coming in 2023.

The pact is sealed.

If you’ll be attending the virtual San Diego Comic-Con this year, you can catch me on a panel of awesome women and nonbinary authors, discussing other awesome women and nonbinary authors, past and present. The other panelists are Nicky Drayden (Escaping Exodus), Marina Lostetter (Noumenon Ultra), Jessie Mihalik (Chaos Reigning), and K.B. Wagers (A Pale Light in the Black). That will be on Friday, July 24 at 3pm PDT (that’s 6pm EDT, East Coast residents).

I also have a virtual event coming up on July 29th at 6:30pm, hosted by The Ivy Bookshop, with Michael R. Underwood, author of the forthcoming Annihilation Aria. I got to read an ARC of the book, and it was a delightful space adventure with, among other things, a paladin-bard, which is frankly a multiclass that should exist in more fiction. Check it out, and come to our chat!

Finally, a reminder that I’m in an ongoing Blades in the Dark game that streams monthly on Twitch. Check out the latest episode, or catch up from the beginning. A mech powered by an anxious ghost, a former soldier with PTSD, an eclectic antique dealer with a dark past, and a food-obsessed bounty hunter try to figure out The Case of the Cindered Seal.

That’s all for now! Stay safe, amigos, and as the prophets say, be excellent to each other.

Space cats!

Space cats? Space cats!

Everyone always quotes the great Terry Pratchett when talking about cats: “In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” But through the inimitable Granny Weatherwax, he also said, “If cats looked like frogs we’d realize what nasty, cruel little bastards they are. Style. That’s what people remember.”

Personally, my experience with cats has been more along the lines of derpy snuggle-fiends who like to rub their face on me and cry for snacks. They can also be sneakily empathetic, appearing from their undisclosed cat sleeping locations to comfort me when I’m struggling with big feelings.

Cats have been our allies for ages, and given that they were often employed as pest control on ships, it’s reasonable to expect we’ll want their companionship and skill set once we start exploring the stars. We’ll have to solve the whole artificial gravity problem first, of course; cats always land on their feet, and this makes for a rather tragic scenario when one is floating around with no fixed concept of “down.”

With that in mind, I present to you a list of some of the best (so far) fictional cats in outer space–besides mine, of course:

Jones hard at work on the Nostromo

Jones, aka Jonesy (Alien): The pinnacle of space cat. Did his job, accepted occasional affections from the human crew, and valiantly attempted to warn everyone when there was an incursion he couldn’t handle from a horrifying xenomorph. Declined to participate in further missions with Ripley, because cats are no fools. A survivor, a legend, and an adorable orange tabby who I would absolutely nuzzle.

Spot: An endothermic quadruped, carnivorous by nature

Spot (Star Trek: The Next Generation): Another orange tabby (and sometimes Somali) cat who is more stripey than her name would suggest, Spot was Data’s companion, so beloved that he wrote an ode to her. She behaved in standard cat ways: sleeping, playing, and bothering Data while he was trying to work. She even scratched Riker’s face once! While other cats are pest-catchers, in the pristine future of Star Trek there are apparently no rats on the ship, so instead Spot gets busy making babies–weirdly, while turned into a lizard. She got better.

Cat is appalled at your lack of fashion sense

Cat (Red Dwarf): Cat is a descendent of the original pregnant cat smuggled aboard the ship, whose progeny… evolved into felis sapiens. He’s a bit of a cat stereotype, and he likes to go around licking people and marking stuff with his signature scent from a spray can. Self-centered and a bit cowardly, but ultimately a loyal crew member. Definitely the most fashionable space cat.

Being a cat in space is serious business

Chessie and Chester (Barque Cats): Like Jones, Chessie is part of a proud tradition of ship cats tasked with chasing down pests, while also alerting humans to other ship problems that may not be obvious. Like Spot, she’s part of the proud tradition of making babies, and Chester is one of her kittens. And like the cats in my books, Chester is psychic, though his abilities are more direct telepathy with his human companion than emotional manipulation. Proud, parental, and psychic: three excellent qualities for some adventurous felines.

Honorable mentions:

Goose (Captain Marvel): Goose is not actually a cat; Goose is a flerken, which looks a lot like a cat until, well, it doesn’t. Still, Goose is an excellent companion and Infinity Stone guardian, even if he did do Nick Fury dirty.

Lying Cat (Saga): Lying Cat is also, sadly, not an actual cat, despite the name. But this now meme-famous felinoid is still a badass. Who wouldn’t want a sidekick with the power to tell when people are prevaricating in your presence?

Jake the Cat (The Cat From Outer Space): His real name is Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 and he is, once again, not a terran cat. His collar lets him communicate with humans, and he has his own spaceship, so he probably outranks the other not-cats on this list.

Orion (MIB): He’s a cat! Sadly, he does not go into space, but he has a galaxy on his collar, so that’s kind of the same? Space comes to him.

So there’s my list! Who are YOUR favorite space cats?

Deleted scene from CHILLING EFFECT

Box: a cat’s natural habitat.

Now that page proofs for PRIME DECEPTIONS are off to the publisher, I thought I’d share something fun to celebrate. The votes are in, so please enjoy this deleted scene from CHILLING EFFECT, in which The Fridge’s attempt to take over La Sirena Negra doesn’t go quite as planned. This occurs in Chapter 20, but is relatively spoiler-free.

Stay safe, amigos, hasta luego!

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