Something About The Book

I mentioned that it takes a month to make a habit.  Well, I’m trying to create a posting habit, to put up a new post at least once a week.  This website is  a place where you can find out a little about me and more about my books, so here’s something about the book:

Wide Open is the first in a three-book series.  Without giving much (anything) away, books two and three are also about South Dakota, Hallie Michaels, Boyd Davies and creepy paranormal happenings. Currently, book two is called Deep Down, though this can change.

Also currently, the first paragraph is:

Hallie Michaels had been up since six, running big round bales of hay out to the cattle and her father’s small herd of bison in the far south-west pasture.  She was heading back in, thinking about breakfast–toast and scrambled eggs and half a dozen slices of bacon–when a shadow, so dark it felt as if a curtain had been drawn, passed by on her right.  She looked up, but there was nothing, not a cloud in the sky, looked back down and she could see the shadow still, like a black patch of nothing on the ground, heading due south.

Of course, that could change too.

Mistakes Were Made

But not…oh, wait, they were made by me.

Tor/Macmillan now has a Google Preview of Wide Open available on their website (Look Inside is now up at Amazon too). In both cases, the first two chapters (plus some other pages) are available as well as most of the front matter, including the acknowledgements.

I’m a bit of a loner and I like doing things on my own, but there would not have been a book and it would not have been this book without lots of generous help from other people.  So, the acknowledgements are important to me, even if most people don’t read them.  They’re one of the ways I can point to all those important people and say thanks.

Despite their importance, despite double- and triple-checking them, I still left out two people I’d meant to include.

  • Paul Melko, (whose book, Broken Universe, will be out from Tor in June) was at Blue Heaven the year I brought Wide Open and not only gave me helpful feedback on that manuscript, but recently read book two and gave me terrific feedback on that manuscript as well.  Thanks, Paul.
  • Mike Mauton has been my go-to ‘gun guy’ for both my novels and short stories and provides me with all manner of useful information on guns and hunting, which, given the books and stories I write, is invaluable.  Thanks!

To them, and the people I actually did include in the acknowledgements: all the mistakes in Wide Open are mine, but so much of what’s good is because I had help from all of you.

Audio and the Book

My love of audiobooks is no less fierce because it’s new.

This year, I wanted to walk more.  I needed and wanted the exercise and I have two dogs who appreciate the exercise and (for Blue) the expanded vermin hunting possibilities.  I’m great with habits, but not so great at creating them.  It takes a month to make a habit, they say, and it’s easy, especially early in the morning or when it’s raining to say, okay, sure, I’ll walk, just not right now.  Figuring an actual financial investment might provide some incentive, I bought a Bluetooth headset (don’t like cords) and a subscription to Audible and I haven’t looked back since.

I get a different feel for books when I listen to them as opposed to reading them.  My memory is better and I can see the structure of the book more easily.  I don’t have to worry about strange words or how they should be pronounced.  The narrator does that job for me.  Most audiobook narrators are good, but some of them are amazing!  I’ve found myself searching the database for more books with a specific narrator, because they’re just that good.

Since May, I’ve listened to approximately 30 audiobooks. A few of my favorites:

  • The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill.  Narrated by Clive Chafer
  • Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin.  Narrated by Rosalyn Landor
  • The Curse of Chalion narrated by Lloyd James and The Paladin of Souls narrated by Kate Reading.  Both by Lois McMaster Bujold.
  • Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer.  Narrated by Daniel Philpott
  • City of Veils by Zoe Ferraris.  Narrated by Kate Reading

I would, by the way, seriously listen to Kate Reading read the phone book.

[The photo is of sound mirrors used in WWII to listen for approaching planes. From thejustifiedsinner. Used under CC-license.]

About Those Dogs

I currently have two dogs.  I’ll give them each a separate post later, but for now, here’s a brief introduction.

Billie, as you can see from her picture, is a Rottweiler.  I’ve had her since she was a puppy, and she’s going to be 11 in February.  She is gentle and smart and generally happy.

Some people will tell you that Rottweilers are mean, that you can’t trust them.  Here’s what I know: Rottweilers are strong. They are physically strong and they are strong willed.  They’re a protective breed and they’re very aware of their surroundings and of potential threats.  They need knowledgeable breeders and competent owners.  They must, must, must have good training, socialization, and consistency.  Anything else is unfair to them and to anyone who has to live with or near them.  They are also extremely social, love people, and are some of the best dogs I’ve ever known.

Billie does obedience and tracking with me.  And she’s a Therapy Dog.  She visits patients in the local hospital with me every week.  I’m pretty sure she thinks that people’s primary purpose in going to the hospital is to see her.  She’s a charmer.

Dog number two is Blue. Or, Ch Nevars Java RN TDX as he is more formally known.  He is a German Pinscher.  I’ve been told that there are about 500 German Pinschers in the US.  Most people think he’s a stunted Doberman Pinscher.*

I’ve had Rottweilers for over twenty years.  But a few years ago I started thinking it might be nice to have a smaller breed, a dog I could pick up if necessary.  I love Rottweilers, I like working dogs and I like short-haired dogs.  German Pinschers are a nice, medium-sized, very short-haired dog.  And thus…Blue.  German Pinschers were originally farm dogs, bred to sound the alert and to take care of vermin.  Blue is excellent at both these tasks (…really excellent.  Especially with the vermin catching).  He’s also an excellent tracking dog and we’re working on obedience and agility.  Plus he’s fun and I like him.

*Occasionally I have this conversation with my neighbor (whom I have told a dozen times that Blue is a German Pinscher):

Neighbor: He’s so small for a Doberman!
Me: I know!  It’s a mystery!!

**Photos in this post were taken by Rachel Ritland

Wide Open

My first novel, Wide Open, will be published by Tor in March, 2012.

What it’s about:
Hallie Michaels has had a near-death experience in Afghanistan and since then she’s been able to see ghosts.  She’s still adjusting to this new reality when she’s called home to South Dakota to her sister, Dell’s, funeral.  Her friends and the sheriff tell her that Dell committed suicide, but Hallie can’t believe that.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Trailed by her sister’s ghost, she starts asking questions–of her sister’s friends, of the people Dell worked with, of a young deputy sheriff who keeps turning up where he’s most not wanted. 

Hallie soon discovers  there’s a lot more going on than just her sister’s death.  Things someone will do anything to protect.  Hallie’s threatened.  Her father’s barn is burned. Another young woman disappears.  New ghosts follow her.  Now, she’s going to need all the help she can muster in order to stop a villain with ancient powerful magic at his fingertips.

Where it comes from:
It’s been a long journey to a published novel and I’m really excited that Wide Open will soon be in stores.

The phrase, write what you know, is a common bit of advice for writers, and a good one.  We talk a lot about what it means, exactly, because writers are always writing about things we can’t possibly ‘know.’  We write about places that don’t exist, about people who never were, about pasts and futures that didn’t or won’t happen.  But at least part of what it means is to write what you care about.

I grew up on a farm in western New York State.  I went to college and I majored in Animal Science.  I went to graduate school and majored in Plant Science.  I researched forages.  I worked for an ag chemical company. I was a statistical consultant for ag researchers.  I moved into information technology, but I worked at a land grant university.

I moved west of the Mississippi, not because I wanted to, but because the job was there.   People–Iowans–asked me why I moved there, like they couldn’t imagine it, like no one ever did.  But here’s the thing, about Iowa and Nebraska, South Dakota and the rest of the short and tall grass prairie states.  They’re beautiful.  Really fantastically beautiful–hot and humid in summer, dry and cold (COLD!) in winter, vast and open and full of surprises.

I care about the prairie, about the big open.  I care about the lives people live out of sight of interstates and cities and suburban subdivisions.  And I care about the vast wonderful what-if possibilities of fantasy.

Wide Open comes from all of that.  And I hope it manages to do some of it justice.

Welcome to my new website

Hi, I’m Deb Coates.  And this may be a temporary, place-holder entry as I set up my new website.

But, for now:

I’m a writer of fantasy and science fiction.  I’ve published short stories in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Year’s Best Fantasy 6 and others.  My first novel, Wide Open will be published by Tor on March, 13, 2012.

I have two dogs, Billie, a Rottweiler and Blue, a German Pinscher.  I talk about them a lot. I live in flyover country.

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