May 30, 2020

New book release coming up on July 14, 2020

Czerń nie zapomina [Sable Magic Never Forgets], the fifth and final book in my Darkgleam series, will be released on July 14, 2020! This time, Anguish has ostensibly vanished from the face of the world, and silver sorcerers attempt to foil a nasty plot hatched by demons from the Valley of Rust, forcibly enlisting the help of two sable outlaws. I love the fabulous cover art by Robert Rajszczak.

April 13, 2020

Easter Monday coronavirus blues

Life has a way of surprising you. Now and then it throws a nasty curveball. Obviously, none of us Westerners expected The Curveball From Wuhan that got thrown at the world in the first three months of 2020. As I write these words, the coronavirus pandemic is generating not a spreading ripple, but a looming tsunami of imminent economic and social effects, hitting job markets, shutting down economies and leaving us wondering: what on earth will come next?

Thankfully, the epidemic itself is not (yet?) reaping a tragic harvest in Poland: our government implemented strict lockdown measures quickly. Our health care system is underfunded and shaky, our hospitals have been suffering from personnel shortages for years, everyone is painfully aware that an epidemic of Italian proportions would cost many thousands of lives, so we're sheltering in place and letting the economy basically go into freefall. We will obviously pay a hard price soon in lost jobs and bankrupcies. Although I'm fortunate in many ways (no debt, no kids to support, my husband has a steady job), the situation still has tough implications for me.

I'm an author. Yes, an author, not just a writer. I've penned and published six novels (five have appeared in print, the sixth is awaiting publication) and about a zillion shorter works in magazines, webzines and anthologies. The caveat: I write and publish in Polish, my mother tongue. The Polish book market is not large. It offers limited options, and adult speculative fiction is not a lucrative niche. I had to struggle for years, cooperating with tiny indie presses, before a stroke of luck hit: my Darkgleam then-trilogy got re-released by a large publisher, who soon requested a sequel, and I ended up expanding the series into five books instead of three. 

The fourth book was released in June 2019. I finished writing the fifth one in March, just as the coronavirus catastrophe hit us with full force. The country has gone under lockdown, and right now the Polish book market is reeling HEAVILY, with all stationary bookstores closed and book sales plummeting by 70-80%. The release date of the fifth book in my Darkgleam series, initially planned for late May 2020, has been postponed until the situation clears up. I'm worried that if my publisher has to take drastic measures to cut losses and survive, the book release might ultimately be canceled or, in a slightly better-case scenario, there might only be an ebook and no paper version. But worse still, the prognosis for the Polish book market now appears bleak for years to come. An economic crisis and high unemployment rate = no money to spend on books. Since I finance my writing by doing literary translations into Polish, this is doubly bad news for me. 

I'm already thinking hard about my future and considering all possible options, including a return to medical translations (a few years ago, I switched from medical/scientific translations to literary ones, which left significantly more free time for writing) or even (gasp!) attempting to secure a normal day job after 10 years of happy freelancing. I also have the option of trying to emigrate again (assuming that the pandemic will end sometime in 2021 after a vaccine is found, and borders will reopen). Depending on the situation, I might completely give up writing in Polish for several years.

I'm also wondering whether this might be a good time to revisit some dreams that have been shelved for the past 3 years. Although I'm essentially bilingual and I've been working as a translator for a decade, I don't feel confident enough to write in English (well, to be frank, I don't feel confident writing in Polish either; writer's block has been my constant companion for years). After a brief burst of enthusiasm in 2017, I stopped trying to translate my Polish stories into English (I managed to get four translated stories published in no-pay zines with little effort, but couldn't break into paid ones, and ultimately I had to focus on writing in Polish). Maybe it's time to resume those efforts, and also try my hand at writing in English (even after putting lots of work into the translation, my translated stories always seem slightly clumsier than the original version, and this probably hurts their chances of getting published).

For now, I've decided to come back to this blog. Just to exercise my English writing muscles a little. Expect more posts at irregular intervals. 

And, in spite of everything, best Easter wishes from this optimistic Easter cat!

June 20, 2019

New book release on June 18, 2019

Śpiew potępionych [The Song of the Damned], the fourth book in the Darkgleam series, was released on June 18, 2019! I love the cover art! Compared to the rest of the series, this book contains a radical scenery change, as the story is set in the tropics. It's fast-paced and fiery: a burning sun, dangerous seas, pirates and demons.

March 20, 2019

A handful of news: March 2019

Seven months have flown by in no time, so I'm back with another irregular update. My life has been busy and interesting lately. Right now I'm focusing on writing in Polish, while the plans to branch out into English have temporarily taken a back seat since so much is happening on the home front.

1. After five months of hard work, and many struggles with paralyzing self-doubt and writer's block, a month and a half ago I managed to complete book 4 of the Teatr węży [Darkgleam] series, entitled Śpiew potępionych [The Song of the Damned]. I'm insanely relieved that it's finally written! The book is now undergoing the final round of editing (I'm making the last small tweaks and corrections) and will appear in print in 2019, perhaps as early as June.

Take a look at the edited manuscript with the line editor's comments: 

2. Two years ago, I became one of the founding members of an all-female group of Polish speculative fiction authors known as Harda Horda or in English as Fantastic Women Writers of Poland. Briefly, we're a group of professional and semi-professional writers who banded together in order to be more visible on the Polish book market, and to challenge some of the stereotypes about female fiction. Most of us write sf/f/h, but some have successfully branched out into unrelated genres such as crime fiction, or even moved out of genre fiction into mainstream fiction. As a part of our promotional efforts, last year we penned an anthology of 12 stories (one by each member), and this anthology has recently been published by Wydawnictwo SQN, a Polish publisher based in Cracow. The book is a deluxe, hardcover, illustrated edition, it looks wonderful and is attracting lots of positive attention. We're very happy and proud!

And the lovely illustration to my story looks like this:

3. A different, but also all-female team has put together a more low-profile, but equally high-quality project: Fenixa, a special issue of the Fenix: Antologia zine. All the featured stories and all but one of the articles were written by women, and the cover artwork was also done by a female artist (you may be interested to know that the cover artwork and illustrations for the Harda Horda anthology are the work of female artists as well). Notably, Fenixa features two foreign novelettes, and one of them is Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man by Megan Lindholm, translated by yours truly. I wanted to translate this story into Polish ever since I first read it in the late '90s!

4. I've recently had the pleasure of translating two other beautiful stories into Polish: The Dala Horse by Michael Swanwick and The Martian Obelisk by Linda Nagata. Both are awaiting publication in the Nowa Fantastyka magazine.

This year, I ended up missing the London Book Fair once again for various reasons, but I'll probably spend a significant amount of time at Polish book fairs in the second half of the year. I also have all sorts of plans for the future that need more thought and more work. I will return here from time to time (I update my Polish blog much more often).

September 4, 2018

A handful of news: September 2018

I've been neglecting this blog for a long time because of too many commitments overall. It's been a hectic year. I hope to return to blogging in English sometime. Meanwhile, just a quick update if anyone happens to drop by: 

  • The three first volumes of my Teatr węży [Darkgleam] series have been re-released in 2017 and 2018 by Wydawnictwo Rebis, one of the largest Polish publishers. Some people love the new covers (see above) and some people hate them, whereas my opinion is... kinda neutral? Anyway, I'm working on the fourth book now!
  • My short story Returning to the Garden has recently appeared online in Longshot Island zine. It's possibly the oddest bit of prose I've ever penned (I'm normally not into experimental prose), a story about the famous wooden statue of Mary that survived the Nagasaki nuclear blast. (UPDATE AFTER TWO YEARS: Meanwhile, it seems that Longshot Island has disappeared from the Internet, along with all the stories published there... A pity.)
  • Last year, I had the pleasure of translating Chris Colfer's YA novel The Wishing Spell (volume I of the Land of Stories series) into Polish; the translation will be published in October 2018 by Papierowy Księżyc.
  • Two stories of mine (the novelette Czarne i czarniejsze and the short story Pod skórą) have also appeared in print in Polish in recent months, while another story is awaiting publication. All in all, not a bad year.

August 5, 2017

Priorities, priorities...

I'm back after a loooong break!

Things change, and I tend to just go with the flow. Seven months ago, in January, I had a general idea of what I wanted to do and accomplish in 2017. Well, that plan has already undergone 180-degree changes twice. 

2017 is being a very exciting year. I've been shortlisted for the Janusz A. Zajdel Award (for a novellette) and for the Jerzy Żuławski Literary Award (for The Thistle Queen). I've been to the London Book Fair in March and to the Warsaw Book Fair in May. I got invited as a guest to a lovely convention in Wrocław in July (where I had the chance to talk to Angus Watson and Brian McClellan). I plan to attend three more conventions in Poland (one in Toruń and two in my hometown) before winter comes. 

I'm also busy translating. A LOT. On the other hand, my writing is lagging badly. In January, I planned to take an extended break from translations, perhaps even until the end of 2017, and WRITE (I magically become a productive writer when I slash other commitments that involve deadlines). And write I did... except that February and March were spent maniacally translating stuff into English (samples of my own writing and that of other authors) and proofreading samples prepared by other translators. Lots of pure, 100-percent effort (unpaid, non-profit, kinda crazy) put into an initiative that might bear fruit or not. For now, I've set that particular flowerpot aside, and if something grows there, I'll be jubilant. If not... oh well, I've handled bigger disappointments.

In June, I changed my mind about focusing on writing, accepted some translation and editing jobs that came my way, and decided to temporarily shelve yet another partly written novel that wasn't meeting my internal quality control standards. I'll come back to it someday. After meeting one deadline after another in June and July (everything somehow got finished on time, and I can proudly add T. Coraghessan Boyle's "The Relive Box" and Carrie Vaughn's "Game of Chance", two brilliant short stories, to the list of texts I've translated into Polish; Boyle's story has just recently appeared in the magazine pictured at right), I'm more than halfway through the last translation project, a YA fantasy novel, and have decided to at least update my blogs. I have a number of writing projects, four short ones and one long to be exact, outlined and waiting to be written... and a sensible schedule needs to get worked out before I can seriously tackle them. 

(And life is happening in parallel, in the form of a newly purchased apartment at the shell and core stage that needs to be fitted out and furnished. A huge distraction! Hence the extended pauses in blogging. I've already learned more about different types of floors and doors and tiles and kitchen furniture than I ever wanted to know...)

Meanwhile, the first volume of my Darkgleam series, Dwie karty [Two cards], first released in 2011, will soon be reprinted by the large Polish publishing house Rebis. The planned release date is September 2017. I had my doubts about the new cover, but the longer I look at it, the better I like it!

April 9, 2017

Waiting and thinking (or thinking and waiting)

A writer’s life involves lots of waiting. Waiting for submissions to be either accepted or rejected (so that you can submit them somewhere else, and then the waiting cycle begins again). Waiting for accepted stories to appear in print or online. Waiting for the launch of your new book. Waiting for reviews. Waiting for the sales statistics. Waiting to get paid. 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received three rejection letters (and promptly resent the rejected material elsewhere; I’m very, very serious about trying to get my translated stories “out there”). A short story of mine has recently appeared in the April issue of the Polish speculative fiction magazine Nowa Fantastyka. I’m waiting for news about other submissions. I’ve steeled myself for a long wait (in one case, the decision will probably come in October).

Meanwhile, there’s nothing for it but to keep writing (I’m working on a new novel in Polish – the first three chapters are almost finished, yay). With Hans the troll’s permission, I’ve temporarily suspended the “read every day” part of my New Year’s resolutions because reading every day seems to interfere with my writing (it impairs my ability to write in my own voice) when I’m working steadily on a WIP, rather than just experimenting and pottering about.

I’ve also come to a point where other things besides writing need some serious thought. At the beginning of April, I briefly came down with a nasty virus (either a norovirus or something similar). I didn’t vomit, but had fever, nausea and other unpleasant symptoms, was unable to eat for over 50 hours, narrowly avoided dehydration (now I know that when you start getting weak & dizzy every time you stand up, postural hypotension has kicked in and it’s time to get serious about drinking that yucky-tasting oral rehydration mixture) and had ample time to rethink my lifestyle while I was lying in a darkened room with a splitting headache on the second day.

Apart from the occasional cold, I very rarely get ill, so I'm treating this as a wake-up call. Living my life mostly in front of a computer screen isn’t doing me any favors. Now, my No. 1 plan for spring is to spend more time outdoors, eat more veggies and eggs (I’m an underweight, not-crazy-about-eating person who will subsist on sandwiches and cornflakes if unmotivated) and get healthier. One of my New Year's resolutions for 2017 was to "exercise or go for a walk every day" (I'm managing to stick to it for about 20 days each month... not a shining success, but not a total failure either). It was a step in the right direction, but it's not enough. I'm not in bad shape but I was fitter two years ago. Hans the troll says he’ll try to find a way to persuade me to start running.

And as for the waiting... the best cure for impatience is to get distracted by something else, so I’m going to do my best to submit some more material here and there in the coming months (both in Polish and in English). A novelette I wrote in Polish in December has been waiting until now to get edited and partly rewritten (it needs a different ending). I’m looking forward to sitting down to it over the Easter holidays!