writing rengeek magpie mind

August 2014



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May. 25th, 2014

wire in the blood, writing shadow unit todd remorseful

in a garden full of angels you won't ever be alone

The second to last episode of Shadow Unit is up now. It's called "Asylum," and it's be C. L. Polk and me.

It's taken 7 years, 10 writers, 3 editors, 1 illustrator, 1 photographer, 2 geeks, 1 book designer, 1 accountant, and 1 web ghoul.

And countless fans.

And we're actually about to bring this motherfucker home. 

Tonight, on Shadow Unit.

Everything changes.

I mean, even more so than usual.

May. 24th, 2014

criminal minds fate

kept a shine on the bar with the sleeves of our coats

I was feeling profoundly depressed about the UCSB shootings and equally depressed about the number of men who just don't get why women are horribly upset and scared by this. Then I found the #YesallWomen hashtag on twitter and it helped.

Because, well, yes. Not all men are predators. But every woman you know has had experience with men who are. Every woman. Me. Your mother. That lady in the upstairs apartment with the dog with the annoying clicky nails ALL NIGHT ALL DAMN NIGHT PUT BOOTS ON THAT THING.

All of us.

I'm not even talking about rape or threats of violence here, though of course that's part of it. It's not just being taught from an early age that we're prey animals, and we always have to be ready to fight or flee. It's that creepy fifty-something guy who tried to pick me up on a city bus when I was fourteen. The fellow writer who stared down my shirt after his third glass of wine. The mail carrier who pulled over to ask me out on a date, and when I told him I was married, argued with me. (Notice, I told him "I'm married," not "That's flattering, but no thank you." Because belonging to another man is safer than saying no.) There was the airport shuttle driver who bugged me for my phone number all the way from Hartford to New York, until another passenger entered the van.

That wasn't scary at all. Nuh uh.

I'm not saying that it's always inappropriate to pay a compliment. I was never offended by the guy who stopped me in the supermarket to tell me I had pretty hair and carried myself well, and it brightened his day--because he so patently did not want anything from me. He was complimenting, not coming on.

We can tell the difference.

If we're conventionally attractive, we're abused when we refuse to cater to men--when we don't want to be bothered when we're reading on the train or give them our phone number if they stop us on the street. If we're dyky or fat or old, we're abused for being ugly lesbo bitches, which is to say, not fuckable. Because being fuckable is the only excuse a woman has to exist, to these dudes.

It makes me fucking tired. It makes a lot of women tired.

And what you're hearing right now is a lot of tired women asking for a little fucking respect. If you haven't behaved that way, well then. It's not directed at you, is it?

If you have behaved that way?

Maybe this could be a learning experience, then.

May. 21st, 2014

sf farscape d'argo's your daddy

now we're gonna be face to face

I ran twelve miles today. Because virtue is not actually it's own reward, I have invented a cocktail.

2 ounces bourbon
.75 ounce creme de menthe
three drops Bitter End Thai bitters

Serve over ice, garnished with mint, kaffir lime leaves, and a slice of fresh ginger.

Here's a bonus picture of my dog hugging his stuffed Lambchop.

May. 20th, 2014

spies mfu facepalm napoleon

sorry absinthe you're much too slow

I've been reading the ongoing, nuanced, thoughtful, intensely personal discussion of the use of dialect in stories in science fiction and fantasy with a lot of interest. It's a good discussion, and the inimitable Sofia Samatar (Hugo and Campbell nominee: read her stuff) has a good link roundup and reaction post here.

I also found LaShawn Wanak's post, here, particularly moving.

LaShawn is a former student of mine who has since become a friend, so what she has to say speaks very personally to me. For one thing, I'm certainly guilty of counseling my students to avoid "eye dialect" under most circumstances. By eye dialect, what we generally mean is writing that attempts to phoneticize dialect, and which is often used for comedic effect or to represent a particular character as an ill-spoken hick or foreigner. (Think the inevitable bumpkins in Shakespeare.)

Too often, "eye dialect" is used to mock a marginalized group, and that's (a) not funny and (b) distracting to the reader and (c) just plain rude.

But the current discussion has exposed to me a particular kyriarchal shortcoming in my own thinking on the issue, because what I've often done when asked, "Okay, how do we represent dialect?" is counsel being faithful to the rhythms of the speech, but using more or less standard spelling, or standard variations of spelling. (such as "gonna," "ain't," "chillun," "feets") and also avoiding bumpkinizing characters by use of eye dialect.

And I always make a point of stressing to my students that "There are no rules in fiction writing, only techniques that do or don't work in any given circumstance." And of pointing out cases where dialect is used well and strongly--Nalo Hopkinson has a fabulous ear for dialect, for example, and so does Nisi Shawl. You can settle in and hear the voice speaking in your ear.

I think where I've failed my students is that I've failed to stress that if you're using your own dialect, or one you've extensively researched and/or lived with, then the advice to avoid eye dialect absolutely does not apply. That yes, eye dialect will alienate some readers who aren't willing to do the work to get through it, and that those are the choices that every writer makes every single time they decide between transparency (ease of reading) and complexity/nuance/depth/shades and layers*. But that sometimes it's worth losing a few readers to say something truer and less whitewashed, less commodified. 

The writer, having developed through practice and experience sufficient tools and skill to control their point of aim--gets to choose that point of aim and hopefully even hit it.

And as Amal El-Mohtar points out in her essay here, sometimes the writer's true voice, truly represented, offers a much stronger and richer experience to readers willing to do the work.

So I think I owe LaShawn and my other students an apology on that front. 



*Both are literary values, you see--and while they are not diametrically opposed, they are in tension with one another. 

Note 1: Speaking as somebody who has studied perhaps a little more linguistics, anthropology, and English literature than is healthy for the human mind: standard or "proper" English is a social construct intended as a measure of class control and segregation. It doesn't exist as a real, unconstructed thing. The linguist's viewpoint is that "correct" language is any language as spoken by a fluent native speaker. The end.

Note 2: This discussion is also interesting for me from a personal point of view, because I am the grandaughter of immigrants, and being well-spoken was of Very High Value in the house I grew up in. My grandfather learned English when he was 12, and spoke it with precision and power, because being well-spoken was recognized as the way to get ahead among the immigrant communities in New York City in the nineteen-teens and nineteen-twenties. My native speech was therefore crisp enough that I was often mistaken as an immigrant by other immigrants. And when I moved to Nevada, suddenly that same diction (and my traces of a Yankee accent, which basically only show up on one word out of a hundred--water, quarter, roof, root. library--and in certain dialectical choices) marked me out for fairly severe mockery and a certain amount of reflexive prejudice. My participle endings have suffered as a result, which I sort of mourn.

Note 3: I've also damn well used dialect in my own work, extensively, where I felt i could represent it well. Often with the help of a native informant. Often, I have myself chosen to downplay it, either by using standardized spelling (what I refer to as the nature-identical Elizabethan flavoring in Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth, for example) or by being somewhat sparing in what I chose to accentuate as with Razorface in the Jenny Casey books and Don in Whiskey and Water.

Some of this sparingness is because I know I don't have a particularly good ear for accents and dialect, and I'd rather go easy than get it wrong. That also makes me work extra hard at it when I use it, and yell for help a lot.

But I have used it when it felt necessary, in "The Cold Blacksmith" and in Karen Memory and probably in a hundred other places that currently don't spring to mind.

May. 11th, 2014

jarts: internet lawn defense league

now i'm looking in the mirror all the time wondering what she don't see in me

Apparently it's time again for the annual "Kids these days don't read Heinlein" argument, which--to be honest--I don't even understand why it's an argument. Kids these days don't read Heinlein, and you know what? That's their privilege. Heinlein doesn't speak in any meaningful way to their concerns. (As a heavy teenaged Heinlein reader my own self, I, personally, am a little sadder that kids these days don't read Zelazny, Le Guin, Delany, and Bradbury, because I think they'd have more to offer that's relevant, including less tiresome pontificating--as well as a larger serving of actual writing chops--but I also suspect that the people now sadly bewailing the long slide of Heinlein out of the canon of indispensable authors got a ration in their own youths about being insufficiently invested in E.E. "Doc" Smith. Though I also suspect the generation gap was less, for reasons I will explore below.)

Back in the dim mists of history, about ten years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the internet and Livejournal was where the cool kids hung out, I used to get into arguments with certain people who opined that there were no young SFF writers. I would present them with a list of SF writers under 35 (myself included) only to be told that they meant writers under thirty, or maybe twenty-five, and that those writers didn't count because they weren't "Hard SF Writers" (whatever the hell that means), and because they weren't being published in Asimov's and Strange Horizons (still one of the bastions of young writerdom in the SF world) didn't count.

And when I pointed out in return that Asimov's was a hard market to crack (it seems more welcoming to new writers these days), and that literary and craft standards are higher now than they were in 1940 and correspondingly it takes longer to develop a professional skillset--and that maybe the problem was that my correspondents weren't reading the markets that were publishing the young writers, I would generally find myself greeted with the wail, "Where are the Bob Silverbergs?" (Or, from slightly younger handwringers over the Incipient Death of SFF, "Where are the Neil Gaimans?!")

Way to shift a goalpoast, honey.

Because we get more than two or three prodigy geniuses in a generation. And because we can identify them from the scrum of young writers when everybody is not-quite-thirtyish and shooting rockets of possibility everywhere.

Well, I'm older now, and I'm feeling pretty safe in saying that (among many others) Scott Lynch, Seanan McGuire, and Catherynne Valente (All still only in their mid-thirties, ten years later--hell, I think Seanan wasn't even a thing yet when I was still bothering to get in these fights) have some staying power. Also, today is Sam Sykes' 30th birthday, and Max Gladstone just turned thirty last month. Happy birthday, Sam and Max.

It finally dawned on me that the people I was arguing with could not be convinced, and their opinions didn't matter anyway. The best of them, I think, were arguing out of nostalgia. They wanted stories by young writers that would make them feel the way the young Silverberg's stories made them feel when they were twenty. And that's not going to happen, frankly, because they aren't twenty anymore, and because my then-peers (and the writers who are now the generation* after me, to whom I feel an obligation as older colleague now, and how the hell did that happen?) aren't writing out of the concerns that were current and pressing in 1956.

The worst of them weren't willing to accept this new generation of writers because the lists of names I kept handing them were full of female, queer, and person of color names. Because that is what my generation of SFF writers looks like, in large part.

This was around the same time that I got into a certain amount of trouble by pointing out that many of my age-group peers don't read newer work by our older colleagues, and the older colleagues often don't read us at all. Which wasn't meant as a value judgment, but it seemed like one to many people, and no less a light that Bob Silverberg took me to task for it. (There he is again.  And as a certain recent publication of mine may seem to indicate, I have been, am, and remain a fan.)

But my point then stands: there is no due diligence to be a fan. And trying to force fans to consume stuff that doesn't speak to them is, well, pointless and alienating and will only drive them away.

I do feel like the standard is a little more exacting for professionals in the field--writers and critics owe it to ourselves to have a foundation in the history of the genre. But I will be the first to say that that is our own responsibility, and our choice, and how we handle our own professional development is our own lookout. I'm going to tend to give more weight to the opinions of a critic who demonstrates herself to be knowledgeable and well-read--but that also means being well-read among current writers, and I'm afraid we probably have as many critics in the field who judge everything against the standard of Poul Anderson as we do critics who haven't read very much published before 1990.

(1990 was twenty-four years ago, by the way, for people my age and older. Just a little bullet of perspective there. When I was a freshman in high school, the equivalent year would have been 1961.)

So I fully encourage people who want to develop a sense of the history of the genre to go back and read, say, Fritz Leiber. Hell, I regularly read Fritz Leiber, and I'm hugely fond of his work. Not in the least, because Fafhrd is a great big fluffy feminist. (Mouser is friendzoned forever though; man, what a douchecanoe.) But even with Leiber, who wrote strong female characters with agendas and agency, I have to keep myself firmly in rein sometimes and remember that he was writing for a predominately white heterosexual male audience that was un-accepting of seeing anybody else placed in the role of protagonist. The white dude always has to save the day, no matter how cool everybody else is. And he usually has to get laid along the way.

And you know, if you don't want to read that, who the hell am I to tell you otherwise?

Which leads me to a point about privilege, before I end this rambling dissertation and go for a nice long run before it gets too hot outside. I too-often see (almost always white, almost always male) commentors and bloggers saying that they don't have a problem reading books in which the protagonists are aliens, or elves, or women, or black people--so why is these so much fuss about the need for diversity and representation in literature? Isn't it about getting out of your own skin and seeing somebody else's point of view?

Other people have tackled this far more in depth than I have time or patience for, but I'm going to take a swing.

It's easy to say that when one has never found one's self in a position of being disenfranchised and erased. When one has that safety of an entire world that considers you the default to return to. When what one is is assumed to be normal and comfortable.

All I can think is that somebody who says he's not worried about representation has never found himself placed constantly in an object position, which is, quite frankly, unpersoning. He's never been told over and over again that he exists only as an accessory to somebody else's story.

Stories are important. Stories are the mechanism that our pattern-making brains use as an engine to understand the world. And our stories need to show all people that they have an important place in that world, and that they are the heroes of their own narratives, not the color in somebody else's.

And I think writers with privilege in any given situation--be it gender, gender presentation, sexuality, race, class, ableness, what-have-you--have the responsibility to make space in our work for readers who do not have those privileges. And I also think that we have the even more important responsibility to make space for the actual voices of other writers who come from different backgrounds, and that the onus upon us to read widely is even more important when talking about writers of our own generation who come from less-widely-represented backgrounds than it is when talking about writers from the depths of the 1930s.

Everybody deserves stories.

And to anyone who is tempted to argue with me on that point: Hey. Isn't it about getting out of your own skin and seeing somebody else's point of view?

*writer generations are a funny thing. They go by publication date rather than chronological age. Which makes me the same writer-age, roughly, as Scott Lynch and as Peter Watts, even though there's about a sixteen-year spread on our physical ages.

(Comments are screened, because I'm going for a run and I have better things to do.)

May. 9th, 2014

writing plot octopus

the kids of tomorrow don't need today

A cool thing came in the mail today, which is to say, my Random House royalty statements. Royalty statements are kind of fascinating, not just because it's how I get paid, but because I can do things like watch the market share of ebooks burgeon over time. Or that mysterious thing where book two of a series sells fewer copies than either book one or three. (How does that even work?)

This was a particular good batch of royalty statements, though, because it came with the news that, nearly nine years to the day after it was published, Scardown has sold through its advance. (Hammered sold through much much more quickly, but it was my first novel and it had a lower advance--and frankly, better early sales.)


These books did super-well for first novels. They won me a Campbell (not a Hugo) award, and they also collectively as a trilogy (since they were all published in the same year) won the Locus award for best first novel. Hammered is in its fifth printing, the last time I checked.

For those of you who have joined me in the years since they were published, the Jenny Casey series concerns the adventures of Canadian Master Warrant Officer (Ret.) Genevieve Marie Casey, a foulmouthed fiftyish disabled vet who is seriously out of fucks to give, in a post-climate change future in which I anticipated smartphones but made the mistake of using mid-line 2002 predictions of what we could expect in terms of global warming effects.

Jenny still has my favorite voice of any character I've ever written. There are spies, badass older women, teenage girls who think they know how to save the world, morally ambiguous antagonists, space travel, perfect storms, an A.I. who thinks he's Richard Feynman, a loving homage to Jonesy the Cat, and my warning shot across the bow to anybody who thinks any of my characters might ever have plot immunity.

Still, talk about a slow burn, right? January 2015 will be Hammered's 10th anniversary, and all three books were published in the same year--2005. They'd be in fifth grade, if they were people. How does that even happen?

The thing that made me laugh out loud and text my friends, though, was that I have learned that Worldwired is $58.11 (fifty-eight dollars and eleven cents) from earning out its advance.

That's approximately a hundred (100) copies at mass market paperback rates.

And so I would like, in a completely self-serving fashion, to remark that the entire series makes a great gift*!

*for any of your cyberpunk, near-future thriller, or military-SF-loving friends.
criminal minds diana reid crazy

brace yourself for elimination

So, first things first. I'll be at Annie's Book Stop in Worcester tomorrow (10 May 2014) signing Steles of the Sky and other things, reading stuff, answering questions, and hanging out. I'd love to see some of you there!

But that's not what I came to talk to you about today.

I came to you today to talk about characters.

And something I've been figuring out for the past couple of weeks, which is the thing that makes good characters--at least for me--and why I find a lot of characterizations to be flat and two-dimensional.

Shadow Unit is part of what taught me this, actually, and working with a fistful of other writers who all have slightly different concepts of who these people are. This creates characters with complexity and depth, who have different aspects when squinted at from different angles.

A lot of characters I encounter, well--they're too damned consistent. If they're competent, they're good at everything. If they're goofy, they're never serious, even when it would make sense. They only have one defining trait or hook, and because of that they always exhibit that single trait.

Real people don't work that way. We're messy. But we're messy with patterns; we're messy but we have tracks we fall into. Things that we reliably like or dislike. Buttons that can be pushed.

But we're still surprising, and we have a lot more than 64 facets.
criminal minds garcia plan b

now dance fucker dance man he never had a chance

So, it's true. The penultimate episode of Shadow Unit, "Asylum," (by Chelsea Polk and also me) is in final edits, and we're hard at work on the final episode of the best horror/S.F./cop TV show that never was: "Something's Gotta Eat T. rexes."


Emma, Will, Leah, Amanda, Chelsea, Sarah, Holly, Stephen, Lauren, Kyle, and I have been working on this show in varying capacities since (in most cases) 2007. And here we are, at the finish line, seven years later. With five "seasons" of a virtual T.V. show under our belt, and (based on ebook sales) thousands of satisfied or at least pissed-off fans.

Well, we have a special treat for the series finale. Not only is this going to be what I believe the Hollywood types call "explosive," (heh. Heh. Heh heh heh.) but we have a Special Guest Writer joining Emma and I to pen it.

It's somebody I've wanted to work with for a long time, and I am kind of beside myself with squeee about how awesome thing is going to be.

But I'm not going to tell you yet who it is. Because I'm an asshole, and I'm going to give everybody the weekend to think it over.

Here's your hint: "Full House."

*snickers up sleeve*

Yeah. This is going to be fun.

May. 5th, 2014

bad girls  mae west

open season on the open seas

I come bearing reprint news! The hits keep coming!

Check out this awesome pile of books!

(Not pictured: Magic City: Recent Spells, edited by Paula Guran. Also, Notice how subtly I slip a plug for the Dozois/Martin edited Rogues in there, seeing as how my boyfriend has a story in it. Or possibly I'm just gloating over having scored an ARC.

Armageddon Rag is in the pile because I happen to be reading it currently.)

If you have a shortage of stuff to read, I can offer two (2) reprint stories in anthologies, a translation, and an essay to go with two (2) new stories in anthologies (as previously discussed) also coming out very shortly.

First off, a Swedish translation of "The Ghost Makers" is forthcoming in the online zine Einhorningen. I'm looking forward to that! Also, my essay "Dear Science Fiction, I'm Glad We Had This Talk," is being reprinted in the anthology Far Orbit, edited by Bascomb James. 

And! But! Also!

Here are a couple more ToCs to pique your interest.

Table of Contents (authors in alphabetical order):

“Paranormal Romance,” Christopher Barzak
“The Slaughtered Lamb,” Elizabeth Bear
“The Land of Heart’s Desire,” Holly Black
“Seeing Eye,” Patricia Briggs
“De la Tierra,” Emma Bull
“Curses,” Jim Butcher
“Dog Boys,” Charles de Lint
“Snake Charmer,” Amanda Downum
“Street Wizard,” Simon R. Green
“-30-,” Caitlín R. Kiernan
“Stone Man,”
Nancy Kress “Pearlywhite”
Mark Laidlaw & John Shirley
“In the Stacks,” Scott Lynch
“Spellcaster 2.0,” Jonathan Maberry
“Kabu Kabu,” Nnedi Okorafor
“Stray Magic,” Diana Peterfreund
“The Woman Who Walked with Dogs,” Mary Rosenblum”
“Wallamelon,” Nisi Shawl “Grand Central Park,” Delia Sherman
“Words,” Angela Slatter
“Alchemy,” Lucy Sussex
“A Voice Like a Hole,” Catherynne M. Valente
“The Arcane Art of Misdirection,” Carrie Vaughn
“Thief of Precious Things,” A.C. Wise

Table of Contents:

"Only the End of the World Again" by Neil Gaiman
"The Bleeding Shadow" by Joe R. Lansdale
"Love is Forbidden, We Croak & Howl" by Caitlín R. Kiernan
"Bulldozer" by Laird Barron
"A Quarter to Three" by Kim Newman
"Inelastic Collisions" by Elizabeth Bear
"That of Which We Speak When We Speak of the Unspeakable" by Nick Mamatas
"Red Goat Black Goat" by Nadia Bulkin
"Jar of Salts" and "Haruspicy" by Gemma Files
"Black is the Pit From Pole to Pole" by Howard Waldrop and Steven Utley
"I've Come to Speak with You Again" by Karl Edward Wagner
"The Sect of the Idiot" by Thomas Ligotti
"The Dappled Things" by William Browning Spencer
"The Same Deep Waters as You" by Brian Hodge
"Remnants" by Fred Chappell
"Waiting at the Cross Roads" by Steve Rasnic Tem
"Children of the Fang" by John Langan
ace the wonder dog

my dog is a muppet rock star.

Ace got his clip today. He's as happy to be naked as any three-year-old.

Here's what came off of him:

Apr. 29th, 2014

can't sleep books will eat me

just a pinch between your cheek and gum

I'm at Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing, being interviewicated! They're also giving away a complete set of the Eternal Sky books.

I'll be at Mo*Con in Indianapolis this weekend! And signing at both Pandemonium in Cambridge, MA and Annie's Book Stop in Worcester, MA the week after.

So without further ado, here's my current honeydew list.

travel and appearances 2014:

January 10th at 6 pm: MIT SFS: Cambridge, Massachusetts (with Scott)
February 13-15, 2014: Boskone: Boston, Massachusetts

March 14-16, 2014: Tucson Festival of Books: Tucson, Arizona
March 22-24, 2014: Vericon: Harvard Univerity, Cambridge Massachusetts

April 17-20, 2014: Minicon: Minneapolis, Minnesota
April 25-27th, 2014: RavenCon: North Chesterfield, Virginia (Guest of Honor)
May 1-5, 2014: Mo*Con: Indianapolis, Indiana (Guest of Honor with Scott)\
May 8, 2014: Signing,  Pandemonium Books, Cambridge, Massachusetts 7-9 pm
May 10, 2014: Signing, Annie's Book Stop, Worcester, Massachusetts 3-5 PM
June 5-9, 2014: Phoenix Comicon: Phoenix, Arizona (Guest of Honor with Squeecast)

June 20-23, 2014: 4th Street Fantasy: Minneapolis, Minnesota
July 3-7, 2014: ConVergence: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Scandinavian Micro-Tour!
July 11-13, 2014: Finncon: Jyväskylä, Finland (Guest of Honor with special guest Scott Lynch)
Then between July 16th and 22nd, Scott and I will be visiting

  • SF Bokhandeln Stockholm (July 16th)

  • SF Bokhandeln Gothenberg (July 18th)

  • SF Bokhandeln Malmo (July 19th)

  • Fantastik Copenhagen (July 21st)

August 8-10, 2014: Nine Worlds, London, England
August 14-17, 2014: Worldcon: London, England
October 9-10, 2014: NYC ComiCon, New York, New York (Thursday and Friday only!)
October 31-November 2, 2014: ICON: Iowa City, Iowa (Guest of Honor with Scott)
November 14-16, 2014: Windycon: Lombard, Illinois (Guest of Honor with Squeecast)

Honeydew list!


Karen Memory: 31 January 2014 (tick tock)
OWW review: 15 February 2014
Cyborg story: 28 February 2014
Sekrit project: February 2014
Book proposal: Eternal Sky 4-6
Sekrit Projekt #2
Revise Karen Memory: 1 April 2014
OWW review: 15 March 2014
"This Chance Planet": 31 March 2014
OWW review: 15 April 2014
Flash fiction: 15 April 2014
"Asylym": 1 May 2014
"Something's Gotta Eat T. rexes": 1 June 2014
Karen Memory copy edits: 3 July 2014
Chimera poem: 1 June 2014

Apocalypse story: 30 June 2014
Storium World: 15 July 2014
"A Time to Reap": 1 August 2014
An Apprentice to Elves: Autumn 2014
Other apocalypse story:  31 December 2014
"Flush": 2014?
"Steel": 2014

Award reading and judging
Other award reading and judging


Eternal Sky #4
Ancestral Night
Eternal Sky #5
Untitled Space Opera
Eternal Sky #6

No fixed deadline:

Bard troll story

(unless its name is actually Salt Water)
Unsuitable Metal
Untitled Gangland Urban Fantasy That Keeps Bugging Me
"Untitled Space Opera Thingy" aka "Periastron"
"Posthumous Jonson"
"On Safari in R'lyeh and Carcosa with Gun and Camera"
"Patience and Fortitude"


Apr. 25th, 2014

wicked fairy bowie

but if memories were all i sang i'd rather drive a truck.

Tyop du jour:  "Alfgyfa had often wanted to put a wicket over one of them to judge height, as you might with a hunting god."

Apr. 23rd, 2014

rengeek player king

if you gotta play at garden parties i wish you a lotta luck.

I bring you publications and stuff!

THE BOOK OF SILVERBERG! Edited by Gardner Dozois and William Schaffer. Out next week. and full of stories and essays inspired by the work of Robert Silverberg. Including one by me!

Table of Contents

Greg Bear—A Tribute
Barry Malzberg—An Appreciation
Kage Baker—In Old Pidruid
Kristine Kathryn Rusch—Voyeuristic Tendencies
Mike Resnick—Bad News from the Vatican
Caitlin R.Kiernan—The Jetsam of Disremembered Mechanics
Connie Willis—Silverberg, Satan, and Me…
Elizabeth Bear—The Hand is Quicker
Nancy Kress—Eaters
James Patrick Kelly—The Chimp of the Popes
Tobias S. Buckell—Ambassador to the Dinosaurs

Publishers Weekly liked it a lot, and gave it a review which included the following: "Standouts include Mike Resnick’s “Bad News from the Vatican,” which follows up on the idea of a robot pope, and Elizabeth Bear’s “The Hand Is Quicker” which explores the nature of addiction and perception in a society obsessed with virtual reality." 

Lois Tilton at Locus reviewed it positively and says of my story, "...cynical move worthy of the master at his most depressing." (I have just been compared to Robert Silverberg and not found wanting. This is a career highlight.)

And Library Journal says, “Standouts include Connie Willis’s adorably weird ‘Silverberg, Satan, and Me or Where I Got the Idea for My Silverberg Story for this Anthology’ and Elizabeth Bear’s bleak future of false facades ‘The Hand is Quicker.’ …These stories will resonate most with readers familiar with Silverberg’s work, often being playful riffs on his famous stories or novels, but the tales can be enjoyed on their own merits as well.” [full review not available online]

Well done us, I'd say. It's available April 30th.

Also out soon--May 13th!--is DEAD MAN'S HAND, an anthology of Weird West tales edited by John Joseph Adams.

Table of Contents:

Introduction—John Joseph Adams
The Red-Headed Dead—Joe R. Lansdale
The Old Slow Man and His Gold Gun From Space—Ben H. Winters
Hellfire on the High Frontier—David Farland
The Hell-Bound Stagecoach—Mike Resnick
Stingers and Strangers—Seanan McGuire
Bookkeeper, Narrator, Gunslinger—Charles Yu
Holy Jingle—Alan Dean Foster
The Man With No Heart—Beth Revis
Wrecking Party—Alastair Reynolds
Hell from the East—Hugh Howey
Second Hand—Rajan Khanna
Alvin and the Apple Tree—Orson Scott Card
Madam Damnable’s Sewing Circle—Elizabeth Bear
Strong Medicine—Tad Williams
Red Dreams—Jonathan Maberry
Bamboozled—Kelley Armstrong
Sundown—Tobias S. Buckell
La Madre Del Oro—Jeffrey Ford
What I Assume You Shall Assume—Ken Liu
The Devil’s Jack—Laura Anne Gilman
The Golden Age—Walter Jon Williams
Neversleeps—Fred Van Lente
Dead Man’s Hand—Christie Yant

This includes my story "Madame Damnable's Sewing Circle," the seed that eventually grew into Karen Memory (out from Tor next year). So if you'd like a little foretaste of that--and tastes of the Weird West from all these other wonderful writers--here's a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

Publishers' Weekly is equally complimentary of this one, and calls my contribution "impeccably crafted." They've also got me gagging to read the Lansdale, Liu, and Williams contributions.


Apr. 21st, 2014

comics invisibles lord fanny

and it's such a bloody drag to have to rebuild civilization all over again

What writers get up to when we're supposed to be encouraging each other to work...

stillsostrange: Can I still say "sullen red light" or is that overused?
fadethecat: It doesn’t strike me as cliche.
fadethecat: Though it might depend on context.
matociquala: It might be overused.
matociquala: Why is the light always sullen?
stillsostrange: Alternative?
matociquala: Why never morose?
stillsostrange: Heh
stillsostrange: Because it's grumpy.
fadethecat: Grouchy?
fadethecat: It could be a grumpy red light.
fadethecat: That would not seem cliche at all.
fadethecat: Misanthropic red light.
matociquala: A hangry red light
fadethecat: I would fear the hangry red light.
matociquala: We all would.
stillsostrange: heeee
matociquala: Crabby red light. Put-upon orange light
stillsostrange: ARGH
fadethecat: Contumacious purple light.
stillsostrange: Oh. The light could be purple.
stillsostrange: But then it can't be bruised.
matociquala: welted?
stillsostrange: Inflamed?
matociquala: a purple and red light suffering from cellulitis and blood poisoning.
stillsostrange: No wonder it's sullen.

Apr. 16th, 2014

always winter

now i'm calling all citizens from all over the world, this is captain america calling

It's snowing.

I guess this is going to be a thing now.

Heya, Jadis.

In other news, why hasn't the Internet made me a Captain America: The Winter Soldier fan vid to this yet?


Apr. 15th, 2014

writing patience

you must take the a train to go to sugar hill

I just invented a cocktail name, and it was so good I had to invent a cocktail to go with it.

It's a Manhattan variant--specifically, a variant of the Manhattanhenge, also known as a Black Manhattan, in which Amaro is substituted for vermouth. This uses bourbon in place of the traditional rye, because that boy I like prefers bourbon.

I like bourbon too, as it happens.

It's my reward for a stupidly productive two days.

I call this, "Persephone Takes the A Train," and it's in honor of the Storium kickstarter and my Jazz Age/Harlem Renaissance jazzpunk stretch goal.

2 parts bourbon (decent bourbon, please)
1 part Amaro
1 part grenadine (make and use real grenadine, which is just pomegranate juice cooked with an equal weight of sugar to make a syrup. If you use that corn syrup and red dye #5 shit, Persephone is going to look you in the eye and go right back to her mama.)
2 dashes orange bitters (Bitter Truth makes a lovely orange cardamom one that works well)
half a clementine or mandarin orange

Put the bourbon, Amaro, grenadine, and bitters in a lowball glass. Swirl to mix. Squeeze half a clementine into the glass and then drop the crushed fruit in so the peel oils infuse the drink.

Add a little ice.

Enjoy in a leisurely fashion while reading Langston Hughes and listening to Ella Fitzgerald.

I'll start.

phil ochs troubador

we don't need luck. we've got guns.

The awesome news just keeps on coming.

1) I just sold my Moscow metro dog story, "This Chance Planet," to Ellen Datlow at Tor.com. No word yet on when you can read it, but soon, my lovelies. Soooon.

2) Zombies, Run! Season three kicks off tomorrow, April 16th. I wrote a story for it! So did Janni Lee Simner! So did some other folks you might know. Ahem.

3) Here I am at Mary Robinette Kowal's blog talking about My Favorite Bit of Steles of the Sky.

4) I'm a stretch goal for the Storium kickstarter. This is an awesome online interactive storytelling/roleplaying engine with a variety of settings. I'm providing jazzpunk.

5) timprov's War for the Oaks reader project book kickstarter. Awesome photos of awesome people reading an awesome book in an awesome city.

Apr. 12th, 2014

bear by san

if i fuck it up, that's cool. that's art.

This is shameless shilling post where I urge you, Citizen In Good Standing Of The Internets, to go vote for the Locus Award and the Gemmell Award.

Possibly even for my work.

Or for somebody else's work that you think is awesome.

The Gemmell Award closes at midnight GMT, 13 April 2014, and you can vote here.

The Locus Award closes on tax day (USA) and you can vote here. I'm a write-in candidate on this one.

The future is in your hands.

Go vote.
spies mfu bolsheviks _ naominovik

you think i want to be understood

Hey look, here I am being interviewed by Geek's Guide to the Galaxy--about worldbuilding, the Eternal Sky, and, er, being wrong.

Now to get some words, and do another interview.

Apr. 11th, 2014

criminal minds bad shirt brigade

is your whole life in there waiting?

Coming this fall to CBS…

He can solve crimes no one else can. He can see into the minds of criminals. He’s not like you or me. He’s infallible. He never loses. He’s haunted by the ghosts of a tragic past. 

When the police are baffled… they call…


He’s the only smart man in a world full of idiots.

Evil idiots.



Apr. 10th, 2014

bear by san

i watched those headlights turn to moonlight and finally i was running by myself

Spin, pretty hype machine! SPIIIN!

*waves coal-dust-blackened hands and capers*
*goes back to shoveling*

More links and reviews and interviews and guest blogs and news! It's BOOK WEEK*!

Clink on the pretty picture for an excerpt of the novel at Tor.com!

First of all: here I am interviewed at the blog of Hugo-award nominated Apex Publications by the inimitable Fran Wilde. This interview has some more details about The Lotus Kingdoms and also about Ancestral Night, and also a bit of information about The Republic of Elves** I mean, An Apprentice to Elves, which is the long-delayed sequel to A Companion to Wolves.

It also has a book giveaway! Involving selfies and twitter hashtags. Ahem.

I'm talking some trash over at Terrible Minds, courtesy of the lovely and talented Chuck Wendig.

Paul Weimer reviews Steles of the Sky at the Hugo-award-winning fanzine SF Signal.

Victoria Frerichs at Romantic Times also liked it.

Aidan Moher is excited about the Lotus Kingdoms announcement.

Oh, and... my boyfriend said nice things about my book.

And, just to balance the karmic scales, I said a few nice things about Diane Duane over here.

And now, time to eat some lunch and write some elves. Wolves. Both, really.

*It's like storming Normandy, only without the machine guns and Rommel's asparagus.
**Scott totally came up with that, so I don't feel bad using it.

Apr. 8th, 2014

writing steles burning

i'm going to die if you touch me one more time. well, i guess i'm going to die no matter what.

It's book day!


Today is Steles of the Sky's birthday, and I'm so excited I may be having heart flutters over here. There's something about the long setup on a series, and the eventual payoff, that... okay, so when I used to run tabletop RPGs a lot more than I have time for now, there was this moment when my players always knew they'd stumbled on The Awful Troof--cracked the campaign wide open, basically, and found the central mystery and aw-hell moment.

Because I would start grinning this particular delighted maniacal grin.

The great joy for me as a storyteller is the moment when the person I'm telling the story to figures out what's up. And I have been just dying to tell everybody the rest of this story for years now.

So you can imagine how excited I currently am.


In celebration of the day, there's GUEST POSTS!

Here's a post at SF Signal on writing special-needs characters in SFF.

Here's a post at the Locus blog regarding noveling as an argument with one's self.

And here's my Big Idea post at the Whatever, where my second Item of News for the week is revealed.

News! Awesome news!

Apr. 7th, 2014

criminal minds rossi tv

i was hell bent on agony back then and so i missed the boat

This is going to be a big week here in Bearland, and it's not just about Steles of the Sky dropping tomorrow.

I have a couple of exciting bits of news. The second will be over at Whatever tomorrow, buried at the bottom of a Big Idea post. The first, however, is that I can now tell you what one of the sekrit projekts I was working on earlier this year was.

That's right. I wrote a script for Zombies, Run! season 3. I'm so stupidly excited about this, and now I get to tell you!

As I've mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of the game--which involves fleeing zombies and chasing a very cool narrative while you get your daily exercise--and when Naomi Alderman and Six to Start approached me to see if I'd be interested in doing a script, I about melted from the sheer force of my compressed squee.

And I had so much fun writing it, you guys. The thing I love about scripts and existing characters is the sheer opportunity to write snark and banter, and this was like getting paid to write fanfic for a property I adore. (And getting plot hints, too, since I needed to know something about where the story was going to work, obviously.)

But I couldn't talk about it until, well, now. BUT NOW IT CAN BE TOLD.

Squee! Squee! Squee!

Season 3 rolls out a little later this month, and my episode is #38: "We're Needed." But that does mean, if you haven't been playing, there's about a hundred hours of content already available in Seasons 1 & 2.

Really good content, with awesome characters and an diverse cast and Real Big Feels. (Try sobbing while jogging sometime. It's hard.) Also, it turns out running from zombies is an awesome way to beat your usual interval time.

You don't actually have to run to play the game--it works while walking, or skateboarding, or bicycling (careful with that--requires headphones), or wheeling in your wheelchair, if that's how you roll. It works on a treadmill or elliptical. And it works with whatever music you usually work out to--the game is designed to integrate with existing playlists. (Though my copy has problems with really long playlists, so I broke my workout mix into a bunch of shorter groupings.)


But, you know, while I'm here... Steles of the Sky is dropping tomorrow!



Barnes and Noble * Amazon * Audible * Powell's * Amazon UK * Mysterious Galaxy 

(For crying out loud, buy it for the art, even if you don't like me. That's Donato Giancola and Ellisa Mitchell. It doesn't get any better than that.)

Apr. 5th, 2014

spies i spy ispy

i can't grow up because i'm too old now.

Well, I am experiencing cautious optimism on the Iskryne front. We have 22,000 words, and a good idea of where everything is going. Now we just have to engineer some culture clashes, a war, some gender bias, a little family tension, character growth, awkward love, and a couple of brilliant deductions and we'll have a novel.

Piece of cake.

Apr. 1st, 2014

problem cat

the moste piteous reveng of cat vs. monkey

This is Microsoft Cat. He is my stepcat. He belongs to my boyfriend.

Here is how my morning went:

6:00 am: 

MONKEY: What the fuck, cat?
Monkey: The sky might be a little bit grey.
MONKEY: Cat, I will finish you.
MICROSOFT CAT: *digs under covers, wet noses in ears, general tromping and tickling*

6:30 am:

FITBIT ALARM: *buzzes*
MICROSOFT CAT: It looks like you're trying to get out of bed! I HEPS!
MICROSOFT CAT: *settles down cozily and purrs, emitting sleepions.*
MONKEY: Motherfucker.

Mar. 30th, 2014

criminal minds morgan pretty/funny

they say you don't look. they say there's only one way on back from here.

Just sent "This Chance Planet" off to an editor.

Guys, I am so smug about this story.




Mar. 27th, 2014

hustle mickey worrying

it's the principal source of his revenue

I'm seven chapters into Max Gladstone's Full Fathom Five.

This motherfucker isn't even thirty yet, and he's writing like this?

I'm having him killed. 

There's your blurb, Max: "I'm having Max Gladstone killed. He's too good already to be allowed to live. If this is early work, the rest of us are out of a job."

He writes like a bitter fifty-year-old poet with a sense of narrative, and I mean that as the highest praise.

The Craft Sequence books are all about ancient necromancers in charge of corporations; liches running litigation; court battles fought by means of sorcerous contests; deities dueling by means of legal proxies and stock trading souls.

It's fantasy as a metaphor for the full metastatic flower of late-stage capitalism, and it's both vicious satire and totally engaging adventure all at once.

The book comes out in July, so you just about have time to score and read the first two, Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise.

Mar. 26th, 2014

evile overbear

stuff that actually works (an occasional series.)

TW: mild body horror. :-P

Well, I cut heck out of my left index finger yesterday (sliced a third of the way through the nail and got a good bit of meat, too. Poor knife control. Chaz would be disappointed in me.).

And I know I've mentioned it before, but these hydrocolloid bandages are a superior technology. Go on, stay on, keep wound clean and sealed. They even seem to mitigate the pain my keeping the wound closed and applying a little bit of pressure.

One just need to keep them dry and covered, so they don't abrade and get icky and snag at the edges, or melt off. I'm using a combination of vet-wrap and a nitrile glove, as-needed.

Guess I won't be going climbing tomorrow. D'oh. 

Mar. 24th, 2014

bad girls marlene make my day

you think you're putting pressure on me. this is a vacuum.

Productivity is nice, and I seem to have some.

I'm back to chipping away at An Apprentice to Elves, which is the next enormous project on my to-do list. I've gotten the first two chapters cleaned up and new material written, and started on chapter 3.

Hopefully, I'll be able to keep some momentum going.

I'm feeling good about this whole writing thing this year. For once, I seem to be roughly in the same place with regard to skill as an editor and skill as a writer, so I don't feel as if every word I put down is terrible.

I hope this lasts for a little while...

10000 / 100000 words. 10% done!

Mar. 21st, 2014

ace the wonder dog

i heard they put you on the stage. ancient greed and childish rage.

I have successfully completed a draft of a short story: the Moscow metro dog organlegging story.

It needs some work, but a draft is a nice thing to have. I'm having a really nicely productive year so far. I'd like to keep this up.

Now I'm going to eat something, and then I'm off to Vericon!

I bring you germs from Tucson, Boston!

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