What are you reading?

Travel day!

I’m reading Sherwood Smith’s Banner of the Damned, still in manuscript. I’m reading to make comments. Smith’s writing in this novel shows a writer at the height of her powers: beautiful prose plus a bone deep understanding of the cultures through which her characters travel. A novel like this one could be required reading in world building. I believe it’s due for publication in 2012.

Because reading to comment (beta-reading) is a different kettle of fish from reading for pleasure, I’m also reading J. Damask’s  Wolf At The Door (urban fantasy set in Singapore by a Singaporean writer) and Noble Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee’s memoir (with Carol Mithers) Mighty Be Our Powers.


What are you reading? And why?

WFC, a signing & meetup in San Diego, Cold Steel

I’m going to be in San Diego next week for World Fantasy Convention (Oct 27 – 30).

#1  If you’re in the area, I will be at the Open House at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego on Wed 26 Oct from 630 – 830 pm.

This open house is not a WFC convention event. Anyone can attend, & bring books to be signed (do check the policy for how many books you can bring into the store since there will be a number of authors attending and they need to expedite the process). As always, it helps independent bookstores to survive in a difficult economy if you buy a book there as well, but it is not required.

I will have copies of the paper pamphlet version of the Bonus Chapter from COLD FIRE to sign and give away. (Also at the WFC autographing session, mentioned below, and the meetup.)

#2  I am also scheduling a meetup at 3:30 pm on Friday 28 October. Meet outside the Sunshine Deli on the grounds of the WFC hotel, the Town and Country. This is an informal meetup for whomever shows up, and I don’t expect there to be more than a couple people, so it’s really a chance to visit (as compared to the open house at Mysterious Galaxy, which will be crowded). I’ll answer questions, maybe read a snippet from Cold Steel, and we’ll talk writing and books (I’ll sign books if you bring them). This is not a convention event; if you’re in the area and want to come by, just do so (no badge necessary).

#3 My WFC Schedule:

I have one panel: 1 pm Friday 28 October: The Crystal Ceiling: Women in Fantasy, with Charlaine Harris, Malinda Lo, Nancy Kilpatrick, & Jane Kindred. I’m not scheduled for a reading.

Like all authors, I’ll be attending the autographing on Friday night from 8 – 10 pm.


#4  As many if not all of you already know, Cold Fire was released last month in trade paperback and ebook (together with the bonus chapter), and Cold Magic is now available in mass market paperback and somewhat less expensive ebook.

A generous reader (from Spain!) has sent me a downloadable mobi version of the Bonus Chapter (done by her spouse) which I will make available soon, but it won’t be until next month just because of my schedule.

I haven’t forgotten about the Rory short story. It’s about 3/4rds done and will be announced here and on Twitter and Facebook when it’s complete.

I’m still at work on Cold Steel, and I will update about progress here when I have more to tell.

Also, a general thank you to my readers for your kind comments here, in email, and on Twitter & Facebook. I genuinely love hearing from you all. Writing is an oddly isolated and isolating activity, and I think it can seem at times that one is writing into a huge silence. Social media has begun to change that: There are good and bad sides to this: Online provides a terrible distraction when one is procrastinating or discouraged, but against that it is possible to interact more widely and all the way around the world. I think that is the coolest thing of all.

A Real Unreal Place: Sherwood Smith’s CORONETS AND STEEL and BLOOD SPIRITS

I love to read, and I particularly love to read novels that transport me to a place I normally could not go. This is one reason I read very little mainstream contemporary fiction or, indeed, much fiction at all set in the present day where I live. If I do read present-day-era fiction, it often contains what I’ll call a “genre” element, that is, something that sets it one or two or ten steps apart from “ordinary life” or, at least, the life I live in the USA.

Because another element I really love in novels is landscape: I enjoy visiting places I have never been or may never be able to go.

Sherwood Smith is one of my favorite world builders. Her Inda quadology is set in a secondary fantasy world (one not connected to this world) so fully imagined that I almost feel I have walked there. And that’s besides the well drawn characters and the complex, gripping plots.

In her Ruritanian fantasies CORONETS AND STEEL and BLOOD SPIRITS, Smith brings this same ability to fully create a thoroughly real unreal place in our world.

I’m not going to write up a plot synopsis; you can get that elsewhere, I don’t want to introduce spoilers, but mostly I’m no good at and dislike writing up plot synopses whether of my own work or someone else’s. It’s a skill I don’t really have. Suffice to say that the main character and narrator, Kim, is a California girl who travels to a small, isolated Eastern/Central European principality. This principality does not actually exist (thus the Ruritanian aspect of the story) but after traveling to Dobrenica in Smith’s capable hands, one is sure it could.

Dobrenica feels so real that I believe I could buy a train ticket to go there or perhaps that I already had. In both summer and winter–although especially in winter–the city, landscape, cultural traditions, and history are so strikingly well defined that the country seems to be of a piece with European history while being entirely its own unique place. I breathed the winter air; the fountains and curious old local customs are both equally visible in my mind’s eye. The salon where Kim fences with people who may be her adversaries or may be her allies has as much heft and texture as if I had walked there myself.

And that is all besides the lovely story of lost princesses, secret history, vampires, political machinations, a thematic disquisition on the power and weight of duty and honor, and of course swordplay. Highly recommended.

Pregnancy & Childbirth in SFF

Over at Tor.com, Kate Nepveu has written an interesting post about depictions of pregnancy and childbirth in sff.


I’m not great at coming up with examples on the fly (it takes me a while to sort through the bookshelves of my mind), but if you have examples either from work you’ve read or work you’ve yourself written, please go over there (or mention here and I’ll post it there) about sff that has non cliched or unusual depictions of pregnancy and/or childbirth and which don’t rely on the same few common tropes.

Ask Questions Here

Periodically I like to open up a post specifically to invite people to ask me questions. They can be about anything, really, although I don’t guarantee to answer a question if I absolutely don’t want to . . .

I tend to answer the questions each in a separate post (as I tend to be long-winded).

Questions about the books, about characters, about writing, about outrigger canoe paddling, and so on are all welcome.

If you ask a question which could be construed to have spoilers, go ahead and ask, just FLAG it please for those readers who might prefer to avoid spoilers, forex (doesn’t need to follow this exact pattern):

My question (with SPOILERS) is about something that happens in Cold Fire (etc).


Finally, I hope to post a short review of Sherwood Smith’s duology Coronets & Steel, and Blood Spirits, this week, as well as an (overdue) installment of my Avatar: The Last Airbender watch. Next up is episode 7, I think. And I am thinking of running a contest as well because I got a box of books in.

Today’s report

Today I wrote about 2700 words on COLD STEEL. Not much detail to report although I’m not quite to the scene I’m desperately scrabbling toward. I hate that bit where you keep writing toward a specific moment and yet can’t quite get there, while meanwhile knowing that you’ll be cutting and revising most of the words you’re slapping down. But I don’t mean to complain: It’s moving forward.

I also heard last week that the Orbit UK division is reprinting COLD FIRE, so thanks to all you lot in the UK, Australia, NZ, and other points where that edition is sold. You are awesome!

Some people have asked if there will be a fourth Spiritwalker book or other novels set in this universe, but that will naturally depend on sales. Sales depend, of course, on people wanting to read a book and knowing that the book is out there.

Speaking of which, there are a couple of new books out I want to enthusiastically mention.

Michelle Sagara’s CAST IN RUIN is out, the next in her Chronicles of Elantra series. I love how these books are both similar to and quite different from her Hunter’s Universe books (which is what I call them, since the sequence starts with HUNTER’S OATH).

David Anthony Durham completes his Acacia Trilogy with THE SACRED BAND, released today. This is a fine epic fantasy story with heft, depth, and powerful characterizations.

Not quite out yet but arriving at the end of the month is Madeleine Robins’ THE SLEEPING PARTNER, the next in her alternate Regency England mystery series featuring Sarah Tolerance. I gulped this down in three evenings while on the road. A really engaging style, a compelling plot, and I adore Miss Tolerance.

N.K. Jemisin’s KINGDOM OF GODS is evidently shipping now although not officially due until later in the month. I read this as a beta reader, and I just want to say that it is a provocative choice of point of view character, which she totally pulls off. Another final volume in a trilogy. I expect this to be on many awards ballots next year.

ETA: Another trilogy finale! On Oct 18, Laura Anne Gilman’s THE SHATTERED VINE closes up The Vineart War. I haven’t read book 3 yet, but this is an unusual and powerfully drawn world with lots of interest to say about power, faith, and — of course — wine.

It’s late, and I’m missing a couple of titles I wanted to mention, but I’ll catch up with them later. Or you can tell me about what you’re reading right now that’s caught your interest.

News & Appearances (San Diego)

First, a question: How many of you subscribe to author (email or online) newsletters? Do you like them? Think they’re useful? Have other thoughts on them? If you’re a writer who has one, how is it working for you?


1) The bonus chapter for COLD FIRE is available on the Extras page on this site (on my WordPress site, for those reading this on livejournal).

2) I will be attending World Fantasy Convention in San Diego October 27 – 30 this year.

Additionally, I will be part of the Open House (signing) at Mysterious Galaxy Books (San Diego) on Wednesday 26 October from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. You do not have to be a member of the convention to attend. I will have paper-pamphlet copies of the bonus chapter at that event AND at WFC, which I am more than willing to sign and hand over to you.

IF you don’t live in the area or can’t attend, AND you want a signed copy of COLD FIRE (with the bonus chapter included) OR any of my other books, for that matter, I believe you can preorder such a thing through Mysterious Galaxy and they’ll have me sign it there.

Because I’ll be at WFC, I can sign books in the dealers’ room there as well, so you could theoretically contact Borderlands Books or Larry Smith, Bookseller with the same request. They both do mail order.

3) I am working on COLD STEEL. It’s been an extremely difficult book to write, but I am pressing forward in my stubborn way although not without a fair degree of whining to certain of my compatriots who are patient enough to listen.

4) I’m actually fairly close to being done with the Rory short story. Keep bugging me about it. That helps. Or at least it makes me feel even more guilty than I usually do. If I get a reading slot at WFC, I will consider debuting the story there.