Maps (and miscellaneous)

1) Thank you to all who offered recommendations for light, humorous reading material. It is much appreciated. I’m going to get a selection of things and then see what sticks. Should be fun.

2) The winner of the copy of THE SHADOWED SUN by N.K. Jemisin was Kate P from the UK. Congrats!

3) There is a map of Europa in Cold Magic, and a map of North Amerike and the Antilles in Cold Fire. There may be a slightly more detailed map of Europa (or at least a part of it) in Cold Steel. Here’s your chance to request other map subjects, if indeed you have any. Is anyone interested in a map of the cities of Adurnam or Expedition?

I know that some love maps, some are indifferent, and some dislike them. That’s as it should be.

I personally like maps, because I’m geeky that way but also because I process information both visually and kinesthetically, and thus maps make it easier for me to negotiate certain kinds of plots. Yet with other stories, I don’t even think of wanting a map. I wonder if there is a kind of story that seems more to benefit by a map while others just don’t have any call for them.

There are narratives in which there are things about the world you can’t learn from the story but which you can glimpse if the book includes a map, so in that sense a map can add a bit of extra dimension to a world. One of the challenges of writing the Spiritwalker books in first person is that there is a lot of information about the world that can never get into the narrative because it isn’t something a) the narrator would reflect on much less know &/or b) that is necessary to the plot.

In world building as it happens on the page, I believe there is another way at looking at “mapping.” By this I don’t necessarily mean an actual drawn graphic map as a representation of a place, but a map of geography and society and history that is created in the mind of the reader as s/he walks through the story.

Secondary world stories (a term commonly used to describe stories that are set in worlds that are not this world) have to walk a fine balance. If you pile in too much detail, then it slows down the pace and drive of the story (I’m not immune to this writing flaw). However, if you put in too little detail, then the danger becomes that readers will mentally fall back to a “standard.” That is, they may read onto the world a kind of generic medieval-Europe (or British Victorian or whatever) setting regardless if that is the one there. If a story is set in a Europe-inspired setting, then this is not a problem. But if the story is not meant to be set in that landscape, the writer (I think) has to invest a little more detail and explanation to differentiate their world from the sort of world people so often expect to see in, say, fantasy novels. Of course, again, too much detail and the narrative bogs down. The endless cycle thereby continues: What to show? What to leave out?

How do you write or read through this balance?


I need book recommendations

Please recommend to me light, humorous mainstream novels appropriate for a broad-minded 85 year old man recovering (splendidly, but still . . . ) from surgery. Probably not Prachett or other sff-related genre humor as he is not an sff genre reader (although he has read all of my novels). But the humor can range afield from, say, the Kingsley Amis type “comic” novels or Wodehouse. IOW, something more recent and maybe not just from a white male academic perspective, if you see what I mean.


He just read a grim Icelandic WWII/Cold War thriller, and wants a break and something more hopeful and uplifting. Not cloying, though. Satirical is all right, but surely there recent mainstream comic novels out there that would please.


Thanks in advance.

Book sign/reading from Cold Steel in L.A. in July

I’ll post this twice more as the time grows closer, but I want to announce that I will be doing a book signing together with the wonderful fantasy writer Lynn Flewelling on

SATURDAY JULY 28 at 2:30 pm

at Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach (Los Angeles)

I will read from COLD STEEL. I might even let the audience vote on which of several short excerpts they want me to read from . . . Rory getting naked? Bee telling off powerful men? Cat punching, well, anything?

Also, I will have hard copy pamphlets of the bonus chapter 31.5 from COLD FIRE available (I’m not charging for them).

As always with this kind of signing, you can bring your books from home for me to sign, and that is perfectly fine, but it is also courteous (and useful!) to make a purchase (of some kind, not necessarily my books) from Mysterious Galaxy, the hosting indie bookstore, because they have to sell books to stay in business in order to host signings and readings like this one.

Also, if you cannot attend the signing, you can place an order beforehand and get a signed (and personalized, if you wish) copy of any of my books which they have in stock, which they will then ship to you afterward.

I would love to see you all there.

Just as an FYI: I plan to attend the Sirens Conference in mid October (near Portland, Oregon), and may do a signing at Powells at that time. I also plan to attend World Fantasy Convention in Toronto, Canada in early November.

Cultural Imperialism Bingo, Beta Readers, Writers and Depression: Links

I meant to do an entire blog post to boost the signal for The Western Cultural Imperialism Bingo Card but Family Stuff has intervened so I will instead link you to Aliette de Bodard’s blog where, if you so choose (and you haven’t already), you can read all about it.

I just want to make a brief comment. Because of time zones and my geographical position in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I often frequent Twitter at hours when I’m more likely to engage with an international contingent than a USA contingent. Thus I inadvertently became involved in the bingo card development, although very much as a secondary player. I know some people don’t care for the bingo cards, and that’s cool. I don’t think it’s required that everyone like them or link to them or find them useful. I personally think they serve a useful purpose because I don’t see them as representing the entirety of people’s thinking on these complex matters; they’re just one of a number of tools that can be used to discuss or provoke or illuminate, but mostly I see them as a way to get past the usual conversation-stoppers and into potentially more nuanced and productive conversations. This is just my personal opinion; I’m not speaking for anyone else.


Donna M Hanson interviewed me as part of her series on using beta readers.

An excellent beta reader reads the story that is there and comments on how well it works. A poor beta reader reads the story and comments on the way they would want it written.


Writer Saladin Ahmed (I gave a quote for his debut novel Throne of the Crescent Moon) writes about depression and isolation. Sobering and honest.


Cold Steel: The printed out (unrevised) manuscript

Herewith a photo of the unrevised manuscript of Cold Steel. I printed it out because I received my editorial letter from my editor today . . . a mere ten pages. While I do revise on screen as well, I like to do an editing pass on paper; it just looks different and the visual change highlights things I might not notice on the computer.

I expect to take about six weeks to do revisions, including a tight line edit, but overall nothing substantial, just a lot of careful close-up work, some trimming, and clarification of various elements and some scenes that need to have a little more heft and clarity.

Pen for size comparison. That’s 690 pages, double spaced, 12 pt, Garamond (I prefer to compose in Garamond rather than Courier or Times Roman because I like the look of it better.)

N. K. Jemisin’s THE SHADOWED SUN: Giveaway

Through the unexpected generosity of my publisher, I have ended up with two copies of N.K. Jemisin’s THE SHADOWED SUN, second book in The Dreamblood duology.

That means I have to GIVE ONE AWAY.

The first volume, THE KILLING MOON, I described in this way (on the front cover of the USA trade paperback): “The world is so fully fleshed out that I could breathe its spices . . . Jemisin proves yet again that she is one of the most important new writers in fantasy today.”

As an experiment, I’m going to try a “write a review” giveaway.

The rules:

To enter, write a review of a book and post it on your blog, Live Journal, Facebook, tumblr, Goodreads, Amazon, Library Thing, or another such site. The review does not have to be long (I know that long reviews are time consuming to write, so a short one is okay as is a long one) but it can’t be just a starred rating. The content of the review doesn’t matter–that is, it doesn’t have to be positive although it CAN be positive 🙂 .

Then post a link to the review either here or on my live journal mirror. (Don’t link to an old review, please.)

I think and talk a lot about visibility and how visibility affects careers. So my preference would be that you review a book by a woman writer OR by a man writer who is not one of the usual bestsellers whose books are reviewed umpteen times. [I won’t name names.] But, any new review will count.

In today’s publishing world, I think the hardest thing for a writer is being invisible — unknown — not seen. Talking up books helps both readers and writers. So, write and post a review, and you have a chance to win a copy of this FABULOUS novel.

USA and International entries (I’m mailing from the USA) welcome. Draw will be random number from entries received.

Giveaway ends in one week, Sunday 11 June 9 pm HT (Hawaii Time).


Progress Report: 1 June 2012

It seems I live by the principle of my eyes being bigger than my stomach.

In online terms that means I either make great plans for getting offline so I can work incessantly, and then check Twitter every 15 minutes


conversely, determine to institute a fabulous program of blogging every day in a manner witty, wise, informative, profound, or edgy. You know. Like people do, who do that. Those people evidently will never include me in their number.

1) I’m still waiting to get my editorial comments on COLD STEEL from my editor, but this should not be construed in any way except that she has a number of manuscripts on her desk and has to tackle them in order of priority of publication schedule. I expect to hear from her soon.

2) Comments from beta readers are coming in, and I’m quite pleased on the whole. There are a couple of scenes I need to expand on, toward the end, but I knew that so this just confirms what I knew, and that is always pleasant. The reason the scenes got scanted is because by the time I was pushing to the finish of the novel I was so exhausted from the 14 months of wrestling with it and the sheer number of false starts and detours and wrong ways I had to correct that I just wanted to get to The End and then worry about revisions later. So that’s what I did.

3) When I mentioned to one of my beta readers that I felt bad that my readers were going to have to wait so long and patiently before it was published, she pointed out that I also have to wait: To talk about it. And since there are some scenes, and lines, and details, and Stuff that I really love, be assured that (for those of you looking forward to Cold Steel) that I am SUFFERING RIGHT ALONG WITH YOU. Kind of.

4) Next week I have a guest post going up on Monday (June 4) at A Dribble of Ink on diversity. I hope you’ll pop over and join the discussion, if one gets going.


I am doing a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Thursday June 7 at 8 pm CST (Central Standard Time) which is, uh, omg, like 3 pm my time. You know, I need to figure that out. ANYWAY, if you feel so inclined, please pop over. I’ll announce it again on Twitter and Facebook and here on Wednesday. By the way, Elizabeth Bear is doing an AMA on Tuesday June 5 at 7 pm CST. Also, my sons are concerned that because it is Reddit, no one will ask me any questions, so prove them wrong!


I also answered seven questions about beta readers for Donna Hanson’s blog series on beta readers/reading. I don’t have a date for that going up yet, however.