The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal: Print Version On Sale Now



smaller Bee

 The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal is finally and at long last ready to order in its PRINT version.

I appreciate your patience as this has been a micro-press venture and has taken quite a while to move through all the steps. While the people I worked with have experience in these matters, this is the first micro-press project I have ever attempted and I could not have done it without the able assistance (and patience) of Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein and Melanie Ujimori, the founders and publishers of Crab Tank Ink (although technically Crab Tank is not publishing the chapbook; the publisher of record is the Press of the Shiny Ideas Clutch, while Crab Tank is acting as the distributor).

Huge thanks to Julie Dillon for her magnificent artwork. For those interested in such details, I commissioned and paid for the art ahead of time. I’m thrilled she took on the project despite a rather daunting deadline.

ETA: FOR THE MOMENT you have to email me at Kate.Elliott at to inquire about print and pdf copies. They are still available. I will soon post new information.


EBOOK: A DRM-free pdf version is  available

Apex Magazine story, Crown of Stars retrospective, & Crown of Stars ebooks

The February 2013 Apex Magazine is out with a Shakespeare theme.

I have a story (“My Voice is in My Sword”) and am interviewed in the issue, which you can find here.

Again, here is the link to a retrospective I wrote, looking back on the Crown of Stars series, which you can find at the Orbit Books web site.

All seven of the Crown of Stars books are now available in ebook form, from Orbit UK in the UK region.

The first three volumes of Crown of Stars are available in ebook form in the USA and other English-language venues. No schedule yet for the ebook publications of #4 – 7, although they are all available in print form.

2012 (Spiritwalker Monday 25)

2012 was a rough year for me. No details, just a hard slog for a number of reasons.

For those of you who also had a hard slog, my sympathies and let us hope for a kinder, more joyous, and excitingly challenging 2013 (the good kind of excitement, not the other kind).

For those who had a great 2012: Excellent! And I wish for you another great year ahead.

It took me a long time to finish the third Spiritwalker novel, COLD STEEL (for my long road through the novel and if you are interested in process, you can check all my Cold Steel tags on this blog). But as most if not all of you reading this know, it is finished, revised, copy edited, and making its way through the production process toward publication in June 2013.

I’m planning to continue my Spiritwalker Monday posts from now until publication. Because I’ve realized that posting once a week is about all I can reliably manage (without cutting deeply into my novel writing energy), some of those posts will be more general posts about world building, writing, culture, reading, and so on. However, at least two posts per month should focus specifically on the Spiritwalker world and/or the writing of the books. I hope to complete at least one prequel short story (the one I am working on right now is about Andevai). Upcoming posts will discuss the creole used in COLD FIRE, some reflections on how I developed the love story in the first two books (in February), the use of place names in a world without Germanic-derived place names, and whatever else I can produce between working on Other Projects. I can’t talk about Other Projects yet. I will when I can.

Some of my favorite posts I read this year (heavily weighted to the end of the year as I do not keep good track):

The amazing tag team of Tansy Raynor Roberts (Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy: Let’s Unpack That) and Foz Meadows (Your Default Narrative Settings are Not Apolitical) both tackle the issue of the excuse some writers and readers make that they can’t have women (or women with agency) in their fantasy novels because of what amounts to their lack of understanding of history. This subject has been batted around a lot this year (and in previous years) and perhaps some day it will be put to rest, but I’m not holding my breath yet. Tansy also wrote a guest post on this blog on women of Rome.

In this vein, my favorite of my Spiritwalker Monday posts so far is Why Cat Sews, about the importance of depicting all the kinds of work that underpin human society.

Over at Book Smugglers, N. K. Jemisin wrote The Unexotic Exotic on using details of ordinary life to de-exotify the “exotic” in fantasy worlds.

In Rochita Loenen-Ruiz’s Identity and the Indigenous Spirit she talks about allowing herself “to be true to the place that gave birth to and shaped me.” On this blog, her guest post Decolonizing as an SF Writer discusses (among other things) histories of the Philippines and her own relationship with SF.

Seanan McGuire wrote a searing post on Things I Will Not Do To My Characters. Ever. in response to a reader who asked her when certain of her female characters were finally going to get raped. (Imagine! Asking that!)

I have some posts I wrote this year which I particularly value, and one of those touches on another aspect of the use of sexual violence in fiction (although from a different perspective): The narrative of women in fear and pain. (In my recent guest post on Book Smugglers I talk about quite the opposite: positive depictions of sex in fiction.)(There’s also a giveaway open until January 6.)

Sherwood Smith writes brilliantly about writing and reading: You can find her at Book View Cafe. Really everything she writes is well worth reading, but I wanted to highlight a post from earlier this year on Process Narration, what she defines as writers “writing their own experience of writing fiction into the text.” I read this post nodding my head and wincing in fierce agreement; I do this and I need to be more aware of it. Great stuff.

Here on this blog, Paul Weimer wrote about his own experiences reviewing in The Stress of Their Regard: Book Reviews and the Reactions to Them.

Understanding history in its fullest and most complex sense as opposed to the narrow range of history that is normally taught is, for me, a crucial enterprise, a process that never ends.

This post by cosmic yoruba talks about African sexualities and colonialism. She also wrote a post on sex work in pre-colonial Igboland.

Malinda Lo wrote a two part post about same-sex relationships in fantasy and the question “Is it believable to have same-sex relationships in a medieval-esque fantasy world?” in Heteronormativity, Fantasy & Bitterblue Part One and Part Two.

D. B. Jackson wrote on “the history that isn’t taught” and what he learned about colonial era Boston while researching for his Thieftaker series.

In the science department, how about this fascinating article about redrawing the “tree of life”: It is just so cool! And Athena Andreadis has a lovely post on human evolution and The Grandmother Hypothesis: “that the presence of grandmothers allowed more children to reach adulthood.”

I’ve not yet touched on architecture and fashion so here, via tumblr, a Fashion Timeline History of Vietnamese Clothing.

Meanwhile, Helen Lowe discussed the essential element of mystery in On World building.

Okay, that’s surely enough. Except for this link to an article on Early Medieval Science: The evidence of Bede. Because there can never be enough Venerable Bede.

For myself, I worked long and hard on my article The Omniscient Breasts because I wanted to define and describe how the male gaze affects how people write without them necessarily being aware of it, and I wanted to express it in a constructive way that might possibly get through to a few people and make them think about through what default lens they might be “seeing” in their fiction. [You should go check it out if only to make sure it reaches the top ten (in page views) of SFSignal’s posts for the year–right?]

These are just a few of the many wonderful, illuminating, and thoughtful things I read online this past year. There were so many more.

Last, if I can encourage you (and I know I encouraged some of you already) to check out one album this year it would be Fatoumata Diawara’s FATOU.

What links do you have for me? What great posts from 2012 on . . . anything, really . . . got you thinking or laughing or pissed off or excited or learning or asking questions?

And, as always, thank you for reading.

Looking for women in historically-based fantasy worlds

This post is slightly adapted from a conversation I held with Ken Scholes on (now defunct) Babel Clash in September 2009. I was inspired to dig up the old post from a reference to it made in another September 2009 post by Aliette de Bodard on Female protagonists in historical fantasy, which she had reason to refer to today on Twitter. de Bodard’s post is just as fresh and important today as it was then, as alas this subject comes up with discouraging regularity.

I wanted to talk about how writers can try to find a way out of the assumptions they may be bringing to the table when deciding whether and how much to introduce female characters into fantasy novels whose settings are based on a version of the past. That is, they may be historical fantasy or secondary world fantasy derived from research into our own historical past.

Even in patriarchal societies of the past (and present!), women who might otherwise have been banned by custom or law from partaking in the public life of politics, power, learning, work and so on still had personalities. I can’t emphasize this enough. People–even women!–have personalities regardless of how much or how little political power they have. People can live a quiet life of daily work out of the public eye, and still have personalities. Really! They can still matter to those around them, they can matter to themselves, and they can influence events in orthogonal ways that any self respecting writer can easily dream up.

Furthermore, with a little careful study of history, one discovers that women found ways to accomplish plenty of “things” big and small, personal and political. Maybe they did it behind a screen, or around the corner, or in the back room or in a parlor, or ran the brewery they inherited from a deceased husband, but they did all kinds of stuff that was either never noticed or was elided from historical accounts.  So much of our view of what women “did” in the past is mediated through accounts written by men who either didn’t see women or were so convinced (yes, I’m looking at you, Aristotle, but you are but one among many) that women were an inferior creature that what they wrote was not only biased but selectively blind. Even now, in “modern” day, so much is mediated by our assumptions about what “doing” means and by our prejudices and misconceptions about the past.

In reality, while women in many cultures worldwide had (and have) fewer legal rights as well as often living in constrained or deplorably oppressive circumstances, they still had (and have) minds and hands and hearts. Weird about that. Women have found ways to use their minds and hands and hearts, because people do. They may even have been happy and productive and respected.

In the last few decades, historical scholarship has been expanding the scope of who and what merits examination. Historians have excavated the lives of women so long overlooked and ignored.

Writers writing stories that deal with power politics in the age of palaces would do well, for instance, to check out a book like Servants of the Dynasty:  Palace Women in World History, edited by Anne Walthall.  This cross cultural study of palace women in a number of pre-modern societies worldwide does not sugarcoat or distort the realities of women’s lives, but it also illuminates the many misconceptions people may have about women in such societies and in such specific circumstances, awake within the halls of power.

The scholarship on women in medieval Europe is extensive. I own too many titles to list them here, but one might start with a book like Singlewomen in the European Past: 1250-1800, edited by Judith M. Bennett and Amy M. Froide.

I have fewer non-European studies that specifically deal with women’s history, although I’m expanding my library as I find new (to me) material, books like Women Writing Africa: West Africa and the Sahel, edited by Esi Sutherland-Addy and Aminata Diaw, and Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas by Barbara A. Mann.

This kind of reading will open up possibilities for writers who may be having trouble figuring out where women “fit” into epic/high fantasy, but they’re so very valuable for anyone, really. There are other places to look as well, sources well outside the hierarchical boundaries of academic scholarship.

The key, I suspect, is wanting to open the door.

Links of Interest

Aliette de Bodard writes about her story “Scattered Along the River of Heaven,” now available at Clarkesworld. I really love it when people talk about where stories came from or how they were written.

This one started with poets: to be more specific, Aimé Césaire and Qiu Jin. . . .

The whole Qiu Jin angle tied in with some thinking I’ve been having about revolutions and wars of liberation; and about messy transfers of power. Mainly, that revolutions always have a losing side, and that they create exiles . . .

I wanted one of the strands of the story to be poems: the idea was that Anshi’s life would be seen through her writings; and what better writings for a scholar than poems? Most scholars in Vietnam or China composed poetry; and the ability to do so was widely praised; in a quasi-Asian future, it made sense that poetry would still be very important.


I linked to this on Twitter but it’s worth linking to again: What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success.

Decades ago, when the Finnish school system was badly in need of reform, the goal of the program that Finland instituted, resulting in so much success today, was never excellence. It was equity.


I meant to link to Malinda Lo’s post A Year of Thinking About Diversity back when she posted it about 2 weeks ago, but here it is now, ever relevant.

So, writing from personal experience is important. Writing about people who are different from you is important. These two beliefs sound like they’re contradictory, but they’re not; they’re complementary. Diversity is complex. It’s slippery. I think there’s room for more than one way to negotiate it — something that is both wonderfully flexible and frustratingly difficult.


There were some other brilliant things, but I was visiting relatives over the holiday and did not do a good job of keeping track.
Tomorrow I will have a guest post from Benjamin Tate whose fantasy novel, Leaves of Flame, is just out.