2015 Writing/Publishing Retrospective

Yes, 2015 was an exceptionally busy year for me. It’s not that I write quite that fast but that I had no fiction released in 2014 with the exception of The Courtship, a Spiritwalker-related short story posted on my blog. Due to scheduling, two novels, a short fiction collection, a novella, a short story, and several long non-fiction pieces appeared this past year. I also attended four conventions.

Here is the 2015 rundown of professional (money-making) pieces [and a quick comment about when the piece was actually produced]. I don’t list blog posts on my blog or as guest posts elsewhere although I wrote several I thought were pretty ace.


A review of The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein appears in Cascadia Subduction Zone.

[I wrote this in 2014.]


The Very Best of Kate Elliott, a short fiction collection by Tachyon Publications, is released to quite good reviews and with an exceptionally excellent Julie Dillon-illustrated cover.

[All the stories in this collection were written prior to 2014. The introduction was written in 2014.]


An essay titled Writing Women Characters as Human Beings published at Tor.com.

[An ongoing project that went through multiple revisions, I finished this in 2015. I hope to finish a companion piece in 2016.]


A reprint of my novelette “On the Dying Winds of the Old Year and the Birthing Winds of the New” appears in Lightspeed Magazine (the story appeared for the first time in the short fiction collection). It is set in the Crossroads universe.

[This piece has been around some years but the final revisions were done in 2014.]


I wrote the foreword for Speculative Fiction 2014: The Year’s Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary, edited by Renee Williams and Shaun Duke and published by The Book Smugglers Publishing.

[Written in 2014? I think? Or early 2015?]

Guest of Honor at SFeraKon in Croatia. I tell you this: The Croatians are THE BEST.

I’m already exhausted and we aren’t even halfway through the year.


San Diego Comicon, panel and signings. BIG. REALLY BIG.


My Young Adult debut novel, Court of Fives, is published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. The audiobook (narrated by the wonderful George Dolenz) is published by Hachette Audio. Among other things, CoF was listed as one of NPR’s Best Books 2015.

[First draft written Winter 2012/13, revisions 2013 into early 2014]

Sasquan/Worldcon, in Spokane, Washington. Fun for me. Bad forest fires for the people in Eastern Washington.


Guest of Honor at Sirens Conference together with Rae Carson and Yoon Ha Lee. Wow, this was grand. You should come in 2016.

This month I also turned in final revisions for Poisoned Blade, Court of Fives 2, scheduled for publication in August 2016. I wrote the first draft and completed three revision passes, all in 2015.


And then, yes, volume one of a long-awaited (by me if by no one else!) new adult epic fantasy, Black Wolves, published by Orbit Books.

[First draft written 2013-2014, revisions 2014/early 2015]

Black Wolves has an audiobook narrated by the fabulous Richard Ferrone, and published by Recorded Books.


The year rounds off with two final pieces of short fiction.

Night Flower is an ebook only novella, a prequel set in the Court of Fives world.

[Written and revised in 2015.]

The Beatriceid is a short fiction feminist retelling of the Aeneid, in verse, set in the Spiritwalker universe and published by The Book Smugglers.

[Written and revised in 2014.]

Whew. What was I thinking?

Tomorrow: 2016 Prospective & maybe a resolution or three.


THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT, my first short fiction collection, officially releases today from Tachyon Publications. This collection includes every piece of short fiction I have ever written (with the exception of two “codas” to the Spiritwalker Trilogy which don’t truly stand alone without knowledge of the trilogy) as well as five essays.

I can therefore safely say that these are the very best of my short fiction because this volume contains ALL my short fiction (so far).



One of the essays and one of the short pieces, “On the Dying Wings of the Old Year, On the Birthing Wings of the New” are original to the collection. The other pieces have been published elsewhere or online. Some (like “The Queen’s Garden”) came out in limited edition anthologies while others are long out of print. Thus many readers will have their first chance to read them here.

While my first novel was published in 1988 (THE LABYRINTH GATE), my first short story wasn’t published until 1994, by which time I had published eight novels. If I include the two Spiritwalker coda stories, I have published fourteen short stories over the course of my career so far, while my twenty second and twenty third novels will appear in 2015 (COURT OF FIVES and BLACK WOLVES).

My “natural length” is the novel. I might go farther and say that my natural length is the trilogy. Regardless, writing short fiction remains a challenge for me because my mind doesn’t really create story in such tight packets. I hope to write more (as I’ve said elsewhere I have six half-written Spiritwalker stories in progress), and perhaps someday there will be a second collection.

For now, I hope you enjoy this one.

I wrote a longer piece, published on Book Smugglers, about publishing this collection called “The Courage To Say Yes.”


NOTE: As of writing this, Amazon does not list the ebook version on its site. However it is available. Until Amazon gets the ebook version up, you can find the ebook for purchase on Tachyon’s website.


Meanwhile, here are a few of the reviews that have so far appeared:


Publishers Weekly (starred review)

This collection serves beautifully both as an introduction to Elliott and as a treat for fans who want more of her marvels.”

Snowflakes and Spider Silk

“I highly recommend this book for people who enjoy fantasy and science fiction, but also people who want to expand their social consciousness. This is an excellent, enjoyable, thought-provoking book.”

A Fantastical Librarian

If it isn’t obvious from this review, I really enjoyed The Very Best of Kate Elliott. It shows off Kate Elliott’s strengths and the themes she’s been writing about for the past twenty years. In my opinion though, this collection should come with a warning, because it is like a gateway drug. I knew I loved Elliott’s writing from the Crown of Stars series, but now I want to read ALL. OF. HER. BOOKS.”

The Book Smugglers

“The framing of The Very Best of Kate Elliott is clear: feminist stories featuring a diverse group of female characters presented in a variety of roles and journeys. The most obvious extrapolation here for me given my personal interests is how topical and important this collection is as it fits into an ongoing conversation about places for women – as writers, readers and characters – in SFF. The fact that I absolutely loved every single story and every single essay is just the cherry on top of Mount Awesome.”

The Week Ahead (1 Feb 2015)

While January remains the first month of the Gregorian calendar, February marks the real beginning of an incredibly busy and I hope not too stressful year for me.

In 2014 I published a single piece of fiction ( Spiritwalker-related novelette posted as free fiction on my web site), no novels, and a few scattered pieces of non fiction in the form of blog posts. While that seems sparse, I also did a LOT of work on other projects. You can find a retrospective of 2014 and a list of forthcoming 2015 projects here.

On February 10 my first short fiction collection, THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT, is released by Tachyon Publications.

February also brings two interviews (one at writer Gail Carriger’s blog and the other at SFSignal), a very personal blog post at Book Smugglers tomorrow (February 2), an AMA at Reddit on February 17, as well as a few other posts yet to be scheduled. Reviews of THE VERY BEST have started to drop: Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Interzone, with more coming.

For the month of February I will try a steady diet of keeping readers apprised without engulfing them with too much promo, which means I am trying to make a schedule for myself that will include writing about other things in order to counteract the sense that we are all of us being inundated by a promotional barrage.

So, stealing outright from the Book Smugglers with their weekly Sunday “Smugglers Stash and News,” here’s what’s up for this coming week:


Monday February 2:

The Courage to Say Yes, a guest post at The Book Smugglers

On my blog, a post wishing Smart Bitches, Trashy Books a very happy 10th anniversary and explaining why I think SMTB has been so important.


Tuesday February 3:

Showing off my Polish covers for Crown of Stars. After publishing the first three some years ago, Zysk did a re-design for the whole series that I really like.


Wednesday February 4:

Kill Your Rituals, Not Your Darlings, a guest post by Harry Connolly


Thursday February 5: Enthusiasm Thursday

A long overdue “enthusiasm” (I don’t really write reviews which is why I prefer to call this an Enthusiasm) for THE TIME ROADS by Beth Bernobich. My goal is to write an Enthusiasm every Thursday on whatever takes my fancy.


Friday February 6: Memoir Friday

I begin a 24 week series, each Friday blogging a (often very short) chapter from Remembering Japan 1945 – 1946, my father’s memoirs of his nine months posted in Japan after World War II. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while and his granddaughter (my daughter) kindly got everything ready to go. However else my blogging goes, this series will run on Fridays until all the chapters are posted.


Saturday: Shabbat and thus no post.


If all goes as planned my first newsletter will launch next week, 10 February. You can sign up here on the blog page (right sidebar) or on my webpage.

The newsletter will be occasional and short, with pre-order and new release information, updates or momentous news, and a few surprises and previews that subscribers will get before anyone else.


I’ll have more to say about my first short fiction collection in a post I’ll be writing for The Book Smugglers called “The Courage to Say Yes,” which will be published right around the release day.

For now, feast your eyes upon the phenomenal cover of THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT, illustration by (Hugo-award-winning) Julie Dillon and design by Elizabeth Story.

I will never ever get tired of showing off this cover.





A pair of princesses convene in the Queen’s Garden to plot against their scheming father. A mischievous saber-tooth cat from the spirit world uses his shape-shifting magic to right a wrong. The warrior Kereka tries to prove herself as a man, else live in the shadow of the hero to whom she’s betrothed. War-hardened Mai, in self-imposed exile, artfully shields her family from the spies of her jealous former husband, King Anji.

This career retrospective from bestselling author Kate Elliott (Crown of Stars) showcases twenty years of her best work. Collected here are many of Elliott’s previously unavailable tales, as well as a brand new Crossroads story. With her strong heroines, diverse worlds, and riveting storytelling, Elliott continues to inspire readers and push the boundaries of fantasy and science fiction.

A quote from the Publishers Weekly (starred) review:

This collection serves beautifully both as an introduction to Elliott and as a treat for fans who want more of her marvels.

Pre-order from your local bookstore (I’m a big believer in supporting local bookstores) or:

Tachyon Publications


Barnes & Noble


Waterstones (UK)

Book Depository

The Very Best of Kate Elliott is available internationally from Tachyon Publications.

2014 in Retrospective. 2015 Prospective.

For me 2014 proved to be one of those years more endured than enjoyed, with some memorable exceptions. For those interested in what I wrote over the course of the year, here is a retrospective.


I published a single piece of fiction in 2014, a story (novelette) that I wrote as a valentine for my readers: The Courtship. I call it a coda to the Spiritwalker Trilogy because it takes place a few days after the end of Cold Steel.

No novel in 2014, alas. Which always makes me feel as if I have been unproductive. So here is what I did accomplish:

As I’ve mentioned, I fell behind writing Black Wolves because of my father’s final illness and death in 2013, so although Black Wolves was originally scheduled for November 2014 it was not even finished by the end of 2013.

I completed a first draft of Black Wolves, and subsequently two revisions, for Orbit Books.

I also completed a final line edit and copy edits and page proofs on Court of Fives, my YA debut with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, coming August 2015.

In addition I completed copy edits and page proofs for my forthcoming short fiction collection, The Very Best of Kate Elliott (Tachyon Publications), forthcoming in February 2015.

I started (and have not yet finished) a piece of short fiction called The Beatriceid, in the style of the Aeneid, but told from the perspective of Beatrice (one of the heroines of the Spiritwalker Trilogy). I also have written about half a short story, “When I Grow Up,” told from the point of view of [spoiler]. I plan to finish these ASAP.


Justine Larbalestier and I launched a monthly book club for Bestselling Women’s Fiction (of the 20th century). We read a novel each month, chatted about it in email and compiled that chat into a post, and invited discussion. I thought this was pretty great, and you can read our posts and the discussion. Unfortunately the press of our schedules overcame us in the second half of the year and we had to put the project on hiatus but we hope to start it up again here in 2015.

This RocketTalk podcast hosted by Justin Landon in which N.K. Jemisin and I discuss bias in the science fiction and fantasy field went really well, and frankly I’m proud of how the discussion unfolded on a difficult and controversial topic.

In honor of NaNoWriMo I managed to write a blog post a day about writing for the first 14 days. You can find a list of these posts at the NaNoWriMo tag/category on this blog.

I wrote up a long squee post about Martha Wells’ The Fall of Ile-Rien Trilogy which generated a lot of wonderful discussion both here and on my Live Journal mirror site.

Another squee post: Over at A Dribble of Ink I highlighted the illustrations drawn by Hugo-award-winning artist Julie Dillon for my illustrated short story “The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal” Because I will never get tired of talking about what a great artist she is!

In December I again participated in Smugglivus, the annual festival of posts at the home of the marvelous Book Smugglers. This year I discussed the presence of women relating to women in narratives (with a focus on television).


If you asked me what I accomplished this year, I would say: Not enough.

Funny how harshly we can judge ourselves.


I don’t get out much because it is expensive to fly from Hawaii to anywhere. (Why is no one crying for me?)

BUT I did have an absolutely fabulous trip to England and France in August and September of 2014. I visited dear friends, went to a nurturing writer’s retreat in Brittany, and in general soaked up hanging out with writers and sff community people and cramming in a year’s worth of shop talk in one month.

I attended Loncon (Worldcon) in London, which was huge, wonderful, diverse, exciting, and exhausting (in the right way), the best Worldcon I have attended.

I was honored to be one of the Guests of Honor (with Larry Rostant, Charlaine Harris, & Toby Whithouse) at Fantasycon, ably run by Lee Harris. This small literary convention proved to be a really fabulous weekend in York, England.


I’ll be writing. The aforementioned two short pieces need to be finished (I have other Spiritwalker short fiction that is partially written too; in a perfect world I would finish them all by June and bring them out as a short collection, but I’m skeptical I can manage that with my current novel writing schedule).

My novel writing schedule? A YA novel and an epic fantasy novel. I will also try to find time to eat and sleep and exercise and, if I’m lucky, to read.

The rest of this week I will be posting about my forthcoming projects and when you can expect them and where you can pre-order. It looks to be a busy year. I say that as a good thing.

As always, my thanks to my readers. You make this all possible.

NaNoWriMo 11: 2015 is for The Very Best, Court of Fives, & Black Wolves

Having emailed the revised manuscript for BLACK WOLVES to my editor yesterday at 1 a.m. (which means technically today but let’s not quibble), I managed to do pretty much zero today which all told I am taking as a win.

I do not have enough bandwidth to write anything that takes more than 5 brain cells rubbing together so I decided to take a photo of my three current projects all lined up in a row on my kitchen table.*


On the left we have the page proofs for THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT, a short fiction collection by Tachyon Publications, due for publication in February 2015.

In the middle we have the page proofs for COURT OF FIVES, a YA fantasy novel (“Little Women meets Game of Thrones” is what the publisher is calling it) being published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on 18 August 2015.

Finally, on the right, the typically monstrous epic fantasy since that is apparently the only type of epic fantasy I can write. BLACK WOLVES will be published by Orbit Books. Possibly October 2015 but that is not yet confirmed.

I have all these books coming next year because I had nothing come out in 2014 due to the events of 2013 putting the brakes on my writing for the year.

Publishers usually like to have completed revised and edited manuscripts a year ahead of publication date because that gives them plenty of time to move through the production phase and whatever marketing and publicity work they are going to do to get pre-orders and publicity going for the novel. There is a lot of lead time in this business (books can be produced quickly but it costs more, so with commercial publishers a very short lead time is an option only for books that must have a quick turnaround for timeliness or are expected to be bestsellers).

What do I personally get for all that lead time? Focused and intensive editing, a good-to-excellent copy edit, excellent design and typography, great covers (not always for everyone but I’ve had quite good luck with covers), an expansive distribution network, and a lot of miscellaneous work that I simply could not do myself or wouldn’t be good at. On a later date I will post the timeline of COURT OF FIVES to give a sense of how the process worked.

Meanwhile I am going to bed in the hopes of catching up with my sleep so I can embark tomorrow on the glamorous immediate-post-manscript writing life of laundry, filing, opening mail, and a few errands.



* the advanced reading copy in the background is Wesley Chu’s TIME SALVAGER (July 2015, Tor Books)