Jul 18 2016

Winding down, gearing up.

Rosemary

Well, Readercon is over, and my annual hang-out-with-pals-after-Readercon is also over…

Cool things from Readercon:

A reading by Ellen Kushner, from the next season of the serialized multi-author novel, Tremontaine.

Here’s a nifty trailer for the series:

The reading was followed by Ellen’s  Kaffeeklatsch — which included as a treat, a guest appearence by Ada Palmer, singing her famous (in fandom) song, “Somebody Will,” which always makes me cry.

But in a good way.  (Here’s a link to a duet version of the song, with Ada singing with Lauren Schiller.)

Also, I attended a reading by Delia Sherman, from her upcoming YA novel, The Evil Wizard Smallbone.  I’ve heard bits of the book before, and it’s always a delight.  Delia has such a graceful hand with tales of magic.

Comes out in September, but you could pre-order it now. Yes, you could.

Also: a reading by Jo Walton, from her work in progress, Poor Relations, which I enjoyed immensely.  By laughing a lot.  It was that kind of book, and she read it with vim!   (You can’t buy it yet — but the final volume of her Thessaly series, Necessity, is just out this week. )

And finally, a reading by one of Readercon’s guests of honor, Catherynne Valente,  whose writing you know I love.  I can’t recall the title — it was a work in progress, I think —  but it was dark and rich and grim and lovely.  (There’s an excerpt from it in the Readercon program, which I have at home where I am not, and not in my office, where I am.)

Hm.  I seem only to have attended readings by women this time!  Not by intention: Daryl Gregory was listed on the original program, but left off of the updated one.  Apparently he could not attend after all.  Alas.  I do love hearing him read.

The panels…

Well.

I didn’t go to many, but it seemed to me that each one I attended (and the one I was on),  rather quickly turned away from books, and toward TV shows and movies as examples of whatever subject was on hand for discussion.

And I found this disappointing.  The thing about Readercon, the blessed thing about it, is that it has traditionally been focused on books.  There’s no film track, no gaming, the dealer’s room sells nothing but books.  In theory it’s supposed to stand in opposition other conventions, which more and more deal with movies, TV, gaming, and the fandom that surrounds them.  Not that those aren’t wonderful things, and sources of real art — But Readercon has always been the exception to  the trend.   That was its charm, and its attraction.

But this time, not so much.  I don’t know what to make of that.

As well as official convention events, there was plenty of meeting and re-meeting of friends, always a glad thing.  (I’d detail more but… this is running rather long, and getting late.  Perhaps I’ll expand on events in a later post?)

And after Readercon, as is traditional, I spent a few days with fellow authors Ann Tonsor Zeddies (aka Toni Anzetti, but not any more), and Geary Gravel.   A splendid time was had by all, including much deep talk far into the night on the front porch, one reading of a work in progress, the inevitable champagne, many delicious meals, and walks around interesting places.

A denizen of the forest.

A denizen of the forest.

 

The Bridge of Flowers, in Shelburne Falls, MA.

The Bridge of Flowers, in Shelburne Falls, MA.

 

Authors!

Authors!

So.  All that is over, I’m back home and unpacked, and my laundry is done, and I’m tucked into my office.

Next on the agenda: Ack! Worldcon in August.  Preceded by a week in Chicago… Yikes, only two and a half weeks before all that.

Better get back to wrestling with the Muse.  Who is a slippery gal, but I do believe I have a weight advantage, there.

 

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Jul 3 2016

Readercon looms.

Rosemary

Still hunkered down, either working, or working at working, or working the peripheral tasks.   I need to get as much done as I can before various upcoming events take me away from my office and into the actual world of people who I did not invent.

Some of them are quite nice, of course, and I’m looking forward to seeing them!  But time seems to tick away far too quickly lately.  July and August are already chewed-into.

First up is Readercon, running from July 7 – 10.   I have exactly one panel:

Friday July 08

1:00 PM    5    Why Women Become Protagonists . Gwenda Bond, LJ Cohen, Rosemary Kirstein, Hillary Monahan, Navah Wolfe. In a 2015 essay about portrayals of female protagonists in crime fiction, Sara Paretsky writes, “Detectives like V.I. came to life in a time of bravado, when my peers and I… wrote out of a kind of cockiness: we’re doing a job because we want it, we like the work, no one can stop us. Today, the female hero often has been brutally assaulted… or suffered some other form of serious trauma. It’s as if the only acceptable reason for a woman to embrace the investigative life is to recover from damage, or get revenge for it—not because she takes pleasure in the work, and comes to it as a free spirit.” Let’s explore the reasons that female protagonists decide to protag, and discuss the many ways to motivate them other than assault and trauma.

I’m not sorry to have only one panel this time out, and I don’t mind the time slot — but it might be unfortunate for anyone who works a day-job, and would only be able to make it to Readercon  from Friday after work until Sunday.  I suspect I’ll also have a Kaffeeklatsch, but the schedule for that has not yet been settled.  If the klatsch is not on the weekend, I’ll make sure to set aside some time to be at some locale, available to meet anyone who cares to show up!  I’ll post the time for that, when I know it, here, on Facebook, and on Twitter (where I am @rkirstein).

This entirely in addition to persons to whom I’ve already promised hang-out time — you know who you are.

After Readercon I generally hang out with pals Ann Zeddies and Geary Gravel for a few days.   So, that’s about a full week of July in use for non-writing.

And then: August!   I’ve got three whole weeks of commitments!  Including WorldCon.  You can see why I’m trying to get as much done now as possible.

Of course, I am much encouraged by the most recent meeting of the Fabulous Genrettes, which could not have gone better, in my opinion.   It’s nice when you think you’ve done something especially well, and other people agree!  The encouraging feedback was great — but so was the constructive feedback.   A fine time was had by all.

In other news:

The roof of my office is a pretty good place from which to watch fireworks.   Not as good as actually being under them, but the high ones did manage to clear the trees that stood between me and them.

Not the best shot, but hey! iPhone, and at night.

I do love fireworks.   Always have.

 

 

 


Jun 25 2016

Busy!

Rosemary

Still here, but:

Busy!  Too busy to post at the moment…

So, in lieu of me saying something amusing or insightful or brilliant or entirely delusional, here’s something cool to look at:

You’ll want to go fullscreen.

BigFly is a French production company that uses drones to capture amazing images.   Here’s their website.

(Thanks to BoingBoing for pointing me there.)

Right.  Back to the task at hand…

 


Jun 17 2016

Seen

Rosemary

I managed to get out to the woods today…

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The mountain laurels are in bloom.

In choosing which path to take when I came to a crossing, I just headed for the mountain laurels.

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At first I just saw a few bushes here and there…

I heard a woodpecker, too; possibly the same Pileated Woodpecker that I spotted here last week.

The further I went, the more I saw.

The further I went, the more I saw.

Also spotted this:

In grade school, we were taught to call these indian pipes.

In grade school, we were taught to call these indian pipes.

This plant has no clorophyl.

I also saw this fallen tree:

I have no explanation for this.

I have no explanation for this.

It’s a fallen tree.  With a hole in it.  Why, I don’t know.  The hole is about eight inches by four, and goes straight through the tree.

It was a good walk of about an hour.  Followed by another walk later, from my office to the post office, because hey!  I work in a town, and the post office is walking distance.  About twenty minutes to and another twenty back.  Can’t say I didn’t get my exercise!  I’m well over 10,ooo steps, many of them directly uphill!

I also sent out the final Con or Bust paperbacks to the winning bidders.  Both in Texas, by coincidence.  Took care of a bunch of business -type chores, and cleared the decks for hitting the keyboard hard tomorrow and Saturday.

Sunday, it’s the Genrettes meeting, and I’m all a-twitter about what they’re going to say about that chunk of my prose that they’ve been reading…

 


Jun 9 2016

You know how they say that computers are going to replace us all?

Rosemary

Well, the script for this short science fiction film was written by a neural network.

(You should go full-screen.)

I don’t know about you, but I it looks like my job is safe….

(Brought to my attention by the io9 website.)


Jun 3 2016

Random updates not all about me

Rosemary

I had a few delays this week due to general life-type chores.  I’ve missed my walks in the woods for several days (which I have discovered makes me sorta cranky).   But I’m back in the saddle, and typing away… and the weekend is nearly upon us.

Current fleurs on desk

Current fleurs on desk

I had the fun of sending out a serious chunk of prose to the Fabulous Genrettes, my writer’s group, for analysis and dissection at our next meeting.  Naturally, I just want them to tell me how brilliant I am!  But, being a pro, I’m willing to be told that I’m only mostly brilliant, and that the prose (ahem) desperately needs some loving care, attention, and bringing-to-heel (AKA rewrites).

Other than that there is, at the moment, little to report on the writing front — largely because I don’t generally blog about the content of what I’m working on, and I don’t post  word counts (as explained in this ancient entry from before I had an office and while I still had a day job).  But I am at it, and looking forward to the weekend, which is prime writing time for me, when I have the entire building to myself.

I’m still currently reading Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning, but I always do have trouble reading fiction when I’m also writing fiction, so I have paused for the moment.  Ada’s book both deserves and requires attention; I don’t want to read it sloppily, and I realized that I was doing so — so I stopped.  I’ll get back to it in a bit, when I’m at a good pause-for-a-breather point in my own work.

I’ve also picked up Neil Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats,  which, being non-fiction, doesn’t hijack my fiction-processing faculties.  It includes the text to the famous “Make Good Art” speech, always an inspiration to me.

Meanwhile, Google alerted me that E.C.Ambrose mentioned the Steerswoman series in a blog post on maps… and that reminded me of Ambrose’s own books, and the fact that that her blog is great resource for people interested in the writing process.   There’s all sorts of excellent advice on many subjects relating to writing, like: The uses of location, of detail, suspense, and more.  She knows whereof she speaks and expresses it well.  And she’s taught at the Odyssey Writing Workshop.  All good reasons to check out both her blog and her books.

Lastly: Do not forget about the Con or Bust fundraising auction!    Bidding closes on Sunday at 4PM Eastern time, and there are lots of SF/F- related books objects and memorabilia available, and jewelry and handicrafts. Like a steampunk guitar pick-guard!  Seriously, where else are you going to find one of those?

Photo May 24, 6 40 21 AM

 


May 27 2016

Before the crowd shows up…

Rosemary

 

Heading to the office myself, after this

Everybody else is at work.

 

I figured that if I’m going to hike the park, I’d better do it today.

Mourning Cloak, or Admiral? (Actually, I'm thinking spicebush swallowtail with a broken tail.)

Mourning Cloak, or Admiral? (Actually, I’m thinking spicebush swallowtail with a broken tail.)

As soon as the weekend hits, it’s going to be like the Walmart parking lot out there.

 

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Mr (or Ms.) Toad.

Right now, very peaceful.

(UPDATE: Weirdly, if you look at this post on an iPod or iPad, the first two photos are sideways… but not on other devices.  Don’t know why…)

(Later:  fixed it.)

 

 

 


May 26 2016

It’s that time of year again…

Rosemary

Once again, Con or Bust is holding its fundraiser auction; and once again, I’ve donated some items to be auctioned off.

Con or Bust is a non-profit organization that helps people of color/non-white people attend science fiction and fantasy conventions.   You can read more about them here.

I submitted three items to the auction.   To bid, you have to go to the Con or Bust site, and post your bid as a comment on that item’s post.

Here’s what I submitted:

First:  A copy of the paperback British edition of The Steerswoman

Kirstein Steersw

Sure, we love our e-readers — but we love physical books even better.  But alas, the Steerswoman series only exists as a ebooks.

But wait — that was not always true!   Once they were all real objects existing in the real world — books you could hold, handle, page through at will.   Oh, if only you could have one of those…

Well, you can. And I’ll autograph it.

When the Brit publisher let the book go out of print, they offered to sell me a bunch of copies for a good price; and so I do have a number of these mass-market paperbacks of the first book.

Click here to head over to the Con or Bust auction site to bid.

Second item: a trade paperback of The Lost Steersman

Kirstein Steersman

 

A similar thing happened with Del Rey Books and The Lost Steersman :  “Do you want these copies that we are going to throw out?   If so, give us some money,” they said.  “Yes, I do,” I replied.  “And here’s some money.”

So I have a whole bunch of these… alas, they did not do the same with the other books in the series.  I don’t know why.

But here it is.  It can be yours. Autographed.  Existing in actual physical reality

Click here to go to the auction site to bid on this book.

 

Okay, now: Item Three is special.

“Lost Steersman” handmade blank journal

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

Back when I was writing The Lost Steersman,” I generated a lot of printouts.  My writer’s group, the Fabulous Genrettes, was in full swing, and I needed to give the ladies actual manuscripts to read and comment on, and scribble on, and return to me…

But I felt odd just throwing the manuscripts away afterwards.  That was my book!

Now, at that time I was also experimenting with paper-making, and it occurred to me that it might be especially cool to recycle the manuscripts into new paper.  So, I shredded the printouts, re-shredded them even finer, and did exactly that.

I like the way the paper came out.   And as a decorative effect, I included some less-shredded shreds, so that random words from the story would appear within the paper itself.

kirstein inner paper

closer view, if you click

I had been making hand-bound blank books as a hobby for years.  Having handmade paper brought it to a whole other level.

The journal measures 6.5 x 4.75 inches (16.51 x 12.06cm).   The endpaper is bark-paper,

KirsteinEndpaper

and the cover is marble paper (hand-marbled, although not by me).   It closes with an old silk ribbon (Alemeth being a center of silk-making, of course).

And the front is decorated with a little snail, in honor of the little snails in the book…

Little Snail

Little snail guaranteed not to eat the book.

The internal paper does not work well with ball-point pen, but is good with ink, felt-tip, and colored pencils. I provide one loose sheet of the same paper, so you can test your art materials beforehand.

 

Kirstein cover

click for more detail

Oh, and I include a paperback copy of The Lost Steersman, too.

If you’re interested, head over to Con or Bust to bid on this.

And be sure to look through the entire Con or Bust auction site for some really amazing things you can get.    Such as: naming rights to a character in a novel by John Scalzi, and a copy of a real Farscape script with an actual piece of the spaceship Moya.

 

I like the whole idea of Con or Bust, and here’s why I support it:

a) Everyone should read science fiction and fantasy.  SF/F is actually good for you!   It increases your intellectual and imaginative skills, deepens your understanding of the world, and can be a great source of joy.

b) Everyone who likes SF/F should go to a convention at some point in their life, multiple times if possible.  At conventions, you meet other like-minded people, people who take delight in the same things you do — and you learn that you are not weird, are not a misfit, and are not alone.  There are lots of us.  And we want you.

c) People of color, and especially African-Americans, are very often actively discouraged by educators and American society in general from pursuing intellectual goals, or seeking intellectual values.  Which also means that many potential readers — and potential writers — of SF/F are directed away from our field, away from all its delights and benefits.   But by helping people of color get to conventions, Con or Bust is acting directly against those negative messages.  It says, explicitly: you belong here.

So, there you are.  Some steerswoman-related objects for you, if you want them. Plus, a multitude of other items available, at all price ranges.

In other, unrelated news: Dammit, my printer died.

 


May 16 2016

Not a time warp.

Rosemary

But it feels like one.

I'm not still here. I'm just back here.

I’m not still here. I’m just back here.

I lost a lot of time this week to various household responsibilities, and preparations for this and that.  I feel like I got little done, when in fact I got plenty done — just with a lesser proportion of writing in the mix.   So, I rather feel like I’m back where I started… I’ll make up for the lack of prose this week; if possible I’m going to do all my larger non-writing tasks on Monday, giving me the rest of the week for the real work.

Meanwhile, in the grand tradition of “Let’s put the band back together!”, my writer’s group, The Fabulous Genrettes, is reactivating!  It’s been, what — four years?   We agreed that we missed us and wanted us back.   Happy days!   I volunteered to be first in the hot seat, and I have to decide what is presentable enough to be presented for feedback.

I did manage to get my walks and/or gym time in this week.  The gym is much more strenuous, and gives me a better overall workout — but I absolutely cannot work on anything creative while exercising.  It’s largely the environment: noisy, busy, filled with other human beings, dozens of screens with different moving images, and idiotic repetitive music piped in at high volume.  I can read a book on the treadmill or stationary bike, but not for very long before the surroundings overwhelm me, and earbuds can’t sufficiently block the music.   I can do an audiobook, but that doesn’t help with the visual chaos.

What works, alas, is TV on my iPad.

Yep.  A couple of TV shows, and I’m  an hour, sometimes two hours, working up a sweat.   I get all grumpy when the gym’s wifi is on the fritz, as it sometimes is.    And when I use the machines, I switch to an audiobook  (currently finishing up Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, which I’m enjoying a lot).

However, when I’m just walking in the woods, I can think about the story — or stories in general, or other artistic ideas.  So,  I’m going to put more woods into the mix.

Mysterious ruins in the forest...

Mysterious ruins in the forest…

In other news: live music!  Sabine and I went to a performance by the Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut, one member of which is a pal of ours.   The program included two excerpts from James Whitbourn’s Luminosity: “Lux in tenebris” and “Silence”.  It was a bit of a departure for this choir,  but I’m so glad they did it.   They introduced me to a new work, and a new composer.

Thanks to YouTube, you can hear it, too (performed by a different choir, that is).   (If you don’t have great speakers, use headphones for this.)  I haven’t yet listened to Luminosity in its entirety yet, but I will, soon —  and I love “Lux in tenebris” and “Silence.”

And lastly: Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer’s debut novel, is out and on my Kindle.  I won’t go into detail, as I haven’t finished it yet, but I will say that so far, it’s definitely living up to its advance press.   It is remarkable.  I really think you should read it.

In fact, there are free excerpts on Tor.com.   There you go.  Take it out for a test drive.  First four chapters, no commitments.

But here’s the Amazon link, because I think you’ll want it.

 


May 8 2016

Ambling along…

Rosemary

Hard at it.   Not much else to say…

Most days, I either hit the gym, or take a good walk.   Preferably in the woods…  and preferably alone, so I can emote freely, according to whatever scene I’m working on.

This from today’s walk:

 

Where the red trail and the horse trail and the cross-country skiing tral meet.

Where the red trail and the horse trail and the cross-country skiing trail meet.

 

Robin's egg. Possibly the most beautiful color in the world.

Robin’s egg. Possibly the most beautiful color in the world.

 

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And one of the loveliest sounds…