Jun 5 2018

News about people who are not me


Sundry events have kept me offline and intermittently out of the loop.  I have some serious catching-up to do.

I just got back from a couple of days hanging with author Laurie J. Marks and her wife Deb Mensinger, after spending  several days at her place the previous week.  I was there to help out, because Laurie suddenly had some major surgery.

But not to worry!  All is well.  A large but fortunately benign tumor was discovered, and had to be removed ASAP.  And a hyserectomy was performed  along with it.   So, rather a lot of surgery.   Deb’s own health is not great, and she does not drive at all — so my job was to chauffeur from the hospital, go shopping, bring casseroles from Sabine, and clean whatever needed more scrubbing than the others could manage.

Laurie is recovering with amazing swiftness!  By Sunday, I drove her and Deb out to a local nursery, where they spent a good long time in the fresh air and sunshine, walking around and picking out a variety of plants.  Then we hauled ’em all home, and they potted them (Laurie working cautiously from the comfort of a big Adirondack chair), and Deb arranged the result on their front steps.

Other news of others:

Remember that storybundle I took part in a couple of months ago?  Well, if you decided that you like the whole storybundle idea (a bunch of ebooks for one combined very low price), there’s one going on right now called “Myths and Legends.”   No, I’m not in it —  but Cat Rambo  is.

I tell you this because there are only a couple of days left to grab the storybundle, and Cat’s contribution is Beasts of Tabat, the first book in her Tabat Quartet series.  And I tell you that because the second book of the series, Hearts of Tabat, has just come out.


Cat is the person who curated the Feminist Futures storybundle that included The SteerswomanAlso, our current SFWA president.  Also, a nominee for both the Nebula and World Fantasy awards.  Just sayin’.

And here’s a thing of which you might not be aware: If you are a Kindle owner, you actually can download short samples of books you’re thinking of buying, totally free.  So, if you’re on the fence, or too reluctant to commit bucks to something you might not like, just try a sample.   Both Beasts of Tabat and Hearts of Tabat can be sampled this way through Amazon.

(Possibly the other ebook sellers and platforms also allow samples — but I only know about Kindle’s policy, that being the platform I use for my own reading.)

And that brings me to another thing I like about the whole ebook phenomenon in general: it encourages you to try unfamiliar authors.  Back when I first started reading  SF & Fantasy (approximately one million years ago), a paperback cost about the same as a bag of potato chips.  A book by someone you never heard of  before did not set you back, didn’t eat up your disposable income.  Even a kid like me could buy both a paperback book and a bag of potato chips.

The price-point on ebooks is often so much lower than the paperback or hardback versions, it’s once again worthwhile to take a chance on something totally new  — and with that sampling option, you can even try before you buy.

And some short news about people who are me:

Sabine and I did manage to get some of our planned improvements done, but others were postponed for various legitimate reasons.

We had some seriously nasty weather roll through our part of the state, including what were later identified as three small tornadoes!  They did not hit our town, but one of the towns affected was quite nearby.  The biggest damage in our condo complex resulted from a very tall, narrow, but lovely old oak crashing down on the ranks of mailboxes by the road.  But this caused us to push back some of the tasks that needed sunshine.

And then, we pushed back more tasks, since I found I had to schedule physical therapy twice a week for both my shoulders. I’ve been having some pain for a while, and finally admitted that it was not going to go away without real help.  I blame bad author ergonomics.

In aid of which I purchased this:


Kinesis Freestyle 2

We’ll see if it helps.  Too soon to tell.  But it’s already nice to be able to type without always keeping my hands front-and-center.

Finally: that AMA looms a mere nine days away.  Line up your Q’s and I’ll do my best to A.

May 27 2018

Gardner Dozois


Just moments ago, I got the news that Gardner Dozois has passed away.

I’m so saddened by this.  The work he did as an editor has helped shape our field.  When he took over editor of Asimov’s Magazine, he widened the stylistic scope of the stories published, and helped the magazine transform from an Analog/Astounding clone into its own distinct and important publication.   And the annual Year’s Best Science Fiction   anthologies were treasure troves; once the field of SF became so large one could no longer read everything published, it was Dozois who helped us find the best, the new directions and new voices.

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fourth Annual Collection by [Dozois, Gardner]

As usual, Twitter was the swiftest disseminator of the news.

He took over at Asimov’s just after they published my first short story.  For as long as he remained there, I kept hoping I’d sell a story to him.  Or later, that I’d be selected for inclusion in Year’s Best.

Now, I never will.

There are testimonials all over the internet, by people who knew him personally.   Look to them, for a real sense of his personality.

I know him only by his works.  And those works touched us all.

May 14 2018

Upcoming Reddit Ask Me Anything on June 14th


Some of you, on reading the title above, are going, “Excellent!”

Others are going, “Say what now?”

For people in the second group: Ask Me Anything (aka AMA) is a question and answer session conducted via the Reddit website.  Check out their Wikipedia entry for a more exhaustive background on Reddit’s history and mission, but here are some of the more  cogent aspects:

  1. Reddit is huge.
  2. It’s a discussion and aggregation website.
  3. It’s basically structured as a good ol’ online bulletin board.  Remember them?  No fancy graphics, no slick interface!  It’s what you say that counts, not how pretty your post looks.
  4.  It’s very wide-ranging.   It covers a lot of subjects, and they branch off into “subreddits.” (I’ll be on the /r/fantasy subreddit. )
  5. It’s the fourth most visited website on the Internet.  Yes, I said the fourth.

A lot of cool people have done AMA’s.  Here’s the raw list of previous /r/fantasy AMA’s. Pick a name, click on it — and it’s like you were right there when it was happening.  (Here’s a somewhat prettier list with upfront come-on blub, courtesy of Tor.com.)

I’m really excited about this.  It’s an honor to be invited!

I’m also a bit nervous.  It’s live, answer-as-it’s-asked.

Still I have a pretty good idea of what some of the questions will be, so I can prep myself beforehand.

On the day the AMA goes live, I’ll post the link here, on Facebook, and on Twitter.  You should stop by!  I’m planning to do it in the evening when most people in North America are home from work.  People in other hemispheres: alas, the world is round.  You’ll just  have to stay up late, if you’re in Europe, or get up early if you’re in India.

Random photo of a nice corner of my office. Just because.



Apr 29 2018

April, the month of multiple random events


In May, some necessary house repairs are going to happen,  so in preparation I’ve been hunkering down on the book and other writing-related tasks, to get as much done as I can before devoting my time to physical labor.

I managed to squeeze in some  traveling to visit friends who I’ve been neglecting.  Including writer Laurie J. Marks and her wife Deb Mensinger (who you may remember from discussions of her liver transplant a few years ago).  Laurie, by the way,  has handed in to her publisher, Small Beer Press, the last volume of her Elemental Logics series, Air Logic.  Despite having a very demanding day job at UMass, Laurie’s hard at work on her next novel, and we found some time to discuss  both her new work and Book 5 of the Steerswoman series.  We were both pleased with what the other had come up with, which is  a splended thing about talking to fellow writers.

By the sidewalk outside L&D’s little bungalow.

By the way, Book 5 is  now offically called The Changes of the Dark, a name I’ve gone back and forth on a few times.  But when I released the paperback of The Language of Power, I wanted to include a sample chapter of the next book at the end, as I did with the other volumes, and I finally needed some damn thing to call it!  I decided that there was nothing wrong with The Changes of the Dark as a name after all, so I’m goin’ with it.

The title comes from Einar’s “The Ghost Lover,” a song that keeps showing up in fragments in the series — and will continue to do so until eventually we see all of it.

The relevant section goes:

“Until my own hands meet once,
And fleeting, learn her place among
The empty spaces, I will arrange myself
Among the changes of the dark…”

My sister and I also visited our pals in New Hampshire, of whom I’ve spoken before — they of the lovely house on the pond with many blue herons and a very decorative cat.

What do you mean, you want to wash your face?

Mary Ann Eldred, owner of the cat above, is a painter, by the way, specializing in pastels:

The Other Golden Hour

Yes that’s pastel.  Pastel gets a bad rap from the general public, who tend to associate it with pretty little portraits.   Pastel artists can do anything with the medium.  You should check out her website.  (Her work can be purchased.  Just saying.)

Meanwhile annoying minor medical crap continues.  (Minor as in not life-threatening.)  That business I mentioned about my hands last time?  Still going on. Saw a doctor, got some meds, zero discernible effect.  They’ll be getting a querilous call from me on Monday, you bet.

I want to play guitar!  But I cannot.  Today I binged on listening to music, streaming albums from my youth, singing along at the top of my lungs, trying to satisfy my need to make music.  It helped a bit.

The Con or Bust auction is complete, and a lovely person in New Jersey now has autographed copies of all four books.   Someone else will be getting the Del Rey version of The Lost Steersman, as soon as Con or Bust tells me they’ve received the payment.

And the Feminist Futures storybundle was a success!   I didn’t make a ton of money, but I did make a bunch, and it was nice to be able to hit some bills with solid cash. Also, I bought an Ikea cabinet for my office, because I had some stuff just shoved into a corner and it was driving me nuts.  I’m not a neat person as a rule, but I can’t bear to have my office messy.  Visual chaos is just too distracting.  I’m terribly distractable — one reason I prefer to write in the dead of the night.

It being springtime, I find that when I come home in the early morning, the front lawn is leaping with bunnies.

Daytime photo. Also, back lawn.

Some of them seem oddly unafraid of my headlights, and of me trying to sneak up for a good photo.  Alas, night photos only result in eerie laser-eye shadow-bunnies, rather ominous-looking.

And now — again! — I’ve run out of time, by leaving my blogging until the end of my day.   I must get home and get some sleep.  I have to shift to a daytime schedule in order to do the home repairs with Sabine for next two weeks.  We’ve finally made up a schedule. Yes!  Clean that, paint this, remove that and paint it too.  Shift the furniture!  Spread the plastic, get out the brushes and painting paraphernalia.

I plan to watch TV in the evenings, out of sheer exhaustion.  By the way, if you stream Amazon Prime, I can recommend The Durrells in Corfu, based on the memoirs of naturalist Gerald Durrell (brother of the more-famous Serious Literary author, Lawrence Durrell).  It’s charming.  I enjoyed it so much I went and bought the books, which are even more charming, and have a lot more about young Gerry’s fascination with the native wildlife.  I was reminded strongly of my own wanderings in the woods as a kid, every leaf and caterpillar a source of amazement.

The Corfu Trilogy: My Family and Other Animals; Birds, Beasts and Relatives; and The Garden of the Gods


Apr 9 2018

It’s Con or Bust auction time again…


Yes, it’s that time of year, and the Con or Bust fundraising auction starts tomorrow.

As usual, I’ve contributed some items to the auction; not as usual, the items do not include my lovely and artistically handbound blank journals.

Because, alas, I’ve developed this wicked case of eczema on all the working surfaces of my hands — and that’s all the detail I’m going to give you on that because trust me, you do not want to know more.  It’s both creepy and gross.  I see a doctor on Tuesday.

So, I can’t actually use a needle and thread, which I need to make the journal insides; and the fine paper that I use for the covers and endpapers would suffer by being handled by me in my current state.  Also, messing around with glue would be a very bad idea.

Fortunately, I have other things I can contribute to the auction:

That’s a full set, autographed. Plus map.  You may embiggen for better detail.

All four books, and a separate map of Rowan’s world as of Volume 4.

It’s not obvious from the photo, but The Steerswoman is indeed somewhat smaller in size than the other three books.  So, if you desperately only want to have perfectly-matching copies, this is is not the set for you.  Or, you could get it anyway (proceeds go to Con or Bust, a very good cause indeed ), and when the larger-format version is released, pick up one of those to complete your set!

(I do plan to correct the size in the future, but it’s not yet high on my list of things to do that do not involve writing.   I really do need, for the next few months, to focus on generating actual art.)

Also available from me:

Wait, is that a first edition?

The Lost Steersman, autographed, in its original version published by Ballantine/Del Rey.   Hey,  now that new trade paperback versions of all the books exist, this has become a collectors item!   And I do so love the cover of this book…

There are plenty of other cool, rare, fascinating, helpful, peculiar, lovely and/or neccessary things you can get at the auction.

Let’s just pick a few examples at random:

Memorabilia from the Farscape TV show, consisting of an actual signed script, and a piece of the living spaceship, Moya.

Personal consultation on your podcast idea, with an actual podcasting professional.

Wait — a balcony stateroom for two on the 2019 JoCo Cuise?  Seriously? Holy  crap.  Well, minimum bid for that is $2000.  But if I had the bucks to spare, that’s what I’d go for.  The JoCo music/SFF/Nerd-dom cruises are legendary.

Also: any number of books, including rare and signed, but also including random and quirky.  Story critiques by actual professionals.  And bunches of handicrafts.  Chocolate!

Or just browse through all the available items at the  Con or Bust auction site.

This is why I support Con or Bust:

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 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.  I view this as a crime, and a tragedy.  And it 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 do belong here.

Someday, Con or Bust won’t need to exist.  This is not that day.

Meanwhile, I  want more: I want more readers, more writers, more voices telling me tales of wonder.  Con or Bust helps that happen.  So, I help Con or Bust.

Mar 22 2018

Nicole Kimberling lays it on the line! (And quotes the StoryBundle authors)


In a nifty article in The Mary Sue, Nicole Kimberling reminds us why we still need feminist science fiction — and the different forms it can take.


“Happy Snak is about a woman who owns a dinky snack bar in space. She fraternizes with aliens and refuses to comply with arbitrary regulations but is otherwise largely apolitical. Why, I wondered, would anybody consider this feminist? Then, thinking further, I realized that for many women, just being themselves and making (and spending) their own money is still considered a threatening and subversive act. (I’ve got my eye you, Quiverfull.)”

Nicole goes on to explore the whole question of  how a non-political story can be “feminist,” with lots of quotes from the other authors in the bundle.

The books in the Feminist Futures bundle really do show a wide range of styles, points of view, content — but what I see common among them is that they show women being themselves, and not a sidekick in someone else’s adventure.  Western society at large formally accepts the idea of women’s autonomy, but when it comes down to some of the folks you meet in life — well, let’s just say that there are significant holdouts.

We need lots more good examples, lots more engaging tales to be read and loved for their own sake.  And when they also promote the idea that a woman as protagonist is perfectly acceptable, even normal — well, that’s helping us create the future, right?

The Feminist Futures StoryBundle is still available for one more week — and then it will be gone!

It includes:

Starfarers Quartet Omnibus – Books 1-4 by Vonda N. McIntyre
The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein
Happy Snak by Nicole Kimberling
Spots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth
The Terrorists of Irustan by Louise Marley
Alanya to Alanya by L. Timmel Duchamp
Code of Conduct by Kristine Smith
Queen & Commander by Janine A. Southard
The Birthday Problem by Caren Gussoff
To Shape the Dark by Athena Andreadis


I am a bonus.

Mar 19 2018

Nicole Kimberling and Happy Snak


Ten days left on the Feminist Futures Storybundle (which includes The Steerswoman), and curator Cat Rambo has uploaded another interview.  This one is with Nicole Kimblerling, talking about her novel Happy Snak, and how research can lead you to a whole unexpected second career…


Don’t forget that you can sample the books in the bundle by clicking on the cover images to read an excerpt. And that the bundle includes 10 authors.

In non-bundle news: My plan of keeping my non-writing commitments to a minimum for the month of March is paying off.  My brain seems to have much more room in it!  This is especially useful when the structure of the plot on hand can only be visualized as a multilevel, three-dimensional, construct.  This sounds more complicated than it actually is, as I realized when I got enough of the thing in place to enable me to infer the rest.

Also, clearing away the debris of previous attempts helped…

Mar 13 2018

Cat Rambo interviews Athena Andreadis about To Shape the Dark


More on the Feminist Futures StoryBundle (of which I am a part), with StoryBundle curator Cat Rambo talking to Athena Andreadis about the anthology To Shape the Dark.  The theme was women in science, and Andreadis discusses approaching writers whose work she especially likes, hoping they’d contribute a story.  Hearing her reminded me of the stories I particularly liked, myself, and I really must say that this anthology is well worth acquiring!

And you can acquire it easily by acquiring the StoryBundle.  Easy!


Also, here’s an especially neat anecdote about Vonda McIntyre’s Starfarer series (also in the bundle) and the unusual way by which it came to existence at all…

In completely unrelated news, the latest snowstorm wasn’t so very bad after all, and the new accumulation around here has already turned into melted water, for the most part, — and treacherously turning into ice on all surfaces.  Luckily, this was one of my at-home days, taking care of my non-creative, general-life chores, so no driving was neccessary.  Back to the office tomorrow…

Mar 8 2018

The Feminist Futures Story Bundle


Last month, much to my surprise, I discovered an email in my inbox from Cat Rambo, the current president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (aka SFWA), of which I am a member.

Oh, says I.  Look at that. Whatever can this mean?  SFWA business?  In arrears on my dues?  Zombie apocolypse? (Because, when that happens, you know we’ll be the first to know.)

Nope.  It turned out to be a request to participate in the Feminist Futures Story Bundle, curated by none other than Cat herself.   I replied, as quickly as possible: “Yes, please.”

Do you not know what a story bundle is?  Here’s how it works.

They take a selection of ebooks, often with a common theme, package them together, and offer them for sale… with these interesting differences:

  • You pay as much as you like (above the minimum of $5) and get four titles.
  • If you decide to pay $15 or more, you get an extra six titles.
  • You, the buyer, decide what proportion of your payment goes to the authors, and what proportion goes to keep StoryBundle.com alive.
  • You can choose to give some of the proceeds to charities that encourage young writers.
  • All the ebooks are DRM-free.

Cat pulled this collection together just in time for Woman’s History Month — and I think it rather neat to celebrate history by looking at the future — as written by women.   All these books are by women, and all of them feature women in the starring roles.

Here’s what you get for a mere $5:

That’s $1.25 apeice, folks…

And if you decide to pay $15 or more, you also get these:

I am a bonus.

Personally, I’m especially looking forward to reading Vonda McIntyre’s Starfarer’s Quartet Omnibus which, I must point out, is actually four books in one.  So really, for $15 you’d get the equivalent of thirteen books.

And you can, if you wish, pay more than $15… which does mean more for the authors.  At a proportion that you choose yourself.

Really, it’s a neat concept.

Here’s what Cat Rambo herself has to say about the bundle.

And yes, you probably already have The Steerswoman.  Possibly in more than one format.  I suspect this, because you’re here!  You must have read something by me.

But here’s a chance to try some new books, new female authors, some of whom you may come to love.

Nervous about taking a chance?  Fortunately, you can check out excerpts from each of these.  Just go to the StoryBundle website. click on any cover, and read the sample.

I think this is amazing fun, and I’m thrilled to be part of it.   You should check it out. The Feminist Futures StoryBundle is only available until March 29th.

(StoryBundle is also currently running a bundle of Sorcery & Steam ebooks, curated by Kristine Kathryn Rusch,  and a variety pack of Young Adult novels, curated by Nick Harlow. Those are ending sooner — March 14, I believe.)

And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last week  — because although I heard about it last month, it wasn’t until last Tuesday that I learned exactly what I had to provide (epub version, mobi version, both with covers attached, a separate cover image, blurbs, exerpts, etc) and I had to hand it all in by the Friday.  Much dashing about ensued.

That done, I shall go back to what I was doing: cooling off from the heated production of the paperback steerswoman books, updating my website links (all out of date, now that the paperbacks exist), cogitating deeply, and writing.

Also, playing some guitar.  Just because.

Mar 5 2018

If it’s not one thing, it’s another…


… which, of course, is a true statement about existence in general, really.  Because if it’s not one thing, it pretty much has to be another.  Those are the only actual alternatives.

But in this case it’s : just when you think you’re completed some specific task that’s been taking up all your time for, oh, a couple of months, causing you to neglect all sorts of stuff, and you can now catch your breath, catch up on sleep, catch up up on people, relax, reconfigure, settle in and get things  on an even keel —

— just then something else pops up that needs your attention and action Right Now.

Not a bad thing; no, no, quite the opposite.   A nice thing.  And one that needs being done immediately.

Well.  Do the thing, of course.  And glad to do it!

But, it means that the people you want to catch up with, and respond to (and apologize to!) have to wait a bit longer.  Which, fact, of course, merits its own apology…

Anyway, more about the Sudden Thing shortly (she said mysteriously).