Sep 30 2015

Memory tweak courtesy of Kalessin

Rosemary

Reader Kalessin just reminded me that there was another out-take posted here previously — and I found it.   This is from The Lost Steersman, and contains only the most minor (in my opinion) of spoilers…  But if you haven’t yet read that book, maybe you might want to skip it until you have?   You decide.

Here it is:

 

The boat shifted on the wharf-side, rocked back into position. Someone had come aboard. “Rowan?”

The steerswoman clambered up to the deck. “Here.”

Zenna was outlined by lights from the harborside buildings. “You took your time,” Rowan noted.

“I lost track. I found something interesting in the Annex.”

“What?”

Zenna maneuvered awkwardly across the gently rocking deck. “Let’s go below. We need some light.”

“What is it?” Puzzled, Rowan led the way below, preceding Zenna and carrying the other woman’s crutches as she descended the companionway.

Seated at Janus’ little table, Zenna pulled an object from her satchel, handed it to Rowan. “Look at this.”

A steerswoman’s logbook, of a design standard forty years ago. Rowan turned to the first page. “Mira’s?” The leather was crusted with damp-mold. Rowan pried apart the warped pages.

Zenna leaned forward and indicated something tucked between two leaves.  Rowan pulled it out: a folded and refolded sheet. “Is it a map?” She lifted one edge, took one look —

Then dropped the book, snatched the candle nearer, set the chart on the table and set to unfolding it — but carefully, carefully, so as not to break the aged paper…

Fine lines, delicate colors, more like a work of art than a map. Roads mere gray threads, almost invisible in the candle-light; towns a spread of tiny rectangles, possibly indicating the individual buildings themselves. Rivers, brooks, every upthrust of crag and hill: all in maddening detail, in washes of color impossibly steady and pure. She had seen such a map before. “This is a wizard’s map.”

“I figured as much.”

Rowan’s mind was a flurry of excitement, as she mentally tested superpositions of known Steerswomen’s maps. “This part might be the northern limb of the Mountains.” She found a town she knew. “Here’s Terminus.” Farms were identifiable by the regularity of their limits but there were fewer than she knew there to be. “This map was already old when Mira found it.” Fields showed distinctive colors, perhaps schematically representing type of crop; or perhaps, Rowan thought with an eerie thrill, perhaps depicting the actual color of each kind of vegetation, as seen by an eye hung high above the world.

Zenna indicated the western section of the chart.

“Yes,” Rowan said, feeling a grin on her own face. Beyond the known mountains: yet more mountains, continuing, peak behind peak, and none of them to be found on any Steerswomen’s map, none of them seen by or known to any steerswoman. “This is wonderful! Look, look at this gray area; I think that’s a narrow valley, and if the color is right it must be blackgrass that’s growing there, like they have in the Outskirts. And look, this lake here, with the brook –” Rowan laughed out loud. “Skies above, Zenna, we’re looking at the source of the River Wulf!”

Zenna watched her, head tilted slightly back. She had recovered the logbook; now she held it toward Rowan, open to one page, where one sentence stood alone:

They know everything.

Rowan glanced at the words, shook her head at the distraction, and immediately returned to the treasure of the wizard’s chart. “Zenna, here, look at these faint numbers; they’re everywhere. When I saw them on Shammer and Dhree’s map, I thought at first that they might be elevations, but they don’t match ours at all…I wonder what they might be?”

Zenna placed the logbook before her again, on top of the chart. She indicated the lone sentence.

“What?” Rowan asked her.

As if the action constituted reply, Zenna riffled the rest of the pages, to the back of the book; all were blank.

Rowan looked down at it, then up into her friend’s face. Zenna was expecting some specific reaction. Rowan shook her head, spread her hands.

Zenna prompted her. “Who do you think ‘they’ are?”

“The wizards, I assume.”

“So do I,” Zenna said. “It explains a lot, don’t you think?”

Rowan was completely at sea. “What does it explain?”

“Mira. We were wondering how any steerswoman could ever possibly come to live and behave as Mira did. How she could ever abandon her work, and all regard for the work of the Steerswomen.”

Rowan looked at the map, at the words in the book. “I don’t understand.”

“But don’t you see? Mira somehow acquired this map — it’s very old, she might have come by it any number of ways — and she saw how much more the wizards know than we do.”

“But that goes without saying. Of course they know more than we do, about any number of things.”

“Everything we try to find out, they already know.”

“Possibly.” Rowan sat regarding the other woman, and worked through a number of intellectual recombinations of the information at hand, trying to fathom Zenna’s behavior. She failed. She threw out her arms helplessly. “And?”

Zenna’s frustration was melting into something like amazement. “You really don’t see, do you?”

“Not at all.”

Zenna looked at her for a long, disbelieving moment; then astonishingly, she laughed out loud. “Oh, Rowan!” She pushed herself erect and threw herself half-falling into Rowan’s arms, embracing her, laughing. “Oh, Rowan, bless you, please, never change! Stay like this for the rest of your life!”

Rowan held her, uncomfortably wedged amid arms, table, and chair-back. “You mean,” she said over Zenna’s head, “confused?”

“No, of course not.” Zenna clumsily extracted herself and regained her seat. “Rowan,” she began; and her expression was so filled with affection and admiration that Rowan felt disturbed and deeply uncomfortable at its inexplicability, “what’s more important: truth, or the act of discovering it?”

Rowan opened her mouth to reply, then hesitated. “You can’t separate the two. For a truth to exist, someone has to discover it.”

“And you’d like that someone to be you.”

“It’s what I love to do.”

“Suppose that you discovered something, something you thought was known only to you, then found that someone else had been there already, had already known everything you struggled to learn?”

Rowan shifted uncomfortably, made vague gestures. “I suppose I’d try to gain access to that person’s work. Perhaps the person knows even more, and could save me a lot of time and effort.”

“But it wouldn’t bother you?”

“Why should it?”

Zenna folded her hands and spoke slowly and patiently. “Suppose you were different than you are. Suppose that what you loved most was not just truth, nor the act of discovery,” and she stressed the next words, “but the fact of being the discoverer.”

Rowan felt she needed all of her concentration to follow this, and she closed her eyes, straining in thought. “I don’t see any distinction. A discoverer discovers. That’s what it means.”

“The fact of being the first one, of being that person who has struggled and striven, and has come back with knowledge that would not exist, but for you.”

“But the truth doesn’t care who discovers it.”

“People do care.”

Rowan was disappointed. “Are you saying that… that what Mira cared for was securing other people’s regard?” Such a petty thing…

“No. Not just other people’s. When one says ‘people’, one has to include oneself. We regard ourselves, Rowan. We think of ourselves, and we care about what we are.” Zenna pulled the logbook across the table, turned it so it faced her, flipped through the earlier pages. “I think Mira loved her life because it permitted her to be what she wanted to be. In her own eyes, not the eyes of others, it gave her stature, it gave meaning to her life. She wanted to be the one who finds things out. The first. New things, that no one had known before.

“She had been working in the western mountains, you know; that was her area. But when she found this map, she realized that the thing she loved about herself was untrue, a sham. It had all been done before, by others, and much better than she ever could have done.”

Rowan looked down at her scarred hands — human hands lying on the impossible, magical colors of the map. “But it doesn’t matter…”

“Not to you. It mattered to her. Try to see it her way. Think of the thing that you love best about yourself, and imagine it taken away.”

Rowan tried, failed. “I don’t know what I love best about myself…” She sought for it in her mind, but there seemed to be nothing to seek. “I… I don’t think I can break myself into pieces like that.” And viewed that way, it did seem there was something, not a separate thing, but more like an aspect; but she could not hold on to it. It was like trying to touch the green-ness of a leaf without touching the leaf. “Whatever it is,” Rowan said, “I don’t think it can be taken from me.”

“Perhaps you’re right about that.” Zenna’s face again showed that glowing admiration, and Rowan shied away from it almost physically, thinking: I‘ve done nothing to deserve that.

“Then,” Zenna continued, “imagine anything you love. Imagine it gone.”

Rowan found she had many specific examples. “I’d do what I can to get it back,” she said immediately.

“And if that were impossible?”

Rowan had not thought of Fletcher for months; she thought of him again now. “It depends on why it was lost. If it was taken from me, I think I’d try to exact some sort of justice.”

“And if that were impossible, too?”

Rowan threw up her hands. “I’d adjust to the situation and set my mind on something else. Are you saying simply that Mira was unwilling to accept a fact outside of her control? And is this intended to enable me to sympathize with her? Because it’s doing exactly the opposite; I hope you can see that.”

“Hm. I can see I’m getting nowhere. Has it ever occurred to you that not everyone is as strong as you are?”

“You’re using the term ‘strong’ in a very vague way. But, come to think of it, that doesn’t matter. Because, yes, I’m aware that some people are not as strong as I am, just as I’m aware that there are plenty of people far stronger than I, by whatever definition of the word you choose.”

What spoilers there may be here, I consider extremely minor — we hear about Mira on nearly the first page  of The Lost Steersman.  And the fact that a person called Zenna shows up at some point is hardly going to make one throw the book across the room and declare: “Well, now there’s no point in reading this at all!   Curse you, spoilermeister!”

For persons who have read the book, this bit would have gone between chapters 27 and 28.

Why did I not include it?  Well… look at the end of Chapter 27.  And look at the beginning of Chapter 28.  Anything put between them would surely kill the drama — which is why I did not even finish the scene, and the excerpt ends here so abruptly.

But in my head, these events did happen.   So, I might slot this into a later book, as a flashback, or a reference; or someone (possibly Zenna) might speak of it to another person.

In other words:  It’s canon.

 


Aug 16 2015

On Maps

Rosemary

Way back in the misty depths of time, when I sold The Steerswoman to Del Rey Books, a conversation more or less like this took place one day:

Me:  And I think there should be a map, too.

Them: That’s a great idea.  There should definitely be a map!

Me:  Great!  Let’s have a map.

Them: Right.

(silence)

Me: So… I guess we should get this book to whoever is doing the map —

Them:  — and that would be you.

Me:  Me?

Them: You.

I had never made a map.  I loved maps.  I’d read atlases for fun, and dream of far-off lands… but I’d never done one.

But now I had to do it — and it seemed I had to do it really soon.   I grabbed every fantasy-style book with a map that I could find, got to the art store, figured out what I needed…

Hey, this was before the Internet, okay?  Well, not completely before, but well before the Internet was a useful tool for the average tech-savvy person to use for research.  All my research was in person with physical books in libraries.

In the end, I managed to produce a map that did the job.

So… if you purchased a first edition of The Steerswoman, this is what you saw:

ouch

Ouch.

Sad. Very sad.  But the best I could do at that point.

And I discovered something: I liked doing it.   It was fun.  And if you like something, you tend to get better at it.

Here’s the map that goes along with the  The Steerswoman now:

Use CTL+ and CTL- to zoom in and out.

Click for full size, then  CTL+ and CTL- to zoom in and out.

If you read the ebook on an iPad, or a Kindle Fire, this map is zoomable right in the book.  And you can zoom a lot.   If you’re on a Kindle Paperwhite, or other non-color Kindle, it’s not zoomable — but still clear, and rather pretty (I also provide a URL to see the map online).

I’ve always had the idea that each book’s map will expand on the previous, so that your view of Rowan’s world will expand as her knowledge grows.   When Del Rey did the omnibus of the first two books combined (as The Steerswoman’s Road) I had to combine the map for The Outskirter’s Secret with the map for The Steerswoman, and I feel we lost that sense of the world expanding.  But now that they’re separate again as ebooks, I can have a different map for the second book again:

 

As ever, bigger is but a click away.

As ever, bigger is but a click away.

 

And by the time The Lost Steersman comes around:

 

Eastward expansion...

Eastward expansion…

Each map shows Rowan’s understanding of her world as of the beginning of the book (more or less).

The latest map, of course, is for The Language of Power —

Wait, do you really want to see that one?  Because it contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Lost Steersman!  If you haven’t read that yet, you might not want to go there…

Well, if you must, then click this link.

And what’s coming up?

More.

Also, more detail.  As well as widening the view, the next books will include some closer views of important locations.   Of course, I’m really looking forward to The Crags map, because of the extremely interesting way that city is laid out.

And in other news:  Going to Worldcon!   I might not be able to post much for the next, although I should manage a tweet or two (I am @rkirstein).

Maybe I’ll see you there…

 

 

 

 

 


Jun 15 2015

Stealth sale.

Rosemary

For secret marketing reasons, I needed to find out how quickly Amazon’s Kindle store and the other ebook outlets respond when a book’s price is changed.

So, I did a test, and changed the price on The Lost Steersman and The Language of Power.

Answer: Amazon posted the new price immediately, as did Smashword’s own site.  The iBooks store and Kobo both had the change within 14 hours later.  Barnes and Noble took about 48 hours.

Good to know.

But hey, happy side effect:  those two books now cost a dollar less than they did before!

 

TLS cover small

This one

 

 

Four out of four.

Also this one

 

So, for anyone who was on the fence about buying the third and fourth books in the series —

Well.  Just thought I’d mention it…

 


May 8 2014

The Lost Steersman now up on Smashwords

Rosemary

Thought I’d try to get this done before being knocked flat by surgery tomorrow…

 

TLS cover small

Clickable!

 

Smashwords has it in all formats, and as usual, will promulgate them out to iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc.  It will appear on those sellers’ sites according to the sellers’ own schedules.   They’re not immediate, as you know.

The Language of Power should follow in a couple of weeks…

Must go now, other stuff that has to get done before tomorrow…


May 7 2014

Review for The Lost Steersman is up

Rosemary

The estimable James Davis Nicoll continues reviewing the Steerswoman series with book 3, The Lost Steersman, with interesting discussion in the comments in his LiveJournal blog.  It’s also up on his Dreamwidth site; nobody seems to comment, over there.   I guess the LiveJournal people are just livelier!

As ever, MANY SPOILERS — so, be warned!

By the way, if you know of other current reviews of the series (or are reviewing it yourself), if you let me know, and I’ll post about here.   I do a google search every now and then, but you might know before I do…

Meanwhile, The Lost Steersman is currently being set up for Smashwords, so depending on whether or not it needs further tweaks, and how I feel post-surgery, it could be on sale for non-Kindle sometime next week.

Other meanwhile: still in the countdown to surgery.  I thought I wasn’t all that nervous, but surprise!  I am.   I can tell because I can’t focus on anything for very long, I dither over simple things, and I want to watch more television than is good for me.

But I’m sure it will all be fine.  They know what they’re doing.


Apr 1 2014

Many thanks! Plus: Bumped by the blizzard

Rosemary

I want to thank all the people who jumped right in and bought copies of the ebooks for The Outskirter’s Secret and The Lost Steersman last week — My royalty check for the month of March is going to look very pretty!   And since my disability payments are only a fraction of my regular wage, the royalties help me a whole lot — so, again, my thanks to you all.

(Yes, Amazon pays out royalties on a monthly basis.  There’s a two-month delay between the month’s final calculation and the actual payment, so I’ll get paid for March at the end of May; but I can see what my sales are, and what my royalties will be, in as close to real-time as makes no difference.  This is VERY different from traditional publishing.)

I’ve emerged from my steroid crash, and am once again awake and alert.   So, The Language of Power ebook will be out before the end of this month.

In other news: I was supposed to get my Herceptin-only infusion on Monday, but to everyone’s surprise, the day dawned with rain, hail, sleet and snow coming down in remarkable amounts at astonishing speeds.   Last day of March!   You know the proverb about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb — but apparently this year “going out like a lamb” refers to some poor lamb being born in a blizzard (which I understand does happen) and then DYING OF EXPOSURE to the cruel elements before the the shepherd manages to find it and carry it to the shepherd hut to warm up (I’m picturing Granny Aching from Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men series, here).

We tried to get out to the hospital, but every route we tried had a spinout, or an accident, or a bus spinning its wheels, unable to make it up an unplowed hill.  We had to turn around.

So, doing it today instead.  The Chemo suite is jammed with people: Tuesday’s regulars, plus those bumped from Monday.

The trend is still generally good — the tumor’s shrinkage means we’ll be doing a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy.   This is excellent.  However, lumpectomies “come with” radiation therapy, as my oncologist puts it.   Previously we’d thought we might be able to do without the radiation.  But this is a trade-off I’m happy to make!  Because: no mastectomy.

One fairly inconvenient thing: a significant percentage of patients being treated with Taxol have a side-effect called peripheral neuropathy, where they develop pins-and-needles sensations and numbness, which starts at the tips of the fingers and toes, and can sometimes creep further and further up.    I’m one of those patients, unfortunately; but fortunately, my symptoms are comparatively mild.

But, a further downside: it can be permanent.   We won’t know if it’s permanent in my case, unless it actually fails to go away — and even the temporary kind can take many months to clear up.   But I count myself lucky that it’s no worse than it is.   Because: Hey, I’m not dead!   I win!

Other good news:  when my pal Brian was here filling in in as caretaker while Sabine caught some sea & sun in Florida, he discovered a good Indian restaurant just down the street from me.  Excellent, another win!

It’s Wins all around, basically.


Feb 19 2014

Con or Bust auction: All the Steerswoman books, plus map and jewel

Rosemary

I finished my offering for the Con or Bust auction, and it’s up for bidding right now!

Here’s what you get:

all the books.  A map.  A mysterious jewel-like object

all the books. A map. A mysterious jewel-like object

These are the trade paperbacks, published by Del Rey.  The first book, The Steerswoman’s Road combines The Steerswoman and The Outskirter’s Secret in combination, so with these three books  you get all four volumes of the series.

The map is Rowan’s world as of the beginning of Book 4, so it includes the Dolphin Stair from The Lost Steersman.   The map is framed in a shadowbox, and I’ve included an example of the so-called jewel that started the whole story back in Book 1.

If you win the auction, I’ll ship these to you anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere.  (South of the equator, shipping costs get crazy.  I’m looking at you, Australia and New Zealand.  If you really want these, have me ship to a pal of yours in the Northern Hemisphere, and you and he or she can work it out from there.)

Secret fact not mentioned on Con or Bust, known only to you: the paper on which the map is printed was hand-made by me, back in my paper-making days.  I think it came out pretty nice.  And I’ll include a blank sheet of that same paper for your own use.

And naturally, I’ll autograph the books at your  request.  You can choose just the autograph and date, or I’ll personalize it (“To YourNameHere, SomeNiceComment, etc.”)  Sometimes people don’t want autographs  to be personalized, since it affects the book’s resale value — and these books are now out of print, and very hard to find.

So, if you want these, head over to the Con or Bust auction, and put in a bid.   Bidding ends on February 23 at 5PM Eastern Time.

And while you’re over there, browse through the other items up for auction.   There are some lovely, interesting, and exciting items and services donated by all sorts of people.   If you look at the tags list in the right-hand column on the Con or Bust page, you can browse by categories — or you can just continue to click through page after page of random cool stuff (my preferred method of exploration).

And don’t forget Delia Sherman’s auction offering: a critique of your novel, via Skype!


Aug 5 2013

For no particular reason, an out-take from The Lost Steersman.

Rosemary

I was doing some file cleanup and backup and reorganization, and it brought to mind some scenes and bits that were edited out of the final versions of some of the Steerswoman books…

The things that were cut were all cut for various good reasons — mostly having to do with focus and pacing.  But I was a bit sorry to see this particular bit go, since without it something unexplained had to remain unexplained.

So, it occurred to me that some of you might be interested in seeing it…

Just a lost fragment that never made the final cut.  Incomplete — not even an entire scene.  And ending rather abruptly, as (so I now believe) I realized that it would not fit smoothly into the thread of the tale, and so just stopped writing it.

But interesting (well, to me), and an explanation of sorts.

It takes place the night before Rowan, Steffie and Zenna sail away in Janus’ nameless boat:

——

The boat shifted on the wharf-side, rocked back into position. Someone had come aboard. “Rowan?”

The steerswoman clambered up to the deck. “Here.”

Zenna was outlined by lights from the harborside buildings. “You took your time,” Rowan noted.

“I lost track. I found something interesting in the Annex.”

“What?”

Zenna maneuvered awkwardly across the gently rocking deck. “Let’s go below. We need some light.”

“What is it?” Puzzled, Rowan led the way below, preceding Zenna and carrying the other woman’s crutches as she descended the companionway.

Seated at Janus’ little table, Zenna pulled an object from her satchel, handed it to Rowan. “Look at this.”

A steerswoman’s logbook, of a design standard forty years ago. Rowan turned to the first page. “Mira’s?” The leather was crusted with damp-mold. Rowan pried apart the warped pages.

Zenna leaned forward and indicated something tucked between two leaves.  Rowan pulled it out: a folded and refolded sheet. “Is it a map?” She lifted one edge, took one look —

Then dropped the book, snatched the candle nearer, set the chart on the table and set to unfolding it — but carefully, carefully, so as not to break the aged paper…

Fine lines, delicate colors, more like a work of art than a map. Roads mere gray threads, almost invisible in the candle-light; towns a spread of tiny rectangles, possibly indicating the individual buildings themselves. Rivers, brooks, every upthrust of crag and hill: all in maddening detail, in washes of color impossibly steady and pure. She had seen such a map before. “This is a wizard’s map.”

“I figured as much.”

Rowan’s mind was a flurry of excitement, as she mentally tested superpositions of known Steerswomen’s maps. “This part might be the northern limb of the Mountains.” She found a town she knew. “Here’s Terminus.” Farms were identifiable by the regularity of their limits but there were fewer than she knew there to be. “This map was already old when Mira found it.” Fields showed distinctive colors, perhaps schematically representing type of crop; or perhaps, Rowan thought with an eerie thrill, perhaps depicting the actual color of each kind of vegetation, as seen by an eye hung high above the world.

Zenna indicated the western section of the chart.

“Yes,” Rowan said, feeling a grin on her own face. Beyond the known mountains: yet more mountains, continuing, peak behind peak, and none of them to be found on any Steerswomen’s map, none of them seen by or known to any steerswoman. “This is wonderful! Look, look at this gray area; I think that’s a narrow valley, and if the color is right it must be blackgrass that’s growing there, like they have in the Outskirts. And look, this lake here, with the brook –” Rowan laughed out loud. “Skies above, Zenna, we’re looking at the source of the River Wulf!”

Zenna watched her, head tilted slightly back. She had recovered the logbook; now she held it toward Rowan, open to one page, where one sentence stood alone:

They know everything.

Rowan glanced at the words, shook her head at the distraction, and immediately returned to the treasure of the wizard’s chart. “Zenna, here, look at these faint numbers; they’re everywhere. When I saw them on Shammer and Dhree’s map, I thought at first that they might be elevations, but they don’t match ours at all…I wonder what they might be?”

Zenna placed the logbook before her again, on top of the chart. She indicated the lone sentence.

“What?” Rowan asked her.

As if the action constituted reply, Zenna riffled the rest of the pages, to the back of the book; all were blank.

Rowan looked down at it, then up into her friend’s face. Zenna was expecting some specific reaction. Rowan shook her head, spread her hands.

Zenna prompted her. “Who do you think ‘they’ are?”

“The wizards, I assume.”

“So do I,” Zenna said. “It explains a lot, don’t you think?”

Rowan was completely at sea. “What does it explain?”

“Mira. We were wondering how any steerswoman could ever possibly come to live and behave as Mira did. How she could ever abandon her work, and all regard for the work of the Steerswomen.”

Rowan looked at the map, at the words in the book. “I don’t understand.”

“But don’t you see? Mira somehow acquired this map — it’s very old, she might have come by it any number of ways — and she saw how much more the wizards know than we do.”

“But that goes without saying. Of course they know more than we do, about any number of things.”

“Everything we try to find out, they already know.”

“Possibly.” Rowan sat regarding the other woman, and worked through a number of intellectual recombinations of the information at hand, trying to fathom Zenna’s behavior. She failed. She threw out her arms helplessly. “And?”

Zenna’s frustration was melting into something like amazement. “You really don’t see, do you?”

“Not at all.”

Zenna looked at her for a long, disbelieving moment; then astonishingly, she laughed out loud. “Oh, Rowan!” She pushed herself erect and threw herself half-falling into Rowan’s arms, embracing her, laughing. “Oh, Rowan, bless you, please, never change! Stay like this for the rest of your life!”

Rowan held her, uncomfortably wedged amid arms, table, and chair-back. “You mean,” she said over Zenna’s head, “confused?”

“No, of course not.” Zenna clumsily extracted herself and regained her seat. “Rowan,” she began; and her expression was so filled with affection and admiration that Rowan felt disturbed and deeply uncomfortable at its inexplicability, “what’s more important: truth, or the act of discovering it?”

Rowan opened her mouth to reply, then hesitated. “You can’t separate the two. For a truth to exist, someone has to discover it.”

“And you’d like that someone to be you.”

“It’s what I love to do.”

“Suppose that you discovered something, something you thought was known only to you, then found that someone else had been there already, had already known everything you struggled to learn?”

Rowan shifted uncomfortably, made vague gestures. “I suppose I’d try to gain access to that person’s work. Perhaps the person knows even more, and could save me a lot of time and effort.”

“But it wouldn’t bother you?”

“Why should it?”

Zenna folded her hands and spoke slowly and patiently. “Suppose you were different than you are. Suppose that what you loved most was not just truth, nor the act of discovery,” and she stressed the next words, “but the fact of being the discoverer.”

Rowan felt she needed all of her concentration to follow this, and she closed her eyes, straining in thought. “I don’t see any distinction. A discoverer discovers. That’s what it means.”

“The fact of being the first one, of being that person who has struggled and striven, and has come back with knowledge that would not exist, but for you.”

“But the truth doesn’t care who discovers it.”

“People do care.”

Rowan was disappointed. “Are you saying that… that what Mira cared for was securing other people’s regard?” Such a petty thing…

“No. Not just other people’s. When one says ‘people’, one has to include oneself. We regard ourselves, Rowan. We think of ourselves, and we care about what we are.” Zenna pulled the logbook across the table, turned it so it faced her, flipped through the earlier pages. “I think Mira loved her life because it permitted her to be what she wanted to be. In her own eyes, not the eyes of others, it gave her stature, it gave meaning to her life. She wanted to be the one who finds things out. The first. New things, that no one had known before.

“She had been working in the western mountains, you know; that was her area. But when she found this map, she realized that the thing she loved about herself was untrue, a sham. It had all been done before, by others, and much better than she ever could have done.”

Rowan looked down at her scarred hands — human hands lying on the impossible, magical colors of the map. “But it doesn’t matter…”

“Not to you. It mattered to her. Try to see it her way. Think of the thing that you love best about yourself, and imagine it taken away.”

Rowan tried, failed. “I don’t know what I love best about myself…” She sought for it in her mind, but there seemed to be nothing to seek. “I… I don’t think I can break myself into pieces like that.” And viewed that way, it did seem there was something, not a separate thing, but more like an aspect; but she could not hold on to it. It was like trying to touch the green-ness of a leaf without touching the leaf. “Whatever it is,” Rowan said, “I don’t think it can be taken from me.”

“Perhaps you’re right about that.” Zenna’s face again showed that glowing admiration, and Rowan shied away from it almost physically, thinking: I‘ve done nothing to deserve that.

“Then,” Zenna continued, “imagine anything you love. Imagine it gone.”

Rowan found she had many specific examples. “I’d do what I can to get it back,” she said immediately.

“And if that were impossible?”

Rowan had not thought of Fletcher for months; she thought of him again now. “It depends on why it was lost. If it was taken from me, I think I’d try to exact some sort of justice.”

“And if that were impossible, too?”

Rowan threw up her hands. “I’d adjust to the situation and set my mind on something else. Are you saying simply that Mira was unwilling to accept a fact outside of her control? And is this intended to enable me to sympathize with her? Because it’s doing exactly the opposite; I hope you can see that.”

“Hm. I can see I’m getting nowhere. Has it ever occurred to you that not everyone is as strong as you are?”

“You’re using the term ‘strong’ in a very vague way. But, come to think of it, that doesn’t matter. Because, yes, I’m aware that some people are not as strong as I am, just as I’m aware that there are plenty of people far stronger than I, by whatever definition of the word you choose.”

 

——–

That’s it; that’s all.   Left on the cutting-room floor, so to speak.

 

 


Mar 25 2012

Pulled out of internet limbo

Rosemary

An acquaintance sent me an email, asking about the source of inspiration for certain aspects of the Demons in The Lost Steersman. I thought to myself: Hey, I can just direct him to the article I wrote on that very subject, on my publisher’s website! Easy.

Except, on examination,  the Del Rey Books site has undergone several redesigns since then, and the article is – gasp! – no longer to be found there!

Ah, but I now have my own website (well, blog, but expansions are being planned). I can just repost it here.

And so I shall:

Sea, Sky

by Rosemary Kirstein

One day, when I was a little girl, I was walking along a crowded, grubby beach when I came across a curious object: two-thirds of a flattened circle, made of what seemed to be pale gray rubber and sand. I remember strolling along turning it over and over in my hands trying to fit it into my young picture of the world.

I brought it to my parents where they lounged on the old blanket next to the ice-chest, amid neighboring families’ dueling transistor radios. My father’s reaction was a shrug, and a dismissive “Trash,” but my mother’s was “Garbage” — quite a different matter: dirty, probably rotten, and certainly chock-full of germs. She made me throw it away.

But it was very weird. I remember how very, very weird it was.

Some time later, I was paging through books in my town’s little library. I had run through the astronomy books and out of desperation started on biology, because it was science. I knew I loved astronomy, and astronomy was “science,” so maybe other sciences would be just as good. Also, I figured it was about animals. I liked animals.

And there, in a book about sea-life, I found my mysterious object. It was a “sand collar” — the egg-case laid by moon snails. I loved that name: moon snail.

 

Fast-forward a number of years, and I am wandering around the exhibits of the Air and Space Museum. This was back when it temporarily shared space with the Smithsonian, and many of its displays were just stuffed wherever they would fit. I was circumnavigating the corridor outside the planetarium, coming across object after fascinating object every few feet. And among them, casually sitting on a cheapo plastic pedestal:

Telstar.

The communications satellite. Not a mockup of the one they sent up; a second actual satellite that for some reason was never launched. And in that cramped, ill-lit corridor, one thing struck me above all else, coming as a blow to the heart, sudden, hard and deep, and it was this:

It was beautiful.

Beyond my love of science, and of technology, the object was simply beautiful. Faceted, faced with many small glittering purple gems (solar cells). And I thought: That’s what we made. That’s what we put in the sky. It’s up there now. A jewel, hanging above the earth.

Forward a few more years — okay, many years — and I am creating…. a world.

How do you create a world?

There are basically two ways to do it. You can begin from the top down, or from the ground up.

Beginning from the top down, you set up your situation, and with that as given, trace down to the root, to the causes. From what is, you work out how it must have happened; and from that, where it might go from here.

Beginning from the bottom up, you take facts — hard science if you’ve got it, soft science if you don’t — twist them a bit, wind them up and let them go. See how it plays out. And from that, discover how the world of your story must be now.

Pick one method, or the other. Or you can do what I did: use both.

Beginning from the top down: a geostationary satellite above a world where the bulk of humanity has no science, and only simple technology. What would they think of it? And what would it mean, that it could even be there, hanging above a low-tech society?

And beginning from the bottom up: a rubbery, sandy object, an egg-case laid by a creature descended from sea-creatures. Because of its reproductive nature, this creature has an instinctive ability to make objects. And, coming from the sea, it perceives by reflected sound. So, it might not use its voice to speak — but if it were intelligent, how would it communicate? What’s available?

These are not the only points of inspiration I used in creating Rowan’s world in the Steerswoman Series. But the moon-snail egg case was surely the first, and Telstar surely the most striking.

And one last useful thing — not in creating the world, but creating the story taking place in the world. It comes from songwriter Hoyt Axton, who said: “Always write the last line first. Then you know where you’re heading.”

I know the last line of the last book in the Steerswoman Series.

But I’m not telling.

 

copyright 2004, Rosemary Kirstein / creative commons 2012

errata:

On research not available to me at the time I wrote the article, it turns out that the satellite was certainly not Telstar, but was probably Intelsat I, aka Early Bird.

There’s a much nicer, non-public domain photo to be found here.

Also, the sand collar of the moon snail has eggs imbedded within the gum of the collar itself; demons, on the other hand, use the gum-and-sand to create a casing that encloses the central mass of eggs.

 

 


Feb 15 2012

The Lost Steersman Journal for Con or Bust!

Rosemary

I’ve been making hand-bound blank journals for years. Back when I was writing The Lost Steersman, I got the idea to take it a step further, and tried making my own paper for the journals.

I made the paper out of recycled materials, and at that point, a lot of what I was recycling were printouts of early drafts of the The Lost Steersman.

At some point it occurred to me: instead of completely pulping the paper I was using, what if I kept some bits of shredded draft un-pulped? And let random words show up in the newly-made paper? How cool would that be?

Pretty cool, as it turned out.

But in the end, making my own paper was too time-consuming, and after a while I set it aside, and never used the pages I made.

The other day, I found them again. I wanted to do something special to donate to the Con or Bust auction, so Aha! said I.

Here’s the result:

click to embiggen

Ribbon is real silk, just like they make in Alemeth!

 

I love the way this turned out.

The book is 4 1/2 inches wide by 6 inches tall.    The shredded bits toss up random words within the paper.

 

mysterious fragments of words

 

I love the paper – it’s interestingly rumpled.    It works pretty well (if bumpily) with a fountain pen, but not well with a felt-tip.   I think a dip pen would work.   Ballpoint is not good at all. But colored pencils are very good — the paper has some bite to it.  I have not tried watercolors, but the paper has been treated to be not overly-absorbent.

 

What would YOU put in it?

So, hey — this could be yours.   Head over to the Con or Bust auction site and bid!

Also:  I’m including two loose squares of the same paper, so that you could test your writing implement or artistic medium before committing to marking the actual book.

And:  Bonus copy of The Lost Steersman itself!

All this for — well, you decide.

 

You can’t buy it here, you have to go to the Con or Bust Auction.

 

gold-trimmed little snail embellishment