Aug 17 2019

I admit it, I’ve been back for a while now….

Rosemary

For over a week, actually.  But  I seemed to be unable to get myself together enough to write all the blog posts that need to be written.

Such as: the Readercon report!  That feels very far away now, but I do want to say more about it.

And: more about the trip, which was in various proportions: interesting, frustrating, lovely, exhausting, annoying and enlightening.

 

Famous Bill Thorpe footbridge over the St John, in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

(And hot.  Did I mention hot?  I did not know it got that hot in Fredericton.  Apparently, neither did the locals, who complained about it even more than we did.)

 

Pleasantly puzzling municipal art.

Also: some more essay-like posts on Topics of Interest (to me, at least).

Plus: updates on various things and/or projects

And: general complaints that I can’t be at Worldcon in Dublin, which is in progress as we speak.

It just seems to have taken me a bit longer than usual to get my feet back under my, after the trip.  Possibly because it took place on the very heels of another different trip.

On the summit of Wildcat Mountain, in New Hampshire, looking across at Mount Washington.

Which had followed rather soon after Readercon itself…

So.  Back in the saddle now, and more posts Real Soon.

 

 


Jul 24 2019

The Land of No Internet, or Merely Occasional Internet, and Did I Mention No Phone?

Rosemary

Off on my two-week adventure with fellow Genrette Laurie Marks, her wife Deb, and their dog.

Sad dog waiting.

 

The place we’re staying, alas, has no WiFi.

Someone associated with this house has been to Asia– very likely South Korea, from other clues.

Also, my phone plan doesn’t extend to Canada.  So, I’m rather at the mercy of random restaurants, libraries, and tourist information centers for brief contact

In theory, this is not a bad thing.  Unplug!  Who needs Facebook?  Internet vacation!

Nature walk.

 

In practice, however — well, you’d be surprised how often one discovers a sudden urge to confirm some snippet of fact, or look up the available grocery stores, or find out what time the library closes.  All this info is available! But not to me.

Laurie and Deb have international phone plans, however, so they are the official Keepers of Knowledge and Acquirers of Timetables.  I am but a supplicant to their arcane wisdom.

My Readercon report will be somewhat delayed, as a result.  Yes, frustrating for me, too!  But there you are.  I will say, however, that it was a lovely time, and that my readers are the best!  My Kaffeeklatsch was so much fun that the staff-member in charge of the room had to tell us to quiet down; and the questions and discussions were all smart, and illuminating.

My Reading was well-attended, and not only did the audience listen with perfect attention, they actually laughed at the bits that I myself found amusing.  Previously, I’ve been able to elicit a chuckle or two; this is the first time where I had to pause to allow for the audience’s reactions.  (Fortunately, I had previously learned that thing about not waiting for the laughter to completely die down before moving on; otherwise it turns into a brief but awkward silence.)

I want to talk about the panel about the series, but I’d like to do that in a more considered manner than I’m able to at the moment. I think I’ve already said that it was amazing… and the panelists (Cecilia Tan , Yves Meynard, Elaine Isaacs, Kate Nepveu, and Victoria Janssen) are all people I like and admire, and who always have opinions both intelligent and well-thought out.

I’d also like to compare and contrast that panel to the Steerswoman panel that took place at Scintillation last year — but I can’t look up my own blog to check what I said back then!  Frustration.

Next week, we’ll be at a location that does have Internet, and I’ll be a bit freer.

Butterfly does not need Internet. Nor does it write novels.

 

(Normally, I’d link each person’s name to the books they wrote, or their website — but that’s too tricky to do from the backseat of an SUV in the driveway of the only public library on the island, which is now closed.  I’ll update that later.]


Jul 11 2019

Quick note before Readercon

Rosemary

My reading is at 6:30 on Friday night!

I dearly hope we don’t get held up by the rush hour that starts around noon on Fridays in summer.   There’s simply no way to avoid Friday summer traffic in the Boston area.  The hotel, in Quincy, is just south of Boston, and sits on a confluence of three or four highways.  Last year, I spent four and a half hours driving what should have been about two hours.

And my kaffeeklatsch is at 9PM.  9PM?  Who’s drinking coffee at that hour?  And not only that, I’ve been informed that we are Simply Not Allowed to bring goodies, such as cookies.  It’s against Readercon’s agreement with the hotel.  Last time I brought Oreos.  This time, I dare not take the chance, as with my luck, I’ll be the one person they use as an example to everyone else!

I’ve also been Informed in No Uncertain Terms that we cannot sell books at our autographing.  Hm.  I wonder how many people will stick to that — but I shall.  Because: see above.

In other news, Laurie J Marks will be there briefly on Saturday, signing books in the dealer’s room at Reckoning Press table at 3PM.  She’s not an official program participant, so that will be your chance to see her, if you’re of a mind.

I haven’t completely decided what I’ll do for my reading… I’ve read lots of bits from Book 5  previously.  I’ve pretty much used up the non-spoilery possible excerpts.  I’d prefer to not repeat myself — but I might have to.  Or, I’ll read a group of very short excerpts, far enough apart from each other to not comprise any spoilers… Or something else entirely. Hm.  I’m down to the wire here, I have to decide!

Well.  Must go and pack and select and all.

In other news: new bird identified.

Black-crowned night heron.

Not a good photo, but I watched him a while, and accumulated quite a clear impression.  I’ve never seen his like before, but I’m told they’re not uncommon around here.

 


Jun 25 2019

Just ticking along

Rosemary

About halfway through the days of solitude.  Plugging away at plugging away, so to speak.  I do wish this thing would just take wing and soar!  It still could — but certainly won’t if I don’t keep at it.

Meanwhile, Sleeping Giant State Park has re-opened!  Oh, hurrah, I was getting tired of the very-busy local Linear Trail.  Too many people; same terrain over and over.

There are 9 or 10 different trailheads in this little park, and on my first hike there in a year, I found one with zero people sharing it!

The tornado damage has been converted from downed trees to stacks of logs and brush by the side of the trails.  There are some places previously dark and moody where now sunshine rules.

The rank after rank after rank of mountain laurels previously crowding this section of the yellow trail have been reduced to mere clumps instead, but still lovely.

And right after this it rained for three days straight, so — I’ll have to wait a bit to get back.  Maybe Wednesday.

In other news: I’ve been tending my sister’s flowers and was supposed to dead-head her fuchsia plant, so it wouldn’t waste its energy actually reproducing.

Apparently I missed a few, because I found a couple of these:

Not actually a seed-pod…

It’s bright red, and remarkably fruit-like

Yep, it’s a berry.

Apparently, so the Internet tells me with great enthusiasm, fuchsia berries exist.  Edible, and good for jams, jellies, etc.  The main problem is getting enough of ’em to make it worthwhile.

Edible, you say? And I’m a big fan of all sorts of berries.  So of course I ate a couple.

They tasted… okay.  Not a strong flavor, and not very sweet either.  Sort of an extremely anemic blackberry.

But still, that they exist is a delightful thing I never knew before.  Berries, happening right on my back porch.

 


Jun 15 2019

Hunkering down before the summer gets crazy

Rosemary

Unexpectedly, my summer has filled itself up with back-to-back events, and I find myself about to start scrambling to keep up.

But not quite yet!  In fact, I’m first entering a period of quiet, solitude and Deep Creative Thinks.   My sister is off to house-sit/cat-sit for those pals in New Hampshire I’ve mentioned before.  You remember: the ones with the gorgeous house on the pond, with geese and a blue heron rookery, and starry skies all night, and reasonably friendly cat of great beauty.  So, I’ve got the condo all to myself!  For three solid weeks.  I need not be even marginally social, which is good, because I’ll get plenty of that during the deluge.

First up after my break: Readercon.

My schedule:

Reading: Rosemary Kirstein
Fri 6:30 PM, Salon C

Kaffeeklatsches: Liz Gorinsky, Rosemary Kirstein
Fri 9:00 PM, Concierge Lounge

Autographs: Rosemary Kirstein, Sarah Pinsker
Sun 1:00 PM, Autograph Table

Found Family in SF
Sun 2:00 PM, Salon B
Anatoly Belilovsky, Rosemary Kirstein, Bart Leib, Sarah Pinsker (mod), Catherynne M. Valente
Ideas of family are sensitive to societal conditions, so science fiction—a genre that frequently concerns itself with adjusted societal conditions—is a fruitful space for exploring the concept of found family. Panelists will discuss tropes and examples of familylike groups in SF (especially in confined situations such as starships, colonies, schools, and walled compounds) and the ways that these stories relate to the reality of found families for people isolated by present-day societal conditions.

Reading: I don’t yet know what I’ll be reading.  I feel that I’ve already read an awful lot of the early bits from Book 5, and the later bits that I do have would be too spoilery.  I’ll see if I can winkle out some unread-sections from the start, or possibly dig up something else entirely.  I’ve even read from the start of Book 6 before (although that was a while back).

Kaffeeklatsch: Kaffeeklatches are, I think, unique to SF/F conventions.  If you don’t know what it is: it’s you and people like you, just sitting around a table and shooting the breeze with an author.  There’s a sign-up sheet, first come first served, since space is limited.  I don’t know where they keep that sign-up sheet…  I’m sure you can ask at convention registration when you arrive.

Autographs: Most of my readers read my books as ebooks!  How does one autograph an ebook? Well, one doesn’t, but I will bring with me a stack of postcards I’d had made as promotional items, and there’s plenty of space on them for signing.  You can have one, free gratis and for nothing!

Found Family in SF: This will be interesting, and one of the things I’ll bring up is Laurie J. Marks’ family configurations in her Elemental Logic series.

Oh, and there’s also this panel, for which I am not a participant, but will definitely be in the audience:

Classic Fiction Book Club: Rosemary Kirstein’s Steerswomen Series
Saturday 12:00 PM Salon  A
Elaine Isaak, Victoria Janssen, Yves Meynard, Kate Nepveu (mod), Cecilia Tan
Since the publication of Rosemary Kirstein’s first novel, The Steerswoman, in 1989, the Steerswoman series has become a quiet classic for its powerful female friendships, slowly-revealed worldbuilding, and unique approach to genre paradigms. Over the last 30 years, four novels have been published, with another two intended in the future. We’ll look at the state of the series today, and speculate about where it might be going.

So… that’s a thing.

This is the second time a convention has had a panel on my books, the previous one being at Scintillation in Montreal last year.  I was actually on the panel myself that time. I did offer take part this time as well — but I also told the program people that if they felt it would be better for me to not be on stage as one of the panelists, I’d be fine with that.  And that’s the way they chose to do it.  But I did request that they not schedule me on some other panel at the same hour!   Because, seriously: if it’s happening, I’ve got to see it!  Also, I’m so pleased that the panelists are all people I like and admire.  It should be very interesting.

And speaking of Laurie J. Marks (as I did a few paragraphs ago):

 

The fourth and final volume of her Elemental Logic series, Air Logic is out!  As a fellow member of her writing group, The Fabulous Genrettes, I was witness to multiple iterations of these books as works-in-progress. I’m thrilled to bits at how they’ve turned out, and how they are gaining Laurie the recognition she deserves.

And meanwhile, over at Tor.com, Brit Mandelo has written a series of articles exploring the ideas and issues in the books — one article each for Fire Logic, Earth Logic, Water Logic, and finally Air Logic.  Now, as interesting as the articles are, you should be aware that they are analyses, and so contain reams and reams of spoilers.  So, simple solution: Read the books first!  And if you’ve read the first three already, they can serve to set you up for the ideas that continue in Air Logic.

After Readercon — that is, the very next weekend — I’ll be attending a multi-generational gathering and hike, on and/or near Mount Washington, in honor of the 75th birthday of one member gang (Hi Bob!) of my own “found family”.   Well, one of my found families.  I seem to have more than one….

And after that — immediately after that — its off to Canada with Laurie and her wife and dog, to see what we can see in New Brunswick, a place I’ve never been.   Must remember my passport.

When I get back I’ll have just enough time to catch my breath, and then — Cat-sitting!  New Hampshire!  Pond, birds.

And then, quite suddenly, It will be September.

It’s scary how fast time moves.  Look at that: I’m here in the middle of June, seeing the end of the summer right in front of me.

Well.  Must make good use of my pre-Readercon time.

In other news: saw a freakin’ bobcat in my back yard.  If you follow my Facebook page, you already know this, as I posted it the instant it happened, out of sheer astonishment.  Later, someone else in a nearby town also spotted a bobcat, possibly the same one.

I can’t help wondering: With Sleeping Giant State Park (less than a mile away) shut down for over a year now, due to those tornadoes that hit it — I wonder what the wildlife is doing in there, with no people to disturb them?

 

 

 

 


May 23 2019

Heard while walking

Rosemary Kirstein

Like apparently everyone else in the universe, I’m trying to walk more.

I prefer to walk in the woods, but when I do, I never listen to podcasts, or radio, or audiobooks.   I’m in the woods!  I want to either be there, present for the experience, or set my mind free to ramble, and possibly come up with tales or essays or explorations of ideas.

But that’s only when I’m able to walk alone.  If I’m on a trail where there are other people around —  I just can’t be that free.  There’s too much distraction.  Also, my face tends to mirror what I’m thinking — I just can’t help it.   So, I do prefer solitude for my walks.

Alas: with my beloved Sleeping Giant State Park still completely shut down a full year after the four surprise tornadoes that shredded it, all I’m left with are the smaller, more populated walking opportunities.

And that’s when I need something else to occupy my mind while walking.

There’s music, of course.  But also wonderful podcasts, great audiobooks, and even live radio.

I’ve kept up with Welcome to Night Vale, naturally — and I’m glad that it seems to be back on track after waffling around uncentered for most of the current season.

And lately I’ve been listening to Sam Harris’ Making Sense podcast, which really stretches my brain.  Currently, I’m in the middle of a two-hour episode where Harris interviews Daniel Kahneman, the psychologist and Nobel Prize winner, who wrote Thinking, Fast and Slow.  I have the book, but in many ways the interview is more interesting, a wide-ranging conversation between two pals who are also blazingly smart.

I’ve also been listening, for the second time, to Janis Ian’s autobiography Society’s Child. 

Society's Child: My Autobiography by [Ian, Janis]

As an old folkie myself, Ian’s autobiography is of particular interest to me.   She does the reading herself, and it’s so intimate, to hear her own voice, right in your ear, sharing her stories with you.   Also: each chapter begins with a quote from one of her songs, and in the print version, you just read the quoted lyrics; but in the audiobook, she picks up her guitar and sings and plays it for you.  Lovely.

And I’ve just finished listening to Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky which was excellent, and thoroughly involving.  It’s a story one can get lost in — and that’s not something everyone can pull off.

All the Birds in the Sky by [Anders, Charlie Jane]

Anders has  a very good hand with prose, too, and her characters are clear and multi-layered.  She’s a writer whose star seems to be rising, as well, and good for her!  This is the only thing of hers I’ve read so far, and  I do wish I’d read it sooner — it’s been on my radar for a while, but so have so many other things.

Another of my go-to guys when I’m walking is Colin McEnroe.  He has a local radio show on WNPR, but of course everything is also a podcast these days, so one can listen to any of the episodes, at any time, anywhere.  The other day he had a show about Sol LeWitt, a very famous conceptual artist of whom I was only tangentally aware before hearing the show.  But during the course of the show, McEnroe played a short clip of Benedict Cumberbatch reading a letter that LeWitt wrote to another artist, Eva Hesse — and that sent me off to YouTube when I got to my office, to track down the full version.

(WARNING: contains salty language.   So what!  Get over it.)

I’m always fascinated by artists who are supremely devoted to their art — even if it’s art I don’t particularly like.  In fact, it’s easier to clearly see the beauty of that devotion, when you’re not swept away by how much you like the artwork itself.  Am I making sense?  Makes sense to me.

And I’m going to take LeWitt’s admonition to “stop thinking” to mean stop overthinking, a failing to which we writers are particularly prone.  Stop obsessing on all the peripheral aspects — and just think of the work!

In other news:

Of course you’ve heard that the Nebula Awards were handed out recently.  In case you haven’t, Tor.com is always a good source for SF/F news.     So is File 770 — and they have pictures of the ceremony and the winners.   I actually have a copy of Best Novel winner Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars on my To Read Real Soon Now stack.

The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel by [Kowal, Mary Robinette]

I’m definitely overloaded with Stuff to Read…

 


May 4 2019

What happens when someone you know seems to be able to write poems at the drop of a hat and you’re a little jealous, so you ask how they do it.

Rosemary

 

Oh, look.  I wrote a poem:

 

JO WALTON WRITES SONNETS

She tells me that it’s more or less a knack,
The pattern’s that familiar, and the pace.
She knows the beats, and how the rhymes will stack,
With every iamb solidly in place.

With that, she simply lives her life, with all
Its thoughts and feelings, plans and acts. Her days
Are given to her work — but should she call,
The words slip nimbly into their arrays.

But there’s a thing she doesn’t say. Perhaps
Forgotten, being learned so long ago
That years and dreams and decades that elapse
Have moved it from Surprise to Simply So.

It’s this: Delights, when loved and fully known
Will choose to serve — and name you as their own.

 

(You can subscribe to Jo Walton’s poetry Patreon right here.)


Apr 25 2019

Did I not mention?

Rosemary

Yes, the larger-sized edition of The Steerswoman is up and live!

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51H9%2BSvuLdL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

It seemed to take an inordinately long time to show up, after I approved the final version.  Even after they told me it was live, all I could see on Amazon.com was the older, smaller version.  And then I started poking around Amazon, and discovered that the new book could only be found if you went first to the Kindle book, and from there selected “paperback.”  This seemed very odd to me…

And any search on my name or “The Steerswoman” preferentially led directly to the older edition.  Even though I had officially unpublished it — it was still on sale, and searches led you there instead of the new edition!  I was tearing my hair out!

Then I looked closer, and saw “ONLY ONE COPY LEFT IN STOCK — PURCHASE SOON!”

Aha.

Amazon had one copy of the smaller edition left, and until that one was gone, they were going to keep pushing it at you.   You would not automatically be led to the new edition until then.

Well, heck, I said.

So I bought it.

And everything fell right into line.  Lovely.

And the books are all of the same size now, the better to line up on your bookshelf.

 

Grey bar across the title is there because that’s a proof copy. It says “Not for resale.”

And here’s another advantage to the larger format: lower production cost.  Because it’s calculated by page-count, and bigger pages mean more words per page,  and fewer pages.

So, that could mean a bigger royalty for me.  Or…

What the heck:  I lowered the selling price.

The smaller edition was $13.50  USD;  the larger edition is $11.99.  Pretty much the same royalty on my end, but a more tempting price for the purchaser.  Why not?

Of course, now I have in my hands the very last copy of the smaller format.   Which I don’t actually need…

Anybody want it?

Free to a good home.

How about this?  The first person who posts, in the comments of this blog, an accurate physical description of the steerswoman Keridwen — I’ll send you the last small-format copy of The Steerswoman.

And it has to be in the comment section of this blog.  NOT a Facebook comment.  Right here.

Of course, you probably already have a copy.  At least an ebook copy.  But hey, you’ve friends, right?


Apr 17 2019

Losses…

Rosemary

Vonda McIntyre passed away two weeks ago.   I found that it hit me rather hard, and didn’t want to blog about it for a while.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think I ever got to meet her.   And that’s remarkable, because, she was sort of always there. We were in the same field, we moved among the same people, were at the same conventions, often.  On a panel opposite mine, perhaps, or on the other side of the room in a party; doing a reading at a time not convenient for me to come in and listen.

She was Guest of Honor at the 2015 Worldcon in Spokane; I was there, too, but did I paths ever actually cross?  I don’t know…

Our books appeared together in the Feminist Futures Story Bundle, and there was a certain amount of emails back and forth among the participants and packager.  But that’s not real contact.

I guess that’s the thing making me especially sad: that I never got the chance.  We were not close…  but might we have been?  I’ll never know.  But her books are still here.

 

And then, a few days ago, it was Gene Wolfe that we lost.

Shadow & Claw: The First Half of 'The Book of the New Sun' by [Wolfe, Gene]

Tor.com has the best tribute to him and his work.  I can’t really add to it.  And his books are also still here.

 

And then, of course, Notre Dame.  You’ve heard about the fire, I’m sure.

But the good news there is that it was not completely destroyed.  When I first heard about it, it looked like the entire cathedral was gone, and I was astonished at how devastated I was.

Yes, I am an atheist — but religion did not build Notre Dame; human beings did.   Human minds, human hands.   An as an atheist, it’s the human spirit that I find holy, and every object of beauty we create is sacred.

 

Posted by Sarah Smith on Tuesday, April 16, 2019

 

Human beings… well, we don’t last.   But the things we make — they go on after us.   That’s what they’re for, I think.

 

 

Image may contain: cloud, sky and water

 

(next post: non-sad things.  I promise.)


Apr 12 2019

Any minute now…

Rosemary

Well, any time in about the next 72 hours, that is.  I just okayed the larger-format version of The Steerswoman, and KDP is now doing its final review.

In the meantime, I’ve unpublished the small-format version.  Which means that for a few days,  you can’t buy any paperback version of The Steerswoman at all… except, I just checked, and it looks like the “unpublish” command hasn’t taken effect yet.  Well, it takes time to promulgate across the system, I suppose.

Passing review is pretty much a formality; I’ve already proofed and checked this thing in every way possible — and so has KDP.  Only major problems would cause the book to be unpublishable at this point, and we haven’t found anything that bad yet, so I’m sure it’s fine.  “In Review” is probably what they say instead of “Keep yer shirt on, we’re working on it.”

One thing I don’t know is how long it will take for the new edition to be available for bookstores to order.  I believe that’s going to be longer than 72 hours…

Oh, and Canada.  Inexplicably Amazon.ca takes a while to catch up.  Could be a couple of weeks.

In other news:

The list of Hugo Award nominees is out!  I’m sure you’ve already seen it.  But on the off-chance that you read no other blogs, no other SFF news, and don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account  — well, take a moment and click over to the official Hugo Award Website for the list.

And please notice that Jo Walton is on the list, for “Best Related Work,” An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards, 1953-2000.

This book is not only a great resource, it’s wonderfully entertaining, as Jo gives us her take on the previous Hugo winners (those that she has read), as well as an overview of what what else was available each year.  It’s eye-opening, and fun.

And Jo has a new book coming out on May 28th:

Lent by [Walton, Jo]

I got a chance to hear Jo read a chapter of Lent at the Scintillation convention in Montreal last year, and I loved it.  Can’t wait for it to show up on my Kindle (I’ve pre-ordered).

 

Also, let’s not forget that Laurie J. Marks’ final volume of her Elemental Logic series, Air Logic, will be out on June 4.

It just got a great review from Publisher’s Weekly, but you know what?  Don’t read that review! They give too much of the plot away in their reviews!  This is because Publishers Weekly is aimed at booksellers and libraries and people in the biz — that is, people who might not actually read the book, but want to know about it, and need to decide if they should to stock it to sell, or to make available to library patrons.

But you do want to read it, so — no spoilers, right?

Here’s the non-spoilery part of their review:

“Marks brings her much-loved, long-unavailable Elemental Logic series (most recently 2007’s Water Logic, and all recently republished by Small Beer) to a superb finale in this fourth novel set in the world of Shaftal, where the four primary elements determine allegiances among the people, inspire magic, and create turmoil when thrown into imbalance….. The fullness with which Marks has thought out the particulars of her world and its characters, and the logic by which her story’s events proceed, complete an extraordinary fantasy saga that’s well worth revisiting or exploring for the first time.”  — Publishers Weekly

In other other news:

Inexplicably, on April 10, forty-seven people bought copies of my ebooks.  Usually, a bump like that can be traced to a review or something, but all Google can find is one quick mention in a comment stream answering a question by someone on Reddit.  You wouldn’t think that would be enough for that big a bump. But I am not complaining, just reporting.