Jun 30 2018

Readercon looms


Yes, I’ll be at Readercon this year.

This despite the fact that many of the pals I usually look forward to hanging out with will be absent, due to the great Readercon disinvitation sweep.  (See Jeff Carver’s post about it, which is pretty representative of the  experience of most of the disinvited.)

Given all that, why am I going?  Well.  I think it’s  because I want to find out if the infamous letter  really was misinterpreted, as is claimed by Readercon, or if it actually represents a real shift in Readercon’s attitude.  And one way to find that out is to see what sort of convention results.  I shall decide about future participation based on that.

Anyway, here’s my schedule:

Friday, 6PM Kaffeeklatsch.  Sign up to hang out with me over coffee and discuss whatever comes up!

Friday, 7:30  Reading.  Yes!  I shall be reading from The Changes of the Dark AKA Book 5.

Friday, 9PM Radical Elders, with Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Sabrina Vourvoulias, Elizabeth Hand and James Patrick Kelly.     Here’s the verbatim description from the official schedule: “On the page, as in GOH Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, and in real life, as in the careers of authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, elders are speaking their minds and upsetting the status quo. How can age intersect with radicalism and pioneering thought? How is the cognitive estrangement of aging relevant to speculative fiction and fannish communities, and what’s the best way of acknowledging that relevance?

Yeah, the thing that made me want to sign up for that was the sentence: How is the cognitive estrangement of aging relevant to speculative fiction and fannish communities, and what’s the best way of acknowledging that relevance?

I cannot adequately express (she said in that quiet  and overly-calm voice she uses when she is struggling to be polite while actually seething in fury) how much I dislike that sentence.

The cognitive estrangement of aging?

The cognitive estrangement of aging ?

Which cognitive estrangement is that, now?  The one of  aging?

That cognitive estrangement?   Oh, yes, everybody gets that ol’ cognitive estrangement, we’d better address that one.  We should definitely endeavor to adequately acknowledge its social relevance to the community and some stuff.

Really, it sounds like exactly the sort of sentence you’d use when trying to bullshit your thesis advisor.    A phony, faked-up concept, insultingly applied — and obviously designed as a sop for any people who think that Readercon just might not be sensitive to, and inclusive of, the issues of elders.

Yeah. I’m gonna be on that panel.

And also:

Saturday 1PM: Autographing.

That’s it — but I am looking forward to attending panels as well. Here’s the full program listing.

In other news… Lost many hours and significant portions of several days dealing with my computer finally breaking down.  New computer successfully purchased and updated with the wisely-backed-up files, at the cost of much annoyance and angst.

It’s a laptop, and rather larger than I would have liked.  But, unlike other items you might purchase in your life (house, car, boat, furniture, plot of land) the smaller ones are much more expensive.

The smallest I could afford.


Jun 23 2018

More AMA Q’s


I’m currently hitting Book 5 as hard as I can, and will continue to do so up until Readercon.  At which point I’ll either take a break, or do Readercon in a sort of daze…

Meanwhile, more questions from the Ask Me Anything session:

“pqln” asks: Hi! I’m a big fan and have shoved my shiny new physical copy of the Steerswoman at several people so they can discover your world, too. What a breath of fresh air to have a hero focused on truth and a willingness to look past the status quo despite the discomfort of finding that her previous beliefs about the world are not correct.

What authors inspired you to delve into this place between sci fi and fantasy?

Do you follow any specific scientific journals?

Do you listen to music while you write? Of so, to whom?

A: Thanks for the signal-boost!

What inspired me to delve into this particular place between SF and Fantasy was not any particular author or authors. It was a) sick of not having a female protagonist interested in anything but romance and b) a desire to identify and subvert every single fantasy cliche possible.

I read Scientific American… That’s the only regular one, but I dip into lots via the Internet.

I can’t listen to music when I write! I’m a former professional singer/guitarist, and whenever there’s music in the background, I can’t avoid paying close attention to it. So I listen to, um, random classical, and ambient so-called music. Seriously.

Journals: I do look at Nature every now and again, although I’m just as likely to see something interesting on the Internet, follow the link, and find myself at Nature anyway.  And there are scientist/bloggers these days: you can follow physicist Chad Orzel’s science posts for the online version of Forbes, or Sabine Hossenfelder’s blog, Backreaction.

But I also get my science from books.  There’s a lot of science-journalism going on these days, and there’s just no way I can keep up on everything I want to read!  It might well be a golden age of science popularizing (at the same time that other forces are busy trying to undermine and dismiss scientific fact and the whole great undertaking of scientific progress itself; go figure).

These are the books I’ve bought but have not yet read:

The End of Time, Julian Barbour.  Actually, that’s been on my shelf for over 15 years now!  Probably out of date…

Time Reborn, Lee Smolin.  (Well, that’s good news! Not the end after all, apparently.)  I actually started listening to this in audiobook form, but became so interested that I wanted it in print form so I could consider it more carefully.  So I stopped listening and got the physical book… which I then did not finish reading.  Yet.  I found his Trouble with Physics really interesting (not about physics, but about how string theory is undeservedly taking over physics research) ,  and saw him on stage at a panel during the World Science Festival in New York one year, and wanted to read more by him.

The Order of Time, Carlo Rovelli.  I sense a theme here. I buy books about time, then don’t find the time to finish reading them… Rovelli seems to be getting a lot of press lately, which doesn’t neccessarily indicate anything.  But as he’s the hot new thing, I thought I ought to check him out.

Descarte’s Error, Antonio Damasio.  I was fascinated by The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness.  This book actually precedes that one.

And by the way, while we’re talking science,  let’s not forget Chad Orzel’s books  — And hey, look!  There’s a new one due out in December. Well, I’ll  just go ahead and pre-order it:

Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects by [Orzel, Chad]

I’m also currently eyeing Sabine Hossenfelder’s book, just out recently:

Maybe I’ll just download the free sample first?  — Oh, what the heck.  Just bought it.

And the other half of the question above: the music I listen to while writing.  It really is true, I have trouble listening to music while I write, because the musician in me becomes too engaged!  It’s sort of embarassing, but  I do end up listening to ambient or environmental music instead.  General moody music-like sounds… It’s a sad, sad thing, in a way.

But in that vein, I really must endorse this website: Mynoise.net.  It’s a customizable set of ambient sound generators, with a large number of excellent pre-set configurations (I’m especially fond of “Northern Lights” lately).   I like these guys so much that I threw some money at them.  But you can listen for free.

But as for real music — who do I like? Well, Richard Thompson is god.   Start there.

Jun 20 2018

Did I mention how well the AMA went?


Pretty well, as it turns out.  Michael DePalatis, the instigator and moderator of the Ask Me Anything event, tells me that I we had over 3700 page views, and assures me that this is “a pretty decent number.”  I just know that I enjoyed it completely.

And for those of you who don’t care to pop over to the fantasy subreddit of Reddit, where the transcript resides, preserved forever  in Internet amber, I’ll quote a few of the questions here, for the next few blog posts.

“diegroblers” asked:  I’ll go with the obvious one that I’m sure everyone wants to know – when will the next Steerswoman be published?

A:  The question of when the next book will be published is actually a couple of questions: Q1: Have you finished writing the next book? A: Nope. Not yet. Q2: Well, when will it be finished? A: I wish I knew for aboslute certain… But I’m aiming for January 2019. Q3:So, once it’s done, when will it be published? A: Depends on which route I end up taking: Self published, or tradition publishing.

If go self-pub, maybe 6 months after it’s done? If I go Trad, could be more than a year afterward.

Yes, I am aiming for January 2019 — Whether I manage to hit that mark remains to be seen, but I’ll give it my all.  It’s no secret that this Book 5 has turned out to be much harder than I anticipated.   I had to throw out thousands words previously written on it, dead-end prose that I accumulated during the last few years — and that was after I had already started Book 6, thinking it was Book 5, and discovering that some of the stuff I thought was going into Book 7 needed to be presented much sooner, and be a book of its own..  So, things have been a bit of a tangle.  I do believe I’ve got the structure sorted out now, but it will still be a difficult book for me to write.

I had a similar problem with The Lost Steersman… and I’m pretty pleased with how that one turned out.

(And yes, I know that I said “actually a couple of questions” in my answer, and then identified three, not two.  This is because I was answering on the fly, so to speak.  My answers often had that sort of error, in the heat of the moment.)


“Megan_Dawn” asked: How long would it take you to get into serious trouble if you had to answer every question with the truth?

A: I’m already in trouble! It took so long to type out the previous answer that my sister called me up and asked why I wasn’t online yet!

True fact.  I was typing away, and got a phone call from Sabine, house-sitting up in Salem.   The answers didn’t show on the page until I hit “enter,” and I had paused in thought.  Too long, apparently!

But possibly Megan was really asking how long it would take for me to get into serious trouble in real life if I had to answer every question with the truth.  Thing is, I basically do… except that unlike Rowan, I can always refuse to answer if I feel like it!   Also, I can nimbly deflect. While I do believe that there are times where it’s all right to lie, the circumstances where I’m actually willing to do so are rare and extreme.   I can get very frustrated at how easily some other people lie — easily, casually, in some cases constantly.

“arundelo” asked: Judging from the plot points that are set up in earlier Steerswoman books and pay off in later ones, it seems like you outlined the entire series before you started writing (or at least before you finished the first book). Have there been cases where, when you got to a part (in book four or wherever), you changed your mind and had something different happen than originally planned?

A: Yes! Here’s an example: Steffie, in The Lost Steersman.

I knew that very far up in the series, during the Steerswoman’s Academy, I wanted to drive home the point that you don’t have to be a teenager to join up. So, I had planned an older character who would show up, and confound the automatic expectations the readers and the non-steerswoman characters. I had that person planned out…

But then once I had Steffie walking and talking, and moving through the tale, I realized that he was perfect for that slot. I eliminated that other character.

In fact, Steffie was one of those fortuitous developments that can pop up from time to time — I character I had not planned on at all, who grew into his role and became indispensible.

Each book begins with a description of a map, and a description of Rowan.  I had placed the viewpoint in what I thought would be a minor character, so as to present Rowan as an outsider sees her.  Steffie was intended to be  just a “spear-carrier” as we call it: someone needed briefly, but otherwise incidental.

But from his first appearance, he was so clear a character, and his voice was so particular.  It was largely through him that I was able to understand the entire town of Alemeth, and he made the perfect foil for Rowan.   She needed a sidekick –  and he was smarter than he looked, and so full of heart. Every scene of his that I wrote, I discovered another dimension to him.  I love the guy.

I couldn’t just create him, and then let him vanish!  So, when I write about the Academy, he will be there.


Jun 14 2018

Ask Me Anything link is now live!


Yep.  This is it: Rosemary Kirstein Answers Your Questions.

I’ll be on hand at 7PM EST, but you can post questions starting right now.   I’ll hang around as long as I possibly can.   Also, if there are any questions that I don’t have time to get to during that session, I’ll see if I can answer them at a later time.  Or answer them here!

Meanwhile: must get to bed, it’s late even for me!

Desk fleurs.



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 Steerswoman.  Also, 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.