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.


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.