May 4 2017

Con or Bust bidding is ending on May 7


So, just three days left.

The items offered tend toward signed books — you might find a beloved author’s books available, if you browse the listings.

But here are some notable exceptions:

Katherine Kerr will Tuckerize YOU!  As a villain.   You know you always wanted to be a villain.  (Don’t know what “Tuckerize” means?  Read this.)

Yep, you can be immortalized (I first accidentally typed that as “immoralized, which is perhaps appropriate, seeing that you’d be a villain) in Kerr’s next Deverry novel, Sword of Fire.  When will you get a chance like this again?  Without actually turning to evil in real life, that is.  You don’t want to do that.

Prints of the ebook covers for Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson’s Wheel of Time series.

Like this:


Manuscript critiques!  Including Yoon Ha Lee’s offer to read and critique your entire novel. 

And there’s always custom chocolate from Dark Matter Chocolate Laboratory.

And your money goes to a good cause — so what’s to lose?


In other news:  I’m hunkered down especially hard this week, due to being up next for my writer’s group which is meeting on the 14th.  Yeah.  Not much time… so, back to it.


Seen on the sidewalk, as I walked home from the Genrettes meeting last week.

Apr 25 2017

It’s Con or Bust again!


The Con or Bust fund-raising auction for 2017 is up and running.  As usual, I’m contributing items to be auctioned.

Here they are; and if you want to bid on any of them, it’s easy to do, over at the  the Con or Bust auction site.

First up:  a hand bound blank book.

Bookbinding is a hobby of mine, but I haven’t done much of it lately.  This was a good excuse, and a kick in the butt to get back to it.

This book has a cover of thick, wrinkle-textured art paper, and the spine is lovely soft buckskin (if you’re against leather on principle, this book is not for you).   I’ve had the leather for a long time, and haven’t found a project that cried out for it — but when I saw the green paper cover, the combination seemed just perfect.  The ribbon ties are old silk, and there’s a silk ribbon attached bookmark.  With, yes, that is a mouse.

The end-papers have leafy bits included in the paper itself.  I love them.


The inside paper is the sort of calligraphy paper that gets called “parchment” even though that’s not real parchment (she said snootily).    It’s very nice paper, and works well with fountain pen as well as pretty much every other pen or pencil type.

And there’s a mouse.

He’s a netsuke-like wood carving, and I bought him in the dealer’s room at Worldcon in 2015, which was in Spokane, along with a handful of others of various animal design.   I knew I could use them for book embellishments… But I honestly completely forgot I had them!  This happens fairly often: I’ll see something perfect for bookbinding, but won’t have a particular project in mind.  So, I tuck it away — and rediscover it later, to my great delight. When I make a book, I don’t have a design in mind at first; I look at the materials on hand, and let them inspire me.   When I decided to make a book for Con or Bust, I started sifting through what I had on hand, and re-found the mouse!  That was it, I had it: Mouse, forest, green, leaves, buckskin.

The mouse is reading a magazine, by the way, and not a book.  You can tell by how he has the cover folded back:

Yes, this book can be yours!  Just head on over to the Con or Bust Auction site.  Bidding is easy.

Other items:

It’s a copy of the British edition of the Steerswoman.   Physical copies of my books are hard to find — but I have a few copies of the British publication by Pan Books. It’s mass-market paperback size.   As a bonus, I’ve printed out a map of Rowan’s world on “parchment” paper.  Looks nice.  Warning: The map inside each book is different, as Rowan discovers more and more — but this map is as of Volume 4.  Which means that it contains potential spoilers.   (I used the Volume 4 map because the Volume 1 map is so sparse it just doesn’t look very appealing.)


The Lost Steersman (Volume 3 of the series)  also with a parchment map.  Also spoilery, in a sense:  The landscape on the map is discovered during the events of the book.  So, you can follow along, if you like…

And finally:

The Language of Power, (Volume 4 of the series) also with parchment map.

In years past, I’ve printed the map out on handmade paper that I’d made some years ago, experimentally.  But I’ve used it up (the plain paper, that is).  But the parchment works pretty well, I think.

So, there’s Volume 1, Volume 3, and Volume 4 –  why no copy of Volume 2, The Outskirter’s Secret?

I have no extra copies.  Alas.

I have a couple of copies which I use for reference and readings, but for some reason extra copies of The Outskirter’s Secret weren’t made available to me, back when they were published.   Actually, I’m almost out of copies of The Language of Power now, too.

So, those are my contributions to the  Con or Bust’s fund-raising auction.

What is Con or Bust?  It’s an organization that helps people of color attend science fiction and fantasy conventions.   Here’s the official blurb from their site:

Con or Bust, Inc., is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization (EIN: 81-2141738) that helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions (how to request assistance). Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited to the United States, to particular types of con-goers, or to specific cons; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves. It is funded through donations and an online auction held annually.


This is why I support Con or Bust:

a) Everyone should read science fiction and fantasy.  SF/F is actually good for you!   It increases your intellectual and imaginative skills, deepens your understanding of the world, and can be a great source of joy.

b) Everyone who likes SF/F should go to a convention at some point in their life, multiple times if possible.  At conventions, you meet other like-minded people, people who take delight in the same things you do — and you learn that you are not weird, are not a misfit, and are not alone.  There are lots of us.  And we want you.

c) People of color, and especially African-Americans, are very often actively discouraged by educators and American society in general from pursuing intellectual goals, or seeking intellectual values.  I view this as a crime, and a tragedy.  And it also means that many potential readers — and potential writers — of SF/F are directed away from our field, away from all its delights and benefits.   But by helping people of color get to conventions, Con or Bust is acting directly against those negative messages.  It says, explicitly: you do belong here.

There are all sorts of nifty things (and services) being offered over at the auction, and you should check them out.   You might find something you didn’t know existed, and now simply MUST have.

Like, oh… this:

Farscape script, with an actual piece of Moya.

… Bidding ends at May 7, 4PM Eastern time.

Jun 3 2016

Random updates not all about me


I had a few delays this week due to general life-type chores.  I’ve missed my walks in the woods for several days (which I have discovered makes me sorta cranky).   But I’m back in the saddle, and typing away… and the weekend is nearly upon us.

Current fleurs on desk

Current fleurs on desk

I had the fun of sending out a serious chunk of prose to the Fabulous Genrettes, my writer’s group, for analysis and dissection at our next meeting.  Naturally, I just want them to tell me how brilliant I am!  But, being a pro, I’m willing to be told that I’m only mostly brilliant, and that the prose (ahem) desperately needs some loving care, attention, and bringing-to-heel (AKA rewrites).

Other than that there is, at the moment, little to report on the writing front — largely because I don’t generally blog about the content of what I’m working on, and I don’t post  word counts (as explained in this ancient entry from before I had an office and while I still had a day job).  But I am at it, and looking forward to the weekend, which is prime writing time for me, when I have the entire building to myself.

I’m still currently reading Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning, but I always do have trouble reading fiction when I’m also writing fiction, so I have paused for the moment.  Ada’s book both deserves and requires attention; I don’t want to read it sloppily, and I realized that I was doing so — so I stopped.  I’ll get back to it in a bit, when I’m at a good pause-for-a-breather point in my own work.

I’ve also picked up Neil Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats,  which, being non-fiction, doesn’t hijack my fiction-processing faculties.  It includes the text to the famous “Make Good Art” speech, always an inspiration to me.

Meanwhile, Google alerted me that E.C.Ambrose mentioned the Steerswoman series in a blog post on maps… and that reminded me of Ambrose’s own books, and the fact that that her blog is great resource for people interested in the writing process.   There’s all sorts of excellent advice on many subjects relating to writing, like: The uses of location, of detail, suspense, and more.  She knows whereof she speaks and expresses it well.  And she’s taught at the Odyssey Writing Workshop.  All good reasons to check out both her blog and her books.

Lastly: Do not forget about the Con or Bust fundraising auction!    Bidding closes on Sunday at 4PM Eastern time, and there are lots of SF/F- related books objects and memorabilia available, and jewelry and handicrafts. Like a steampunk guitar pick-guard!  Seriously, where else are you going to find one of those?

Photo May 24, 6 40 21 AM


May 26 2016

It’s that time of year again…


Once again, Con or Bust is holding its fundraiser auction; and once again, I’ve donated some items to be auctioned off.

Con or Bust is a non-profit organization that helps people of color/non-white people attend science fiction and fantasy conventions.   You can read more about them here.

I submitted three items to the auction.   To bid, you have to go to the Con or Bust site, and post your bid as a comment on that item’s post.

Here’s what I submitted:

First:  A copy of the paperback British edition of The Steerswoman

Kirstein Steersw

Sure, we love our e-readers — but we love physical books even better.  But alas, the Steerswoman series only exists as a ebooks.

But wait — that was not always true!   Once they were all real objects existing in the real world — books you could hold, handle, page through at will.   Oh, if only you could have one of those…

Well, you can. And I’ll autograph it.

When the Brit publisher let the book go out of print, they offered to sell me a bunch of copies for a good price; and so I do have a number of these mass-market paperbacks of the first book.

Click here to head over to the Con or Bust auction site to bid.

Second item: a trade paperback of The Lost Steersman

Kirstein Steersman


A similar thing happened with Del Rey Books and The Lost Steersman :  “Do you want these copies that we are going to throw out?   If so, give us some money,” they said.  “Yes, I do,” I replied.  “And here’s some money.”

So I have a whole bunch of these… alas, they did not do the same with the other books in the series.  I don’t know why.

But here it is.  It can be yours. Autographed.  Existing in actual physical reality

Click here to go to the auction site to bid on this book.


Okay, now: Item Three is special.

“Lost Steersman” handmade blank journal

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

Back when I was writing The Lost Steersman,” I generated a lot of printouts.  My writer’s group, the Fabulous Genrettes, was in full swing, and I needed to give the ladies actual manuscripts to read and comment on, and scribble on, and return to me…

But I felt odd just throwing the manuscripts away afterwards.  That was my book!

Now, at that time I was also experimenting with paper-making, and it occurred to me that it might be especially cool to recycle the manuscripts into new paper.  So, I shredded the printouts, re-shredded them even finer, and did exactly that.

I like the way the paper came out.   And as a decorative effect, I included some less-shredded shreds, so that random words from the story would appear within the paper itself.

kirstein inner paper

closer view, if you click

I had been making hand-bound blank books as a hobby for years.  Having handmade paper brought it to a whole other level.

The journal measures 6.5 x 4.75 inches (16.51 x 12.06cm).   The endpaper is bark-paper,


and the cover is marble paper (hand-marbled, although not by me).   It closes with an old silk ribbon (Alemeth being a center of silk-making, of course).

And the front is decorated with a little snail, in honor of the little snails in the book…

Little Snail

Little snail guaranteed not to eat the book.

The internal paper does not work well with ball-point pen, but is good with ink, felt-tip, and colored pencils. I provide one loose sheet of the same paper, so you can test your art materials beforehand.


Kirstein cover

click for more detail

Oh, and I include a paperback copy of The Lost Steersman, too.

If you’re interested, head over to Con or Bust to bid on this.

And be sure to look through the entire Con or Bust auction site for some really amazing things you can get.    Such as: naming rights to a character in a novel by John Scalzi, and a copy of a real Farscape script with an actual piece of the spaceship Moya.


I like the whole idea of Con or Bust, and here’s why I support it:

a) Everyone should read science fiction and fantasy.  SF/F is actually good for you!   It increases your intellectual and imaginative skills, deepens your understanding of the world, and can be a great source of joy.

b) Everyone who likes SF/F should go to a convention at some point in their life, multiple times if possible.  At conventions, you meet other like-minded people, people who take delight in the same things you do — and you learn that you are not weird, are not a misfit, and are not alone.  There are lots of us.  And we want you.

c) People of color, and especially African-Americans, are very often actively discouraged by educators and American society in general from pursuing intellectual goals, or seeking intellectual values.  Which also means that many potential readers — and potential writers — of SF/F are directed away from our field, away from all its delights and benefits.   But by helping people of color get to conventions, Con or Bust is acting directly against those negative messages.  It says, explicitly: you belong here.

So, there you are.  Some steerswoman-related objects for you, if you want them. Plus, a multitude of other items available, at all price ranges.

In other, unrelated news: Dammit, my printer died.


Apr 30 2015

More about the Con or Bust items


The Con or Bust auction ends on Sunday May 3 at 4PM (I put my items up a little late…), so if you want to bid on any of the cool things over there, you have until then.

(And I forgot to mention — any of these can be autographed, if you like…)

First up:

steerswoman solo small

A copy of the Brit edition of The Steerswoman.

The series now only exists in ebook form, but I have in my possession a number of hard copies from its print days.  This is the British edition of the first book.


Next up:

steerswoman with map small

A nother copy of the Brit edition of The Steerswoman, but with a map of Rowan’s world, printed on handmade paper personally made by me and my personal hands.  I used to make paper by hand… it was fun but messy.  I haven’t done it in a while, but I still have some left from my previous production.  I find that the map looks cool on the rough-surfaced, deckle-edged white paper.  It’s printed on, not drawn by hand, but still looks nice.  It’s the map from Volume 4, The Language of Power, so contains some spoilers!



lost steersman solo small2

A copy of The Lost Steersman.

Again, hard copies of the books are hard to find, so if you want tangible non-e books, here’s your chance.



lost steersman with blank book small

A copy of The Lost Steersman but with a little hand-bound blank journal.

It was while I was writing The Lost Steersman that I was also experimenting with paper-making.    I recycled printed drafts of the book into handmade paper, and  I intentionally left fragments of text visible in the finished pages, as random decorative inclusions.

lost steersman inside2 small

There’s a little snail on the cover, edged in gold, in honor of the Little Snails, and the ribbon tie is old silk, in honor of Alemeth.

It’s a pretty thing, 20 pages.   The pages are rough-surfaced, and rather stiff.   They work well with colored pencil, fountain pen, dip pen, and felt tip. (Ballpoint does NOT work well!)  I include a couple of loose squares of the paper, so you can experiment with your writing and drawing implements.

lost steersman blank book small

Note to those of you south of the equator:  on this one, I pay for shipping anywhere in the world.   I can’t afford to do that for all the items — it’s crazily expensive.  But I thought I could manage it for one item, and this one is my favorite. I’ll use the least expensive method I can find, and it might take a while to reach you, but it will in the end. (If you’re from Down Under and you want one of the other books, maybe you have a northern pal I can mail it to, with whom you can make further arrangements on your own?)

And finally:

cloud journal small

A hand-bound blank journal that I’ve decided to call “The Cloud Journal”.

None of this paper is handmade… but it’s just nice.

Cover is white and gray, reminiscent of clouds; end-papers are dark sliver-gray.  Darker than it looks in the photo — makes me think of starry nights.

cloud journal endpaper small

The internal paper is what they call “parchment” when you buy it in the art store.

The embellishment on the cover was rescued from an old earring… so old that I  can’t recall if it really is abalone, mother of pearl and silver.   I’m pretty sure it is, but can’t swear to it.

cloud journal charm small

So, that’s it, five items.

But don’t forget that Con or Bust has a lot of other offerings up for auction — books and handicrafts, and even manuscript critiques!   You should check them all out…



Apr 27 2015

Con or Bust auction items


I just now posted five items on the Con or Bust fundraising auction site.

I would put up some pictures here but — wow, I’m beat.  Spent the last couple of days doing this (which I do not regret, but: tired now).

So, just pop on over to Con or Bust to see, and possibly bid!

They are:

A copy of the Brit edition of The Steerswoman.

A nother copy of the Brit edition of The Steerswoman, but with a map of Rowan’s world, printed on handmade paper personally made by me and my personal hands.

A copy of The Lost Steersman.

A copy of The Lost Steersman but with a little hand-bound blank journal containing pages of handmade paper, which were recycled from old printout drafts of The Lost Steersman. I intentionally left some shreds of text visible, as decorative elements, and there’s a little snail on the cover, edged in gold, in honor of the Little Snails.

A hand-bound blank journal that I’ve decided to call “The Cloud Journal”.

I might add some enticing photos here later, but right now: Must. Sleep.

Feb 19 2014

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


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!

Jan 28 2014

Three down, five to go


Well, I thought I’d be able to do more of my own stuff last week, since it was the between-chemos week. Alas, I just ended up doing stupid amounts of extra hours at the day-job! Because I felt strong, and I could do it! And stuff was piling up. And I didn’t want to face the deadlines on urgent things hitting this week, with tons of stuff still left over from the previous weeks.

The main thing I want to be doing at the moment is getting the next ebooks out!

And of course, actual writing.

Interestingly, I seem to be able to think about writing, and intermittently do some, while they pump in my chemo. I’m there, I can’t go anywhere else. I’m pretty much stuck. It’s actually rather liberating. If people don’t interact with me a lot, my brain has a chance to go to that writing place, and do some reviewing and planning, revising and writing — to a degree. If it’s noisy, I plug in Pandora.

Of course, I can do this because I still feel pretty good. Some of the people around me in the chemo suite are visibly more unhappy than I; and I do know that things will become more difficult further down the line. I have no illusions about that.

Still, three down, five to go!

In other news: The Con or Bust auction will be starting up on February 10, and as usual I’ll have something in the auction. Possibly another hand-bound blank book; that’s what I’d like best to do. If I’m not up to that, at least some signed paperbacks.

And if you like auctions of SF/F related material, the Endicott West/Terri Windling clear-out is still going on, this time with a collection of pre-Rafaelite-related items. INCLUDING a hand-painted motorcycle jacket executed by artist Cortney Skinnner! He’s going to touch it up a bit before its next owner receives it. I saw it when it was new, and it was pretty impressive! Check out the photos.

Well, I’m off work today, being a bit shakier after this chemo session than I was after the previous. A trend, but not a steep one yet. I’m somewhat overloaded with being around people, too. When you have cancer, people look at you! All the time! And monitor things and test other things, and ask you to report on general other things. For a natural introvert, it can get a bit wearying.

However, we just had a couple of visits from two sets of dear friends, which was time well spent, I say.

But I’m glad not to have to be in the office today…

Feb 17 2013

If you’re at Boskone this weekend, you might have noticed…


… that I’m not there.

Here’s what happened:

Last year, I had to skip Boskone (that’s convention run by the New England Science Fiction Association, if you didn’t know).   I apologized to them, and asked that I be included the following year.

Along about January, I realized I hadn’t received an invitation to this year’s Boskone!

Now, running a convention is a HUGE, all-volunteer project, and I’m sure that as much of it as possible has to be automated — such as sending out invitations.  And I suspect that the writers who participate in one year are automatically asked back the following.   And I suspect that my removing myself from that category last year resulted in me being passed over this year.

So, I immediately sent an email asking if I could be included this year, if it wasn’t too late — and that I’d understand if it couldn’t be arranged.

And apparently, it could not… so I am Boskone-less this weekend.

I considered attending as a regular paying member of the audience, but a) the hotel was booked up! and b) with the Lost Weekend of Stuff that Could Not Happen Because of Apocalyptic Blizzard last weekend, I have just so much junk at home that needs to get done so that I can — hello! — have time and space left in which to write, that I figured What the Heck, stay home and do that.

And that’s what I did.

But I hope that you ARE at Boskone, and that  you’re having a wonderful time.  Because it’s an excellent convention.

In other news:  I am definitely going to Readercon in July.  This is a fact!   Our hotel room is booked, I responded YES to my invitation — I Will Be There.


And Update on other stuff: As of this writing, The Wood-Gnome Book has reached only $45 on the Con or Bust auction.  Really, folks, can’t we do better?   It’s for a good cause!  (Con or Bust provides funding to help science fiction fans who are people of color/non-white, who want to attend a convention but can’t afford it.   Conventions can be seriously expensive to get to and to attend, not to mention hotel rooms, etc.   So, science fiction people helping out other science fiction people — what’s not to love?)

Plus, the book comes with copy of The Steerswoman!  And I’ll autograph it !   Plus, I’ll autograph the extra sheet with the little story about the wood-gnome book.   And I’ll mail it anywhere in the world!





Feb 12 2013

The Wood-Gnome Book


The wood-gnomes noticed that the Steerswomen were always making books, and decided that they would do that, too.

Except, they didn’t know how to make paper.  So they stole some.

They knew that string was involved.   Luckily, they had some string.  They put it with the paper.

Then they added some hickory nuts, because hickory nuts are good and they wanted it to be a very good book.

Also, dried grass, because there was some.

And bark, and green moss.

One of them had an old silk ribbon, and thought it would look nice; and everyone agreed the book would look nice with a silk ribbon.

So the wood-gnomes took all the things to make a book, and put them in a pile.

They sat and watched for a while.

The things failed to become a book.

Then one of the wood-gnomes added a turtle, because Hey, look, I found a turtle!

The turtle didn’t help.

Then everyone got bored, forgot what they were doing, and wandered away.

Later, a steerswoman found the pile of things, and turned them into a book.

This is the book.


Well, I’ve finished my item for the Con or Bust auction and this is it — a  hand-bound blank book.

I’m pretty pleased by how it turned out.


The interior paper is handmade from recycled materials.    Although I treated the paper surface  for writing and drawing, it’s very rough-textured and quirky.   Works well with fountain pen and illustration pens, if you don’t mind a bumpy ride.   Colored pencil uses the texture to good advantage.   I have not tested for watercolor.


I include some loose scraps of the same paper,  to test your media before using.

Book size is 4.5 inches x 6 inches (11.43 cm x 15.24 cm).

The cover is textured art paper,  trimmed with frayed silk ribbon and carved wooden beads.    Endpapers are papyrus.


I include with this book: a sheet of the same handmade paper printed the little tale about the wood-gnomes (seen above,) and a copy of the British edition of The Steerswoman, in which we first meet the wood-gnomes.


I will ship anywhere in the world.     North America gets Priority Mail; other international will be via first class mail, which will take somewhat longer.


If you want to bid, head over to Con or Bust using this link– opening bid is $25.

And don’t forget to check out the items other people have contributed for auction!