Jul 31 2014

Arts & Crafts. Plus: sundry unrelated but interesting items


Doing a bit of catch-up here — two weekends in a row chock-full of running around apparently requires at least one full weekend of Not Much of Anything Except Naps and Leisurely Walks.

The usual Post-Readercon get-together took place, with fellow authors Ann Zeddies and Geary Gravel. We hung out, talked a lot, did not stint on the wine and other imbibables, ate excellent dinners, enjoyed selected audiovisual entertainments, and shared some work in progress. Also: executed our now-traditional collage art works. The last few years we’ve been covering book-shaped boxes with collages, which has the advantage of resulting in an item that can be put on a shelf, as opposed to yet another thing to hang on one’s wall, when all the wall space has already been used up, so that the new artwork ends up admired for a day and then consigned to the basement for eternity.


Mine, Geary's, Ann's

Mine, Geary’s, Ann’s


(Because many images follow, I’ll put a page break here, so your browser won’t load them all unless you’re actually interested in seeing them. Alas, this doesn’t work if you come here via facebook or through a feed; you just get all the pictures and it will take FOR. EV. ER.)

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May 13 2014

The Language of Power now up on Smashwords


The Language of Power is now onsale at Smashwords!


Go ahead and click.  You know you want to.

Go ahead and click. You know you want to.


As ever, it will take a while to promulgate out to the other sellers (iBooks, Kobo, etc) — Smashwords has to get it to them, and they each have their own schedule as to when they go live with newly-arrived ebooks.    I wanted to get this done today, so I’m glad all the factors came together nicely.

So, for your Kindle, Amazon is the place to go; and for everything else, it’s all at Smashwords now, and other ebook-sellers soon.

Well, must go; busy day tomorrow.




May 7 2014

Review for The Lost Steersman is up


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.

May 5 2014

The Outskirter’s Secret now up on Smashwords (in all platforms!)


Which means that it will soon  be promulgated across to other ebook sellers (iBooks,  Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.).   But that hasn’t happened yet.



Only Smashwords so far.

 The Lost Steersman and The Language of Power should follow in the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, I have three days before surgery, and lots to do to set things up at home…

Apr 30 2014

The Steerswoman, up at iBooks. PLUS: new review of The Outskirter’s Secret



The ebook of The Steerswoman is up for sale at iBooks, for those of you with Apple devices:


No, don't click on it -- I can't link you to an iBooks entry!  You'll have to go there yourself.

No, don’t click on it — I can’t link you to an iBooks entry! You’ll have to go there yourself.


Now, I know for a fact that the ebook has also been sent to Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Baker & Taylor Blio, and Flipkart (that’s in India — I’ve already sold in India via Amazon, by the way) among others.  However, it hasn’t shown up on their websites yet… So it could be a case of Real Soon Now, depending on the individual websites.

How do I know this?  Well, for everything not-Amazon, I’m using Smashwords as my distributor, and they do have some nice tracking, so I can see which online stores have been sent the ebook.    But so far, only iBooks actually  has the book on sale.

So, if you’ve been waiting for this, check your favorite ebook source, to see if it’s up yet — if it’s not, it will be, soon!

Next up: I have to do the same for the other books…

In other news:  Hey, James Davis Nicoll  has put his review of The Outskirter’s Secret online!  Go here for his fancy-blog version, and go here for his Live Journal version, which has a lot more comments from readers. I’m finding the discussion pretty interesting…

Be warned that there are TONS of spoilers.

Ack!  Must run now.   I am suddenly in a time-crunch.   This because they’ve set the date for my surgery as May 9, just over a week away, and now I must accomplish everything that needs to be done before that in that short span of time.

More later…

ADDED INFO I FORGOT:  Hey you can get it in every format, right now, from Smashwords themselves!


Apr 25 2014

Still here…


Still here, but kind of worn down… now that I’m off the Taxol and only getting Herceptin, I’ve been trying to do a bit more, to build up my strength.  I actually drove myself to all my appointments on Monday!  It was rather mind-boggling, after being chauffeured by my long-suffering sister for the last couple of months.    On another day, I took a half-hour walk!

Of course, both of those things completely wiped me out afterward, which is ironic: to get stronger, you have to make yourself more tired.  But that’s how you do it, push a little bit more each day.  Feeling tired is part of the process; it’s how I know I’ve actually done something.

I’ve received a lot of encouraging emails and comments — I probably won’t be able to reply to each one, but it really is good to hear from each of you.   It means a lot, and I want to thank you all.

In between resting and not-resting, I’m still working on getting the ebooks out on non-kindle platforms, with Sabine’s help.  I can’t give you a definitive timeline on that, not yet.   I should know more in a few days…

In other news: James Davis Nicoll has written quite a nice review of The Steerswoman.    Here’s the link to it on his website.

It’s also posted on his LiveJournal page, where other LJ’ers have left some comments.

More later; I have some stuff to do before I turn in…


Dec 23 2013

Sometimes the wind comes out of nowhere and knocks you sideways.


I’m sorry to say that I have some very bad news. I wasn’t certain that I wanted to tell this just before Christmas, but for no clear reason, I feel that I ought to. Just to get it said and done, I suppose.

The bad news is this: I’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Now that I’ve dropped that stunner, I want to immediately reassure you: my prognosis is good.

The treatment of cancer has come a long way in the last couple of decades, and breast cancer in particular has been very well-studied. The type of cancer I have has targeted treatment available, and the track record on this is good.

Let me pause to stress that: Track record is good. They know what to do.

I have a lot of confidence in science. If you’ve read my books, you know that.

My doctors and I have decided on a course of treatment, and tomorrow I’ll be meeting with the nurse oncologist to finalize my schedule of chemotherapy, and my date for surgury and so on. So far, the plan is for aggressive chemo starting December 30th, surgery sometime in May, followed by a less difficult course of chemo through the end of 2014. If the chemo works really well, I might be able to do without radiation entirely! We’ll have to see how it pans out.

And oddly, at the moment, my spirits are actually pretty good. And this is because I went through a battery of advanced (and frankly geeky-techno-cool) tests (CAT scan, MRI, mammograms, ultrasounds, radioactive bone scan, heart test involving making my actual blood radioactive!) and the word is — no cancer elsewhere.

That’s great news! The day after I was told that, I had these waves of happiness wash over me periodically. I had to ask myself, Why am I happy? Hello, I have breast cancer!

Because it’s ONLY in my breast and nearby lymph nodes. This is treatable.

All this happened in the past two weeks, and it’s been a whirlwind. And during everything, my worst fear was that the cancer would be advanced, and untreatable — but that’s not the case.

This cancer is treatable, and the treatment is endurable.

It will be difficult, miserable, unpleasant in the extreme at times — but the chances are very high that it will work.

I’m also lucky that my sister Sabine will be with me through all this. There will be times when the treatment will leave me very ill, and it’s good to know that she’ll be here to help me out. I’m more grateful to her than I can possibly express.

I’ll get through it. And we’ll probably be at Worldcon in London, too. I’ll be past the worst of the treatments by then, and on a lighter course of chemo, every three weeks. We’ll just slip London into one of the gaps, there.

But between now and then, it’s going to get tough.

And some of you are aware that I was working on launching a Kickstarter campaign that would allow me to quit my day-job and write full time.

Unfortunately, yes, that had to go out the window. For the next year, at least. For two reasons:

1. My day-job provides my health insurance. And this stuff is going to be crazy expensive.

2.  I could not in good conscience ask people to pre-fund a year off to write when I might spend significant portions of that year too ill to do much of any use.

So, sticking with the day-job.  They do tell me that they’re willing to work around whatever schedule I need.  Which is nice of them.   Yep.   Sticking with the day job.

Man, that’s especially disappointing!  I was so looking forward to just walking out that door…

Well, that’s gloomy. What we need here is a little ray of sunshine.

Ooh! How about this:

 Steerswoman coverYes, this is the eBook. Yes. I said YES.

 You know I had been working on the eBooks, right?  Many people have complained about me not releasing them yet…

The reason I hadn’t released them was that I was planning on using them as rewards for contributing to the Kickstarter campaign.  (Like, for $10 you would have got an eBook of the new book when it was done, but for $25 you would get that PLUS immediately, the eBooks of all four previous books, no waiting involved!)

With Kickstarter out of the picture, the eBooks can begin to roll out!

And I really,  really, wanted at least one to be on sale by Christmas.  And, oh look!  There it is.

Because, you know.

I had assumed (with the Kickstarter) that I’d have until the end of January to finalize the covers and formatting, and all the attendant self-pub chores that you don’t realize until you’re in the Bowker ISBN registration website, trying to click on all the clicky things to get your official registration done.  And then on the the Kindle Pub site for more of the same.

But I really wanted it done by Christmas, sort of as a statement of confidence, if you will.  So, I took all the stuff I’d set aside for January and did it yesterday and today. For the first book in the series that is.  And only on Kindle so far.

I’d have loved to get them ALL on sale by Christmas, on all platforms… but it just wasn’t possible at this short notice.  Still,  having done one, I now know the ropes and the others will move out pretty quickly.

I have to say:  Thank you, thank you Scrivener for streamlining the conversions!

And, there it is.  I can’t believe I did all that in a day and a half.   It Was Fun.  But exhausting.

Oh, did I mention that the eBook version of The Steerswoman makes an excellent last-minute Christmas gift?   I feel I should mention that.

So, there you are.

Despite all expectation, I seem to be having a very merry Christmas.

I hope you have one, too.  You deserve it.  As do we all.


Dec 10 2012

The best source for your steerswomanly needs


It’s that gift-giving season again and, as has become traditional, I’ve waited until almost too late to remind people that I’m a writer, and that you can buy my books as gifts for your friends and family!


traditional Kirstein Christmas Zebra

On the door.

Two ways to buy:

METHOD 1 – DIRECT FROM ME: I have copies of the stand-alone mass-market version of The Steerswoman(British edition w/ spooky cover) for $15 which includes Priority shipping (3 business days) anywhere in the US. (Outside the US, cost for shipping would be based on destination.)



british steerswoman has a suspicious gaze

Brit edition!

Also, I have copies of The Lost Steersmanfor $20 including Priority shipping in the US.  (Again, outside the US, cost for shipping would depend on destination.  It costs something like $80 to get to New Zealand!)


cover by cliff Neilsen

The Lost Steersman is currently out of print — so if you buy it through Amazon, you’d be buying from a rare-books dealer, and paying extra bucks. The same is true of the stand-alone version of The Steerswoman (“stand-alone” meaning: not as part of the Steerswoman’s Road omnibus that combines it with The Outskirter’s Secret.)

Those are the only two books currently available from me.    To buy from me, email me at rosemary.kirstein@gmail.com, and we’ll sort out addresses and payment method. (Coming soon: Paypal button! But not quite yet, so email until then.)

METHOD 2 – AMAZON.COM: For copies of The Steerswoman’s Road and The Language of Power, your best bet is Amazon.com.  (If you gasp as the price of The Steerswoman’s Road, just remember that it’s two books in one: The Steerswoman and The Outskirter’s Secret. Double-sized!)

So, it’s not too late!


Mar 25 2012

Pulled out of internet limbo


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:


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


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.



Dec 18 2010

The difference


Over in the comments, Jo Walton and Michael_gr reminded me of some issues that came up when The Steerswoman was first released.

One of which was: Market it as science fiction, or as fantasy?

I couldn’t help wondering, at that time: If people think it’s fantasy, then when those who prefer fantasy realize somewhere down the line that it’s realy science fiction, will they feel cheated? But on the other hand, if people assume it’s fantasy, those who prefer science fiction won’t even pick it up at all!

And won’t this totally screw my sales numbers?

It’s a good question to ask, all these years after the first release. I wonder how much effect that ambiguity did have…

But what happened was this: Del Rey came down on the side of “Market it as SF”:

cover art by Richard Hescox

cover art by Richard Hescox

(See the original on the Northern Arts website, here. Where it is for sale.)

And the British publisher, Pan, went for fantasy:

cover art by John Higgins

cover art by John Higgins

(See the version on Higgins’ website, where you’ll have to click it from a list on the left.)

When I asked Pan why they made that choice, they said that they believed that women would especially like the book, and “more women read fantasy”.

That’s what they said, folks.

Anyway, I like both covers, for different reasons.