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Sep. 22nd, 2016

12:44 pm - an update on the title giveaway

I maaaaaaaaaaaaay have a title for the thing mentioned here.

(Par for my brain’s course: it isn’t anything anybody suggested to me. But getting suggestions kicked me out of the ruts I was stuck in.)

However! This does not mean you should stop sending me ideas. a) I haven’t formally committed to anything yet, so I can still change my mind, b) it’s fascinating to see what people suggest, and c) I’ll still be giving away a signed copy of Cold-Forged Flame to one person who’s contributed title possibilities. So keep ’em coming!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/775703.html. Comment here or there.

01:30 am - Lisez-vous dragons en français?

Le tropique des serpents!

Cover for the French translation of The Tropic of Serpents

That’s right, the second book of the Memoirs of Lady Trent is out now in French! Merci beaucoup to Sylvie Denis, my translator, for all her splendid work, and to my publisher L’Atalante.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/775558.html. Comment here or there.

Sep. 20th, 2016

11:00 am - Let’s have a giveaway!

I’ve got all these copies of Cold-Forged Flame sitting around, and I’ve got a conundrum I’ve been stuck on for, uh, more than a year.

So, in the great tradition of the game Unexploded Cow, let’s use the one problem to solve the other!

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to suggest to me a title that would be suitable for a collection of my secondary-world fantasy short stories. I know I don’t want to call it “[Reasonably Well-Known Item from the Table of Contents] and Other Stories”; I know that every quotation I’ve unearthed and phrase I’ve come up with that implies secondary-world-ness sounds trite; I know that I’m perfectly willing to use a random evocative-sounding phrase, but I haven’t thought of one I like for this purpose. Therefore I put it to you, the Great Internets, to help me figure out what to call a collection that will probably be putting out in 2017.

You have one week: from now until this time next Tuesday (or Wednesday, if you’re on that side of the planet), suggest titles to me. You can suggest more than one. You can suggest them on any version of this post, on Twitter, or by email. I will take them all into account. If I choose your title, you get a signed copy of Cold-Forged Flame! If I don’t find a title that clicks, I will choose one recipient at random! If I choose a title from someone who already has a copy of Cold-Forged Flame, I’ll choose a recipient at random anyway!

Lay ’em on me! Because I am well and truly stuck. >_<

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/775171.html. Comment here or there.

Sep. 19th, 2016

10:03 pm - Dice Tales duo

The two most recent Dice Tales posts are “Breathing Room,” on the necessity of downtime and “filler” in games, and “Best-Laid Plans,” on what you do when the story goes in a different direction than you expected.

Comment over there!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/775021.html. Comment here or there.

Sep. 16th, 2016

01:37 pm - for the edification of others

The other day at the dojo, our sensei had us punching bare-handed against bags (the flat pad type that another person holds onto). I wound up punching mine a few more times with a little more force than was strictly wise — because of course I did; I’m a writer and I was curious to see what it felt like, and I’m unlikely to go around getting into fist-fights just for research.

Since my hand is still complaining at me a little bit today, I figure I should share what I learned with others, so they don’t have to do the same thing. 🙂

The actual impact stung a fair bit, and increasingly so as time went on, of course. But I was good about keeping my wrist straight, so the impact went up my forearm in a direct line; you can really mess yourself up if your wrist isn’t straight, because then it will buckle under the impact and you’ll probably sprain something. (And I really do mean straight. Mostly straight = not good enough.) My knuckles turned visibly red, and I got a small mark in the webbing between my ring and pinky finger, like I’d chafed the skin or something. Fortunately I didn’t persist to the point of really doing myself a mischief, because near the end I subconsciously flinched from the sting of impact; my wrist buckled, but there wasn’t enough force in the punch for that to do any damage, and then after that everything I threw was complete crap. I imagine that adrenaline would have carried me much further in a real fight, but odds are good that it would also have made me more likely to use bad form and hurt myself that way.

My knuckles stayed faintly red for the rest of the night, but were back to normal the next day, and the mark faded about as quickly. The lingering effect is in the soft tissue between my metacarpals: I still feel an intermittent ache there, and if I use my left hand to shift those bones around, I can tell there’s tension and stiffness. So the moral of this story, I think, is that if you’re going to talk about punches leaving a mark on the one who threw them (and you should, unless your character is a hardened bare-handed brawler), the problem isn’t so much in the knuckles as in the hand itself. Or the wrist, if they threw a stupid punch and sprained something. Or, y’know, all over the place if they were really dumb and dislocated a finger or broke a bone. But the palm of the hand is going to take a beating even if nothing more severe happens elsewhere.

So now you know. And don’t have to pound your own hands to find out.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/774798.html. Comment here or there.

Sep. 15th, 2016

10:00 am - And now for a disturbing question

I have reached new heights — or possibly depths — in asking for research recommendations.

Because I need stuff to read on the subject of torture.

(Consider that a trigger warning for the rest of this post, because yeah. It’s gonna be like that.)

For the purposes of the story I’m working on, what I need to look into are a) methods used and b) the short- and long-term effects of those methods. Discussions of the intel value or lack thereof are irrelevant for this project; the torture is being carried out for reasons other than the gathering of information. Ditto anything about the legality of such things, because this isn’t taking place in the real world. I’m focused on what the bad guys would be doing to the character (including considerations like “if they don’t want their victim to die from shock, how should they pace their actions”), how the character would plausibly respond to what’s happening (i.e. offering information they don’t care about, going catatonic, etc), and what kind of physical and emotional scars the victim would be left with afterward.

This is one of those cases where I almost certainly will not get graphic within the story itself about what’s being done, but I very much need to work out the graphic details so that I’ll know how to write everything around it. If you can recommend a book or web resource to me that will help me do this right, I’d be very grateful. My knowledge of the subject all derives from early modern witchcraft trials, which is long on ways of maiming people for life but short on the details of how it affected the victims during and after. I’m sure people have written about this in recent times; I just don’t know how to find what I need.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/774579.html. Comment here or there.

Sep. 14th, 2016

02:00 pm - more on COLD-FORGED FLAME

Fans of Dice Tales may be interested to hear that I have a post up at Tor.com today on adapting game material into fiction. (With specific reference to Cold-Forged Flame, of course.)

I’ve also been interviewed at My Life, My Books, My Escape on the novella and the process of writing it.

And for those who are interested in these kinds of things, I’ve put up the soundtrack for the novella on my site. It’s shorter than a novel soundtrack, of course, because a novella is shorter than a novel, but there are still six pieces of music I associate with it — all of them, unsurprisingly, drawn from my old game soundtrack for Ree.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/774180.html. Comment here or there.

11:25 am - Adventures of a Tin Chef

I am very far from Iron Chef status. But I’m starting to feel like I might at least have graduated to some form of metal. 😛

Since moving into our new house, I have actually done the Cooking Thing a fair bit — way more than I ever have before, that’s for certain. A few recipes I already knew; a lot more I pulled out of a cookbook and said “this sounds like it might be tasty.” Some I’ve even modified, like the ramen stir-fry where the recipe wound up being more what you might call guidelines than actual rules. (It was from a cookbook published in 1996; I used whatever fresh vegetables sounded tasty in place of the broccoli-carrot-cauliflower frozen “stir-fry mix” they recommended, teriyaki sauce in place of “stir-fry sauce,” and let’s just say that when you’re shopping at a Japanese grocery store in 2016, “oriental flavor” ramen is not one of the options on the shelf.)

A number of things have contributed to my increased willingness to cook:

* Having enough counter space that step one of making dinner is not “clear crap out of the way so I have somewhere to work.” This makes a huge difference all on its own, believe you me.

* Having enough cabinet and drawer space that I can lay my hands on the item I need without first having to move twelve other things out of the way. Ditto previous comment.

* Having a grocery store within pleasant enough walking distance that obtaining what I need for dinner that night is a nice excuse to get out of the house and move around a bit, rather than a chore.

* Having three (or sometimes more) people to cook for instead of just two.

* Having my sister around to help. This is a double benefit, since first of all, she acts as my sous-chef: I find the preliminary “cut stuff up” stage of making dinner to be entirely tedious, while she’s much more willing to do that part than the actual cooking, which means our inclinations pair up well. Also, her presence means that I have company while I’m cooking, instead of being stuck off in the kitchen bored out of my skull and wishing I was doing something I cared about more.

So I’m still not a gung-ho chef by any means, interested in the cooking for its own sake.
I am still prone to going “meep” and deciding a recipe sounds too complicated for me, even though I know many of my friends could do it in their sleep. But we’ve made a variety of different meals and show all signs of going on to make more, instead of defaulting back to pre-prepared stuff as often as possible. And I’m even developing a few instincts, like “I’ve doubled this recipe, but I don’t think I need to double the liquid; yeah, a little more than usual looks like enough” or “I think the turkey cuts need to be thinner next time” or “this was fine, but would probably be better if I browned the sausage first.”

I’ve made a tag for cooking-related content, so those of you who do really enjoy cooking, expect the occasional post wherein I will ask for advice on modifying recipes or what have you.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/774079.html. Comment here or there.


Sep. 13th, 2016

07:00 am - It’s a twofer day: COLD-FORGED FLAME and A STAR SHALL FALL!


It’s out!

PLEASE NOTE: this is a novella. Which is shorter than a novel. I already anticipate there will be reviews to the effect of “I thought I was getting a whole book but I wasn’t” — novellas are making a comeback, but they’re not yet so widespread that the occasional reader won’t be blindsided by the shorter length.

But if you want a whole novel’s worth of stuff, I got you covered there, too!


That’s right — at long last, A Star Shall Fall is out in the UK! Unlike the previous two Onyx Court books, this one has never been published in that country before. Only one more to go, and you can collect a full matched set . . .

(And if you think this is a big day, wait until April 25th of next year, when you’ll get Within the Sanctuary of Wings [Memoirs of Lady Trent #5] and Lightning in the Blood [Varekai #2] on the same day!)

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/773846.html. Comment here or there.

Sep. 11th, 2016

11:21 am - Yuletide is a-comin' in

For those who are interested, the annual Yuletide fanfiction exchange is starting up again! If you already know what it’s all about, the nominations post is here. If this is unfamiliar to you, the exchange rules are here, and the more detailed eligibility rules are here. Which may very well be confusing to a newbie, so feel free to ask me questions if there’s something you need clarification on.

Short form: Yuletide is very fun, covers a broad swath of things one would not normally term “fandoms” (ranging from historical periods to works of art to blog posts to commercials), and produces a number of really excellent stories every year. I’ve been doing it since 2010, and it’s sort of a busman’s holiday for me — a chance to tell stories and have it be pure play.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/773122.html. Comment here or there.

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