Swan Tower

Apr. 21st, 2014

10:00 am - post roundup

Things I’ve been saying in different places ’round the interwebz . . . .

“Seeing the Invisible” — this month’s post at SFNovelists is a review of Invisible, the ebook collection Jim Hines put together of guest posts and additional essays on the topic of representation. Proceeds from sales go to charity.

“The Gospel of Combat” — an excerpt from Writing Fight Scenes, which will be familiar to long-time readers of this blog. You can comment there for a chance to get a free copy of the ebook, though!

Interview at My Bookish Ways — in which I talk about a variety of things.

“The Dreaded Label ‘Mary Sue’” — guest post at Far Beyond Reality, talking about female characters who don’t apologize for their awesomeness.

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

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Mar. 3rd, 2014

12:12 pm - Posting makes the Internet go ’round

I’m not doing a giant blog tour like last year, but I have contrived to be in a few places around the Internet recently:

1) On the Tor/Forge blog, These Are a Few of My Favorite Dragons. Can you guess which ones I picked? (Before you click on the link to see, of course.)

2) On Tor.com — not to be confused with the Tor/Forge blog — I participated in a series called “That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing.” The point of the series is to talk about awesome moments in other people’s books, perfect little twists or amazing scenes that just blew you away. Head on over to see what I chose. (Many of you, I think, will not be surprised in the slightest . . . .)

3) On Lawrence M. Schoen’s site, another post series, this one with the ominous title of “Eating Authors,” and the much less ominous theme of “writers talk about the fabulous meals they’ve had.” I chose to discuss the kaiseki meal Starlady took us to in Kyoto. Eight tiny courses of phenomenally good Japanese food, enough to make a gourmand weep for joy. :-)

4) Okay, this one’s old, but I realized I’d forgotten to link to it when it first went up: Timing is the bane of existence” at SFNovelists. On the unexpected pitfalls of figuring out, not what will happen in your book, but when it will happen.

5) Not a link, but a reminder: I’ll be at FOGcon this weekend, and at Borderlands Books on Sunday at 7 p.m. I hope to see one or more of you there!

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

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Feb. 26th, 2014

02:34 pm - Five Things Make a Post That Is Not About Supernatural

1) The funny thing about having a release date early in the month is that it sneaks up on you. After all, we’re still in February. That means The Tropic of Serpents won’t be out for a while yet, right? Wrong — it’s out next Tuesday, i.e. March 4th. (For those of you in the U.S. and Canada, at least. UK folks, your street date is the 20th of June. After that, Tor and Titan should be publishing more or less simultaneously, so you won’t have the added wait.)

Kirkus, by the way, not only gave Tropic a starred review; they listed it as one of their Best Bets for March. They even used the cover art as the top image for the post, which is yet another sign that Todd Lockwood and Irene Gallo are awesome.

2) If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’ll have a chance to hear me read from The Tropic of Serpents at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 9th, at Borderlands Books. It’s my intent to also publicly announce the title for the third book there, as an added treat for my hometown peeps. ;-)

3) Also for Bay Area types, I’m going to be at FOGcon weekend after next. I unfortunately had to back out of one of my panels because of a karate belt test on Friday night, but I’ll still be doing several things that weekend:

4) In non-Tropic-related news, I participated in the Book of Apex blog tour over at Books Without Any Pictures. There’s a review of my story “Waiting for Beauty,” a brief interview, and a guest post wherein I talk about how writing historical fiction helped me become better at worldbuilding in general.

5) And Now For Something Completely Different: I really love both of these art sets, one of Disney princess in historically accurate costumes (the last image is the best!), and one of celebrities cosplaying as Disney characters.

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

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Jan. 30th, 2014

12:01 pm - Jay Lake and a chance to fund SCIENCE!!!

(This failed to crosspost as it should, so you get a manual crosspost while I work it out.)

As a goodly percentage of you probably know, author Jay Lake has cancer. He's had cancer for years now, going through round after round of chemo and surgery in an attempt to halt it; they've managed to slow it, but he's pretty close to terminal decline at this point.


Read this post. It's about Jay participating in a cutting-edge NIH trial that holds great promise for improving our methods of cancer treatment in the future. It will likely extend his own life at least a bit; it will certainly extend a great many other people's lives, and possibly even save some of them, as doctors put together superior tools for the task.

As Jay points out, the reason they're able to take such a good shot at it with him is because of a fundraiser his friends ran before, which pulled together enough money for Whole Genome Sequencing. That data means the doctors in this trial are incredibly well-armed. But the mass of data also means it will take longer to sort through, which means Jay will be in Maryland longer than expected. Since Maryland is not where he lives, this is expensive.

There's another fundraiser. It has already met its goal, but the goal was to cover the length of time Jay expected to be in Maryland. Which means it is no longer enough. There will be some stretch goals added soon, but you don't need to know what those will be to donate, do you? You already know the ultimate cause is a good one. You aren't funding the NIH, but you are funding Jay's ability to participate in the trial, which will help both him and them. So if you can spare anything, please head on over and do so.

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Jan. 29th, 2014

11:36 am - Jim Hines on Correia and MacFarlane

So, there’s this.

As I said in the comments on Jim’s LJ, it took me a while to read the post, not because it’s long (though it is) but because my AAAAAAAAAAAAUGH meter kept maxing out and I would have to go away and breathe for a while before I could read any more.

I just . . . ye gods and little fishies. If you’re trying to respond to a piece on gender, and right up front you tell everybody that you’re assuming the person you’re responding to is a man and you can’t be bothered to check and see whether you’re right — even though the bio is right there at the bottom of the page, waiting to answer your question — then that’s pretty much a red flag of “Nobody should bother to listen to me on this topic.”

Because you just reinforced MacFarlane’s point. Yes, sure, she’s talking about the default of non-binary gender — but sweet baby Jesus, if we can’t even get past the default of male gender, then the problem you’re trying to dismiss is even bigger than she’s saying. Correia makes it clear, over and over again, that he is uninterested in putting anything other than the straight white male default into his stories unless there’s a “reason” for it. And apparently, “people like that exist and would like to read stories in which they exist” is not a reason. Their identities have to be plot-relevant, yo, or it’s back to the straight white men (because that isn’t a political act at all, natch). Doing anything else will make science fiction BORING and then people will STOP READING IT and that’s why the genre is DYING. Because the way to make it thrive is to cater to the comfort zone of straight white male gun-loving conservatives: only non-binary people want to read about non-binary people, and presumably only black people want to read about black people, etc, so let’s stick with what’s safe, shall we?

I mean, sure, there’s money to be had in catering to that demographic. Correia is probably not wrong that he makes more money from his writing than MacFarlane does (though I don’t agree with the follow-on implication that this makes him right and him her wrong). But the notion that the future of the genre depends on not rocking the boat? That including the full range of human diversity is automatically a MESSAGE — but restricting that diversity is neutral and value-free?

Bull. Shit.

Take care in reading the comments on Hines’ site. He says they’ve been “civil,” but there are a lot of Correia’s fanboys in there, waving the flag of their ignorance on matters of sex and gender and so forth, and straying very close to the border of getting banned.

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

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Dec. 16th, 2013

02:31 pm - odds and ends

I'm still face-down in the book, plus trying to get ready for Christmas travel. In the meantime, have some random stuff!

Like this month's SF Novelists post: "I'm not allowed to tab away until this post is done," in which I talk about distractions.

Or a very wise post from Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith, on "Who Gets to Escape?"

Or some frickin' amazing tattoos.

Or an explanation of this poll. My family and I had been speculating that guys were more likely to have scars on the underside of their chins, due to exactly the kinds of hijinks various people described in the comments. But it turns out the data, at least as collected from my readership, does not support the anecdata; a slightly higher percentage of the women who responded have such scars than men.

Or, um . . . okay, I don't have a fifth thing. Feel free to suggest #5 in the comments!

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Dec. 12th, 2013

02:38 pm - 'Tis the season of good news, after all . . . .

I've been scarce around here because I'm head-down in the third book of the Memoirs, but I do feel compelled to brag a little bit more. :-)

The big thing is the Sword and Laser podcast (also posted here), which gives a brief but glowing review of A Natural History of Dragons. Why is this a big thing? Well, apart from the fact that they'll be interviewing me soon, check out the URL on that first link. They're partnered with BoingBoing, which means that for a little while yesterday, their review was posted on the front page of BoingBoing.

I don't know what that did to my sales, but I bet it was pretty good. ^_^

And then you've got Mary Robinette Kowal saying exceedingly nice things over on Book Smugglers, and Liz Bourke singled it out as one of her favorite books of the year, and so did Juliet Kincaid, and y'all, this is so totally the best thing I could have when we're nine days from the solstice and I'm in the Middle of the Book and everything is conspiring to make me have no energy and just want to sleeeeeeeeep. (Well, that and caffeine. Of which I have some in the fridge.)

Now if you'll pardon me, I have to go chop a character's hand off.

(No, I'm not telling you whose.)

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Dec. 6th, 2013

12:00 pm - in which the author is quite chuffed

A number of you probably know about this by now, but: NPR has included A Natural History of Dragons in their Best of Year . . . Venn diagaram . . . Oort cloud . . . not-actually-a-list . . . thingy.

Basically, although it looks like a list, what they've done is go the tag route. That's the "science fiction and fantasy" tag, but if you click on ANHoD there, you'll find it's also tagged "love stories," "for history lovers," and "it's all geek to me." (You can also read Annalee Newitz' recommendation.) Anyway, this is pretty awesome -- like, "it has apparently had a measurable effect on sales" levels of awesome.

Plus there's also this: A Natural History of Dragons was picked as one of the top 15 books of the year by Slate.com's book editor Dan Kois. Put that together with the Goodreads semifinalist thing, and the fact that there are still new reviews coming in at a steady pace, and, well, see the title of the post. Quite chuffed. Quite, quite chuffed. It's good encouragement to have as I tackle the dreaded Middle of the Book for #3.

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Dec. 3rd, 2013

02:05 pm - incipient madness

So, there's this.

Which is, not to put too fine a point on it, bloody gorgeous. Tor.com does well by its authors when it comes to artwork, I have to say. This is the work of Iain McCaig, and it will be paired with my story "Mad Maudlin" when it's published.

When will that be? I don't actually know. But soon, I hope. :-)

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Nov. 25th, 2013

11:43 pm - two copies left

In the course of contacting people who had bid in the Philippines disaster relief auction, I realized that most of the mad rush had been for the ARCs of The Tropic of Serpents (surprise!), with only some going toward A Natural History of Dragons. There are two copies of that left; the asking price is $10, but thus far people have been paying $20 and up. It's a good cause, so I have no compunctions about using peer pressure to encourage you to donate more than the baseline. ^_^ (Really, I should have had the good sense to list them at $20 to start with. I just plugged in my usual "I'm looking to get rid of some of this stock" prices without thinking it through.)

So yes: two copies left. Signed and personalized, if you wish! And good causes. So go forth and bid.

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