Chicago! I will be at C2E2 this weekend.

If you’re attending, I hope you’ll add my very first panel, ever to your schedule. On Saturday at 3:00 in room S402, I will join Kevin Hearne, Chloe Neill, Kerrelyn Sparks, and Jacqueline Carey for a discussion entitled Supernatural City. The panel will be moderated by Mia Garcia.

Look! A description:

Join Authors Jacqueline Carey (the Agent of Hel series), Kevin Hearne (the Iron Druid Chronicles), Chloe Neill (Chicagoland Vampires), Lauren Roy (Night Owls) and Kerrelyn Sparks (the Love at Stake series) on a guided tour of cityscapes populated by supernatural creatures, both friend and foe.

Afterwards, we all trek to the autographing area from 4:15-5:15, and I will scribble my name in your book if you would like.

I’m excited and nervous, and hope I can answer the questions and participate in the conversation coherently. If anyone wants to jump into the comments and drop some panel-member wisdom on me, I’m all ears!

Also, how geeked am I that going to cons is part of my job now? SO GEEKED.


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Game of Thrones: Breaker of Chains

(Trigger warning: rape)

Here there be spoilers for both A Game of Thrones the HBO series and A Song of Ice and Fire. Proceed at your own risk.

I’m almost always in the read-it-before-you-see-it camp, which often puts me on Team The Book Was Better. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate how hard it is to translate every tiny detail from page to screen. Scenes get cut, several characters are rolled into one new, conglomerate character. Casting choices, filming choices, choices that boil down to how can we tell this story in X hours?

The first time I really got it was with the miniseries of The Stand. (Act surprised, regular readers.) Four nights to tell that sweeping story, with all the intricate plot threads weaving together. I absolutely did my share of “But that’s not how it happened in the book!” but I understood. Details change in the translation, and if you look closely, you can often see why, whether you agree or disagree with the screenwriters and directors.

The why of the rape scene in Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode “Breaker of Chains” utterly eludes me.

Well, no, that’s not entirely true. I can come up with several whys, but none of them make that scene any less infuriating.

For those not watching, Cersei stands vigil over Joffrey’s body in the Great Sept of Baelor. Jaime enters, tells the septons and guards to leave, and after a conversation in which Cersei begs him to kill Tyrion for murdering their son, he rapes her. It is clearly non-consensual, with her repeating “No” over and over, trying to push him away, and struggling. While saying no.

Westeros is not a nice place. This has been well established both in the books and throughout the HBO series. The writers aren’t pulling punches — how could they, when the deaths of Ned Stark and Joffrey Baratheon are so central to the plot? It’s a brutal world, it’s an ugly world, and not a single character is safe.

They have, however, been consistent. Ned and his honor, Brienne and her loyalty. This isn’t to say characters can’t change. Sansa Stark has long ago stopped believing life will be like the pretty stories of ladies and their true knights, even when Ser Dontos is playing Florian to her Jonquil.

Jaime Lannister’s whole POV arc in A Storm of Swords not only flips the readers’ perceptions of him on its head, it begins an arc that makes one of the previously most-hated men in Westeros (behind like, Joffrey, Viserys Targaryen, and Tywin Lannister to this point) into one of its more likeable*.

*I want to pause here and acknowledge that hooooooly shit is a lot of what goes on in the books and the series problematic. With regards to women, characters of color, sexual assault and more. Seriously, go read Sady Doyle’s piece. It’s brutally honest. Also for  reference: How to Be a Fan of Problematic Things. Okay? Okay.

In A Storm of Swords, Jaime and Cersei do indeed meet in the Great Sept of Baelor while Joffrey lies in state. They have sex. It is consensual. The evidence for this is both in the text, in Jaime’s POV chapter (excerpted at the Onion AV Club here— again, go read the whole article), and from George R.R. Martin’s comments in reply to a fan’s question on his blog:

Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her.

That’s not how it happened in the episode. Martin mentions what he calls the “butterfly effect” of how differences in the show’s plotlines can affect the characters as we know them, I’m not sure this holds up for the Jaime Lannister Benioff and Weiss presented to us in season 3. He’s well into his redemption arc at this point, trying to put distance between the boy everyone calls the Kingslayer, the man who shoved Bran Stark out a window, and the man he’s trying to be. We’ve heard his speech about why he killed Mad King Aerys. We’ve seen him go back to save Brienne from Harrenhal and its bear pit. We watched him get disowned rather than give up what few shreds of honor he has left. He still loves Cersei, would very likely still kill for her. But rape her? It’s out of character.

And boy was it hard for me to type that last line. Isn’t that what people say about men accused of rape? Of men convicted of it? “Oh, he’s such a nice guy, he’d never do a thing like that.” So, yes, maybe Jaime is simply the Nice Guy Who Would Never Do That and Just Fucking Did. I mean, the draw of the series is that it shows how messy life is, how ugly things happen. How bad shit happens to good people and only very rarely do the perpetrators suffer the consequences.

But from a writing perspective, that feels just plain weak. Fiction is supposed to be less messy and senseless than real life. You don’t have a character take an action without there being a damned good reason for whatever it is they’re doing. You don’t have them act contrary to what the audience knows unless it’s for a reason. Sometimes, an action that seems out of character is a clue, or is part of a Big Reveal, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here.

It’s been suggested that this was done to make Cersei seem more sympathetic. We’ve watched her pick off Starks and be a terrible person for three seasons, and now the writers are maybe trying to steer away from that image. Again, potentially accurate, but if so, that’s lazy fucking writing. If the only way you can think of to make a female character more likeable is to have her raped, kindly go flush your laptop down the nearest toilet.

Unfortunately, I think there’s something even more despicable at work here, and the more I think about that scene in the context of the last few episodes, the more I fear I’m right.

In episode 1, Arya kills Polliver. Fans cheered because he had it coming.

In episode 2, Joffrey is poisoned and dies. Fans cheered because he had it coming.

In episode 3, Cersei is raped by Jaime.

Go ahead and fill in that next sentence.

We’ve seen her be scheming and manipulative. Cersei Lannister is a character we love to hate. Tyrion told her that someday her joy would turn to ash on her tongue, and oh, we wanted to see that day. We did see it, in “The Lion and the Rose,” but I’m not convinced the writers thought it was enough. How do you punish a headstrong woman? How do you break her even more? How do you get her as low as she can possibly be? Rape her.

And another thing, with regard to Jaime’s redemption arc that I’d mentioned earlier: we’ve watched him trying to become a better man. Since he’s come back to King’s Landing (much earlier than he did in the books), we’ve seen Cersei reject him over and over again. But he’s such a nice guy, you’re supposed to think as she flinches away from that missing hand. All the good stuff he’s done — leading the battle against Robb Stark (good from Cersei’s perspective, since King Robb would have possibly equalled dead Joffrey), being held captive by the Stark bannermen, his time with Brienne, his friendship with her, and through it all, trying to get home to the woman he loves. Doesn’t Cersei see what a nice guy he is?

What a Nice Guy. How dare she reject him? Doesn’t she owe him?

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong and something in the episodes still to come will address this. But I don’t have a lot of hope for that, especially after reading this excellent piece by Genevieve Valentine, “It’s Complicated.”

Twice now, we’ve seen what were consensual (if highly problematic) scenes turned into rapes. The first was in the pilot, with Dany and Drogo. In the books, she’s a 13-year-old girl sold to a 30-year-old man, so if you said her ability to consent was non-existent, I’d agree with you. The same can be asked of Cersei, whose age when she and Jaime first had sex currently escapes me. Setting those questions reluctantly aside, however, the characters both consented. In their situations, they had the agency to say yes. What does it say that the show is taking those away for shock value (Dany) and quite likely Punishing the Bitch (Cersei)?

Will I keep watching? For now, yes. The show usually gets more right than it gets wrong. In rewatches, I’ll skip over that scene, or get up and refill my drink. But the trust I had in the writers has taken a serious hit, and I’ll be watching with a more skeptical eye than usual for quite some time.

I highly recommending reading every piece I’ve linked so far. Some further reading for you:

The episode’s director, Alex Graves, considers the sex consensual. Also gross, the person who interviewed him, Alan Sepinwall, also seems to think Jaime’s been deprived of his rightful sexytimes, stating: “Jaime in turn seizes the moment to finally perform the act he’s been denied of since the war with the North began, even if he has to get very rough at first to get what he wants.”

Show writer David Benioff at least recognizes that yes, that was a rape scene.

Alyssa Rosenberg, on what this means for the show going forward.

Time.com: “The Game of Thrones Sex Scene Can’t Be Both Rape and Not Rape” by Eliana Dockterman (thanks, Marty) I hadn’t seen Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s quote on it. Sigh.

Also, as pointed out by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville: no one seems to be asking what Lena Headey thought of the scene. We’ve heard from several of the men involved in it. How about the woman at the center of it?

Vulture.com: “Yes, Of Course That Was Rape on Game of Thrones by Margaret Lyon

My friend Reuben Poling, at Dorkadia: “Jaime and Cersei’s relationship, fraught, and conflicted and generally fucked-up as it is, is also separated from the power dynamics that define the rest of their lives – a two-person feedback loop of mutual dependency, as much a bizarre expression of self-love as it is incest. Pressing the cheap, easy add-a-rape button that’s so common to “edgy” media doesn’t just do the source material and the characters a disservice; it cheats the audience.”

More as I get them.

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The 2014 Hugo Awards

The nominees for the 2014 Hugo Awards were announced Saturday, and whoa I have a lot of reading to do.

With how fast the internet world runs, I’m a little late to the reaction post party, but I have some thoughts and I’m sharing them anyway. So let’s get right to it.

First of all, I love how diverse the ballot is this year. I’m not even a little bit of a Hugo historian, so I don’t know if other years have been more representative, but damn. I’ve also seen it pointed out that rocketships are guaranteed to first-time winners in more than a few categories. Huzzah!

I’m happy to see that some of the works I nominated are on the ballot, sad for the ones that didn’t, and excited to read and experience most of the ones with which I’m unfamiliar. I have no idea how I’ll be voting yet — that’s what the Hugo Voter Packet will help me determine — and if I reveal my choices at all, it’ll be after the ballots are in.

First, though rejoicing for the works I’ve already read and seen! These are quick-hit reactions, by the by. I’ll save in-depth analysis for future posts.

By the categories:

Best Novel:
Orbit rocking the list with Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice and Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire’s Parasite!

The Wheel of Time series is on there in its entirety, due to a rule that allows a concluded series to be nominated if no individual works within that series have been nominated in the past. I’m a bit torn about it — the series has certainly had a huge impact on fantasy fiction. It was my introduction to epic fantasy. I would love to see some kind of special recognition or achievement award given to Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, to recognize the body and breadth of the work, but I don’t know if I’m on board with giving it my top Hugo vote.

Best Novella/Novellette/Short Story:
I am woefully behind on reading shorter works. Again, hooray for the Hugo Voter Packet, which will wrangle them all up for me!

Best Related Work:
Wonderbook is on my list of books to pick up. Bumping that to the top of the queue in 3…2…1…

If you haven’t yet read Kameron Hurley’s “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle, and Slaves Narrative,” hie thee to A Dribble of Ink now.

Best Graphic Story:
XKCD is always doing neat things. I’m geeked to see “Time” with a nomination here.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form:
Gravity and Pacific Rim! (And yes, Frozen! but as earwormy as the tunes are, and as keen as I was on the way the ending was handled, my heart’s with the live action SF this time around.) I’ve not yet seen Iron Man 3 or Catching Fire.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form:
<obligatory “Oh look, it’s all Doctor Who.”>

Which, yes, I am a fan. I don’t recall which of these were on my ballot, though I’m pretty sure An Adventure in Space and Time was. Look, William Hartnell is one of my Doctors, and I got all sniffly a few times during it, okay?

Also excited that The Five (ish) Doctors Reboot is on there. All kinds of fun.

And clearly I need to go binge watch the first season of Orphan Black.

Best Editor (Short and Long Forms):
Super excited to see Ellen Datlow and Ginjer Buchanan on there. I believe if you got a peek at my paperwork, Ginjer is my acquiring editor for Night Owls. Soon, ducklings, soon, I hope to see my editor Rebecca Brewer on this list. Like Mur Lafferty says here, I’d love to see some Orbit editors on this list, too. I fully admit my I-work-for-them bias, but they have published some of my favorite books since their inception, and I hope their hard work will be recognized.

Best Professional Artist:
/squee for Galen Dara, who does the art for Fireside Magazine.

Best Semiprozine, Fanzine, Fancast, and Fan Artist:
Not a lot of commentary on these ones yet. I’m familiar with the semipros on there, and a few of the fanzines. Greg is the podcast listener in our house. Research, research, research, and looking at art!

Best Fan Writer:
This list, you guys, this list! All the /happydances for the nominees. It’s going to be a damned tough choice. If you’re not familiar with the people listed here, you’re missing out.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer:
As is always mentioned, not a Hugo, but presented at the Hugo Awards. I am, again, in a state of “Have heard these names but haven’t yet read their work.” I’ll be fixing that.

I’m disappointed to say there is controversy on this list, and frustrated that attention to it put a damper on what should have been a day of much rejoicing for many of the nominees. While part of me wants to call no further attention to it, and refuse to give the people who pulled the shenanigans the satisfaction, eh. If you don’t speak up and speak out, nothing changes, right?

The short version is, two authors on the list suggested their fans vote for the works they suggested (including other writers in addition to themselves), mainly to piss off the people in SF/F and fandom calling for more diversity in the genre. Bigger round-ups at File 770 and Radish Reviews, complete with fans of the two jumping into the comments at Radish Reviews and being… ornery.

First, go ahead and read (Hugo-nominated!) Kameron Hurley, John Scalzi (two posts), and Jim Hines on the matter. Okay? Okay.

I don’t have a problem with writers stating “Here are my eligible works.” In fact, I want to see those lists. I also appreciate the people who open up their own spaces for readers and fans to recommend their favorites. You get exposed to a lot of good new work that way. Next year, you can damned well bet I’ll have a post up stating I’m Campbell-eligible.

There is a huge difference between I made something I think is amazing, and hope you will think is worth voting for and vote for me so we can stick it to the people we disagree with. Vote for the works you read/watched/enjoyed because you like them and think they’re worth an award. Not because you want to piss off the libruls or “make heads explode” or whatever.

Rebuttals seem to be along the lines of golly-gee-gosh, we’re only doing what Scalzi and co did, which is disingenuous at best. People are smarter than that, and see right through it. It’s petty and petulant, and for the writers who orchestrated it, it’s downright unprofessional. I’ll still read their work as it arrives in the Hugo Voter Packet, and judge accordingly, but I feel rather disinclined to reward bad behavior. YMMV.

So, there we go. 2014 Hugo reaction post, DONE. Onward and upward!

Not that I expect much commentary on this post, but just in case, I think this recent strip from (Hugo-nominated!) XKCD about sums up my moderation policy:


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Stretch Goooooooal!

Remember that awesomesauce Kickstarter I mentioned earlier, Storium?

It can now be revealed that I’m writing a world for it!

Cats ‘n’ kittens, have a gander at the this stretch goal burst:

At $49,000…
SQUATCHTOWN — Walk the mean streets of a city where Bigfoot’s not a legend and private eyes just might be nine feet tall. Take a walk on the real wild side where big heat meets big feet, and human and sasquatch worlds collide. (By Richard Dansky, author of Vaporware and head Clancy writer for Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft.)
At $51,000…
DOWN AND OUT IN THE KINGDOM OF COINS — Whether you’re registered agents of the High Guilds or illegal night marketeers wheeling and dealing under the noses of the powers that be, there’s only one rule in the Kingdom of Coins: murder, dark magic or new, weird blasphemies – anything sells. (By Adam Kobel, co-creator of the ENnie-winning Dungeon World.)
At $53,000…
THE HOLLOW — Quaint, remote Camden’s Hollow is famous for its abundance of ghosts and its hospitality for ghost hunters, but when you arrive for a weekend of orb-spotting, you find the town deserted … except for the restless dead. (By Lauren Roy, author of Night Owls.(That’s me omg)
At $55,000…
GOTHAM JAZZ — It’s the height of the Jazz Age. The height of Prohibition. Benjamin Franklin’s heirs — the Right Honorable Order of Thaumaturges — reign with their weird technology over an America gone strange, where masonry-domed city states hunker amid poisoned wastelands and munitions factories and beautiful women swill bootleg liquor in smoky speakeasies. (By Hugo and Sturgeon Award-winning author Elizabeth Bear.)

So, if you’ve been debating whether or not to be a backer, please consider reaching into your pocketses and giving Storium a try! At the $10 level, you get access to the beta, and can start playing instantly.

Meanwhile I’ll be over here, /fangirling at the other authors in whose company I find myself.

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The Measure of a Geek

Saw this Buzzfeed “What’s your Geek Number” quiz* making the rounds today, and I got a bit ranty about it on the twitterz. I’m porting those tweets over here, and expounding on them, because I figured it was time to stop spamming my followers. >.>

(*I’m loath to link to it, but eh. Go ahead and have a gander at the questions.)

From Twitter:

There’s a BuzzFeed quiz making the rounds about your “Geek Number.” And I get it, it’s a quiz on the internet, created for clicks. However.

It biases heavily toward comic book geekery, or “Have you seen ALL of X,” implying that if you haven’t, you’re not fan ENOUGH. If your favorite Doctor’s isn’t 1-8, it implies you’re not a REAL Doctor Who fan. And yet, most of the other fandoms it asks about are new. Sherlock! Supernatural! Harry Potter! So, becoming a fan of DW after the reboot is bad, but we’re ignoring other classic SF/F?

Also, questions asking geeks to wear some not-nice things as a badge of pride. Losing friends over canon arguments, skipping work for games. Oh, and several variations on “Do you judge people if they <do something that’s not geeky ENOUGH.>”

THIS IS PART OF WHERE THE FAKE GEEK GIRL THING STARTS. Measuring other people by how geeky they are/aren’t. Which is bullshit.

If you love a book, a movie, a fandom – from any decade – are passionate about it & want to share that with others, congrats, you’re a geek.

Even if you score a 1 on that ridiculous gorram quiz. We should be welcoming other fans, not telling them “You’re not fan ENOUGH.”

Right. So.

Part of what chapped my cheese is the idea that if you don’t consume a thing in its entirety, you’re not really a fan. Which, no. Look, I can binge-watch or binge-read with the best of them. But life happens. Other responsibilities take priority. Some times not only is there not enough time to devour a particular work from beginning to end, there’s also not always enough money.

The majority of the list is about more modern media. Which does not discount it, at all (you should see my DVR). But why doesn’t the older stuff count? The only things I’m seeing on here that’s pre-1980, at a second skimming, is the sneery jab at any Whovians unfamiliar with the show before Russell T. Davies picked it up and references to Dune, Lord of the Rings, and Star Trek: The Original Series. Geekery did not begin with GenX, dudes.

Where are some of the other new shows and books? Sleepy Hollow has an incredibly active fandom.  True Dective. Vikings. Teen Wolf. Where’s The Hunger Games and Divergent?

What about makery? Steampunk’s an obvious hole in the list. Knitting? I can’t tell you how many panels I’ve been to at cons where a sizable chunk of the audience gets out their needles. Couple references in there to fanart, but it’s more “Have you ever drawn your characters?” and ignores the artists on DeviantArt and tumblr who make a living off of their commissions.

And music. Oh my gooses, I just realized the quizmaker totally neglected filk.

Point is, there are so damned many ways to be a geek. We ought not make other people feel like they have to check off a certain number of boxes to “count.” If you love something and want to share it with others, you are a geek. Said my friend @fyriat:

YES. More geeks are a good thing.

If I can change directions slightly, there was something else about this quiz that left me feeling bitey: I sort of figured, when I saw the first 35 questions (39 if you count the 4 manga ones) were about comic books, this wasn’t going to go anywhere good. I checked a few of those boxes! But not, apparently, enough.

I’m annoyed at the sudden desire I had, when I read the text summing up my score that suggested I had a ways to go, to defend myself as a geek. Because y’know, as a woman, I don’t have to do that all the damned time anyway. I have written and deleted and rewritten and redeleted a line following this one laying out the ways I’m a geek, but you know what? No. Not this timebecause I can’t help but feel like doing so would undermine what I’ve said above:

If you are a fan of something you consider geeky then congrats, and welcome. You are a geek.

How about you share some of those things in comments? Introduce me to new stuff, or nerd out with me about stuff we both like. What’s your geeky passion?


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The Storium Kickstarter is Live!

So I’m not burying the lede: like the post title says, the Storium Kickstarter campaign is live, and nearly funded after less than a day.

Let’s talk about stories and storytelling.

If you’ve poked about the blog at all, you’ve probably figured out that I like writing stories and playing in them. I don’t ever remember a time I haven’t been immersed in fiction in one way or another.

If I’m going to pick up a video game, 99% of the time it’s going to be story-based. Are there NPCs I can talk to? What do they have to say? If I go back to the town after I’ve completed a quest, do they say something new? (You don’t want to know how long my Dragon Age playthrough took. Once I realized my party’s dialogue was ever-evolving, I was stopping every few minutes to get Alistair’s and Wynne’s input.)

The earliest stories I told were some form of fanfic inspired by whatever series had caught my imagination. When my grandmother watched me during the day, I’d wait until she fell asleep during her soaps and switch the channel over to Super Friends. In my head canon, Green Lantern and I were BFFs, and Wonder Woman would come pick me up in her invisible plane and we’d go off and have adventures. A few years later, when our moms inevitably told us to shut off the Nintendo and go outside, we continued our Super Mario Bros. adventures on our own. Our backyards became the Mushroom Kingdom.

In college, I discovered tabletop roleplaying games. Time was, we were playing three times a week or more, as long as our GM had a chance to get some plotting in. We’re down to once a week now, because of jobs and that whole getting older thing. Once, I could game until 2 am, go to class, go to work, game again, and keep functioning enough to sustain a 4.0. Nowadays, not so much. But that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about those stories during the week. We’ll come back to this point, so remember it. There’ll be a quiz later.

Because I need to talk about MMORPGs, too. I play on a roleplaying server in World of Warcraft. We have a thriving community, and we’ve been telling stories with one another for the better part of a decade now. We’re scattered across not only the country, but the world. It can be hard enough for this east coaster to stay up and RP with the west coast crew, knowing there’s story happening while I really ought to go the hell to bed. Our Aussie contingent (<3 Nat and Sam) are on the flip side of the diurnal from us, half a day into the future.

Hectic schedules, real life obligations, and writing deadlines mean that sometimes, our game night gets postponed a week. Or all of the above plus time zone shifts means trying to catch a guildmate for RP can be tough. We look for other ways to keep telling the story when we’re not logged in: RP by email, in-character gtalk sessions, collaborative writing on gdocs. A few people on our server have created a whole website where the community can go and interact and keep our plots moving along (shameless Feathermap plug!)

And right now, up and running, and maybe even rolling towards being funded on the first day, is the kickstarter for Storium, which is a shiny new online storytelling game. You pick a world or create your own, create your characters, and get the story moving. Time zone conflicts? Can’t get together in person to play with your favorite people? SOLVED. Storium lets your group play on their own timetable. Maybe you’re all online and the story’s flowing quickly. Maybe you add a scene during your commute, your friend replies during her lunch hour, and your Antipodean player joins in while you’re getting your beauty rest.

And look at the sandboxes you get to play in!

Right now, there are genre settings for you to dip your toes into: cyberpunk, urban fantasy, epic fantasy, horror, medical drama. When it launches, the Storium team have brought in an incredible cast of writers to create new worlds: Delilah S. Dawson, Stephen Blackmoore, Karin Lowachee are you fangirling yet? Because the stretch goals give you MOAR WORLDS to play in, including ones designed by Saladin Ahmed, Mur Lafferty, Andrea Phillips, and Leonard Balsera. AND there are hints at more stretch goals (and stretch worlds!) to come. /kermitflail

If your heart’s not already going pitter-pat enough, Storium founders Stephen Hood and Josh Whiting brought in some of my favorite people in gaming, publishing, and transmedia to be on their team: Will Hindmarch, Chuck Wendig, Mur Lafferty, and J.C. Hutchins. Seriously, look at that list of awesome people omg. Which means Storium is in excellent hands.

I’m super excited about this kickstarter, you guys. Let’s get it funded! Let’s get it beyond funded and open up ALL THE WORLDS.


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Fireside Year 3

The Fireside Magazine Year 3 kickstarter is in the home stretch. Less than a day to go to fund another year of fiction from a lineup of amazing authors.

My first short fiction sale at a professional pay rate was to Fireside.* They pay 12.5 cents per word, which is just over twice the pro rate established by Science Fiction Writers of America. That’s a pretty big thing for a short fiction market these days. Figure a 1000-word piece of flash fiction earns the writer $125. In this endless fimbulwinter we’re having, that’s a significant chunk of my heating bill for the month.

This is actually a significant point, so I’m going to stick on it a bit longer. A lot of markets pay lower-than-pro rates, and suggest that exposure is payment itself. The first thing I look at when I come across a new venue is their submissions page. Far too often I see variations on “We can’t afford to pay our authors right now, but hope to be able to in the future!” And, just, no. (Writers respecting their own craft is a whole other post, so I’ll resist the digression.) The point is, Fireside could offer semi-pro rates and call it good. They could offer the minimum pro rate and call it good. But instead they’re paying their writers above and beyond. That’s pretty damned awesome.

Also important: the Fireside lineup isn’t only straight white dudes telling stories about (and for) straight white dudes. The list of contributors is diverse, as are the stories and art. It doesn’t take a lot of googling to see that that’s something writers and readers alike are clamoring for.

You get a lot of story for a little money. Each issue is $2 through the Kickstarter. $2 for an installment of Lilith Saintcrow’s serial fiction, set in the world of her issue 9 story “Maternal Type,” plus another short story, two pieces of flash fiction, and Galen Dara’s art. That’s less than the cost of a medium coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, and is certainly less than the same at Starbucks.

I also recognize that, in this economy, and with heating bills extending into ridiculosity due to polar vortices, even $2 might be hard to come by. If that’s the case, and you can’t contribute, maybe consider boosting the signal on the social media platform of your choice?

As of this writing, the project has a little over $5500 left to raise in the next 16 hours. It’s doable, but kind of a nail biter. Let’s get ‘em funded, shall we?

*The story, “Ex Astris, is here, in Issue 9, if you have a couple of dollars burning a hole in your pocket. It has been pointed out to me that Issue 9 is free until tomorrow so readers can get a taste of “Maternal Type,” next years serial fiction setting! So if you were fixing to buy the issue, you can take those couple bucks and send ‘em to the kickstarter instead! Win!

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They’re Still Letting Me Talk on the Internets

Last week of the blog tour, cats ‘n’ kittens! If you haven’t had your fill of me, here are the upcoming Q&As, interviews, and giveaways for this week:

3/10 – SciFi ChickQ&A/giveaway
3/11 – Bea’s Book NookQ&A
3/12 – Bookworm BluesReview/giveaway
3/13 – BibliosanctumReview
3/14 – Parajunkee – Review/giveaway

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. I’m still not super-used to being the center of attention, but last week was sales conference, which meant seeing many of my colleagues for the first time since pub day. So many people wished me well and congratulated me, and I received good advice about being, y’know, more assertive and less shy about asking for things from people who are happy to help me out. I signed more than a few copies. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the people I work with.

I also learned that Night Owls was #26 on Barnes & Nobles science fiction/fantasy bestseller list the week it released. Not too shabby for a debut author.

Onward into edits for book two!

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One Week On

Night Owls has been out for a week today. I’ve done the nervous new author things, including checking reviews (they’ve been good!) and wandering into a bookstore, looking at the book, and forgetting to offer to sign the stock. I’m off travelling for work this week, and my coworkers have been bringing me copies to sign, which is humbling and amazing.

More when I’m home and have a chance to catch my breath.

The blog tour continues! Surf on over to these sites for reviews, interviews, and giveaways this week:

3/3: Literal AddictionReview and Q&A
3/4: Yummy Men and Kickass ChicksReview
3/5: A Book ObsessionReview
3/6: On Starships & DragonwingsReview, giveaway
3/7: I Smell SheepReview

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Release Day!

Night Owls cover

It’s here, it’s here, it’s here!

Night Owls officially releases today.

One of my booksellers and I were discussing how weird publishing-time is. You see books months ahead of pub, so once they’re actually out on the shelves there’s this moment of hasn’t this been out forever? It hasn’t, of course, and now comes the part where other people get to read and enjoy and share your enthusiasm.

Today is a bit like that for me. This book has been in the works for me for a long time. I’ve gone through all the writing and rewriting, edits and copyedits. I’ve ticked off the milestones I’ve learned are part of the life of a book before it hits the shelves: cover reveal, appearance in the publisher’s catalog, the book feeding out to online bookstores, ARCs, early reviews.

So in a way, I feel like Night Owls has already been out forever.

Same time, it’s utterly surreal that this day is here. Wasn’t it just yesterday the offer came in? Didn’t I only finish writing it last week?

Like I said, time gets weird in publishing. I’m off to boggle at February 25th finally arriving, or having been here all along. If you see Night Owls out in the wild, post or tweet me a picture? And if you read it and dig it, spread the word?


Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

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