swan_tower: (*writing)

I’ve been archiving my papers with the Cushing Library at Texas A&M for several years now, but mostly that’s just meant copy-edited manuscripts and page proofs. I’m reluctant to let go of the boxes in which I keep the papers from each of my novels, because I’m never quite sure when I might need to consult them for some reason; mostly I don’t, but then a random occasion will crop up (e.g. “I need to scan that fight map I drew for Doppelganger so I can include it in Writing Fight Scenes“) and I’ll think, maybe I should hang onto these.

Then it occurred to me that I have about half a shelf of spiral-bound notebooks that I haven’t looked at in . . . more than a decade, certainly. Fifteen years, quite possibly. And those, I decided, are fair game.

But of course I can’t just ship those off to College Station without looking through them first.

Follow me, oh friends, down Juvenilia Lane!

This is like literary archaeology, trying to piece together from clues when the first of these notebooks dates to. Apparently at one point I went through and numbered them, and the early pages contain notes from a class on Native American mythology I took my freshman year of college — or do they? Did I do something else involving Native American mythology? Because that notebook also contains random spates of computer code, and I haven’t taken computer science since my junior year of high school; was I trying to write a program for something writing-related? I seem to recall having done that at one point, though I can’t remember what it was for (and the code itself is not enlightening me). The various snippets of story and notes thereon are no help; I was working on basically the same stuff my freshman year of college as at the end of high school.

Possible clue: I was apparently on a kick wherein I wrote some of those story notes in Spanish or Latin, which were the languages I studied in high school. It isn’t definitive; I might well have been trying to keep my hand in during my freshman year. But more significant is the fact that I don’t have any notes written in Japanese, which is what I studied when I got to college. (I even, god help me, have some bad English-language poetry written in dactylic hexameter. It’s clearly for a story, but the context has long since flown my head.) There are also random bits of Irish Gaelic, but most of those are clearly recognizable as song lyrics: I didn’t take Irish until my sophomore year of college, but prior to that was trying to translate lyrics using a dictionary and no comprehension of Irish grammar whatsoever.

I can watch myself working through the challenges of trying to file the serial numbers off a beloved fanfic idea, which definitely occupied a lot of my time in later high school; it was some time during my freshman year that I shelved it in the hopes that absence would make the heart grow more able to hack it apart as needed. But apparently at one point I decided to set one of the sub-stories from that idea in a Tarot-based world. I have no recollection of this. But it seems it was a thing!

. . . waitasecond. I’ve got half a page here of text from Lies and Prophecy. Half a page of text so old, Liesel is still called Lisa.

(Despite that, some of the sentences are unchanged from this notebook scribble to the finished product.)

IT’S A HIGH SCHOOL NOTEBOOK. I have found the smoking gun, and it comes in the form of my Beowulf notes. My senior year English teacher permitted us to annotate our copies of Beowulf with any information we thought might be useful to us on the test; I have a whole two page here where I was collating line citations for references to fighting, gift-giving, loyalty, Christian/pagan blending, the heroic ideal of excellence, and more. (I inherited three annotated copies of the text from my brother and other previous students to get me started; I still own my copy, and it is the most thoroughly annotated thing I think that teacher ever saw.)

Still don’t know why I was writing computer code in it, though. The early pages might be from my junior year (did we do a Native American mythology section in Theory of Knowledge? We must have), but there’s code in the middle of my Chaucer notes, which is definitely senior year.

And with one and a half lines that might have been me trying to conlang for one of my stories (it’s a cryptic description of the perfect passive participle, and then I didn’t get around to detailing the present participle), we finish out the first of my notebooks. Thank you all for accompanying me down Memory Lane. Stay tuned for further installments, probably, as I wade into notebooks from later in my pre-career!

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

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The title of this month’s tikkun olam post comes from something Marissa Lingen once said years ago, about the symbolism of the darkest time of the year (and the making of difficult but lovely cookies in that season). Seems apropos.

As promised, I’m posting an open thread on the first day of each month where people can talk about the things they’re doing to repair the world. Any good deed you have done recently, any charitable donation or volunteering of your time, any change you’ve made in your life so that you will be a better citizen of your society, please share it here. Anything you are intending to do in the coming months, tell us about it.

Nothing is too small. Don’t hold back on mentioning something because you’re embarrassed to mention something so trivial. We need every bit of light.

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

swan_tower: (gaming)

Last week’s Dice Tales post and this week’s: “The Magic of Wikis,” on the ability of a private wiki to serve as a record and organizing tool for a game, and “A Story in Song,” on game soundtracks.

Comment over there!

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

swan_tower: (Default)

No power on the ‘verse could compel me out into the Hunger Games maelstrom of Black Friday shopping, but the nice thing about the internet is that I can set this particular thing up from the comfort of my laptop. 🙂

I’ve got two new limited-time galleries up on my site: Black-and-White Architecture and Black-and-White Objects. (That counts as a winter theme, right?)

Two black and white photos side by side, one of arches, the other of a gondola ferro.

These will be on sale from now until January 1st. If you would like to order a print (they make lovely holiday gifts!), contact me. I can arrange pretty much any size you want, and possible media include paper, acrylic, metal, glass, canvas, and wood. The photos are also available for digital licensing.

Happy Holidays to you all, whichever aspect of them you choose to celebrate!

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

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I’m trying to get a more solid image of a character in my mind, which is not a thing I’m very good at; it goes better when I have a casting to look at and then verbalize. But I’ve had to cast a bunch of East Asian male characters lately (mostly for my L5R game), and my brain keeps going back to the same well of possibilities, which is starting to run a little dry. And so I turn to you, the internets, and ask: please share with me names and pictures of East Asian actors or other public figures you especially like! Looking for somebody roughly in their twenties or thirties, i.e. not babyfaced but still fairly young. No particular guidelines as to facial type or personality; I really don’t know what I want this guy to look like, which is why I need brainstorming fodder.

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

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It’s out!

cover for IN LONDON'S SHADOW: AN ONYX COURT OMNIBUS

For centuries a faerie court has lain hidden beneath London: a place of shadows and intrigue, where the city’s immortal inhabitants can watch and manipulate the mortals above. Through two royal dynasties, through rebellions and plots, through war and plague and fire, the Onyx Court endures.

Now the court’s first two centuries are collected in a single book. This omnibus contains the novels Midnight Never Come and In Ashes Lie, as well as the novella Deeds of Men, the novelette “And Blow Them at the Moon,” and the short story “Two Pretenders.”

You can buy this from fine e-tailers all over the internet, chief among them Book View Cafe, but also Amazon US or UK, Barnes and Noble/Nook, Google Play, iTunes, Kobo, or (for the Canadians among you) Indigo.

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

cover for IN LONDON'S SHADOW: AN ONYX COURT OMNIBUS

For centuries a faerie court has lain hidden beneath London: a place of shadows and intrigue, where the city’s immortal inhabitants can watch and manipulate the mortals above. Through two royal dynasties, through rebellions and plots, through war and plague and fire, the Onyx Court endures.

Now the court’s first two centuries are collected in a single book. This omnibus contains the novels Midnight Never Come and In Ashes Lie, as well as the novella Deeds of Men, the novelette “And Blow Them at the Moon,” and the short story “Two Pretenders.”

This is my latest (or rather, next) project with Book View Cafe: an omnibus of the first half of the Onyx Court series, short fiction as well as long. It will be out next Tuesday, at which point you’ll be able to obtain it from BVC or Barnes and Noble; right now you can pre-order it from Amazon (or Amazon UK), Google Play, iTunes, or Kobo.

And I have to be smug for just a moment . . . because that cover image? That’s a photo I took, when I was in Switzerland earlier this year. So hey, this particular hobby has a practical side!

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

swan_tower: (gaming)

If it weren’t for the fact that I had several already lined up and scheduled to go live, you probably wouldn’t have a Dice Tales post this week. But I did, so you do: “Ephemerality,” on the difficulty of recording the narrative text of the game, and what hoops you’d have to jump through if you tried.

Comment over there.

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

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More knowledgeable readers please correct me if I’m using this wrong, but I think the Jewish concept of tikkun olam may be the most succinct way of describing what I’m thinking about these days.

When I try to think about the situation of the world at large, I despair, because opportunities to make a large-scale difference don’t come along very often. We just had one; it went the wrong way. Many people have been saying we therefore need to look for other ways to improve the world, or at least to hold it together against the forces trying to crack it. Tikkun olam: repair of the world. Good deeds, acts of kindness, all the little ways we can each do our part, and maybe no single one of those things is that epic, but just because a good is small doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing.

For the foreseeable future, my intent is to make an open thread on the first of the month, inviting people to talk about the things they’ve done to repair the world and the things they intend to do. Anything good is worth mentioning: most of us can’t give a thousand dollars to an important charity every month (or even once), but helping your elderly neighbor with a strenuous bit of yardwork is more within reach. Donations, volunteering, even changes in your own life that aren’t so much about reaching out as about making yourself a better citizen of the world. I think it might be a comfort to read about the good things other people are doing, and maybe even an inspiration — “oh, huh, I never thought about doing X myself, but that’s a great idea” — plus, for myself at least, it’ll be a reminder to not just wish the world were in a better state, but to get off my duff and do something about it.

So consider this the first of those posts. My husband and I made two donations the other day, to the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council (we’re already members of the ACLU). I bought a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, not just as a public statement, and not just as a reminder to myself, but because the place I bought it from makes donations to some good charities. We also just had solar panels installed on our roof, doing our own itty-bitty part to move society toward renewable energy. In the upcoming weeks I’m intending to supply something to a local food drive and to ask around about volunteering for some kind of literacy or English proficiency program. Please use the comments on any iteration of this post to share your own efforts and to talk about what you might do going forward. Remember: nothing is too small. Anything you did to improve the world around you, I would be delighted to hear it.

Right now, we need those points of light in the darkness.

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

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I broke down crying last night.

Because I thought my country was better than this, and instead it proved itself to be worse. And it will go on getting worse, in ways big and small, because soon we will have a president and a legislature and a Supreme Court that do not care about the well-being of women or minorities or LGBTQ people or the environment or anything other than themselves, and because every small-minded reactionary bigot in the country has just had their bigotry validated on a nationwide scale. Because this is what the Republican Party has created, and the older generation who took a country that worked and systematically broke it, and the white citizens of the United States who fear the rest or else just don’t give enough of a damn — not every one of them, not without exception, but in the aggregate.

And I don’t know how to fix it. Because it can’t be fixed, not in any simple sense of the word. The best we can do is batten down the hatches, join hands with one another and achieve whatever good we can, however small. Not just for the next four years, but for a generation or more to come, because make no mistake: the damage from this will be lasting.

I don’t really know how we’re going to do that. Maybe tomorrow, or the day after that, I’ll be able to think about it.

Not today. Today, I don’t even know what to do with myself.

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

swan_tower: (gaming)

I kind of wanted to make a political post today, but I can’t get past my rage at the FBI’s interference well enough to say anything articulate, so I’ll just leave it at:

GO VOTE.

And then I’ll go back to trying to think about anything that isn’t politics, which right now means linking you to the latest Dice Tales post, “You Had to Be There.” Why do RPGs often make for such bad anecdotes? And what can make a gaming anecdote good? Find out (and comment) over there!

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

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For those of you in the general vicinity of Boston: I’ll be reading and signing at Pandemonium Books and Games in Central Square this upcoming Saturday at 7 p.m. I hope to see some of you there!

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

swan_tower: (gaming)

Last week’s Dice Tales post was “The Secret Life of Game Junkies,” discussing the ways that players keep the game going between sessions, but this week is something else: a call for reader requests. Dice Tales isn’t over, but it’s coming toward its end, so if there’s something you want to see me post about before it’s over, now’s your chance to say so!

As usual, comment over there.

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

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Pseudopod (Escape Artists’ horror-themed short fiction podcast) is running a Kickstarter to raise the funds to pay their narrators. I am not wholly a disinterested party in this, as I’ve narrated for them several times (without pay); but I will say that I wholeheartedly support the notion that the people who read you the stories in a podcast deserve to be paid for their work. They already compensate their authors well, so this is the next step, and I applaud them for taking it.

Also, don’t forget that you only have until the end of this month to purchase prints from my Autumn and Halloween galleries:

Paired photos of a single autumn leaf and an angel on a cross

You can get them in practically any medium (paper, acrylic, metal, canvas, glass, wood) and any size, or a digital license for use as book covers etc.

Finally, I’m over at Unbound Worlds talking about the most influential book I’ve ever read. You have to know the book in question or the things it’s based on to understand why it’s Halloween-themed, but trust me, it is.

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

Brainstorming time!

I’d like you all to tell me what objects you might, from a mythical standpoint, associate with the delineation of boundaries and borders. I’m looking specifically for objects that might be a personal possession; walls and fences are obvious boundary markers, as are rivers, but neither are really the sort of thing a person could carry around with them. A sword, on the other hand, being a thing that cuts, could be the thing that marks the division between Here and Not Here, whether by literally drawing a line in the dirt or just symbolically cleaving things apart.

Can you think of/make an argument for other personal-sized objects that might represent geographical boundaries?

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

swan_tower: (Default)

It’s been a bit of a stealth launch up ’til now, but: I am pleased to announce that you can buy both Lies and Prophecy and its sequel Chains and Memory in trade paperback, from the following retailers:

I owe this state of affairs to the hard work of Leah Cutter, without whom I would not have had the first clue how to go about creating a print edition, much less done this good a job with it. I highly recommend her to anyone in need of a POD formatter; she does fantastic work. She also runs workshops, if you want to learn how to do it yourself.

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

swan_tower: (Default)

This is something of a long shot, but let’s give it a try anyway.

unidentified bust in Oberammergau

The above picture is one my parents took in the Bavarian town of Oberammergau. My father uses it in a class he teaches, and I’m told that every time he does, somebody asks, “who’s that?” Who the statue depicts is irrelevant to the subject matter of the class, but people want to know anyway.

Problem is, my parents didn’t take a picture of the plaque below the statue (they didn’t expect it to be relevant), so they have no idea. Attempts to pop the shot into Google Image Search have helpfully informed them that it’s a picture of a statue; attempts to Google “bust in Oberammergau” and similar phrases have turned up nothing useful, even when attempted in German. So our last-ditch option is to post it here and see whether anybody can tell us who we’re looking at — possibly somebody equipped with more than Google Translate, who can conduct a more nuanced German-language search.

(No, they don’t remember where they were in Oberammergau when they took the picture, either. Otherwise I could attempt some magic with Google Street View.)

Any takers?

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

swan_tower: (Default)

Back in high school, my sister and I decided to respond to a friend’s tendency to call us “witches” by circling him in a swimming pool while reciting the entire cauldron scene from Macbeth.

(Yes, we were very strange. Still are, in fact.)

Anyway, as somebody who still has that entire scene memorized, I found this to be utter and satisfying genius: “Nasty Women Have Much Work to Do.”

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

swan_tower: (gaming)

Well, one corner of it, at least.

In addition to this week’s regularly scheduled post — “Game Hangover,” on the ways that playing in or running a game can leave you drained afterward — I also have a related post up on Tor.com. Though it isn’t explicitly labeled as a Dice Tales entry, “How Your Role-Playing Game Campaign Can Inspire Your Novel” is an outgrowth of that series; I got recruited to write this piece specifically because of Dice Tales. So if you’re interested, go take a look, and comment over there!

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

swan_tower: (Default)

In honor of the season, I’ve created two new limited-time galleries on my site: Autumn and Halloween.

Paired photos of a single autumn leaf and an angel on a cross

(There is a known glitch where sometimes the photos in a gallery will not display properly. If you see them stacked up on top of each other, reload and that should fix the problem.)

These galleries will only be available through the end of the month. If you would like to order a print of one or more of the photos, or to license them for commercial use, please contact me. I can make prints on paper, acrylic, metal, glass, canvas, or wood — pretty much any substance that doesn’t run away fast enough. 🙂 Sizes range from 4×6 up. For electronic use, I’m willing to do a small amount of image manipulation, e.g. cropping to a detail or darkening part of the shot so you can place text over it more readably.

A happy autumnal season to all! Except those of you in the southern hemisphere, to whom I wish a delightful spring.

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

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