swan_tower: (Default)

Those of you who were at Borderlands on Saturday already heard this; now I reveal it to the rest of the world.

Many people have pleaded for the Memoirs of Lady Trent to continue. I have always responded by saying the series was planned to be five books from the start, that I had a set arc in mind that I wanted to tell, and that having brought that to a close, I am done.

That’s still true.

. . . but it doesn’t preclude other stories in that world.

I don’t have a good working title for this yet, but my next novel will be the story of Isabella’s granddaughter, rapacious private art collectors, black market antiquities smugglers, and the translation of a lost epic from the Draconean civilization. The book will be structured like a mosaic novel, interspersing segments of the epic with the lives of the people translating it, as recorded in diary entries, letters, newspaper articles, and more. So it will once again have the intellectual rigor of Lady Trent’s memoirs (this time aimed in a predominantly linguistic direction), the pulpy adventure of its time period (the antiquities market is a lot more colorful than you might think), and the meta-textual setup that lets the heroine’s voice come through so clearly. Plus, the epic will let me put on my folklorist hat with full panoply of ribbons and bells and run cackling down the streets make good use of my folklore background: my research right now consists of reading or re-reading the Mahabharata, Epic of Gilgamesh, Popol Vuh, and more.

This idea is literally less than two months old. At the Tucson Festival of Books in early March, someone asked me a question about other books set in the world of the Memoirs, and inspiration mugged me out of nowhere. Over the next couple of days it morphed around a bit until it arrived in this form, at which point I pitched it to my editor, saying, “I really think this is what I ought to be doing next.” She agreed, so here we are: setting a personal record for shortest time elapsed from “huh, there’s an idea” to “okay, let’s do this!”

So now you know. And now I need to go read the world’s collection of epics to gather material. 😀

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

swan_tower: (Default)

The set of cover images, that is:

Wraparound cover for WITHIN THE SANCTUARY OF WINGS

To complete the set of actual books, you will have to wait a while longer — until April of next year, to be precise. But I’m about to send the manuscript off to be copy-edited, so I promise, I’m working as fast as I can!

My profound thanks to Todd Lockwood for an absolutely stunning artwork. I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: his art in the Draconomicon was one of the things that inspired this series, and to have his work gracing the covers and pages of this series has been an honor. Tongue only a little bit in cheek, I pity my next cover artist: not only is Todd absolutely fantastic, but he and Irene Gallo (Tor’s art director) have done an absolutely stunning job of putting together the entire look of these covers, with a clean and instantly recognizable design that leaves room for enough variation to keep the volumes from all looking alike. It’s a home run on all fronts, and you can’t expect to get that with every book and every series. I am profoundly grateful to have gotten it even once.

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

There are certain kinds of transition scenes I detest writing. One of them is the “holy shit, the supernatural is real!” scene common to so much urban fantasy; it was a source of great pleasure to me that I could more or less skip that scene in Midnight Never Come, on the grounds that the reaction of a sixteenth-century gentleman would not so much be “there are faeries under London?” as “there are faeries under London?” (You’ll note that nearly every pov character for the remainder of the Onyx Court series already knew about the fae by the time they showed up in the story. This was not deliberate, in the sense of being a thing I consciously decided to do . . . but I wouldn’t call it an accident, either. The sole exception that leaps to mind is Jack Ellin, and I had more than enough going on in the story to divert him, and me, while that transition happened.) It’s boring to me because the audience already knows the supernatural is real (or at the very least has no reason to be surprised by this fact), and we’ve seen that conversation so many times, making it fresh is really difficult. Your main hope is to undermine it in some fashion, like the time on Buffy when they told Oz vampires and demons were real. “I know it’s a lot to take in –” “Actually, that explains a lot.”

I’m dealing with a similar kind of thing in the fifth Memoir right now. The scene isn’t about the supernatural being real; it’s a different kind of transition, one I don’t really have a name for. And of course I can’t get into specifics, but it’s one of those deals where something very complicated is going on, only the complication is of a type that doesn’t actually make for great narrative. After the initial drama of the moment is over, there’s a lot of explaining that needs to happen, and a lot of very tedious suspicion that can’t be laid to rest with the right words or a single decisive action. Inside the story, the whole thing is going to drag on for days — probably for weeks. Making the reader sit through all of that would be dire, starting with the fact that I would have to write all of that.

It’s at moments like these when I love the retrospective, consciously-framed first person viewpoint of this series. Because I can 100% get away with Isabella saying “what followed was very tedious and dragged on for weeks, because there was nothing I could do that would resolve it with a single decisive action. But X, Y, and Z got settled — not without a great deal of wrangling and suspicion, but settled all the same, and now let’s move on to the next interesting bit.” Any viewpoint can skip over things, but this one gives me greater latitude to summarize what I’m skipping, without making it seem like the elided material is simple to deal with in real life. Isabella can acknowledge all the complications without getting bogged down in them.

I had no idea, when I started writing this series, all the advantages that would come with framing the entire thing as a series of memoirs. It just seemed like a period- and subject-appropriate way to approach the whole thing. But my god . . . it’s probably the best craft decision I’ve made all series long.

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

The illustrated Lies and Prophecy is now on sale!

“What’s that?” I hear you say. “Illustrated? When did that happen?”

Well, today. (Obviously.) But, to back up a little, it happened during the Kickstarter for Chains and Memory — one of my stretch goals was illustrations for Lies and Prophecy. The Memoirs of Lady Trent have spoiled me, you see; now I feel like all my books ought to have pictures. :-P Ergo, the first book of the Wilders series now has six images, drawn by the talented Avery Liell-Kok. Here’s one, to whet your appetite:

Athame

You can get this edition now, from a whole swath of retailers: Book View Cafe, Kobo, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, and Amazon UK. (Also other Amazon outlets, but if I list every country individually we’ll be here all day.) Barnes and Noble will be up and running in short order.

And for those who have been wondering, Chains and Memory will be out on January 5th. You can preorder that one from many outlets right now!

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

. . . or any other time of year, actually. I’ll be adding this information to my website soon.

If you would like a book signed by me, you can get one! All you have to do is contact Borderlands Books by phone (toll free 888-893-4008) or email (office at borderlands-books dot com). They’ll make the arrangements with you — which book(s) you want, whether they should be personalized to a certain recipient, etc — and then notify me to come by and sign. If you want the books by a particular date, you have to order them AT LEAST two weeks in advance, in order to give me time to arrange the signing visit and them to ship the books to you. (Going to Borderlands is a multi-hour enterprise for me, so I can’t do it at the drop of a hat.)

It’s as simple as that!

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

swan_tower: (Default)

1) I sold a short story! “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review will be up at Tor.com some time next spring. As the title suggests, this is a Lady Trent story — the one I wrote while on tour this past May, in fact, and some of you may have heard me read it at BayCon.

2) I sold another short story! Continuing my unbroken streak, I will have a piece in the fifth Clockwork Phoenix anthology: “The Mirror-City,” which takes place in a Venice-like setting. Did I come up with it while in Venice? Nope; the idea is years old, and deadlines meant I actually had to write and submit the thing before I ever left for the real place. :-)

3) If you prefer to get your novels in audiobook form, you’re in luck: Warrior and Witch are both now available on Audible. With shiny new covers, no less!

And with that, I’m off to World Fantasy tomorrow. See some of you there!

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

I’m delighted to announce that Titan Books, publishers of the Memoirs of Lady Trent in the UK, will also be bringing the Onyx Court to its homeland!

Long-time readers may recall that the first two books of the series were published there by Orbit UK back in the day, but the mid-series publisher shift meant the latter two never saw UK shelves. Titan have picked up the entire series and, as you can see from the above, are reissuing them with splendid new covers — not to mention UK spelling and date formatting, like God and the Queen intended. ;-) My understanding is that they’ll be coming out in rapid succession, on a three-month cycle, so by early 2017 you’ll have the whole set. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to hold ’em in my hands!

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

Done.

Aug. 14th, 2015 01:01 am
swan_tower: (*writing)

I have finished my eighteenth (!) novel. Final tally, for those who have been following the dance of the yo-yo: 56,583 words, which means it ultimately fell about 3.5K short of goal. It will need some expansion during the revision stage, but that’s okay.

Yes, that wordcount is closer to the YA range than the adult range. More news on this front when I have any to report — but don’t hold your breath.

Now, I go to sleep.

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

As some of you know or have guessed, I’m writing a book on spec this summer — a Sekrit Projekt. It’s going pretty well, though right now I’m kind of wondering if I can fit the remaining plot into my remaining projected wordcount.

Earlier today, I was freaking out a bit because I didn’t have remotely enough plot to fill out the wordcount, and the book was going to run short.

Now, if you’re a normal person, you probably assume this means I thought up some additional plot in between then and now. You would be wrong. Before I freaked out about insufficient plot, I was convinced I had too much plot. And before that, I knew I didn’t have enough, not by a long shot. Because I’m at That Stage of the process: the Traditional Mid-Book Yo-Yo.

It happens every time. This is the seventeenth novel I’ve written, and so I know quite well that because I am not the sort of person who outlines rigorously, I have to eyeball the amount of material necessary to get from where I am to the target length. (The only time I can think of when this didn’t happen to me was with In Ashes Lie. I knew a quarter of the way into that book that there was no way in hell it would fit into 110K: I emailed my editor, and she gave me permission to run over, so long as I warned her if it was headed north of 180K. So that one didn’t have a target; it was as long as it needed to be, which turned out to be 143K.) As I draw near, I have to keep checking in with my brain and gauging whether any adjustments are necessary. And I’m constantly changing my mind.

But at least I know that. Which means I can take the yo-yo in stride, trusting that I’ll be able to tell if I’m really going to miss my mark in either direction. And since this book is a spec project, it isn’t the end of the world if I do miss: the worst that happens is I have to look for ways to flesh the book out during revision, or I don’t manage to complete it before my self-imposed deadline. Either of which is fine, if annoying.

I think I’ll be in the target range, though. I usually manage.

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

There’s a certain margin of error in this, because the word counts I record are for final drafts (when I remember to go back and update them from the original number), and sometimes final drafts don’t happen in the same calendar year as first drafts. But I just crunched the numbers, and while last year was my worst for short fiction* since I started actually writing short fiction — only 7700 words in two stories, one of which is a Bad Draft that needs a complete rewrite — it was my best year for total wordcount since 2001 . . . which was, not coincidentally, the last time I wrote two novels in one year. (I also wrote ten short stories that year. It was not long after I figured out how to write them, and I was on a roll.)

I like crunching these numbers occasionally because it puts things in perspective. My default tendency would be to mope and castigate myself for not writing more short stories in 2014; ergo, it is useful to be able to look at the number 192,700 and tell myself that no, actually, that was a pretty good year. I will never be one of those people who cranks out half a million words a year: trying would kill both my hands and my brain. But that’s two full-length novels and some short fiction. It ain’t bad.

. . . of course, it also makes me ambitious to top both of those metrics this year. I’ve already written two pieces of short fiction, so it’ll only take one more to cross that threshold. And with one of those “short” pieces being a novella, and a novel already under my belt with another one planned for this summer, I might actually make it. Depends on how long this second novel turns out to be . . . .

*not counting fanfiction

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

I have this novella I’m trying to title, and the search . . . isn’t going well.

In the course of hunting for a suitable title, I’ve been thinking about the structure of such things. And, of course, having thought about that, the next thing to do is look at my own ouevre and investigate what sorts of patterns I use more or less frequently.

(What? I may not be a biologist, but Isabella gets her scientific turn of mind from somewhere. Also, procrastination.)

The material below the cut is a breakdown of every title I’ve put on a piece of fiction — and in one case, a piece of nonfiction — since I produced my first piece of theoretically professional work, leaving out those where the title was not wholly up to me. (Mostly pieces that amount to work-for-hire.) I’ve included unpublished works and fanfiction in the mix, since that expands the data set by quite a bit, but not titles that ended up being discarded along the way.

Data below the cut )

***

Despite my general allergy to the “Noun of Noun” structure (which I consider to be the most overused thing in fantasy), it’s hanging in there in second place. Ah well: at least I do what I can to liven it up, either by complicating the structure, or by picking unusual components to plug into it. I’m also somewhat started to find that I’ve got that many simple “Noun” titles; I would not have guessed it was so common in my work. I’m not surprised to find “Adjective Noun” leading the pack, though. When I first learned to write short stories, there was a stretch of time where pretty much everything I wrote had a title in that format, until I kicked myself into thinking up other possibilities. On the flip side, I’ve made remarkably little use of the “Noun’s Noun” format, which most of the time is just “Noun of Noun” doing a do-si-do.

The two I find particularly noteworthy are the “Phrase/Quotation” catch-all category, and “X Prep X.” I hadn’t realized I used the latter so frequently, though I knew it was a structure I liked. As for the former, the Onyx Court novels and stories notwithstanding, a lot of the examples there are from fanfiction. That suggests I feel more freedom to play around with fanfic, as opposed to my professional work. Given that back in 2005, a part of me was concerned that “Nine Sketches, in Charcoal and Blood” was too overwrought to use, I suspect I could stand to loosen up more with my titles in general — though maybe not to the extent of the “Ridiculous” category. ;-)

(Actually, that’s exactly the kind of thing I want to do with this novella title. The problem is, my brain has latched onto “In Your Heart Shall Burn,” which would be perfect except for the fact that it’s the name of a main plot quest in Dragon Age: Inquisition.)

Does this get me any closer to having a title for the novella? Nope. But it’s interesting to look at anyway. I’d be curious to hear what patterns exist in other people’s work, and what titles — of your work or others’ — you find particularly striking.

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

swan_tower: cover detail from Voyage of the Basilisk (Voyage of the Basilisk)

Lady-Victorian

Because Mary Robinette Kowal is a mad genius, one of the stops on our book tour was the Oregon Regency Society’s Topsails and Tea event. And of course, if you’re going to go on a tall ship . . . you’re going to do it in costume, right? (Here’s another shot that shows more of the ship.)

In fact, I got to go on board twice. After our reading and signing on Saturday afternoon, we partook of the Evening Sail, during which I may have pretended I was Lady Trent on my way to see dragons. >_> And then before we left for Portland on Sunday, we decided to go back for the Battle Sail.

And, well. I had this other costume sitting around my closet, left over from a one-shot LARP, that I’d thought I would never have an excuse to wear again . . . .

Lady-Lieutenant

Yeah, I hauled a naval lieutenant’s uniform — bicorn and all — to Oregon, just so I could wear it on board a tall ship while there were guns firing. :-D

There’s another twist to this story, too. I didn’t realize, before I got to Oregon, that the ships involved in the Topsails and Tea event were from the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority: the Hawaiian Chieftain and the Lady Washington. Many of you may know the Lady as the Interceptor from Pirates of the Caribbean; some of you may have heard me rave about their “Two Weeks Before the Mast” program, where for a remarkably small fee and a fortnight of your life, you can volunteer on board and learn to sail. I’m intending to do that next year, as research for the book I’ll be writing after the Memoirs of Lady Trent are done, so this was a little foretaste of what’s to come. Between that and the fact that I was in uniform, I really felt like I ought to be doing more than standing around . . . .

Lady-Line

Yep, they’ll let you pull on a line or two if you ask nicely. ^_^ But really, this is what I’m looking forward to:

Lady-Aloft

Next year, my friends. Next year.

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

swan_tower: cover detail from Voyage of the Basilisk (Voyage of the Basilisk)

So these showed up at my house last night . . .

finished copies of Voyage of the Basilisk

The production folks at Tor continue to knock it out of the park: deckled edges, three-piece case (in this instance, lavender and deep violet), even dark blue ink for the text. I think my other novels are starting to get an inferiority complex, sitting on the shelf next to these beauties. :-D

One week to street date — I can’t wait!

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

Draft!

Feb. 13th, 2015 04:37 pm
swan_tower: (*writing)

Ladies, gentlemen, and those who for reasons of gender or misbehavior count themselves as neither, I am exceedingly pleased to announce that I have a finished draft of the fourth Memoir of Lady Trent, at 88,748 words.

(What’s the title? You’ll have to wait to find that out until after Voyage of the Basilisk has been released. Because I’m mean that way.)

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

It’s that time of year, when authors round up what they did in the previous year for your consideration in awards.

Novel-wise, I had The Tropic of Serpents, the second of the Memoirs of Lady Trent. It made NPR’s “best of” list, in three different categories: Science Fiction Fantasy, Science and Society, and It’s All Geek to Me. The third book in the series is coming out in March — which is irrelevant to awards for 2014, but may be of interest to you all in other respects. :-)

Short fiction, I had four pieces:

“Mad Maudlin on Tor.com (read it online)

“Centuries of Kings” in Neverland’s Library, ed. Rebecca Lovatt and Roger Bellini

“Daughter of Necessity on Tor.com (read it online)

“The Damnation of St. Teresa of Avila” in Shared Nightmares, ed. Steve Diamond

The latter three are short stories, while the first one is a novelette, as such things get counted.

I also published Monstrous Beauty, but that’s a reprint collection of previously published work, so it isn’t eligible for anything that I’m aware of.

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

swan_tower: (Default)

On December 8th, 2004, I sold my first book.

I tend to think of myself as having sold it on November 2nd, which is when I came home to find a message on my answering machine (we still had answering machines back then; it was the Stone Age) from the editor I’d submitted Doppelganger to, asking me to call her back. In reality, that was the moment at which I moved from “maybe someday I’ll sell a book” to “I am going to sell this book, and soon.” But I didn’t have an agent, and Warner Books didn’t buy unagented manuscripts — I’d kind of sneaked Doppelganger in the back door — so the phone call was basically to tell me I should go find an agent, pronto. Which I did: I officially signed on with one November 16th. But the deal wasn’t official until December 8th, ten years ago today.

In the interim, things have gone pretty damn well. I have nine novels out there, and two more within the next year. My books have been translated into several foreign languages. I’ve gotten a World Fantasy Award nomination. I’ve experienced my share of the vagaries in this line of work, but on the whole, I feel confident in calling my career a success. Heck, Doppelganger and its sequel are still in print! That isn’t likely to still be true ten years from their publication — it took about a year and a half to see the first one on the shelf, so the anniversary of that would be April 2016 — but they’ve trucked along in a manner that I will, channeling my Scandosotan ancestors, call “quite respectable.” Everybody tells you to expect your first book to sink like a rock; having mine still out there eight and a half years on is pretty darn pleasing.

In celebration of this day, please tell me what your favorite book is (or favorite author, if picking a single title is impossible), and why!

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

swan_tower: (greenie)

Do not end your day’s work with a line like this:

Lord Rossmere was not speaking to inform us, though; all that was prelude to his next statement.

Because when you come back to the text, you will not remember what that next statement was supposed to be. (Possibly I never knew, and that was just me reminding myself to justify the “as you know, Bob” dialogue that precedes it. I haven’t worked on this bit since before my NY/DC trip, so I really don’t recall.)

On the other hand, I am pleased with this line:

I did not say to him that I had kept the information secret precisely to avoid our current situation. First, because it was only true in part; and second, because Tom was stepping firmly on my foot.

Would you believe that Tom was originally a throwaway character invented solely because somebody like Lord Hilford wouldn’t travel alone? The stuff about his working-class origins came later, so that he and Isabella wouldn’t be nonentities to one another. And then I decided, almost on a whim, to have him become an actual colleague, at least to the extent of going to Bayembe with Isabella. Next thing I knew, he was a fixture of the story, and one of my favorite characters in the entire series.

It only looks like we plan this stuff. Half of it happens by accident.

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

It’s a short draft, and I already know what needs to be added in, both to fill it out to a better length and to mend a kind of gaping lack in the story. But that is what revision is for.

Right now, at 84,223 words, Chains and Memory is finished.

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

Got started again on Chains and Memory last night. I wasn’t sure I’d recovered enough brain yet (between jet lag and the anaesthesia, I’ve been half-zombified for days; I spent most of Saturday alternating half-hour naps with an hour or so of wakefulness), but I decided to put my butt in the chair and see what happened. What happened was 1K of words, so I got to pat myself on the back for that and declare that I am officially Back to Work.

Of course, one day of writing does not actually Back to Work make. It’s a nice start, though, and it was actually rather pleasant to feel like I’m starting to recover. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another 1K to crank out . . .

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

Some of you may have seen this excellent set of posts on the blog Generation Anthropocene, using details from George R.R. Martin’s novels to try and build a geological history of Westeros and Essos. It’s a fantabulous bit of geekery, marrying serious scientific know-how to one of the big challenges of writing speculative fiction, that task we refer to as “worldbuilding.”

I read those posts, grinned at the geekery — and then paused.

And clicked around a bit.

And sent an email.

A couple of months later, I am the proud owner of a tectonic map of Lady Trent’s world, along with extensive notes on the geology and climate of her planet. Mike Osborne and Miles Traer of Generation Anthropocene were kind enough to read through the first two Memoirs and take my description of the places that show up in #3, then help me work out the underpinnings of that world in greater detail than I had already. I’m pleased to say that my efforts on the climate front pretty much held up to their scrutiny; I don’t have any howling errors there. Figuring out the tectonics, though, gave me information I need for future maps, and provided a number of new considerations I’ll definitely be trying to work into the last two books.

I want to thank these guys publicly, because they have done yeoman work on my behalf. If this kind of nerdiness is your catnip, you should definitely check out the Generation Anthropocene site.

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

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