swan_tower: (Default)
It's 5 p.m. somewhere, right?

A few days ago the Tome and Tankard blog posted their recipe for the "Lady Trent," a mojito-like cocktail inspired by the Memoirs of Lady Trent. Our first attempt at making it here at Swan Tower was not entirely successful; it turns out we need to be a lot more conscientious about mixing the honey into the gin before adding other things, lest we wind up with a glob of honey stuck all over with mint leaves. :-) But the general shape of the cocktail is a great deal like the "Jimi Hendrix" I asked the internet to help me recreate a while back, so even in less-than-entirely-successful form, I give this one an official thumbs-up.

And for those of you who cannot or do not wish to partake of the booze, I thought I could post the recipe a reader designed years ago for the launch party of A Star Shall Fall. It's called the Winged Serpent Philter, and it's made as follows:


  • Blueberry juice
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Lime
  • Lime infused sparkling water
  • Honey
  • Granulated Sugar


In a small bowl, mix two parts water and one part honey. Coat the blueberries (three or four per drink to be served) in the honey water mixture and immediately roll in granulated sugar. Allow to dry. Dip the rim of a martini glass in the honey water mixture and then into granulated sugar to coat the rim. Mix three parts blueberry juice to one part sparking water with a dash of lime juice (all liquids should be chilled). For a sweeter flavor, omit lime juice. Pour into the martini glass. Put three or four sugar coated blueberries on a garnish pick and hang on the rim of the glass. Add a curl of lime peel. Serve promptly.

Enjoy!
swan_tower: (natural history)
Back in July, I got an email from a reader in Sweden named Gillis Björk, saying they'd loved the Memoirs of Lady Trent so much, they were inspired to make a carved wooden slipcase for the series, and would I like to see pictures/a video of the crafting process.

WOULD I EVER.

In fact, having seen the slipcase . . . I sent Gillis an email, asking how much they would charge to make one for me.

Because seriously, the Memoirs are so damn pretty, with Todd Lockwood's cover art and the three-piece cases and the deckled edges and so forth. Didn't they deserve a good house to live in? It was a total self-indulgence, but I thought, hey, if Gillis was willing . . .

Behold the result! (Turn up the volume to hear the narration -- it's quite faint.)



It is even prettier than the original. We went for oak instead of beech, and Gillis got a lot more detailed with the carving of the dragons and so forth. At the end of the video you can see the slipcase on my shelf, with the books inside! And if you want to watch the making of the original version, that's here:



Complete with accidentally-decapitated dragon and guidelines for avoiding spontaneous combustion. :-) These videos make for a fascinating watch if you enjoy seeing crafters do their thing; since I know bugger-all about woodworking and carpentry, they were hugely educational to me. And my endless thanks to Gillis for the lovely result!
swan_tower: (natural history)

If you’re in the Bay Area, don’t forget: I’m reading at Borderlands Books tomorrow, at 3 p.m.! (On Independent Bookstore Day, no less.) And I will have some very special news to announce . . .

***

I think one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about writing the Memoirs of Lady Trent is the way it gave me a reason to shore up some of the gaps in my knowledge.

Take African history for example. If all you had to go on was my high school education, you’d think that it consisted of human evolution, Egypt, and the slave trade, with nothing in between. (Nothing after, either, but that wasn’t a regional bias; my history classes bogged down on the Civil War and Reconstruction, so that the twentieth century is as the void to me.) I had the vague osmotic sense that there had been a place called Songhay, and that was it.

I could have fixed that at any time. But I’m much more likely to pursue reading about a topic when I have an immediate use for it — something beyond “man, I really ought to know more about X.” It’s pretty well-documented that we learn things better in context, rather than in isolation, and a writing project gives me context. A globe-trotting protagonist was therefore ideal, because she dragged my thoughts in all kinds of new directions, laying the foundation for future exploration. (Solaike in the upcoming Lightning in the Blood draws a lot of its social structure from Dahomey; that probably wouldn’t have happened without The Tropic of Serpents first.)

Islam is another good example. In college I took classes on early Christianity (which also means you wind up learning a decent bit about Judaism) and Hinduism, and some of my Japanese history classes touched on Buddhism and to a lesser extent Shinto, but Islam? Terra incognita for me. Sending my characters to Akhia was the kick in the pants that I needed to read up on it, to make myself conversant with at least the basics. I could have read a Wikipedia article to learn the difference between Sunni and Shiite, but it was easier to retain details when I had a reason to devote dedicated work time to the question. I wouldn’t call myself deeply well-informed on Islam now, but at least I’m not flat ignorant anymore.

Thanks to this series, I know more about Polynesia and how you can locate a flyspeck of land in a thousand miles of empty sea. I know some of the dynamics behind and resulting from Tibetan polyandry. And as I said on the Tor/Forge blog, I’ve learned piles about different kinds of climates and how people live in them.

This is one of my favorite aspects of my job. It’s constantly giving me reasons to learn new things, and I feel richer as a result.

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

I’ve got a post up at Tor.com about what it feels like to say goodbye to Isabella, and there’s an interview with me at Goldilox. Continuing on from yesterday’s post (and this time basically sans spoilers), there’s someone else I’d like to talk about . . .

***

Tom Wilker is the best accidental character I’ve had in a while. Maybe ever.

What do I mean by “accidental”? I mean that I did not, at the outset, plan for him at all. I don’t think he was even in the first thirty thousand words I wrote, before I set the book aside for a few years; I think I added him in when I came back to the story, because I realized Lord Hilford would of course have some kind of assistant or protégé along for the Vystrani expedition. Jacob was too new of an acquaintance to occupy that role; therefore I invented Mr. Thomas Wilker.

Read the rest of this entry  )

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

swan_tower: (Default)

More than six years ago, in January of 2011, I sent my agent the pitch for the Memoirs of Lady Trent. It consisted of thirty thousand words from the first book and a document approximately three thousand words long describing the setting and the plots of the various novels. Because I am crap at outlining, while those latter synopses bear some resemblance to the final story, it’s very obvious in hindsight that I was just waving my hands in an attempt to make it look like I knew where was going . . . and nowhere is that clearer than in the figure of “Lord Trent,” i.e. Isabella’s husband.

Here there be spoilers. (Up through In the Labyrinth of Drakes, though I’d say the only really bad spoiler is for A Natural History of Dragons. If you haven’t yet read Within the Sanctuary of Wings, you’re in the clear.)

Read the rest of this entry  )

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

Jim Hines has been doing a thing on his blog where he genderswaps character descriptions to look at how women and men get depicted. He did it first with classic SF/F novels, then with more recent titles — including his own.

It’s an interesting enough exercise that I decided to go through my own books and see what happens when I genderswap the descriptions. Results are below. I skipped over the Doppelganger books because quite frankly, describing people has never been a thing I do a lot of, and back then I did basically none of it, so this starts with Midnight Never Come.

***

Read the rest of this entry � )

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

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Many thanks to everyone who has picked up items from the Great Swan Tower Moving Day Sale! It has been a great benefit to me, cleaning out the various boxes I keep my author copies in.

In the course of packing up, I found a stash of the US trade paperbacks of Voyage of the Basilisk squirreled away in a corner. (I’d been wondering where they’d gone.) So here’s an updated list of what’s available. Same drill applies: all you have to do is email me or leave a message here calling dibs on something and giving me your mailing address; I’ll respond to let you know whether it’s still available, and we’ll arrange payment. Shipping is included for orders within the U.S. Inscriptions on request.

You have one more week to order anything that strikes your fancy!

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

swan_tower: (Default)

First of all, my friend Mike Underwood’s Genrenauts Kickstarter campaign is already nearly funded, because I’ve been crazy busy in the last week and a half (house-buying drama; turned out okay, thank god), but you’ve still got eighteen days left to back it. This is the “Season One” collection of Genrenauts, comprising six novellas (two already published, four to come), plus a bunch of extras. If you’re not familiar with the series, it involves a group of highly-trained agents parachuting into alternate realities governed by the laws of different genres, seeking to right imbalances that threaten the stability of our own world. Basically, catnip for anybody who likes thinking about and playing around with the tropes of narrative — which of course is why Mike started writing them, and why you all should read them!

Second, I’ve put up two items for auction via Con or Bust, a nonprofit that helps fans of color attend conventions they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. The first is a signed hardcover of In the Labyrinth of Drakes, and the second is a 9-CD edition of the audiobook for A Natural History of Dragons, narrated by the amazing Kate Reading. It’s for a good cause, so please, bid high!

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

Woke up this morning to find out that Sylvie Denis’ translation of A Natural History of Dragons is a finalist for the Prix Imaginales, an award given out at the Imaginales festival in Épinal, France. I’m rubbing shoulders with Sofia Samatar again; as you may recall, her novel A Stranger in Olondria won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel the year ANHoD was nominated, and now Une histoire naturelle des dragons is up against Un étranger en Olondre. Congratulations also to Cat Valente, whose first Fairyland book is listed in the Youth category!

I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned this here or not, but: I’ll be at Imaginales this year, over what would be Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. and is just the last weekend in May for everybody else. Furthermore, since I’ll be going to all the trouble of crossing the continental U.S. and then the Atlantic Ocean, I’ll also be doing a signing at Forbidden Planet in London on June 2nd. In between those two things, it looks like I’ll have a couple of days to kill in Basel/Basle/Bâle, so if you know of interesting things to do there, do pass them along! It’ll be my very first time in Switzerland.

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

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The Worldbuilders fundraiser was set to end a day or so ago. But for reasons beyond my ken, it has been extended for a few days — which means Lady Trent’s Friends of Nepal is still going, too!

We’ve done really well so far, with the current total sitting pretty at $1,317. I would love to see that tick upward to the $1,500 mark before we’re done (the fundraiser is now scheduled to end in the middle of the U.S. night Friday/Saturday). A number of the books have sold out already, but there are still some available — and remember that you can always just donate, which puts you into the lottery for the same huge swath of prizes available to all Worldbuilders supporters! You get one “ticket” per $10 you donate.

All of this is for Nepal, to help them recover after this year’s earthquakes and push back against hunger and poverty. As of last night’s writing session, Isabella has just arrived in a poor mountain village that, to be honest, is not much different from the ones many Nepalese live in today, despite the ~150 years between her time and ours. Heifer works to change that, and the more we can support them, the better.

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

swan_tower: The Long Room library at Trinity College, Dublin (Long Room)

Somewhat delayed on account of World Fantasy.

The Great Zoo of China, Matthew Reilly. This book can basically be summarized as “Jurassic Park, with DRAGONS!” Which, y’know. Kind of put it squarely in my field of interest. And it was a moderately entertaining read — but I kept being thrown out of the story by the fact that the author seemed to be watching the movie he hopes they’ll make of his book, and writing it as if it were that movie. This means a pov that wanders around aimlessly between close third and a camera-eye omniscient (complete with lines like “if they could have seen the vehicle from the outside, they would have seen X”), and choppy little not-even-scenes that are the textual equivalent of rapid camera cuts. See our heroine clinging to the outside of the truck! See the driver of the truck stomp on the brakes in a three-line “scene”! Cut back to our heroine barely holding on as the truck skids to a halt! That kind of thing works in audiovisual media; in text, it just keeps yanking me away from any engagement with the characters. I appreciated the fact that the heroine is a facially scarred herpetologist who basically saves the day with her knowledge of crocodiles, but she never really came alive for me. Also, while I’m fine with the idea that Chinese bureaucrats and soldiers might do all kinds of underhanded shit in pursuit of building an enormous dragon zoo with which to impress the world, the story really could have used more in the way of sympathetic and competent Chinese characters to counterbalance the bureaucrats and soldiers. (Not to mention the fact that the dragons are apparently all Western-style, even though the story gives a relatively clever explanation for why dragons are a real worldwide phenomenon.) Overall, I’d say give this one a miss, unless you are absolutely dying to read Jurassic Park with dragons.

The Last Airbender: Zuko’s Story, Dave Roman and Alison Wilgus, art by Nina Matsumoto. Picked this one up because I met Alison Wilgus last World Fantasy and really enjoyed talking to her, and also because I’ve been reading various Avatar tie-in comics. This one feels thinner than the others simply because it’s filling in a minor hole from the show, rather than exploring new territory; it’s the tale of what happened with Zuko between the agni kai against his father and Aang turning up. So, while it’s well done, I didn’t engage with it quite as much as with the sequel comics. I should note, though, that it also includes a section at the back which compares the comic script to the rough sketches. If you’re interested in what a script looks like, and how the vision can change from the script to the roughs to the final version, it’s quite useful.

Murder Must Advertise, Dorothy Sayers. Still working my way slowly through the Wimsey novels. I came up with a much more convoluted answer to this one than turned out to be the reality, reading too much significance into a particular detail. Wimsey undercover was pretty cute, though I feel I might have done with just a bit less exploration of the advertising industry; his interactions with Dian Momerie were . . . interesting. Not entirely sure what I think of them, though once again, it gave me a chance to see just how big an influence Sayers must have been on Dunnett.

Violence: A Writer’s Guide, Second Edition, Rory Miller. Yoon Ha Lee recommended this one, and I second the rec. When I put together Writing Fight Scenes (which is part of the 2015 NaNoWriMo StoryBundle right now, plug plug), I was very aware that I don’t actually have any personal experience with being in a real fight. Miller won’t tell you anything about how to put a fight on the page, but he has personal experience in spades, and says a great many interesting things about what being in a fight is like, what kinds of violence people engage in, and how people experienced with violence tend to behave. The book does have its flaws: it could use better organization (especially since he repeats himself occasionally) and it’s mostly concerned with violence in a modern society like ours, making it less than 100% applicable to premodern fantasy societies. In fact, I feel Miller is at his weakest when he tries to talk about historical situations; at one point he basically declares that before about 1800, the only possible responses to a violent crime were to a) go get revenge with your own two hands or b) suck it up and go on being a victim. Uh, the rule of law may have been imperfect in the past, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist, and that legal remedies were never available. Furthermore, at one point he says “unless you can not only write things like the mass slaughter at Halabja, but write from a point of view where slaughtering Kurdish men, women and children to test chemical weapons just made sense, your fiction will always be missing something. It will always be two-dimensional,” which I feel is overstating his point with a vengeance. Having said that, he’s got a really fascinating perspective on sex differences, focusing not just on the socialization regarding violence but the less-obvious consequences of that socialization, and also on biological differences in how adrenaline gets processed. I’m very curious to know whether that latter point is in fact true, because if so, it’s really helpful information.

Yak Butter and Black Tea: A Journey into Tibet, Wade Brackenbury. Dear lord, this book. I’ll say for starters that I read it for the first-person account of what it’s like to tramp around at high altitude across rugged terrain, and on that front, it delivered admirably. But it’s also the story of a couple of guys who decided they wanted to go to the Drung valley, in territory the Chinese government had put off-limits to foreigners, for no better reason than because no westerner had ever been there. They weren’t anthropologists; they weren’t journalists; they weren’t serving any higher cause whose worthiness and importance we could debate. They just got a wild hair up their asses and decided to do it. At one point Brackenbury finally arrives at sufficient self-awareness to think that, hey, maybe he and his traveling companion were really screwing over the people they dealt with while sneaking around trying to get to the valley: those officials they lied to or got into arguments with might have been terrified of losing their jobs, those people who were reluctant to sell them food might not have had much to spare, etc. But on the whole, they seemed to feel that “we want to go” was sufficient justification for them to break the law right, left, and center. So if you want to read about people tramping around at high altitude across rugged terrain, this book may be useful to you — but don’t pick it up unless you’re prepared to deal with some amazingly self-centered assholes.

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

It’s come to my attention that A Natural History of Dragons is on the longlist for the David Gemmell Legend Award. Now, that is a very long longlist; there are forty-three other books on it. But still! Yay!

The Legend Award is bestowed by popular vote, so you can head on over there and register your opinion right now, if you so choose. Voting remains open until May 15th, and then once the shortlist is generated, there will be a second round. While you are there, you can also vote for the Morningstar Award (fantasy debut) and the Ravenheart Award (fantasy cover art — no, Todd Lockwood was not nominated, alas).

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

His cover for A Natural History of Dragons is one of the finalists for the Chesley Award, in the category of “Best Cover Illustration — Hardback Book.”

I feel a bit proprietary about this, of course, because the book in question is mine. Furthermore, I had input with Tor about the cover design; I had suggested a skeletal diagram of a dragon, while my editor was thinking of more of a life drawing, and the two concepts got hybridized to produce the final cover. But the cover itself is Todd’s work, and the nomination is richly deserved. Fingers crossed for him to win!

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

swan_tower: from the cover art for my novel The Tropic of Serpents (Tropic of Serpents)

I’m pleased to announce the winners of the Design Your Own Dragon contest!

Choosing the winning entries was much harder than I anticipated. Some of the criteria were straightforward; for example, the concept had to be one which fit into the paradigm of dragons in Isabella’s world, but did not duplicate too closely something already described in the series. (My apologies to those of you whose entries resembled breeds that will be appearing in Voyage of the Basilisk. You had no way of knowing those particular niches were already filled.) After I filtered for that, though, I still had quite a few possibilities. Then it was a matter of considering which ones could be most easily incorporated into the later books, which is easier said than done.

In the end, I narrowed it down to two winners. Without further ado, I give you: Yubin Kim’s honeyseeker, and Kate Parkinson’s Mrtyahaiman mew!

HONEYSEEKERS are nectar-loving arboreal creatures that thrive in eucalyptus forests. Typically 12~14 cm long, Honeyseekers are light-bodied with broad, manoeuvrable wings and a prehensile tail which allow them to cling to thin flowering branches, where they soak up nectar with their brush tipped tongue. During winter when blooms are scarce, Honeyseekers supplement their diet with insects caught with their clever foreclaws.

The species display sexual dimorphism and while the females are a drab muddy green, the males sport glittering black and yellow scales and a sapphire-blue crest. The males build nests and display to attract females, who then mate with those they judge worthy and leave after laying a single egg. When a sufficient number of eggs are gathered, the males incubate and raise the young alone.

When threatened, Honeyseekers breath a noxious spray in the eyes of the predator, a concentrate of toxins gathered from their close association with the eucalyptus. The Honeyseekers are thought to play a large role in the lifecycle of the tree and some blame them for the invasive spread of eucalyptus which are beginning replacing oak woodlands in certain forests.

MYRTYAHAIMAN MEW

A small drake measuring no more than thirty centimetres at the shoulder, this species is called the ‘noisy trickster’ by locals, as well as epithets not appropriate to repeat. Although they meet all other criteria, mews do not have any special property to their breath and are thus classified as draconic cousins rather than true drakes. Their name derives from their distinctive call which resembles the mew of a cat.

Mews are typically black with bronze tones to their scales, although brown and even albino specimens have been noted. Flocks of up to thirty individuals have been sighted but they are most often seen in groups of three or four. They are intelligent and resourceful creatures and are often attracted to human settlements, where they pillage shiny objects and scavenge through rubbish pits and middens. This behaviour has sometimes led to them becoming unpopular with humans.

Mews love fatty foods and have been known to land on the back of sheep to pick out pieces of flesh. There are legends of mews stampeding flocks of sheep or goats over cliffs to feast upon the remains, though this has never been reliably documented.

A gathering of mews is called a festival.

My thanks to everyone who participated; it was a lot of fun seeing what you all came up with!

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

swan_tower: (Default)

We’re headed into the final stretch for Design Your Own Dragon, and I just wanted to clarify something one interested party asked about a few days ago:

You do get to keep the rights to your entry.

Which is to say, if I pick your dragon as a winner, I will have the non-exclusive right to use the concept (with modifications, if necessary) in the Memoirs of Lady Trent, in prose and/or visual form — but you retain all other rights. If you want to write own stories or make your own art about your dragon concept, you are entirely free to do so. You are not signing over your idea to me wholesale.

This was a question for at least one interested party, which means it may very well be a question for others as well. So if that was giving you any hesitation in entering, hopefully this clears things up in an acceptable fashion.

You’ve got until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 15th. I’ve got a lot of fun entries already, but there’s always room for more!

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

swan_tower: (Default)

It occurred to us (i.e. myself and my Tor publicist) that it would be nice to give people in the cities I’ll be visiting on my book tour a chance to participate in the Design Your Own Dragon contest. Ergo, the new deadline is:

11:59 EASTERN TIME ON MAY 15TH

All current entries are still included, of course. But if you were worried about the impending deadline, now you have another two weeks or so to polish your creations. Full details for the contest are here, if you need a refresher.

Now, back to prepping for the tour!

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

swan_tower: (Default)

Just a reminder that the Design Your Own Dragon contest will be ending in a little more than a week, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 30th. This is your chance not only to win an ARC of Voyage of the Basilisk (once we have some on hand), but to have your very own creation included in the Memoirs of Lady Trent. I may choose up to three winners, depending partly on how many entries I get — so in a sense, the more of you that enter, the better your chances are!

(Okay, really I’m just selfish. I’ve enjoyed the heck out of reading the entries thus far, and am eager to see what else people come up with.)

E-mail your submissions to dragons.of.trent {at} gmail.com. You’ve got about one week left!

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

The entries for the Design Your Own Dragon contest have started to come in, so here’s a quick recap for those who may have missed the first announcement:

* * *

From the newly released The Tropic of Serpents and the first book in the series, A Natural History of Dragons, readers know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science.

The world of Lady Trent is home to a myriad of different dragon species, from the fire-breathing desert drakes of Akhia to the tiny draconic cousins known as sparklings. Now you have a chance to expand the borders of dragon naturalism, by adding your own species to the mix!

All you have to do is invent a breed of dragon or draconic cousin that might fit into Lady Trent’s world. Write up a description of no more than two hundred words covering its appearance and habitat, any noteworthy behaviors, and so on. An example of a write up, Marie Brennan’s wyvern, is below. Then submit your invention to dragons.of.trent@gmail.com, with the header “DRAGON: {name}”. Marie Brennan will select one to three entries and reference them in a future installment of the Memoirs of Lady Trent. Winners will also receive a signed Advance Reader Copy of Voyage of the Basilisk, the third book in the series, when those become available (late 2014).

This contest is open to entrants worldwide. No more than three submissions per entrant; any subsequent e-mails will be deleted unread. The contest will close to entries at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 30th, and winners will be announced on May 12th.

WYVERN — A reptilian creature native to northern and eastern Anthiope, possessing hind limbs and wings, but lacking forelimbs, which disqualifies it for consideration as a “true dragon” under the criteria of Sir Richard Edgeworth. Wyverns are typically 3-4 meters in length from nose to tail, with a comparable wingspan, and light of build through the chest. Their coloration is mottled brown and green, for protective colouration in the treeless hills that are their usual habitat. They typically hunt by waiting in an elevated position and then launching into the air when prey is sighted. Their venom is paralytic, and kills the prey through asphyxiation. Wyverns are solitary except when they mate, but the male will follow the female until she lays her eggs, after which they incubate in the care of the male, who feeds them and teaches them to hunt after hatching. Juveniles rarely stay with their father for more than three months, by which point they are capable of independent sustenance.

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

swan_tower: (Default)

From the newly released The Tropic of Serpents and the first book in the series, A Natural History of Dragons, readers know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science.

The world of Lady Trent is home to a myriad of different dragon species, from the fire-breathing desert drakes of Akhia to the tiny draconic cousins known as sparklings. Now you have a chance to expand the borders of dragon naturalism, by adding your own species to the mix!

All you have to do is invent a breed of dragon or draconic cousin that might fit into Lady Trent’s world. Write up a description of no more than two hundred words covering its appearance and habitat, any noteworthy behaviors, and so on. An example of a write up, Marie Brennan’s wyvern, is below. Then submit your invention to dragons.of.trent@gmail.com, with the header “DRAGON: {name}”. Marie Brennan will select one to three entries and reference them in a future installment of the Memoirs of Lady Trent. Winners will also receive a signed Advance Reader Copy of Voyage of the Basilisk, the third book in the series, when those become available (late 2014).

This contest is open to entrants worldwide. No more than three submissions per entrant; any subsequent e-mails will be deleted unread. The contest will close to entries at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 30th 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 15th (note the extension!), and winners will be announced on May 26th.

Sample entry:

WYVERN — A reptilian creature native to northern and eastern Anthiope, possessing hind limbs and wings, but lacking forelimbs, which disqualifies it for consideration as a “true dragon” under the criteria of Sir Richard Edgeworth. Wyverns are typically 3-4 meters in length from nose to tail, with a comparable wingspan, and light of build through the chest. Their coloration is mottled brown and green, for protective colouration in the treeless hills that are their usual habitat. They typically hunt by waiting in an elevated position and then launching into the air when prey is sighted. Their venom is paralytic, and kills the prey through asphyxiation. Wyverns are solitary except when they mate, but the male will follow the female until she lays her eggs, after which they incubate in the care of the male, who feeds them and teaches them to hunt after hatching. Juveniles rarely stay with their father for more than three months, by which point they are capable of independent sustenance.

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

swan_tower: (Default)

It’s now February, so you know what that means: it’s time to send letters!

As I mentioned before, you can get a letter from Lady Trent, written with an actual dip pen and my best effort at good cursive handwriting, sealed with wax, and sent directly to your mailbox. Here are the necessary steps:

1) Write a letter! You may choose to write to Isabella in her youth (when she’s running around studying dragons) or in her old age (when she’s writing the memoirs). If it isn’t clear which version of her you are writing to, I’ll respond as the memoir-writing version. You may adopt a persona within her world if you wish, but it isn’t required. Just don’t ask her about me; she has no idea who I am. :-P

2) Put it in the mail! Letters should be sent to:

Marie Brennan
P.O. Box 991
San Mateo, CA 94403

Remember to address the outside envelope to me, not Isabella. (And if you’re writing from outside the U.S. you’ll need to add the country to the address, of course.)

3) Profit! Which is to say, receive a letter in reply.

You have from now until the end of February to send your letter; I’ll reply as quickly as I can. Depending on how much mail I receive and where you live, it may take a while — it is snail-mail, after all. :-) I look forward to hearing from you!

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

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