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I’ve been making these tikkun olam posts for about half a year now, and responses to them have been slowing down, which I suspect is in part a sign of fatigue. It’s hard to keep on working to repair the world when so many people seem determined to break it, and when it’s hard to see any result for your effort.

But sometimes you can make a very real difference to a very specific person. Chaz Brenchley has put out a call raising funds to treat his wife’s multiple sclerosis. If we lived in a country where this was covered by insurance, they wouldn’t have to worry; instead we live in a country where Republicans are trying to take away even the insurance we already have. Karen is the primary earner in their family, and she doesn’t know how soon she’ll be able to return to work. Helping out, either by donating directly, or by subscribing to Chaz’s Patreon, can make all the difference in the world to these two people, and to their friends and family.

And while you’re at it, call your senators and beg them to oppose Trumpcare. Because I’d like to live in a world where things ranging from anxiety to surviving sexual assault don’t count as “pre-existing conditions,” and where health insurance companies are required to cover things like doctor’s visits.

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

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Tomorrow, y’all. Tomorrow, Within the Sanctuary of Wings will be available from all reputable vendors of books! If you’ve been waiting for the series to be complete before you pick it up, now is your chance to start! If you know someone who has been waiting for the series to be complete before they pick it up, now is your chance to tell them to start!

My upcoming tour schedule is here, with a new item added: a May 11th signing at University Bookstore in Seattle, where I will be joined by the inestimable Todd Lockwood.

Also, don’t forget that the illustrated edition of Lies and Prophecy is currently 30% off at Kobo. Just enter “APR30” as a coupon code at checkout to get the discount. The sale ends today!

Finally, I’ve contributed a number of items to this year’s Con or Bust auction. There are three lots:

Bidding is open now, and will continue until May 7th. It’s a great organization and a great cause, so go forth and bid!

. . . see you all tomorrow!

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

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In the course of all the protesting and petitioning and calling my representatives and so forth, I remind myself that my normal activities can also be used to make a difference in the world.

The VeriCon Charity Auction is live right now, with proceeds going to benefit Cittadini del Mondo, which is working to help refugees. My own contribution there is a signed copy of Cold-Forged Flame, but there are many, many other items on offer, and the cause is a very good one.

I’m also involved with Children of a Different Sky, an anthology of stories about refugees, whose profits will be used to benefit same. My intent is to write a new Driftwood story for it: that whole setting is about the survivors of calamity carrying on in a new place, which makes it very fitting for this kind of project.

The last thing is a bit more indirect, but still important. I’m one of the judges for Fantastical Times, a writing contest for Tampa Bay-area high school students. I know the likelihood that anyone reading this post being eligible to enter is small, but I want to mention it anyway. Because right now I feel especially bad for our younger generation, the people looking ahead to the future, wondering what they’re going to inherit from us — and wondering if they can do anything about it. Their voices matter. They’re the ones who are going to have to deal with the mess we leave behind. If you know of a similar opportunity for kids in your area, promote it. We need their vision, and we need them to know we’re listening.

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

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Last night, I went to the website of the California Democratic Party and filled out a volunteer form.

Because I believe that this election matters — and I don’t just mean the presidential election, though keeping that proud bigot, Donald Trump, out of office is a high priority for me. As I’ve said before, I think we as a society need to pay more attention to the down-ticket races, to the local elections and measures. And I think one of the most corrosive factors in the United States right now is the combination of apathy and organized efforts to restrict voting rights: the sense that your vote doesn’t really matter, and the passage of laws supposedly designed to combat the next-to-nonexistent problem of voter fraud, which just so happen to make it harder for the Wrong Kind of People to vote. I don’t know yet what my local party will ask me to help out with, but I’m hoping I can work on the “get out the vote” end of things.

But I won’t be choosy. Whatever they need, I will do my best to provide. Because I’m not sure I’ve cared about any election year as much as this one.

If you’re involved in politics, organizing or volunteering or holding some political office, speak up in the comments! I’d like to know who out there has already waded into this particular pond.

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

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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.

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Author Judith Tarr is in dire straits. We’ve got this idiom in English about “losing the farm” — well, she is in actual danger of losing an actual farm. This would not only have dreadful consequences for her, it would leave all of her horses homeless: most of them too old or too untrained to be saleable. Right now she is scrambling to keep them fed for the rest of this month, let alone going forward.

There are a number of ways you can help her out, if you are so inclined.

1) Camp Lipizzan. Her horses are the “airs above ground” breed, the ones renowned for their beautiful high-school dressage movements. This is your chance to ride one, and even try out “horse yoga.”

2) Editing and writing mentorship. Judy’s a World Fantasy Award nominee; she knows her stuff. If you’re a writer, this may be of interest to you.

3) Patreon. She’s posting new fiction there.

4) Sponsor a horse. Full details are there, but you can help feed and water the horses, and get to know them in return.

Also, Judy has asked that people who have read her books post a review on Amazon, as that helps boost the visibility of her work and therefore increase her sales. I particularly recommend Writing Horses to the writers among you: if you’re ever going to have an equine in a story, this will help you do it right.

Many thanks to everyone who lends Judy a hand.

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.

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There’s a few days left in the Lady Trent’s Friends of Nepal fundraiser, with a variety of items still for sale (including some new additions from Linda Nagata and Vonda McIntyre) — plus, of course, donations also put you in the pool for lottery prizes. The page currently says the goal is $750, but I’d love to hit $1K before this is done; it’s a nice round number. :-)

Over on Twitter I joked that I should not resort to blackmail, like saying “Donate or Isabella loses a finger to frostbite in the last book!” But the truth is, I was already thinking about having Isabella lose a finger to frostbite. So really, what I should say is that you have a chance to save her from that fate! (Carrot, not stick.) If we hit $1000, she will make it safely through the series with all ten fingers intact!

. . . yes, writers are horrible people. :-P

But onward to the business promised by the title of this post. By far the hottest item in the sale part of the fundraiser was the ARC of In the Labyrinth of Drakes, due out next spring; all five copies were gone in about twenty-four hours. I know that for some of you in foreign countries, eBay’s estimated shipping costs were prohibitive, since they don’t calculate that according to the cheapest methods. To make up for that, I’m doing a giveaway of my own, with no purchase required. All you have to do to enter is be signed up to my mailing list; both current subscribers and those who sign up now will be included in the pool. On Friday I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner. (If you win and don’t want the book for whatever reason, e.g. you haven’t read any of the series or you already got an ARC through other means, you can decline and I’ll pick a new recipient.) Here’s your chance to get a signed ARC for free!

. . . but you should still donate if you can. You don’t want Isabella to lose a finger, do you? >_>

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

As those of you who read my booklog posts have probably guessed, for the fifth and final volume of the Memoirs of Lady Trent, our intrepid heroine is going to a region based on the real-world Himalaya. I’ve been reading a fair bit about that area, and in the course of doing so, I’ve been continually reminded about the devastating earthquakes that struck Nepal earlier this year. The immediate need for earthquake relief has passed, but now it’s time to rebuild — and I thought, well, let’s see if I can’t do something to help out.

So I’ve teamed up with Patrick Rothfuss’ Worldbuilders fundraiser, creating Lady Trent’s Friends of Nepal. This is part of the larger Worldbuilders effort, which raises money for Heifer International, but all donations received as part of the Friends of Nepal project will specifically go to Heifer’s Nepal programs. In another couple of days there will be a page specifically for the Friends of Nepal, with books and other items offered for sale, the chance to donate for lottery prizes (a la the usual Worldbuilders setup), and some auctions.

Why am I posting before that page is live?

Because one of the featured elements of the Friends of Nepal fundraiser is live right now, and ending in just over a day. Bid here for the chance to appear in the final Memoir of Lady Trent! One lucky winner will have a character in the last book named after them, or a person of their choice. Who exactly that character will be will depend on the gender and ethnicity of the name, but possibilities include a scholar of the mysterious Draconean language, an intrepid mountaineer, a foreign diplomat, and more.

Bidding is up to $200, which is absolutely fantastic. (From my “let’s raise money for Nepal” perspective; not so much for those of you who would love to bid but can’t afford it.) You’ve got until 7:20 PST Sunday to get your own bid in — that’s 10:20 EST, and 3:20 a.m. Monday morning UTC/GMT. And if you don’t win the Tuckerization, don’t worry; there will be a bunch of other items on offer pretty soon . . .

. . . including signed ARCs of In the Labyrinth of Drakes. That’s right — you could have a chance to read it before it’s even published.

Stay tuned for more news!

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

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This got buried in my browser tabs, so I’m posting it rather late. But you may recall me linking to this fundraiser, for a lovely woman I met during my tour and her husband who were in a horrifically bad car accident not long after that weekend. The fundraiser is to help keep them going during the months of recovery and rehab, because neither of them will be able to work for quite some time, and insurance doesn’t take care of everything.

In order to encourage people to donate, Mary Robinette Kowal has organized some Acts of Whimsy. The first of these got posted a while ago: Mary Robinette Kowal reading a passage from Jane Austen in her best “phone sex voice.” It really is true . . . you can make anything sound dirty if you read it the right way. ;-)

The fundraiser is more than 80% of the way to its goal, but there’s still a little distance to go. So if Mary has successfully entertained you, please do think about helping out!

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

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The other week I linked to a crazy Indiegogo campaign that was about crowdfunding a bailout for Greece. It didn’t hit its goal, of course — 1.6 billion euros is rather a lot to crowdfund — but it raised a surprising amount of money: over 2 million in a really short span of time. The person who started the campaign regrets not having thought of making it a flexible-funding effort, which would have meant that whatever funds were raised got used, even if the final goal was still miles away.

So now they’re trying again. This time the goal is more modest: 1 million euros, of which 20% has already been raised, and however much actually gets contributed will go toward helping out in Greece.

I find this fascinating because it’s a demonstration of empathy for strangers, and the ways in which individuals may be more compassionate than their governments. All through this ongoing financial trainwreck, we keep hearing about “austerity” and how people have to tighten their belts to get out of the hole. Debts have to be repaid, after all — you can’t weasel out of them, can’t ask for somebody to help you up when you’re down. But the effects of austerity are disastrous for the people who are least able to take the hit, while the wealthy cruise along with their belts untouched. And who says that forcing people to pay their debts is really the best and most moral answer? Why shouldn’t we help those who are down? Maybe someday, we’ll need someone else to do the same for us.

It’s the same principle behind Strike Debt, and (less explicitly) behind a lot of other charitable efforts. It’s people saying, I don’t care if you can’t repay me. What matters is getting you on your feet. We all do better when we help one another. It’s the Biblical/Torah doctrine of Jubilee: forgive the debts, let people wipe their slates clean, give those on the bottom a second chance. The way we run things these days, it sounds unthinkable — even immoral, letting people get out of their obligations. But when the alternative is to grind them down, and down, and down some more, until they’re buried so deep they’ll never have a chance of repaying you, much less achieving anything resembling success . . . then which one is really the moral choice? I choose Jubilee.

So I’m going to contribute to the Greek fund. I have no idea what world leaders are actually doing with Greece, but I know this much: fifty percent of young Greek men and women have no jobs. In September I’ll be visiting the island of Corfu as a tourist, oohing and aahing at the ancient ruins while being carefully steered away from the modern ones. I’ll feel a lot better if I know I’ve done something more direct to help. It’s a drop in the bucket, and I know that — but buckets get filled one drop at a time.

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

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I posted a while ago about one of the stops on my book tour, an event hosted by the Oregon Regency Society. During that weekend, I met a lovely lady named Nora, a friend of Mary Robinette Kowal’s.

Last week, while on a trip with her husband to celebrate their anniversary, the two of them were in a horrific car accident. As in, the sort of thing where they’re lucky to be alive, and Nora is still in the ICU. (Her husband Bob was there, too, until recently.) They have insurance . . . but not a lot, and this is major enough that it’s going to blow through their coverage. It won’t help them with the months to come, during which neither of them will be able to work.

There’s a fundraiser underway to help them. And to sweeten the pot — not to mention create some spots of brightness in what is otherwise a dreadful moment — Mary is organizing Acts of Whimsy, as sort of milestone bait for the fundraiser. You can check out her blog for the full list, but my contribution is that I will perform a karate kata in the Victorian dress I used during the tour. I don’t promise to perform it well; in fact, it would be more honest to say I promise to perform it abysmally, given the constraints of the dress. But you will get to see it. And when that goes up, I’ll write a post about what I learned about trying to perform martial arts in Victorian clothing, for the edification of all who might write such a scene one day.

Please do contribute if you can. I didn’t get much chance to talk to Nora that weekend, but we did meet, and it’s appalling to look at the photograph of their truck (in the first update; click and scroll down to see it) and think of her going through that. The fundraiser is about 60% of the way to its goal right now; that’s fabulous, but there’s a lot more to be done.

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

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These both came to my attention recently, and deserve a signal boost:

Daughters of Mercury — this is an art project, creating portraits of trans women “how they want to be represented, either complicating the conventional portraitist’s art of flattery with the dynamics of gender dysphoria, or celebrating features stigmatized as masculine as a woman’s features.” I know the woman behind the project, and I also know an increasing number of trans women (one of whom brought the campaign to my attention), so there’s a personal weight to this one: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gender identity, passing or choosing not to pass, etc, and there aren’t any simple answers. But we can accept trans women for who and what they are, and I think projects like this one are part of how we can do that.

Not Our Kind — this is an anthology built around the theme of “outsiders.” Not only does a friend of mine (Marissa Lingen) have a story in it, along with several acquaintances of mine, but the topic sounds pretty dang appealing. I’m pretty sure I’m going to love the heck out of it . . . but first it needs to be funded, so.

Go forth! Support!

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)

For the Driftwood fans out there (I know there are more than a few of you), Wilson Fowlie has read “The Ascent of Unreason” for Podcastle. If you missed it when BCS podcasted it, or when they published the text version, head on over and give it a listen!

Also, in the “good causes” category of links: Pat Rothfuss, the brain behind the Worldbuilders fundraising charity for Heifer International, has decided he isn’t pouring enough time and effort into benefiting the world, so he’s expanded his enterprise into selling signed first editions from authors who wish to donate a few. I think I sent in ten copies of The Tropic of Serpents; no idea how many are left, but (as of me posting this) there’s at least one. The money goes to charity, so if you want a book and the warm glow of knowing you’ve done something good, this is a splendid chance to get both at once.

(I don’t have five things to make a post, but I do have this: another shout-out for A Natural History of Dragons over on io9, this time in the context of “10 Great Novels That Will Make You More Passionate About Science.” It’s a list that makes for some pretty interesting reading, I must say.)

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

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I’m slightly torn about posting this only because of Amazon’s recent bad behavior — if I could point you at a different retailer, I would. But this is a good cause in its own right, and I don’t want people to be reluctant to support it just because of Amazon.

Under the Mango Tree is a collection of folktales from Sierra Leone, assembled by a Peace Corps volunteer in the country. All profits from the book go to the students who wrote it, and to a scholarship fund for their education. Given the economic differences between the U.S. and Sierra Leone, roughly three book sales is enough to pay for a year of education for one child, meaning that every copy sold is rather more than just a drop in the bucket.

I’ve picked up a copy myself; in fact, I installed the Kindle app on my tablet just so I could do so. :-P I haven’t read it yet, but will certainly report in once that’s done.

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

As of about ten minutes ago, I am (finally) a member of SFWA.

I’ve been eligible to join since 2004, when I sold my first novel. But back then I was a starving graduate student, for whom the membership fee was a non-trivial expense . . . and soon thereafter, SFWA began shooting itself very publicly and head-deskingly in the foot, not just once, but several times in a row. Its forums were legendary for their toxicity, the org as a whole was run by people who hadn’t been working professionals in the field for years, and while some may have had good intentions, SFWA was not doing a very effective job of coping with the realities of modern publishing. Why should I pay money I didn’t really have to call myself one of them? The answers people gave me basically fell into two categories: 1) “Griefcom and the EMF are good things and worth supporting!” and 2) “Join and be the change you want to see!” While I had no disagreement with #1 (the Grievance Committee advocates for authors in disputes with their publishers or agents, and the Emergency Medical Fund assists writers without health insurance), #2 got up my nose something fierce. Oh, yes, let me give you money for the privilege of trying to reform a group that shows no signs of wanting to reform. Where do I sign up?

But things got better. Actual working novelists and short story writers stepped up to run for election and, well, did what I wasn’t willing to do: dragged the org kicking and screaming toward a better future. Members who weren’t toxic layabouts raised their heads and went “oh, thank god, I’m not alone.” SFWA’s officers did yeoman work during the whole business with Night Shade’s ongoing implosion. Incidents that would have been allowed to slide ten years ago started to be called out.

It still isn’t perfect. SFWA has its share of dinosaurs and reactionaries, and they don’t always get rebuked as fast or as effectively as they should. But it’s improving, and then there was this thing, and I said to myself, “Self, I want to be one of those people Scalzi et al. brought in.” He isn’t president anymore, but the truth is that he and his cohort — people like Mary Robinette Kowal and Rachel Swirsky — are the ones who changed my thinking about SFWA. I actually meant to join after that happened . . . but I got busy, and I forgot. Fortunately (for suitably flexible values of “fortunately”), the sexist racist homophobic assholes of the speculative fiction field are the gift that keeps on giving. Two weeks ago, when John C. Wright was spreading his revisionist history around the web and various people were debunking him as he deserved, I got off my posterior and joined.

So there you have it: I am officially a member of the Insect Army — which is to say, SFWA, The 21st Century Edition. I will try to use my newfound powers for good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1) You have until the end of the month to write a letter to Lady Trent (and get one back)!

2) You also have until next Sunday to bid on these ARCs for Con or Bust. We’re up to $70 for the pair; remember the money goes to a very good cause!

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

Just a reminder that the Month of Letters is ongoing. If you want to get a letter from Lady Trent, now’s your chance!

Also, my Con or Bust auction is now live. On offer: a signed pair of ARCs for A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents. Bidding currently stands at $45. Remember that this is a charity effort organized under the auspices of the Carl Brandon Society, “a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction.” Con or Bust helps fans of color attend cons they might not otherwise be able to afford.

If you need me for anything, I’ll be buried under this rock, revising the next book. :-P

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

“Mad Maudlin” is live on Tor.com! And the artwork for it is as beautiful as it was the first time I saw it. :-)

You know what else is live? This audio excerpt from The Tropic of Serpents. There is also a sweepstakes, if you want to win a copy of the book.

Also live: a Con or Bust auction with a pair of ARCs up for grabs. It’s your chance to get signed copies of both A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, while benefiting a good cause!

Not live yet: the Kirkus review. I think that goes up tomorrow.

Live and ongoing: Letters from Lady Trent. Write! Receive! Don’t make me walk aaaaaaaaall the way to the post office for nothing! (It’s a whole ten minutes away. I could die of exhaustion, y’all. But finding letters gives me the strength to soldier on.)

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


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