Special Reader/Carter Hall crossover promotional

Today is Monday, and Tim’s Kickstarter is over 75% funded. The funding is the point at which it can happen, though; going over “funded” is still quite a good idea and gives more room for him to develop awesome projects in future.

Saturday is my mother’s sixtieth birthday. Don’t you think my mother should have nice things? I do. Like beautiful photo books. And kooky fantasy stories. She likes things like that!

That’s why for this week, as a special promotional for my mom’s birthday, if you back the Reader: War for the Oaks Kickstarter at the photo book level or higher (that’s $30 or higher), you can let me know and pick your own brand new Carter Hall story. Choose a title (I’ve never written “Carter Hall Returns to the Point” or “Carter Hall’s One Timer” or “Carter Hall and the Broken Blade” or…well, that’s the point, whatever you like), or choose a mythic or folktale element I should incorporate in a new Carter Hall story. I’ll send it to you when it’s finished.

There is no requirement that you have to be listed as a friend of my lj or anything else to participate in this promotional. My email is publicly available: it’s a gmail account at marissalingen.

The Reader: War for the Oaks: Kickstarter!

The Kickstarter is up for The Reader: War for the Oaks, and Tim has done a beautiful job. You can see some of how gorgeous the photos are on the page for it, but they’re even better in person. There’ll also be essays in appreciation of War for the Oaks in the photo book (possibly one from me–we’ll see what he thinks!). And if you’re so moved, there are gorgeous prints and photo cards for extras. Some of you have gotten examples of Tim’s photo cards in the mail from me–way better than Hallmark, frankly, suitable for pretty much any occasion, festive, congratulatory, consoling, pick your mood yourself.

This has been a lovely project to support, and I would really like for him to be able to do more beautiful nerdy things in this vein. The Kickstarter is starting strong, but it still needs support. Please go look at the page and think about backing it. Thanks so much.

Writing Process Blog Tour

My dear friend Michael Merriam asked me to take part in a Writing Process Blog Tour. He answered these questions about process last week, and next week some more of my friends will answer them.

1) What am I working on?

When I told Michael about a week, week and a half, ago that I’d answer these questions, I thought, boy, that’ll be an interesting one, I can’t wait to read the answer and find out! At the moment, I’m worldbuilding and plot-building like crazy on several novel projects, waiting to see which one shakes out to be the next novel I write. Probably the strongest contender at the moment is Wielding the Stars, which has a giant jeweled magical orrery and riots and rebellion and fire and flood and…actually not flood I think. Hmm. We may have to go back to the flood later. (This is not to be confused with going back to the Flood later.) It also has load-bearing mythic bears, which are sort of getting to be a thing for me. But I could do any of a number of other things. That number might be five. Unless it’s not. Really, it’s quite a lot of possible projects, and the thing is, the one that jumps out and grabs me might not even exist yet. Novels are like that.

The thing I’m actually working on in any focused way is a short story called “Drifting Like Leaves, Falling Like Acorns,” which has some vets with PTSD who have been given little genetically engineered soothing psychoactive companion frogs. It also has quite a lot of rain and jurisdictional disputes. It is science fiction unless it is fantasy. This is a problem because my filing system for unsold stories calls for them to be put in folders labeled “SF” or “Fantasy,” so I do, but the postnuclear fantasy series I just guess. I could be wrong. I’m just the author, you don’t have to listen to me.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Mine has a giant jeweled magical orrery. And genetically engineered psychoactive soothing companion frogs. Like that. Stuff.

Also I have more grandparents in my work than most people. I have more old people in general.

When asked to talk about theme or political concerns, I tend to curl up in a ball and emit disgruntled noises, so let’s focus on the frogs, shall we?

3) Why do I write what I do?

Because if I sing it instead, my voice gets tired, and I get squeamish about things under my fingernails, so sculpture is right out.

Because I have trained my brain to poke at things, and then I feed it all kinds of input, and this is what comes out. I was kidding above with the singing, except not entirely kidding, because what happens when I have bits of story that I don’t get to write down is that I sort of hum them under my breath, I sort of live with them and hum them, and they nag at me, and so I write them down. There is a thing about habit-formation and that is that once you have formed the habit, that is the habit you get.

Also this is the stuff I like. I don’t get to write all the stuff I like, because I like quite a lot of stuff, as you will notice if you read my book posts. But honestly I like this kind of stuff quite a bit. It makes me happy. I think it is good for me to think around corners about things, and I think it is good for other people too, but I don’t write medicine, I write things I like.

4) How does your writing process work?

As far as other people are concerned, the interesting part of this answer seems to be “non-sequentially.” I get bits and pieces of scene and start writing down the bits I know. I accrete more and more bits I know until there is enough to make a whole story of whatever length. I work from the “incredible disappearing outline” theory, deleting the bits of notes as I write the actual scenes that correspond to them. This is the same for long and short and very very short.

Oh, and there’s the bit in the middle of long things where I get lost and have to spread it all out and think about it a great deal and realize I forgot to plan something crucial when I was doing all the planning, so then I have to figure that out. It would be nice if this was not actually part of the process every time, but sometimes a bit of realism is called for in describing one’s process.

Tune in next week to hear from the following interesting people on their own blogs:

Alec Austin is a game designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s worked as a nuclear reactor operator and media researcher, and has published a D&D adventure and articles in addition to over a dozen pieces of short fiction. His most recent publication, written with Marissa Lingen, is “The Young Necromancer’s Guide to Re-Capitation” in On Spec, by which you can discern that his work is uplifting and full of good cheer. He’s currently working on a science fiction novel. He can be found at alecaustin.livejournal.com.

Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets. Her latest book of poetry is The Scientific Method; her stories appear in Oomph and the Journal of Unlikely Cryptography. She makes her home halfway up Spring Hill. She can be found online at http://www.pantoum.org.

Merrie Haskell says of herself: “I write for all ages. My first book, THE PRINCESS CURSE, was a Junior Library Guild Selection in 2011, and was nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature in 2013. My second MG novel, HANDBOOK FOR DRAGON SLAYERS, won the Schneider Family Book Award (Middle Grades) in 2014. THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS, also a Junior Library Guild Selection, comes out in June 2014. My short fiction for adults has appeared in NATURE, ASIMOV’S and so forth.” She can be found at www.merriehaskell.com.

Q&A from Katherine Addison

This weekend we have a Q&A from Katherine Addison, who is not very secretly Sarah Monette, friend to this blog and author of The Goblin Emperor, which comes out on Tuesday. So basically, if you order it now, it won’t be like pre-ordering, it’ll just be like ordering. I’m in the middle of reading my advance copy now, and I figured it’d make more sense to have the questions I asked before reading up before the thoughts I had after reading, so here we go!

1. Would you characterize The Goblin Emperor as a noir novel or a clair novel? Or some of each, or neither? (As of the writing of these questions I have not yet read it.)

It’s some of both, I think, but it’s definitely more clair than the Doctrine of Labyrinths.

2. Katherine Addison is an open pseudonym. Did the book start as a project for that pseudonym? If so, did it feel different working under another name? What changed?

No, I had a complete (or nearly complete) draft of The Goblin Emperor when I signed the contract with Tor. It was always going to be the next book I published. I don’t divide my writing into “Sarah” and “Katherine.” It’s all just me.

3. If there was to be a line of perfumes for _The Goblin Emperor_, what scents would you want in it?

Elvish scents should be cold and crisp and bright, goblin scents darker and warmer and just a smidgen more ruthless. The Nazhmorhathveras use a lot of sandalwood (which is my personal favorite scent).

4. You have talked about The Goblin Emperor on your blog as a standalone. Is that still planned to be the case? Do you have other things you might want to do with these characters or with this world, or are you moving on to other horizons? Or do you know yet?

I don’t entirely know yet. This story is complete as it stands, so there won’t be any direct sequels, but there are a couple of ideas drifting around my head that could become novels set in the same world and with some of the same characters. And I don’t want to say any more because I’m paranoid about jinxing myself.

5. You’ve written fantasies with trains, airships, and other steampunk trappings. Is there a line of modernity past which things stop being fun for you, or do the gadgets make it all the more enjoyable?

I don’t see any reason there should be a line in the sand. One of the stories collected in Somewhere Beneath Those Waves Was Her Home is science fiction magical realism, and I am intensely fond of it. (“No Man’s Land,” for those who are interested.) And if we can imagine a world in which magic exists, there’s no reason not to imagine a world in which magic and computers exist.

6. Tell us about the inspirational powers of sock elephants.

The past three years have been hard for a variety of reasons, some of them physical and some of them professional, and I have found myself trapped in a sort of rut–or maybe a pit–of not being able to write, and then when I do write something, being utterly paralyzed by the nasty little voice in the back of my head that says, “No one wants to read that. Why are you even bothering?” You scrabble at the walls of the pit, and then you slide back down to the bottom.

So the sock elephant (whose history is
here) is a concretization of the idea that if I write something, someone will want to read it. No matter how ugly you are, someone will fall in love with you.

That nasty little voice is a liar. My sock elephant says so.

Asking for a friend: the not-amused edition

I have a friend who has developed an academic interest in what she terms neo-Victorian kids’ lit (/MG) and YA. I have asked, and she does not draw a firm line between that and steampunk. Recommendations, anti-recommendations, interesting works to discuss: go.

I’ll start: Chris Moriarty’s The Inquisitor’s Apprentice fills my heart with joy, and I only wish she would write another, or I only wish they would publish another, or something. (That is, however, Victorian era but US setting. Not sure if it matters. Friend can show up and say so if it does.)