Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Note of Commerce: LAST DRAGON back in print!

The reprint of LAST DRAGON is imminent. The pre-order page is up at the Apex Website, which is  ( for those of you out on the feed lines...)

Anyone who pre-orders their copy will receive an autographed edition.

Of note, to those who already own LAST DRAGON, the interior art was done by a very, very talented illustrator, Angela Giles, and will have a very different look and style compared to the first. (I don't remember who did the cover art...)

I'm nose deep in my graduate thesis, so expect more guest posts over the next few weeks, including word from everyone's favorite tentacled overlord, Squishy of Space Squid, and more.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the new homepage seems to be working

tell me if you see any really weird stuff, and, if so, what browser you're using?

i found some time for the Apex Blog, because they give me free stuff...


I want to destroy this book. I want to pick it up and throw it out a window, where birds can pick at it, and cars can run it over, and rainfall can wash away the words on the page. I want to damage this book until it cannot be read. Burning is too simple. I don’t want to glorify the text with something as glorious as a bonfire. I don’t want the book to go down in a hail of bullets, front-page news. No, I want the book to wither before death, as if falling into mud patches, hitchhiking out to the edges of things, before stumbling off to a slow, empty oblivion. I want the book to suffer disillusionment before a lonely death. I want the book to be forgotten, entirely, like a sandgrain among so many beachheads, buried deep. Ergo, I label the book into a category. Memoir, for instance. I will call this text a “Memoir”.

What I have done to this hypothetical book is to damage it far worse than burning a few copies. Now, only people who read memoirs will read this book. People who do not generally read memoirs will be disinclined to approach the book. They will have to get over their own prejudices based on their experience of memoirs past, and judge the book according to expectations. Despite the numerous fictional elements omnipresent in the memoir category, like the dialog that is recreated from memory or the colors and textures of the world as described and the narrative arc bent out of unnarrative life, this book will no longer be measured for the fiction of things, but for the truth of them.


It went up a couple days ago, from the look of things.

Try to buy something while you're over there. The Apex Book of World SF, for instance, which is an awesome and surprising book of awesome.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I've been hiding...

A song for the week, for what I've been doing and what I will do.

40 pages of the thesis done, but still quite a lot more left.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Note of Commerce...

I am pleased to note that I am in an anthology with Maurice Broaddus, Ekaterina Sedia, Mary Robinette-Kowal, and Paul Jessup. (Also, Paul Jessup's evil twin, who is also named Paul Jessup.)

Do check out this wicked cool anthology, collecting the stories published in Apex Magazine last year until the editorial masters handed control over to new kings and queens.

I particularly recommend the Paul Jessup story about the ants. Ants are cool.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

GUEST POST: Patrice Sarath

Joe’s just a tiny bit busy lately what with FIVE novels coming out, finishing grad school, and getting married (whoooo!) so he asked me and a few other friends to guest blog over here just to keep the place from growing cobwebs. I said sure. Now, unlike my blog over at In Gordath Wood (, Joe has standards, up to which I will try my best to live. And also, it would be rude to start a controversy over here. So instead, I’ll talk about the worst week of my life, aka, when I lost my mojo, and got it back, and how at some point it happens to almost every writer.

But first: about me. I’m the author of two fantasy novels, Gordath Wood
. I also have a third novel coming out this year, a Regency romance called The Unexpected Miss Bennet. It is based on Pride & Prejudice and there isn’t a single zombie in it (I know, right?) If you like fantasy novels with strong female characters who solve mysteries in cross-world adventures and even fall in love, my fantasy novels are for you. If you ever thought Mary Bennet in Pride & Prejudice never got a fair shake, then you’ll like The Unexpected Miss Bennet. Currently, I’m writing a sequel to Gordath Wood and Red Gold  Bridge, and this brings me to the point of this blog.

See, my first two fantasy novels didn’t sell well. The first one came out to no fanfare, no big reviews, and very little notice from anyone. Then the second one came out in the middle of the worst recession this country had seen since The Great Depression. My former agent was ill-equipped to sell the foreign rights to my books and so potential sales were lost. This was not entirely her fault – I could and still can try to sell those rights myself, but there is a point to having an agent, which is that the agent sells and the writer writes. It’s professional compact.

My career, which started with a whimper, ended with a fizzle. And then, all in about the space of a week, an agent told me that writing anything else in the Gordath Wood universe was a waste of time. Another agent said the same thing. And another...and another...

Aside: if you are wallowing in the depths of despair, do NOT listen to country music. Especially to this guy: Jarrod Dickenson, one of the finest young singer-songwriters out there whose music you should check out. You can listen to it while reading this blog.

So what did I do? I cried. A lot. Like, really a lot. And I wallowed some more, mourning a career that never got underway. And then, well, I finished writing The Unexpected Miss Bennet and sold it to a publisher in the UK with a potentially killer deal in the US. And I continued to write the third book in my fantasy series. It’s more of a reboot than a sequel as it takes the story into a different direction. Will it sell? It may not sell to my US publisher. It might have to be self-published, as so many authors are doing. But I have faith in my story. I can’t write if my heart isn’t in it. This gig is too hard and too heart-breaking to treat it like a job. And there sure isn’t enough money to write something you don’t want to write.

There’s nothing strange about  what happened to me. It happens to a lot of writers. In my case it was at the beginning of my career. Some people have been selling for years, and they hit this same wall. It’s a horrible crisis of confidence. I know one writer who when she sold her latest novel after a long dry spell was just delighted to have a new ISBN. Such a simple thing, and yet so freighted with meaning.

As a writer, there are things I can control: words, quality, story, character, whether I give up or not, and things I can’t:  macroeconomics. Last year I had an unpleasant reminder of what I can’t control. Fine, I get it. Lesson learned.

So thank you for listening to my sad cautionary tale. If you have any questions, drop a line in the comments and I’ll try to answer if I can.

And everyone tell Joe congratulations!

Monday, January 17, 2011

LAST DRAGON returns to print in February 2011...

You remember how this one begins, right?


     My fingers are like spiders drifting over memories in my webbed brain. The husks of the dead gaze up at me, and my teeth sink in and I speak their ghosts. But it’s all mixed up in my head. I can’t separate lines from lines, or people from people. Everything is in this web, Esumi. Even you. Even me. Slowly the meat falls from the bones until only sunken cheeks and empty space between the filaments remind me that a person was there, in my head. The ghosts all fade the same way. They fade together. Your face fades into the face of my husband and the dying screams of my daughter. Esumi, your face is Seth’s face, and the face of the golem.
     Esumi, do you remember the night before you left? We threw a grand ball in your honor. A skald sang of the glorious deeds. My deeds, my husband's, and even yours were sung. And Adel's glorious song eclipsed us all. Three hundred cantos extolling her deeds were barely enough for the ones who didn't know her when she was alive. I knew her. You didn't. I don't know if she was really our savior, or simply the monster who fooled us all. Both, perhaps. I don't know. I never did. I think she was my friend, but even that's fuzzy. For all I know I was a weapon for her, no better than any mercenary. Or perhaps I was her friend, like a trusted weapon at her side, a trusted warrior. And, she is a hero worthy of song.
     In these letters I wish to tell you of us and his empire, Alameda.
     Our empire was forged in bloodshed. First was my family's murder, and my grandfather's execution. Then, there was Adel's husband, Tycho, by her own shattered hand. And then I killed one more wicked beast, and secured my throne in the deed. I didn't even know I had earned a throne at that moment.
     I was just a girl. I was such a violent fool. You remember me after all of this was already over, Esumi. After you came home and we fought a war and took over the whole world for my foolish husband.
     He tore us apart when our daughter was born, with your red hair.
     Esumi, my love, come to me. I will take care of you, even from this bed. I will hold you close. I touch this vellum parchment and remember your rough skin. My stylus scratches into the page, and I remember my fingernails across your back.
     My lips whisper softly what the ink tongues on the page.
     I remember our daughter fading to a dream, and my dreams fading with her.
     I remember Adel, and I remember a city. I remember my uncle who deserved to die, and his father who got what he deserved.
     I remember so many things, Esumi. And I will give them all to you, for one glimpse of your true face again. Faces fade in this web, and my husband is tall and strong while you were fat and weak and then you are both together on the deck of a ship dazzling sailors with only a cloak and smoke. I yearn to see your face again, without all of the others tangled up in my web of death.
     Come to me.

Check out Apex Publications this February for a new printing. (Gotta love that new book smell.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why Trilogy

Five years ago, I was decidedly anti-trilogy. I wonder if it isn't worth talking about why I'm writing one now.

Forms are fascinating to artisans and artists. Boiled to the core, a series of books is a dream that continues again upon a new sleep. A form of living ideas enhanced by the quantum matter of the space between them. Time spent resting, reading other things, resuming later when the mood strikes, the moon is high, and the mind is ready again.

There's this book I never finished reading except in stages, like a serial text. So dense and rich I had to rest. My bookmark lingered long. When I resumed the text I was lost. Sifting through the old pages, losing my place even as I tried to find, not the memory of events, but the flow of them in sound. It isn't that one needs to recall that the grandmother died saving the christening goose, but how it happened in the weight of the hours, days, and memories. No time for this, I went to work, made dinner, cleaned the house and walked away. No time to carry that dream. Returning again and again to grandmother's goose to read the book. When I got along a ways, all I could remember were the plot points that I had to scan so many times to read the text that I never kept the dream of things in mind. In other words, dense text, art and craftsmanship separated by design. Expectation of a reader with a life, appointments and assignments, who cannot hold a dream for six long months each night.

I ask less by my divisions that I may ask more inside each dream.

Paul Jessup calls them cuckoo's eggs. Imagine it as incubation. Rest a while and let the egg rest. Three memories made but each is only asking for a weekend or a week. taste this drink and think. taste again to believe. Taste one more time to love or hate or feel nothing after a meal that is divided into courses instead of a jambalaya melange.

Dig? Take a breath. Breathe. Think of all the possibilities, until the truth comes to strip it all away. Death hangs at the end of the road for Jona. Death is not quantum. Oh

O but think.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What Muppets Think

If Muppets could talk:

Hey, man, get your hand out of my ass!
Better to be dead than so disgraced
They tell me this is for the children
But all I see are old men, and cameras.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Let us not forget that MAZE is coming...

[...Maia Station struggles to survive the inhospitable winter in the maze, stumbles into a cave, finding...]

            Light flickered in the dark, a puff of neon cotton floating in the air like a wind-blown seed.

            It was speaking, I think. I could hear something like a voice at the edge of sound, pulsing like an engine in the background of the air.

            "Did you say something?" It hurt to speak. My throat burned. I was rasping. I couldn't understand myself. I thought I tasted blood in my throat from speaking.

            I listened closely.

            Put-me-in-your-lung-put-me-in-your-lung-put-me-in-your-lung-put me-in...

            "What are you?” My lips cracked, and I was bleeding. I licked at the blood with my tongue. It tasted good.


            I wanted to. I wanted to help the light. I had been a helpful person on the station, where we were friendly to each other and tried to help. Whatever it was, I couldn't help it. How could I help the light if I was dying? "No," I said. I curled away. I was in a strange land. I was starving to death. "You need to help me. I need food and water. I'm dying."


            The light came closer to me. I backed away farther.

            "Help me, and I'll help you."

            The light quieted, like it was thinking.


[...Coming in March from Apex Books...]

Thursday, January 6, 2011

off to maine...

try to keep me warm.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

High time for another contest...

I'm flying to Maine on Friday. So, on Thursday I can go to the post office and mail more books out into the world to folks who win the contest.

So, this feed starts in Blogger, then shoots out to livejournal, facebook, and twitter.

First two people to respond to me desiring one in each of these four places gets a book. (Unless you already got one!) If you notice that it looks like you're the first two to respond (Facebook is easy, Twitter is hard), do message me your address for the mailing.

Ready... Set... GO!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


As you can see, I seem to like her.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Been an exciting few weeks around here...

Still waiting for all the pictures and stuff, but some big things went down in my personal life. Both were very, very good things, and most everyone who is involved even peripherally already knows.

I'm furiously active trying to get all my stuff done before the fourth semester residency in Maine for my MFA. After this trip, next week, I'll be working on my thesis and final presentation to finalize the degree in July.

I'm engaged. That is really, really awesome.

I'm no longer working with the video game company. This is a good thing. I was relieved to be out of there. Losing one of my three jobs is not a big deal, at all. I'm an author, and a full-time grad student, after all!

But, I'm also looking for something new in the new year. I don't know how I feel about another video game studio right away. I don't want to go into too much detail here, but it was a strange experience and I suspect unlike what I'd encounter at a different studio. Maybe later I'll go into detail. Get me drunk at a convention, and I'm sure I'll go into more detail. At the moment, I'm looking for that third job. I think I should do some educating next.  So, if you're reading this, and need you some writing instruction at your institution, let me know. I'll certainly be poking around.

It rained all day. This is how the ground cleans off, and the roads wash away. I drove past the wrecked cars on the highway on my way home from my fiancee's parents' house, where I crashed in a guest bedroom instead of on the infamous I-285. I saw all these shattered Lexus' and SUVs and sportscars, abandoned in the night. I drove past in my modest gas-sipper, chugging on to a cafe where I worked on grad school and new fictions. I keep writing. I just keep writing. All these shattered dream cars are not mine. I live frugal, and live small, and I read books and I write them. Whether the storm is here or not, I do not lose my focus.

Nor should you: no matter what happens to you this year, remember to live your real life, not the one you wish you had or that you see other people having, and stay on budget, on target, and true to your values. Keep at your real work, and drive safe out there on these wet roads.